Russell Taylor: Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty apes!

I wrote a rather long and humourless piece the other day about why the modern obsession with equality is a morally and intellectually bankrupt. To prevent it from turning into novella, I stopped short of explaining why freedom is important to we on the Right, but it’s a point worth making, if only for the benefit of those witless poltroons who say things like, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear from government anal probes.”

The Left sometimes gives the impression of being totally cool about anything the state gets up to, and the more illiberal the better. But this is only the case when its own team is in charge. When Margaret Thatcher censored IRA television broadcasts, leftists were suddenly the world’s greatest advocates of free speech. But now the regulators are on their side, they’re in favour of thought crime and Fahrenheit 451-style book burnings. It’s not so much free speech that they’re after as an untrammelled outlet for their own opinions, at the expense of everyone else’s.

Yes, yes, I know we have a Tory PM in Super Dave, so the Left is not ‘in charge’ as such, but he’s hardly the Iron Lady. And anyway, the Left’s power is no longer with the trade unions or the Labour front bench; it’s in the civil service, the courts, the media and academia – places, in other words, where transient politicians cannot easily reach. Cameron can spin the ship’s wheel all he likes, but the dreadnought of progressive thought will cruise on regardless.

Lefties are happy to ride roughshod over core Western liberties because they are blessed (or cursed) with absolute moral certainty. They consider equality of outcome an incontestable moral imperative, so see nothing wrong with using lies, deceit, propaganda and brainwashing to further its cause. In the same way that few people object to having the freedom to murder taken away, so they regard any infringements in the name of equality to be right and proper.

As I have pointed out with tedious regularity, equality and freedom are incompatible. In fact, inequality is a precondition of freedom. I understand that some people may be willing to surrender a little of their freedom for the sake of greater equality, but this poses a problem for me, because I see things differently and I don’t accept that my freedom should be compromised to mollify their aversion to inequality. It’s stalemate. Or it would be if they didn’t keep electing freedom-hating politicians. Thanks for that.

There’s no point me bleating on about the sanctity of my freedom for the reason above: lefties think equality trumps everything. And they think the more powerful and intrusive the state is, the better equipped it is to stamp on all those troublemakers who upset the egalitarian applecart. No amount of punishment is too great for the heretics in their holy crusade. Got a problem with the welfare state? You’re a suburban Gordon Gecko, who deserves to be taxed into penury. Think the NHS is a Stalinist relic? To the gulags with you. Those East Germans who complained about the Stasi snatching their parents in the middle of the night? Whiny brats who were lucky to avoid the same fate. And so on.

I was going to explain why the Left’s disdain for freedom is abhorrent to people on the Right using a nifty movie analogy, featuring the Death Star or Die Hard’s Nakatomi Tower, but something more mundane will do the job equally well. Imagine you move into a block of flats. You share the building with other residents, but you are not beholden to them. You own your flats privately and there are no communal areas to speak of. One day, a few of the residents take it upon themselves to create a committee. They draw up some rules they expect everyone to abide by and demand the payment of a monthly fee. They also insist that cameras be installed throughout the building to ensure no one breaks any of the rules. In return, they promise to maintain your flat and to help out any residents who is struggling to pay their mortgage. Thanks, but no thanks, you say. But they insist and threaten to lock you in the basement unless you toe the line.

This is clearly outrageous. You’re not accountable to the members of this self-appointed committee. Who made them God, right? They have no right to force rules on you, spy on you, or extract money from you, any more than a stranger in the street does. Just because you happen to live under the same roof as them doesn’t mean you’re part of some communal enterprise and doesn’t entitle them to start laying down the law. This would be the case even if all your neighbours went along with their plan. Their strength of feeling doesn’t make you public property.

This is how people of a libertarian bent see freedom and it’s why they are appalled when the Left tries to snatch it away. But liberals just don’t get this. At this point of the debate, they are liable to smile patronisingly and explain that societies are big, complex things, and that the simplistic principles of the kind found in my analogy cannot be scaled up to a national level. Some kind of controlling body – run by earnest liberals, natch – is needed to keep order, so personal sovereignty must take a back seat.

