Monthly Archives: February 2011

Technical question about Drupal


by Sean Gabb

I have two questions for anyone inclined to answer them. I like the CTI-Flex sub-Theme of Zen, and want to create some specific effects.

1. I want to create a page template – to go in the “Create Content” menu – called Essays. Every time I click on this, I want to open into a page that already has a grey box in the top right corner saying “click here to view/print pdf”. I want this so set up that I simply need to enter the name of the pdf file, not the full location.

2. I want to create a Primary Menu, to sit on a horizontal top bar. This will consist of links such as Home, Essays, Recipes, All, etc. When It hit on Home, I want both sidebars to disappear. When I hit on Essays, I want a Taxonomy View index of articles to appear. When I hit on Recipes, I want the same for recipes. When I it on All, I want a Taxonomy View index of everything.

Is there anyone listening who is able to help?

Taxing corporate profits


dj

I am increasingly of the view that corporation tax, as long as it exists (of course libertarians would aim to delete all such taxes, but that could well take some time), plays a wholly negative role in penalising corporate success. Companies that are inefficiently run pay little, but those that are well run and could create wealth and jobs pay more. Moreover, we read in the UK that some large banks manage to pay little on their large earnings, owing to losses brought forward and an array of offshore vehicles, and even that some large newspaper corporations pay almost no tax in the UK.

A profit tax is a ridiculous concept in an economy that wants to grow. I would replace these by a business turnover tax. Quite simply, no losses would be brought forward, no profits would be calculated. The tax would simply be a percentage of turnover. So all banks would pay it at the set rate; so would all newspaper corporations. Inefficient companies would have to pay it, and some could be forced into receivership by having to pay more than now; but the profitable would find they paid less. By keeping their costs down, and given that no calculation of profit or earnings would be made, they would find they paid less by simply paying a percentage of turnover.

Finally, all companies would pay on their UK turnover, so offshore financial vehicles and the like would not reduce their liabilities, thus lowering the burden on the companies that currently pay corporation tax. Accountancy costs would be lowered by the elimination of profit/loss as a basis for payment.

Gay-only Bed & Breakfast Establishments Probed by Equality Commission


http://www.christian.org.uk/news/gay-only-bbs-probed-by-equality-commission/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+christianinstitute+(The+Christian+Institute)

Comment by Iain Ross-MacLeod LMPA

Where on earth are these people going with this silly investigations?

There are homosexual bed-and-breakfast houses purely and simply to save the heterosexual people from becoming vexed by the behaviour that they might find offensive taking place.

One cannot go around in a heterosexual establishment entering the bedrooms of others who have left their doors open seeking fulfilment, and only for that purpose, with any degree of safety or comfort for it is not the convention to do so in this country as yet.

People do not go to exclusively heterosexual bed and breakfasts establishments seeking sexual activity as these nocturnal indulgences are inclined almost exclusively to homosexual establishments a number of which are there for that purpose.

It has always been the case from my earliest days in Portsmouth circa 1960 and in the London naval clubs near Waterloo station that service personnel would leave their doors open at night if they wish to be entertained and if they did they would lock them.

When there is a gay bed and breakfast in an area the people who are running it usually apply common sense and don’t allow people who may be offended by gay behaviour to stroll around casually in their corridors. Not all gay bed-and-breakfast establishments allow this sort of freedom in any case. Some are very conventional and they don’t encourage promiscuity on their premises at all.

The same applies to gay bars where sex takes place. There are many gay bars in London, and there may be in the provincial cities as well for all I know all I know. Sex will often take place in the back-room or in a ‘dark room’ and it is no place for heterosexual people to be lounging around behaving like voyeurs. The door policy should certainly be to keep out heterosexuals and all those people who have no interest in gay sex as much as possible. That is the way to keep the place trouble-free and safe for those that wish to come in and, perceive, partake or perform.

Surely equal opportunities does not mean forcing people to be exposed to those who do not wish to join in with or tolerate their behaviour but for purely there for other purposes

Perhaps we are going the same way as the Eastern countries. I have just returned from the Philippines where previously in gay bars where sex took place the audience mainly consisted of men who came in to watch rather than to participate. Certainly there was the odd woman who might have been the friend of some gay people or the like. However recently a gay bar in the Philippines allows Korean girls in to suck the cocks of the of the gay boys as they are wandering around on the stage.

Conspiracies of Rome – Richard Blake « Thouroughly thought through


 

Conspiracies of Rome – Richard Blake

Regularly I find myself reading a book of undoubted literary genius. The characters are fascinating, the plot is so juicy you could make a fruit salad from it and it has all the makings of a classic that will survive the transitory nature of time. However, there is a rather large issue weighing on my mind. A hippo, if you will, has plonked itself unceremoniously in the back of my waking thoughts. This problem is as follows; it has taken three sodding weeks to read ten pages of this lexical masterpiece.

You know exactly what I mean, we’ve all experienced it. The dreaded “heavy read”. What is most annoying is that because we know what a rip roaring, snort wangling read it is, we feel guilty (or just plain moronic) for not being able to plough on through and then add it to the list of books we can boast about having read to our lesser read acquaintances.

This is more irritating than a mosquito that has a distinct smell of vinegar. Very unpalatable i’m sure you will agree. But I am here to assure that you no longer have to feel that sense of gnawing guilt as you slam the book down unceremoniously and get out the FHM magazine. There is another way!
Reading is, after all, about enjoying yourself whilst not having the distractions of people making life excessively complicated for you.

Conspiracies of Rome by Richard Blake and the sequel in the series entitled The Terror of Constantinople represent this alternative. Historical fiction can sometimes be sniffed upon the same as when your pet dog plants his most intimate business in the middle of your Persian rug. They are truly enjoyable to read, and if you’ve had this beaten out of you by some vague sense of responsibility to read Nietzsche and Thucydides every week then this is the perfect cure.

Set in the period following the decimation of the Roman Empire and the ascension of the Roman Church a young Briton named Aelric stumbles rather haphazardly into a series of events that see him traveling to Rome. The plot uncovers, as the title suggests, various conspiracies coming from several different directions. Through a combination of luck, naivety and the fact that he looks “gorgeous” (according to himself) he navigates his way through the machinations of the Roman Church and a secret organization called the Column of Phocas.

It has whit in abundance, along with a good amount of action, some intriguingly gory details and is sprinkled quite pleasantly with some legitimate wisdom, if you keep your eyes open for it.

The second book is full of the same qualities but the storyline is much more available for the whit that has brief showings in the first volume. Character wise The Terror of Constantinople (which is set in the middle of a civil war in the Eastern Roman Empire) is infinitely superior. It also contains the phrase “necrophiliac fist job” which, frankly, should have you all sold on it.

Admittedly there is a problem with books of this particular genre. They tend to be written by the academic types, professors of Classics and various posts along those lines. Sometimes it is glaringly obvious that they have slipped back into academic mode and the story can stagnate somewhat. For instance when Blake describes the hippodrome in Constantinople he gives a description which is down to the inch, which seems slightly show offy and unnecessary in my book. But these deviations from storyteller to student borer are extremely rare and the chances are you may not even notice it.

Both books have a nostalgic atmosphere to them, in that they describe with harrowing detail the decimation and decline of the Roman Empire. What was once the beacon of the civilized world is by now a slum with all the majesty of the past ripped away by an overly powerful and corrupt church. Whether this is an intentional colouring by the author or a representation of history and how Europe slipped into the dark ages during the domination of the church, I will leave for you to ponder upon.

Nevertheless, if you find yourselves wanting to read a book in a couple of days without giving you a stomach ulcer from the stress of reading it, then I strongly recommend these two thoroughly enjoyable books. Incidentally the third book in the series is also available, and is set in Alexandria.
But for now, content yourself with the first two. Stop being boring and reading obscure South American Literature. Branch out, read a book that does not a take a doctorate to read and actually remind yourself what a thoroughly entertaining read is all about.

Conspiracies of Rome – Richard Blake « Thouroughly thought through

Beware of electric hummingbirds, in a town near you


David Davis

I just spotted this:-

http://www.avinc.com/nano

They might be owned and run by the government. In fact it’s the most probable conclusion.

Apologies to David Thompson – I forgot to say it was seen here….

The power of free association: Libertarian unionism | The Economist


 

The power of free association: Libertarian unionism | The Economist

Kevin Carson quoted in The Economist:

I’VE repeatedly argued that private- and public-sector unions operate in different institutional settings, raise fundamentally different moral and political questions, and that it is altogether reasonable to support private-sector unions while rejecting public-sector unions on account of the nature of their differences. A common response I’ve heard from the left is that I’m slyly seeking to sow discord by disingenuously arguing that the larger union movement is not in fact one, but is instead a coalition of fundamentally distinct organisations of unequal moral standing. A common response I’ve heard from the right is basically the same: "you don’t really support private-sector unionism, do you"?

Well, I do. Sort of. It’s complicated because American labour law is complicated.

The right of workers to band together to improve their bargaining position relative to employers is a straightforward implication of freedom of association, and the sort of voluntary association that results is the beating heart of the classical liberal vision of civil society. I unreservedly endorse what I’ll call the "unionism of free association". My difficulty in coming out wholeheartedly for private-sector unions as they now exist is that they are, by and large, creatures of objectionable statutes which have badly warped the labour-capital power dynamic that would exist under the unionism of free association.

Progressives and libertarians generally part ways on the justifiability of legislation that boosts the bargaining power of unions. Progressives generally think, not implausibly, that government has already put a thumb on the scale in favour of employers through the legal definition of the character and powers of the corporation, such that it is manifestly unjust for government to fail to put an equalising thumb on the scale in favour of unions. For now I only want to say that I think there is indeed a plausible case for government stepping in to help strengthen workers’ bargaining power when inequalities in such power (often created by law and legislation) lead to a systemically unfair division of the gains from productive cooperation. I don’t think the same plausible case applies to public-sector unions for reasons I’ve recited ad nauseam

So, do circumstances merit a further statutory boost for private-sector unions? I don’t know. Rather than become mired in largely intractable metaphysical disputes over fairness of the division of the cooperative surplus, which we would need to do in order to determine whether government should do more to augment union power, I believe it would be much more productive to focus on the ways in which the prevailing legal regime clearly handicaps labour relative to the power unions would have under conditions of free association. I heartily agree with Kevin Carson, a left-libertarian theorist and activist, when he argues that:

[T]he room for change lies mainly, not with adding further economic intervention to aid labor at the expense of capital, but rather with eliminating those policies which currently benefit capital at the expense of labor. The question is not what new laws would strengthen the bargaining power of labor, but which existing ones weaken it. …

The most obvious forms of state intervention that hobble labor are legislation like:

1) The provisions of Taft-Hartley which criminalize sympathy and boycott strikes;

2) The Railway Labor Relations Act and the “cooling off” provisions of Taft-Hartley, which enable the government to prevent a strike from spreading to common carriers and thus becoming a general strike; and

3) “Right-to-Work” (sic) laws, which restrict the freedom of contract by forbidding employers to enter into union shop contracts with a bargaining agent.

Further, we should examine the extent to which even ostensibly pro-labor laws, like the Wagner Act, have served in practice to weaken the bargaining power of labor. Before Wagner, what is today regarded as the conventional strike—an announced walkout associated with a formal ultimatum—was only one tactic among many used by unions.

Mr Carson then goes on to enumerate some of those now-rare tactics, which, taken together, add up to a compelling case that a return to the unionism of free association would improve the bargaining position of labour relative to the status quo. 

It is in this light that I wish to join the Washington Examiner‘s Tim Carney in congratulating Mitch Daniels for his opposition to the "right-to-work" legislation proposed by Indiana Republicans. Presidential, indeed.

London Zoo and the global warming religion


by Robert Henderson
http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/?p=693

London Zoo has the precious piece of warmist propaganda cited below plastered all over the zoo. (I reproduce as it appears in the Zoo, the illiteracies and capitalisation being their own).

“ 350 – THE MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER IN THE WORLD

350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is the safe upper limit for almost all life

We are currently at 387 ppm and rising by 2ppm per year, higher than at any time in human history

SO WHAT?

The wild relatives of the amazing animals you see in the zoo today are already at risk from:

Melting poles and glaciers

Rising sea levels

Spread of disease carrying mosquitoes to move, warmer places

Increased drought

Warming and acidifying oceans carbonising coral reefs and other species to extinction

In fact, all life, including life is at peril

The World Association of Zoos and Aquaria supports the urgent call to stabilise atmospheric CO2 as far below 350 ppm as is possible

JOIN US

Visit www.waza.org and 350.0rg “

CO2 is currently “higher than at any time in human history, eh? Well, maybe, but even that fact is far from certain. Take this article in Nature in 2000:

‘Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years

Paul N. Pearson1 & Martin R. Palmer2

1.Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK

2.T. H. Huxley School, Imperial College, RSM Building, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BP, UK

“Knowledge of the evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations throughout the Earth’s history is important for a reconstruction of the links between climate and radiative forcing of the Earth’s surface temperatures. Although atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the early Cenozoic era (about 60 Myr ago) are widely believed to have been higher than at present, there is disagreement regarding the exact carbon dioxide levels, the timing of the decline and the mechanisms that are most important for the control of CO2 concentrations over geological timescales. Here we use the boron-isotope ratios of ancient planktonic foraminifer shells to estimate the pH of surface-layer sea water throughout the past 60 million years, which can be used to reconstruct atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We estimate CO2 concentrations of more than 2,000 p.p.m. for the late Palaeocene and earliest Eocene periods (from about 60 to 52 Myr ago), and find an erratic decline between 55 and 40 Myr ago that may have been caused by reduced CO2 outgassing from ocean ridges, volcanoes and metamorphic belts and increased carbon burial. Since the early Miocene (about 24 Myr ago), atmospheric CO2 concentrations appear to have remained below 500 p.p.m. and were more stable than before, although transient intervals of CO2 reduction may have occurred during periods of rapid cooling approximately 15 and 3 Myr ago.”’ http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v406/n6797/abs/406695a0.html

That is saying that CO2 levels are thought to have remained below 500 ppm for 24 million years or so. That means fully fledged mammals have survived happily enough at higher concentrations than 350 ppm and in the not too distant geological past before that date, proto mammals and of course organic life in general managed to get along with a massive 2,000 ppm of CO2.

The other thing to note is the failure to make any mention of the other main greenhouse gases water vapour (the most prevalent greenhouse gas) and methane. This is a common turning of a blind eye by the warmist religionists. In the case of water vapour they do this because little can be done about reducing it, and in as much as man is responsible for producing water vapour, a great deal results from the creation of paddyfields , something which is done overwhelmingly by developing nations so political correctness kicks in to produce silence amongst Western elites. It is also very inconvenient for the man-made warming argument to have to admit that the most prevalent greenhouse gas is effectively beyond human control. As for methane, that also has a politically direct dimension because paddyfields produce a large amount of the gas.

I particularly enjoyed the plea to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere “as far below 350 ppm as is possible. “ Reduce it very substantially and, others things being equal, we would be heading for an ice age or even an earth which became a permanent snowball. The plea also ignores the fact that CO2 is plant food. Lower CO2 levels means less vegetation which means fewer animals. Atmospheric greenhouse gases including CO2 are necessary to maintain the planet in a state in which humans can live.

What this crass piece of warmist propaganda shows is how closed are the minds of the warmists and how determined they are to proselytise their creed without any regard for logic or scientific research which undermines their case .

In Libya and Elsewhere, the State Depends on Submission


by David D’Amato
http://c4ss.org/?p=6239

Citing “the law of equal freedom” that binds all human institutions, Herbert Spencer wrote in 1851 of “the right to ignore the state” — of “the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry.” For Spencer, the goal was to stimulate “voluntary co-operation” and promote the enlargement of “the area within which each citizen may act unchecked.”

Today in Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya, free individuals, having awoken to the proposition that state power depends on their submission, are disobeying the despotic orders of the political class. In the face of savage violence and the stark disregard of their pleas for freedom, people in these countries continue to gather together in audacious defiance of those who call themselves rulers.

As reported by The New York Times, Libya’s dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who came to power in 1969, has responded to protests with “a vague package of reforms, potentially including a new flag, national anthem and confederate structure.” Unfortunately for Qaddafi and his ilk of degenerate tyrants, though, desultory references to empty “reforms” will not fulfill the aspirations of people who have, for generations, endured the oppression of a tiny elite.

In places like Bahrain and Libya, the state and its attendants have secluded themselves in the lap of luxury, cordoning off valuable natural resources like oil for the personal benefit of those in the close orbit of the central state. Conditions in Libya are an especially descriptive example of the ways that statist restrictions monopolize resources for slothful corporate and political officials; in that country, though it has — due to its oil sector — one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, most of the population withstands a crushing poverty that relegates them to the margins of survival.

Similarly, in Bahrain, which enjoys the first ever “free trade” agreement between the United States and a Persian Gulf nation, a garish corporate elite closely entwined with the monarchic state loots the wealth of society. State-owned companies like Bahrain’s Gulf Air devour huge “loans” covered by the Bahraini worker, the firm hemorrhaging money while its CEOs put their feet up. When the Yemeni state began to fret that the oil was drying up, it was time to escalate its partnership with the U.S. in the “war on terror,” a prime source of U.S. taxpayer millions.

Political elites are eager to latch onto the empire, relinquishing the “sovereignty” they supposedly cherish, when the role of American outpost brings a $300 million payday for politicians and their friends. Unemployment and destitution, long ignored by a state-corporate aristocracy in the Middle East and Northern Africa, have taken their toll.

These countries’ productive majorities are no longer content to prop up and underwrite the dissolute culture of their “leaders,” to work their fingers to the bone while palace parties rage in their capital cities. The truth that statism tries so desperately to muffle is that we are all Yemenis, Bahrainis, Libyans and Algerians. Lines drawn along largely artificial cultural and national lines estrange us if we accept that the state’s arbitrary violence is necessary for us to be able to deal with and relate to one another.

Free market anarchism turns on Spencer’s “law of equal freedom,” the simple idea that everyone ought be left alone to do whatever they would like provided they observe everyone else’s identical right. The people of the Middle East and Northern Africa understand the power of civil disobedience and peaceful interaction, a power that — when carried to its end — means a world without the injustices of states.

When Will George W. Bush Be Tried for His War Crimes?


When Will George W. Bush Be Tried for His War Crimes?
by Sheldon Richman, February 21, 2011

We should take a small measure of satisfaction in former President George W. Bush’s cancellation of his trip to Switzerland after human-rights groups threatened to bring legal action against him for authorizing torture. Persons detained by the U.S. government after 9/11 were subjected to what the Bush administration euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation,” including waterboarding. In reality those methods constituted torture, violating U.S. law and international agreements.

Under those agreements charges can be filed against members of the Bush administration in jurisdictions outside the United States. The Center for Constitutional Rights along with European groups said they will ask Swiss authorities to initiate a criminal case against Bush. They also planned to file their own complaint.

