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Libertarian Philosophy

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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 

Bannonism

Another interesting flavor of  Libertarianism  in the USA is "Bannonism":  the dream about "Christian capitalism" which simultaneously (and in best Ann Rand style) is "enterprenurial capitalism" (which make it a "bastard neoliberalism".  And simultaneously strange mixture of ideas of  Libertarianism and national socialism (alt-right).

A lot of things in Bannonism is self-contradictory.  Breitbart was way too close to the tea party movement. So it is not accidental that Bannon himself self-destruct (of self -immolated) by talking too much to Wolff for his book (and Wolff being a Clinton neoliberal was only too happy to push Bannon under the bus).  The only thing he got right is that New Deal Capitalism required for its existence the existence of the USSR to keep US elite from engaging in cannibalistic  behaviour. After this countervailing force was removed the elite went on the path of self-destruction of the country while enriching themselves at the expense of common people. So the current crisis of neoliberalism in the USA is an indirect side effect (blowback) of the demise of the USSR. Now the neoliberal elite tired artificially recreate the situation that existed during the cold war by fueling anti-russian hysteria. Whether  that can stabilize the neoliberalism in the USA or not remains to be seen.

""I believe we’ve come partly off-track in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism."  This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World

Fist of all its attack on globalization is incompatible with the support of Randism ("entrepreneurial capitalism"), neoliberalism and deregulation at home.  His Ideal the state whoudl be weakened in order to allow entrepreneurial capitalism to florish are pretty unrealistic and dangerous dreams. Essentially that makes him a Trojan horse of neoliberals (despite preaching "bustard neoliberalism" or neoliberalism without globalization)   This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World

The central thing that binds that all together is a center-right populist movement of really the middle class, the working men and women in the world who are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos. A group of kind of — we're not conspiracy-theory guys, but there's certainly — and I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs — there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they're going to dictate to everybody how the world's going to be run.

I will tell you that the working men and women of Europe and Asia and the United States and Latin America don't believe that. They believe they know what's best for how they will comport their lives. They think they know best about how to raise their families and how to educate their families. So I think you're seeing a global reaction to centralized government, whether that government is in Beijing or that government is in Washington, DC, or that government is in Brussels. So we are the platform for the voice of that.

Harnwell: I think it’s important to understand the distinction that you’re drawing here between what can be understood as authentic, free-market capitalism as a means of promoting wealth that [unintelligible] involves everybody with a form of crony capitalism which simply benefits a certain class. And we’ve watched over the course of our conference, we’ve watched two video segments produced by the Acton Institute about how development aid is spent internationally and how that can be driven away from — it damages people on the ground but it also perpetuates a governing class. And the point that you’re mentioning here, that I think that you’re saying has driven almost a revolution movement in America, is the same phenomenon of what’s going on in the developing world, which is a concept of government which is no longer doing what it is morally bound to do but has become corrupt and self-serving. So it’s effectively the sa—

Bannon: It’s exactly the same. Currently, if you read The Economist, you read the Financial Times this week, you’ll see there’s a relatively obscure agency in the federal government that is engaged in a huge fight that may lead to a government shutdown. It’s called the Export-Import Bank. And for years, it was a bank that helped finance things that other banks wouldn’t do. And what’s happening over time is that it’s metastasized to be a cheap form of financing to General Electric and to Boeing and to other large corporations. You get this financing from other places if they wanted to, but they’re putting this onto the middle-class taxpayers to support this.

"I’m not an expert in this, but it seems that [right-wing parties] have had some aspects that may be anti-Semitic or racial ... My point is that over time it all gets kind of washed out, right?"

And the tea party is using this as an example of the cronyism. General Electric and these major corporations that are in bed with the federal government are not what we’d consider free-enterprise capitalists. We’re backers of entrepreneurial capitalists. They’re not. They’re what we call corporatist. They want to have more and more monopolistic power and they’re doing that kind of convergence with big government. And so the fight here — and that’s why the media’s been very late to this party — but the fight you’re seeing is between entrepreneur capitalism, and the Acton Institute is a tremendous supporter of, and the people like the corporatists that are closer to the people like we think in Beijing and Moscow than they are to the entrepreneurial capitalist spirit of the United States.

 

Also the notion of "Christian capitalism" (or "neoliberalism with human face")  is just a dream. There is not and there will be never be any "authentic, free-market capitalism as a means of promoting wealth that involves everybody. Forms that he calls "crony capitalism" which simply benefits a certain class are the only one systainable. althouth NewDeal Capilism was probably the most close to his dreams.  This Is How Steve Bannon Sees The Entire World

Benjamin Harnwell, Human Dignity Institute: Thank you, Steve. That was a fascinating, fascinating overview. I am particularly struck by your argument, then, that in fact, capitalism would spread around the world based on the Judeo-Christian foundation is, in fact, something that can create peace through peoples rather than antagonism, which is often a point not sufficiently appreciated. Before I turn behind me to take a question —
 

Bannon: One thing I want to make sure of, if you look at the leaders of capitalism at that time, when capitalism was I believe at its highest flower and spreading its benefits to most of mankind, almost all of those capitalists were strong believers in the Judeo-Christian West. They were either active participants in the Jewish faith, they were active participants in the Christians' faith, and they took their beliefs, and the underpinnings of their beliefs was manifested in the work they did.

And I think that’s incredibly important and something that would really become unmoored. I can see this on Wall Street today — I can see this with the securitization of everything is that, everything is looked at as a securitization opportunity. People are looked at as commodities. I don’t believe that our forefathers had that same belief.

He also does not understand that  far right revolt is the reincarnation of national socialist  ideas (neo-fascism), not so much his Christian capitalism ideas

Bannon: For everybody in your audience, this is one of the most monumental — first off, it’s the biggest election upset in the history of the American republic. Eric Cantor was the House majority leader and raised $10 million. He spent, between himself and outside groups, $8 million to hold a congressional district. He ran against a professor who was an evangelical Christian and a libertarian economist. He ran against a professor who raised in total $175,000. In fact, the bills from Eric Cantor’s campaign at a elite steak house in Washington, DC, was over $200,000. So they spent more than $200,000 over the course of the campaign wining and dining fat cats at a steak house in Washington than the entire opposition had to run.

Now, Eric Cantor, it was a landslide. He lost 57–43, and not one — outside of Breitbart, we covered this for six months, day in and day out — not one news site — not Fox News, not Politico, no sites picked this up. And the reason that this guy won is quite simple: Middle-class people and working-class people are tired of people like Eric Cantor who say they’re conservative selling out their interests every day to crony capitalists.

"That center-right revolt is really a global revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin America, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India."

And you’re seeing that whether that was UKIP and Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom, whether it’s these groups in the Low Countries in Europe, whether it’s in France, there’s a new tea party in Germany. The theme is all the same. And the theme is middle-class and working-class people — they’re saying, “Hey, I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked. I’m getting less benefits than I’m ever getting through this, I’m incurring less wealth myself, and I’m seeing a system of fat cats who say they’re conservative and say they back capitalist principles, but all they’re doing is binding with corporatists." Right? Corporatists, to garner all the benefits for themselves.
 

And that center-right revolt is really a global revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin America, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India. Modi's great victory was very much based on these Reaganesque principles, so I think this is a global revolt, and we are very fortunate and proud to be the news site that is reporting that throughout the world.

See also Bannon Versus Trump - The New York Times


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Old News ;-)

[Jun 23, 2019] I have no idea how Rand became the poster child for the libertarian movement

Notable quotes:
"... I can only assume that, as with so many of their other ideas, the internet / radio hosts promoting her ideas as the solution to the worlds problems have never actually read anything she said, or did, or possibly if they had, they have not understood it. ..."
"... Usually, with philosophers, you can see how it is not their words, but that someone has interpreted them for their own ends (Nietzsche etc), but in the case of Rand, no mis-interpretation is required, unless you are trying to portray her views as anything other than deeply misanthropic. ..."
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Rhiaden , 6 Mar 2012 09:24

I always view Ayn Rand as someone who most right wing dictators would place themselves somewhere to the left of.

I have no idea how she became the poster child for the libertarian movement, I can only assume that, as with so many of their other ideas, the internet / radio hosts promoting her ideas as the solution to the worlds problems have never actually read anything she said, or did, or possibly if they had, they have not understood it.

Usually, with philosophers, you can see how it is not their words, but that someone has interpreted them for their own ends (Nietzsche etc), but in the case of Rand, no mis-interpretation is required, unless you are trying to portray her views as anything other than deeply misanthropic.

[Jun 23, 2019] It's erroneous to think state capitalism = soviet russia style dictatorships.

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

UnknownGunman -> johncj , 6 Mar 2012 05:42

The degree of statism in a country's political system, is the degree to which it breaks up the country into rival gangs and sets men against one another. When individual rights are abrogated, there is no way to determine who is entitled to what; there is no way to determine the justice of anyone's claims, desires, or interests. The criterion, therefore, reverts to the tribal concept of: one's wishes are limited only by the power of one's gang.

Such a black and white view of reality. This is the entire problem with Rand's worldview, reality is far too complex. Here, you talk about the level of "statism" - there are many different methods of using the state to achieve goals which help improve your life and those in the society around you.

For example, in Scandanavian countries, and other northern European ones, the state is used to make up for distribution deficiencies in the market system - that is, to reign in those at either end of the socio-economic scale to make the distribution more equal, which has been scientifically shown to reduce all manner of social ills caused by a large amount of economic inequality.

They do this whilst minimising the impact on economic freedom.

So it's erroneous to think statism = soviet russia style dictatorships.

As for individual rights - well, these are clearly important, but certainly not as a blanket ideology behind society. Negative sides to individual rights are things like:

• Educational freedom - 2 + 2 can equal 5!
• Parenting - society has to deal with bad parenting as the child reaches adulthood, so society deserves an equal say: I don't have to vaccinate my kids! (recent MMR jab a prime example)
• I'm free to pollute the environment, make excessive noise because the government has no place stopping me.

As a society, a balance needs to be maintained. A balance between a person's individual liberty and the impact on the society around them. This is the main area where Rand's philosophy fails - she simply does not acknowledge the very complex relationship humans have with each other, with society as a whole, and the world around them.

[Jun 23, 2019] The basic axiom of libertarian political theory holds that every man is a self-owner, having absolute jurisdiction over his own body and property. But without the means to protect, defend and preserve these things that one "owns", provided by the state, it amounts to very little.

Notable quotes:
"... This is the reduction ad absurdum that libertarianism is always reduced to. A subscription police force is an an idiocy, a bit like a subscription fire service. ..."
"... Even by the 18th Century, people had figured out that made no sense. How on earth could it work? A private police force would be beholden to its paymasters and no one else. ..."
"... As I have said many times, a pure libertarian society would be a warlord society, with the feeble or non-existent state unable to restrain the richest and most powerful people in that society. Truly a hell on earth. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

HarryTheHorse , 6 Mar 2012 10:41

The basic axiom of libertarian political theory holds that every man is a self-owner, having absolute jurisdiction over his own body. In effect, this means that no one else may justly invade, or aggress against, another's person. It follows then that each person justly owns whatever previously unowned resources he appropriates or 'mixes his labor with'. From these twin axioms -- self-ownership and 'homesteading' -- stem the justification for the entire system of property rights titles in a free market society."

That's all very well, but without the means to protect, defend and preserve these things that one "owns", it amounts to very little. And that is where collectivisation comes in. For what is the law but a series of codes that we collectively as a society agree to abide by. Without the rule of law to protect me, whatever I own will soon be taken by someone stronger and more aggressive that me. Individuals cannot assert their rights as individuals, for they are not strong enough to do so. The irony, which is lost on libertarians, is that for individual rights to be preserved we must sacrifice a little of our individualism to collectively band together to defend those rights.

HarryTheHorse -> johncj , 6 Mar 2012 10:33

Then don't pay if you don't want to, that's my point. If you want police pay a subscription. I suppose this is floating away from objectivism and more into libertarianism. The principle is the same how ever.

This is the reduction ad absurdum that libertarianism is always reduced to. A subscription police force is an an idiocy, a bit like a subscription fire service.

Even by the 18th Century, people had figured out that made no sense. How on earth could it work? A private police force would be beholden to its paymasters and no one else.

Presumably there would be multiple such police forces - for free-market competition, of course. These police forces would become de facto private armies. And from where would they derive their authority? From he who pays them the most?

As I have said many times, a pure libertarian society would be a warlord society, with the feeble or non-existent state unable to restrain the richest and most powerful people in that society. Truly a hell on earth.

[Jun 23, 2019] Many Anarchists have a libertarian mindset, and seek cooperation (rather than a competition in who can break the most windows), but reject the dominance and structures of the elite, which are usually completely undemocratic.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

totemic , 6 Mar 2012 14:16

While there is certainly an element of Paul supporters, in my experience here in the Bay/Central Coast is that it is predominantly Dems, liberals, progressives, socialists and a surprising number of anarchists (many of which are not the typical window-breaking stereotype).

I would guess its all of us who are suspicious of hierarchical state capitalism - whether of the left or the right. Many Anarchists have a libertarian mindset, and seek cooperation (rather than a competition in who can break the most windows), but reject the dominance and structures of the elite, which are usually completely undemocratic.

[Jun 23, 2019] No, that is not anarchy. That is a load of selfish bastards claiming to be anarchists and using this as a justification for their being selfish bastards.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

BeenThereDunThat -> apacheman , 11 Apr 2019 05:16

People think of anarchy as equating with lawless selfishness because that's how it works in real life.

No, that is not anarchy. That is a load of selfish bastards claiming to be anarchists and using this as a justification for their being selfish bastards. I remember only too well the cry of no small number of the trendy fashion-punk-anarchists of the 1980's to justify their hedonism and lack of responsibility " I'm an Anarchist, me: I can do anything! ".And my response to them? " Are you fuck!!! ".

Sadly, however, many like yourself choose to take the definition of anarchy which is a total misrepresentation of it equating to chaos and disorder, and which as I noted in my earlier comment, has been deliberately promulgated and used by the State and its supportive media. And in doing so, you do the philosophy a disservice, as you only help spread this representation, which eventually becomes the accepted understanding. And this is what the State and the oligarchs desire most, as it keeps people away from those most dangerous of thoughts, about actually trying to control their own lives.

[Jun 23, 2019] Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek, both worshipped by their Libertarian and conservative followers, and both massive hypocrites.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Asquith , 6 Mar 2012 01:05

Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek, both worshipped by their Libertarian and conservative followers, and both massive hypocrites.

http://www.thenation.com/article/163672/charles-koch-friedrich-hayek-use-social-security

Rand used Medicare under her husband's name (to evade being found out), while Hayek took hypocrisy to a whole new level; he not only had state provided healthcare in his native Austria, but also used it in the USA, too, after Charles Koch (who paid Hayek to advocate the abolition of such welfare) urged him to. So, Hayek is a far bigger welfare sponger than the people the Right so loves to deionize. Again, like Rand he did this secretly, never acknowledging that he used the system which he wished to deny to others. That is obscene dishonesty and conceitedness.

Then there's Milton Friedman, who, in the documentary The 1% , declared, with a straight face, that the wealthy could not bribe politicians and thus that there was no corruption in politics!

In the face of such hypocrisy and stupidity one can only assume their followers are egotists who only hear what they want to hear.

KarenInSonoma , 6 Mar 2012 00:49
I can hardly write, I'm so angry! This disgusting, and digustingly influential, woman signed on for Medicare and Social Security? I wish my husband could! He has suffered two massive strokes and is so severely cognitively impaired that I am dreading his return home from the hospital (where he's entitled to be right now because I pay nearly $2,000 a month in "Cobra" healthcare insurance). At 59, he's too young for Medicare, and because we were saving out of modest incomes for our pension-less retirement, we have more than the pitiful $3,000 in the bank that Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) allows. He needs to be watched 24 hours ALL the time. I won't go on; I feel guilty taking time out to read & comment.
HolyInsurgent -> Lollywillowes , 5 Mar 2012 23:27
Fascinating analysis. The fascist/dominatrix, messianic, and stereotype
(of people and the public and private sectors) in the writing dovetail into
a seemless motif. Quite a new perspective on niche-marketing. One can
see the market that the writing is being directed to and ultimately respected
by: people who demand simple solutions for complex problems.

There is the sense of her own triumphalist infallibility in the writing. Positively
creepy and eventually off-putting. Even Nietzsche had a sense of humour.

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand Objectivism become the solid framework around which an entire US conservative culture, from media to religion to education policy, has crystallised.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

iruka , 5 Mar 2012 22:26

The popularity of Ayn Rand?

When less than half the eligible population votes, the most easily-led, easily-frightened, easily-lied-to segment of the population is an intrinsically much more valuable political asset.

The whole of North American right-wing thought is organised around this concrete, inescapable fact. It's become the solid framework around which an entire conservative culture, from media to religion to education policy, has crystallised.

This is why it really isn't always possible to make a great deal of sense of North American conservative culture -- a lot of it is simply redundant and empty, as inherently meaningless as a flag or national anthem shorn of all their ignoble associations.

The division of labour between leaders hungry to lead and followers desperate to be led is simply that well-entrenched. The meaning of texts and symbols -- arbitrarily and randomly seized upon and misrepresented by third rate intellects with enough of the psychopath in them to seem charismatic to suburban dullards and bigots -- is simply assumed ('x said it, so...'). Then meaning and context are left behind, while the tropes and images survive in the hearts of those for whom they're simply reassuring -- points of reference in a world they've been raised not to understand.

[Jun 23, 2019] Ann Rand book, her philosophy, and the followers are all frauds. In the current USA society the talent is only one and probably not the most important factor in social mobility

And joking aside, was her mind and her thinking not befuddled by the high manic state that results from amphetamine addiction. Puts her theories seriously into question doesn't it.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Pangolinx , 6 Mar 2012 13:07

Millions of copies of Atlas Shrugged are purchased but very few are read and virtually all of them become landfill after a single college semester. Like every other college student I purchased the book because it was required reading and like 98% of U.S. college students I ignored the book and cribbed my assignments out of Cliff Notes.

It's drivel. It's beyond moronic because even the most cursory examination provides examples of inherited wealth and advantage that are almost impossible to overcome by labor and talent alone.

Even the "great" Bill Gates had the almost unique position of access to computers in his teens that most graduate students of the time would have envied and two parents working for IBM that fed him the critical contract that made him rich.

The book, the philosophy, the author, and the followers are all frauds.

Yevgeny , 6 Mar 2012 12:52
She's not even original. Her novella anthem is a complete rip off of a much better book "We" by Zamyatin

[Jun 23, 2019] Could it be that Langley and Jina Haspey are admirers of Ayn Rand?

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Mendocino , 6 Mar 2012 13:01

Could it be that Langley and Jina Haspey are admirers of Ayn Rand?
tlsmith63 , 6 Mar 2012 12:19
Ayn Rand's philosophy is sick. I would say that it is just as sick as fascism. We on the left must do everything we can to stop the spread of this vile philosophy.

[Jun 23, 2019] People please realize that Randism is the philosophy of the ruling neoliberal elite. Wonder why the world is so fucked up? Psychopaths are in charge.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

legalhigh , 6 Mar 2012 12:51

People please realize that these are the views of the real ruling elite. Wonder why the world is so fucked up? Psychopaths are in charge.
FarEasterner , 6 Mar 2012 12:31
One has to admire Rand for stating what Western government and large corporations are mafia par excellence but never admit this in public - their philosophy, their creed.

This mafia rules Western world through sham elections, putting copycat parties against each other on the ring while rooting out any viable alternatives. This mafia also wants to dominate the whole world via interventions, sanctions, threats. They diligently check voting track record of third world countries in UN and cruelly punish those who voted independently.

This plutocratic clique has monopolized media, controls largest social networks, through intelligence agencies organize bogus propaganda campaigns against dissidents

JoeStarlin , 6 Mar 2012 12:43
jessthecrip
6 March 2012 4:36PM
If Rand's ideas continue to spread I have little hope for the survival of the human race. Without co-operation our species will die out, probably taking many others with it.

Crap, Rand never proposed that people should not co-operate with each other. Only an absolute fool would say such a thing. Ayn Rand was many things, some of them very nasty indeed, but foolish was most certainly not one of them.

She claimed that people should do what they liked free from force as much as is practical, if that meant freely choosing to co-operate with others for mutual benefit, then so be it. I hope you can see that this is a completely different kettle of fish. Co-operation is indeed what actually happens far more then it does not, even more so when the government is not forcing people to do things by the use of the criminal law.

This must be the case otherwise mankind would have always lived in isolated chaos, the evidence for which has never been found.

Have you ever tried to have sex without co-operating with someone else?

Oh yes, I am sorry, of course you have. Well, try not to do it anywhere near as often, you may go blind, or gain more hairy palms.

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand and Kant

Notable quotes:
"... Kant believed in the absolute wrongness of coercion and deception. Kant believed in never treating people as a means to your end. Kant believed reason and rationality to be the foundation of morality, and morality to apply to all people as rational agents. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

Jaiysun44 , 6 Mar 2012 12:15

Rand thought Kant to be "the most evil man in history".

Kant believed in the absolute wrongness of coercion and deception. Kant believed in never treating people as a means to your end. Kant believed reason and rationality to be the foundation of morality, and morality to apply to all people as rational agents.

What's so wrong with that?

Hellzapoppin , 6 Mar 2012 12:12

Kant's idea of obligation is important. Humans have an evolutionary tendency for selfishness; to compete. But that is not to say what is natural is moral.

There is also evidence for an evolutionary tendency to alturism. I'm not sure you need even get as far as Kant, much of what Rand's arguing seems fundamentally unscientific, let alone immoral.

ChristianBenson , 6 Mar 2012 12:07
Should Rand have devoted any time/effort to the study of morality, she may have found the writings of Kant most useful; if not alternative .

Kant's idea of obligation is important. Humans have an evolutionary tendency for selfishness; to compete. But that is not to say what is natural is moral .
Kant argued that a moral act is one where the subject is obliged to do so - not where one does it for personal gain or enjoyment. This is not to say that morality should not be enjoyed per se but one should not solely act on the premise of enjoyment.

The prolific socialist and thinker, George Bernard Shaw, said An Englishman is only moral when he is uncomfortable'

There is some truth in this; Rand's idea that morality is selfishness, virtue is self interest and good is personal accumulation denies the collective nature of humanity.

Man is not an island.

Humanity has an obligation to others. The capitalist crowd purport that one is solely responsible for one's won gain. Not so. We live in a country that provides opportunity, those who succeed by that opportunity have not done so merely off their own back. They have done so in a particular society. You need look no further than the African continent to see that personal/material gain is not subject solely to the individual. The repressive and tyrannous society much of Africa plays down the effort of the individual, regardless of their admirable effort and determination.

I hope Kant may agree with me that Rand, the republicans and the ideological conservatives has an obligation to be quiet and sit down.

[Jun 23, 2019] Ayn Rand was a bitter, unhappy and twisted individual. That so many follow her is testament only to the power of the propaganda machine controlled by the elite.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

sirmoonface , 6 Mar 2012 09:29

...Ayn Rand was a bitter, unhappy and twisted individual. That so many follow her is testament only to the power of the propaganda machine controlled by the elite.

This says it all:-
"I wonder how many would continue to worship at the shrine of Ayn Rand if they knew that towards the end of her life she signed on for both Medicare and social security. She had railed furiously against both programmes, as they represented everything she despised about the intrusive state. Her belief system was no match for the realities of age and ill health."

It would be hard to find a better metaphor for our banking system.

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand as George Monbiot points out lacked subtely, irony and doubt that is essential for philosophical, political and social and economic analysis. Just like the Neo-Cons stilt by GeorgeMonbiot

Notable quotes:
"... In my opinion Ryan had no true understanding of the point of philosophical debate or that a system is meant to have a practical effect on all Society I mean that is the entire point of Plato in his Republic is to build a Just Society. ..."
"... I agree with Epicurus that a philosophy is truly worthless unless it heals your mind and your soul from misconceptions and false beliefs. ..."
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

GeorgeMonbiot, 6 Mar 2012 09:19

One reason why Ayn Rand may be popular is that unfortunately to an increasing extent in Western philosophy today individualism is necessarily equated with selfishness. This is not axiomatic. Individualism would literally not exist and would be ineffectual in practice without the support of others, whether family and/or friends, education, technology, work and society and the state in general. Rand did not see the contadictions in her own life and not just at the end of it.

Although being Jewish and brought up in anti-Semitic Tsarist Russia (a prejudice not unknown in Bolshevik Russia to) she was allowed on the principle of all individuals have rights and was well off enough to go to university in what was then Petrograd.

Rand supported what was probably the most popular party in Russia, the Social Revolutionaries led by Alexander Kerensky.

If only he had been successful rather than Lenin the hard pressed Russian peoples may have been saved from all sorts of evils and the West too?

On emigrating to America she worked in Hollywood so benefiting from the new technology of film making, the climatic conditions that California provided so necessary for the industry's success, and capitalism that funded it. Capitalism cannot exist without myriad social interactions between individuals; even the self-employed need customers.

Rand as George Monbiot points out lacked subtely, irony and doubt that is essential for philosophical, political and social and economic analysis. Just like the Neo-Cons and their knee jerk opponents today.

epicurean27 , 6 Mar 2012 09:07
Her theories are based in her social class she never truly had to suffer it appears even in Russia. I do not call her a philosopher she is no true philosopher simply a rich person trying to work her views for the betterment of her social class.

I have read many of the Greek thinkers from Plato to Epicetius and no Greek thinker ever removed Ethics entirly from their systems. The Stoics for example taught Phyisics, Logic, and Ethics. Ethics is in fact a major part of Plato, Airstotle and the two other schools of Hellenstic times though the Skepics are an ouliner.

In my opinion Ryan had no true understanding of the point of philosophical debate or that a system is meant to have a practical effect on all Society I mean that is the entire point of Plato in his Republic is to build a Just Society.

I am a life long philosopher in training and I agree with Epicurus that a philosophy is truly worthless unless it heals your mind and your soul from misconceptions and false beliefs.

There was a essay I read at University that Rand makes me think about. It was titled Life Boat Ethics. It was an argument for the rich nations not supporting the poorer nations. The Argument was like this.

1st Principle Our world is limited in Resources.

Prismse A

Imagine all the world is made up of life boats. The rich have the best life boats in the seas of fate. They made them they protect them and improve them and attempt to keep them afloat through stopping infighting on board and keeping steady crew without over crowding.

Primse B

While the poor nations have basic life rafts that are made of the lowest quality and are sinking and leaving their crews and the mercy of nature.
Because of their lack of strict work ethic and willingness to trade long term goas for short term enjoyments and constant infighting for anamialistic lusts they are unwilling to create better life boats like the rich nations and control their populations on broad.

Primse C

Helping the poorer nations might seem face of it to be good but it is really fighting nature and that is truly wrong.

Primse D

The wise course is to allow the poorer nations to sink in th ocean and give the richer and indeed superior peoples more room to sail these harsh seas. To found new boats and new lives for they are the people that matter anyways.

Concluision

Rich nations out to have self interest as their drive for all things and ought to not care about those problems that do no directly effect their personal lives.

This essay I believe has become reality we here in Europe and accross the Sea in America are seeing this logic working out in real life and I believe the Left s no way to stop it at present but we better not stop or we will be the kids on a raft just wanting in a boat for simply a better life.

Philosophy as true power people ought to learn to resepect its force in our world I do.

[Jun 23, 2019] This precisely is where Ayn Rand kicks in.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 08:36

This is where Rand kicks in, I have no interest in your health and nor do I have a responsibility for it no matter what your chosen group of penny loafer-ed box checkers say

I have no interest in purchasing your latest nuclear weapons, defending your country, subsidising your royal family, bailing out your bankers, constructing and maintaining the pavements outside your house, lighting your street, subsidising your MPs, paying for your police call out when you've been burgled, sweeping your streets, subsidising the collection of your rubbish, oh and paying for that fire in your house to be extinguished no matter what your box checkers say. No interest whatsoever. This precisely is where Ayn Rand kicks in.

[Jun 23, 2019] According to Ayn Rand, we are supposed to consider the rich and successful as supreme individualists who are simply the fittest to lead in a dog eat dog world.

Notable quotes:
"... Curious that the Ayn Rand's of this world are always very keen on a socialized police force and armed services. Presumably, they consider these services the first line of defense against the starving mob. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

brackley1 , 6 Mar 2012 05:36

Curious that the Ayn Rand's of this world are always very keen on a socialized police force and armed services. Presumably, they consider these services the first line of defense against the starving mob.

According to Ayn Rand, we are supposed to consider the rich and successful as supreme individualists who are simply the fittest to lead in a dog eat dog world.

However, looking at powerful individuals with their soft pudgy faces, their paunchy bodies and carefully groomed hair it is obvious that these people are not born to rule. Curiously, when they are threatened by an outside force, it is never them who serve but the useless poor who are expected to develop a sense of community, quaintly called patriotism, and defend them. Does anyone really imagine that in a true meritocracy these same people would survive and prosper.

[Jun 23, 2019] People who are drawn to Rand are drawn to her because they want to excuse their own selfishness as some sort of ideal.

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

ArchibaldLeach , 6 Mar 2012 02:39

Rand is the Republican God...well, her and Jesus. They just love her love of selfishness. It's what the GOP thinks makes America great. They talk about individualism, freedom, and so on but it's really all about the rich getting to keep all their money. People who are drawn to Rand are drawn to her because they want to excuse their own selfishness as some sort of ideal.
redshrink , 6 Mar 2012 02:35
To describe Ayn Rand's ideas as philosophy really is gilding a turd. She may have called it "objectivism", but the -ism suggests an intellectual stringency, which it simply lacks. "Atlas Shrugged" is a work of badly written fiction, or propaganda rather, not a philosophical text, but that distinction is easily lost on a gullible American public. While it may now play the role of guiding text of the American right as opposed to Marx' writings for the left, Rand's preposterous ideology is more the intellectual and moral equivalent to "Mein Kampf" than to "Das Kapital". That such a nasty and amoral doctrine should find favour with a nation, which sees itself as "Christian", underlines how hollow that particular brand of Christianity has become.

[Jun 23, 2019] What are the chances that almost one third of Americans have read a book?

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

ohcomeoffit , 6 Mar 2012 08:36

"Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged"

Subs: surely that should be "... have read about Atlas Shrugged". What are the chances that almost one third of Americans have read a book?

[Jun 23, 2019] Unrestrained selfishness is like allowing people in a room to slash each other's throats-eventually the room ends up full of dead people-forgive the sarcam but is this a fantastic outcome that we should all aspire to!

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

Aeschyluss48 , 6 Mar 2012 04:32

Policies like this will produce 1 rich person and approximately 999,999,999 poor people-if put into effect, yet remarkably are popular! I can understand millionaires and billionaires liking this philosophy but what about the normal people, the middle-classes who flock to this?

Either they think they are richer than they are-in which case a wake-up call is coming! Or they think they themselves will never need society's safety-net-in which case for many a wake-up call is again coming! Or they think that if they pull with the system one day they too will be rich-sadly becoming rich in Western society (US/UK) is like winning the lottery-"it could be you!"-yes it COULD be you, it probably won't be you, in fact it will almost certainly not be you-but yes we can't rule out the statement "it COULD be you!"-hoping for a 1 in a million, million chance in effect.

Unrestrained selfishness is like allowing people in a room to slash each other's throats-eventually the room ends up full of dead people-forgive the sarcam but is this a fantastic outcome that we should all aspire to! Condemning the majority of society to misery so a very few can live the high-life is no way to run a world-yes it is true that we in the west do this all the time-today countless unseen millions live on less than 2 dollars per day-human life and pecious (literally once in a lifetime) human potential wasted-utterly wasted!

As for the quote that Rand went onto Medicare etc towards the end of her life-if true this is yet another example of something I've often considered to be true-that those of extreme political views (be it right-wing or left-wing) are invariably selfish, egocentric hypocrites-and when you come to see this it is an ugly world! The bank-bail-outs are a prime example-we are preached about "taking responsibility" by our leaders but this only applies to unemployed people and the poor (or "feckless" to use the common parlance)-when very rich bankers mess up as a result of their own poor decisions they are bailed out by the very same government they previously professed to despise-yes that it taking responsibility in action isn't it?, that is being morally virtuous?-pure and utter distilled hypocrisy in action! As for Rand coming from a rich family-is thre anybody of a right ing viewpoin that wasn't born into money-have any of them knon the poverty (at first hand) that they are so quick to describe in unflattering terms!

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand provides the unifying ideology which has "distilled vague anger and unhappiness into a sense of purpose".

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

pretzelberg , 6 Mar 2012 07:49

Rand, Weiss argues, provides the unifying ideology which has "distilled vague anger and unhappiness into a sense of purpose".

And don't forget: resentment.

Nietzsche would have had a field day with the superficial likes of Rand.

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand praises her creative geniuses as men who always pay their workers well in order to attract into their employment the best workers in the industry. This idea seems reasonable so why don't the current Randian devotees within capitalist corporations do it?

