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Good news! BBC to strike!

At last, that bastion of idiotarianism the BBC is going to go off the air for a while, God willing! That these grasping tax funded parasites are going to strike during major televised sporting events is splendid news so maybe now more folks might be a bit less willing to shell out £125 (about $240) per year in order to support an institution filled with moral relativists, collectivists, reflexive anti-Americans and pro-Islamofascists.

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99 comments to Good news! BBC to strike!

  • John Ellis

    Perry,

    Even if it were voluntary, I would rather buy the BBC’s service for that price, than Murdoch’s pro-war, neo-conservative, globalistic-monopolistic-corporate alternative for £40 a month….

    But I would concede, neither choice is perfect. But who has time or the resources to be his own journalist and news-gatherer? Well, maybe you do a bit, but I certainly don’t

  • dearieme

    As long as we don’t miss the Cup Final, where one bunch of reds is bound to be beaten.

  • John, the whole point is that we are not allowed to choose whether we wish to buy the BBC’s services. We are all forced to pay for them through the License Fee. To get Perry’s point of view, just imagine if you were required by law to subscribe to Sky.

  • Old Jack Tar

    Well John that is just fine for you but why the hell do *I* have to pay for something I never watch anymore and never asked for? You may not want a choice but I bloody well do! And you act is if the choice is Merde-ock or the Beeb, which is a false dichotomy for sure in this era of cable TV and a zillion channels.

  • Euan Gray

    We are all forced to pay for them through the License Fee

    And when the licence fee is abolished, you’ll all be forced to pay for them through general taxation.

    I neither own nor want to own a TV. But I think John Ellis’ point is valid – the BBC is pretty good value for money. Of course it is biased and slanted – but so is Sky, just in the other direction. And Sky’s a lot more expensive.

    Most people who have a TV (and I think some 98% of UK households have at least one) will watch BBC at some point, and probably quite a lot. If they want to do that, let them pay. If they want to watch Sky, let them pay. Abolishing the licence fee doesn’t mean you won’t pay, it just means you’ll pay in another way – and it means people like me will have to pay through general taxation for TV services we do not now use or pay for. The only people it would benefit would be those who never, ever watch any BBC production or programme at any time under any circumstances. I don’t imagine there are very many of them.

    The alternative is to make the BBC commercial. Given the usual British complete lack of imagination or innovative thinking, this would be done by advertising as it currently is on the commercial channels. One of the pleasant features of the BBC is its lack of advertising. When I did have a TV, I must admit I did prefer to watch a film or documentary on BBC without the annoying distraction of commercials.

    The BBC is not a monopoly provider of anything. You have a choice, you don’t need to watch it. However, as long as it remains non-commercial you will have to pay for it one way or another. I suspect that commercialising it would be an example of not appreciating the merits of something until it is gone.

    EG

  • Pete_London

    Euan

    I neither own nor want to own a TV. But I think John Ellis’ point is valid – the BBC is pretty good value for money. Of course it is biased and slanted – but so is Sky, just in the other direction. And Sky’s a lot more expensive.

    The point is that Murdoch doesn’t attempt to extort money from you under pain of imprisonment simply for owning a TV. You obviously believe that extortion is preferable to adverts. Ever the little authoritarian. Don’t bother fisking every dot, comma and syllable, I’m not getting drawn into your tiresome, boring games.

    The simple solution is not to give in to the regime. Don’t buy a licence, don’t feed the monster. I haven’t had one in years and they’ve pretty much given up writing to me. The BBC only menaces single mothers, the unemployed, the poor, those without the metal to stand up for themselves.

  • Alternatively Euan you could buy a Tivo, and watch TV advert free.

  • klu01dbt

    Euan have you watched the BBC recently. It may not show commerical advertising but it does nothing but advertise itself. I would rather sit through 5 minutes of shampoo and food commercials than 5 minutes of self satisfied self promotion.

  • walter

    Interesting blog and one that I was reading daily, that is until this post. Whenever I see an entire group labeled “pro-Islamofascists”*, its certainly time to move on. Next.

    *A seriously flawed and idiotitc term that bears no relation to the true goals and ideology of (death) perpetuated by the likes of al qaeda, who are neither islamic or fascists. Al qaeda and its ilk are certainly more National Socialist than Fascist, but calling them Nazis isn’t so satisfying. So, if your so smart, why not come up with a term truly reflective of their ideology and nature.

  • Verity

    Euan – If the BBC were dismantled and its bits made commercial, it would no more be supported by general taxation than is Sky. This is the point we have been making on this blog for a long time. It would have be produce programmes that attracted viewers in sufficient numbers to attract advertisers. It would have to have news programmes that were reputable enough to attract sponsors. This is how broadcasting works in the free market.

  • Tim Sturm

    And when the licence fee is abolished, you’ll all be forced to pay for them through general taxation.

    Euan, ever the pragmatist. Yes, you are factually correct, this is precisely what would happen (and is, in fact, exactly what happened in NZ after some hardy souls stood up to the licence fee in that country).

    But why don’t you, for just once in your life, say what you actually *want* to happen instead of trying to drain the life out of everyone with your long-winded, boring pragmatism.

  • snide

    Because the space between Euan’s ears is an ideology, phosophy and morality free zone

  • What are they striking about?

    Is there a way to keep them annoyed and away longer?

  • Alan

    I neither own nor want to own a TV. But I think John Ellis’ point is valid – the BBC is pretty good value for money.

    If you don’t own a TV, then how on earth do you know that the BBC is “pretty good value for money”? I presume you either watch it at someone elses house or spend many hours in the TV section of Dixon’s or Curry’s.

    Of course it is biased and slanted but so is Sky, just in the other direction.

    It has long been the proud boast of the BBC that it is impartial in it’s reporting of the news. There was a time when that was possibly true. My own impression of Sky News is that it is slightly more balanced in it’s news coverage compared to the BBC. Yes, it does have a bias but it doesn’t pretend to be impartial.

    And Sky’s a lot more expensive.

    So? There’s this thing called a market. If people don’t like what they’re getting for their money, they’ll stop paying and go elsewhere for their goods.

    Most people who have a TV… will watch BBC at some point, and probably quite a lot. If they want to do that, let them pay. If they want to watch Sky, let them pay. Abolishing the licence fee doesn’t mean you won’t pay, it just means you’ll pay in another way – and it means people like me will have to pay through general taxation for TV services we do not now use or pay for. The only people it would benefit would be those who never, ever watch any BBC production or programme at any time under any circumstances. I don’t imagine there are very many of them.

    Your argument that general taxation would pay for the BBC assumes that the government should be involved in the broadcasting of news and providing entertainment in the form of comedy shows, quiz shows, games shows where people can win money, documentaries, sports coverage, religious programmes, special interst programmes, art programmes, yadda yadda, yadda. Do you really think this is the role of government? The government doesn’t spend tax money on producing a rival to the Daily Mirror or Hello! magazine so why would it pour money into a TV channel. Or perhaps I should ask, why should it?

    The alternative is to make the BBC commercial. Given the usual British complete lack of imagination or innovative thinking, this would be done by advertising as it currently is on the commercial channels.

    Not necessarily true. Commercial advertising already takes place on one BBC channel – BBC World (via satellite). These are usually glossy and very expensive looking adverts for American Express, IBM and other big corporations. A nice little money earner for the Beeb I’m sure. And don’t forget that the BBC sells a lot of its programmes and services around the world to other broadcasters and has a busy sideline selling merchandise such as videos, books, DVDs, Tapes, CDs, etc. With a bit of effort, they could ramp up their marketing, lower overheads by cutting staff and probably survive on the open market.

    One of the pleasant features of the BBC is its lack of advertising. When I did have a TV, I must admit I did prefer to watch a film or documentary on BBC without the annoying distraction of commercials.

    But there are satellite channels where you can watch films without adverts for soft drinks and soap. As an example, Canal Digital, which has 3-4 channels offering a wide variety of films 24/7 with no breaks in the middle for adverts. Channels such as Discovery, National Geographic, Animal Planet etc. show a wide variety of documentary programmes with minimal advertising (usually a 30 second break half way through announcing upcoming programmes). Commercialisation doesn’t necessarily mean tacky adverts for breakfast cereals, chewing gum, tampons or coffee every 15 minutes.

    The BBC is not a monopoly provider of anything. You have a choice, you don’t need to watch it.

    But we don’t have a choice when it comes to paying for it.

    However, as long as it remains non-commercial you will have to pay for it one way or another. I suspect that commercialising it would be an example of not appreciating the merits of something until it is gone.

    A bit like Rover cars eh?

  • dearieme

    “5 minutes of self satisfied self promotion”: ah, but have you seen the ad where the girl in the red skirt dances with the most extraordinary grace?

    Anyway, lets hope that their strike doesn’t stop the broadcasting of the Cup Final. I like to see Reds losing.

  • zmollusc

    If you want to make a stand against the telly licence, why not replace that old Decca with a nice big modern LCD flat screen and run it off a PC? That should take a bit of detecting . Then you can feel all rebellious and save ££££s too.

  • I find it incredible that anyone here could seriously support the license fee method of funding, or the general taxation method. It should be obvious to anyone calling themselves “libertarian” that funding must be commercial or subscription-based…. or funded on some other voluntary basis.

