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It seems young adults are not as keen on socialism as some might fear

An interesting item on the Guido Fawkes blog:

The polling reveals that UK citizens overwhelmingly agree that “competition allows for better prices for consumers”, “competition between companies allows for more choice for consumers”, and “competition encourages innovation and economic growth” storming ahead of the other large EU countries Germany, France, and Italy in each of those categories.

A point worth making that goes way beyond current political fights is that it has become something of a cliche that young adults, in particular, are so annoyed at the lack of affordable housing, or worthless higher education qualifications + debt, that they are all hot for the 1970s tribute band routine of Corbyn in the UK or, for that matter, Bernie Sanders in the US. The media (and often the conservative bits of it) appears obsessed with running stories about the latest dumb statements of someone such as Alexandre Ocasio Cortez, the young Congresswoman in the US, or surveys about how young adults all want socialism. But from my admittedly impressionistic stance, I am not seeing an upsurge in enthusiasm for state control, rationing of resources, bureaucracy, etc. A poll conducted by Gallup in 2005 showed how lots of young US males wanted to start their own business. A more recent study from 2016 shows that a large number of Millennials, that generation which a Gen X-er like me likes to poke fun at, want to create their own firms.

It seems to me that any half-intelligent politician (that’s going to be a small population sample, ed.) should tap into this and stop pandering to the idea that the “young” all have a crush on Big Government. What I suspect is going on is that they dislike Bigness per se, not always coherently (Big Business is downright good if the bigness comes from superior performance rather than political favours), and want lots of choices and options in their lives. So smart policy, including around issues such as civil liberties, should play to that. It depresses me how our current political class seems so keen, for example, on regulating the internet and the like, because this is exactly the sort of issue that young adults, given their distrust not just of business but very big techs such as Facebook (even though they use it) get fired up about. One would think, therefore, that tapping this distrust makes sense.

After all, even if you have decidedly mixed views about a character such as Julian Assange, the Wikileaks man who was arrested in the UK yesterday, it is hard not to notice that a lot of people admired how he poked the establishment (well, at least that is what he claimed), in the eye. We are living at a time when there is a lot of dislike of established ways of doing things and this is something that thoughtful libertarians must embrace.

Related thoughts from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

43 comments to It seems young adults are not as keen on socialism as some might fear

  • neonsnake

    So smart policy, including around issues such as civil liberties, should play to that

    One would think, therefore, that tapping this distrust makes sense.

    That’s a very pragmatic attitude, if one is actually trying to move politics in a libertarian direction.

    The reports don’t surprise me at all; the bit that most people don’t understand is that we don’t currently live in socialist state – most people think that we “sort of” do, and that the Tories are only bothered about dismantling the safety net, and that Labour are trying to keep it, whilst regulating Big Evil Business. Having the NHS and social security is not enough to make us socialist – but I don’t think people know that. I don’t think people know exactly what Labour have planned, in order to make us truly socialist (central planning, just for one example), and that if they did, they’d be horrified.

    On the other side, I think what we often miss is the bit about civil liberties. I find it absurd that we castigate young people for being concerned about systemic social inequality, to the point that we denigrate them as snowflakes, SJWs, etc.

    In the first place, it’s ridiculous to do so (it’s become the Political Correctness of the Right, tbh), and in the second place – well, it’s hardly pragmatic, is it? It’s just counter-productive.

  • Runcie Balspune

    It’s not that young people are susceptible to socialism per se, it’s that the socialists are very good at “.. and a pony” statements that influence young people more than others, everyone is taken in by promises that cannot possibly be kept, and young people without life experience even more so.

    When Corbyn explains to students he’ll make their education “free” by taxing everyone earning more than £50k/year, not many of his audience will readily envisage falling into that category after they leave university, or indeed ever in the rest of their life, or anyone in their future family. The subtle delusion that leftists use to describe their great announcements is all based on lies and deception.

    If a millennial expresses a desire to start a social media company, Corbyn and his cronies will quite happily promise a tax break for young internet entrepreneurs, they just wont mention how they intend to rope in all social media under state control later.

    It’s all about gullibility and the b*stards that exploit it.

  • John B

    How then can the alleged enthusiasm of the young for the EU be explained, which is by design protectionist, bureaucratic to eliminate competition both externally and internally for the benefit of big business and the farming sector, by taxes, regulation and subsidy?

    @neonsnake ‘… systemic social inequality…’

    Social equality means nobody is excluded by the State or by collusion between the State and vested interests, as in the days of mercantilism, because of their background, social status, gender, race, religion or any other condition from taking part in the free market capitalist economy using their own Human and financial capital to generate and accumulate wealth. It is free market capitalism – the very thing the SJWs are against – and the economic liberty it brings which guarantees social equality.

