Monthly Archives: April 2011

The utilitarian case for the monarchy

by Robert Henderson

The utilitarian case for the monarchy is not about pageantry, deference or the vulgar belief that it is worth keeping because it acts as a tourist magnet. It is not about the cost of the monarchy compared with a president. It is not about whether the individual members of the Royal family are worthy beings or if its very existence is an insult to ideas of politically correct equality. The utilitarian case is purely political: our monarchy underpins Parliamentary government.

In resisting the abuse of the many by the few, Britain begins with the great advantages of a parliamentary system and an in practice non-executive head of state chosen by a means utterly outside political manipulation short of the outright criminality of murder, blackmail, illicit threats and bribery, namely birth. These provide a massive barricade against a Prime Minister who would be a despot. He cannot act without the support of an elected parliamentary majority. His cabinet in practice must be overwhelmingly drawn from elected politicians. He may change his cabinet but he cannot do so without regard to a cabinet member’s status and popularity within the party on whose support he depends.

Most importantly, the prime minister (or any other politician) cannot become head of state. This is of central importance, because whether the powers of a president be executive or ceremonial, the mere existence of the office of president provides an avenue for those who would subvert parliamentary control of the executive. The example of De Gaulle in France
in the early years of the Fifth Republic demonstrates how easily a President’s powers may be extended by the overtly democratic means of a referendum against the wishes of a Parliament. As things stand, a would be British dictator would have to do one of two things. The constitutionally legitimate path would require him to first persuade Parliament to
adopt the idea of an executive presidential system and then win the backing of the electorate for a change to a presidential system either through a referendum or an electoral mandate. His illegitimate path would consist of either a referendum put to the country against the wishes of Parliament or an outright coup backed by the military and police.

This is not to say that a prime minister equipped with a large majority cannot have a great deal of freedom and personal power. Both Thatcher and Blair achieved this. But however big their majority or great their personal authority they could not routinely make policy without some regard to the wishes of their ministers, backbenchers and the electorate. Whatever dark thoughts Thatcher may have had about mass immigration or membership of the EU, she was in practice hamstrung in doing anything about it by the opposition of powerful ministers such as Nigel Lawson and Geoffrey Howe. Tony Blair’s desire to severely reduce the welfare state was thwarted over many years by his Chancellor Gordon Brown. To those leashes on their dictatorial desires can be added the fact that both Thatcher and Blair left office before they wanted to as a result of dissent amongst their parliamentary parties. Had either been an elected president operating outside parliament, neither would have been removed before the end of their term of office.

A parliamentary system such as that of Britain has other restraints on abuses of power. First-past-the-post elections based on constituencies means that MPs are not solely beholden to their party elite s as is the case with a party list system, and general elections, at least since 1945, have normally produced a single party with a majority in the House of Commons.
This latter fact means that the vast majority of modern British government have not been able to fail to honour their manifestos on the grounds that they were part of a coalition.

If a demand for a president arose in Britain there would be an opportunity for those pressing for such a change to seek an executive president with the executive removed from Parliament on the grounds that it was “more democratic” and provided a check on the power of the executive. . Anyone who thinks this is a good idea should look at the American experience where the powers of the president are constrained by a division of powers outlined in a written constitution administered by a supreme court. The President appoints his cabinet subject only to the agreement of the Senate, the President’s nominees being normally accepted. Supreme Court judges are also nominated by serving presidents and vetted by the Senate. These nominations meet more Senate opposition, but most of those nominated are passed and if one is rejected, the President still gets to nominate an alternative. That means a president will broadly speaking get a judge into the court who is sympathetic to the president’s political views. As Supreme Court judges are elected for life, a president
who is able to get even two new judges onto the court may affect its political bias for decades.

Even if a supposedly non-executive president was adopted with the executive remaining in Parliament, the relationship between the prime minster and head of state would be different. If the president was elected, there would be a second font of democratic authority regardless of the president’s powers. This would mean that there would be a constant temptation for a powerful politician to get themselves or a stooge elected to the presidency and then use their control of Parliament to increase the president’s powers. If the president was simply appointed by politicians a prime minster with a large majority could either take the presidency themselves and use his parliamentary control to increase his powers or place a stooge in as president, use Parliament to increase the presidential powers then control the stooge.

None of this is to pretend that the British system of government is perfect for the executive has found many ways of thwarting proper parliamentary oversight and control . The way it does this is fivefold (1) the entanglement of Britain in treaties, most devastatingly those related to the EU, which remove sovereign power from not only Parliament but Britain; (2) the increasing grip of party elites on the selection of candidates for Westminster seats, something of particular importance with the rise of the career politician who has never done
a job outside of politics; (3) an ever swelling use of secondary legislation, particularly statutory instruments, which provide much less opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny than primary legislation; (4) the increasing appointment of peers as ministers and non-politicians as “Tsars” for particular policy areas and (5) the use of the Royal Prerogative by prime ministers.

There are ready cures for these ills. Treaties could be repudiated to regain sovereignty; the power of selection of Parliamentary candidates invested solely in local constituency parties would greatly reduce the power of party elites; a requirement that a Parliamentary candidate should have ten years work experience unconnected with politics before being able to stand for Parliament would end the career politician; withdrawal from the EU would greatly reduce the amount of secondary legislation and increased time to scrutinise what was left and the use of peers and non-politicians banned.

That leaves the Royal Prerogative which represents a particularly danger to democratic control because the powers exercisable under it are large. This is because of the long, organic
development of the relationship between Parliament and the Crown, the powers and rights of the Crown are little circumscribed by law, although most, and all the important ones, are now invested in practice in the office of PM. The dissolution or proroguing of Parliament and the calling of elections are by the prerogative. The PM and his ministers are appointed by
the Crown. In principle, the monarch could appoint a Government in which none of its members sat in Parliament. No Bill can become a law without the monarch’s signature. Treaties and the making of war and peace can and are made without the assent of Parliament. All foreign relations are in principle within the monarch’s remit. Justice is the monarch’s. The Monarch can do no wrong. Many senior state appointments such as appointments to the higher judiciary and bishoprics are one by the prerogative. The monarch is head of the armed forces. There is prerogative power which allows the Crown to expropriate or requisition private property (with proper compensation) in time of war or apprehension of war. The Crown has limited powers of legislation under the prerogative, principally as respects the civil service and UK dependent territories. This legislation is made by Orders in Council, ordinance, letters patent and royal warrant. A ragbag of other rights such as treasure trove and bona vacantia (the reversion to the Crown of property where there is no inheritor) and arcane rights such as the monarch’s right to (most) swans also exists.

The simplest thing would be to cancel all prerogative rights which have a serious political dimension. This would reduce greatly the power of the PM and consequently pass power to Parliament. Such powers as are left to the monarch should be laid down clearly in law. That would do a great deal to increase the power of Parliament and the ordinary member.
However, more could be done without producing a situation which would leave a Parliament with an executive unable to act. I would ban the whipping of MPs, restrict the size of government to reduce the government “payroll vote” ( modern governments draw in more than 100 MPs) and make the justice system truly independent by removing the political officers – Lord Chancellor, Attorney-General and Solicitor-General – from the process of justice.

The banning of whips would not mean a government with a working majority was constantly defeated because most party members will vote for their party programme. Governments would have to get used to accepting the odd defeat on even important policies as a fact of life not a cause to call a motion of confidence. The reduction of the “payroll vote” would lead
to more independent minded backbenchers who would see being a backbencher as an honourable and worthwhile end it itself. The removal of the politicians from the process of justice is necessary to observe natural justice.

Two other things would be s desirable as a check on the executive: a written constitution designed not to promote a political agenda but to protect democratic control and prevent governments from undertaking anti-democratic policies or reckless behaviour which self-evidently will be damaging to the country. If there is a Supreme Court to administer it, judges should be selected for a fixed period of five years and chosen by a free vote of the Commons. Alternatively, the administration could be done by a reformed second chamber (see below).

The second thing is electoral reform. To address the problem of parties with even less than 40% of the popular vote ending up with large majorities, for the Commons I would suggest double member constituencies with each elector having a single vote. The two candidates receiving the most votes in each constituency would be elected. This would probably both reduce the size of majorities whilst giving any elector a choice of two MPs to go to rather than one.

As for the Lords, if you want a house which will not engage in a democratic mandate war with the Commons or simply replicate the party dominance of the Commons, I suggest selecting a house by lot from all those who put themselves forward to serve a single term of ten years, sufficient time for them to become proficient as a revising chamber.

Just Watched It All on the Telly

Very fine, I thought.

Libertarian Alliance Statement on the Royal Wedding

Statement by Sean Gabb
For the Libertarian Alliance
On the Happy Occasion of the Royal Wedding
29th April 2011

On behalf of those Officers of the Libertarian Alliance who do not yet regard the Monarchy with the contempt it richly deserves – which may or may not for the moment include me – I wish to congratulate William Mountbatten-Windsor and Catherine Middleton on this evening before  the happy occasion of their nuptials.

I must say that, although thoughts of an “elected” President incline me to projectile vomiting, my own regard for the Monarchy has been sorely tested over the past three or four decades. It does not concern me if Her Present Majesty is not a woman of great intellectual distinction – after all, our last Monarch who did not at least border on the subnormal was James I, and he was a Scotchman without potty training. Worse by far than slight stupidity is lack of character and lack of judgement.

Let it be granted that our Her Present Majesty is now a shambling old woman in her eighties. Until she became that, however, there was much she could have done to slow the progress of England into a sinister laughing stock. In strict law, she is our Head of State and Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. She appoints all the bishops and judges and all the ministers and civil servants. She declares war and all treaties are signed on her behalf. The only thing she cannot do is make laws by her own authority and impose taxes. She must have the consent of Parliament for both. She can also veto any parliamentary bill she dislikes – and her veto cannot be overriden by any weighted majority vote of Parliament.

During the past three centuries, the convention first emerged and then hardened that all these powers are exercised in practice by a Prime Minister who is leader of the majority party in the House of Commons. The power of veto has not, I think, been exercised since 1708. The tacit deal has been that we regard whoever wears the Crown in public as the Lord’s Anointed, and the Monarch acts only on the advice of a Prime Minister who is ultimately accountable to us.

The resulting constitution is unwritten, and is usually rather opaque to foreign observers, who tend to the error either that the Monarch is all-important or that England is some kind of republic. Neither is the case. The deal described above rests on the assumption that politics is other than a cartel of tyrants and traitors. When the politicians begin to abolish the rights of the people, it is the duty of the Monarch to step in and to rebalance the Constitution.

That duty has been apparent since at least 1972, when we were lied into the European Union. Elizabeth the Useless should have acted then. There have been many times since when she should have acted. At all times, she could have sacked the Government and dissolved Parliament without provoking riots in the street. So far as I can tell, she has acted only twice in my liftetime to force changes of policy. In 1979, she bullied Margaret Thatcher to go back on her election promise not to hand Rhodesia over to a bunch of black Marxists. In 1987, she bullied Margaret Thatcher again to give in to calls for sanctions against South Africa.

And that was it. She is somewhere on record as having said that she regards herself more as Head of the Commonwealth than as Queen of England. Certainly, I have never seen evidence that she has lifted a finger to defend the rights of her English subjects. In my view, that abolishes my duty of allegiance to her or any of her likely successors – who are equally useless. All that stops me from becoming a committed republican, as said, is the certainty that a head of state chosen by any of the likely other methods would be still worse.

I sometimes feel regret that a constitution that reconciled liberty with political stability for longer than any other in recorded history has been subverted. More often, I range between bitterness and anger. I used to regard the French Revolutionaries with all the horror of a smug and patriotic Englishman. Nowadays, I think rather fondly of the tumbrils and the guillotine and those ghastly women knitting away beneath it….

But I suspect I am wandering from my stated theme. On behalf of the Libertarian Alliance – with the reservations stated above – I wish all happiness and prosperity to the Royal couple. At the last Royal Wedding, back in 1981, I spent most of the day in bed, listening to Die Meistersinger. This time, I suspect I shall be bullied into having a shave and watching every ghastly detail on the telly. Well, at least Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will not be polluting the event by their presence. If the Mountbatten-Windsors had shown a little more backbone when these wretches were in office, I might think more of them today.


Manifesto of the Freedom Democrats

Note: This really is the politics of the sticking plaster. There is no recognition here of the ideological or repressive state apparatus. The assumption seems to be that these people will be allowed to win an election and then put their silly programme into action. But they will not be allowed to win – even if they can persuade anyone at all to vote for them. If they do win, they will not be allowed to do what little they promise. Rather than fussing about reforms to vocational education, they should be explaining why and how they ought to carry through a modern equivalent of dissolving the monasteries.

They might also give some pointer to a website. Bah! [SIG]

Out of the ashes of the old is born new life.  We are pleased to announce the formation of the Freedom Democrats under the chairmanship of Gary Marshall and assisted by vice chairman Cllr. Michael Simpkins.  A new political party occupying the centre right ground of British politics,  our ideology in one of Modern Nationalism.  We aim to appeal to Nationalists both British and English, Patriots and other such like minded people.

Modern British Nationalism or Patriotism is defined as the political and ideological structure to ensure the continued existence of our British way of life, the preservation of our culture and heritage and freedom from multi-culturism and political oppressiveness for ourselves and our descendants.  It does not discriminate on the grounds of race or ethnicity of any one group of people living in Britain as a British citizen but believes in the integration of all into the British culture and way of life.  Modern Nationalism is one country, one culture.  It objects to all forms of political extremism.

In forming our policies we have consulted with industry professionals including teachers and military chiefs.  Here are just a few bullet points. 


A comprehensive system with teacher assessment and streaming and the option to divert from GCSE studies to vocational training from the age of 15.

Free university courses for selected trades that directly benefit the country such as nursing and medicine.

The option to earn credits for a free higher education by working in the voluntary sector from age 14. 


Full life sentences for capital offences. (Life means life) 

Prison term served lengthened from the current half to two thirds for short term sentences.

 No early release for repeat offenders. 


A fair system of short term work permits based on a “need & skills” basis and linked to matching every foreign worker with a UK born apprenticeship and a focus on obtaining negative net migration using only the emigration/immigration of foreign born nationals and not British nationals. 


Reverse the recent cuts to our Harrier, Nimrod and aircraft carrier fleet.

Military equipment where possible to be British designed and built.

Introduce an optional 3 year engagement for over 18’s unemployed for 12 months or more with the emphasis on trade training. There is no guarantee of Job Seekers Allowance for those who decline the option.

Priority on housing lists for service personnel leaving after 12 years service or for those medically discharged during conflict. 

As you can see there are distinct differences between our policies and those of some more extreme nationalist parties.  Modern nationalism is also moderate nationalism.

We are pleased to announce that our party has already achieved electoral success on two councils in the south east with further candidates standing for election on May 5th in Devon and Kent.

Existing British Freedom Party members may, by forwarding their membership cards to us continue membership with our party until 31st October.  New memberships will be for 12 months from date of joining.

We invite you to view our web site Freedom Democrats for a full list of our policies.

Disclaimer:  You are receiving this email as your details may have been passed onto us as someone who may be interested in news of the Freedom Democrats. To stop further emails please reply to this message with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject.

Freedom Democrats.  16 Walsingham Place, Truro, Cornwall UK TR1 2RP

Richard Troxell. Looking Up at the Bottom Line: The Struggle for the Living Wage

by Kevin Carson

Richard R. Troxell. Looking Up at the Bottom Line: The Struggle for the Living Wage (Austin: Plain View Press, 2010).

The first two-thirds of this book is a series of anecdotes or vignettes. Even for those of us who reject a government role in creating a living wage, these stories should remind us of how bleak life is for the working poor, and how precarious life is for those who are homeless and unemployed—or perhaps just living from paycheck to paycheck. Too often, right-wing libertarians react to such accounts with a ho-hum “the poor will always be with us” attitude, condemning the “victim culture” or dismissing poverty as inevitable given the underclass’s “short time preferences” or its position on the Bell Curve. Worse, their knee-jerk response is to regard those who point out such problems as enemies, or at best deserving of suspicion. For a libertarian culture that too often seems to position itself as the defender of the existing corporate model of capitalism as a proxy for “the free market,” anyone who points to widespread poverty and concentration of wealth under corporate capitalism must be some sort of statist who hates the market. What such people think the pathological side-effects of corporate capitalism have to do with a “free market” is beyond me.

Troxell’s proposed agenda for solving the problem, which he presents in the latter part of the book, is a combination of affordable housing, single-payer healthcare, and local living wage ordinances tied to the price of housing.

As a libertarian, I can’t endorse any proposal for government intervention in the economy. But I’m convinced that most of the evils Troxell rightly objects to result from existing government intervention—on the side of corporate interests, employers, landlords and the rich. The proper solution is not for government to start intervening on the side of the poor, or to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor—but to stop redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich.

Interestingly, I was apparently offered a review copy of this book as a result of having caught someone’s favorable attention with an earlier column at Center for a Stateless Society—“Yes, the Rent Really is Too Damn High”—in which I called for just such an agenda.

A huge part of existing concentrations of wealth result from rents on artificial scarcities and artificial property rights created by the state. A huge part of poverty results from inflated costs of basic subsistence created by similar such artificial scarcities and mandated inflation of the overhead cost of daily life. A libertarian agenda for poverty relief would be to dismantle such artificial scarcities and overheads and let the competition of a freed market redistribute wealth from the present rentier classes to the poor.

Troxell quotes Baylor political science professor Jerold Waltman’s book Case for a Living Wage, in which he sets the criteria for a living wage: 1) it should enable the recipient to live at a certain minimum level, and 2) should prevent too much inequality from emerging. But in a very real sense, a freed market would create a living wage by these criteria.

The natural function of a market price system is to tie the price of goods and services to the cost or effort of providing them, and to tie wages to effort or disutility. The normal equilibrium of the market—the natural ratio toward which exchange is always tending—is, when goods are reproducible and there are no artificial barriers to market entry or competition, is the exchange of equal efforts or disutility. In a market of free exchange between equals, trade is effort for effort.

Artificial scarcity and artificial property rights—privilege—break this link between effort and consumption.

As I argued in the column mentioned above, a large share of the so-called “property rights” enforced under capitalism are property rights in controlling access to natural opportunities.

The Marxist Maurice Dobb once gave the example of government granting to its favored clients a monopoly right to erect toll gates across the roads, and to enrich themselves by pocketing the tolls. Standard marginalist economics, Dobb argued, would treat opening the gates as a “productive activity,” and claim that the tolls contributed to production by the amount they added to price. Forbearing to interfere with production would be a productive activity, and the tribute collected for this forbearance would be the reward for productive services.

This is what Thorstein Veblen called “capitalized disservicability”: the assignment of an economic value to the magnanimous act of allowing production to occur without interference. Among the less academically inclined, I believe it’s called “protection money.”

Such artificial property rights include many things other than land. Every state grant of power to control the conditions under which other people may undertake productive activity is a source of illegitimate rent. Both tariffs and “intellectual property,” for example, are forms of protectionism in that they restrict the right to produce a given good for a particular market area to a privileged class of firms.

In every case, the person who would apply his labor, energy and skills to the earth and its natural resources is forced to pay tribute for the right to produce and work to feed a useless parasite in addition to himself. And in every case, the privileged classes of landlords, usurers and other extortionists seek to close off opportunities for self-employment because such opportunities make it too hard to get people to work for them on profitable terms.

Much or most of the price of most of the goods you buy consists of embedded rents on artificial property rights. Much of the product of your labor goes as rent to your employer, because the artificial dearth of natural opportunities to produce creates a buyer’s market for labor in which workers compete for jobs instead of jobs competing for workers.

The rent is, indeed, too damn high.

The person who “owns” title to a piece of vacant and unimproved land, instead of working for everything she gets, is able to force someone else to work for part of what she herself gets. Part of the purchaser’s or tenant’s labor is directed, not to her own consumption, but to the consumption of the landlord. Likewise, that part of the price of proprietary software, music and other content, which is above the marginal cost of reproduction, amounts to an equivalent value of the purchaser’s laborer which goes to feed the “owner” of the copyright. When zoning laws criminalize microenterprise in the household, and compel the producer to rent stand-alone commercial real estate, or when “safety” and “health” regulations compel her to purchase industrial-grade equipment rather than using the spare capacity of ordinary household goods that she already owns, the margin this adds to her price results in an equal rent which the owner of an established business can collect from the customer.

As the Wobblies’ Big Bill Haywood said, for every man who gets a dollar he didn’t sweat for, there’s another man who sweats for a dollar he didn’t get. Or as the individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker put it, the deficit in unpaid labor for the non-privileged results in an equal and opposite efficit of unearned income for the privileged.

One side-effect of privilege is that the concentration of wealth in the hands of people with a high propensity to save and invest, and the reduction of income to those with a high propensity to consume, results in chronic tendencies toward overinvestment and overproduction. The system is plagued with idle productive capacity which cannot dispose of its full output when fully utilized, and with surplus investment capital which can find a profitable outlet only in speculative bubbles.

I fully agree with Troxell that a living wage—properly understood—would remedy much of the economy’s chronic inclination toward crisis.

Charles Johnson, in “Scratching By,” describes all the ways the homeless and working poor are nickled and dimed to death by local government. The effect of all these policies is to raise the fixed costs of living:

Artificially limiting the alternative options for housing ratchets up the fixed costs of living for the urban poor. Artificially limiting the alternative options for independent work ratchets down the opportunities for increasing income. And the squeeze makes poor people dependent on—and thus vulnerable to negligent or unscrupulous treatment from—both landlords and bosses by constraining their ability to find other, better homes, or other, better livelihoods. The same squeeze puts many more poor people into the position of living “one paycheck away” from homelessness and makes that position all the more precarious by harassing and coercing and imposing artificial destitution on those who do end up on the street.

As described by Ivan Illich in Tools for Conviviality, as late as 1940 a major share of housing in Massachusetts was still self-built. Today, with new modular techniques, the construction of safe, comfortable and affordable housing should be easier than ever. But local building codes—written largely at the behest of building contractors—criminalize such techniques in order to lock their obsolete methods into place and protect them from competing with cheaper alternatives.

The natural effect of competition in a freed market, when all these state-enforced artificial scarcities are abolished, is to socialize the rents previously collected from them. Eliminating copyright socializes the price of proprietary content. Opening vacant land to free homesteading socializes the portion of land rent that resulted from artificial scarcity. Abolishing the zoning and licensing restrictions on household microenterprise socializes the premium brick-and-mortar downtown businesses charged on artificially inflated entry barriers. Abolishing patents socializes the benefits from increased productivity of human labor.

So in a sense, I am for socialized housing, socialized healthcare, etc. Instead of leaving the basic artificial scarcities in place and then procuring healthcare and housing at taxpayer expense for those who can’t afford them, I want to make healthcare and housing affordable by abolishing the monopolies that make it possible to get rich off them in the first place. Although Troxell says it of his version of a living wage, it’s also true of my version that it would reduce public expenditures on food stamps. The welfare state, when you get right down to it, is a case of the capitalists working through their state—which is, after all, the “executive committee of the ruling class”—to clean up the mess created by their privilege.

Even if Troxell doesn’t agree with my emphasis, or with the principles on which my opposition to government intervention is based, I suspect he would agree with most of the agenda I propose for dismantling government support to privilege.

Some forms of that support he points to himself, such as the vagrancy laws which he discusses at considerable length. At one time, the common lands were a vital insurance policy for those who fell on hard luck. The land-poor might reduce their total need for agricultural wage labor—and thereby increase their bargaining power against the landed classes for what wage employment they did take—by meeting some of their subsistence needs through production on the common. That was, in fact, one of the chief reasons for Parliamentary Enclosures in the 18th century: the landlords complained that, when peasants had access to the common, it was difficult to get them to work as many hours, or for such cheap wages, as the gentry would prefer.

Vagrancy laws are a way of accomplishing the same result today, by criminalizing the very act of living without a permanent place of residence. All legal restrictions on individual access to public rights of way—so long as no one obstructs anyone else’s movement or harasses them—are illegitimate. Such legal restrictions are in fact a violation of property rights: the individual’s right of equal access to a public right of way. Restrictions on shared housing by people not related to other, living in cars, and the like, should also be removed.

By the way, Troxell points to the oddly selective enforcement of Austin’s “No Camping Ordinance,” which supposedly criminalizes camping in public. For some reason, people camping out to be first in line for a sale or to buy football game or concert tickets aren’t arrested. Imagine that! If you didn’t know better, you’d almost think the ordinance was deliberately targeted against homeless people.

The only proper basis for appropriating previously unowned land should be human labor. Absentee titles to vacant and unimproved land should be treated as null and void. Contractor-written building code restrictions on self-built housing, which criminalize vernacular or unconventional building techniques on spurious safety grounds, should be eliminated. Vacant lots, undeveloped acreage, unused government property, vacant government buildings, military bases (Troxell mentions an attempt to turn Austin’s decommissioned Bergstrom AFB into a homeless community), etc., should be opened for free homesteading. Military bases and vacant government offices should become the sites for squatter communities like Christiana in Denmark, and vacant and undeveloped land should host vibrant favelas of the sort that sprang up with self-built housing in England’s Pittsea and Laindon communities, in Essex, from the early 20th century until the immediate post-WWII period (as described by Colin Ward in Talking Houses).

Like many favelas in Latin America, and like Cory Doctorow’s near-future American favelas in Makers, these examples of self-built housing were by no means “substandard” or “primitive” in any objective sense. When inhabitants of squatter communities feel any sense of confidence at all, they take pride in improving their living spaces. As Colin Ward described them, most of the self-built houses in Pittsea and Laindon were quite well-built. The residents were typically people whose incomes were too low to qualify them for loans from building societies, and the houses they built—although generally safe and sturdy—would have been in violation of housing codes passed after WWII. Doctorow’s description of the building skills of his fictional squatters, in the shantytowns and falelas which grew up in half-built subdivisions and abandoned shopping malls, are quite reminiscent of those of real-world communities like those in England and Latin America:

They started with plastic sheeting and poles, and when they could afford it, they replaced the sheets, one at a time, with bricks, or poured concrete and rebar.

None of them had mortgages, but they had neat vegetable gardens and walkways spelled out in white stones with garden gnomes standing guard.

Getting back to the planks of our agenda: All legal barriers to running a microbakery out of one’s own home with an ordinary kitchen oven, making clothing with a sewing machine, opening a beautician shop in a spare room with the simple purchase of a chair and tools, running a cab service with the family car and a cell phone, providing daycare for the neighbors, etc., should be eliminated.

Drug patents should be abolished, legal barriers to the provision of service by clinical practitioners (dental assistants, physicians assistants, etc.) eliminated, and legal barriers to cheap cooperative health insurance like Ithaca Health (or membership-based contract practice through cooperative clinics—e.g. John Muney’s $80/month plan in New York) should be removed.

Troxell mentions “Fresh Start,” a proposal to unite a variety of local social services into a single integrated program that would deal with homelessness on an integrated, process basis. In the process of discussing it, he refers to one of the contributing factors to the problem: the shutting down of the great majority of YMCAs, which once provided a source of cheap housing for the indigent. Taking these things together, I couldn’t help but think of some proposals by Dougald Hine and Nathan Cravens to accomplish the same result outside the state, through voluntary self-organization. What they came up with was essentially a P2P version of Fresh Start.

In “Social Media vs. the Recession,” Dougald Hine wrote:

Looked at very simply: hundreds of thousands of people are finding or are about to find themselves with a lot more time and a lot less money than they are used to. The result is at least three sets of needs:

practical/financial (e.g. how do I pay the rent/avoid my house being repossessed?)

emotional/psychological (e.g. how do I face my friends? where do I get my identity from now I don’t have a job?)

directional (e.g. what do I do with my time? how do I find work?)…

Arguably the biggest thing that has changed in countries like the UK since there was last a major recession is that most people are networked by the internet and have some experience of its potential for self-organisation… There has never been a major surge in unemployment in a context where these ways of “organising without organisations” were available.

As my School of Everything co-founder Paul Miller has written, London’s tech scene is distinctive for the increasing focus on applying these technologies to huge social issues… Agility and the ability to mobilise and gather momentum quickly are characteristics of social media and online self-organisation, in ways that government, NGOs and large corporations regard with a healthy envy.

So, with that, the conversations I’ve been having keep coming back to this central question: is there a way we can constructively mobilise to respond to this situation in the days and weeks ahead?…

Information sharing for dealing with practical consequences of redundancy or job insecurity. You can see this happening already on a site like the Sheffield Forum.

Indexes of local resources of use to the newly-unemployed—including educational and training opportunities—built up in a user-generated style.

Tools for reducing the cost of living. These already exist—LiftShare, Freecycle, etc.—so it’s a question of more effective access and whether there are quick ways to signpost people towards these, or link together existing services better.

