Are you antiwar?

A young girl once asked me how I came to be so “anti-government”. I told her that I was first anti-war. I had been anti-war all my life — I was born hating war somehow. Reincarnation perhaps? I came to see that only the modern nation State was capable of the industrialized slaughters we call modern war and so I had to turn against the large States. I became what I thought was a “small government conservative” for lack of better terms in those early days. Then I saw that I was really a minarchist as I only wanted a very “bare bones” government. Later I became aware that all governments are sponges soaking up power and just waiting to take its people to war as “war is the health of the state”; and so, I became committed to free-market anarchy.

With the end of my summer and the freedom to write everyday little notes to my good friends on twitter in this forum upon me, I decided to write a few posts about the thing that has always driven my passions. Yes even more than young wymen in modern swim wear I have been passionate about ending these things we call modern armies and the wars they fight.

Back in 1973 with the Vietnam War still raging Murray Rothbard was interviewed by Reason Magazine on the subject of foreign policy. They started with:

Q: Why, in your view, is isolationism an essential tenet of libertarian foreign policy?

That may seem like a very loaded question to the ear of the modern reader since “isolationism” is a very loaded term and “non-interventionism” seems much better, but then, back in ’73, the term was used more simply than today and was just the opposite to “interventionism”. The question might also sound a little odd to some who are not sure that a libertarian society would even have a “foreign policy” unless strict neutrality and free trade with all is a foreign policy. But even with the passage of time, the question remains an important one even if we might ask it with slightly different phrases today.

Anyway, Rothbard answered that question and I quote his answer in part:

A: The libertarian position, generally, is to minimize State power as much as possible, down to zero, and isolationism is the full expression in foreign affairs of the domestic objective of whittling down State power. In other words, interventionism is the opposite of isolationism, and of course it goes on up to war, as the aggrandizement of State power crosses national boundaries into other States, pushing other people around etc. So this is the foreign counterpart of the domestic aggression against the internal population. I see the two as united.

The responsibility of trying to limit or abolish foreign intervention is avoided by many conservative libertarians in that they are very, very concerned with things like price control – of course I agree with them. They are very, very concerned about eliminating taxes, licensing, and so forth – with which I agree – but somehow when it comes to foreign policy there’s a black out. The libertarian position against the State, the hostility toward expanding government intervention and so forth, goes by the board – all of a sudden you hear those same people who are worried about government intervention in the steel industry cheering every American act of mass murder in Vietnam or bombing or pushing around people all over the world.

This shows, for one thing, that the powers of the State apparatus to bamboozle the public work better in foreign affairs than in domestic. In foreign affairs you still have this mystique that the nation-State is protecting you from a bogeyman on the other side of the mountain. There are “bad” guys out there out trying to conquer the world and “our” guys are in there trying to protect us. So not only is isolationism the logical corollary of libertarianism, which many libertarians don’t put into practice; in addition, as Randolph Bourne says, “war is the health of the State.”

The State thrives on war – unless, of course, it is defeated and crushed – expands on it, glories in it. For one thing, when one State attacks another State, it is able through this intellectual bamboozlement of the public to convince them that they must rush to the defense of the State because they think the State is defending them. …

Little has changed since those words were first written. We don’t have a draft anymore, but the sons of the poor often think they have little other choice but to join the military. We have not committed to a full scale land war again as in Vietnam although Iraq was close enough to jog the memory of the Vietnam era vets. The State still tells us that it “is protecting us” by its aggressive foreign policy of antagonizing people all over the world even when it is not murdering their women and children. We have even gotten to the place that we can bomb weddings and funerals to kill civilians and the public accepts that as right and just. We have become Empire.

So what to do? We must educate the young about the horrors of war and we must teach them about morality as that aspect has been lost in the debate somehow. We talk about how productive a given policy or action might be, or how counter-productive it might be, but we don’t seem to be engaging the masses with the simple message that killing people overseas is wrong. Morally wrong. Ethically wrong.  We have killed millions of Children for God’s sake! And women; when did it become normal for a civilized nation to blow up a girl’s wedding as part of an occupation?

I think we fight the State at every opportunity. I voted for Ron Paul and rooted for him in spite of my belief that voting is counter productive because I wanted America to hear his anti-war message. And I admit to harbouring dreams of an anti-war Ron Paul in a debate with the murderous president Obama in a nationally televised venue. Ah, that would be sweet!

My advice to you is to fight war at every step. Preach against it when you can do so effectively. Vote for a man running on a anti-war ticket when you can even if you hate voting. My friends, we will never be free until we stop the carnage overseas. For you own sake and that of your children and their children — fight war.

