The Liberals are not libertarians

Chris Kenny has a rather unusual op-ed in the Australian this morning.

The online headline seems to have changed from what I remember reading at about 8am but the gist the story remains the same.

Howard has talked about the “broad church” and how the party is best when it “balances” two strands: “the two traditions of classical liberalism and conservatism”. In fact the party has been most successful, at least federally, when it has been led by conservatives implementing a conservative agenda and the small-L liberals have been indulged or tolerated.

Apparently there is too much liberalism in the Liberal Party.  In fact, too much libertarianism in the Liberal Party.

“I would add that the attempt at a fusion of the two [Burke and JS Mill] has been disproportionately to the detriment of conservatives,” Dawes said. “This is because libertarianism and the classical liberal school of thought from which it comes are fundamentally ideological, whereas conservatism cannot be so.”

He argued the true ally of liberalism was not conservatism but the progressive left; and sure enough, we see them arrive at similar positions on same-sex marriage, climate change and euthanasia, to name a few.

Really? I suppose JS Mill did describe conservatives as being stupid (I might be paraphrasing there) and that is a particularly dumb comment maybe liberalism (defined here as a combo of classical liberalism and libertarianism) isn’t compatible with conservatism.

Libertarianism is a theory of the role of government. Less government is preferable to more government. In a traditional left-right continuum that implies that libertarians are on the right of economic issues and on the left on social issues. Many (but not all) libertarians support same-sex marriage and  euthanasia; libertarian opinion is more divided on issues relating the climate change. Libertarians, however, are not divided on issues relating to lower taxes and less government debt. Given that the progressive left tends to be authoritarian in its mode of operation and wedded to state violence it seems strange that it would be the “true ally of liberalism”.

Here then is the rather strange argument that Kenny makes:

Could this be the future of the Liberal Party? A reversion to pragmatic conservative instincts, a retreat from the fashions and ideology of liberalism and an appeal to traditions that make sense?

As if the Liberals are all suddenly libertarian and need to find their way back to common sense. And the evidence for this piece of silliness?

This is worth pondering because now we have a moderate or liberal as Prime Minister and the moderates exert factional power in state branches including NSW and federally.

This is far too simplistic – you are either a real man, like our poor Tony struck down in his prime, or some sort of commie.  Now I suspect the PM has libertarian tendencies, but he is still a Liberal – he has his power base in the left faction (sorry, I know, there are no factions in the Liberal Party) of the Liberal Party. The previous leader had his power base in the right faction of the very same party.  The so-called moderates in the Liberal Party are just that – they are not libertarians.

I’m sure that Chris Kenny wants to argue that Liberals should not be libertarians (why not, how is all that hairy chested conservativism working for you?) but to suggest that they are in fact libertarians is simply wrong.

I wish there were more people in the Liberal Party who did support smaller and less intrusive government.

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52 Responses to The Liberals are not libertarians

  1. The Liberal Party today is little more than Labor Lite with a side dish of Greens.

  2. Davo

    I don’t think they believe in anything….part from what is good for themselves each day; pretty much the same as the other team of geese

  3. Chris

    pretty much the same as the other team of geese

    THe key difference is that Liberals would prefer, if convenient on the day, to spend Other People’s Money as fast as it can be confiscated, where Labor wish to spend (or destroy) all that can be imagined, all at once.

  4. how is all that hairy chested conservativism

    Sorry, I had not noticed any.
    Examples please.

  5. Pyrmonter

    Kenny has waded out of his depth; in his attempt to play to his ‘right’ fans, he shows how little he really understand about the LPA (which may explain his lack of success at seeking preselection). While the ‘moderates’ may include a few libertarians and (separately) classical liberals, so do the ‘Right’. There is no measurable ‘classical liberal’ grouping within the LPA – those who could be so described span the activist spectrum from Tim Andrews and Peter Phelps to a bunch of the SA and Vic ‘moderate’ backbenchers.

    What generally distinguishes the two groups in practice is allegiances to personality and views on social issues (moderates tending to be much more inclined to let sleeping dogs lie; the ‘right’ wishing to fan the culture wars). On matters of economics, both groups are overwhelmingly pragmatic; both have a good line in free enterprise (and occasionally, free market) rhetoric; and both, albeit in somewhat different ways, have their third rails: in the NSW moderates, bizarrely, commitment to renewables; on the Right, commitment to subsidy for coal extraction and rural ‘development’.

