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The Myth of Nordic Socialism

The Myth of Nordic Socialism

Socialism has failed repeatedly. Wherever you look—Cuba, Venezuela, India, France—the system has caused economic turmoil, stagnation, and even violence and oppression. But fear not, we are told—that was socialism simply “not done properly.” True socialism, however, can be seen in the Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Iceland. Progressives’ fascination with so-called “Nordic socialism”—and their desire to replicate it in America—rests on two premises. First, that they are indeed socialistic. Second, that they owe their prosperity to socialistic aspects of their economies.

The claim that the Scandinavian/Nordic countries are socialist is patently absurd. Most of those countries had lower corporate tax rates than the United States (up until recently, when the 2017 tax bill was passed). Secondly, according to research conducted by the Heritage Foundation, most Nordic countries have as much economic freedom as the United States—some in fact have more, such as Iceland and Denmark. Nearly every Nordic country has greater property rights than the United States, higher levels of business freedom, monetary freedom, and even trade freedom.

There was arguably a time when some of these countries were socialist. For example, from the 1970s to the 1990s, Sweden’s economy was characterised by high regulations, limited business freedom, and onerous taxation. Between 1975 and 1990, although the Swedish population grew, net private sector job growth was zero. The public sector just continued to grow more and more. However, this was simply unsustainable, because, as the economist Henry Hazlitt explained, when you increase public sector capital, it is often offset by a reduction in private sector activity, due to higher rates of taxation. This all changed in the 1990s, when the labour market was deregulated, since then the private jobs’ market has boomed, as demonstrated by the graph below.

Other Nordic Socialism ChartSince that time, Sweden has introduced a plethora of free-market reforms—not just in economics, such as the abolition of their dreaded wealth tax in 2007 and the privatization of major industries—but also in areas such as education. Since 1992, every child in Sweden has enjoyed what is known as “school choice,” where they get to choose their own school, privately or publicly run, and government money follows them (not the other way around). Healthcare is also an area of the Scandinavian economy which is becoming increasing more private-sector based. In recent years, private health insurance has become increasingly more popular in the Nordic countries, due to the growing dissatisfaction with the inefficiencies associated with government-run healthcare: according to a 2009 survey, half of Danes believe that medical waiting-times are too long, and only a third disagreed.

Nevertheless, the Nordic Socialism supporters point out, the Scandinavian nations do have many socialistic elements to their economies, such as high levels of spending, high income taxes, and large welfare states. But can they owe their high living standards to these factors? The problem is, they had such long before these policies were implemented. Between 1870 and 1960, Sweden had the fastest per capita income growth in the world (when it was a truly liberal country, in the process of industrialization). Since the institution of bureaucratic policies, however, this growth rate has slowed, and Sweden now ranks thirteenth. This applies to many other metrics we use. In 1960, Norway had the highest life expectancy in the world—and all its Scandinavian neighbours were in such a category. Since that time, the Nordic countries’ rankings have actually declined. This is demonstrated in the graph below.

Noridc Socialist ChartThese positive social outcomes had developed long before the creation of the welfare State in the 1960s.

It is perfectly considerable that Scandinavians owe their prosperity to certain cultural values—namely, the Protestant work ethic. It may be one of the reason that the median income for Scandinavian Americans is nearly a fifth higher than the national average, and why their poverty rate is half the national rate. Low rates of single motherhood, and high employment rates for single mothers may also be a reason for Scandinavia’s low poverty rate (something which may be attributed to cultural norms and values), as single motherhood is a powerful predictor of poverty, both in the U.S. and many European countries.

Socialists may be obsessed with the idea of Nordic socialism. But it just simply isn’t the case that socialism is what has made Nordic countries great.

Will Elections in Palestine Provide a Path to Peace?

Will Elections in Palestine Provide a Path to Peace?

The prospect of elections in Palestine has brought vital hope to a land synonymous with suffering. Despite enduring decades of conflict, loss, and tumult, a “tripartite assault” currently threatens to push the situation beyond repair. This takes the form of Israel’s acceleration of territorial annexation, the Trump administration’s “Middle East Plan,” and the normalization of Arab-Israeli relations, a process that Palestinian leaders see as a major barrier in their quest for an independent state.

Yet in mid-September, Palestine’s long-divided political factions—Hamas and Fatah—announced that a deal had been reached to hold elections. The first since 2006, it is hoped that the elections will re-energize the Palestinian cause, and create a much-needed sense of unity at the most critical of moments. Commentators have urged for cautious optimism however, with a number of obstacles still to be cleared before votes can be cast.

“Tripartite Assault”

The forward momentum generated by the announcement could not have arrived at a more pivotal time. Palestine faces more intractability with every passing day, and as mentioned, a “tripartite assault” further exacerbates what is already a deeply harrowing state of affairs. The first assault—the escalation of Israeli annexation—will place greater numbers of Palestinians under Israeli control, depriving them of the ability to go about their lives in the way they choose.

In June of this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, an area home to between 2.1 million and 3 million Palestinian Arabs. If these plans go ahead as intended, they could see 4.5 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank—an area intended to form part of an independent Palestinian state—subjugated and repressed on a daily basis.

The second assault—the Trump Administration’s “Middle East Plan”—is supposedly designed to bring stability to the region. Yet according to Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, the plan will relegate Palestinians “to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives.” Further to this, it will ensure that Jerusalem remains the “sovereign capital of Israel,” a deeply controversial move given that it is also perceived as a Palestinian capital.

Thirdly, there is the improved relations between Israel and a number of Arab states, which adds to the sense of isolation and alienation that permeates the Palestinian cause. The last three months has seen both Bahrain and the UAE sign peace deals with Israel, breaking a “long-standing consensus” that the price of normal relations with Israel was independence for the Palestinians.

“Cautious Optimism”

With this triumvirate of threats heaping additional misery on the Palestinians, and the current Palestinian Authority (PA) sapped of political capital, Hamas and Fatah’s election announcement has been a rare ray of light. Elections present an opportunity to restore unity to the Palestinian cause, and create a new, forward-thinking leadership that is capable of managing the ever-growing number of challenges.

As alluded to, the incumbent leadership has proven incapable of rising to the challenges that are faced, and the protracted division has depleted the public’s confidence in them. A free and fair vote will create a government that has earned its legitimacy at the ballot box, and as result, one that will garner respect and recognition internationally. This is of the utmost significance, as international support will prove critical if Palestine is to find a route out of the current quagmire.

However, a host of obstacles stand in the way of elections delivering on their promise. The division that characterizes the Palestinian cause stems from the events of 2006, which saw Hamas win a majority on the Legislative Council. Not only did this trigger an international boycott of the Hamas government, it sparked immense tensions between Hamas and Fatah, who had been victorious in presidential elections the preceding year. Avoiding a similar stalemate is absolutely paramount.

To do this, it is imperative that all Palestinian political groups reach a consensus on a unified strategy and route forward prior to ballots being cast. As well as ensuring that the election results are respected, this will help to nurture the burgeoning sense of optimism that is felt on the ground. Whilst the growing number of threats has fostered increased intra-Palestinian solidarity of late, genuine geographic and institutional unity is still out of reach. Agreeing on a shared vision prior to the vote will pave the way for lasting togetherness.

