The Freedom Festival – A Libertarian Weekend gives me mixed feelings, remembering Shoreditch

Tom Winnifrith Friday 28 February 2014


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A friend of mine from my Shoreditch days says that he is heading off to a weekend of eating drinking and libertarianism on the 15th March and would I care to go. It looks great but then comes the libertarian dilemma.

If you are a pure thinking individual I would urge you to check out the Freedom Festival here

There are some entertaining speakers: Mark Littlewood, Norman Tebbit, Toby Young, Dan Hannan and I am sure that it will be great fun. However:

a) I am not convinced that this is ideologically pure enough for a true libertarian. I see there is a debate “is immigration a boon or a burden?” If you score straight A’s on the Ron Paul crystal pure test you would not need that debate, the answer is obvious. There is another debate “is the conservative family falling apart?” Heck, when did we join that family to start with?

b) Maybe I am a libertarian because I hate the idea of being organised. One of the joys of Shoreditch life right inside the triangle was that the residents were a pretty crazed bunch. On a day to day basis I had nothing in common with the Lebanese cookery writer for the FT, the fat American artist gay couple, the super geek IT guy from Morgan Stanley or the Australian architect with his French wife who’d been there since the sixties. I struggle to remember the other residents but occasionally we’d come together like a Wild West town called to form a posse, to fight a joint battle. We unite. We disband and then get on with our own lives with no-one passing comment or interfering with what we got up to. It was a very libertarian set-up.

The only neighbour I still chat to from those days (although I bumped into the cookery writer in the Street the other day) is my fellow libertarian, an uber-posh stockbroker.  I am always happy to chat to him or to others of a similar persuasion in a chaotic and disorganised manner.  But the idea of a weekend of organised and collective libertarianism somehow goes against the grain. Even if the event were not to be somewhat blurred by the presence of certain folks whose views are not exactly crystal pure Paulist (Lord Tebbit, Hannan and the other members of the conservative e political classes) the idea of an organised event is just not me.

For me, the chaos of the internet and of life in a corner of Clerkenwell is a far better forum for my style of libertarianism. And thus I think I must pass on a wet weekend in Bournemouth. Besides I note that West Ham are that weekend visiting the Cultural Quarter, viz Stoke on Trent. That looks a far more attractive option.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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