S.

STRICTLY for Tom Woods’ Supporting Listeners

If you are not a Supporting Listener for Tom Woods’ show, this post is not for you. You cannot in any way benefit from this information. Sorry Charlie.

Tom, who has endorsed the publication and urged people to subscribe, was kind enough to add a large discount to AL Magazine for those who are Supporting Listeners. This deal is unavailable to anyone else (and it is separate, and slightly bigger, than the more obvious coupon code “woods” that he announced on his show). But if you login to your Supporting Listeners account and go to the “Access Program Benefits” page, you can find the coupon code to use.

M.

Massie is Correct: Food is Not a Right

It is precisely because over the last 300 years food has not been treated as a right (which would obligate the government to provide it or force some to give food to others), that we don’t need to speak of it in terms of rights. The market has done more to feed the western world and bring people out of hunger than any other institution in history. In fact now we are concerned with obesity problems!

The majority of people swoon when they hear someone deny that food is a right, but they do not realize that it does not need to be a right in order for it to be produced in historically unprecedented quantities such that the global population can be sustained at levels unimaginable several centuries ago.

C.

Capitalists and the Lowest Price

In Jacobin’s series “The ABCs of Capitalism,” which I was browsing this morning after just receiving them in the mail, I came across this statement:

If a capitalist doesn’t produce at the lowest price, she knows that she will lose customers, if that continues, her firm will start bleeding money.

This is almost striking in its ignorance of the real world. The series purports to explain as simply as possible “how the system works” so that socialism can therefore be seen as the alternative. But in the real world, in the system as it exists, consumers weigh hundreds of factors in their patronage of businesses. Price is definitely one of them. But if the lowest price was the only standard, we wouldn’t have Whole Foods, Apple, Nordstrom, mansions, Bulletproof coffee, Hardback books, First Class flying, Mercedes, etc.

People buy things, not because they are the lowest cost, but because various other factors have added into the equation including quality, customers service, durability, name recognition, social status, price, style, accessibility, unique features, and on and on.

The capitalist profits to the extent that he arranges resources in a way that satisfies consumers, not merely in the potential price differential between costs and whatever the sales price is. This shows a shocking lack of understanding of how prices are formed across time and backward through the stages of production.

D.

Does AOC want Power?

At Target Liberty, Robert Wenzel writes:

The more I see of her, the more I am convinced she is a skilled Leninist. She wants power, that is what drives her. She is not seeking truth in any fashion. She is using policy issues and alliances in a very skilled manner to advance the only cause she is really interested in: Power to AOC and the greater the power the better, That agenda doesn’t sit too well with a live and let live philosophy.

I disagree. I think that’s a little sloppy. I think she’s just some kid from New York who knows nothing about how the real world works, about what economic theory teaches about the nature of capitalism and exchange, and zero interest in understanding property rights and the liberties that depend on them. She’s simply a loon perfectly suited for massive following in the social media age. She’s goofy, she knows how to play victim to her advantage (every time someone offered legitimate criticism, she dismisses it as “because I’m female), and therefore can’t argue intellectually.

But of course, her know-nothingness is not the primary problem. Most congresspeople know nothing. It’s that the ideas she thinks are great, are, in fact, devastating. And the system she thinks she loathes– capitalism– is not in actuality the problem of our age; state interventionism is.

J.

Jacobin Skewers Mises

Remember how I’m really reading a lot of Jacobin right now as I work to create this magazine? The jerks just barfed up this gem, Happy New Year:

So it’s less surprising than it might initially appear that Ludwig von Mises has joined Nietzsche and Heidegger in the pantheon of today’s alt-right. Richard Spencer has recommended that his acolytes read von Mises and his American student Murray Rothbard. Mencius Moldbug, the preferred brand of pseudo-highbrow neofascist leaders, agrees: “Mises is a titan; Rothbard is a giant,” he has written. The chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LVMI) in Auburn, Alabama, is Lew Rockwell, whom you might remember for ghostwriting all those racist Ron Paul newsletters. The LVMI’s most notorious affiliate is Hans-Hermann Hoppe, whose 2001 screed Democracy: The God That Failed has become something of a bible for the alt-right movement.

The Moldbug thing is the most hysterical, both in the colloquial and literal sense. It’s the low brow smear of century: someone recommended someone else, therefore the one being recommended is associated with the recommender.

