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Sunday, 04 April 2010


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I wonder just how long it'll be before those 'No more that two children at any one time' signs in some shops are challenged on age discrimination grounds too...

Progressives hate choice, in case someone makes one they disagree with.

And yet they steal words like 'liberal'. I am in the process of composing another post on this propensity of progressives to steal words and then mistreat them - there oughta' be a law against it!

So what happens if inaction due to prejudice leads to harm? So the person who seeks shelter is refused by all B&B owners because of their prejudices, and freezes to death?


Piss off and get on with your garden!

Screw the garden - like Liberalism, it's a non-linear choastable system at the moment, and I like it that way.

""A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury." - J.S.Mill, On Liberty

S.O.D. the troll

Mill, being by nature an intefering old busybody, was as confused on the subject of 'social justice' as he was on other things. He did not understand that in a free society no one undertaking a commercial transaction should be obliged, let alone forced, to do good to another. Whether or not one is obliged to undertake acts of charity and kindness in a personal context is another matter. Here is an example of his confusion:

"society should treat all equally well who have deserved equally well of it, that is, who have deserved equally well absolutely. This is the highest abstract standard of social and distributive justice; towards which all institutions, and the efforts of all virtuous citizens should be made inthe utmost degree to converge."

No definition of "deserved, no description of who decides what is "deserved" and again, the sly/thoughtless(?) link between the word 'justice', which traditionally governs an individual's behaviour, not the economic redistribution of people's wealth.

On the subject of merit, or who deserves, this from Hume:

"So great is the uncertainty of merit, both from its natural obscurity, and from the self-conceit of each individual, that no determinate rule of conduct could ever follow from it."

Dad the Formidable!

PS: see post above "Hayek's scalpel & Duff's bludgeon vs. 'Social Justice'"

The quote you’ve given is from Utilitarianism, and mine is from On Liberty. Therein resides a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.
Mill started life as a utilitarian under the strong but loving influence of his father (a-hem!) and the utilitarian Bentham as his tutors, hence his utilitarian roots. But in his early 20’s his own critical reasoning had evolved in a way that his mentors and he would have hoped it wouldn’t, to a realisation that the whole edifice of utilitarianism was utter rubbish. Here is Mill: -
“Suppose that all your objects in life were realised; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you? And an irrepressible self-consciousness answered, ‘No!’ At this my very heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.”
And in my copy of On Liberty, the editor continues: -
“That irrepressible ‘No!’ testified at first only to the failure of utilitarianism to provide a satisfactory basis for his own life, the life of a dedicated reformer. But implicit in it was the recognition of a larger inadequacy. The difficulty was not only his inability to find his personal happiness in the ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number’, as the utilitarian formula had it; it was also in the utilitarian idea of happiness itself – the idea that happiness could be expressed as a calculus of pleasure and pain, a calculus that could only be arrived at rationally, analytically.”
It wasn’t only his intellectual world that crumbled, but his emotional one too. The editor again: -
“What depressed him even more than the loss of his vocation was the absence in him of any natural and spontaneous feeling, any poetic or artistic sensibility. He was convinced that the exclusive cultivation of the ‘habit of analysis’ had destroyed in him all capacity for emotion.
Therewith Mill had a nervous breakdown that it seemed would be terminal. However, after 6 months he luckily read something that turned him round, Mill again: -
“I was reading, accidentally, Marmontel’s Memoirs, and came to the passage which relates his father’s death, the distressed position of the family, and the sudden inspiration by which he, then a mere boy, felt and made them feel that he would be everything to them – would supply the place of all that they had lost. A vivid conception of the scene and its feeling came over me, and I was moved to tears. From that moment my burden grew lighter. The oppression of the thought that all feeling was dead within me, was gone. I was no longer hopeless: I was not a stock or a stone.”
Thereafter, he was free, or rather, free-ish. Free enough to “cross the floor” from his good ol’ “Dad the formidable”, and start again with his own ideas about freedom. He wrote On Liberty with his “perfect friend”, as he called her (lover to you and me). In a very direct sense, Mill’s deliverables – Utilitarianism and On Liberty - abide by the old adage: “you can choose your friends, but not your family”: Utilitarianism is his Dad talking, and On Liberty is Mill.
But in spite of the rest of us observing that “On Liberty” is the absolute antithesis of “Utilitarianism”, Mill wouldn’t have any of it! Because, see, he loved his good ol’ Dad. Mill’s second nervous breakdown was eight years later, during his Father’s final prolonged illness. So he wasn’t going to dob all over his Father’s philosophy and legacy, rather he would duck and dive and bob and weave to reconcile the irreconcilable. The editor puts it rather kindly: -
“In our own awareness of the depths of this crisis, we may be inclined to pay too little heed to its intellectual substance. Yet it was the greatest intellectual moment. For it signified a new mode of thought that was to have the largest and most enduring consequences, not only for On Liberty, but for all of Mill’s writings. Mill himself was acutely sensible of this, although he somewhat understated it in his Autobiography. Recounting this stage in his ‘mental progress’, he described it as a compromise between the new and the old. In embracing a philosophy of ‘anti-self-consciousness’, he said he had not discarded whatever remained valid in utilitarianism. He continued to believe that happiness was ‘the test of all rules of conduct, and the end of life’.”
But the fact remains, as the editor puts it more directly later: -
“Whether Mill was aware of it or not, the echoes of that early experience reverberate through the pages of On Liberty. In this sense, On Liberty stands as a decisive rebuttal of his Father.”
Now this is very unfortunate, because it has given the liberal left the ability to embrace John Stuart Mill as one of their own, trumping every Liberal right claim of kinship and quotes from On Liberty, with quotes from Utilitarianism and a kinship counter-claim – exactly as you have done, “Dad the Formidable”! When in truth, any quote from Utilitarianism should be considered a quote from James Mill and Jeremy Bentham, and only those from On Liberty from John Stuart Mill himself.
The tragedy is thereby complete: being the decent Liberal bloke he was, John Stuart was not able to disavow and discredit utilitarianism because of the irreparable damage it would do to the loving bonds with his father. But the people who would certainly have been John Stuart’s enemies – the liberal Left – have ever since been able to dissolve his greatest work - On Liberty - into nothing by mixing it with what he couldn’t deny was not his own – Utilitarianism: like matter meeting anti-matter.
Shakespeare, eat your heart out.

Dad the Demolished!

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