Well, no Owen, not really

It is often put to me that this is my inevitable trajectory. The leftist naivety of my earlier years will ultimately give way to hardened, real-world rightwingery, so the story goes.

….

To remain rooted in a movement and the struggles and campaigns of people fighting for social justice is probably the best insurance policy.

The point really is that as one ages one gains, hopefully at least, some wisdom. And thus realise that the double freedom ticket, the free marketry and the social liberalism, is the method of achieving whatever social justice is possible.

This does not preclude interventions in the economy, or in the wider societal arrangements. It does not mean praising capitalism: nowt wrong with as many cooperatives as anyone wants to take part in. Doesn’t mean that government cannot or should not finance health care or education, does not imply the abolition of the welfare state: although it might mean changes in the method of delivery. It just means that to the maximum possible people should be allowed to be consenting adults and do as consenting adults wish to do.

Note that this is entirely different from conservatism. Hitchens, who you were talking with, has gone from wishing to impose one vision of society, the Trot one, to imposing a different one, the conservative one. Drug takers should not be allowed to take drugs, for example. He’s just an authoritarian who has changed what he thinks are the right impositions the populace should suffer under.

The true liberal is able to make the connection between the right of an adult to fellate whichever other adult consents to supplying the piece to be fellated with the right of an adult to buy an apple from whoever consents to supply one.

The double freedom ticket.

39 thoughts on “Well, no Owen, not really”

  1. Also, as you get older both your income and your wealth are likely to have increased. You’re less keen on tax rises when it’s your money they want.

  2. It is no surprise to me that Lones & Hitchens get on. Both are authoritarians, wanting to impose their views on the rest of us, ‘for our own good’.

    Much like many Christians feel more comfortable with Muslims, Hindus, observant Jews etc, than with agnostics & atheists. A shared delusion – even if the details differ – is better than a complete rejection of delusions altogether.

  3. As Jones gets money for his views and changing them to e.g. supporting UKIP or the Tories would result in him losing his money, he will not change his views.
    This is why people who work in the public sector all their lives stay left wing – self interest beats life experience.

  4. I think a lot of it’s to do with the nature of family and childhood. We all grow up in dictatorships. If we want something to improve, we have to petition the dictators (parents or teachers) to agree to benevolently give their subjects that improvement. We should not be surprised that children released into the real world expect it to work the same way, and can take a good few years to adjust to the new paradigm.

  5. The point really is that as one ages one gains, hopefully at least, some wisdom.

    Yes, okay, but Owen Jones? It’s a tendency not a rule.

    Sq2

    We all grow up in dictatorships.

    And the family, certainly, has more than a tinge of communism about it. Central planning (however ineffective), mass distribution of resources, collective ownership (with all of the problems that creates – see endless television remote control debates) etc, etc.

  6. It’s also about things like being challenged about your views. You go to work and realise that “the bosses” aren’t the comic caricature of the left, spending half the day on the golf course and the rest of the day abusing the secretaries, but often working harder than the workers. That they aren’t evil, but mostly decent. You realise that a lot of companies aren’t bottomless pits of money, especially when the owner loses his shirt on it, and comes off worse than you do in that situation.

    My neighbours are old, retired Guardian lefties. And they are, because their histories are: raised by lefty parents, school, university, NHS (him), social work (her). Every influence, except me, is a lefty.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 9:06 am

    As Jones gets money for his views and changing them to e.g. supporting UKIP or the Tories would result in him losing his money, he will not change his views.
    This is why people who work in the public sector all their lives stay left wing – self interest beats life experience.”
    I’m currently working as an industry expert for the Governement on an infrastructure project working very closely for and and with civil servants as well as having spent a couple of tours working with MoD civil servants when I was in the Army.

    I can assure you civil servants gain no life experience whatsoever and are therefore unlikely to change their views.

  8. The double freedom ticket is nicely put but not immune to counter argument. A socialist can argue that economic freedom is basically theoretical if you don’t have the money to exercise it. So a socialist libertarian or liberal can argue for freedom in personal and sexual affairs, plus a largely centrally-run economy that regulates prices and incomes in such a way that all members of the society enjoy the “true” economic freedom of being able to afford a choice of apples in the first place.