    We might wish that there was a ‘classical liberal’ stream within the LPA, but the reality is that it is a figment of the fertile imaginations of journalists looking for labels.

  6. THe key difference is…

    There is no key difference anymore. The difference in only by degree and the gap is becoming indistinguishable.

    I received a notice from my electricity supplier (AGL) regarding my account renewal, which is due soon, and there is a 20% increase across the board in charges from the previous agreement. AGL will not be receiving my coin in future.

    I want these retards in the so-called Liberal Party to utterly lose the next election. I don’t care if it’s a Pyrrhic Victory or not, I want that fcuktard Turnbull and his supporters out on their arse. I want the lot to be utterly humiliated.

  7. Steve smith

    need to find their way back to common sense

    That is precisely what they need to do. This, together with the “how is all that hairy chested conservativism working for you” remark shows that Kenny is closer to the mark and has a better understanding of the problems within the Liberal Party and why they will lose the next election than the author of this article.

  8. herodotus

    I may be paraphrasing here: Open borders are ok provided you don’t have welfare.

    When’s the latter going to happen?

  9. Squirrel

    “I wish there were more people in the Liberal Party who did support smaller and less intrusive government.”

    And I wish that any such people take the opportunity of their next stint in Opposition (coming soon, it would seem), to develop detailed plans and arguments for smaller and less intrusive government so that they are ready to go when the pendulum eventually swings back in their direction. Aside from those regrettable 2013 election eve commitments about all the areas of spending which would not be reduced, the Abbott Government seemed to take up the Treasury benches without much more than very broad ideas to cut spending.

  10. miltonf

    Seems like the Photios/Payne faction in the NSW LP has prevailed. They’re called moderates now but I think in the 80s it was called The Group.

    Back in the Howard era (also Greiner-Fahey and even as late as Denis Napthine) those of us with a conservative-nationalist-small government disposition were prepared to put up with the lefty stuff to some extent because there was a fair amount of accommodation of our views. And of course the alternative was much worse.

  11. miltonf

    Also after the defeat of the Wahringah motion, why would you even bother paying your annual membership fees?

  12. Viva

    Every weekend Chris Kenny comes up with some new diagnosis of what’s wrong with the liberals and this government and what could be done to fix things. Nothing will change until the Great Reckoning which is coming.

  13. jupes

    I want these retards in the so-called Liberal Party to utterly lose the next election. I don’t care if it’s a Pyrrhic Victory or not, I want that fcuktard Turnbull and his supporters out on their arse. I want the lot to be utterly humiliated.

    Yep. They must be destroyed.

  14. miltonf

    Trumble’s definitely worse than Hawkeating and I didn’t like them very much.

  15. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    Didn’t malcolm claim that the Liberal party was a “progressive” party?

  16. Infidel Tiger

    There are neither conservatives nor classical liberals in the Liberal Party.

    There are spivs, xunts and statists.

  17. H B Bear

    Trumble’s definitely worse than Hawkeating and I didn’t like them very much.

    The first term Hawke-Keating government was the best “Liberal” government this country has had for decades. Admittedly much of the policy groundwork had been set by the Fraser government (but not implemented) and enjoyed bipartisan support thus bypassing the obstruction of the Senate.

    Lord Waffleworth will be remembered for implementing R-G-R policies (NDIS and Gonski), fiddling on national debt and electricity and giving homos the vote. If he makes it that far, he will also deliver a landslide victory the Liars at the next election.

  18. JC

    I’ve maintained the Liberal party is the Rudd government circa 2007.

  19. Tel

    You guys are quite confused. Malcolm Turnbull firmly stands for nothing, and the Liberal Party are right behind him on that.

    We have a free market in ideas and they happily borrow any idea whenever it happens to suit them this minute. Like Bing Lee used to be fond of explaining, “Everything’s negotiable!”

    And why not?

  20. Norman Church

    Diet Labor with policies loved by the Canberra Press Gallery, doctors’ wives and rent seekers. Says it all.

