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The Miseducation of Antony Blinken

The Miseducation of Antony Blinken

On January 19th, the U.S. Senate held confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken. Blinken has a reputation on both sides of the aisle for being exceptionally qualified for the job of America’s top diplomat, which is surprising considering he was on the wrong side of every major foreign policy blunder of the last 20 years; Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

When Senator Rand Paul asked Antony Blinken what lessons he has learned from his disastrous foreign policy record in Libya and Syria, Blinken replied that after “some hard thinking” he’s proud that he has done “everything we possibly can to make sure that diplomacy is the first answer, not the last answer, and that war and conflict is our last resort.”

Of course war is the last resort. Even the most hawkish war criminals would agree that war is the last resort. But the question is, war is the last resort to accomplish what? If war is the last resort to get a country to fully capitulate to Washington’s demands then eventually the U.S. will be at war with everyone. To Blinken, war as the last resort can only be understood in the same way a mugger considers shooting his victim as a last resort to stealing their wallet.

Blinken displayed his hubris a few minutes later when he said, “The door should remain open” for Georgia to join NATO under the justification of curbing Russian aggression.

Rand Paul informed Blinken, “This would be adding Georgia, that’s occupied [by Russia], to NATO. Under Article 5, then we would go to war.”

Senator Paul is right. According to Washington, Russia has been occupying 20 percent of Georgia since 2008. Under the principle of collective defense in Article 5 of NATO, the U.S. would be obligated to treat Russia’s occupation of the country of Georgia the same way the U.S. would treat a Russian occupation of the U.S. state of Georgia. That sounds like a recipe for war. But don’t worry, peaceniks, Antony Blinken has assured us that war is the last resort!

Blinken’s framing of the issue exposes his disingenuous approach. Russian aggression is a term used by Washington insiders to describe a Russian reaction to western aggression. Blinken knows that the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia was not Russian aggression, he calls it that because it suits his agenda and the American press is dependably ignorant enough to not ask questions.

In the 2008 war, Georgia was the aggressor against the South Ossetians, a people who are ethnically distinct from Georgians, and who have never—not even for one day—considered themselves a part of Georgia. The Ossetians have a history of Russian partiality; they were among the first ethnic groups in the region to join the Russian Empire in the 19th century and the USSR in the 1920s. Today, ethnic Ossetians straddle both sides of the current Russian border, and they are more aligned with the Russian government than with the Georgian government.

When Georgia gained sovereignty from the former Soviet Union in 1991, South Ossetia declared its independence. In response, Georgian forces invaded South Ossetia, initiating an armed conflict that killed more than 2,000 people. In 1992, a ceasefire agreement was signed in Sochi between Georgia, Russia and South Ossetia, which created a tripartite peacekeeping force led by Russia. Although the international community never acknowledged South Ossetia’s independence, they have enjoyed political autonomy since the 1992 Sochi agreement.

The Sochi agreement held up until Georgia’s ultra-nationalist President Mikheil Saakashvili came to power in the 2003 western-backed bloodless “Rose Revolution” coup-d’etat. The pro-western President Saakashvili advocated joining the EU and NATO, and insisted on asserting Georgian rule over South Ossetia. U.S. President George Bush supported the new Georgian president’s effort to bring Georgia into NATO, which for Russia would mean bringing a hostile military up to its border. In 2006, President Saakashvili offered South Ossetia autonomy in exchange for a political settlement with Georgia. A referendum was held, and the South Ossetian people overwhelmingly reaffirmed their desire for independence from Georgia.

In August, 2008, After exchanging artillery fire with South Ossetia, Georgia invaded South Ossetia’s capital city of Tskhinvali, killing 1,400 civilians and 18 Russian peacekeepers. Georgia’s attack triggered a Russian invasion into South Ossetia and Abkhazia (another breakaway region) to restore stability and protect peacekeeping forces. Russia is by no means innocent—they used disproportionate force attacking targets inside Georgia—but only a Russophobic shill would conclude that this war was somehow caused by Russian aggression. The idea that Russia had no business intervening is laughable. Under the 1992 Sochi agreement, Russia took charge of a peacekeeping coalition to help prevent exactly the scenario that happened in the summer of 2008.

If George Bush had succeeded in bringing Georgia into NATO, the United States may have been dragged into war with Russia in 2008. Antony Blinken claims that NATO membership deters Russian aggression, but does he really believe that Russia would have been deterred from intervening to protect its own peacekeeping force? Does Blinken believe that Georgia—backed by the U.S. military—would have acted more cautiously in South Ossetia, or is it more likely they would have been bolder?

It’s undeniable that it is in Russia’s best interest to have pro-Russian countries on its borders. But pretending as if Russia is going to march into Tbilisi and reabsorb the entire country of Georgia into Russia is a level of paranoia that should disqualify anyone from having an opinion on the subject. The military conflict in Georgia is about the two breakaway regions and their right to self determination. Russia’s self interest happens to align with the wishes of the people in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. By supporting Georgia, America—the champion of democracy and self determination—has adopted the position that South Ossetians didn’t really mean to repeatedly choose independence when given the option. This is a situation where America’s professed values are diametrically opposed to its policy of countering Russian influence everywhere on the map.

Antony Blinken should pause to consider if America’s policy objectives are worth fighting a war for. Is it worth confronting Russia in South Ossetia? Was it worth confronting Russia over Crimea and the Donbas in Ukraine? Is it a good idea to withdraw from the INF Nuclear Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty? Should we have spent the last 30 years marching NATO—a military alliance hostile to Russia—right up to the doorsteps of Russia? Is any of this really making us safer?

Blinken has bought into his own propaganda. To Blinken, regardless of the stubborn details of history, every conflict on Russia’s border is simply Russian aggression. Washington’s solution is the expansion of NATO, which Russia describes as “NATO encirclement.” This is an unacceptable military threat to Russia, who has a deep distrust of western intentions due to a long history of western invasions into Russia. Antony Blinken still lives in a bipolar world in which the United States and Russia are existential threats to each other’s existence. Every conflict and every alliance is only viewed through the lens of the New Cold War crusade against Russia. This maniacal crusade could thrust America in the unthinkable abyss of nuclear war.

Rand Paul got his answer, Antony Blinken learned nothing from all his mistakes! The danger isn’t merely resorting to war too early, the danger is in sticking our noses in conflicts that we have no business being in. War should be the last resort to defending America’s people and it’s homeland from foreign invasion; it should not be the last resort to enforcing America’s utopian vision on the world, and it certainly shouldn’t be the last resort to prevent an ethnic group in the South Caucasus—that almost no American has ever heard of—from the right to self-determination.

Kenny MacDonald is a former Navy SEAL and Afghanistan War veteran. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history. Youtube Channel. Medium. Facebook.

Meet Rachel Levine, President Biden’s Disastrous Response to COVID

Meet Rachel Levine, President Biden’s Disastrous Response to COVID

On January 19 it was announced that Joe Biden planned to nominate Rachel Levine, the Pennsylvania (PA) secretary of health, for the position of assistant secretary of health in the Department of Health and Human Services. This is potentially good news for Pennsylvanians, who will finally be rid of her after having had to endure her disastrous covid lockdowns and restrictions for nearly a year, but is likely bad news for the rest of the country.

News coverage of Levine’s nomination is focused almost entirely on the fact that if she is confirmed she will be the first transgender official to be confirmed by the Senate and barely mentions or completely glosses over her handling of the pandemic in PA. NPR doesn’t mention her track record at all other than noting that she, unsurprisingly, called for more federal funding to deal with the virus. The Morning Call at least reported that Levine has faced criticism over her handling of the virus response but failed to mention that under Levine PA nursing homes were forced to accept covid-positive patients.

