May the rafters ring with many rounds of cheers! Britain has voted to leave the European Union.
After hours of anxiety as the polls went on indicating a defeat for “Brexit” (the campaign for Britain to exit Europe), good news came at last – all the more glorious for being sudden and unexpected.
Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, made a very good victory speech:
Prime Minister David Cameron, who had argued passionately for a “remain” vote, has announced that he will resign.
To add to our pure delight, we find cause for Schadenfreude too. The hard Left is bitter and furious. The Guardian, for instance – which recently carried an op-ed by the evil George Soros urging Britons to vote to remain – headlines: “Nigel Farage’s victory speech was a triumph of poor taste and ugliness.” The typical snobbery of the Left on full display as disappointment bites.
And the prospect of yet more joy looms ahead. The (London) Times (which has dispensed with its paywall for 24 hours so its opinion on this enormous event can be easily accessed) promises:
The dream of a united Europe is over. … Britain decided to walk away “without a shot being fired”, as Nigel Farage put it when dawn broke this morning.
Brexit will strike terror into the hearts of European governments and force a dramatic rethink of the organisation which aimed to bind nation states tightly together in the name of peace and prosperity.
Britain, the EU’s second-largest net funder, is the first country to walk away and the fear of contagion is real. Most European leaders also know they would struggle to win an in-out referendum. That is why they are so desperate to avoid one. …
The British referendum had already forced even Jean-Claude Juncker, the arch-federalist president of the European Commission – the institution which proposes all those directives and regulations – to admit that the EU meddled too much in everyday life.
There will be many declarations around the continent today that the show must go on and the British must not be allowed to bring the whole edifice crashing down. …
However, Europe’s ruling elite knows that the EU has to change. …
There were already some signs that senior EU figures grasped the seriousness of the situation. Donald Tusk, president of the European council, the forum for national leaders, said this month that European elites had to awaken from dreams of “all kinds of Utopias” such as the idea that nation states could be banished. “Obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that ordinary people, the citizens of Europe, do not share our euro-enthusiasm,” he said.
Breitbart sees it this way:
Brexit: Britain Votes with Trump, against Hillary, Obama
British voters chose to “leave” the European Union on Thursday, defying the polls — and President Barack Obama, who had urged Britain to “remain” in the EU. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had also urged Britain to stay in the EU. Only Donald Trump had backed the campaign to leave.
Republican strategists had panned Trump’s decision to travel to the UK in the midst of campaign turmoil, and in the wake of his blistering attack on Hillary Clinton earlier this week.
Now, however, it looks like a risk that paid off handsomely, in the currency of foreign policy credibility.
Obama’s advice may have pushed some voters to “leave”. In April he warned British voters they would be at the “back of the queue” in trade with the U.S. if they left the EU. …
Trump, who happens to be in Scotland to open a golf resort, promised in May that leaving the EU would not put Britain at the “back of the queue”, and said: “I think if I were from Britain I would probably want to go back to a different system.” He reiterated that support last week, telling the Sunday Times: “I would personally be more inclined to leave, for a lot of reasons like having a lot less bureaucracy. … But I am not a British citizen. This is just my opinion.”
Perhaps this will prove to be a turning point; marking the limit to the leftward trend which has been taking the West back into medieval darkness; and the start of a return to the values of the Enlightenment.
Conservative friends and associates in Britain tell us they despair of saving the Kingdom from becoming an Islamic state.
Even if Britain comes out of the EU – which is highly possible at last if the promised referendum goes the right way next year – it is unlikely to be able save itself from its looming fate.
Mark Steyn writes:
Canadians are dead, and so is satire. Six Quebeckers get slaughtered by Islamic terrorists in Burkina Faso, and to honor their memory Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leads a moment of silence … at a mosque.
Speaking of prime ministers, having spent his entire premiership assuring us that whatever happens in the news headlines is nothing to do with Islam, David Cameron has suddenly discovered a few things that are to do with Islam. The opening paragraph from Mr Cameron’s column in the London Times:
Where in the world do you think the following things are happening? School governors’ meetings where male governors sit in the meeting room and the women have to sit out of sight in the corridor. Young women only allowed to leave their house in the company of a male relative. Religious councils that openly discriminate against women and prevent them from leaving abusive marriages. The answer, I’m sorry to say, is Britain.
