I don’t like authoritarians. Perhaps that’s the wrong way to say it. I dislike it when people behave as authoritarians – better – it’s a choice they make after all. Here’s the scoop. There are people who just can’t seem to help wanting to run your life for you so much that they actually start doing it. I’m not talking about those with good advice, or good ideas, or who tell you how to run your life. Telling you how to run your life is a long way from actually running it. You can ignore ‘telling’, if you so choose. Sadly too many people confuse the two, and they try to silence people who are only telling you how to run your life, but pay others to actually run your life – or aspects of it.
Take, for example, the street preacher who got arrested a few months ago. He has a belief, he goes into the public square, he starts telling people about it. Now, there’s nothing magic about his belief that means he shouldn’t be allowed to speak it and tell it. All those tables full of books, and street stalls with gazebos, in the town centre all have just as much right to be there as each other, and this preacher man. They are all only telling. It’s free speech. It’s just words. They don’t hurt when they bounce off you. It’s no different to that bloke in the market yelling about his Potatoes. You can choose to listen, choose to believe, or choose to ignore and move on at any time. They are telling, they are not coercing or intervening.
If the occupiers of those street stalls whipped your credit card out of your wallet, filled in the charitable donation slip without your consent, that would be a whole different matter. If the man selling Potatoes forced you to stand there and listen to his whole patter and not let you leave until he was done, then that would be a whole different matter. And if the purveyor of tracts and flyers forced them into your hand or shopping bag against your will, that would also be a different matter.
That’s the difference between telling, and forcing. The difference between words, and actions. The difference between giving advice and actually running your life for you. You with me?
So here is the crux. There was no reason to arrest the preacher, he was only telling. He never forced anyone to church. He was just telling. Yet… Yet the police who came along and stopped him telling and took him away in their car… they weren’t just telling, they were forcing, and without good reason. Some people would have been glad about that incident. Some would have been secretly pleased he was taken away, by force. But those people are the confused ones who don’t get it. They are the authoritarians. They will gladly silence talking, but pay people to actually control and force how you live your life – or even gladly take charge themselves.
I’ve given some simple examples. But it happens all the time, and everywhere. People who think they are cleverer than you… People who don’t like you… People who think the world should be a certain way… and then think that because they think it they also have right to *make* you do it. It never occurs to them that you think other things, or if it does they think their thoughts should override your thoughts. Some even vote for people to do their dirty work for them. They wouldn’t actually come and force you themselves, but they will vote for people who will force you. And they think that’s all right. It’s not all right.
This superior arrogant attitude fuels the rejection of the Brexit referendum result and every other authoritarian law and regulation. It’s the same attitude that leads people to interrupt private events to shut down speakers. But it’s wrong. It doesn’t matter how clever or *right* a person thinks they are – they don’t have the right to force their views into action in your life. But as long as they can vote for people to do it to you anyway, they will, and feel themselves justified – or pleased with themselves – for having trampled your rights, and imposed their vision of utopia on top of yours against your will.
I don’t like authoritarians. I don’t like people behaving like them. I have no desire to force my ideals on you, please stop forcing yours on me. I’m a libertarian.