After the announcement of her forthcoming nomination, Republicans began to attack Levine on social media, especially concerning her nursing home policy. In response, Newsweek published a laughable excuse of a “fact check,” asserting, “There is no evidence to support Greene’s [a Republican representative from Georgia] claim that Levine placed coronavirus-positive patients in nursing home facilities, thus likely contributing ‘to the thousands of elderly deaths in Pennsylvania.’”

However, the author, Julia Marnin, seems to have failed to adequately research PA Department of Health guidelines. She cites a guideline issued in March of 2020 that states that nursing homes “must continue to accept new admissions and receive readmissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable,” and that “This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus.” Marnin then argues that this language didn’t mean that nursing homes had to accept positive patients but that “they can” and that there is no evidence that Levine’s policy “placed coronavirus-positive patients in nursing homes or contributed to thousands of elderly deaths in the state.”

This absurd claim completely falls apart, since later Pennsylvania Health Department guidelines make it explicitly clear that nursing homes must readmit covid-positive patients and continue to accept new ones even if they are covid positive, as well. Guidance issued on May 12, 2020, states that “A positive test result is not a reason to refuse readmission to a resident” and that “An NCF [nursing care facility] must continue to take new admissions, if appropriate beds are available, and a suspected or confirmed positive for COVID-19 is not a reason to deny admission.”

Until the late fall/early winter surge in cases and deaths, roughly 70 percent of all covid fatalities in Pennsylvania were among nursing home and long-term care facility patients. Since the latest surge, that number has dropped to roughly 50 percent. Yet, even with the latest drop, it is clear that the state government’s nursing home policy has been a disaster, and the media does a great disservice to the country by sweeping a discussion of that record under the rug.

Perhaps even more disturbing than forcing nursing homes to accept covid-positive patients is Levine’s policy goal of social justice–based rationing of covid treatments that was released by the PA Department of Health under Levine’s leadership.

As I have written about previously, this guidance, entitled “Ethical Allocation Framework for Emerging Treatments of COVID-19,” states that “a core goal of public health is to redress inequities that make health and safety less accessible to disadvantaged groups—we show equal respect for all members of society by mitigating the structural inequities that cause certain communities to bear the greatest burden during the pandemic.” In other words, according to Levine’s department of health, public health isn’t just about medical health issues, it is about using the response to medical health issues to engineer society to promote “social justice.”

In this scheme, the state recommends that healthcare providers use a weighted lottery system to ration care and encourages hospitals to weigh a patient’s entry based on his or her socioeconomic status as determined by old data aggregated from census blocks. You would think that promoting “equality” would mean that whether you receive life-saving medical treatment wouldn’t depend on where you live, but some patients are apparently more equal than others.

The fact that someone who apparently subscribes to such a radical egalitarian agenda is likely to soon be one of the most powerful healthcare bureaucrats in the country does not bode well, as calls for the federal government to nationalize healthcare continue unabated. Levine’s radicalism, combined with the incompetence she displayed by forcing nursing homes to accept covid-positive patients and other heavy-handed lockdown measures, will hopefully at least lead to a serious analysis of her record during her Senate confirmation hearing. But don’t hold your breath.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

How Not To Argue Against the Minimum Wage

How Not To Argue Against the Minimum Wage

Among the hotly contested list of Joe Biden’s promises is an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

There are plenty of sound reasons to oppose government minimum wage laws, but there is one objection making the rounds that is based on bad economics and should be avoided, and that’s the “businesses will pass on the costs to consumers, making cheap goods more expensive” objection.

For instance, a now-deleted tweet by someone claiming that a $15 an hour minimum wage will cause Taco Bell burritos to explode in costs was shot down in short order by the tweet below. Scrolling through the replies also shows hundreds of other similar responses of people sharing the same experience in their cities that already have a $15 an hour minimum wage. Indeed, the responses were so decisive and numerous the original poster deleted his tweet to avoid further embarrassment.

Mw TweetDon’t make the same mistake.

There are two main reasons why the “but tacos or hamburgers at fast food joints will cost $10” argument is easily shot down. First, is because it is bad economics.

In short, if Taco Bell or McDonalds could charge $10 per taco/burger, they already would be, regardless of wages and costs of other inputs. But businesses can’t just unilaterally increase their prices without a response from customers. The law of demand tells us that consumers will demand more of a good at lower prices, and less of a good at higher prices, other things held equal. Taco Bell doesn’t charge $10 for a burrito because customers won’t pay that price.

To illustrate this point, imagine if the government mandated a minimum price of beef at $15 per pound. Burger joints couldn’t just pass on the increased costs to customers. The demand curve for burgers didn’t change. Instead, burger joints would buy less beef.

The mandated increase in beef price did nothing to improve the quality of the beef, nor change the price customers are willing to pay for the finished product it’s used to make. To the extent burger joints still do buy beef; they will need to cut costs elsewhere on other inputs and expenses.

Fast food restaurants will decrease their demand for beef and seek alternatives, maybe instead sell more chicken sandwiches or salads.

Some larger national chains may be able to absorb the added costs of beef by dispersing the spending cuts across many other inputs spread out across thousands of stores, so it would be smaller mom and pop shops that will be hit the hardest.

Now swap ‘low skilled labor’ for beef. Businesses can’t just ‘pass along’ the higher input costs to customers. Government’s artificial raising of the price of an input will decrease the demand for that input, meaning that fewer low-skilled workers will have access to the important first rung of the career ladder.

Businesses will instead seek alternatives, like automated kiosks, that are more economical. Moreover, to the extent that businesses pay the increased minimum wage to employers that can’t be replaced, they will be forced to cut costs elsewhere, perhaps reducing fringe benefits, worker training programs, or even investments in workplace safety.

Moreover, warning against price increases in fast food or other goods provided by minimum wage workers misses the mark and exposes yourself to easy refutation. Changes in the costs of inputs, whether labor, raw materials, durable capital goods or anything else, does not change the demand curve for the finished good for which they are used. So when minimum wages are increased, the change will not be reflected in noticeable price increases, allowing minimum wage advocates to say “see, we raised the minimum wage and McDonald’s hamburgers still only cost a couple buck.”

Secondly, not only can your argument be easily dismissed on economic grounds, to the extent minimum wage advocates accept the faulty notion that increased minimum wages will cause the price of fast food and other low-price goods go increase, they can readily respond by saying they will happily pay a few cents more for a cheeseburger if it means the workers are paid a respectable wage.

Instead, we need to focus on the negative consequences of minimum wages on vulnerable, low-skilled workers, especially minorities. Follow the Horton rule: “attack the right from the right, and the left from the left.”

Resonse To Min Wage TweetIn the case of the minimum wage, we can address how, as Thomas Sowell has repeatedly pointed out, minimum wage laws have been a “disaster” for young and poor black people.

Not only is focusing on the negative impact minimum wage laws has on low-skilled, especially minority people more economically accurate, it also makes for a much harder argument for progressives to counter. Minimum wage laws end up disproportionately harming the very people its advocates claim to be helping.

Like so many other harmful state interventions, minimum wage laws need to fought and repealed. To be successful, however, opponents must avoid falling into weak and easily refutable arguments.

Bradley Thomas is creator of the website Erasethestate.com and author of the book “Tweeting Liberty: Libertarian Tweets to Smash Statists and Socialists.” He is a libertarian activist who enjoys researching and writing on the freedom philosophy and Austrian economics. Follow him on Twitter @erasestate.

Testing Positive for COVID-Bootlicking

Testing Positive for COVID-Bootlicking

The COVID pandemic has shown how easy it is to make people hate anyone who is not as frightened as themselves. Since last March, politicians and health officials have fanned fears to commandeer far more control over Americans’ daily lives. And millions of Americans have been happy to condemn any violators of the endlessly changing rules.

