Friday, November 25, 2005

"The Liberal Party"

According to the Maxim Institute, ACT will be bloc-voting in support of the Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill. And they call themselves "the liberal party"...

Now, ACT are classical liberals, interested in formal rather than substantive freedom - but there is a clear reason (quite apart from any beliefs on the nature of marriage) for liberals of any stripe to vote against the bill: namely, that it licenses discrimination on the basis of marriage. While many classical liberals view limits on private discrimination as a restriction on freedom, and so would support some of the effects of s7 of the bill, there are still two very good reasons for them to oppose it: firstly, that the bill would license discrimination by the state - a no-no even to those who find widespread private discrimination acceptable; and secondly, that it does so in a completely one-sided manner, allowing discrimination in favour of marriage but not against it. The proponents of private discrimination at least favour a legal level playing field, and this bill doesn't provide one. The only "liberals" who would be in favour of it are bigots-in-liberal-clothing like Stephen Franks.

If you're concerned about ACT's betrayal of liberal values, I suggest you email Rodney Hide and Heather Roy immediately.

(Hat Tip: I See Red).


Good point - funny that greens seem more liberal than ACT on some issues.

Posted by Genius : 11/25/2005 07:14:00 PM

Come on, surely everyone knows that conservative classical liberalism depends on strong civil institutions, of which MARRIAGE between a man and a women for the purpose of creating strong FAMILIES is key. Without strong marriages and families people are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of the open market. It is important, therefore, that we discriminate in favour of marriage as often as we can, particularly on the part of the state.

Posted by A. J. Chesswas : 11/25/2005 11:27:00 PM

You are bang on the money with Franks.

Posted by Bomber : 11/26/2005 12:04:00 AM

AJ: I think your "conservative classical liberalism" is an oxymoron. State discrimination cannot be squared with the purely negative conception of liberty which lies at the core of classical liberalism, and I cannot see any way of justifying such prejudice under the harm principle. Instead, it's just good old fashioned conservativism in liberal drag - and if that's what ACT stands for, then they should be done for false advertising.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/26/2005 12:18:00 AM

My understanding of classical liberalism is just that - CLASSICAL! Two centuries old even. I'd be interested if you could prove to me that Adam Smith would have supported the deconstruction of marriage and family. Surely he and his contemporaries knew economic liberty could only exist in the context of civil solidarity?

Posted by A. J. Chesswas : 11/26/2005 12:26:00 AM

AJ: Even classical liberalism was about more than merely economic liberty, as Mill showed. It was about freeing the individual from the state in all spheres of life. Which is why you found C19th liberals fighting for the rights of women, for religious freedom, and for people to be generally allowed to do whatever they wanted provided it didn't harm anyone.

Hell, even Spencer was committed to that, and he was about as conservative a classical liberal as you could get (using social darwinism to claim that the aristocracy were fitter than the poor and therefore deserved to dominate them).

The general line taken by self-proclaimed classical liberals (and even by wankers like Franks) is that state discrimination is an anthema, as it interferes with human freedom. I'd like them to stick to that or publicly repudiate it, so people will know exactly what they're voting for in future.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/26/2005 12:46:00 AM

No, Agri-Christian, you are a
neoconservative. They support
a deregulated labour market and
open economy, but otherwise
embrace social conservatism.

Insofar as ACT goes, I'm rather
disappointed in Rodney and
Heather. When several of my
centre-right social liberal
friends heard, they resigned
their party membership on
the spot.

It also jars with several
ACT candidate statements on that they opposed
'statist' same-sex marriage
bans. I hope they make their
displeasure felt with the
parliamentary caucus...

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/26/2005 10:41:00 AM

State involvement in marriage is a relatively recent development. In New Zealand, Maori customary marriages were recognised until 1952.

In English law, the state was not involved in marriage until the passage of Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act in 1753. Even then, Scotland was exempt.'s_Marriage_Act

I saw an interview with Chris Finlayson, National's shadow Attorney-General, in which he said he wouldn't support a bill to legalise gay marriage because he didn't think the state should be involved in marriage anyway, that it was a religious matter. Good for him, and shame on ACT if they vote with the conservatives.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/28/2005 10:44:00 PM