Goodbye and good luck
Saturday, March 29, 2014
You cannot, as the man said, step in the same river twice. I was away from Britain for 20 years. The Britain I returned to was not the Britain I left. Even though I had visited often, kept in touch with friends and family and followed political developments assiduously while living abroad, it had changed in ways I had not grasped. Perhaps, to be fair, I had changed too.
To me, it now seems a strange, immoral place. For example, I read articles in The Guardian and The Times this week about the abolition of inherited wealth. The Economist also recently wrote about it. It did not even occur to any of these columnists that they were talking about the property of others. They did not create it. They did not inherit it. They have no just claim to it. Yet they have no moral concerns about proposing its seizure.
The vast majority of my fellow-citizens now have no ethical qualms about seizing any property that takes their fancy, as long as (with the exception of a few open criminals whose courage seems almost noble by comparison) they don't have to be violent themselves. Unlike their braver brothers, these cowardly thieves have outsourced their envy, greed and lust for violence to a state now seen as moral no matter what it does.
Political parties have dwindled, churches have lost all significance, charities have been subverted and institutions of "learning" are devoted to distortion. From all sides lobbyists demand that others work to fund their desires (and pay their wages to express them). The arts suckle at the state's teat and express little beyond a desire for "free" milk.
State might is now the only definition of what is right in Britain and democracy has nothing much to do with it. If a government were elected on a promise surgically to shorten the legs of the over tall, de-blubber the over-fat and euthanise the unduly long-lived would that justify those assaults and killings? Of course not. A mere majority vote cannot make wrongs right. This is no less true for robbery and enslavement than it is for battery or murder.
Until nationalisation at home and Communism abroad failed miserably, my fellow-Britons were - more or less - socialists. They now seem to be - more or less - fascists. They are content to leave capital with private individuals, provided that its use is directed (and its continued ownership licensed) by state power. Property rights now exist only at the whim of a state within which is all, outside which is nothing and which no-one can effectively oppose.
This is actual, not pejorative, fascism. It is clear that Britons now care far more about the elimination of "inequality" than they do about efficiency, justice or freedom. Day by day they make consistent choices to that effect. If I stay here, I must accept that my life is for others to direct in every key respect. I am free to choose only unless and until the state chooses "better" for me.
I have tried to make these points both here and face to face with people I meet in my everyday life. All I have achieved is an outward reputation for eccentricity and a powerful inward sense of alienation. As the next General Election approaches offering me no moral choices it is time, alas, to accept defeat.
Everything I might still want to say to you has been said better in this book and this one. I am wasting your time writing anything more than this heartfelt recommendation to read them.
Goodbye and good luck.
Uh... ok then.
As long as you are aware that neither the above or anything much else you've produced has any relation to a reasoned argument, I suppose that's fine.
Watch out for those bandits, man.
Posted by: Mark | Friday, April 04, 2014 at 01:15 PM
You show no sign of flagging with yours at any rate. It has survived the cull in my RSS feed and I look forward to enjoying your trenchant views for many years to come. Thank you.
Posted by: Tom | Friday, April 04, 2014 at 10:39 AM
You are using some different definition of honest, I think. Also, given your hackneyed ideas, a very different definition of "thinking". Bitching about your underachievement and shouting demands for others to support you in idleness does not constitute an argument, Mark. It has been more like a sustained tantrum, which I have encouraged mainly to allow you to support my arguments by displaying every negative trait of the modern Welfare Statist.
You hate your job, we get it. I have employed many people in my time, most of whom are still supporting their families from businesses I helped create. I would never, ever employ anyone with the attitude you have displayed here. If our dialogue had been a job interview, I would assess you as a sneering, sarcastic underminer of every initiative, a dodger of every work burden and the person most likely to piss off a customer. If I am in any way typical of employers, that might explain your situation quite adequately without any need for theories about the evils of capitalism.. I suspect that under communism you would not merely be sidelined but shot, so perhaps you ought to be happy with the status quo. :-)
The world does not need to be remade to elevate the likes of you, Mark. You need to remake yourself to suit the world. Retrain. Get a job you enjoy. Earn a sense of satisfaction with your life and stop whinging like a spoiled brat.
