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Libertarian Philosophy

News Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Recommended Links Small government smoke screen Invisible Hand Hypothesys: The Theory of Self-regulation of the Markets "Starving the beast" bait and switch
Non-Interventionism US anti war movement Ron Paul anttwar.com -- the most  prominent anti war site run by linertarian Justin Raimondo    
Paleoconservatism   Media-Military-Industrial Complex What's the matter with Kansas Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism  Free Markets Newspeak
Small government smoke screen Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market Pollyanna creep Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia Obscurantism Short Introduction to Lysenkoism
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Obama: a yet another Neocon Numbers racket and "Potemkin numbers" Wrecking Crew: Notes on Republican Economic Policy
Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy: Chicago School of Market Fundamentalism Neo-classical Economists as fifth column of financial oligarchy Two Party System as polyarchy Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary Groupthink
Myth of fairness of the market Antiwar Quotes Hyman Minsky Casino Capitalism Dictionary Humor Etc

Due to the size an introduction was converted to a separate page Libertarian Philosophy

Introduction

Mark Curtis said "polyarchy is generally what British leaders mean when they speak of promoting 'democracy' abroad". Similarity, Rule of financial oligarchy is that libertarians actually means when they promote "free market" in the USA.

The term Libertarianism as used in the USA should probably be more properly called Anarcho Capitalism.

Like anarchism it is a natural philosophy of small business owners who are squeezed by banks and landlords and are trying to survive by using cheap labor. In a way, Libertarianism offers its believers a clear conscience to do things society presently restrains. In this case that means the use of wages below subsistence level, unsafe conditions, child labor, etc.

Still because it is a natural philosophy of small business owners it has a wide social base. It is their natural reaction to being squeezing between landlords and banks and attempt to survive by abandoning all ethical restrain in handling the work force. as David M. Kotz noted (Globalization and Neoliberalism)

Small business has remained adamantly opposed to the big, interventionist state, from the Progressive Era through the New Deal down to the present. This division between big and small business is chronicled for the Progressive Era in Weinstein (1968). In the decades immediately following World War II one can observe this division in the divergent views of the Business Roundtable, a big business organization which often supported interventionist programs, and the US Chambers of Commerce, the premier small business organization, which hewed to an antigovernment stance.

What explains this political difference between large and small business? When large corporations achieve significant market power and become freed from fear concerning their immediate survival, they tend to develop a long time horizon and pay attention to the requirements for assuring growing profits over time.9 They come to see the state as a potential ally. Having high and stable monopoly profits, they tend to view the cost of government programs as something they can afford, given their potential benefits. By contrast, the typical small business faces a daily battle for survival, which prevents attention to long-run considerations and which places a premium on avoiding the short-run costs of taxation and state regulation. This explains the radically different positions that big business and small business held regarding the proper state role in the economy for the first two-thirds of the twentieth century.

This long-standing division between big business and small business appeared to vanish in the US starting in the 1970s. Large corporations and banks which had formerly supported foundations that advocated an active government role in the economy, such as the Brookings Institution, became big donors to neoliberal foundations such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. As a result, such right-wing foundations, which previously had to rely mainly on contributions from small business, became very wealthy and influential.10 It was big business's desertion of the political coalition supporting state intervention and its shift to neoliberalism that rebuilt support for neoliberal theories and policies in the US, starting in the 1970s. With business now unified on economic policy, the shift was dramatic. Big grants became available for economics research having a neoliberal slant. The major media shifted their spin on political developments, and the phrase "government programs" now could not be printed except with the word "bloated" before it.

Its central dream of a "freedom of contract", is a wet dream of a small business owner to be able to do business with no government intervention and squeezing everything he can from the labor force in order to survive and expand. In this sense, Libertarian freedom is essentially the freedom to exploit labor. From what I see, the libertarian answer for any problem they face is cheap labor. As  evil tongues say, they will not be happy until they turn the US into Bangladesh.

The central dream of a "freedom of contract", is a wet dream of a small business owner to be able to do business with no government intervention and squeezing everything he can from the labor force in order to survive and expand.

That partially explains political differences between large and small business.  When a large corporation acquire its formidable market power and become freed from fear concerning its immediate survival, they tend to develop a long time horizon and pay attention to the society constrains and externalities that can endanger the growth of their profits over time. And at this point they have political power -- transnational corporations are, for example, dominant political players under neoliberalism. In a sense they see the government as a servant, or, at least, an ally.  Having high and stable monopoly profits, they can afford the cost of government programs and environmental and labor regulations, and they can even reap benefit from them.  While they hate and fight attempts of state to impose controls over them, the state measures for them are not life threatening. They can affect only the rate of profits extracted from a particular country, but extent of this drop can be mitigated by exploiting the corruption of the government and their formidable political power under  neoliberalism (look at Clinton Cash scandal for some interesting details).  They are kings of the neoliberal hill.

By contrast, the typical small and medium business are completely absorbed in the brutal battle for the survival, in which any government  regulations can be the straw that broke the camel back. They just can't and do not want to pay attention to a long-term  consequences of their actions and are concentrated on minimizing the cost of running business, which includes labor cost and taxes. Any measures that increase iether of them are viewed highly negatively.  The same is true for the  state regulations. For them government is the  Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. This explains the radically different positions that big business and small business held regarding the proper state role in the economy. While big business generally subscribes to neoliberalism, small business predominantly favor Libertarian Philosophy 


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Old News ;-)

[Sep 19, 2017] Rolling Back the Warfare State by Ron Paul

Notable quotes:
"... In the end, Sen. Paul did not back down and he got his vote. Frankly, I was more than a little surprised that nearly 40 percent of the Senate voted with Rand to allow a vote on repealing authority for the two longest wars in US history. I expected less than a dozen "no" votes on tabling the amendment and was very pleasantly surprised at the outcome. ..."
"... Are more Senators starting to see the wars his way? We can only hope so. As polls continue to demonstrate, the American people have grown tired of our interventionist foreign policy, which burns through trillions of dollars while making the world a more dangerous place rather than a safer place. ..."
"... The first step toward rebalancing the separation of powers is for Congress to reassert its authority and responsibility for declaring war. To this point, Congress has preferred to transfer its war responsibility to the president. ..."
"... The second step, once Congress understands its obligations, is to convince our representatives that war was not designed to be the first choice in foreign policy, but rather to be the last resort when we are under attack or when a direct attack is imminent! ..."
"... Just because Congress decides to approve the use of force does not mean that the war is just, justified, or wise. Congress is just as susceptible to war propaganda as the rest of America and unfortunately it is dominated by the false opinion that if you are not enthusiastic about US military solutions to disputes overseas then you are not being tough enough. In fact, it takes far more strength to exercise restraint in the face of the constant war propaganda and disinformation coming from the media and the neocons. ..."
Sep 19, 2017 | original.antiwar.com
Last week, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) reminded Congress that in matters of war, they have the authority and the responsibility to speak for the American people. Most Senators were not too happy about the reminder, which came in the form of a forced vote on whether to allow a vote on his amendment to repeal the Afghanistan and Iraq war resolutions of 2001 and 2002.

It wasn't easy. Sen. Paul had to jump through hoops just to get a vote on whether to have a vote. That is how bad it is in Congress! Not only does Congress refuse to rein in presidents who treat Constitutional constraints on their war authority as mere suggestions rather than as the law of the land, Congress doesn't even want to be reminded that they alone have war authority. Congress doesn't even want to vote on whether to vote on war!

In the end, Sen. Paul did not back down and he got his vote. Frankly, I was more than a little surprised that nearly 40 percent of the Senate voted with Rand to allow a vote on repealing authority for the two longest wars in US history. I expected less than a dozen "no" votes on tabling the amendment and was very pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Last week, Rand said, "I don't think that anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes that these authorizations from 16 years ago and 14 years ago authorized war in seven different countries."

Are more Senators starting to see the wars his way? We can only hope so. As polls continue to demonstrate, the American people have grown tired of our interventionist foreign policy, which burns through trillions of dollars while making the world a more dangerous place rather than a safer place.

Some might argue that losing the vote was a defeat. I would disagree. For the first time in years we saw US Senators on the Senate Floor debating whether the president should have authority to take the US to war anywhere he pleases. Even with just the small number of votes I thought we might have gotten on the matter, that alone would have been a great victory. But getting almost 40 percent of the Senate to vote our way? I call that a very good start!

The first step toward rebalancing the separation of powers is for Congress to reassert its authority and responsibility for declaring war. To this point, Congress has preferred to transfer its war responsibility to the president.

The second step, once Congress understands its obligations, is to convince our representatives that war was not designed to be the first choice in foreign policy, but rather to be the last resort when we are under attack or when a direct attack is imminent!

Just because Congress decides to approve the use of force does not mean that the war is just, justified, or wise. Congress is just as susceptible to war propaganda as the rest of America and unfortunately it is dominated by the false opinion that if you are not enthusiastic about US military solutions to disputes overseas then you are not being tough enough. In fact, it takes far more strength to exercise restraint in the face of the constant war propaganda and disinformation coming from the media and the neocons.

We have achieved a small victory last week, thanks to Senator Paul. But we still have a lot of work to do! We must keep the pressure on and convert more to the cause of peace and prosperity!

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity .

[Jul 04, 2017] Mourn on the Fourth of July, 2017

Notable quotes:
"... When did the East Germans take over? ..."
"... You can't drive past the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue today. It was "temporarily" closed to motorized traffic after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and that closure was officially made permanent after 9/11. Seldom a week passes without breathless reports of a "security incident." Someone touched the White House fence (everyone panic!) or was shot to death by police after making a wrong turn or panicking at a random roadblock. Air Force One? You can still see it. On TV, anyway. ..."
Jul 04, 2017 | original.antiwar.com

I visited Washington, DC for the first time in 1980. I was 13. Jimmy Carter was the president.

My family only had one day to see the sights. As I remember it, we went through what seemed a somewhat sketchy neighborhood (I was a country boy, so it may have just been nerves about The Big City), turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue, and drove past the White House and Capitol before taking in selected bits of the Smithsonian and visiting Arlington National Cemetery. Then we proceeded to Andrews Air Force Base, where my brother was stationed, and just for fun drove past Air Force One.

I saw a lot of really neat stuff that day, but right now I'm thinking about the stuff I didn't see, or at least didn't notice.

I don't recall seeing a single police officer anywhere, although I'm sure I must have. The only man with a gun I noticed at Andrews was the gate guard, who checked my brother's ID and waved us through. Nobody seemed to give us a second glance as we passed within a few hundred feet of the president's plane. I don't recall any security checkpoints, barricades or traffic barriers along Pennsylvania Avenue, and I think I would have remembered those.

This was in the middle of the Iran hostage crisis and only a few months after the Unabomber's attack on American Airlines Flight 444 as it flew into DC from Chicago. Central America was in the throes of successful and unsuccessful revolutions and the US wasn't terribly popular there. Carter was preparing to re-institute draft registration in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

And yet (aside from a surplus of marble monuments), Washington seemed on the whole to be a normal, American city.

When did the East Germans take over?

You can't drive past the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue today. It was "temporarily" closed to motorized traffic after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and that closure was officially made permanent after 9/11. Seldom a week passes without breathless reports of a "security incident." Someone touched the White House fence (everyone panic!) or was shot to death by police after making a wrong turn or panicking at a random roadblock. Air Force One? You can still see it. On TV, anyway.

You can still visit Washington, but if you plan to fly in, count on multiple instances of being required to show your papers and get felt up at the airports. My own kids can't remember a time without metal detectors, bag searches and dire warnings even at the entrances to such attractions as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

I guess every generation of adults feels like things have gone downhill since they were kids. But as someone a little too young to have understood Vietnam or Watergate and just exactly old enough to have exuberantly celebrated the nation's bicentennial, these days I find each 4th of July to surpass the last as an occasion for mourning an America that no longer exists.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism . He lives and works in north central Florida. This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

[Jul 03, 2017] Corporations fall for the lure of power no less than a political class, and are many times better at it! The idea that "the free market" will check their activities, promoted by Libertarians, is surely as naïve as anything any Marxist ever said.

Jul 03, 2017 | www.unz.com

For corporations, too, fall into this downward spiral. It has become easy to forget that the only truly effective checks on greed are moral in nature, and will be effective only if the greedy are convinced they answer to a Being infinitely more powerful than they are (and even then, incompletely). Mere political checks on corporate power can never work when corporations have the money to buy political classes. When civic morality collapses into I'll-scratch-your-back-if-you'll-scratch-mine utilitarianism, those at the helm of corporations see accumulation as natural and even expected.

Is this not neoliberalism in a nutshell? I've heard neoliberalism described as "capitalism with the gloves off" as it is blamed for the worsening wealth gap. An important difference between neoliberalism and its classical liberal ancestor, though, is that its ancestor did not arise within and had no necessary connection to secular materialism. The version of classical liberalism developed most famously by Frederic Bastiat (1801 – 1850) in his slim classic The Law (1849), offered a Christian economics. Classical liberalism is not inherently materialist. The implicit joining of the two has been a catastrophe for the developed world. Power centered in global corporations answering only to each other has become the final economic reality, money their primary instrument. The long-term result, having come to fullest fruition since the financial crisis of 2008, is the wealth gap: the accumulation, in the hands of a group small enough to fit into a university auditorium with room to spare, of more wealth than is possessed by the entire bottom half of the world's population!

Corporations fall for the lure of power no less than a political class, and are many times better at it! The idea that "the free market" will check their activities, promoted by Libertarians, is surely as naïve as anything any Marxist ever said. They become not merely "too big to fail" but beyond the control of abstract "economic logic" which is just the increasingly puny decisions, in aggregate, of the increasingly moneyless and powerless. Money, after all, is power in materialist global civilization, and if you don't have it, you're impotent. Moneylenders discovered this at the regional level in the late 1700s. Their descendants have been expanding on the basic idea ever since. Leftists are right to believe this is an important factor behind the present surge of "populism" and other manifestations of unrest all over the world - rebellions against an insular elite, loyal only to money, whose idea of "work" is moving investments around all day and tallying the profits, while undermining and destroying the autonomy of indigenous populations.

Beefcake the Mighty Show Comment Next New Comment July 3, 2017 at 1:33 pm GMT

@Agent76 May 5, 2017 Hans-Hermann Hoppe: A World Without Theft

Dr. Hoppe's book 'The Economics and Ethics of Private Property' (mises.org/EEPP) is among the most important modern contributions to libertarian thought. Hoppe, like Rothbard, connects laissez-faire economics to normative libertarian theory with laserlike precision and inexorable logic.

https://youtu.be/D0DoeyI8YCI Outstanding, yes. If more libertarians were like Rothbard and Hoppe, they might provide a meaningful opposition movement. Instead they just offer a different brand of open borders lunacy and national suicide.

[Jun 30, 2017] Why Libertarians Should Read Marx

Notable quotes:
"... How can we defend property rights at the same time as defending a system which came into being by denying those rights? ..."
"... Do current market structures (which are of course determined by the state) really maximize development? ..."
"... Are markets really a realm of freedom, or a means through which some exploit and oppress others? And so on. ..."
"... "The system of protection," says Marx, "was an artificial means of manufacturing manufacturers, of expropriating independent laborers, of capitalizing the national means of production and subsistence, and of forcibly abbreviating the transition from the medieval to the modern mode of production." ..."
"... Most Libertarians I have come across just seem to dislike taxes and are looking for a reason why this might be a morally acceptable position. It is like that famous J K Galbraith quote: "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." ..."
"... Anybody who thinks that Libertarians really care about "freedom" (whatever that is - the more I think about it the less I see a difference to "power" - which is largely - though not entirely - zero sum) is kidding themselves. ..."
"... I reckon there are three reasons libertarians should read Marx. One is that Marx saw economics as a historical process. For him, one of the big questions was: "where did that come from?" ..."
Jun 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris Dillow: Why libertarians should read Marx : Kristian Niemietz says he can't be bothered to read Marx. Can I try and convince him otherwise?

For one thing, I suspect libertarians like him would be surprised by a lot of Marx. There's astonishingly little in Marx about a centrally planned economy: if you want an argument for central planning, you should read that hero of the right, Ronald Coase instead (pdf ). Marx was admiring of capitalism in some respects. It has, he wrote , given "an immense development to commerce" and has "accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals." And I think you'd be surprised by just how much attention Marx paid to the facts: once you get past the first few chapters, there's massive empirical work in Capital volume I*. And there are many differences between Marx and social democrats – not least of them being that Marx was no statist.

What's more, many of the ideas associated with Marx were largely elaborations of his predecessors: Paul Samuelson called him a "minor post-Ricardian". The labour theory of value, the interest in the division of income between classes and the idea of a falling rate of profit are all as Ricardian as Marxian. (The falling rate of profit (pdf) might be a good explanation for our recent slow growth and lack of capital spending, but let that pass).

I reckon there are three reasons libertarians should read Marx.

  1. One is that Marx saw economics as a historical process. For him, one of the big questions was: "where did that come from?" ...
  2. A second reason for libertarians to read Marx lies in his view of the relationship between property rights and technical progress ...
  3. A third reason to read Marx lies in his attitudes to freedom. ...

In short, then, libertarians should read Marx because he poses them some questions which should sharpen their thinking.

  1. How can we defend property rights at the same time as defending a system which came into being by denying those rights?
  2. What material conditions are necessary for people to support freedom? How will new technologies shape our beliefs?
  3. Do current market structures (which are of course determined by the state) really maximize development?
  4. If not, how can they change? Do actually-existing markets merely enhance formal freedom, or are they conducive to the substantive freedom that Marx wanted? Can they be made more conducive?
  5. Are markets really a realm of freedom, or a means through which some exploit and oppress others? And so on.

If you look past tribal caricatures, perhaps libertarian thinking will be enriched by a consideration of Marx's work.

Miguel Madeira -> Christopher H.... , June 29, 2017 at 04:20 AM

Pgl wrote "Smith did not like trade protection as in his day it was a tool of the elites."; but, yes, Marx was against trade protection

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1888/free-trade/

anne -> Miguel Madeira ... , June 29, 2017 at 05:32 AM
I appreciate this:

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1888/free-trade/

1888

On the Question of Free Trade
Preface by Frederick Engels for the 1888 English edition pamphlet

TOWARDS the end of 1847, a Free Trade Congress was held at Brussels. It as a strategic move in the Free Trade campaign then carried on by the English manufacturers. Victorious at home, by the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, they now invaded the continent in order to demand, in return for the free admission of continental corn into England, the free admission of English manufactured goods to the continental markets.

At this Congress, Marx inscribed himself on the list of speakers; but, as might have been expected, things were not so managed that before his turn came on, the Congress was closed. Thus, what Marx had to say on the Free Trade question he was compelled to say before the Democratic Association of Brussels, an international body of which he was one of the vice-presidents.

The question of Free Trade or Protection being at present on the order of the day in America, it has been thought useful to publish an English translation of Marx's speech, to which I have been asked to write an introductory preface.

"The system of protection," says Marx, "was an artificial means of manufacturing manufacturers, of expropriating independent laborers, of capitalizing the national means of production and subsistence, and of forcibly abbreviating the transition from the medieval to the modern mode of production."

Such was protection at its origin in the 17th century, such it remained well into the 19th century. It was then held to be the normal policy of every civilized state in western Europe. The only exceptions were the smaller states of Germany and Switzerland -- not from dislike of the system, but from the impossibility of applying it to such small territories....

reason -> pgl... , June 29, 2017 at 01:26 AM
I sort of wonder though, who Chris Dillow is addressing here. Most Libertarians I have come across just seem to dislike taxes and are looking for a reason why this might be a morally acceptable position. It is like that famous J K Galbraith quote: "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

Anybody who thinks that Libertarians really care about "freedom" (whatever that is - the more I think about it the less I see a difference to "power" - which is largely - though not entirely - zero sum) is kidding themselves.

anne , June 28, 2017 at 10:25 AM
Nice essay, and though I have a loose understanding of Marx which would obviously bother those who read Marx strictly no matter the motives, I think a loose understanding warranted and directly applicable. The reason I find a loose understanding of Marx important, is that just as there are successful capitalist economies, and just as many people think that is all there are in the way of successful economies, there is a communist economy that is successful and important enough to be studied as such.

I would think that understanding China would take having a loose understanding of Marx, because though American economists may argue with the idea China has developed successfully as a communist system.

[ I do not care, by the way, to argue the matter, the perspective is just mine. ]

anne -> anne... , June 28, 2017 at 11:49 AM
I reckon there are three reasons libertarians should read Marx. One is that Marx saw economics as a historical process. For him, one of the big questions was: "where did that come from?"

-- Chris Dillow

[ Really nice and important passage. ]

anne -> anne... , June 28, 2017 at 02:39 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/opinion/finland-station-communism-socialism.html

June 26, 2017

Socialism's Future May Be Its Past
By Bhaskar Sunkara

One hundred years after Lenin's sealed train arrived at Finland Station and set into motion the events that led to Stalin's gulags, the idea that we should return to this history for inspiration might sound absurd. But there was good reason that the Bolsheviks once called themselves "social democrats." They were part of a broad movement of growing parties that aimed to fight for greater political democracy and, using the wealth and the new working class created by capitalism, extend democratic rights into the social and economic spheres, which no capitalist would permit.

The early Communist movement never rejected this broad premise. It was born out of a sense of betrayal by the more moderate left-wing parties of the Second International, the alliance of socialist and labor parties from 20 countries that formed in Paris in 1889. Across Europe, party after party did the unthinkable, abandoned their pledges to working-class solidarity for all nations, and backed their respective governments in World War I. Those that remained loyal to the old ideas called themselves Communists to distance themselves from the socialists who had abetted a slaughter that claimed 16 million lives. (Amid the carnage, the Second International itself fell apart in 1916.)

Of course, the Communists' noble gambit to stop the war and blaze a humane path to modernity in backward Russia ended up seemingly affirming the Burkean notion that any attempt to upturn an unjust order would end up only creating another.

Most socialists have been chastened by the lessons of 20th-century Communism. Today, many who would have cheered on the October Revolution have less confidence about the prospects for radically transforming the world in a single generation. They put an emphasis instead on political pluralism, dissent and diversity.

Still, the specter of socialism evokes fear of a new totalitarianism. A recent Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation report worries that young people are likely to view socialism favorably and that a "Bernie Sanders bounce" may be contributing to a millennial turn against capitalism. Last year, the president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, Thomas J. Donohue, even found it necessary to remind readers that "Socialism Is a Dangerous Path for America."

The right still denounces socialism as an economic system that will lead to misery and privation, but with less emphasis on the political authoritarianism that often went hand in hand with socialism in power. This may be because elites today do not have democratic rights at the forefront of their minds - perhaps because they know that the societies they run are hard to justify on those terms.

Capitalism is an economic system: a way of organizing production for the market through private ownership and the profit motive. To the extent that it has permitted democracy, it has been with extreme reluctance. That's why early workers' movements like Britain's Chartists in the early 19th century organized, first and foremost, for democratic rights. Capitalist and socialist leaders alike believed that the struggle for universal suffrage would encourage workers to use their votes in the political sphere to demand an economic order that put them in control.

It didn't quite work out that way. Across the West, workers came to accept a sort of class compromise....

reason -> anne... , June 29, 2017 at 01:37 AM
The way to think about this is to distinguish between the margin and the whole. Capitalism provides a valuable dynamism at the margin, that neither monopoly capitalism nor centralized socialism can provide when they dominate the whole of society. That is why a mixture is essential.

Countervailing power is essential. Somehow this topic seems to emphasize the value of JK Galbraith, he may not have moved economics much forward, but his political vision was valuable.

kurt -> reason ... , June 29, 2017 at 11:22 AM
Agree 100%.
anne , June 28, 2017 at 11:08 AM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxism

The term Classical Marxism denotes the collection of socio-eco-political theories expounded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. "Marxism," as Ernest Mandel remarked, "is always open, always critical, always self-critical." As such, Classical Marxism distinguishes between "Marxism" as broadly perceived, and "what Marx believed;" thus, in 1883, Marx wrote to the French labour leader Jules Guesde and to Paul Lafargue (Marx's son-in-law) – both of whom claimed to represent Marxist principles – accusing them of "revolutionary phrase-mongering" and of denying the value of reformist struggle; from Marx's letter derives the paraphrase: "If that is Marxism, then I am not a Marxist."

jonny bakho , June 28, 2017 at 11:33 AM
Without government, there is no property- the contradiction at the heart of libertarianism

Libertarianism would not be possible without the efforts of the very government they despise

Humans evolved as social animals.
Humans thrive in social groups.
True individuals do not survive for long

DrDick -> jonny bakho... , June 28, 2017 at 11:40 AM
Humans also evolved to become more cooperative and sharing and it is that sharing and cooperation that has been the key to our evolutionary success.
Jerry Brown -> jonny bakho... , June 28, 2017 at 11:56 AM
But, but... Clint Eastwood in practically all his movies...

No seriously, "Without government, there is no property- the contradiction at the heart of libertarianism". Excellent point. Great comment.

anne , June 28, 2017 at 02:50 PM
There's astonishingly little in Marx about a centrally planned economy: if you want an argument for central planning, you should read that hero of the right, Ronald Coase instead (pdf)....

-- Chris Dillow

[ This reference link will not open. Possibly a reader might know what was intended as the reference. ]

anne -> anne... , June 28, 2017 at 04:05 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coase_theorem

In law and economics, the Coase theorem * describes the economic efficiency of an economic allocation or outcome in the presence of externalities. The theorem states that if trade in an externality is possible and there are sufficiently low transaction costs, bargaining will lead to an efficient outcome regardless of the initial allocation of property. In practice, obstacles to bargaining or poorly defined property rights can prevent Coasian bargaining.

* This "theorem" is commonly attributed to University of Chicago Nobel Prize laureate Ronald Coase. However, Coase himself stated that the theorem was based on perhaps four pages of his 1960 paper "The Problem of Social Cost", and that the "Coase theorem" is not about his work at all.

reason -> anne... , June 29, 2017 at 01:30 AM
Note: the word "efficient" is doing lots of work here. "Efficient" (particularly in the sense economists use it), should not be confused with "good".
anne -> anne... , June 28, 2017 at 04:08 PM
Would the so-called Coase theorem then, explain why Coase might be considered a hero of libertarians? I must be missing something, but what would that be?
reason -> anne... , June 29, 2017 at 01:31 AM
(G)Libertarians think that Coase "proved that regulation is unnecessary" (of course he did no such thing).
DrDick -> anne... , June 28, 2017 at 04:50 PM
While Marx was never very explicit about what he envisioned as the future, he appears to have favored the syndicalist model, basically a system of co-ops owned and run by the workers but retaining the "company" model of capitalism.
anne -> DrDick... , June 28, 2017 at 04:54 PM
While Marx was never very explicit about what he envisioned as the future, he appears to have favored the syndicalist model, basically a system of co-ops owned and run by the workers but retaining the "company" model of capitalism.

[ Like Germany, at least somewhat. With worker representation on corporate boards and industry-wide worker bargaining. Fascinating and important, and to the extent that this is like Germany, successful. ]

anne , June 28, 2017 at 04:11 PM
Mark Thoma:

I experimented and here is the missing link:

http://www3.nccu.edu.tw/~jsfeng/CPEC11.pdf

1937

The Nature of the Firm
R. H. COASE

anne -> anne... , June 28, 2017 at 04:13 PM
http://www3.nccu.edu.tw/~jsfeng/CPEC11.pdf

1937

The Nature of the Firm
By R. H. COASE

Economic theory has suffered in the past from a failure to state clearly its assumption. Economists in building up a theory have often omitted to examine the foundations on which it was erected. This examination is, however, essential not only to prevent the misunderstanding and needles controversy which arise from a lack of knowledge of the assumptions on which a theory is based, but also because of the extreme importance for economics of good judgment in choosing between rival sets of assumptions. For instance, it is suggested that the use of the word "firm" in economics may be different from the use of the term by the "plain man."' Since there is apparently a trend in economic theory towards starting analysis with the individual firm and not with the industry,2 it is ail the more necessary not only that a clear definition of the word "firm" should be given but that its difference from a firm in the "real world," if it aists, should be made clear. Mrs. Robinson has said that "the two questions to be asked of a set of assumptions in economics are: Are they tractable? and: Do they correspond with the real world?"3

Though, as Mrs. Robinson points out, "More often one set will be manageable and the other realistic," yet there may well be branches of theory where assumptions may be both manageable and realistic. It is hoped to show in the following paper that a definition of a firm may be obtained which is not only realistic in that it corresponds to what is meant by a firm in the real world, but is tractable by two of the most powerful instruments of economic analysis developed by Marshall, the idea of the margin and that of substitution, together giving the idea of substitution at the margin.4 Our definition must, of course, "relate to formal relations which are capable of being conceived exactly."

Jerry Brown -> anne... , June 28, 2017 at 07:10 PM
Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon

And here's to you
Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know
Woah woah woah
God bless you please
Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey

Hopefully I haven't confused my Robinsons again. :)

[Jun 08, 2017] What is the Last Man (Nietzsche) - Apotheosis Magazine

Jun 08, 2017 | www.apotheosismagazine.com
The glorious German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zaratustra brought up the concept of the Last Man. Trawling through the internet you will hear about the Last Man constantly, but no accurate definition or statement about what a Last Man actually is. So this article will discuss the character traits of the Last Man – let's just hope that the Last Man does not remind you of yourself.

The Last Man is primarily characterized as the type of individual that is fat, lazy and falls asleep watching TV after over indulging in junk food. This clearly denotes the type of man that is content with living a life whose primary and only purpose is to exist in a perpetual state of comfort, security and pleasure. This is a value system that does not idealize or extol higher values, challenging circumstances or hard work.

Zarathustra after descending the mountains is trying to deliver a sermon to a crowd of people that are hanging around the marketplace. Individuals that normally hang around a marketplace are typically known as commoners – especially in Nietzsche's time – and their primary concern is grotesque entertainment, gossip, manners and commerce.

After delivering his sermon about the Overman/Superman (or Ubersmensch) Nietzsche receives an apathetic and mocking response. One must imagine how extremely jarring this was for Zarathustra considering he has just descended from his sojourn in the mountains to proclaim this message. Rather comically, you can imagine Nietzsche's Zarathustra as the typical hobo you hear in the town centre raving about God or some other incoherent babble, whilst others walk past laughing, scared or neutral. Except this raving mystic is much more coherent than usual and is delivering some badass Nietzschean theory.

Nietzsche: " There they stand; there they laugh: they do not understand me; I am not the mouth for these ears They have something of which they are proud. What do they call it, that which makes them proud? Culture, they call it; it distinguishes them from the goatherds. They dislike, therefore, to hear of "contempt" of themselves. So I will appeal to their pride.
I will speak to them of the most contemptible thing: that, however, is the Last Man !"

Contempt here is being used in its typical notion, the feeling that something is worthless and should not be considered. Here, as suggested by the text, Nietzsche will appeal to their "pride" by talking to them about what he believes is the most contemptible thing – The Last Man . This Last Man is the embodiment of their culture. So, Nietzsche is clearly telling us that the Last Man is valueless and worthless.

What is the Last Man :

Nietzsche: "I tell you: one must still have chaos in oneself, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you have still chaos in yourselves.
Alas! There comes the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There comes the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.
Lo! I show you the Last Man ."

The Last Man cannot despise himself. That is, he cannot feel or understand that his actions, values or decisions may under some or all circumstances be lacking in value. This is important. To not have the orientation that your actions may be lacking, be worthless or unsubstantial entails that you do not have any serious self-reflective capacity to evaluate your actions. The Last Man we can reasonably assume acts in a manner that is contemptible and embarrassing for a culture to promote. So the fact that the Last Man does not have the consciousness nor the insight to evaluate his actions as lacking value or real meaningful substance means that he is unable to change them in a positive manner and be something other than the Last Man . Only the Last Man can be the type of man that lacks insight to such degree that he finds it not only acceptable, content, but also agreeable to be the Last Man.

Nietzsche: "What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks. The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest."

The Last Man according to Nietzsche's rendering of him is the type of individual that does not care or even remotely try to answer the questions of his existence, those that profoundly affect and determine his life. The Last Man , by this characterization, is neither a romantic, a philosopher, a scientist or a poet.

And due to the unquestioning nature of this type of man, the world has been made small and manageable. According to this type of man, the striving, the ambition, the determination to battle against hardship and the desire to become more than we currently are is a deterrent to happiness.

Nietzsche: "The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.

Yet despite all of this, the Last Man , due to his security, comfort and pleasure believes:

Nietzsche: ""We have discovered happiness" -- say the Last Men, and they blink."

Nietzsche goes on to discuss the herd-like collective behaviour and the smug mentality of this group that dogmatically and unquestionably believes the man of the present to better than the men of the past. If this is true, then the values and behaviors that instantiate the Last Man are, according to him, to be preferred over all other values. Once again, the Last Man is unwilling to question his values against any other lifestyle or generational values, due to their inability to evaluate values that should guide their or others' behaviour.

Nietzsche: "No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse. Formerly all the world was insane," -- say the subtlest of them, and they blink.

Despite Zarathustra's attempt to shame the market crowd with a contemptible notion of their culture through the concept of the Last Man , the crowd continue to mock him by clamoring to become the Last Man . As we can see, they have truly misunderstood Nietzsche's message and this market crowd is the collective manifestation of the Last Man .

--

If you're interested in buying Thus Spoke Zarathustra please use the link below to support and improve Apotheosis Magazine

[May 01, 2017] Noam Chomsky Abby Martin Electing The President of an Empire

Notable quotes:
"... To begin with, the Libertarians are not a united front. It's not a consolidated party or philosophy. It's based on the non-aggression principle, but after that, opinions vary widely. ..."
"... The corporation itself is based on an anti-free market principle--limited liability--so the whole legal definition of a corporation is called into question by some forms of Libertarianism. ..."
"... One of the main arguments of Libertarians is there wouldn't be anywhere near as many impoverished people. In theory, a free market and free enterprise undermines monopoly and the power to oppress and distributes wealth more even. It's corruption through government force that enables corporations to monopolize and move wealth to the top. ..."
"... Bush destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan. Two countries. ..."
"... Obama destroyed Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine. Four countries. ..."
"... The US's military industrial complex works around any president, sadly, When President Barack Obama was announced as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize I was shocked. ..."
"... The Democrats have shifted to the right as well. Today's mainstream Democrats are pretty much what used to be called 'moderate Republicans ..."
"... When the illiberal policies began to be instituted -- deregulation and so on -- then you start getting a series of financial crises and every time the public bails them out. ..."
YouTube

Stefan Adler 4 days ago

Excellent interview. Personally I've been listening to so-called alternative media for a very long time now, more or less since about I finished school (I was reading books by Erich Fromm, Hans A. Pestalozzi and others at that time) and I read occasionally alternative newspapers and magazines.

But this has rather dramatically changed now. In fact I more or less completely abandoned the so-called mainstream media, because at least in my opinion a big part of the mass media here in Germany has begun to turn into agencies for very radical and destructive policies designed in part by Brussels and in part by the German government. It doesn't matter which political issue you look at: The so-called refugee crisis, economical topics, the rise of right wing extremism in Germany and so on: A big part of the mainstream media systematically shifts attention away from the really interesting issues.

Take for example the stream of refugees coming to Germany and other European countries. It could have been a starting point for the German media to discuss what the real reasons for this so-called crisis are: For example the German, British, French and other weapons exports and what they are used for. Or the ecomical policies of the European Union, which severely damages the economies of countries like Senegal or Burkina Faso. But this just doesn't happen. When you turn on the publicly financed radio stations you hear them discussing technical terms of Germans policies shutting down the European borders to stop the flow of refugees, but almost no word about what this means for the desperate people who end up there. It's a very shocking experience to basically see that even publicly financed media (which we are supposed to be proud of) stay diligently within the limits of discussion, which according to Noam's and Edward Herman's work you would expect for commercial media.

Of course you can find journalism here which does not follow these restrictions, but in case of the publicly financed radio and news programmes you mostly have to wait until late in the evening (when most of the working population doesn't watch TV or listen to radio anymore) or turn to newspapers which are sold at only very few places. The media is in a terrible condition here nowadays, at least in my opinion.

coldflame 1 day ago

Siddharth Sharma 3 days ago

Chomsky hits the nail on Bernie's campaign. The energy behind the campaign is great, but it's very likely to die after the election. Which Bernie also understands as his major hurdle. He has stated many times, about creating a political revolution, and said that Obama's biggest mistake was, that he let the mass movement that elected him die.

Bernie wants people to be actively involved in politics, and take rational decisions. When asked how he intends to tackle Republicans while pushing for his progressive reforms, he replied(on the lines of), if his campaign was successful there won't be many Republicans to deal with. While I hope that to happen, it's rather optimistic of Bernie to think so.

Many people are completely missing the point of his campaign, rather worshiping him as an idol, without understanding the ideals that he stands for. Sanders supporters need to be more mature and serious, as electing him President will not be a panacea; much will remain to be done.

Callme Ishmael 5 hours ago

Chomsky is always off the mark on American Libertarianism. To begin with, the Libertarians are not a united front. It's not a consolidated party or philosophy. It's based on the non-aggression principle, but after that, opinions vary widely. His argument about environmental destruction are countered by arguments by Libertarians about private property and prosecution of fraud and the behavior of informed consumers in a free market. The corporation itself is based on an anti-free market principle--limited liability--so the whole legal definition of a corporation is called into question by some forms of Libertarianism.

The master-servant relationship is not advocated by most Libertarians. That's absurd. And why does he think there wouldn't be any private bus systems? And no empathy or private forms of welfare?

One of the main arguments of Libertarians is there wouldn't be anywhere near as many impoverished people. In theory, a free market and free enterprise undermines monopoly and the power to oppress and distributes wealth more even. It's corruption through government force that enables corporations to monopolize and move wealth to the top.

Rodrigo Rodrigues 3 days ago

Bush destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan. Two countries.

Obama destroyed Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine. Four countries.

The US's military industrial complex works around any president, sadly, When President Barack Obama was announced as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize I was shocked.

He admitted he didn't deserve the prize at the presentation. He went on to praise militarism, and gave tepid support for preventive wars, a war crime. I would like to know Chomsky's opinion on Donald Trump being a candidate .

EnnoiaBlog 2 days ago (edited)

"The Democrats have shifted to the right as well. Today's mainstream Democrats are pretty much what used to be called 'moderate Republicans.' -- Noam Chomsky, in interview with Abby Martin, Oct. 24ish 2015.

MY HERO!!!!!!!

Chris Neglia 1 day ago (edited)

10:00 -- "If a major financial institution gets in trouble, the government will bail it out, which happens repeatedly--only during the illiberal periods [not free / rights lacking] incidentally. There were no major failures during the 50s and 60s. When the illiberal policies began to be instituted -- deregulation and so on -- then you start getting a series of financial crises and every time the public bails them out.

>>> Well that has consequeces. For one thing that means the credit agencies understand these corporations are high value beyond the level of what they actually do because they're gonna be bailed out. So they get good credit ratings, means they can get cheap credit, means they can get cheap loans from the government, they can undertake risky transactions which are profitable because if something goes wrong the tax payer will take care of it.

>>>> Net result is: that amounts to practically all their profits. Is that Capitalism?"

Nailed it Noam.

[Apr 26, 2017] Ron Paul on New Syria Sanctions and Still Unproven Gas Attack Claim

With such friends like Paul Wolfowitz Defense Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster belong to Hillary team. And Trump are strongly advised to perform sex change operation.
Notable quotes:
"... How to explain this sudden embrace of the neocon line on Syria and elsewhere? It might be telling that according to recent press reports the architect of the disastrous Iraq war, Paul Wolfowitz, is lending advice on the Middle East to Defense Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. They have all apparently been friends for years. More in today's Ron Paul Liberty Report: ..."
"... If you are interested, I wrote a very detailed blog post , in which I examine the evidence about the recent chemical attack and compare the situation with what happened after the chemical attack in Ghouta in August 2013 ..."
"... Wolfowitz? The same jackass who thought Iraq could be conquered by 10,000 troops in under one hour? One of the biggest reason why US foreign policy is so recalcitrant and feckless is that former F-ups are continually called upon to lend an opinion just because they have putative experience. ..."
"... If you do not think a concerted conspiracy is taking place, I suggest you visit the Atlantic Council website and others pushing almost identical stories ! And yes - they cover events in the Ukraine as well ! Conspiracy ! They just SUPPORT each other ! What's WRONG with that ? ..."
Apr 25, 2017 | www.antiwar.com

President Trump has yet to provide any credible evidence that the gas attack in Syria earlier this month was carried out by Assad, and in the meantime very serious questions about the veracity of White House claims are arising from very credible experts. Yet the Administration seems ever more determined now that it has done a 180 degree turn and demanded regime change for Syria. Late last week the White House announced sanctions on 271 Syrian scientists who Trump claims are working on chemical weapons. The proof? None.

How to explain this sudden embrace of the neocon line on Syria and elsewhere? It might be telling that according to recent press reports the architect of the disastrous Iraq war, Paul Wolfowitz, is lending advice on the Middle East to Defense Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. They have all apparently been friends for years. More in today's Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Bill In Montgomey , a day ago

Their last point is important: Whistleblowers needed, perhaps now more than ever.

Kitty Antonik Wakfer , a day ago

Virtually all those in USGov leadership roles are not interested in peace; MIC makes for favors to dispense & $contributions for re-election. But wars can't be waged if few are willing to join military & work for Dept of Defense (what a truth-twisted name!). Depopularize both military participation & "support the troops" mania.

BrotherJonah Kitty Antonik Wakfer , 8 hours ago

Take a day off from sanity and watch TV all day. The advertising for just about every commercial product is being taken over by militarism. Toys, breakfast cereals, restaurants, cars, beer commercials, good thing we don't have tobacco commercials anymore, or we'll have a campaign like Lucky Strike GREEN is going to War! (the tobacco company changed the color on the packets because the red dye had a lot of chromium in it and chromium was needed for aircraft parts) Rice Krispies cereal was touted as "Shot from Guns!" (Let's get the kids involved!) That last one was courtesy of my Mom and her sisters, they were kids at the time. The Recruiters are getting worse.

Philippe Lemoine , 20 hours ago

If you are interested, I wrote a very detailed blog post , in which I examine the evidence about the recent chemical attack and compare the situation with what happened after the chemical attack in Ghouta in August 2013.

I argue that, in the case of the attack in Ghouta, the media narrative had rapidly unravelled and that, for that reason, we should be extremely prudent about the recent attack and not jump to conclusions. Among other things, I discuss the ballistic analysis produced by Postol and Lloyd at the time, which showed that both the much-touted NYT/HRW analysis and the US intelligence were mistaken.

I also show that, despite the fact that a lot of evidence came out that undermined the official narrative, the media never changed their stance and continued to talk as if there was no doubt that Assad's regime was responsible for the attack.

It's more than 5,000 words long and I provide a source for every single factual claim I make. The post has already been widely shared and some people have criticized it, so I will soon post a follow-up where I reply to critics and say more about the evidence that bears on the attack in Khan Sheikhoun.

Bill In Montgomey Philippe Lemoine , 8 hours ago

Thanks for this work.

mdb , 18 hours ago

Wolfowitz? The same jackass who thought Iraq could be conquered by 10,000 troops in under one hour? One of the biggest reason why US foreign policy is so recalcitrant and feckless is that former F-ups are continually called upon to lend an opinion just because they have putative experience.

The truth about the gas attack might take some time to wiggle to the surface, especially if claims made by the administration turn out bankrupt. They will likely bury it as long as possible. The media will likely be reticent to dig, having all thrown roses at Trump's feet for a little "shock and awe". Never underestimate either the willful ignorance or the ignominious glorification (by the media) of reckless bombing under the guise of humanitarian concerns. It seems they learned not a damned thing from the debacle of Iraq. They have simply gone back to sleep since then.

Paul talks about "sensibility and a better policy". It seems he was yet another "believer" who was duped by a man who tells lies faster than his lips can move. They had about 16 months to watch Trump put truth in a dumpster fire, and yet they STILL believed that his election would herald some utopian, isolationist, wet-dream fantasy-land where the MIC would fold up overnight and bring all the boys back home. How's that working out for the "believers"? Trust a man with no core at your own peril. The messiah complex (as a projection) really needs to die in this country...before we do some REAL damage to ourselves.

Bill In Montgomey mdb , 9 hours ago

Nice post. In defense of Paul, I never saw any statement of his that he was a supporter of Trump. He did say he liked SOME of the things he was saying on the campaign trail (like bring the troops home). Also, it didn't take him long to publicly criticize Trump. Contrast these critical/skeptical statements to those of other public figures. I suspect Paul's attacks on Trump will accelerate (they already have).

Also, Paul did cite "red flags" about Trump during the campaign. I saw him on one interview criticize the proclivity of Trump to propose executive actions that seemed imperial in nature, certainly outside of the confines of a president's Constitutional role.

Ron Paul's voice and views are more important than mine as they get heard and read by far more people. Thank goodness he is still around to offer his contrarian views.

I'm sure Trump already doesn't like Ron Paul, and that Trump's antagonism for Paul will only grow as events transpire.

peter brooker , 13 hours ago

For all those deluded conspiracy theorists out there ! The mainstream news almost without exception supports accusations that Syria uses Sarin gas and that Assad kills his own citizens !

They all agree that the 'moderate' opposition, 'free speech' community service activists, with only peaceful intentions, as they are deserve both our support and protection - but I am beginning to wonder who it is doing the fighting ? Oh, sorry ! Assad ! Sorry for my foolish mistake !

If you do not think a concerted conspiracy is taking place, I suggest you visit the Atlantic Council website and others pushing almost identical stories ! And yes - they cover events in the Ukraine as well ! Conspiracy ! They just SUPPORT each other ! What's WRONG with that ? Just pass the hymn-sheet around ! Please feel welcome to join in the singing !

[Mar 11, 2017] Mr. Nock is considered the genesis of the modern day libertarian movement.

Mar 11, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

runnymede -> Ms No , Mar 11, 2017 1:21 AM

Another excellent read is by Albert J. Nock

Our Enemy the State

Mr. Nock is considered the genesis of the modern day libertarian movement.

He has several excellent essays in the public domain, several are free on the mises institute site.

A truly remarkable man.

FreedomWriter -> runnymede , Mar 11, 2017 10:29 AM

An excellent book, you can download it here

http://anarcho-capitalist.org/wp-content/pdfs/Nock%20%28Albert%20Jay%29%...

[Mar 10, 2017] Libertarianism and libertarian socialism are two different things. Libertarianism is a less authoritative conservatism while libertarian socialism is a less authoritative social democracy

www.nakedcapitalism.com

MtnLife , March 10, 2017 at 10:43 am

As Kanth sees it, most of our utopian visions carry on the errors and limitations born of a misguided view of human nature. That's why communism, as it was practiced in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, projected a materialist perspective on progress while ignoring the natural human instinct for autonomy- the ability to decide for ourselves where to go and what to say and create. On flip side, capitalism runs against our instinct to trust and take care of each other.

I think this paragraph speaks volumes for transitioning to a society with a BGI with libertarian socialist leanings. Let people be free to create what they are passionate about while allowing humans to express their innate desire to care for one another without it signifying weakness or at their time own personal expense. I don't think this approach necessarily precludes rockets to Mars either. The engineers who are passionate will still get together and build one. It may take a little longer if they can't convince others to help but hopefully this will foster more cooperative approaches and less viewing of other humans as consumables.

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

JTMcPhee , March 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

And where does "libertarian socialism" end up taking us? Hmmm http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

No thanks. We're pretty well there already.

MtnLife , March 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Libertarianism and libertarian socialism are two different things. Libertarianism is a less authoritative conservatism while libertarian socialism is a less authoritative social democracy. Think Chomsky, not Ron Paul. Or think of it as a more relaxed Bernie who thinks things should be done on a smaller, more local scale.

[Dec 05, 2016] The conditions that produced and enabled Trump are the Democratic Party betrayal or working classes, especially its transformation into another wing of neoliberal party of the USA under Clinton. People now view a vote for Hillary as a vote for more of the same - increasing disparity in wealth and income.

Sizeable numbers of Americans have seen wages decline in real terms for nearly 20 years. Many/most parents in many communities do not see a better future before them, or for their children.
Notable quotes:
"... Democracy demands that ballot access rules be selected by referendum, not by the very legacy parties that maintain legislative control by effectively denying ballot access to parties that will pose a challenge to their continued rule. ..."
"... I think the U.S. Party system, in the political science sense, shifted to a new state during George W Bush's administration as, in Kevin Phillip's terms the Republican Party was taken over by Theocrats and Bad Money. ..."
"... My understanding is trumps support disproportionately comes from the small business owning classes, Ie a demographic similar to the petite bourgeoisie who have often been heavily involved in reactionary movements. This gets oversold as "working class" when class is defined by education level rather than income. ..."
"... Racism serves as an organizing principle. Politically, in an oppressive and stultifying hierarchy like the plantation South, racism not incidentally buys the loyalty of subalterns with ersatz status. ..."
"... For a time, the balkanization of American political communities by race, religion and ethnicity was an effective means to the dominance of an tiny elite with ties to an hegemonic community, but it backfired. Dismantling that balkanization has left the country with a very low level of social affiliation and thus a low capacity to organize resistance to elite depredations. ..."
"... Watching Clinton scoop up bankster money, welcome Republicans neocons to the ranks of her supporters does not fill me with hope. ..."
Aug 02, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

Glenn 08.02.16 at 5:01 pm

@William Meyer 08.02.16 at 4:41 pm

Legislators affiliated with the duopoly parties should not write the rules governing the ballot access of third parties. This exclusionary rule making amounts to preserving a self-dealing duopoly. Elections are the interest of the people who vote and those elected should not be able to subvert the democratic process by acting as a cartel.

Democracy demands that ballot access rules be selected by referendum, not by the very legacy parties that maintain legislative control by effectively denying ballot access to parties that will pose a challenge to their continued rule.

Of course any meaningful change would require a voluntary diminishment of power of the duopoly that now has dictatorial control over ballot access, and who will prevent any Constitutional Amendment that would enhance the democratic nature of the process.

bruce wilder 08.02.16 at 8:02 pm

I think the U.S. Party system, in the political science sense, shifted to a new state during George W Bush's administration as, in Kevin Phillip's terms the Republican Party was taken over by Theocrats and Bad Money.

Ronan(rf) 08.04.16 at 10:35 pm

"I generally don't give a shit about polls so I have no "data" to evidence this claim, but my guess is the majority of Trump's support comes from this broad middle"

My understanding is trumps support disproportionately comes from the small business owning classes, Ie a demographic similar to the petite bourgeoisie who have often been heavily involved in reactionary movements. This gets oversold as "working class" when class is defined by education level rather than income.

This would make some sense as they are generally in economically unstable jobs, they tend to be hostile to both big govt (regulations, freeloaders) and big business (unfair competition), and while they (rhetorically at least) tend to value personal autonomy and self sufficiency , they generally sell into smaller, local markets, and so are particularly affected by local demographic and cultural change , and decline. That's my speculation anyway.

bruce wilder 08.06.16 at 4:28 pm

I am somewhat suspicious of leaving dominating elites out of these stories of racism as an organizing principle for political economy or (cultural) community.

Racism served the purposes of a slaveholding elite that organized political communities to serve their own interests. (Or, vis a vis the Indians a land-grab or genocide.)

Racism serves as an organizing principle. Politically, in an oppressive and stultifying hierarchy like the plantation South, racism not incidentally buys the loyalty of subalterns with ersatz status. The ugly prejudices and resentful arrogance of working class whites is thus a component of how racism works to organize a political community to serve a hegemonic master class. The business end of racism, though, is the autarkic poverty imposed on the working communities: slaves, sharecroppers, poor blacks, poor whites - bad schools, bad roads, politically disabled communities, predatory institutions and authoritarian governments.

For a time, the balkanization of American political communities by race, religion and ethnicity was an effective means to the dominance of an tiny elite with ties to an hegemonic community, but it backfired. Dismantling that balkanization has left the country with a very low level of social affiliation and thus a low capacity to organize resistance to elite depredations.

bruce wilder 08.06.16 at 4:31 pm

Watching Clinton scoop up bankster money, welcome Republicans neocons to the ranks of her supporters does not fill me with hope.

[Nov 20, 2016] Trumps Appointment of Pompeo as CIA Chief is Major Fail

Notable quotes:
"... Thank you for this very good link. The swamp cant be drained with an election, the society has been infested and corrupt beyond redemption. There can't be a revolution either, because no charismatic figure could lead it, and the majority of the people prefer to bury their head in the sand. ..."
"... It'd be nice to think that the coming devolution won't be an exact repeat, e.g. a neo-Dark Age for hundreds of years, but who can say? Maybe science and philosophy won't be entirely lost this time around. But of course all speculation is rendered nul and void IF we have WW3 ..."
"... If Trump appoints any vetted neocons to high positions in his administration, he runs the risk of synchronized resignations if he decides to move closer to Russia. ..."
"... Fake Libertarians need to understand that Radical islam is a problem not because of America's wars in the Middle East or NATO. Radical islam is inherently violent. India has been a victim of this virus since the 8th century! India never invaded any country. ..."
Nov 20, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com

CorneliuCodreanu Nov 20, 2016 1:30 AM ,

Trump's Appointment of Pompeo as CIA Chief is Major Fail

http://www.newnationalist.net/2016/11/20/trumps-appointment-of-pompeo-as...

jfb CorneliuCodreanu Nov 20, 2016 8:42 AM ,
Thank you for this very good link. The swamp cant be drained with an election, the society has been infested and corrupt beyond redemption. There can't be a revolution either, because no charismatic figure could lead it, and the majority of the people prefer to bury their head in the sand.

What will eventually happen is an economic implosion and chaos. The "elite" won't be able to finance a repressive force since their "electronic money" will not be trusted, and everything will fall apart.

And years after, small communities will gradually re-emerge since there will be a need to protect the people with a local police force. But the notion of a super-state or even more of a NWO will not survive, after an initial depopulation we'll have something similar than what you had at the begining of the middle age, a life organized around small independant comunities of 3,000 or 5,000 people.

Setarcos jfb Nov 20, 2016 9:54 AM ,
Very close to my thinking ... and a precedent is the demize of the Roman Empire, when Europe devolved into numerous small feudal regions, such as in England for over a thousand years, i.e after numerous internal wars, such as the Wars of the Roses and the reign of Henry VIII, it wasn't until the 1600s and the so-called "Enlightenment" that England was unified ... and it wasn't until the 1700s that Scotland was conquered and "Great Britain" existed, also having incorporated Wales and Ireland, with at least Eire having gained independence during the 1920s, Wales never being really integrated, nor Scotland now moving away from the centre of the whole shebang ... London always.

It'd be nice to think that the coming devolution won't be an exact repeat, e.g. a neo-Dark Age for hundreds of years, but who can say? Maybe science and philosophy won't be entirely lost this time around. But of course all speculation is rendered nul and void IF we have WW3 despite, or because(?) of Trump and similar phenonema in the West.

francis scott f... Nov 20, 2016 2:09 AM ,

BE CAREFUL, MR TRUMP

If Trump appoints any vetted neocons to high positions in his administration, he runs the risk of synchronized resignations if he decides to move closer to Russia.

And when that is picked up by the arch deceivers at the WaPo, NYT, WSJ etc, it will be embarrassing for Mr Trump and for the foreign policy he campaigned on.

Lynn Trainor francis scott falseflag Nov 20, 2016 5:53 AM ,
Mr. Trump, please move closer to Russia - Putin has longed for sane dialogue with the US for the last 8 or more years and has gotten the cold shoulder.
GraveDancer Nov 20, 2016 3:24 AM ,
Fake Libertarians need to understand that Radical islam is a problem not because of America's wars in the Middle East or NATO. Radical islam is inherently violent. India has been a victim of this virus since the 8th century! India never invaded any country.

Islam fundamentally is incompatible with a modern society.

[Nov 20, 2016] The problem with libertarianism as an ideology is that it lacks a full two-thirds of what encompasses a system of belief. Libertarianism is an economic policy masquerading as a political ideology

Notable quotes:
"... Governmentally, libertarianism fares slightly better, but even then its copy/pasting leads to a political body that cannot effectively govern in any respect. Libertarians are often said to want "small government" -- which, were it true, is a noble cause -- but libertarianism demands virtually private government, which is definitionally oxymoronic. ..."
"... Regarding tranquility, libertarianism would remove all noise and behavioral ordinances, as that restricts freedom on a personal level (again, falling back to the absolute "free market" parody). ..."
"... There are aspects of libertarianism which are commendable. In the broadest sense, their desires for less centralized government control over the economy, providence, and society are commendable, as most of today's governments are, by the reckoning of the Founders, entirely totalitarian. ..."
"... Libertarianism is most often characterized as being for a completely free market–ending all government subsidies and letting any business, no matter the size or category, fail if its practices lead to failure. Libertarians even fail at free market orthodoxy. There is no free market. Markets operate within parameters set by law. Money itself can push prices... for example, housing prices were pushed during bubble. Bond prices were pushed with QE. ..."
"... Inelastic markets especially are being privatized by neo-liberal orthodoxy, this then creates a perpetual toll-booth rent extraction for the owners. For example, if ports are owned and not regulated, then the "owners" can take whatever fees they want, which then drives up price. If you have a ship, are you going to sail to the next "competing" port? There are no competing ports, as it is a natural monopoly... a natural geological feature. ..."
"... So, libertarianism, even in the economic sense is sophomoric, and doesn't deal with economic reality. ..."
"... The best economic system delivers the lowest PRICE to the most people. To do this, the best system must strip out economic rent... which is unearned income. Libertarianism does not even comprehend rent extraction. ..."
"... with now over 300 millions, many packed into large metropolitan areas, depending on its definition, a 'libertarian' utopia', as it were, in practical terms is simply out of reach. Unless everybody all at once becomes divinely perfected beings, which on paper is pretty much the only way to avoid government ..."
Nov 20, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com
Tallest Skil -> ultimate warrior , Nov 19, 2016 10:52 PM
The problem with libertarianism as an ideology is that it lacks a full two-thirds of what encompasses a system of belief. Libertarianism is an economic policy masquerading as a political ideology. Economy, society, and government comprise the full range of ideological belief, but libertarianism is exclusively an economic school of thought. Economics alone does not a civilization make.

Libertarianism, economically, feels rather agreeable. A man is entitled to the sweat of his brow and the fruits of his labor. A man has no obligation–legal or moral–to strangers, nor to his neighbors save such behaviors that would make them reciprocate and do well by him. This is why libertarians eschew welfare for systems that would provide jobs to those on welfare so that they may provide for themselves. Libertarianism is most often characterized as being for a completely free market–ending all government subsidies and letting any business, no matter the size or category, fail if its practices lead to failure.

But that is where libertarianism ends. No regard for social behaviors has been made, and so when libertarians in the political scene are forced to speak of social issues, their only reply is to copy their economic doctrines, change applicable words, and paste them into place with disastrous results. They have translated their wholly free market economy into a wholly free market for the purchase of product. Any product. Under libertarianism, any drug of any sort would be available to anyone with enough currency to procure it, and the price of the drug would be dictated, of course, by the free market. Heroin, ecstasy, marijuana, morphine, vicodin–all drugs–available without script or restriction of quantity. Any and all behaviors–sodomy, pederasty, pedophilia, bestiality–all acceptable. Private ownership of nuclear weaponry -- as well as the raw materials to build and distribute such -- legal. Libertarianism's utter lack of regard for social protection makes it a nigh-genocidal ideology.

Governmentally, libertarianism fares slightly better, but even then its copy/pasting leads to a political body that cannot effectively govern in any respect. Libertarians are often said to want "small government" -- which, were it true, is a noble cause -- but libertarianism demands virtually private government, which is definitionally oxymoronic. To give an example of libertarianism's lack of government, a typical criticism in this aspect is, "Who would build the roads?"

The US Constitution stipulates that the government must "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Government organization and implementation of national infrastructure falls under both defense and welfare. Regarding tranquility, libertarianism would remove all noise and behavioral ordinances, as that restricts freedom on a personal level (again, falling back to the absolute "free market" parody).

There are aspects of libertarianism which are commendable. In the broadest sense, their desires for less centralized government control over the economy, providence, and society are commendable, as most of today's governments are, by the reckoning of the Founders, entirely totalitarian. However, libertarianism fails to comprehend that there is a healthy scope of government–indeed that general well-being is a charge of government itself–and fails in the one thing in which it purports to believe: the freedom of the individual to pursue success, protected -- not from failure -- but from the syndicates, cabals, and individuals who would seek to take that from him.

MEFOBILLS -> Tallest Skil •Nov 19, 2016 11:09 PM

Nice job...

Libertarianism is most often characterized as being for a completely free market–ending all government subsidies and letting any business, no matter the size or category, fail if its practices lead to failure. Libertarians even fail at free market orthodoxy. There is no free market. Markets operate within parameters set by law. Money itself can push prices... for example, housing prices were pushed during bubble. Bond prices were pushed with QE.

There are different kinds of markets: elastic, inelastic, and mixed. If these markets were completely free, then they would be free for predators to take rents.

Inelastic markets especially are being privatized by neo-liberal orthodoxy, this then creates a perpetual toll-booth rent extraction for the owners. For example, if ports are owned and not regulated, then the "owners" can take whatever fees they want, which then drives up price. If you have a ship, are you going to sail to the next "competing" port? There are no competing ports, as it is a natural monopoly... a natural geological feature.

So, libertarianism, even in the economic sense is sophomoric, and doesn't deal with economic reality.

The best economic system delivers the lowest PRICE to the most people. To do this, the best system must strip out economic rent... which is unearned income. Libertarianism does not even comprehend rent extraction.

Their intents are good, but good intentions are not good science.

MEFOBILLS -> Falcon49 •Nov 20, 2016 9:48 AM

Libertarians believe in a free market...but, that cannot truly exist in today's system which is structured as a predatory system.

It is hard to let go of a belief system... I get that. Libertarianism is very narrow in its scope.

The only sector of the market that Libertarianism can apply to is elastic markets. Only there in this one sector... is where price competiton prevails.

Even then in this one sector - there can be predatory manipulations. For example, when China exported baby formula with Melamine in it. That then made the baby food lower priced. Lower prices should be free market competition.. right? But, then end result was really fraud, and said fraud ended up killing babies.

Humans are rent-seekers. Humans want to take passive income. This taking of passive income makes for uneven trading relations. How long do the rent seekers want to take passive income? In the case of banksters, they want to take usury forever, and for their families. The Rothchilds even have cousin marriage for crying out loud, that way they can keep it in the family.

Ergo, there has to be limits in any system, where certain behaviors are out of bounds. Only law, done in advance can code for morality. Free markets are not god. Free markets do not code for morality.

The very predatory nature Libertarians ascribe to governments is created by the same paradigms they espouse. I call this a form of insanity. Free markets mean rent taking. Predators then usurp government to continue their rents.

This is the cycle of history descriped by Aristotle. Rents, then Oligarchs. Oligarchs then One King. This one King becomes the King because he can save the people from their debts and taxes. Then the one King has to give freedoms to allow war. These freedoms then return back to some form of democracy to then start the cycle again.

If one even bothers to find the roots of Libertarianism, one will find shady "banking" and Austrian aristocracy working together. This further goes back to Kings using Jews as tax collectors. Like I said, libertarians are well meaning dupes who don't even know their own history.

Libertarianism is a dialectic designed to lead one astray.

inosent -> Tallest Skil •Nov 20, 2016 1:16 AM

your post is getting mixed reviews. i think it is quite good, but i dont see a clear separation between the state and society. and defining a term like libertarianism isnt easy, which might account for the down votes. wasn't it Paine who said "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. ..."

with now over 300 millions, many packed into large metropolitan areas, depending on its definition, a 'libertarian' utopia', as it were, in practical terms is simply out of reach. Unless everybody all at once becomes divinely perfected beings, which on paper is pretty much the only way to avoid government

Regrettably some form of disinterested civil govt arguably must be present.

What remains is to define the term, and figure out how to structure it to maximize the reward and benefit to those who generally find themselves within the zip code of a credible moral character (not a licentious freak) and puts the heat on their negative counterparts.

A limited agency with a narrowly defined purpose that is not and cannot be subversive to the interests of productive ppl, and should be so strictly constructed as to negate even the remotest manipulations of the machiavellianites, as well as construct an impenetrable barrier to keep them out.

Today, and for sometime it has been the zio-jew-cabal, but tomorrow it could take on a different form in pursuit of some other unholy and destructive agenda. and i think if the constitution had not been so fatally composed, we might have averted a lot of trouble.

... ... ...

[Nov 08, 2016] Regardless of How America Votes, Americans Want a Different Foreign Policy by Ron Paul

Notable quotes:
"... We know those in Washington with a vested interest in maintaining a US empire overseas will fight to the end to keep the financial gravy train flowing. The neocons and the liberal interventionists will continue to preach that we must run the world or everything will fall to ruin. But this election and many recent polls demonstrate that their time has passed. They may not know it yet, but their failures are too obvious and Americans are sick of paying for them. ..."
Nov 08, 2016 | original.antiwar.com

Regardless of How America Votes, Americans Want a Different Foreign Policy

, Print This | Share This I have said throughout this presidential campaign that it doesn't matter much which candidate wins. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are authoritarians and neither can be expected to roll back the leviathan state that destroys our civil liberties at home while destroying our economy and security with endless wars overseas. Candidates do not matter all that much, despite what the media would have us believe. Ideas do matter, however. And regardless of which of these candidates is elected, the battle of ideas now becomes critical.

The day after the election is our time to really focus our efforts on making the case for a peaceful foreign policy and the prosperity it will bring. While we may not have much to cheer in Tuesday's successful candidate, we have learned a good deal about the state of the nation from the campaigns. From the surprising success of the insurgent Bernie Sanders to a Donald Trump campaign that broke all the mainstream Republican Party rules – and may have broken the Republican Party itself – what we now understand more clearly than ever is that the American people are fed up with politics as usual. And more importantly they are fed up with the same tired old policies.

Last month a fascinating poll was conducted by the Center for the National Interest and the Charles Koch Institute. A broad ranging 1,000 Americans were asked a series of questions about US foreign policy and the 15 year "war on terror." You might think that after a decade and a half, trillions of dollars, and thousands of lives lost, Americans might take a more positive view of this massive effort to "rid the world of evildoers," as then-president George W. Bush promised. But the poll found that only 14 percent of Americans believe US foreign policy has made them more safe! More than 50 percent of those polled said the next US president should use less force overseas, and 80 percent said the president must get authorization from Congress before taking the country to war.

These results should make us very optimistic about our movement, as it shows that we are rapidly approaching the "critical mass" where new ideas will triumph over the armies of the status quo.

We know those in Washington with a vested interest in maintaining a US empire overseas will fight to the end to keep the financial gravy train flowing. The neocons and the liberal interventionists will continue to preach that we must run the world or everything will fall to ruin. But this election and many recent polls demonstrate that their time has passed. They may not know it yet, but their failures are too obvious and Americans are sick of paying for them.

What is to be done? We must continue to educate ourselves and others. We must resist those who are preaching "interventionism-lite" and calling it a real alternative. Claiming we must protect our "interests" overseas really means using the US military to benefit special interests. That is not what the military is for. We must stick to our noninterventionist guns. No more regime change. No more covert destabilization programs overseas. A solid defense budget, not an imperial military budget. US troops home now. End US military action in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and so on. Just come home.

Americans want change, no matter who wins. We need to be ready to provide that alternative.

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity .

[Nov 07, 2016] Ron Paul Regardless Of How America Votes, Americans Want A Different Foreign Policy by Ron Paul

Notable quotes:
"... From the surprising success of the insurgent Bernie Sanders to a Donald Trump campaign that broke all the mainstream Republican Party rules – and may have broken the Republican Party itself – what we now understand more clearly than ever is that the American people are fed up with politics as usual. And more importantly they are fed up with the same tired old policies. ..."
"... These results should make us very optimistic about our movement, as it shows that we are rapidly approaching the "critical mass" where new ideas will triumph over the armies of the status quo. ..."
"... We know those in Washington with a vested interest in maintaining a US empire overseas will fight to the end to keep the financial gravy train flowing. The neocons and the liberal interventionists will continue to preach that we must run the world or everything will fall to ruin. ..."
"... We must resist those who are preaching "interventionism-lite" and calling it a real alternative. Claiming we must protect our "interests" overseas really means using the US military to benefit special interests. That is not what the military is for. We must stick to our non-interventionist guns. No more regime change. No more covert destabilization programs overseas. A solid defense budget, not an imperial military budget. US troops home now. End US military action in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and so on. Just come home. ..."
Nov 07, 2016 | ronpaulinstitute.org

I have said throughout this presidential campaign that it doesn't matter much which candidate wins. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are authoritarians and neither can be expected to roll back the leviathan state that destroys our civil liberties at home while destroying our economy and security with endless wars overseas. Candidates do not matter all that much, despite what the media would have us believe. Ideas do matter, however. And regardless of which of these candidates is elected, the battle of ideas now becomes critical.

The day after the election is our time to really focus our efforts on making the case for a peaceful foreign policy and the prosperity it will bring. While we may not have much to cheer in Tuesday's successful candidate, we have learned a good deal about the state of the nation from the campaigns. From the surprising success of the insurgent Bernie Sanders to a Donald Trump campaign that broke all the mainstream Republican Party rules – and may have broken the Republican Party itself – what we now understand more clearly than ever is that the American people are fed up with politics as usual. And more importantly they are fed up with the same tired old policies.

Last month a fascinating poll was conducted by the Center for the National Interest and the Charles Koch Institute. A broad ranging 1,000 Americans were asked a series of questions about US foreign policy and the 15 year "war on terror." You might think that after a decade and a half, trillions of dollars, and thousands of lives lost, Americans might take a more positive view of this massive effort to "rid the world of evil-doers," as then-president George W. Bush promised. But the poll found that only 14 percent of Americans believe US foreign policy has made them more safe! More than 50 percent of those polled said the next US president should use less force overseas, and 80 percent said the president must get authorization from Congress before taking the country to war.

These results should make us very optimistic about our movement, as it shows that we are rapidly approaching the "critical mass" where new ideas will triumph over the armies of the status quo.

We know those in Washington with a vested interest in maintaining a US empire overseas will fight to the end to keep the financial gravy train flowing. The neocons and the liberal interventionists will continue to preach that we must run the world or everything will fall to ruin. But this election and many recent polls demonstrate that their time has passed. They may not know it yet, but their failures are too obvious and Americans are sick of paying for them.

What is to be done? We must continue to educate ourselves and others. We must resist those who are preaching "interventionism-lite" and calling it a real alternative. Claiming we must protect our "interests" overseas really means using the US military to benefit special interests. That is not what the military is for. We must stick to our non-interventionist guns. No more regime change. No more covert destabilization programs overseas. A solid defense budget, not an imperial military budget. US troops home now. End US military action in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and so on. Just come home.

Americans want change, no matter who wins. We need to be ready to provide that alternative.


Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute

[Nov 03, 2016] Trump will simply pursue "saner, more sensible" immigration policies

www.washingtonpost.com

Thiel also criticized the media's coverage of Trump's bombastic remarks. He said that while the media takes Trump's remarks "literally" but not "seriously," he believes Trump supporters take them seriously but not literally. In short, Trump isn't actually going to impose religious tests on immigrants or build a wall along the Mexican border, as he has repeatedly said, but will simply pursue "saner, more sensible" immigration policies.

"His larger-than-life persona attracts a lot of attention. Nobody would suggest that Donald Trump is a humble man. But the big things he's right about amount to a much needed dose of humility in our politics," Thiel said.

While the Silicon Valley tech corridor and suburbs around Washington have thrived in the last decade or more, many other parts of the country have been gutted by economic and trade policies that closed manufacturing plants and shipped jobs overseas, Thiel said, reiterating a previous talking point.

"Most Americans don't live by the Beltway or the San Francisco Bay. Most Americans haven't been part of that prosperity," Thiel said Monday. "It shouldn't be surprising to see people vote for Bernie Sanders or for Donald Trump, who is the only outsider left in the race."

Thiel later said he had hoped the presidential race might come down to Sanders and Trump, two outsiders with distinct views on the root cause of the nation's economic malaise and the best course of action to fix it. "That would have been a very different sort of debate," he said.

Thiel's prepared remarks seemed more of an admonishment of the state of the country today than a ringing endorsement of Trump's persona and policies. He decried high medical costs and the lack of savings baby boomers have on hand. He said millennials are burdened by soaring tuition costs and a poor outlook on the future. Meanwhile, he said, the federal government has wasted trillions of dollars fighting wars in Africa and the Middle East that have yet to be won.

Trump is the only candidate who shares his view that the country's problems are substantial and need drastic change to be repaired, Thiel said. Clinton, on the other hand, does not see a need for a hard reset on some of the country's policies and would likely lead the U.S. into additional costly conflicts abroad, he said.

A self-described libertarian, Thiel amassed his fortune as the co-founder of digital payment company PayPal and data analytics firm Palantir Technologies. He has continued to add to that wealth through venture capital investments in companies that include Facebook, Airbnb, Lyft and Spotify, among many others.

[Oct 29, 2016] The level of militarism in the current US society and MSM is really staggering. anti-war forces are completely destroyed (with the abandonment of draft) and are limited for

Oct 29, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
libertarians (such as Ron Paul) and paleoconservatives.

likbez -> Fred C. Dobbs... October 28, 2016 at 04:37 PM , 2016 at 04:37 PM

>"Plus, she's very nasty towards Vlad Putin."

What I do not get is how one can call himself/herself a democrat and be jingoistic monster. That's the problem with Democratic Party and its supporters. Such people for me are DINO ("Democrats only in name"). Closet neocons, if you wish. The level of militarism in the current US society and MSM is really staggering. anti-war forces are completely destroyed (with the abandonment of draft) and are limited for libertarians (such as Ron Paul) and paleoconservatives. There is almost completely empty space on the left. Dennis Kucinich is one of the few exceptions
(see http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2016/10/27/must-read-of-the-day-dennis-kucinich-issues-extraordinary-warning-on-d-c-s-think-tank-warmongers/ )

I think that people like Robert Kagan, Victoria Nuland and Dick Cheney can now proudly join Democratic Party and feel themselves quite at home.

BTW Hillary is actually very pleasant with people of the same level. It's only subordinates, close relatives and Security Service agents, who are on the receiving end of her wrath. A typical "kiss up, kick down personality".

The right word probably would not "nasty", but "duplicitous".

Or "treacherous" as this involves breaking of previous agreements (with a smile) as the USA diplomacy essentially involves positioning the country above the international law. As in "I am the law".

Obama is not that different. I think he even more sleazy then Hillary and as such is more difficult to deal with. He also is at his prime, while she is definitely past hers:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-putin-usa-idUSKCN12R25E

== quote ==
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday it was hard for him to work with the current U.S. administration because it did not stick to any agreements, including on Syria.

Putin said he was ready to engage with a new president however, whoever the American people chose, and to discuss any problem.
== end of quote ==

Syria is an "Obama-approved" adventure, is not it ? The same is true for Libya. So formally he is no less jingoistic then Hillary, Nobel Peace price notwithstanding.

Other things equal, it might be easier for Putin to deal with Hillary then Obama, as she has so many skeletons in the closet and might soon be impeached by House.

[Oct 20, 2016] Elites generally control or dominate the dissemination of information and knowledge and employ that control to their own advantage

Notable quotes:
"... Antonio Gramsci addressed these issues in great detail during the 1920s and 1930s. Elites generally control or dominate the dissemination of information and knowledge and employ that control to their own advantage. They foster narratives that justify their own position, blame the poor for their own condition (sloth, fecklessness, etc.), and divert blame from the capitalists (the actual culprits) onto other disadvantaged groups (women, minorities, immigrants, etc.). Conservatives, who seek to preserve elite privilege, aggressively push these narratives. ..."
"... Today liberals don't have the appeals to public opinion of FDR, or even Sanders, don't have someone as tough in passing legislation as LBJ, or the mobilisation of voters of the New Deal coalition. Sanders recognised these problems all along. ..."
"... I also suspect that with all the rhetorical celebration of "small businesses", a lot of people don't really want to have "jobs" but would prefer to be small business owners, with all of the attached narratives of autonomy ("be your own boss") etc. ..."
"... Visions about workers, jobs, etc. may not appeal to them as much as imagined, aside from decades of hearing promises of jobs etc. that never materialized for a lot of people. ..."
"... I used to think when "small businesses" is mentioned in e.g. election ads or messaging to convince people to vote yes or no on a proposition, it means "right wing". I'm no longer sure that's universally the case. ..."
"... When I think of "small business" I usually think of marginally competent management (one step ahead of bankruptcy) and brutal exploitation of low paid labor. ..."
Oct 20, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

DrDick -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... Reply Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 07:29 AM

Antonio Gramsci addressed these issues in great detail during the 1920s and 1930s. Elites generally control or dominate the dissemination of information and knowledge and employ that control to their own advantage. They foster narratives that justify their own position, blame the poor for their own condition (sloth, fecklessness, etc.), and divert blame from the capitalists (the actual culprits) onto other disadvantaged groups (women, minorities, immigrants, etc.). Conservatives, who seek to preserve elite privilege, aggressively push these narratives.

Liberals have been much less successful for several reasons. The firstly, because they have largely favored technocratic incrementalism, which is hardly soul stirring and whose impacts are modest at best. Secondly liberals also mostly represent the interests of the modestly affluent, who would be inconvenienced by more egalitarian interventions. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have been a good examples of more effective kinds of approaches.

Adamski -> DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 07:43 AM
Rightwing populism isn't just Trump. The entire conservative media ecosystem pushes the Us v Them narrative about the moochers and the Other. American liberals don't defend their economic interventions aggressively to public opinion. If you don't promote and defend policies, the conservatives win by default. Civil rights and Medicare weren't achieved by incrementalism, not to mention the New Deal.

Today liberals don't have the appeals to public opinion of FDR, or even Sanders, don't have someone as tough in passing legislation as LBJ, or the mobilisation of voters of the New Deal coalition. Sanders recognised these problems all along.

If you do what you can in the executive branch and then appeal to the public to give you more power in legislative elections, you may get it. Instead of making excuses like Obama and Bill Clinton and then losing the midterms, never to get Congress back.

It worked when he was mayor of Burlington where the council opposed him but he got a favourable majority elected in short order.

cm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , October 20, 2016 at 08:04 AM
I also suspect that with all the rhetorical celebration of "small businesses", a lot of people don't really want to have "jobs" but would prefer to be small business owners, with all of the attached narratives of autonomy ("be your own boss") etc.

Many take jobs for lack of such opportunity, or because deep down they know they are not leadership material or don't have the stomach to deal with business management issues every day, which is closer to reality than living the dream. But maybe one day, they will open their own shop. This is basically the same argument as the "temporarily embarrassed millionaire", though it is not (primarily) about financial riches but personal fulfillment.

Visions about workers, jobs, etc. may not appeal to them as much as imagined, aside from decades of hearing promises of jobs etc. that never materialized for a lot of people.

I used to think when "small businesses" is mentioned in e.g. election ads or messaging to convince people to vote yes or no on a proposition, it means "right wing". I'm no longer sure that's universally the case.

DrDick -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , October 20, 2016 at 12:08 PM
When I think of "small business" I usually think of marginally competent management (one step ahead of bankruptcy) and brutal exploitation of low paid labor.
Tom aka Rusty said in reply to DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 12:55 PM
Using $5M in gross revenue as a definitional cut-off, I could introduce you to dozens of exceptions to your rule.
DrDick -> Tom aka Rusty... , October 20, 2016 at 01:06 PM
And they represent exactly what percentage of "small businesses"?
DrDick -> DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 01:27 PM
Never mind, I looked it up myself and about 90% of small businesses have 20 employees or less and revenues under $2 million. Even Forbes thinks the SBA's definition that you cite is BS.
Tom aka Rusty said in reply to DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 02:02 PM
Ok, make it $2M, same applies.

By the way that 10% includes a good chunk of lite manufacturing and construction.

Tom aka Rusty said in reply to DrDick... , October 20, 2016 at 02:03 PM
And what evidence do you have they are largely incompetent and near bankruptcy?
DrDick -> Tom aka Rusty... , October 20, 2016 at 02:13 PM
typepad does not seem to like my link, but half of all small businesses fail in the first 5 years.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to DrDick... , -1
Yep, that sounds just like the restaurant business.

[Oct 15, 2016] Apologize to Ron Paul - YouTube

Oct 15, 2016 | www.youtube.com

Jerry LoCoco 5 years ago Great Video! One of the best! Ron Paul 2012

Mike C 6 years ago And i love that song just not that version !Well thats cause the media and hollywood have everyone brainwashed. Brainwashed into a media nation and thats why we have a bunch of actors in office. When people are brought to the brink they will wake up and find out its too late until then all the little worker bees will keep there ignorant heads in the sand!

mbear14 7 years ago Haha. Exactly. Here is how all of my conversations end with Obama supporters: "Well, whatever...fuck it...at least he's not that asshole Bush." Such strong convictions from enlightened individuals. Not one of them can give me a solid reason as to how we are NOT currently living in the 3rd Bush administration. And yes, I would agree that "white guilt" unfortunately sneaked it's way into the votes :(
mbear14 7 years ago I live in DC and the amount of conversations I've had with Obama sheeple makes it very discouraging. They have absolutely NO idea why they voted for McBama. They are completely oblivious to his policies, about why we were attacked on 9/11, the role of the Fed Reserve, the Patriot Act being written by Joe Biden, the list is endless. And yes, they even do admit that "Ron Paul is right on alot of things, but he can't win..." Pathetic. We elected Britney Spears as president. Cult of Personality.

[Oct 15, 2016] Apologize Ron Paul Tea Party 2007

Oct 15, 2016 | www.youtube.com

YouTube

pink4m3 5 years ago Thank you for the video. Honestly I never hard of Ron Paul on TV. I found him on youtube a few months ago. I think he's amazing and I feel stupid for not knowing who he is and to vote for someone else.
PTTHOR 6 years ago Ron Paul as president is a great dream that I have.... But remember- what we really need is several Ron Paul's in congress and Senate because that's where the power is! That's where the change really happens. 1
Mooseboy240 Mooseboy240 6 years ago @hardcorepatriot YES and if we fall then we fall united 1
Mooseboy240 Mooseboy240 6 years ago omg I hate that everything ron paul is just internet based if everyone had gotten out and told their friends and familys what was going on maybe we wouldn't have another puppet in the whitehouse. I have been telling everyone why they should vote for ron paul and candidates who believe similarly or at least as often as I can considering its alot to explain and most people don't care until they hear how it dramatically affects there everyday lives then 99% of them suddenly realize it matters! 1
Tomacity(Rast) Tomacity(Rast) 6 years ago Ron Paul Is my president

[Mar 11, 2016] Ron Paul thinks that some of the top candidates want to carpet bomb the world

www.mintpressnews.com

... ... ...

Paul's criticism of the presidential contenders didn't stop with Sanders and Trump.

"From a libertarian viewpoint, there is absolutely no meaningful difference between Hillary and Trump," he emphatically remarked. "I mean, they both support [the] military-industrial complex, the federal reserve, deficits, entitlements, invasion of our privacy."

Indeed, Paul summarized the absurdity of the 2016 election platforms, saying, "It's super-nationalistic populism versus socialism. That is so remote from what we need to be doing - we need to be moving ourselves away from tyranny toward liberty."

Asked if he would be endorsing any candidates, Paul explained there isn't a single person left in the race who fits libertarian ideals of limiting government and protecting individual liberties.

"Some of the top candidates want to carpet bomb the world," he said, shaking his head in disbelief. "No, a libertarian can't endorse this authoritarian approach."

leslymill • 4 days ago

I was a Ron Paul delegate and he is wrong. Trump in NOT for allowing my property, town, county, state or country to be overrun by lawless un-American criminals. I agree Trump is not a liberty candidate in many many ways that have me concerned. I am afraid Trump is out for power as much as to make america great again. I hope we force him to be surrounded by strong minded Constitutional conservatives, cause he is a much better person to take the oath of office than Hitlery Clinton.I will always listen to Ron Paul he is wiser than I am but here I don't completely agree. He is just disgusted. I am disgusted because many of us see our country going down and know Ron was the only one to fix it. Now all we can do is influence candidates with his way of Paulatics.

imsharon • 7 days ago

I do like Ron Paul in spite of the fact that I do NOT agree with his summation in regard to "what we need to be doing". As to his belief that we need to be limiting government, Paul is more Conservative Republican than he spouts. In my view, limiting Government is exactly what the GOP is about...replacing it with Corporate Power and total Control of our country, which has already gained a strong foothold.

colram -> imsharon • 5 days ago

For his entire career, Ron Paul has fought for the power of individuals to determine their own fate, without control by governments or corporations. The GOP is owned by corporations just as the democratic party is. Time for them to lose the power.

[Mar 07, 2016] Do We Need To Rebuild The Military by Ron Paul

Notable quotes:
"... What does "rebuild the military" mean? Has the budget been gutted? Have the useless weapons programs like the F-35 finally been shut down? No, the United States still spends more on its military than the next 14 countries combined. And the official military budget is only part of the story. The total spending on the US empire is well over one trillion dollars per year. Under the Obama Administration the military budget is still 41 percent more than it was in 2001, and seven percent higher than at the peak of the Cold War. ..."
"... Russia, which the neocons claim is the greatest threat to the United States, spends about one-tenth what we do on its military. China, the other "greatest threat," has a military budget less than 25 percent of ours. ..."
"... I would rebuild it in a very different way, however. I would not rebuild it according to the demands of the military-industrial complex, which cares far more about getting rich than about protecting our country. I would not rebuild the military so that it can overthrow more foreign governments who refuse to do the bidding of Washington's neocons. I would not rebuild the military so that it can better protect our wealthy allies in Europe, NATO, Japan, and South Korea. I would not rebuild the military so that it can better occupy countries overseas and help create conditions for blowback here at home. ..."
"... No. The best way to really "rebuild" the US military would be to stop abusing the military in the first place. The purpose of the US military is to defend the United States. It is not to make the world safe for oil pipelines, or corrupt Gulf monarchies, or NATO, or Israel. Unlike the neocons who are so eager to send our troops to war, I have actually served in the US military. I understand that to keep our military strong we must constrain our foreign policy. We must adopt a policy of non-intervention and a strong defense of this country. The neocons will weaken our country and our military by promoting more war. We need to "rebuild" the military by restoring as its mission the defense of the United States, not of Washington's overseas empire. ..."
"... Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute ..."
March 6, 2016 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
The Republican presidential debates have become so heated and filled with insults, it almost seems we are watching a pro wrestling match. There is no civility, and I wonder whether the candidates are about to come to blows. But despite what appears to be total disagreement among them, there is one area where they all agree. They all promise that if elected they will "rebuild the military."

What does "rebuild the military" mean? Has the budget been gutted? Have the useless weapons programs like the F-35 finally been shut down? No, the United States still spends more on its military than the next 14 countries combined. And the official military budget is only part of the story. The total spending on the US empire is well over one trillion dollars per year. Under the Obama Administration the military budget is still 41 percent more than it was in 2001, and seven percent higher than at the peak of the Cold War.

Russia, which the neocons claim is the greatest threat to the United States, spends about one-tenth what we do on its military. China, the other "greatest threat," has a military budget less than 25 percent of ours.

Last week the Pentagon announced it is sending a small naval force of US warships to the South China Sea because, as Commander of the US Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee, China is militarizing the area. Yes, China is supposedly militarizing the area around China, so the US is justified in sending its own military to the area. Is that a wise use of the US military?

The US military maintains over 900 bases in 130 countries. It is actively involved in at least seven wars right now, including in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and elsewhere. US Special Forces are deployed in 134 countries across the globe. Does that sound like a military that has been gutted?

I do not agree with the presidential candidates, but I do agree that the military needs to be rebuilt. I would rebuild it in a very different way, however. I would not rebuild it according to the demands of the military-industrial complex, which cares far more about getting rich than about protecting our country. I would not rebuild the military so that it can overthrow more foreign governments who refuse to do the bidding of Washington's neocons. I would not rebuild the military so that it can better protect our wealthy allies in Europe, NATO, Japan, and South Korea. I would not rebuild the military so that it can better occupy countries overseas and help create conditions for blowback here at home.

No. The best way to really "rebuild" the US military would be to stop abusing the military in the first place. The purpose of the US military is to defend the United States. It is not to make the world safe for oil pipelines, or corrupt Gulf monarchies, or NATO, or Israel. Unlike the neocons who are so eager to send our troops to war, I have actually served in the US military. I understand that to keep our military strong we must constrain our foreign policy. We must adopt a policy of non-intervention and a strong defense of this country. The neocons will weaken our country and our military by promoting more war. We need to "rebuild" the military by restoring as its mission the defense of the United States, not of Washington's overseas empire.


Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute

[Mar 07, 2016] Vijay Prashad The Foreign Policy of the 1%

Notable quotes:
"... This BRILLIANT presentation should be heard (and I hope RNN runs it in print so that it can be copied, old-style, and distributed on 'paper')..absorbed as a concise, integrated history of globalization-the neo-imperialist policy that continues from the 19th-20thc. imperialism... and revealed as a continuation process of global capitalism & its "1%" class. ..."
"... One of the most important takeaways, though not a necessarily new one but one worth reiterating, is that national boundaries in terms of the US and the 1% are of no importance since a world domination economic empire is the goal. ..."
"... The bloated US imperial military budget reflects how the 99% at home fund this empire, of course they never voting for it. The military is not a US military--it is the military of the 1% and global capitalism. This actually should be the meme that those trying to raise consciousness put forth, since those on the left and the right from the middle and lower classes can begin to see the whole electoral mirage for what it is. ..."
"... Clearly the methods concerned human beings are using to address the madness of the elites and their corporate/military state have had absolutely no impact: Poverty is more rampant now than ever before, the gap between rich and poor very much wider and the number of wars keeps increasing, especially the race war against the Arab people. ..."
"... Big Brother's web of deception is weakening. The ranks of unbelievers grows daily. But does the cynicism beget People Power or Donald Trump? ..."
"... Dear DreamJoe. I think you're right that BB's web of deception is weakening, but I doubt that it's weakened enough. I'm sure you understand the 'deep state' concept. It does not matter which flunkeys the "people" elect; the deep state continues to run the show. What's going on now is all bread and circuses; it means nothing. ..."
"... Bernie and Donald are manifestations of a deeper systemic failures that have changed everything for millions of people. B & D will come and go, but that crisis will remain, and will become more acute. ..."
"... why do American politicians become incontinent when they mention Saudi Arabia ..."
"... recycling mechanism for capitalism ..."
"... there is a suicidal death pact between the West and Saudi Arabia ..."
"... Protecting oligarchs investments and rate of return on shareholders gains is worlds burden we are told a needed evil in order to advance GROWTH endlessly. Growth code word for consolidation of power and wealth by ownership consolidation globally by one percent. ..."
"... For many years I would have been agreeing with you...after 50 years I have recognized that in the scheme of things, no 'change' (from tribal to private property, from feudalism to capitalism) has 'just happened'...magically born clean & clear. The process is messy, no clear beginning or even END is really possible to see. History is filled with ironies and this time its the Dem Arm of the Duopoly letting Bernie in- as an artificial straw-man candidate to make Hillary's campaign appear to be a contest between the 'idealist' and 'the realist' and not the global coronation it is --- let in by mistake (just as every power elite has miscalculated & underestimated the powerful yearning for more justice & liberty& instinctive anger at the few that enslave the majority (thru history 'The 99%'...). ..."
"... So long as he rises to militarily protect "National Interests" abroad - read: imperial billionaire class interests - he's really one of them. ..."
"... He could be doing exactly what Trump is doing except from the populist left perspective: taking down the duopoly's both corporate mafia houses with uncompromising fervor. ..."
"... Excellent discussion and lecture. A very important part of the 'due diligence' of democratic participation and research by the people. ..."
therealnews.com
SettingTheNarrative, link
Be nice to have a book called "The Foreign Policy of the 1%". Maybe include references to GATT, TPP, oil wars as mentioned in the presentation.

Other questions:

1) How does Foreign Policy of 1%: tie to Economic Hitman, John Perkins?
2) How does Foreign Policy of 1%: tie to conservative founders like Jeane Kirkpatrick?
3) How does Foreign Policy of 1%: tie to rise to Regan Revolution? Trump?

ForDemocracy, link
This BRILLIANT presentation should be heard (and I hope RNN runs it in print so that it can be copied, old-style, and distributed on 'paper')..absorbed as a concise, integrated history of globalization-the neo-imperialist policy that continues from the 19th-20thc. imperialism... and revealed as a continuation process of global capitalism & its "1%" class.

Deepest thanks to Vijay Prashad...and to others like professor Bennis (present in the audience)... whose in-depth analysis of the system can, if studied, contribute to putting the nascent 'political revolution' Bernie calls for...into a real democratic movement in this country. We are so woefully ignorant as 'members of the 99%'- it seems worst of all in America-- intentionally kept isolated from knowing anything about this country/corporation's 'foreign policy' (aka as Capitalist system policy or 'the 1% policy) that Bernie cannot even broach what Vijay has given here. But he at least opens up some of our can of worms, the interrconnectdedness of class-interests and the devastation this country's (and the global cabal of ) capitalist voracious economic interests rains upon the planet.

The Mid-East is a product of Capitalism that will, if we don't recognize the process & change course & priorties, will soon overtake all of Africa and all 'undeveloped' (pre-Capitalist) countries around the globe--The destruction and never-ending blur of war and annihilation of peoples, cultures and even the possibility of 'political evolution' is a product of the profit-at-any-and-all-costs that is the hidden underbelly of a system of economics that counts humanity as nothing. It is a sick system. It is a system whose sickness brings death to all it touches... and we are seeing now it is bringing ITS OWN DEATH as well.

The '99% policy' (again a phrase Prashad should be congratulated for bringing into the language) is indeed one that understands that our needs --the people's needs, not 'national interests' AKA capitalist corporate/financial interests --- are global, that peace projects are essentially anti-capitalist projects.... and our needs-to build a new society here in the U.S. must begin to be linked to seeing Capitalism as the root cause of so much suffering that must be replaced by true democratic awakening a- r/evolutionary process that combines economic and civic/political -- that we must support in every way possible. Step One: support the movement for changed priorities & values by voting class-consciously.

Trainee Christian, link
The 1% or the oligarchy have completely won the world, our only way to fight against such power is to abandon buying their products, take great care on who you vote for in any election, only people who have a long record of social thinking should be considers. They can be diminished but not beaten.
Sillyputta, link
One of the most important takeaways, though not a necessarily new one but one worth reiterating, is that national boundaries in terms of the US and the 1% are of no importance since a world domination economic empire is the goal.

The bloated US imperial military budget reflects how the 99% at home fund this empire, of course they never voting for it. The military is not a US military--it is the military of the 1% and global capitalism. This actually should be the meme that those trying to raise consciousness put forth, since those on the left and the right from the middle and lower classes can begin to see the whole electoral mirage for what it is.

denden11, link
All of what's been said about the elites, the one percent, has already been said many years ago. The conversation about the wealthy elites destroying our world has changed only in the area of how much of our world has and is being destroyed. Absolutely nothing else has changed, nothing else.

Clearly the methods concerned human beings are using to address the madness of the elites and their corporate/military state have had absolutely no impact: Poverty is more rampant now than ever before, the gap between rich and poor very much wider and the number of wars keeps increasing, especially the race war against the Arab people. Meanwhile, as we continue to speak the ocean is licking at our doorstep, the average mean temperature has ticked up a few notches and we are all completely distracted by which power hungry corporate zealot is going to occupy the office which is responsible for making our human condition even more dire. The circus that is this election is merely a ploy by the elites to make us believe that we actually do have a choice. Uh-huh; yet if I were to suggest what REALLY needs to be done to save the human race I would be in a court which functions only to impoverish those of us who try to speak the truth of our situation objectively. The 'Justice' system's only function is to render us powerless. Whether one is guilty or innocent is completely irrelevant anymore. All they have to do is file charges and they have your wealth. Good luck to all of us as we all talk ourselves to death.

Vivienne Perkins -> denden11, link
Dear denden11: You get gold stars in heaven as far as I'm concerned for telling the exact truth
in the plainest possible terms. Bravissimo. "Talk/ing/ ourselves to death" is, I'm sorry to say, what we are doing. I've been working on these issues for forty years, looking for an exit from this completely interlocked system. I'm sorry to say I haven't seen the exit. I do understand how we have painted ourselves into this corner over the past 250 years (since the so-called Enlightenment), but without repentance on our part and grace on God's part, we're doomed because we all believe the Big Lies pumped into us moment by moment by Big Brother. And it's the Big Lies that keep us terminally confused and fragmented.
Trainee Christian ->Vivienne Perkins link
Well-done, you know the truth.
dreamjoehill -> Vivienne Perkins link
Don't Believe the Hype was an NWA rap anthem over twenty year ago. I always liked the shouted line, "And I don't take Ritalin!"

Big Brother's web of deception is weakening. The ranks of unbelievers grows daily. But does the cynicism beget People Power or Donald Trump?

In defeat, will Sander's campaign supporters radicalize or demoralize into apathy or tepid support for Hillary - on the grounds that she's less of an evil than Trumpty Dumbty?

If not defeated, will Sanders and his campaign mobilize the People to fight the powers that be? Otherwise, he has no real power base, short of selling out on his domestic spending promises and becoming another social democratic lapdog for Capital- like Tony Blair.

Vivienne Perkins -> dreamjoehill link
Dear DreamJoe. I think you're right that BB's web of deception is weakening, but I doubt that it's weakened enough. I'm sure you understand the 'deep state' concept. It does not matter which flunkeys the "people" elect; the deep state continues to run the show. What's going on now is all bread and circuses; it means nothing.
dreamjoehill -> Vivienne Perkins link
As material conditions change drastically for tens of millions of USAns, the old propaganda loses effect. New propaganda is required to channel the new class tensions. Still an opening may be created. People can't heat their homes with propaganda, the kids are living in the basement and grandpa can't afford a nursing home and he's drinking himself to death. That's the new normal, or variations on it for a lot of people who don't believe the hype anymore.

Bernie and Donald are manifestations of a deeper systemic failures that have changed everything for millions of people. B & D will come and go, but that crisis will remain, and will become more acute.

Interesting times.

WaveRunnerMN , link
Great work Vijay...got my "filters" back on. Cut and pasted original comment below despite TRNN labeling of "time of posting" which is irrelevant at this point.

Wow...now that I got my rational filters back on this was a great piece by Vijay and succinctly states what many of us who "attempt" to not only follow ME events but to understand not only the modern history by the motives of the major players in the region. Thanks for this piece and others...looking forward to the others.

WaveRunnerMN -> WaveRunnerMN link
Posted earlier while my mind was on 2016 election cycle watching MSM in "panic mode"

Thought this was going to be a rational discussion on US foreign policy until the part on ? "Trumps Red Book". I had hoped to rather hear, "The Red Book of the American Templars" ...taking from the Knights Templar in Europe prior the collapse of the feudal system. I will say that Vijay's comment on Cruz was quite appropriate though it would also have been better to not only put it into context but also illustrate that Cruz's father Rafael Cruz believes in a system contrary to the founding ideals of the US Constitution: He states in an interview with mainstream media during his son's primary campaign that [to paraphrase] "secularism is evil and corrupt". Here is an excerpt of his bio from Wiki:

"During an interview conducted by the Christian Post in 2014, Rafael Cruz stated, "I think we cannot separate politics and religion; they are interrelated. They've always been interrelated."[29] Salon described Cruz as a "Dominionist, devoted to a movement that finds in Genesis a mandate that 'men of faith' seize control of public institutions and govern by biblical principle."[30] However, The Public Eye states that Dominionists believe that the U.S. Constitution should be the vehicle for remaking America as a Christian nation.[31]"

Fareed Zakaria interviewed a columnist from the Wall Street Journal today on Fareed's GPS program and flatly asked him [paraphrased], "Is not the Wall Street Journal responsible for creating the racist paradigm that Trump took advantage of "? Let us begin with rational dialogue and not demagogy. Quite frankly with regard to both Cruz and Trump [in context of the 2016 elections cycle] a more insightful comment would have been...Change cannot come from within the current electoral processes here in the US with Citizen's United as its "masthead" and "Corporations are people as its rallying cry"!

Alice X link
Thank you, a valuable piece. There are a number of takeaway quotes, but the ringer for me was from Ray McGovern (rhetorically):
why do American politicians become incontinent when they mention Saudi Arabia

Shortly thereafter Vijay Prashad in what he calls the Saudi post 1970s recycling mechanism for capitalism says:

there is a suicidal death pact between the West and Saudi Arabia
WaveRunnerMN ->Alice X link
Not the West....just the F.I.R.E industries...driving the housing bubble; shopping malls; office buildings; buying municipal bonds [as they the municipalities bought and built prisons; jails; SWAT vehicles and security equipment (developed by the Israelis); and keeping the insurance companies afloat while AllState had time after Katrina to pitch their subsidiaries allowing these subsidiaries to file for bankruptcy]...now all the maintenance expense is coming due and cities and counties are going broke... along with the Saudi investments here in US.
itsthethird link
Protecting oligarchs investments and rate of return on shareholders gains is worlds burden we are told a needed evil in order to advance GROWTH endlessly. Growth code word for consolidation of power and wealth by ownership consolidation globally by one percent. What about the 99 percent? While populations simply need and want also income and investment security globally.

What about populations in massive consumer debt for education, housing, etc. to fund one percent Growth. Laborers across globe are all in same boat simply labor for food without anything else to pass along to progeny but what is most important ethics. A world government established by corporatism advantage by authority of law and advantage all directed toward endless returns to oligarchy family cartels is not an acceptable world organization of division of resources because it is tranny, exclusive, extraction and fraudulent. Such madness does NOT float all boats.

All this while oligarchs control Taxation of government authority and hidden excessive investment and fraud return taxation. While Governments in west don't even jail corporate criminals while west claims law is just while skewed in favor of protecting one percent, their returns on investment and investments. Billionaires we find in some parts of so called Unjust regions of world not yet on board with cartel game are calling out fraud that harms individuals and society aggressively.

TEHRAN, Iran - An Iranian court has sentenced a well-known tycoon to death for corruption linked to oil sales during the rule of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the judiciary spokesman said Sunday.

Babak Zanjani and two of his associates were sentenced to death for "money laundering," among other charges, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi said in brief remarks broadcast on state TV. He did not identify the two associates. Previous state media reports have said the three were charged with forgery and fraud.

"The court has recognized the three defendants as 'corruptors on earth' and sentenced them to death," said Ejehi. "Corruptors on earth" is an Islamic term referring to crimes that are punishable by death because they have a major impact on society. The verdict, which came after a nearly five-month trial, can be appealed.

sisterlauren link
Looking forward to a transcript. I really enjoyed listening to this live yesterday.
aprescoup link
So when Bernie winds up on the regime change band wagon (of mostly leftist governments) and stays silent in the face of US aided and approved of coups (Honduras/Zelaya being the next most recent before Ukraine) while railing against the billionaire class on Wall Street and the neoliberal trade agreements, he's not only missing the elephant in the room; he's part of this elephant.
ForDemocracy -> aprescoup link
For many years I would have been agreeing with you...after 50 years I have recognized that in the scheme of things, no 'change' (from tribal to private property, from feudalism to capitalism) has 'just happened'...magically born clean & clear. The process is messy, no clear beginning or even END is really possible to see. History is filled with ironies and this time its the Dem Arm of the Duopoly letting Bernie in- as an artificial straw-man candidate to make Hillary's campaign appear to be a contest between the 'idealist' and 'the realist' and not the global coronation it is --- let in by mistake (just as every power elite has miscalculated & underestimated the powerful yearning for more justice & liberty& instinctive anger at the few that enslave the majority (thru history 'The 99%'...).

And as all past power-elites have done, our '1%' has misread the age-old evolution of culture when an old system NO LONGER WORKS that makes freedom, imagination & rebellion more acceptable more attractive, more exciting and NECESSARY. Then, once energized BY NEED, DESIRE, and yes HOPE....change begins and can't be stopped like a slow-moving rain that keeps moving. As with past eras & past changes, in our own day this 'millennial plus 60's' powerful generational tide is JUST BEGINNING to feel our strength & ability. Turning what was supposed to be a globalist-coronation into what right now certainly seems like a step towards real change, towards building a recognition of the power, we 'the 99%' can --IF WE ACT WISELY & WITH COMMITTMENT begin the work of creating a new world.

Criticising Bernie is criticizing the real way progress works...We need to get out of an ego-centric adolescent approach to human problem-solving, understand we need to keep our movement growing even if it doesn't look the WAY WE EXPECTED IT TO LOOK...keep clear on GOALS that Bernie's campaign is just a part of. The 'left' needs to recognize its our historic moment: to either move ahead or SELF-destruct.. Impatience needs to be replaced by a serious look down the road for our children's future. If we don't, the power elite of the System wins again (vote Hillary?? don't vote??). We need to take a breath & rethink how change really happens because this lost opportunity Is a loss we can no longer afford. The movement must be 'bigger than Bernie'.

WaveRunnerMN -> aprescoup link
I just hope he does not get forced to resign which the L-MSM is now beginning to parrot so Hillary can win given the huge turnouts the Repugs are getting in the primaries. I want to see four candidates at the National Convention...in addition to Third parties.
itsthethird -> aprescoup, link
No one can be elected Commander and Chief by stating they will not defend oligarchs interests as well as populations interests. We agree populations interests are negated and subverted all over earth . That cannot be changed by armed rebellion but it can be changed by electing electable voices of reason such as Sanders. Sanders will fight to protect populations and resist oligarchy war mongering while holding oligarchs accountable. Sanders will address corrupted law and injustice. Vote Sanders.
Trainee Christian -> itsthethird, link
You are probably correct in your thinking, but the real power will never allow any potential effective changes to the system that is. People who try usually end up dead.
itsthethird -> Trainee Christian , link
This is why we must as citizens become active players in government far greater then we are today, we must do far more then voting. We must have time from drudgery of earning a substandard wage that forces most to have little time for advancing democracy. Without such time oligarchs and one percent end-up controlling everything.

