|Zanaib Ahmed, Bahrain|
|Asma Darwish, Bahrain|
|Mohammed Nabbous, Libya|
|Naama Margolis, Israel|
|Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar|
|Marisol Valles Garcia, Mexico|
|Maria Corina Machado, Venezuela|
|Vaclav Havel, Czech Republic|
|8 year-old Naama Margolis is spit on and called |
"slut" because of her immodest dress.
This was so poorly written, I cant even understand your point. And quite frankly, you used quite frankly 3 times in your blog. I'm not pro Obama, but I like to read well written blog posts. If you are going to make your case, make some sense first. Layoff the Fox News while you are at it. It's dumbing you down. - AnonymousI'll go sentence by sentence, take notes:
"This bastardised libertarianism makes "freedom" an instrument of oppression. It's the disguise used by those who wish to exploit without restraint, denying the need for the state to protect the 99%."This is actually sad to anyone who believes in individual freedom. Mr. Monbiot's world-view is that people are pathetic and will be exploited and oppressed unless bureaucrats come to their defense. He believes everyone needs the state to protect them, but he fails to realize that states and statists are the most egregious oppressors of man in the history of mankind.
"Freedom: who could object? Yet this word is now used to justify a thousand forms of exploitation. Throughout the rightwing press and blogosphere, among thinktanks and governments, the word excuses every assault on the lives of the poor, every form of inequality and intrusion to which the 1% subject us. How did libertarianism, once a noble impulse, become synonymous with injustice?"
This is purely subjection with no corroborating facts, but it sounds really sincere and well thought out, so who can argue with it? I would have preferred to actually read actual examples of how the "rightwing press" "blogosphere" and "thinktanks" have oppressed the so-called 99%. Mr. Monbiot is taking theory and falsely applying it to reality as he sees it, which is specious at best and horribly manipulative at worst. The theory of libertarianism when brought to its extreme is in fact anarchy, but modern libertarians eschew anarchy (total liberty) for a philosophy that understands some form of state is necessary, for the good of the whole. This is where people like Mr. Monbiot get lost because they are too busy dividing people by race, or percentage, or some other theoretical divider, to the point of forgetting the smallest minority - the individual.
"In the name of freedom – freedom from regulation – the banks were permitted to wreck the economy. In the name of freedom, taxes for the super-rich are cut. In the name of freedom, companies lobby to drop the minimum wage and raise working hours. In the same cause, US insurers lobby Congress to thwart effective public healthcare; the government rips up our planning laws; big business trashes the biosphere. This is the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak, the rich to exploit the poor.I don't know much about the banking system in the UK so I won't comment on it. I will point out that government rules and regulations on the banking industry will be shown by history to be the main causative factors in the banking implosion in this country. I will also point out that the very same candidate who ran for president by excoriating the "banks" is now the president who sidles up to the "banks" at $38,000 a plate fundraisers. He is also the same president who is blocking at least 20,000 construction jobs to appease environmentalists who contribute heavily to him as well. While I'm at it, I'll also point out that just like I am not fully versed on the UK banking system, it is a foolish thing for someone who is not well-versed on the US healthcare system to use our current healthcare upheaval to prove his point. US insurers were lobbied by Congress and sweetheart deals were cut left and right to instantiate a healthcare overhaul that will likely never be fully implemented because of Constitutional issues and the way the state (federal government) jammed it down the throats of a populace that was in the majority opposed to it. Monbiot's definition of "effective healthcare" is antithetical to the free-market system that for 250 years made America a shining beacon of prosperity, innovation and freedom. Our country is different than yours Mr. Monbiot, and its irresponsible to infer otherwise.
"Rightwing libertarianism recognises few legitimate constraints on the power to act, regardless of the impact on the lives of others. In the UK it is forcefully promoted by groups like the TaxPayers' Alliance, the Adam Smith Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, and Policy Exchange. Their concept of freedom looks to me like nothing but a justification for greed."I have enough trouble keeping up with all the loony movements in my own country to comment on groups in another country, but I will ask if Mr. Monbiot has ever read Adam Smith. If one truly understood libertarianism one would never use the phrase "rightwing libertarianism." There is no such thing. There is libertarianism, which promotes the freedom of the individual to prosper and pursue the maximization of their potential, and there is the stale Left / Right divisions that have clogged political thought since the French Revolution.
