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April 25, 2019



"In the last few days we’ve seen rightists attempt to bully Greta Thunberg out of the public sphere rather than engage with her arguments;"

That's right. Because unelected people taking actions that disrupt ordinary peoples lives, going on television issuing lists of demands, are not engaging in arguments. They are enforcing their views on people against their will.

There has been plenty of discussion around the UK's success in lowering carbon emissions and increasing use of renewable energy, most of which the XR people refuse to acknowledge.


... and Dawn Foster is the price we pay for Free speech. Long may she continue to write rubbish.


"If it is people like you who will exercise power, and minorities or working class people who’ll be on the dirty end of it, you’ll be relaxed about arrogating power to the state."

Brexit in a nutshell.

Ralph Musgrave

The basic flaw in Chris’s argument is that restrictions on freedom for some exist so as to enhance the freedom of others. The London Underground ban on alcohol which Dianne Abbot ignored exists so as increase the freedom of ordinary Underground passengers to enjoy their journeys free from larger louts, vomit and drunken brawls.

And restrictions on immigration enhance various freedoms of the native population: e.g. the freedom to buy houses at a reasonable price, and the freedom to go for walks in the countryside rather than see more of the country disappear under concrete. Restrictions on immigration also tend to increase the freedom of the native population being able to buy meat from animals slaughtered in a humane way, rather than via Halal methods.


Fair points, Chris. But you'll forgive others for pointing out that the Left's record on freedom is no less problematic. Plenty would like to outlaw private schools and healthcare, police the language people use and force social mixing through housing policy, to give just a few examples.

I appreciate you write as a decentralising Marxist, but equally, you represent a niche within the Left and one might say that similar niches exist within the Right and Centrism which agree with you.

Alternatively, the debate becomes definitional. What Left and Right mean by 'freedom' are different, but no less intellectually valid. Perhaps we need different words for them? Freedom from want vs. freedom of choice seems to be the usual dividing line, no?


"... and Dawn Foster is the price we pay for Free speech. Long may she continue to write rubbish."

At the risk of lowering the tone, her headshot in The Guardian reminds me of Hancock's self portrait in The Rebel.


"Because unelected people taking actions that disrupt ordinary peoples lives, going on television issuing lists of demands, are not engaging in arguments. They are enforcing their views on people against their will."

But unelected bosses giving orders that pollute the planet and so disrupt ordinary peoples lives is fine? I guess, for the right, profit always wins out against individual rights (or do externalities not count as violations of an individual's property rights?)

And, surely, the protesters are also "ordinary people"? How do we class people as "ordinary"? In-so-far as they do not act to improve their conditions? In other words, have a slave mentality?

As for "not engaging in arguments," well, we have been arguing over pollution since at least the 1960s (see Murray Bookchin's classic works, for example). The science of the issue is proven beyond reasonable doubt. So people have been winning the argument for decades -- and nothing much has changed, thanks in part to bosses of corporations ("unelected people") funding think tanks and pressurising government not to act.

And, finally, the right have a long history of supporting fascism. von Mises and von Hayek happily supported fascist regimes:

Propertarianism and Fascism

Particularly to crush the labour movement because, you know, they are "unelected people taking actions that disrupt ordinary peoples lives" -- you see, rebel workers are not "ordinary people" and the State should crush them...

I guess this shows that the right are not interested in liberty -- unless it is the "liberty" of the capitalist class to do what it likes...

Jan Wiklund

It's all about who is at liberty of causing nuisance to others.

There will always be laws, even in an imagined perfectly egalitarian society. And laws imply restriction of some people's freedom. In an inegalitarian society you will have some laws restricting liberty for all for the benefit of all, but also laws restricting liberty of the poor to the benefit of the rich.

The trouble is distinguishing which is which.


@Jan Wiklund

If you want to put and keep people in a state of homeostatic perfect equality, you’ll have to apply massive amounts of coercion. Relax the coercion even slightly and inequalities will quickly reemerge.


@ Anarcho

'unelected' bosses (apart from by the shareholders) generally act in a completely predictable way, in that they maximise the profit for the shareholder within the legal and financial framework set by governments. Those 'unelected bosses' have delivered significant reductions in CO2 output in the UK, and have delivered renewable technologies.

Governments have engaged in debates, have moved to recognising the science behind climate change, and brought about legislation and taxation that encourages renewables....


... and amongst all the hysteria I missed the policy recommendations from XR. So, please could someone point me to the list of policies they are advocating?



The really interesting question, which goes beyond left-right bifurcation, is whether democracy and freedom are automatically compatible.

I think they’re only compatible if the former is embedded in a well-defended cultural preference for the latter.

On the eve of the (failed) Arab Spring, a Pew Global survey revealed that 86% of Egyptians believed the state should execute people who leave Islam. It was obvious that a democracy operating under such a cultural preference was very unlikely to increase freedom. Rather, it was virtually certain to reduce it.

This is why the issue of de-platforming people like Germaine Greer from addressing UK Universities is worrying. These de-platformers exhibit a strong cultural preference against freedom, and they’ll be setting the national agenda soon enough.


Greta Thunberg does not have “arguments”.
She has hyperbole.


“Before the 20th century, freedom was a leftist ideal: think of … the first word of the motto of the French revolutionaries.”

The French Revolutionary terror killed more people in five years than the Spanish Inquisition did in 200. The War in the Vendée alone killed around 200,000 people.


This whole Greta Thunberg is nonsense.

She is not the only 16 year old with opinions. the EDL have a strong youth contingent. Should we listen to 16 year-olds who support the EDL? If not, why not?

On whose guidance should I rely in my choice of 16-year old political gurus? And if I am having my 16-year old leaders pre-selected, then I'm not really listening to 16 year olds, am I, I'm listening to adults using 16-year olds as human shields for their opinions.

Why not just limit voting to people aged 16?

Ralph Musgrave


Shame on you for drawing attention to Dawn Foster's ugly mug. Surely the real problem is her pea sized brain and the pea sized brains of other broadsheet journalists?


Heh. I think it's the colour palette with the red background rather than any particularly outstanding personal unsightliness.

But yes, the standard of broadsheet (and other bourgeois outlets) commentators has gone through the floor, you're fundamentally going out your way to be obviously lied to/at.

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