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Why Belgian libertarians should support UKIP

Europe’s main Eurosceptical formation, the United Kingdom Independence Party, of which I am a staunch supporter, held its annual convention earlier this month in Bournemouth, England. My personal affection for UKIP dates back to their “Say No!”-campaign and the EU elections of 2004. But since the party at that time was mainly dominated by leftists and statists like Robert Kilroy-Silk or Ashley Mote, I could only agree upon their stances regarding further EU integration back then. But this overall situation soon started to improve. In the aftermath of the grand victory of UKIP in the 2004 elections, both Kilroy-Silk and Mote left the party, voluntarily or not, and they took the entire socialist and right-extremist wings of UKIP along with them. And thank God they did…

When Nigel Farage MEP, a colourful politician known for his flamboyant speeches and boyish style, finally rose to power and became the new party leader, a fresh breath of air was released within UKIP. Farage immediately got rid of many old policies and viewpoints, and went back to the core of Anglo-Saxon conservatism. He not only embraced the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, but also started to defend more libertarian values, often against the wills, customs and plans of the old party bosses. But Farage never minded this and in spite of being subject to harsh opposition, his reformist steadfastness eventually prevailed. Farage finally managed to secure this new libertarian-like platform on this year’s UKIP convention, turning me - and many other continental Eurocritical libertarians with me - into even bigger supporters of UKIP. A true libertarian party in Britain at last.

And it is not only in continental Europe that this new UKIP platform with conservative, libertarian and Eurosceptical accents is well received. Polls and inquiries in Britain also show that UKIP is once again on the rise, even with the Tories adopting a more anti-EU platform as well. During the 2004-2009 session of the EU Parliament, UKIP achieved not by hazard a highly respectable and ideologically consistent status among both libertarians and conservatives. Proof? Two Tory Members of the House of Lords and one Conservative Member of the House of Commons defected to UKIP in the past years, and many Tory MEPs today - like Daniel Hannan or Roger Helmer - are even publicly supportive of UKIP positions.

On their convention in Bournemouth, UKIP also reached out to more moderate Britons by changing its aggressive tone and rhetoric, without hurting their underlying libertarian-leaning philosophy in any way. For instance, the cheap populist slogan “Let’s get our country back!” was finally removed and replaced by “Freedom to choose”, not by accident the same name as Milton Friedman’s notorious movie series. So in brief, the new UKIP is not only simply refreshing to watch but also to rally behind, and hopefully, they can achieve even greater things in June 2009 than they did five years ago. Europe counts on them.

Op vraag van UKIP-medewerker Stuart Parr schreef ik dit stukje voor de nieuwe internetgroep "Bloggers 4 UKIP".

Meer over deze Britse partij op

13 Reacties:

At 15:20 Vincent De Roeck said...

Ter kennisgeving. Ik vulde vandaag onderstaande enquête over de Bazaleti Summer School in op vraag van programmadirectrice Nona Karalashvili.

1. Name, Last Name, Position/Occupation

My name is Vincent De Roeck, a freelance columnist and Belgian student in Law and Political Science, the latter with a special focus on comparative politics and international relations.

2. Did you like the summer school? Why? What did you like the most?

I really enjoyed my time in Bazaleti a lot. It was a great experience to meet like-minded people from Georgia and to have lectures from some of the world’s most renowned academics. And especially the evening discussion sessions at the Lake were memorable moments to me.

3. What was the main thing that you got out of studies?

As a libertarian freemarketeer even before coming to Bazaleti, I already knew many things about economics, the law and the politics of freedom, but this seminar provided me with tons of extra information and dozens of practical examples/applications of libertarian theory.

4. Please, describe one typical day at the Bazaleti resort…

Waking up (too) early, a quick breakfast in the main restaurant, two lectures and a half before noon, lunch, free time, two and a half lectures in the afternoon, a Q&A session at the lake, dinner and social. Every lecture also includes time for small group discussions and many leisure breaks between them make the overall rhythm pretty comfortable.

5. What were the main challenges of the summer school?

The organizers tried to teach the basics of economic growth policies and to make the participants acquainted with the general principles of libertarian thought.

6. Do you think it was successful? Why?

I believe they were. On the first day, only few participants had some economic knowledge and the vast majority were socialists. After the week-long summer school, with the lectures and in-depth discussions, free-market economics had almost no secrets anymore for the participants and the socio-political beliefs of the attendees had shifted towards minarchism and libertarianism. Apparently, one week is sufficient to de-toxicate people and cure them from the life-long indoctrination through public education and leftist media they were subjected to.

7. What did seminars give you personally?

The biggest asset, next to meeting these terrific professors and local think tank staffers of course, was networking, especially because of my background in the libertarian movement and the fact that I already knew most of the content of the talks from before.

8. Do you think summer school studies were helpful? In what way specifically? How are you going to apply the knowledge gained at summer school?

As a trained lawyer and political scientist, it is very difficult to fully understand society because you lack economic knowledge. That’s why every summer, I am trying to participate in as many seminars on economics as possible, as student and as lecturer alike. Of course, the knowledge acquired in Bazaleti will be used in some way, but the specifics are not yet clear to me: either in politics or in my numerous engagements within the liberal-libertarian movement.

