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July 09, 2020



The acid test of this new found commitment to freedom is the willingness to accept the consequences of ones own choices.

Ralph Musgrave

So Chris Dillow claims, without any supporting evidence, that “right-libertarians like racism…..more than small government.” Well if insults are the order of the day, my counter claim / insult is that the left absolutely adores gang rape and paedophilia. And unlike Chris, I have evidence to support my claim: after Naz Shah’s disgusting remarks about the need to let grooming gangs off the hook so as to promote diversity, far from being sacked, she was promoted.

Second, if Chris wants to present an INTELLIGENT argument against racism (and I’ve never seen one), he could start by defining the word. I say that because there’s not necessarily anything wrong with racism as per my Concise Oxford Dictionary definition.


"Also, left-libertarianism must empower local communities"

But only if these communities once empowered give that power to the Left. If they have the temerity to decide against Leftist nostrums them they will be rapidly un-empowered of course..........


My right-wing Thatcherite friends are keen on defunding the police too. Much happier to pay for local police to do things like investigating crime rather than doing social media.

Slavery was pretty universal until Tories like Burke started campaigning against it. And then there was the Empire, bringing rights, courts, votes, and proper governments everywhere. Please accept my sincere heartfelt apologies.

dilbert dogbert

Defund Politics!!!

Bill Bedford

One of the reasons that slavery was not vigorously defended in the UK was that most of the estates in the West Indies were worked out so there were no capital and few trading profits to be made.

Capitalist just lost interest in a system that was failing.


Localism presumably means local policy divergence - which can be a source of information.

Maybe BLM should be allowed to administer one troubled city, such as Detroit. There they can test out their policy prescriptions. If, after three years, their policies have clearly reduced the homicide rate, the experiment will be judged a success. If they’ve clearly raised it, the experiment will be judged a failure.


@ Bill Bedford - the UK didn't just lose interest in slavery, it actively fought against it.


This, from Corey Robin, is very apt:

"Conservatism, then, is not a commitment to limited government and liberty—or a wariness of change, a belief in evolutionary reform, or a politics of virtue. These may be the byproducts of conservatism, one or more of its historically specific and ever changing modes of expression. But they are not its animating purpose.

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not. When the libertarian looks out upon society, he does not see isolated individuals; he sees private, often hierarchical, groups, where a father governs his family and an owner his employees."

Whenever I hear the "but the empire was good" or defences of slavers and their descendents I bear this in mind in order to unpick the sophistry.


@ Bill Bedford.
You are right to point out that when capital saw no economic merit in slavery it was relaxed about it's inevitable end.The industrial revolution put paid to slavery, not righteous indignation.

Unlike Dipper who prefers to stress Britain's 'eventual' resort to force in the abolition of slavery, the truth was far murkier. The revolts on the plantations in the colonies shocked the British government. They realised the dangers of keeping slavery in the West Indies were too great. It was accept abolition or risk a widespread war.

It was only after parliamentary reform in 1832 that much of the pro slavery lobby was removed from parliament. Even then massive payments/bribes (billions in today's money) were paid to placate slavers and apprenticeships, (slavery by another name) were introduced.

Only protests finally forced the government to abolish the apprenticeship/slavery system in 1838.

And of course you'd need to be quite obtuse to fail to recognise that any considerations of moral values in the fight 'against' slavery by the British were more than matched by economic and territorial ambitions, impulses which brought forward partition and colonial rule in Africa in the late 19th century.


"We mustn't be misled by the right's loud assertion of a right to free speech. What they are really proclaiming is the "right" to spout rubbish without any comeback"

Depends on the comeback. You could have called Mary Queen Of Scots say, an inbred moose back in the day - but the comeback would have involved y'know, beheading.

Speech that in the current parlance "has consequences"is only really free speech for the suicidal, the utterly cavalier or the independently wealthy (and maybe the democratically elected - at least while in office.)


@ Paulc156

The UK wasn't dragged kicking and screaming to the abandonment of slavery, it was the first major nation to push for its abandonment and committed itself to fighting slavery wherever it found it. 'It was only after parliamentary reform in 1832 ... Only protests finally forced the government to abolish the apprenticeship/slavery system in 1838' well that's how democracies work.

'brought forward partition and colonial rule in Africa in the late 19th century.' it was Germany under Bismarck that kicked that one off. Following the annexation of Cameroon and Togo countries such as the UK were faced with watching Germany take over the whole continent or make its trading posts into formal colonies.

@TB '"but the empire was good"' this is politics as done by 12 year olds. Empire was a massive enterprise. Viewed from our vantage point today, some actions were good, some not. Some consequences were good, some not. would you say that the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 shows independence for African states was a bad idea?


"The UK wasn't dragged kicking and screaming to the abandonment of slavery"
Straw man argument.

Of course the fact that slavers required a sum of cash that at the time amounted to half the annual government budget in order to refrain from trade in the shipment of slaves might suggest some serious and powerful opposition to abolition at least amongst the powerful and influential.

It seems as if you prefer to look on slavery and the British as some sort of moral awakening in the 19thC on behalf of the elites who had pioneered and driven slavery with such zeal for 200 years and now wanted to amend for the past. Not a commercially driven change of heart, heaven forbid!

This was pretty much what was taught in our schools through the remaining days of empire and until right after the end of the colonial project. Fortunately it is now a rather discredited and outdated view.

