Friday, 5 November 2010

A critique of tea party ideals

Dear reader as you may know I am a devout right wing Christian; exactly the bread and butter of the tea movement in the US. Yet to the shock of many I oppose the tea party and to explain this I am writing a series of blogs which outline my critique and objection to this popularist pseudo movement.

Below are the key ideals which are the basis of the tea party movement and I intend to look at each in a British perspective and to critique them as being vague and incoherent and lacking depth. Throughout I will remind the reader of the duty of conservative to the eternal conversant and social stability .

Fiscal responsibility

“Fiscal Responsibility: Fiscal Responsibility by government honours and respects the freedom of the individual to spend the money that is the fruit of his or her own labor. A constitutionally limited government, designed to protect the blessings of liberty, must be fiscally responsible or it must subject it's citizenry to high levels of taxation that unjustly restrict the liberty. (Tea party)

I will spare my informed reader from a lecture on the self-obvious, that higher taxes have utterly no bearing on liberty, unless one wishes to argue that the Scandinavian countries are dictatorships or that the lands of Europe are markedly less free then the US we can dispose of this fig leaf of an argument.
Tax in Europe is no new creation, indeed tax probably descend from the earliest civilisations and is certainly mentioned and accepted in the bible (even Jesus paid tax Matthew 22:15-22) and even though there have probably been thousands of battles over tax only the US declared a totally new nation due to minor levels of tax. We must see the tea parties rejection of tax as a by-product of American history.

Anti-tax movements on the other hand play little if no role in are own nation building story. Indeed often the right to vote has been tied to paying tax or owning property. It may seem odd but for most of Britain’s history paying tax has been a status symbol. Tax occasionally been used positively to prevent madmen enjoying the fruits of their labour freely, if we think of the gin levels or the duty on gambling all of these curtailed socially corrosive crazes and established a safer and more coherent society.

In the end dear reader ask yourself this if you were forced to pay for your medical aid, forced to pay for your rubbish collection and parks and education would you in any meaningful way been freer or lived in a freer society? In ancillary to this question, how much is this extra freedom worth? How many homeless and sick people is it worth to be able to enjoy ten % extra freedom?

Constitutionally limited government

“Constitutionally Limited Government: We, the members of The Tea Party Patriots, are inspired by our founding documents and regard the Constitution of the United States to be the supreme law of the land. We believe that it is possible to know the original intent of the government our founders set forth, and stand in support of that intent. Like the founders, we support states' rights for those powers not expressly stated in the Constitution. As the government is of the people, by the people and for the people, in all other matters we support the personal liberty of the individual, within the rule of law”

I loved this bit of the tea parties manifesto, I loved it doubly when British politics student or ex-student faithful and without any real thought support a constitutionally limited federal government as opposed the unconstitutional sovereignty of the queen in Parliament leading a singular unified nation which has been the British model of government since the act on the union.

Imperfect, eccentric and often panicked stricken though are post-civil war politics maybe it has been one thing, free of tyrants, free of plebiscites and free above all of self-aggrandising, her today and gone tomorrow leaders and parties. Are leaders have trod carful not out of deference to some document construed by long since dead men but out of regard for the eternal covenant with the British people and a distaste of both radicalism and fossilisation.

One of the reason the British political elite has withstood for so long is they understand though sometimes unelected they serve at are whim, we agree not to follow every popular, romantic but inevitably flawed and deluded revolutionary leader and they promise to rain in there lust and ego. It is not perfect dear reader, nothing of the world of man is perfect but it has worked and has managed massive democratic and social change without the need for revolution or anarchy.

I also quickly wish to point out that supporting unabridged personal liberty and the rule of law is a paradoxical position as is the idea of a government by the people (all of whom are alive) and supporting a constitution (written by people long since dead). I also question the ability of people four hundred years to know the absolute will of people long since dead and doubly question how democratic it is to enforce the living to bow a knee to the laws of the long since dead.

Free market:

Free Markets: A free market is the economic consequence of personal liberty. The founders believed that personal and economic freedom were indivisible, as do (tea party)

Beyond the fact that I very much doubt the capitalist impulses of the puritanical founding fathers we must remind ourselves of something very important. Conservative e cannot be pro an unabridged market and nor can Christians (1 Timothy 6:10-11).

Indeed we British need no lecture on the pursuit of a free economy, are economic history is not marred by protectionist policies and are companies are not protected from foreign by outs, unlike the US. Indeed if a list of the most free of free markets where drawn up I would glad bet that Britain would out score the US and when the Tea party talk of free trade they mean only internally.

Let us return, however to the tea party and their belief that economic freedom is equivalent of liberty. So let us test this theory, let us lock up Sahara Palin in the deepest, darkest cell in Christendom and slowly fill it with the fruits of her labour and see how free she fails to be. The freedom to en joy the fruits of ones labours is one possible because we have a stable society and that dear reader does not spring forth naturally, it requires time and often money. So taking some of your fruits in order for you to enjoy them in the future is not a lessening of your liberty but a guarantor.

Of course having your fruits wholly consumed either by your peers or the state is being brought to the state of slavery to them by them and wholly unacceptable. It is a balance, some of our labour we owe not totally and must balance this with are own need to keep and use the fruits of are labour as we will.

In will say just briefly why supporting the market wholly is conservative; firstly the market is a fetish of man, well money is. Man in pursuit of money which is part of the market would willing undermine and corrupt any institution and forsake and step upon any of his fellows. Not only does the pursuit of money thus damages are society it also damages those institutions which is corrupts and which are not fiscally orientated.

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