    Of course ASI types can counter that by talking about inefficiency of centrally-directed economies and the virtues of a basic income guarantee to give skint people a minimum level of choice, which is well and good, but I don’t think the double freedom ticket argument will be particularly convincing to the unconverted since, particularly if they are deeply concerned with inequality, they may not associate free markets with economic freedom at a personal level – quite the opposite in fact.

  9. @MBE,

    I think you can argue for modest redistribution from that POV, but not for central planning and collective ownership.

  10. And if the anarchic wing of Libtardistan had sufficient brain cells to understand that redistribution and central planning of the economy are two different things we might have a far broader and deeper (real) liberal coalition to take to this increasingly authoritarian (whether socialist, conservative, or islamist) world.

  11. BIG

    Dunno, think you can argue for pretty much full-blown communism from that PoV (as Owen might have done, at least in an earlier incarnation). Your point re distribution and planning being separate is a good one and makes you wonder how lefties would feel once they discover The Truth About Scandiland.

    Experience suggests they mostly go from being fans of the Nordic approach, to hating it… Despite its objective outcomes not being far different from what they previously believed, they can’t stomach the mechanism.

  12. When one wonders around an oppressive, profit-based supermarket one is accosted by displays of gorgeous healthful apples one can’t afford while trudging around to the microwave meal section* to purchase the crap diet that modern capitalism has reduced its serfs to. This provokes the jealousies inherent to an unequal society. Probably that jealousy of the rich and their choice between those lovely red and green apples will cause you stress that will kill you, via The Spirit Level Effect, unless some other bastard aspect of capitalism finishes you off first!

    Breathe. And now we dream of an ideal future…

    When one wonders around a shiny, person-centered National Food Service outlet, then all of us – from the highest intelligentsia of professors of sociology to the lowest-skilled luggers of breeze blocks around construction yards – will have the free choice of using our Food Credit Points on either red or green apples. What choice we have! Those godawful microwave meals were tools of capitalist oppression and far too unhealthy for us; our ration cards that store our Food Credit Points can’t be used on them, For Our Own Good. But yum! We can all have extra salads for our families instead, to ensure the next generation of socialist workers grow up fit and strong and unoppressed!

    * I hear you cry: are not microwave meals in fact more expensive than fruit and vegetables? Could people on benefits not eat healthily at supermarket prices if they had the knowledge and skills required? Well firstly that’s a decent portion of “if” right there. And secondly, get with the paradigm folks. The paradigm says that capitalism is starving us by feeding us profitable crap, and also Food Banks In Buckinghamshire – which essentially ends any reasonable argument in four easy words! (And being serious again for a moment, benefits sanctions have some pretty evil knock-on effects which is yet another reason foe making basic income unconditional.)

  13. In fairness to Hitchins he is relatively a supporter of leaving people alone except when it comes to drugs about which he has a demented bee in his bonnet

  14. “And if the anarchic wing of Libtardistan had sufficient brain cells to understand that redistribution and central planning of the economy are two different things ”

    So which of these two particular charmers are you arguing in favour of Biggie? Thieving or tyranny? The form of words suggests it is one or the other but it isn’t clear.

  15. @MrEcks,

    I wondered if you might, rather revealingly, take offence at my reference to anarchic libtards who also happen to be challenged in the brain cell department!

  16. For the record – for the thievery, against the planning. Pure utilitarianism, in that tolerating a certain level of thievery is better than having total anarchy. The only questions to be answered are how much thievery (>0) leads to optimal outcomes, and what to do with the proceeds.

  17. You are a walking offence Biggie so don’t worry about any one point.

    The tired old tropes about state thieving vs “anarchy” & anarchy=violent chaos suggest it is your grey matter that is passing its sell-by date rather than any “libtards”. However the fists/boots of a few state-sponsored Club 18-30 Syrian “refugees” thudding into your cranium as they rob your Teutonic home may yet wake you up as to how the state prevents violent chaos.

  18. I think Jones came across as reasonably genial and engaging in that chat with Hitchens. Despite their political differences it was a quite affable and interesting exchange between them.

    With practice, I think he may be a lot better suited / more skilled at that than as a columnist / writing?

  19. @Fecks,

    I’d prefer Syrian refugees over your brand of Trittbrettfahrer any day, and I am not remotely supportive of more Muslims settling in Europe.

    Again for the record, I would provide secured camps with basic facilities and provisions in line with our moral and legal obligations, plus free flights back to Syria any time the inmates want it. No less and more.

