Intellectual Ammunition: Britain’s Young Libertarians, “Top Secret America”, and Wood Harrelson

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Britain’s Young Are Libertarian; British rEVOLution Brewing?

“Young Britons are classical liberals: as well as prizing social freedom, they believe in low taxes, limited welfare and personal responsibility. In America they would be called libertarians.”

Libertarianism is growing fast among Britain’s youth. Indeed, surveys indicate this is the most libertarian-leaning generation in British history. And libertarian ideas are rapidly gaining ground.

So reports The Economist magazine, June 1st 2013.

The Economist reports that the latest findings of the long-running British Social Attitudes survey (BSA) show young Britons have a “suspicion of state interventions of most varieties” and tend to feel that “people have a right to express themselves by what they consume and how they choose to live.”

“Predictably, that translates into a tolerance for social and cultural difference,” the Economist reports. “Polls show that the young are more relaxed than others about drugs, sex, alcohol, euthanasia and non-traditional family structures. They dislike immigration, but not as strongly as do their elders. And they are becoming ever more liberal. The BSA has tracked attitudes for three decades. It shows that the young are now far more tolerant of homosexuality, for example, than were previous generations at the same age.”

What about economic liberty? Young Britons are also far more skeptical of the welfare state: “More than two-thirds of people born before 1939 consider the welfare state ‘one of Britain’s proudest achievements.’ Less than one-third of those born after 1979 say the same.

The Economist quotes pollster Ben Page on the trend: “Every successive generation is less collectivist than the last.”

The Economist further notes: “All age groups are becoming more socially and economically liberal. But the young are ahead of the general trend. …

“Polling by YouGov shows that those aged 18 to 24 are also more likely than older people to consider social problems the responsibility of individuals rather than government. They are deficit hawks… They care about the environment, but are also keen on commerce: more supportive of the privatization of utilities, more likely to reject government attempts to ban branding on cigarette packets and more likely to agree that Tesco, Britain’s supermarket giant, ‘has only become so large by offering customers what they want.’”

Most of the young are disaffected politically. They are turned off by politics and there is very little libertarianism in the major parties.

Yet there may be a British rEVOLution brewing: “But among the politically engaged minority, libertarianism is growing. In April [the writer of this article] squeezed into a fuggy crowd of enthusiasts trading quotes by Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard in a room above a central London pub. Between discourses on the merits of Bitcoin (‘a currency without government-perfect!’) old-timers marvelled at the surge of interest. Freedom Forum, an annual convention for young libertarians, has tripled in size since its launch in 2011; a similar venture planned for July — a ‘Freedom Week’ of debate and lectures — has ten applicants for every place. Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think-tank, declares himself ‘gobsmacked’ at the new popularity of anti-statist ideas and confidently predicts the emergence of a mass libertarian movement.”

Resource: A Verifiable and Disturbing Look Into “Top Secret America” 

“Top Secret America” is a investigative report first published in The Washington Post on July 19, 2010. It is based on a two-year investigation by a team of journalists headed by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dana Priest and William Arkin.

Top Secret America attempted to discover the size and scope of the post-9/11 growth of the U.S. intelligence community.

Though the report is now nearly three years old, it remains a startling and shocking profile of the post 9/11 security state. It’s available online, along with supplementary material.

The Post found that the top-secret world the federal government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 “has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.”

This constitutes nothing less than “an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight.”

Among the investigation’s findings:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people — nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C. — hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings — about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year — a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

Indeed, the secret government is growing so fast and so secretly that no one really knows its size or scope — including those who are supposedly in charge of it.

Reports the Post: “In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials — called Super Users — have the ability to even know about all the department’s activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation’s most sensitive work.”

In the years since, we can only imagine the further expansion of Top Secret America. Revelations since then include, for example, charges from reliable sources that the government is tracking most if not all electronic communication in America.

This report is an excellent mainstream account of startling information and thus is a useful and reliable resource. Just remember, things are even worse than the Post reports.

VIDEO: Three More Reasons to Fear — and ABOLISH — the IRS

In the wake of the recent IRS scandals, our friends at Reason TV have produced a fast, funny — and creepy – video that gives you “three good reasons to be scared as hell of the IRS.”

Reason’s Nick Gillespie points out that:

1. The IRS always been a political weapon.

John F Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon all sicked the IRS on enemies and dissenters. And they were just following in the footsteps of Franklin Roosevelt, whose own son said his father was “the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution.”

2. IRS rulings are super-complicated and capricious.

The federal tax code is longer than Atlas Shrugged, Ulysses, and the Old Testament put together — and far less entertaining. And it’s so complex even former IRS commissioners need help preparing their returns.

3. Get ready, America: the IRS is… Obamacare’s enforcement mechanism.

Starting next year, the IRS will be the cop patrolling the Affordable Care Act’s mandates. Yes, you’ll be explaining to the IRS when, where, and how you bought health care.

Learn from this entertaining short video — just a minute and a half long — and share it with friends.

As for the solution, we agree with Libertarian Party Executive Director Carla Howell: abolish the IRS and the income tax — right now!

Woody Harrelson: People Would Do Fine Without Government

Woody Harrelson is one of the world’s most famous and respected film stars. He’s also well known as an outspoken activist for causes including civil liberties, peace, environmental issues and relegalizing marijuana.

In an interview in the June / July 2013 Issue of Details magazine Harrelson expands on his political views — revealing a strong skepticism about politics and politicians and declaring, among other things, that he’s an anarchist who thinks people would get along just fine without the State.

Excerpts: 

WOODY HARRELSON: I tend to not like politicians, because it’s a subtle form of prostitution. Or maybe not so subtle.

DETAILS: So you dislike Democrats as much as you dislike the GOP?

WOODY HARRELSON: It’s all synchronized swimming to me. They all kneel and kiss the ring. Who’s going to take on the oil industry or the medical industry? People compare Obama to Lyndon Johnson, but I think a better comparison is between Obama and Nixon. Because Nixon came into office saying he was going to pull out of Vietnam, and then he escalated the war. A lot of us were led to believe that Obama was the peace president, but there are still, I think, 70,000 troops in Afghanistan.

DETAILS: You’re an advocate for legalizing marijuana. Do you think recent events make it more likely?

WOODY HARRELSON: I can’t imagine that it’s going to happen, no. The deeper issue is, what does it mean to live in a free country? In the U.S., something like 80 percent of people in prison are there for “consensual crimes.”

DETAILS: Do you want to get more involved in politics?

WOODY HARRELSON: No. I don’t believe in politics. I’m an anarchist, I guess you could say. I think people could be just fine looking after themselves.

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Intellectual Ammunition is written by Liberator Online editor James W. Harris. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for “Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty.”

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About the author: James Harris

James Harris is the editor of the Liberator Online, the leading email newsletter of the liberty movement. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for "Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty."