Saturday, 7 April 2012
Ruth Porter of the IEA reminds us this morning, should we be inclined to forget, of the poisonous legacy of that utterly loathsome little shit Brown. The man despoiled the British economy and locked generations to come into debt in a vain attempt to establish a Socialist slave state. If any right-thinking Texan lawmen would like to extradite Brown on some charge that carries a natural-life jail term I'm sure we'd be glad to get rid of him with the least possible fuss.
Friday, 6 April 2012
Which is more important, freedom in the little things or the greater freedoms? Rousseau of course realised that an authority derived from the 'general will' was far stronger an authority than that of Kings and their tax-collectors. The fight against smoking, for instance, has little to do with health and a great deal to do with establishing a dominant authority. Toqueville was clear as to the importance of the small freedoms; "It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in the great things than in the little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without the other".
Justice Brandeis, too, was alert to the dangers that the establishment of such authority brought; "Experience should teach us to be most on guard to protect liberty when the governments' purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachments by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
But what has brought us to the pass in which our freedoms are so constrained? When did we give away such power over our own lives? Why am I not today permitted to view a cigarette packet on threat of imprisonment? Robert Nisbet wrote of this new despotism some thirty-five years ago;
Nothing seems to have mattered more to such minds as Montesquieu, Turgot, and Burke in Europe and to Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin in the United States than the expansion of freedom in the day-to-day existence of human beings, irrespective of class, occupation, or belief. Hence the elaborate, carefully contrived provisions of constitution or law whereby formal government would be checked, limited, and given root in the smallest possible assemblies of the people.
What we have witnessed, however, in every Western country, and not least in the United States, is the almost incessant growth in power over the lives of human beings-power that is basically the result of the gradual disappearance of all the intermediate institutions which, corning from the predemocratic past, served for a long time to check the kind of authority that almost from the beginning sprang from the new legislative bodies and executives in the modern democracies.
What has in fact happened during the past half century is that the bulk of power in our society, as it affects our intellectual, economic, social, and cultural existences, has become largely invisible, a function of the vast infragovernment composed of bureaucracy's commissions, agencies, and departments in a myriad of areas. And the reason this power is so commonly invisible to the eye is that it lies concealed under the humane purposes that have brought it into existence.
The greatest single revolution of the last century in the political sphere has been the transfer of effective power over human lives from the constitutionally visible offices of government, the nominally sovereign offices, to the vast network that has been brought into being in the name of protection of the people from their exploiters.
You see, Rousseau's idea of freedom had nothing to do with self-determination. It was a common, 'State' freedom, centrally defined, in which everyone had an equal share whether they wanted it or not. Thus I benefit from the common freedom from exploitation by the tobacco companies by being forbidden to view their cigarette packets.
But somehow this feels as similar to slavery as though I were loaded with chains.
Thursday, 5 April 2012
I regret that I shalln't be among those gathering at the Old Swan but I'll be there in spirit at least, for the demands and effect of the original Chartists have long been lauded on this blog. The original Charter broke the stranglehold of those who believed in their right to rule us. Today we face the same menace, the same arrogance, the same Rotten Parliaments, the same cabal of self-interest and peculative self-enrichment that deny democracy.
Amiable but brainless buffoons in the blogosphere and media who advocate 'politics as a career' are advocating the democratic process as a road to enrichment and self-advancement; the big three parties have lost over 3m members since the 1950s, and now between them have fewer than 1% of the electorate as members. The Tories alone lost over a 1m members between 1979 and 1997 - when in government - as it disempowered local parties and drew power into a metropolitan elite clustered around Westminster, Whitehall and Victoria. A tame and drugged press became willing partners with the elites of the big three, swallowing press releases being much easier work than real journalism. The mandarins of Whitehall have done all they can to establish the dying parties as the permanent Parties of State, to lock a simulacrum of democratic process to the central command and control they've been unable and unwilling to abandon in peacetime. And above all the dark malignant shadow of the Berlaymont, an influence so baleful and evil that it crushes democracy, squeezes the very breath of freedom from the chests of its subject peoples, and makes Satraps of the compliant political class.
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
"In England we use 150l of water per person per day - in France the figure is 110l." was the 'expert's' closing comment on R4's PM today, praising such environmentally sound Gallic behaviour.
The Kermits are equally economical with the soap; a Market Report produced in January 2012 for the European Commission and others claims we in the UK spend €4.82 each on toilet soap every year, whilst across the manche the figure is just €2.13.
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
I do love this story. Switzerland has issued arrest warrants for three tax inspectors from North Rhine Westphalia, who bought stolen data on Swiss bank account holders. It's hard to determine who is displaying more outrage - the Hun, at the Chutzpah of its tiny neighbour, or the Swissies acting like a violated maid.
Monday, 2 April 2012
You can be sure of one thing in respect of the governments pernicious data snooping proposals - that this is an idea from Whitehall. The mandarinate have long dreamed of total access to the nation's emails, tweets and personal data, and thought they'd have no problem forcing through the measures under Labour. The reaction of both the public and the opposition shocked them, and the proposals were quietly put on the 'pending' shelf. Now they've dusted them off and are using Cameron's government to force them through.
Commentators are starting to notice that the public have had it with the Big Three. The data measures are exactly the reason why. The cosy relationship between centralised, metropolitan and controllable permanent political parties and Whitehall suits the mandarinate down to the ground, and so mandarins such as Hayden Phillips and Christopher Kelly will always propose measures that establish the Big Three as parties of State. In return for pushing through the legislation that Whitehall wants, Whitehall will manipulate the system to secure seats in Parliament for the tame State parties.
Osborne, a man with the permanent expression of a furtive Onanist, is no more competent now than he ever was. Treasury officials, who undoubtedly spotted the pratfalls of the Pie Tax and the Granny Tax, allowed him to take the hits. They probably thought he needed a little slapping down, a reminder that he should go back to belting-off in the Ministerial WC during working hours and leave the important decisions to them.
Sunday, 1 April 2012
"Glass of house red and two of house white please, Frank"
"You want the white chilled or ambient?"
"Chilled .. why? ...it's always chilled. What's new?"
"Chilled is 50p extra now. New thermal reduction tax. We're all drinking too many chilled drinks, apparently, and causing global warming. And they need more money for the windmills."
"Madness. Oh, and a glass of water please - ambient is fine haha."