Ah, right. And who in Britain bears responsibility for letting a parallel self-segregating society incubate and grow these last 20 years?
Much more than 20 years. Nearer to 50 years. See our post Europe betrayed, February 11, 2010 here, where we give an account of how and why the first twenty million Muslims were imported into Europe.
Mr Cameron has just noticed that 22 per cent of Muslim women in the United Kingdom speak little or no English, despite having lived there for decades. If you’re a Muslim female, the moment of silence can last for decades.
So what’s Cameron proposing to do about it? Well, that’s all a bit more iffy:
Forcing all migrants to learn English and ending gender segregation will show we’re serious about creating One Nation.
Fifty years ago, aside from a few querulous Scots, Welsh and Ulster Catholics, you didn’t need to “create” One Nation, because you already had one. Anointing the most “gender segregating” culture on earth as your principal source of population growth is why you no longer have “One Nation”, and why you’re back starting from scratch. Good luck with that.
Mr Cameron has no serious intention of slowing the right of entry of masses of primitive misogynists into Britain, but in an hour or so he and his fellow MPs will be debating whether to ban Donald Trump. Like I said, satire is dead.
Do some people in Britain really want to ban a possible future president of the United Sates from entering their country? Yes. Because he suggested it might be a good idea to ban Muslims from entering the US since Muslims are committing acts of terrorism on US soil. Our guess is that most of the petitioners to have Trump banned are Muslims.
And any number of primitive misogynistic Muslims are allowed to enter Britain. Bringing sharia law with them.
As for “gender segregation” in the Muslim world, let’s go back to that Peterborough [Canada] mosque where Justin Trudeau had his moment of silence to dishonor the Canadian dead at Islam’s hands. The mosque is run by Imam Shazim Khan …
Who is all for gender segregation:
“Gender segregation”? Bring it on!
There is no need for her [a wife] to go out. There is no need for her to call anybody. There is no need for her to talk to anybody … She only makes available herself to her husband and she protects herself and she stays away from everything that her husband doesn’t like in order to please him and to make the marriage work …
Incidentally, Trudeau’s imam says that, if David Cameron thinks “gender segregation” is bad now, wait till the hereafter:
The Prophet PBUH said because of this ingratitude [of the wives towards their husbands] that is why most inhabitants of hell are women.
Cameron isn’t serious about “assimilating” the likes of Imam Khan, and Trudeau kisses his ass.
Speaking of European leaders, most of them would dearly like to impose a moment of silence on Milos Zeman, the President of the Czech Republic. Mr Zeman has a different take on all this:
The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible … Let them have their culture in their countries and not take it to Europe, otherwise it will end up like Cologne.
… referring to the mass New Year’s Eve assaults on women in Germany and elsewhere.
President Zeman is a leftie, but not a suicidal one.
Zeman, Cameron, Trudeau: Which of these guys has a better handle on reality?
It will end up as even worse than Cologne. Much worse. Already hundreds of British girls have been made sex-slaves by Muslim men. The British authorities did nothing whatever to put a stop to it.
Well before the end of this century, Britain and most of Europe will end up like Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Later maybe Canada will too.
Just 68 years ago, Britain still possessed the greatest empire in history.
Now it is submitting to weak, primitive Islam.
At least one Western leader, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, seems at last to have become fully aware that Islam is an existential threat to the West – though even now he does not speak its name. (He deplores ISIL [ISIS, IS], not “Islam”.) And while he calls on Britons to defend their “values and way of life”, he does not seem to notice that the enemy has breached the defenses, is well entrenched in the land, and working its destruction in the very heart of Britain, the City of London, where Islam is successfully pursuing its economic jihad.
Diane Weber Bederman writes at Canada Free Press:
Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir told a banking conference in Kuala Lumpur in November 2002: “A universal Islamic banking system is a jihad worth pursuing.”
