David Selbourne


They now share the overarching belief that a “market economy”, espousal of the “values of the market” and exercise of the “right to choose” are preconditions of human progress and wellbeing. Instead, as the internal social condition of free societies worsens, we can see that free enterprise and moral licence are now two sides of the same coin. The free market and the free lifestyle go together; the privateer and the libertine are birds of a feather.

Extentions of human liberty in the economic and social sphere are undesirable in just what manner?

Britain\’s social crisis demands more public spending, not less; as the country falls into recession, more intervention is needed, not less. A small state and low taxes will not cure the ills that are daily increasing public alarm. Only a strong state can. You cannot repair the “broken society” while simultaneously “leaving people to live their own lives”, as Mr Cameron has put it.

Snigger. That broken society has, in great part, been caused by the expansion of the State into parts of our lives where it should not be. The solution is to extend it further?

It is to laugh.

The 19th century\’s oppositional movements – communism, socialism, trade unionism – have been defeated or humbled. These outlets for public action have gone. This, too, is a danger in times that have much in common with the Thirties. They are times when national self-repair is required, when the “free society” needs to be protected from itself,….

You could run Oswald Mosely on that: no, no thank you, I really don\’t want to have such a "national renewal" movement.

8 thoughts on “David Selbourne”

  1. Selbourne wrote a load of incoherent, authortarian garbage recently at the Spectator and what was depressing was how his article was treated as some sort of incredible wisdom by the Speccy’s editor, D’Ancona. Tim, if you have any leverage with the Spectator, tell them not to commission drivel by this man. It is embarrassing.

  2. the privateer and the libertine? wtf? What does he think privateer means? (For those too lazy to check, a privateer is a quasi-official pirate ship attacking and plundering enemy craft during times of war, and by extension someone who serves on a privateer is a privateer also.) I guess he thinks it has something to do with someone who prefers their property to remain private or something. Arse

  3. The free market and the free lifestyle go together; the privateer and the libertine are birds of a feather.

    Damn straight, and that’s the way we like it.

  4. I can agree with the first part of the quote, John; I just don’t understand the part after the semi-colon. A privateer is not a friend of private property. Perhaps Selbourne is confused about what a privateer is, and has flourished this admittedly euphonious phrase in ignorance; or perhaps he does think that private property is a form of theft…

  5. an explanation? Maybe he dictated this article down the phone and the poor sap on the other end misheard profiteer for privateer? But then that does rather put the onus on the shoulders of the editorial staff at the Times; although, having read the article, I can see why no one wanted to give it any thought, so confused and clotted is it.

    (I know this is hardly worth such an expense of mental energy but it’s going round and round in my head.)

  6. A privateer was an agent of the state.

    All of the ills he talks about have been exacebated by the removal of the costs associated with bad decisions, ie. welfare.

  7. Surely, all your disdain notwithstanding, Selbourne makes a crucial point that should be applauded by this blog? He observes that economic freedom in the form of the market and personal freedom in making lifestyle choices are closely connected. Whilst you disagree vehemently about whether these are desirable, are you not united in exposing the hopeless inconsistency of most Conservatives, who lament social liberalism while celebrating the market?

    Tim adds: Fair point, as it would be the other way around, with the economic authoritarians and social liberals.

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