Not a Good Summary of Libertarianism

Here is a sentiment, often seen in Facebook comments, that does not accurately reflect libertarianism, though it is portrayed to: “As a libertarian, I don’t care what he does.” To clarify, this is not exactly what the libertarian qua libertarianism should say. Here is what it should say: “As a libertarian, I don’t believe he should be coerced to not conduct himself in that way, on his own property or the property of another who agrees to let him do it.” Just rolls of the tongue don’t it?

In any case, as libertarians, we are allowed to “care” about what other people do, we are allowed to have opinions on their behavior, we are allowed to make judgements about the consequences of behavior, we are allowed to shake our heads in disgust, preach against it, and so on. Libertarians don’t have to refuse to make utilitarian or moral judgements about behavior just because we believe coercion is wrong.

Tom Woods and Margit von Mises Remember Betinna

Tom Woods and Margit von Mises Remember Betinna

The liberty movement lost a hero this week in the death of Bettina Bien Greaves. She was key –vital– to the legacy of Ludwig von Mises. Here is Margit von Mises, reflecting on Bettina in Mrs. Mises’ biography:

Then there was Bettina Bien, now Bettina Bien-Greaves. She first came to the seminar in 1951 and attended it to the last session, not missing a single meeting. She is one of those rare individuals who combine intelligence and mental curiosity with warmth and understanding of human nature. With the passing of the years, she became a household word with Lu and me. If there was any infor- mation Lu needed, any refreshing of his memory, he would say, “Call Bettina,” and surely enough she had the answer.

After four or five years in the seminar, Bettina took her seat next to Lu, taking notes in shorthand-and no one would have dared to contest for that seat. I spoke first to Bettina in 1952 during a semi- nar in California. At that time she was still rather quiet, hardly asking any questions. But later, working with tremendous zeal, studying Lu’s books from beginning to end, reading them again and again, her inner security grew in relation to her knowledge. She wrote an excellent bibliography of Lu’s work, and for his ninetieth birthday she catalogued-with my permission and with- out Lu’s knowledge-his whole library of about 6000 volumes, to Lu’s greatest surprise and delight.

And here Tom Woods writes the following in his email today:
___________________________________

Many of the libertarian greats lived to ripe old ages. F.A. Hayek was nearly 93 when he died. Ludwig von Mises was 92. Henry Hazlitt was 98.

Bettina Bien Greaves, whom we lost this week, was 100.

Bettina spent many years at the Foundation for Economic Education, and was a senior scholar of the Mises Institute. She was an important assistant to Ludwig von Mises, whose New York University seminar she attended, and she went on to become a translator, editor, and bibliographer of his work.

And although a sweet woman, she was tough as nails when it came to principle.

I had very pleasant interactions with Bettina over the years. She was a big fan of my Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, at a time when fashionable libertarians couldn’t run away from it fast enough.

I fondly recall our dinner together after she came to hear me speak at Furman University.

She once wrote to tell me she loved my book Meltdown, but that I was making an unnecessary concession to the interventionists:

Your book is excellent! 

But I don’t think you should cede “flexibility” to the expansionists.  Gold money is flexible, not quantity-wise as is paper/credit “money.”   Gold money’s flexibility is revealed in its purchasing power.  The Fed and Keynesians want the quantity to be “flexible” to keep up with increases in population and production, but that plays havoc with its purchasing power.  However, the purchasing power of gold money is flexible, and that is what counts.  As people bid more or less for gold money, in response to supply and demand, the same unit/quantity of gold is, in effect, MORE; it buys more and raises living standards. 

I asked for her opinion about Pearl Harbor, since her husband had been a noted revisionist on the subject. She wrote:

Although Washington KNEW the Japanese were going to attack somewhere circa December 7, and there was good reason to suspect they were likely to target the fleet at Pearl Harbor, the strongest evidence pinpointing the U.S. as Japan’s target, “disappeared” from the files. Washington sent Pearl Harbor no hint of the many warnings received in Washington and Pearl Harbor was deprived of men, ships, and planes that it had asked for continually. Admiral Kimmel in Pearl had been instructed to prepare for taking offensive action.    