  20. Fecks, you are the absolute poster child for the failure of liberalism. Because you (like many) subscribe to an utterly selfish, self-righteous, and purely greedy extreme form of libertarianism you cannot countenance a coalition with people who actually share more of your views than you disagree with. Instead, you have to set up a strawman of your potential closest allies as your deadliest enemies. To you the world is divided into Fecks and perhaps 2 other like-minded people, and everyone else (all of whom are apparently muslim-loving tax-raising communists).

    Perhaps for the sake of our civilisation you will some day stop seeing everything in such black and white terms. But I doubt it, given that black-and-white them-and-us is strongly correlated with below-average function of the frontal lobes.

  21. BiG:

    Ecksy is deranged but harmless. And, when he takes his medication, he can make some decent points, even if he is still a little intemperate in his language.

  22. PF:

    Yes, I thought the same about Jones. He is a convinced and dogmatic socialist, but apparently he is not motivated by hatred and he seems fundamentally good-natured. That said, like so many socialists, he doubtless believes that the end justifies the means and would have few qualms at seeing readers of this blog in front of a firing squad, if there were ever a ‘revolutionary situation’. After all, our elimination would be for the greater good of a socialist society.

  23. Theo–thank you for your kindly remarks. I sort of hope your investments will be alright in the end but I doubt it. Not with BluLab at the helm. The Victoria and the Camperdown were in wiser and safer hands than this country.

    Biggie–second thoughts more frenzied than the first eh.

    Opposed to embracing Syrian refugees? Does Angela know?

    I agree with your secured and as pleasant as possible camps. But right next to Syria not up here. Greece–if well paid(they need the money and any escapees will be amongst hostiles).

    “Fecks, you are the absolute poster child for the failure of liberalism. Because you (like many) subscribe to an utterly selfish, self-righteous, and purely greedy extreme form of libertarianism you cannot countenance a coalition with people who actually share more of your views than you disagree with.”

    I point out that the state is the major cause of and chief actor in this worlds never ending drama of thievery, violence, chaos and more violence. A cursory glance at the last 100 years will show as much to anyone who looks with their eyes open. War, mass-murder, economic ruin and waste of cosmic proportions on every hand. You don’t agree so I should throw in with some half-arsed community of saints who will do what? You are hardly going to take down the state–an institution you approve of. So what is going to be the result? A kindler, gentler, less corrupt state? If I filled up the next 500 lines with BWAHHAAHHAHAHHAHAHA it wouldn’t scratch the surface of what a joke that is.

    “Instead, you have to set up a strawman of your potential closest allies as your deadliest enemies. To you the world is divided into Fecks and perhaps 2 other like-minded people, and everyone else (all of whom are apparently muslim-loving tax-raising communists). ”

    Overwrought and meaningless. You support what I call evil. Your support may be conditional and not all out but you still won’t ever strike at the root–the idea that the collective outweighs the individual because you believe that–on some level at least.

    However you give me a list of what this joint enterprise of me and my “potential closest allies” are supposed to work for and I’ll tell you if I could find it in my below average functioning frontal lobes to support it.

  24. Owen Jones is a complete and utter mental cripple. His tender years and downy cheeks do not excuse this level of cosmic fuckwittery [from Guido’s comments]:

    (someone had compared Boris Johnson’s mayoralty to the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, rather humorously I thought, as in militarily insignificant but the first time the fight was brought to the enemy on their own territory. Up pipes wee Owen)

    “The Doolittle raid caused the Japanese to invade even more of China to deny its use as an airbase, resulting in tens of thousands of Chinese civilians deaths. Well thought out US foreign policy was alive and well even 75 years ago”

    Me: “Seriously? That’s your take on it? Don’t bomb the people who bombed Pearl Harbor because it might piss them off and make them do bad things? Even as an adolescent piss-take that’s pretty pathetic. As a serious critique of wartime strategy it’s fucking mental.”

    The Boy Wonder: “Pearl Harbor – Military target
    Tokyo – Civilian target”

    Bloke in Costa Rica (for it is he): “Oh good Lord. It’s nice to see you have the same firm grasp of military history as Richard Murphy does of economics, which is to say: none. You and your gang of comedy Trots are going to be an absolute hoot for the next five years. I’d better lay in a good supply of popcorn to watch the festivities.”

