Freedom/liberty is defined in different ways. Some people talk of “free will” of agency, of the ability (sometimes and to some extent) to choose. Of how human beings are just that (beings) not flesh robots whose actions are either determined by a process of causes and effects going back to the start of the universe or are a matter of random chance (neither determinism or random chance being agency – being human choice).
This is not the place to debate the existence of the “I” (the reasoning, self aware, self) and to argue that agency is not an “illusion” (although if it is a illusion who is having the illusion – humans being simply being flesh robots), but I will say that if humans are not “beings” (not agents) then freedom is of no moral importance. No more than it is of moral importance whether water is allowed to “run free” or constrained behind a dam. But then, of course, if there is no agency (no freedom of choice) then there is no morality anyway. A clockwork mouse does not have moral responsibility – and neither would something that looked like a human being but was, in fact, not a “being” (an agent – a choosing “I”) at all.
As for the position that it is “compatible” that a human might have no capacity what-so-ever to choose any of their actions (including lines of thought) and yet still be morally responsible for them – well it is not compatible, basic logic does not allow us to have our cake and eat it as well.
Others talk of freedom in terms of stuff – goods and services.
Such people may or may not accept that humans have the capacity (sometimes to some extent) to make real choices – but they hold that even if humans do have the ability to make choices this does not mean they should be allowed to.
People will make the wrong choices – they will do things make the world a worse place, even for themselves.
To some extent the political libertarian actually agrees with that – after all we do not believe that people should be allowed to make the choice to rob, rape or murder other people.
Or, rather, they should be allowed to make the choice – but not to act on it (aggression should be opposed), and they should be punished if they do act upon it.
Some people have suggested that we be called “propertarians” (rather than libertarians) because of our opposition to chosen actions that aggress against the bodies and goods of people – to which my response is “if you want to call me a propertarian do so – I do not take it as a insult”.
However, the political libertarian (such as myself) tends to deny that non-aggressive choices – choices that respect the bodies and goods of other people, tend to be “wrong” in general.
We hold that most people, most of the time are more likely to get things right than the “great and the good”.
Not just “were you ten times and wise you would not have the right to impose your plans upon myself and others”, but also “even if you were ten times as wise you would still muck it all up”. Indeed it would be claimed that the clever elite are not “wise” at all – for if they were “wise” (rather than just clever) they would understand that trying to “plan society” always ends badly.
In part at this point we move from philosophy to political economy – economics… → Continue reading: The rise and decline of freedom in Britain – the decline and rise of the State
Tim Congdon has thrown his hat in the ring to become the next leader of UKIP and that means UKIP could possibly end up with a leader whom I dislike even more than David Cameron (hard to believe, eh?).
I have disliked Tim Congdon long before I knew who David Cameron was. I remember him at a conference long ago – his reply to my suggestion that lending should be from real savings, and that governments should not subsidize or bailout banks (via such methods as the Bank of England lending them money) was to suggest that I supported a ban on overseas trade that (he stated) the Ming dynasty in China had imposed.
“Paul only you could hold a grudge over something like this” – not if the man had changed his opinions, but he has not (it is still corporate welfare all the way with him). Nor has he changed his manner – he does not debate, he just claims that foes do not understand banking.
If he means do not understand how to get paid lots of money for being an apologist for subsidies to the banks then he is right – although “understand” is not the correct word.
Errrr… I have news for you, Cato Institute… Barack Obama was lying.
He never had the slightest intention of going about eliminating Federal government schemes or aspects of such schemes, in the hopes of reducing the overall burden of government.
On the contrary his entire political life has been spent trying to increase the size and scope of government – and to do so in the most corrupt ways possible. Only someone who knew nothing about Barack Obama’s time in politics would be surprised by the hundreds of pages of detailed corrupt wasteful schemes in the “Stimulus” Act, and in the Obama Care Act – and in every other Act he has had passed (the details of which written by such old comrades of his as Jeff Jones – a man who repents of his Communist terrorism as much as Bill Ayers does, i.e. not at all).
