H.

H.L. Mencken on the Government’s Money and Services

HL Mencken from his article More of the Same, original published in the American Mercury in 1925:

When a private citizen is robbed a worthy man is deprived of the fruits of his industry and thrift; when the government is robbed the worst that happens is that certain rogues and loafers have less money to play with than they had before. The notion that they have earned that money is never entertained; to most sensible men it would seem ludicrous. They are simply rascals who, by accidents of law, have a somewhat dubious right to a share in the earnings of their fellow men. When that share is diminished by private enterprise the business is, on the whole, far more laudable than not.

The intelligent man, when he pays taxes, certainly does not believe that he is making a prudent and productive investment of his money; on the contrary, he feels that he is being mulcted in an excessive amount for services that, in the main, are useless to him, and that, in substantial part, are downright inimical to him. He may be convinced that a police force, say, is necessary for the protection of his life and property, and that an army and navy safeguard him from being reduced to slavery by some vague foreign kaiser, but even so he views these things as extravagantly expensive – he sees in even the most essential of them an agency for making it easier for the exploiters constituting the government to rob him. In those exploiters themselves he has no confidence whatever. He sees them as purely predatory and useless; he believes that he gets no more net benefit from their vast and costly operations than he gets from the money he lends to his wife’s brother. They constitute a power that stands over him constantly, ever alert for new chances to squeeze him. If they could do so safely they would strip him to his hide. If they leave him anything at all, it is simply prudetially, as a farmer leaves a hen some of her eggs.

T.

The State as a Contradiction in Terms

Ethically, we have in the State, as defined above, a contradiction in terms.  For if the State is the means by which private property is supposed to be ultimately defended, and yet the State declares, independent of the will of the property owner, what the property owner must pay him or be recipient of violent expropriation, then the private property itself, rather than being defended, is threatened.  As Hoppe notes: “However, a tax-funded life-and-property protection agency is a contradiction in terms: an expropriating property protector.”

Moreover, if the State claims unto itself the right to act as the sole provider of its services and actively seeks the elimination of any competitors, then in driving other competitors out of business, here too it contradicts its very intended role.  Any State that allows its citizens to choose another criminal punishment corporation if they desire, that is, any State that does not consider itself as the sole provider of its “services,” cannot last as a State any longer than the citizens allow it. And thus, being essentially a voluntary organization, it loses its status as a State; for States are force, not cooperation.  Therefore, a State must, to retain its label, actively seek the eradication of all jurisdictional competitors; and in doing so, it contradicts its role of defender of private property.  For it must violate the private property of its competitor in order to eliminate it.

[…]

The private-law society is one in which all individuals are bound by the same law and there is none who is legally allowed to exempt himself. There is no “public property,” and every owner of property is the ultimate decision maker over the use and restrictions of his property.  There are no public officials who can for “the public interest,” expropriate wealth from the property owner, restrict by force the entrepreneurial activity of the owner in the form of regulations, or create tax-funded bureaucracies, for whatever purpose he has in mind.  No one is allowed to acquire property except by way of original appropriation or voluntary trade; neither is anyone allowed to “prohibit anyone else from using his property in order to enter any line of production he wishes and compete against whomever he pleases.” (Hoppe).

Taken from: http://austrolibertarian.com/the-civil-magistrate-vs-the-state/

I.

I, Customer: Blind Sheep Edition

I commented on a Wall Street Journal article which was about the fact that Apple Music subscribers were set to surpass Spotify subscribers in the US. Seeing the number of anti-Apple leftists commenting, and having a couple minutes to spare, I laid the bait:

I love Apple in every way. Can’t get enough of their products. This news makes sense.

First response, by some guy in a fedora:

You are their perfect customer.

He took it. I went in for the kill, armed with an actual understanding of praxeological economics:

I am indeed. And they are my perfect producer. It’s a great relationship.

He was mad:

You do realize they just want your money, right?

Again, I’ve thought about the nature of exchanges for more than 60 seconds in my life, so my response was simple:

I do. They work hard to get that money. They pour billions into research, development, transportation, and so on just to satisfy me. I’m honored tbh [to be honest]. In any case, you realize that I want their devices more than the money they receive from me right? Perhaps you think I took advantage of them?

No response from Dr. Fedora.

Round two was less exciting. The commenter, this one not wearing a Fedora, thought this was a worthy response:

You’re a sheep.

What is meant by this, presumably, is that I do not think when I walk robot-like to the store to purchase a new Apple device. Au contraire! I am a rational agent, a decision maker, who determines whether I value Apple products over a specific number of dollars, in light of all my other values, plans, and financial commitments. These lefties, apparently, deny human beings their very human nature in making loud proclamations about the motivations of man.

In any case, I responded with this:

[Laughing emoji]. You guys act like I don’t enjoy their products out of my own will and because they gratify me.

