In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

In Defence of Freedom of Association

Without freedom of association, we are alone. (Edited: familymwr)

Without freedom of association, we are alone. (Edited: familymwr)

The right to peacefully assemble and associate is one of the most important rights in any democratic society.

The freedom of association allows us join or leave groups, to pursue our own political objectives, in concert with others, as well as our interests and hobbies.

With freedom of association, there is voluntary solidarity; without it, there is arbitrary solitary.

It is often the target of despotic regimes, because it is a source of power and organisation besides the government.

The Mustafa System

Whilst these are the ideals, it should be examined what the freedom of association should mean in practice.

The welfare and diversity officer of Goldsmiths Students’ Union Bahar Mustafa induced much online consternation and commination.

On Facebook, Ms Mustafa asked white people not to attend an event for ethnic minority and transgender students, on diversity issues in the curriculum.

The aim of this event, to see what problems these specific students are having, is eminently justifiable.

This event has been misconceived by commentators as a form of segregation.

For instance, Ian Dunt, the editor of politics.co.uk wrote:

How did it end up defending gender and racial segregation on a university campus?

Segregation is the separation of citizens, usually on the basis of race or gender, in their daily lives. The European Commission iterates:

Segregation is the act by which a (natural or legal) person separates other persons on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds without an objective and reasonable justification, in conformity with the proposed definition of discrimination. As a result, the voluntary act of separating oneself from other persons on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds does not constitute segregation.

Such a meeting, meant to explore problems at university for particular sets of students, is defendable under the freedom of association.

The Associations We Find Despicable

In 2010, the far-right British National Party (BNP), offering voters a potent cocktail of ethnic nationalism and economic protectionism, were forced to change their membership policy.

Up until this point, the BNP had only permitted “indigenous British” people to join.

With freedom of speech, it is not the speech that we agree with that tests us, but the speech we find despicable.

With freedom of association, it is not the associations that we agree with that tests us, but the associations we find despicable.

The Only Guarantee

If white nationalists wish to politically organise on that basis, and do so peacefully, the law should not interfere.

Those who oppose their philosophy are also free to associate, and to work to counteract their influence, just as we do for other philosophies we disagree with.

A law restricting such freedoms would mean legislation deciding who may coalesce and who must separate, open to waxing and waning of interpretations and judicial evolution, dependent on context and present societal attitudes.

It cannot be guaranteed, extending to the future, that our preferred groups would not fail these legal tests.

The only guarantee is the freedom of association, protecting all who wish organise groups peacefully: libertarians, conservatives, social democrats, bakers, gamers, everyone.

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This entry was posted on May 28, 2015 by in National Politics and tagged , , , .
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