A Preface for Rebellion
My office colleagues were all delighted when Eamonn Butler invited me to write a blog for the ASI. Not because they share my long-held respect for the ASI – but because more simply they hope it will take significant pressure off their ears, which up until now have been numbed to bleeding by my continuous griping at the way socialism is ruining our country. My lamentations have now found a new outlet.
I have the great honour of being the Chief of Staff to the greatest MEP in the European Parliament, Nirj Deva. He is a fine man, and has affably encouraged my gradual shift in economics from the standard mushy-Keynesianism that any unthinking person assumes by default, via the rather more acceptable monetarism, to the true pinnacle of absolute truth. I mean of course Austrolibertarianism in the footsteps of Mises, Hayek and Rothbard etc.
One of my main duties here in Brussels is to draft the amendments for my boss to the ceaseless flood of reports that washes through the Development Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee. In case you didn’t know, International Development is the last great arena where the traditional ideologies can still vie for power. Here socialism lives as in its glory days of old. It is as if the fall of the Berlin Wall simply passed the euro-comrades by. Nirj’s principal (and principled) opponent on the Development Committee is Glenys Kinnock - and the land on which all our battles are fought remains the timeless: Is government the solution to existing problems or their cause?
We are in a world that is tilting over the edge of the very deep hole of global recession. Once we have fallen in, our only way out is through encouraging capital growth through real savings and promoting a more resilient understanding of property rights and free markets; or our continued descent will be through bringing in an unprecedented epoch of handouts from the state, more intervention and unpredictable behaviour-altering regulation. Nowhere is this ideological division more cleanly delineated than in development policy.
I look forward to sharing my observations and commentary with you – and the success of any blog lies in the quality of the feedback. So I offer the assurance now that all contributions will be read by me – and who knows? – perhaps the best ones even circulated more widely here in the Parliament.
My basic principles are that government’s only legitimate function is to protect three things: Life, Liberty and Property. Anything else it does is a usurpation of that liberty – and obviously all taxation is robbery backed by coercion, masquerading as social responsibility. Furthermore, we must abolish the Bank of England and return to the gold standard. I reduce the essence of Conservatism to: “Trust the People”. Winston Churchill, quoting his father, said that. Why don’t we give it a try sometime?
Benjamin Harnwell is Secretary General of the European Parliament’s Working Group on Human Dignity; and Chief of Staff to Nirj Deva MEP, Conservative International Development Spokesman in the European Parliament. He is writing in a personal capacity. This blog appears on Fridays.