Additionally, it is hugely positive that voting will be conducted via proportional representation, as this will ensure that no party wins an overall majority—a factor that played into the ill-feeling of 2006—and will instead yield collaboration, partnership, and tolerance. Alongside this, it is welcome that parliamentary, presidential and national council elections are all planned to occur within a set timeframe, as this will avoid different victors in different elections causing tensions as it did the last time Palestine went to the polls.

Finally, it is crucial that Israel respects the elections and lets them go ahead unimpeded in all parts of the territory, including East Jerusalem, where Palestinians were prevented from casting votes in 2006. The international community has a major role to play here, as it can utilize its influence to ensure that Israel permits ballots to be cast in all occupied territories.

Whilst there is much work still to be done, the prospect of elections has provided a welcome source of hope amid the most trying of circumstances. It is now crucial to build on this.

Cameron Boyle is a political correspondent for the Immigration Advice Service, an organization of immigration solicitors that provides legal aid to victims of trafficking.

How Trump’s China Trade War Failed

How Trump’s China Trade War Failed

President Trump was elected on an anti-trade agenda in 2016, and promised that tariffs and protectionist measures could restore the US manufacturing sector. After winning the White House, the president imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods meant to discourage imports in pursuit of this goal. He has described himself as a “tariff man” and said that “trade wars are good and easy to win.”

How is this rhetoric holding up?

Well, a new Wall Street Journal data analysis sheds light on the trade war’s results so far. They aren’t pretty.

“President Trump’s trade war against China didn’t achieve the central objective of reversing a US decline in manufacturing, economic data show,” reads the report.

“Another goal—reshoring of US factory production—hasn’t happened either,” the Journal continues. “Job growth in manufacturing started to slow in July 2018, and manufacturing production peaked in December 2018.”

This graph shows pretty clearly that Trump’s tariffs did not successfully promote employment in the manufacturing sector. Much of the manufacturing job gains that did occur during the president’s tenure happened before the tariffs even took effect.

Fee ChartThis news is dismaying, but it’s hardly surprising.

Economists overwhelmingly agree that tariffs, which are basically taxes on American consumers, don’t work. In a 2016 survey of economists, zero agreed that adding tariffs on certain goods would successfully encourage domestic production. A whopping 93 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, while 7 percent did not answer.

“Tariffs that save jobs in the steel industry mean higher steel prices, which in turn means fewer sales of American steel products around the world and losses of far more jobs than are saved,” famed free-market economist Thomas Sowell explained in one example of how tariffs backfire.Populist-sounding politicians can boast about ‘protecting American jobs’ and seem to the untrained eye to be telling the truth.

“The benefits of a tariff are visible,” Nobel laureate Milton Friedman similarly noted. “Union workers can see they are ‘protected.’ The harm which a tariff does is invisible. It’s spread widely. There are people that don’t have jobs because of tariffs but they don’t know it.”

This is why populist-sounding politicians can boast about “protecting American jobs” and seem to the untrained eye to be telling the truth.

Yet as economists agree, the problem with tariffs generally speaking is that they kill more jobs than they create. For every job that is “protected” by a tariff, other jobs are lost in related industries that use the targeted good as an input and see their costs raised. But even within the manufacturing sector, these tariffs failed.

Why? It’s simple: The tariffs helped some manufacturers by hurting others via raised prices, and (predictably) triggered retaliatory tariffs from China that together outweighed any benefits.The problem with tariffs generally speaking is that they kill more jobs than they create.

“An industry-by-industry analysis by the Federal Reserve showed that tariffs did help boost employment by 0.3%, in industries exposed to trade with China, by giving protection to some domestic industries to cheaper Chinese imports,” the Journal reports.

“But these gains were more than offset by higher costs of importing Chinese parts, which cut manufacturing employment by 1.1%,” the analysis continues. “Retaliatory tariffs imposed by China against US exports, the analysis found, reduced US factory jobs by 0.7%.”

Many Americans of good faith might be earnestly surprised by how tariffs have failed to restore the manufacturing sector. But students of economics shouldn’t be.

This article was originally featured at the Foundation for Economic Education and is republished with permission.

The ‘Private’ Dilemma

The ‘Private’ Dilemma

There is an issue that “Libertarianism” refuses to take a nuanced approach to that will inevitably further marginalize it in the eyes of the general public. When it is brought up the “consistent” libertarian/anarchist retreats into the world of informal fallacies, most notably the “false dilemma” fallacy, in which it is assumed by the participant that there are only two opinions to hold on the presented subject. This is usually characterized by canned answers such as, “they’re a private company bro, they can do what they want,” when a company is allegedly acting on its own accord, and in one example, temporarily bans the nation’s oldest newspaper from their platform.  

When people such as this author presents evidence that a certain platform will delete accounts on the orders of the American and Israeli governments, they are met with the same vapid response about private companies, yadda, yadda, yadda. In the mind of some who claim to be all about private property, but also preach an anti-State message, it becomes clear they haven’t given consideration to the fact that government actors (GAs) have planned out these schemes with the express intent of making it so that the libertarian/free market type is forced into a corner of not wanting to abandon their principles while GAs construct a system of tyranny around them that they refuse to criticize. 

What is even more maddening is that when someone tries to sound the alarm on this loophole the GAs have found, many are met with the insane response that they want the government to do something about it so that makes them statists. Did you hear what they said? The government is the one using this to their advantage. Can thought lacking nuance be abandoned for five seconds so that a third way can possibly be found besides the two that have been defaulted to?  

How about loudly speaking out against this arrangement (GAs)? Unfortunately, many are not only so steeped in one mode of thinking when it comes to that “private company bro,” but they also may not want to be seen as being “anti-business” like their blood-enemies the socialists. Where is that going to leave you? Technically, the monopoly power provider in a certain neighborhood may decide they don’t want to do business with the local “white supremacist” (whatever that means anymore). If they turn their power off in 100-degree heat is it just a “private company bro?”  

Libertarian/ANCAPS need to address this exploding phenomenon of government using “private” companies as a shield to carry out their war on everything from free speech to mask enforcement. At present, the Right is ramping up efforts to repeal Section 230 which would effectively allow the government to regulate social media platforms, or any contribution sites, as if they’re the public square. This author sees the government as the problem in almost all instances and never the solution. That does not mean these “private” companies should be let off the hook for their collusion. On the contrary, everyone needs to start calling them out on it. That would be a good start for the “libertarian.” 

NYPD Values Abusive Cop’s Pension Over Child He Starved and Froze to Death

NYPD Values Abusive Cop’s Pension Over Child He Starved and Froze to Death

New York, NY — The death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva shocked the nation earlier this year when it was discovered his New York cop father was alleged to have beat him and starved him before throwing him into an unheated garage where he froze to death. As the investigation unfolded, we learned that authorities were warned by multiple people on multiple occasions that NYPD officer Michael Valva was horrifically abusing his children, and, in a disgusting display of blue privilege, no one acted. In fact, the only actions taken were against the mother, and helped Valva continue the abuse.

Now, this officer’s blue privilege is being exposed once again as he was quietly allowed to resign this week—to protect his pension.

