Hello everyone and welcome to LibertyGibbert. I hope you find my blog informative, entertaining and worthwhile. Together, I am hoping we can pool our brains, shoot the breeze and just possibly generate, amidst the heat, a little light.
I thought I would start off by sketching out a little about where I am coming from, and my reasons for publishing on this forum. First, a couple of questions for you as conversation starters:
In your opinion, is the world a better place now than it was five years ago? Ten? Twenty? How about when you were growing up? If you answered yes to any or all of these, you probably won’t relate to much of what follows; indeed, if things are so much better than ever now, why waste your life blogging? Switch off that computer, walk out your front door and start experiencing that wonderful world out there! Seriously, I’m happy for you.
For the rest of us: well for openers, look at the newspapers. We appear now to be headed for yet another global financial disaster; the governments of nation after nation are being exposed as having lived beyond their means. Banks and car manufacturers in the USA, having built their bloated fortunes and obscene salaries on a financial house of cards – derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, mortgage-backed securities—all falling like dominoes, then go running to the government to bail them out, on the basis that they are too big to fail! Meanwhile in Europe, Greece appears set to default on its foreign loan repayment obligations, and has triggered a euro-bailout even bigger than the 2009 American version—all of one trillion euros! Based on their spiralling debt-to-GDP ratios Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain appear not far behind and similarly in need of stratospheric euro-bailouts, rendering the so-called “PIIGS” nations, the basket case that gives the lie to the chimera of a modern, united Europe.
Next, to get closer to home, look at your own country. Are taxes higher or lower (count all the taxes you pay, not just income tax. This isn’t always immediately obvious and may take you a little while to work out.) If your taxes are higher, do you receive increased service from the government as a result? And did you request this additional service? Does it cost more or less to feed, clothe and house yourself and your family, and provide the other basics of a decent life – education and health care?
Now look out your window, onto your own neighbourhood. Do you see more or less crime, juvenile delinquency, drug use, traffic congestion or pollution where you live? Are you scared, perhaps, to even venture out your own front door?
What about the law? Are there more or less rules governing your life these days? If you are living in a Western democracy, the question is obviously rhetorical. Who got to decide what these new rules would be? And what was their stated purpose? To keep you from harm? To create a “fairer” society? And if so, do you feel society has become safer or fairer as a result?
So if you’re still here reading this, the question becomes: if things are worse, why??? Far too many people tend to either shrug their shoulders at such a question, or respond with such evasions as it’s the way of the world or, worse, it’s just a fact of life. Well, I refuse to accept such facts of life. I don’t claim to be omniscient, but many years pondering why has led me to some firm conclusions.
It’s hard to put a precise date on it, but from around the first decade of the twentieth century, governments of the West have been offering to take off our shoulders, one after another, the responsibilities we had hitherto taken for granted, or had been met by one or more private institutions. Responsibility towards the poor, for the sick, for the unemployed. Responsibility for administration of local justice, town “planning”, picking up the garbage, even looking out for our own neighbours. Or even ourselves.
Enter the man from the government. Don’t worry he tells us. This is all too much responsibility for you poor folks. It’s society’s job he continues, to take care of all these things. So relax. Hand over responsibility to us. Of course, we’ll have to uhh, tax you to pay for it all, but what a small price to pay for a better, fairer society?
And we believed him. We gave away our responsibility to manage our own affairs. The process wasn’t immediate, it took place over four generations. But it happened nonetheless.
We are now a society in which citizens are not really responsible for any of their own behaviour, aside from the most outrageously antisocial acts – and often not even then.
What was not so immediately apparent however, is that in relinquishing our responsibilities, we also gave away the rights attendent on them. And it’s only now we are starting to wake up to this.
Responsibilities and Rights. You can’t have one without the other. It’s the primary theme of this blog. I’ll be covering example after example of how, under cover of creating a “fairer” society, governments have picked our pockets of the rights our forbears so took for granted, they barely gave them a moment’s thought. And how we, the citizenry, in the process have become infantalized, dependent, irresponsible, and diminished. I’ll be making the case for genuine liberty: that before we can place ourselves in any logical, philosophical or moral position to reclaim our former rights, we must first re-assert and re-claim those corresponding responsibilities, one by one. Then, and only then, can we truly claim to be a free society, in the sense the ancients understood.
I’ll be casting a wide net, pushing the point on a number of fronts: the history of Libertarian and Classical Liberal thought, comparisons of societies, past and present, as to how well they provided the preconditions for liberty, and examples from contemporary society, in government, politics, economics, law, art and science, that enhance or betray the ideal of the Liberated Man. I hope to attract to this blog specialists from all these fields. And I do welcome opposing points of view – indeed, without them, any debate here will inevitably stagnate into a mutual agreement-fest and go nowhere. I don’t intend to moderate any but the most extreme posts (race hate, illegal links—you all know the score on those), and then only reluctantly. So post away!
I’m setting the general direction of the blog. But I don’t want it to be about me—I already know what I think! I want it to be about you. Any suggestions you may have for threads or topics are most welcome.
Share and enjoy!
Yours in Liberty