"So why have we been been so slow to challenge this concept of liberty? I believe that one of the reasons is as follows. The great political conflict of our age – between neocons and the millionaires and corporations they support on one side, and social justice campaigners and environmentalists on the other – has been mischaracterised as a clash between negative and positive freedoms. These freedoms were most clearly defined by Isaiah Berlin in his essay of 1958, Two Concepts of Liberty. It is a work of beauty: reading it is like listening to a gloriously crafted piece of music. I will try not to mangle it too badly.Mr. Monbiot divulges his prejudices in the second sentence of this paragraph by painting all successful people with a broadstroke brush, surmising that wealth and success is only attained by exploiting the poor, or in the silly parlance of 2011, "the 99%." He also admits that he is firmly opposed to private enterprise by claiming all corporations are evil. The rhetoric is tired and lacking in thought, but Mr. Monbiot believes everything comes from the state, so he is at least consistent. The "millionaires and corporations are bad" philosophy gets far too much prominence from people who don't bother to understand the role the state has in oppressing freedom and liberty. It should be noted that Berlin's essay comes from the same point of view. They are confusing anarchy with libertarianism as they remove individualism and replace it with statism. History has shown this model is a failure.
"Put briefly and crudely, negative freedom is the freedom to be or to act without interference from other people. Positive freedom is freedom from inhibition: it's the power gained by transcending social or psychological constraints. Berlin explained how positive freedom had been abused by tyrannies, particularly by the Soviet Union. It portrayed its brutal governance as the empowerment of the people, who could achieve a higher freedom by subordinating themselves to a collective single will."The only issue I will take with this paragraph has to do with the possibly unintended implications in the use of the words "positive" and "negative" as subjective definitions of freedom, but my beef here is with Isaiah Berlin, not Monbiot.
"Rightwing libertarians claim that greens and social justice campaigners are closet communists trying to resurrect Soviet conceptions of positive freedom. In reality, the battle mostly consists of a clash between negative freedoms."Again, the use of the term "rightwing libertarian" is incorrect and my guess is it is being used here to demagogue to his audience. The parsing of freedom into 'positive' and 'negative' is troubling to me, but it is an accepted terminology in spite of the implications. The green movement, certainly in America, is a movement away from private enterprise toward statism and so therefore, libertarians and the dreaded Right Wing, have a healthy fear of greens. One only needs to look at the loss of freedom -- economic and personal -- Americans have been subjected to since Richard Nixon gave us the EPA. Social justice campaigners would be well advised to separate themselves from the green movement as the two are not mutually exclusive. Lest anyone think otherwise, even us people who believe in personal freedom believe in social justice. We just don't think the bureaucrat is the answer to social injustices. In fact, it's quite the opposite, I firmly believe the cause of most social injustice is the state.
"As Berlin noted: "No man's activity is so completely private as never to obstruct the lives of others in any way. "Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow." So, he argued, some people's freedom must sometimes be curtailed "to secure the freedom of others". In other words, your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. The negative freedom not to have our noses punched is the freedom that green and social justice campaigns, exemplified by the Occupy movement, exist to defend.This is a bit confused here. Humans are not fish, and although I get the metaphor, it's a bit simplistic and it plays only to those who refuse to think about their own place in the world. While no one will argue with the fact that my rights end where your's begin, the Occupy movement has proven that it is not interested in protecting personal rights, but that it is rather more interested in dismantling private enterprise. I also don't believe the green movement is interested in individual liberty and progress. History has proven the green movement is indeed closely tied to statism and the dissolution of the private sector. Certainly a social campaign to protect the rights of those who require protection is something to be lauded, but when the campaign becomes the domain of the state, the state necessarily has to choose winners and losers and that is an affront to personal liberty.