After the start of the COVID pandemic, my local Harris Teeter grocery store in Montgomery County, Maryland voluntarily made extensive changes to safeguard its employees and customers. But one panicky customer wailed to the local health department that he felt unsafe while buying his bagels or whatever at the store. A health inspector swooped in and compelled the grocery store to restrict access and services in numerous pointless ways. One of the two wide doors at the front of the store was designated as “Exit Only,” with four signs attached warning customers not to enter.

On a recent Thursday, I was making a quick mid-afternoon run to that store and headed for the doors I always used adjacent to the parking lot.

I saw a customer getting ready to exit so I paused 10 feet away from the door. He was a heavyset guy in his 40s with a cop-style haircut. He was wearing a fashionable flimsy face mask that provides as much protection from COVID as wrapping your head with wet toilet paper. He was pushing his loaded grocery cart through the wide doors—until he saw me. He instantly pulled his cart back and the second set of automatic doors closed while he stared at me like he’d seen a viral demon poised to strike him down.

From safely behind the glass doors, he anxiously pointed his arm to the other side of the store, where the designated ‘Entrance Only” signs paved the path to compliance.

I just stood there.

He pointed again, even more fretfully.

I just stood there.

He finally pushed his cart forward and the automatic doors opened.

“THIS IS THE EXIT—exit only!’ He exclaimed.

“Ya,” I replied nonchalantly as I waited for him to get out of the way so I could enter.

“You can’t go in here.”

“Nope. I’m entering.”

“That’s not allowed,” he declared.

“The separate exit and entrance for the store is a health department dictate that makes no sense.”

“People have to follow the rules to keep us safe,” he said with the air of someone reminding a village idiot of a self-evident truth.

“If the Health Department said grocery store customers have to hop around on one leg, would you do that, too?”

“What—are you like the people who stormed the Capitol?” he barked as his eyes bulged.

I laughed. “You’re a bootlicker.”


“You’re a bootlicker.”

“NO I’M NOT!” he sputtered.

I gave him a Chesire grin which he could maybe appreciate because I wasn’t wearing a facemask.

He stomped his feet and pushed his grocery cart off into the parking lot while muttering about someone being an “asshole.” I wasn’t sure who he was referring to so I didn’t take offense.

Montgomery County, Maryland is probably one of the most pro-government locales in the nation, thanks in part to being populated by government workers, government contractors, and other people ruined for life by high school civics classes. There is practically no spot inside its borders exempt from indignation against people who have not submitted to the latest edict.

I was recently walking along the C & O Canal Towpath, talking to two friends. None of us were masked – despite a histrionic health department dictate that everyone should cover their faces any time they step out of their house.

Coming in the opposite direction was a geezer, walking slumped forward with a long white shirt, big floppy hat, and a six-foot walking stick. He suddenly stops and points his stick at me and shouts:


“What?” I replied.


“So what are you supposed to be, an Old Testament prophet?” I said. “Great—so now we got the Prophet Isaiah casting damnation on all Towpath violators.” I should have counted my blessings that he wasn’t like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, buttonholing people and forcing them to listen to a 45-minute poem about a dead bird.

That Towpath turned out to be a hotbed for righteousness. A few weeks later, I was walking along with a group of fellow hikers, chatting about how the 2020 election had completely restored out faith in American democracy. As we neared a wooden bridge, a 50ish guy coming the other direction suddenly stopped and looked as horrified as a vampire who had spotted a Crucifix.

He lifted his shirt up over his face to provide double protection along with his facial covering, and shouted, “YOU’RE NOT WEARING MASKS!”

“We’re outside. It’s sunny. The wind is blowing,” I replied. The dude was perhaps unaware that COVID transmission hinges on “viral load,” which wasn’t happening on that hike.

“You’re violating the rules!” he proclaimed.

We just kept walking past him.

He turned and shouted at me: “So what—is your beard supposed to be your mask!?!”

I kept going.

And then he hollered: “Your beard is ugly!”

Jpb Mask Photo TweakedDurn! Now I finally know why my applications to be the cover model for GQ have always been rejected. Me and Rodney Dangerfield—no respect.

Unfortunately, there will likely be far more Americans screaming at each other thanks to President Biden’s new mandate compelling people to wear masks on all federal property and while traveling across state lines. Biden’s edict, like many other Washington decrees, contained an unwritten “Poohbah Exemption.” Hours after signing the mandate, Biden and family members were not wearing masks when they visited the Lincoln Memorial. At a daily press briefing, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki scoffed at a reporter’s concern over the apparent crime: “He was celebrating a historic day in our country…We have bigger things to worry about.”

Biden’s mask mandate is being touted as one of the silver bullets against COVID-19. But 80% of Americans “have been wearing masks since July. They didn’t meaningfully alter the pandemic’s course,” notes economic historian Phil Magness of the American Institute for Economic Research, which has done some of the best debunkings of COVID hysteria.

Federal, state, and local government restrictions have failed to prevent more than 100 million Americans from becoming infected with COVID. But that hasn’t cured blind faith in the Iron Fist of government decrees—perhaps the only item of faith remaining for affluent people hunkered down and fretting about their next grocery delivery. The New York Times, in a piece headlined, “Social Distancing Informants Have Their Eyes on You,” noted, “In some cities and counties, vigilantism has been encouraged by municipalities that have set up special phone numbers, apps or online forms to report violations.”

Neighborhood websites are overflowing with complaints, such as the Boston area resident who was outraged because “four teenage girls with lacrosse sticks and white hoodies just walked past our place.” “Massachusetts residents burning up the COVID-19 snitch line,” proclaimed a Boston Herald headline in October. Two hundred thousand complaints were registered, including against a neighbor accused of “spitting,” a maskless female stripper at Kittens Gentlemen’s Club, and a deluge of accusations against people whose masks had slipped beneath their nose. Shortly before Thanksgiving, Oregon Governor Kate Brown urged neighbors to summon the police if they noticed neighbors having too many guests for the big dinner—a proposal that one Oregon local official declared “turned people into ‘second-rate slaves’ in their own homes,” the Daily Mail reported.  The New York Times reported, “Some liberals said they thought that calling out violators was a civic duty and a matter of public health.” Many East Germans felt the same way about notifying the Stasi about subversive comments they overhead while waiting in line to buy cabbages. But some Americans should heed the warning a British publication gave to its readers: “Is constantly monitoring COVID rulebreakers wrecking your mental health?”

Much of the rage against folks who do not obey the latest commands stems from blind faith in “science and data”—the endlessly recited slogan of politicians and bureaucrats dictating new restrictions. But the unrecognized storyline of the pandemic is that the “science” is continually changing and much of the data is crap. Revered experts flip-flopped on issues such as whether surfaces are deadly contagious or whether asymptomatic individuals are perilous threats. False positive tests and catch-all definitions of COVID fatalities have made a mockery of accurate record-keeping. These problems were compounded by the World Health Organization promulgating much a stricter standard for Covid diagnoses on the day Biden was inaugurated, ceasing to count as Covid vast numbers of cases that were previously labeled as such. The new standard paves the way for a speedy reduction in Covid cases thanks to Biden’s benevolent leadership.

But Pandemic Security Theater will continue to spur snitching by people who view other Americans’ freedom as the deadliest threat to their own health. That guy who blocked the door at my local Harris Teeter may never have been called a bootlicker before. Sadly, this is a title that millions of Americans have earned over the past year.   

