Saturday, 9 August 2014

Authoritarianism: 5 Limits On Our Freedom

I can't abide authoritarians. I won't accept it from the left or from the right. In fact, one of my chief beefs against the three main strands of political thought in this country: left, right, and liberal, is that they all have an authoritarian bent in one way or another. There are five ways they impose their wills on us. Let's take a look at them, shall we?

1. Speech

I've mentioned the difficulties some of us have when expressing our points of view before. We need to be free to speak our minds. If not, we can't express ourselves and if we can't express ourselves, enforced conformity ensues, the result of which can be terrifying; any speech that falls outside accepted limits can get you thrown in jail. It can also get you battered on the internet. When Mike Masnick brought up the issue of online bullying on Twitter, I had to tell him that the internet mob of Great Justice is fickle of heart. In fact, it will often add to the victim's woes depending on which side has the most entertainment value. The authoritarian approach to bullying and unappealing speech is usually ineffective because they themselves are bullies, imposing their wills on the rest of us in a flurry of paternalistic faux concern. The result in legislative terms is a rigmarole of theatrical attempts to be seen to do something without actually achieving anything.

2. Political Correctness

Don't get me started on Political Correctness. To hear a black person tell me that she'd been told she was wrong to describe herself as black when she should have said, "Afro-Caribbean," is to hear the old, old refrain, "We know best, dear. Now run along." I'm not having it. Needless to say, no one took an interest in whether or not Debbie was offended by this. It's basically inverted racism and conjures up lurid images of easily-offended effnick minori'ies standing ready to either burst into silent tears of impotent rage or lash out in a fit of violence if we use the wrong words to describe them or express our culture or patriotism. PC creates more divisions than it resolves.

3. Faith and practice

The people who gave us political correctness have a lot to answer for. They're the ones who promote Winterval in case "Christmas" offends people, but they never actually consult the people they're afraid might be offended. Christians are a favourite target; they tend to leave the other religions alone, as if Christians have rhino hide. It's not about that, it's flippin' wrong to single out a particular group of people and give 'em hell because you're convinced they won't fight back.

4. Limits on working hours

The individual must be free to act. My latest Twitter argument brought this to the fore when, yet again, I was confronted by a left-wing authoritarian. He proclaimed that some people hog hours in high-paying jobs. I had to explain that those of us who work do so to pay bills, etc. This chap is more interested in promoting his ideology than in proper debate; in the end I had to point out that none of us like being nannied. We should not have limits set on the number of hours we WANT to work. When running my own business I often worked ridiculous hours. The idea that I can't do overtime in case it offends the sensibilities of some bureaucrat fills me with rage.

5. Political choices

It's a lot harder for a party outside the mainstream to get candidates into office than it's ever been. It doesn't help that the British people simply aren't interested in politics and the majority of us don't bother to vote. Basically, apart from a few cosmetic issues, the Tory, Labour, and Liberal parties have strayed from their roots and are so similar they're interchangeable. The only outside party that's getting anywhere is UKIP because they play to people's fears. Result: things are getting slowly worse and nobody's doing anything about it except the Pirates, who have swung hard to the left.

If we don't have the ability to speak, express ourselves, or choose from a range of options on anything, we're not really free. Tory/UKIP authoritarians are as bad as the Liberal ones who are as bad as the Labour ones. We really need to step outside our comfort zones next year when we're voting so we can make a real difference and open up the field a bit. We certainly need to work to regain the rights we used to have and take for granted.

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