Fade to Black: An Evil of Individualism

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Jameshetfieldwien07_1.jpgphoto by Flowkey

As I reflect back at my youth at times when I didn’t necessarily take my faith seriously, Art that I once enjoyed in my youth—and still may enjoy—that isn’t necessarily Christian, or tasteful for that matter, I am having to rectify with my serious reflection on how it applies to me and my Catholic faith today.  

I was born in the mid-eighties, so, naturally, the nineties dominated the formation of my childhood. To be honest, in my youth—ages 10 to 15—I wasn’t really a music fan. In seventh grade, I had been introduced to Metallica by a friend and I was intrigued by some of the bands more melodic tunes such as “Fade to Black, “Nothing Else Matters,” The Unforgiven,” The Unforgiven 2” etc. Now, looking back as a mature man who is heading the natural course towards an old man, I believe that my fascination with the melodies and lyrics of these songs was the lyricist’s poetry ordered toward what Christians call “Original Sin.”

Examining the lyrics to “Fade to Black:”

Life, it seems, will fade away

Drifting further every day

Getting lost within myself

Nothing matters, no one else

I have lost the will to live

Simply nothing more to give

There is nothing more for me

Need the end to set me free

Emptiness is filling me

To the point of agony

Growing darkness taking dawn

I was me, but now he’s gone

No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late

Now I can’t think, think why I should even try.

Pretty Dark for a child not even able to drive. However, it’s real human emotion, it’s an experience with the dark voids of human nature that finds its source in Original Sin. Of course, some may stumble across my words and be puzzled at the expression of ‘Original Sin.’ GK Chesterton once quipped that the most striking evidence for Christianity was to view the evil in the world—cause by Original Sin. Furthermore, I once read an article about GK Chesterton that I reported asked him about what was wrong with the world to which he replied, ‘I am.” There has been a lot of great achievements in our collective human history from the idea of individual freedom;  however, the idea breeds the idea of individualism in which the only thing matters is my ‘rights’ to do as I please, so to hell with anyone else. In a way, with the rise of individualism, modernity has created a cultural selfishness that becomes the antithesis of culture itself. In a culture merely rooted in “I am,” we have lost the ability to see another individual sitting beside us. 

If one looks at the lyrics presented by this particular Metallica song, one will notice a whole lot of “I” and “myself” in each passage. In fact, the lyricist declares “No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late.” The Christian perspective will perhaps see some of the symptoms of what is ailing this particular person. The person has turned inward towards himself as stated “getting lost within myself.” Remember in Exodus 3, God expresses his very nature as his name “I AM.” In many ways, modernity’s stress on individualism has always been rooted in the human distortion of “I am” in  “The Fall” of Genesis 3—Genesis 3 and Exodus 3 coincidence? Now, of course, this doesn’t reflect fault in the lyricists, as others around him could have alienated him to where he believes “he” is his only source of salvation. Indeed, as Christians, we need to reflect on our duty to see those who are marginalized and approach them with the Gospel.

Christians must also see from this loss of will that any sort of “self-centering” methods promoted by other Christians is also not in accord with orthodox Christianity as it focuses not on outward search for the Incarnation of Christ who is the way, but rather instead of an inward removal from the physical world into a more gnostic spirituality. Christianity by its very nature brings hope to those who desperately are searching for their restless hearts to be at rest. Pope St. John Paul II June 29th, 1978 wrote extensively in his diary about Christian community and the right order toward Christ:

“As for Christian existence, it begins with Jesus Christ, who Himself constitutes a ‘communion.’ First and foremost, he alone is the unity of God and man, having in Himself full grace, that is, full power to reconcile man with God.” (In God’s Hands pg. 134) 

We must reach out to our neighbors, it’s not our duty to serve as judge to whether those who look to be in need will abuse charity, as for many this is an excuse not to help. It begins with “Hello” and a shaking of hands. It begins by seeing a homeless person walking over to them asking them their name. It begins with seeing people as people rather than an identity of culture, race, sexual preference, gender ideology, etc. Do these things, where an object of the faith, and if they ask, “What cause you to stop by?” You say: “Jesus Christ.” 

What is the good?

