Leading libertarian Tim Worstall

That\’s how I\’m described over at Touchstone, a blog by the TUC. I guess it\’s a measure of quite how wide the ideological gap is: perhaps even the comprehension gap.

That I, a classical liberal, should be described as a libertarian. For the truth is that I sign up to all of the basic logic that people like the TUC do. Markets aren\’t perfect, there\’s lots of times when we should intervene in them to make the work better. There are things which markets cannot deal with and so we have to use non-markets to deal with them. The aim is absolutely to at least lower if not end poverty and so on.

I might disagree on the details and specific cases, but I\’m fully signed up to the idea of an interventionist State which can indeed make things better than the absence of such. Such thoughts would of course have me howled down by libertarians.

To describe me as \”libertarian\”, well, I think that they must not really have understood people like Perry then.

7 thoughts on “Eh?”

  1. From my reading of your blog over the past few years I would say the difference is that you would have the state only do what it needs to do. You would start by first anlalysing the problem and then, somewhat relcutantly, conclude that the state needs to be involved if that is the case.

    The TUC and its fellow travelers, on the other hand, start by having the state do everything, whether it is the best solution or not. For many, Polly springs to mind, there is no world in which the state staying out of the way can be the solution to anything.

  2. “conclude that the state needs to be involved if that is the case.”

    Since when do libertarians not believe in the need for collective action, sometimes at the level of the state?

    It’s a political philosophy, not a rule book. And the philosophy says that power should accrue to the state only when necessary (and “necessary” doesn’t mean “most people agree that it should”).

  3. Somewhere something like this is well said: you’re not a libertarian unless you believe that 12-year old prostitutes should be allowed to use the profits from their heroin dealing to buy machine guns. I suspect that a lot of libertarians would nod approvingly, rather than recognising a reductio ad absurdum.

  4. Quoting directly from :

    The Samizdata people are a bunch of sinister and heavily armed globalist illuminati who seek to infect the entire world with the values of personal liberty and several property. Amongst our many crimes is a sense of humour and the intermittent use of British spelling.

    We are also a varied group made up of social individualists, classical liberals, whigs, libertarians, extropians, futurists, ‘Porcupines’, Karl Popper fetishists, recovering neo-conservatives, crazed Ayn Rand worshipers, over-caffeinated Virginia Postrel devotees, witty Frédéric Bastiat wannabes, cypherpunks, minarchists, kritarchists and wild-eyed anarcho-capitalists from Britain, North America, Australia and Europe.

    You should, IMHO, be at home there to a similar extent to me.

    However, affiliation to any tribe is likely to be a compromise, and more so for anyone who carries the flag of personal freedom (no matter how one labels it). Thus I am delighted to have bookmarks to the blogs of Samizdata and of Tim Worstall, even thought many of my comments on those blogs are (again IMHO) a pull away from one extreme or another to my very personal view on where lies the better (if not middle) ground.

    Best regards

  5. A libertarian is just what Americans call liberals, because their socialists stole that name. The TUC probably prefers it in this case because “liberal” has lots of positive connotations, whereas “libertarian” is a pretty well unknown phrase in this country.

    Anyway, I find all this “no, please dont cast me out of your socialist cool kids table, I want to repress people sometimes too!” pretty nauseating, so I’ll leave now.

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