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TGIF: True Liberals Are Not Conservatives

The relevance of F. A. Hayek’s essay “Why I Am Not a Conservative,” the postscript to his important 1960 book, The Constitution of Liberty, is demonstrated at once by the opening quote from Lord Acton:

At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition. [Emphasis added.]

Who among true liberal advocates of individual liberty and free social evolution — aka libertarians — would deny the truth of that observation?

Hayek had European conservatism in mind when he wrote his essay, and for years, American conservatives, who still had affection for true liberalism, hastened to point this out. As Hayek wrote:

Conservatism proper is a legitimate, probably necessary, and certainly widespread attitude of opposition to drastic change. It has, since the French Revolution, for a century and a half played an important role in European politics. Until the rise of socialism its opposite was liberalism. There is nothing corresponding to this conflict in the history of the United States, because what in Europe was called “liberalism” was here the common tradition on which the American polity had been built: thus the defender of the American tradition was a liberal in the European sense.

Later in his essay, he elaborated that “in the United States it is still possible to defend individual liberty by defending long-established institutions. To the liberal they are valuable not mainly because they are long established or because they are American but because they correspond to the ideals which he cherishes.”

But he noted that “This already existing confusion [over labels] was made worse by the recent attempt to transplant to America the European type of conservatism, which, being alien to the American tradition, has acquired a somewhat odd character.” The confusion was compounded, Hayek wrote, when socialists began to call themselves liberals.

Many still suffer from this confusion today. But change has been afoot because the illiberals of the left and right increasingly want no part of true liberalism or the label — and in a way, that’s good. Those on the left who call themselves progressives or socialists don’t like the label liberal (or neo-liberal) because they associate it with the current permanent bipartisan prowar regime beholden to special corporate interests (so we liberals still have work to do), and virtually all conservatives eschew the label because they don’t want to be mistaken for libertarians. That’s also good.

So Hayek’s essay has new relevance for America. Would Hayek have been surprised? He would have distinguished national conservatism from neoconservatism because of the latter’s cosmopolitanism. But how could he embrace as bonafide allies people who view imperialist war as a way to create “national greatness” and social solidarity, as the neocons do? Hayek would have agreed with Abraham Bishop who said in 1800 that “a nation which makes greatness its polestar can never be free; beneath national greatness sink individual greatness, honor, wealth and freedom.”

Let’s look at Hayek’s problem with conservatism. For him, the “decisive objection” is that “by its nature,” conservatism can do no more than slow down the change that progressives have initiated. That’s not good enough: “What the liberal must ask, first of all, is not how fast or how far we should move, but where we should move.” He acknowledged that although the liberal’s differences with the “collectivist radical” are greater than his differences with the conservative, the latter “generally holds merely a mild and moderate version of the prejudices of his time.” Thus “the liberal today must more positively oppose some of the basic conceptions which most conservatives share with the socialists.”

Explicitly illiberal American conservatives would take issue with Hayek here, but I think Hayek was right. To the extent that conservatives want to use the state to impose their values — through censorship, immigration and trade restrictions, vice prohibitions, antitrust law, cultural protectionism, and the like — they indeed share conceptions with their enemies on the left. The ends may differ, but the means bear an uneasy resemblance. (The late Leonard Liggio used to say that the original socialism arose as a middle way that promised to use conservative means, that is, the state, to achieve liberal ends, that is, industrial progress and widespread wealth. Later a “new left” turned against industrial progress and disparaged the goal of material abundance for all.)

“The main point about liberalism,” Hayek wrote, “is that it wants to go elsewhere, not to stand still.” My sense is that in the last few years, elements of the right have come to appreciate Hayek’s point. They became fed up with mere holding actions and have resolved to push a “positive” program. Unfortunately, it’s a state-saturated program that ought to make genuine liberals sick.

The exception appears to be foreign policy. Right-wing nonintervention seems to have two justifications: first, that the U.S. government is wrong to think it can design the cultures of other nation-states, and second, that the trillions of dollars the government spends on the military and foreign populations could be better used for domestic matters, including “border security.” So even in foreign policy the liberal and conservative bedfellows ought to be uncomfortable.

The liberal’s wish not to stand still is the crux of the matter.

There has never been a time when liberal ideals were fully realized and when liberalism did not look forward to further improvement of institutions. Liberalism is not averse to evolution and change; and where spontaneous change has been smothered by government control, it wants a great deal of change of policy. So far as much of current governmental action is concerned, there is in the present world very little reason for the liberal to wish to preserve things as they are. It would seem to the liberal, indeed, that what is most urgently needed in most parts of the world is a thorough sweeping away of the obstacles to free growth. [Emphasis added.]

Hayek’s embrace of a social order that guarantees change may seem to conflict with other things Hayek wrote that seem more conservative. But I think that may be mistaken. I take him to say that although the new is not necessarily the good, people must be free to try new ways to flourish. It is one thing to personally default to tried and true until something new proves itself worthy (because a tradition’s value may not be immediately apparent), but quite another to empower the state to impede innovation and entrepreneurship, which is disruptive insofar as it is constructive. (Hence I would change Schumpeter’s creative destruction to creative disruption.)

Hayek proceeded to enumerate several differences between liberal and conservative attitudes. The first, as already suggested, is that “one of the fundamental traits of the conservative attitude is a fear of change, a timid distrust of the new as such, while the liberal position is based on courage and confidence, on a preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead.” This for Hayek explained the liberal enthusiasm for the free market’s generation of spontaneous if unpredictable order, and the conservative lack of enthusiasm for such.

Relatedly, unlike liberalism, conservatism displays “its fondness for authority and its lack of understanding of economic forces. Since it distrusts both abstract theories and general principles, it neither understands those spontaneous forces on which a policy of freedom relies nor possesses a basis for formulating principles of policy.” For Hayek, the conservative’s “complacency … toward … established authority … is difficult to reconcile with the preservation of liberty.”

Hayek could have been describing Sen. Josh Hawley and the thinkers behind national conservatism when he wrote: “In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules.”

Hayek faulted the conservative for lacking — indeed, for disparaging — abstract political principles, which are the key to peaceful coexistence among people within a society who have different moral visions:

What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force.

And this point of Hayek’s is especially pertinent:

Connected with the conservative distrust of the new and the strange is its hostility to internationalism and its proneness to a strident nationalism. Here is another source of its weakness in the struggle of ideas. It cannot alter the fact that the ideas which are changing our civilization respect no boundaries…. It is no real argument to say that an idea is un-American, or un-German, nor is a mistaken or vicious ideal better for having been conceived by one of our compatriots.

Hayek continued that “it is this nationalistic bias which frequently provides the bridge from conservatism to collectivism: to think in terms of ‘our’ industry or resource is only a short step away from demanding that these national assets be directed in the national interest….”

As he closed his essay Hayek confessed that since the word liberal had been corrupted, thanks to the French Revolution and other forces, by “overrationalis[m], nationalis[m]” and socialis[m],” it had ceased to a good label for his political outlook, which he shared with Tocqueville and Acton: “What I should want is a word which describes the party of life, the party that favors free growth and spontaneous evolution. But I have racked my brain unsuccessfully to find a descriptive term which commends itself.” (He found libertarian “singularly unattractive” and “manufactured.”)

