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Peter Franklin’s article caught my eye.   Franklin describes a divide, of sorts, within the libertarian movement in the UK regarding response to the pandemic.  Between those who respect science, and others who think, somehow, their rights are more important that infecting and killing others in society.

I realize my framing isn’t particularly hospitable toward libertarianism, but for the most part I have little time for a philosophy/ideology that boils down to ‘fuck you, I’ve got mine’ as its central tenet.

 

“We think of ourselves as a liberty-loving nation, but seven weeks in and we’re still extraordinarily compliant. The protests we’ve seen in America have not been echoed here. Strangest of all, we’ve had remarkably little dissent from the UK’s small, but normally energetic, band of libertarian wonks.

With the economy crushed beneath state controls like we’ve never seen, where are the howls of rage from the free marketeers? The more thoughtful libertarians realised early on that Covid-19 was to be taken seriously. “This time the warnings are not overdone” warned Matt Ridley back in March. Sam Bowman, senior fellow at Adam Smith Institute, was an early advocate of massive state intervention to prop-up the economy during lockdown.”

 

“However, there’s a very different kind of libertarian, one whose reaction to all of this is more visceral than rational — driven by outrage that law-abiding citizens should find themselves under effective house arrest.Some of these individuals wouldn’t call themselves libertarians at all — and would see the “ancient liberties” they defend as being rooted in tradition not modernity. Others are more orthodox in their ideology, but still populist in style.In any case, it is from these types that we see most of the outspoken opposition to lockdown. Examples include Toby Young, Peter Hitchens and Laura Perrins.”

My question to these ‘visceral libertarians’ and their ancient liberties is this – Do you actually believe, in ancient times, that any real sort of individual liberties existed?  The only way this point of view stays consistent is if we define ‘ancient liberties’ as toiling to death in squalor of  the local Lord’s fields.

Our common ‘rights’ in society are born in communal struggle and the concomitant militant threat to the elite classes of society.  Thus ‘ancient liberties’ were an inherently collective endeavor aka the antithesis of libertarian ideology.

 

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