“He voluntarily resigned today,” Valva’s attorney John LoTurco said. “He executed paperwork in that regard today,which protects his benefits and his pension. There’s no admission of any wrongdoing. It allows him to forgo any disciplinary hearing and in exchange, he will no longer receive any salary or any future benefits.”

As we reported at the time, 8-year-old Thomas died of hypothermia on January 17 after he was allegedly starved, beaten and locked outside overnight by his NYPD officer father. Valva allegedly washed the body of his autistic child in an attempt to warm the corpse, then lied to cops by claiming the boy fell in the driveway. On Jan. 24, Valva and his fiancee Angela Pollina were arrested and charged with murder.

After their arrests, we found out that Justyna Zukbo-Valva, Thomas’ mother, had filed multiple complaints—with physical evidence—alleging the abuse. Instead of helping her authorities simply looked the other way. Not only was she never given help, Zukbo-Valva was treated like she was the abuser and lost custody as the true monster continued his horrifying treatment of his children.

According to the NY Daily News, who received the documents from Zukbo-Valva, after losing custody, this mother feared for the safety of her children, fought to save them, and was ignored and punished until Thomas was tortured to death.

In meeting after meeting with Child Protective Services, beginning in 2017, Zubko-Valva implored caseworkers to get involved and protect her boys now living with their father in Center Moriches, L.I. The mother, recalling a Dec. 6, 2017, meeting, says caseworker Michelle Clark blamed her rather than NYPD officer Valva for the regressing autism of Thomas’ older brother Anthony.

Clark also declined to read progress reports from the special school where the mother enrolled the brothers before Valva pulled both of them out.

“She informed me she will not take any evidence from me,” wrote Zubko-Valva about the caseworker. “If I try to provide my evidence to her, she is not going to take them into consideration.”

Despite clear signs of physical abuse, including testimony from the victims and physical injury—black eyes, and bald patches from his hair being pulled out at the roots—according to the News, Clark, in five reports filed between Oct. 31, 2017, and Jan. 15, 2018, found no safety factors that “place the children in immediate danger” and quickly closed the investigations into the father’s treatment of Thomas and 10-year-old Anthony.

This cop’s blue privilege stretched far and wide and ultimately ended in a child’s death. According to the News:

According to the mother’s records, her estranged husband Valva erupted in anger on Jan. 13, 2018, when Thomas accused Pollina of hitting him. Valva forced the boy to lean over a table with his hands outstretched, then hit the child repeatedly on his buttocks and lower back on the right side — leaving bruises confirmed by a neighbor.

Zubko-Valva filed another complaint. But her estranged husband simply refused to open the door when CPS sent a caseworker his home for an interview him, records show. Three days later, the bruised little boy told child welfare worker Michele Clark that he was still in pain from his father’s beating.

Despite being told by the child that he was being beaten by his father, Clark’s reaction was to lift a protection order against Valva and order one against the mother. As the News points out, this decision is now coming back to haunt them.

“Michele Clark abused her power to falsely accuse me in order to protect Michael Valva,” writes the distraught mom.

On the night Zubko-Valva was told she was losing custody of her children, she reportedly told Kimberley Berens, who ran the Fit Learning school, which educated autistic children before they went to regular schools that Valva was “going to kill my kids.”

Unfortunately, she was right.

Despite authorities eventually finding out that Valva was savagely abusing his autistic son, the court chose not to send them to their mother and put them right back with their father and then moved to sweep it under the rug while continuing their assault on this poor mother.

On the contrary, after Valva got away with child abuse, the boys’ mother was forced to justify why she chose to put Thomas’ older brother Anthony in a special school for autistic kids. Unlike Valva, Zubko-Valva was forced to go through a full trial with witnesses and arguments just to prove she’d done nothing wrong by sending her kids to a special school.

To sum it up, the entire system acted on behalf of the officer — likely due to the fact that he had a badge — while proactively going after the mother who was only trying to expose her ex-husband’s abuse of their children.

It gets worse.

On Oct. 1, 2018, Zubko-Valva filed a request to get a new case worker, citing the clear special treatment given to her cop ex-husband. Instead of doing this, the very next day, CPS caseworker Edward Heepe closed three investigations into the father’s treatment of his children. He omitted the January beating incident from his report. In November 2018, court-appointed lawyer Donna McCabe was singing the praises of Valva and Pollina—even as teachers at the boys’ school were repeatedly calling the state child abuse hotline, according to the News..

Even more disturbing is that Zubko-Valva is now claiming that video evidence from surveillance cameras inside the home and the garage where Thomas died — which can prove without a doubt that Valva murdered his child—have all been deleted.

“I was told two weeks ago by the District Attorney’s office that they cannot get the images from the day that Tommy died, because, allegedly, they were deleted,” Zubko-Valva said. “But as you know we live in the technological age of everything being stored somewhere and can be, you know, brought back.”

The system actively set out to smear a caring mother while protecting a vicious child abuser which resulted in the tragedy in January. Sadly, as TFTP has reported before, this is but a broken record of a system and occupation that experiences domestic violence at a far greater rate than the rest of society and goes out of their way to sweep it under the rug.

If you think a system that protects an abusive cop and allows him to resign to protect his pension, has your interests in mind, you need to think again.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission. 

Jim Bovard’s Guide to Surviving Election Day

Jim Bovard’s Guide to Surviving Election Day

Election Day can be the longest day of the year. Especially if the presidential race remains undecided late into the evening, neither Xanax nor vodka may be enough to kill the pain. In lieu of other sedatives, following are some cheerful lines which might blunt the impact of the prattling on CNN or MSNBC, though there is no known antidote to PBS’s piety.

Voting

  • The most dangerous political illusion is that votes limit politicians’ power.
  • Nowadays, we have elections in lieu of freedom.
  • The defects in any system of choosing rulers outweigh the risks of letting people run their own lives.
  • People are entitled to far more information when testing baldness cures than when casting votes that could lead to war.
  • What’s the point of voting if “government under the law” is not a choice on Election Day?
  • Having a vote does nothing to prevent a person from being molested by the TSA, spied on by the NSA, or harassed by the IRS.
  • Politicians are increasingly dividing Americans into two classes—those who work for a living and those who vote for a living.
  • Voting for lesser evils makes Washington no less odious.
  • Politicians have mandated warning labels for almost everything except voting booths.
  • On Election Day, Americans are more likely to be deluded by their own government than by foreigners.
  • Politicians talk as if voting magically protects the rights of everyone within a fifty-mile radius of the polling booth.
  • Political consent is defined these days as rape was defined a generation or two ago: people consent to anything which they do not forcibly resist.

Democracy

  • Modern democracy pretends that people can control what they do not understand.
  • We have a drive-by democracy where politicians wave to voters every few years and otherwise do as they please.
  • The more power politicians capture, the more illusory democracy becomes.
  • A democratic government that respects no limits on its own power is a ticking time bomb, waiting to destroy the rights it was created to protect.
  • The surest effect of exalting democracy is to make it easier for politicians to drag everyone else down.
  • The Washington Post’s motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” But democracy also dies from too many Iron Fists.
  • The phrases which consecrate democracy seep into Americans’ minds like buried hazardous waste.
  • Rather than a democracy, we increasingly have an elective dictatorship. Voters merely designate who will violate the laws and the Constitution.
  • Democracy unleashes the State in the name of the people.
  • The more that democracy is presumed to be inevitable, the more likely it will self-destruct.
  • America is now an Attention Deficit Democracy where citizens’ ignorance and apathy entitle politicians to do as they damn well please.
  • Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
  • Americans now embrace the same myths about democracy that downtrodden European peasants formerly swallowed about monarchy.
  • Instead of revealing the “will of the people,” election results are often only a one-day snapshot of transient mass delusions.
  • Nothing happens after Election Day to make politicians less venal.