Even the notorious Belgian King Leopold's expressed anti-slavery rhetoric...just not the practice so much. And were the British so different?

They employed widespread use of indentured, forced and migrant labor schemes(including from Portuguese territories), which for all intents and purposes were slavery and these practices were of course frequently associated with acts of great barbarity.

...but of course it was no longer actually 'slavery' as that had been abolished. Now it was part of a civilising mission, or 'white man's burden' where the otherwise 'lazy' and 'childlike' negro commonly referred to as 'boy', could instead be 'coerced' to 'offer' their labour for their own 'benefit'. And should they be worked to death in the process or required by laws enacted to 'require' their cooperation or taxes to necessitate their labouring then so be it.

Yes we fought to end slavery, so we could preserve it in a different form without mass transportation via ships until we could no longer afford to fight at all. Then we set about erasing the worst excesses of the project as in Kenya and left it to court historians to gloss over the whole affair.


@ Paulc156

You seem to be trying very hard to make some point about the UK's uniqueness in Slavery when the only uniqueness was in working to end it. Slavery was universal up to and during the 18th century - eg Helen Gloag who was a Scot taken as a slave by north African pirates and became queen of Morocco. It is only a short leap in time to the UK leading the fight to end it.

Of course people with business interests in slavery were compensated. Slavery was a legal business. Hence when it became illegal those who had been previously translating legal businesses could reasonably expect to be compensated.

Slavery in Africa continued well into the 19th century primarily through Arab Slavery. Mohammed himself owned, bought, and sold slaves. I await your condemnation of Mohammed and Arab nations for their involvement in the slave trade.

Underlying your criticism of slavery is the notion that all people are equal and have rights. I would invite you to consider the history of how the notion of human rights came about, and who introduced it.

Meanwhile Shaka Zulu is revered as a great leader of the Zulu people. There is even a statue of him in Camden. So, quick quiz. Is Shaka revered for a) introducing the concept of human rights and equality into Southern African politics? or b) slaughtering other tribes and increasing Zulu rule over them? You don't even have to look it up do you.


"What would anti-statist leftism look like?"

It is called anarchism has been been around longer than Marxism. I'm surprised a Marxist does not know this -- after all, Marx attacked Proudhon and Bakunin for being against... the so-called Workers' state.

An anarchist also coined the term "libertarian" in 1857 which the American right decided to steal 100 years later to describe their defence of private power.

So some acknowledgement of libertarian socialism would be nice -- particularly as we were proved right about Statist socialism.


Your original intention seemed to be to laud Britain's magnificent collective efforts to end slavery (despite never ending it but perpetuating it by another name). Your last post was more of a shoulder shrug accompanied by "everyone was at it and hey it was legit back then!"


@ Paulc156

well ... I'm not keen on the current line of 'left' argument that the British Empire was some kind of horror matched only by Nazism that has left the White English Working class with a guilt they inherit at birth that justifies their position at the bottom of the rung of life in the UK. The cherry picking that goes on is not in any way rigorous or in any way conducive to proper argument.

Take the issue of concentration camps in South Africa in the Boer War. Kitchener set these up as part of his campaign against the guerrilla campaign being waged by the Boers. Emily Hobhouse complained loudly about the conditions and deaths. Many in the UK complained loudly about her undermining the war effort. The government sent Millicent Fawcett off to do a whitewash report. She came back and said these conditions are really really bad. Women and children are dying unnecessarily. The government moved camp control out of the hands of the army and conditions improved. For me, all the people involved in that were part of Empire, and I would suggest the success of the Empire lay in the constant arguments and debates that went on about its conduct, hence giving it an ability to adapt that more authoritarian regimes lacked. Diving back and saying this was good and that was bad seems an arrogant and superior act that puts those making the judgements on a pedestal of superiority unjustified by any argument or evidence. Surely the lesson is that everyone is complicit in the judgements and calculations that produce imperfect actions and outcomes, not that we are good and they were bad?

At the heart of any nation is the story of its foundation. We are attached to our democracy because our ancestors fought for it. The people who formed that narrative are not all good people and understanding that they did things that in the light of current views are not things we would support is an important part of understanding ourselves and our current society, and our ability to shape its development.

George Carty


It seems to me like the problem with the white English working class is that they don't really _have_ any culture that they can identify as their own, and I can't help feeling that the Empire has a lot to do with that.

Perhaps it was because in most European nations took their rural peasantry to be exemplars of their culture, but England couldn't do this because it had largely eliminated its peasantry as a class via a combination of agricultural mechanization, and the offshoring of food production to the New World (not just to colonies but also to the USA and the Southern Cone countries: think Fray Bentos).

Another possibility is that the English threw themselves so wholeheartedly into the project of Empire that their old national and regional cultures were washed away: I'm increasingly likening the UK to Imperial Germany, with England playing the role of Prussia and Scotland (which has a much more identifiable culture than England) that of Bavaria. Note that innocent stereotypes of Germans tend to mostly be southern (think Lederhosen and dirndls, oom-pah bands, beer halls and engineering brilliance) while the negative stereotypes tend to be Prussian (warmongers and arrogant aristocrats).


@ George. There's lots of regional WWC culture. Quite a lot of it is not pretty, but it is a culture. People are very attached to their regions and their country.

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