I reject this. Just look at the world of commerce: millions of commodities being manufactured, traded and shipped every day. It’s a dazzling example of voluntary human interaction producing magnificent results, without anyone being stripped of their freedom by snooty liberal know-it-alls. But this isn’t just a practical matter; it’s about fundamental human rights. Just as liberals think that all rival concerns should be sacrificed on the altar of equality, so we on the Right think there are very few grounds on which our personal sovereignty should be forfeited. We accept the need for a government to oversee a few basic functions (well most of us do, anyway), but that doesn’t automatically grant those who undertake jobs in government with authority over us. It doesn’t matter if they claim to know more than us, to have our best interests at heart, or to represent people less fortunate than ourselves. We are not accountable to them; they are accountable to us. It’s about time they got that into their thick skulls.

9 comments on “Russell Taylor: Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty apes!

  1. AndyL
    November 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    I rather liked your long and humourless post the other day! This is good too. But it is too general. Of course. With more intference, perhaps the 2007 financial crisis could have been averted.

    On another note, if a group of people to band together and decide to buy land and preserve it as a nature reseve, is Owen Pattinson right to say that developers should be allowed to build on via compulsary purchase?

  2. Lord Lunatic
    November 15, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    Good Stuff! I wish they were accountable to us rather than the other way round, after all we are paying their salaries…

  3. Simon Roberts
    November 16, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    It’s been said times but I’ll repeat it – democracy is just tyranny by majority.

    The argument that I’ve come across most frequently in favour of statism is that there are some things that need to be done on a national scale. I actually agree with this in a few cases and the armed forces are an obvious example. The question of course is to what extent this principle should be applied.

    The odd thing is that no matter how badly the state runs its enterprises (denuding the armed forces, incredibly low educational standards, a heath service that would be better named a death service, police transformed into social workers etc) the statists will never will never concede that there is another way.

    Private healthcare and education are demonised as the preserve of the rich, ignoring the fact that the reason most people cannot afford them is that they are being bled dry by the state. The alternative to statism is always falsely presented as anarchy. The alternative to the welfare state is falsely presented as poverty, illness and squalor.

    Incidentally Russell, I’ve noticed that you are using the left/right paradigm a lot recently. These days, the right (at least what most people consider to be the right) are really just statists with slightly different goals. Have you considered describing it in a freedom/statism context instead? I’ts just that Cameron is commonly considered to be on the right and I don’t think he is any more familiar with the concept of freedom than Blair was.

    • Russell Taylor
      November 18, 2013 at 7:02 am #

      Hi Simon. I’ll be covering most of the points you raise in my next piece. I think.

  4. Baron
    November 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    Excellent, Mr. Taylor, brilliant.

  5. AndyL
    November 17, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Little bit of irony here.

    Public Services are accountable to us. In fact so much so that support services often outnumber frontline practitioners in order that they can analysis data and produce Key Performance Indicators, Benchmarking against peers, data for being Beacons of Excellence, a myriad of Governmrnt returns and so on and so on. Just so that we can say, at great expense, ‘we own you but we don’t trust you, bitch’

  6. AndyL
    November 17, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/central_spending_2012UKbn

    This chart suggests that you need to quote from a different Charlton Heston film. Solent Green anyone?

  7. Willy P
    November 18, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    “And anyway, the Left’s power is no longer with the trade unions or the Labour front bench; it’s in the civil service, the courts, the media and academia – places, in other words, where transient politicians cannot easily reach. Cameron can spin the ship’s wheel all he likes, but the dreadnought of progressive thought will cruise on regardless.”

    This is an accurate and terrifying statement. Forget Cameron but in reality is there anybody out there who can change this dynamic? Anybody electable at any rate? Unless the right start fighting the cultural war more effectively we are doomed. First step must be to cancel the BBC licence fee. Maybe let the Scottish secede to keep Labour out of power but then what? I like Ricochet but they seem to be preaching to the converted. Same with this site I suppose.

    James D – why not turn your hand to writing a screen play that subtly promotes rightwing / libertarian values? I by subtle I mean Dances with Smurfs subtle…

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