Thursday, 4 October 2018

The time is ripe for a 'Party X' for the environment

Political commentary suggests that barking at every passing car is winning the National party few new friends — yet  incredibly, say commentators“National is still polling in the 40s — so New Zealanders like them” (Galt alone knows why). In the age of MMP however that's not nearly enough to form a government. "What National needs," they say, "is a credible coalition partner to help them get over 50 per cent.” 

Why should we care about what National needs?

Because if Simon Bridges himself is to be believed (and generally the wetter the things he says the more likely he is to believe them) then that preferred partner would be one with an environmental focus, albeit one that may actually focus on the environment instead of pissing on the feet of every passing taxpayer. And I am going to make the case that this is a genuine opportunity for liberty folk.

You see, it is possible to be sane and sober and be a serious party with an environmental focus. Indeed, if the will were there in such a party then it would even possible to use that environmental focus to advance the cause of liberty (remember liberty?) instead of to trash it. That could be done by using what I've called Environmental Judo ... not least because the environment is so all-encompassing.

You might recall that when New Zealand first announced it had made up the new position of Minister for the Environment, Owen McShane's then professor at UC Berkeley told him, “If New Zealand now has a Minister for the Environment then eventually he must be Minister of Everything.”

This is true.

But the position could be used for good as well as the bad that it regularly has been. 

Using his position, and making the best use of present-day political pressures, a smart environment minister in a bright new coalition government (were either thing to actually exist) should be able to devise several cunning plans to roll back the state.

Clearly, however, while the current incumbents have no such interest, this party Im talking about should, and could.

So starting this morning, I’m offering up seven environmental policies that a genuine opposition party like that could adopt if they really were serious about rolling back the state. (The vigilant reader will notice they might have read them before in my 'Free Radical' article on 'Environmental Judo' that you used to able to download here in the sidebar.) 

Sure, thinking of Simon Bridge's National Party in that manner stretches the imagination a bit too far--and while Gareth Morgan's former lovechild may have an environmental face, it is no more interested in rolling back the state than in flying to the moon. And while ACT (under the same name or a new name) would quite like to roll back some of the state, it first has to enrol a few more voters.

But how about a credible “Party X” that genuinely did fit that bill? What exactly could they do? Ayn Rand offers the prescription for such a party:
Party X would oppose statism and would advocate free enterprise. But it would know that one cannot win anybody’s support by repeating that slogan until it turns into a stale, hypocritical platitude—while simultaneously accepting and endorsing every step in the growth of government controls.
    Party X would know that opposition does not consist of declaring to the voters: “The Administration plans to tighten the leash around your throats until you choke—but we’re lovers of freedom and we’re opposed to it, so we’ll tighten it only a couple of inches.”
    Party X would not act as Exhibit A for its enemies, when they charge that it is passive, stagnant, “me-tooing” and has no solutions for the country’s problems.
    It would offer the voters concrete solutions and specific proposals, based on the principles of free enterprise. The opportunities to do so are countless, and Party X would not miss them.
Opportunities abound, not least because National are so desperate for both a credible partner, and a backbone. My Party X could offer both: a party genuinely committed to removing the leash from around our throats (without introducing any further tightening); to achieving specific and concrete gains in freedom, with no new elements of coercion; all the while using genuinely beneficial environmental policies to do it (in the same way that a judo master uses his opponent's own strength against them.)

It could be that the time for such a party may have arrived.

And I can suggest at least seven proudly provocative proposals on which it could run. 

For instance . . . Eco Untaxes, about which I’ll talk more tomorrow....

[Cartoon by Nick Kim, from the Free Radical]


  1. Okay new political participation is always welcome but in what way would this new "Party X" not resemble, um, the old Libertarianz? And if it is basically the old Libertarianz - after all, the policies are coming straight out of an old copy of The Free Radical - how does this latest "this is our moment!" moment differ from all the others similarly proposed over the past couple of decades that have turned out to not be, in fact, the party's moment?

    1. Daniel, I'm sure your suggestions are welcome. I think it a fascinating broad strategy. So, start thinking mate. Suzuki

  2. I'm skeptical that labeling a freedom oriented party an 'environment' party will achieve anything aside from accusations of hiding your true intent. Sure you can care about the environment and be freedom oriented, and perhaps you can argue the two naturally go together - but the environment really only becomes a political issue when you want government force to protect it. I think once you accept that environmental protection requires a political solution, it necessarily leads to infringements of liberty. Even if there's a case to be made that's not the case, it still smacks of green-washing to me, and trying too hard to graft timeless principles of liberty onto a trendy cause.

  3. Love your posts! Keep it up! All best!


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