I often hear people say that their beliefs, opinions, and tastes have been a by-product of their upbringing; being a Beatles fan “because they were always playing in the car”; a Manchester United fan, “just like my dad” or a Christian because “that’s just how I was raised”, and so on.
The latter of these examples is paramount in Northern Ireland, as religious tensions and violence over the years have created an uneasy terrain for the exploration of faith – deviating from one’s appointed sect is generally not an option without repercussion.
Growing up, my parents never discussed or intentionally swayed my siblings and I on many things in our lives – music and film tastes, educational choice and career progression, politics, and even hobbies such as archery and horseback riding were mostly free rein (ignore the pun), and generally supported as an individual choice and exercise of free-will. Although a Catholic teaching was implemented, its eventual extraction was (through gritted-teeth, I assure you) tolerated.
The previously mentioned Troubles era is the very reason given by each of my parents as to why they never did, and still refrain to, discuss politics at home. The political and social landscape of the terrain while growing up was an undesirable one for them, which led to an excavation of rational thought and logic by many, spilling into opposing radical extremes.
Contrarily, these opposites were, and still are, guilty of sharing a similar trait, which is that they represent the supremacy of collectivist thought. In this way they wish to impose their will on others, no matter how unwilling others are to adopt. There is no tolerance for free-will: it’s their way, or your knees are away.
To this day Northern Ireland cannot be mentioned or even discussed objectively without the Troubles getting more than a slight mention. This is true even to the point where the CfL launch in Belfast was hijacked by an unnecessary (not to mention lengthy and pointless) interlude dedicated to out-dated dialogue on the issue, the kind which this campaign seeks to end.
However, that’s the impact left on many of the older generation from this province having experienced that time: they know nothing else to discuss, or how the NI political spectrum is surely moving away from this. As Clint Eastwood’s father poetically said, “You either progress or you decay.” And decay they shall.
It wasn’t until later than most I grew to become political, being in my second and third years of university. Until that stage I wasn’t much familiar with Northern Ireland’s political parties, nor those of the wider UK. I was opinionated, I assure you, but was an amateur, and I still consider myself amateur. Growing up in my area of Derry City, it is impossible to escape hearing about Sinn Fein and the SDLP, maybe mud slung at the DUP, but apart from that I knew very little.
It was during the General Election in 2010 that I first became introduced to politics. I saw many participate in campaigning, but it was the left of the spectrum that I saw around the University that tried to, ironically, capitalise by exhibiting a cringingly insincere morality-based directive.
The origin of the word ‘Satan’ is ‘to obstruct’, and the character is usually associated with the colours red and black; however, throughout the Student’s Union I came across many with these traits (obstructive, waving black and red banner), but protruding a contradictory Messiah Syndrome.
Having been confused by angry voices shouting about materialism over megaphones by volunteering Socialists wearing Nike clothing, by a worrying amount of paper fliers from the Green Party littered everywhere within a mile radius, by defaced public and private property complaining about the lack of money for the Public Sector (funding which would have to be further diverted to remove the markings after) by supposed “anarchists”, and wealthy friends of mine – whom I know for a fact had never, and still haven’t, worked a day in their lives – demanding a higher minimum wage; I looked at the Left’s efforts and viewed the entirety as farcically sycophantic, as well as comically hypocritical, but mostly as very intimidating.
Being a naïve novice at this stage, I learned quickly to resist asking questions as any sign of disagreement or opposing dialogue was met with short fuses, short-sightedness, close-mindedness and excessive vulgarity. What I took away most from the experience was how negative and self-defeating the mandate presented was.
From that experience I decided to educate myself as best possible on politics. Primarily irritated that my upbringing lacked any kind of introduction, and feeling I had been put at a disadvantage to those younger yet much more learned than myself, I later came to appreciate how it was perhaps not a disservice to start my learning from a point when I would be less impressionable.
Having quickly become disillusioned by the idea of party politics, I found myself leaning towards the political philosophy and economics of Libertarianism.
The collectivist attitudes of the Socialists had disgusted me, as every person would be a slave to the will of the state, and its preoccupation with prejudices of a person’s class and background, and destroying the freedom to live to one’s own free-will was all too entrenched in an authoritarianism that I found morally repugnant.
True capitalism, however, represents all things free. The Free-Market bears no flag, no prejudices, no qualms, no force, no language barrier, no race, no culture, no sex or gender, no age, no religion; only people do.
In the market, all money is good money no matter where it comes from, and is all delivered by choice. All participants in a transaction have the freedom to choose with whom they trade, and both parties will leave the transaction feeling like they have gained, otherwise they can terminate the deal or negotiate a better rate.
Most importantly to me, the market allows people to thrive and succeed only by serving the will of others: by meeting not just the needs of others, but their wants also, and even attempting to let intuition and creativity flourish to actually invent demand that the willing consumer didn’t know they had yet.
Better yet, the free market invites others to freely participate in competition, in attempt to supply to the demands of the public, resulting in the constant increase in quality and lowering of prices. To entice the customer, one must have the best combination.
The customer benefits from this competition in many ways. The lower prices for better products allows more disposable income, creating wealth for the public, and the ingenious of technological advances being available through the market means much more enjoyment and entertainment for the individual, as well as a means of simplifying our modern lives, and saving time to enjoy the things we want in life.
Ultimately, nobody can spend a person’s money better than themselves, and when the government steps aside to allow this the free will of the public can be expressed.
But liberty lies in more than economics, and the hypocrisy I saw from the Left was something I decided I wouldn’t succumb to. The balance tilts then to social politics, and in the name of consistency I had decided to apply the same methods that I appreciated in economics to my social policies.
Freedom for the individual from any state intervention should be just as relevant to our bodies as it is to our wallets. When an individual is prohibited from acting in a way that others may disagree with, there ought to be no force that can hinder their wishes, unless it impedes on the freedoms and will of others.
As Anthony Burgess beautifully put it: “Is it better for a [person] to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon [them]? When a [person] cannot choose, [one] ceases to be a [person]” (quote altered for political correctness reasons; Welcome to twenty-fifteen).
What Libertarianism holds which Socialism lacks is a positive mandate; that people are the sole conveyors of their own will and personal responsibility; that people are not slaves to the state, belongings to the collective, nor indebted to the masses – but we ought to be free individuals who are in control of our being, environment, business and purpose.
With positivity trumping negativity, opportunity opposing entitlement, and individuality toppling collectivisation, Conservatives for Liberty stand for a better, shared, freer society.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty