Freedom, fundamentalism and Johann Hari


In The Independent, Johann Hari sets out what he thinks a Tory win would "really mean". The first half is an uninteresting and unsubstantiated attack on bankers and the money that they give to the Conservative Party, while the second half is a bigoted attack on those he condemns as "religious fundamentalists".

The" religious fundamentalists" he is referring to are parents who want to set up their own schools. But it is not parents, disaffected by the sclerotic state system and wishing to find a haven for their children amid government failure, who are the real fundamentalists. It is the likes of Johann Hari himself. The kind of fundamentalism that Hari proffers is a political fundamentalism that denies the private sphere in toto. It is the mark totalitarianism in its denial of the freedom to choose and the resulting differences.

If imitation is the best form of flattery, I'll go one better and quote Mario Rizzo at length on this issue:

The market is the pre-eminent pluralistic institution. It enables Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist and Atheist to live in harmony with each other because each individual in these groups can engage in voluntary trades with willing partners. We cannot, however, trade with everyone at once. Specialization and cost-efficiencies mean that sometimes people will have to go elsewhere to get what they want.

Even more fundamentally, private property involves the right of private individuals to make decisions about resource use. And since some uses are incompatible with others, private property must imply the right to exclude. We cannot provide everything to everyone at every location at every moment.

I couldn't have said it better myself.