August 16, 2014, David Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain, wrote: “We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology which I believe we will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime … But it is not an invincible one, as long as we are now ready and able to summon up the political will to defend our own values and way of life with the same determination, courage and tenacity as we have faced danger before in our history. That is how much is at stake here: we have no choice but to rise to the challenge.”
He doesn’t seem to realize there are many types of jihad. All with one aim. To wipe out … Western culture. …
The Sharia Compliant economy is already well-embedded in the West. …
Britain is well into a Sharia parallel economy, leading the West in providing Islamic financial and related professional services. She is the top provider of Sharia-compliant finance, with reported assets of $19 billion …
David Cameron says British Treasury will issue £200 million ($320 million) worth of sukuk (bonds) this year. The objective is to enable the government to borrow from Muslim investors. Money does not come without strings. The Treasury also said some sukuk bond issues may require the British government to restrict its dealings with Israeli-owned companies in order to attract Muslim money. … I wonder what groups will be next….
Apparently, it wasn’t enough that the West, in our naïve desire to show how tolerant we are,allowed a culture that is anathema to everything we believe to make a home for itself amongst us. … Once Sharia Compliant Funds become entwined in Western economy it will be impossible to disentangle.
Let me give you some numbers. It is projected that Muslim world will be doing 50% of their banking needs with Islamic institutions by 2020. Imagine how that will impact the free world economy. Sharia Compliant Investment or Funds had an estimated $1.6 trillion under management as of the end of 2012, and has a forecasted $6.5 trillion under management by the end of 2020, according to a report by the Kuwait Finance House entitled Overview of the Islamic Financial Landscape. …
According to the Global Islamic Finance Report, in 2011 Britain was the main centre for Islamic finance outside the Muslim world.In 2013 Britain’s Sharia Compliant finance was reported to have assets of $19 billion.
Standard & Poor’s released a report on Feb. 5, 2014 predicting that sukuk (Islamic bond) issuances worldwide will top $100 billion in 2014 thanks to higher demand from the Middle East and growth in Malaysia — the world’s largest market.
Sharia Compliant Investing is so strong in the USA that a conference was held in Chicago to publicize the products. The Chicago Islamic Finance & Economic Conference 2014 provided “the platform for the Islamic Finance sector and the Halal industries to engage in meaningful discussions, market and consumer challenges, and chart the path for the Islamic Economy in the United States and Globally”.
According to their brochure: “Islamic Finances estimated to grow 15-20% from its current value of $1.35 trillion in assets covering commercial banking, funds, Sukuks, Takaful and other segments. The Islamic Economy with over $3.0 trillion encompassing Halal food, finance, clothing, tourism, media & recreation, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics is estimated to grow in double digits in the next five years.”
Bloomberg Islamic Finance Platform (ISLM) provides tools and services for investors who want to be compliant with Shariah law. Then September 19, 2012, Bloomberg launched a new Corporate Sukuk (bond) Index for Islamic Finance.
According to Walied Soliman a lawyer at Ogilvy Renault LLP, Canada,“The market has already matured in the U.K., Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In fact, Canada is ripe for Islamic finance.” But Mohammad Fadel, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in Islamic law said “the real gold mine could be Canada’s natural resources and what that might attract in terms of institutional money from Islamic countries”.
On top of the money made from these products there is a huge bureaucracy involved in this business. Special advisors make decisions … [and] the same advisors tend to be on all boards. And some of these Shariah law authorities are now being paid handsomely by Barclays, Dow Jones, Standard & Poors, HSBC, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, Deutschebank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, and Credit Suisse.
The author gives the names and connections of four of these advisors. One of them is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Financing terrorism is inevitably part of their agenda:
Serious problems come into play when one takes into consideration zakat – charitable contributions. These same Sharia advisors are often responsible for determining the distribution of zakat, which is 2.5% of income that observant Muslims are obliged to make each year.
