Bob Howard, “The Road to Where?,” Libertarian Optimism: Newsletter of the Progress Party of New South Wales, March, 1978, pp. 1-2.
[Thanks to the still political Maureen Nathan for access to her archives.]

It was the intention of the founders of the Workers Party that the party be a libertarian party — a party that remained true to the libertarian philosophy. The present Progress Party continues that intention.

Accordingly, it has always been one of the fundamental objectives of both parties to put principles before votes. This is one way of saying that we would rather be an unsuccessful libertarian party than a successful non-libertarian party. If the latter was what we wanted, then we would have joined the Liberal Party.

Such an attitude is often called idealistic and impractical. It is certainly idealistic, and it may well be impractical — but only in the short term. In the long term the ideal is the practical. If an idea is right, it is ideal. If it is right it is the only idea that has any long-term chance of success. That makes it practical — and most realistic.

Political parties are purely vehicles — means to an end. Or at least, that’s the way we view them. For most of our professional politicians, it might be argued that the parties have become both the means and the end. In our view, parties can be used, changed and, if necessary, discarded; they are like the clothes we wear; depending on the occasion a particular party, like particular clothes, can be a hindrance or a help.

Our system of ideas however — our libertarian philosophy — is like our soul. It cannot be compromised, denied or partially discarded with impunity. If we are not true to our ideas, we are not true to ourselves.

Libertarians first

It is this sense that I believe we should consider ourselves to be libertarians first, and members of the Progress Party second. The Party is nothing more than just one of many possible vehicles for promoting the philosophy of libertarianism. And it is for the promotion of that philosophy that we are working together, in the vehicle that we have developed for the task, the Progress Party.

It is important to make this distinction, because if we were, in the words of John Clemitson, to measure our self-esteem by the number of genuine votes (i.e. the total number less the donkey vote) that we gained at the recent election, we would be miserable and pessimistic indeed.

And to be sure, the future of the Progress Party is Bleak.

Funds were scarce in the recent election — a factor which contributed greatly to the poor result — and there is no reason to expect them to be more readily available in the future.

However, when we look at the position of the philosophy of libertarianism in Australia, there is reasonable cause for optimism.

Significant gains

We have made significant gains in the past three years (as all who were active libertarians in the pre-Workers Party days can attest).

For the first time in Australian history (to my knowledge), this country has an explicit libertarian movement. That in itself is a quite extraordinary fact. For the first time, the classical liberal heritage — the ideology of men like Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine — has found expression in a serious political movement in this country.

In addition, I believe we have made a significant contribution to altering the tone of the Australian political debate. We have highlighted the evils of big government, unnecessary regulation and high taxation. We have helped popularise the connection between an increasing money supply and inflation.

Many of our points are coming up with increasing frequency in public debate.

We have exposed thousands of people all over Australia to our ideas in some detail. Of those, over two thousand have at some time been motivated to join our Party.

We have gained very valuable experience in the ways and means of organising political movements, contesting elections, changing public opinion and promoting our ideas. We have made some ground in developing tactics and strategies for achieving change, and have started on the difficult road of developing step by step policies for getting “from here to there”.

We have brought together some very fine people, who were previously either lone voices calling in the wilderness, or people who knew that there was something fundamentally wrong with this country, but without any explicit ideas of the causes or cures.

Historical situation

And finally, we are in an historical situation conducive to change. It was one of Thomas Kuhn’s insights that scientific “revolutions” will only occur when two criteria are met: (1) current, accepted ideas — the existing “paradigm” — must be clearly seen to be failing; and (2) a new set of ideas — a new paradigm — that appears to explain and solve the problems of the time must be available for substitution for the old paradigm.

In other words, people won’t respond to calls for change when everything seems to be functioning reasonably well. It is only in times of crisis that they are receptive to radical change.

Obviously, we have such a situation now. Economically, politically and socially, the existing paradigm is failing. It can no longer be maintained that Keynesian economics, social repression and control, and the dominance of the state over the individual are the way to prosperous and harmonious society. The evidence of that we can see all around us.

Of all the existing parties, movements and pressure groups in Australia, I believe that we are the only one with a radically different paradigm to offer; and I further believe that our paradigm is, in all essential respects, correct. It does provide answers to our economic, social and political problems.

Our task

Our task, of course, is to make the best use of all of our resources, and the gains that we have made to date, to further promote these libertarian solutions.

Whether or not this can be best done through the Progress Party, or through some new vehicle, is one urgent question which we must resolve. A new political entity, free of the image and associations of our present party (which has never really broken away from the old Workers Party image and associations), or even a non-political organisation — or both — are alternative possibilities to be considered. (Any and all arguments and suggestions on this question are welcome.)

