This is the fifth (and, for the time being, the last) in a series of essays inspired by the aftermath of the Terrorist raid on the United States on 11 September, 2001. The other essays in the series are:
The Price of Liberty;
"War" on "Terrorism";
Combating Terrorists in the World.
It is not possible to wave a magic wand over the entire population of a state and simultaneously transform everybody into a model citizen. Human nature changes only very slowly, and only through voluntary individual effort. But an insight into human motivation can help us to understand one another better and help each of us to modify our personal habits for the betterment of ourselves and society as a whole.
That is why, simultaneously with my own clumsy attempt to describe what I consider to be the best way of eliminating terrorists from British life, I also re-publish five essays written four centuries ago by Sir Francis Bacon in which he admirably describes the failings that are apt to bedevil human relationships and provides practical suggestions for dealing with them. The essays in question are:
Of Seditions and Troubles
Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
The "Love" discussed in the fourth of the above essays is romantic love or sexual attraction. "Love" in the sense in which it is generally used on the Ardue Web site is what Bacon calls "Goodness".
Human psychology has changed hardly at all since Bacon's time, but technology has transformed out of all recognition the conditions in which humans give expression to their psychology. Whereas in 1600, the great majority of interpersonal transactions took place face-to-face in small numbers in a mutually well-understood cultural framework, nowadays we have to co-exist with large numbers of virtually anonymous people from all sorts of sub-cultures and communicate at a distance with many more. Whilst for many of us, our circles of social and business acquaintances may have widened, the number of our intimate and trusted friends has probably diminished. Since these conditions are man-made, we must devise means to cope with them without doing violence to our relatively unchanged psychology.
Globalisation arises directly from the sophistication of electronic communication and the speed of mass transportation by air. It has its benefits in that it makes people everywhere realise that we all live on the surface of the same small planet, and that we must either learn to get on together or, through conflict, risk a global catastrophe which would seriously diminish the quality of all human life on Earth for a very long time. As learning to get on together is clearly the better strategy for mutually beneficial survival, we must put our trust in the power of love rather than that of fear.
St Paul taught us that love is patient and kind. Loving people are not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude; they do not insist on getting their own way regardless of the interests of other people, neither are they irascible or resentful. They take no pleasure in wrongdoing, but rejoice in the truth. And the truth is that every human individual is an earthly manifestation of the Holy Spirit of the One God, endowed by God with intelligence and will. It therefore follows that the loving way to live is by letting mature human adults do whatever they like as long as they stop short of any act that interferes with the liberty of other mature human adults. Love implies self-restraint.
This practical loving philosophy has not yet been fully accepted or endorsed by more than a small minority of the people of the world. In those few nations in which the representatives of such a minority have gained political ascendancy and made the promotion of personal liberty their first priority, material progress has always followed. But material progress is not an end in itself: it is always a consequence of the application of spiritual principles. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Citizens of illiberal countries who are envious of the material wealth of prosperous countries and seek by migration to reap the material benefits without laying the necessary spiritual foundation will not only fail in their objective but may kill the spiritual goose that lays the golden eggs. So perhaps the most pressing danger arising from globalisation is that mass migration of people will cause the freedom-loving minority in liberal countries to be overwhelmed by an inconsiderate, greedy, and oppressive majority. The current insidious trend to "multiculturalism" in those countries in which a truly liberal culture has already taken root should be resisted, not welcomed, if the "dark ages" are not to come again.
A further relevant consideration is that globalisation makes old-fashioned military defence ineffective against terrorists who are already dispersed among the native population. War can no longer be contained within the confines of a "battlefield". The unpleasantness of war cannot be concealed from anyone who has access to a television set or a newspaper: and so resort to physical fighting with modern weapons is bound to antagonise the very people on whose goodwill the settlement of any dispute must ultimately depend. Even if the current "war" in Afghanistan should turn out to be so "successful" that the remnants of the native population voted unanimously to make their country one of the United States of America, it still would not eliminate fear, and therefore terrorists, from the world. This implies that we can no longer rely solely on the bravery of members of the military and security services to save us from the consequences of our irresponsible actions. Those of us who value personal freedom above all else must be ready to defend it where it exists and endeavour to extend it wherever possible. This calls for personal courage in opposing anti-liberal acts wherever they arise, particularly when they are perpetrated by our own governments and their agents.
