Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 20:45
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. (An Israel-firster is not someone who says, “Israel right or wrong” but rather one who says, “Israel can’t be wrong.”) Criticism itself of Israel and the lobby is the real target. The campaign to silence the critics would have been no less intense had that term never been used – and in fact writers who have never called anyone an Israel-firster are nonetheless accused of anti-Semitism (or of dangerously skirting it).
Yet it’s hard to see what’s objectionable about the...
Sunday, January 29, 2012 - 23:03
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 Most of Warren’s major works are relatively easy to find online; an exception is his unpublished Notebook D, edited by Ann Butler for her undergraduate thesis in 1964. This too turns out to be online, but its being so is a bit tricky to detect: my information had led me to look for Butler’s 1968 M.A. thesis, which has the same title and is evidently not online; how it differs from the 1964 version I know not. (Butler wrote her 1978 Ph.D. thesis on Warren as well, though thankfully with a different title; this too is not online...
Friday, January 27, 2012 - 19:59
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
My Econ Journal Watch article on Treasury default is now available online. It appears in a special issue that is devoted to various articles with differing perspectives on the probability and consequences of a U.S. government default.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 12:03
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."
Sunday, January 22, 2012 - 22:34
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!
Saturday, January 21, 2012 - 06:44
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. In 2008 the people wanted and voted for real change but the establishment and propagandists did not fear or oppose Barack Obama because unlike many of the rest of us they were not fooled by his lies. Yes he was able to produce good sounding rhetoric but nothing of any substance changed when he took power. The most racist policy since chattel slavery ever devised...
Friday, January 20, 2012 - 20:08
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. I have added the department’s data for previous years, back to 1999, to construct this table.
Employees on nonfarm payrolls, 1999-2011
(annual average, in thousands)
Year Total Private
1999...... 128,993 108,686
2000..... 131,785 110,995
2001...... 131,826 110,708 ...
Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 22:40
[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
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 15:44
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.
Anyway, here is the passage. Scroll down to get my quickie translation:
[H]oy no existe en la vida pública más “poder espiritual” que la Prensa. La vida pública, que es la verdaderamente histórica, necesita siempre ser regida, quiérase o no. Ella, por si, es anónima y ciega, sin dirección autónoma. Ahora bien: a estas fechas han desaparecido los antiguos “poderes espirituales”: la Iglesia, porque ha abandonado el presente, y la vida pública es siempre actualisima; el Estado, porque, triunfante la democracia, no dirige ya a ésta, sino al revés, es gobernado por la...
Sunday, January 15, 2012 - 20:53
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 00:12
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. By Locke’s definition, that is tyranny
Why does the Fed Chairman bother with the facade of lobbying Congress when he assumes unlimited power to himself? Is there any limit to Bernanke’s hubris? Above all, why does he behave this way? A recent Independent Review article splendidly explains the...
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 17:42
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.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 13:00
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.”
As Rothbard notes, this is an odd claim coming from “one of the great founders of the conquest theory of the State.” Dunoyer’s suggestion that democratic elections provide all the competition that’s needed in the market for security also sits oddly with his earlier interest-group analysis of electoral politics.
A summary of this meeting was published in a subsequent issue of the Society’s organ, the Journal des Économistes. I have now translated and posted this summary, which bears the title “Question of the Limits of State Action and Individual Action
Discussed at the Society of Political Economy.”
Monday, January 9, 2012 - 13:59
Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 21:09
David T. Beito
Saturday, January 7, 2012 - 18:18
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. Likewise, à la Warren and her ilk, if the fire department did not keep your town from burning to the ground, you would have earned nothing; hence your (government) fire department in some sense accounts for everything you have. And so forth for the police force, the army, the water department, the public health department, and all the others who provide an input without which your earnings would be zero—in the worst case, because you’d be dead. Because each such provider is essential to everything you produce,...
Friday, January 6, 2012 - 11:53
This is a very interesting article on the OWS movement by the psychologist Jonathan Haidt.
I've been following his work at a distance for some years now. He and his colleagues analyse real-world moral thinking based on "six clusters of moral concerns": "care/harm [eg., compassion for the underdog], fairness/cheating [here, distributive justice has a place], liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation."
Among their findings: liberals and libertarians think almost exclusively in terms of the first three clusters. Social conservatives use all six, extensively. We liberals and libertarians, by comparison, live in a morally truncated world. At a fundamental conceptual level, their moral world is much richer.
The signs at Zucotti park, he finds, are extremely typical of the left-liberal Weltanschauung.
The most interesting thing in this particular article is the Machiavellian advice he offers OWS at the end:
[I]f the protesters continue to focus on the gross inequality of outcomes in America, they will get nowhere. There is no equality foundation....
Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 08:54
Over sixty years ago General Dwight Eisenhower warned us that our nations leaders had plans for us that included perpetual warfare and growing debt slavery. Since then Barack Obama and all of the Republican candidates for President except Ron Paul have tried to make this warning a reality. The corrupt and lying news media have done their best to aid in this effort. however the voters in Iowa have made their constantly repeated mantra, that Ron Paul can not be elected, ring hollow. Ron Paul has given the American people something they have lacked for for decades, a viable candidate who wants peace. But he and his supporters like myself are not going to be able to stop this useless carnage by ourselves, we need your help. As Glenn Greenwald explained in his latest article the forces arrayed against peace are very powerful and their primary tactic is keeping you and I divided. The profits of the military industrial complex and what Jesse Jackson termed the prison industrial complex must be protected. The politicians who see that as their main function and not the welfare of ordinary people will do anything and raise any issue no matter how false to preserve this system of constant warfare and debt slavery which produces enormous undeserved wealth along with great hardship. Kevin please do mot let them succeed help put Ron Paul in office because my friend I do not see any other alternative right now. Compared to one our sons or daughters lying bloody and dying in some ditch in Afghanistan what other issue really maters that much.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 13:32
David T. Beito