Freedom or participation?

Attawapiskat kulturni dom
Optimism is the opium of the people

2016-06-15 voting systems

Political participation is one of the most difficult questions for libertarians. Liberty is a great idea, but it is not easy to get to it from where we are now. Like (I hope) most libertarians, I do not believe in revolutions because they are always violent and never end up in freedom.
This leaves us with the difficult task of fighting for it within the confines of the social democracies we live in.
Democracy is a fundamentally flawed system even when it works well, meaning that it truly reflects the will of the people; but more often than not, it does not even do that.
In a world where the people’s will is respected, the composition of the Canadian parliament would look like the picture above, but would it be a good thing?
On the one hand, undoubtedly. It would truly legitimize the party and would give much greater exposure to our ideas. On the other hand, it could taint us in many ways.

The likely outcome

The most likely result of a PR system is a less functional parliament. This is a well known problem of PR systems. It is not a problem in the scenario illustrated above, but just a little higher numbers in the fringe parties and more entering the picture would create a world of permanent minority/coalition governments.

Switching to PR would simply mean more small parties having limited access to public policy making. We could just as well say that small parties will have the illusion of access to policy making. What is most likely to happen is a lot of deal making.

When we wish to evaluate a political proposal, it is always a good idea to look at who are the people pushing it. PR is always promoted by statists. We should ask why. The intuitive answer, even if we do not fully understand the reasons is that it must be so because it helps the growth of the state. The most enthusiastic promoters of proportional representation are the fringe parties of the left who are very eager to prostitute themselves and to support any idea that makes the state do more ‘good’.

The benefits

The greatest benefit, again, is exposure. It would also open the door for growth as libertarian leaning members of the conservative party may start considering us a viable alternative. While it would give us legitimacy and a chance to grow, these positive effects would be outweighed by the risks and problems.

The problems

At best we will be ignored, at worst we will be corrupted. Our votes will be courted and return favors offered. We will not have a chance to make a real difference until we have enough representatives to tip the balance of power and we will not get there unless we stick to our principles and avoid the temptation of getting into the deal making.

The politics

The overwhelming majority of the electorate is NOT interested in proportional representation. The referendums lost in both B.C. and Ontario. I think it is a losing proposition and it will not benefit us hitching a ride on a statist idea. Let’s suppose that it will win. It will have problems and we will be associated with it.

The policy

By declaring our support for proportional representation in our party platform, we would send a message that we are willing whores of the political bordello, that we are willing to compromise to get closer to power.
In the minimal government that we are all striving for, the reasons driving the PR idea would be irrelevant. We do not want ‘fairness’ on the statist’s terms, we want freedom.
Eventually, we should work out our own proposals for the best possible ways of representation, but simply attaching ourselves to this particular idea may not be a good one.
UKIP has 1 seat in the British parliament representing 0.15% of the seats, yet they are in full control of the relevant national dialogue. The Brexit is discussed on UKIP’s terms.

I suggest that libertarian parties should simply ignore the question. If asked, their position should be that they will champion freedom and a small government under any voting system. PR is for parties that are desperate for power and would do anything to get close to it. Libertarians fight for principles.
I would definitely NOT put support for PR into a libertarian platform.

2 replies on “Freedom or participation?”

  1. There are a few problems with the proposed solution (most of which you hit spot on) and one inherent problem with the libertarian model of politicking. I will address the latter.
    This inherent problem is supporting the idea of a small state while running through the political system by the current system rules. If we were to reduce every possible state intrusion into private lives, we will discover that the smallest possible state is an absolutist minarchical monarchy of a limited territorial stretch to where the state would be able to be self-funded from the business generated by the domains of the crown (this is the only way you can do away with taxes and still have a state). But I would be very hard pressed to hear any “main stream” (within the libertarian universe) libertarians argue for something like that.
    Just like I find it ridiculous for the libertarian party to even have a presidential nominee in the US right now. What are they going to do if they win? Reform the country through executive orders? Isn’t that the exact behaviour that they were criticising in Obama?

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