I\’ve never liked Tim Montgomerie

And I\’m beginning to realise why that first instinctive prejudice was correct.

The big mistake made by libertarians is to assume that economic and social liberalism go together. Liberal capitalism requires social conservatism.

Apparently the buying and selling of apples and pears in a market requires that adult men must not stick their cocks up each others\’ bums.

I have to say that I really can\’t see it, don\’t get the relevance of one to the other.

I can see conservatism in both being logically sound: you adults can only do what we say you can. I can see liberalism, libertarianism, being logically sound: consenting adults get to do what consenting adults wish to do as long as it\’s not frightening the horses.

But I really cannot see that in this corner of life consenting adults are just fine and over in this corner of it they may only do what Tim Mongomerie thinks should be allowable. That\’s as nutty as the social liberals and economic conservatives over on the left who insist that the bumchummery is so admirable it should be promoted while the selling of apples is so dangerously close to that trade that no respectable person would do and therefore must be banned.

You\’re either a liberal and consider your fellow adults to be adults capable of acting like adults or you don\’t.

21 comments on “I\’ve never liked Tim Montgomerie

  1. Well, logically sound may be one thing, but there are large numbers of people who either describe themselves as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal”, or spend money like water, sponsor any number of one-legged black lesbian groups, but try to shout down speakers of which they disapprove while screaming “Racist!”. The fact that there are large numbers of above might indicate that hating them might be a little self-defeating…..

  2. Didn’t St Maggie say something similar, to the effect that the amoral nature of markets required a moral overlay from the participants in those markets (those participants sometimes being collectively referred to as ‘society’)?

  3. Beware of adjectives – somebody is trying to pass off one thing as another.

    Let’s stick to Conservatism; Socialism; Democracy; Liberalism; Capitalism – without the qualifiers.

    Let us make sure they have capital letters so they are proper nouns, have established, obvious identities and mean what they mean.

    We don’t have things like Christian Jews, Liberal Nazis, or Communist Democrats do we, because that would be absurd?

  4. Good on you Mr. Worstall for calling out Tim Montgomerie. The agenda of the Conservative Christian Fellowship deserves ongoing exposure.

  5. I quite agree. Tim Montgomerie is as equally misled in this area as Mr Murphy et al are when it comes to economic matters.

  6. John B – I think what you wrote would surprise Cardinal Aaron Jean-Marie Lustiger, the archbishop of Paris…

    It’s not clear to me that nouns are any less ‘fuzzy’ than adjectives – even when capitalised!

  7. Indeed, Tim, but this is a widespread belief system. The idea is that “capitalism” can only work under a very specific set of social rules, which quelle surprise are the Second Wave Puritan rules of the nineteenth century cultural revolution. Central to this cranky idea is the “Protestant Work Ethic” which Montgomerie mentions, ignoring that historically the invention of “capitalism” is generally credited to Italian Catholic merchants.

    The problem for post-Puritans like Monty is that capitalism is, contrary to Weber, not based on the work ethic. It’s actually antithetical to the work ethic. What drives capitalist growth is the impulsion to get the same or greater output for a lesser labour input. If you apply this “work ethic” you end up focussed on creating “jobs” instead of production.

    At which point, you begin to realise that the ideological difference between the likes of Monty and Murphy can barely be separated by a cigarette paper.

  8. Ian B,
    Insightful stuff, and it does chime with Tim’s constant ‘jobs are a cost not a benefit’ theme.

    But while I understand the economics of it (I believe), there is an overwhelming body of evidence that says unemployment drives depression, etc. So more broadly, jobs are A Very Good Thing and points to ‘more output for same labour/redirected labour’ as preferable to ‘same output for less labour’.

    In sort, jobs matter, and you will know that directly if you’ve ever ben unamployed for any length of time. I was off for c.10 weeks once many years ago and it nearly killed me.

  9. Gary, yes, I do have experience of unemployment, and for a lot longer than 10 weeks. But really the problem isn’t a lack of employment. It’s a lack of production. The whole employment ideology actually tends to encourage people to sit around and wait for somebody else to provide a “job” for them, because it’s somebody else’s responsibility to do so.

    Jobs are a by-product of production, not the purpose of it.

    The end consequence of this value system is the kind of hardcore Third Wave Puritan like Murphy. Their ideal is that everyone should have a job and work very hard, but ideally produce very little (so there is no sinful luxury) and just have enough to live on, but no more, with most of what they do produce confiscated by the State and awarded back to them as virtuous things like housing and nothing sinful like beer.

    Whereas the intent of capitalism is to work as little as possible producing sufficient output to trade with others to get as much stuff as you want, be it housing, beer or skittles.

    So a proper Capitalist wants to employ as few people as possible for a desired output, a Puritan wants to employ a specific number of people for a constrained output. The two ideologies are entirely incompatible.

  10. Apologies if I came across as an inverted snob claiming the high high ground. Not where I was heading. I was trying to get from systemic/structural to individual welfare and the lived experience.

    What I was getting as was yes, the capitalist wants fewer people for the output and that goods for him and should be supported.

    But there is another legitimate criteria for decision making, and that’s welfare, of which employment is a known critical factor. To the extent employment is ignorned, a key driver of welfare is also ignored. This is always and everywhere a suboptimal outcome.

  11. John B

    We don’t have things like Christian Jews, Liberal Nazis, or Communist Democrats do we, because that would be absurd?

    But we do have libertarian communists, apparently. (In the second paragraph, below the photo.

  12. CIngram

    Yes, we do. The political spectrum isn’t a flat line… it’s a circle.. and those who call themselves anarchists, and, and claim to be on the far left, are uncomfortably (for them) close to the libetarians. Both actually strive for something which looks pretty similar.