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

NIViking , 6 Mar 2012 12:05

Although I find the basic Objectivist philosophy objectionable there is one part of Atlas Shrugged that has always puzzled me.

Rand praises her creative geniuses as men who always pay their workers well in order to attract into their employment the best workers in the industry. This idea seems reasonable so why don't the current Randian devotees within capitalist corporations do it?

Anyway, the difference between Rand's capitalism and what we have today is that all her genius's own their own companies whereas that can't be said for most of the CEO s in the modern world. Arguably the working class now includes the highest levels of the boardroom and the directors are as much in thrall to their bosses as are the company cleaners.

Modern capitalism's fatal flaw is the shareholder who, in many cases, doesn't even know which company their investment/pension fund has invested in. We, the public, are the owners of these companies and it is up to us whether we ask our investments to behave as ethical organisations or whether we continue to let them pressure the boards of directors of the world into producing greater and greater returns.

Unless you own no products based on shares then YOU are the new boss and arguably you are worse than the old boss.

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand ideas

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

wesg , 6 Mar 2012 07:19

Ayn's ideas - imo - were just elitist sentiment that leaned toward fascism, clearly she was watching to many movies (even way back then).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dictator_charlie5.jpg

Thats Chaplin in 'The Great dictator'.

"Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! " -Chaplin. (entire quote can be found here - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032553/quotes )

[Jun 23, 2019] The central flaw of objectivism - a kind of wishful-thinking moral alchemy where base selfishness somehow turns into something better

Notable quotes:
"... isn't unique to the 'right' by any means. identity politics is riddled with it, although they call it 'empowerment'. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

inappropriate , 6 Mar 2012 07:32

The central flaw of objectivism - a kind of wishful-thinking moral alchemy where base selfishness somehow turns into something better - isn't unique to the 'right' by any means. identity politics is riddled with it, although they call it 'empowerment'.

[Jun 23, 2019] The obvious reason why Ann Rand took Social Security under an assumed name is that she knew perfectly well it wouldn't sit with the bollocks about 'rugged individualism' and it will be viewed as ranky hypocrisy.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Hellzapoppin , 6 Mar 2012 12:08

have no problem with Rand accepting social security payments, if she was legally entitled to them. That's what they are there for. But I wonder why she chose to do so under an assumed name, if that is correct. If she had wanted to make the point that she was taking back some of her own money, surely that point would have been better made by being open about it.

The obvious reason why she did it under an assumed name is that she knew perfectly well it wouldn't sit with the bollocks about 'rugged individualism', and wouldn't be seen as 'taking back her own money' (what if her medical care amounted to more than the portion of her taxes assigned to medicare?), but as ranky hypocrisy.

Not to mention it would be an intellectualy circle she could never square.

Hellzapoppin , 6 Mar 2012 12:01

Rand was a woman who, on her death bed, praised wealth and independence, while simultaneously begging charity and succor from the state.

That would be a flaw in the woman, not the ideology, lets stick to that eh?

No, absolutely a flaw in in the ideology. If it's creator wasn't prepared to see it through to the then, why think anyone would?

Any ideology that so fundamentally fails to understand human nature, our needs and desires, our flaws, our alturism, and that we're fundamentally social animals, shouldn't even be begun to be taken seriously.

The rank hypocrisy aside, what she did on her death bed was far more rational than the nonsense she'd been preaching her whole life.

Bourdillon , 6 Mar 2012 09:25

I wonder how many would continue to worship at the shrine of Ayn Rand if they knew that towards the end of her life she signed on for both Medicare and social security. She had railed furiously against both programmes, as they represented everything she despised about the intrusive state. Her belief system was no match for the realities of age and ill health.

Probably wouldn't change anything. Cameron claimed the same Disability Living Allowance for his son that he is now taking away from disabled and terminally ill people in this country.

Greed is slowing evolution. We are deliberately cultivating a generation whose only purpose is to pay off the debts of the last one. Progress has stopped, so why are we continuing on the same course?

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand's philosophy is the philosophy of the psychopath, but you can see its appeal: it absolves her acolytes of the need to care.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

iwouldprefernotto , 6 Mar 2012 11:33

Brilliant piece. Rand's philosophy is the philosophy of the psychopath, but you can see its appeal: it absolves her acolytes of the need to care. It must feel tremendously liberating, if you're that way inclined (i.e. a self-proclaimed ubermensch with a serious empathy deficit.)

I remember reading an interview with Harry Stein, author of 'How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy: And Found Inner Peace'. He said that becoming right-wing made him realise that he didn't have to worry about everything constantly. I'm fairly sure that you can be a liberal without perpetually flagellating yourself for the sins of the world.

OldHob -> postcolonial , 6 Mar 2012 11:32
Her writing may as well be used to legitimise the business methods of Montana in Scarface, and a loveley example of the Rand thought processes, here now, in the present day - The Russian version of capitalism......Gangsterism is about right. The morals of the shark tank.
tomcmc , 6 Mar 2012 11:22
"Rand's is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed."

In a nutshell, Mr Monbiot.

Her definitions and descriptions are certainly consistent with a clinical diagnosis of psychopathy.

Chilling to think that some policymakers treat this poison as a bible to inform their world view.

butchluva -> EnglishroG , 6 Mar 2012 11:13
I think she just hated herself and never grew up and projected that onto everyone else. (The teenage boys analogy is apposite.) It is central to right-wing (and ultra-religious) mindsets that everything that happens in the world is somebody else's fault, never theirs, they relinquish any responsibility for or role in any social problems or dynamics, especially and ironically those things to do with the way they are. They are the ultimate victims and this is a kind of psychosocial infantilism. They talk a lot about the need for 'personal responsibility' (in theory) because they don't have any, and act the opposite. They need a spurious 'objectivism' to hide behind, a 'reality' separate from human consciousness (as another contributor correctly identified) because of a crushing insecurity. Their superiority complexes are an ultra transparent and futile warding off of crippling feelings of inferiority. It is an abject, and dangerous state of mind. Fortunately many people who go through this phase grow out of it, they have a dark night of the soul, flashes of insight into themselves, are forced to face their shit and become better people or whatever. People like Ayn Rand, err, don't. Sad.
gixxerman006 -> Kairolocus , 6 Mar 2012 10:56
Opps, I'll try that again....


6 March 2012 1:55PM


Rand was a creep. Her personal life was a train wreck. Described in biographies as cruel, megalomaniacal, ungrateful and tasteless, she surrounded herself with a cult of loyal followers. She made a cuckold of her husband and humiliated him in public when he began suffering from dementia. She was addicted to amphetamines. By all accounts, she was not a very nice person. After William Edward Hickman kidnapped and dismembered a 12-year-old girl, she wrote admiringly of the state of mind that could engage in such an atrocity:

"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should". Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people."

This echoes almost word for word Rand's later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: ' He was born without the ability to consider others .'"

It's amazing that this drug-addled, adulterous, cruel & utterly graceless individual is held in such regard by a significant chunk of right-wing America.
Her athiesism alone would bar anyone else from a moments consideration nevermind such veneration.

Her appeal it seems to me is in offering superficial answers in an utterly certain way that allows for no question or time spent (in Objectivist terms 'wasted') considering alternates (ie the pure demigogue).
Sadly that sort of rubbish has an appeal to a certain (usually male) adolescent mindset......and in a nation where the media is devoted to treating its populace as if they were late teen/early 20-somethings all their lifes it doesn't surprise me she has a small but noteable following.

Given the way the UK is being pushed to discard our own & embrace American 'pop' culture I wouldn't be surprised to see something similar begin here either.
Sadly.

weathereye -> Kairolocus , 6 Mar 2012 10:49

she wrote admiringly of the state of mind that could engage in such an atrocity:


it is striking that the human population appears to maintain a level of psychopathy, rather as some deleterious genes are persistent despite their selective unfitness for the group and their prtogressive removal and disappearance being advantageous. I guess that rather like e.g. haemophilia, psychopathy needs to be recognised for what it is, and its maladaptiveness treated and contained as well as possible. There is a lot of rather florid social-behavioural/economic-political disorder around at present in a very chaotic human environment. There are plenty more Rands waving their GOP flags right now.

Kairolocus , 6 Mar 2012 08:55
Rand was a creep. Her personal life was a train wreck. Described in biographies as cruel, megalomaniacal, ungrateful and tasteless, she surrounded herself with a cult of loyal followers. She made a cuckold of her husband and humiliated him in public when he began suffering from dementia. She was addicted to amphetamines. By all accounts, she was not a very nice person. After William Edward Hickman kidnapped and dismembered a 12-year-old girl, she wrote admiringly of the state of mind that could engage in such an atrocity:

"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should". Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people."

This echoes almost word for word Rand's later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: 'He was born without the ability to consider others.'"

Nice!

[Jun 23, 2019] As for Rand the BBC need to repeat Adam Curtis' All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. Brilliant and shocking.

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

miked453 , 6 Mar 2012 08:58

Excellent piece as ever George. The BBC need to repeat Adam Curtis' All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace . Brilliant and shocking.

Irishscouser , 6 Mar 2012 06:10

If you watch Curtis' excellent 'All watched over by Robots of loving grace' you can see how utterly fraudulent Rand comes across, she seemed a bitter, lonely and pathetic creature whose petty and vindictive asides at society was one built on a complete insecurity complex, she was just acting out her own debauched fantasies and she found the right home (the US) to fulfill them.

It says something of a society, and inparticularly the utterly nutty 'Tea Party' to see Rand as champion of 'free will' and ' deregulation' in fact only in the US could her views be actually takens seriously, so much so they named a corporation after her.

Now that's scary!!!

NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 05:59

@romantotale17

Frighteningly I suspect that the autocrats-in-planning are reading Kurzweil lately, who combines the New Right with the Randian Silicon Valley cyber-utopianism of which Curtis describes in his doco.

Kurzewil is Rand's John Galt as cyborg.

[Jun 23, 2019] On quality of Rand writings

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Fortress -> conanthebarbarian , 6 Mar 2012 11:01

She wrote on on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy and aesthetics to name but a few.

Lots of Cif commenters do that every day. Unfortunately, what they write is mostly crap.

[Jun 23, 2019] Rand and sexual selection

Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

justaname -> EnglishroG , 6 Mar 2012 13:12

Rant's work has a special appeal to obnoxious teenage boys; friendless and unappreciated, toxic to girls, they take a special comfort in identifying with Rant's socially crippled isolated misunderstood geniuses and enjoy the rape scenes in the novels where the heroine enjoys the whole experience.

Interesting, and I'd say important comments... I think sexual selection is basically the issue. As much as I didn't like the film Happy Go Lucky I thought the Scott character was interesting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40Dw1Q2jvsY
how many 'creeps' are marginalised by crude sexual selection, blatant cruel discrimination, the willful flaunting of what is essentially genetic luck; what better to engender a zero sum sense of a world based on unfairness?

There have been experiments with depressed subordinate monkeys (Alpha males removed), one of which is given a serotonin boosting drug... (like MDMA I think) that monkey quickly rises to alpha male status.

If people, as they're so inclined to do, identify with their sexuality to the exclusion of virtue (after all what better than virtue, a conscience, to pour cold water on casual sex? hence the problem of binge drinking) they will in many cases derive enough narcissistic confidence to be 'successful' - in exactly the way that unscrupulous bankers would wish.

Many of the losers will turn to Rand... and far worse, I fear.

[Jun 23, 2019] The Tea Party loonies are modern ' Randies', and idolize John Galt [hero of Atlas Shrugged ]. Like malaria, this disease is highly resistant to eradication and still kills millions

Notable quotes:
"... In short, according to Mettler, the rich complain about the state while taking most of the benefits that the state provides. ..."
"... The Tea Party loonies are modern ' Randies', and idolize John Galt [hero of Atlas Shrugged ]. Like malaria, this disease is highly resistant to eradication and still kills millions. ..."
"... It proceeds in a more subtle way, showing that the rich and the affluent benefit from the state and benefit even more than the poorer. It's the rich that use the state for their benefit, not the poorer. ..."
"... Ayn Rand's objectivized nonsense, sought to treat humans as objects - see the experience of the farmed animal (similarly prosocial animals). ..."
"... it is a joke to take fools in much as Hubbard did when he created the Scientology cult. ..."
"... Democratic socialism has long been practiced and until the ascent of destructive neo-liberalism, was the pre-eminent political philosophy from 1945. ..."
"... "Capitalists believe economically that people should be free to choose how to use their capital, free movement of money, for both worker and owner." A position as idealistic and impractical as Rand's. It presupposes that both worker and owner as individuals have equal strength in any negotiation. It presupposes that ownership in itself is moral irrespective of how it was obtained. ..."
"... ...if she we're alive she wouldn't last five seconds on CiF. By modern standards, ironically, she's a light weight. ..."
"... Funny how those supporting this sort of 'philosophy' always see a role for a state to have an army and police force to protect their wealth - surely the true believer in Objectivism would not need such things and any person of money who was unable to protect themselves with their own resources would deserve whatever was coming to them? ..."
Mar 08, 2012 | www.theguardian.com
JohannesL -> murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 14:27
"Free society" is for these righty-wingers a society with unregulated corporate rule where democratic rule by the people for the people ("government") does not exist.

The slave owners' freedom, in other words.

Kikinaskald , 6 Mar 2012 14:23
In short, according to Mettler, the rich complain about the state while taking most of the benefits that the state provides.
murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 14:23
Watching her 1959 interview, I am convinced that her extreme ideology is tangled up with her personal experiences and other psychological factors. She came across as cold and seemingly detached from the humanity around her.

She also appeared entirely untroubled by the fact that others might hold different views, so convinced was she of her rightness.

weathereye , 6 Mar 2012 14:22
The Tea Party loonies are modern ' Randies', and idolize John Galt [hero of Atlas Shrugged ]. Like malaria, this disease is highly resistant to eradication and still kills millions.
Kikinaskald , 6 Mar 2012 14:21
I didn't read the read I mentioned above. According to the book description and an article I read earlier about the book (as far as I remember), the book doesn't show simply that the state is good while the lack of state is bad and so contradict Rand directly.

It proceeds in a more subtle way, showing that the rich and the affluent benefit from the state and benefit even more than the poorer. It's the rich that use the state for their benefit, not the poorer.

This doesn't mean that the absence of a state would be the ideal situation. The rich want a state that works only for their benefit, what is necessary is a state that works for everybody, that diminishes inequality.

gixxerman006 -> EconomicDeterminist , 6 Mar 2012 14:13

EconomicDeterminist 6 March 2012 6:57PM Response to tom1832, 5 March 2012 8:35PM

The left is obsessed with trying to find the intellectual antecedents of the new right. Intellectual?

Indeed. I'm reminded of the outrageously behaved (& therefore isolated by the other kids) sociopathic brat continually being told by its doting mother "there there there, nevermind, don't listen to a word of it, they're only jealous"

Quite how the right-wing imagines anyone on the left does anything but point & laugh at their 'philosophical heroine' (!!?) beggars belief. Rand is simply a damaged intellectual pygmy offering a deeply unoriginal juvenile nonsense so obviously born out of her own refugee experiences.

Mankini -> Spoonface , 6 Mar 2012 14:10
"Rand grew up to be a selfish individualist who claimed both that altruism is harmful, and that human beings are fully rational, with infant and childhood experience exerting no influence on adult behaviour."
Spoonface -> Jaiysun44 , 6 Mar 2012 14:06

I think Rand's addiction to amphetamines over decades is a partial explanation for her sociopathic nature, or perhaps a symptom of it.

Another good explanation is the childhood trauma she experienced when her mother took away her toys for a year (to toughen her up or somesuch). At the end of the year, Rand, still a young child, expected her toys back, only for her mother to tell her that she'd given the toys to the local orphanage. Rand grew up to be a selfish individualist who claimed both that altruism is harmful, and that human beings are fully rational, with infant and childhood experience exerting no influence on adult behaviour.

Not that there's any connection, of course.

TempleCloud -> noiraddict , 6 Mar 2012 14:03

The lies she told came around and bit her in the arse.

A wonderful image. Do you think that's how she met her doom? Cause of death: Bitten to death on the arse by lies.

totemic , 6 Mar 2012 14:02

"The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion to the devaluation of the world of men. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity -- and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally."

Marx's, Labour Theory of Value. An outstanding contribution to how social relations are corrupted within the social economy, through capitalist exploitation. But, communism meant elite prescription - social tyranny.

Ayn Rand's objectivized nonsense, sought to treat humans as objects - see the experience of the farmed animal (similarly prosocial animals).

All I wish to say is, thanks for the universal principle of human rights. And down with Financialization. Another thought provoking article from Mr Monbiot.

Pragmatism , 6 Mar 2012 14:00
I have not read Rand's work but the impression I get from your account of it is that it is a joke to take fools in much as Hubbard did when he created the Scientology cult.
tsubaki , 6 Mar 2012 13:59
and yet even Ayn Rand didnt think the police should be privatized. Well done, Dave!
paulc156 , 6 Mar 2012 13:57

Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged

...According to a Gallup poll done at the end of the twentieth century, about one third of Americans believe aliens have visited us. Hmm.

HarryTheHorse -> DaveG333 , 6 Mar 2012 13:57

Fine, I'll call it "Randism" and now she is all fine and Dandy too.

What are you talking about?

Democratic socialism has long been practiced and until the ascent of destructive neo-liberalism, was the pre-eminent political philosophy from 1945.

Randism is atavistic gobbledegook, that has never been implemented. In the degree to which it has influenced far right politicians in the US and UK, it has proved to be wholly negative.

NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 13:56
@DaveG333

"Capitalists believe economically that people should be free to choose how to use their capital, free movement of money, for both worker and owner." A position as idealistic and impractical as Rand's. It presupposes that both worker and owner as individuals have equal strength in any negotiation. It presupposes that ownership in itself is moral irrespective of how it was obtained.

TempleCloud -> NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 13:55

...if she we're alive she wouldn't last five seconds on CiF. By modern standards, ironically, she's a light weight.

Suraklin , 6 Mar 2012 13:55
Funny how those supporting this sort of 'philosophy' always see a role for a state to have an army and police force to protect their wealth - surely the true believer in Objectivism would not need such things and any person of money who was unable to protect themselves with their own resources would deserve whatever was coming to them?
RobspierreRules -> softMick , 6 Mar 2012 13:46
"Many of us it seems can no longer differentiate between 'right' and 'wrong' or see the importance of defending a sense of common humanity, with those who seek to protect the poor and vulnerable in society scorned and berated,..."

Well said, well written - but in order to turn this around we have to remember we are faced with the dictum "There is no society." The absolute belief in that nihilistic proposition leaves no ground for negotiation. Once again we ask, "What is to be done?"

[Jun 23, 2019] No daring escape - Rand was granted an exit visa in 1925. A staggering act of negligence for which I can never forgive the Soviets.

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

Gingecat , 6 Mar 2012 13:19

And Ayn didn't dig her way out from underneath the Iron curtain. No daring escape - she was granted an exit visa in 1925.

A staggering act of negligence for which I can never forgive the Soviets.

[Jun 23, 2019] Those who espouse Ayn Rand s values would have been ostracised from groups of our ancestors as parasites.

Notable quotes:
"... When will the Right (especially the American Right) accept that their value system is diametrically opposed to the "Christian values" they apparently espouse. The Tea Party would stone "the Good Samaritan" for helping those in need ..."
"... Personally I think Thornstein Veblens philosophy, in Theory of the Leisure Class, one of the best. ..."
"... Rand's is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed. ..."
"... I think the foremost expert on psychopaths today is Dr Robert Hare. He calls them humanity's "intra-species predator"... ..."
"... Psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis debated Nathaniel Branden in New York City in 1967. It was a heated debate. After it, Ellis wrote a short, but excellent book, "Is Objectivism a Religion?" ..."
"... Read, Is Objectivism a Reigion?, and you may understand what you are dealing with. ..."
"... Greenspan who sat at her feet and absorbed Ms. Rand's banal, childish bullshit for many years was the one to repeal the Glasse-Steagal Act at the behest of Citigroup as it later became, which is widely acknowledged as the one event which led to the CDO alphabet soup mania which brought about the credit crunch debacle highlighting the folly of allowing unfetterred greed a la Iron Rand and exposing the nonsense of her capitalist wet dream. ..."
"... Aftrer the crash Greenspan hilariously stated that he had no idea that this could have happened. Who woulda thunk it? He was only the top economist in the US and for decades had preached the Objectivist bullshit only to be shicked when faced with the shitstorm such juvenilia logically pruduces. ..."
"... Atlas Shrugged itself is unreadable (I have heard it described as Mein Kampf written by Barbara Cartland) and it says little for the US that it is such a best seller although I believe the Koch Brothers have bought up millions of copies and made it's study compulsory at colleges they fund. ..."
"... Ayn Rand is the right's Marx? Talk about philosophical degeneration ..."
Mar 08, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

uuuuuuu , 8 Mar 2012 05:43

When will the Right (especially the American Right) accept that their value system is diametrically opposed to the "Christian values" they apparently espouse. The Tea Party would stone "the Good Samaritan" for helping those in need.

Ronald Reagan and Rick Perry have both advocated the abolition of the welfare state.

Humans have evolved as a co-operative species. Those who espouse Ayn Rand's values would have been ostracised from groups of our ancestors as parasites.

wesg -> DanDownes , 8 Mar 2012 05:23
Ayn interview (being the student of 4 years that you are, i assume you have seen this)

Don't let George tell you whats what, listen to the crazy cows own tongue.

JaneBasingstoke , 8 Mar 2012 01:45
Of course in the Douglas Adams take on Atlas Shrugged they all ended up dying from a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSid-p0Xlk0

maybel , 8 Mar 2012 00:16
Personally I think Thornstein Veblens philosophy, in Theory of the Leisure Class, one of the best.
ValueCritic , 7 Mar 2012 16:21
" Rand's is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed. "

He is comparing this to Marx's philosophy? The one that lead to the deaths of tens of millions and dozens of failed states and a century of stunted growth? Is that what George Manbiot calls "efforts to make the word a kinder place"? Well maybe we don't need that again. Maybe we don't need your 'kinder' death of tens of millions, George.

But George will not care what we want, if he is a consistent follower of Marx. He will have altruism, the moral sanction to do good stuff to us weather we want it or not. We can see that Rand was right on that count (among others).

NeilBradley , 7 Mar 2012 13:56
Great article George! I noticed that it was titled 'A Manifesto for Psychopaths' on your blog. Have you read Political Ponerology by Andrew Lobaczewski? He was a psychologist in post-war Communist Poland. Himself and some colleagues conducted painstaking research into psychopathy and uncovered some astonishing information which dovetails nicely with your observations.

I think the foremost expert on psychopaths today is Dr Robert Hare. He calls them humanity's "intra-species predator"...

JDReno , 7 Mar 2012 12:05
i will recommend to those who read books, one volume that has been overlooked, which, once read may explain the Ayn Rand movement.

Psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis debated Nathaniel Branden in New York City in 1967. It was a heated debate. After it, Ellis wrote a short, but excellent book,
"Is Objectivism a Religion?"

Dr. Ellis, a humanist was critical of dogmatic religions. He wrote an essay The case against religion, which stated his belief that elements of dogmatic beliefs were not in patient's self interest.

Read, Is Objectivism a Reigion?, and you may understand what you are dealing with.

I should add I met Ayn Rand when she made her pilgrimage to Boston's Ford Hall Forum. Rand, who was about 5'5", was mobbed by a crowd of admirers. I walked in, took her by the hand and moved her out of the building to a waiting limousine. It was an act of unadultrated altruism.

bighouse , 7 Mar 2012 10:39
Hooray for George Non-bio who once again hits the nail on the head. Just a small thing to add.

Greenspan who sat at her feet and absorbed Ms. Rand's banal, childish bullshit for many years was the one to repeal the Glasse-Steagal Act at the behest of Citigroup as it later became, which is widely acknowledged as the one event which led to the CDO alphabet soup mania which brought about the credit crunch debacle highlighting the folly of allowing unfetterred greed a la Iron Rand and exposing the nonsense of her capitalist wet dream.

Aftrer the crash Greenspan hilariously stated that he had no idea that this could have happened. Who woulda thunk it? He was only the top economist in the US and for decades had preached the Objectivist bullshit only to be shicked when faced with the shitstorm such juvenilia logically pruduces.

Atlas Shrugged itself is unreadable (I have heard it described as Mein Kampf written by Barbara Cartland) and it says little for the US that it is such a best seller although I believe the Koch Brothers have bought up millions of copies and made it's study compulsory at colleges they fund.

Thorning , 7 Mar 2012 09:42
Reader's Digest Book of the Month par excellence, popular like Leon Uris' Exodus and also unknown to official intellectuals.

Danish prime minister Fogh Rasmussen rose to general secretary of NATO brought up on its philosophy; it was about the only book they had on the shelf in his modest country home and "everybody in the household had to read it".

Like its obvious parallel - crowleyanism or even satanism - aynrandism is ignored by elite and media; they simply cannot understand it and know nothing about it. So thanks for this.

DeathbyThatcher , 7 Mar 2012 05:11
Ayn Rand is the right's Marx? Talk about philosophical degeneration
pconl , 7 Mar 2012 04:33
We in the UK have our own poundshop version of Ayn Rand in Jeremy Clarkson whose political philosophy is basically that evil is anything that stops him driving, eating, buying or doing whatever the hell he likes and good is anything that enables him to do whatever the hell the he likes whatever the consequences for others.

In various forms a remarkably popular belief set amongst those with higher than median incomes. See recent discussions on domestic servants for proof.

[Jun 23, 2019] Think We Live in Cruel and Ruthless Times 'Mean Girl' Says to Thank Ayn Rand by Jennifer Szalai

Notable quotes:
"... Rand's simplistic reversals -- selfishness is a virtue, altruism is a sin, capitalism is a deeply moral system that allows human freedom to flourish -- have given her work a patina of transgression, making her beloved by those who consider themselves bold, anti-establishment truth tellers even while they cling to the prevailing hierarchical order. Not for nothing does her enormous fan base include Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Tea Partiers, President Trump and innumerable adolescents. ..."
"... Duggan's short book includes a long section on neoliberalism ..."
"... Duggan, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University and the author of previous books about gender, sexuality and cultural politics, says that her "weird obsession with Ayn Rand began many years ago." She calls "Atlas Shrugged" "heavy-handed, hectoring, relentless," but allows that it is "also iconoclastic, sometimes surprising and even occasionally funny." ..."
"... What seems to fascinate Duggan most is how Rand -- with her unyielding worldview, her extreme, sweeping statements and her intolerance of dissent -- has somehow managed to be reclaimed by those she so cruelly deplored ..."
"... But this is what happens when you devise a philosophical system in which every human relationship is transactional: Before you know it, you'll get co-opted and commodified too. ..."
"... Duggan paints Rand as cynical and shrewd in some ways, and hapless and naïve in others. In 1947, Rand volunteered to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee as a friendly witness ..."
"... She developed a debilitating amphetamine habit. Her fictional heroes marched forth and conquered life, but real life kept throwing her for a loop. ..."
"... Rand was most successful as a fantasist and "propagandist," Duggan writes, who provided "templates, plot lines and characters" that gave selfishness an alluring sheen. In Rand's universe, capitalism was glamorous and liberating, with none of the mundane concerns -- haggling over health insurance, paying off student loans, scrambling for child care, managing precarious employment -- that consume so much of everyday American experience. ..."
"... Reading Duggan on Rand's current fans made me think of the 1946 preface to Rand's early novel "Anthem," in which she railed against "the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom." Surveying the wreckage, such people expect "to escape moral responsibility by wailing: 'But I didn't mean this !'" ..."
May 22, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

Books of The Times

'Mean Girl' Says to Thank Ayn Rand Think We Live in Cruel and Ruthless Times?

Buy Book

Ayn Rand liked to see herself as an ardent custodian of truth, but in her own life she had a hard time abiding too much reality. The critical recognition she craved mostly eluded her -- her best-selling novels "The Fountainhead" (1943) and "Atlas Shrugged" (1957) were lurid, melodramatic, full of implausible characters and turgid harangues -- and as her fame and notoriety grew, she retreated to the safe harbor of her acolytes.

Or presumably safe. As Lisa Duggan explains in "Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed," when Rand's affair with a much younger disciple soured in the late 1960s, her Objectivist movement -- which venerated a single, knowable reality, rationally apprehended by gloriously self-interested individuals -- seemed on the brink of collapse. "Emotion," Duggan writes, "had brought down the house of reason."

It's the kind of strange, glaring paradox that makes Rand a useful emblem for our topsy-turvy moment, Duggan says. Rand's simplistic reversals -- selfishness is a virtue, altruism is a sin, capitalism is a deeply moral system that allows human freedom to flourish -- have given her work a patina of transgression, making her beloved by those who consider themselves bold, anti-establishment truth tellers even while they cling to the prevailing hierarchical order. Not for nothing does her enormous fan base include Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Tea Partiers, President Trump and innumerable adolescents.

But then her ideas are too rigid to be neatly amenable to any real-world programs. Duggan's short book includes a long section on neoliberalism that seems, for a while, to lose sight of Rand. Despite her mentorship of Alan Greenspan, who would eventually become the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Rand was "not exactly a neoliberal herself," Duggan writes. She also refused to support the election of Ronald Reagan, deriding him for succumbing to "the God, family, tradition swamp." She was an atheist and a fierce advocate for abortion rights.

Now, almost four decades after Rand's death in 1982, right-wing nationalism and evangelical Christianity are ascendant at the same time as economic globalization and the erosion of the welfare state. Is there anything that ties this turbulence together? Yes, Duggan says, but it isn't the vaunted rationality that Rand fetishized as much as it is the feelings she validated. "The unifying threads are meanness and greed," Duggan writes of the current moment, "and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand."

Rand wasn't an especially sophisticated thinker who delved into primary texts to elaborate her philosophical system; she did, however, have a flair for the dramatic. One of her first jobs after emigrating from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1926 was as a scriptwriter for Cecil B. DeMille. She brought that theatrical sensibility to novels like "The Fountainhead," which, in Duggan's astute appraisal, offers "numerous plot twists but no real surprises." In both "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged," Rand strenuously played to the aspirations and desires of her readers. "Ayn Rand made acquisitive capitalists sexy," Duggan writes. The novels "are conversion machines that run on lust."

As befitting machines, the novels seem less literary than engineered. The Randian heroine is a Mean Girl -- tall, svelte, severe. The Randian hero is a Mean Boy -- tall, muscular, severe. Her villains are short and doughy, cursed with receding chins and dandruff. The undeserving weak exploit the worthy and the strong. The United States she depicts is ahistoric and sanitized for her readers' consumption -- "a clean slate for pure capitalist freedom, with no indigenous people, no slaves, no exploited immigrants or workers in sight," Duggan writes. In "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" there's certainly sex but no pregnancies; nothing that might interfere with all the creative destruction her characters have to do.

Duggan, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University and the author of previous books about gender, sexuality and cultural politics, says that her "weird obsession with Ayn Rand began many years ago." She calls "Atlas Shrugged" "heavy-handed, hectoring, relentless," but allows that it is "also iconoclastic, sometimes surprising and even occasionally funny."

What seems to fascinate Duggan most is how Rand -- with her unyielding worldview, her extreme, sweeping statements and her intolerance of dissent -- has somehow managed to be reclaimed by those she so cruelly deplored. Rand described homosexuality as "immoral" and "disgusting," yet her "rages against the strictures of family, church and state appeal to many L.G.B.T.Q. readers." The younger generation of libertarians who approvingly cite Rand today might be surprised to learn that she derided their forebears as "hippies" and, with typical hyperbole, "a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people."

But this is what happens when you devise a philosophical system in which every human relationship is transactional: Before you know it, you'll get co-opted and commodified too.

Duggan paints Rand as cynical and shrewd in some ways, and hapless and naïve in others. In 1947, Rand volunteered to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee as a friendly witness, delivering histrionic testimony that managed to alienate everyone, suggesting that she "never fully grasped" how Hollywood worked, or how government worked, or how the balance of power worked between the two. She liked to affect a steely, imperious persona, but she was deeply insecure and easily wounded. She developed a debilitating amphetamine habit. Her fictional heroes marched forth and conquered life, but real life kept throwing her for a loop.

Rand was most successful as a fantasist and "propagandist," Duggan writes, who provided "templates, plot lines and characters" that gave selfishness an alluring sheen. In Rand's universe, capitalism was glamorous and liberating, with none of the mundane concerns -- haggling over health insurance, paying off student loans, scrambling for child care, managing precarious employment -- that consume so much of everyday American experience.

Reading Duggan on Rand's current fans made me think of the 1946 preface to Rand's early novel "Anthem," in which she railed against "the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom." Surveying the wreckage, such people expect "to escape moral responsibility by wailing: 'But I didn't mean this !'"

