A few years ago now, way back when Jenny Shipley was still our headmistress, we libertarians hosted a protest march down Queen St we called The Enough is Enough March. Organised by Libz tobacco spokesman Joy Faulkner, we had just about everyone at the time who’d had enough of nanny – we had people from Stand Up New Zealand and Dad’s Army; from Abolish Bureaucratic Crimes and Smokers of the World Unite; from the Anti-NaZis On Air lobby and from people done over by the IRD; from FORCES, SSANZ, COLFO, NORML, AUF, MENZ and every other acronym in the anti-nanny bag – good folk who’d had enough of her tobacco taxes and her cigar bans, her firearms licensing laws, her interventions into NZ families, her attacks on taxpapyers and marijuana smokers, her new search and seizure powers, her attacks on free speech, her plans for an ID card, her acceding to the demands of tribalists, and her refusal to listen to the results of referenda. We came to bury nanny, not to praise her.
As Russell Brown commented at the time, were were protesting about . . . “well, pretty much everything really.”
At least, it looked that way. The aim, of course, was to to tie all these single-issue protesters together into one common cause – to make them realise that in big, nannying government they each have the same enemy - that their fight against that enemy is the same - that if they only realised it, they each have a common cause in liberty - that freedom is indivisible, and to fight for one person’s freedom is to fight for your own – that if each cause were to rest its case on freedom then a powerful groundswell for liberty would be the result across the board – to enlist therefore in a common fight against the common foe, big government, would pay dividends for all of us.
“Enough IS enough. They do NOT own us - we own them & it's time we reminded them of that. THEY are in rebellion against their sacred obligation to PROTECT, not to violate, the individual liberties of the citizens of this country; it is THEY who should be rounded up & locked up.
“Ladies & gentlemen, let the word go forth that things are going to change. There's going to be a revolution. More & more people are coming to the realisation that they can run their own lives, & that it's their birthright to do so; that government is not the solution to all our problems, GOVERNMENT AS WE KNOW IT IS THE PROBLEM!”
I have to say, we failed completely.
Sure, for one moment there everyone with a brain realised that were all on each other’s side, if only we could make something of that – that government really is the problem, not the solution – that freedom really is indivisible — that if we all rang freedom’s bell consistently then freedom might one day reign from sea to shining sea . . . but almost without exception every one of those single issue protesters went home afterwards none the wiser for the experience.
The measure of our failure is this weekend's March for Democracy, which in Yogi Berra’s famous phrase “looks like déjà vu all over again,” but without even the moral fervour that we brought to it.
I applaud their efforts,but a decade after our Enough is Enough march, the March For Democracy will have the same groups of people upset about the same or similar things – most of whom voted for one or ‘tother of the major parties to do exactly what they’ve gone and done for the last decade or moe – and once again without any genuine understanding among the participants of what freedom really means, the energy and the scattergun “we’re against everything” mantra will go nowhere.
Which means nothing has really changed in all those years.