An identification of skills, not just for potential employers but so people can find each other and organise, both around each other and emergent initiatives that grow in a fertile, socially-networked context.

If the aim is to avoid this recession creating a new tranche of long-term unemployed (as happened in the 1980s), then softening the distinction between the employed and unemployed is vital. In social media, we’ve already seen considerable softening of the line between producer and consumer in all kinds of areas, and there must be lessons to draw from this in how we view any large-scale initiative.

As I see it, such a softening would involve not only the kind of online tools and spaces suggested above, but the spread of real world spaces which reflect the collaborative values of social media. Examples of such spaces already exist:

Media labs on the model of Access Space or the Brasilian Pontos de Cultura programme, which has applied this approach on a national scale

Fab Labs for manufacturing, as already exist from Iceland to Afghanistan

studio spaces like TenantSpin, the micro-TV station in Liverpool based in a flat in a towerblock—and like many other examples in the world of Community Media

Again, if these spaces are to work, access to them should be open, not restricted to the unemployed. (If, as some are predicting, we see the return of the three day week, the value of spaces like this open to all becomes even more obvious!)

Nathan Cravens of the P2P Foundation took the ball and ran with it, elaborating Hine’s basic idea into a Triple Alliance:

The Triple Alliance describes a network of three community supported organizations necessary to meet basic needs and comforts.

  • The Open Cafe, a place to have a meal in good company without a price tag
  • The CSA or community supported farm
  • The Fab Lab, a digitally assisted manufacturing facility to make almost anything

The Fab Lab, he explained, was intended to be based on something like the Open Source Ecology project in rural areas, and hackerspaces in urban areas.

The one thing I felt was lacking—which ties in with Troxell’s mention of the old YMCAs—was cheap housing as a fourth leg of the stool. Here’s my proposal for the housing leg from The Homebrew Industrial Revolution, which was based on my discussions with Cravens on the P2P Research email list (and which incidentally also used the old YMCA as a model):

Open-source housing would fill a big gap in the overall resiliency strategy. It might be some kind of cheap, bare bones cohousing project associated with the Cafe (water taps, cots, hotplates, etc) that would house people at minimal cost on the YMCA model. It might be an intentional community or urban commune, with cheap rental housing adapted to a large number of lodgers (probably in violation of laws restricting the number of unrelated persons living under one roof). Another model might be the commercial campground, with space for tents, water taps, etc., on cheap land outside the city, in connection with a ride-sharing arrangement of some sort to get to Alliance facilities in town. The government-run migrant worker camps, as depicted in The Grapes of Wrath, are an example of the kind of cheap and efficient, yet comfortable, bare bones projects that are possible based on a combination of prefab housing with common bathrooms. And finally, Vinay Gupta’s work in the Hexayurt project on emergency life-support technology for refugees is also relevant to the housing problem: offering cheap LED lighting, solar cookers, water purifiers, etc., to those living in tent cities and Hoovervilles.

Cravens, in turn, raised the possibility of providing something like the YMCA model in the same building used for the hackerspace or open cafe.

Vacant public buildings or military bases would be obvious candidates for such complexes. As cash-strapped local governments find themselves increasingly short of enforcement funding and looking for creative ways to deal with the rising tide of underemployment and poverty they may well—as some already have—relax their restrictions on such informal arrangements.

The Men of Avignon

by Mark Hackard

Note: Yes, I know this is a very naughty piece of writing, and I shall doubtless be denounced again as the reincarnation of Herr Hitler himself for publishing it. However, I too regard modern art as “profit-driven psychological warfare,” and the essay is worth running for that wonderful phrase alone – though it is filled with much else that flits into the memory. I’ll not say that I agree with smashing up spurious works of art. This being said, the best response to objects like Piss Christ may well be to destroy them whenever they are put on display. Of course, they are private property – but so is a terrorist bomb. Given enough practical criticism, there might even be a return to the pursuit of transcendence. [SIG]

On Palm Sunday of this year Charles Martel, victor of Tours, could smile upon his descendants. A small band of Franks wielding hammers again rose in defense of the West. The action was local-scale and humble; there was no smashing of the Saracen horde. Four young men entered art mogul Yvon Lambert’s gallery in Avignon and destroyed the Piss Christ, a world-famous image of a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine (It had previously been attacked in Australia; the coup de grace fell to the French). Their raid does nothing to shift the odds against traditionalists- it is rather an emblem of resistance, akin to stealing a general’s banner from the enemy camp. In such symbols the struggle endures.

The story of 20th-century art is one of subversion, the use of creative media for purely destructive ends. Painting, music, literature and sculpture were used as refined weapons in the avant-garde’s rebellion against Christendom. The enterprise was wildly successful- a witch’s brew of Freud and Marx prepared by the Frankfurt School would only accelerate the dominant liberal trajectory toward cultural dissolution. By 1987 an “artist” like Andres Serrano, with the patronage of collector-oligarch Charles Saatchi, could display his Piss Christ in America to the widespread approval of the elites. Its veneration in public as an object of beauty only highlights the Revolution’s progress.

Before the onset of post-modernity, art diverted from its original purpose, transcendence, still had the capacity to seduce. Escaping the boredom of late 19th-century bourgeois Europe, stockbroker Paul Gauguin could cast idyllic scenes of Tahiti’s primitive splendor and indulge himself with its native women. And the bored bourgeoisie back home were captivated, at least for a time. Under Gauguin’s influence Pablo Picasso would then paint the lascivious and animalistic Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, portending the rise of a cruel and inhuman spirit that would characterize the coming decades. Fedor Dostoevsky had already spoken of beauty’s elemental danger in The Brothers Karamazov:

Beauty! I can’t endure the thought that a man of lofty heart and mind begins with the ideal of Madonna and ends with the ideal of Sodom…Is there beauty in Sodom? Believe me, that for the immense mass of mankind, beauty is found in Sodom. Did you know that secret? What’s awful is that beauty is a thing mysterious and terrible. God and the devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.

The battles won and lost in these dark recesses produce visible consequences. In our time Sodom would triumph; rejecting the Madonna, civilization proudly set its faith in reason while pursuing desire. Gauguin would die of syphilis, and within the generation Europe experienced a new phase of revolutionary politics and the savagery of mechanized war so well depicted in Picasso’s Guernica. Traditional culture and polity in the West, what Fr. Seraphim Rose termed the Old Order, recognized beauty as an expression of divine hierarchy. Yet the forces of the new era worked to annihilate any such notion. Sic transit gloria mundi- the glory of the modern was truly fleeting, and the false beauty of Sodom would be unmasked in spiritual alienation and death.

With today’s regime committed near-religiously to transgression, there is no further need for seduction in art. Refined weapons have become blunt instruments of demoralization. The repulsive and perverse are simply proclaimed beautiful, and all are expected to accede to the lie. Nobility is mocked, higher love altogether denied, and Eros grotesquely parodied in pornography. Art and its applications in mass entertainment are best identified as profit-driven psychological warfare. In concert with the machinery of political economy, contemporary culture robs the peoples of the West of their identity and denigrates their ancestral faith. In return it offers filth and fun. The alleged consummation of human development, the Open Society has descended to a condition of sub-humanity.

The Piss Christ was exhibited in the United States and Europe for years and served as a testament to the values of the new era. Calculated blasphemy became a holy relic of “our treasured freedoms” for leftists, and American conservatives did nothing besides run through well-rehearsed motions of hapless opposition to gain votes and raise campaign funds from gullible donors. Republicans would never violate the dogmata of secular pluralism in order to defend Christianity and the Western heritage. Their ultimate loyalty has always been to Mammon, the god of liberal democracy. One need only witness calls by U.S. senators to outlaw Koran-burning, as Washington’s trillion-dollar mission to transform Afghanistan into a Muslim Mayberry could be jeopardized by one such stunt! Meanwhile our finest art galleries maintain warehouses of sacrilege and obscenity, with similar content beamed daily to the proles via television.

It is not farcical elections and their attendant theatre that will save the West; it is the strength of will of a blessed few. The now-mangled Piss Christ confirms this. How heartening it is that the men of Avignon evinced not the least concern with sacrosanct rights of expression, the marketplace of ideas, or any other regime methods of division and control. They showed the courage to shatter a minor idol of the age and dent, however slightly, the liberal order’s myth of invincibility.

A genuine Counterrevolution in the Occident will be creative, and moved by the force of love- not just for beauty, Truth and the Good, but for their reflections in our brothers and friends, our kith and kin. In all its glamour and power, the regnant anti-culture will have wrought only its own negation; so it was attested on a Palm Sunday with the defiant swing of a hammer.

Why I Became a Left-Libertarian

by “Martin”

Essay by “Martin” at the Liberal Conspiracy.
As Libertarians across the US flock to cinemas to watch the film version of Atlas Shrugged (the film has a limited release and harsh criticism from everyone outside those who are already fully bought into Ayn Rand’s philosophy of corporate apologism and advocacy of selfishness as a way of life), the UK’s own Libertarian Party is caught in a minor controversy over its leader.

So it’s not a brilliant week to be a reader of Nozick, Rand, Friedman or Mises. But then, it’s never a good time to declare yourself associated with any philosophy that holds laissez faire capitalism to be a virtue.

But to an increasing number of self-described libertarians, myself included, the “right wing” libertarians of the LPUK/LPUS are quietly abandoning the doctrinaire “virtue of selfishness” model of freedom advocated by the Capitalist Libertarians who insist on the productive wonders of hierarchical, wealth concentrating and politically powerful private corporations.

The left-libertarian, on the other hand, prefers to recognise these economic powerhouses as what they are: the beneficiaries of near invisible State subsidies in a variety of forms.

These subsidies include

- artificial property rights,
– a regulatory system that benefits large, established players at the expense of smaller suppliers,
– subsidising of long-distance transportation at the expense of local enterprise more able to adapt supply to demand,
– and overhead capital costs made so high that most regular people are unable to ever go into business themselves.

In short, Capitalism as we know it couldn’t survive without the state; “free market” capitalism is an oxymoron. In reality, capitalism – even anarcho-capitalism – is in effect, privatised feudalism.

So why do so called Libertarians come out in full force to support an economic system that is anything but libertarian?

Japan’s Broken Windows

by David D’Amato

On Friday (April 22), Bloomberg reported that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced plans for budget supplements targeted at rebuilding in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

If the economic contentions of statists hold true, then costly crises like the one that has ravaged Japan are a boon, an opportunity for the rebuilding process to stir economic activity that wouldn’t have otherwise have taken place. Instead of a expense of catastrophe, the almost $50 billion set aside by the Japanese state for reconstruction ought to be greeted, so we’re told, as an economic shot in the arm.

Economists — at least those who don’t buy it — call this the “broken window fallacy,” an allusion to nineteenth century political economist Frederic Bastiat’s famous story about the “seen” and the “unseen.” Bastiat’s vignette describes a shop owner whose storefront window is shattered by a rascally son, the result being some unexpected business for the glazier.

While that business, the contract for a new window, is the “seen,” Bastiat draws our attention to what is “unseen,” all of the productive activity that the shop owner would have engaged in but for the price of replacing his window.

Under the “devastation as stimulant” argument, whereby the destruction of valuable resources and infrastructure is (or can be) beneficial, there’s no reliable way of determining where to draw the line between economically “good” and “bad” misfortunes. If a cracked window is to be regarded favorably as a spur for productive activity, are we to regard the earthquake damage in Japan in the same way?

Or is there a point at which the damage is too extensive to be thought of as advantageous to that indeterminate thing called “the economy.” Properly understood, economic efficiency is a product of a market actor’s ability to use resources in a way that avoids waste and maximizes the productive output on her costs. Since each individual is actually an “economy” unto herself, allocating time and scarce resources to achieve particular ends, even a comparatively small harm like a broken window can’t ever result in a net gain for the community.

To resort to tautology, costs are costs, and while they can be shifted from one to another, their creation through natural disasters and the like simply occasions expenditures that wouldn’t have been necessary without those disasters. Could we extract something of positive value from thin air or from, for example, destroying buildings, economic issues — which are the result of scarcity — would disappear altogether.

Whenever the economy needed a new lease on life we could go ahead and call the demolition team, because, after all, the builders will be ready to hit the ground running when the wrecking ball has done its part.

The truth is that some people do stand to benefit in the wake of disasters that elicit huge government spending projects, but that benefit doesn’t come in a vacuum. Where the economic system is defined by the coercive interventions of the state, public works projects that follow natural disasters mean contracts for the state’s favorites, courtesy of the working masses.

The state and its courtiers, groups that can’t actually be distinguished in practice, are happy to use tragedies to redirect wealth; they certainly enjoy a boost, but it isn’t somehow free of charge. Working people pay the price, and the price is significantly higher than it would be in a society where the details of the rebuilding process were determined by the voluntary decisions of free people.

Then, the new costs brought about by a given disaster would be born in proportion to the individual investments that had been made beforehand, not thrust upon workers who had no stake in the infrastructure to begin with.

Market anarchists refuse to treat the state as a supernatural entity capable of acting outside of and against economic laws. Where the state expends wealth, it doesn’t erase the costs that attend disasters without someone paying, and the inefficiency and self-serving that inhabit the venal relationships created by power themselves foist further costs on productive society.

It was easy enough for the shop owner to see the illogic in the broken window fallacy. Japan’s citizens shouldn’t be taken in by the state’s attempts to exploit the disaster. Rather than allowing the state the chance to arrogate more power to its circle of plutocrats, the Japanese people ought to retain the skeptical instinct they feel when the state starts talking about opportunities for growth.

Trial by Jury – More Important than “Equality”

 Libertarian Alliance Statement
Release Date: Tuesday 26th April 2011
Release Time: Immediate

Contact Details:
Dr Sean Gabb, 07956 472 199,

Trial by Jury – More Important than “Equality”

Abstract: No one should ever be allowed to serve on a jury in England unless he can read and write English.

The Facts:  On Tuesday the 26th April 2011, HM Courts and Tribunals Service announced that the inability to read and write England – and even sometimes to understand it fluently – should not automatically prevent anyone from sitting as jurymen. It was accepted that a Judge may decide if any particular juryman is fit to serve on account of his inability to understand the proceedings. At the same time, a spokesman for the Courts and Tribunals Service has claimed that “people who cannot read English very well but can speak English… would be able to serve on a jury.”

Statement by Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance: There may, before about the 16th century, have been jurymen outside London who were illiterate. In those days, however, everyone in most districts knew everybody else, and jurors were expected to judge character rather than help sift evidence. After then, however, property qualifications made pretty sure that jurymen could at least read.

There are two problems with people who are not literate in English.

First, foreigner-born citizens who are unable to read English may be persons of good intelligence and high education, but cannot reasonably be regarded as the “peers” of an accused person. Someone who cannot read English is immersed in what may be a very alien culture, and his sense of right and wrong may also be very different. It is plainly unjust that a man’s liberty and reputation should rely on the judgment of people who are, in every sense of the word, foreigners.

Second, native-born illiterates are generally people of low intelligence. Even in times and places where few have the opportunity to learn to read and write, illiterates of good intelligence do not have the flexibility of mind needed to weigh conflicting evidential claims. They may be able to testify to the good or bad character of their neighbours, but cannot be trusted to reach more complex verdicts based on fact. However, modern England is a place where everyone of even mediocre intelligence can read and write to some extent. Those who cannot are, by the nature, unfit for serving on a jury.

In either case, an illiterate cannot be expected to serve on a jury with any competence. Jurymen are required to follow extended arguments by highly literate lawyers. They must be able to take and refer to their own notes of what has been said. In many cases, they must be able to read documents that are given to them.

This announcement by the Courts and Tribunals Service should not be regarded as more unwise “inclusiveness” or as “political correctness gone mad.” Twenty years ago, it might have provoked comments about unintended consequences. Nowadays, it can only be seen as another covert step towards abolishing trial by jury.

We know that the authorities hate the whole jury system. Its advantage is not that juries are inherently more suited to deciding guilt and innocence than a judge sitting alone. This being said, there are few cases of gross incompetence by juries, and juries never sit long enough to become as case hardened as judges and magistrates. The advantage is – and always has been – that, before they can hurt any one of us, the authorities need to find twelve other people like us to agree that we should be hurt. Throughout English history, the jury has been the one most effective shield that individuals have had against oppression by the State. From Bushell’s Case (1670), to the trial of the Seven Bishops (1688), to the treason trials of 1793, to any number of malicious prosecutions in the twentieth century, it has been juries that have checked the authorities.

During my own lifetime, trial by jury has been systematically weakened. In the 1960s, juries were removed from most civil cases, and majority verdicts were introduced in criminal trials. In the 1980s, the right of peremptory challenge was taken away from defendants. In the present century, the rule against double jeopardy has been overturned – so that an acquittal by a jury can be overturned and a person tried again for the same offence. There has been, throughout this time, a slow transfer of crimes from juries to magistrates. Very recently, it has been made possible for any crime whatever to be tried by a judge sitting alone, if the authorities can “prove” that a jury might be intimidated by the friends of a defendant.

Undoubtedly, illiterates of whatever nature have found their way onto juries. This has become more common since the 1960s, with the removal of property qualifications and the collapse of standards in education. It is only now, though, that the authorities have explicitly welcomed the participation of illiterates. Their intention can only be construed as a desire to make trial by jury so random in its findings, and so generally disreputable, that no innocent person will want his case to be tried by jury. It will then become possible to abolish the whole system by public demand.

We then find ourselves living in a country where anyone can be proceeded against by authorities that are already spiteful and oppressive, and without the one safeguard that – admittedly can work only after much loss of time and money – has been carefully removed. Our ancestors rightly despised or pitied the European police state of the nineteenth century. But these mostly had relatively few laws, and few of these utterly shocked reasonable sensibilities. But imagine the managerial police state that modern England has become, plus the criminal procedure of those older police states. Imagine that, and you have a very grim tyranny.

The Libertarian Alliance believes in trial by jury as an immemorial right of all Englishmen. It is only affirmed by Magna Carta (1215, c.39), not granted, and can be traced through the practice of the Anglo-Saxon, till it is lost in the forests of northern Europe. It is also a system that we urge, if adapted to local circumstances, on those peoples less fortunate than ourselves. We believe in trial by jury, therefore, on grounds of ancestral right, and on the grounds of abstract legal and political theory.

Because trial by jury is so important, we denounce all efforts to destroy it. We certainly believe that no one should be allowed to serve on a jury in England unless he can be shown to be literate in English. We believe that every person summoned for jury service should be tested for his ability to read and write English to a reasonable level. It is another argument, but we will also mention our belief that every juryman should be told of his right to acquit in the face of the evidence if he regards any particular law as illegitimate.

No doubt, it would be expensive to test every potential juryman. On the other hand, abolishing the need to translate every public document into 57 or so foreign languages in the name of “inclusiveness” would provide at least some of the necessary funding. So long as the State exists, and so long as it maintains any claim to a monopoly of criminal justice, proper funding of the criminal justice system should be seen as at least the first duty of the State.

End of Statement

The immorality of Utilitarianism

by Robert Henderson

“The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure”. J.S.Mill

Utilitarianism is a transparently bogus philosophical theory because it poses as a moral philosophy when it is disqualified from being so because it deals not with the individual but the group. This means any moral enormity, for example the murder of one person to save the life of two people, can be sanctioned against individuals or minorities on the grounds that the overall effect of a policy will be beneficial to the group. Nevertheless, it has greatly influenced British politics over the past two centuries is worthy of study, as is Marxism, for that reason alone.

How did Utilitarianism arise? It was a theory born of the self-conscious rationalism which gripped the world after the definitive mental shift caused by Newton, a change of intellectual outlook which drove some to mistakenly believe that the behaviour of men could be reduced to laws as certain as those of motion.

As an individual doctrine it originated with the eighteenth century philosopher, Jeremy Bentham. He first outlined the basics of Utilitarianism in his Fragment of Government published in 1776. This was an attack on Blackstone’s Commentaries (on English law), which Bentham viewed essentially as an apologia for English law written as ruling class propaganda. Bentham’s interest in the reformation of the law remained one of the strongest themes of his life and it was the field in which he had most practical effect. Most of the British judicial and penitential reforms of the nineteenth century originate from his ideas.

Treated purely as a philosophical construct, Utilitarianism is a literal nonsense, because the premise on which it is predicated – the greatest sum of happiness as determined by the pain pleasure calculus – is in principle impossible of any practical application, for manifestly no objective quantification of the determination of the qualities such as happiness, pain and pleasure can be made. However, even if that were not so, there are other grave objections.

As described by Bentham, Utilitarianism was essentially nothing more than a matter of social function. Indeed, because the theory is concerned with the sum total of happiness rather than the happiness of the individual, its claim to be an ethical system is objectively invalid. From this arises one of the main objections to Benthamite Utilitarianism, namely how may the tyranny of the majority be prevented? If the greatest happiness of the group is all that is required, any amount of individual unhappiness less than the sum of the group happiness could be inflicted in search of the greater happiness of the group.

The other primary objection was that motivation became irrelevant. Thus, under the Benthamite regime, if I kill you by accident in the course of attempting to do you a favour, that is irrelevant in assessing the amount of pain I have inflicted on your relatives and friends. I might as well have murdered you. The only criteria by which Bentham attempted to calculate pleasure or pain were its four “dimensions”: intensity, duration, the certainty of an event happening as a consequence of a particular action and the length of time before it occurred. These again are obviously not capable of quantification.

J.S Mill, the son of a prime disciple of Bentham’s, James Mill, recognised those weaknesses in Benthamite thought and attempted to introduce a genuinely moral aspect into Utilitarianism by making the effect of actions upon others a cornerstone of the theory. However, in doing this, he made a nonsense of the idea of a neutral and objective test of actions which was at the heart of Bethamism. That test although impractical was in principle objective. Having introduced the idea of consequences for others. Mill then compounded his destruction of Benthamism by assigning values (to be treated as benchmarks by Utilitarians) to actions and things. Whereas Bentham had famously said that ”pushpin is as good as poetry” (one rather feels he might have felt at home in New Labour), Mill held that “it is better to be a Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”

In the course of his philosophical contortions, Mill developed the mentality which is essentially that of the modern liberal bigot. Mill produced a philosophy which purported to still provide an objective means of testing the moral content of an action, but which in reality was merely a disguised wish list of Mill’s own desired moral outcomes. That is the position liberal bigots adopt today: they attempt to enforce their own ideology on everyone, while claiming that they are merely following universal objective moral principles which they call Human Rights.

After Mill, Utilitarianism was further significantly developed by Henry Sidgwick who enlarged on Mill by asserting that the obligation to follow the Greatest Happiness Principle only made sense if it was regarded as a fundamental moral intuition and from that general premise specific moral rules could be justified.

These days Utilitarianism is divided by academic philosophers into Act and Rule Utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is concerned with the outcome of individual acts. Rule utilitarianism does not evaluate individual acts, but rather attempts to produce rules which can be generally used to guide behaviour, for example “Everyone should pay their debts” or “Everyone should refrain from initiating violent assault on another”.

Human beings are often placed in situations where they do have to make utilitarian choices. A recent example was a mother who was driving her two young children when she crashed and ended up in deep water. She had to choose which child to attempt to rescue first, knowing that the unlucky child might well die. Sure enough, the choice meant that the first child was saved and the other drowned. Anyone would feel great sympathy for a mother placed in such a situation. Nonetheless, the choice she made was not essentially a moral one. She had to decide who decided saving first. That choice may well have been made on practical grounds such as who was closest to her in the car or who was youngest, but who would doubt the possibility that the favourite child was chosen? If so, that would not be a moral choice but one of personal predilection. Moreover, even if the choice was made on practical criteria, who is to say that a younger child is more deserving than one who is older. It could be argued that the moral choice in this instance would have been extricating one child from the car then remaining underwater while trying to help the other child as well. That might well have resulted in the death of all three, but it would have been a moral decision pure and simple.

Nations and Liberalism, by David McDonagh

This is the text of a talk given by David McDonagh to a meeting of the other Libertarian Alliance.

Nations and Liberalism

Milton Friedman once said that whatever the state can do, the market can do better. However, the state beats the market in producing wars and also in producing propaganda. Let us take the latter first, contrary to the outlook of many, like the late J.K. Galbraith or the current propagandist against the market, Naomi Klein, the market is not so good at producing propagandists. Adverts merely call our attention to what is on offer. They do not convert us, or persuade us to buy, what we do not want. Nor does the greater effort of entrepreneurship. Instead, it guesses what the public want and if it guesses wrong then, contra daft Galbraith, no amount of mere advertising can hope to shift the goods.

If the market cannot outpace the state then what can? How is pristine liberalism to make any headway? The solution is that what is needed is an amateur propaganda group, such as is the LA is, to get for nothing what money can never quite buy: love.

What about war? My answer to this will be spread out below, but, in short, the state needs to be cut back, or to be totally cut out, in order to get rid of this very wasteful problem. The problem of war was the main reason that Cobden and Bright became liberal propagandists.

The problem of war is also why many become Marxists. They ironically put it as being down to capitalism, by which they, basically, mean the market system. They think the that state is used by the merchant class to rig the market, but, while the clever merchant might try this on, the state will generally rule over the merchants in any case. The Marxists did not think that the state could ever quite rule the market, of course, but that it did apply itself as best it could to the interests of the capitalist class.  Some amongst the wider LA are Romantics who rather like a class analysis related to a conspiracy theory that is not quite Marxist as it supposes way more success than Marx would have ever supposed from a system that allows the anarchy of  money,  but both remain utterly unrealistic.

The Marxists never understood nations, nationality or nationalism. They thought it was somewhat unreal. They posed classes as being more like reality but that was exactly wrong, as their particular idea of class has nothing to do with any reality, even though logic allows us to classify as we wish. It is the supposed facts to match their assumptions of objective economic interest groups that was lacking in reality, there was no facts out there to match their assumptions. We can assume whatever we like, but we cannot always match our assumptions to the external facts.

What about the much-eulogised libertarian class analysis? Is there not a clash of interests between the state gainers and the state taxed, between Peter who is taxed and Paul, who is not truly taxed at all? Well, I admit it is way more realistic than is the Marxist class analysis but it is not some form of struggle but rather a willingness to support those who seem to need it and in addition a believed social need to support the state.

This sort of liberal propaganda is maybe harmless enough but I think it is inferior to the Enlightenment outlook that sees no need to bother much about differing economic interests as the state damages the interests of all. The case the class paradigm tends to make against big business also seems to pander to silly ideas not dissimilar to these of the Greens for small-scale production, and even for protectionism. Many of this school think that big business could never arise on a free market but my guess is that it is likely to be the norm.

Even with the state, the market tends to crowd out war. In the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan feared that the problem of defence had been neglected. A successful commercial society always will see any spending on defence as a waste of money. It will often be thought that the money spent on it might otherwise bring some tangible utility. Spending on the armed forces seems to be, at best, like money spent on a sort of insurance scheme.

There has always been this tendency to neglect the need to defend the state against rival states but the commercial society tends to be even more drudging than is the normal state. That the problem of defence can seem like a wasteful bugbear even to a non-commercial state can be seen from the Ming dynasty inChinabefore they decided to spend money on improving and fortifying the great wall. The wealth they saved made them look very attractive to the Mongols who wanted to raid them to grab some of it.

So it was the same before the court saw the need to improve the great wall in China, they thought that spending on the army was a waste of money and  as a result they  were invaded by the Mongols such that the people had to flee for their lives, the authorities  had to let as many into the Forbidden City as they could squeeze in, but many were shamefully left to perish at the hands of the invading Oirat Mongol hordes.

The Great Wall had dated from the Qin dynasty of the fifth century BC but it was rebuilt the wake of that humiliating defeat by the Oirats at the battle of Tumu in 1449.  The Chinese replaced the rammed earth wall with one of large heavy bricks and stone, an improved wall that could be manned. The problem seen by the young general, Che-che Wong, was that to pursue the Oirats, or other invading Mongol tribes, into their own lands would be to overstretch the supply lines resulting, almost invariably, in the Chinese being cut off from supplies and thereby consequently beaten.  He wanted to take the invaders on away from their homelands but not to allow them to supply themselves by raidingChina, so the wall would enable them to be seen, to then stop their plundering on the Chinese side and hit them when the Chinese defenders were fresh in well supplied from their own homelands.