As responsible citizens, we must all, so far as we are able, occupy ourselves with the metaphysical question of what good and evil are. The crisis enveloping the West at the moment is in part, a result of confusing what the majority wants with what is objectively good for them. Consider the following argument:

P1: Whatever the majority wants is good.

P2: The majority wants X.

C: Therefore, X is good.

This is a valid argument, but not a sound one: Premise 1 is false. Intuitively, we know this to be true. People behave, even if they do not explicitly say so, as if they were committed to a metaphysical position that holds goodness to be objective, independent of what we think or desire.

The problem is where this thinking hits epistemology. The at-times tyrannical behaviour of the elites is a result of their thinking that what is right is independent of the will of the majority (so far so good), but thinking they are in a better position to know what the good is and that their opinion should be forced on the majority (not so good). Consider this argument:

P1: X is good.

P2: People should do what is good.

C1: Therefore, people should do X.

P3: People do not want to do X.

P4: Where people do not want to perform the good, they should be made to.

C2: Therefore, people should be made to do X.

The problem with this approach is that it is too simplistic, and shows no regard for the relationship between free will and virtue. A good world, of which we all dream, is not simply one of material prosperity, it is also a world of virtue. What good is it to live in a world of luxury food and houses if people are still brutish? We have seen in the lives of the super wealthy that material prosperity does not entail contentment and mental health. To reach a world of goodness, people must learn virtue, but virtue cannot be practised by compulsion – it must be freely chosen.

Where the consequences of immoral choices are sufficiently extreme, we have laws to deter such behaviour and punish transgressors, who owe a debt both to their immediate victims and society at large. Every time someone transgresses the spirit of civil laws, they transgress against society, because they show contempt for society. In showing contempt for society, one is showing contempt for one’s fellowman, society being an aggregate of human beings. Such contempt transgresses the commandments:

  1. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, and strength; and
  2. You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

But we cannot have political laws for everything: to do so would be to strike at the plan of giving people as much liberty as possible so that they can learn virtue. Nor is it wise to assume that the legislature will always know what is right in a given situation. The legislature is a small body of individuals, sometimes from not particularly diverse backgrounds. Even where they have good advisors, that does not entail that they will be in a position to understand what the advisor is really saying, why he is saying what he is saying, or what they should do in response to his advice.

Even when people know in their consciences what they should do, this does not entail that they will do it. In a democracy, where popularity is important in order to be re-elected, when faced with the choice of doing what is popular or doing what is right (where they are at variance) there is pressure to compromise. This will usually be justified by the argument that compromise now allows one to keep power and thereby make a better decision later: in a word, tactics.

But in a world where the state has fewer choices to make, and the constitution prevents inroads into the liberties of citizens, the amount of damage caused by such structural problems is limited. To the extent that one values liberty as a good, an intrinsic component of virtue, one must favour minimal state intervention. Consider this finally from a Christian angle: God is the ultimate Power and the ultimate Good: no-one is greater than He. Yet he lets humans have great autonomy in the world. If He is willing to let us make our own decisions, then surely the state ought to do likewise.

 

 

The pressure cooker

It has come to my attention that Parliament has received a petition asking for a referendum on the question of abolishing the House of Lords. Parliament has agreed to debate this petition, which raises the possibility that such a referendum may one day happen.

Parliament to debate referendum on abolishing the House of Lords

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/209433

Conservativism and sentimentality would ordinarily make such a proposition distasteful to a great number of Britons. The times have changed, however, and the anger of the nation, much like steam in a pressure cooker, is building, still to be dissipated.

The House of Lords is not what it once was. During the Blair years, a great number of hereditary peers, bastions of British conservatism and patriotism, were presented by the Commons with a choice: stay in the legislature, but give up your hereditary peerage; or keep your hereditary peerage, but leave the legislature. A large number chose the latter option, wishing their children to inherit their ancient (usually) title. This meant that the composition of the House swung towards political appointees, the so-called “life peers”.

Furthermore, under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the Law Lords were removed from the House of Lords and formed the new Supreme Court, to replace the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. This was done in order to improve the separation of powers in the British constitution.