    It does not mean everyone ends up with the same.

    Social inequality arises when the State introduces quotas in education, business, professions based on ‘affirmative’ action for designated sectors of society, allows professions monopoly, uses taxation and regulation to limit or exclude competition. These are measure of which SJWs approve in the name of reducing inequality. It has nothing to do with ‘social equality’ – it is the precise opposite.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    How then can the alleged enthusiasm of the young for the EU be explained, which is by design protectionist, bureaucratic to eliminate competition both externally and internally for the benefit of big business and the farming sector, by taxes, regulation and subsidy?

    For some (I cannot and will not generalise) they like the free movement inside the 28-state bloc, and that is probably one of the big reasons; they buy the idea sold by some that cheap flights and caps on mobile roaming charges are EU achievements (which is debatable) and the EU has also been pretty successful in pitching the idea that it is modern and progressive, even if it is undemocratic, unaccountable and often corrupt. I also cannot help think that there is a lot of psychological stuff going on – being for Remain is a sort of cultural sorting process where you can identify as a “good person” rather than some thicko from the provinces who dislikes foreigners.

  • neonsnake

    Social inequality arises when the State introduces quotas in education, business, professions based on ‘affirmative’ action for designated sectors of society, allows professions monopoly, uses taxation and regulation to limit or exclude competition. These are measure of which SJWs approve in the name of reducing inequality. It has nothing to do with ‘social equality’ – it is the precise opposite

    I, of course, absolutely agree with you (and with your previous paragraph as well).

    But we’ve done a very very bad job in getting that message across, which is why your “SJW” simply doesn’t believe it. They’re NOT bad people for not believing it, but they live in a world with regulation, taxations, quotas etc which have distorted the market, making it very very difficult to get to the truth.

    So when someone says “sexism in hiring practices still exists. Rational decision making isn’t working, because people inherently prefer to hire men”, it’s understandable (albeit incorrect) for someone to go “ah, fuck it. We’ve tried explaining, we’ve tried the easy way. Screw it, make it illegal and be done with it. I’d rather we have one more little innocuous law than for women to be discriminated against.”

    And instead of us coming out and going “whoa….I know you mean well, and we’re both trying to achieve the same thing, but here: look at these examples where our way has worked better than yours”, we come out screaming “Political correctness gone mad!” and drive them further away – leading them to believe that just because we don’t believe in the solutions they’re proposing help women in business (in this example), it means that we don’t care about women in business.

    tldr: we’re shit at PR, and they’re really good at it. If we care to actually progress a libertarian agenda, we need to be better at it.

  • Mal Reynolds

    As a millennial (and one in London, no less) I typically find my friends and similarly aged colleagues are in 1 of 2 groups. Either they are very socialist and very loud about it or they do not talk politics at all. Our reputation comes from the only millennial crowd that talk politics, the socialist part. I suspect these polls capture the views of all the rest of us who are much quieter.

    As to why the group are quieter… it is likely a mix of wanting an easy life by avoiding the batshit crazy loud ones but also just a lack of interest in politics. A lack of interest lends itself, I find, to a live and let live mindset (as long as it doesn’t bother me, I won’t bother it) but not a proactive embrace of libertarian ideas.

    However, the lack of interest crowd also therefore do not spend much time on really understanding the philosophy of political ideas and are prone to being easily led to support political views, policies and parties based on whatever they frequently hear (e.g. BBC (which is still widely used as a news source as uninterested people do not see its bias) is against Trump and Brexit so they also are because they lack interest in diving in to the actual discussions). This leads to a lot of inconsistencies in preference and voting habits when theoretically politicians delivering “live and let live” platforms would be the best fit for them.

  • Runcie Balspune

    tldr: we’re shit at PR, and they’re really good at it. If we care to actually progress a libertarian agenda, we need to be better at it.

    If, by “PR”, you mean lying, then that is quite true.

    The problem is the establishment has moved from “telling the truth” to “don’t upset people even if you are telling the truth”, even to the point of criminalizing this activity, which is a severe blow to any libertarian. This transition is due to the spineless hoping the crocodile will eat them last.

    If you cannot lie, and you cannot tell the truth, the only policy is to play the game of outing the liars, exposing lies told by candidates, advertising the deceit that they manipulate with, show others that this person is untrustworthy and should not hold office, this needs to be done before they outlaw “trolling” (and you can be sure that will come once the Online Harms Act gets started).

