Monday, June 11, 2007

Martin Kettle: twat. And some further discourse on libertarianism

Martin's Kettle's dismissal of Taking Liberties seems to have come in for a bit of stick. But that's probably because he's a cunt.

First up, Timmy makes a pithy point in his usual succinct manner.
To see again how Maya Evans and Milan Rai were arrested for reading out the names of Iraq war victims opposite the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall (though if they had given the right notification they would not have been),

Of course having to ask permission from the police before you speak is not the same as living in a police state. What on earth would give anyone that idea?

And bookdrunk follows up swiftly with a longer deconstruction. Well, I say deconstruction: it's more like shooting some very big fish in a very small barrel with a sawn-off shotgun...
Well, gee. It takes a special mind to declare something an "oppressive denial of the right to protest" while recommending that it wouldn't be so bad if you'd only filled out your Notification of Oppression Forms.

Then, mere paragraphs later, he decides that the right to protest didn't exist after all:
To take a single example, of which the film and like-minded writers make much, it is untrue that Blair has taken away an ancient right to demonstrate near the House of Commons. There never was any such ancient right.

This should be the moment where your eyes swivel inwards in an attempt to escape from your head at the sheer feckless stupidity of what you're reading: the law taking away the right to demonstrate near the House of Commons is the very same law that led to the arrest of Maya Evans and Milan Rai for reading out the names of Iraq war victims opposite the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall. In other words, the very same law that Kettle decryed as an oppressive denial of the right that.. uh.. doesn't exist to protest. Or something.

The law is, of course, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005), which describes an area around Parliament including Whitehall, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, the Middlesex Guildhall, New Scotland Yard, and the Home Office.

Pardon my bloggers accent, but what a shabby fuckwit.

Quite. But what else would we expect from the Grauniad, eh? It's a shabby paper filled with shabby fuckwits giving their utterly valueless opinions whilst twisting and distorting the facts in order to back up their shitty, unworkeable views.

In the meantime, Jackart has a slightly more sensible review of the film.
I'm not sure the audience of Guardianistas in London's Curzon Cinema who sat down to watch Taking Liberties on Sunday felt the revulsion I did when I saw the trailer for The War on Democracy, a film which apparently sees no irony in lauding a man who has just passed an enabling law, has closed down most opposition media and is busy arming militias. John Pilger clearly is a cunt of Michael Moore proportions. Neither did they cheer, as I did when footage of a green-haired poll-tax rioter getting run over by a police horse was shown. The only group of people I like less than the police are anarchist rock-chuckers, so the poll-tax riots are win-win viewing for me.

We all know that St. Tony of Albion's police state is awful. To readers of this blog, that the Labour party has completed it century-held mission to destroy Britain comes as no surprise, but the film makes clear that Tony Blair's enabling law is a wide ranging, Orwellian piece of legislation making it a criminal offence to speak in anything other than totally subservient tones to anyone wearing a hi-vis vest.

So far, so good. But can you see what the caveat might be?
But ye gods! The Fucking war. Whilst mention was made of a range of subjects from the Natwest 3 to the Countryside Alliance, most of the protests were about the war: Self-righteous whining lefties whittering about firms selling computer parts for bombs and such like. Nice, middle-class people being roughly treated by the police, who are shown, entirely fairly, as bullying, officious and corrupt, not the public's friend of Peelian immagination. Running through the film though was the assumption that all of the old bill's abusive new powers are exacerbated by the "illegal" (ffs) war in Iraq, and the wider war on terror. I am really fed up up with the endless criticism of Blair's international adventurism as "illegal". It isn't. It has poisoned the debate about civil liberties because opposition to Blair has coalesced around a pointless, subversive-inspired lost cause (Stop the War) which spends more time protesting about American abuses of people who hate us in dusty third-world toilets, rather than the more numerous though less serious abuses of British people by British police and the fundamental destruction of the rights of the British Subject. The war has distracted us from the fence posts of a totalitarian state being put in place. The War Against Terror (T.W.A.T), though is not the root cause of the assault on liberty.

This is merely the excuse.

Quite correct, of course. And what is the real reason?
The destruction of our liberties is a direct function of the welfare state. The massive extension of state powers since 1945 requires that the people be monitored, controlled, and corralled into state sanctioned behaviour. It's inevitable that the information be collected, files maintained. The Labour party is a socialist organisation and it needs to monitor, control and coerce to build a "progressive" state. How will they know from whom to take and to whom to give if they don't know everything about everyone? 9/11 gave them the opportunity that they have never had before to fuck us (for our own good, naturally) and take our liberties, something they've been itching to do since Attlee's failed attempt to create some form of democratic communism. Socialism, in any form requires oppression.

As I have discussed numerous times before, this is entirely correct. In my last summation of this (when I discussed why socialism was worse than racism), I wrote the following...
The point is that socialism relies on force, it's entire structure is predicated on forcing people to give up their possessions to support those whom they would not willingly support otherwise. What socialists do is to extort and steal from people in order to sustain and pay for the socialists' own beliefs. This is why socialism has led to so many nightmarish regimes and, incidentally, why socialism is far worse than racism.