Wish I got more responses. But that was it.

E.

Excerpt from Mises’ Biography

I like this first part of the preface of Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism, brilliantly researched and written by Jorg Guido Hulsmann. It really captures Hulsmann’s appreciation for Mises, and touches on Mises’ contributions to the freedom philosophy.

IN THE SUMMER OF 1940, with Hitler’s troops moving through France to encircle Switzerland, Ludwig von Mises sat beside his wife Margit on a bus filled with Jews fleeing Europe. To avoid capture, the bus driver took back roads through the French countryside, stopping to ask locals if the Germans had been spotted ahead—reversing and finding alternative routes if they had been.1970023

Mises was two months shy of his fifty-ninth birthday. He was on the invaders’ list of wanted men. Two years earlier, they had ransacked his Vienna apartment, confiscating his records, and freezing his assets. Mises then hoped to be safe in Geneva. Now nowhere in Europe seemed safe. Not only was he a prominent intellectual of Jewish descent; he was widely known to be an archenemy of National Socialism and of every other form of socialism. Some called him “the last knight of liberalism.”

He had personally steered Austria away from Bolshevism, saved his country from the level of hyperinflation that destroyed interwar Germany, and convinced a generation of young socialist intellectuals to embrace the market. Now he was a political refugee headed for a foreign continent.

The couple arrived in the United States with barely any money and no prospects for income. Mises’s former students and disciples had found prestigious positions in British and American universities (often with his help), but Mises himself was considered an anachronism. In an age of growing government and central planning, he was a defender of private property and an opponent of all government intervention in the economy. Perhaps worst of all, he was a proponent of verbal logic and realism in the beginning heyday of positivism and mathematical modeling. No university would have him. Margit began to train as a secretary.

Over the next decade, they would slowly rebuild and Mises would find new allies. He would also publish his most important book, Human Action. It would earn him a following whose admira- tion and devotion were beyond anything he had known in Europe.

When he died in October 1973, he had only a small circle of admirers and disciples, but this group became the nucleus of a movement that has grown exponentially. Today his writings inspire economists and libertarians throughout the world, and are avidly read by an increasing number of students in all the social sciences. There is an entire school of “Misesian” economists flourishing most notably in the United States, but also in Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Argentina, Romania, and Italy. This movement is testimony to the lasting power and impact of his ideas.

The purpose of the present book is to tell the story of how these ideas emerged in their time. It is the story of an amazing economist, of his life and deeds. It is the story of his personal impact on the Austrian School and the libertarian movement. It is above all the story of a man who transformed himself in an uncompromising pursuit of the truth, of a man who adopted his ideas step-by- step, often against his initial inclinations.

Once a student of the historical method in the social sciences, he would become the dean of the opposition Austrian School and humanistic social theory. He went from left-leaning young idealist in Vienna to grand old man of the American Right. Dismissive of “the metallists” early in his career, he became an unwavering spokesman for a 100 percent gold standard. His example inspired students and followers, many of whom would take his message and method farther than he himself would go.

R.

Rights Have Supremacy Over the “Will of the People”

Left wing populists, such as the increasingly followed Robert Reich, have recognized that the US economic and political system is basically controlled by the well-connected elite. These corrupt persons operate on the framework of leveraging the Federal government for their own economic and political empowerment. However, by not having a proper understanding of rights and true liberty, the left-wingers offer as a solution the democratic “will of the people” as the standard by which government should make its decisions.

The problem of elite-rule from Washington, which might be labelled a “plutocracy,” is not that it doesn’t reflect the “will of the people,” or the will of the majority, or any other democratic segment of society.

The problem exists to the extent that these elite advocate, encourage, and actively work to direct resources to themselves by breaching the rights of non-consenting individuals. There are myriad examples of this, but two might include: 1) subsidies to their businesses via taxes (that is, when the recipients are net tax-receivers) and 2) the regulation of their industries which puts their competition in an uncompetitive scenario such that the elite and well-connected achieve increased profits.

In leveraging the state to their end, they breach the rights of other individuals in society.

However, what the proponents of increased democratization and “power to the people” are seeking is a shift of the beneficiaries of breaching the rights of individuals. That is, they still seek to leverage the state for their ends and breach the property rights of others in society; the only difference is that they want the beneficiaries of such breaches to shift from the cronyist wealthy to the poor or even middle classes.

Rather than recognizing the principles of justice inherent in the recognition of private property rights, they continue to ignore property rights and economic conclusions. The “democratic will of the people” should not be a replacement of the crony 1% in regards to the decisions being made in government.

Instead, we ought to completely reject the state as a legitimate tool of redistribution and deny to it the legal ability to direct resources to whomever is in control. The state, as Bastiat pointed out, is “the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.” The state is the cause of social division and regression.

C.

