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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday February 15 2007

Last night I was on 18 Doughty Street TV, and tomorrow (Thursday) I’m on again, with Sean Gabb and Christian Michel, at 9 pm, in the “Vox Politix” slot, unless I have it all wrong.

Our topic is: the relevance of libertarianism.

Fair enough.  The relevance of libertarianism these days, at any rate in Britain, is not that obvious, given that Britain’s politicians have all pretty much turned their backs on such notions, with the exception, perhaps, of a few Lib Dems, who nevertheless baffle and infuriate me by attaching themselves to other Lib Dems who seem to believe the diametric opposite of libertarianism.

So anyway, here’s what I’m thinking.  Rather than pitching right in to arguing that libertarianism is indeed relevant despite what you might be thinking, I will start my preparatory thinking for tomorrow night with a question that interests me anyway, quite aside from whether libertarianism matters to anybody or to anything.

My question is: what are now the world’s biggest political debates/problems/ worries?

I would welcome comments about which of the following items in bold print are actually not big issues, and which other issues are which I have forgotten about.  Others may agree with the approximate terrain covered but carve up the issues slightly differently, or maybe just label the same items slightly differently.  Anyway, here is my list, in no particular order:

The environment, greenery, global warming, climate change, etc..  This is either a problem because the world is about to be stewed, drowned etc., or because it is not, but is about to be screwed by people who say that it must be saved from being stewed or drowned, cost be damned.

Islam, Islamic terrorism, War on Terror, etc.  Similarly, this is either a problem because the relationship between Islam and the rest of us really is a problem, or it is a problem because this otherwise non-problem is being used as an excuse to screw the world.  Others might prefer to call this problem: the Middle East.  Solve that and all else is sorted, and so on.  Which just goes to show that even the labeling of problems is incurably controversial.

The whole argument about poverty and how to get rid of it also qualifies as a World Problem, I would say.

That’s three big problems.  My next two are the two other global superpowers, in addition to Islam.  The definition of a superpower is a power whose mistakes and malevolences, such as they are or may be, threaten us all in a big way.  These are, aside from Islam (see above): the USA, and China.

I exclude other candidates: Europe, India, and such lesser powers as Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Iran, North Korea, Japan, and so on, because - although these places are pretty big and/or rich and/or powerful - the rulers of these places don’t, as I observe them, have the required combination of the clout and the will to screw seriously with the whole world, much as some of their leaders might like to.  I’m sure I could be persuaded that Iran fits that bill, but at present I reckon not.  (Please no comments about how “Iran”, “Russia”, etc., are not single conscious entities.  I know.  I am trading-off here between clarity and brevity.  I’m covering a lot of ground here.)

Poverty is a reason for all kinds of pressure being applied to the rules of all these middling powers and to many more even lesser ones, to do things better.  As is environmentalism, if you’re an environmentalist that is.  But Japan, Russia, etc. are not problems in and of themselves.  Maybe locally.  Not globally.

Have I left anything absolutely huge out?

Yes, I think I have omitted one further hot topic of truly global significance.  I think that the need for or the threat of world government, as most people understand that notion, is right up there with poverty, with dozens of A bombs and H bombs going off or with the sea level going up seventy feet, or with the possibility that the Chinese may suddenly get very angry or bossy with the rest of the world.  Whether you are for it or against it, world government is, I reckon, a genuine big problem, one way or another, either because the world desperately needs it, because it equally desperately does not.

Maybe also the War on Drugs is a global problem, either because the Drugs refuse to give up, or because those warring against them refuse to give up.  But now, I think I am descending into the realms of the worrying but not humanity-threatening, in the manner of someone writing out what ought to be in the National Curriculum, and wanting to include another thing, and another, and another.  So no emboldening for War on Drugs.  File under USA.

So, to repeat, here is the list: China, Environment, Islam, poverty, USA, world government.  As I say, in no particular order, so I’ve re-ordered them alphabetically.

Now I can ask myself what relevance libertarianism has to the above.  Quite a bit, I would say.

But my point in this posting is not really the libertarianism bit.  That was merely the circumstance.  Nor is it what anyone, libertarian or anything else, me included, considers to be the correct answers to the questions on the list.  It is simply the list.  Is it about right?