THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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January 2008

The psychology of a libertarian

Sometimes I worry that my personal response to state power is a matter of psychology, not reason. My parents were strict. Though essentially a charming and well-behaved boy, I spent my childhood always “in the wrong.” It was meant kindly, of course, but independence came as a relief. I set out on adult life determined that no-one would tell me what to do again. Faced with anyone who tries to put himself in loco parentis, my reactions can be fierce.

The present government certainly seems to see itself as a substitute parent. It expresses concerns about our health, suggests we don’t know how to bring up our children and - as if we were teenagers living at home - takes a large slice of our money to spend in ways we would never have chosen.

Our health and welfare are simply not their business. How anyone can be such a lack-brained, pusillanimous milksop as to think that they are? I can understand the politicians who seek power rather better than the craven individuals who meekly submit to it. I have known many a weak individual overcome his well-merited sense of personal inadequacy by bossing others about. But who the hell enjoys taking orders?

Perhaps the sons and daughters of milder parents respond differently to those professing concern for their health and well-being? Perhaps they are more inclined to welcome such attentions? I wish they weren’t. I can’t help feeling that if the statist thugs devising new laws and their lickspittles enforcing them were met, daily, with the same reaction from millions that they reliably encounter from me, our country would be a better place.

'Terror law plans to be unveiled'

Link: 'Terror law plans to be unveiled'.

For once the craven, useless BBC tells the truth, albeit inadvertently. These are indeed "terror laws." We should all be more afraid of them than we are of the hapless, if fanatical, incompetents of Al Qaeda who far more frequently blow themselves up and set themselves on fire than do us any serious harm. I travel by air almost every week and would willingly accept whatever slight risks might be involved reverting to pre-9/11 airport security. I know no frequent traveller who would not.

There are some elements of a free society which are far more important than democracy. Indeed democracy is no guarantee of a free society at all. You can democratically elect tyrants (e.g. Nazi Germany, present-day Iran, future Iraq and Pakistan). You can equally enjoy freedom without democracy, if your rulers are constrained by the rule of law. I would rather deal with past constitutional monarchies in England, than the unlimited quasi-republic of today. The intrusions into my life of state power would have been far less frequent and I really don't have any more influence over the choice of my rulers now than I would have had then. Rather, "legitimised" by their democratic mandate, my "democratic rulers" have ventured farther into my private life than any monarch would have safely dared.

The principal value of democracy is that it should - if functioning correctly - be a constraint on government power. Once democracy leads government to venture where it has no place, it ceases to be legitimate. Once it leads to 4.1 million idlers enslaving their fellow men by voting en bloc to have the omnipotent state steal one half of others' working lives to provide them with a sinecure income, it is no longer democracy, but a criminal conspiracy.

For me, habeas corpus is more important than the right to vote. The protection of my private property against theft or government confiscation is more important than the right to vote. My right to bear arms to protect my family from British criminals carrying an estimated 4 million firearms is more important than the right to vote.

So even if a majority of my fellow citizens believes, and expresses that belief through its democratic representatives, that the state should be able to hold me without trial and without charge for 42 days, I deny the state's right to do so. I am innocent until proven guilty.  The police should assemble their evidence before they arrest me, not while I am in custody. Even if it were not stupidly impractical (if I am guilty, all evidence will be destroyed as soon as my associates realise I have been arrested) it would not justify depriving me of my freedom without due process of law.

A free society does not involve mutual subjugation. History shows the majority to have been wrong more often than not on most points of importance, but that's not my point. Even if the majority was always right, it does not give it the right to impose its view. We are all in a minority on some point or another, and we are all unfree unless we can insist (to any point short of concrete harm to others) upon that point. A democracy is a matter of selecting a government to do the proper, limited tasks of government, not of choosing a tyrant.

The present government long since overstepped all limits of political decency. It seems to think itself our mother, our father and the sole arbiter of our welfare. Nor is HM Opposition doing its job properly.  I am disgusted by the tone of the debate on this subject. No party speaks from principle. All parties are making electoral judgments as to voters' perceived views on a non-existent trade-off between safety and freedom. They have no right to make those judgments.

That the majority of my countrymen may be idiots who think "it will not happen to me;" that they may be racists who think these powers will only be used (as the record suggests, by the way, may be true) against darker-skinned citizens of a particular faith; that they may be gutless ****s who would give up their freedoms rather than stand up for them like men, should not be my problem.