"Berlin also shows that freedom can intrude on other values, such as justice, equality or human happiness. 'If the liberty of myself or my class or nation depends on the misery of a number of other human beings, the system which promotes this is unjust and immoral.' It follows that the state should impose legal restraints on freedoms that interfere with other people's freedoms – or on freedoms which conflict with justice and humanity."As an academic statement, Berlin's words cannot be disputed, but in the laboratory of the real world the problem theorists like Berlin and Monbiot have is they disregard the constant and certain growth of the state. They naively believe the state will be good-hearted to all it is charged with ruling without taking into consideration that the people who run the state will invariably be the same people Berlin and Monbiot are afraid of giving 'negative' freedom to in the first place. This oversight of reality is dangerous. How can those who prefer statism honestly believe that a government made up of people who (as they believe) cannot handle freedom will be able to handle power over other people. It simply is doesn't make sense.
"These conflicts of negative freedom were summarised in one of the greatest poems of the 19th century, which could be seen as the founding document of British environmentalism. In The Fallen Elm, John Clare describes the felling of the tree he loved, presumably by his landlord, that grew beside his home. 'Self-interest saw thee stand in freedoms ways / So thy old shadow must a tyrant be. / Thou'st heard the knave, abusing those in power, / Bawl freedom loud and then oppress the free.' The landlord was exercising his freedom to cut the tree down. In doing so, he was intruding on Clare's freedom to delight in the tree, whose existence enhanced his life. The landlord justifies this destruction by characterising the tree as an impediment to freedom – his freedom, which he conflates with the general liberty of humankind. Without the involvement of the state (which today might take the form of a tree preservation order) the powerful man could trample the pleasures of the powerless man. But rightwing libertarians do not recognise this conflict. They speak, like Clare's landlord, as if the same freedom affects everybody in the same way. They assert their freedom to pollute, exploit, even – among the gun nuts – to kill, as if these were fundamental human rights. They characterise any attempt to restrain them as tyranny. They refuse to see that there is a clash between the freedom of the pike and the freedom of the minnow."In the preceding paragraph, Monbiot uses 'landlord' and 'powerless man' to describe a person who owns property and someone who doesn't own the piece of property in question, and who we are left to assume does not own any property. What Monbiot is actually saying is that personal, or private, property is bad because someone might not like the way a person uses it. This is the ultimate in statism, which is commonly referred to as communism. His simplistic statement that "rightwing libertarians ... assert their freedom to pollute, exploit, even -- among the gun nuts -- to kill" would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that this kind of demagoguery is being bought whole cloth by an entire population of disenchanted people. The very same people who do not realize that it is the state that is propagating their disenchantment, not the guy who owns the land the tree is on. As far as the "gun nut" bit goes, I'll just leave that an argument between divergent cultures for another day.
"Clare then compares the felling of the tree with further intrusions on his liberty. 'Such was thy ruin, music-making elm; / The right of freedom was to injure thine: / As thou wert served, so would they overwhelm / In freedom's name the little that is mine.'"What Clare (and Monbiot) don't mention is, why was the tree felled? Was it taken down to make room for a new home or factory? Was it diseased? Did it present a danger to the property owner's home, and therefore his and his family's life and limb? Was it turned into a piano to make the music that Monbiot so eloquently compares Clare's poem to? Was this a dispute between neighbors that 150 years later will contribute to upending the private sector as we know it?
"Last week, on an Internet radio channel called The Fifth Column, I debated climate change with Claire Fox of the Institute of Ideas, one of the rightwing libertarian groups that rose from the ashes of the Revolutionary Communist party. Fox is a feared interrogator on the BBC show The Moral Maze. Yet when I asked her a simple question – "do you accept that some people's freedoms intrude upon other people's freedoms?" – I saw an ideology shatter like a windscreen."Well, actually, no you didn't. What you did see was one person who was unable to articulate her beliefs, and who therefore should be considered accordingly. Also, I don't know what the "Revolutionary Communist Party" is, but I can pretty much guarantee its members don't have a good grasp on libertarianism. Therefore, to use one person's ideological failing in an indictment of an entire political belief is specious and self-serving. By the way, only an anarchist would refuse to accept that some people's freedoms intrude upon others. Libertarians, right wing or otherwise, understand this and incorporate it into their philosophical struggle.