If all that Bush and members of his administration suffer for their crimes are travel restrictions, it will be a mild penalty indeed. (Alas, the U.S. government can and probably will obtain immunity for him.) They deserve far more, starting with a public criminal investigation in the United States, followed by trials. But President Obama says there will be no investigation of top officials. Wishing to “look ahead,” he has decided to treat Bush & Co. as above the law, embracing Richard Nixon’s maxim, When the president does it, it’s not illegal. In Germany that used to be known as the Führer Principle. Many of us naively thought it was repudiated at the Nuremberg trials after World War II. How wrong we were. The stain that Bush and Obama have left on America won’t fade anytime soon.

It would have been bad enough to torture people actually suspected of wrongdoing, but the Bush administration went well beyond that. Many people subjected to hideous treatment were picked up on the flimsiest of “evidence.” People were offered bounties to turn others in; naturally, some saw that as a chance to settle old scores having nothing to do with terrorism. Absence of evidence (as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might say) was not considered evidence of absence. In at least one case, a man was tortured — by the U.S. government’s helper in Egypt, Omar Suleiman — to get the prisoner to say that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had trained al-Qaeda agents. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney badly wanted to justify their preexisting wish to effect regime change in Iraq by tying Saddam to 9/11. But there was never any evidence of Iraqi complicity.

That reminds us that torture was not the only crime committed by the Bush administration. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were also (and still are) outrages because, among other reasons, they were based on lies. Bush officials, such as Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, now acknowledge “misstatements,” but that can hardly be taken seriously. We know that back then grave doubts were expressed over the quality of the so-called intelligence about Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Rumsfeld’s excuses are pathetic. When he beat the drums for war, he said he knew where Saddam’s WMDs were. Now he says he meant he knew the location of “suspected sites.” Did he step out of Orwell’s 1984?

As many people long have believed, the Bush administration’s defector/informants were lying, but their American handlers didn’t care. The one known as Curvevball, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, admits he lied about Iraq’s biological weapons. “I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that….” Janabi said, according to the Guardian.

Is he proud of the million Iraqis who died, directly and indirectly, because of the war he helped bring about? How about all the maimed children? Are Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Condoleezza Rice satisfied that they relied on Janabi? Did they really have no reason for skepticism about his claims and motives?

Americans are forced to spend billions of dollars on intelligence-gathering every year. Yet many insiders doubted what the administration was told about Iraqi WMDs in 2002. So what? Bush & Co., hell bent on killing Arabs after 9/11, weren’t interested in evidence or the lack thereof. They needed a way to scare the American people into war, and nothing was going to stop them.

Let us hope the retribution against this evil bunch is only just beginning.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. Visit his blog “Free Association” at www.sheldonrichman.com. Send him email.

Can’t see the wood for the trees


by The Devil

Can’t see the wood for the trees It seems that—as they did over the piss-poor Book Trustthe Coalition are about to show just how easily a collection of ball-less, dickless government ministers can be brow-beaten by a bunch of pious, holier-than-thou, rent-seeking lunatics.

Ministers are preparing to ditch controversial plans to sell thousands of acres of state-owned woodland in England, the BBC understands.

Which just goes to show how the flexible the Coalition’s convictions are. Let us contrast their lack of action over the forests with the decisive measures taken by the New Zealand Labour government of 1984 (and you are going to hear a lot about this because the parallels are excellent)—as recounted by ex-NZ-minister Maurice P McTigue in his 2004 lecture to Hillsdale College. [Emphasis mine, on the grounds of
relevance.]

When we started this process with the Department of Transportation, it had 5,600 employees. When we finished, it had 53. When we started with the Forest Service, it had 17,000 employees. When we finished, it had 17. When we applied it to the Ministry of Works, it had 28,000 employees. I used to be Minister of Works, and ended up being the only employee. In the latter case, most of what the department did was construction and engineering, and there are plenty of people who can do that without government involvement. And if you say to me, “But you killed all those jobs!”—well, that’s just not true. The government stopped employing people in those jobs, but the need for the jobs didn’t disappear. I visited some of the forestry workers some months after they’d lost their government jobs, and they were quite happy. They told me that they were now earning about three times what they used to earn—on top of which, they were surprised to learn that they could do about 60 percent more than they used to! The same lesson applies to the other jobs I mentioned.

I do recommend reading the entire speech—several times. I wish Cameron would.

But the paragraphs immediately following the one above are very much worth highlighting, especially in view of the fact that the Tories are aiming, in five years, only to reduce the deficit to zero—not actually to pay off any debt.

Some of the things that government was doing simply didn’t belong in the government. So we sold off telecommunications, airlines, irrigation schemes, computing services, government printing offices, insurance companies, banks, securities, mortgages, railways, bus services, hotels, shipping lines, agricultural advisory services, etc. In the main, when we sold those things off, their productivity went up and the cost of their services went down, translating into major gains for the economy. Furthermore, we decided that other agencies should be run as profit-making and tax-paying enterprises by government. For instance, the air traffic control system was made into a stand-alone company, given instructions that it had to make an acceptable rate of return and pay taxes, and told that it couldn’t get any investment capital from its owner (the government). We did that with about 35 agencies. Together, these used to cost us about one billion dollars per year; now they produced about one billion dollars per year in revenues and taxes.

We achieved an overall reduction of 66 percent in the size of government, measured by the number of employees. The government’s share of GDP dropped from 44 to 27 percent. We were now running surpluses, and we established a policy never to leave dollars on the table: We knew that if we didn’t get rid of this money, some clown would spend it. So we used most of the surplus to pay off debt, and debt went from 63 percent down to 17 percent of GDP. We used the remainder of the surplus each year for tax relief. We reduced income tax rates by half and eliminated incidental taxes. As a result of these policies, revenue increased by 20 percent. Yes, Ronald Reagan was right: lower tax rates do produce more revenue.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—this is the way that you produce better services and reduce both taxes and debt.

Stuff you and your Big Society, Dave: try showing us that you can take some responsibility for what needs to be done, and maybe we’ll have a go at it too.

_The Churchill Memorandum_, by Sean Gabb, by Reviewed by L. Neil Smith


_The Churchill Memorandum_, by Sean Gabb, by Reviewed by L. Neil Smith.

The first review of a book that, even unread, has driven several people to the edge of madness, and one or two somewhat beyond. I am particularly flattered that the review is by the greatest living libertarian novelist – even Mr Blake gives way to L. Neil Smith!

The Churchill Memorandum, by Sean Gabb
by Reviewed by L. Neil Smith
lneil@netzero.com

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Attiribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

Let me begin this with a disclaimer: Sean Gabb, the author of The Churchill Memorandum is a friend of mine. Author, lecturer, TV and radio personality, Sean is what used to be called a “man of parts”, intelligent, principled, and tough. Through perspicacity and dogged determination, he has become the face and voice of libertarianism in Britain.

He is also more than a fair hand at fiction, having created the most interestingly offbeat hero I’ve seen in a novel in a long time, groping his way through a highly-textured and devilishly complicated world of spies versus counterspies in a 1959 shaped mostly by the fact that Adolf Hitler expired before he had a chance to set the world on fire, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was cut down by an assassin’s bullet.

World War II never happens. Britain reverts to a metallic monetary standard, minimal government, and low taxes (followed by Germany) and she grows wealthy and healthy both as a nation and as a people in the process. Pearl Harbor is attacked, and the United States loses Hawaii and the Philippines to Japan, although Britain defends America’s west coast.

What follows is a positively Hitchcockian story that will remind the reader, by turns, of The 39 Steps, North by Northwest, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. Winston Churchill, in this branch of history is a drunk who died in relative obscurity, leaving his private papers to Harvard University. Anthony Markham is an historian working on the second volume of the old boy’s biography at the behest of his family.

The opening chapters are thrilling, as the biographer is trying to get through security and out of a thoroughly fascistic United States, ruthlessly controlled by the dictator, President Harry Anslinger (with the enthusiastic help of subcreatures like Richard Nixon). Look him up: in our corner of probability, it’s arguable that, of all political figures in the 20th century, Anslinger may be more responsible than any other for transforming America into the police state it has become today.

What Markham doesn’t know—yet—is that, among Churchill’s many papers is a document that may have an explosive effect on the balance of power in 1959, and the relations between Britain, Germany, and America, and that there is no safety for him back at home in England. He becomes the pawn and target for differing groups who want to use him and the Churchill papers for all sorts of different purposes.

The novel is so tightly-knit that it’s hard to say anything about it without giving too much away. Sean writes in a manner that has you smelling the surroundings (not always a pleasant experience) and feeling the grit of asphalt and concrete under your feet. “Noirer than noir” might be an accurate description, but somehow, it’s never depressing.

The novel as a whole is agreeably full of sound and fury, but there is a particularly splendid action scene on a train. Thanks to Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, and Harry Potter, Americans are familiar with British trains, and that familiarity comes through even when the train in question happens to be bulleting along at 300 miles per hour, levitating above magnetic rails. It made me realize that a struggle on the railways is the British equivalent of an American car chase.

A couple of words to American readers. Sean has chosen to present the details of 1959 to us the way it really was—or would have been, and that includes the language. Words and phrases that are politically incorrect were a part of common conversation sixty years ago, and even today, in my own experience, are uttered more often in Britain than America.

In addition to Harry Anslinger and Richard Nixon (also Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, and Nathaniel Branden), Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayeck also figure—a bit shockingly—in the action. I absolutely love stories like this, which is why I write them, myself. And there are many other characters who will mean more to Sean’s countrymen, people like Enoch Powell, Harold MacMillan, Michael Foot, and Lord Halifax. It can’t hurt, as you accompany Markham on his adventures, to keep Wikipedia open at your side. Sean is a great teacher, and this book has a lot to teach us in his painless and often extremely funny way.

Buy it, read it, tell your friends. I guess it’s my privilege to welcome Sean into the ranks of sideways time travel writers the way that Robert Heinlein once welcomed me. The genre is richer for his presence.
The Churchill Memorandum by Sean Gabb is available in both paperback and Kindle format at Amazon.com. Buy it by clicking on [this link]

Another one bites the gold-dust of rich exile


Michael Winning

I see that the fascist bloke Gaddaffi, he of the faux desertrobes and warlord gear, has got a little local difficulty. Literally. Methinks his son wanted to succeed hium like that fellow in Cuba and the other one in Morth Korea.

One just hopes for these poor downtrodden masses that their trying to get out from under “The Fathers of Their People” will get them what they want. I has me-doubts somehow. They stiull suffer under a thing that calls iteself a religion but really needs to be dissected and proper-lylly de-bunkum-ised, so its fit for human consumption. Perhaps they need to read some Roger Scruton stuff about how law and secular custom can’t be separated from religion in Muslim lands. Read some of that myself after 9/11 I did. It seems to make them accept the most improbable temporal warlords with such meekness, it’s scary.

Romans 13: Ordained by Sin, Ordered by Love


By Ricardo Rodriguez and Brennan Lester
http://c4ss.org/?p=6165

By Ricardo Rodriguez and Brennan Lester

There it began – the Roman Emperor Theodosius I signed the decree, and all of Rome was coerced into Christianity. Ever since then, as economist Ludwig von Mises notes very well, Christianity has never been able to put down the sword on a large scale.[1] For politics eats away at a man – the politicization of something profoundly changes a man and his ideologies. Politics has changed Christendom as well – deeply and profoundly – and the end result is contradictions, as well as complete alienation. Romans 13, history shows, has been a central tenet of this politicization much like the tribute episode that was treated last time. Romans 13, however, by being interpreted with the intent of supporting the State, or seeing Christianity as supporting the State, lends itself as such to contradictions, alienation, misinterpretation, and most definitely mistranslation.

One should keep in mind how crucial this text is for the Christian anarchist – one cannot escape discussion of its contents when talking about anything involving Christian anarchism. Further, the anarchist movement is not very fond of it, and for very good reasons – it has been used for the Divine Right of Kings,[2] as well as the Christian Right for justifying government.[3] Monarch King James I called on its authority when he wrote in Chapter 20 of his Works (1609) that “[t]he state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth; for kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon earth, and sit upon God’s throne, but even by God himself are called ‘gods.’” Similarly, and more recently, US evangelical John MacArthur wrote that the principle of subjugation to governing authorities is “unqualified, unlimited, and unconditional… [t]he text makes no distinction between good rulers and bad rulers, or fair laws and unfair laws”: all the same “[e]very one of us should get in line to submit to those who are commanding us”[4]. It is not a pretty sight – the anarchist movement is very well justified in being naturally alienated away from really existing Christianity as a result. However, this alienation is not at all substantiated by the actual facts, and much to the movement’s detriment, as will be explained in detail before the end of our analysis.

This interpretation created great hostility for Christianity in most anarchist circles throughout history, regarding the State and religion as one beast— that one cannot have church without state, that both are part of the same enslaving principle— perhaps most famously expressed by Mikhail Bakunin when he wrote, “[t]here is not, there cannot be, a State without a religion”[5], that under Christianity, “all men owe [the
"legislators inspired by God himself"] passive and unlimited obedience; for against the divine reason there is no human reason… Slaves of God, men must also be slaves of Church and State, in so far as the State is consecrated by the Church” (emphasis Bakunin’s) — “his existence necessarily implies the slavery of all that is beneath him,” [6] and as such offered the now infamous inversion, “if God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him.”[7] This opinion has been widely adopted by anarchists of most stripes, such as Benjamin Tucker, who translated Bakunin’s God and the State for English audiences and the criticism of religion by egoist Max Stirner. [8]

Not only has it enraged atheists, but it has also caused scorn among Christian anarchists; most notably Leo Tolstoy, in his 1882 work “Church and State,” who asserts that Christianity “excludes the external worship of God [rulers and
statesmanship]” and “positively repudiates mastership” but says that the link between the State and Christianity is a deviation and that “[t]his deviation begins from the times of the Apostles and especially from that hankerer after mastership Paul.”[9] This criticism is also echoed by figure of great significance to anarchist and modernist thought, though not an anarchist himself, Friedrich Nietzsche in The Antichrist who criticized the Apostles, and namely Paul, for falsifying the history of Christianity, Israel, and mankind for his purposes.[10] But this is all due to a lack of proper understanding, both the rejection of Christianity itself and the rejection of Paul’s message in the book of Romans by the anarchists is of detriment to a fuller understanding of Scripture, an understanding that this paper will assert comes to the aid of anarcho-pacifism, and rejects the notion of allegiance to a State ostensibly ordained by God.

What we intend in doing, then, is to take the Greek text of the verses, and begin translating and giving analysis of the passage.[11] We do not intend to critique other interpretations per se, as literature exists or will exist that does this better than we can. (see the “Further Reading” section) Rather, our intent is to show a historical-grammatical interpretation of the text – that in which necessarily ends at a position of Christian anarcho-pacifism – and attempts to to a conclusion immense both in its strength as well as its general cohesion. A theological analysis of a text is never perfect, but we do intend it to be strong enough to persuade another to get rid of their views that to be Christian must necessarily mean to support a State ordained by God.

One must start by making clear a few things. Romans 13 – as far as one can tell – was not written with any type of Stoic use in mind.[12] There is no exact metaphorical or allegorical way of looking about this text. In fact, some scholars consider Romans chapters 12-15 to be the “imperative” part of the book, as one can see by historical-grammatical analysis what Paul writes to the Christians.[13] Not only that, but this entire section of the book of Romans is written in such a manner that it is cohesive,[14] with each verse bound inextricably with the other; as a letter to Roman Christians, no fragment should be overlooked in analysis.[15]

It is therefore first important for us to notice Paul’s reiteration of Christ’s teachings of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt, 5:38-9, NIV) at the end of chapter 12: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) To review the contents of Romans 13 without understanding Romans 12 is to strip away the context of the lessons preached— for at the heart of Romans 12 is the divine idea that the Christian must love one’s neighbor as one’s self, and to not resist evil with evil. It is not to love those you prefer to love but to even “[b]less those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14) Those principles are the very foundation of Christ’s teachings, Christian pacifism, and Paul’s philosophy.

And that leads us to Romans 13:1 (NIV), a line that seals the deal for most in favor of statism: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” It appears to be a dead end for the Christian— thus we must bow to the State. But this is not what it seems, as shown by John Howard Yoder’s treatment of the passage in his stellar The Politics of Jesus. To start, it is wise to view the text in its Greek form and work from there:

Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω. οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν:

One of the words one must concentrate on, even if one can’t read it, is τεταγμέναι, which is normally translated as “ordained” or “established” in the King James and New International Version. In actuality, the word is a perfect passive participle of the word τάσσω, which one can conclude means to “order”, to “arrange”, or to “put into place” more so than it is translated as “establish”, or “ordained”. This changes the underlying implication, for as we go back to Chapter 12, one reads:

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19

One can begin to see a point to what Paul is exemplifying – submit because God arranges and fixes all, because for a Christian, God is ultimately in control. One reads in Yoder:

“God is not said to create or institute or ordain the powers that be, but only to order them, to put them in order, sovereignty to tell them where they belong, what is their place. It is not as if there was a time when there was no government and then God made government through a new creative intervention; there has been hierarchy and authority and power since human society existed. Its exercise has involved domination, disrespect for human dignity, and real or potential violence ever since sin has existed. Nor is it that by ordering this realm God specifically, morally approves of what a government does. The sergeant does not produce the soldiers he drills; the librarian does not create nor approve of the book she or he catalogs and shelves. Likewise God does not take responsibility for the existence of the rebellious ‘powers that be’ or for their shape or identity; they already are. What the text says is that God orders them, brings them into line, providentially and permissively lines them up with divine purposes.” [16]

One can see Yoder’s point verified in 1 Samuel 8, which is the first time a government is truly mentioned in the Bible, as well as Hosea 8:4.

However, let us go back to the Greek analysis of Romans 13:1 – we are not quite finished examining the vocabulary, as there are some more crucial things we must keep in mind: ὑποτασσέσθω in particular also comes from τάσσω, but combined also with the word ὑπο, which means “under”, which then leads itself to mean to be “ordered under”, in a sense of voluntary submission – rather than the common dogma of being told to do it because it is a commandment. This harks back a few sentences in the text to the text of Romans 12. This does not give any implication of an absolute obedience – rather a very conditional, voluntary obedience.

This obedience is fleshed out in the word ἐξουσίαι, which is translated as “authorities”. N.T. Wright and Clinton Morrison both point out profoundly that the authorities in which Paul mentions is not a clear distinction between earthly and heavenly.[17] This does not simply account for Paul, but one can see the pervasive nature in even Roman currency, where the denarius stated, “Tiberius Caesar, Worshipful Son of the God, Augustus.”[18] This incredible mix makes it a confounding word to translate. Further, more specific words like ἀρχαὶ and δυνάμεις – “rulers” and “powers” respectively – can indicate one half behind the meaning of the word ἐξουσίαι, and should be examined carefully.