In truth, the power of the House of Lords has been limited in some respects for a long time now. The Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949 mean that where the House of Lords and House of Commons are in conflict, the House of Lords can merely delay the passage of a Bill by one year. Provided the Monarch gives Royal Assent, a Bill passed by the Commons, but not by the Lords, will become an Act of Parliament. This was confirmed in the case of R (Jackson) v Attorney General [2006] 1 AC 262, in which Lord Steyn said that Parliament was composed of the Monarch, the Commons, and the Lords. He went on to say that Parliament could redefine itself for certain purposes if it so chose, and said that this is what had happened in 1911: Parliament had permitted itself to be redefined as the Monarch and the Commons where the Lords were in opposition to the will of the Commons.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/1-2/13/contents

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/12-13-14/103/contents

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_(Jackson)_v_Attorney_General

Such has been our state of affairs – but that may not continue. Reform of the Lords has been a vexed question. Blair’s reforms were meant to be a step in making the Lords more representative of the people, more meritocratic, and ultimately more accountable to the people. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, had been planning a further statute to reform the Lords, but this appears to have been delayed (perhaps indefinitely) because of the voluminous work concerned with implementing Brexit.

The Lords’ latest move to keep Britain in the customs union (see Melanie Phillips’ comments on the matter) may be the straw the breaks the camel’s back. Many Brexiteers are angry with the Commons’ opposition to the referendum result. At least the Commons are elected, though. Not so the Lords.

http://www.melaniephillips.com/betraying-brexit-voters-constitutional-crisis/

 

The Beast

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

-Revelation 13:1-8

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

-1 John 4:3

The Beast from the sea is a composite of the four beasts that emerge from the “great sea” in the vision of Daniel 7. The sea represents the Gentiles, the world of the ancient Mediterranean, and the forces of chaos. Leviathan, a symbol of chaos in the Old Testament, is a sea dragon (compare Tiamat), and has obvious resonance with the seven-headed Dragon of Revelation and the Beast from the sea. In Daniel 7, the various beasts represent Gentile empires that oppress Israel. In Revelation, that theme is applied to the Church as well (the distinction or otherwise between these two entities lies beyond the scope of this post).

Although those ancient empires are gone today, we see attempts by various forces to procure an anti-Christian empire once again, a force that ignores national differences and national sovereignty, a force that wishes to keep the Gospel of Christ and the word of truth from the nations’ hearing. Revelation tells us that the Beast will be successful in persecuting the saints, but it will not destroy them all. At the end, the saints will witness Christ destroying the Beast and instituting His own kingdom rule.

John tells us that the spirit of antichrist is already abroad in the world. Traditionally, the Church has identified the Beast as a facet of antichrist, the nuance of his role as an imperial tyrant, a political and military figure. The spirit of such a figure is already at work, even if his final empire has not quite coalesced. Wherever Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, is denied, antichrist is at work. For this reason, I believe that in our prayers for our nations recovery, we must pray against the spirit of antichrist, that Christ would have the victory.

 

Spectacles

A worldview affects the interpretation of evidence. It is like a pair of spectacles, through which light passes, allowing us to see. If the spectacles are cracked, this does not entail that the world itself is cracked. Rather, it means they are in need of repairing or replacing. This is a fundamental part of the Judeo-Christian concept of repentance: it means changing one’s mind, re-orienting it to God’s view of reality. There are big moments of repentance in the life of a Christian, but also small ones. Understanding and accepting truth in all things is a life-long process of learning. Sometimes we are tempted to compromise what we know to be true; other times, we are confused, trying to step back, take a breath, and make sense of it all.

The differences that the core group at AATW (myself included) have with the Left spring from our fundamentally different worldviews, and this is why, without a change in the fundamentals, dialogue is essentially fruitless.  Those who have a utopian view of the aim of politics can never be reconciled with those who accept that life has its inevitable tragedies, rooted in the weakness of human nature and the inclemency of the natural world. Those, like me, who advocate for a diminution of the state do not do so in the belief that such action will automatically and inevitably produce a paradise on earth. Far from it. The free market does not promise to make all things right. Since liberty entails the choice to do evil, a free market approach necessarily involves a risk of evil. In advocating for liberty, we are not promising to make the world a materially perfect place. Rather, we are elaborating a fundamentally deontological view of ethics and human interaction, based on the principle that liberty is inherently valuable, just as life is inherently value.

