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  • The only libertarian worth reading


    by Sunny
    5th August, 2010 at 10:22 am    

    Other than our own Rumbold of course, Alex Massie is the only other libertarian worth reading this side of the pond.

    He has a very fine post on the whole “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy that the Republican right have been playing up. A few important points from it:

    Nevertheless, Bush and Blair and others had a point: if you convince yourself that the west is fighting some kind of Holy War and that muslims are the enemy then, pretty soon, you find yourself unable to differentiate between the different strands of Islam. Soon after that, once it’s a matter of “them” and “us” (even though some of “them” are also part of “us”) then there simply can’t be anything that can plausibly call itself moderate Islam or, consequently, moderate muslims. Deep down, you see, they’re all just the same.

    But while there are evident tensions and areas of difficulty (and these should not be downplayed or denied) the bigger truth is that the conflict - and there is one - is only tangentially about us. This is much more a civil war within the Islamic world than it is a confrontation with the west (though it is that too). Osama bin Laden’s real enemies are the muslims he considers heretics and moderates. That’s the struggle he’s interested in and the fight with “the west” is merely a means to achieving that final, internal, triumph.

    This being so, among the very worst things we can do is lump all muslims together and, by doing so, suggest that we don’t think there’s any salient difference between the brands and branches of Islam. But, on the other hand, this also doesn;t mean we must demand that British (or American) muslims divest themselves of their religion or their attachment to their layered, over-lapping identies.

    What it does mean, however, is trying to avoid postures, rhetoric and policy that will convince British (or American) muslims that they’re regarded as suspect or somehow only enjoy second-class status (which, now that the GZM rumpus has gone national is what opposing the mosque, no matter how well intentioned your reasons, effectively does).

    Read the whole thing - it’s bang on target.

    And here’s the thing - this is what the left in the UK has been saying for years. The right hasn’t - they’re dominated by wingnuts like Melanie Phillips, Rod Liddle, Douglas Murray etc. Most of who, er, write for the Spectator (I say Alex Massie is a left-libertarian. He’s just giving the right an undue good name by aligning himself with them).


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    28 Comments below   |  

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    1. sunny hundal

      Blog post:: The only libertarian worth reading http://bit.ly/ciufoL


    2. Obnoxio The Clown

      RT @sunny_hundal: The only libertarian worth reading http://bit.ly/ciufoL <- in which he links Mel Philips and Rod Liddle to libertarianism


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    1. Obnoxio The Clown — on 5th August, 2010 at 10:39 am  

      I would like to query the implication that Melanie Phillips, Rod Liddle, Douglas Murray, etc., are libertarians. I’m quite happy for them to be considered right-wing wingnuts, but I’m very happy to have them tagged as libertarians.

    2. Mr Eugenides — on 5th August, 2010 at 11:00 am  

      I’m not sure where you get the idea that Massie is a “left-libertarian”, unless that’s a roundabout way of saying that he’s a libertarian you don’t dislike.

      I’m pretty sure he would not apply such a label to himself.

    3. Leon — on 5th August, 2010 at 11:03 am  

      It’s only since getting into blogs that I’ve really been aware of so called right-wing libertarians. My experience is libertarians are leftist more to the point Socialist Libertarian or Anarchists (a good example being Noam Chomsky). They tend to have a far more humanist view of libertarianism than the privileged types that espouse freedom.

    4. cjcjc — on 5th August, 2010 at 11:07 am  

      Good grief please don’t bring the dreadful Chomsky into this.

      Massie is right on the Ground Zero mosque of course.

      Though I doubt that he is “left”.

    5. Leon — on 5th August, 2010 at 11:39 am  

      Dreadful Chomsky? I was merely pointing out a good example of ‘left’ libertarian.

    6. Rumbold — on 5th August, 2010 at 11:56 am  

      Thanks Sunny. Libertarians aren’t really left or right- the real split is between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ libertarians. Negative libertarians are the ones who focus on things like the right to bear arms, and are mainly concerned about their own rights/liberty/privilege. Postiive libertarians focus on the benefits to society and individuals of a smaller and more libertarian state, and it is on that side you you will tend to find people who campaign on things like racism and domestic violence, as they care more about people (to put it frankly). People like Alex, myself and DK fall into that category.

    7. Rumbold — on 5th August, 2010 at 11:57 am  

      Also, Rod Liddle isn’t libertarian, he is classically left wing. He had to leave the BBC for being too openly pro-Labour. Neither are Melanie Phillips (ex-Guardian journalist), nor Douglas Murray.

    8. Jai — on 5th August, 2010 at 12:31 pm  

      He has a very fine post on the whole “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy that the Republican right have been playing up…..Read the whole thing – it’s bang on target.