One sees these rulers and powers in Romans 8:38-39, showing profound contempt for them. In this vein, Paul writes that Christ has “disarmed the rulers and authorities (ἀρχὰς and ἐξουσίας) and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”(Colossians 2:15) Paul never stops to show that nothing stands between the Christian and God [19] – the authorities are disarmed and rendered useless. This voluntary submission proves itself to be a profound expansion of what Paul wrote after – with the submission of authorities occurring due to the fact that God puts them in their place, that Jesus has disarmed and rendered the authorities ineffectual, that one should save revenge for God, and resist evil not with evil: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

This line of thought does not lose its strength as one goes along, but rather continues to develop in Romans 13:2, which reads in the NIV:

“Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

And in the Greek:

ὥστε ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ διαταγῇ ἀνθέστηκεν, οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες ἑαυτοῖς κρίμα λήμψονται.

The word mentioned earlier which means “order”, “put into place”, “arrange”, etc. – τάσσω – is in this verse as well. The word τάσσω is a very crucial part of this entire passage, as one can tell – further, it is used here in the word ἀντιτασσόμενος, which combines both τάσσω and the participle ἀντι, which is connotative to “anti” thus leading to a combination which means literally to be “against order”, or to be against the order established by God.

One should be able to see the obvious at this point – this too harks back to what Paul was saying just before hand. Everything is falling into place – a Christian is in fact a person who should believe that revenge is God’s alone, and to not put anything into one’s own hands. A Christian must be pacifistic towards authorities. The question begs, however, if this voluntary submission is contingent to also allowing them to reign and submitting to whoever comes by with a big gun.

It is simple: Resist evil not with evil means exactly what Jesus meant for it to say. It does not mean that one should not resist evil at all, as Adin Ballou points out wonderfully,[20] but to resist evil with good – with Christian love. Paul explains this heavily in Romans 12 – but what does this entail per se? It entails turning away from evil, and to love one’s enemies and pray for them. Early Christianity is known for martyrs that never fought back, but certainly many were running, fleeing, while preaching, praying, and loving.[21] This is what it means to resist evil not with evil – very much so must a Christian turn away from what the Bible teaches as evil,[22] and to pursue one’s faith in God. One must not forget that last part, for as Acts 5:29 states: “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’ (NIV)

One need not harken back to the Greek to see that again and again is the topic of resistance to evil through evil means addressed by Paul. This point of resisting evil with evil is further exemplified in the translation, for the NIV reads in verses 3-5:

“3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.

4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

So it is here that the contents of the first two verses become intertwined: Resist evil not with evil, but instead let God have revenge, for it is His to take; and He will take it “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) . It also connects itself to many things, especially the idea that a soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), along with many other verses showing that love stops evil. There is a profound idea here that Paul is showing, and it is to resist evil not with evil, which will set one free.

Additionally, verse four says essentially to do right and not transgress Jesus’ teaching, for they do not wear their swords without a cause ( εἰκῇ is the word that is translated to “no reason”, though one could have a stronger wording with “without a cause”). Another mistranslation is in verse 4 – “They are God’s servants”, in which the word servant (διάκονος), is actually singular. It is more or less translated to “He is God’s servant”, with the word “rulers” not even being in the Greek text for verse four. Further, the fourth verse does not mention rulers, but rather making it clear that whoever does have a sword is under God’s control and arrangement (vengeance and all), and that transgressing resist evil not with evil will carry consequences.

The fifth verse then seals the lid on this interpretation, showing why we should voluntarily submit to authorities – possible punishment, but also conscience for not letting God handle the situation. One should turn away from evil, but do so in love, for it is God’s commandment.

One is not left with clean air after this, however, for one has one more obstacle to overcome before having a completely clear understanding of the text – that is, Romans 13:6. However, this obstruction shows itself to be illusory when subjected to closer analysis, where a massive mistranslation befuddles what is the true expression of the text.

It reads in the NIV:

“This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.”

However, one reads in the Greek:

διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ φόρους τελεῖτε, λειτουργοὶ γὰρ θεοῦ εἰσιν εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο προσκαρτεροῦντες.

One should see two things missing here: “authorities”, and “governing”. The former is translated from λειτουργοὶ, however this has nothing to do with authorities. Rather, this has everything to do with a minister, a priest, or a servant – nothing of authoritative power. “Governing”, on the other hand, seems to come from εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο, which translates to “with this very thing”, while “προσκαρτεροῦντες” translates to “adhere to”.

The icing on the cake is that this passage turns into, “For this is why you pay taxes, because God’s priests (or ministers or servants) adhere to this very thing.” For supplementary proof of this translation of “εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο” without any Greek grammatical explanations, one can cross-reference with 2 Corinthians 2:3, Philippians 1:6, and 2 Corinthians 5:5 – all of which uses “τοῦτο αὐτὸ”, “εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο”, or plain “αὐτὸ τοῦτο”, but it also translates to “this very thing”.

It is clear that this passage cannot be a pro-taxation statement. Even if one were to take the translation as it is, one would find major historical inaccuracy considering the amount of resources showing that taxes did not go to governing in the Roman Empire. Rather, it should be a known fact that the taxes went to military expansion before concentration on governing [23]— to recall the advice Emperor Septimius Severus gave to his heirs, “live in harmony; enrich the troops; ignore everyone else.”[24] As early as Nero did emperors debase the currency in order to fund the increasing costs of military and bureaucracy.[25] This indirect tax on cash balances became worse and worse under succeeding emperors Aurelius, with prices higher than ever before in the Empire’s history when Severus’s heir, Carcacalla took over.[26] The Roman Empire would periodically confiscate property, and towns would be forced to feed, lodge, and provide transport for the troops— the soldiers were even allowed to loot as they pleased.[27]

To give solidify the interpretation of 13:1-6, one should look at the concluding verse right after the passages – “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor”. This drives the point home– to voluntarily submit and to resist evil not with evil. Give to everyone their due – which is in the end is summed up in the Golden Rule of loving one’s neighbor as yourself. It is clear that in the book of Romans, Paul is outlining how the pious Christian is to deal with those who it is hardest to love: the corrupt, violent, and degenerate “authorities” who make up the State, they are a test of the Christian’s obedience to God’s command of universal love.

If anarchism alienates itself away from religion – never accepting its existence, but always wanting it to push it away, then there is no reason to be an anarchist. A political ideology that pushes away over 3 billion people in the world should not be a political ideology worth having. The ideas that anarchism must be absolutely contingent with any type of personal conviction – whether irreligious or religious – is one in vain. Anarchism is about the factual order of human beings and understanding how human beings order naturally. For as David Hume said, “… the stability of possession, its translation by consent, and the performance of promises. These are, therefore, antecedent to government.”[28] One must not forget that anarchism is about the natural order of human society – to say religion is not a part of human society would be horribly ignorant of thousands of years of civilization. To say religion naturally does harm to a society is equally ignorant – for history shows profoundly that it was never religion that has caused the problems, as much as it was the political power absorbing religion. Theodisius I is just one example of many, along with well thought out arguments for as to how Christianity’s desperate need to seek political power hurts the church more than anything. [29]

Christianity necessarily goes in line with anarchism; Christianity necessarily is anarchism. It is a form of anarcho-pacifism – it submits to pacify, but resists in love, compassion, and with deep religious introspection. It shows that there is no genuine authority but God, and everything is under God’s control – wrath and revenge is His, not the Christian’s. Anarchists should welcome the chance to connect Christianity with anarchism, or any religion for that matter, as it pushes forward the importance of peace and the fundamental understanding of the benefits felt from cooperation, as opposed to the parasitism of the State. To ignorantly toss away an entire group of people is to defeat the purpose of spreading information. With love, respect, and keen understanding can anarchists truly spread the basis of anarchism. Fear of confronting religion only leads to fear in accepting anarchist ideology, and a bitter rejection of what is held dear to many of “the people” is to insulate the movement of the people with intellectual dogmatism.

In desperation to conform to society’s ways of thinking, many Christians – whose main objective should be to obtain salvation – desperately cling onto the State. With amazing leaps of apologetics, many Christians will attempt to justify the State through the use of Scripture, no matter what the costs of doing so may be. The deaths of millions upon millions of innocent people in history matters not – one will still assume the State does not directly attempt to hinder their relationship with God. The desperate attempt to use the sword to express Christianity is in vain – in the end, it will push people out of faith completely. If one must love Christ, one must abandon the sword, and by abandoning the sword, they must abandon their allegiance with any State, whose origins start by forcing others into fear and submission to a singular human will; the State elevates its law above all else, its supremacy over the land it possesses lays claim to a totality over the spirit that could only be rightfully claimed by God— and no Christian can preach fidelity to a force such as that. By breaking down Romans 13 into a passage of resisting evil with Christian love, the Christian should reflect on who their allegiance truly belongs to. The question then remains: Does the Christian tacitly give more allegiance to the temporal State, or allegiance to their faith in an eternal God? The former asks for allegiance until death, and the latter asks for all your heart, mind, and body, and condemns the idea of being lukewarm. The choice is for the Christian – choose wisely.

Further Reading:
Stark, Thom. Peace and Security: Two Rival Gospels in Romans 13 (A History of Interpretation and Critical Appropriation). Pickwick Publications, forthcoming.

Citations:

[1] Mises, Ludwig Von. Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution. Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2007. 43. Print.
[2] One can see some defense in this in Martin Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
[3] An interesting sermon indicating that “Christians have a holy obligation to be the best citizens we can possibly be”: “God and Country Sermon, God and Country Sermon by Brian La Croix, Romans 13:1-13:5 – SermonCentral.com.” SermonCentral.com – Free Sermons, Illustrations, Videos, and PowerPoints for Preaching. Web. 06 Feb. 2011.
[4] MacArthur, John. “The Christian’s Responsibility to Government—Part 1 — John MacArthur.” Bible Bulletin Board. Web. 09 Feb. 2011.
[5] Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich. God and the State. [S.l.]: Cosimo, 2008. 84. Print.
[6] Ibid., pg. 24.
[7] Ibid., pg 27-8.
[8] Tucker, Benjamin R. “State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree and Wherein They Differ.” Instead of a Book by a Man Too Busy to Write One: A Fragmentary Exposition of Philosophical Anarchism. Adamant Media Corporation, 2005. 14. Print.
See also Stirner, Max. The Ego and its Own.
[9] Tolstoy, Leo. “Church and State.” Wikisource, the Free Library. Web. 31 Jan. 2011.
[10] Nietzsche, Friedrich. Twilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ. Tr. R.J. Hollingdale. pg. 165-169 for a brief overlook, though Paul is mentioned many more times.
[11] One can join in and follow: http://www.greekbible.com/ offers a very well done Greek Bible, at the same http://biblelexicon.org/ is a strong lexicon. However, as Ricardo did when writing the Scriptural analysis, it is best to buy an authoritative lexicon, along with Google searching continually and cross-referencing. Immense scrutiny and thought should be applied at all times.
[12] There is a lot of back and forth thoughts on how much (or if at all) Stoicism is used in Paul’s writings, but there is hardly anything at all giving evidence that Paul used it for Romans 13. One can see this in Stoicism: Traditions and Transformations, where authors Steven K. Strange and Jack Zupko try to use Stoicism in the core of Paul’s teaching, but give no reference to Romans 13 using Stoic terms. Further, there is a strong rebuttal on the notion that Paul used Stoic language at all by Joseph Spencer called “Stoic Influence in the Writings of Saint Paul”. In James Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, he writes that “[Paul's] views of the divine birth of Jesus, and of His resurrection…are unintelligible except in terms of Stoicism”, bur give no reference to the notion that Paul’s political views should be viewed in such a way.
[13] Thorsteinsson, Runar M. Roman Christianity and Roman Stoicism: a Comparative Study of Ancient Morality. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford UP, 2010. 92. Print.
[14] One should not forget that verses and chapters were not in the original manuscripts of the Bible, and was developed after. There are many different ministries that offer an overlook of this development, for example Rowland Croucher’s “Chapters and Verses in the Bible”.
[15] Bear in mind our scrutiny of the verses stops at 13:7, however, and that one can give analysis later in the chapter. Thom Stark wonderfully points out in The Human Faces of God, pg. 201-202, that Romans 13 also had much to do with the eschatological viewpoints Paul had, which is shown later in the chapter.
[16] Yoder, John Howard. The Politics of Jesus; Vicit Agnus Noster. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972. 203. Print.
[17] See N.T. Wright’s “Paul and Caesar: A New Reading of Romans”, along with Clinton Morrison’s The Powers That Be.
[18] Tolstoy, Leo, and Constance Garnett. The Kingdom of God Is Within You. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2006. 11-14. Print.
[19] Smith, Mahlon H. “Tiberius.” Virtual Religion Network. Web. 31 Jan. 2011.
[20] Romans 8:38-39
[21] Balasundaram, Franklyn J. Martyrs in the History of Christianity. New Delhi: Publ. for The United Theological College, Bangalore by ISPCK, 1997. Print.
[22] 1 Peter 3:11, Psalm 34:14, Psalm 37:27-29, Proverbs 3:7, Zechariah 1:4 to name a few passages.
[23] Bartlett, Bruce. “How Excessive Government Killed Rome”. The Cato Journal, Volume 14 Number 2, Fall 1994.
[24] Peden, Joseph R. “Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire.” Ludwig Von Mises Institute. 7 Sept. 2009. Web. 31 Jan. 2011.
[25] Bailey, M.J. “The Welfare Cost of Inflationary Finance.” Journal of Political Economy 64(2): 93-110.
[26] Schuettinger, Robert Lindsay, and Eamonn Butler. “The Roman Republic and Empire.” Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls: How Not to Fight Inflation. Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation, 1979. 19-20. Print.
[27] Haskell, H.J. The New Deal in Old Rome: How Government in the Ancient World Tried to Deal with Modern Problems. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939. 216. Print.
[28] Hume, David. “Book III.” A Treatise of Human Nature. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble, 2005. Print.
[29] Boyd, Gregory A. The Myth of a Christian Nation How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church. Grand Rapids (Michigan): Zondervan, 2005. Print.

The right to bare arms


Michael Winning

That got you! My cracked arm is improving so I’ll find something caustic to say about David Cameron, probably tomaorrowwhen I have gone out and about the land, not done for a few days.

Sean Gabb on LBC re Ticket Touts


Are ticket touts immoral? asked Iain Dale on LBC Radio on the 17th February 2011.

No, said Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance. He said a man’s right to resell at one price what he has bought at another should not be banned or regulated. Even when a ticket carries a stipulation against resale, that is a matter for the civil courts, not the police. He added that the main difference between a ticket tout and City bankers is that when the former buys tickets he can’t resell, he doesn’t go sobbing to the Government and get the national debt tripled to cover his losses!

Listen here: http://www.libertarian.co.uk/multimedia/2011-02-17-sig-tout.mp3

“Shared Value” and State Capitalism


by David D’Amato
http://c4ss.org/?p=6158

On Tuesday, NPR’s On Point assembled former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Michael Porter of Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness to discuss Porter’s new article, “Creating Shared Value.” The article (Harvard Business Review’s January-February feature), recommends that we “reinvent capitalism,” elegiacally explaining that “[t]he capitalist system is under siege,” and that “diminished trust in business” is a thing to be feared.

The central thesis of Porter and his co-author Mark R. Kramer is that business and society ought to be brought together, toppling the outmoded dichotomy between the bottom line and social responsibility. That project, with its gloss of “shared value,” seems a lot like something market anarchists could get on board with. Underneath its appeals to “meeting human needs,” however, Porter and Kramer are concerned much more with recapturing the values of some apparently not-so-distant past where Big Business was looked on as a neighborly paragon of virtue.

That such a past never existed anywhere but the Madison Ave. reveries of Big Business is of no real concern. Anyway, all of the talk about the “intersection between” society and business is promptly drowned out by the authors’ concessions to violent statism and their conflation (perhaps the most common of all) of the state and civil society. Focusing on “the right kind” of government interference with the market, the article supposes that such interference should address itself to apparently “precompetitive issues,” convinced that a lack of an appropriate regulatory substructure leads to crisis.

Though the substance of the article acknowledges that the state’s regulations impose arbitrary costs, invariably fail to achieve their putative goals, and actually obstruct “measurable social improvement,” the authors nevertheless fall into the doctrinaire reassurance: “Oh, don’t get us wrong! We still recognize the need for state involvement!”

The notion that some areas of business practice are supposedly outside of the realm of competition — and that the state is capable of neutrally defining those areas — is fanciful enough, but Porter and Kramer don’t stop there. No, on On Point, Porter supplicated government, seen of course as benign but bumbling, to “learn” how to tailor its regulations; he maintained that Big Business, which he sees as rallying for competition, just wants to be left alone to create shared value.

In response to the latter claim, Robert Reich stepped in to bring Porter back to earth, noting that “we have a regulatory state that is largely the product of Big Business lobbying.” In spite of that observation, the implications of which are obviously lost on him, Reich blamed too much competition for capital — a condition apparently brought about by globalization — for the present standard of corporate malfeasance.

When Porter agreed with that tenuous inference, he and Reich patted each other on the back for “getting it,” and seeing that naturally there must be a — you guessed it — new law to keep shareholders from jumping around from company to company (i.e., to keep them invested in the established economy).

For all of its predictable paeans to the state’s prying into our lives and our exchanges, Porter and Kramer offer something of a spotty account of how “re-localization” and internalization of corporate costs could transform our ideas about business. Without genuflecting to the myth that the state and Big Business are mortal enemies, they might have been onto something.

The nugget of truth is that “[b]usiness and society have been pitted against each other for too long,” but business wants it that way; entrenched corporations undeniably won’t be willing “to take the lead” to bring the two together. The state-corporate system is designed to make sure that true freedom and voluntary association are never the governing norm for society, but that is exactly the goal of the free market left.

“[T]he idea of anarchy,” taught Proudhon, “is quite as rational and concrete as any other. What it means is that political functions have been reduced to industrial functions, and that the social order arises from nothing but transactions and exchanges.” If we’re worried, as Porter says he is, about “capitalism in a bubble,” then we might tear away at the insulation the state’s has put up around capitalism. That way we might begin to see what kind of social order true free exchange is capable of creating.

In Egypt, as Everywhere, Anarchy is Order


by Kevin Carson
http://c4ss.org/?p=6147

In press commentary on the recent events in Egypt, there were frequent expressions of concern that Egypt might be falling into “anarchy.” “Anarchy,” in conventional journalistic usage, means chaos, disorder, and bloodshed — a Hobbesian war of all against all — that occurs when the stabilizing hand of government is removed. “Anarchy” is the agenda of mobs of kids in black circle-A t-shirts, smashing windows and setting stuff on fire.

But “anarchy,” as the term is understood by anarchists, is a form of society in which the state is replaced by the management of all human affairs through voluntary associations. Paul Goodman argued that it was impossible, through violence, to impose an anarchistic order on society, or to achieve a free society by replacing an old order with a new one. Rather, a free society results from “the extension of spheres of free action until they make up most of the social life.” Or to quote Gustav Landauer: “The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another… We are the State and we shall continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community.”