9. Do you think such initiatives are important? Why?

I do believe initiatives like the Bazaleti Summer School are very important for the formation of a new class of future elites, driven by liberty and the free market, instead of by greed and crypto-totalitarianism (from the left as well as from the right). Sadly, libertarianism and free-market thought need this kind of summer schools to get the attention they deserve. And for students who are only trained in one specific field, it is tremendously important to also broaden up his or her knowledge in other areas, and summer seminars tend to provide this kind of intellectual and educational opportunities.

10. What would you like to say to organizers and professors (besides thank you…)?

In brief. Thank you, keep up the great job, and see you next time! Perhaps you should make it more “advanced” in the future… And may the sun never set on the free republic of Georgia!

At 17:55 Evelyne said...

Het was kennelijk een zéér leuke ervaring daar in oorlogsgebied Georgie! Ik denk dat ik volgend jaar met je meeteen naar de Kaukasus...

At 17:57 guillaume said...

Ik dacht dat de enige echte libertarische partij in het Verenigd Koninkrijk die nieuwe was, de "UK Libertarian Party" of zoiets... Waarover je nota bene enkele maanden geleden hier al eens een tekst gepost hebt. Remember?

At 23:35 Anoniem said...

as a French libertarian I am opposed to the UKIP, a nationalistic political party, only interested in the United Kingdom. I hope that libertarism will find the ways to become universal, and not linked to a petty little kingdom. Therefore I see the European Community as a necessary step towards an international Libertarism....a woreldwide reign of free individuals, not something with borders and particular laws, but something beyond nations and regional considerations.

Rober Sermaise

At 23:37 Danish Dynamite said...

@ guillaume

Van alle 'libertarischgezinde' partijen in het VK is die LPUK waarschijnlijk wel ideologisch het meest consequent, maar wat koop je daarmee? Als je enkel kleine en middelgrote partijen in het VK in beschouwing neemt komt men eerder bij de English Democrats of de UKIP terecht (of zelfs de BNP van tijd tot tijd). En bij de grote partijen maken enkel de Tories nog een ietwat goede beurt.

At 23:39 Danish Dynamite said...

@ Rober Sermaise

Jingoism and nationalism are indeed wrong opinions, but they do not necessarily contradict libertarian philosophy. Super-states like the EU tend to be more centralized and hence more totalitarian than small nation states where God is still in charge of society, and not some allmighty government bureaucracy. Liberty needs boarders and bad exemples to justify its existence!

At 23:46 Anoniem said...

Ik wil ook mee naar Bazaleti next time!

At 12:01 Marc Huybrechts (op IFF) said...

@ R Sermaise

You seem to think that freedom is something that could be obtained 'for free', without effort or sacrifice, i.e. something that could fall out of the sky or that could be found in the soil like gold. That is contrary to all human empirical experience. One certainly cannot achieve individual freedom without 'rule of law' in a polity as opposed to arbitrary 'rule of (some) men' in that same polity.

Obviously a "worldwide reign of free individuals" is a utopian fantasy. Most people prefer to be 'slaves' to some kind of leadership or ideology, and let someone else do the thinking and the decision-making for them. In that specific sense, most people prefer to remain 'teenagers' as opposed to becoming responsible adults. Your aversion of 'nationalism' suggests that others have already done your thinking for you, because it is a manifest cultural dogma of our time (at least in the West, not in the rest of the world).

Different degrees of freedom get realised in different polities or political systems. Given that libertarism cannot possibly ever be "universal", why would you "oppose" a political party that would aim for realising libertarism in one particular country? You seem to be thinking that 'half a loaf' of bread is worse than no bread at all on this earth.

At 12:02 Johan Terwilghen said...

Vincent, zou die oligarch uit Georgië niet één van uw libertarische projecten willen sponsoren? Kan voor hem toch geen probleem zijn, en ik zie eigenlijk wel nog wat potentieel in uw ideeën.

At 13:21 Don Basilio said...

UKIP is obviously a party for Continentals: it's the only party that wants to make Europe independent of the UK.

At 13:37 Brigant (op IFF) said...

Sermaise: You seem to forget that the meaning of the concept 'nationalism' can differentiate.

As if the EU doesn't have borders nor particular laws. One can only be free at home or in a nation-state, not in a leviathan lacking political legitimacy.

At 14:05 Marc Huybrechts (op IFF) said...

@ Sermaise

If you want further 'proof' or indication that aversion to nationalism, or anti-nationalism if you will, is an established cultural dogma in the West, consider what 'danish dynamite' wrote. Without giving it any secondary thought, he simply declared nationalism to be a "wrong opinion". That is like saying that cosmopolitanism, or provincialism, or any other -ism, are all wrong opinions. As if there couldn't be good forms of nationalism, and bad forms of nationalism! It underscores my contention that most people let others do the thinking for them. So, they parrot slogans.

At 14:43 Vincent De Roeck said...

En Stuart Parr hield woord: vanaf vandaag vinden jullie deze impressie ook op de weblog "Bloggers 4 UKIP".


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