But whenever we might decide, one thing can be said for certain right now — it is you, as libertarians, who will be the seeds of any future growth.

Libertarianism cannot be spread without libertarians — and the most effective way for you, as a libertarian, to help spread these ideas is for you to be as effective a spokesman for the philosophy as possible. That requires knowledge and experience.

Therefore, I believe that it is now urgent that we all begin to make a determined effort to learn as much as possible about all the various facets of the libertarian philosophy, so as to be best able to understand and communicate these ideas.

Intellectual adventure

This need not be an unpleasant task. The libertarian philosophy offers the chance of a unique and exciting intellectual adventure. It is a coherent and consistent set of ideas that offers beautifully simple explanations and ultimate solutions to all our economic, social and political problems. If you’ve never subscribed to the self-defeating theory that “ignorance is bliss”, just having that knowledge and thus eliminating all those nagging and frustrating “Whys?” is a sufficient reason to justify the effort required to get it.

And because of the fundamental common sense of these ideas, you don’t need any formal training or a brilliant mind to grasp them. One of the unfortunate spin-offs of our brutal education system is that it manages to convince many people that they have no intellectual capacity, and that ideas are boring anyway.

We certainly don’t subscribe to that view. Our ideas are challenging, provocative and beautiful. They can be grasped in essence by anyone, and to help that happen we are organising a number of activities.

Friday nights

Every Friday night a discussion group meets in the Party office at 58 Harbour St, Mosman (see notice elsewhere in this newsletter). This is, in our experience, one of the best opportunities for learning available. Even if you just listen, you can’t help but absorb a surprising amount of information, with the great advantage of being able to listen to our ideas being questioned and discussed from all angles.


As a personal contribution, John Clemitson and I (and anyone else who is interested in helping) shortly hope to start reprinting and distributing essays written by well know people from all over the world. There are many brilliant essays available to us, and we hope to be able to give them a wide circulation.

We also hope to develop this newsletter into an interesting and lively tool for education, discussion and communication. Any contribution you like to make will be appreciated.

Through these and other similar efforts, we hope that over the next six to twelve months we can build up a committed, enthusiastic and knowledgeable core of libertarians, capable of acting as the motor and driving force for future political and/or educational activities.

After three years of close involvement with the Workers Party and the Progress Party, I am now convinced that the development of this group is our most urgent single need. Without it we are virtually reduced to continuing what have been to some extend blind, ad hoc, reactionary activities, without any real sense of purpose or unity, trying to generate and organise a body of support with no real substance.

It is not enough to rush out and organise candidates and election campaigns on the spur of the moment, to content ourselves with reacting to whatever political events might occur, or to spend our time, energy and money trying to gain the unthinking support of large numbers of people. Even if we were able to succeed in these limited efforts, it would only be a temporary success. Such shallow support is not stable support. We would simply be building a house of cards.

Solid support

What we need is thinking support — understanding of and agreement with our most fundamental principles, and with their consistent application.

That’s solid support — the only support worth having — and even though there might not be much of it in these early days, it will be real and lasting, and a solid base on which to build our future growth.

Since this type of support only comes from people who know what we are all about, we would have to market our entire philosophy, and not just some carefully selected pieces that are deemed to be fit for general consumption. In other words we have to be a radical movement.

