THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Lost wisdom

Libertarians, no matter how they may conduct themselves in private, are subjected to the blanket accusation of selfishness by their political opponents. Now-conventional thinking contrasts them unfavourably with left-liberals who "care" so very noisily when there is anyone about to take note. On this subject, in De Profundis, Oscar Wilde offered this interesting observation:-

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes them to live. And unselfishness is letting other people's lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one's neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he?

Quite. Nominations in the comments section please for the most selfish person in Britain judged by this wise standard*.

*Not Harriet Harman, please. There is nothing more tedious than the obvious.


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Angry Exile

A lot of the good ones have been taken already but surely George Monbiot and James Lovelock deserve nominations.


...and of course he had the excuse of not having witnessed a century of poverty, famine and murder brought about by attempts to implement such a superficially-appealing scheme. Modern socialists have no such excuse.

Bill Sticker

You may be right about Wilde's early years. Although having re read 'De Profundis' recently, I'd be inclined to posit that prison brought a sea change within him.

As for him arguing for the abolition of private property? I'd be inclined to observe that no-one is correct about everything all the time.


Preaching to the converted here, Tom.

Suboptimal Planet

Thanks for the pointer, Bill.

From what I can gather, Wilde was inclined towards anarchism, but not the capitalist sort.

With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism

Still, the bit that Tom quoted is spot on.

Bill Sticker

Er.. I think you'll find the quotation in question is from Wilde's Fortnightly review piece 'the soul of man under socialism', not De Profundis. See this web site. Still very apposite. Good choice and very telling.


Now that the wretched Liam Donaldson is soiling pastures new, Professor Sir Ian Poxy Gilmore fits the description to a tee.

Oh.... and that dreadful woman from BRAKE. Mary Williams who turned a bereavement (caused by a poorly maintained set of brakes) into a career hectoring motorist.






Excluding the denizens of the House of Commons on the grounds that it's too muck like shooting fish in a barrel, I nominate Don Shenker of "Alcohol Concern" with Deborah Arnott from "ASH" "coming up on the rails".

Andrew Duffin


Peter Whale

Chris Huhne, Mindless and selfish, fits both categories perfectly.

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