Monthly Archives: January 2011

Perhaps the soft-boiled-egg will now start to hit the electric fan


Michael Winning

I saw this on a comment over at Legiron (Underdogs bite Upwards.)

Blogger microdave said…

Glad to see you’ve linked to this article LI. The Mail comes in for a lot of flack, but this article should be compulsory reading in every household in the country.

@ junican – here are few quotes from The Green Agenda. If you had any doubts that this is one gigantic scam these should convince you.

“We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination… So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
- Prof. Stephen Schneider,
Stanford Professor of Climatology,
lead author of many IPCC reports

“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.”
- Timothy Wirth,
President of the UN Foundation

“No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.”
- Christine Stewart,
former Canadian Minister of the Environment

“The data doesn’t matter. We’re not basing our recommendations on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models.”
- Prof. Chris Folland,
Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research

Plenty more here: http://green-agenda.com/

 

Richard Blake – News re Blood of Alexandria


My dear friend Richard Blake, the critically-acclaimed and internationally best-selling novelist, tells me that Slovart has just bought to Slovak rights to his “Blood of Alexandria.”

I do not think I can be accused of any base motive if I congratulate the Slovaks on their excellent taste.

You are to be directed to the Underdog


David Davis

Good one here about GreeNazis and FOE.

John Prescott in Money Supermarket Advertisement


Note: You may wish to adapt this for your own use. SIG

Darren Drabble,
Company Secretary
Money Supermarket
darren.drabble@moneysupermarket.com

Dear Mr Drabble,

I wish to protest at your use of John Prescott in your latest advertising campaign.

Mr Prescott was a Minister in the most treasonable and oppressive government in British history. Between 1997 and 2007, the Blair Government completed the transfer of effective power from London to Brussels. It sent our armed forces into unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without legal authority and at the behest of the United States. It abolished freedom of speech and association and massively increased police and other state powers over the individual.

As an individual, Mr Prescott behaved in ways to his immediate staff that would get you the sack if you tried to copy him – sacked and sued and possibly prosecuted for criminal offences.

Using this man to advertise your business is a catastrophic public relations blunder. The moment I saw him in your television advertisement, I decided at once to stop using your service. There are tens and hundreds of other people in this country who will have been equally shocked and offended by your use of Mr Prescott.

Please immediately drop all advertisements that feature John Prescott. If you do not, it will be clear that the Money Supermarket supports treason, illegal wars, police state oppression, and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Yours sincerely,

Sean Gabb

For the Right, Freedom Isn’t Free — In Any Sense of the Word


by Kevin Carson
http://c4ss.org/?p=5951

We seem to hear the words “freedom” and “liberty” from some pretty unlikely sources.

Think back to the “liberty cabbage” of WWI — recently updated as “freedom fries.” The word “Freiheit” figured pretty prominently in Nazi propaganda; Nazi Minister of Propaganda Josef Goebbels started out as editor of Volkische Freiheit.

I usually don’t write columns about stuff on blogs, because I assume that if people reading a newspaper column were interested in inside baseball from the blogosphere they’d just read the blogs themselves. But in this case, I think Matt Yglesias states things about as well as it’s humanly possible to state them. Reviewing Tim Pawlenty’s latest political ad, which looks like something out of Paul Verhoeven’s version of “Starship Troopers,” he writes (“Tim Pawlenty and the Rhetoric of Freedom” Jan. 25):

“I continue to be fascinated by the way in which the rhetoric of ‘freedom’ is always so closely associated with authoritarian populist nationalist movements. Absolutely nothing in the imagery of the video or the policy agenda of the Republican Party is suggestive of freedom. It’s full of flags and grim-faced folks and bourgeois respectability and military jets flying in tight formation. It’s an ad from a conservative politician that’s about exactly what an ad from a conservative politician ought to be about — about preserving a way of life against Muslims, freeloaders, sexual deviants, and other threats.”

In other words, all images that would have been just as much at home in Nazi propaganda posters, in which the word “freedom” was so ubiquitous. For the Nazis, “freedom” was about a collective way of life — the right of the German people to their “place in the sun.” And for the American Right, “freedom” — in their idiosyncratic sense of a collective way of life — seems to be threatened mainly by other people being allowed to do what they want: Like people with the same sexual equipment being allowed get married, or people with unfamiliar religions being allowed to build places of worship.

In the Lee Greenwood conceptual universe, it’s unclear just what “freedom” is actually supposed to mean beyond a worshipful submission to all manifestations of uniformed authority — except perhaps for a bunch of stuff like baseball games and church picnics that not even Hitler was ever interested in actually stopping anyone from doing.

After 9-11, George Bush suggested shopping and other forms of public relaxation as a way to prove that “the terrorists haven’t won.” Because shopping at the mall, apparently, is the central sacrament in the religion of American freedom. But it’s hard to imagine anyone in the Nazi state objecting to any of the things that Bush celebrated as exemplars of “freedom.”

Can you imagine Hitler complaining about Germans spending money at department stores, attending soccer matches, or using public transit? Do you think that he’d grumble that they were “entirely too free,” and that something needed to be done about it? No, Nazi propaganda posters were full of imagery of happy Germans going about the very same kinds of daily activities to which Bush exhorted Americans after 9-11.

What would have angered the Nazis is precisely the kinds of things that the folks on right-wing talk radio object to today. Hitler would have frothed at the mouth over someone questioning the background of the Reichstag fire or the powers granted in the subsequent Enabling Act. He would have ordered the immediate arrest of anyone who publicly questioned the official account of events in Danzig as a rationale for invading Poland. He would have shut down any publication that challenged the power of the German national security state, the necessity of an expansionist foreign policy to “defend Germany’s freedom,” or the alleged “threats” presented various foreign powers.

It’s the stuff the people in uniform don’t want you to do that makes you free.

Blood of Alexandria – a Topical and Economical Read


This involves a desperate and bloody rising of the Egyptian mob against the established order. It’s ever so topical, therefore. And the Amazon discount makes it a bargain – a mere £3.49 at the time of writing. Buy now, buy often!

The Blood of Alexandria (Aelric)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Alexandria-Aelric-Richard-Blake/dp/0340951176/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1296299437&sr=8-3

We drink because the climate is miserable, and because we’re told not to


David Davis

Ian B, a frequent commentator on this poor shambolic blog, has articulated what is possibly the main reason why socialism, and in its puritan calvinistic humourless form here in the Anglosphere, is so pernicious and life-threatening. he refers often to “Anglo-Socialism”, which I understand to be (correct me, Ian if I’m wrong) a mutated form of utopian idealism: this is one which calls upon the ordinary human instincts of helping someone over a bad patch, while adding the awful, European-Imperialist-Compulsive force of threats, burning in hell and even death for non-compliance, ultimately.

This stuff I just chanced on in a hurry in the Waily-Mail, but it highlights perfectly the sort of sniffy, high-minded tutt-tutting and censure of behaviours supposedly different from the Political Class (although I have my doubts there.) Furthermore, it is sexist: it implies that whereas “boys 11-15″ might binge-drink, it’s more “shocking” that girls should.

In my wilder moments, I’m inclined to float a new conspiracy-theory: that James Bazalgette brought proper sewage and clean drinking-water to “the masses” so that the Calvinist socialists could take away their alcohol. None of the “upper classes” would dare to drink water until at least this time.

Modern British boys and girls may well binge-drink (whatever that is: I suppose it just means they have had “several skinfuls”, as P G Wodehouse would say) because the Political Enemy-Class, through its media-brainwashing-arm, presents role-models who do just that and are deliberately well-reported as having done so – such as “foot ballists” and “celebrities”, in things called “clubs” – odd dark deafening places, with unfathomable names which are supposed to mean something “cool”.

The last “club” I entered was Annabel’s in Berkeley Square, in about 1988 (I think): it was before the days of credit-card-pin machines and one round of five drinks cost me £56.60….in cash: I made some excuses and left as soon as decency and politeness would let me. I can only imagine with horror the bills that today’s poor young people run up. A certain Tim Laughton MP was present in the party, who might be able to corroborate.

*PPP and PFI = Buy now, pay later


by Robert Henderson
http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/?p=622

“Figures obtained by this newspaper [Daily Telegraph] through Freedom of Information requests reveal the full, mind-boggling cost of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) upon which the last government relied to fund its public sector infrastructure projects. More than 900 schemes have been completed with a total capital value of £56 billion – yet the amount the taxpayer will have to repay currently stands at £229 billion. That is the kind of interest rate a sink-estate loan shark would be proud of. In one particularly egregious example of how not to negotiate a contract, the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley in Kent cost the contractor £118 million to build but the final cost to the NHS will be £1.2 billion.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/8279753/Gordon-Browns-poisoned-PFI-legacy.html 24 Jan 2011)

Startling as the figures above are, if it had not been for the recession they could have been considerably higher because there is no reason to believe the Labour Government would not have kept on accelerating their PFI spending at frightening pace if the economy had not all but capsized in 2008. The Daily Telegraph reported in 2006 that:

“The size of the Government’s controversial Private Finance Initiative scheme is expected to spiral from £53 billion to almost £80 billion in the next four years.

Treasury documents reveal that ministers have approved 200 new PFI deals worth £26 billion to start by 2010, and the amount involved in each has almost doubled. The average size of each contract awarded for the next four years is £130 million, compared with £75 million between 1987 and 2005.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1517684/Whitehall-oversees-huge-increase-in-private-financing-of-public-projects.html

How did Britain develop such an almighty and dishonest mess? The Private Public Partnership (PPP) began in earnest in the 1980s as the Thatcher Government sought to both satisfy its ideological dreams (public service = bad; private business = good) and reduce the headline figure of a burgeoning national debt. In 1992 the major Government introduced a new form of PPP the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) which was primarily a way of keeping money off the national debt books. The Blair and Brown Governments greatly increased its use.

The really frightening thing is the fact that the true cost of these schemes is unknown. The £229 billion cited by the Telegraph is speculative. That is not because the paper has false data or has guessed to cover gaps. It is simply because it is impossible to quantify eventual costs. Sometimes this is because the contracts are so long that renegotiation of terms is built into the contract at certain points. In others, the contracts are too tight for the private company to make a reasonable profit and provide a decent product or service. Private companies may even accept risks and obligations in their contracts which they know they cannot meet and go into the contract with the intent of holding the taxpayer to ransom by saying they will not honour the contract unless the terms are improved. (The experience of military procurement shows how often original quotes are wildly below the actual cost).

Whether the default on contract terms is intended or not, it leaves the public body with a real headache. If they do not give in to a company’s demands or simply offer more off their own bat to keep the show on the road, they may well have to pay a new contractor even more than is being asked by the existing contractor. Nor is it a given that there will be another company which can take on the contract, because many public contracts are so large few companies could handle them and some, for example, the maintenance of the railways, requires specialist skills which are not readily available.

Then there is the problem of what happens if a company goes bust. It is all very well saying that the contractor will bear the cost if things go wrong. They may not be able to or be unwilling to bear losses and in either case liquidate –liquidation will be relatively painless because a company will have been set up to administer the contract and losses will be limited to the assets of that company. That produces the colossal administrative problem of what to do if a contractor fails to fulfil a contract. The state will no longer own the facilities or employ the staff to take over a failed contract. If the contractor is providing an essential service such as health provision or running a local authorities schools, the contract cannot simply be allowed to lapse and time taken to award another one because continuity is essential. Such a situation opens the way to Governments being willing to pay well over the odds to keep the service running.

The contract to maintain London Underground which ended in tears in 2008 is a classic example of the problems of PPP and PFI. Ignoring the shambles which are our privatised railways, the Labour Government forced a PPP on the London Underground, one of the largest Metro systems in the world and a transport conduit absolutely necessary to London’s functioning, carrying as it does millions of people a day. They added insult to injury by retaining the running of the trains in public hands while putting the maintenance of the infrastructure – track, stations, signalling and so on – in the hands of private companies. The fact that it was the maintenance of the infrastructure which has caused the most serious of the problems in the privatised overground railways was recklessly ignored. Just to make sure that it was a disaster, the contracts were divided between two groups. In addition, the contracts to set up the PPP ran to some two million words, which made it a lawyers’ golden egg as squabbling between contractors and Transport for London continued incessantly which undermined the executive efficiency of both Transport for London and the contract holders. Here is the Daily Telegraph in 2007:

“The PPP was a classic Labour fudge. Labour’s reformers at the Treasury wanted to privatise the Tube, but old Labour had promised not to. The result was a Third Way on wheels, which repeated the Railtrack mistake of separating responsibility for trains and track. Under the PPP, the trains remained in public hands, with London Mayor Ken Livingstone in charge via the capital’s transport authority, Transport for London. The tracks, tunnels and signals were carved up, with three private infrastructure companies (infracos) undertaking to maintain and upgrade them on 30-year leases, starting in 2003.

Metronet – a consortium of WS Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Bombardier, EDF Energy and Thames Water – won the bid for two of the infracos, agreeing to do the work for £17bn.(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/2812424/Signal-failures-that-sent-PPP-down-the-tube.html)

In May 2008, after a Metronet had a period in administration, the two Metronet infracos were transferred back into public hands to Transport for London.

This PPP had just about every flaw that one could imagine. The contractwas very long. Even if everything had gone to plan, the eventual cost to the public was unknown. Right from the start the taxpayer was paying a subsidy to the private consortia of £1 billion a year, despite assurances originally that no subsidies would be paid.

The contractors’ liability for cost overruns was capped, more or less, at £50 million for each quarter of the 30 year deal and there was a disclaimer for events such as flooding. If the private companies ran into trouble, the taxpayer had to take over responsibility for 95% of the loans taken out by the private companies. Just to put the cherry on the cake, the private companies were given a “guaranteed” rate of return on capital of almost 20%, a return twice that considered to be a good commercial profit.

Apart from overly favourable contracts, the cost of PPP and PFI projects are expensive because the private concerns financing the projects have to borrow money at a higher rate of interest than the Government can, perhaps 1-2 per cent more. That is because the risk is greater for the lender. The borrower has to make a profit on the borrowed money so he must charge more than he is paying for the money to finance the scheme

There is also the problem of divided responsibilities. We now have hospitals where there are separate PFI contractors for the food, for the ward cleaning, for the laundry, for the cleaning and maintenance of multi-media installations (TV/Internet etc) and the general maintenance of the building. No one has overall control. Head teachers with PFI maintenance contracts find they cannot change as much as lightbulb without getting the PFI contractor in. To add insult to injury such services often result in offensively high charges, for example:

“George Osborne, the Chancellor, recently told how he was informed that under the Treasury’s PFI service contract signed by Labour, the cost of supplying a Christmas tree to the Treasury stood at £900, despite being sold by the retailer B&Q for only £40.

A few months earlier, he had been told that the PFI contractor would charge £148.58 to provide a fish and chip lunch for six in his private office.

In the end, Mr Osborne, Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, and their team ate the same lunch in the Treasury canteen for £32.88.

Hospitals have complained that PFI service contracts mean that they have to pay up to £333 to have a light bulb changed.

A hospital in Hereford was charged £963 to have a new television aerial, and a school £1,000 for a computer desk which normally retails at £200.” (Daily Telegraph Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent 8:00AM GMT 27 Dec 2010)

One of the things which strikes outsiders as odd about PPP/PFI is the constant granting of contracts to the same bidders after the bidders have already run contracts in unsatisfactory fashion. Capita is an example which comes to mind with, for example, the Criminal Records Bureau fiasco of September 2002 when schools were prevented from opening for the new term because those working in the schools had not been vetted for criminal convictions in time, the Individual Learning Accounts scheme which resulted in a loss of at least tens of millions of pounds.

Part of the explanation lies in the size of the undertaking. Many of the contracts being offered are of a size and complexity to reduce the number of realistic bidders to at best a few and at worst one. The other possible reason for continued contract winning regardless of performance is corruption. That is not to suggest that corruption has occurred to date, merely that the possibility exists

In modern times, the British Civil Service has been remarkably free from corruption considering the vast amount of money it disposes of each year. There are two sound reasons for this. The first is the tradition of public service. This developed primarily from the lifelong working careers public servants, especially senior ones, have commonly had and the ethos of the Civil Service as an apolitical institution which serves not political ideology but politicians in power with disinterested advice. Government since the 1980s have attacked both of these pillars of public service. They are currently reducing the terms of employment of new civil servants, especially with regard to their pensions, and have increased recruitment of senior staff from outside the civil service. The most contentious of these are the large number of “special advisers” who are classified as civil servants, but are really party political appointees. The most notable has been Tony Blair’s erstwhile director of Communications, Alistair Campbell.

The second reason is lack of opportunity. If the Government is spending taxpayers’ money on its own employees to do a job, any serious fraud is difficult because the money is kept within the public body concerned and rigorous accounting procedures can be applied. Where serious corruption amongst public servants has been found in the past, it has been almost invariably in those areas where Government contracts are granted to private companies, most notably in Defence Procurement and building contracts. It is a reasonable assumption that the more public contracts offered to private companies, the greater the corruption will be sim[ply because the opportunity is increased. The example of local government where public contracts have long been used freely is scarcely encouraging.

Corruption is more than people receiving money in brown envelopes or the provision of material benefits in kind such as expensive holidays. It is also the provision of jobs years down the line, directorships for politicians and civil servants who have granted contracts. That is next to impossible to prevent. Even if a law was passed banning any civil servant or politician from accepting a post with any company which has been granted a contract which has passed through their hands, the politician or civil servant could simply be handed a directorship with another company – the linkage in personnel between major companies is positively incestuous – on the basis that “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.

If corruption does occur, you can bet your life that the contracts will be less advantageous for the taxpayer than honestly negotiated ones.