She quotes the Qu’ran (9:60) and Reliance of the Traveler (The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law):
Recipients of zakat include the poor, the needy, those who serve the needy, and to free the slaves, but recipients also include ‘those who fight in the way of Allah’ and ‘people engaged in Islamic military operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army, or volunteers for jihad without remuneration’.
The largest single source of funds for Islamic terrorism is zakat which typically goes through the Islamic banking system. Using the system of zakat, al-Qaeda was able to receive between $300m and $500m over a decade from wealthy businessmen and bankers representing 20% of Saudi GNP, through a web of charities and companies acting as fronts, with the notable use of Islamic banking institutions. …
If there’s no Sharia investing available [Muslims] invest as others.They remain in the mainstream economy of the country in which they have chosen to live. But once Sharia is introduced, the choices narrow.
Before Baroness Warsi was relieved of duty [as a British cabinet minister] she promoted Sharia Compliant investing in Britain. She said it’s about “increasing options, maximizing the products and services we have to offer” and “making Britain the preferred choice for the Muslim world”. … Sharia Compliant Funds … actually reduce free choice for Muslim citizens because they become obligated to purchase these funds and separate themselves economically from the rest of the country. …
Finally, she quotes Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a rare brave Muslim voice often speaking up publicly for Western values:
Sharia-compliant finance only empowers Muslim Sharia Law leaders whose real long term vision is to impose Sharia Law on the world and recreate an Islamic Empire. These leaders want to overpower capital free markets and create their version of an Islamic economy. Bankers and business leaders are being duped.
So will Prime Minister Cameron resolve the contradiction between his determination to resist the advance of Islam in the West and his wanting Britain to lead the world in sharia-compliant banking?
According to the Telegraph, reporting in October 2013, Cameron was very keen on the City of London becoming a world center for sharia-compliant finance:
Britain is set to become the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that can be bought by Islamic investors in a bid to encourage massive new investment into the City.
David Cameron will say in a speech on Tuesday at the World Islamic Economic Forum in London that the Treasury is drawing up plans to issue a £200m Sukuk, a form of debt that complies with Islamic financial law.
The new sharia-compliant gilt will enable Britain to become the first non-Muslim country to tap the growing pool of Islamic investments that is forecast to top £1.3 trillion by next year.
The Prime Minister will say that it would be a “mistake” to miss the opportunity to encourage more Islamic investment in the UK and that the City of London should rival Dubai as a centre for sharia-compliant finance.
“When Islamic finance is growing 50pc faster than traditional banking and when global Islamic investments are set to grow to £1.3 trillion by 2014, we want to make sure a big proportion of that new investment is made here in Britain,” Mr Cameron will tell an audience of senior officials from Islamic countries.
How much wealth is Britain, and the West in general, prepared to sacrifice in order to “struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology“?
We wait to see.
Paul Weston is the leader of the Liberty GB organization in Britain.
The mission statement of Liberty GB includes this:
There is no guarantee at such a late stage that Britain can be saved, but Liberty GB will endeavour to put a stop to our rapidly accelerating descent into economic, educational, moral, cultural and social ruin.
It’s about time Britons started speaking out as he does.
Here is part of an article from Liberty GB, by a black author, Godspower Oboido, endorsing Paul Weston’s declaration. (We promise to praise “Godspower” only when speaking of Mr. Oboido.)
In my first article for Liberty GB, I wrote that I was racist just like Paul Weston but that I am black. I hate describing people by colour but what choice have I? Society likes placing tags and stereotypes. Paul Weston made it convenient for us all to come out – as racists – if that will make the leftist government, media, public and Islamic community any happier.
I must be a hypocrite through and through if I really am a racist as a black man after all blacks have been through. What makes me a racist, and can a black person actually be racist?
I am racist simply because I am against the forced and violent spread of Islam, against the barbaric doctrines of the political ideology. If you are reading this article, chances are that you are racist too. According to the Left, supporters of Liberty GB are all racists.
