Monday 15 November 2010

Should libertarians read quality Euroblogs?

I try to promote quality blogs about European affairs by suggestions to the readers of my blogs and to my friends on Facebook. Mostly they are Euroblogs I follow and listed among the now 698 blogs aggregated by the multilingual

Naturally my choices are subjective, but I follow the same rule of thumb with regard to blogs as other media, offline and online:

You are better informed after reading than before.

Many fine blogs have been mentioned earlier, but among later recommendations we find Europe 27etc, Atlantic Community, Bit more complicated, blog, FT Brussels Blog, Mathew Lowry, Christian Engström, Ciudadano Morante, Comparative Law Blog, Conflict of Laws .net, Charlemagne’s notebook and Bruxelles2.


Recently Mathew Lowry caught my eye with a post about abusive online pyjama people: In praise of ‘proper’ media (13 November 2010).

According to Lowry, people like that destroy intelligent online conversations.

Let us take a step back to read the Wikipedia article Libertarianism, where the first and general description mentions the advocacy of individual liberty, especially of thought and action. The core beliefs of the US Libertarian Party are also worth noticing, while the Nolan chart classifies personal and economic freedom in an interesting manner.

Superior choices?

My understanding of libertarianism may be incomplete, but if the aim is minimal public intervention and a preference for individual choices, this seems to indicate that the latter are somehow superior.

It may be an aberration to tell libertarians what they should do, but we have to assume that these liberated people are drawn towards quality reading as well.

It would seem to be in the best libertarian tradition for readers to make intelligent choices.

Thus, they can be trusted to be the first to desert abusive and lunatic blogs, can’t they? It is hardly a question of dress code, but an issue of credibility and constructive discourse.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. On Cosmetic Uprise – UK and the EU Mia Välimäki publishes her personal comments on the relationship between the Chunnel Island and the Continent which has fascinated writers since De bello Gallico.


  1. Never been much of a chap for labels, but if I had to choose, libertarian is one that I'd allow to be pinned on me. And I do spend an inordinate amount of time reading quality EU blogs such as this one...

  2. HughBS,

    If you are fond of liberties (libertarian) and read quality media (blogs), you act in the enlightened way I see as a presupposition for placing a high value on individual choice and responsibilty.

    What I wanted to chide, ever so mildly, was the contradiction between high regard for the individual and the lack of civil discourse Mathew Lowry exemplified in his blog post.

  3. I am in total agreement, just pointing out that not all libertarians are unaware of their duties in this regard.

  4. Grahnlaw,

    I expect my blog will be a good study for you, as it combines libertarianism with a visceral loathing of the EU, and the most offensive personal attacks on the latter's leadership that I can muster.

    You may wish to engage in highbrow contemplative debate, but at this point in history, that ain't an option. I do not intend to go quietly in the face of the ever-growing state, whether it be the Brussels-based superstate or the one in my country.

  5. I'm not sure that either of you have read the works of Ivan Illich and Thomas Szasz - surely outstanding libertarians? Their critiques are thought-provoking but would create riots if enacted, I suspect.

    The Wikipedia account is fairly weak, I believe: more like true conservatism, or post-liberalism.

  6. Trooper Thompson,

    If you are full of visceral hatred, I have to admit that you are unlikely to follow good advice, which is always an option.

  7. derekt,

    You may be quite right, but the modest purpose of the blog post was to demonstrate that political beliefs based on the superiority of individual choices somehow requires that these are shown to fulfil higher standards.

    Intelligent and civilised discourse would seem necessary.

  8. Grahnlaw, the problem is there is nothing to debate regarding the EU, because everything emanates from a presupposition that I reject, which is:

    given that your country is now and forever more part of a European superstate, what do we think should happen about ...

    Besides, what's the point in discussing anything anyway? There's no democracy in the EU. You're wasting your time.

    Hopefully this financial crisis will destroy the EU, and we will be free.

  9. Trooper Thompson,

    If you are concerned about the lack of full democracy at EU level, you could campaign for that.

    If you want the European states to sink separately in a changing world with emerging powers, continue in tribalist mode.

  10. Grahnlaw

    What I was proposing is I believe nearer to what your and HughBS's comments are saying, ie you are each propounding a classical conservative or post-liberal view.

    This view proposes that individual liberty is best pursued via less (but not non-existant) government (national, local and judicial) over and within a society. The true libertarian view would insist that all "social" transactions are contractual; there is but a very restricted role for government; and that the unhampered market should be allowed to rule. (See Hayek as a prime example).