    I mean, honestly, what sort of response can you make to such a degree of fatuous, ignorant, puffed-up Sixth Form wank like that? Other than a thrupenny one up the bracket?

  25. “The Victoria and the Camperdown were in wiser and safer hands than this country.”

    I like that, ecksy: I will dine out on it.

  26. BiCR

    I think that was (partly tongue in cheek) what I was getting at!

    Ie, when he’s interviewing someone, we’re hearing a little less from him and a little more from the other… And as I say he is actually quite engaging with it.

    Theo – I think the underlying strategy would be one of conversion! Put him in front of some sensible people and you just never know… I had a sense from both the Guardian article and the interview with Hitchens that he’s perhaps beginning to examine and explore his own beliefs?

  27. No, sorry, there’s no irony to be found there. This is the way people like him think. Calling the prosecution of WW2 in the Pacific ‘US foreign policy’ isn’t a slightly infelicitous coinage or an attempt at humour. The only cheek Owen Jones has his tongue in is Jermey Corbyn’s arse cheek.

  28. @Fecks,

    It’s quite the opposite. It’s the lack of a functional state that is at fault for much of the world’s misery, and the landing of millions of variously-dispossessed peoples (whether through war or economics) on Europe’s front lawn. The Assad regime, for its many ugly faults, was a functional government but is no more. Eritrea has its long yearned-for independence from the Mengistu terror and has managed the incredible feat of finding a dictator even worse. No one on earth would argue that Iraq is a more functional country now than under the evil Saddam. Pretty much the only place the anarcho-libs can point at is Somaliland, which isn’t a country according to anyone else and I don’t see to many libtards moving there.

    Much (obviously not all) of this can be laid at the feet of the Bush/Bliar delusion that you could topple a dictator, empty the prisons, disband the army and civil service, and western liberal democracy would spring up in its place. Totally ignoring the lesson of history that freedom had to be fought for (and yes, compromised on thereafter for the sake of a functional state) and that millions of lives were spent on achieving it from roughly the time of the French/American revolutions through the end of world war 2. Now a resurgent Russia is preparing to fill in the gaping holes (rather, total absence) in Western foreign policy, while we should be assembling the Syrian elites to establish a Syrian government in exile (which would inevitably be a dictatorship, ideally along Korean lines, for the first few years) and working out how to reunify that country and free it of the Islamic nutters (pace Bush/Bliar) that very few of the current population seem to actually want in charge.

    How could a minarchist, let alone anarcho-libtard state do that? Expenditure, investment in fact, in its own future interests. Even worse than we are doing at the moment.

  29. @Fecks.

    Your point about individual versus collective is worthy of a response. There are some things where promoting a collective interest over the interests of individuals does lead to better outcomes, which is why I think we do need some form of state. What you forget is that I always start from the opposite end of the argument – with individual interests – and want those restricted in the interests of the collective only where there are good reasons to do so. That is quite the opposite from the statist you care to portray me as.

    For a totally trivial example, it’s in the collective interest (but not always mine) that I can’t drive past a kindergarten at 100 mph. Indeed it may even be in my interest that I be stopped from doing so, so that the parent of some kid I mow down doesn’t come after me with a Kalashnikov. The threat of the state coming after me with a driving ban (or even prison) is better than the meting out of individual justice.

    Anarcho-libs like you have an unrealistic expectation that people are reasonable and sentient (at least as reasonable and sentient as you are), and thus won’t do stupid things to other people, even when afforded the freedom to do so. Your persistence in that belief only belies the limited exposure you have actually had to the real world, which is full of thick selfish fuckers who don’t give a shit about anyone else and react only to the threat of punishment.

  30. You also seem to think that in the absence of a functional state the local gang chief won’t raise taxes. Go set up a restaurant or pension in Campania or Sicily and see what happens.

  31. You also seem to think that in the absence of a functional state the local gang chief won’t raise taxes.

    Unless he’s providing a useful service, the local gang chief needs the police to protect him from his victims. He also needs the state to keep his income high by prohibiting the things he sells, thereby artificially increasing his profits.

  32. BiCR

    “The only cheek Owen Jones has his tongue in is Jermey Corbyn’s arse cheek.”

    And which, gloriously, if the pundits are right, we are all about to have ring side seats for!