Lying

  • A lie that is accepted by a sufficient number of ignorant voters becomes a political truth.
  • America is increasingly a “Garbage In, Garbage Out” democracy. Politicians dupe citizens and then invoke deluded votes to stretch their power.
  • Promising to “speak truth to power” is the favorite vow in the most deceitful city in America.
  • Truth delayed is truth defused.
  •  A successful politician is often merely someone who bamboozled more voters than the other liar running for office.
  • The biggest election frauds usually occur before the voting booths open.
  • Politicians nowadays treat Americans like medical orderlies treat Alzheimer’s patients, telling them anything that will keep them subdued. It doesn’t matter what untruths the people are fed because they will quickly forget.
  • When people blindly trust politicians, the biggest liars win.
  • Secrecy and lying are often two sides of the same political coin.
  • The more powerful government becomes, the more abuses it commits, and the more lies it must tell.

Government et Cetera

  • America is rapidly becoming a two-tier society: those whom the law fails to restrain, and those whom the law fails to protect.
  • Idealism these days is often only positive thinking about growing servitude.
  • It is naïve to expect governments to descend step-by-step into barbarism—as if there is a train schedule to political hell with easy exits along the way.
  • The first duty of today’s citizen is to assume the best of government, while federal agents assume the worst of him.
  • America needs fewer laws, not more prisons.
  • Every recent American commander in chief has expanded and exploited the dictatorial potential of the presidency.
  • Many people reason about political power like sheep who ignore the wolf until they feel its teeth.
  • Political saviors almost always cost more than they deliver.
  • There is no such thing as retroactive self-government.
  • The arrogance of power is the best hope for the survival of freedom.
  • Washingtonians view individual freedom like an ancient superstition they must pretend to respect.
  • Paternalism is a desperate gamble that lying politicians will honestly care for those who fall under their sway.
  • Citizens should distrust politicians who distrust freedom.
  • The Night Watchman State has been replaced by Highway Robber States in which no asset or right is safe from marauding politicians.
  • P.T. Barnum may have been thinking of Washington journalists when he said there’s a sucker born every minute.
Ten Years Later: What the ‘Iraq War Diaries’ Told Us

Ten Years Later: What the ‘Iraq War Diaries’ Told Us

The purpose of journalism is to uncover truth—especially uncomfortable truth—and to publish it for the benefit of society. In a free society, we must be informed of the criminal acts carried out by governments in the name of the people. Throughout history, journalists have uncovered the many ways governments lie, cheat, and steal—and the great lengths they will go to keep the people from finding out.

Great journalists like Seymour Hersh, who reported to us the tragedy of the Mai Lai Massacre and the horrors that took place at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, are essential.

Ten years ago last week, Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks organization published an exposé of U.S. government wrongdoing on par with the above Hersh bombshell stories. Publication of the “Iraq War Diaries” showed us all the brutality of the U.S. attack on Iraq. It told us the truth about the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country. This was no war of defense against a nation threatening us with weapons of mass destruction. This was no liberation of the country. We were not “bringing democracy” to Iraq.

No, the release of nearly 400,000 classified U.S. Army field reports showed us in dirty detail that the U.S. attack was a war of aggression, based on lies, where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and injured.

We learned that the U.S. military classified anyone they killed in Iraq as “enemy combatants.” We learned that more than 700 Iraqi civilians were killed for “driving too close” to one of the hundreds of U.S. military checkpoints—including pregnant mothers-to-be rushing to the hospital.

We learned that U.S. military personnel routinely handed “detainees” over to Iraqi security forces where they would be tortured and often killed.

Ten years after Assange’s brave act of journalism changed the world and exposed one of the crimes of the century, he sits alone in solitary confinement in a UK prison. He sits literally fighting for his life, as if he is successfully extradited to the United States he faces 175 years in a “supermax” prison for committing “espionage” against a country of which he is not a citizen.

On the Iraq war we have punished the truth-tellers and rewarded the criminals. People who knowingly lied us into the war like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, the Beltway neocon “experts,” and most of the media, faced neither punishment nor professional shaming for their acts. In fact, they got off scot free and many even prospered.

Julian Assange explained that he published the Iraq War Diaries because he “hoped to correct some of the attack on truth that occurred before the war, and that continued on since that war officially ended.” We used to praise brave journalists not afraid to take on the “bad guys.” Now we torture and imprison them.

President Trump has made a point of singling out the U.S. attack on Iraq as one of the “stupid wars” that he was committed to ending. But we wouldn’t know half of just how stupid—and evil—it was were it not for the brave actions of Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Journalism should not be a crime and President Trump should pardon Assange immediately.

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

Compelled Speech and the Perils of ‘PruneYard v. Robins’

Compelled Speech and the Perils of ‘PruneYard v. Robins’

Humans are speakers. When we go to work, buy paintings, send birthday presents to friends, vote, and choose TV shows to watch at night, we don’t merely “do”—we say. We say what our preferences, ideals, and distastes are in the realms of commerce, art, love, and politics. 

But sometimes we show the world who we are by not speaking. By deliberately refraining from saying the Pledge of Allegiance, for example, we convey either disinterest in or opposition to what the flag represents. Thus, if our constant speaking serves an important expressive function, then our regular not speaking serves an important expressive function as well. Some libertarians and anarchists argue that the latter serves such an important function as to render compelled speech unjustifiable in every conceivable case. But we need not adopt this absolutist position in order to doubt the justifiability of the heavy-handed approach to compelled speech that the Supreme Court, pursuant to its decision in PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins (1980), has asked us to embrace. 

The controversy in PruneYard erupted when a group of teenagers entered the PruneYard Shopping Center to circulate a petition concerning a United Nations resolution on Zionism. Enforcing the mall’s policy against circulating petitions, security guards kicked out the teenagers, who proceeded to argue in court that their right to circulate a petition at malls like PruneYard was enshrined in the California Constitution. In response, the shopping mall’s managers argued that they and other private property owners have a “First Amendment right not to be forced by the state” to use their “property as a forum for the speech” of members of the public.  

Speaking through Justice William Rehnquist, the Supreme Court sided with the teenagers, finding that a statute forcing the shopping mall to host these young speakers did not amount to an impermissible imposition on the shopping mall managers. The Court reasoned, in the first place, that because the mall was open to large numbers of people, those who encountered the teenagers were unlikely to assume that the views of these young speakers reflected the views of the shopping mall’s managers. Besides, if the managers were concerned that their own views would be conflated with those of the teenagers, the managers could always post signs indicating that the shopping mall’s management did not necessarily endorse the views of people speaking in the mall.

The Court also argued that because the state was not requiring the shopping mall managers to host any particular group of speakers but was instead requiring them to host speakers generally, the state was not using the shopping mall managers to promote a particular point of view. Against that backdrop, the Court concluded, any compulsion to speak in this case was on balance justified. 