Posted by: Tom | Friday, April 04, 2014 at 09:43 AM
Thank you. I appreciate that assurance!
Posted by: Tom | Friday, April 04, 2014 at 09:09 AM
I'm rather dissapointed that I couldn't get you to argue honestly - that would require you to actually think about what you are saying. I dare say you have too much invested in your opinions to question them now... so yes... you were just (eloquently) shouting about your prejudices. Probably not healthy.
By the way the above comment is a serious/sarcastic suggestion. Try thinking rather than shouting and if you have some thoughts worth expressing, share them.
Posted by: Mark | Friday, April 04, 2014 at 01:16 AM
Thanks for all your work, I often read you, though have not commented. I am in full sympathy with your view of things, and though I no longer expect to convince people, I do continue to say what I think. I think there is some importance in holding to values, so let's do that. But you must only do what seems worthwhile, and therefore gives you pleasure. I do assure you though, that you have not wasted my time.
Posted by: Stephen Fox | Thursday, April 03, 2014 at 05:18 PM
I have pretty much drifted away from the political blogosphere over the last couple of years - but in the days when I did read, The Last Ditch was my favorite political blog.
I tried my hand at political blogging for a few years, grew weary, and gave up - and so have many others.
Sorry to see this one coming to an end as well, but I do want to thank you for the encouragement that this blog gave me.
Tom, your final post is, I think, an excellent one to go out on. The big issue is morality. And, while our political culture was immoral in my youth in the 1960s and 70s, it seems to me to be even more immoral today.
The battle is a lonely one - which is why I still find inspiration in the words of Tom Woods: "In a world of cowards, stick to your principles. In a sea of lies, tell the truth. Into the darkness, shine a light."
Posted by: Young Mr. Brown | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 09:54 PM
Thanks. I will journey the world as it is not as I would wish it to be. At least I can now give it a proper wheeling.
Posted by: Tom | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 08:19 PM
Thank you for 9 great years of political blogging from a Classical Liberal perspective Tom.
I will miss your commentary.
Best of luck with the travel blog, I'm sure that too will be enjoyable, just not setting the world on a proper footing :o)
Posted by: Rick Lowe | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 01:26 PM
My "fascist" remark was perhaps ill-judged and has certainly turned off many who might otherwise have agreed with my final political sentiment. Calling names is not often persuasive, even when they are accurate.
I was quietly referencing Mussolini's famous definition of "All within the state. Nothing outside the state. Nothing against the state". As far as I can tell, most British people now seem to accept that the state may intervene in any aspect of their lives (and SHOULD intervene in the lives of their irritating neighbours) so in that sense all is within the state.
The people of what the Americans call "the Great Generation" would be astonished, I think, at the extent to which British government officials (not just ministers, civil servants and the American NSA stooges at GCHQ, but the Chief Medical Officer, social services or other local authority people) feel entitled to direct our everyday living. The word "unregulated" has come simply to mean "bad" and is said by BBC announcers or written by MSM journalists with a sneer as if anything not sanitised by state control is unfit.
The second part was tautology anyway; Mussolini in pursuit of a Ciceronian triplet (which makes him sound like Berlusconi). "Nothing outside the state" might still be an overstatement but if new laws continue to spawn at the rate the people seem to want (at least the Metropolitan set amongst which I move - in fairness my provincial relatives are less keen) then it will a fair assessment quite soon.
Posted by: Tom | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 09:53 AM
I may be giving up my cyber-home, but it seems I never needed it anyway. Thank you for that kind offer. If the fierce political muse returns, I shall bear it in mind.
Posted by: Tom | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 09:48 AM
I intend to. Thanks!