We cannot effectively fight for liberty as long as we try to do it from behind a cloak of anonymity. The lives of loving freedom fighters must be open books. If and when we act in public, we must be prepared to have our private lives exposed to public scrutiny. If we are honest with ourselves, other people will generously overlook our little peccadilloes. This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. Courage, like love, is a spiritual quality. The two virtues go together.
I have the good fortune to be a loyal subject of Queen Elizabeth II living in a country where civil liberties, though in sad decline, are still the envy of the citizens of many other countries. The "land of one's birth" has always inspired a feeling of "attachment" in the hearts of most people, and they naturally want to belong to a country they can be proud of in the best possible sense. It seems to me that the best possible cause for national pride is liberty for individuals to live responsible, caring, self-determining lives without coercion by their fellows. So we should strive by all humanitarian means to produce a country in which it is easy for every individual to form and maintain the intention to be friendly towards every other individual whom he or she encounters in the ordinary course.
Looking back, I feel I had more reason to be proud of the Ardue in which I grew up than of the High Wycombe in which I am now spending my declining years. People in Ardue had very little money: but we were not poor, because we drew most of our living directly from land and sea, and we were kind to each other. High Wycombe is supposed to be "prosperous" in financial terms: yet the people are poor because they are afraid of each other and have no control over the production of their own food. So although the Internet enables me to "preach" to the world, it is here in High Wycombe that I must practise what I preach, endeavour to behave in a friendly manner to everyone I meet, and try to be helpful to anyone who asks me for actual help as opposed to merely soliciting money. If everyone behaved in this very simple way, it would be a useful first step towards establishing a feeling of community, and I believe this should be the principal objective of primary education irrespective of race or religion.
It is, of course, easy to be friendly towards people who give no cause for annoyance or distrust. We naturally dislike habitually noisy neighbours and people who otherwise draw attention to themselves by behaving inconsiderately. For some, this spills over to those who are "just different". Britain is an "old" country in the sense that it has a long unbroken tradition of self-government and freedom from foreign invasion, and its customs and traditions have contributed to a distinctly "British" way of life that, for all its local variations, is deeply embedded in the British psyche. As young adults who have yet to acquire a sense of personal responsibility and who lack skill in the exercise of self-control are apt to fasten on any superficial difference as an excuse for a fight, obvious non-Britishness is asking for trouble. That is why we are hypersensitive to what we perceive as dilution of our culture by the too-rapid influx of too many immigrants, and why our reputation for tolerance is now in danger of being stretched beyond its elastic limit. We are beginning to realise that if our way of life is to be preserved, tolerance must be based on objective criteria and not on mere sentimentality.
The experience of colonial administration among the better-educated classes was probably helpful in minimising the cultural problems attendant on the influx of large numbers of immigrants during the fifties and sixties. Most came from countries which are now part of the British Commonwealth and were, on arrival, already fluent in English. The great majority either professed or sympathised with the Christian religion which, despite sectarian rivalries, has had a profoundly unifying and civilising influence on the British population for over a thousand years. And so they had little difficulty in adapting to native British customs once they got used to the climate, and their children and grand-children are now seamlessly integrated into British life.
The present invasion by would-be immigrants presents a different problem. Many of them speak little or no English. Many of them come from countries where civil liberties are not respected, and are liable to behave accordingly. Inconsiderate behaviour is naturally resented by people whose ancestors fought and died to gain and preserve the liberties we enjoy; and as we emphatically do not want to have to fight for them all over again, we must fight to preserve and extend them.
