Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Edmund Burke and the ‘World Turned Upside Down’ …

First published April 4

The ad of the 1950s urging all to be “happy and gay the Laxette way” is charming because it points to a quaint migration of meaning and a value inversion.

Similarly gay friends of that time, struggling out of the closet, saw marriage negatively as a conformist bourgeois convention. The frocks were gorgeous but the institution was ghastly. Now same sex marriage is a sign of social arrival and gays in grey suits line up for membership of the Liberal Party.

It’s all a bit perplexing but more so for the political inversion that has also taken place over the same period. Traditional conservatives have become Alt-Right and Radical, iconoclasts of the current social and economic order. The traditional Left on the other hand have become the new conservatives shoring up a social order long in its formation.

The Left Libertarianism of the 1950s and 60s with its advocates of unrestrained freedom like Sartre has migrated to the Right Libertarianism of the new millennia, still with an ideology of narcissistic unfettered freedom. Its moral egocentrism wasn’t nice then and it is even uglier in its morphed form now.

As in any era pundits of the past are mined for renewal and perspective because as the bible adjures there is nothing new under the sun. In the 1960s the hippy Counter Culture disinterred Rousseau and this era of a resurgent Right tempts scrutiny of conservative narratives of the past for clues to understanding the present. The doyen of conservatism past, one of its revered founding figures was Edmund Burke.

Burke, an Irish patrician and parliamentarian, was an orator whose contrarian ideas shaped no systematic doctrine yet formed a fervent counterpoint to the new doctrines of the Enlightenment and its bastard offspring, Revolution, manifest in America and France.

The Enlightenment proclaimed a new vocabulary of inalienable rights, of equality, freedom and the pursuit of individual fulfilment. It was a heady mix that eschewed social stasis and embraced Change and Progress as given goods. The language is so embedded in our thought as to be self-evident axioms yet it radically inverted the values of the time.

That inversion was eloquently portrayed at Yorktown, when Cornwallis surrendered British forces to the Americans. The band, it is said, piped “The World Turned Upside-down”. It was a sardonic reflection but it summed exquisitely both the event and the era. And Americans have had difficulty with irony ever since.

Burke observed the American Revolution with sympathy and the French Revolution with horror. He loved Liberty as much as Authority but he saw in the spirit of the colonists, legitimate aspiration. His view was pragmatic. Enforced compliance ultimately fails. It’s obvious. What he saw though, in British leadership, was a dogged determination to persist in the face of obvious calamity. A sort of Brexit pre-visited.

It was a denialism similarly seen in events that cascaded towards revolution in France: leadership persisted on a path utterly at odds with emerging reality. It was said of the Bourbons they had learned nothing and forgot nothing but this is frequently found in leadership caught in the crossfire of events.

Ours too is an era of rapid alteration, of a “World Turned Upside-down” and with it comes the same denialism. We live in a unique historical conjunction of multiple concerns: the challenge of climate change, environmental overload, demographic pressure, energy demands and a freewheeling economic ethos. The response is not just to deny the problem. The new conservative response is making a manic tilt at change and social reconstruction whereas in the past they would have retreated to the safety of familiar formulas.

And here the conservative Burke would find a familiar field of analysis. What turned him so vehemently against French radicalism was not just the prospect of a “swinish multitude”. Whereas the American Revolution consolidated a traditional social artifice of well-worn Liberties, France tore itself apart to make itself anew. Burke saw in the new radical ideology of change what few perceived, division and the seeds of tyranny.

The newly minted vocabulary had an authoritarian certainty that made division and repression inevitable. Burke’s social panacea is odd to our ears: a “mannered” society. But when he said, “Manners were more important than laws” he was alluding to those deep-seated shared values, the threads that bind rather than divide. Not just a civic but a civil society.

Burke would find the modern punitive conservatism remote from traditional roots in civil ‘manners’. Today’s Alt–Right conservatism invokes neither a civic nor a particularly civil society, rather it projects a vile, abusive and partisan division with a tinge of tyranny.