We can BEGIN the march toward mountain top toward socializations which will promote aware individualizations. We don't expect we will advance anything without oppositions in fact we expect increased attacks. Those increased attacks can become our energy that unites masses as we all observe the insanity they promote as our direction. We merely must highlight insanity and path forward toward sanity. Nothing can make lasting change this generation the march will take generations. The speed advance only will depend on how foolish oligarchs are at attempts to subvert public awareness seeking change. As they become more desperate our movements become stronger. We must refrain from violence for that is only thing that can subvert our movement.

aprescoup -> itsthethird link
So long as he rises to militarily protect "National Interests" abroad - read: imperial billionaire class interests - he's really one of them.

Maybe this will help:

Vijay Prashad: The Foreign Policy of the 1% - http://therealnews.com/t2/inde...

Johnny Prescott -> itsthethird link
What exactly leads you to contend that Sanders is going to "resist oligarchy war mongering"?
aprescoup -> sisterlauren link
He could be doing exactly what Trump is doing except from the populist left perspective: taking down the duopoly's both corporate mafia houses with uncompromising fervor.

Instead he does the LOTE thing for the neoliberal-neocon party "D". That's just dishonest bullshit opportunism.

Rob M -> aprescoup link
Opportunism with good intent...I'll take that.
jo ellis , link
Do not receives daily email for a long time without clue why? so haven't in contact with TRN's daily report until subject video appears on youtube website. and impressed by the panelists's congregated pivotal works done thru all these years.
Serenity NOW , link
important lecture for those who want to better understand the crises of capitalism and globalization.
William W Haywood , link
Excellent discussion and lecture. A very important part of the 'due diligence' of democratic participation and research by the people.

[Mar 07, 2016] The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Murder Is Washington's Foreign Policy

Notable quotes:
"... Washington has a long history of massacring people, for example, the destruction of the Plains Indians by the Union war criminals Sherman and Sheridan and the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese civilian populations, but Washington has progressed from periodic massacres to fulltime massacring. From the Clinton regime forward, massacre of civilians has become a defining characteristic of the United States of America. ..."
"... Washington is responsible for the destruction of Yugoslavia and Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and part of Syria. Washington has enabled Saudi Arabia's attack on Yemen, Ukraine's attack on its former Russian provinces, and Israel's destruction of Palestine and the Palestinian people. ..."
"... In a recent article , Mattea Kramer points out that Washington has added to its crimes the mass murder of civilians with drones and missile strikes on weddings, funerals, children's soccer games, medical centers and people's homes. Nothing can better illustrate the absence of moral integrity and moral conscience of the American state and the population that tolerates it than the cavalier disregard of the thousands of murdered innocents as "collateral damage." ..."
"... violence creates terrorists ..."
"... The only possible conclusion is that under Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama the US government has become an unaccountable, lawless, criminal organization and is a danger to the entire world and its own citizens. ..."
ronpaulinstitute.org

Washington has a long history of massacring people, for example, the destruction of the Plains Indians by the Union war criminals Sherman and Sheridan and the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese civilian populations, but Washington has progressed from periodic massacres to fulltime massacring. From the Clinton regime forward, massacre of civilians has become a defining characteristic of the United States of America.

Washington is responsible for the destruction of Yugoslavia and Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and part of Syria. Washington has enabled Saudi Arabia's attack on Yemen, Ukraine's attack on its former Russian provinces, and Israel's destruction of Palestine and the Palestinian people.

The American state's murderous rampage through the Middle East and North Africa was enabled by the Europeans who provided diplomatic and military cover for Washington's crimes. Today the Europeans are suffering the consequences as they are over-run by millions of refugees from Washington's wars. The German women who are raped by the refugees can blame their chancellor, a Washington puppet, for enabling the carnage from which refugees flee to Europe.

In a recent article, Mattea Kramer points out that Washington has added to its crimes the mass murder of civilians with drones and missile strikes on weddings, funerals, children's soccer games, medical centers and people's homes. Nothing can better illustrate the absence of moral integrity and moral conscience of the American state and the population that tolerates it than the cavalier disregard of the thousands of murdered innocents as "collateral damage."

If there is any outcry from Washington's European, Canadian, Australian, and Japanese vassals, it is too muted to be heard in the US.

As Kramer points out, American presidential hopefuls are competing on the basis of who will commit the worst war crimes. A leading candidate has endorsed torture, despite its prohibition under US and international law. The candidate proclaims that "torture works" - as if that is a justification - despite the fact that experts know that it does not work. Almost everyone being tortured will say anything in order to stop the torture. Most of those tortured in the "war on terror" have proven to have been innocents. They don't know the answers to the questions even if they were prepared to give truthful answers. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn relates that Soviet dissidents likely to be picked up and tortured by the Soviet secret police would memorize names on gravestones in order to comply with demands for the names of their accomplices. In this way, torture victims could comply with demands without endangering innocents.

Washington's use of invasion, bombings, and murder by drone as its principle weapon against terrorists is mindless. It shows a government devoid of all intelligence, focused on killing alone. Even a fool understands that violence creates terrorists. Washington hasn't even the intelligence of fools.

The American state now subjects US citizens to execution without due process of law despite the strict prohibition by the US Constitution. Washington's lawlessness toward others now extends to the American people themselves.

The only possible conclusion is that under Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama the US government has become an unaccountable, lawless, criminal organization and is a danger to the entire world and its own citizens.

Reprinted with permission from PaulCraigRoberts.org.

[Feb 15, 2016] A Slippery Slope Indeed by Beverly Mann

"system designed to force everyone in an institution or business into an entrepreneurial role." is pure neoliberalism, not so much of libertarian ideology. What they are doing is imitation Bolsheviks rape of academic community in the USA with Bolshevism replaced by neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... The school originally cofounded by Bob Love an associate of Charles's father Fred Koch from the John Birch Society became embroiled in an "acrimonious uprising" after Charles Koch in his role as chairman of the school's executive council applied techniques from his Market-Based Management system, a system designed to force everyone in an institution or business into an entrepreneurial role. ..."
"... Charles stepped down from the board of trustees citing, among other reasons, the school's refusal to integrate his management style. But in a sign of just how much influence he exerted over the school; Richard Fink, one of Charles's key advisors and an architect of Market-Based Management was installed as Collegiate's interim head. The outrage ran so deep that, as Fink tried to tamp down the uproar, he was hung in effigy around campus." ..."
"... Fink, who received his PHD in economics from Rutgers later moved to George Mason, a public university in Virginia, to start the Koch sponsored Mercatus Institute. Fink figures prominently in Koch efforts to control and dictate to charities and educational facilities receiving Koch support. Another Koch sponsored enterprise, the Institute for Humane Studies, caused similar disruptions when it was relocated to George Mason. Schulman reports, ..."
"... They also started running scholarship application essays through a computer to measure how many times the 'right names' (Mises, Hayek, Friedman, Rand, Bastiat, etc.) were mentioned – regardless of what was said about them!" (The preceding quotes come from pages 250-251 Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty). ..."
"... In a YouTube video seminar, Professor Boettke characterizes himself as "a doctrinaire free-marketer." In the same memo, Professor Lopez lists his association with IHS. Presumably then both professors are familiar with the sort of metrics and deliverables that are integral to Koch's Market-Based Management system. ..."
"... Both Schulman's book and Jane Mayer's new book "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right" go into great detail about the various organizations sponsored and funded by Charles and David Koch. ..."
"... From Americans for Prosperity to academic institutions similar to Mercatus, the Kochs have been active in funding organizations that promote specific ideologies. For better or worse that is something endemic in both our politics and apparently our public universities. Lately Charles Koch has been quite vocal in bemoaning the fact that his political contributions have not yielded an appropriate return on investment as demonstrated in a recent interview in the Financial Times where he said, ..."
"... What is perhaps more troubling is in academic settings the Kochs have sought to exercise an extraordinary degree of control. ..."
"... " . . . Cato Institute, Mercatus, and the dozens of other free-market, antiregulatory policy shops that Charles, David, and their foundations have supported over the years . . . churned out reports position papers, and op-eds arguing for the privatization of Social Security; fingering public employee unions for causing state budget crises; attempting to debunk climate science; and making the case for slashing the welfare system and Medicaid." ..."
"... Over the years the gifts from the Koch Foundation to various universities have faced increased scrutiny. The contract with Florida State clearly went against basic academic ethics. There is nothing however to indicate that Charles Koch has retreated in his desire to instill his radical brand of libertarianism into the institutions that create public policy and the universities that provide the research that helps support policy decisions. What has perhaps changed is that Mr. Koch, his foundation, and those he supports have become ever more sophisticated in capturing an outsized amount of influence. ..."
"... The contract may not allow veto power but if the structure of the program and the hiring are filtered through products of Koch programs, we may have a distinction without a difference. Charles Koch and his assistants like Richard Fink have been very clear about their intent and goals. It does not take a great deal of research to uncover statements that clearly speak to intent to indoctrinate. Ad hoc denials aside there is no reason not to take Mr. Koch's word. ..."
"... There is a certain irony bordering on outright cognitive dissonance when the economics department of a publicly funded university embraces a set of theories that denies the need for public education and treats such public funding as an affront to the market. If scrutinizing this proposal puts us onto a slippery slope then accepting it simply sends us to the bottom of the slope. ..."
"... My first introduction to the idea that society needs to remodel its self as business or that business is the better model for society's organization started with Reagan. I believe he/they ran on the idea that government needed to be more like business. ..."
"... Unfortunately, people believed it as it went along with the "government is the problem" meme. ..."
"... All of this I believe can be summed up with how I view Milton Friedman's work as simply mind the money and everything else will be taken care of. That is the free market ideology. ..."
"... Daniel: I don't recall my introduction to the 'run government as a business' idea, per se. I well remember Reagan and his 'the government is always the problem, never the solution' BS. ..."
"... I can't recall where I read it, but years ago came across a quote by someone esteemed, that pretty much said, "The reason for government is that there will always be services people want and need that, when provided, would never be a profitable venture, so the business world will never provide them. Hence, the government must be that provider." ..."
February 14, 2016 | angrybearblog.com

Mark Jamison has been a guest columnist of the Smoky Mountain News on several occasions now arguing against the addition of the Koch sponsored Center for Free Enterprise. This is another well written expose of why this addition should not be allowed at Western Carolina University. I would point out the flip-flopping going on as Chancellor Belcher glosses over in his explanation of mistakes being made. In earlier statements by Dr. Robert Lopez, the Provost, and the Trustees, the procedure was followed.

To give this the coverage needed both Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism and Angry Bear have been covering this issue. "UnKoch My Campus" has also picked up on Western Carolina University.

In "Sons of Wichita", his detailed and heavily sourced biography of the Koch family, Daniel Schulman relates a story about Charles Koch's attempt to apply his libertarian management theory known as Market-Based Management to Wichita Collegiate, the private school located across the street from the Koch compound. The school originally cofounded by Bob Love an associate of Charles's father Fred Koch from the John Birch Society became embroiled in an "acrimonious uprising" after Charles Koch in his role as chairman of the school's executive council applied techniques from his Market-Based Management system, a system designed to force everyone in an institution or business into an entrepreneurial role.

Schulman relates how Koch and other trustees meddled in hiring decisions and caused the abrupt resignation of a well-liked headmaster. "Incensed parents threatened to pull their children from the school; faculty members quit; students wore black in protest. Charles stepped down from the board of trustees citing, among other reasons, the school's refusal to integrate his management style. But in a sign of just how much influence he exerted over the school; Richard Fink, one of Charles's key advisors and an architect of Market-Based Management was installed as Collegiate's interim head. The outrage ran so deep that, as Fink tried to tamp down the uproar, he was hung in effigy around campus."

Fink, who received his PHD in economics from Rutgers later moved to George Mason, a public university in Virginia, to start the Koch sponsored Mercatus Institute. Fink figures prominently in Koch efforts to control and dictate to charities and educational facilities receiving Koch support. Another Koch sponsored enterprise, the Institute for Humane Studies, caused similar disruptions when it was relocated to George Mason. Schulman reports,

"The mission of IHS is to groom libertarian intellectuals by doling out scholarships, sponsoring seminars, and placing students in like-minded organizations."

Simply providing funding for the promotion of his libertarian ideology was not enough for Charles Koch though. Roderick Long, a philosophy professor from Auburn and an affiliate of IHS is quoted as saying, "Massive micromanagement ensued." Long went on to say, "the management began to do things like increasing the size of student seminars, packing them in, and then giving the students a political questionnaire at the beginning of the week and another one at the end, to measure how much their political beliefs shifted over the course of the week. (Woe betide any student who needs more than a week to mull new ideas prior to conversion.) They also started running scholarship application essays through a computer to measure how many times the 'right names' (Mises, Hayek, Friedman, Rand, Bastiat, etc.) were mentioned – regardless of what was said about them!" (The preceding quotes come from pages 250-251 Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty).

It should be noted that Professor Long is no liberal. He edits "The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies" and is a member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an organization that promotes the theories of the dean of Austrian economics.

Both Professor Lopez and Professor Gochenour are products of the George Mason program and Mercatus. In his memo to Andrew Gillen of the Charles Koch Foundation Professor Lopez characterizes the other members of the WCU economics department indicating Professor Gochenour was a student of "Boettke and Caplan". In a YouTube video seminar, Professor Boettke characterizes himself as "a doctrinaire free-marketer." In the same memo, Professor Lopez lists his association with IHS. Presumably then both professors are familiar with the sort of metrics and deliverables that are integral to Koch's Market-Based Management system.

Both Schulman's book and Jane Mayer's new book "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right" go into great detail about the various organizations sponsored and funded by Charles and David Koch.

From Americans for Prosperity to academic institutions similar to Mercatus, the Kochs have been active in funding organizations that promote specific ideologies. For better or worse that is something endemic in both our politics and apparently our public universities. Lately Charles Koch has been quite vocal in bemoaning the fact that his political contributions have not yielded an appropriate return on investment as demonstrated in a recent interview in the Financial Times where he said,

"You'd think we could have more influence."

What is perhaps more troubling is in academic settings the Kochs have sought to exercise an extraordinary degree of control. Between 2007 and 2011 Charles Koch has pumped $31 million into universities for scholarships and programs (within that number the $2 million to WCU seems significant). At Florida State the contract with the university provide $1.5 million to hire two professors included a clause giving the Koch Foundation over the candidates.

The plan Charles Koch with the aid of Richard Fink has enacted is called a "Structure of Social Change" – a sort of business plan for the marketing of ideas. Fink has said about the plan:

"When we apply this model to the realm of ideas and social change, at the higher stages we have the investment in the intellectual raw materials, that is, the exploration and production of abstract concepts and theories. In the public policy arena, these still come primarily (though not exclusively) from the research done by scholars at our universities." (my emphasis)

As Schulman reports,

" . . . Cato Institute, Mercatus, and the dozens of other free-market, antiregulatory policy shops that Charles, David, and their foundations have supported over the years . . . churned out reports position papers, and op-eds arguing for the privatization of Social Security; fingering public employee unions for causing state budget crises; attempting to debunk climate science; and making the case for slashing the welfare system and Medicaid."

The book that Professor Lopez published for the broad market, "Madmen, Intellectuals and Academic Scribblers: The Economic Engine of Political Change" follows closely to the program Fink articulates.

Over the years the gifts from the Koch Foundation to various universities have faced increased scrutiny. The contract with Florida State clearly went against basic academic ethics. There is nothing however to indicate that Charles Koch has retreated in his desire to instill his radical brand of libertarianism into the institutions that create public policy and the universities that provide the research that helps support policy decisions. What has perhaps changed is that Mr. Koch, his foundation, and those he supports have become ever more sophisticated in capturing an outsized amount of influence.

Chancellor Belcher assures us there were mistakes made in the presentation of the current proposal but that the proposal itself meets all the basic criteria for acceptance. The fact that Professor Lopez advertised positions before official acceptance and outside normal channels raises significant questions. The contract may not allow veto power but if the structure of the program and the hiring are filtered through products of Koch programs, we may have a distinction without a difference. Charles Koch and his assistants like Richard Fink have been very clear about their intent and goals. It does not take a great deal of research to uncover statements that clearly speak to intent to indoctrinate. Ad hoc denials aside there is no reason not to take Mr. Koch's word.

Chancellor Belcher suggests the bringing of a stronger level of scrutiny to the Koch proposal pushes us down a slippery slope. The chancellor is no naïf and surely he knows that in a complicated world we are often presented with slippery slopes – that is why judgment, ethics, and scrutiny exist. Dogmatic and doctrinaire disciplines give a skewed and distorted picture of the world as an either or, or black or white scenario. Hayek, Mises, and other doctrinaire believers in the creed of the free-market tell us the choice is either markets or Stalinism, an inexorable "Road to Serfdom." Tennyson tells us,

"There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds."

There is a certain irony bordering on outright cognitive dissonance when the economics department of a publicly funded university embraces a set of theories that denies the need for public education and treats such public funding as an affront to the market. If scrutinizing this proposal puts us onto a slippery slope then accepting it simply sends us to the bottom of the slope.

Read More

amateur socialist, February 15, 2016 6:04 am

This is a very good review of their efforts thanks. I was born in Wichita 1960 and escaped to Texas in 1996 so very familiar with their ongoing influence there.

They essentially control the state GOP and thus the state government there. There are many resonances with their academic efforts, including a GOP Loyalty oath. It hasn't gone well.

beene, February 15, 2016 6:44 am

People, see no difference in Koch's efforts and those who promote neoliberalism, or free trade. We have these because too advance in our higher learning schools you must support the above to advance your career.

For even a person with limited educations knows the above only cause debt for the nation and ever limiting opportunities for the majority of the population.

For anyone interest in what actually enriches a nation and the majority of the population I would recommend a scholarly study done by Ha-Joon Chang and another by Ian Fletcher.

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Samaritans-Secret-History-Capitalism/dp/1596915986

http://www.amazon.com/Free-Trade-Doesnt-Work-Replace/dp/0578079674

Sandi , February 15, 2016 9:20 am

Perfect timing. I am currently reading "Dark Money", and am, frankly, terrified. Not so much for what the Kochs have been up to, but at how little most of America is interested, or cares to understand the mosaic.

The Kochs, Charles, especially have been masterful at flying beneath the radar of the average American. For instance, to the extent we recognize our public schools have a problem, we've been too quick to buy into the idea that it's because they aren't 'run like a business'. But once you dig just a bit, you can see the tentacles of the "Kochtapus" everywhere.

(Jane Mayer's description of the cold, calculating upbringing of the Koch boys is chilling. One wonders why they didn't end up as serial killers? Again, Charles, especially. He appears to have totally dominated the scene, once he go too big to be beaten by his father.)

There is a counter economic argument gaining traction. As usual, the pendulum always swings. These two essays recently found their way over my virtual transom and will not be news to most of the Bear Den, but I find them hopeful.
http://evonomics.com/how-the-myth-of-self-interest-caused-the-global-crisis/
http://evonomics.com/do-economist-actually-believe-greed-is-good/

Margaret Spellings gave a speech last week where she tried to down-play her history with for-profit education, among other things. It will be interesting to see how the UNC system survives this next phase……

Jack , February 15, 2016 12:47 pm

"One wonders why they didn't end up as serial killers? Again, Charles, especially." Sandi

What makes you say that they are not? In their own indirect manner they have managed to kill democracy in America and cooperation within its political system.


Daniel Becker, February 15, 2016 1:12 pm

Sandi,

My first introduction to the idea that society needs to remodel its self as business or that business is the better model for society's organization started with Reagan. I believe he/they ran on the idea that government needed to be more like business.

Unfortunately, people believed it as it went along with the "government is the problem" meme.

All of this I believe can be summed up with how I view Milton Friedman's work as simply mind the money and everything else will be taken care of. That is the free market ideology.

Sandi, February 15, 2016 1:30 pm

Jack: Point taken. You're right, of course.

Daniel: I don't recall my introduction to the 'run government as a business' idea, per se. I well remember Reagan and his 'the government is always the problem, never the solution' BS.

Since both my parents came up in the Depression, I knew how much good had been done by government programs, and, as a boomer, I could see it all around me; from the space race to the Civil Rights movement. I guess I took it for granted that that was the way the world was supposed to work. But I can see how that freaked out a lot of conservatives, both economically and socially.

I can't recall where I read it, but years ago came across a quote by someone esteemed, that pretty much said, "The reason for government is that there will always be services people want and need that, when provided, would never be a profitable venture, so the business world will never provide them. Hence, the government must be that provider."

My apologies to whomever the source was (Ben Franklin?) for the paraphrase. But the idea resonated with me as true, and I still believe it.

Mr. Bartlett: Just a quick note of appreciation – I've enjoyed your writings over the years.

Sandi, February 15, 2016 1:38 pm

PS Daniel:

All of this I believe can be summed up with how I view Milton Friedman's work as simply mind the money and everything else will be taken care of. That is the free market ideology.

In re-reading this about minding the money, I couldn't help but think about the entirely different interpretation we got on this idea from Deep Throat…

William Ryan, February 15, 2016 1:51 pm

Unfortunately the slippery slope picture is much larger then just the Koch bros. To fix the inequality that is growing like a cancer in our society we must #1 establish the wealth tax. (see Wikipedia). #2 establish the progressive income tax. #3 establish the inheritance tax. #4 establish the transaction tax on trading. We must do all this before the oligarchs establish the robot police force. For more detail please go see todays D-Kos "Another Chart Shows How Bad We' re Screwed" also be sure to read the many fine comments there…

Mark Jamison, February 15, 2016 3:19 pm

Mr. Bartlett,

From Schulman's Sons of Wichita: "Fink was a twenty-seven year old doctoral student at New York University, which at the time had the country's lone graduate program focused on Austrian economics. Fink had done his undergrad work at Rutgers….. As he worked towards his Ph.D. Fink taught pert-time at Rutgers, …"

From Doherty's "Radicals for Capitalism" – A Grinder student and economics professor from Rutgers named Richard Fink, with Koch's support, launched an Austrian program that came to be called the Center for Study of Market Processes. It began at Rutgers and in 1980 relocated to George Mason University, where it has evolved into the Mercatus Center.

[Oct 04, 2015] Gonzalo Lira: Is the U.S. a Fascist Police-State?

June 22, 2010 | nakedcapitalism.com

By Gonzalo Lira, a novelist and filmmaker (and economist) currently living in Chile and writing at Gonzalo Lira

I lived in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship-I can spot a fascist police-state when I see one.

The United States is a fascist police-state.

... ... ...

Tao Jonesing: June 22, 2010 at 10:31 pm

It always amazes me that libertarians are incapable of recognizing that Hayek's and Friedman's authoritarian actions fully repudiate their stated libertarian beliefs. When you combine that fact with the fact that the libertarian free market ideal is based on an obvious fiction (that individuals are the primary economic actors, not corporations), libertarianism is revealed as the hoax that it is. Libertarianism is nothing more than an Edward Bernays style propaganda campaign to dupe classical liberals into supporting corporate feudalism (aka, neo-liberalism). And it has worked brilliantly.

Toby: June 23, 2010 at 1:11 am

Good points, but the fiction is deeper than that. There can never be, nor has there ever been a 'free' market. There is no such thing as a rational individual, and certainly none that are perfectly informed about all past, present and future events. We are not machines. Our decision making, if we can call it that, is rooted in emotion. I mean even the core idea that accumulating material possessions and being richer than the other guy is a rational behaviour, is a biased assumption. It never motivated me, and I am not alone in that.

The only real 'truths' are emergent and therefore dependent on resident forces and other phenomena, are the consequences of relationships between systems. It is in relationships that we understand, to at best a limited extent, how the world 'works.' The way we struggle to control nature now is the consequence of ignorance, an ignorance we must correct.

"As in economics, biology posits discreet individual actos, i.e. Genes, behaving to maximize their self-interest, the means to survive and reproduce. Our very understanding of biology, i.e. of life, and in particular of progress in biology, i.e. of evolution, rests on a foundation of competition for survival. [snip]

The view of life as a struggle for survival is woven into our worldview on a much deeper level than Darwinism. In fact, our guiding scientific paradigms can admit no alternative. Competition is implicit in our culture's very conception of the self as an independent entity, distinct and separate from the environment and from other beings. [snip]

Other societies, fast disappearing under the deluge of Western Culture, were remarkably free from the ambient anxiety we know today. It is no coincidence that their social systems were based on cooperation and that their self-definition were not atomistic like ours are, but relativistic: defined in relationship to a greater whole such as family, village, forest, nature." Charles Eisenstein, The Ascent of Humanity (my emphasis).

I am most certainly not for a world government, but we are one species on a planet we must share with millions of others if we are to survive much longer. Nature does not care about our childish and partisan bickering.

DownSouth:

The ironical part is that, just as in Chile, it is the libertarians, with all their flowery rhetoric about liberty and freedom, who are the überchampions of the police state.

Frederich von Hayek and Milton Friedman were unwavering in their praise of Pinochet, Chile's brutal military dictator.

aet:

So-called "libertarians". Whose arguments gain most of their force from the bayonets of the State militia.

Yves Smith:

You have that SO wrong its isn't even funny. I happen to debunk the myth of Chile's performance in ECONNED.

Short version: When Pinochet implemented his "reforms", the result was a plutocratic land grab and a debt stoked bubble that resulted in a near-depression when the bubble burst. Pinochet backtracked massively and implemented Keynesian policies.

And the success of Chile (such that it is) is hardly a tribute to Pinochet. Its biggest export industry is copper, 70% owned by the government. As I note in ECONNED:

The finance minister from the first post-Pinochet government, Alejandro Foxley, claims:

"If you compare the performance of the economy in the best Pinochet years with the performance of the economy [during] democracy, I challenge you to find one single economic or social indicator in which democracy hasn't performed much better."

Even so, the picture for Chile is far less rosy than reported in the United States. Chile has one of the most unequal income distributions in the world, with the top 10% getting over 50% of output. Wages for average workers have fallen since the 1970s despite minimum wage increases. Chile's exports depend heavily on copper (still controlled by the government) and natural resources (wood, fisheries) that are being exploited in excess of sustainable rates. By contrast, manufacturing has dropped from 30% of GDP in the 1970s to 18%.

Jack Parsons:

And, and, and… Chile's economy was very deliberately sabotaged during the 1970-1973 democratic period.

The CIA's history in Chile, on the CIA website.

Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio:

It doesn't need one! The great majority of Americans are convinced that they are free. There is little need for overt repression.

In such a setting, the entire country is an ideological concentration camp because the "cultural" forces – MSM, entertainment, religion, nationalism, sport, etc – in civil society – all promulgate the same message: You are Free!

To label such a developemnt FASCISM is inaccurate because 1) the latter was state-driven from the top down; 2) the role of unions is so lacking as not to warrant additional comment. I have coined the term 'MARKET TOTALITARIANISM' to make it explicit on whose behalf and the direction from whence it sprang. The state is merely the hammer, but civil society is the anvil on which its hegemony is based.

psychohistorian:

As one who has continually referred to America as fascist I suggest you measure current America against the following:

14 POINTS OF FASCISM

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism

From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights

The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause

The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice-relentless propaganda and disinformation-were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite "spontaneous" acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and "terrorists." Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism

Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism

Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media

Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes' excesses.

7. Obsession with national security

Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting "national security," and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together

Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite's behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the "godless." A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected

Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of "have-not" citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated

Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment

Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. "Normal" and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or "traitors" was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption

Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections

Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

NOTE: The above 14 Points was written in 2004 by Dr. Laurence Britt, a political scientist. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of: Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).

Reply
Gonzalo Lira:

psychohistorian,

I'm sorry, but I cannot take this list seriously.

Your points 1, 3, 5, 7, 11 and 12 are properly the expression of demagoguery, not fascism.

Your points 2, 4, 6, 12, and 14 are elements of a police-state, be it of the Left or the Right. Your points 7 and 11 would also fit the police-state mold, doing double-duty with demagoguery, as it were.

Your point 8 is a trait of a theocracy, not of a fascist OR communist regime.

Your point 13 would describe more of an oligarchy, elements of which can be found in all regimes, be they democratic, fascist, theocratic, etc.-even communist.

Your point 9 is the only one which is properly fascist.

Your point 10, however, is definitely NOT fascist, as true Mussolini-style fascism treats labor unions as corporatist elements of society. All fascist regimes have been friends of labor unions-its the oligarchies and the aristocracies who have had adversarial relationships with trade unions.

Note, too, that I make a distinction between control of the citizenry (the police-state), and the organizing principle of the citizenry under this repression (fascism). Many of these points confuse the two issues, turning the traits into blunt instruments rather than sharply distinctive characteristics.

Bottom line, this list strikes me more as a Leftist wish-list of things hated, rather than as a serious definition of fascism.

Thank you for your comment, but sorry to shoot down your points.

GL.

scharfy:

I'll bite and tell you what I think regarding your points..

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism

Not so much recently, on the whole. Pro-American sentiment, regarding the citizenry, seems low relative to the previous regimes. Rally round the stars and stripes in the deep south maybe. Not so much in blue states.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights

Again, kind of split. Child labor laws, working conditions, disabled persons laws, civil rights equality (legally anyway), all are on paper and the US does ok on these fronts.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause

Score one for you. War on Terror. Nuf said

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism

Score another one for you.

5. Rampant sexism

Compared to middle east, asia, or south america – the US is second only to Europe. Womens suffrage and women's lib is American to the core. Our women are more educated and liberated than most

6. A controlled mass media

Yes and no. the big boys yup – but the internet means free speech has never been more free. There's no Pravda here. Our journalists aren't TOTALLY bought off.

7. Obsession with national security

Yes

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together

You'll probably disagree, but I'll say no way. Our ruling elite pray to the altar of money. Religiously diverse nation from my view. I'd bet you disagree.

9. Power of corporations protected

Oh yea.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated

Me thinks labor and unions have pretty good pull here. Minimum wage, though low, exists. Unemployment, welfare. We aren't a nation of sweatshops or 18 hour work days, comparatively

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

No sir. We prize our brainiacs. Are we france with regards to the Arts? no. But plenty of authors, movies, opera, plays etc..

12. Obsession with crime and punishment

Hmmmmm… could go either way. America loves giving a second chance – but we incarcerated an entire generation of black males in the 80's and 90's.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption

Ok. We are bad. The worst. No. But we need some improvement here.

14. Fraudulent elections

I'm sure you'll site the 2000 election ipso fact, but I submit that our country has the most open election system in the World. I think we score high here.

Thanks for the input. That's my take

Jack Parsons:June 23, 2010 at 2:32 am

"Rampant Sexism": in a different way. The conflation of sex and violence seems to be a hallmark of the Dominator Cultures: US, Rome, Japan, Germany (think Weimar), not so much Britain (except for the caning bit).

psychohistorian:June 23, 2010 at 2:50 am

Since the hierarchy of comments does not allow me to respond to Gonzalo Lira and scharfy I will do it here.

GL, I sure wish you would have read down to the bottom of the list to the note about where the list came from. Let me repeat it:
NOTE: The above 14 Points was written in 2004 by Dr. Laurence Britt, a political scientist. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of: Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).

I posted it to expand on the discussion of the fascistic aspects (IMO) of our current government or socio-political whatever that brings us continual war, un-prosecuted financial rape and now some form of ecological disaster totally rolled out by the private sector with sovereign nations on the sidelines (IMO). I think our current malaise is best described succinctly as theocratic fascism personally.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
scharfy says that #1 does not apply currently and I think our two wars and ongoing Manifest Destiny delusions didn't go away when Obama came to office.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
scharfy says view of # 2 is split but doesn't say what with. and I say the trend is fairly negative.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
sharfy says we got examples and I would agree.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
sharfy says this is true and I ask why is there never any question of our imperialistic militarism?

5. Rampant sexism
sharfy says we are better than others and I agree but to say that patriarchy is threatened in the US is laughable.

6. A controlled mass media
sharfy says the situation is mixed with still a "free" internet. sharfy says that we have no Pravda here and I LOL and wonder how history will characterize Fox.

7. Obsession with national security
Everyone agrees but we aren't even doing the basics to secure our ports….all kabuki, all the time.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
sharfy is right in that I disagree that he thinks that the Gawd of money and religion are different. Both are faith based and while there are well meaning religious folk, too many lemming followers drink the associated fascist koolaid.

9. Power of corporations protected
Oh yea says sharfy and I would say that they continue to increase.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
sharfy says we are comparatively ok but ignores the freight train effect of globalism that is just starting to be felt in America.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
While this does not seem to be the case I would add a new bullet point to whatever history calls what we have now that speaks to the hypocritical treatment of science.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment
While sharfy says it might not be obsession I think the obsession is really about control. I would like for there to be more obsession with the punishment of crimes that are not currently being focused on.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
My position on this is that since control of the world stems from us we must be at the top of the fetid heap (so to speak)

14. Fraudulent elections
Sharfy says we have the most open elections in the world. S/he didn't say honest however and that is where it is obvious that criminality is afoot…..why isn't there an open source voting machine?

Whatever we have folks is sucky and getting worse. Call it what you will but duck when the SHTF.

patterson:

June 22, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Comparison of Canada and the U.S. on rights:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/06/14/arar/index.html

Toby:

That's actually not true. Have a look at, for example, "Hierarchy in the Forest" by Christopher Boehm, or "The Ascent of Humanity" by Charles Eisenstein (even better). There are reams of examples all attesting to the fact that in hunter-gatherer societies and even in smaller sedentary tribal groupings, the 'sheep' make the rules, and the would-be alphas were 'ruled.' Boehm calls it 'inverse hierarchy.'

Our beloved system, the system we think of as nature itself, as a veritable embodiment of 'The Law of the Jungle,' is, in terms of homo sapien's life on this planet, actually an aberration. And it's killing us, and many ecosystems, too.

Cindy6:

Great post!

I always believe that the endgame for America is either an authoritarian state or being broken down into several smaller republics.

aet:

Every State is a police state, as every state is a creature of the Laws. So what else is new?

But do not look to the laws to establish morality, Laws cannot establish morality: they can only maintain what's there already, in the hearts of the citizenry.
Morality is in the control of each individual.
Not in the command of the King, simply because it is such.

And don't be confusing Law with morality: for the Law is a matter of State, and the State is an inhuman dragon, covered with glittering scales, hard scales, scales which are actually people.

DownSouth:

Whoa!

That is a gross over-simplification, a half-truth at best.

The whole concept of the state's use of violence seems to be totally lost on you.

aet:

The concept may have been but the tear gas batons and cuffs felt real enough, all right, i understood the cklank of the cell door….so what?

aet:

ABC, why should the Court not uphold lawsaws passed by democratically-elected Legislatures?

Please remember where the Court found this power to strike down such so-called "unconstitutional laws"…(hint: it is not in the Constitution)!

Personally, if the Law is bad, you should complain to the people who wrote the law directly,not go crying to a Judge to throw out the results of the last election….

i on the ball patriot:

aet says; "ABC, why should the Court not uphold lawsaws passed by democratically-elected Legislatures?"

ROFL Funny comment, you are either drunk on the Kool Aid or you are selling it.

at says further; "Personally, if the Law is bad, you should complain to the people who wrote the law directly,not go crying to a Judge to throw out the results of the last election…."

Errr … the electoral process is as big a non responsive to the will of the people scam as the rule of law. Those who vote, and those who constantly tender remedial plans to the corrupt system, and complain to it, only serve to legitimize, validate, and keep in power that corrupt system. You only aid, abet, and assist in your own exploitation and the death of your own spirit.

I repeat: you are either drunk on the Kool Aid or you are selling it.

Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

i on the ball patriot:

Yes, stop drinking the Kool Aid, dump your system instilled girl Prudence (she's a phony, wearying, worrying slut), and stop banging your head against the wall of TSTS - Too Sleazy Too Save - and then engage in election boycotts as a 'vote of no confidence' in this over the top crooked government and a constitutional rewrite outside the system.

Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

Sundog:
aet:

RE:Politicization of the US Officer Corps.

A greater threat to the Republic, I think, than this restriction upon whom you may speak to..

Andrew Bissell:

Balko is a libertarian, clearly his articles are clever lies meant to disguise his pro-police-state sympathies.

D. Warbucks:

Here's a little red meat for all you blood-thirsty lovers of torturing innocent Canadians:

(from Maher Arar's account of his torture: http://www.commondreams.org/views06/1027-23.htm )

"The beating started the following day. Without no warning…(long pause as he fights tears) without no warning the interrogator came in with a cable. He asked me to open my right hand. I did open it. And he hit me strongly on my palm. It was so painful to the point that I forgot every moment I enjoyed in my life. "

" Syrians released me and they clearly stated through the ambassador in Washington that they did not find any links to terrorism. I was not charged in any country including Canada, United States, Jordan and Syria. Since my release I have been suffering from anxiety, constant fear, and depression. My life will never be the same again. "

Marco Antonio Moreno:

Great post!

The neoliberal economic model is a dictatorship: Benefits the Rich: Only 0,1% of people win

Global wealth held by millionaires rose by 19 percent to $39 trillion. The number of millionaire households, or those with at least $1 million in investable assets, excluding primary residences, expanded to 10 million from 8.6 million a year earlier. The 0.15% of world population!

However, poverty is a reality in America, just as it is for millions of other human beings on the planet. According to the US Census Bureau, 35.9 million people live below the poverty line in America, including 12.9 million children.

It's the dictatorship of Economic's Model

Dear Gonzalo, I write from Chile

Hugh:

"And if the Executive and/or Congress determines that this group here or that group there is a "terrorist organization", then their free speech is curtailed-as is the free speech of anyone associating with them, no matter how demonstrably peaceful that speech or interaction is."

I agree with the overall tenor of your post. We have a surveillance state, and the blurring and blending of government and corporations is the very essence of the Mussolini definition of fascism. I would add in corporatist kleptocracy but that's just me. I bring up the citation above because it isn't quite right. Roberts distinguishes between association which is covered by the 1st Amendment and support and coordination which is not.

"The Court of Appeals correctly rejected this claim because the statute does not penalize mere association with a foreign terrorist organization. As the Ninth Circuit put it: "The statute does not prohibit being a member of one of the designated groups or vigorously promoting and supporting the political goals of the group. . . . What [§2339B] prohibits is the act of giving material support" (pp.40-41 of the pdf)

Personally, I think this is a distinction without a difference. There is no metric to say where association leaves off and coordination or aid begins. This creates a chilling effect on any contact with a group that makes it on to the State Department's terrorist list. In something I wrote on this, I also noted that many groups that were once terrorist according somebody's definition made the transition to mainstream status. The problem is that in restricting expert information on non-violent alternatives this transition can be greatly impeded, increasing the duration and severity of violent action. This is the very opposite of general defense Roberts invokes.

aet:

I disagree…I think that the distinction does indeed make a difference.
I note that being a member, and standing up in public an arguing for the group's cause, is also not prohibitied.
It may be that some are misreading the ratherlimited and defined scope of "material assistance"as set out in the statute.
It would be different if it were otherwise, though., that is, if membership or advocacy (without advice) were also prohibited – at least,that is the Court'simplication, is it not?.

aet:

And the hypothetical benefits of such postulated peace-mongering apparently was not enough to persuade the Court to overturn a piece of Legislation deabted and passed by Congress and signed by the President.
I just do not find it all that shocking.
I suppose I'll suspend judgment until I see what kind of prosecutions, if any, are brought under the statute.

Gonzalo Lira:

Hugh, thank you for reading my post with such care.

Your comment high-lighted certain distinctions which I chose to ignore so as not to lose sight of the main point-but you are right on all of them.

Your bit about corporate kleptocracy? On the money.

Your point that Roberts distinguished between association on the one hand and "material assistance" on the other? Right again.

However, your further point-that Roberts was drawing a distinction (between association and "material assistance") without a difference-is precisely why I didn't flesh out the issue. From my point of view, Roberts' distinction was like saying, "It's okay to have six eggs, but you're not allowed to have a half-dozen eggs"-nonsensical.

Finally, your point that this creates a chilling effect on speech is the one issue I would disagree: I would argue that this decision doesn't create a chilling effect on speech, but rather, it outright criminalizes speech. After all, how can anyone distinguish between "association" and "speech"? Between "speech" and "material assistance"? Someone here in the comment section pointed out that giving directions to the nearest subway station-clearly speech-could be interpreted as "material assistance"-too true.

But who determines if this innocent speech is crosses into the realm of the criminal "material assistance"? The state, without even the possibility of redress.

Hence my view that this decision is a big one on the road to a fascist police-state in America.

Sorry for going on. Hope this clarifies my position. GL.

i on the ball patriot:

Hugh, you have it right!

It is an intentionally vague ruling meant to be chilling and intimidating of Free Speech and selectively enforced as needed to effect that intimidation.

It is also meant to be intentionally divisive in furthering the perpetual conflict scheme, as it will now cause all of the butt sucking system twits to come out of the woodwork and say divisive bullshit things like;

"I note that being a member, and standing up in public an arguing for the group's cause, is also not prohibitied."

I"t may be that some are misreading the ratherlimited and defined scope of "material assistance"as set out in the statute."

"It would be different if it were otherwise, though., that is, if membership or advocacy (without advice) were also prohibited – at least,that is the Court'simplication, is it not?."

All disingenuous crap designed of course to suck you in and dissipate your energies which might otherwise be better spent in revealing the class warfare of the rich decimating the middle class and the masses and exposing the fascist scum bags that are their lackeys.

Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

patterson:

You should be sure though that when you advocate, you don't provide anything that could possibly be construed as assistance, or that the advocacy itself couldn't be construed as assistance.

Also, advocating for such a group openly is like painting a bullseye on your back.

Gonzalo Lira:

too true, unfortunately.

Ottawan:

One of the salient bits of "fascism" is the power of paramilitary forces. Are scary paramilitaries pervasive in the USA? Do security guards count? The tea party guys?

"Corporatism" and/or "pluralism" are sufficient to describe This part of history. On secod thought, "pluralism" is kinda Orwellian.

Transor Z:

Your piece is very weak in treating the syndicalist piece of fascism, Gonzalo. For reference, Noam Chomsky is a syndicalist.

Asserting the existence of the regimentation and discipline ethos that is a hallmark of fascist regimes is an absolute joke in light of America's deteriorating work ethic and pathological levels of narcissistic individualism.

The "police-state" doesn't have the manpower, will power, or political mandate to act on domestic espionage in anything like a systematic fashion. More than that, the hackers and young people are many steps ahead in technological sophistication.

There will always be abuses and yes, creepy incursions into personal freedoms by law enforcement and government. It's good to be on guard against that but… perspective please.

But I'll let Bogie do my talking for me:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46pQwwF8uww&feature=related

EmilianoZ:

There's some truth in that post.

Noam Chomsky says: "propaganda is to democracies what the bludgeon is to dictatorships" .

I think we're entering an era where propaganda is starting to fail. That necessarily means: they must go back to the bludgeon. The supreme court is paving the way for that.

i on the ball patriot:

Very astute comment!

Yes, freedom and democracy, which the closet fascist bullies (that's all they really are - bullies who label their victims terrorists!) have been disingenuously wearing on their sleeves, now comes off, and the fascists come out of the closet of secrecy and into the open.

The internet has exposed them like shining a light on cockroaches and they now scurry and try to bludgeon anything in their path.

It will have the reverse effect, it will awaken people to the propaganda illusion that they are living in.

Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

addicted:

Another interesting aspect that struck me when reading the NYTimes editorial. This same supreme court has identified money as "speech" (hence preventing corporations, a fictitious "person", from donating during elections is breaking their first amendment rights). So would that make the US crackdown on monetary donations to terrorist organizations illegal? According to this same Supreme Court, wouldn't that be the government breaking real "persons" First Amendment Rights?

Whats up with the Supreme Court prostituting themselves to the Executive?

Sanford Calef:

I'm dismayed that Citizen Obama has let torture, Gitmo, and all the rest of Bush era policies stand. I'm disappointed Cheney isn't in the Hague defending his crimes against humanity.

But we're not a fascist state yet.

That will happen when Ms Palin or whatever crazy Teabagger takes over in a few years. Everything is in place for an American Dear Leader to run roughshod over the rest of us.

Liberals are such wusses. Should be an easy coup.

Bernard:

the denial of reality doesn't change reality. no matter what some say, there are enough of reality based thinkers to dispute and call "a spade a spade." that's the part i find most fascinating about the "oh, it's not what you think!" bs. the constant dismissal, denial and denigration of a fact based "reality" is so consistent and astounding. this constant denial to any other concept that might dare questions some's right to fantasy/faith based thinking at the expense of fact based reality. a form of anti intellectualism, thinking is too dangerous to be left to fact based reality. lol

that old "faith based" concept of "truthiness" highlighted by Stephen Colbert is just one part of larger concept of never admitting errors. however adamant the "faith based theorists" are, the reality of facts can't be questioned for every without having the consequences we see today. the constant questioning is so much the point. any tolerance of the "inexactitudes" of the faith based "reality" reinforces the whole farce.

never forget how irate Alan Simpson became when Bill Maher asked him if he really believed some "inanity" that was clearly impossible. the indignation of being questioned on his "beliefs" was the most fascinating aspect of Simpson's reply. such audacity to question your beliefs. such self importance, such pomposity. i understand the kind of people who held such "truthiness" as unreachable and remote to the reality most of us live in.

just the conversation itself legitimizes such an argument. i don't expect these faith based believers ever to admit much less acknowledge any version of "truth" but their own.such. the fact based truth is like the surf endlessly pounding the sandcastles of this fantasy based "truthiness."

those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither and usually lose both.

for 30 years or more, America has been under the influence of such pomposity and "unquestioned" inanity. the loss of freedom of speech is just but one of the many "gifts" of such "faith based truthiness."

Paul Tioxon:

The central argument of fungibility of resources, the freeing up of cash and or materials due to the aiding and abetting of the terrorist organization, even if you consult with them to bring them into the family of civilized nations, so to speak, is a false one, previously used against the mafia. Criminal defense attorneys have pointed this to the absurdity that it pursues. Namely, if you see any contribution to an illegal organization as contribution to its capacity to operate illegally, you are aiding and abetting. The defense was, in the case of the Philadelphia Mafia figures, do they shop for food, do they call one another on the phone, send letters through the mail, drive Cadillacs, or Lincolns, buy Esso gas for the cars? Then, they are being aided and abetted by the Acme, Ma Bell, The US Postal Service and General Motors and Ford and Standard Oil of NJ.

They are taking their presumed blood money and spending it and those that accept it are deriving the benefit of the illegal activities just as if they participated. They provide communication, transportation and oh yes, where do they deposit their cash? PSFS? Needless to say, trying to pressure one point of contact of a terrorist organization, begs the question, of who else do they transact with, no matter how mundane. It would seem to the benefit of any sovereign state, that a non profit peace maker, consulting with the Tamil Tigers or The IRA or Hamas, in order to get them to stand down from their violence would be a rational activity to be supported. Apparently not, indicted are the peace makers, for theirs is kingdom of special rendition in the bowels of corporate Global America.

Francois T:

Awesome post Don Gonzalo!

Contrary to the cloud-shovelers of pissy-mamby pseudo-theories, your definitions are OPERATIONAL and easy to observe for confirmation or ejection.

To me, the key resides in this pearl:
What's key to the definition of a police-state is the lack of redress

Pure brilliance!

[Apr 14, 2015] Nuland Ensconced in Neocon Camp Who Believes in Noble Lie

Mar 5, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
RPI Director Daniel McAdams is interviewed on RT. Transcript below; video here.

Victoria Nuland's anti-Russian rhetoric comes from the neocon camp of US politics, seeking to stir the Ukraine crisis, thrilled by the prospect of defense industry expansion and more arms sales, Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Peace Institute told RT.

RT: World leaders and international monitors agree the situation in Ukraine is generally improving. Why are we still witnessing aggressive rhetoric from some US officials?

Daniel McAdams: Because the US does not want peace to break out. The US is determined to see its project through. But unfortunately like all of its regime change projects this one is failing miserably. Victoria Nuland completely disregards the role of the US in starting the conflict in Ukraine. She completely glosses over the fact that the army supported by Kiev has been bombarding Eastern Ukraine, as if these independent fighters in the east are killing themselves and their own people. Victoria Nuland was an aid to Dick Cheney; she is firmly ensconced in the neocon camp. The neocons believe very strongly in lying, the noble lie… They lied us into the war in Iraq; they are lying now about Ukraine. Lying is what the neocons do.

RT: Nuland listed a lot of hostile actions by Russia without providing any reliable proof. Do you think she can she be challenged on these topics?

DM: Maybe she is right but the US hasn't provided one piece of proof, except for Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt's Rorschach tests he passes off as a satellite photo. Maybe they are true but we have to present some evidence because we've seen now the neocons have lied us into the war. This is much more serious than the attack on small Iraq. This has the potential for a global nuclear war. So I think they should be held to a higher level of scrutiny. Thus far they have not provided any. We do know however that the US is providing military aid. As the matter of fact this week hundreds of American troops are arriving in Ukraine. Why is that not an escalation? Why is it only an escalation when the opponents of the US government are involved?

RT: How probable is that the Western nations ship lethal aid to Ukraine?

DM: It is interesting because Victoria Nuland this week spent some time with Andriy Parubiy, one of the founders of the fascist party in Ukraine and I believe one of the founders of the Joseph Goebbels Institute. She met with him this week and had a photo taken with him. He came back to Ukraine and assured his comrades that the US will provide additional, non-lethal weapons - whatever that means - and felt pretty strongly that they would provide lethal weapons. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey has been urging the US government to provide lethal weapons as has the new US defense secretary [Ashton Carter], both of whom come from the military industrial complex which is thrilled by prospect of a lot more arms to be sold.

RT: Nuland has said the State Department is in talks with EU leaders for another round of sanctions on Russia. Do you think the EU will agree?

DM: I think they will be pressured into agreeing. It is interesting that Nuland said that the new Rada, the new Ukrainian parliament, in this first four months has been a hive of activity. I was just watching some videos from the fights in the Ukrainian parliament. So that was one bit of unintentional humor probably in her speech. It looks like a fight club over there.
Related

[Apr 14, 2015] The New Militarism: Who Profits?

Quote: "So who is the real enemy? The Russians? No, the real enemy is the taxpayer. The real enemy is the middle class and the productive sectors of the economy. We are the victims of this new runaway military spending. Every dollar or euro spent on a contrived threat is a dollar or euro taken out of the real economy and wasted on military Keynesianism. It is a dollar stolen from a small business owner that will not be invested in innovation, spent on research to combat disease, or even donated to charities that help the needy."
Apr 12, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Militarism and military spending are everywhere on the rise, as the new Cold War propaganda seems to be paying off. The new "threats" that are being hyped bring big profits to military contractors and the network of think tanks they pay to produce pro-war propaganda.

Here are just a few examples:

The German government announced last week that it would purchase 100 more "Leopard" tanks – a 45 percent increase in the country's inventory. Germany had greatly reduced its inventory of tanks as the end of the Cold War meant the end of any threat of a Soviet ground invasion of Europe. The German government now claims these 100 new tanks, which may cost nearly half a billion dollars, are necessary to respond to the new Russian assertiveness in the region. Never mind that Russia has neither invaded nor threatened any country in the region, much less a NATO member country.

The US Cold War-era nuclear bunker under Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, which was all but shut down in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is being brought back to life. The Pentagon has committed nearly a billion dollars to upgrading the facility to its previous Cold War-level of operations. US defense contractor Raytheon will be the prime beneficiary of this contract. Raytheon is a major financial sponsor of think tanks like the Institute for the Study of War, which continuously churn out pro-war propaganda. I am sure these big contracts are a good return on that investment.

NATO, which I believe should have been shut down after the Cold War ended, is also getting its own massively expensive upgrade. The Alliance commissioned a new headquarters building in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010, which is supposed to be completed in 2016. The building looks like a hideous claw, and the final cost – if it is ever finished – will be well over one billion dollars. That is more than twice what was originally budgeted. What a boondoggle! Is it any surprise that NATO bureaucrats and generals continuously try to terrify us with tales of the new Russian threat? They need to justify their expansion plans!

So who is the real enemy? The Russians?

No, the real enemy is the taxpayer. The real enemy is the middle class and the productive sectors of the economy. We are the victims of this new runaway military spending. Every dollar or euro spent on a contrived threat is a dollar or euro taken out of the real economy and wasted on military Keynesianism. It is a dollar stolen from a small business owner that will not be invested in innovation, spent on research to combat disease, or even donated to charities that help the needy.

One of the most pervasive and dangerous myths of our time is that military spending benefits an economy. This could not be further from the truth. Such spending benefits a thin layer of well-connected and well-paid elites. It diverts scarce resources from meeting the needs and desires of a population and channels them into manufacturing tools of destruction. The costs may be hidden by the money-printing of the central banks, but they are eventually realized in the steady destruction of a currency.

The elites are terrified that peace may finally break out, which will be bad for their profits. That is why they are trying to scuttle the Iran deal, nix the Cuba thaw, and drum up a new "Red Scare" coming from Moscow. We must not be fooled into believing their lies.


Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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[Dec 03, 2014] Greenspan Shrugged, Now Says Regulation is Necessary

October 23, 2008 | nakedcapitalism.com

Jojo, October 23, 2008 at 4:33 am

The End of Libertarianism
By jacob.weisberg
Created 10/20/2008 – 9:48am

A source of mild entertainment amid the financial carnage has been watching libertarians scurrying to explain how the global financial crisis is the result of too much government intervention rather than too little. One line of argument [1] casts as villain the Community Reinvestment Act, which prevents banks from "redlining" minority neighborhoods as not creditworthy. Another theory [2] blames Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for causing the trouble by subsidizing and securitizing mortgages with an implicit government guarantee. An alternative thesis is that past bailouts encouraged investors to behave recklessly in anticipation of a taxpayer rescue.

There are rebuttals to these claims and rejoinders to the rebuttals. But to summarize, the libertarian apologetics fall wildly short of providing any convincing explanation for what went wrong. The argument as a whole is reminiscent of wearying dorm-room debates that took place circa 1989 about whether the fall of the Soviet bloc demonstrated the failure of communism. Academic Marxists were never going to be convinced that anything that happened in the real world could invalidate their belief system. Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history. Like all true ideologues, they find a way to interpret mounting evidence of error as proof that they were right all along.

To which the rest of us can only respond, Haven't you people done enough harm already?

Anonymous, October 23, 2008 at 5:28 am

Thanks for the link, JoJo. I *still* hear this from my communist friends all the time. They tell me that I am co-opted by "capitalist ideology" and that their communist principles have never been given a fair shake in the real world. When they are presented with the idea that real world implementation always will lead to totalitarian dictatorships, either by the difficult process of change in a reluctant portion of the populace or the power vacuum created thereafter, they quickly change the subject. Anarcho-capitalist libertarians are just as utopian, counterfactual and delusional as these communists. I can't believe we don't all openly scoff at them every day. Ron Paul is probably a good man, but his ideas are, to put it nicely, fringe (and wholly without much evidential support). It should not surprise me that the anarcho-capitalists have reacted in the same way…"our ideas have never been tried." Cognitive dissonance. Powerful delusion. Hayek always made a point, in discussing Germany's dissent into Naziism, that ideas are powerful. Just be vigilant that the ideas of the anarcho-capitalist fringe don't continue to infect the general population.

Anonymous, October 23, 2008 at 6:12 am

I was wondering when someone would get around to posting Weisberg's sophistry and name-calling masquerading as a column. There are plenty of legitimate arguments against deregulation to be made by more serious people than Weisberg, but I guess that's the kind of fare that has the greatest traction in political discussion, these days.

"Ron Paul is probably a good man, but his ideas are, to put it nicely, fringe (and wholly without much evidential support)."

You're obviously in a big hurry to do your "open scoffing" and not paying much attention to what the man has actually said. He's called the credit crisis to a "t".

Here are some things he said when voting *against* Graham-Leach-Bliley. In the year 1999.
__________________________________
"today we are considering a bill aimed at modernizing the financial services industry through deregulation. It is a worthy goal which I support. However, this bill falls short of that goal. The negative aspects of this bill outweigh the benefits….

* The growth in money and credit has outpaced both savings and economic growth. These inflationary pressures have been concentrated in asset prices, not consumer price inflation–keeping monetary policy too easy. This increase in asset prices has fueled domestic borrowing and spending.

* Government policy and the increase in securitization are largely responsible for this bubble. In addition to loose monetary policies by the Federal Reserve, government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have contributed to the problem. The fourfold increases in their balance sheets from 1997 to 1998 boosted new home borrowings to more than $1.5 trillion in 1998, two-thirds of which were refinances which put an extra $15,000 in the pockets of consumers on average–and reduce risk for individual institutions while increasing risk for the system as a whole.

* The rapidity and severity of changes in economic conditions can affect prospects for individual institutions more greatly than that of the overall economy. The Long Term Capital Management hedge fund is a prime example. New companies start and others fail every day. What is troubling with the hedge fund bailout was the governmental response and the increase in moral hazard.

* This increased indication of the government's eagerness to bail out highly-leveraged, risky and largely unregulated financial institutions bodes ill for the post S. 900 future as far as limiting taxpayer liability is concerned. LTCM isn't even registered in the United States but the Cayman Islands!

* …My main reasons for voting against this bill are the expansion of the taxpayer liability and the introduction of even more regulations. The entire multi-hundred page S. 900 that reregulates rather than deregulates the financial sector could be replaced with a simple one-page bill."
________________________________

Again, those familiar with Austrian economics were more prescient about the present circumstances than anyone, but modern commentators are either ignorant of it or so desperate to dismiss it as "fringe" that they won't even consider *looking* at its theoretical framework.

So. We'll just go with the Keynesian approach until it finally bankrupts the U.S.

BeerdedOne, October 23, 2008 at 8:13 am

Libertarianism may be flawed, but it is NOT to blame.

Lets be intellectually honest with ourselves and admit that Libertarians are a misunderstood, heterogeneous and largely marginal (in Washington, atleast) political group. The idea that the Bob Barrs' of the world speak for all libertarians is as ridiculous as the idea that the Bush administration has somehow implemented Libertarian policies since 2000! I'm very unclear what motivation people have to obscure the agenda of the neoconservative / neoliberal corporatists behind a smokescreen of libertarian bashing.

The question shouldn't be couched in the regulation/deregulation framework, but in terms of regulation for and by whom?

Corporatism has invaded our government on both sides of the aisle. Lobbyists hired by corporate interests write the laws that then are masqueraded as the 'regulation' or 'deregulation' that is needed, depending on the political climate and which party is in power.

The revolving door of high level industry/government/industry employment assures that the policy implementation is carried out with a high degree of loyalty to big banking. Watch as it happens again in the wake of this crisis.

Anonymous, October 23, 2008 at 10:16 am

No sense of irony? How about no shame! He is probably the single largest culprit in setting the stage for this mess. If the hired hand in charge of the central bank couldn't see this coming, he is incompetent. If he did see it coming, he is evil. You pick…

ruetheday, October 23, 2008 at 10:35 am

Libertarianism (at least the natural rights variant) is based on the unjustified assumption that the right to private property and the right of contract somehow are absolute and must trump all other considerations. Furthermore, there is the additional unjustified assumption that externalities either do not exist or are so insignificant as to be safely ignored.

None of these premises are able to withstand a moment's scrutiny, which is why serious political philosophers don't spend much time responding to libertarians.

With regard to private property, if one follows an entitlement theory of justice, ala Nozick, one always ends up with the question of how to justify the initial acquisition of land and other unproduced natural resources. There is no solution to this problem, despite libertarians' attempts to fudge it with counterfactual, post-hoc rationalizations like labor-mixing and homesteading.

With regard to contracts, any attempt at developing a moral system based on voluntary contract has to not only answer the question of why contracts should be ENFORCED (i.e., why individuals shouldn't be permitted to exit agreements as easily as they enter them when either circumstances or their opinions change) but also must consider 1) the bargaining power of each party entering into the contract and 2) the information available to each party upon entry. Libertarians' excepting of "force" and "fraud" from all agreements is just a simple-minded attempt at punting on the issue of bargaining power and information.

With regard to externalities, libertarianism relies on the unjustified assumption that all human activities can be divided into voluntary action and force (false dichotomy fallacy) and thus rules out the fact that the actions of individuals can indirectly but significantly affect other individuals without their consent. Every man is an island in libertopia. Outside of libertopia, the daily actions of individuals living in society do, in many cases, affect others.

Libertarianism debunked in three easy steps.

doc holiday, October 23, 2008 at 10:54 am

Greenspan simply must continue to evolve as a capitalist and show no loyalty or integrity with his withering shell. He must not be bound to his money-based relationships to the current hedge fund he whores for, or bow before the deals with Pimco, et al. As God is my witness, the man must burrow himself into the exchanges and opportunities available in Zimbabwe, before he returns to Mephistopheles for a new assignment:

Inflation is somewhere in the millions – or perhaps the billions – and the economy is the fastest shrinking on Earth. But Zimbabwe is the "best investment opportunity" in Africa, financiers at a seminar in South Africa have heard.

In the surreal atmosphere of President Robert Mugabe's domain, this proposition may have a certain logic.

Throughout the economic meltdown, Zimbabwe's stock market has soared because hyperinflation means that people must pour their money into shares to preserve its value.

On Monday, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) industrials index rose by over 241 per cent. During the investment seminar, a live feed of ZSE prices showed many stocks going up by several hundred per cent, with the leader, Zimnat, up 1,150 per cent in a day. There were no fallers.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Dollar plummeted, falling to 306.8 million against its US counterpart in the course of a morning.

Hirsch V Gupta, October 23, 2008 at 11:26 am

Anon of 7:12a.m.

Thanks for posting the text of Ron Paul's comments from the 1999 act.

His ideas in 1999 were undenaibly better and more organized than he was able to present it during the campaign or during his questing of the Ben Bernanke atthe hearing where he went off on a tangent and just stayed there.

Thanks again.

Sincerely

Hirsch V Gupta

Anonymous, October 23, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Greenspan, a man who truly kneeled at the altar of Market Fundamentalism in 3 out of its 4 ugly incarnations.

Greenspan: the man who called himself a Libertarian, worshiped an Objectivist, and ran his central bank like a Neoliberal.

The 4 ugly pillars of Market Fundamentalism (don't forget the ugliest one, Anarcho-Capitalism!) need to have happen to them exactly what happned to Communism: be consigned to the trash heap of history.

HC, October 23, 2008 at 7:27 pm

The man in charge of the largest counterfeiting operation in the world, enforced by gun point, who willingly intervened in the money markets to distort interest rates is some how a free market ideologue? I am glad politics isn't your specialty Yves… I mean how is setting price 'targets' on interest rates any different than pegging a currency or price 'targeting' gasoline or food? Isn't that the whole point of a command economy? To command the prices and thereby the flow of goods? Orwell would be 'proud' Yves…

Anonymous, October 24, 2008 at 12:01 am

"Now that Greenspan has thrown in the towel, the free market ideologues have lost one of their most loyal advocates."

Yves – have you read Bill Fleckensteins book?

It is the best refutation of Greenspan that I've come across.

The title is :

"Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve."

Doug

[Sep 23, 2014] The Antimilitarist Libertarian Heritage by Sheldon Richman

September 19, 2014 | Antiwar.com

With the United States on the verge of another war in the Middle East – or is it merely the continuation of a decades-long war? – we libertarians need to reacquaint ourselves with our intellectual heritage of peace, antimilitarism, and anti-imperialism. This rich heritage is too often overlooked and frequently not appreciated at all. That is tragic. Libertarianism, to say the least, is deeply skeptical of state power. Of course, then, it follows that libertarianism must be skeptical of the state's power to make war – to kill and destroy in other lands. Along with its domestic police authority, this is the state's most dangerous power. (In 1901 a libertarian, Frederic Passy, a friend of libertarian economist Gustave de Molinari, shared in the first Nobel Peace Prize.)

Herbert Spencer, the great English libertarian philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th century, eloquently expressed radical liberalism's antipathy to war and militarism. His writings are full of warnings about the dangers of war and conquest. Young Spencer saw and cheered the rise of the industrial type of society, which was displacing what he called the militant type. The industrial type was founded on equal freedom, consent, and contract, the militant on hierarchy, command, and force. Yet he lived long enough to see a reversal, and his later writings lamented the ascendancy of the old militant traits. We have a good deal to learn from the much-maligned Spencer, who is inexplicably condemned as favoring the "law of the jungle." This is so laughably opposite of the truth that one couldn't be blamed for concluding that the calumny is the product of bad faith. As Auburn University philosopher Roderick Long writes,

The textbook summary is absurd, of course. Far from being a proponent of "might makes right," Spencer wrote that the "desire to command is essentially a barbarous desire" because it "implies an appeal to force," which is "inconsistent with the first law of morality" and "radically wrong." While Spencer opposed tax-funded welfare programs, he strongly supported voluntary charity, and indeed devoted ten chapters of hisPrinciples of Ethicsto a discussion of the duty of "positive beneficence."

Spencer jumped on the issues of war and peace right out of the gate. His first book, Social Statics(1851), contains a chapter, "Government Colonization," that examines the effects of imperialism on both the home and subjugated populations. While formal colonization has gone out of style, many of its key characteristics have been preserved in a new form; thus Spencer's observations are entirely pertinent.

He starts by pointing out that the "parent" country's government must violate the rights of its own citizens when it engages in colonial conquest and rule. Spencer advocated just enough government to protect the freedom of the citizens who live under it (although the first edition of his book included the chapter "The Right to Ignore the State," which he removed from later editions), and he claims that the money spent on colonies necessarily is money not needed to protect that freedom. He writes,

That a government cannot undertake to administer the affairs of a colony, and to support for it a judicial staff, a constabulary, a garrison, and so forth, without trespassing against the parent society, scarcely needs pointing out. Any expenditure for these purposes, be it like our own some three and a half millions sterling a year, or but a few thousands, involves a breach of state-duty. The taking from men property beyond what is needful for the better securing of their rights, we have seen to be an infringement of their rights. Colonial expenditure cannot be met without property being so taken. Colonial expenditure is therefore unjustifiable.

Spencer proceeds to demolish the argument that foreign acquisitions increase the wealth of the parent society, as though such acquisitions are analogous to voluntary trade relations. He writes,

Experience is fast teaching us that distant dependencies are burdens, and not acquisitions. And thus this earliest motive for state-colonization – the craving for wider possessions – will very soon be destroyed by the conviction that territorial aggression is as impolitic as it is unjust.

Any true economic benefits from dealing with foreign populations can be obtained through free trade, he says. He invokes the law of comparative advantage to argue that the parent society loses, not gains, when the government coercively creates artificial foreign markets for products the society can't produce as efficiently as others can.

As for those on the receiving end of colonial policy, Spencer was blunt: "We … meet nothing but evil results. It is a prettily sounding expression that of mother-country protection, but a very delusive one. If we are to believe those who have known the thing rather than the name, there is but little of the maternal about it." While the worst practices, he adds, were less common in his time, "kindred iniquities are continued."

We have but to glance over the newspapers published in our foreign possessions, to see that the arbitrary rule of the Colonial Office is no blessing. Chronic irritation, varying in intensity from that of which petitions are symptomatic, to that exhibited in open rebellions, is habitually present in these forty-six scattered dependencies which statesmen have encumbered us with.

He condemns "the pitiless taxation, that wrings from the poor ryots nearly half the produce of the soil" and "the cunning despotism which uses native soldiers to maintain and extend native subjection – a despotism under which, not many years since, a regiment of sepoys was deliberately massacred, for refusing to march without proper clothing."

Down to our own day the police authorities league with wealthy scamps, and allow the machinery of the law to be used for purposes of extortion. Down to our own day, so-called gentlemen will ride their elephants through the crops of impoverished peasants; and will supply themselves with provisions from the native villages without paying for them. And down to our own day, it is common with the people in the interior to run into the woods at sight of a European!

Spencer wonders,

Is it not, then, sufficiently clear that this state-colonization is as indefensible on the score of colonial welfare, as on that of home interests? May we not reasonably doubt the propriety of people on one side of the earth being governed by officials on the other? Would not these transplanted societies probably manage their affairs better than we can do it for them?

No one can fail to see that these cruelties, these treacheries, these deeds of blood and rapine, for which European nations in general have to blush, are mainly due to the carrying on of colonization under state-management, and with the help of state-funds and state-force.

Spencer was keenly aware that such criticism of the government was regarded as unpatriotic. In 1902, near the end of his life, he turned his attention to that charge.

In an essay titled "Patriotism," included in his collection Facts and Comments, he begins, "Were anyone to call me dishonest or untruthful he would touch me to the quick. Were he to say that I am unpatriotic, he would leave me unmoved."

England may have done things in the past to advance freedom, Spencer says, but "there are traits, unhappily of late more frequently displayed, which do the reverse."

Contemplation of the acts by which England has acquired over eighty possessions – settlements, colonies, protectorates, etc. – does not arouse feelings of satisfaction. The transitions from missionaries to resident agents, then to officials having armed forces, then to punishments of those who resist their rule, ending in so-called "pacification" – these processes of annexation, now gradual and now sudden, as that of the new Indian province and that of Barotziland, which was declared a British colony with no more regard for the wills of the inhabiting people than for those of the inhabiting beasts – do not excite sympathy with their perpetrators.… If because my love of country does not survive these and many other adverse experiences I am called unpatriotic – well, I am content to be so called.

"To me the cry – 'Our country, right or wrong!' seems detestable," he continues.

Spencer gave no ground on this matter, which he made obvious with a story he relates toward the end of his essay.

Some years ago I gave my expression to my own feeling – anti-patriotic feeling, it will doubtless be called – in a somewhat startling way. It was at the time of the second Afghan war, when, in pursuance of what were thought to be "our interests," we were invading Afghanistan. News had come that some of our troops were in danger. At the Athenæum Club a well-known military man – then a captain but now a general – drew my attention to a telegram containing this news, and read it to me in a manner implying the belief that I should share his anxiety. I astounded him by replying – "When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don't care if they are shot themselves." [Emphasis added.]

Spencer was second to none in his antimilitarism and anti-imperialism, that is, his love of universal individual liberty and all forms of voluntary social cooperation. With heads held high, libertarians can claim him as one of their own.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

[Jun 19, 2014] Freedom and the Nanny State By Micah Mattix

January 29, 2014 | The American Conservative

Over at The Hedgehog Review-the journal of the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture-Charles Mathewes and Christina McRorie, responding to a recent piece by Richard Williams, argue that libertarians are overly concerned about government limits on personal freedom:

Libertarian anxieties about the "nanny state" tend to focus on governmental incursions into freedom, usually identified with new legislation: Don't tell me I can't do what I want!, the thinking goes. Williams updates this concern to address the more subtle form that policy "tweaks" in light of behavioral economics might take: And don't make me want what I don't want!

This new fear is not just that government will limit the exercise of our agency but that it might also shape it in some way. Thus the complaint that a government that uses behavioral economics to tailor its policies will "treat you like a child." What this assumes is that you are naturally an adult, someone who is in complete control of yourself, including your desires-absent government "nudging," your selection when buying a car, to use Williams' example, will be wholly innocent of influence from forces outside your own bare (and perhaps given) preferences. On this account, behavioral economics is not only a form of tyranny; it is also a form of creepy mind control.

But this anxiety rests upon a flawed and misleading picture of the human person, especially with regard to how desires are shaped. The fact is, our agency is always being shaped by external factors. We shouldn't have needed behavioral economics to show us that we are not as rational and totally in control of our choices as we'd like. The homo economicus ideal of the rational utility-maximizing individual, impervious to outside influence, whose solitary choices and subjective preferences essentially construct his or her self, would have been laughed out of court by Plato, or Aristotle, or the Stoics, or Augustine, or Aquinas, or even Hume or Kant, had anyone been so clueless as to propose it to them. Modern thinkers as diverse as Nietzsche, Freud, and Bonhoeffer have also exposed the inadequacy of this picture of freedom. Even today, it doesn't take a scientist to prove that such an account cannot make sense of the reality of our own lives. Not one of us grows to adulthood without being shaped by forces beyond ourselves, including our parents, our peers, our schoolteachers, and our cultural context.

I agree with Mathewes and McRorie that all of our choices are limited (the distinction between "shaping" and "limiting" is largely superfluous)-our bodies, our circumstances, our education, our brains, all have a limiting affect on our wills.

But not all limits are the same. Some are natural (my brain's chemical balance–or lack thereof); others are established by habit or tradition (kissing hello and goodbye in France), the result of technology (the invention of the automobile), or other such things. In many cases, the limiting effect of the constraint is a secondary result of the activity or event. Cars were not invented so that I could not ride a horse to work in Houston, though this is one limiting effect of the invention.

While many governmental regulations are motivated-at least in theory-by a desire to do some good (limit pollution, for example, or make Americans more healthy), the limits imposed by such regulations are not a secondary effect but the very essence of the laws and regulations themselves. It's what they do-limit certain activities. Mathewes and McRorie fail to make this important distinction.

Furthermore, while advertising may be one kind of constraint whose primary purpose (like regulation) is to limit (or shape) choice, there is an important difference here, too. Governments have far more power than individuals or corporations to make and enforce limits. Steve Jobs may have wanted all Americans to buy only Apple products, but the best advertising in the world could not have made this happen. But governments, if they so choose, can force us to buy certain kinds of light bulbs or health insurance.

Furthermore, history has shown that governmental limits are difficult to remove. This also makes them rather different from the shaping of advertising, which often only requires a click of the mouse or a press of the button on the remote to suppress.

All this to say, you don't need to believe in an unconstrained free will to be concerned about the nanny state.

[May 20, 2013] Keynes on Laissez-Faire

May 19, 2013 | economistsview.typepad.com

Gavin Kennedy follows up on a recent post from Brad DeLong on Keynes and laissez faire:

Keynes on Laissez-Faire, by Gavin Kennedy: I read the Keynes quote below in Brad Delong's Blog:
As John Maynard Keynes shrilly stated back in 1926:
"Let us clear… the ground…. It is not true that individuals possess a prescriptive 'natural liberty' in their economic activities. There is no 'compact' conferring perpetual rights on those who Have or on those who Acquire. The world is not so governed from above that private and social interest always coincide. It is not so managed here below that in practice they coincide. It is not a correct deduction from the principles of economics that enlightened self-interest always operates in the public interest. Nor is it true that self-interest generally is enlightened… individuals… promot[ing] their own ends are too ignorant or too weak to attain even these. Experience does not show that… social unit[s] are always less clear-sighted than [individuals] act[ing] separately. We [must] therefore settle… on its merits… "determin[ing] what the State ought to take upon itself to direct by the public wisdom, and what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual exertion.
Comment
My "Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes" are kept in France, so I was able to re-read "The End of Laissez-Faire" from Volume IX: "Essays in Persuasion" (pp 272-94. Macmillan).
The paragraph quoted by Brad Delong is fairly typical of the tone and language of the Essay. While Keynes's main focus is on laissez-faire, it also strikes at the general proposition now widespread across the discipline, usually wrapped in the extreme neoclassical fable that:
[Adam] Smith proclaimed the principle of the 'Invisible Hand'; every individual in pursuing his own selfish good was led, as if by an invisible hand, to achieve the best good for all, so that any interference with free competition by government was almost certain to be injurious (Samuelson, Economics: an introductory analysis, 5th edition, McGraw-Hill, p 39).
Keynes, rightly, points out that Adam Smith never used the words laissez-faire. And on the single occasion where he used the IH metaphor in Wealth Of Nations, it is a travesty to impute, let alone blatantly assert, that his words can be stretched to mean what Samuelson's wild inference takes them to mean.
However, on this occasion I shall not develop that theme.
I want to return to laissez-faire, accepting how Keynes expresses his demolition of the popular idea that laissez faire has or ought to have traction in it. I completely agree. And before my libertarian friends jump on me, I should point out that the meaning drawn from the incident between the merchant, Legendre and the French Minister, Colbert, is not entirely innocent of a narrow self interest.
'Laissez-nous faire' is not advocated as a universal principle for merchants and their customers; it was a very partial principle for merchants only – "laissez-nous faire" cries Legendre ("leave us alone!"). And that is the point of my own libertarian reservations about the slogan itself and its origins.
French markets were highly regulated and supervised by government inspectors. Yes, I agree an abomination. This placed consumers at the mercy of the decisions of local magistrates. Freeing merchants from the administrative burdens of the inspectors could, indeed, be a tentative step forward but freeing merchants from interference from competing merchants puts consumers at the mercy of the intentions of the merchants, which, as experience shows, is a high-risk strategy and generally one that has woeful consequences. As it was, experience in England and Scotland had been deeply marked by the monopolizing consequences of merchant tradesmen free, under governments, through the dead-hand of the Guilds in towns where they held sway, and ruthlessly protected by the Apprenticeship Acts that virtually eliminated competition. No laissez-faire there!
Moreover, laissez-faire became the rallying cry for merchants and industrialists in the 19th century to rally support for resisting government legislation against the excessive hours in mills and mines and the employment of very young children and women. It was also the common slogan of the anti-corn law agitation aimed at lowering the wages of labourers under the guise of removing barriers to farm imports.
Neither of these laissez-faire campaigns were the disinterested motives of the beneficiaries. Mill owners preferred laissez-faire to protect themselves from interference in the arduous, unsafe employment conditions and long hours they imposed on the males, females and children whom they employed; Mine owners likewise employed women and children underground at lower wages than adult men. Both wrapped themselves in laissez-faire flags to wipe up the blood of their employees when they demanded their own freedoms and not those of their laborers or their customers.
On these issues I agree with Keynes.

Big Ugly:

You say "French markets were highly regulated and supervised by government inspectors. Yes, I agree an abomination." -

Are you sure that you want an unregulated food industry without government inspectors? Or an unregulated construction industry? Look how that worked out for Bangladesh???

The challenge is to regulate fairly.

Alex Blaze:

I didn't know that "laissez-faire" was the 18th century version of "Leave rich people aloooooooooooooooooooooooooone!"

Good to know! We should never have dropped the "nous," though, and people should stop pronouncing the "ss" as if it were a z instead of an s as in snake. It's not even the way English pronunciation works!

On substance, I agree with Keynes too. Especially since his argument isn't just about laissez-faire. It's also about the dumb argument people use to support it: it's natural to let people keep all their junk, so la-la-la-can't-hear-you we don't need to argue anymore. Considering these people don't have an even passing familiarity with anthropology, much less the background needed to pronounce something natural or unnatural, just telling them they're on-face wrong suffices. The fact that it's so rare to hear someone say that a certain "natural right" doesn't exist shows how powerful it is to just throw it out there.

paine said in reply to Alex Blaze...

"uncle ...touch nothing" market policy

Ryan Stevens:

I remember listening to a lecture by Bernard Harcourt years ago decrying how our perceptions of French bread markets as exemplars of over-regulations are odd in light of the myriad of regulations and arbitrary rules set by the Chicago Board of Trade. His paper on this subject, which is highly enlightening for just historical value, is here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1278067 .

His argument is persuasive, though it seems to give little credence to how individual police officials could hold arbitrary sway over the market and enforce at their own whims. Just thought I'd through my two cents here.

Beatrice H.:

An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations can be downloaded directly from the Project Gutenberg site, as well as some of John Maynard Keynes' works.

Adam Smith's only mention of the invisible hand is in this section

"every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention."

What many laissez-faire proponents fail to note is that Smith was talking about individuals, not corporations. Smith was against mercantilism and against corporations, which during his time were known as "joint stock companies" which he said actually harmed the functions of the free market.

KateJ said in reply to Beatrice H....

In fact, one could say his stance against "mercantilism" (the derogatory label he assigned to the polyglot of economic thinking coming before him) was a polemic against the overly-influential merchant interests that pressured governments to enact trading (and incorporation) policies in their favor.

anne -> Beatrice H....

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/smith/adam/s64w/chapter22.html

1776

Wealth of Nations

By Adam Smith

Of Restraints upon the Importation from Foreign Countries of such Goods as can be produced at Home

btg said in reply to Beatrice H....

when I read this, it is clear that Smith meant something more along the lines of "the wisdom of crowds" than the idea that "the market is god" and government intervention is wrong/laissez faire is the best solution (save for the usual libertarian accepted exceptions of defense, criminal justice and jails)

Main Street Muse said...

"It is not a correct deduction from the principles of economics that enlightened self-interest always operates in the public interest."

Yes. I cannot believe there is ANYONE in this day and age who thinks that "enlightened self-interest always operates in the public interest."

It is simply not true. And if models are being constructed on such a fragile foundation, shame on the economists who are doing this.

One hopes the pix of pollution in China is evidence enough that regulations exist for a reason - to protect citizens from the unregulated greed of corporations (all those many "people" Romney loves!)

John Cummings said...

We need to rebuild the ancient Vedic castes: 1.Brahmins: Priests 2.Kshatriyas: soldiers 3.Vaishyas: merchants 4.Shudras: laborers/artisons 5.The final caste would be the "slaves" or as in modern times the degenerates and destroyers of culture.

Only the first 4 castes will be granted freedom. The final caste would do "good works" to they redeem themselves to their tribe.

Reply Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 06:34 PM

The Blorch said in reply to John Cummings...

Politicians are the merchants. To get elected, they buy their votes wholesale. The pay using a revolving line of credit. As collateral, they put up focus group tested talking points sprinkled generously over their speeches and interviews.

Once elected, the politicians sell their vote retail to the wealthy special interest at a price yielding hefty profits.

hapa said...

i remember saying to someone here a while ago that keynes was "a laissez-faire kind of guy" or some such. it comes out to the question of 'belief' in markets. are they what they are, or would you call them miraculous? among people who see them having good & bad qualities, then keynes seems to have wanted them given pretty free hand.

one thing's for sure, if the corporations have their way, the fetters will NEVER come off, neither through the legislatures nor the courts. so everything else they say about the miracles is junk, or worse, attempting to bias the next jury.

The Blorch said in reply to hapa...

That's my problem with libertarians. Of course well funded interests are going to solicit the favorable interventions from the government that ossify their rents in place. The libertarians are against it in principle but what can you do? Them that gots gets.

But when poorly funded, loosely organized interests initiate advocacy for government intervention to redirect policy in favor of resource challenged constituencies, the libertarians smell blood and grab on like sharks, pulling and twisting.

As the libertarians fail to prevent intervention from institutional wealth (which they obliged by dogma to do) but are able to find common cause with institutional wealth in stomping out the burgeoning interventions of resource challenged upstarts, they promote policy outcomes biased towards the rich.

What's grating, is they don't knowledge this convenient discrepancy. It's convenient because they can solicit support from wealthy, institutional donors. In other words, Libertarians are a complete scam!

Reply Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 08:16 PM

C.B. said in reply to The Blorch...

Libertarians like myself have failed in reducing rents AND reducing the welfare state. You somehow interpret the former as a result of passive acceptance, and the latter a result in spite of aggressive rejection. Please, explain where this interpretation comes from.

Libertarians, for example, were some of the most virulent critics of the bank and auto bailouts. How does that factor into your simplistic analysis?

[Jul 04, 2011] Mark Ames Why the American Right Never Liked V.S. Naipaul

"Democratic/Republican fights are just an instrument of distraction. Plugging in right and left changes very little in this kabuki dynamic. The right sold out to the corporatists in word and deed decades ago. The left except for a tiny uncoopted sliver of it sold out in deed about the same time. What we see nowadays, epitomized by Obama, is the slow but sure closing of the divide between the corporate left's rhetoric and their actions. Change we can believe in is being replaced by calls for the necessity of cutting Social Security and Medicare, bailing out banksters, continuing and multiplying the imperial wars, and curtailing individual rights for all but the wealthy. More and more the Democrats and the liberals are pretending less and less about their real positions supporting all of these. "
July 2, 2011 | naked capitalism

Hugh:

This post is what is called a "righteous rant." It doesn't tell you what Ames is for, but it does give you a pretty clear idea of what he dislikes.

I've known conservatives who were honest people, but I have never met a conservative position that was. And I have always thought that phrases like "conservative intellectual," "conservative thinker," "compassionate conservative," and "principled conservative" were oxymorons. Truth be told, I don't have a high opinion of Establishment "intellectuals", like Krugman, DeLong, or Bacevich either. Invariably, anytime they give an indication of having a clue, they quickly follow up with something that shows, nope, they clearly don't.

I agree with those that say that the focus should be on kleptocracy. Democratic/Republican fights are just an instrument of distraction. Plugging in right and left changes very little in this kabuki dynamic. The right sold out to the corporatists in word and deed decades ago. The left except for a tiny uncoopted sliver of it sold out in deed about the same time. What we see nowadays, epitomized by Obama, is the slow but sure closing of the divide between the corporate left's rhetoric and their actions. Change we can believe in is being replaced by calls for the necessity of cutting Social Security and Medicare, bailing out banksters, continuing and multiplying the imperial wars, and curtailing individual rights for all but the wealthy. More and more the Democrats and the liberals are pretending less and less about their real positions supporting all of these.

As for that sliver on the left I mentioned, I said here once how odd it was that having progressive inclinations and favoring solutions that are both fair and work puts one today not just on the left but the far left. It's become the default space for those of us who support none of the above but still believe that our society can be fixed.

Bernard:

Wow, what an awesome column today. this guy Ames can call things what they are. and to watch the conversation, too. Ames really calls it in so many ways. the symptoms of the demise are staring us directly in the face.

like the last post said, any attempt to call a spade a spade is not allowed. the trickery of the left and right to control the conversation and avoid the facts of how we got here and who covers for whom. no one is completely "right", just the summation of their argument shows where the truth lies in what they say.

to see the path to today described so aptly. and the comments about the spite vote is so on the mark. "If i can't have it, then no one can." how to get over on everyone, cause i don't have mine" voter. and to enjoy watching your brother/sister get stabbed and then fried by the system. what always amazes me is the absence of connection. the idea that somehow this "greed/envy/hate delusion doesn't come back or wont come back to bite you in your own behind. like it is right now.

the simple answers to the Medicare, Social Security, the Banks and all the other socio economic issues are not allowed to be talked about. just so the Rich power brokers can keep stealing, keep on keeping on.

"nothing to see here, just move along" is all that is allowed.

wonderful blog, i am so lucky to have found this.

thanks for all the posting. i can't begin to say how much better i feel to know i was not crazy. Not being one of the "Powers that Be", thinking what i did about all those "lunatics" in charge of the insane asylum.

and what is also important is that the "diversionary" tactics of some posters are not working as long as common sense is continued to be allowed to be spoken.

thanks Yves, this really matters.

Nobody:

"the simple answers to the Medicare, Social Security, the Banks and all the other socio economic issues are not allowed to be talked about. Just so the Rich power brokers can keep stealing, keep on keeping on."

Isn't that part of what happens here?

[Jun 07, 2011] "Lifting the Veil"

June 7, 2011 | naked capitalism

Mark Ames referred me to the documentary "Lifting the Veil." I'm only about 40 minutes into it and am confident it will appeal to NC readers, provided you can keep gagging in the sections that contain truly offensive archival footage (in particular, numerous clips of Obama campaign promises).

Ames' mini-review:

It begins with John Stauber, one of the great anti-PR writers, and historian Sharon Smith laying out the flat rancid truth: That the Democratic Party of today is the Big Co-apter. The Republicans have always been the party of corporate interests; and the Democrats portray themselves as agents of social change and progressive/populist opposition to corporate power, but the Democratic Party's job is to co-apt these anti-corporate movements and subvert them to the same (or a different faction of) corporate interests.

To complete our two-corporate-party farce, we have an alleged third choice, a so-called opposition "Third Party," the largest "neither left nor right"/"neither Democrat nor Republican" third party for the past three decades. And that party is…ta-dum!…

Libertarianism. Which was nothing but a corporate PR project designed to co-apt the whole realm of Third Party opposition and subvert it to the most radical corporate agenda of all. In other words, even our Third Party/outside-the-system party is nothing but the most purified, most extreme pro-corporate party of all!

At this point you have to assume that the oligarchy is just laughing at us. "Hey, here's an idea–let's make the opposition to our fake-two-party system nothing but our corporate wish-list we send to Santa every year, and package that as the radical opposition." "No way Mr Koch, there's no way they'll buy it–everyone today who's against the two-party system is on the radical Left." "Just give me a couple of decades, and a few billion dollars, you'll see…" CUT TO TODAY: "Holy shit, you were right, Chuck! Ah-hah-hah-hah! The suckers have nowhere to go but right into our mouths–doors one, two and three our ours! Mwah-hah-hah!"

As black activist Leonard Pinkney says, "The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves–and they both want to devour you." So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?

You can watch it below or at Metanoia:

Foppe:

While it is quite obviously true (given earlier discussions) that both parties are pro-corporate, it seems to me that there is two moderately interesting points to be made: First of all, to note that, given the fact that politicians are beholden to their sponsors, the political dynamics were different (and the pro-financial-interests stance of the democratic party was less absolute) when the unions could still buy more candidates. Secondly, and this will sound rather obvious: not all corporations are the same, as not every US firm is interested in having the maximum amount of competition between nations, or in having a heavily financialized economy. These 'other' (sometimes called Main Street, but given the forays of auto companies into the lending business and Enron in the derivatives business I am not sure this is quite accurate any more) businesses used to also be able to gather political support, but they too seem to have been relegated to the sidelines. Why is that? One part of the answer can, it seems to me, be found here: (David Harvey, Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom)

In his Whitehall speech Bush made much of the fact that the last person to stay at Buckingham Palace was Woodrow Wilson, "an idealist, without question." Bush recounted how at a dinner hosted by King George V in 1918, "Woodrow Wilson made a pledge. With typical American understatement, he vowed that right and justice would become the predominant and controlling force in the world." Yet this was the same Woodrow Wilson whose attorney general launched the infamous "Palmer raids" against immigrants and "anarchists" that culminated in the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti (now pardoned as innocent). The Wilson administration ruthlessly crushed the Seattle general strike in 1918 and exiled the leaders to the newly minted Soviet Union. It imprisoned Eugene Debs for speaking out against the war and escalated its interventionism in Central America to put U.S. Marines into Nicaragua for more than a decade. Wilson: "Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused." … A populist nationalism has often dominated and operated as a powerful check upon liberal international engagements. The isolationism of the 1920S, centered at the time within the Republican party, stymied Wilsonian internationalism at home (the Senate rejected joining the League of Nations), while the imperialist policies of the European powers checked it abroad. Bush's subsequent advocacy of Wilsonian liberal international idealism, including attempts at democratization and nation building in Afghanistan and Iraq, suffused with the rhetoric of individual liberty and freedom, signaled a major political break in how this strain in U.S. foreign policy was to be articulated. The September 11 attacks and the subsequent declaration of a global war on terror allowed populist nationalism to be mobilized behind rather than against Wilsonian internationalism. This is the real significance of the widespread claim (accepted within the United States but not elsewhere) that the world fundamentally changed with September 11. That this is where the neoconservatives wanted to be all along is also deeply relevant. By contrast, large segments of the Democratic party, along with the traditional Republican right wing, have become comfortable with ideas of protectionism and isolationism (eventually looking to abandon the Iraq venture to its ugly fate). True-blue conservatives, such as William Buckley, mindful of the strong tradition of noninterventionism in the affairs of others that stretches back at least to Edmund Burke, became ferocious critics of the Iraq venture.

russell1200
"As black activist Leonard Pinkney says, "The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves–and they both want to devour you." So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?"

By that description, you could call them the useful idiots. They are the people working for corporate well being through individual liberty. To the extent that some (many) of them by the corporate line, the way that liberal democrats bought the communist line, I think that would be a useful description.

Dave of Maryland
8:40 am Communism – or Maoism – is about the only hope I have left.
alex
Another radical possibility would be democracy. Democracy as in one person one vote, rather than one [million] dollars one vote.

Nah, never mind, I'm talking utopian silliness.

bmeisen
One person/2 votes please. In other words when you step into the voting booth you would cast a vote for a candidate and a vote for a party. The one man/one vote, single-member-district-plurality system is what creates the 2-party oligarchy.
alex
I'm all for a mixed district/party representation (the Bundestag has such a system) ranked preference (anything other than first-past-the-post plurality, see Australia) and lots of other good stuff that I think would help, but I still think the blatant bribes (oops, I meant large campaign contributions) are _the_ biggest factor.

Even with the two party duopoly we used to have better representation than we do now, and if we had all the other good things but kept the bribery we'd just have a wider variety of bought-and-paid-for politicians to choose from.

ScottS

To be a useful idiot, you have to truly believe. Politicians are coldly cynical and calculating.

I'd say the media is much closer to "useful idiot" status since they believe what they are told, and don't understand much of what they report on. They are gullible, at the very least.

vraie démocratie maintenant
" foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves "

elephants as heretics say ,"donkeys are your hypocrites"

a mêlée to the death of heresy against hypocrisy --

Foppe
With regard to the video, it is quite amusing to hear how much Obama promised.. I wonder what would've happened if someone had just compiled a video like this of all the promises he'd made made during the campaign, and run it before the vote between Hilary and Obama.. Wouldn't it have made people slightly skeptical? Or was the atmosphere really that crazy that this sounded possible?
F. Beard
"So what does that make Libertarians?"

The only hope? True libertarians are opposed to central banking. Of course there are fascist poseurs too including those who desire a government enforced gold standard.

aet
"True libertarians"?

I have some of those living down the street from me, right next door to some "true Scotsmen"!

F. Beard
It's true that "true libertarians" are not in total agreement of what the proper role of government should be. I'm not sure myself. But one thing is blindingly obvious – the government backed banking and money system must be abolished. After that is accomplished the need for government should "wither away" in time leaving many arguments about the role and size of government mute.

We really need a broad coalition between liberals, progressives and libertarians against the banks.

Praedor
Fairly silly. The government (as per Constitution) owns/operates the money. It is NOT the purview of businesses, it is not the purview of banks. It is the absolute domain of the government.

The problem with the Fed is it isn't actually federal, it is private. A truly governmnet/people owned/operated bank should replace the Fed…and no, gold should not be the basis of money. Not enough gold in the world to work AND…the value of virtually worthless gold is entirely subjective. It has no magical inherent value. It is less useful than silver or platinum, being largely relegated to mere jewelry, caps on teeth (so fascists can pry them out when convenient), and a small (but actually useful) role in nanomedicine and electronics.

You didn't mention gold but being a libertarian…you are all infected with the religious belief in the magic of gold.

F. Beard
You didn't mention gold but being a libertarian…you are all infected with the religious belief in the magic of gold. Praedor

LOL! That is a huge laugh. Certainly people should be allowed to use anything mutually agreed upon for private debts but anyone who calls for government recognition of anything but its own fiat as money is a fascist, not a libertarian.

F. Beard
Fairly silly. The government (as per Constitution) owns/operates the money. It is NOT the purview of businesses, it is not the purview of banks. It is the absolute domain of the government. Praedor

But there's the trap. By insisting on a single money supply for all debts you serve the bankers' interest who are then able to steal purchasing power by extending credit in that money. And if you abolish private banking, then you'll cripple the economy.

The solution is separate government and private money supplies. The government can simply create, spend and tax its own fiat. As for the private sector, the banks would attempt to pyramid on top of the government's fiat but the leverage would be limited without government privilege.

With separate government and private money supplies, the private sector would be forced to share wealth with workers since it would no longer have the option of stealing purchasing power via money creation (so-called "credit").

hareli
I agree completely with Praedor
Tao Jonesing
@aet,

I think I understand what Beardy is saying when he refers to "true libertarians." Modern libertarians draw heavily from the works of Hayek, who redefined the "liberty" of classical liberalism to mean just "negative liberty" (i.e., you have liberty as long as you are given a choice). By redefining liberty, he redeifined libertarianism.

Most most libertarians have no idea that they're worshipping a maimed vision of liberty that invites fascism and totalitarianism.

? says:

"The solution is separate government and private money supplies."

So something close to what the EU is now. Maybe the Euro Dollar market, a libertarian playground. No god damn thank you. The ECB can't lend to governments directly and can't create money itself, that is up to the private banks. So governments have to borrow from private banks, at a big markup cost, and have to use their public utilities, services and resources as collateral. As I said, hell no. The EU is a right wing, financialized basket case. The people are going to have to radically change the ECB, radically change how the richer countries that are financial powers share more equitably with the poorer countries or it will crumble. As it is structured now, I'd like it to.

I agree with Yves Smith, finance is a public utility. We could collectively do what the banks do at a lower cost and the rents (cause that is all finance is, unearned income) could go back into social programs. I think North Dakota's state bank is something to look at. Allowing financial parasites to create money out of thin air (which is wealth extraction, not creation) in the fractional reserve banking system on a computer screen is no logical way to run a financial system.

Also, basing our monetary system on gold makes no logical sense. It is a 19th century idea well past its time. Karl Polanyi showed clearly why the gold standard was the project of neo-classical ideologues and he explained in the "Great Transformation" why the system was such a disaster. Expanding and contracting purchasing power, the consumption or resources and with it pollution based upon the value of some damn metal makes no sense in the world we live in. If we were going to base our monetary system on a resource of real value, why not it be water? I know it sounds crazy, but Adam Smith's diamond/water paradox ironically shows why this would make more sense. Smith showed that while diamonds have no use value, they have exchange value. Water however is extremely useful and needed yet has very little exchange value. Well, that might have been the case then with far less people, pollution and ecological destruction, that paradox shows the real problems we and economics are facing now. It is time to stop looking to ideas that didn't even work that well 150 years ago, when the world was a much different place.

liberal
Most libertarians are crypto-feudalists.
alex
What's so crypto about them?
wunsacon
Beard, you might want to call yourself something other than a "libertarian", because (a) you and I share some views and (b) self-professed "libertarians" tell me I'm a liberal (which I can't disagree with, even though I argue with self-professed "liberals", because I don't know what the hell that label is supposed to mean anyway).

Maybe we should refer to our politicalcompass.org scores…or not use labels at all and just talk about what policies we want to change and why.

F. Beard
From now on, I am an anti-fascist non-socialist.
woohoo
Libertarians reject the concept of corporate charters. That's a good place to start. no hiding behind the skirts of politicians. Full liability for all actions.
alex
"Libertarians reject the concept of corporate charters."

*Some* libertarians do. But is that, for example, a plank of the Libertarian Party platform?

That's why many people, including myself, don't take "libertarianism" all that seriously. Apparently it can mean almost anything. Therefore in serious political debate it's best to leave the ism's out of it, lest the debate degenerate into rooting for or against various teams (and forgetting why).

Clampit
You know for so few victories or votes, Libertarians sure do wield disproportionate levels of political power. Turns out they were responsible for banking deregulation and now come to find out, despite barely being able to pick a front man, they've already been corrupted by corporate interests. Golly whiz, I'd better run home to the Republicrats before any real harm is done.

I can't wait to see how the market anarchism movement is hijacked by corporate interests, so I can finally be privy to the error in their ways as well.

auskalo
A couple of months ago DownSouth put here, at NC, in a comment about an article by Chris Hedges, the link to Lifting the Veil and Metanoia, getting lots of comments.

It is also in Vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/20355767

wunsacon
Yes, big thumbs up to DownSouth. I watched it after his plug.
Doug Terpstra
Same here: hat tip to DownSouth. He linked this video on March 13, in a "links" comment to the inevitablility of an imperial presidency. Coincidentally, the antidote du jour, was a fox (Obama?).

Obama commented on the $17 million bonus for Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and the $9 million bonus for Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs after they melted down our economy: "I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen. I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system." (But Dimon is 90% savvier than Blankfein!)

alex
"That is part of the free-market system."

Dear Mr. President,

Most of the fictional works of George Orwell (a.k.a. Eric Blair) were intended as warnings, not recommendations.

tz

I am really tired of "If I want your opinion I'll give it to you".

There are not a few libertarians like me that consider corp(se)orations the undead monsters created by the Frankenstate. I would have them slain. Then the Koch brothers would just have the power two individual had, not the power they seized when liberals concentrated it in DC.

I know of no country where they want stalinist-maoist like power in the centralized government that doesn't have a nomenklatura, oligarchy, or other elites living lavishly and breaking all the rules.

I do not think it would be any gain to change which people are the oligarchs crushing me, which elites get to steal my property.

Most libertarians are their core are about liberty, so any power, and the corruption that attends, needs to be broken, destroyed, scattered, opposed, or mitigated.

One thing I can say is almost universal about libertarians is they care about THE RULE OF LAW. You know – the laws against fraud that if they were enforced, even from the old english common law, most of the wall street and DC elite would be in prison serving long sentences.

But what is your solution? Arbitrary assassination? Basically destroying the rule of law in the other direction with bills of attainder or ex post facto laws – with your supreme court justices gutting the meaning of plain words after being "educated" by your group?

We will replace a corrupt king with a reign of terror. Why should I want that? I want a second AMERICAN revolution, not a second French revolution. I want to destroy the cozy relationships that mirror the East India company. You just want to start robbing and shooting the incumbents. I wish to reestablish justice and the rule of law – then change the laws to make individuals powerful, not bureaucrats, oligarchs, corpseorations, or nanny-dearest progressives that don't think I know how to run my life or protect myself.

liberal
Most libertarians are their core are about liberty…

Yes; about crushing it in favor of feudalism.

DownSouth
Yep. It's not about liberty at all, but about license.

We don't seem to have learned much during the last 500 years, because Machiavelli did a pretty good job of summing the relationship between the aristocrats, the common people and the government over five centuries ago in The Prince:

[W]hen a private citizen becomes the ruler of his country not through perfidy or intolerable violence but rather through the aid of his fellow citizens, we may call what ensures a civil principality. I say that one becomes the ruler of such a principality through the support of either the common people or the nobles, for these two opposing parties are to be found in every city; and they originate from the fact that the common people do not want to be commanded or oppressed by the nobles, whereas the nobles do want to command and oppress them. From these conflicting desires will come one of three consequences: principality, liberty, or license.

A principality, then, can come into being either by means of the common people or by means of the nobles, depending upon which of the two has the opportunity. When the nobles see that they can no longer withstand the people, they bestow power upon one of their own part and make him prince so that they can gratify their appetites under his protection. Likewise, when the common people see that they can no longer withstand the nobles, they bestow power upon someone of their own party and make him prince in order to find protection under his authority. The man who becomes prince through the help of the nobles will find it more difficult to remain in power than the man who becomes prince through the help of the people, for the former will be surrounded by men who will presume to be his equals. As a consequence, he will not be able to command them or control them as he would like.

But the prince who comes to power through the support of the people will stand alone, and there will be few or none at all near him who will not be disposed to obey him. Besides, it is impossible to satisfy the nobles fairly without injuring others, whereas it is indeed possible to do so with respect to the people, for their wishes have more right, since they seek to avoid oppression while the nobles seek to oppress…

Praedor
9:41 am Nah. Most libertarians are, at their core, merely greedy and self-centered. Their true core orbits around "I got mine so f*ck you!" They all love them some Ayn Rand.
F. Beard
Technically, Ayn Rand was a fascist since she favoured a government enforced gold standard.
Foppe
And yet. The problems we are facing are not caused by the state, they are caused by corporate interests utilizing the state. However, with the state gone, all that remains are corporations on the one hand, and individuals on the other. These individuals could then choose to organize themselves in unions or whatever, but as we have just heard in the case of Colombia, what happens then is that Chiquita hires paramilitary groups to beat the union members into submission. Conclusion: you need a strong state with a monopoly on violence, but without it being controlled by the corporations. And as corporations are best at hoarding money, this means that the people need to control the corporations. However, fundamental to all of this is the idea that people need to be able to work together, and to make choices that will affect the lives of the plutocrats negatively. How do you justify that from within a libertarian position? You cannot. Ergo, libertarianism is a primitive doctrine which presupposes that we can live our lives without affecting the lives of others.
Alex R.
That's not true. There are two kinds of Libertarians; those who don't know that Ayn Rand wrote fiction, and those who don't know that Robert Heinlein wrote fiction.
alex
Best categorization I've ever heard!
Praedor
THAT, sir, is hilarious (and sadly true I must say).
ambrit
Fiends; What's really funny about all this is that these two "Shining Stars" of the Libertarian firmament were completely dissolute and venal in their private lives. There is a good reason why the "Golden Age" of Science Fiction has been known to be Thirteen. The age when puberty sets in and rationality hasn't fully been assimilated. As for Ayn Rand? On a par with Enlightenment Fabulism. Such as, A Voyage to Magonia.
Doug Terpstra
"'Atlas Shrugged' is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should." -luminary Alan Greenspan, recipient of the 2001 Enron Prize for Distinguished Public Service
DownSouth
tz said:

Most libertarians are their core are about liberty, so any power, and the corruption that attends, needs to be broken, destroyed, scattered, opposed, or mitigated.

One thing I can say is almost universal about libertarians is they care about THE RULE OF LAW.

Most normal people are quick to recognize the logical incoherence in this pair of statements.

The first is a declaration that all government power must be eviscerated. It is the Utopian vision embraced by both right-wing libertarian and left-wing Bolshevik, the return of mankind to the state of original innocency, a state which Engels describes as one of idyllic harmony with "no soldiers, no gendarmes, no policemen, prefects or judges, no prisons, laws or lawsuits."

The second statement stands in complete contradiction to the first, for it calls for using the long arm of the government to reach out and enforce "THE RULE OF LAW."

In the mind of a normal person, these two diametrically opposed positions are not reconcilable. So how are they reconcilable in the mind of the libertarian?

One possible explanation is provided by Andrew M. Lobaczewski in Political Ponerology: A Science of the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes. For the libertarian ideology, with its intolerable internal inconsistencies in the world of normal people, makes perfect sense in the us-vs-them world of the psychopath: license (which the libertarian beguilingly labels "liberty") for us, and the long arm of the law for them. Lobaczewski explains:

Their world is forever divided into "us and them"; their little world with its own laws and customs and that other foreign world of normal people they see as full of presumptuous ideas and customs by which they are condemned morally. Their sense of honor bids them to cheat and revile that other human world and its values at every opportunity….