    Of course, people may ignore you, but at least you can fight the good fight.

  • bobby b

    “tldr: we’re shit at PR, and they’re really good at it. If we care to actually progress a libertarian agenda, we need to be better at it.”

    I’ve been spouting this for years. It’s absolutely true.

    I do a bunch of traveling around the middle third of the US, and many (if not most) of the people I speak to hold deeply libertarian beliefs – and don’t know it. They want government – and other people about whom they don’t really care – to stay out of their lives. They want to live the way they want to live. They’re perfectly happy letting other people live the way those other people want to live, so long as that doesn’t involve authority over their own lives.

    Problem is, they will never connect this way of thinking with “libertarianism.” To them, “Libertarianism” means fighting for legal pot.

    That’s how poorly we’ve spread knowledge of libertarian thinking amongst others.

    I try to educate people as to how libertarian they already actually are, and generally get nowhere, because (at least) our American version of the organized Libertarian Party is so completely worthless that they’ve poisoned that well for generations.

    It’s so bad that we almost need to jettison the label of “libertarian” and find something new, something that doesn’t turn people off at first hearing. And then we need thought-out PR to keep that label away from the Libertarians.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I do a bunch of traveling around the middle third of the US, and many (if not most) of the people I speak to hold deeply libertarian beliefs – and don’t know it. They want government – and other people about whom they don’t really care – to stay out of their lives. They want to live the way they want to live.”

    Everyone believes in that part, even authoritarians.

    “They’re perfectly happy letting other people live the way those other people want to live, so long as that doesn’t involve authority over their own lives.”

    That sounds good. But the real test is to ask them about something that they think ought to be banned. Do they understand that you have to allow other people the freedom to do things you don’t approve of, if you want the freedom to do things other people don’t approve of? Can they understand that the two are connected – different sides of the same coin?

    That’s always been the hard part – the giant leap between an authoritarian and a libertarian. When you say “perfectly happy letting other people live the way those other people want to live”, are they thinking only of good people living within the same social bounds they believe in, just with different preferences and pasttimes? Or do they include even many of the people they themselves despise and oppose?

    Freedom for your friends is easy. Freedom for your enemies is hard.

    “Problem is, they will never connect this way of thinking with “libertarianism.” To them, “Libertarianism” means fighting for legal pot.”

    Oh.

    Well that depends. Do they mean people who only fight for legal pot (their own vice) and not anyone else’s freedom? Or do they mean they don’t like the idea of pot being legalised, and they’re not going to vote libertarian if it means letting people do stuff like that?

    If the problem is that we only fight for the freedoms *we* want, that’s solvable.

  • neonsnake

    To them, “Libertarianism” means fighting for legal pot.

    Yep. Or, we’re just conservatives who smoke weed, over on my side of the pond (which is why we desperately need to break that link with small-c conservatism )

    Also, we’re heartless bastards who want to destroy the welfare state, having grown up with it, and now we want to kick the ladder out from underneath the younger generation.

    …and that’s a pretty difficult thing to sell, no?

    (which is why removing welfare is one of the last things on my masterplan to take over the world – uh, I mean create a libertarian state)

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Neonsnake: “… removing welfare is one of the last things on my masterplan to take over the world …”

    More likely, ‘welfare’ is the first thing to go — it is what is going to cause the inevitable implosion of the current system. There may be some exceptions (some people say Chile has a better system, and “Communist” China apparently has very little welfare for its people), but in most of the Western world, current welfare systems (including pensions) are simply unsustainable. The arithmetic does not work. Gods of the Copybook Headings, and all that. The day will eventually arrive when Western governments cannot paper over the problem by even more borrowing and unconstrained money printing.

    The opportunity for change will exist in that period of crisis. History suggests the likely outcome will be the emergence of Cromwells, Stalins, Maos. But if the ideas of limited government and responsible citizenship can be preserved until then, there will be at least a chance of a step forward.

  • CaptDMO

    “What two people who love each other, do behind closed doors , in their own home…..”
    Much like John B’s (Thinly veiled nod IMHO, I could be wrong) at what Affirmative Action ultimately “evolved” into in the US.
    Sorry, we don’t ring a bell, bring everything to a halt, revel in our subservience to Mohammad’s “interpretation” of the Qur’an, five times a day….’round here.
    “We” sure as HELL don’t impose it on the “free” public school mandatory captured audience either.
    Well, we DEMAND a minor, common sense, compromise……

  • bobby b

    “Do they mean people who only fight for legal pot (their own vice) and not anyone else’s freedom?”

