Elsewhere

It’s a common mental disorder that one or other of us knows what everyone else should be forced to do. Our own liberalism is based in the fact that we’ve not a scoobie about what will maximise the happiness of others, good grief, the existence of Simon Cowell proves that. Thus our basic prescription that people should be stopped from doing what damages the rights of others and after that left alone to do as they please.

17 comments on “Elsewhere

  1. Liberty, the right to pursue what interests you. The right to be left alone to do that. I think the Declaration of Independence had the right formulation: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. (Although I wish they had kept the Property concept in there.)

  2. But what did “Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” mean to the slave master who wrote those words? I think we should be told. Or just accept that the Declaration was a mendacious advertising flyer. The contrast with the genuinely impressive Constitution is striking. But then the said slave master was absent in Paris when the Constitution was written.

  3. During the war and for a little time after it was common for some boys in their last year at school to be packed off to picking the potato fields for a month in the country. It was alleged to be voluntary but far from it. The way schools were then many preferred the fields to the classrooms.

  4. Tim
    In response to your article…I disagree: I am in favour of some sort of national service for young people. Youth has to be taught that liberty brings responsibilities and that rights bring duties. A period of disciplined service to the community, society and nation that has directly and indirectly nurtured them would help to instill the civic virtues – without which a civilised and liberty-respecting society is difficult, if not impossible. One of our social problems is that our youth tends to think only in terms of rights and entitlements, of taking but not contributing. We are not individual atoms, we are social beings. If this truth is forgotten, the state inevitably decides it must step in to fill the gap. By insisting on liberty above all – by describing national service as slavery – you are encouraging the development of a society in which autonomous individuals neglect their social responsibilities and leave them to the state. National service would encourage the development of the little platoons and thereby liberty.

  5. ‘But what did “Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” mean to the slave master who wrote those words? I think we should be told. Or just accept that the Declaration was a mendacious advertising flyer.’

    You’re making an anachronistic moral judgement there. Slavery was an accepted social institution in most parts of the world until relatively recently. In the Politics, Aristotle says that some people are slaves “by nature” — ie that they were not fully possessed of rationality (though, according to Diogenes Laertius, he freed his slaves in his will, which is strange if they were by nature slaves…). To pre-19th century Europeans, afros must have appeared sub-rational and so sub-human. Were they completely wrong about this, given what we now know about afro criminality, tribalism, violence and IQ? The moral error was to assume that the inferior could be enslaved, but it’s possible to see how the moral error arose.

  6. We have no problem telling 5 year olds what’s good for them- including forcing them to go to school.
    There are divergent views about telling adults what to do.
    The conundrum is how to decide whether a person is an adult.
    Some people regard everyone as children and hence tell sixty year olds what they can and cannot do for their own good.
    So at what age does one become adult?
    Or do we institute a test for adulthood bearing in mind that I’ve known seventeen year olds that act as adults and forty year olds that act like children.
    I would maintain however that no-one should get the vote before they are judged adult, and preferably not for a few years after that. So if we are indeed to march 18 year olds off to farms, treating them as children, they shouldn’t get the vote before that’s done.

  7. Fair enough and I disagree, to the point that I’ll shout “Fuck Off” at you. By definition, an adult is someone who gets to vote. Kiddies we get to tell what to do, not adults.

    Conscription of adults is slavery, fuck off, end of.

  8. “A period of disciplined service to the community, society and nation that has directly and indirectly nurtured them would help to instill the civic virtues – without which a civilised and liberty-respecting society is difficult, if not impossible.”

    Yes, a temporary period of society-endorsed slavery would teach them that this is what might happen to them permanently if they don’t fight for liberty, and overthrowing the tyrants.

    Of course, the problem is that the first thing they do on gaining the power to do so is to overthrow the hated authoritarians who most recently enslaved them…

    “The conundrum is how to decide whether a person is an adult.”

    It’s the same question as how do they decide *you* are ‘adult’ enough to decide whether *they* are an adult? What would you do if they introduced a test and you found your kids passing while you failed it?

    Who sets the test questions, and the marking scheme? Who decides what answers are ‘right’? I’ve known parents who smoke being lectured by their kids about the dangers of smoking – what if the adulthood test has the question “Should you smoke?”

    How would you justify the answer “I can but you can’t?”

    What if you’re not allowed to do ‘adult’ activities like smoking or drinking until you agree that you don’t want to? What if society can repeal your adulthood until you agree with its new values? What if *you* don’t get to decide what those values are?

    When introducing any coercive social measure, everyone advocating for it should always be asked the question: “What if your political enemies gained control of this power?” It’s always easy to favour authoritarian measures in defence of your own standards, but would you be happy for the Social Justice Warriors to have control of the ‘adulthood’ test? Or the ‘re-education camps’ on the potato farms? If not, then it’s a dangerous idea.

    The thing to do is for every parent, as they prepare to discipline their children, to be reminded: “Think. One day I will be the one to choose your care home”.

  9. “Conscription of adults is slavery, fuck off, end of.”

    It isn’t slavery: it’s learning to contribute – by time-limited compulsory service.

    I come from a long line (back to c.1620) of modestly successful (and some very unsuccessful) entrepreneurs. Most tried to put something back into the society in which they prospered. They were encouraged by their religious beliefs to do this.

    Today those religious beliefs have evaporated. Without some sort of ‘national service’, how will Burke’s little platoons emerge and thrive? Please tell….Secular exhortation ain’t going to work. Meanwhile, we are living off the accumulated moral and social capital of previous centuries.

    If liberty is the supreme value, we end up with a society that either disintegrates or becomes increasingly authoritarian in order to hold the social atoms together. Read Rousseau, and ponder.

