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« Christopher Hitchens: A War To Be Proud Of | Main | Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Britain could soon be Europe's sick man again »


Selsdon Man

That article is biggest load of tosh I have read on TechCentralStation. The author clearly has not read Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Both Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick dealt with theft and morals extensively in their writings. Rand's novels and books are littered with references to "looters".

Rand and Nozick were both advocates of natural rights theory and a minimal state. They regarded the state as biggest thief of all. Their philosophy was totally different to John Rawls.

It is big government that has led to the immorality. People are used to getting there "benefits" from the welfare state that takes the money from citizens by force. When that disappeared, the looters decided to by-pass the government.

Don't blame Adam Smith - blame the socialists and the left.

Michael Ehioze-Ediae

Although, I share the views of Robert Nozick on the need for a limited state, I also recognise that his theory would be impractical because there would not be enough property to go round.Further, his theory of rectificatory just would be difficult to apply.
However, I agree with Christopher hitchens. The reason for this moral breakdown is to do with lack of moral education and not the welfare state. After all,some people grew up in large families where those with money distribute food and money to their poorer family members. This even created a sense of community and shared responsibility and not greed and theft.

Selsdon Man

I agree that moral education is also necessary. It is not just the welfare state that is to blame. There is a culture of envy that disparages success and encourages people to believe that they are entitled to fruits of others' labour.

BTW, I too like Robert Nozick - such a sad loss. Rand was entertaining but, philosophically and personally she was inconsistent. Her books, however, attract a lot of people to libertarianism (which, ironically, she despised).

Mark O'Brien

If humankind's primordial instinct is theft and the kind of behaviour going on New Orleans, then that begs the question why was the opposite kind of behaviour the prevailing memory of the response of New Yorkers to the September 11th attacks? Are the people of the Deep South less evolved?! Are New Yorkers above the status of human beings?! Maybe because the attacks on New York were examples of moral evil, carried out by other people, New Yorkers felt they had to rise above their level, but because Hurricane Katrina amounts to natural evil, there is no such desire! (If there's ever a time for crackpot theories, ladies and gentlemen, now is the time!!)

Perhaps the instinct of some is to thieve and commit acts we consider criminal, not just in our laws but in our hearts and minds too. But many more of us respond to danger with courage and fortitude.

Selsdon Man

Mark, don't take this article too seriously. It was, it seems, a disreputable attempt by a social (or neo) conservative to use the Katrina tragedy to rubbish Nozick and Rand. That is truly immoral.


Although if you watched TV you'd think the New Orleans was the only place the hurricane hit, Katrina actually hit the Gulf Coast of Mississippi much harder than it did New Orleans. But there are no stories of widespread looting in Mississippi. Because Mississippi has a Republican Governor, Haley Barbour, who sent in troops with orders to use force, whereas New Orleans's mayor and Louisiana's governor (both Democrats) didn't.


It is necessary to differentiate between those truly involved in lawlessness and those looting to survive. In my view the latter are victims not criminals.

Selsdon Man

Well said AnotherNick.

It is, however, amazing and repulsive that people having raping and killing other victims in New Orleans. Bruce's point about the difference between Mississippi and New Orleans is excellent. This is down to political leadership rather than race.


A large part of it is political leadership. However, in New Orleans, race determines political leadership. The city is 2/3 Black, and Blacks vote 90% Democrat. The Whites (and law-abiding Blacks) have largely moved out of the city, due to Black-committed crime, and have flocked to the suburbs, which were just as hard hit by the hurricane but where there's not been any major looting. Most people there own guns and guard their property themselves.

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