The first step may well be to preach non-interventionism as a foreign policy as that can be sold to people from the far left to the far right even if they don’t believe in our radical libertarian views. Most people can be shown that spending Trillions on killing people overseas who have never harmed us is not the best use of the people’s money. It is bankrupting us financially and morally. Foreign policy may be a winning first move in the intellectual exercise of convincing others that governments are organized evil.

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So what is an Anarcho-Syndicallist?

I was reading tweets the other day and saw a few that made me say to myself, “so what is an Anarcho-Syndicallist?” Wikipedia is real helpful, it says that Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which endorses syndicalism. Well, OK then, so what then is this “syndicalism” thing? Syndicalism is said to be an alternative co-operative economic system that some believe could bring revolutionary change. I am for co-operation, as long as it is voluntary and not coercive, and lord knows I am for change from this horrific status quo we have now.

Wikepedia says of syndicalism:

Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions. It is a form of socialist economic corporatism that advocates interest aggregation of multiple non-competitive categorised units to negotiate and manage an economy.[1]

For adherents, labour unions are the potential means of both overcoming economic aristocracy and running society fairly in the interest of the majority, through union democracy. Industry in a syndicalist system would be run through co-operative confederations and mutual aid. Local syndicates would communicate with other syndicates through the Bourse du Travail (labor exchange) which would manage and transfer commodities.

Replace capitalism? We don’t have capitalism: we have crony-capitalism or corporatism. But let us leave that aside and move on. A form of “socialist economic corporatism”? “Union democracy”?

Syndicalism is also used to refer to the tactic of bringing about this social arrangement, typically expounded by anarcho-syndicalism and De Leonism, in which a general strike begins and workers seize their means of production and organise in a federation of trade unionism …

Uh oh, looks like we have old style socialism dressed up in new cloths. They propose to start by stealing someone’s factory and then running it for themselves leaving everyone else out in the cold. To top it off, they think that “democracy” in running the factory is somehow non-coercive to everyone?

Murray Rothbard once wrote in an article about syndicalism:

Syndicalism, on the other hand – i.e., full worker “ownership” of “their” industries – does not even attempt to achieve a rational allocation of resources. Both the free method of market allocation and the coercive method of central dictation are eliminated. And what is to take their place? In effect, nothing but chaos. Instead of a coordinating mechanism there is now only the chaotic will of groups of brawling monopoloid syndics, each demanding parity and control regardless of economic law.

Does anyone think for one moment that the horse-and-buggy workers would have permitted higher wages in the budding automobile industry? Or have permitted the dismissal of workers? All one need do is to observe the arrogant behavior of unions with monopoly power to know the answer. But the problem lies deeper than bad will on the part of union syndics. The problem is that, even in a community of “saints,” even in an improbable world of meek and altruistic union monopolists, there would be no way for the syndics to make their decisions on wages, employment, or allocation of production. Only a system of market pricing and wage rates, guided by profit-and-loss considerations for market firms, can provide a mechanism for such decisions.

It would appear then that the anarcho-shndicallist is another commie who thinks that the laws of economics were designed by “the man” to keep the masses in their place. So he decides he and a few buddies will replace “the man” and control the masses “for their own good”. (new rulers, same old crap)

If one believes in the Non Aggression Principle, then one has to believe in private property ownership as the basis for a working society. Each person owns her body and the fruits of her labor. One person may hire another (if they are willing) to help her with her business. This hiring does not give the second person ownership in the business unless the contract provided for that. Does the man you hired to mow your lawn now have part ownership in your home?

Professor Noam Chomsky expressed a great deal of worry about the rise of the “right-wing” libertarian movement, concerned that we might succeed in abolishing the State before the State has succeeded in abolishing private property. So who controls (owns) the property? Why committees run by Chomsky and other “better sorts” no doubt. Does anyone remember the committees in the USSR? Chomsky went on to say that anarcho-capitalistism would be the greatest tyranny the world has ever seen. Yes indeed, the tyranny of the individual no doubt.

As I see it; the Anarcho-Syndicallist is no anarchist at all. He is simply a control freak looking to sell communism under a different name.

No sale.

A Love Letter to Ron Paul by Walter Block

Dr. Walter Block was interviewed by Lew Rockwell of LewRock.com about his 400 page new book and the audio interview was posted last Saturday. Dr. Block was a student and close friend of Murray N. Rothbard and has been called “Mr. Libertarian” by many people now that Dr. Rothbard is no longer with us. Lew Rockwell calls him Mr. Libertarian yet once again in his introduction of Dr. Block in the interview.

