Monthly Archives: December 2010

Thomas Jefferson on gun control


David Davis

I quote:-

Carrying of arms

Jefferson copied many excerpts from the various books he read into his “Legal Commonplace Book.”[82] One passage he copied which touches on gun control was from Cesare Beccaria‘s Essay on Crimes and Punishments. The passage, which is written in Italian, discusses the “false idea of utility” (false idee di utilità) which Beccaria saw as underlying some laws. It can be translated, in part, as:

A principal source of errors and injustice are false ideas of utility. For example: that legislator has false ideas of utility … who would deprive men of the use of fire for fear of their being burnt, and of water for fear of their being drowned; and who knows of no means of preventing evil but by destroying it.

The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. … It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons.[83]

Jefferson’s only notation was, “False idee di utilità.”[83] It isn’t known whether Jefferson agreed with the example Beccaria used, or with the general idea, or if he had some other reason for copying the passage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson

What an extraordinarily articulate and educated man this was: I never knew. You learn something new and exciting every day, as you get older and older – I only looked him up out of interest as I was arguing with a student about the exact contents of the USA’s Declaration of Independence.

A re-arrangement of the deckchairs


David Davis

Estonia, strangely, is going to join a sinking currency.

Bradley Manning: One Soldier Who Really Did “Defend Our Freedom”, by Kevin Carson


Kevin Carson

http://c4ss.org/?p=5587

When I hear someone say that soldiers “defend our freedom,” my immediate response is to gag. I think the last time American soldiers actually fought for the freedom of Americans was probably the Revolutionary War — or maybe the War of 1812, if you want to be generous. Every war since then has been for nothing but to uphold a system of power, and to make the rich folks even richer.

But I can think of one exception. If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning is frequently portrayed, among the knuckle-draggers on right-wing message boards, as some sort of spoiled brat or ingrate, acting on an adolescent whim. But that’s not quite what happened, according to Johann Hari (“The under-appreciated heroes of 2010,” The Independent, Dec. 24).

Manning, like many young soldiers, joined up in the naive belief that he was defending the freedom of his fellow Americans. When he got to Iraq, he found himself working under orders “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians to America’s new Iraqi allies, who he could see were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.” The people he arrested, and handed over for torture, were guilty of such “crimes” as writing “scholarly critiques” of the U.S. occupation forces and its puppet government. When he expressed his moral reservations to his supervisor, Manning “was told to shut up and get back to herding up Iraqis.”

The people Manning saw tortured, by the way, were frequently the very same people who had been tortured by Saddam: trade unionists, members of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, and other freedom-loving people who had no more use for Halliburton and Blackwater than they had for the Baath Party.

For exposing his government’s crimes against humanity, Manning has spent seven months in solitary confinement – a torture deliberately calculated to break the human mind.

We see a lot of “serious thinkers” on the op-ed pages and talking head shows, people like David Gergen, Chris Matthews and Michael Kinsley, going on about all the stuff that Manning’s leaks have impaired the ability of “our government” to do.

He’s impaired the ability of the U.S. government to conduct diplomacy in pursuit of some fabled “national interest” that I supposedly have in common with Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Disney. He’s risked untold numbers of innocent lives, according to the very same people who have ordered the deaths of untold thousands of innocent people. According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Manning’s exposure of secret U.S. collusion with authoritarian governments in the Middle East, to promote policies that their peoples would find abhorrent, undermines America’s ability to promote “democracy, open government, and free and open societies.”

But I’ll tell you what Manning’s really impaired government’s ability to do.

He’s impaired the U.S. government’s ability to lie us into wars where thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of foreigners are murdered.

He’s impaired its ability to use such wars — under the guise of promoting “democracy” — to install puppet governments like the Coalition Provisional Authority, that will rubber stamp neoliberal “free trade” agreements (including harsh “intellectual property” provisions written by the proprietary content industries) and cut special deals with American crony capitalists.

He’s impaired its ability to seize good, decent people who — unlike most soldiers — really are fighting for freedom, and hand them over to thuggish governments for torture with power tools.

Let’s get something straight. Bradley Manning may be a criminal by the standards of the American state. But by all human standards of morality, the government and its functionaries that Manning exposed to the light of day are criminals. And Manning is a hero of freedom for doing it.

So if you’re one of the authoritarian state-worshippers, one of the grovelling sycophants of power, who are cheering on Manning’s punishment and calling for even harsher treatment, all I can say is that you’d probably have been there at the crucifixion urging Pontius Pilate to lay the lashes on a little harder. You’d have told the Nazis where Anne Frank was hiding. You’re unworthy of the freedoms which so many heroes and martyrs throughout history — heroes like Bradley Manning — have fought to give you.

Release — Wasted: Carson on the Political Class versus Leisure


I hope KC is right – SIG
http://c4ss.org/?p=5585

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12/29/10
POC Thomas L. Knapp
media
530-618-C4SS

WASTED: CARSON ON THE POLITICAL CLASS VERSUS LEISURE

Per the conventional wisdom, big government and high tax rates reduce the incentive to work. And that may be true — to a degree. But, shows Center for a Stateless Society Research Associate Kevin Carson in a new research study, the modern corporate capitalist economic paradigm utilizes an ethos of waste to enrich the privileged by artificially promoting work over leisure.

“The historical evidence,” writes Carson in “The Great Domain of Cost-Plus: The Waste Production Economy,” “is that people do indeed prefer, on the whole, to work less when their wages increase. Therefore it makes perfect sense from the employer’s standpoint to extract more labor from people by reducing the share of their output that they keep, and by compelling them to support idle rentiers in addition to themselves.”