Insofar as the Court, relying on its decision in PruneYard, would be prepared to deploy this reasoning in efforts to compel individuals (rather than corporations) to support speech with which those individuals would prefer not to associate, this reasoning is quite dangerous indeed. To see how, imagine that the leadership of some small town (say, Leith, North Dakota) declares, in the interest of “communal bonding,” that every town citizen must wear a tee shirt decorated by the citizen’s neighbors once a year. Surrounded by white supremacist neighbors, an anti-racist is thereby forced to wear a tee shirt adorned with swastikas on an annual basis. The anti-racist objects, arguing that it disgraces those who perished in the Holocaust for her to affix such an odious symbol to her person.

The Court, if guided by PruneYard, would presumably reject the anti-racist’s claim. For widespread knowledge of this annual “tee shirt decoration event” suggests that people will not conclude that the tee shirt’s anti-racist wearer actually supports Nazism. And, in any event, if the anti-racist is worried about the message that her tee shirt is conveying, she can always match her tee shirt with a hat that says, “I despise Nazism and am wearing this vile tee shirt only because I have a legal obligation to do so” (if she can fit all of that on one hat!). Moreover, the state is mandating, not that the anti-racist endorse any particular message, but “merely” that she serve as a walking forum for speech to be determined by private citizens. 

If the Court’s reasoning here would serve as adequate consolation to the anti-racist, then perhaps PruneYard is convincingly argued after all. But there are reasons to suppose that the anti-racist would not be—and should not be—satisfied. In the first place, potential speakers can have good reason to desire not to speak even when those speakers know that others would not consider the speakers’ speech “sincere.” It is the reason that some actors refuse to use the most vile racial slurs on stage, for example, and the reason that most refuse to engage in intimate sexual acts for an audience. No matter what others would think, the would-be speakers themselves would feel that they are acting discordant with their values. By the same token, the anti-racist would feel, probably appropriately, that she is being untrue to herself by wearing a swastika tee shirt, even if nobody would assume that her wearing the shirt signifies a genuine commitment to Nazism. 

Still, defenders of this hypothetical mandate—like the defenders of Rehnquist’s reasoning—might point out that the government itself would not be requiring the propagation of any particular message in this case and that, in practice, a multitude of views would probably make their way onto the anti-racist’s tee shirt. Perhaps this is right; even so, it hardly justifies the decree. Suppose instead that the law materializes during WWII amid the outbreak of hostilities between the Soviet Union and Germany. Even if just half of the anti-racist’s neighbors draw swastikas on the anti-racist’s shirt (and everyone else draws a hammer and sickle), the anti-racist can still rightly object to her being forced to display the swastika. And if the coerced individual is pacifistic or apolitical, she can rightly object to being forced to display either symbol. 

On these grounds, one can and ought to condemn the Court’s justification for siding with the teenaged protesters in PruneYard. This is not to say that the outcome of the case was wrong; perhaps corporations, being creatures of the state, have more in common with the state than they do with citizens, and perhaps corporations’ speech interests, therefore, should not be treated as solicitously as the speech interests of humans should be. However, it is to say that, given the centrality of speech to our self-definitions, (1) the general perception that compelled speech is insincere, (2) the possibility of disclaiming compelled speech, and (3) the state’s non-requirement of a particular type of speech, are not adequate justifications for requiring people to promote messages against their will.

Military Honor, the Virtue and the Curse

Military Honor, the Virtue and the Curse

Honor is a powerful idea. Those who live by it take it seriously. It is not will, courage, or even valor, though it does demand such things. It is the code that exists within, demanding one to do what is right, regardless of risk or reward. Honor for is paramount to the warrior. The honorable warrior will fight on and conduct himself with a dignity that shall leave a legacy long after his death. Honor is at times wrapped with glory, pride, dedication and loyalty. But what about the honor that deals in moral principles?

In the modern era of total war, fundamentalist philosophies have romanced past glories, empowering the warrior to execute the will of politics in an ever intrusive manner. The world over, the warrior takes the fight to familiars and strangers with an energy that deploys the bayonet as easily as it does the remote-controlled assassin drone. The twentieth century was the bloody gushing wound of human history, where civilizations savaged the planet repeatedly with wars and conflict. The new century is repeated with similar mentalities and a call to honor.

The Prussian military is often associated with honor, influencing many war states in their ideals and practices. The Prussian virtues—which can be traced back to the Teutonic Knights—ensured that soldiers conducted themselves with a discipline and loyalty needed for war. The individual was removed, as the importance of servitude and sacrifice to the state itself was romaticized. Such virtues would pave the way for Germany to become an eager modern empire, conquering and ruling until ultimately it faced repeated defeats in the World Wars.

Such Prussian virtues helped the German state to humiliate China, snatch whatever remained of Africa, and place various naval stations in the Pacific. In doing so the German military imposed itself upon the native peoples, and in the case of German South West-Africa, commit genocide. The honour of the German soldier in practice showed an ugly nature in the coming decades when such a code of military virtues was enlisted by a national socialist ideology soaked in chauvinistic racism. It became a code of honor that perpetuated hatred and unreason. Courage and obedience were not lacking, but the honor of moral dignity most certainly was.

The United States came out of the nineteenth century as the great industrial power. on paper it was anti-imperialist and yet its recent acquisitions of Hawaii and the former Spanish colonies revealed a very imperial nature, one that could be traced back to the attempted conquest Canada in 1812, the invasion of Florida, the war against Mexico, and the ‘opening up’ of Japan. Not to mention the breathing room it afforded itself under the guise of Manifest Destiny at the expense of the independent American nations outside the original thirteen colonies. Its military was one that prized itself on honor, its independence having been won by military actions. There was an inherent dignity in war; the republic with ideals of individual liberty grew into an empire which by the end of the nineteenth centur honored twenty of the soldiers responsible for the massacre at Wounded Knee with the Medal of Honor.

The twentieth century would end in U.S. dominance, presupposed by victories in the World Wars and then the Cold War, with its ignored imperial blips and atrocities. The terrors of the war in South East Asia would for a time influence the appeal of the military and its own sense of honor but that would be reshaped in the 1990s. To be called a warrior, the soldier must have a strong military ethos and patriotism. Soldiers embraced abstract ideals that could be wielded by a government that saw itself anointed with the God-given-right to intervene wherever it chose to. It was honorable and a modern Manifest Destiny to do so. Countless revelations and examples of civilian murder would be concealed, and should they come to light were treated as blips, marks on the road map to forever war. The honor it seemed was to be silent—to look the other way or to even kill without mercy, without any regard to the rules of war.

Japanese military culture, a Samurai nation of modern technological innovations and medieval chivalry, is often associated with honor. The Bushido codes of the warrior both direct and drive the soldiers of empire to do what is needed in the service of the emperor. After the western nations had helped Japan to become a modern power, its many social and military engineers reinvented the Bushido memory. With the Last Samurai likely committing ritual suicide at the battle of Shiroyama in 1877—defeated by the modern conscript army of new Japan—the state would conjure up images of the samurai to promote its conquests in Asia. The new Japanese soldier had many outside inspirations, from the U.S. to the militaries of Europe, adopting methods and ideals from each while embracing Bushido. Like the nations that inspired it, modern Japan would conquer others and in minds of the killers, it was honorable to do so.

