America's Tea Party Coming To Britain
by Ian R Thorpe.
CREATIVE COMMONS: Attribute, non commercial, no derivs.
KEYWORDS: liberal, libertarian, libertine, left, politically correct, politics, socialist, human, rights, minority, minorities, gay, sexual, race, racist, freedom, philosophy
Many commentators are saying the terms right and left are no longer relevant in modern politics. There is certainly plenty of evidence to support this view from the Labour government recently ejected by UK voters with their authoritarian attitudes, obsessions with surveillance and control of information and their penchant for passing legislation on matters of personal choice, behaviour and morality to the U.S.A's Obama administration and their determination to ram down the throats of a hostile majority laws that while claimed to be about minority rights are aimed at giving minorities privileged status.
In the United States of course words like socialist and left belong to the politics that dare not speak its name. So America's authoritarian left refer to themselves as 'liberals.'
This brings me, a lifelong classical liberal, to the point of most personal concern, the devaluation of the word liberal. When was liberalism anything to do with the political techniques of Josef Goebbels or the policies of Josef Stalin? When did liberalism, the political philosophy founded on the ideas of John Locke and developed by thinkers such as Thomas Paine, Mary Woolstonecroft and John Stuart Mill ever have anything to to with big government, the constant expansion of the public sector and the creation of a dependency culture among the lower orders?
To discuss this, one must first define what what 'liberal' means. is. Some would content that in these days of free markets in language and meanings of words being variable at the whim of solipsists 'liberal' is just a synonym of "libertarian". Nothing could be further from the truth. Although it is possible to be both a liberal in the traditional sense and a libertarian these things are very different although the difference is perhaps too subtle to be understood by those who confuse libertarianism with libertinism.
If we stay with true libertarians for now these fall into two camps, the ultra-individual, "don't tread on me" types, often the shrillest advocates of the "all tax is theft" mantra while being simultaneously the noisiest advocates of maintaining big military capabilities. These people are truly libertines, they demand total personal freedom but do not accept that others should have the same rights. The more positive and more interesting libertarian position however is that of the people who, while considering all tax is a monstrous imposition accept that taxation is necessary and who desire the greatest amount of freedom possible but understand that freedom comes with responsibilities.
The problem we have is in seeing where the line is drawn between libertarianism and anarchy, not anarchy in the popular sense but in the true sense. Think of the relationship between these words, monarchy, oligarchy, anarchy.The exception is democracy or to be correct timocracy because what we have in the developed world is not government of the people, by the people, for the people but government by those who control the flow of money.
The belief that has always kept me a liberal and a libertarian is that although when the word is now used by Obama supporting, hate mongering Democrats in the USA or Labour supporting neo-Nazis in the UK it becomes an insult to every true liberal principle, in the end I believe in the ability of individuals to decide for themselves the best course on which to set their lives in order to pursue personal fulfillment.
To put it in simple terms I am a liberal not through moral or philosophical dogma, but because I believe that a liberal nation, a libertarian nation rather than an authoritarian state is the best way to achieve, to borrow a phrase from Jeremy Bentham, "The greatest good of the greatest number."
How does the populist authoritarianism of politicians like Tony Blair and Barack Obama fail that test then, how do they fall so far short of achieving the greatest number that one has the impression they must have been deliberately aiming for the worst outcome for everybody.
First there is the replacement of political philosophy with marketing psychology. Look at the language they use. The words 'fair' and derivatives such as 'fairer' and fairness' are so overused by politicians that realists reach sick for the sick bucket every time we hear them. Not so the supporters of populist authoritarianism, they cap their hand gleefully and sigh ecstatically.
"Fairness, who could not agree with that, who could support unfairness, only the truly mean spirited and curmudgeonly could be against fairness," they tell themselves.
Were that the case there would be a massive majority of mean spirited curmudgeons in every democracy. In fact through misuse and overuse fair has become as meaningless as 'liberal','left' or 'right'. I think Nick Clegg, leader of the UK Liberal Democrat party illustrated the point perfectly during the General Election campaign earlier this year. In a speech he gave at a hospital Clegg told his audience if he became Prime Minister under his government Britain his government would make Britain a fairer place.
The podium from which he spoke was placed outside a Children's cancer ward. Even Clegg's worst enemy could not have picked a more inappropriate location for talk of fairness than a place that more than any other illustrates life will never be fair and to make it so is way beyond our abilities.
The conundrum then is how does a liberal government go about creating a system that protects the weak and vulnerable from "the heartache and the thousand shocks flesh is heir to," as Hamlet put it without encroaching on personal liberties?