In the psychopath, a dream emerges like some Utopia of a "happy" world and a social system which does not reject them or force them to submit to laws and customs whose meaning is incomprehensible to them. They dream of a world in which their simple and radical way of experiencing and perceiving reality would dominate; where they would, of course, be assured safety and prosperity. In this Utopian dream, they imagine that those "others", different, but also more technically skillful than they are, should be put to work to achieve this goal for the psychopaths and others of their kin. "We", they say, "after all, will create a new government, one of justice."

So the psychopath is a two-headed monster, preaching "liberation" and "freedom" out of one side so that he can have license to rape, plunder and kill at will, and tyranny out of the other side so that he can force those "others" to do and be as he wishes.

Tao Jonesing
This is no surprise. Modern libertarianism is, in fact, the pure form of neoliberalism. It was manufactured by the likes of Hayek, Rothbard, Mises and Freidman on the corporate nickel. These architects assembled top economists, lawyers, philosophers, and social scientists (and I am sure they had psychologists on board, as well) to construct a set of new sociopathic values and institutions to push them into the world as the societal values that inform all decision making, as Gunar Myrdall observed.

Many self-identifying libertarians are the very intellectuals that Hayek despised, the type of people who would have been Marxists in another era, if only to show how smart they are, which makes them the biggest fools of all.

Clampit
"…it calls for using the long arm of the government to reach out and enforce "THE RULE OF LAW.""

I see, without government there would be no rule of law. Peachy … I am governed therefore I am. Really nice essay, but can you also adjust the valves on your car?

Iolaus
You are governed and therefore you are civilized. You hold elections to decide who you want to govern, and they govern with your consent. If you are dissatisfied, you participate in electoral politics, and work to convince people that someone else should govern. It's a terrific model, and the U.S. ought to try it sometime.
Clampit
What if I don't want to outsource political power to a single person or faction? Is there some esoteric derivation of human nature that prohibits any other structure in civilized "free" society?

I can't help but reminisce on the wisdom of Greenspin when reading all these political diatribes, and it occurs to me that our political structure, perhaps more so than any other, should be accessible to the layman intellect.

DownSouth

Clampit says: "What if I don't want to outsource political power…"?

What makes you so sure you're going to have any power "to outsource" in the every man for himself, anything goes, might makes right, survival of the strongest, survival of the fittest, kill or be killed, dog eat dog world you fantasize?

Do you really think you are a match for the power of the likes of Exxon? Goldman Sachs?

DownSouth

The founder's fear of too much power in government was checked by their great awareness of the enormous dangers of the rights and liberties of the citizen that would arise from within society. Hence, according to Madison, 'it is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers; but to guard one part of society against the injustice of the other part…" This, if nothing else, required the constitution of public, governmental power whose very essence could never be derived from something which is a mere negative, i.e., constitutional limited government…

[….]

Highly aware of their own ignorance on the subject, they turned to history, collecting with a care amounting to pedantry all examples, ancient and modern, real and fictitious, of republican constitutions; what they tried to learn in order to dispel their ignorance was by no means the safeguards of civil liberties--a subject on which they certainly knew much more than any previous republic--but the constitution of power. This was also the reason for the fascination exerted by Montesquieu, whose role in the American Revolution almost equals Rousseau's influence on the course of the French Revolution…

[….]

Montesquieu confirmed what the founders, from the experience of the colonies, knew to be right, namely, that liberty was 'a natural Power of doing or not doing whatever we have a Mind', and when we read the earliest documents of colonial times that 'deputyes thus chose shall have power and liberty to appoynt' we can still hear how natural it was for these people to use the two words as synonyms…

For Montesquieu's discovery actually concerned the nature of power… [T]he foundation of the republic in America was largely inspired by it. The discovery, contained in one sentence, spells out the forgotten principle underlying the whole structure of separated powers: that only 'power arrests power', that is, we must add, without destroying it, without putting impotence in the place of power…

[….]

How well this part of Montesquieu's teaching was understood in the days of the foundation of the republic! On the level of theory, its greatest defender was John Adams, whose entire political thought turned about the balance of powers… He wrote: 'Power must be opposed to power, force to force, strength to strength, interest to interest, as well as reason to reason, eloquence to eloquence, and passion to passion'. ▬Hannah Arendt, On Revolution

Tao Jonesing
11:44 am Most modern libertarians think they're advocating Jefferson's conception of liberty. Unfortunately, the libertarian movement is not. Rather, the movement that you see represented by places like Mises.org actually advocates the fascist negative liberty of Hayek.

That's the double truth of neoliberalism By redefining words in common usage to mean their opposite, the neoliberals don't even ave to cross their fingers when they lie because their words mean two different and opposite things, depending on who is listening.

Neoliberalism purposefully takes advantage of the confirmation bias of people like you to accomplish the opposite of what you say you want. But "most libertarians don't . . .". Whatever. It doesn't matter what most libertarians want. What matters is what they think they want.

Jack Straw
8:50 am I am surprised that no mention is made of the Green Party, which unlike the libertarians or LP hold a significant number of offices. Jesse Ventura won office "with" the Reform Party, which later re-branded itself locally the Independence Party as Pat Buchanan became more prominent in the RP nationally.

While political promises are occasionally dangerous to break, they're also almost always impossible to keep.

I've noticed that grade school kids don't seem to have class elections anymore – anywhere. While it alwayes seemed like BS when I was a kid, not having them seems worse.

bmeisen
Good point – practicing democracy gives us a chance to experience different forms of democracy. Americans seem blind to democratic options, blinded perhaps by the belief that their democracy is the only democracy.
ScottW
9:31 am "Lifting the Veil" is one of the best movies I have seen that should be mandatory viewing for every Obama supporter. I remember after Obama was elected, a mainstream pundit commented that of course he will not keep any of his promises–no President ever does. Obama may have just snookered more people with his mesmerizing sermon like speeches following on the the heels of 8 years of Bush Administration terror. Obama's attempt to capture the conservative independent voter is going to backfire as he loses millions of former supporters who will either stay home, or vote for someone else. There is no chance he will be re-elected unless unemployment falls below 8% (maybe 7.5%) and it is unlikely that will occur before November 2012.
Praedor
9:45 am The opponent field is fairly weak so I give Obama better chances of staying in.

All bets are off if Huntsman actually gets the GOPer nod (fat chance him OR the hypocrit mormon guy getting the nod) with the teabaggers ruling the roost. They are likely to go for Bachman or Palin or Mr Macaca: none with the slightest chance in hell of ever getting elected.

DownSouth
10:51 am What great choices, no?

We're given the option between shitty and shittier.

ZADOOFKA FLORIDA
And they can't have another "census" to make the unemployment numbers go down falsly for 6 months.
kievite
10:50 am I really don't understand why the statement of the fact that both parties represent business interests generates so much excitement. The possible role of Libertarians as "spoiler" party is the only interesting tidbit.

I think the idea that the central foundational principle of the capitalist nation-state is that it is a reflection of its economic constituencies (those who own and control the means of production shape the state in the form that they desire) is with us since around early 1800th. And if you ignore all this nonsense about proletarian revolution and proletariat as a new ruling class Marx's analysis of capitalism is still worth reading.

The iron law of oligarchy was discovered in 1911. Financial capitalism as a natural and inevitable stage of development of capitalism was analysed by Lenin in his famous "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism" (1916).

The real question is what are the political possibilities for countervailing forces and which of them can at least temporarily survive and prosper within the polyarchy framework without being co-opted iether by Repug or Dermocrats (this is a term from modern Russia political vocabulary "dermo" is turd in Russian) ?

Political parties are organizations composed of blocs of major investors who come together to advance favored candidates in order to control the state. They do this through direct cash contributions and by providing organizational support through the contacts, fundraisers and think tanks. Candidates are invested in like stocks. For them electoral success is dependent on establishing the broadest base of elite support. Candidates whom best internalized investor values see their political "portfolios" grow exponentially at the expense of candidates who have poor level of internalization.

So what you have is a filtering system in which only the most indoctrinated and business friendly advance to state power. Representatives of the major business groups are also often chosen to fill political appointments after a favored candidate is elected (GS is a nice example).

This is a polyarchy, a political-economic model in which the state by-and-large functions to advance elite business interests on the domestic and international fronts.

And that is what is meant in promoting "democracy abroad". Like Mark Curtis said "polyarchy is generally what British leaders mean when they speak of promoting 'democracy' abroad. This is a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation is confined to choosing leaders in elections managed by competing elites."

Cynthia
I don't see how Obama can sleep at night after he continues to pack his inner circle with key figures from the banking cartel, banksters like Bill Daley and Gene Sperling, especially after knowing that virtually all independent financial experts have said, as Barry Ritholtz points out, that the economy cannot recover until the cartel's member banks are broken up:

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/01/virtually-all-independent-financial-experts-say-that-the-size-of-the-big-banks-is-hurting-the-economy/

Only a sociopath with a heart of stone could lie for the banksters. And it sounds like Glen Ford, who co-founded the Black Agenda Report, would agree with me that Obama fits the profile of a stone-hearted sociopath:

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=6075

Doug Terpstra
Obama has now left a highly visible and smelly trail of slime and snakeskin, but such sociopaths apparently have no trouble sleeping at all.

Obama may be an especially talented case afflicted with something called "narcissistic personality disorder" (also from DownSouth, I believe) - an incurable sociopathy wherein empathy is exquisitely feigned but utterly nonexistent. As one shrink aptly put it - the snake pits of Wall Street and Washington are full of such "snakes in suits". Particularly dangerous variants are also sadists.

Hugh
Yes, it is all kabuki. Distraction is the primary weapon of class warfare, and the illusion of choice in politics is a central example of it.

Because people love sports analogies, I use the one that Democrats and Republicans are like two football teams. One year, one wins; another year, the other does. But at the end of the season, it's all football. It is not like one is pro-football and the other is anti-football.

The illusion of choice is not, however, restricted to just the two main parties. Libertarians, the Tea Party, the unions, the liberal orgs and A list blogs of the left, all claim to be legitimate alternatives to the two party system. But the Tea Party and the libertarians are largely creatures of Republican politics, and unions, the liberal orgs, and the A list "progressive" blogs are largely stand-ins for the Democratic party. Yes, all of these contain slivers of the uncoopted. There are authentic Tea Partyers, true libertarians, real progressives and liberals, but these can be and are discounted by our elites. For the most part, it comes back to the two parties, and they are just branches of the over-arching corporatist party of the kleptocrats.

A good rule of thumb is that any organization or group that supports any Democrat or any Republican has been coopted. They are not there to protest against the Man or the System, and push for real change. They are there to disperse, defuse, and redirect such protest to make sure real change never happens.

DownSouth
It's a bona fide nightmare.

The racial factor that Glen Ford (see link in Cynthia's comment above) raises I believe also plays a role. As he says, Black America is so "psychologically invested" in Obama that the president has been able to neutralize the black community, which constitutes 50% of progressive America.

So the old racial passions raise their ugly head again, destroying solidarity and any hope for an honest democratic community.

Why haven't we developed immunities to this evil?

I was watching the final episode of Adam Curtis' latest film last night All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (Ep. 3) – Full. Any hope of democracy in the former Congo was been destroyed by racial strife.

Cynthia
DownSouth,

Most blacks in the US don't see Obama as an Uncle Tom. They instead see him as a fellow African American who will give them a leg up in life. To them, having a black guy in the White House is their golden ticket to wealth and power.

But little do they understand that the US is far more divided along economic lines than it is along racial lines. So Obama being a fellow African American should be totally irrelevant to them. Once they realize that Obama's primary goal as president is to further enrich the wealthy, regardless of their skin color, they'll finally see him for what he truly is: a colorblind Uncle Tom.

alex
"To them, having a black guy in the White House is their golden ticket to wealth and power."

Evidence for that assertion?

Cynthia
Alex,

Living just a stone's throw away from the Black Belt, which can easily double as a Bible Belt, as well as being a white minority in a black majority workplace, I can vouch for the fact that many southern blacks view Obama as a Messiah for the black cause. And because many of them run neck and neck with their white counterparts when it comes to their bigotry against Muslims, if the Christian Right had been successful at convincing them that Obama was a practicing Muslim at some point in his life, believe me, there's no way in hell southern blacks would have come together to form a voting block for Obama.

Strange though it may sound, there's sizable number of Hagee-types among the southern black population, who view Arab Muslims as devils at work to wipe out the Angels of the Middle East, the Israeli Jews. I'm sure that Obama isn't blind to this and thus will go above and beyond to make sure that he doesn't inflame his faithful followers of the South into believing that he's working on behalf of the devils against Christ.

Doug Terpstra
Alex, this is a case where absence of evidence is evidence of absence. The Congressional Black Caucus has evaporated, and progressive champions like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharptongue are all but invisible. What happened to these camera-hungry publicity-hounds? And why did it take so long for Cornel West to finally come out and say Obama was a water-boy for the oligarchs?

The circumstantial evidence for the race-based neutering of the black progressives is overwhelming, and their silence is deafening! In a case of massive co-optation, the death of the liberal class among blacks was a massacre-a brilliant (so far) bloodless coup by the oligarchs.

See some discussion of this in "Smiley vs.Sharpton: A Potemkin Drama"

–"Sharpton and his crowd have devolved to meek and ridiculous access-seekers with no significant agenda to 'ballyhoo.'"

–""Black political theater was bum-rushed by the Obama phenomenon."

–""Sharpton made common cause with New York billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg's vast political/financial network."

-"The Reverend and his fellow unrepentant Obamites have been giving the president a 'pass' since he first appeared on the national scene."

http://blackagendareport.com/content/smiley-vssharpton-potemkin-drama-0

stockdude
Why is everyone so much into political "labels"?
Foppe
If you'll allow me to be slightly facetious: they are into labels because all they do do is talk. Many people seem to have an immense fascination with working together only with those people whose beliefs they can approve of. And rather than not asking, they want to know everything, only to find out that they really cannot agree with anyone, because they are all "wrong". Liberals (and to a slightly lesser degree libertarians) have this down to an art form, yet they never realize that this is exactly what is keeping them from organizing politically. Republicans, on the other hand, (and I am overgeneralizing here only to make a point) are mostly uneducated, and thus don't really have all that many (refined) beliefs to begin with. So they don't really care what others believe, so long as they agree on abortion/war/communists.
stockdude
And another thing… Lets all stop calling "the financial behemoths, the purchased politician"-–lets stop calling them the elites.

They are criminals, deceptors, actors, thugs, thieves, news generators and controllers. They understand the mass workings of human nature much as Jim Morrison did, however, in no way proper way are they "elite".

Elite is a description of honor and well honed skill.

Well then again…maybe they are the "master thieves". Regardless, lets stop using the term elite.

In the linguistic/mind ties that are part of the human condition, the use of the term elite is almost the same as conceding the battle right out of the gate.

rafael bolero
I think this film's p.o.v. is more true more often at the national, rather than the state level : the difference between a Scott Walker and a Jim Doyle is huge, despite Doyle's corporate future path now. Walker, the republican, is savagely grabbing power for his corporate masters, as we are seeing in the other red-tide states under The Inquisition. A democratic governor would not being doing what Walker is doing, or certainly not at this pace. So, nationally, yes, this is a more correct perspective, but at the state level less so. I think one possible solution is each state must become its own lab to reset representative government and the social contract those people want. Is it Vermont or New Hampshire that is setting up the single-payer health care? That's what I mean : and WI with the recalls. To what extent the Fed Govt. then moves in to block the state(s) from doing business regionally and coerce it/them to toe the corporate line will show how close we come to actual rebellions, which, if they do not remain non-violent, are doomed.
hell
To go back the the Adam Curtis documentaries from the earlier post……the electorate has been win over?/brainwashed?/surrendered to the idea that there is no other political system than the Reaganonomics model.

This country needs New Deal II. However Obama/Democratic Party won't deliver it either because they are closest Reaganistas or don't have the political spine to push New Deal II onto the political agenda.

hello
oops, meant to sign-in as "hello," not "hell." lol. apologies.
Schofield
As Mahatma Gandhi replied on his visit to Britain when asked by a reporter what he thought about British democracy, "Yes, that would be nice!"
alex
Sounds good, but I thought that's what he said when he was asked about Western Civilization.
ambrit
alex; I think, (tongue firmly in cheek,) that the former quote was elicited when Ghandi first came to England to study for the Bar at the appropriately named Temple.
Schofield
stockdude. "Looters" would be a fair description.
Anonymous Jones
It has always confused me how much people are drawn to politicians, something about human nature, I guess.

The latest Wikipedia-Sarah Palin-Paul Revere thing is instructive in this regard. The people who are rabid supporters of this clearly incompetent and ignorant woman are not able to understand that she is at heart a self-interested politician (only she's just not very good at it other than being attractive and an ignorant blank slate upon which they can project their hopes and dreams)? Why do they work so hard to be duplicitous on her behalf? I don't know.

You could basically say the same things about Obama or Nixon (well, except that they are/were intelligent to the extent one can have an objective measurement of intelligence (which, yes, is difficult)).

And libertarians. Yikes. Define "liberty." You cannot. Just like you cannot define "equal treatment" or "equal protection," which is either "treating people in different situations the same" or in some cases "treating people in different situations differently." I know, I really know, you *think* you can. You really believe you can. But you cannot. I've seen smarter people try. Trust me. These concepts are more subtle than you can possibly imagine. You could write tomes devoted to each one.

In any event, I've said it before (and I'll probably say it again), it's my experience that placing your faith in politicians is not as productive as you might hope and working locally within your own community to make life better for yourself and others is likely more productive (but that is just my opinion, I cannot prove it.)

Foppe
Define "liberty." You cannot. Just like you cannot define "equal treatment" or "equal protection," which is either "treating people in different situations the same" or in some cases "treating people in different situations differently."

So drop the philological stuff and just let people decide for themselves what they judge to be an instance of liberty, or equality. And when both sides have done this, we are in the situation to which Marx's Dictum applies: "Between equal rights, force decides." But you are correct. Life is messy. And (as the corporatists show time and time again): you don't have rights, you fight for them.

Foppe
To put it differently: many people who dislike politics have the idea that there is such a thing as the "right" definition of "equality" or "just behavior". Yes, there are some definitions that do not even work at first glance, but most definitions of what is just or equal or fair will pass this test. And at that point, epistemic considerations ("the right meaning") fall by the wayside, and it becomes a political battle over who gets the right to define the meaning of 'justice' in that country.
F. Beard
Define "liberty." You cannot. AJ

Maybe so but tyranny is pretty dang obvious. The banking and money system is an obvious example.

Praedor
I can define it for a certain crowd (libertarians and the GOP): "liberty" is a standin for "I got mine, ha-ha! Hooray for me and YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY!" It is also, "Every man for himself!".

Libertarians add 3 specifics as religious dictates: liberty equals "private property" that they can pollute, trash, despoil, wreck, stripmine, burn as they see fit no matter what the greater consequences to neighbors or the environment (as if "private property" is some law of nature and exists outside of being a mere social convention), guns, and a gold standard. Three things and only three things that they can CLEARLY define as "liberty": private property, guns, gold standard.

F. Beard
Actually, a government enforced gold standard is fascist, not libertarian.

Guns and private property are cool though I don't rule out the justice of wealth redistribution since we've had fascism in the US since 1913 at the latest.

Praedor
Here is a great layout of what is in store for the USA given the realities of our time – the dysfunctional politics, the hollowed-out economy, the social decoherence:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23242.htm

lambert strether
Shout out to Black Agenda Report. They knew Obama was a fraud before it was cool!
Susan Truxes
Lifting the Veil was painful. All my heroes were there. Some of them still alive. And things never manage to change significantly. The chips are really down now for reasons we did not even imagine in the 60s. Things like the absurdity of the banking system; global degradation and massive overpopulation; uncontrollable exploitation of resources; disregard of lessons learned the hard way, etc. So maybe the most encouraging thing about Lifting the Veil is that they haven't won anything either. Both sides are still where they were 45 years ago. And the guy I miss the most is George Carlin.
John Bennett
As I watched this video, I asked myself how we got here from our ideal of the US. Then I came across this BBC series called The Century of the Self. It concerns the influence of Freud on history, political science, politics. and economics and ultimately on public policy. It is a four part series, each part is about 55 minutes long. The websites are all over the map. If you don't have time for all of it, at least do the first and last.

Enjoy if you can and then ponder.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-678466363224520614#docid=-3986506414855430309

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-678466363224520614#docid=-6203861489953762931

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-678466363224520614#docid=-6111922724894802811

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqeMYjbNkaE

Philip Pilkington
I must say, I've never stopped loving Ames. He calls a spade a spade.

The US is probably the only country in the world that has 'discovered' the liberty of libertarianism.

That either means it's highly advanced culturally - or it's sinking into a quagmire and justifying its own demise through absurd rationalisations that most of the world scoff at.

I'm not saying anything… I'm just saying…

F. Beard
There's nothing libertarian about our banking and money system.
Philip Pilkington
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideology
F. Beard
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism
Philip Pilkington
Alright, for once - I'm not even sure why - I'm going be a little less allusive than usual.

America is in a ditch. This is reflected in the minds of its people. They are confused about how to run the country. They think legitimate rule is equal to fascism and think that government is equal to tyranny.

They think that money is worthless and meaningless. They think that social institutions are lying to them.

In short: they are nihilists.

These are the ideologies of a failed power. And the citizens that partake are the discontents that reflect this. It's a tragedy and I wish it weren't so - because I like many American ideals.

But this is where we live.

F. Beard

Phil,

You guys have had 317 years to get central banking right and now you've plunged US into Great Depression II but you STILL think you have all the answers?

"Forever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth" comes to mind.

When will you give up on a money system that is based on theft, particularly from the poor?

Philip Pilkington

Never… of course…

Because you people keep chasing perfection, while others just try and keep the whole circus running.

Don't you get it? You're either a saint or a clown… and if you're a saint then you're irrelevant.

Be the best clown you can be and shut the fuck with your nonsense… Think FDR… not Lenin…

skippy

LMAO…I would like to put PP, Berady and DownSouth in a *Ranger Bear Pit* see:

http://www.pipesmokerforum.com/forum/showthread.php?652-What-s-A-Bear-Pit

Not to see whom won but, to see which two would form a team, to defeat the stand alone.

Skippy…in the tooth and claw days in was a pit, with mud and water in the bottom. Object was last man standing.

PS. Gnawing on the head is a no no, one way ticket to the psych ward for observation. Old chum did the no no, funny how under duress certain unobserved traits pop out….eh.

F. Beard

Because you people keep chasing perfection, while others just try and keep the whole circus running. PP

Few are laughing any more. Plus, reform would not require perfection. It would only require that money creation be ethical.

Be the best clown you can be and shut the fuck with your nonsense… Think FDR… not Lenin… PP

Both believed in central banking so no thanks.

Philip Pilkington

"Few are laughing any more. Plus, reform would not require perfection. It would only require that money creation be ethical."

…or it might require you to get off your ass. But I have a stark feeling that you prefer complaining.

Armchair nonsense.

The fact is that things are only going to change when you get OFF YOUR ASS and get out into the real world. When you join political groups - not to discuss gold-standard or whatever - but to engage in trying to change the political process.

Many Americans have forgotten this - and so they spend their time moaning on the internet. This will be your destruction - trust me.

F. Beard

But I have a stark feeling that you prefer complaining. PP

No, I prefer coming up with a solution and I pretty much have. If no one is interested, that's really not my problem. Seeds are sown but sometimes the soil isn't receptive.

alex

Philip Pilkington: "They think legitimate rule is equal to fascism and think that government is equal to tyranny."

Which subset is "they" and about which _specific_ issues do "they" think legitimate government is tyranny? Are you talking about finance? Do you have, for example, poll results indicating that the majority of Americans oppose financial regulation, are in favor of TBTF bailouts, or oppose prosecution for financial crimes?

Or are you reacting to editorials and (warning: confirmation bias trap) listening to the opinions of a few posters on the Internet?

"They think that money is worthless and meaningless."

Stand on the street and see how many Franklins you can hand out. Remember, don't coerce anyone into taking them! Perhaps you're confusing a grand notion of "worthless and meaningless" with a simple concern about inflation.

"In short: they are nihilists."

No, they're disgusted and pessimistic.

Paul Tioxon

Depending on how disillusioned you already are or prepared to become as a committed, politically aware and active individual, THE VEIL, starts to get at the structure of the modern liberal state. We are all managed, we are planned for, it is just hard for people to accept how unconscious they are. But at the same time, trying to get at the truth, the solution, the movement for a more democratic society, more democratic than what? It is clear that the banking crisis has lead to a questioning of the people who have the power to safeguard our social order in the most fundamental way and revealed the structure of power as it is, not as compared to what is real, which is a synonym for too many people for some ideal, some set of notions that only exist by virtue of language, and only in their minds. The banking crisis is as big a cultural change event as the JFK assassination was for many people. The lies were so thick you could could cut them with a knife and today is no different. But what is revealed in addition to all of the bad loans, the cheating investment bankers, the short sellers, the hedge funds is the naked power of the people who this entire economy serves better than the millions unemployed, the millions foreclosed upon and millions without health care. It serves them better than the people who retained their jobs and their homes intact. It serves them better than the city of Detroit that used to be a city of 2 million people and is falling to 700,000 and is entire city blown up into ruble, not just one big city square at NYCs ground zero. And Detroit, bombed back into the stone age looks worse than NYC, because their has been no sanctimonious rebuilding, no legends of the heroes, no how could this have happened to Americans in American and how do we prevent it from ever happening again.

Detroit almost had its brains blown out with point blank bullets to the head, but for the industrial bailout fought for by Obama. It is no accident that Detroit has been systematically defenestrated by corporate management and the rest of big business trying to kill the biggest and most powerful industrial union, based on auto industry workers and rippling out through its supply chains into the steel industry and the coal industry, all heavily unionized. Obama saved that union, its jobs, its health care fund, its pensions, at the cost of shareholders and bondholders. I still have not seen an adequate answer to these facts. There is a difference, and that is a big enough of a difference for me. The fact that so much corruption is part and parcel of American business is not news to the people who work on assembly lines, coal mines and steel mills. People die in industrial accidents in these lines of work every day, have been beaten, shot and seen their union leaders assassinated and disappeared in the struggle to unionize. Jimmy Hoffa, is a punch line of jokes that you would never hear about Martin L King or Robert Kennedy, but a union leader, is the shithead under the goal post at Giant Stadium. No holy marble monument for him. The people who the establishment are most worried about are NOT the people who actually have the guts to rise up and tear this country to piece when they finally have had enough torture and eating the shit shoveled out as the American Dream. The problem, for the liberal state is to not have a enough ameliorating social welfare reforms, including widespread healthcare, public education, higher education, good housing and a dignified old age without a broken down body and an adequate pension. If there are a 10000 billionaires, IF I still have a good LIVING, I really don't give a shit how much more money banksters make MORE than the pure and holy naked capitalism crowd.

The fact of the matter is, my living IS diminished along with my humanity by the actual policies that have been set in motions by the people who are in the process of setting a police state to contain the political upheaval heading our way, that they know for a fact is heading our way, because they are doing everything in their power to instigate a class conflict explosion. Attacking unions is part of a strategy, as is strangling the middle class. But that CAN turn around by policy changes, that are clear signals of a better alternative to shooting us down in the streets like they did at Kent State, Jackson STate and all across the country when we took to the streets. All of the social sciences are measures of society to make sure there is not a bloody revolution. Yes, to coopt to us so we do not kill one another. The number of bombings in the USA during the height of the SDS, was 3 a day. IEDs going off all over America, and in Europe. And since I am not a Rockefeller or an Emir or Sultan, I don't want a bloody insurrection, but the republicans on the other hand. Just listen to the 2nd Amendment final solution they regularly mouth. I would rather live through a political struggle than take my chances against the state and the reactionary armed NRA in a bloody conflict that would not change things much more than the French Revolution permanently improved the lot of workers. So yea, Obama is a brand, that is how you communicate to 310,000,000 people in a modern 21st century nation state. Surprise surprise. We are coopted instead of being beaten and shot. Well good, pick a side and push to take control of the state bureaucracy for the sake of green jobs, electric cars, solar panels, organic farming, credit unions, please, co opt all of these ideas asap. I can't wait to sell out.

Sy Krass
Paul Tioxon, it's that kind of attitude that will gurantee blody anarchy. :(
Septeus7

An am Interesting discussion so I decided to put in my two cents.

I think we are lacking a vision of what American civilization is about and what we want to do with our civilization. The lack of vision for a future results in two kinds of confusion resulting in two kinds of reactionary factions.

The above mention synthetic third party movement aka the "Tea Party/Libertarian" uses the rhetoric of freedom and liberty but being rooted in philosophical Neoliberalism they can only define those ideas in terms of freedom and liberty for property owners and therefore representative government must act to defend the "freedom and liberty" proportional to the distribution of property. However, since the rules governing the acquisition of property i.e. markets (primarily though the state supported FIRE sector as F. Beard is always pointing out) are rigged institutionally toward the concentration of wealth thus increasing "freedom and liberty" will only result in true liberty and freedom being eroded for those lacking oligarchical privilege.

On the other hand, seeing the failure of traditional paths of resisting the loss of political power because of self appointed institutional sellout "Liberals" and "Progressives" a few folks around here have began to look more deeply into the fact the all the institutional "Liberal Progressives" have in fact historically functioned as Mark Ames says " Big Co-apters."

After such disillusionment, I believe the reaction by many here at Naked Capitalism appeals to Anarchism, Malthusian doomerism and rejection of the very idea of "progress" and the hierarchies that the division of labor will make necessary.

The result is that it seems that the "Left" or democratic/republican/populist forces of all stripes are tempted into nihilism; saying that liberty, freedom, progress, and even the development of civilization itself are meaningless and cannot be defined and even if they could be, there would be no reason to believe in those things.

I don't think this kind thinking represents the best we can do nor is it a positive development for society. Rather, it is something that Adam Curtis has ripped off the mask of it's pretenses of Nietzschian superhuman ascension above the "Good and Evil" of civil society or Rousseauian romantics trying to liberate man from the "evil" constraints necessarily imposed by civil society and restoring him to the "balance of nature."

In the following film and interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjEsk2lBj8c http://www.littleatoms.com/adamcurtis.htm) Adam Curtis has I think demonstrated that such ideas rather than being scientific and politically neutral represent retreat from the culture and society. And can, in fact, be tools of oligarchs in much the same way that far right Libertarianism functions to capture populist outrage and neutralize threats to the Oligarchy.

The antihierachical movements, just like the hippy communes, have no chance of being the basis of reorganizing society and in truth represent nothing but cowardice. It is irresponsibly turning away from what is really required to have true republican government. What is required is the willingness to exercise pure, brutal, unrelenting political power.

The truth is that only way to change the system is to become the system for ourselves just as the Oligarchy has been more than willing to exercise the power of brute politics to become our current system through parallel organizations of government and bureaucracy. We democratic republicans must do the same.

Rather than something to be feared power must be embraced for what it really is…self government.

We must set up our own and superior form of government and assert it's authority over existing institutions and impose those truly republican institutions into the current structures and when we meet resistance we must declare all resistance illegitimate and an invalid usurpation of the rights of a sovereign people. We are the People…so "there is no alternative."

I have a very clear vision of exactly we in this country need to institute in order to create a more perfect union. If folks are interested, I will write another post for what I call "Republic 2.0″ because we need a reboot.

[Mar 13, 2011] The Free-Banking vs. Central-Banking Debate

Economist's View

bakho said...

Americans live in a society surrounded and supported by public works. Libertarians deny the fundamental utility of any of the public infrastructure. After a lot of hand waving, they say that the private sector could produce better infrastructure. But it never does the big thing without government subsidy. So we get subsidized "privatization" that privatizes the profits and socializes the risks. Libertarianism is a utopian idea, but dystopian in practice.

Sarah:

That's the problem with Utopianism in general. It has ALWAYS produced dystopia when put into practice. Fascism, Communism- anything promising an ideal future. I certainly hope that this lot of neo-utopians aren't given a shot at trying out their system on us, but I think we have to accept that as things get worse a fantasy future with Galtian super-heroes riding off into the sunset on their pink unicorns is going to seem more and more attractive to many.

cm

Well, one can make the case, and specific historical instances seem to evidence this, that the totalitarians "producing" the dystopia were not well-intentioned and were just running with the utopia to gain a following, or at least the initial good intentions fell by the wayside when the corruption of power set in.

Of course, a fundamental problem is to avoid the cynicism of "realpolitik" that seems to be required in actual reality.

cm

I'm not sure the purveyors of this "utopia" really believe this. When the term "private sector" appears anywhere in it, it is BS and not a utopia. There are libertarian schools of thought that believe in spontaneous self-organization of private cooperation creating public infrastructure coop-style without top down governance. But the concept of a private *sector* is antithetical to that.

The Libertarian Delusion

This article appears as part of a special report, "What the Free Market Can't Do," in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here.

The stubborn appeal of the libertarian idea persists, despite mountains of evidence that the free market is neither efficient, nor fair, nor free from periodic catastrophe. In an Adam Smith world, the interplay of supply and demand yields a price that signals producers what to make and investors where to put their capital. The more that government interferes with this sublime discipline, the more bureaucrats deflect the market from its true path.

But in the world where we actually live, markets do not produce the "right" price. There are many small examples of this failure, but also three immense ones that should have discredited the libertarian premise by now. Global climate change is the most momentous. The price of carbon-based energy is "correct"-it reflects what consumers will pay and what producers can supply-if you leave out the fact that carbon is destroying a livable planet. Markets are not competent to price this problem. Only governments can do that. In formal economics, this anomaly is described by the bloodless word "externality"-meaning costs (or benefits) external to the immediate transaction. Libertarian economists treat externalities as minor exceptions.

The other great catastrophe of our time is the financial collapse. Supposedly self-regulating markets could not discern that the securities created by financial engineers were toxic. Markets were not competent to adjust prices accordingly. The details of the bonds were opaque; they were designed to enrich middlemen; the securities were subject to investor herd-instincts; and their prices were prone to crash once a wave of panic-selling hit. Only government could provide regulations against fraudulent or deceptive financial products, as it did to good effect until the regulatory process became corrupted beginning in the 1970s. Deregulation arguably created small efficiencies by steering capital to suitable uses-but any such gains were obliterated many times over by the more than $10 trillion of GDP lost in the 2008 crash.

A third grotesque case of market failure is the income distribution. In the period between about 1935 and 1980, America became steadily more equal. This just happened to be the period of our most sustained economic growth. In that era, more than two-thirds of all the income gains were captured by the bottom 90 percent, and the bottom half actually gained income at a slightly higher rate than the top half. By contrast, in the period between 1997 and 2012, the top 10 percent captured more than 100 percent of all the income gains. The bottom 90 percent lost an average of nearly $3,000 per household. The reason for this drastic disjuncture is that in the earlier period, public policy anchored in a solid popular politics kept the market in check. Strong labor institutions made sure working families captured their share of productivity gains. Regulations limited monopolies. Government played a far more direct role in the economy via public investment, which in turn stimulated innovation. The financial part of the economy was well controlled. All of this meant more income for the middle and the bottom and less rapacity at the top.

Clearly, a more equal economy performed better than a more unequal one. Families with decent incomes could recycle that purchasing power back into the economy. Well-regulated financial institutions could do their job of supplying investment capital to the real economy rather than enriching their own executives with speculative schemes-ones that left the rest of the society to take the loss when the wise guys were long gone. In the case of labor, there was not a single, "accurate," market-determined wage for each job, but a wide range of possible wages and social bargains that would attract competent workers and steadily increase the economy's productivity.

The free market doesn't live up to its billing because of several contradictions between what libertarians contend and the way the real world actually works.

The free market doesn't live up to its billing because of several contradictions between what libertarians contend and the way the real world actually works. Fundamentally, the free-market model assumes away inconvenient facts. Libertarians presume no disparities of information between buyer and seller, no serious externalities, no public goods that markets can't properly price (Joan Fitzgerald's piece in our special report in the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine discusses one-water), and above all no disparities of power. But in today's substantially deregulated economy, bankers have far more knowledge and power than bank customers (witness the subprime deception); corporations have far more power than employees; insurers have more power than citizens seeking health insurance. Labor markets can't compensate for disparities of power. The health insurance "markets" created by the Affordable Care Act can't fully address the deeper problem of misplaced resources and excessive costs in our medical system.

The conditions of the idealized market model do describe ordinary retail markets, where there are plenty of restaurants, supermarkets, dry cleaners, and hardware stores, and consumers are competent to shop around for price and quality. They don't accurately characterize the markets in health, education, labor, finance, or technological innovation, to name just five. (What is efficient about a hedge -und mogul taking home $2 billion, or a life-saving pill that retails for $5,000 a dose?)

To produce an economy that is more equitable as well as more efficient, government uses a variety of tools. It regulates to counteract market failure. It taxes to provide revenues to pay for public goods that markets under-provide at affordable prices-everything from education to health to research and development. Sometimes government passes laws to sustain other elements of a social contract, such as the laws protecting workers' rights to form unions and to collectively bargain.

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Government can invent things that markets never would have imagined. Apple has created wonders, but it has piggybacked on government investment in advanced semiconductors and the Internet. America's biotech industry's success was reliant on massive government investment in the Human Genome Project and other basic research. Later in the special report in the magazine's Winter issue, Fred Block's piece describes the indispensable government role in innovation. Commercial broadcasters were disinvesting in radio as a serious medium of news, public affairs, culture, and humor, when along came public radio, partly underwritten by government and partly by listener-subscribers. NPR demonstrated that ingenious and high-quality noncommercial programming could attract an audience that for-profit companies did not know was there.

There is another, more fundamental point ignored by libertarians: The market itself is a creature of government.

There is another, more fundamental point ignored by libertarians: The market itself is a creature of government. As Karl Polanyi famously wrote in a seeming oxymoron, "laissez-faire was planned." Markets could not exist without states defining the terms of property ownership and commerce, creating money, enforcing contracts, protecting patents and trademarks, and providing basic public institutions. A Robinson Crusoe world never existed. So the real issue is not whether government "intrudes" on the market-the capitalist system is impossible without government. The practical question is whose interests the state serves.

So the core libertarian claim that markets are efficient stands demolished by historical evidence. However, libertarians make a second claim: Free markets are the sublime expression of human liberty. This second contention gives libertarian ideology much of its persuasive power. In the resurrection of free-market theory after its first burial in the wake of the Great Depression, a remnant of libertarian economists led by Friedrich Hayek engaged in a technical duel with John Maynard Keynes about whether markets were self-correcting after all. Hayek won few converts. But in the 1940s, Hayek hit pay dirt with his argument that markets epitomized freedom. This claim was taken a step further by Milton Friedman a generation later.

In the idealized libertarian world, individuals are "free to choose"-never mind that some are born with far more resources with which to choose than others. In the Hayek-Friedman world, government, except for its minimal role of keeping the peace and protecting property values, is the enemy of freedom. Hayek went so far as to write a book in 1944, The Road to Serfdom, contending that democratic forms of planning were destined to lead down the same road to totalitarianism that ended with Stalin and Hitler. Hayek remained a revered figure to libertarians-he even won a Nobel Prize-despite the fact that there is not a single case where democratic planning led to dictatorship, but countless instances where market turbulence led displaced citizens to turn to anti-democratic strongmen. Adding insult to injury, the Hayek-Friedman remedy for when markets don't work is: We need even more market. We saw how well that worked in the financial collapse.

Beyond assuming away inherited disparities, the Hayek-Friedman equation of markets and freedom leaves out the role of government in promoting affirmative liberties. A young person from a poor family who does not need to incur crippling debt to attend university is a freer person. A low-income mother who cannot afford to pay the doctor attains a new degree of freedom when she and her children are covered by Medicaid. A worker who might be compelled to choose between his job and his physical safety becomes freer if government health and safety regulations are enforced. The employee of a big-box store who can take paid family leave when a child gets sick is freer than one whose entire life is at the whim of the boss; likewise a worker with a union contract that provides protection from arbitrary dismissal or theft of wages. An elderly person saved from destitution by a government-organized Social Security pension has a lot more liberty than one bagging groceries at age 80 to make ends meet, or one choosing between supper and filling a prescription. An aspiring homeowner who doesn't need to spend countless hours making sure that the mortgage won't explode is freer to spend leisure time on other activities if government is certifying which financial products are sound and is prohibiting other kinds.

Clearly, there will never be enough charity, benign employer paternalism, or self-correction on the part of markets to solve these problems.

I could go on, but you get the idea. These are not arcane examples, written in the algebraic idiom of formal economics. They are common-sense experiences familiar to us all-and fruits of government spending or regulation. Clearly, there will never be enough charity, benign employer paternalism, or self-correction on the part of markets to solve these problems. Lately, as markets have gained ground at the expense of social counterweights, more of us find ourselves at the mercy of market forces, as played by bosses, insurers, and financial engineers.

New Research in Economics Self-interest vs. Greed and the Limitations of the Invisible Hand

Economist's View

Second Best said...

The problem with the term itself, 'greed', is its broad, casual application to so many situations as a lame excuse to explain the root cause of some undesired economic or cultural result.

The proper use of 'greed' applies when its only constraint is independent of market, government, institutional and other sources of discipline, when those who could act on it refrain, even though they could act with no consequence.

Once 'greed' itself becomes the target objective to overcome in regard to whatever evil mankind can conjure up to do in his fellow humans, the framework for achieving moral ends through economic means is fatally flawed.

It displaces market discipline through effective competition with that of 'free individual agents' who are expected to abide by the creed of other disciplines like religion, personal values and more limited means of protecting property rights through narrow legal recourse rather than broader economic solutions.

In turn, the result justifies the undermining of whatever competitive market discipline or regulation in the absence of competition that would have been employed to control greed as a side effect, instead cutting the actors loose to self regulate themselves on the basis of their 'good character and intent' as they set about building empires designed to economically suppress their fellow humans into oblivion.

This is why for example, Obama and Dubya are so much alike when it comes to conquering 'greed', because the political appeal of the term in the negative is so powerful it can be used from the 'right' to justify huge tax cuts for the rich during an unnecessary war, or from the 'left' to protect an economically exploitive oligarchy claimed necessary to provide equal opportunity for growth and development to all.

Noah Smith once explained it another way. The reason certain so called 'libertarians' want to eradicate critical powers of government (and in effect, competitive market discipline as well) is so they can roam about unfettered as economic and cultural bullies who presumably control greed entirely through self restraint as they pursue self declared 'freedoms' released from self declared 'tyranny'. Now that's greed straight up, no water or ice.

Because 'greed' is free of identity politics it is abused equally from all sides, at all levels of income and wealth. It should be removed from the economic lexicon to reveal the damage done through its condescending and careless application, as if greed cannot be controlled through none other than individual restraint based on self interest alone.

Philip Pilkington: Libertarianism and the Leap of Faith – The Origins of a Political Cult

By Philip Pilkington, a journalist and writer living in Dublin, Ireland

You wanted God's ideas about what was best for you to coincide with your ideas, but you also wanted him to be the almighty Creator of heaven and earth so that he could properly fulfil your wish. And yet, if he were to share your ideas, he would cease to be the almighty Father.

Søren Kierkegaard

Political cults often have the strangest and most obscure origins. Take Marxism, for example. Today it is well-known that Marxist doctrine essentially sprang out of the obscure 19th century economic debates over the source of 'value'. By 'proving' – that is, lifting the assumption from classical political economy – that all 'value' came from labour, Karl Marx went on to show that it was therefore only logical to assume the existence of something called 'surplus value' that was sucked out of labourers by a parasitic capitalist class. From out of this obscure debate flowed an awesome political movement – and a tyranny to match.

What is less well-known is that today's most popular political cult – that is, libertarianism – was born in very similar circumstances; it too, arrived into the world out of the obscure 19th century debates over economic 'value'. But before we explore this in any detail it might be appropriate to speculate a little on what characterises a political cult and why so many of these find their sustenance in economic theories of value.

What is a Political Cult and Why Do they Often Love Economic Value Theory?

A political cult is characterised by a political or economic doctrine that answers all the 'big questions' about life, the world and everything else. The doctrine that is handed down is then to be conceived of as a way to live one's life – a project, handed down from Mount Sinai, that one is under the moral obligation to spread far and wide. This is why we refer to these movements as cults. And it is this that gives them such an awesome status in the glazed eyes of their devotees.

Under such circumstances, politics becomes a sort of religious calling. In these doctrines there is usually an 'Evil Being' who is opposing the spread of the 'Good' on earth and it is these that are to blame for all the bad things in the world. In Marxism this Evil Being is the capitalist; in libertarianism it is the figure who is at different times referred to as the 'collectivist', the 'liberal' or the 'socialist'. Needless to say that, since these figures are usually ones of Extreme Evil they must be 'liquidated' or 'eliminated' at the first possible opportunity lest they spread their Demonic Gospel to the masses.

Political cults thus provide their devotees with a firm identity in an otherwise changeable and, let us be frank, confusing world. Like all cults they provide an anchor for their devotees with which they can fasten themselves to a rigid doctrine. They also typically lend their devotees a Holier-Than-Thou attitude as they provide them with 'secrets' that those outside of the cult cannot grasp. Not only does this allow the devotees to feel 'special', in modern political cults it also gives them practical, albeit 'secret' advice about what they should do in their day-to-day lives. (Think of the advice to buy gold or foreign stocks coming out of certain libertarian front men, for example).

Finally, the political cult will usually offer their followers the possibility of a Heaven on Earth. If the follower behaves well and spreads their beliefs to others they will eventually arrive at some sort of Utopia. This is their reward for believing in the doctrines, despite these doctrines being ridiculed by others.

So, why do these cults spring out of economic doctrines based on value? Well, this is a very complex question but there is one key aspect that is absolutely fundamental. In order to understand it a little better we must think for a moment about what economic 'value' supposedly is. It is, in fact, when we boil it right down, a moral entity. If we can tell what people 'value' and why, then we can make prognostications on what is Good for society as a whole.

In times past organised religions handed down fixed value systems to their adherents. Today people have become disillusioned with religious systems – ostensibly because they conflict with these peoples' supposedly 'scientific' worldview. But the impulse among some for the self-assurance provided by a religion is so strong that they seek out 'scientific' systems that operate in an identical manner to religious or cult systems.

This is why the economic doctrine of 'value' is such a good foundational stone for such a cult. It provides a pseudo-scientific account about how people attribute value to things and in doing so tells the cult member a 'Truth' that they can use to make turn the world into a Utopia in which the optimal amount of 'value' is realised by the optimal amount of people.

Karl Marx claimed that 'value' was embodied labour and hence his followers concluded with him that all that was Good sprang from labour and that society should thus be based on free labour. The libertarians – together with the neoclassicals that they otherwise scorn – believe that all 'value' springs from utility maximisation. While the neoclassicals simply tinker with toy-models of 'value' to bolster their pseudo-scientific prestige, the libertarians undertake a leap of faith into the unknown and claim that in the theory of marginal utility they have found a 'Truth' that must be brought down from Heaven to Earth.

The Birthing of a Cult

Libertarianism was born out of the late 19th century doctrine of marginalism; a doctrine that went on to gain popularity with those opposed to Marxism. We will not dwell too much on the doctrine of marginalism when applied to the analysis of 'value' – having done so elsewhere. Here we will merely note that marginalism provides a moral defence for the supposedly 'free market' system that we live under today.

Marginalism, when applied to 'value' analysis, holds that it is in Man's nature to follow a certain path in his consumption habits. These habits are determined by his maximising his utility. Most modern marginalists claim that they can use this concept to show that a 'free market' system is the fairest social system possible, since it responds automatically to Man's marginal utility preference it delivers 'value' in a perfect and harmonious manner.

Markets deliver this 'value' through the mechanism of price. Prices, which reflect peoples' desires to maximise their marginal utility, ensure that the most equitable distribution of 'value-in-the-abstract' is accommodated for by the 'free market system'. And this is the point at which marginal value analysis becomes a value judgment in a very real sense.

The neoclassicals held, and continue to hold, that their models could capture this complex dynamic. Such an assertion was and is, of course, absolute rubbish. But the Austrians took a different tack. "Yes," they said, "marginal utility theory is the correct way to go, but we cannot formulate models that adequately capture the inner workings of this great mechanism."

In their book Modern Political Economics: Making Sense of the Post-2008 World, the authors provide a good summary of this approach. In the book they discuss what effect the discovery of marginalism's inherent uselessness had on the Austrians:

Faced with the impossibility of mathematically deriving prices and quantities on the one hand and a metric of social welfare on the other, some Marginalists understood the limitations of their utility calculus. Mainly of an Austrian persuasion (most notably Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek and Joseph Schumpeter), they even gallantly tried to use this failure to the advantage of their claims on behalf of untrammelled markets and against the encroachments of collective agencies, trade unions, governments etc.

This was a clever move. While the neoclassicals tinkered with their silly toy-models, trying to show how prices are determined through a sort of grand marginal calculus, the Austrians shrugged their shoulders as to how such a Divine Event could occur. Instead they began to think of price as a sort of Miracle that proved the divinity of the Market mechanism. They then went on deploy this argument to show that anything that encroached upon this Divine Being's presence was inherently Evil:

If no degree of mathematical sophistication can pin down the 'right' prices and quantities, how can a government or any other form of collective agency work them out? How could a socialist economy, or even a national health service, ever price things? Thus, the market mechanism is indispensible because of the radical indeterminacy of prices.

Note what is happening here. The Austrians, like their marginalist brothers and sisters, thought that in marginal utility theory they had found the source from which 'value' truly flowed. They never for one moment questioned that. Even when they came to conclude that marginalist analysis could never definitively show anything useful about price determination, they remained confident – indeed, they became even more confident – that such an analysis was Truth.

In short, they postulated a theory and then when confronted with the inconsistencies of the theory when it was applied to any practical ventures they simply threw up their arms and claimed that such inconsistency showed just how true theory was and how much we should respect it. The knowledge that the theory imparted then became, in a very real sense, Divine, in that we meagre humans would never be able to grasp it and instead should simply bow down in front of the Great Being that possessed this knowledge – that is: the Market.

This is what gives the libertarians their religious zeal. In their quest for the Grand Truth they find this Truth to be inaccessible to Man. But in this inaccessibility they find a Higher Truth again; namely, that there is some other entity out there – a benevolent entity called 'the Market' – that possesses this Truth and all we have to do is follow the Laws which it has handed down to us and we will eventually reach Utopia. This is, of course, a leap of faith – a truly Kierkegaardian Leap of Faith.

From the Leap of Faith to the Knight of Faith

The Austrians were never quite content with the chicanery and political posturing that they had passed off as scientific debate. As alluded to above, their theories about market prices were forged in the debates with those who advocated a socilialistic planned economy. Being ideological to the core, the Austrians were, for a while at least, perfectly content with saying that while no economist could say anything worthwhile about price determination – and thus, any attempt at a socialist planned economy would be doomed to fail because there could be no perfectly informed coven of evil socialist economists who could administer it – they were still happy with the airy theory of market prices that they had just poked such a large hole in. Yes, they had undertaken a Leap of Faith by admitting that their logical constructions would never be whole but, as Kierkegaard well knew, every Leap of Faith needs a hero, a Knight of Faith – and the Austrians soon found theirs.

The Austrians had, although one suspects that they never fully realised this, essentially proved that their theories were inconsistent. There was always, lurking somewhere, that element that disturbed the calculation of prices in the market models.

Let us emphasise here that this element of disturbance was found, not in reality, but only in their models and in their minds. The fact is that the Austrians, even in out-stepping their neoclassical brethren, were still only exploring their own fantasies. This fact must always be kept in the front of one's mind when considering their doctrines.

We highlight this because it was precisely at this point that the Austrians could have conceded that they were building castles in the sky – ideologically and emotionally motivated castles in the sky, no less – and that it might be time to grow up and give up on the whole sordid venture of trying to establish a 'logical' 'economic' basis for 'value' that would temper them with the moral certainty they needed to carry on their political crusade. But not so. Instead they found a Kierkegaardian Knight of Faith to fill the gap in their logic. And that Knight of Faith was the entrepreneur.

The Austrian economist Israel Kirzner put it as such in his fine paper 'The Economic Calculation Debate: Lessons for Austrians' (which is also an excellent historical overview of much of what we have here been discussing):

[T]he truth is that Hayek opened the door to an entirely new perspective on the "goodness" of economic policies and institutional arrangements. Instead of judging policies or institutional arrangements in terms of the resource-allocation pattern they are expected to produce (in comparison with the hypothetically optimal allocation pattern), we can now understand the possibility of judging them in terms of their ability to promote discovery.

And this 'discovery', of course, comes from the entrepreneur who was hereafter identified by the libertarian as the social hero who broke through all barriers in the pursuit of the creation of new 'values' – and by that, we mean economic 'values' – for the community as a whole. Kizner again:

For Austrians, prices emerge in an open-ended context in which entrepreneurs must grapple with true Knightian uncertainty. This context generates precisely the kind of choice that stimulates the competitive discovery process. In this context, the entrepreneur does not treat prices as parameters out of his control but, on the contrary, represents the very causal force that moves prices in coordinating directions.

In Kierkegaard's writings which, like the writings of the Austrians sought to establish a theological metaphysic from which an individual could derive principles of moral certitude, it was the Knight of Faith – the true believer with complete faith and certainty in both himself and God – that filled in the logical gaps inherent in even the greatest philosophical systems. For the Austrians the entrepreneur filled the same role – except that this was a great hero that had both full faith in the Market and the ability to find opportunities to inject disequilibrium into the price system through innovation.