This reasoning does not mean that a free market entails a poorer world. When people are free to spend their money as they choose, they have the option to give it to charitable schemes and to invest in companies that bring sustainable growth to the world. In such a system, the choice to use money in this way is a kind of virtue. Virtue presupposes free will; without free will, there can be no virtue. When the state spends tax money to do these things, it takes away some opportunities from the individual to do good. Not only that, it also has the power to use the tax-payer’s money to fund what he considers to be evil. An example of this would be the use of tax money to fund abortions against the will of conservative Christians.

The Leftist might respond that virtue is not what is important; results are what counts. Improving the lives of vulnerable people is what matters. If forcibly appropriated resources are necessary, so be it. This view has problems, however. First of all, it assumes the poor would be worse off if people were taxed less, because our selfishness would make us keep the “surplus” to ourselves. This is ultimately a synthetic proposition, a proposition about how the world is. It is not true (or false) by definition. It can only be known by experience. As a prediction about how things will be, it must rely on statistical data – and the data does not uniformly support it.

Secondly, if it is wrong to forcibly appropriate money, then the advocate of statism is forced to balance two evils, and argue that leaving the poor uncared for is worse than appropriating other people’s property. This might be true in the short-term (and even then, that proposition is debatable), but in the long-term it is far from certain. If the long-term effect  of state appropriations is a withering of the private economy, and the economy is what actually generates wealth, then there will be less and less wealth to meet the needs of the poor as tax revenue dries up. So this model will only work if poverty is eradicated before the point of economic destruction. Wealth must be generated before it is available to the state for spending.

Lastly, there is the problem of the system itself. The Bible teaches that a workman is worthy of his wages, and most countries in the world operate on the basic principle that people will not work for nothing. Therefore, if one builds a state-system for meeting the needs of the poor, then a great amount of money will be spent on the system itself, its processes and employees, rather than on the poor people it is meant to serve – unless the employees are willing to work for nothing. This marks the fundamental difference between old philanthropy and modern state-systems. Old philanthropical works were done by those who did not need to be compensated for their time and effort – women who were dependant on reliable husbands and the very wealthy – these people did not take anything from the work.

 

Supremacy

The supremacy of a nation’s people should be distinguished from the supremacy of its legislature. The former may be expressed by the latter, but there is no obligation to suppose that a legislature is the only means of expressing the people’s sovereignty.

A group is made up of individuals; indeed, there can be no group without individuals to populate it. If we subscribe to the basic principle that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”, then we must hold these rights to be supreme. If they are qualified in the sense that certain rights may be withdrawn under certain circumstances, we must define what those circumstances are or else such action will be arbitrary and inimical to stability.

For example, it is relatively uncontroversial that a convicted felon forfeits his right to liberty, subject to the term of his incarceration. However, this example only partially answers the question. Beyond this, one might ask:

* What kinds of action should be classified as crimes?
* What kinds of crime should be punished with incarceration?
* What other justifications might there be for removing or limiting the rights of citizens (e.g. war)?

The answers to these complex questions lie beyond the scope of this post, but they remain important questions, and they reveal the potential conflict between the rights of citizens and the power of the state. If, as a general rule, the rights of citizens are to take priority over the will and power of the legislature, then it becomes evident that a discussion of supremacy must begin by asking the foundational question, “Whose supremacy?”

I have read at various times articles on Brexiters saying that they had voted for British supremacy but were opposed to the House of Commons voting on whether to trigger Article 50 and voting to keep Britain within the customs union. The implication of such pieces is that Brexiters are guilty of hypocrisy, of entertaining a contradiction.

However, this is not necessarily so. Returning to the question of whose supremacy is at stake, many Brexiters would argue that they were voting for the supremacy of the British people, not the supremacy of Parliament. The two
are not identical, and the former does not entail the latter. Many Brexiters, in voting to leave the European Union were not necessarily saying that they wanted all powers returned to Parliament. Rather, they were arguing that exiting the European Union was a necessary precondition to restoring supremacy to the British people, but that this task would not be completed until the power of the British executive, judiciary, and legislature had been limited also. In essence, what many Brexiters wish for is the adoption of a constitutional democracy as the US possesses, rather than a return to a system in which Parliament is free to make laws in any form on any matter it wishes.

