The Detached State

Dick Puddlecote

The Detached State Tell us something we didn’t know, Express.

Eighty per cent of Britons ‘hate the meddling nanny state’

BRITONS hate the nanny state and think the Government should stop meddling in people’s lifestyle choices, says a survey.

Researchers found significant opposition to stealth “sin taxes” on products such as tobacco, alcohol or sugary drinks.

Instead more than 80 per cent of those questioned, excluding ‘don’t knows’, believe it should be down to individuals to make their own lifestyle choices without official interference from Government.

There’s life in the British public yet.

Sadly, though, there is nothing but entrenched denial in the ranks of the establishment.

Speaking at his party’s Spring Conference, Mr Pickles said: “We have stood up for (protecting) hard-working people from stealth taxes and nanny state interference.

“Come the general election, I’ll be very happy to defend the record of Conservatives in Government against all-comers.”

He means the Conservatives in government who installed the tobacco display ban despite being staunchly against it in opposition? Because, you see, they were very clear what was going to happen if they were elected in 2010.

Shadow Health Minister Mike Penning said the Conservatives would seek to repeal Labour’s move if they win the election.

And they certainly can’t blame their coalition partners on this one … unless to say that the Lib Dems are bigger liars than the Tories.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said it was “the nanny state going too far.”

Both parties simply waved it through.

As for the “record of Conservatives in government”, they boast the Chancellor who increased tobacco duty by 50p per pack in 2011, 37p per pack in 2012, then 26p in 2013 and 28p earlier this year. They have since brought in a ban on smoking in cars (which will be all cars including e-cigs at some point), and laid legislation in front of the EU for pointless plain packaging.

This is just on tobacco. We could list this government’s incessant nagging about alcohol, unapproved foods, sugar, fizzy drinks etc too, but what’s the point? They don’t listen to us.

Instead, their austerity ‘cuts’ have actually increased the wasteful shovelling of our taxes to the people they do listen to. State-funded quangos and fake charities which holler for more and more intrusive laws against our free choices are now better funded than they were in 2010 – in fact, this government proudly created Public Health England and its £500 million per annum budget – and they have even delved into freely chosen aspects of our sex lives.

This is protecting us from nanny state interference, is it? And they wonder why we increasingly despise every man jack of them. Sheesh.


  1. It is good that most people oppose the “liberal” (not really liberal at all) efforts to make people happy by the power of the state.

    From Francis Bacon and his “The New Atlantis”, to Jeremy Bentham with his 13 Departments of State, to the regulating-what-people-may-sell-is-a-different-sort-of-thing-from-regulating-what-they-can-buy of the Mills (which I will not even attempt to explain, because it is senseless), to the “libertarian paternalism” of Cass Sunstein of “Nudge” – this stuff makes no sense, even in its own terms.

    It is good that the common sense and experience of most people revolts against it. Now if only this opposition could be led to victory……….

  2. Feminism has much to do with it; it is the ideology of the society matrons, and the society matrons are the morally dominant caste in the Anglosphere, and it’s all bound up together, but it’s not just feminism (and I speak as a known stalwart anti-feminist).

    It’s all in general about a society whose defined characteristic is a process of “moral reform”; the particular morals change with time. In the past hundred years, for instance, oscillating from the furious denunciation of homosexuals to their elevation onto a moral pedestal.

    But the idea that a minority are reforming the majority, for our own good, is central to our society and its governing State. This is why I believe a moral analysis must be a primary tool for Libertarians and our fellow travellers, since moral conviction is what drives our oppressors.

  3. Yes Ian – for example what I meant by “makes no sense, even in its own terms” was that if one’s objective is the happiness of most people (which is the utilitarian objective) then it does not make sense to force people to do things, or use force and fear to prevent them doing other things (that are not aggressions against others – not “harms”, actual aggressions, violations), because most people do not like being ordered about.

    Take the example of Bentham’s transparent prison, where he wanted to send even people (many people actually) who had committed no crime.

    Bentham convinced himself that forcing people to work would make them happy – as work was a positive utility (not a disutility).

    This is just not true – if it false. If you have to use force and fear to get someone to do something, they are not enjoying it.

    I do not happen to share the philosophy (I do not define right and wrong simply in terms of pleasure and pain), but if I put myself in their place (philosophically), I still do not see how they came to the conclusions they did – and do.

    It does not make sense – “in its own terms”. It is like Cass Sunstein’s “Libertarian Paternalism” – it is just a mess.