*Dr Michael Powell is Adjunct Researcher University of Tasmania

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Peter Henning

    April 8, 2018 at 1:32 am

    #19 … To the contrary, understanding Burke could be a fundamental reference point for many people attempting to understand time and place and ideas, and how they integrate that in their frame of knowledge.

    You don’t have to agree with Burke any more than you have to agree with John Stuart Mill or Karl Marx, but his ideas and values still speak loud, so why not try to understand that, rather than rubbish it?

  2. Leonard Colquhoun

    April 8, 2018 at 12:49 am

    My scoreline: davies 1, Nagle 0.

  3. Christopher Nagle

    April 7, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    I am not sure that guys like Burke have a lot to tell us now.

    He was your classical comfortable bourgeois democratic intellectual who initially was very successful in taking on the ideological traditionalists with a very tame version of the ideas of The Enlightenment, as laid out in America by a frontier capitalism that no longer needed Britain, or its antique social system.

    And the bottom line was that although the loss of the American colonies was a national humiliation for Britain, nothing much had changed. Everyone was pretty much doing what they were doing before, including the African slaves.

    But then poor old Burke got caught out by the brutal extremism of the French, who were also using the language of that very same Enlightenment; you know, ‘Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!’ as furious Parisian crowds of sans culotte (too poor for trousers) brushed aside the all but bankrupt French state. In the countryside, peasant serf ‘Jacques’ were burning down the houses of their feudal masters and forcing them to flee, on pain of death.

    Burke’s originally pretty safe ‘radicalism’ was starting to look dangerous, especially as the revolt in France evolved out of a Jacquerie (a traditional revolt of peasants and the urban poor) into something much more formidable under the leadership of ‘really’ radical bourgeois Jacobins, who took the slogans of the revolt to the social wall…and right over the top.

    They turned the Jacques into state armed troops whose fervently disciplined patriotism under fire made the mercenary armies of Europe’s old order instantly obsolete and funnelled their long suppressed social rage from centuries of contempt and abuse, onto the blade of Madame Guillotine.

    Ooops! And did that have a few people in Britain feeling nervously around the neckline of their silk cravats…and respectable folk like our Edmund Burke furiously re-calibrating their ideological attitude.

    Perhaps the only takeaway for us here is that ideological language takes on new meanings as historical forces drive social actions that recontextualize them from the realm of civil norms and symbolic rebellion, to those of the real kind…and war.

    And the warning that Burke might send us from his dusty grave is that as the post-WW2 consensus and the modern institutions that drove them start to come unstuck, the bets are going to come off, the stakes will become enormous and everybody will be playing for keeps in a game of winner takes all.

    As Post-Indulgence Capitalism moves economics back towards necessitous production and ecological restitution, the old indulgence ideology will take massive hits, because it and its acolytes will be seen as emblematic of everything that was wrong with the old order.

    It will be quite convenient for the new one to let the masses vent their anger on this bunch of ideological bunnies for long enough to eliminate the indulgencers, but not so long as to totally upset the apple cart….

    And the thing about that is, just as with the French revolution, nobody will see it coming until it is right on them, or where it is going to go, or who is eventually going to get control of the beast, or what they will do with it once they have.

    Everyone was flying blind and then riding the tiger in 1789, as they were in 1917, as they were in 1933 and 1949….as it will be when the next really big historical convulsion comes upon us…maybe already has.

    Some will be sufficiently insulated to be able to write eloquently about it after the fact and have the space to reset their lofty ideological positions, like Edumund Bourke did. But there will be millions of others who won’t be so lucky.


  4. davies

    April 7, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    I appreciate your response #15.

    When you say libertarianism moved from the left to right I presume you are thinking of the Levellers as the original libertarians!

    Nowadays, there are certainly less left-wing libertarians because so many have given up supporting the principle of free speech. Though one of my favourite libertarians identifies as a Marxist Libertarian (Brendan O’Neill – Spiked).

    I think it is wrong to presume that those who feel no compunction to interfere in other peoples’ lives are therefore egotistical and selfish. The lack of manners or civility is not a trait that I have observed. In fact, the majority of libertarians I know of give their time and resources up quite freely to help others.

