Southampton University Libertarian Society

We’re Affiliated! by sotonlibertarians
May 23, 2010, 12:20 am
Filed under: News, The Society

The Southampton University Freedom Society is now a fully affiliated member of the Southampton University Student’s Union.

We’ll be holding our AGM this Thursday. Check Facebook for details. I’ll probably be building our website in the Uni webspace over the summer. It will have a new blog. Hopefully with more than one contributor 😉 Some of these posts may or may not get migrated.

A monopoly on Morality and Praxis by sconzey
March 11, 2010, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Libertarianism, Views

The lovely Bella Gerens complains that Leftism is easy, because the Left claims a monopoly on both morality and praxis —

The left wing is the fashionable, the powerful, the self-styled intellectual faction of our modern West. It self-represents as the pinnacle of both reason (‘we are right’) and emotion (‘we are good’).

Even the right acknowledge that those on the Left are basically good people, that their hearts are in the right place, and the only grounds for disagreement with Leftism is whether or not the ends justify the means.

The Leftists are winning. Apart from the brief foray into Reaganism/Thatcherism, the progress over the last fifty years has been towards more and more State intervention. The poor are getting richer and the starving are being fed, but this is in spite of government, not because of it.

The ideological dominance of Progressivism has given rise to a certain kind of Liberal — Libertarians today are expert and attacking the Left. We point out the messed up incentives in the welfare state, we point to the waste and inflexibility in the NHS. Every proposal they make, every new initiative, we have an answer to, yet they’re still winning.

Why? Because whilst Libertarians can hack at the branches of Leftism — the new laws and initiatives — we’ve conceded the roots; we’ve conceded that Leftists are good people, and that Leftism is a correct ideology.

This is wrong. It is we who have the monopoly on both the good and the correct:
On Morality: Ayn Rand has made the moral case for capitalism — a man enslaved to the needs of his brothers is as much as slave as he is to the plantation-owner.

On Praxis: Liberal Capitalism is the best method not just for sating our evil capitalist greed, but for achieving all those things the Left claim to hold dear too.

  • Abolishing absolute poverty: Liberal Capitalist economies have seen rising wages and decreasing costs of living over the past two hundred years.
  • Increasing human happiness: Liberal Capitalism permits individuals to make their own decisions about what makes them happy, rather than having a one-size-fits-all definition imposed on them.
  • World Peace: Economic freedom is strongly correlated with peace and political stability. If men are trading with eachother, they will not fight.
  • Environmental Protection: Economic Freedom is strongly correlated with increased environmental protection.
  • Working time and Child Labour: The most free countries in the world can afford to abolish child labour, and have shorter working hours.
  • Universal Healthcare: Liberal Capitalism brings new healthcare innovations to extend life expectancy, and makes old ones cheaper and affordable to all. Those in the most free countries can expect to live 20 years longer than those in the least free.

It’s time to stop attacking Leftism; it’s time to stop being the nay-sayers, the no-voters, the abstainers and rejectionists. Classical Liberalism has the potential to achieve everything Progressives desire, and empirical evidence clearly demonstrating past success. Lets sell Liberalism to the Left.

What exactly do Labour have against the poor? by sconzey

Caveat Lector: These views are my own, and do not reflect current or planned LPUK policy. Originally posted here.

Alcohol duty?


Right, we all know that consumption taxes are regressive if not done correctly. Specifically, consumption taxes are regressive on goods with low demand-elasticity — things where people’s demand does not vary much with price; essentials like bread and (in the west) meat, and cigarettes and alcohol.

As a poor student, going out much is out of the question, but a bottle of plonk in front of a movie with the significant other makes a pretty damned good substitution. For those poorer than I, vodka and supermarket cola is a cheaper alternative to wine.

Now Labour want to double the price of alcohol, in the name of “tackling binge drinking.” FFS: can’t you see that thanks to your regressive taxation and burdensome regulation, getting rat-arsed on cheap supermarket booze and passing out under a bench with your hand down some skank’s skirt is the only entertainment some people can afford?