I suppose the Richard Spencer thing could be categorized as such as well, but there’s nuance here: Spencer used to be a better libertarian, but is self-admittedly no longer.

At any rate, the idea that the alt-right, which has no actual definition and is just a mindless accusation against anyone to the “right” of Mitt Romney, finds the classical liberalism of Mises as their crowning inspiration immensely lacks credibility.

R.

Reconciliation is Between Individuals

Earlier this year, I wrote:

Crimes are those actions which have as their victims actual individual human beings. There is no abstract “crime against society” as the Progressives want you to think; nor is there a “crime against the state” as fascists want you to think. Rather, a crime is something which actually aggresses the person or property of one’s neighbor.

In this way, actual justice has to do with crimes and there is no such thing as “social justice,” much to the disdain of the socialist or liberal Christian. Any crime which aggresses hundreds of people is a “crime against many individuals,” not a “social crime.” Society has no rights, for society is not a thing in itself. We must speak in terms of the individual, lest collectivism creep in unannounced.

Let’s push this further. There have in recent years been efforts to pursue “racial reconciliation.” But reconciliation, since it relies on individuals agreeing to restore friendly relationships with others, can only take place on an individual basis. Agitating for racial reconciliation makes one guilty of holding animosity against others on the simple basis that one belongs to a specific race. This is absurd. Only individuals think. Only individuals act. Only individuals are guilty or innocent. Only individuals are moral agents.

Rather than “racial reconciliation,” we need to realize that reconciliation, like crime, takes place between individuals. Only individuals can be said to be in need of reconciliation. And therefore, by good and necessary consequence, there are also individuals who are not in need of reconciliation on racial issues. By refusing to adopt a collectivist paradigm, we free many individuals from the guilt manipulation rampant in our world of cultural leftism. And we therefore yank the carpet upon which the social authoritarians stand.

M.

Mises Against Polylogism

Polylogism is back with a vengeance. We see it everywhere:

“men can’t have an opinion on abortion because they can’t carry children!”

“whites can’t have an opinion on racial struggles because they are not minorities!”

This is an adoption of the theory that one’s social or biological class must be emphasized above the human mind. That is, that logic and reason is not something that belongs in the same way to all people, but instead is differentiated based on the class to which one belongs. Of course, the quickest reply to such claims is that if they are true, then by the same token the accuser cannot have an opinion about what, say, men and whites cannot have an opinion on because they are not men or white. In other words, the response should be that it creates an immediate contradiction.

On this troubling doctrine, Mises wrote:

Marxian polylogism asserts that the logical structure of the mind is different with the members of various social classes. Racial polylogism differs from Marxian polylogism only in so far as it ascribes to each race a peculiar logical structure of mind and maintains that all members of a definite race, no matter what their class affiliation may be, are endowed with this peculiar logical structure.

There is no need to enter here into a critique of the concepts social class and race as applied by these doctrines. It is not necessary to ask the Marxians when and how a proletarian who succeeds in joining the ranks of the bourgeoisie changes his proletarian mind into a bourgeois mind. It is superfluous to ask the racists to explain what kind of logic is peculiar to people who are not of pure racial stock. There are much more serious objections to be raised.

Neither the Marxians nor the racists nor the supporters of any other brand of polylogism ever went further than to declare that the logical structure of mind is different with various classes, races, or nations. They never ventured to demonstrate precisely in what the logic of the proletarians differs from the logic of the bourgeois, or in what the logic of the Aryans differs from the logic of the non-Aryans, or the logic of the Germans from the logic of the French or the British. In the eyes of the Marxians the Ricardian theory of comparative cost is spurious because Ricardo was a bourgeois. The German racists condemn the same theory because Ricardo was a Jew, and the German nationalists because he was an Englishman. Some German professors advanced all these three arguments together against the validity of Ricardo’s teachings. However, it is not enough to reject a theory wholesale by unmasking the background of its author. What is wanted is first to expound a system of logic different from that applied by the criticized author. Then it would be necessary to examine the contested theory point by point and to show where in its reasoning inferences are made which–although correct from the point of view of its author’s logic–are invalid from the point of view of the proletarian, Aryan, or German logic. And finally, it should be explained what kind of conclusions the replacement of the author’s vicious inferences by the correct inferences of the critic’s own logic must lead to. As everybody knows, this never has been and never can be attempted by anybody.

