Historians know that English born John Locke
was a persistent champion of natural rights, the idea that each person owns himself and should have certain liberties that cannot be expropriated by the state or anyone else. When someone labours for a productive end, the results become that person’s property, reasoned Locke.
Locke opposed a bill before Parliament to lower the maximum legal interest rate from 6 percent to 4 percent. Because interest is a price, and because all prices are determined by the laws of nature, he reasoned, ceilings on interest rates would be counterproductive. People would evade the ceiling, and the costs of evasion would drive interest rates even higher than they would have been without the ceiling. Locke’s reasoning on the subject, sophisticated for his era, has withstood the test of time: economists make the same objection to controls on interest rates.
David Scullion writes that “Brexiteers often quip that the Liberal Democrats are neither liberal nor democratic. But this isn’t quite true. The Brexit-blocking party are liberal in the curious modern sense. Where Classical Liberals saw the individual as sovereign and sought to maximise personal freedom, the modern liberals have made a crucial alteration.
“Far from forgetting about the individual, the modern liberal is obsessed with what’s best for us. But that’s the difference. They care about our welfare over our freedom. The Classical Liberal holds that the individual has an innate sovereignty to pursue their lives how they like. The US Declaration of Independence says people were “endowed” certain rights by God, namely “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
“These words were heavily influenced by Locke, but the bastardised offspring of Locke imagines that what people were really endowed with was a vast array of rights which apparently benefit their well being but actually constrain their freedom. For the modern Liberal, nothing, not even your free will, can absolve you of these ‘rights’.
“That means you are best protected when you do what the Liberal Elite think best, even if you don’t want to. Far from accepting that people should have the freedom to decide for themselves, the modern Liberal has discovered the best way to live and commands others to do the same.
“That means individual choice is relegated to things that don’t really matter. Certainly nothing as serious as whether we stay in the EU should be left to the people.
“In stark contrast to a Classical Liberal, the modern Liberal sees state power as the best method of protecting what is best for the individual. That’s why they love the EU.
“It’s an extra layer of Government: regulating and nannying us as individuals, and harrying own national Government to force people to do what they should be doing. The idea of denying individual freedom has never been popular and no modern politician has dared to admit they wanted to reverse democracy before, so why have we suddenly seen the slipping of the mask?
“Since the EU is undoubtedly the high-point of modern Liberalism
it’s no surprise that they have been driven mad at the idea Britain could be leaving. Their view of the world sees a steady increase in Government power as key to making people ‘good’ and constraining the forces of Nationalism. Since 1945 and the emergence of the welfare state, things looked pretty good. When the EEC took on more and more power, things got even better.
“But the Brexit vote was a huge error in their redemptive narrative of history. It wasn’t supposed to happen. Having been fellow travellers with supporters of democracy, they had to diverge when the result went so spectacularly against what they saw was in people’s best interests. They tried for a while to justify everything with the language of democracy, getting into an absurd position of calling for more democracy to cancel the last batch.
“But now the Liberal Democrats are truly in line with their modern ‘liberal’ philosophy which only ever saw a popular vote as a means to an end. When Swinson announced she would cancel Brexit outright without another referendum, she was only being consistent to her philosophy which has more in common with Enlightened Despotism than anything John Locke had written.
“The modern Liberal never believed in democracy as a point of principle, it just took Brexit to reveal their true colours”.
17.4million democratic votes indicate the level of distaste for the Cable/Swinson philosophy. Locke must be turning in his grave. But how many of these “modern bandwagon” Liberals even know of him?