Thanks to Bionic Mosquito for offering a comment about the AL Mag and Ben’s essay within. As always, his reflections on these issues are worth the read.
Are you ready? We aren’t. But you should be.
Tom had me on his show today to discuss my essay on Fusionism, which was published in the inaugural issue of our AL Mag publication. We talk about the relationship between virtue and liberty in the thought of Frank Meyer, and other traditionalist conservatives. The link is TomWoods.com/1340. Thanks to Tom!
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.
From Planned Chaos, which itself is an excerpt of Mises’s Socialism treatise.
Nothing is more unpopular today than the free market economy, i.e., capitalism. Everything that is considered unsatisfactory in present-day conditions is charged to capitalism.
The atheists make capitalism responsible for the survival of Christianity. But the papal encyclicals blame capitalism for the spread of irreligion and the sins of our contemporaries, and the Protestant churches and sects are no less vigorous in their indictment of capitalist greed. Friends of peace consider our wars as an offshoot of capitalist imperialism. But the adamant nationalist warmongers of Germany and Italy indicted capitalism for its “bourgeois” pacifism, contrary to human nature and to the inescapable laws of history. Sermonizers accuse capitalism of disrupting the family and fostering licentiousness. But the “progressives” blame capitalism for the preservation of allegedly outdated rules of sexual restraint.
Almost all men agree that poverty is an outcome of capitalism. On the other hand many deplore the fact that capitalism, in catering lavishly to the wishes of people intent upon getting more amenities and a better living, promotes a crass materialism. These contradictory accusations of capitalism cancel one another. But the fact remains that there are few people left who would not condemn capitalism altogether.
The characteristic mark of this age of dictators, wars and revolutions is its anti-capitalistic bias. Most governments and political parties are eager to restrict the sphere of private initiative and free enterprise. It is an almost unchallenged dogma that capitalism is done for and that the coming of all-round regimentation of economic activities is both inescapable and highly desirable.
None the less capitalism is still very vigorous in the Western Hemisphere. Capitalist production has made very remarkable progress even in these last years. Methods of production were greatly improved. Consumers have been supplied with better and cheaper goods and with many new articles unheard of a short time ago. Many countries have expanded the size and improved the quality of their manufacturing. In spite of the anti-capitalistic policies of all governments and of almost all political parties, the capitalist mode of production is in many countries still fulfilling its social function in supplying the consumers with more, better and cheaper goods.
It is certainly not a merit of governments, politicians and labour union officers that the standard of living is improving in the countries committed to the principle of private ownership of the means of production. Not offices and bureaucrats, but big business deserves credit for the fact that most of the families in the United States own a motor car and a radio set. The increase in per capita consumption in America as compared with conditions a quarter of a century ago is not an achievement of laws and executive orders. It is an accomplishment of business men who enlarged the size of their factories or built new ones.
One must stress this point because our contemporaries are inclined to ignore it. Entangled in the superstitions of statism and government omnipotence, they are exclusively preoccupied with governmental measures. They expect everything from authoritarian action and very little from the initiative of enterprising citizens. Yet, the only means to increase well-being is to increase the quantity of products. This is what business aims at.
The dogma that the State or the Government is the embodiment of all that is good and beneficial and that the individuals are wretched underlings, exclusively intent upon inflicting harm upon one another and badly in need of a guardian, is almost unchallenged. It is taboo to question it in the slightest way. He who proclaims the godliness of the State and the infallibility of its priests, the bureaucrats, is considered as an impartial student of the social sciences. All those raising objections are branded as biased and narrow-minded. The supporters of the new religion of statolatry are no less fanatical and intolerant than were the Mohammedan conquerors of Africa and Spain.
History will call our age the age of the dictators and tyrants. We have witnessed in the last years the fall of two of these inflated supermen. But the spirit which raised these knaves to autocratic power survives. It permeates textbooks and periodicals, it speaks through the mouths of teachers and politicians, it manifests itself in party programmes and in plays and novels. As long as this spirit prevails there cannot be any hope of durable peace,… of the preservation of freedom or of a steady improvement in the nation’s economic well-being.
I always hear the alleged statistic that 97% of scientists believe in man made global warming– which is now “climate change” because the experts couldn’t predict the temperature trends, the financial crisis, Hillary’s defeat…. Anyways, I am summarizing the problems with that statistic for my own future reference, and for yours. You’re welcome.