Cathy Newman and the Unconstrained Vision

Been thinking about one particular moment in the the Peterson-Newman standoff, in which Newman is questioning Peterson about why there are more male CEOs in the FTSE 100. Part of the reason for this, 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.

But this idealistic tendency on Newman’s part really reflects what Thomas Sowell refers to as the Unconstrained Vision. Rather than think in terms of reality, she adapts the view that mankind itself can be changed so that the Ideal can be achieved. Isaac Morehouse sums up the Unconstrained Vision well:

Those with an unconstrained vision see everything as perfectible.  We can eliminate scarcity (this is very different than simply “have an abundance of stuff”, as it assumes time and choice can also be eliminated), we can remake man into a perfect version, we can stop playing by old stuffy rules and simply rebuild a society without greed.  If humans are flawed we can remake humans, instead of forming social orders that work around the flaws.  We don’t need institutions that channel bad desires to good outcomes, we simply need to remove bad desires.

Newman doesn’t think in terms of how things are, she thinks in terms of changing humanity and human nature itself in order to achieve her own (socially Progressive) vision. She doesn’t think in terms of what women should do if they want to achieve a particular end, she thinks in terms of remapping the “social rules of the game” in order to bring about the outcome she has in mind. In doing so, she thinks of mankind as clay that can be molded to her liking; likely with media-driven retraining (a la 1984), social education, and long-term collectivist planning. She is, in other words, a representative of what should be called “cultural marxism.” She desires the creation of the New Socialist Man.

Consider Rothbard on the NSM:

The traditional socialist answer held that the socialist society would transform human nature, would purge it of selfishness, and remold it to create a New Socialist Man. That new man would be devoid of any selfish, or indeed any self-determined, goals; his only wish would be to work as hard and as eagerly as possible to achieve the goals and obey the orders of the socialist State. Throughout the history of socialism, socialist ultras, such as the early Lenin and Bukharin under “War Communism,” and later Mao Tse-tung and Che Guevara, have sought to replace material by so-called “moral” incentives. This notion was properly and wittily ridiculed by Alexander Gray as “the idea that the world may find its driving force in a Birthday Honours List (giving to the King, if necessary, 165 birthdays a year).”[2]  At any rate, the socialists soon found that voluntary methods could hardly yield them the New Socialist Man. But even the most determined and bloodthirsty methods could not avail to create this robotic New Socialist Man. And it is a testament to the spirit of freedom that cannot be extinguished in the human breast that the socialists continued to fail dismally, despite decades of systemic terror.

Hence, Peterson was right to controversially point out that these Progressive hold the same underlying philosophy of the deadly communists of the previous century.

N.

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.

R.

Revealed Preferences in Government Shutdowns

The US federal government, thanks to central banking, has an unlimited power to spend, so it almost never has to sacrifice anything to get what it wants. But there are a few brief moments where some procedural rules force Congress to act as if it had a finite budget. These “government shutdowns” give us a glimpse into how the federal government ranks the importance of its many jobs, and a chance to confirm or invalidate one theory of the state: that “the government is us” and more or less reflects our own preferences.

An article at Vox describes what stopped and what kept operating during the 2018 shutdown. This paragraph is instructive:

Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms field offices are exempt from shutdowns; many Food and Drug Administration officials working on investigations, however, are not. The TSA is fully exempt, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to furlough a large fraction of its staff. Civil litigation efforts at the Department of Justice (including antitrust investigations) would cease; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Health and Safety Administration would be, temporarily, all but gutted.

The article lists others, and in the 2013 shutdown, Washington went out of their way, without irony, to barricade monuments.

But look closely at the exemptions. My favorite example is the TSA. By all objective measures, the TSA is at least useless and probably worse than useless. It costs about $8 billion per year to run. Without belaboring the point too much, the whole thing is security theater. It’s a farce, and everyone knows it.

So which would you prefer Uncle Sam do without in an emergency? The people who ostensibly monitor and contain diseases? The people who prosecute and resolve civil court cases? Or the useless orcs at the airport that treat you like a prison inmate for no reason? The question answers itself.

The agencies receiving unconditional support tend to be enforcement arms or payouts to powerful constituencies, regardless of their efficacy or desirability. The military, as well, carries on as usual even though soldiers are temporarily denied their paychecks. The expendable ones tend to be citizen-facing services whose absence will cause the greatest amount of discomfort without damaging the state’s ability to impose its will or pacify possible resistance.

In a Machiavellian way, it does make perfect sense for the state to defend its supremacy at all costs. This isn’t illogical in the slightest. But the shutdowns reveal this to actually be the case, and not the comforting euphemisms we often hear about the government. Murray Rothbard asserts in Anatomy of the State that the government is not synonymous with the people. It is a different thing from society, with its own interests, which can be at odds with the people it governs.

T.

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.

C.

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).

T.

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!

C.

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.