Indeed, in the infamous Jackson case, which, I believe, involved fox-hunting. Lord Steyn suggested that the courts should not enforce laws that strike at the fundamental principles of liberty and the rule of law. He argued that Parliament derives its authority from the people, representing them. Parliament, therefore, has a duty not to infringe those rights that the people could never consent to having infringed. Where a Parliament does so, it ceases to represent the people by whom and for whom it was created, forfeiting its legitimacy and rendering Acts passed pursuant to illegitimate aims invalid.

We must serious ask ourselves as a nation, in light of continuing developments regarding Brexit, freedom of speech, personal property, and the right to life, at what point it becomes necessary to resist incursions by Parliament against the people’s supremacy. I do not suggest that we have reached that point, but I submit that, if we believe in the principles found in the American Declaration of Independence, we must concede that such a point exists.

Rest in peace, Alfie Evans

Alfie Evans has sadly passed on. Amidst all the ethical, religious, and political wrangling that has been going on regarding this poor boy’s life, we must take a moment to remember that though there is evil in the world, God remains. Alfie is now in God’s loving arms, where there is no pain, where there are no tears, only joy and everlasting life.

On behalf of the community at AATW, I extend our condolences to Alfie’s family, and pray that God will comfort them at this time. As the perfect Father, who beheld the suffering of His Son, Jesus Christ, and has been witness to all of mankind’s sufferings, He knows our sorrow. But He also extends hope that death will not be a final separation: Jesus died in order to defeat death and break its hold on all of us. For those who put their faith in Jesus, death is not the end, but a doorway to eternal life. In Jesus, all loved ones will be together for eternity, and our life here on earth, in this valley of tears, is but a blink in comparison with that.

In the here and now, there are lessons to learn, however. Alfie and his parents fought bravely for his life, because they valued the gift of life, however short, that God has bestowed on us all. For those who are not tragically impaired, that life involves the gift of free will, a gift of choices. Alfie’s parents put themselves through much suffering because they valued life and chose to fight on life’s behalf. For that, we honour them and remind them that God has seen their labours.

Nothing of value comes easily: it has to be won with toil and perseverance. Though we can take nothing with us when we finally depart this life, we leave much behind, gifts for those who come after. The world we live in today is the product of our ancestors’ work. It was they who first built the railways, first developed vaccines, first celebrated birthdays, first composed funeral dirges. They valued life, and fought in the dust and grime to preserve it, extend it, and give it purpose and meaning. We should too.

Where are you going, Britain?

Today I would like to share a couple of videos with you and a few of my thoughts.

 

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/04/26/sen-ted-cruz-makes-plea-for-alfie-evans-warns-against-socialized-medicine/

How did we come to this place? It lies beyond the scope of this post to perform a complete in-depth analysis, but I would like to offer a couple of factors for consideration.

Inertia

Support for Britain remaining in the customs union comes from a variety of quarters, but a significant source is the twenty to thirty-somethings, amongst whom there is widespread favour towards Momentum. People in this age-bracket have never known an independent Britain: they grew up in a Britain that was part of the European Union. It is almost a truism that people fear the unknown; for this age group, striking out on our own to abolish tariffs or form new trade agreements represents a frightening unknown. It is understandable that they might fear Britain will never recover economically from such a step.

The debate, however, needs to be placed in a wider context. “Britain will perform badly outside of a customs union” is a synthetic proposition. In other words, it is not analytic, it is not true by definition. The fact is, Britain’s performance is contingent on a whole host of factors, not simply membership of the customs union. We can make projections based on past performance, but a true understanding of rationalism and empiricism should tell us that the past cannot give us knowledge about the future. In fact, some sources of data suggest that Britain currently trades more with countries outside the customs union than with those inside. If this is true, then the reasoning of the customs union supporters should tell them to abandon their position. But fear and inertia are powerful motivators.

WWII

In the current hysteria and assault on freedom of speech, one factor in particular seems to be driving the debate – fear of being likened to Hitler and the fascists. At the moment, we see the Labour party mired in accusations of anti-Semitism, while the infamous YouTuber, Count Dankula, has been fined for posting a video showing his dog giving a Nazi salute. Count Dankula is not a Nazi, however: he is not promoting fascist ideology. Nor is he seeking to deny the Holocaust or to make light of the suffering of Jews. On the contrary, he is making an argument that we should condemn fascism, that it is worthy of being held in derision. Those who campaign against him seem to fear that even talking about fascism in more than hushed tones will invoke a fascist spirit that will rise up to destroy us all. Such behaviour seems more like the wizards frightened of saying “Voldemort” than like the bravery of civilians and soldiers who resisted Nazism in the 30s and 40s.