    I mean, the mass American view of the American Libertarian Party is one of stoners fighting for legal drugs. Period. There is no real linkage in the mass American mind of that Party and a shrinking of the regulatory state, the growth of personal freedom – of any of the concepts that define actual libertarianism.

    Of course, this same mass has no understanding of the differences between modern Liberals and classical liberalism, either.

    And we can chalk that up to our very poor educative efforts. We spend way too much time arguing amongst ourselves over arcane points and too little (effective) time getting a message out.

  • bobby b

    “Or, we’re just conservatives who smoke weed . . .”

    Over here, if you asked ten people to place Libertarianism on the political continuum, nine would place them fairly well to the left.

  • Surellin

    This has been going on at least since the Baby Boomers were cool. “Youth are lefties and will in due time swamp us all!”. Except they (largely) grow up in time. Wasn’t it Churchill who said that, one who is twenty and isn’t a socialist has no heart, but if one is still a socialist at thirty he has no brain?

  • neonsnake

    However, the lack of interest crowd also therefore do not spend much time on really understanding the philosophy of political ideas and are prone to being easily led to support political views, policies and parties based on whatever they frequently hear (e.g. BBC (which is still widely used as a news source as uninterested people do not see its bias) is against Trump and Brexit so they also are because they lack interest in diving in to the actual discussions). This leads to a lot of inconsistencies in preference and voting habits when theoretically politicians delivering “live and let live” platforms would be the best fit for them

    Mal – I’m not a millennial, but not a million years off; and obviously we all work with loads of them. Your comment rings entirely true.

  • Runcie Balspune

    To them, “Libertarianism” means fighting for legal pot.

    Seeing as the resistance to pot has dissolved naturally, the issue is probably more like “fighting to be able to sell pot to my ‘kids'” (and this includes ‘kids’ who are actually adults).

    Libertarians do hold some kind of view that is perceived as similar (I am not saying this is the case but the perception). For example, should someone be penalized for not having adequate car insurance? Do we wait until a non-insured person is involved in an accident that leaves a victim with no recourse to compensation before they are held to account? Should it be considered that a person is committing an “offense” if they do not take care and consideration over their actions? I have encountered libertarians who take a less than ambivalent view on this, that perhaps car insurance should be optional and definitely not enforced, and I don’t think it does them any favors, it makes them seem friendly to criminals by not considering it a criminal action.

    They want to live the way they want to live.

    This may be a common idea but many hold the somewhat dualist opinion of banning (for other people) guns, unhealthy food, drugs, straws, etc, the libertarian will point out this folly and it wont end well, this is an inherent problem in arguing for true freedom, once you’ve pointed out that freedom comes with responsibility and you’ve got to trust people to be responsible (up to the point they are not).

    “The freedom to swing your fist stops at my face”, when you tell people that restricting say, gun ownership, is a punch, they don’t really understand.

  • Agammamon

    “competition allows for better prices for consumers”, “competition between companies allows for more choice for consumers”, and “competition encourages innovation and economic growth”

    Sadly, they don’t seem to extend that to competition between governments.

  • willfulknowledge

    Published on the 11th and Guido has closed comments already. Could it be because so many point up the foolishness of the argument? Their votes count, not their answers on a poll and their votes say most are more than happy stay EU stooges and Corbynistas.

  • willful knowledge

    The difference between conservatives and liberals in the UK is the difference between monarchists and Jacobins during the French Revolution. Both believed government had the answers, the question was, which government. The number of boomers who voted for HRC in the states blows “This has been going on at least since the Baby Boomers were cool. “Youth are lefties and will in due time swamp us all!”. Except they (largely) grow up in time. Wasn’t it Churchill who said that, one who is twenty and isn’t a socialist has no heart, but if one is still a socialist at thirty he has no brain? ” out of the water.

  • Willful knowledge

    “Over here, if you asked ten people to place Libertarianism on the political continuum, nine would place them fairly well to the left.” Cite your source.

  • Paul Marks

    It would help, it would help a great deal, if Big Business stopped pushing socialist ideas – and they do push socialist ideas, in everything from the news and current affairs shows, to the films and entertainment shows.

    Whether Big Business pushes far left ideas (the whole SJW Cultural Marxist thing) because they think the “youth” will go for it, or because they (the managers in control of Big Business) are dominated by insane ideas they absorbed at school and university is hard to know – but they really should stop pushing stuff that would destroy civilisation, and cut the throats of the Big Business types doing the pushing. They are, essentially, pushing their own deaths – and the deaths of their own families.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    With regard to Mr Assange, it’s noticeable that the criticism directed at him for revealing embarrassing government information was certainly not matched by criticism directed at those individuals who in recent years have openly stolen customer data from banks and financial-service companies in privacy-oriented jurisdictions (such as Panama or Switzerland) and handed it over to high-taxing governments.