"I used the example of a Romanian lead-smelting plant I had visited in 2000, whose freedom to pollute is shortening the lives of its neighbours. Surely the plant should be regulated in order to enhance the negative freedoms – freedom from pollution, freedom from poisoning – of its neighbours? She tried several times to answer it, but nothing coherent emerged which would not send her crashing through the mirror of her philosophy."Romania is a former Soviet-bloc country, and anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the environmental and human abuses of the Soviet Union should understand that this is a poor example to use in a debate about libertarianism. As a refresher, the Soviet Union was communist and more to the point, statist, which is exactly what Mr. Monbiot would have us believe is the only thing that can save us from ourselves.
"Modern libertarianism is the disguise adopted by those who wish to exploit without restraint. It pretends that only the state intrudes on our liberties. It ignores the role of banks, corporations and the rich in making us less free. It denies the need for the state to curb them in order to protect the freedoms of weaker people. This bastardised, one-eyed philosophy is a con trick, whose promoters attempt to wrongfoot justice by pitching it against liberty. By this means they have turned "freedom" into an instrument of oppression."Monbiot's issues with the individual's ability to navigate life on his own notwithstanding, I would counter his conclusion this way:
|Back when America wasn't filled with stupid busybodies who|
had nothing better to do than to mess things up, smart people
invented stuff that made our lives better, not worse.
"To staff writer Melissa Segura, soccer in the U.S. had always been the sport of the suburban upper crust, with its pricey youth travel teams, shiny Umbros and halftime oranges cut by mothers who didn't have to work to make ends meet (or by their help)."This statement helps us to understand Melissa Segura's prejudices against her fellow citizens. I don't know where Ms. Segura grew up, but I do know from reading her work that she grew up disliking and resenting a lot of people. Ms. Segura should realize that most moms in America cutting cut up oranges for their kids are struggling to get by and raise their kids to the best of their abilities, just like pretty much everyone else. The inference of course, is that soccer is a white, middle-class sport, and that those white people are living on Easy Street and their Hispanic maids do all the hard work -- like cutting up oranges for Dakota and Jeremy.
"But a month before the 2010 World Cup, Segura toured the predominantly Hispanic trailer parks of Nacogdoches, Texas, where Clint Dempsey, the most inventive player in U.S. soccer history, grew up learning his moves from Latin American players who lived in those double-wides."
"It is not lost on Segura that in the same week she reported Dempsey's story, she also wrote about professional sports leagues' response to Arizona's controversial immigration bill, which targeted the same people Dempsey credited as his soccer influences."What is lost on Segura and the editors of Sports Illustrated (published - not surprisingly by Time, Inc. which only has one political view) is that the Arizona law is based on current Federal law -- and was put in place to protect the citizens of Arizona -- regardless of race -- from lawlessness.
"[players] placing their hands over their hearts during The Star-Spangled Banner even as the Obama Administration announced plans to use drones along the southern border that the relatives of U.S. players Jose Torres and Herculez Gomez had crossed."What Ms. Segura implies then is that laws are of no consequence. We don't know if the relatives of the players mentioned came over legally or illegally, but that distinction doesn't seem to matter to Ms. Segura. What matters to her is that there are people in this country who demand that immigrants follow the laws of their country, and that is insulting to Ms. Segura and her magazine. In Ms. Segura's world, we should not protect our borders or enforce our laws because a good soccer player might not get a shot, or, so I surmise, a person of the ethnic background she approves might not be able to move here. Her naive and poorly informed opinions wouldn't be an issue if it weren't for the fact that she had the power of a major magazine -- a willing supplicant to her prejudices against her country -- at her beck and call.