FDR was obviously anxious to get into the war on behalf of England — in the Atlantic to help Britain or in the Pacific to help the British and Dutch in SE Asia, Singapore and Indonesia. He had prepared an address to Congress that he intended to give on December 8-9 announcing the launching of a pre-emptive strike against the Japanese, to help our friends the British and Dutch being threatened by the Japanese in S.E. Asia. But the Japanese jumped the gun by attacking Pearl on December 7. 

 My conclusion — the attack on Pearl Harbor was FDR’s EXCUSE, not his REASON, for going to war against Japan. 

The cover-up is another question. Messages disappeared. Witnesses changed their stories. Some witnesses were said to have reported that the saintly General Marshall had ordered the destruction of crucial files and then the witnesses denied emphatically that they would ever say any such thing about such a noble patriot as Marshall. But neither General Marshall nor Navy Chief of Staff could ever recall anything about where they were when crucial warning arrived in Washington. 

I was glad to hear you speak and to have a chance to talk with you last week.

We need more Bettinas. Requiescat in pace.

Should Rand’s Attacker Face Federal Charges?

Should Rand’s Attacker Face Federal Charges?

Rand Paul’s neighbor, who physically attacked Paul last year, damaging lungs and ribs, is now facing federal charges. This is because Paul is a Senator. This could mean up to 10 years in prison and $250k fine. Although it looks like prosecutors are seeking a 21-month sentence.

Sympathetic as some libertarians might be for Paul, due to his (imperfect) libertarian tendencies, this should be seen as ridiculous. For one thing, we just today published a case for “restoring the victim’s rights in the criminal justice system.” There is no just reason why the government should be able to siphon a quarter million dollars for its own coffers, as it was not the victim. Further, prison as a consequence for a criminal act such as this is, in effect, making the non-criminals in society, including the victim himself, cover the costs of living for the criminal!

Murray Rothbard makes the same point in his For a New Liberty:

Moreover, in the system of criminal punishment in the libertarian world, the emphasis would never be, as it is now, on “society’s” jailing the criminal; the emphasis would necessarily be on compelling the criminal to make restitution to the victim of his crime. The present system, in which the victim is not recompensed but instead has to pay taxes to support the incarceration of his own attacker—would be evident nonsense in a world that focuses on the defense of property rights and therefore on the victim of crime.

Additionally, this is a great example of how nationalized law has become. Clearly this is a matter for the locality in which Paul and his attacker reside.

Besides these points, the libertarian should find it unjust that the Senator is a separate class of citizen such that crimes committed against him deserve a unique set of consequences. This is completely at odds with the libertarian idea that government officials are not to be categorized under separate laws. Hans Hoppe:

In a private law society every individual and institution is subject to one and the same set of laws. No public law granting privileges to specific persons or functions exists in this society. There is only private law (and private property), equally applicable to each and everyone.

The consequences for assaulting Rand Paul, myself, some poor old lady, Donald Trump, and so on, should all be similar (reflective of the crime, not the victim).

It’s a bummer that this happened to Rand for sure. Still, principles must reign supreme.

Jordan Peterson, Hero

Jordan Peterson, Hero

You’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the existence of a rising challenger to the modern intellectual status quo, Jordan Peterson. Peterson, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology in Canada has really impressed me with his latest interview, which is making the rounds online. It took me a while to really give him a chance, primarily because I have this weird thing about psychologists. But I’ve been blown away. Take the time to listen to this 25 minute interview and consider the extent to which he, objectively and without bias, calmly and rationally puts a leftist in her place.

