Thursday, January 03, 2008

Liberals, Libertarians and Lollygaggers

"Freedom is a privilege nobody rides for free" - Steve Van Zandt.

It's a terrible idea to take political ideas or philosophies from song lyrics (especially the 80s) or even off the side of a cereal box but is it really any worse than the schoolboy clutching their recently thumbed Ayn Rand preaching about freedom and the individual and how they don't have to play by the rules because the rules only serve to oppress them and their world altering talent?

True libertarianism properly leads to anarchy, and not the safety pin punk kind either but a totally free society. Such a totally free society that can only exist when it is underpinned by being populated by people who know enough of what they need to do in order to sustain themselves and the freedom that they are exercising. In other words they have to dispose of their rubbish, vacuum the house and make their own dinner. No one else is going to do it for them. With this freedom and personal responsibility come boundaries imposed by the environment. Freedom to listen to whatever you want doesn't mean that you will be able to listen to it at 4am when living in a semi detached house, simply because there is also no law to prevent your neighbour coming round and feeding you hands first into a bacon slicer. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to producing a citizenry capable of living in such a free society even if we can all recognise that it is not going to be possible. Much in the communist pursuit of new Soviet man, though we have enough cop on to know we're not going to get there any time soon. But where does that leave our mollycoddled children of the pseudo right in Ireland?

Most Americans of the centre and even the left are more right wing that most Irish people and moreover most Europeans. However those folks can walk the walk not just quote from Heinlein or Ayn Rand. Oddly enough it seems the Irish software industry is host to many of the pseudo right in Ireland, people who would run a mile from from truly making it on their own. Why is the regulator not doing more for me, why is the state not intervening, why is this state board not doling out more money to me and my chums in funding and why don't people with money give us things for free.

Why not give money to these producers of...what is it again.. ah, solutions? Because most start ups fail, and the best way to make money is at things you know something about. Hell, it is a fact of commercial life that most businesses fail. Though it provides a delicious type of irony that folks who see failure in some spheres to be a mark of shame (I've been unsuccessful at things because I've tried to do things), are aghast at the unwillingness of the hoi polloi to fund their own potential failures.

Some of the more bleating types can barely get through an afternoon without falling over their own contradictions between not believing that agreeing with a license agreement is actually agreeing with it before they're running to their barrack room law books about how some set of terms and conditions they agreed to (or which they might merely have accepted) didn't offer them enough protection from some frightful defilement.

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