Muslims gave us several open invitations to read their Quran and discover the truth for ourselves. That’s exactly what I did – I read the Quran. I did not want to condemn the enduring faith of over a billion people with the violent acts of a few misguided Muslims. I wanted to know what was so radical about Islam and I found the answers right there in the Quran. Phrases like ‘radical Islam’ or ‘Islamic extremists’ are politically correct terms (which Muslims say are offensive). There is no such thing as radical Islam, Islamic extremists, peace loving Muslims, etc. Islam is Islam – a violent, radical and barbaric political ideology. Speaking the truth makes us racist.
My question for people like David Cameron is that if people like Paul Weston and EDL leader Tommy Robinson are easily called racists and bigots, what will they call a person of colour like me? Black racist or just racist? I certainly don’t fit the perfect idea of a racist because I am black. This shows us the one-fixedness of society.
Tommy Robinson, while appearing on the BBC Free Speech programme, was talking about the death threats he had been receiving when Saira Khan screamed the words: “Then stop being a racist and a bigot!”. Dear Heavens, I was furious, more so when neither Saira Khan nor any member of the audience in that venue could answer Tommy when he repeatedly asked, “What race is Islam?”
Just what race is islam? What races are we against that make us racist? Am I saying that Britain has no race problem at all? Certainly not! Britain does have a huge race problem that is getting out of hand while all David Cameron does is name-calling.
Here is Britain where Lee Rigby, a British serviceman, was murdered by two blacks of Nigerian descent who quoted from the Quran, it doesn’t come across as a racially motivated attack and David Cameron tells us it had nothing to do with Islam. We saw videos of how English teenage girls were attacked by Pakistani-born teenagers in Manchester and the police said it wasn’t a racially motivated attack. A racially motivated attack is when a white person attacks anyone that isn’t white, this is the picture the government and the media is giving us. Calling someone ‘Paki’ is racist but calling a native Briton ‘white trash’ or ‘ginger head’ isn’t racist. …
When a person of colour was shot dead by the police, thugs took to the streets, hell-bent on burning London down. A white British serviceman is slaughtered in broad daylight by black Britons of Nigerian descent and white peaceful protesters are arrested. These are the real race problems in Britain today. The sooner something is done about it, the better.
If Paul Weston, Tommy Robinson, Geert Wilders, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and all of us who speak the truth about Islam are racists, then Winston Churchill would have been a greater racist (he who wrote that “Islam is as dangerous in a man as rabies in a dog”), … [and] Richard Dawkins and all atheists are racists who think that all religions are ultimately evil.
What good would it do to David Cameron if after many years he comes to admit that “there is a problem within Islam” like Tony Blair? The time to act is now.
The best spokespersons for Islam these days have been political leaders like David Cameron and Barack Obama. After the Boston bombing by the two Chechnyan Islamic terrorists, Barack Obama went on air to ask the American public not to make quick judgments on Islam. Both David Cameron and Boris Johnson assured the world that the Woolwich attack had nothing to do with either Islam … In other words the murderers were two misguided killers who just, you know, happened to be Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace, it’s all about respect and care for the elderly and has given so much to Britain.
Muslims admit that there are bad Muslims who are giving their religion a bad image but that an Islamic act of terror does not mean the religion is bad. It’s about certain individuals, not the religion itself we’ve been constantly told. There are some bad Christians, they argue, but that doesn’t make Christianity bad. Well true, after all Tommy Robinson also defends the English Defence League, that while there may be some followers of the EDL who are racist, it doesn’t mean the EDL is a racist movement. He argues that there are supporters of the EDL who are golfers, but that does not make the EDL a golfers group. So then, can’t we say in like manner that there are a small minority of Muslims who are terrorists but that doesn’t make Islam a violent religion?
No! It isn’t the people who define a group, movement, political party or religion but rather it is what the group, movement, political party or religion stands for that defines it – its creed, purpose and doctrines.
There will be members who adhere more strongly to creeds, purpose and doctrines than others. What makes Islam bad isn’t the terrorists who rape, bomb and kill infidels, it is the religion itself and what it stands for.