Interview: Danny Sjursen Explains War in the Age of Biden

Interview: Danny Sjursen Explains War in the Age of Biden

David Gornoski starts the show by commenting on ridiculous establishment-friendly media coverage given to the Biden inauguration. Also in the show, David brings to our attention the recent nonsensical censorship taken against him by YouTube. Plus, Ret. Major Danny Sjursen calls in to give us an overall assessment of the Biden inauguration. What should we make of the increased military presence at that event? Why is there a lack of self-awareness among voters on both sides? How should we assess Donald Trump’s foreign policy? Listen to the full episode to find out and more.

Listen to Danny Sjursen’s podcast on fortressonahill.com

This was originally featured at A Neighbor’s Choice and is republished with permission.

How Small States Enable Wealth: A Historical Analysis

How Small States Enable Wealth: A Historical Analysis

Deepak Lal, a prominent, pro-market, development economist wrote the following words in his 2004 book, In Praise of Empires:

Empires have been natural throughout human history. Most people have lived in empires. Empires and the process of globalization associated with them have provided the order necessary for social and economic life to flourish. By linking previously autarkic states into a common economic space, empires have promoted the mutual gains from trade adumbrated by Adam Smith. Therefore, despite their current bad name, empires have promoted peace and prosperity.1Deepak Lal, In Praise of Empires: Globalization and Order (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 205.

Empires are natural, according to Lal, because they solve a Hobbesian problem of anarchy among independent states. A domestic Leviathan prevents the descent into a “war of all against all” by providing security essential for peace and prosperity in its own territory. In like manner, an “international Leviathan [is] needed to provide order in an anarchical international system of states.”2Lal, In Praise of Empires, p. 4. Without such an order the global economy cannot develop.

Empires arise in the following way, according to Lal. A state originates over a territory when roving bandits settle among a developed agricultural community to exact tribute from it. In exchange, the bandits provide essential public goods such as law and order. With protected property rights, production rises and with it tribute to the state. Other bandit groups become states in the same way in other territories. Although important instances of long-distance trade do occur, the diversity of laws across different states hinders interstate trade.

This sub-optimal equilibrium among states is disturbed when one of them secures an economic or military breakthrough that lowers the costs of or raises the revenue from conquest and administrative control of foreign territory. By enforcing a uniform legal code across its entire span, an empire creates a common economic territory, which protects long-distance trade and fosters economic progress. The greater wealth gives the empire its advantage over small, competing states.3Lal, In Praise of Empires, pp. 5–9.

Actually, Lal has it backwards. The truth is that for the same reason there is no need for an international Leviathan, there is no need for a domestic one. Lal’s argument about the origin of the state is based on an equivocation. He wishes to establish the necessity of the state by invoking the dark Hobbesian state of nature, but desires that the state arising from it is limited in such a way that the market can develop unimpeded. But if the conditions in the state of nature make life “solitary, nasty, brutish, and short” it is because each person exercises his Hobbesian “right of nature” to aggress against everyone else in pursuit of his own survival. The social contract does not limit this power, but vests it in Leviathan. Nothing constrains the Leviathan state in pursuit of its survival. It tolerates private activity not as a matter of individual right, but as a grant of privilege revocable at will, hardly solid grounds for economic progress.

If Lal takes a position on the state of nature that permits the limited transfer of rights to the state in the social contract so that persons could retain property rights against the state thereby permitting the market to develop, then the necessity of the state does not logically follow. Mises agreed with Hobbes that the state of nature is characterized by irreconcilable conflict, but the way out is not the surrender of the “rights of nature” to the state but an exercise of human reason. Mises wrote:

What makes friendly relations between human beings possible is the higher productivity of the division of labor. It removes the natural conflict of interests. For where there is a division of labor, there is no longer question of the distribution of a supply not capable of enlargement….A preeminent common interest, the preservation and further intensification of social cooperation, becomes paramount and obliterates all essential collisions….It makes for harmony of the interests of all members of society.4Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, scholar’s ed. (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1998), p. 669.

What is necessary for society to develop in this case is that people have the capacity to resist the temptation to commit aggression or to suppress those who succumb to such temptation in order to gain the higher productivity of the division of labor. Why the suppression of criminals would have to be monopolized in the state is not clear.

Lal rests his argument in favor of a monopoly on the assertion that in the state of nature people do not share a common authority that could be appealed to in deciding between competing claims. Competing judges would have a fragmented law that would not command the authority of a uniform law. The social contract vests the lawmaking authority in the state to correct this defect. But certainly law exists without the state. And law conducive to the market actually precedes the state, as Mises wrote:

Freedom, as people enjoyed it in the democratic countries of Western civilization in the years of the old liberalism’s triumph, was not a product of constitutions, bills of rights, laws, and statutes. Those documents aimed only at safeguarding liberty and freedom, firmly established by the operation of the market economy, against encroachments on the part of officeholders. No government and no civil law can guarantee and bring about freedom otherwise than by supporting and defending the fundamental institutions of the market economy.5Mises, Human Action, p. 283.

The law that regulates human action and interaction is woven into the fabric of reality. It is embedded in the nature of man. It operates whenever human action takes place. Legislation can neither establish nor improve the natural law. And each piece of legislation contrary to it, hinders its operation. Even if the state could be strictly limited to defense of person and property, it would be unnecessary. The social order of the division of labor and exchange would arise without it.

The common economic space that Lal cites as the justification for empire is the natural condition of man. Benjamin Tucker was right to include in the masthead of his publication, Liberty, the maxim of Proudhon “Liberty: not the daughter, but the mother of order.”

Lal himself concedes this point by admitting that settled communities existed before states emerged from the intrusion of roving bandits who came to live as parasites on them. It must have been the case that non-state provision of public goods, including enforcement and adjudication of law, was already in place. Just as the law governing human action and interaction is a precondition for state codification of it, judging disputes about human action and interaction must have preceded state monopolization of this activity. Moreover, this law must have transcended states for long-distance trade to have developed across state borders. Persons do not need a single authority as judge to submit to the law, as Lal claims, they only need to feel bound to the law itself.

During the period of Israel’s time in the wilderness, people with disputes came to Moses to judge between them. Because the task overwhelmed him, he took the counsel of his father-in-law and appointed judges from among the people. Because the people had been taught the law of God and accepted its authority, they submitted to decisions of the judges. The system of the judges persisted in Israel until the time of Samuel when the people rejected God and His law and demanded a king to judge them.6Exodus 18:13–27; Judges; I Samuel 8:1–22.

Because natural law is universal, it can operate with particular adjudication and enforcement. The common law and arbitration, for example, function consistently with the natural law not because the state is in the background supporting them, but because the natural law itself is operating universally.

If enforcement and adjudication of law can be provided privately in the same market process as other goods, then the state is not merely unnecessary. Because it rests on aggression against person and property, the very existence of the state must impair the social order. As Mises wrote:

Government means always coercion and compulsion and is by necessity the opposite of liberty. Government is a guarantor of liberty and is compatible with liberty only if its range is adequately restricted to the preservation of economic freedom. Where there is no market economy, the best-intentioned provisions of constitutions and laws remain a dead letter.7Mises, Human Action, p. 283.

Mises is right that the state is the opposite of liberty, and for that reason he is wrong to claim that the state, however limited, can be the guarantor of liberty. An institution resting on aggression against private property cannot be the defender of private property.

If, as Lal claims, settled communities pre-existed the state, then the account of the origin of the state given by Hans Hoppe is more plausible than Lal’s. States came from the rise of natural elites within society. Elites emerge in society from the exercise of their superior talents, which earn them wealth and respect. Others turn to them as authorities well-suited to judge in their disputes, a public good the elite performs out of a sense of duty. From this stateless condition, the state comes into existence when the elites illegitimately monopolize the function of judging disputes.8Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2001), pp. 71–72; and idem, “Natural Elites, Intellectuals, and the State,” Mises Daily, July 27, 2006.