Labour, far from being the “party of the poor”: you have done more damage to the worst off in our society than even the most reprehensible of the cold-hearted capitalists of Dickensian London. Only the puritans of prohibition New York could be more evil; those who saw society’s poorest dying, poisoned in the streets through drinking alcohol cut with strychinine while the richest quaffed Scotland’s finest:

  • Consumption Taxes on spirits and tobacco rapes the pockets of those enjoying Englands last two legal vices.
  • Fiscal drag — inflating the economy with cheap credit whilst not raising tax thresholds, effectively dragging more and more of the real income of society’s most vulnerable into the pockets of the political elites.
  • Drug Prohibition fuels gang violence, prevents those with serious problems from getting the help they need and criminalises whole generations of young people in our inner cities.
  • Minimum wage forces society’s most vulnerable — those who’s contributions to the labour market are minimal, like students and the disabled — out of the labour market altogether, forcing them to rely on the charity of others, or state benefits.
  • Working week mandates prevent the diligent and hard-working from recieving their fair share of the compensation for their efforts.
  • Entrenchment of Unions leading to seniority-based promotion, and a more inflexible workforce, which in turn leads to lower wages for the able, and more dismissal of the less able, as well as other negative effects.
  • The NHS is a doyenne of the altruistic left, yet society’s poorest, those least able to pay for private healthcare would — in some cases — be treated better in the Third World.

I could go on — complex regulation preventing the poor from setting up their own business, tax on petrol penalising those who cannot afford a new car and must commute long distances — but I won’t.

Vote the same, get the same.

The true party of the proliteriat, the only party which will stand up for the common man against the monopolists and moochers, is the UK Libertarian Party.

The Seven Types of Charity by sconzey
February 17, 2010, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Philosophy, Views | Tags: , ,
  1. The greatest form of charity is to gainfully employ another, or purchase the useful produces of his labour, for if he can live of the fruits of his labour, he need never beg again.
  2. A lesser form of charity is to give another a gift or a business loan, for the purchase of plant, frontage or any other capital necessary  or any training necessary in seeking gainful employment, for if he can live of the fruits of his labour, he need never beg again.
  3. A lesser form of charity is to give another in a time of need a gift in generous spirit, and with no obligation, for we all stumble at times, and need the help of another to get back on our feet.
  4. A still lesser form of charity is to give to a trusted organisation for a specific purpose, for whilst they may misuse it, you may not give again.
  5. A still lesser form of charity is to give unwillingly – either in mean spirit or on obligation – for a gift in mean spirit is no kind of gift at all.
  6. A still lesser form of charity is to support another entirely through charity with no obligations, for such encourages irresponsibility and dulls the spirit.
  7. It is no kind of charity at all to compel another to give through manipulation or coercion, no matter how worthy the cause.

With apologies to Maimonides.

The concept of a “gateway drug” is a logical fallacy by sconzey

Now, here’s why: suppose you didn’t like fox hunting, a peculiar British sport where country-dwellers dress in red and gallop across fields on horseback with a pack of dogs after a fox. It’s been banned in this country, but many similar activites are still legal such as chasing a pre-laid trail of fox musk, or chasing a toy doped in fox musk and dragged by another horse. All very well and good, economic substitution at work, however a small amount of illegal hunting continues.

It comes to your attention that everyone who participates in illegal fox hunting started off by learning to ride horses, so you ban horse riding — it’s clearly a gateway to illegal fox hunting.

“But that’s stupid!” you cry, “And nothing to do with drugs!”

But wait: Here are the facts — nearly everyone who currently does heroin started off with a “soft” drug such as ecstasy or cannabis.

You can argue about this two ways — that smoking dope makes you more likely to shoot up smack, or that the kind of people who shoot up smack are the kind of people who would start off smoking dope.

Both result in the same correlative evidence, but one is a causal relationship, and the other isn’t. How would you tell the difference?

Back to fox hunting. There are large numbers of people who participate in riding-related activities that aren’t fox hunting. If riding did really “cause” fox-hunting, then we would expect a far greater number of people who do riding also doing fox-hunting.

Now consider drugs; consider drugs in Portugal, where both cannabis and heroin have similarly declassified legal statuses. In 2006, heroin use occurence amongst 16-18 year olds was 1.8% and cannabis occurence was 15.1%, using Bayes law, even assuming that every heroin user also used cannabis, and in the knowledge that heroin and cannabis use do not equate to usage, the probability that any given cannabis-user also uses heroin is 0.12. Interestingly, when drugs were decriminalised in 2001, heroin usage dropped, and cannabis usage rose, strongly implying a fact that seems obvious when applied to horse riding:

If horse riding were illegal, then less people would ride horses, but those who did ride, as they were already breaking the law, would be more inclined to participate in fox hunting.

The evidence from statistics in favour of the “gateway drug” concept is weak indeed, but argument from anecdote is weaker still. I saw a program the other week where a panel discussed the potential legalisation of drugs, and despite having some excellent rationalists on both sides (Tim Carpenter of LPUK is the only one I can remember), the debate devolved into an argument between a medical-marijuana user and a former drug addict.

Come on gentlemen.

Grow up.

Repost of something I already wrote here.

