Monday, 2 May 2011

Atlas catches the bouquet

Gotta do this fast before Dumb Jon beats me to it and kicks a man when he’s down.
In fact, to use a fashionable phrase in the struggle for, well, actual freedom here on Earth 1.0, I’d better be fast as lightning…

Over at Orphans of Liberty: a new collegiate, freedom-loving blog which I recommend you to read for all kinds of reasons, Julia has expressed the opinion that perhaps it’s not the Beginning Of The End for Britain if anti-royal wedding, Islamist ‘protesters’ were prevented from getting into central London to disrupt ( read ’righteously protest against’) the Royal Wedding.

Here’s my reply to what?’s egregious comment.

"Your attitude to protesters being rounded up and censored for the crime of thinking about spoiling your solipsist fun has no place in a libertarian society."

“Well, what?, I'm glad to see that, (just like round about everyone else in politics), at least some of the libertarians are happy to draw the line beyond which free thought must not go and which attitudes in particular will have no place when The Glorious Day comes.

Phew! For a minute there, I was afraid that there were going to be no limits to what an individual person might think or what values she might pursue in a libertarian society.”

Actually, I’m sure that he/she only meant that Julia probably wouldn’t fit into the pure, golden age of self-sufficient sovereign individuals; protected solely by the non-aggression rule, (and also possibly by personal weapons) and by strictly-enforced property rights; and needing the approval of no-one to pursue the shining goal of complete personal choice and self-determination unconstrained by any sort of moralising, sense of tradition or wishy-washy give-and-take.
Absolutism is all.  

I particularly look forward to the happy days when, unconstrained by the slightest considerations for the feelings of others, every mixed-sex wedding in the land is disrupted by gay supremacists and by the purely educational and electronically-amplified anti-monogamy chanting of polymorous evangelists; bathed in the sure and certain knowledge that, provided they don’t initiate aggression or fraud or otherwise directly violate equally sacrosanct property rights, there are no limits at all to the places and occasions when and where honestly-held opinions should be expressed provided that Individual Liberty is not trampled even in the teeny-weeniest degree.

It’ll surely be an earthly paradise (or at least a much nicer country to live in that this present statist, tax-funded one) when christenings are regularly disrupted by the righteous protest songs of atheists and the birthday parties of children of the rich are enjoyed to the boom-box and didgeridoo beat of socialists protesting against economic inequality.
I’m assuming that there will be both economic inequality and socialists in a libertarian society…
But anyway, nothing says sacrosanct moral sovereignty quite like promising a world where children’s birthday parties can be legitimately ruined in the name of freedom.

Surely, therefore, no reasonable-minded purist libertarian can imagine any occasion in which the mere enjoyment of Freedom #A can fail to be trumped by the obviously superior Freedom to Protest/express/think/speak # B. 

As bnzss goes on: “No, sorry, but I can’t go along with this. The state has no business interfering in freedom of thought, speech and association, *no matter what bloody day it is*. As soon as you start adding exceptions, you’re on a slippery slope.”

If you assume that you could draw bnzss into a polite argument about specifics, he/she might probably qualify his abolutism that – well -, the exceptions which don’t exist and should never exist to freedom of thought, speech and association might include the free enjoyment of private events such as weddings to be attended only by willing participants and to exclude outsiders who might spoil events paid for privately and by legitimately raised funds, on land and perhaps streets whose exclusive and undisrupted use were rented or purchased according to property rights, the laws of contract, etc.

(Obviously, tax-supported streets and state-subsidized public transport were involved in the passage of the royal couple and denied in the prevention of those lovely Islamists from getting to Westminster Abbey, so as we’re not in the Libertarian Paradise yet and since we’re all taxpayers, it’s no problem to sod up someone’s wedding day and national and international enjoyment thereof. Liberty is everything).

Back to bnzss and others’ absolutist arguments.

The point is, which most purist, absolutist libertarians rarely answer is that everyone - and I do mean everyone – draws lines beyond which freedom should not go.
There are even some things that no libertarian I’ve ever heard of will contemplate doing themselves – often involving children or the mentally ill. And if libertarians themselves wouldn’t do them then why should we automatically assume that it’s okay for anyone else to do them? 
If a moral is good enough for a libertarian to follow it, why isn’t it good enough to enforce on the malign and the dangerously insane? I mean, paranoid schizophrenics will be allowed right up to the point their breadknife touches a bystander’s throat, right? or presses the button on hisd belt? No pre-emption allowed because that would be Precrime, yeah? Or do the libertarian police wrestle a raving madman to the ground? Issue him with a warning? Invite him to therapy? Ask his blood group in case he follows his freely expressed sovereign threats through?
I am actually getting a headache here…

It’s not “a slippery slope” to tyranny when someone limits certain freedoms. 
It’s a series of steps, and you don’t have to take them all the way to the basement.

Everyone draws lines around freedom.

Either that or they have to accept that what might possibly happen is an impeccably libertarianly-assured war of all again all via protesting and freedom of expression or, more likely, by extremists’ war of freedom of expression of some sort : first against weak and unpopular targets, and then, once those targets are suitably intimidated, the next weakest target (are we avoiding visiting corner shops whose proprietors once tried to publish certain cartoons of The Prophet in the newsstands but whose customers once faced a barrage of non-violent abuse when popping by for a bottle of milk and at tin of cat food yet?), and who then move on to expressing in a free and unconstrained fashion their opinions of the whores who wear makeup on their naked faces and also miniskirts which just proves how whorish they are…

Absolute freedom of thought, speech and association don’t look so good in a future Britain when imagined that way. But why let the way things actually are and the things that some people actually believe spoil a beautiful theory of abstract freedom?

My Big Finish point is that every noninsane person draws lines and sets limits to liberty. The only real argument is where to draw the lines.

I think the chief difference between absolutist libertarians and merely freedom-loving conservatives such as me is that conservatives like to stand on the opposite side of the line labelled Here Be Lunatics.


JuliaM said...

Absolutes are great. But, there's very few of them, and none whatsoever in real life or in politics.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't aim for them, but we shouldn't be too despondent when we miss, as we surely will do.

Rob said...

This slippery slope fallacy is used by people terrified of having to make a judgement and instead prefer to occupy their own perfectly logical imagined world.

Real People make compromises and judgements based on a near-universally accepted code.


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