You Are Already Free

Silly season’s almost over, and soon the “oh my god what have they done NOW” season will begin again (not that it ever really finished) so I thought I’d better do one of those quasi-philosophical posts while there’s still time.

To set the scene, I was sitting on the top floor of the bus, just behind the stairs. At the front was a young mother and her son. “Mum, I’d laugh if the bus went down there.”
“It’s not allowed to son, see that sign? That means no entry.”

There isn’t anything to actually stop you though, is there? It’s not a new thought to me, I must admit. I realised years ago that I don’t feel guilt or pangs of conscience, but rather worries about the possible consequences of my actions. The bus could have turned left there, the fact that it would have become wedged between a pub and an indian restaurant was neither here nor there, except in the mind of the driver. There’s no force-field.

So we are already free. Whatever disgusting illiberal laws there are, there is nothing to stop us breaking them, except the consequences, or rather the fear of the consequences.

Isn’t that liberty? In a libertarian state, I’m sure I’ve seen it written, there wouldn’t be many laws. Responsible people would weigh up the possible consequences of their actions, and act accordingly. Want to take drugs? Get drunk? Eat a hamburger? With cheese and bacon? Go right ahead! If you have a whitey/crash your car/get fat/have a heart attack then that’s up to you. All the state does in effect is to add “/get arrested/go to jail” on the end. There’s still nothing to stop you. You will either make a cost/benefit analysis based on those possible consequences, or you won’t bother and you’ll act anyway. Either way, there is nothing to stop you acting.

You are already free.

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