[Jun 23, 2019] How Ayn Rand became the new right's version of Marx by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
George Monbiot is right: Rand was probably a female sociopath...
Notable quotes:
"... Through her novels (such as Atlas Shrugged) and her nonfiction (such as The Virtue of Selfishness) she explained a philosophy she called Objectivism. This holds that the only moral course is pure self-interest. We owe nothing, she insists, to anyone, even to members of our own families. She described the poor and weak as "refuse" and "parasites", and excoriated anyone seeking to assist them. Apart from the police, the courts and the armed forces, there should be no role for government: no social security, no public health or education, no public infrastructure or transport, no fire service, no regulations, no income tax. ..."
"... Rand's is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed. Yet, as Gary Weiss shows in his new book, Ayn Rand Nation, she has become to the new right what Karl Marx once was to the left: a demigod at the head of a chiliastic cult. Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged, and it now sells hundreds of thousands of copies every year. ..."
"... the Tea Party movement has taken her to its heart. No rally of theirs is complete without placards reading "Who is John Galt?" and "Rand was right". Rand, Weiss argues, provides the unifying ideology which has "distilled vague anger and unhappiness into a sense of purpose". She is energetically promoted by the broadcasters Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli. She is the guiding spirit of the Republicans in Congress. ..."
"... It is not hard to see why Rand appeals to billionaires. She offers them something that is crucial to every successful political movement: a sense of victimhood. She tells them that they are parasitised by the ungrateful poor and oppressed by intrusive, controlling governments. ..."
"... the most devoted member of her inner circle was Alan Greenspan , former head of the US Federal Reserve. ..."
"... As for bankers, their need to win the trust of their clients guarantees that they will act with honour and integrity. Unregulated capitalism, he maintains, is a "superlatively moral system". ..."
"... Once in government, Greenspan applied his guru's philosophy to the letter, cutting taxes for the rich, repealing the laws constraining banks, refusing to regulate the predatory lending and the derivatives trading which eventually brought the system down. Much of this is already documented, but Weiss shows that in the US, Greenspan has successfully airbrushed history. ..."
Mar 05, 2012 | www.theguardian.com
Her psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims and turned millions of followers into their doormats Comments 1,227 Illustration by Daniel Pudles I t has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the postwar world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power. It has already been tested, and has failed spectacularly and catastrophically. Yet the belief system constructed by Ayn Rand , who died 30 years ago today, has never been more popular or influential.

Rand was a Russian from a prosperous family who emigrated to the United States. Through her novels (such as Atlas Shrugged) and her nonfiction (such as The Virtue of Selfishness) she explained a philosophy she called Objectivism. This holds that the only moral course is pure self-interest. We owe nothing, she insists, to anyone, even to members of our own families. She described the poor and weak as "refuse" and "parasites", and excoriated anyone seeking to assist them. Apart from the police, the courts and the armed forces, there should be no role for government: no social security, no public health or education, no public infrastructure or transport, no fire service, no regulations, no income tax.

Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, depicts a United States crippled by government intervention in which heroic millionaires struggle against a nation of spongers. The millionaires, whom she portrays as Atlas holding the world aloft, withdraw their labour, with the result that the nation collapses. It is rescued, through unregulated greed and selfishness, by one of the heroic plutocrats, John Galt .

The poor die like flies as a result of government programmes and their own sloth and fecklessness. Those who try to help them are gassed. In a notorious passage, she argues that all the passengers in a train filled with poisoned fumes deserved their fate. One, for instance, was a teacher who taught children to be team players; one was a mother married to a civil servant, who cared for her children; one was a housewife "who believed that she had the right to elect politicians, of whom she knew nothing".

Rand's is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed. Yet, as Gary Weiss shows in his new book, Ayn Rand Nation, she has become to the new right what Karl Marx once was to the left: a demigod at the head of a chiliastic cult. Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged, and it now sells hundreds of thousands of copies every year.

Ignoring Rand's evangelical atheism, the Tea Party movement has taken her to its heart. No rally of theirs is complete without placards reading "Who is John Galt?" and "Rand was right". Rand, Weiss argues, provides the unifying ideology which has "distilled vague anger and unhappiness into a sense of purpose". She is energetically promoted by the broadcasters Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli. She is the guiding spirit of the Republicans in Congress.

Like all philosophies, Objectivism is absorbed, secondhand, by people who have never read it. I believe it is making itself felt on this side of the Atlantic: in the clamorous new demands to remove the 50p tax band for the very rich, for instance; or among the sneering, jeering bloggers who write for the Telegraph and the Spectator, mocking compassion and empathy, attacking efforts to make the word a kinder place.

It is not hard to see why Rand appeals to billionaires. She offers them something that is crucial to every successful political movement: a sense of victimhood. She tells them that they are parasitised by the ungrateful poor and oppressed by intrusive, controlling governments.

It is harder to see what it gives the ordinary teabaggers, who would suffer grievously from a withdrawal of government. But such is the degree of misinformation which saturates this movement and so prevalent in the US is Willy Loman syndrome (the gulf between reality and expectations) that millions blithely volunteer themselves as billionaires' doormats. I wonder how many would continue to worship at the shrine of Ayn Rand if they knew that towards the end of her life she signed on for both Medicare and social security. She had railed furiously against both programmes, as they represented everything she despised about the intrusive state. Her belief system was no match for the realities of age and ill health.

But they have a still more powerful reason to reject her philosophy: as Adam Curtis's BBC documentary showed last year, the most devoted member of her inner circle was Alan Greenspan , former head of the US Federal Reserve. Among the essays he wrote for Rand were those published in a book he co-edited with her called Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal . Here, starkly explained, you'll find the philosophy he brought into government. There is no need for the regulation of business – even builders or Big Pharma – he argued, as "the 'greed' of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking is the unexcelled protector of the consumer". As for bankers, their need to win the trust of their clients guarantees that they will act with honour and integrity. Unregulated capitalism, he maintains, is a "superlatively moral system".

Once in government, Greenspan applied his guru's philosophy to the letter, cutting taxes for the rich, repealing the laws constraining banks, refusing to regulate the predatory lending and the derivatives trading which eventually brought the system down. Much of this is already documented, but Weiss shows that in the US, Greenspan has successfully airbrushed history.

Despite the many years he spent at her side, despite his previous admission that it was Rand who persuaded him that "capitalism is not only efficient and practical but also moral", he mentioned her in his memoirs only to suggest that it was a youthful indiscretion – and this, it seems, is now the official version. Weiss presents powerful evidence that even today Greenspan remains her loyal disciple, having renounced his partial admission of failure to Congress.

Saturated in her philosophy, the new right on both sides of the Atlantic continues to demand the rollback of the state, even as the wreckage of that policy lies all around. The poor go down, the ultra-rich survive and prosper. Ayn Rand would have approved.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at www.monbiot.com

[Jun 15, 2019] The Persistent Ghost of Ayn Rand, the Forebear of Zombie Neoliberalism by Masha Gessen

Ayn Rand deserves a good take down, particularly because of the role her acolytes have played and are currently playing in imposing economic policies that are so blatantly spurious and harmful to the public good (yes--there is such a thing as the public good). Think Ryan. Think Greenspan.
Rand's answer to this challenge differs from more mainstream versions of secular humanism because she emphasizes different values which prioritize the self over others. She assumes that observably superior individuals would benefit by acting on these values, and that they should have the freedom to do so because the rest of us benefit indirectly from their best efforts - innovative new architecture, efficient rail service, transformative inventions and so forth. Rand would argue that it provides social advantages which outweigh the costs. She's the awful thombstone to neoliberal policies that undergird our lives. Contemplate that. In horror.
Notable quotes:
"... And, of course, the spirit of Ayn Rand haunts the White House. Many of Donald Trump 's associates, including the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, have paid homage to her ideas, and the President himself has praised her novel " The Fountainhead. " (Trump apparently identifies with its architect hero, Howard Roark, who blows up a housing project he has designed for being insufficiently perfect.) ..."
"... Their version of Randism is stripped of all the elements that might account for my inability to throw out those books: the pretense of intellectualism, the militant atheism, and the explicit advocacy of sexual freedom. From all that Rand offered, these men have taken only the worst: the cruelty. They are not even optimistic. They are just plain mean. ..."
Jun 06, 2019 | www.newyorker.com

Rand's novels promised to liberate the reader from everything that he had been taught was right and good. She invited her readers to rejoice in cruelty. Her heroes were superior beings certain of their superiority. They claimed their right to triumph by destroying those who were not as smart, creative, productive, ambitious, physically perfect, selfish, and ruthless as they were. Duggan calls the mood of the books "optimistic cruelty." They are mean, and they have a happy ending -- that is, the superior beings are happy in the end. The novels reverse morality. In them, there is no duty to God or one's fellow-man, only to self. Sex is plentiful, free of consequence, and rough. Money and other good things come to those who take them. Rand's plots legitimize the worst effects of capitalism, creating what Duggan calls "a moral economy of inequality to infuse her softly pornographic romance fiction with the political eros that would captivate a mass readership."

Duggan traces Rand's influence, both direct and indirect, on American politics and culture. Rand's fiction was a vehicle for her philosophy, known as Objectivism, which consecrated an extreme form of laissez-faire capitalism and what she called "rational egoism," or the moral and logical duty of following one's own self-interest. Later in life, Rand promoted Objectivism through nonfiction books, articles, lectures, and courses offered through an institute that she established, called the Foundation for the New Intellectual. She was closely allied with Ludwig von Mises, an economist and historian who helped shape neoliberal thinking. When Rand was actively publishing fiction -- from the nineteen-thirties until 1957, when "Atlas Shrugged" came out -- hers was a marginal political perspective. Critics panned her novels, which gained their immense popularity gradually, by word of mouth. Mid-century American political culture was dominated by New Deal thinking, which prized everything that Rand despised: the welfare state, empathy, interdependence. By the nineteen-eighties, however, neoliberal thinking had come to dominate politics. The economist Alan Greenspan, for example, was a disciple of Rand's who brought her philosophy to his role as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Gerald Ford and, from 1987 until 2006, as the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Duggan doesn't blame Rand for neoliberalism, exactly, but she spotlights the Randian spirit of what she calls the "Neoliberal Theater of Cruelty." This theatre would include players we don't necessarily describe as neoliberal. Paul Ryan, the former House Speaker, is a Rand evangelist who gave out copies of "Atlas Shrugged" as Christmas presents to his staff and said that she "did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism." When the Tea Party came out in force against the Affordable Care Act, in 2009, some of its members carried signs reading "Who Is John Galt?," a reference to "Atlas Shrugged."

Rand's spirit is prominent in Silicon Valley, too: the billionaires Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Travis Kalanick, and others have credited Rand with inspiring them. The image of the American tech entrepreneur could have come from one of her novels. If she were alive today, she would probably adopt the word "disruption."

The collapse of the subprime-mortgage market and the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 should have brought about the death of neoliberalism by making plain the human cost of deregulation and privatization; instead, writes Duggan, "zombie neoliberalism" is now stalking the land.

And, of course, the spirit of Ayn Rand haunts the White House. Many of Donald Trump 's associates, including the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, have paid homage to her ideas, and the President himself has praised her novel " The Fountainhead. " (Trump apparently identifies with its architect hero, Howard Roark, who blows up a housing project he has designed for being insufficiently perfect.)

Their version of Randism is stripped of all the elements that might account for my inability to throw out those books: the pretense of intellectualism, the militant atheism, and the explicit advocacy of sexual freedom. From all that Rand offered, these men have taken only the worst: the cruelty. They are not even optimistic. They are just plain mean.

[Jun 14, 2019] Mean Girl Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed by Lisa Duggan

Notable quotes:
"... From the 1980s to 2008, neoliberal politics and policies succeeded in expanding inequality around the world. The political climate Ayn Rand celebrated—the reign of brutal capitalism—intensified. Though Ayn Rand’s popularity took off in the 1940s, her reputation took a dive during the 1960s and ’70s. Then after her death in 1982, during the neoliberal administrations of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, her star rose once more. (See chapter 4 for a full discussion of the rise of neoliberalism.) ..."
"... During the global economic crisis of 2008 it seemed that the neoliberal order might collapse. It lived on, however, in zombie form as discredited political policies and financial practices were restored. ..."
"... We are in the midst of a major global, political, economic, social, and cultural transition — but we don’t yet know which way we’re headed. The incoherence of the Trump administration is symptomatic of the confusion as politicians and business elites jockey with the Breitbart alt-right forces while conservative evangelical Christians pull strings. The unifying threads are meanness and greed, and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand. ..."
"... The current Trump administration is stuffed to the gills with Rand acolytes. Trump himself identifies with Fountainhead character Howard Roark; former secretary of state Rex Tillerson listed Adas Shrugged as his favorite book in a Scouting magazine feature; his replacement Mike Pompeo has been inspired by Rand since his youth. Ayn Rand’s influence is ascendant across broad swaths of our dominant political culture — including among public figures who see her as a key to the Zeitgeist, without having read a worth of her writing.’’ ..."
"... Rand biographer Jennifer Burns asserts simply that Ayn Rand's fiction is “the gateway drug” to right-wing politics in the United States — although her influence extends well beyond the right wing ..."
"... The resulting Randian sense of life might be called “optimistic cruelty.” Optimistic cruelty is the sense of life for the age of greed. ..."
"... The Fountainhead and especially Atlas Shrugged fabricate history and romanticize violence and domination in ways that reflect, reshape, and reproduce narratives of European superiority' and American virtue. ..."
"... It is not an accident that the novels’ fans, though gender mixed, are overwhelmingly white Americans of the professional, managerial, creative, and business classes." ..."
"... Does the pervasive cruelty of today's ruling classes shock you? Or, at least give you pause from time to time? Are you surprised by the fact that our elected leaders seem to despise people who struggle, people whose lives are not cushioned and shaped by inherited wealth, people who must work hard at many jobs in order to scrape by? If these or any of a number of other questions about the social proclivities of our contemporary ruling class detain you for just two seconds, this is the book for you. ..."
"... As Duggan makes clear, Rand's influence is not just that she offered a programmatic for unregulated capitalism, but that she offered an emotional template for "optimistic cruelty" that has extended far beyond its libertarian confines. Mean Girl is a fun, worthwhile read! ..."
"... Her work circulated endlessly in those circles of the Goldwater-ite right. I have changed over many years, and my own life experiences have led me to reject the casual cruelty and vicious supremacist bent of Rand's beliefs. ..."
"... In fact, though her views are deeply-seated, Rand is, at heart, a confidence artist, appealing only to narrow self-interest at the expense of the well-being of whole societies. ..."
Jun 14, 2019 | www.amazon.com

From the Introduction

... ... ...

Mean Girls, which was based on interviews with high school girls conducted by Rosalind Wiseman for her 2002 book Queen Bees and War/tubes, reflects the emotional atmosphere of the age of the Plastics (as the most popular girls at Actional North Shore High are called), as well as the era of Wall Street's Gordon Gekko, whose motto is “Greed is Good.”1 The culture of greed is the hallmark of the neoliberal era, the period beginning in the 1970s when the protections of the U.S. and European welfare states, and the autonomy of postcolonial states around the world, came under attack. Advocates of neoliberalism worked to reshape global capitalism by freeing transnational corporations from restrictive forms of state regulation, stripping away government efforts to redistribute wealth and provide public services, and emphasizing individual responsibility over social concern.

From the 1980s to 2008, neoliberal politics and policies succeeded in expanding inequality around the world. The political climate Ayn Rand celebrated—the reign of brutal capitalism—intensified. Though Ayn Rand’s popularity took off in the 1940s, her reputation took a dive during the 1960s and ’70s. Then after her death in 1982, during the neoliberal administrations of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, her star rose once more. (See chapter 4 for a full discussion of the rise of neoliberalism.)

During the global economic crisis of 2008 it seemed that the neoliberal order might collapse. It lived on, however, in zombie form as discredited political policies and financial practices were restored. But neoliberal capitalism has always been contested, and competing and conflicting political ideas and organizations proliferated and intensified after 2008 as well.

Protest politics blossomed on the left with Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in the United States, and with the Arab Spring, and other mobilizations around the world. Anti-neoliberal electoral efforts, like the Bernie Sanders campaign for the U.S. presidency, generated excitement as well.

But protest and organizing also expanded on the political right, with reactionary populist, racial nationalist, and protofascist gains in such countries as India, the Philippines, Russia, Hungary, and the United States rapidly proliferating. Between these far-right formations on the one side and persistent zombie neoliberalism on the other, operating sometimes at odds and sometimes in cahoots, the Season of Mean is truly upon us.

We are in the midst of a major global, political, economic, social, and cultural transition — but we don’t yet know which way we’re headed. The incoherence of the Trump administration is symptomatic of the confusion as politicians and business elites jockey with the Breitbart alt-right forces while conservative evangelical Christians pull strings. The unifying threads are meanness and greed, and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand.

Rand’s ideas are not the key to her influence. Her writing does support the corrosive capitalism at the heart of neoliberalism, though few movers and shakers actually read any of her nonfiction. Her two blockbuster novels, 'The Fountainpen and Atlas Shrugged, are at the heart of her incalculable impact. Many politicians and government officials going back decades have cited Rand as a formative influence—particularly finance guru and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who was a member of Rand's inner circle, and Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president most identified with the national embrace of neoliberal policies.

Major figures in business and finance are or have been Rand fans: Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Peter Thiel (Paypal), Steve Jobs (Apple), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Mark Cuban (NBA), John Allison (BB&T Banking Corporation), Travis Kalanik (Uber), Jelf Bezos (Amazon), ad infinitum.

There are also large clusters of enthusiasts for Rand’s novels in the entertainment industry, from the 1940s to the present—from Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, and Raquel Welch to Jerry Lewis, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Rob Lowe, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, Ashley Judd, Eva Mendes, and many more.

The current Trump administration is stuffed to the gills with Rand acolytes. Trump himself identifies with Fountainhead character Howard Roark; former secretary of state Rex Tillerson listed Adas Shrugged as his favorite book in a Scouting magazine feature; his replacement Mike Pompeo has been inspired by Rand since his youth. Ayn Rand’s influence is ascendant across broad swaths of our dominant political culture — including among public figures who see her as a key to the Zeitgeist, without having read a worth of her writing.’’

But beyond the famous or powerful fans, the novels have had a wide popular impact as bestsellers since publication. Along with Rand’s nonfiction, they form the core texts for a political/ philosophical movement: Objectivism. There are several U.S.- based Objectivist organizations and innumerable clubs, reading groups, and social circles. A 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that only the Bible had influenced readers more than Atlas Shrugged, while a 1998 Modern Library poll listed The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as the two most revered novels in English.

Atlas Shrugged in particular skyrocketed in popularity in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. The U.S. Tea Party movement, founded in 2009, featured numerous Ayn Rand—based signs and slogans, especially the opening line of Atlas Shrugged: “Who is John Galt?” Republican pundit David Frum claimed that the Tea Party was reinventing the GOP as “the party of Ayn Rand.” During 2009 as well, sales of Atlas Shrugged tripled, and GQ_magazine called Rand the year’s most influential author. A 2010 Zogby poll found that 29 percent of respondents had read Atlas Shrugged, and half of those readers said it had affected their political and ethical thinking.

In 2018, a business school teacher writing in Forbes magazine recommended repeat readings: “Recent events — the bizarro circus that is the 2016 election, the disintegration of Venezuela, and so on make me wonder if a lot of this could have been avoided bad we taken Atlas Shrugged's message to heart. It is a book that is worth re-reading every few years.”3

Rand biographer Jennifer Burns asserts simply that Ayn Rand's fiction is “the gateway drug” to right-wing politics in the United States — although her influence extends well beyond the right wing.4

But how can the work of this one novelist (also an essayist, playwright, and philosopher), however influential, be a significant source of insight into the rise of a culture of greed? In a word: sex. Ayn Rand made acquisitive capitalists sexy. She launched thousands of teenage libidos into the world of reactionary politics on a wave of quivering excitement. This sexiness extends beyond romance to infuse the creative aspirations, inventiveness, and determination of her heroes with erotic energy, embedded in what Rand called her “sense of life.” Analogous to what Raymond Williams has called a “structure of feeling,” Rand’s sense of life combines the libido-infused desire for heroic individual achievement with contempt for social inferiors and indifference to their plight.5

Lauren Berlant has called the structure of feeling, or emotional situation, of those who struggle for a good life under neoliberal conditions “cruel optimism”—the complex of feelings necessary to keep plugging away hopefully despite setbacks and losses.'’ Rand's contrasting sense of life applies to those whose fantasies of success and domination include no doubt or guilt. The feelings of aspiration and glee that enliven Rand’s novels combine with contempt for and indifference to others. The resulting Randian sense of life might be called “optimistic cruelty.” Optimistic cruelty is the sense of life for the age of greed.

Ayn Rand’s optimistic cruelty appeals broadly and deeply through its circulation of familiar narratives: the story of “civilizational” progress, die belief in American exceptionalism, and a commitment to capitalist freedom.

Her novels engage fantasies of European imperial domination conceived as technological and cultural advancement, rather than as violent conquest. America is imagined as a clean slate for pure capitalist freedom, with no indigenous people, no slaves, no exploited immigrants or workers in sight. The Fountainhead and especially Atlas Shrugged fabricate history and romanticize violence and domination in ways that reflect, reshape, and reproduce narratives of European superiority' and American virtue.

Their logic also depends on a hierarchy of value based on radicalized beauty and physical capacity — perceived ugliness or disability' are equated with pronounced worthlessness and incompetence.

Through the forms of romance and melodrama, Rand novels extrapolate the story of racial capitalism as a story of righteous passion and noble virtue. They retell The Birth of a Ntation through the lens of industrial capitalism (see chapter 2). They solicit positive identification with winners, with dominant historical forces. It is not an accident that the novels’ fans, though gender mixed, are overwhelmingly white Americans of the professional, managerial, creative, and business classes."


aslan , June 1, 2019

devastating account of the ethos that shapes contemporary America

Ayn Rand is a singular influence on American political thought, and this book brilliantly unfolds how Rand gave voice to the ethos that shapes contemporary conservatism. Duggan -- whose equally insightful earlier book Twilight of Equality offered an analysis of neoliberalism and showed how it is both a distortion and continuation of classical liberalism -- here extends the analysis of American market mania by showing how an anti-welfare state ethos took root as a "structure of feeling" in American culture, elevating the individual over the collective and promoting a culture of inequality as itself a moral virtue.

Although reviled by the right-wing press (she should wear this as a badge of honor), Duggan is the most astute guide one could hope for through this devastating history of our recent past, and the book helps explain how we ended up where we are, where far-right, racist nationalism colludes (paradoxically) with libertarianism, an ideology of extreme individualism and (unlikely bed fellows, one might have thought) Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.

This short, accessible book is essential reading for everyone who wants to understand the contemporary United States.

Wreck2 , June 1, 2019
contemporary cruelty

Does the pervasive cruelty of today's ruling classes shock you? Or, at least give you pause from time to time? Are you surprised by the fact that our elected leaders seem to despise people who struggle, people whose lives are not cushioned and shaped by inherited wealth, people who must work hard at many jobs in order to scrape by? If these or any of a number of other questions about the social proclivities of our contemporary ruling class detain you for just two seconds, this is the book for you.

Writing with wit, rigor, and vigor, Lisa Duggan explains how Ayn Rand, the "mean girl," has captured the minds and snatched the bodies of so very many, and has rendered them immune to feelings of shared humanity with those whose fortunes are not as rosy as their own. An indispensable work, a short read that leaves a long memory.

kerwynk , June 2, 2019
Valuable and insightful commentary on Rand and Rand's influence on today's world

Mean Girl offers not only a biographical account of Rand (including the fact that she modeled one of her key heroes on a serial killer), but describes Rand's influence on neoliberal thinking more generally.

As Duggan makes clear, Rand's influence is not just that she offered a programmatic for unregulated capitalism, but that she offered an emotional template for "optimistic cruelty" that has extended far beyond its libertarian confines. Mean Girl is a fun, worthwhile read!

Sister, June 3, 2019

Superb poitical and cultural exploration of Rand's influence

Lisa Duggan's concise but substantive look at the political and cultural influence of Ayn Rand is stunning. I feel like I've been waiting most of a lifetime for a book that is as wonderfully readable as it is insightful. Many who write about Rand reduce her to a caricature hero or demon without taking her, and the history and choices that produced her seriously as a subject of cultural inquiry. I am one of those people who first encountered Rand's books - novels, but also some nonfiction and her play, "The Night of January 16th," in which audience members were selected as jurors – as a teenager.

Under the thrall of some right-wing locals, I was so drawn to Rand's larger-than-life themes, the crude polarization of "individualism" and "conformity," the admonition to selfishness as a moral virtue, her reductive dismissal of the public good as "collectivism."

Her work circulated endlessly in those circles of the Goldwater-ite right. I have changed over many years, and my own life experiences have led me to reject the casual cruelty and vicious supremacist bent of Rand's beliefs.

But over those many years, the coterie of Rand true believers has kept the faith and expanded. One of the things I value about Duggan's compelling account is her willingness to take seriously the far reach of Rand's indifference to human suffering even as she strips away the veneer that suggests Rand's beliefs were deep.

In fact, though her views are deeply-seated, Rand is, at heart, a confidence artist, appealing only to narrow self-interest at the expense of the well-being of whole societies.

I learned that the hard way, but I learned it. Now I am recommending Duggan's wise book to others who seek to understand today's cultural and political moment in the United States and the rise of an ethic of indifference to anybody but the already affluent. Duggan is comfortable with complexity; most Randian champions or detractors are not.

[Feb 22, 2019] And please refrain from that socialized, government organized power grid

Feb 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

Biff , says: February 22, 2019 at 2:15 am GMT

@onebornfree You are probably the most whacked out idealist on this site. In your mind all the ills of society is because of socialism.

Well next time your toilet backs up, don't use that socialist phone network to call a plumber to clean those socialized drainpipes that keeps your stinky shit flowing down hill and away to be socially treated – just move to certain parts of India where none of that takes place – it's your idealist utopia. Wallow in it.

And please refrain from that socialized, government organized power grid – it's the only thing that keeps you on this site spewing your nonsense. And stay off those socialized roads.

[Feb 17, 2019] Individuals whose predictions were right-on received absolutely no boost in prestige for their prescience. Ron Paul is the most obvious example. Every warning Paul made about these "interventions" happened.

Feb 17, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Deacon Blue February 16, 2019 at 9:21 am

And the corollary is true as well. Individuals whose predictions were right-on received absolutely no boost in prestige for their prescience. Ron Paul is the most obvious example. Every warning Paul made about these "interventions" happened.

So those whose predictions were wrong, and whose policy recommendations turned out to be disasters and tragedies advance and suffer no consequences for being incredibly wrong. They still obtain high positions (See Bolton).

Those who happened to be right – and took courageous, contrarian positions – are still outcasts and dismissed as "kooks" by the establishment. Sigh.

[Jan 22, 2019] Here are 11 questions you should ask Libertarians to see if they're hypocrites by RJ Eskow

Notable quotes:
"... Are unions, political parties, elections, and social movements like Occupy examples of "spontaneous order" -- and if not, why not? ..."
"... Is a libertarian willing to admit that production is the result of many forces, each of which should be recognized and rewarded? ..."
"... Is our libertarian willing to acknowledge that workers who bargain for their services, individually and collectively, are also employing market forces? ..."
"... Is our libertarian willing to admit that a "free market" needs regulation? ..."
"... Does our libertarian believe in democracy? If yes, explain what's wrong with governments that regulate. ..."
"... Does our libertarian use wealth that wouldn't exist without government in order to preach against the role of government? ..."
"... Does our libertarian reject any and all government protection for his intellectual property? ..."
"... Does our libertarian recognize that democracy is a form of marketplace? ..."
"... Does our libertarian recognize that large corporations are a threat to our freedoms? ..."
"... Does he think that Rand was off the mark on this one, or does he agree that historical figures like King and Gandhi were "parasites"? ..."
"... If you believe in the free market, why weren't you willing to accept as final the judgment against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas? ..."
Jan 20, 2019 | www.alternet.org
We aren't suggesting every libertarian is a hypocrite, but there's an easy way to find out. Libertarians have a problem. Their political philosophy all but died out in the mid- to late-20th century, but was revived by billionaires and corporations that found them politically useful. And yet libertarianism retains the qualities that led to its disappearance from the public stage, before its reanimation by people like the Koch brothers: It doesn't make any sense.

They call themselves "realists" but rely on fanciful theories that have never predicted real-world behavior. They claim that selfishness makes things better for everybody, when history shows exactly the opposite is true. They claim that a mythical "free market" is better at everything than the government is, yet when they really need government protection, they're the first to clamor for it.

That's no reason not to work with them on areas where they're in agreement with people like me. In fact, the unconventionality of their thought has led libertarians to be among this nation's most forthright and outspoken advocates for civil liberties and against military interventions.

Merriam-Webster defines "hypocrisy" as "feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not." We aren't suggesting every libertarian is a hypocrite. But there's an easy way to find out.

The Other Libertarianism

First, some background. There is a kind of libertarianism that's nothing more or less than a strain in the American psyche, an emotional tendency toward individualism and personal liberty. That's fine and even admirable.

We're talking about the other libertarianism, the political philosophy whose avatar is the late writer Ayn Rand. It was once thought that this extreme brand of libertarianism, one that celebrates greed and even brutality, had died in the early 1980s with Rand herself. Many Rand acolytes had already gone underground, repressing or disavowing the more extreme statements of their youth and attempting to blend in with more mainstream schools of thought in respectable occupations.

There was a good reason for that. Randian libertarianism is an illogical, impractical, inhumane, unpopular set of Utopian ravings which lacks internal coherence and has never predicted real-world behavior anywhere. That's why, reasonably enough, the libertarian movement evaporated in the late 20th century, its followers scattered like the wind.

Pay to Play

But the libertarian movement has seen a strong resurgence in recent years, and there's a simple reason for that: money, and the personal interests of some people who have a lot of it. Once relegated to drug-fueled college-dorm bull sessions, political libertarianism suddenly had pretensions of legitimacy. This revival is Koch-fueled, not coke-fueled, and exists only because in political debate, as in so many other walks of life, cash is king.

The Koch brothers are principal funders of the Reason Foundation and Reason magazine. Exxon Mobil and other corporate and billionaire interests are behind the Cato Institute, the other public face of libertarianism. Financiers have also seeded a number of economics schools, think tanks, and other institutions with proponents of their brand of libertarianism. It's easy to explain why some of these corporate interests do it. It serves the self-interest of the environmental polluters, for example, to promote a political philosophy which argues that regulation is bad and the market will correct itself. And every wealthy individual benefits from tax cuts for the rich. What better way to justify that than with a philosophy that says they're rich because they're better -- and that those tax cuts help everybody ?

The rise of the Silicon Valley economy has also contributed to the libertarian resurgence. A lot of Internet billionaires are nerds who suddenly find themselves rich and powerful, and they're emotionally and intellectually inclined toward libertarianism's geeky and unrealistic vision of a free market. In their minds its ideas are "heuristic," "autologous" and "cybernetic" -- all of which has inherent attraction in their culture.

The only problem is: It's only a dream. At no time or place in human history has there been a working libertarian society which provided its people with the kinds of outcomes libertarians claim it will provide. But libertarianism's self-created mythos claims that it's more realistic than other ideologies, which is the opposite of the truth. The slope from that contradiction to the deep well of hypocrisy is slippery, steep -- and easy to identify.

The Libertarian Hypocrisy Test

That's where the Libertarian Hypocrisy Test comes in. Let's say we have a libertarian friend, and we want to know whether or not he's hypocritical about his beliefs. How would we go about conducting such a test? The best way is to use the tenets of his philosophy to draw up a series of questions to explore his belief system.

The Cato Institute's overview of key libertarian concepts mixes universally acceptable bromides like the "rule of law" and "individual rights" with principles that are more characteristically libertarian -- and therefore more fantastical. Since virtually all people support the rule of law and individual rights, it is the other concepts which are uniquely libertarian and form the basis of our first few questions.

The Institute cites "spontaneous order," for example, as "the great insight of libertarian social analysis." Cato defines that principle thusly:

" (O)rder in society arises spontaneously, out of the actions of thousands or millions of individuals who coordinate their actions with those of others in order to achieve their purposes."

To which the discerning reader might be tempted to ask: Like where , exactly? Libertarians define "spontaneous order" in a very narrow way -- one that excludes demonstrations like the Arab Spring, elections which install progressive governments, or union movements, to name three examples. And yet each of these things are undertaken by individuals who "coordinated their actions with those of others" to achieve our purposes.

So our first hypocrisy test question is, Are unions, political parties, elections, and social movements like Occupy examples of "spontaneous order" -- and if not, why not?

Cato also trumpets what it calls "The Virtue of Production" without ever defining what production is. Economics defines the term, but libertarianism is looser with its terminology. That was easier to get away with in the Industrial Age, when "production" meant a car, or a shovel, or a widget.

Today nearly 50 percent of corporate profits come from the financial sector -- that is, from the manipulation of money. It's more difficult to define "production," and even harder to find its "virtue," when the creation of wealth no longer necessarily leads to the creation of jobs, or economic growth, or anything except the enrichment of a few.

Which seems to be the point. Cato says, "Modern libertarians defend the right of productive people to keep what they earn, against a new class of politicians and bureaucrats who would seize their earnings to transfer them to nonproducers."