This solution worked, but it was so expensive that one wonders whether the cure was less costly that the disease, for it eventually took more than three quarters of the state’s total revenue. It took some 20 000 men from all over China, who had to work around the clock to get the wall finished in the allotted 5 years. Many of them later repo9rted that felt more like slaves away from home rather than as troops defending their homelands. So many died in the rushed re-construction of the wall that it was said to be one long drawn out cemetery. Unrest arose, and Che-che saw the need to make a community of the construction project. He did so by planting apricot trees and encouraging the solders to settle on the completed parts of the wall expanding into the continuing construction site. The troops settled there with their wives rather than to think of it as a barracks far away from their home. The army had been part time farmers before Che took over but he had made them professional full timers even before the wall reconstruction began, whilst he was training them in the south where they were first mustered to fight against Japan. That campaign was won by Che’s reforms before he began on the wall.

The peace and security that followed the success of the wall soon brought a protest against its high cost, as it was still taking up to three quarters of the state’s revenue, at times, and it was very far from complete. It was held, by a fraction at the Emperor’s court, that it was a means to power for Che to become the new ruler. The Emperor, on seeing that this could be the case with ease, thought it best to remove that possible danger by sacking Che. That also ended his quest to push on from the 1200 towers he had accomplished to the 3000 result that he thought was needed.  So the project was never completed.   

A major aim, maybe the major aim, of liberalism has been free trade but neo-conservatism thinks that international law and order is more important. Most classical liberals will hold that the state is needed for the problem of defence, both domestically and against rival states. Anarcho-liberals have held that the market might be better at defence in both realms but they also look forward to the day when all the states ebb, for many anarchists feel that the whole problem of defence is caused by the mere existence of rival states, so that when the state ebbs the problem of defence also ebbs with it. The classical liberals thought that even the limited state would no longer pose the problem of defence.

But there are many others who think that the initiative needs to be taken in the problem, that attack is the best means of defence. They seem to thereby leave liberalism behind. Such are the neo-cons.

We need to look at the actual distinction between classical liberalism and the neo conservative position that it has influenced in the USA for so many opponents of the free market attempt to fuse the two together.

Neo-conservatism is a warmonger paradigm with the avowed aim to spread democracy to lands that lack it. Part of this is the meme form Kant that holds that democracies, or republics, do not go to war, written up recently as a book by Spencer Weart, so that this warmongering policy s might result in a more peaceful world if it only it can first set up all those new democracies.

However, wars have, so far, been quite popular with the masses, so there seems to be no reason, on the face of things, to think that the idea that Kant had was a realistic insight. Rather, it would seem to merely an ignorant idea of what is popular with the masses.   In any case, the outlook of fighting to obtain this end seems to ensure war in the short run in order to set up the supposedly peace loving democracy in the long run, so the outlook is illiberal in its means, if not in its long run aims. It seems that the difference between this outlook and pristine liberalism can be summed up in a single word: nationalism. Liberalism is lax on the nation whilst neo-conservatism is keen to use the nation state as a means of spreading democracy and as a basis for it too.

In theUSA, classical liberalism was seen as a form of conservatism. I am too innocent of the history of the USA to be sure that my explanation for this is historically apt but it still seems to me that it might be the case, so it is worth me putting it here. The breaking away of 1776 to form theUSAwas a Whig affair thereby making the version of classical liberalism influenced by John Locke into establishment thought, or  conservative thought. In addition to that, a lot of very superficial authors, from the 1870s on, all over the world, or at least in the English speaking world, have tended to see the march of state reform, and even socialism, as progressive. Any opposition to this statist movement, or to this fashion, a fashion that was wittingly or unwittingly, aiming at an almost obviously stagnant society, was said, with some irony, to be conservative. However, there is no real reason why liberalism cannot be conservative as an ideology, despite its opposition to stagnant statism, but it will need to be so by supporting the market, that many people actually fear, just because it is not one whit stagnant but rather a society of personal responsibility and high risk. But it is true that socialism or nationalism is better fitted to stopping progress. Presumably, the Luddite ideas were the acme of protectionism, even if futile.  Socialism is an aim to dodge the risk, or at least to collectively share it, or bear it. So is nationalism, if to a lesser extent.

Before the rise of Reagan they used to call classical liberals conservatives in theUSAand it seemed unobjectionable to many classical liberals, named as such, as it meant support for a relatively free market, or at least a freer market that the supposed radicals wanted.  Similarly, many classical liberals in theUKhave seen the Conservative Party as being nearer to the pristine liberalism they support than the post-1910 Liberal Party, as it was clear that that party was keener on restrictive and re-distributive state policies than on liberty.  That party had drifted towards what the general public had come to mean by liberalism in theUSA. A leading author of neo-conservatism in the USA, Irving Kristol remarked that a neoconservative is a “liberal mugged by reality” but he seems to have meant the type that in the UK were the welfare state neo-liberals that arose in the Liberal party after Gladstone, whose main leader was Joseph Chamberlain.   The neo-cons are way more at home with the welfare state and with the statist  Keynes from 1036 on than are most classical liberals.  Keynes thought he saw a red under the bed problem at the Universiity of Cambridge of the 1020s and 30s, that endagered the market and that is a line of thought that the neo-cons think was very realistic. They too think that there might be a big danger afoot that is well worth coutering today.

 To add to the confusion, quite a few Marxists of various hues went over from their adolescent outlook to become conservatives and they retained a radical element that rather liked the warmongering mission to spread democracy that the neo-cons favoured.

Liberalism upholds the right to follow any religion as long as it is not going to illiberally victimise others. But most neo-conservatives seem to have Christianity as part of the deal. 9/11 boosted neo-conservatism greatly. They came up with the axis of evil idea from the backroom boy, David Frum, whom Bush used in his State of the Union speech in January 2002. The idea that a pre-emptive war was good idealism, that only cynics would ever oppose, was also introduced. All that is contrary to the political isolationism with free trade paradigm of Cobden and Bright, an outlook that always was widespread in theUSA, and one that Bush had also endorsed as his foreign policy in his campaign to be elected prior to 9/11. After 9/11, Bush dropped that classical liberal outlook. It might have been dropped anyway. But it is still popular with the masses.

The new neo-con idea that replaced liberalism asUSAforeign policy after 9/11 was that nation building might get rid of the threat from Islamic terrorism from places likeIraqandAfghanistan. Yet in all this, it was oddly overlooked that there was no such threat fromIraq, or even fromAfghanistan, despite it actually harbouring Al Qaeda, for it was way too far away to be an effective base for an attack on theUSA. The 9/11 attacks were from a base inside theUSAand a lot of the training was done inGermany. When this lack of a threat was told to neo-cons on Internet mailing lists before the Iraqi invasion, they usually said that their critic was naïve. They often attempted to make out a case that Saddam was keen on Al Qaeda after all. They sometimes might even admit that the case they had mustered was flimsy but, like the case of Saddam’s WMD, it would become abundantly evident in the future.  When no WMD turned up they claimed that it was impossible to have known that before the Iraqi invasion but they did claim that they knew they were there.

As there is no clearUKorUSAnational interest in invadingIraq, orAfghanistan, many have supposed that it is the Israeli national interest that the neo-cons really favour but though that may look more plausible,IranandAfghanistanare a fair distance away fromIsraeltoo.

One marked feature of the neo-conservative paradigm is the idea that there are enemies out there that are best dealt with by war. This is a Romantic outlook that contrasts shapely with the Enlightenment outlook, which holds that we have no enemies at all but rather that liberalism is in the interests of one and all. The major Romantic paradigm today is still Marxism, that sees a class struggle and there are even many Romantics in the LA who think there might be a liberal version of the class struggle, that MPs ought to be executed and the like. I certainly have close LA friends who flirt with sheer Romance. But they are not warmongers. Nor could they be mistaken for neo-conservatives or libertoryans  [if I may rudely pinch a term from one of them] of any kind.

Liberalism sees power politics as a silly mistake and the attempt to gain influence around the world made by ambitious politicians as sheer folly. Cobden and Bright were against having embassies around the world, or any international meeting of politicians of any kind, for they saw that as risking war. Political isolationism and free trade was their outlook and their foreign policy was near to being one that had no content. By contrast, the neo-conservatives in the USA were exceeding proud of its hegemony and very keen to maintain it against anything that might replace the defunct USSR as a new rival, presumably China, but it would be the EU if only the tradition of all those languages, and other cultural handicaps, did not prevent them from rapidly organising the very slowly arising super-state so effectively.

Irving Kristol wrote: “If there is any one thing that the neoconservatives are unanimous about, it is their dislike of the counterculture; by which he seems to have meant teenaged fads like being beatniks or hippies or maybe, more sensibly, the Politically Correct totalitarian movement to outlaw 1950s conservatism.  Many libertarians have also thought that culture matters, but what they mean by culture is way too wide to have any clear reference. The nation is certainly cultural but saying that there are cultural differences when one means national differences is to be obscurantist.   

Kristol, his son and their neo-conservative friends tend to think in the traditional conservative fears associated in the twentieth century with the phrase “reds under the bed” but rampant in the time of the French Revolution and fanned by the Romantic writings of Edmund Burke. This outlook does foster a traditional way of life, it makes, maybe, a fight back uniform ideology to protect the 1950s norm that can react to the rather daft ideology of Political Correctness but it runs the risk of joining them in their crass intolerance rather than beating them.    

The Romantic fear that society is about to collapse some time soon, or that there is something that we might call a revolution, as opposed to a mere riot likeFranceexperienced in 1789. Adam Smith replied to a correspondent on the break away of theUSAsome ten, or so, years earlier that there was a great deal of ruin in a nation. This is a bit of corrective realism for the Romantics. Like David Hume, Smith benefited from the writings of Joseph Butler that were a corrective of Hobbes on the war of all against all, as was Locke’s revision of the idea of pristine anarchy or the state of nature prior to the rise of the state.

Many neo-cons are actually imperialist. They think that isolationism is not adequate for the modern world and that the liberal opposition to it, a meme that survived from pristine liberalism, still permeates the political culture of theUSAtoday, as does isolationism. The modern statist liberalism, that replaced classical liberalism, though lacking the economic analysis of Adam Smith and his epigones like Cobden and Bright, indeed, the modern liberals generally think that the empire enrichedBritain, still opposes imperialism. The neo-cons think their anti-imperialist outlook is naïve. They lament the void left by the ebbing of the British and other empires and they feel that something like that needs to rule today. This seems to them to be merely realistic but it fails for the reasons that Cobden said back in the 1830s. TheBritish Empiredid not always do so badly by the natives but they might have done the work it did just as well for themselves and it did tax the mother country more than was good for it.  But the neo-cons doubt that they ever can. So there is a large element of neo-imperialism in neo-conservatism.


Some among us have thought that the problem of free immigration causing strife might well be settled by free discrimination and rejection. This seems logically possible given a uniform rejection of the alien phenotypes in any nation, such as might be possible in Japan or China today but even in those two places there will be the usual Bell Curve of reactions to foreigners rather than a uniform reaction, thus this logical possibility remains remote. Females are less likely to be completely unsympathetic to the immigrant than will be the average male, thin even though there will be overlaps there. Indeed we will get a Bell Curve for each sex but one showing more sympathy to be with the females, I expect.

Similarly, the old more tolerant of immigrants than the young will be. Political Correctness holds otherwise, as it naively holds that time is with it and that what it opposes will eventually die out.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe is the leading exponent of this solution, so I will criticize a 2002 paper of his on the topic that was published in the Journal of Libertarian Studies Volume 16, No.1 (Winter 2002) entitled “Natural Order, the state, and the immigration problem”  (pp 75-97).

Mises is quoted on holding that if it was not for the positive sum game of trade then men would have been enemies. That looks unlikely, as even in the negative sum game of war we can still have friends. Moreover, the mutual gains of trade do not automatically make for friendship.  Free trade crowds out war as it crowds out politics, i.e. the sole cause of modern war, not because we like those we trade with.

Mises was as daft as was Hobbes to think that society ever could be a war of all against all. Though John Locke seems to have hit on the idea of revision late in his studies of Hobbes in his preparations for his books, Locke did outline a way more realistic view of pristine anarchy, or of a state of nature, than did Hobbes. Aristotle was clearly right to say that man is a social animal. The human race always was socialized into society, which always was artificial. We most likely inherited some culture from pre-man. It is not likely that the long parenting of humans could be done free of human society.  Individualism is a social philosophy.

So the idea that there could be a society utterly devoid of sympathy looks far-fetched.  Hoppe cites Mises’ Human Action  [(1949) 1998 edition] (p 144) to this end. Let me see what he says in my own 1966 edition. We are told there that we are born into a socially organized environment (p143) such that society came before the individual. Mises sees that the individual is an agent and that society is not.  He says that society is just the interaction of individuals. Society cannot be found free of individuals.  To take it literally that it can, is a recipe for many errors.  Only man can act. [This usage of “man” no more excludes women than the suffix in the word “women” excludes them].

Going over to the next the page, Mises says that friendship arises from society rather than the other way round. Society makes us human. That seems to be fine, but then we come to Hoppe’s quotation that the division of labour aided this. Unless we count that to include the natural one between the sexes, one that all animals have, for Engels once said that that is where the division of labour sprung from, then this would seem to be false.  Trade expands the domain of society but it does not create it. Mises seems to exaggerate here. He grants that if not the family, then sexual attraction, that often results in it, are biological. But modern man could not rear himself free of a tribe even if no tribe is biologically determined.   It seems clear that a tribal society could exist free of progress but it is true that trade makes society easier and that it greatly boosts progress.

Hoppe (p76) feels that this insight of Mises helps to explain why the modern neighbourhood is homogeneous, why it is usually confined to one tribe wherein each person own whatever they own separately, in an equal way to others, but that anyone may own more or less than others, that people may be in relationships, such as father and son, landlord and tenant and the like. Such relationships form communities that may well get on peacefully with alien communities, says Hoppe. Trade works well between those that do not like each other, either physically or behaviourally. Hoppe says in a footnote that Mises notes that would be the case even if we postulated that intense hatred was inborn between alien phenotypes, and all that seems to be the case.

Hoppe tends to embrace the old adage that “birds of a feather flock together” for he holds that distinct ethno-cultures will segregate out. Likes like to associate with likes, based on race, language, or other cultural differences like religion. They tend to separate themselves from unlikes.  There will be some overlap, he says, but he seems to think it will not amount to much. The in-groups remain largely uniform. Despite all the multicultural propaganda by the state, the result is still largely one of separate groups. Most would seem to prefer to trade with each other from afar, says Hoppe.

If there were to be no state property at all, not anywhere on earth, then there would be no leeway for mass immigration. Immigrants would then need to know those they visited, as there would be no public space to move in otherwise, says Hoppe (p78). But contrary to this, private property supplies any amount of public space in shops, airports, ships and the like. Why will they cease to exist?

Hoppe thinks any immigrants or visitors will need to be invited into any area they travel into and that this will restrict immigration, as the immigrants are not likely to ever be invited in, but it is not clear that, in fact, the public spaces will be lacking for them to arrive in on uninvited in a completely free society. He thinks that the immigrants will always be dependent on the person who invites them in, but why should we expect public places to vanish?

Hoppe admits that there will be lots of movement in free trade, as there is a need for it, but he thinks there is also a need to be selective. Most inclusive will be roads, railway stations, harbours and airports.  He admits that they will be willing to let people in. It is their trade to do so. But they do reject trespassers, drunks and others today, says Hoppe.

Shops, hotels and restaurants are similar in their keenness to welcome people in. But hotels will be more concerned about how the locals will react to their guests. Similarly, shops might fear a boycott of locals if they serve people whom are unacceptable.  They may discriminate owing to the potential loss of good will amongst the locals.

Hoppe thinks that local employers will think along the same lines. They may fear that a mixed workforce may lower productivity through the strife that is likely to thereby arise (p79). In any case, immigrant workers will require housing and there discrimination is strong. Residents do not like foreigners. Residential property in a whole area might fall in value if aliens are let in.  It is the difficulty of finding anywhere to settle that Hoppe seems to think will stop any significant immigration in a free society.

That is not too bad but it is always a bit risky saying how things may turn out if they are free for we do not know what the people will want in the future.

But if we have a state then things might be different, says Hope.  He claims to have a distinct idea as to what the state is so I will cite his idea here:

“Let us now introduce the institution of a State. The definition of a State assumed here is rather uncontroversial: A State is an agency which possesses the exclusive monopoly of ultimate decision-making and conflict arbitration within a given territory. In particular, a State can insist that all conflicts involving itself be adjudicated by itself or its agents. Implied in the power to exclude all others from acting as ultimate judge, as the second defining element of a State, is its power to tax: to unilaterally determine the price justice seekers must pay to the State for its services as the monopolistic provider of law and order” (p80).

Hoppe holds that mass immigration is a state phenomenon.  The state is not for the common good or owing to the public fear that anarchy would not produce a stable order but so it can be used for selfish ends of an elite, says Hoppe (p81), but that does not seem plausible to me. It is clearly there owing to the current common sense idea that it is needed for good order; though it is maybe even more secure owing to the fact that people think that it must serve some end, even though we may not know what that end is. This Hayekian idea is also a widespread common-sense idea. .

Though taxation, a ruling class can enrich themselves from the work of others is Hoppe’s idea.  That may be a logical possibility but love of power seems to be a far greater motive for the ambitious politician. It is often the case that one might earn way more elsewhere than in office but many have, like Joseph Kennedy, sunk a lot of money on the aim of getting his sons into power as an end rather than a mere means of getting money. In most cases, political power looks more like an end aim than like a mere means to getting rich.

With the state and set boarders, immigration takes on particular character, says Hoppe. Instead of a person moving from one place to another, we have a foreigner doing so. It is the state that decides who can settle. Force decides it rather than free buying and selling or fee association. It is either that the state forces the immigrant to be accepted or to not be allowed in (p81). This allows mass immigration that might be seen as forced integration, though that could not emerge if the state allowed truly free immigration, as then all immigrants would need to be invited in (p82). He says we then get macro rather than just micro immigration.  The state will want to maximise tax revenues. Hoppe says they will not be so interested in dong what many think it is their job to do, viz. to provide domestic or national security. He holds this is typical of a monopoly service and the state always imposes a monopoly.

Because the state may need to maintain its rule, it needs all private land to be surrounded by state owned land, so that it can get access to anyone who rebels against state rule or against taxation. So we get many parks and openly public roads so that  no one can resist the rule or coercive powers of the state. This is why the state wants to own the roads. It is not a market failure, says Hoppe.  Public roads being over supplied, as they are with the state, also pushes people who would sooner dodge each other into unwanted contact, he adds (p83). As the state will be keen on redistribution, this is almost bound to be done on racial, tribal or linguistic criteria.    A diverse mix in society gives the state an excuse to push its rules, though its ever-increasing Politically Correct affirmative action and anti-discrimination measures (p84), says Hoppe.  Seeing the public unarmed and unable to reject those they want to reject is all part of facilitating state rule, according to Hoppe. Employers can no longer hire or fire as they wish. Landlords can no longer refuse to let rooms when they might wish to do so.

All this allows the immigrant to enter and settle in state residential areas with the protection of the state (p85). Why would immigration ever be a problem for a state?  Hoppe oddly assumes there is a free market area from which they might immigrate and suggests that they would not, that emigration might be the problem there as only those who want to go on welfare would go from free trade to a state. The state then would have emigration as the problem, he says. But it is not likely that the state would provide welfare under those circumstances. He seems to think that welfare claimants are no problem for a state and that the clash of races in the multi-racial society is not either. He tends to suggest that those two social problems aid the state in some way. Hoppe takes this idea that the politicians are in it only for themselves a bit too unrealistically. We might say to Hoppe as Hume said to Rousseau, there is something in what you say but not as much as you think there is.

Hoppe then says that the state is also the cause of emigration. Presumably he means that if it tends to depress economic progress in many places to a greater extent than do other states then people will want to leave. Again, there is something in that but it is way more to the point to say that it is capital accumulation that tends to attract immigrants. A worker moving fromIndiatoEnglandcan expect to get better pay for almost any job that he does owing to greater capital accumulation inEnglandthan inIndia, and similarly with an immigrant fromEnglandto theUSA. There are there other factors but that seems to be the main cause of mass immigration today. But Hoppe instead wants to say:

“In fact, the institution of a State is a cause of emigration; indeed, it is the most important or even the sole cause of modern mass migrations (more powerful and devastating in its effects than any hurricane, earthquake or flood and comparable only to the effects on migration of the various ice-ages) (p85).”

This is clearly hyperbole from Hoppe and by that I do not mean that the damage Hoppe feels is done by immigration is but rather for him to say that the state is the main push of emigration or the main pull of immigration, that it in on par with or more significant than capital accumulation as the pull and relative poverty as the push. As for the supposed damage, it is likely that it is as subjectively as bad as Hoppe imagines it is for some natives or even worse than that for a few but on the other side some natives of the land that the immigrants go to will welcome the immigrants and they will see their arrival as a boon.  Political Correctness only flourishes today, as it seems fine to many people, even if Hoppe’s case gets a bit stronger when we consider that it is mainly popular in amongst the state supporting elite.

Hoppe goes on:

“What has been missing in this reconstruction is the assumption of a multitude of states partitioning the entire globe (the absence of natural orders anywhere). Then, as one state causes mass emigration, another state will be confronted with the problem of mass immigration; and the general direction of mass migration movements will be from territories where states exploit (legislatively expropriate and tax) their subjects more (and wealth accordingly tends to be lower) to territories where states exploit less (and wealth is higher) (p85)”

No mention of the pull of better pay in the lands where there is capital accumulation, yet Hoppe is an economist. He often cites Mises but Mises would soon have told him that the pull of immigration was capital accumulation. Moreover. We might note that Hoppe has noticed that immigration can pose problems for the state.  He admits that “another state will be confronted with the problem of mass immigration;” in contradistinction to his suggestion that it can never pose problems for the state as it gives only a wider tax base.

Hoppe follows on:

“We have finally arrived in the present, when the Western world —Western Europe, North America, andAustralia—is faced with the specter of State-caused mass immigration from all over the rest of the world. What can and is being done about this situation?

 Out of sheer self-interest States will not adopt an “open border” policy. If they did, the influx of immigrants would quickly assume such proportions that the domestic state-welfare system would collapse. On the other hand, the Western welfare states do not prevent tens or even hundreds of thousands (and in the case of theUnited Stateswell in excess of a million) of uninvited foreigners per year from entering and settling their territories. Moreover, as far as legal of open borders that exists de facto in the U.S. really amounts to a compulsory opening by the central state, the state in charge of all streets and public land areas, and does not genuinely reflect the wishes of the proprietors” (p85)

Hoppe holds that the state sets immigration limits that it then flouts as it sees fit and all this is usually unpopular with the natives so he asks why is it done (p86). It is not difficult to find a rationale, he says, as forced racial integration breaks up many institutions in society such as the family or the clan. In a broken society it is easier for the state to get rid of people who cause them trouble.  Socialist dictators use this ploy. They can flee easier if toppled. TheUSAhas favoured Jewish immigrants from the formerUSSRautomatically. They tended to get jobs in the public or state sector. InIsrael, some ninety two percent of the land is owned by the state. They will not allow the natives to leave but allow Jews from all places to enter. Non –Jews are not allowed to rent from Jews (p86). Hoppe continues: 

“In the “logic” of the state, a hefty dose of foreign invasion, especially if it comes from strange and far-away places, is reckoned to further strengthen this tendency. And the present situation offers a particularly opportune time to do so, for in accordance with the inherently centralizing tendency of States and statism generally and promoted here and now in particular by the U.S. as the world’s only remaining superpower, the Western world—or more precisely the neoconservative-social democratic elites controlling the state governments in the U.S. and Western Europe—is committed to the establishment of supra-national states (such as the European Union) and ultimately one world state. National, regional or communal attachments are the main stumbling blocks on the way to this goal. A good measure of uninvited foreigners and government imposed multiculturalism is calculated to further weaken and ultimately destroy national, regional, and communal identities and thus promote the goal of a One World Order, led by the U.S., and a new ‘universal man’ (p87).”

This aim of world government may be a common aim in government circles, for it is not so uncommon in the few amongst the public that show any interest in politics but it is idealistic rather than based on self interest. It was way more popular in 1945 than it is today if we judge by the number of books that can be found from that decade that advocate the aim.

Hoppe sees that a completely open boarder today would soon see many immigrant groups becoming a majority in many places, as there are so many who might gain from leaving from places that have large populations like India and Nigeria and not many natives in Switzerland, or Austria or even in greater populated Germany or Italy by comparison with the massive indigents in the two lands cited (p88). This would most likely cause the welfare state to collapse but Hoppe is not worried about that consequence but he thinks that it is a mistake to assume that the anarcho-liberal order would emerge from this sort of collapse.  This is because the immigrants are not like they might be if they were natives but have the culture of the lands they have come from rather that the knowledge needed to be part of the market order. Proper assimilation can only arise when the immigration is on a small scale and it cannot cope with large-scale immigration, says Hoppe. Only the very naïve would expect a market society to emerge from the assorted enclaves or ghettos of the various immigrant areas. Indeed, Hope feels that any sociological insight would lead on to expect only a civil war from such diversity. It will begin with plundering and people squatting in houses such that capital will soon be consumed and society will ebb. The natives will soon be a minority. The Alps will still be inSwitzerlandandAustriabut not any Swiss or Austrians (p88).

Hoppe feels that the libertarians who advocate open borders are not only ignorant of sociology but they also fail on basic ethics (p89). The assumption it makes is that foreigners have a right to live wherever they want to, but he says that they have no such right. They might have that right if the property they were moving to were not already owned territory, but it is not. Hoppe feels that the evidence of conflict along ethnic and religious lines is rife, fromUlstertoSouth Africa, fromYugoslaviato theLebanon, from the Soviet Union of 1917 toIndiain 1948. IsSwitzerlandwith its cantons of French, Germans Italians and Romansh an exception? No says Hoppe, as the cantons allow them a lot of independence.  Of the twenty-six cantons only three are bilingual (p89).

Many advocates of the open boarders hold that the state property is unowned, like the frontier was, but it is not like that (p90) says Hoppe, as it is largely confiscated property.  It basically still belongs to the taxpayers from whom it was taken from and who have continued to be taxed to maintain it, he thinks. This seems far-fetched. It clearly belongs to the state. But Hoppe feels that the ones that had it taken off them remain the rightful owners. Many nationalists do feel that taxes remain theirs, in some way, but that seems to be a falsehood. But like them, Hoppe feels they have a right to a say in how taxes are used, and that gives them rights over the foreigners. It looks like a democratic and a nationalist position that Hoppe basically adopts here. The fact that all the state has is really still truly the property of those who have had it taken from them means that the foreigners do not have the same rights and it also makes affirmative action also morally outrageous

Many say that immigrants work their own way and thereby make for greater prosperity. Maybe, but that does not make it any the less immoral says Hoppe. For him, immigration is a matter of right and wrong, not of economics.

The state is supposed to protect the natives both from invasion and from domestic crime, so it is ironic that it tolerates, or even encourages, masses of aliens in to occupy its homelands It is not the case that immigrant invited in do no damage, according to Hoppe, as he feels that they do impose on the natives. Only in a completely company owned town can the full cost be met by the employer of the immigrants he invites in as workers.  As things are, the immigrants not only impose on the natives but also are privileged against normal social discrimination (p91). By being able to externalise the cost of immigrant workers, some firms can bring in low quality people in regardless of how they fit in (p92). 

Hoppe feels that the open border stance is bankrupt (p92). He feels it might owe something to the idea that businessmen are heroes, an idea that Ayn Rand had. What can be wrong with such a hero hiring an immigrant worker? But if she had read a bit of history, says Hoppe, then she might have realised that big business is a big offender against private property rights. They use the state to get privileges like importing immigrant workers at other people’s expense, he says. They also export capital and get the state to bail them out when the investments fail.

Hoppe thinks that many libertarians who argue for an open door policy are egalitarians also. They liked the tolerance of various lifestyles and the anti-authoritarianism of liberalism.   But they are sensitive on free discrimination. They even think the state is right to be against racism and sexism. Some of such libertarians are often even Politically Correct [PC]. Like normal PC adherents, they might ironically say that civil rights are important whilst pushing privileged suppression of normal social discrimination. They simply do not see that they are calling for a privileged position at others expense. Discrimination and exclusion is the normal price for many new lifestyles but they like to see the state criminalize this reaction (p92).

Hoppe seems to be a bit weak on logic. He says:

“A State is a contradiction in terms: it is a property protector who may expropriate the property of the protected through legislation and taxation. Predictably, a State will be interested in maximizing its tax revenues and power (its range of legislative interference with private property rights) and disinterested in protecting anything except itself. What we experience in the area of immigration is only one aspect of a general problem. States are also supposed to protect their citizen from domestic intrusion and invasion, yet as we have seen, they actually disarm them, encircle them, tax them, and strip them of their right to exclusion, thus rendering them helpless” (p95).

But we do not get any contradictions in reality but only in accounts of reality. What Hoppe seems to mean is that the state does not always protect private property, but that is no contradiction. He means that the suppositions that he is criticising are inept not that they are strictly absurd.