Posted by: Tom | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 09:46 AM
Wow. I would like that as my epitaph. "He weaponised the English language". I am, unusually, not a Churchill fan and comparisons to the greatest Englishman of all, Shakespeare - whom I revere - raise only a wry smile. You are far far too kind, but thank you anyway.
Posted by: Tom | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 09:46 AM
I do take comfort from the fact that my provincial relatives are less keen on the new order than the metropolitans amongst whom I now live. I should visit them more often to stay optimistic!
Posted by: Tom | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 09:42 AM
Haste ye back.
Posted by: Yvonne Leach | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 08:45 AM
I'm really sorry you're giving up political blogging. I've really enjoyed what you've written over the last few years and I hope you'll accept Perry de Havilland's offer to appear occasionally on Samizdata.
More generally, I think you're right: the British love statism. I see the current era as a dark age for libertarianism but stick with it anyway. I talk about it to anyone who will listen in the hope its ideas will take root one day - although I fear that day is far off.
In the meantime, all the very best with your new ventures.
Posted by: Schrodinger's Dog | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 04:43 AM
My conclusion is rather that economy teaches us that most (or all) people cannot be expected to have insightful opinions about large systems. Therefore we cannot expect people to have sane political opinions just like we do not expect most people to have a clue about how to operate Apple or BP profitably. This means that the problem is not that people are totalitarian fascists but rather that their opinion matters or that we consider it to have an impact on the political system.
Posted by: Thor | Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 12:48 AM
Yes I have used the tilt/shift but not as much as I would like. I tend to go out with only one or two lenses and it's heavy and only really useful with a tripod anyway. It would have been handy in that French village shot.
Posted by: Tom | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 09:13 PM
PS: Beautiful car.
Carry on enjoying her.
Posted by: David Davis | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 08:45 PM
You can now see how many many people read you regularly.
So long as we know you're out there somewhere, it's all right.
Posted by: David Davis | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 08:42 PM
Nine years is a long time. You'd have got several bars to your DSO by now....even one or two MCs from posts of yours I recall specially.
Like Perry says re Samizdata, if you'd like an occasional spot on the LA blog - just for when the fancy takes you to say something, then just email or facebook me or Sean Gabb privately.
Posted by: David Davis | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 08:42 PM
Tom your prose is always powerful, expressive, taut and - like Churchill or Shakespeare even sometimes - weaponizes the English language. We all hope you'll come back into this battle, but only if you feel like it.
Posted by: David Davis | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 08:38 PM
That's good. Hope you also get round to enjoying a less intellectuo-philosphically-stressed life....
I bet you 5p Tom old man, that we'll see you back On Board in some form, sooner or later! If not, have it as a keepsake for individual liberty.
Posted by: David Davis | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 08:35 PM
Glad to hear that jovial is dialled up to level 11. I see you are still trying to engage me in political commentary-old habits die hard, so allow me one last kick at the cat-the conservatives are hopeless, British politics need a new party somewhat like the Reform Party achieved in Canada, camoron is worse than useless.
Nice site, crisp and clear, look forward to your future efforts, did you ever give the anti-parallax lens (for want of a better description) a work-out?
Stay away from tweeters, etc etc, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.-Is not that what Bob Dylan said?
Posted by: Cascadian | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 08:24 PM
No, I don't.
I do expect a Parliament more responsive to the electorate (e.g. the Syria debacle, also they'll mainly be sitting on reduced majorities) and a government which cannot afford to do much intervening.
The British will eventually wake up- they did in 1979, it just took 34 years to get there!
Anyway, I put this in the political blog as your new blog should start off without politics!
Posted by: MickC | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 08:04 PM
Thanks, David. We all owe you thanks for your persistence. Just to be clear though, I am not depressed. I am happy about my own life and that of my family and friends. I know that, overall, I am a lucky man and I am enjoying my life mindfully and thoroughly. This, despite my pessimism about Britain's current political and economic path and concern about the future for my daughters.