    There seems to be a state-supremacist assumption in many quarters that it’s absolutely fine for governments to hide things from their citizens, but conversely that it’s ‘not quite the done thing, old boy’ for citizens to hide things from their governments. And yet supposedly (heavy sarcasm on ‘supposedly’) governments are the servants, not masters, of their citizens.

  • it’s understandable (albeit incorrect) for someone to go “ah, fuck it. We’ve tried explaining, we’ve tried the easy way. Screw it, make it illegal and be done with it.” (neonsnake, April 12, 2019 at 12:40 pm)

    So, how to use the information of Guido’s poll to attack this idea when you meet it?

    The logic neonsnake describes here was mocked by Sir Humphrey Appleby, of all people. 🙂 “Something must be done. A law is something, so we must do it.” Because (as Sir Humphrey did not go on to mock since he believes it) laws always have the effect they say and never have side effects.

    It is very understandable that a politician would say, “We have solved the problem” when they mean, “We talked a lot and then voted a law asserting the problem is now solved – talking and asserting is all we know how to do.” And it is indeed very understandable that someone who thinks that (or who has never thought about whether) force – the force of law – can solve all problems, would credit the “degenerate, tricking shortcut” of force.

    I think one meaning of Guido’s poll is that there is milage in attacking the faith of the young in the means of socialism. “Because when government says it will fix something, it gets fixed, right? Because Khan’s knife ban ended knife crime, right? Because when the state regulates something, it gets better, right? And when the state runs it, it gets better still, right?”

  • neonsnake

    I think one meaning of Guido’s poll is that there is milage in attacking the faith of the young in the means of socialism.

    I think you’re right.

    Back when I was wrestling my own ideology out of nothing, it was the “spontaneous order vs central planning” argument which was the first domino. I always had a vague sense of “government and people in power should leave well enough alone”, but nothing further than that.

    If JP is correct in his initial post about millenials distrusting “bigness” as a whole (and I have no reason to suspect that he’s wrong), then I will extrapolate a little and contend that it’s not Bigness per se that they hate, but monopolies, or near-monopolies. It’s a reduction of choice – and this might be reason why they’re keen to set up their own businesses. Does that seem like a fair conclusion?

    I don’t think it’s an impossible task to show that socialism (not weak-socialism like New Labour, but full-throated Corbyn socialism) is also a type of monopoly (by properly explaining central planning)

    Because when the state regulates something, it gets better, right? And when the state runs it, it gets better still, right?

    I think an incredible starting point would be the Online Harms White Paper, as an example of why central planning cannot work. Remember Cameron’s ISP filters from 2013? They backfired spectacularly, blocking things like the Edinburgh Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre. And (quite rightly), the kids rose up in anger about it. It’s a cracking example, because not only did it not work, it actively harmed the most vulnerable.

    And that’s what we need to demonstrate, I believe. We have a generation who passionately believe in social justice. Just to be clear – I think that’s a very good thing! I don’t use phrases like SJW and snowflake and so on, because I truly believe that people who fight for social justice are to be applauded. I think that they’re going about it the wrong way, but I’m not going to have a pop at them for fighting for a better world (and that’s a belief which feeds into my “bad PR” comment upthread). If we’re to advance libertarian ideals, then I think our role is to teach, not to push away. So if we can show that socialism actively harms those who it purports to protect, then I think we can win some hearts and minds.

    (As I hinted elsewhere, I have vague ideas about early steps being to go after something like corporate welfare first rather than social welfare, too, from the same “hearts and minds” perspective, but I don’t have a deep enough knowledge about corporate welfare to know whether that’s sensible or not. Going after crony capitalism and corporatism before going after “kicking the ladder out from underneath disabled people” would seem sensible though)

  • Runcie Balspune

    because I truly believe that people who fight for social justice are to be applauded

    I don’t.

    Because you start by saying people in wheelchairs should be equal and end by saying everyone else should be kneecapped. Society is unjust by default, and equality is unattainable without injustice, and justice is unattainable without inequality, there is no justice in society, and there never will be by dint of birth, and there is no equality because some people make stupid decisions, you can only really have equality of opportunity and if they were Social Opportunity Defenders I could applaud that because at least it is realistically achievable.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Because you start by saying people in wheelchairs should be equal and end by saying everyone else should be kneecapped.”

    Yes. And then they get *us* to call for injustice for people in wheelchairs! Which helps their cause no end.