Hoppe feels that to solve the immigrant problem is to solve many others. He says that a return to natural order will be part of it, and by that he seems to mean liberal anarchy. He thinks the means to this is by devolution and succession (p93).  He thinks by this process the state will ebb, but it seems more likely that common sense, or the common outlook that the public have, will change resulting in privatisation rather than devolution, whereby the state is rolled back first and later dissolved. Hoppe also says that privatisation will be also needed  (p94). Within a page he declares that devolution is not enough. But it has no use at all. It can only hope to achieve its aim of getting people to love the local state, but that is hardly a liberal aim.

Hoppe want to make a detailed fuss of who has paid the most taxes, or who might have owned the property to begin with (p94) but all that is to create problems rather than to solve them. The thing to do is to privatise, and to do so as quickly as possible and let bygones be bygones. Hoppe admits to some problems with privatisation but they seem to be all around his fuss about the process but, of course, he is right to make explicit that anyone who gets the sometime state property will need to be able to sell it to those who will be able to manage it well. Any fool needs to allow the market to part him from his money. This polycentric public regulation by the price system is all the regulation that is needed, and all that is socially functional.

Hoppe concludes:

“With the central state withered away and the privatisation of public property complete, the right to exclusion inherent in private property and essential for personal security and protection is returned into the hands of a multitude of independent private decision-making units. Immigration once again becomes a micro-phenomenon and disappears as a social “problem” (p95).

This will aid the problem, or ease it, but it might not get rid of it altogether. Hoppe seems to assume that the likes of the BNP is in the middle of the Bell Curve rather than at one of the edges of it. That may be the case, or it may not be. Political Correctness has obfuscated how things are with the public by its intolerance of free speech.

 A fond friend replies to all this above thus:

“It is ironic that Hoppe seems to feel immigration and alternative non-traditional life styles will not be broadly tolerated on the market when he, a German national, has himself, lived in Las Vegas for twenty years and then divorced his wife of long standing and abandoned his children in order to take up with and then to marry a Turkish woman, and live in Turkey with her running a hotel.” 
We can expect the general public to be equally lax.

Drug Control: Futile and Immoral

by Robert Henderson

During the nineteenth century, the period of Britain’s greatest power, comparative wealth and influence, drugs were freely available: at first hashish and opium in various forms, followed by cocaine, morphine and heroin in the latter part of the period. Not only did the world not collapse and the country fall to ruin, Britain prospered greatly: GDP in 1900 was approximately ten times what it was in 1800, the population increased fourfold, social disorder decreased, the political franchise was considerably broadened, industrialisation proceeded apace and the Empire increased to become the only world empire ever worthy of the name.

Today we live in a country in which it is generally accepted that drug taking ranging from hashish to heroin is widespread despite drugs being illegal, expensive, difficult to obtain and of uncertain quality. Yet even in these difficult financial times, Britain has the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world, people are living ever longer and the general health and prosperity of the population is much improved and still improving and growing. Drug taking now is self-evidently not going to bring society down or even seriously incommode it.

Let me add reminiscence. I was an undergraduate at Keele University in the late sixties and early seventies. At that time, the majority of Keele students took drugs: one was thought a little odd if one did not. Yet the dropout rate was very low. Students took both drugs and their degrees with equal facility.

Once a product that is widely desired is made illegal a certain pattern of behaviour always results: a black market, gangsters, the criminalisation of essentially law-abiding people and much social dislocation. This applies whether or not the object of desire has long been part of the social fabric such as drink or a novelty such as crack cocaine. Take the example of American Prohibition. The consequence of that quite insane piece of social engineering was illegality on a Herculean scale. Indeed, it was Prohibition that allowed the rise of the Mob and organised crime, with all the varied criminality and misery that brought not merely during Prohibition but ever since, a fact all too easily ignored by those who wish drugs to remain illegal. Drug profits are and have been so large that they fund much of non-drug major crime.

The life of the addict

What is the life of the addict today? Most will either not be able to get drugs supplied by the state or will reject those on offer such as the heroin substitute methadone because they are inadequate substitutes. If the addict does not have money, he must regularly commit crime. That may be anything from stealing from his family and friends to violent street robbery. Living like that, he will probably alienate his family and friends and his only companions will be fellow addicts. The addict may often become a dealer to fund his habit. To obtain his drugs he is reliant on suppliers who have no scruples and who may not be readily available when the drug is needed. The drugs he obtains may be adulterated or too pure and thus too powerful. Either may kill the addict, although the number who die is actually small. If he is caught by the police the addict risks prison with all its brutalising effects. In short, the average addict’s life is one of constant worry, frustration, social disruption and danger. It is that package of ills, not the effects of the drugs, that generally makes drug addicts go to rehab clinics.

That the average addict has to live in this way has severe consequences for society in general. Even if someone is not the victim of a drug-related crime, everyone is affected by the cost of policing, trying and imprisoning addicts. There are further costs, for example the state rehab centres that exist primarily because drugs are illegal and the provision of substitute drugs such as methadone. It is also true that were drugs freely available, many poor addicts would be able to hold down a job because they would no longer have to spend their days desperately trying to get the means to purchase drugs.

The rich addict has a rather different life. For him the main problems are the risk to health of adulterated goods or overdosing from an overly pure product and the danger of being arrested. In practice, he normally manages to avoid both. If he does fall ill or foul of the law, he can mitigate their effects by using his money. Thus, the drug laws in practice discriminate between the rich and the poor.

Moral panic

Most people are aware at some level of the deleterious social effects of enforcing drug laws, yet overwhelmingly they support them. The question is why? The answer is that human beings are all too easily persuaded to join in a moral panic.

Moral panics are a consistent theme of society. To take a few at random from English history. On they economic front we have moral panics over tulip mania, the South Sea Bubble, canal mania and railway mania. In every case the country, according to the Jeremiahs, stood on the brink of ruin. On the moral front, we have had panics over the drink, unbelief, ill-manners, unwed couples and illegitimacy. On the political front we have had concerns that the lower orders would dispossess the well-to-do if they were given the vote and a positive bevy of despair over the country going to the dogs after some setback such as the loss of the America colonies. All proved to be a passing fashion. The world did not end, England still stood after they had passed and our society evolved safely.

In the case of drugs, those opposed to their legalisation are confused about both their effects and of what exactly they are afraid. The truth is that very few people in Britain unambiguously die of drugs each year, the numbers being counted in dozens rather than hundreds. By unambiguously I mean the death is attributable to the taking of a drug rather than merely being the death of an addict. Moreover, many of those who do die from drugs, do so because of the problems associated with the lives they live as a direct consequence of drugs having been made illegal.

The problem is that every now and then a tragic death of a youngster hits the headlines and the media, politicians and the professional anti-drug propagandists go into action to paint a picture of a world run mad with drug deaths and drug induced disorder. Parents are naturally appalled and worried when they see these rare consequences of drug use. What they do not generally do is understand that these are wholly exceptional cases and that even if their children took drugs it is very unlikely that they will die or be seriously harmed. That they do not understand this is not surprising because they are faced with more or less blanket anti-drug propaganda by politicians, police and the media.

For those who have family or friends who are addicts, reality impinges. Their concerns and fears are frequently not primarily the largely illusory dangers of drug taking, but the antisocial behaviour to which the illegality of the drug drives the addict and the ever lurking dangers of imprisonment with which an addict must live.

The myth of a golden age

The moral panic about drugs is part of a larger moral panic that sees, quite against the evidence, that our present society is in some way lacking in the moral certainties and restraint of previous ages. ‘Permissiveness’ and the welfare state are fingered as the culprits. In fact, this is merely a re-run of previous moral panics that always harked back to a golden age.

A few facts from our social history. The Welfare State did not suddenly materialise in 1945. England has had a welfare state of sorts since the seventeenth century. The Tudor concern for the growth of ‘sturdy beggars’ culminated in the Poor Laws of 1597 and 1601. These created the first legally enforceable national provision for the poor in the world. The Acts placed a legal obligation on parishes to provide for their poor by a general poor rate. It was not generally enforced until after the Restoration, but from the latter part of that century it was in effect a welfare state and provided the means by which an able bodied man and his family might live even if they could not find paid work – although they would be expected to labour at work provided by the parish – and the infirm supported.

Between 1660 and 1830 the provision offered under Parish relief grew. Outdoor relief, i.e. relief outside the workhouse reached its zenith with the supplementing of wages in what was known as the Speenhamland system. (Sounds familiar? Employers, generally farmers, did the obvious and reduced their wages to a level that permitted the recipient of such relief to live on the combined relief and the reduced wages).

By the 1830s, the Poor Law had become both an expensive, uneven and ill-administered system. It was reformed by the Act of 1834 (the Poor Law Amendment Act), which standardised the provision of relief offered throughout the UK and retained the emphasis on helping the ‘deserving poor’, their deserving status being ensured by insistence on labour if the person was physically capable of it. It was a harsh system – men and women were separated even if man and wife – and much hated, but again it did ensure a man and his family would not starve.

By the time that drugs were first criminalised in the 1920s,England had a very broad state provision for much of the population of what we would now call the welfare state: pensions, unemployment pay, sick pay, healthcare and education.

Alongside state provision was a vast array of private charity, providing everything from money, housing, education, training, employment and healthcare, such as it was before the latter half of the 19th century.

The truth is that people have always been able to escape the effects of their fecklessness. Take unwanted children. Until the end of the eighteenth century and quite probably later, infanticide was common in England. Babies were also frequently left in public places in the hope that they would be ‘adopted’ by others. Many were. Later, formal adoption became common for the children of ‘fallen women’.

There were other ways of getting rid of children. They could be left on the parish. When older they could be sold (often by the parishes) as ‘apprentices’ to often-unscrupulous masters: chimney sweeps were frequently recruited in this manner.

The golden age of sexual propriety is just a small window in English history. Illegitimacy was very high before the latter half of the 19th century. Men frequently deserted women they had made pregnant: the ‘navigators’ who built the railways in the 19th century were probably the champions of this trick.

As for other fecklessness, until the formation of modern police forces your chances of being caught if you committed a crime were pretty small. So, if you got into debt, a little light villainy could well get you out of it, at least in London, where ‘liberties’ – areas where the authorities would not go in normal times – protected criminals until the 1850s. A golden age of moral restraint never existed.

How can the drug fearers be reassured?

How do we on the legalising side persuade the great mass of people that making drugs freely available is safe? Well, let us start with the experience of the Victorians. They were not in fact exercised massively by the social effects of drugs, although there was some concern about opium addiction. Rather they were greatly concerned with the ‘demon drink’. On a rational basis, they were correct to have that priority, because alcohol is by far the most socially disruptive drug. Yet in practice, they lived quite comfortably with the ill effects of alcohol and developed a tremendously successful society. We do the same today. Most people take alcohol and behave reasonably. There is a general lesson to be learnt from that, namely, when a drug is freely available a few will abuse it but most will not.

How can we be sure that what happens with alcohol will happen with drugs? Simple, we point to the experience of drug use when the it was legal and debunk the myth of the past as a golden age of responsibility and restraint compared with our own.

What of the physical effects of drugs? Few die of any illegal drug. As for claims such as the supposed memory loss and loss of intellectual function in hashish users, I have known people who have taken marijuana or cannabis for more than thirty years. I have noticed no intellectual diminution or memory loss in such people when compared with non-users I have known for an equivalent period. Many people take hard drugs throughout their adult lives and live to a normal age. Moreover, if drugs were legalised, the quality and strength of the drugs could be assured and what little risk there is of death and serious disablement would be further reduced.

How should legalisation be introduced?

The trick is to legalise all drugs. If you merely legalise, say, cannabis, you have not cured the problem. All you have done is deal with one of the symptoms. People will still want other drugs.

In an ideal world, legalisation would take place globally. However, that is never going to happen, so if we wish to cut the Gordian knot we have no option but to go it alone. Once one large First World country has had the courage to legalise all drugs, the odds are that the rest will not be far behind.

When I say legalise all drugs, I mean all drugs. Prescription only drugs vary greatly from country to country and the Internet allows easy access to drugs unavailable in a particular country. Moreover, anyone with the money to go to a doctor privately has always been able to get most drugs on demand. The objection that the effectiveness and useful life of drugs such as antibiotics will reduced really does not hold water when they are prescribed in such numbers and can be obtained without prescription in many countries. Bacteria know no national boundaries. It is also true that many substances that are non-prescription are as potentially dangerous as prescription drugs.

How should drugs be sold when legalised? They should be treated as tobacco and alcohol are treated. They should be taxed and be available as easily. The tax would remove any reasonable gripe about health-related costs resulting from legalisation

There will be those who call for a lower age limit for the sale of drugs. It may be necessary on political grounds to have such a limit, but let no one imagine that it will be any more effective than the age limits for drink and tobacco. Such laws are in principle impossible to enforce because they will always be so widely broken that their policing is impossible. They also have the ill effect of bringing the law into contempt because everyone knows that they are routinely broken.

What addicts want

I presently live in one of the drug hotspots of inner London. Addicts tell me the same story over and over again. Their primary problems are the uncertainty of supply and the need to commit crimes to pay for their habit. They also fret over going to prison. What they are not concerned about is being addicts any more than a cigarette smoker is worried about being an addict. Take away the criminality and the addicts’ problems, and the problems they cause the rest of us, will miraculously vanish.

People do not commonly go out mugging people to pay for cigarettes. Legalise drugs and most users will not be out mugging people to pay for them, families will not be disrupted, users will not have their lives made a misery, the crimes of theft and street robbery will fall considerably, the police will be released for other duties, and the state will not have to pay for their imprisonment and ‘treatment’.

In short, let the sociology take the strain and society will not a have drug problem, it will merely have a hard core of abusers just as alcohol has a hard core of abusers. The distribution of personality and personal circumstances within society and their interaction with the general culture ensures that will always be so.

For libertarians there are two strong reasons for supporting legalisation beyond the practical. Firstly, the presumption for the libertarian must be that every individual has the right to make choices for himself or herself. Secondly, the banning of anything gives the state great latitude to interfere in the lives of its people.

The hard truth of drug control is that it is not merely futile but immoral in its effects on individuals and society.

The Atlas Shrugged Film: A Christian Review

We Saw Atlas Shrugged

We went to see the new movie, Atlas Shrugged, Friday evening at Chicago’s AMC theater at River North. It was a fascinating evening. This was the opening weekend of a very limited release.

The venue was very impressive. The theater itself had seating for 950 according to the placard on the wall. It was comfortably full; I’d say at least 700. The most interesting thing about the crowd was that it was at least 80% 30s-and-under; mostly couples and groups of couples. We actually felt like the “oldies” in the group!

The attendees had obviously read the book. There was lively discussion about its contents, about the movies adaptation of its story line and the general philosophy/approach of Rand overall. I would say that if this is the so-called “tea-party-crowd,” then the Tea Party is in pretty good shape.

The movie itself was a bit of a disappointment for me. The acting was ok, I didn’t get the “made for TV” feeling mentioned in some of the critical pans (remember the critics have to be “politically correct” in assessing this most unpolitically correct movie). The not-big-name-actors made it rather refreshing, as the “no-namers” held their own.

My less than satisfying feeling came mainly from the fact that it turns out this is a “Part 1” of what seems to be a planned 3-part effort. You don’t get very far into the book with this part and “who is John Galt” is never answered–the movie ends with the igniting of “Wyatt’s Torch” (a point of info for those who’ve ready the book). If the other two parts get made, this will be resolved but with low budget movies that have taken decades to get this far, that is not a sure thing. I’d have like to have had more resolution of the overall story of the book.

It is a movie well worth seeing. And a book well worth reading. I read the book in the ‘60s and had actually forgotten about it until hearing about the movie. I’m pleasantly surprised it is still being read—and from our observation of the crowd, studied and appreciated.

Which brings me to a point that needs to be made: In our current cultural clamor to reconstruct a society which once again will celebrate individual achievement and enlightened self-interest, we need to be informed about those to whom we give our ear.

Ayn Rand was the “mother” of the Objectivist movement. She (as well as this movement) was outspokenly atheistic and demonstratively anti-religion. Although she/they saw “religion” mainly in terms of Catholicism, she/they rejected out of hand the idea of faith and revelation as the basis for any epistemology (i.e, view of knowledge), code of ethics/values or view of reality. This needs to be understood clearly by those believers who seem to be enamored by her work. Her basic philosophy is anti-god-in-any-and-all-forms.

The Objectivist school bases its understanding of social and societal construct solely on human virtues, reason and intellect, while denouncing as impossibly irrelevant any idea of faith or God. To them the idea of “pride as a virtue” is paramount; the idea it may be a “sin” is scandalous.

For Rand and her followers, both then and now, the watchwords are not faith, God, service; but rather: reason, nature, happiness, man. The absolute, which must guide everything, is the principle of reason; every other idea must meet this test. It is in this approach–in this fundamental rejection of faith–that their philosophy lies. For them, faith is simply “belief in the absence of evidence.”

And it is the propagation of this philosophy that lies at the heart of this novel. When Rand first discussed the publishing of her work with Random House, she reports that she told them, “This work is an extreme, uncompromising defense of capitalism and free enterprise and presents a new philosophy…a new morality….A direct affront to Judeo-Christian values.”

Thus the book works from a premise of abandonment of God, the belief that we have a right to exist for ourselves, opposition to the concept of “sinful” man, the pursuit of happiness as a worthy and ultimate goal coupled with the need for a lack of compassion, charity and humility.

So, my friends, in your search for those to help buttress your economic/political/social model or an idealized Americana, be aware that the Rand model will broach no allowance for a deity, divine revelation or a sinful/in need of redemption man, nor the idea of self-sacrifice as a virtue. No. This is a totally sufficient man, with no need of a belief in an unknown and unknowable “other” and no goal beyond a worthy pride.

It is their view that because this world is of vital importance, the definitive motive of man’s action should be the pursuit of happiness. Because the individual, not a supernatural power, is the creator of wealth, a person should have the right to private property, the right to keep and use or trade his own product. And because man is basically good, they insist, there is no need to leash him; there is nothing to fear in setting free a rational animal.

Thus is the ideal of the author of Atlas Shrugged. It is an ideal doomed to fail. See Romans 1:19-25.

New LA Pamphlet: Robert Henderson on What to Do if Arrested

I think we’ve already published a version of this. Here it is as revised for the Libertarian Alliance:

Over the past twenty-five years fundamental safeguards have been removed or are in danger of being removed from our legal system through measures such as the Serious Crime and Disorder Act, various anti-terrorism laws, the retention of the fingerprints and DNA of those not found guilty of a crime and the breach of the convention that no one is placed in “double jeopardy” by being tried twice for the same offence.  At the same time, the whole thrust of government policy and behaviour is ever more authoritarian, vide the neutering of Parliament, the series of gratuitous and aggressive wars and the increasingly intolerant treatment of protestors.  In such circumstances the chances of becoming involved with the criminal law are increasing even for the law abiding.  That being so it pays to be prepared to deal with the police, lawyers and the courts.  This is what the guide is designed to do.


The Asse-Hatte embraces GramscoStaliNazism, in public

David Davis

A fellow called “Dr” (the “doc”) Rowan Williams, an Asse-Hatte described as an “Archbishop of Canterbury” today said that “the rich should be forced to help the poor”. I wonder how that will be done, or even if it is legal (yet.) I thought that if A is forced by B to “help” C, then that makes A a slave and B a slave-driver or even a slave-owner.

Luddite Reflections

By Sean Gabb

When I was throwing together my thoughts on the John Snow public house, I thought of the point Kevin Carson had made about the pharmacists. I did try looking for it in the on-line version. But this would have meant opening and search several chapter files – and remembering a relevant key word. However, though I read the hard copy two years ago, I did remember the passage straddled a right and left hand page near to the end. Flicking through my copy, i was able to find what I wanted within about a minute.

There are some things you just can’t do with a Kindle….

Should Businesses have the Right to Discriminate against Homosexuals? by Sean Gabb

This is a draft. Comments welcome. In light of any comments, I’ll revise the article, or just attach comments.

Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 207
19th April 2011 

Should Businesses Have the Right
to Discriminate Against Homosexuals?
by Sean Gabb

On Wednesday the 13th April 2011, two men, James Bull and Jonathan Williams, kissed each other in the John Snow public house in Soho. Apparently, they were then asked to leave by a member of staff who called their act “obscene.” This alleged incident led to the usual sort of outrage. On the Friday following, several hundred homosexuals gathered in the street outside the pub to kiss each other. The pub closed early. Though its landlord has not so far made any comment to the media, the Metropolitan Police are now on the prowl, to see if he or his staff can be done under the “hate crime” laws.

When I read this story last week, I simply sniffed and moved on. Not long ago, every sentence of the newspaper report would have had people scratching their heads. But modern England is a strange place. The only oddity now is that anyone running a pub in Soho could even notice if two men were kissing, let alone think it good for business to object. I have been drawn back to the story, though, by a news release from Peter Tatchell. Among much else, he declares that “Businesses that provide a service to the public have a duty under the law to not discriminate.” While this may be an accurate statement of the law as it stands, removing the words “under the law” makes it a plain statement of what Peter believes. He believes this, and so do many other people. Indeed, among the media and political classes in modern England, it is an almost a self-evident proposition that, if you offer goods or services for sale, you have at least a moral obligation to do business with anyone who has money to spend. Refuse to do business with someone because you dislike the group of which he is a member, and expect to be vilified, where not taken to court.

Now, if it is frequently repeated by those in authority, a proposition may cease to be disputed, or even examined. It does not become true. And this proposition is false. No one has a moral obligation to do business with those whom he dislikes. Any law that compels him to do such business is not a victory for human rights, but a violation of rights. I have much respect for Peter Tatchell. He is more excitable than most of my friends. On the other hand, he has, over the past thirty years, played an honourable and perhaps decisive role in striking down the various legal persecutions of homosexuals. He also takes a straightforward line on freedom of speech that is nowadays rare among socialists. But he is, in his view of anti-discrimination laws, both wrong and even dangerously wrong. I hope that he will regard what I have to say on this issue as entirely friendly criticism.

Personal and Economic Freedom: A False Dichotomy

I read John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty when I was seventeen, and was immediately smitten by it. Reading the essay marks my final transition from liberal conservative to libertarian. Even at the time, though, I found my eyes opening at this claim, in Chapter V:

…[T]rade is a social act. Whoever undertakes to sell any description of goods to the public, does what affects the interest of other persons, and of society in general; and thus his conduct, in principle, comes within the jurisdiction of society…. [T]he so-called doctrine of Free Trade… rests on grounds different from, though equally solid with, the principle of individual liberty asserted in this Essay.

Mill is wrong here. Freedom is the right to do whatever we please with our own lives and property. The right is limited only by an obligation to refrain from force or fraud in dealing with others. The introduction of money into one man’s association with another makes no difference in itself. For example, a man may want to sleep only with other men. That is his business. He may choose to hold a sex party in his house, and to invite only men. That also is his business. It is his body, to with as he pleases. It is his property, to do with as he pleases – so long, of course, as he does not make a nuisance of himself, as reasonably conceived, to his neighbours. To make a law compelling him to sleep with women as well is make him into a slave. To make a law compelling him to admit women to his party, and men who want to sleep with women, is also to make him into a slave. He has bought or rented his house with his earnings, and telling him how to spend his earnings is as much a form of slavery and telling him what to do directly with his body. What makes the case any different if he offers himself to men as a prostitute, or charges for admission to his sex parties? Why should he be forced by an anti-discrimination law to sell his body to some woman who may desire him – or to take admission money from heterosexuals?

The right of one man to sleep with another is nothing more than an instance of the right to freedom of association. Freedom of association also includes freedom of trade. Denying any one instance of this freedom is to set a precedent for others to be denied. Regardless of payment, consenting adults should be free to associate as they please. Moreover, freedom of association necessarily involves the right not to associate. No one has a right to be included. No one has a right not to be shunned. Though they currently favour sexual and racial minorities, anti-discrimination laws in business matters are an attack on the right of these minorities to be left alone.

It may be very hurtful to see notices outside hotels that say things like “Wogs and queers not welcome.” It may be very hurtful to be told “We don’t employ your sort in this company.” But it is not our hotel, and it is not our company. We have no moral right to share in the profits of these businesses, or to cover their losses. Equally, we have no moral right to dictate how they should be run.

Of course, while it should have every right to throw demonstrative homosexuals into the street, no one is obliged to drink at the John Snow public house; and the demonstration outside a few days later was entirely legitimate. As said, it is bizarre that anyone on Soho could regard this sort of discrimination as other than catastrophic for business. It may have come already, but I do expect a grovelling apology from the owners of the public house. And it is worth noting that, while homosexuals are not as generally loved as the media would have us believe, there is very little active dislike. Even without anti-discrimination laws, I do not think modern England is a place where discrimination is welcomed.

Free Markets v Actually Existing Markets

That is my answer to Peter Tatchell. However, this defence of the right to freedom of trade brings me to a matter that is presently controversial within the libertarian movement. Kevin Carson has denounced “vulgar libertarianism.” In more formal terms, Roderick Long has drawn attention to what he calls “right conflationism.” This is the tendency of many libertarians to defend the outcomes of an actually existing market as if they were the outcomes of a free market. It is a pervasive tendency, and I regret that I have often fallen victim to it myself. But it is something that must be identified and avoided.

For we do not live in anything approaching a world of free markets. Wherever we look, there is a relationship between government and big business so close that the two may often be taken, at the top, as one and the same thing – a system almost consciously designed to suck wealth upwards into the hands of the ruling class. We have limited liability laws that allow those in charge of a business to minimise their exposure to tort actions, and to attract large amounts of investment capital, and to give long enough existence for the business to grow far beyond what would otherwise be normal. We have transport and communication subsidies that allow big businesses to benefit from economies of scale, while externalising their diseconomies. We have tax and regulatory burdens that press harder on small businesses. We have intellectual property laws that – even if justified in principle – are practical subsidies on size. The outcome of all this is that England and America, and every other civilised country, are thoroughly corporatised and cartellised.

It is probably not a free market outcome that a quarter of all spending on food in this county goes through Tesco. It is probably not a free market outcome that we are all dependent for our energy needs on gigantic organisations, owned or regulated by the State, that extract their raw materials from the some of the most politically unstable regions on the planet, and that need continual state involvement to keep their lines of distribution open. It is hard to say what a genuinely libertarian society would look like. But it would probably not be “Tesco minus the State.” It would probably be a a place of small craftsmen and farmers and traders, of artists and of unlicensed doctors and lawyers, and of others needed if individuals and free associations of individuals are to live well. I do not think there would be no large enterprises, or that the wage system would disappear. But these would be far less important features than they presently are.

Primary and Secondary Regulation

This being so, we cannot simply announce that whatever some big business does is not our concern. We cannot apply the libertarian defence of free markets to the state capitalism that we presently have. There are, for example, about a dozen commercial banks in this country. Suppose they all – possibly with a nod and wink from the Government – decide not to open an account for some disapproved political party. Do we say that the banks have no obligation to do business with anyone who presents himself at their counters? Or do we bear in mind that political parties are required by law to have a bank account, and that the banks are all licensed and regulated into what amounts to a cartel, and that the banks should therefore be required to take whatever customers seem likely to run their accounts in a reasonable manner? The first is a valid answer for a free market. When the market is not free, does the second become a valid answer?

Again, let us look again at Tesco. Bearing in mind its great power within a pretty unfree market, is it so outrageous that there should be controls on its further expansion, and on how it treats its suppliers and customers? Should there be laws to punish any collusive agreements it may make with suppliers or competitors?

Or, to come now to the first point of this article, should pubs be at liberty to turn away customers who are not committing any breach of the peace, but whose conduct is offensive to the management or staff? Pubs are licensed. Some of their profit is gained from the limiting of competition. Should they be treated as if they were operating in a free market? Or should they be required to serve any customer?

For many left libertarians, the answer to this last question is “yes.” In Chapter 13 of his Organization Theory, Kevin Carson gives us the analogy of a pharmacist who refuses on religious grounds to dispense birth control pills. For a “vulgar libertarian,” he says, the reflexive answer is “Yes, of course…. Anyone participating in the market should have the right to buy and sell, or not buy and sell, as he sees fit.” But this answer is based on the implicit assumption that we live in a society that entirely free. Mr Carson says:

But in fact, pharmacists are direct beneficiaries of compulsory occupational licensing, a statist racket whose central purpose is to restrict competition and enable them to charge a monopoly price for their services.

The pharmacist should, therefore, be compelled to dispense whatever is lawfully demanded.