    To my mind, the modern source of the social engineering you quite rightly worry about stems from the prevalence and dominance of post-modernism. You read someone like Derrida and you can see how they took on the nihilistic qualities of communism and packaged it as something new.

    At the core of a functioning, productive and civil society is the family unit. It is not surprising that the goal of post-modernism is to undermine that.

  5. john hayward

    April 7, 2018 at 12:43 am

    #10 & 11 … Academics of conservative psychology after WWII found they were studying much the same people as students of authoritarianism.

    The monsters tend to hide their spots until they gain impregnable power- and the angry rabble are baying for the blood of some hapless minority.

    John Hayward

  6. Steve

    April 7, 2018 at 12:39 am

    #9, John … Comment appreciated and enjoyed!

  7. michel Powell

    April 6, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    I think I should particularly address the comment by #1 davis as he makes a most valid point. Libertarianism, though it has now migrated to the Right from its Left roots, always had an appeal.

    As Davis says: “the belief that one can do what one likes as long as it does not negatively impact on anyone else or their property? Where is the tyranny in that?” This has always been the apparently unarguable position, however it denies any ‘social contract’ or other responsibility. It soon descends into an exploitative narcissism and ego-centrality. Freedom builds out of social cohesion not separate from it – it is as Fromm described ‘Freedom to” not “freedom from” – and that “freedom to” arises out of social cohesion even if that appears a definitional contradiction.

    Thanks for the comment – even if we do not agree. And by the way I am deeply suspicious of the Enlightenment vocabulary of ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’ etc which is usually marked by its absence. It was a artifice of its time and remains so.

  8. michel Powell

    April 6, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    I find the comments on my article of considerable interest even if I don’t necessarily concur.

    The point I wish to draw attention to is the Left Right distinction is not clear cut and often even echo the nasty aspects of one another. Certainly this is particularly so in our present era with the migration of the Right towards a more authoritarian discourse.

    The tendency towards authoritarianism is inherent in both Left and Right ideologies which is why I am attracted to Burke because he was not an ideologue but a rather unsystematic thinker. That certainly does not make his discourse always palatable – quite the reverse. He was an elitist who upheld a rule of our aristocratic ‘betters’ which is to the present mind repugnant.

    That said, he deserves consideration because of what he formulated about extremism (of whatever complexion). To Burke it always led to militarism or authoritarianism and in that he was deeply prescient in the case of the French Revolution.

    His odd ideas on ‘manners’ is what particularly interests me. John Hayward is quite right. It can present as patronising (schoolmasterish) reinforcement of plutocracy but it can also be an appeal to inclusion and respect for ideas and persons outside our orbit. Burke had some odd (for his times) ideas. He loathed capital punishment and railed against ‘sodomites’ being condemned to the pillory.

    A mannered society is inclusive and tolerant. All persons deserve representation – even though Burke, no democrat, favoured ‘virtual representation” of all positions. [the Americans would have nothing but taxation with real representation of course!] But Burke’s view was in other respects modern in that he saw the inclusion of diverse views as a very practical bulwark against social discord. Persons who feel included do not sense what Marx later described as ‘alienation’.

    The conservative narrative of today has moved from the principles of Burke on civil and social harmony and favours punitive social responses – even revels in them. Despite the rage against the ‘nanny state’, the discourse favours a potent ‘social engineering’ equal to anything posited by the Left previously. So in that sense the neo-conservative position makes them the inheritors of the Enlightenment desire to remake society not the Left. And whether Left to Right we need to to be wary of ‘social engineering’


  9. Leonard Colquhoun

    April 6, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Comment #12’s informative quotation from a credible source illustrates how one person could be ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ simultaneously. In the broad spectrum of all beliefs, Stalin was on the Left (as was his rival Trotsky) but within the Bolsheviks Stalin was a ‘right-winger’.

    The same split occurs sooner or later in every ideological movement.In the Nazi Party, the ‘Left’ were the faction around Brownshirts’ leader Ernst Röhm who thought the ‘Socialist’ in the Party’s name actually meant something by calling for a second (as in ‘socialist’) revolution after the ‘nationalist’ one in January 1933; Hitler disabused him of this by having him shot after the Night of the Long Knives in mid-1934.

