Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State. 'Illigitum non carborundum'.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Voluntary Guide to Dog Ownership for the Clueless: Animal Welfare and the Libertarian State.

… and in which I attack New Zealand’s hunting culture, and remarkably, this once, thank the Exclusive Brethren.

The subject of animal rights and classical liberalism, for me, has always been an interesting one, given, if I could ever be radicalised in favour of a group of complete misfits, it would be those anti-classical liberal nutters from PETA. It's the chink in my rationalist armour.

The Libertarian politick is such a wide school, the below post would go down uncontroversially with most Libertarians, however, I do fall foul of Objectivism for the views I’m about to express. The latter is primarily because despite my admissions on this blog that man must live by his mind, (and he must), and the welfare state is currently feeling its way toward the police state, (which it is), in a case of animal cruelty, I’m prepared to chuck out every shred of philosophy and politick, save the animal, then think about the philosophical issues later. But having said that, I don’t see any contradiction here.

There will be no classical liberal (free) society, until such time as individuals understand the need to lead reasoned, responsible lives. I’ll call it a reasoned, civilising humanity, which includes thinking and caring about the welfare ­- used in its innocent, correct sense, as in ‘humane’ - of all sentient beings, animals included. There lies in this the further notion of how someone treats an animal, may well indicate how they treat their fellow humans. And thus if they do not behave responsibly in the humane treatment of animals in their care, then there will be a high likelihood of irresponsibility in other spheres. I’m thinking further of the studied cases of those that have gone on to commit heinous crimes against humans, who started out doing acts of animal cruelty when young. Though I am quick to point out there is another school of people who are not knowingly abusive, though that is the result: they are simply ignorant: people – let’s call them stupid - who somehow have an inability to rationalise the world they live in, to the extent of compartmentalising empathy in a manner that’s almost schizophrenic, and cruel. Via that I could turn this whole post into railing against the insidious manner a welfare state works on the psychology of the participants, but I won’t; there’s something more important I’m trying to figure out in this.

Libertarians are not the ‘rugged (read uncaring) individualists’ that the Left try to simplistically paint them. Indeed, if there is one thing the new classical liberal party that hopefully arises from the Libertarianz conference this weekend, must try to broach, finally, is that it is the classical liberal society that makes possible the ‘decent’ society, not the welfare state which has so cruelly turned ‘nurture’ on end, taking away self-reliance and the clear heads needed to make responsible decisions, financial and otherwise, about the care of children and pets. A libertarian society would not see people ‘dying in the streets’, as detractors inanely proclaim, quite apart from anything else, you’d have to be some sort of monster to leave someone dying in a street, (or an animal in circumstances of neglect), and the only uncharitable societies I can think of where that happened, to humans, are communist and totalitarian ones. Libertarians realise as much as anyone we ‘live in the village’: we just don’t think the village owns us. We want communities based on voluntarism, rather than state coercion from above; the twentieth century showed how cruel that was. One of the favourite quotations I have come across this year - ­ hat-tip to Café Hayek - is the following from pages 77 and 94-95 of David Schmidtz’s contribution to David Schmidtz’s and Robert E. Goodin’s important 1998 book, Social Welfare and Individual Responsibility: For and Against:

If communitarians are right to say Western society has been atomized, then surely one of the causes has been the state’s penchant for making itself (rather than the community) the primary focus of public life….

What explains market society’s unparalleled success in helping people to prosper? The key, I have argued, lies in background institutions, especially property institutions, that lead people to take responsibility for their own welfare….

The welfare state would have made people better off if it had led neighbors to rely on each other and on themselves, but it seems to have done the opposite.