Let us say I am wrong – and that Barack Obama is not trying to destroy America and the West in general on purpose (as part of the Cloward and Piven doctrines of spend America to the destruction of “capitalism” that he was taught at all those Marxist conferences he went to whilst a post grad at Columbia)…
…Even if the question of motivation is put on one side, the facts of his record both in the Chicago Machine, and at State level, and then in the United States Senate, where he managed to be even more corrupt and wild spending than Christopher Dodd (one of the two main supporters of the ultra vile “Financial Reform Act” that Obama has just had passed – the other being a creature called Barney Frank), something that might be thought to be pretty much impossible… well, it seems pretty damn obvious what to expect from President Obama.
“But they always knew that Paul”.
No, “with all due respect” the Cato Institute (like Reason magazine) contains some people, not all – but some, who really believed Barack Obama in 2008 – people who never bothered to do the slightest research into the record of Barack Obama – and were abusive (very abusive) to anyone who tried to point out their errors. → Continue reading: I see no reason to give a free pass to the Cato Institute
Paul Krugman is often described as a winner of the Noble Prize for economics – Mr Noble set up no such prize, but let that slide (after all good people have sometimes been awarded this prize over the years). However, he is in fact not an economist at all – he is just someone who is called an “economist” because he has the position of “Professor of Economics” at a university (as if a job title describes knowledge).
Paul Krugman has for decades sneered at the idea that economics is about reason and logic – that it is (as the “Austrian School” claims) an a priori subject. On the contrary, Paul Krugman claims that economics is an empirical subject – all about understanding empirical evidence and making predictions.
The links given in this Cafe Hayek featured article show that Paul Krugman does not understand empirical evidence and makes predictions that are wildly wrong – i.e., by his own definition, he is not an economist.
Of course there is an alternative view:
This would be that Paul Krugman does have some grasp of economics – but chooses to support an ever more interventionist government for reasons of political ideology, in spite of the economic harm he knows such a line of policy will cause.
For example, Paul Krugman does not predict that the Obama “Stimulus” spending orgy will succeed (on top, please remember, of all the wild “Stimulus” spending by President Bush) – on the contrary Paul Krugman admits the “Stimulus” absurdity will fail – however he claims that this is because it is not big enough.
Almost a trillion Dollars is “not enough” – and however many trillions of Dollars were spent it would still be “not enough”. Any failure of statism is explained away as the result of there not being enough statism.
Would anyone still like to claim that Paul Krugman is an economist?
The Daily Telegraph is the main conservative newspaper in Britain – at least that is how it presents itself and some of its content really is conservative, but often it follows the line of the left (the doctrines that Telegraph journalists will have been taught in school, including most private schools, and at university).
Yesterday’s print edition (which I read on a long journey from Northern Ireland) gives an interesting example (the online edition is arranged differently). Most people will see the assumptions in the article by Telegraph employee Mary Riddell – “Osbourn’s brutal cuts play right into the hands of the unions” (actually the British government spending review is not even published to October 20th – and I would not be astonished if, behind all the smoke and mirrors, government spending next year was even higher than it is this year) with language such as “slash and burn” and “destroys the very charities and community groups” (in Mary’s world, which is sadly very close to the state of modern Britain, a charity or community group is part of the government to be funded by the taxpayers) inflicting “maximum pain” and threatening a “concordant with the unions” … etc, etc. Propaganda of this sort is not really dangerous – everyone can see it for what it is and make their own judgements. However, it is not what interests me – I am interested in what people will not tend to spot, what flows into their minds without their even knowing it.
On the obituary page people will notice the obituary for John Gouriet (one of the founders of what became the Freedom Association in Britain), and some people will get angry at the scare quote marks around the word “oppression” in relation to the Soviet Union (as if Mr Gouriet was silly to think that the totalitarian Soviet Union actually was oppressive), but most people will just read without really thinking the little extract from “Great Obituaries From This Week In The Past” next to it – an extract from the obituary of the famous supporter of racial segregation Governor George Wallace (who died in 1998). → Continue reading: Distortions from the Daily Telegraph
Some people may remember Natalie Solent writing a post on Samizdata about statist developments in Kenya (a post inspired by a BBC report – of all things).
