Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Sean Gabb On the Persecution of the Christian Bakers in Ulster

Libertarian Alliance

Note: See this news story for background: “A bakery owned by a Christian family is facing legal action after it declined to make a cake printed with a message supporting gay marriage.” (Belfast Telegraph, 8th July 2014)

Speaking in London today, Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, made this statement:

I have spent much of my life denouncing the persecution of homosexuals. More recently, I have turned to denouncing the persecution of Christians by homosexuals. I do both on exactly the same grounds, of freedom of speech and freedom of association.

I urge our gay friends to join in these denunciations. The current persecution is wrong in itself, and is also undertaken without regard for its consequences. These, I have no doubt, will eventually include the recriminalisation – probably indirectly in the first instance – of homosexual acts. Homosexuals are the weakest element in the pc coalition of the oppressed. On the one hand, they are widely hated within the other groups. On the other, most of them have the option of creeping back into the closet the moment the winds shift direction – one whiff of persecution, and the gay lobby will become a leadership without a membership.

Now is the time for us all to take a stand for the traditional liberal values of freedom of speech and association. These cover the right of gay people to live as they please – and also of traditionalist Christians to have nothing to do with them.

8 replies »

  1. I think the point made by Gabb that the attitude of happy persecution the LGBT (etc) fraternity are engaged in is extremely ill advised and short sighted is absolutely correct. If ever a pendulum was guaranteed to be retracing its path it’s this one. I can see a time not too far off when the Victorian period is seen as a Golden Age of toleration by the homosexual community.

    • Yes, but we must also keep insisting that the persecution is wrong in itself. I’ve seen many libertarians fall into the trap of claiming that things like the attack on traditional Christians, or white nationalists, or whatever, are bad because – and perhaps only because – they are not in the enlightened self-interest of the attackers. Sometimes, this is careless, sometimes a desire to curry favour. I sometimes did it myself in the past. We need to grit our teeth and always try to put the full case.

      • I don’t observe the libertarian movement particularly closely but is my impression that the overwhelming majority of it are simply conventional progressives lacking the balls to face up to the inherent authoritarianism of the doctrine. On the issue of how to deal with out groups such as fundy Xians and white nationalists their primary concern seems to be working out a way of persecuting them outside state power.

  2. I think another problem has to do with the cultural orientations of many libertarians. I don’t know about the UK, but from what I can surmise the majority of libertarians in the US are cultural leftists/progressives who consider anti-racism and gay rights to be morally righteous causes, and who regard white nationalists and Christian conservatives as moral lepers. Those libertarians who aren’t cultural leftists often go the other way and embrace far right cultural views. This has become a major source of conflict among American libertarians.

    Leftist libertarians often seem to me to have the attitude that Christian fundamentalists or racialists who come under the attack of the state are merely getting their comeuppance. I’ve also encountered plenty of culturally conservative libertarians who want to soft pedal libertarian opposition to the worst excesses of the state (like the War on Drugs or the national security state) in order to focus on nice middle-class issues like taxes, welfare abuse, and dirty leftists who distribute condoms in public schools.

    I totally reject both of these perspectives which is one reason why I tend to be located on the far fringes of libertarian activity. The proper focus for libertarians, IMO, is to indeed focus on the state’s worst excesses, which in the present era would be the ever growing police state, the US prison-industrial complex, the drug war and comparable prohibition laws, the anti-terrorism /national security state apparatus, the surveillance state, etc.

    When it comes to social issues, we should be defending those who come under the worst attacks by the state as a priority, particularly those for whom no one else will come to their rescue. In the present era, this does indeed mean coming to the aid of racists, homophobes, religious fanatics, neo-nazis, and others whom liberal minded people normally find objectionable. But it also means often coming to the assistance of traditional outgroups that never made it into the Left’s pantheon of the oppressed. These might include figures that much of the rest of society finds highly objectionable as well like gang members, penitentiary inmates, homeless vagrants, drug users, prostitutes and other sex workers, bizarre religious cults, polygamists, sexual deviates, juvenile delinquents. truant students, underage drinkers, pornographers, etc.

    There may be other areas where we should champion those whom the Left also claims to be defending such as opposing extra-legal violence or police harassment of transgendered persons, defending poor, inner city blacks against the drug war and police state, upholding the interests of native peoples seeking self-determination, assisting immigrants held in detention camps under deplorable conditions, opposing the persecution of Muslim minorities under anti-terrorism laws, etc.

    There might be times when our interests actually coincide with those of the Left, and there might be times when our interests coincide with those of the Right.

    When it comes to outreach to the political and cultural mainstream it has always seemed to me that we should focus on a) issues that dissidents of all kinds often agree on but are not represented in the state (e.g the kinds of things Ralph Nader has been talking about lately) and b) bread and butter issues affecting ordinary people who just want make to make a decent living and go about their business which means criticizing the predations of both big government and the plutocracy.

  3. There are also a lot of issues where libertarian discourse tends to resemble that of the mainstream society in that it is characterized by polarized extremes. Such issues include abortion, capital punishment, immigration, environmentalism, animal rights, children’s rights, property theory, the application of just war theory, etc. I think all of these are areas where reasonable libertarian claims can be made from multiple directions and where sincere libertarians can disagree. Unfortunately, much libertarian discourse at present merely mirrors that of the left-right cultural mainstream.

    I’m mostly interested in working with people who are about moving past the normal “who’s most oppressed?” pissing contest and whose radicalism is the most complete, which is one reason why I’ve moved closer to the national-anarchist camp in recent years.I casually follow the debates among libertarians involving questions of “thick and thin” and “left and right” and so forth, and it seems to me to be not very different from the discourse found among ordinary liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans.

  4. The NA’s might have managed to break out of the conventional left/right paradigm but they still have considerable problems in my opinion. Their theoretic conception of a society of autonomous village communities isn’t realistic since some kind of force would be required to prevent confederations of those communities or their expansion into cities and proto-states. A force whose existence would invalidate the whole conception. At least some also seem to have retained the idiotic radical right analysis of the problems of Western society being largely generated by Jews. Plus the whole concept is only viable, in so far as it could be said to be in any way, on a complete collapse of industrial society. I would suggest that is simply not acceptable since it offers no prospect of successes should that eventuality not transpire. Another case of “almost there” it would seem.

    • Well, the main thing I always liked about the N-As was their non-universalist meta-political outlook. When I first discovered them I had already come to similar conclusions myself, and that’s more or less what ending up putting me in their camp by default. I think all the different anarchist factions have their weaknesses, and the things you point out are the greatest limitations in the N-A camp, IMO.

      But I actually prefer terms like anarcho-pluralism, pan-anarchism, alternative anarchism, anarcho-populism, anarchism without hyphens, anarchism without adjectives, or anarcho-ecumenicalism to describe my own outlook, which is broad enough to inlcude N-A and other forms of anarchism and related ideas as well. Unfortunately, “nation” means “state” to most people, and often a militaristic state at that.

      I think the model of political organization that is most compatible with the pan-secessionist concept is one of regional confederations of city-state with satellite villages and towns. These entities could have much different, or even polar opposite, philosophies and still engage in resource sharing, mutual defense, trade, etc.

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