It’s from ourselves, and then the community that a free society will have to arise: by definition it can never arise from the powers wherein statism resides, because it involves the state, itself, falling on its pen (name one instance from history that has happened voluntarily?) To bring this down to micro-level, and the issue of this post, regarding an individual act of animal cruelty, or neglect, the starting point to fix this thus has to be within the community of individuals dealing with one another – in the first instance remonstrating directly with the people concerned. If that does not work, then, it's unlikely the state would provide a remedy, without making things worse, and by this I mean the state in the form of the local council: indeed, looking at the increasing council restrictions from public walkways I am allowed to walk my dog anymore, including for large parts of the year not being allowed to take a dog along almost always deserted Caroline Bay, I have formed the opinion the Timaru Council hates dogs - and I guarantee my wee dog would get more enjoyment from that beach, than most of the adults there. No, even if first attempts break down, then solutions will nearly always remain most effective in the voluntary community; namely, those charitable groups such as we support each year financially, RSPCA and a Canterbury Dog rescue group, because such voluntary charities are where compassion for animals is to be found in the people involved, and success or failure is always about the people involved: in this case, volunteers with a passion to ensure no cruelty is transacted on an animal by the mindless, (see, this is about mind over emoting, after all).

Although something else, also, when considering issues of animal cruelty: New Zealand’s hunting culture. I grew up on a farm, albeit one where my father wouldn’t allow guns - though I suspect that was to do with my family, then, being Exclusive Brethren (and regards that I was sickly fortunate to have an intellectually handicapped sister who the whiskey alcoholics running the Brethren took to be ‘evil’, and thus my direct family were thrown out - mindlessness again, but yay) - plus a father whose most hated farm job, and one which he never stopped hating, was killing sheep for our own table. It was good he never stopped hating that: it defined him as a thinking, compassionate, empathetic human. But this meant I’ve always been around the hunting culture of our rural communities, and though it was never something I thought about overly when growing up, for whatever reason, now, perhaps because I’m spending more and more time living in the Marlborough Sounds, it’s something I seem to be pondering. 

I have to say I’m ‘over’ hunting culture. Completely.

Yes, I know we have to control pests, such as possum, I’m grown up and understand that, but that’s not what hunting culture is about. Nor is it about feeding ourselves anymore: in the twenty first century we farm our meat humanely, and have you ever tried eating wild meat? Wild boar is so tough, it’s hard to get off the bone, and hare is as tough as old rope: farmed meat is much more palatable. But that’s by the by. As far as I can tell, hunting culture is supposedly about, at best, testing oneself against nature, and also, I’ve had the odd hunter ­- and these were odd hunters -­ who have tried to inform me there’s some sort of mystical communing with nature involved (that woo woo Robin Hood set to Enya nonsense; stag heads rising out of the mist, druids, and all that …). I say a pox on both counts.

Here’s what hunting is: hunting is sitting on one hillside with a bazooka and telescopic sight while you bravely try and destroy every completely defenceless, living thing on the hillside across the valley, your only risk the rifle of the mate you’ve taken with you (mindlessness again rears its head). I just don’t buy into the bullshit anymore. If you want what you profess, hunters, take up tramping, or vege gardening, otherwise, arm the wildlife, or go into the bush only armed with a spear, killing at arm’s length: that would be a test, just like in the days hunting was an essential for living; the days of cave men, that civilised men have responsibly walked away from. And I’ve not seen a single pig dog ­- and I’ve seen a lot - whose life wouldn’t be improved by being euthanized.

Considering all of the above, indeed, I reckon I’m only a $7,000 BBQ and my stomach away from an ethical vegetarianism.

Anyway, my public service for this week, and for the mindless who are incapable of thinking these issues through, let me give a guide to dog ownership. Note this is an ‘and’ test, not ‘or’, that is, you must pass every limb, failure on any one counts you out, you should voluntarily choose to never have a dog – it is only via such informed, voluntary decisions that animal cruelty will ultimately be stopped.

The test is simple - (and for this single post I’m breaking my blog’s self-imposed no swearing policy):

The Rules:

If you are currently sitting at home and your dog is by itself outside in a kennel: you are a shit, you shouldn’t own a dog.

If your dog is sitting in its own shit in its kennel: you’re an even bigger shit, in fact, you should be prosecuted or re-educated if that ignorant, with your kids taken off you in the meantime. Go live in your own toilet for a week, make sure it’s a small one like your dog’s kennel, and don’t pull the chain. When you come out green, wonder why your dog, with a sense of smell one hundred times better than your’s, would want to live that way. Plus a dog won't sit in its shit, so you've just halved the size of an already paltry sized kennel. Indubitably you also are struck out on the first criteria above, so well done, you've turned a kennel into a concentration camp for your poor dog.

