These five quotes are from a speech delivered on 13 October 2022 in Australia by The Right Honourable Lord Jonathan Sumption, former senior judge of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

They go to explaining how our citizens invite authoritarianism, the cost of this, and what has held back despotism to date …

“In modern conditions, risk-aversion and the fear that goes with it are a standing invitation to authoritarian government”

“If we hold governments responsible for everything that goes wrong, they will take away our autonomy so that nothing can go wrong.”

“If we demand from the state protection from risks which are inherent in life itself, then the state’s measures will necessarily involve the suppression of some part of life itself.”

“The quest for security at the price of coercion and state intervention is a feature of democratic politics”

“It has only ever been culture and convention which prevented governments from adopting a totalitarian model. But culture and convention are fragile. They take years to form but can be destroyed very quickly. Once you discard them, there is no barrier left, the spell is broken. If something is unthinkable until somebody in authority thinks of it, then the psycological barriers which have always been our main protection against despotism have vanished.”

Our culture is becoming more risk-averse. Fear of risk grows. We’re apparently losing our grit, tenacity and adventurous spirit to manage our own risk. This manifests as a culture going soft with high-expectations that government will molly-coddle.

What then for us? How do we push back?

One fresh idea will be revealed on Liberty Itch this Thursday.

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