The Welfare Economics Trick

I must say, however, that this application of the principle disturbs me. I agree that many controls on business have been laid on to mitigate the less welcome consequences of other controls, and that libertarians should bear this in mind when denouncing any particular control. Even so, as applied in this case, what may be a true principle leads us straight into a socialist police state. It allows the same intellectual trick as welfare economics. This begins with a pious explanation of how “social welfare” is maximised when perfectly rational consumers buy goods and services in a perfectly competitive market. It then observes that there are no perfectly rational consumers or perfectly competitive markets, and concludes that government action is needed to correct “market failure.” I spoke some years ago with Henri Lepage, who was working at the time for the European Commission. He told me that this trick was played in almost every policy document brought out by the Commission. These begin with lavish praise of the benefits of free competition, and end by recommending laws on the minimum diameter of apples and the maximum curvature of cucumbers.

In the same way, the principle of accepting some controls that mitigate other controls can be used to justify any degree of regulation. I am qualified to teach in both schools and universities. As such, I am privileged. Does this mean that I have no right to complain if I am told by law whom to teach, what to teach, and how to teach? My local newsagent is privileged, so far as he is allowed by the local authority to sell cigarettes. Does this mean he has no right to discriminate against schoolchildren by insisting that no more than three of them at a time should come into his shop? We live in a society where almost every activity is regulated, and – looking only at the benefits rather than the costs of regulation – is privileged. As with welfare economics, belief in the value of freedom can be made, without any particular effort, into acceptance of state socialism. There is no doubt that primary regulations are demanded by an intelligent ruling class that expects to benefit from them. But there is equally no doubt that there are special interest groups – and these may be partly autonomous of the ruling class – that benefit from secondary controls.

Speaking up for State Welfare

My own view is that, while the arguments put forward by Roderick Long and Kevin Carson, among others, cannot be dismissed out of hand, we should be very cautious in applying these arguments. Where state welfare is concerned, I, for one, will accept their aguments. We have a ruling class that has pretty well monopolised the means of production. Welfare is a drug –  paid for by those outside the ruling class and with incomes worth taxing –  to antototto anaesthetise those at the bottom to what they have lost. There are libertarians who can sit looking though a plate glass wiindow in the Kings Road and announce very grandly that there are always jobs available for those willing to work. Really, though, the choice for many is state welfare or taking a job on minimum wage that works out to a net gain, after tax and job expenses, of £10 or £20 a week. It may be in someone’s long term interest to take the job. On the other hand, the long term can be a long time in coming. At the same time, it is difficult to go off welfare and then, if the job folds, go straight back on at the old level of benefit. It may be a rational decision to avoid the risk. It is not an unreasonable decision. I say then that we should private first and cut welfare afterwards.

Oh, and when I talk of “privatisation,” I do not mean the Thatcherite switch from a less to a more efficient mode of rent seeking. I mean a radical attack on the sources of corporate privilege. Welfare is bad for all manner of reasons. It is a heavy burden on the middle classes. It pauperises the lower classes. The only real beneficiaries are a ruling class that has bought the quiescence of those who might otherwise turn into a screaming mob. But it really is one of those secondary controls to mitigate the working of primary controls.

The Necessary Coincidence of Principle and Pragmatism 

This being said, I do not accept the wider applications of the arguments. Just because someone is regulated does not make him a net beneficiary of state privilege. Just because he is regulated does not mean that he has consented to the regulation. Just because he is regulated does not make further regulation legitimate.

The John Snow public house has a licence to sell alcohol. This may make it a net beneficiary – though it may not. Certainly, however, its licence does not give it a monopoly privilege. There is no shortage of other pubs in Soho. Because no one who wants to drink is obliged to drink there, the pub should not be prevented from discriminating. The John Snow public house does not operate in a free market. But it does operate in a market sufficiently free for the usual libertarian defence to apply. If the licensing laws were so strict that it was the only public house within a ten mile radius, the case would be different. But there is competition.

In the same way, I should not be subject to regulation in my teaching methods – subject, of course, to whatever my employers and customers might demand. In the same way, I think the example of the pharmacist is wrongly argued. There are very few places – at least in England – where there is no choice of pharmacists. We should argue against all occupational licensing, but also be prepared to defend the right of the licensed to run their businesses as they please.

Very big companies like Tesco may be an exception to this rule. On the other hand, we are talking about corporatism, not state socialism. In the Soviet Empire, entrepreneurship did exist, but was confined to the margins of a system where production and pricing decisions were made and enforced at gunpoint. In England and America, most large companies are state-privileged trading bodies. But they also survive and flourish in part because they make the right entrepreneurial decisions. If Tesco is allowed to externalise many of its costs, it is also a success because it gives us what we want. If it makes mistakes – as, for example, in its American venture – it has to bear the costs of failure. It is part of a state-privileged cartel, but is also in fierce competition with the other supermarket chains.

Dirty Markets Better than Dirtier Markets

Now, I readily accept that the left libertarians know as much about Austrian economics as I do. But I will make the point that the real problem of economics is not to know what equilibrium looks like once it has emerged, but to understand the process by which it is continually approached, and the value of that process. Markets are valuable not so far as they result in some neoclassical equilibrium, but as a discovery process, in which particles of knowledge dispersed among billions of individuals – knowledge about wants and costs and techniques, knowledge that would otherwise remain dispersed – are brought together into a rational structure of opportunities for exchange. Markets allow people to blunder around, or make intelligent guesses, and every so often to light on some previously unimagined way of making the world a better place. And the players in a market need not be entirely unregulated sole traders. They can be state-privileged trading bodies.

Real market outcomes will not necessarily look anything like a perfectly competitive equilibrium. There may be a single supplier in a market, which may earn very high profits in the short and long term. Or there may be general collusion among suppliers to fix prices. But, so long as there is no use of overt government force to close the market – as is the case with the British Post Office – this must be taken as an acceptable outcome for the time that it endures. If an outcome is not efficient – if there are ways for someone else to come into a market and cut prices or raise quality while still making a profit – any position, no matter how incidentally privileged, will eventually crumble.

I agree that the scales are systematically tipped in favour of big business. But I do not agree that this justifies the kind of regulation that is often accepted by the left libertarians. Actually existing markets do produce obvious dynamic efficiencies that would only be reduced by further regulation. Moreover, these further regulations only raise up oppressive bureaucracies that result in a less libertarian outcome than simply putting up with the facts of privilege.

But this takes me far beyond a mere discussion of whether the John Snow public house should be allowed to exclude demonstrative homosexuals. It is enough for me to say that its management and staff should be allowed to exclude anyone they please – and to bear whatever consequences may come about.

News re Richard Blake

Mr Blake’s “Blood of Alexandria” is still in the Waterstones best seller chart a full two months after it came out in paperback!

Riding Rand

by Sean Gabb

We have carried twi reviews so far of the “Atlas Shrugged” film. Neither has encouraged me to hurry off to the local picture palace. However, I must remind everyone that Ayn Rand does feature quite prominently in my novel “The Churchill Memorandum.”

You can buy copies here:

Beyond the Education Bubble

by Kevin Carson

Peter Thiel’s contrarian approach to higher education, as you might expect, has provoked considerable squealing from the usual suspects. Thiel believes higher education has become a speculative bubble, and that the price of a college education is vastly overvalued compared to its lifetime payoff. There are more college graduates than there are jobs that call for their qualifications, which means that for many unemployed or underemployed graduates a student loan is the equivalent of an underwater mortgage.

The education bubble, like the finance bubble, is fueled by excess money looking for an outlet and unscrupulous promoters looking for suckers. Just as shady bankers lured people into mortgages that were beyond their means, the higher education industrial complex — through its affiliated high school counselors — lures kids into obtaining what seems to be easy money through Sallie Mae with the promise of higher lifetime incomes. Meanwhile, the availability of this third-party money fuels an educational culture based on high-overhead and cost-plus markup — the same culture that gave us the Pentagon’s $600 toilet seats — and tuition increasing at more than four times the rate of inflation.

To challenge the college mystique, Thiel is in process of selecting the twenty most promising candidates under age 20 to drop out, in return for $100,000 over two years to start a business. Hence the above-mentioned squeals of outrage.

Of course the idea that the educational panacea is overrated isn’t a new one. The late Joe Bageant pointed out that the “economic growth by sending everyone to college” meme was a fallacy of composition. The Empire, he said, only needed about 25% of its population in administrative-technical positions. Sending more than that to college just resulted in burger-flippers and floor-moppers with bachelor’s degrees.

There are some serious difficulties with Thiel’s position, in an economy organized on the kind of hyper-capitalist corporate model he seems to assume. In such an economy, as plenty of critics have pointed out, higher education — even if overpriced — will be indispensible to people seeking certain kinds of professional employment. It will continue to perform a signaling function, simply because HR departments will naturally desire some bureaucratic S.O.P. for processing human raw material without having to deal with a lot of special cases on an ad hoc basis. And I’ve seen more than one person argue that Thiel probably hires college educated people; if American higher education implodes, he’ll just hire cheaper credentialed Chinese tech workers.

John Robb, of Global Guerrillas blog, wants to go further than Thiel and challenge the existing state capitalist model of how employment itself generates demand for credentials (“The Education Bubble,” April 13).

The idea is not to eliminate higher education, but to eliminate the mass-production model by which it is organized: Transporting people to a central location with expensive physical plant and a bloated administrative bureaucracy in order to process them into human resources. Network technology, with its ability to move information cheaply rather than moving people, offers the potential of an alternative that “creates its own educational modules if needed (from scratch using modern tools and techniques).”

We’ve seen the first hints of this with MIT’s Open Courseware project, which puts its entire catelogue of course syllabi and lectures online. And there are corporate capitalist challengers, like the University of Phoenix, offering a cheaper education in competition with the legacy colleges. But what happens when you combine the two? What happens when you combine online syllabi, video lectures, online conferencing and virtual classrooms into a single package on the U. Phoenix model — but the lectures and other content are provided on an open-source basis without the state’s copyright monopolies?

Education may provide an essential signaling function, given the conventional model of employment. But the conventional model of employment by a large bureaucratic corporation — with a conveyer belt running from schools to the HR department which sorts out the “resources” which are manufactured to spec — is itself becoming obsolete.

Industrial supply and distribution chains are radically shortening, and tools are becoming radically cheaper, which means that business enterprise will become much smaller and relocalized, with business models driven by those who actually own the tools and the skills.

So the organization and selection of educational options will be driven much more by producers’ own assessments of what they need to learn to be able to produce effectively, instead of a curriculum set to the specs of HR at GlobalEvilMegaCorp LLC. Curricula will be set on a much more decentralized, bottom-up and ad hoc basis, with the student — not the corporate employer — as the real customer.

Higher education, as conventionally understood, is a legacy of the 20th century model in which giant interlocking bureaucratic institutions — large oligopoly corporations, centralized government agencies, bloated bureaucratic universities — dominate society.

That model is dying.

eA White Nationalist Review of “Atlas Shrugged, Part I”

Note by Sean Gabb: We are publishing a diverse range of reviews of the Atlas Shrugged filem. This is perhaps the oddest of them all – a rather appreciative review of a Jewish libertarian by an anti-semitic white nationalist. We can hope for these people to read much more by Ayn Rand, and something by Rothbard and von Mises and all the others. They might learn something containing more truth than the works of Kevin MacDonald. In the meantime, this is odd to the point of eccentricity!

by Trevor Lynch

I saw Atlas Shrugged on Saturday, April 16th. It was a sold-out showing to an all-White audience in a predominantly White area. The audience contained a large contingent of Tea Party people, mostly Christian, as well as libertarians and Objectivists. There was geeky anti-government banter as we waited for the movie to begin. There was applause after the movie ended, but I did not join in. In fact, I found this to be a deeply disappointing adaptation of the first third of Ayn Rand’s epic novel about the role of reason in human existence and what would happen if the rational and productive people—the Atlases that carry the world on their shoulders—were to shrug off their burden and go on strike.

Atlas Shrugged could be a spectacular movie. It is certainly a spectacular novel, although not a perfect one, primarily because it is deformed by the grotesque excess of Galt’s Speech, 60 odd pages in which the novel’s hero John Galt explains Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. But I have to hand it to Rand, because at least for me, she managed to make even Galt’s Speech a page-turner. In truth, although I reject Rand’s individualism and capitalism and would not have lasted five minutes in her presence, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most audacious and enthralling novels I have ever read—and I have read most of the classics—and even it does not equal Rand’s earlier novel The Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged is the greatest mystery novel of all, for it is about what makes civilizations rise and fall. It is the greatest adventure of all, for it tells the story of a man who stopped the world.

Although Rand opposed racial nationalism on philosophical grounds (with a sentimental exception for Zionism, of course), there is still much of value in her novels for racial nationalists. Rand started out as a Nietzschean, and her novels offer powerful defenses of aristocracy and critiques of egalitarianism, democracy, mass man, and mass society. All these elements are in tension with her later philosophy of reason, individualism, and capitalism. Indeed, Rand felt the need to reframe, revise, or simply suppress her earlier, more Nietzschean writings. But the “sense of life” of her novels is so in keeping with the spirit of fascism that her first novel We The Living was made into a movie under Mussolini, a fact that Rand later obfuscated with tall tales and a revised version of the novel. (The Italian We the Living, by the way, remains the only good film adaptation of a Rand novel.)

The Fountainhead can be read profitably alongside The Culture of Critique, for it effectively dramatizes the techniques of Jewish subversion of American society. Rand’s villain Ellsworth Toohey sums up his game as playing the stock market of the spirit—and selling short, meaning profiting from the decline of our values, which pretty much sums up the rise of American Jewry to the top of our society on a tide of smut, decadence, degeneracy, lobbying, swindling, pop culture, and casino capitalism.

Rand, of course, never saw it that way, and Rand’s own movement Objectivism is just as much a Jewish intellectual movement as the Frankfurt School. Although they use very different arguments, they function to produce the same result: a radical individualism that renders cohesive ethnic groups like Jews invisible to the majority, which maximizes their collective security and upward mobility, since cohesive collectives have a systematic advantage in competing with isolated individuals. (Rand called the mostly-Jewish inner circle of her movement “the collective.” It is supposed to be a joke, but the joke may be deeper than most people imagine.)

Atlas Shrugged, moreover, lends itself to a racial interpretation. Atlas Shrugged is about how a creative and productive minority is exploited by an inferior majority because of the acceptance of a false moral code (altruism) that beatifies the weak and pegs the worth of the strong to how well they serve their inferiors. When one asks “What is the race of Atlas?” it all falls into place. The Atlas that upholds the modern world is the White race, which is being enslaved and destroyed by the acceptance of a false moral code (racial altruism) that teaches that non-Whites fail to meet White standards only because of White wickedness, and that Whites can only expiate this racial guilt by giving their wealth and power and societies to non-Whites.

Altruism is ultimately nihilism, since when the inferior finally cripple and destroy their superiors, they will perish too. But such consequences don’t matter to locusts, parasites, and people in the grip of false values. The only thing that will save us all is a moral revolution, a new form of egoism, although I part ways from Rand on the nature of this revolution, since she is an individualist and I am a racial collectivist. Rand thinks that the individual is more important than the group, which is what you would expect of a childless woman who lived largely in her head.

Rand’s aesthetic is deeply fascist—and Socialist Realist—with its emphasis on man’s heroic transformation of nature through science, technology, and industry. Rand also had a taste for Nordic types. All of her heroes are tall, lean Nordics. Rand, born Alissa Rosenbaum, was not.

Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart, Vice-President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental

The Atlas Shrugged movie is poorly cast. In terms of looks, the best choices are Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart, Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden, and Rebecca Wisocky as Lillian Readen. John Polito, the Italian gangster in Miller’s Crossing (“It’s about ethics . . .”), was a good choice for Orren Boyle. Michael Lerner looks great for the role of Wesley Mouch, but his personality is a bit too forceful. Matthew Marsden as James Taggart is too handsome for the part, but he makes it his own.

The worst choices are Edi Gathegi, a Black actor, for the Nordic Eddie Willers (the same actor displaced another White actor for the character of Laurent in the Twilight movies), and Jsu Garcia (couldn’t they afford a whole Jesus?), who looks like a debauched mestizo, for the blue-eyed descendant of Castile Francisco d’Anconia. The actors cast as Hugh Akston and Dr. Robert Stadler are both too young for their parts, and Stadler looks Middle Eastern and speaks with a heavy accent!

As for the acting, it is pretty much undistinguished throughout: strictly

Edi Gathegi (right) as Eddie Willers (with Matthew Marden as James Taggart and Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart)

soap opera grade. The best-realized roles are James Taggart and Lillian Rearden. Eddie Willers is an embarrassment. A wooden Indian would have been just as expressive and — more importantly from the producers’ point of view — even cheaper and just as politically correct. Or is there a message in casting a Black man to play a character who is essentially a faithful mediocre sidekick?

As for the script, it is shockingly pedestrian. Rand gives us an abundance of eloquent dialogue, but almost none of it is used. It soon becomes apparent why: whenever a bit of it slips in, the actors sound as wooden as Gary Cooper in King Vidor’s 1949 movie of The Fountainhead, meaning that they don’t have the brains to understand the dialogue or the skill to sell it. Rand’s dialogue is not naturalistic, but if an actor can sell Shakespeare, he can sell Ayn Rand. Tolkein’s dialogue is certainly not naturalistic, but it was faithfully adapted and beautifully delivered in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But given a cast of blockheads and Brooks Brothers models who read from teleprompters, we could not have Francisco d’Anconia’s money speech. We could only have colloquial naturalism with vulgarities like “crap” and “bullshit” thrown in. I suppose we should be grateful that we were not told that Galt’s motor was “awesome” and the Equalization of Opportunity Act “sucked.” (I wonder if the script contained emoticons. Maybe the performances would have been improved.)

Tamara de Lempicka, Self Portrait

The whole look of this movie is wrong. Visually it is astonishingly flat, dull, and unimaginative. Rand’s novel requires a Brazil look: Art Deco in a vague “future”: hair and wardrobe by Tamara de Lempicka, interiors by Edward Hopper, industrial scenes from Thomas Hart Benton, casting by Arno Breker (although the men would need to be less beefy), sets by Frank Lloyd Wright, all directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Of course that would have cost money, but the real poverty in this film is of imagination and taste. Instead, we get a film set in the near future (2016 and 2017) that feels the need to explain the prominence of rail transport with an energy crisis.

The greatest aesthetic flaw of this film is the contrasting treatment of nature and industry. A film of Atlas Shrugged should glorify and aestheticize human achievement, especially heavy industry, and there is plenty of fascist, National Socialist, Socialist Realist, and New Deal art that they could have drawn upon to do this (but of course that would be “politically incorrect” from an Objectivist point of view). But instead, we have only pedestrian low angle shots of rail yards full of box cars — which might actually have been visually captivating if simply viewed from the air. The scenes of the Readen factory and the building of the John Galt Line offered many opportunities for visual splendor and dynamism, but they are pedestrian at best. The best sequence is the first run of the John Galt Line, one of Ayn Rand’s most brilliant feats of description. (This was the only scene in which I even noticed the music.) But even here the movie pales by comparison to the printed page. I was left wondering: Did the director even read this book?

Thomas Hart Benton, “Coal”

The inept handling of industry is underscored by the intrusion of nature photography. Ayn Rand looked at nature as merely the raw material and backdrop of human achievement. But in the movie of Atlas Shrugged, the most beautiful scenes are of mountains and prairies. During the first run of the John Galt line, Dagny Taggart and Hank Readen’s achievements are dwarfed by the beauty of the landscape. The focus should have been on the train, the rails, the rising throb of the engines, the telephone poles rushing by faster and faster, as a vast streamlined art deco engine shot like a bullet toward the gossamer arc of the great bridge of Rearden metal. The spectacular Rocky Mountain landscape and sky should have been hidden by a drop cloth of clouds, fog, and rain.

Edward Hopper, “New York Office”

The treatment of sex in this film is also objectionable. When Lillian Rearden asks her husband “Through are you?” as he rolls off her, there was a gasp in the theater. (James Kirkpatrick reported the same thing in his brilliant review at Alternative Right.) Talking to Tea Partiers afterward, I discovered that the gasp was due to their strongly Christian orientation. Apparently it struck them not as vicious and condescending, but simply as pretty racy stuff. Later, when Hank Rearden began his affair with Dagny Taggart, there was a less audible but still real reaction in the audience, for the same reason. The only real criticism the Christian Tea Partiers had was that the movie portrayed an extramarital affair in a positive light.

The affair is, by the way, significantly altered from the book. In the book Hank Rearden is profoundly conflicted about his attraction to Dagny, which he attributes to mere animal lust which tempts him to violate his wedding vows, which he treats as a matter of honor, even though his marriage is a loveless hell. When he finally gives in to temptation, it is one of Ayn Rand’s famous “rape” scenes. In the movie, after the running of the John Galt Line, Rearden in effect says, “Here we are, at the moment of our greatest triumph, and all I want to do is kiss you.” Dagny coyly replies, “Why don’t you then?” Cut to a tender lovemaking montage. (I could not help but think of Rand’s own parody “Sorry baby, I can’t take you to the pizza joint tonight, I have to go back to the science lab and split the atom.”) Is moral conflict and rough, passionate sex just too politically incorrect these days? Again, what were the filmmakers thinking?

Why was Atlas Shrugged made on the cheap? Apparently the producers could not come up with a script or a concept good enough to raise the money and attract the talent to do a first rate movie, and since their option was expiring, they decided to do a second rate movie instead (and managed to pull off a fourth rate one). This level of cynicism is frankly breath-taking. One has to ask: Is this how Howard Roark would have made a movie? (If this film accomplishes one thing, it will make us appreciate the 1949 movie of The Fountainhead more.)

From now on this should be referred to as director Paul Johansson’s Atlas Shrugged, for it is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in name only. (Johansson turns out to be every bit the director that one would expect of a soap opera hunk.) It is merely an exercise in masochism to wonder how a visionary director of epics like Zack Snyder or Peter Jackson or Oliver Stone would have brought Atlas Shrugged to the screen, because we will never know. Vidor’s The Fountainhead was bad enough that more than 60 years later, we are still without a decent film of one of the greatest American novels of the 2Oth-century. Which means that there will never be a decent movie of Atlas Shrugged in my lifetime, thanks to the selfish mediocre bastards behind this cinematic abortion.

Review of The Atlas Shrugged Film

by James Kirkpatrick

In 1994, Constantin Film had a problem. They possessed the film rights to the Fantastic Four but would lose them unless they made a movie right away. They also did not have the budget necessary to create the kind of film required.

This was the solution:

The director and actors were paid low salaries and told that if the movie was not released to theaters, it would at least be used as a pilot for a television series. The producers were lying—they had no intention of releasing the movie. However, this cinematic abortion allowed them to hold onto the filming rights.

In 2005, Constantin Film made another Fantastic Four movie, this one starring Jessica Alba. It had a budget of $100 million dollars. Needless to say, the special effects were a bit more sophisticated.

The difference between 1994’s Fantastic Four and Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 is that they released this one in theaters.

A film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged has been discussed for years with stars such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, and Robert Redford all expressing interest at one time or another. Instead, we have a “cast of future stars” in a low budget production rushed out so the current company holding the rights could take advantage of it. I attended an early screening of the movie with a host of Beltway Right libertarians and conservatives. We received free tickets and (contrary to the message of the movie) free popcorn and drinks. The marketing and distribution of the film seem designed to turn it into a hipster libertarian version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of course, given the realities of filmmaking and “development hell,” it’s amazing someone even made it all.

Ayn Rand’s magnum opus had the working title of The Strike. It tells the story of what happens when those who move the world, the producers and captains of industry, are pushed too far. The story begins with Midas Mulligan watching annoying liberals prattle on television with their usual clichés. As he steps outside, a mysterious figure in a film noir trench coat and hat approaches and tells him that he knows what it’s like “to work for himself and not let others feed off the profits of his energy.” Here, such a line does not merit so much as a cocked eyebrow, and Midas Mulligan vanishes with the stranger. He is not the last. The heroine of the story, Dagny Taggart, attempts to keep her transcontinental railroad afloat in these chaotic circumstances as her friends and allies seemingly abandon her one by one. As the country sinks into the abyss, one useless question is raised again and again, “Who is John Galt?”

The book was written in 1957 and reflects its time. All of the heroes are titans of industry that are actually industries. Dagny Taggart runs a railroad. Hank Rearden, who develops a compound lighter and more powerful than steel called Rearden Metal, runs a series of mills. The charismatic Francisco D’Anconia is the scion of a mining empire. Ellis Wyatt develops new ways of exploiting oil reserves. The “producers” actually produce things. As this doesn’t exactly fit with our contemporary economy, the story engages in some creative alternative history. It posits a crippling economic recession (check) in which fuel prices skyrocket (check), thus making air travel untenable (the TSA might take care of that first). Railroads thus become the lifeline of the country. The opening scenes consist of protests calling for more welfare and shots of urban decay. (Interestingly, some of the signs in the socialist protests at the beginning mention Martin Luther King Jr. Sadly, when the inevitable accusations of racism come, I’m half expecting an explanation that MLK was not only a pro-capitalist Republican, but a libertarian and an Objectivist.)

As even a third of Atlas Shrugged is too much to film, the movie focuses on three main subplots. First, there are the technical struggles by Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden to save their businesses and the country. The most important is Dagny’s attempt to save her railroad by replacing part of the line with Rearden Metal. This will allow her to serve the new oil fields opened up by Ellis Wyatt, which the country needs to survive. Her sniveling socialist brother and cowardly Board of Directors bow to hostile public opinion and government officials and refuse to let her do it. In response, she forms the John Galt Line to build the line independently. The journey of the train on the John Galt Line made of the supposedly unsafe Rearden Metal is Taggart’s and Rearden’s greatest triumph. Easily the highlight of the film, the movie captures their exhilaration in a thrilling sequence as the train rockets over the countryside on the silver-blue rails of Rearden Metal. The shot of a bullet train roaring over an impossibly small Rearden Metal bridge over a huge chasm is an especially striking visual.

The movie also touches on the mystery of a partially constructed motor they discover in the wreck of an abandoned auto factory. The motor could create power from the atmosphere itself, solving the energy crisis at a stroke, but they can’t complete it themselves. In the book, this is a kind of detective story where Dagny and Hank interview one person after another who had a past with the factory. Rand is at her peak here, drawing devastating character sketches of wealthy socialists who preached brotherhood and universal love and left only destruction in their wake. Here, simply because of time, the movie essentially skims over the mystery of why the motor was abandoned and the factories failed, robbing the episode of much of its force.

The second subplot is the gradual escalation of socialism within Washington DC. One of the greatest joys of Rand’s books is her stunningly vitriolic portrait of parlor room socialists and trendy intellectuals. Michael Lerner (the actor, not the socialist rabbi) is the only actor that will you will recognize in the movie and he captures the grubby mannerisms, bloated appearance, and squinty eyed scheming that you would associate with lobbyists and bureaucrats. However, the movie fails to capture the general feel of the cocktail parties and closed door meetings that Rand managed to convey, that mysterious progressive mind meld of uniform viewpoints on politics, aesthetics, and culture that Joe Sobran termed “The Hive.”

Instead, the movie downplays the philosophical and cultural motivations of the socialists and presents them simply as materialistic schemers, which undermines Rand’s larger point about the roots of accomplishment and productivity on one hand and altruism and failure on the other.

The final subplot is the affair between Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart. Rebecca Wisocky as Hank’s wife, Lilian Rearden, perfectly captures the passive-aggressive master manipulator that Rand portrayed. (.) It is impossible not to sympathize with Hank Rearden, who is stuck in a loveless marriage to a younger version of Livia Soprano. In one brutal scene, Rearden expends his lust on his wife, who contemptuously smirks “done then?” after he finishes. The audience groaned and gasped as if someone dropped the n-word at the dinner table.

Still, the movie distorts, and really destroys, the motivation behind Rearden and Dagny’s affair. If Rand’s novel has one fundamental idea, it is that the moral choices of a person’s private life and public life lead to the same kinds of consequences. This is the real internal conflict within Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart, who are actually the true enemies of John Galt throughout most of the book. Their lack of understanding and their willingness to live and produce for the “looters” needlessly prolongs the suffering of the world. Crucially, Rand also believed there was a connection between private behavior (especially sex) and one’s deepest held values, which is why her ideal man could never fall for a chorus girl, but only a heroine. The movie ignores this completely and manages to strip away the emotional complexity of characters in an Ayn Rand novel—which is no mean feat.

