1974 John Whiting speech

The following is part of the text of a talk given by Dr John Whiting to members of the Liberal Movement in South Australia on the 18th September 1974. (Dr John Whiting is chairman of the Movement for Limited Government.)

We are not living under normal conditions. This country is critically ill, and in an almighty mess — large numbers of young people taking to drugs; at a conservative estimate, some 25% of all adults showing some definite neurotic tendencies; mediocrity the order of the day; shortages of goods; incentives for brains, drive, skill and hard work virtually non-existent; strikes a daily occurrence; one man in four of the working population a bureaucrat probably producing nothing; government controls on the increase — individual liberty on the decrease; universities havens for academics who are often incapable of thinking rationally, so that many responsible parents are having grave anxieties about sending their children to these propaganda factories; taxation gone mad with incentive-destroying company tax, crippling provisional and progressive personal taxes, preposterous probate taxes and sales taxes like a bad dream — anything up to 50 separate taxes before the farmer’s wheat ends up on your table as a loaf of bread; inflation running wild; economic chaos looming; and political ignorance and apathy of an unbelievable degree.

Many people today are confused and uncertain as to whether they are morally obliged to accept the rulings of a majority should these infringe on individual freedom. In a civilised society, the answer is clear-cut. They are NOT, nor should they be, for majority rule, without protection for the individual, can lead only to pure collectivism — to pure totalitarianism.

As true Liberals, as I trust you all are, let us look at the 6th paragraph of your Declaration of Aims which states “It (the Liberal Movement) has resolved to oppose those extremist elements, whether of the Right or Left, which seek to interfere with democratic processes.” What is “Right” and what is “Left”? It is the socialist, whether he be of the Communist or Fabian variety, who attempts to fool you with this distorted concept of the political spectrum. He attempts to make you believe that Communism lies at one end of the political spectrum, and that Fascism lies at the other. In other words, he tries to hoodwink you, and he has obviously succeeded in hoodwinking your leaders, into believing that one form of totalitarianism is the opposite of another form of totalitarianism. In so doing, he attempts to trick you into believing that there is no such thing as a political system that is compatible with individual freedom.

In reality, of course, the left of the political spectrum belongs to all advocates of statism — whatever their titles; whereas the right belongs to those who value individual freedom. It is the true liberal, therefore, who occupies the right of the political spectrum, and not the Fascist.

But look again at your Declaration, and to your horror, you will find that your leaders now castigate you for refusing to compromise your principles. As an advocate of individual freedom, you are labelled an extremist by your own Party. The implication is that you should compromise your principles and take up a middle position somewhere between the Left and the Right — somewhere between statism and individual freedom.

As you should be at the right already, if you value individual freedom, then you have only one way to go, unless you are an anarchist, and that is towards the left. And this is what every so-called liberal politician has been preaching for as long as I can remember. Should you ever wonder why freedom-loving people are cynical of so-called liberal parties — this is the answer.

In this very same paragraph, which is a veritable nightmare of philosophical activity, we learn that the Liberal Movement has “resolved to oppose those who seek to interfere with democratic processes.” What are these democratic processes? Are these democratic processes, as we know them, compatible with individual freedom? The answer is NO. It is this blind faith in our democratic processes that is driving the final nail into the coffin of Liberty.

Democracy, as we know it, is unlimited majority rule. It is the substitution of numbers for moral principles. It is rule by men with the biggest gang. The guiding principle of democracy today is that men may do almost anything they like to their neighbours provided they have the biggest bunch of thugs behind them.

According to the Liberal Movement, anyone who attempts to interfere with such blatant immorality must be opposed. And you wonder why freedom-loving people are cynical of so-called liberal parties? Unless the Constitution of a country guarantees the individual his freedom, then democracy can lead only to totalitarianism.

Is there an answer to the mess? Yes, there is. It is the complete dissociation of economics from government, a return to the gold standard and laissez-faire capitalism — in fact all those measures that your conditioners and manipulators tell you that you cannot have.

When the world’s leaders, in all walks of life, set in train the machinery to destroy a whole civilisation, one can only postulate that they are either knaves or fools. Some people, finding it impossible to believe than so many men and women can be so consistently stupid, assert that we are all being manipulated intentionally by knaves. These advocates of the international conspiracy theory present mountains of evidence to substantiate their claims. Like all conspiracies, however, it is virtually impossible to prove; nevertheless, the accumulated evidence cannot be brushed aside as though it didn’t exist.

It is inane talking about individual freedom within the law. You either advocate individual freedom or you do not. It is silly to strive for individual freedom, which means freedom from political coercion, if we don’t define the proper role of government. It is senseless to strive for individual freedom if we don’t understand that political freedom is impossible without economic freedom.

It is stupid to strive for individual freedom if we don’t understand that inflation is initiated by governments, and is a method by which they are able to tighten their grip on the lives of all of us. It is pointless to strive for individual freedom if we fail to understand why a mixed economy is incompatible with freedom. It is ridiculous to strive for individual freedom if we fail to understand the inherent weakness of democracy. It is meaningless to strive for individual freedom if we blindly accept the principle that government are our masters and not our agents.

If individual liberty is to be salvaged from the wreckage wrought by socialists and so-called anti-socialists alike, then freedom-loving people have no option but to do a crash course in thinking. They must be prepared to discard their dogmas and doctrines and unlearn most of that which they have already been taught.

The works of Ayn Rand and Professor von Mises should find their way into more peoples libraries.

Life consists of a series of choices. People must choose between mysticism and reality, between fantasy and fact, between idle whim and reason. Although they are free to make their own decisions as to what course they will follow, they should know that they are not free to escape from the consequences of their decisions. If people continue to make the wrong choices, however well-intentioned their motives may be, then I assure you they will be sentencing their children and their children’s children to lives of unthinkable savagery, servitude and misery.

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