By now we are far outside the realm of anything even remotely resembling a science of 'value'. What we have instead is a vast metaphysical and moral system that is built around a very specific – not to mention very narrow – conception of value, together with a sort of existential appendage in the form of the hero-entrepreneur. The hero veneers over the logical flaws in the metaphysical system, while that system remains in place as a faith-based explanatory schema which can be applied to the world around the libertarian.

Note how fantasy blends into reality almost completely at this point. No longer do we separate our supposedly 'factual' ideas about 'value' from the mythological figure of the entrepreneur. Fact and fantasy merge to form a sort of continuum the purpose of which is to insulate the devotee from any empirical evidence that might arise to prove them wrong – or, at least, misled – regarding, for example, more fundamental and more pressing macroeconomic questions. They simply know what is what because they have it all worked out – and no silly facts are going to tell them otherwise.

From the fertile source of marginal utility value calculus the Austrians thus constructed a pristine moral and metaphysical system. But in doing so – like all metaphysicians – they allowed their imaginations to run away with them. They never noticed the point at which they crossed that fateful line; that line that separates our attempts to represent the world accurately and dispassionately to ourselves from our attempts to create a fantasy world in which we can live. The Austrians had, at first, attempted to use their imaginations to explain the world around them and, in doing so, had fallen into a dream world of their own creation.

And so the foundations of the political cult we call libertarianism were firmly in place. It is an ingenious creation which even came to include what CG Jung and other mythologists might call a central 'archetypal' or mythic figure. Even more specifically, what the Austrians have done is insert into their narrative what the great American mythologist Joseph Campbell called the 'monomyth'. The monomyth is a recurrent theme in mythologies from all over the world. It is essentially a 'hero myth' and, as Campbell argues, can be located in most major religious narratives (Christ, Buddha etc.). In this the Austrians provided the libertarian religion with their very own version of the monomyth.

That most libertarians are ignorant of the source of their beliefs – just as most of them are not very conversant with economic theory generally, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding – only adds a sociological dimension to their cult. Their cult forms a hierarchy where those who are closer to the Grand Truth are supposed to know more than those who are less conversant. Those who are less conversant then scrutinise the Great Texts – which are largely taken to be Holy Writ – until they can advance up the priestly ranks.

The Malign Consequences of Political Cults

After experiencing what used to be called 'Bolshevism' we are well aware of the dangers of political cults if they should ever ascend to power. Indeed, we already had forewarnings of this danger in the cult of Reason that Robespierre erected in revolutionary France upon the intellectual architecture that Jean-Jacques Rousseau had constructed for him. All of these cults espouse liberty and freedom and end up creating regimes of pure tyranny. Why? Because in their violent desire to turn reality into a Utopia, they stamp all over reality as it fails to conform to the images in their minds.

Some have objected to fellow Naked Capitalism writer Andrew Dittmer's 'interview' series as an attempt to misrepresent the libertarian movement by espousing the ideas of an extremist. This is unfair. The views of people like Hoppe may be fringe among libertarians – then again, they may not be – but the zealousness is the same across the whole movement.

Libertarians think that they have unearthed a Truth that no one else can grasp (because, of course, this Truth being so pure, anyone who could possibly grasp it must then by default recognise it as Truth). And they think that if they can get adequate social and political power to enforce this Truth we will all be better off for it. Hoppe's vision of a totalitarian, corporatist future is thus realistic in that if libertarians were ever truly to get into power they would have to enact an immense violence upon the world to try to get it to conform to their vision of Utopia. In this, they are like every other political cult that has ever existed. And they are just as dangerous.

In fact, the libertarians are the direct heirs to the Marxist-Leninist throne. Even though their motives differ substantially, their Faith is based on very similar principles – which is not surprising given that both movements grew out of the same 19th century debate over economic value. In this regard it is useful to recall John Maynard Keynes' characterisation of Marxism-Leninism:

[It] is the combination of two things which Europeans have kept for some centuries in different compartments of the soul – religion and business.

Keynes also highlighted an important point about how such cults become influenetial:

[They derive their] power not from the multitude but from a small minority of enthusiastic converts whose zeal and intolerance make each one equal in strength to a hundred indifferentists.

The goal may have changed, but the unswerving faith in pseudo-scientific – or, to be very precise, in the Austrians case, because they tend to eschew 'scientific': pseudo-rational – economic doctrines has not. Let us just hope that such a cult does not deliver to us another era of primitive tyranny and medieval inquisition. It is our democracies that are at stake.

Topics: Free markets and their discontents, Guest Post, Politics, Science and the scientific method, Social policy, Social values, The destruction of the middle class, The dismal science

Email This Post Posted by Yves Smith at 4:53 am

214 Comments:
Fraud Guy:

Having had some discussions with locally minted Libertarians (huge on Mises, Paul, and "free" markets), I run into constantly shifting arguments on value, policy, and the economy. However, the one thing they constantly return to, is that the value settled by the free market is always correct, and all constraints on that (taxes, minimum wage, etc.) should be abolished. When I ask why money should be the medium of value for all interaction, they look like I asked why the pope should be Catholic.

At least I finally got them to admit that crony capitalism should be abolished, though they still see Obama as a communist sympathiser.

chase:

I don't fully understand all this Libertarian nonsense. I have read Hayek's Road to Serfdom quite carefully, however, and find nothing in it with which to seriously disagree. His essential point is that we need government to create rules which are binding on all economic actors. Obviously, they must be sound rules. In particular, the rules must eliminate monopoly, and Hayek saw monopoly as a big problem. What Hayek was against was economic micromanagement by government. What he was in favor of was individual freedom. What I wonder is how many of those bashing Hayek day to day have actually read his book, and how many would disagree with what he says if they did read it.

E. Lope:

Like many others, what I know of The Road to Serfdom is second-hand.

I see a parallel in the selective information drawn from Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations. I was supposed to read the entire thing for a class (~40 years ago, when the conservative economists were Keynesian), and I still have a copy. Many later interpretations – Ricardo comes to mind – are often attributed to Smith.

Come to think of it, few who criticize and few who idolize Marx have actually read him. My favorite quote attributed to him: "If this is Marxism, then I am not a Marxist".

In all these cases, they should be read with some thought to the context of the world as it was. I have the ideas that Smith was leading-edge for 1776, Marx/Engels were leading-edge for mid-19th Century, Hayek, no so much.

Lidia

I would ask, too, whether most who define themselves as libertarians have read his work. I read "The Road to Serfdom" a while back, and there were plentiful references to the sort of social safety nets that are anathema to today's libertarian crowd.

"There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision."

He was also against laissez-faire capitalism, a position I strain to perceive in anyone claiming to be a libertarian these days.

Ransome

Because laissez-faire capitalism inevitably leads to bankruptcy. There may be different paths, but bankruptcy is inevitable. Why? Because it almost impossible to earn wealth in quantities to grow. 99.999% of capitalists borrow money at interest. Several missed payments results in foreclosure or collateral confiscation; collateral worth more than the loan.

If only earned wealth was used, several negative months would mean a small decrease in wealth by selling a small amount of what formerly was collateral. Success or failure depends on the nature and use of capital, by you and your competitors. It becomes clear why lenders win most of the time and why businesses fail, most of the time. In fact, a person with debt walks a tightrope. A person without debt walks on the ground. If I were Libertarian, I would be on about debt and not just a debt based fiat currency.

Lidia
Ransome, "from your lips to God's ears" as the faithful say.
UnlearningEcon

Libertarianism *is* an ideology based on neoclassical economics, in fact I was planning to do a post on it myself. Their entire idea of ethics is based on rational economic man, neoclassical bizzare-o world of governments versus markets, and the economy as some sort of magic entity that springs up out of nowhere, with no political and social institutions required.

GeorgeNYC

Absolutely (dare I use that word) great analysis.

I fear that we are losing our ability to understand that these abstractions were originally designed to give us a framework for trying to understand reality rather than as a substitute for it. The map is not the territory. We crave easy proxies for understanding the world. It is far simpler to look at the Dow Jones average than to even start to understand the complexity of an economy.

I see all of this analysis as to what "should" be done to "save the financial system" which takes place entirely in this abstract world.

Darren Kenworthy

Who are you writing to? If a non dogmatic "libertarian" who identifies as one simply because they like the idea of "liberty", in the sense of "maximum freedom for everyone", would they find your piece convincing?

Darren Kenworthy

I meant to start sentence two "If the reader were an non dogmatic 'libertarian'…would they find your piece convincing.".

Christophe

The author is clearly not writing to your non-dogmatic libertarians as he gives no indication that he considers there to be any such entities. He specifically notes that "the zealousness is the same across the whole movement."

Given his historical contextualizing of libertarianism, exposing of its intellectual inconsistencies, and identifying of its cult characteristics, Mr. Pilkington is apparently writing to opponents of libertarianism to provide them with more nuanced arguments for their critiques. But you already know that and were feigning ignorance in posing the rhetorical question above.

Jesse

Where is all this libertarian-bashing coming from all the sudden, Yves? Why does an anarchist like David Graeber (who I like a great deal) not have his ideas come under similar scrutiny, and instead get a column promoting his ideas? The buck obviously stops with you – no one is questioning that – but it's not like Atlas Shrugged just hit #1 on Amazon.com within the last 2 weeks.

JTFaraday

Slow news day.

Yves Smith

First, I've been regularly hard on libertarians. In case you missed it, the Dittmer piece was designed as a six part series. Pilkington sent in this piece and actually wanted me to run it Monday. I told him we needed to finish the Dittmer series first.

Second, only one Graeber piece was on his anarchism (and that was his piece arguing it was influential in OWS. I put a big caveat at the top, since my experience in NYC is that anarchists have a minor role in OWS. Otpor is a much bigger influence). There was also a two part interview on his book, which was about the history of debt, not anarchy.

RanDomino

I'm guessing it helps that he's an actual scientist as opposed to one of these praxeologist (autocorrect: "parasitologist," how Freudian) madmen. People tend to have a little more credibility when they base their argument on empirical observation of reality.

Jesse

I like him a great deal. I just don't see how libertarianism is more far-fetched than anarchism; libertarianism is rooted in certain schools of anarchism, is it not?

Foppe

Not really. Anarchism is about emergent/democratic organization and sharing/giving according to ability/needs (at least when it comes to subsistence needs), whereas libertarians at best ignore the issue of social organization entirely (because of their emphasis on the importance of negative liberty).

Redistributionism, from a libertarian PoV, is extremely hard if not impossible to argue for coherently - even for left-libs, who are amenable to the general idea.

RanDomino

No. Modern "Libertarianism" has an extremely tenuous connection to 19th century Anarchism, by way of Individualism which was never very influential.

The fundamental difference between Libertarianism and Anarchism is their mutually exclusive ideas of property ownership and use; Libertarians should really be called "Propertarians" because they have this quasi-religious belief in "property rights" (by which they mean title-based property ownership); Anarchist property is based on use (whoever uses a thing is its owner, and if a thing ceases to be personally and tangibly used by a person then they no longer have any claim to it; for example an empty building, if no one can explain how they intend to use it, is up for grabs, with the consent of neighbors if any activity that occurs there might affect them). Usufruct is probably the closest word for the Anarchist concept of legitimate property use-ownership.

Anarchists are against both government AND capitalism, because we recognize that the only irreplaceable function of a government/State is to maintain and protect property titles. Capitalism cannot exist without some single, central, indisputable agency carrying out this function; multiple agencies would either maintain conflicting lists or merge their lists and create a system to ensure that they were constantly in sync (which is effectively the same as having a single list). Disputes (real or invented) may not be resolved through violence, but if history is any indication, whoever things they can get an upper hand through violence would not hesitate to do so. A war of all against all and eventual domination by Leviathan, establishing their sole authority over the property title registry, would result; capitalism with no government would shortly create a new government.

Furthermore we think that the vaunted "exchange" of capitalism, regardless of a formal government, is itself coercive. The idea of "I'll give you this if you give me that" can be turned into a threat: "I won't give you this *unless* you give me that." If the desired good is necessary to life, such as food or shelter, then the price can be determined more by coercion than by the function of efficient market forces. Anyone who's been employed in a low-skill job in a time of high unemployment knows very well to shut up and not complain about speed-ups and dropping wages.

Instead of capitalism, we advocate "gift economics," a system based on free giving rather than exchange. As David Graeber pointed out in that earlier article here, this was the standard form of social economic activity for nearly all of human history, so genetically we're very well adapted to it. Even today, if you were to calculate the dollar value of every gift given (including services such as helping someone get their car out of a snowbank or telling them the time while on a subway ride, physical gifts from the more formal kind at birthdays and holidays to informal kinds like food sharing, letting the neighbor borrow your weed trimmer, etc), it would probably rival the "real" economy. The fact is that people are generally decent; giving and contributing increases a person's dignity, which is the real motivation for most people. it's just a few sociopaths who have convinced us that we're as materially selfish as they.

On a larger scale, there is the highly-developed Anarcho-Syndicalism, which rivaled Communism in the 1910s-early '20s and which was the driving force behind the Spanish Revolution in 1936 (which was brutally crushed by Communist betrayal, a mistake we will not make again). Anarcho-Syndicalism is a proposal for a system in which workers control their workplaces through direct democracy, organized industrially and between industries by organizational federations to make decisions about production and distribution.

A consequence of gift economics is that this whole insufferable debate about the best way to determine "value" in either the Marxian or neoclassical sense is wholly superfluous, which I find delightful in the same way Alexander must have felt when he cut the Gordian knot. There is no need to measure use-value or exchange-value; just whether or not people are fed, living in decent houses, have good books, etc; there's no "X" but just "yes vs no" and "more vs less". If, as this article says, arguing over value is like religion, Anarchism is atheist.

Goin' South

RanDomino does a nice job of explicating the differences between Anarchism and Propertarianism above, but your question does raise a valid point. Given the criteria Pilkington sets, he would need to call Anarchism a "cult" as well. This is odd, since it was Pilkington who did such a friendly interview of Graeber that initially brought the anarchist to the attention of readers here.

I read Pilkington's argument as essentially a defense of reformist approaches to political economy that preserve the status quo. After all, he cites Keynes as an authority on his side. Any perspective so radically different from the status quo, that urges overturning it in what would amount to a revolution, risks being labeled as a "cult" under the criteria put forth in this article.

Pilkington would do better to look a bit deeper for the source of danger in some Utopian ideas or perspectives that seek to answer the Big Questions about how people can live together. He does, at one point, mention the Bolskeviks. Bolsheviks were Marxists who thought they were an elite vanguard morally authorized to take over a revolution, ruthlessly dominate it and establish their own version of a proletarian dictatorship by violently quashing all opposition. Remember that not all Marxists are Bolsheviks, though anarchists since Bakunin have warned that this idea of a proletarian dictatorship started the ball rolling down the road to tyranny.

As we've read in this great series on Propertarians over the past several days, these Randian types are extremely elitist as well. They are little more than crude social Darwinists who hate all our impulses toward mutual aid and egalitarianism.

In that love for an elite lies the real danger. Bolshevism/Leninism and Propertarianism both depend on that love.

As for a willingness to tackle Big Questions in a way that might expose the status quo as illegitimate and ready to be discarded, do we really want to be so worshipful of what is that we label any who would dare to advocate its overthrow as cult members?

Stephen Nightingale

RanDomino: "Anarchists are against both government AND capitalism"

Well, not exactly. I see them as being against externally imposed government(underwritten by government monopoly on violence), and the absentee landlord and limited liability type of capitalism. If it is to last at all, anarchism has to be self-governing. This doesn't preclude community marshalling of resources in the creation of what amount to capital goods.

Anarchism hasn't had any persistent large scale successes because it hasn't solved the problem of the proper use of violence – as a Pandora that goes back in the box when not needed.

Nikhil

Goin' South

I'm not sure that Pilkington's discussion of a cult applies to what RanDomino said about anarchism.

In describing a cult Pilkington says that the defining moment is an embrace of a certain conception of value as being morally correct. Whatever outcomes are produced by this embrace are considered "good" as they stem from an adherence to this value system. If any injustices occur from they are the acceptable sacrifice needed to stave off the inevitably greater moral decay and chaos that abandoning the original value would create. It is a belief that real outcomes cannot be managed at the expense of a founding idea.

What RanDomino states is that anarchism is more interested in outcomes. Do people have enough to eat? A place to live? etc. If not then something must be done to correct these unjust outcomes. True that the most "good" tool to accomplish this according to anarchists is democratic process but this is not the same as the establishment of a "value" that Pilkington talks about. If the outcomes of a democratic process are unjust then they should be revisited through democratic means. Its messy but it is a belief that real outcomes are prime, a normative idea of politics.

Jesse

Thanks for the replies guys – found them interesting and spent a while on wikipedia reading up.

LeonovaBalletRusse

Correct. This history is traced succinctly in:

Chapter 8: "The Tomb Raiders of the Postmoern Right: Junger's Anarch, the Neocon, and the Bogus Hermeneutics of Leo Strauss, in "THE IDEOLOGY OF TYRANNY: Bataille, Foucault, and the Postmodern Corruption of Political Dissent" by Guido Giacomo Preparata (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)– a work of dense, superlative research.

Lidia

RanDomino, thanks very much for your reply to Jesse! I am only just exploring now what it means to be an "official" anarchist, but it is a very liberating feeling in a way that both "liberalism" and "libertarianism" manage to avoid for me.

As I look back over my life, I see that it has always been marked by a strong reaction against arbitrary authority, although I never recognized it as such. I opened a small business because I couldn't stand being an employee; while my business thrived, I didn't cause it to grow because neither I nor my two partners could stand being bosses. I left the US, and as an ex-pat the artificial concepts of nations couldn't be more transparent to me.

Really, these concepts are such huge forms of TAXATION on our human spirit as well as on the planet's resources that it is often depressing to contemplate the power they have over most people. I like your phrase very much about anarchy being the "atheism" of artificial economic constructs and, while this may not have been your meaning, the taxation certainly extends to most modern-day religions.

Piano Racer

I wanted to second Lidia in thanking RanDomino for his insightful replies. I have a few questions:

* If property rights are determined by use, how do you decide when a property is "unoccupied"? Can I occupy a huge mansion, or do I need to "maximize its utility"? Who makes these determinations, and who enforces them? Or is it just the consensus of the "neighbors"? What if I build a house and want my kids to have it after I am gone, who decides that? As the current occupier, do I have discretion on who is "first in line" if I leave? What if I take a 6-month vacation but intend to return, do I need to let others use it while I am gone, and would I have any claim when I returned?

* If there is no personal property, how can an individual prepare for the future? Right now I can use my extra income to purchase several years worth of food and water, etc. Would I be able to "accumulate" ("hoard", some might define it) under your system? If not, how can I save wealth for a future when it may be needed, i.e. a period of drought? Or is the assumption that communities would make these sorts of preparations collectively?

The thing I like most about RanDomino's comments is how his clear, thoughtful explanation did not resort to childish name calling and unnecessary pejoratives, which I cannot say about Mr. Pilkington:

"today's most popular political cult – that is, libertarianism" – I'd argue that today's most popular political cult is the ridiculous left/right paradigm that pervades the mainstream media – Mr. Pilkington's "cult", no doubt.

"the glazed eyes of their devotees." – wow.

"They never for one moment questioned that" – 100% subjective emotional language that adds nothing to the argument.

"they simply threw up their arms and claimed that such inconsistency showed just how true theory was and how much we should respect it" – What is added by using such emotionally-appealing and obviously completely subjective language?

I could go on, with this and many other posts by Phil.
He clearly has a negative emotional component to what he writes, and at least for me it is a huge turnoff and makes it difficult for me to take his arguments seriously.

RanDomino

Thanks! It's a lot easier to be positive when you have a good idea of what you're *for*… I suppose I'm a fanatic, of the same sort described in the article. I try to stay skeptical and grounded about what I think, for what that's worth.

-Property rights. There is no clear, simple answer as to when something is abandoned. To prove that something is abandoned would mean proving that no one is using it- proving a negation; impossible. Instead, we can rely on human intuition- Are there signs that it's in use? If people are physically using it at the moment, ask them about it. If there's no one around, see how long it's been unused for clues if the last users are coming back. Ask neighbors. It takes due diligence. This can be streamlined if communities are organized and keep track of their environs.

If you want to 'abandon' some property to someone in particular, just give it to them.

I don't think any kind of firm time limits make sense. If you're planning on coming back, the safest thing to do would be to let your neighbors/community know. But then again if you say you'll be back in 6 months and you're not back for three years, you might be out of luck. Like I said, there are no firm, one-size-fits-all rules; there can't be. But intuition is pretty universal. There might be some flubs but, "Whoops, didn't realize you were still using that," is a hell of a lot better than, "You're trespassing, you have to sleep on the street."

-Personal property. Okay, let me expand on gift economics. Like I said, in Anarchist economics property is owned by the user(s). This means that anything you produce in conjunction with others is the collective property of all who collaborated on it, and whatever you produce yourself is your exclusive property, free to use or hoard or give away or destroy. The same general choices are available to a group with its collective property; decisions should be made using the Consensus process that Occupy Wall Street is popularizing (or something similar; this is, of course, only a recommendation). A productive collective, for example a farm or clothing factory or shipyard or whatever, can do with its product whatever it wants.

Precisely how a collective or individual distributes their product is up to their choosing. They could join with a cross-industrial federation of collectives which can organize distribution both within the supply chain and to society. The 'classical' Syndicalist organizational scheme was that EVERY workplace would be part of ONE labor federation which would distribute to ALL of humanity. I think the ideas have gotten a little more refined since then (I'm not too proud to admit that Syndicalism was an influence of Italian Fascism, which many Syndicalists there joined in the 1920s after their movement had been crushed, and the Spanish Falangist economic philosophy to a lesser extent).

Actually, the market might be a better system. The simplest I think I can put it right now is that each collective would make individual arrangements to accept material inputs from other collectives (for example a clothes factory might offer to take wool or cotton from nearby farms), and in turn arrange with other collectives or communities for distribution, with nothing given 'upstream' in exchange. Why would anyone give their product to someone 'downstream'? Because that's what keeps the economy functioning. Unfortunately, this hasn't been tried on a large scale, but I'm pretty sure it's where the thinking is headed.

sorry about the tangent there, but hopefully that illustrates a little better how an Anarchist economy might function.

More to your question in particular- Your personal property is yours, even if you're not using it at precisely that moment; it's enough to have at least somewhat credible plans for it. Setting aside a few tons of dry goods 'just in case' is probably fine; trying to claim everyone needs to get out of New York because you'll need it to focus your psychic powers against an invasion of aliens from the 17th dimension will probably not earn you many takers.

On "hoarding"; one of the most important Anarchist books is titled "The Conquest of Bread," the point being that technological improvements have made real scarcity a thing of the past. The scarcity we think exists is a result of capitalism- destroying what is useful because those who need it have no money; creating artificial scarcity to drive up prices; diverting resources to frivolities for the "1%"; inventing new "needs" like televisions, exotic vacations, and 2.5 cars in every garage; raising rent to drive people out to build condos for yuppies. I live well on about $6000/year (and it could be even less if I didn't have to pay for property) by cutting away everything that's not a necessity, such as healthy food, or extremely useful, such as indoor plumbing. I see people spend scads of money on so much worthless crap and it makes me sick. People don't live like that because they want to, but because they feel they're supposed to. Capitalism has destroyed community, which is where real fulfillment is found; it's made us dependent on alienating jobs and consumerism, rather than liberating us through self-sufficiency so we can freely and respectably contribute as free equals.

sorry, off-track a little again- I meant for my argument there to be that if capitalism wasn't creating all these artificial scarcities and fake demands, there would be so much excess that you wouldn't be able to hoard enough for it to be noticeable even if you tried. So, yeah, go ahead, if you want to stock up. Whatever you're given, whatever you produce, and whatever you find that's abandoned, is yours, to do with as you please.

Jessica

I am reading his book about debt now. It is teaching me a lot. I would be curious to hear sometime the reactions of others who read it.

Anentropic

I welcome it because elucidating their ideas helps to highlight how influential they have become, in many ways it feels like we are all living in their world at the moment.

Jesse

Actually, this is a libertarians worst nightmare. Endless wars in multiple countries, NSA-spying on citizens/PATRIOT Act, socialism for the super rich, etc.

F. Beard

True. But many "libertarians" would enslave us to gold (and therefor to usury), probably unwittingly.

Piano Racer says:

Libertarians do not want to force anyone on a gold standard, they just want the market to decide what is used as money rather than have it be dictated to them by the government. History has shown that precious metals are well-suited to that task, and hence many libertarians argue for their use, not to be forced down the throats of those who do not want to use them but to be freely chosen by all.

RanDomino

You're thinking too socially. What the modern, so-called "Libertarians" value above all is profit, and who can deny that their Knights of Faith are making a killing off those things?

Lidia

I don't think that what we are faced with is -at all- libertarians' "worst nightmare". Rather, I think that it is libertarians' dream situation, albeit one that they are hard-pressed to justify in front of their fellow citizens.

Jesse

You're so lazy you didn't even offer a single rebuttal to any of the issues – all of which are core libertarian issues – I raised.

LeonovaBalletRusse

Jesse, these issues were addressed in the fifties, and it was acknowledged that the key to *fixity*, to stasis for *elite DNA monopoly on real property was *inherited wealth*–mostly finessed through so-called family *Trusts* today.

The key to *equality* and mobility of capital from generation to generation is the elimination of inherited wealth, which ipso facto leads to monopoly by DNA sets. We can see how much of *the pie of all wealth* must expand per DNA set in the multiple-marriage-multiple birth generational expansion within just one such set: The House of Saud. But this works the same for the House of Bush, the House of Morgan, the House of Rockefeller, in which the *maternal* dynastic names remain obscure.

It's all about: "My DNA uber alles forever." Brian Sykes's "ADAM'S CURSE" makes this clear. As resources become scarcer, the potential for violence and catastrophic breakdown becomes greater. The DNA sets that monopolize the wealth today will in the future need *MORE* for themselves.

This is why the abolition of inheritance taxes is key to the Reich Principals and their cult collaborators.

As proposed in the fifties, inheritance taxes are for amateurs. Inherited wealth itself must be forbidden, whether through *Trusts* or otherwise. IDA TARBELL's complaints against the *Standard Oil Trust* and its murderous monopoly hold true for *Family Trusts*.

Lidia

I'm not "so lazy".

If you are interested (not that you might be beyond the abstract) in a personal reaction from me:
"Actually, this is a libertarian's worst nightmare. Endless wars in multiple countries, NSA-spying on citizens/PATRIOT Act, socialism for the super rich, etc."

I am totally against endless wars in multiple countries.
I am totally against NSA spying on citizens.
I am totally against socialism for the super-rich.

What made you think otherwise?

What an odd, reactionary, comment…

Aside from these targeted issues, "libertarians" continue to have gross lacunae as far as real people constructing real societies are concerned.

Lidia

I truly thought it was a parody, a spoof of libertarianism.

K Ackermann

Something that I've always found ironic with Atlas Shrugged is the use of a railroad for Taggart's company. Railroads were about the most heavily subsidized industry by the US government.

It's not surprising. A great number of the most important inventions and technologies have been prompted by government initiatives.

;Moneta

The whole movement is a farce. Up here in Canada, people are buying into austerity and shrinking government.

The problem is that I can't see how we'll employ our better educated population by relying on the private sector as R&D usually happens outside Canada if government does not intervene. We import most of our consumer products (added value) and export resources (low added value). That's not a healthy long term strategy if you ask me.

Without government, I don't see anything big happening in Canada because the risks are too high for the size of our companies; but for some reason, Canadians have been buying into the libertariais view that government should disappear.

Capitalism is not a one-size-fits-all system. Each country has its own issues where in some collectivism works better than individualism and vice versa. It depends on the geography, the climate, the distribution of population, the resources, etc.

And America the gorilla has been forcing everyone's hand into its own worldview which could be good for itself but not necessarily for others.

Philip Pilkington

I was less interested in Graeber's ideology - which I am unsympathetic toward - than in his academic work. I don't think he lets his ideology tamper with the historical work he did on debt.

He is also an intellectual leader of OWS which is why I commissioned the OWS article from him and presented it to Yves. (Which I don't think was just a shameless plug for his ideology).

Put simply (and I think Yves would largely agree with me): you can be a Martian for all I care as long as your academic or intellectual work is up to scratch. If a libertarian or an Austrian publishes a book as relevant as Graeber's was you can be sure I'll be looking them up for an interview - even though they probably won't give it to me now that attacked their dodgy ideology…

Jardinero1

I think you engaged in quite a bit of projection of what you think the "libertarian" believes. You also extoll a cohesive whole among libertarians where none exists. If there is no cohesive whole there can hardly be a cult. No two libertarians agree on much. The few things that Austrians might agree on could be:

1. self ownership
2. any system which has less coercion is preferred to one with more coercion
3. value is a subjective measure that varies from one person to the next and over time.

Yves Smith:

Your #2 is a Trojan horse. For libertarians and Austrians, the only source of coercion is the state, which is empirically untrue. Plenty of wealthy private parties have had large private armies (you even have that now among oil oligarchs in Russia). If you think large scale enterprise does not have coercive power (and coercion goes beyond the right to use violence), you are missing a big part of the equation.

Robert Heilbroner has a great discussion of how commerce now assumes many of the coercive functions formerly in the hands of the state in his book Behind the Veil of Economics.

Jardinero1

I don't believe one can correctly state that "libertarians and Austrians, the only source of coercion is the state". Such sweeping generalizations about any group or system of thought are patently false.

I think few seriously think or would say "but for the state there would be no coercion or violence". Fewer still believe that that the only source of coercion is the state. Most would agree with you and freely admit that there are numerous other sources of coercion and violence. That isn't the issue. The issue is what are the consequences of the state monopoly on violence?

Austrians take different positions on the consequences of the state monopoly on coercion and violence. Some Austrians would say that the state can do very little to temper those other sources of coercion and violence(so why bother with the state?). Others would posit that the state exacerbates violence by granting the privilege of violence to some and withholding it from others(so limit the state or get rid of it). Others would say that the state harms more through its own violence, via wars abroad, against vice at home and incarceration, than people would do to themselves without the state as an actor.

LeonovaBalletRusse

Yes, Yves, "L'etat c'est moi" said BigOil via Bush-Cheney, with "I am the Decider" and "apres moi le deluge." Same with BTBTF, and *DefenseSecurity* fiefdoms. These breed corporate and dynastic monarchs, who are now *the state*.

Jesse

Appreciate you taking the time to reply – I honestly didn't remember you being the one to write the Graeber article until people referenced it in the comments.

Jesse

Correction, I should have said "presented", not "wrote". I also understand the distinction you're making, it was about Graeber's OWS affiliation, not his political ideas.

I just get the feeling that libertarianism is singled out lately on the blog, even though it's as marginalized (the majority of the TEA party, which itself is a relatively small group, is NOT libertarian) an ideology as many others that will never be targeted here.

Lidia

I get the feeling, instead, that libertarianism is given a full and fair airing, and is found lacking, resulting in libertarians' calling 'foul' when the ideology to them dear is rightly deemed insufficient.

LeonovaBalletRusse

You assume your work is *up to scratch*?

RanDomino

Sometimes I think it's great how we're making progress dispelling popular myths about political economics, philosophy, and social justice and the history thereof. Then I read things like the first paragraph of this.

Foppe

It is akin to blaming Darwin for the rise of social Darwinism/Nazi eugenics, yes.

RanDomino

In this case, Marx really advocated the policies and strategies that the Bolsheviks would make infamous. What I'm referring to is the idea that Marxism is aaaaall about the labor theory of value.

It seems that most non-Marxians (and non-anti-capitalist) criticism of Marxism begins and ends there; never mind that practically all of them miss that what Marxian economics means by value is not what classical and neoclassical economics means by value.

It's like the Saturday Night Live sketch about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with the characters repeatedly confusing depth and distance traveled.

LeonovaBalletRusse

Remember: they change the meanings of words to suit their nefarious purposes.

Whatever

Arrogant and condescending. All human viewpoints are essentially religious - or at least metaphysical - in origin. (Including your own.) Some model reality better than others. The argument that complex systems demonstrate emergent behavior that cannot be predicted from a study of the individual parts is not unique to Austrian economics.

It also underpins much contemporary biological and computational science. The fallacy committed by the (right)-libertarians is in conflating the prevailing corporatist system, which is enabled by massive state intervention in the economy on behalf of capital, with a "free market", and assuming that the grossly distorted outcomes of this privilege-based externality engine are both necessary and just.

Foppe

which is enabled by massive state intervention in the economy on behalf of capital, with a "free market", and assuming that the grossly distorted outcomes of this privilege-based externality engine are both necessary and just.

But given that every society is historical in this manner, how on earth are you ever going to force a 'reset' of good except through heavy redistribution via some form of institution such as the state (which all libertarians oppose)? I mean, sure right-wing libertarians are dishonest in pretending all historical distributions are fair, but what 'libertarian' way is there to effect a reset?

Whatever

Squatting. Adverse possession. Homesteading of (semi-)public property. Kevin Carson does a better job of tackling this subject than I ever could:

http://www.mutualist.org/id45.html

The simple fact of that matter is that not everyone who self-identifies as a libertarian is a capitalist/corporate flack. There are anti-capitalist forms of libertarianism that this article ignores or dismisses in an effort to paint all libertarians are quasi-religious zealots gripped by an irrational distrust of the state and/or faith in the market. That the state can likewise be viewed as an object of idolatrous worship is never considered. Only the libertarian "religion" is false; the author's own beliefs are True.

RanDomino

I think it's time to give up the word "libertarian" to the Propertarians. They got it; which is fine because we don't really need it anyway.

Self Governor

Foppe wrote:
"But given that every society is historical in this manner, how on earth are you ever going to force a 'reset' of good except through heavy redistribution via some form of institution such as the state (which all libertarians oppose)? I mean, sure right-wing libertarians are dishonest in pretending all historical distributions are fair, but what 'libertarian' way is there to effect a reset?"

The answer is fairly simple – change the culture. If anybody has ever read PJ O'Rourke's book, "EAT THE RICH," they will understand it does not matter what sort of political-economic regime exists that determines "good" or "bad," but what the culture of the people that constitute such regimes allow/practice. Morals and virtues are encoded in culture, and culture -I submit more or less- determines conduct.

reason

"The argument that complex systems demonstrate emergent behavior that cannot be predicted from a study of the individual parts is not unique to Austrian economics."

1. That doesn't actually seem to be emphasized in the methodoly of "Austrian" economics at all, except as an excuse to avoid empiricism.
2. In other fields that is a reason to study both the individual AND the macro system.

LeonovaBalletRusse

Indeed, they have *bought the lie*, and their handlers have been well-paid to bring this outcome from their dupes.

Carlito Quesare

I have to say that the last week's worth of guest posts are going to push more small "L" libertarians away from NakedCapitalism then it's going to convert to the guest authors' equally cultish economic dogmas.

These are not academic articles or white papers being passed about in parlors, Yves knows her audience and she must know she brings in a good number of small "L" libertarians who don't really trust Harry Browne any more than Paul Krugman.

For those productive individuals that are less philosophically educated in the depth and breadth of the last 150 years of 'economics' as a (pseudo)-science, small "L" libertarianism IS a rather well thought out explanatory framework of their own personal experiences in the business world and in society as a whole.

There are many paths to enlightenment and only in Western societies would there be Pilkington's implied framework that there can only be one correct philosophy to reach a higher state of enlightenment in one's path in this lifetime. Pilkington is imposing through implications a whole lot of Western philosphies of 'value' that are not universally accepted in the Eastern world along the lines of 'Knight', 'hero', etc.

Yves Smith

The Pilkington piece can be criticized for being more abrasive than it needed to be. However, you have an insinuation in your comment, which is basically that I had better stop running this sort of post or lose "small l" libertarians.

I don't take well to subtle or overt threats.

I don't know what you mean by "small l" libertarians, since the doctrines of libertarianism are sufficiently extreme that anyone who says he subscribes to what he thinks is a nicer form is 1. simply throwing his weight in with the others, like it or not and 2. almost certainly has not thought through the implications of the doctrine. That was the big virtue of the Dittmer series. Hoppe in fact merely carries out libertarianism to its logical conclusion. What looks like extremism is in fact simply honesty.

Moreover, I'm not sympathetic with your contention that "small l" libertarianism is justified because it is somehow validated by the experience of small businesspeople. Huh? No, small businesspeople are NOT isolated Randian heros creating something out of nothing. Studies of successful entrepreneurs show the most common type is someone who worked in an industry, saw a niche opportunity the big dogs missed, and pursued it.

To pretend the success of an individual is not the result of the contribution of many others requires a special type of blindness. Language, double entry bookkeeping, plumbing, his prior work experience, his access to raw materials, etc. all come from his participation in a broader society. And he owes a debt to it.

F. Beard

And he owes a debt to it. Yves Smith

Literally, if his success was financed by loans from a bank. The purchasing power for those loans (since loans create deposits) was taken from every money holder including and especially the poor.

F. Beard

Pardon the lack of quote marks or italics on Yves' comment.

Th3T1ck

I have to agree with the previous poster. I found the Dittmer posts inflammatory and misleading. I thought they used a strawman (anarchy as libertarianism), based on attribution of right of force to private insurance companies. I also thought the posts deliberately ignored the primary ethical point of libertarianism, which is that personal freedom must be paramount. Furthermore, there was no recognition of the place of justice in a libertarian state. This is another critical tenet that seemed to be misrepresented. Because of these things, the posts seemed like bash jobs.

I recognize that NC is a progressive oriented blog. I value the insights here, particularly the detailed and knowledgeable analysis on matters of economic fraud. I don't mind at all seeing libertarianism challenged (it's always good to test ideas from other views). But I think that the Dittmer posts were lower quality than what I usually see at NC (if it was a test of libertarianism), and seemed more targeted to inflame than to provoke reconsideration.

Piano Racer

Hear hear, seconded. It's disappointing to see such low-quality ideologically-driven smear campaign on these hallowed pages. If that's what I want I read the Huffington Post. I am thankful that a handful of commentators are interested in having an actual discussion, though my respect for Yves and her blog has marginally decreased.

I hope she can read that feedback without feeling "threatened".

Phichibe

Yves,

What can I say to your words than: Bravo!

I come to NC for your absolute integrity and fearlessness. I don't come because I agree with everything you or anyone else writes. If the libertarians (big L or small l) want to leave, I won't miss their contributions. Likewise w/t anarcho-syndicalist-blah-blah-blah utopians.

The truth of the matter is that we are in the worst economic crisis of that last 80 years, and it may be the worst in 200 years if the laissez-faire dogma is not dislodged from its stranglehold on Western societies. I think NC is one of the most vital platforms in the effort to fight this intellectually and morally corrupt 'cult', to borrow Pilkington's term, and I'm with you 100%.

Philippe B/Phichibe

Jessica

"Language, double entry bookkeeping, plumbing, his prior work experience, his access to raw materials, etc. all come from his participation in a broader society. And he owes a debt to it."
Yes. Very yes.
This is exactly the point that is lost/ignored/suppressed nowadays. Particularly by rent collectors of various stripes.
Having read half of David Graeber's book, I would like to take a shot at rephrasing the last sentence without using the language of debt. Something along the lines of "all those who contributed to the accomplishment should be rewarded and some of that is the contribution of the society as a whole that no one person or company or the government can claim to have made."
Well, I admit it was more succinct in the language of debt.

casino implosion

I for one applaud Yves in tackling the libertarians.

There seems to be a slowly growing awareness of the danger posed by this ideology.

The Dittmer series was especially well-done.

Jesse

There seems to be a slowly growing awareness of the danger posed by this ideology.

Yeah, remember when libertarians ordered the invasion of multiple countries based on naive ideas (or outright lies), gave the NSA the right to spy on citizens, the CIA the right to assassinate Americans, and then bailed out banking fraudsters who were finally going to have to eat their losses?

Philip Pilkington

So, you're saying we'd better not engage the libertarian movement or we might lose readers? That sounds like a threat a cult member would make.

The criticism above may be sharp tongued, but it is not polemical, it is rational. If your doctrine cannot hold up to rational criticism that is the fault of said doctrine.

Carlito Quesare

This is a reply to Phillip and Yves.
First off, I agree with Phillip's conclusion paragraphs.
Secondly, I was trying to state that Phillip should have more clearly stated in his article, what he posted in the follwing comment:

Philip Pilkington says:
December 7, 2011 at 11:35 am
I assume that everyone grasped that I was referring to the Mises.org crowd and notto people who label themselves 'libertarian' in a rather vague sense.

Reply

That being said, I already went through the mises.org phase of my life and read almost everything on the website as was available in late '99 to early 2000. Been there, done that, I'm over it.

Most people do not see any of the -Isms as the pundit class sees them, entrepreneurs just see competing ideas in the marketplace of ideas of which the only constant is no -Ism is perfect.

The casual NC reader who is inclined towards the ethical/philosophical side of small "L" libertarianism have little in common with Rothbardian large "L" Libertarian Party activists and Porcupine Project activists that Phillip is parrying with here.

It's offputting to any casual NC reader who follows a "live and let live" philosophy but hasn't spent a few hundred hours reading econ papers from prior centuries, the refutation requires intimate knowledge of highly contentious historical accounts of lecture hall debates and parlor papers where there was no clear victor and no clear consensus until decades after the 'three Austrians' were either feeble minded or deceased. The lens of hindsight can bend light in either way, in his later life Schumpeter most definitely DID NOT hold the concept of 'value' as Phillip described. Almost everything Schumpeter wrote after '40 that was not a rehash of his earlier works was absolutely the opposite of what Phillip is implying. IDK how many causal NC readers will know that, heck, if it wasn't for a stalwart big "L" Libertarian also my professor and Econ/Finance advisor taking me under his wing for a few years I wouldn't have known that… who the heck has time to read about the earliest stabs at dynamic systems when most IT guys use the matured dynamic systems science to regularly create new databases?

On that, your opponents don't bring up the position papers from the Second Internationale to describe current failings of neoclassical and modern liberal politics and economic policies. Because no one outside of historians and professional agitators/fifth estaters have time to rehash the socioeconomic political theater of the age of battleships and cavalry charges.

All -Isms build theoretical ideal constructs to instruct the masses. What's the rest of the argument?

Dan G.

I think if you call all libertarians as subscribing to a cult, you cannot expect to us to assume that you asking for a reasoned debate with libertarians, but it's opposite.

And no, why would anyone assume you were just referring to the mises.org crowd (who are not always fans of Hayek) when you never referred to the website at all in your article?

PL_2

Rational is not the first word I would use.

It seemed more like a somewhat opaque philosophical and metaphysical polemic.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. All of our points of view have philosophical and metaphysical underpinnings. Like 'value.'

JTFaraday

"small "L" libertarianism IS a rather well thought out explanatory framework of their own personal experiences in the business world and in society as a whole."

No it isn't an "explanatory framework" of experience. But it is a way for people situated in certain ways to politically promote their own (increasingly narrowly understood) self interest, which is what it's been since Locke. ie., it is a justificatory framework.

And that's more than we're going to get with the MMT cult's Stalinistic austerian minimum wage work farm, so it has that much in its favor.

LeonovaBalletRusse

It's the NeoConfederate Romance: the Holy Grail of Finance.

digi_owl

Funny how much the articles description lines up with Ayn Rand's "objectivism". I wonder if the lady was inspired by Austrian economists, or if her anti-socialism/communism/Bolshevism results in much the same line of thinking as said economists.

Ransome

Rand was an extreme capitalist and therefore a totalitarian. She was a screen writer and much of her stuff was pinched from All American rags to riches business fables of the 1900′s which were meant to be inspiring, not Masters of the Metropolis sociopathic wealth and power addicts that were the reality. In her world, a capitalist super-class of exceptional people led and mixed genes, while the majority of everyone else was inferior or an obstacle.

My grandmother was yanked out of school after the eighth grade as was customary. She was enthralled with the rags to riches lore and eventually rented a corner store, becoming a successful business owner. She gave up the store to have kids and became brutally cruel, preferring business to having kids. Mom said she was so frustrated she couldn't control herself. She had grabbed the golden ring and circumstance made her drop it. Eventually she immersed herself in half-culture magazines to educate herself.

Moneta

The doctrine that is handed down is then to be conceived of as a way to live one's life – a project, handed down from Mount Sinai, that one is under the moral obligation to spread far and wide
---
Often, this model makes sense but only for a small percentage of the population. If it is forced onto everyone, it breaks down. That's the part that many followers don't get. Some do see this but could not care less as long as it works for them.

Moneta

Furthermore, every cult denies the existence of people who only seek power and will use or destroy the system for their own convenience.

Just like our central banks have been focusing on one single variable, the interest rate, to fix all of our economic problems, letting all other variables get stretched like elastics, ideologies are based on a simplistic way of seeing the world.

Regulatory Capture

Ah yes… I would never seek to exploit the political system either… I would never think to exploit the governmental system and write the regulations so they are positive for me… but not for much of anyone else… and especially not the small guys.

John Merryman

To give a thumbnail sketch connecting religion to economics, I would first point out the basic logical fallacy in the primary western religious assumption of monotheism; That the absolute, the universal state, is equilibrium, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence of being from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. Unfortunately this is a state, not a goal. In order to have anything, you have to have its opposite. Good/bad, up/down, left/right, positive/negative, yes/no, matter/anti-matter, conservative/liberal,dare I say, male/female, etc.
Otherwise, the happy medium is also just a big flatline on the universal heart monitor.
Physical reality is a bit of a convection cycle of (bottom up)expanding energy and (top down) contracting/consolidating mass/order/structure. In society, when there is a generally stable relationship between these two, it is a process of general advancement, but more energy than order and things branch out, for better or worse and more order than energy and they tend to break down and fall apart. A bit like riding a bicycle, you have to keep moving forward, or you fall over.
In large, complex societies these forces interact in innumerable ways. Labor, energy, material resources powering the larger society forward, or channeling into particular directions by those in positions of power.
The essential idea of unfettered deregulation is profound nonsense. Consider how much regulation and rules it takes to make football work. Otherwise the first player to bring a gun would win and it's called war. In the body, unfettered growth is called cancer.
Of course there has to be some balance, because too much order and all growth is stifled and the organism dies. The opposite of cancer would be auto-immune disease. Somalia would be a place with too little order and North Korea a place with too much order.
Push the pendulum too far in either direction and either it just creates that much momentum in the other direction, or the whole system falls over and you start again.
Right now, the immediate problem is that we treat money as a commodity, rather than a contract and have manufactured far too many unpayable promises to each other, than can be kept and there is a big reality reset coming. As the various large organizational structures, from nations to corporations, to religious tribes and various other framing devices, go crashing into the earth's furniture.
If one puts human civilization into a biological evolutionary frame, life on this planet is attempting to grow a world central nervous system, but we have yet to realize it has to function as a bottom up feedback network, rather than top down control. Not anywhere close yet.

UnlearningEcon

Just to note that this a great comment and should be read by everyone.

Regulatory Capture

Oh but now you're equating libertarianism with anarchy. Even the rules most libertarians believe in aren't currently very well enforced so I have to disagree with the first reply to this comment… it is overall trash and a strawman.

Tom B

THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS
quote from the novel by Robert A. Heinlein

Prof: "I'm a rational anarchist. . . .A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as 'state' and 'society' and 'government' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame … as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world … aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undimayed by self-knowledge of self-failure."

Wyoh: "Professor, your words sound good but there is something slippery about them. Too much power in the hands of individuals–surely you would not want … well, H-missiles for example–to be controlled by one irresponsible person?"

Prof: "My point is that one person is responsible. Always. If H-bombs exist–and they do–some man controls them. In terms of morals there is no such thing as 'state.' Just me. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts."

Tom B

Perhaps we might be overlooking there is a more moderate point of view amongst libertarians, a blend of the need for socialism to a degree and free markets:

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

RanDomino

But then the government's business of protecting property rights would just re-build the regulatory state, and probably the welfare state as well, sooner or later. A different system has to be *qualitatively* different.

Moneta

There is no perfect system. The pendulum will always swing too far.

And even if we came up with some kind of utopic system, it would not last. Someone would try to position himself/herself to take advantage of it… unless we change the human psyche.

We will always be at the mercy of an ideology. People looking for stability and balance rarely reach the top of the hierarchy. These positions are usually filled by extremists and ideologues who are disconnected from the plight of the average person.

Tom B

Yes Moneta, someone will come along and bastardize even the best of intentions.

We should also keep in mind that there are sociopaths out there in the world, and because of their outwardly appearing charm they have the ability and tendency to acheive postitions of authority and power that help to satisfy their inner need to control and abase those around them for their own pleasure.

I've heard it estimated that perhaps 10% of the population are sociopaths. You can never really identify them without clinical analysis. Knowing that they have that tendency toward upward mobility, I have to wonder that as we take a view up the social/political/corproate executive ladder how that percentage might change. For the worse.

Tom B

See my comment below. If there isn't some level of regulation and protection then those sociopathic predators would actually be the ones reverting us back to those problems. Perhaps it's inevitable anyway, just a never ending cycle.

"Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class - whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy."

- Frank Herbert

LeonovaBalletRusse

Why is *Big Government* by CorporateM-IMonopolyFinance not mentioned as "government" by anyone on this thread?

This is the fascist government we have now. It has nothing to do with the Three Branches of government and the Rule of Law which our Constitution and Bill of Rights designate as legitimate *government."

Timothy Johnson

What I find interesting in Pilkington's article is looking to the "1830s" to try and figure out why things have gone wrong recently. While Pilkington is interested in the emergence of Libertarianism I have become interested in the impact of Mill "(political) economics is concerned with [man] solely as a being who desires to possess wealth" in the context of "nature red in tooth and claw". These ideas have dominated (British) economics and science (through Darwin) for almost two hundred years.

Financial markets (as has been pointed out) have, for most of their history, been based on principles of reciprocity - the various results of the Ultimatum Game are a matter of fact, utility maximisation is a hypothesis. The change in finance seems to have been slow but reached some sort of watershed in 1950 in the case Buttle v Saunders when an English judge declared that 'commercial morality' was not a valid consideration in financial transactions.

See http://bit.ly/tOnYQg for another take on the same topic

LeonovaBalletRusse

"Winner take all" in the Zero-Cum Game became the Global Law of the Universe. Those who were the monopoly *winners* when this putsch began are the mega-winners today, via geometric progression of predatory capital holdings.

Who needs a *real economy* when "capital" is created from naked derivatives? Capital became completely disassociated from labor with GATT; when Glass-Steagall was revoked, capital from spreads became completely disassociated from *working capital*. It's totally *pie in the sky*.

JohnT

Phillip, Go to see that you're confused. A cult tends to believe in things irrespective of evidence to the contrary. Please give example of where this is the case with the standard bearers of Libertarianism?!? I do think you should maybe focus on doing a bit of historical research. Then you might understand that the writings of Mises, Hayek et al come from thorough historical analysis as well as understanding what was transpiring in the times that they lived.

You say that we are pseudo scientific!?! Let's see, where has the "scientific method" gotten us presently. Hmmm. I see banks and their economists who have built their models on the "scientific method" sitting on $700 TRILLION in potential derivative losses when just one of the nations, who also based their economic policies on the "scientific method" and who are all bankrupt goes into default. And is this the result of the free market (i.e. individuals and organisations freely exchanging goods and services)? Alas NO!!! It's based on the economic policies and organisations that you slavishly defend! And how are they trying to address the problem? BY GIVING US EVEN MORE OF THE SAME!!! And you call libertarianism a cult?!? LOL!!!!

Philip Pilkington

"A cult tends to believe in things irrespective of evidence to the contrary. Please give example of where this is the case with the standard bearers of Libertarianism?!?"

I have a second piece ready on just this topic. Look out for it. Maybe tomorrow or the next day?

drugstoreblonde

I look forward to reading it.

The dialogue regarding libertarianism has been painfully one-sided in recent years. I am relieved to find that, line by line, thinker by thinker, claim by claim, and fallacy by fallacy libertarianism is being questioned, challenged and, ultimately, refuted.

Keep up the excellent work, Andrew, Philip, Yves, et al.

reason

The scientific method doesn't guarantee that the prevalent ideas at any point will be correct, just that they will converge on being correct as errors are weaned out. Show me where Libertarianism is falsifiable. As far as I can see that just consult the holy book of Hayek when ever there are disputes between the faithful.

And why do you think neo-classical economics is scientific? And haven't you noticed that some economists are making noises about the need for revising models on the basis of experience? But all the data isn't in yet.

Ransome

Rand was a cultist and Libertarians look upon her favorably, except Rothbard.

;LeonovaBalletRusse

In other words: Mises/Hayek=GOD. repeat ad infinitum.

ThePaper

Defining the 'correct' value is the problem? I would say that the problem not on defining value but what do you mean by 'correct' which an ideological choice whatever way you put it. It can be the value that maximizes the society benefit (socialism), a small group (capitalism), or an individual (libertarians).

At the end of the day 'value' is always subjective.