More on the issue of Islam in Britain and the crimes Muslims commit in its name, comes from the Examiner:
Twitter is abuzz today over an offensive Facebook page titled, “Lee Rigby deserved it”. Lee Rigby, who had served in the British Army for seven years, was brutally killed on May 22 in south-east London by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who ran the soldier down on the street and butchered him with a meat cleaver, attempted to decapitate him, while screaming “Allahu Akbar”. …
Rigby left behind a wife and young son. Many on the extreme left, such as the group Unite Against Fascism (UAF), have sickeningly justified the attack, or at least diminished it. Last month, UAF members threw away flowers which had been placed at a memorial for the slain soldier.
The Facebook page certainly falls into this category. The author declares,
He [Rigby] killed many people as a soldier directly or indirectly by supporting the Royal British Army, he deserved it. Great Britain is racist.
In a post today, the author of the page says in part,
Go away with your backward ideology, the troops of Great Britain are nothing but scum, they are the TOOL of your racist fascist government …
It needs to be noted that the Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, head (under the Queen) of that “racist fascist government”, was a founding signatory to the creation of the UAF.
Let’s listen in on a conversation the socialists are having among themselves. Brace yourselves, fellow individualists!
In the New York Review of Books, Cass Sunstein writes about a book by Sarah Conly titled Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism. It is the book for the Age of Obama.
“Coercive Paternalism” is a flimsy euphemism. The book argues for dictatorship.
Cass Sunstein’s review is titled It’s For Your Own Good!
Conly’s case, as the title signals, is that we ordinary mortals cannot make the “right” decisions for ourselves and so need those who work in government offices, and are by virtue of that fact superior to us in knowledge and judgment, to decide for us how we should live.
In the United States, as in many other countries, obesity is a serious problem.
For whom? If for the obese, the remedy is in their own hands. Only a socialist can think of fat people as a political problem.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to do something about it. … In 2012, he proposed to ban the sale of sweetened drinks in containers larger than sixteen ounces at restaurants, delis, theaters, stadiums, and food courts. The New York City Board of Health approved the ban.
Many people were outraged by what they saw as an egregious illustration of the nanny state in action. Why shouldn’t people be allowed to choose a large bottle of Coca-Cola? The Center for Consumer Freedom responded with a vivid advertisement, depicting Mayor Bloomberg in a (scary) nanny outfit.
Many Americans abhor paternalism. They think that people should be able to go their own way, even if they end up in a ditch. When they run risks, even foolish ones, it isn’t anybody’s business that they do. In this respect, a significant strand in American culture appears to endorse the central argument of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. In his great essay, Mill insisted that as a general rule, government cannot legitimately coerce people if its only goal is to protect people from themselves. Mill contended that
“the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or mental, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right.”
… Mill offered a number of independent justifications for his famous harm principle, but one of his most important claims is that individuals are in the best position to know what is good for them. In Mill’s view, the problem with outsiders, including government officials, is that they lack the necessary information. Mill insists that the individual “is the person most interested in his own well-being,” and the “ordinary man or woman has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that can be possessed by any one else.”
When society seeks to overrule the individual’s judgment, Mill wrote, it does so on the basis of “general presumptions,” and these “may be altogether wrong, and even if right, are as likely as not to be misapplied to individual cases.” If the goal is to ensure that people’s lives go well, Mill contends that the best solution is for public officials to allow people to find their own path. Here, then, is an enduring argument … on behalf of free markets and free choice in countless situations, including those in which human beings choose to run risks that may not turn out so well.
Mill’s claim has a great deal of intuitive appeal. But is it right? That is largely an empirical question, and it cannot be adequately answered by introspection and intuition. In recent decades, some of the most important research in social science, coming from psychologists and behavioral economists …
Collectivists all …
… has been trying to answer it. That research is having a significant influence on public officials throughout the world. Many believe that behavioral findings are cutting away at some of the foundations of Mill’s harm principle, because they show that people make a lot of mistakes, and that those mistakes can prove extremely damaging. …
Or because they, being socialists, have to try and defeat Mill’s argument for individual freedom.