    Unfortunately the government KNOW that people would not shell out the same level of funding if it were voluntary…. that’s why they’ve committed to funding it by force through an act of law for at least the next ten years (see the post here).

    Worse: the people just

  • Winzeler

    Walter, if you’re going to show up and cut at this blog on semantic grounds, you better be flawless in your approach.

    Who said Perry was talking about al qaeda, when he said pro-islamofascist? He was talking about Islam, which is indeed at least mostly (if not, full-blown) fascist. Ergo, you made an emotional reaction and tried to rationalize it with deceptive, semantic arguments. Nice try. By the way (while we’re on the subject of semantics), it should say “neither Islamic nor fascist” and “if you’re so smart.”

    Come to think of it, why don’t you go ahead and stop using this blog, it’s bandwidth, and its readers time. We prefer intellectual discourse, not emotional, knee-jerk reactions.

  • Julian Morrison

    If your TV, like mine, is not set up to receive broadcasts, then you can already legally forgo the BBC tax. I recommend amazon.co.uk’s DVD rental as an alternative means of getting many good films and interesting documentaries.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    As a non-Brit, can someone please explain how these licence fees are levied? Do BBC minions drive around in vans checking for objects that draw TV signals? Or do you have to fill out some form when you buy a television? Or check a box on your tax return? How bizarre. What happens if you don’t pay your licence fee, or you lie about not having a television? Does a group of masked men bash your door down and repossess your television? What’s the rough percentage of people who avoid or refuse to pay the licence fee, but still have their TV?

    Where I come from, our state-owned (TV & radio) broadcaster is funded straight out of consolidated revenue. I reckon about 20-30% of the population would consume its products regularly. Ideologically speaking, it’s probably somewhat to the left of the BBC. And it buys a crapload of BBC content. 🙂

  • GCooper

    Surely it’s significant that when the comrades at the BBC go on strike, all they cut is sporting output?

    They’d hardly want to stem the flow of R4 plays about illegal immigrant single mothers, ‘You And Yours’, Woman’s Hour, or Arts programming about Islamic dance workshops, would they?

    And God forbid that anything should be allowed to interrupt the effluent it dispenses by way of Left-wing and EU-biased political coverage!

  • zmollusc

    Surely sports coverage is as effluentisticacious as plays about disabled illegal immigrant single mothers founding Islamic dance workshops?

  • I’m Suffering: You’re pretty much right on all counts. The BBC hire a private company to drive around in vans harassing people. Mostly, though, they just send threatening letters. They do this whether or not you own a TV because they can’t bring themselves to believe that people exist who don’t watch TV.

    You’re supposed to buy a license if you can receive TV signals, which you can do once a year at the Post Office or online. Whenever you buy something that can receive TV signals the shop you bought it from is required to register the sale with your name and address so they can make sure you’re on the database. In theory there is equipment that can detect a working TV from the emmissions of the IF stage in the receiver, but there is some doubt as to whether these really exist.

    For more information, have a look at tvlicencing.biz.

  • I’m Suffering FMA

    Try a visit to Abolish the TV licence for an understanding of the heavy handed methods used to enforce the licence fee and what is being done to resist. The site forum is particularly informative.

    There are apparently some interesting developments on the way regarding a possible loophole in the law regarding whether streamed content counts as broadcast.

  • Surely sports coverage is as effluentisticacious as plays about disabled illegal immigrant single mothers founding Islamic dance workshops?

    Since sports do not peddle an obnoxious and destructive political ideology, I would have to say no.

  • GCooper

    R C Dean writes:

    “Since sports do not peddle an obnoxious and destructive political ideology, I would have to say no.”

    Obviously, I agree.

    But then again… the more I’ve played around with this all day, the more I’ve started to toy with the idea that there could even be a subliminal factor at work. I mean, don’t sports promote excellence, achievement and rampant “elitism”?

    As someone who doesn’t so much dislike sport as despise it, I can’t claim any special insight. But who’d put anything beyond those “journalists” at the BBC?

  • dmick

    “In theory there is equipment that can detect a working TV from the emmissions of the IF stage in the receiver, but there is some doubt as to whether these really exist.

    – aquaintainces who work at the BBC tell me the licence detector vans are a figment of the popular imagination, enforcement relying on heavy handed tacics on lists of unlicenced addresses

  • earwaxx

    what the hell does effluentisticacious mean and where do you get off using that language here?

  • I'm suffering for my art

    That’s an incredible system! I simply can’t believe they’d enact something so dunderheaded. There must be millions of people who dodge the licence fee, and policing said fee must be ridiculously, wastefully expensive.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Just reading the website that Bishop Hill provided above – thanks – it states that 12% (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) of cases in front of magistrates are brought by BBC prosecutors! OMFG. I understand that people object to paying for the BBC out of their tax dollars (pounds). However, surely it would be less expensive to abolish the licencing system, and get the govt to pay for the BBC with the money saved from reduced judicial and administration costs? Overall, the adjustment would probably be pretty close to revenue neutral in terms of govt and save everyone the burden of paying the stupid licencing fee.

  • P

    What’s wrong with “moral relativism”?
    What are your “absolutes”?

  • Euan Gray

    But why don’t you, for just once in your life, say what you actually *want* to happen instead of trying to drain the life out of everyone with your long-winded, boring pragmatism.

    Because the world IS pragmatic. The vast majority of people are not ideological, and if one looks at the havoc ideology caused in the 20th century – perhaps the most ideological of all – one might be grateful for it.

    Pragmatism is the way the world and 99% of its people work. A pragmatic world-view will tend to give more accurate answers and predictions – I was right, for example, about the institution of centralised ID in the US, about the civil disobedience against the foxhunting ban in the UK, about the effect of UKIP on the British general election, and so on. An ideological world-view will give wrong answers, will misunderstand why things happen, and will make erroneous predictions.

    Yes, you are factually correct, this is precisely what would happen (and is, in fact, exactly what happened in NZ after some hardy souls stood up to the licence fee in that country).

    See what I mean? Perhaps you should not be so dismissive.

    EG

  • Pete_London

    suffering

    Yes, there are indeed many of us (whoops! those) who refuse to be extorted. As I said above, the BBC isn’t interested in chasing anyone who’ll stand up for themselves. Those people up in front of the magistrate will be the poor, the unemployed and unconfident. The BBC has sent many a single mother down for the crime of not having the state’s permission to own a TV.

  • Verity

    Suffering, the BBC’s not paid for (other than the World Service) out of ‘tax dollars’. You have to buy a licence to own a television set, as you have to buy a licence to run (although not own) a car.

    There are no administration costs to the BBC because they hire a full time collection agency to enforce the law for them. It’s a nasty outfit called Civitas, voted the most intrusive company in Britain. They target, as Pete_London notes, single welfare mothers, who probably left school around 15, workers at the bottom end of the pay scale, and the unemployed. These people are soft targets and easily bullied by “officials” quoting Acts and so on. Educated people are amused by the appalling grammar, poor construction and socialist assumptions included in these demand letters. Oh, and they throw them away. The people I’ve mentioned above are frightened by them.

    It’s sickening not just because they target the weak, but they are prepared to take a mother away to prison and have the children put into care. Not that I have the vaguest sympathy for single welfare mothers, but usually, the TV is the only means she has for keeping her children entertained and in the home, not out on the streets.

    But it’s even worse than this, as well-known English journalist Jonathan Miller found out when he decided to have a go. He defied them all the way up to his preliminary hearing in a magistrate’s court – in other words, the bottom rung of the court system – and the bullying BBC sent SIX BARRISTERS to the hearing. This was just the low key hearing to determine if there was a case to answer. How much does it cost to retain eight barristers to attend a preliminary hearing of a trivial matter? (For Americans, normally one solicitor would do fine.) That is when Miller realised that their pockets aren’t just deep – they’re bottomless, and no individual can afford to fight them. The bunch of loony fascists are going to win no matter what it takes. Miller’s case was very high profile, and he was writing about it, but nevertheless, it shows you the reckless lengths they are prepared to go to to protect their position.

  • Verity

    Sorry for the misprint. The correct number of barristers was six.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Verity –

    Yeah, I now know the BBC isn’t paid for out of tax dollars. My point was; maybe it should be. Imagine the court costs involved in hearing the cases of all those single mothers, elderly etc. I was speculating that the savings here would go a long way towards paying for the BBC. By the way you and others are describing it, the licencing system seems wildly inefficient, as well as somewhat sinister.

  • Euan Gray

    Educated people are amused by the appalling grammar, poor construction and socialist assumptions included in these demand letters

    Hardly unique to Civitas or the BBC, though. Many letters sent by private organisations are full of atrocious grammar. The spelling is generally correct, thanks to the ubiquity of spell-checkers, but often the wrong homophones are used and the whole is liberally scattered with extraneous apostrophes and commas.

    Incidentally, could you give some examples of the “socialist assumptions” included in the letters?

    EG

  • Sylvain Galineau

    The vast majority of the world is non-ideological ?

    Says who ? Measured how ? Proven when ?

  • Verity

    Euan Gray – Incidentally, could you give some examples of the “socialist assumptions” included in the letters?

    Not me, babe! I’m not getting into a lengthy, turgid, nit-picky discussion with you and I’m not giving you ammunition.