What shocked me about this interview is the extent to which the interviewer literally could not comprehend what Peterson was saying. Aside from Peterson’s poise and logic, the most astounding thing about this conversation was that she couldn’t understand him. Tom Woods refers to a 3×5 card of approved opinion, and boy did she stick to it. She couldn’t wrap her brain around the extremely simple explanations that Peterson was going through in answer to her attempts to corner him. In response to nearly every answer, she shot some weird, completely unrelated non-summary of his views back at him. He couldn’t help but laugh. What are you talking about?!

In this video is a bifold lesson: 1) how to carry yourself and remain calm and cool (Peterson provides a great model) and 2) how intellectually lacking the left really is– this is really how they think. I think Peterson is a hero. He stands up for what he believes in and has been completely unwilling to give in to the most stunning narratives of our time. I promptly preordered his book as well.

Watching this was a tremendous use of my time and I usually can’t spare the time to watch 25 minutes of something like this. But I’m glad I did. For further reading on this interview, Dan Sanchez has a nice little commentary here. And the Atlantic published a longer analysis that made some great points, including this:

But what struck me, far more than any position he took, was the method his interviewer employed. It was the most prominent, striking example I’ve seen yet of an unfortunate trend in modern communication.

First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is as offensive, hostile, or absurd.

Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and various Fox News hosts all feature and reward this rhetorical technique. And the Peterson interview has so many moments of this kind that each successive example calls attention to itself until the attentive viewer can’t help but wonder what drives the interviewer to keep inflating the nature of Peterson’s claims, instead of addressing what he actually said.

Culture, Decentralization, and the Libertarian Movement

Culture, Decentralization, and the Libertarian Movement

In a recent article discussing the differences and nuances between two schools of “libertarian” (broadly conceived) thought, I pointed out that the camp to which I don’t belong (which includes Reason, Cato, SFL, and the Libertarian Party –and other “beltway libertarian” groups) was far less focused on principle and more on “keeping government competent,” which I complained was ambiguous and purposefully imprecise. I also mentioned in passing that there were some interesting, perhaps not so coincidental, cultural distinctions between the beltway libertarians and the Rothbardians.

The former seem obsessed with proving themselves as enthusiasts of cultural liberalism, political correctness, and social leftism. They go out of the way to announce just how progressive they are on homosexuality, drug use, sexual proclivity, racism, slavery, and so on. The usual leftist talking points.

Those Rothbardians closely associated with the Mises Institute, however, express concerns about the degradation of western culture, about the loss of the influence of religion on society (not to be confused with the cozy relationship of religious groups with the state– which has summarily and in retrospect been both bad on the statism front, as well as on the religious front), and also about the frightening rise of political correctness. In short, the Mises libertarians, as were Mises and Rothbard, are far more culturally conservative. As Hans Hoppe once noted of this strain of libertarian thought:

Rothbard’s own life-long cultural conservatism notwithstanding, however, from its beginnings in the late 1960s and the founding of a libertarian party in 1971, the libertarian movement had great appeal to many of the counter-cultural Left that had then grown up in the United States in opposition to the war in Vietnam. Did not the illegitimacy of the state and the non-aggression axiom imply that everyone was at liberty to choose his very own non-aggressive lifestyle, no matter what it was?

Much of Rothbard’s later writings, with their increased emphasis on cultural matters, were designed to correct this development and to explain the error in the idea of a leftist multi-counter-cultural libertarianism, of libertarianism as a variant of libertinism. It was false — empirically as well as normatively — that libertarianism could or should be combined with egalitarian multiculturalism. Both were in fact sociologically incompatible, and libertarianism could and should be combined exclusively with traditional Western bourgeois culture; that is, the old-fashioned ideal of a family-based and hierarchically structured society of voluntarily acknowledged rank orders of social authority.

Empirically, Rothbard did not tire to explain, the left-libertarians failed to recognize that the restoration of private-property rights and laissez-faire economics implied a sharp and drastic increase in social “discrimination.” Private property means the right to exclude. The modern social-democratic welfare state has increasingly stripped private-property owners of their right to exclude.