I will quote from John Kerry, as he summarizes the claim succinctly: “97 percent of climate scientists have confirmed that climate change is happening and that human activity is responsible… they agree that, if we continue to go down the same path that we are going down today, the world as we know if will change– and it will change dramatically for the worse.”
The 97% statistic originally came from a 2013 study led by John Cook.
First of all, as Alex Epstein clearly explains in his book the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (highly recommended), there is so often a bait and switch going on in discussions regarding the 97%. Regardless of the actual number (which we will get to), Cook’s study said absolutely nothing about going down the current path, the world as we know it changing, and, especially, the world changing for the worse. That’s just typical fear mongering: taking a single statistic and exaggerating and broadening its application for political gain.
Now, here is how Cook got to the 97%. He first surveyed 11,944 abstracts– just the abstracts, not the papers themselves (much less getting a statement from the authors)– from papers that had to do with global warming, based on a simple search for the matched topics “global warming” or “global climate change.”
The results of the abstracts (got this from here):
Then he took categories 1 and 2 (those who had a strong opinion that man is causing global warming) and compared it to categories 6 and 7 (those who had a strong opinion against the claim that man is causing global warming). The ratio here is 986 papers vs. 24; or 97%.
Okay… so does this mean 97% of climate scientists agree?; that is, there is a solid consensus? Sure, if you leave out the fact that there are about 8,000 (!!) without an opinion/uncertain. If you account for them (and why shouldn’t we?), the new percentage comes in closer too… 10%. Hard to get the crowds going with that.
And of course, to be more than fair, if you could also stretch the thesis by looking at the ratio of categories 1-3 compared to those 4-7, which is around 33%. Still, not worth bragging about that’s for sure.
There’s also some other highly relevant bits of information. First, as Neil Frank mentions here, the reason why there were only 24 papers published by those who strongly disagree with the “consensus” (lol) in the first place was because literally thousands of papers were denied entry into the very database of papers that Cook et al were searching! Frank refers both to this book of published emails relating to this academic scandal and one Kenneth Richard who documented many papers over 2014-2016 that “challenge[d] the hypothesis that CO2 has been the primary driver of recent global warming.”
However, you don’t have believe there was a cover up (I do, for the record), to realize that regardless, there were 1000’s of papers that did not enter into Cook’s math at all, all of which were likely in categories 6 and 7.
Thus, it is profoundly unscientific to state “97% of climate scientists agree that….” It is more honest and accurate to say “97% of 1,010 papers, taken from a set of 11,944, which was a politically limited set to begin with, agree or mostly agree with the “consensus.” In which case, “consensus” here is like saying there is a consensus that John Mcafee should be elected President.
Thus, here’s how to respond to Barack Obama’s following Tweet.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 16, 2013
Besides the above refutation of the 97%, “scientists” is the broadest description of the authors of these papers anyways. Think of all the science professionals who research outside the bounds of climate-related science. The 97% is a completely made up number. And, most importantly, zero percent (ZERO!!!) of the paper abstracts were considered in terms of their “danger” or threat to human life, civilization, or the economy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The anti-gun hysterics always ask that question when talking about the AR-15. The easy answer is always sufficient: “because I want it.” But in case someone is interested in elaboration, here is a handy list of reasons.
As far as I can tell, the differences between Cambridge Analytica and the Obama campaign are that the Obama campaign got more data, got it more easily, and got a free pass afterward because people in charge at Facebook sympathized with the campaign. It was not the intended use of the platform in both cases, and slurping Facebook data to target political messages is nothing new.
One can only speculate what’s motivating the frenzied coverage. For days, this was the sole story every time I walked past a TV showing CNN or MSNBC. Maybe the powers-that-be think that if they can take social media down a peg, it will return some lost influence over public opinion to the corporate media, which in many cases is just the deep state’s marketing department.
If that is the case, it won’t work. Regardless what happens to Facebook, the future marches on. If you kill Facebook someone will just build another one. Except the next one will be decentralized, open source, and built on top of a cryptocurrency.
Anyone can publish anything now. The only way to battle Fake News is to exercise your critical thinking skills and learn how to read knowing that the content is almost always propaganda.