  • Euan Gray

    Not me, babe! I’m not getting into a lengthy, turgid, nit-picky discussion with you and I’m not giving you ammunition

    Which, unless you actually provide evidence of the existence of this stuff, I will take as a concession that your use of the phrase was pure hyperbole.

    EG

  • Euan Gray

    Nope.

    You’re called on your assertion and unless you can put up in response it will be treated as hyperbole (at best). Not having a TV, I have several disbelieving letters from the relevant people on the subject and I can’t detect any “socialist assumptions” therein.

    Says who ? Measured how ? Proven when ?

    Show me how to prove a negative.

    EG

  • Verity

    La la la la la la la la. I can’t hear you ….

  • speedwell

    “…I will take as a concession…”

    Euan, you moron, that has as little class as when my ex-boyfriend used to eat pickled garlic, fail to brush his teeth, and then claim I was cheating on him because I would pull away when he tried to deep kiss me.

  • Pete_London

    Verity

    I think you were having one of those ‘just one coffee so far today’ moments. You’ll be aware that Crapita is the outfit which is employed to fleece us of money in exchange for permission to own a TV. It’s the same Crapita which has made a fortune from the taxpayer via a string government contracts, most of which seem to have failed in one way or another.

    suffering

    Click here and scroll down a little to the bottom for an example of a letter. There are many variations on the theme and most have ended up in my bin at one time or another. If you move your curser onto the text a fuller explanation will appear. This is the British state swinging into action when you buy a TV without its permission.

  • Verity

    Pete_London – I stand corrected! Oh, the shame of getting the name of the BBC’s collection agency wrong! Shows that I never kept any of their letters around long enough for their name to actually enter my consciousness …

    Good stuff from that link to Jonathan Miller!

  • The Happy Rampager

    Because the space between Euan’s ears is an ideology, phosophy and morality free zone

    Interesting how you failed to reply to this, Euan. Shall we take that as a confirmation(not concession) that you are an amoral, silver-tongued yet effectively moronic windbag?

    This notion of yours that ‘Pragmatism is the way the world and 99% of its people work’ is flawed – if people really were as ‘pragmatic’ to the exclusion of all else as you seem to think, then you would never see, for example, people sending massive amounts of aid to the victims of the tsunami in SE Asia. After all, it is hardly ‘pragmatic’ to give generously to people caught up in that kind of disaster.

    So contrary to your beliefs, ‘pragmatism’ is not the be-all and end-all for the majority of people. And where did you get this 99% figure anyway? Don’t tell me, you pulled it from out of your backside. Along with your ‘pragmatism vs ideological’ false dichotomy. Since you have no morals, or even philosophy, of your own, you fail to comprehend how morality/philosophical convictions influence the attitudes of others.

    Incidentally, did you make any donations to the disaster victims?

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Speedwell, Happy Rampager :

    Whoa. Okay, Euan has a – shall we say – marathon debating style. And his beliefs don’t exactly sit well with the zeitgeist of this blog. However, I rarely see him stray from civility, and perhaps things are getting a little too personal.

  • Daveon

    Returning, as I am, from yet another US trip I am looking forward to watching Doctor Who and a bunch of BBC TV. If the alternative is what the US has then I’m fine with the £120 a year I spend on my TV license thanks.

    Yes, it’s sub-optimal, but would I rather the money came straight from government? Certainly not.

    Euan is quite correct, it is pretty good value for money.

  • GCooper

    Daveon writes:

    “Euan is quite correct, it is pretty good value for money.”

    Which entirely misses the point. It is a tax imposed by government which pays for ideological indoctrination on a grand scale.

    If you and the egregious Mr Gray enjoy that sort of thing, then fine – pay your fee. But I’m damned if I can see why anyone else should have to.

  • Verity

    G Cooper – is correct.

    Euan Gray’s idea of what is good broadcast value for money is his own affair. No one would deny him his right to purchase a product he likes.

    The trick here is, he shouldn’t be trying to impose his own notions of value for money on others who may think the BBC’s stream of Gramscian propaganda, paid for by compulsion, is an abuse of their human right of free choice.

    Being compelled by law to finance plays and programmes presenting illegal immigrants in a positive light (illegal means CRIMINAL), sneering dismissal of conservative values and British history as garbage, and heart-rending stories about the conflict of GPs fretting about prescribing birth control pills for 10-yr-olds, is an abuse of the human rights of people who don’t want to pay for the availability of this content.

    I wouldn’t pay to go and see a West End performance, “Muslim Lesbians – The Musical” and there is no moral imperium for my paying for its production on television for it to be available to others. I’m indifferent about whether or not it gets produced by people who wish to finance it. But people who want it, and Jeremy Paxman sneering charismatically and Matt Would-You-Like-Freis-with-That while I Sneer at America? and Orla Guerrin and Stephen Sackur’s and his ‘My Homecoming to A Foreign Country’ (he’d only been gone since ’95 for Chrissake), “thoughtful” essays, Celtic droning by Fergal Keene, and twisted news reports should not be underwritten by me for the satisfaction of viewers/listeners who like this sort of thing.

  • Euan Gray

    Interesting how you failed to reply to this, Euan

    In fact, you will see if you care to read what I have posted that I have quite clearly stated my view of ideology. It is not a good thing, and in the past 100 years has led to the deaths of millions and the suffering of tens of millions more.

    I am well aware, for example, that private sector management is usually more efficient than state sector management. Taking this as an article of ideological faith and attempting to apply it to everything is fundamentally mistaken, because it’s often just a question of scale. Anyone who has worked in a large private corporation will be well aware that they are inefficient at managing things, and that when that corporation is in a position of market dominance the inefficiency, sloth and incompetence only grows. Real world experience, therefore, shows that simply privatising things is not the answer. The answer is to keep things small and competitive, but of course this is not always sensible or practical – for example, it’s hard to have a true competitive free market in say sewage disposal, water supply or local roads. Taking an ideological position on this is, IMO, a mistake, and the best way is to find the least bad pragmatic solution. Sometimes that is private, sometimes state, sometimes a mixture.

    Fuerthermore, taking an ideological view of everything leads to distortion, bombast and hyperbole – witness Verity’s seeing “socialist assumptions” in letters which do no more than inform people of their obligation to obey statute law. One also sees things like blindness to reality when it conflicts with ideological theory. A recent example here was the differential crime rates in the armed US versus the unarmed UK, where ideology says the UK would be more violent but the actual real-world data shows the opposite is the case. Ideology gets in the way of properly assessing the situation because one views the world through a distorting lens of socio-political preconceptions.

    I’m quite happy to be ideology-free. I take the world as it comes, not as I think it ought to be.

    After all, it is hardly ‘pragmatic’ to give generously to people caught up in that kind of disaster.

    Yes, it is. You want them to recover so they can buy your products and you can buy theirs, don’t you? You want them to recover because there is little gain for humanity in a net increase of poverty and illness. You want them to recover because if you help someone when they fall down then later they are more likely to help you when you fall down.

    It would be ideological to say “bugger off, look after yourself” and give nothing. It would be ideological to say “we help you because God/the UN/the EU/insert-deity-of-choice commands us to” and pony up the cash.

    Since you have no morals, or even philosophy, of your own, you fail to comprehend how morality/philosophical convictions influence the attitudes of others.

    I do have morals and philosophy of my own. I do understand perfectly well how these things influence others. However, I do not expect the world to bend around my will or my desires nor do I think it sensible to expect it to bend around the desires of any other individual or small group. A pragmatic view of summum bonum is generally more useful and productive.

    Euan has a – shall we say – marathon debating style. And his beliefs don’t exactly sit well with the zeitgeist of this blog

    The former follows from the latter. I believe the commentators here have genuinely held beliefs but I consider many (not all by any means) them to be variously simplistic, naive or plain wrong – usually due to ideological distortion of the world-view. I try to present an alternative view which I like to think is grounded more in reality than ideological theory, and I try to do it politely in the interests of furthering the understanding of both sides. Since my view is often somewhat different, I believe this needs explanation, and I believe also that the more egregious ideological views sometimes call for detailed analysis (and sometimes demolition). I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I do accept that there are aspects of a libertarian view which are useful in considering a sensible way forward – but equally, any sensible way forward must accept reality.

    EG

  • As ‘suffering’ said, folks, a bit less overt personal hostility if you please.

  • In fact, you will see if you care to read what I have posted that I have quite clearly stated my view of ideology. It is not a good thing, and in the past 100 years has led to the deaths of millions and the suffering of tens of millions more.

    Actually it is people’s willingness to pragmatically acquiess to ideologically motivated tyrants which really enables millions of deaths. After all, when a Hitler or Stalin takes power, most people just shrug their shoulders and take the pragmatic decision “Oh well, that’s just the way the world works”.

  • Euan Gray

    Actually it is people’s willingness to pragmatically acquiess to ideologically motivated tyrants which really enables millions of deaths

    But if ideology was discouraged, or rather if a pragmatic view was encouraged, you wouldn’t get the ideologically motivated tyrants, would you? Your arguments seems little like saying drugs don’t harm, it’s the misuse of them by the addict that is the problem. In the same way, of course, and closer to home, one might say that guns don’t kill – it is the knuckle-dragger’s finger on the trigger that kills. I think the argument is a bit weaselly.