In distinct contrast, a libertarian society where the right to exclude was fully restored to owners of private property would be profoundly unegalitarian. To be sure, private property also implies the owner’s right to include and to open and facilitate access to one’s property, and every private-property owner also faces an economic incentive of including (rather than excluding) so long as he expects this to increase the value of his property.

From Hans Hoppe’s Introduction to Rothbard’s Ethics of Liberty

On a closely related front, and the inspiration for this short blogpost, one of the things you’ll notice of many of the beltway libertarians is their clear refusal to embrace secessionism and decentralization. They want freedom mandated and overseen from the Great Throne in DC. They are hesitant about states-rights, and only use it sometimes as a helpful tool. They’d prefer, however, for the Federal government to enforce freedom from Washington and overstep the decisions of more local governments. Of course, the libertarian rejects a good majority of the decisions of state and county level governments; but for the decentralist libertarian, it is safer that a government over a smaller jurisdiction make mistakes than set in habit the intervention from the Capitol.

This phenomenon of decentralist vs centralist “libertarian” (again, broadly conceived) can be seen in the tension between decentralists like Tom Woods and his nullification efforts vs. the establishment libertarians who, in all-out leftist form, immediately cry racism! slavery! whenever Woods and company spread the nullification message.

Many of these nationalistic libertarians (I use this phrase carefully– I’m not referring to them as nationalists in the fascistic sense of the word, just that they prefer to focus on the policies of the national government, rather than nullification local government-led change) such as Austin Petersen and his appropriately named (this always bugged me) Libertarian Republic website (AKA “The Clickbait Republic”), prefer the 14th amendment over the 10th amendment. This is a curious phenomenon that I’ve observed, and will hopefully have more reflections on in the future.

At any rate, I call them the “incorporationist libertarians” as they toe the Incorporation Doctrine argument (built on the 14th amendment) that the Bill of Rights is not strictly about keeping the Federal Government out of the liberties of the people, but rather, that the Bill of Rights should sometimes be enforced by the Federal Government against State governments.  One incorporation libertarian, interestingly, is Judge Andrew Napolitano. This is a very fascinating debate, and I will not undertake it here. But I will express my opinion and observation; namely, that the incorporation libertarians tend to be the same as the beltway libertarians, many of whom stand opposed to secessionism and nullification as the chief means toward liberty and keeping the Federal Government out. For the decentralist libertarians, following theorists like Hans Hoppe and his secessionist method of political change, keeping the bigger government out of local affairs is far more important than trusting them to solve local problems, even where the local government is clearly wrong.

One of the groups I forgot to mention in my previous article was the Koch-funded George Mason University economists, who are closely linked to the Cato/Reason type libertarians. I noticed in a Bloomberg piece recently that GMU’s Tyler Cowen, who tries to pawn himself off as Austrian economics-friendly (but really isn’t even close) opposes the separation of Britain from the umbrella of the European Union. Conversely, see some of the Mises Institute’s opinions here, here, here, and here. Interesting indeed. This seems to support my opinion that the beltway libertarians prefer large political unions over secession, localism, and so on.

The point of all this is not to prove that the decentralists are more right than the centralists, though I certainly think they are. The point is merely to share some more of my observations about the culture, methods, and frameworks employed by two camps of libertarians (The Mises Institute circles and the Koch Brothers circles).

The Hoppean Stamp of Approval

The Hoppean Stamp of Approval

Hans Hoppe is out with a new miniature essay, titled “On Getting Libertarian Right.” Libertarianism as a movement, he says, has been corrupted by the same disease plaguing Western Civilization in general: cultural leftism. There are those, the popular branches, operating under the phrase libertarian but who misconstrue our beloved doctrine into an egalitarian mess.

