The Historian Of Decline

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Situational Libertarianism

Civil liberties in Britain were given support from an unlikely source, someone close to the centre of power. Tony Blair's wife, Cherie said this about the government's reaction to terror:

"It is all too easy to respond in a way that undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions and cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilized nation."

Charles Krauthammer hit back with a different view:

"Liberties should be as unlimited as possible - unless and until there arises a real threat to the open society....Call it situational libertarianism....There is no slippery slope, only a shifting line between liberty and security that responds to existential threats."

No doubt Krauthammer genuinely believes that America is immune to the forces that we have seen at work through out history. Just because America has oppressed its own citizens in the past, usually during times of war, only to loosen that oppression later, is no guarantee that it can successfully flirt with fascism this time.

Other countries have descended into tyranny and it is the height of arrogance to blithely assume "it cannot happen here." When nationalist fervour leads people to excuse the execution of innocent citizens as the price for a nation's security, conditions are ripening for a long slide down a very slippery slope.

"We must fight the terrorists because they hate our freedoms!" we are told. While the terrorists continue talking about our foreign policy and ignoring our freedoms, our leaders are ignoring their own horrible foreign policy and attacking our freedoms as the root cause of terrorism. When Big Brother watches all, and insists we show our papers before setting foot outside of our yards, terrorism won't be a problem anymore. Call it situational libertarianism.

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