All would-be immigrants to any country, regardless of colour, would do well to observe the old maxim, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". This is particularly important in Britain, which was last successfully invaded nearly a thousand years ago and whose laws and customs, nourished by Christianity, are deeply entrenched. It may seem petty to discriminate against individuals who wear "outlandish" clothes: but such trivia draw attention to difference, and thus result in involuntary discrimination. This can easily become resentment when it leads to what is perceived to be "special" treatment by the authorities such as the enactment of legislation forbidding "racial" discrimination, the production of administrative literature in languages other than English, and compulsory allocation of quotas of immigrants to localities where the local people don't want them.
Apparent "positive" discrimination in favour of immigrants, allied to increased competition for jobs, homes, and the "state benefits" paid for over many years by compulsory deductions from the pay-packets of the working population, is why we, the people, are now finding it difficult to assimilate the current influx of far more "refugees" than can comfortably be accommodated in a country which, thanks to maladroit administration over several decades, is currently capable of feeding only half the existing population. Resentment among the "native" British is being inflamed to such an extent that in some instances, hostility is now being directed even at second and third generation descendants of well-established and well-integrated former immigrant families. At a time when the Irish "Peace Process" staggers from crisis to crisis and we are reeling under the impact of BSE, Foot and Mouth Disease, political attacks on long-established country pursuits, the imposition of mischievous EU regulations, and the rapid expansion of an alien, illiberal, aggressively proselytising religion, it is no wonder that the United Kingdom is a hotbed for all sorts of terrorists. It would make sense for us now to voluntarily put our country in semi-quarantine for a period while we sort ourselves out and consider how we may best eliminate disruptive influences of all kinds.
A "terrorist" is anyone who seeks to gain his own ends by making other people afraid. A loving strategy for combating terrorists would aim to deprive them of motives, manpower, materials, and money.
These two must be taken together, because no normal person can be persuaded to participate in a violently terrorist act without having been persuaded by some sort of argument, however spurious, that some benefit will accrue to offset the risk of detection and punishment. A common motivation is envy, upon which much light was cast four centuries ago by Sir Francis Bacon, who asserted that only love can compete with envy as a motive for human action. And love is essentially a matter of respecting the Divine Spirit that animates every human person, regardless of race, religion, or country of origin.
No doubt the majority of actual and potential exploiters of fear are home-grown: but it would be foolish to overlook the probability that some such may also be included among the "refugees" and "economic migrants" for whom the United Kingdom seems to be such a magnet. If they have made themselves unacceptable in their own countries, it is a prima facie reason why they should not be made welcome in ours. In the current emergency, there is a strong moral case for refusing entry to anyone who is unable to present a passport with a visa issued by the duly authorised representative of HM Government in the country of origin. And there is an equally strong case for summarily deporting all those immigrants identified as "illegal" to their countries of origin regardless of what may happen to them when they get there. The first duty of any national government is the defence of its own citizens and culture. It is emphatically not to provide safety valves to relieve domestic pressure from opponents of illiberal regimes in other countries, and thus help to perpetuate illiberality. Seen in this light, the concept of "Human Rights" is revealed as sentimental nonsense, and all legislation inspired by it should immediately be repealed.
The only effective defence against terrorists already present is to develop a climate of mutual tolerance, trust, and confidence among all the Queen's loyal subjects. In order to accomplish this, we responsible members of the population must voluntarily mobilise ourselves and accept responsibility for maintaining vigilance and good order in our own neighbourhoods if only because we have lost confidence in the competence, and even the integrity, of party political government and its agents to do so on our behalf. The BBC Radio series, "Changing Places", shows that by combining together and pooling their own resources, local people have been able to transform their neighbourhoods without much help from government. It would be a fine thing if this culture of self-sufficiency could be restored to all parts of the Kingdom.
In Combating Terrorists in the World, I argued that for true democracy (as opposed to party political dictatorship) to be established, authority must flow from the many to the few rather than the other way round. The two objectives of developing mutual trust and establishing democracy can be approached by the same route: the formation of small groups of, say, ten households, which appoint a trustworthy leader from among themselves to represent them in all forms of local political action. Every ten, or so, such groups, would constitute a local Association, and so on up the tree. In many parts of the UK, the Neighbourhood Watch Associations (NWAs) already in existence could form the nucleus of such a system, bringing together local residents of all creeds and ethnic backgrounds and, building on a common sense of "belonging", develop mutual confidence and a culture of mutual care.