Because many of the contracts are for periods of 30 years or more there is no meaningful political responsibility. The life of politicians in Government is short on average, either because of election defeats or sacking by the PM of the day. Five continuous years as a cabinet minister is good going. In the vast majority of cases the politicians who made the decision to go ahead with PFI will be out of office not merely long before the final bills are paid but in all probability by the next Parliament after a contract is signed. Once out of office, they can ignore any problem which arises and the sad truth of the matter is that nothing can be done to make them take responsibility for their decisions as things stand. At worst, all that will happen is the electorate throwing them out at the next election, which for an ex-minister is no great loss. It should be added that it rarely happens that an individual MP is thrown out by the electorate because of his personal failings because the power of party label is too great.

The introduction of private money into public projects by any form of PPP is a fraud on the public. As Hire Purchase used to be advertised in my youth, it is “Buy now, pay later”, but with the added difficulty of not knowing what the final cost will be.

The honest way for Governments to finance projects is to raise taxes or increase the national debt. Then the public can see clearly what is being done and judge the cost. With PFI and its ilk, the cost does not appear as government spending immediately. It is Enron accounting, the removal of expenditure from the balance sheet for the present but not the future. The expenditure only appears gradually as the debt is met by charging the government for the services provided or alternatively by charging the customer directly. For example, if toll roads are built and/or maintained by private capital, the contractors could charge the motorist directly to recoup their costs.

But the deceit goes beyond the hidden deferral of expenditure. Much of the detail of the contracts made with private companies is not being made available to the public one the spurious grounds of “commercial confidentiality”.

All public/private financing is a political con – it is either deferred taxation (because the taxpayer has to service the debt) or the taxpayer pays through direct charging, for example, road tolls. PFI does not equal competition or higher efficiency, merely the taxpayer being locked into a system where the PPP/PFI providers can hold the state to ransom.

* The Government defines PPP and PFI thus:

“Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts are a form of public-private partnership (PPP). Other forms of PPP include:

Strategic Service Delivery Partnerships (SSDPs)

Concessions (e.g. toll roads)

Strategic Infrastructure Partnerships, such as the NHS Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) programme in the health sector, and Local Education Partnerships (LEPs) in the Building Schools for the Future programme

Some PPPs may involve setting up Joint Venture Companies.

PFI contracts allow local authorities to gain access to new or improved capital assets (most commonly, but not always buildings). The public sector may or may not own the assets, but in either case will pays for its provision and use, together with associated services (for example, maintenance, management, security, cleaning, etc). Capital investment in the assets is made by the private sector which recovers its costs over a long contract period (often 25 years or more).”http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/localgovernmentfinance/pupprivatepartnership/

Food rationing coming nearer


Michael Winning

First they came for the smokers, and I didn’t speak out, for I was not a smoker. Then, they came for the drinkers, and….and so on.

I thinks I see a food rationing green scam coming on. Hat tip the Underdog, a fat tax will get thourhg I think because nobody cares and the papers all want you to be thin.

The Churchill Memorandum (2011), by Sean Gabb, Chapter One


The Churchill Memorandum (2011), by Sean Gabb, Chapter One.

I’ve just updated the puff for this novel. Though many people have now bought copies, more are always welcome!

What’s he trying to say?


Michael Winning

As Bernard Levin once said : “it’s not what they say, its the way they can’t say it”. The fellow in charge of the Bank of England is trailing something bad which smells, but I can’t quite see what. Can any of you?

Me, I can’t see why we have to pay for the deliberate policy decisions (=mistakes) of our erstwhile leaders. Cameron had a golden opportunity about 2 years ago, he could have said as the Boss says sometimes, “we will not underwrite any more bonds or gilts taken out by the government after midnight, until we are elected” or something like that, but he didnt. Then at lest it would not have gone over a trillion, and something could have been done.

Where Calvin Meets Mao


by Keith Preston
http://www.alternativeright.com/main/blogs/untimely-observations/where-calvin-meets-mao/

In this interview with Craig Bodeker, AltRight contributing editor Derek Turner provides what may be the most concise yet penetrating explanation of the origins and nature of political correctness I have yet to encounter. The full video is available on the website of the National Policy Institute.

Critics of PC have advanced several theses regarding its origins. Paul Gottfried has suggested that it is largely an outgrowth of left-wing American Christianity. Bill Lind considers it be a form of “cultural Marxism” derived from an inversion of orthodox Marxism advanced by the Frankfurt School. David Heleniak has an interesting thesis suggesting that PC is largely a derivative of the Christian doctrine of original sin that subsequently took on a secular form through the influence of the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Still others regard PC as good old fashioned Communism wearing a different set of clothes. My own efforts to investigate the historical development of PC (which I prefer to call “totalitarian humanism”) have led me to a position that is something of a synthesis of these narratives.

Derek points out that political correctness has become the most deeply entrenched in historically Protestant countries, primarily the nations of Scandinavia and the Anglosphere. Presumably, this can be explained as a manifestation of the sense of Calvinist guilt that has been woven into the cultural fabric and historical memories of Protestant societies. That colonial American Puritanism was a rather extreme manifestation of the Calvinist ethos, and that American left-wing Christianity came about largely as an eclipsing successor of orthodox Calvinism in the American northeast, may help to explain why PC first took root in America and exported itself throughout the Western world the way that it did. If indeed Rousseau’s philosophy provided a secular transformation of the notion of original sin, then it is not improbable that such thinking would take root in a cultural milieu where orthodox Calvinism had once been virulent, but was in the process of shedding that history while retaining some of its residual influences, which would have been the case with northeastern American Protestantism during the developmental periods of this country.

It should not be surprising then that the Frankfurt School found a home for itself in northeastern American universities following its exile from Nazi Germany (and after an ironic stay in Geneva, the city most closely associated with the legacy of Calvin!). Some of the iconic figures of the New Left, such as Angela Davis and Abbie Hoffman, were personally students of the Frankfurt School’s most extreme left-wing advocate, Herbert Marcuse, and it is another irony that just as Marcuse eventually settled in California, it was at West Coast universities such as Berkeley that the leftist student rebellions of the 1960s began to emerge before spreading throughout the West and even elsewhere. As for the relationship between orthodox Communism and PC, in my efforts to trace the origins of the term, I have encountered phrases such as “correct politics” or “correct political line,” and references to persons being shunned or dismissed from organizations for “incorrect politics” in old radical literature from the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly among Weather Underground-influenced groups or the most extreme offshoots of the “black power” movement. The Maoist influence on these groups is well-known, as is the fascination of some of the more extreme New Left radicals of the era with the Chinese Cultural Revolution. PC in many ways resembles a Maoist self-criticism session, so there is likely a connection there.

I actually grew up in part as a Calvinist fundamentalist myself during the 1970s. My family were adherents of old-style orthodox Calvinism of the kind represented by theologians like J. Gresham Machen and Cornelius Van Til, and for a time we were involved with a church associated with the theocratic “Christian reconstructionist” movement of R.J. Rushdoony and Gary North. All of my education up through and including my sophomore year of high school was done at a fundamentalist academy that adhered to dispensational Christian Zionism (think of Bob Jones University and you will get an idea what the atmosphere there was like). During the late 1980s and early 1990s I was a left-wing Chomskyite and it was during this time that I first began to personally encounter PC. Observing the psychology of PC and its behavioral manifestations up close and in an unadulterated form gave me a sense of déjà vu: “Where I have seen this kind of thing before?” Having long since abandoned my previous Christianity by that time, I came to realize that PC essentially amounts to Christian fundamentalism without a Christ (perhaps this explains the Left’s habit of elevating perceived progressive saints such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the status of Christ-like semi-divine figures).

Whatever the true historical trajectory of PC may be, its obscurantist and totalitarian nature is obvious enough. It is ironic that eccentric religious subcultures such as the ones I came from are as dangerous theocratic fascists about to carry out an Taliban-like coup any minute now (a view that wildly exaggerates the influence and degree of extremism of such subcultures), while a form of obscurantist totalitarianism that has actually has the support of elites, intellectuals, academics, journalists, and others of genuine influence continues to entrench itself in Western cultural and political institutions.

Epicurus: Father of the Enlightenment (2007), by Sean Gabb


Epicurus (341-270 BC) was, with Plato and Aristotle, one of the three great philosophers of the ancient world. He developed an integrated system of ethics and natural philosophy that, he claimed and many accepted, showed everyone the way to a life of the greatest happiness. The school that he founded remained open for 798 years after his death. While it lost place during the last 200 of these years, his philosophy held until then a wide and often decisive hold on the ancient mind. The revival of Epicureanism in the 17th century coincided with the growth of scientific rationalism and classical liberalism. There can be no doubt these facts are connected. It may, indeed, be argued that the first was a leading cause of the second two, and that we are now living in a world shaped, in every worthwhile sense, by the ideas of Epicurus.

via Epicurus: Father of the Enlightenment (2007), by Sean Gabb.

China – A Paper Tiger


Justin Raimondo

China – A Paper Tiger

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/01/20/china-%E2%80%93-a-paper-tiger/

The utter hypocrisy, economic ignorance, and general all around cluelessness of America’s political class – never very far from the surface — was on full display during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington this week.

There was Nancy Pelosi, a longtime Sinophobe, hectoring the Chinese leader over his country’s human rights record – when her own country openly practices torture, spies on its own citizens, and has murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in a series of wars of “liberation.”

There was Paul Krugman, economist-in-chief of Bizarro World, explaining to us that Chinese subsidies which keep their exports affordable for US consumers are supposedly hurting us – when actually the opposite is the case.

And there were the neocons over the Weekly Standard, pointing to the “boundless” military ambitions of the People’s Liberation Army and the alleged threat from Beijing – this from a magazine whose editor has proclaimed that the goal of US foreign policy ought to be “global hegemony“!

Are these people deaf to their own absurd utterances? My guess is they just don’t care: after all, to whom are they answerable? Only their financial patrons, the various special interests that fund their careers, so making fools of themselves in sight of the whole world – the world outside the sealed cocoon of official Washington – is no big deal. The shameless – by definition – are immune to embarrassment.

The “Yellow Peril” is a convenient scapegoat for politicians and their partisan followers eager to divert popular anger toward a foreign – and non-white and non-black – scapegoat. Oldsters will recall another yellowish peril, Japan, which supposedly threatened to upend American economic supremacy by flooding the market with cheap goods – and we all know how that turned out.

Japan was supposed to be the wave of the Asiatic future, a future that never came – and the myth of China, the Sleeping Giant Awakened, is but the second act of a fundamentally . That fear is partially rooted in economic misconceptions, and the rest is perhaps accounted for by racial animus and a complete lack of contextual knowledge about China’s past and its future prospects.

It’s true that the free market reforms unleashed by Deng Xiaoping greatly benefited the nation, but a recent report on China’s much-touted economic growth rate puts the issue in perspective:

“In nominal terms, the nation’s GDP is more than 100 times bigger than in 1978, when Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping began rolling out free-market policies. While China outstripped Germany in 2007 and the UK and France in 2005, the economy remains less than half as big as that of the U.S.”

The average annual income of the typical Chinese worker – a farmer – is under $5,000. Urban workers are better off: they make nearly twice as much. In spite of Beijing’s pretensions, the Chinese leadership is acutely aware of the country’s relative poverty, and massive underdevelopment. That was the whole point of Deng’s radical reform program, which sought to modernize an essentially pre-industrial agricultural society. And they aren’t even halfway there: most of China remains mired in poverty, while the coastal regions are booming. A huge displaced lumpen proletariat is forming, displaced by the upheavals of the past few decades, rootless and dangerous to the established order.

A great deal of China’s festering social problems are directly linked to the inflationary policies – the pursuit of a “cheap” currency – implemented by the regime. In order to fuel its export-driven industries, Beijing increases prices on the home front, where inflationary pressures keep prices high, in order to subsidize exports headed to the US, where they will be snapped up by bargain-hunting American consumers. In the meantime, we borrow from them in order to finance our ballooning deficit, while Ben Bernanke speeds up the printing presses at the Federal Reserve – and we pay them back in devalued dollars.

It’s a better deal than the old-style colonialism ever was – and still the Americans complain! I’m beginning to understand what our nationalists mean when they talk about “American exceptionalism” – a condition of being exceptionally whiny.

The myth of Chinese economic prowess is complemented by the myth of China as a rising military power, one that directly threatens the United States and its interests. The reality is that our military budget is more than ten times larger than China’s: they spend $75 billion, we spend nearly $900 billion per year. The main function of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has, historically, been to keep order within the country, rather than project its power beyond China’s borders, and its military posture is doggedly defensive – unlike the US, which has its troops stationed throughout the world.

The internal role of the PLA as a force for political stability underscores the fragility of the Chinese state, which has, after all, only existed as a unified entity for a relatively small slice of China’s long history. Regional, racial, linguistic, and other divisions are centrifugal forces that militate against the kind of lockstep unity considered ideal by the lords of Beijing. The country is so vast, its people so varied, and its history so rife with the seeds of future conflict that the cleverest, most brutally implemented Five Year Plan can only hope to exert the faintest pressure on the real life of the nation.

Rising economic inequality, the physical and social effects of rapid modernization, increasing labor turmoil, and regionalist revolts in the far Western provinces – all of these factors are evidence of the inherent weakness of the central state apparatus, which is as brittle as the Soviet model before its dramatic implosion. Far from being a threat to the US, or to anyone outside their own borders, the Chinese regime is itself threatened by its own internal contradictions.

The heirs of Mao do have one trump card to play, however, thanks to the War Party in the United States – including both Bill Kristol and Nancy Pelosi, strange bedfellows whose fearmongering over China unites them in unholy alliance. Every time the internal problems of the regime reach the crisis point, the lords of Beijing wheel out the foreign devils to divert the Chinese “street” and provide a safe target for their wrath. Every time the US fleet comes within a few miles of China’s shoreline, or a US spy plane is taken out by one of their much-admired pilots,

the Americans prolong the life of a failing gerontocracy. Since no one believes in Marxism-Leninism, let alone Mao’s Thoughts, anymore, the only ideology left is Chinese nationalism. The Chinese Communist Party calls it “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” but it is nationalism just the same.

Useful for the regime, this nationalist sentiment is also greatly feared by the leadership because its course is unpredictable – and unpredictability, or, indeed, any hint of instability, is the leadership’s greatest phobia. Any sort of ideological hysteria, whether it be nationalist or ultra-Maoist (the two often met and merged in Mao’s time), makes this generation of Chinese leaders extremely nervous, and with good reason. The years of the Cultural Revolution made an indelible imprint on the consciousness of people like Hu Jintao, whose father was accused of “capitalist transgressions” during that time of ultra-leftist upheaval, and physically tortured in public. The elder Hu never recovered, and died ten years later at the age of 50.

Periodic bouts of hysteria have plagued Chinese

history, usually in the form of religious fervor, or, in the case of the Cultural Revolution, pure nihilism. The leadership lives in mortal fear of it, which is one reason why they repress the Falun Gong cult that gets so much uncomprehending sympathy in the West.

Far from a looming giant whose shadow threatens our own delusions of grandeur, China’s ruling elite is beleaguered on all sides, barely able to ride the tiger of popular moods and constantly in fear of some massive upheaval that will undo all the patient work of the post-Mao era. China, in short, is a paper tiger, from which we have little to fear – except insofar as we insist on creating an enemy of our own making.

Albert Mayer, Comment on “The Churchill Memorandum”


I enjoyed the Churchill Memo… a page turner, even for someone like me who hardly ever read a novel unless authored by Charles Dickens… could be turned into a movie… it has that gotcha… escape… ho no, gotcha again… and again sequence that would keep audiences in suspense… for someone like me who have been following British politics for decades, the characters were familiar as well as other references uniquely British… the irreverence with which you treat these hallowed or rather hollowed names of Westminster was terrific… 

Review of Cultural Revolution Book


A fine and searching review of my “Cultural Revolution, Culture War”. You can buy copies now from here:

Buy

http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4654

Sean Gabb And The Western Cultural Revolution
From the desk of Michael Presley on Sun, 2011-01-23 20:00

G.C. Wallace, the last of the mainstream Southern Populists, always claimed that there wasn’t a “dimes worth of difference” between Republicans and Democrats. Wallace’s quip is also a beginning theme from Dr. Sean Gabb’s book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back [on-line for download or purchase at http://www.libertarian.co.uk/]. Gabb offers an ideological explanation for the current British social-political environment, and then offers suggestions as to how the situation may be reversed. Although ostensibly writing about Great Britain, Gabb acknowledges that his insights hold throughout the West. At the time of writing Tony Blair’s government, described as an “evil” regime, was in power. However Gabb recognized in Blair nothing original, but simply, “a working out of principles established before 1997. There was no break in continuity between the Blair and the Thatcher and Major Governments. It is notorious that no bad act of government since 1997 has been without precedent.” One often asks why, if governments and parties change, the course of social-political events never appreciably does? It is because, as Wallace noted above, political parties, whether Labour or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, typically share similar foundational cultural assumptions and goals. Gabb writes, “We can imagine a Conservative Government. It is much harder to imagine a government of conservatives.” Here, then, begins Gabb’s historical analysis.

For Gabb, Western democratic politicians can never be counted upon to change much of anything since they do not possess absolute power, but rely on a “wider community” providing advice and consent. We know them as civil servants, school teachers, the unelected bureaucracy, business interests, and media outlets all forming a “ruling class” that usually, but not always, includes the politicians, or the elected government. Gabb admits that his notion of a ruling class is nothing new or original, but is simply the extended group possessing shared interests. And in their embrace of a “shared body of ideas” the group delimits how social-political questions can be framed. In the extreme, certain ideas can always be downplayed, ignored, or in instances of particularly dangerous ideas, suppressed by sanction. Gabb explains how, in and of itself, this arrangement is not particularly sinister inasmuch as regime stability is normally desired by the citizenry. However, once a ruling class ideology turns against the existing consensus, and once the ruling class begins transforming a regime into something not originally intended or wanted, problems arise.

