26th March 2011
I was browsing a neighbourhood library the other day, and in a hurry picked up a short book entitled Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2003) by an academic known as David Miller.
Its small size (thin, 130 pages) indicates that it might be the kind of book read by a first year university student who wants to grasp key concepts in a hurry. This book had a recommendation by Lord Bhiku Parekh, whom I had read once, long ago (I have a vague recollection that I heard him speak in a seminar organised by Madhu Kishwar in Delhi in around 2004, but I may be wrong). But one thing is now clear. Given he has recommend this trashy book, I will shun Parekh's work henceforth like the plague!
Back to Miller's book. This book has turned out to be so bad I'm not going to finish it.
The order of presentation of its discussions bothered me a bit. For instance, there was no serious discussion of the theory of national territory and the existence of the state. Instead, it was peppered from the beginning with (well-written!) opinionated rubbish.
But it soon became clear that this Miller fellow is on a mission to confuse young students of political science by forcing all kinds of socialist nonsense on them without any warning or explanation.
THE NONSENSE OF "SOCIAL GOALS"
For instance, he writes, "the freedom of each person must be restricted to allow everyone to enjoy (external) freedom to the same extent, but beyond that there are many legitimate social goals whose pursuit involves placing limits on what individuals may do."
This was a shocking sentence, sending shivers down my spine. What in heaven's name are these "social goals"? What is society? Who is authorised to establish "social goals" that presumably over-ride our individual sovereignty? No explanation at all. Mr Miller the socialist just moved on as if he had said nothing of importance. What he had done was, of course, to embed a TOTALLY NONSENSICAL concept in the minds of unwary students.
THE STATE'S "RESPONSIBILITY" TO LOOK AFTER US
Another shocking section was this, below. The entire logic of this section is so absurd that I was pulling out my hair as I read it. But my suffering was not yet complete. The worst was yet to come. From this garbled "logic" sprang a most audacious and nonsensical assertion, as you can read for yourself, below:
"So let's consider some examples in which people cannot do things that they would otherwise choose to do because of the cost. Should we say that once the cost reaches a certain point people are no longer free? This is too simple: compare someone on a modest income who cannot buy a holiday that costs £10,000 with someone on the same income who needs an operation to relieve a painful (though not disabling) condition that is only available privately for £10,000. Why do we say that the second person is not free to have the operation he needs, whereas in the first case we typically use different language – he is free to have the holiday, but he simply cannot afford it, we might say? Why does the language of freedom come naturally in the second case but not the first? Expensive holidays are luxury items whose distribution can reasonably be left to the economic market, where people make choices over how much they earn and how they spend their income. Whether or not the person we are considering could actually have raised £10,000 by working longer hours, changing jobs, or cutting back on other expenditure – that may be in dispute – we know for certain that nobody was under any obligation to provide him with the holiday. In contrast, the state has an obligation to ensure that everyone has access to adequate health care, whether through a public health service or by regulating the health insurance market so that everyone can buy suitable cover. So if someone is left facing a £10,000 bill for an operation that she needs, responsibility for this it lies with the state, which has failed in its obligation. Whether the cost of taking an option is a restriction of freedom depends not just on how big the cost is, but on how the cost arose and whether anyone else can be held responsible for its existence."
"The commonly held view that the more governments do, the less freedom people have, is therefore mistaken."
How on earth did Oxford University Press publish this CRAP!!! And with all this total confusion having been published, this man is allowed to teach! In England!! He should be thrown out from academic portals immediately, to save the brains of English children from turning into mushy blubber.
DISMISSIVE OF ISAIAH BERLIN
Miller acknowledges the existence of Isaiah Berlin and J.S. Mill but through his absurdly confused "arguments" (assertions, to be precise), shunts their contributions aside, as being of no consequence:
About Berlin he says:
"Government can do less directly about the internal aspect of freedom, a person's capacity to make genuine choices among the options open to hei. Tins is sometimes called 'positive liberty' as distinct from the 'negative liberty' of having options that are not blocked by external factors. These two kinds of liberty have been contrasted with each other, as they were by the political philosopher Isaiah Berlin in a famous lecture called Two Concepts of Liberty'. … But I believe it is more fruitful to see them as complementary." [What!!]
DISMISSIVE OF J.S. MILL
And about J.S. Mill he says:
"The question is whether Mill's principle still makes sense against the background of a welfare state, funded by taxation, that is committed to providing everyone with a minimum level of income, education, health care, and housing. In this context, should people have enforceable social responsibilities both to contribute and to avoid becoming unnecessarily dependent on welfare services?"
This book should NEVER have been published. And once published it should have been publicly shredded. Of course, given that even the fool has a right to preach, I'd tolerate such rubbish had Miller spent his own money to publish it. The fact that Oxford University Press can publish such nonsense shows me clearly why the West is now quickly rushing into oblivion.
After having discovered and followed the path of liberty, and reaped its rewards, the West is being destroyed from within its bowels by its academics who are waging a HUGE leftist, socialist war against freedom. These dangerous academics are brainwashing hapless Western teenagers and destroying the future of the West. Shame on Oxford University Press.
I was fair. I did give this writer a chance to show his thinking capacity, and read nearly 60 pages of his work. But now, totally disgusted with this "academic" I must throw his "book" into the rubbish heap, and classify him as a dangerous enemy of freedom; a social liberal, a welfare statist; a Fabian-type socialist.
This kind of babble has further strengthened my resolve to finish my next book, The Discovery of Freedom.