Hank Rearden, for example, is actually a very complex character. He is a successful businessman, but he accepts the premises of altruism for both public morality and private behavior. He doesn’t know how to resist the spirit of socialism in the wider world and he remains faithful to a wife who doesn’t love him and actually seeks to destroy him. Despite this, out of a sense of duty, he resists his temptation to Dagny. When they do come together, it is tortured and painful for Rearden. He is filled with contempt for Dagny for succumbing to what he sees as a base desire. He also hates himself for betraying his marriage vows, even if his wife seemingly hates him. He is at war with himself for most of the book until he realizes that sex with Dagny is a symbol of his deepest held values and a celebration of the best in him. Perhaps this theory is insane—one wit has joked that Rand’s idea of sexual bliss was being raped on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange. Nonetheless, this is her idea and one critical to the themes of her novel.

Instead, in the movie, Dagny and Hank come together with a wildly unnecessary preface of “should I kiss you” type dialogue straight out of Dawson’s Creek. Then they joke easily and guiltlessly about having an affair the next day. While satisfying for libertines, this defeats the whole function of the affair in the story by removing the conflict and making it meaningless sex. They might as well have cut out the whole thing.

The character of Francisco d’Anconia is similarly rendered pointless. In the book, he is a Latin aristocrat of noble blood (with blue eyes, following Rand’s usual Nordicist pattern) whose staggering intelligence, wealth, and promise is seemingly thrown away when he becomes a playboy and the life of every party. He is also the first love of Dagny Taggart and breaks her heart when he turns into a rake. In the movie, rather than a dashing Latin lover, Francisco looks more like a pool boy who just climbed out of the water. The guests at the cocktail parties look at him when he enters, but I imagine it is not out of excitement but bewilderment at why the help is drinking with the rich people. Lacking charisma, charm or even the elementary character development or backstory that Rand provided, the audience can be forgiven for wondering who the hell this guy is or why we should care. With the screenplay he was given to work with, the poor actor playing him was probably wondering the same thing. (And no, is not in the movie.)

The movie also casually dismantles the whole reason for his existence. In the book, Francisco undertakes the greatest sacrifice of any of the characters, giving up any chance of being with Dagny in order to help John Galt save the world. He is ruthless to Dagny, telling her to her face that she is the real enemy of the things she claims to value and that the best thing she could do is let her railroad die rather than let looters have it. He deeply wounds the woman he loves for years and can’t even explain why because he knows Dagny’s suffering is necessary as long as she fails to come to his conclusions herself. In the movie, when Dagny Taggart comes to him to beg for money for the John Galt Line, Francisco mutters meekly that he has none available. Of course, he’s lying because he doesn’t want to have to say the truth to her face. A small point perhaps, but given that Francisco destroyed his business, his reputation, and the relationship with the love of his life for the sake of that trifle, it’s probably not too much to ask for the movie not to casually throw it away.

Another key character, Eddie Willard, (blond haired and blue eyed in the book, the token Lando Calrissian here) represents the competent but not extraordinary man. In the book, he secretly loves Dagny, talks about his fears with John Galt, and essentially loses everything at the end of the novel, the only “good guy” who suffers a completely tragic fate. Here, he is simply another nonentity, who chatters Dagny’s orders into his Bluetooth.

If Rand’s novels have been accused of having characters that simply serve as empty vessels for ideas, the movie has stripped away even the ideas from the main characters, giving us no reason to care about these people.

The movie also strips away what was truly original and subversive in Rand’s vision. Rather than a savage critique of egalitarianism and the proud worship of hierarchy, beauty, and excellence, not just in politics but in humanity, it gives us vague policy prescriptions and laugh lines for the libertarian crowd. When Rearden crumples up a request for communication from a union and throws it in the trash, the crowd cheered. (In the book of course, the longtime head of the union for Rearden’s workers helps him.) Rather than presenting a certain “sense of life,” as Rand suggested, it basically tells us to donate to the CATO Institute and read Reason.

This is what the backers of the film intend and it will succeed on this front, despite the low production values. If Starz made a miniseries about the life of Ernst Jünger, or the Science Fiction Channel suddenly decided to buy the rights to Alex Kurtagic’s upcoming Antarktos, certainly it would have a huge impact. Here, Atlas Shrugged will be instantly plugged into a far larger network than anything available to radical traditionalists. Libertarian think tanks, student groups, Tea Party groups, and free market discussion forums will all be telling their members to see it on its release date (April 15 – get it?). Once released, safe and snug and protected from any of the subversive implications of Rand’s thought and with issues of sociobiology, culture, and identity easily abstracted away to nonexistence, the movie will do quite well and live on as a cult classic regardless of its limited theatrical release.

The problem is that the real world policy prescriptions of those promoting the movie don’t fit with Rand’s vision. The kinds of places that could develop the motor that draws its energy from the atmosphere no longer exist, as Bell Labs and other private research laboratories have fallen from glory and institutions like DARPA don’t exactly fit with the Galt’s Gulch mentality. Insofar as the American economy has a future, it seems to be based on manipulation of debt by the elite, litigation by the middle class, and selling ringtones among the lower class, with the occasional brilliant entrepreneur starting a website so we can more easily discuss Rihanna. The American economy of factories, steel, oil, mining, and railroads does not seem to be a priority of the libertarian or conservative movements. In fact, the Beltway Right has been a critical component of the effort to outsource America’s industrial capability as well as bringing in Third World peasants to scoop up whatever jobs are left.

Even the promotional literature distributed by the makers of the movie doesn’t really reflect reality. It says, “What would happen if our producers disappear—Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, and other industrialists fall off the radar… their creative genius no longer powering America?” Of course, there are two problems here. One is titans of industry at the time Rand wrote her book were actual titans of industry that conquered nature and created new things. Today, fortunes are made on the Internet, which essentially lets us consume more efficiently or “create” things that only exist online. The second problem is that the titans of industry listed here are progressives. The last time the titans of industry were right wing was probably sometime in the 19th century when huge industries were built behind a protective tariff (which libertarians hate) and corporations were headed by men like Henry Ford, General Robert E. Wood of Sears-Roebeck, H. Smith Richardson and the like who would support things like the America First Committee and other right-wing initiatives.

In contrast, Sergey Brin and his company overwhelmingly support progressive Democrats. The site also censors right-leaning web results and collaborates with the web censorship of the Chinese government, suggesting no real ideological commitment to free speech, although a definite commitment to political correctness. Steve Jobs, meanwhile, proposed Al Gore for President in 2007. He has donated over $250,000 to political causes between 1990 and 2010—all of which were Democratic. If Galt’s Gulch were real, presumably it would look something like Berkeley, and Rand would be on trial for hate speech because she doesn’t have any Black capitalists in her books. As far as other young and famous capitalist icons go, the obvious one that comes to mind is Mark Zuckerburg, inventor of Facebook. Zuckerbuerg recently donated $100 million dollars to the public schools of Newark, NJ, on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” If the Aryan capitalist Viking Ragnar Danneskjold liberated Mark Zuckerberg’s donations, Zuckerburg would just send more. The moral code of the corporate elite of this country and the capitalist pinups Rand’s fanboys want us to fight for are promoting the exact kinds of altruism and victim worship that Rand despised. If the kinds of “producers” identified here went “John Galt,” the only things that would change would be the decline in Democratic donations.

The movie culminates with the government passing a crushing regulatory law that cripples Ellis Wyatt. In response, he abandons his oil fields and sets them aflame. As Dagny Taggart reaches the hellish firestorm that is left, she unleashes a classic B-movie cry of denial worthy of . The message of Atlas Shrugged was turned into something just as clichéd and predictable. It has been scrubbed, sanitized, and made ready for your next “Students for Liberty” meeting so you can encourage more people to vote for the likes of Gary Johnson.

Rand’s vision, whatever else one thinks of it, was unique. It transcended itself and contained implications that went beyond Rand’s actual policy positions and philosophy. Despite its flaws, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most forthright defenses of the aristocratic principle ever penned. It’s also a profound critique of the phony economy of banker and government manipulation and paean to an economy of production. In this film, it has been transformed into a call to let the likes of George Soros and Warren Buffett pay fewer taxes, despite their own wishes, and to turn this holy cause into the rallying point of the conservative movement. Unfortunately, I have no doubt the film will accomplish its purpose.

Shutting down English civilisation

Michael Winning

It’s pigging season again, also getting the stored manure off to people who’d like it, so been busy. More nails in the coffin of ordinary social civilisation in this poor country, described by Legiron, who I try toread every day but have missed some.

International Crime Syndicate Targets Libya

by David D’Amato

On Wednesday (April 13), reports BBC News, “[a]n international summit on Libya [began] in Qatar, with delegates being told there is a ‘race against time’ to help Libyan civilians.” Comprising representatives from, among others, the United Nations, the European Union, and Nato, the summit promises to devise a plan for progress toward “peace-building” and “a democratic Libya.”

Though we are apparently meant to believe that the interests of the new “contact group” on Libya are limited to preventing further bloodshed, there are good reasons to believe other considerations underlie its meddlesome plans. Under the mantra of allowing Libyans to “develop their resources” and at last depart from the “internationally isolated” policies of the Qaddafi era, imperialism takes on a quality of sensibleness.

It is, after all, difficult to oppose to political and military intrusion when it is couched in the language of justice, progress and genuine self-rule for the people of Libya. And for opportunistic Western powers — under the de facto leadership of the United States — Libya represents one great pie, the pieces of which are to be allotted according to the rules of faux “free trade.”

One can be sure that, whenever world “leaders” convene to negotiate “solutions” to the problems facing ordinary, working people, the outcome will mean the imposition of faceless hierarchies designed to serve ruling class interests. When disturbances in places like Libya become a global focal point, the aim is to bring those places into alignment with the international order of state capitalism, as established by organizations like the World Bank.

In the same way that domestic welfare organizations — though appearing as charitable — are actually meant to mitigate the damages of state capitalism, governments’ “investments” in places like Libya are anything but altruistic. “Humanitarian intervention” is nothing but a calculated effort to lay the groundwork for legalized plunder.

So when, as the BBC story notes, “French and British foreign ministers [say] Nato should be doing more in Libya,” “peace-building” for the people of the country ends up looking like a thin veil for a new colonialism. Though there may not be an East India Company today, the corporate giants of neoliberal “free enterprise” are no less endowed with the functional equivalent of a Royal Charter. The world’s governing classes, constantly in search of new outlets for state capitalist investment, have seized on Libya because it serves their interests, not out of solidarity with rebels.

As the ideological successor of the League of Nations, founded on the idea, in the description of Ludwig von Mises, that some populations are “not qualified for independence,” the United Nations is designed to make empire palatable. In light of the their history where self-determination is concerned, the interest of international bodies like the UN in the “establishment of a temporary financial mechanism” is to be regarded with some skepticism. The flow of cash in Libya will likely turn out to do much for giving Big Business a foothold in the country and little for opposition autonomy in the new Libya.

The “aggressive origin and nature of the state,” advises Mark R. Crovelli, “ought to play a critical role in our moral evaluation of state humanitarian interventions.” Certainly some state are less overtly tyrannous than others, but we have no reason to believe that the crime syndicate known as the Libya “contact group” is excepted from all of the motivations that drive every state, every group of elites wielding political power.

As long as coercion rather than genuine, free market competition provides the means to wealth, the incentives for empire — for “humanitarian intervention” — will shape the world according to the wishes of dominant state actors. By resolving to make free exchange and cooperation the standard for human interaction, individuals can deracinate the state and with it its pursuit of new colonies. Libyans should see the writing on the wall, running from the “help” of the international community as fast as they can.

‘Charge every would-be migrant £30k to settle in Britain’, says Nobel Prize-winning economist

‘Charge every would-be migrant £30k to settle in Britain’, says Nobel Prize-winning economist

Britain could slash its immigration levels by charging every would-be migrant £30,000 to settle in the country, a Nobel prize-winning economist has said.

Full article here:

Libya: A Pig in a Poke?

by Kevin Carson

Some disconcerting facts, or at least disconcerting questions, are beginning to emerge regarding Obama’s Libyan intervention.

First of all, the Asia Times reported on April 2 (“Exposed: The U.S.-Saudi Libya Deal“) that Saudi Arabia engineered an Arab League voting bloc to approve the American intervention in Libya, in return for Obama’s giving the Saudis a free hand to intervene in Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement — so troubling to the conservative monarchies of the Gulf — in that country.

Contrary to the myth that the Arab League endorsed Obama’s intervention, half of its members abstained. The members that did vote for it were disproportionately in Saudi Arabia’s sphere of influence. Obama got the vote he wanted because the Saudis called their chits in.

So while CNN shows all those smiling people flashing their V-for-Victory signs in Benghazi, the king of Bahrain is using a state of martial law to suppress the pro-democracy protests, with the help of 2,000 Saudi troops. No tear-jerking CNN reports there, and no highly visible State Department denunciations. Know why? Because Bahrain is a friendly government, and the anti-government movement is largely Shia in an area where Iran is viewed as the major “threat” to be contained.

In Noam Chomsky’s terminology, the Bahraini demonstrators aren’t “worthy victims.” They aren’t being crushed by a radical pariah state that’s run afoul of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Rather, they’re an inconvenience to a government that knows how to play ball with Washington. So they’re expendable.

Maybe this is the kind of thing White House flack Robert Gibbs was talking about when he said Wikileaks undermined U.S. efforts at “promoting democracy and open government.”

Second, Thomas Mountain at Counterpunch (“Bombing Libya,” March 23) raises some unpleasant questions about the Benghazi rebels. Benghazi, the city in Libya closest to Italy, has for years been a center of human trafficking from sub-Saharan Africa. An average of a thousand black African refugees a day pass through Benghazi in hopes of escaping to Europe. So Benghazi was the seat of an enormous complex of gangs controlling the human trafficking trade, many of them exploiting their human cargo as ruthlessly as the “coyotes” on the U.S.-Mexican border. The Quaddafi government, according to Mountain, had been unsuccessfully trying to suppress this trade for years. As a result, the criminal underworld of Benghazi has been a prime supporter of the rebellion.

Benghazi is also home to a large number of black African guest workers who do work that Libyans regard as “dirty.” Native youth, who refuse to take these jobs, are frequently unemployed and idle. So they wind up joining youth gangs that engage in racist harrassment of black African guest workers. These discontented youth were at the heart of the protest movement.

This raises some interesting questions about the reported massacre of black Africans by Benghazi militia — supposedly because black Africans were recruited as mercenaries by Quaddafi — doesn’t it? I don’t know if Thomas Mountain’s account is correct. But at least it should make us think twice when we hear the talking heads like Ed Schultz on MSNBC referring to Libyan “freedom fighters.”

So once again, the lesson is: Always look for the man behind the curtain.

Sean Gabb Speech in Brussels

Affirmative Action Forever

by Denis Mangan

Affirmative action is the Orwellian name given to efforts to hire, admit, or otherwise promote people of certain racial or ethnic groups, merely because they belong to those groups. The name of this game derives from the notion that it actively helps people, i.e. it is “affirmative”, rather than harming people who belong to excluded groups. In the second edition of The Affirmative Action Hoax: Diversity, Character, and Other Lies (2010), Steven Farron traces the history, the excuses, the lies, and the deceit behind this form of racial discrimination.

The origins of the policy known as affirmative action (hereafter “AA”) lie in the Kennedy Administration, when incipient concern for the civil rights of Black Americans caused many in power to notice that Blacks were underrepresented in the universities, the professions, and in government. To most of them, inequality of outcome was de facto evidence of “discrimination”; there could be no inequality of ability or intelligence between races. In Daniel Moynihan’s famous report, The Negro Family: A Case for National Action (1965), he wrote, “There is absolutely no question of any genetic differential: Intelligence potential is distributed among Negro infants in the same proportion and pattern as among Icelanders or Chinese or any other group.”

Yet affirmative action, as a policy if not a name, goes back further, and most definitely was motivated by the recognition that at least one group in particular possessed greater intelligence and ability to succeed in academia and in life. That group was the Jews. In the early years of the 20th century, Jewish admissions to elite universities rose greatly. By 1919, 40 percent of Columbia’s students were Jewish, and for university administrators who wanted their institutions to retain their character, “radical steps had to be taken.” And here lies the origin of non-academic criteria for admission to a university, in other words the doctrine of “diversity.” At this point, university admissions bureaucracies began their cancerous growth, since while it was a simple matter to screen students based on academic merit, it was not so simple to admit students seemingly on qualities like “leadership” or “character,” when in reality one wanted only to keep out a disfavored group.

Current AA policy relies on defining favored groups, and Farron ably dissects the absurdities of this practice. For instance, “Black” denotes anyone with at least one Black ancestor, and furthermore, bureaucrats are not allowed to override the self-description of any candidate for hiring, promotion, or admission. In other words, someone who says that he’s Black (or Hispanic, etc.) must be taken at face value, no matter how absurd it seems. “Hispanic” was so defined as to exclude anyone with origins in Brazil, yet fully White Argentinians and Uruguyans fall into this category. Financial success is no impediment to becoming a recipient of AA either; a Black millionaire is eligible for preference over a poor White, and in fact most AA benefits go to the middle and upper middle class. It will not have escaped notice that while AA was meant to benefit victims of historical discrimination, not only have most Blacks alive today not experienced it–especially so when they come from the middle class– but Hispanics have never been subject to slavery or Jim Crow, and have not even been a major presence in the U.S. until recently.

AA also gave rise to the notion of “diversity.” When the Supreme Court outlawed racial favoritism in the Bakke case, it left an opening for “diversity”; that is, if an institution claimed that it needed a certain racial/ethnic mix, it could be allowed to favor certain groups. This is why we are constantly prodded to “celebrate diversity,” why we are always told that it’s such an important value; it’s the only means by which the AA bureaucracy, which by now numbers in the hundreds of thousands, can stay in power. And Farron shows the illogicality behind the favored term; for example, some institutions claim that a certain critical number of, say, Black students are needed for these students to perform well. Yet other groups, say, American Indians, are normally admitted more or less according to their proportion in the population (in their case in the low single digits). Thus a group like this will never have the alleged critical number needed for them to perform well, which was the whole basis of group discrimination in the first place.

Where Farron really shines in this book is in his exposition of the reality of AA. A century of psychometrics has demonstrated both the high degree of heritability of intelligence as well as the disparities in IQ among racial groups. Since most of AA is aimed at positions for which intelligence is the most important element in performance, and since favored groups, notably Blacks and Hispanics, have been shown to have lower average IQ than Whites and Asians, AA must be continued forever, as these groups will simply never attain representation in demanding positions proportional to their fraction of the population as a whole.

The AA establishment, which by now includes virtually everyone in government and education and human resources departments, probably knows this, which is why it keeps coming up with rationalizations for the continuance of AA. Diversity was one of these; another is that AA only advantages those who are as well qualified as White candidates, and/or that the AA advantage is a small one. Both are wholly false. In a discussion of so-called “legacy” admissions, which have been constantly cited by AA proponents as an example of unfairness, Farron notes that at Harvard, the average legatee had only a trivially smaller SAT score (13 points less) than the average admitted student; at the University of Virginia, being a legatee gave a student a four times greater chance of acceptance than a student with an equal SAT score. Being black increased the chance of admission by 111 times. Universities and businesses fall over themselves in attempting to attract minority students, no matter how unqualified; Farron mentions the case of a black student with an SAT score of 1000 who was accepted at Harvard, Yale, Brown, and five other colleges, while White or Asian students with scores around 1500 and excellent extra-curricular credentials are being turned down.

Minority students also appear to be the greatest recipients of financial aid and scholarships, on the grounds that these highly desirable minority students must not decline admission due to lack of funds, even though most of them already come from relatively prosperous families.

As in other distortions and lies concerning the reality of human biodiversity, the media actively obfuscates the extent to which AA has come to pervade every aspect of public life, as well the cost to Whites and the dismal effect on everyone when manifestly incompetent people are promoted and hired on little other basis than their race. Farron has a fascinating section on Colin Powell, whose example was used by President Clinton as an AA success story. Not only is Powell a descendant of West Indian immigrants, and therefore neither he nor his family have ever been victims of legal discrimination, but virtually every member of his extended family have been the recipients of massive benefits from AA. Powell himself appears to have been promoted well beyond his competence; in fact, a White officer who had received evaluations of the level Powell got would have been mustered out of the service.

There’s much more to Farron’s massively and meticulously documented book, in which he demolishes every AA piety that has been foisted upon the American people. It’s a depressing tale which shows how the tentacles of the AA vampire squid are now firmly wrapped around the face of the American body politic, and are unlikely to be removed.

Sean in Brussels

My speech to the Young Libertarians went very well. One of these days, my ability to stand up without prior thought and given a longish speech will fail me. Not tonight, however.

Brussels, by the way, is otherwise a most degenerate place. Though I spoke slowly and with a loud and menacing voice, the only people able to understand me in French were those who insisted on replying in English. Foreigners are often a sad disappointment. I remember how I once tried to buy a bus ticket in Poprad. After five minutes of shouting at the driver, I had the mortification of hearing a couple of Slovaks assure each other I was a “bloody Hungarian”!

Director’s Bulletin, 6th April 2011 (link)

Michael Winning

In case the Director has got hisself sidetracked by his women again, I post a link ot the Main Libertarian Alliance Site, for your l;atest bulletin.

The Evil Dr Gabb!

by Gary Sunbeam

Dear Mr “Foot-in-Mouth” Gabb, Director of the ‘Libertarian Alliance’,

Following the news report of your point-of-view in today’s Daily Telegraph front page, bulling the British Empire, U certainly lack a gift for the gab, being on the record relaxed about all three Opium wars fought by the British against the Chinese in which we successfully forced the Chinese to legalize the import of British Empire opium whilst it remained an illegal drug in the British Empire. You did it in a national newspaper which will be scanned by the Chinese Embassy, many Chinese banks’ Public Relations sections, many rich Chinese, and many Chinese students. I wouldn’t like to be you, for the rest of time, Dr Sean Gabb.

The editor of the Daily Telegraph and its owners, the Barclay Brothers in the off-shore tax haven of Brecqou, are far more to blame than you; for they needn’t have published your silly letter, since the leaders of political parties are well-known for their lack of sense.  I humbly suggest to you that you successfully pull your feet out of your mouth, either by surgery, main force, or therapy, and write a grovelling apology to as many Chinese banks, businesses, politicians, newspapers, Chinese university student unions and rich Chinese individuals as you have the brains to find….soonest.

In deepest sorrow for British creation of the opium trade with China, and for your crass stupidity, arrogance and bombast, I fee you £10,000 sterling to sort code 20-26-20 a/c 83851842. May nothing go bump in the night, near you, ever. May your car’s brakes never fail, may the aeroplane that you’re on be never hijacked, may you never be divorced, may you never be in a fight with an Irishman.

On the other hand, it’s entirely likely that you were massively misquoted by the Daily Telegraph, that you massively regret the Opium Wars, and that you’ll start a class-action suit with the above Chinese against the Daily Telegraph, its Editor, and its owners. Whatever.

From myself and from Gary Sunbeam Public Relations, I’m Yours Truly, Gary Sunbeam @ yr service; @ 40 Dartmouth Road, Chorlton, Manchester,  M21 8XJ, UK. ☏: (44) 0161 881 2716 . email:  . 

PS I am the author of the by-no-means-rubbish web cookbook . I bid you to notice it for nourishment….which you are going to need a lot of, bigtime; soon and always.

In Defence of the British Empire, BBC Broadcast 2011, by Sean Gabb

In Defence of the British Empire, BBC Broadcast 2011, by Sean Gabb.

Sean Gabb quoted at length in the “Daily Telegraph”

David Davis


Typically, wordpress’s add-link-java has gone down just this second, so you’ll have to copypaste it yourselves. (Oh it’s fixed now, it seems.)

Kevin Carson on The Idea Room, 04/05/11

C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson will be the guest on The Idea Room, a chat hosted by the Foundation for Economic Education. Carson’s session will be later today, April 5th, 2011 at 2PM Eastern. The topic of the chat will be “What Economic Indexes Leave Out”.

The position of minorities

This is a very good exposition of the moderate nationalist view of race and immigration. It is, I think, a view that libertarians cannot simply ignore. Are there any libertarians out there who feel up to responding to it? SIG

Robert Henderson

All our historical and contemporary experience tells us that the more homogeneous a society, the greater its stability and peace. History and our present world also tells us that the common experience of minorities everywhere is persecution. Not all the time nor with the same intensity, but sooner or a later any substantial minority which is seen as radically set apart from the majority will suffer. An uneasy peace may reign for a time, sometimes for generations, but sooner or later racial strife reappears. Ask any Jew about that.

Directly opposed to this reality, is the liberal internationalist theory of Man. Modern liberals ostensibly believe that human beings are blank sheets on which anything may be written and that the “Old Adam” in men which leads them to politically incorrect notions such as a sense of nation is simply a matter of social conditioning.

This profound misinterpretation of Man has led them to develop the pernicious doctrine of multiculturalism. In its most advanced form, this claims that a racially and culturally mixed society is positively superior to the homogenous society. Moreover, the logic of the multiculturalist is that the greater the diversity, the more desirable the society.

The misfortune of the minority

Judged by what actually happens rather than what liberals would like to happen, to be born and raised as a member of a racial or ethnic minority in any society is to be unfortunate. Even where the minority is, exceptionally, the ruling elite, as were the whites in Apartheid South Africa, the members of the minority are always psychologically insecure because they are invariably dogged by a fear that they are resented by the majority population. There is always the knowledge stuck in the back of the mind of minority members that they are outnumbered and that the majority may exert itself at any time against the minority.

Even after fifty odd years of growing liberal internationalist power in Britain, our minorities feel insecure. They know they can antagonise the majority up to a point because liberals are in power. But they also understand at some level that they must not go beyond a certain limit or the game will be up. Thus Asians riot in their own areas not white areas. They instinctively realise that if they did riot in white areas that would drive a fearful liberal elite to act against Asians to placate the indigenous population.

Minorities also fear in their heart of hearts that “multiculturalism” is a sham and will last, even as a public sentiment, only for as long as the liberal elite retain their power.

The loyalties of minority groups

The loyalty of a first generation immigrant is at best split between the receiving country and the country of origin. That is natural enough, for however willing the immigrant is to assimilate into their new society, any adult human being will bear for life the cultural imprint of his or her childhood.

The situation of the immigrant’s children and any subsequent generations is entirely different. Whereas the native population may be tolerant to a point of the immigrant’s difference, they are understandably intolerant of those born and raised in the country who nonetheless insist on remaining separate from the cultural mainstream.

All minorities are not equal

Legal definitions of nationality based on birth or residence are practically irrelevant in the context of nationality for the instinctive emotional commitment and sense of oneness, which are an essential part of a coherent nation, cannot be gained so mechanically. And that is often true even where a conscious decision to migrate has been made by a person’s parents.

A sense of national place is demonstrably not simply derived from living in a country – as Wellington said to those who insisted on calling him an Irishman, ‘If a man is born in a stable it does not make him a horse.’

The natural criterion is surely the sense a man has that he is naturally part of a nation, What is it that gives a man such a sense of place and a natural loyalty? There are, I think, three things which determine this sentiment: parental culture/national loyalty, physical race and the nature of the society into which the immigrant moves. Their relationship is not simple and, as with all human behaviour, one may speak only of tendencies rather than absolutes. Nonetheless, these tendencies are pronounced enough to allow general statements to be made.

Where an immigrant physically resembles the numerically dominant population, the likelihood is that his children will fully assume the culture and develop a natural loyalty to their birthplace. For example, the children of white immigrants to Australia and New Zealand will most probably think of themselves as Australian or New Zealanders. However, even in such a situation, the child’s full acceptance of their birthplace community will probably depend on whether his parents remain in their adopted country. If the parents return to their native land, their children, even if they have reached adulthood, often decide to follow and adopt the native national loyalty of their parents. Where a child’s parents (and hence the child) are abroad for reasons of business or public service, the child will almost always adopt the parent’s native culture and nationality as their own.

Where the immigrant is not of the same physical type as the dominant racial national group, his children will normally attach themselves to the group within the country which most closely resembles the parents in physical type and culture. Where a large immigrant population from one cultural/racial source exists in a country, for example, Jamaicans in England, the children of such immigrants will make particularly strenuous efforts to retain a separate identity, a task made easier by their physical difference from the dominant group. Where a child is the issue of a mixed race marriage he or she will tend to identify with the parent who comes from a minority group, although this tendency may be mitigated if the father is a member of the racially dominant national group.

The rational behaviour for minorities

Multiculturalism encourages behaviour in minorities utterly at odds with their long-term welfare. It combines advocacy of the behaviour which has always led to persecution of minorities, deliberate cultural separatism, with something new – the promotion of the interests of minorities over those of the majority. This is done by the passing of laws such as the Race Relations Act, and the incessant promotion of the creed of multiculturalism by politicians of all the Parliamentary parties, through Government policy in areas such as education and a general support for the idea within the mainstream media.