  33. @Edward M Grant,

    How is that state working out in Syria, Iraq, Somalia, …?

    Do they need a functional state to protect warlords? I think not.

  34. “The Assad regime, for its many ugly faults, was a functional government but is no more.”

    Assads crew put people in little tin boxes with their knees under their chin for days if not weeks. You might regard that as acceptable for the “benefits” of his rule–I do not.

    You have it ass-backwards Biggie. What goes on in this world that is worthwhile is voluntary. Did you acquire your wife or whatever by chloroforming her and installing her in your mansion ? Was she sent a letter telling her she is going out with you –ÂŁ500 fine for first refusal, 6 months in jail for a second?. No you asked her and she said yes. Everything good about this world is in that form (Thanks to Stephan Molyneux for the illustration).

    What about evil gangs . Well that is what states are. Are they less oppressive than outright crimmi-gangs ? Well the Mafia doesn’t give a shit about how you live your life so long as you pony up the cash. One up for them on the increasingly nasty and meddling states that now exist.

    States that weren’t too bad –US,UK etc gradually turn nastier and nastier . If you argue that the state = stability then where is Europe pre-1914? They were stable enough states and they fucked everything up and did it again twenty-years later Your grand plan for the Syrian sort-out (I have no doubt meant with the best will in the world) will start to go wrong from day one. Just as it did in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. It doesn’t work that way.

    We live in a world were most have been schooled that the sun shines out of the state’s arse and the state is the only alternative to violent chaos.No. The state is like a large spring which gradually winds things up tighter and tighter to ensure that there will be another outbreak of violent chaos and that it will be more intense. The state is a storehouse for future conflict. Deposit your minor troubles there and marvel as the bungling, venal custodians of humanity’s future turn minor matters into absolute disaster.

    “There are some things where promoting a collective interest over the interests of individuals does lead to better outcomes, which is why I think we do need some form of state”

    Sorry Biggie but you are fucked right there. There is no collective interest. That illusion may be created by a situation were lots of individuals interests run side by side (such as not allowing the Mid-East’s 18-30 male yob population to be imported over here) but that is collective only as an epiphenomenon. Talk of collective interests = the interests of which collection of power-seeking twats who end up running the show.

    ” it’s in the collective interest (but not always mine) that I can’t drive past a kindergarten at 100 mph. Indeed it may even be in my interest that I be stopped from doing so, so that the parent of some kid I mow down doesn’t come after me with a Kalashnikov. The threat of the state coming after me with a driving ban (or even prison) is better than the meting out of individual justice.”

    Again no. The state can’t stop me driving past a nursery at 100 miles an hour. It can make all sorts of threats about what it will do but it can’t stop me. No doubt that even now Jihadis across Europe are thinking about driving at 100 through groups of kids coming out of nursery never mind past them. All the state can do is put off those with little motivation to do evil anyway. Hardly a triumph given the colossal cost of the state in cash and every other way.

    “Anarcho-libs like you have an unrealistic expectation that people are reasonable and sentient (at least as reasonable and sentient as you are), and thus won’t do stupid things to other people, even when afforded the freedom to do so. Your persistence in that belief only belies the limited exposure you have actually had to the real world, which is full of thick selfish fuckers who don’t give a shit about anyone else and react only to the threat of punishment.”

    This last bit is priceless. The world is full of thick selfish fuckers except for those special snowflakes who make up the state. ” They are keen, selfless guardians of humanity ( cue FBI music and stentorian American announcers voice) who serve, not for themselves but for the good of all.”
    Yes humanity is badly flawed and there is no more flawed and vile bunch than those who wish to lord it over their fellow beings. If you can come up with a plan to have a seat of power that doesn’t attract power-seeking shite please let me know. A plan that works that is.

    Finally–as for Mafia depredations on businesses. There is nothing to stop ordinary people killing Mafia thugs or hiring muscle (not all of which is corrupt: there are a few good guys and heroes) to do so. Except the scum of the state. Who would much rather you cowered before or were killed by the Mafia than have you discover your own power and potential. If you got a taste for putting crooked and violent groups out of business were would that leave them ? A people well-armed and belligerent who won’t take any shit from criminal scum might just decide not to take any more shit from political scum either.

    Please make brevity the soul of wit reply-wise Biggie–this War and Peace stuff is wearing on the composition skills.

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