Author Archives: Neil Lock

On the Copernicus Moment


This is the last of a set of seven essays, in which I have been trying to understand and to diagnose the political, economic and ethical ills of our times. Today, I’ll try to pull together all the strands I have explored, and to sum up where we are today. And I’ll seek to “turn the corner” towards the not so small matter of how to cure these ills.
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A July 4th Message to my American Friends


I receive the Future of Freedom Foundation’s daily message, and today it said:

Yesterday, the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps never was nor will be decided among men. A resolution passed without one dissenting colony, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. – John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams [July 3, 1776]

And then I looked at the preamble of your US Constitution (1788):

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, …

And I stopped right there. How did “free and independent States,” in just 12 years, turn into “a more perfect Union?” Is that not exactly the same ploy that the EU has used to try to force people in Europe into “an ever-closer Union?” When, back in 2004, I looked at the then proposed “European constitution” (which became the Lisbon Treaty), what I wrote about its very first sentence was:

“Reflecting the will of the citizens and states of Europe to build a common future.” Is this not pre-judging the question? We have not been asked.

My American friends, this July 4th, amid the fireworks and the military parades, I think you need to ask yourselves some questions. Is what you have today what your Founding Fathers intended? If no, what went wrong? Who did it? (Alexander Hamilton, I’d guess). How do you get yourselves out of the resulting mess? And how can you prevent such a thing recurring in the future?

While we your friends across the pond are struggling for Brexit, I think you should turn your minds to your own situation. Some of the needed monikers are obvious – Massexit, Calexit (good riddance! some will say) and Nebrexit, for example. Others are more obscure.

I once wrote a (very poor) article, which nevertheless had a great title. “I love Americans, but I hate America.” What I hate about America is its warfare state, and its disesteem for anyone who steps out of line in any way. But many years ago, I lived in Boston for four months and in suburban Chicago for a year. In between the two, I bicycled coast-to-coast, entering the US in Maine and finishing in California. Almost everyone I met, of all races, was good and kind to me. And since then, I have met, and learned much from, many fine human beings, who also happened to be Americans.

I didn’t plan to say anything about Donald Trump in this missive. But I will. If I had to rate Trump as the good, the bad or the ugly, I’d pick ugly. He’s done good things, and bad things. At least, he’s an order of magnitude less evil than the alternative would have been.

So, I’ll say again: I love Americans, but I hate America.

An Afternoon with the Brexit Party


 

An Afternoon with the Brexit Party 

By Neil Lock

On 30th June 2019, I attended a “rally” organized by the UK’s Brexit party in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. At age 66, it was my first ever party political event, although I had been to an anti-EU meeting in London back in 2005. There were 5,500 people there, so I was told. There would only have been 5,499 without me!

Now, I am uncompromisingly pro-Brexit. Indeed, I see leaving the EU as the first step back from a cliff edge; the sine qua non for any possibility of change for the better in the politics of the islands called Britain. But I seek far more than just Brexit. I am, as those who know me will be aware, opposed to politics. All the dishonest, destructive politics that we suffer today.

Before the Brexit referendum three years before, I had not voted in 29 years. One of my main reasons for voting Leave was that, way back in the 1970s, the European project had been mis-sold to the people of the UK. Other reasons were to put an end to the ceaseless stream of pointless or actively destructive directives from the EU, and a desire not to be there when the EU’s ticking economic time-bomb goes off. Three years later, I am also angry that, in a supposed democracy, with the will of the people being so clearly expressed in a referendum, the political class nevertheless chose to renege on their promises, and to obstruct that will.

I find all the mainstream political parties – Tories, Labour, “slob dims” (as I call them) and greenies – to be criminal gangs. When I heard the Brexit party was gaining support – enough to get at least some “representation” in parliament, unlike their predecessors UKIP – I joined the party, and went to the rally to try to find out what they were about.

Can these guys and gals, I thought, really overturn the current system, and give ordinary people a proper say, at last, in how the UK is run? Or might they even, possibly, become in time able to do more; to unhinge the current system, and replace it by something that works for good people, not for politicized slime?

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On Convivials and Politicals


Today, I’m going to compare and contrast the two sides in the big battle of our times. I call them Convivials and Politicals. Much of what I say today, I’ve already said in earlier essays. What is new, though, is how I choose to organize it. Think, if you will, of a large, milling mass of people, which re-arranges itself before your eyes into two opposing armies.