    The more fanatical and irrational the beliefs, the more likely these splits are to be bloody and violent – revolutions devouring their children.

  10. Ole-Man-a-Ross

    April 6, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    Re comments #10 & #11 … It seems Stalin was a “right winger” and Trostky a leftie ?

    A quote taken from;
    “The Influence of Ideology.” Worden, Robert L., Andrea Matles Savada and Ronald E. Dolan, editors. China: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1987. http://countrystudies.us/china/125.htm

    Stalin’s rise began in 1922 when Lenin appointed him General Secretary of the Communist Party where he had direct control over party appointments. While Lenin was ill, Stalin worked with Lev Kamenev and Grigorii Zinovieiv to form a ruling triumvirate which was united against Trotsky and set to succeed Lenin. The other two believed they were exploiting Stalin in order to assert their own party dominance; in actuality, Stalin was using his position to appoint his own supporters and gain strength. When Lenin saw Stalin’s use of his position, he began backing Trostsky to counteract Stalin’s growing power; however, after Lenin suffered a stroke, Stalin was able to stifle Lenin’s efforts by ordering him kept in medical isolation. After Lenin’s death in 1924, the Communist party was divided into two conflicting schools of thought as to the future of the Soviet Union. The left-wing, led by Trotsky, felt that a world revolution was necessary for socialism’s survival; they called for rapid economic development and a socialist society. The right-wing, believing that a world revolution was unlikely to develop any time soon, supported gradual development through a plan similar to Lenin’s New Economic Plan.

    The “Soviet order” was actually initiated under Lenin and his New Economic Policy in the early 1920’s; and while major changes took place under Stalin, the social and political order which became known as “Stalinism,” began long before Stalin became party leader. In 1925, Trotsky lost his position of commissar of war; Stalin had originally aligned with Kamenev and Zinovyev in a troika, but as he consolidated his power, he broke with his two allies. As the new Soviet leader, Stalin became the dictator of a one-party state, centrally organized, with firm commitments to hierarchy and discipline; the Communist party used its complete control over the government structure and the law to indoctrinate and mobilize society to achieve Party goals.

    Stalin used his power to focus Soviet attention on what he believed to be the country’s main shortcoming: its economy. Stalin believed that the weak and pre-industrial economy was the reason behind Soviet’s lack of power and influence in the world; he believed that if the USSR was to become a world leader, it must transform its economy, and quickly. Despite attacks on his leadership from Trotsky, now aligned with his former partners, Stalin was able to gain support for his theory of “socialism in one country,” which called for the construction of a Soviet socialist society, regardless of the international situation.

    Stalin rejected the leftists and their view that a socialist society required the support and assistance of other, developed socialist states; as support for his theory of an independent socialist USSR grew, Stalin’s opposition was gradually eliminated and even Trotsky was forced into exile in 1926. In 1928 Stalin rejected the NEP and initiated his own reforms; then later, in the late 1930’s after dissatisfaction with the pace of development, Stalin utilizes terror to confirm his power and erase political obstacles.

  11. Leonard Colquhoun

    April 5, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Comment 9’s “Right-wingers, such as Stalin and Mao” reminds me of the last line of that old military marching order ‘Your other left foot’.

  12. davies

    April 5, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    “Right-wingers, such as Stalin and Mao …”

    #9 – you must be having a laugh.

    And linking the Monash Forum to the two worse killers in history? Now that is a serious lack of perspective.

  13. john hayward

    April 5, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Leonard at #7 is right about those revolutions going acutely sour, but all were commandeered by authoritarian types not completely unlike the ones they overthrew. Right-wingers, such as Stalin and Mao, gravitate toward opportunities to gain power, like blowies to an open wound, even if the opportunities are in ostensibly anti-oppression groups.

    Let’s hope the Monash Forum doesn’t provide yet another example of the phenomenon.

    John Hayward

  14. Lynne Newington

    April 5, 2018 at 9:27 am

    As I read through the comments during my early morning quiet time, between the lines I can see a Tony Abbott plagiarism when it comes to men of substance, more recently John Monash [Sir]
    What an insult.