The British tradition has been that of liberal democracy, but by the late 1970s the ruling class became fundamentally at odds with traditional liberal political thinking, and all conservative institutions. In order to effect changes the ruling elite began a program of “reshaping” citizen thinking. Also, it was necessary to hold thought more important than action. How? The so-called Neo-Marxist Rescue Hypothesis. That is to say, with dogmatic (historical) Marxism on the wane, revolutionaries demanded a new formulation. Here, Gabb cites three seminal thinkers: Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser, and Michel Foucault:

According to their reformulation of Marxism, a ruling class keeps control not by owning the means of production, but by setting the cultural agenda of the country. It formulates a “dominant” or “hegemonic” ideology, to legitimize its position, and imposes this on the rest of society through the “ideological state apparatus”—that is, through the political and legal administration, through the schools and universities and churches, through the media, through the family, and through the underlying assumptions of popular culture.

None of this wholly relies on overt state coercion, but rather a “systematic manufacture of consent.” What was previously controversial, or what was once considered culturally subversive is now, through the overt action of ruling class manipulations, taken as normal. Using a Maoist metaphor, Gabb places this “long march through the institutions” as beginning, perhaps ironically, from about the time of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, or in the mid 1960s. Dominant Western cultural revolutionary themes consist of the usual suspects: racism, multiculturalism, feminism, the normalization of homosexuality, equalitarianism and so forth. What is remarkable, though, is that while state sanctions may play a role in later stages of what elsewhere has been termed “Cultural Marxism” (Gabb does not employ this terminology), it is the general citizenry’s internalization of this new way of thinking that creates the ground for whatever subsequent sanctions may be necessary for those “just not getting it.” Older citizens who, in private, may express completely antithetical (that is, traditional) views will, when confronted openly, proclaim their support for new cultural norms. On the other hand, having been already schooled within the revolutionary milieu, the newer generation understands “instinctively,” and needs no convincing. For them, “new ideas” are self-evident, and not new at all. At the same time, Gabb holds that the ruling class, for their part, may well be completely cynical.

…since our new rulers spent their younger years denying these truths, they are quite willing, now they are in power, to act on the belief that they are not true. Because they believe that tolerance is repressive, they are repressive. Because they do not believe that objectivity is possible, they make no attempt at objectivity. Because they do not believe that justice is other than politics by other means, they are politicizing justice. Because they believe that liberal democracy is a facade behind which a ruling class hides its ruthless hold on power, they are making a sham of liberal democracy.

Nations, taking the word in its traditional sense, are incommensurate with Neo-Marxism. This is because nations are comprised of more or less homogenous, like-minded groups founded within a shared organic tradition. The break-up of the nation-state is, because of that, essential. In fine, Neo-Marxism wages a “war against the past.” Traditional culture becomes deprecated, and those hitherto associated with the tradition must be made to feel both ashamed of and responsible for the crimes of their fathers. Self-criticism in the form of agonizing over racism, colonialism, sexism, environmental degredation, and all the rest is required, but the guilt can never be assuaged. Guilt is a means of self-control.

Also, the process relies upon language manipulation. A “blurring of distinction” promulgates. The “right wing” is associated with Hitler, therefore men as disparate as David Irving, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and Enoch Powell are associated with Nazis. On the other hand, the left are described as progressive, reformers, modernizers, etc. Too, traditional terminology must be modified in order to express a desired goal, and in order to keep the majority confused. We see examples in the transition from colored, Negro, black, People of Color, to African-American. Or, in a transition from homosexual to gay, to lesbian and gay, and now a mere acronym, LGBT (with the reflexively associated word, “pride”). Gypsies are Roma, and in print, gender neutral language must be enforced. All this has the effect of shutting down debate, and making one conform to the new rules. Often one never knows the rules of speech since rules can always change. Finally, the word “racism,” really a meaningless word that can mean anything, exists as the ultimate accusatory tool used for proscribing thought.

Operating within a Neo-Marxist agenda the media, both news and popular, create a distorted reality that few question because it is simply “the environment.” We routinely view minorities acting in roles they rarely occupy in reality, and behaving in ways they rarely do in day to day life. Minority crime is downplayed, while crime against any protected class is highlighted. In many cases the media conflates majority thought and speech with actual violent behavior. We mention an example of this situation in the recent Arizona shooting where, from all accounts, the actions of a mentally unstable man is blamed on “right wing” speech. Gabb points to the sinister nature of such obvious fraud. Because it is so obviously false, those believing it can only accept the notion by way of passionate faith, and faith is most difficult to penetrate by reason.

The second half of the book is less an analysis of the ground of the Neo-Marxist program, but Gabb’s own prescription for counter-revolution. This requires a more in-depth review than can be offered here, especially with Gabb’s questionable embrace of certain aspects of the welfare-state and his seemingly pro-Islamic attitude. At the end, however, Sean Gabb wakes his reader. He reminds us that England is not facing a revolution. On the contrary, the revolution has taken place, and it is a big question as to whether counter-revolution can ever succeed. The author is not sanguine about working within established political parties because both parties have accepted existing Neo-Marxist ideology to one extent or another. And this brings us back to George Corley Wallace, and whatever one can expect for one’s political dime.

This just highlights the problems we libertarians face


David Davis

A short while ago I posted this below. The trouble we have is that there is no really effective way, to convert our articulated opposition to statism into effective action to remove it, and to thus prevent statism ever troubling mankind again. We did have one or two fleeting opportunities, such as late-Sept 1944 (Arnhem and the aftermath, when we could have got the Ruhr and Berlin in a week), May 1945 (when we could have over-run Moscow) and the Fall of the Wall in 1989 and the few months that ensued. But we did not seize them.

Margaret Thatcher is hated by many libertarians, for merely making the British State more “efficient”. There is some truth in this accusation. But she did want to “abolish socialism for ever” (as I believe that she said once.)

As liberals should (I suppose) say, we allow people to exist and gallivant about in our midst, who profess to want to destroy us and all we stand for.  We have no right to be not offended. I actually don’t think, in my advancing old age, that this is a right way to behave about important matters such as liberty. Perhaps it is because I see the Sands of Time running out for me, or perhaps not.

Mu comment below was about the forced insertion of characterisations and life-roles of a certain kind, not generally thought of by most humans as how they themselves would want to behave, into the pedagoguy of unprogrammed young people under the ages of, say, nine or ten (or less.) The only justification of such moves would be to undermine the thoughts and modes of social interaction that they would ordinarily get inside their own family groups – looking at what probabilists would call “the expectation of” some result or other!

We libertarians can argue till we are blue in the face, about typeface colours on posts, or whether so-and-so is right about the aspects of this-that-and-the-other-in such-and-such cases. but until we can know how to DO REGIME CHANGE, really, now, when it matters, we will be of no use at all.

 

“Gay lessons” in Maths, Geography and Science


David Davis

I lift the following comment from the Daily Telegraph’s comment-thread on this subject. The purpose of education is to educate people to understand the wonders of the universe, and to see to what extent Man might be small but that yet his Mind is a giant, to comprehend it.

The introduction of “gay” slants and nuances to questions is rather like what Baldur von Schirach did to German schools in the 1930s, with “National Socialist Mathematics”… such as :-

“Gunther can kill three Jews in 32 minutes, but Helmut can kill five in 40 minutes. At what time after the start of the experiment will they be exactly killing one Jew each at the same moment?” (This is a problem about the “Lowest Common Multiple” concept.)

Look, I’m not saying that nobody ought to be gay, or indeed is gay at all, although I privately believe that the whole “gayness” thing is a put-up-job. I have for long now, thought that the supposed widespread (and so we are told, increasing) spread of “gayness” is manufactured by the GramscoStalinsists as a way to undermine traditional human familial relationships to make the glue of them easier for an all-powerful-state to dissolve further. And I also believe that there is a population of humans, mostly men, who go along with the gayness thing for cultural reasons (it makes them more sexually-attractive to certain types of women) and particularly because they are very welcome in “night clubs” because they spend money.

But I could be wrong, of course, on all these counts, since I don’t know anything about modern culture or indeed post-modern culture, whatever that is, or today’s “empowered” women, or night clubs, or about money.

the_bogeyman

40 minutes ago

Recommended by
2 people

The whole thing is a side issue.

Our national curricula need to be torn up completely , there is no sense to it at all. I am a former teacher, a grammar school pupil in the late sixties, having taught in Inner London Comprehensives, I have been through it all.

The last thing we need is another initiative. The school I attended is now one of the lowest ranking and has been under OFSTED measures. When I attended everyone was taught Latin for the first two years, after which it was up to you. From my class two pupils went up to Oxbridge reading Medicine and one for Music. During my schools transition from Grammar, to Secondary Modern and Comprehensive, alarm clocks were handed out to all because of the tardiness in time keeping. Our head mistress headed the national conference and spoke out against the proposed changes, it was all downhill after that. My chemistry and biology teacher had doctorates, they have trouble filling positions now.

Large proportions of children in the Inner Borough’s of London do not read, write or speak English. Large number are classed as having other special needs.

Curricula needs to emphasise a high level of skill in reading, nothing can be achieved without that. Across the world it is obvious that the most successful methods of education are the traditional ones.

More than our curricula, our whole means of delivering education needs to be looked at. It is not immediately obvious that the state ought to play any part. Conversely, that always opens the system to the pursuit of a political agenda.

The state ought to be excised completely from the educative process. Parents ought to have the basic freedoms to choose what their children are taught. The only way to achieve this is to place funding, and purchasing power directly into the parent’s hand. This places emphasis on the schools to compete for pupils rather than the other way round. Strong schools will prosper and the weak will fail and there is a more efficient allocation of resources, bringing the overall budget down.

This would be across the tiers, nursery to university. Apart from the basics and languages, institutions could be free to do what they want.

It is not suitable that the apogee of attainment for any pupil at school should be a clutch of A levels, which are not really of much worth. Some people want to leave being able to build houses. And there are many other suitable outcomes for pupils not possible the ways things are. This country needs a base of skill sets that are not catered for. This is a huge gap in our system.

It is a parent that knows its child best and is best placed to identify its needs. You can’t fit them all in one size. Britain has capabilities but we are stripping her of her skills.

I suspect under such a system we would have far fewer media degrees. Certainly there would be more doctors, dentists and the like. and as importantly a range of engineers and technicians. Administration would be minimal and we would no longer be having debates like this.

Dubai and the end of the world


Michael Winning

Sorry heres a link which might work

I was reading the Daily Mail as you do, and I chanced on this thing about that mega-islands-thing in Dubai, which seems to be sinking. It looked sort of funny at the time and a laugh if you had about 8-zillion to spare.Analogies about “The House Built On Sand” would be uncharitable here, because real people are going to lod=se real money, I hear that the boat-comapny wants out and the builders and developers and the Dubai Royal House (whatever that is) won’t let it, which is quite something too. These places all have royal houses even if they say they dont. And the king can have your girl if you don’t watch your arse, Or thats what somneone told me about his anyway.

BUT it all points to socialism, which makes you want to have a blowout when theres enough seed-corn in the shed, and means theres none when theres none left, when you mopst want it later, if you see what I mean. You spend the autumn drunk, seeing who can stand up longest after being decapitated while standing up with a beermug in hs hand and not spilling the beer till he falls over (X Factor and stuff), and then suddenly theres no food.

It’s very unfortunate. I don’t criticise people for wnting summy islands but perhaps they could have spent some time thinking about not voting for politicians in the US who forced banks to loan money to nonpayers. Or thinking about not voting for polticians in the UK and the EU who wanted to tax and spend more.

Getting Off the Hamster Wheel


Not one of Kevin’s best – though I suppose I would say that! SIG

http://c4ss.org/?p=5884

As someone who defends Paul Krugman more often than not, I know I stand out from the libertarian mainstream. But given the realities of the form of state capitalism we live under — an essentially corporatist system whose resemblances to the “free market” are mostly coincidental — I find the Keynesians have it right when it comes to analyzing the causes of the Great Recession.

Those on the Right who think the problem is that the rich lack money to “invest in jobs” are living in a dream world. No, the rich invested money in Ponzi schemes like the real estate bubble precisely because they had more capital on their hands than they could find productive ways to invest. The economy was already plagued with excess industrial capacity that could barely be utilized, even with the level of demand revved up by debt on bubble-inflated equity. The rich already have more money than they’re willing to invest, because no sane person would hire people to produce more stuff in an environment where there are fewer employed people out there buying stuff — and the purchasing power of those who are employed is no longer inflated by home equity loans from ditech.

Simply put, it’s not the level of investment that’s the problem — it’s the level of demand.

So the Keynesians have it right about the proximate cause of the problem — an analysis that applies far better than that of most of the libertarian Right to the corporatist economy we actually live under, if not to a genuinely freed market. Their main shortcoming is an inability to penetrate beyond proximate causes and go to the root of the problem.

A good example is Krugman’s NYT column Wednesday on “The Output Gap.” He points to an estimated gap between actual and potential GDP, resulting from a shortfall in aggregate demand, of $903 billion for the coming year. So far, so good.

What he fails to note is that not everything that adds a dollar to GDP is good. A lot of GDP amounts, in the language of Frederic Bastiat, to the cost of replacing broken windows. A lot of the GDP, at its height, resulted from subsidized waste and planned obsolescence. So, with all due respect to Krugman, most of the missing output he points to is shoddy crap designed to fall apart in order to keep the industrial capacity fully utilized, and the demand for it was fueled entirely by people going into debt to keep buying that shoddy crap.

There’s no way of getting around the fact that, as our economy is currently structured under state capitalism, a large share of people are employed making stuff that’s worthless. And there’s simply no way to avoid a drastic decrease in nominal GDP and employment figures short of subsidizing pathological behavior to keep people consuming.

Krugman is entirely correct in arguing that, as the economy is currently structured, there is no way to achieve full employment other than government spending to make up the demand shortfall. But there’s no plausible scenario in which the economy, once kick-started by Keynesian pump-priming (if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor), gets going on a self-sustaining basis without continued government spending. There’s no plausible scenario where the economy ever attains the levels of demand, or nominal output, that existed three years ago.

Keynesian “aggregate demand management” will work this year, if the government runs a $1 trillion deficit. But the economy will slip back into depression if the budget is balanced next year. So the old Keynesian model, in which the government ran a deficit in bad times and paid it back by running a surplus in good times, is as dead as the passenger pigeon. There are no good times, as state capitalism is currently structured, without a perpetual deficit.

So count me among the “deflationists” that Krugman routinely mocks. The material reality we face is that it takes less investment in physical capital, and fewer hours of labor, to produce what most people regard as a comfortable standard of living.

The agenda of both Bush and Obama was to prop up rent-inflated asset values, as a source of aggregate demand, and to inflate the dollars of investment and hours of labor required to produce a given unit of use-value. But the only way out, in the long run, is just the opposite: Eliminate the portion of the price of goods and services that results from artificial scarcity rents, so that the average person can live comfortably with a shorter work week.

In the short run, Keynesianism is the only way to prevent the collapse of state capitalism. But in the long run, state capitalism is unsustainable. The only way out is to go beyond state capitalism.

In the end, we’ve got to find some way off the hamster wheel.

Homebrew Industrial Revolution Now in Kindle Format


by Kevin Carson

Homebrew Industrial Revolution Now in Kindle Format (Update)Update: Homebrew Industrial Revolution is once again available in Kindle format. This time I uploaded it in .doc format, so unfortunately it’s no longer a facsimile version. I don’t have an ereader, so can’t vouch for the readability of this one either. If you do purchase one and it’s as unreadable as the last version, please return it immediately and notify me. I’ll consider it the end of my experiment with Kindle.

In addition, good news from Steve Herrick, who has produced an epub version of it.

And as always, it will continue to be available in free pdf format right here:

http://mutualist.blogspot.com/

Politically incorrect film reviews – Made in Dagenham


by Robert Henderson
http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/?p=607

Made in Dagenham
General release 2010
Directed by Nigel Cole.

Main cast: Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Kenneth Cranham, Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, Jamie Winston, Andrea Riseborough and Geraldine James.

This is a piece of childishly crude feminist propaganda, a fact which has (sigh) inevitably guaranteed it glowing reviews in the mainstream British media. The film, based on a true event, is set in 1968 with the machinists at the Dagenham Ford factory (all women) up in arms at being downgraded to unskilled which provokes them to strike. They may have been justified in their anger, but the film is so one-eyed in its portrayal of the argument for equal pay that it has all the veracity of a Tom and Jerry cartoon, with the male characters in the role of Tom and the women cast as Jerry. British listeners to the BBC Radio 4 serial The Archers will have a good idea of how the men are portrayed, as weak or moronic bastards. Their roles call for very little change of facial expression as all that is required are looks of bafflement, anger , fear and condescension.

Sally Hawkins as the shop steward Rita O’Grady is marginally less irritating than she was as Poppy in Mike Leigh’s Happy Go Lucky in which she carried cheerfulness to the point of imbecility, but to balance this slight relief her character of Rita is even more unbelievable. She begins as a neurotically nervous cockney factory hand who transmogrifies overnight, in heroically unconvincing fashion, into the leader of the women after their original shop steward Connie (Geraldine James) becomes terminally distracted by her personal life. (This involves a tiresome sub-plot revolving round Connie and her husband George (Roger Lloyd-Pack) who is, yes, you have guessed it, useless because of his experiences in bombers in the war, the feminist sub-text being the suffering of women lumbered with a man )

With the exception of the union convener Albert Passingham (Bob Hoskins), the men routinely behave in a male chauvinist fashion along the lines of “don’t you worry your pretty little head about it”. As for Albert, he might best be described as a Quisling in the feminist cause. It is one thing to believe in equal pay, quite another to be indecently gleeful when the machinists’ strike brings the entire Ford factory to a halt and puts thousands of men out of work.