The continued demolition of our freedoms and our real human rights (as opposed to the ersatz versions promoted by our oppressors) will not reduce terrorism. It will legitimise and therefore increase it. I am a patriotic, law-abiding citizen, but I am not far from believing there to be  justification for the violent overthrow of the British State. Jefferson was right. There is no stable system of government which can secure liberty indefinitely. The present British Constitution is effete, decadent, worn-out and spent. As Jefferson said;

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. it is its natural food.

With a heavy heart, fellow-Britons, I suggest it will soon be time for some forestry.

Three cheers for the fighting Irish

Link: How three robbers fled after victim fought back - Telegraph.

This self-made, self-reliant gentleman (God bless him) is the human material for a great nation. Starting with £30 in his pocket, he has created wealth and jobs and kept his spirit, despite every depredation of the parasitical idlers and their political sponsors. I particularly enjoyed his observation (describing a life and death fight with three thugs that left him appallingly injured) that;

I have never used a weapon in my life and it was a great feeling.

All of us who fear the underclass criminal scum whose health and safety is guaranteed by the government's forced disarming of honest citizens can imagine that feeling very well. Good on him.

This whingeing loser complaining about a little political cut and thrust (after his own side has lied through its collective teeth and indulged in every conceivable dirty trick for a decade) is the precise opposite. He works in a newsagent's kiosk, once "helped run a coffee shop" and has manufactured nothing in his life but the envy which motivates him politically.

Which of them is more representative of modern England?

Gordon Brown's Black Wednesday | Anatole Kaletsky - Times Online

Link: Gordon Brown's Black Wednesday | Anatole Kaletsky - Times Online.

Anatole_kaletskyJust for once, the most trenchant political commentary of the day is not in the blogosphere. Anatole Kaletsky in The Times - for so long a propaganda organ for New Labour at the behest of its owner, the Dirty Digger - ripped Gordon Brown to shreds yesterday in the linked article.

Mrs Paine thinks this will all go over the voters' heads, but as Kaletsky says;

We all know about using our Mastercard to pay off the Visa debt.

Read the whole thing for a masterful summary of the Northern Rock debacle. In the meantime, here's a sample;

Mr Brown handed over the keys to the Treasury to Sir Richard Branson and Goldman Sachs, destroying in the process the entire economic and political framework that he created as Chancellor in 1997. With Britain's foreign policy still firmly in the hands of the White House and European policy managed from Brussels, it is hard to see why Mr Brown bothers to turn up to work.

Heady stuff. Or consider this;

...he has chosen the worst of all possible worlds, described by Vince Cable, of the Liberal Democrats, with his customary precision as “nationalisation of risks and losses, combined with privatisation of gains”. In effect, Mr Brown is offering £55 billion of public money to Sir Richard Branson and other shareholders in Northern Rock, whether present or future, with which to speculate on the housing market and the stock market. If these speculations work out, these private individuals will pocket 90 per cent or more of the profits. If the speculations fail (which is much more likely) taxpayers will bear the entire loss. Looting of public wealth on this scale has not been seen in Britain since the South Sea Bubble.

"Looting of public wealth" is a phrase you are more likely to read at blogs like Burning our Money or the Devil's Kitchen. Not that I dispute its use. Not at all. It is just surprising to read it in the mainstream media which has been so inadequate to date in dealing with the New Labour spin machine. This may finally signal the beginning of the end for the corrupt and (self-confessedly) incompetent bunch that currently rules us.

Leaving medicine

Link: NHS Blog Doctor: Leaving medicine.

Socialists will tell you that "boom and bust" is a capitalist phenomenon, but if you want real "feast or famine" try central planning. After sucking in foreign doctors for years, the UK's central planners girded up their loins and achieved a surplus of trained doctors. Over at NHS Blog Doctor (compulsory reading for anyone with the slightest interest in health care) newly-qualified doctors are complaining about having to leave their profession. Why? Because they cannot get jobs in Britain's system of socialised medicine. They have a qualification that families in other countries would spend many tens of thousands to acquire for their offspring and they are throwing it away.

Medical_symbolOn the other hand, whether or not you or your health insurer can afford to pay for private treatment, you almost certainly can't find a private General Practitioner (GP) in the UK outside London. Your health insurance (or wealth) can buy you private hospital treatment, but - as consultants insist on a referral - you must first go to your local Soviet Polyclinic health centre and see a State-funded GP.