The pernicious general consequence of multiculturalism for minorities is that they are given grossly inflated expectations of what they should expect from society. Constantly told that they are living in a racist society, they develop a sense of being discriminated against even in circumstances where they are demonstrably favoured, for example in their considerable over-representation (in relation to their proportion of the population) in the British legal and medical professions.

The sane behaviour for any member of a minority is to recognise what everyone in their heart of hearts knows, namely, that any minority will suffer a degree of discrimination and resentment simply because that is Man’s tribal nature. Those who can achieve it have an obvious path to follow if they choose to take it: assimilate to the point where they are indistinguishable from the native population.

Where assimilation is impossible for whatever reason, the minority’s obvious best course is to keep as low a profile as possible to avoid inflaming the resentment of the majority population or the jealousy of competing minority groups in the society.

The bottom line for any member of a minority is this, he or she must judge whether the experience of being a member of a minority in a particular country is a better bargain than living in a country where he or she is in the racial and/or cultural majority. The vast majority of those from ethnic minorities who were born in Britain or who have come to Britain as immigrants vote with their feet by staying. If their experience of racial discrimination was really intolerable they would have emigrated to places such as the sub-continent. An unsurprising choice because Britain with a bit of discrimination is a vastly more attractive proposition than the Third World with its war, poverty, political turmoil and hard-core racial strife.

The problem of minorities for the majority

The mass non-European immigration since 1945 has introduced a wholly alien racial tension to Britain. To control the situation our elite has introduced laws which have no place in a free society, robbed our children of their history and cultural confidence, suppressed public outrage about immigration through their control of the mainstream media. In the process they have removed from Britain of what it had only half a century ago, namely, a sense of security in its cultural and physical territory. This pattern is repeated throughout the historic nations of Europe.


The elephant in the room that no mainstream politician will openly acknowledge is the fact that large minorities within a country ensure psychological separatism and lay the eggs for everything from racial discord to treason to hatch.

Our elite is presently desperately trying to square the circle of ensuring national cohesion and safety whilst still calling for tolerance of other cultures within our midst. The two are mutually exclusive.

Generally, elites in the West do not know what to do and veer between preaching an ever more frenzied multicultural gospel and engaging in anti-immigrant rhetoric in a hopeless raging against a poisonous situation which they have created.

If Western elites suddenly saw that their only hope of survival was to embrace homogeneity, could they, with the full power of the modern state behind them, save the situation by stopping all further mass immigration of those who are difficult or impossible to assimilate and restart the assimilation train successfully enough to mitigate the effects of the divisions their societies already suffer? I would hope it could be done but I fear that it may be too late, for the minorities have now reached a size where they cannot be meaningfully controlled in terms of loyalties and culture. They are now self-sustaining cultural entities.

Fifty years ago Britain had no race-relations problem, now it is traumatised and dominated by the consequences of post-war immigration. It is a self-inflicted wound.

The Hypocrisy at the Heart of the Police State

by Kevin Carson

Sometimes I read books so you don’t have to. And in this case I really caught a bullet for you. That’s right: I read a wretched little turd of a book, “Objection,” by Nancy Grace. You’re welcome.

This book is a fascinating glimpse into the pathological mindset of the police state’s functionaries and its apologists.

Grace ridicules those who portrary defense attorneys as Davids, fighting an unequal battle against the immense power of the state. The awsome power of the state, she writes, usually amounts to just one lil’ ol’ person, like her. She recounts one anecdote in which, as she was driving to an important trial, black oil smoke began belching from her car and then a semi truck ran over her hood pulling in front of her. The alleged power of the state, she snarks, depended on her rattle-trap car.

Well, the power of the state might be just a little broader than that. Militarized SWAT teams that kick in doors at 3AM with no-knock warrants, for non-violent offenses, toss the house to inflict maximum damage for sheer intimidation, shoot the family dog for the same reason — if they even got the right house? I’d say that’s a pretty significant encounter with the power of the state for a lot of people. Being kicked, clubbed or tasered to the point of injury or death, when you’re writhing in agony and physically incapable of resisting, just because you didn’t show proper deference to an Alpha Male — or maybe just because you were in a diabetic coma or having an epileptic seizure? That’s also a pretty dramatic exposure to the power of the state. And how about having your property seized via civil forfeiture without ever being charged you with a crime?

No doubt Grace’s role as point woman for the awesome power of the state was enhanced by evidence obtained with the help of the Incredible Shrinking Fourth Amendment, plea bargain blackmail, testimony coerced from jailhouse snitches, and warrants obtained on perjured testimony by cops.

Grace also ridicules suggestions that suppression of evidence and other ethical lapses are common among prosecutors. The very idea that prosecutors are that obsessed with their conviction records, as to stoop to — gasp! — dishonesty, is utterly laughable.

Strangely, though, in every story I’ve ever read about a convict being cleared by DNA evidence, the prosecutor fought like a rabid wolverine on PCP to suppress the evidence and prevent the case being reopened.

The book is obviously written primarily for Grace fans. The section addressed to her critics isn’t really addressed to her critics. It’s for people who are already on her side, with some vague idea that some folks don’t like her, who need just a minimum of fairly non-specific talking points to immunize them against criticism.

All the “criticisms” to which she responds are quite oblique and mostly non-specific. For example, nowhere in her defense of prosecutorial virtue does she refer to a key set of data points: her repeated censures by the Georgia bar for withholding evidence from the defense and misleading juries. It’s odd, in a section addressed to her critics, that there’s no reference to what amounts to Exhibit A for those who allege her scruples are thin enough to read a newspaper through.

Her impassioned denial that she believes in “guilty until proven innocent” rings hollow in light of her behavior during the entire Duke Lacrosse fiasco — and immediately thereafter. After the verdict and the exposure of the — ahem — crooked prosecutor, she disappeared from public view without comment. Perhaps she was, as we say in the South, “indisposed for a while.”

There’s just nothing quite like seeing someone who’s made a career out of being a bully, attempting to turn herself into a victim in the face of criticism.

But Nancy Grace doesn’t have to be especially gifted with ethics or critical thinking ability. In fact, they’d just get in the way of doing her job — a job she’s very good at.

The police state, existing as it does in a country in which the officially encouraged self-perception is still heavily influenced by the mythos of the common law and the “freeborn American,” must engage in ideological legerdemain for its own survival. That’s not to say the propaganda has to be sophisticated enough to pass serious scrutiny or convince a skeptic. It just has to be good enough to fool most of the people most of the time. The police state depends on maintaining a “silent majority” of people who — out of either ignorance, laziness or intellectual cowardice — don’t know too much about the unpleasant details of how their sausage is made and don’t really want to know.

And that the job of people like Nancy Grace who tirelessly repeat: “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.”

The Five Rules of Propaganda (as practised by AGW’s)

  • The rule of simplification: reducing all data to a simple confrontation between ‘Good and Bad’, ‘Friend and Foe’.
  • The rule of disfiguration: discrediting the opposition by crude smears and parodies.
  • The rule of transfusion: manipulating the consensus values of the target audience for one’s own ends.
  • The rule of unanimity: presenting one’s viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people: draining the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of star-performers, by social pressure, and by ‘psychological contagion’.
  • The rule of orchestration: endlessly repeating the same messages in different variations and combinations.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the Impracticability of World Government

by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

“Renegade History” Against the “Respectable” Bosses

by David D’Amato

In his A Renegade History of the United States, variously described as “ultrarevisionist” and “contrarian,” “trouble-maker” Thaddeus Russell explodes the myth that America’s Founding Fathers were libertarian defenders of the “personal freedom” of the individual. His is an American narrative that amends previous attempts at “bottom up” history that, by either marginalizing or patronizing the “lower class,” neglected to see how it “shaped our world” and “expanded our freedoms.”

Russell therefore celebrates, without overly romanticizing, those working men (and “working girls”) who the Founding Fathers would have regarded as “wicked and vile,” the great unwashed who pioneered an understanding of freedom that the contemporary reader can identify with. The buttoned-up elites who populate American schoolbooks, rather than conceiving “the land of the free,” saw the uninhibited lifestyles of “tavern culture” as dangerous and “beneath them,” preferring instead the ideologies of “social management.”

And from the Revolution through to the present day, Russell paints an America where the kind of freedom valued by the free market left was and is a “gift of renegades,” of the supposedly disreputable, and decidedly not of leaders and politicians. For a free market anarchist, then, Renegade History and its vivid vignettes of disobedience and radical independence are full of important insights.

The stories in the book demonstrate that it was the “renegade behaviors” of ordinary people that spearheaded — through nothing more socially aware than their day-to-day activities — the best features of American society. Where orthodox histories eulogize those members of minority groups who adopted the cultural values and strategies of the ruling class, Russell showcases the people we’re not supposed to pay any mind. In doing so, he presents us with a new history, and accordingly new ammunition against the state and its coercive systems of hierarchy.

Especially important for market anarchists is his percipient, nuanced acknowledgment “that the market economy has always been a friend of renegades and an enemy of moral guardians,” that it had nothing to do with U.S. history’s many flavors of centralization and regulation. Comparing, for example, the economic policies of the New Deal to Italian Fascism and its “corporatives,” Renegade History reveals a power elite “creat[ing] cartels of business in every major industry” and lecturing about “the moral obligation to work.”

Despite the United States’ folkloric emphasis on the Puritan work ethic, it is the Americans who ignored and resisted work, thumbing their noses at frustrated bosses, who were and are the true heroes of freedom. Narrow-minded and parochial, elites stood in the way of true liberty and hardly lived up to the enlightened idolizations of our grade school fairy tales.

Russell shows how the “respectable” were so often the agitators for social control and political authoritarianism — for stepping on “ignorant” workers — as against more “pluralistic” impulses; those inclinations, rather, were kept alive by the underprivileged whose lack of “good taste” maintained the small-L libertarian spirit while Big Business and the political class plotted ways to undermine genuine free markets, promoting “authority and discipline.”

Free markets promote voluntary interactions, and — as Russell’s captivating history shows — many of the things that individuals voluntarily do will end up offending the delicate sensibilities of elites and threatening their systems of exploitation. Books like A Renegade History of the United States, by subverting statist official histories, substantiate many of the claims of anarchists.

Moreover, they explore subtleties of historical power relationships that all too often escape the scrutiny of the mainstream, leaving our worst misconceptions untouched. The state and its economic system of theft and privilege are rooted in the myth of their legitimacy, of the righteousness and respectability of their “great men.” Russell’s book goes a long way toward smashing that myth to bits, and with it the state itself.

The State’s Money Trees

by David D’Amato

For the world’s ruling classes, primed for the latest G20 summit this week, the seemingly colorless niceties of monetary policy have become the topmost theme of debate. And while the villains of the political class characterize monetary decisions as the technical and politically-neutral bailiwick of qualified experts, those decisions are a weight-bearing pillar of statist exploitation.

As the world economic order has dealt with the aftereffects of the financial crisis, China and the United States have exchanged barbs, both accusing the other of unfair manipulation of its currency. As a resolution of the discord and for the prevention of future imbalances, reports Reuters, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has “called for a stronger International Monetary Fund.”

Geithner argued this week (March 31) that an empowered IMF would “shine a spotlight on risks” and “preempt the emergence of large imbalances in the global economy.” Contrary to Geithner’s glib assurances, however, imbalances and risks are part and parcel of the world’s statist financial framework. Moreover, the exploitative nature of the paradigm will remain intact regardless of the outcomes of China/U.S. squabbles.

Where the banking complex of the state allows favored corporations to, in the words of Murray Rothbard, “expand and inflate without cease” — to charge monopoly interest rates on money they don’t even have — workers are prevented by law from mobilizing their own wealth. Under coercive statist systems, the likes of Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank can pull the money they lend you out of the ether, but ordinary people are prevented by the high hurdles of minimum capital stipulations from establishing institutions that would serve their needs.

From the World Bank to the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and the Federal Reserve System, the entire financial structure of statist banking, both internationally and domestically, is a device not for the functioning of free markets, but for corporate welfare. The Ex-Im Bank, as an example, hands stolen taxpayer money to the dependencies of the American Empire to fabricate a foreign demand for the rubbish product (in particular weapons) of chosen Big Businesses.

But in the face of all of this state-corporate skullduggery, the mainstream conversation about the “redistribution of wealth” is nonetheless somehow confined to maligning those on Medicaid or receiving food stamps.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, conceived as a uniform system for cartelizing global finance, similarly exist to provide easy money for states and therefore for their venal plutocrats. “Cooperative behavior,” notes economist Jörg Guido Hülsmann, is the price charged by the Western political establishment (read: American Empire) for “developing countries’” access to the loot; such behavior amounts, of course, “to military bases in these countries, or to international trade agreements, or to special privileges for a few large ‘multinational’ corporations.”

Free market anarchists take issue with the G20’s entire anti-competition order and all of its preferential treatment. Ours is not the purportedly “free market” of Bank of America and BNP Paribas, a system whereby obstacles to market entry screen the exploitation and waste of the corporate officialdom from the power-dispersing influences of genuine freedom.

By preventing anyone from using state-enforced legal privilege to artificially limit the realm within which competition takes place, freed markets would empower the productive whose work creates value. Rather than identifying with “the people who matter” in the racketeer economies of statism, who would rather not compete on even footing with ignoble peons, free market anarchists ally with the oppressed.

Ruling class infighting across national boundaries will mean little for the productive masses. The G20 summit will, as always, leave the prerogatives of the very rich unscathed, confining the debate to mere marginalia. Money may not grow on trees, but for the elites who benefit from the machinery of statist institutions like the World Bank and IMF it might as well.

Sean Gabb Speaks in Locarno

Here it all goes up again, how sad is that

Michael Winning

Sorry I got the wrong colour…

You people ought really to ask old pig framers in Northumbria what to do about |ireland. It’s our freinds over the water you see, we chaps here have known them for over a thousand years. Our daughters went with their sons, and vice versa for as long as we can recall. More really, it was before the last Ice Age that their forefathers came to us, in search of food and things. We helped them.

So when what the \Bossman calls the gramsco-I can’t spell it sorry, those people you know who they are, try to ruin things, I’m pissed off. It’s coming again and this time we’re defenceless.

What to do if you become involved with the criminal law

by Robert Henderson

Robert Henderson (30 March 2011)



1-2 What this guide is for

3-8 General tactics

9-13 Choosing a lawyer

14-22 The Arrest

23 Your mental state if under arrest or seemingly under arrest

24-29 How you will be treated after arrest

30-32 How to behave after arrest

33-35 Stop and Search

36-38 Searches with warrants

39-41 Searches without warrants

49-51 The caution

52-58 What to do when cautioned

45-51 The right to silence

59-65 Interrogation

66 The planting of evidence

67 If you are charged

68-71 Detention

72-74 The police

75-78 The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

79-81 The government law officers

82-86 What to do if you get to court

87-89 Should you go into the witness box?

90-98 Expert witnesses

99-100 Other paths to explore

101-102 Formal police caution or court?

103-105 When should you plead guilty?

What this guide is for

1. Over the past twenty-five years fundamental safeguards have been removed or are in danger of being removed from our legal system through measures such as the Serious Crime and Disorder Act, various anti-terrorism laws, the retention of the fingerprints and DNA of those not found guilty of a crime and the breach of the convention that no one is placed in “double jeopardy” by being tried twice for the same offence. At the same time, the whole thrust of government policy and behaviour is ever more authoritarian, vide the neutering of Parliament, the series of gratuitous and aggressive wars and the increasingly intolerant treatment of protestors. In such circumstances the chances of becoming involved with the criminal law are increasing even for the law abiding. That being so it pays to be prepared to deal with the police, lawyers and the courts. This what the guide is designed to do.

2. The guide does not tell you what the law is with regard to a particular crime. Rather, it tells the reader what to expect from the police, lawyers and courts, what can and cannot be legally done by the police and associated agencies such as the security services and how you can best defend yourself whilst keeping within the law. The law most useful to know in this context is that related to these Acts:

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

Public Order Act 1986

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act

Terrorism Act 2000

Serious and Organised Crime Act 2005

The full text of these acts can be found

General Tactics

3. Your general tactics should be three. First, give the authorities particularly the police) as little cooperation as possible within the law, whilst remaining formally polite and reasonable. Second, lay down markers all the way along the line if official misconduct occurs. This covers everything from complaints by you about the failure to observe legal procedures, such as advising a suspect that he is under arrest, to complaints about physical violence. Such markers will provide you with powerful weapons to dissuade the police and the Crown Prosecution Service from mounting a prosecution against you (from embarrassment if nothing else), provide you at your trial with ammunition to taint the prosecution evidence and conceivably give grounds for appeal. Third, ensure that those in authority know that you will fight to the limit any attempt to prosecute. Such behaviour will both give the police or the prosecuting authority (The Crown Prosecution Service) little to go on and be quietly intimidating to both.

4. Whenever you are abused, whenever you feel that your legal rights have not been observed, whenever you believe that police procedures have not been followed, do the following: (1) make it clear immediately to the nearest police officer that you will be making a formal complaint and (2) make a written note, as soon as possible, of what has happened and sign and date that note. If you have a solicitor, pass the note to them as soon as you physically can so that he or she may certify the date that they received it. Ensure that a copy of your notes exists.

5. If you have a means of recording conversations, use this to record any conversations relating to you by police officers after you are arrested. These may be conversations in which you are a participant or conversations about you but not involving you, by police officers. Make it clear on the recording who you are, when and where the recording was made and the people recorded. Hand this recording to your solicitor as soon as possible. Ensure a copy of any recordings is made. Nothing but nothing is as effective a check on official misbehaviour as their knowledge that they are being recorded.

6. If you have one on you, use your mobile phone to tell others about your arrest if you can. If you have the means of connecting to the Internet put out details of your plight through the Internet.

7. If the police stops you from doing (6) and (7), ask the reason why, the rank of the officer and the name of the officer. Make a written note of it as soon as you can. Include the time the refusal was made, where it was made, the time and date of when the note was made and your signature.

8. If you threaten to make a complaint, always do so. Never cry wolf.

Choosing a lawyer

9. You will need a solicitor experienced in criminal law. Solicitors often appear in the magistrates courts, although they may also instruct a barrister to act for you. The solicitor will normally instruct a barrister if you get as far as the higher court. Specially licensed solicitors can also appear in the place of barristers in the higher courts(Crown Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court), but I would not recommend trusting your fortunes to one, especially if it is a very serious charge.

10. If a barrister is instructed, make sure that he is experienced in the area of criminal law with which you are involved. Make certain that the person who turns up to represent you if you are taken to a police station is a qualified solicitor and not a legal executive. Refuse to say anything if a solicitor is not available.

11. Wherever possible give your instructions to your solicitor and barrister in writing. Keep a copy. This will prevent them going their own sweet way. Barristers in particular always believe that they know best and often disregard or bend their clients’ instructions out of all recognition.

12. Written instructions can be useful if your lawyers let you down. If you feel your solicitor or barrister is incompetent or dishonest, you can sue them and/or make a complaint to their governing bodies, the Law Society (solicitors) and Bar Council (Barristers). Moreover, if your barrister or solicitor does not follow your instructions, that could be grounds for appeal under the more liberal appeal rules which now apply. Written instructions are also useful if you want to dismiss your barrister during a trial. The court will look on your request more kindly if you can show that your instructions have not been carried out. They could also provide grounds for an appeal or retrial.

13. The quality of lawyers you will get is largely governed by the amount of money you have. If you are on legal aid, you will probably have to take what you are given by way of a barrister. Your choice of solicitor will also be restricted to those willing to take legal aid work. The already unfair situation is about to become worse. New rules governing legal aid are shortly to come into force. These will restrict legal aid to lawyers licensed by the government. This will greatly reduce the number of solicitors available for criminal work and in many parts of the country it will be difficult to find a lawyer able and willing to take a case. In addition, legal Aid is no longer automatically available for criminal cases (since 2010) and you may have to pay all or part of the defence costs (

However, if you are arrested you will get free legal advice at a police station. If you are charged with a really serious offence, you should end up with competent lawyers and most probably get your full costs met from public funds.

The Arrest

14. An arrest can be made with or without a warrant being issued. Until the Serious and Organised Crime Act 2005 (SOCA) there were significant restrictions on the power of arrest without a warrant, most notably the restriction of an automatic right arrest to an arrestable offence. An arrestable offence was any offence which has a fixed mandatory penalty (e.g. murder) or which carries a sentence of at least five years’ imprisonment. Inciting, attempting, or conspiring to commit, or being an accessory to, an arrestable offence was also an arrestable offence. There were also a few other offences, such as taking and driving, which are arrestable offences even though they carry a sentence of less than five years.

15. Prior to SOCA a police officer could also make an arrest for a non-arrestable offence if he reasonably suspected that a non-arrestable offence has been or is being committed and (1) he thought that “a general arrest condition” is satisfied (for example, he reasonably believed that an arrest was necessary to prevent a suspect causing injury) or (2) he had the statutory power to make the arrest (for example, for drunken driving) or the common-law power to arrest (e.g. for a breach of the peace). SOCA has made the power of arrest so broad that it in practice an arrest can be made for any suspected offence. Here is the relevant section from the Act:

(1)For section 24 of PACE (arrest without warrant for arrestable offences) substitute—

24 Arrest without warrant: constables

(1)A constable may arrest without a warrant—

(a)anyone who is about to commit an offence;

(b)anyone who is in the act of committing an offence;

(c)anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to commit an offence;

(d)anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an offence.

(2)If a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed, he may arrest without a warrant anyone whom he has reasonable grounds to suspect of being guilty of it.

(3)If an offence has been committed, a constable may arrest without a warrant—

(a)anyone who is guilty of the offence;

(b)anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it.

(4)But the power of summary arrest conferred by subsection (1), (2) or (3) is exercisable only if the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that for any of the reasons mentioned in subsection (5) it is necessary to arrest the person in question.

(5)The reasons are—

(a)to enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person’s name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name);

(b)correspondingly as regards the person’s address;

(c)to prevent the person in question—

(i)causing physical injury to himself or any other person;

(ii)suffering physical injury;

(iii)causing loss of or damage to property;

(iv)committing an offence against public decency (subject to subsection (6)); or

(v)causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway;

(d)to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question;

(e)to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question;

(f)to prevent any prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.

(6)Subsection (5)(c)(iv) applies only where members of the public going about their normal business cannot reasonably be expected to avoid the person in question. (

16. There is one great exception to this arrest regime. The Terrorism Act 2000 (sections 40-43 allows an arrest without reasonable suspicion for any suspected breach of the Act. In all other circumstances to make an arrest without a warrant the arresting officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, is being committed or is about to be committed. Offences include not leaving a designated area when ordered to do so or holding a demonstration without a licence in a designated area – an area designated by the government (

If an officer cannot show that he had such reasonable suspicion, he has prima facie wrongfully arrested and falsely imprisoned. The officer might also be guilty of an assault if force was used.

17. In principle anyone may make an arrest, the popularly called “citizen’s arrest”. Such arrests are in practice fraught with difficulty for the arrester, because of the potential for disputes over the circumstances of the arrest and what constitutes reasonable force. Someone effecting what they thought to be a “citizen’s arrest” might well end up on charges of assault, the use of an offensive weapon and false imprisonment. If you wish to chance your arm here are the situations which justify such an arrest:

24 Arrest without warrant: other persons

(1)A person other than a constable may arrest without a warrant—

(a)anyone who is in the act of committing an indictable offence;

(b)anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an indictable offence.

(2)Where an indictable offence has been committed, a person other than a constable may arrest without a warrant—

(a)anyone who is guilty of the offence;

(b)anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it.

(3)But the power of summary arrest conferred by subsection (1) or (2) is exercisable only if—

(a)the person making the arrest has reasonable grounds for believing that for any of the reasons mentioned in subsection (4) it is necessary to arrest the person in question; and

(b)it appears to the person making the arrest that it is not reasonably practicable for a constable to make it instead.

(4)The reasons are to prevent the person in question—

(a)causing physical injury to himself or any other person;

(b)suffering physical injury;

(c)causing loss of or damage to property; or

(d)making off before a constable can assume responsibility for him.”


18. For most practical purposes only the various police forces and Customs and Excise (now amalgamated with the Inland Revenue as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) have an exercisable power of arrest. Members of the security forces (M15 and M16) have no powers of arrest beyond those of the ordinary citizen. However, a “citizen’s arrest” by the security services would almost certainly carry fewer dangers for the arrester than it would for the ordinary citizen. This is because the state authorities will generally protect the arrester through their de facto control of prosecutions. (Politicians and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will deny vehemently that such control is exercised. The facts are heavily against them. Our justice system is controlled by law officers who are part of the government. The DPP is appointed by the government. One of the reasons the DPP may give for a failure to prosecute is that “prosecution is not in the public interest,” which can easily cover security service illegality. It is also doubtful whether any security officer, that is, an officer formally employed by the security services, has ever been prosecuted for offences committed during the course of his or her work.) It should be borne in mind that Special Branch – which is often mistakenly thought of as part of the security forces – is part of the Police and its members consequently can effect an arrest as easily and safely as any other police officer.

19. If a warrant is sought for someone’s arrest, the officer applying to the magistrate (or judge) must satisfy the granting authority that there are sufficient grounds for an arrest, that is, there are grounds for a reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed.

20. When making an arrest with a warrant the arresting officer must show the person arrested the warrant, but he need not do so at the time of the arrest. Always attempt to obtain a copy of the warrant, the name of the person who has granted it and the reasons given by the applying officer for its granting. If possible ask to photostat or photograph the warrant. If this is not possible, ask for time to make notes about the detail of the warrant. If this is denied, note the officer who denies the request and the words in which the denial is given. Make a written note as soon as possible. Ask the person(s) engaged in the denial to sign the note you have made certifying it to be a true record. As soon as possible either you or your solicitor should write to the magistrates (or judge) who granted the warrant asking them to confirm the reasons for granting the warrant. If necessary, call the magistrate (or judge) to your trial to justify the granting of a warrant.

21. When an arrest is made, the officer must tell the suspect why he or she is being arrested and give the grounds for the arrest. The officer will probably do the former but may well omit to do the latter. If you are arrested, and the officer fails to give the grounds for your arrest, always ask immediately what his reasonable grounds are and the crime of which he suspects you. Note any failure to give the grounds. Never resist arrest. That in itself constitutes a criminal offence if the arrest is deemed legitimate. Moreover, it is very easy to end up on a charge alleging some form of assault.

22. The police’s favourite time to arrest is in the early hours of the morning. They do this because they believe – quite rightly – that the suspect will be at their most susceptible at that time. However, such arrests tend to be for serious crimes and more often than not crimes involving career criminals. Most arrests are made on the spur of the moment.

Your mental state if under arrest or seemingly under arrest

23 The bad news is that you will almost certainly panic if you have no previous experience of such circumstances. That is nothing to be ashamed of, it is just the way human beings are made. The good news is that panic can be controlled. Visualise now the circumstances under which you will be arrested before you are arrested. Do this regularly. When you are arrested, use deep breathing to control the panic, preferably with your eyes closed. It should calm you down. Then cling on tightly to the idea that if you follow my instructions, you have a very good chance of never being convicted of anything provided the evidence against you is not overwhelming.

How will you be treated after arrest?

24. The physical circumstances you will experience after arrest will vary greatly. At the police station, you will probably be held either in an interview room or a cell. The cell experience may be simply a question of being locked in a small room or, particularly in the inner cities, resemble something rather more demonic, with a rich stew of the mentally ill, the drugged and the drunk either in your cell or ensconced nearby. Ignore them as best you can. Even if you have someone seemingly threatening in your cell, it is unlikely they will be violent without provocation.

25. If you are unlucky enough to be remanded in custody, obey the golden rule of giving no provocation. If you do not go looking for trouble there is a fair chance you will not find it. If you are educated, offer your help to other prisoners with letter writing and such forth. Try to get yourself remanded to the hospital wing. If all else fails, ask to be put in solitary confinement for your own safety – you have legal right to this. Time served in custody counts as time served if you receive a prison sentence.

26. With the restrictions created by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), especially the requirement to record interviews, it is unlikely that you will be physically assaulted by the police. However, it is just possible that you may be. Your chances of being assaulted – other than in a resisted arrest – are virtually nil if you are a woman, although you might be subjected to some form of indecent assault. If you are old, it is unlikely you will be assaulted. If you are a middle class man they are small, unless you are extremely provocative or unlucky. If you are working class the odds of assault improve somewhat. If you are a career criminal they go up sharply. You also have to bear in mind the crime which is being investigated. If it is (1) serious, 2) causing public outrage and (3) intrinsically sick making, such as the rape and murder of a young child, your chances of being assaulted to gain a conviction will decidedly improve.