I could go on quoting Hayek’s essay — which is not to say I agree with all of it — but I fear that would unduly impose on the reader. So I recommend that the entire essay by the self-described “unrepentant Old Whig” be devoured forthwith.

By Banning Russian Oil, Europe Forgot How It Won the Cold War

The European Union is close to reaching an agreement on banning the import of Russian oil. Some Eastern-European member states, particularly Hungary, are trying to obtain exemptions or delays on the implementation of the ban. All in all, however, it seems likely that many if not all EU members will soon agree to ban Russian crude oil completely within the next six months, while refined oil would be phased out by the end of 2022.

The ban is only the latest EU disciplinary economic measure which the bloc has levelled against Russia. On February 24, the starting day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyden announced “massive” sanctions beyond those already implemented after the Russian seizure of Crimea in 2014. If the EU were to reach an agreement on the latest addition, these sanctions will come to target the Russian petroleum industry next to technological transfers, Russian banks, and Russian assets.

The expansion of the EU sanctions follow on the heels of Germany’s surprise move to freeze the approval process of Nord Stream 2 on February 22. This announcement, made even before the invasion had started, further jeopardized the operationalization of the natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, construction on which was already finished in the summer of 2021.

The EU ban of Russian oil and Germany’s policy of energy independence from Moscow demonstrate to what lengths the Europeans are willing to go to put pressure on Putin, even if the sanctions will likely hit ordinary Russians and Europeans the hardest. But will they at all be effective? And is there a better and morally superior alternative? The answer, respectively, is no and yes—as students of the Cold War should know.

Sanctions Are Counterproductive

Commercial and financial penalties as a tool of foreign policy arose in earnest after World War I. The “Great War,” and especially its Wilsonian endgame, entrenched the neoliberal—as opposed to classical liberal—vision of global interventionism. When the League of Nations, the world government that was meant to sprout forward from this ideology, was faced with war-weary western publics, however, economic sanctions started to emerge as an alternative to “humanitarian” warfare. Ever since, sanctions have functioned as a surrogate for military intervention whenever war is deemed undesirable.

If they would have been alive to see them, nineteenth-century liberals would criticize sanctions on the basis that they, like tariffs and other trade barriers, increase the likelihood of international conflict, whereas free trade fosters peace as it raises the costs of war for the would-be belligerents. Indeed, libertarians like Ron Paul, as the political descendants of the classical liberals, have long argued that economic sanctions are an “act of war” on the basis that they are a stepping stone towards war.

Political scientists, on the other hand, hasten to differentiate economic sanctions from trade wars (which are essentially apolitical) and economic warfare (which principally targets an enemy’s military instead of its economy). Economic sanctions, like economic warfare, are aimed at coercing the target government to change its political behavior, but without resorting to arms. The global conflict over Ukraine is thus a good example, as Russia’s detractor nations are not willing to go beyond sanctions and arms shipments by putting NATO troops on the ground or installing a no-fly zone over Ukrainian airspace.

All the more important to be sure that sanctions are effective foreign policy tools, then, given that ordinary Russians and Europeans are the ones who suffer the hardest from trade restrictions and resulting price inflation. However, upon close inspection of all economic sanctions in the half-century between the 1930s and the 1980s, studies have shown that only about 5% of them turned out to have had its desired political effect.

Moreover, in line with Ron Paul’s thinking, economic sanctions, like protectionism, increase the risk of war, as the post-Cold War record shows. In both Iraq and Libya, sanctions have paved the way for war; in Syria they preceded the arming and training of the rebels; in Iran they have only ever increased tensions unnecessarily; and in North Korea, finally, the implementation of sanctions after the regime’s first nuclear tests in 2006 failed to prevent further nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Sanctions are not only counterproductive in the sense that they don’t produce the desired political effect and often fail to prevent military escalation. They also disempower the citizenry they are supposed to induce to rise up. Instead, they strengthen the grip of the target regime. From the Allied blockade on Germany during World War I to the UN sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s, even the most far-reaching sanctions with the most devastating humanitarian consequences have failed to provoke a regime change. Indeed, the handful of sanctions in the 20th century that can be called successful have to do with trivial bilateral conflicts and have thus not prevented the outbreak of major military conflicts.

Having learnt nothing, many Western foreign policy architects hope that the latest round of sanctions will result in Putin’s overthrow, whether they admit it openly or not. Yet, for those who have heard about the rallying-around-the-flag-effect, it does not need to surprise that Putin’s approval ratings soared from 70% to 80% since the invasion. It is precisely because of NATO’s eastern expansion, Western regime change operations, and sanctions that he succeeds—regretfully—in painting Russia as the victim and legitimizing the war at home.

Europe’s Forgotten Cold War Victory

The German shelving of Nord Stream 2 is increasingly seen as a radical departure from the decades-old policy of Ostpolitik, Germany’s stalwart Cold War method of trade with the East. On the diplomatic front, a similar trend has taken hold towards the Ukraine crisis. In 2014, the EU already allowed itself to be rolled over by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who by-passed the more prudent Europeans and was caught hand-picking the post-revolution Ukrainian cabinet and sending then-Vice President Joe Biden over for an “atta-boy” in order to “glue” the coup together. Now, following in the footsteps of Washington once again, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reported to have “urged against negotiations” during his April trip to Kyiv.

Although they now seem to be giving up on trade and diplomacy as strategies for peace, the West Europeans spearheaded these policies during the era of détente in the 1960s and 1970s. Much recent European scholarship on the Cold War has highlighted Western Europe’s idiosyncratic détente strategy. Whereas both superpowers perceived détente as mostly just a military phenomenon necessitated by mutual assured destruction, the West Europeans had a much more optimistic view on peaceful co-existence. The more Western goods and ideas were allowed to penetrate the Iron Curtain, they reasoned, the quicker the East European communist regimes would lose their power base.

To give just one example, the West Germans and Soviets in the mid-1970s reached a multibillion dollar agreement for the construction of the Yamal natural gas pipeline, which is still in operation today. The West Europeans were not afraid that such trade agreements would give the Kremlin some kind of stranglehold over their economies. Indeed, as Willy Brandt told Harvard students as early as 1962, peaceful co-existence “is not just synonymous with the status quo, but instead is a competition which communism is bound to lose.” Moreover, the project was perceived as a symbolic step towards reconciliation between two nations that had fought one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare in the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II.

The West Europeans also resisted American pressure for sanctions on Moscow during the Polish Crisis of 1980-1981. “Why should we punish ourselves with sanctions,” French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson declared, “just because there are developments in Eastern Europe that one cannot accept.” Likewise, successive U.S. administrations tried to kill the Yamal pipeline. Ultimately, however, Ronald Reagan had to cave in, and gas finally started flowing in the late 1990s.

The dispute over Nord Stream 2 is remarkably reminiscent of the West-East conflict over the Yamal pipeline. The Trump administration slapped sanctions on participants in the construction of the pipeline, thereby forcing more than a dozen European companies to back off from the project. Like Reagan, Biden eventually had to let go of the absurd notion of sanctioning America’s NATO allies in May 2021, a couple of months after which construction on the pipeline’s first section was finished. Since then, the Germans have been determined to turn on the oil tap—up until February of this year, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared Germany’s new policy of energy independence from Moscow. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, like Scholz a member of the Social-Democratic Party that spearheaded Ostpolitik during the Cold War, in April declared that clinging on to Nord Stream 2 “was clearly a mistake.”

