On Thursday, the 9th August 2012, Sean Gabb spoke in Bratislava to the Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS) on the subject of “Libertarianism: Left or Right?”
He made the following points:
1. That libertarianism is a child of the Enlightenment, and is a champion of rationalism and humanity. As such, it was inevitably opposed to large elements of the European Old Order. This can be seen in the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Frederic Bastiat, and in the speeches and writings of Cobden and Bright.
2. That, during the 1880s, libertarians in England became increasingly alarmed by the progress of state socialism in its various forms that they entered into an alliance with the landed aristocracy, which was itself worried about the tendencies of the age. The most obvious sign of this alliance was the Liberty and Property Defence League.
3. That the decline of the landed interest after 1914, and the global challenge of Soviet socialism required libertarians to go into a new alliance with corporate big business.
4. That this need has evaporated since 1989, and libertarians are free to choose their friends in ways that were not possible before.
5. That, while the English landed aristocracy was perhaps the most liberal ruling class in history, and that compromise with it was natural and even desirable for libertarians, corporate big business is little more than the commercial arm of an utterly malign ruling class that legitimises itself by cultural leftism and maintains its global hegemony via the military-industrial complex.
6. That libertarians are perhaps mistaken when they worship actually existing capitalism as if it were a variety of a genuinely free market, and when they implicitly regard the poor as enemies and dismiss the complaints of the poor as hostility to free markets.
7. That libertarians should focus more on showing how the established order of things hurts the poor – by using the tax and regulatory structures to raise the minimum scale of output and stop the poor from starting micro-businesses that would free them from the oppresion of bad employers and the welfare authorities.
Much else is covered, including intellectual property and whether Britain and Slovakia should leave the European Union.