(Photograph by Mokeneco)
Daniel Pryor urges libertarians to cast off the oppressive shackles of basement-dwelling.
It’s currently a Sunday evening, and I am eternally grateful that The Backbencher is largely in the business of the written word rather than the podcast. Why? Following several late nights and their accompanying hangovers, my voice has now crossed the threshold of ‘Marge Simpson’ husky, morphing into something reminiscent of Agent Strahm’s post-tracheotomy hiss in Saw V. The past few days have been spent at ‘Freedom Week’ in Cambridge, discussing libertarian and classical liberal ideas with a cohort of (relatively) like-minded individuals.
Yes, that’s right; I met people with a penchant for the free market. Not on Twitter, but in the flesh. It’s often thrown around that the worst enemies of libertarianism are libertarians themselves, and part of the reason for this is that we often neglect to translate discussion on the internet into the realms of corporeal life. Excitedly debating the history of private welfare after a few glasses of wine isn’t just fun: it’s a hugely beneficial aid to personal and political development. My party’s leader may be David Cameron ̶ not Nigel Farage ̶ but that doesn’t stop me from admitting that the best exchanges of ideas, discussions and debates often occur at the pub over a pint (or two, or three).
It’s often thrown around that the worst enemies of libertarianism are libertarians themselves.
There are plenty of informal libertarian meet-up groups in Britain’s major cities, as well as a plethora of pro-market organisations that host regular events designed to appeal to those of similar persuasion. Whether it’s the IEA’s full-to-bursting calendar or the Adam Smith Institute’s TNG group, there are a huge range of opportunities in the UK for listening to inspiring speakers, socialising and discussing policy matters with fellow libertarians. Whilst many of those you will meet are likely to be similar in overall political outlook, there will also be more than enough of a divergence in views to avoid spending two hours enthusiastically agreeing with somebody about absolutely everything.
With even Owen Jones ruefully confessing that the Left has lost the 20th Century, it is easy to get complacent. But the freedom, innovation and wealth spawned from free markets are forever threatened by those who misguidedly trust the state to be the most effective mechanism for creating social justice, wealth and individual liberty. Rather ironically for enemies of collectivism, it is united we stand: meeting and sharing different viewpoints, yet all ultimately treading a similar path towards liberty.