Saturday, November 18, 2006

Libertarian Blogs and Voter Contempt 1

Both George Bush Snr and a close Tony Blair adviser have blamed bloggers for increasing voter apathy and contempt for politicians. Iain Dale jeers, arguing that the disrespectful tone of the blog is the fault of the politicians. All agree that bloggers tend to be disrespectful, anti-establishment and libertarian. I have a problem with the word 'libertarian'. I don't know what it means. Of course, we're all in favour of liberty, but also we all know there must be limits to liberty. Is a libertarian, therefore, somebody who merely gives a conventional banality a posh name? Or is he somebody who believes in no limits to liberty, a full-blooded anarchist? Neither posture is remotely interesting, so why would anybody claim to be a libertarian? It is certainly true that many political bloggers say they are libertarian, but this just seems to be a label intended to give respectability to the fun they are having trashing politicians. And this is where we come to the heart of the matter. But more than one post is involved and I shall now take some time to consider the content of the second.


  1. The real purpose of the Brothers in Arms ie US and Britain's dual pronged attack on the blogger issue is presumably part of the crucial issue attempt to wrestle back control of information and hence of people's minds which has been eroded hugely thanks to the internet. As for libertarian, I too am in ignorance though fittingly the word is too dull to waste time looking up properly-"Because you are neither hot nor cold I spit you out of my mouth." Perhaps if they altered it to "Libertaryan- Someone who believes in the principles of free speech but also upholds the racial superiority of the Aryan race", then it might arouse stronger feelings. It has clearly failed in its duty as a word so far and so a reincarnation is in order.

  2. Here's one suggestion: libertarian is the opposite of totalitarian; both creeds accept that there must be limits to individual freedom, but the former believes that those limits should be established by a bottom-up process of spontaneous self-organisation, whilst the latter believes that those limits should be established by a top-down process in which a government imposes rules upon the individuals. The difference, therefore, lies in the nature of the process by which individual limits are to be established.

    What we actually have in a 'liberal democracy' is a pragmatic combination of both top-down and bottom-up. Maintaining the balance between these two processes is paramount.

  3. Right, I see.
    Bloggers are causing these silly people (politicians) to look ridiculous by pointing out what a bunch of sanctimonious, humourless, self-serving, power-hungry, priggish, mendacious, mediocrities they are. And we must be stopped from doing it because increasing numbers of people might be alerted to the truth.

  4. Given the nature of my three longer posts today, I agree with this comment:

    ...presumably part of the crucial issue attempt to wrestle back control of information and hence of people's minds which has been eroded hugely thanks to the internet...

    Very much so. As for libertarian - there's really no consensus I've seen around the various blogs although David Farrer had a stab at it with his chart.

    Libertarian, to me, means as much freedom as we can manage without definite danger e.g. paedophiles.

  5. Read Tibor Machan's
    "Libertarianism Defended" for a good explanation of what libertarians stand for.

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