For further continuation from the 'many' to the 'few' end of the administrative hierarchy, the NWAs could mesh with something like the existing Parish, District, and County Councils, each of which would be empowered from "below" rather than dictated to from above. There would be no place for "devolved" tiers of government for Scotland, Wales or the English Regions, which only introduce artificial boundaries within the mainland of Great Britain. There might still, however, be a case for some offshore islands to become self-governing should their inhabitants desire such an outcome. National unity would be preserved under the Monarch, who would continue to save us from divisive elections fought on partisan grounds.
This revolutionary proposal could not be expected to be implemented without opposition from the upholders of the status quo, notably the political parties and the entrenched "professions": but it could be "lovingly" forced upon them by adopting a strategy of civil disobedience (as practised so successfully by the followers of Mahatma Gandhi) against laws, rules, regulations, taxation, and insensitive enforcement which rub local people up the wrong way. Last year's "petrol revolt" demonstrated how current communication systems enable groups all over the country to co-ordinate their efforts much more effectively than was possible in Gandhi's time.
Such a fundamental re-orientation would be a most effective antidote to terrorism, because it would leave terrorists with nowhere to hide. By sharing information with each other and using media such as the Internet to pool filtered information through chains of local representatives, all sorts of criminals from young tearaways to members of terrorist gangs could be informally identified, watched, and deterred from clandestine operations by nothing more restrictive than publicity.
Every terrorist and every gangster is both a criminal and a human individual. All human individuals begin as children, and most terrorists are young men and women who have not yet developed a proper sense of personal responsibility. The best time to identify the potential criminal and save him or her from a life of crime is as school bully, juvenile offender, or teenage tearaway. Here in the UK, our presumably well-meaning legislators have deprived the ordinary citizen of any opportunity to help "save" young offenders because the law makes them anonymous. The country is therefore over-run with young thugs who with relative impunity rob old ladies, burgle houses, vandalise property, and indulge in all sorts of destructive mischief. If we knew who they were, we could keep an eye on those of them who live in our neighbourhoods and give them some incentives to change their ways. But the news media are not allowed to publish the names or addresses of juveniles who appear before the local magistrates, and so we fail to enlist the aid of personal and parental shame as a deterrent to repeated criminality. Periods of detention in our over-crowded prisons merely expose young offenders to the evil influence of others worse than themselves who may turn them into professional criminals and supply ready-made recruits for the Bin Ladens of the world.
There is nothing to be said for depriving youths of their liberty, because it makes it impossible for them to learn to become personally responsible. But there is everything to be said for depriving them of the anonymity which encourages their antisocial behaviour. Sentencing young law-breakers to an hour or two exposed to ridicule in their home neighbourhoods would do much to commence their rehabilitation at little or no expense to the tax-payer. It would also enable true neighbours to take an interest in them and persuade them that love is stronger than fear. In any case, it would make it more difficult for offenders to remain undetected in the commission of further crimes. By shaming offenders in the presence of their assembled peers, restoration of formal corporal punishment in schools would discourage bullying and deter physical assaults on teachers.
Punishment should always be applied for the purpose of correction and the promotion of a sense of personal responsibility, not for vengeance. Therefore it should wherever possible be cheap to implement, and be applied speedily so that the offender still remembers what it's for. Imprisonment, which degrades the human spirit and takes offenders out of the public eye, should be abandoned as a punishment for all but the most incorrigible and violent criminals. The long-term "protection" of society is better served by giving offenders a short sharp lesson followed by help to reform rather than by locking them up in what is all-too-often a sadistic school for scoundrels safe from public scrutiny. Therefore other high-profile sanctions, such as a few hours in the stocks or publicly administered corporal punishment, should be reintroduced as optional alternatives to fines or spells of compulsory community service.