This symbolic pronouncement, together with German military spending increases not seen since World War II, demonstrate that the twin pillars of West European détente policy—trade and diplomacy—increasingly look like they are dead and buried.

The West Needs to Believe in Itself

The European-centered détente scholarship mentioned above has credited West European Cold War policy with the near-bloodless implosion of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989. As Oliver Bange and Poul Villaume have written in the introduction of The Long Détente, the West European insistence on diplomacy, trade and European re-integration made sure that détente survived throughout the 1980s, which “had a profound impact on the eventual outcome of the conflict between East and West and the quintessentially peaceful framework in which the ‘endgame’ was played.”

Unfortunately, the Reaganite myth that the backing of the mujahideen in Afghanistan and the military “outspending” of Moscow were more important than peaceful competition with communism in bringing down the Soviet Union survives in popular memory.

Likely, this has something to do with the lack of ideological underpinning of the West European strategy. Although peace through trade and diplomacy sounds an awful lot like what the classical liberals would have supported, the architects of European détente were actually social democrats like Willy Brandt, nationalists like Charles de Gaulle, and Christian democrats like Belgian Foreign Minister Pierre Harmel. Surprisingly, the so-called “liberal” parties of Western Europe—if they are even worthy of that label—were its most ardent opponents and leaned more to Washington’s hardline foreign and defense policy throughout the Cold War.

What we therefore need is a reappraisal of classical liberal values. The West needs to understand that free trade and limited government are superior to socialism, protectionism, authoritarianism, and interventionism. Capitalism does not need guns to back it up. The more relatively free societies in the West co-exist with imperial foreign policies, the more youth in the West and people in the rest of the world will slide to the left. That was true at the eclipse of colonialism in the 1960s and is still true today.

Why else would recent polls reveal that the world population views the United States—not the authoritarian regimes in Russia or China—as the biggest threat to democracy and world peace? When American presidents from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Joe Biden proudly paint themselves as the chief guardians of global democracy, the world sees the countless U.S.-engineered coup d’états and U.S. backing of autocratic regimes like Saudi Arabia. When the West claims to defend the “rules-based order” in reproaching Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the world sees hypocrisy and remembers the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. When Western governments pronounce their respect for freedom but crack down on dissenting citizens at home and sanction, combat and otherwise punish dissenting governments abroad, the world believes that capitalism is synonymous with oppression and imperialism.

If we want to restore trust with the Global South and actually succeed in promoting values of liberty, peace and prosperity, we need to turn inward first. The only way to reverse the trend is to repeal government intervention in the domestic economy, restore civil liberties, and to establish a foreign policy of free trade, non-interventionism, and diplomacy.

This Is Who Will Build the Roads

A common counter-argument to many libertarian principles goes something along the lines of, “Without the government, who will build to roads?” Almost everyone who has tried to debate libertarian ideology will encounter this argument at some point. In the minds of many statists, economic services that are almost ubiquitously provided by the government in the United States and elsewhere could not possibly be provided by the private sector, lest they be riddled with market failures and corruption. More often than not, they only make these arguments because they simply have never lived in a society where roads were handled by anyone other than the government, and thus cannot imagine anything different.

In reality, of course, roads are no different than any other good or service. Just as the free market can provide consumers with computers, food, cars, houses, and countless other products which require vast amounts of coordination and technical knowledge to create, they can handle road construction just fine as well. Right now, private companies already build almost all the roads in the United States. They simply get their revenue from government contracts, which are payed for by confiscation of money through taxation, rather than from individual consumers. There are numerous reasons why privatizing roads would not only make them cheaper to build, but also safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.

An argument frequently made against privately-operated roads is that there would be tolls everywhere. You would need to pay a toll to go down the street, to the store, to your friend’s house, wherever it may be, which would have a massive negative impact on the people of the United States and elsewhere. In reality, however, tolls would only really be necessary on freeways and other limited-access roads. Most commercial streets would earn their revenue by charging businesses who wish to operate on them a fee. A system of private property rights would make such a revenue model easy to implement, as road owners can simply prohibit anyone from building driveways or exits that lead to various businesses unless they pay the fee. For drivers themselves, the roads would remain free to use, as building tolls would turn away traffic, thus costing businesses revenue. Most residential streets would operate using a somewhat similar system. Many residential developers would build streets to private residences which they would then maintain for free in perpetuity, in order to increase property values. This maintenance would be guaranteed by a contract which that entity or any successors to it must adhere to, and would thus still be paid for in the event that the firm which initially built the road became insolvent or defunct. Alternatively, individual homeowners could simply pay the road owner a fee, much like the businesses using commercial highways would. In any case, residential streets would also be free for drivers to use, as the inconvenience of tolls would decrease property values.

Private companies can also build roads at a much lower price than the government can. When the government spends money, they do not have to seriously worry about losing the revenue they end up spending. This is because they earn it through taxation, which citizens have to pay regardless of if they like the services they are given or not. At the same time, the firms they contract to provide services know that the government has this moral hazard, and can thus charge higher prices of them than they would private customers. Influencing the government through lobbying, public relations, and other forms of public persuasion assists in this goal. Thus, the government regularly ends up paying 2, 3, 5, 10, 50, even 100 times more for various products than they would normally cost a private consumer. In much of Europe, major highways are owned and operated by private companies. As a result, these nations have some of the most advanced interstate-equivalent systems in the world that are built at much lower prices than roads in the United States are. By building roads at lower prices, these companies are also able to create highways which are much larger, more efficient, and have less traffic on them than government roads would. The disincentive that using a tolled freeway or express lanes would provide would also help, much as market prices helped eliminate product lines in communist countries.

The incentive of competition will also help roads become safer. If a dozen people suffered food poisoning at a restaurant every night, that restaurant will not be in business for much longer, even without any government intervention. The reason for this is obvious, people don’t want to eat at a restaurant which will get them sick. Likewise, people will not want to drive on roads that they are more likely to crash on. All around the world, private roads are consistently safer than their public counterparts. As mentioned previously, governments are the ones who will be building roads and getting the funding to do so regardless of what private individuals may think of them. Thus, they have no serious competition, and this incentive to improve road safety is virtually nonexistent. Even when there may be only one road leading a particular area, the long-term impacts of economic damage and civil litigation that operating substandard roads involves would reflect on equity prices of road companies immediately, thus creating competition incentives in any case.

Lastly, private roads would be much better for the environment than government-owned ones. Currently, people can drive for as long as they want without needing to pay extra for their road usage. This, of course, causes massive amounts of emissions. By charging people to drive on freeways, they will be incentivized to drive as little as possible, thus reducing emissions. Around 16% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions come from road traffic. This number could be substantially reduced by fully privatizing roads and incentivizing people not to drive as much on them.

The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act: From Propaganda to Censorship to Tyranny

Spectacle and theater have come to dominate the political arena today, even more so than ever before. Politicians are now celebrity oligarchs, who use tax revenues to promote their pet projects, and to enhance their personal investment portfolios, while pretending in scrupulously orchestrated performances to care about the populace from whom all of the money they squander is siphoned. Congresspersons who issue dire warnings about global warming jet across the world for photo ops with President Zelensky in Ukraine. The provision by the federal government of Peloton bicycle memberships to the house of representatives and their staff, all on the taxpayers’ dime, will begin on May 18, 2022. Meanwhile, more than 550K Americans are currently homeless. The absurdity of all of this has reached the point where we now seem to inhabit something akin to a sequel to the Hunger Games.