    The authoritarians of the left are always pulling the same trick. They find a group that has newly acquired public sympathy, and that they know the right will kick up about. Then they throw their support behind the group, talking about how they’re persecuted and abused, and demanding the coercive power from society needed to defend them. The right, predictably, react by attacking the group in question. And the left use that to justify their grab for power in the eyes of the public. The public are generally suspicious of handing out such powers, but they can clearly see the necessity when they see the many examples of the sympathy group being attacked by the right. The left get power. The right get the reputation of being callous bastards. Win. For the leftist authoritarians.

    They started with the poor, of course. They’ve done women, blacks, immigrants, the disabled, homosexuals, even wildlife. Ahhh! Look at the cute little baby polar bears! And who could possibly not be on the side of the lil’ baby polar bears, and their defenders?

    The right fall into the trap every time. They don’t fight the leftists. They don’t offer their own solutions to help the sympathy group. They instead see any defence of the group’s interests as an attack on their own, and counter-attack. Which of course allows the left to paint the right in the colours they want.

    You want to tell people we have no sympathy for people in wheelchairs? That we don’t want justice (by our definition) for them?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    It seems young adults are not as keen on socialism as some might fear

    Have you guys really learned nothing?

    The American people did not want Obamacare. Didn’t matter. It still happened and even a Republican White House, Republican House, and Republican Senate didn’t repeal it even after those Republicans were elected on the campaign pledge to do just that.

    The American people did not and do not want rampant illegal immigration into their country. Doesn’t matter.

    The British people did not want UK membership in the EU. Doesn’t matter.

    Young adults may not be as keen on socialism as some might fear. Doesn’t really matter.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    bobby b, earlier: “It’s so bad that we almost need to jettison the label of “libertarian” and find something new, something that doesn’t turn people off at first hearing.”

    Worth thinking about. How about ‘Limited Government’?

    Human beings have had some form of regulation of social interactions for as long as we have been around — even if that form of “government” at the beginning was simply “Do what the big guy says”. Most of us would agree there is indeed a role for some kind of government, but the problem now is that government has taken on too many responsibilities, has grown far beyond its capacity to perform most functions competently, and has become unwelcomely intrusive. Hence there may be an audience for a return to the Constitution’s unfortunately-failed concept of Limited Government.

  • neonsnake

    Because you start by saying people in wheelchairs should be equal and end by saying everyone else should be kneecapped.

    The authoritarians of the left are always pulling the same trick

    So, at the moment, I’m not even really talking about the authoritarians of the left (ie. the politicians), I’m talking about your average 24 year-old bloke, let’s call him Mark from the Purchase Ledger department, one of the “quiet” group that Mal described upthread. He, like nearly all of us, has always had the NHS and social welfare as a background to his life, has almost certainly used the NHS, and hopefully never had the misfortune to have to use social welfare.

    And he’s not going to recognise Runcie Balspune’s statement, because he’s not saying people in wheelchairs should be equal, he might be saying they deserve equality of opportunity if really pushed, but he’s most likely saying that if someone can’t work then “society” (by which he actually means “government, via our taxes”) should provide some kind of safety net so that they don’t starve or lose the roof over their head.

    If you say “yeah, you start with that, and you end with saying everyone else should be knee-capped”, Mark from Purchase Ledger is going to stare at you like you’re mad, possibly tell you that you’re using the slippery slope fallacy, and wander off to his mates where he’ll say “Just met me a libertarian, they really are a bunch of heartless wankers”. And then he’ll ignore everything else that comes with libertarianism.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m not even really talking about the authoritarians of the left (ie. the politicians)”

    Why would you think only politicians can be authoritarian?

    “but he’s most likely saying that if someone can’t work then “society” (by which he actually means “government, via our taxes”) should provide some kind of safety net so that they don’t starve or lose the roof over their head.”

    Consider the case of the Conservative MP (and later a Labour MP) who proposed that minimum wage law should not be applied to the disabled, as it excluded them from getting a job. If someone is slow, because of their disability, their work is worth less per hour than an able-bodied person, but is still worthwhile production. And it’s good for their mental state – they get out of the house, they get a wider social circle, they feel less dependent, less helpless, they feel like they’re useful, less of a burden, and the money helps. Minimum wage law is stupid and damaging, but it is especially nasty when applied to the disabled. They ought to be allowed to opt out if they choose.