And we saw a great deal of anarchy in Egypt in recent days, in that sense. The people of Egypt have made a great start towards extending the spheres of free action, contracting new kinds of relationships between human beings, and creating the institutional basis of a real community.

Despite the poice state’s attempts to promote religious dissension and divide the opposition, Coptic Christians have stood watch over Muslims during their daily times of prayer. Muslims, likewise, guarded the perimeter of Liberation Square during a Coptic mass.

The resistance organized patrols to safeguard shops and museums from looting, and to watch over neighborhoods from which the security forces had been withdrawn. Meanwhile, as it turned out, most of the actions of violence and looting were false flag operations, carried out by security forces posing as protestors. So the functionaries of the state were the actual sources of violence and disorder; law and order emerged from anarchy — that is, from voluntary association.

The interim leader, Vice President Omar Suleiman — the object of so much hope on the part of neoconservative partisans of “stability” and “order” — is a torturer and a collaborator with the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program. Never forget: For every dubious example of an alleged “bomb-throwing anarchist,” like those at Haymarket, there are a million bombs thrown by governments. For every innocent person harmed by an alleged anarchist in a rioting mob, there are a thousand people tortured or murdered in some police dungeon, or ten thousand slaughtered by death squads in the countryside. For every store window broken by demonstrators, there are untold thousands of peasants robbed of their land in evictions and enclosures by feudal elites.

The people of Egypt have managed to throw out one tyrant. Now they find themselves under a military dictatorship which may or may not wind up reducing the level of tyranny. But if the Egyptian people find the new boss as oppressive as the old one, says Molinari Institute President Roderick Long, they know how to get rid of him.

If there is any real hope for the future, in the long run, it is in the anarchy that the people have built for themselves on the streets. There’s an old phrase that’s popular among the Wobblies, or Industrial Workers of the World: “building the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.” The Egyptian people have made a fair start toward doing just that. May the seeds of anarchy which were planted in the recent uprising continue to germinate and grow.

The Equitable Life shakedown


djw

This is a short message on the subject of the Equitable Life compensation affair.

I think there probably is such a thing as misselling of investments, for example, where grossly misleading claims are made. But such claims would need to be barefaced and wholly out of kilter with any sense of reality. Were an investment adviser to advise you a fund was likely to rise in value by a factor of ten in a year, that would certainly constitute misselling. If he were to advise you it would rise by 30%, and it in fact fell by 20%, that would be within the normal range of risk of investments.

However, even in cases where outrageous claims about investments are made by advisers, the priniciple of caveat emptor comes into play. Would a reasonable person believe that a fund might rise in value by a factor of ten in one year? Unless it could be shown a reasonable person would believe outrageous claims, even blatant “misselling” of this kind ought not to give rise to a legal action.

I am fed up of hearing Equitable Life investors claim they believed their investment could only go up. No reasonable person could think an investment could ever be “a dead cert”.

I would like all compensation claims with respect to Equitable Life to be cancelled. In future, such attempted shakedowns (whether of a company or the state) should be considered as attempted fraud and the investors prosecuted. People have to take responsibility for themselves. Their investments fell in value, but such is life–they have no reasonable claim against the company or the state. To read that HM Treasury is to pay £1.5bn out of general taxation to the investors is intolerable–don’t they realise the country is already indebted?

More Concerning Lord Monson


by Nigel Meek

It was only first thing this morning that I found out from our chairman, Michael Plumbe, that the Society for Individual Freedom’s (http://www.individualist.org.uk) president, Lord Monson, died a few days ago after a fall at his home (http://tinyurl.com/6dn5txc).

I’m not part of the SIF’s old guard who can still trace their membership back to the 1970s or even the 1960s, so there was a marked background and generation gap between us.  In all my years as a senior officer of the SIF, I can only recall one direct conversation with him.  We’d finished an SIF management meeting at the Westminster Arms in London when he approached me and started talking.  He was so quiet and diffident that it took me a while to realise that he was actually talking to me!  Bizarrely, it was about the postcode system in London.

Nevertheless, in my brief acquaintanceship I found him engaging.  Despite being a product of the suburban bourgeoisie, I found it a little endearing that the SIF contained a lingering measure of feudal deference.  Whereas for everyone else it was “Nigel this” or “Mike that”, it was always “Lord Monson”!

As the editor of the SIF’s journal, The Individual, I’ll try to collect for the next issue a few reminiscences from senior members who knew him better that I did.  Any recipients of this email who have something that they’d like to contribute, please get in touch with me.

In the meantime, my sympathies are with his family.

Dr Nigel Meek (SIF editor & membership secretary)

Jock Coats: Two Cheers for Mr Dave


http://jockcoats.me/node/4357 

I like to think I understood [1] the basic idea and the potential [2] of “Big Society” early on; in fact before the brand name even reached the airwaves, when we heard mutterings about free schools, I wondered if that idea was going to be cast wider to encompass other policy areas.

I have an advantage in this: I am an admirer of Albert Jay Nock, and in particular of his short book, “Our Enemy the State (pdf) [3]” (of which there is also an audio book recording, by me, here [4] and here [5]). Nock was one of the first libertarian thinkers I ever read, mainly because apart from considering himself a thoroughgoing anarchist, and an admirer of Thomas Jefferson, Herbert Spencer and Franz Oppenheimer, he was also a fan of the Henry George’s Single Tax and I was at the time also convinced of his arguments.

In “Our Enemy the State” he posits that the “state” and “society” are diametrically opposed constructs and that any increase in state power or functions necessitates a lessening of the effectiveness of and appetite for social power to produce solutions to social problems:

It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power; there is never, nor can there be, any strengthening of State power without a corresponding and roughly equivalent depletion of social power.

…and with the example of the great relief effort that was mobilised in the infamous Johnstown flood disaster, he illustrates that not only is social power itself diminshed by the state’s encroaching on it, but that we would tend to roll over and let it:

When the Johnstown flood occurred, social power was immediately mobilized and applied with intelligence and vigour. Its abundance, measured by money alone, was so great that when everything was finally put in order, something like a million dollars remained. If such a catastrophe happened now, not only is social power perhaps too depleted for the like exercise, but the general instinct would be to let the State see to it. Not only has social power atrophied to that extent, but the disposition to exercise it in that particular direction has atrophied with it. If the State has made such matters its business, and has confiscated the social power necessary to deal with them, why, let it deal with them.

All this was written in 1935, against the background of the rise of totalitarian states in Europe, and in the US, the Great Depression, which was prompting the government to ever more state intervention which Nock and others at the time thought might lead them in the same direction as Russia, Germany or Italy. In fact, he considers the New Deal as a sort of a coup d’etat, but conducted by purchase not by violence: by purchasing the votes of millions through the creation of a client state; a vast increase in the number of bureaucrats; and a similar increase in the number of people dependent on state welfare or indirectly through state regulation (for example, if you think the state’s looking after you by mandating a minimum wage or some kind of safety regulation).

So, many people will just say “well so what? If we vote for more state intervention, if we think that creates a fairer world, where’s the problem?” And may will simply not agree when I say that it simply doesn’t create a fairer world, and more often than not creates a less fair world. A world in which some people get to live off the productivity of others for a start. And throughout the history of states, as Nock and Oppenheimer say, that has meant the wealthy and connected living off the production of the poorer and less well connected. Indeed it is the origin of states – a more powerful group expropriating the production of a less powerful group. And so insidious is it that they would have us believe that the only thing standing between civil society and “might makes right” is in fact the state, whose origins are in exactly that, “might makes right”.

And so, to Big Society. There are some of us who passionately believe then that “social power” can deliver all the social goods some people think only “state power” can provide: security, equity, a safety net for when we cannot cope, and most importantly greater freedom and respect for individual preferences. But can we believe that Cameron, Clegg and so on believe this also? After all, they are part of a group of people who have sought, and gained, control of all that “state power”. Nock does not believe that states ever hand back power: that only by its ultiamte collapse having consumed all the production of society and still not sated itself to the extent that people begin to have to serve the state for nothing – slavery in effect – can we hope to reclaim that lost “social power”.

He feels that even when you vote for a different party, you’ll tend to find that that different party simply accepts the current status quo of the balance between state power and social power and may reduce the pace at which the state seizes further power, but in general will not begin to hand it back. It may occasionally appear to be handing back power, by, for example, switching from direct subsidy, to imposing regulations that have a similar effect. One might suggest that the Thatcher era privatisations were such an illusory transfer of state power back to social power. But ultimately it still keeps its friends in privilege at the expense of the least well connected.

But Big Society appears to be different. I noticed in Any Questions on Friday Tristram (“I’m not a Jeremy”) Hunt criticised Cameron and Clegg in the context of a question on Big Society, for believing ideologically that the state should get out of people’s lives and that a “thousand flowers would bloom” to replace its functions. Then we hear Clegg on Sunday [6] telling us that “You should not trust government – full stop. The natural inclination of government is to hoard power and information; to accrue power to itself in the name of the public good.” These are unequivocally good signs it seems to me.

I still have many qualms over the way this great hand back of power, if that is what it really is, will be implemented – after all, even as Prime Minster and Deputy Cameron and Clegg are but two people within a vast bureaucracy that has huge vested interests in holding onto power, and I’d rather people power stole it back from the state rather than the state controlling that hand back. But if we, those who are affected by overbearing state power, and those who would benefit from increasing social power, can grasp this opportunity, then perhaps, just maybe, we can make it happen.

But people have got to be persuaded that the state is bad at doing many of these things and that “we the people” could do them better, more efficiently and with a greater respect for the needs and preferences of individuals. That in itself is an enormous task, so conditioned are we to believing the state does so many things better than local or private provision could. That is the challenge of Big Society. And its inauspicious start makes it all the more difficult.

[1] <http://jockcoats.me/big_society_bottom_or_arse_down>
[2] <http://jockcoats.me/universities_and_big_society>
[3] <http://mises.org/etexts/ourenemy.pdf>
[4] <http://mises.org/media/category/220Our-Enemy-The-State>
[5] <http://jockcoats.me/our_enemy_state>
[6] <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/13/nick-clegg-protection-freedoms-bill>

The Seventh Seal and the Northern Soul


by Derek Turner
http://www.alternativeright.com/main/blogs/euro-centric/the-seventh-seal-and-the-northern-soul/

Note: I do much admire Derek for having the patience to sit through this ghastly film, and then find something decent to say about it. For myself, I’d rather sit through a whole season of Lassie films. [Sean Gabb]

Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 The Seventh Seal has become so deeply ensconced in the cultural picture library that almost anyone hearing the title will conjure up instantly the film’s most memorable image—blanched-faced, black-cloaked Death playing chess with Antonius Block (Max von Sydow), a Swedish knight recently returned from the Crusades. At stake is not just the knight’s life, but his afterlife, because his faith has been deeply shaken by his experiences. Behind and above the game, there is a stripped-down Nordic landscape ravaged, like Block himself, by disease and despair.

Von Sydow’s angular physique, bleached coloration and depressive personality are the perfect personification of hyperboreal manhood. He is no Block but a thoughtful and hag‑ridden man, who wants desperately to believe there is more to life than the merely mundane. At his core there chews a terrible emptiness, as if the chilliness of the septentrional zone has entered into his marrow.

With his practical esquire, Jons (Gunnar Björnstrand), who still prays daily (although he is only going through the motions, as he has probably always done), Block zigzags across Scania to­wards his castle and his waiting wife, during the course of a single dreadful day. Wherever he goes, he cannot escape either Death or, what is much worse, Disillusion. Along the corpse-strewn way, he comes across cynical church­men, flagellants, and a witch being burned by panicky soldiers—and makes confession to a priest who is really Death in disguise. He asks the priest,

“Why must He hide in a midst of vague prom­ises and invisible miracles? How are we to believe the believers when we don’t believe ourselves? What will become of us who want to believe but cannot? And what of those who neither will nor can believe? Why can I not kill God within me?”

He also encounters Raval (Bertil Anderberg) the man who originally persuaded him to become a Crusader—but Raval is now a looter and would-be rapist.

The only slight relief in the other­wise unrelieved misery is when Block and Jons come across a family troupe of strolling players whose moral tales and religious tableaux are much in de­mand from a panic-stricken populace. The players are (for the moment) healthy, happy, and with a young son, Mikael, who absorbs all their thoughts. Jof (Nils Poppe), a juggler who has vi­sions of the Virgin, and his wife Mia (Bibi Andersson) represent for Block an innocence and beauty that are for him unrecoverable. He and Jons rapidly de­velop a deep solicitude for them, with Jons rescuing Jof from persecution by Raval, and the knight eating wild straw­berries with them all in a glade, forget­ting his desolation for a sunlit moment. He says

“I shall remember this hour of peace—the strawberries, the bowl of milk, your faces in the dusk. Mikael asleep, Jof with his lute. I shall remember our words, and shall bear this memory between my hands as carefully as a bowl of fresh milk. And this will be a sign, and a great content.”

On a generous impulse, he kicks over the chessboard, enabling Jof, Mia and Mikael to make at least a temporary escape while Death is picking up the pieces. But it is too late for Block, his wife, Jons and many others. Death infiltrates the castle as Block entreats God for mercy and his lady recites from Revelations.

The following morning, as he and his family jolt along the roads out of the plague district and out of danger, Jof has a different kind of vision—of the silhou­etted knight and his followers being led away over the hills in a dance of death—

“They move away from the dawn in a solemn dance away towards the dark lands while the rain cleanses their cheeks of the salt from their bitter tears.”

Few films are so beautiful or liter­ate, and fewer have so well captured a mood. Although anti-Church messages, irreligion, and the fear of death have al­ways been with us, the combination of these messages with newly fashionable existentialism and Bergman’s starkly arresting iconography crystallized the then emerging but now everywhere evident crisis of faith and confidence which has become a contagion coursing across all the countries of the North. For Westerners now, as for Block, the spectre of extinction has become a guest at our every feast—and our countries are becoming as strange and unwelcoming as Bergman’s sickness-strewn Sweden. The losing game is not yet played out, and if we choose to, there is time for us to kick over the board and change the rules. But where are the 21st century cinéastes who will capture such a new and necessary vision?

All of Statism is Imperialism


by David D’Amato
http://c4ss.org/?p=6131

Anarchism builds on the proposition that smaller communities, growing outward from the sovereign individual, ought to determine for themselves the parameters of governing social mores. “Any decentralized, post-state society … ,” teaches the work of Kevin Carson, “is likely to be a panarchy,” a diverse patchwork of contrastive but mutually-respectful legal and social systems.

Accounting for the wide variations between ways that society might be voluntarily ordered and constructed without coercive authority or hierarchy, this pluralistic idea makes statelessness a starting point; it leaves to cooperative associations of free people what Benjamin Tucker called the “constructive work” of actually getting down to solving society’s problems, to confronting them without the albatross of the state.

Anarchism doesn’t contemplate a Utopia, society without crime or unjustified force, but it does urge that we do away with the grant of authority that we now give the state to carry out criminal acts in the name of “the People.” As dissatisfied Algerians and Yemenis are violently disbanded, sent back to their homes to endure the villainy of their countries’ elites, anarchism offers the promise of justice. If the people of Algiers and Sanaa are willing to tune out the state’s bans on their peaceful, public gatherings, they are more than capable of recognizing just how arbitrary and needless the rest of the state’s prohibitions against consensual behavior are.

Their guns, their armored tanks, their statutory paper tigers — all of these are impotent faced with the irrepressible spirit of voluntary, civil society, of a force opposite what Frank Chodorov styled the state’s “spirit of conquest.” Northern Africa and the Middle East have been blighted for generations by the legacies of foreign, colonial rules, and their revolutions have sought autonomy and self-rule in the face of imperialism. The revelation of anarchism is that all of statism is imperialism, external rule imposed by one group on another.

As Franz Oppenheimer and Albert Jay Nock so well understood, “[t]he State originated in conquest and confiscation,” never for “any other purpose” but “continuous economy exploitation.” The subjects of statism from Algeria and Yemen to Canada and the United States — the exploited — have no reason at all to identify with our captors. We ought instead to look on them as foreign invaders, to look at their state’s culverts of power as an empire occupying civil society.

It may be that the Yemeni statesman speaks the same language, has the same culture, and prays to the same God as the Yemeni common man, but the former is as foreign to the latter as any colonial governor. BBC News reported that an estimated 30,000 riot police were cut loose on the crowds in Algiers on Saturday, but the country is home to almost 35 million.

All over the world, the tiny minority of exploiters who laze about collecting from the industry of productive people balance their power on the constant, if latent, threat that free people may — as Orwell described it — shake them off as a horse shakes off flies. Unlike the invasive garrisons of the state, its outposts all around otherwise thriving society, anarchism is for everyone rather than for some. It invites everyone to provide for herself through honest, nonviolent exchange and prohibits nothing but invasion.

Society’s power has been dormant under the bondage of statism, but it is the greater power. As Étienne de La Boétie wrote, “Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”

An Open Letter to the People of Egypt


by Brad Spangler
http://c4ss.org/?p=6143

The following was published in Arabic on BlackCrescent.info, the Center’s new Arabic language web site, on February 12th, 2011. It’s a rough start because we’re just using Google Translate and trying to use plain language in hopes of minimizing translation issues. It IS a start, though, and we’ll get better. The Center could not leave the historic events in Egypt and elsewhere unaddressed or not specifically make some sort of outreach effort to the Arab world in the context of those events.

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT

February 11th, 2011

Greetings and Respect to you, the People of Egypt.

During the past several days, your heroic revolutionary struggle to free yourselves from the dictator Mubarak and his regime has been a source of joy, hope and inspiration for all good people throughout the world. On this, the day of the departure of Mubarak, please accept our congratulations and our admiration.

The signers of this letter are anarchists. Anarchists are people who believe that it is possible to have a peaceful, free and orderly society without any state.

We understand that many of you look forward to a secular democratic state. We suggest that Egypt would be better with no state.

Instead of police, have only security guards.

Instead of statutory law, have only contracts.

Instead of state monopolies to provide services, let many enterprises openly compete.

Instead of collecting taxes, let each person choose which services they want to pay for and whom to purchase those services from.

In summary, be aware that a world of only voluntary interaction without statist coercion is possible. Knowing that such a better world is possible, your creativity and courage can build it.

Today we’re starting a new web site to provide anarchist writings in the Arabic language. Please tell your friends and neighbors about www.blackcrescent.info and know that we look forward to an ongoing dialogue with you.

Thank you.

