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Samizdata quote of the day – our right are extremely alienable

We are forever changed. The British people, along with the populations of many American states such as New York and California, have henceforth to live with the fact that civil liberties we Yanks call ‘inalienable’ can be cancelled at a moment’s notice for years on end. Our ‘rights’ are alienable as can be. We’re often warned that democracy is fragile. Lo, that turns out to be horribly true.

Lionel Shriver

11 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – our right are extremely alienable

  • bobby b

    Rights are aspirational. They are common views of our entitlements held simply by dint of being human. The aspirations cannot be denied – those are inalienable – but their exercise can be denied to us. In the face of tyranny, we still believe we should be so entitled, even when we cannot enjoy those entitlements.

    The only way to alienate those rights would be to cause us to stop aspiring to enjoy them. We haven’t reached that point. I suspect we’ll try to kill the tyrants first.

    It’s going to be an interesting decade.

  • Steven R

    Well, duh.

    The only way to actually secure our rights is to be ready, willing, and able to shoot government officials in the face, and we in the West are far too civilized to do that. We have excuses why we just can’t: the courts will protect our rights, it’ll look bad in the media, I have to work, who will look after my family, I’m afraid of the repercussions, the government is too powerful, etc.

    It isn’t going to change until enough government officials are in fear of their very lives to enact laws or enforce them and that isn’t going to be the case until enough normal people have had enough to start stacking bureaucrat and politician bodies to make the point. And there aren’t that many people willing to do that right now.

    And no, Mr. Government Agent, I’m not advocating violence.

  • Fred Z

    The tree of liberty is thirsty.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    The only way to alienate those rights would be to cause us to stop aspiring to enjoy them. We haven’t reached that point.

    Who is “us”? You and me and the denizens of this web site, perhaps. The general American (and even worse British) population? I offer as evidence the last election where large amounts of he American population voted for a senile moron who never left his basement, and the one that kills me is what happened in PA. Why because they thought the other guy was mean. And what about that other guys supporters? He said if he was caught in the act of murder in downtown New York his voters would still vote for him, and he is probably right. All measure of rights has fallen away entirely under the banner of identity politics and cult of personality. The left are worse, but the right aren’t actually all that much better.

    Climate change caused a lot of people to abandon their ideas of free speech, free association and the right to use their property as they saw fit. Not on the right though, broadly speaking. However, Covid? That sent them over the edge so everyone traded in their rights for an illusion of safety.

    As I have said here before, in the past the problem was evil politicians, but politicians have always been evil. Now the problem that the people are stupid, and in many cases worse than stupid. That’s not something elections fix, it is something elections amplify.

  • TMLutas

    On the US side of the Atlantic, the problem stems from a lazy Congress not laying out what a republican form of government is. NYC has, for example, been under a partial state of emergency since the 1940s. Normal government, respectful of rights, has been trashed for decades and we’ve had dozens of Congresses that did nothing about it.

  • bobby b

    Fraser Orr
    March 11, 2023 at 3:36 am

    “Who is “us”? You and me and the denizens of this web site, perhaps.”

    If I were in Minnesota fulltime, like you’re (I think, maybe) in the Chicago area fulltime (or at least in big-city America), I’d view “us” as you do – tiny, powerless. Where I am now, I’m surrounded by thousands of rather strident conservatives. Even the pink-haired tend to be conservative.

    Anytime I get out of a major metro area, I run into this. We really are two distinct countries with poor border definition. The Electoral College is our friend.

    Doing six months amongst the normies acts as a nice counter to six months among the Minnies. I end up, I think, more optimistic then you. I leave MN and it takes me a few weeks just to stop being depressed. We’ve been losing, yeah, but not by much. We’re still in it, and every day of the Biden Bunch ultimately helps us get that extra four or five percent we need.

  • Paul Marks

    There are two different issues here – Civil Liberties and democracy. They are most certainly not the same thing.

    Not all of those 81 million votes that Biden/Harris got were fake – many millions of them were real, he almost certainly won States such as California. And the people of California have twice (once in the recall – and then again in November) re elected Governor Gavin Newsom – a person with a fanatical hatred of Civil Liberties, Mr Newsom (Governor Newsom) believes that government should be totally unlimited (not just on Covid – on everything), and most Californians clearly agree with him – so he is a democrat (small d) as well as a Democrat (big D). The indoctrination of Californians by the education system and the media is extreme – so it appears that the old “Red Neck” attitude of “teach your children yourself, not have the schools teach them lies – and have them learn to hunt and fish rather than stare at the television set” was not so “ignorant” after all.

