Micheal Cobley

Interstellar Tactics




Freedom Is On The March, Y'all!

….as his Cretinosity the Shrub once assured us, back when his popularity ratings were somewhat above dachshund-belly level.

But just what is this freedom thing of which you speak, earthman? Well, funny thing about freedom is…not enough of it and society and culture disintegrates into authoritarianism and corrupt social relationships (or sometimes goes into a kind of hibernation). But, too much freedom and you end up with a similar degradation into tyranny. How’s that, I hear you declaim? Simple – it’s what’s known as the Paradox of Freedom. Complete, untramelled freedom is literally freedom for the strong to enslave the weak; this why we have a system of laws which, generally speaking, qualifies freedom and sets out the limits of actions both individual and collective.

However, as a society becomes more authoritarian with rafts of new draconian legislation, it almost always is the case that the governing elite is above such legislation and is seldom penalised under it. Cases in point, Russia and America today, where money and power has become concentrated in very few hands, and with money and power comes that well-known fashion accessory, expensive lawyers. So when your favourite Republican/Nu Labour/Tory politician starts dribbling on about his love of freedom, just remember whose freedom they`re talking about.

There is another paradox, the Paradox of Tolerance – a society which extends unlimited tolerance is likely to be wrecked and tolerance along with it. So a tolerant society must, in certain circumstances, be prepared to suppress the enemies of tolerance, although only if they constitute a genuine danger. Of course, criticism and open debate are essential components in a society which aspires to egalitarianism; a sense of proportion is also necessary since there is a world of a difference between a lone bedsit zealot muttering about foreign students while scribbling letters to the paper, and a group of self-deluded people cooking up bathtub bombs or re-engineering replica guns into working models.

Then there’s the culpability of the nation-at-large, too. My own country, Great Britain, colluded with the USA to invade Iraq which presented no threat and possessed no WMDs, in the course of which 100s of thousands of innocent Iraqis have died in awful agony. My country is guilty of war crimes, so when any New Labour or Tory politician sounds off about the morality of any other country actions (Russia, Georgia, Sudan etc) they are being vile hypocrites. This is no excuse for stupid murderous atrocities like the London Underground bombings, but Blair, Brown and Cameron have no access to the moral high ground.

In terms of writing, remember the politics of these times when you come to frame fictional societies – and consider the way in which politicians try to frame themselves and their actions.

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  1. Hey – what's the worst that could happen?

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