Miranda Richardson as Barbara Castle has the most cringeworthy scenes, either humiliating two of her senior civil servants (played by Joseph Kloska and Miles Jupp) who literally cower before her, fraternising in sisterly solidarity with the Dagenham women’s representatives or haranguing Harold Wilson (a rather feeble effort by John Sessions).

There are modern feminist stereotypes gratuitously thrown in for good measure. Andrea Riseborough plays a promiscuous girl who is taking the same view of sex as men (and thus becoming in feministspeak empowered) and Jamie Winstone is a wannabe model who eventually has to choose between Ford giving her a break into modelling and remaining true to the strikers. Guess which she chooses. Yes, that’s right, it’s support the strikers and go back to machining after the strike is over. Thus sisterly solidarity is verified.

The working class male is not spared parody or lecturing. Rita’s husband Eddie (Daniel Mays) is besieged with clichés as he is shown struggling with household chores while Rita is off on union business. He is also a target for stern feminist lectures. He tells Rita he is not happy with her going off on union business all the time. He is accused of trying to keep her in her place. He has the temerity to suggest that it might not be all for the best that the factory has been brought to halt by the machinists strike putting thousands of male breadwinners out of work. He is told sternly that he is being unreasonable. At his wit’s end, Eddie makes a heartfelt inarticulate plea to Rita by pointing out that he is a good husband who works, doesn’t go out on the booze, beat the children or hit her. This provokes a short denunciation worthy of a Soviet commissar as his wife shrieks that such behaviour should be the male norm. Rita then heads off on yet another union trip. The saga ends with Eddie making a Maoist-style confession of fault as he catches up with her as she addresses the TUC conference.

Monty Taylor (Kenneth Cranham) as an old-style union fixer, a man in favour of compromise and perhaps complicity with management , and all too fond of his expenses. He is cast firmly in the role as the enemy within the feminist camp for not being rigidly aggressive and unreasonable. As he dealt in moral greys rather than blacks and whites, he did bear a vague resemblance to a real human being. It was by far the best performance in the film.

Unambiguously risible is the relationship between Rita and Lisa (Rosamund Pike) the wife of the managing director of Ford in Britain Peter Hopkins (Rupert Graves). Lisa is decidedly posh and wealthy, yet strangely her son goes to the same school as Rita’s boy, which is where they meet. Not only that , but the two women rapidly form a mutual admiration society with Lisa at one point arriving on Rita’s council flat doorstep to assure her that having obtained a first in history from Oxford , she had always wanted to know from someone who was making history (in this case Rita) what it was like to make history. (I must confess I could not stifle a guffaw at this point).

Poor Lisa is also subjected to a second scene which could only provoke derision. Ford of America send over an executive (Richard Schiff as Robert Tooley) to sort things out. Tooley goes to dinner at the Hopkins’ house where he is treated to a lecture by Lisa about the iniquity of Ford’s treatment of the machinists. Her husband Peter unsurprisingly shuffles her off to the kitchen to stop her talking. This is portrayed as an outrageous side-lining of Lisa as having nothing useful to say because she as a woman. Any normal human being would interpret as a man not wanting his wife to queer his pitch with his boss.

What the film failed to address in any meaningful fashion was the social circumstances of the time. This was an age before it was thought reasonable for women to be single mothers or for a man and a woman to set up home without being married. The norm was for couples to be married with the man as the breadwinner. If the woman worked it was a bonus but not considered essential. That being so it was quite reasonable for the men in the film to believe that the prime good was for the male wage to be put before that of the female. Yet when this idea was raised by the odd character in the film it was treated as absurd. In 1968 it was the norm. There was no conception within the film that in the social circumstances of the time the men might have had a point. These were working class people who relied on their pay just to survive from Monday to Monday. Nor was there an attempt to reflect on what 40 years of feminism have wrought; no questioning of whether women with children working would be a be a long term good or the fact that we now have a world in which it is impossible for large swathes of the population not to be able to afford to have a family life without the woman working.

A shame that a strong cast was wasted on such ludicrous stuff.

Smarter Protectionist Demagogues, Please


by Kevin Carson

http://c4ss.org/?p=5879

For years, I’ve had to listen to bilious rhetoric about “anti-Americanism,” “treason” and the like from the Legion and Dittoheads. Now I get to enjoy the same kind of posturing from “Progressives” — with Keith Olbermann, Lawrence O’Donnell and their ilk sounding like a bunch of know-nothing Republicans.

The latest case in point is Ian Fletcher (“LIbertarianism, the new anti-Americanism,” Huffington Post, Jan. 19), writing in criticism of an article by Don Boudreaux.

Fletcher quotes a very short snippet from Boudreaux to the effect that an increase in the economic well-being of a South Korean is as worthy of celebration as an improvement for a South Carolinian (“Another Open Letter to Ian Fletcher,” Cafe Hayek, Jan. 9).

Of course Fletcher eschews any context, like Boudreaux’s remarks on the long-term benefit to American workers from increased productivity and better and cheaper goods. No, he prefers to keep things simple (even at the cost of folding, spindling and mutilating the truth): libertarians “just don’t care” about Americans.

I would contest a couple of Fletcher’s unstated premises:

First — a premise that requires no small amount of selective quotation to read into Boudreaux’s comments — that globalization does, in fact, benefit foreign workers at the expense of American ones. I hear the same meme a lot from the anti-globalization Right: globalization is some sort of altruistic “socialist” movement to dismantle the American economy for the benefit of the Third World.

But it’s arguable that globalization benefits transnational corporations at the expense of both American and Third World workers. The TNCs are in the position of a toll-keeper on a bridge separating two groups of workers, take a cut every time one worker exchanges her labor for another’s. Both Third World and American workers would be better off, in most cases, with relocalized economies in which the goods they consume are produced by small-scale manufacturers close to where they live.

Which leads to Fletcher’s second false premise — one that he shares with Boudreaux to some extent: That globalization is, in fact, something that results from “free market” or “libertarian” policies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Globalization is not something that results spontaneously from the free market, if states do nothing to prevent it. The corporate global economy is the product of massive collusion between big government and big business.

“Free trade” does not, as Fletcher alleges in an earlier column, promote greater income inequality within countries. Corporate globalization may well do so — but corporate globalization is not free trade.

The centerpiece of the neoliberal fake “free trade” agenda, a central provision in every so-called “Free Trade Agreement,” is what’s euphemistically called “strong intellectual property [sic] protections.” IP law plays the same protectionist role for global corporations that tariffs used to play for the old national industrial corporations. IP law is the central means by which transnational corporate headquarters are able to retain control of outsourced manufacturing in job shops all over the world, and charge a brand-name markup of many hundreds of percent — in effect standing as parasitic toll-keepers between Chinese workers and American consumers. So the neoliberal “free trade” agenda is really as protectionist as Smoot-Hawley.

For decades, American foreign policy has protected Third World landed oligarchies against left-wing land reform movements, in effect enforcing the artificial land titles of haciendados and other feudal ruling classes at the expense of the rightful owners actually working the land. It has empowered such landed oligarchies to reenact the Enclosures of early modern Britain, driving peasants off the land and leaving them no choice but to enter the wage labor market on whatever terms are offered by foreign capital.

The World Bank, in collusion with Third World elites, has mainly undertaken projects to create subsidized road and utility infrastructure without which offshored industry would not be profitable — and then used the resulting debt in much the same manner as a company store, to coerce local governments into “structural adjustment” deals by which state property is “privatized” in collusion with crony capitalists.

So corporate globalization, despite all the rhetorical trappings of “free trade,” is statist to the core.

Considering the uncharitability of the motives Fletcher attributes to libertarians — painting the entire movement with a broad brush as “selfish” shills for big business interests — his own agenda might warrant closer examination. Fletcher is an Adjunct Fellow with a hardcore protectionist outfit called the U.S. Business and Industry Council. Despite all the talk about outsourcing and American jobs, the central function of trade barriers is just this: To protect the large American corporation from competition by compelling the American worker to purchase the corporation’s product on its own terms. The tariff used to be called the “Mother of Cartels” for good reason.

So before Fletcher accuses libertarians of carrying water for big business, maybe he should put down those buckets.

24 hours of flying


Drug War Kabuki Theatre


by Kevin Carson

http://c4ss.org/?p=5815

In 1984, the three global superpowers of Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia were in a constantly shifting pattern of wars and alliances, two against the other. Oceania was always at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia. But as described by the fictional Emanuel Goldstein, the very distinction between war and alliance was meaningless. It was the state of permanent economic and military mobilization, and the psychic benefits of an ever-present foreign “threat,” that propped up the totalitarian system of domestic power in each country. The three superpowers were really de facto allies that propped each other up through the pretense of perpetual war, like three sheaves of wheat.

The ostensible opposing sides in the so-called Drug War have a similar relationship. In the real world, the private drug cartels derive their power from the existence of a lucrative black market which the state plays a central role in maintaining. And the state itself is just another drug cartel which profits from controlling — rather than eliminating — the drug trade.

You can be sure that, if anyone presented a plausible threat of actually ending the production of all illegal narcotics, the black ops people in the national security state would “neutralize” them, and that right quickly. Without the drug trade, how would the CIA fund its global network of death squads and other criminal thugs around the world?

In a dipolomatic cable published by Wikileaks (quoted in an article by Ginger Thompson and Scott Shane at the New York Times — “Cables Portray Expanded Reach of Drug Agency,” Dec. 25), we see a long list of examples of the Drug Enforcement Agency acting — not so much to eradicate illegal drugs — but to determine the balance of power between government and private drug cartels.

When you look at the “friendly” governments the U.S. colludes with, and the drug cartels it’s allegedly trying to suppress, it’s hard — as with the men and the pigs in Animal Farm — to tell the difference between them.

The Panamanian president presented the American ambassador with a demand “that the D.E.A. go after his political enemies: ‘I need help with tapping phones.’” An attempted prosecution of cocaine traffickers in Sierra Leone “was almost upended by the attorney general’s attempt to solicit $2.5 million in bribes.” The “biggest narcotics kingpin” in Guinea “turned out to be the president’s son, and diplomats discovered that before the police destroyed a huge narcotics seizure, the drugs had been replaced by flour.”

So the D.E.A. and the friendly governments it works with can be most accurately described as drug cartels in their own right. Their goal is not to stamp out the drug trade as such, but to control the terms on which it takes place.

Al Giordano of Narco News Bulletin argues (“Telling the Whole Truth About the ‘Drug War,’” Sept. 22, 2010) that the very term “drug cartel” is an inappropriate label for private drug traffickers. Unlike genuine cartels (for example OPEC), the drug traffickers can’t control drug supplies. They depend entirely on helpful governments like the United States and its allies to control supply and drive up prices. And the real drug profiteers are not the common organized criminals who fight the turf wars on the street, but the politicians and bankers living the high life on laundered drug money. “The real bosses of the illegal drug trade wear suits and ties, give big donations to all the political parties and their candidates, and get invitations to state dinners from Los Pinos to the White House.”

So it’s safe to say the drug cartels don’t see the D.E.A.’s activities as a threat.

Back in 2009 Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the chief of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and worth an estimated $1 billion, “officially thanked United States politicians for making sure that drugs remain illegal.” In a heartfelt expression of thanks, he stated: “I couldn’t have gotten so stinking rich without George Bush, George Bush Jr., Ronald Reagan, even El Presidente Obama, none of them have the cajones to stand up to all the big money that wants to keep this stuff illegal. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say, Gracias amigos, I owe my whole empire to you.” (“Mexican Drug Lord Officially Thanks American Lawmakers for Keeping Drugs Illegal,” Huffington Post, March 29, 2009).

So to all you drug lords out there: Have you thanked a cop today?

Penny’s dreadful


By the Devil

Penny’s dreadful It will hardly be a surprise that, like The Appalling Strangeness, I had a bit of a giggle when Guido highlighted the rampant hypocrisy inherent in Laurie Penny’s advert for a researcher.

The job is to “find statistics and quotes and case studies, talk over what I’m writing and hunt down sources and stories for me, and keep meticulous notes of all sources in academic format.” For this the lowly researcher will be paid the grand sum of £500 for 85 hours work. As a fearless left-wing campaigner for higher living standards for the workers surely Laurie must know that £5.88 per hour is short of the minimum wage and far from the “living wage” she publicly supports (£7.85). Apparently the job would “suit someone who is currently out of work, working part-time, or parenting”. What planet is she on that she thinks parents can afford childcare on £5.88 per hour?

Even more controversial than the flouting of minimum wage legislation is her contempt for sexual equality legislation. She clearly states: “I’m probably looking for a female researcher”. The EHRC clearly says: “Stating a preference for a man or woman in a job advertisement is unlawful sex discrimination unless the requirements of the particular job mean that it is lawful to employ only a man or a woman”. Form an orderly queue…

All jolly hilarious but, to be fair to Laurie, she does point out that the research could be done at home and, in the main, through the internet—as such, it’s not as though a parent would necessarily need to get childcare.

Although, of course, if one is not working alongside the great Penny Red, then it is going to be extremely difficult for Laurie to make good on her offer to “make you tea at any hour”.

What really grips my shit though, is that darling Penny says that “this will be a lump sum coming out of my own not terribly well-stuffed pocket” and that she wishes she…

… could afford to pay the living wage for this rather than just minimum wage, but that’s not an option for me at the moment.

First, £500 divided by 85 hours works out at £5.88—not the minimum wage of £5.93. So, not much of a problem: you just need to work fewer hours. After all, Penny is paying a lump sum for a certain amount of work to be done, not a certain number of hours.

However, if Laurie Penny cannot afford to pay £7.85 an hour, why the living fuck does she think that anyone else can afford to? Does she think that every else’s pockets are considerably more stuffed than hers? Is she, as I suspect, one of these utter morons who imagines that companies—or, indeed, individuals—have vast amounts of magic money that they can just splurge around with gay abandon?

Yes, she probably is.

Because, like most socialists, she will be unable to connect her impecuniousness with anyone else’s. After all, in Laurie’s world, everyone is considerably richer than her, eh?

Second, as I did with the equally delectable Kezia Dugdale, it is worth looking at this “living wage”—because it is a complete and utter nonsense.

  1. A person working a 37.5 hour week on the minimum wage earns £11,563.50 yearly. Once tax is deducted, that person takes home £9,903.02.
  2. A person working a 37.4 hour week on the “living wage” earns £15,307.50 and, after tax, takes home £12,486.38.

As Timmy has repeatedly pointed out, we could practically eliminate the difference between the minimum wage and the living wage simply by extorting less money from the poor.

Then we have the living wage enthusiasts, those who would insist that wages should come up to the £7.60 an hour which constitutes the pre-tax income needed to live not in poverty as defined by the public through the Joseph Rowntree Trust. That’s 58% of median wage.

Now, I’ve long contended that there’s a trick being missed here. The difference between £5.91 an hour and having a personal allowance for tax and NI of £12,000 and £7.60 an hour under the current tax system is, for post tax income, if I remember my calculations properly, something like 3 pence an hour. So we can achieve our (joint, yes, I desire it too) desire of taking the working poor out of poverty simply by not taxing them so damn much.

Quite. Plus, of course, we will avoid all of those unfortunate undesired consequences discussed in Timmy’s post.

Do we see her backing lower government spending in order to afford lower taxes for the poor?

Do we fuck.

What we do see is Laurie campaigning for everyone else to be forced to pay a certain wage level, whilst crying crocodile tears because she, herself, cannot—or, more likely, will not.

Why doesn’t she follow the example of her favourite Labour government and put it all on someone else’s credit card…?
TheDevilsKitchen?d=yIl2AUoC8zA TheDevilsKitchen?d=dnMXMwOfBR0 TheDevilsKitchen?i=qrM7Ys-cM3Q:Bw1FFtrm9xs:V_sGLiPBpWU TheDevilsKitchen?d=qj6IDK7rITs TheDevilsKitchen?i=qrM7Ys-cM3Q:Bw1FFtrm9xs:gIN9vFwOqvQ

The problem with education… by His Magnificence the Devil


The problem with education…Via Timmy, here’s the teaching unions’ attitude to education[Emphasis mine.]

Unions said a proposed review of primary and secondary school subjects would render the curriculum unfit for the needs of a modern education system.

They insisted that a renewed focus on detailed subject knowledge was “elitist” and would alienate thousands of children, particularly those from the poorest backgrounds.

So, knowing about stuff in anything greater than the most cursory detail is “elitist”, is it?

And poor people cannot possibly be interested in learning because, presumably, they want to ensure that they and their children remain poor for ever…?

These people have got to go.

The Pretence of “Austerity” by David d’Amato


http://c4ss.org/?p=5865

The New York Times editorial staff congratulated the State of Illinois last week for “waking up” where it had previously “pretended that it had not fallen off a budgetary cliff.” The Times opined in response to Illinois’s income tax increase, a measure enacted as a reaction to the state’s $15 billion budget deficit in the hope of staving off a systemic breakdown.

When the Times submits that the tax hike “by itself is unlikely to send businesses packing” — that a “stable environment” is Big Business’ ranking concern — it’s broaching an important but latent side of this story. Though it is without question true, as the editors of the Times seem to acknowledge, that ingrained businesses will easily absorb their heavier tax burden, that fact doesn’t necessarily affirm the wisdom of the tax hike as passed.