Much to the misery of the people on Okinawa, Formosa, Korea, and China, the young Japanese Empire slaughtered and sought to enlighten the rest of Asia with its new ways. The Japanese Empire would go to war with Tsarist Russia in a conflict of wave attacks, machine guns, torpedo boats, and disease. The Japanese military consumed much of the nation’s wealth and resources, and despite victory was then unpopular with the civil populace. It would take decades to cultivate a cult of military honor and imperial loyalty defined by sacrifice and bloodshed for empire. Honor became a word of loyalty and subservience to an emperor who had little control over his army in Manchuria, as it waged its own war of conquest.

Mass murder and sadistic crimes would become the legacy of the imperial Japanese warrior; courageous certainly but honourable? Only in the reinvented imaginations of the martial artist would such a culture and the Bushido code be considered such a thing as honorable. Integrity, often a hallmark of the honored class, was on full display by the Japanese warriors as they repeatedly promised safe treatment to the thousands of surrendering Chinese soldiers outside Nangking. Instead via deception and devious coordination, the Japanese warriors murdered tens of thousands of prisoners—often cruelly—going on to slaughter children and civilians and abducting females of all ages who became slaves to be raped and tortured. What ever virtues of honor and integrity had been ingrained in these men of war soon manifested into murdering rapists surrendering to the crudest of human lusts.

The other European empires each held dear the virtues of glory and imperial honour. The British convinced themselves that they had brought trade and order to much of the world, despite conquering it by festering division and limiting trade in their favor. The French, supposedly champions of brotherhood and justice, imposed with cruelty a dishonor that no French king could have imagined before the revolution. To have an empire was itself an honor, one to rule and to exploit. Many of these European states clung to such relics of the past, even as post-war socialist policies and reforms were attempted at home (often being funded by the blood of empire). Pride in such control, seeing the colored shapes on a map taught in the schools of the imperial powers, was likely of great honor for many, just not those yearning for home rule and independence.

For lesser nations like Australia, the military heritage is proud. War was a key element for the continent even before Federation. Australians served British interests in New Zealand, the Sudan, China, and in South Africa. The honor of the Australian fighting man was held highest after the futile landings at Gallipoli, whose anniversary is now a national holiday. The spirit of the digger soldier runs deep inside the ranks of the relatively small military, but the honors at the Canberra war memorial run long. Not just with those fallen who gave everything in service for the Commonwealth but in the names of the places visited by the Australian military. The honor is in the fight, in helping a mate when they need it. In Australia’s case the mate is always the most powerful empire: the British and now the United States. The honor is in being there, taking care of ones fellow soldiers during battle and helping the U.S. with its many policies abroad.

As an investigation on Australian war crimes in Afghanistan continues, how widespread the atrocities were will likely never be known, except to the victims. One of the most decorated soldiers of the Australian military, Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, may himself be charged with war crimes. A brave warrior no doubt, but if the accusations are true, what honor is found in executing an unarmed man? Is courage under fire and a willingness to serve—anywhere—for the state itself honorable? If more men had the courage like former soldier and whistle-blower Braden Chapman to come out on war crimes, then perhaps the concept of honor could be re-defined in matters of military affairs. And not just for Australia.

The Great War would match the empires—old and new—in a terrible conflict. It was a war of glory and horror. Poisonous gas, the killing of prisoners, rape, the murder of the innocent, and starving millions in blockades revealed that men of great honor are willing to commit a dishonourable series of actions to achieve victory. The first Christmas truce of the war, in 1914, is one remembered with religious fondness, revealing an honor to share a common peace. Afterwards, to kill that man who shared your cigarette, maim the boy who sung a carol with you, was the normality of the war. Despite having a common God, it was an honor to kill, merely to serve a distant stranger ruling from a capital left untouched by the horrors of the front. All after giving thanks to the same God of peace.

Robert Fisk, the great war journalist, talks about his father’s service in the First World War with a certain reverence. Not because he served, but because of the courage he showed in not killing a man. Fisk describes his father as a man of many views that he disagreed with, but there is a pride when he mentions the moment that his dad, a British soldier, refused to execute an Australian soldier convicted of a crime. It is a pride in knowing that his father exhibited a moral dignity, a moment when his father acted with honor.

Contrast this with the book The Pity of War, where author Niall Ferguson describes the distrust of both sides, including the murder that continued through Christmas of 1915, even as soldiers attempted to duplicate the truce of the year prior. Or the killing of prisoners, especially by Australian and Scottish soldiers. To take no prisoners, the passionate actions of aggressive, war-weary warriors became motivated not so much by honor, but by revenge for brothers-in-arms unable to survive a horrible situation. Honor would be a word used after the war, in peace, only to be lost again in the next one.

It would take World War Two to perfect the mayhem, the fleets of aircraft capable of raising cities, those Bushido warriors of the Samurai  would pillage and savage Asia and the Pacific, the atrocious pinnacle being the rape of Nanjing.  Was there honour in stabbing babies, murder raping women with a gore of excess that even Nazi observers would condemn the Japanese army for? It would be a sign of things to come.  Perverse scientific intrigue into weaponizing disease so that it could be used on the Chinese populace, cruel experiments all run by a military that obsessed with its own social status on the home islands.  The word honour but a blanket used to drape across the rot of disgraceful perversity. In defeat one found dishonour but in victory by slaughtering the innocent, one achieved honour. The perverse fundamentalism, a modern adaption of the ancient codes that likely never were practiced in the first place. Warriors were always brave, and they often killed the innocent.

For the pilots of the Swiss Air Force flew as men of honour during the Second World War, they may not be defined by conquest but defence. During the war they fought both allied and axis. Even having their civil populations bombed by allied aircraft. To the Swiss fighter pilot, they were acting with an honour to defend their skies from aggressive belligerents that were destroying Europe and attacking their people. To defend ones homeland, especially when no prior aggression has been expressed is no doubt an honourable cause for a warrior. The Swiss did not win the war, they survived it as neutrals.  But from within their nation itself, those pilots were heroes of honour.

For imperial minded policy makers defence is something that can be based upon buffer zones and force projection, where another’s lands may be used as a proxy or an instrument for wider national defence. A unique exceptionalism that is both arrogant and aggressive, yet very much the entitled mentality of the great power.  Every warrior defending or fighting for their homeland believes it is the best, and are often willing to kill for it, to die for it.  For the warriors serving the great power, national interest is defence of homeland, in their minds this is an honourable sacrifice.

Honour will go on to be a word of majestic value to those who live it, to the families of service, those who lost a warrior. It is also a word that can give purpose to those aimless in life, in need of guidance who now finds themselves wrapped inside a uniform, handed a set of values and those who love their nation and love the military.   But for this honour, where does it stand when 1 in 4 women serving in the US military are sexually assaulted.  Where are the romantic cheers for honour and warrior codes as individuals hurt in shame because one of their own defiled them, and others help to cover it up. To drape a flag of silence across those lost inside a system that often protects the rapist, is this honour? To look the other way while brothers in arms do terrible things or to even cover such things up is not honour, it is at best corruption.