The ideological blindness is on all 'economic' theories. Because it's mixing two different topics: what's the objective (ideology) and what is the way to achieve that objective ('resource managing' which should had been the real meaning of 'economy' as science).

reason

Yes,
i remember meeting a blank when I suggested to Mark Thoma that the difference between progressive and conservative economists was more primary than their interpretation of reality, part of the difference was a difference in understanding about what economics was about. You have put your finger on a very important point.

Piano Racer

"At the end of the day 'value' is always subjective."

Yes. This. This is all you need to know.

A bottle of water is worth little to a man in a bottled water factory on an island in a freshwater lake, but that same man would give everything he had and more if trapped on a desert island dying of thirst.

Even irrational reasons, like preferring CRT-based screens for their "nostalgic value" or a cherished teddy bear for its "sentimental value". The Simpsons episode (and I suppose the film by the same name) "Rosebud" is a great example of this! :)

All these models that try to predict human behavior will fail, later if not sooner, because the process that people use to make decisions of value are too subjective, too inconsistent, and too random to ever be predicted accurately and consistently.

Value is subjective, and the name of the game is trading things you value less for things you value more, whether they be dollars, gold, CDS contracts, etc. Often we value things solely because others value them as well (i.e. dollars), but the mistake is when we start thinking that the point where these values converge is the "true" or "correct" value. Especially today, with the enormous and ongoing government intervention.

To me, Austrian economics and Libertarianism are about this, and about the idea that only individuals are able to make determinations of value, and they make the best decisions when left to their own devices (this is why price controls never, ever work).

Ransome

To continue the thought. The Euro crisis and the housing crisis are resource management crises. Money, it's flow (volume, velocity, direction) is a surrogate endpoint. When a home owner attempts to resolve a mortgage problem, he is resolving a cash flow problem, a where my kid goes to school problem, a skill-set investment problem, a transportation problem, an employment problem, an accumulated illiquid wealth problem, a marriage problem, a health access problem, a life style problem, a job security problem, a mental state problem, a future borrowing problem, a homeless problem, a local community problem, a State problem, a national problem. The bank is addressing a money problem, paper pulled out of the air.

The Euro and our housing problem are being addressed as bank capital problems, not people problems, not national resource problems. The banks and speculators have declared war on nations and the resulting destruction will be the equivalent of an assault with WMD. Fuck them.

LeonovaBalletRusse

CDOs, CDSs, naked derivatives = WMD. They are war criminals.

Schofield

I think you'll find that the "value" that Libertarians and Marxists want is the same. Namely access to resources that will enable human agency. If you as an individual believe you should have the right to access to these resources together with freedom from coercion in making use of them then it is a self-contradiction to believe these positive and negative rights shouldn't apply to others. Of course, the kicker is that the application of these rights must be within reason and that is precisely where full democratic governance needs to kick in throughout virtually all of society's institutions.

reason

I'm not quite sure this is the most fruitful approach to this at all.

I agree with some points, for instance that one of the great weaknesses of Austrian economics is their adoption of an extremely mechanistic view of the consumer (i.e. the shove all the uncertainty onto the production side of the economy). But I don't think this should be projected onto all neo-classical economics (specifically not onto Keynes and his followers).

But you just need to point out the consequences of a declining marginal utility of money to defeat the "laissez faire" welfare optimising argument .

The real weakness of Austrian is what they do with the very valuable observation that innovation (whatever the source) means that the economy is never in equilibrium. They then somehow see this a good thing, but see disequilibrium caused by monetary policy (aiming to balance spontaneous disequilibrium) as a bad thing. I can't quite understand why they can't see this as being contradictory.

If they really thought carefully about the concenquences of innovation on the business cycle, they would realise that in a sense it is not only the boom that results in the following bust, but it is just as true that the bust causes the following boom. The bust results in many unemployed resources that are consequently cheaply available. Those industries that are growing can attract these resources, and many entrepeneurs will attempt to take advantage of the profit opportunities there at the same time. As the economy nears full employment – these resources will become more expensive and the growing sector may reach consumer satuation. So did the unsustainable boom cause the bust or the bust cause the unsustainable boom? So what is the story here – that there is plenty of room of monetary/fiscal policy to try and smooth this process?

Philip Pilkington

"But I don't think this should be projected onto all neo-classical economics (specifically not onto Keynes and his followers)."

No way. Keynes and his (true) followers - who were not neoclassical - saw economics for what it is: an open-ended research program and not a totalising view of the world.

My main criticism of Austrianism is that they saw the inconsistencies in the doctrine and instead of realising that microeconomics was probably gobble-dee-gook they elevated these inconsistencies up to the status of Sacred and kept the whole totalising edifice in place. I suspect they did this for emotional and ideological reasons more so than for any rational reasons.

Ransome

Booms and busts are lack of capital controls and on a larger scale, poor resource management. Innovation is a tool or a IED.

Dan Duncan

In these trying times, the vulnerable and disenfranchised are susceptible to Libertarian Cult Indoctrination.

The scary part is that you might have been indoctrinated into this Libertarian Cult without even knowing it!

To help, I am providing you with this simple Cult Questionnaire:

1. We're you re-christened with a new moniker…something like "John of Austria"?

2. Did you burn all your clothes in favor of a white-hooded robe and a bright orange sash?

3. Are you currently in a room with more than 30 lit candles?

4. Were you told to hand over money and possessions in order protect your soul from eternal damnation?

5. Did both you and your new girlfriend recently shave your heads?

6. Do you and three other couples share a bedroom replete with bunk-beds?

7. Have you recently shared a meal with any cast member from the Star Trek franchise?

If you answered "No" to all of these questions, then rest easy my friend…and ignore this tedious, Re-Redundant Andrew Dittmer Already Covered This–Six Fucking Times–Post.

Sincerely,

Dan of Rand

reason

How many cults are there that would actually meet any of these criteria?

Calgacus

If you join my cult, I will vouchsafe this esoteric knowledge unto you. But not before you do #4.

Ransome

The cult tends to be totalitarian in its control of the behavior of its members. Cults are likely to dictate in great detail what members wear, eat, when and where they work, sleep, and bathe-as well as what to believe, think, and say.

The cult appears to be innovative and exclusive. The leader claims to be breaking with tradition, offering something novel, and instituting the only viable system for change that will solve life's problems or the world's ills. While claiming this, the cult then surreptitiously uses systems of psychological coercion on its members to inhibit their ability to examine the actual validity of the claims of the leader and the cult.

M. Singer

Yves Smith

I've read extensively about cults, and very few of the groups that were listed in the Cult Awareness Network (which was bankrupted by litigations from the Scientologists) fit your list.

Better straw manning, please.

LeonovaBalletRusse

Yves, please reconsider your answer. If the *list* you reject came from Mark Singer of "FUNNY MONEY" fame, you are on thin ice to reject it wholesale.

john

Great post! While Libertarianism's most obvious failing is its blindness to to the existence of a huge set institutions required both for property to exist and to have value, it's most important failure is its contempt for humanity as it is.

Libertarianism is an ideology without empathy. It begins by endowing the classical trope that people are rational wealth maximizers with moral meaning. Ignoring the historic root of the idea in computational efficiency (it made economics mathematically manageable before the invention of supercomputers) and converting it from crutch to crucible of morality, libertarianism's systematic misunderstanding of humanity makes it the perfect environment for Autistics or cover for psychopaths.

Defining rational wealth maximization as the legitimate moral basis for action reduces the balance of real human motives and real human values to moral failings. It is the perfect tool to justify extractive and abusive behavior toward that benighted bulk of humanity and we see it wielded as such by most of its proponents. There appears to be a small distance between "value" as computational function in an equation and "value" as a moral human framework, but the difference is in fact everything that makes life worth living. It is the difference between being expensive (diamonds) and being valuable (air).

Religious thinking always abstracts from the particular to the universal to satisfy our human need for narrative order, but reality has no such need and never tolerates our fictions for long. Theocracy has always collapsed in the face of more practical applications of power. Modern libertarianism is a theology of property that will destroy what it cherishes most by mistaking its utility for "value" and by obsessing about value destroying the utility. But in the short term this is all good for psychopaths who use their winnings to fund the church.

ReaderOfTeaLeaves

I agree that libertarianism has been a boon to the most amoral; indeed, they use it to absolve themselves of social responsibilty.

LeonovaBalletRusse

Quite right. They must feel *good about themselves* no matte what atrocities they think, intend, or commit.

PL_2

You were doing good until you abstracted your observations to generalize about religion without taking into account the spirituality that seemed to suffuse your earlier paragraphs.

Luca

Exceptionally thought through arguments. May I just ask: for all the limitations of Austrians'thinking, if "democracy" (irrespective of how it is defined) is your primary concern, aren't we seeing enough horror stories resulting from growing government intervention in the name of the keynesian enthusiasm that has followed the end of the bull market in 2007? Fair enough, neoclassical economics – and capitalism in more general terms – is hardly perfect. But let's not forget that government intervention under the much vaunted New Deal in the 1930s also failed to eradicate unemployment. The war actually did -- So, do these egregious failures make government intervention at all and any cost any more attractive ??? Please be careful, the liberal use of this generic concept of democracy and government intervention by default is at least equally dangerous.

Lidia

Luca, I think you are laboring under the false assumption that governments are the result of a democratic process…

Lidia

P.S. Also, what is modern warfare if not an economic program established by government??

The New Deal's intention was to resolve the capitalist "paradox" (I was about to write "paradise") of want in the midst of plenty, using redistributionist means that were clearly artificial. But such scarcities themselves are artificial, imposed by government in collusion with banks, due to the way their money system is designed. In a system without debt money, the Great Depression could not have occurred, it should be obvious…

This is a hoot! Look who's talking here:
"My major problem with the world is a problem of scarcity in the midst of plenty … of people starving while there are unused resources … people having skills which are not being used" - Milton Friedman

Daniel Hewitt

"…they postulated a theory and then when confronted with the inconsistencies of the theory…"

Forgive me if I missed this, but could you please elaborate on how this theory is inconsistent, if marginal utility is assumed to be subjective?

Philip Pilkington

That would require a whole other post. I've done two posts critiquing marginal utility theory in the past, but the critique referenced is the one that surfaced during the debates between the Austrians and the socialist planners (Lerner et al) in the 1930s.

You will have to get the relevant literature on this to fully understand it. The Israel Kirzner article linked to in the piece is a good start and lays out a history of the debate and its consequences. The book referenced 'Modern Political Economics' also deals with some aspects of the debate.

Steve (the other Steve)

Mr.P

You've hardly demolished the edifice of subjective marginal utility in your prior posts. The question is not whether one can construct a religion or worldview out of subjective utility. Instead, it is whether subjective marginal utility is a useful framework to explain empirical observations about the economy.

You attack a straw man. Libertarianism doesn't hold subjective utility sacred. It simply recognizes that is the best, albeit imperfect, explanation for economic behavior.

My offer of breakfast in NYC still stands. Cheers!

Yves Smith

He doesn't need to. Read Steve Keen. It's already been done (Keen just codifies it better than many).

Philip Pilkington

Here's a relevant passage from Kirzner's essay that captures this well - note that Mises et al had to move away from a sort of 'grand picture' of a market in equilibrium that could be proved through mathematical models, and toward an assertive theory of entrepreneurs setting prices and causing disequilibrium:

"With the benefit of hindsight, we now understand that in the Austrian view of the market, its most important feature is (and was) the dynamic entrepreneurial-competitive discovery process. We know now that, for Mises, the idea
of a price that does not reflect and express entrepreneurial judgment and hunch is virtually a contradiction in terms. (It is for this reason that Mises
rejected Lange's contention that socialist managers may be able to take their bearings from-and to calculate on the basis of-centrally promulgated nonmarket prices.) We know now that for Mises, the description of states of
market equilibrium is mere byplay7-the description of something that will never in fact occur and that provides us with little of direct relevance to realworld
conditions (conditions that at all times display the characteristics of markets in disequilibrium). We know now that for Mises, competition is an entrepreneurial process, not a state of affairs."

Tao Jonesing

"Libertarian" is an iconic word, one that means something different to everyone and rightly so. Most people who self-identify as libertarian are not the hard core "cultists" of which you speak. They generally view themselves as people with a strong sense of right and wrong that does not fit comfortably within the other labels that are available. For example, some people who view themselves as socially liberal and fiscally conservative label themselves "libertarian."

For this reason, attacking libertarians generally as being part of a cult is a mistake and greatly misguided. Years ago on this site we got away from tilting at the libertarian strawman when we realized that the "cult" portion of libertarianism is really just hardcore neoliberalism, which actually controls the entire political landscape and both major parties through the so-called Washington Consensus. Once you realize that neoliberal ideas span the political spectrum, you can stop attacking people for the labels they wear and start attacking the bad ideas they hold.

Hayek, Mises, and Friedman were all founders of neoliberalism, which does NOT date back to the 19th century but only back to the late 1940s. Check out montpelerin.org and the great book The Road from Mont Pelerin. The Volker Fund, in addition to funding those three "libertarian" luminaries, also funded Rothbard. It was Rothbard who laid out his idea to employ a Leninist strategy for the individualist cause to counterbalance the collectivist masses. See here: http://www.libertarianpapers.org/articles/2009/lp-1-3.pdf

The point is that the "libertarian cultists" you see, Philip, are the hard core (and unwitting) "revolutionaries" of neoliberalism that Rothbard deliberately set out to cultivate. But these revolutionaries are not the danger. The danger comes from the mainstream neoliberals who employ the same ideology but not in such an overtly obnoxious way. "Infiltration" was Rothbard's strategy: by having a hard core to distract critics like you, truly effective neoliberals could quietly infiltrate mainstream politics and take them over.

Clearly, Rothbard was a genius because his strategy continues to work to this day (and on this site).

Philip Pilkington

I assume that everyone grasped that I was referring to the Mises.org crowd and not to people who label themselves 'libertarian' in a rather vague sense.

PL_2

Yes we did see you and the previous series have been attacking a doctrinaire libertarianism.

And the attack is valuable because it can prevent a casual liberty-loving attitude from identifying with the seemingly malevolent version.

Still, suggest we always be careful of making it 'Us vs Them!'

Unless it needs to be.

readerOfTeaLeaves

Philip, I can't get the sound file to work on this post, but would love to be able to listen to it. FYI. rOTL

Dan G.

This is one libertarian who will stop reading this blog. I always understood and appreciated that Yves was no free marketer, but her rants, and the rants of her allies, have become increasingly ad hominem and snarky as the political climate has not turned as Yves would like.

Yves, if libertarianism is gone (which is clearly what you want), that will leave you with conservatives (who hold much more power), in favor of never-ending war, lack of civil liberties, and intolerant social policies. But, hey, at least they're not cultist libertarians.

Philip Pilkington

I hardly see how you think either my or Dittmer's 'rants' were ad hominem. Both deal with the ideology on its own terms - in my case the economic theory, in Dittmer's the political project of Hoppe.

I get a strong sense that some people are trying to silence debate here, and that is very creepy.

;Equivocation

Phillip,

Your article is just a sophisticated rant with a pseudo-intellectual venere. It is biased and ignorant. You either made no real effort to research and understand Libertarian thought or you are being purposely deceitful. Either way, it reflects poorly on you.

I am not trying to "silence you". See below my rebuttals. Your mistakes are so basic, that I am surprised you would have the nerve to post on a widely read blog. My best guess is that your only background on Austrian thought is what you read in "Modern Political Economics".

Poor scholarship, poor logic, poor article

Philip Pilkington >

You didn't even read the article properly. In it I clearly quote an eminent Austrian economist. So, I must have read at least one Austrian text.

But no matter, you didn't read the article properly and by saying this…

"My best guess is that your only background on Austrian thought is what you read in "Modern Political Economics"."

…you proved to everyone that you didn't read it properly.

Typical rant from a typical cultist. No point in taking this seriously.

Equivocation

Like many modern pseudo-intellectuals, Pilkington criticizes what he clearly does not know.

1) Austrian theory arises from Aristotle and its later interpretation by the Salamanca School who is actually quoted by Adam Smith. It is based on deduction versus the inductive approach used by modern economics. Unfortunately, modern public education does not teach Logic anymore so explaining the difference would be a discussion on to itself.

2) Marxism and Austrian theory are BOTH based on Labor as the source of value. (Why do you think Mises called his book Human Action?) Austrians hold that individual demand and supply curves (the basis for marginal analysis) are unknowable. Since you cannot aggregate demand, then you must recognize that any economic model with this assumption must be flawed. This is very, very much in line with our understanding of the theory of modern Complex Dynamic Systems (Chaos Theory). Pilkington's failure to understand this very basic point essentially discredits all his arguments since it clearly shows he has not actually read ANY Austrian text.

3) Some Austrians do accept the use of quantitative models, but they ascribed little value to these. Why? Because of point 2. If we can only make a gross estimate of aggregate demand, then what use is it for planning purposes?

4) If you accept the axiom that we cannot know individual demand and supply prefrences, government centralized planning MUST be inefficient. The goal of small government is reducing those inefficiencies and thus maximizing value creation for society. Most Austrians will readily accept some space for Public Goods (just a very reduced one)

5) Similary Austrians do not believe that markets are informationally efficient in the mainstream academic sense. On the contrary, we only believe that if the market is mostly free, it will accurately reflect the "perceived" consumption time preferences of the economic actors. These preferences need not be logical or efficient. This is perfectly in line with what we now know regarding Behavioral Fiannce.

6) Andrew Dittmer's pseudo interviews of Code Name Cain (if the person even exists) have little validity. Apart from not knowing the subject or his credentials, there is the little detail regarding how representative he actually is. You see the Austrian Schools is actually quite a large edifice full of different streams, just like mainstream economics. What he is doing is the equivalent of interviewing Pol Pot in an attempt to discredit Socialism. And yes, even if Socialist hate it, Comunism and National Socialims ARE extreme forms of Socialism. Additionally, let me state that Andrew may be a Harvard Phd, but he is living proof that degrees do not necessarily result in the ability to develop critical thought; his questions and replies to CNC are often childish and emotional. CNC seems like a very smart fellow, though he does have several mistakes in his axioms and conclusions. The main mistake is that he holds property to be the founding rock of mainstream Austrian thought. It is not. Bastiat and others based their argument on Natural Law which dictates man's pursuit of happiness as the basis (only possible through freedsom which necessitates property rights)

The Kierkegaard quotes are a nice red herring to throw at the discussion. They add nothing except for a pretense of intellectuallity and for smoke screen to hide the fact that no real Austrian texts are actually analyzed except for passing quotes. Kudos Mr. Pilkington you have the makings of a Sophist (and you know it). You would do well to read Hayek's Noble Prize Acceptance Speech "Pretense of Knowledge"

Regards,

Philip Pilkington

"Marxism and Austrian theory are BOTH based on Labor as the source of value."

The Austrians definitely do not accept the labour theory of value. Marxism does.

"Austrians hold that individual demand and supply curves (the basis for marginal analysis) are unknowable."

That's what the article is about. The shift from marginal analysis based on equilibrium to the theory of the entrepreneur as the basis of price changes in a disequilibrated system.

"Pilkington's failure to understand this very basic point essentially discredits all his arguments since it clearly shows he has not actually read ANY Austrian text."

I quote a very prestigious Austrian economist in the piece explaining how entrepreneurs are the source of price changes.

I'm not sure you have tended sufficiently to your own garden, my friend. But, then most 'Austrians' I talk to don't have a good grasp of their own theories.

Equivocation

Ok. You are either being defensive or you are very arrogant. Read Mises. HUMAN ACTION. Read Bastiat's On Law. Read Menger. I can quote any author you want with one quick Google search… but I don't. I actually read the texts. And agains… not all Austrians agree on everything.

Money for Austrians is the means of exchanging HUMAN LABOR and is representative of human will. That is why we get our panties in a bunch when government plays with it. This is because they are playing with your freedom by denying you free choice.

Philip Pilkington

"Money for Austrians is the means of exchanging HUMAN LABOR and is representative of human will."

That's very different from the Marxist/Ricardian LTV theory. You can read all the texts you like, it doesn't mean you understand them properly.

In the Austrian school it is entrepreneurs who set prices. As I quote above:

"In this context, the entrepreneur does not treat prices as parameters out of his control but, on the contrary, represents the very causal force that moves prices in coordinating directions."

What we see here is a new theory of value emerging - a theory that entrepreneurs create new value, or as Kirzner puts it:

"[T]he truth is that Hayek opened the door to an entirely new perspective on the "goodness" of economic policies and institutional arrangements. Instead of judging policies or institutional arrangements in terms of the resource-allocation pattern they are expected to produce (in comparison with the hypothetically optimal allocation pattern), we can now understand the possibility of judging them in terms of their ability to promote discovery."

Equivocation

Phillip,

You should really recognize when you made a mistake instead of getting defensive and just throwing out red herrings and non-sequitors.

The entire chapter VII of Human Action is dedicated to Labor. Specifically cited as the only means of production that has the capacity to transform and whose individual preference determines production of goods. Some quotes

"Labor is the most scarce of all primary means of production because it is in this restricted sense nonspecific and because every variety of production requires the expenditure of labor"

"It is the supply of labor available that determines to what an extent the factor nature in each of its varieties can be exploited for the satisfaction of needs."

I am not stating Mises is the Bible, I don't even find him a very likeable character). What I am stating is that you clearly have not read Human Action, arguably the most important Austrian text. This is equivalent to writing against Islam without actually having read the Quran.

Or prove me wrong. What Austrian texts did you read before writing this critique?

Yves Smith

Equivocation,

You are the one getting defensive. You made a claims that Pilkington rebutted and you get pissy. He does not need to give you a bibliography. You stepped in it and are now trying to resort to personal attacks.

PL_2

There is a lot of name-calling (yes, on both sides) in this exchange.

It is amazing how a debate that may actually clarify something on NC so often contains both intellectual points and then: 'by the way, you're an idiot.'

Certainly the libertarian in this exchange seemed to be bringing interesting points, but unfortunately did resort to name-calling too, along with Mr P.

F. Beard

That is why we get our panties in a bunch when government plays with it [money]. Equivocation

Who else should have authority over government money but government?

This is because they are playing with your freedom by denying you free choice. Equivocation

Free choice you say? Or just a different form of tyranny? Many of the Austrians I've debated insist on some form of government enforced gold standard.

Philip Pilkington

P.S. For all the other viewers note how similar this is to what I describe above:

"Read Mises. HUMAN ACTION. Read Bastiat's On Law. Read Menger. I can quote any author you want with one quick Google search… but I don't. I actually read the texts. And agains… not all Austrians agree on everything."

It's like being accosted by a cult member in an airport. They don't argue. They preach.

Carlito Quesare

If someone came at you and attacked you through the US Labor movement socialism and outright racist American Labor Unions of the 1930′s, you'd be more than a little taken back by the bluntness. IF I then went and mischaracterized the key players in the movement and key constructs of 1930′s Unionism in the US to try to score points on a econ blog, you'd also get your panties in a bunch.

SO why did you go back to the 1930′s, and not the 1960′s or 1970s, or even back to the 1770s? Seems the 1930′s are the last time your perceived philosophical enemies were still based under one philosophical umbrella name.

Creeping determinism doesn't win points.

;Equivocation

I will shut up if you clearly state what Austrian texts you read before writing your opinion piece.

I am not a fanatic. I will readily debate any point of Austrian theory on which I am knowledgeable. But please let me know that I am not debating the equivalent of a High School student who wrote an essay based only on a Wikipedia article.

So what was your background research? Please endulge your audience.

PL_2

Equivocation sounded OK.

Suddenly both started firing insults. And got pissy.

Really, personal attacks just aren't convincing, on either side of a debate.

reason

"Money for Austrians is the means of exchanging HUMAN LABOR and is representative of human will. That is why we get our panties in a bunch when government plays with it. This is because they are playing with your freedom by denying you free choice."

Bwa ha ha ha – please let Dittmer loose on this! What a load of pretentious crap.

Carlito Quesare

I have read all of your replies so far in this thread.

You are way off base and my probable guess is lack of knowledge and study of the subject, though I don't for a second think you incapable of grasping the subjects.

You basically attacked divergent sub-schools of thought based upon a brief moment in time before dynamic systems , or dynamical systems evolved into what became Mandelbrot's Nobel Prize and a host of other mathematical theorems that developed into Chaos theory.

On Chaos Theory itself I do not claim to be knowledgeable, just a hobbyist tinkerer, but you specifically framed your argument based upon a line of reasoning that even at the time it was postulated in the 1930′s circle of your interest in this article, the postulators and their students knew it was a transitory set of descriptions waiting for further developments in science, math, economics, etc…

Economics was still a utilitarian pseudo-science, and still is today, and Schumpeter's continuous curiousity expanded throughout his professional career, you are giving more credence to artificial constructs in the student primers and foundational papers of the age than is reasonable.

I'm exasperated, and it's your show… so the last word is yours.

Yves Smith

This is COMPLETELY disingenuous.

I've discussed this in ECONNED, as has Steve Keen at greater length in his Debunking Economics.

To claim that economics, particularly neoclassical economics (which provides what support there is for libertarian thought), embraces dynamics and Mandelbrot is untrue.

And you have the temerity to cop a "I know better posture".

You've been really treading on my patience. Persistent disinformation is tantamount to trolling. Just because you try to wrap it in technospeak does not change the nature of the beast.

Foppe

this very basic point

Certainly Chaos Theory is really cool and respectability-lending, but could you please state the positive point you are trying to make? It is impossible for me to tell what austrianism according to you *is* about, if the above isn't it.

Equivocation

It is the belief that individuals acting in freedom will make the best utility maximizing decisions.

The key here is freedom. Lack of structural impediments to those decisions and to execute them, including the respect of other individual rights as per Natural Law.

Yves Smith

This is dogma. You are proving Pilkington to be correct. "Freedom" as you define it does not result in optimal social outcomes. And people don't maximize utility. They not only don't choose to, they lack the both the information and the brain capacity to do so. I debunk that in ECONNED.

;PL_2

Well I don't know much but it's clear enough that those beliefs are false, isn't it?

This line of blog post should be titled: 'Libertarianism: Exposed.' They serve to warn libertarian sympathizers, that don't know too much about it.

LeonovaBalletRusse

Your absolute certainty betrays your cult captivity.

jsmith

The theories of Karl Marx are the basis of a cult?

Wow. I mean really.

Coming from the same person who posted here earlier this week that the actions of the ECB WOULDN'T be a bailout of the banks, huh?

It's good to know that a person as immune to "cultish" thinking as Mr. Pilkington claims to be is around to enlighten us about such things.

Daddy, tell us the fable about how the EU elites really are trying to help they citizens of the EU countries again.

Pweeze?

Brother.

Philip Pilkington

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/10/philip-pilkington-my-european-nightmare-%E2%80%93-an-infernal-hurricane-gathers.html

Hmmmmm…

jsmith

For someone to start out a piece claiming that the writings of Marx were merely the Unabomber Manifesto of the 19th century while ignoring the deeper and more nuanced political machinations that created Stalinism in the former Soviet Unions bespeaks of someone arguing beyond their ken and thus trying to equivocate so as to hit "centrist" argumentative paydirt.

Although us Americans don't seem to understand when bankers are being bailed out, we're now all too familiar with triangulation in any form.

jsmith

IOW, if you think libertarianism is a bankrupt pseudo-philosophy then say so directly.

But please don't thin your position by attempting to engage in the neoliberal-esque moral equivalency arguments that we've all grown so incredibly sick of and the fruits of which are the chains of participatory fascism which we now find ourselves straining against.

PL_2

Sometimes I can't tell what people are talking about.

RanDomino

Calling the Marxists, and the Bolsheviks in particular, is really unfair. They were more like a gang.

drugstoreblonde

Raised Mormon (though thankfully an interrogative adolescence begat a free-thinking adulthood), I feel that I have some insight into what makes heavily dogmatic (read: cult) ideologies dangerous to the body politic, and hazardous to the individual spirit.

No matter the phenomenon, no matter the data, no matter the event, these ideologies have a means of denying, explaining and/or assimilating/destroying anything that constitutes a threat to the parochial purview by which they experience the world.

For an ideology that believes in 'evolutionary markets,' libertarianism is surprisingly inflexible, intractable, and dogmatically moribund.

Lew Glendenning

"Money buys power"
+
"People are often untrustworthy"
+
"Political systems are operated by by people and have power"

–> hopeless corruption.

When you geniuses have an answer for that systems-level problem, and can discuss system dynamics as well as you do Keirkegaard, then we can have a discussion with some relevance.

Meanwhile, this is another irrelevancy wrt both Libertarian thought and the current political debate. Most people commenting here are firmly Establishment and intent on defending it. Establishments are Progressive throughout the world.

Progressive thinking : "Pass a law and make the world a better place" + "Elect the right people and give them the power" + "Rule by specialists" has produced the enormous economic and social disasters befalling us.

You guys want it both ways : You want to consider yourselves the 99%, but refuse to acknowledge the entire set of our government, business and social institutions were built by Progressives. No doubt some of those Progressives didn't intend to enrich the 1%, but that was always the inevitable outcome.

Progressives have a lot to answer for. Before this is done, historians will credit them with more deaths than any single dictator in humanities sad history.

Libertarians at least discuss system dynamics.

F. Beard

Libertarians at least discuss system dynamics. Lew G

True. But a gold standard is not the answer. The answer is liberty – in private money creation.

One would think libertarians would know that, wouldn't one?

Reply
  • drugstoreblonde says:

    December 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Libertarians at least discuss system dynamics.

    Yes. But so, too, does Copernican cosmology.

    'Discussing' system dynamics should not be confused with 'accurately describing' system dynamics.

  • drugstoreblonde

    …No doubt some of those Progressives didn't intend to enrich the 1%, but that was always the inevitable outcome…

    Those are some telling teleological assumptions, Lew.

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    Was Reagan a Progressive?

    Susan the other

    In a world where an entrepreneur achieved profit by giving consumers what they wanted and needed at the best price, all manufacturing would have to be ever more specialized. Not ever more advertised and monopolized.

    Steven Bradley

    I have a simplistic view of economics and all the rest.
    1. There is too much complexity in all the theories and the way they are worked out.
    2. None of the "theories" correctly explains human behavior. Human behavior is clearly a mix of good and evil, of selfish and unselfish, of kindness and cruelty. It is just this complexity that makes economic theories worthless. Human behavior is, furthermore, what one might expect from a human being who is made by a Creator, but is flawed and sinful (sorry for the religious perspective, but there it is).
    ~~~~(Huge leap!)~~~
    3. The only way to adequately protect all parties in any transaction (political, economic, social, religious, or all three) is to have adversaries somewhat equally balanced against each other. IF there is an imbalance of power, there WILL be unfairness. It's a given. Hence we see the rise of unions, and so on. However. Once an organization exists, it becomes "big," and then assists in the imbalance, because of Item #2, above.
    4. Human activity is made up of the "BIGS" and the "littles," with the littles being dominated by the BIGS. This is true in families, in society, in politics, and in everything else in the world, and throughout history.
    5. It is impossible to create a utopian society, but if the "BIGS" are balanced against each other, and the "littles" have advocates among the BIGS, a semblance of fairness can exist.
    6. What has happened in our modern world (and in all of history before it), is that groups of "BIGS" have allied with one another through bribes, interlocking interests, political alliances, and so forth, making the voices of the littles of no moment. We vote, and nothing changes. Why? because virtually all of the "representatives of the people" are part of the same system–that of the "BIGS," and they control events in a draconian way to benefit themselves.
    7. How to solve this? Certainly not through a "revolution;" that's been tried, and it turns out that those who revolt do so because they want to be "BIGS." This is quite clear from the 20th century, and the efforts made by the various revolutionaries in the Communist systems–these systems, like many before them, simply disintegrated into an oligarchy, or a near-monarchy.
    The solutions must come from groups of people allying themselves into "balancing organizations," of which "Occupy Wall Street" could have been a part, but is now nothing but a bunch of college kids objecting to current conditions, without any real goals, or "refried radicals" touting the same old solutions that have been tried without success. The Tea Party had some potential, but it's been largely co-opted by the party line from conservative Republicans. So what is needed is an organization that agrees with a set of fair principles, and considers all of us as equals. Sounds disturbingly like a biblical ideal, but there it is.
    Go back to the Old Testament, and you will find the same problems, same complaints, and a single solution: each one of us recognizes that he is "under God" and has a duty both to God and his fellow-man. The New Testament (built on the Old) carries the same view forward, and enhances it in the person of Jesus and his followers. In other words,
    the true answers lie in one's world view, in one's integrity, and in the accountability we must share with each other.

    Lidia

    This just sounds like escapism to me: replacing all the worldly "BIGS" in your life with a BIGGER, more psychopathic -albeit thankfully fictional- "BIG".

    This is exactly the problem: giving "BIGS" the time of day instead of doing all we can to subvert them, laugh them out of the room, or I-can't-remember-the-NC-commenter's-name who keeps wanting to see them frog-marched to the Hague. ;-))

    F. Beard

    albeit thankfully fictional- "BIG". Lidia

    Really? How can one possibly appease an impersonal, unknowing, uncaring and lethal universe?

    Lidia

    "How can one possibly appease an impersonal, unknowing, uncaring and lethal universe?"

    Why would anyone want/need to "appease" the universe?

    The word "appeasement" is already loaded with some sort of impossibly teleological impositions.

    F. Beard

    Why would anyone want/need to "appease" the universe? Lidia

    To survive?

    If there is no Creator then the human race is doomed. With a Creator, we at least have a chance. So why ignore/insult Him? Suicidal are we?

    ;Lidia

    FatBeard: face it: your chances of survival have nothing to do with the presence or non-presence of any fictional "savior".

    Why is *your* survival important in the scheme of things? It simply isn't!

    Religion is the utterly abstract hubristic elevation of a certain sort of human condition, nonsensically, over all other real situations on the face of the planet. Such human condition is predicated upon so many other, baser, conditions that no-one wants to acknowledge, it's to cry/die for.

    Lidia

    Fatbeard, who do you look toward, exactly, to "survive"? If it's to "God" (and to those who follow "God") you know that you are well and rightly fucked.

    If it's instead to the possibly-atheistic socialists who would concede you tomorrow's bread, you might live to comment here another day.

    Lidia

    FB, if there IS a Creator, the human race is doomed nonetheless. How is this particularly redemptive? My born-again sister is eager for our collective demise (in effect MY perdition, and HER exaltation, N.B.).

    The "God" character in the Bible already once willfully killed off 99.999% of life on the planet. This is the creature to whom we are to look for salvation?

    Heh.

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    F. Beard, the only Creator is in your head, its root in your lymbic system, fueled by your testosterone for *survival* - and all the hope, fear, and *faith* that comes with this drive.

    ;mansoor h. khan

    Lidia,

    "doing all we can to subvert them, laugh them out of the room"

    Yes. This is the job that needs to be done over and over and over again by almost each generation. God is an "equal opportunity employer".

    Mansoor H. Khan

    Mike Sax

    It's funny but it has stuck me before that the views of Marx's labor theory of value are in a sense the mirror image opposite of Rand's great Entrepreneur.

    For Marx labor is responsbile for all value, for Rand the entrpreneur is.

    Here's something I wrote recently about this question

    http://diaryofarepublicanhater.blogspot.com/2011/11/karl-marx-vs-ayn-randa-philosphical.html

    Equivocation

    Austrians hold that all labor is entreprenurial (or vice-versa). You chose how to deploy you human capital. Employment is simply chosing to hold a long-term low-return contracts with one client.

    It is a pity more people do not understand this, they would likely realize that employment is not the value maximizing strategy for lifetime earnings.

    F. Beard

    they would likely realize that employment is not the value maximizing strategy for lifetime earnings. Equivocation

    Yet it should be.

    rotter

    "Marxism" is a "cult"?? Where are its worshippers?? Why is it that liberals/neo-liberals like Pilkington feel they must begin an attack on a similar/freindly-to-thier-own crackpot ideology by ritually sacrificing "Marxism"??
    And im definately not one of Pilkington hater-Crusaders- against-the- Catholic-Illuminati that hang out here

    RanDomino

    I've spent entirely too much time in the company of Marxist Parties (ISO, RCP, WWP, SEP, SWP…) and "cult" is exactly the word I've used to describe them. They demand ideological rigidity. They essentially trick people into joining by gradually coaxing them through front groups. They have book studies of their canonical texts (by which I don't mean the Marx originals, or even the works of the Bolsheviks- often they read derivative works that have been written within the last few decades by party members, themselves based off earlier degenerate works, with little if any original research, and given the expected propaganda slant), which has a striking similarity to Bible study groups. I'd suggest you learn about the mechanics of cult social dynamics before claiming Marxists aren't in one!

    jsmith

    Oh, I get it. YOU'VE spent too much time learning that Marxists are cultists ergo WE must also understand that as well.

    I get it.

    Your points are sometimes well explained.

    Lose the pomposity, please.

    rotter

    Also we have to assume that his/her personal judgement in people and "parties" to associate with is completely scientific. Plllpppppllllpppp.nuts.

    be'emet

    putting aside philosophical purities and disputes, what might happen with regulation/taxation that confiscates personal assets exceeding some designated sum. In exchange give the accumulators feudal titles, and lifetime use of a MacMansion, without allowance for staff of servants. Electoral politics ought have some usefulness.

    pointbite

    It's a straw man to equate the market with divinity or something god-like. No libertarian argues the market is perfect or will solve all problems. The "Truth" (with a capital T, as you put it) is that all rational human beings simply argue that heaven on earth is a fantasy. The world has problems. Human nature has problems. There is no system that can establish utopian miracle cures, there can only ever be a series of tradeoffs. The problem with the author of this article and people like him, is a deference to the all mighty cult of human rationalization for things they don't understand… aka, the Fatal Conceit.

    Lidia

    "No libertarian argues the market is perfect or will solve all problems."

    "no libertarian"?

    You're incorrect. I've run into many RWNJ and nominal libertarians who argue exactly that.

    ;Jim

    Here might be a few things to take into consideration when looking at Libertarian theory, Pilkington theory, Yves theory or my theory–from a metatheoretical angle.

    As soon as theory(macrotheory or microtheory) strays from its preoccupation with and awarness of its own limits it devolves into ideology.

    In order to proceed to a level of even provisional closure and to be able to theorize and explain a particular phenomenon, one must engender the illusion that all the returns are in.

    Theorizing is largely negative, it consists of exposing limitations, rather than in clinching positive points.

    What are considered so-called facts seem to constitute low-level theories.

    There always seems to be a collusion of the descriptive and the normative.

    Hayek, Pilkington, Yves or me or any of the commetariat tend to enjoy presenting our respective frameworks with an air of obectivity which tends to conceal a prior normative choice about the market or the state or the society.

    Is the gap between words and things and events closed by acknowledging that there is an ineradicably normative dimension in every "descriptive" formulation?

    What would be a model of political community built on the acceptance of openness(i.e. infinity) rather than closure?

    PL_2

    Excellent.

    EricJ

    I'm not certain whether Libertarianism grew out of economic theory, or whether it looked back to find some justification for itself.

    It seems to me that a main theme in Libertarianism (wish it had a shorter name) is that Government is force, force is bad, therefore government is bad.

    Agreed upon standards are the means we use to judge value and weigh it against our needs. Government is the mechanism we use to develop those standards and make sure they are being kept.

    If one could find a way to reducing all standards of value into a single standard, then government wouldn't be necessary.

    Of course, reducing all standards of value into a single standard is as crazy as deriving time and distance from some arbitrary constant velocity, er, never mind.

    ;Equivocation

    Libertarianism originates in Natural Law as best explained by Bastiat (few Austrians understand this). The legitimate goal of government is providing Justice by protecting Individual Freedoms. This is a very narrow mandate. Due vested interest of politicans and bureaucats Governments slowly expand; ever enroaching and exceed their mandate thereby violating your Liberty. They can only do this because they have the initial public mandate of monopoly of violence / coersion.

    Socialist governments must almost by definition continue to grow in complexity and size and this growth will necessarily invade individual freedoms which will lead to violence and repression. Thereby the Path to Serfdom.

    F. Beard

    I propose an alternative explanation for the growth of government: It grows to ameliorate the damage caused by the government enforced/backed usury and counterfeiting cartel, our banking system.

    Foppe

    Socialist governments must almost by definition continue to grow in complexity and size and this growth will necessarily invade individual freedoms which will lead to violence and repression. Thereby the Path to Serfdom.

    Neat assertion. It sounds rather more like an axiom than like anything falsifiable, though.

    PL_2

    "Socialist governments must almost by definition"

    'Almost' by definition?

    Jardinero1

    "If one could find a way to reducing all standards of value into a single standard, then government wouldn't be necessary."

    But isn't that what government does, try to impose a single standard on all? Markets allow for multiple competing standards without violence or coercion.

    Paul Tioxon

    Marxism did not lead to any evils. It is not because too many people read the wrong books, then misinterpret them and go way overboard in their behavior. It was the evils of the times that lead writers, agitators, free thinkers, scholars to propose reforms. European kingdoms, empires and corrupt rigid class societies which reduced most people to poverty, even during times of productive industrialization, created the fertile revolution, bloody, deadly, overthrowing social orders and leading to a Stalinist Soviet Society, had their origins in the inhumanity of the powerful against the mass of humanity. Does that ring a bell strident 99ers?

    First we are brutally traumatized by one another, then revolt, search for easing of the pain, and finally blame the bold for taking action. Oh no, the revolution has led to unforeseen consequences in the cult of Marxism with all of its attendant horror, arising from the unnecessary dualism of Hegel or some other doctrinal error! Really, if only our philosophy was better written?

    I find it ridiculous to see the small minded, venal middle class libertarian, jealously guarding his wallet against a taxation holocaust where he is forced to pay for education, health care and a modern infrastructure against his will, calling it tyranny, or the horrors of statism, communist version. Oh, so not free, against their will, against nature, against the inherent rights of man.

    What bullshit.

    And to compare the modern liberal welfare state that delivers social programs that you must pay into for the commonwealth of humanity with being forced to go to war, against your will, to be forced off your land, relocated, herded into death camps, against your will, only connects the goods of society with the nightmare of history by the phrase "against my will", hence I must seek a solution from the depredation of government activity, against my will, by coming up with hoakum with the word liberty in it and call my pretext a political philosophy.

    Why don't you just admit you are bunch of self absorbed consumer assholes who do anything for a buck, including tearing down the society, that has been built up by the actions of millions of people before you were ever born. All so you can do your will, to shop for more useless crap that will be eventually divided up after you die and sold on ebay.

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    Ditto.

    PL_2

    Sold on ebay, or just thrown away.

    Matt

    Yet another silly liberal attempt to interpret Marx. As usual, it centers around skepticism concerning the real existence of "value", mainly because it can't be directly measured, and is only indirectly measured through price. Never mind that people everyday use the work "value" in its economic sense, and use it precisely in relation to and in distinction with price – value can't exist because it can't be measured!

    That is because what Marx actually proved, as against Ricardo who actually came up with the scheme analytically, is that "value" defines a SOCIAL RELATION, and social relations, such as between mother and child, etc., are notoriously difficult to measure. That doesn't make them any less real, and it also makes economics as a science a branch of the social sciences, rather than that of the natural sciences as capitalists would like to insist.

    As a pretended natural science, capitalist economics is actually a pseudo-science, pure ideology.

    Of course the typically idealist notion that somehow Karl Marx's critical analysis of capitalism "led directly" to the Gulag in the 20th century is ridiculous on its face. Example: The thoughts of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln "led directly" to the mass murder of many millions of innocent people in the Philippines, Japan, Korea and Vietnam in the 20th century.

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    "between mother and child" - you mean those mothers who ensure the genital mutilation of their daughters, those fathers and mothers who sell their babes into prostitution by any name, into chattel slavery even today?

    Matt

    Philip Pilkington, what a load of rubbish this is!

    Trying to think scientifically about human society is held to be a sign of membership in a cult.

    This attitude – for that is all it is, an ignorant unreflective attitude – is required to believe in the pseudo-science of capitalist economics.

    Fiver

    Categorizing an historical driver as huge as "Marxism" as a cult is just absurd. It was the most powerful set of ideas aimed at freeing the permanently downtrodden developed perhaps since Christ himself, but certainly of the 19th and early 20th centuries. That it played out so poorly was as much as function of the instant, relentless counter-attack of capital it everywhere met, leading straight into the sort of post-revolution, paranoid (with reason) "security first" outcomes we see also see in non-Marxist revolts of all manner and description. Cuba poses zero threat of any kind, yet is STILL the object of endless US misery-making.

    But worse, Marxism and pretty much all it did accomplish through its many social democratic variants, has been all but obliterated NOT by Libertarianism, but by a complex of corporate/financial and technocratic power, operating freely within all key, captured US institutions, and have NOTHING WHATEVER TO DO WITH LIBERTARIANISM. The people currently running things, and very likely will continue to run things, are the "cults" of management, science, technology, military power, in pursuit of the real cults, i.e., "growth" and "progress"

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    Not that either. See "ADAM'S CURSE" by Brian Sykes. This is the eternal cult: "My DNA uber alles forever."

    As to Marx's place in the Global Reich universe, see: "CONJURING HITLER…" by Guido Giacomo Preparata.

    The DNA *power* of Third-Fourth Reichs is the *power* of the Medieval feudal system and the Corporate Feudal System today, the "NOBILITY and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII," the *royal blood* of all totalitarian empires from Genghis Kahn, through the *British East India Company-British Empire* Opium Wars UberLords in the West from Victoria through the Russell Foundation's YALE, Skull and Bones, and Bush's CIA *Security State* from Olde Confederate Holy Roman D.C.

    The *Libertarians* are the fanatic slaves of this *Power*.

    steelhead23

    I tend to agree with Pilkington that the church of libertarianism is a cult. What truly distinguishes this cult is absolutism. That is the real rub. You see, when a libertarian argues that government has no right to control abortion or recreational drug use, I agree with them. When they suggest lassiez faire economics, I wince. I don't know where this absolutism originated, but my guess is that there is a biological tendency for humans to show fealty to their group and it takes intellectual energy to overcome this tendency. Cultist of all stripes are intellectually lazy – or perhaps insecure.

    One last statement. NC is perhaps the very best blog I follow for one simple reason – synthesis. It is not uncommon to see views collide here, but often there is enough curiosity among the bloggers to take seemingly conflicting concepts and find enough commonality to forge an arena of general agreement, or at least grudging acceptance. Y'all enjoy Yves little soiree at Trinity. You are a great bunch of people and I'd love to meet you all. Regrets.

    Lidia

    The particular thing about current "libertarianism" is instead that it weighs in heavily AGAINST autonomy in reproductive activity.

    Aquifer

    Well, can't say as I can offer a cogent critique – but will say that anyone who can include a reference to Campbell, one of my all time favorites, in a critique of Marxism and Libertarianism as cults certainly deserves, IME, a thorough reading and i do appreciate it.

    Has been a good day, for me, on this site ….

    craazyman

    It's amazing how easy it is to use the Albert Camus REBEL iPhone app.

    I just pointed my iPhone camera at Phil's post and the comments, all 161 of them, and then I touched the REBEL app's "Go" button on the screen and it called up this quote. In only 4 seconds! It's an amazing app.

    It's especially useful for lazy people who don't want to have to paw through books for that special apropos passage. Who has time for that? What a waste. That's so 20th century and we're already almost at 2012. Pretty soon it'll be the 22nd century and then what? I don't know, personally.

    "But total freedom is no more easy to conquer than individual freedom. To ensure man's empire over the world, it is necessary to suppress in the world and in man everything that escapes the Empire, everything that does not come under the reign of quantity: and this is an endless undertaking. The Empire must embrace time, space, and people, which compose the three dimensions of history. It is simultaneously war, obscurantism, and tyranny, desperately affirming that one day it will be liberty, fraternity, and truth; the logic of its postulates obliges it to do so."

    -Albert Camus, THE REBEL, Totality and Trials

    And while everyone is on the topic of the ascendancy of the absolute and the tyranny of the strangulation of the mono-whatever, It may be that an iPHone app can solve the libertarian fixation by providing a substitute fetish of thinking upon which the mentality can lean and peacefully rest itself. The entire project is one of leisure. Thinking can be so tiring and anything that avoids it is a great monument of efficiency.

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    Yes, the *Cliff's Notes* to literature 2012.

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    This is why Ayn Rand moved to *America* by Hollywood. Our soil and *prepared people* have attract and created cultists since the beginning. Hence, we are greatly at risk of disaster from cults and their fanatic strivers. SEE:

    "THE PURSUIT OF THE MILLENIUM: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages" by Norman Cohn;

    "SACRED CAUSES: The Clash of Religion and Politics, From the Great War to the War on Terror" by Michael Burleigh;

    "STALKING IRISH MADNESS: Searching for the Roots of My Family's Schizophrenia" by Patrick Tracey;

    "THE FAMILY: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power" by Jeff Sharlett;

    "SACRED MATTERS: Celebrity Worship, Sexual Ecstasies, The Living Dead, And Other Signs of Religious Life in the United States" by Gary Laderman;

    "METAPOLITICS: The Roots of the Nazi Mind" by Peter Viereck.

    The U.S.A. is fertile ground for totalitarian cults.

    Lidia

    Just as Hayek was lured to the US by reassurances that Social Security would take care of him in his Golden Years.

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    Yes, Lidia, the hypocrisy goes with the *affectation of innocence* that shields the cult striver.

    JTFaraday

    "By now we are far outside the realm of anything even remotely resembling a science of 'value'. What we have instead is a vast metaphysical and moral system that is built around a very specific – not to mention very narrow – conception of value, together with a sort of existential appendage in the form of the hero-entrepreneur"

    This straight from the poopy diaper baby and the newest member of the MMT heroic policy-entrepreneur cult, which manages to reduce all value down to keystrokes in one centralized office, an imperializing reduction so grand even Lloyd Blankfein hasn't (quite) managed to conjure it up in his fevered imagination. (Yet).

    Very Wizard of Oz.

    "the cult of Reason that Robespierre erected in revolutionary France upon the intellectual architecture that Jean-Jacques Rousseau had constructed for him. All of these cults espouse liberty and freedom and end up creating regimes of pure tyranny. Why? Because in their violent desire to turn reality into a Utopia, they stamp all over reality as it fails to conform to the images in their minds."

    You get this from Rousseau? Have you read Rousseau?

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    Rousseau did inspire Robespierre, Q.E.D.

    LeonovaBalletRusse

    The real question is WHY has the topic of *Libertarianism* through the eyes of Pilkington been dominating the conversation, monopolizing the time, of NC participants?

    What is the Proper Libertarian Response to Concentrated Corporate Power " naked capitalism

    August 28, 2010

    Tao Jonesing

    A quick follow-up.

    The tagline of your book captures the hallmark of neoliberalism (aka modern libertarianism of the mises.org type), which is "unenlightened self interest."

    The fact is that the founders of neoliberalism wrapped the concept of liberty around rentierism to mask the bitterness of the pill. Most neoliberals (aka self-identifying libertarians) are earnest followers so enamored of the rhetoric that they don't understand the reality any more than Lenin's followers did. This should come as no surprise in view of the fact that Rothbard urged adopting Leninist propaganda techniques to create true believers to form the core of the neoliberal movement. (Google "Rothbard Confidential Memo Volcker Fund.")

    What you will hear from these true believers, who I call Pavlov's serfs because they salivate whenever their liberty bell is rung, is that monopolies can never arise in a free market economy but for the intervention of the state, and that monopolies cannot survive but for continued state intervention. (This is what Rothbard and Greenspan said, at least.) In my experience in business, I cannot agree with either point. Historically, monopolies arose within a pure laissez-faire environment. And please explain Intel and Microsoft. Once a monopoly becomes entrenched, they can stamp out all competition through anti-competitive means because their monopolist profits can mask losses in other lines of business.

    Blissex

    "The answer to your question depends entirely on what version of libertarianism (aka neoliberalism) is operative."

    Indeed, and to put it another way, which is quite important.

    Most libertarianism can be interpreted on two levels.

    Tao Jonesing

    Antitrust suits are brought by the executive, not congress.

    The power imbalance was initially created by Reagan and his policy of avoiding any real oversight of business combinations. This led to the concentration of monopolistic power.

    To be fair, nobody after Reagan, Democrat or Republican, reversed his policy.

    Only after the monopolistic power was created did it have the opportunity to influence the congress to make laws to perpetuate it.

    Even if power can be tolerated within free market open rules (I think it can be tolerated only to the point at which it does not retard competition), it cannot be tolerated if it perverts our representative democracy. The neoliberal vision of "free markets" is completely at odds with the U.S. Constitution and the American way of life.

    Foppe

    August 28, 2010 at 2:54 am

    Robert Nozick would have said that 'their position of power is historically based, so we have no right as a society to intervene, as that would be an assault upon their liberties' (esp. relevant if you call corps 'persons')
    The lesson to draw being that libertarians have no useful answer to abuse of power; as most will also believe in the courts system, and thus argue that 'he with the most lawyers/who gives the most campaign contributions' wins.

    attempter

    August 28, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Ah, there's a question calculated to measure the level of insanity and/or cowardly lying among these persons.

    The basic response is likely to be either denial that corporate tyranny exists or is bad at all, or else one or another version "let them eat cake" idiocy.