Predictably a from-central-casting leftist commenter turned up – accusing Natalie Solent (and even nice, gentle, fluffy me) of lies, ignorance…
Well Glenn Beck has actually read the new Kenyan Constitution, passed last week (even I could think of better things to do than read the small print of the new Kenyan Constitution – for example pluck out some of my nose hairs, so if Glenn wants to use his failing eyes to read the thing for the rest us…) and he read out sections of it on Monday, live on his show.
There is a list of “positive” rights (i.e. nice things the government must do for you) – wild promises of health, education, and so on. The idea that these can be afforded even in a developed economy (in the long term) is problematic – as for in an economy like Kenya, the idea is absurd.
Also (as even the Economist magazine admitted – although, of course, it supported the new Constitution) large areas of what are presently privately owned land can now be taken by the government.
Lastly – we have an interesting definition of “freedom of speech” (the very thing that Natalie was pointing to) . “Hate speech” is excluded from “free speech” protection – and hate speech is defined as an attack on a group, or an individual (which just about covers everything one might use a right to free speech to do). I am sure that Frank Lloyd (President Barack Obama’s “Diversity” Commissar at the Federal Communications Commission) would love to introduce such a Constitution in the United States (no naughty Fox News, or talk radio or internet to upset him any more), Kenya may even replace the Venezuela of President Chevez as his favourite country.
Although there are no explicit use of words like “Marxism”, the style in which the Kenyan Constitution is written (and a lot of the content – see above) is very much like the old Soviet Constitution – not a nasty, negative, set of limitations on government power like the United States Constitution.
Almost needless to say Comrade Barack Obama spent a lot of money making sure the new Kenyan Constitution was passed – although Glenn Beck did not mention that point. Although Glenn did mention that this sort of Constitution was the “Dream” of Barack Obama’s Marxist pro Soviet father (not to be confused with his Marxist mother or socialist maternal grandparents, or his Marxist childhood mentor Frank Marshall Davis, or his fellow Marxists in New York whilst a post grad, or the Marxists he worked with for his whole adult life in Chicago, or his Marxist Liberation Theology Minister for twenty years Rev. J. Wright or…), as made clear (if one reads carefully) in Barack Obama’s own first book “Dreams…”
A friend of mine has looked into the Kenyan constitution – I hope I do not have to read it (i.e. I am forced to when some moron, or paid hack, comes along and say it is a wonderful example of truly limited government), from the sound of even this bit it seems like the Constitutional document equivalent of a snuff film.
His initial comments were:
I’ll stick to other countries’ coffee now, the rights enumerated are amazing, even goods and services. Why didn’t Marx think of simply enumerating legal rights to plenty? Were the massacres encouraged as a reason for the new Constitution? Clause 10 is bad enough; 34 (4); 43; 66, 73 etc.
How do I enforce my rights (were I Kenyan) under 43 (1) (c): By not paying in a restaurant? Everyone is obliged to uphold the Constitution 3 (1). OK, start saving up for the Famine relief now…
No wonder the Economist magazine supported it (no I am not saying they are Marxists – they are just whores who always try and get into bed with the powerful) and Comrade Barack spent American tax money to make sure it passed.
Yet again “JournoList” (the international organization by which leftist journalists cooperate to serve the cause of collectivism) has been exposed. Tucker Carlson over at the “Daily Caller” has exposed more of their propaganda and disinformation campaigns. Specifically the effort to distract attention from, and smear as a “racist” anyone who tried to report Barack Obama’s two decade membership of an extreme “Black Liberation Theology” (an ideology that mixes Marxism with black racism and then puts a “Christian” cover on both) church and his close connection with the vile bigot the Rev. Jeremiah “Audacity of Hope” Wright.
