Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

By Richard Martin

For about two centuries now, the political, social, and economic “left” has been saying that they are at the forefront of progress. Whether the socialist millennium will come as a result of the inevitable forces of “History,” or by the disruptive, revolutionary, or evolutionary actions of a completely devoted proletarian vanguard, the claim has been, “We, the Socialists, are the Future!”

Socialism, in theory and practice, is the most reactionary and regressive doctrine of all. It seeks to undermine and overthrow the will of individuals who are trying to make themselves, their lives, and their surroundings better. Socialism is collectivism, and collectivism is the entire history of humanity, ever since the first Homo or Australopithecus started to climb down from the trees and walk on the open savannah.

The development of mankind is a succession of attempts by individuals to gain more and more independence in their own lives, to make decisions for themselves and those they choose to help and support. The driving force in humankind’s growth and evolution has been and will continue to be, as long as human beings have individual will, reason, and emotions, the drive to succeed and make a better life for oneself and for one’s loved ones.

Against this expression of individual will, autonomy, independence… and freedom, is arrayed a phalanx of do-gooders, busy-bodies, coercers, and autocrats. These despots will stop at nothing to impose their will and personal values on others. In its least socially destructive form, these authoritarians are willing to make the lives of their immediate neighbours, friends, colleagues, even family members a living hell. They badger and harass them into submission. They use their influence and authority, such as it may exist, to coerce those closest to them to submit to their personal will.

At the other end of the spectrum are the totalitarian psychopaths, the Hitlers, Maos, Pol Pots, Maduros, Castros, Ho Chi Minhs, and Stalins. These monsters use violence, fear, and destruction to impose their “revealed truths” onto society as a whole, through the power of the state and armed gangs. They create a rule of terror for their own profit, all the while proclaiming the noblest of aims, the freedom of the “the People.”

Whether at one extreme or the other, the goal is to interfere with the lives, the will, the happiness, the property and the freedom of others. They can’t stand to see others succeed, much less do things in their own way, using means they own, for their personal ends.

The Protestant Reformation set in motion a movement of personal freedom, will and self-determination. The Enlightenment questioned all claims of divine or “natural” authority, that the existing order is the best one possible in the best of all possible worlds. The American Declaration of Independence and the subsequent revolution have yet to be surpassed in assuring the dignity of the individual against the onslaught of do-gooders and tyrants, petty or monstrous. It is an imperfect solution, but it’s the best we have. The proof is that it has been imitated around the world, if not in deed, then in word.

We must continue to build the Radical Individualist Commonwealth. This is the commonwealth of free individuals, seeking to better their lot through personal responsibility, private property, free trade and capitalism. Anything else is conservative and, yes, reactionary.

© 2020 Richard Martin

By Richard Martin

What is the radical centre? For most people, the centre is associated with moderation. There is no real way to characterize the conventional centrist position other than to say that it eschews extremes and claims moderation. Unfortunately, most centrists tend to hold non-principled beliefs. They take a smorgasbord approach in supporting various political and economic positions. A bit from this party, a bit from that, some left, some right, maybe more or less of either. This isn’t to imply that centrists are unprincipled. My claim is merely than in most cases they don’t base their positions on well articulated principles and axioms.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that type of centrism. It’s just that it can be vulnerable when the political and social wind changes. Moreover, while conventional centrism draws on left and right policies and beliefs, most centrists would be hard pressed to express why they have decided to believe something in the political or economic sphere. It’s impressionistic and intuitive, based on what seems right at the time. I believe conventional centrists are actually mostly apolitical. They don’t adhere to political, economic and social positions from specific, well-articulated principles, which puts them up for grabs by politicians and activists of the left and right.

Instead of conventional, unprincipled, improvised centrism, I’d like to propose the concept of a Radical Centrism. To call it Radical is to say it articulates positions from clearly articulated principles or beliefs. Radical means “root.” If you have stong principles and they are well articulated with an understanding of how they influence beliefs and actions, this makes one more resilient in the face of changing opinions, political rhetoric, and even brow-beating by activists of all stripes. Furthermore, it provides a counter to confirmation bias, the well-known logical fallacy of seeking evidence to confirm an existing belief, rather than trying to determine the logical implications of one’s principles and axioms.

This is different from conventional centrism which is mostly apolitical, picking and choosing from a menu of options and positions articulated by the political Left and Right (whether moderate or extreme). On the other hand, it is Centrist because it places the Individual at the centre of things. Call it selfishness or egoism, the reality is that everyone is selfish. That’s how we exist and thrive. In other words, Radical Centrism is unabashedly individualistic.

As a matter of fact, Individualism is the number one principle and axiom of Radical Centrism. Only individuals exist. Collectives such as “society,” “race,” “class,” etc., only exist to the extent that they form patterns of behaviour and action of individuals. To quote Margaret Thatcher, “There is no such thing as society.”

This entails methodological individualism in the human sciences, such as economics, politics, ethics, etc. I could go even further and claim metaphysical individualism, but that more extreme stance is not needed to draw useful inferences and conclusions that are relevant to reasoned discourse and action.

I’ll be adding more principles over the next little while. In the meantime, feel free to comment and add your own thoughts. I’d like to get a dialogue and conversation going on this. Please refrain from emotion and rhetoric and try to keep things civil.

© 2020 Richard Martin

#radicalcentre #personalfreedom

Today is the 50th anniversary of the erection of the Berlin Wall. A little known fact is that the “wall” actually ran the entire length of the Inner German Border.

I saw the wall at a place called Hof in 1989, near the Inner German-Czech border. I was serving as an officer at 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Germany at the time. We visited a unit of the 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment near there. They took us to a border point. It was sobering to see the “wall.” Two rows of chain link fences about six feet apart with barbed wire and electrified wires at the top. There was also a wire running down the middle with a very mean half-starved German Shepherd patrolling his particular length of fence. Nearby there was a concrete guard tower about 50 feet off the ground manned with border guards with AK47s and, no doubt, machine guns.
At the location they brought us, there was an East German textile factory just on the other side, with women looking at us from the windows, and waving. The American Staff Sergeant had warned us all prior to going that we were not to wave back at the girls because the East Germans would take pictures and then doctor them, say to show a NATO soldier flipping the bird instead of innocently waving at a pretty girl on the other side. Wouldn’t you know it, we weren’t there 30 seconds that some dolt couldn’t help himself and waved back. The American NCO immediately sent him back to the bus.
Our German translator stood there and had tears in his eyes. It was sobering and moving, and I will never forget the experience.

© 2011 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted for non-commercial purposes with full and proper attribution.