    EG

  • The Happy Rampager

    In fact, you will see if you care to read what I have posted that I have quite clearly stated my view of ideology.

    But the comment did not concern ideology exclusively. It also mentioned the strange concepts of morality and philosophy. Since you read it, why are you continuing to argue that it is solely a matter of ideology vs. anti-ideology(which you call ‘pragmatism)? Because it makes it easier for you to paint the non-pragmatic as hysterical, ignorant loons(as in your personal attacks on Verity)?

    (It is hardly pragmatic) Yes, it is. You want them to recover so they can buy your products and you can buy theirs, don’t you?

    Do you expect 99% of people to think along these lines, that they should send aid because it would be a real boon for trade agreements? Your efforts to defend your assertion that people act pragmatically and not morally are getting a wee bit far-fetched.

    Of course, it is nice to believe that 99% of people agree with you. I see an adherence to pragmatism doesn’t save one from coming out with completely asinine statements.

    You want them to recover because there is little gain for humanity in a net increase of poverty and illness. You want them to recover because if you help someone when they fall down then later they are more likely to help you when you fall down.

    Just because you can come up with justifications for a pragmatist outlook does not mean that the people who sent aid were thinking along pragmatic and not moral lines. I’d wager that the attitude, ‘we should help because it is wrong to leave people to twist in the wind’ was more widely held than you imagine. (Of course, I wouldn’t say that 99% of people thought that way)

    It would be ideological to say…

    Why are you still peddling this ‘Pragmatism’ vs ‘Ideology’ false dichotomy? Answer, because it fits in with your preferred debating style, which boils down to ‘Words(like ideology) mean what I want them to mean’,

    It would be ideological to say “bugger off, look after yourself” and give nothing.

    No, it would not be ideological at all. It would be highly pragmatic – conservation of one’s own resources and all that. Of course, I fully expect you to disagree, as not to do so would contradict everything you’ve said about pragmatism.

    I do have morals and philosophy of my own.

    Which is evidenced by your absolute refusal to assess matters according to whether they have anything to do with morality or even a viable philosophy, and your hysterical attitude that to do so is one step away from wrong-headed ideology which will lead us all toward disaster. Really, what do your morals consist of?

    I do understand perfectly well how these things influence others.

    Which is why you are trying to make a case that people are more influenced by pragmatic considerations then by their own conscience(and I can’t imagine you understanding that morality has more to do with conscience than pragmatism).

    I wonder why you feel the need to assure us that you have morals after all, when you’ve just put all that effort into telling us that morality is bunk and people don’t, and shouldn’t, even regard it as particularly important.

  • The Happy Rampager

    In the same way, of course, and closer to home, one might say that guns don’t kill – it is the knuckle-dragger’s finger on the trigger that kills. I think the argument is a bit weaselly.

    I’d like to see gun haters try to make the case that it’s not the person’s usage of guns that kills. Really, what can they do? Scoff at the truth that people kill people? Of course, they do so anyway, and it just shows how unrealistic the arguments gun haters rely on are. It’s a miracle they don’t get laughed at everywhere they go.

    ‘Weaselly’, good choice of words. However, it applies more to the sort of person who wants to absolve people of the responsibility of not wanting to hurt others, in favour of an approach based on trying to make it impossible to do so anyway. So they don’t actually care about people who want to cause harm – but they will (mis)use ridicule and stigma against anyone who objects that ignoring motivation is not the best way to deal with crime and criminals.

  • Euan Gray

    But the comment did not concern ideology exclusively

    So? I addressed the question of ideology. I have also addressed the questions of morality and philosophy, or rather the assertion that I don’t have any. Any person reading my comments over time – as the poster has, I know – will be aware that I do in fact have a distinct moral and philosophical point of view. The fact that they are not the same as his or yours does not invalidate them.

    as in your personal attacks on Verity

    I made no personal attack on Verity. She made a positive assertion and I called her on it. She refused to back up her assertion and, since I have letters from the same organisation she was criticising, I understand why – the thing she was asserting does not, in fact, exist. Her comment was, therefore, hyperbolic.

    Do you expect 99% of people to think along these lines, that they should send aid because it would be a real boon for trade agreements?

    It is one of many reasons – as you would see if you considered the whole paragraph. I did not assert what you are trying to imply I asserted.

    It is generally considered that, on a biological level, much human activity is governed by what one might call enlightened self-interest. There are perfectly good reasons at a species level for altruism and a collective view in some circumstances, and a more personally selfish view in others. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that a pragmatic explanation (i.e. the way things really do work) for altruistic behaviour in the context of natural disaster is based on species level elightened self-interest since such behaviour increases the prospects of survival for the human genome – which is basically the meaning of life, when you get down to it. It’s not a conscious process.

    However, you disagree and say giving in this case is not pragmatic. What is your explanation for it, then?

    Just because you can come up with justifications for a pragmatist outlook does not mean that the people who sent aid were thinking along pragmatic and not moral lines

    Nor does it mean they were not. In fact, they probably didn’t think too much about it at all – it’s more of an unconscious response. Do you rationalise deeply before you put money in a charity tin?

    your preferred debating style, which boils down to ‘Words(like ideology) mean what I want them to mean’

    I suggest you look up “pragmatism” and “ideology” in a dictionary.

    It would be highly pragmatic – conservation of one’s own resources and all that

    If pragmatism meant utter selfishness, you would be correct. However, it doesn’t mean that at all, so you’re wrong.

    Which is evidenced by your absolute refusal to assess matters according to whether they have anything to do with morality or even a viable philosophy

    I have in fact discussed morality before on this blog. I have no problem in discussing it, and I do have a moral view on many things. Ditto for a philosophical view. You have but to ask.

    and I can’t imagine you understanding that morality has more to do with conscience than pragmatism

    Now we’re getting philsophical.

    So what is conscience? Why do we have “moral” urges? What, for that matter, is pragmatism if you wish to set it in opposition to conscience? Is such opposition meaningful?

    Let’s define conscience as a set of moral imperatives that govern our understanding of how we feel we ought to behave, which is of course not necessarily how we do behave. In particular, it urges us to sacrifice some part of ourselves or our selfish good for the benefit of others. In this specific context, I leave out consideration of personal morality where our actions have no impact on non-consenting others (e.g. sexual morality). Further, I’m not considering it as conscious self-awareness. This seems to me to be an uncontentious definition for the purposes of this discussion.

    So, where does this conscience come from? Is it external – something we learn from religious or secular philosophy? Is it something granted by God that we don’t need to learn? If you take a religious view of the world, this is as far as the question can be answered.

    However, if you take an entirely non-religious view and consider humanity as no more than the most advanced great ape, and further if you consider the behaviour of other social animals such as other great apes, certain whales, or wolves, even some species of social insects, you will see that conscience – or a self-sacrificing behaviour – is by no means unique to man. Indeed, it seems to be a hard-wired part of the programming of all social animals. Many examples could be given, but suffice it to say that other social animals also give of themselves for the common good. This makes sense.

    One could simplify a little and suggest there are two survival strategies for a species – selfish individualism or cooperation. The purpose is always the same, which is to say propagation of the species’ DNA – the meaning of life is, basically, sex. Social animals cooperate, sometimes sacrificing individual good for collective good. Solitary animals don’t do this.

    So, given that conscience in this sense is not something unique to man, one might say that the giving of aid to tsunami victims can be pragmatically explained as an evolved response to a threat to the survival of the species. This only appears odd because we as a species can significantly alter our environment, which others can’t, and therefore we tend to lose sight of the biological imperatives that drive us. However, all of this is an unconscious process and we don’t logically analyse the prospects of survival as a species when we put some cash in a tin. But that’s basically why we put the cash in the tin.

    you’ve just put all that effort into telling us that morality is bunk and people don’t, and shouldn’t, even regard it as particularly important

    Perhaps you could point out where I said that? I do happen to think morality is important, and have said so elsewhere on this blog in the past. More than once.

    EG

  • Euan Gray

    I’d like to see gun haters try to make the case that it’s not the person’s usage of guns that kills

    I don’t think they do. Pro and anti lobbies both make the point that it is the man behind the trigger that kills. The anti lobby basically says that in this case steps should be taken to control the types of finger on the trigger and/or just what that finger can do, not least because the ready availability of guns makes it easier for people to do harm by means of guns. The pro lobby basically says no such steps need to be taken at all, or that only very limited steps are needed.

    Really, what can they do? Scoff at the truth that people kill people?

    I think the general point is to try and reduce the incidence of people killing people.

    So they don’t actually care about people who want to cause harm

    No, some of them don’t, I quite agree. On the other hand, many do actually care more about the people who are harmed than those who would do the harming. They consider that the right of people not to be murdered is more important than the right of other people to have free access to a convenient means of murdering people, which in turn, they say, means that those who want to murder can more readily lay hands on the easy means of doing so.

    EG

  • Sylvain Galineau

    Show me how to prove a negative.
    You flatly stated your overall position – ‘pragmatism’, as opposed to ‘ideology’ – to be that of the ‘vast majority’. How is that a negative ? Either you can back up your claim or you cannot. What could be so hard about proving something that is supposedly true of a ‘vast majority’ ?

    Ironically, such claims – “most people agree with me !” – are inherently, if not pathologically, ideological.