=====

Brad Spangler, Thomas L. Knapp, Mike Gogulski, David S. D’Amato, Josh Latimer, Bretigne Shaffer, Josh Carter, George Donnelly, Miss Darryl Grieve, Jill Pyeatt, James Cox, Nick Ford, Joshia Bush, Brandon Durham, Emberlea McCulligh, Kyle Bush, Darrel Drumwright, Gene Trosper, Darren Wolfe, Bob Wammy, Tom Kilmon, Robert Steel, Tom Denk, David Derby, Lance Weber, Benjamin Nichols, Roderick Long

Lord Monson Dies


Sean Gabb

I’ve just heard that Lord Monson has died. This is a moment of great sadness. I met the man only a few times. But he was a nobleman in the truest sense. His commitment to the defence of our ancient liberties was a standing case for the existence of the unreformed House of Lords.

Defence Cuts


DJW

I count myself as one of those who the Conservative Party ould never seriously canvass for a vote. While the quangos remain untouched, the race relations industry in full swing, international development spending doubled to £13bn, no real cuts in the six-figure pay packets of senior civil servants – while all this waste is going on – they are sacking trainee pilots – it is unbelievable to me that after four years of training they will be told it amounts to nothing and they will not be commissioned weeks before they were to earn their wings… I want Cameron out.  



FLC185, The National Health Service: A Libertarian Perspective, Sean Gabb, 18th August 2009


The idea that only profit-seeking organisations are consistent with libertarianism is to take a shockingly arid view of the ideology. What libertarians should like about commerce is not its taste for profit but its distaste for compulsion. What legitimises markets, in libertarian terms, is that they are structures of voluntary association. This is what brings the friendly societies and much trade union activity, and so much of what in Victorian times was called \

via FLC185, The National Health Service: A Libertarian Perspective, Sean Gabb, 18th August 2009.

Michael Ford: Ayn Rand and the VIP-DIPers


 

Michael Ford: Ayn Rand and the VIP-DIPers

Note: According to this article, Ayn Rand took money from the taxpayers to fund her cancer treatment. If true, she may have been a hypocrite. She would also have lacked a proper analysis of the world in which we live.

Collecting welfare of any kind when you don’t need it, or deliberately making yourself in need of it, is immoral. But taking it when you have fallen on hard times is not wrong at all. We do not live in anything approaching a world of free markets. Running your life as if you lived in a free market society will, in many cases, land you on the scrapheap of life.

I turn to the case of the NHS. The private market is not free. It is very heavily regulated – professional barriers to entry, professional behaviour codes, drug safety and availability laws, patents, and all the rest. These regulations drive up the price of medicine beyond ordinary reach. If you fall sick, what are you supposed to do? Grin and bear it when your private insurance goes about a tenth as far as it would in a free market? Or take whatever “help” your government offers? I have private insurance. This buys me certain advantages I have never yet needed to test. But I am under no illusions regarding the willingness of my insurer to keep me dosed up through a chronic illness or a long decline.

Welfare is a drug handed out by a ruling class that has monopolised the means of production. You don’t abolish the first until the second has been addressed. Get rid of the NHS, by all means – but not until after the medical cartels have been disestablished.

More fool Ayn Rand and her followers for preaching otherwise.[Sean Gabb]


FLC204, Brief Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt, Sean Gabb, 12th February 2011


FLC204, Brief Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt, Sean Gabb, 12th February 2011.

Abstract: Yawn…. Egypt very foreign…. Not like us at all…. Moslem Brotherhood waiting its chance…. Men in beards…. Settling down at last…. No real change out there…. Business as usual in oil market…. Real light bulbs on sale in Alexandria…. All a good advert for Richard Blake’s Blood of Alexandria…. Yawn – when will there be something else to watch on the telly?

For the State Blowback is a Feature, Not a Bug


by Kevin Carson
http://c4ss.org/?p=6098

The Muslim Brotherhood is in the news a lot these days, thanks to the recent upheaval in Egypt. Glenn Beck — living proof that pregnant women shouldn’t do LSD — apparently sees the Twitter Revolution as some sort of choreographed performance behind which the Muslim Brotherhood will dance their way to power. And that’s just the first step toward bringing everything everything from London to Jakarta under a revived Caliphate. The equally goofy Frank Gaffney has elevated the Brotherhood and “Sharia Law” into objects of paranoia comparable to what International Communism was for the Birchers.

So guess which country, as it turns out, has been courting the Muslim Brotherhood since at least the 1950s? That’s right. The U.S. government, since the Eisenhower administration, has promoted the Brotherhood as a conservative counterbalance to secular radicals like Nasser.

In 1953, according to Ian Johnson (“Washington’s Secret History With the Muslim Brotherhood,” New York Review of Books, Feb. 5), Ike invited around thirty Islamic scholars and civic leaders to Washington to impress them with America’s status as the premier defender of religious and spiritual values against Godless Communism. Among them was Said Ramadan, representative of the Brotherhood and son-in-law of its founder.

By the late ’50s the U.S. overtly backed Ramadan, and encouraged the Brotherhood as an alternative to radical Arab nationalism on the pattern of the Free Officers’ Movement and Baathism.

Why am I not surprised?

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of something like this. I also recall reading a few years ago that Israel had secretly funded Hamas as a counterbalance to secular radicals — in this case Arafat and Al-Fatah. It’s an open secret in the American intelligence community that Israel indirectly funnelled financial support to Hamas, starting in the late ’70s. Such a religious competitor, the Mossad hoped, would undermine and weaken the PLO. The Israelis were subsequently surprised by the scale of Hamas’s involvement in the Intifada.

Come to think of it, didn’t the U.S. support Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan a few decades back against some secular socialists or other? Zbigniew Brzezinski thought it would be a cunning move, in the great game of chess with the USSR, to draw them in a Vietnam of their own — specifically, a shooting war with fundamentalist guerrillas on the border of their own predominantly Muslim southern regions. Interestingly, Al Qaeda was named for one of the bases at which the Mujaheddin trained for war against the Soviets. And Osama Bin Laden, having witnessed the defeat of one superpower, decided there was no reason to stop with just one.

This pattern should be instructive. Governments are like organized crime families, operating as “executive committees” of their domestic ruling classes, and enforcing the privileges and artificial property rights by which their members extract rents from the domestic population. These crime families deal with each other, establishing constantly shifting alliances of convenience and redividing the world between themselves, as their relative strength shifts.

There’s a saying by Palmerston that nations have no permanent allies or enemies — only permanent interests. But there’s no reason the principle should apply only to the recognized governments of nation-states. The truth is a lot older than the Westphalian state system.

So you wouldn’t expect a bunch of jaded characters like the U.S. national security community to be surprised that the Muslim Brotherhood or Al Qaeda didn’t have the decency to stay bought.

I wonder, though, if they really were all that surprised. Each defection of a former ally of convenience just creates a new Threat of the Week, a new Moral Equivalent of Hitler, to justify the state’s self-aggrandizement. As Randolph Bourne said, “war is the health of the state.” But war is impossible without enemies.

If the tools of yesterday’s war become the enemies in today’s new war, from the state’s perspective that’s a feature rather than a bug. Just look at Dubya. If it hadn’t been for 9-11, he’d probably have been a one-termer. Instead, we had Tom Daschle announcing that there was “no daylight” between Congressional Democrats and the President, and fearless Fourth Estate champion Dan Rather saying “Just tell me where to line up, Mr. President.” The Democrats rubber-stamped USA PATRIOT faster than you could say “Reichstag Enabling Act.”

Brzezhinski said in retrospect, after 9-11, that he still considered his splendid little war in Afghanistan to have been worth it. And I’m sure Dubya agreed. Don’t get me wrong — I’m really not into the 9-11 Truth thing. But if you’d warned the folks at the helm that their cunning little chess move would create blowback in the form of three thousand dead serfs and a whole raft of new powers for themselves, I don’t think they’d have cried themselves to sleep.

If governments — the U.S. government included — didn’t have enemies, they’d have to invent them. And it seems they sometimes have.

Build Counter-Power, Create an Authority Vacuum


by Darian Worden

http://c4ss.org/?p=6111

The prospect of a state collapsing brings forth worries about a “power vacuum,” an unrestrained state of nature where chaos rules until the strong take over. But chaotic conflict is produced by efforts to seize power and exert power over other people. It is not the rejection of rulership, but the struggle to achieve rulership, that creates deadly conflict. The negation of authority, as advocated by anarchists, does not necessitate the chaotic mess associated with the phrase “power vacuum.”

Anarchy would mean that power is dispersed among individuals who would rather safeguard each others’ freedom than rule over each other. And if power is firmly in the hands of organized people then there is no power vacuum.

In politics, the word power generally signifies the ability of an individual or group of individuals to influence the decisions of others. Authority is an attempt to legitimate the exercise of power to compel obedience or allegiance to the higher ranks. Anarchists reject authority in favor of individual autonomy. Anarchy means that individuals have ultimate decision-making power over their own lives, and the only social arrangements recognized as legitimate are those that are based on consensual cooperation.

When authority amasses and exercises political power against people, it creates conflict. Hence the axiom that “anarchy is order, whereas government is civil war.”

The very concept of having no rulers often encounters fears of a power vacuum – an unsustainable, dangerous situation that can only end in the re-establishment of rulers. But the rejection of authority does not mean that power is up for grabs — it means that power is widely distributed, making it harder for tyrants to usurp.

The practice of anarchism fills society with empowered individuals, diffusing power throughout society so that no authority can take it over. Interactions of free individuals – the everyday pursuit of needs and desires combined with the recognition that mutual respect for freedom is the best way to realize needs and desires – build counter-power. Organizations of social cooperation that are established for the mutual benefit of participants, not for the power of some at the expense of others, help keep power dispersed in a fashion that safeguards individual liberty. Institutions of authority can be subverted or seized for the purpose of dispersing power.

Certainly, anarchy requires a number of people to accept the idea, but this true of any state of affairs that does not rest on brute force alone. A state can only exist so long as it can muster a significant level of allegiance. Every individual has the decision of whether to obey the decrees of those trying to amass power, or to follow the logic of appeals to disperse power. The creation of dispersed power establishes a basis from which authority can be effectively challenged.

When individuals possess power over their own lives, it means they have no personal power vacuum that tyrants could exploit. Power held by ordinary individuals gives them a greater stake in a functioning society as well as a more effective means of preventing social catastrophe.

The rejection of authority, as advocated by anarchists, does not mean that a nightmare scenario associated with the phrase “power vacuum” is likely. It means the power that authority monopolizes will be dispersed among the people.

Brian Micklethwait


 

Sean Gabb’s recent statement about the Libertarian Alliance

by Brian Micklethwait

I know how bored most of my little band of regular readers must be by now with the current travails of the Libertarian Alliance, but I do want to say a few more things on the subject.

I am actually now less pessimistic about the future of the Libertarian Alliance, following this pronouncement by Sean Gabb.  I didn’t, in this posting, predict the total collapse of the Libertarian Alliance, as Sean accuses me of doing, but I did fear it as an outside possibility.  Here, following this, I expressed more serious pessimism.  But in this recent statement, Sean says nothing to suggest that any publications from the era when I did them, or any done since, will disappear, either directly, or by himself going further off the mental rails and therefore hinting at further melt-down for the organisation.  This new statement is still rather graceless towards various people, me included, but that won’t matter if the LA continues to do worthwhile libertarian stuff.

The most important bits, I think, in Sean Gabb’s account are his defences against fears that have been expressed that Sean is an English nationalist before he is a libertarian, and an anti-propertarian in the Kevin Carson mould before he is a libertarian.  (I have not studied Carson’s ideas, by the way.) Had Sean defended himself by saying that he is an English nationalist and a libertarian, a Carsonite and a libertarian, that would have been very troubling, but happily he did not do this.  No English nationalist who really is an English nationalist first and foremost and anything else way behind, were he to read Sean’s statement, could mistake Sean for someone joining him in his nationalist struggle without wanting to influence the intellectual content of that struggle in any way.  In general, Sean contests the suspicions expressed about his opinions, rather than agreeing and then redefining libertarianism to mean this other stuff.  Good.

One thing in particular that Sean says about Tim Evans is, however, very wrong.  Sean accuses Tim of financial misbehaviour.  I don’t believe a word of it.  I think Tim’s handling of the finances of the LA has been excellent, thoroughly honest, and a great improvement, in terms of money raised and then either stored up or well-spent, over the Tame/Micklethwait regime, and then the Tame/Gabb regime.  If Gabb now leads the LA successfully, he will have reason to thank Tim Evans.  With luck, this accusation will not be repeated and will soon be forgotten.  The danger for Sean, and by extension the LA, is that if this accusation gets more mileage, Tim will be put in the position of having to defend himself by proving Gabb wrong, which I am sure he will be able to do but which could get even messier.  Sean would be wise to say no more along these lines.  Unless of course he sees sense about Tim’s handling of the LA’s finances and changes his mind, in which case a public but brief apology would be in order.

As for what Sean says directly about me and about the here-today-gone-tomorrow, electronic fish-and-chip-wrapping nature of blogging, well, there is some truth in this.  Most blogging, certainly most blogging here, is very forgettable.  But that doesn’t mean that it has no impact at all, and certainly not when you add it all up.  Blogging, as practised by those who have done it most effectively (Guido Fawkes and Bishop Hill spring to mind – in the USA, Instapundit), is not only here today but is having lasting impact upon tomorrow.  I think that Sean’s appeal to those who think blogging is mere fish-and-chip-wrapping sets up a false choice, between on the one hand, most blogging and, on the other hand, the more lasting sorts of intellectual endeavour, such as books that last, academic scholarship that lasts, and the best and most lasting blogs and blog posts.  The truth is that blogging of the more chatty sort has its bigger impact by drawing attention towards the more long-lasting stuff.  Look no further than Bishop Hill.  First a mere libertarian blogger, among many others.  Then a specialist blogger about the climate change debate.  Then a writer of a best selling book about the climate change debate.  Would that book have sold so well, and have had the impact it has already had (let alone all the impact that it will go on having in the future), without all of us fish-and-chip-wrappers telling people about it?  Without blogging of any kind, this book would not even have been written.

Anyway, I promised Tim Evans that, if Sean went public with what he had been saying more privately about Tim earlier in the week, I would defend Tim in public.  I now rather wish I hadn’t promised this, because such is the internet that even contesting such an accusation risks drawing attention to it.  I have now defended Tim.  But while doing this, I didn’t want to suggest that nothing else in Sean’s statement mattered, hence the length of this posting.

Brian Micklethwait

Sean Gabb on the Myth of Global Warming


Dear me – I sent out the wrong link earlier. Here is the right one:

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/multimedia/2011-02-09-eco-sig.mp3

It was BBC Radio Leeds on the 9th February 2011 at 12:15pm

Regards,

Sean

Stunningly accurate target-demolition, by CountingCats


David Davis

I’m sorry, I have to displace the last important post, by only a line or two, with a ref to this one. This is what the Gramscian-initiated-war against liberalism, especially in the UK, is all about.

FLC203, The Libertarian Alliance: A Plain View of What Has Happened, Sean Gabb, 10th February 2011


Note: This is all so bloody predictable for small organisations – lovey-dovey one moment, foam-flecked screaming the next! I have no doubt I am partly to blame for this. But here is my account of what has happened. Decide for yourselves.
______

Following our President’s resignation the other day, I sent out a news release filled with lush mutual flattery and with promises of future glory. But this will never do. The truth is that, both morally and financially, the Libertarian Alliance has been severely damaged. I have no doubt that I can repair this damage. Those who have caused it are persons of no long term importance, and their attacks will, in due course fade into obscurity. Even so, I do feel it is my duty, as Director of the Libertarian Alliance, to give the plainest and most truthful account that I can manage of what has happened.

via FLC203, The Libertarian Alliance: A Plain View of What Has Happened, Sean Gabb, 10th February 2011.

Yasmin alibi-Brown and two sides of a coin


Michael Winning

With a cracked armbone Im sort of laid up for a day or so, so I’ve been reading some commentators I’d not come across before. Ambush Predator sounds like a nice name and seems to be a sound fella form his stuff, so this caught my eye.

I recall being told that some woman called Yasmin Alibi-Brown, is that really her name? tried to assault Sean Gabb live on the radio some time ago, and he was then punished for objecting by having his mike turned off. Anyway here she is agiiain, talking about the iDave speech in Germany about multiculturalism.  She seems to think that while it’s OK to “confront” groups she doesn’t hold in very hihg regard such as the BNP and the EDL whatever that is, she’s annoyed that iDave said things not entirely adulatory about findamentalist Muslims. You can’t have it both ways, woman, grow up and try to think what you have said.

Its worth qquoting a bit here of what she said.

Some Muslims deserve castigation and worse for the terrible things they do. I frequently denounce them in my columns. But sweeping, indiscriminate execration of any collective is abhorrent and must be confronted.

The Ambush chap does well though. here he is in full.

…dear, dear Yasmin is weeping and wailing and rending her garments over that speech as well: on that speech:

Some Muslims deserve castigation and worse for the terrible things they do. I frequently denounce them in my columns. But sweeping, indiscriminate execration of any collective is abhorrent and must be confronted.

Really? Even that of the BNP? Or EDL?

Or bloggers? Or scientists? 

I found Cameron’s speech in Munich indefensible even though I completely agree with some observations and policy ideas.

Sounds to me as though you disagreed because of who was saying it. Surely not?

By speaking out in Munich he allied himself with the ghastly Angela Merkel who delivered a similarly provocative sermon last autumn. Racism is rife in both countries; in both nations, millions of their own natives rigidly hold on to their languages and cultures.

The bastards! How dare they, in their own country too!

As the speech progressed, you realised that Cameron’s problem isn’t cultural difference. It’s the people whom marauding Christian Crusaders called “curs”, wretched Mohammedans. Cameron isn’t troubled by Hassidic enclaves, Orthodox Jewish dress codes, or their religiously sanctioned gender inequality and stubborn self-removal from mainstream societies.

They haven’t decided to burn or stone infidels, they haven’t been involved in honour killings, and I think I’m right in saying they haven’t plotted terrorist acts against the state, either. Much less carried any out.

Your move, Yaz.

Someone likes us!


David Davis

David Thompson does. Here.

What a surprise….part 157b


Michael Winning

In with a suspected broken right arm today. Fell in a ditch on Sunday while busy slipping on large mudpatch, we had so much rain these last four days. So I can still type (oh God anything but that I hear you all say.)

Guido Fawkes says that (perhaps not) “most Lib Dems are against cuts in local government”, because Eric Pickles has found rather a lot that can be made, and they’re all shit-scared. The stuff is worth quoting, great prose and reveals the mind set of the people we are up against. Boss says I should paste lifted stuff in red.

The Guardian is very excited about a leaked email from some LibDem local council sandalistas who seem rather scared of Eric Pickles. As sound as he is round, when asked to find 25% cuts, Pickles ended up mapping out 51% in his department. No wonder they have “little enthusiasm” for the local government bill – it’s hovering over many of their heads.

They go on to bleat that Pickles is “happy to bypass elected local government and give power direct to local residents.” No wonder they are so upset, their power is draining away to, errm, the people. “The situation has been likened to having a republican in charge of the monarchy.” Good.

