Politics Will Make You an Anarchist—at Least in New Zealand


New Zealand's classical-liberal/libertarian ACT Party, founded by people who introduced free-market ideas to a once-statist country and dragged it back from the brink, is hanging on by its fingernails. Always a smaller party after its founders left their original home in the Labour Party (yes, really), ACT only has one seat left in parliament. But if ACT helped to bring libertarianism to New Zealand, it also brought libertarians into government — which helped turn at least one of them into an anarchist.

Rodney Hide, who led ACT from 2004 to 2011, is now a columnist for the New Zealand Herald, and his inaugural column for the paper, on April 29, revealed some details about his life — and about his take-away impressions of politics.

I started in Parliament a libertarian. That means I wanted government nice and small and confined to just a few keys tasks such as protecting us from the thugs and bullies.

I ended up an anarchist. I have concluded we would do better with no government at all. New Zealand before 1840 had some downsides. But the downsides were small beer compared to the social and economic devastation wrought by big, bloated and out-of-control bureaucracy.

I reckon we could fix the down sides of no government without having to give a small bunch of people enormous power over the rest of us. I have no doubt I was the first Anarcho Government Minister. It is a great contradiction.

By the way, you have to have a soft spot for a country where a former high-profile politician turned anarchist can run into the Prime Minister while sneaking a shower in the basement of the parliament building.

And wouldn't it be encouraging if more politicians took away the same lessons from government that Hide learned?