    No need to get into another long-winded, pompous, pedantic, presumptuous, pretentious, prating, pontificatory series of pseudo-intellectual, posturing, ponderously patronizing polemics.

    I just ran out of p-words.

  • The Happy Rampager

    I don’t think they do. Pro and anti lobbies both make the point that it is the man behind the trigger that kills.

    No, pro-gun lobbyists do, and anti-gun lobyists mock them for it – as do you.

    one might say that guns don’t kill – it is the knuckle-dragger’s finger on the trigger that kills. I think the argument is a bit weaselly.

    They consider that the right of people not to be murdered is more important than the right of other people to have free access to a convenient means of murdering people, which in turn, they say, means that those who want to murder can more readily lay hands on the easy means of doing so.

    You ignore that many, many people own guns for the express purpose of ensuring their right not to be murdered is not jeopardized. And how do the anti-gun fanatics respond? Do they respect such a desire as genuine? No, they deride and stigmatise such people as being paranoid, ignorant, and aggressive.

    They certainly don’t seem to regard one’s wish to not be murdered as valid if one actually takes action to make sure that they won’t be. Which gives the impression that preservation of life is not that important to these people after all.

    P.S. I would have replied to your other post, if a)It hadn’t been unnecessarily lengthy, and b) if you hadn’t fallen into your habit of trying to say you didn’t actually say what we can all see you did.

  • snide

    But if ideology was discouraged, or rather if a pragmatic view was encouraged, you wouldn’t get the ideologically motivated tyrants, would you?
    […]
    I think the argument is a bit weaselly.

    Oh, I see, you are ideological after all… you are one of those utilitarians. In fact your views lead to such things as “killing the jews may be distasteful and icky but it will mean that whole distracting ‘jewish issue’ goes away and we can get those daft Nazis to concentrate on what really matters, you know, making the trains run on time and skoolzandhospitalz…”.

    That is where utilitarianism really gets you in the end. Pragmatism is just a euphamism for having no moral underpinning (or more usually, abandoning them for pragmatic reasons).

  • snide

    Even if it were voluntary, I would rather buy the BBC’s service for that price, than Murdoch’s pro-war, neo-conservative, globalistic-monopolistic-corporate alternative for £40 a month….

    Excellent John, then I assume you will join us in trying the make the licence fee voluntary and as soon as that happens, you will happily plonk your £126 down per year for a subscription version of the BBC, content in the fact others who do not want to will be spending their money elsewhere.

  • Euan Gray

    You flatly stated your overall position – ‘pragmatism’, as opposed to ‘ideology’ – to be that of the ‘vast majority’. How is that a negative ?

    Actually, I said the majority of people were not ideological, which is a negative.

    However:

    How many people are actively interested in politics or economics beyond what directly and immediately affects them? Very few. How many people are paid-up members of political parties (in states where party membership is a purely voluntary thing)? Very few. How many people get greatly exercised over abstract debates on how to fund the NHS or welfare, or how schools should be paid for? Not many, especially provided they aren’t asked to write a personal cheque for the fees. How easy is it to engage the average punter in a discussion on the competing theories of economic, social or political organisation? Not very. How many people refuse to send their children to private school, even if they can afford the fees, on grounds of ideological opposition to the concept? Not many. How many send their children to private school NOT because of ideology, but because it will provide a sound education? An ever-increasing number. On the other hand, how many people more or less agree that whoever you vote for the government always gets in and it doesn’t make a lot of difference?

    Most people most of the time really don’t care. They aren’t ideological except for 30 seconds in a voting booth once every few years – and even then, it’s often gut feeling than ideological analysis. Provided they get more or less what they want, they seem to think the government and the parties can do or say whatever they like. To me, that’s pretty much the definition of not being ideological.

    You ignore that many, many people own guns for the express purpose of ensuring their right not to be murdered is not jeopardized

    Yes, but you ignore the fact that this doesn’t actually work. Witness the four times higher murder rate in the armed US versus the unarmed UK.

    I would have replied to your other post, if a)It hadn’t been unnecessarily lengthy, and b) if you hadn’t fallen into your habit of trying to say you didn’t actually say what we can all see you did.

    I’d believe that if (a) you could point out where I contradicted myself and (b) you hadn’t previously been demolished in argument with me in another thread after using the same “tactics” you’ve tried to use here.

    EG

  • Sylvain Galineau

    Saying that people are not something is the same as claiming they are its opposite, by definition. Your choosing the negative form of the statement is purely arbitrary and therefore cannot prove or disprove anything. You are evading. Lamely.

    Second, making more vacuous claims about ‘most people’ – as if you knew most people – adds no substance to your assertion whatsoever.

    Third, inability to measure the ideological motives behind collective or individual choices does not prove in any way their absence or the priority of said motives. You are speculating. Lamely.

    Fourth, are people non-ideological by mere virtue of showing the merest bit of pragmatism in their daily lives ? Does the flaming Marxist next door become ‘non-ideological’ as soon as he buys his apartment or a piece of land in the country, signaling a pragmatic acceptance of private property rights over principles of collective ownership ? Does one disprove the other ? Is one ideological only when one lives according to the exact canon of that ideology as perceived by others, always and everywhere ? By such an absolute definition, no one is ideological or will ever be, which makes the argument absurd in the first place.

    Lastly, given that there are a few billion people outside the UK’s borders and that a great deal of them do in fact live in very ideological cultures, you might want to qualify claims about ‘most people’ to that tiny subset which you are referring to.

    Anyway. I have to get back to the boringly pragmatic and non-ideological world where people get in line to pay three times the price for fair-trade coffee to assuage an irrational and fashionable guilt.

  • Daveon

    The problem is it isn’t anywhere near as easy in the _real world_ to say “let’s make the fee voluntry”. We have lots and lots of examples of commercial, “free”, market based television and it’s not pretty.

    I often wonder why Verity gets so wound about the BBC given that in Mexico I am sure she can avoid it and the license fee and leave those of us who actually _still_ live here to deal with it.

    The new series of Doctor Who alone is justifying it for this year 😉

  • Daveon: my you have low standards. If you get Satillite which is 1/3 the price of the licence fee you can get lots of far better shows from a myriad of channels. The new Dr Who is a mere shadow of what it once was…

    The Beeb does not need the licence fee and could perfectly well operate on its own without its own tax. It makes a great deal of money from DVD/audio releases of its program as well as licencing its programs across the world.

  • Tim Sturm

    EG wrote:

    A pragmatic world-view will tend to give more accurate answers and predictions

    Absolute drivel. One can be ruthless about assessing the facts of a matter, but that doesn’t preclude one from expressing an opinion or emotion about the way things ought to be. The point is that not expressing such emotion in the face of an outright evil is a sure sign of moral deficiency.

    As an example, I submit that the “personal hostility” expressed against Mr Gray is entirely called for if one is to be true to oneself and one’s own moral standards, given that Mr Gray is so persistent in making his disgusting views known (and no matter how “politely” he puts them).

  • The Happy Rampager

    Yes, but you ignore the fact that this doesn’t actually work.

    Au contrare, it works beautifully. Go here and see for yourself.

    Witness the four times higher murder rate in the armed US versus the unarmed UK.

    A murder rate which we can thank the criminal gangbangers that infest the inner cities for, and which ordinary people like you and I have little to do with. So you have little excuse for holding them responsible, or making the claim that the behaviour of gangbangers means that we must keep other, unrelated, portions of society disarmed, as you would like.

    you hadn’t previously been demolished in argument with me in another thread after using the same “tactics” you’ve tried to use here.

    Wishful thinking and self-aggrandizement. By ‘demolished’ you mean ‘playing dumb and making the argument go round in circles until the other participant gets pissed off and quits’, And we’re seeing the full extent of your intellectual capabilities right here in this thread. The funniest thing is, you probably think you’re winning against everyone else too.

  • The Happy Rampager

    As an example, I submit that the “personal hostility” expressed against Mr Gray is entirely called for if one is to be true to oneself and one’s own moral standards, given that Mr Gray is so persistent in making his disgusting views known (and no matter how “politely” he puts them).

    Mr. Gray only posts here in order to rile people up and provoke personal hostility.

  • Euan Gray

    One can be ruthless about assessing the facts of a matter, but that doesn’t preclude one from expressing an opinion or emotion about the way things ought to be

    What I was getting at is WHY people have emotional responses to things like this.

    given that Mr Gray is so persistent in making his disgusting views known

    So what, exactly, was the point of view expressed that was so disgusting?

    Au contrare, it works beautifully. Go here and see for yourself

    Try looking at the overall crime statistics rather than a handful of specific cases. If you look at specific cases only, you can “prove” that seatbelts kill, government is wonderful, capitalists are environmental despoilers, communism works, and so on. Only by looking at the overall situation will you get a true picture.

    A murder rate which we can thank the criminal gangbangers that infest the inner cities for

    We have these in both Britain and in America. Why, then, is the murder rate in America four times that in the UK?

    that we must keep other, unrelated, portions of society disarmed, as you would like.

    I have said numerous times that I see NO reason to prevent law-abiding people owning guns. You know this, because I have also said it specifically to you. So please don’t pretend I oppose gun ownership. What I do oppose is flawed arguments like “gun ownership cuts crime” (it doesn’t).

