Thursday, 27 May 2010

Gerald Warner, authoritarianism, and abortion

The latest post from Gerald Warner starts out beautifully:

It is time we recognised the true character of the European financial crisis, which is growing more ominous by the hour. It is not, at bottom, an economic meltdown: it is a political debacle. Its origin lies in two disastrous developments of the post-War years: the arrogation to itself of excessive power by the state and the manic drive towards synthetic unification of totally incompatible European nation states.

The power of the state is now the largest single burden on humanity in the developed nations. The British state began its totalitarian encroachment on citizens’ lives under the Attlee government. It appeared acceptable, even natural, to a country that had become accustomed for six years to all-embracing government control during the emergency of the Second World War. Extending that control into peacetime blighted Britain’s prospects for more than half a century.

Before long, though, his religious prejudices surface:
What is the point of denationalising industries if the nation’s children have been nationalised? If a schoolgirl can be pressured into having an abortion by the agencies of the state, without her parents’ knowledge? Their grandchild has been destroyed with the complicity of the authorities and they are not even aware of the fact.
Abortion isn't an easy moral issue, even for those of us unencumbered by spiritual baggage. There is a good libertarian argument for removing state provision of abortions, despite the obvious utilitarian benefits. Whatever I may think about how the rights of a pregnant woman compare with the rights of the foetus inside her, it is wrong that taxpayers like Warner, who are morally opposed to abortion, should be forced to subsidise it. I fear, however, that Mr Warner would go further, and actually outlaw privately-funded abortions.

A commenter has asked him this very question. I will post an update if he replies.

Having strayed into firmly Traditional Tory territory, Warner concludes with three paragraphs on which cynical libertarians and cynical conservatives can agree:

Glutted with illegitimate power, the political class needed an even stronger fix. Ruling despotically over any single nation could no longer satisfy the power lust of the European nomenklatura, so it dedicated itself to creating a European super-state. It was an absurdity from the start, made even more ludicrous by the artificial imposition of a single currency. Even before creating the monstrosity of the European Union the constituent governments had been appropriating exorbitant proportions of their citizens’ income. That could eventually have become politically dangerous, as people working hard for appropriate salaries saw their just rewards being swallowed up in the maw of the state through penal taxation.

So, governments reassured their citizens that, without constraining themselves, Victorian-style, to deferred gratification, they could enjoy large houses, high-tech gadgets, expensive cars and foreign holidays by imitating the example of government and borrowing far beyond their means. Britain’s sovereign debt crisis has lately masked the more serious problem of private indebtedness: in that respect, Italy is in better shape than the UK. The pincer of sovereign/private debt now threatens the economies and living standards of Europe.

But it is the 60-year-long escalation in state power that has created this crisis, its ultimate exemplar being the leviathan in Brussels. The deluded incompetents of the EU are now trying to prescribe more of the same – closer integration as the supposed remedy for the crisis which that infatuated aspiration has provoked. It will blow up in their faces. It is not only the eurozone that is in denial: £5.7bn of “cuts” as the proposed sticking plaster to cure Britain’s life-threatening condition testifies to that. The only consolation is that the ultimate casualty of the coming cataclysm will be the overweening power of the state, which has led us to this disaster.

On this last point, at least, let us hope he is right.

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