    The realisation that people don’t need a giant interfering state to run their lives isn’t exclusive to folk on the right.

  13. John B – “We don’t have things like Christian Jews, Liberal Nazis, or Communist Democrats do we, because that would be absurd?”

    We certainly have Christian Jews. I can even imagine Liberal Nazis. And Democrats who want a Communist outcome are commonplace. Stupid, but common. People rarely like to be consistent or logical in their beliefs.

  14. I think TimW is being a little hard on TimM. I assume his point is not that we need laws to prevent adult males sticking their penises up each others backsides, but that modern capitalist society needs adults to restrain themselves from behaving in certain ways in order for things to work properly. That is, to have a modern economy, it works best when economically liberal, but socially conservative.

    This is a commonplace observation among the Socially Conservative Right going back to De Toqueville. Who was a Liberal in the TimW sense, not the modern American sense.

    We can test this because some people have performed this experiment for us. Black America is actually socially quite conservative. But Black Americans do not behave that way. Does anyone seriously suggest that a modern technological society would be possible if we all behaved the way that urban Blacks in the US behave? Middle class society requires people to spend long years studying hard and putting off things like having children. If we were all out having and abandoning sprogs left, right and centre, do you think we could continue to also produce doctors, lawyers and engineers? Or to put it more bluntly, if Malcolm X got his way and Black Americans got to form their own country, does anyone doubt that it would be worse off than Haiti? It would be African-poor and in fact they might well all starve to death?

    No doubt that’s racist, but is it true?

    On the other hand, marriage is going out of fashion in the West, but the one group of people who still get married before having children are University graduates. Does anyone doubt that no matter what they say in the Guardian, the Upper Middle Class remains socially very conservative? And perhaps these two things go together – the social conservatism, perhaps, making them Upper Middle Class rather than the other way around?

    So if TimM is talking about stoning adulterers, face palm. But if he is pointing out it is still important to be married before having children, well, who would argue with that?

  15. “That is, to have a modern economy, it works best when economically liberal, but socially conservative.”

    As (I think) Voltaire said: “liberty is the luxury of self discipline.”

  16. “Black America is actually socially quite conservative. But Black Americans do not behave that way. Does anyone seriously suggest that a modern technological society would be possible if we all behaved the way that urban Blacks in the US behave? Middle class society requires people to spend long years studying hard and putting off things like having children. If we were all out having and abandoning sprogs left, right and centre, do you think we could continue to also produce doctors, lawyers and engineers?”

    Ignoring the racial element for now, you get the underclass you pay for. If ‘bad’ behaviour (not working, promiscuous behaviour, dropping out of education) is enabled by society giving a plentiful supply of benefits to those who behave in that way (and there’s plenty of white folks who are just the same) guess what you get?

    Lots more bad behaviour thats what. Black or white, the underclass would soon cotton to what was required if the cash stopped flowing. Middle class behaviour (bettering yourself through education, hard work etc) only occurred because the alternative was poverty (and I mean real poverty not pretend poverty as defined these days), the poor house, the gutter, and an early grave. That is what the working classes were desperate to avoid, and the best way to do so was to ape the behaviours of those who had avoided it, the middle classes.

    If the consequences of being in the benefit system were nasty enough to make people want to avoid it, then they would start doing things to do so. While it remains a system whereby the main human needs are supplied at tolerable levels for zero input, you will continue to have significant numbers of people who are prepared to put up with it in a trade off for being able to indulge their other more pleasurable anti-social behaviours.

  17. Jim – “Ignoring the racial element for now, you get the underclass you pay for. If ‘bad’ behaviour (not working, promiscuous behaviour, dropping out of education) is enabled by society giving a plentiful supply of benefits to those who behave in that way (and there’s plenty of white folks who are just the same) guess what you get?”

    You state that as if it was not merely a fact but a simple fact. It is obviously more complex than that. Gypsies live in communities that have no problems producing doctors and engineers. But they do not. They have the same incentives everyone else does, but their culture values them differently. Which applies in Black America I am not sure.

    “Black or white, the underclass would soon cotton to what was required if the cash stopped flowing.”

    The advantage of talking about Blacks is that the community is so readily identifiable. But the White community has poor White trash that is no better off. Even though exposed to the same set of incentives. What is more, what is going on here is that some people are choosing short term benefits, even though any fool can see the long term cost, over long term benefits. I do tend to think that most people would choose the short term, but there is a culture in the Middle Class that means they don’t. This is not all economic incentive.

  18. TimM seems to think the alternative to “Socially Conservative” is “Socially Libertine”, not Liberal or Libertarian.

    Rule of Law is the core element of broad wealth creation and retention and that does not require Social Conservatism.

    “while the selling of apples is so dangerously close to that trade that no respectable person would do and therefore must be banned.”

    Depends what they intend to do with the apple…

  19. Jim,

    > If ‘bad’ behaviour (not working, promiscuous behaviour, dropping out of education) is enabled by society giving a plentiful supply of benefits to those who behave in that way … guess what you get? Lots more bad behaviour thats what. Black or white, the underclass would soon cotton to what was required if the cash stopped flowing.

    Yes, but you’re glossing over a lot of the mechanism here, and the mechanism is the problem. If the cash stopped flowing, the underclass would soon cotton on. Yes, of course. And how would they cotton on? By suffering. Not all of them, not permanently, and not in such a way that they wouldn’t have it within their power to stop suffering, but there wuold be a period of suffering. And what would happen then? Well, we live in a democracy, many of whose members are compassionate. Perhaps they combine that compassion with profound stupidity and/or wilful blindness, yes, but it’s still compassion. And they write to or for The Guardian and they vote — hell, some of them are MPs. And so the cash starts flowing again.

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