Libertarianism, a political theory, is strictly related to the question of the proper use of coercion in society. However, there are those who want to blur the lines of its boundaries and extend its meaning into an acceptance and appreciation for all sorts of culturally leftist trends and habits. This is mistake number one.

After we correct mistake number one, by distinguishing between libertarianism as a political theory and libertarian strategy (how to achieve our goals), we must move on to a proper– and “realistic” path forward. Here, Hoppe challenges the idea that a libertarian order can be accomplished only if we embrace the present social movement against traditional western values. Moreover, in radical dissent from the social status quo, advocates secession, nullification, decentralization, and a grand opposition to global government in our time.

He writes:

In light of these observations, it should become rather obvious why the left-libertarian program does not and cannot achieve the supposedly libertarian end of a State-less social order, but, to the contrary, will lead to a further expansion of monopolistic State powers.

“Free” mass immigration from the non-Western world, “multiculturalism,” “affirmative action,” “non-discrimination,” the propagation of “openness” to “diversity” and “alternative life-styles,” to “feminism” and “gay- and gender-ism,” and of “anti-authoritarianism,” – they all are and must be seen as means to further diminish whatever little discretionary, discriminatory and exclusionary powers still remain in Western societies in the hands of non-monopolistic social authorities and hierarchies of social authority, and to correspondingly expand and increase the powers centralized, concentrated and monopolized in the hands of the State.

He finishes his essay with a handful of Hoppe-endorsed sites, promoting libertarianism as it ought to be (bold added):

For more than two decades, following in Rothbard’s footsteps, I have tried to get libertarianism right again – most prominently with my Democracy – The God That Failed (2001) – in complementing libertarian theory with social realism (history, psychology and sociology), and to rescue libertarianism from left-libertarian flakes and fakes and repair the public misperception that they are and represent what libertarianism is all about. The reaction to these endeavors – in particular Rothbard’s and mine – from the side of left-libertarians has been furious. This notwithstanding, however, they were instrumental in that today, among self-described libertarians, left-libertarianism is in retreat, while the influence of realistic-right libertarianism has steadily grown.

Throughout the entire period, the Ludwig von Mises Institute – mises.org – and Lew Rockwell – lewrockwell.com – have stood out as bulwarks against the infiltration of libertarianism by leftist thought. As well, Ilana Mercer has been an early critic of left-libertarianism with her paleo-libertarian blog – barelyablog.com. More recently, outlets for explicitly and decidedly anti-leftist libertarian thought have proliferated. There is “Bionic Mosquito” with his blog –bionicmosquito.blogspot.com. There is Sean Gabb’s and now Keir Martland’s British Ludwig von Mises Centre – mises.uk.org. There is [C.]Jay Engel’s blog – austrolibertarian.com. There is Matthew Reece’s site – zerothposition.com – and Chase Rachels’ radicalcapitalist.org. There is Robert Taylor’s excellent and highly important book Reactionary Liberty: The Libertarian Counter-Revolution (2016). And there is Stefan Molyneux with his show on freedomainradio.com and Tom Woods with his show on tomwoods.com.

I am honored and flattered that a hero of mine, the preeminent Rothbardian of our time and an Austro-Libertarian par excellence, has noticed and endorsed our site. What a motivation for increased output!

Crime is in Terms of the Individual

Crime is in Terms of the Individual

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.

Watching Iran

Watching Iran

The US and Israeli governments have long wanted an excuse to militarily confront Iran, but it’s been a difficult situation. Now that there seems to be a popular uprising, a sudden collection of intense protests which even include some deaths, the Iranian government is under pressure to make zero mistakes. Any misstep could initiate foreign intervention. Of course, these protests should be held with suspicion.

The US and Israel love to initiate and support activities like this, stirring up trouble as an excuse for explicit intervention.

For instance, the hugely important Ukraine coup was the work of the West.