    So why did the MPs come under fire for making the suggestion? Why was nobody surprised that a politician would get into trouble for saying a disabled person’s work is worth less than an able-bodied person’s? And why did the politicians immediately surrender and apologise, instead of using this as a teachable moment to explain the evils of minimum wage law?

    https://www.channel4.com/news/disabled-people-should-work-for-less-than-min-wage-tory-mp

    https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/labour-mp-told-to-quit-influential-post-after-offensive-minimum-wage-call/

    The lefty activists make the argument that evil tories want to use disabled people as cheap labour, and minimum wage law is needed to defend disabled people against the evil tories. By apologising, we confirm that we think they’re right and we’re wrong. But in this case, the proposal was actually intended to help the disabled. We were fighting for justice for the disabled, against the injustices imposed by minimum wage laws.

    How do you get across the message that we have the same aim (helping the disabled), but recommend different methods? How do we retain the public’s sympathy/support? Is it the right approach to attack everyone who campaigns on behalf of the disabled as necessarily some sort of far-left knee-capping maniac? Cementing the public impression that support for the disabled is purely a left-wing position? Or is it to start our own campaigns in their support?

  • I agree both with Runcie Balspune (April 13, 2019 at 6:53 pm), who does not think that anyone who “fights for social justice” should be applauded, and with neonsnake (April 14, 2019 at 6:12 am), who presents an example of how the specific argument Runcie gives could misfire completely.

    Neonsnake’s example reminded me of a post Natalie and I offered long ago.

    – We all see how routinely lefties misunderstand our motives. Partly, they want to attribute vile motives to us. Partly, it is just confabulation: having no clue why we really dissent, they invent an explanation that can fit inside their minds.

    – We do it less, in part because we cannot live in a bubble. But we sometimes do it.

    Runcie’s picture of a disabled advocate who would vent their envious hatred by crippling others is not empty. From its beginning, the crowd that make up the PC have included the slaves of envy. But neonsnake’s example of ‘Mark from purchasing” is also far from empty.

    I’m with Hayek: Justice is social by definition; putting the adjective ‘social’ before it is a meaningless confusion at best and a dishonest insinuation at worst. We should never applaud people for talking of ‘social justice’. But we should consider the real motives that may be uttered in such jargon, not least to be more persuasive in our replies.

  • Nullius in Verba

    And who was it who said…?

    “Society should treat all equally well who have deserved equally well of it, that is, who have deserved equally well absolutely. This is the highest abstract standard of social and distributive justice; towards which all institutions, and the efforts of all virtuous citizens, should be made in the utmost degree to converge.”

    It’s like the word “liberal”, likewise co-opted by the left. Should people be applauded for talk of being liberal?

    Don’t let them steal all the good labels!

  • neonsnake

    Nullius in Verba

    Why would you think only politicians can be authoritarian?

    Argh. Yes, you’re right. My “ie.” should have been “eg.” (and even then, you would still have had a point)

    Niall Kilmartin

    The link to “Brian Micklethwait’s post about projection” is broken – I don’t know how necessary it is to understand the post that you yourself have linked to.

    Can I assume that the meat of it is summarised with this quote: “With anyone fairer, understand what they believe and the reasons why they do.”?

    My own feeling is that there are far, far more “Marks from purchasing”, whose motives are compassion for others, than there are “knee-capping maniacs”. I believe that when our friend “Mark” says that he’s left-wing, what he means is that he wants a world where the worst-off are still able to live with a modicum of dignity. I think if you asked him whether he believes that the state should own the means of production, then he’d turn quite pale…

    And that’s mainly what I’m getting at – that there’s less knee-cappers, and more people like Mark, and that we should approach most arguments from that angle.

    I’m with Hayek: Justice is social by definition; putting the adjective ‘social’ before it is a meaningless confusion at best and a dishonest insinuation at worst.

    I’m going to mull that over, I think it’s probably a fair criticism. For now, I’ll offer a qualified defense of my usage upthread in that it made it obvious what I was talking about 🙂

    you can only really have equality of opportunity and if they were Social Opportunity Defenders I could applaud that because at least it is realistically achievable.

    I agree with the sentiment, there’s something in “Social Opportunity Defenders” – however, I don’t know if you’re from the UK or not, but calling them “those SODs on the left” over here isn’t going to help their cause… 🙂

  • Julie near Chicago

    neonsnake, link works fine for me.

    https://www.samizdata.net/2010/12/a-reply-to-bria/

  • neonsnake

    Thanks Julie, I can get to that post, but within Niall’s post there’s a link to a post by Brian Micklethwait that seems to be broken.

    I don’t think it matters, it was more a curiosity, as I rediscovered Samizdata via one of Brian’s posts about a singer I like and had just seen in concert 🙂

  • neonsnake (April 14, 2019 at 2:41 pm), thanks for alerting me to the bit-rot in my old post. I have now remedied it – the link in that post takes you to Brian’s post.

