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Liberty and Power

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  • The Atrocity of Hope, Part 19: Droning On

    by Roderick T. Long

    The politerati are all aflutter because GOP party hack Reince Priebus compared our President Incarnate to Francesco Schettino, the cruise ship captain who’s been charged with manslaughter in connection with the recent shipwreck off the coast of Italy.

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Priebus’s counterhack on the Democratic side, called it an “unbelievable comparison,” opining that “for the RNC chairman to compare the president of the United States to someone who has been charged with manslaughter shows a dramatic level of insensitivity to the families of those victims.”

    I agree. After all, Obama is guilty of actual mass murder against the civilian population of Pakistan. To compare him to someone charged with the lesser offense of manslaughter is dramatically insensitive to the families of Obama’s victims.

  • Trivializing Anti-Semitism

    by Sheldon Richman

     Glenn Greenwald has heroically exposed the latest trivialization of the charge of anti-Semitism. (His other posts are here and here.) These days one is likely to be hit with that ugly charge – or the perhaps uglier one of being a “self-hating Jew” – merely for doubting that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon or is an “existential threat” to Israel. (Guilty!)

    Needless to say, if the epithet “anti-Semite” is going to be used in such a patently ridiculous way, it will have little force when applied to the real thing. Why are the “Israel-firsters” so short-sighted?

    That term – “Israel-firster” – has drawn a good deal of attention from those who lightly throw around the anti-Semitism charge in order to silence criticism of Israel and the Israel lobby, but it’s not at the heart of the issue.

  • The Butler Did It

    by Roderick T. Long

    Josiah Warren is often called the father of American individualist anarchism. (I’m in the midst of reading Crispin Sartwell’s excellent Warren collection.) Most of Warren’s major works are relatively easy to find online; an exception is his unpublished Notebook D, edited by Ann Butler for her undergraduate thesis in 1964.

  • The Butler Did It

    by Roderick T. Long

    Josiah Warren is often called the father of American individualist anarchism. (I’m in the midst of reading Crispin Sartwell’s excellent Warren collection.) Most of Warren’s major works are relatively easy to find online; an exception is his unpublished Notebook D, edited by Ann Butler for her undergraduate thesis in 1964.

  • Nock on Moral Education

    by Sheldon Richman

    The point is that any enlargement [of the State], good or bad, reduces the scope of individual responsibility, and thus retards and cripples the education which can be a product of nothing but the free exercise of moral judgment. Like the discipline of the army, again, any such enlargement, good or bad, depraves this education into a mere routine of mechanical assent. The profound instinct against being ‘done for our own good’ . . . is wholly sound. Men are aware of the need of this moral experience as a condition of growth, and they are aware, too, that anything tending to ease it off from them, even for their own good, is to be profoundly distrusted. The practical reason for freedom, then, is that freedom seems to be the only condition under which any kind of substantial moral fibre can be developed.

    --Albert Jay Nock, “On Doing the Right Thing." 

  • The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination

    by Sheldon Richman

    Jeremy Hammond has written an excellent brief book on the origin of the strife in Palestine. This is the book (available for the Kindle) to read or recommend for anyone who wants to know what’s going on in Palestine but who isn’t prepared to spend her life reading about the matter.

    Thank you, Jeremy Hammond!  

  • There is Only One Choice Left

    by Keith Halderman

    Every four years we are told how important the upcoming election is and how its results will have far ranging consequences. Each and every individual must participate no matter how limited the choice is or how uninformed or misinformed about that choice you are. However, this year unlike years past this talk is not just media hype there is an actual choice to be made for the first time in our lives. We can choose ever increasing financially crippling debt which is systematically destroying our children’s future, perpetual warfare which harms countless lives, but does not make any of us the least bit safer and is one of the main causes of our impending total bankruptcy by voting for Barack Obama or any of the Republican candidates except Ron Paul. Or we can vote for someone who has demonstrated his belief in freedom, which already has vastly improved the lives of millions of people all over the world throughout history, many times before in both words and actions, Of course the Democrat and Republican parties and their handmaidens in the media will do everything and anything they can to stop Ron Paul from being elected because he represents the one thing they fear the most, change and the diminishment of their own personal power as a result.

  • U.S. Employment Woes Continue Despite Small Improvements

    by Robert Higgs

     After the headline rate of unemployment (U-3) reached 8.5 percent in December 2011 ( the most recent month reported), some commentators began to talk as if the employment situation is now improving rapidly. Some have gone on to suggest that those of us who have emphasized the role of regime uncertainty in retarding the current recovery are now barking up the wrong tree, if indeed we ever had a valid point. To speak of employment woes as old news, however, is highly premature.