  15. Leonard Colquhoun

    April 5, 2018 at 5:07 am

    In today’s (bastardisation?) of ‘revolution’ the events of 1776 would hardly count as one, nor would our ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688-89. Five ‘real’ revolutions followed, all more or less (mostly ‘more’) ideologically based where one Big Idea unified everything and explained everything, with murderously disastrous results, starting in . . .

    ~ 1789: the French Revolution (which began as an effort to develop the sorts of evolutionary development which produced the British constitutional monarchy and its concomitants) resulting in the Terror, a new monarchy and a quarter century of the most destructive war in Europe since 1618-1648;

    ~ 1917: the Bolshevik coup d’état in the Russia of the Provisional Government leading directly to the tens of millions of deaths in the totalitarian dictatorship Revolution’s successor-state during 1921-1991;

    ~ 1933: the Nazi revolution’s creation of a racially ideological third German reich, with its mass-murder of ‘Untermenschen’ in its KZ-lagers and ‘final solution’ ovens, and ending in (maybe) the most destructive military defeat in the last millennium;

    ~ 1949: the Maoist Revolution, an absolute dictatorship with the same patterns of mass-murder as in Nazi Germany and the USSR but with distinct Chinese characteristics; the recent Xi counter-evolution [sic] has begun to replace its Dengist authoritarianism with a restored Maoist-type totalitarianism, but (so far and maybe) minus the hundreds of millions of ‘by-product’ deaths.

    Others on a smaller scale but with many of the same frightening features include similar revolutions in Cuba (1959), Iran (1979, but underpinned by an extremist theological ideology), Cambodia (1975-79) and now Venezuela (state created economic chaos and life-degrading scarcities, but minus so far the state sponsored mass-murders).

    Edmund Burke was right: root and branch, from the ground up, revolutions devour their children in the millions. Why would any reasonable persons now expect anything different?

  16. Christopher Nagle

    April 4, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    Michael, I really enjoyed your little piece because unlike most of what I see in these columns, you are really trying to get a coherent intellectual overview and context as to what is now going on which is challenging, because the language of political discourse is now so badly damaged, out of time and weakly referenced, it is almost useless, except as propaganda.

    I need some time to reflect a bit more on the details of what you said, but I really like the way you plot the processes of historical/ideological migration and the transformation of meaning that comes in its wake.

    I suspect that we will be facing the Burke conundrum of having a good thing (The American Revolution) and too much of one (The French One) in fairly short order, because not only is the post WW2 consensus crumbling, but so are many of its other civilizational props.

    Burke found it easy to get on board with the Americans because their revolution was basically American capital refusing to play branch office to London anymore and wanting to substitute the frontier capitalist politics of money for the much more rigid British caste system.

    For the Americans, the revolution was just business-as-usual without the British and their ‘foreign’ aristocratic class baggage. America never had an aristocracy. They had always been plutocrats at heart. All the rest of the democratic rhetoric was mainly ideological dressups in a game where to make sense of anything you would almost always have to follow the money.

    The French revolution was a much a tougher piece of political action. The social radicalism that came with it was not a serendipitous add on, but a necessary, unavoidable and ineluctable part of the process.

    This was not merely a bunch of obstreperous colonials pissing of a colonial power from across the Atlantic. This was a full on domestic shit fight that was made much worse by long standing economic/fiscal mismanagement and deep social distress going back to the time of The Sun King, and then flammably accelerated by foreign military interventions to try and restore the status quo.

    Sound familiar?

    Robespierre was a creature of that revolution and and exemplar of what happens when massive political momentum inevitably overshoots, and then suffers the inevitable correction…at the guillotine, going both ways.

    Washington and his fellows were so damned bourgeois respectable….Of course Edmund Bourke liked them!

    France was always going to be messy and Burke liked orderliness. America was orderly, pragmatic and neat by comparison, to the extent that even the brutally contradictory issue of slavery hardly touched the sides.

    We are most unlikely to get a tidy devolution of the modern period. Everything will come up for grabs and the only certainty will be war to sort it out, because everyone will be playing for keeps over existential issues where there really won’t be any common ground worth talking about.