    The little platoons are the bulwark against tyranny. They emerge from a desire to serve and contribute to a group – and this desire needs to be fostered by training.

    Too little liberty leads to ossification; too much liberty leads to deliquesence.

    Liberty, Authority & Property!

  10. “Some people regard everyone as children and hence tell sixty year olds what they can and cannot do for their own good.”

    Which is why this sixty year old is getting ever more frustrated and wondering at whatbpoint di we rise up against the of the diversity coordinators et al and have the “oldest” revolution ever.

    On a more serious point we have to draw a line and beyond that people have to take personal responsibility. The one thing that really annoys me is those who want to reduce the voting age to 16, but don’t accept that also lowering the drinking age, smoking age, fighting in a war zone age, usw (apparently were not allowed to,use Latin). If 16 year old are wise enough to vote andimpact my life they can do everything else that adults do.

  11. “It isn’t slavery: it’s learning to contribute – by time-limited compulsory service.”

    That’s what all the slavers say.

    “Without some sort of ‘national service’, how will Burke’s little platoons emerge and thrive? Please tell…”

    You teach them why it’s a good idea, so they’ll do it voluntarily. You teach them with reciprocity and by example – they see you showing mercy and compassion, tolerance, and love, and come to understand that this is how things are, how society works, what they ought to be. You teach them voluntary service to the community by volunteering yourself, and inviting them along. You immerse them in the sort of society you want them to create.

    Children learn their morality by watching how the society around them works. If society acts by telling you what to do and threatening violence or punishment if you don’t, that’s what they learn. If they see that nobody volunteers unless they’re made to, or paid to do so by the state, that’s the morality they learn. If they see the state doing everything and other people doing nothing to help others, that’s how they see the world. If they see people helping one another even when they don’t have to, then that’s what they will learn.

    You have to bear in mind that they’re not going to be under your control forever, and the lesson they learn from you is not always the one you think you’re teaching. They see how *you* treat *them*. What you happen to be making them do is an irrelevant detail – whether that’s potato picking on your farm or working in your charity shop – what matters is the power relationship they’re in with you. That’s what they’ll reproduce in society when they’re free to do so.

    Social Justice Warriors think that people only help those less fortunate than themselves when they’re *made* to, and so that’s exactly what they do. Where do you suppose they learnt that lesson from?

  12. Theophrastus,

    “A period of disciplined service to the community, society and nation that has directly and indirectly nurtured them would help to instill the civic virtues – without which a civilised and liberty-respecting society is difficult, if not impossible.”

    I owe society nothing. Society is just tax -> services. Some of us might pay more or less, but it is a transactional arrangement.

    If you actually want people to contribute to society, get them to go to work doing the best thing they can. That’s what people prefer doing (if you remove perverse disincentives) and you get them using their talents to make themselves richer, and via taxation, for the good of society.

    It’s also just awful for anyone with talent and would probably result in a brain drain. Anyone smart will be applying to Harvard rather than spending a year in a field. Entrepreneurial types will fly off somewhere and start a business.

    And what’s going to happen with chav scum who just say “fuck off” to the foreman?

  13. It’s not youngsters that we should be encouraging to do voluntary stuff but us oldies with time on our hands. That both sets an example and provides a benefit.

    In my own case I wanted to work with young offenders at Portland nick, but couldn’t find a suitable charity. (Reason – there but for the grace of God go I)

    I’ve now started volunteering at the national sailing academy on the rescue boats for youth racing and if I can fit it in Sailability for the disabled. There’s quite a group of volunteers all of a similar age.

  14. Coming late to this, as I’m touring without a WiFi connection.

    I disagree with any form of compulsion for adults, agree that it is state servitude. I can’t remember who said it, but “any country that depends on slaves to survive deserves to die”. And that “survive” should be interpreted as any form of compulsary service to the state.

    Yes, by all means, reward anybody who voluntarily serves the state over and above the common herd. Just today I was explaining to my Chinee nephews the history of the word “squire” and how it morphed into “local big landholder” by describing how in the Roman State any hoi polloi could sign up to serve the state in the miltary and after 15 years was granted a chunk of land, and (faulty memory) that was often the case with a knight’s squire. So, serve the state (doesn’t have to be miltary), the state gives you something over and above those who don’t.

    And, yes, I keep having this argument with my party, if you want to give adult rights to 16-year-olds, you do it by making 16-year-olds into full legal adults with all and every liability and responsibility of being an adult such as being held to adult contracts, being shot at as an adult soldier, being chucked into adult prisons, and losing all and every protection of being a child.

  15. NiV

    “That’s what all the slavers say.”

    Hyperbole. Name me one genuine slaver who has ever said any such thing.

    “You teach them why it’s a good idea, so they’ll do it voluntarily. You teach them with reciprocity and by example – they see you showing mercy and compassion, tolerance, and love, and…” etc etc.

    Rhetoric. Imitation and reciprocity aren’t working: they may be necessary but they aren’t sufficient. The social and civic virtues require training (ie with some compulsion): they don’t emerge spontaneously or by imitation. No civilised society has ever been sustained or developed by mere imitation or by basic human reciprocity.

    BinSwin:

    “I owe society nothing. Society is just tax -> services. Some of us might pay more or less, but it is a transactional arrangement.”

    Without society, you would not exist. Society, your culture, has made you who you are. The individual is not prior to society (which is the libertarian fallacy): society is the pre-condition for the individual. And society is not the same as the state.

    BiND

    “I’ve now started volunteering at the national sailing academy on the rescue boats for youth racing and if I can fit it in Sailability for the disabled….”

    Very admirable, indeed. But then you are a civilised chap. Where did you acquire your ethic of service?…

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.