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.