    By ‘demolished’ you mean ‘playing dumb and making the argument go round in circles until the other participant gets pissed off and quits’

    No, I mean: pointing out where you state that I assert something when I plainly didn’t; asking you questions which you then ignored; repeatedly and ultimately in vain asking you to explain what your specific point was; and objecting to your personal insults and attacks.

    EG

  • Tim Sturm

    People have emotional responses to the licence fee because it is so blatantly immoral to extort money off people for owning a television. What is disgusting is your conscious effort to dim the righteous “fire in the belly” that people feel by attempting to deflect every single issue into one of mere pragmatism.

    The same goes with your “long-winded, turgid, nit-picky” style, as it was rightly called. Form truly follows function in your case.

  • Euan Gray

    it is so blatantly immoral to extort money off people for owning a television

    Its payment in return for access to BBC TV productions, which is hardly immoral. I would, though, accept the morality argument if I was persuaded that there were large numbers of people who owned TV sets but absolutely never ever watched the BBC. Whilst I’m sure such people do exist, I suspect the number would be very small indeed.

    The fact remains that the BBC – if we are to have it – needs to be paid for somehow. As I see it the options to the licence fee are funding through general taxation, advertising, subscription or some mixture of all three. I’d prefer not to have the advertising option, since it does in the real world tend to lower quality. Subscription or tax funding are the most likely, I think, probably with subscription most favoured.

    What is disgusting is your conscious effort to dim the righteous “fire in the belly” that people feel by attempting to deflect every single issue into one of mere pragmatism

    So I refuse to have my stomach ignited by dogmatic bombast, and that’s disgusting?

    It will be objected that people shouldn’t have to pay for something they don’t want, and that’s fair enough as far as it goes. Doubtless it will also be objected that it hurts the poor. Then again, if people want to watch TV and it is in every case pay-only-for-what-you-watch, it is still the case that the BBC at licence rates would be the cheapest way of getting to watch TV.

    I fail to see any cause for thoracic combustion. Still less do I see any reason for considering a reasoned dissenting opinion disgusting.

    The same goes with your “long-winded, turgid, nit-picky” style, as it was rightly called

    When libertarians post here, they’re preaching to the choir and can thus get away with simplistic posts regurgitating the litany. I can’t, because I’m coming from a rather different point of view. Hence a degree of long-windedness & possibly turgidity as I try to explain my points and get past the “state bad, private good, nuff sed” mentality. I pick nits when I counter arguments that I see as naive or wrong, and I’m as likely to do it against socialists as against libertarians. I would add that relatively few libertarians seem to discuss (here, anyway) in much detail, preferring glib assertion, hyperbole and, sometimes, insult.

    EG

  • GCooper

    Euan Gray writes:

    “Its payment in return for access to BBC TV productions, which is hardly immoral.”

    No, it is not. That is a mischievous lie. It is a payment which you have to make if you use a television receiver, quite regardless of whether you watch BBC programmes.

    It is a television tax.

    And that is the objection to it.

    Everything else is the usual Eaun Gray juggernaut style of argument: if you can’t win your point, throw up a huge amount of flack, post, post and post again – a process of attrition.

    It must be a Scottish thing. It’s the style favoured by Gordon Brown.

  • Euan Gray

    That is a mischievous lie. It is a payment which you have to make if you use a television receiver

    Yes, but what you get in return is access to BBC TV programs, isn’t it? And on any other payment model, you’d still have to pay to see these things. Since it is quite likely that most people would watch BBC at some point anyway, and since the BBC would still be the cheapest TV service available even without advertising, it’s highly likely that the majority of people buying TV sets under a subscription model would still pay for the BBC anyway. Exactly what difference would abolishing the licence fee make to most people?

    EG

  • GCooper

    Euan Gray writes:

    ” Exactly what difference would abolishing the licence fee make to most people?”

    It would mean people were not forced, on pain of imprisonment, to pay for a service they did not wish to receive.

    But there – that’s the whole morality and principle argument which you’ve been enjoying with others and which is a swamp I shall happily keep out of.

  • Euan Gray

    It would mean people were not forced, on pain of imprisonment, to pay for a service they did not wish to receive

    But since the same people would pay the same money to receive the same service anyway, what’s the difference? The only people forced to pay for the service they do not wish to receive are those who own a TV set but never ever watch any BBC production. And how many people are they, exactly?

    And on a pedantic point, it’s on pain of fine up to £1,000. The imprisonment arises in the case of non-payment of the fine, which is a separate (and second) offence.

    Basically it’s a religious point. Coercion bad, voluntary choice good. Fair enough, but in this case the end result is no different.

    As for morality, there is nothing immoral IMO with taxation or state coercion, provided these are kept to the minimum levels necessary to achieve agreed aims. In the end, law comes down to coercion otherwise it doesn’t work. The system of justice to implement this law needs to be paid for, which in turn requires the coercive extraction of cash from the citizenry in one form or another. Pragmatically, you are going to have coercion and taxation one way or the other. The option to the state is private taxation and coercion, but the point is that it is STILL taxation and coercion.

    EG

  • Winzeler

    Hello Euan, you won’t get any insults from this libertarian and you know it.

    Try looking at the overall crime statistics rather than a handful of specific cases. If you look at specific cases only, you can “prove” that seatbelts kill, government is wonderful, capitalists are environmental despoilers, communism works, and so on. Only by looking at the overall situation will you get a true picture.

    This seems to be just a bit disingenuine. In fact it sounds awfully idealogical. Ideology:
    1.) The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.
    2.) A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.
    It is pragmatic for me to possess and use a firearm as a means to taking pleasure in my hobbies and as a means to protect my person and family. It is idealogical to presume that regulation of my firearm can have a positive impact on the collective.

    Furthermore your comparison between the US and UK’s crime rates is also disingenuine. It is easily demonstrable that the US’s higher crime rates could be readily attributed to violence in high population, inner city areas where gun control is at its highest (probably more restrictive than the UK -New York, DC, Chicago, Los Angelas, etc.)

    And how many people are they, exactly?
    Fair enough, but in this case the end result is no different.

    If the answer to the question is just one, then the second sentence here is false.

  • Winzeler

    What’s truly diabolical about your do-what’s-good-for-society-from-person-x’s-viewpoint collectivist ideology is that you’ve conflated it with pragmatism. I don’t know what possesses you to think that you (or society as the collective) should or could do anything about such things as healthcare or crime, but to disguise it as pragmatism absent of ideology is, again, disingenuine.

  • Euan Gray

    This seems to be just a bit disingenuine. In fact it sounds awfully idealogical

    It’s not. If we’re going to swap definitions:

    Pragmatism (n):

    1. Philosophy. A movement consisting of varying but associated theories, originally developed by Charles S. Peirce and William James and distinguished by the doctrine that the meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences.

    2. A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems

    Focus on definition 2.

    Now, it’s perfectly possible to distort the overall effects of a given circumstance by selectively considering only specific events. Doing this, one can “prove” for example that seatbelts kill or that gun ownership reduces crime. This type of thing is generally done for ideological reasons. A pragmatic view, on the other hand, looks at the whole picture and in these examples reveals that seatbelts actually reduce the overall number of deaths (although there are individual cases where people are killed by wearing seatbelts) and that there is no overall evidence that gun ownership reduces crime (although there are individual cases where it does).

    Furthermore your comparison between the US and UK’s crime rates is also disingenuine

    I don’t agree. In Britain we also have violent inner cities ridden with crime. The fact that the same gun control rules apply in cities as in the country (at least in Britain) suggests that gun control is not the explanation for the American circumstance. The fact remains that the overall US murder rate is four times that of the UK, and I think it somewhat implausible that this can be laid solely at the door of urban American culture. Further, for every example of gun control increasing crime, one can produce examples of gun control (often in neighbouring districts) reducing it. It’s more complex than the simplistic pro or anti gun arguments pretend.

    It cannot be said that the widespread possession of guns is sufficient to reduce crime – because this is contradicted by the higher US crime rates. It may well have an effect, but it is likely that other issues are far more important.

    If the answer to the question is just one, then the second sentence here is false

    Well, yes, if you want to look at it with mathematical exactitude. But I can turn this logic on you and say that if one person is killed by a legally held firearm then that means legal possession of guns is a bad thing. It is necessary to look at the big picture, and not get caught up in emotive specific instances.

    EG

  • Winzeler

    It’s taken me a few hours to figure out my point and how to articulate it, but here we go. Idealism and pragmatism are not diametrically opposed. Idealism refers to an end, pragmatism refers to a means. You are ideologically disposed to certain benefits of a limited communal society. For examply you believe society has an impetus to address crime. Ergo, you pragmatically are open to so-called sensible gun control measures. I, on the other hand, am ideologically disposed to the benefits of minarchism and maximum personal liberty. Ergo, I am pragmatically opposed to any gun control, because I don’t see it as society’s job to protect me. Rather, I see it’s my job. Pragmatism’s definition can be simplified to say, “Do what works without being influenced by biased predispositions.” Well, in order to “work” something requires either a stated or unstated goal. Between the two (pragmatism and idealism) only idealism can deal with defining one’s goals.

  • Euan Gray

    Idealism and pragmatism are not diametrically opposed.

