Libertarians; we didn’t start the fire

Last night I find myself in a discussion with some libertarians and anarchists.

They’re quite a funny old bunch and despite the many lessons of history, and the fact they’re communicating on a medium invented at CERN, which receives billions in tax-payers money they seem quite happy to organise themselves into groups and troll around the interweb despite the irony of doing so.

Some of them are just plain old selfish bastards who resent having to pay tax, and others seem to see the state as arbiters of oppression and violence who make war. To some extent I can sympathise with the latter, our party went way too far in removing some civil liberties, not least the innocent civilians who, regardless of whether or not the wars were right or wrong or legal or not, were needlessly killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The state still tells us a lot of what we can do, what we can put in our bodies, when we can do some things like go for a drink or food, and a whole host of other things that frankly have sod all to do with government be they central or local.

However, much as I want a very different state, I do want a state and the reasons why can best be demonstrated using what I call the ‘fire engine test’.

Let’s imagine there is no state, and you’ve built a house (yourself or maybe bartered some mushrooms found near your house to get someone else to build it for you), let’s imagine you aren’t in some violent dispute with a new neighbour who has just rocked up and built a house right next to yours but a little closer to the mushroom patch leaving you no recourse with planning (as it doesn’t exist) and therefore using the pitchfork you have which you bartered from the blacksmith (obviously heavy industry can’t really exist without money so we’d be taking some steps backward technologically) as a weapon to defend home.

Let’s even imagine that the national grid can indeed function on allotment veg and so can the phones.

So we’re assuming you’re having a peaceful life, you’ve learned to be self-sufficient, and your garden looks quite nice.

Now, sorry to point this out my old chum but your house is on fire. Fuck me,  it’s up in smoke but who cares, just build a new one and without planning requirements you can even put on that tasteful stone cladding this time. Oh hang on, your family is in the house, and you still like them.  This is the point for you to go into your home and find that flammable piece of paper with the Fire Busters phone number on it (no 999 after all) and give them a call (I know, hoping they had a phone system that would work with yours). You tell them where you live; no postcodes as there’s no state to organise that kind of pointless rubbish, but the mushroom patch is well known so they know how to get there. So we’re conceding a lot here but there are 3 questions I can’t answer:

– Without properly funded roads how do they get to you?

– If they arrive are we hoping they’ve brought enough water as there won’t be a mains supply? (Which is a double whammy as on the dirt tracks the extra weight of the water would probably result in the engine becoming bogged down)

– Then how are you going to pay them when they’ve put the fire out?

If anyone can answer these questions they win a prize which is the right to fuck off to some crappy little island somewhere whilst the rest of us get on with being sane. Obviously they’ll have to build their own boats as the island won’t have an airfield or a proper dock, but should they make it good luck to them. I’m going for a nice walk on a state-built path and I’m going to enjoy it.

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3 Comments

Filed under Civil Liberties, Libertarians, Nutters, The Wars

3 responses to “Libertarians; we didn’t start the fire

  1. Issac

    A great analogy, even extreme libertarians believe in minimal state functioning it’s the anarchists that you have to look out for 😉

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  3. gwenhwyfaer

    Er, anarchism is traditionally a left-wing thing. The more extreme libertarians might have adopted it, but they completely overlook all the government and legal frameworks that keep markets in existence in the first place.

    And the left wing vision of anarchism is rather more “as soon as one member of the community notices that another member’s house is on fire, everyone will rally around to put it out, because if one of us is harmed, all of us are harmed” than “sorry, mate, you’ll have to pay someone”.

    You might enjoy reading some Bakunin and Kropotkin; as far as I know, they’re well out of copyright, so they’ll be kicking around for free on the web somewhere. And they’ll leave with you with a much better idea of what anarchism is really about than the free-market fundies will.

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