    It is like Colbert (the Chief Minister to Louis XIV – not the unfunny American “comedian”) insisting that all merchants sit government examinations – as if the government knew their business better than they did (the “logic” of France under the “Sun King” resembled that of a den of lunatics) or Sir William Petty trying to mathematically plan an economy (as if people were just functions of equations).

    It is all potty. Statism is potty.

    And lunacy does not lead to happiness.

  4. Ian,

    “…I believe a moral analysis must be a primary tool for Libertarians and our fellow travellers, since moral conviction is what drives our oppressors.”

    Absolutely. Well said.


    A very good point. Why didn’t I think of that!

  5. This is why I think it’s worth arguing about the basis of morality (and no, I’m not trying to start another argument, ha). You see, I believe there is this belief that our enemy are “amoralists”. My perception of them is that they are instead extreme moralists, but their moral code is- from our own position- dysfunctional and even immoral, but they are not amoral. They believe that they are indeed a moral “elect” with not only the capacity, but the right and obligation, to remould everyone else’s morals to suit their own, like we and society are clay to be remade in their hands. So part of that is understanding why they are how they are and why they believe what they believe.

  6. Well Francis Bacon and Sir William Petty and so on claimed to be value free social scientists (although Petty was not a wonderful physical scientist – and only pretended to use mathematics, his conclusions all done before he did his calculations) – but I agree with you Ian, I do not think people ever leave their moral vision at the door. Even Ludwig Von Mises never really did – not someone whose motto (from Virgil) was “Do not give in to evil, proceed ever more boldly against it” (the passionate man of honour, always ready for a fight, does not seem much like a utilitarian either – but he said he was….).

    The morality of someone like Sir William Petty (or “Nudge” man Cass Sunstein) may seem odd – for example their willingness to lie (for example just making up statistics when they the actual numbers are unavailable or do not suit them – but they do have a moral code (and passionately held).

    Not “Puritan” in the religious sense (after all William Petty wanted to introduce a special tax to encourage illegitimate births – yes, encourage them, because he believed the state would be stronger with more people, so more people should be created by any means) but they do have a Platonic vision.

    Not of God – but of a new state (like “The New Atlantis” of Francis Bacon) that will be God-on-Earth. Ruled by wonderful “enlightened” experts (like Plato’s Guardians) who will make everyone happy – whether they like it or not……

    Even seeming nonentities such as “Ed” Miliband share this moral vision (and it a form of moral vision) – not the rigid Marxism of his father, but still a collectivist vision (of which Marxism itself was only one version).

    And it is a vision that is wildly shared…..

    For example why do private companies (and wealthy individuals – so Sean’s idea of getting rid of limited liability, the medieval idea of a “body corporate”, would not help) push leftist books?

    They do not tend to sell very well – the works of people like Russell Brand or Owen Jones (or …..) are not just full of falsehoods (not that is a problem for the moral code of their authors – whether they are the real authors or not) they are also badly written – so they do not tend to sell well, in spite of all the pushing……

    So why do private business enterprises push badly written leftist books written by people who would like to nationalise the very business enterprises that are pushing the books (pushing them on a public that is not really interested)?

    Because they, the people in the business enterprises, believe it is their MORAL DUTY to push these collectivist works – that it is NOBLE to do so.

    So yes Ian, we face what is basically a moral problem – the moral vision pushed by the education system (and so on) leads people to act in ways that are against their own economic interests.

    And the lesson is not learned……

    For example the “Pilgrims” who landed in what is now Mass – they tried to put a collectivist vision into practice. Half of them died and the rest came to understand that they were not creating a society more moral than the Boston in Lincolnshire they had left, but LESS moral. People were busy working out ways not to work (as they got much the same whether they worked or not) and how to steal from the common store of goods. They had become a community of conmen and thieves (and the people who really did believe in the vision, and did not change, worked themselves to death) – so private property in land (and so on) was established (not much different from the England they had left).

    Yet this is not the story taught in the “Public Schools” (or many of the private ones either) – the young are taught that the Indians came and gave the Pilgrims food out of the kindness of their altruistic hearts……

    The message (from the schools for the youngest children, to the post graduates at Harvard) being……..

    “Collectivism can work – if we become better, more moral, people”.

    The “pure” “Forms” down from the other dimension – to the ideal community on Earth. Heaven on Earth.

    Plato’s vision – before Christianity, and in much of the “post Christian” world also.

  7. A practical example….

    Why do “liberal” judges in Kansas think they can ignore the election of the Governor in 2010 and his re election in 2014 and demand that more tax money be spent on education? Even though the Constitution of Kansas just says there shall be government school system – not how much taxpayer money should be spent upon it.

