One year old, sixteen hundred members throughout Australia, and almost every person who can read a newspaper or has a TV set has heard of it.
Condemned as fascist, the protector of big business and vested interests, stooge group for the Liberals, and the enemy of the true worker on the one hand, and publicly supported on the other by those who fear communism, anarchy, and social disorder, the W.P. has been whatever its critics or “supporters” like to make of it.
If we are to believe what we read in the newspapers, then the Workers Party is a party comprising a group of cold-hearted, ruthless exploiters all earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by ripping people off, and who passionately hate the Labor Party.
If we are to believe what some of the spokesmen (some since departed) of the Party base had to say in the past, then it is a party devoted to protecting private mining interests, and demolishing the Labor Party at any cost.
A lot of the “supporters” of the W.P. are merely fugitives from the social liberalism of the Labor Party, and who are just as misguided about the true nature of the party as are its critics. Anyone who really comprehends the Party platform, which is libertarian, knows that it is first and foremost pro-freedom, rather than just anti this or that.
Because of the association with the W.P. of people like Lang Hancock, Maxwell Newton, and Sinclair Hill, all who can be seen as having special interests to protect (and the point here is not to query whether in fact that is why they may be interested in the Party or not) the W.P. has been identified simply and solely with these vested interests. And thus has attracted supporters who might really be more at home in the Liberal Party.
What is crying out to be heard by a media that appears mainly concerned with the grossest misrepresentation of facts and non-information is that the ideals behind the W.P. are beautiful and honourable.
Love of freedom is an honourable love.
To ask that you be left alone to live your life according to your own choices and to be free to accept responsibility for your own actions, and all the while respecting your neighbours rights to do the same — where is the dishonour in that? What is so ridiculous, or dangerous about such a desire, which is compatible with neither right wing nor left wing politics?
Because the world is in such a hideous mess, is that all the more reason not to admit that the accepted historical way of doing things has failed us? Can we not accept that is just might be time to look at an answer that has hardly been given a hearing in the past?
Some members of the W.P. seem to think that the value of the Party lies in it being a good bee in the backside of the Liberal Party. These people think, “Ah yes, we should have more free enterprise!”, “Less government control of the economy!”, “Inflation is a bad thing!”, “Taxation is too high!” etc. etc. “Lets show the Libs what free enterprise is all about!”
These same people are shocked at the thought of decriminalising drug use, prostitution, abortion, and pornography. They think that Gay Lib is irrelevant, that Women’s Issues are non-issues, that the only way children will be educated is through compulsory education, and that the only way to preserve peace is to build bigger and better nuclear weapons.
And the libertarians, the quiet believers in freedom, say nothing, and do nothing.
They look with horror at the Conservative elements in the Party, the ones doing anything and getting all the publicity, and say, “See, this is what happens when you become involved in politics”. Or, the most devoted of the Randians do nothing and justify it because the Party does not meet up to their rarefied expectations — So and So is not perfect, doesn’t understand his philosophy, acts inconsistently, is epistemologically unsound qua unsound etc. etc. — or they argue interminably about the minutest details, delaying action until their Randian expectations are met, which is never, so they have their reason not to act.
Wheelers and dealers are more at home in politics than thinkers. So wheelers and dealers, and the enthusiastic ignorant, abound, and thinkers are rare. Hardly ever is there a satisfactory marriage of intellect and action.
This should not be the case.
The fact of political reality is this: ideas on their own, sitting in someone’s head, do not achieve anything. Action on its own achieves something.
Can the people who know and truly grasp the concept of freedom afford to sit back any longer? The critic’s armchair may soon disintegrate.
If libertarians do not
- increase their numbers and
- become actively involved in the W.P.
then the chance of making sure it becomes and remains a libertarian party will be lost forever. Who can blame the Conservatives if they receive no challenge? Who can blame them for holding certain beliefs is there is no one to show them the inconsistencies in asking for freedom for themselves on the one hand and denying it to others on the other.
What all you libertarians must decide is this:
How important is it to you that freedom wins?
How much longer are you prepared to sit back and let everyone else do the work? (During the last election there were only about six or seven libertarian candidates out of a field of 75 standing for the W.P. Can you afford to insist that political action is totally incompatible with libertarianism much longer?)
Can libertarians afford not to become involved in trying to change the structure of government in this country through the only open way open to them at the moment i.e. thought the W.P.? If it has done nothing else, the W.P. has at least made a hell of a lot of people aware of the alternative of limited government.
If libertarians do become more active, and by this I don’t mean just being silent members who go to meetings and social functions, then they must work towards influencing the W.P. in the right direction, towards a truly consistent approach to freedom. Start openly supporting civil liberties. Start openly condemning the evils of big business working hand in hand with government. Before you glibly put down all left-wing people as the enemy, take a look at what Arthur Janov has to say about people. It is a war alright, but the enemy is within ourselves.
We must provide positive solutions, not negative appraisals.
The Libertarian Party in America is a consistent libertarian party. It can be done. If you want till all the circumstances are right for action then you will wait forever.
Some of the circumstances are right, now. Act now.
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