Then there is the fact that there is disagreement concerning essential problems among people belonging to the same class, race, or nation. Unfortunately there are, say the Nazis, Germans who do not think in a correct German way. But if a German does not always necessarily think as he should, but may think in the manner of a man equipped with a non-German logic, who is to decide which German’s ideas are truly German and which un-German? Says the late Professor Franz Oppenheimer; “The individual errs often in looking after his interests; a class never errs in the long run.” This would suggest the infallibility of a majority vote. However, the Nazis rejected decision by majority vote as manifestly un-German. The Marxians pay lip service to the democratic principle of majority vote. But whenever it comes to a test they favor minority rule, provided it is the rule of their own party. Let us remember how Lenin dispersed by force the Constituent Assembly elected, under the auspices of his own government, by adult franchise, because only about one-fifth of its members were Bolshevik.

A consistent supporter of polylogism would have to maintain that ideas are correct because their author is a member of the right class, nation, or race. But consistency is not one of their virtues. Thus the Marxians are prepared to assign the epithet “proletarian thinker” to everybody whose doctrines they approve. All the others they disparage either as foes of their class or as social traitors. Hitler was even frank enough to admit that the only method available for him to sift the true Germans from the mongrels and the aliens was to enunciate a genuinely German program and to see who were ready to support it. A dark-haired man whose bodily features by no means fitted the prototype of the fair-haired Aryan master race, arrogated to himself the gift of discovering the only doctrine adequate to the German mind and of expelling from the ranks of the Germans all those who did not accept this doctrine whatever their bodily characteristics might be. No further proof is needed of the insincerity of the whole doctrine.

G.

Gottfried on the Politically Correct Political Spectrum

Writing a long essay on Paul Gottfried’s Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, came across this gem:

_________

Today the Center Left criticizes the Center Right for being objectively racist, sexist, or homophobic, that is, for not being sufficiently supportive of compensatory justice and affirmative action. It also accuses “conservatives” of issuing coded remarks about minorities by playing up “crime” and “family values,” unless it decides to appropriate the same code words for itself. Meanwhile “conservatives” scold their opponents for “misinterpreting” the achievements of the civil rights movement, by wrongly associating that noble crusade with “reverse discrimination.” They also maintain that “liberals” insult the legacy of the women’s movement by falsely imagining that working women want more, and not less, economic control by the state. Whether or not the arguments that come from both sides are disingenuous is beside the point: Whatever crusades against discrimination have been launched by the administrative state since the 1960s have become a sacred legacy—and one that only those who are condemned as hopelessly bigoted would challenge.

While American parties and ideologues wrangle about governmental regulation of business and abortion, or whether the distribution of firearms among the populace should be more or less restricted, agreement has been achieved on what European social critics call “la culture unique.” All respectable members of the political culture profess sensitivity on minority issues, call for open borders or “universal nations,” and deplore the opening of moral questions that should have been settled by the awareness of past collective wrongs. Such sins include, but are not exhausted by, sexism, homophobia, slavery, and a by now multifunctional Holocaust, guilt for which has been ascribed to Jewish indifference as well as to Christian malice. The facing of these catastrophes, as an unsubdued past, requires a vigilant, progressive state. Its intervention, moreover, is viewed not as a settled matter but as something that must go on continuously, lest bad habits come to the surface. Thus we read about the renewal of agencies to police once discriminatory voting districts in the American South, and about perpetual federal and state commissions to ensure minority representation both in the workforce and at educational institutions. In Europe judges and state officials make object lessons of those who question details of the Holocaust, deprecate Islamic theology, or propose to restrict immigration.

[…]

Such interventions by political authorities do not arouse widespread protest from American citizens. For all their complaints about “political correctness,” moderate conservatives, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and contributors to the National Association of Scholars’ periodical, Academic Questions, do not devote their primary attention to the government’s control of speech and behavior. The battle between supporters and opponents of political correctness is thought to be taking place among warring cultural elites. Moderate conservatives see themselves as contending with New Class intellectuals, but they try not to express a negative attitude toward the American state. It is grievously wrong, according to Will, for conservatives to exhibit “blanket disdain for government and hence for the political vocation.” To the moderate Right, it seems better to expose what it views as corrosive cultural influences, particularly those associated with postmodernism, than to treat the state with unseemly suspicion. Not political administrations but literary critics and philosophers who do not accept moral absolutes or else who question the goodness of American democracy are allegedly the creators of our present communal problems.

