At a session entitled ‘The Left and Liberty’ at the Convention on Modern Liberty, the ancient enemies of freedom, in the form of quasi socialists and big government social democrats represented by the Fabians, Compass, Soundings and others, hopelessly attempted to attach the term of liberty to their cause.
Looking back at history, it is groups such as these which have been highly responsible for the anti freedom intellectual movement, the elimination of freedom around the world, and huge suffering caused by the inevitable failure of their utopian revolutions. Well intended philosophies led to actual ruin.
I chuckled to myself in the audience as they spewed deluded analysis, countless unsupported fallacies, straw men, and deceitful misinterpretations bordering on lies. To me it seemed as if they thought we lived in “unfettered markets”, with practically no intervention of regulation in any sector. Anyone who believes otherwise is by definition a “market fundamentalist”.
The positive model they used to champion ‘liberty’ is inherently unsound. Government would be permitted to force an individual to become ‘more free’ by locking him up in chains. The state can force people to carry out specific actions rather than choose. The state supposedly knows what is best for the individual, and thus people should desire the state’s choice and must follow it, whether or not they actually desire that route at all. With this must come extreme coercion.
Additionally, they emphasise relative incapacity to carry out an action as constituting a lack of freedom: I may wish to drink tea at the Ritz, but “I am not able to” due to my financial position thus I supposedly lack the liberty to drink tea. This is an invalid form of analysis, as I am still free to choose how to prioritise the use of my resources.
This fundamental confusion between the liberty to choose as you wish and the ability to implement these choices is not new. As Helvetius clarifies, “The free man is the man who is not in irons, nor imprisoned in a gaol, nor terrorized like a slave by the fear of punishment… it is not lack of freedom not to fly like an eagle or swim like a whale.”