    Of course not, but idealism is not ideology. You can’t really do anything without having some end in mind, and that isn’t the question. The question is how you go about trying to achieve that end.

    We would probably agree that we would both like to see a civilised, secure, free and prosperous society. This is the end, the ideal, and has nothing to do with either ideology or pragmatism. Our idealism lies in wishing to see such a society and in believing that it can be brought about. The difference lies not in this but in how to achieve it. You are more disposed to an ideological way, assuming that eliminating most of the state and most central regulation will deliver the end. I’m more disposed to a pragmatic approach, assuming that sometimes collective measures are best, sometimes individual, sometimes commercial. Whatever works best is, in my view, the course to adopt. I really don’t care what any theory says about what will work best, but I do care about what ACTUALLY works best. Theory is not necessarily a good guide to reality, especially in economics and politics.

    Ergo, you pragmatically are open to so-called sensible gun control measures

    I’m not actually convinced gun control or the lack thereof in itself makes a lot of difference one way or another. My “sensible” gun control measure would amount to forbidding guns to persons with a record of violence, and probably also to alcoholics and drug abusers. Other than that, no restrictions – not for reasons of ideology, but because I am not aware of any particularly good reason for further restricting it. However, pragmatically, I would say such liberty should be restricted IF it turned out that granting it actually increased crime.

    However, I think the biggest difference between us on gun control is that you incline more to the view that an armed citizenry is key to crime control, whereas I do not – I prefer things like efficient and impartial law enforcement. All else being equal, I don’t think private gun possession makes a lot of difference.

    EG

  • Tim Sturm

    EG

    You would advocate slavery if you thought it had a good economic outcome.

    Your views are repellent.

  • Winzeler

    We would probably agree that we would both like to see a civilised, secure, free and prosperous society.

    No, we do not. Free is first for me. Civilized is second. Security is nonexistant, and prosperity doesn’t mean a thing to me.

    However, I think the biggest difference between us on gun control is that you incline more to the view that an armed citizenry is key to crime control, whereas I do not – I prefer things like efficient and impartial law enforcement.

    No, I don’t. Considering the fact that I don’t believe in security, I am not an advocate for gun rights because they protect anything. I’m an advocate for gun rights because of my first ideological priority -freedom. If I want to own, possess, and bear a firearm, I’m going to do it, and I don’t think people should be denied freedoms in the name of the illusion called communal security. I prefer to let my own fate rest in my own hands.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Tim Sturm – a touch hysterical, I believe. And slavery probably does “have a good economic outcome”.

  • Euan Gray

    You would advocate slavery if you thought it had a good economic outcome

    No, I wouldn’t. And it is inefficient anyway in an industrial society. However, libertarians sometimes point out that voluntary slavery is not incompatible with their ideology. I disagree and I do not accept that slavery is acceptable even if voluntary.

    Your views are repellent.

    Because you disagree with them, presumably. Insult and ad hominem attacks are generally a sign that the attacker recognises he is losing the argument.

    Now, do you actually have a point, or any answer to my points?

    Free is first for me. Civilized is second. Security is nonexistant, and prosperity doesn’t mean a thing to me

    So you’d rather be poor in an insecure barbarian society provided you were free? Okay, point of view I suppose, but perhaps an indication as to why libertarian ideas are not exactly popular with the bulk of the people. You might also wish to ask yourself how long you would remain free in such a society, and what methods you would have to employ to secure that freedom. Strangely enough, most people will accept some degree of restriction on their liberty in return for greater prosperity, security and order. This is why people approve of things like police forces, a unified code of law, some regulation of the market, etc. – the benefits greatly outweigh the costs.

    Considering the fact that I don’t believe in security, I am not an advocate for gun rights because they protect anything. I’m an advocate for gun rights because of my first ideological priority -freedom

    I don’t think this makes a lot of sense. If you don’t believe in security, how are you going to defend your freedom?

    You advocate gun rights because of your ideology which places freedom above all else – fine, that makes sense. But if all else was abandoned such that people were truly “free” in this sense, you would pretty quickly come to depend on your gun to provide your own security.

    You said earlier that it was your responsibility to provide for your security – in a society such as you envisage, there will be plenty of people determined to deprive you of your freedom, of your possessions and possibly of your life. They would be just as free as you, of course, so they could not be stopped unless YOU did the stopping, and since they would likely be armed you would need to use your gun (or threaten to use it at least) to provide your security. The major reason for you having a gun in those circumstances is NOT freedom but the fact that you will very quickly depend on it very heavily indeed to provide your own security.

    You would then, I am sure, pretty quickly start believing in security. And of course all the time, effort and expense you would NEED to spend on your own security (because no-one else will do it) reduces the time you can spend on other, more productive things, and so reduces your prosperity. You gain from this what, exactly?

    The reason we have states and not libertarian societies is that states actually work. It is more efficient to have society organise security than it is for individuals to do it for themselves (for perfectly good capitalist reasons concerning the division of labour), and the price for this is modest cessions of personal liberty to society. However seductive the libertarian ideal may be in theory, it won’t come to pass because (a) nobody outside a very small grouping wants it and (b) it’s less efficient than what we already have. This is not to say it always works all of the time, and the current situation in the west shows that problems are encountered. However, it is also not valid to say that things only ever get worse and that society cannot fix its problems. It has in the past and it will again.

    EG

  • snide

    Heavens, what a pompous windbag Gray is! Can he never write anything briefly and succinctly?

    In fact we are already evolving towards a more libertarian order. One only need look at the long trend and the march of globalisation.

  • Euan Gray

    In fact we are already evolving towards a more libertarian order. One only need look at the long trend and the march of globalisation.

    Presumably the ever more arbitrary state responses to terrorism, ever increasing petty regulation and the ever increasing amounts of taxation levied to pay for all of this is also evidence of a trend toward a more libertarian order?

    EG

  • Winzeler

    The reason we have states and not libertarian societies is that states actually work.

    According to your priorities, this is true. According to mine, it is not. Now, on to security; it is evident that we define it differently. I tend to use it to mean the absence of risk (I agree, probably not the right definition). You seem to be defining it as protected or safe (probably a more accurate definition). Using your definition of security, I put free first, secure second, and civilized third. My somewhat distorted definition of security (risk free) is not a consideration. Now as to who is responsible for my security, again, I feel it is me. In which case, I would be required to exercise the use of certain tools (most certainly including guns) to ensure my security.

    Also, in discussion, you consistently bring up the “efficiency” argument. State efficiency is no prize, unless you’re a socialist. I think you can leave that one out.

  • Euan Gray

    According to your priorities, this is true. According to mine, it is not

    It’s nothing to do with priority. States DO work, and it’s a simple fact. Whether you like it or not is another matter, but that doesn’t alter the basic truth of the case.

    Also, in discussion, you consistently bring up the “efficiency” argument. State efficiency is no prize, unless you’re a socialist. I think you can leave that one out.

    I think you misunderstand. I’m not talking about the efficiency of the state, I’m talking about the overall efficiency of collective endeavour for public goods versus individual pursuit of the same public goods. The division of labour results in the fact that maintaining a general security force from collective funding (whether taxation or insurance) and using people who are specialists is much more efficient (i.e. uses less time, requires fewer resources, and is cheaper) than a disparate group of individuals trying to do the same thing each on their own.

    These things are done collectively these days BECAUSE it is more efficient. The society you envisage would be less efficient – i.e. YOU pay more in cash and time – than the current arrangements. You gain from this a degree of freedom from society, which in turn you have to spend a lot of time defending from other individuals. I cannot see why you think this is in any sense a good bargain.

    You get the freedom, but you also get the insecurity, the violence, the disorder, and so on. Why would this be good?

    EG

  • Winzeler

    They work to provide a whole bunch of things I don’t want. In fact, they work to take from me a whole bunch of things I do want. When the goods and services provided by the state are not voluntary, but forced at least two undesirable things happen. First, and most important, the individual’s right to pursue their own ends in their own way is removed (anti-freedom). Second, state corruption and state self-preservation (along with engorgement) will inevitably follow.

    On to efficiency, provided the division of labor is a system to which people may subscribe to varying degrees accdording to their personal desires, it does not conflict with freedom.

  • Winzeler

    By the way, division of labor hasn’t done anything to make our lives more pleasurable. It seems to have only raised our expectations. We don’t work less, because we can. Instead, we work more, because there’s more to be had -not exactly appealing to me. This is not exactly a scientific conclusion, but I wouldn’t presume people are any happier now than they were in years past. In fact, everywhere I look (including the mirror), I see misery and contempt for life.

  • Euan Gray

    By the way, division of labor hasn’t done anything to make our lives more pleasurable

    Surely it has? It is one of the key aspects of capitalism and assists the corporation in its (theoretically) permanent endeavour to reduce costs and compete. Would you rather build your own car from raw materials, or have specialist companies build the components and assemble them for you? Without the division of labour, we’d have a pretty backward and primitive (although simpler and more “free”) civilisation.

    I wouldn’t presume people are any happier now than they were in years past

    I’d agree to a point. Probably people are materially more satisfied in that they have more material possessions which are available at much lower real prices than hitherto. Psychological satisfaction is another matter, though, but I don’t think it is reasonable to say that the capitalistic division of labour is to blame for any widespread spiritual angst. At least in most people.