Outwardly such magazines as Time and the Economist pretend to compete and to offer different world views (the Economist pretending to be a free market supporting journal – in spite of its support for endless bailouts and other corporate welfare, and support government “stimulus” spending). Yet Mr Carlson shows (by publishing their discussions) that high ranking people at these (and most other) “mainstream media” outlets actively cooperate, and coordinate their disinformation and propaganda campaigns for the collectivist cause.
As I have attacked the “mainstream” media, especially the Economist – whose lying claim to support liberty has long offended me, for years, I might be expected to be saying “I told you so” at this point…
…But actually I am astonished…
This is because like Bernie Goldberg (of “Bias”, “A Slobbering Love Affair”) I have long believed the source of the pro-big government bias in the media to be a “mindset” produced by education at both school and university, and the environment that MSM (“mainstream media”) people operate within. To find out that their really is a sort of electronic “Star Chamber” where people (supposedly from competing media outlets) deliberately set out to cover up the truth and to coordinate their lies and disinformation (knowing they are lies and disinformation), well that is rather a shock. → Continue reading: “JournoList”… why Paul Marks is NOT rubbing his hands and saying “I told you so”
Archbishop Rowen Williams has never heard of me and he never will. However, I now believe I have done him an injustice in various thoughts and comments. I am fully aware that most people on Samizdata are atheists – but you do not claim to be Christians, and I am saying that I have been unjust by assuming a man who said he was a Christian was lying (i.e. was a fraud).
Archbishop Williams is a social gospel man and I have assumed that, like most such folk, he is a disguised atheist – someone who when they use the word “God” really means “society” or “the people” (or whatever code word for the state). However, this was an assumption on my part – I never bothered to do any background research (exactly the sort of failure I attack in others – when they make statements about the “moderate” Barack Obama, or whatever, without spending five minutes doing any research).
Recently I came upon an exchange between Bishop Spong and Archbishop Williams which leads me to the opinion that I have been unjust to Rowen Williams. Although the source is Wikipedia I have spent enough time reading this thing to have a good sense of when articles are false and when they are true. → Continue reading: I have done Archbishop Rowen Williams an injustice
As well as the normal “liberal” distortions (in this case pretending that the de facto ban on both Alaska land drilling, off shore shallow water drilling, and Mountain State oil shale production, do not exist – these being the restrictions that force difficult and expensive deep water drilling) that Michelle Oddis outlines – please ponder the John Stossel story.
J.S. said whatever libertarian says on race – that racism is evil, but people should be allowed to keep people they do not like (for whatever stupid reason) off their property.
And for that all Hell broke lose – with “MediaMatters” and all the rest of the (very well funded) leftist (in the modern sense) organizations demanding that he be dismissed. The man is Jewish (counts for nothing – the left will smear him as a racist anyway), the man was a Democrat before he became a libertarian and has never been a Republican (counts for nothing – the left will smear him as …..), the man has “socially liberal” attitudes seeing nothing wrong with homosexual acts or whatever (counts for nothing – the left will smear him as……).
Being opposed to the left (in the modern sense of the establishment – to the elite that control most of the institutions in society, including many private ones) and yet in the public eye is to undergo trial by fire every day – against a ruthless enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy you. They will lie and cheat and smear, do anything they believe they “have” to do for the collectivist cause).
So one faces a choice – either give in and become a de facto leftist (like the house “conservatives” the New York Times employs to attack real conservatives, or like David Frumm, or Andrew “cash for clunkers is an example of good limited government” Sullivan) or accept that you will be treated as a monster – and that even after you die your name will be spat on and the left will try and train even your own children to hate your memory.
That is the alternative that, for example, Glenn Beck has accepted (he knows that the left will eventually destroy him – and has asked his children to keep private journals so that they will have something real to remember their father by), but it is a hard road to walk. As Mr Stossel is discovering.
Stossel is lucky that he works for the one major media organization that might not fire him or force him to resign – but even that is not certain, for Rupert M. is no hero.