The word “convivial” means living together, and in particular living together well. Convivials, or convivial people, conduct themselves in a convivial way. Convivial conduct is treating others peacefully, tolerantly, honestly and civilly, and respecting their rights – as long, of course, as they do the same for you. It is the habitual behaviour of those who are, generally speaking, good people to have around you. It can be summed up as: “Don’t be an asshole.”

The word “politicals,” on the other hand, is one I haven’t used before. I’ve often referred to some of them loosely as “the political class.” But I also include as “politicals” those that hang on to the coat-tails of the political class. Politicals are those that promote, support or take profit from damaging, unjust or rights-violating policies of political governments. They include those that seek to impose ideological, religious or lifestyle agendas on others; to unjustly enrich themselves or their cronies; or to use government power to get away with acts that, objectively, are crimes.

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On the Troubles of our Times


Back in January 2008, I took a verbal snapshot of the many bad things the UK government was doing to us at the time. Today, I’ll carry this forward to the present. My purpose is to gain a better understanding of the troubles we suffer under today – and not just in the UK. And thus, to try to fathom what is going on underneath. Read more

The backstory behind the war on cars in the UK


On May 20th, 2019, I gave a talk to the Libertarian Alliance about the damaging political policies being imposed on car drivers in the UK, and the history behind them. Normally, these talks are recorded on video. But on this occasion, an unfortunate combination of circumstances prevented a recording. As this subject is a topical one – and becoming more so by the day – I thought it appropriate to create a “transcript” of the talk, re-constructed from my notes.

Introduction

On April 8th, 2019, London mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) went live in the Congestion Charge area in central London. It now costs the driver £12.50 a day, on top of the congestion charge, to drive in this zone a diesel car built before September 2015, or a petrol car built before 2006. This is an outrageous amount; and it also has to be paid at week-ends! This scheme is planned to be extended to all of the area inside North and South Circular Roads in October 2021. And after that, who knows?

Beyond this, there is talk of charging drivers of diesel cars to enter any of 35 or so cities around the UK. Some cities, like Southampton, have decided not to do this. Others, like Birmingham, are pressing on. Meanwhile, on May 9th the Times began a campaign claiming that “air pollution on the streets is poisoning 2.6 million schoolchildren,” and that this is due to “clogged roads”.

And yet, a recent (May 2nd) Sky News poll showed that more than 50 per cent of a random sample of people in the UK were “unwilling to significantly reduce the amount they drive, fly and eat meat,” either to combat climate change or to protect the environment in a more general sense. This is evidence of a huge disconnect between the political classes and the people!

There is a long backstory behind all this, which not many people seem to be aware of. In the last two years, I’ve managed to pull a lot of this backstory together. So, tonight I’ll bring it out into the open for you. In the process, I’ll identify what I call the Ten Deadly Dishonesties. These are attitudes and ploys that anti-car and other green campaigners have used, many of them more than once, in the course of their political machinations. Read more

On the state


By Neil Lock

Every political philosopher worth his salt has written a book, or a chapter, or at least an essay, on the subject of the state. What is the state intended to be? What is the state, in reality? And where is it going? Today, I’ll add to this bonfire my modest contribution of kindling.

Ideas of the state

Since its earliest times, the primary model of the state has been all-but-absolute monarchy. One man is appointed by God (or the gods, or whatever passes for deities in your neck of the woods) to rule over everyone in an area. Being the representative of the gods, he is to be treated as a god. In theory, he can do anything he likes to anybody. Although he does, sometimes, have to be careful when dealing with those of his subjects who know how to wield a sword.

Plato in his Republic, after reviewing several options, came up with the idea of “aristocracy” or “the rule of the best.” His ideal state is ruled over by a philosopher-king. It is a three-class society. The ruling class (the king and his élites) have souls of gold. The enforcing class (soldiers) have souls of silver. Everyone else has souls of bronze or iron, and is subjected to the decrees of the ruling class, as enforced by the soldiers.

The first modern thinker to address the philosophy of the state was Niccolò Machiavelli. His system, like Plato’s, was top-down. He saw the state, whether monarchy or republic, as an organization of supreme political power. He thought that the prince, at the helm of his state, should seek to be feared more than loved. That the “art” of war is of prime importance. That the end of getting and maintaining political power justifies any means. That cruelty and even murder are OK. And that the prince should seek to become a great liar and deceiver.

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