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20 December, 2005

It's not all about me, me, ME

George Monbiot, writing in today's Guardian, is overtly anti-cars.  I'm not, but his diatribe touches on something about which I do feel strongly.

My personal politics can be broadly and simplistically summarised as 'individualist' – I believe that the rights of the individual take priority over the convenience of the state; that the state exists to facilitate the lives of individuals, but individuals don't exist to serve the collective.

However, that's not to the exclusion of wider society:

[Monbiot's article] is about the rise of the antisocial bastards who believe they should be allowed to do what they want, whenever they want, regardless of the consequences. [We are slowly turning into] a nation that recognises only the freedom to act, and not the freedom from the consequences of other people's actions.
It is not just because of his celebration of everything brash and flash that Jeremy Clarkson has become the boy racer's hero. He articulates, with a certain wit and with less equivocation than any other writer in this country, the doctrine that he should be permitted to swing his fist – whoever's nose is in the way.
Hence the limit on my individualism: the right (which I assert) to act independently of collective activities, standards and imposed morality so long as others aren't affected.
I don't believe I have the right to play death metal at high volume at 02:00, nor smoke in a hospital, nor ignore speed limits. I don't have children, but I'm entirely happy for my taxes to contribute to the education system. I'd support the renationalisation of domestic energy generation & supply and the transport & telecommunications infrastructures (the railway lines and the wires). Public smoking should be banned, recycling should be compulsory, and taxes should be increased to support social provision, all to improve the lives of individuals within the collective.

These are all 'background' issues; mostly enabling, but a number of moderate restrictions are quite reasonable. Within these limits, I feel the government should leave me alone, and its agencies shouldn't even be able to identify me without my explicit permission, but I do think the limits need to exist.

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