    As for the United Kingdom – only a small minority of people opposed the Covid lockdown. The indoctrination, both by the media and by government “Nudge” units, was very successful – perhaps because most people had no strong commitment to liberty in the first place.

    If people have strong, well thought out, beliefs – then even Colonel Tobias Ellwood (MP) and his 77th Brigade, would have trouble conditioning (“brainwashing”) them – but do the majority of people have strong, well thought out, pro liberty beliefs?

    I return to the example of California – the terrible harm that unlimited government does is all around the voters, and the lies of the education system and media are brutally exposed (by everything from the homeless on the streets, to the snow and rain) – yet most people are so conditioned (“brainwashed”) that they continue to support the extermination of what is left of liberty.

  • Paul Marks

    Part of the problem is that most people, when they hear the term “brainwashing”, think of the character of “Harry Palmer” (played by Michael Caine) in “The Ipcress File”, or “The Tantalus Chair” in “Star Trek” – in reality conditioning (“brainwashing”) is nothing like that.

    Real “brainwashing” is much more ordinary and nondramatic – it is, for example, the FBI (in reality a brutal and corrupt political secret police force) being endlessly shown, in television shows and films, as “the good guys” – people see this (again, and again and again) from their youngest years – so when they are told that the FBI is a political secret police force (which it is – that is just a description of what it is) they reject this – because it goes against what they have been shown (again and again and again…..) in endless films and television shows – and taught at school and so on.

    So when someone has a rifle shoved in their face by brutal thugs who have been sent to your home because powerful people do not like your political or cultural opinions (and so wish to pretend you have committed some sort of crime – and after you find yourself in the clutches of the Federal “Justice” system you will find the pressure to “make a deal” and confess to something, overwhelming) their first thoughts may well be “if only the FBI would come and save me”.

    “if only the FBI would come and save me” when the armoured thugs shoving rifles in your face, and in the faces of your wife and children, are-the-FBI.

    Yes people do have free will (moral agency) they can break free of the conditioning – but it takes great effort, and involves a lot of pain (mental pain – but pain nevertheless).

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly L. Shriver spoils her article by, at the end, sneering at the belief that the 2020 American Presidential election was rigged – it was rigged in some States (Mr Shriver can call this “the Big Lie” as much as he likes – it remains the truth) and the failure to do anything about the rigging, for example the tidal wave of “mail-in-ballots” means that it was repeated, in some States in 2022.

    I am reminded of the Wall Street Journal sneering at people who said that the 2022 Arizona Governor election was rigged – when the people watched the election being rigged (it was done blatantly – out in the open).

    The “Controlled Opposition” insist they believe in free markets and liberty generally – but if they are willing to tolerant rigged elections (indeed if they sneer at people who object to rigged elections) they are as useful as a chocolate teapot.

  • Slartibartfarst

    @Paul Marks

    “…they are as useful as a chocolate teapot.”

    I was struck by your comment because it made me recall the time I had a coffee at a bakery and cafe in Auckland, New Zealand, (“Little Tasmania” as it is sometimes called) in a street named Karangahape Rd. (aka “K’Rd.”).

    The bakery is called “Pie Fee” and is run by an enterprising Cambodian baker and his family. They make some really good food and the most delicious dark brown crusty sourdough I have ever tasted – tastes sooo good, the dial goes up to 11.

    If you ask for a “Pie Fee” they bring you a fresh cup of coffee in a rigid pastry cup that has been lined with a thick coat of melted (and cooled) dark chocolate.

    One feels like one is in a race against time to drink the coffee before meltdown and the cup collapses, but that hasn’t happened to me yet. The blend of coffee and chocolate is yummy, and when the coffee has all been drunk, you get to eat the cup (also yummy), so it’s environmentally sound…

    The baker has won awards for his imaginative cuisine in the cafe.

    Next time I go there, I’ll ask the baker if he’s ever considered the idea of a chocolate teapot.
    Intuitively, one feels it would never work, but…

    “Stranger things have happened at sea”
    ~ Confucius.

  • Paul Marks

    Slartibartfarst – I stand corrected Sir.

    The Controlled Opposition (the people who oppose the left till things get tough – and then stab real opponents of the left in the back, by denouncing us as “Conspiracy Theorists” pushing a “Big Lie”) are much LESS useful than a chocolate teapot.

    Indeed if it was a coffee pot (rather than a tea pot) I would be interested – chocolate flavoured coffee might be interesting.

    Although normally I like coffee plain – as dark and bitter as my soul.

    I wish that Cambodian baker well, and his family to.

    Long may that bakery and cafe be in the family – down the generations.