    I feel sure that neither you nor HughBS ascribe to this politic?

    And, to Trooper Thompson, I found your blog informative. Not accurate - nor attempting to be? But it gives you (and your regular followers) room to let off steam?

  11. Grahnlaw,

    but I don't want to argue for some future EU democracy, I want my country to take back its national sovereignty, and, as I say I do not recognise any legitimacy in the institutions of Brussels, so I will not go there cap in hand to ask for something which was mine to begin with and has been stolen.

    As for the tribalism, this is not the case, because we have many allies all across the EU, the great Vaclav Klaus in the Czech Republic being amongst our most respected leaders.

  12. derekt,

    I wonder if many libertarians really envision a world with no public government, so perhaps the difference between libertarians and classical liberals is rather one of degree.

  13. Trooper Thompson,

    Paradoxically an Englishman has practically no secure rights and freedoms without those guaranteed through the European Convention on Human Rights (and indirectly through the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union).

    Tribalists may join in rejection of a greater good, but in the end their nationalisms tend to be mutually exclusive.

  14. Grahnlaw, in answer to some of your points:

    you talk about tribalism because it flatters your own pro-Brussels position.

    You are a nationalist, an EU nationalist. You have transferred your patriotism to Mother Europe.

    I am merely patriotic. This is not against any other country, in the same way as loving my family doesn't mean I hate other people's families.

    All the benefits of European integration could be ours without Brussels. We can have free trade and free movement. We can agree reciprocal arrangements between different nations.

    But I want a government that is democratically accountable to the people of this country. I will not have the laws of my land decided by a committee in a foreign country behind closed doors.

    This is not tribalism. It is a different view of how Europe should move forward. Not as isolated states, but certainly as politically independent states. We need no more government. In my country we have too much already.

  15. Trooper Thompson,

    You are correct, in part with regard to mutually nourishing national and European identities.

    A democratic and effective Europe would be able to promote the security and prosperity of its citizens better than the nation states independently or the EU at its current state of development.

    However, in addition, a better European Union has the potential to be a greater force for good in the world, far more than either the states individually or even the sum of the parts.

    Do you seriously take into account how the world around us is changing?

    There is fairly little scope for free trade and free movement in Europe, if you are intent on excluding the EU.

  16. "mutually nourishing national and European identities"

    Ah, I see when you speak of your own position, the language is different. No mention of tribe.

    In fact, as I've pointed out with reference to Vaclav Klaus, my position is internationalist; people of many nations agree that we want to have independent nation states, living in peace and co-operation, trading with each other.

    So is yours; people of many nations who want to be ruled by unelected functionaries in Brussels, or at least agree to this as a transition phase, hoping that it will transform into a democratic state some time in the future.

    Even if you don't agree with me, you should acknowledge that there are valid arguments against the present EU structure. You think it's worth trying to improve the EU, but I don't, I just want out, and I don't accept that there is no other choice or that the state of world dictates that we should all give up our independence and form a protectionist, mercantilist bloc.

    Still, thanks for the debate Grahnlaw, I'll let you get back to the constructive stuff!

  17. Trooper Thompson,

    If I don't mention 'tribe' in my own case, I think it has to do with the following reasons:

    First of all, I think and currently write about our complementing citizenships, national and European; especially our (hopefully improving) rights as EU citizens.

    (EU level citizens' rights are less important for sedentary people, but for 11 million mobile Europeans they are significant.)

    It is also more difficult to adapt 'tribe' to belonging to two different entities, in my case Finland and the European Union.

    As you point out, current EU structures are problematic. However, since a functioning European political entity is in the interest of citizens and the EU isn't going away, I find it more constructive to argue for full representative democracy at EU level.

  18. Hi Ralf,

    Not quite sure I follow "and the lack of civil discourse Mathew Lowry exemplified in his blog post. "

    Are you calling me rude and lacking in civil discourse?

    As for the current comments ... I can only recommend Nosemonkey's post on libertarianism and the EU I referenced in my post.

    It shows pretty effectively that a lot of the libertarian pyjama people either don't actually understand what libertarianism is, or don't understand what the EU is.

    If they did, they wouldn't be foaming at the mouth.

  19. Mathew,

    I am sorry if I wasn't clear enough. You gave an example of a rude blogger - not yourself- in your post; you did not exemplify rudeness by your post.

    So my entry was supportive of your position.


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