Which gets us to our next test question: Is a libertarian willing to admit that production is the result of many forces, each of which should be recognized and rewarded?

Retail stores like Walmart and fast-food corporations like McDonalds cannot produce wealth without employees. Don't those employees have the right to "coordinate their actions with those of others in order to achieve their purposes" -- for example, in unions? You would think that free-market philosophers would encourage workers, as part of a free-market economy, to discover the market value for their services through negotiation.

Is our libertarian willing to acknowledge that workers who bargain for their services, individually and collectively, are also employing market forces?

The bankers who collude to deceive their customers, as US bankers did with the MERS mortgage system, were permitted to do so by the unwillingness of government to regulate them. The customers who were the victims of deception were essential to the production of Wall Street wealth. Why don't libertarians recognize their role in the process, and their right to administer their own affairs?

That right includes the right to regulate the bankers who sell them mortgages. Libertarians say that the "free market" will help consumers. "Libertarians believe that people will be both freer and more prosperous if government intervention in people's economic choices is minimized," says Cato.

But victims of illegal foreclosure are neither "freer" nor "more prosperous" after the government deregulation which led to their exploitation. What's more, deregulation has led to a series of documented banker crimes that include stockholder fraud and investor fraud. That leads us to our next test of libertarian hypocrisy: Is our libertarian willing to admit that a "free market" needs regulation?

Digital Libertarians

But few libertarians are as hypocritical as the billionaires who earned their fortunes in the tech world. Government created the Internet. Government financed the basic research that led to computing itself. And yet Internet libertarians are among the most politically extreme of them all.

Perhaps none is more extreme than Peter Thiel, who made his fortune with PayPal. In one infamous rant, Thiel complained about allowing women and people he describes as "welfare beneficiaries" (which might be reasonably interpreted as "minorities") to vote. "Since 1920," Thiel fulminated, "the extension of the franchise to (these two groups) have turned 'capitalist democracy' into an oxymoron."

With this remark, Thiel let something slip that extreme libertarians prefer to keep quiet: A lot of them don't like democracy very much. In their world, democracy is a poor substitute for the iron-fisted rule of wealth, administered by those who hold the most of it. Our next test, therefore, is: Does our libertarian believe in democracy? If yes, explain what's wrong with governments that regulate.

On this score, at least, Thiel is no hypocrite. He's willing to freely say what others only think: Democracy should be replaced by the rule of wealthy people like himself.

But how did Peter Thiel and other Internet billionaires become wealthy? They hired government-educated employees to develop products protected by government copyrights. Those products used government-created computer technology and a government-created communications web to communicate with government-educated customers in order to generate wealth for themselves, which was then stored in government-protected banks -- after which they began using that wealth to argue for the elimination of government.

By that standard, Thiel and his fellow "digital libertarians" are hypocrites of genuinely epic proportion. Which leads us to our next question: Does our libertarian use wealth that wouldn't exist without government in order to preach against the role of government?

Many libertarians will counter by saying that government has only two valid functions: to protect the national security and enforce intellectual property laws. By why only these two? If the mythical free market can solve any problem, including protecting the environment, why can't it also protect us from foreign invaders and defend the copyrights that make these libertarians wealthy?

For that matter, why should these libertarians be allowed to hold patents at all? If the free market can decide how best to use our national resources, why shouldn't it also decide how best to use Peter Thiel's ideas, and whether or not to reward him for them? After all, if Thiel were a true Randian libertarian he'd use his ideas in a more superior fashion than anyone else -- and he would be more ruthless in enforcing his rights to them than anyone else. Does our libertarian reject any and all government protection for his intellectual property?

Size Matters

Our democratic process is highly flawed today, but that's largely the result of corruption from corporate and billionaire money. And yet, libertarians celebrate the corrupting influence of big money. No wonder, since the same money is keeping their movement afloat and paying many of their salaries. But, aside from the naked self-interest, their position makes no sense. Why isn't a democratically elected government the ultimate demonstration of "spontaneous order"? Does our libertarian recognize that democracy is a form of marketplace?

We're told that "big government" is bad for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is too large to be responsive. But if big governments are bad, why are big corporations so acceptable? What's more, these massive institutions have been conducting an assault on the individual and collective freedoms of the American people for decades. Why isn't it important to avoid the creation of monopolies, duopolies and syndicates that interfere with the free market's ability to function?

Libertarians are right about one thing: Unchecked and undemocratic force is totalitarian. A totalitarian corporation, or a totalitarian government acting in concert with corporations, is at least as effective at suppressing the "spontaneous order" as a non-corporate totalitarian government. Does our libertarian recognize that large corporations are a threat to our freedoms?

Extra Credit Questions

Most libertarians prefer not to take their philosophy to its logical conclusions. While that may make them better human beings, it also shadows them with the taint of hypocrisy.

Ayn Rand was an adamant opponent of good works, writing that "The man who attempts to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves." That raises another test for our libertarian: Does he think that Rand was off the mark on this one, or does he agree that historical figures like King and Gandhi were "parasites"?

There's no reason not to form alliances with civil libertarians, or to shun them as human beings. Their erroneous thinking often arises from good impulses. But it is worth asking them one final question for our test.

Libertarianism would have died out as a philosophy if it weren't for the funding that's been lavished on the movement by billionaires like Thiel and the Kochs and corporations like ExxonMobil. So our final question is: If you believe in the free market, why weren't you willing to accept as final the judgment against libertarianism rendered decades ago in the free and unfettered marketplace of ideas?

[Jan 13, 2019] Republican politicians may invoke the rhetoric of free markets to justify cutting taxes for the rich and benefits for the poor, or removing environmental regulations that hurt polluters' profits, but they don't really care about free markets per se. After all, the party had little problem lining up behind Trump's embrace of tariffs

Notable quotes:
"... If anything, Trump and the GOP have finally shown common decent folk what the democratic experiment in America has become: a system that looks alot like feudal systems of the past. Including walls! ..."
"... There is no such thing as a free market. Let me repeat it again for effect: there is NO such thing as a free market. Whether one calls it libertarianism or neoliberalism, the idea is pretty much the same: if we just unleash the power of human greed, the market will equal everything out, and we'll all be freer because of it. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Our government gives huge incentives to large corporations with the idea that wealth will trickle down into middle class jobs and prosperity. But guess what? Those corporations keep most of the incentives and profits for themselves and their shareholders. The comparatively minuscule recent tax cuts for the middle class pale in comparison to the huge corporate cuts that added $2 trillion to our national deficit. The only thing stopping corporate excess and monopolies is government. Many libertarians cry "starve the beast." Well, they shouldn't complain if they get food poisoning because their food wasn't properly inspected by a government they loath. And neither should President Trump complain, if, like most Americans, his next Big Mac doesn't agree with him. ..."
"... Anarchy is oligarchy. The rule of law -- law crafted by dedicated public servants, who are elected by sober and informed citizens -- is the closest we can come to freedom. ..."
"... The libertarian philosophy is this: while you're young and healthy and productive, you can help make money for your boss. However, once you are old and no longer capable of making a contribution to someone else, it is your obligation to simply die. ..."
"... Privatizing Social Security so that investment firms can get a piece of the action, privatizing Medicare so that insurance companies can get a piece of the action, and privatizing the military, so that private paramilitary companies can get more than their fair share of the action. It's theft in plain sight. We can't believe it, because it's so obvious. ..."
"... Paraphrasing Marie Antoinette "Let them eat contaminated cake" ..."
"... Funny how libertarians never argue for privatizing the military, or law enforcement. ..."
"... I cannot enumerate the number of rich Republicans who tried to get the government to support their elderly while the children of those elderly got the money. I could tell you stories, including one about a certain Republican Governor of Pennsylvania who tried to put his adult, but mentally handicapped child on Medicaid. ..."
"... Cutting tax rates on the wealthy are stealing from the rest of us. We make contributions every hour of every day which are hoovered up by the wealthy and the powerful. Meanwhile we cannot afford the cost of living, which has skyrocketed vs wages and benefits. The cost of an apartment is exorbitant. The cost of health care is exorbitant. Meanwhile the commons suffer. Infrastructure suffers. Sidewalks are a menace. There is lead in the water. Rich people who do not pay their fair share of taxes are stealing from the people in so many ways it's impossible to count them. But count them in years lost, in lives cut short, in lives blighted. ..."
"... Republicans aren't against government, it has grown more under every Republican president including Reagan himself. They simply have their preferences as to who benefits from it. ..."
"... As the saying goes, you never miss your water until your well runs dry. ..."
Jan 13, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

That said, the truth is that libertarian ideology isn't a real force within the G.O.P.; it's more of a cover story for the party's actual agenda.

In the case of the party establishment, that agenda is about redistributing income up the scale, and in particular helping important donor interests. Republican politicians may invoke the rhetoric of free markets to justify cutting taxes for the rich and benefits for the poor, or removing environmental regulations that hurt polluters' profits, but they don't really care about free markets per se. After all, the party had little problem lining up behind Trump's embrace of tariffs.

Meanwhile, the philosophy of the party's base is, in essence, big government for me but not for thee. Stick it to the bums on welfare, but don't touch those farm subsidies. Tellingly, the centerpiece of the long G.O.P. jihad against Obamacare was the false claim that it would hurt Medicare.

And as it happens, many of the spending cuts being forced by the shutdown fall heavily and obviously on base voters. Small business owners are much more conservative than the nation as a whole, but they really miss those government loans. Rural voters went Republican during a Democratic midterm blowout, but they want those checks. McConnell may have trash-talked food stamps in the past, but a sudden cutoff would have a catastrophic effect on the most Republican parts of his home state.


C Wolfe Bloomington IN Jan. 10

I had an idiot,er, libertarian friend once who actually believed the market would take care of food safety, because people wouldn't buy food from a source if that source was known to have sold tainted food. "What about the people who die in the meantime?" I asked. "Well, it's up to people to decide what to eat. The government shouldn't tell people what to eat." "But how are you supposed to know? How much tainted food has to be sold and eaten before people even know to avoid it? People get sick or die.

What about people's lives?" "Argh, 'people's lives.'" (Eye roll.) "Liberals are always talking about 'people's lives.'" I swear this is an actual conversation that I repeated so many times I have it memorized.

AndyE Berkley MI Jan. 10

Ironically, the likelihood of chronic dependency on federal dollars is directly proportional to the redness of the state.

DB NC Jan. 11 Times Pick

One of the big obstacles I've observed is that conservatives, in general, have to experience negative consequences directly to understand the link between cause and effect. Liberals, in general, are better at imagining negative consequences and taking preventive action before they directly experience it. It has to do with empathy and solidarity, I think. Liberals see someone suffering, and they think, "We should find out what caused that and fix it so it doesn't happen to the rest of us." Conservatives see someone suffering, and they think, "That guy must be a terrible person. He totally deserves what happened to him. It can never happen to me because I'm a good guy." It is only when the negative thing does directly happen to the conservative that he may reconsider. That's when it is important to find a scapegoat- illegal immigrants, minorities, Jews- to blame in order to obscure the causal link.

Socrates Downtown Verona. NJ Jan. 10

Libertarianism attracts the finest stunted teenaged and hypocritical minds that are either disconnected from reality or that suffer from cognitive dissonance that allows hypocrisy and selfishness to flourish like mutant bacteria. Taxes and good government are the price of any decent civilization...and both of these concepts are completely demonized by Republicans even though Republicans are some of the greatest welfare queens in the nation. Productive, modern, blue Democratic state federal tax dollars have long subsidized rural, religious Republican states that hate the federal government....they curse they horse that feeds them and then they curse even more when the federal teat is turned off. America's 0.1% Robber Barons and crony vulture capitalists curse 'high tax rates' that aren't particularly high compared to the rest of the world while using America's infrastructure, legal system, government-funded research and technology, and corrupted electoral system to make parasitic profits that dwarf those of foreign corporations who pay their fair share of taxes to countries with increasingly better infrastructure and educational systems. The libertarian theology followed to fruition is Somalia-like; an unregulated anarchy of human misery. Decent human beings understand that healthy taxes produce healthy civilization. Today's version of libertarian Republicanism is a demented form of arrested emotional development that's been destroying the USA since 1980. Nice GOPeople.

Larry St. Paul, MN Jan. 11 Times Pick

Those who believe, like Ronald Reagan, that government is the problem, are about to discover that the absence of government is an even worse problem.

Wilbray Thiffault Ottawa. Canada Jan. 10

Senator Mitch McConnel said that the food stamp program is "making it excessively easy to be non productive." Well, Mitch McConnel is not on the food stamp program and he manages to be one of the most "non productive" senator in the history of the US Senate. Congratulation Senator!

Eric Bremen Jan. 11 Times Pick

Almost unfailingly, the stoutest Republican supporters seem to be the biggest beneficiaries of government: the military, farmers, pensioners or small business owners. Growing up in a military family, I remember subsidized gas, medical treatment for free and school trips paid by the DoD. Yet anytime there was a Democratic president, it sounded like there would be a coup when our military parents met at picnicks and had a few beers. If anything, Trump and the GOP have finally shown common decent folk what the democratic experiment in America has become: a system that looks alot like feudal systems of the past. Including walls!

jrinsc South Carolina Jan. 11 Times Pick

There is no such thing as a free market. Let me repeat it again for effect: there is NO such thing as a free market. Whether one calls it libertarianism or neoliberalism, the idea is pretty much the same: if we just unleash the power of human greed, the market will equal everything out, and we'll all be freer because of it. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Our government gives huge incentives to large corporations with the idea that wealth will trickle down into middle class jobs and prosperity. But guess what? Those corporations keep most of the incentives and profits for themselves and their shareholders. The comparatively minuscule recent tax cuts for the middle class pale in comparison to the huge corporate cuts that added $2 trillion to our national deficit. The only thing stopping corporate excess and monopolies is government. Many libertarians cry "starve the beast." Well, they shouldn't complain if they get food poisoning because their food wasn't properly inspected by a government they loath. And neither should President Trump complain, if, like most Americans, his next Big Mac doesn't agree with him.

TM Muskegon, MI Jan. 10

For those who despise government regulations, I offer 3 observations: 1. I lived near Muskegon, MI, prior to the EPA, when 3 foundries were constantly belching smoke and foundry dust into the air. Breathing the air was equivalent to smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day.

2. I lived in Cairo, Egypt for 3 years. I purchased 4 pairs of prescription eyeglasses before finally giving up. None of them were right - and no regulations meant that I had no recourse.

3. I lived in Accra, Ghana for 3 years. No construction codes meant that the brand new luxury apartment building I moved into suffered numerous problems with plumbing, resulting in mold, flooded floors and sudden loss of water pressure.

In Cairo and in Accra, there was no social safety net. Beggars were a constant. Often they would be horribly disfigured and with no family what were they to do? I am happily retired now, back in Western Michigan, thoroughly enjoying the clean air, safe food, and clean parks. Obama said it best - it's not the size of government, it's the effectiveness of it. And if it's not working, that's on us - we're the ones who put those people in office. 2020 can't arrive soon enough.

Lex DC Jan. 10

The Trump voter in my family was a libertarian before switching to the Party of Trump and still believes that government is an interference. One conversation we had was about electricians needing to be licensed. He said electricians did not need to be licensed because if their work led to customers being injured or killed due to a fire, that information would circulate and those electricians would be forced out of the market. I asked him if he cared about the people injured or killed, he shrugged his shoulders and said that's just the way things are. I then asked him what if he was one the customers injured or killed. He looked rather shocked at that question and immediately dropped the subject. That is all that I ever needed to know about libertarianism.

Michael W. Espy Flint, MI Jan. 11 Times Pick

I like to pay taxes, I get civilization in return.

Pat Somewhere Jan. 10

"Libertarianism" according to the GOP means that YOU need the discipline of the "free market," but I deserve all the protections and support of the nanny state (financed with your tax dollars, thank you very much.)

Goodglud Flagstaff, AZ Jan. 10

As George Lakoff reminded us, what the anti-government folks call "regulations" are, for the most part, "protections." We shouldn't let the Kochs, Trumps, McConnells, and Ryans frame the discussion. "The term "regulation" is framed from the viewpoint of corporations and other businesses. From their viewpoint, "regulations" are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms. But from the public's viewpoint, a regulation is a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public." https://georgelakoff.com/2017/01/28/the-publics-viewpoint-regulations-are-protections

Michael McLemore Athens, Georgia Jan. 11 Times Pick

At some point the American people need to realize that conservative/libertarian pundits are just on-air hucksters selling a product. Instead of selling Vegematics, Ginsu knives or non-stick cookware, they are peddling right-wing bile for a profit. And the profits derived from their corporate advertisers are huge. Forget truth or journalism, Rush Linbaugh openly proclaims himself to be an "entertainer" and not a "journalist" (mainly to make it more difficult to sue him for falsehood). Ann Coulter similarly declares herself a "polemicist". Forget for a moment the subversive influence of Russian money and hacking on American politics. Our own homegrown corporate advertisers are eagerly subverting America by underwriting glib purveyors of corrosive right-wing propaganda, who will slyly proclaim the gospel of unbridled greed and not of social responsibility. Of course drug companies don't want the FDA. Why would they want oversight to keep the public safe, when safety costs them money? Why would banks want regulation to safeguard the financial system and consumers, when regulation interferes with short-term profits? The Koch brothers don't want pesky interference from the EPA in regulating their mega-refinery in Minnesota. Their family homes are in Aspen, Palm Beach and Manhattan, so why should it concern them if effluent rolls through St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans? Don't dare call this something so plain as "greed". Wrap it in a bow and call it "libertarianism".

FunkyIrishman member of the resistance Jan. 11 Times Pick

Republican mantra (even Libertarian) is to be left alone, so long as THEIR way of life is left alone, and they are subsidized by you for living that way. That may mean a MASSIVE military to be a deterrent, or to go invade some other country to keep the oil flowing. That may mean subsidizing all sorts of industries, businesses and the like, because they cannot compete at all on a truly free open market. That might mean support for all sorts of social programs, health programs, education programs and the like as well, because bootstraps only take you so far. I would use the word hypocrisy, but that would entail that many know what they speak of when describing what Libertarian, or Socialist. or another ''ist'' form of government actually means. We are all in this together or we are not. There is no in between, but many would have you believe it is possible. It is not.

earlyman Portland Jan. 10

@Bill Once you our you loved one eats salmonella contaminated lettuce and nearly dies, good luck going after, or even finding, the agra-business across the country who caused it.

Linda Sausalito, CA Jan. 10

European food is heavily regulated, uh, by governments. Much tastier and doesn't contain known carcinogens. Watching the train wreck of the United States.

Will Schmidt perlboy on a ranch 6 miles from Ola, AR Jan. 10

@C Wolfe This rings so true for me too. I majored in economics at UICC in the early seventies. My favorite prof was a PhD candidate at U of Chicago, and one of his advisors was Milton Friedman. Being at UICC, I did not study under the great man, but I did under one of his acolytes, who was close to tenure (ABD, if I remember correctly), and I thought, a very intelligent one. One of his two areas of doctoral specialty (you had to have two; his other was labor) was macro, and I took him for among other things, money & banking. In fact, I took M&B twice, because the first time (I got an A) was from a Keynesian, and I wanted to get it from a Quantity Theory guy; another A.) Because my prof was a diciple of M.F., I got to attend several special lectures at UC, and partake of the kool-aid. Well, I heard directly from the horse's mouth how consumers would boycotte inferior suppliers and only the best would survive. The free market would favor the best and punish the worst. Of course, this required perfect information. Unfortunately, no good case was made how a perfect information economy could be achieved nor how consumers could afford to acquire perfect information. The price of discovering bad suppliers of tainted food would surely include the deaths of some number of consumers before that information became generally available. We debated perfect markets and perfect information but never did get a convincing case for abandoning government inspection of food products.

Michael Kelly Bellevue, Nebraska Jan. 10

The famous Republican philosopher Grover Norquist once said that he's want to have government so small that one could drown it in the bathtub. Right now, nearly one million government workers are facing the prospect of drowning in debt. Trump suggests that they could make do like he always used to, namely declare bankruptcy or go to daddy for a loan. All this while court jester Pence 'handles' the negotiations. His idea is to make more requests while staying firm on a wall.

LT Chicago Jan. 10

Perhaps the GOP base will finally learn just how dependent they really are on the government they profess to hate. Trump loving farmers and small town business owners are in for a particularly nasty surprise. It's not just farm subsidies. As described by Michael Lewis in "The Fifth Risk": "As the U.S.D.A.'s loans were usually made through local banks, the people on the receiving end of them were often unaware of where the money was coming from. There were many stories very like the one Tom Vilsack told, about a loan they had made, in Minnesota, to a government-shade-throwing, Fox News-watching, small-town businessman. The bank held a ceremony and the guy wound up being interviewed by the local paper. "He's telling the reporter how proud he is to have done it on his own," said Vilsack. "The U.S.D.A. person goes to introduce herself, and he says, 'So who are you?' She says, 'I'm the U.S.D.A. person.' He asks, 'What are you doing here?' She says, 'Well, sir, we supplied the money you are announcing.' He was white as a sheet." There are rural counties in this country that are only viable with government money. Trump counties. It's going to be an expensive and painful education. Trump University lives.

Norm Weaver Buffalo NY Jan. 10

If ever there was a group that lives in a fantasy world, it's the libertarians. In another article in another newspaper that dealt with "intrusive" government, I submitted a comment saying that I wouldn't be surprised if Libertarians would be opposed to STOP signs and traffic lights because these would constitute an unnecessary infringement on their freedom. Wouldn't you know that a person of that persuasion actually replied to my comment and confirmed my suspicion. Working in an IT position for three decades I dealt with this type daily. Many were 30-something white males, often both cognitively and physically well above average, who had learned to program computers. They were blessed with being raised in two-parent families. I acknowledge the hard work they did to learn to wrestle with computers, but they lacked the perspective to realize that they had not hit a home run but rather had been born on second or third base due to the intellectual and physical gifts they possess that many others don't.They could not understand why others in society could not emulate their success. In one conversation about affirmative action, one such person asked "Why do we need that anymore? There are laws against discrimination.". Many of this type get bit in the behind when some government regulation is repealed then it turns out that THEY are the ones adversely affected by the repeal. But don't waste your breath trying to pierce the fantasy balloon. They hold tight to those fantasies.

George Chicago Jan. 10

I'm waiting for Grover Norquist and the other small government proponents to relocate to Somalia, home of no real government. Why it's not thriving without the yoke of onerous regulations is surprising.

Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, Boston Jan. 10

"...making it excessively easy to be non-productive." -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The irony is too rich here. While he and his president and the "non-productive" Republican Senators draw a paycheck for soaking up the public dime, kids will go hungry; start-up hopefuls will lose loans; farmers will feel the bite; food will become contaminated and people will fill hospital ER's and strain their health insurance. For openers. The Right is getting its own back on FDR's New Deal. All because "government is the problem." Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Dominic Holland San Diego Jan. 10

A relatively minor point: "Maybe you believe that private companies could take over the F.D.A.'s role in keeping food safe, but such companies don't exist now and can't be conjured up in a matter of weeks." Such inspection companies could only exist if they were funded by the food companies they were inspecting. Competition among inspection companies would then obviously lead to grade inflation: hire some other company that is more likely to give you a passing grade, who in turn will be happy to lower standards to attract more customers. This is not an avenue for effective replacement of the FDA. Libertarianism is for chumps and fanatics, no one else.

Paul K Michigan USA Jan. 11 Times Pick

We lived in a small West African nation for 25 years. There were no collectable taxes because the tax collectors kept what they could extort from poor people, no safety nets such as social security or medicaid/medicare, no fire fighters, no functional road departments, no regulation of pharmaceuticals, an unprepared and unarmed military, no paid federal, regional of local police forces, no judges who were not bought by the highest bidder, no standards for the public hospitals, no communication systems, no running water in major cities, no electric power that functioned more than 4-6 hours a day, and not a single government official who was not on the take.

What we did have were cholera epidemics that killed 5000 people, annual measle epidemics that killed children under 5 years old , villages burned to the ground by wildfire, a school system which did not pay its teachers and finally a 12 year civil war which killed over 200,000 people and a [post war ebola epidemic which killed 12,000 more.

The proper use of taxes was not even a dream. Now in the USA, the "leadership" under its current president and his sycophants are playing personal and infantile grade school games with your and my tax dollars and the congress is helping them do it. Amazing! I feel like I am back home in my 3rd world village .

Tom B New York Jan. 11 Times Pick

Anarchy is oligarchy. The rule of law -- law crafted by dedicated public servants, who are elected by sober and informed citizens -- is the closest we can come to freedom. Governance that provides basic order and rules and a safety net for when people fail (either from behavior that is unwise or from ill fortune) is part of the rule of law. There are also necessary things that the government can provide (without a profit motive) better than either charity of for profit organizations. Roads and basic science are good examples. Other things are best left alone by government -- things like sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll. These should be principles that we all can live by, but it seems like the so-called conservatives believe quite the opposite. They believe in unregulated guns, flows of money to unregulated trusts, defunded public goods, and violent repression of sex, drugs, and free expression.

Kinsale Charlottesville, VA Jan. 10

@earlyman correct. The first thing those large corporations responsible will do is use their lobbying power to legislate liability caps on what they have to pay in settlement costs. That's the way the real world works. We're not living in some libertarian utopia.

James Wallis Martin Christchurch, New Zealand Jan. 10

Problems with the food industry in the US isn't just a new issue since the Trump administration, it has been an issue for decades. The problems of Big Ag and Food Manufacturers lobbying has been so bad, that whenever I see doctors in Germany and New Zealand, the first question they ask is have I been and eaten food in the US in the last six months, when they are trying to ascertain health issues". When the medical community around the world asks about US food intake, you know corporate libertarianism has run afoul and at the cost of the health of America. The fact that foods that can't be sold in Europe for health reasons are dumped in the US just highlights how it is no longer the United States of America, but rather the Corporate States of America. When will the people demand for Separation of Corporation and State?

John Moran Tennessee Jan. 11

I had serious Libertarian leanings up until a few years ago when my family and I moved to Bangalore, India to work for three years. It was an eye opening experience to see what actually happens when you don't have a strong central government regulating things like the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat.

Bangalore was once known as the Garden City and is considered the Silicon Valley of India, but corporate greed, unchecked expansion, and government corruption, along with no meaningful environmental laws that are actually enforced, has turned it into a nightmare-- or maybe into what Libertarianism looks like in the real world, outside of Ayn Rand novels.

The river beside our street was so polluted it had layers of chemical foam that would reach ten feet in height and blow across the road, stopping traffic.

The nearby lake would literally catch on fire, burning for days. Open sewers ran into nearby water sources. Forget tap water, it would make Flint, Michigan's water crisis seem desirable by comparison. Food safety? Roll the dice and take your chances.

Within a year any trace of Libertarian beliefs were wiped clean from my mind and I longed for strong government regulations to protect me and my family. This U.S. shutdown isn't even a minor taste of what it truly means to live without powerful and enforceable government regulations and protections.

Pete Victoria, BC Jan. 10

@Bill it is important to keep in mind that contaminated food can kill you before you even have a chance to pursue remedies. The critical elements for us now leaving much longer than our ancestors involve personal and public hygiene (e.g. safe food, sewer systems), medicine and healthy environments (e.g. pollution controls). I recommend watching the Trashopolis series, its quite informative.

Thomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 10

@C Wolfe Decades ago I had a very similar conversation with a doctrinaire libertarian, though it was about a less essential question. I also repeated it many times. The incredulity factor is large. I mean, I couldn't believe the degree to which rationality disappeared.

Karen Garcia New York Jan. 10

On the bright side, a federal judge just ruled Iowa's so-called Ag-Gag law to be unconstitutional, making it easier to expose the filthy and inhumane conditions on factory farms. So agribusiness will be smacked with the double whammy of losing their corporate welfare checks and bribery payments, and having their own cruelty exposed at the same time.

It's obvious that Trump's tantrum of a shutdown is the latest episode of disaster capitalism, or what Naomi Klein has dubbed the Shock Doctrine. Create a crisis, like neglecting New Orleans levees, or most recently, the criminally negligent homicides of Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico, and you allow the vulture capitalists to swoop in and cash in. The entire school system of N.O. is now privatized, and libertarian billionaires are buying up huge chunks of Puerto Rico at bargain basement prices to create palaces. With walls, of course. The trash and overflowing toilets at our national parks are just the ticket for corporations to take them over and charge exorbitant admissions... before selling out to ranchers and drillers to further speed up the Anthropocene. The other semi-bright upshot of this disaster capitalism is that rich conservatives will get just as sick from eating tainted food as the poor. Trump probably figures he is immune, because he likes the polluting cow flesh he consumes to be well-done to burnt. But without getting paid, how long will the White House chefs continue to serve him? : -)

Chris Hunter WA State Jan. 10

Exactly so. It has been my experience that my libertarian friends are only able to be libertarian because they have been protected all their lives (at great expense, they would argue) by the very government they deride.

hen3ry Westchester, NY Jan. 10

What's fascinating about all of this is how the Gutless Obnoxious Popinjays refuse to take any responsibility at all for the problems. It's always the Democrats fault. I'm surprised that none of them have pointed a finger at Obama. After all, he didn't try to build a wall so it must be his fault that Trump is demanding money for a beautiful wall that will protect all Americans from the outside world. It's fascinating to realize that McConnell, Pence, Trump, and the rest of the obnoxious crowd are getting paid by the government they want to drown. They are contributing to the very cycles of misfortune that they blame people for. Are they going to write letters for every federal employee who loses a home, falls farther behind on loan payments than they should, who can't afford to pay for medical care or the premium? No. The GOP has no plans to share the misery it's causing. Trump doesn't understand or care. This is what happens when a complete incompetent is elected to run a country: chaos, uncertainty, and worse. The party that abhorred communism and the Russians now has a president who may be owned by the Russians. Even if he's not, the entire debacle that is Trump's presidency must warming the hearts of Putin and his "friends" each day it continues. As Obama said, elections have consequences. This is one of them. I don't know about the GOP and the libertarians but I prefer to eat, drink, and breathe safely. It's why I like a functioning government.

Mark McHenry Jan. 10

The libertarian philosophy is this: while you're young and healthy and productive, you can help make money for your boss. However, once you are old and no longer capable of making a contribution to someone else, it is your obligation to simply die.

If you look at all the proposals of the Republicans, this seems to be the guiding force. Privatizing Social Security so that investment firms can get a piece of the action, privatizing Medicare so that insurance companies can get a piece of the action, and privatizing the military, so that private paramilitary companies can get more than their fair share of the action. It's theft in plain sight. We can't believe it, because it's so obvious.

Lake trash Lake ozarks Jan. 10

It's the chaos this president keeps thrusting on all of us. We can't keep up day to day of his lack of self control, his lack of understanding how government works, the principles of the constitution, the rule of law that has sustained us through the years. He seems to believe that he has the support to destroy everything that keeps us safe. The foundation that made this a great country is at risk. I'm old now and can not believe what I see every day from this American President.

Cowsrule SF CA Jan. 11

@Zhou "I'll sue the company producing it". How will you do that in the absence of any governmental mechanism to enforce compliance with a law suit? And how will you prove contamination in the absence of any recognized standard to show it is present?

Aram Hollman Arlington, MA Jan. 10

@Bill So, you prefer the pound of cure known as a lawsuit to a regulatory ounce of prevention. Personally, I'd prefer to avoid both the discomfort of food poisoning and the expense of a lawsuit. Besides, do you really think you'd win? None of the many people poisoned by contaminated vegetables at Taco Bell stores a few years ago had any chance of even bringing a lawsuit, much less winning one and gettting compensation. It took regulatory agencies, public health departments, and the national Center for Disease Control simply to track down the offending vegetables and force Taco Belll to clean up its act. As for your checks and balances, most of the checks go from lobbyists to congressmen, and that throws any balances way out of whack. Your annual deficit figure of $1 trillion is out of date. The latest Trump tax cuts raised it to $1.5 trillion. So, start worrying real fast. But, I'd start worrying more not merely about the deficit, but about how money is being spent. You seem to worry more about the comparative peanuts spent on the FDA (which, by the way, also regulates drugs and medical devices) or the USDA (which also helps regulate food safety). than on the far larger amounts spent on the military (e.g. latest technology F-35 jets that can't fly in the rain), US taxpayer funding of arms sales to foreign countries that neither share our values nor help keep us safe (e.g. Saudi Arabia).

Otis-T Los Osos, CA Jan. 10

I work with alot of big Ag companies -- they're constantly raging about government regs and the red tape, etc, etc., but they have HUGE lobby and political power. On an average year, they get an amazing amount of subsidies coming in all kinds of forms, from direct compensation packages to float an industry a la corn, or from electric rates that are lower for them at the expense of the other rate classes. And when any hint of hardship comes, nevermind true hardship, they're front and center for the hand-outs. And they get plenty. All this before we even address immigrant labor! Ha! Libertarian Ag would look WAY different out in the fields. And one thing that would surely be needed: Cheap immigrant (sometimes illigal) labor. You get what you vote for.