    In fact, everywhere I look (including the mirror), I see misery and contempt for life

    Hmm. How does regressing to a more primitive, more dangerous and more barbaric society – even if it is by some measures more “free” – actually help alleviate this?

    EG

  • Winzeler

    The point is, division of labor has served to increase materialism, which in turn increases class divisions, perceived poverty levels, and greed, as opposed to increasing happiness by decreasing the amount of work required to participate in life’s basic necessities.

  • Tim Sturm

    Insult and ad hominem attacks are generally a sign that the attacker recognises he is losing the argument.

    Generally perhaps. In this case they are sign that there is no point discussing anything with you since you have no problems advocating the use of force to have things your way.

    I also have no intention of going through with you the entire field of ethhics, for which you clearly have no understanding. If you want to interpret that as “winning the argument”, be my guest.

    And it [slavery] is inefficient anyway in an industrial society.

    Phew. Thank heaven for that.

  • The Happy Rampager

    Try looking at the overall crime statistics rather than a handful of specific cases.

    Would you say that these ‘specific cases’ have no impact on the overall crime statistics? Or that they shouldn’t be considered as important? I would think they are highly important to those individuals.

    If you look at specific cases only, you can “prove” that…

    What I ‘proved’ was that guns do have highly beneficial uses, which seems to be something you would rather not discuss, going by your antagoinistic and dismissive response.

    Only by looking at the overall situation will you get a true picture.

    Says someone who would rather defensive gun use was not discussed as part of this ‘overall situation’, so that it doesn’t affect the picture he was trying to paint.

    We have these in both Britain and in America. Why, then, is the murder rate in America four times that in the UK?

    Because the gangbangers are much nastier over there, although this is changing. And I don’t think you can deny this is due to their character and not the weapons they wield.

    I have said numerous times that I see NO reason to prevent law-abiding people owning guns. You know this, because I have also said it specifically to you.

    You also said that 99% of people think as you do, and stand by your absurd declaration…your protestations that you see no reason to prevent law-abiders owning guns – even though you also see no reason to take issue with the British Establishment preventing the law-abiding owning guns – are of similarly low value.

    You might have said it, but that doesn’t mean you were telling the truth. Which means you are wasting your time and ours.

  • Euan Gray

    Generally perhaps. In this case they are sign that there is no point discussing anything with you

    No, it’s just a simple indication that you cannot come up with a cogent and meaningful response to the issues raised. However, it’s your problem, not mine.

    I also have no intention of going through with you the entire field of ethhics, for which you clearly have no understanding

    Since you have failed to post anything which in any way shows (rather than simply claims) that my understanding is flawed and/or that you have a better understanding, your comment must be considered as nothing more than yet another glib response in lieu of a proper answer. And why do you post a comment to say that you have no intention of commenting? This is another tactic commonly engaged in by the losing side in a discussion.

    Would you say that these ‘specific cases’ have no impact on the overall crime statistics?

    Of course they do. But so do all the other cases which demonstrate the contrary. You cannot look only at one small part of the picture.

    What I ‘proved’ was that guns do have highly beneficial uses, which seems to be something you would rather not discuss

    I’m quite happy to discuss it, provided you don’t just post insult and personal remarks in reply. If you actually answer the points I raise and ask meaningful questions then we can have a useful discussion.

    Of course guns have beneficial uses. They also have harmful uses. So what? After all, cars are great means of personal transport (a Good Thing) but they also result in large numbers of avoidable deaths and injuries (a Bad Thing). This is not the question – the question is, rather, what is the OVERALL effect? Is it beneficial or harmful? Again, you need to look at the bigger picture.

    Says someone who would rather defensive gun use was not discussed as part of this ‘overall situation’, so that it doesn’t affect the picture he was trying to paint.

    No, you’re wrong here. Defensive gun use must be discussed, but then YOU must accept that offensive and criminal gun use must also be discussed. Only by looking at all sides can we possibly arrive at any useful conclusion.

    Because the gangbangers are much nastier over there, although this is changing. And I don’t think you can deny this is due to their character and not the weapons they wield.

    Firstly, I am not sure it’s fair to excuse the high American murder rate by citing a supposedly uniquely awful culture in American inner cities. There must, surely, be some serious and lamentable failure in large parts of American culture if the inner cities are thus. I do not believe this is the case, although I am not fully convinced one way or the other.

    Secondly, their choice of weapon – if your contetion about culture is correct – does materially affect the outcome. If their culture is one predisposed to violence and crime, then it is logical to suppose that guns, were they available, would be used in at least some of this violence and crime. If guns are readily available, they are more likely to be used in this way than if they are not, which is simple enough. “Readily available” also means “capable of being stolen from legitimate owners,” of course.

    I recently read an extract from a study in which, over a 9 month period, existing gun law was strictly enforced in a series of districts, but in the contiguous negihbouring constituencies nothing changed. It was noted, it seems, that violent crime decreased markedly in the enforced areas, but did not change in the others. This suggests that the problem is not the possession of guns per se, but rather lax and/or incompetent law enforcement.

    Overall, I think (as I have said many times before) that the question is much more complex than the simplistic ideology of either the pro or the anti lobby would have us believe.

    Which means you are wasting your time and ours.

    In which case, why do you respond?

    EG

  • The Happy Rampager

    No, it’s just a simple indication that you cannot come up with a cogent and meaningful response to the issues raised. However, it’s your problem, not mine.

    No, being unable to respond cogently and meaningfully your problem.

    Of course they do. But so do all the other cases which demonstrate the contrary. You cannot look only at one small part of the picture.

    Like you were only willing to consider the part of the problem that justified your emphasis on the problematic use of guns, because you really only want to talk about that over the positive benefits of guns.

    No, you’re wrong here. Defensive gun use must be discussed, but then YOU must accept that offensive and criminal gun use must also be discussed.

    Yes, we must all do as YOU tell us. We must all talk about what YOU feel is most important. YOU are not obliged to us to discuss matters and perspectives that we might wish to discuss, we must all allow the debate to be steered into areas that YOU want us to talk about. You owe us nothing, we owe you everything.

    YOU shouldn’t be asking anyone to do anything you’re not willing to do yourself, like making concessions and compromises to others. Seriously, you must have ditched this attitude in the real world – I can’t imagine that you could happily go through life provoking everyone you meet into rearranging your face. So why not ditch this attitude online as well? Do it for people other than YOU.

    I’m quite happy to discuss it, provided you don’t just post insult and personal remarks in reply.

    Do you know how stupid you look whinging about insults and personal remarks? Nothing I have posted is any more insulting than the ‘another long-winded, pompous, pedantic, presumptuous, pretentious, prating, pontificatory series of pseudo-intellectual, posturing, ponderously patronizing polemics’ line(just thought I’d treat you to that again), though it could be considered to be just as insulting, as well as more descriptive, as your reference to many of the other contributors as ‘variously simplistic, naive or plain wrong’, which sums up your entire offensive attitude. Again, it isn’t smart to cry about people playing as rough with you as you do with them.

    Having your poor widdle feelings hurt is something you probably should have taken into consideration before you set off on your mission to become the most disliked ‘contributor’ here. And don’t try to claim it’s anything to do with the content of your posts, as you know, like everyone else knows, it’s all down to the manner in which you post. Your ‘unqualified to talk down to others but I’ll do it anyway’ manner. No-one forces you to be an ass and a thin-skinned wannabe intellectual bully.

    In which case, why do you respond?

    I suppose it’s down to the principle that if the assholes of the world went completely unchallenged, some unwary souls might think the bilge they spouted actually made some sense. And you’re not as good an asshole as you must think you are. Which merely makes you good practice for dealing with bigger and better assholes. Should one need to do so in the future, of course.

  • Euan Gray

    Like you were only willing to consider the part of the problem that justified your emphasis on the problematic use of guns, because you really only want to talk about that over the positive benefits of guns.

    I’m quite happy to discuss gun control and all aspects of guns, including both positive and negative effects of controlling them and of not controlling them. I have said so before perfectly plainly, and I repeat it here now, so please don’t misrepresent my position.

    Yes, we must all do as YOU tell us

    Of course not, but you must be open to both sides of the argument, otherwise it is impossible to reach any conclusion. I am open to both sides of the argument – aren’t you?

    we must all allow the debate to be steered into areas that YOU want us to talk about

    Not at all, but equally we must not allow the debate to be steered into areas that only you (or any other person) want to look at. Both sides, remember.

    Do you know how stupid you look whinging about insults and personal remarks?

    I know that I do not look stupid, and that I am not whingeing. I do not insult, nor do I make personal remarks, but I do object when others do it to me in lieu of making a proper and reasoned response to an argument.

    Having your poor widdle feelings hurt is something you probably should have taken into consideration

    I frankly don’t give a flying fuck about my “widdle feelings” and I don’t expect anyone else to. If you insult me or pass personal remarks, I do not feel personally offended or put out – frankly, you waste your time trying to insult me because it doesn’t work – but I do feel it is such a waste of (your) time and effort. Instead of making insults, you could be making reasoned responses to my points and making your own sensible points as well. Isn’t that more useful and a lot less objectionable than personal insult?

    Now, I note that (yet again) you have not actually responded to any point that has been raised, just as you did in the earlier thread. What IS your point? What ARE your responses to my points?

    EG