Wednesday, 15 August 2012

North West Libertarians September Meet Up

An informal meeting of libertarians in the North West will take place at the famous Lass O'Gowrie pub in Manchester: Expected topics of conversation will include discussion of the new Independent Libertarian Network, as well as bidding fairwell to one of our brethren who is relocating to the dreaded South. Everyone's welcome - unlike the squalid gang of con men and conspiracy theorists who seized control of the old Libertarian Party, we don't do closed meetings. Come along if you feel like it, have a beer, have a chat, make friends and set the world to rights. See you there.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Anti-Patriots, your country needs you...

Something that might strike you about the sort of Instinctive Liberalism that this bunny is into is the way in which a consistently rational view of the world is applied, free from the mood swings of populism and the rule of 51 per cent. I was intending to post about something else tonight, but opted instead to cover a topic that I'd delved into with Malpoet and a few other friends of mine on both sides of the fence if you will, namely that of patriotism.

People who I ask tell me that patriotism is a deeply held pride that one has in the place of their birth. It might apply on a national, regional or even a local level and can even apply in a sort of mulit-tiered way - ie. a proud Yorkishireman, proud Englishman, proud Brit and proud European. This bunny had always assumed in the past (rightly or wrongly) that the default answer to a question along the lines of "are you patriotic?" should be yes, since anything else would equate to some form of heresy.

As regular readers will know, I'm against British membership of the European Union, but not because I own a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts (apologies for the truly haunting mental image). This bunny just happens to believe that centalised power produces decisions that are insensitive to local conditions and do not take into account the social and economic nuances of individual nations and the regions within them. Look at the disaster zone that has been the Eurozone if you want further evidence.

Make key decisions at the appropriate level, which might be local, regional, national or international, and all will be right with the world - hardly genius material, is it?

It's always the little things - many years ago I remember staying at a mate's house and doing what young people do, namely drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes of various types while my mate flicked through the pornographic channels. Anyway, I've never been a big fan of the Adult Channel, Red Hot Babes or whatever, so when I beat him to waking up the following morning I broke the code of 'my house, we watch what I want' and stuck VH1 on.

A god awful song, the Christians' cover of the Isley Brothers' 'Harvest for the World' came on, and though I found the music and words to be somewhat cringeworthy, the video seemed rather interesting. It comprised of a bunch of things that the band would clearly have liked to see eradicated from planet earth in order for the needy to be catered for - all a bit socialist for my tastes, but then the arts do tend to be left-leaning.

Amongst them was patriotism, and I remember thinking at the time, 'what a strange thing to want to remove from the world - even if you're the biggest anti-patriot going, surely it wouldn't make any sort of hit-list when one factors in greed, idleness,  pathological liars, party politics and a whole shopping list of stuff that must concern you more'. However, that marijuana-induced morning at my mate's house came back into my head recently when examining this subject.

I'll finally say it - I'm not remotely patriotic. I enjoy British success in most walks of life since it is likely to inspire those young people watching them to take up whatever it is they do, and I appreciate excellence on a more general level. However, the end game of patriotism is actually believing with all your heart and soul that Andy Murray, world class player that he might be, is better than Roger Federer, or that Frank Bruno stood a real chance of beating Mike Tyson, a dangerous and unhinged man who sent Frank rushing to the toilet by his own admission.

Patriotism is irrational and has this delusional effect on people - ergo, does the intelligent patriot really exist?

It is also bloody dangerous - if one is proud of their place of birth, then it is totally reasonable to ask exactly why that is. Does the person believe that being born where they were makes them somehow superior or better than someone who was unfortunate enough to be born somewhere else? I'm yet to meet anyone who has honestly answered yes to this question, so if it doesn't make you special in any way, then why the hell do you take pride in this fact, over which you had no control?

In reality, a patriotic individual either a) does believe that being born where they were makes them special/superior or b) just hasn't thought about the concept all that much. I'd be inclined towards believing that most patriots fall under the umbrella of b).

This is the sort of harmless and innocuous patriotism that millions of people have - the type that involves expressing some undefined pride in their place of birth, but not much more than that. Then there is the sort of 'Al Murray Patriotism', you know the types who would ring a radio phone-in and start by saying "I'm not racist, but", then follow up with a tirade of how 'immigrants' are simultaneously stealing the jobs of poor white people and milking our welfare system.

Let's be honest, if someone is smart enough to concoct that kind of intensely devious scheme, you should be more worried about their criminality than their nationality.

That said, 'Al Murray Patriotism' is stupid, sometimes offensive and punctuated by xenophobic or racist outbursts, but usually harmless.

But then there are 'other' sorts of patriotism - the soccer hooligan type, built on a dangerous cocktail of violence and unpleasant characters looking for someone to blame for their own failures - the EDL recruit at football grounds for a reason. Then there's 'entitlement patriotism', which you might see in job centres and amongst the non-working class.

Maybe it's the realisation that in most other countries, the workshy are simply allowed to starve to death, but there's an understanding, probably legitimate. that they are lucky to live in a country with free healthcare, education, a roof above their heads and more than enough of other people's money for food and to feed their vices. Many of the most 'patriotic' people are amongst this underclass, and this bunny is convinced having met them that 'entitlement patriotism' has much to do with it.

There's also 'horrible old git patriotism', where stories about 'bulldog spirit' and the war, or 'the good old days' in general are used to both espouse an idealised version of the nation that never quite existed, and constantly bash a defenceless younger generation. Fuck it, let this bunch of embittered fossils soil themselves to death - I really couldn't give two shits about these people and there's no point sugar-coating it.

Patriotism is usually just irrational, but can be nasty, vicious and easily become a stick whereby people are turned against one another.

Governments of all persuasions know this, so why give them that power?

Can't you see that this 'understanding' that we are 'superior' to others was used first as the justification for colonialism and slavery, then declaring ourselves the world's policeman and solver of others' problems?

Whether you're patriotic or not, just keep thinking for yourself and remember, you're an individual.

Don't let the bastards grind you down - take care and I'll catch you soon.