Again, public debate needs to think about the broader context and real depth in the arguments. Which groups today are really behaving like Hitler and the SS? Cynical YouTubers or the likes of Hamas, ISIS, and Hezbollah? What is the real face of anti-Semitism today? Which groups are really advocating for totalitarian rule and suppression of free thinking and free speech?

Everything comes at a cost

Lastly, I submit for your consideration von Mises doctrines of praxeology. Humans are defined by action: deeds committed for a purpose. If there is no purpose, it is not properly the subject of praxeological analysis. All action comes at a cost: time, energy, and other resources (which are really just complex combinations thereof). Action involves choice: being limited by time and space, for a human to do one thing means choosing not to do another. Everything comes at a cost. When we choose to do something, we do so because of our value system (which can change over time).

There are many things as a nation we should be doing right now. For some people, they do not want to do them, because they do not value them ab initio. For others, it is because they are unwilling to pay the cost of such policies. But here is the problem: it is often the case that the longer one puts off making hard decisions of the kind before the UK right now, the harder the choice will be in the end. It will take pressure to make us overcome the inertia and fear that holds us back. But God can use hardship to bring about glorious results, and the Cross is His supreme example.

 

De dignitate vitae humanae

Parallel to the struggle surrounding poor Alfie, a few days ago Ealing Council imposed a buffer zone, preventing anti-abortion (and pro-choice) campaigners from standing within 100 feet of an abortion clinic in Ealing.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43864465

Liberal reports emphasise the discomfort caused to women who patronise this establishment. They ought to consider the broader context of this discomfort. Alleging that women should not have to experience this discomfort presupposes that women who use this clinic are doing nothing wrong. Authors of this pieces in this vein arguably should be upfront with their presuppositions.

I will state now that I oppose abortion. It was, until relatively recently, the standard view of most populations that people should feel bad about doing something wrong. If abortion is wrong, then women should feel bad about committing abortion. If a council bans protestors from standing within 100 feet of an abortion establishment on the grounds that it will make patrons feel discomfort, that council is committed to the position that abortion is acceptable. If that is what the councillors feel, they should be open about it and submit themselves to public debate on the matter.

This is the least they should do, and here is why: the gravity of the implications of the opposing side’s positions is great. If, as I maintain, abortion is the destruction of a human for personal reasons, and such destruction is categorically wrong, then it should be opposed. Abortion is particularly heinous because a child is as innocent as a human being can be: therefore an offence against a child is greater than an offence against a sin-riddled adult.

It will be no defence for a council to claim that metaphysics lie beyond its remit or that the state permits abortion. A council is made up of councillors, human beings who, by virtue of being human beings, have free will, which in turn imposes upon them moral obligations. A council, even if neither law nor equity say so, stands in a fiduciary relationship to the citizens under its aegis. The rate-payer entrusts money to the council (and money is a proxy for the time and labour of the individual, which are his personal property) on the understanding that the council is to use it for his best interest. The council is to act in a position of loyalty to the rate-payer, bound not to take advantage of opportunities that belong to the rate-payer and not willingly to expose the rate-payer to things that are harmful to him.

Suppose councillors protest that they must not think on metaphysical matters. They are responsible for creating bye-laws and upholding the laws of the land in their co-operation with the police. Law presupposes metaphysical commitments: we cannot engage with law without metaphysics. To the extent that a council is involved with law, it is involved with metaphysics. They have no defence unless they can show that a particular branch of metaphysics is beyond their remit. As things stand under English law, the health and safety of people in the council’s area is within the council’s remit (consider, for example, sanitation).

Blindly observing the law is not a defence either, because it does not entail that one cannot campaign to change the law. Councils and Parliaments have the power to change statute and do exercise this power: they repeal, amend, and expand legislation. All of these actions rely on the concept of change and presuppose that a body may legitimately change its opinion on matters as new arguments and data are adduced. The council is not obligated by law to impose this buffer zone: it could have chosen not to. The council, were it so inclined, could have commissioned a report on abortion and submitted this to Parliament for consideration.

