I wrote this as a letter to a UKIP member who failed to understand my position on libertarians. The last few days show what happen when a libertarian party allows the FOS without responsibility that the rest of society expects. We have two of your senior members shaming the party and not really seeing what they have done wrong. You have let the racists in and now they rule the roost!
UKIP you have long used the idea of libertarianism to “defend”, I use this word intentionally as you do not explain, your position on a range of issues from child care to racism via climate change and stalking. This is my response an open letter to which you may, or may not reply.
This definition of a libertarian, which your members posted in response to a discussion on racism, is a seductive thing, who would deny the desire to have free will, certainly not any right thinking individual. But I would argue this idea of “free will” is not as seductive as it first appears. I believe that you are sincere in your belief that libertarianism holds the key to a prosperous and peaceful future for all, however what I see is a system that to all intents and purposes is one of the most selfish of all political philosophies. One that UKIP, has flirted with since its conception and yet many of your supporters have no knowledge or appreciation of.
You believe that Libertarians cannot be racist or sexist as you are repelled by the very idea of categorising people by type. Moreover, that because of your belief in free will, you would never challenge any one who does because they are entitled to that view. Therefore people are both entitled to withhold services on the basis of gender, race or sexuality and to hold the view that some people are inferior to others based on gender, race and sexuality. I accept that you may find that persons views as abhorrent as I do and I do not believe that you share those views. What I cannot accept is how you, as a libertarian, feel that the solution to this is to do nothing. That the state and indeed the individual has no authority to use its monopoly of “force” to interfere in the transactions between people or in the ways that their views may affect these transactions.
I once asked a ukip member how a school should deal with child A, who pointing to child B’s skin says “ I don’t like your colour my dad says people of your colour are bad”. I was told that by Caroline Santos that she bought her own children up to be confident and to see such people as silly. I was accused of being authoritarian for expecting the school to take action. For you there is no role for the state, for state read school, in such issues. That it was for the parents of child A to educate them and those of child B to ensure that they accepted that other people held such views but that they are “silly” and to ignore them. This is the libertarian viewpoint of “Free Will” and it the one espoused by UKIP supporters when they argue for the need to remove equality legislation. The belief that all are individuals that there are no categories of people and therefore no need to offer collective protection for groups that do not exist.
I fundamentally disagree with this and not as Daniel Hannan believes because I am a leftist and do not understand that you are not against anyone. But because, Caroline, you believe that that free will for the individual has more value, is more important and takes priority over the protections for the individual that the state big, and small, offers us all. I would argue that in a libertarian state at some point child B will leave the protection of her home and have to deal with those whose views are not libertarian, she may be refused accommodation, be discriminated against in employment or in law. Whilst child A who has not learnt at home the fundamentals of libertarian ideals or been sanctioned for her learnt prejudices will go out into society and use any power “force” that she has to remove the individual rights of others.
That UKIP has taken aspects of libertarianism whist ignoring others like the freedom of movement is to be expected. UKIP would argue that we cannot have freedom of movement whilst there is a state providing benefits or wages beyond that provided by other states. I would argue that we cannot use libertarianism to defend inaction in the face of racism, sexism and homophobia whilst the “free will” of many is to collectively group people together and discriminate against them. The state is there to ensure that individuals do not lose out socially or economically for something over which they have no control be it the colour of their skin, their gender or their sexuality
Caroline you said this about me last night..
“I see someone with issues-someone full of bitterness & hatred-someone who manipulates and bully’s! Using racism as trump card”
How wrong you are I see those who discriminate against the individual, for being in a group that they did not chose, as people to be pitied, how they must miss out on the richness of life, how they must fear the future. I feel safe in the knowledge that, although not ideal, there is indeed a state and that should their attitudes impinge on my life in any concrete way that state will sanction them.
Caroline racism, sexism, homophobia these are not trump cards, to be dismissed as isms by those who value individual free will over society. These are things that adversely affect people’s life prospects. Things that demean the individual and take away the holy grail of libertarians the right to determine a contract to exchange your skills for reward without interference. The libertarian believes that interference emanates from the state, I would argue that in fact the reality is that for many the interference is from the individual and is the state and others responsibility to ensure that one person’s free will is not held above the rights of all individuals not to be labelled by circumstances of birth.
UKIP to ignore racism and not to confront is to make one complicit. Furthermore one cannot use a political philosophy that only a few believe in to apply to a wider society that clearly does not believe in individual equality under the law. This is not to say you’re racist, but rather hopelessly naïve and indeed selfish.
once I once read Ayn Rand, putting aside the fact that her seminal work has been appropriated by the EDL loving Pamela Geller, I have also read her essay of 1963 on Racism where I assume you get your views, on quotas and free will. When writing about the demands of civil rights leaders for schools to admit black students she says
“That absurdly evil policy is destroying the moral base of the Negroes’ fight. Their case rested on the principle of individual rights. If they demand the violation of the rights of others” by this she means take away the rights of others to hold racist views and refuse to allow their white children to associate with black children “they negate and forfeit their own”
UKIP I leave you with a quote from Isaiah Berlin in his essay of 1958, Two Concepts of Liberty taken from an excellent essay by George Monbiot
“no man’s activity is so completely private as never to obstruct the lives of others in any way. ‘Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows’”. So, he argued, some people’s freedom must sometimes be curtailed “to secure the freedom of others”
Next time you see a racist on twitter or indeed as a friend on your face book page consider this; not everyone is a libertarian who holds everyone as equal and as such we owe it to individuals to ensure that the characteristics that they are born with, are not used to hinder their progress by individuals who choose their racist , sexist or homophobic viewpoints.
Perhaps UKIP you should consider that one of the great moral and political philosophies has been the idea of a social contract and yet you are as a party fail to recognise this in many ways.