  21. cynical1

    Libertarianism is a theory of the role of government. Less government is preferable to more government.

    Yeah well, who does the measuring?

    Not too totalitarian, not too anarchist.

    Just the right amount of Utopian goodness.

    Hopefully, not the bloke who was going to measure Lord Malcolm’s greatness.

  22. Gab

    What tipped you off, Sinclair? 🙄

  23. JC

    We have a free market in ideas and they happily borrow any idea whenever it happens to suit them this minute.

    It has to be Ok’ed first by a Q&A audience, otherwise you could be 18c’ed, Tel.

  24. Deplorable

    need to find their way back to common sense

    They need to turn 180 degrees to regain conservative common sense.
    Stuff the laborlite vote informal in the HoR vote all conservative in the Senate as that appears to be the house that may save Australia.

  25. 2dogs

    Your missing the point, Sinc.

    Many Libertarians are also utopians. They have this idealistic vision which they place above any practical reality (e.g. check the comments here).

    Utopianism is a form of extremism. It means you get extremist Libertarians, even though they are not “extreme Left” or “extreme Right”.

    Sargon of Akkad’s Liberalist movement is essentially a reaction to that; an attempt to create Libertarianism without Utopianism.

    You can think of this perhaps as adding a third dimension to the Nolan chart: the axes are now Left/Right, Authoritarian/Libertarian, and Utopian/Empirical.

  26. jupes

    … how is all that hairy chested conservativism working for you?

    Homo marriage, Muslim immigration, Gonski, NBN, RET, Paris Agreement, NT Royal Commission …

    I think the chest has been waxed.

  27. Muddy

    I propose that the Liberal party room be referred to from now on as The Morgue.
    BYO Glen20.
    And glove-up.

  28. JohnA

    I wish there were more people in the Liberal Party who did support smaller and less intrusive government.

    Impossible – in ANY politician.

    We vote the sods in so they can pass legislation. We then go to them, present them with a problem tosovle, and the result is more legislation from the Legislation Factory(R).

    As Sir Humphrey said, as the Parliament creates more legislation, so the bureaucracy implements and administers it. There is no, repeat NO, incentive to reduce the scope of government.

  29. JohnA

    “to solve” – damn you, mistyping fingers.

  30. stackja

    MT said he was the solution.

  31. Dr Fred Lenin

    We will never have good government as long as we have career politicians , restrict them to one term in a lifetime ,abolish compulsory and preferential voting and we are on the way to Real Democracy.
    Then put all public employees. Including judges on one year performance based contracts to break up the workers soviets there .

  32. Robber Baron

    People here keep writing that the Libs are Labor-lite. What the pharque are you smoking. Lib policies are exactly the same as Labor’s. There is no difference. Turnbull is labor.

  33. jupes

    We vote the sods in so they can pass legislation. We then go to them, present them with a problem tosovle, and the result is more legislation from the Legislation Factory(R).

    And all that legislation costs money. As does all the pork-barreling at election time.

    It disgusts me during every election campaign that politicians brag how much of our money they intend to spend. Of course they don’t put in those terms.

  34. OneWorldGovernment

    Robber Baron
    #2692282, posted on April 21, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    People here keep writing that the Libs are Labor-lite. What the pharque are you smoking. Lib policies are exactly the same as Labor’s. There is no difference. Turnbull is labor.

    Robber B

    What we have evolved is Australian Socialism.

    Our ‘political parties’ are either conservative socialists, progressive socialists or rabid socialists.

    Our bureaucrats, whether Federal, State or Local Government, are socialist.

    Law courts, socialist.

    Business is crony capitalist socialist. You cannot do anything in Australia without you have some piece of paper from a ‘socialist government department.

    Unions are organized socialist gangs.

  35. OneWorldGovernment

    Many, many years ago an old gentleman told me that in his experience liberals got into power to do the things that labor couldn’t do and labor got in to do the things that liberals couldn’t do.

    They were both conning their base but were both introducing socialism.

  36. OneWorldGovernment

    Check out Jo Novas latest post

    Our Socialist Electricity Grid works perfectly for everyone except consumers

    Which Australian Socialist Political Party wants to fix this?

    http://joannenova.com.au/2018/04/our-socialist-electricity-grid-works-perfectly-for-everyone-except-consumers/

  37. Leo G

    Citizens. Clubs, bills, and partisans! strike! beat them down!
    Down with the ideologues! down with the Conservatives!