Already, Netanyahu has jumped to the support of the protesters. Even Hillary is throwing her support into the ring– a scary sign if there ever was one:

Whether this is authentic or not remains to be seen. Whatever the case, Iranian intervention seems to loom. Daniel Larison of TAC offers some advice:

The key thing that U.S. politicians and policymakers need to keep in mind is that internal protests in Iran are not about us, and they are not an “opportunity” for us to exploit. The U.S. should publicly say as little as possible about the protests except to condemn the use of force against peaceful protesters, and it should not otherwise attempt to insert itself into the situation or interfere. There is not much that the U.S. could practically do in any case, and none of it would be helpful or constructive. The Trump administration in particular has no credibility with Iranians, and any expressions of support it offers are likely both unwanted by and harmful to the intended recipients.

The administration cannot ban Iranians from the U.S. at the start of the year, and then suddenly pretend that it respects them and supports their aspirations at the end. It will be a serious error if the Trump administration concludes that the U.S. needs to “make up” for Obama’s handling of the Green movement protests, but after eight years of hawkish myth-making they might do exactly that. It would be far wiser and better for the U.S. and the Iranian people if our government allowed events in Iran to unfold without comment from Washington.

Anti-German Propaganda and the Roots of Western Messianism

Anti-German Propaganda and the Roots of Western Messianism

The title of this post certainly promises more than the post delivers. But after my previous excerpt on the matter of Churchill, I was motivated to follow it up with a few miscellaneous thoughts I’ve had as of recent.

First, Hoppe mentioned in his celebration of Murray Rothbard earlier this year, that the two of them were Germanophiles– lovers of the culture, music, mannerisms, and contributions of the German people. While many likely dismissed this as just an irrelevant memory of Hoppe’s, it quite intrigued me. In the post-Hitler west, we live in the context of the fruits of anti-German sentiments. The entire push for WWII, both in the US and British world, was partly built on an anti-German narrative. Hence Albert Jay Nock’s opposition to America’s involvement being titled Myth of a Guilty Nation.

Germany was seen as the cause of strife and conflict. Germany was blamed for WWI, the German people were considered backward and unenlightened, unappreciative of the glories of a Progressive view of the world. This was Progressive propaganda in its infancy. Today, we are told all sorts of terrible things about the south, conservatives, individualists, and social traditionalists. Anyone who dissents from Anglo-American variety therapeutic statism is labelled a bigot, and et cetera.

So it was the same during the early twentieth century, with the Germans as the great enemy of Progress. Hitler, of course, was the result of humiliating an entire people group. People like to compare the so-called and over-hyped “alt-right” as a return to Hitlerism. If this is true, which I think is quite apocalyptic, perhaps we might consider what happens when you throw stones at beehives. Hitlerism was not a random situation; he was an effect (a terrible effect), from a cause.

In any case, socialism in the Anglo-sphere came about due to Fabianism. Fabianism was socialism for the west— it appealed to the wealthy elite, the progressive and leftist culture of media, of the University. It pompously looked down on unEnlightened, non-diverse, and homogenous cultures of places like Germany. The allied victory was an achievement for Fabian Progressivism, both economically and culturally (it shouldn’t need to be said that I’m therefore somehow a supporter of the Central Powers). Our own socialization trend, today, is of the Fabian style.

The anti-German sentiment, of course, never went away upon the victory of the Anglo-Americans. As I described (quoting Philip Bagus) recently, Germanophobia was shamelessly leveraged at the dawn of the Euro as a new currency:

German politicians tried to convince their constituency with an absurd argument: They claimed that the Euro was necessary for maintaining peace in Europe. Former president Richard von Weizsäcker wrote that a political union implied an established monetary union, and that it would be necessary to maintain peace, seeing as Germany’s central position in Europe had led to two World Wars. Social democrat Günther Verheugen, in an outburst of arrogance and paternalism typical of the political class, claimed in a speech before the German parliament: “A strong, united Germany can easily—as history teaches—become a danger for itself and others.” Both men had forgotten that after the unification, Germany was not as big as it had been before World War II. Moreover, they did not acknowledge that the situation was quite different in other ways. Militarily, Germany was vastly inferior to France and Great Britain, and was still occupied by foreign troops. And after the war the allies had reeducated the Germans in the direction of socialism, progressivism and pacifism—to ward off any military opposition.