Consider the person recently selected by the Biden administration to head up its new Disinformation Governance Board (DGB), the self-styled “Mary Poppins of Disinformation,” Nina Jankowicz, whose melodramatic mode of “correcting” what she takes to be falsehoods is disturbing to behold, to put it mildly. The DGB is being championed needless to say by spokespersons for President Biden, including former press secretary Jen Psaki, who not only defended Jankowicz as “an expert on online disinformation” and “a person with extensive qualifications” but also expressed perplexity that anyone should take issue with the mounting of the DGB: “I’m not sure who opposes that effort.” This type of gaslighting should be recognized for what it is by now, for it has gone on throughout the Biden presidency, with officials responding with unbridled snark to anyone who raises perfectly valid questions about what they are doing. How dare you?!

“Our patience is wearing thin,” President Biden himself soberly warned the populace in denouncing the reluctance of some of his compatriots to volunteer as pro-bono subjects in a Pfizer experimental medication trial. We were furthermore “informed” in December 2021 by the White House that, for our disobedience, we could look forward to “a winter of severe illness and death.” Given the volume of such nonstop, and frankly surreal, psyops perpetrated on the populace since 2020, and before that as well—albeit usually more subtly—perhaps no one should have been surprised when a figure who could have been plucked directly from either Hunger Games or Brazil arrived on the scene to lead the charge against disinformation and “help” us to determine what we ought and ought not to believe. As if to further test the credulity and compliance of the populace (both of which were largely confirmed throughout the Coronapocalypse), the Biden administration selected to head up its dubious new board a person who has served as the functional equivalent of a Democratic Party operative for years.

Revulsion is a natural reaction to Jankowicz’s appointment, but this particular piece of political theater strikes me as too “on the nose.” The outcry on social media about “Mary Poppins” (whose performances have gone viral) is unlikely to subside anytime soon, which is why I surmise that the selection of Jankowicz may have been intended by the DGB masterminds as a red herring, to distract attention from the profound problems with the very idea of a Disinformation Governance Board. Perhaps the histrionic Jankowicz will be furloughed in response to a barrage of criticism from lawmakers on the right, to be replaced by a more staid and sober character, someone skilled at persuading television viewers that he speaks the truth. In that event, the U.S. populace and their ostensible representatives will have been duped.

Unfortunately, the victims of government-produced propaganda throughout the Coronapocalypse, which judging by its effects amounted to the psychological equivalent of a blunt-force head injury, have become more receptive than ever before to the latest propaganda lines and scams. “I got vaccinated” profile picture frames have been replaced with a beautiful Ukrainian flag, and some people are even donning t-shirts and displaying blue-and-yellow banners in their front yards alongside their “In this house we believe” rainbow placards. While lamenting inflation, caused directly by the profligate printing of currency by the government to fund COVID-19 “rescue” packages, those who support the latest print run of $40 billion for Ukraine appear to have been convinced by the government-vetted pundits on television (who else?) that although Putin is incorrigibly evil and beyond the reach of reason, he would never, ever, even when repeatedly threatened with regime change and his personal demise, resort to the use of nuclear weapons, thus causing World War III and the end of human civilization.

Yes, after two years of government-inflicted trauma about a virus with a 99.5% survival rate, the cloth mask, mandatory vaxx crowd appear to have lost all critical bearings and stand ready to accept just about anything the government asks of them. Remarkably, the “Print $ for Ukraine” bill includes massive allocations to the U.S. State Department ($14 billion), USAID ($4.4 billion), and the Department of Defense ($20 billion) to dispense at their discretion, despite the government’s pathetic record of failing to predict and thwart the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and its instigation since then of a variety of scandalous and immoral initiatives ranging from extraordinary rendition and torture to summary execution by lethal drones of suspects neither tried nor even indicted for crimes.

All of this mayhem got underway in the early twenty-first century with the government “apprising” citizens that Saddam Hussein had WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden. Through such “intelligence community findings,” citizens were deceived by “the experts” into believing that Iraq had something to do with 9/11 and therefore was fair game for attack in 2003. There can be little doubt that in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, politicians’ and the populace’s critical faculties were compromised by the shock of what happened on that day, which best explains why they were so receptive to propaganda at the time.

Two decades later, George W. Bush, despite having wrecked much of the Middle East, now consults with and expresses enthusiastic support for Ukraine’s President Zelensky, who is, according to Bush, “the Winston Churchill of our time.” This farcical scenario serves above all to distract the discombobulated citizenry’s attention from the fact that Bush’s own invasion of Iraq bore similarities, not only to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but also, yes, to Hitler’s various military escapades. All of these leaders’ campaigns were aggressive attacks on sovereign nations during peacetime.

How did we come to inhabit a society in which the government itself continually carries out psyops against the populace? There is a general sense in which the use of propaganda to manipulate the citizenry has always gone on—above all, during wartime—despite the fact that it undermines democracy by compromising the ability to ascertain the truth and freely to support policies, rather than being coerced through deception. A close examination of history (between the lines of textbooks written by spokespersons for the victors) reveals that the same sorts of mendacious tactics have been used by government officials and military leaders in their promotion and prolongation of most, if not all, wars. Fear is a powerful molder of minds, making citizens more, not less, receptive to leaders’ lies.

When President Harry Truman spoke directly to U.S. citizens after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945, he “informed” them that the target had been a military base. In reality, Hiroshima was a pristine site, never subjected to the firebombing suffered by dozens of other Japanese cities. That neither Hiroshima nor Nagasaki was bombed prior to being razed by Little Boy and Fat Man is best and indeed only explained by the fact that they were civilian, not military sites. But the horror of what was done to the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is so shocking that, to this day, war supporters will go to extreme lengths to defend Truman’s decision to destroy those cities. Bush administration officials went even so far as to contort the U.S. government’s own use of atomic bombs into a rallying cry for war in 2003: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud!” We now know that Saddam Hussein had no WMD, just as U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix reported to the world before the Bush cabal waged war on Iraq anyway. Such examples illustrate that the distinction between “information” and “disinformation” purveyed by the government itself has always been difficult to discern in the moment of its utterance.

It is also true, however, that in 2013 President Barack Obama signed into law the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act (H.R. 5736), making it legal for government-produced media—such as was broadcast overseas by Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other outlets throughout the Cold War—to be directed toward U.S. citizens themselves. Needless to say, such government-penned narratives spin the news so as to reflect favorably upon the United States. To understand the sheer power of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, it suffices to do a quick Google of the name of this piece of legislation to see how it has generated a logical quandary befitting of Orwell’s Nineteen Eigthy-Four. For if it is true that the American people are being propagandized by the U.S. government through its control of the major media outlets and tech giants, then any assertion to that effect will be countered—and ultimately defeated—by yet more government propaganda.

