Written by Mike Swadling
A recent appearance on the LibertariDan Live podcast this week got me thinking whether it’s the inefficiency of lockdown, the pointlessness of masks, money printing leading to inflation, windmills making us less energy secure or government overspending that’s making us all poorer. Right now, libertarians have a lot of reasons to say, “I told you so”.
Now normally the level of smugness associated with saying “I told you so” is reserved for Remoaners, who misunderstand the reasons people wanted to leave the EU and is best avoided. But right now, in one particular area, I really feel we need to point it out.
At the fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama famously suggested we were witnessing the ‘End of History’. If that were in any way true, the ‘End of History’ ended when Russian tanks rolled into the Ukraine. Kiev, arguably the father of Russia, first became part of the Russian Empire in 1667, a bookend to a four-hundred-year fight to unite the Rus following their forced separation at the hands of the Mongol horde. Those four hundred years changed Ukraine and created a closely related but separate nation.
Putin’s invasion of Russia was the act of a dictator. Democracies tend not to (if ever) go to war with each other. Disputes about sovereignty, no matter how fraught the circumstances, are resolved peacefully. Norway split from Sweden, the Czech Republic and Slovakia split, the UK left the EU all peacefully. Whilst the separation of what is now the Republic of Ireland from the United Kingdom can hardly be called peaceful, it was relatively so compared to say the breakup of Yugoslavia or the wars fought since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Being a liberal democracy is a good thing. Being a dictatorship of whatever political bent is a bad thing. Living in a dictatorship is likely to limit your life choices, your economic prosperity, and your life expectancy. For all its ills we should be proud of the system of government we have, and we should be able to shout about how much better it is to the system of government in say Russia. Except, of course, those of you who have read this far and are thinking – but we’ve not in almost anyway been a liberal democracy for the past two years. Yes, I agree, and this is why we have to say, “I told you so”.
With the banning of RT (formerly Russia Today) across much of the West, the cancelling of Tchaikovsky in Cardiff, and the banning sports stars, the West can’t hold itself as a paragon of virtue against the dictatorship in Russia. We are playing into the hands of Putin’s propagandists. Those of us who believe in liberty should be shouting from the rooftop, “I told you so”.
I told you when you cancel those you disagree with, you provide no defence against Russian propaganda. When you cancel RT, you give them an excuse to cancel the (however imperfect) Western media. When you don’t provide a platform for even the most unappealing voice in your society, you give the dictators an excuse to dismiss you. When you lock up your citizens for peaceful protest, they can unashamedly lock up theirs. When you are not even aspiring to be a shining city on a hill, you arguably give dictators the moral cover to invade their neighbours.
Would cancelling cancel culture have stopped Putin invading the Ukraine? Probably not, but would it have been harder to invade had the West upheld its principles and its economies these past two years? Yes!
Rather than cancelling RT, why not pillory it in the same we did Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (also known as Chemical Ali) who ultimately received the death sentence for genocide and was hanged. The BNP fell when their leader appeared on Question Time and people could see them for what they are. As a child it felt like every other comedy programme was someone mocking the Nazis, good. Today merely mentioning them, even to criticise, is by some be considered beyond the pale.
With the quick feedback loops of a war, “I told you so” becomes a powerful argument as the protagonists supressed intellectual freedoms in the same way as the woke mob here. History didn’t end with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The world isn’t full of just good people; many are bad. Only with a united stand for freedom will our side, the good guys, win.
Incidentally, if you haven’t already watched LibertariDan’s podcast, look out for it on his Facebook page.