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Friday, June 26, 2009
Winning the war of ideas
Non-Michael Jackson related news: I have a column in today's National Post based on a speech I gave yesterday at a Fraser Institute event.
It's about why Canadian conservatives must focus on asking themselves one simple question: Is it right?
Posted by Gerry Nicholls on June 26, 2009 | Permalink
Okay Gerry, fair comment time (nothing personal).
In the past, Freedom Party has invited you to become a candidate. You have declined, saying that you can help parties like Freedom Party better by remaining non-partisan. That's fair and good.
However, consider what *disservice* is done to any movement for free markets when you write things like this:
"In short, no one is forcefully speaking out for free markets and less government."
Excuse me? You know that Freedom Party exists, and you know what it stands for. You've debated Marc Emery, who (though he has not been associated with the party since 1990) you debated at the Liberty Summer Seminar (twice?). Freedom Party is a straight-up, honest, hide-nothing free market party.
I have personally been on talk shows for the party, advocating reality, reason, rational self-interest; rights of life, liberty, property; the role of government in defending rather than violating those rights; and, of course, capitalism: not some wishy-washy "if you're in business you're a capitalist" notion of capitalism, but the real deal: the separation of economics and state.
Robert Metz has done the same...but for longer: since about 1980. He currently has the only pro-reality, pro-reason, pro-rational-selfishness (i.e., "right", as in "is it right?", as you say in your article), pro-consent, pro-individualism, pro-capitalism radio program on Earth...it just recently aired its 100th episode.
"Ah", you might say, "but I said 'forcefully' speaking out for free markets." Well, first of all: who in Canada is more forceful than myself. Name one.
You write: "Politicians certainly have made good use of the Internet -- think Barack Obama and Ron Paul -- and so can the conservative movement."
Gerry: have a look. My own youtube channel has more subscribers than that of Canada's Prime Minister and Ontario's Premier (*combined*, if I recall correctly). http://www.youtube.com/paulmckeever also has more subscribers than ALL CBC channels on youtube save one, the global-content CBC channel: more than the channel for "The National", and more than the channel for "This Hour Has 22 Minutes".
Both Freedom Party of Ontario's channel and my own channel are *EXTREMELY* more popular than the channels of all other Ontario political parties...*combined*.
We're in the middle of a PC leadership race and subscribers to the channels of the PC leadership candidates are relatively MICROSCOPIC.
For all of that - decades of unwavering support for freedom and capitalism, hundreds of TV appearances by Freedom Party spokes persons (including 10s or maybe over 100 full-hour talk shows), a current radio program having over 100 aired episodes, and youtube popularity that is a huge embarrassment for all of the parties currently holding seats in our legislatures - we get from you:
"In short, no one is forcefully speaking out for free markets and less government."
Tell me Gerry. How could anyone do more HARM to the movement for freedom and capitalism, than to use ones column in the National Post to proclaim that it doesn't yet exist?
Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario
Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2009-06-26 1:11:12 PM
Hold on. I think there's a more fundamental question here. Do conservatives actually believe in capitalism and the free market?
So far, I've had conservatives tell me that there was no credible alternative to the bailouts (not just on this site but in personal conversations). I've also seen staunch defenders of Keynesian economics among conservatives. There are also obviously many staunch supporters of our central banks' manipulation of interest rates.
So here's the fundamental question. Should those who believe in liberty associate themselves with the conservative movement at all?
Posted by: Charles | 2009-06-26 1:49:02 PM
You win the war of ideas by connecting with voters emotionally. I agree you shouldn't have to; voters should vote with their heads, not their hearts. Unfortunately they don't, and an astute politician and/or policymaker proceeds with that in mind.
It is the old, old story: Whenever emotion enters a room, reason departs--usually by the window.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 2:00:03 PM
You make a very good point. It is a mistake to equate conservativism (or, especially, Conservativism) with capitalism. For example, Ontario's conservatives:
- effectively nationalized private power generation and distribution (with the Liberals objecting, incidentally)
- gave us the Human Rights Code
- gave us rent controls
- banned private health insurance, and set up a socialist government health insurance monopoly
- introduced the provincial Income Tax to pay for socialist health care
- banned Sunday shopping for retailers (it was the NDP who ended the ban on Sunday shopping)
The notion that conservatives are pro-free-market is a by-product of Ayn Rand's association with the US Republicans...an association that ended after Goldwater - gradually, over the course of his presidential campaign - abandoned the advocacy of principles and embraced the following emotional pap: "Goldwater: in your heart, you know he's right".