UPDATE: The Guardian are having a really bad day. Take the headline Most Liberal Democrat MPs oppose coalition’s NHS reforms, poll reveals. It’s not until two thirds of the way in that we find:

“MPs – 49 Tories, 81 Labour, 13 Lib Dem and eight others – were quizzed by the polling agency ComRes on behalf of the lobbying firm Westminster Advisers.”

13 Lib Dem MPs is not “most”

Kind Words Regarding Richard Blake


From Australia, come these very kind words on Richard Blake, the critically-acclaimed, etc, etc….:

Richard Blake is a poet of the unusual, and not the least unusual thing about his action-books is that they have so much poetry in them, with not a scrap of the usual historicising schlock. Not only does he pitch his battles in the historical no-man’s land of the seventh century, he finds the most exquisite sites to which to flip the reader—cities we have travelled but never understood, histories we can’t escape. And always his histories perversely exploit gaps in the record to go where angels fear to tread, knowing that history is stranger than we think or can prove: a Rome that has forgotten Caesar, a Constantinople that needs no Justinian-and-Theodora, an Alexandria more politically ferocious than anything under Mubarak. And as in so many of the great political thrillers, “history” is unpeeled like an onion as deception uncovers deception as the self-interest of Our Hero collides with the vaster yet meaner self-interests of the heroes of his time.

Jim Packer

WEA Librarian

Next, the health-Nazis came for the drivers….


Michael Winning

It says in the Waily-Mail that we should all now live “more than 100m” from a petrol station. Theyll be putting them up in them hills soon, so you can’t get pollutants in “vulnerable places”!

Really as the Boss says all the time but nobody listens, the buggers think we are their property animals.

Philip Foster to Paul Nurse


Sir Paul Nurse
The Royal Society
6-9 Carlton House Terrace
London SW1Y 5AG

29th January 2011

 Dear Sir Paul,

I understand that the Royal Society has changed its motto from ‘Nullius in Verba’ to ‘Respect the facts’. This is unfortunate.

In your factoid-riddled Horizon programme for BBC2 you allowed a NASA computer scientist to tell the audience, without a challenge, that temperatures have risen .7 deg. during the last 50 years. This was supposed to be a problem. Yet of course 50 years ago temperatures were at their lowest since 1922 (GISS figures) and therefore such a rise is not at all surprising, especially considering that temperatures have levelled off over the last fourteen years (Dr Phil Jones in a BBC interview 2010). By choosing a convenient starting point it can seem alarming, but it is not. You should, as a scientist, have challenged his assertions – ‘nullius in verba’. But if you merely ‘respect the facts’, you are at liberty, it seems, to ignore them.

The suggestion that a rise over 30-40 years will continue is like suggesting the following:

Since June 22nd last year a small but discernable daily reduction in daylight has been taking place such that by December 22nd daylight hours had nearly halved. If this trend continues (even though there has been a small increase in the last month), in about seven or eight months‘ time there will be no more daylight. We desperately need government funding to research and cure this dangerous trend.

Unfortunately that describes rather well current AGW thinking. In investigating all dubious activities the best thing to do is to follow the money‘. And, behold, billions of dollars, pounds and euros are being spent on “research” into AGW and in subsidies for idiotic “renewable” energy sources.* It has given NASA – already a rather corrupted bureaucracy – a new lease of life. As we know, in the UK, corruption of science has grown apace along with the foolish policies of mostly very gullible politicians. It is the poorest who now suffer the most – carbon taxed and bullied into expensive energy consumption (59p per litre of petrol is a carbon tax – the fuel escalator introduced by conservative chancellor Clarke as a designated green tax).

I am tempted to suggest you should stick to genetics. Climate is clearly outside your comfort zone.

 Yours sincerely,

Rev Philip Foster MA
1 Barnfield, Common Lane,
Hemingford Abbots,
Cambridgeshire PE28 9AX
01480 399098

* particularly idiotic as peak oil/gas is now hundreds of years away and peak coal not even on the horizon. Burning fossil fuels is wholly beneficial to the biosphere.

Politically incorrect film reviews – Machete


by Robert Henderson
http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/?p=637

Director: Ethan Maniquis, Robert Rodriguez 104mins Released 2010

Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan , Michelle Rodriguez,

This is a shameful film for any American actor to have agree to appear in. Reviewers have generally given it a panning simply on the grounds of its general cinematic incompetence, with a few of the more “sophisticated” hacks speaking knowingly about it being a spoof on B movies which builds upon the Grindhouse double bill (Planet Terror and Death Proof ) Rodrigues made with Quentin Tarrantino a few years ago. The reality is that it is simply an artistic mess . But none of this is the reason why it is shameful. That distinction rests on the fact that the film is an unabashed propaganda vehicle for mass Mexican immigration into the USA which rams home in an excruciating gross fashion the message white unhyphenated Americans BAD, Latino immigrants GOOD. I would like to say Goebbels would have been proud of it, but sadly I cannot because he would never have made anything so bluntly crass in its message.

The plot is liberal agitprop at its most over-excitable. Robert De Niro is Texas Senator John McLaughlin who is campaigning against illegal Mexican immigration and for the construction of a barrier across the USA to prevent easy illegal immigration. He likes nothing better than to spend time riding out with a group of border-enforcing vigilantes led by Don Johnson as Von Jackson. Early in the film McLaughlin shoots dead a female “wetback” with relish and just to make sure the message of his unequivocal evil strikes home, the woman is pregnant.

On the other side of the immigration argument is a one-time Mexican government agent (Danny Trejo as Machete Cortez) has his wife and daughter murdered by a drug baron (Steven Seagal as Rogelio Torrez) whilst on duty. This sends him on the run and we next meet him living in Texas illegally whilst trying to eke a living as a day-labourer.

Machete is approached by a man who unbeknown to him is the Senator’s spin doctor (Jeff Fahey as Michael Booth) as well as being a corrupt businessman. Booth offers Machete $150,000 dollars to shoot McClaughlin, saying he wanted him dead because McClaughlin is all for sending illegal Mexican immigrants back home and that would ruin the economy of Texas which it is claimed is dependent on illegal Mexican labour. Machete is dubious but reluctantly agrees after Booth threatens to set US immigration on him.

But it is a set-up. Just as Machete is preparing to shoot the Senator a shot rings out and Mclaughlin collapses with a leg wound. The non-fatal shooting has been arranged by Booth to gain the Senator support by portraying a Mexican immigrant (Machete) as the would-be assassin. However, Machete evades capture and then goes on the run committing ever greater mayhem as he goes, stopping only to donate his $150,000 to the leader of Mexican group devoted to smuggling Mexican immigrants into the USA (played by Michelle Rodriguez ) who variously goes by the names Luz or Shé and runs her operation from a fast food van.(I am not making this up, honest!)

As Machete weaves his shambolically violent way through the film his brother, a catholic priest played by Cheech Marin, is killed by Booth by crucifying him to the cross in his church. This prompts Machete to kidnap Booth’s wife and daughter April (played by Lindsay Lohan in the least demanding “starring” role ever) and Luz shoots dead Booth as he attempts to find them. The final stages of the action if it can be so dignified has Machete, Luz and co engaging in a fight with the border vigilantes and (natch) routing them. In an heroically laboured piece of dramatic irony , Senator McLaughlin escapes, but is shot dead the remains of the vigilante group who mistake him for a Mexican.

A US immigration officer Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba ) of Mexican origins pops up throughout the action and moves during the course of the film from being accused of being a renegade helping the gringos who is hunting Machete to a supporter of Luz’s organisation who gives Machete illegally obtained papers legalising his position in the USA.

That all sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? I dare say if Rodrigues was challenged over the one-eyed portrayal of illegal immigration as good and resistance to it as evil he would try to shrug off it off by saying he was being ironic or merely spoofing B movies. But that will not wash. There is the clearest of political messages being sent . That message was immigrants have the right to come to the USA regardless of what Americans think. Indeed, it goes further than that: it says to stop them coming is criminal and only the vicious racist would dream of doing so. To reinforce this point ceaselessly, every anti-immigrant character from McLaughlin to the humblest vigilante is portrayed as either having no redeeming feature or ,as is the case with Sartana Rivera, as someone seeing the light and switching their allegiance to the immigrants’ cause. Those who are pro-immigrant throughout are presented as being without moral blemish.

The depiction of Americans taking the immigrants’ side is a prime propaganda theme throughout. Not only does Sartana betray her duty as a US immigration officer, but doctors and nurses at a hospital are shown to be part of Luz’s group, and one of the security men at Michael Booth’s house suddenly gets the urge to say about illegal Mexicans that “We let them into our homes, we entrust our children to them but we say they shouldn’t be here. It’s crazy”. His fellow security men agree. Well, of course, the “we” here is not the “we” referred to by the security man. He means the entire population, but the “we” who make the decisions are the haves not the have-nots. The latter are in reality fiercely opposed to such immigration and are the ones who have to bear the consequences of the immigration through competition for jobs and houses, higher taxes for welfare and the general misery of either having to live in the invaded areas or move out.

But to tar anti-immigration proponents with the racism brush is not enough for Rodrigues. Michael Booth is presented as the immoral face of business. He supports the idea of the anti-immigrant barrier not because he is against immigration but because such a barrier would allow the flow of illegal immigrants to continue by making it possible for the likes of him to control by controlling the entry points. There would still be illegals but they would have to pay more to get into the USA.

The saddest thing about the film is Robert De Niro. He has for all too long been turning up in films primarily to collect his pay packet. Here there is no primarily about it. In easily the worst performance of his career, the awfulness of his acting is only mitigated by being placed against the backdrop of a cast producing even more embarrassing fare.

What would have been an interesting film on the subject of mass Mexican immigration into the US? How about one which showed it for what it is, an insidious form of conquest, with those resisting it being seen as patriots defending their territory , the immigrants as invaders and those Americans who supported and facilitated the immigration as traitors? Somehow I doubt whether that film will get made any time soon.

Tři Oříšky pro Popelku


 by Sean Gabb

I like this film. Mrs Gabb first exposed me to it 20 years ago. I found its charms grew with repetition. We now show it to our Baby Bear.

I particularly like the score, by Karel Svoboda. His ballroom music is a perfect match for the witty and parodic script.

In general, I have always regarded the Czechs as Germans who happen to speak a Slavonic language. This shows particularly in their music. The result is most pleasing.

For those who do not understand Czech, the film was a co-production with East Germany. It is available in German as Drei Nussen Fur Aschenbrodel.

In whatever language, I recommend this film.

Comment on the Delingpole Stitch up


by Robert Henderson

Judged by that clip, I regret to say Delingpole didn’t do himself any favours in the  interview. He was palpably nervous – far too much hand waving and looking about him – while Nurse was very relaxed, although he did maintain a preternaturally patronising grin on his face which was amazingly irritating.   However, the grin was born of the fact that Nurse knew, just knew,  Delingpole was going to struggle with the science. Having met the man* I would also say Nurse is considerably Delingpole’s intellectual superior. Nor is it true that someone with a scientific background in one science will not have an advantage over a non-scientist when they go into another scientific field. They will have the culture of science within them, its general procedures, its general arguments.
 
The worst moment in the clip was when Nurse gave Delingpole the analogy of whether he would accept a consensus on his treatment if he had cancer. Instead of picking the weak analogy apart  – all he needed to do was point out that having cancer would be  a certainty while global warming is not – he came to a dead halt for several seconds before feebly saying “Let’s return to climate change”.
 
* How have  I met the man? Well, there is a truly mad scheme by UKCMRI to put a gigantic research laboratory dealing in Pirbright standard toxins a few yards from the Eurostar Terminal, the British Library and a great deal of residential housing. Paul Nurse is the front man for the consortium proposing the plan. Far from being concerned about the environment, he is only too happy to take risks with it when it suits his purpose.
 
There is a big political story here, far more than the Standard article below  discloses. You will find full details at http://www.ukcmri.wordpress.com/
 
Spread the story around. I will make my documents relating to Gordon Brown’s involvement avaialble to anyone who wants them. 
 
If anyone has an email for Richard D North please let me have it.

Robert Henderson

Freemen of the Land Defence


I’m not at all convinced by this approach. We live under an absolute despotism tempered by a certain regard for the proprieties. Insisting on contractual rights with the authorities cannot ultimately succeed. The pleas in question strike me as legal gibberish. On the other hand, there is no doubt the Judge and lawyers here – assuming the case has been accurately transcribed – are confused and would rather not have to deal with the arguments. If enough people do this, the State may have to retreat. SIG

The Cat Is Out OF The Bag

5.2.11

From the UK Column 2011 Issue 1

This article is a continuation of the non-payment of council tax saga… now in its 3rd year.

The story so far: The council have demanded council tax from me, which I have refused to pay for 3 years – on the grounds that there is no lawfully enforceable contract between me (Roger Hayes) and the council. The council is refusing to provide me with a lawful contract because they think that they have the right to demand that I pay council tax…which they do not. I am happy to pay my council tax – but only when the Council has agreed to provide me with a lawful contract… this is my right. The benefit of a contract is that it makes the council agree terms and conditions with me and prevents them acting in an arbitrary fashion i.e. it brings power back to the people.

The fact is that the council has no right to demand council tax from me (Roger Hayes) – but they DO have the right to demand it from the legal fiction MR ROGER HAYES… but that isn’t me.

If readers are not familiar with the legal fiction – please refer to previous articles or the UK Column web site www.uk-column.org .

On the 11th January 2011 in the county court of Birkenhead, in front of witnesses, the court conceded to the right of Roger Hayes to act as ‘third party representative for MR ROGER HAYES. In essence the court agreed that they were two entirely separate entities. This is an extraordinary development to put it very mildly.

The court however did not concede without putting up a very vigorous fight… this is how events unfolded in the court room.

Judge: Can we first find out who is in the court… is MR ROGER HAYES in the court?

Me: Sir, I am third party representative for MR ROGER HAYES.

Judge: Are you MR ROGER HAYES?

Me: No sir, I am third party representative for MR ROGER HAYES… you may address me as Roger.

Judge: I will not address you as Roger; I will call you MR HAYES.

Me: Sir, I am not MR HAYES, the court is required to address me as I request and I request that you address me as Roger. (NOTE – court protocol dictates that a defendant or respondent can be addressed the way they choose – the judge then referred to me as ‘the gentleman’ but avoided referring to me as MR HAYES).

Judge: If you are not MR ROGER HAYES then I will take note that MR ROGER HAYES is not represented in court.

Me: In that case sir, you will have to also note that the council is not represented in court. (NOTE – This would mean that the case would have to be dismissed, finding for the defendant, because the plaintiff had not appeared).

Judge: I can see that the council has representation in the court.

Me: Then you will have to acknowledge that MR ROGER HAYES has representation in the court. We are all equal in the eyes of the law… if council has third party representation then so does MR ROGER HAYES. The council is a corporation and so is MR ROGER HAYES.

Judge: MR ROGER HAYES is not a corporation.

Me: Yes it is.

Judge: No it isn’t, it is a PERSON.

Me: A PERSON is a corporation.

Judge: No it isn’t.

Me: Define person.

Judge: I don’t have to.

Me: Then let me do it for you sir, A PERSON  is a  corporation (NOTE: This is defined in a law dictionary). Sir, are you familiar with the Cestui Que Vie Act of 1666?

Judge: I am familiar with many laws.

Me: Sir, I asked if you are familiar with the Cestui Que Vie Act of 1666, if you are not Sir, then with respect you are not competent to to judge in this matter and that gives rise to a claim of denial of due process.

Judge: Let’s hear from the council.

Me: Sir we can only move on to the council’s presentation when the court has confirmed that MR ROGER HAYES is represented in court.

Judge: Fine.

And the case continued… with me (Roger Hayes) acting as third party representative for the legal fiction MR ROGER HAYES and with the judge eventually telling the council to go away and prove its case. The judge was obviously very keen to avoid a charge of denial of due process i.e. a challenge to his competence. It was much easier for him to side with me and pass the buck back to the council. Smart judge.

So what does this all mean? In very simple terms, it is SEISMIC i.e. extremely significant. It means that the court has accepted that the council’s claim is against the legal fiction MR ROGER HAYES and not me, the flesh and blood man Roger Hayes. The court has also accepted that I (Roger Hayes) can act as a third party representative to defend the claim against MR ROGER HAYES.

The legal fiction cat is truly out of the bag (although for me this is the second time I have achieved this in court). If the council goes on to win its case, then the court will find against the legal fiction MR ROGER HAYES, but significantly, they will not have found against me Roger Hayes… because as the court agrees… MR ROGER HAYES is a corporation… which isn’t me. One important thing is now clearly established – I, Roger Hayes, am not liable for council tax, AND NEITHER ARE YOU.

The Very Literal “Conquest of Bread”


by David D’Amato
http://c4ss.org/?p=6048

The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, through its Food Price Index, has announced that “the wholesale price of basic foods” jumped “to a record high in January.” Observing the effects of “increasing demand in emerging economies,” BBC News reports that the President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, is entreating “world leaders” to confront the food quandary.

Since, as the BBC story points out, the political turbulence in Northern Africa and in the Middle East has been imputed largely to “the high price of food,” it would seem that on some level governments have an interest in mitigating prices. And while it’s certainly true that the pursuits of the state are the predominant influence on and root of the prices we actually contend with today, it is not for a paucity of state interferences that consumers are suffering.

Though it conflicts sharply with what the modest citizen is intended to believe about the state’s correspondence with economic activity, government “leaders” are not scrupulously crunching the numbers to cushion the consumer from the harsh fickleness of the free market. Contrary to the somewhat more enchanting myth that bureaucrats and politicians must intervene constantly just to stave off all-out economic calamity, they are, in reality, entirely responsible for the high prices they are entrusted to “correct.”

The state, the institution that Gustave de Molinari called the “monopoly [that] has engendered all other monopolies,” is the nerve center for elite interests; as such, its primary motivation, even without focused or streamlined premeditation, is to confine valuable resources like food commodities with the aim of creating occasions for completely unwarranted, extra profit. Quite the opposite of a glitch or complication that the supposedly commonsensical state is solicited to remedy, high prices are indeed the name of the game.

In explaining the monopolized economy, Murray Rothbard noted that cartels squander goods, engaging in economic “destruction” in order to manhandle price and stiff consumers. “The waste,” instructed Rothbard, “lies in the excessive production of [some

state-anointed goods] at the expense of other goods that could have been produced” (emphasis in original). He warned of the economic volatility inherent in supplanting the “evenly rotating economy” of free and nonviolent exchange with the cartel practice of “restricting production” to serve elite interests.

The political class, by caching away everything of value without ever owning it in any legitimate way, is allowed to levy taxes that we never see, penalties embedded in the high prices we pay. So many of the scarcities that provide the basis of the high tolls exacted on us are not the result of any kind of market process, but are shortages created by the state. As Kevin Carson has frequently argued, our added costs — the spoils of state capitalism — result from “the State’s intervention to create market entry barriers.”