“Why do journalists not dissent from the leftist consensus” – because the left will DESTROY you if you do dissent (if they can find any way to do so).
Deep down the left support the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States about as much as they support the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. And the British left is not different.
This is what Oddis wrote:
I turned on the TV Sunday morning just in time to hear TIME Magazine’s Joe Klein on the “Chris Matthews Show” claim that Obama’s approval ratings won’t be affected negatively by the Gulf oil spill.
He is “incredibly lucky in his opposition — the oil spill is a great example,” said Klein. “The Republicans look worse on that than the Democrats do.” A chuckle was shared between Klein and Matthews.
In hindsight Democrats should be reminded that we are drilling in deep offshore wells (5,000 feet or more) because berserk environmentalists refuse to let anyone drill into the rocky tundra of ANWR even though over 75% percent of Alaskans support this kind of exploration.
Now how does this situation make Republicans look worse? Read more here and watch Glenn Beck back in 2008 explain the truth about ANWR.
British tax funded broadcaster the BBC (it does not like the term “state broadcaster” as it prides itself on its political independence from the government of the day – although it shows no independence from collectivist ideology in general) does not run advertisements apart for what it considers good causes. Such as, of course, itself – BBC shows and other products.
The first “Director General” of the BBC, when it stopped being a commercial company, was a man called John Reith – and annual lectures are given in his name, the “Reith Lectures“. The BBC proudly advertises these lectures as a high culture jewel, something that no nasty commercial or charitable broadcaster would ever produce. Each year some establishment person actually lowers him or herself to speak to the unclean masses.
However, this year the endless advertisements were useful. The lecturer (a former head
of the Royal Society – although Newton, Boyle, and the others must be spinning in their graves) is to be a man of science, but of the modern sort in that the advertisements quote him saying that science must avoid investigating certain things – there are “doors that should remain closed”. This is an attitude that would have pleased the more extreme people in the Inquisition, but is unlikely to inspire children to question established orthodoxies – but, of course, questioning is no longer the function of “science”. Also the main modern functions of science appear to be to combat “climate change” (by supporting ever greater power for governments, pretending that more regulations and taxes will “save the planet” rather than be a corrupt scheme for special interests to gain money and power – by the way this is true even if, as may well be the case, the theory that human C02 emissions are a danger is correct, as such schemes as “Cap and Trade” will do nothing to reduce such emissions and such political scams are not part of science anyway) and to make sure that the “benefits of globalization are equitably shared”.
How “science” can be twisted so that this last nakedly political aim can be claimed to be part of it, I will never find out – as, of course, I will avoid the Reith Lectures as if they were the plague (which they are – the plague of ignorance and collectivist fanaticism), but I am still grateful for the advertisements for, as always with BBC advertisements, they warn people that the show being advertised is excrement, something to be avoided unless one enjoys stepping in excrement. However, if should be remembered that for children, especially for intelligent children interested in the world, such things as the “Reith Lecturers” are presented as key to the golden door of knowledge.
This is the tragedy – it is the most intelligent and hard working children who are ruined, those who hunger for knowledge are poisoned with a political message disguised as science (or history, or high culture). Not everyone has access to books (especially in modern times – the days when ordinary homes were full of serious works are long gone, at least in Britain), and many people are not first inspired by books in any case – they are inspired by the spoken word. And both the education system and the media (especially the broadcasting media) target such young people for ruination – for taking what is good in them, and turning it bad. Teaching them a rigid orthodoxy (which they must not question) which is really a mask for a political ideology – world egalitarianism, the “equitable sharing” of “the benefits of globalization”, with its basic denial of private property rights.
Perhaps, as so many tell me, the internet will save such young people – but perhaps it will not. I remain doubtful.
Oh and I, of course, remain open to correction – for example it is possible that the lecturer (his name did not make an impression on me – such beings being rather close to being parts of a hive mind anyway) may explain various new designs for atomic fission power stations in his lectures and discuss various approaches to nuclear fusion in great and enlightening detail. If he does I will have been, partly, refuted.