From the book description from Amazon.com :

… But Dr. Paul is not only running for the presidency of the U.S. His campaign is also an attempt to change the hearts and minds of the more than 300 million people in America, but also the nearly 7 billion inhabitants of the entire Earth. And in this latter quest he has already succeeded, beyond even the most ambitious of hopes of his most fervent supporters.

Walter Block lectures widely on college campuses, delivers seminars around the world and appears regularly on television and radio shows. He has been a friend of Ron Paul’s since the 1970s. Dr. Block is a leading Austrian School economist and an international leader of the freedom movement. Walter Block knows about the fight to liberate young people from the indoctrination that we “must have a State” and that “the State is your friend”. He has been on the front lines of this fight since the 70s. In the first minutes of the interview with Lew Rockwell he said that he wrote the book as his “love letter” to Ron Paul and that Ron Paul had “created more libertarians than anybody in the history of the universe“.

This new book by Walter Block is a book that I will read as soon as I have finished my latest tour though The Ethics of Liberty by Rothbard.

Coincidentally I read an exchange on twitter this morning where people who have converted few, if any, people from full on Statism to libertarianism opine that Ron Paul was, to paraphrase, “doing it all wrong“. It is as if these people have never heard the phrase “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” before. Ron Paul has known for years that just getting people to agree that shrinking government down to the vision of the founders is very difficult. He says in effect that the government should follow its own rules as written in the Constitution at the very least. Sure, he could have preached full on anarchy to the nation in his two runs for nomination: and how would that have worked out? Anarchy is a hard sell to Statists who can not even imaging going back to a government as small as the one in 1950! Ron Paul preached bringing all the troops home from all countries overseas — perhaps he should have added that we should disband the military to boot? That would have been a big seller to the average Joe in the street! (not)

I have been a full on anarchist for decades and believe that the war against the State will not be done until there is no State left. However, I have watched the State grow in power, arrogance, intrusiveness, corruption, and raw evil the entire time. If you think that a president Ron Paul would be little different from president Obama or Romney then we have little to talk about as you don’t live in the same universe as I do. There is almost a zero chance that Ron Paul will ever be president; but his message of reducing government at every turn and in every area is one that resonates with the young people today. If Ron Paul will get them in “the tent” of libertarianism, there are plenty of us to push them on to full market anarchy.

The people who think they could do better than Ron Paul need to get out there and do it!

A Radical Libertarian and the 2012 Olympics

A fellow on twitter opined yesterday that one could not be a “libertarian” unless one was an “anarchist”. That is just not so. The very word “libertarian” was coined to mean “Classic Liberal” since the socialists had started calling themselves “liberals” and had destroyed the meaning of the word. Ludwig von Mises the great Classic Liberal was certainly a libertarian even though most agree he was not an anarchist. Perhaps that fellow was thinking of the class of libertarians sometimes called “Radical Libertarians“. I agree it is hard to imagine a radical libertarian who is not an anarchist politically.

Perhaps the word that best defines our distinction is “radical.” Radical in the sense of being in total, root-and-branch opposition to the existing political system and to the State itself. Radical in the sense of having integrated intellectual opposition to the State with a gut hatred of its pervasive and organized system of crime and injustice. Radical in the sense of a deep commitment to the spirit of liberty and anti-statism that integrates reason and emotion, heart and soul. – (M.N. Rothbard)

This writer is a radical libertarian. How can you tell? I hate the State with a passion that will not abate until the State is gone or I am. (most people are betting the State outlasts me) So you can imagine that I view the 2012 Olympics with a large dose of disdain. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against sports in general, especially amateur sports. But we are not looking at a worldwide gathering of amateur sportsmen.

The Olympics has morphed into a large, hugely expensive tribute to the nation States involved. It is a political statement. No wonder that many fear some sort of terror attack by some group hoping to hit nations at their very heart. If everyone was an amateur we would see only individuals at the games rather than team members of various nations. It would be wonderful to watch the world’s fastest men and women compete in sprints without them representing some evil government or the other. I agree with one writer who said he thought that the 2012 Summer Olympics had turned into “a $17 billion exercise in militarism, corporatism, surveillance and oppression.”

This may be “over the top” but if the USA and the nations of Western Europe want to have games where they are represented by teams; they should have military units engage in sports such as “night time baby killing from 1 mile in the sky”. I am sure the reader can supply many other such “games”. Perhaps the military units of the various States could engage in combat for the entertainment of their fans around the world. This could give a whole new meaning to the phrase “war games”.

I call on the States of the world to give the Olympics back to the people and stop this nationalistic display that only serves to separate rather than unite the people of the world.

