Are there "Victimless Crimes?" - Moral Maze Discussion (March 2014), Sean Gabb

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Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, contributing to BBC Radio 4 programme, The Moral Maze, the 19th March 2014.

The Panel were:

Claire Fox
Michael Portillo
Giles Fraser
Anne McElvoy

The Witnesses were:

Ian Driver - Green Party Councillor for Thanet District Council
Dr Sean Gabb - Director of the Libertarian Alliance. Writer, broadcaster and academic
Kathy Gyngell - Editor of the newly-launched ‘Conservative Woman’ website
Dr Finn Mackay - The Centre for Gender & Violence Research at the University of Bristol

Answering questions from the Panel, Sean Gabb made these points:

  • There has been no libertarian progress in England over the past quarter century. Homosexuals are no longer persecuted because they are an effective interest group, not because libertarians have won any arguments. Once we look away from this admittedly welcome liberalisation - to the rights of smokers and shooters and DIY enthusiasts, for instance, or of anyone trying to run a business - we see a significant growth of state oppression since about 1988.
  • There can be no crime where there is no identifiable victim. The resulting pseudo-crimes are simply unjust commands.
  • If we want a more orderly society, we should more effectively police existing laws against aggressions - not make laws against acts that may or may not be preparatory to aggressions.
  • The problem with anyone who wants state regulation is that he is calling for power to be given to people he doesn't know, who are not accountable to him, who may not share his values, and who will eventually use that power in ways that he finds shocking.
  • [To Giles Fraser] You have clearly defined the main difference between libertarians and authoritarians. You believe that, without a mass of criminal laws to constrain from every direction, people will behave like beasts. I do not share your belief.
  • Looking at English history, there is no correlation between order and authoritarianism. The authoritarian state under which we live is a recent construct. Before 1914, there were no controls on guns or drugs. England before then was not a notably chaotic place in need of close regulation.

The above link is to an edited version of the programme. It mostly confines itself to points made by or about Sean Gabb. The whole programme can be found here.