Carson traces overt political class propaganda on the need to increase the portion of labor earnings extracted as rent to at least as far back as Bernard Mandeville’s 18th-century _Fable of the Bees_. Wrote Mandeville:

“[I]t is the interest of all rich nations, that the greatest part of the poor should almost never be idle, and yet continually spend what they get …. Those that get their living by their daily labour … have nothing to stir them up to be serviceable but their wants which it is prudence to relieve, but folly to cure …”

Or, as the anonymous author of 1770s “Essay on Trade and Commerce” put it:

“[O]ur manufacturing populace … do not labour, upon an average, above four days in a week, unless provisions happen to be very dear. … The labouring people should never think themselves independent of their superiors …. The cure will not be perfect, till our manufacturing poor are contented to labour six days for the same sum which they now earn in four days.”

But, writes Carson, there’s good news for today’s workers: “[T]he ability to manufacture scarcity does not follow from the need. The rentiers and managers are confronting the harsh reality of their increasing inability to manufacture scarcity. The productivity of new technologies of abundance is outstripping their ability to suppress them.”

By reducing scarcities long artificially maintained through political force, the new economic paradigm — horizontally networked distribution and what Carson calls “the Homebrew Industrial Revolution” in production in a book so named — is pushing the political class into obsolescence.

-30-
about 390 words

The Great Domain of Cost-Plus: The Waste Production Economy

http://c4ss.org/content/5580

Paul Marks agrees


David Davis

…about the left’s hegemonic control of education, schools and the Universities, and what needs to be broken or else we are in a New Dark Age.

Attack Tyranny at Its Weakest Link — Enforcement, by Kevin Carson


http://c4ss.org/?p=5564

Liberal goo-goos and “good citizens” of all stripes are fond of saying that “We must continue to obey the law while we work to change it.” Every day I become more convinced that this approach gets things precisely backwards. Each day’s news demonstrates the futility of attempts at legislative reform, compared to direct action to make the laws unenforceable.

The principle was stated most effectively by Charles Johnson, one of the more prominent writers on the libertarian Left (“Counter-economic Optimism,” Rad Geek People’s Daily, Feb. 7, 2009):

“If you put all your hope for social change in legal reform … then … you will find yourself outmaneuvered at every turn by those who have the deepest pockets and the best media access and the tightest connections. There is no hope for turning this system against them; because, after all, the system was made for them and the system was made by them. Reformist political campaigns inevitably turn out to suck a lot of time and money into the politics—with just about none of the reform coming out on the other end.”

Far greater success can be achieved, at a tiny fraction of the cost, by “bypassing those laws and making them irrelevant to your life.”

Johnson wrote in the immediate context of copyright law. In response to an anti-copyright blogger who closed up shop in despair over the increasingly draconian nature of copyright law, he pointed to the state’s imploding ability to enforce such laws. The DRM of popular music and movie content is typically cracked within hours of its release, and it becomes freely available for torrent download. Ever harsher surveillance by ISPs in collusion with content “owners” is countered by the use of anonymizers and proxies. And the all-pervasive “anti-songlifting” curriculum in the publik skools, in today’s youth culture, is met with the same incredulous hilarity as a showing of “Reefer Madness” to a bunch of potheads.

The weakest link in any legal regime, no matter how repressive on paper, is its enforcement.

I saw a couple of heartening news items this past week that illustrate the same principle. First, a judge in Missoula County Montana complained that it would soon likely become almost impossible to enforce anti-marijuana laws because of the increasing difficulty of seating juries. In a recent drug case, so many potential jurors in the voir dire process declared their unwillingness to enforce the pot laws that the prosecution chose to work out a plea deal instead. The defendant’s attorney stated that public opinion “is not supportive of the state’s marijuana law and appeared to prevent any conviction from being obtained simply because an unbiased jury did not appear available under any circumstances …” The same thing happened in about sixty percent of alcohol cases under Prohibition.

Public agitation against a law may be very fruitful indeed — but not so much by creating pressure to change the law as by creating a climate of public opinion such that it becomes a dead letter.

Another morale booster is the rapidly improving technology for recording cops, which Radley Balko (a journalist whose chief bailiwick is police misbehavior) describes in the January issue of Reason Magazine (“How to Record the Cops“). Miniaturized, unobtrusive video cameras with upload capability can instantly transmit images for storage offsite or stream content directly to the Internet — which means that the all-too-frequent tendency of thuggish cops to seize or destroy cameras will result only in video of the very act of seizure or destruction itself being widely distributed on the Internet. “Smile, Officer Friendly — you’re on Candid Camera!”

The practical implication, according to Balko, is this:

“Prior to this technology, prosecutors and the courts nearly always deferred to the police narrative. Now that narrative has to be consistent with independently recorded evidence. And as examples of police reports contradicted by video become increasingly common, a couple of things are likely to happen: Prosecutors and courts will be less inclined to uncritically accept police testimony, even in cases where there is no video, and bad cops will be deterred by the knowledge that their misconduct is apt to be recorded.”

As such technology becomes cheap and ubiquitous, police will increasingly operate in an atmosphere where such monitoring is expected — and feared — as a routine part of their job. Even the most stupid and brutal of cops will always carry, in the backs of their minds, the significant possibility that this might be one of the times they’ve got an audience.

New technology, empowering the individual, will soon deter cops in a way that decades of civilian review boards and police commissions failed to achieve.

So the goo-goos have it backwards. Don’t waste time trying to change the law. Just disobey it.

Smoking bans, and not


Michael Winning

Over at Samizdata there is a discussion going on about different smking bans in different European countries. The Spanish solution seems good to me, if you have to have the State interfering at all in what people put into their bodies.