The implicit blaming of Germany for World War II and making gains as a result was a tactic that the political class had often used. Now the implicit argument was that because of World War II and because of Auschwitz in particular, Germany had to give up the Deutschmark as a step toward political union. Here were paternalism and a culture of guilt at their best.

Thus, if you prefer localism over globalism, aren’t head over heels on Progressive cultural ideals, and desire a military that defends the homeland over one that travels the world looking to “help,” you are guilty of various forms of bigotry— just as such guilt was thrown under the feet of Germans for so long.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means an Anglo-phobe. I happen to appreciate, in several ways, British history and influence (minus any examples of statism). Of course, a good Hoppean, I prefer the monarchy and the tradition of private government over the necessarily statist and socialized Parliament which, being a democratic form of government, is always bound to make the State more influential in the world. One might even argue that without the rise of democratic government, the monarchical ties between Britain and Germany would not have been severely damaged and the two nations might have remained at peace during the worst era of statism the world has ever known.

It’s interesting how decivilization follows democratization. Just as Hoppe said it would.

Churchill as Man of the State

Churchill as Man of the State

There’s been a lot of Churchill lately. I’ve been watching The Crown on Netflix and of course post-WWII Churchill is a key character. There’s also the new film Darkest Hour, which is about the heroism of early Churchill, during the Hitler years. In preparation for going to see the latter movie, I’ve opened the great Pat Buchanan book to refresh my mind of the context. And I just read the late Ralph Raico’s dissident take on the man, who he described as follows:

When, in a very few years, the pundits start to pontificate on the great question: “Who was the Man of the Century?” there is little doubt that they will reach virtually instant consensus. Inevitably, the answer will be: Winston Churchill. Indeed, Professor Harry Jaffa has already informed us that Churchill was not only the Man of the Twentieth Century, but the Man of Many Centuries.

In a way, Churchill as Man of the Century will be appropriate. This has been the century of the State — of the rise and hypertrophic growth of the welfare-warfare state — and Churchill was from first to last a Man of the State, of the welfare state and of the warfare state. War, of course, was his lifelong passion; and, as an admiring historian has written: “Among his other claims to fame, Winston Churchill ranks as one of the founders of the welfare state.” Thus, while Churchill never had a principle he did not in the end betray, this does not mean that there was no slant to his actions, no systematic bias. There was, and that bias was towards lowering the barriers to state power.

[…]

Yet, in truth, Churchill never cared a great deal about domestic affairs, even welfarism, except as a means of attaining and keeping office. What he loved was power, and the opportunities power provided to live a life of drama and struggle and endless war.

There is a way of looking at Winston Churchill that is very tempting: that he was a deeply flawed creature, who was summoned at a critical moment to do battle with a uniquely appalling evil, and whose very flaws contributed to a glorious victory — in a way, like Merlin, in C.S. Lewis’s great Christian novel, That Hideous Strength.169 Such a judgment would, I believe, be superficial. A candid examination of his career, I suggest, yields a different conclusion: that, when all is said and done, Winston Churchill was a Man of Blood and a politico without principle, whose apotheosis serves to corrupt every standard of honesty and morality in politics and history.

Skousen on the Tom Woods Show– The Bull Market in Stocks

Skousen on the Tom Woods Show– The Bull Market in Stocks

A quick thought on Tom‘s Skousen podcast today. Skousen expressed dissent from the general tendency amongst Austrians to always be fearing the next financial bust, instead arguing that people ought to invest in the markets. He argues that the reason the US stock markets constantly do well year over year is because we are still a relatively capitalistic economy with enough freedom to encourage capital accumulation and profits, reflected in rising asset prices.
 
