On 22nd May 2014, our wise overlords have deigned to allow us to propose suggestions for how exactly we should be ruled. The 2014 continent-wide advanced auction sale of stolen goods European election should be exciting, considering the fact that a relatively new party, UKIP, is likely to do well. UKIP’s rise has been widely dismissed as the result of protest voting from the politically naïve and the racist. I’m not going to get into the tiresome issue of racism today, but the ‘protest vote’ part interests me.

Everyone and their aunt knows politics is a sham. Every major political party represents a bunch of crooks out for a million and one rich special interests before any one of their constituents. This is so blatant that to mention it is to be a complete bore. Yeah, and the sky is blue, so what? Not that this results in any real change – most are content to vote who they have always voted for in the vain hope that one of them might have the decency not to exploit, steal from or spy on them for one day.

Forget the three main parties – attempting to distinguish between them is an exercise in futility. The counter-culture movement is slightly savvier, and they have a few options: the Green party, the pirate party and No2EU, amongst others. Leftist blogger Thomas G’ Clark of ‘Another Angry Voice’ lays it out nicely in this article. The fact that the European elections rely on proportional representation ensures that votes for minor parties are rarely ‘wasted’, but are they viable options nonetheless?

Let’s get down to brass tacks

The entire electoral process obfuscates the real issues. Although political ideologues are often separated into left and right, these days it is more often shaped in terms of how ‘pro-Britain’ a party is, or how effectively the candidate in question can ‘lead a nation’. Discussing things in terms of left and right is more scientific, but limited.

The modern ‘politically literate’ spectrum consists of a right/left horizontal economic line and authoritarian/libertarian vertical line. The thinking behind it is that political ideologies vary in economic views and views on civil liberties. One can be an authoritarian lefty or a libertarian lefty, and the same for the right. Although this is a superior way of looking at things compared with the limited duality of the classical ‘left’ and ‘right’ spectrum, it is misleading, as it gives equal weight to issues of economic leftism and rightism across the civil liberty line.

'The modern way of looking at things' is still flawed

‘The modern way of looking at things’ is still flawed

My argument is that the further from the half way to point to the top you go, the less economics matters, and the further from half way down to the bottom you go, the less economics matters also. My reasoning is based on state power. Politics, when you break it down, merely concerns the appropriate use of aggressive force – how far should the government intervene in our lives? The square-shaped spectrum focusses too much on how exactly the government should intervene. Another Angry Voice’s spectrum above is actually a rectangle, further emphasising the differences between left and right and de-emphasising the authoritarian and libertarian line. For the committed libertarian, the size of government is the big issue, whether it be left or right, making the differences between all major parties almost arbitrary. From the point of view of statists, their concerns may seem petty, but I will argue that the authoritarian/libertarian dichotomy, far from being a cute concern of particular ideologues, is the political spectrum, and the left/right distinction is less important.

For that reason I am proposing a new type of political spectrum, that I am calling the Voluntaryist Political Spectrum. And it is shaped like this:
Voluntaryist Political Spectrum

As you can see, less emphasis is placed on the left/right dichotomy, and especially when you get to the upper and lower extremes of the authoritarian/libertarian vertical line.

There clearly are qualitative differences in economic policies between ‘left’ and ‘right’ with moderately sized governments (around the half way point on the authoritarian/libertarian scale). These are exemplified in the four types of socialism described by Hans-Herman Hoppe in A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism.  One type defines itself by a vast system of state owned industries, which is left-wing Russian-style socialism. Social Democracies are systems of comprehensive redistribution of wealth, but retaining some private ownership of production. One can also have the majority of production, with the exception of security, courts, fire department, etc. handled by the market supplemented by a comprehensive system of tariffs, regulations, subsidies and other interventions designed to benefit large corporations that have lobbied for them (right-wing crony capitalist socialism). And finally we have Social Engineering socialism, or fascism, that consists of all of that, but centrally geared towards a specific plan, like the Third Reich, or any theocratic regime.  Although most nation states incorporate policies from most or even all types of socialism, this helps to clarify our thinking. But despite having differences, the moderately sized states all more or less fit in the middle of the authoritarian/libertarian line.

