Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Freedom is the radical choice for capitalism's reform - lessons (and hope) from a schools debate


I had a really enjoyable afternoon today at Beckfoot School in Bingley. I went along as a judge in the "Futures" debate - a debate involving five local schools (and something I'd been a little sniffy about).

Two important things came out of this for me - firstly, my faith in tomorrow was restored by the sight of thirty or so young people debating big and grand issues. It wasn't simply an exercise in student political debate about capitalism (although this was broadly the topic) but was surprisingly well-informed. Yes there were the familiar quotes from Marx, Trotsky and such but we also got references to minarchism, Nozick, Schumpeter and William Morris. And mostly these were in context and relevant.

The second important thing for me was that the final session - "Reformed Capitalism vs the Alternative" - featured a bunch of students eager to make the case for capitalism's reform being about a libertarian response. Arguments were made for free trade, free markets and a government charged with administering the rules of freedom rather than seeking to "know better". I witnessed young people who grasped that wanting free enterprise, free markets and free trade is a genuinely radical choice because, for sure, we have precious little of those things today.

All in all a far more inspiring day than I expected. There is some hope for the future.


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