If your dog has to live outside all its life, never allowed inside as one of your family, you don’t really like dogs, so don’t own one. A dog is a sociable animal.

If when deciding to get a dog, the first breed your mind lands on is buying a fighting, aggressive breed of dog, then you don’t like dogs, so don’t own one.

If you are buying a dog as an accessory for your five year old child, stop, read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and bugger off. The dog doesn’t need you.

If you’re planning on feeding your dog the exact same diet of dry biscuits every day: you can’t really be bothered with a dog; don’t own one.

If you don’t kiss your dog on top of its head, once a day, and give it a stroke whenever passing, or whenever it wants one, you don’t really like dogs, so don’t own one.

… See. Easy, when you just think about things for a little bit.

Finally, in an actual case of harm, which my wife and I are now tackling the owner’s over - this is, finally, one very uncomfortable D-Day - the family is mum and a grown up son and daughter. The Labrador concerned belongs to the son, a hunter: his attitude toward the poor dog is succinctly summed up in his phrase, quote: ‘its just a hunting dog’. Although there’s the problem, for the dog is not that; it lives in a suburban kennel/dog concentration camp, and gets taken hunting, if its lucky, five or six times a year, I imagine, I can’t remember last seeing it go: it has no other dogs for company, and gets no stimulation or affection from any human, at least not that we can see. They don’t appear to have an understanding a dog is a pack/social animal, and to deprive it of all companionship is in itself a real form of cruelty, despite no law saying so, quite apart from everything else they’re doing wrong – the dog sitting in its own faeces rule above comes from this case. Indeed, both the children treat the dog as offhandedly bad, if not worse, than the mother, so it would seem to be learned ignorance. When those children have children, guess what’s going to happen if something doesn’t break the vicious cycle of ignorance here of how animals should be treated … starting to sound like the argument against the welfare state, isn’t it – note these are all hard workers. I would say a welfare state and Antonio Gramsci in our schools, over time, by stopping people thinking (self-reliance), leads to this. The Left who take a cynical view of man would say we need the welfare state precisely because of this, man’s fallen nature; people must be coerced to do the right thing.

Who is right?

Me. Of course. Only voluntarily made decisions and actions stick for the long term.

(Did I say I was thinking about ethical vegetarianism? Jeez, I’m feeling a bit faint. Better go throw a farmed steak on the BBQ).

Dog 'Rescue' - Final Update:

On so many levels I don't understand this, but am very glad about the nature of this update, and it's vindication, at least anecdotally - at D-Day plus two and a half weeks - the above community based, leave the authorities out of it, approach, has merit.

The little dog concerned now spends its night in a clean kennel, all faeces have been removed and the kennel is kept clean with fresh water. It also has bedding, now, in the hutch for comfort. Better, it only spends its nights in the kennel anymore (it used to sometimes spend three days in there), its out all day, and thus far is walked once a day. The family is even mowing my front verge! While I'm glad we tackled it - though there was no choice, a dog must not be left like that - I'm even feeling 'slightly' guilty because I 'pulled no punches' telling them what I thought, and what dog welfare was. So, while I don't believe in miracles, and it will never be what I think as adequate dog care - read my rules above, all dogs should be inside and part of the family - it's been two and a half weeks, the family have been 'big' about it, because they had the choice to really go dog, so I'll take over a peace offering in the form of a couple of nice bottles of wine soon. If I can get things back on track, I can offer to walk the pooch with our own Daisy dog when we're in Geraldine, on the days they can't.

Anyway, would seem to be a good result. 


  1. Excellent post, Mark.

    I can't find anything you've said with which I disagree ... unless you'd like a very, very minor quibble?

    You missed a great conference on the weekend.

  2. Cheers Richard. And I'll get over my people inertia one day, and make it to a conference. I hope a Phoenix arises from this one.

  3. Fabulous post. Well said.

    Yours Sincerely,
    A Barely Reconstructed Socialist (and Veggo)