JaneF Denver Jan. 10

@michjas Except the Republicans could reopen the government if they chose to. They could pass the same bill they passed in December, and then override the President's veto. Their conspiracy is that they won't do that.

John Quixote NY Jan. 10

So the party of fiscal responsibility which is already running up the deficit insists on building a wall over 2000 miles of border, seizing private property along the way . When we stopped teaching Geography and Citizenship and dismissed literature as irrelevant to getting a good job, we created an electorate that could be gulled by such propaganda and conned into thinking that fear is our avatar: fear of otherness, fear of government, fear of taxes, fear of liberals, fear of fear itself.

Cathy NJ Jan. 10

@Aoy when food is contaminated, the FDA is able to locate "ground zero" with utmost efficiency--Food Science 101. Without the FDA--which was established under T. Roosevelt's administration--there is no coordination between the food chain and the population. You can wash your lettuce to your heart's content, but if it was grown in contaminated soil, the cells within are contaminated. So, yes, the FDA is extremely necessary.

Jake Reeves Atlanta Jan. 10

"Government," declared Ronald Reagan in his first Inaugural Address, "is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." Yup, Republicans say government is the problem and then they get in power and prove it. The Party of Problem Government.

keith San Miguel de Allende Jan. 11 Times Pick

Anyone who thinks enforced food safety is unnecessary should go to India and eat in a restaurant anywhere but a first-tier hotel for foreigners. Your odds of getting sick are very high. Ditto in Alexandria, Egypt, and other places I've experienced where profit is important and product is, well, less so. Remedies? Seriously? How will you prove anything? Especially when all the restaurants have the same cavalier attitude toward washing food and hands. You ate the salad? More fool you.

Castor Troy D.C. Jan. 10

I wish that shutdowns were actually that-- shut things down. That means no air traffic controllers, no TSA, no border agents. Wonder how quickly the politicians would solve their differences if they couldn't rely on slave labor from unpaid federal employees forced to work?

alank Wescosville, PA Jan. 11 Times Pick

Paraphrasing Marie Antoinette "Let them eat contaminated cake"

Ecce Homo Jackson Heights Jan. 10

Funny how libertarians never argue for privatizing the military, or law enforcement. When they think it's really important, even libertarians come running back to government. The facts are that markets are only free if they are transparent, and in all of history nobody has come up with a better way than government regulation to make markets transparent. We tried unregulated markets in food production, and it was a disaster - which is why we have federal regulation of food production today. We tried unregulated labor markets and it was also a disaster - which is why we have child labor laws, minimum wage laws, and the full range of other labor regulations we have today. politicsbyeccehomo.wordpress.com

Ben Chicago Jan. 10

People forget that government workers are themselves participants in the economy. They buy cars and houses. They go to the grocery and the hardware store. When they don't get paid, the businesses they patronize -- private businesses -- also go without. Yesterday, I had lunch at a famous old restaurant right near the federal plaza in Chicago's Loop. One of the workers there told me that because of the shutdown the place's business had fallen way off. (And that's with the federal courthouse still open. Just wait until the courts shut, too.) It's a closed system, folks.

Cal Prof Berkeley, USA Jan. 10

Spot on. Naïveté about libertarianism runs deep. It was brought home to me when I worked with programmers in Silicon Valley in the 1980s. A fair number espoused libertarian ideas. Yet they had all had their computer science degrees paid for by the Defense Department, many at state universities. I was not too sophisticated myself but even I could see the disconnect between the ideas they were pushing and the real world implications.

Tom B New York Jan. 10

Have you ever actually tried a personal injury case? For a food borne illness? I ask those questions rhetorically because I can tell from your comment that you haven't. As a lawyer, who doesn't often get involved in personal injury cases, I can tell you that people often think they aren't hurting anyone by cutting corners, and are only restrained from doing things like serving contaminated food or doing illegal gas line plumbing by the threat of fines if caught cutting those corners. It's not the lawsuit that makes them take care.

Rich Davidson Lake Forest, IL Jan. 10

The gilded age of the 1890's seem like a wonderful time for libertarians. The productivity of the nation was high and gaining. But, it came with dirty air and water, bad food and medicine, quackery and robber barons. It was followed by the Roaring 20's where stocks grew without limits and borrowed money paid for it. That did not end well, either. Finally, in FDR's first 100 days, government stepped in and wrote the rules that made life good for most of us. The GOP does not know history and forgot what happened when there was a libertarian society. They are getting an education, finally.

Linda Oklahoma Jan. 10

One of the things that might end is the Indian Health Services. The government made contracts with tribes that in exchange for their land, the federal government would provide education and healthcare. It's not a welfare program. It is payment for millions of acres of land. If Indian Health Services ends, that's the same as reneging on a contract. Trump may see tribes going to court to get what was promised to them in exchange for land and lifestyle. If the shutdown continues, lots of people may be taking Trump to court.

Yuri Asian Bay Area Jan. 10

Do you believe in magic? Religious extremists do. So do Libertarians. And so do Republicans though what they believe is a variant of magic that might be called delusion or magic mixed with whisky and soda, which we call cynicism. What they all have in common is a collective inability to see the forest from the trees: central to their emptiness is the absence of humanity and all the messy ambiguity that entails, instead substituting a bogus certainty that's nothing more than a palliative for existential panic at the absence of self identity grounded in community. Bertrand Russell called it cosmic anxiety. It drives the compulsion for religion, ideology, in fact all systems of coping that avoid the crushing weight of freedom that comes without compass or owner's manual. Whether the god of the invisible hand that directs the market, or the god of clubs with exclusive membership and status, or the god of ancient fables told and retold for a millennium of successive generations, all are rationales for the irrational aversion of responsibility to do the work necessary to make freedom meaningful without making it meaningless for others. The two bargain bins in the basement of modern life are religion and ideology. Libertarianism can be found on the clearance rack for one size fits all.

OUTsider deep south Jan. 10

Paul, you included this quote from Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader... When talking about Food Stamps he has denounced the program for "making it excessively easy to be nonproductive." He has no business being so judgmental. Being productive implies a positive result for society. When it comes to being productive, his entire career is in question.

Elizabeth Moore Pennsylvania Jan. 11

@ebmem You don't know anything. For one thing, you are DEAD WRONG. Medicare DOES NOT PAY FOR NURSING HOME CARE AT ALL! MEDICAID DOES, but only for the poor. It is WEALTHY REPUBLICANS who "Medicaid Plan" their assets so the government will cover their living expenses so they can preserve wealth for their heirs. How do I know this to be the truth? I spend 23 years as a government regulator for Medicaid (Medical Assistance) in the state of Pennsylvania.

I cannot enumerate the number of rich Republicans who tried to get the government to support their elderly while the children of those elderly got the money. I could tell you stories, including one about a certain Republican Governor of Pennsylvania who tried to put his adult, but mentally handicapped child on Medicaid.

Sherry Washington Jan. 10

It is remarkable how farmers, who are particularly reliant on federal government programs to buy seed, equipment, get loans, get crop subsidies, and market their food, still support Trump, even though these programs are shut down and he's started a trade war. One farmer in today's issue supports Trump, saying "we need some border security", even though it means he might lose his farm. What kind of politics is this where people support a President who intentionally ruins their prospects and their way of life? It reminds me how dictators keep power through propaganda, rewriting history and painting its leadership as heroic. Fox News is like North Korean TV rewiring Republican brains to believe that Republicans, no matter how bone-headed, are always good, and Democrats are always bad, so much so they are willing to lose the farm, like North Koreans are willing to starve.

Will Hogan USA Jan. 11

@Mark Nuckols all the government programs that help business mean that the wealthy owe some money back. when 5000 workers of a large corporation all drive the company trucks on free public roads built with tax dollars, when those roads need repair, it sure should be taxes on the company that helps pay, along with the gas tax we all pay. Your mistake is in thinking that the income of the company owner was earned by him and him alone, but in reality, the taxpayers helped him plenty every step of the way. You just did not see it all.

ridgeguy No. CA Jan. 10

The article focuses on food inspections, but what about drug inspections? Is the FDA inspecting pharma manufacturing houses? Are they inspecting precursor chemicals commonly imported from, say, China? Libertarians (along with the rest of us) may be in for much more consequential disappointments than bad lettuce.

Chris DC Jan. 10

Well, at this point it certainly comes as no surprise that the narrowly tailored ideological conceit republicans like to think of as - laughably - 'Libertarianism' was little more than an economic grubsteak to the plutocratic interests. Indeed, it makes my head spin to think how quickly the so-called libertarians of the republican party would support rollbacks on women's reproductive liberties, not to mention the liberties of minorities and the LGBTQ community, not to mention how they would import the Christian Right's version of theology into the public domain. (Ah yes, get government off our backs, but shove God into every home.) The issue that looms broadly over all this, however, is the republican's intent to liquidate this nation's status as technologically advanced, industrialized liberal democracy. Apparently the maintenance/perpetuation of modernity is not compatible with right wing notions of 'liberty,' let alone libertarianism.

Areader Huntsville Jan. 10

The first libertarian I knew was a slum landlord who did not want the Government regulations concerning maintenance of apartments and the like. This seems like a common trait among the political group as I think libertarians are more interested in profit.

Peter CT Jan. 10

No one complains more loudly and more often about attempts to curtail his first amendment rights "guaranteed by the constitution," than my libertarian friend, who refuses to pay taxes, then expects the government he won't support to protect his freedoms. If you really miss those debate club arguments from jr. high school, go try to talk sense to some libertarians. For the rest of us, plain old Republicans are a perfectly adequate source of flawed reasoning.

Sophia chicago Jan. 11

@Mark Nuckols Wrong! Cutting tax rates on the wealthy are stealing from the rest of us. We make contributions every hour of every day which are hoovered up by the wealthy and the powerful. Meanwhile we cannot afford the cost of living, which has skyrocketed vs wages and benefits. The cost of an apartment is exorbitant. The cost of health care is exorbitant. Meanwhile the commons suffer. Infrastructure suffers. Sidewalks are a menace. There is lead in the water. Rich people who do not pay their fair share of taxes are stealing from the people in so many ways it's impossible to count them. But count them in years lost, in lives cut short, in lives blighted.

sapere aude Maryland Jan. 10

Republicans aren't against government, it has grown more under every Republican president including Reagan himself. They simply have their preferences as to who benefits from it.

Helena Princeton New Jersey Jan. 10

I'm surprised that the air traffic controllers haven't all called in sick. They have the collective power to bring air travel to a standstill. I've long felt that a general nationwide strike would finally get the attention of our corporate overlords. After all, all they care about is money--just like Trump and the GOP.

YoursTruly Pakistan Jan. 11 Times Pick

When two elephants fight, its the grass that gets uprooted. In this show of arrogance and egos its the lives of many ordinary Americans that is adversely affected. I only wish that this crisis comes to an end soon to the relief of many.

dpaqcluck Cerritos, CA Jan. 10

@jrinsc, exactly right with an academic exception. Adam Smith and his ideas of free market competition assumed that there would be large number of companies competing with each other with their sole means of competition being consumer satisfaction, price and employee efficiency. Anyone who couldn't compete went out of business, hence "free market". The government's only role is to enforce anti-trust laws to keep businesses small and competitive, and assure that the competitive triangle of business, labor, and consumer are kept in balance. Fundamentally big business is bad, always! What real "free markets" DO NOT include is the idea that a small number of huge companies pay the government to create a competition free environment. The term "free market" has been stolen to mean that companies can do anything they want to succeed, including creating laws with profitable loopholes, laws to inhibit labor participation in the competition, and laws that inhibit consumers from using fraud laws to suppress shoddy products. In reality there is no "free market", as @jrinsc said, except to mean that big companies are free to do whatever they want to be profitable.

PB USA Jan. 10

My first lecture in economics dealt with free. The professor, then the Chief Economist at the Cleveland Fed, made the point that nothing was free: no free lunch; no free air; no free love. The point that he made was that somebody always pays. For everything; maybe not you, not now; but somebody does. So every time that I hear this Republican rant about free markets, I begin to laugh.

White Buffalo SE PA Jan. 11

@dpaqcluck Adam Smith believed corporate entities needed to be regulated. something always left out.

J. Benedict Bridgeport, Ct Jan. 10

I am wondering if Mitch McConnell and his close Republican allies have been living off food stamps because it seems to me they all have been incredibly unproductive for years which he sights as a consequence of anyone using food stamps.

John California California Jan. 11

@Joel Sanders This is completely specious reasoning. There are any number of non-state food groups that compete to set, e.g., organic, standards for food... for their participants. And they can restrict anyone from using their seal of approval without meeting their requirements. What they can't do, and the State can, is to require tainted products to be removed from distribution. Having the power of the State depends on law that transcends private agreement. And in the case of food, drugs, highways, airlines, and a number of other avenues of social life, that strikes me as a valuable thing. Why is this SO difficult for you, Mr. Sanders?

James Lee Arlington, Texas Jan. 11

I once heard a conservative economist give a speech in which he denounced the FDA for its suppression of competition in the pharmaceutical industry. I asked him what would protect the consumer if the market replaced the Feds as regulator of new drugs. He responded that, if my wife died from the effects of a toxic drug, I could always sue the firm that produced it. I found this notion deeply comforting. I might lose my wife, but the drug company would have to compensate me with a pile of dollars, assuming I could prove its negligence. For this libertarian, a life and money weighed equally in the scales of justice.

Aubrey Alabama Jan. 10

The people who support libertarianism are like those who support biblical literalism (fundamentalism). The libertarians want to get rid of some laws and regulations but not all of them. Just the ones they don't like. Usually these are laws which make corporations and businesses sell clean and safe food, treat employees fairly, pay taxes, etc. The libertarians don't want to get rid of laws which help business, corporations, and the well-to-do. They want to be sure that Boeing, Lockheed, and others get cushy defense contracts, the petroleum companies get subsidies, Big Pharma gets to charge a lot for drugs, etc. It is just a new name for the same old playbook -- make things tough on the weak and poor -- those with dark skins, immigrants, etc. All the while being solicitous for the well-off and powerful. Religious literalist do the same -- pick out the Bible verses which support the desired message. Ignore those which don't. So many things don't change. We get give them a new name.

Stan Sutton Westchester County, NY Jan. 10

Actually, Krugman didn't confuse Libertarians and Republicans. He said that Republicans used Libertarian rhetoric but weren't true Libertarians, and he didn't accuse Libertarians of favoring Republican policies across the board.

RLiss Fleming Island, Florida Jan. 11

@Bill: See Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9, which covers the Flint water crisis in depth. These people didn't even know they were drinking contaminated water until a health worker broke ranks and made it public. THEN nothing was done.....(Oh, the state provided bottled water for a while, to drink).... The children of Flint were suffering IRREVERSIBLE brain damage due to lead in the water.....would suing 20 years later fix that? AND why did this happen at all? The Republican governor of the state wanted to help his buddies make a lot of money....

DB NC Jan. 10

@Goodglud Excellent link! We need to call it what it is. No more reduce "regulations" which people hear as reducing red tape. Make them advocate to "reduce protections."

Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, Boston Jan. 10

@AndyE, Berkley, MI: Nice turn on Jennings' corollary to Murphy's Law (the chances of the toast falling buttered side down on the carpet is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet).

Buck Santa Fe, NM Jan. 10

@Mamawalrus72 We are living Government by the Kochs now. We have been living Government by corporations for some time.

NM NY Jan. 10

Money talks louder than reason. So long as moneyed libertarians like the Koch Brothers buy political influence, they will purchase an agenda to benefit themselves at our expense.

Chris Toronto Jan. 10

"In the case of the party establishment, that agenda is about redistributing income up the scale, and in particular helping important donor interests. Republican politicians may invoke the rhetoric of free markets to justify cutting taxes for the rich and benefits for the poor, or removing environmental regulations that hurt polluters' profits, but they don't really care about free markets per se." Head of nail, meet hammer. The US used to be the world's beacon of democratic values. No longer. The political system has been severely corrupted by PACs, Super PACs, self-funding billionaire politicians, skewed campaign funding rules, cynical electoral manipulation, self-interest and a lack of statesmanship amongst the political classes. You'd think a credible third political party would be able to drive a bus straight through the middle of this division. Two choices, left or right, just can't be enough to sustain a democracy.

Richard NM Jan. 10

@Will Schmidt perlboy "We debated perfect markets ..." Like in engineering somebody would design a car without engine because there is no friction and you just have to give it a push to get around. I am so happy I am an engineer, forces me into reality.

Audrey Germany Jan. 11

"Knowing that the food you're eating is now more likely than before to be contaminated, does that potential contamination smell to you like freedom?" Exactly. One of the most thing I appreciated of being in the EU is a strong consumer protection and safety regulations. But I guess, it's to "socialist" for some. Let's wait and see how the UK consumers will enjoy post-Brexit "freedom".

Mike Albany, New York Jan. 10

In answer to to Bill from Michigan, the problem with food and water contamination is that it may take years to find out that the food or water is actually contaminated, and then additional time for the public to be informed. After all this time passes, the damage is already done and lives are irreversibly damaged. As an example, the FDA has very strict limits on the amount of mycotoxin and bacterial contamination in our food supply. While E. coli contamination may be detected due to severe acute health effects, the carcinogenic effects of mycotoxin contamination may not be detected in years. The Flint Michigan lead contamination occurred in 2014 and wasn't declared an emergency until two years later, when public health officials alerted the public in 2016. Although this was largely a local issue, the H.R. 4470, the Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act, mandates that consumers be informed. So, personally I'd rather have the Federal Government be on the side of the public and not rely on greedy lawyers.

JRM Melbourne Jan. 11

@ebmem Republicans get in office and go to work to prove that Government doesn't work and is the problem. Government works fine as long as Republicans are not in charge. The sabotage any effort to resolve or solve a problem. They complain about the debt and deficit until they are in office and then they blow the budget to smithereens with invented reasons for war so they can enrich themselves. They are the problem, not Government.

SandraH. California Jan. 11

@Bill, good luck with that. If you survive long enough to sue--and if you can prove the source of your cancer or other illness--you'll find that personal injury lawsuits get you nowhere. The big boys always win. Your best remedy is prevention. Don't let yourself or your loved ones ingest or breathe toxins. Don't let toxins into your groundwater or soil. How do you do that without government regulation?

ben220 brooklyn Jan. 10

Today, medical expenses are stratospheric. Meanwhile, the conservative movement strangles the welfare state so that nearly everyone in the middle class (regardless of political affiliation) who wants to live on more than $900 a month must go through legalized fiscal contortions to be able to pay for adequate care.

Robert David South Watertown NY Jan. 11

@TM Exactly the correct response to libertarians. They like to talk about what "would" happen, as though lack of government were a theoretical that can be calculated. There are plenty of real world examples of what "would" happen. There are historical examples too, but they "would" be different, of course.

Socrates Downtown Verona. NJ Jan. 10

@Aubrey Excellent analogy, although we can also use a good old-fashioned term to describe these 'libertarians', 'conservatives' and religious types -- -- hypocrites ..... of the highest despicable order.

Buttons Cornell Toronto, Canada Jan. 11

What courts? Courts are set up, run by and paid for by government. No government means no court system. You, the little, dying from tainted food, up against a huge agricultural corporation with deep pockets. Libertarianism is a bully system. Those with the money win and the rest die. That's it.

george Iowa Jan. 11

@jrinsc How quickly we forget, of course sometimes it isn`t that we forget but rather our memory is clouded by the smoke from the fires set by vulture capitalism. Upton Sinclair The Jungle should be required reading for all congress critters and all incoming Presidents. The Jungle is a mirror to where todays American Nobility, the 21st century Robber Barons, would like to take us. A disposable population for profit.

HN Philadelphia, PA Jan. 10

Where you see Libertarians, I see people who are so self-unaware and entitled that they believe the only apt government subsidies are the ones that benefit them. Remember the ACA debate line - "keep government out of my medicare?" Most people have no idea of what the government does! What about the staunch GOP voters who nonetheless complain when the government doesn't provide immediate aid to them after a disaster, but hesitate when the aid is going to others? And do they comprehend that all disasters - even those claimed to be "natural" - are actually man made? And do those that value privacy and their right to do what they want - do they really think that corporations and businesses will keep their products fair and safe? No, because corporations and businesses take the short view, while fairness and safety - both of which contribute to the health of the nation and its people - take the long view. Libertarians and their ilk are self-entitled peoples who only think about the immediate impact on themselves and their wallets. They change their tunes quickly when government is needed to help their bottom line.

Independent the South Jan. 11

@Bill The idea is not to sue after you get sick but to prevent you from getting sick. And if you want to reduce deficits, vote for Democrats.

Son Of Liberty nyc Jan. 10

What people with GOP/libertarian leanings should realize is that government regulations were ONLY put into place in response to the horrifying abuses of laissez faire capitalism.

Elizabeth Moore Pennsylvania Jan. 11

@Bill You keep right on believing. THE FACTS ARE that people who would sell you contaminated food have ways of covering up all the evidence. Besides, they could always hide behind the fact that the USDA and FDA inspectors weren't working and "they didn't know" because of that. You would lose any lawsuit because the inspectors didn't reveal any problems and the business owner "did not know to the best of his/her knowledge." EVERYTHING would be blamed on the shutdown, and you would LOSE>

Nova yos Galan California Jan. 10

@Goodglud Yes, regulations are limitations on their freedom to pollute.

Mark Rubin Tucson, AZ Jan. 10

Boy howdy, but it's easy to spout the libertarian line when the FDA, FTC, SEC, EPA, etc. do what they do, day in and day out. Government succeeds quietly! Many post smack about what seem like excesses, while they enjoy safe food and drugs, modest limits on fraudsters, clean air and water, etc.: Now, maybe, we'll see what happens when those who mouth off get the freedom they have demanded for decades. With a months' long shutdown lives will be lost, but those who disparage the regulatory state might get their come-uppance. The coming months, if they involve a partial shutdown, will highlight the value government offers. Opportunities like this one don't appear often. This writer, for one, hopes it represents a crisis which won't be wasted.

gbb Boston, MA Jan. 10

Government in this country seems to me to be run pretty well. I wish that more businesses were run as well as the US Postal Service.

JS Boston Ma Jan. 11

@C Wolfe I made friends with Libertarian from Texas in college my freshman year. He got me to read Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. My first take was that Ayn Rand was a pretty weak writer and clearly had serious empathy issues to the point of being a bit creepy. My friend insisted that everyone should be self reliant and was responsible for their own destiny until the day he flunked out because his academically weak high school left him unprepared to survive in our highly selective college. I really felt sorry for him but he was so far behind I could not help him. I have no idea where he ended up.

Lawyermama Buffalo Jan. 10

As the saying goes, you never miss your water until your well runs dry. A very big part of me says this is the only way red states will learn how to stop biting the hand that feeds them: they've been blindly following a party that made no secret that it wished to "starve the beast". This is what it looks like. This new perspective has delighted me even as I worry for my friends, family and colleagues who are feeling the effects. I hope our nation survives this president and learns from the mistakes.

Jim Brokaw California Jan. 10

The problem I have with libertarian utopias is that 'the market' isn't going to work to address all conflicts. So you need to hire enforcement, since government isn't doing it... or are we keeping the courts? And if the courts rule for you, and the other party just refuses to pay, now you have to go get your payment. Good luck with that. It all seems likely to devolve into a 'might makes right' series of standoffs, until people band together into unified groups to collectively agree to a set of rules, and work together with those rules. Sounds a lot like government. Or you can just hire some soldiers and go take what you want. Dare the other guys to take it back. Sounds a lot like anarchy. Libertarians always seems to me like trying to cherry-pick what they like about government, what benefits them, and then dump the rest, the stuff that costs them but they can't see the benefit for. Maybe they'll understand better if they get some contaminated lettuce next time they go grocery shopping...

Pat Stonington, CT Jan. 11

@Bill Who exactly administers said courts that you would turn to for justice? Oh that's right, the government. I hope the irony is not lost on you. Libertarians seem to forgot that no man is an island to himself.

Steve Nirvana Jan. 10

The people I have met who (loudly) espouse libertarian ideas tend to be of three types - all of whom benefit from this philosophy at the expense of others: 1) wealthy heirs like tRump who don't want to pay their taxes since it reduces their ability to live large AND pass on a dynasty to their heirs. 2) those with the luck to obtain the particular skills and education that provide a secure job with high remuneration. (Yes, it is usually a lot of luck) 3) good looking women who are confident that they can latch on to one of those described in 1) or in a pinch, 2) 2) will complain bitterly when the job market shifts - as it did for many in computer science after the glory years of the 80s. 3) will complain if their lawyer doesn't get them a big enough divorce settlement and their looks will no longer give them a second chance. A good economic system works equally for all people, not just those benefiting as members of the lucky gene club.

Spiro Jetti Jan. 11

@Socrates Amen. Something also came to mind in reading your comment: Productive modern blue states subsidize receiving red states, who then, thanks to their outsize representation via the electoral college, bludgeon the blue states with red policies like deregulation and taking of health care etc. Like I am paying someone to punch me. "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

SunnyG Kentucky Jan. 10

We don't see the few inspectors who quietly keep our food safe, the EPA folks testing our air and rivers. The impact will be felt much later, and with no one to do the forensics, the story won't be told until well after the shutdown ends. I'm wondering how long the shutdown will last when visible folks start to go on strike. Will the federal employees who will perform the promised IRS, Food Stamp and farm distributions go to work, or ally themselves with their less visible brethren? With transportation, chaos will be most evident. After no paycheck on Friday, what if TSA doesn't shows or they picket Atlanta, OHare, JFK, SFO, IAD and DFW? Ditto for their compatriots in the Control Towers. Chaos. Who benefits? Perhaps we'll learn from Michael Cohen.

Rick Cedar Hill, TX Jan. 10

We as a nation are in this condition because the American character is one of greed, selfishness, one who does not think for himself/herself, and one that is controlled through fear. Maybe once our empire crumbles it will be divided into smaller countries that are easier to manage like the western European countries. I will move to one of the new countries that support a balanced budget, hates the concept of Citizens United and K Street lobbyists, wants to educate their masses, and provides healthcare for everyone rich and not so rich. An ignorant populous is easier to control and manhandle. The US is a good example.

Rima Regas Southern California Jan. 10

@hen3ry "It's fascinating to realize that McConnell, Pence, Trump, and the rest of the obnoxious crowd are getting paid by the government they want to drown." When you go the rest of the way you finally get a true sense of how perverted these people are.

javierg Miami, Florida Jan. 10

Thank you Dr. Krugman for a great perspective. It reminds me of the saying "be careful of what you wish for" ... for it may actually come true. Save for the sacrifice of many good Americans who depend on jobs and government benefits and the public in general, this may be the medicine those Republicans need to cure themselves of their hands off philosophy.

Ron Silverlake WA Jan. 11

@Bill I don't believe for a nano-second you would be willing to expose your family to contaminated or adulterated food on the chance you might be able sue someone after the fact. It could take you years and many thousands of dollars to get justice that way. There is a good reason we have agencies like the FDA. Many years before you were born, we in fact had the very situation you say you would be fine with. It was buyer beware for all foodstuffs. You could not trust food producers to put on the label what was actually in the can or bottle. Meat packers were packing and sending out absolute filth. If you want a hint of what it would be like here without these protective agencies, do a little research on food safety in China. It will make you sick when you see what the Chinese are exposed to.

Jody Quincy, IL Jan. 10

@C Wolfe Libertarian or not, in this country money is always more valued than human life. Again, it took Western Europe more than 2,000 years to become somewhat civilized and it will take this continent at least that long.

Thomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 10

@Eleanor How will you get around this? Reagan said, 'The nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."'

Anne CA Jan. 10

Does the shutdown mean that government will stop collecting tax money while services are suspended? Does it work both ways?

Teresa MN Jan. 11

@ebmem I am an employee of Medicaid who sees countless fellow workers toil long after quitting time to cover the most people, with the least potential harm or burden to them, to get the best services and quality of life possible, AND doing all that earning maybe half the compensation of a comparable private sector position. It saddens me that even the program ensuring our loved ones - or ourselves! - have care at the end of life is not safe from this kind of bitter, distorted partisan anger.

James K. Lowden Camden, Maine Jan. 11

@Bill Two words for you: Blue Milk. Look it up. Food contamination is an old story, as old as tort law. The FDA was created because tort law was unequal to the task. If you think the modern day is different, how is that romaine lettuce lawsuit going for you? As far as I know, no one knows where the contamination came from, much less who to sue. The romaine situation illustrates another flaw in your libertarian fantasy. The individual harm is collectively huge but individually small. Any action -- preventive or retributive -- requires collective action. Which, actually, is what democracy is, and why democracy created the FDA.

Joe Glendale, Arizona Jan. 11

@Linda You said it, Linda. I just returned from Europe. And I could not believe again how much tastier the meat and produce was - not only in restaurants but in humble meals in the country. Commercial food produced in the United States is terrible, tasteless, and full of pernicious additives. Ma and Pa Kettle have become inured to it, and don't know any better.

Blue Moon Old Pueblo Jan. 11

@Wilbray Thiffault "Well, Mitch McConnell is not on the food stamp program, and he manages to be one of the most 'non productive' senators in the history of the US Senate." Correction: Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans are indeed on the food stamp program, the best one ever, and the government shutdown is not preventing them all from being paid. They will never give it up willingly.

Sunny NYC Jan. 10

Prof. Krugman says, "Meanwhile, the philosophy of the party's base is, in essence, big government for me but not for thee." I totally agree. It is indeed Trump and the Republican party who is disrupting the free market. The free market can be sustained only when it is run by smart and fair-minded people including top-notched economists and politicians. Otherwise, the socialism-monster would threaten and collapse the free market anytime. What I mean by 'the socialism-monster' is not the economies of Northern European countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, etc. Some Americans call their economies 'socialism', but that's very wrong; their economies are indeed one of the most advanced capitalistic systems. How can't they be? Capitalism in a sense started from there, i.e., the business markets of the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, etc. Only when capitalism is truly advanced can well-rounded safety nets exist. In any case, genuinely socialist countries such as North-Korea and China do not protect human rights and thus prohibit freedom. The real problem with Trump and his allies is that they offer the strongest momentum for socialism by killing the chance for developing truly healthy free market. Trump, with Putin, is turning the whole world back into the days of nationalism, ideologism, and colonialism. They all champion big , huge, monstrous government. If there is any American crisis, it is not border security but gun violence. But Trump underwrites the NRA.

[Dec 30, 2018] Summer- Rerun- Journey into a Libertarian Future- Part I The Vision

You can find original interview at using the lisnk above, or if it disappeared, in Humor section of this site
Notable quotes:
"... I will say that, just as Marxism provides an essential way of examining capitalism, libertarianism provides a filter for examining and criticizing stateist impulses. But a society organized around libertarian principles, just silly. ..."
"... The one thing libertarians want desperately to ignore is that imposing their vision of an utopian society is that while no one is "coerced" and will have equal rights, the inequalities that exist today will be cemented into society. ..."
"... Thus Spake Zarathustra, ..."
Dec 30, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The interview was skilled for obvious reasons ;-)


Synoia , December 27, 2018 at 3:47 pm

What puzzles me about the Libertarian Dream is their ability to ignore the Dark Ages in Western Europe.

It fulfills all their requirements, and by what accounts survive, was remarkably unsuccessful. Life was poor, nasty, brutish and short.

I've has the discussion of rule of law with libertarians, and it went like this:

Lb: We could have a farming society without rule of law.
Me: How are disputes resolved?
Lb: We all get together and resolve the dispute.
Me: How is the dispute resolution enforced?
Lb: Everybody agrees to the resolution.
Me: What happens if some do not agree? What happens if someone cheats?
Lb: ..
Me: We've used this mechanism before, Hatfields vs McCoy' in the US, and Campbells Vs McDonalds in Scotland.
Lb: ..

Those who don't know their History, are condemned to repeat it.

Winston Churchill in his "History of the English Speaking Peoples" refers to the desire of the People in England to have "The King's Peace," otherwise known as "The Rule of Law" with all it's apparatus, Police, Courts, etc.

The Libertarians appear to want "Rule by the Rich and Powerful" and do not understand that that includes few, if any, of the current libertarians, except perhaps for the Koch Brothers.

Sleeping Dog , December 30, 2018 at 9:05 am

In the 90's when encountering a want-to-be business tycoon spouting Libertarian nonsense, I would encourage them to seek their fortune in Somalia, where no government existed.

I will say that, just as Marxism provides an essential way of examining capitalism, libertarianism provides a filter for examining and criticizing stateist impulses. But a society organized around libertarian principles, just silly.

Synoia , December 27, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Tom DiLorenzo pointed out on the Lew Rockwell website that the crisis was actually the result of the government forcing banks to make risky loans to low-income borrowers.

Oh the poor banks, forced to loan money for houses aka: The Brer Rabbit Loan Origination philosophy.

"Forced "the banks were not. They juiced the bankruptcy laws, and bundle up the loans and sold then to a willing set of buyers, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, "Government Corporations", who were re-nationalized when they fell into trouble.

The Bank's happily took the loan origination fees, and survived when they were then "forced" to accept Government bail outs.