  • We have wasted too much time and too many resources already trying to build a mass movement. It’s time to be more realistic. We have to walk before we run.
  • We’re not going to win any elections now or in the near future, nor are we going to suddenly become a popular mass movement. The way to do that has been excellent demonstrated by Don Chipp, and if we have to follow his example, the first casualty would be our philosophy.
  • Systems of ideas cannot be sold like soap to large numbers of people, they can only be worked into the public consciousness by a long, deliberate and purposeful process of education. That’s the only peaceful way to spread ideas, and that is our task.
  • But before we can hope to education anyone else, we must first educate ourselves.
  • We have ignored that fundamental fact for too long. We can’t afford to ignore it any longer.
(in order of appearance on
  1. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  2. Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
  3. Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
  4. Singo and Howard on Compromise
  5. Singo and Howard on Monopolies
  6. Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
  7. Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
  8. Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
  9. Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
  10. Singo and Howard on Drugs!
  11. Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
  12. Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
  13. Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
  14. Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
  15. Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
  16. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  17. John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
  18. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  19. Singo and Howard on Aborigines
  20. Singo and Howard on Conservatism
  21. Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
  22. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  23. John Singleton changes his name
  24. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  25. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  26. Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
  27. Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
  28. Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
  29. Singo and Howard on Rights
  30. Singo and Howard on Crime
  31. Singo and Howard on Justice
  32. Singo and Howard on Unemployment
  33. John Singleton on 1972 cigarette legislation
  34. Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
  35. Holed up, hold-up and holdout
  36. The libertarian alternative vs the socialist status quo
  37. Workers Party Platform
  38. Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
  39. Singo and Howard on Business
  40. Singo and Howard on Discrimination
  41. Singo and Howard on the Greens
  42. Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
  43. Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
  44. Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
  45. Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
  46. Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
  47. Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
  48. The last words of Charles Russell
  49. Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
  50. Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
  51. Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
  52. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  53. "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
  54. Introducing the new Workers' Party
  55. Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
  56. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  57. Voices of frustration
  58. Policies of Workers Party
  59. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  60. AAA Tow Truck Co.
  61. Singo and Howard on Context
  62. Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
  63. Singo and Howard on Apathy
  64. Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
  65. Singo and Howard on Decency
  66. John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
  67. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
  68. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  69. The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
  70. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  71. Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
  72. A Farewell to Armchair Critics
  73. Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
  74. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  75. David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
  76. Bludgers need not apply
  77. New party formed "to slash controls"
  78. The Workers Party
  79. Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
  80. The great consumer protection trick
  81. The "Workers" speak out
  82. How the whores pretend to be nuns
  83. The Workers Party is a Political Party
  84. Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
  85. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  86. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  87. Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
  88. Singo and Howard on Young People
  89. Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
  90. Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
  91. Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
  92. Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
  93. Singo and Howard on Consistency
  94. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  95. Political branch formed
  96. Government seen by new party as evil
  97. Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
  98. Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
  99. Singo and Howard on Licences
  100. Singo and Howard on Gun Control
  101. Singo and Howard on Human Nature
  102. Singo and Howard on Voting
  103. Singo and Howard on
    Inherited Wealth
  104. Singo and Howard on Education
  105. Singo and Howard on Qualifications
  106. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  107. Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
  108. Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
  109. A happy story about Aborigines
  110. John Singleton on Political Advertising
  111. Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
  112. Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
  113. How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
  114. The Discipline of Necessity
  115. John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
  116. Libertarians: Radicals on the right
  117. The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
  118. Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
  119. Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
  120. Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
  121. The impossible dream
  122. Why can't I get away with it?
  123. The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
  124. Time for progress
  125. The loonie right implodes
  126. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  127. John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
  128. Censorship should be banned
  129. "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
  130. John Singleton on Advertising
  131. John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
  132. Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
  133. Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
  134. John Singleton defends ockerism
  135. Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
  136. The Census Con
  137. Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
  138. Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
  139. Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
  140. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  141. John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
  142. John Hyde's Progress Party praise
  143. King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
  144. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  145. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  146. John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
  147. Save Parramatta Road
  148. 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
  149. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  150. Singo and Howard on Unions
  151. Singo and Howard Smash the State
  152. Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
  153. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  154. A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
  155. Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
  156. Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
  157. John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
  158. Thoughts on Land Ownership
  159. 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
  160. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  161. The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
  162. The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
  163. Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
  164. The mouse will roar
  165. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  166. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  167. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  168. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  169. Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
  170. Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
  171. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  172. John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
  173. Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
  174. John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
  175. I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
  176. Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
  177. John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
  178. Singo and Howard on Ballet
  179. Product innovation comes first
  180. Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
  181. A party is born
  182. Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
  183. John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
  184. Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
  185. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  186. John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
  187. Counterculture must exclude government handouts
  188. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  189. John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
  190. Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
  191. Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
  192. Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
  193. Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
  194. Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
  195. Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
  196. John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
  197. Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
  198. John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
  199. Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
  200. Return Australia Post to Sender
  201. Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
  202. John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
  203. John Singleton on cigarette advertising
  204. Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
  205. John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
  206. John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
  207. Gortlam rides again
  208. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  209. John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
  210. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
  211. Singo asks two prickly questions
  213. Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
  214. Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
  215. Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
  216. An Ode to Busybodies
  217. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  218. How many tits in a tangle?
  219. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
  220. John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
  221. A speech from the Titanic
  222. A crime must have a victim
  223. John Singleton vs Australia Post
  224. Minimum wages the killer
  225. Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
  226. John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
  227. John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
  228. John Singleton vs Don Lane
  229. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  230. John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
  231. Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
  232. John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
  233. Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
  234. Charity: An Aesop Fable
  235. Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
  236. New improved moon
  237. Announcing people ... YES, people!
  238. Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
  239. John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
  240. Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
  241. John Singleton schools ad course
  242. John Singleton: advertising awards
  243. Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
  244. John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
  245. John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare
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