Sean Gabb: 2016 Christmas Message

At home in Deal, Dr Gabb, dressed in twinset and pearls, sits with Christmas tree in background.

At this time of year, few sights evoke more feelings of cheer and goodwill than the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree.

For myself, the tree behind me takes me back to the Christmas of 1993, when my wife and I had been married for nearly one year. It was our first Christmas together as a couple, and it was the first year when she cooked the traditional mushroom soup and fried carp of a Slovak Christmas feast.

We have enjoyed such feasts every year since then. At least, we have until this year, when our daughter’s aversion to fish of any kind has persuaded my wife to change the main part of the meal to chicken fried in breadcrumbs.

And this, I suppose, is what 2016 has been about. For so many years, we had been assured – and for so many years we may have assured ourselves – that the future of our country lay in continued membership of the European Union. Yet, when the people of our country were allowed to vote on this, last June, they chose, by a considerable margin, a return to national independence.

And, looking to America, we have seen a similar change in the menu. Very few, this time last year, could have expected that, despite the opposition of one or two persons in the media, in business, and in the political class, Mr Trump would become the next President. Yet this is just what he and the people of the United States have achieved.

But life is a continuous journey, in which change and surprise are never wholly absent.

I was forcefully struck by the truth of this observation earlier this year, when I paid a visit with my wife and daughter to Slovakia. We were greeted by many friends, both old and new. Wherever we went, we experienced a continual fount of goodwill to ourselves and the people of our country.

And it was the same when, in the September of this year, I paid a visit, without my wife and daughter, to our good friends in Turkey, Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Gulcin Imre. Both were naturally concerned by certain untoward events in the country. Even so, we contrived with many other friends, from all over the world, to make this an event filled with joy and with feelings of charity to all.

Gathering round the tree gives us a chance to think about the year ahead. I am looking forward to further changes, that will make the promise we have seen this year of a better world into a growing reality.

It also allows us to reflect on the year that has passed, as we think of those who are far away or no longer with us.

The custom of topping a tree also reminds us of the very first Christmas, when it was an angel who announced the coming of a better world. For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus’s birth – in a stable – were far from ideal. But was it not Jesus who told us to render unto Caesar only those things that are Caesar’s?

Although it is not an easy message to follow, we shouldn’t be discouraged; rather, it inspires us to try harder: to be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives, and to look for ways of spreading that love to others, whenever and wherever we can.

Christmas is a good time to be thankful for them, and for all that brings light to our lives.

I wish you a very happy Christmas.

Fade to refrain from Land of Hope and Glory


  1. “Very few, this time last year, could have expected that, despite the opposition of one or two persons in the media, in business, and in the political class, Mr Trump would become the next President. Yet this is just what he and the people of the United States have achieved.”

    Well, to be clear, this is just what he and about 20.3% of the people of the United States have achieved. More than half of Americans chose to abstain from voting or were forbidden to vote. Of those who did choose to vote and were allowed to vote, 45.96% voted for Trump, 54.04% voted for one of a number of other candidates.

    • Thomas,

      I do understand what you’re saying. But let’s look at the record, shall we?

      At the UK’s 2005 election, the population was about 60.4M. Labour voters were about 9.55M; 15.8% of the total. They got what they wanted.

      Trump’s 20.3% (your figure) is way higher than that.

      Of course, you and I agree that “democracy” by rule of a “majority” is an immoral system. But I think you may be doing the cause of liberty a dis-service by using such an argument.

      • Neil,

        I don’t just use that argument against Trump. Obama was elected by about the same percentage of the population, and I took note of that. Due to lower turnout at midterms, a lot of our congresspeople are elected by more like 15% of their district populations.

        I suspect the argument may make more sense on this side of the pond:

        Our founding document very specifically connects the legitimacy of government to “the consent of the governed.”

        One could argue that everyone who votes is consenting to be governed by the winners whether they voted for the winners or not. There’s some truth to that argument.

        It’s more of a stretch to say that those who are eligible to vote and don’t are consenting to be governed by the winners — that their abstention is an implicit “I don’t care, choose whoever you like and I’ll go along.”

        And it’s not just a stretch, it’s a break, to say that those who are not allowed to vote are somehow consenting to be governed by the winners of the election. That’s a smaller demographic than it used to be, but it still exists: Prisoners, former prisoners convicted of felonies in some states, children, etc. No, I’m not saying children should be allowed to vote as such — just that since they are not asked for their consent, they can’t plausibly be deemed to have given that consent.

        Rasmussen runs a poll every year on whether or not respondents believe that the US government enjoys the consent of the governed. To the best of my recollection, the “yes” response has never topped 25%, and I’ve seen it go as low as 12%. So I’d say that if the legitimacy of said government IS dependent on the consent of the governed, said government is illegitimate.

        • Tom, you missed an important group of people; those of us who don’t vote in elections because none of the candidates, of any of the parties, have any concern for us human beings at all.

          Trump’s genius is that he has reached out to these people. Of course, he then has to deliver. These are, indeed, interesting times.

          • Well, yes, Trump has a genius for reaching out. But the form of that genius — saying something, saying the exact opposite ten minutes later — makes it impossible for him to deliver.

            The only issue I can think of that he hasn’t really reversed himself on, at least very much, is immigration. Apparently his anti-liberty, anti-American, evil no good very bad position on that one is very important to him.

          • P.S. to Tom Knapp (off topic). I find the new RRND very uncomfortable to read. The unpleasantly colo(u)red sidebars with what look to be “falling stars” cause discomfort to my eyes. I have to X it away after a minute or less.

            Just sayin’.

            • Neil,

              Thanks for the feedback.

              The “falling stars” are supposed to be “falling snow” (it’s an option in WordPress “Jetpack” for holiday times). I’ve turned that off.

              The sidebar colors are a diagonal gradient from gold to black. I’m not sure what to do about that. Someone complains if it’s black. Someone complains if it’s white. Someone complains if it’s gray. Someone complains if the gradient runs red to black instead of gold to black (whether over ideologiy or esthetics I know not). The next background color I come up with that SOMEONE doesn’t tell me they hate will be the first one. Maybe I’ll switch to a background image of some kind.

  2. Render unto Caesar only what is Caesar’s was meant to be a cryptic remark, but actually it encourages people to look askance on public taxation! None of our money is Caesar’s, even if Caesar’s image in on the coins.

  3. A very satisfactory Christmas Speech. I hope to see these in video form for many Christmases to come, with perhaps a cameo by the War Secretary (suggested topic: “Taking on our Kultural-Marxist-Fabian-Nazi-Puritan overlords – thoughts from the Venerable War Secretary”).

  4. I’m a little puzzled that other commenters here seem not to have detected the several ironies in Sean’s piece. Does no-one else hear the overtones an octave (and more) above his normal speaking voice?

    In my young days, at Christmas we didn’t gather around the tree, but around the hearthplace and its fire. But I suspect that Sean’s home these days is heated by gas. Installed by a CORGI, of course.

    All that said, I wish everyone here a warm and merry Christmas, and a freer, happier and more prosperous 2017.

    • The Martland household had no tree this year. Nasty pagan things. Instead, lots of lights and nativity scenes. Another break with tradition this year: we gave our gifts straight after Midnight Mass (which was sadly done according to Common Worship rather than the Prayer Book).

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