Why some senior bank executives even took a cut in Bonuses – the misery of it all! /s

rob , December 27, 2018 at 7:47 pm

That was the first thing that leaped out at me too. Are you kidding? the banks were "forced" by the government where to start with that one? The only thing that fits was said here not to long ago. " arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a pigeon. They just knock over the pieces, shit on the board, and strut around like they won anyway."

RP , December 27, 2018 at 4:24 pm

The one thing libertarians want desperately to ignore is that imposing their vision of an utopian society is that while no one is "coerced" and will have equal rights, the inequalities that exist today will be cemented into society. Until someone can explain to me what my recourse is when my right to breathe clean air and drink clean water or to speak my mind freely is destroyed by a polluter or someone who doesn't like what I have to say, I will view libertarianism as the worst of all possible worlds.

Amfortas the hippie , December 28, 2018 at 6:54 am

when i was still on faceborg, years ago, I would often be confronted by wandering libertarians.
one way to send them into conniptions was to say, "fine. let's run your experiment of lawlessness and "freedom" but first, in order to adhere to good experimental methodology, shouldn't we first redistribute the wealth?"
a race hardly proves anything if it's between a fighter jet and a rickshaw.
the resulting frothing fits were entertaining. They believe that they are paragons of logical thinking as opposed to us silly lefties.
and , like the neoreactionaries that threaten to take their place in corporate philosophy, they seem to believe that they will naturally be the Lords of the Manor.
Libertarians hate to hear about Rawls' Veil of Ignorance.

JimK , December 27, 2018 at 4:58 pm

Cain's libertarian views have the depth and breadth of a bunch of mutually contradictory bumper stickers. The views lack a grasp of system interactions and impacts, and display a narrow rigid simplicity that neglects scads of important social, economic and environmental factors. The views are so inept it makes me wonder, was this interview satire?

Yves Smith , December 27, 2018 at 5:54 pm

The interview is based on the works of Hans-Hermann Hoppe; the parts in red either links or when they have numbers, direct quotes with page references.

Anarcissie , December 28, 2018 at 10:27 am

In my experience (from Usenet days, mostly) libertarians vary quite a bit in their views. Mr. Hoppe's seem to be of the anarcho-capitalist flavor, similar to David Friedman's, but many libertarians would disagree with them and some would say they are crazy. Libertarianism seems to be a tendency, an attitude, a sensibility, rather than an explicit set of principles cast in the form of propositions and rules. It is more aesthetic than logical, in spite of the way they regard themselves; see Thus Spake Zarathustra, on 'the coldest of all cold monsters' for a taste.

In regard to libertarianism on the ground: as with other marginal ideologies, there have been some experiments; for example, there was a project of getting libertarians to move to some county in New Hampshire where their numbers would enable them to have some influence on the social order and its government. None that I know about have been very successful.

Lambert Strether , December 28, 2018 at 12:55 am

> The views are so inept it makes me wonder, was this interview satire?

The interview is satire, but as you can imagine, libertarianism is extremely hard to satirize; the author faced technical challenges in making the self-ownage even more obvious than it already is.

Karen , December 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Is this a joke?

Lambert Strether , December 28, 2018 at 12:57 am

More perhaps a caper, frolic, or prank -- of which are extended in time with no single punchline (except for the running gag of "in a rights-respecting manner"). It's satirical.

rob , December 27, 2018 at 6:49 pm

I have to admit that nowadays when someone says they are a libertarian, my 1st assumption is that they are an idiot, who doesn't realize they are just a tool for the republican/neoliberal overlords/industrialists who just want to go back to pre-regulatory and pre-taxation years as were 120 years ago.Back when snake oil salesmen were free to peddle their wares, any how they saw fit.
Thirty years ago, being a libertarian at least had some logic behind it. they were anti- drug war and anti- police state and things that actually make sense. They realized there had to be SOME laws, and Some civic responsibility.
anyone who has crazy ideas like this today are actual and factual "conspiracy theorists". Talk about crazy. There isn't any substance here to refute . this is all total BS.
Again, we find the "information age" taken up by peoples opinions of "fact" that are pure propaganda.

Telee , December 27, 2018 at 8:00 pm

I've had close contact with libertarians. One is a medical doctor. A primary goal is to eliminate democracy entirely. The people would have no input in determining the conditions under which they live. A market unpreturbed by taxes and regulations would yield the most optimum rusults which benefit the society. People who are lazy and who lack ambition, which is proven by their low economic status, would be isolated and cast aside into favelas because they are undeserving of anything better. The greatest threat is not global warming, or the threat of nuclear war but tyranny. He and his son are armed and expect to be able to defeat the government when the time comes. Based on a discussion where I used the term social justice, the good doctored recoiled and said social justice is communism. He was also against helping ( I suppose via the givernment) victims of natural catastrophies such as floods, hurricanes, fires, earth quakes etc. When asked what kind of society would result from these beliefs, they don't have a clue except to say that when one persues a just and moral cause the outcome is of no consequence. When asked about global warming they emphasized their right to have all the plastic straws they want. A tyrannical government imposing rules is the greatest threat.

All very logical. Yes? Another doctor, my primary care physician welcomes global warming because he thinks we can deal with it very easily and feels that it is most fortunate that we don't have global cooling.

Another retired doctor I talk to expressed the view that all Muslim mosques in the US should be blown up and all Muslims should leave the country or be killed.

And these are the intelligent people!

Lambert Strether , December 28, 2018 at 1:00 am

Do you remember their specialties? (I assume these are specialists.)

Telee , December 28, 2018 at 9:50 am

All doctors to which I referred are primary care physicians.

rob , December 27, 2018 at 8:07 pm

hell no!
But they have a different "schtik" .. like cinton/obama doing the same thing but they use different words . appealing to different people.
for clarity, i suppose I should have used some better punctuation.
"republican/neoliberal" meaning "the deregulation crowd"
""overlords/industrialist" meaning the powers that be who make money in manufacturing and other related industries who have liabilities in relation to their waste/pollution disposal, working conditions,safety standards/practices/costs,etc . who are the funders of this type of propaganda.
I have no illusions that the deregulation gang didn't gain ascension to our gov't as of late; with carter, and has been in EVERY administration since.

eg , December 27, 2018 at 10:38 pm

The absence of a thriving libertarian polity across all human history and geography implies a fundamental incompatibility with human nature.

My guess is that any human group which tries it is simply destroyed and/or absorbed by neighbouring human groups which employ more effective arrangements (whatever defects those particular arrangements may have).

Libertarians aren't much for empiricism, I suppose .

Ape , December 28, 2018 at 4:02 am

Most of the last 10k years are feudal and libertarianism is just feudalism. Even the Roman states were mostly run on a private law basis – aka libertarianism. Mass slavery, citizenship limited to an elite who personally acted as enforcers, courts and legislators.

Libertarianism is the perennial philosophy, horribly compatible with human nature.

eg , December 28, 2018 at 7:06 pm

Perhaps I am guilty of confusing libertarian with anarchist.

Ape , December 29, 2018 at 6:53 am

Anarchism is quite distinct. It worked for about a million years. It's just not compatible with scalable technologies/economies.

kees_popinga , December 28, 2018 at 8:36 am

It's interesting that this post is generating separate comment threads 7 years apart. I started reading the 2011 comments thinking they were current and was immediately struck by the thoroughness and passion of the debate, occurring around the time of the Obamacare rollout and closer to the 2008 crash. Possibly more people had a stake in libertarianism back then and found this interview threatening? In any event, one thing common to both threads is the tendency not to recognize the interview as satire. Compliments to Mr. Dittmer for his enduring dry wit (even though the internet makes irony hard to recognize).

redleg , December 28, 2018 at 5:58 pm

The security GLOs would encounter Gresham's Dynamic, eventually collecting the premiums and never following up on claims.

d , December 29, 2018 at 5:36 pm

so what happens when the GLOs from different customers are pulled into a battle between them? and how does this work when some one who hired them to protect them dies from a business ?

[Oct 27, 2018] Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute: in a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees and trespassers not legal and illegal immigrants

Notable quotes:
"... This is what has been missing for over 40 years in the US, government's role in the economy. When any politician brings up the fact that it's time we used fiscal policy as it was designed, neoliberals have a socialism meltdown. Both parties have been taken over by the Kochtopus, The libertarian fascist ideology that hides behind the term "neoliberalism". The ultimate goal of this zombie ideology that was thoroughly discredited in 2008 but continues to roam the earth is to replace nations with privately owned cities. ..."
"... This is the struggle -- the struggle to maintain public space on a planet that was never meant to be owned in the first place. ..."
Oct 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon [224] Disclaimer , says: October 27, 2018 at 2:47 pm GMT

"Government exists to spend. The purpose of government is to serve the general welfare of the citizens, not just the military-industrial complex and the financial class. Didn't we have a stimulus, oh, eight years ago? It was tiny and has not been entirely spent. As Yellen implied, we need more spending of the non-military kind (what Barney Frank memorably called "weaponized Keynesianism" doesn't stimulate)."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/leesheppard/2016/04/02/we-need-fiscal-policy/?fbclid=IwAR02l1AlZGMpapbTOdURjgRknx6Kai-24Z6fXBCXyBolgdgodvjSmYmXAdw#1c4e7dea8b40

This is what has been missing for over 40 years in the US, government's role in the economy. When any politician brings up the fact that it's time we used fiscal policy as it was designed, neoliberals have a socialism meltdown. Both parties have been taken over by the Kochtopus, The libertarian fascist ideology that hides behind the term "neoliberalism". The ultimate goal of this zombie ideology that was thoroughly discredited in 2008 but continues to roam the earth is to replace nations with privately owned cities. This experiment was going on in Honduras, following the 2009 coup, until it was finally ended by a SC ruling that it was unconstitutional.

"In a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees and trespassers -- not legal and illegal immigrants." ~ Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute

This is the struggle -- the struggle to maintain public space on a planet that was never meant to be owned in the first place.

[Sep 20, 2018] What do you say about libertarians?

A lot of people see society in organic terms, and think the maintenance of the whole over-rides the welfare of any particular bit – even if that particular bit happens to be themselves (Trump recently hit this theme when he tweeted that "patriotic" Americans were prepared to sacrifice for the greater good in the trade war).
Heirarchy is probably unavoidable, not for reasons of individual difference but because one-to-many organisation is the only form that scales readily. We can all have an equal voice on a jury, but not when building a henge or a operating a car-factory.
Notable quotes:
"... A lot of non-conservatives have a very difficult time grappling with the notion that a commitment to inequality, that a belief in the inherent superiority of some people over others, that one group has the the right to rule and dominate others, is a moral belief. ..."
"... Since, according to this argument, you are amongst other things, your social class, I cannot judge your moral actions unless I understand your social circumstances. But morality is a form of judgement, or to put it another way a ranking. Morality is means nothing unless I can say: 'you are more moral then him, she is more moral than you' and so on. (Nietzsche: 'Man is Man the esteemer' i.e. someone who ranks his or her fellow human beings: human beings cannot be morally equal or the phrase has no meaning). ..."
"... Therefore, unless people have a role in life (i.e. butcher, baker, candlestick maker) then morality collapses (this is the weak point in the argument and if you wanted to tear the whole edifice down you would start here). ..."
"... And of course this social order must be hierarchical, or else anyone can be anything one wants to be, and in that case, who will sweep the streets? ' ..."
"... In other words Conservatives believe that without hierarchy, without ranking and without a stratified (and therefore meaningful) social order, morality actually disintegrates. You simply cannot have a morality without these things: everything retreats into the realm of the subjective. Conservatives don't believe that things like the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields, the Great Terror, the Cultural Revolution are bad things that happened to happen: they believe that they are the necessary and inevitable end result of atheistical, relativistic, egalitarian politics. ..."
"... To the Right, the Left has no morality, as they understand the term, and cannot in fact do so. Leftist morality is a contradiction in terms, in this worldview. ..."
Sep 20, 2018 | crookedtimber.org

Hidari 09.18.18 at 8:50 am ( 105 )

I think this is an incredibly important point here:

'One last point: A lot of non-conservatives have a very difficult time grappling with the notion that a commitment to inequality, that a belief in the inherent superiority of some people over others, that one group has the the right to rule and dominate others, is a moral belief. For many people, particularly on the left, that idea is not so much immoral as it is beyond the pale of morality itself. So that's where the charge that I'm being dismissive or reductive comes from, I'm convinced. Because I say the animating idea of the right is not freedom or virtue or limited government but instead power and privilege, people, and again I see this mostly from liberals and the left, think I'm making some sort of claim about conservatism as a criminal, amoral enterprise, devoid of principle altogether, whereas I firmly believe I'm trying to do the exact opposite: to focus on where exactly the moral divide between right and left lies.'

Both the Right and the Left, think that they are moral. And yet they disagree about moral issues. How can this be?

The solution to this problem is to see that when Rightists and Leftists use the word 'moral' they are using the word in two different (and non compatible) senses. I won't dwell on what the Left mean by morality: I'm sure most of you will be familiar with, so to speak, your own moral code.

What the Right mean by morality is rather different, and is more easily seen in 'outliers' e.g. right wing intellectuals like Evelyn Waugh and T.S. Eliot rather than politicians. Intellectuals can be rather more open about their true beliefs.

The first key point is to understand the hostility towards 'abstraction': and what purposes this serves. Nothing is more alien to right wing thought that the idea of an Abstract Man: right wing thought is situational, contextual (one might even call it relativistic) to the core. de Maistre states this most clearly: 'The (French) constitution of 1795, like its predecessors, has been drawn up for Man. Now, there is no such thing in the world as Man . In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; I am even aware, thanks to Montesquieu, that one can be a Persian. But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life.'

This sounds postmodern to us, even Leftist (and of course Marx might have given highly provisional approval to this statement). But the question is not: is this statement true? It's: 'what do the right do with this statement?'

Again to quote another reactionary thinker Jose Ortega y Gasseett: 'I am myself plus my circumstances'. Again this is simply a definition of contextualism. So what are your circumstances? They are, amongst other things, your social circumstances: i.e. your social class.

Since, according to this argument, you are amongst other things, your social class, I cannot judge your moral actions unless I understand your social circumstances. But morality is a form of judgement, or to put it another way a ranking. Morality is means nothing unless I can say: 'you are more moral then him, she is more moral than you' and so on. (Nietzsche: 'Man is Man the esteemer' i.e. someone who ranks his or her fellow human beings: human beings cannot be morally equal or the phrase has no meaning).

But I can't hermeneutically see what moral role you must play in life, I cannot judge you, unless I have some criteria for this judgement, and for this I must know what your circumstances are.

Therefore, unless people have a role in life (i.e. butcher, baker, candlestick maker) then morality collapses (this is the weak point in the argument and if you wanted to tear the whole edifice down you would start here). Because unless we know what one's social role is then we can't assess whether or not people are living 'up to' that role. And of course this social order must be hierarchical, or else anyone can be anything one wants to be, and in that case, who will sweep the streets? '

And if anyone has any smart arse points to raise about that idea, God usually gets roped in to function, literally, as a Deux ex Machina.

' The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.'

Clive James put it best when discussing Waugh: 'With no social order, there could be no moral order. People had to know their place before they knew their duty he (and, more importantly society) needed a coherent social system (i.e. an ordered social system, a hierarchical social system)'

In other words Conservatives believe that without hierarchy, without ranking and without a stratified (and therefore meaningful) social order, morality actually disintegrates. You simply cannot have a morality without these things: everything retreats into the realm of the subjective. Conservatives don't believe that things like the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields, the Great Terror, the Cultural Revolution are bad things that happened to happen: they believe that they are the necessary and inevitable end result of atheistical, relativistic, egalitarian politics. Social 'levelling', destroying meaningful (i.e. hierarchical ('organic' is the euphemism usually used)) societies will usually, not always but usually, lead to genocide and/or civil war. Hence the hysteria that seizes most Conservatives when the word relativism is used. And their deep fear of postmodernism, a small scale, now deeply unfashionable art movement with a few (very few) philosophical adherents: as it destroys hierarchy and undermines one's capacity to judge and therefore order one's fellow human beings, it will tend to lead to the legalisation of pedophilia, the legalisation of rape, the legalisation of murder, war, genocide etc, because, to repeat, morality depends on order. No social order= no morality.

Hence the Right's deep suspicion of the left's morality. To the Right, the Left has no morality, as they understand the term, and cannot in fact do so. Leftist morality is a contradiction in terms, in this worldview.

[Sep 16, 2018] This story about Hoffman's getting censored and removed from Amazon's Kindle books is a fine example of why libertarianism is idealistic nonsense.

Notable quotes:
"... Needless to say, it is Amazon which has crushed and eliminated the local community bookshop that was once a beloved social commons, in every town and city across the land. ..."
"... Unfortunately, now that Amazon has a total monopoly on book publishing, it can decide who will or will not be published. But really, isn't Amazon the end result of libertarianism, neo-liberal, no regulation capitalism as we now have? ..."
"... This is a total nightmare situation: a gigantic behemoth corporation, unanswerable to anybody. Doesn't even need to have clearly worded guidelines, deliberately vague so they can censor whomever they want, at their whim. There is zero accountability with this libertarian arrangement. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

Deschutes , says: September 16, 2018 at 9:51 am GMT

I hate Amazon through and through: from that greedy little rat Bezos who has become the world's richest man on the backs of his workers which he treats like slaves, like dogs–paying them so little they have to apply for foodstamps, to the horrible working conditions at Amazon's giant fullfillment warehouses (no lunchbreak; penalizing workers for going to the bathroom for too long; deliberately firing workers when they become legally entitled to full time regular employment (Amazon deliberately uses temp/contract workers to avoid paying healthcare, maternity leave, pension, vacation, etc). In short, Amazon is a total, complete asshole corporation which has now become a global publishing monopoly by deliberate design.

Needless to say, it is Amazon which has crushed and eliminated the local community bookshop that was once a beloved social commons, in every town and city across the land.

This story about Hoffman's getting censored and removed from Amazon's Kindle books is a fine example of why libertarianism is idealistic nonsense. Libertarians argue that no government is necessary? No laws needed? That government regulation is an unnecessary interference in a pure person to person marketplace? What a load of bollocks. If there were robust anti-monopoly regulations in place that were actually enforced, there would be no Amazon monopoly like we suffer under today; it would be one of many smaller sized retailers. We would have choice! Hoffman could go and sell through a different bookseller.

Unfortunately, now that Amazon has a total monopoly on book publishing, it can decide who will or will not be published. But really, isn't Amazon the end result of libertarianism, neo-liberal, no regulation capitalism as we now have?

Bezos: "It's my company and I'll do what I please, censor whatever I want!" Yes–this is pure neo-liberal libertarianism with no government regulation. No way to redress grievances.

This is a total nightmare situation: a gigantic behemoth corporation, unanswerable to anybody. Doesn't even need to have clearly worded guidelines, deliberately vague so they can censor whomever they want, at their whim. There is zero accountability with this libertarian arrangement.

It would be much better if there were laws on the books, enforced, which

a) stopped such abusive monopolies from happening in the first place;

b) laws on the books–enforced–protecting author's publication rights, to prevent censorship as is now happening.

You don't have this in USA today, so authors get screwed over, censored and disappeared. Anyways, much for libertarianism.

ATTN: if you still have an Amazon membership and buy stuff from them -- do your civic duty and stop it! Delete your account and tell them why!

Anonymous , [159] Disclaimer says: September 16, 2018 at 10:02 am GMT

To be banned by Amazon is not equivalent to being banned by any other private business. Most publishers will admit that Amazon has replaced Bowker Books in Print as the industry's authoritative guide to what books in English have been printed in the past and what is in print now. Amazon is currently the reference source. For a book to be forbidden by Amazon renders it largely invisible. It is equivalent to burning the book. So this is not a matter of Amazon exercising the prerogative of private enterprise. Amazon is a monopoly. It has no rival. If your book doesn't exist on Amazon, then for most people who are not research specialists, your book doesn't exist. The consequences for the pursuit of knowledge are ominous.

Exactly. And this kind of global monopoly power can't be diminished in time with naive, "free market – just go somewhere else", Libertarian sound-bites. People who believe in that fairytale are beyond naive. Amazon, YouTube, Reddit and Twitter are untouchable in an environment where their competitors can barely offer a fraction of a fraction of the Worldwide audience to their "content creators" and very few content creators to the audience. This built-in inertia is self-reinforcing and tremendously inert. It's also the reason why the Globalists have spared no expense to own those platforms.

Free speech will have to be enforced and saved politically. Waiting for Zuckenberg to un-fuck it is a fool's errand.

[Jun 06, 2018] Where are the rational limits of libertarian vision?

Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Friarbird , 3 Jun 2018 21:42

Further down the thread, 'Weakaspiss' makes a pertinent observation; " government has forgotten they govern for all, and have a primary duty for those who are least able to prosper."

In fact, they've "forgotten" nothing.
Instead, they've fallen for the self-serving blandishments of Libertarian dogma.
Where have I learned of these ?
By reading the posts of GA's resident Libertarians.
The sub-texts of which are wonderfully instructive.

1. Nothing is more important than the individual.
2. And as an individual and a Libertarian, I am infinitely superior to you.
3. Plus I resent paying taxes, which are outright theft.
4. Since I believe, utterly without basis in reality, that taxes levied on hard-working, wonderful freedom-loving ME, sustain the likes of lazy, parasitical YOU.
5. Meanwhile, govt, if it cannot be destroyed, must always be demonised and underfunded. And so-called 'programs of public benefit' for the parasites--like Medicare, or the ABC-- must be sold outright to the private sector.
6. No I don't want to debate about it, if there's a chance I'll lose the argument.
My ego demands I win every time..
7. Certainly not with losers of lower social status, who were 'educated' in a union-run public school.
8. And don't even come near me, losers. Yuk ! You're probably not even white !
9. Because I socialise only within my own tribe, thank you very much.
10. Besides, you're probably living off my taxes.
11. Did I mention taxes somewhere ?
12. Taxes are theft.

Our conservatives have "forgotten" NOTHING.
Instead, they've fallen for a sociopathic ideology which tells them their least attractive impulses are positively praiseworthy.
Hence the nasty, ego-driven tone of current political life.
Injected directly into the bloodstream of our body politic by a Lying Rodent.
Its philosophy may be simply stated

Does your policy shit all over people you never cared for anyway ?
THEN DO IT.

[May 31, 2018] Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America by Lynn Parramore

Highly recommended!
This looks like Ann Rand philosophy: "The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged "prey" of "parasites" and "predators" out to fleece them."
Notable quotes:
"... By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... The Limits of Liberty ..."
"... Property as a Guarantor of Liberty ..."
"... Brown v. Board of Education ..."
"... Calhoun, called the "Marx of the Master Class" by historian Richard Hofstadter, saw himself and his fellow southern oligarchs as victims of the majority. Therefore, as MacLean explains, he sought to create "constitutional gadgets" to constrict the operations of government ..."
"... She argues out that unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability. ..."
"... Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions -- all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge. ..."
"... MacLean observes that the Virginia school, as Buchanan's brand of economic and political thinking is known, is a kind of cousin to the better-known, market-oriented Chicago and Austrian schools -- proponents of all three were members of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international neoliberal organization which included Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. But the Virginia school's focus and career missions were distinct. In an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), MacLean described Friedman and Buchanan as yin and yang: "Friedman was this genial, personable character who loved to be in the limelight and made a sunny case for the free market and the freedom to choose and so forth. Buchanan was the dark side of this: he thought, ok, fine, they can make a case for the free market, but everybody knows that free markets have externalities and other problems. So he wanted to keep people from believing that government could be the alternative to those problems." ..."
"... Buchanan's school focused on public choice theory, later adding constitutional economics and the new field of law and economics to its core research and advocacy. The economist saw that his vision would never come to fruition by focusing on who rules. It was much better to focus on the rules themselves , and that required a "constitutional revolution." ..."
"... MacLean describes how the economist developed a grand project to train operatives to staff institutions funded by like-minded tycoons, most significantly Charles Koch, who became interested in his work in the '70s and sought the economist's input in promoting "Austrian economics" in the U.S. and in advising the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. ..."
"... With Koch's money and enthusiasm, Buchanan's academic school evolved into something much bigger. By the 1990s, Koch realized that Buchanan's ideas -- transmitted through stealth and deliberate deception, as MacLean amply documents -- could help take government down through incremental assaults that the media would hardly notice. The tycoon knew that the project was extremely radical, even a "revolution" in governance, but he talked like a conservative to make his plans sound more palatable. ..."
"... At the 1997 fiftieth anniversary of the Mont Pelerin Society, MacLean recounts that Buchanan and his associate Henry Manne, a founding theorist of libertarian economic approaches to law, focused on such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, expressing eagerness to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project. ..."
"... To put the success into perspective, MacLean points to the fact that Henry Manne, whom Buchanan was instrumental in hiring, created legal programs for law professors and federal judges which could boast that by 1990 two of every five sitting federal judges had participated. "40 percent of the U.S. federal judiciary," writes MacLean, "had been treated to a Koch-backed curriculum." ..."
"... Buchanan's role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs. Supermajorities would be required for any changes of substance, leaving the public little recourse to challenge programs like the privatization of social security. ..."
"... The Limits of Liberty ..."
"... MacLean is not the only scholar to sound the alarm that the country is experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society. Peter Temin, former head of the MIT economics department, INET grantee, and author of The Vanishing Middle Class ..."
"... The One Percent Solution ..."
"... She observes, for example, that many liberals have missed the point of strategies like privatization. Efforts to "reform" public education and Social Security are not just about a preference for the private sector over the public sector, she argues. You can wrap your head around, even if you don't agree. Instead, MacLean contents, the goal of these strategies is to radically alter power relations, weakening pro-public forces and enhancing the lobbying power and commitment of the corporations that take over public services and resources, thus advancing the plans to dismantle democracy and make way for a return to oligarchy. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive. ..."
"... MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers "to control the resultant popular anger." The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right's aggressive use of state power. ..."
"... They could, and have ..."
"... Getting it done ..."
"... Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative ..."
May 31, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
May 31, 2018 By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual lynchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean

Ask people to name the key minds that have shaped America's burst of radical right-wing attacks on working conditions, consumer rights and public services, and they will typically mention figures like free market-champion Milton Friedman, libertarian guru Ayn Rand, and laissez-faire economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

James McGill Buchanan is a name you will rarely hear unless you've taken several classes in economics. And if the Tennessee-born Nobel laureate were alive today, it would suit him just fine that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work.

The reason? Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that his philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand. (Yes, you read that correctly). If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept.

That is a dangerous blind spot, MacLean argues in a meticulously researched book, Democracy in Chains , a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. While Americans grapple with Donald Trump's chaotic presidency, we may be missing the key to changes that are taking place far beyond the level of mere politics. Once these changes are locked into place, there may be no going back.

An Unlocked Door in Virginia

MacLean's book reads like an intellectual detective story. In 2010, she moved to North Carolina, where a Tea Party-dominated Republican Party got control of both houses of the state legislature and began pushing through a radical program to suppress voter rights, decimate public services, and slash taxes on the wealthy that shocked a state long a beacon of southern moderation. Up to this point, the figure of James Buchanan flickered in her peripheral vision, but as she began to study his work closely, the events in North Carolina and also Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker was leading assaults on collective bargaining rights, shifted her focus.

Could it be that this relatively obscure economist's distinctive thought was being put forcefully into action in real time?

MacLean could not gain access to Buchanan's papers to test her hypothesis until after his death in January 2013. That year, just as the government was being shut down by Ted Cruz & Co., she traveled to George Mason University in Virginia, where the economist's papers lay willy-nilly across the offices of a building now abandoned by the Koch-funded faculty to a new, fancier center in Arlington.

MacLean was stunned. The archive of the man who had sought to stay under the radar had been left totally unsorted and unguarded. The historian plunged in, and she read through boxes and drawers full of papers that included personal correspondence between Buchanan and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. That's when she had an amazing realization: here was the intellectual lynchpin of a stealth revolution currently in progress.

A Theory of Property Supremacy

Buchanan, a 1940 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University who later attended the University of Chicago for graduate study, started out as a conventional public finance economist. But he grew frustrated by the way in which economic theorists ignored the political process.

Buchanan began working on a description of power that started out as a critique of how institutions functioned in the relatively liberal 1950s and '60s, a time when economist John Maynard Keynes's ideas about the need for government intervention in markets to protect people from flaws so clearly demonstrated in the Great Depression held sway. Buchanan, MacLean notes, was incensed at what he saw as a move toward socialism and deeply suspicious of any form of state action that channels resources to the public. Why should the increasingly powerful federal government be able to force the wealthy to pay for goods and programs that served ordinary citizens and the poor?

In thinking about how people make political decisions and choices, Buchanan concluded that you could only understand them as individuals seeking personal advantage. In interview cited by MacLean, the economist observed that in the 1950s Americans commonly assumed that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. Buchanan vehemently disagreed -- that was a belief he wanted, as he put it, to "tear down." His ideas developed into a theory that came to be known as "public choice."

Buchanan's view of human nature was distinctly dismal. Adam Smith saw human beings as self-interested and hungry for personal power and material comfort, but he also acknowledged social instincts like compassion and fairness. Buchanan, in contrast, insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest. Crediting people with altruism or a desire to serve others was "romantic" fantasy: politicians and government workers were out for themselves, and so, for that matter, were teachers, doctors, and civil rights activists. They wanted to control others and wrest away their resources: "Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves," he wrote in his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty .

Does that sound like your kindergarten teacher? It did to Buchanan.

The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged "prey" of "parasites" and "predators" out to fleece them.

In 1965 the economist launched a center dedicated to his theories at the University of Virginia, which later relocated to George Mason University. MacLean describes how he trained thinkers to push back against the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate America's public schools and to challenge the constitutional perspectives and federal policy that enabled it. She notes that he took care to use economic and political precepts, rather than overtly racial arguments, to make his case, which nonetheless gave cover to racists who knew that spelling out their prejudices would alienate the country.

All the while, a ghost hovered in the background -- that of John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, senator and seventh vice president of the United States.

Calhoun was an intellectual and political powerhouse in the South from the 1820s until his death in 1850, expending his formidable energy to defend slavery. Calhoun, called the "Marx of the Master Class" by historian Richard Hofstadter, saw himself and his fellow southern oligarchs as victims of the majority. Therefore, as MacLean explains, he sought to create "constitutional gadgets" to constrict the operations of government.

Economists Tyler Cowen and Alexander Tabarrok, both of George Mason University, have noted the two men's affinities, heralding Calhoun "a precursor of modern public choice theory" who "anticipates" Buchanan's thinking. MacLean observes that both focused on how democracy constrains property owners and aimed for ways to restrict the latitude of voters. She argues out that unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability.

Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions -- all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge.

Gravy Train to Oligarchy

MacLean explains that Virginia's white elite and the pro-corporate president of the University of Virginia, Colgate Darden, who had married into the DuPont family, found Buchanan's ideas to be spot on. In nurturing a new intelligentsia to commit to his values, Buchanan stated that he needed a "gravy train," and with backers like Charles Koch and conservative foundations like the Scaife Family Charitable Trusts, others hopped aboard. Money, Buchanan knew, can be a persuasive tool in academia. His circle of influence began to widen.

MacLean observes that the Virginia school, as Buchanan's brand of economic and political thinking is known, is a kind of cousin to the better-known, market-oriented Chicago and Austrian schools -- proponents of all three were members of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international neoliberal organization which included Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. But the Virginia school's focus and career missions were distinct. In an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), MacLean described Friedman and Buchanan as yin and yang: "Friedman was this genial, personable character who loved to be in the limelight and made a sunny case for the free market and the freedom to choose and so forth. Buchanan was the dark side of this: he thought, ok, fine, they can make a case for the free market, but everybody knows that free markets have externalities and other problems. So he wanted to keep people from believing that government could be the alternative to those problems."

The Virginia school also differs from other economic schools in a marked reliance on abstract theory rather than mathematics or empirical evidence. That a Nobel Prize was awarded in 1986 to an economist who so determinedly bucked the academic trends of his day was nothing short of stunning, MacLean observes. But, then, it was the peak of the Reagan era, an administration several Buchanan students joined.

Buchanan's school focused on public choice theory, later adding constitutional economics and the new field of law and economics to its core research and advocacy. The economist saw that his vision would never come to fruition by focusing on who rules. It was much better to focus on the rules themselves , and that required a "constitutional revolution."

MacLean describes how the economist developed a grand project to train operatives to staff institutions funded by like-minded tycoons, most significantly Charles Koch, who became interested in his work in the '70s and sought the economist's input in promoting "Austrian economics" in the U.S. and in advising the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Koch, whose mission was to save capitalists like himself from democracy, found the ultimate theoretical tool in the work of the southern economist. The historian writes that Koch preferred Buchanan to Milton Friedman and his "Chicago boys" because, she says, quoting a libertarian insider, they wanted "to make government work more efficiently when the true libertarian should be tearing it out at the root."