27. If you are physically assaulted your best means of resistance is to go inside yourself mentally. Exclude the outside world, make everything seems far off and unimportant. Remember also that the human body can take an immense amount of physical abuse without you dying or being permanently crippled. If you are young, you are practically indestructible if you receive a routine beating. Moreover, the type of physical abuse you are likely to be subjected to is unlikely to be more than beating on non-vital parts. If you are attacked and free to move, go down on the floor and roll yourself into the foetal position. Just try to hang in there. Unless you are arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000, They can only keep you in custody without charge for 24 hours normally and 36 hours at most unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you are charged, you must go before a magistrate’s court as soon as possible. Make any complaint you have to the court. The Terrorism Act 2000 allows a person to held for 28 days without charge.

28. The police have the right to take from someone under arrest fingerprints, DNA samples and shoeprints from anyone arrested for a a recordable offence . This covers the overwhelming majority of arrests – see .

At present these details are retained routinely on the police database in England and Wales (only convicted offenders samples are kept in Scotland) even if no charge is brought or if a charge is brought but the defendant is found not guilty. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2009 that this was a breach of the Convention on Human Rights and any records held of those not convicted of a crime should be deleted. The UK Government promised to bring forward a scheme but has not done so to date. (

29. Being arrested is no longer a small matter. The retention of details of an arrest, especially your DNA, on a searchable database means that you are a potential object of suspicion even if you have never been charged with a crime. It would increase your chances of being investigated for other crimes significantly, not least because with a database contained thousands of DNA samples there is a reasonable chance of false positives, that is, another person’s DNA being identified as yours or vice versa. There is also a growing tendency of the police to go after close matches whereby the DNA of a close relative may lead to you being drawn into an investigation. Finally, planting another person’s DNA at a scene is easily done, a fag-end or used tissue will do the trick.

How to behave after arrest

30. Use a polite but firm manner. Many people imagine that they can gain an advantage by showing the police that they are subordinate, normally by being ingratiating. This is an unqualified mistake. The police will interpret such behaviour as weakness. On the other side, aggressive or abusive behaviour merely alienates those in authority and those who will judge you, magistrates, judges or juries. Avoid it.

31. It is important that you maintain a psychological distance between the police and yourself at all times. You may think that by becoming on ostensibly friendly terms with the police you will get better treatment. The reverse is the case. The police will identify your wanting to be liked as weakness and will use a surface amiability to lull you into a false sense of security. You are then more likely to volunteer information. This may either be directly incriminating or prompt a line of questioning which either incriminates you or leads to a situation where you have to suddenly refuse to answer. That will not look good in court.

32. If you encounter behaviour from the police which you judge to be unacceptable, for example physical threats or serious verbal abuse, make it clear instantly that you will be making a formal complaint. Having issued the threat, you must always carry it out. Ask to see the most senior officer present to make the complaint. Such complaints can of themselves be useful in discrediting in court police evidence or defusing any suggestion that by keeping quiet you had something to hide. They can also ward off any further attempts at abuse.

Stop and Search Laws

33. There is no general power of stop and search but there are a number of laws which allows it in specific circumstances. Most of these can only be exercised where the officer has ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a particular crime has been committed, for example, the power to search a person for illegal drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the power to search for stolen or prohibited items under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). Two Acts provide for stop and search without reasonable suspicion, Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

33. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows a Chief Constable or the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to designate an area as stop and search areas. Within these the police can use stop and search powers without the need for any reasonable suspicion. In the past section 44 has been used within peaceful public protests. At the moment the whole of London is a designated area for stop and search under section 44. (

34. Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, empowers a police officer of the rank of inspector or above to issue a written authorisation for additional search powers on the basis of a reasonable belief that incidents involving serious violence may take place or that people are carrying dangerous instruments or offensive weapons in the area without good reason. The powers relate to pedestrians and vehicles in a specified locality, for a specified period, not exceeding 48 hours at a time. (

35. Where an authorisation has been issued, any constable in uniform may stop and search any pedestrian or anything carried by the pedestrian, or any vehicle or anyone in it, for offensive weapons and dangerous instruments and may seize any such items which are found. In addition, the police may require you to remove any item which they reasonably believe you are wearing wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing your identity.

Searches with warrants

36. Search warrants are authorised by magistrates or occasionally judges. When the police come knocking on your door you will not have time to scrutinise the document closely but check the warrant for the address and the magistrate or a judge’s signature. If the first is wrong or the second missing, point this out to the police and make it clear you consider the warrant to be invalid. The police may well ignore what you say, but you have laid down a marker for the future. If the warrant was not valid the police will be unable to claim they did not know it was invalid and acted in good faith. If the police do ignore your complaint and search, record or make a written note of their response. If you can make a video or audio recording from the moment you realise what they have come for. If you refuse to let the police in, be prepared for them to make a forced entry. As with the arrest, it is better to allow the police to do what they will then argue the toss afterwards.

37. If it is an all premises warrant “no premises which are not specified in it may be entered or searched unless a police officer of at least the rank of inspector has in writing authorised them to be entered.”

38. To obtain a warrant for offences under the Terrorism Act 2000, all the applying officer is required to do is show that the person falls within the very broad definitions offered in section 1 of the Act (

Searches without warrants

39. Under section 18 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, where a person is under arrest because of a reasonable belief that an offence has been committed, a police officer of the rank of inspector or above may authorise a search of premises which they have reasonable grounds for believing contain evidence of the suspected offence. Such a search should be restricted to looking for such evidence, but in the nature of things if other evidence of unrelated offences is uncovered the police will act on it.

40. A search can also be made of premises without authorisation by an inspector or more senior officer if “the presence of the person at a place (other than a police station) is necessary for the effective investigation of the offence.]” ( This would apply if someone is arrested and the arresting officer has reasonable grounds for believing that a search of premises before taking a suspect to a police station will provide evidence of a suspected offence. If such a search is made, the officer conducting the search must advise an inspector or more senior officer of the search at the first opportunity.

41. Whether a search is made with or without a warrant, there is a reasonable chance that the police will leave the place searched in a mess and/or with damage. If this happens, make a complaint at the time, take photographs and follow it up with a formal letter of complaint to the Chief Constable or in London the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Depending on the circumstances, there may be grounds for either criminal charges or civil action against the police.

The caution

42. The present caution is this syntactical abortion:

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence”

43. The police, Customs and Excise and certain Inland Revenue officers (Customs and Excise and the Revenue are now amalgamated with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs or HMRC for short) can administer the caution, question under the caution and take statements under the caution.

44. The caution must be administered in accordance with a code of practice issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). It can only be administered where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a criminal offence has been committed. It must be administered as soon as is practically possible after the officer reaches the conclusion that such reasonable grounds exists. For example, if you are being questioned without caution, the questioning officer cannot continue questioning you without administering the caution if it becomes apparent from your answers that a reasonable ground for suspecting that you have committed an offence exists. An example of when a caution could not be immediately administered would be during an arrest involving violent resistance where the person being arrested was saying things which indicated guilt, for example, “Take your hands off me or I’ll do you like I did X”, X being someone injured in a brawl.

45. Anything you say after the caution is administered is admissible in evidence unless you can show that the statements were obtained incorrectly. Anything you say before the caution is given is not normally admissible in evidence. However, there are exceptions where pertinent statements are made in circumstances where the officer cannot reasonably be expected to issue a caution. Such circumstances are most commonly found where a resisted arrest occurs – see above. These statements, even though not after a caution, may or may not be admitted in evidence depending on the court’s judgement of the circumstances. However, in any circumstances, the officer must, as previously mentioned, administer the caution at the earliest possible opportunity. It is unlikely but not impossible, that words uttered before the caution was given to a person peaceably under arrest would be admitted as evidence. However, bear in mind that statements you make to anyone else other than the police could be given in evidence. For example, if you are on remand, a cell mate might decide to give evidence against you based on conversations you have had.

46. When the caution is given, the officer must make clear whether or not the person to whom it was administered is under arrest. If he is not under arrest, the officer must make it clear that the person is free to go about his business. In any circumstances, the officer administering the caution must remind the suspect of his right to legal representation.

47. The officer administering the caution must note the fact in his notebook or interview record as appropriate.

48. After a caution has been administered, an officer continuing an interrogation after an interval or an officer beginning a new interrogation must remind a previously cautioned suspect that he or she is still under caution.

What to do when cautioned

49. If the officer giving the caution states that you are not under arrest you may leave immediately. Do so after asking what his reasonable grounds are for suspecting that you have committed a crime. Say nothing in response to any further questions.

50. If the officer fails to advise you whether or not you are under arrest, ask whether you are under arrest. If you are not, make a note of the officer’s name and the failure to advise you of your arrestable status. Then ask what his reasonable grounds are for suspecting you of a crime. Then leave without saying anything further. The police cannot detain

51. If you are under arrest, try to obtain the officer’s identification whether it be a name, number or office or station from which he or she works. Make a formal complaint about any failure to advise you whether you are under arrest. This is important because it may give grounds for invalidating the caution and thus affect the admissibility of evidence, in this cased your failure to respond. Ask what his reasonable grounds are for suspecting that you have committed a criminal offence.

The Right to Silence

52. Contrary to popular opinion, the Right to Silence has not been abolished. All the present caution does is provide an opportunity for the court to draw to the attention of the jury (or magistrates), the fact that the accused refused or failed to give information, at some pre-trial moment, on which they base their defence partly or wholly. The change in the rules has not resulted in a significant change in the general conviction rate which suggests that it makes little if any difference.

53. If I had to give one piece of advice to anyone cautioned, arrested or charged with an offence it would be this: “Say absolutely nothing”. That advice would apply whether or not the person had a solicitor in attendance during police questioning. Those who doubt that it is good advice should ask themselves two questions: (1) why do smart career criminals do it as a matter of course? and (2) why did the last government circumscribe the right to silence? The answer is that it is generally the most successful tactic in both avoiding prosecution and if brought to court, conviction. Always go with the professionals – in this case smart career criminals – is a good piece of advice in any circumstances.

54. The reason for the tactic’s success is that many criminal prosecutions involve some self-incrimination from the accused. This does not necessarily mean that the accused has admitted to anything which directly implicates them in a crime. It may often simply mean that they have told a lie which is discovered or have inadvertently contradicted themselves when speaking of circumstances not directly linked to a crime. The trouble with that is that it casts doubt about their general truthfulness, which is an important consideration, particularly in a jury trial.

55. Information given in writing is a different matter. A letter to the police is obviously controlled by the writer. A formal statement is also controlled by the suspect. The police will almost always try to write statements for you. They will say it will be better because they know what the courts want. Resist these blandishments. Always write your own statement.

56. But written information should only be given where there is (1) a pressing reason such as the provision of an alibi and (2) where you are absolutely certain that the story you tell is not merely true but the whole truth. Where possible avoid giving any written information.

57. If you do refuse to answer questions, one question only needs to be addressed by the jury or magistrate: was it reasonable for the accused not to have given information at an earlier time. Obviously there are particular reasons for a failure or refusal particular to a case, such as the information not having been available to the accused at an earlier time. However, there are also general reasons.

58. It would be reasonable to refuse to speak without a legal advisor being present. It would be reasonable to refuse to speak if recording facilities were unavailable. It would be reasonable to refuse to speak if you had just been arrested in an unexpected and/or violent manner. It would be reasonable to refuse to speak if you had been abused by the police. It would be reasonable for you to refuse to speak if you believed that police procedures had not been observed. It would be reasonable to refuse to speak if you feel ill. It would be reasonable to refuse to speak if you have been kept in circumstances in which you might reasonably be judged to be exhausted. It is always reasonable to refuse to speak if your legal adviser tells you not to.


59. The good old bad old days when people could be simply “verballed” by the police into prison or onto the gallows are happily gone, although many an old copper doubtless still sheds a tear for their passing and old, unreconstructed members of the Met’s Sweeney doubtless moisten their pillows nightly. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 changed all that. The onus is now on the police to video record – interviews wherever possible. The police must show that recording was not possible.

60. Once you have been cautioned, a simple statement that you do not wish to say anything should be enough to prevent further questioning. However, the police will most likely keep pressing you to say something. The best tactic is simply to refuse to say anything.

61. If you do decide to be interviewed, insist that your legal representative is present. Insist also that the interview is videoed. Insist further that a copy of the tape is given to the legal representative immediately the interview is completed. Get your legal representative to record the interview. Apart from obvious reason of ensuring the police do not doctor the interviews, such behaviour will be intimidating for the police.

62. Once the interview begins, refuse to answer any questions until the interviewing officer has answered some questions of your own. Ask first, do you have reasonable grounds for suspecting that I have committed an offence? If he answers no, get up and walk out. The police have no right to detain you and you have a prima facie case of wrongful arrest and false imprisonment. If the officer answers yes, ask: what are your reasonable grounds for suspecting that I have committed an offence? Let your legal representative judge whether the answer he gives meets the criteria for arrest. If it does not, seek to leave immediately. If prevented, do not answer any questions.

63. Doing interrogation, the police must make it clear within the recorded and written records when breaks are taken. Do not relax your guard if a break is taken. Reasonable refreshment must be provided to the suspect. The suspect must be given reasonable opportunity for rest. Bullying, in the form of a question being frequently repeated might well disqualify the interview from being admitted in evidence.

64. The police may still try to play their age old tricks on you – “tough cop, soft cop”, “You play ball with us son, and we’ll make sure the judge goes easy on you”, “Your mate’s coughed” etc. (Yes, policemen do actually speak like this. I blame this on them watching too many TV police series). Do not believe a word they say. The police have no interest in you beyond obtaining a conviction. They will lie to their hearts content in pursuit of that end.

65. If you are unlucky enough to be the subject of physical violence in an attempt to obtain a confession, what should you do? Resist signing if you can. If you cannot, I suggest that you pretend to agree to sign a statement, but then write on it “I have been physically abused in an attempt to get me to sign this statement.” Then initial your words. Remember, initial not sign. Your action will present the police with a straight choice: do they leave the document intact (in which case it is evidence of sundry criminal behaviour on their part) or do they destroy it and commit the criminal act of perverting the course of justice? Alternatively, sign your name in a way it would not normally be signed. If your normal signature is John Smith, sign J.Smith. If you are right handed, sign left handed. This abnormal behaviour would provide evidence that you signed under duress.

The planting of evidence

66. Although “verballing”,is now a largely past black art, the police can still plant evidence. This can be extremely difficult to disprove. The main means of disproving it are circumstantial. If, for example, you have no history of drug abuse, it might seem implausible to a jury if the police claim that they have found a gramme of heroin in your possession. In your favour is the fact that modern juries are far less trusting of the police than they were even twenty years ago.

If you are charged

67. Being charged does not necessarily mean that you will be prosecuted. However it is a formal accusation of a crime. It indicates that the police (or other authority such as the Customs and Excise branch of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs)think that there is evidence which may lead to a prosecution. The charge should be entered in the charge sheet at the relevant station and a copy should be supplied to the accused.


68. You may be detained by an authorised officer, normally the police, only after arrest, You may be detained without charge. However, such detention may only occur when it is necessary to secure or preserve evidence or to obtain it by questioning. If detained without charge, always ask the detaining officer for justification of your detention. Normally such detention should cease after 24 hours unless it is in connection with a serious charge such as rape, kidnapping, causing death by dangerous driving etc. Then a superintendent or more senior officer – chief superintendent, assistant chief constable, deputy chief constable and chief constable in all cases except the Metropolitan Police – may authorise an extension to 36 hours. Magistrate’s courts may authorise a extension of detention without charge for a further 36 hours. With exception of those held under terrorist laws who made be held for 28 days, a suspect held without charge may thus be kept for 72 hours at most.

69. If a suspect is charged with an offence, he or she must be granted police bail or brought before a court as soon as is reasonable. If the delay in bringing a suspect before court seems unreasonable, a writ of habeas corpus may be sought by the person detained. This will force the police to bring you before a court.

70. An arrested person held in custody may have one person told of this, although if a serious offence is concerned and a senior police officer reasonably believes that this would interfere with an investigation, this advice to the person can be delayed for up to 36 hours. If you are refused a chance to tell one person that you have been arrested, ask for the reason, the name of the person making the decision and the name and rank of the person making the decision.

The police

71. The police do not decide whether a prosecution is to be undertaken. Their responsibility is to gather evidence and then prepare the evidence (with a covering submission) for forwarding to the Crown Prosecution Service.

72. The police may seek the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service at any point in an investigation, whether or not charges have been brought.

73. Many policemen are neither very bright nor well-educated. The minimum educational qualifications for most forces are still dire: 4 GCSE’s is par for the course. This means that they are not too hot on the paperwork side, either in its actual preparation or in their desire to undertake it. This natural reluctance has been built on in recent years by an immense increase in the paperwork required for a submission to the Crown Prosecution Service. Thus it is in your interest to make a case as unattractive to them as possible. Keeping silent does this. Occasionally, it may be expedient to flood the police with entirely legitimate paperwork, for example in the case of company fraud.

74. Bear in mind that policemen are only too human. If they make a serious mistake, they will wish to cover it up even if it means killing a strong case against a subject. It is in your interest to see they make mistakes if you possibly can.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

75. The CPS is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP is appointed by the government. The present DPP is Keir Starmer QC who was appointed in 2008. The DPP reports to the attorney-general, who is a member of the Government.

76. The CPS is the public body which determines whether most criminal prosecutions are to be brought – the DPP has the formal responsibility for these decisions.

77. At the decision making level, the CPS is staffed by qualified lawyers. Apart from the most senior, these tend to come in two sizes: the young and inexperienced and the older and incompetent. This is because it is rare for competent, experienced lawyer to work for the CPS as a case worker because(1) they can earn far more in private practice and (2) he is not his own master.

78. The incompetence of the CPS lawyers can be exploited. As with the police, they do not like either difficult or complicated cases. The action you take to dissuade police officers from submitting a case to the CPS will also work at the level of the CPS lawyer. In addition, as with policemen, bear in mind that CPS lawyers are human. If they make a serious mistake, they will also wish to cover it up even if it means illegally dropping a strong case.

The government law officers

79. These are the Justice Secretary/Lord Chancellor (the two offices are held by the same person), the attorney general and the solicitor general. They are all politicians of the ruling party. The formal position is that they act only as impartial law officers when concerned with legal matters. This is of course utter tosh. Their existence is the main means by which government of the day manipulates the justice system.

80. The few criminal prosecutions not left to the DPP to decide are matters such as treason, offences under the Corruption Acts and offences under the Race Relations Act. The decision on such prosecutions is made by a member of the government, the Attorney-General, the second most senior political law officer after the Lord Chancellor. In the Attorney-General’s absence, the decision is made by the Solicitor-General, the third most senior law officer.

81. The Attorney-General (or the Solicitor-General) also has the right to intervene in criminal prosecutions. He or she may enter a plea of nolle prosequi (Latin: to be unwilling to prosecute) to terminate criminal proceedings. In the case of criminal proceedings on indictment, that is those tried by jury and thus generally the most serious, the proceedings are automatically ended. In the case of summary proceedings – those in magistrate’s courts – the leave of the court is required. This leave would normally be automatic. Pleas of nolle prosequi are not appealable. Nor does the attorney-general (or the solicitor-general) have to give a reason for their plea, although normally a reason will be given such as “not in the public interest” or “unfit to plead”.

What to do if you get to court

82. Tempting as it may be to represent yourself, there is a good deal of truth in the adage that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client.

83. Most people have little experience in speaking in public. That alone will make them very nervous. The court atmosphere will be intimidating even if the court is a modern one. Then there is the problem of court procedure which the novice will find bewildering. Above all, there will be the need to question witnesses. This might seem simple but it is not. The average person will not be able to keep the flow of questioning going or construct sequences of questions which logically build up to a “killer” question. The average person will also put questions to witnesses which are irrelevant or inadmissible (which tries the patience of the court), questions which allow the witness to embroider their reply (which slow proceedings and may influence the jury in ways you do not want) and questions to which no certain answer can be expected. Good barristers ask only questions to which they know the reply, which is ideally yes or no.

84. However, having said all that there are cases where it may be necessary to defend yourself. This is where you cannot reasonably have any confidence in any barrister (or these days, solicitor) presenting your defence, honestly, ably or energetically in court. Such cases are very rare and are likely to arise only where the charge being answered is essentially political. Charges under Section 70 of the Race Relations Act might fall into this category.

85. The only other occasion when you should consider presenting your own case is when you come to the conclusion during your trial that your counsel is making such a hash of your defence that to take it over yourself could not make matters worse.

86. If you do end up defending yourself, you may make use of advice in court from someone who is not your appointed counsel (a Mckenzie’s Friend –,

for example a friend with some legal knowledge such as a solicitor’s clerk. However, the person does not need any legal knowledge. The judge should also extend a good deal of latitude to you when it comes to questioning of witnesses. He may even question witnesses on your behalf if he feels that you are failing to do the job adequately.

Should you go into the witness box?

87. Generally I would say no for the same reasons that I hold to the belief that keeping silent is on balance the best tactic. Give the court as little to go on as possible. It also hamstrings the judge, for “summing ups” frequently revolve around evidence given by the accused in the box. Such advantages will more than counterbalance any disadvantage you may incur by the magistrate or jury questioning why you have not taken the stand. But there are other reasons as well.

88. If you go into the witness box you will probably be very nervous. Prosecuting counsel will hold all the cards. He determines what questions will be put. You will be restricted more often than not to yes or no answers. Even if you are completely innocent, you may well come out of the box seeming dishonest. Moreover, if you do not go into the box, the jury or magistrate do not get a glimpse of your personality. They have to go entirely on the facts of the case. That is generally an advantage, particularly where a jury is concerned, because most people who give evidence come across as either frightened (which tends to make the jury despise them) or bombastic (which makes the jury dislike them.

89. The one occasion you probably should go into the witness box is if you are engaged in a political trial for that will give you the chance to expose the nature of the charge against you.

Expert witnesses

90. If you want an “expert” opinion to support your case you can usually find one. Moreover, certain types of evidence are either intellectually worthless or so questionable that they should, rationally, immediately create a “reasonable doubt”, the evidential test for a criminal conviction. It is up to you and your lawyers to make sure the questionable nature of the evidence is brought out emphatically during your trial. Even the most famous of forensic evidence, fingerprints, are not as secure a piece of evidence as the courts make out. A few years ago an historian of science, Simon Cole, published Suspect Identities: a history of fingerprinting and criminal identification (Harvard University Press) which demolishes their infallibility and attacks the science which underlies fingerprint evidence.

91. Such things as handwriting comparisons and voice prints are inconclusive – try getting a so-called handwriting expert to identify correctly fifty pieces of handwriting when he does not know how many were written by the same person. If you are faced with such an expert, get your counsel to set him such a test. If an audio recording is produced purporting to contain your voice, have it tested to see if it is edited and the recording is an original not a copy. Different recording machines of even the same model may produce different “electronic footprints”. Ditto video recordings. If you are faced with an audio alone, simply claim the person is not you. It is damned difficult to prove otherwise. Much video evidence is inconclusive because of camera angles and image quality. If all else fails, rest you claim on the fact that digital recordings can be manipulated in very sophisticated fashion and even what seems to be a cast iron recording of you doing whatever the prosecution says you were doing is no real proof.

92. Psychiatry is no better than institutionalised quackery. As the psychologist Hans Eysenck never tired of pointing out, people suffering from mental illness who receive treatment from psychiatrists show no greater rates of recovery than those who receive no treatment. Incredible but true.

93. You can refuse to be seen by a psychiatrist unless you have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. If you agree to be seen by a prosecution psychiatrist before your trial, insist on (1) your solicitor being present and (2) the interview(s) being recorded by your solicitor. Then say that you will not answer any questions unless the psychiatrist can provide objective evidence that his understanding of the human mind is any better than the next man’s as a result of his psychiatric training. There being no objective evidence, the psychiatrist will be unable to provide it. He may or may not admit so much. However, he can be forced in court to make the admission when he is under oath. Moreover, you can enter the recording of your meeting with him before the trial as evidence of quackery and your willingness to cooperate if it could be shown that such cooperation would have any worth.

94. You may be faced in court with psychiatric evidence which has not involved your cooperation, for example “Cracker” type speculation. Again, get your counsel to ask the psychiatrist to show objectively that he has special expertise. If he cannot show that he has special expertise, then he should be disqualified as an expert. At the worst you will have demonstrated to the jury or magistrate that there are solid grounds for doubting the evidence.

95. Eye witness evidence is so suspect that it is a wonder it is allowed. Academic study after academic study has shown the same thing: eye witnesses are monumentally unreliable. Get a psychologist who specialises in the field to give evidence on your behalf. Pay special attention to the time lapse between the crime and the first time the eye-witness makes a statement – the longer the time, the more suspect the evidence.

96. If you require expert advice for your defence, you have two main problems: (1) finding and paying the expert and (2) getting counsel who can understand the expert. (If you want to see counsel making an idiot of themselves, go and see a case involving serious forensic evidence. Second favourite for this sport is a case where counsel has to deal with a company fraud case involving arcane accountancy practices.) A further problem is that much of the forensic expertise readily available in this country is to be found in government controlled laboratories.

97. If you cannot get your own forensic tests done, you could be convicted simply because of incompetence by the laboratory used by the prosecution. Quite a few instances have come to light in recent years. Moreover, there have been a number of cases where there has been a deliberate attempt to cover up mistakes. So do try to get your own forensic tests done.

98. There is also the question of forensic evidence being planted by the police. Take DNA. It is a simple matter to obtain DNA evidence from a suspect. Get them to touch something. Get them to eat something like an apple. Take a hair from them without their knowledge. Pick up a used tissue. I think a defence could reasonably be mounted against DNA evidence on the grounds that it was planted. Similar objections could be made against other forensic evidence. Juries are much more susceptible to claims of the planting of evidence than they once were.

Other paths to explore

99. Try putting prosecuting counsel into the witness box on the grounds that he is being dishonest and that cross-examination will reveal that dishonesty. (For example, why has counsel asked about Y when he also knew about Z and Z discounts Y?) I do not think that this has ever been done, but it would be interesting to see what the judge’s response would be. A refusal might also provide grounds for an appeal.

100. Similarly call the Crown Prosecution case worker who dealt with your case. It is a fair bet that cross examination will reveal him or her to be incompetent. This could cause a prosecution case to simply collapse. Again whether you will be allowed to call this witness is dubious. But is worth trying.

Formal police caution or court?

101. The police are increasingly using formal cautions as alternative to taking a case to court. The caution has nothing to do with caution issued to warn you that anything you say may be used in evidence against you. It is a procedure whereby the person accepts their guilt and receives what amounts to a form of administrative justice by being formally advised of his offence, the acceptance of the crime and the consequences of accepting a caution, namely, that the caution and all the details of the crime will go on the Police Computer together with their DNA and fingerprints (as things stand) for all time.

102. There is a strong temptation to accept a caution even if you are innocent because it takes away the stress of a trial with the possibility of a significant punishment if convicted, the expense of defending yourself if you cannot get legal Aid, gets the matter ended rapidly, avoids publicity and does not leave you with as criminal conviction. However, a caution will be taken into account by a judge if you are sentenced for a future offence and may cause you difficulty with employers especially those needing a Criminal Records Bureau check. You need to take legal advice before accepting a caution. It could also cause problems if you want to go to countries which require a declaration of criminal offences – they may consider a caution a conviction even though it is not considered so in this country.

When should you plead guilty?

103. Discounts on sentences are available for those who plead guilty. An admission of guilt at the earliest opportunity could earn a one third discount on sentence although that would depend on the circumstances of an admission. Being caught red-handed during a burglary would count for less than the man who went to the police and gave himself up because he was troubled by a bad conscience. Pleading guilty at a later stage will get smaller discounts.

104. The question of whether you should plead guilty is obviously dependant on circumstances. Listen to your lawyer. However, if you confess to your lawyer(s) that you are guilty then they cannot continue to represent you if you insist on a not guilty plea.

105. A special circumstance is when plea bargaining comes into play. There is no official plea bargaining, but the prosecution may informally make it clear to the defence that they will drop a more serious charge if a guilty plea is entered on a lesser charge. There is a strong temptation to accept such a deal even if the defendant believes themselves to be innocent. If you find yourself in such a position, you will have to decide whether conviction even though you are innocent is the lesser of two evils.

“New Britain, a Young Country”

David Davis

Forgive me if I have harped on about this before. But it’s no use for ministers to whinge on about “schools failing to promote the classics”, crying mumble-groan-whinge-rhubarb-knickers, if all they have done for 50 years is the following things:-

(1) Fill the teacher-training-colleges, and education ministries (all the various incarnations thereof) with marxist-trained droids who have imbibed everthing by the Frankfurt School,

(2) Put the National Curriculum in the tender care of the same people and their friends.