Rather than a “necessary medicine” or a step in the right direction that will ultimately benefit Illinois’s working class, the tax won’t serve workers, who are already leaden with Corporate America’s operating costs. As anarchists of the free market left, we oppose all taxation as the elite’s polite term for self-serving theft, but when the state gets “serious about fixing the budget” it never calls for Big Business to pay its own way.

The effects of taxes like Illinois’s fall inordinately on labor and on small businesses — on productive members of society — engirdling markets for the towering actors that prevail in state-capitalism. So while Illinois raises its income tax and Jerry Brown lays it on thick about “painful” budgets, we can be quite sure that the country’s Boss Men won’t feel the pain.

Incredibly, just as working taxpayers are covering corporate expenses — and getting ripped off as a “thank you” — we get to hear from the state and its surrogates that the common man doesn’t pay enough. As Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s On Point, phrased the question, “Is this the end of the free ride?” But who, we have to wonder, is actually getting this free ride? The apocryphal account circulated by Ashbrook and the supposed “responsible centrists” extends from the state elite’s myth that the masses live off of the brilliance of a productive few.

The truth of state capitalism, though, is that it harnesses and exploits the labor and aptitude of the many to fatten a parasitic few. Working people lay the foundational infrastructure of state-capitalism, allowing its top-heavy imbalances to carry on in the face of countervailing economic realities. “The State,” explained Luigi Marco Bassani and Carlo Lottieri, “is declining … because of its internal contradictions.” And we’re witnessing the verification of Bassani and Lottieri’s thesis in Illinois and in state budgets around the country.

Contrary to the casuistic claim of Ashbrook’s guest, the Pew Center on the States’ Susan K. Urahn, the public is not “getting

more government than it’s paying for”; indeed, it’s getting a whole lot less, with the state’s real services going to the plutocratic magnates who feast from its economic system. The state’s other, more noticeable services, things like police services and public education, are hardly worth what people pay for them, offloaded onto us at monopoly prices.

But the real cost to the public lies in the taxes we never see outright, the high and unnecessary costs we pay as a result of misspent resources and the lack of real competition. This is exactly the outcome that business wants and the state is happy to indulge it, delivering a service of immeasurable worth.

True austerity would mean requiring the giants of American capitalism to carry their costs, to pay for the services they receive. For politicians and mainstream commentators, however, such a “radical” prescription isn’t now and won’t ever be on the table. Anarchists want to “decommission” the state, to allow free people in voluntary associations to take its place and dispense with its “Society of Status” economy.

Sean’s Latest for VDare


This is not the article as I wrote it. But it is a model of hw to edit one of my long screeds into something almost punchy.

http://www.vdare.com/gabb/110119_mill.htm

Sean with His New Book


The Tragedy of the Euro – Philipp Bagus – Mises Institute


 

The Tragedy of the Euro – Philipp Bagus – Mises Institute

Stephan Kinsella on Intellectual Property


http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/econn/econn113.htm
http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/econn/econn113.pdf

Intellectual Freedom and Learning Versus Patent and Copyright
Stephan Kinsella
Economic Notes No. 113

ISSN 0267-7164 (print)
ISSN 2042-2547 (online)
ISBN
9781856376273

An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance,
Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, Mayfair, London W1J 6HL.

© 2011: Libertarian Alliance; Stephan Kinsella

Stephan Kinsella (nskinsella; www.stephankinsella.com) is a registered patent attorney and General Counsel, Applied Optoelectronics, Inc. (ao-inc.com); Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute (www.mises.org); Founder and Editor, Libertarian Papers (www.libertarianpapers.org); and Founder and Director, Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom (www.c4sif.org). LL.M., King’s College London; JD, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University; MSEE, BSEE, Louisiana State University. This paper is based on a speech of the same title delivered 6th November 2010, at the 2010 Students for Liberty Texas Regional Conference, University of Texas, Austin; audio and video available at http://www.stephankinsella.com/media/. All of the articles cited herein may be found at http://www.stephankinsella.com/publications/. For more extensive treatment of some of the ideas dealt with in this article, see the author’s monograph Against Intellectual Property (Mises 2008), and his articles “The Case Against IP: A Concise Guide,” Mises Daily (4th September 2009), “Intellectual Property and Libertarianism,” Mises Daily (17th November 2009), and “What Libertarianism Is,” Mises Daily (21st August 2009).

The views expressed in this publication are those of its author, and not necessarily those
of the Libertarian Alliance, its Committee, Advisory Council or subscribers.

FOR LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY

I’ve given several speeches about intellectual property (IP). Tonight I’ll take a somewhat different approach to the subject. Let me ask you a general question. Why are you here at this great (government) school? It’s to have fun, right? But it is also to learn; that is the basic purpose of education: to learn. To be sure, we learn things all the time. A university is a more formalized way of learning, but learning as a general matter is very important. This may sound like a trite observation. We make these comments all the time: “Education is important. Learning is good.”

The Role of Learning and Knowledge in Human Action

But this leads me to the focus of my talk, which is about learning and the importance of information and knowledge, and copying and emulation on the market and in life in general. So let’s think about how learning is important and how it’s used in everyday life.

Ludwig von Mises, the famous Austrian economist, the father of modern Austrian economics, systematized the study of human action and gave it a name: praxeology. This is the study of the logic of human action. Mises analyzes action in very simple, elementary terms. He breaks it down. I want you to think about it. If you haven’t heard of praxeology, don’t be daunted by the expression. The idea is to look at what the components of human action are; what we do every day, all the time.1

The Structure of Human Action: Means and Ends

When a human acts, what is he doing? He looks around the world. He chooses an end or a goal that he wants to achieve, some purpose of his, something he wants to happen, something that would not happen without his active intervention in the world. So he chooses one action over another. He chooses his highest value action or end, and demonstrates this preference by his action.

So we have a chosen end, or goal. But how does an actor achieve the goal he has chosen? He has to select certain means. This is what Mises and the Austrians call means: things that are physically efficacious, things that let you causally interfere in the world to achieve some desired goal.

Let’s take an example. You’re all eating now so let’s take a food example. Let’s say you’re hungry. So you say, “I know I like cake. I know I like chocolate cake. I think I’ll try to acquire a chocolate cake.”

You can see right off the bat that knowledge has entered the picture; the knowledge of what you like. Maybe you’ve learned this from experience, but knowledge is already playing a role in your decisions and actions. It has informed your choice of ends.

So how do you achieve your end? How do you get the chocolate cake? Well, you might obtain a recipe for cake and get the ingredients and tools to make the cake: mixing bowl, eggs, flour, spoon, kitchen, oven. Then you spend some time and effort and make a cake. You make that cake instead of watching television or getting your car washed or changing your clothes or making a vanilla cake.

This illustrates that human action is the purposeful use of means to achieve a desired end or result.2 Notice that the means you employ have to be physical or scarce resources, things that are real things in the world, things that you can affect, like the mixing bowl and the oven.3 This is what you employ to achieve your goal. The Austrians, especially Mises, go into the logical structure of human action, which we just discussed, and show that it implies so many things.4 For example, it implies opportunity cost. You choose this goal instead of the other ends. The things that you did not choose are the opportunity cost of your action.

Action also presupposes causality. You have to believe there is a way to achieve your result by manipulating the world in accordance with time-invariant causal laws. The structure of human action also has the concept of profit and loss built in, which is not only a monetary concept, but a psychic concept. Not psychic in the Shirley MacLaine sense, but psychic in the sense of pertaining to mental phenomenon, such as value and ends. For example, if you achieve your goal, which is to obtain a nice chocolate cake, and if it is as you envisioned it, and if you enjoyed it like you expected that you would, then you’ve achieved a profit. If it turns out to be a failure or you don’t enjoy it for some reason, then there is a loss.5

Knowledge as a Guide to Action

Where does this leave the role of learning? Learning is important because it is how we acquire information. Information is important because it gives us knowledge of how the world is. The more knowledge you have, the wider is your universe of choices. You have more ends to choose from, for example.6

Let’s say one person only knows the possibility of making a vanilla cake or a chocolate cake. If he learns that it’s possible to make a coconut cake, now he can choose between three possible goals. So his knowledge of the ends can expand and give him a wider array of choices.

Importantly, you also have to have knowledge of means and causal laws of the world because this informs your choice of means. To be able to choose a given end, you also need to know how to achieve it. You need to have a recipe.7 I don’t mean only food recipes. A recipe in this sense is just a general way to do something by exploiting resources in the world to achieve some end.

You know, for example, that if you take an egg, some flour, and chocolate, mix them in a certain way, and bake it, then, after a while, you have something that is edible. So the role of knowledge in action is to guide action. It is not the means of action. For example, you might know five different ways of getting the cake you desire. One may be to steal the cake. It’s immoral, but it’s a possible way. One may be to bake the cake. Another may be to purchase the cake. Yet another is to hire someone to bake the cake for you. So, in other words, the more knowledge you have, the wider the universe of ends and means that you have to draw on. This is the reason why learning is good.

Consider the great creators in the past—Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Bach, say—they drew upon knowledge that they acquired from the culture they were born into. Even the greatest of inventors, innovators, and creators didn’t think of everything on their own.

Scarcity, the Free Market, and Abundance

Now, let’s now think about the role of scarcity in the free market. Given the above-mentioned understanding of what human action is, this very simple structural view of human action—that we use knowledge to guide our choices of ends and of what means to use to achieve the chosen ends—what is the role of external resources? That is, external objects, scarce things in the world? The role of these things is to be used by men to achieve their ends. Knowledge guides your action. It helps you choose what you want to do.

So reflect on the purpose of the free market system. What is its purpose, its role? What is its function or result? It is to help us achieve abundance. We live in a world of scarcity. We don’t live in the Garden of Eden.8 We live in a world where survival is not easy. It’s difficult. We have to find ways to survive because there is scarcity. There aren’t bananas hanging from every tree, enough for everyone to survive off of, but the free market operates to unleash creative energy and to allow tremendous productivity.

If you think about it, although we have scarcity and there is nothing we can do about this fundamental fact of the universe, the free market, in a way, helps us fight and overcome this situation.9 The thing is, the only way you can do this is by having a free market. A free market has to be built on private property principles. The reason we have to have private property is because these things are scarce. Economists call them rivalrous because you can have rivalry or fighting over them. For example, for a productive use to be made of the spoon, in the cake example, someone has to own the spoon. Someone has to be the one person who has the right to control that spoon. How do other people know that a given resource is owned, and who owns it? Property rights set up objective borders. They tell you who owns things. They’re visible and observable.10

This doesn’t mean there is no crime. This doesn’t mean that everybody respects these property rights. There can be thieves, but at least with thieves we can theoretically deal with them with crime prevention techniques. Paraphrasing Hans-Herman Hoppe, thieves and criminals are just a technical problem.11 People who want to live in harmony and use these resources productively have to have a system of property rights to allocate the use of the spoon.

Sometimes it’s said that libertarians believe in property rights and that other political systems do not uphold property rights. This is true in a sense, if you mean property rights in a particular way, but if by “property rights” you mean the right to control a scarce resource, which is what property—ownership—is,12 then every system on the face of the earth upholds some form of property rights. Every system on the earth will have a legal rule that says who is the owner of this platform, who is the owner of that factory, who is the owner of your paycheck.

For example, in the modern quasi-socialist welfare state that we live in today, the ownership rule is that the government owns about half of my paycheck. It’s clear there are property rights. It’s just that I only have about half and the government has the other half.

So in every society the legal system assigns an owner to a given contestable resource. What’s unique about libertarianism is not that we believe in property rights; everyone does. Rather, it’s our particular property rights scheme, which is basically the spinning out of the Lockean idea that the person who owns a given contested resource is the first user of it, or someone that he sold or gave the property to. The purpose of property rights is to permit us to peacefully, productively, and cooperatively use these things that are, unfortunately, scarce and cannot be used by more than one person at a time.13

Cooperation, Emulation, and Competition

I don’t know if all of you have heard of the Misesian “calculation argument,” but in the 1920s, Ludwig von Mises published a seminal paper that explained why socialism cannot work, why economics is literally impossible under full-fledged socialism.14 The reason is there is no way to compare competing projects unless you can do so in cardinal, numerical terms. It’s a very simple idea. You can’t compare building a bridge to planting an orchard. They’re not comparable units. Mises realized that in a free market system with money prices, everything resolves in terms of money. You can compare with money prices. The problem in socialism is you don’t have real money prices. You don’t have real money prices because there is no private property in the means of production. This is the basic insight of Mises as to exactly why a private property system permits the free market to be prosperous and to generate wealth and to fight this condition of scarcity.

The market is producing more things all the time. It doesn’t ever eliminate scarcity, but it fights it. If we had the government off of our backs, you could probably buy a Mercedes for $500. You could buy a microwave oven for a penny. It would not be infinitely plentiful, but it would be so plentiful everyone could have what they wanted.15

What are the key elements of a free market economy that allow this to happen? One is cooperation. The free market, by setting up property borders, allows people to cooperate instead of fighting over a resource.

It also gives rise to competition. My friend Jeff Tucker, of the Mises Institute, related to me a really good formulation of what competition is that was given to him by Larry Reed who is now the president of FEE, the Foundation for Economic Education. Reed’s formulation is “competition is the striving for excellence in the service of others.” That’s true. That’s what it is. You try to constantly improve what you’re making to try to please the customer. This gives rise to a relentless effort on the part of the people in the market to lower cost, to make things more efficiently, to serve customers the best you can because you’re in competition with others.

But we’ve left out one thing. Remember we talked about human action. A key aspect of human action is knowledge. You have to have knowledge to guide your actions. So how does this relate to the market? What’s the role of knowledge in human action, in the market context? It’s emulation.16 If you see someone successful in the market, you emulate them. This is how competition arises. You see someone attracting customers. Let’s say some guy invents a slushee stand and he’s getting a lot of customers. You might build your own slushee stand to compete with him. You copied his idea. So what? Customers are better off. Now the original guy might improve his slushee stand. He might offer more flavors.

This relentless striving to please the customer benefits everyone. This is the process of the market and it presupposes the idea of copying information, learning information, emulating. Competition means you can compete with someone, but you have to respect their property rights. You cannot trespass against them. You can’t steal your competition’s property, but you can “steal” their customers because they don’t own their customers.

Let’s tie this back to the structure of human action. Remember, we said human action uses means and it is guided by knowledge. So the means of action need to be privately owned only because they’re scarce. That’s why we have to have property in those things. Now, you can’t say scarcity is a bad thing, as it’s part of the nature of reality, but it’s definitely a challenge. We humans have to try to overcome scarcity. The free market allows us to create wealth.

Creation of Wealth versus Creation of Property

Now, I want you to think about this for a second. What does it mean to create wealth? Does it mean to actually create an object out of thin air? No. It means to make things that you own more valuable. That increases wealth.17

Imagine two people engaging in a simple exchange. I give you my goat and you give me some eggs from your chickens. Was anything physically created? No. There was just an exchange. But as we know from very basic Austrian economics that one transaction increased the sum total of wealth in society because I wouldn’t have given you my goat if I didn’t want the eggs more. So after the exchange, I’m better off and the same thing for the other guy.18

So just by allowing people freedom and respecting property rights, you can increase wealth, but the key thing to recognize is that wealth is not an object. Value is not a substance. Things are more valuable because they’re in a different shape. They’re more valuable to customers, for example. When we talk about creating wealth, what we mean is we are rearranging things that we already own, rearranging scarce resources to make them more valuable to customers or to yourself.

So, yes, you use your creativity, you use labor to do these things. Labor and creativity can be said to create wealth, but that is just another way of saying that one’s labor and actions are guided by knowledge to transform things that you own already to make them more valuable to you or to others.

I emphasize this because there’s an insidious argument that is commonly used, even by libertarians, by proponents of this idea of intellectual property. The argument goes like this.

Oh sure, I agree with you that if you find something in the state of nature that was never owned, you’re the owner. Finders keepers. Yes, that is one source of ownership. And sure, I agree that if someone transfers something to you by contract, which can include gifts, a contractual consensual voluntary transfer, that is another way you can come to own something.19 That’s another way of acquiring property rights.

So, they admit that we’re right on two things: you can come to own some scarce resource by finding it or buying it.

But they say if you create it, you also own it. It just seems natural. We’re used to thinking about this because what do we say in America? “You make money.” Now, all that really means is you had a profit from a certain entrepreneurial endeavor. These metaphors can mislead us if we’re not careful.20 You don’t really make money. (Now the Fed makes money, but that’s a different story! They don’t make real money. They make these artificial tickets we have now by printing them.)

Then they will say there are three ways to acquire ownership of things: you can find it, you can buy it, or you can create it. If you create it you should own it. It’s natural. If there is a thing that someone created, and it’s got to have an owner, well I guess it’s got to be the creator. He’s got the best connection to it. It just makes sense, right? Then they’ll say, well, who created that song? Didn’t you create that song? Who created that painting? Didn’t you create that painting? So, you’re the owner of it. The problem is they’re wrong. Creation is not a third means of acquiring ownership of things.

We can see it in the examples I gave already. Creation just means transforming things you own already. Think about a man who has a big chunk of marble. He owns it because he found it. He didn’t create any new ownable thing. I guess you could say he’s creative in finding it, but he’s not creative in the modern intellectual property sense. His neighbor sneaks over in the middle of the night and carves a statue out of it. Who owns the statue? Under current law, it’s indeterminate. Under libertarian law, the original guy owns it. This is a clear example that creation by the neighbor is not sufficient to give rights. It’s also not necessary since the first guy acquired ownership because he found it. So you can see that creation is neither necessary nor sufficient for property rights and things. Creation is not an independent source of ownership or property rights.