In a number of discussions over the years, I have been constantly frustrated by those who think that the state is in some way morally superior to the people. Many of these people object to the monarchy—"it is, like, disgusting that these, like, Germans think that they are, like, better than us just 'cos of an accident of birth"—but they will happily assert the moral superiority of the state which is, at base, merely a collection of people no better or worse (and usually worse) than themselves.

The state has no moral authority over me: all it has is the power of law, including the power to extort money from my under threat of prison. But what many people forget is that we, the people, lend the state our power to do those things that we, individually or collectively, cannot do ourselves. In a discussion on libertarianism, Shuggy raised the following point (as a negative).
[Libertarians] give the impression - to me, anyway - of people who have surrendered the anarchist position very grudgingly and whose default position with regards to the state is that the validity of its very existence is something that requires continual justification.

Whilst he may disagree, this is precisely what should happen. The state's very existence, the scope of its powers and any authority that it might have should be continually questioned, if only to remind those venal, pompous demagogues that their tenure is a priviledge granted by the people that they purport to rule. Government should not be a playground for a bunch of grasping, corrupt cunts—like the scum that occupy the mother of all parliaments today—a means of enriching themselves; nor should they decide how I should behave in my day to day life.

They are there by dint of our realisation that some things are better done collectively; as far as I am concerned, and in an ideal world, that includes only the criminal justice system, defence and foreign policy and that is it.

My pure philosophy can be summed up by this little film on the Principle of Liberty (Guido also uses this as his manifesto). Please pay careful attention to the parts in which the animation points out that officials should have no power over your life, liberty or property. Unfortunately, people seem to have forgotten these principles, happily surrendering their liberty to the Welfare State.

This is the theorectical part of my beliefs.

The practical part is that the state runs things very badly and gives very poor value for money. As I pointed out some time ago, National Insurance is a classic example of this.
when I was last full-time salary employed, 11% of my salary would have been about £175 per month. This is then also matched by the employer, so the total NICs is £350.

Private health insurance: £50
Private unemployment insurance: £23
Private pension to get the same as a state pension of roughly £5,000 a year, retiring at 65: £100
Total: £173

Worse than that: the state has actively defrauded us. Having spent some time charging me twice the private sector cost of for the above services, the state has decided that we still don't pay enough and that we should have more taken from our salaries in order to pay for the pension fund that the government never set up. And a recent report reckoned that we would have to pay for our medical treatment—or at least some aspects of it—within the next ten years. Further, the unemployment insurance (or "dole") has so many strings attached to it that it is not really what was intended at all.

So, National Insurance (and any of the other myriad subjects that I have covered over the years) illustrates the practical aspect of my beliefs: that the state runs things badly and is, in fact, actively corrupt.

However, much as we libertarian purists may want a state so tiny that you can barely see it, in today's world one has to acknowledge that there are other considerations; however, if we must have a safety net, let us base it as far as possible on sound libertarian principles.

One of the most articulate and vociferous sections of the UK blogosphere are the libertarians, for they are politically disenfranchised. Where is the libertarian party (leaving aside the fact that UKIP is the nearest thing to it)? And how might a libertarian Britain look? How might we provide services in the most libertarian way?

Libertarian bloggers are providing answers to these questions every, single day; but we are a disparate group and good ideas get lost. So, I am busy setting up a new little project to collate ideas and provoke discussion: it's not quite ready yet, but if you would like to write for LibertarianUK.net, then feel free to sign up (your password will be emailed to you automatically). Or, if you are into such things, join the Facebook Group. As I said, we aren't quite ready yet, but I will discuss this project more when we launch properly.

It is time that the libertarian standpoint was argued coherently, and the people and politicians urged to listen and understand.

Here endeth the somewhat inpromptu lesson.

15 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Shuggy's definition of libertarians as "people who have surrendered the anarchist position very grudgingly" is half-way there, but, AFAIAA, libertarians believe strongly in law'n'order and protection of private property rights, not sure if this is true for anarchists.

BTW, re your NI rant, Employer's NI is 12.8%, not 11%.

I just wonder, is it possible to have a libertarian organisation? Is this not like herding cats?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Mark, it's not an organisation as such; merely a forum for laying out various libertarian solutions to the problems in our country; a forum for libertarian thought, if you like.

Oh, and at the time that I wrote that, I don't think that the new rates were in force.

And, yes, private property rights are fundamental to libertarianism, and you need a practical way to enforce those rights; so, yes, law'n'order is required, absolutely.

DK

Nicodemus said...

Can't comment on anarchists - but this libertarian for one is in to this idea.
Everytime I see my P60, I am reminded that I pay the salary of 2 junior nurses in tax, and that stings.
Personally I am brewing a bit of a post about this regarding the incursion of the state in to sport, in particular gliding, and the real reason behind galileo and the regulation and charging for using the air above our heads as well as the roads under our feet.
But I have a bucket load of work to solve first.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ah! Comments working again...

