In the wake of Texas Congressman Ron Paul's Goldwater-esque run for the presidency, many groups around the world have coalesced online with a single goal: to defeat the establishment. It's true, there is always going to be a certain degree of irony when a group of free market anti-government libertarians form a political party. But when they do, you can be sure they'll do it in style.
Having left Ireland to start a business in Scotland a year ago, I was delighted to discover that libertarians were beginning to organize here in the land of Adam Smith. Mostly these would be small gatherings in pubs and living rooms, and more often than not, over the internet. As many Ron Paul supporters will attest, if the mainstream media have anything to say about it, the Revolution will not be televised. But it sure will be typed. A far cry from what you'd expect from your average straight-laced political party, Scottish Libertarians have a mildly subversive, even punkish image, which is mostly down to the work of Indie Venture, a professional graphic designer and communications officer for the Party.
It was a dour, overcast day when I arrived in George Square, Glasgow for my first meeting with our leader, Logan Scott. One thing you should know about us 21st century revolutionaries is that we rarely meet in person. As a fellow writer and libertarian, I knew we had a lot in common, yet at an imposing six foot four, wearing a grubby black Stetson hat and a purple waistcoat and tie, I must admit I was rather startled on first meeting. Known locally around Glasgow as the “Duke,” Logan Scott is a devotee of Western Goth and 19th century literature.
Tell me about yourself.
I am from Los Angeles, California where I studied Communications at Pepperdine University in Malibu with a special emphasis in British History and Politics. Since then, I have worked for various Scottish-American non-profit groups in Oregon before moving to Scotland nearly fifteen years ago. I have spent most of my life studying, writing, and lecturing on the Cultural History and Philosophy of the Romantic Era (1776-1929), which of course encompasses politics.
What made you become a libertarian?
I remember attending a speech by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and thinking that all a president needs to do is follow the Constitution. At the time I considered myself a Republican, but soon after Reagan left office I changed my registration to independent. In retrospect, I could say that I have always been a libertarian, but I was reluctant to officially adopt the branding until about seven years ago. I believe that for most people their chosen political label has a great deal to do with the values instilled in them as children. It just takes them awhile to find the right fit. As for myself, I have always followed my own path and I don’t like being told what to do without my consent. I guess that makes me a libertarian.
I cannot speak for all the Scottish people, but those I have spoken with tend to be wary because the libertarian message runs counter to post-Imperial Scottish culture. Since the end of the Second World War the values of socialism have been imbued into the culture and these all seem like great things on the surface, such as the importance of working together, helping the needy, and ensuring everyone has a certain standard of life. It is not until they personally feel the pinch of successive governments and witness its absolute failure do the lights come on and they see they had been sold a false bill of goods. Those I have “converted” become much more receptive once they come to that realisation.
As libertarians go, I consider myself a Classical Liberal. For me this means keeping focused on the central libertarian principles while at the same time dealing with the practicalities before you. I believe that socialism creates a culture of dependency and entitlement. A radical implementation of libertarian ideals would be the equivalent of releasing a tame animal into the wild, which could prove disastrous. This means a step-by-step process, and I would start with economics. Freeing business from taxation and regulation, while at the same time freezing public sector spending, will allow the private sector to grow to stage where people can start moving out of public sector employment. It’s all about shrinking the size and scope of government.
There are many people in the Scottish Libertarian Party who are adamantly in favor of it. There are others just as passionately against it. Personally, I am for neither the current situation nor independence. If it was in my power, which it is not, I would like to see a federal system implemented with powers divested from London to newly created regions of which Scotland would be one. The only powers remaining in Westminster would involve international affairs.
Throughout the Twentieth Century the socialists have heralded the failure of capitalism with every market crash. What we are witnessing now is the failure of socialism. The governments have run out of other people’s money and can no longer support their debts let alone pay for all of their promises. Their dependents may cry, moan, protest, and riot, but none of this will change the grim reality that the money is gone. Liberty is the only moral alternative and over the next five years the people of Scotland will come to realise that Adam Smith was right and Karl Marx was wrong. Unfortunately, for many people in Scotland this will be a freedom forced upon them by circumstance and not one freely chosen.