Dr Butler’s work is a follow up to his book “The Rotten State of Britain” – itself a fine book explaining many of the problems this country faces.
In “The Alternative Manifesto” Dr Butler concentrates on the terrible economic position that Britain finds itself in, what really caused this position and what should be done about it.
Unlike the United States there is little challenge in Britain to the establishment view that all our problems are caused by “greedy bankers” and “lack of regulations”. The “lack of regulations” point is utterly absurd as there are endless national and indeed international regulations (for example the “mark to market” rule was part of the international financial regulations agreed, years ago, in Basel, Switzerland).
And, as for “greedy bankers”, they are indeed greedy, but to blame their greed for the crises is like blaming the speculators of “charge alley” for the problems of Britain in the 18th century – many great figures of English literature did this (as to attack the wicked speculators diverted attention from the politicians who were paying many of the great figures in English literature), but that does not alter the fact that it was the “public credit” itself, the endless government borrowing, that was at the root of the economic problems and the political corruption – not the speculators in the debt, however wicked they may have been.
Even today with our fiat money and fractional reserve banking taking beyond any level of sanity – even the most crazy banker can only build a pyramid of debt on new money that the governments themselves have created, and indeed it is these governments who are normally the loudest voices demanding that banks “expand credit” – lend more money.
However, presently Dr Butler’s works are the only books dissenting from the establishment view (the view that the root of the problem is the greed of bankers and the solution is yet more taxes and regulations) that one can find in (for example) high street book stores.
→ Continue reading: ‘The Alternative Manifesto’ – Examining the diagnosis, and possible cure, of Britain’s ills
The British Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown, is going to promise nursing at home for all cancer patients who desire this. Such nursing is already provided by the Macmillan charity (hence “Macmillan cancer nurses”), but people will soon forget that. If the plan goes ahead and (a rather wild assumption) the British government manages to stagger on for a few more years without bankruptcy from its endless schemes, people will soon be saying “if it was not for the government people with cancer who wanted to stay at home could not do so – unless they were RICH” (the word “rich” being said with hatred).
This is how the expansion of government happens. The government takes over something (and civil society retreats) and soon people do not even know that it was ever done voluntarily. And, too often, the people who used to undertake the activity welcome the advance of government – “now we will not have to go begging for money” they tell themselves, not understanding that where there is government finance there is also government control.
It may even be that, a few years down the track, some future government decides to abolish home nursing of cancer sufferers (“it would be more efficient to do this in hospital”). Take over and then some time later close (or mutilate) has been a common thing in such things as health… for example the cottage hospitals that local communities had financed for centuries… or education (no more need to go “begging” for funds to finance talented poor children going to the local grammar school, for the government would fund the grammar schools – accept that the government closed them after a couple of decades).
The education “system” (the schools and the universities – with the exception of the University of Buckingham) teaches none of the above – one would not expect it to, after all even the private schools are dominated by such things as they need to pass examinations set by government approved people. However, even the privately owned media is useless – at least in Britain.
For example, today “Classic FM” (one of the largest non-government radio stations in the United Kingdom) just covered the matter in its news broadcasts by saying how Mr Brown was making this nice offer – and had a person on saying how the whole scheme might even pay for itself by helping people back into work and… basically flying pigs nonsense.
As for the Conservative party – there was no opposition in principle (no defence of civil society), just a question of what was going to be cut to pay for the noble scheme.
Lastly where Mr Brown is going to make his promise is worthy of note – he is going to make a speech at the “King’s Fund”. This was once a charity set up to give poor people health care and it was given vast sums of money (by rich people – but also by a lot of people who were not rich at all) which was invested to provide an income. Then the organization changed its function (to offering advice conducting, non medical, “research” and so on) – but it never gave any of the money back… It is controlled by ex BBC people, and other such, these days. Actually the King’s Fund is, therefore, a perfect venue for a speech that will (in reality) announce the death of another piece of civil society – but I doubt that anyone present for the speech will understand this.