    And in the process, the political language of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries will disappear as we struggle through a period whose fluidity makes a nonsense of what is right and left, or conservative and radical, or traditional and progressive. The whole thing is going to get thrown in the air…is being thrown in the air.

    What it will likely all come back to is the fundamentals of ecological viability, economic necessity and, most difficult of all, existential identity, authenticity and legitimacy/social licence. And the last time stuff like that came up was during the Reformation and the terrible following wars of toleration over absolutely non negotiable bottom lines that kept powers fighting each other until exhaustion and depletion took them to a final and bitter peace whose echoes could still be heard in places like Northern Ireland until this century…(hopefully)…over 350 years later.

    As this rolls out, the only thing that the Edmund Burkes of this world are going to be able to do is find a quiet bunker somewhere and wait it out…as the existential carpet gets pulled out from under everybody.

  17. Lynne Newington

    April 4, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    I became acquainted with Mr Burke in relation to Tony Abbott, but I can’t recall on what basis.
    Maybe it was the connection to the book he wrote and promoted on the taxpayer purse, or the common religious affiliation.


  18. john hayward

    April 4, 2018 at 12:30 am

    Burke’s notion of “manners” was probably not unlike an old schoolmaster’s notion of good behaviour, which is pretty-much passive submission to the existing hierarchy, as long as his own crowd happened to be running the show.

    Genuine good manners, or civility, arise from a common perception that the system is reasonably fair and, which is hard to obtain in a plutocracy or oligarchy, which is the conservative instinct..

    John Hayward

  19. Jon Sumby

    April 3, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Excellent piece.

    It reminded me of when I was recently looking at the 1841 minutes of a meeting of a group called ‘The Society’ V. D. Land.

    This was apparently started by Governor General Franklin and it later became the Royal Society of Tasmania – although it is not mentioned in their history, so I don’t know.

    For example, on May 6th 1841 a paper was read before The Society on the topic of ‘The Language of the Adelaide Tribes’ and Sir John Franklin moved that the ‘paper just read be printed’.

    Later that month there was a paper on ‘The Geology of the Tasman Peninsula’.

    Then on July 6th, Mr Bedford read a paper to The Society on ‘The Marsupial Animals’ followed by Capt. Colton’s reading of his paper ‘Upon the Irrigation of this Island’, then Dr Robertson’s paper on ‘Franklin Island’, all of which were approved to be published in an issue of The Society’s Journal.

    Anyway, I digress. On the front cover of the minutes book there is a sketch of a platypus and around it are inscribed the words, ‘All Things are Queer and Opposite’.

    This sums up the view of the colonists who were strangers in a strange land, living in a world that for them was upside down .. with the seasons reversed and the flora and fauna confusing. The specimen of a platypus sent to England was considered a hoax for some time.

    Anyway, forgive this ramble, but the picture and inscription are cute and humorous to modern eyes.

  20. Scott MacInnes

    April 3, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you Michael, for keeping the memory of Edmund Burke alive.

    Now regarding ‘those deep-seated shared values, the threads that bind rather than divide. Not just a civic but a civil society’ .. I have often quoted Burke’s classic dictum about the individual, non-delegable duty of our elected representative to discern ‘those deep-seated shared values’ in our community, and to then exercise their own best conscience and judgment on behalf of the community as a whole, rather than defer to popular opinion or the wishes of their electorate:

    “Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; …

    “But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living….

    “Your representative owes you .. his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

  21. davis

    April 3, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    “it projects a vile, abusive and partisan division with a tinge of tyranny”. Sounds like your more accurately describing the left regressives, except of course the left regressives have gone way beyond ‘tinge’.

    What was the point of this article, apart from trying to directly link conservatism with the alt-right, and anyone holding a libertarian viewpoint as an ugly narcissist? But not for long?

    Perplexingly, a mere three paragraphs later, the author seems to favour the Enlightenment which pushed for inalienable rights of equality, freedom and the pursuit of individual fulfilment. In the author’s words it was a ‘heady mix’. But aren’t those sentiments at the core of libertarianism .. the belief that one can do what one likes as long as it does not negatively impact on anyone else or their property?

    Where is the tyranny in that?

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