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Lib Dems and internationalism

The Nameless One, guestblogging at the Devil's Kitchen has fired off a few rounds at the Liberal Democrats by way of wishing them well at the end of their annual conference.

The Liberal Democrats are little more than a debating society for those who want to appear worthy and want to appear “right on”. The party is a talking shop for those who don’t want to make hard, realistic policy choices.

Tristan Mills in the comments shoots back:

I agree, there's a lot wrong with LibDem policy, but at least they start from a decent posistion of individualism and liberty unlike Labour - collectivism and the state, or the Tories - collectivism in service of the state and other vested interests.

Most people who visit this site will find themselves nodding in agreement with the criticisms of the Tories and Labour, but will still be struggling to reconcile themselves with the idea that the Liberal Democrats are interested in individualism, which is the mark of a liberal party - something the Liberal Democrats are not (yet?).

Here's an example. The Lib Dems call themselves an internationalist party. - as Stephen Tall puts it:

We are, by collective instinct, an internationalist party, perhaps the only one left in the British political mainstream.

It's worth asking ourselves exactly what is meant by "internationalist". The Wikipedia definition is this:

Internationalism is a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all.

 and goes on to say

Internationalists advocate the presence of a United Nations type organization, and often support a stronger version of a world government.

This appears to me to be just about as far away from Tristan's professed position of "individualism and liberty" as it's possible to get. Hard as it is to believe, internationalism embodies a belief that we need more government. That if we can just come up with some political structure to agree the correct course of action, out problems will be over. No matter that some of us might disagree with the chosen course - in a world of superstates it's hard or sometimes impossible to vote with your feet. We will be forced to go along with what our political masters decree.

It's not that internationalism is hard to reconcile with individualism. Internationalism is individualism's antithesis.

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Reader Comments (3)

That's the trouble with the LibDems: they have genuine liberals in their ranks, and they have socialists. But they all think they're liberals, and the socialists always win.
Sep 22, 2007 at 12:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSam Duncan
Since when did a belief in internationalism mean you must believe in a world government? To assume that all those who subscribe to internationalism must also advocate more government is plain silly.

I like the first definition, though: "a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all."

How you've transmuted that into defining internationalism as the antithesis of liberalism is a mystery to me.
Sep 22, 2007 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Tall



The definition is not mine - it's Wikipedia's. Perhaps you and/or the LibDems mean something different by the word, but it might be advisable to make it clear exactly what you do mean.

And besides, the LibDem enthusiasm for the EU does strongly suggest that you as a party are in favour of handing power over to trans-national bodies. I wonder how many of your party colleagues would in fact support the notion of a world government.
Sep 24, 2007 at 7:02 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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