Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Conor Gearty and Tom Harris increasingly deserted by the left

There was a minor flurry on Tom Harris' blog when he was sent a copy of 1984 by the Libertarians. He genuinely couldn't see the problem - and I believe he was quite genuine in being unable to understand why people were so angry about the erosion of our liberties. It was confusing. Why couldn't we see it was all for our own good? he asked.

Conor Gearty is equally confused. Gearty writes:
There are two strands to the concept of liberty which are in opposition here. One is the libertarianism we have just been discussing, the "Englishman's home is his castle" school of thought. The other is the position of the civil libertarian who sees the freedom of protest as essential to the proper running of our democratic state because he or she ultimately believes in the power of the state to do good. The first wants to hide from society, the second wants to make it better.
No, Conor. Firstly the State is not the same as society. And secondly a belief in 'the power of the State to do good' often means a disbelief in the power of society to do good. The Leviathan State and its supporters don't trust society.

As Henry Porter writes
At base, Gearty believes that the collective – that is to say the government's or state's needs – must always trump individual freedom. I take the view that there has never been a state or government that is innately wise or good; that there has never been a state or government that does not need the help of a free people to monitor and scrutinise it and hold it to account. Good government is the product of a free people who are respected by those in authority and are not subject to the kind of suspicion we see in Labour's laws.

Gearty's argument is depressing, for it shows no real love of liberty, merely the habits of enamoured statism.
However, that this argument is being played out on the pages of the Guardian is encouraging. The Guardianistas may come late to the feast, but they are most welcome at liberty's table. Ultimately, it will only be a popular consensus across the political spectrum that will have the impetus to destroy Labour's malignant and corrosive attack on British liberty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gearty is as much of a libertarian as O'Brien in 1984.