Leaving aside the need to define a mistake, let’s look at what we now know the book is assuming: that there are beings on this earth, outside the category of “people”, who will never make mistakes; who are infallible in their judgment, and as omniscient as “God” is reputed to be. And Conly/Sunstein think that therefore we should try to summon up enough good judgment to put ourselves in their hands. The hands of those who are angels of selfless kindness, motivated entirely and exclusively by consideration for us.
People may, for example, delay enrolling in a retirement plan, starting to diet or exercise, ceasing to smoke, going to the doctor, or using some valuable, cost-saving technology. Present bias can ensure serious long-term harm, including not merely economic losses but illness and premature death as well. …
So how is it anybody’s business except their own?
To those who have the mind-set of a collectivist, that question will never occur. If it is put to collectivists they will find it meaningless. You may as well be addressing them in a strange language. If they hear you at all they may get the impression that you are reacting with anger, but that will only be proof to them that you are too selfishly wrapped up in your own feelings to pay attention to their wise council.
A great deal of research finds that most people are unrealistically optimistic, in the sense that their own predictions about their behavior and their prospects are skewed in the optimistic direction. In one study, over 80 percent of drivers were found to believe that they were safer and more skillful than the median driver. Many smokers have an accurate sense of the statistical risks, but some smokers have been found to believe that they personally are less likely to face lung cancer and heart disease than the average nonsmoker. Optimism is far from the worst of human characteristics, but if people are unrealistically optimistic, they may decline to take sensible precautions against real risks. …
See in that paragraph how the very idea of the individual as a world in himself is lost to the sociological mind.
Emphasizing these and related behavioral findings, many people have been arguing for a new form of paternalism …
In the United States, behavioral findings have played an unmistakable part in recent regulations involving retirement savings, fuel economy, energy efficiency, environmental protection, health care, and obesity. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron …
… who, make no mistake about it, is a man of the Left …
… has created a Behavioural Insights Team, sometimes known as the Nudge Unit, with the specific goal of incorporating an understanding of human behavior into policy initiatives. In short, behavioral economics is having a large impact all over the world, and the emphasis on human error is raising legitimate questions about the uses and limits of paternalism.
Can they not suspect that the Nudgers (and for the invention of such “nudging” Sunstein takes credit in the review) may be as humanly susceptible to poor judgment as everybody else? Wait – Sunstein does come to that. But he really, really likes paternalism.
Until now, we have lacked a serious philosophical discussion of whether and how recent behavioral findings undermine Mill’s harm principle and thus open the way toward paternalism.
As if every tyrant in history, every king, every chief, every dictator has not seen himself as the Father of his people!
Sarah Conly’s illuminating book Against Autonomy provides such a discussion. Her starting point is that in light of the recent findings, we should be able to agree that Mill was quite wrong about the competence of human beings as choosers. “We are too fat, we are too much in debt, and we save too little for the future.”
You (possibly overweight and improvident) persons who pursue your private unexceptional ends invisibly; or who aim high, investigating our universe; inventing new technologies; working in advanced mathematics; exploring new territories of the earth and the imagination, going boldly where no man has gone before; composing, discovering … You for whom one crowded hour of glorious (perhaps gluttonous) life is worth an age without a name … You who wish to die … Take your minds off your vocation, your vision, your inspiration, your personal drama or despair. Concentrate on being one of the herd. Be like the rest. Obey the masters in office. Be thin. Live austerely. Do as you’re told – or “nudged”?
Well, no. Nudging might not be enough.
With that claim in mind, Conly insists that coercion should not be ruled out of bounds. She wants to go far beyond nudges. In her view, the appropriate government response to human errors depends not on high-level abstractions about the value of choice, but on pragmatic judgments about the costs and benefits of paternalistic interventions. Even when there is only harm to self, she thinks that government may and indeed must act paternalistically so long as the benefits justify the costs.
“Benefits” in whose estimation? Costs to whom?
Conly is quite aware that her view runs up against widespread intuitions and commitments.
Not to say against the highest aspirations of mankind and the Constitution of the United States.
