On Sunday I was discussing philosophy and the meaning of life with a fellow author and good friend of mine. We agree on much and disagree on enough to keep things interesting - most importantly, despite having a slightly different worldview to me, he's grown up and left any notions of tribalism or 'team sport' at the door. I genuinely consider our interactions to be part of my ongoing education, something far more beneficial than anything I experienced between the ages of four and eighteen. A formidable intellect, sense of honour and a ruthlessly consistent commitment to the truth rather than some sort of 'victory' makes him a challenging and engaging fella to deal with.
He's still alive, you can relax I was just giving my friend his due. Something we disagree quite profoundly on is the concept and importance of Nation States, the need for some sort of national identity and character to act as a unifying force and hold societies together. In short, he's basically 'for' all of this while I fail to see how the construction of any such 'identity' or 'character' could be achieved without big government authoritarianism, conscripted 'pride' in one's place of birth, a hell of a lot of coercion on the part of the State and the subsequent erosion of personal freedom on a significant scale. Someone has to 'play God' to make all this 'national character' stuff stick.
My alternative? Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with most of it - a smallish (but not Minarchist) State limited by a written Constitution as well as lower levels of taxation than we currently have. Matt Kibbe is correct, there is no such thing as good government, only limited government. Entire State departments would be closed and others (like the NHS) part-privatised. Rights and entitlements would be dealt with at the level of the individual, any notion of 'group rights' would be rejected. A controlled and limited level of immigration would continue but 'multiculturalism' is dead. All are equal under the rigorous application of one law.
No national 'identity' or 'character' would be imposed on anybody, patriotism (or lack) of is a personal choice in which the State has no business, just as it has no place attempting to stop you from drinking or smoking (whether that's 'herbal' cigarettes, which should be legalised or the other kind). If you want to walk round your house in the nude while waving a Union Jack and singing the national anthem then that's entirely your business. Equally, if the notion of' nation leaves you thinking "oh my gawd, that is so, like, 1914" well nobody has the right to force your participation in any 'patriotic' activities against your will.
Nationalism (political patriotism) is an authoritarian concept by definition.
Now my mate's taken this in and noted that the difficulties presented by Multiculturalism could be dealt with by consistent and indiscriminate application of the law rather than doing anything radical, making us all adopt a set of contrived and cartoonish 'British Values' or whatever. If there are really Sharia Law courts operating in the Uk then shut them down by the end of the week. Anybody on the wrong end of a decision in one of these 'courts' can ignore it and will be backed up by the law of the land if necessary. FGM (and Jewish circumcision for that matter) lies somewhere between GBH and assault with a weapon. It stops. Immediately.
His reaction to that has been on my mind for the few days since "yeah fair enough, but what's there to get excited about in all that? It's all well and good saying that the rule of law will dispense justice based on individual rights but where's the passion or the reason for anyone else to have any?".
I've written about this before. Part of the problem with our public discourse is this concept of 'politics as a team sport' where the aim is to be on the winning side, hurt and punish your 'enemies', make them suffer and get some 'free stuff' for yourselves and whatever 'group' you associate with, be it hard currency or favourable treatment in the eyes of the law. This is highly Statist stuff, something that only someone seeing the world through an authoritarian/group lens could deliver. What I've just described to you above (soft libertarian, individualist, flat out rejection of 'group rights') is the polar opposite of that. No class war, no race war, no battle of the sexes. Nothing.
You're right - the square root of zilch to get excited or passionate about.
What we currently have is two highly Statist and authoritarian tribes, the toddler left and the toddler right, the 'Feminista' team and the 'embittered MRA' team, the 'cry racism at every turn' team and the 'actually racist' team, the 'support LGBT or we'll arrest you' team and the 'We hate gays' team. Both have an unequivocal and complete commitment to 'group rights' their associated tyranny and at least neither insults the intelligent amongst us by pretending to care about individual liberty in either the personal or the economic sphere. Both want bribes (either cash or validation) that only an authoritarian working in a representative democracy can give them. I certainly can't.
In a narrow sense I don't necessarily blame anyone for taking part in this 'endarkened' nonsense. Better to be on the winning side, and being on 'no side' will be no better than being on the losing one come the day of reckoning. That's the trouble with us sane, rational, reasonable sorts - we tend to see government and decision making as something that should be as dull, boring and passionless as possible. After all, the main function of government is to collect a sensible level of tax from law-abiding people, use those taxes to pay for their defence and then leave them well alone. We don't go on marches or smash windows, we register our disgust by writing books instead.
I've come to the realisation that whoever 'wins' this battle currently being played out, I along with people like us are in a world of pain. Anyone proposing peaceful, lawful action that opposes both of these mad tribes is more than welcome to post a comment to that effect.
In the meantime, take care and ciao for now.