Liberty & Power: Group Blog
David T. Beito
While Washington's current national security worldview remains focused like a laser beam on Iraq and Afghanistan, fires smolder and burn elsewhere. Shifting at least a portion of that concern and those resources to South America, and especially to the Andean region that currently is near the boiling point, is critical to our security. There may not be weapons of mass destruction lurking in the jungles of Venezuela, Colombia or Ecuador (there weren't in Iraq either, of course), but arms are flowing into the area. Venezuela, for example, is buying billions of dollars worth of Russian military equipment. Leftist guerrillas and narco-terrorists remain firmly entrenched in the region, and evidence that other terrorist groups are using the area for problematic purposes is mounting.
Even if the possible loss of a significant portion of our imported oil requirement does not wake the United States from the somnambulant manner in which it views Latin America, perhaps the growing security threat in that area will —- hopefully before a major crisis jars us awake.
A few thoughts. His essay is a well-informed discussion that is grounded in a considerable knowledge of the history of political thought. That said, I note that more than once he elides the distinction between country and nation-state. And I am struck by how much Smith (sometimes by default), Walzer, and Brook and Epstein assume particular historical accounts as true. Consider the following examples, viz.,"Islamic terrorism," the origins of the Six-Day War, Sherman's March through Georgia, and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
"The authors were not satisfied with presenting their version of just war theory and its application to the ongoing conflict with what they describe (correctly, I think) as "Islamic Totalitarianism."" (Smith)
"On the contrary, he [Michael Walzer] emphatically maintains that an objective threat can justify a preemptive war, e.g., of the sort that Israel fought during the "Six-Day War" in 1967:..." (Smith)
"This is why, although Sherman's actions helped to end the Civil War, he is a reviled figure among Just War theorists: His goal was to preserve his side by inflicting unbearable misery on its enemy's civilian population — the opposite of "good intentions." Many Just War theorists hold — as by their standard they are obliged to hold — that the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was immoral. America, they claim, should have valued Japanese civilians over the hundreds of thousands of GIs who would have died invading Japan." (Brook and Epstein)
So much of modern just war theory, including George Smith's account, seems to have very little, if anything, to say about the relationship between war and the state. I'm not just thinking along the lines of Randolph Bourne's dictum, War Is the Health of the State, although that is part of it. I'm also thinking of how the state makes wars and that discussion of just war theory is divorced from the historical realities of state making and war making. That's why so much of contemporary libertarian discussion on this issue, such as it is, reminds me of medieval theologians debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
David T. Beito
For more details about the conference, see here.
David T. Beito
For those who haven’t read it, Wertham’s alarmist screed, The Seduction of the Innocent, is good for more than a few laughs.
Wertham fearfully speculates at length, for example, about a possible gay relationship between Bruce Wayne and his young “ward” Dick Grayson. Much less amusing were the resultant calls for censorship. These ultimately led to the “voluntary” establishment of the Comics Code Authority by the industry.
Hat tip Norman Singleton
David T. Beito
With some success, enemies of free speech are using the Commission to censor blogs and magazines for alleged"hate speech."
Roderick T. Long
[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]
Last Friday I presented a revised version of my talk On Making Small Contributions to Evil to the Auburn Philosophical Society.
This coming weekend Ill be presenting a paper on Herbert Spencer, Gustave de Molinari, and the Evanescence of War at a panel on The Libertarian Antiwar Tradition from the 1930s to the 1950s at the Historians Against the War conference in Atlanta. Fellow panelist David Beito will be presenting Zora Neale Hurston, Rose Wilder Lane, and Isabel Paterson on Race, War, Individualism, and the State.
Cavilers may object that Spencer and Molinari werent strictly 1930s-50s era guys. Well, Brian Doherty was going to present something topically relevant but had to back out, so Im replacing him and had to throw something together at the last minute, and this is it.
David T. Beito
Go here for the stream.
Aeon J. Skoble
"What English people of nearly all classes loathe from the bottom of their hearts is the swaggering officer type, the jingle of spurs and the crash of boots. Decades before Hitler was ever heard of, the word 'Prussian' had much the same significance in England as 'Nazi' has today. So deep does this feeling go that for a hundred years past the officers of the British Army, in peace-time, have always worn civilian clothes when off duty."
-- George Orwell, England Your England, in The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius (London: Secker & Warburg, 1941).
"Plans for comprehensive school pupils to sign up for military drills and weapons training backed by PM."
"The report also unequivocally recommends that soldiers should be encouraged to wear their uniform off-duty, a policy that has been relaxed since British military personnel ceased to be targets of the IRA."
-- The Observer, London, April 6, 2008.
Above the story is a picture of protesters outside Bear Stearns and three paragraphs down readers are told,"Opposition to government aid to homeowners also has a broad base - pitting renters against homeowners, the young against the old and prudent savers against ambitious housing entrepreneurs."
"A poll last week found that 53 per cent of Americans reckoned the government should not help out homeowners who borrowed more than they could afford, with only 29 per cent in disagreement and 17 per cent unsure. Opposition to government help for banks that made bad loans was even stronger, with naysayers outnumbering proponents four to one, the Rasmussen Reports survey reckoned."
"Patrick Killelea, 42, a computer programmer and part-time blogger in Silicon Valley, is unconvinced [by the proposed homeowner bail-out].
"He has never voted Republican but said he might vote for John McCain, the Arizona Republican, in the November presidential election purely because of his cautious opposition to the bail-out issue."
Should libertarians (and Libertarian Party activists) be reaching out to this popular majority against the bail-out? And if so, what's the best way we (and they) might do this?
David T. Beito
Indeed, the New Deal did not even work in rescuing capitalism, which was Roosevelt's stated goal; it took the total militarization of the U.S. economy to accomplish that. However, even before entering the war, nearly every New Deal economic recovery and development program enriched already existing corporations, such as Bechtel and Brown and Root, as well as creating new ones. The ground was set for rapid militarization through contracts with these new corporate giants and massive employment through the military draft and wartime production. The military-industrial complex is the essential result of New Deal policies.
Hat tip Jesse Walker.
The author's findings rebut the condescending conclusion of Marxist historian E. P. Thompson in his classic study The Making of the English Working Class (1966) that the share of the average working man in"the benefits of economic progress" was paltry, consisting of"more potatoes, a few articles of cotton clothing for his family, soap and candles, some tea and sugar, and a great many articles in the Economic History Review."
As the review explains,"John Styles, formerly a costume scholar at the Victoria and Albert Museum, has squirrelled together a remarkable, and often poignant, heap of evidence of what the poor actually wore...Styles never underplays the piercing poverty that the worst off endured. Nor is he claiming that eighteenth-century England was a fully fledged consumer society. But what he does show conclusively is that while the poor did not have a huge choice at the best of times, they did have some, and what they had they grasped with both hands...[W]hat strikes one throughout is the variousness of working-class experience and the determination of people to be agents rather than patients whenever they had a chance."
That said, please don't take my summary as an adequate subsitute for reading the entire review, one that will surely encourage you to read or even buy the book itself. The Dress of the People sounds like an essential addition to a shelf of books on British history that might include John Styles and Amanda Vickery's edited volume Gender, Taste, and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830 (Yale, 2006) and would certainly hold Jonathan Rose's acclaimed The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (Yale, 2001/2003). This award-winning book tracks the rise and decline of the British autodidact from the pre-industrial era to the twentieth century.
Read the rest, and come check out the new Independent Institute blog, the Beacon, featuring bloggers Bob Higgs, Jonathan Bean, David Beito, Peter Klein, David Theroux, me and others.
Roderick T. Long
Cross posted on The Trebach Report