Thus informally involving the local population in the detection and subsequent punishment of crime would greatly help to deprive all kinds of criminal organisations of their most important resource manpower.
I have bracketed those two together because "you can't have one without the other".
It is easier to regulate the distribution of material, which has no will of its own, than to restrict the activities of individual persons who should in any case be free to look after themselves if they are to develop a sense of personal responsibility. The materials of most concern to criminals are weapons, explosives, and drugs. The sale of weapons and explosives to those who can establish a practical need for them can be controlled by a rational system of licensing and certification of ownership.
Drugs are in a different category: they have little potential as offensive weapons; and they harm none but voluntary consumers who should be free to indulge in them and learn at first hand from the natural consequences of over-indulgence. But as long as their use remains unlawful, demand for drugs artificially inflates them into a highly-concentrated form of currency.
It is claimed that terrorists are financed largely on profits from the drug trade. Criminal gangs have long been known to obtain their funds from "protection" rackets (which is really just another form of terrorism) and from prostitution, another trade that many ordinary people engage in without feeling guilty. None of these would be lucrative in a society characterised by mutual care and concern and in which individuals could do whatever they wanted as long as they didn't harm anyone else. Terrorism and gangsterism are not political problems, and neither draconian laws nor aggressive policing offers any solution. They are primarily psychological problems which can be effectively resisted only by engaging the voluntary support of all freedom-loving responsible citizens.
The abject failure of the expensive "war" that has been waged on drug-trafficking for the last several decades is due to the fact that the great majority of ordinary people don't care about it. Measures aimed at the prevention of "money-laundering" (whatever that means) are both illiberal and stupid. Money is completely amoral and gets dirty only in the minds of illiberal people.
The customers from whom the drug barons obtain their supposedly "dirty" money are ordinary people or the adolescent sons and daughters of ordinary people, who have no respect for an arbitrary law which seeks to limit their ability to be responsible for their own actions. They spend their hard-earned clean money on whatever takes their fancy. The ordinary citizen naturally categorises vandalising a bus-shelter or stealing a handbag as a crime, because such acts are harmful to society in general. This does not apply to swallowing an ecstasy tablet or consorting with a prostitute. Free agents accept total responsibility for any adverse natural consequences of their voluntary actions, and legislative attempts to "protect" them from these consequences are fundamentally irresponsible. Nature's punishments for substance abuse are quite sufficient by themselves without the arbitrary addition of a criminal record by a hypocritical legislature.
We should by now have learned the lesson of American Prohibition in the twenties and thirties: that bad laws make easy pickings for criminals. It is bad law that enables drug pushers to earn a lucrative living from hanging around outside school gates. And it is bad law that makes addicts resort to burglary to finance a habit that they might be able to control if they could make their weakness known without automatically being branded as criminals.
The best way of depriving organised gangs of funds is therefore to legalise prostitution and make all currently prohibited substances available for sale to adults by licensed traders just like alcohol and tobacco. This would not only restore some lost liberty to the subject. It would at a stroke pull the financial rug from under the professional terrorists and racketeers. It could make a welcome contribution to local and national treasuries through some form of excise duty. And it would deprive police posing as guardians of public morals of an excuse to forcefully poke their unwelcome noses into private dwellings. We expect the police to provide effective physical protection to homes and businesses, not break into them.
Responsible people are those who can be trusted to look after themselves, each other, and the neighbourhoods in which they live. They should be enabled and encouraged to do just that, unfettered by the agents of remote, insensitive, ill-informed, hypocritical, and doctrinaire governments.
By declaring psychological "war" on all forms of local terrorism and training ourselves for the task on the lines advocated by Sir Francis Bacon, there is a fair chance that, in a few decades, we might make the United Kingdom into a truly "free" and "democratic" country.
In the meantime, we must defend what liberty we already have against enforced cultural change, no matter whether it arises from mass immigration, insensitive intrusion by the bureaucrats of the European Union, or sentimental dictatorship from the European Court of Human Rights. Men and women are born free which implies that they remain free to defend their freedom if they have the will to do so.