      That’s an absolutely superb article by Alex Massie. I was actually considering writing a piece about the “Ground Zero Mosque” for PP, but I see that Massie has already brilliantly made many of the points which I was going to write about myself.

      Thanks for flagging up his article, Sunny. Great stuff.

    9. Refresh — on 5th August, 2010 at 1:17 pm  

      Excellent article by Alex Massie, but like similar others it presumes no malice or ill-intent is meant by ‘us’.

      Whereas there are malicious forces at work alongside the mistaken and the ignorant.

    10. Carl — on 5th August, 2010 at 1:48 pm  

      Don’t forget Tim Worstall. Oh you didn’t, he is missing.

    11. Sunny — on 5th August, 2010 at 1:52 pm  

      I would like to query the implication that Melanie Phillips, Rod Liddle, Douglas Murray, etc., are libertarians

      I don’t. I say they’re on the right.

      Rod Liddle isn’t left-wing, though he may have been too pro-Labour. But Labour isn’t always left-wing.

    12. Ravi Naik — on 5th August, 2010 at 2:46 pm  

      I don’t. I say they’re on the right.

      The irony of course is that the vast majority of the electorate is moderate, that is neither Left or Right, and political parties tend to converge to the centre - as they should. So this fight between Left and Right and who has the moral compass is simply inconsequential.

      By the way, I do not think being a lunatic, a bigot and an intellectual lightweight to be necessary preconditions to make someone a right-winger, even though that describes Melanie Philips and Rod Liddle.

      The issue here is that teabaggers in the US seem to be aligned with the BNP here. I cannot imagine the British conservative party protesting against building an Islamic centre due to terrorist attacks.

      Incidentally, the reaction of ADL was really surprising and disappointing.

    13. Jai — on 5th August, 2010 at 4:00 pm  

      The issue here is that teabaggers in the US seem to be aligned with the BNP here.

      ….and aligned with the EDL too, for that matter.

    14. Sarah AB — on 5th August, 2010 at 4:15 pm  

      I agree - it was a very good, eloquent article. I don’t think AM is left wing either - although he isn’t right wing in the way most people described as ‘right wing libertarians’ are!

    15. KB Player — on 5th August, 2010 at 10:41 pm  

      Massie is always good. He’s a classic liberal. He’s also clever, sane, thoughtful and decent. On the Spectator blogs he shines like a star, compared to those black holes, Mad Mel and Liddle Rod.

    16. Bill — on 6th August, 2010 at 12:03 am  

      Not sure I can see what is very clever or thoughtful about suggesting the West has declared a “Holy War” on Muslims. Most people would reckon that has things a little backwards.

      And it’s perfectly possible to support the right of Muslims to build places of worship in New York while understanding that doing so very close to Ground Zero is pretty insensitive and will be for some years to come. Most people understand that possession of a right doesn’t mean that every exercise of it is wise or sensible under all circumstances.

      Finally, I have enjoyed reading Rumbold’s posts, but I’m not sure someone prepared to countenance a scheme whereby a person can be evicted from their home purely on the say-so of a senior police officer can really be called a libertarian, at least as Americans understand the term.

    17. BenSix — on 6th August, 2010 at 12:31 pm  

      They tend to have a far more humanist view of libertarianism than the privileged types that espouse freedom…

      See Kevin Carson and the Centre for a Stateless Society.

    18. Soso — on 6th August, 2010 at 3:45 pm  

      Massie’s libertarianism isn’t the point here.

      As more info about this mega-mosques comes to light ( financing, backers, associations involved etc), the more things start to wriggle and slither.

      And let’s face it, mayor Bloomberg, an enlightened and inveterate fan of this obscenity, deftly commented, when told of the foiled plot in Times Sqaure that could have killed 1000s, that the perp was probably some “right-wing gun nut opposed to Obama’s healthcare”.

      When a clever cookie with that kinda profound insight supports the Ground Zero mosque, you just know it’s a good thing.

      Ya just know it!

    19. Jai — on 6th August, 2010 at 3:53 pm  

      Sunny,

      You should find the following article (including the subsequent comments thread) to be interesting reading too:

      “Why did no-one object to the ‘Pentagon Mosque’ ?”

      http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/08/05/muslims_infiltrate_pentagon/index.html

    20. Jai — on 6th August, 2010 at 6:44 pm  

      This is also an ongoing issue in America — a church in Florida is trying to organise an international “Quran-burning day” on the anniversary of 9/11:

      http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/07/29/florida.burn.quran.day/index.html?iref=obnetwork#fbid=BarJg50tbit

      Fortunately it’s being actively opposed by many other Christians in the US along with American Muslim organisations.

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