The triumph of the individual over the hive mind

Lord Monckton, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

Drab, pietistic uniformity is the curse of the collectivist age. Today, with a fearful and unanimously acquiescent docility, the hive mind tediously hums the Party Line, now rebranded “consensus”. Imagination, initiative, inquiry, inspiration, intuition and invention are not merely discouraged but hated. Individuality in any form is not merely loathed but punished.


It is the solecism of modern government imprudently, expensively and too often cruelly to emphasize the collective at the expense of the individual. Yet, as John Stuart Mill wrote,

“The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it. A State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be mere docile instruments in its hands, even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.”

Man is at once an island and a universe, an anchorite and a socialite, a lone wolf and a member of the pack. The strength of the West lies in encouraging what Santayana called the “eccentricities, hobbies and humours” of each, not in hindering or punishing individual achievement in the name of all.

In feudal times, the State was everything. The individual, if noticed at all, was recognized solely by his status in the ordained pecking order.

“God blessed the squire and his relations,
And kept us in our proper stations.”

It was only when free-market contract replaced feudal status that the individual, be he never so humble, acquired the right freely to negotiate with his neighbours and, by so doing, to earn advancement by achievement. Social mobility is a feature not of collectivism but of contract and of the cheerful chaos of the free market that it enables.

British parliament unites in praise of Margaret Thatcher

Julie Hyland

Clegg has the toughest job praising
(Financial Times)

Wednesday’s reconvening of Britain’s parliament to mark the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a gathering of her political offspring.

Baroness Thatcher, who led the Conservative government between 1979 and 1990, died Monday of a stroke, aged 87. Her premiership was the expression in Britain of a right-wing shift in international politics aimed at removing any obstacles on the accumulation of private wealth at the expense of the working class.

In little over a decade under her rule, the social gains made by [ordinary people] in the post-war period were sent into sharp reverse. By the time she left office in 1990, the proportion of wealth controlled by the richest ten percent of the population had doubled. So too had child poverty.

In the following decades, not only has social inequality become more ingrained. The processes she helped set in motion—of rampant and criminal financial speculation—are directly responsible for the global banking crisis of 2008, and the policies of mass austerity being rolled out internationally: more than £150 billion in spending cuts in Britain alone, and counting.

This social misery accounts for the massive security operation being put into place for her funeral next Wednesday, including threats that police may make “pre-emptive arrests” of potential protestors. It is why, even amid the sycophantic coverage of her passing, the media acknowledged Thatcher as a “divisive” figure. What this means is that she was widely despised by working people and remembered with fondness primarily by a much smaller number of the wealthy whom she served so well.

The parliamentary tribute to Thatcher expressed the sentiments of the rich and powerful towards their political mentor. They united to celebrate as a great stateswoman, even a national heroine, the “shopkeeper’s daughter” who “broke the glass ceiling” to become the UK’s first female prime minister.

The Hijacking of Human Rights

Chris Hedges

The appointment of Suzanne Nossel, a former State Department official and longtime government apparatchik, as executive director of PEN American Center is part of a campaign to turn U.S. human rights organizations into propagandists for pre-emptive war and apologists for empire. Nossel’s appointment led me to resign from PEN as well as withdraw from speaking at the PEN World Voices Festival in May. But Nossel is only symptomatic of the widespread hijacking of human rights organizations to demonize those—especially Muslims—branded by the state as the enemy, in order to cloak pre-emptive war and empire with a fictional virtue and to effectively divert attention from our own mounting human rights abuses, including torture, warrantless wiretapping and monitoring, the denial of due process and extrajudicial assassinations.

Nossel, who was deputy assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs under Hillary Clinton in a State Department that was little more than a subsidiary of the Pentagon, is part of the new wave of “humanitarian interventionists,” such as Samantha Power, Michael Ignatieff and Susan Rice, who naively see in the U.S. military a vehicle to create a better world. They know little of the reality of war or the actual inner workings of empire. They harbor a childish belief in the innate goodness and ultimate beneficence of American power. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, the horrendous suffering and violent terror inflicted in the name of their utopian goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, barely register on their moral calculus. This makes them at once oblivious and dangerous. “Innocence is a kind of insanity,” Graham Greene wrote in his novel “The Quiet American,” and those who destroy to build are “impregnably armored by...good intentions and...ignorance.”

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