Harsh Life of a Billionaire
Fighting Words

No, My Lord


David Selbourne is one of those intellectual figures who swims in similar currents to that of John Gray: mixing a sort of gloomy, conservative (small c) dislike of much modern culture and public life; a sort of grumpy dislike of the inevitably messy impact of individual liberty combined with a sort of authoritarian desire for those in power to somehow rein in all this terrible individualist excess and take us back to say, 1950. Tim Worstall, well known around here, subjects his latest article to a fairly gentle fisking.

While not subjected to a full-scale fisking, he's still thrashed.



There has to be some kind of balance. If no duty is owed to the state at all ....... there is no state and none of the benefits of it, yes? Perhaps Selbourne's phrases were poorly chosen but I don't think he's without merit.

Isaac Schrödinger

You are correct in that sense.

Selbourne went too far by basically writing that citizens must perform a few given civic duties in order to gain rights.

We have rights. Period. The government does not hand them to us. It can only take them away. So, the question becomes: When can the government take those rights away?

For example, when a citizen helps an enemy state or an entity, then the government can strip the person of his right of movement and throw him/her in jail.

So, that 'duty' boils down to not harming the country.


True. The duty owed to the state is to obey the laws, in essence ... unless or until those laws become unduly infringent upon our rights.

However, somebody left a phrase in somebody's comments that has stuck with me ... to the effect that Rome's final decline began when its citizenry would no longer tolerate compulsory military service. Given that Rome was an imperialistic force and that of course such endeavors cannot be maintained without military of a farther-reaching scope than what we think of, still, I have to wonder, without an expectation that the citizenry will respond to calls to serve, how far can we then expect the government to protect us from foreign incursion? The question could be applied to other areas. At the same time, though, I don't know that I would call protection from foreign threats a right. It is a privilege, yet without it, the institution formed largely to protect our rights could more easily cease to exist.

Something of a conundrum.

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