As soon as social competition in judging and enforcing the law is eliminated, the price of these services rises and their quality falls. Only competition among states remains to provide a competitive check the state’s predation. If one state plunders too heavily, production falls relative to its rivals. Some from among the productive move their persons and property to the territory of rivals who then have higher population and greater wealth to exploit to their advantage, especially militarily.

Hoppe also points out that monopolization makes the state judge in its own case and therefore, the state will tend to provoke, instead of solve, conflict in order to rule in its favor and thereby, expand its power. Justice is perverted to further the ends of the state. Natural law, immutable and impartial, gives way to state legislation, flexible and partial. Economic progress is hampered not only by legislation’s deviations from the natural law, but by the uncertainty it introduces into social life.9Hans-Hermann Hoppe, “The Idea of a Private Law Society,” Mises Daily, July 28, 2006.

Of greater importance than these considerations of why small states foster liberty is that small states permit the possibility of the emergence of private institutions that transcend the state: churches providing moral and legal codes, families raising children and caring for elderly, schools educating the young, charities giving alms, enterprises producing goods, associations producing public goods, and so on. If the institutions of society sit above the state, then they can constrain the state.

Lal would have us believe that liberty is advanced by entrusting to the centralized state law itself. It is a grave mistake to think that the perversions wrought by the exercise of monopoly power can be suppressed in the more important realms and not in the less important ones. If a monopoly garbage collector introduces inefficiencies unknown on the market, how much more so a monopoly money producer. And if a monopoly money producer is bad for the social order, how much worse a monopoly judge of the law. Surely he cannot resist the temptation to extend the perversion of the law on which his monopoly rests to rule in favor of himself and his allies. Once the state commands the law, it will systematically dismantle the constraints put on it by private institutions. Lord Acton’s dictum is true: “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The weakness of Lal’s defense of empire can be seen in another way. Small states were indispensable to the “European miracle,” the steady economic progress starting in the high middle ages that lifted the masses out of poverty and created the prosperous middle class while sustaining an unprecedented rise in human population. As Ralph Raico wrote in his outstanding overview of the impressive literature on the importance of decentralization to the rise of capitalism in Europe:

The key to western development is to be found in the fact that, while Europe constituted a single civilization—Latin Christendom—it was at the same time radically decentralized. In contrast to other cultures—especially China, India, and the Islamic world—Europe comprised a system of divided and hence, competing powers and jurisdictions. After the fall of Rome, no universal empire was able to arise on the continent. This was of the greatest significance.10Ralph Raico, “The Theory of Economic Development and the ‘European Miracle,'” in Peter J. Boettke, ed., The Collapse of Development Planning (New York: New York University Press, 1994), p. 41.

Not only did small states constrain each one’s predation by the competitive process among them, but within each realm the struggle for supremacy came to center around the assertion of rights. Representative bodies, religious communities, chartered towns, universities, etc., each claiming its rights, limited the power of the king. Eventually, private property rights came to be defined more in line with the nature of human persons and human action, leading to further gains in prosperity and liberty. Innovations in technology, organization, and institutions were permitted by right, giving rise to the distinctive features of capitalism: capital markets, joint stock companies, entrepreneurial activities, capital accumulation, and so on.11Raico, “The European Miracle,” pp. 41–42.

From the tenth century onward, the prosperity of the merchant class began to escape the confiscatory measures of the state and then, slowly but surely the property rights enjoyed by merchants were extended more widely until they encompassed even the lowliest peasant. In other societies, the wealth of merchants was tolerated by the state because it served its interest.

Private property was a privilege granted by the state, not a right against it. And this privilege was not extended to the average person since the ruler, unable to imagine economic progress himself, could not conceive of why doing so would be to his benefit. Innovators who began to amass wealth saw the state swiftly confiscate their property to avoid the rise of a new center of power in competition with its own. Potential innovators took notice. In Western Europe, because there were small states that permitted the assertion of rights, the rising wealth was not confiscated, but instead had a liberalizing effect on the policies of states.12Raico, “The European Miracle,” pp. 43–44.

As Raico noted, scholars have for a long time argued that the precondition for this breakthrough in economic development was Christian ideas. A seminal work in this area is by the great legal scholar Harold Berman. Berman identifies two important areas where Christian ideas were put into practice in ways that liberalized society. First, the rationalization of the canon law on Christian principles provided a model for the transformation of civil law codes throughout Western Europe. Second, the papal reforms of Pope Gregory VII culminated in an independent church capable of judging the state.13Raico, “The European Miracle,” pp. 44–45. See Harold Berman, The Law and Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983).

This process resulted not only in a higher law sitting in judgment of legislation of the state, but higher law based on Christian ideas. As Rodney Stark has argued, Christianity emphasizes the importance of human reason in unfolding God’s will.14Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason (New York: Random House, 2005). Reason applies not only to understanding God Himself through scripture and creation—i.e., systematic theology—but to understanding the nature of creation itself. To discover how creation operates is not only to reveal the mind of God, but gives man the knowledge to obey God’s command to exercise dominion over the world. Man is suited to this task because he is made in God’s image, endowed with reason, motivation, imagination, and other such faculties.

Moreover, Christianity teaches that God is transcendent, separate from and above creation, and therefore, the order man recognizes in the world is decreed by God and infused by Him into the nature of creation. The belief that God regulates creation by the operation of natural laws is the presupposition of both the natural and social sciences.

A substantial literature exists explaining the rise of modern science in Christendom. The great historian and philosopher of science, Stanley Jaki, points out that the original formulation of the laws of motion was by the fourteenth century priests Jean Buridan and Nicole Oresme.15Stanley Jaki, The Absolute beneath the Relative (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988), pp. 141–44. Students and later teachers at the University of Paris, center of the natural law philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, began the scientific revolution. And because such knowledge was, in Christian thought, to inform human action, it went hand in hand with a technological revolution.

It was a small step to apply natural law thinking to social science. Order in society is brought about by the operation of laws that God has built into human nature. In assessing Thomas Aquinas’s contributions to economics, Murray Rothbard wrote:

Perhaps St. Thomas’s most important contribution concerned the underpinning or framework of economics rather than strictly economic matters. For in reviving and building upon Aristotle, St. Thomas introduced and established in the Christian world a philosophy of natural law, a philosophy in which human reason is able to master the basic truths of the universe….Thomism…demonstrated that the laws of nature, including the nature of mankind, provided the means for man’s reason to discover a rational ethics.16Murray N. Rothbard, Economic Thought before Adam Smith (Brookfield, VT: Edward Elgar, 1995), pp. 57–58.

Working in this framework, Buridan and Oresme developed a proto-Austrian theory of money. According to Rothbard:

The main great leap forward in economics contributed by Jean Buridan was his virtual creation of the modern theory of money….[He] broke free of [Aristotelian] shackles and founded the “metallist” or commodity theory of money, i.e., that money originates naturally as a useful commodity on the market, and that the market will pick the medium of exchange…possessing the best qualities to serve as a money.17Rothbard, Economic Thought before Adam Smith, p. 74.

The belief that God keeps order in the social realm by the operation of natural laws leads logically to the conclusion that the legislation of the state is unnecessary for or even harmful to social order.

Complementary to the belief in natural social order in supporting laissez faire was the Christian view of the human person. Each person bears the image of God and thus, stands, in certain respects, as an equal to all other persons. Moreover, salvation is for each person, not the human race, not the nation, not any collective. Empires rise and fall, states come and go, but each individual person will live forever. God has offered salvation to each person by the incarnation of His Son, who was born, lived, and died as a human person. At first, this line of thought resulted in the assertion by some of their rights against the state but eventually it led to conclusion that each person has the same rights to liberty; the proposition of equality in authority or political independence found in John Locke.18Roderick T. Long, “Equality: The Unknown Ideal,” Mises Daily, Oct. 16, 2001.