The inefficiencies and rents explained by Rothbard and Carson are not congenital features of freed markets; they are attributes instead of an economic system in which the state, rather than the unimpeded judgment of individuals, picks the winners through subsidies and a regulatory regime that flattens anything but the most ponderous economic arrangements. Among the central contentions of free market anarchism is that, in a true free market, labor is valuable enough to enable the common man to manage quite well without the kind of slogging required to line the elites’ pockets today.

In his dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell wrote that “the economic … basis for a hierarchical society” is “to waste the surplus labor of the world.” And it’s that waste that the lucre of ruling class is built upon, that is reflected in, for instance, the U.S. government’s fortification of Big Agribusiness.

By forming an economy where neither price nor levels of production are tied to real, market needs, the state has created a needless struggle just to subsist. The way out is repudiation of the state’s arbitrary power to allow monopolists to divvy up our sustenance. Freed markets return that power to communities of individuals dealing with each other within voluntary agreements, the only legitimate way to allocate scarce resources.

Statement Regarding Paul Marks


by Sean Gabb

Though he writes like a man whose doctor has prescribed the wrong strength of anti-depressant, Paul Marks is at liberty to insult me as he pleases on this blog and elsewhere. If I were his friend, I might beg him not to write anything at all. Those unconnected and ill-spelt sentences, and heavy capitalisations, bring him into such obvious disrepute.

However, I must challenge him to justify or to withdraw his claim, on this blog and on Samizdata, that I have sided “with Adolf Hitler against Winston Churchill”. Calling me a leftist, or an anarcho-communalist, or a “black flag person”, or an “enemy of property” is bizarre, but unworthy of reply. Calling me a national socialist not only is false, but, given the moral environment in which we live, is also calculated to get me and my family into trouble.

I make this statement here on the Libertarian Alliance Blog. I also call on Perry de Havilland, owner of the Samizdata blog, at least to dissociate himself from what Mr Marks has said about me.

Guilt, or Self-righteousness?


dj

For conservatives prepared to consider the proposition that there is some kind of fundamental distinction between Western culture and that of the other civilisations of the world, the distinction is sometimes seen in terms of morality. We are, according to this interpretation, a more moral people. We can see this most readily in terms of a contrast with the East Asian civilisation. In China, the interests of the collective (family, nation, state) override moral considerations. Chinese people who know of their government’s use of late-term forced abortions to enforce the national family planning policy often simply deny that anything of the sort takes place; or, when presented with evidence, they get angry and start shouting. Anyone who has lived in China will know that discussions of Chinese brutality towards China’s own ethnic minorities proceed in a very unfruitful way. The Chinese government is prepared to peddle the most transparent lies, such as claiming that a small group of Tibetan refugees, shot dead by China’s border guards for fleeing the country, as shown on a mountaineer’s videotape, actually attacked the border guards. Lies come easier to the Chinese, which is why we call them “inscrutable”: we cannot gauge their moral sensibility.

The abuse whereby Chinese workplace bosses would refuse to allow their employees to marry—they were required to sign the documents—unless the bride first gave her virginity to the boss has been stymied by a change in the law, which does not now require workplace approval for the match, but sexual abuse in the workplace is not only rife, but standard, in China. The parents who lost their children in the Sichuan earthquake of 2009 were arrested for protesting over the schoolhouses that collapsed like jelly as the money for school construction had been siphoned off by corrupt officials. Of the 80-odd earthquake orphans who were disabled as a result of the earthquake, not one—not a single one, according to the Chinese press—found a family in the world’s most populous nation willing to adopt him. As far as most moral issues are concerned, the Chinese do not really seem to “care”.

We care. It is what we do as Westerners. We are the nations intent on building up geo-political rivals by subsidies and technological transfer. Hillary Clinton cares about the rioting Egyptians (although apparently much less about the displaced Palestinians in much worse circumstances). From racism to sexism to homophobia to destruction of the environment, Western political views are directly informed by a sort of cod-altruism. We are worried about the plight of slaves in Mauritania and about child labour in Pakistan. And such supposed “altruism” feeds directly into the politics of guilt: it is “unfair” that other nations are poorer than we; we were the ones who engaged in the triangular slave trade; we are not doing enough to help the homosexuals of Iran; the underclass in Britain cannot be expected to control their own fertility, even in the age of the “morning-after pill”, and so it would be “unfair” not to subside their unproductive lifestyles; and the death penalty for cold-blooded killers would be cruel, as social disadvantage is deemed to play a key role in such individuals’ personalities.

Clearly we are different from the other civilisations of the earth. And it is not just the Chinese who fail to measure up to our moral standards. While the Islamic civilisation includes a large and unbending moral component, one of the key things that stands out is the cruel use of state power to enforce their moral code. For some reason, Islam never set out to create individuals who were morally upright; it did not set out to build individuals who did not need cruel punishments to stay in line. Hilaire Belloc’s wonderful tale, The Mercy of Allah, sets out an understanding of Muslim society that is every bit as selfish and greedy as Chinese society. To rob others, unbeknown to them until you are far off, is shown in that book as viewed as “the mercy of Allah”, who facilitates the crime. Christian concern for others, even those you do not know, does not seem to be present in those societies. In Britain itself, the paedophilia and sexually predatory behaviour of young Muslim men, long suppressed as an item of news, has recently hit the headlines. What surprises you is that such behaviour is not rare or a fringe activity, but one participated in by large numbers of Muslim youths working together. Crime statistics are apparently “top secret” in the UK, but statistics from a range of Western countries confirm the prevalence of crime among the non-European part of the population. In Sweden, for example, the still demographically small first- and second-generation immigrant population is responsible for a large majority of rapes and sexual assaults.

True, violent crime is less common in China, where it is the overwhelming social norm for men to frequent brothels, and the lower level of violence can also be explained by higher average IQ levels in East Asia, which produce a fairly stable population, who prefer to use their intelligence to rip others off financially than to use their fists or force themselves on lone women. Indian and Pakistani doctors in the UK are known for “feeling up” their female patients—presumably in their culture they would get away with this behaviour, and “anti-racism” ensures they often do in Britain too. Real hard violence, as a social norm, is, however, rather found in the African-descended part of the population, who lack the IQs of the Chinese and the economic prospects of everyone else. Many geneticists believe that not only IQs but also the tendency towards aggression is coded for in human genes, and further solid information on this subject is eagerly awaited by conservatives.

So it seems clear that there is a real difference between the West and the other civilisations. This is not to deny that bad behaviour has not become much more prevalent among the Western underclass, possibly as a side function of state sponsorship of sexual incontinence and unmarried motherhood. The “wigger” phenomenon suggests that British youths are modelling themselves on their Afro-Caribbean counterparts, with negative social consequences. However, these phenomena are the result of the distorted morality or guilt of the Western middle classes, who have allowed bad behaviour to take root rather than being “judgmental”. This produces the curious circumstance that, whereas other civilisations, such as Islam, are unofficially immoral, in contrast to the full Islamic law, which would be unbendingly moral, we now officially support immoral lifestyles. Islamic revulsion at Western society has been frequently described in the press: it seems that calls for social integration fall on deaf ears, when that society smiles at images of young women drunk and half-naked lying on the pavement. At least officially, in their own communities, the Muslim leaders are not afraid to denounce immorality. It seems we are both more “caring” and less strict on the moral front than they are, or at least claim to be; there is a good deal of evidence that private moral behaviour is much worse in the Muslim community than it would be in mainstream Britain.

This produces a complicated picture. How can we be more moral if we are morally lax? The solution seems to lie in the cod-altruism mentioned earlier. Western society, and particularly Anglo-Saxon society, is noted for its sanctimonious and self-righteous tone. Western society functions as a competition for moral status, a game of moral “one-upmanship”. I think this explains the pretence of altruism: by displaying your concern for others, you prove your superiority to others, in this game at least. Free Tibet! I’d rather pay a bit more in tax! Save the whale! One of my best friends is black! We mustn’t be judgmental! All these are particular manifestations of the game of moral status.

Actually, the self-righteous do not actually give a damn about any one of their causes. I have tried to winkle out the bottom line of their altruism: when the self-righteous witter on about their concern for the 3,000 desaparecidos of Chile, I ask them if they are as concerned about the 30,000 members of the Matabele tribe slaughtered by the anti-imperialist, Robert Mugabe, in Zimbabwe. That generally leads to a tense conversation: their eyes glaze over, they refuse to listen to any more facts and get angry. Yet, if they really were altruistic, they would care about deaths at the hands of anti-imperialists too. It was shown at one point in the Somali famine that the agricultural situation had recovered in that country, but the fact that Western food donations kept rolling in made farmers reluctant to cultivate their fields. Why would it make any difference to the self-righteous if they were actually harming the Somalis by their vaunted “kindness”? Does it make any difference to them that the welfare benefits system has led to a large rise in the numbers of children brought up by single mothers? And that that situation is linked, in one of the strongest statistical links in the social sciences, with crime, delinquency, drug abuse, and the physical and sexual abuse of the children, often by their mothers’ string of “partners”?

If we are “moral”, we are moral in a way that is largely intended to flatter ourselves. That is why the objects of our concern are so curiously selective. In the 1990s, we were oh-so-concerned about the driving of the Bosnian Muslims out of their “safe havens”, which we viewed as part of a wonderful attempt to create a multi-ethnic society (ahem! among people killing each other), and yet the driving of the Croatian Serbs out of their “protected areas” failed to provoke a similar reaction. It was ordinary people who bore the brunt in both cases. It could be said that Western people are idealistic, and that they pick out the cases to show concern over with a careful eye on what would make themselves look good morally.

That is not to say that self-righteousness is not connected in some way with real morality. The fact that in most of these cases people are being treated in ways that would call for compassion—especially if you were a member of that society, and rather less credibly if you are just enjoying the sensation of concern via the television screen—is what the claim to altruism rests upon. To that extent, it seems that “youthful idealism” is used by a more cynical class of free riders to stake out their own claim to moral superiority, while not really giving a damn. I am a long way from condemning genuine altruism, although it would be very rare, and I do not think I have come across it in British society. Anyone who is really concerned about the starving millions in Africa would sell his house and give the money to the starving. I would not discourage anyone from doing so, as long as no-one else (for example, wife and children) were affected, in which case imposing suffering on them would not be genuinely altruistic. Quite simply, I myself do not care about the starving in Ethiopia—it is a very abstract concept to me, and charity is better directed to one’s own immediate community—but then neither do the self-righteous; the difference is, I do not feel the need to indulge in gesture politics on the issue.

Self-righteousness has become the moral stance of the British elite, many of whom are making large sums out of their concern for others. I am sure senior civil servants, bureaucrats in the health service, headmasters on six-figure salaries in failing schools, “quango queens” and charity directors all tell themselves that they are handsomely rewarded for their superior morality. They are all trying to do good, or so they tell themselves, and if they are actually imposing a financial burden on the low-paid, siphoning money off from front-line healthcare, teaching trendy subjects they know will damage the life chances of their pupils, wasting money on fatuous and politically motivated campaigns, and even directing money collected as “charitable donations” into their final-salary pension funds, they are able to rationalise it in some way to themselves. How lucrative “caring” has become! Quite often these people are prepared to siphon off large sums of money into overseas projects (collecting their salaries on the way). I would argue that the Chinese-style naked pursuit of self-interest at least has the advantage of allowing the Chinese to support their own society. They do not have to pretend to care about the Sudan, and so they can keep all their money in China. And they do not need to feign concern about the human rights of murderers, and so are free to support the death penalty and keep China a stable, low-crime society. And the Muslim society of wealthy Saudi Arabia sees no need to fund unmarried motherhood, so helping to ensure that most children in that society are brought up by both of their real parents. Amazing, is it not, how self-interest often fosters a healthy society?

How did Western society become so self-righteous? Is this merely a phenomenon of the twentieth century as our Christian culture receded? I would argue that the sanctimoniousness of the elite, and their middle-class hangers-on, has huge material advantages for the elite, in that it has vastly expanded the size of the state, but there are other advantages too for the elite of this form of self-righteousness. Whereas traditional morality required them to set a social example themselves, the new form of cod-morality requires nothing of them personally. You can be a serial divorcer and abandoner of children, and as long as you are passionate anti-racist and concerned about global warming, you are still a good person today. The cod-morality requires nothing more than occasional lip-service, whereas traditional morality was a tight life-long straitjacket of behaviour. We have reached the point where morality is what you say and not what you do. A pleasant person who never does anything to harm others, but voices his opposition to immigration—I would put myself in this category—is deemed in self-righteous circles to be a “nasty individual”, based entirely on his views. Someone who has ruined the lives of his wife and children has only to mouth platitudes to become accepted in the best company.

Clearly, though, self-righteousness is connected to our erstwhile morality. Even in the old days, those who were determined to be seen to be behaving in line with the church’s moral precepts were seen as self-righteous. They cultivated their moral images every bit as much as the new elite cultivate theirs. From one point of view, the change in society has been nothing more than a shift in the focus of morality, from sexual to racial matters. Incidents such as the persecution of the witches of Salem in early America show that the same tendency to self-righteousness, together with a taste for persecuting others that is very much alive in the new political correctness, has been there all along. Yet the difference is that the old self-righteousness of the family and the church fostered a good society: it held the fabric of the family and nation together. The new self-righteousness is destructive of the fabric society because it opposes the family and the nation, and it is for that reason, and not its mere sanctimonious tone (unbearable though that is), that I oppose it.

Finally, the church itself warned of self-righteousness and judgmentalism. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were probably not engaging in any form of immorality, but it was their self-righteousness that offended Jesus, who condemned them as “whited sepulchres”. A nation steeped in the Bible was on the look-out for self-righteousness, and this at least meant that a genuine difference between real morality and the cultivation of a fake moral image was clear to all members of society back then. Could it be that, as we have in the main abandoned Christianity, we no longer see the distinction between righteousness and self-righteousness? That having been weaned off the Bible, we take claims of morality at face value?

It was always a problem for the Christian church that it called for righteousness and condemned unrighteousness while claiming to oppose self-righteousness too. Is it not self-righteous to tell others to be righteous? I can only square that circle myself with the concept of nation that is Christian, rather than individuals who are Christian. At one stage, Englishmen were told they were “building Jerusalem”, that England must become the kingdom of God on earth. It was not a messianic vision of the Second Coming of Christ, but was rather a messianic vision of a good society, right here in England. Once the values that were once seen as moral and right are assimilated by the majority of society, it becomes harder for one individual to stake a greater claim to morality by adhering to them. They were once the norm in society. True, there were individuals hamming up their devotion to God, but there was nothing unusual back then about loving your wife “till death do us part” and bringing up your children to behave themselves. This moral tone was what was great about England—we were individuals with integrity, not individuals who it took the strictures of a cruel and barbaric shari’ah law to keep in line. The goal of the Church of England was never merely to create moral individuals, but to create a society where moral behaviour was the accepted social norm. Whether the theology of the Bible was true or not, it is a fact of history that the “new personality” spoke of by St Paul was put on by many—the majority?—of Englishmen, and that a society that worked on its precepts brought the religion of Christianity alive regardless of the facts of science and history.

So it seems to me that our traditional morality has metamorphosised into the self-righteousness, the cod-morality, of our new elite. Having been profoundly influenced by the Gospels, our nation was ripe for the emergence of anti-racism and various forms of synthetic outrage to replace the old certainties. Is this some kind of original cultural flaw in the Western societies? Does our oft-proclaimed moral superiority conceal a tendency towards self-deception and gesture politics? The irony is, when the Western civilisation was at its height, it was better than the rest of them put together!

Sheldon Richman on the Libertarian Left


http://www.amconmag.com/blog/libertarian-left/

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Free-market anti-capitalism, the unknown ideal

By Sheldon Richman

Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign introduced many people to the word “libertarian.” Since Paul is a Republican and Republicans, like libertarians, use the rhetoric of free markets and private enterprise, people naturally assume that libertarians are some kind of quirky offshoot of the American right wing. To be sure, some libertarian positions fit uneasily with mainstream conservatism—complete drug decriminalization, legal same-sex marriage, and the critique of the national-security state alienate many on the right from libertarianism.

But the dominant strain of libertarianism still seems at home on that side of the political spectrum. Paeans to property rights and free enterprise—the mainstream libertarian conviction that the American capitalist system, despite government intervention, fundamentally embodies those values—appear to justify that conclusion.

But then one runs across passages like this: “Capitalism, arising as a new class society directly from the old class society of the Middle Ages, was founded on an act of robbery as massive as the earlier feudal conquest of the land. It has been sustained to the present by continual state intervention to protect its system of privilege without which its survival is unimaginable.” And this: “build worker solidarity. On the one hand, this means formal organisation, including unionization—but I’m not talking about the prevailing model of ‘business unions’ … but real unions, the old-fashioned kind, committed to the working class and not just union members, and interested in worker autonomy, not government patronage.”

These passages—the first by independent scholar Kevin Carson, the second by Auburn University philosophy professor Roderick Long—read as though they come not from libertarians but from radical leftists, even Marxists. That conclusion would be only half wrong: these words were written by pro-free-market left-libertarians. (The preferred term for their economic ideal is “freed market,” coined by William Gillis.)

These authors—and a growing group of colleagues—see themselves as both libertarians and leftists. They are standard libertarians in that they believe in the moral legitimacy of private ownership and free exchange and oppose all government interference in personal and economic affairs—a groundless, pernicious dichotomy. Yet they are leftists in that they share traditional left-wing concerns, about exploitation and inequality for example, that are largely ignored, if not dismissed, by other libertarians. Left-libertarians favor worker solidarity vis-à-vis bosses, support poor people’s squatting on government or abandoned property, and prefer that corporate privileges be repealed before the regulatory restrictions on how those privileges may be exercised. They see Walmart as a symbol of corporate favoritism—supported by highway subsidies and eminent domain—view the fictive personhood of the limited-liability corporation with suspicion, and doubt that Third World sweatshops would be the “best alternative” in the absence of government manipulation.

Left-libertarians tend to eschew electoral politics, having little confidence in strategies that work through the government. They prefer to develop alternative institutions and methods of working around the state. The Alliance of the Libertarian Left encourages the formation of local activist and mutual-aid organizations, while its website promotes kindred groups and posts articles elaborating its philosophy. The new Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) encourages left-libertarians to bring their analysis of current events to the general public through op-eds.

These laissez-faire left-libertarians are not to be confused with other varieties of left-wing libertarians, such as Noam Chomsky or Hillel Steiner, who each in his own way objects to individualistic appropriation of unowned natural resources and the economic inequality that freed markets can produce. The left-libertarians under consideration here have been called “market-oriented left-libertarians” or “market anarchists,” though not everyone in this camp is an anarchist.