But the state, whose power to “legislate morality” Will praised in regard to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can and does bend culture. This happens repeatedly in the United States and is illustrated further by a judicial act imposed on South Germans, for the most part against their will, in 1995. At that time Germany’s highest appellate court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, went against Bavaria’s ministry of education by requiring that crucifixes and other devotional objects be removed from public school classrooms. Although the German Basic Law of 1949 protects religious freedom, such freedom was not held to conflict with the practice of hanging crucifixes in Bavarian classrooms. The Bavarian ministry of education and religion, in paragraph 13 of its legal code, provides for this custom in “supporting those eligible for educational benefits in the religious instruction of their children.” “A profoundly Catholic region and the second largest of Germany’s Länder, Bavaria has usually enjoyed at the hands of the German federal government benign neglect with respect to its culture. Quite deliberately until now the federal administration has avoided tampering with Bavarian religious life, a practice that even the Nazi government hesitated to initiate.

S.

Social Justice Issues and Reality

I’m currently writing a longer article on the themes touched on by Paul Gottfried in his magnificent Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, and I came across the following quote. I find this particularly important because it’s something that I’ve noticed myself but haven’t quite been able to put into words.

[Richard] Rorty also contends that there is no use asking about “the way the world is” apart from human decisions that affect that world (whatever it may ultimately be). Those who like Plato have posed metaphysical questions were often pushing “authoritarian,” “theocentric” agendas. It is therefore better to work toward improving human affairs than to speculate about the nature of reality. Like self-described pluralists and multiculturalists, Rorty does not shrink back from talking about “social justice” or from identifying that preferred value with those he fancies, although he does insist, like his idol John Dewey, that objective reality is a “relic of Platonic other-worldliness.”

This is a good example of why Jordan Peterson was making little traction with Cathy Newman in the now viral interview. It isn’t just some cheap shot against leftists to say “your views aren’t based in reality.” Sometimes, however, this is a real point: they don’t consider the world as it is. Here is what I said about the Peterson/Newman dual:

Part of the reason for [why there are more male CEOs in the FTSE 100], Peterson explains, is that men tend to have a personality better suited for adapting to the fierce nature of big business competition. It’s an incredibly pressuring world in which individuals do almost anything to get to the top– blood, sweat, tears, exhaustion, bribes, blackmail, and so on. That’s just the way it is. Not only do men seem to be more representative of people with such a personality, there seems to be an increased willingness by men, compared to women, to endure such conditions. Hence, the make-up of the gender representation in these positions. If women are going to achieve these positions and engage in the ferocious battles for corporate power, they need to adopt these traits. This is what Peterson was indicating he has helped women do. This means that Peterson is a realist. He sees the way things are, and he observes that he has prospective clients who want help adapting, and he helps them do it.

Cathy Newman, on the other hand, besides being flustered that Peterson had the audacity to explain the way things are, responded with something to this effect: well what if we can change the culture of the corporate world such that they adapted more of a feminine-friendly environment? Peterson responded as an objective scientist: go for it. I’m just dealing with things as they are.

R.

Robert Reich, Non-Economist

Been thinking about responding more to Robert Reich’s inane videos on Facebook, but I wonder if he is someone worth the time and emotion. He really represents the social democratic narrative in his simplistic, assertion-driven appeals to the economic dolts of society. I did pick up his book, which is not much better than his videos, but perhaps a refutation is on the horizon.

In any case, check this out:

Consider the third sentence, first paragraph.

Now consider the second sentence, third paragraph.

Tax cuts don’t lead to more investment.

Tax cuts lead to more investment.

As written, this is a contradiction of Reichian proportions.

While someone with Neo-Marxist leanings, Reich is also a mercantilist. He thinks that if investments are being made (of course, he never mentions the regulatory disadvantages of investing in the USA) elsewhere around the world, this is somehow a detriment on the American society. However, by increasing the supply of goods in the world economy as a whole, this makes everyone wealthier (except where governments fight back and restrict trade). That is, it is precisely because “money is global” that the economy is global and therefore there is a widespread beneficiary base of the capitalist’s investment.

P.

PFS 2018 Speakers/Topics

Hans Hoppe’s Property and Freedom Society annual meeting for 2018 looks like an interesting lineup of speakers and topics. Nice that Jeff Deist is attending, with a great topic. Interesting that Michael Malice got an invite. The great Paul Gottfried is back and I always love hearing what he has to say.

I dream of one day attending this. I would gladly attend– membership is by invite only, however.