THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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The only state agency I ever loved

The morality of public “service”

I was brought up to respect policemen. I still do. Even a libertarian state would ask good people to put themselves in harm’s way to enforce its few laws. The harm they do is rarely the fault of the (mostly) good policemen enforcing our current monstrous state’s thousands of bad laws. 

The same can be said for judges. They have an honest, important and necessary job to do that is foundational for civilisation but also apply and interpret thousands of laws that should simply not be. Their hands are dirty but it’s not their fault. Our soldiers too and perhaps (though here it gets murkier) even some of our civil servants.  

Though my conscience might still (just) handle being a judge (and relish the chance to lean hard toward Liberty in interpreting our laws) I couldn’t be a civil servant, soldier or policeman in modern Britain any more than I could be a politician for a mainstream statist party. I could not serve a gangster state that interfered with the citizenry’s freedom while violently extorting from it the money to pay me and hope to sleep at nights. 

Which raises the awkward question, who can? Being a judge, a soldier or a policeman is noble enough (and a civil servant harmless enough) in principle but to choose such a career serving the states we have now is morally questionable at least. Watch the French police currently beating up the gilets jaunes, for example. You’ll need to scour YouTube as the MSM is oddly reticent on the subject. These thugs are not conscripts. Each studied, applied, trained and freely signed a contract. Why would a decent human choose to do that job?

We have been watching Kiefer Sutherland’s Netflix show “Designated Survivor” and enjoying it well enough. I view it as the entertaining  tosh it is intended to be but wince at its po-faced portrayal of its heroes. They are cynical foes of Liberty and (literally) murderous enemies of the Rule of Law but we are expected to see them as paragons of selfless virtue. Given the boundless power of modern Western states, and the extent of their control over our personal lives, just who else would we expect to work for them but narcissists and sociopaths?

A children’s home (or church trusted by parents with their children) needs to be particularly alert to the possibility of child abusers wanting to work there. A powerful state should be similarly so about sociopaths. Neither our children’s homes, churches nor governments seem to have shown any such concern. I fear the abusers are now in charge of recruitment. 

This at least partly accounts for the relentless “mission creep” of the modern state. It certainly accounts for “Conservative” ministers, surfing smug tides of Liberty-minded rhetoric, interfering in the minutiae of our lives indistinguishably from openly authoritarian Labourites. There was a time when a moral man like this would become a civil servant but the people who staff our state now lack — almost by definition — any moral scruples about its rôle.

Please tell me I am wrong in this pessimistic analysis. If not, how can we hope peacefully and democratically to roll back the power of the state? If we can’t, then how does the story of our civilisation end?


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Is there no hope of a peaceful solution that avoids such chaos? I believe the current global wave of “populism” is essentially people protesting at the hijacking of their states by entrenched elites. Beat a gilet jaune enough and he may resist violently. Thwart a democratic vote or scorn millions as “deplorables” and a whole people may rise. Surely we’re not looking forward to such violent horrors? I’d like to live my life in peace and die hoping my daughters can do so too. 

Lord T

It ends all it always does by the destruction of that state with and its replacement with another. History shows that they have been many world leaders, we were once, and then we were replaced.

This will repeat until we royally screw up and our species becomes extinct.


That’s a false dichotomy. The state is just a special kind of corporation. It is a legal fiction, like a limited company. Corporations can only do good (or harm) through the actions of the actual people working for them. The legal construct is all about limiting their liability by pretending these “legal persons” are as real as those “natural persons” they employ.

No, the French police assaulting gilets jaunes did not make the laws authorising their violence. Nor did they give the violent orders they act upon so thoroughly. But they don’t get to use “the Nuremberg Defence”, sorry. They’re “only following orders” but (unlike most Nuremberg defendants) they freely signed up to do so.

I get it. You want a bigger state than I do. But surely we both want a state that behaves more decently? So again, I ask the question. How can a state become more decent when decent people can’t bring themselves to work for it?


In my opinion this is a cyclical behaviour of society. The state or the church governs benevolently for society but ultimately this always leads to those in power becoming less benevolent and more controlling.

I worked in the public sector for most of my career and my colleagues and I felt we were providing a service (which we were). The government kept changing the rules (far to complicated to explain in a comment). This led to employees in the public sector following government rules rather than providing a public service.

The public sector workers did not roll over and comply but their protests and concerns were unheaded because they are the 'PEOPLE' and not the 'STATE'.

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