    A number of old posts on samizdata seem to have bit-rot. A post of Natalie’s and mine back in 2012 got an instalanche. The instapundit link was valid at the time, but I chanced to observe some years later that instapundit’s link to it was no longer valid.

  • neonsnake

    Obliged.

    I’ll properly read it later on, I’ve only skimmed and not read the comments.

    Snap thought – you really don’t have a lot of non-straight people on this blog, do you? 😀

  • Julie near Chicago

    neon,

    Perhaps it’s rather as Bill Whittle says at the end of this story, at

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deX9l2TVCto .

    Mr. Whittle and a bunch of (mostly) conservatives in Oxnard, Calif., were attending a stand-up performance by comedian Dave Rubin, who also hosts the popular UT interview program “The Rubin Report.” He tells us:

    .

    Dave Rubin’s openly gay and the room’s full of Conservatives. So Dave says, “You may or may not have heard this, but I’m gay.”

    There was a pause. Then he said, “This is the only audience I’ve ever played to where nobody applauded for that.”

    Whereupon Mr. Whittle thought, “And nobody booed it either. It just doesn’t matter much to us, really.”

  • neonsnake

    Whereupon Mr. Whittle thought, “And nobody booed it either. It just doesn’t matter much to us, really.”

    Largely feels that way here, Julie; I was just amused by the repressed heterosexual/homosexuals in the linked posts, and subsequent discussion thereof.

    More seriously and back on topic, something that struck me in the comments was a sense of people trying to draw their own red lines, that a purist Libertarianism would probably not work, or more accurately would be so difficult to reach from here that initial compromises would have to be made. That strikes me as accurate and reasonable; I feel that we may have reached a tipping point where we can reach out to my hypothetical nice chap from Purchase Ledger and offer him something to get him thinking – if we do it in a pragmatic way and don’t scare him off.

  • So Dave says, “You may or may not have heard this, but I’m gay.” There was a pause.

    Maybe they were waiting politely for the punch-line.

    A bit like not clapping between movements at a classical music performance.

    Best regards

  • Paul Marks

    S.M. has a point – the establishment elite do not care what ordinary people think, and they ignore both elections and referendums when the result does not suit them.

    The “liberal” establishment elite are like Louis XIV the “Sun King” – they seek unlimited and absolute power, total control over the lives of ordinary people.

    Choose what everyone must believe (or not believe) in religion? What a wonderful idea!

    Insist that every trader and manufacturer must pass a government examination before engaging in trade or in a craft? Again wonderful – make the ordinary people CRAWL!

    This is now “liberalism” – the exact opposite of its start as the Laissez Faire opposition to the policies of the “Sun King”.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    “The “liberal” establishment elite are like Louis XIV the “Sun King” – they seek unlimited and absolute power, total control over the lives of ordinary people.“

    Not exactly. A divine-right absolute monarch thought to possess absolute power does not need to meddle in the affairs of the people more and more continuously in order to assert his sovereignty. Government is partly a sociological phenomenon and a government that’s not justified by right of birth must be justified by right of action.

    Obviously there have been terrible monarchs and anecdotal evidence is very effective in reinforcing the biases against monarchy that Paul Marks and mostly everyone here learned when they were kids long long before they knew what “Whig History” means.

    In democracy the establishment must continuously find new rights to defend, new justice to promulgate, new ideas to advocate in order to justify their rule.

    Human caused global warming, feminism, transsexual rights, gay rights, “no human is illegal”, economic migrant rights, Keynesian economics, gay rights, it goes on and on ad nauseous. Why? Because the Left must justify its rule by action since it does not and cannot claim it’s right to rule by birth.

    King George never would have dreamt of taxing the Americans even a fraction of what American government taxes its “free citizens” now.

    Where right of birth is absent, right of action will fill the void and libertarianism is a prescription for minimal state action, which is why it inevitably loses in every democracy since Plato – and before Plato.

    I’m not saying all this for Paul Marks benefit because nobody was argued out of a position they weren’t argued into. The emotional, dogmatic, reflexive aversion modern people have to monarchy is the sign of a healthy culture and subscription to a set of ideas (“limited government” “representative government” “constitutional limits on federal power” etc) that require no empirical evidence for the masses like Paul Marks to believe in them.

    Paul Marks continues to blame Brexit failing on the leaders of the UK. Unfortunately he doesn’t understand why it is that people generally get the government they deserve. The limits of knowledge are those of its nature. Indeed.

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