THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Three cheers for the fighting Irish
The psychology of a libertarian

'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.