This is the type of thinking that I wanted to disagree with in my recent piece at Mises.org. I dont think this is why the markets seem to be forever on an upward trajectory. I think that the result of the nature of the Fed’s monetary expansion post 1980s is why the stock market seems to go up in perpetuity (with a handful of hiccups along the way of course). It has nothing to do with “free enterprise.”
 
I agree with Skousen that Austrians shouldn’t be so bear-market-oriented, but the reason for this is because of the power of the Fed and its Open Market Operations, not capitalism. I’ve been talking about this in depth with Robert Blumen, and it’s remarkable that not very many Austrians see the market as a result of the shift in the way government deficits have been funded since the Volcker years.
 
If anyone is interested in exploring this phenomenon in further detail, see the links in my article, but more importantly, David Stockman describes this transition in The Great Deformation in the section on the T-Bill Standard.

Hoppe on Milton Friedman and the Drift Toward Statism

From Natural Elites, Intellectuals, and the State:

This seemingly unstoppable drift toward statism is illustrated by the fate of the so-called Chicago School: Milton Friedman, his predecessors, and his followers. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Chicago School was still considered left-fringe, and justly so, considering that Friedman, for instance, advocated a central bank and paper money instead of a gold standard. He wholeheartedly endorsed the principle of the welfare state with his proposal of a guaranteed minimum income (negative income tax) on which he could not set a limit. He advocated a progressive income tax to achieve his explicitly egalitarian goals (and he personally helped implement the withholding tax). Friedman endorsed the idea that the State could impose taxes to fund the production of all goods that had a positive neighborhood effect or which he thought would have such an effect. This implies, of course, that there is almost nothing that the state can not tax-fund!

In addition, Friedman and his followers were proponents of the shallowest of all shallow philosophies: ethical and epistemological relativism. There is no such thing as ultimate moral truths and all of our factual, empirical knowledge is at best only hypothetically true. Yet they never doubted that there must be a state, and that the state must be democratic.

Today, half a century later, the Chicago-Friedman school, without having essentially changed any of its positions, is regarded as right-wing and free-market. Indeed, the school defines the borderline of respectable opinion on the political Right, which only extremists cross. Such is the magnitude of the change in public opinion that public employees have brought about.

The Very Best H.L Mencken Quotes

Mencken was one of the most important social critics and columnists in American history. His prose and ability to craft remarkable sentences are now of legend.  He was well known for covering the Scopes trial (it is popularly known as the “monkey trial” –this was Mencken’s doing). Here is Murray Rothbard’s essay on Mencken: “H.L. Mencken: The Joyous Libertarian.”

Here are my favorite quotes of Mencken’s:

  • “A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.”urgetosavemencken1
  • “Democracy is an art of governing the circus from the monkey’s cage.”
  • “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”
  • “The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself… Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”
  • “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
  • “I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air– that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is also progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight measure, is bound to become a slave.”
  • “The truth, indeed, is something that mankind, for some mysterious reason, instinctively dislikes. Every man who tries to tell it is unpopular, and even when, by the sheer strength of his case, he prevails, he is put down as a scoundrel.”
  • “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre….”
  • “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
  • “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.”mencken-dressed-up1024x675
  • “The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.”
  • “It is [a politician’s] business to get and hold his job at all costs. If he can hold it by lying, he will hold it by lying; if lying peters out, he will try to hold it by embracing new truths. His ear is ever close to the ground.”
  • “Public opinion, in its raw state, gushes out in the immemorial form of the mob’s fear. It is piped into central factories, and there it is flavoured and coloured and put into cans.”
  • “I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.”
  • “The state… consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting ‘A’ to satisfy ‘B’. In other words, [the state] is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods.”
  • “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”
  • “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins.”
  • “The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
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