The fact that the complete negation of the original Smith-Mundt Act was deceptively labeled the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act marked the first stage in what might be termed the Orwellian turn. Unsurprisingly, a lengthy list of articles calling out the alleged piece of “disinformation” that “Barack Obama legalized government propaganda against citizens” appears at the top of the Google search results. Among the critics who warned about the new Act was now-deceased investigative journalist Michael Hastings, who also, it is worth mentioning, expressed concern about the dangerous influence of the Pentagon’s “public relations” wing, which already by 2009 employed 27,000 persons full-time as war marketeers. A number of other notable figures who sounded alarms about the dangers of government propaganda and overreach are now dead, imprisoned, or living in exile.

The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (signed into law as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013) arguably set the United States on the path toward the erection of a full-fledged Ministry of Truth and the consequent shrinking of citizens’ liberty. Only time will tell whether this piece of legislation alone will suffice, as deployed by the new Disinformation Governance Board, to strip citizens of their First Amendment right to free speech when they attempt to reject the first premises of the DGB itself. If so, then Barack Obama will bear primary responsibility for the totalitarian system to ensue, whatever his intentions may have been.

For with the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act already in place, there are only two short steps to the complete squelching of dissent. First, the government controls the media through injecting many pro-government texts into the marketplace of ideas. This is obviously already being done, and has been unabashedly pursued since the ratification of the Act. (To dispel any doubts that this is happening, it suffices to turn on the mainstream network news.) Second, among the government-promoted ideas will now be the claim that the newly established Disinformation Governance Board does not violate the Constitution of the United States. Once lawmakers have been persuaded to believe this, then the DGB will have the power to eliminate what they themselves have identified as disinformation, including the very claim that the DGB is illegitimate. After that will follow the censorship of the texts of anyone who disagrees with the government and, ultimately, the criminalization of those who “persist” in promulgating ideas deemed “threatening” by the powers that be. The danger of all of this to free people is very real, as the plight of whistleblowers in recent years has already revealed.

The very claim that any human being is “qualified” to serve as the Czar of Truth illustrates how ignorant the supporters of this frightening initiative are of the history of censorship used by dictators to eliminate inconvenient opinions—that is, those which conflict with the current group of administrators’ policies and beliefs. It also helps to explain what happened from 2020 to 2022, when a single man, Anthony Fauci, was decreed by the U.S. government the final authority on “The Science” and transformed into the darling of the mainstream media.

The first generation of pandemic propagandists (and given the impressive profits reaped by Pfizer, there will be more…) studied and deployed the fear-based post-9/11 playbook. In 2020, when citizens were “informed” by public health guru Anthony Fauci and vaccine entrepreneur Bill Gates that they were facing something akin to the Black Plague, necessitating that they cease all social activity and refuse to leave their homes, nearly everyone fell in line. Lockdowns, mandatory vaccinations, schoolchildren forced to wear masks and either Zoom from home or work at desks enclosed by Plexiglas—all of this was just part of “the new normal” to which many citizens were willing to comply, in heartfelt efforts to save their own and their loved ones’ lives.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, government officials and their associated mainstream media pundits “informed us” that citizens are not capable of doing their own research. That doctors who disagreed with public health officials were quacks. That nonpatented treatments were so ineffective (and poisonous!) that the government needed to ban them. Looking back over all that has transpired, it seems difficult to deny that the notion that only pro-Big Pharma supporters are qualified to give sound medical advice was just another Pfizer-sponsored marketing line. Not at all unlike the FDA-approved propaganda used to persuade, and indeed pressure, doctors to prescribe and patients to ingest powerful narcotics marketed as nonaddictive, when in fact they directly generated the opioid crisis raging on still today.

Among other recently debunked disinformation disseminated by the government, we know that the Hunter Biden laptop was neither planted by the Russians nor a “Trump campaign product,” as Ms. Jankowicz herself so confidently (and cleverly!) characterized it in October 2020. The supposed appointment by the Russian government of Donald Trump as president also never took place, pace Hillary Clinton, who it seems safe to say will go to her grave championing that now debunked tale. Holding a master’s degree in “disinformation studies” from Georgetown University makes Jankowicz as qualified as anyone else to be the Czar of Truth. But that’s only because no human being is or ever could be qualified to hold such a position.

Any head of the DGB (whether Jankowicz or her Republican Party–approved replacement) will represent an administration which vociferously promoted the use of cloth masks and the need for mandatory vaccinations, ignored the reality of natural immunity, and claimed that the Hunter Biden laptop was planted by the Russians. The path forward, therefore, seems clear. All we need to do, given the government’s easily documented record of promoting manifest falsehoods, is to adopt a simple heuristic device. We should conclude not-p whenever the head of the DGB asserts that p is the truth. When the claim is made (as it will continue to be) that “The Deep State does not exist,” we should conclude that it does. When the Czar of Truth asserts that (2 + 2 = 5), we should obviously conclude that it is not the case that (2 + 2 = 5).

To take the most pressing of current examples, we have good grounds for believing that the government’s position on the Ukraine-Russia conflict is precisely the opposite of the truth. Indeed, the very fact that confirmed war criminal George W. Bush has taken time out of his portrait painting schedule to promote the proxy war against Russia should bolster our belief. Yes, the same George W. Bush who triumphantly announced the end of the Iraq war on May 1, 2003, during a superlative theatrical performance on the deck/stage of an aircraft carrier where he wore as costume a fighter pilot’s jacket and stood before a huge banner proclaiming Mission Accomplished!

Through concerted campaigns of fear-mongering, citizens have been reduced over the course of the twenty-first century to the intellectual equivalent of small children who helplessly accept whatever “the adults” decree and parrot precepts such as that we must leave all weighty matters to “the experts”—as though the persons in appointed positions were not specially selected by politicians with agendas to promote and stock portfolios to enrich. Those who wave their Ukrainian flags continue to labor under a barrage of government-generated propaganda and seem already to have forgotten that the wealthiest military on the planet was unable even to prevail against the rag-tag Taliban in Afghanistan. The bulk of voters derive all of their information about foreign policy from the government-captured mainstream media and tech giants. (Yemen? Where’s Yemen? Who cares?) As a result, most people appear to be altogether oblivious to the magnitude of corruption uncovered by audits of the taxpayer funds dispensed throughout the Global War on Terror.

Supporters of the proxy war in Ukraine express moral indignation that Senator Rand Paul should have delayed the doling out of billions of freshly printed money “for Ukraine” by insisting that an Inspector General report back on how the funds are spent. But the truth is the truth, no matter what the government’s propaganda ministry may say: After spending trillions of dollars on the Global War on Terror, enriching mercenaries and war profiteers all along the way, while slaying hundreds of thousands of innocent people and wrecking the lives of many more, Afghanistan was left to the Taliban, who naturally inherited all of the wartime matériel left behind by the invaders of their land.

As anyone familiar with intellectual history is well aware, the problem posed by the DGB is not peculiar to the current crop of corrupt and coopted hypocrites holding positions in the U.S. government. In order for any committee headed up by anyone anywhere to be able to pronounce authoritatively whether a given utterance is a piece of disinformation or not, they would need to have some means for distinguishing truth from mere opinion, and knowledge from mere belief. The perennial philosophical problem, addressed by thinkers at least as far back as Socrates and Plato, is that human beings are inextricably mired in opinion and belief. In creating democratic societies, modern people rejected Plato’s notion of Philosopher Kings, who, having made their way out of The Cave, supposedly have privileged access to The Truth. In recognition of the fallibility and limited perspectives of all human beings, Western liberal states have affirmed, through their constitutions, the importance of John Stuart Mill’s marketplace of ideas, and devised mechanisms, courts of law, by which to resolve disagreements over the facts.