    An ideological whore like Robert Nozick would sit there with a straight face and say in a world with "no government" (meaning direct dictatorship of big corporations), shrimp fisherman would get together and "negotiate" a mutually beneficial "solution" with BP.

    To give a better idea of what Nozick really wanted, he also wanted to replace the police (in theory at least accountable to the public) with corporate death squads like Blackwater. He claimed to think if a town hired a death squad and it responded with oppression and running a protection racket, the town would simply not renew the contract and hire a different death squad (who would presumably be more conscientious about the "liberty" of the unarmed, untrained people who hired it) while the first meekly accepted its fate as an ex-contractor and peacefully moved along.

    No amount of experience of history, no amount of evidence, will ever move the economic "libertarian" from this fraudulent position. Just as no amount of evidence will ever get him to admit that the criminal who was born on third did not hit a triple.

    That's because he's either a kind of flat-earther, or more commonly libertarianism, including in its social and anti-police varieties, is a stalking horse for plutocracy and the direct dictatorship of big corporations.

    Of course it's incoherent on its face to be opposed, on grounds of liberty, to excessive power in governmental structures but not in private structures. The libertarian really seems to be saying that if corporate goons rape and enslave him, it's not as bad as if government goons do. (And never mind that whatever today's government does is done in the service of corporate power.)

    And then there's the incoherency of claiming to want only voluntaristic actions, which implies great decentralization of all power, wealth, and political and economic infrastructure, while still wanting massively concentrated endeavors which by definition can never be done on a non-coercive basis.

    In the previous thread here I pointed out the example of how Stalinesque gigantist projects like offshore drilling seem impossible to do without coercing lots of capital and externalized risk. I said that in principle it can't be done according to the premise of "libertarianism". As I expected, the responses to that were incoherent. (To be fair, that's one point on which many anarchists seem also to be weak, since they too seem prone to self-contradictory urges toward big techno-projects.)

    The real freedom-seeker knows there can never be freedom where crime is allowed to run rampant, and there can never be freedom where any kind of organization (including any large individual wealth hoard), government or private, is allowed to attain large size and concentration of power and wealth. These things are existential assaults on freedom. Not just threats, but assaults. Once you have one such power concentration the best you can do is try to set up a countervailing one. Thus the good civics type says government, which in theory is accountable to the public, can perform the valuable service of restraining corporate power, which is by definition sociopathic.

    It's true, this can sometimes be a stage of the war of attrition corporations wage against the people. But in the end it will always end up the same way, kleptocracy.

    The only solution is for the people to use public power to wipe out private tyranny toward the goal of true human freedom. Once we don't need the government as a counterweight then it too can be tremendously devolved, since the only real rationale for big government in the first place was to protect the people against private gangsters.

    So anyone who truly wants small government has to want relocalized government in a world purged of corporate tyranny. Anyone who claims otherwise really wants us all to be the slaves of these corporations.

    Paul Sandforth

    August 28, 2010 at 3:28 am

    Bob Goodwin's got a really good answer.

    Libertarians LIKE a free market. If one firm reaches a monopolistic position and that monopoly persists, you won't have a free market. They are not necessarily corporatists.

    It's a common misconception that Libertarians are in favor of things (free market) as well as those all of those things' possible negative consequences (monopoly).

    A Democrat created the Welfare system. It's a well intentioned thing designed to help people. There are also abusers. Republicans often make the mistake of assuming that all Democrats -like- this.

    Many Republicans backed one or two wars started by Bush. A number of Democrats actually believe that all of those supporters are quite pleased that atrocities have occurred, or friendly fire events, or that so many innocents have lost their lives.

    Libertarians get off a lot easier (it's usually economic and not related to death), but it's the same thing. (They also have an added burden: that whatever nutball thing that any ONE of them believes, Democrats and Republicans think ALL of them believe it.)

    does not compute

    "They also have an added burden: that whatever nutball thing that any ONE of them believes, Democrats and Republicans think ALL of them believe it."

    "It's a common misconception that Libertarians are in favor of things (free market) as well as those all of those things' possible negative consequences (monopoly)."

    So, you can or cannot speak for the collective known as "libertarian"? How does one get permission? Who determines who the nutballs are?

    If you are the arbiter of nutball, what happens if you become nutball?

    Owe Jessen

    August 28, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Have a look at Galbraiths theory of countervailing power.

    MarcVdB

    August 28, 2010 at 3:34 am

    This is very much like asking sex-advice from the pope.

    There are no corporations that behave in an inappropriate way in the true libertarian world. Because then these corporations wouldn't be truly libertarian, you see?

    Problem solved.

    attempter

    Corporartions are of course a purely artificial creation of big, aggressive government, and could never exist at all other than to the extent big aggressive government is there to act as their thug and bagman.

    So a true libertarian, if he really opposed all aggressive manifestations of government power, would agree that incorporation shouldn't exist, at least not in anything remotely like the form it became starting in the 19th century.

    i on the ball patriot says:

    "Corporartions are of course a purely artificial creation of big, aggressive government, and could never exist at all other than to the extent big aggressive government is there to act as their thug and bagman."

    Corporations are NOT the creation of big aggressive government.

    Corporations are a result of greedy, elite, and unfaithful groups of people forsaking their alliance to a government they have outwardly committed to uphold as member citizens, and then co-opting and using the institutions of that same government that they have forsaken for their own private gain. It is a 'hijacking of government' process not a 'created by government' process.

    The private sector vs government sector argument is a four D creation of Mr. Global Propaganda - it is a Deflective, Decoy, Divisive, Deception. It is just another bullshit scam.

    'Big' government is not the problem, aggregate generational corruption of government is the problem, and it is a global problem. The Libertarian vs other isms is also a now formula four D - Deflective, Decoy, Divisive, Deception - energy dissipating scam.

    Government is an alliance of all citizens. Its size is not as important as its fairness in balancing the needs of the individual with the needs of the group. Self interest includes group interest, group interest includes individual interest.

    Those that selfishly destroy the alliance of the group and the health of the total group organism (through whatever scam) by being elite, deceptive, selfish, and taking too much income and controlling too much asset wealth should be severely punished in proportion to the depth of their crimes.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    Jake

    What is the proper caveman's response to jet aircraft? What is the proper ant's response to a man's shoe?

    Libertarianism seeks a world in which the people cannot limit the economic activities of private actors, a world in which capitalism is free to operate essentially without rules. This assumes an historical, interim step in the development of capitalism-the natural first step (division of labor) but not the natural second step (concentration of the means of production in firms that grow to rise above competition and realize economies of scale). When certain private actors gain power as the result of concentration and can dictate rules to the rest of the private sector, libertarianism is impaled upon its own contradictions (we seek "freedom" from the "tyranny" of the people in order to succumb to the tyranny of certain people). When concentrated corporate power exists, libertarianism has been superseded.

    Che Guernica

    Please remind me – are there ANY isms that don't require people not to be people for their fundamental tenets to work?

    CoinKoin

    Evolutionism ?

    Cujo359

    Too bad no libertarians came by to answer this question.

    Danny

    Well, some libertarians are obviously pro large corporations. Others see corporations as a dangerous (but unstable) concentrations of power, whose best method of survival is to devote their energies to capturing and exploiting the coercive power of the State. Without that co-opting of state power, they would be much more vulnerable to competitive pressure. I guess the key point here is that theybwould disagree with your assertion that a monopoly can continue to make windfall profits before somebody starts working out ways to bypass (or redirect) those additional costs to obtain a more efficient product. Markets never exist on their own

    So, historically, for instance, companies that attempt to use their monopolistic power like Standard Oil end up growing too large, and the inefficiencies of scale (which do kick in eventually) begin to eat away at their profits, allowing smaller competitors to enter their market – unless that market is "stabilized" in some way by regulatory oversight (which libertarians would argue is always captured by those same corporate interests).

    The best description of this counterintuitive idea for readers unsympathetic to the modern rightist presentation of libertarian ideas may be in left historian Gabriel Kalko's Triumph of Conservatism, which investigates how early corporate regulation in the progressive era, both "pro business" and "anti", ended up locking in the very large combines it sort to dismantle (that's where I found the Standard Oil example). The modern equivalent more familiar to Naked Capitalism readers would be in the financial sector, where large bailouts preserve the very corporations whose overweening power caused the market problems in the first place.

    John Merryman

    I think the main issue we need to face is that Capitalism and free markets are not synonymous. A market needs a medium of exchange. If that medium is run by private entities, for private entities, those entities control the rest of the market.

    Political power started as private enterprise, what we would call warlords today and eventually gentrified into monarchy. When monarchs lost sight of the fact that their purpose was to guide their people, as opposed to simply exploiting them, they tended to be overthrown and eventually the whole system of hierarchal power was replaced by political power as a public trust. Democracy works by pushing power down to the level it is responsive. If we were to make banking a public function, it would also be bottom up. Local credit unions would use local deposits to loan to local enterprises and use the profits to fund local needs. They would then form regional banks for broader investments.

    In a debt based system, it is ultimately the desire of the borrower to accept the interest rate proffered which creates money. Three hundred years ago this was a pretty smart idea, since there were few economic measures to determine the money supply and debt grows at roughly the same rate as productivity. The problem is that production must increase to pay off debt and debt must finance increase to productivity. If this feedback loop gets jammed, debts are not paid off and value evaporates. Since those with accumulated assets do not like this to happen, the legal deck is stacked against borrowers.

    Unfortunately that does not change the fact that it is the borrowers who are the economic engine which utilizes the assets of those with money to lend. The demand side supports the supply side. Over the course of the last thirty years, this softening of demand for capital, relative to supply, has been masked by increasing government borrowing, lowered loan standards and the creation of enormous circulation bubbles that are really no more than complex forms of wagering. The existence of these speculative forms of demand have also enabled an enormous increase in the supply of capital, borrowed into existence because the interest rates charged are lower than the asset bubbles are appreciating. This is a financial bubble of nuclear proportions. Capitalism is drowning in capital, thanks to the liquidity providers.

    Since money is drawing rights to productivity, the question is how to formulate a viable and healthy production based currency system. Money serves as a store of value and a medium of exchange. As a store of value, it is private property, but as a medium of exchange, it is a public utility. As property, there is the desire to accumulate as much as possible, but as a medium of exchange, more money than production degrades the value of the money. Money isn't really a form of property, though, as we don't own the copyrights and its value is controlled by whomever issues it.

    Consider the value to the banks and government though, if the belief is encouraged that it was a form of private property. As a form of trust and value, it becomes incorporated into every aspect of our economic transactions and interpersonal relationships. Which makes our lives that much more taxable.

    Money should only be treated as a public utility. In that way, it would be similar to a road system. You own your car, house, business, etc. but not the roads connecting them and no one seriously cries socialism over that. Treating money as form of public commons would make people very careful what value they would take from social relations and environmental resources to convert into currency in the first place. This would be healthy for society, the environment and the monetary system. Of course, it would create a slower, but more sustainable economy. We all like having roads, but there is little inclination to pave more than we need. If we applied the same principle to money, life would be in better shape. Instead of valuing ourselves by how big our bank accounts are, our sense of worth would be on how strong our community is and how healthy our environment is. A smaller money supply would go a long way to limiting the size of the government and the banking system.

    The financial system has not simply bought off the politicians. It controls the system in which they function. Consider the process of government financing: The system is designed to overspend by buying votes with pork barrel spending, for enormous bills that can only be passed or vetoed. This serves to create debt in order to store capital, as government debt is the primary investment vehicle.

    So the reason our government seems to increase in size so dramatically under Republicans, who preach financial conservatism, is not so hard to understand, when you consider the extent to which this increased debt is bought by their benefactors. Should the government ever declare bankruptcy, it's safe to say they would then feel legally empowered to asset strip public properties.

    It's the old bankster ploy of extending credit, withholding it and then using the money they control to buy up assets at distressed prices.

    As any child on an allowance knows, budgeting is to list ones needs and desires, then only buy what one has the money to spend. In the spirit of actual budgeting, a possible method for the government would be to break the spending bills down to their constituent items and have every legislator assign a percentage value to each item and then re-assemble them in order of preference. The president would draw the line at what would be funded. This would divide responsibility, allowing the legislature to prioritize, while giving the president final authority over total spending. Since making the cut would be graded on a curve, there would be much less incentive to trade favors and the percentage system would allow legislators to fine tune their granting of favors to other legislators and lobbyists. As the particular items on the line would have a far smaller constituency than those being asked to fund them, there would be limited political motivation to overspend. A local public banking system would cover much of the lost federal funding of local projects.

    greg b

    Interesting post

    I agree with much of your analysis but I disagree with at least one of your prescriptions, a smaller money supply.

    I think a larger money supply is needed.

    It is in concentrations of wealth and savings, and the belief that these savings are entitled to some predetermined rate of return, that we are stumbling, I think. The efforts of those today must be greater and greater in order to keep the returns to those "forgoers of consumption" from yesterday. Those who decide not to buy something today should not expect that that which they decide not to buy will be available tomorrow, more to the point, the amount of money (cost) saved should in no way be guaranteed to be equivalent to afford a future purchase of the forgone good or basket of goods. We simply must realize that nothing in this universe retains its original value. If you dont buy it today, you may not get it, for the same cost anyway.

    So, the way forward on this is to tell people who want to consume presently, Here is the money you need to do so. This will erode the value of the savers (hoarders) because they will no longer feel secure that they will have all they want later (which is a completely irrational belief anyway). Then we can get down to determining how present consumption gets divided. And we can start being concerned with real savings, savings of resources.

    If you want to save fine, but don't expect a pat on the back and praise. In addition don't expect everyone else to work harder down the road to assure the return on your savings.

    Lets make accumulation more of a vice than a virtue.

    DownSouth

    Insightful and thought provoking commentary, but I disagree with a couple of points.

    The warlords didn't gentrify into monarchy, but into feudal lords or aristocracy. With the advent of the monarchy, there was a tension that developed between the monarch and the feudal lords. The monarchs would eventually prevail, and thus the birth of the nation-state.

    The commoners eventually got a place at the table, as did the new guys on the block (beginning in the 16th century), the new business class or bourgeoisie.

    So four poles of power were eventually to develop: the monarch, the aristocracy, the commoners and the bourgeoisie. Each vied and competed with the other three in various power sharing relationships and arrangements.

    Inherent in capitalism is the utopian vision that political power can somehow be divorced from economic power. The comments of Blissex (see comment above) illustrate just how nonsensical this notion is.

    Blissex then goes on to say that "liberty of contract" favours WINNERS and punishes LOSERS. If only the world were so simple. Who is a "winner" and who is a "loser" is in large part determined by who possesses political power. Of course in the make-believe world of the libertarian, the power of the state plays no role. It's a utopian fantasy that exists only in the mind of the libertarian.

    Up until a few years ago the government had quite a bit of control over the creation of debt. However, with the advent of the shadow banking system, much of that control has been lost to the private sector. I think the concept of making money strictly a "medium of exchange" has its merits. I also believe that "making banking a public function" has its merits. But in order to achieve either of these it would entail the government flexing its muscle to regain control over the debt creation business, something that is antithetical to the libertarian credo. So your argument sidesteps the conflict that exists between those who favor more government control and the libertarians.

    George

    Principles-based, rigorously enforced campaign and political finance reform! Many (e.g. Fox) wouldnt even be here if they hadn't engineered the rules to ensure that playing by them would be minimally risky! imho.

    Ellen1910

    "Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs."

    skippy

    Libertarian…is like halloween candy with a razor blade inserted in side. It promises sweet rewards…till you bite into it and find its true potential…individualism for the sake of it…with out regards to the commons…till it ravages it and the commons decide to bite back…then it cries foul…other telling it how it must behave.

    Skippy…in the military we called them buddy Fk'ers…always looking out for them selves and not the team.

    i on the ball patriot

    i on the ball, Five Star, Ten Diamond, Extra Pithy, Right Effing On, comment award to you!

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    W.C. Varones

    End Too Big To Fail, and reduce the scope of government to reduce the ability to give more favored market position to the already powerful.

    Then let big business compete on a level playing field. Google and Amazon and Wal-Mart seem to be doing a pretty good job.

    eightnine2718281828mu5

    How do libertarians propose to respond to the power of large enterprises?
    -

    They plan on submitting resumes.

    greg b

    August 28, 2010 at 9:43 am

    "How do libertarians propose to respond to the power of large enterprises?
    -

    They plan on submitting resumes."

    OUTSTANDING comment!

    DojiStar

    Well, I would think the first libertarian response should be that the powers of government should be so limited and constrained that there is no point to lobbying for influence or legislation because the government lacks the ability to do anything to help you. That takes care of part of the problem (e.g. banks and the financial collapse handouts). Whether such a limited government is practically achievable for more than 100 years or so is another issue - probably not, it doesn't seem like people want that.

    Secondly, I think die-hard libertarians would say that natural quasi-monopolies are fine (but they would be bitterly opposed to government-sanctioned ones). There doesn't need to be a legal mechanism to break them up; they won't last forever. Standard Oil was brought up several times here. Their status would have been greatly diminished in 10 years after the breakup anyway after the discovery of massive East Texas oilfields, over which Standard (and their child companies) had no control, not to mention increasing Caspian and Dutch East Indies output and so on. Freedom of contract is freedom of contract; it may have some consequences but it is a deontological good in and of itself.

    There are plenty of Ron Paul videos floating around out there now, but this is as good an introduction to the man as you'll find. It's an interview with Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto, hours before Paul's news-making encounter at the last GOP debate with Rudy Giuliani. Cavuto has an hour of airtime each day in which he drones on about how great the American economy is doing; Paul takes him down on that score in 30 seconds.

    And note how Paul believes that the economy can be fixed only once the Iraq war stops bleeding the economy dry. Paul is the only candidate who knows what James Madison knew:

    "Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

    Economist's View

    There are quite a lot of fake Libertarians out their: Greenspan is classic example of fake -- how someone who claim to be a libertarian can survive 18 years as Fed chairmen -- real Politburo member style position (unelected party functionary appointed to top government job for personal reasons)

    In my heart of hearts, I'm pretty libertarian. I really don't want government looking over my shoulder and telling me what I can and cannot do.

    Where I part with many libertarians - perhaps due to my background - is in the idea that government is almost always at odds with liberty. In my case, government played a key role in providing me with opportunity - education is one example, without tuition of $100 per semester at a state school, I probably would not have gone to college - but the opportunities government provided me go beyond education (and also see the examples given in the article for women and minorities).

    Governments also need to intervene to prevent monopoly and political power from building up. Without such interventions, power will tend to concentrate and we will likely be exploited in one way or another, so government needs to ensure that our opportunity to enter a particular business - that our economic opportunities generally - are not limited by these factors.

    I'm doing this in a bit of a rush (during a seminar, but don't tell), so one more quick point. I was very disappointed in the silence from many libertarians when the Bush administration was taking away, one by one, many of the liberties we enjoy. It was hard not to conclude that for many, the label of libertarian is simply an excuse to be concerned with little more than their own pocketbook.

    In any case, I agree with much of what Bruce Bartlett has to say:

    Liberaltarians?, by Bruce Bartlett, Commentary, Forbes: I recently attended a dinner with a group of prominent liberal and libertarian bloggers to see if there is a community of interest that might lead to closer cooperation on some issues.

    On the surface, there would appear to be potential for an alliance. Libertarians tend to be liberal on social issues, favoring such things as gay marriage and drug legalization; and also liberal on defense and foreign policy, opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and opposing torture and restrictions on civil liberties in the name of national security.

    But libertarians are conservative on economic policy--favoring a free market with virtually no government intervention except the enforcement of contracts, and no government spending or taxes except those to pay for a very minimal police force and military.

    Libertarians' views on social policy and national defense make them sympathetic to the Democrats, while their views on economic policy tend to align them with the Republicans. If one views social, defense and economic policy as having roughly equal weight, it would seem, therefore, that most libertarians should be Democrats. In fact, almost none are. Those that don't belong to the dysfunctional Libertarian Party are, by and large, Republicans.

    The reason for this is that most self-described libertarians are primarily motivated by economics. In particular, they don't like paying taxes. They also tend to have an obsession with gold and a distrust of paper money. As a philosophy, their libertarianism doesn't extent much beyond not wanting to pay taxes, being paid in gold and being able to keep all the guns they want. Many are survivalists at heart and would be perfectly content to live in complete isolation on a mountain somewhere, neither taking anything from society nor giving anything.

    An example of this type of libertarian thinking can be found on the Web site of a group called the Campaign for Liberty. It pays lip service to the libertarian philosophy on foreign and social policy, but says little about them. The discussion of economic policy, however, is much greater. But its only major proposal is abolition of the income tax. No ideas on how government spending would be cut to make this possible are put forward except to eliminate the congressional pay raise. Perhaps this group really believes that will be enough to abolish the income tax, but I suspect not. Whoever wrote these talking points is simply pandering to the stupid, the ignorant and the unsophisticated.

    One is not likely to run into that type of libertarian at a Washington dinner party. These libertarians tend to be well-educated, arriving at his or her philosophy through reading obscure books or random contact with some libertarian in graduate school. They don't own guns--probably never even fired one, don't mind paying taxes too much, have no particular nostalgia for the gold standard and certainly would not choose to live in isolation on a mountaintop. They are cosmopolitan, urbane, articulate and interested in ideas more than just about anything else. They are not especially career-oriented--they are happy to be paid less than they probably could make as long as they don't have to compromise their principles and can do work that advances the cause. For the most part, they aren't family-oriented or religious, and they mostly fit the stereotype of a nerd.

    But even these metro-libertarians tend to be more concerned about economics than social or foreign policy. The Cato Institute publishes an annual survey of economic freedom throughout the world, but produces no surveys of what countries have the most political or social freedom or those that have the most libertarian foreign policy.

    Randall Parker says...

    Libertarians put economic issues first because taxes are a form of partial slavery. Rather than working full time as a slave for some slave owner we effectively work as part time slaves.

    Slavery is a civil liberties issue. So there's really not a division between a focus on economics issues and civil liberties issues.

    As for Bush taking away our liberties: Nobody locked me up for what I said on blogs. I do not think my phone was tapped. Police didn't threaten to throw me in jail without a trial by my peers.

    Furthermore: What is morally wrong with being concerned with one's own pocketbook?

    Speaking as a non-libertarian: Where I differ with libertarians is over external costs. I see lots more external costs than they do. I see low skilled immigrants as posing huge costs. I see coal electric power plants as posing huge costs. I want fewer external costs imposed on me. I see those costs as just as important as taxes in terms of reducing my liberty.

    Posted by: Randall Parker | Link to comment | May 29, 2009 at 12:25 PM

    spencer says...

    The liberal and the libertarian concept of freedom is very different.

    To be nice, the libertarian concept of freedom is something you buy. It is like the old comment about the law in its majesty banning the rich as well as the poor from sleeping under the bridges.

    To be rude, it is the freedom of capital to exploit labor.

    I constantly see libertarians making arguments for the freedom of capital, but I never see them making arguments about the freedom of labor.

    What I see is the libertarian answer for everything is cheap labor. They will net be happy until they turn the US into Bangladesh.

    I know I'm being extreme, but I believe I'm being fair.

    Drew Colston says...

    I have described myself for over 20 years as a "populist libertarian", and like Ron Paul, I was telling everyone who would listen how bad the Patriot Act, Iraq War & etc. were the entire time of Bush. I also refused to vote for, or donate to, anyone who voted for TARP. All of the libertarian leaning people I know were complaining about it and the only reasons you didn't hear it was because the media did not report it, or you were not listening.

    Your statement on conservatives thinking women should be happy wives and mothers shows you as either myoptic & naive, or arrogant & bigoted. That opinion may be true in some small, ultra-traditional KJV churches and the like, but I do not know any conservatives who think that way. It is a time-warped, brazen generalization with no basis in modern reality.

    Patricia Shannon says...

    Their guns are made by others. The metal for the guns are mined by others. The gunpowder is manufactured by others. If you put them naked in a wilderness, almost none would survive long.

    hapa says...

    bruce bartlett, seated in a liberal-built lifeboat, wearing a liberal-built lifejacket, watching the "SS Galt" sink behind him, declares that liberals have something to learn about the shipping business, and hopes for peace

    Turbo says...

    It's tough being a liberal libertarian in America these days. Believing taxes should be kept to moderate levels puts one in league with the neocon and religious right wingnuts.

    Believing by and large in freedom of choice on social issues puts one in league with liberals who seek to limit choice to their politically correct constructs.

    And neither political party has any sense whatsoever of financial responsibility, hence the libertarian bent towards mountain retreats and stockpiling gold.

    Peter K. says...

    Thoma:
    "Governments also need to intervene to prevent monopoly and political power from building up. Without such interventions, power will tend to concentrate and we will likely be exploited in one way or another, so government needs to ensure that our opportunity to enter a particular business - that our economic opportunities generally - are not limited by these factors."

    I am a liberaltarian, but I am also a "liberal interventionist" or "liberal hawk" where I think it's not bad for the government to intervene against genocidal dictatorships like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or Bosian or Darfur or the Taliban, etc.

    Just as with monopolies, the government must take the regrettable step of intervening in order to forestall a much worse scenerio.

    Old-timey conservatives/isolationsts are against foreign intervention b/c they see it as liberal social work which won't work b/c of the inferority of dusky foreigners. Why waste our time/money on them?

    Then of course there are pacifists who believe war will cause more harm than good, which can be true depending on the case.

    Beezer says...

    We Americans are all masters of reinvention.

    Libertarians believe they are being practical when it comes to money but don't consider community in the bargain. They bought Adam Smith hook line and sinker, not realizing Smithites don't have a "catch and release" program.

    Mark points out what is obvious to most ordinary folks: Government and community values have an important role in improving man's lot in life. Claiming that the world operates otherwise is to be, as conservatives are so fond of saying about liberals, "willfully ignorant."

    Our Democratic, capitalist world now struggles coming to terms with what we have not been able to do: Create and plan national goals aimed at enhancing everyone's lot in life.

    We have the tools already. We need not toss them aside wholesale. But they do need some serious tinkering. Another round of reinvention coming up.

    sewells says...

    Patricia Shannon, well I'm one I guess. I spent a couple of years in the jungles of SA recovering gold from a river. I did nearly starve to death the first couple of months as leaf cutter ants destroyed almost all my food I'd packed in.

    However, I found I got along with the locals very well. Where others were paying appox. $2 a day for packing supplies, I paid approximately $8. I knew how hard the work was as I was doing a lot of it myself and I couldn't bring myself to pay less than 400% of the prevailing wage.

    After they got to know me a bit, hastened by treating them fairly and with respect, they showed me where the best gold was in the river. We immediately formed a co-op and I donated my equipment to it to pay my way into the society they had already built up and invested in (not a trivial matter as it was approx 20K worth of equipment). We made very good $. I also taught them how to recover with gravity methods that did not necessitate the poisonous uses of mercury that they had been ubiquitous prior to my arrival.

    As far as I know, they are still going today.

    We were so far into the jungle that we never saw a government official the entire time I was there.

    I know libertarian ideas can be misused. But, they don't have to be.

    You just have to keep in mind that no one has more rights than anyone else does and that everyone has to be treated fairly.

    Not only did a get a lot of gold from it, but they also saved my life on more than one occasion and vice versa.

    Posted by: sewells | Link to comment | May 29, 2009 at 01:51 PM

    bakho says...

    Nothing like the "self-made man"

    The concept has had broad appeal to Americans ever since Ben Franklin created and marketed himself as the ideal self-made man.

    Frederick Douglass had a better perspective:

    "Properly speaking, there are in the world no such men as self-made men."

    It must in truth be said though it may not accord well with self-conscious individuality and self-conceit, that no possible native force of character, and no depth or wealth of originality, can lift a man into absolute independence of his fellow-men, and no generation of men can be independent of the preceding generation. - Frederick Douglass

    bakho says...

    A woman overheard her boss bragging, "Yes indeed. I'm a self-made man".

    She was heard muttering under her breath, "And all this time I was blaming God for him."

    bakho says...

    Great metaphor hapa

    The SS Galt hits the iceberg. Indeed.

    Patricia Shannon says...

    Randall Parker says...

    Libertarians put economic issues first because taxes are a form of partial slavery. Rather than working full time as a slave for some slave owner we effectively work as part time slaves.

    Slavery is a civil liberties issue. So there's really not a division between a focus on economics issues and civil liberties issues.

    As for Bush taking away our liberties: Nobody locked me up for what I said on blogs. I do not think my phone was tapped. Police didn't threaten to throw me in jail without a trial by my peers.

    Furthermore: What is morally wrong with being concerned with one's own pocketbook?
    =================================
    To think that taxes are the worst form of slavery is at best ignorant, a sign of a wimpy person who has led a sheltered, cushy life. It is a crazy statement.

    It seems like you don't mind the government taking away other people's freedom, just your own. Typical.

    The moral issues is when someone is only concerned with their own pocketbook and doesn't care about others welfare.

    Samis says...

    Libertarianism is the Marxism of the Right (not my line).

    http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/mar/14/00017/

    The Selfish Hegemon Must Offer a New Deal on Trade

    August 20, 2008 | Economist's View

    Jagdish Bhagwati in the Financial Times:

    The selfish hegemon must offer a New Deal on trade, by Jagdish Bhagwati, Commentary, Financial Times: ...On the back of economic anxiety in the country, many in both political parties (although far more among Democrats) see freer trade now as a costly giveaway to others at the expense of the US. They ask: "What is in it for me?" Only an agenda for institutional change, one that addresses the true causes of the anxiety in the US today, has a chance of returning trade policy to sanity. ...

    The US has ... muscled in to its ... trade agreements (nearly all with small, developing nations) conditions unrelated to trade at the expense of their partner nations. Thus a country that is hardly an exemplar on labour rights, where the right to strike has been severely restrained since the Taft-Hartley legislation more than half a century ago, where union membership in the private sector has declined to less than 10 per cent of the labour force, and which has not ratified all the International Labour Organisation's core conventions, has had the effrontery to impose standards on others... Why?

    It is evidently not because it practises what it preaches and demands. Rather, it is because the labour lobbies believe, without any compelling evidence, that American wages have been stagnant because of competition from the developing nations. ... In short, this is what economists call "export protectionism".

    What is doubly offensive about this exercise of political muscle is that it is advanced in the language of altruism: not by saying frankly that it is because "our unions are worried about competition" but by pretending that it is "in your workers' interests". ...

    Senator Barack Obama does not quite get this. By asking, as part of his agenda for change, that the US should now impose even more draconian labour requirements in future PTAs, and that the North American Free Trade Agreement should be revised to incorporate yet tougher labour requirements, he is making export protectionism, and the reputation of the US as a selfish hegemon, worse...

    Change is indeed in order, although along totally different lines. It must reflect a holistic view of the new reality that the US confronts. In particular, the economic anxiety that overwhelms US workers today stems from the increased fragility of their jobs.

    First, ... India and China today are growing and exporting rapidly. ... They create tsunamis for specific industries where their exports concentrate.

    Second, competition has intensified. ... No chief executive or any of his workers in tradable industries leads a happy life any more as there is always someone, from somewhere, breathing down his neck. ... It leads to volatility of jobs, as you have an advantage today and can lose it tomorrow.

    Third, labour-saving technical change continuously threatens assembly-line jobs for the unskilled. The assembly lines continue but increasingly do not have workers on them...

    The agenda for institutional change has to address this fragility of jobs, enabling unskilled and skilled workers to face the new uncertainties. ...

    Senator Obama promises change but he needs a deeper understanding of the anxiety-causing "new epoch" to define his new agenda shorn of protectionism. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, admirably stands for free trade but shows no evidence whatsoever of comprehending that this needs to be situated in an institutional context that requires a serious overhaul. Who will ultimately offer us the right New Deal?

    I don't like to see workers who are struggling given false hope. The research on this issue does not support that US wages or jobs would be much affected by insisting upon these types of standards, and barriers to trade of any type hurt the US overall in almost all cases (and hurt developing countries as well). If we focus a lot of time and energy in congress and elsewhere debating this issue, it crowds out effort that could be devoted to legislation promising much, much more to help people worried about or actually experiencing job insecurity. So, continuing with the discussion of Obama's economic policy in the post below this one, I am not in agreement with this aspect of his trade policies.

    me:

    Jagdish Bhagwati is an idiot. I have been hearing him extoll the virtues of how great America is because an Indian has been doing my job for 7 years. We were told of all the new opportunities this would create for us. B**ls**t.

    All he ever talks about is more training and more education. but he NEVER gets around to saying in what.

    Per Kurowski:

    We need to look at other possible explanations than trade

    Jagdish Bhagwati complains that "the labour lobbies believe, without any compelling evidences, that the American wages have been stagnant because of competition from the developing countries". But, even if he is right, since he offers no other alternative explanation for the widening gap between the returns to capitals and the returns to labour in the economy, he is actually helping to keep the focus on trade as being the culprit.

    Bhagwati would serve his worthy cause better by pointing out the effects of other developments that have run in parallel to the growth of global trade. How much of the capital-labour gap could be explained by the following?

    1. The discrimination implicit in risk based pricing that has allowed the financial sector to charge some groups with extremely high interest, based on some quite dubious logical reasons. Borrowers that cannot pay the high interests should not have received the loans to begin with, at least not at those high rates, and those who can serve the loans have de-facto evidenced they merited lower rates.

    2. The growing tendency to use intellectual property rights of all sort and kinds to create unregulated monopolies that capture rents.

    3. The increased regressiveness of taxes that results from the tendency of turning away from taxing income to taxing consumption.

    Net out the effect of those three factors and you might not have anything left to blame trade with.

    BJ Feng:

    I've just come back from a trip to China and there's good news for Americans. I think the period of wage and price adjustment is more than half over. Food prices in China, and the price of many things are no longer cheap compared to America. I was shocked to find that watermelon, oranges, and a lot of other foodstuffs were as expensive or more expensive than in the US. Higher end clothing was also more expensive, though you could still get deals at "swap meets", but price differentials are no longer what they were in the past.

    We knew that prices and wages would somewhat have to align, and that this process would be painful for us here in the United States, though ultimately beneficial (the richer the Chinese get, the more stuff they can buy from us). I believe we're past the halfway mark.

    BJ Feng

    Workers already have a say in the terms of their employment, you seem to think that workers are being forced into these "sweatshops" but that's not the case. They go work for these "sweatshops" because the $5 a day they can make is substantially more than they can earn on the farm or left to their own devices. The labor is also easier.

    In some areas where labor is in demand thanks to migration away from the countryside and into large cities, headhunters fight to hire workers as they step off of the trains. Of course, most would rather be paid more money than inherit the complex regulations that protect the Longshoremen and Teamsters from actually working. I know that some Longshoremen jobs are redundant in that three men are given a task that requires two men so that one is deliberately set aside as a reserve. That person doesn't have to work that day, he can just sit around. Such protections should be regarded as luxuries for workers, not something standard or expected.


    The selfish hegemon must offer a New Deal on trade by Jagdish Bhagwati

    August 19 2008

    In the 1980s, Japan was feared in the US to be a lethal combination of Superman and the evil genius Lex Luthor in a classic case of what I have called the Diminished Giant Syndrome.

    Members of Congress famously smashed a Toshiba radio cassette recorder on the steps of Capitol Hill in protest in 1987. Great Britain at the turn of the 19th century had been marked by similar diffidence, despair and recrimination when Germany and the US were emerging on the world scene. There, Sir Howard Vincent entered parliament festooned with mops, pails and brushes marked "Made in Germany".

    US hegemony survived the exaggerated threat from Japan. But the US is now once again a fearful giant. Many Americans see trade as a peril rather than an opportunity. This has turned the US from what the economist Charles Kindleberger famously called an "altruistic" hegemon into a "selfish" hegemon.

    On the back of economic anxiety in the country, many in both political parties (although far more among Democrats) see freer trade now as a costly giveaway to others at the expense of the US. They ask: "What is in it for me?" Only an agenda for institutional change, one that addresses the true causes of the anxiety in the US today, has a chance of returning trade policy to sanity.

    The US role in the failed Doha trade talks illustrates the collapse of American leadership. Here, the US has been the central spoiler, refusing to cut its trade-distorting subsidies significantly even though they are universally recognised as intolerable. Its latest offer was to cap them at $14.5bn (€9.84bn, £7.76bn) but that well exceeded current payouts, estimated at $9bn. With only 2m farmers in the country, the US still attacked India for asking for an enhanced "special safeguard mechanism" to be used in case of an import surge, when India has far smaller, often subsistence, farms and nearly two-thirds of its population in rural employment.

    While making negligible concessions itself, the US was insisting on difficult concessions from India, made even more troublesome politically because of the insubstantial offer on US subsidies. Besides, when the Doha talks started, the developing countries were not even supposed to be making concessions in agriculture. Throughout the Doha negotiations, the office of the US trade representative and US Congress pointed a finger at others – at Brazil, then at India and then also China – but have never considered their own roles.

    The US has also muscled in to its bilateral preferential trade agreements (nearly all with small, developing nations) conditions unrelated to trade at the expense of their partner nations. Thus a country that is hardly an exemplar on labour rights, where the right to strike has been severely restrained since the Taft-Hartley legislation more than half a century ago, where union membership in the private sector has declined to less than 10 per cent of the labour force, and which has not ratified all the International Labour Organisation's core conventions, has had the effrontery to impose standards on others in these PTAs. Why?

    It is evidently not because it practises what it preaches and demands. Rather, it is because the labour lobbies believe, without any compelling evidence, that American wages have been stagnant because of competition from the developing nations. Further, they believe that if one could only stand Thomas Friedman of "flat earth" fame on his head and flatten the earth by raising these countries' labour costs up to US levels, that would help reduce competition. In short, this is what economists call "export protectionism".

    What is doubly offensive about this exercise of political muscle is that it is advanced in the language of altruism: not by saying frankly that it is because "our unions are worried about competition" but by pretending that it is "in your workers' interests". An altruistic hegemon would not be playing these games; a selfish hegemon will do little else.

    Senator Barack Obama does not quite get this. By asking, as part of his agenda for change, that the US should now impose even more draconian labour requirements in future PTAs, and that the North American Free Trade Agreement should be revised to incorporate yet tougher labour requirements, he is making export protectionism, and the reputation of the US as a selfish hegemon, worse, not better. Some change.

    Change is indeed in order, although along totally different lines. It must reflect a holistic view of the new reality that the US confronts. In particular, the economic anxiety that overwhelms US workers today stems from the increased fragility of their jobs.

    First, as with Japan in the 1930s, when one-dollar blouses flooded the world, India and China today are growing and exporting rapidly. They are like Gullivers in a Lilliputian world economy. They create tsunamis for specific industries where their exports concentrate.

    Second, competition has intensified. As exemplified by the Boeing-Airbus saga, the margins of competitive advantage have shrunk. No chief executive or any of his workers in tradable industries leads a happy life any more as there is always someone, from somewhere, breathing down his neck. I call this new phenomenon "kaleidoscopic comparative advantage". It leads to volatility of jobs, as you have an advantage today and can lose it tomorrow.

    Third, labour-saving technical change continuously threatens assembly-line jobs for the unskilled. The assembly lines continue but increasingly do not have workers on them; they are managed from a glass cage by skilled operators whose jobs increase instead.

    The agenda for institutional change has to address this fragility of jobs, enabling unskilled and skilled workers to face the new uncertainties. To illustrate: higher education will have to be recast to reduce the proportion of time spent on specialisation: this would enable an easier response to shifting skill requirements as the kaleidoscope turns. Unskilled workers will have to be helped and encouraged to acquire skills and therefore increase their ability to shift to other jobs, even as they continue to work.

    Senator Obama promises change but he needs a deeper understanding of the anxiety-causing "new epoch" to define his new agenda shorn of protectionism. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, admirably stands for free trade but shows no evidence whatsoever of comprehending that this needs to be situated in an institutional context that requires a serious overhaul. Who will ultimately offer us the right New Deal?

    The writer, university professor, economics and law, at Columbia University and senior fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, has just published 'Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential Agreements Undermine Free Trade'. His next book on US trade policy, 'Terrified by Trade: Institutional Change to Address Anxiety and Contain Protectionism' (Oxford) is to be published in spring 2009

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

    Profit-maximization as the sole goal of a corporation By Martin Wolf

    Aug 19, 2008 | FT

    What is the goal of the limited liability, joint-stock company, the core institution of the contemporary capitalist economy? What implications does the answer have for such a company's freedom to be "creative" in the way Bill Gates uses the term? The classic answer to the first of these questions, repeated often in these discussions, is that its aim is to maximise profits. This statement is not false. But it is vastly too limited. Here are ten points relevant to this theme.

    First, one has to distinguish the goal of the firm from its role. The role of companies is to provide valuable goods and services – that is to say, outputs worth more than their inputs. The great insight of market economics is that they will do this job best if they are subject to competition. Profit-maximization (or shareholder value maximization, its more sophisticated modern equivalent) is NOT the role of the firm. It is its goal. The goal of profit-maximization drives the firm to fulfill its role.

    Second, by creating a competitive market for corporate control, we more or less force companies to maximize shareholder value, or at least behave in ways that the market believes will lead them to do so. If companies fail to oblige, the company will be put "into play." Thus, in Anglo-American shareholder-driven capitalism, maximization of shareholder value (as perceived by the market) must perforce be the goal of the company. This is not the case in countries where a market in corporate control does not exist. In such countries, companies must earn a high enough return on capital to survive. But this need not be a shareholder value-maximizing return.

    Third, a company is viewed in the Anglo-American world as a bundle of contracts. But companies are also social organisms created by a highly gregarious mammalian species with a unique capacity for large-scale co-operation over time and space. Companies have cultures and histories. For many of those most closely associated with them, they also have (and offer) a certain meaning. Committed workers in successful companies do not work in order to maximize shareholder value or even to earn the largest possible living. Indeed, it is impossible to direct most companies solely by the goal of profit-maximization. (Goldman Sachs may be an exception.) They have to be aimed at the intermediate goal of producing and developing goods and services that people want to buy and are worth more in the market than they cost to produce.

    Fourth, the idea that a company is an entity that can be freely bought and sold is culturally specific. It is the view, above all, of Anglo-Americans. It is not shared in most of the rest of the world. The reason for this divergence is that, for many cultures, a company is viewed as being an enduring social entity. I once read that, for many Japanese, one can no more sell a company over the heads of its workers than one can sell one's grandmother. In this view, goods and services can be bought and sold. Companies, like countries (or, as we all now agree, people), must not be.

    Fifth, in this perspective, shareholders are not genuine owners. They contribute nothing of value to the competitive strengths of the firm, enjoy the benefits of limited liability and are well able to diversify the risks they run. They are merely an (ever-shifting) group of people with a claim to the residual incomes. Those with the biggest (undiversifiable) investment in the firm -- and thus the greatest exposure to firm-specific risks -- are not shareholders, but core workers. The interests of the latter are, therefore, paramount.

    The salient characteristic of the contracts inside the firm (that is between the company, its employees and, quite often, its suppliers and even distributors) is that they are relational. That is to say, they cannot be written down in any precise form. Companies are hierarchies in which people engage voluntarily. They necessarily work on the basis of trust in what is often a very long-term relationship: I work extra hard to meet a deadline now, in return for consideration when I need to look after my elderly mother later on. For many companies, trustworthiness is an essential ingredient in their long-term success.

    Sixth, if companies can be freely bought and sold, relational contracts, which depend on continuing interaction among specific people inside the business, are hardly worth the paper they are (not) written on. Rational employees will act opportunistically, because they will always expect their company to do the same. The longer and more reliable relationships are expected to be, the less likely such opportunistic behaviour is to emerge.

    Seventh, accordingly, capital-market arrangements (and associated views of the firm) that enforce shareholder value maximization may (I stress "may") make companies work less efficiently than otherwise, in terms of their primary role, by precluding (or at least making far more difficult) a range of potentially valuable relational contracts inside the firm. At the least, such restrictions may have powerful effects on comparative advantage, by shifting countries away from those activities in which companies that benefit from long-term relational contracts are likely to be most effective.

    Eighth, it is not necessarily even the case that companies which operate under the assumption that they can be bought and sold (like GM) will operate more successfully in terms of maximizing shareholder value than those which do not (such as Toyota). Toyota is a better car company than GM in almost all dimensions. The failure of Japanese capitalism to achieve the highest level of productivity and sustained dynamism may have far more to with repression of domestic competition in many markets for goods and, above all, services, rather than with the absence of an active market for corporate control.

    Ninth, consequently the room for enduring divergence in the forms of capitalism is bigger than those working in the Anglo-American intellectual tradition appreciate. In particular, without an active market for corporate control, managements rule companies. It also acts as a trustee for a range of stakeholders, of which core workers are the most important. Because these companies cannot be forced to maximize shareholder value, they can indeed undertake a range of costly "charitable"activities, provided they do not threaten the company's ability to survive.

    Tenth, one of the most interesting questions over the next generation is whether the Anglo-American form of capitalism, which gives primary direction of companies to capital markets, will flourish and expand, or not. Some of the evidence on the (in)effectiveness of takeovers and the recent sad experiences in financial markets rather suggests not.

    This is not to deny that such active financial markets bring big benefits, particularly in financing new companies and enforcing greater discipline on badly run businesses.

    Anyway, the more "Anglo-American" capitalism becomes and so the more shareholder driven, the less "creative," in Bill Gates's sense, it is likely to be. Or, at the least, the less concerned with wider social results it is likely to be.

    Nudges (aka libertarian paternalism)

    Are you ready to embrace libertarian paternalism?

    The dramatic effect of a firm nudge, by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, Commentary, Financial Times: In the past three decades, psychologists and behavioural economists have learnt that people's choices can be dramatically affected by subtle features of social situations. For example, inertia turns out to be a powerful force. If people's magazine subscriptions are automatically renewed, they renew a lot more than if they have to send in a renewal form. More­over, people are influenced by how problems are framed. If told that salami is "90 per cent fat-free" they are far more likely to buy salami than if they are told it is "10 per cent fat".

    Social norms matter a lot. If people think others are recycling, or paying their taxes, they are far more likely to recycle and to pay their taxes. The important message is that small details can induce large changes in behavior.

    Findings of this kind suggest that even when people have freedom of choice they are influenced, or nudged, by the context in which their decisions are made. This power gives business and governments opportunities. Automatically enrolling people in a savings plan dramatically increases participation, even though people retain the right to opt out. Informing citizens of how their energy use compares with that of neighbors can nudge energy hogs into adjusting their thermostats.

    In this light, it is not surprising that policy teams for Barack Obama, the US Democratic presidential candidate, and David Cameron, the UK's Conservative party leader, have shown an interest in nudge-like solutions to social problems..., ... an approach we call "libertarian paternalism", by which governments try to move people in good directions without imposing penalties, mandates or bans.

    The mounting international interest suggests the possibility of developing a genuine Third Way, one that accepts some of the progressive goals traditionally associated with the left, but insists on the market-friendly means traditionally associated with the right. Libertarian paternalists resist coercion. They think that freedom of choice is an important safeguard against the bias, confusion and self-interest of government. They also think that everyone can benefit from a friendly nudge.

    Now that prominent leaders are showing an interest in the potential effects of nudges, a counter-reaction is starting to develop. One objection is that while we may be able to nudge litterers, for many of the most important problems, such as terrorism, nudges are not enough: they need to be solved with mandates or bans. ... We concede that in some contexts libertarian paternalism is not enough. .... That does not eliminate a role for nudging. ...

    Mr Obama recently suggested that people can improve fuel economy by having the right air pressure in their tyres. Five minutes with an air hose can save 3 per cent or more on fuel bills. But the reaction of John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, to this nudge was to mock it. ... Mr McCain's critique is a good example of an anti-nudger's mistake. No one suggests we can solve the world's energy problems by correctly filling our tyres, but who in their right mind would reject a plan that could, at little cost, save millions of gallons of fuel? ...

    No sensible person could argue that government action should be limited to nudges. But too often governments resort to coercion when gentler approaches, preserving freedom of choice, are at least as effective.

    I don't like to feel as though I've been manipulated no matter how friendly the nudge, even for my own good, and I'm suspicious of other people deciding what is best for me, especially when I push these ideas to their logical limits. But I can see advantages to this as well, so I guess I'd be okay with it if those doing the nudging look me in the eye and say we have found that presenting the options in this way has this effect, so we are presenting the options as follows. So long as all the cards are on the table, so long as I know how I am being manipulated (okay, nudged), fine, but if it relies upon me being unaware of how I am being nudged, that would feel coercive and I'd rather not have someone else deciding how I should behave even if it is, in their opinion at least, for my own good.

    Grasping Reality with Both Hands The Semi-Daily Journal Economist Brad DeLong

    The Monkey Cage: Left-right ideology of voters, congressmembers, and senators

    Andrew Gelman of the Monkey Cage says:

    July 22, 2008 at 09:57 AM in Politics, Sorting: Front Page, Sorting: Pieces of the Occasion | Permalink

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    Comments

    This graph cannot possibly be correct. Out at the tails, it claims that significant portions of Congress take ideological positions that essentially no one holds. There are plenty of crazy Republicans in Congress, but they have constituencies; that's why they're able to be crazy. There just aren't enough people in those tails for these results to make sense.

    Posted by: James Grimmelmann | July 22, 2008 at 10:25 AM

    You'd think there ought to be some facts that could be brought to bear on a notion like this -- even if it's only something flaky like an indicator cobbled together out of lobbyists' favorable/un- voting tables.

    The reason I find this factless empty speculation annoying is that in the real world I often find that things which are intuitively bimodal to me turn out to have strong central tendencies. I think that the tendency to see things as drifting into extremes or divisions may be one of those Tveskyesque dementities.

    Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones | July 22, 2008 at 10:31 AM

    Don't you think this left/right baloney is a waste of electrons?

    Posted by: sm | July 22, 2008 at 10:47 AM

    I assume "ideological position" is defined in an abstract and meaningless way. On issues that I care about, such as leaving Iraq, I understand that a majority of voters is for it (presumably the liberal position), but Congress apparently against it, as shown by continued votes for Iraq war appropriations without a time line for withdrawal.

    I suspect this news item is propaganda telling Democrats in Congress to be more 'centrist' (and forget about all these 'liberal' ideas); although the right edge of the graph indicates that there are many 'conservative' congress critters who are more conservative than the voters (perhaps due to well-moneyed contributors).--

    Posted by: A | July 22, 2008 at 11:03 AM

    The statements above that the graphs cannot be right are themselves baseless. I find it quite plausable. My basis for this is the book "Off Center" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. It documents that Republicans especially are far from the norm ("positions essentially no one holds"), Democrats less so, and goes into detail about how this has happened.

    Even after 2006, which moved Congress to the left, my take on the graph is that the Republicans are farther right than the Democrats are left.

    I don't know what Herron based this on, but remember that political scientists have been collecting data on these things for decades.

    Posted by: Jonathan | July 22, 2008 at 11:08 AM

    Click through to Gelman and you'll see the graphic that should be here, which is 8.10.

    Posted by: Ken Houghton | July 22, 2008 at 12:47 PM

    As an old DFH, I have to ask: where would 1968, 1980, 1992, or 2000 fall on this spectrum? Maybe Paul and Jacob's book will tell me?

    Posted by: MaryCh | July 22, 2008 at 02:05 PM

    The camel is in the tent!

    Posted by: JoeV | July 22, 2008 at 03:26 PM

    Conservative (Republican) voters are fewer than liberal (Democratic) voters but conservative congressmen are more common than liberal Congressmen. Furthermore, conservative Congressmen are more conservative than the voters who elect them, and by and large conservative Republicans in Congress dominate the moderate Republicans.

    Republicans work the system better.

    Posted by: John Emerson | July 22, 2008 at 03:58 PM

    I think there could be an easy explanation for this double peak.
    The overall population is roughly described by a normal distribution,
    proportional to e^(-x^2), where x is the 'ideological parameter'.
    However, I assume the motivation to go into politics to be proportional to
    const + x^2, in other words the more extreme a position one holds (left or right) the more likely one is motivated enough to go into politics.
    Therefore, while the distribution for the voters is roughly normal, the
    distribution in congress is something like (const + x^2)*e^(-x^2) and
    exhibits a double peak if const is small enough (i.e. moderate people are
    not very motivated to go into politics...)

    Posted by: wolfgang | July 22, 2008 at 05:15 PM

    I should add, that according to my 'theory' the small double peak of the general public is a 2nd order effect - the backreaction of the double peak distribution of the politicians on the people via media etc.

    Posted by: wolfgang | July 22, 2008 at 05:17 PM

    There's all kinds of radical cranks going into politics, but one should assume them to fall by the wayside through the force of the Median Voter Theorem (which also seems to fuel the doubts about the graph expressed above). The cause of the emerging radicalization of the U.S. Congress is more likely that individuals with radical viewpoints are more inclined to get engaged in politics -- via primary voting and campaign contributions -- rather than as politicians.

    On the question how this looked in 1968 or 1982, the trend towards a polarized Congress started in 1981, kicked into overdrive around 1995 and peaked in the late 90's. Poole & Rosenthal have a number of interesting animations on the development at http://www.voteview.com and discuss their hypothesis for the causation (income inequality) at http://www.polarizedamerica.com.

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