It is traditionally thought that the most extreme kind of leftish economics is exemplified by communism (Soviet Union) and the most extreme kind of rightish economics is exemplified by fascism (Nazi Germany), and these represent polar opposite points of view, but this is not so clear either. The fact that Nazi stands for ‘National Socialist German Worker’s Party’ has caused some contention, but should give you a clue as to the similarities between them. My argument is that the differences between totalitarian states such as Stalinist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany are merely differences in strategy than differences in politics. Both of them represent the complete disregard for individual liberty in social and economic spheres, making them the same in all ethical aspects.

According to the presiding square shaped political spectrum, the differences between totalitarian communism and totalitarian fascism are as large as the differences between economic ideologies of all positions on the authoritarian/libertarian line. Another Angry Voice would even argue that the differences between Chomsky and Hoppe (both anarchists) are larger than the differences between Hoppe and Hitler!! But in real-life, once you get past ‘mixed-economies’ and into liberalism (freedom-oriented, small-state nations), the economic differences between left and right become less and less relevant. By the time you get to pure anarchism, it matters little what individuals believe about the economy – there is no state to enforce it.

Anarcho-syndicalism or anarcho-communism are completely compatible with anarcho-capitalism provided there is mutual respect for property rights (‘private’ or ‘public’. Once property rights are respected, how many individuals happen to own the property matters not one whit when thinking about politics).

Chomsky, being on the left, might advocate a policy of voluntary discouragement of capitalist activity, whilst a right-wing anarchist, like Hoppe, might advocate discouragement of socialistic activity. Anarchists like Walter Block would probably argue neither: if you accept the non-aggression principle, you’re OK with him. Either way, these points of view don’t represent as big of a difference as they do if the state is involved. Without a state, there is no singular force that can prevent a capitalist from owning property and acting in the market, or indeed from communists forming communes. Once the state is gone, we can fume at each others’ economic lifestyles in peace.

Similarly, once we have all-controlling totalitarian governments, what significance is there in the notion that production is in the hands of private businesses or in the hands of workers? At that point, when voluntaryism is not respected to any great degree, all you have is the state.

Where the British parties sit

Now we have that sorted out, we can begin to look at who libertarians could vote for.

Voluntaryist Political Spectrum - European Elections 2014

I’ve put ‘viable voting options’ under a relatively large spectrum: all forms of libertarianism, left and right. Let’s analyse why no party is up to snuff.

All three major parties sit in the ‘Authoritarian statism’ section on the authoritarian/libertarian scale, with minor differences in economic policy. Labour is slightly more leftish in orientation and Conservatives are slightly more rightish, with the Liberal Democrats sitting somewhere in the middle. They are all authoritarian in that they all advocate a central economic plan dictated by the Bank of England, which in turn gets its policy from the unaccountable IMF, and a vast system of legislation governed by the unaccountable EU. They are all more or less in favour of the slow but sure growth of the police state, as they are in almost uniformly interventionist foreign policy. Although the conservatives are implementing a more austere economic regime than labour would (which means, reducing the increase in spending by a small margin for a little while), they share the fascistic Keynesian assumptions of market-caused business cycles and considerable monetary stimulus in times of depression. Despite that, the country retains a moderately free market and some semblance of individual liberty, making it not authoritarian enough to be considered ‘totalitarian’, and not left enough to be considered Bolshevik socialist or social democratic.

Does UKIP represent any tangible difference to the establishment? Obviously anybody with leanings towards libertarianism, left or right, has no option in any of the main parties. If there is a party to vote for, it has to be down, and way down in comparison. But the only obviously libertarian policy UKIP advocates is the exit of the European Union, which is a great start, but their other policies are not indicative of a strong respect for liberty.

If the differences between left and right libertarianism maters so little, I should vote for a party like the Greens, right? Not so fast. Although parties like the greens represent themselves as ‘socially’ libertarian, they underestimate the authoritarian nature of their economic policies. How free is an individual if he is aggressively prevented, by the government, from opening and running a business, such as a rail service, as he wishes? How exactly do the Greens plan on preventing individuals from owning the means of production and hiring workers if there is not a powerful state to enforce it? The more socialistic their economic policies get, the bigger the state needs to be – there is no getting around that.