Posted by: Tom | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 03:15 PM
Yes, the blog will still be here. Please feel free to link to and quote any of the posts.
Posted by: Tom | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 03:14 PM
Tom, will your blog be staying up? Can we continue to cite you with links into our own combat-rounds?
Posted by: David Davis | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 03:01 PM
Tom I salute you.
The Hands will now Pipe You Over The Side into your jolly-boat (if you want.) I have never failed to enjoy your writing and you will be missed.
For me, and for the rest of us that try to write the LA Blog, we're staying. Having spent nearly all our adult lives trying to resist statism, and signally failing frankly, we have nothing to lose by Staying Aboard.
Tom, I feel mortally depressed too, about this. But we will kbo. Try to think about reconsidering.
Posted by: David Davis | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 03:00 PM
I think I have done my moral duty in this respect. There are nine years' worth of such attempts in the archives here. If only there was a plug-in that would drag them out at random and repost them. It was beginning to feel like that was what I was doing :-)
There is nothing to stop any like-minded blogger from re-posting them with a courteous attribution. Even better would be for an unlike-minded blogger to Fisk them to fury as that would put the arguments before a wider audience.
Posted by: Tom | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Small Dead Animals is an excellent blog and I followed it for some time. It is among many I deleted from my RSS feed as part of my withdrawal from political thinking so thanks for letting me know that my farewell post featured there.
I hope my "jovial equilibrium" is intact. I certainly like that description far better than "paranoid nonsense", which was the review elicited from a Conservative councillor by Iain Dale's tweet. Some Conservatives seem to be taking the name of their party a bit literally. Would they still be standing up for the status quo if property rights had been completely abolished?
Posted by: Tom | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 10:40 AM
Only thing you can do - and it's something of a moral imperative - is keep talking, keep arguing, and keep finding new ways of explaining what you think.
I often wonder if I'm viewed as an eccentric - but if I keep a certain kind of impotent anger out of my online "tone of voice" then there's less chance of that.
Try again to make those who don't want to understand "see" - as though it were before their eyes - where you are coming from.
Posted by: Henry | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 10:39 AM
Err yeah like cascadian above found you via SDA.
I felt the same and the same reaction from my fellow countrymen as you have experienced so you are not alone, or is that I’m not alone ?
Which is why I left last year and I feel better now, fantastically so, mentally, physically, financially and morally better. I’m no longer being dragged down by the insidious greed, envy and grasping nature of a society with no moral compass, the very life of it sucked out by a relentless dumbing down of the dumbed down. The brain washed sodden reasoning of a opiated mass lacking in humanity, a whole population of beings no longer capable or wanting to drag themselves from the reality of the world as dictated by the intelligentsia and as Kate at SDA calls it our moral and intellectual superiors. Shepple created and maintained by the new class of masters far far in excess of any horrors of feudal life so rejected by generations of freemen and englishmen.
How did it all end thus?
The answer to that I suspect you know as well as I.
Who is John Galt ?
Posted by: DSV | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 10:01 AM
Tom you have found fame in Canada, at two links
I had nothing to do with it! Proof if you needed it that your thoughts resonate with a wide audience.
In my usual contrarian fashion I am not sad to hear of your decision, you have been pondering it for a while. A long break is what is needed to restore your normal jovial equilibrium. I look forward to a travelogue based blog, indeed I believe their is still much material from your last epic tour that could be used that would be interesting to many here.
Take care, enjoy, and thank you for your efforts to inform, teach and provoke thought, you have provide me with many hours of enjoyment.
Posted by: Cascadian | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Is it the tyranny of the majority? or is it a minority who are attempting to shape the world according to their whim?
There is still a solid core of "Britishness" extant through the country, it just doesn't get much attention from the media, active as they are in its eradication.
Posted by: Radical Rodent | Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 05:32 AM
I do not think blogging is a futile pursuit.
It proves that what the MSM and our rulers say, is not what everyone thinks.