In the modern war on terror it was not the cold-blooded killer, Chris Kyle ‘the American Sniper’ that was the most honourable warrior but instead a transwoman who risked it all to reveal the hidden dark truths of that very war.  Chelsea Manning acted with moral dignity, according to the ideals that she believed, in doing so she became at best divisive figure and yet she acted with honour regardless of not taking an enemies life but in exposing to all of us the nature of a horrible war.  She was imprisoned for it.  She received more punishment than William Calley, the man blamed for the My Lai massacre and while Calley and the My Lai murderers could move on afterwards with their lives, Manning is likely going to be pulled into court repeatedly and threatened with more jail and solitary confinement by a system that declares itself just and honourable punishing someone for showing that it is not.

There is no doubt that it takes great courage to charge with bayonets yelling ‘Banzai!’ or as a Kamikaze pilot to drill your plane into a warships deck. Sacrifice itself is not honour. There is courage in fighting on as a zealous fiend as Berlin falls and the dictator dead or to stand with Custer in a remote frontier chasing glory at the expense of those defending their homeland.  Loyalty and stubbornness are not honour. There is also courage in flying a plane into a building, or even robbing a bank.  Courage is distinctly different to honourable. And yet if one can find a narrative massaged enough with ideology, patriotism or even a desire for revenge then courageous and deadly acts can by some be deemed as the conduct of the honourable.

Is honour merely servitude to a master, to nation or government? In Bushido it is expressed that to die in service of ones master is of great honour, what does the servant gain from such sacrifice if the master was never worthy?  Other than the uniquely Japanese flavour of honour, to serve the Emperor, what is in it for the agnostic, atheist or even follower of the prince of peace other than to willingly serve an indifferent regime or state?

Perhaps all of it is honourable.  The outcome remains the same. The brave is sacrificed, those who survive return home broken and those who sent them have already moved on to the next generation and wars. When it should be heralded to be that individual who stands strong and rejects the misdeeds and atrocious acts of their peers? To protect an unarmed stranger because that is the right thing to do, or to blow the whistle on crimes that have led to the death of far too many.    That should be celebrated as honourable. The Bushido or Prussian codes may have created brave warriors, but in the end, they lost after taking millions with them.  There was no honour in the atrocities.  If we celebrate honour for its own sake, then it will only be used to justify actions of great dishonour.

H L Mencken said that “Honor is simply the morality of superior men”, moral, not technological, industrial or military supremacy.  Honour is doing what is right, the universal right, in those moments of desperation and when even if it means you will lose everything, that you still did the right thing. That is honour.  It is hard to look back at many of the wars of our collective pasts to uphold them as being morally just, no matter how wicked and vile the enemy was, or how heroic many were.  The real sides of good and evil are between the innocent and the powerful, those who murder, rape and destroy and their victims.  There is no moral supremacy in waging a war on the unarmed, the child, the mother, the village who did nothing to you or yours.  You cannot win that war; you can only kill more people. And that is never honourable.

Don’t Trust ‘Waco Whitewasher’ John Danforth’s Election Advice

Don’t Trust ‘Waco Whitewasher’ John Danforth’s Election Advice

Trump’s attack on the debate commission is an attack on the election itself,” blares the headline from today’s Washington Post op-ed page. That article was written by former senator John Danforth, who has been a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates since 1994. Danforth, an ordained Episcopal priest whose piety earned him the derisive nickname, “Saint Jack,” is one of Washington’s favorite useful idiots of Leviathan. It is no surprise that he would be a permanent fixture on a commission that appears determined to perpetuate the swamp.

Danforth wails in the Post that accusing the debate commission of favoritism “destroys public confidence in the most basic treasure of democracy, the conduct of fair elections” and “paves the way to violence in the streets.” Danforth warns that the “damage to our country is incalculable” if Americans lose faith in “the fairness of our presidential debates, and, in turn, the presidential election.”

The usual Twitter mob quickly affixed a halo over Danforth’s head for his proclamation. But few people remember how Danforth previously appointed himself as the nation’s political faith healer after the biggest federal law enforcement debacle in modern times.

On February 28, 1993, 70 federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents launched an attack on the home of the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas. After the assault was rebuffed, the FBI arrived and, on April 19, 1993, sent in tanks that demolished much of the Davidians’ home before a fire broke out. Eighty corpses of men, women, and children were discovered in the wreckage.

Read the rest of this article at The American Conservative.

The Intellectual Fraud of ‘Listen to the Science’

The Intellectual Fraud of ‘Listen to the Science’

With the arrival of COVID-19 on the scene, many people have been seduced into believing that they must “listen to the science” and do whatever the self-proclaimed experts tell them to do. That this is charlatanry pure and simple follows from the fact that science says absolutely nothing about what we should or should not do. Those are questions of value, answers to which are provided by intelligent, conscious, and sentient human beings who thereby advance a perspective and promote their own values. Waving a “Follow The Science” flag distinguishes one not as a person of superior intellect and moral constitution but as someone who is easily duped and slings slogans as a way of covering up a lack of understanding—specifically, of how empirical science actually works. To refuse to wave a “Science” flag in support of political policies put forth by persons with specific value-laden agendas does not mean that one is a Luddite or an ignoramus but that one in fact grasps the fundamentally skeptical nature of the scientific enterprise.

All of the ongoing clamor about “the science” reminds me of what I observed while a graduate student in philosophy at Princeton University, where many of my peers seemed to believe that by specializing in areas such as philosophy of science or logic, they distinguished themselves as intellectually superior to those who wallowed in ethics or other forms of value theory. Having earned my undergraduate degree in biochemistry, conducted a good bit of research in organic chemistry, and taught chemistry at two different universities before pursuing graduate studies in philosophy, I was never vulnerable to the prevailing climate of scientism—the elevation of science as a form of religion—for I already knew what science could and could not do.

Science can tell you about the facts. Not all of them at once, and not immediately, but over time, as data is amassed and theories are proposed and rejected or confirmed. Those facts are always tentative, mere hypotheses covering very specific and limited ranges of reality. A theory of physical chemistry, for example, tells one nothing about botany, for the two types of theory cover completely different strata and phenomena. What are believed to be scientific facts are always subject to disconfirmation as more data is accumulated over time and better theories emerge. Apparently recalcitrant data must be somehow explained away by the best confirmed current theory, and when that proves impossible to do, then the theory must, rationally speaking, be abandoned.

Scientists throughout history have clung religiously to their favorite theories (especially those devised by themselves), but eventually, as new generations of scientists emerge, older theories become amenable to revision and even wholesale rejection by researchers not religiously devoted to them. It is not easy to do such a thing because one risks offending the true believers, some of whom may wield extraordinary institutional power and will vehemently resist suggestions to the effect that they are wrong. No one wants to believe that they have devoted their entire professional career to the elaboration of a theory which was false all along.

Philosopher Thomas Kuhn wrote a gripping book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), about the social and psychological dynamics involved in theory construction and testing, the nuts and bolts of the scientific enterprise, which, like it or not, is conducted by human beings, with all of their foibles. It seems safe to say that the COVID-19 cheerleaders for The ScienceTM have never read the work of Thomas Kuhn. To refuse to subject data to scrutiny, to decline to reevaluate initial hypotheses, naïvely accepting instead the prescriptions of select gurus on faith, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they were wrong, is to succumb to the charlatanry of scientism, not to champion science.