These unemployed new doctors blistered their brains studying to qualify in a demanding profession. Outside Soviet Britain, it is perhaps the most respected and valued profession of all. If they don't want to cash in on their investment by emigrating, why don't they just "hang a shingle" and offer private services? It can be done.  Here's an example turned up by thirty seconds of googling.

One of many reasons I never expect to return to the UK is that - after experiencing excellent care from polite and courteous private doctors abroad - I could not face standing in line with bored pensioners filling their days, malingerers looking to be signed off work and others that I would cheerfully pay good money to avoid. All this, just to get five minutes with a GP who would probably not look up from his desk. Yet starting a private service to sell their hard-earned skills for profit simply does not occur to these bright young people.

They are gifted, intelligent and well-placed to serve their fellow man. Their potential for a satisfying, rewarding career is enormous. Yet they feel impotent in the face of state incompetence and bleat like unemployed dockers. Yes it's difficult to compete with "free" services. Yes most people will stand in line rather than pay. But in business you don't need everyone to be your customer; just enough people. A substantial minority would pay a premium for time, attention and courtesy. Why does that not occur to these talented, presumably highly-intelligent individuals?

The problem may be that in choosing medicine in the first place, they had already ruled out a life in business. Their most likely career path was into the socialised health service, so presumably that (to me) grim prospect was appealing? Perhaps they see themselves  as "caring" types and are snooty about "money-grubbing." Perhaps, in short, like so many in Britain, their spirits have been neutered by Socialist indoctrination.

It's such little things that tell you our civilisation is close to its end.

The banality of tyranny

Barbed_wireI am reading Imperium by the late Ryszard Kapuscinski. It is a collection of reportage about Kapuscinski’s journeys in the Soviet Union. I do not blog about Russia. I am a guest here and it would not be polite. The Soviet Union, however, is a different matter. Thanks to the courage of Lech Walesa, the integrity of Karol Wojtyla and the political skills of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, it is no more. Not to mention the key contribution of Socialism itself, which collapsed there (as it always must) under the weight of its economic idiocy.

Kapuscinksi, like all the best reporters, has a knack of shedding light by acute observation of  tangential fact. This passage (written in 1989) is an example:

...the surface of the Imperium measures more than twenty-two million square kilometres, and its continental borders are longer than the equator and stretch for forty-two thousand kilometres.

Keeping in mind that wherever it is technically possible, these borders were and are marked with thick coils of barbed wire ... and that this wire, because of the dreadful climate, quickly deteriorates and therefore must often be replaced across hundreds, no thousands, of kilometres, one can assume that a significant proportion of the Soviet metallurgical industry is devoted to producing barbed wire.

For the matter does not end with the wiring of borders! How many thousands of kilometres of wire were used to fence in the gulag archipelago? Those hundreds of camps, staging points, and prisons scattered through the territory of the entire Imperium!

How many thousands more kilometres were swallowed up for the wiring of artillery, tank and atomic ranges? And the wiring of barracks? ...                                                             

If one were to multiply all this by the number of years the Soviet government has been in existence, it would be easy to see why, in the shops of Smolensk or Omsk, one can buy neither a hoe nor a hammer, never mind a knife or a spoon, such things could simply not be produced, since the necessary raw materials were used up in the manufacture of barbed wire.

And that is still not the end of it! After all, tons of this wire had to be transported by ships, railroad, helicopters, camels, dog teams, to the farthest, most inaccessible corners of the Imperium, and then it all had to be unloaded, uncoiled, cut, fastened.

It is easy to imagine those unending telephone, telegraphic and postal reminders issued by the commanders of the border guards, the commanders of the gulag camps, and prison directors following up on their requisitions for more tons of barbed wire, the pains they would take to build up a reserve supply of this wire in case of a shortage in the central warehouses.  And it is equally easy to imagine those thousands of commissions and control teams dispatched across the entire territory of the Imperium to make certain that everything is properly enclosed, that the fences are high and thick enough, so meticulously entangled and woven that even a mouse cannot squeeze through.  It is also easy to imagine telephone calls from officials in Moscow to their subordinates in the field, telephone calls characterised by a constant and vigilant concern expressed in the question “Are you all really properly wired in?”

