The Great Debate: Should Libertarians Join The Liberal Party?

So. It sucks to be a libertarian in the Liberal Party at the moment. Small government principles seem to be under attack from all sides.

So I posed this question to libertarians, both within the Liberal Party, and outside: “Should a believer in small government, individual freedom, and free markets, join the Liberal Party?”

This is what they said.


12 Responses to “The Great Debate: Should Libertarians Join The Liberal Party?”

  1. Robert Wiblin Says:

    I am not sure what I think of this, but here are some thoughts:

    In general, the more closely involved in politics you are, the harder it is to be rational and think up and know the best policy. Your association to party members around you makes you use believes as signs of commitment to the group, and hold your tongue much of the time. If you are smart, this is a waste of your talent (

    It is very unlikely that any major party in Australia will end up adopting classical liberal positions in many policy areas, because most Australians are not as concerned about the value of individual autonomy as are classical liberals. Unless we persuade more people to adopt these unusual positions, we will only be able to influence things on the side (somewhat lower taxes, somewhat less regulation, somewhat more liberal drug laws etc). The benefits of influencing politics even in the best situation are therefore limited.

    Classical liberals are a very intellectual group of people, with a high proportion of ‘thinkers’, writers and think-tanks compared to most other political groups. This suggests a few charismatic leaders could make a big difference. However, most people are not going to be charismatic leaders who bring good ideas to the public (Friedman style).

    For most of these people, there are lots of ways of improving the world that are probably more time effective than competing in the political process. Invent something that makes more stuff, and everyone can have more of what they want (

    Between functioning countries politics and laws probably has less impact on the welfare of people than we think. Studies of subjecive well-being support this. Swedes might not be so free, but they’re not clearly less happy than people in the US. The culture of a place matters much more probably.

    There are other ways for people with extreme moral values to get more of what they want without having the persuade othesr: Charter cities, Seasteading, immigration, free state project, federalism and diverse local govts in general, etc. These may be easier than persuading others to have your particular moral tastes.

  2. Tim Humphries Says:

    All options should be explored in a rational systematic way. Keeping an open mind is key.

  3. Tim Andrews Says:

    Comment on the ALS blog, not here…

  4. Ben Raue Says:

    Let me ask you this, Tim, if you were a New Zealander, would you fit in with ACT? I tend to think in a PR system you’d see other minor parties than the Greens rise up, and I wonder whether an ACT-style libertarian party could get anywhere.

  5. Tim Andrews Says:

    Yes, but the problem remains that the balance of power will be held by a small minority who are effectivly impossible to get rid from office, yet also effeictly (through holding the balance of power) choose who the govt is and can even run the country.
    And I don’t think that that is a good thing.
    the easier we can get rid of people, and the less stable things are, the better.

  6. Tim Andrews Says:

    Anyway please direct all further debate questions to the ALS blog, not here πŸ™‚

  7. Sean Says:

    I think Libertarians/Classical Liberals shojld definately join the Liberal Party! Withdrawing from front line politics and retreating to the lofty heights of academia or think tanks will restrict the direct impact on public policy making.

    The Tories in the 1970s and 1980s are a good example. There were a few libertarian politicians but those who were there actually implemented policies to free the economy. The “Wets” did not run think tanks but they were MPs and they resisted the pressure put on them by these think tanks. It was the “Dry” MPs who implemented the ideas from those places and put it into practice.

    You will never get purity in politics, but at least you can get a little bit closer to being there if you put the effort in.

  8. John Humphreys Says:

    Sean — when?

    When are we going to “get a little bit closer”? Because we’ve been waiting for the Liberals to do some good for a long time, and all they do is take us backwards.

  9. Jake the Muss Says:

    I now refuse to discuss the matter on the ALS blog Tim.

    When are you actually going to respond to my rebuttle of your frankly retarded beliefs on proportional representation?

    Derr if 49% want to believe something, then like 2% extra can make it happen derrrrr, that means we live in a dictatorship derrrrrr.

    Yes that’s right, a disgraceful distortion of your argument. That’s how I roll baby!

  10. Tim Andrews Says:

    I will be doing a full and proper post on PR sometime soon πŸ™‚

  11. TerjeP (say tay-a) Says:

    Here is something to chew on for libertarians that would like the Liberal Party to succeed.

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