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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Is ACT Libertarian? My View

Anon asked some questions on the thread on this post.

The blog this links to says Rodney is a libertarian.

I thought he was a traditional Liberal, as ACT says.

What the hell do Libertarians believe in. Are they just another Utopian mob like communists, fascists, and social crediters?


and;

Is ACT a libertarian party? If not, how does it differ?

ACT is a classic liberal party-ie it believes that society and individuals are best placed to improve their own lives and that the state should not be telling us what to do.

I consider myself a libertarian, which I view as pure and urgent form of classic liberalism.

I believe the state should be limited to providing defence and justice and that we should move to this ideal situation ASAP.

Classic liberals lean towards similar views, but most tend to be a little more patient and pragmatic in their approach.

Some classic liberals would also not support every libertarian position. Some might support free trade and lower taxes, but balk at legalised prostitution and drugs for instance.

ACT, while a small party is still a broad church.

While many ACT people are libertarians-especially in ACT on Campus, not all are.

Every ACT member I've ever met believes in lower taxes, educational choice, reducing the size of government, respect for private property, sound defence policies and free enterprise.

Those things are also common to many conservatives, so ACT attracts some conservatives who think National is too wishy-washy.

ACT stands against privilige and authoritarianism. We believe in meritocracy and that the state house kid from Porirua has as much right to a great future as the son of a Hawkes Bay sheep farmer or the daughter of a multi-millionaire currency trader.

For that reason we attract social democrats who understand that Labour socialism drags us all down while free enterprise raises us all up.

Many ACT members are socially liberal, so we attract people who believe that sexuality is no business of government, or that what you put in your body is no-ones business but your own.

However some ACT members are more socially conservative and are unhappy with a libertarian approach to drugs, prostitution etc.

Overall ACT is united around key issues, but there is huge diversity of views around the edges.

Thankfully ACT is a very tolerant party where young, atheist, near anarchist libertarians find common cause with Bible believing Christians, ex-Labour social liberals and ex-Nat "salt of the earth" farmers.

There is only one true libertarian party in New Zealand-the Libertarianz. They are very consistent in their libertarianism, but struggle to make electoral headway.

A few ACT members are also Libertarianz members. A few are also in the Nats. Some may even be in Labour or the Greens. I know that some certainly support the Maori Party.

ACT incorporates many libertarian ideas, but is more pragmatic and willing to do deals with those we may not always agree with in order to improve this country.

To be fair, we struggle electorally as well, but always manage to get some MPs into parliament and are very optimistic about the coming election.

So ACT is not a libertarian party. It is a classic liberal party that unites libertarians, social democrats and principled conservatives around some key, pro-freedom policy platforms.

I do not presume to speak for our two MPs, Heather Roy and Rodney Hide, but in my experience both are consistently socially and economically liberal.

They are both highly principled individuals and smart politicians who know how to use ACT's small size to maximum advantage.

I hope to see Heather and Rodney in cabinet in the near future so that they can show New Zealanders how freedom actually works.

That's my view.

No doubt other ACT members will have a different take.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for that informative little tract.
Sounds like ACT is the highest development of rational humanitarian political thought. Apparently there's something for everyone, from the courthouse to the cowshed. What's that expression that the kids reach for in these cases - Totally Awesome!
In that case, why is ACT still dragging its arse along in the polls below the margin of error, the fundy christians and the greeny nut bars?
Is Joe public too thick to see the quality, or is the product really just another wacko sect attached to a few big habitually flapping mouths?

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a good reply thank you Trev. Ignore the nitwit above, who argues with the fallacy of if you are so smart how come you ain't rich. (It helps to be smart to become rich, but not everyone smart becomes rich, of course.)

Libertarianism is an interesting philosophy, but not for me.

You explained it well.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Far as I'm concerned, New Zealand is blessed to have two libertarian parties.
One has an empty kind of purity, earned by clean hands of inactivity. The other also acts to implement the things it, ACT, believes in.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick says ACT is a libertarian party, but it doesn't seem to advocate axing all anti-drugs laws for example, nor abolishing alcohol licensing and laws.

Trevor explained that supporters included libertarians but it was broader than that.

So do you accept it is a classic-Liberal party or do you still regard it as libertarian???

12:41 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Who sir? Me sir?
Of course Trevor's right that ACT is broader than libertarianism and there's plenty of room and a warm welcome to less radical participants of which we are not short.
To my way of thinking classical liberals and libertarians, and liberals, are much of a muchness. More of historic interest than descriptive of different attitudes.

That's how I view things. And I believe with sufficient pressure, and success, ACT would soon sieze that substances policy- as many (especially the younger members) are itching to do already.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

None of you sages replied to my original question, which, as any literate person can see, was not about being smart or rich.

(Typical politicial answer - ignore the hard question and answer your own one.)

To repeat my question, Trevor, if ACT is so crash hot, why are have the punters been so consistently cool on it?

8:35 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

If we knew the answer to that anon, we'd be in government by now.


I think we've done incredibly well to have popularised pro liberty ideas to the degree that we have.

I remember pushing similar ideas in the '70s.

It was like speaking Martian to most people in those dark days of Muldoonism.

However we have failed to be as popular as our ideas deserve to be, so we must look to ourselves for the answers.

I think at times we have been overly intellectual in our approach and have spread our ideas too thinly.

I think promoting fewer key policies much harder will help.

I also think we could "democratise" our internal structures more to re-enthus our activists.

Does anyone else have any suggestions?

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very interesting revelation there.

How is the lack of democracy made manifest inside the ACT parties internal structures?

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When did the ACTivists become de-enthused?

9:45 AM  

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