"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?
If life were as simple as a poem, we'd all be poets.
"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.
In his example, I would ask why the local citizenry does not have the ability to regulate the plant. Is it because the larger national government restricts it from doing so? Why would a national government do such a thing at the expense of its own people if people require the state to protect them in the first place?
Seriously, if you are going to tout your defeat of a so-called libertarian as a way of promoting your own beliefs and debating skills, you'd have more credibility if you debated someone with even a modicum of ability and knowledge.
"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:
The state is not the answer. Man's own desire to protect himself and provide for himself and his family is the answer. Are there morons among us? Is there evil among men? Yes to both. Is giving power to individuals who are masquerading as a government entity the solution to the problems of reality? I say, look at history with an open mind, free of agenda, and the answer will be plain to see.
Libertarianism is not currently evolved to the point where it is a panacea for all of mankind's ills, but it is light years ahead of statism and modern day liberalism.