This is the mistake that is made over and over again by pro-IP libertarians. One libertarian philosopher says there are ontologically many types of things out there. Sure there are tangible things, but there are poems and movies. Why can’t we own those too?21

But what about, say, welfare rights? If rights are good, why can’t there by welfare rights? What do modern liberals say? They say, “oh, I believe in property rights, but there is “also” a right to education and a right to food. Now, of course, we libertarians already understand that the problem with this idea is that these rights are not free. They come from something else. When you have a set of rights allocated and you start giving out more rights, they have to start chipping into the previous ones recognized. They have to come from something else. Rights and obligations are correlative. If you have a right to education or welfare, someone’s got to provide it. They have to provide it out of their property. So recognizing “new” rights just amounts to a redistribution of property.

It’s the same thing with intellectual property, which is nothing but a redistribution of rights. It is a redistribution of property rights from the original owner of a thing, to someone who applied at a state agency for some kind of monopoly certificate that gives them the right to go to government courts to ask the court to point their guns at the original owner and tell them “you have to share your property with this guy, or you can’t use it in this way without this guy’s permission.” It is a way of redistributing property rights. The idea that you can just add IP rights to the set of property rights in scarce resources is a pernicious one that leads to redistribution of control that owners have over their property, to other people.

Here is what’s perverse about it. As I’ve already pointed out, the free market is working to let humans overcome scarcity. Yet, you have people who advocate intellectual property rights in the name of the market. What’s going on here? They’re actually imposing an artificial scarcity on things that are non-scarce by their nature.22 The free market is trying to overcome the problem of scarcity. These people are saying, “let’s make something that is already free and not scarce artificially scarce just like real things are.” Why would we want to do this?

Let’s imagine we had the ability to change physical laws so that you could easily duplicate a car just by looking at it. I look at your Rolls Royce and I blink my eyes and I have my own. It didn’t take anything from you. You can still drive your car around. Who would be against that? Well, the auto workers’ union would be against it I guess, but normal people wouldn’t be against this. This would be free wealth—a good thing.

Yet, we already have this idealized situation in the case of knowledge. We have an expanding base of knowledge that we have all benefited from. It is growing all the time with every succeeding generation. The idea of shackling it is crazy. Why would libertarians support the government in imposing restraint on information?

IP as Censorship and Monopoly

There was one free market economist who actually wrote for one of the free market think tanks that many of you have probably read from before. He explicitly says “patents and copyrights slow down the diffusion of new ideas for a reason: to ensure there will be more new ideas to diffuse.”23 We can debate whether he’s right about this means (slowing down the diffusion of ideas by means of state grants of monopoly privilege) achieving this end (ensuring there are more new ideas generated). I think, of course, that he’s wrong—obviously wrong—but he’s admitting that IP advocates want to slow down the spread of ideas. They want to make it more difficult to spread ideas.

There was a recent Salon magazine article about copyright in China. The magazine article’s author sort of innocently stated that “We may have more to gain, economically, from removing impediments to the widespread distribution of knowledge than from attempting to restrict them.”24 Oh really!

It should be no surprise that patent and copyright have such perverse effects. If you realize the history of these statutes, it is no surprise at all. Patents originated in the granting of monopoly privileges by monarchs. The first modern patent statue is called the Statue of Monopolies of 1623 in England. A patent was given to Sir Francis Drake, a notorious pirate, or privateer as he was euphemistically called, in the late 1500s, which authorized him to go around looting Spanish ships. The origin of patents is in privilege, monopoly, and real piracy. So all these proponents of intellectual property who point their fingers at today’s “pirates” and are against piracy, well, there is a link between piracy and intellectual property: they go hand in hand.25

Copyright’s origin is literally in censorship. Before the printing press, the state and the church found it pretty easy to control the distribution of thought. There were certain scribes who would copy books by hand. So the state and church could stop people from copying what they didn’t want copied. The printing press started to upset matters and so the state established an elaborate system of monopolies and controls over the use of printing presses. This led to the Statue of Anne in 1710 in England, is the first modern copyright statue. Actually, part of the reason that some authors in the French Revolution, and even in England, were in favor of modern copyright laws was they wanted the control back. The government was controlling whether their own works could be reproduced. It wasn’t a desire to get this monopoly from the state to go around suing people to stop them from reading their work. It was a desire just to have the ability to have it reproduced and copied.26 So the entire history of patent and copyright lies in statism. It lies in piracy—real piracy—pirates that kill people and break things, not guys that have a Jolly Roger banner on their website.

Let me give an example of a mousetrap. Let’s say some guy makes a mousetrap. He gets the idea to improve the standard mousetrap by coating it with Teflon. He figures these rat guts are sticky; they keep sticking to my mousetrap. I’ll coat it with Teflon and this will make a better mousetrap. So maybe he sells some and when he sells his mousetrap a lot of people learn about it. The realize, “Hey, it’s possible to make a mousetrap out of Teflon. It works even better.”

Let’s say I have some Teflon and a mousetrap. I improve my own mousetrap by adding Teflon to it. Now, the first guy has a patent on his Teflon-coated mousetrap. He can actually get a court order, an injunction, that tells me I cannot make this mousetrap even in the privacy of my own home or I will go to jail. This is really the force of government. So this is just an example of how patent rights literally rob people of their property rights. (Note: the patentee can do this to me even if I independently came up with the idea of a Teflon-coated mousetrap; even if I came up with it first.)27

The IP Mistake

Why did this happen? How did my property get transferred to this patentee? Ultimately, causally, it was transferred because of a mistake, a mistake in the law, a mistake in people’s thinking, a mistake in believing that ideas can be owned. Ideas cannot be owned. Ideas guide action. Means of action are scarce. Property rights are recognized in means because they’re scarce. Ideas are not scarce things. They are infinitely reproducible. The growing body of knowledge is a boon to mankind.

We need to cast off the mistakes of the past. The young libertarians—you get this. You’re immersed in the internet, digital information, easy access to online books and online information, billions of pages of information available at your fingertips, yeasty productivity, copying, emulating, file-sharing, social networking and borrowing. The movie The Social Network depicts Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, as being accused of stealing the Winklevoss twins’ idea. He was rightly outraged at the suggestion. He says, “Does a guy who makes a really good chair owe money to anyone who ever made a chair”?28

He’s right. The very idea is ridiculous. Copying information and ideas is not stealing. Learning is not stealing. Using information is not trespass. I urge you young libertarians to stay on the vanguard of intellectual freedom. Fight the shackles of patent and copyright and keep on learning.

Thank you.

Notes

(1) For further discussion of the structure of human action and its relationship to IP, see note 13 and accompanying text, et pass., of my article “Ideas Are Free: The Case Against Intellectual Property,” Mises Daily (Nov. 23, 2010).

(2) For further discussion of the nature of human action, see n.4 and accompanying text of my “Ideas Are Free”; also Stephan Kinsella & Patrick Tinsley, “Causation and Aggression,” The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 7 no. 4 (Winter 2004): 97–112.

(3) Non-scarce things are classified by Austrians as “general conditions” of action, as opposed to scarce means or goods. See Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (Mises Instiute, 4th ed., 1996), ch. 4, sec. 1, and Murray N. Rothbard, Man, Economy and State (Mises Institute 2004), ch. 1, sec. 2, both available at mises.org.

(4) See Hans-Hermann Hoppe, “Praxeology and Economic Science,” in Economic Science and the Austrian Method (Mises Institute, 1995), text following n. 18 (“All of these categories—values, ends, means, choice, preference, cost, profit and loss, as well as time and causality—are implied in the axiom of action.”); idem, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism: Economics, Politics, and Ethics (Mises Institute 2010 [1989]), p. 141; and idem, “In Defense of Extreme Rationalism: Thoughts on Donald McCloskey’s The Rhetoric of Economics,” Review of Austrian Economics 3, no. 1 (1989), p. 200; both available at hanshoppe.com/publications.

(5) See Mises, Human Action, ch. 4, sec. 4; Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, ch. 4, sec. 5.C.

(6) For related commentary, see my post “Knowledge is Power,” C4SIF Blog (Dec. 28, 2010), c4sif.org/2010/12/knowledge-is-power/ .

(7) See Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, ch. 1, sec. 8; Kinsella, “Ideas Are Free”; and Jeffrey A. Tucker & Stephan Kinsella , “Goods, Scarce and Nonscarce,” Mises Daily (Aug. 25, 2010).

(8) See Tucker & Kinsella, “Goods, Scarce and Nonscarce,” text at notes 4-5.

(9) See the concluding three paragraphs of my “The Death Throes of Pro-IP Libertarianism,” Mises Daily (July 28, 2010).

(10) See notes 23-24 and accompanying text of my “Intellectual Property and Libertarianism.”

(11) See Hans-Hermann Hoppe, “Rothbardian Ethics,” LewRockwell.com (May 20, 2002), http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe7.html (“The existence of Friday the gorilla poses for Crusoe merely a technical problem, not a moral one. Crusoe has no other choice but to learn how to successfully manage and control the movements of the gorilla just as he must learn to manage and control the inanimate objects of his environment.”); idem, Democracy: The God That Failed (Transaction, 2001), pp. 201–202.

(12) See note 4 to my “Intellectual Property and Libertarianism.”

(13) For elaboration, see my “What Libertarianism Is.”

(14) See Ludwig von Mises, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth (1920), idem, Human Action, ch. 16, secs. 1–3, and other references in Kinsella, “Knowledge vs. Calculation,” Mises Economics Blog (July 11, 2006), http://blog.mises.org/5306/knowledge-vs-calculation/

(15) See Stephan Kinsella, “How much richer would be in a free society? L. Neil Smith’s great speech,” StephanKinsella.com (Nov. 7, 2009), www.stephankinsella.com/2009/11/how-much-richer-would-be-in-a-free-society-l-neil-smiths-great-speech/

(16) See Jeffrey Tucker’s talk “The Morality of Capitalism,” FEE Freedom University (2010), http://fee.org/seminars/podcast/

(17) See “Intellectual Property and Libertarianism,” text at n. 26; and Kinsella, “Locke on IP; Mises, Rothbard, and Rand on Creation, Production, and ‘Rearranging,’” Mises Economics Blog (Sep. 29, 2010), http://blog.mises.org/14045/locke-on-ip-mises-rothbard-and-rand-on-creation-production-and-rearranging/

(18) See Murray N. Rothbard, “Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics,” Mises Daily (July 8, 2006), http://mises.org/daily/2205

(19) See Kinsella, “A Libertarian Theory of Contract: Title Transfer, Binding Promises, and Inalienability,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 17, no. 2 (Spring 2003): 11-37.

(20) See Kinsella, “Objectivist Law Prof Mossoff on Copyright; or, the Misuse of Labor, Value, and Creation Metaphors,” Mises Economics Blog (Jan. 3, 2008), http://blog.mises.org/7614/objectivist-law-prof-mossoff-on-copyright-or-the-misuse-of-labor-value-and-creation-metaphors/

(21) See Kinsella, “Owning Thoughts and Labor,” Mises Economics Blog (Dec. 11, 2006), http://blog.mises.org/6000/owning-thoughts-and-labor/

(22) Kinsella, “IP and Artificial Scarcity,” Mises Economics Blog (Dec. 3, 2009), http://blog.mises.org/11151/ip-and-artificial-scarcity/

(23) See Kinsella, “Shughart’s Defense of IP,” Mises Economics Blog (Jan. 29, 2010), http://blog.mises.org/11559/shugharts-defense-of-ip/

(24) Andrew Leonard, “The key to economic growth: Stealing,” Salon (Aug. 18, 2010),

www.salon.com/technology/how_the_world_works/2010/08/19/the_key_to_economic_growth_is_stealing

(25) See Kinsella, “How Intellectual Property Hampers Capitalism,” StephanKinsella.com (Oct. 18, 2010), www.stephankinsella.com/2010/10/how-intellectual-property-hampers-capitalism-transcript/

(26) See Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, Against Intellectual Monopoly (Cambridge 2008), available at www.c4sif.org/resources at ch. 2, text at n. 27 et pass.

(27) See Kinsella, “Common Misconceptions about Plagiarism and Patents: A Call for an Independent Inventor Defense,” Mises Economics Blog (Nov. 21, 2009), http://blog.mises.org/11076/common-misconceptions-about-plagiarism-and-patents-a-call-for-an-independent-inventor-defense/

(28) See Jeffrey A. Tucker, “A Movie That Gets It Right,” Mises Daily (Oct. 26, 2010), http://mises.org/daily/4806

Libertarian Alliance home

Christian Hoteliers – Victims of Persecution


NEWS RELEASE FROM THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE
In Association with the Libertarian International

Release Date: Tuesday 18th January 2011
Release Time: Immediate

Contact Details:
Dr Sean Gabb, 07956 472 199, sean

“Christian Hoteliers are Victims of Persecution,” Says Free Market and Civil Liberties Policy Institute

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today condemns the conviction of Christian Hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull, for their refusal to provide a room with a double bed to a male homosexual couple.

Speaking today in London, Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, comments:

“Mr and Mrs Bull have been victims of persecution. If they choose not to do business with homosexuals, that should be their concern alone. They are using their own property and using up their own time. They should be at liberty to associate or not associate as they please. Any law that says otherwise is morally indefensible.

“We are told that this prosecution has been a ‘victory for human rights’. It has not.

“Every person has the right to life and justly-acquired property, and to do with his own whatever does not infringe the equal rights of others.

“From this primary right can be derived all the rights of the liberal tradition – freedom of expression and contract and association, together with security against oppressive or arbitrary behaviour by the State.

“It does not generate any right not to be hated or despised or shunned.

“It does not justify laws against discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation, or laws against expressing or inciting hatred against any group.

“By forcing people to associate with or contract with persons whom they would otherwise reject, anti-discrimination laws are an attack on life and property. They are a form of coerced association. They give some people uncompensated claims on others. They amount to a form of slavery mediated by the State.

“Politically correct authoritarians like to hail each new set of anti-discrimination laws as an extension of human rights. Such laws are in fact violations of the only human rights that mean anything.

“And we see no exception to these principles just because money may change hands. The right to offer goods and services is just a subset of the right to freedom of association.”

The Libertarian Alliance believes:

* That the Equality Act 2006 should be repealed, together with all delegated legislation made thereunder;:
* That the Commission for Equality and Human Rights set up under the above Act should be abolished at the first opportunity, and that all its records should be destroyed;
* That the records of the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Commission for Racial Equality, and the Disability Rights Commission should be destroyed;
* That those sections of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, and the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 not already repealed by the Equality Act 2006 should be immediately repealed;
* That any organisation arguing against the above should receive no public funding.

END OF COPY

Note(s) to Editors

Dr Sean Gabb is the Director of the Libertarian Alliance. His new novel, The Churchill Memorandum is available on Amazon. He can be contacted for further comment on 07956 472 199 or by email at sean

Extended Contact Details:

The Libertarian Alliance is Britain’s most radical free market and civil liberties policy institute. It has published over 700 articles, pamphlets and books in support of freedom and against statism in all its forms. These are freely available at http://www.libertarian.co.uk

Our postal address is

The Libertarian Alliance
Suite 35
2 Lansdowne Row
Mayfair
London
W1J 6HL
Tel: 07956 472 199

Associated Organisations

The Libertarian International – http://www.libertarian.to – is a sister organisation to the Libertarian Alliance. Its mission is to coordinate various initiatives in the defence of individual liberty throughout the world.

Sean Gabb’s personal website – http://www.seangabb.co.uk – contains about a million words of writings on themes interesting to libertarians and conservatives.

Hampden Press – http://www.hampdenpress.co.uk.- the publishing house of the Libertarian Alliance.

Liberalia – http://www.liberalia.com – maintained by by LA Executive member Christian Michel, Liberalia publishes in-depth papers in French and English on libertarianism and free enterprise. It is a prime source of documentation on these issues for students and scholars.

Minimum Alcohol Price = Attack on the Poor


NEWS RELEASE FROM THE LIBERTARIAN ALLIANCE
In Association with the Libertarian International

Release Date: Tuesday 18th January 2011
Release Time: Immediate

Contact Details:
Dr Sean Gabb, 07956 472 199, sean

For other contact and link details, see the foot of this message
Release url: http://www.libertarian.co.uk/news/nr079.htm

“ALCOHOL CONTROL: BETTER ENGLAND FREE THAN ENGLAND SOBER,” SAYS FREE MARKET AND CIVIL LIBERTIES THINK TANK

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today condemns proposals to make it harder for poor people to buy alcohol. The proposals include higher taxes, compulsory minimum prices for drink, further controls on advertising, and power to close down retailers. The only disagreement between the three main parities is how far they wish to go.

Speaking today in London, Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, comments:

“These measures, if adopted, amount to an attack on the poor. The ruling class politicians who continually whine about alcohol will not be affected by minimum pricing or the abolition of special offers. I might add that none of them can be affected by such laws. Income aside, anyone who lies his way into Parliament can look forward to round the clock drinking in the Palace of Westminster of untaxed alcohol.

“But the measures will hurt poor people, for whom alcohol will become cripplingly expensive and hard to find. They have the same right to drink as the rest of us. Bearing in mind the problems willed on them by our exploitative ruling class, they often have a greater need to drink.

“The claim that drinking ’causes’ public disorder is nonsense. Alcohol does not run about the streets. People do. If people are making nuisances of themselves, the police should be instructed to stop behaving like New Labour’s equivalent of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and to start protecting life and property again.

“The claim that drinking makes people unhealthy is irrelevant, where not a lie. People must be regarded as responsible for their own mistakes. Anyone who bleats about increased cost to the National Health Service should consider that drinkers already pay more in taxes than the alleged cost of treating their specific illnesses.

