Back To Basics

Happy New Year to everyone and best wishes for 2016.

As you’re aware, I haven’t published anything here at LibertyGibbert for the last six months. I am undergoing a bit of a career change, and have been tied up with study for much of that time. I have also made good on the commitment I made after the 2013 bushfires, and a good deal of my time is now devoted to community-based volunteer work. One thing on top of another, and blogging has been for me very much a third-order priority.

I thought I might have another go at it this year, but with a somewhat different direction. I have little interest in writing any more about politics, which is the same old human venality, year in and year out. Similarly, writing any more about Global Warming would be a bit like maintaining a fixation with the Y2K bug. I may do something at some stage should the mood take me. But really, there are so many writers who cover these subjects so much better than I ever could, that I feel as though anything I add would be superfluous.

What does interest me, however, is the first principles of Liberty—the theme I originally intended when I created LibertyGibbert nearly six years ago. We live in society; much of our lives depends perforce on our interaction with others. Our language, our culture, our institutions, our laws, are handed down to us by those who have gone before. Yet we demand autonomy; the freedom to act as we please. By what right do we do this? Most Libertarian writers assume this right as an a priori, or axiomatic given. Those, on the other hand, who carelessly mock Libertarians begin with an implicit assumption of the State as a moral agent, with rights of its own which supersede those of individuals. Both sides regard the rights they proclaim as absolute. Neither can be wholly correct, without humanity becoming one-man blank-sheet universes in the case of the former, or soulless ant-men in the latter.

So this year, I will be looking at a number of philosophical approaches to the case for Liberty. I am not a professional philosopher; on the contrary, I will be approaching the subject matter from a determinedly naïve perspective. I am inherently suspicious of those who claim to be philosophers. Douglas Adams had it right in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, when he portrayed them as unionised hucksters on the make, trying to have an all-wise computer turned off lest it put them out of business.

Yet philosophy is important. To get a feel for what I have in mind, I invite you to read this essay by Ayn Rand, originally delivered as an address to the West Point graduating class of 1974. It isn’t about her own philosophy, Objectivism, but rather a more broad appeal to take philosophy seriously, and the disastrous consequences of failing to do so. It is the best apologia for the study of Philosophy that I have ever read.

I’m not certain that musing on philosophy will hold much interest for many people, but I’m really just doing it for myself. As always, anyone is free to join in the discussion, and I welcome opposing opinions. A fortiori, I mean to challenge and examine some of Libertarianism’s core tenets, and this will inevitably involve critical comparisons with various collectivist philosophies. I’ll start off in a few days with a review of a book by an author I’ve been studying in depth for some time. Till then, enjoy what’s left of the festive season.


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4 Responses to Back To Basics

  1. Trapped in CA says:

    Happy New Year, Oz. I got a computer for Christmas (finally), so I’ll stop by more often and say G’day (with a new name). Best of luck in your new ventures.

    Good to see you back. Trapped in CA, eh? You and Msher. A bit too crazy for me – Oz

  2. Ozboy says:

    Still scribbling away. Maybe Tuesday for the new thread.

    Something to watch in the meantime. One of my arcane interests is steam locomotives, and the history of the development of the railway systems of Britain and Australia. Here’s a wonderfully evocative amateur documentary, shot in the early 1960s, of the monumental construction of the Settle and Carlisle line by the London and Midland Company in the 1860s. It was shot at a time when both steam and diesel locos were operating on British Rail, and the villages and stations along the line, strung through the wild fells of Cumbria, seem frozen in time. Even following the doco with Google Earth and Street View today, half a century later, confirms this. Re-tracing the line myself one day is definitely on my bucket list.

  3. karabar says:

    Edward Short makes the following observation:
    “Roger Scruton’s Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, which includes these timely words of wisdom: “The pursuit of equality at all costs, and of a purely noumenala Christian bias is better than Marxist or, indeed, nihilist bias, both of which tend to underestimate or ignore good books and overestimate bad ones emancipation, is vain and even contradictory. Yet, however devastating the proof that equality can be pursued only at the cost of liberty, and unmediated liberty only at the cost of consensual politics, the leftist position bounces back.” Why? Scruton makes a brilliant point when he says that, at heart, the leftist yearns for something that he otherwise affects to despise: religion—he longs for something “that no amount of rational thought… can ever eradicate. And that longing is more easily recruited by the abstract god of equality than by any concrete form of social compromise.” Or, one might add, by Our Lord and Saviour, than whom there is nothing more concrete or more gratifyingly real.”

    G’day Karabar,

    Always like reading Scruton. The Spirit of Tasmania snafu the other day has disrupted my travel plans somewhat, so I’ll be on the road till further notice – Oz

  4. Ozboy says:

    Whew! Home at last. For non-Australian readers who may not be aware, one of the two Spirit of Tasmania vehicular ferries was damaged in high winds the other day while docked at Station Pier in Melbourne. The repairs to the vessel are now completed, although travel to and from Tasmania was disrupted for thousands of travellers, including me and my family.

    I need a few days to get the Ozboy estate up and running again, and I hope to get in a bit of blogging on the weekend. My apologies to those whom I’ve led to expect a new thread earlier.

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