Paul added the following comment to his original posting, and requested that it be posted. Happy to oblige. Minor editing to original (typo fixed, unnecessary break in exposition removed); Categories added. –Julie
[Original: Comment to “Bacon, Hobbes and a Coke Anyone?” by Paul Marks
November 2, 2015 at 7:51 pm]
Bentham gets worse over time. He starts off horrified by the violence the American War of Independence and (more) the French Revolution – he then draws the wrong conclusion that talk of “rights” and “natural law” is the cause of this violence (and can not even seem to tell the difference between the private property based American Revolution and the collectivist, Rousseau style, French Revolution) .
Bentham then decided to throw the baby out with the bath water – by rejecting any of natural rights (“nonsense on stilts”) or natural law, just accepting the Hobbesian Positivist definition of law as just the will of the ruler of rulers (despotism – tyranny).
But Bentham remains, sort of, free market for awhile – in that he wants the state to have absolute power (no natural rights or natural law either) but NOT use it much. But then he comes up with more and more statist ideas – ending in the 13 Departments of state that he hoped would control just about everything in a despotism that would have made the Ottoman Empire blush.
But Bentham is not an isolated example – this follower of Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes is the master of the Bowood Circle and the “Westminster Review” crowd. People such as James Mill and his son John Stewart Mill.
The new “liberalism” of endless attacks on the Crown (part of what Bentham claimed to be defending against the French Revolution), endless attacks against the Church of England (the Anglican Church) “Tory” people (many of whom were actually Old Whigs such as Edmund Burke) and so on.
Notice the TRICK (and it is a trick) – freedom has gone from wanting the state to be limited, to wanting “freedom from tradition” and “freedom from God” (“free” thinking as automatic atheism) and the desire for a NEW STATE.
A professional civil service (not people appointed by minister) controlled by “scientific” experts – as with Francis Bacon’s “The New Atlantis”.
An elected government with the vote for everyone – but the elections to be essentially FAKE, as the professional “experts” (people like James Mill and J.S. Mill) would really control everything regardless of who won the election – via a professional Civil Service and “education”.
And the land owners?
The people who the Old Whigs had rightly understood to be the foundation of liberty against the danger of an all mighty state.
The Westminster Review crowd Bentham’s bastard “liberal” children HATED the land owners as the “landed interest” – they wanted “free trade in land”, presented as the end of entails and so on, but really a Trojan Horse for land nationalisation.
For the domination of the STATE over land – as with the Ottoman Empire (and justified by the economics of David Ricardo – refuted by Frank Fetter).
This is the “little” secret behind the “liberalism” of Bentham and the Mills.
It is a “democratic” door way into the all mighty state of the Ottoman Empire – but without Islam.
Instead of Allah it is the state (the “scientific” “liberal” state) that would be worshipped – as long as it was controlled by “enlightened” experts (themselves) serving “the greatest good of the greatest number”.
Yes the above is unfair to the Mills – they (especially J.S. Mill) did have a real believe in freedom of speech and so on.
But they have no philosophy to back it up their belief in freedom of speech – the attempt to of J.S. Mill to reconcile his (sincere) belief in Freedom of Speech with his support for the unlimited New State (with an end to the “landed interest” and so on) is a terrible failure.
It is not “just” a lack of faith in God – it is the lack of any faith in any higher law (one can believe in natural justice without believing in God). Legal Positivism – the idea that the state has no foundational limits and that “law” is just the will of the ruler or rulers.
That is at the heart of the new “liberalism” – and it is what Mill (and modern “liberals”) get from Bentham, and he got from Thomas Bacon and Francis Bacon.
And Bentham (where ever you are) please note – this Legal Positivism is at the heart of the French Revolution you said you opposed.
Rousseau is not so different from Hobbes as people imagine – indeed they share fundamental principles.
The King (or rather despot) of Hobbes is like the “Lawgiver” or “the people” of Rousseau – there are no limits on their power.
The land of the Church (or individuals) can be looted by such a state and given to anyone they feel like giving it to.
Edmund Burke was correct – the “freedom” of the French Revolution was just old slavery in disguise.
The French Revolutionary regime was much the same as the despotism of the Ottoman Empire.
And so is an aspect (a side) of the new “liberalism” today.
And note this:
Religion is not actually the key point here.
For example Martin Luther was sincerely religious – but he embraced determinist philosophy and collectivist politics.
The Anglican position is (or was) fundamentally different – due to the influence of Richard Hooker and others.
And Ayn Rand was a passionate atheist (a mocker of silly religious people – people like me).
Yet Rand was also a passionate defender of humans as beings (agents – not the flesh robots of Martin Luther and Thomas Hobbes) and of natural justice.