With Koch's money and enthusiasm, Buchanan's academic school evolved into something much bigger. By the 1990s, Koch realized that Buchanan's ideas -- transmitted through stealth and deliberate deception, as MacLean amply documents -- could help take government down through incremental assaults that the media would hardly notice. The tycoon knew that the project was extremely radical, even a "revolution" in governance, but he talked like a conservative to make his plans sound more palatable.

MacLean details how partnered with Koch, Buchanan's outpost at George Mason University was able to connect libertarian economists with right-wing political actors and supporters of corporations like Shell Oil, Exxon, Ford, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank, and General Motors. Together they could push economic ideas to public through media, promote new curricula for economics education, and court politicians in nearby Washington, D.C.

At the 1997 fiftieth anniversary of the Mont Pelerin Society, MacLean recounts that Buchanan and his associate Henry Manne, a founding theorist of libertarian economic approaches to law, focused on such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, expressing eagerness to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project.

The Oligarchic Revolution Unfolds

Buchanan's ideas began to have huge impact, especially in America and in Britain. In his home country, the economist was deeply involved efforts to cut taxes on the wealthy in 1970s and 1980s and he advised proponents of Reagan Revolution in their quest to unleash markets and posit government as the "problem" rather than the "solution." The Koch-funded Virginia school coached scholars, lawyers, politicians, and business people to apply stark right-wing perspectives on everything from deficits to taxes to school privatization. In Britain, Buchanan's work helped to inspire the public sector reforms of Margaret Thatcher and her political progeny.

To put the success into perspective, MacLean points to the fact that Henry Manne, whom Buchanan was instrumental in hiring, created legal programs for law professors and federal judges which could boast that by 1990 two of every five sitting federal judges had participated. "40 percent of the U.S. federal judiciary," writes MacLean, "had been treated to a Koch-backed curriculum."

MacLean illustrates that in South America, Buchanan was able to first truly set his ideas in motion by helping a bare-knuckles dictatorship ensure the permanence of much of the radical transformation it inflicted on a country that had been a beacon of social progress. The historian emphasizes that Buchanan's role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs. Supermajorities would be required for any changes of substance, leaving the public little recourse to challenge programs like the privatization of social security.

The dictator's human rights abuses and pillage of the country's resources did not seem to bother Buchanan, MacLean argues, so long as the wealthy got their way. "Despotism may be the only organizational alternative to the political structure that we observe," the economist had written in The Limits of Liberty . If you have been wondering about the end result of the Virginia school philosophy, well, the economist helpfully spelled it out.

A World of Slaves

Most Americans haven't seen what's coming.

MacLean notes that when the Kochs' control of the GOP kicked into high gear after the financial crisis of 2007-08, many were so stunned by the "shock-and-awe" tactics of shutting down government, destroying labor unions, and rolling back services that meet citizens' basic necessities that few realized that many leading the charge had been trained in economics at Virginia institutions, especially George Mason University. Wasn't it just a new, particularly vicious wave of partisan politics?

It wasn't. MacLean convincingly illustrates that it was something far more disturbing.

MacLean is not the only scholar to sound the alarm that the country is experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society. Peter Temin, former head of the MIT economics department, INET grantee, and author of The Vanishing Middle Class , as well as economist Gordon Lafer of the University of Oregon and author of The One Percent Solution , have provided eye-opening analyses of where America is headed and why. MacLean adds another dimension to this dystopian big picture, acquainting us with what has been overlooked in the capitalist right wing's playbook.

She observes, for example, that many liberals have missed the point of strategies like privatization. Efforts to "reform" public education and Social Security are not just about a preference for the private sector over the public sector, she argues. You can wrap your head around, even if you don't agree. Instead, MacLean contents, the goal of these strategies is to radically alter power relations, weakening pro-public forces and enhancing the lobbying power and commitment of the corporations that take over public services and resources, thus advancing the plans to dismantle democracy and make way for a return to oligarchy. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive.

MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers "to control the resultant popular anger." The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right's aggressive use of state power.

Could these right-wing capitalists allow private companies to fill prisons with helpless citizens -- or, more profitable still, right-less undocumented immigrants? They could, and have . Might they engineer a retirement crisis by moving Americans to inadequate 401(k)s? Done . Take away the rights of consumers and workers to bring grievances to court by making them sign forced arbitration agreements? Check . Gut public education to the point where ordinary people have such bleak prospects that they have no energy to fight back? Getting it done .

Would they even refuse children clean water? Actually, yes.

MacLean notes that in Flint, Michigan, Americans got a taste of what the emerging oligarchy will look like -- it tastes like poisoned water. There, the Koch-funded Mackinac Center pushed for legislation that would allow the governor to take control of communities facing emergency and put unelected managers in charge. In Flint, one such manager switched the city's water supply to a polluted river, but the Mackinac Center's lobbyists ensured that the law was fortified by protections against lawsuits that poisoned inhabitants might bring. Tens of thousands of children were exposed to lead, a substance known to cause serious health problems including brain damage.

Tyler Cowen has provided an economic justification for this kind of brutality, stating that where it is difficult to get clean water, private companies should take over and make people pay for it. "This includes giving them the right to cut off people who don't -- or can't -- pay their bills," the economist explains.

To many this sounds grotesquely inhumane, but it is a way of thinking that has deep roots in America. In Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative (2005), Buchanan considers the charge of heartlessness made against the kind of classic liberal that he took himself to be. MacLean interprets his discussion to mean that people who "failed to foresee and save money for their future needs" are to be treated, as Buchanan put it, "as subordinate members of the species, akin to animals who are dependent.'"

Do you have your education, health care, and retirement personally funded against all possible exigencies? Then that means you.

Buchanan was not a dystopian novelist. He was a Nobel Laureate whose sinister logic exerts vast influence over America's trajectory. It is no wonder that Cowen, on his popular blog Marginal Revolution, does not mention Buchanan on a list of underrated influential libertarian thinkers, though elsewhere on the blog, he expresses admiration for several of Buchanan's contributions and acknowledges that the southern economist "thought more consistently in terms of 'rules of the games' than perhaps any other economist."

The rules of the game are now clear.

Research like MacLean's provides hope that toxic ideas like Buchanan's may finally begin to face public scrutiny. Yet at this very moment, the Kochs' State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that connects corporate agents to conservative lawmakers to produce legislation, are involved in projects that the Trump-obsessed media hardly notices, like pumping money into state judicial races. Their aim is to stack the legal deck against Americans in ways that MacLean argues may have even bigger effects than Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling which unleashed unlimited corporate spending on American politics. The goal is to create a judiciary that will interpret the Constitution in favor of corporations and the wealthy in ways that Buchanan would have heartily approved.

"The United States is now at one of those historic forks in the road whose outcome will prove as fateful as those of the 1860s, the 1930s, and the 1960s," writes MacLean. "To value liberty for the wealthy minority above all else and enshrine it in the nation's governing rules, as Calhoun and Buchanan both called for and the Koch network is achieving, play by play, is to consent to an oligarchy in all but the outer husk of representative form."

Nobody can say we weren't warned.

[Apr 23, 2018] On Rand and Nietzsche

Notable quotes:
"... Ayn Rand's mythology also included a very strong emphasis on personal honor, high integrity and principles, and remaining true to one's commitments and promises (or how else can businesspeople trust one another without recourse to the use of force?). ..."
"... Her aestheticization of capitalist accumulation as the expression of a great and noble soul, as opposed to the embarrassing compulsion of the avaricious soul, is what gives her protagonists the illusion of something like heroic gravitas. Just my opinion. ..."
"... Yes, brain washed foot soldiers of Ayn Rand's mythology and Milton Friedman's theory, MBAs, have destroyed North America with their idiotic cost-minimizing, short-term profit-maximizing approach! ..."
"... Could you comment on Ayn Rand receiving social welfare payments and going on Medicare to help support her during her treatment for lung cancer near the end of her life? ..."
"... There are also many rumours flying about on the Internet that in the 1920s Ayn Rand was impressed by the serial killer William E Hickman (who kidnapped a banker's 12-year-old daughter, killed her and disembowelled and dismembered her) to the extent that he became a model for an early character in an unfinished novel. ..."
Apr 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Apr 23, 2018 12:14:34 PM | 109

ralphieboy @108--

More specifically, it's the ascendency of Ayn Rand's mythology, its brainwashed economist priests and their politico allies while dumbing down and hypnotizing a majority of the citizenry that are responsible for quite a bit of the current malaise. But as I noted above, the seed was bad from the outset.

Charles R , Apr 23, 2018 1:56:43 PM | 116
Ayn Rand's mythology also included a very strong emphasis on personal honor, high integrity and principles, and remaining true to one's commitments and promises (or how else can businesspeople trust one another without recourse to the use of force?).

Her villains are not merely weak in terms of their personal and economic influence but morally weak in their character, which is why they take over the government's monopoly on force (and also symbolically why they tend to be physically described as amorphous, soft, and fleshy).

I think it's fair to acknowledge this in what she was arguing in her works. Perhaps a number of us will agree that the problems we often observe don't result from specific government systems but rather the pervasive ease with which humans across cultures and societies indulge in power, corruption, and short-sighted justifications of long-standing vices. And where humans hold one another accountable and work to support one another's moral development towards justice, peace, and mutually reinforced respect, it might matter less and less how we shape our governments.

Not really a Rand apologist, though. I'm always looking for ways of understanding similarities across worldviews.

WJ , Apr 23, 2018 2:26:26 PM | 119
Charles R @116,

The mythology of your first paragraph is not Rand's, but Nietzsche's; or rather, it is first of all Nietzsche's and is secondarily Rand's interpretation of Nietzsche. The difference between Nietzsche's "supermen" or "overmen" and "last men"--as allegorized in Thus Spake Zarathustra, eg.--is taken over nearly exactly into Rand's imaginary social world.

The main difference here is that for Rand the industrialist-tycoon was the paradigmatic instance of the overman we were all to aspire to become, whereas for Nietzsche such a tycoon represents simply the tumorous magnification of bourgeois individualism.

This is why Rand tries to depict her heroes as much as "artists"--in the romantic and to some extent Nietzschean sense of TSZ--as capitalists.

Her aestheticization of capitalist accumulation as the expression of a great and noble soul, as opposed to the embarrassing compulsion of the avaricious soul, is what gives her protagonists the illusion of something like heroic gravitas. Just my opinion.

ex-SA , Apr 23, 2018 2:49:58 PM | 121
@ ralphieboy | Apr 23, 2018 11:36:50 AM | 108 & karlof1 | Apr 23, 2018 12:14:34 PM | 109

Yes, brain washed foot soldiers of Ayn Rand's mythology and Milton Friedman's theory, MBAs, have destroyed North America with their idiotic cost-minimizing, short-term profit-maximizing approach!

Charles R , Apr 23, 2018 4:03:19 PM | 122
WJ, maybe you're on to something, but I'll also point out that the Luciferian and Promethean allusions throughout Atlas Shrugged themselves point to an older pattern of thinking about divine usurpation than Nietzsche, where the New Creators surpass the old, buried gods by bringing metal and oil and fire together into new forms of life. When Hank and Dagney finally embrace and reveal their passion for one another, they are deep in the engine room of the locomotive, with all its pistons and steam and heat and steel.

My point, though, was just to say that it's helpful to remember that even Rand encouraged justice and honor and personal integrity. You might say that Rand, given her admiration for the One True Philosopher in her reckoning -- Aristotle -- thought moral character important as something objective...

S , Apr 23, 2018 6:34:58 PM | 135
@WJ

Glad that people here see through Alisa Rosenbaum's bs.

Regarding Turkey, what they mean is that Turkey may deny the use of its airstrips to NATO forces (reneging on its NATO commitments), hence the need for an aircraft carrier as a (partial) replacement.

Jen , Apr 23, 2018 6:38:52 PM | 136
Charles @ 122:

Could you comment on Ayn Rand receiving social welfare payments and going on Medicare to help support her during her treatment for lung cancer near the end of her life?

http://www.openculture.com/2016/12/when-ayn-rand-collected-social-security-medicare.html

There are also many rumours flying about on the Internet that in the 1920s Ayn Rand was impressed by the serial killer William E Hickman (who kidnapped a banker's 12-year-old daughter, killed her and disembowelled and dismembered her) to the extent that he became a model for an early character in an unfinished novel. Could you comment on those rumours?

Why would Rand choose a serial killer (of all people) as a model for a "lone wolf" character at odds with conventional society?

[Oct 30, 2017] New York Times Acknowledges US Global Empire by Sheldon Richman

Notable quotes:
"... The UN has 193 member states -- and the U.S. government has a military presence in at least 89 percent of them! The Times ..."
"... Sheldon Richman , author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited , keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society , and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com . He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute. ..."
Oct 30, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org

One big advantage the war party has is the public's ignorance about the activities of the far-flung American empire. Athough frustrating, that ignorance is easy to understand and has been explained countless times by writers in the public choice tradition. Most people are too busy with their lives, families, and communities to pay the close attention required to know that the empire exists and what it is up to. The opportunity cost of paying attention is huge, considering that the payoff is so small: even a well-informed individual could not take decisive action to rein in the out-of-control national security state. One vote means nothing, and being knowledgeable about the U.S. government's nefarious foreign policy is more likely to alienate friends and other people than influence them. Why give up time with family and friends just so one can be accused of "hating America"?

In light of this systemic rational ignorance, we must be grateful when a prominent institution acknowledges how much the government intervenes around the world. Such an acknowledgment came from the New York Times editorial board this week. The editorial drips with irony since the Times has done so much to gin up public support for America's imperial wars. (See, for example, its 2001-02 coverage of Iraq and its phantom WMD.) Stlll, the piece is noteworthy.

The Oct. 22 editorial began:

The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories.

That alone ought to come as a shock to nearly all Americans. The UN has 193 member states -- and the U.S. government has a military presence in at least 89 percent of them! The Times does not mention that the government also maintains at least 800 military bases and installations around the world. That's a big government we're talking about. And empires are bloody expensive.

Sheldon Richman , author of America's Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited , keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society , and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com . He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

[Oct 22, 2017] Libertarianism, the Alt-Right and AntiFa by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Notable quotes:
"... Speech delivered at the 12 th annual meeting of the ..."
"... in Bodrum, Turkey, on September 17, 2017 ..."
"... For A New Liberty. The Libertarian Manifesto, ..."
"... bêtes noires ..."
"... Students for Liberty ..."
"... Millennial Woes " ..."
"... Equality is bullshit. Hierarchy is essential. The races are different. The sexes are different. Morality matters and degeneracy is real. All cultures are not equal and we are not obligated to think they are. Man is a fallen creature and there is more to life than hollow materialism. Finally, the white race matters, and civilization is precious. This is the Alt-Right." ..."
"... "1) don't be belligerent; 2) don't presume hatred of liberty; 3) don't presume different goals; 4) don't presume ignorance; 5) don't regard anyone as an enemy." ..."
"... vis-à-vis ..."
"... vis-à-vis ..."
"... divide et impera ..."
"... except for the very first one ..."
"... : Stop mass immigration ..."
"... Stop attacking, killing and bombing people in foreign countries ..."
"... England First!, Germany First!, Italy First! ..."
"... Defund the ruling elites and its intellectual bodyguards ..."
"... End the Fed and all central banks. ..."
"... Abolish all " Affirmative Action " and "non-discrimination" laws and regulations ..."
"... Crush the "Anti-Fascist" Mob ..."
"... Crush the street criminals and gangs ..."
"... Get rid of all welfare parasites and bums ..."
"... Get the State out of education. ..."
"... Don't put your trust in politics or political parties ..."
"... Hans-Herman Hoppe ..."
"... , holds annual meetings of his ..."
"... Property and Freedom Society ..."
"... in the stunningly beautiful town of Bodrum in south west Turkey. ..."
Oct 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

October 20, 2017 7,200 Words 4 Comments Reply

Speech delivered at the 12 th annual meeting of the Property and Freedom Society in Bodrum, Turkey, on September 17, 2017

We know the fate of the term "liberal" and " liberalism ." It has been affixed to so many different people and different positions that it has lost all its meaning and become an empty, non-descript label. The same fate now increasingly also threatens the term " libertarian " and "libertarianism," which was invented to regain some of the conceptual precision lost with the demise of the former labels.

However, the history of modern libertarianism is still quite young. It began in Murray Rothbard's living room and found its first quasi-canonical expression in his For A New Liberty. The Libertarian Manifesto, published in 1973 .

And so I am still hopeful and not yet willing to give up on libertarianism as defined and explained by Rothbard with unrivaled conceptual clarity and precision, notwithstanding the meanwhile countless attempts of so-called libertarians to muddy the water and misappropriate the good name of libertarianism for something entirely different.

The theoretical, irrefutable core of the libertarian doctrine is simple and straightforward and I have explained it already repeatedly at this place. If there were no scarcity in the world, human conflicts, or more precisely physical clashes, would be impossible. Interpersonal conflicts are always conflicts concerning scarce things.

I want to do A with a given thing and you want to do B with the same thing. Because of such conflicts -- and because we are able to communicate and argue with each other -- we seek out norms of behavior with the purpose of avoiding these conflicts. The purpose of norms is conflict-avoidance. If we did not want to avoid conflicts, the search for norms of conduct would be senseless. We would simply fight and struggle.

Absent a perfect harmony of all interests, conflicts regarding scarce resources can only be avoided if all scarce resources are assigned as private, exclusive property to some specified individual or group of individuals. Only then can I act independently, with my own things, from you, with your own things, without you and me clashing.

But who owns what scarce resource as his private property and who does not?

First: Each person owns his physical body that only he and no one else controls directly . Second: as for scarce resources that can be controlled only indirectly (that must be appropriated with our own nature-given, i.e., un-appropriated, body), exclusive control (property) is acquired by and assigned to that person, who appropriated the resource in question first or who acquired it through voluntary (conflict-free) exchange from its previous owner.

For only the first appropriator of a resource (and all later owners connected to him through a chain of voluntary exchanges) can possibly acquire and gain control over it without conflict, i.e., peacefully. Otherwise, if exclusive control is assigned instead to latecomers , conflict is not avoided but contrary to the very purpose of norms made unavoidable and permanent.

Before this audience, I do not need to go into greater detail except to add this: If you want to live in peace with other people and avoid all physical clashes and, if such clashes do occur, seek to resolve them peacefully, then you must be an anarchist or more precisely a private property anarchist, an anarcho-capitalist or a proponent of a private law society.

And by implication, then, and again without much further ado: Someone, anyone, is not a libertarian or merely a fake libertarian who affirms and advocates one or more of the following:

the necessity of a State, any State, of "public" (State) property and of taxes in order to live in peace; the existence and justifiability of any so-called "human rights" or " civil rights" other than private property rights, such as "women's rights," " gay rights ," "minority rights," the "right" not to be discriminated against, the "right" to free and unrestricted immigration, the "right" to a guaranteed minimum income or to free health care, or the "right" to be free of unpleasant speech and thought.

The proponents of any of this may call themselves whatever they want, and as libertarians we may well cooperate with them, insofar as such a cooperation offers the promise of bringing us closer to our ultimate goal, but they are not libertarians or only fake libertarians.

Now, "a funny thing happened on the way to the forum." While Rothbard and I, following in his footsteps, never went astray from these theoretically-derived core beliefs, not just non-libertarians but in particular also fake libertarians, i.e., people claiming (falsely) to be libertarians, and even many possibly honest yet dim-witted libertarians have selected and vilified us as their favorite bêtes noires and incarnates of evil.

Rothbard, the spiritus rector of modern libertarianism, has been branded by this so-called "anti-fascist" crowd as a reactionary, a racist, a sexist, an authoritarian, an elitist, a xenophobe, a fascist and, to top it all off, a self-hating Jewish Nazi. And I have inherited all of these honorary titles, plus a few more (except for the Jewish stuff).

So what funny thing has happened here?

Trying to develop an answer to this question brings me to the topic of this speech: the relationship between libertarianism and the Alternative Right or "Alt-Right," which has gained national and international notoriety after Hillary Clinton , during the last presidential election campaign, identified it as one of the inspirational sources behind the "basket of deplorables" rooting for Trump (and whose leadership, to its credit, after Trump's election victory, quickly broke with Trump when he turned out to be just another presidential warmonger).

paleo-conservative movement that came to prominence in the early 1990s, with columnist and best-selling author Patrick Buchanan as its best-known representative. It went somewhat dormant by the late 1990s, and it has recently, in light of the steadily growing damage done to America and its reputation by the successive Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama administrations, reemerged more vigorous than before under the new label of the Alt-Right.

Many of the leading lights associated with the Alt-Right have appeared here at our meetings in the course of the years . Paul Gottfried, who first coined the term, Peter Brimelow , Richard Lynn , Jared Taylor , John Derbyshire , Steve Sailer and Richard Spencer . As well , Sean Gabb's name and mine are regularly mentioned in connection with the Alt-Right, and my work has been linked also with the closely related neo-reactionary movement inspired by Curtis Yarvin ( aka Mencius Moldbug ) and his now defunct blog Unqualified Reservations . In sum, these personal relations and associations have earned me several honorable mentions by America's most famous smear-and-defamation league, the SPLC ( aka Soviet Poverty Lie Center).

Now: How about the relationship between libertarianism and the Alt-Right and my reasons for inviting leading representatives of the Alt-Right to meetings with libertarians?

Libertarians are united by the irrefutable theoretical core beliefs mentioned at the outset. They are clear about the goal that they want to achieve. But the libertarian doctrine does not imply much if anything concerning these questions:

First, how to maintain a libertarian order once achieved; Second, how to attain a libertarian order from a non-libertarian starting point, which requires a) that one must correctly describe this starting point and b) correctly identify the obstacles posed in the way of one's libertarian ends by this very starting point.

To answer these questions, in addition to theory, you also need some knowledge of human psychology and sociology or at least a modicum of common sense.

Yet many libertarians and fake libertarians are plain ignorant of human psychology and sociology or even devoid of any common sense. They blindly accept, against all empirical evidence, an egalitarian, blank-slate view of human nature, of all people and all societies and cultures being essentially equal and interchangeable.

While much of contemporary libertarianism can be characterized, then, as theory and theorists without psychology and sociology, much or even most of the Alt-Right can be described, in contrast, as psychology and sociology without theory.

Alt-Righters are not united by a commonly held theory, and there exists nothing even faintly resembling a canonical text defining its meaning. Rather, the Alt-Right is essentially united in its description of the contemporary world, and in particular the US and the so-called Western World, and the identification and diagnosis of its social pathologies.

In fact, it has been correctly noted that the Alt-Right is far more united by what it is against than what it is for. It is against, and indeed it hates with a passion, the elites in control of the State , the MSM and academia.

Why? Because they all promote social degeneracy and pathology. Thus, they promote, and the Alt-Right vigorously opposes, egalitarianism, Affirmative Action ( aka " non-discrimination "), multiculturalism , and "free" mass immigration as a means of bringing multiculturalism about.

Cultural Marxism o r Gramsciism and all "Political Correctness" and, strategically wise, it shrugs off, without any apology whatsoever, all accusations of being racist , sexist, elitist, supremacist, homophobe, xenophobe, etc., etc.

And the Alt-Right also laughs off as hopelessly naïve the programmatic motto of so-called libertarians such as the Students for Liberty (which I have termed the "Stupids for Liberty" and my young German friend Andre Lichtschlag as "Liberallala-Libertarians") of "Peace, Love, and Liberty," appropriately translated into German by Lichtschlag as "Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen."

In stark contrast to this, Alt-Righters insist that life is also about strife, hate, struggle and fight, not just between individuals but also among various groups of people acting in concert. " Millennial Woes " (Colin Robertson) has thus aptly summarized the Alt-Right:

" Equality is bullshit. Hierarchy is essential. The races are different. The sexes are different. Morality matters and degeneracy is real. All cultures are not equal and we are not obligated to think they are. Man is a fallen creature and there is more to life than hollow materialism. Finally, the white race matters, and civilization is precious. This is the Alt-Right."

Absent any unifying theory, however, there is far less agreement among the Alt-Right about the goal that it ultimately wants to achieve.

Many of its leading lights have distinctly libertarian leanings, most notably those that have come here (which, of course, was the reason for having invited them here), even if they are not 100%-ers and would not identify themselves as such. All Alt-Righters that have appeared here, for instance, have been familiar with Rothbard and his work, all the while the most recent presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party had never even heard of Rothbard's name. And all of them, to the best of my knowledge, were outspoken supporters of Ron Paul during his primary campaign for the Republican Party's nomination as presidential candidate, all the while many self-proclaimed libertarians attacked and tried to vilify Ron Paul for his supposedly (you already know what's coming by now) "racist" views.

However, several of the Alt-Right's leaders and many of its rank and file followers have also endorsed views incompatible with libertarianism. As Buchanan before and Trump now, they are adamant about complementing a policy of restrictive, highly selective and discriminating immigration (which is entirely compatible with libertarianism and its desideratum of freedom of association and opposition to forced integration) with a strident policy of restricted trade, economic protectionism and protective tariffs -- which is antithetical to libertarianism and inimical to human prosperity.

(Let me hasten to add here that, despite my misgivings about his "economics," I still consider Pat Buchanan a great man.)

Others strayed even further afield, such as Richard Spencer, who first popularized the term Alt-Right. In the meantime, owing to several recent publicity stunts, which have gained him some degree of notoriety in the US, Spencer has laid claim to the rank of the maximum leader of a supposedly mighty unified movement (an endeavor, by the way, that has been ridiculed by Taki Theodoracopulos, a veteran champion of the paleo-conservative-turned-Alt-Right movement and Spencer's former employer).

When Spencer appeared here, several years ago, he still exhibited strong libertarian leanings. Unfortunately, however, this has changed and Spencer now denounces , without any qualification whatsoever, all libertarians and everything libertarian and has gone so far as to even put up with socialism, as long as it is socialism of and for only white people. What horrifying disappointment!

Given the lack of any theoretical foundation, this split of the Alt-Right movement into rival factions can hardly be considered a surprise.

Yet this fact should not mislead one to dismiss it, because the Alt-Right has brought out many insights that are of central importance in approaching an answer to the two previously mentioned questions unanswered by libertarian theory: of how to maintain a libertarian social order; and how to get to such an order from the current, decidedly un-libertarian status quo.

The Alt-Right did not discover these insights. They had been established long before and indeed, in large parts they are no more than common sense. But in recent times such insights have been buried under mountains of egalitarian, Leftist propaganda and the Alt-Right must be credited for having brought them back to light.

To illustrate the importance of such insights, let me take the first unanswered question first.

Many libertarians hold the view that all that is needed to maintain a libertarian social order is the strict enforcement of the non-aggression principle (NAP) . Otherwise, as long as one abstains from aggression, according to their view, the principle of "live and let live" should hold.

Yet surely, while this "live and let live" sounds appealing to adolescents in rebellion against parental authority and all social convention and control (and many youngsters have been initially attracted to libertarianism believing that this "live and let live" is the essence of libertarianism), and while the principle does indeed hold and apply for people living far apart and dealing with each other only indirectly and from afar, it does not hold and apply, or rather it is insufficient , when it comes to people living in close proximity to each other, as neighbors and cohabitants of the same community.

A simple example suffices to make the point. Assume a new next-door neighbor. This neighbor does not aggress against you or your property in any way, but he is a "bad" neighbor. He is littering on his own neighboring property, turning it into a garbage heap; in the open , for you to see, he engages in ritual animal slaughter, he turns his house into a " Freudenhaus ," a bordello , with clients coming and going all day and all night long; he never offers a helping hand and never keeps any promise that he has made; or he cannot or else he refuses to speak to you in your own language. Etc., etc..

Your life is turned into a nightmare. Yet you may not use violence against him, because he has not aggressed against you. What can you do?

You can shun and ostracize him. But your neighbor does not care, and in any case you alone thus "punishing" him makes little if any difference to him. You have to have the communal respect and authority, or you must turn to someone who does, to persuade and convince everyone or at least most of the members of your community to do likewise and make the bad neighbor a social outcast, so as to exert enough pressure on him to sell his property and leave.

(So much for the libertarians who, in addition to their "live and let live" ideal also hail the motto "respect no authority!")

The lesson? The peaceful cohabitation of neighbors and of people in regular direct contact with each other on some territory -- a tranquil, convivial social order -- requires also a commonality of culture: of language, religion, custom and convention. There can be peaceful co-existence of different cultures on distant, physically separated territories, but multi-culturalism, cultural heterogeneity, cannot exist in one and the same place and territory without leading to diminishing social trust, increased tension, and ultimately the call for a "strong man" and the destruction of anything resembling a libertarian social order.

And moreover: Just as a libertarian order must always be on guard against "bad" (even if non-aggressive) neighbors by means of social ostracism, i.e., by a common "you are not welcome here" culture, so, and indeed even more vigilantly so, must it be guarded against neighbors who openly advocate communism, socialism, syndicalism or democracy in any shape or form. They, in thereby posing an open threat to all private property and property owners, must not only be shunned, but they must, to use a by now somewhat famous Hoppe-meme , be "physically removed," if need be by violence, and forced to leave for other pastures.

Not to do so inevitably leads to -- well, communism, socialism, syndicalism or democracy and hence, the very opposite of a libertarian social order.

With these "Rightist" or as I would say, plain commonsensical insights in mind I turn now to the more challenging question of how to move from here, the status quo , to there.

And for this it might be instructive to first briefly consider the answer given by the liberallala, the peace-love-and-liberty, the Friede-Freude-Eierkuchen or the capitalism-is-love libertarians. It reveals the same fundamental egalitarianism, if in a slightly different form, as that exhibited also by the live-and-let-live libertarians.

These, as I have just tried to show, define what we may call the "bad neighbor problem" -- and what is merely a short-hand for the general problem posed by the co-existence of distinctly different, alien, mutually disturbing, annoying, strange or hostile cultures -- simply out of existence. And indeed, if you assume, against all empirical evidence, that all people, everywhere, are essentially the same, then, by definition, no such thing as a "bad neighbor problem" exists.

The same egalitarian, or as the liberallala-libertarians themselves prefer call it, "humanitarian" spirit also comes to bear in their answer to the question of a libertarian strategy . In a nutshell, their advice is this: be nice and talk to everyone -- and then, in the long run, the better libertarian arguments will win out.

To illustrate, take my former-friend-turned-foe Jeffrey Tucker's five "Don'ts When Talking Liberty." They are "1) don't be belligerent; 2) don't presume hatred of liberty; 3) don't presume different goals; 4) don't presume ignorance; 5) don't regard anyone as an enemy."

Now, quite apart from the fact that Tucker does not seem to follow his own advice in his belligerent condemnation of the entire Alt-Right as liberty-hating fascists , I find his exhortations truly astounding. They may be good advice vis-à-vis people just sprung up from nowhere, without any traceable history whatsoever, but vis-à-vis real people with a recorded history they strike me as hopelessly naïve, unrealistic, and outright counterproductive in the pursuit of libertarian ends.

For I (and I assume everyone else here) know of and have met many people in my life who are ignorant, who do have different, un-libertarian goals, and who do hate liberty as understood by libertarians -- and why in the world should I not regard such people as fools or enemies? And why should I not hate and not be belligerent vis-a-vis my enemies?

As a libertarian strategy, then, Tucker's advice must be considered simply a bad joke. But surely it is good advice if one seeks entry into the State as some sort of "libertarian" advisor, and this may well explain the enthusiasm with which Tucker's "humanitarian" libertarianism has been embraced by the entire liberallala-libertarian crowd.

Outside egalitarian phantasy lands, however, in the real world, libertarians must above all be realistic and recognize from the outset, as the Alt-Right does, the inequality not just of individuals but also of different cultures as an ineradicable datum of the human existence.

We must further recognize that there exist plenty of enemies of liberty as defined by libertarianism and that they, not we, are in charge of worldly affairs; that in many parts of the contemporary world their control of the populace is so complete that the ideas of liberty and of a libertarian social order are practically unheard of or considered unthinkable (except as some idle intellectual play or mental gymnastics by a few "exotic" individuals); and that it is essentially only in the West, in the countries of Western and Central Europe and the lands settled by its people, that the idea of liberty is so deeply rooted that these enemies still can be openly challenged.

And confining our strategic considerations here only to the West, then, we can identify, pretty much as the Alt-Right has effectively done, these actors and agencies as our principal enemies.

They are, first and foremost,

the ruling elites in control of the State apparatus and in particular the "Deep State" or the so-called "Cathedral" of the military, the secret services, the central banks and the supreme courts.

As well, they include the leaders of the military-industrial complex, i.e., of nominally private firms that owe their very existence to the State as the exclusive or dominant buyer of their products, and they also include the leaders of the big commercial banks, which owe their privilege of creating money and credit out of thin air to the existence of the central bank and its role as a "lender of last resort."

They together, then, State, Big-Business and Big-Banking, form an extremely powerful even if tiny "mutual admiration society," jointly ripping off the huge mass of tax-payers and living it up big time at their expense.

The second, much larger group of enemies:

the intellectuals, educators and " educrats ," from the highest levels of academia down to the level of elementary schools and kindergartens. Funded almost exclusively, whether directly or indirectly, by the State, they, in their overwhelming majority, have become the soft tools and willing executioners in the hands of the ruling elite and its designs for absolute power and total control.