It put her off of politics for the rest of her life, but the conservatives still cling to Rand for the *appearance* of being pro-free-market. Yet, in both Canada and the USA, the conservatives - not liberals or other socialists - have been the biggest tax and spenders; they have grown government more, and faster, than any other group.
Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2009-06-26 2:12:39 PM
"Hold on. I think there's a more fundamental question here. Do conservatives actually believe in capitalism and the free market?"
I think the question is more a matter of, "What capitalism would they prefer to see"? If your preferred system is the vampire capitalism practiced in the late 19th and early 20th century by American robber barons, you'll have a tough time selling that to the rest of the population. Capitalism of that sort merely represents the polar opposite of communism.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 2:18:54 PM
"If your preferred system is the vampire capitalism"
You mean the type of capitalism that involved real growth of 7% coupled with deflation (meaning higher purchasing power); ie the one that made everyone better off? Of course not. You mean the type of capitalism where the state hands over massive sums of wealth from poor people to corporations. The type of capitalism where inflationary bubbles result in huge disparities between the rich and the poor and subpar economic growth. What a second, when I think of it ... that's not capitalism, it's fascism.
Shane. The right has never liked liberalism (capitalism). The European right never liked it because they enjoyed having all the wealth and power.
"late 19th and early 20th century by American robber barons"
I know ... kinda like Wal-Mart right? That evil company that brings lower prices to all consumers? The idiocy in some of your comments is nothing short of astonishing.
Posted by: Charles | 2009-06-26 2:37:05 PM
Hey Shane. Your analogy of robber barons really is idiotic. The only way that corporations can ever loot the public is if gov't grants them a monopoly (usually through exclusive licences and artificial barriers to entry). These are exactly the policies you favour! To blame the free markets for monopolistic behaviour is by far the dumbest thing I have ever heard. You really need to do some homework before you see these things. You're making yourself look sillier by the post.
Posted by: Charles | 2009-06-26 2:43:15 PM
For all their tough talk, Western Standard writers are a bunch of quivering cowards.
I agree with Shawn 100%. Get rid of these idiots. Nobody reads their crap anyway.
I would also suggest that you get rid of that horrid epsilon bitch. I wouldn't stop there either. Someone should deport her back to Moldova or wherever the hell she comes from.
Posted by: libertarianchick | 2009-06-26 3:32:42 PM
Shane writes: "Capitalism of that sort merely represents the polar opposite of communism."
If it needs an adjective, it's not a concept.
A is A. Capitalism is Capitalism. It's not "Vampire Capitalism", or "Crony Capitalism", or "Mixed-Model Capitalism", or "American Capitalism" etc.: it is, quite simply, the system in which the government ensures that nobody obtains a person's VALUES without the person's *consent*. Thus, in a capitalist system, nobody uses your body without your consent (e.g., where there is neither rape nor slavery), and nobody - not an individual, and not a group of individuals styled "the government" - takes your property without your consent.
Any system in which somebody or some group of people can obtain a person's VALUES without the person's *consent* is not a capitalist system. Period. Consent and capitalism: they are inseparable.
Communism is a form of collectivism in which no person is permitted to trade the use of his property for anything else because: communism does not recognize a person to have property. That is because communism, being a form of collectivism, does not recognize "a person". There are no individuals in a communist system: there is only the collective. There are no independent minds in a communist state: there is only the alleged will of the collective. Hence, a communist state renders reality, Man's means of recognizing it (reason), and an individual Man's happiness to be of no importance. An individual is but a gear in a giant mechanism, to be destroyed and replaced if it does not turn exactly how and when the rest of the mechanism attempts to force it to turn.
Communism is founded on a rejection of reality, a rejection of reason, and a refusal to recognize the existence (hence the importance) of any individual. To an individual, communism is death (murder/suicide, to be more precise).
So you are right about one thing Shane: "Capitalism...is the polar opposite of Communism". It is, in other words, the opposite of death/murder: it is life and the pursuit of ones own happiness.
Posted by: Paul McKeever | 2009-06-26 4:03:23 PM
Regarding Our so-called "conservatives." I ask the question?
Are Harper and his “conservative” government hypocrites?
By Stephen J. Gray
“Individual freedom is something Conservatives value…
What exactly are those conservative values?
I think we all instinctively recognize them when we see them, although it is sometimes difficult to define them. I like to summarize my idea of conservatism in three "Fs" --freedom, family and faith.” Stephen Harper 
Mr. Harper says he believes in “freedom,” yet his government sided with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and was an intervenor with others against free speech:
See full article at:
Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2009-06-26 4:04:39 PM
As long as Conservatives support the drug war, they do not believe in small government.
Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-06-26 5:03:59 PM
Paul with all due respect I'm from outside of Ontario and until I started reading this blog I'd never heard of the Freedom Party. I'm guessing all sorts of other folks haven't either.
And you're not the only one standing up, I'd argue that the taxpayers federation is probably the most visible from Coast to Coast.
But to speak to Gerry's point, we have a few small groups and individuals here and there fighting guerrilla wars but no real joint national effort standing up for free markets, smaller government, less regulations, lower tax's and all that other good stuff. And this is one of the problems.
Posted by: Farmer Joe | 2009-06-26 10:21:24 PM
"You mean the type of capitalism that involved real growth of 7% coupled with deflation (meaning higher purchasing power); ie the one that made everyone better off? Of course not."
I mean the type where eight-year-olds worked 14-hour days in textile factories, recessions were devastating due to lack of regulation and central planning, whole sectors of the economy were sewn up in private monopolies, and safety standards were almost nonexistent.
"Hey Shane. Your analogy of robber barons really is idiotic. The only way that corporations can ever loot the public is if gov't grants them a monopoly (usually through exclusive licences and artificial barriers to entry). These are exactly the policies you favour!"
Really? Microsoft became a de facto monopoly in the computer biz with the government's help. In fact, didn't the government step in on several levels to try to curb the same monopoly? Really, can you do no better than this conspiracy-theory rubbish?
"The type of capitalism where inflationary bubbles result in huge disparities between the rich and the poor and subpar economic growth. What a second, when I think of it ... that's not capitalism, it's fascism."
Can you back this assertion up? Or is it your opinion only? By the way, how you coming on that Brazilian hyperinflation?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:22:52 PM
"If it needs an adjective, it's not a concept."
Don't get philosophical.
"Capitalism is Capitalism. It's not "Vampire Capitalism", or "Crony Capitalism", or "Mixed-Model Capitalism", or "American Capitalism" etc.: it is, quite simply, the system in which the government ensures that nobody obtains a person's VALUES without the person's *consent*.
Says who and based on what?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:24:55 PM
"As long as Conservatives support the drug war, they do not believe in small government."
Substitute "crime war" for "drug war," and say that again. That's the trouble with libertarians--they're all anarchists at heart.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:25:33 PM
"I've been silent, but this takes the cake."
Well, rediscover the virtue in it, will you?
"I can't believe how fucking ignorant you are, Shane. Not only are you an idiot when it comes to marijuana, you are pathetically misinformed about what capitalism is, and what system America had in the 19th and 20th century."
So set me straight, gopher-balls. Do you think you can manage that? Or do you just flounce in, happy-slap everyone in sight, and caper back out again with your G-string in the crack of your ass?
"Vampire capitalism... did you learn that in your public school, Shane? It must be true, then."
Where do you get your "facts" from, Shawn? Oh, wait, you haven't presented any yet...
"Why don't you take a break from commenting on this website for a bit? In fact, why don't you stop posting on here altogether?"
Are you kidding? Now that I know it bugs the crap out of you and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, I'm going to double my contributions and watch you wriggle like a vampire with a stake through his navel.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:30:18 PM
"In order to teach anyone anything, that person needs to have a certain amount of humility."
So what you're saying is that no one can teach you anything?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:30:46 PM
"If he could only go away. If only the Western Standard had the balls to get rid of this trespasser who shits all over their property."
What's rebus for "projector"?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:31:33 PM
"For all their tough talk, Western Standard writers are a bunch of quivering cowards. I agree with Shawn 100%. Get rid of these idiots. Nobody reads their crap anyway."
Sex change, Shawn? Or did you just get dressed in the dark and put on your mother's dress again?
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:32:39 PM
P.S. Apparently you read it.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:33:08 PM
Sorry. That should read, "Microsoft became a de facto monopoly in the computer biz WITHOUT the government's help."
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-26 11:34:05 PM
wow, you really are all over this Shane. I need to do some research. Maybe I'm a Libertarian. I hope the intelligent ones reply so I can get a better read on this movement.
Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2009-06-27 2:08:22 AM
btw, how about some place I can find some facts on what you are saying. I'm sure both sides can provide some links or suggest a book or two. If you don't mind.
Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2009-06-27 2:12:07 AM
The facts on which, Steve? If you want the scoop on Microsoft, I thought that was pretty well known, especially to a PC repair technician. As for working conditions and lack of regulation in the early 20th century economy, where do I start? Just remember that the economic health in a modern society is generally measured by the size and stability of the middle class, and in 1900, the middle class was actually quite small. Of course, in 1900, nine in ten Americans still lived on farms...
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-27 8:35:39 AM
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