    The Labor Department has recently made public its preliminary estimate of nonfarm employment for 2011.

  • Wise Beyond His Years

    by Sheldon Richman

    [T]he term “Israeli/Palestinian Conflict” [is] no more accurate than calling the Civil Rights Movement the “Caucasian/ African-American Conflict.” In both cases, the expression was a blatant euphemism: it gave the impression that this was a dispute among equals and that both held an equal share of the blame. However, in both, there was clearly an oppressor and an oppressed, and I felt horrified at the realization that I was by nature on the side of the oppressors. --Jesse Lieberfeld,  11th -grader in Pennysylvania  "Fighting a Forbidden Battle: How I Stopped Covering Up for a Hidden Wrong"  

  • Protect IP/SOPA Break the Internet

    by Amy H. Sturgis

    At midnight, the English language version of Wikipedia (along with reddit and a host of other sites) is going dark for 24 hours in response to SOPA and PIPA.   

  • The Mass Media: Polluters of the Human Soul?

    by Lester Hunt

    I've just re-read Ortega's Mission of the University. Interesting stuff, like everything he wrote, but the best part is the last page, which is a blistering attack on the press -- or what we today would call "the mainstream media." When his colleagues at El Sol, a paper for which he wrote, saw it, they wrote a collective editorial bashing him for it. What's most disturbing is how close to the truth it still is today -- probably much closer than it was in 1930, when he wrote it.

    Here we are in the midst of a primary election campaign, and there is a huge amount of reporting on who is going to win (though it's fairly obvious who will win), little reporting on their positions on the issues, and almost non on the issues themselves. That is exactly the sort of "inversion" Ortega talks about below.

  • Where Minarchists Fear to Tread, Part II

    by Roderick T. Long

    As previously mentioned, the Society of Political Economy met in 1849 to critique Molinari’s market anarchist ideas. A month later, one of the participants in that discussion, free-banking theorist Charles Coquelin, developed his objections further in a book review of Molinari’s Soirées on the Rue Saint-Lazare for the Journal des Économistes. I have now translated and posted Coquelin’s review also.

    These two pieces are especially important as the first critiques ever published (AFAIK) of the idea that the legitimate functions of government could and should be turned over to market mechanisms.

  • The Temptation of Bernanke: How Historical Memory Feeds Fed Power

    by Jonathan J. Bean


    “Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right.” “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.”
    —John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government

    “The historian is . . . one step nearer to direct power over public opinion than is the theorist.”
    —Friedrich von Hayek

    Man of the Year (2009)

    Say what you will, but the Fed certainly has chutzpah: driving interest rates to zero, printing money, and now jawboning Congress to write down the principal of the nation’s mortgages (nationalized by force in 2009 and held by the federal government). It’s only money, after all, the property of “nobody” since the government now owns the nation’s housing debt. Bernanke has declared that if Congress does not legislate as he desires, then Bernanke will take law-less action.

  • Where Minarchists Fear to Tread

    by Roderick T. Long

    In 1849, the members of the Society of Political Economy – the chief organisation for classical liberalism in France at the time – met to discuss Molinari’s proposal for the competitive provision of security. The meeting included some of the foremost liberal thinkers of the day, such as Bastiat, Dunoyer, Coquelin, Wolowski, and Horace Say (son of J.-B.). Without exception they agreed that Molinari’s ideas were unworkable, offering much the same objections to market anarchism as those that are prevalent today. (Although, oddly, nobody raised the objection that would later lead Molinari himself to moderate his position, namely the problem of so-called “public goods.”) Even Dunoyer, who in his earlier work had come close to Molinari’s position, now held that it was best to leave coercive force “where civilisation has placed it – in the State.”

  • Why Your Dog Doesn’t Own Your Entire House, and the Government Doesn’t, Either

    by Robert Higgs

    I wrote recently about some views expressed by Elizabeth Warren and certain politicos of a previous era to the effect that the government has every right to take at least a big chunk of your earnings and, in some expressions, even your entire earnings for purposes the rulers stipulate.

    Nearly ten years ago, the great political philosopher Anthony de Jasay wrote a charming little essay related to this matter called “Your Dog Owns Your House.”  There, he spells out some of the ways in which such sweeping claims—by your dog or the rulers—are incoherent, absurd, and indefensible, and he sketches how to think more sensibly about the issue.

    One sees upon even a small amount of reflection that the kind of reasoning advanced by Warren and her predecessors proves too much. Yes, if your dog did not ward off burglars, you might have lost all your household possessions; hence your dog’s diligence in some sense accounts for everything you have.

  • test

    by Robert Higgs


    wrote recently about some views expressed by Elizabeth Warre

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