That the newly created Disinformation Governance Board should have been announced at about the same time as the leak of what looks to be the impending Roe v. Wade reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court may or may not be coincidental. But the peril of permitting government appointees to decree from their position what is and is not disinformation, while simultaneously undermining the legitimacy of the court system, cannot be exaggerated. Without the court system, as flawed as it is and can only be, since all parties involved are fallible human beings, we would find ourselves in the sorry system of not just our current corrupt oligarchy but a full-fledged tyranny disguised as a democracy.

The danger before us is not, however, merely domestic. Despite all that we have been through and learned about the sheer incompetence of public health and other government officials over the course of the twenty-first century, the World Health Organization (WHO) is now maneuvering to establish a global governance scheme which will strip all citizens of participating nations of their civil rights in the event of the arrival of another pandemic on the scene. Because pandemic has been redefined by “the experts” to include viruses such as COVID-19 with a 99.5% survival rate (similar to that of the seasonal flu), such a treaty would spell the end of personal liberty and bodily autonomy, with citizens criminalized for not accepting injections of whatever the WHO deems necessary in the name of public health. If this initiative succeeds, it will be because politicians, who are no less vulnerable to propaganda than anyone else, have been persuaded to accede to a treaty which effectively enslaves their constituents.

French, German, and Italian Heads of State All Endorse Negotiated End to War in Ukraine

In recent weeks, the leaders of the three largest EU countries by population—France, Germany, and Italy—have all come out in favor of negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow as a way to end the fighting in Ukraine.

Unlike President Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have all spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The three European leaders have all signed off on sending weapons to the Ukrainians but have also been calling for a ceasefire. After speaking with Putin by phone on Friday, Scholz wrote on Twitter: “There must be a ceasefire in Ukraine as quickly as possible.”

In an address to European Parliament last week, Macron said, “We are not at war with Russia.” He said that Europe’s “duty is to stand with Ukraine to achieve a ceasefire, then build peace.”

Draghi met with President Biden last week, and after the meeting, the Italian leader, who previously discouraged talks with Russia, said it was time to start thinking about a peace deal. “We agreed that we must continue to support Ukraine and put pressure on Moscow, but also begin to ask how to build peace,” Draghi said.

“People…want to think about the possibility of bringing a ceasefire and starting again some credible negotiations. That’s the situation right now. I think that we have to think deeply on how to address this,” Draghi added.

After the Biden-Draghi meeting, the White House still appeared to be uninterested in negotiations. “We feel the most constructive role is to continue to support the Ukrainians’ hands at the negotiating table and support them militarily,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently spoke with his Russian counterpart for the first time since Russia invaded, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the U.S.’s top diplomat, has yet to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The two diplomats last spoke on February 15.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shares Washington’s view on negotiations. Johnson recently told Macron in a call that he “urged” Ukraine not to hold talks with Russia and reportedly told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 9 that even if Kyiv was ready to sign a deal with Moscow, the West was not.

Other hawkish NATO countries have come out against talks with Moscow. In early April, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki slammed Macron for speaking with Putin, likening it to “negotiating with Hitler.”

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

Lindsey Graham Spearheads U.S. Regime Change Effort in Russia

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has whipped up U.S. opposition against Vladimir Putin like a would-be Stonewall Jackson.

Even before the invasion, on February 22, 2022 Graham announced he’d be working with his Democratic colleagues to “create a task force of the Department of Justice, Department of State, Treasury, and maybe DOD to go after [Russian] oligarchs,” adding, “I want to see cops take apartments, fine art, and seize yachts from a bunch of thugs and crooks. I want to put money on the table to have more weapons for Ukraine to fight. I want more protection when it comes to cyber, and I want to go at this big and I want to go at it hard.”

In the wake of the invasion, on March 3 Graham introduced a Senate Resolution condemning Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian state as war criminals. The Resolution, which unanimously passed the Senate on March 15, also proclaimed support for investigations of Russian war crimes pending in the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This proclaimed support comes despite the fact that the U.S. has repeatedly undermined the courts’ jurisdiction over itself and investigations it disproves of.

That same day, Graham took to Twitter to voice his desire that “somebody in Russia…take this guy out.” Graham’s comments drew the ire of even his fellow Russia hawks, with Ted Cruz (R-TX) calling Graham’s suggestion an “exceptionally bad idea.”

A week later, on March 10, 2022, Graham appeared on Fox News to pressure the Biden Administration into providing MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine through Poland. In his tough-guy tirade, he repeatedly called the Biden Administration “dishonorable,” saying it “folds at every turn” when it comes to Ukraine. Near the end of the interview, Graham doubled down on his call for regime change in Moscow:

They [the Biden Administration] had a plan where the Ukrainians would fight hard and fold in a week. They’d come in with some BS deal, the [Biden] administration, to carve up the Ukraine and say we saved the world from World War Three. That plan is off the rails now because the Ukrainians have taken the fight to the Russians. We overestimated the Russian capability. So their biggest nightmare in the administration is for this to end badly with Putin because they don’t have a plan for him to go. I want it to end badly for Putin because I want to get rid of him. [Emphasis added].

On March 16, Graham introduced an additional Senate Resolution urging the Biden Administration “to facilitate the transfer of aircraft, such as MiG-29s, and air defense systems to Ukraine.” In a corresponding press conference, he said:

How does this end? We cannot let Putin get away with this. After 20 years of murder and war crimes and thievery, it’s led to this moment. Every time he did something outrageous, the world complained, but not enough. Now he’s crossed the Rubicon where there’s no going back. If he’s still standing when this is over, then you can almost bet that Taiwan goes and that Iran will become more belligerent. [Emphasis Added]

The very next day, on March 17, Graham again took to Fox News. After poo-pooing the possibility of a nuclear exchange, he escalated his rhetoric:

If you’re looking for scum and traitors in Russia, Putin, look in the mirror. You’re the scum, you’re the traitor, you’re the guy who should be facing criminal charges, or be taken outI don’t consider [Putin] a legitimate leader of Russia. Russia is suffering under Putin maybe as much as any other time in history. So, when I say he has to go, he has to go, because he is a war criminal. He’s a murderer, he’s a thief, he’s a disruptive influence. He wants to recreate the Soviet Union. The way he goes is when the Russian People turn on him. The purge I’m looking for is when the Russian People rise up and take him out…So yes, I want to give my voice to the idea that he’s not a legitimate leader. He’s a war criminal. He needs to  go and I’m urging the Russian People to bring that about, to end this reign of terror. That’s what I believe, I believe it with all my heart…  [Emphasis Added]

On March 24, in his next now regular Fox News appearance, Graham called for Joe Biden to repeat his regime change rhetoric. He said, “[w]hat would I like the President of the United States to say? I believe Ukraine can win. I am committed to them winning. I will hold Putin accountable—he needs to go. He’s a war criminal on an industrial scale.”

Two days later, President Biden echoed Graham’s call for Russian regime change while delivering a speech in Poland. In his wandering, poorly-enunciated prose, Biden managed to call Putin a “butcher,” saying “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” These comments were quickly walked back by his press corps and framed as a “gaffe.”