    Because education is morally good – so spending money on it most be morally good as well. What was called in the early 20th century “sociological jurisprudence” (taught at Harvard Law School) which was both irrelevant to the legal matters under judgement, and based on false economics anyway (as Murray Rothbard said of Sir William Petty – Petty may have thought he was being an objective “social scientist”, but he work is based on false ASSUMPTIONS that he does not even examine).

    The “greedy” taxpayers of Kansas clearly “do not care about the children” – so the noble judged (Plato’s Guardians) must step in “for the children” (or the old, or the sick, or “the arts” or “sport” – no I am not making that up, “the arts” and “sport” get discussed in what is supposed to be a legal judgment, which is why the bleeping thing is over a hundred pages long).

    These people are not religious in a conventional sense, indeed they hate and despise conventional (“conservative”) Christians – see the front cover of “Newsweek” (the rag is back yet again) denouncing American religious people..

    However, they do have a religion – it is just not Catholic or Protestant.

    It is the worship of “the community” – i.e. THE STATE.

    Not the actual State – not people like the elected politicians such as the Governor and the State Legislature (the judges hate them – and the people who elected them, as Rousseau said the “will of all” is NOT the “General Will” the greedy majority must be FORCED to be “free”).

    The State as a Platonic FORM.

    An ideal State, a perfect State………

  8. I’m not entirely sure that they worship the State. I think they worship themselves. In the religious analogy, they’re Antinomians. I always think Tony Blair is an example; his oleaginous religiosity boils down to his idea of praying to God is just getting confirmation from God that He agrees with Tony Blair, if you see what I mean. They see the State as the means to enact their own will on Earth.

  9. All this proves is that surveys are bs and the majority of people are idiots. If polled on specific measures doubtless a whole bunch of people would agree with bizarre restrictions on liberty, in detail, in sum getting us where we are now. It’s the case that only a small percentage of the population with political power can easily drive things in the violence-based state we live in.

    The Scottish Government are busy fiddling whilst Rome is burning and have introduced a 5p tax on all carrier bags – people are just shrugging their shoulders and ignoring it as, “only 5p” instead of sacking the bastards.

  10. Ian I think that you are partly right about Mr Blair.

    However, the academic and media people do not really expect to be Prime Minister – they do not even think in terms of who is Prime Minister. They just expect “something to be done” (by the sacred and holy state) about just about everything – even the carrier bags that John Pate mentions). They believe that all problems can be solved – and that the solutions must come from “on high”.

    I think what was hopeful about the actual post is that most people do NOT share the state worship of the “educated classes”.

  11. I return to the practical example I gave.

    The people of Kansas voted (twice) for a reduction in government spending – but the judges say “no”, government schools must teach art, and music, and sport and …….(hundred page judgment).

    The judges do not represent ordinary people – they represent an “educated” elite, who have (at heart) the same view of government that Plato had.

  12. On regulations….

    President Ronald Reagan ordered that no new regulation could be imposed unless a formal Cost/Benefit study had been done on it. Now we can sneer at such studies – but they are better than just imposing any regulation an administrator thinks of without any check at all (which is the British way).

    Sadly President Clinton repealed this order by President Reagan – and every year sees vast numbers of regulations added to the existing vast mountain of regulations.

    The elected legislature should formally, and specifically, debate and vote on every proposed regulation (no “delegated legislation” – John Locke was correct to oppose the principle). And the legislature should only meet for a few hours a day, for a few days a year (as the Texas State Legislature does).

    No time to debate and vote on X regulation?

    Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

  13. And, of course, there should be a “Sunset” provision.

    If a regulation is not specifically debated and voted for EVERY YEAR it should automatically become void.

    After all if X matter is so important you (the elected representatives) should be able to find time to debate and vote on it every year.

    If it is not important enough to discuss and vote on – then it should not remain “the law”.

    The Common Law (the nonaggression principle of respect for property rights) is all that is really needed – there is no need for “legislation” – especially if the “legislators” are not interested enough to discuss and vote on it each and every year.

    Indeed perhaps the people themselves should be the ones who are doing the voting – via the secret ballot.

    And perhaps the people should be the ones deciding who the judges are – why should they not be freely elected with any person allowed to stand.

    “A judge must have special knowledge”.

    O.K.- make that case to the voters and see if they elect you (they might), list your legal qualifications in your election leaflets.

    But why should people be asked (indeed forced) to obey a legal system that is too complicated for them to understand?

    Should not the laws be understandable for most people?

    If only a small elite can understand the laws is this not a bad thing?

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