Guido Fawkes, along with several others, is giving the deep Green, and also deeply red, Mr George Monbiot, a thoroughly deserved going over for this idea that “wealthy householders” – however defined – should be forced to give over some of their rooms to let to those deemed to be deserving. As several of Guido’s splendidly rude commenters point out, this brings up images of how the Russian Bolsheviks forced the “rich” to accomodate the proletariat in the homes of the former. I remember reading about such a scene in Ayn Rand’s “We The Living”, one of her first pieces of fiction (and a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, BTW).
At root of the issue here is that Monbiot, while he himself is happy to avail himself of the benefits of a society that allows private property – he has a nice home himself – he has no real, rooted respect for private property as such. He believes that all the property that currently exists is a “common resource” to which “we” – whoever happens to be living in a defined geographical space – are entitled to use. His view of property rights is not a bundle of rights that contain the important right to exclude, which is all of a piece of the idea, as traditionally expressed, that an “Englishman’s home is his castle”. No: for him, he regards a home as what PJ O’Rourke has called a “gimme right”. As far as Mr Monbiot is concerned, if the “needs” of X are what they are, then so much the worse for whoever happens to be owning a particular piece of property deemed to be “too big”. And why stop at seizing property in stuff like buildings? After all, the skills and abilities we bring are, according to his view, also a “common resource” that everyone has a claim on.
Another problem here, which leads to my point about Monbiot’s fanatical Greenery, is his zero-sum approach to life generally that this sort of comment exhibits. Rather than think of say, freeing up planning laws and the like to encourage more home-building – a perfectly sensible idea in my view – he argues for more control. And like a lot of Greens, he presumably does not favour laissez faire solutions to shortages of things like housing because he fears there are just too many damn people in the world, and in this small island of the UK, anyway.
One a point of detail, forcing owners of homes to let out one or more rooms to whoever demands them would require a monstrous government bureaucracy of some kind. I can only shudder at the sort of issues that would get thrown up by administering such a scheme.
Mr Monbiot is an enemy of liberty, that’s for damn sure. He may be a clown in the eyes of many here, but remember that this guy is taken seriously in certain quarters. Such nonsense can never be attacked often enough.
As an aside, this book by Richard Pipes, looking at the very different traditions of Russia and the UK concerning property, is well worth reading.