However, by April 5, citing the Bucha attack, President Biden doubled down, parroting Graham’s myriad calls for Putin to be tried for war crimes. Graham praised Biden’s remarks, saying: “There can be no ‘forgive and forget’ when it comes to Putin. We must hold him accountable for the Rule of Law to mean anything.”

On April 22, after returning from a trip to Australia, Taiwan, and Japan to stoke American Cold War efforts against China, Graham again called for regime change in Moscow, saying: “Right now, there should be nothing left on the table when it comes to Putin, and we should put every form of weapon within reason into the hands of the Ukrainians. They’re willing to fight.”

On May 10, Graham co-authored and introduced yet another Senate Resolution. The resolution, if passed, aims to denounce the Russia Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism and would call on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate it as such. To date, it is Senator Graham’s most dangerous concrete step towards regime change in Moscow.

In his press statement, Graham made it clear that the declaration intends to: “let the Russian people know that our fight is with Putin, and as long as he is your leader, engaging in these activities, you will be isolated on the world stage.”

In conjunction with his press statement, Graham also penned an op-ed for Fox News in support of the Resolution. The op-ed, titled “4 reasons to label Putin’s Russia a state sponsor of terrorism,” does not, in fact, provide four reasons to do so, but instead lists four categories of sanctions Washington could impose through the designation:

First, it would restrict U.S. foreign assistance to Russia.

Second, it would ban U.S. defense and export sales to Russia.

Third, it would impose certain control over U.S. exports of dual use items.

Lastly, it would allow the U.S. to impose additional financial and other restrictions on Russia. Importantly, its designation is a clear message to the rest of the world that doing business with Russia is a bad idea and will come with severe consequences.

Graham’s op-ed accuses Putin of having “terrorized innocent civilians all around the world,” citing Russia’s involvement in Chechnya, Libya, and Syria.

Graham fails to note, however, that the U.S. has no moral standing to accuse Russia of war crimes, especially in Libya, where Washington’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi resulted in, inter alia, a humanitarian disaster and a civil war that would see the establishment of open-air slave markets.

In Syria, Washington’s efforts to overthrow Assad would see U.S. leadership, including Lindsey Graham, back ISIS. Senator Graham knows this because it was explained to him by then-Chairman of the U.S. joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, during a 2014 Senate testimony. Graham is also likely aware that the U.S. flew air support for ISIS in Syria.

Further, as former FBI lawyer Coleen Rowley reported, U.S. leadership was involved in Chechnya. She writes: “the Chechen ‘terrorists’ proved useful to the U.S. in keeping pressure on the Russians, much as the Afghan mujahedeen were used in the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1980 to 1989.” Indeed, several U.S. politicians and neoconservative policy makers supported the Chechen cause.

Washington’s support for war criminals extends beyond the cases that Graham cites, most recently in its ongoing support for the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Azov battalion.

If Russia is declared a state sponsor of terrorism, it will be incredibly difficult to rescind the designation. There are only two ways to remove a nation from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list. The first would require “a fundamental change in the leadership and policies of the government of the country concerned.” Both options would require the President to certify and report to Congress that the subject nation has not provided any support for acts of international terrorism in at least the preceding 6-month period and that the government concerned has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future. Putin is unlikely to ever do this in a way that would satisfy President Biden or US officials.

Last Sunday, when speaking with Fox News Host Bret Baier, Lindsey Graham said: “there is no off-ramp in this war,” adding, “I want to triple down on beating Putin.” For Senator Graham, this is a desired result. If Russia is placed on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, it would further commit the United States to a path of escalation with Russia.

Washington has arguably become a direct party to the War in Ukraine. The U.S. and its NATO allies are financing the war, supplying Ukraine with weapons and training its military. There are reports that Washington has helped Ukraine kill Russian Generals and sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. More broadly, there is evidence to suggest that the U.S. has sabotaged peace negotiations, effectively “ordering Ukraine to subordinate its goals to the larger Western Goals.”

Russian officials largely concur. On April 26, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said “NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war,” The Speaker of the Russian State Duma said on May 7, “the U.S. is taking part in the military operation in Ukraine. Today, Washington is basically coordinating and engineering military operations, thus directly participating in the military actions against our country.” Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned May 12 that NATO is risking “a full-fledged nuclear war” by supplying Ukraine with weapons and intelligence.

Unfortunately, it appears Lindsey Graham’s May 10 Resolution has gained support. On Sunday, May 15, after returning from a surprise visit to Kiev, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called on President Biden to make the designation, saying “the President could do it on his own, and I would urge him to do it.”

If Graham and company are successful and the U.S. names Russia as a State Sponsor of Terror, Americans will be further committed to the spiraling escalation over Ukraine. It bears repeating that this policy could very well result in the destruction of the human race.

Welcome to Grokfest, New Hampshire’s New Liberty Festival

Since the Free State Project began working to move liberty-minded individuals to the small New England state of New Hampshire, the sheer volume of libertarians and libertarian-adjacent people in the state has ballooned. What was once a small group of dedicated liberty activists has grown to leave a massive mark on the politics and culture of the mostly-rural Granite state, but the goal of “Liberty in our Lifetime” stays the consistent focal point for what could be described as a homeland for liberty.

With more movers than ever before, the yearly liberty festival Porcfest has grown exponentially, with many people showing up simply to have a respite from endless lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine passport schemes that plague other states. For many of the newer attendees, Porcfest (short for “Porcupine Freedom Festival”) is a vacation to a libertarian society.

With demand for liberty higher than ever, the supply of liberty events and festivals seems to be increasing in the Granite State. In 2017, the first “Forkfest” was held, also at Rogers Campground in Lancaster. This year, “Grokfest” describes itself as, “A gathering of mostly-normal people who enjoy the outdoors, good conversations, and great food.” This was the first Grokfest, and is being hosted by Cynthia and Brian of the Garnet School of Self-Sufficiency. Events include a “UTV Fun Hunt” with water-guns, as well as a happy hour with a cash bar, firearm classes, and a cornhole tournament.

I attended the first ever Grokfest this year and spoke with Cynthia. I asked her what Grokfest is all about.

“First and foremost, it’s about community—the Liberty Community. I wanted to provide an alternative to Porcfest: something more centrally located, not as crowded, more of a focus on quality of life, learning, laughing, and creating your own fun. One difference is the people and activities are the entertainment, rather than being ‘entertained’ by a bunch of speakers—which doesn’t seem very social to me.”

I asked her about new movers to New Hampshire, and even though she feels Porcfest is crowded, she doesn’t seem to think that new movers are a problem. “I have personally gotten several families to move to New Hampshire in the past year. That’s a great feeling!” she said.

When speaking with free-staters, there’s a strange mix of excitement and occasional nostalgia. On one hand, the excitement of knowing that movers are arriving faster than ever, plans for freedom are more successful than ever, and that New Hampshire is more free than ever is omni-present, but sometimes there’s a twinge of sad nostalgia for the liberty community that once was. The same people are still here, but as humans we are limited by Dunbars number. Instead of a single, monolithic liberty community, we instead have many hundreds of liberty communities based on the associations and friendships of liberty lovers. These are often shaped by specific interests, whether in gardening, backpacking, bill review, shooting, crypto-currency, pantry-building, or even MMA-fighting, with the sheer number of liberty lovers in such a small place (at least 6,200 if you go by just movers that are tracked by the FSP itself), it seems only natural that people gravitate toward those they share the most in common with.