"While politicians in Washington argued, 23 men from backgrounds as diverse as the country they represented showed what an inclusive America could be."Laws about immigration, or the fact that it is people like Ms. Segura who view people first through the lense of race long before viewing their hearts and actions, notwithstanding.
"'It was sports prefiguring politics,' Segura says. 'The team never addressed issues of immigration or inclusion; it simply played the game -- together -- with regard not to abilities..."She's talking about athletes, so why does that surprise Ms. Segura? It doesn't surprise her one bit, but it does give her a launching point to explain her politics to her readers while she remains cloaked in the false clothing of a journalist. I was personally insulted that I paid for a magazine that was merely a forum for Segura to spout her distaste for the people in America who think respecting the rule of law is a good thing.
"...the way Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson demonstrated decades earlier how much better we can be when we see America's differences as a bounty instead of a burden."What she says here is correct, except her comparison is specious, and she obviously has no understanding of the country she lives -- and earns quite a nice living -- in. She attempts to compare true heroes and pioneers like Robinson and Owens with people who may or may not have come here legally. That is an incredible insult to Owens and Robinson and men and women who fought alongside them for equality. Owens and Robinson were natural born citizens fighting for their rights in a nation that was blind and deaf to the wrongs it was committing. Ms. Segura would have you believe her cause is a parallel to their struggle when it is in fact the struggle of people to do whatever they want, anywhere they want with little or no regard to the rule of law. That is not racism Ms. Segura, and you need to drop your personal prejudices and put some effort into understanding the world outside of your tiny little sphere of experience.
"With a new study out today that provides evidence that those who approach their lives with a spirit of gratitude (when it's deserved of course) to others score higher across a whole number of measures of well-being, it's worth taking a moment for some "social gratitude."
In a world of pepper-spraying cops, genital-groping TSA agents, and a debt-to-GDP ratio that's topped 100 percent, it's sometimes hard to find the good, but despite the ankle weights the state keeps attaching to us, humanity keeps running, moving ever upward.I try to bring as much new material to the discussion as I can, but when someone puts the beauty of libertarianism as simply and eloquently as Mr. Horwitz did, there's no reason to pretend to be able to do it any better.
In the long view, life expectancy continues to rise as do literacy rates. Slavery is in long-run retreat and illegal in every country, and despite the apparent desire of US politicians of both parties to declare war on every small country in the mid-east, deaths from war continue to fall and violence in general continues its decline. Every day the news is full of new secular miracles, from 3-D printers that can produce the head for Jeff Dunham's new dummy to medical procedures that save lives that would have been lost even as recently as a few years ago. The average American household continues to be able to afford fantastic toys that the rich of a generation ago could not have imagined, and poor Americans today are more likely to own basic necessities (not to mention "toys") than was the average American household a generation ago.
And perhaps most important: a diminishing percentage of humanity lives on less than $1 per day, and global income inequality is falling as well.
Even as freedom retreats in some quarters, the freedoms we have left continue to improve the lot of humanity in ways our ancestors could only dream of. The sad part is that we continue to weight and shackle ourselves in ways that are slowing that progress from what it could have been. We do so because too many are too skeptical about the benefits of freedom and those with power (or who want it) are all too willing to take advantage of that skepticism to serve their own interests, both political and corporate. (Ed. Note: Emphasis added)
As we pause to recognize all we are grateful for today, let's also re-commit ourselves to the task at hand, which is to understand the degree to which free people under the right institutions can maximize the degree of social cooperation, peace, and prosperity made possible by the progressive extension of the division of labor and exchange. And let's further re-commit ourselves to taking what we've learned and spreading it to the four corners of the Earth so that the cornucopia so many enjoy in the West can be the reality not just for every American, but for all of humanity." - Steven Horwitz, November 24, 2011
|Coach Chris Olsen (standing) and players from his Wayne Hills HS |
football team attend a Board of Education meeting last month to
appeal for reinstatement of nine players who were charged with
aggravated assault and later suspended from the team.
Photo: New York Daily News