For who would want to choose by rule?
During my lifetime the private citizen has been driven to the edge of extinction. As with so much government activity this has happened entirely by stealth. For example, this recent claim that obesity should be classified as a disease.
Obesity should be recognised as a "disease" rather than a lifestyle choice, leading doctors say.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said action to tackle excess weight was more likely to be successful if the problem was treated as one caused by environmental and social factors, rather than by individual greed.
In spite of some semi-fashionable attempts to suggest otherwise, it is easy enough to imagine that most obese folk have no great desire to be obese. In other words obesity is not usually a lifestyle choice – that much seems obvious enough.
Equally obvious is the constant political pressure to be seen to do something about every headline. Classifying obesity as a disease comes under that heading - the politics of conspicuous official involvement. It takes away yet another area of personal responsibility. In so doing it chips away at any possibility that there could even be such a thing as a private citizen.
Yes as Dostoevsky suggests – who would want to choose by rule? That isn't personal responsibility. Rules narrow, restrict or even remove choice and what are the longer term penalties from going down that route? How do we draw lines between official meddling and personal responsibility – where does personal choice become personal?
How do we halt the relentless and ultimately totalitarian politics of conspicuous official involvement? Because it is relentless and it is totalitarian. This choice is stark – breathe some life into the private citizen or the private citizen disappears even as an ideal.
Of course ultimately the ideal of the private citizen probably will be revived. But only for the elites.