The greens argue: we wouldn’t need to cut back so much government spending if we closed the loopholes that allow the rich to pay less tax. A more prescient argument is: we wouldn’t have to steal from people so much if the government didn’t throw our money down the toilet through ineffectual government programs and monolithic bureaucracies like the EU.

Before any strong libertarian would even think of voting for one of these left-leaning ‘libertarian’ parties, they would need to clarify which principle they are more committed to: that of liberty or of equality.  They should be commended for making a stand on spying, the drug war and needless foreign entanglements, but if their hatred of capitalism supersedes their love of individual liberty they have to be considered more of the same and not worth the time of day.

All of the problems of the presiding political establishment are problems of statism: discredited economic central planning, endless war, police statism, over-regulation, the war on drugs. Yet the Green party reckons that what we need to combat all of this is more statism. Just bizarre.

The Pirate Party is more focused on civil liberties, which is wonderful, but they do not seem to propose anything tangible when it comes to the economy, and they are but a small party with viable candidates in a few areas. No2EU is a slightly more left-wing anti-Europe party, which begs the question: why not just vote UKIP who might actually have a chance of making an impact?

The hard truth of the matter is that for those who make a stand against state power in every aspect of our lives, there are zero options in this coming election.

The only coherent argument you can make for voting at all is defensively voting UKIP in the hope that they can influence European Parliament to limit its power (call me cynical, I don’t believe the Conservatives have any intention of fulfilling their promise of a referendum on the EU).  The EU is ipso-facto authoritarian and requires dismantling as soon as possible, and if voting UKIP can get us a step closer to that, it might be worth it. In other aspects, UKIP are hardly coherent in their arguments, let alone proposing something viable. However, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Although I’d like to end the nation state tomorrow, tackling merely the most apparent and encompassing threat to freedom is the most practical option today.

If exiting the EU means we can push back against leviathan, then so be it. In its stead, we should be enthusiastically in favour of free trade, diplomacy and peace with the nations of Europe. Ironically this was the original stated intention of unification, which has since been morphed into a hydra of bureaucracy. If you are strictly talking about voluntary cooperation between the peoples’ of each nation, I am in favour, but not the giant governments that accompany it. I would prefer a world of hundreds of Serbias and Monetenegros ahead of 3 or 4 USAs, Chinas, Russias and EUs.

Governments have never, and will never, represent the peoples they claim to be agents for. When I say I am ‘anti-Europe’, I am merely making a stand at the gang of thieves writ large that pretends to know what is best for the people. I adore European culture, food, arts, and their people, but I despise to the core of my being those that claim to stand for what they stand for, and wield unaccountable power in aid of it. This is the real issue, not the distractions of immigration and multiculturalism, which by comparison are petty.

Immigration, on the face of it, is a problem, but only as a symptom of the wider problem of statism. In theory, UKIP are anti-immigration because the influx of people puts a strain on the NHS and the welfare state. However, this is more of a statist issue than a immigration issue. If the welfare state and the NHS were fixed to a point that we could guarantee that only the genuinely disadvantaged and needy were catered for, there would not be any economic problem with open borders. Nobody really opposes immigration for those who are willing to work, save for the few who genuinely believe the polish are taking their jobs (that they would refuse to do anyway).

Supporting a party is a trap one should not fall into. It compels one to defend points of view that may be in contradiction to what one truly believes, and defend the party from attacks based on the undesirable actions of a select few within it. This makes UKIP a totally unviable option in the long term.

But all of these arguments only apply if you have not already dismissed political action as, at best, ineffectual. In real life, on the 22nd, I will be sitting at home with my feet up, cleaning my nails with the edge of my voting card. I have long since rejected elections as an insult to the intelligence. Does the state think we are foolish enough to believe we can affect real change at the highest level through voting? And I am talking about real change, not boring old socialism. I’m talking about nullifying the real point of power: the state, and all of its aspects. This takes long-term mind-changing, education and continually ramming home the point that nearly every time ones preferences are not met to one’s satisfaction, the state is involved somewhere. One day the world will get it, laugh, and just ignore the state. One day, but not on May 22nd.