And thirdly:

the journalists of the MSM, as the docile products of the system of "public education," and the craven recipients and popularizers of government "information."

Equally important in the development of a libertarian strategy then is the immediately following next question: who are the victims ?

The standard libertarian answer to this is: the tax- payers as opposed to the tax- consumers . Yet while this is essentially correct, it is at best only part of the answer, and libertarians could learn something in this respect from the Alt-Right: because apart from the narrowly economic aspect there is also a wider cultural aspect that must be taken into account in identifying the victims.

In order to expand and increase its power, the ruling elites have been conducting for many decades what Pat Buchanan has identified as a systematic "culture war," aimed at a trans-valuation of all values and the destruction of all natural, or if you will "organic" social bonds and institutions such as families, communities, ethnic groups and genealogically related nations, so as to create an increasingly atomized populace, whose only shared characteristic and unifying bond is its common existential dependency on the State.

The first step in this direction, taken already half a century or even longer ago, was the introduction of "public welfare" and "social security." Thereby, the underclass and the elderly were turned into State-dependents and the value and importance of family and community was correspondingly diminished and weakened.

More recently, further-reaching steps in this direction have proliferated. A new "victimology" has been proclaimed and promoted. Women, and in particular single mothers, Blacks, Browns, Latinos, homosexuals, lesbians, bi- and transsexuals have been awarded "victim" status and accorded legal privileges through non-discrimination o r affirmative action decrees.

As well, most recently such privileges have been expanded also to foreign-national immigrants, whether legal or illegal, insofar as they fall into one of the just mentioned categories or are members of non-Christian religions such as Islam, for instance.

The result? Not only has the earlier mentioned "bad neighbor problem" not been avoided or solved, but systematically promoted and intensified instead. Cultural homogeneity has been destroyed, and the freedom of association, and the voluntary physical segregation and separation of different people, communities, cultures and traditions has been replaced by an all-pervasive system of forced social integration.

Moreover, each mentioned "victim" group has thus been pitted against every other, and all of them have been pitted against white, heterosexual, Christian males and in particular those married and with children as the only remaining, legally un-protected group of alleged "victimizers."

Hence, as the result of the trans-valuation of all values promoted by the ruling elites, the world has been turned upside down. The institution of a family household with father, mother and their children that has formed the basis of Western civilization, as the freest, most industrious, ingenious and all-around accomplished civilization known to mankind, i.e., the very institution and people that has done most good in human history, has been officially stigmatized and vilified as the source of all social ills and made the most heavily disadvantaged, even persecuted group by the enemy elites' relentless policy of divide et impera .

Accordingly, given the present constellation of affairs, then, any promising libertarian strategy must, very much as the Alt-Right has recognized, first and foremost be tailored and addressed to this group of the most severely victimized people.

White married Christian couples with children, in particular if they belong also to the class of tax- payers (rather than tax-consumers), and everyone most closely resembling or aspiring to this standard form of social order and organization can be realistically expected to be the most receptive audience of the libertarian message (whereas the least support should be expected to come from the legally most "protected" groups such as, for instance, single Black Muslim mothers on welfare).

Given this constellation of perpetrator-enemies vs. victims in the contemporary West, then, I can now come to the final task of trying to outline a realistic libertarian strategy for change.

The specifics of which will have to be prefaced by two general considerations.

For one,

given that the class of intellectuals from the tops of academia to the opinion-molding journalists in the MSM are funded by and firmly tied into the ruling system, i.e., that they are a part of the problem , they also should not be expected to play a major if any role in the problem's solution .

Accordingly, the so-called Hayekian strategy for social change, that envisions the spread of correct libertarian ideas starting at the top, with the leading philosophers, and then trickling down from there to journalists and finally to the great unwashed masses, must be considered fundamentally unrealistic.

Instead, any realistic libertarian strategy for change must be a populist strategy. That is, libertarians must short-circuit the dominant intellectual elites and address the masses directly to arouse their indignation and contempt for the ruling elites.

And secondly,

While the main addressees of a populist libertarian message must be indeed the just mentioned groups of dispossessed and disenfranchised native whites, I believe it to be a serious strategic error to make "whiteness" the exclusive criterion on which to base one's strategic decisions, as some strands of the Alt-Right have suggested to do.

After all, it is above all white men that make up the ruling elite and that have foisted the current mess upon us.

True enough, the various protected "minorities" mentioned before take full advantage of the legal privileges they have been accorded and they have become increasingly emboldened to ask for ever more "protection," but none of them and all of them together did not and do not possess the intellectual prowess that would have made this outcome possible, if it were not for the instrumental help that they received and are receiving from white men.

Now, taking our cues from the Buchanan-, the Paul- and the Trump-movement, on to the specifics of a populist strategy for libertarian change, in no specific order except for the very first one , which has currently assumed the greatest urgency in the public mind.

One : Stop mass immigration . The waves of immigrants currently flooding the Western world have burdened it with hordes of welfare parasites, brought in terrorists , increased crime, led to the proliferation of no-go areas and resulted in countless "bad neighbors" who, based on their alien upbringing, culture and traditions, lack any understanding and appreciation of liberty and are bound to become mindless future supporters of welfare-statism.

No one is against immigration and immigrants per se . But immigration must be by invitation only. All immigrants must be productive people and hence, be barred from all domestic welfare payments.

To ensure this, they or their inviting party must place a bond with the community in which they are to settle, and which is to be forfeited and lead to the immigrant's deportation should he ever become a public burden. As well, every immigrant, inviting party or employer should not only pay for the immigrant's upkeep or salary, but must also pay the residential community for the additional wear and tear of its public facilities associated with the immigrant's presence, so as to avoid the socialization of any and all costs incurred with his settlement.

Moreover, even before his admission, every potential immigrant invitee must be carefully screened and tested not only for his productivity but also for cultural affinity (or "good neighborliness") -- with the empirically predictable result of mostly, but by no means exclusively, western-white immigrant-candidates.

And any known communist or socialist, of any color, denomination or country of origin, must be barred from permanent settlement -- unless, that is, the community where the potential immigrant wants to settle officially sanctions the looting of its residents' property by new, foreign arrivals, which is not very likely to say the least, even within already-existing "commie" communes.

(Brief message to all Open-Border and liberallala libertarians , who will surely label this, you guessed it, " fascist ": In a fully privatized libertarian order there exists no such thing as a right to free immigration. Private property implies borders and the owner's right to exclude at will. And "public property" has borders as well. It is not unowned. It is the property of domestic tax-payers and most definitely not the property of foreigners.

(And while it is true that the State is a criminal organization and that to entrust it with the task of border control will inevitably result in numerous injustices to both domestic residents and foreigners, it is also true that the State does something also when it decides not to do anything about border control and that, under the present circumstances, doing nothing at all in this regard will lead to even more and much graver injustices, in particular to the domestic citizenry.)

Two: Stop attacking, killing and bombing people in foreign countries . A main cause, even if by no means the only one, for the current invasion of Western countries by hordes of alien immigrants, are the wars initiated and conducted in the Middle East and elsewhere by the US ruling elites and their subordinate Western puppet-elites. As well, the by now seemingly 'normal' and ubiquitous terrorist attacks in the name of Islam across the Western world are in large measure the "blow-back" of these wars and the ensuing chaos throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa.

There should be no hesitation to call these Western rulers what they are: murderers or accessories to mass murder. We must demand, and cry out loud instead for a foreign policy of strict non-interventionism. Withdraw from all international and supranational organizations such as the UN , NATO and the EU that integrate one country into the domestic affairs of another. Stop all government-to-government aid and prohibit all weapon sales to foreign States.

Let it be America First!, England First!, Germany First!, Italy First! , and so on, i.e., each country trading with one another and no one interfering in anyone else's domestic affairs.

Three: Defund the ruling elites and its intellectual bodyguards . Expose and widely publicize the lavish salaries, perks, pensions, side-deals, bribes and hush monies received by the ruling elites: by the higher-ups in government and governmental bureaucracies, of supreme courts, central banks, secret services and spy agencies, by politicians, parliamentarians, party leaders, political advisors and consultants, by crony-capitalists, "public educrats," university presidents, provosts and academic "stars." Drive home the point that all their shining glory and luxury is funded by money extorted from tax-payers, and consequently urge that any and all taxes be slashed: income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, inheritance taxes, etc., etc..

Four: End the Fed and all central banks. The second source of funding for the ruling elites, besides the money extorted from the public in the form of taxes, comes from the central banks. Central banks are allowed to create paper money out of thin air. This reduces the purchasing power of money and destroys the savings of average people. It does not and cannot make society as a whole richer, but it redistributes income and wealth within society. The earliest receivers of the newly created money, i.e., the ruling elites, are thereby made richer and the later and latest receivers, i.e., the average citizen, are made poorer.

The central bank's manipulation of interest rates is the cause of boom-bust cycles. The central bank permits the accumulation of ever greater "public debt" that is shifted as a burden onto unknown future taxpayers or is simply inflated away. And as the facilitator of public debt, the central banks are also the facilitators of wars.

This monstrosity must end and be replaced by a system of free, competitive banking built on the foundation of a genuine commodity money such as gold or silver.

Five: Abolish all " Affirmative Action " and "non-discrimination" laws and regulations . All such edicts are blatant violations of the principle of the equality before the law that, at least in the West, is intuitively sensed and recognized as a fundamental principle of justice.

As private property owners, people must be free to associate or disassociate with others: to include or exclude, to integrate or segregate, to join or separate, to unify and incorporate or to disunite, exit and secede.

Close all university departments for Black-, Latino-, Women-, Gender-, Queer-Studies, etc., etc., as incompatible with science and dismiss its faculties as intellectual imposters or scoundrels. As well, demand that all Affirmative Action commissars, Diversity and Human Resources officers, from universities on down to schools and kindergartens, be thrown out onto the street and be forced to learn some useful trade.

Six: Crush the "Anti-Fascist" Mob . The trans-valuation of all values throughout the West, the invention of ever more "victim groups," the spread of "Affirmative Action" programs and the relentless promotion of Political Correctness, has led to the rise of an "Anti-Fascist" mob. Tacitly supported and indirectly funded by the ruling elites, this self-described mob of "Social Justice Warriors" has taken upon itself the task of escalating the fight against "white privilege" through deliberate acts of terror directed against anyone and anything deemed "racist," "right-wing," "fascist," "reactionary," "incorrigible" or "unreconstructed."

Such "enemies of progress" are physically assaulted by the "anti-fascist" mob, their cars are burnt down, their properties vandalized, and their employers threatened to dismiss them and ruin their careers -- all the while the police are ordered by the powers that be to "stand down" and not to investigate the crimes committed or prosecute and punish the criminals.

In view of this outrage, public anger must be aroused and there must be clamoring, far and wide, for the police to be unleashed and this mob be beaten into submission.

(Query for liberallala-libertarians and the Stupids for Liberty, who are sure to object to this demand on the ground that the police asked to crush the "anti-fascist" mob are State -police: Do you also object, on the same grounds, that the police arrest murderers or rapists? Aren't these legitimate tasks performed also in any libertarian order by private police?

(And if the police are not to do anything about this mob, isn't it o.k. then that the target of its attacks, the "racist Right," should take the task upon itself of giving the "social justice warriors" a bloody nose?)

Seven: Crush the street criminals and gangs . In dispensing with the principle of the equality before the law and awarding all sorts of group privileges (except to the one group of married white Christian men and their families) the ruling elites have also dispensed with the principle of equal punishment for equal crime. Some State-favored groups are handed more lenient punishment for the same crime than others, and some especially favored groups are simply let run wild and go practically unpunished at all, thus actually and effectively promoting crime.

As well, no-go areas have been permitted to develop where any effort at law-enforcement has essentially ceased to exist and where violent thugs and street gangs have taken over. In view of this, public furor must be provoked and it be unmistakably demanded that the police crack-down quick and hard on any robber, mugger, rapist and murderer, and ruthlessly clear all current no-go areas of violent gang-rule.

Needless to say that this policy should be colorblind, but if it happens to be, as it in fact does, that most street criminals or gang members are young Black or Latino males or, in Europe, young immigrant males from Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans or Eastern Europe, then so be it and such human specimen then should be the ones that most prominently get their noses bloodied.

And needless to say also that in order to defend against crime, whether ordinary street crime or acts of terrorism, all prohibitions against the ownership of guns by upstanding citizens should be abolished.

Eight: Get rid of all welfare parasites and bums . To cement their own position, the Ruling Class has put the underclass on the dole and thus made it a most reliable source of public support.

Allegedly to help people rise and move up from the underclass to become self-supporting actors, the real -- and actually intended -- effect of the State's so-called "social policy" is the exact opposite. It has rendered a person's underclass status more permanent and made the underclass steadily grow (and with this also the number of tax-funded social workers and therapists assigned to "help and assist" it).

For, in accordance with inexorable economic law, every subsidy awarded on account of some alleged need or deficiency produces more, not less, of the problem that it is supposed to alleviate or eliminate.

Thus, the root cause of a person's underclass status -- his low impulse control and high time preference, i.e., his uncontrolled desire for immediate gratification -- and the various attendant manifestations of this cause, such as unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, divorce, female headed households, out-of-wedlock births, rotating shack-up male companions, child abuse, negligence and petty crime, is and are not alleviated or eliminated but systematically strengthened and promoted.

Instead of continuing and expanding this increasingly unsightly social disaster, then, it should be abolished and be loudly demanded that one take heed of the biblical exhortation that he who can, but will not work, also shall not eat, and that he who truly cannot work, due to severe mental or physical deficiencies, be taken care of by family, community and voluntary charity.

Nine: Get the State out of education. Most, if not all, social pathologies plaguing the contemporary West have their common root in the institution of "public education."

When the first steps were taken, more than two centuries ago, in Prussia, to supplement and ultimately replace a formerly completely private system of education with a universal system of compulsory "public education," the time spent in State-run schools did in most cases not exceed four years. Today, throughout the entire Western world, the time spent in institutions of "public education" is, at a minimum, around ten years, and in many cases, and increasingly so, twenty or even thirty years.

That is, a large or even the largest part of time during the most formative period in a person's life is spent in State-funded and State-supervised institutions, whose primary purpose from the very beginning it was not to raise an enlightened public, but to train "good soldiers" and "good public servants:" not independent and mature or "mündige Bürger," but subordinate and servile "Staats-Bürger."

The result? The indoctrination has worked: the longer the time a person has spent within the system of public education, the more he is committed to Leftist-egalitarian ideas and has swallowed and wholeheartedly internalized the official doctrine and agenda of Political Correctness.

Indeed, in particular among social science teachers and professors, people not counting themselves as part of the Left have practically ceased to exist.

Consequently, it must be demanded that the control of schools and universities be wrest away from the central State and, in a first step, be returned to regional or better still local and locally funded authorities, and ultimately be completely privatized, so as to replace a system of compulsory uniformity and conformity with a system of decentralized education that reflects the natural variation, multiplicity and diversity of human talents and interests.

Ten: Don't put your trust in politics or political parties . Just as academia and the academic world cannot be expected to play any significant role in a libertarian strategy for social change, so with politics and political parties -- after all, it is the ultimate goal of libertarianism to put an end to all politics, and to subject all interpersonal relations and conflicts to private law and civil law procedures.

To be sure, under present, all-pervasively politicized conditions an involvement in politics and party politics cannot be entirely avoided. However, in any such involvement one must be keenly aware of and guard against the corrupting influence of power and the lure of money and perks that comes with it.

And to minimize this risk and temptation, it is advisable to concentrate one's efforts on the level of regional and local rather than national politics, and there to promote a radical agenda of decentralization: of nullification and peaceful separation, segregation and secession.

Most importantly, however, we must take heed of Ludwig von Mises' life-motto: Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it.

That is, we must speak out whenever and wherever, whether in formal or informal gatherings, against anyone affronting us with by now only all-too-familiar "Politically Correct" drivel and Left-egalitarian balderdash and unmistakably say: "No. Hell no. You must be kidding."

In the meantime, given the almost complete mind-control exercised by the ruling elites, academia and the MSM, it already requires a good portion of courage to do so.

But if we are not brave enough to do so now and thus set an example for others to follow, matters will become increasingly worse and more dangerous in the future, and we, Western civilization and the Western ideas of freedom and liberty will be wiped out and vanish.

Economist Hans-Herman Hoppe , [ Email him ] author of Democracy: The God that Failed , holds annual meetings of his Property and Freedom Society in the stunningly beautiful town of Bodrum in south west Turkey. (Republished from VDare.com by permission of author or representative) Category: Ideology Tags: Alt Right , Antifa , Libertarianism , VDare Archives Hide 4 Comments Leave a Comment 4 Comments to "Libertarianism, the Alt-Right and AntiFa" Commenters to Ignore Commenters to ignore (one per line)

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FKA Max , Website October 21, 2017 at 3:52 am GMT

Good stuff!

I don't agree with everything, but generally good stuff.

Watched it a few days ago, after it was recommended here on the Unz Review by a "hardcore libertarian": http://www.unz.com/announcement/open-thread-software-bugs/#comment-2048136

In case the "hardcore libertarian" reads this comment, what do you think about this?

Libertarianism, which boils down to the non-aggression principle (NAP: The initiation of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property is inherently illegitimate) is derived from the Catholic Scholastics, most notably the School of Salamanca, who based their proto-Austrian economic theory on Natural Rights derived from Scripture and Catholic theology. Thinkers like Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, and Francisco Suárez originated the modern concepts of libertarianism based on Catholic moral teaching and St. Thomas Aquinas's theory of natural law, which stipulates the principle, "one should do harm to no man" (Summa Theologea I-II Q. 95), a progression from the Golden Rule, professed in the Bible: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Lk 6:31

http://thelibertariancatholic.com/summa-of-the-libertarian-catholic/

The Mont Pelerin Society was created on 10 April 1947 at a conference organized by Friedrich Hayek. Originally, it was to be named the Acton-Tocqueville Society. After Frank Knight protested against naming the group after two "Roman Catholic aristocrats" and Ludwig von Mises expressed concern that the mistakes made by Acton and Tocqueville would be connected with the society, the decision was made to name it after Mont Pèlerin, the Swiss resort where it convened.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Pelerin_Society#Name

Dr. Otto von Habsburg on Religion,Politics and Education

FKA Max , Website October 21, 2017 at 6:20 am GMT
@FKA Max

5. The Wealth of Nations: Ideology, Religion, Biology, and Environment

https://mises.org/library/5-wealth-nations-ideology-religion-biology-and-environment

The Catholic Church is anti-democratic, individualistic and capable of salvation. Slavery became seen as incompatible with Christian views. Christianity upholds social cooperation. Capitalism was born in Italy – a Catholic country. Private property came to be seen as a good. The Protestant religion was the most successful in production because their puritanical work ethic was the harshest. Protestantism both strengthened the state and democracies.


Mapping one of the world's largest landowners

In Massachusetts, the state Supreme Court recently ruled that only a portion of a Catholic shrine's nearly 200 acres were used for worship purposes and therefore were exempt from paying local property tax. The shrine was sent a tax bill for $92,000.
[...]
With more than 1 billion adherents, the Catholic Church is one of the largest, if not the largest, nongovernmental landowners in the world. One estimate puts the church's holdings close to 177 million acres, or 277,000 square miles. If those properties were grouped together and placed on a list of the world's countries by land area, it would fall within the top 50, higher than both France and Spain. (Plus, it is unclear whether or not the 177 million acre figure includes land owned by affiliated institutions, such as Catholic schools and hospitals, which number in the hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- worldwide.)

https://www.curbed.com/2017/10/18/16483194/catholic-church-gis-goodlands-esri-molly-burhans

The Wealth of Nations and Religion – Cat[h]olicism and Protestantism

Brabantian , Website October 21, 2017 at 11:55 pm GMT
A major key point made by Hans-Hermann Hoppe above, rather neglected by the Unz community here, is this:

After all, it is above all white men that make up the ruling elite and that have foisted the current mess upon us.

True enough, the various protected 'minorities' take full advantage of the legal privileges they have been accorded and they have become increasingly emboldened but none of them would have made this outcome possible, if it were not for the instrumental help that they received and are receiving from white men.

Though it is more helpful to call this problem by its most accurate name: oligarchy. And in a country that has been predominantly white, under a white oligarchy, the core pathology is obscured by an excess focus on dominant native culture versus other cultures. As Hoppe indicates, whatever faults or crimes can be ascribed to minorities / migrants, the dysfunctionality of the system is ultimately the fault of the oligarchs at the top of the social heap, who designed the system as it stands.

For those who focus on Jewish influence groups – often the preferred 'mafias' for an oligarchy, to be sure – it is nonetheless true, as Canadian rebel Jew Henry Makow points out, that Jewish influence agents, media mavens etc, are for the most part not higher than #2 in the pecking order. Even with 40% of USA billionaires being Jewish, the other 60% who are gentile, clearly are allowing Jewish groups to have what influence they do have.

A Jewish-Israeli writer who emigrated from Russia quipped, that what he found in his new life in Israel, was only the benefit that his oppressors were now other Jews rather than non-Jews. USA whites must face the fact too, their biggest oppressors are oligarch whites who don't give a shite about their less-well-connected brothers and sisters.

And the problem overall with 'libertarianism', the whole Rothbard – Ron Paul etc spectrum, is seen in the practical matter that a wing of billionaire oligarchs see the libertarians as their hired 'useful idiots'. In some cases you can see the libertarian pundits being funded by the Koch brothers etc trying to become the owners of federal land that would then be 'turned over to the free market private sector' har-har.

Though the intellectual libertarians have nice theories supporting small business and anti-monopoly etc in practice the whole free-market, no-social-benefit ideology, tends to support the crony oligarch monopolists very well.

Whereas the actual truth, as the real-life experience of Europe (in its better days, now fading) has shown, is that an intelligently-run mixed economy, with government restricting the oligarch oligopolists, and really serving its own citizens, is the way to go. The fact that the oligarchs are running the systems down and making them blow up these days, doesn't change the fact that for a brief few decades in history, Western Continental Europe achieved some aspects of paradise – little crime, almost no one in jail, a pleasant life for just about all, and zero poverty amongst legal residents.

The 'alt-right' has it more correct, 'libertarianism' is essentially a kind of clever geeky scam flying in the face of what really works.

FKA Max , Website October 22, 2017 at 12:33 am GMT
@FKA Max

Just for clarification; I shared the video of Otto von Habsburg, because he was a member of the Mont Pelerin Society , and also a devout Catholic, but he supported the "collectivist" European Union:

What is basically emerging is the European Union Otto von Habsburg envisioned
[...]
He was also a member of the Mont Pelerin Society.

http://www.unz.com/jpetras/the-middle-east-pivot/#comment-2051317

Rose and Milton Friedman on Mont Pelerin Society

"In this interview, Milton Friedman, who was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economics, describes the values, objectives, and beginnings of the Mont Pelerin Society. He explains what it was like to create a society dedicated to classical liberalism in a world where the prevailing economic views leaned towards central planning and collectivism. Since it was founded in 1947, this organization has grown and prospered; offering its members from around the world opportunities to exchange and discuss their ideas. Friedman also comments on the significant role Universidad Francisco Marroquín has played in promoting the ideals of free-market economics and the importance of protecting private property. This interview was conducted by Hoover Institution and presented at the Mont Pelerin Society meeting in London in 2002."

[Oct 21, 2017] Washington Funds Foreign Think Tanks That Blacklist Opponents of Neocon Foreign Policy by Ron Paul

I admired Ron Paul foright policy views for a along time. and this time he also did not disappointed his reader.
Soviet labeled anybody who dissented from communist propaganda line or did not believe in Communist dogma as "agents of imperialism". Neocons similarly bland and-war activists and people who question this war mongering as peddlers of "Russian propaganda". This is what often happen with victors in wars: they acquired worst features of their defeated enemies. for example to defeat the USSR the USA create powerful network of intelligence agencies. Which promptly went out of civil control in 1963, much like KGB in the USSR and became state within the state. In a way now it in now now unfeasible that the Soviet Union posthumously have won the Cold War, as it is more and more difficult to distinguish Soviet propaganda and the US government propaganda.
So the fact that the US government allocate large sums of money for the propaganda against another neoliberal state -- Russia, which represent regional threat to the US hegemonic ambitions -- tells a lot about neoliberalism as a social system. Hostilities among neoliberal states, much like hostilities between communist states are not only possible, they are the reality.
Notable quotes:
"... So what is the "European Values" think tank? A bunch of kooks? Well perhaps, but they are well-funded kooks. In fact they are funded by American taxpayers to defame other Americans who appear on media outlets that are out of favor with Washington's elites. Among the top donors to the "European Values" think tank is the United States Embassy in Prague. Other top funders include George Soros' "Open Society Foundation," the European Commission, and the European Parliament. They are also funded by other US government funded think tanks such as the Prague-based "League of Human Rights." ..."
"... How ironic that such a Soviet-style attack on political dissent in the United States was launched from Prague, which for decades suffered under the Štátna bezpečnosť -- ..."
"... "I am not here to defend RT," I said on the program tonight. I am here to defend the marketplace of ideas that is critical to a free society. I am here to defend the right of US citizens to dissent from the foreign policy of their government without being attacked by their own government -- or by foreign think tanks funded by their government. ..."
"... This should infuriate us: The US government defines anyone who dissents from its foreign policy of endless wars and a global military empire as peddlers of "Russian propaganda" and then Congress appropriates tens of million dollars to "counter Russian propaganda." ..."
"... That means the US Congress is appropriating tens of millions of our dollars to silence our objection to Washington's trillion dollar global military empire. What a scam! How anti-American! Is that not a declaration of war on the rest of us? Is that not an act of tyranny? ..."
Oct 21, 2017 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Dear Friends of the Ron Paul Institute:

I just finished an interview on RT.

Someday soon, perhaps, anyone writing the above sentence will land in some sort of gulag, as once did East Europeans found to have appeared on a foreign broadcast questioning the historical inevitability of the worldwide communist revolution.

In my case, I was asked to comment on a new report (see above pic) from a Czech " think tank " exposing 2,327 American "useful idiots" who dared appear on the Russian government-funded RT television network.

Among the "Kremlin stooges" listed in the report of the "European Values" think tank? Alongside critics of US foreign policy like Ron Paul, the Czech "European Values" think tank listed Sen. Lindsay Graham, Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney, US Rep. Adam Schiff, former acting CIA director Michael Morrell, former CIA director Michael Hayden, and hundreds more prominent Americans who have been notably hostile to Russia and its government.

I said: "Wow! this conspiracy is even deeper than we thought! Even the virulently anti-Russian neocons and Russia-hating CIA bigwigs are in fact Putin's poodles!"

It's funny but it's not. This is when the neo-McCarthyism lately in fashion across the ideological divide descends into the absurd. This is when the mask slips from the witch trials, when the naked emperor can no longer expect to not be noticed.

So what is the "European Values" think tank? A bunch of kooks? Well perhaps, but they are well-funded kooks. In fact they are funded by American taxpayers to defame other Americans who appear on media outlets that are out of favor with Washington's elites. Among the top donors to the "European Values" think tank is the United States Embassy in Prague. Other top funders include George Soros' "Open Society Foundation," the European Commission, and the European Parliament. They are also funded by other US government funded think tanks such as the Prague-based "League of Human Rights."

Since when did "European values" come to be defined as government-funded lists of political "enemies" who dare question US foreign policy on television networks despised by neocons and Washington interventionists? How ironic that such a Soviet-style attack on political dissent in the United States was launched from Prague, which for decades suffered under the Štátna bezpečnosť -- the communist secret police -- that took exactly the same view of those who deviated from the Soviet party line as does the modern Czech "European Values" think tank.

Anyone questioning our one trillion dollar global military empire is automatically considered to be in the pay of hostile foreign governments. How patriotic is that?

"I am not here to defend RT," I said on the program tonight. I am here to defend the marketplace of ideas that is critical to a free society. I am here to defend the right of US citizens to dissent from the foreign policy of their government without being attacked by their own government -- or by foreign think tanks funded by their government.

This should infuriate us: The US government defines anyone who dissents from its foreign policy of endless wars and a global military empire as peddlers of "Russian propaganda" and then Congress appropriates tens of million dollars to "counter Russian propaganda."

That means the US Congress is appropriating tens of millions of our dollars to silence our objection to Washington's trillion dollar global military empire. What a scam! How anti-American! Is that not a declaration of war on the rest of us? Is that not an act of tyranny?

The noose is tightening around us. Yet we must continue to fight for what we believe in! We must continue to fight for the prosperity that comes from a peaceful foreign policy. Your generous support for the Ron Paul Institute helps us continue to be your voice in the fight for free expression and a peaceful foreign policy.

[Oct 16, 2017] President Trump Beats War Drums For Iran by Ron Paul

Notable quotes:
"... Nearly every assertion in the president's speech was embarrassingly incorrect. Iran is not allied with al-Qaeda, as the president stated. The money President Obama sent to Iran was their own money. Much of it was a down-payment made to the US for fighter planes that were never delivered when Iran changed from being friend to foe in 1979. The president also falsely claims that Iran targets the United States with terrorism. He claims that Iran has "fueled sectarian violence in Iraq," when it was Iranian militias who prevented Baghdad from being overtaken by ISIS in 2014. There are too many other false statements in the president's speech to mention. ..."
"... Unfortunately the American people are being neoconned into another war. Just as with the disastrous 2003 US attack on Iraq, the media builds up the fear and does the bidding of the warmongers without checking facts or applying the necessary skepticism to neocon claims. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | www.unz.com

President Trump has been notoriously inconsistent in his foreign policy. He campaigned on and won the presidency with promises to repair relations with Russia, pull out of no-win wars like Afghanistan, and end the failed US policy of nation-building overseas. Once in office he pursued policies exactly the opposite of what he campaigned on. Unfortunately Iran is one of the few areas where the president has been very consistent. And consistently wrong.

In the president's speech last week he expressed his view that Iran was not "living up to the spirit" of the 2015 nuclear agreement and that he would turn to Congress to apply new sanctions to Iran and to, he hopes, take the US out of the deal entirely.

Nearly every assertion in the president's speech was embarrassingly incorrect. Iran is not allied with al-Qaeda, as the president stated. The money President Obama sent to Iran was their own money. Much of it was a down-payment made to the US for fighter planes that were never delivered when Iran changed from being friend to foe in 1979. The president also falsely claims that Iran targets the United States with terrorism. He claims that Iran has "fueled sectarian violence in Iraq," when it was Iranian militias who prevented Baghdad from being overtaken by ISIS in 2014. There are too many other false statements in the president's speech to mention.

How could he be so wrong on so many basic facts about Iran? Here's a clue: the media reports that his number one advisor on Iran is his Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. Ambassador Haley is a "diplomat" who believes war is the best, first option rather than the last, worst option. She has no prior foreign policy experience, but her closest mentor is John Bolton – the neocon who lied us into the Iraq war. How do these people live with themselves when they look around at the death and destruction their policies have caused?

Unfortunately the American people are being neoconned into another war. Just as with the disastrous 2003 US attack on Iraq, the media builds up the fear and does the bidding of the warmongers without checking facts or applying the necessary skepticism to neocon claims.

Like most Americans, I do not endorse Iran's style of government. I prefer religion and the state to be separate and even though our liberties have been under attack by our government, I prefer our much freer system in the US. But I wonder how many Americans know that Iran has not attacked or "regime-changed" another country in its modern history. Iran's actions in Syria are at the invitation of the legitimate Syrian government. And why won't President Trump tell us the truth about Iranian troops in Syria – that they are fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda, both of which are Sunni extremist groups that are Iran's (and our) mortal enemies?

How many Americans know that Iran is one of the few countries in the region that actually holds elections that are contested by candidates with very different philosophies? Do any Americans wonder why the Saudis are considered one of our greatest allies in the Middle East even though they hold no elections and have one of the world's worst human rights records?

Let's be clear here: President Trump did not just announce that he was "de-certifying" Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal. He announced that Iran was from now on going to be in the bullseye of the US military. Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another Middle East war?

Jim Christian , October 16, 2017 at 4:31 pm GMT

"Will Americans allow themselves to be lied into another Middle East war?"

The die was cast the minute they ended the draft and mandatory service. What the hell does anyone in this country care about the next war? Maybe some realize it's a theft, a looting, but as long as it isn't THEIR blood being spilt, nothing goes nuclear, they don't care. Few outside our little venue here even understand, they think it's still Rah! Rah! And then, I suppose if I were in Congress, I might demand votes on these deals. Civilian control of the military, funding the wars, etc. Of course, if I pushed the point, they'd put a bullet in my HEAD . Just because. And headline me, my Mistress and my wife on the front page of the Post. Because NSA just KNOWS shit. Probably set me up with my Mistress to begin with so they'd have something on me, heh. This is the dilemma the Hill has on a personal level. We don't vote on wars, we gave em a blank check after 9/11 and that's that. Keeping it all going? That's all private. None-ya.

No one can talk about it, they just do it.

[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. ..."
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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 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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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.

[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?