These laissez-faire currents then fed legal reform. Legislation should conform to natural law and therefore defend private property, contract, and so on. And these legal reforms became the foundation for a commercial revolution.

The legal and commercial revolutions bore their first fruits of liberty and prosperity in the city states of northern Italy during the twelfth century. Venice, Genoa, Florence, and Milan were centers of wealth accumulation not only from trade but also profitable industries in textiles, glassware, iron, and other goods. Crucial to the liberty and prosperity of these cities were the decentralization of power within them and the competing centers of power outside them that could be played against each other. With state confiscation constrained, standards of living steadily improved and populations steadily rose. As the great medievalist Robert Lopez put it, at its peak in the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Italian commercial power, “stretched as far as England, South Russia, the oases of the Sahara Desert, India and China. It was the greatest economic empire that the world had ever known.”19Stark, Victory of Reason, pp. 84–94; Robert Lopez, quoted in ibid., p. 105.

Stark summed up the birth of capitalism in these words, “The ‘rebirth’ of freedom in some parts of Europe was the result of three necessary elements: Christian ideals, small political units, and within them, the appearance of a diversity of well-matched interest groups. There were no societies like these anywhere else in the world.”20Stark, Victory of Reason, pp. 97–99.

In contrast, before the institutionalization of Christian ideas and where power was more centralized in the realm of Charlemagne in the ninth century, the state suppressed economic progress with burdensome taxation and, what Rothbard called “his despotic network of regulations.”21Rothbard, Economics before Adam Smith, pp. 36–37. And where a centralized state suppressed the institutionalization of Christian ideas, such as in Russia, liberty and prosperity failed to arise at all.

Capitalism was spread to northern Europe by merchants from the cities of northern Italy. Interested in trading woolen goods of Flanders with southern Europe, Italian merchants fostered the rise of medieval fairs. The great Fairs of Champagne, beginning in the eleventh century, integrated southern and northern European economic activity into an overarching division of labor. These fairs were made possible because the Count of Champagne was independent of the King of France. When this independence was lost in the late thirteenth century under Phillip IV’s consolidation, the fairs went into decline from taxation.

Italian merchants evaded these depredations by relying on sea routes to the free cities in Flanders.

Established by merchants outside feudal claims and ruled by interest favorable to commerce that found protection from predation of local barons by agreements with distant monarchs, free cities sprang up across northern Europe in the twelfth century. Bankers from the northern Italian cities established branches in Bruges from which they capitalized woolen production in Flanders.

As a center of trade between English fleece producers and Flanders weavers and Flanders producers of woolens and southern Europe, Bruges became the Venice of the North in prosperity as well as canals in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. War with France to annex Bruges as it had southern Flanders caused merchants seeking freedom to move to Antwerp in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

By the late fifteenth century Antwerp was the richest and most well known city in Europe. Fed by the burgeoning exchange from the age of exploration, the volume of trade passing through Antwerp far surpassed that of any port in history to that time. However, Charles V’s subjugation of southern Netherlands led to Antwerp’s decline. Charles V also incorporated Italy into the Spanish realm and state predation, which had been held at bay for half a millennium, was loosed. Venice was the only one of the capitalist cities to avoid this fate. But having lost the balance between eastern and western powers because of the Spanish intrusion, it succumbed to predation by city rulers. Capitalism marched on from Antwerp to Amsterdam as displaced capitalists moved north where capitalism flourished in the late sixteenth and seventeenth century. Eventually, Amsterdam, too, succumbed to Spanish and French intrusions.22On the northern European cities, see Stark, Victory of Reason, pp. 131–47 and on the fate of northern Italian cities, see idem, pp. 171–75.

By the thirteenth century, capitalism was well underway in England. Christian ideas of equality of natural rights had made further progress in England than elsewhere in Europe, which extended secure private property to a wider circle of persons than on the continent. As a result, English capitalism was not limited to cities. Farmers supplied the fleece for the European woolen markets and entrepreneurs innovated manufacturing processes and power supplies. Water and windmills, mechanical devices, and coal power were common by the thirteenth century. The superiority of coal as a source of power led to innovations in mining and shipping, including wagons drawn by horses on metal rails, a precursor to railroads. And the development of coal power led to the invention of the blast furnace for the working of iron and, eventually, to the steam engine.23Stark, Victory of Reason, pp. 147–59.

Each step forward in the development of capitalism was possible because of a decentralized political system and each step backward was from political centralization.

Ignoring the history of capitalism’s origin and progress, Lal claims that the British Empire of the eighteenth century brought about the first global economy to experience genuine economic progress. His claim about the British Empire is an example of the fallacy Raico calls the “timeless approach” to history. Of P.T. Bauer as a debunker of this fallacy, Raico wrote:

Rejecting the “timeless approach” to economic development, Bauer has accentuated the many centuries required for economic growth in the Western world, and the interplay of various cultural factors that were its precondition.24Raico, “The European Miracle,” p. 52.

Economic progress occurred despite, not because of, the British Empire. The product of a culture of natural rights, liberty, and capitalism, the American colonists thrived in the decentralized, nearly anarchic, conditions. While the colonists were building civilization in the wilderness by acting on their natural rights, the British crown pursued its own mercantilist interests. The resulting policies sometimes worked with America’s comparative advantage and sometimes against it, but in no case did the empire further liberty and prosperity.

In the latter cases, the colonists responded with evasion, smuggling, and eventually secession. They did the same when they felt that colonial states aggressed against their natural rights.

Oppressed Virginians left and homesteaded in North Carolina. Pennsylvania, too, was largely without a state in its settlement period, with colonists enjoying the freedom to exit the state’s realm and homestead virgin land.25Murray N. Rothbard, Conceived in Liberty, vol. 1 (1975; Auburn, AL: Mises Institute, 1999). In contrast, areas of the British Empire that lacked these cultural traditions, having no history of liberty and capitalism, failed to flourish. Only now, and without being imposed by empire, are India and other non-Western regions such as China experiencing the blessings of economic progress.

And had capitalism not arisen centuries before from the decentralized political conditions of Western Europe, there would not have been a British empire conducive, to the extent it was, to liberty and prosperity. The thought that persons had rights against the state and should be left alone to live their lives never would have occurred to any British statesman otherwise.

Empires prior to the rise of capitalism were predatory of individual wealth, hostile toward entrepreneurship, and failed to recognize natural rights. And even the Spanish and French empires of the eighteenth century, because they lacked a strong tradition of capitalism, failed to foster liberty and prosperity in their colonies. That non-western countries today can mimic Western prosperity also rests on the precondition that capitalism arose from Christendom with Christian ideas and decentralized states. Whether or not their nascent prosperity proves to be built on the firm foundation of natural rights is not yet clear.

But one thing we do know: liberty was born in Christendom during the Middle Ages. It can be reborn in the same way it arose before. People can once again sanctify the natural rights of man, and civil society can be reinvigorated to once again transcend the state. Our task is to use the scope of action and wealth left to us by the state to advance natural rights and build the institutions of civil society. When liberty and capitalism were born over a millennium ago, states were small, decentralized, and weak. By restoring natural rights and civil society, the state will recede once again. Foremost among those working on this task of restoration is the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.

The Prospects for Liberty Under a President Biden

The Prospects for Liberty Under a President Biden

While some liberty activists may be despondent over recent developments in our country including the coming one-party power in Washington, D.C., there are reasons to be hopeful about the prospects for liberty in the age of Biden.

