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The Case for Restraints

Let’s take a quick look at the biggest problems currently facing the West: collapse of the social contract, an unacceptable rate of violent crime, strife between ethnic and religious groups, shocking levels of debt (both personal and state). Both the Left and Right would have difficulty denying the destructive nature of these developments, hallmarks of the early 21st century. However, when pontificating about these issues, the chosen thinkers from each tribe choose to ignore the glaringly obvious root cause: every single one of these calamities result from poor judgement of the general public. In doing so, they ignore a clear-minded and objectively water-tight solution.

The Great Recession was a test case. My economically-minded friends tell me most people are simply incapable of understanding the basics of their field. Is it really surprising then, when people are given autonomy over monetary matters the results are disastrous? Today we find Mr and Mistress Doles’ up and down the country, abandoning work, their children and all self-decency to pursue things they can’t afford (my thanks to IDS for providing a plethora of case examples which back this up, as well as many laughs). Is it any surprise we fell face-first in 2008 when such large levels of these incompetents have ready access to the financial world? Our forebears pursuing the Enlightenment agenda did us a disservice when they unceremoniously rejected the only-known prevention of the above: slavery.

Incessant bouts of boom and bust were unknown to the ancient Egyptians. The reign of the Aztec emperors did not beckon in the pay-day loans industry. These societies, totalitarian in nature, simply did not suffer these social ills.

This may be a shocking proposition for all of those which have received a liberal education (well, perhaps not shocking). But surely it’s our duty, in times of crisis, to consider what has worked in the past and apply it to the present? After-all, has the pursuit of liberty, fraternity and equality really so fruitful? Just what effect the pursuit of these values would lead to should have been apparent from the beginning, as Robespierre’s victims were piling up.

If all of this is reading like some terrible far-right manifesto — Hobbes on steroids — contemporary leftists may want consider how a re-introduction of slavery is, quite possibly, the radical economic shift they’ve been seeking. The alternative to neo-liberalism that was elusive for so long. A Marxist’s greatest bugbear is how the proletariat is being coerced into renting their labour in the most undignified ways imaginable. What better way of eliminating rent than full ownership?

Burk Foundation’s insight into freedom and bad stuff happening: we are steam-rolling toward disaster: 11

The victims of chattel slavery frequently possessed higher living standards than the beleaguered lot slogging it out in the mills and factories in the industrial world. (Something dear Orestes Brownson got into trouble for highlighting.) And that was for one very simple reason. An owner has a stake in his property — if they fall ill or into machinery they lose a very valuable possession. A rented worker is expendable by definition.

When you own something you treat it better than if you were to rent it. Take two brand new cars, give one to a rental agency and gift one to a friend. Inspect these cars in a year’s time and you’ll find that the former will be tired-looking with chipped paint and suspicious smells wafting from the boot; the latter will be as good as new. Undergraduates and others with free time are welcome to test this hypothesis.

Those still not convinced of my scrupulous non-partisanship ought to look at some of the heroes of the Right: Rand, Hayek, Friedman. All of these writers promoted individual liberty regardless of its cost to a society they didn’t really believe existed. This is far from what we should be striving for. The likes of Burke and Carlyle (and a few unmentionables) fully understood that a healthy, functioning and prosperous society requires order. Chains just happen to be the best way of maintaining that.

The passage of time is often viewed as the great filterer of ideas. As the decades pass by, the propositions of Man are scrutinised, and only the “best” persevere. Demonstrating their usefulness and value, these ideas receive the acceptance of incoming generations. Bad ones, on the other hand, struggle to remain relevant, eventually slipping away into obscurity and the texts of unsympathetic history professors. This popular conception of “memetic” cultural evolution is rather misleading: as any clear-minded individual can see, today’s prevailing ideas aren’t always the best ones we can muster.