As things continue in this vein I find myself aggrieved that so much of society seems to have abandoned the principles of individual human dignity and rights. Britain was once great and a champion of these things, not so now.

A coming storm

It is ten years since the financial crisis of 2008 and, like many others in the conservative blogosphere, I find myself wondering if we have learnt any lessons from it. Given that the nations of the world have not re-instated the gold standard, ended the rule of the central banks, collapsed the Euro, or established 100%-reserve banking for deposit accounts, I am very much afraid that it is only a matter of time before another crisis hits. There are several concerning factors that lead me to this conclusion.

Firstly, there is the simple fact that some prominent figures, with individual reasoning of their own, believe that another crisis is coming.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5614949/Bill-Gates-warns-financial-crisis-coming-like-2008-Great-Recession.html

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/10/qa-is-another-financial-crisis-on-the-way/

http://uk.businessinsider.com/bank-of-england-governor-mervyn-king-another-crisis-is-certain-2016-2

Such figures do not usually make these statements lightly: their arguments and evidence ought to be considered.

Secondly, there is the argument from sustainable growth. If sustainable growth is possible only on the basis of savings, and not on the basis of unsupported credit, then an expansion of unsupported credit should be a cause of concern. As described in the post on the two primary types of banking, it is possible, though not ethical, to use deposit funds to support credit arrangements. When banks do this, they effectively create credit out of nothing, because the deposit funds cannot simultaneously be available for withdrawal by the depositor and be under the use of a third party borrower. When all of the depositors come at once to withdraw their funds, only to find that these funds have already been given to borrowers who have not yet repaid them, the bank collapses. When this happens across multiple banks at the same time, the banking sector as a whole is badly affected. When a country is heavily reliant on the banking sector to provide jobs and credit and handle transactions, the collapse of several banks becomes problematic for the country as a whole.

 

Thirdly, there is the problem of peak oil, which could be exacerbated by wars in the Middle East (e.g. an Iranian invasion of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia). If we have passed the point of peak oil, allowing that demand stays the same (it, could of course, go up), the price of oil will increase dramatically. This will be worsened by increased costs involved in extracting harder to reach deposits. Oil is a crucial commodity for the world economy: although alternatives are being developed and slowly relied upon, we have not yet reached the point where we can cast oil aside. The period in which we find ourselves at the moment makes us vulnerable: a prolonged crisis similar to that of the 1970s would require individuals, businesses, and governments to change their behaviour.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-future-of-oil-supply-and-demand-2016-9

View story at Medium.com

Finally, there is the overall trend in gold prices. Following the 2008 crisis, the price of gold went up markedly. People buy gold in crises because it holds its value well. They do this with several thoughts in mind. There is the hope that they will be able to use some of the stockpile to buy commodities and other resources in the event of a currency collapse. The rest is retained in order to open new bank accounts in the event of a bank collapse and/or to obtain new currency at a time when a stable national currency is reintroduced. Fearing a number of possible scenarios, a number of people invested in gold following the crisis, and it reached its peak in 2011. Since then, in the thought that we are gradually recovering, the price has come down – but it has not returned to 2008 levels. It may yet go down if we are genuinely on the road to recovery, but the fact that it has not suggests there are still lingering fears in the market. These are fuelled by the factors above and, in Europe, concerns that the root causes of the Euro crisis have not really been fixed. If there is a sustained upward trend in gold prices, that could be a bad sign.

https://www.gold.co.uk/gold-price/10year/ounces/USD/

This post is not meant to depress, and I stress that I am not a detailed prognosticator. I do not KNOW that a crash is coming, much less when and on what particular trigger, but I do honestly believe that one is not far off. Nevertheless, these factors should make us all think long and hard about the precarious state of Western economies and what we really value: the value that many of us place on liberty will make us willing to experience short-term hardship for the sake of preserving it. In my own case, I did not vote for Brexit in the belief that we would immediately become prosperous as a result of it – far from it. But I hoped that we might gain the liberty we needed to put ourselves back on a firm footing. Only time will tell if this or successive governments in the UK learn the lessons of the past.