First, despite what many in the media are saying, the Democrats do not have an unstoppable majority.

Even after picking up two Senate seats as a result of the Georgia elections, the Senate will be “tied” at 50-50, giving Democrats a majority of one thanks to incoming Vice-President Kamala Harris’s holding the tie-breaking vote.

You and I can still block bad legislation from passing the Senate, even if Senate Democrats succeed in abolishing the legislative filibuster. For what it’s worth, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has said he will not vote to get rid of the filibuster, so the filibuster may survive.

Manchin and other Democrats from “purple” states like Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona and John Tester of Montana (a state President Trump won and that returned Republican Steve Daines to the Senate even though Daines was a top target of the Democrats and had millions spent against him), will possibly oppose many of the radical measures pushed by the Bernie Sanders-AOC wing of the Democratic party and even some of the Biden Administration’s more extreme measures.

In addition, the fact that some House Democrats are blaming the party’s loss of House seats on the prominence of self-described socialists like Bernie Sanders and the “Squad” gives us an opportunity to pressure “moderate” democrats to vote against radical measures like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.

The continuing danger is that “moderate” Republicans—like Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—and so-called moderate Democrats will be tempted to “compromise” on smaller steps toward socialism, hoping to show moderate and centrist voters they can cooperate to “get things done,” while telling liberty activists they are doing all they can to stave off the socialist hordes.

The January 6 riot at the Capitol makes the danger all the more pronounced as Republicans will feel pressure to “unify” and “put the current divisions” behind us. Meanwhile, there will be continued efforts to silence critics of the Democrats’ agenda by claiming they are somehow tied to “obstructionists.” This pressure will make some Republicans even more eager to make a deal with the Democrats to distance themselves from the “insurrectionists.”

The slim Democrat majority in the Senate means any “bipartisan” groups of “moderates” or “centrists” could easily hold the balance of power over what legislation passes, unless there is a countervailing force pushing against compromises that advance the statist agenda.

This makes it imperative that we stand firm and make sure the politicians of both parties know we expect them to reject any attempt to compromise away our liberties.

If we put pressure on Congress, we can keep a critical mass of Representatives and Senators from caving into the pressure from “the swamp” to agree to a “consensus” deal that advances statism.

Many pro-liberty groups and activists will fall for the line peddled by the moderates and the GOP establishment that they are doing the best they can, and that we need to be “realistic” in accepting compromises. This makes it all the more important that Campaign for Liberty stand firm and let them know they are being unrealistic if they think the authoritarians will be satisfied with their compromises.

Instead, they will be back for more—unless we stop them.

The left’s modus operandi was summed up by Lenin: “Probe with bayonets, if you encounter mush proceed; if you encounter steel, withdraw.” We must make sure statist authoritarians of all parties encounter steel when they try to take our liberties.

Let’s see how this plays out by looking at some key issues.

The major issue will remain the continued assaults of liberty in the name of stopping COVID. Some think with Donald Trump’s defeat, the political class will declare the COVID emergency over so life will return to normal. I think this theory overlooks how the political class benefits from continuing the COVID panic.

Authoritarians benefit from keeping people in a state of fear: fear of terrorists, fear of mass shooters, fear of economic instability, and now fear of virus. When people are afraid, their natural impulse is to look for safety. And who is always there with false promises of safety? Our “friend,” the state. Therefore, I expect to see the COVID panic extended and used to justify ever more onerous restrictions on our freedom.

Even worse, much of those restrictions will receive “bipartisan” support. Look at the “debate” over the coronavirus spending bills. While opposing the spending levels, few Republicans objected to the content of the bills—including the money for tracking and tracing. We can expect more bipartisan compromises in the war on COVID.

Speaking of spending bills, Biden has already proposed a $1.9 trillion Coronavirus “relief” spending proposal. Included in the proposal is $20 billion for vaccine delivery. Biden’s plan envisions setting up vaccination centers at schools, libraries, community centers, and churches. He also proposes creating a Federal Public Health Corps of 100,000 (as a starting point) individuals to assist with making sure everyone gets vaccinated and is properly tracked and traced.

Speaking of tracking, big tech companies including Microsoft, are working to develop a vaccine passport.

The idea is this will allow you to prove that your vaccines are up to date. Look for increased federal involvement in funding the development of these passports and look for those who refuse the vaccines to be denied access to public buildings, airports, schools, and maybe even bars, restaurants, and movie theaters. We will be told the vaccines and passports are “voluntary” because you can choose to comply, or you can choose to stay at home for the rest of your life.

The Biden proposal represents a major step toward nationalizing medicine by putting the federal government in charge of delivering vaccines. This precedent will be expanded to other treatments.

Even after the coronavirus crisis ends, we will still be continuously told we must remain “vigilant” regarding vaccinations, tracking, and testing, or else COVID cases will surge, requiring another shutdown of the economy.

Just like the PATRIOT Act was used for purposes unrelated to terrorism, the new monitoring and tracking system will almost certainly be used to monitor our compliance with health mandates unrelated to COVID. These may even apply to personal lifestyle choices like whether to smoke cigarettes, eat fried foods, or drink raw milk. It may even extend to gun ownership and political views as part of the push to define “excessive” gun ownership and holding of certain political views as signs of a mental illness.

Fortunately, there is a growing mass of people fed up with “Coronaparanoia.” They are defying the lockdowns and mask mandates, and they are prepared to resist any vaccination mandates. Campaign for Liberty will work to harness this growing discontent and resistance into an effective force that can make the politicians stop using phantom fears of the virus to take away our real liberties.

We can also expect further attacks on free speech this year. In fact, this Congress’ H.R. 1, which is reserved for the Speaker and reflects the leadership’s priorities, is campaign finance “reform” legislation. The legislation includes the DISCLOSE Act. The purpose of this is to intimidate donors from continuing to support liberty causes for fear of being the next victim of the “cancel culture.”

We can expect a huge push on gun control from President Biden and the House Democrats as well.

Remember in the fall of 2019, President Trump and Congressional Republicans were on the verge of making a deal with Democrats on gun control before Speaker Pelosi decided to launch the impeachment inquiry. Again, the danger is not that the Republicans will sign off on the most extreme version of gun control, but rather will accept a compromise on guns.

Joe Manchin also has a horrible history of supporting “compromise” gun control. We will have to put extra pressure on the Senate when the gun control battle inevitably heats up this year.

There are some issues where Republicans will not compromise with Biden and the Democratic establishment. Instead, they will agree on their position or push them to go further.

The most obvious of these areas is foreign policy, where war hawk Biden will be pushed by many Republicans to be more hawkish (and spend more on “defense”). The fact that Biden’s pick for Defense Secretary is a board member of a leading defense contractor is not a good sign for anyone still naïve enough to hope that a Democrat Administration would be different than a Republican on war and peace.

Many Republicans will also go along with what is sure to be a massive push by the Bidden administration to renew the expired provisions of the USA FREEDOM Act and otherwise expand the surveillance state.

Expect any surveillance legislation to give the government new powers to go after “domestic” and “right-wing” terrorists, including anyone who objects to the welfare-warfare state and the fiat money system that undermines it.

In addition to fighting defensive battles, we must also renew our push to Audit the Fed. Those who doubt we will have any success on this issue should consider we had great success in getting a majority of a Democratic-controlled House to cosponsor Audit the Fed in 2009-2010. With the economy on the verge of another major economic meltdown, combined with a challenge to the dollar’s world reserve’s currency status, there could be more attention paid to the Fed, giving us an opportunity to gain major support for the Audit bill.