Self-sufficiency is on the minds of many liberty-lovers across the world, and when it comes to free-staters, they aren’t any different. That’s why the organizers of Grokfest started the Garnet School of Self Sufficiency. There, they host classes on topics such as making Jam, Jerky, Cider, and Maple Syrup. They also have classes on firearms safety, beekeeping, and first aid. At Grokfest, I attended their foraging class, which included a walk along a path and various stops to point out inedible and edible plants, as well as tasting the latter. I learned that birch-tree leaves actually make a very delicious tea, so since I live in an area with a plethora of birch I’ll likely store some of that for the winter in my pantry.

I asked Cynthia what inspired Grokfest. “I found out that Porcfest was out of sites, and I realized there was a void that the market had to fill,” she said. Cynthia explained how she is attending Porcfest this year, but is going to be sharing a site.

With Porcfest very much full, it is really wonderful to see that the liberty community is hosting other festivals to accommodate camping and socializing among other liberty people. Cynthia and Brian intend to host another Grokfest later this year, in the fall. They also intend to host Grokfest 2023, but slightly later in the spring to take advantage of warmer weather.

“The Fall one will have apple picking and cider pressing. It’s a lot of fun for kids and adults! And we’ll make ratatouille from the garden harvest as another project, we’ll have composting demos, and a living-room garden class, growing things in your living room over the winter. We are both very curious, creative and crafty, and like to teach.”

Creative and Crafty is how I’d describe the tent sites. Each tenting area has a name such as “Area 51,” “FEMA Camp,” and “Bohemian Grove.” Each also hosts an outhouse that matches the theme of the campsite. Signs, complete with flowerbeds, welcome you to each area. I chose to stay at Bohemian Grove, which granted me an excellent view in a quiet location.

The very first Grokfest was a swell time, a down-tempo and chill event that reminded me of Porcfests of years gone by. It didn’t have the crowds, it didn’t have the major libertarian names hosting talks, it didn’t have a bunch of vendor stalls where you could buy kratom-infused butter-coffee. Instead it had good fun for friends and family, an environment where you can let the kids run around and play on their own in the full knowledge that they’ll be safe. I certainly hope to attend the next one, and if you come up to New Hampshire, maybe I’ll see you there, too.

Why I Paid to Watch Dinesh D’Souza’s New Documentary

“I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake,…[A]nd if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.”- Hillary Clinton (2006 Audio Emerges of Hillary Clinton Proposing Rigging the Election, Observer.com, October 28th, 2016)

It’s official. Hillary Clinton spread election misinformation on the 2016 presidential debate stage by claiming 17 intelligence agencies had confirmed Russian interference in the election. And in 2020 Joe Biden spread misinformation on the presidential debate stage, along with dozens of intelligence officials up to and including former Directors of the CIA from both parties, alleging the Hunter Biden laptop story was “Russian disinformation.” Was this the only election meddling that took place in recent presidential elections?

Dinesh D’Souza has directed a phenomenal new movie on the 2020 election titled 2000 Mules. The film defines a “mule” as “[A] person that is involved in picking up ballots from locations and running them to the drop boxes,” aka paid ballot traffickers.

Not only does such an issue exist, but like every other atrocity, it’s bipartisan. The first example of selective ballot trafficking D’Souza mentions is the 2018 election in North Carolina, where a Republican congressional campaign was caught engaging in such illegal activities using absentee ballots.

Using geolocation techniques and security camera footage, D’Souza and his team were able to identify hundreds of these mules in battleground states during the 2020 presidential election which could have easily swayed the results. Around the 31 minute mark you can find one mule dropping off ballots at 28 drop boxes in a single day. A number of these individuals even take pictures of them placing the ballots in the box, then throwing away gloves they were wearing immediately after the drop off.

img 1131Why I Spent Money to Watch This Movie

In 2014 I was in Chandler, Arizona voting at Sanborn Elementary School on Chandler Blvd. & McQueen. In the short amount of time I was there, I witnessed voter fraud. In place of a name, an address was given to the poll watchers at the front desk, and one person voted for another member of the household they lived in.

I’m reminded of the time when I was in high school and my dad came home very early from work to find my friends and I chewing tobacco and drinking whiskey. He said something like, “I come home early one time, and this is what you’re doing? No way in hell is this the only time it happened.”

My dad was right. And I don’t believe for a second the one time I went to a voting location was the only time such fraud occurred. With all the corruption and new voting rules that were implemented, is it any surprise 50,000 voters received the wrong ballot in Ohio? Or that people living in two states have been caught voting twice in the same election?

The Main Issue

Looking at the monarchical system of the past, many intellectuals incorrectly blamed the shortcomings of said monarchies on the elitist character of the kings and queens who flaunt their royalty.

The problem with monarchy is not elitism or some people having a huge sway in society. Anytime people organize a very small portion of people have most of the influence. This is known as the Iron Law of Oligarchy. The problem with monarchy lies in the fact that one organization, the state, has an exemption from morality by having a monopoly on violence within a geographical area. The state has a recognized right to do things to people that would clearly be criminal if any other organization did them.

Imagine the Catholic Church (or any person or group of people) doing what the state does every day;

Everyone who doesn’t give the Catholic Church 25% of their annual income every year will be put in jail, and if they resist the Jesuit officer, the officer has a right to shoot them. Everyone by law must chip in to Catholic Church School, and if parents don’t send their kids there they will be jailed for a truancy law violation. Most people need a license by force of law from the Catholic Church in order to work, this way the Church can keep you and customers safe. And all humans have a nine-digit Cathoilic Security Number so the Church knows who’s who. If the Catholic Church decides to wage war on the Church of Scientology, everyone must be forced to fund the war and men ages 18-41 will be conscripted to perform forced labor against their will.

The problem with this situation is not that we don’t get to vote on who the Pope is once every four years and the votes need accurate counting. The problem is some people claiming an exemption from common sense morality by engaging in non consensual activity.

The solution is to decriminalize all capitalist acts between consenting adults and cease to have moral double-standards for elites and laymen alike. In short, privatize everything. Incentives of profit and loss allow you to harmonize individual self-interest and collective well being. It’s also a morally justified system since it relies on voluntaryism while recognizing the right of self defense.

Overall, I give the movie an 8.8/10. The amount of research put together for this alone was very impressive, not to mention D’Souza’s unapologetic claim in the final scene which I won’t spoil.

I’ll end with my favorite D’Souza quote from one of a previous film:

“This is capitalism’s trump card. It encourages creativity and empathy, and puts them at the service of the wants and needs of the people.The inequality the socialist left despises, isn’t created by the entrepreneur. It’s created by us. The proud boast of Democratic socialism is that it puts the people in charge of the economy. What control do you have over the post office or the DMV? We vote in elections every two or four years, but as consumers we exercise our choices daily, directly through the market. The free market is far more reflective of popular consent, than democratic socialism. We don’t have to extend democracy from the political to the economic sphere, b/c we already have it. Capitalism, not socialism, is the true form of social justice.”- Dinesh D’Souza, Trump Card: Beating Socialism, Corruption and the Deep State


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