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A libertarian view

Jane Galt–A Libertarian View « Beetle Blogger.

On the face of it, the linked post (referencing a rather elderly one, by a now-lapsed blogger) is about the fundamentally uninteresting (to me) question of "gay marriage." In truth, it is about the second most important law, which is that of unintended consequences. Reformers who tinker with long-established institutions often cause devastating changes, far more important than those they intended.

The piece was flagged up (off-topic) by "Libertarian Thought" in the comments to my last post. Normally I find such comments annoying, but in this case I am genuinely grateful. In particular, I enjoyed the following quotation from GK Chesterton;

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease.

Do please follow the link. It may make you think unaccustomed thoughts.

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