Friday, 31 October 2008

Morality and Libertarianism

Libertarianism means not restricting individuals from doing what they want to do, so long as it doesn't harm others. And it's that second part that's important and that often gets forgotten. Restricting men from raping women isn't 'authoritarian'; forbidding people from taking things that belong to other people isn't 'authoritarian'. For Libertarianism to exist there must be a society and a moral framework within which individuals can make free choices about those things that may benefit both the individual and the society but may cause harm only to the individual.

The moral framework is not a static construct. For us it's based on the ten commandments and Christian theology continuously modified as time goes on. Three hundred years ago we hanged men for buggery (and quite a lot of them) and a hundred and fifty years ago we hanged boys for stealing a watch. Stealing a watch continues to be prohibited whilst consensual buggery is not. That is sound Libertarian change.

However, there's a world of difference between not prohibiting certain actions and activities and using the common wealth to promote them. Just because something's legal doesn't mean it's regarded as moral; sado-masochism is to an extent legal, but few would claim it as 'moral'.

So for all those actions and activities that lie in this grey area it's right that public funds aren't used to promote or encourage them. Individuals must be equally free to use their own funds to do so - that's their free choice. If advertisers want to fund a commercial radio channel that broadcasts puerile filth, fine. If advertisers won't pay, let listeners subscribe. If listeners won't pay and advertisers won't pay don't ask the rest of us to do so.

The same goes for bastardy. Women must be entirely free to bear bastards, but here there is enough evidence that bastards do cause harm to the rest of us that we must be especially careful not to spend our common pot on promoting or encouraging it.

I wouldn't dream of prohibiting indolence, fecklessness and idleness but I'll be damned if I'll pay for it. And folk may destroy themselves with narcotics, but so long as they're not destroying anyone else I wouldn't prevent them - but don't ask me to fund it. And spare me from your zealous nonsense about 'equality'; women who as a population cohort spend years out of the workplace having babies shouldn't command a share of my rewards for my greater ability and experience.

Brown mouthed a load of guff about 'fairness' recently. It struck no echo with the people of Britain who know that Labour is wholly unfair in its policies, and unfair because it's deaf to our common sense of fairness and morality. Columnists often quote the final couplet of Chesterton's 'Secret People' but the penultimate verse should never be forgotten;
They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.

5 comments:

Newmania said...

Good one

TheFatBigot said...

Very nicely put Mr Raedwald and a most persuasive definition of why massive reductions in government spending are possible without doing any substantive harm to anyone or anything that matters.

Anonymous said...

So what would you do about abortion?
It may be the womans body but it deprives the country of a natural born citizen and brings on the great glory of diversity and all its propagators.

Anonymous said...

"consensual buggery" I do not know how those words roll around your lips.

I can only think "Libertarian Brainwashed"

DBC Reed said...

Not the most straightforward of people, Chesterton, to enlist in the Libertarian cause.He fronted up the Distributist League which waws kinda redistributist of property .wealth,power.There are a few American web-sites on Distributism (they take a lot of inspiration from Dorothy Day). The Distributist Review is quite good but you may well find its political emphasis (stemming from Leo xiii's encycical Rerum Novarum) too revolutionary.