Originally posted 2016-09-16 14:13:30.
I was asked today if I was a ‘liberal’. Now in all honesty, until quite recently, I would just have said ‘yes’ and moved on. Simple, easy, checks the right boxes. But the world is not as it was; liberalism has become infected with some appallingly bad ideas that we have to stand up to and defeat. So when I analysed ‘what I am’ I came up with this: a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist.
So, for this week’s Friday Politics, what does being a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist, mean and why is it not the same as being a ‘liberal’?
Well, on some areas there is overlap. I am socially aware. I believe in universal free education. That societies which do not have free universal health care are sick. I think there should be a social safety-net for those who fall out of the system. That everyone has a right to a decent home, with security and tenure, without having to starve to afford it. I think we should all have clean water, access to electricity, internet, that stuff. That wealth should be redistributed, by taxation, from the richest to the poorest.
A socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist is obviously libertarian. I believe in absolute freedom of speech, about everything. Nobody has a right ‘not to be offended.’ If you hold ideas that I find offensive, then I reserve the right to offend you, personally, by challenging them.
I believe we all have the absolute right to ‘blaspheme’ and that all anti-blasphemy laws should be repealed.
If you’re saying things people find offensive on social media, so what? It should not have the consequence of the police coming to your door or the suspension of your account privileges.
There is no such thing as ‘hate speech’. There is speech and there is assault. It is not ‘hate speech’ to tell a Muslim that his religion is misogynistic and that this is unacceptable in a secular, egalitarian state. It is not ‘hate speech’ to tell Muslim women that they must uncover their faces in a secular public space. Breaking a Muslim’s head would be assault, and that carries penalties — as it should.
The same applies, of course, to Christians and everyone else. You may not prevent a woman from controlling her fertility because of things it says in a book written thousands of years ago by men determined to oppress women, or in the name of a totally fictional ‘god’ that, despite hundreds of years trying, science cannot find the slightest trace of.
A socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist believes absolutely in freedom of thought. You have the right to believe and to think what you want. You have the right to express those in your speech and writings. However, that is as far as it goes. You do not have the right to force your beliefs on others. Nor do you have the right to harm or discriminate against others on the basis of your beliefs.
You have the right to live as you will, as long as that does not damage or impinge on anyone else’s right to do the same. So if you were born male and want to live as a woman, that’s fine. However, you do not have the right to oblige anyone else to use specific language that you pre-approve, even when talking about you.
Being a part of an ‘oppressed minority’ — which should not exist in a truly secular state anyway — should afford you protection. You should not be attacked, beaten, discriminated against — in any way — because of the colour of your skin or the nature of your body, your gender or the language you grew up speaking.
On the other hand, these protections do not extend to the notion that you can somehow prevent others from adopting the fashions you espouse. ‘Cultural appropriation’ does not exist; it’s a political illusion. I speak French but I am not French. That is not ‘cultural appropriation’. It’s speaking French.
If a person of white skin wants to wear dreadlocks, people of black skin cannot complain because this was first popularised amongst black Africans. You can’t stop me playing the Blues any more than I can stop you playing bagpipes. No more can you prevent a novelist from imagining herself in the role of a person from a different background, or creating characters that are not of her own, on the grounds that she is not one of them. You have the right to hold her critically to account for her success in doing so but you may not deny her right to do so.
(And if you think you might, and you are a writer yourself, then you should be ashamed. You just torpedoed freedom of speech, the most important freedom that writers have. Well done. Thanks.)
The right to keep and bear weapons.
Being a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist, I believe in the right of self-defence. I therefore believe that all citizens have the right to keep and bear weapons. They have the right to learn to use them in self defence. These rights include the right to keep and bear firearms.
I believe that the State is the enemy of the people and the only good State is one that fears the people. That they should be armed is therefore axiomatic.
As a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist, I recognise that science is the only reliable means by which we may come to understand and know the physical universe that we live in. Religion and philosophy were earlier attempts to understand reality, which are less reliable and indeed, entirely inaccurate in many ways. I believe, furthermore, that there is a hierarchy applicant here, with religion at the bottom and science at the top. The least reliable way to know about reality is religion and the most reliable is science. No philosophical argument may be countered by a religious one and no scientific argument by a philosophical one.
Socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist beliefs.
A socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist must believe in absolute equality before the law. That there should be one law for everyone, and that all law should be secular and voted for democratically. So, no Sharia, ever. But equally, no religious law of any kind. Secularism has teeth. So no churchmen in legislatures, period.
I believe that legislators have a legal responsibility to tell the truth and that we should prosecute those who do not. If legislators make laws, on the basis of untruth, that harm others, then they should be personally liable. We should be able to sue the pips out of them, or throw them in jail.
All workings of the State, save a very few areas directly connected to immediate security, should be public. Julian Assange and Wikileaks are doing what States should be doing themselves.
Science is the gold standard.
Because a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist accepts science as the ‘gold standard’ then, excepting rules to protect the weakest, the best contemporary science should be the basis of law.
Had these been the case, then the imminent threat of Climate Change could have been avoided. Legislators would have been obliged to ignore vested interests like the fossil fuel industry and listen to the real science.
It follows therefore, that we have some requirements of our politicians and legislators. The first is that they be scientifically competent. You don’t have to have a BSc, but not understanding and accepting fundamental scientific truths like evolution, climate change or the big bang should be a disqualification from ever holding high office.
We live in a time when the very nature of not merely Western but also global human culture is at risk. Religious totalitarians hate us. So do the intellectual Fascists of ‘Political Correctness’ and its ill-formed spawn, ‘Identity Politics’ and ‘Cultural Appropriation’
Basic Freedom under threat.
Anti-human death-cults that are totally incompatible with our society, like Islam and fundamentalist Christianity, threaten our basic freedoms. We live at a time when, outside of the USA at least, States have taken increasingly stringent measures to prevent us from defending ourselves.
Our freedom of speech is curtailed increasingly, by social media companies seeking concessions from the very States that we are trying to hold to account. We are facing a global climatic catastrophe that will cause the deaths of billions and in all likelihood, eradicate our culture.
There was never a greater need for socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist thinking. We never needed cool heads more. We have the capability to avert the impending disaster. Yet we do all we can to avoid addressing it.
I am hated for being a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist. The conservative right hates me because I believe that the State has a duty to ensure a fair society, and that science and not religion is the gold standard. Regressive ‘liberals’ hate me because I believe in freedom of speech and thought and that we have the right to defend ourselves.
Two models of failure.
Yet, ask yourselves, what are the two models that have led us to the brink of catastrophe and potential extermination? Conservatives and liberals. Hidebound with their ideas of religion and race and both determined to deny science for short-term political or financial gain.
We have the power, today, to ensure the destruction of our species. We just have to keep doing as we have been. That’s all.
I am against both of these horrors, the conservative religionards and the liberal ‘social justice warriors’. A plague on both their houses. That’s why I am a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist. We need more like me, fast.