George Orwell and the 2012 London Olympics

I read that the UK government has deployed an extra 1,200 troops to help “protect” the population at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. A lack of confidence in the G4S security firm has given the government an excuse for the use of military forces and so the opening ceremony will provide an estimated 18,200 UK military personnel with another 5,500 troops in reserve just outside the venue.

LONDON — Britain’s government opted Tuesday to deploy 1,200 more troops to protect Olympic venues — a move that reflects a lack of confidence that private security contractor G4S can deliver all it promised for the Games.

The fresh troops come only three days before Friday’s opening ceremony and mean that some 18,200 U.K. military personnel are now involved in some capacity in securing the London Games — dwarfing the 9,500 British troops now in Afghanistan. The decision followed a Cabinet meeting on venue security.

“On the eve of the largest peacetime event ever staged in this country, ministers are clear that we should leave nothing to chance,” Olympics Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement. “The Government continues to have every confidence that we will deliver a safe and secure Games.”

There is talk of missiles on top of residential buildings surrounding the games, drones, poison gas, and all manner of exotic “security” measures being employed against the civilian population in the name of “safety”. The CIA, TSA, and FBI of the USA are lending a hand with spying software and God knows what else.

I have been watching the Olympic Games for decades. We have now reached a level of hysteria and absurdity that perhaps only the great George Orwell could have done justice to. The military is ready to attack in case of some event. Who will they attack? Who will they bomb? Who will they gas? They will attack innocent civilians of course since any madman or terrorist group would not try to pull off an attack dressed in clearly marked uniforms for easy identification.

But the larger question is why does the UK government think that it needs to make this the “the biggest peacetime security operation in Britain’s history”? What has the West done to innocent peoples around the globe so that we expect a counter attack? And would any counter attack by some middle eastern group not be understandable considering the millions of innocent lives that the West (USA mainly) has murdered?

Is it possible that the British government is using this opportunity to ratchet up its control of its own domestic population? Could it be that armed soldiers in the street is just what the government wants the civilian population to get used to?

Comparative advantage and the unemployed

Yesterday I wrote a few words about the law of comparative advantage in economics. The most surprising part of that law to many people is that the more backward nation is still economically important to human wealth even if it is comparatively at a disadvantage to all other nations. This comes from the part of the law which tells us that each nation should be concentrating on doing those things that they are most best at.

The law of comparative advantage applies to individuals as well as nations. For example, if we have a very good surgeon who happens to be the best auto mechanic in the city, because he always loved cars and put himself through medical school by working for Goodyear, he still will send his own cars out to the auto shop now because his time is so much more valuable as a Doctor rather than a mechanic. This example is easy to see but it works the same for everyone in town. And even if he happens to be a gardener with a very “green thumb“, he will still be better off letting someone else mow his grass and weed his flower beds. Most people pay to have all kinds of services done for them even though they could do these services themselves. The couple across the street has a mobile dog grooming van in front of their house every week!

The meaning of all this is that there is something for everyone to do if government does not get in the way with intrusive, invasive, counter-productive legislation. For example, most people would pay a little bit extra to have their gas pumped for them by someone. They would even appreciate the fellow pumping the gas to check the pressure in the tires and to check the oil level as an extra service. Don’t believe that? It was standard in this country until the government made the cost of employing these young men prohibitively high. Now young men sit idle and unemployed while everyone pumps their own gas. A crying shame.

Laws which set the “minimum wage” force people out of work and then they get no wage at all. Laws that force the employer to provide expensive employment benefits, like health insurance, also are job killers. Laws that prevent entry into a line of work are also employment killers. I read that it takes time, money, schooling, and a piece of paper allowing employment just to braid the hair of another women for pay in New York City. That is beyond crazy. I read that the right to run a cab, to have a “medallion”, in New York City has recently gone to over one million dollars! A poor man and his car may not drive you around for money even if both of you wish he could — the ruling masters say no.

The Austrian School of Economics proved long ago that the natural rate of unemployment is zero percent. Everyone who can work and wants to work can do something for others. A few may be “between jobs” as they change employment but the kind of unemployment rates we see in America are the “gift” of an invasive government that hurts so many of the most disadvantaged among us. Murray Rothbard wrote an essay called “Outlawing Jobs” back in the early ’80s. It is a short read and still worth a look even a quarter century later. In that small essay he pointed out:

Once in a while, AFL-CIO economists and other knowledgeable liberals will drop their mask of economic fallacy and candidly admit that their actions will cause unemployment; they then proceed to justify themselves by claiming that it is more “dignified” for a worker to be on welfare than to work at a low wage. This of course, is the doctrine of many people on welfare themselves. It is truly a strange concept of “dignity” that has been fostered by the interlocking minimum wage-welfare system.