As I imagined so many engaged in banal tasks of oppression, I remembered sitting before an archivist at the museum in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) at the side of a Jewish friend. Before us lay typed documents, which the archivist had found. On them was the name of one of my friend’s relatives; a woman whose fate had been unknown. She had been taken by train from Berlin to Auschwitz. There was no record of her admission to the camp, which suggests she was selected for immediate gassing. She was young and strong and - by the evil logic of the National Socialists - could have been usefully worked to death. On the banal document was the likely reason why that had not happened; the name of her infant daughter, of whom my friend’s family had not known. A baby could neither be enslaved, nor marched to the gas chamber alone. And so her mother had to carry her to both their deaths.

I remember focussing on the neatness of the typed documents. I had a mental image of a secretary in Berlin, sitting erect at a typewriter, carefully preparing a list of fellow-humans to be transported to their deaths. What went through her mind as she put on her coat to walk home that night? Had you asked her, she would probably have said she was doing important work for the greater good of her country, “the Reich” or some other political abstraction. The Soviet factory workers making barbed wire would probably have given similar answers. I am certain they no more thought of prisoners suffering and dying in the gulag, than my imagined secretary thought of a murdered child dying in her mother’s arms.

They say “the Devil is in the details.” Sometimes, so is God. Statists, Socialists, right-wing paternalists - all those who think of humanity in terms of classes, races and masses - need constantly to be confronted with such stories and images. They claim to love humanity; everything they do is for “Society” or “the greater good.”  These are the merest of abstractions. A good human loves and cares for other humans around him; for actual, individual specimens with all their faults and weaknesses.

Next time you hear an appealing abstraction weighed against the interests of an individual or a family, please picture a man making barbed wire to imprison his uncle or my neat little secretary typing a death list. They served abstractions too.

Alex cartoon.Telegraph

Link: Alex cartoon.Telegraph.

Alex_2 I always start my business day by looking at the Alex cartoon in the Daily Telegraph. It encapsulates life in the City of London. Even though based offshore, I still regard myself as a City lawyer. When a Labour minister said over lunch at our Embassy in Warsaw that the assembled businessfolk were all "representatives of Britain", I commented that I represented only one square mile of it.

To the puzzlement of Russian colleagues, I am following the City tradition of forswearing alcohol in January. These days it's known as detox. As you see, Alex (click to enlarge) is not doing quite so well.

Why are we all doing this?

I am more than slightly surprised to score the same as Bag (to whom a tip of the virtual hat). Although he has discarded his beard and sandals for a metaphorical white collar now, he is much more the real techie than me - a mere wannabe. I fear he may have a better approximation to a life. Although, thinking about it, I can't remember when I last logged on to Second Life without noticing he was there...

As for our diabolical friend, I really don't know what to say. If you are "ueber cool", dear boy, you are emphatically NOT a nerd. You may perhaps be in the wrong line of business. Maybe that's why you say you are better at blogging than earning a living? says I'm a Slightly Dorky Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Everyone to be fitted with zips?

The_british_way_of_death Link: The Daily Mash - EVERYONE TO BE FITTED WITH A ZIP.

I have so busy coughing and spluttering in apoplectic indignation at the proposal to nationalise English corpses that I have not found time to blog about it. Now that the ever-brilliant Daily Mash has published the linked article, to do so would be redundant.

Why do I say "English", not "British" corpses? Because state body-snatching is a devolved function apparently, so Welsh and Scots corpses will not be rifled without their prior consent. I don't doubt that harvested English organs will find their way into their better-funded hospitals though, so they can continue to live off us even after we die.

I would not fancy my chances in an NHS hospital if my kidney would save the life of a Cabinet Minister or a member of his family. Mind you, like many a better expert than myself, I would not fancy my chances in an NHS hospital anyway.

English people may not typically be religious, but they clearly do not regard the remains of their dear departed family members as mere trash. If they did, they would not spend £1.3 billion a year on lovingly disposing of them. Our Prime Minister, whose remains I would cheerfully recycle as a dance floor were it not for my concern for his family's feelings, takes a more utilitarian view of the Anglo-Saxon stiff.

Now that Labour has identified your loved ones body parts as material for recycling how long before they start charging you to take them away? How long after that before they want to micro-chip the moribund, to make sure their bits are lawfully disposed of? It is on days like this that I wish I were a swear-blogger.