Full Moon Party and Beyond
Blog on the parties of Koh Phangan

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Libertarianism vs State Protection

Going wild after the FMP

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I have often thought of myself as a libertarian. I guess I made my own definition of what that means. I thought it meant that a person should have the right to do certain things, and that state prohibition of these activities denies me of freedom. The freedoms I had in mind were the right to smoke weed without fear of being caught by the police and being fleeced for money. The right to request the end my life if the quality of that life was negligible and destined to involve excruciating pain. The right to travel and live without swingeing visa fees and restrictions. The right to hold a party outside without having to apply for a permit. The right to protest perceived injustice. These sum up some of the issues that drew me to the idea of libertarianism.

However, I could see the problem of people with extreme and hateful opinions also claiming rights on a similar basis to have a platform to spread lies and hate, normally about race and gender.

A new realisation has dawned on me during the covid-19 pandemic. I have lost a father and an aunt to the virus. I completely supported the idea of a lockdown to stop people spreading the virus and inadvertently killing thousands and thousands of people. I supported the policy of government money being used to support people staying at home, and to keep business afloat and able to pay their employees.

What surprised me is that the mainstream media started talking about ‘libertarians’ being opposed to the lockdown. They are Tory party headbangers who previously obsessed about being free of the EU. Now they want us to all go back to school, university or work and take our chances with the rampant virus. Is this liberty? The rich can afford to stay at home, to avoid crowded factories and offices. They can afford to protect themselves. The poor without covid relief payments do not have the liberty to decide for themselves.

In the context of Koh Phangan and the party culture. I am sure the organisers, DJs and numerous other businesses that rely on the island’s party culture must be doing mental gymnastics figuring out how they can believe in the right to party and also believe in their right to stay safe and protect others.

The party animals no doubt have a vast array of beliefs. Hippies have always been susceptible to the anti-vax message which rages against big pharma or a conspiracy to control people. It is a message tinted with the notion that nature is best and white man medicine is bad.

The Phanganist has been keeping itself afloat during these lean times, much to its credit. They quote survey figures that throw light on these issues. The website quotes a TAT survey. They asked 4,127 British tourists if they would accept a vaccine jab in order to visit Thailand. 75% of the respondents said they would agree to the idea of a ‘vaccination passport’. This figure changed when people who were in quarantine were asked if they would accept inoculation to escape stay-at-home orders – only 59% indicated they would get vaccinated. That is telling. Those who have gone to Thailand during the world health crisis seem to contain a lot of libertarians and anti-vaxers. No doubt they continue to see Thailand as the ‘land of the free’; a place where one can while away the time in the sun whilst the world suffers.

The irony being that those who refuse a vaccine benefit from the majority who accept the vaccine, as the policy should bring herd immunity. Those who are not so far lost to fantasy that they admit that coronavirus exists and kills people will be safe to mix in social settings precisely because most people don’t think like them. They might dislike state interference but they benefit from state apparatus that has imposed lock down to slow the progress of the virus, and the same state that has spend billions of dollars buying vaccines to protect the population.

I want the law to change in several areas. I don’t want a state so small that it can’t step in to save lives during an emergency. I suspect that many people in Texas must be thinking along similar lines.