Guest Post: UK is wrong to have turned its back on individual freedom

Here at Bogpaper Towers in London we are always impressed with the libertarian and Austrian views of City A.M’s editor Allister Heath. In yesterday’s column he argues that it is about time ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ became a part of UK political debate. He believes that the longer the government and authorities continue to make decisions for us, or ‘approve’ our own decisions the more we shall behave like children.

You can read the original column here.

LIBERTY. Freedom. When did you last hear these two words in the UK political debate? Well, I certainly can’t remember. Our country is dominated by busybodies and collectivists who believe that they and the state have the right and duty to tell us all what to do, to spend our money for us and to control what we can eat, drink, trade or say. It’s all gone too far. Individual freedom and its twin sister personal responsibility are the cornerstones of successful Western, liberal capitalist societies; yet these are being relentlessly undermined. Ultimately, there is no difference between economic and social freedoms. Attacking one endangers the other.

So this is my plea: let’s put the emphasis back on the individual. Let’s stop trying to ban everything. Let’s stop describing a tax cut as a “cost” to the government or – even worse – as morally identical to public spending. Let’s stop assuming adults should no longer have the right to eat fast food, or smoke, or drink, or paint their walls bright green, or build a conservatory in their back garden, or whatever it is they wish to do with their own bodies and with their own private property. Let’s once again speak up for the rights of consenting adults to choose how to live their own lives, even if we disapprove. Let’s allow people to hold, discuss or display their beliefs freely, especially if we disagree.

Let’s recall what Robert Nozick, the great twentieth century libertarian philosopher once said: “Individuals have rights, and there are things no person or group may do to them without violating their rights.” Nozick wasn’t just talking about the big human rights everybody still pays lip service to – he was also arguing against all the other, supposedly low-level, reductions in individual freedom. We have turned our backs on the ideas that made the West great and prosperous.

The problem is that if one treats adults like children they eventually behave as such. The result is a culture of irresponsibility, of entitlement and of buck-passing. Freedom is tough. It’s not easy to take responsibility for one’s actions. It’s easier to hide behind the nanny state and to demand protection from oneself. It’s simpler to live in a stagnant, boring, ultra-regulated society than in a dynamic, creative and slightly risky world. But it’s high time we tried freedom again. It’s more fun, it’s more exciting, it’s more entrepreneurial – and ultimately, believe it or not, it actually works pretty well.

4 comments on “Guest Post: UK is wrong to have turned its back on individual freedom

  1. Little Miss Messy
    April 17, 2012 at 11:50 am #


    It makes me sick how people don’t take control of their lives and raise lazy, spoilt generations.

    Our country has forgotten how to live. When I was a girl I never thought that the National Trust would publish a list of 50 things children should do before they are 11, like climb a tree, dance in the rain, throw some snow etc.

    This nanny state has gone way too far. Too much control, too many restrictions, too much dumbing down, too many handouts to name but a few.

    We can’t breathe.

    If you treat people like children they will act like children.

    If you give people handouts they will expect handouts.

    If you give people credit, they will take it whether they can repay it or not.

    If you interfere with parenting, parents will give up on parenting and send their children to school in nappies (this is happening more frequently).

    This country is truly brainwashed by the govt., media, teachers/education, eco warriors etc etc.

    God help us.

    • West Tipp
      April 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

      I totally agree! Just back from a State Organised Entreprenurial Evening here in Dublin. The Irish Gov are trying to create 15 Global Food Entreprenurs. I saw “red” straight way. Instead of feeling fired up, I felt as though if I embarked on their “journey”, I would be controlled and told what to do with my business. I told the lead organiser, that the state could not create entreprenurial activity and said my goodbyes.

      In our little country, its the people who are saving it at the moment and
      will continue you. Our government is ruining us.
      A friend said to me this afternoon – ” I feel as if Ireland is in a
      Social experiment”.

        April 19, 2012 at 9:28 am #

        Thanks West Tipp. Great comments and interesting to hear about the State Organised Entrepreneurial Evening. It’s interesting how governments are happy to control businesses when they have seemingly lost control of their own.

        We are not just in a social experiment but also a monetary one, one which has been proven to fail time and time again. Unfortunately it has resulted in this social experiment which creates more bad feeling and makes individuals worse off.

        Have you seen our videos which we posted today? It may be of interest to you.

      April 19, 2012 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks Little Miss Messy for your comments.

      The Nanny state has seemingly gone too far. Let’s hope that more people like you are able to recognise the damage too much interference and nannying can do. Hopefully Bogpaper can start expanding so more people such as ourselves are able to join in the debate.

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