Ponderings on strategies for promoting freedom


Strategies for promoting a truly liberal society should be of central concern to those who value this ideal. As such, there is value in considering the message being conveyed, as without this, the language of freedom can appear anachronistic, despite the timelessness of its actual value. However of late, defenders of freedom have largely underperformed in marketing the ideas, arguments and consequences of the liberty of the individual against the tyranny of coercion.

The language that accompanied the attempt by some within and outside the Conservative Party to turn back the seemingly inextricable growth of the state suited the 1980s. The blatant and stark failure of socialist policies meant that the majority of the country was behind them. There really was no alternative and such harsh concepts became the political language of defenders of freedom.

If the language of Thatcherism is to be binned, what should replace it? Many think that the word ‘capitalism’ should be thrown out. In fact, any term that relies on purist individualism and Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ analogies are unhelpful. Also, to only focus solely on the economic efficiencies of freedom neglects the moral message that should accompany its defence. That said, usurping socialist words and giving them libertarian meaning would never do.

There are a number of thinkers around who are first-rate at conveying a modern message of liberty. For example in Individualists Who Co-operate Dr David Green draws on the Classical Liberal tradition to offer a very convincing narrative. Similarly, Dr Stephen Davies is an inspiring proponent of a free socie who though often drawing on the history of liberty, offers a thoroughly modern vision of how freedom works.

Clearly this is a subject of discussion that has no conclusion. Yet, especially in the UK, we have been averse to having it and in the process have not been as good as we could be at marketing our message. Which is a shame, because freedom should be an easy sell.