It should be easy but the public sector always performs extremely badly at the tasks assigned to it. Why do public servants perform badly? Simply because they have an incentive to do so. There is no end product, revenue from sales does not have to fund wages and if, for electoral reasons, taxes cannot be raised to cover shortfalls, money can always be borrowed to cover the deficit. Thus there is no brake on the creation of labyrinthine bureaucracies in which none of the departments seem capable of even communicating let alone collaborating. Parkinson's first law of ergonomics states that the volume of work expands to fill the time available to do it. In this era of de - industrialization with a constantly expanding pool of workers for whom the private sector (the wealth creating sector) has no need it is inevitable that the bureaucracy will expand.
And with the authority of the law and the power of the state behind them it is also inevitable that the state's servants will want to reach into and regulate every aspect of our lives. They have already made great advances in taking over the raising of our children, turning them into homogenized little conformists instead of the bright, confident, sometimes smart-mouthed individuals most of us hoped our children would be, they have taken over workplace relationships and are trying to regulate personal relationships. The UK's hate law, which did not go through under Labour and is likely to be thrown out by the Conservative / Lib Dem Coalition or, more likely, quietly dropped by its sponsors contained a clause to the effect that if a person of a minority felt they had been abused there could be no defence. Accusation would have been proof of guilt. So people could be dismissed and prosecuted for racial, gender or religious for saying "Good morning" in a way a minority member did not like.
No liberal would ever deny anybody a fair hearing whatever their offence, no liberal would ever support a law that effectively takes us back to the days when "the word of a gentleman" was enough evidence for a commoner to be convinced of a serious crime. The only difference with the modern law is that now it is not the word of a gentleman but the word of any identity politics player.
The real problem for traditional liberals, those whose ideas are based on the teachings of Locke, David Hume, Thomas Paine, J. S. Mill and other enlightenment thinkers rather than on Lenin, Goebbels and Mao Tse Tung is how in a world that increasingly makes a virtue of selfishness and rewards self interest does one reconcile the demands of modern living with the principles of liberalism or libertarianism.
I personally am not anti-state but I am anti-big-state, I believe the government had no business spending taxpayers money on telling people what they should eat, how much alcohol they can drink without fear of finding essential medical services (for which they have paid through taxation) being withdrawn or where and when they can smoke a cigarette if they so desire. I am also increasingly appalled by the obsession with minorities that consumes those most illiberal of people, the progressives. These people like to call themselves themselves liberal to disguise their innate authoritarianism but are very eager to impose their prejudices on the whole of society.
In a truly liberal society everybody should be equal in the eyes of the law, everybody should have equal opportunities in education, to succeed on their own terms in life (this might be described as "the pursuit of happiness", to live peacefully, to be fairly rewarded for their work, to make their own choices relating to lifestyle and to exercise their right to privacy. Beyond that the state should not interfere by asserting the rights of one group above another, should not initiate 'affirmative action' programmes as a way of redressing perceived injustices and should not involve itself in matters of morality by imposing the moral prejudices of one group on others who may find themselves forced to accept that which they find abhorrent.
A case in point is the current demand from the gay community (or gays,lesbian, bisexual and transgender community thought whether the mutual loathing of those groups qualifies them as a community is questionable) that the right of same sex couples to be married be enshrined in law. Not satisfied with the civil partnerships sanctioned by the state the loathsome whiners who claim to speak for these minorities are now demanding religious groups be forced to conduct same sex religious marriages. Personally I don't give a damn. If a couple can find a church minister willing to officiate, it's fine. I don't care. What is wrong with this demand and the backing given to it by the authoritarian 'progressives' is that it concerns itself so much with being politically correct and being seen to be progressive it tramples on the feelings of members of certain religious groups whose faith involves disapproval of homosexuality. The proposed law requires that the state places more importance on the feelings of homosexuals than on the feelings of churchgoers.
Where the odious hypocrisy of the self righteous scumbags who support this campaign is revealed however is while they insist that in the name of equality there must be no exemptions, no special cases for Roman Catholic or Evangelical Christian churches but are quite happy for Muslims to be exempt from the law because 'we must respect their faith'. Oh well, Muzzas are the current fashionable minority for the Politically Correct Thought Police
So in that one thing you see the hypocrisy, duplicity and delusions of moral superiority that typifies the 'progressive movement' exposed. Just to add a little extra flourish, not long ago a British Judge in a case of marital rape brought in a British court by a Muslim wife against her husband ruled that the law, established after a long and often bitter battle, which enabled married women to prosecute their husbands for rape could not apply to Muslims because in the Muslim faith a woman is her husband's property to be done with as he pleases. The progressive left of course see no irony in cheering this verdict as delivering justice for Muslims and then crossing the road to join a demonstration against domestic violence.
These however are the people who support big government, who applaud the proliferation of often contradictory laws that impose the moral choices of special interest groups on large sectors of society. These are the people who have usurped the word 'liberal' and used it to conceal their authoritarian tendencies. It is our civic duty to help them get in touch with their inner Nazi so they know where their true political alliegance lies.
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