For many people, a benefit may consist precisely in their ability to choose freely even if the outcome is disappointing. She responds that autonomy is “not valuable enough to offset what we lose by leaving people to their own autonomous choices.” Conly is aware that people often prefer to choose freely and may be exceedingly frustrated if government overrides their choices. If a paternalistic intervention would cause frustration, it is imposing a cost, and that cost must count in the overall calculus. But Conly insists that people’s frustration is merely one consideration among many. If a paternalistic intervention can prevent long-term harm — for example, by eliminating risks of premature death — it might well be justified even if people are keenly frustrated by it.
Apparently it has not occurred to those who nudge or coerce us for our own good that some among us may reject life long before old age.
Conly does concede, however, that people should be allowed to do certain things they may in their foolishness want to do. By a wild leap of imagination she arrives at stamp-collecting as an example of what might be permitted – 0r so Sunstein reports or suggests:
If people really love collecting comic books, stamps, or license plates, there is no occasion to intervene.
She describes the adverse reaction people may have to coercion by a dictatorial government as “frustration’. She seems to be unaware of the intense suffering those have endured who have had to live under dictatorships. And she seems to think that persons granted the power to force you to do such nice little things as to eat only what a government allows, put money away in savings accounts, and refrain from smoking will never, never use that power to lock you up or kill you. We itch to send her a long list of books that would inform and enlighten her if we had the least hope she would read them. But we are skeptics, and have no such hope.
We said that this is the theme of a conversation within the Left. The discussion in the review comes down to a small difference of opinon between the advocate of “nudging” (Sunstein), and the advocate of force (Conly). Sunstein does acknowledge differences of taste, and even the possibility of “official errors” – and fears repercussions:
Conly is right to insist that no democratic government can or should live entirely within Mill’s strictures. But in my view, she underestimates the possibility that once all benefits and all costs are considered, we will generally be drawn to approaches that preserve freedom of choice. … Our ends are hardly limited to longevity and health; our short-term goals are a large part of what makes life worth living. …
Freedom of choice is an important safeguard against the potential mistakes of even the most well-motivated officials. … Officials may well be subject to the same kinds of errors that concern Conly in the first place. … We might be inclined to favor freedom of choice as a way of … providing a safety valve in the event of official errors.
But having raised these few points of disagreement with Conly, Sunstein concludes that she –
… convincingly argues that behavioral findings raise significant questions about Mill’s harm principle. When people are imposing serious risks on themselves, it is not enough to celebrate freedom of choice and ignore the consequences.
If Sunstein, Conly, and their fellow socialists are not persuaded by John Stuart Mill, they will almost certainly not take account of what contemporary individualists have to say. But we can remind one another that among the consequences of freedom of choice are all the highest achievements of our history.
Melanie Phillips, writing on Obama’s anti-British feeling and action – more obvious now to the British since the disastrous explosion of the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico – declares that Obama”is not on America’s side”. We agree. We believe that he hates what America stands for – individual liberty – and is using the power American voters so stupidly gave him to work against American interests.
Here’s what she says in part – the whole article is worth reading:
Indeed, there is an argument for saying — astounding as it may seem — that Obama is not on America’s side … given the way in which he has been upsetting America’s friends around the world while sucking up to its enemies.
The ’special relationship’ is important to Britain because America has been its great ally in the defence of freedom and western values. But the U.S. is being led by someone who does not reflect America’s traditional values or interests. The irony here is as intense as the danger. …
Now Obama is swatting Britain aside …
What they failed to realise was that Obama was not just anti-Bush but anti-capitalism and anti-West. And so his knee-jerk hostility towards ‘colonialist’ Britain or ‘multinational’ BP, while taking the side of dictators and tyrants in the Third World, is deeply damaging to this country, as indeed it is to his own.
Cameron’s attempt to pour oil onto BP’s troubled waters is, therefore, wildly inappropriate — and not just as a tasteless metaphor.
It is the gushing geyser of Obama’s anti-British and anti-western animus which now so urgently needs to be capped, in order to protect the shores of liberty itself.