More from Ayn Rand by sconzey
February 11, 2010, 12:12 pm
Filed under: Philosophy, Views

That woman had quite a literary gift. This is an excerpt from Atlas Shrugged:

Society Update by sotonlibertarians
February 8, 2010, 4:40 pm
Filed under: News, The Society | Tags: , , , , , , ,

On Thursday there was a joint meeting of the Southampton University Libertarian Society and the Hampshire branch of LPUK; the overlap of which turned out to be considerable. There was much drinking, and some delicious cheese and bacon burgers, and lots of arguing about education policy, foreign policy and monetary policy.

Strategies were discussed for promoting Liberalism in Hampshire and at Southampton University. It was estimated that 25 signatories could be found — enough to start the society with SUSU affiliation. Some ideas for events were discussed, including “How to Have Fun and Not Die,” a smoking-marquee, and lectures on the Philosophy of Liberty; the LGBT Society, the Conservative Society and the Feminist Society were suggested as potential co-hosts for events.

Jonathan has forwarded the draft constitution to the Societies Officer at SUSU, and we’re down to attend the SDC meeting on the 19th for entry into the three-meetings rule.

Any comments/criticisms/suggestions on the Constitution to go to sconzey at gmail dot com

Ayn Rand’s Howard Rourke on Creativity by sconzey
February 8, 2010, 12:33 am
Filed under: Libertarianism, Philosophy, Views | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Open Contracts: A Market Anarchist Theory of Advertising by sconzey
January 22, 2010, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Philosophy, Views | Tags: , , , ,

In discussions with Statists, regulation of advertising is commonly raised as an objection to market anarchism. The argument goes that false advertising used to be a serious problem, but thanks to ex ante regulation, companies are prevented from using advertising which is obscene or misleading.

On the face of it, this is a serious problem. Suppose landowners used ex ante regulations to control advertising on their property. When property holdings are large, this is a reasonable proposition; in the case of a for-profit metropolitan company for instance, it is entirely reasonable that consumers be aware of the company’s advertising policy. However when passing through unfamiliar property, or when holdings are small, how can a consumer be expected to know the constraints placed on the truthfulness of advertising? Indeed, this very problem is still largely unsolved on the great unregulated Internet.

The reader should be familiar with that staple of market anarchist theory, the Private Defence Agency; both police and armed forces, an Agency protects their subscribers’ personal and private property, as well as enforcing their contracts, settling disagreements between subscribers in an arbitration court and then enforcing the decisions. When a dispute arises between the customers of two different PDAs, a pre-agreed arbitration court, or one nominated by the two disputers is used, with both PDAs agreeing to abide by it’s decisions.

The solution to the problem of false advertising is clear then: if a company believes that the claims they use in their advertising would stand up in a court of law, they place the logo of their PDA subtly on the advert, signalling that it is not just an advert, but an open contract between them and whoever buys their product or uses their services.

The problem of obscenity in advertising is much harder one, because people have no right not to be offended. I think this can satisfactorily be left to civil society, to ensure that most places enforce minimum standards of conduct and behaviour.

Reflections on “that” Question Time by sconzey
October 23, 2009, 6:43 pm
Filed under: Current Affairs

Listening to some people call in to Radio One, and reading a statement from Nick Griffin reposted by the times, it seems that the beeb have played right into the hands of the BNP narrative of “the left-liberal media trying to silence the troof”.

Lets face it, most britons — as Bonnie Greer said — find the BNP’s historical narrative and philosophical foundation fundementally unpaletable. There was no way Nick Griffin was — through his oratorical prowess — going to sway the opinions of vast swathes of the british public.

The Beeb could have done one of two things with the question time: they could have had a “business as usual” affair, whereby current affairs questions were asked to a panel, with Mr Griffin providing a slightly unusual perspective. As it was, they chose the second option: “Lynch the Racist” whereby the questions and audience members chosen were intended to establish the narrative that the BNP are crazy racists.

In my opinion, the first option would have been more damaging. Those who are willing to believe that the BNP are crazy racists already think so; QT was preaching to the choir. The problem was that along with the actual crazy racists, those viewers at home with slightly racist views were tarred with the same brush and a few hundred marginal voters felt a little more affinity for the party.

However their policies on immigration are not the most ludicrous thing about the party, and indeed many of their most ludicrous sail dangerously close to Old Labour territory: Unions, Protectionism, Public Ownership, etc.

A lot of people think something like “Them immigrants; taking our jobs,” and yelling “RACIST!” at them isn’t terribly constructive. Carefully explaining that whilst a job-loss is a terrible thing, it is this same process worldwide which means they can pop into Curries and buy a widescreen TV for a few months wages is a much better option.