Notes from an Enfettered Island: Freedom Fighters

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On
Monday I stood amidst a massive crowd protesting New Labour's second
reading of its bill to control and ultimately to ban hunting in
Britain.

For
months, the campaign has been led by the Countryside Alliance, who
famously mustered a half million people to march in London on Sunday,
22nd of September; many who marched then recognised that
it would be the last peaceful protest that could be staged. There
would be no repeating the pleasant, convivial atmosphere of half
a million law-abiding people amassed to make their presence felt
in the capital. The politicians that they targeted had cowardly
skipped town that day; Parliament was not sitting on Sunday; and
there would be no massive disruption to London's workday.

A
half-million voices were raised for nothing though. The government,
many of whom in its ranks had themselves been involved in civil
protests in their youth, chose to listen not to our message. The
otiose Minister in charge, the fool set up to u2018settle the hunting
dispute', went ahead with the pre-arranged plans to effectively
ban hunting through red tape. Like all power-mongering governments
in the past though, the government has declared that it is being
u2018reasonable', it is offering u2018compromise', it is presenting u2018a solution'.
u2018Bollocks' is the colloquial reply.

Never
trust a man waving a piece of paper — Neville Chamberlain was soon
to find that out after coming home from a 1939 Munich conference
with Hitler in which the latter had promised peace.

Freedom
is not to be compromised — it is inalienable and indivisible.

So
on Monday, a few thousand of us took time off work, lost pay, chartered
buses, drove down, or bought train tickets to protest the reading
of the bill with a barrage of noise and light. We brought whistles,
drums, rattles, and of course hunting horns. We brought torches
u2018to light up prejudice' and we brought banners reminding passers-by
and MPs who had to run the gauntlet why the bloody hell we were
protesting. The Countryside Alliance had misplaced its own crowd
though — they started in Hyde Park, whereas many of us had had word
from the angrier groups (the Union of Countryside Workers and the
Countryside Action Network) to get to Parliament first in order
to heckle the MPs who would take our freedoms away. The police had
prepared to divert the primary march from Hyde Park, or to contain
it — no one was really sure, but it ended up being a spontaneous
strategy to keep the now two distinct groups separate. However,
we in Parliament Square had wrong-footed the police. Protestors
were able to stage a mass sit-in across the road and some almost
managed to get through the open gates — it was the closest a protest
group has ever got to the gates of Mordor! Next time we'll bring
more hobbits.

On
the ground, the anger and frustration was given physicality in the
noise we created, with shrill whistles and yelps. Ironically — although
I'm sure the mini-minded Minister in charge of banning hunting would
not get why — the Minister inside the House of Commons called us
tribalistic! From a socialist!! Whooohoooo! Of course, he's never
been hunting and witnessed the last bastion of British individualism
left in the land. He also asked the hunting community "to show
the respect to parliament that I have shown to them." Respect?
Is it respectful to abolish freedom and to attack one of the cultural
cornerstones of this land?

"Respect
me," is the phrase used by gang leaders who cannot earn anybody's
respect — instead they enforce obedience at the point of a gun.

Blair
enjoyed a wonderful reception from a part of the land he daren't
now tread (i.e., anything outside of London). He prefers these days
to stick to foreign tours and wars. Gossip in the Daily Mail reports
him as saying that he wished that the whole hunting thing would
just go away — his wife, however, she who famously dodged a train
fair on her appointment to the judiciary, who u2018unexpectedly' got
pregnant, whose eldest son was found and arrested for drunken and
disorderly conduct; she who presides over meetings in Downing Street,
and who recently has been plastered all over the British press for
alleged mendacity in her own financial dealings (some judicial appointee,
eh?!); she is said to have hissed — u2018you promised Tony [to ban hunting
with hounds].' A distrustful bitch has a short life in a pack of
hounds.

One
witty placard pointed to her dealings: u2018If Cherie does not need
a licence for her friends, why must I?' The wording of most placards
had become increasingly belligerent, some deploying analogies to
the last Civil War we had (1642–49): "Charles I went down
for much less, Blair"; "Cromwell mustered 20,000 for his
New Model Army — we mustered a half-million to march in London.
Prepositions can change." "You wanted a war Tony? You've
got one now."

Scuffles
between the police and the protestors became inevitable when the
police decided to practice an exercise in crowd control. The best
and funniest tactic the police used was to deploy a mounted unit
of around 8 horses to disperse the crowd. Oh, the laughter! Our
entire membership ride, work with, have grown up with, raised, or
have trained horses. They just stood still as the mounted unit approached,
knowing full well how horses behave — many protesters then hemmed
them in, and patted and stroked the horses, to the bewilderment
of the urban police rides. One of the police chiefs later expressed
dismay at our u2018unreasonable behaviour' — is it unreasonable to defend
freedom? Another mentioned how the protest was u2018unauthorised,' oh,
we're sorry, we forgot to call up the Ministry of Protests and ask
for a bloody licence. Nonetheless, many of the policemen spoken
to by us acknowledged their support of our campaign, and we stayed
around long enough for them to enjoy some Christmas overtime pay.

The
MPs inside, who could not be bothered to turn up for the debate,
later marched like Orcs into the Commons to vote in favour of the
bill; they just did not get why we were out there shouting and blasting
horns to announce our increasingly angry presence. Which is why
the next time could be nastier — what else do they expect?

Unlike
many who demonstrate in London, we were not out for more funds from
the Treasury — diverting the State's expropriations from the productive
half of the country into their own pockets, be they students, firemen,
or even the police. We were not there for special protection from
foreign competition or to seek government grants of any sort — we
were there to defend our right to be left alone and to live the
lives we see fit. We were there to defend freedom.

Unfortunately,
Blair's Britain does not like freedom: it seeks to regulate anything
that moves, thinks, or breathes. It wants to dispense licences,
issue decrees, prohibitions, and rules and directives from the EU;
it wants everybody to work for the government — leaving, of course,
a small minority to actually create the wealth needed to run the
economy; it wants us all to become homogenous, politically-correct,
socialist-bourgeoisie; ultimately, they want control.

Hence
our presence in London on Monday.

The
defence of hunting has become a symbol of so much more. It has become
a defence of freedom and responsibility — two words that New Labour
cannot abide. We had marched peacefully in September; we staged
a noisy protest on Monday. Next time? I hear farmers willing to
take the muck spreaders into the capital; I hear of plans to seriously
block the motorway links; to disrupt the workings of the government
machine at all costs; to hound anti-hunt MPs like they hound us.
We are a minority though — and the CA recognises that it cannot
win by the numbers game; indeed not — most people are too apathetic
to defend other peoples' freedom. But it can win the moral
game: the principle and the right lie with us and we shall blast
it from the hill-tops.

On
Monday, I felt what it must have been like to be a Bostonian in
1773.

December
18, 2002

Alexander
Moseley [send him
mail
] has lectured and tutored in American, Canadian and British
Universities. He spent the last two years sampling the State-run
comprehensive system in the UK and now teaches privately. He and
his fiancée have formed a partnership, Classical Foundations,
to teach music and other subjects privately one-to-one in their
area. Dr Moseley is an avid exponent of the ideals Rothbard outlines
in his Education:
Free & Compulsory
. His book, A
Philosophy of War
, was recently published by Algora, New
York.


     

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