“We oppose all controls on the availability of alcohol to adults. Better England free than England sober.”

The Libertarian Alliance believes:

* That all the licensing laws should be repealed;
* That all controls on the marketing of alcohol should be repealed;
* That alcohol taxes should be reduced to the same level as the lowest in the European Union, and that there should be no increase in other taxes;
* That not a penny of the taxpayers’ money should be given to any organisation arguing against the above.

END OF COPY

Note(s) to Editors

Dr Sean Gabb is the Director of the Libertarian Alliance. His new novel, The Churchill Memorandum is available on Amazon. He can be contacted for further comment on 07956 472 199 or by email at sean

Extended Contact Details:

The Libertarian Alliance is Britain’s most radical free market and civil liberties policy institute. It has published over 700 articles, pamphlets and books in support of freedom and against statism in all its forms. These are freely available at http://www.libertarian.co.uk

Our postal address is

The Libertarian Alliance
Suite 35
2 Lansdowne Row
Mayfair
London
W1J 6HL
Tel: 07956 472 199

Associated Organisations

The Libertarian International – http://www.libertarian.to – is a sister organisation to the Libertarian Alliance. Its mission is to coordinate various initiatives in the defence of individual liberty throughout the world.

Sean Gabb’s personal website – http://www.seangabb.co.uk – contains about a million words of writings on themes interesting to libertarians and conservatives.

Hampden Press – http://www.hampdenpress.co.uk.- the publishing house of the Libertarian Alliance.

Liberalia – http://www.liberalia.com – maintained by by LA Executive member Christian Michel, Liberalia publishes in-depth papers in French and English on libertarianism and free enterprise. It is a prime source of documentation on these issues for students and scholars.

Ending “cheap booze” is an attack on property-rights of retailers….


…but they’ll do it anyway, as it’ll merely line their pockets with the State’s permission.

David Davis

It’s becoming clear that this “coalition” government is no better than, and in many respects a worse trampler on liberty than, “New Labour”. At least you knew where you were with Labour. They hated everyone except their chosen client-groups, were cheerfully honest and up-front about it, and stated publicly that their objective was to screw and oppress everyone else. In the end, perhaps it’s too late and the British people don’t deserve liberty any more.

Sean Gabb reviews William Safire on Eloquence


I’m feeling bitchy today. Here is a review I wrote many years ago. It still brings a twisted smile to my face.

My own estimate of the book, I regret, is less flattering to Mr Safire’s vanity. I find it perhaps as worthless a performance as has yet been reviewed in these pages. It is defective alike in scholarship and in taste. I am astonished at the time and money wasted on its production. If I felt the least concern for the environment, I might shed tears for the acres of forest cut down to supply the press on which it was printed….

via Free Life 19, November 1993, Sean Gabb Reviews \.

*Note on Racial Separatism » National Anarchist Tribal Alliance – New York


Sean Gabb

Very well, no one seems inclined to reply to Robert Henderson’s attacks on market economics. Does anyone feel up to commenting on this bizarre but interesting – and possibly sincere – attempt to fuse anarchism and white nationalism? SIG

Note on Racial Separatism

by Craig FitzGerald

This was written by NATA-NY to be an insert for placement in the first issue of Tribal Resonance, as a note on the section entitled “Racial Separatism“. We wrote this note in response to emails we received asking our position on this subject. It is also for the benefit of those who have made judgments about NA based on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s smear and disinformation campaigns, and for those who see ethno-separatism as antithetical to Anarchism.

Neither the National Anarchist philosophy nor the National Anarchist Tribal Alliance – New York (NATA-NY) is inherently racially separatist. As true Anarchists who believe in the principles of liberty, free association, decentralization, community autonomy, local/individual sovereignty, self determination and mutual aid, we reject any and all coercive measures to homogenize our rich and independent cultures and peoples. NATA-NY concurs that every ethnicity has the right to exist and maintain its people/nation without intervention from outside forces.

As Anarchists who value individual uniqueness and are wary of collectivization, we hope that one would not immediately seek to pigeonhole National Anarchism as automatically racially separatist. Based on the libertarian and highly localized nature of the ideology, some National Anarchists support and desire to live in racially separate communities, while others do not. National Anarchists (including NATA-NY) reject the modern mainstream anarchist movement’s hypocritical support of non-white ethnocentric organization and separatism, whilea white separatism is regarded as a racist and counter-productive philosophy that must be exterminated (along with its proponents). National Anarchists equally support the right of all races, ethnicities and cultural groups to organize and live separately. We advocate local community autonomy and reject mainstream anarchism’s embrace of dominant left-wing cultural politics (e.g., multiculturalism and open borders), countercultural lifestyle matters (e.g., pedophile rights), and liberal pet causes (e.g., global warming, gun control, internationalism, abortion rights/population control and political correctness).

National Anarchists hold that the trend of “antiracism” and “multiculturalism,” rather than educating the public about the diverse cultures around the world, has only served to create a “gray race” of modern drones who lack any connection to heritage or history, and animosity in those who seek to preserve their familial and ethnic customs. By preserving local heritages, it is possible to counter the homogenization and cultural eradication of globalism. Thus, National Anarchism, is not racist or supremacist, and does not support violence motivated by these misguided ideologies. As Tribal Resonance states: “The maxim of the future will be respect for others and unity in diversity.”

While some individual National Anarchist groups may be racially separate, NATA-NY is not one group, but an alliance or confederacy of individual Anarchs (sovereigns) and independent tribes, some of which see racial organization as vital to survival, while others are culturally diverse. As the NATA-NY mission statement says:

“We seek …to bridge the gaps between diverse independent groups that agree on one principle: radical decentralized autonomy. […] NATA-NY is a confederation… based on freedom, self-determination, and self-reliance. […] The “nation” in National Anarchism does not refer to a government, state, or arbitrary borders. Rather, a Nation, or a Tribe, is simply a community or group of people working together for common lifestyles and goals. Tribes can be created based on infinite factors, including geographic locality, religion, ethnicity, subculture, ideology, sexual orientation, or occupation. No unifying element should be ignored or disrespected; in other words, anything and everything can be a basis for Tribal organization.”

*Note on Racial Separatism » National Anarchist Tribal Alliance – New York

The Rent’s Still Too Damn High — Here’s How to Lower It, by Kevin Carson


http://c4ss.org/?p=5808

I frequently argue that, far from being the result of the “free market,” the recent speculative bubble was the result of over a century’s worth of government intervention. The bubble resulted from vast disparities of wealth — disparities of wealth created by the state and its enforcement of privilege — with a growing share of income going to classes looking to use it for investment rather than consumption.

Someone recently challenged me to describe exactly what government interventions I’d eliminate to remedy this situation, and exactly what effect I’d expect them to have. So here, without further ado, is my free market agenda for macroeconomic stability.

I’d eliminate all patents and copyrights. This would eliminate the portion of the price of manufactured goods which consists of embedded rents on artificial property rights. It would also eliminate the legal barriers to full-fledged competiton from modular product designs for ease of repair and reuse, which currently make planned obsolescence artificially profitable.

I’d eliiminate all legal barriers to the competitive supply of secured credit (i.e., no minimum capitalization requirments as a condition for licensing a bank that only lends money against the property of its members), all legal tender laws that limit the use of LETS systems, and all banking laws that either limit LETS systems from advancing credit against the future labor of their members, or limit practices like Tom Greco’s credit clearing systems which allow members to run account deficits.

I’d cease to enforce all absentee title to vacant and unimproved land, which would result in market competition driving out a major part of current land rents and mortgages.

I’d fund all long-distance transportation with user fees, and make the heavy trucks pay 100% of the cost of the roadbed damage they cause. This would have a huge indirect effect toward making the centralized “warehouses on wheels” model less profitable, and promoting a decentralized, relatively low-capital, demand-pull model based on lean production, without the imperative of artificially inflating demand to fully utilize the capacity of expensive specialized machines.

I’d eliminate zoning laws which impose enormous costs on small producers by making it illegal to run microenterprises out of their homes, and force them to be able to engage in large batch production to amortize the costs of stand-alone commercial real estate if they want to be in business at all. Ditto for all “health” and “safety” codes whose main effect is to mandate outlays for industrial-sized equipment if they want to be in business at all. There would be a lot more home-based microbakers, microbrewers, home-based daycare and assisted living, unlicensed cabs with just a car and cell phone, and clothing makers, all with next to zero overhead to service because they use spare capacity of capital goods most people already own.

And I’d eliminate “safety” codes whose main effect is to outlaw vernacular building techniques and give professional contractors with high-overhead and high-capital techniques a monopoly on the creation of housing.

The effect of the last two planks would be to radically increase the share of total consumption needs that could be met through low-overhead production in the home, or by trading with others engaged in such production, and to reduce the total amount of wage labor required to meet one’s needs.

The effect of all the previous ones would be to lower the total real cost of obtaining stuff that had to be obtained through the cash nexus, and hence of the total labor time required to earn the money to pay for them.

The overall effect would be a significant shift of labor time at the margins from wage labor to labor in the informal and household sectors. There would be more part-time workers, more households with only one full-time wage worker where there are now two or more, and more early retirees. And there would be more people who could afford to ride out periods of employment while waiting for a job offer more to their liking, rather than desperately grabbing onto the first offer that came their way.

Taken all together, that would mean reduced demand for hours at wage labor compared to the available supply. There would be relatively fewer workers competing for jobs, and more jobs competing for workers.

There would be reduced rents on large concentrations of accumulated property, and increased bargaining power of labor. Macroeconomically, this would mean a smaller share of national income going to super-rich rentier classes with a high propensity to save, and a larger share going as a direct reward to labor. A much larger part of GDP would be spent by the producers buying back their product, rather than to coupon-clippers seeking profitable outlets through Ponzi schemes in the FIRE economy.

Ta-daaa! There you have it: A free market agenda for economic stability.

I detect the slight vapour-pressure of angry conservatives, now


David Davis

The Speaker, described as John Bercow, has, it seems, done something to upset Tory MPs more than once. A pity that such upset will not turn into something more tangible: such as English secession from the UK, the firing from it of MPs from the thus-sundered parts of The Islands, and a more-or-less-permanent Tory majority in England.

The benefits of this would be that at least we only trot slowly towards panopticon oppression, rather than be galloped in the tumbrils and cattle-trucks of Labour’s nazism. But even Labour Nazis cannot know what time will bring, and what we really need is time.

“Free markets” and “free trade” as a religion, by Robert Henderson – Replies, Anyone?


Anyone fancy responding to this? An obvious response is to ask RH to define the laissez-faire religion he is attacking, and to distinguish this from corporatism, and then to ask if he knows anything about the economics of public choice and regulatory capture, or about the effects on business scale and morality brought about by infrastructure subsidies and the tax and regulatory burden….SIG

http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/?p=590

Free marketeers fancy themselves to be rational, calculating beasts. In reality, their adoration of the market is essentially religious. They believe that it will solve all economic ills, if not immediately, then in the medium to long term. Armed with this supposed objective truth, they proselytize about the moral evils and inefficiencies of public service and the wondrous efficiency and ethical outcomes of private enterprise regardless of the practical effects of their policies or the frequent misbehaviour of those in command of large private companies. Their approach is essentially that of the religious believer.

Like the majority of religious believers, “free marketeers and traders” are none too certain of the theology of their religion. (I am always struck by how many of them lack a grasp of even basic economic theory and are almost invariably wholly ignorant of economic history). They recite their economic catechism sublime in the concrete of their ignorance.

The religion has its roots in the first half of the 18th century when there were occasional attempts to suggest tariff reform, but the idea only became a serious political policy in the 1780s with the advent of Pitt the Younger as Prime Minister in 1784 who long toyed with “economical reform”.

The 18th century also provided the religion with its holy book, The Wealth of Nations by the Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith. This strongly argued for “free markets” and “free trade”, but Smith also recognised the demands of national security, the need for government to engage in social provision such as road building and maintenance which would not otherwise be done and, must importantly, the nature of a society and its economy. Here is Smith on the Navigation Acts: “…the Act of Navigation by diminishing the number of buyers; and we are thus likely not only to buy foreign goods dearer, but to sell our own cheaper, than if there were a more perfect freedom of trade. As defence, however, is of much more importance than opulence, the Act of Navigation is, perhaps, the wisest of all the commercial regulations of England.” (Wealth of Nations Bk IV. ch ii)

But Smith and his book suffered the fate of all those who found religions, secular or otherwise. As the decades passed Smith’s cautious approach was redrawn in the minds of his disciples to become a surgically “clean” mechanical ideology in which all that mattered was the pursuit of profit and the growth of trade and industry through the application of the “holy edicts” of open markets and comparative advantage. The disciples, like other religious believers, avidly quoted the passages from their holy book which suited their purposes and ignored those which did not. They also found a further holy text in Thomas Malthus’ Essay on Population of 1802, whose predictions, although unproven by events, could be used to demonstrate that economic expansion was vital if widespread starvation was not to occur.

The clinical, soulless and inhuman nature of the laissez faire idea as it evolved is exemplified by the English economist David Ricardo. Here is a flavour of his mindset:”Under a system of perfectly free commerce each country naturally devotes its capital and labour to such employments as are most beneficial to both. The pursuit of individual advantage is admirably connected with the universal good of the whole. By stimulating industry, and by using most efficaciously the peculiar powers bestowed by nature, it distributes labour most economically, while increasing the general mass of the production it diffuses general benefits, and binds together by one common tie of interest and intercourse the universal society of nations”. (David Ricardo in The fall of protection p 174).

The Napoleonic wars largely foiled Pitt’s wish for broad reform and placed “free trade” in suspended animation as a serious political idea until the 1820s, when cautious attempts at tariff reform again were made. But underneath the political elite was a radical class who were very much enamoured of wholesale economical reform. With the Great Reform Act of 1832 they were given their opportunity to become part of the political elite. They took it with both hands, their most notable and extreme proponents being John Bright and Richard Cobden backed by the intellectual power of David Ricardo – all three became MPs.

Within a dozen years of the first election under the Great Reform Act’s passing, Parliament had been captured by the disciples of Adam Smith and the pass on protection had been sold by of all people a Tory prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, an action which kept the Tories from power for most of the next 40 years.

Such was their religious credulity that the “free traders” advocated not merely opening up Britain’s markets, both at home and in the colonies, to nations who would allow Britain equivalent access to their markets, they advocated opening up Britain’s markets regardless of how other nations acted. The consequence was, as we have seen, disastrous for Britain.

Disraeli in a speech on 1st February 1849 cruelly dissected this insanity:” There are some who say that foreigners will not give us their production for nothing, and that therefore we have no occasion to concern ourselves as to the means and modes of repayment. There is no doubt that foreigners will not give us their goods without exchange for them; but the question is what are the terms of exchange most beneficial for us to adopt. You may glut markets, but the only effect of your attempt to struggle against the hostile tariffs by opening your ports is that you exchange more of your own labour each year for a less quantity of foreign labour, that you render British labour less efficient, that you degrade British labour, diminish profits, and, therefore, must lower wages; while philosophical enquirers have shown that you will finally effect a change in the distribution of the precious metals that must be pernicious and may be fatal to this country. It is for these reasons that all practical men are impressed with a conviction that you should adopt reciprocity as the principle of your tariff – not merely from practical experience, but as an abstract truth. This was the principle of the commercial negations at Utrecht – which were followed by Mr Pitt in his commercial negotiations at Paris – and which were wisely adopted and applied by the Cabinet of Lord Liverpool, but which were deserted flagrantly and unwisely in 1846″. (The fall of Protection pp 337/8″).

Ironically, the “free traders” make the same general errors as Marxists. They believe that everything stems from economics. For the neo-liberal the market has the same pseudo-mystical significance that the dialectic has for the Marxist. Just as the Marxist sees the dialectic working inexorably through history to an eventual state of communism (or a reversion to barbarism to be exact), so the neo-liberal believes that the market will solve any economic problem and most social ills. Neither ideology works because it ignores the reality of human nature and its sociological realisation.

The one track economic mentality of the early “free traders” is well represented by the father of J S Mill, James Mill:”The benefit which is derived from exchanging one commodity for another arises from the commodity received rather than the from the commodity given. When one country exchanges, or in other words, traffics with another, the whole of its advantage consists of the in the commodities imported. It benefits by the importation and by nothing else. A protecting duty which, if it acts at all, limits imports, must limit exports likewise, checking and restraining national industry, thus diminishing national wealth.” (The fall of protection p 174). And to Hell with any social or strategic consideration or changing economic circumstances.

After the Great War and the fall of “free trade” as public policy in 1931, the religion went underground for nearly fifty years. When it re-emerged as a political idea in the 1970s the politicians who fell under its spell were every bit as unquestioning and credulous as those of the 1840s. Tony Blair’ statement on Globalisation, ie, free trade, at the 2005 Labour Party Conference shows that it is alive and kicking today. Scorning any attempt to discuss Globalisation, Blair said of those who wished to oppose it “You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer”. (Daily Telegraph 1 10 2005.)

None of this would matter very much now if those who believe in “free markets” and “free trade” were without political power. Unfortunately, theirs is the elite ideology of the moment and the past 25 years. In Britain, the Tories may be more fanatical in their devotion to the market as panacea, but Blairite Labour have caught more than a mild dose of the disease. A good example of this is their response to house price hyperinflation where they desperately and futilely attempt remedies within the constraints of what they perceive to be “free market” disciplines rather than opting for the obvious state generated remedies such as restricting immigration, building a great deal of social housing and forcing developers to release land for building.