  38. Jimf

    Turnbull’s smug satisfaction about “getting things done” with the senate really just means he’s a principle-free,transactionally driven hollow man. Once (I dont now when) I suppose political parties had a vision and understood that compromising on these ideals was really no win at all. Every “win” he’s had has been on the back of giving up to leftism.Need to get Edu reforms across the line? No probs – just concede another $5b or so. NDIS etc are not successful outcomes by any centre-right measureHe’s willingly traded on everything because none of it mattered to him anyway. The irony is he’s a dead duck in no man’s land .

  39. max

    Where Does the Term “Libertarian” Come From Anyway?

    It emerged in the 1950s as the replacement for the word “liberal.” The records shows that it is a synonym for what liberal once meant.

    https://fee.org/articles/where-does-the-term-libertarian-come-from-anyway/

  40. Boris

    The idea that Libs should take a more conservative line has merit. But the idea that it is too liberal or libertarian is just plain wrong. It is too moderate and renegade. And anti liberal, at least on all economic issues.

  41. Crossie

    how is all that hairy chested conservativism working for you?

    I’ll let you know when I see it. As for your boy Malcolm, he is now exacting revenge on the Liberal Party for ousting him in 2009 by deliberately enacting every Labor policy he can get his hands on.

  42. Crossie

    I want these retards in the so-called Liberal Party to utterly lose the next election. I don’t care if it’s a Pyrrhic Victory or not, I want that fcuktard Turnbull and his supporters out on their arse. I want the lot to be utterly humiliated.

    It’s the only way to clear the decks and start again.

  43. Kneel

    “MT said he was the solution.”

    He says he has the solution in hand – like all wankers.

  44. manalive

    The prospect of the Liberal party returning to “conservative instincts” and “appeal to traditions”, whatever they are — protectionism is one, while Shorten with Sally McManus are on the threshold of returning an ALP government to good old-fashioned Labor values, I’m getting that déjà vu feeling all over again.

  45. John Constantine

    Has their teddy turnbull snow gone back and ridden on public transport since he rode the rattler to Geelong to overthrow the last liberal government?.

  46. Mother Lode

    suppose JS Mill did describe conservatives as being stupid

    I believe he was referring to members of the conservative party (whatever their formal name might have been at the time) in a political debate he was involved in.

    I find the interpretation that it includes modern conservatives in general is a misrepresentation lefties use to avoid actual debate.

  47. Roger.

    Target hit, Mother Lode 🙂

  48. anonandon

    I want these retards in the so-called Liberal Party to utterly lose the next election. I don’t care if it’s a Pyrrhic Victory or not, I want that fcuktard Turnbull and his supporters out on their arse. I want the lot to be utterly humiliated.

    I am a dyed in the wool conservative and I will be voting Labor at the next election. Carthago delenda est.

  49. Hugh

    Libs are the hollowed, stuffed men.

    God knows what the Labs are … me, I just don’t care.

    I’m voting Australian Conservative, and I say that as someone very sympathetic to many libertarian doctrines (… which is why I’m, e.g., anti-killing innocent unborn people).

  50. candy

    Well I think Chris Kenny and Prof D. are both wrong, by trying to compartmentalise Malcolm Turnbull into Liberal, left or libertarian or conservative.

    He’s none. He takes each policy if he feels it will win him success as PM. It can be any policy. I don’t see he has beliefs and alignment with any political philosophy and could just as easily swap to Labor or even Greens if he felt that was the best path to the success he wants. If stopping the boats is good, he will identify as a conservative. If it all went belly-up he would open the borders. SSM popular – he is left. If it were not – he would be conservative.

    Not saying that is wrong or right but he would be first PM I think who operates this way.

  51. OneWorldGovernment

    candy
    #2692917, posted on April 22, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Well I think Chris Kenny and Prof D. are both wrong, by trying to compartmentalise Malcolm Turnbull into Liberal, left or libertarian or conservative.

    He’s none.

    Exactly Candy

    He is a communist that will do anything to stay in power.

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