There are historical grounds for placing pro-market libertarianism on the left. In the first half of the 19th century, the laissez-faire liberal economist Frederic Bastiat sat on the left side of the French National Assembly with other radical opponents of the ancien régime, including a variety of socialists. The right side was reserved for reactionary defenders of absolute monarchy and plutocracy. For a long time “left” signified radical, even revolutionary, opposition to political authority, fired by hope and optimism, while “right” signified sympathy for a status quo of privilege or a return to an authoritarian order. These terms applied even in the United States well into the 20th century and only began to change during the New Deal, which prompted regrettable alliances of convenience that carried over into the Cold War era and beyond.

At the risk of oversimplifying, there are two wellsprings of modern pro-market left-libertarianism: the theory of political economy formulated by Murray N. Rothbard and the philosophy known as “Mutualism” associated with the pro-market anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon—who sat with Bastiat on the left side of the assembly while arguing with him incessantly about economic theory—and the American individualist anarchist Benjamin R. Tucker.

Rothbard (1926-1995) was the leading theorist of radical Lockean libertarianism combined with Austrian economics, which demonstrates that free markets produce widespread prosperity, social cooperation, and economic coordination without monopoly, depression, or inflation—evils whose roots are to be found in government intervention. Rothbard, who called himself an “anarcho-capitalist,” first saw himself as a man of the “Old Right,” the loose collection of opponents of the New Deal and American Empire epitomized by Sen. Robert Taft, journalist John T. Flynn, and more radically, Albert Jay Nock. Yet Rothbard understood libertarianism’s left-wing roots.

In his 1965 classic and sweeping essay “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty,” Rothbard identified “liberalism”—what is today called libertarianism—with the left as “the party of hope, of radicalism, of liberty, of the Industrial Revolution, of progress, of humanity.” The other great ideology to emerge after the French revolution “was conservatism, the party of reaction, the party that longed to restore the hierarchy, statism, theocracy, serfdom, and class exploitation of the Old Order.”

When the New Left arose in the 1960s to oppose the Vietnam War, the military-industrial complex, and bureaucratic centralization, Rothbard easily made common cause with it. “The Left has changed greatly, and it is incumbent upon everyone interested in ideology to understand the change… . [T]he change marks a striking and splendid infusion of libertarianism into the ranks of the Left,” he wrote in “Liberty and the New Left.” His left-radicalism was clear in his interest in decentralization and participatory democracy, pro-peasant land reform in the feudal Third World, “black power,” and worker “homesteading” of American corporations whose profits came mainly from government contracts.

But with the fading of New Left, Rothbard deemphasized these positions and moved strategically toward right-wing paleoconservatism. His left-libertarian colleague, the former Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess (1923-1994), kept the torch burning. In Dear America Hess wrote, “On the far right, law and order means the law of the ruler and the order that serves the interest of that ruler, usually the orderliness of drone workers, submissive students, elders either totally cowed into loyalty or totally indoctrinated and trained into that loyalty,” while the left “has been the side of politics and economics that opposes the concentration of power and wealth and, instead, advocates and works toward the distribution of power into the maximum number of hands.”

Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) was the editor of Liberty, the leading publication of American individualist anarchism. As a Mutualist, Tucker rigorously embraced free markets and voluntary exchange void of all government privilege and regulation. Indeed, he called himself a “consistent Manchester man,” a reference to the economic philosophy of the English free-traders Richard Cobden and John Bright. Tucker disdained defenders of the American status quo who, while favoring free competition among workers for jobs, supported capitalist suppression of competition among employers through government’s “four monopolies”: land, the tariff, patents, and money.

“What causes the inequitable distribution of wealth?” Tucker asked in 1892. “It is not competition, but monopoly, that deprives labor of its product. … Destroy the banking monopoly, establish freedom in finance, and down will go interest on money through the beneficent influence of competition. Capital will be set free, business will flourish, new enterprises will start, labor will be in demand, and gradually the wages of labor will rise to a level with its product.”

The Rothbardians and Mutualists have some disagreements over land ownership and theories of value, but their intellectual cross-pollination has brought the groups closer philosophically. What unites them, and distinguishes them from other market libertarians, is their embrace of traditional left-wing concerns, including the consequences of plutocratic corporate power for workers and other vulnerable groups. But left-libertarians differ from other leftists in identifying the culprit as the historical partnership between government and business—whether called the corporate state, state capitalism, or just plain capitalism—and in seeing the solution in radical laissez faire, the total separation of economy and state.

Thus behind the political-economic philosophy is a view of history that separates left-libertarians from both ordinary leftists and ordinary libertarians. The common varieties of both philosophies agree that essentially free markets reigned in England from the time of the Industrial Revolution, though they evaluate the outcome very differently. But left-libertarians are revisionists, insisting that the era of near laissez faire is a myth. Rather than a radical freeing of economic affairs, England saw the ruling elite rig the social system on behalf of propertied class interests. (Class analysis originated with French free-market economists predating Marx.)

Through enclosure, peasants were dispossessed of land they and their kin had worked for generations and were forcibly turned into rent-paying tenants or wage-earners in the new factories with their rights to organize and even to move restricted by laws of settlement, poor laws, combination laws, and more. In the American colonies and early republic, the system was similarly rigged through land grants and speculation (for and by railroads, for example), voting restrictions, tariffs, patents, and control of money and banking.

In other words, the twilight of feudalism and the dawn of capitalism did not find everyone poised at the starting line as equals—far from it. As the pro-market sociologist Franz Oppenheimer, who developed the conquest theory of the state, wrote in his book The State,it was not superior talent, ambition, thrift, or even luck that separated the property-holding minority from the propertyless proletarian majority—but legal plunder, to borrow Bastiat’s famous phrase.

Here is something Marx got right. Indeed, Kevin Carson seconds Marx’s “eloquent passage”: “these new freedmen became sellers of themselves only after they had been robbed of all their own means of production, and of all the guarantees afforded by the old feudal arrangements. And the history of this, their expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire.”

This system of privilege and exploitation has had long-distorting effects that continue to afflict most people to this day, while benefiting the ruling elite; Carson calls it “the subsidy of history.” This is not to deny that living standards have generally risen in market-oriented mixed economies but rather to point out that living standards for average workers would be even higher—not to mention less debt-based—and wealth disparities less pronounced in a freed market.

The “free-market anti-capitalism” of left-libertarianism is no contradiction, nor is it a recent development. It permeated Tucker’s Liberty,and the identification of worker exploitation harked back at least to Thomas Hodgskin (1787-1869), a free-market radical who was one of the first to apply the term “capitalist” disparagingly to the beneficiaries of government favors bestowed on capital at the expense of labor. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, “socialism” did not exclusively mean collective or government ownership of the means or production but was an umbrella term for anyone who believed labor was cheated out of its natural product under historical capitalism.

Tucker sometimes called himself a socialist, but he denounced Marx as the representative of “the principle of authority which we live to combat.” He thought Proudhon the superior theorist and the real champion of freedom. “Marx would nationalize the productive and distributive forces; Proudhon would individualize and associate them.”

The term capitalismcertainly suggests that capital is to be privileged over labor. As left-libertarian author Gary Chartier of La Sierra University writes, “[I]t makes sense for [left-libertarians] to name what they oppose ‘capitalism.’ Doing so … ensures that advocates of freedom aren’t confused with people who use market rhetoric to prop up an unjust status quo, and expresses solidarity between defenders of freed markets and workers—as well as ordinary people around the world who use ‘capitalism’ as a short-hand label for the world-system that constrains their freedom and stunts their lives.”

In contrast to nonleft-libertarians, who seem uninterested in, if not hostile to, labor concerns per se, left-libertarians naturally sympathize with workers’ efforts to improve their conditions. (Bastiat, like Tucker, supported worker associations.) However, there is little affinity for government-certified bureaucratic unions, which represent little more than a corporatist suppression of the pre-New Deal spontaneous and self-directed labor/mutual-aid movement, with its “unauthorized” sympathy strikes and boycotts. Before the New Deal Wagner Act, big business leaders like GE’s Gerard Swope had long supported labor legislation for this reason.

Moreover, left-libertarians tend to harbor a bias against wage employment and the often authoritarian corporate hierarchy to which it is subject. Workers today are handicapped by an array of regulations, taxes, intellectual-property laws, and business subsidies that on net impede entry to potential alternative employers and self-employment. As well, periodic economic crises set off by government borrowing and Federal Reserve management of money and banking threaten workers with unemployment, putting them further at the mercy of bosses.

Competition-inhibiting cartelization diminishes workers’ bargaining power, enabling employers to deprive them of a portion of the income they would receive in a freed and fully competitive economy, where employers would have to compete for workers—rather than vice versa—and self-employment free of licensing requirements would offer an escape from wage employment altogether. Of course, self-employment has its risks and wouldn’t be for everyone, but it would be more attractive to more people if government did not make the cost of living, and hence the cost of decent subsistence, artificially high in myriad ways—from building codes and land-use restrictions to product standards, highway subsidies, and government-managed medicine.

In a freed market left-libertarians expect to see less wage employment and more worker-owned enterprises, co-ops, partnerships, and single proprietorships. The low-cost desktop revolution, Internet, and inexpensive machine tools make this more feasible than ever. There would be no socialization of costs through transportation subsidies to favor nationwide over regional and local commerce. A spirit of independence can be expected to prompt a move toward these alternatives for the simple reason that employment to some extent entails subjecting oneself to someone else’s arbitrary will and the chance of abrupt dismissal. Because of the competition from self-employment, what wage employment remained would most likely take place in less-hierarchical, more-humane firms that, lacking political favors, could not socialize diseconomies of scale as large corporations do today.

Left-libertarians, drawing on the work of New Left historians, also dissent from the conservative and standard libertarian view that the economic regulations of the Progressive Era and New Deal were imposed by social democrats on an unwilling freedom-loving business community. On the contrary, as Gabriel Kolko and others have shown, the corporate elite—the House of Morgan, for example—turned to government intervention when it realized in the waning 19th century that competition was too unruly to guarantee market share.

Thus left-libertarians see post-Civil War America not as a golden era of laissez faire but rather as a largely corrupt business-ruled outgrowth of the war, which featured the usual military contracting and speculation in government-securities. As in all wars, government gained power and well-connected businessmen gained taxpayer-financed fortunes and hence unfair advantage in the allegedly free market of the Gilded Age. “War is the health of the state,” leftist intellectual Randolph Bourne wrote. Civil war too.

These conflicting historical views are well illustrated in the writings of the pro-capitalist novelist Ayn Rand (1905-1982) and Roy A. Childs Jr. (1949-1992), a libertarian writer-editor with definite leftist leanings. In the 1960s Rand wrote an essay with the self-explanatory title “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business,” which Childs answered with “Big Business and the Rise of American Statism.” “To a large degree it has been and remains big businessmen who are the fountainheads of American statism,” Childs wrote.

One way to view the separation of left-libertarians from other market libertarians is this: the others look at the American economy and see an essentially free market coated with a thin layer of Progressive and New Deal intervention that need only to be scraped away to restore liberty. Left-libertarians see an economy that is corporatist to its core, although with limited competitive free enterprise. The programs constituting the welfare state are regarded as secondary and ameliorative, that is, intended to avert potentially dangerous social discontent by succoring—and controlling—the people harmed by the system.

Left-libertarians clash with regular libertarians most frequently when the latter display what Carson calls “vulgar libertarianism” and what Roderick Long calls “Right-conflationism.” This consists of judging American business in today’s statist environment as though it were taking place in the freed market. Thus while nonleft-libertarians theoretically recognize that big business enjoys monopolistic privileges, they also defend corporations when they come under attack from the left on grounds that if they were not serving consumers, the competitive market would punish them. “Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term ‘free market’ in an equivocal sense,” Carson writes, “[T]hey seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles.”

Signs of Right-conflationism can be seen in the common mainstream libertarian defensiveness at leftist criticism of income inequality, America’s corporate structure, high oil prices, or the healthcare system. If there’s no free market, why be defensive? You can usually make a nonleft-libertarian mad by comparing Western Europe favorably with the United States. To this, Carson writes, “[I]f you call yourself a libertarian, don’t try to kid anybody that the American system is less statist than the German one just because more of the welfare queens wear three-piece suits… . [I]f we’re choosing between equal levels of statism, of course I’ll take the one that weighs less heavily on my own neck.”

True to their heritage, left-libertarians champion other historically oppressed groups: the poor, women, people of color, gays, and immigrants, documented or not. Left-libertarians see the poor not as lazy opportunists but rather as victims of the statemyriad barriers to self-help, mutual aid, and decent education. Left-libertarians of course oppose government oppression of women and minorities, but they wish to combat nonviolent forms of social oppression such as racism and sexism as well. Since these are not carried out by force, the measures used to oppose them also may not entail force or the state. Thus, sex and racial discrimination are to be fought through boycotts, publicity, and demonstrations, not violence or antidiscrimination laws. For left-libertarians, southern lunch-counter racism was better battled through peaceful sit-ins than with legislation in Washington, which merely ratified what direct action had been accomplishing without help from the white elite.

Why do left-libertarians qua libertarians care about nonviolent, nonstate oppression? Because libertarianism is premised on the dignity and self-ownership of the individual, which sexism and racism deny. Thus all forms of collectivist hierarchy undermine the libertarian attitude and hence the prospects for a free society.

In a word, left-libertarians favor equality. Not material equality—that can’t be had without oppression and the stifling of initiative. Not mere equality under the law—for the law might be oppressive. And not just equal freedom—for an equal amount of a little freedom is intolerable. They favor what Roderick Long, drawing on John Locke, calls equality in authority: “Lockean equality involves not merely equality before legislators, judges, and police, but, far more crucially, equality with legislators, judges, and police.”

Finally, like most ordinary libertarians, left-libertarians adamantly oppose war and the American empire. They embrace an essentially economic analysis of imperialism: privileged firms seek access to resources, foreign markets for surplus goods, and ways to impose intellectual-property laws on emerging industrial societies to keep foreign manufacturers from driving down prices through competition. (This is not to say there aren’t additional, political factors behind the drive for empire.)

These days left-libertarians feel vindicated. American foreign policy has embroiled the country in endless overt and covert wars, with their high cost in blood and treasure, in the resource-rich Middle East and Central Asia—with torture, indefinite detention, and surveillance among other assaults on domestic civil liberties thrown in for good measure. Meanwhile, the historical Washington-Wall Street alliance—in which recklessness with other people’s money, fostered by guarantees, bailouts, and Federal Reserve liquidity masquerades as deregulation—has brought yet another financial crisis with its heavy toll for average Americans, additional job insecurity, and magnified Wall Street influence.

Such nefariousness can only hasten the day when people discover the left-libertarian alternative. Is that expectation realistic? Perhaps. Many Americans sense that something is deeply wrong with their country. They feel their lives are controlled by large government and corporate bureaucracies that consume their wealth and treat them like subjects. Yet they have little taste for European-style social democracy, much less full-blown state socialism. Left-libertarianism may be what they’re looking for. As the Mutualist Carson writes, “Because of our fondness for free markets, mutualists sometimes fall afoul of those who have an aesthetic affinity for collectivism, or those for whom ‘petty bourgeois’ is a swear word. But it is our petty bourgeois tendencies that put us in the mainstream of the American populist/radical tradition, and make us relevant to the needs of average working Americans.”

Carson believes ordinary citizens are coming to “distrust the bureaucratic organizations that control their communities and working lives, and want more control over the decisions that affect them. They are open to the possibility of decentralist, bottom-up alternatives to the present system.” Let’s hope he’s right.

Sheldon Richman blogs at Free Association.

Egypt: Let the Looting Begin!


by Kevin Carson
http://c4ss.org/?p=6044

You know the drill: A formerly useful dictator outlives his usefulness to the U.S. government, becoming a public embarrassment, or maybe even a loose cannon who can no longer be relied on to follow orders. So — they suddenly discover he’s a dictator!

The folks in Washington develop a sudden enthusiasm for “People Power,” and start replaying inspiring footage of the Berlin Wall coming down. Then the people marching in the streets, despite all their sincere sacrifice and hopes for building a new kind of society, find — when the smoke has cleared — their revolution stolen out from under them and trademarked as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Soros Foundation, NED or IRI. And the face of Vlaclav Havel or Nelson Mandela is slapped on the side of the box as a brand-name icon.

If they’re lucky their prize is a “spectator democracy,” with formally democratic procedures and a heapin’ helpin’ of what the neocons call “rule of law” (by which they mean mostly Weberian bureaucratic rationality and predictable rules for foreign investors). The people get to choose periodically between slightly differing factions of the same neoliberal power elite, after which they sit down and shut up while the newly elected “democratic” government gets to work implementing the IMF’s structural adjustment program and ratifying the latest “Free Trade Agreement” (complete, of course, with “strong intellectual property protections”).

Which brings us to Egypt. Guess who Obama’s sent as Imperial Plenipotentiary to that country? Frank G. Wisner, former director at Enron and AIG, and namesake son of a founding spook at the OSS and CIA (who helped overthrow Arbenz and Mossadeq).

At Counterpunch, Vijay Prashad describes Wisner as “bagman of Empire, and … bucket-boy for Capital” (“The Empire’s Bagman,” Feb. 2). He’s cast in the same role in Cairo as Dick Holbrooke played for Clinton in the Balkans: A sort of Democratic James Baker.

Wisner, in short, is a gray eminence in the “real government” that runs America and much of the world: Pentagon and CIA black budget operators, narcotraffickers, banks to launder drug money, death squads and paramilitaries that the CIA spooks fund with that drug money, and camp following crony capitalists like Halliburton and Blackwater.

Perhaps the most interesting item on his resume is his role as co-chair of the working group (co-sponsored by the CFR and James Baker Institute) that drafted the 2002 report “Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq.” It called on the U.S. to “promote” a post-Saddam government based on “democratic principles … and free market economics.”

To see what “democratic principles” and “free market economics” translated into in Iraq, you need only look at the “100 Orders” issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer. Order 81 on “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety” had the practical effect of updating Iraq’s IP law to “meet current internationally-recognized standards of protection” (including the licensing of GM seeds and criminalization of seed-saving, per Monsanto’s orders). Bright Young Things from the Heritage Foundation, inside the Green Zone, engineered the “privatization” of some 200 state-owned firms (at fire sale prices) to American crony capitalists.

There were some notable Saddam-era regulations that Bremer neglected to liberalize, like the prohibition on collective bargaining in the (about to be “privatized”) public sector enterprises, and the freezing of the trade union federation’s assets. Bremer’s occupation regime actually stormed the federation’s headquarters and arrested several of its leaders. The Iraqi National Congress, perhaps the most genuinely progressive and democratic force in Iraq, was likewise suppressed.

Once the U.S. military authorities had transformed Iraq into the same kind of banana republic that Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay engineered in the Marianas Islands, it could be safely handed over to the new “sovereign, democratic” government.

So, boys and girls, make some popcorn, sit back and enjoy Democracy Theatre, this week’s episode in Egypt — just don’t look at the man behind the curtain.

Let the looting begin.