Tuesday, May 19, 2015

David Cameron's new Tory Majority Wants to Toss Freedom in the Bin

Cameron's rhetoric is almost worse than the actual policy change.

Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway outlines the proposed shift in focus on "extremism."
Cameron will tell the NSC: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance."
He is directly rejecting the very notion of a secular, liberal state. And I don't mean secular or liberal in the very narrow, partisan way, but in the broad outline of how western political society is arranged. Maybe it's a privilege I take for granted, but I would have hoped it understood that a just state DOES leave alone all law abiding people. That a just state seeks first to secure the natural rights of the people, and DOES maintain neutrality in the issues of mind and conscience, seeking not to bind people in those matters (though here I am certainly more American, which is technically more secular than other western states). I would have hoped that disagreement from these broad principles of liberalism are rare, and that most of the squabbling of the day is fighting over a pretty narrow ground in the grand scheme of things. Small details where small differences in values can produce tensions.

And yet, here is a (somewhat) head of state, a chief legislator, feeling the freedom to not even pretend to respect such foundational principles. If a major party leader in a major western state can be so outwardly dismissive of the root of state protected personal freedom and autonomy, then it is pretty troubling.

The gains in wealth, opportunity, freedom and equality brought about by liberal government over the last few hundred years are an anomaly in historical terms. They're nothing to take for granted.