Libertarianism: The New Home For Environmentalists
The recent blows to the establishment have provided a remarkable opportunity for libertarians, and we should be seizing it firmly with both hands.
Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have, while aided by the alternative right, largely been the work of anti-PC, national populist movements. Despite the doom mongering by the regressive left, rather than being misguided errors leading us towards economic and social ruin, these “peasants’ revolts” have opened the playing field of political power. Of course, with May’s economic centrism, and Trump’s protectionism, neither will make the most of the opportunity provided them.
In reality, the public is likely to be disappointed and frustrated by the lack of significant positive change felt in their lives over the next 4 years. Of course, this will partly be because it takes time for policies to come into action and their effects be felt, but still, it is likely to simply not be enough. Combine this with the disaffection of left-leaning voters, now leaderless and whose key issues will likely be ignored, and come 2020 there will be a significant portion of previously safe votes up for grabs. Contrary to the lame excuses made by the media, Trump and Brexit are not the result of identity politics; they are the result of the abandonment of identity politics by the public (Trump increased the Republican vote among minorities from Mitt Romney and the working class voted against Labour’s Remain position during the EU referendum). To make the most of this situation, libertarians should now in earnest begin an appeal to green voters.
No, you don’t need to re-read that last sentence: Green voters.
Of course, I am in no way suggesting we will ever win over the watermelon-themed “green on the outside, red on the inside” communists posing as environmentalists. We can, however, and, in fact, according to the non-aggression principle of our ideology, should be talking seriously to those concerned about the environment. I would contend that libertarians and any environmentalists without a poster of Marx on their bedroom wall, are in fact natural allies.
To put it simply: The non-aggression principal demands we give each and every individual the most freedom possible in each and every choice they make. We should not dictate, impose or coerce others’ decisions. As such, we must give them at least the same choices we have. This does not stop with those human beings alive today, but includes every human that will live after us, as well. If we irreparably damage our environment, are we not limiting the options of our descendants and forcing them into circumstances they might not have chosen themselves?
It is important that should the libertarian right make this move, it is a genuine one and not simply political point scoring such as the Paris Agreement on the climate. In order to keep those voters won over by the highlighting of libertarian solutions to environmental problems, we must develop real, well thought through libertarian policies, and be able to argue their effectiveness competently. Some of these, while requiring fleshing out, are naturally half made by our existing principles. For instance: Our dependency on big oil for our energy. Few libertarians would argue in favour of the massive subsidies big oil companies receive. These same subsidies make other options uncompetitive and stifle innovation. Despite the left green’s commitment to renewable and alternative energies, no one else is proposing such a move, which would give those alternative energies a real chance to develop and thrive in the free market.
Of course, this would require the cessation of subsidies for things like wind power, but the obsession with some forms of alternative energy, where innovation has grind to a halt, is easily the most detrimental and self-harming position environmentalist often take.
This could also aid our foreign policy stance, as being free of over-dependency on oil could allow us to move away from such poisonous and corrupt relationships as that with Saudi Arabia. In many cases the solution to environmental problems is innovation, while government-backed research will move along slowly, free market competition and co-operation has always, and will always, prove to be the fastest and most efficient way to find what ultimately is the best solution. Of course, none of this matters if the markets don’t want to be green; an argument sometimes employed by the protectionist left and centre. The simple fact of the matter, however, is that various studies have found that anywhere between 20 to 80% of people in the Western world actively try to be more environmentally-friendly, and between 40 to 60% are willing to pay more to be so.
Regardless, there is a notable move towards these new technologies, as there tends to be with every new technology once it begins to show signs of being ready and able to replace its outdated counterpart.
Most left wing commentators without a penchant for extended hysteria have now accepted that one factor in the election of Donald Trump and Brexit is that the left no long knows how to debate. They tell you how to think, feel, and vote, and should you dare disagree, they sling mud, and when that doesn’t work they sling more; never once realising just how dirty their own hands become. This habit, particularly popular among millennials, of screaming about how much they care, is where they might actually find a place within the libertarian movement. True free market competition and co-operation is dependent on a well-informed and educated public, able to think and make decisions for themselves.
Now, while this is a way off of the marching polar bear lead by Emma Thompson, or the enforced narwhal costumes at Greenpeace rallies in the middle of the summer, informing and demonstration seems to be where young environmentalists are happiest. If this could be done in a more organised and logical manner, with a real cohesive and well thought through effort to educate the public as to their options, then those green voters who see a possible future with the libertarian movement could not only find a new ideological home, but also be a massive asset.
In truth, this is the case not just for green voters, but many others as well.
Libertarians should branch out and talk about our solutions to various different problems. Whether it’s environmentalism, corporatism, human or worker’s rights; if there’s a libertarian answer, we should be shouting it.
* Nathan Brown is 24 year old and heading to university in 2017 to study politics. He volunteered for Vote Leave in the EU referendum, debated Anthea McIntyre MEP, was interviewed for French radio, and appeared on BBC one the day after to debate the effect of a Leave vote on young Brits. He joined the Conservative Party after the referendum, and has recently begun participating in wider political issues, espousing libertarian values.
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