Nothing could be more worthwhile than to show not all of the populace are sheep.
Posted by: MickC | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 08:52 PM
Thank you. The proper way to look at blogging (and this took me some time to work out) is as a conversation. I have enjoyed and learned from the comments here and only wish my style of writing had encouraged more of them.
Posted by: Tom | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 06:19 PM
Well, I'm looking forward to that! The pictures and text of your American trip was very exciting stuff.
Posted by: Dom | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 01:31 PM
(New to this format, so posting my reply here)
I have occasionally read of your postings on Samizdata.net, and just today found this blog via a posting regarding inheritance;
It is heartening, and I mean this with the utmost sincerity, to find another person with the moral courage and intellectual acuity to stand up for liberty in this age of totalitarian statism.
And it is ever more remarkable that such a person in perhaps one of the most totalitarian-democratic regimes on the face of Earth would find the simple yet indescribably beautiful sense in him to be a lone beacon for what the great Professor Hoppe has called "Truth, Beauty and Justice" in an age that so loathes and despises these things.
If you do find a new home, I eagerly await more postings; it's good to know I'm not the only one out there who isn't a totalitarian or anti-American after some fashion or another.
Posted by: Praetyre | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 01:10 PM
Blogging is indeed a somewhat futile pursuit but I hope that you can take pleasure in the fact that many of us enjoyed your blog.
Posted by: BenSix | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Very sorry indeed to see you go, Tom.
In the same way that the good always die young, so the best and greatest bloggers always seem to sign off long, long before they should. In my opinion, of course!
Good luck and although you say you won't, I hope you will be back one day.
Posted by: andrew duffin | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 12:26 PM
Really sorry you're calling it a day, you'll be missed and the web will be the poorer for your absence.
Thanks for the book recommendations I'll follow those up for sure!
Very best wishes for the future.
Posted by: Cuffleyburgers | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 12:25 PM
Damn! I've only just discovered this blog and now you're off. Oh, well, your choice; but I don't think you were wasting your time and I am looking forward to working my way backwards through your stuff.
Posted by: Richard | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Do you seriously expect a less interventionist government after the next election? Do you seriously expect to be allowed to make more choices in your own life? If so, I hope you are right, but I fear that this is more a case of "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest".
For most Britons, the instinctive response to any problem is now to expect money or other intervention from the state. Few can even distinguish between state and nation. The contrast with my experience in Moore, OK last year is powerful.
Posted by: Tom | Monday, March 31, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Only goodbye to political blogging. I am thinking about a site redesign to turn The Last Ditch into a travel/photography blog.
I am planning a motorised jaunt to Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Warsaw and back next month for example. I have other ideas for trips on the scale of last year's or even bigger. One of these would require sponsorship, however, as it is too difficult and dangerous to venture alone.
For family reasons, I shall remain based in Britain for the foreseeable future.
Posted by: Tom | Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 09:44 PM
Is this goodbye to Britain or goodbye to blogging? Either way, not good for us.
Posted by: james higham | Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 08:23 PM
That is why I like having a group blog, less pressure to jump on the soapbox quite so often :D
Anyway, just poke me at any time in the future if you ever want to take me up on the offer.
Posted by: Perry de Havilland | Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 06:36 PM
You are so sweet. We have *never* agreed politically you soft-Left Welsh teachery person you. That doesn't mean, pace the "annointed" as Prof. Sowell calls them, that we can't respect and care for each other as human beings.
Posted by: Tom | Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 06:06 PM
I am not overwhelmed. I am happy and full of plans. I am just handing this particular torch to others. Nine years is a long run for a solo blogger un-afflicted with excessive self-esteem. The Last Ditch is available as a platform for any classical liberal bloggers on application.
Posted by: Tom | Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 06:01 PM
We are not far apart, so the bumping is easily arranged. I am giving up cyber-life, not life itself. :-)
Posted by: Tom | Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 05:57 PM