The forthcoming age of Biden presents us with numerous opportunities and challenges. The major challenge is the danger of compromise by people who should be our allies. The key to stopping this is for liberty-loving Americans to keep the heat on their elected representatives and let them know they must never compromise away our liberties. These battles—particularly the continuing fight against COVID-19 tyranny—give us the opportunities to grow our numbers and spread the message of liberty, thus laying the groundwork for future victories.

With your help, Campaign for Liberty will do all we can to mobilize pro-liberty Americans and attract new recruits to our cause.

This article was originally featured at Campaign for Liberty and is republished with permission.

So, Tell Me, ‘Do You Hate the State?’

So, Tell Me, ‘Do You Hate the State?’

This is a simple question. One you should ask yourself often (some of us ask and answer it everyday). Murray Rothbard’s short article quoted in the title is a masterpiece, but was written in 1977. The last remnants of the gold standard had just been done away with and the remaining soldier/diplomats in Vietnam had come home a couple years prior. We are living in a different world but the question is as relevant today as it was in 1977, maybe a little more so.

Afghanistan is the longest war in American history and is responsible for the death, maiming and torture of countless tens of thousands of Afghanis. That number could be over 100,000 and the people who started it, and refuse to end it, will make sure we never know the real total. The Americans who are sent to fight in Afghanistan suffer the same fate – killed, maimed and sometimes tortured. Often times that torture is mental, in some cases caused by “following orders” of the State, and has resulted in 22 veterans a day committing suicide. Of course those veterans not only served in Afghanistan but also Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Ethiopia and on and on. No matter what you’ve been told, soldiers aren’t peacekeepers. They serve one purpose. Expansion of elitists’ power. By defending and supporting the State, you defend what soldiers are sent there to do.

Many Americans continue to be locked down in their homes. Businesses have been forced to close or operate using guidelines that make it impossible to remain open (“It’s a private business, bro, they can do what they want!” Except open I guess). Wealth has been decimated. Stores that have been open for generations are gone. And if you point this out, people run to default responses like, “you don’t care that people are dying,” or, “you want to see my grandma dead!” But when peer-reviewed studies disputing that lockdowns had any effect are highlighted by “Cathedral” news outlets, they are ignored. The experts are telling you they got it wrong, but they’re not apologizing. Why? Because they don’t care that you lost your nest egg, home, business or loved one to suicide. By defending and supporting the State, you defend the “experts” who did this.

So, they got the lockdowns wrong, the masks are shown to be ineffective, and it has been ten months of a two-week lockdown to “flatten the curve.” After all of the chaos and guessing on their part, after governors sent the infected back into nursing homes to spread the virus to the demographic most affected by it, after every measure they took harmed people more than it helped, they expect us to trust a rushed to market vaccine developed by companies who suffer no liability if it’s ineffective or harmful. And this is where libertarian/anarchists/whatever drop the ball. Medical freedom is one of the most important issues to sovereign individuals and so many are afraid to advocate for it lest they be called kooks or “anti-vaxxers.” If you do not have the ability to decide when and what can be put in your body are you free? Please stop and answer the question. I don’t care that the State exists and claims ownership over the commons. That’s just autistic, Libertarian BS! Are you really free if you can be forced to accept something into your body you don’t want there? Maybe ask a rape victim? “bUt iT’s A pRiVaTe cOrPoRaTioN rEqUiRiNg it! Shut the hell up! By defending and supporting the State, you defend its ability to force anything it wishes into your body and use “private companies” to do it.

I could go on and on with examples but I hope these hit close enough to home. Most people know someone lost, hurt or traumatized by the “terror wars.” Many know, or are themselves, the people destroyed financially and/or emotionally by the lockdowns. And I hope most of you are questioning a vaccine that would almost assuredly have gone through several more trials and tests even in a “libertarian society.” Again, do you hate the State? Do you see costumed morons running around the Capitol building where all of these horrors are planned and clutch at your pearls? If you do, if that’s your first impulse, you’re on the side of the blood-soaked monsters. Why would you want to be there?

News Roundup

News Roundup 1/25/21

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Call or write your members of Congress and Senate - Biden ran on ending support for the war on Yemen, he needs to be pressured to keep that promise. Sign up here Watch here Over 300 organisations from 18 countries have signed up for a call to action against the war on...

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This Morning on Antiwar Radio

This morning on Antiwar Radio: Hassan El Tayyab about how you can help force Biden to end the war against the humans of Yemen. That's at 8:30 Pacific time, 90.7 FM @KPFK in L.A. kpfk.org

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COI #62 – Yemen Can’t Wait

On COI #62, Kyle Anzalone breaks down the war in Yemen. Since 2015, the US has enabled Saudi's brutal air war against the people of Yemen. At least a quarter of a million died in the war. US-made bombs have been used to destroy weddings, funerals, and even a school...

COI #61 – Biden’s Foreign Policy Takes Form

On COI #61, Kyle Anzalone covers Biden's foreign policy. Kyle breaks down the confirmation hearing for DNI Avril Haines and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Haines was confirmed after reaffirming to Congress she will not investigate the torture program. In good...

COI #59 – Save the Whales and Yemen!

On COI #59, Kyle Anzalone discusses several recent news stories. A new study finds US sonar tests are killing whales in the Pacific. The sonar is for detecting submarines but it likely causing marine life to become beached and die. Several Senators in Guam are trying...

Don't Tread on Anyone

The Secret to Saving Progressivism!

https://youtu.be/UDodvhgygd8 Gary Chartier is a left anarchist, consultant, speaker, coach, writer, philosopher, and teacher. http://www.garychartier.net/​ https://c4ss.org/...

Privatize Everything. Hans-Hermann Hoppe & Scott Horton

https://youtu.be/kKlSw-zfcRw ... the only thing we can do for the impoverished Second and Third Worlds — is to tell them: look, here is how we became prosperous: by defending the rights of private property and free exchange, by allowing people to save and invest and...

Liberty Weekly Podcast

How 2021 Could Be Better Ep. 149 ft. Jose Galison

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2oCgFf2cLs&feature=youtu.be I joined Jose Galison on "No Way Jose" to finish up a belated recap of 2020. We discuss the 2020 campaign trail, allegations of election fraud, Hunter Biden, internet censorship, "trusting the experts,"...

Abominable SCOTUS Decisions Ep. 147 ft. Dean-O-Files

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJpiZ1ByEmA&t=3759s Dean is a second year law student at Zoom University, School of Law. He has just finished his Constitutional Law class. He shares his experience in law school. We discuss the SCOTUS cases that your Constitutional...

Year Zero

Ideology And The Death Of Nations w/Coop

Tommy invited Coop onto the show to discuss the parallels between modern culture, relativity, objectivism, and how nations enter the period of their ultimate demise. https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/strangerencounterspodcast/coopfinal.mp3

Red, White, and Clear; An Interview With Me

Last Friday Mike Korbel asked me to be a guest on his podcast, The Invictus Mind. I’ve known Mike a few years and happily agreed to appear. We have a laid back informal chat about the growing technocratic state and how people may find avenues to free themselves from...

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Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism

by Scott Horton

Book Foolssm

No Quarter: The Ravings of William Norman Grigg

by Will Grigg

Book Foolssm

Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

by Scott Horton

Book Foolssm

Coming to Palestine

by Sheldon Richman

Book Foolssm

The Great Ron Paul

by Scott Horton

Book Foolssm

What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

by Sheldon Richman


Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism

by Scott Horton

Book Foolssm

No Quarter: The Ravings of William Norman Grigg

by Will Grigg

Book Foolssm

Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

by Scott Horton

Book Foolssm

Coming to Palestine

by Sheldon Richman

Book Foolssm

The Great Ron Paul

by Scott Horton

Book Foolssm

What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

by Sheldon Richman

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