Many of our social problems can be traced to the young being unemployed rather than having something productive to do. I have watched young people up close for decades: they love to be productive and appreciated. It is long past time that all laws that interfere with the employment of people in any fashion be done away with.

If you think that this essay is only about the young people and their unemployment woes — think again. The shipping of jobs overseas and the replacement of people with changing systems are also impacted by government intervention. Your own government mandated health insurance costs (made astronomical by the State in the first place) may cost you your own position.

The State is the enemy.

Do you know the law of comparative advantage?

A half century ago my father told me that a man “votes his pocketbook” when he enters the voting booth. I think the phrase is applicable to many of our beliefs about life and politics. The trouble is, we often don’t know much about economics and come to the wrong conclusions about what is going on.

Murray N. Rothbard once wrote:

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

Vociferous is defined as, “making, given to, or marked by noisy and vehement outcry”. It is obvious that many people do give loud and vociferous opinions on economics even though they are completely ignorant of the subject.

One of the least understood laws of economics is probably that of comparative advantage and yet it is one of the easiest to understand. I suppose propaganda and demagoguery surrounding the issue might explain that oddity. A short description of comparative advantage can be seen at the MIses.org Wiki.

Comparative advantage works when talking about different countries, or regions, or even individuals. It is easier to explain using countries though, and that is the way you normally see the topic introduced. I’ll stick with that this morning.

Why would anyone trade in the first place? Austrian economic theory tells us that we trade to become better off. I trade an apple to another man for a tomato and we both think we have come out ahead in the bargain. We are both more wealthy, since value is a subjective thing. If there was no subjective difference in our evaluations of the fruit then we would have not made the trade at all. Trade between nations happens for the same reason.

A classic example is that the nation of Greece has many advantages over the US on the production of olive oil. Greece excels in terms of quality, since approximately 75 percent of the Greek olive oil is extra virgin, in contrast with 45 percent in Italy and 30 percent in Spain (mainly due to the special morphology of the country). On the other hand, the US has many advantages over Greece in the production of corn. It should be obvious that the two countries would both be wealthier if they engaged in international trade in these food items.

But what about the case when we have two countries and one of them is better at producing both products? Rothbard pointed out:

The law of comparative advantage tackles such hard cases, and is therefore indispensable to the case for free trade. It shows that even if, for example, Country A is more efficient than Country B at producing both commodities X and Y, it will pay the citizens of Country A to specialize in producing X, which it is most best at producing, and buy all of commodity Y from Country B, which it is better at producing but does not have as great a comparative advantage as in making commodity X. In other words, each country should produce not just what it has an absolute advantage in making, but what it is most best at, or even least worst at, i.e. what it has a comparative advantage in producing.

If, then, the government of Country A imposes a protective tariff on imports of commodity Y, and it forcibly maintains an industry producing that commodity, this special privilege will injure the consumers in Country A as well as obviously injuring the people in Country B. For Country A, as well as the rest of the world, loses the advantage of specializing in the production of what it is most best at, since many of its scarce resources are compulsorily and inefficiently tied up in the production of commodity Y. The law of comparative advantage highlights the important fact that a protective tariff in Country A wreaks injury on the efficient industries in that country, and the consumers in that country, as well as on Country B and the rest of the world.

Another implication of the law of comparative advantage is that no country or region of the earth is going to be left out of the international division of labor under free trade. For the law means that even if a country is in such poor shape that it has no absolute advantage in producing anything, it still pays for its trading partners, the people of other countries, to allow it to produce what it is least worst at.

Exactly how does anyone know who has the comparative advantage (or even the absolute advantage) in the matrix of millions of products between the hundreds of countries? Is there a ‘trade board’ someplace that knows all this? No. Only the free market can best regulate the production of items free from interference from those who would try to impose their own nationalistic concerns on the free flow of trade. The regulatory mechanism is “price”. It should be easy to see that any governmental intervention into trade makes the human population less wealthy by reducing the efficiency of the system of trade that would take place absent the interference.

One of the great difficulties in the Empire is that it is easy for demagogues to convince people that the countries of the middle east would not trade us oil for other products if we did not have a military presence there to force them to sell their oil. What baloney. More to the point, there has been a lot of talk lately about China securing trade agreements with many countries to obtain natural resources. China uses trade agreements and grows wealthy while the US Empire uses force, coercion, and fraud while it goes bankrupt. It is time to dismantle the interfering bureaucracies of the national governemnt and to bring the troops home from overseas. In this way the US can again become a wealthy nation rather than the world’s largest dead-beat debtor.

In peaceful free trade we all are better off. The only “fair trade” is laissez-faire free trade.