"libertarian solutions"?

Your Cabinet and Roger Thornhill have already got perfectly workable manifestoes.

Mine's a bit shorter.

Leave the EU; sack a million civil servants; prosecution allowed to mention previous convictions at trials; lock up violent criminals for life; automatic deportation of foreign criminals and mad mullahs; give everybody a Citizen's Income (and education/healthcare vouchers); phase out VAT; have flat (and preferably low) income/corporation tax; have Land Value Tax instead of existing property-related taxes; legalise fox-hunting, prostitution and (most if not all) drugs; test immigrants for TB and HIV; have Australian-style immigration rules; no ID cards; turn off (most) traffic lights; have yellow boxes Zebra crossings; reduce speed limit to 20 mph in residential areas; increase speed limit to 90 mph on motorways; start using coal again to generate electricity; have more waste incinerators and methane capture; spend at least half of £8 bn tobacco duty on cancer research; no free state translation services; social housing allotted on basis of waiting lists not "need"; pre-nup contracts treated as binding with statutory default of 50/50 assets split and no maintenance payable to ex-spouse (apart from Child maintenance); Bank Holidays scrapped with assumption that employees get an extra five days' holiday per year; troops out of Iraq & Afghanistan.

There might be more but I'd better do some work now.

Hoddy said...

"...should have more taken from our salaries in order to pay for the pension fund that the government never set up. ..."

reflects a common misconception, but still a misconception. [See PJ O'Rourke's 'Eat the Rich' for details]. Basically, no Government can 'save money' - if one does, it's merely taking its own money out of circulation. Governments can't wander down to HSBC in the High Street and put £10bn/ a year into a high interest account.

Pension funds are really no more than a promise to use your input now to grow an economy which will be able to support you in 'n' years' time. Where 'n' is comfortably longer than the period that any of the time serving, self interested weasels will be fattening themselves at the public pork barrel.

So your pension fund is AT BEST a politician's promise. On average, it is the promise of a politican who retired a decade or more before you found your pension 'fund' did not exist. At worst it is a Maxwell promise. Go figure.

Hoddy

the a&e charge nurse said...

Is libertarianism anything more than romanticised anti-socialism, or ant-iauthoritarianism ?

I mean, if two or more anti-socialists, sorry, libertarians where in the same room - could they actually agree on a manifesto [assuming they were sober, of course] or even define what libertarianism is ?

As I see it we are not free, even inside our own heads [since it is impossible to escape upbringing or, more imortantly, genetic heritage - as defined by Dawkins]

Just curious............

Roger Thornhill said...

a&e, Libertarianism is not "anti", unless you consider "anti anti-freedom" to be a valid "anti".

To say Libertarianism is an "anti-" is, in effect, to use a double negative.

Devil's Kitchen said...

I mean, if two or more anti-socialists, sorry, libertarians where in the same room - could they actually agree on a manifesto [assuming they were sober, of course] or even define what libertarianism is ?

Yes, I think so but I guess that this is what we are going to find out, eh?

As I see it we are not free, even inside our own heads [since it is impossible to escape upbringing or, more imortantly, genetic heritage - as defined by Dawkins]

Yes, that's generally true (although I would say that genetic heritage is probably less influencial than upbringing in moulding character).

However, the basic libertarian point is that you should not have the power or authority to compel me to live in a particular way because you believe (because of your upbringing or genetics, if you like) that that way is better.

No person should be able to initiate force against another (and never without consequence) and that includes forcing them to live, or behave, in a particular way.

DK

Mark Wadsworth said...

A&E, the only rule is, if two libertarians can't agree what the rule should be, then we just don't have a rule at all and let people get on with it.

Well said, Hoddy.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Without the threat of force who would ever pay income tax ?

Mark Wadsworth said...

A&E, it is possible to be a libertarian and a realist at the same time. See above for distinction between "anarchist" and "libertarian".

Roger Thornhill said...

Indeed. For me the principle of "least worst option" holds sway, not dogma.

Taxation is needed for courts, defense, police and prisons. You could say that without such things all people are threatened, and the prime directive for the State is to enable the citizens to go safely about their lawful business without let or hinderance.

Conversely, all people are not threatened if we fail to fund Chantelle's fifth "babbers"...in fact quite the reverse is likely...so why are we forced to now?

David Farrer said...

DK,

You haven't mentioned the UK-based Libertarian Alliance.

It is though to have the second largest number of libertarian publications on the web. (CATO is apparently at Number 1.)

the a&e charge nurse said...

david farrer - I looked up the Libertarian Alliance website but couldn't get past the bit about legalising guns and calls to scrap all drink drive laws.

Imagine a pissed up hoodie weaving all over the pavement armed with an AK 47..........no thanks.

Mark Wadsworth said...

A&E, I've had a quick look, not sure if it says that (and if it did I'd share your concerns).

I've never heard of any of these people apart from Don Riley, who is Top Man, being a fellow Land Value Taxer.

PS - look on the bright side - at least yer Hoodie wouldn't be able to shoot straight ...