Both the traditional Left and Right have been duped by globalisation. The Left initially welcomed globalisation as a dissolver of national sovereignty, but they are discovering by the day just how restrictive international treaties and membership of supra national groups can be. As things stand, through our membership of the EU and the World Trade Organisation treaties, no British government could introduce new socialist measures because they cannot nationalise companies, protect their own commerce and industry or even ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent in Britain with British firms. A British government can have any economic system they like provided it is largely free trade, free enterprise.

The Right are suffering the same sickness with different symptoms. They find that they are no longer masters in their own house and cannot meaningfully appeal to traditional national interests because treaties make that impossible.

But there is a significant difference between the position of the two sides. The traditional Right have simply been usurped by neo-Liberals in blue clothes: the traditional Left have been betrayed by a confusion in their ideology which has allowed their main political vehicles to be surreptitiously by the likes of Blair.

The left have historically objected to “free-trade” on the grounds that it destroys jobs and reduces wages. But what they (and especially the British Left) have rarely if ever done is walk upon the other two necessary planks in the anti-”free trade” platform: the maintenance of (1) national sovereignty and (2) a sense of national cohesion. The consequence is that the Left has been and are still struggling with two competing and mutually exclusive ends: internationalism and the material improvement of the mass of the people.

FLC202, The Latest Shootings in America: An English View, Sean Gabb, 11th January 2011


What happens in America is not my concern. America is not my country. I have no great regard for the United States as a country or as an idea. Equally, as said, when American facts seem likely to be made into argument for the further theft of English liberties, I do see reason for commenting on those facts. All that remains is to see whether the debate in England goes in the direction that I strongly suspect it will.

via FLC202, The Latest Shootings in America: An English View, Sean Gabb, 11th January 2011.

Regulation should be by Act of Parliament and Rule of Law


dj

It is very difficult for me to write about the need for some regulation. After all, it is precisely this that has allowed the large state to mushroom. Supposedly, all the quangoes and agencies are protecting us. However, high taxation and intrusive regulations, often laid down by extra-parliamentary bodies, are a high price to pay for the establishment of a level playing-field in the market. The market will never have a fully level playing-field, it is true, but I am going to surprise some people on this site by arguing that some regulation is needed. But I will also argue that what regulation there is needs to be by Act of Parliament, without regulatory bodies to enforce it or lay down regulations not approved by the Crown in Parliament, and that the Rule of Law means, not rule “by regulation”, but rule by proper accountable laws that can then be upheld in the court system. The main purpose of this article is to “think aloud” and thereby provoke discussion of a key issue for libertarians.

Many libertarians come across as adopting a glib tone in response to a large range of related issues, arguing that the free market will resolve all questions and allow society to function well, almost without any regulation at all. I am reminded of China’s free-for-all style of capitalism, where products can contain poisons leading to large numbers of child deaths, and yet no real remedy is available through the existing political or judicial system. There has to be some law, in order to have a rule of law. And what I am proposing is consonant with a small state spending 5-10% of GDP as in the nineteenth century.

Furthermore, however worthily intended, I would like to limit the quantity of legislation. I see no reason for Parliament to sit for long periods; my understanding is that each session of parliament was relatively short in ancient times, and I would like to see parliament meet for no more than a couple of weeks in each quarter. Given that we have a common law, there is simply no need for vast quantities of legislation. A further advantage of a parliament that rarely meets is that parliamentary salaries, housing allowances and expenses are not required.

But some things do need to be regulated, and this should be by Act of Parliament. There should be no secondary legislation whatsoever, and regulatory bodies should not be required. The individual citizen can use the civil law as he sees fit to defend his interests. Part of the reason why I feel doubtful that all activities of the state can be accomplished by civil society is the lack of a decent cultural environment in England today. The “chavs” are here, in force, and the only reason why Asbos were introduced is because the behaviour of millions of Englishmen warranted it. That is not to say that I view Asbos as the correct policy response. In particular, the way they individually tailor a law or order to fit the particular recalcitrant individual is contrary to the rule of law. And in general, we need to think about how to raise children that grow up not to behave like “chavs”.

The state has played a role in fostering social fragmentation, in particular with the way the benefits system encourages unmarried motherhood, but also the way in which state-funded media and education systems are used to encourage behavioural problems. But it would be glib to state that the moment the state withdraws from social security, broadcast propaganda and education, behavioural standards will revert to the mean. The “chavs” are the new mean. It would be a long process to recreate the bands of society and culture that eventually helped to produce the type of individual who, as was said in America in the 1950s, had a “policeman in his own head”.

Personally, I feel that relatively little “policing” work is genuine policing nowadays. In the 1950s, when estates were patrolled, the local “bobby” could give a nuisance individual a clip round the ear, and suggest to his parents that a good hiding was in order. I would like to see this type of policing restored. I recently myself became the victim of a nuisance neighbour who has begun to play loud music. I have not spoken to my neighbour, simply because I presume that people who behave like chavs are aware their behaviour is inconsiderate, but simply don’t care. To speak to such a neighbour would be to invite an escalation in bad behaviour. What is the solution? I don’t have one, and I don’t think anyone has one, but in the old days the police could be contacted to deal with the neighbour, but now such behaviour is the preserve of the council. The council’s response is to build up a case against the individual over a period of weeks, before imposing a noise abatement order. But clearly this presumes that the decent householder is willing to put up with bad behaviour for weeks. Probably a better solution is local bobbies to deal with nuisance individuals in an ad hoc way, and for the householder to be able to sue the landlord/owner of the property for damages.

So we are in the chav society, the Jeremy Kyle Show society, where a sudden withdrawal of the state could potentially lead to a creation of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee in England. Better solutions are needed by libertarians than the simplistic assumption that civil society will rush in where the state withdraws. A number of options, such as estates hiring their own private-sector patrol teams (instead of the local constabulary), could be looked at, but there are a number of problems, including what to do where an individual household did not agree to the local arrangement. Another way of tackling the issue would be assign bobbies on the beat to all neighbourhoods, and for them to patrol all the time, and to separate such policing from relative small criminal investigation units that dealt with major crimes. Most libertarians support free availability of drugs, which would probably reduce some types of crime, but probably also grossly increase lower-level nuisance crimes. This illustrates the difficulty for me of creating a free society in a society where cultural standards have been abandoned.

Another problem for me is the “rip-off Britain”. The individual citizen often feels helpless in the face of businesses that no longer operate as they once would have. When I took the train over Christmas, I found the final leg of my journey had to be by taxi, owing to a “strike”, and yet the train company told me they would not refund my fare. If you apply for a mortgage you face large and meaningless “arrangement fees”, often more than £1000. Banks are trying to impose “account fees”. You phone up companies, and find yourself put through to call centres in India. In my case, an Indian operative kept telling me I could not have a print-out of my US dollar account that I needed for my accountant, as the bank had decided that, as it was used only once every couple of months, the account was inactive, and the computer system did not permit a print-out to be sent out. I felt angry that someone based abroad could make such a decision, and that I could not speak to anyone in the UK about it, and only after many hours of phone calls did I get what I needed.

Reading of apartment management fees in the press the other day, I was struck by how many businesses today have become “cowboy”, “fly by night” operations, charging whatever fees they like for nothing. Isn’t it the same people who move from wheel-clamping operations to apartment management and then into nursing home management, partly profiteering on the back of the taxpayer, but often exploiting people in situations where the taxpayer is not picking up the bill?

Mobile phone companies charge huge and outrageous roaming fees. It is idle and factually false to claim that left to their own devices, the phone companies will eliminate these. I have even been shocked that BT refuses to connect calls to directory enquiry services other than their own. When I contacted Oftel to ask why all phones could not dial all numbers, I was sent a leaflet from BT. Yet my point was that if Oftel was the regulator, why wasn’t BT told that in the direct dial world, all phones can dial all numbers, and—end of discussion, BT would just have to do as it was told.

I do not believe that in a libertarian world all regulation could or should be eliminated. I am not talking about sheafs of regulation, and certainly not about regulations that have not gone through parliament or that are issued or administered by regulatory bodies, but I do mean that some high-profile abuses could become political issues, and that a rarely-meeting parliament could pass legislation, and then leave it to the citizen to sue where necessary. I do not admire the US-style overly-litigious culture, and would like to see some limits to prevent vexatious litigation, as, in particular, a free-market health system that allowed for poorly grounded suits against hospitals and doctors would simply see health charges soar. Without evidence of malpractice, the strong presumption must be that doctors do their best for their patients. I resent being put through to India to deal with a UK company, and I would like the practice banned. And without a penny-by-penny breakdown of exactly what mortgage arrangement fees, overdraft charges, apartment management fees and the like were actually for, I would regard such fees as fraudulent.

There is a clear risk that the approach I am outlining—and I am only talking about the occasional law—would lead to rule by unelected judges, freely legislating from the bench on what companies could charge for their services. Statute legislation needs to be drawn up with little latitude for interpretation, unlike the common law, but I think if a number of key abuses were outlawed in one law, it could provide the basis for closing down a host of regulatory bodies (the Office of Fair Training and the like) and allow for a reduction in the size of the state.

Another problem is that previously state-run bodies continue to be run along the same lines in the private sector, especially where they are natural monopolies. The behaviour of the unions in the railway industry in one example where the public-sector mentality remains in full swing. Look at how the government “allows” the rail companies to raise their prices by double-digit percentages each year: is it not clear that, without regulation, the prices would be going even higher? As monopolies, it may seem to the rail companies that they can price their tickets as high as they like, within the bounds of current regulation. I can’t understand why the prices need to rise each year above inflation: if they do have to, would it not be better to cut salaries? Union activity has worked to ensure that salaries for many menial jobs are often in excess of white-collar salaries, and there is plenty of room for a large cut. Personally I think striking workers should be sacked, their pensions cancelled and their access to public social security curtailed for life. After all, what do they think this is? That we, the public, have to just pay whatever they want?

It is not clear to me what the libertarian answer to these issues is. Another example is the way headteachers often now award themselves salaries of over £200K, despite their failing schools. Even were education to be provided, it is likely that most parents would have few viable choices for the education of their children (eg, they could go to one of, say, three local schools), and the privatised schools would operate as a cartel, with high fees charged by them all. Could salaries for the teachers, including the head teacher, be determined by a vote of the parents (and the parents alone) at the parent and teacher association? The parents would then be deemed to be “hiring” the staff, and could not pitch the salaries so low that good staff could not be hired, but the more flagrant and kleptocratic abuses would be constrained.

Ultimately, I don’t have a good answer to all these issues. There would still be abuses in a libertarian society, and there would be political demands that they were dealt with. It would be possible for a small state to prevent the worst abuses by the rule of law, and for the privatisation of state roles to be done in a way that prevented the current managerial elite from continuing to screw the public, or screwing the public even more in the absence of regulatory bodies. The thing is made more difficult by the fact that the people of our country do not know how to behave any longer—which is why the state came in so triumphantly in the first place. I explained in a previous post why I think the managerial elite (straddling the public/private sector divide) is the problem, and not just “the state”. By focusing just on the state, we may miss the fact that the same managerial elite manages the private sector. Ultimately, libertarianism attacks problems politically rather than socially and culturally, and yet, how do we create a free society without the old bourgeois elite and its social and cultural values?

Right-ho, good Fabians! Let’s start to Get The Proles Off The Road.


David Davis

I spotted at Fuel-Injected-Moose something I have also seen elsewhere.

Forcing all cars in existence to carry insurance will, like gun-control, do nothing to stop either murders with guns or uninsured driving. It will, however, get a tiny amount of money for the British State for a year or three, probably about £30 or £40 million in extra tax-revenues on insurance firms, and will disappoint a lot of grumpy old men whom nobody likes, and who are interested in “old cars”, which they keep in a gently rusting pile in their back yards.

It is actually the first part of the strategically-focussed-plan to REMOVE POOR-PEOPLE FROM THE ROAD. It starts by demonising a group (such as Jews, or in this case – yobbos that drive without insurance) to create popular support for more repressive measures later (such as killing Jews my mass-machine-gunning or gassing, having obtained tacit consent for said plan, with threats.) The later measures will then include the banning of a driver (for life, such as “sending a Jew East” to Sobibor or Chelmno) as a result of a minor accident.

Oh and then you can “have his car crushed” (for recycling, like the gold teeth and tattooed skin for lampshades.)

Richard Blake’s Blood of Alexandria Reviewed


http://www.eurocrime.co.uk/reviews/The_Blood_of_Alexandria.html

Blake, Richard – ‘The Blood of Alexandria’

Hardback: 512 pages (June 2010)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton ISBN: 0340951168

This is another fantastically crafted tale about the life of Aelric and Martin, his ever-faithful secretary. As with Blake’s previous books about this cheerful and resourceful character, THE BLOOD OF ALEXANDRIA is written as if it is a memoir: Aelric is in his old age, living in a monastery and reflecting back on his life when he was a young man. He starts off in life as a lowly clerk and, in this latest offering, has risen to the position of senator and been sent to Alexandria to oversee the transportation of the Egyptian harvest to Rome and also enforce changes to some laws regarding land ownership. None of this is particular popular with the locals and, before too long, a revolt is underway.

Troubles seem to come in threes for our Aelric; as his sworn adversary, Priscus, suddenly arrives in town, seemingly obsessed with finding a previously unheard-of relic: the chamber pot of Christ. Aelric reluctantly agrees to help in the search and in the process uncovers information that puts his life in grave danger. Then Martin is kidnapped by the mob after a particularly nasty riot and, with the help of a mysterious sorceress, Aelric heads off into the unknown to rescue his friend.

After a slow start that requires some effort to keep on reading, the tempo of the book rapidly picks up and you just can’t put it down. Blake’s detailed descriptions of life in ancient Egypt under Roman occupation bring the story and its characters to life and are, at times, beautifully gruesome – for example the rather horrendous method used to execute the perpetrators of the main uprising, by being impaled on large stakes and left to die slowly, leave you feeling as if you are standing in the crowd, watching.

I love this book and am impatient to read Blake’s next instalment. At times things get so seemingly hopeless for Aelric that it is a comfort to know he is writing his memoirs and does indeed survive to tell the tale.

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
January 2011

All watch “netroots” evil people


David Davis

Old Holborn has been sending what I, in the 1990s in the early days of “eurofaq” and “YEM”, used to call ” a boat party” (which is to say: go there openly or otherwise and observe what’s going on) to the “left’s” conference on how to use the www to further leftoNazism.

Yes these people may look somewhat quaint and naive in their appreciation of what the www and “digital media” (have you heard anybody calling it that recently?) can do for the cause of socialism. But we must never, ever forget – that these are the ones who, currently, have the guns.

And we have not. I keep on keeping on about the development of the Machine-Longbow, but nobody seems to want to listen.

The rotten heart of the global-warm-mongerators


David Davis

I popped over to Samizdata and spotted a good analysis of the supposed morality of the GreeNazis here, ably articulated by Brendan o’neill. Jonathan did his usual masterful précis of the thoughts of the deep-greens, and I quote from Brendan a bit more than is already germane in the Samizdata bit:-

‘The snow outside is what global warming looks like’, said one headline, in a newspaper which 10 years ago said that the lack of snow outside is what global warming looks like. A commentator said that anyone who says ‘what happened to global warming?’ is an ‘idiot’ because nobody ever claimed that global warming would ‘make Britain hotter in the long run’. (Er, yes they did.) Apparently the reason people don’t understand the (new) global-warming-causes-snow thesis is because they are ‘simple, earthy creatures, governed by the senses’: ‘What we see and taste and feel overrides analysis. The cold has reason in a deathly grip.’

This reveals the stinging snobbery at the heart of the politics of global warming. Because what we have here is an updated version of the elitist idea that the better classes have access to a profound and complicated truth that the rest of us cannot grasp. Where we have merely sensory reactions (experience), they have reason and analysis (knowledge). Our critical reaction to the snow actually revealed our failure to understand The Truth, as unveiled by The Science, rather than revealing their wrongheadedness in predicting an ‘end to snow’. We are ‘simple’, they are ‘reasoned’. In 2011, we should take everything that is said by this new doom-mongering expert caste with a large pinch of salt – and then spread that salt on the snow which they claimed had disappeared from our lives.

Charles Moore begins to sound like Ian B …


David Davis

…which may be a good thing.

Robin Hood?! Oh no he isn’t…


Christopher Houseman

A Glasgow pantomime production of “Robin Hood” has changed the colour of the crosses on a nurse’s uniform from red to green after being informed by the British Red Cross that it might otherwise face prosecution for being in violation of the Geneva Convention.

A Red Cross spokesman explained that “Repeated and widespread misuse of the Red Cross emblem could dilute its neutrality and its ability to protect.”

Perhaps someone should explain to the dimwitted bureaucrats at the Red Cross that:

(i) A symbol has no intrinsic power to protect anyone or anything

(ii) Getting shirty about the use of a symbol in a pantomime is likely to bring a flurry of contempt in the direction of the Red Cross, and may therefore undermine the organisation’s image of “neutrality”.

Meanwhile, I await Dave Prowse’s response to the news that an improperly dressed person in a Green Cross uniform is at large somewhere in Glasgow…

That’s the “smokers” and the “drinkers” done, then, now for the “eaters”.


Michael Winning

…and lifted from the comments below:-

http://www.infowars.com/eco-fascists-call-for-prison-cities/

It says over at the Legiron’s place that Colchester down south somewhere is going to make a ghetto for “drinkers”. Well we did see it coming and we did diddly-squat about the bastards in councils and Westminster, untl it’s now too late.

Then it will be the “reluctant non-cyclers”, challenged by “motorists”.

Funny that, I never hear drivers calling themselves motorists, only the bureaucrats do that.

I couldn’t resist the bad art-direction


David Davis

This is just crying our for a caption-competition:-