THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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March 2014

Goodbye and good luck

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.

The limits of law

Many things wrong with society can be explained by misunderstandings of the nature and purpose of law. Many see it as nothing more than rules handed down from above and think all that matters is the quality and intent of the ruler. In debates about democracy, such thinking is revealed in the common assumption that laws are or will be good if the rulers are elected. Nothing in history seems to support this view. Hitler's election did not validate the Final Solution. An elected Congress did not validate the Jim Crow laws. A majority view in favour of eugenics, promoted vigorously by the Left at the time, did not justify the bad laws made on the subject in various countries.

I favour democracy as a way of choosing lawmakers, administrators of state assets and services and even of police chiefs and judges. In this I am keener on democracy than most Europeans, but I don't believe it is magical. A bad law cannot be made a good law by democracy any more than Victor Yanukovich, Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler or John Prescott were made good men by being elected. A crook is a crook, regardless of votes. And a crock is a crock.

In legal philosophy there is a concept of Natural Law. Regardless of the nature and intent of the lawmaker, it holds that a law is only good if it aligns with natural justice. Religious people traditionally looked at law this way on the basis that God determines what that is, but it's open to others too. The obvious problem, if you're not religious, is how to determine what natural justice is. It might surprise readers to know that I think equality is at the heart of it. A law that favours one man over another, without distinction based upon his own personal misconduct, is almost certainly wrong in nature. How would I define misconduct? The initiation of force or fraud.

The draftsmen of arguably the best, possibly the most effective and certainly the most influential legal document in modern history proceeded on the assumption that certain truths were self-evident and that laws were only "good" (both in the lawyer's sense of valid and in everyone else's sense of moral) if they were consistent with those truths. They sought to address the practical problem of aligning laws with natural justice by limiting the legislature's scope, fragmenting power to make it harder to make sweeping changes, setting up an independent court to rule on the validity of laws and allowing the population to arm themselves to the teeth so that - if all else failed - they could more readily water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants and patriots.

The cynic will object that all this is pie in the sky. Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun and, once gained, the power to make and impose rules follows. International law may say the Crimea is Ukrainian. The superior violence of one state over another says it is Russian and the same truths apply at national level. God or Nature may give our government no right to seize our earnings, confiscate our wealth on our death or tell us how much salt is used in making our salted snacks. But the state's monopoly of violence says otherwise and we should be grateful that, unlike in lesser lands, we can choose others (or offer ourselves) to wield the sword of that violence in ways that please us better.

There's the rub. Natural justice does not enforce itself. Public international law is mostly nonsense because the only bailiffs are soldiers under the command of more or less wicked states and the outcomes of enforcement actions (aka wars) are determined by the quantity of weapons and troops and the military prowess of the commanders. For practical purposes it is a crock. At best it's a moral framework for when it's right to fight a war, international, civil or revolutionary. The national equivalent of that may simply be that natural law is a moral framework to determine when it's right to disobey. Nothing in it will protect you from the consequences of disobedience - especially if the makers of bad law have successfully disarmed you.

Free speech

Is this what our law has come to?

A Muslim extremist linked to Woolwich killer Michael Adebowale was jailed for five years and four months today (Weds) for glorifying the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in a series of YouTube videos. Royal Barnes, 23, was filmed by his veiled wife Rebekah Dawson, 22, laughing hysterically as he drove past the scene of the attack. Dawson, who has caused nationwide controversy by refusing to remove her niqab in court, was jailed for one year and eight months. The couple ridiculed the memorial flowers left by friends, family and members of the public for Drummer Rigby and Barnes described the murder as 'absolutely brilliant'. Dawson also boasted in a text to a friend: 'Did you watch it? It was really inciting and almost glorifying lol.'

Two young idiots upload stupid films to YouTube. They express primitive, ignorant, violent opinions. Opinions rather like those expressed by revolutionary socialists every single day (but with far less chance of influencing anyone).

Did their childish, ignorant words represent a threat? If so, then we are a feeble society too decadent to deserve survival. This is using the sledgehammer of the criminal law to crack something that merited the toffee hammer of an Anglo-Saxon imprecation at best.

These idiots are pathetic, yes. But so are we for having nothing better to do with the hard-earned money taken by force from decent people than to pay policemen, lawyers, judges and prison officers to deal with them. And for not understanding that it's better to hear dangerous opinions and know where threats may come from than to drive them underground.

Breaking News

I have nothing constructive to say on Ukraine. You may imagine, given my years living in Moscow where this blog began, and given the news from former colleagues in my old firm's Kiev office, that I am pretty depressed by the news.

I have spent my years since I left Russia telling people to forget what they thought they knew and believe in the future of a cultured, civilised and friendly people. I still believe that's what they are, but their system for choosing leaders - and restraining them once they are chosen - seems to be as catastrophic as ever it was.

Whatever else Vladimir Putin thinks he is up to, he has restored every thuggish stereotype of Russia in an instant. Time will tell if the Cold War is back, but there's no doubt now that Francis Fukuyama made a major fool of himself when he published this book.

The BBC is reporting that Putin has said there is no need to send in troops yet. They are of course already there, but Russia and the West are pretending they are not; each for its own reasons. My favourite miliblogger, Sean Linnane, clarifies that for us, commenting;

Always some guy in the unit who can't figure out what "sterile" fatigues means

Before Russia I lived in Poland for eleven years and you can imagine how many "I told you so's" I am hearing from my friends there. I apologise publicly to those I called paranoid about Russia. Przepraszam.

Amid those communications however came one Polish joke about what's going on. Enjoy! (click to enlarge)

Translation: In view of the situation in the Ukraine, France has surrendered.

A British divorce

Judge overrides prenup as Bob the Builder tycoon's daughter divorces | Law | The Guardian.

Frankie Limata married into the wealthy Luckwell family, which is in the film business. The marriage did not "work out" as people casually say these days. Love flew out the window in the course of arguments over money. Understandable arguments, perhaps, as our Frankie ran up debts of £226,000.
He has now obtained a judgement from the High Court ordering his wife to sell her home to provide £1.2 million to pay off those debts and buy a new home. This despite entering into a pre-nuptial agreement to the contrary and having given repeated assurances (upon which she and her family had relied to their detriment) that he would never make any claim against their assets. The home is his wife's sole asset and was a gift to her from her wealthy father.
His name may end in a vowel, but our Frankie is no man of respect.
I deliberately link to The Guardian's account so that readers can duly note how rich (and therefore in left-world, evil) the family subjected to this legalised banditry is. I am hoping that even the hardest-hearted among you is feeling for the Luckwells and recognising how disgusting it is that a man with no reasonable expectations of wealth should have acquired a right to a lifestyle he enjoyed by marriage.
The pretext of course, as so often with leftist evil, is "the children". The judge thinks it would be wrong for them to move between their mother's expensive soon-to-be-ex home in Connaught Square (near the Blairs) and the kind of home their father's income could provide. Personally, I think that would be an educational benefit in their lives. Children grow up both happily and unhappily in poor homes and rich ones; money having nothing to do with good parenting. Certainly any inconvenience to them would be infinitesimal by comparison with the damage done by their father's shameful example of dishonesty. 
With me so far? Now consider that this (with smaller numbers but in similar proportions) is what many British middle class divorces look like without attracting any press coverage at all.
The difference being, of course, that the sexes of the parties are reversed.