Not everyone accepts Thomas Kuhn’s rather derogatory depiction of how scientists operate; some prefer to uphold the image of scientists as supremely rational and objective analysts. But even if Kuhn’s picture was an exaggeration—some would say a caricature—even supposing that scientific hypothesis testing were some sort of supremely rational and objective endeavor, what could even the best confirmed and most widely accepted theories of science tell us about what we ought to do? The answer is: absolutely nothing. For a scientific theory’s having survived in tact over a reasonable period of time does not alone dictate anything whatsoever about human action. To suggest otherwise is to commit what is known in philosophy as “the is-ought fallacy,” usually credited to David Hume, an eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher with a skeptical bent. Facts are one thing; normative prescriptions for action are quite another. People blinded by science (who I have noticed tend to be those with no higher education in science), those who, like Milgram’s unwitting experimental subjects, accept the decrees of men in white lab coats and decline to examine the values and interests being promoted by them, have simply been duped. A most stunning aspect of this intellectual submission (which has analogues in foreign policy as well) is when subjects are persuaded to believe that conflict of interest is somehow impossible among scientists—despite being possible in every other realm. Why are scientists supposed to be untainted by worldly temptation? Because they are scientists! As though human beings did not choose to become scientists.

To see the distinction between the deliverances of science and the promotion of values, consider one example of a fact widely considered to be true, based on many decades of data collection. Science tells us that smoking will greatly increase the chances of one’s dying prematurely. One’s decision whether to smoke or not, however, depends on one’s values. If you find the pleasure of smoking great enough, then you may simply not care today that at the terminus of your life some number of years will likely have been shaved off as a result of your insistence on smoking. (No guarantee, of course. There are examples of chain smokers who somehow beat the odds to become nonagenarians or even centurions.) All things considered, you are much more likely to die of a lung-related illness if you smoke than if you do not. In fact, all activities in which human beings engage involve risks along with benefits. Each individual must make his own choices for his own life about which benefits do and do not outweigh the risks incurred in doing those things—driving, drinking, rock climbing, flying, scuba diving, traveling to countries where violent crime is prevalent—the list goes on and on.

What has happened in 2020 is that a few COVID-19 policymakers have decided for all of humanity that the risk of dying from COVID-19 outweighs all other considerations about what we ought to do. This is a value judgment, pure and simple, yet it has been fobbed off as some sort of “expert” wisdom. Those who crafted the initial responses to the virus, beginning with the very labeling of COVID-19 as a pandemic, have rallied the “listen to the science” troops for many months, with the result that their stance has become very difficult to challenge. Few of them seem capable of assessing the new data and revising their theory as the scientific method would require. Despite adamantly claiming that they “listen to The science,” they fail altogether to recognize that science is not a static, eternal totem, but a method used to marshal a dynamic, metamorphosing body of hypotheses. The irony, of course, is that the most vociferous denouncers of anyone who questions the gospel are conducting themselves in the manner of religious fanatics incapable of admitting that mistakes may have been made.

Thus we find that without any evidence whatsoever for the efficacy of lockdowns, and in fact a recent pronouncement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that lockdowns have side effects which vastly outweigh any alleged benefits, the lockdowns of western states, along with border restrictions and quarantine requirements, continue on, with local authorities tweaking their policies only slightly whenever they decide that the latest “case” tally is too high. No matter that different kinds of tests are administered differently and to different groups in different places. No matter that the very accuracy of the tests has been impugned. No matter that there is no other example of a respiratory disease (to my knowledge) for which one may repeatedly test positive as “infected” while manifesting no symptoms. No matter that cases in younger persons are rarely fatal, yet serial, obligatory testing of college students continues on. The COVID-19 gurus have decided that a case is a case. None of the death data matters because these people, who never understood the scientific method in the first place, much less the fact-value dichotomy, continue to claim that The ScienceTM is on their side and that those who disagree are selfish and illiterate ignoramuses. In the United States, the people of California, Michigan, Massachusetts, and other states have had to endure severe restrictions of their liberty and much economic hardship for eight months, with no end in sight. Across the pond, both Wales and Ireland, along with various counties in England, recently re-imposed strict lockdowns as a form of “circuit breaker” after surges of cases in some places where no or nearly no new COVID-19 deaths had been reported.

Proclaiming that we must “listen to the science” has become the worst type of virtue signaling on the part of people many of whom have nothing to lose from the lockdowns (their own financial security being immune to whatever policies are imposed). Shutting down the hospitality and tourism sectors of entire cities, counties and countries causes untold harm to anyone working in the gig economy, and yet the victims are themselves portrayed as immoral for refusing to sing along with the cheery refrain, “We’re all in this together!” Few among the populace have been able effectively to press these points, because the media and tech industries have overwhelmingly joined forces with the COVID-19 policymakers, promoting The ScienceTM company line while silencing those who demur. Needless to say, there is nothing more unscientific than censorship, for the scientific enterprise requires a continual reassessment of the facts. When new hypotheses are forbidden because they conflict with what one believed to be true, then science has come to a screeching halt.

Even more devastating than the effects in Europe, Britain, and the United States are the same policies enacted in third world countries by leaders who emulate western politicians religiously committed to their initial responses. The same lockdown and quarantine “strategies” have been implemented in places where they could never, even in principle, diminish the incidence of COVID-19 death, even if it were true—which is not supported by data—that lockdowns worked in the West. In countries where large populations live in extremely close proximity to one another in open-air shanty towns—places such as Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, India, and many other countries as well—there is no chance that staying in one’s hut is going to prevent transmission of the dreaded disease. Meanwhile, police have ended the lives of persons in violation of emergency laws which in no way serve the people’s interests. But to understand how absurd it is to impose curfews and quarantine requirements on the residents of shared outdoor space, one would have to be familiar with basic concepts of molecular entropy, which we know from the many closed beaches and outdoor mask requirements in the West are altogether beyond the capacity of the COVID-19 gurus to comprehend.

Perhaps the grandest irony of all is that, by focusing exclusively on the hope of minimizing the deaths of the small percentage of the population vulnerable to the dreaded disease, the medical professionals who have been advising the COVID-19 policymakers have violated the most sacred oath of physicians: Do No Harm. Lockdown policies have harmed every person whose risk of death by other causes has been increased by preventing them from doing whatever they would have done, left to their own devices: working, visiting the doctor, and engaging in normal social activities which make life worthwhile, including interacting with family and friends.

With regard to scarce resources and policies which affect entire populations, science is silent about who should and should not be saved. Should limited health resources be dedicated to the mass testing of young people not at serious risk from COVID-19? Should healthy children at nearly no risk of death be used in experimental vaccine trials? These are value judgments about which science has nothing to say. Anyone who suggests otherwise is a shyster or confused, and anyone who believes that men in white lab coats should be the ones to answer such questions has been fooled.

Kamala Harris and the Rise of the NatSec Dems

Kamala Harris and the Rise of the NatSec Dems

Last week, in the 2020 campaign’s sole vice presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) presented herself as part of a growing wing of “national security Democrats” who are quickly populating Congress and—depending on next month’s election results—the White House.

Harris’s positioning is no sudden revelation. As previously reported in The Washington Post, “Those close to Harris describe her as a ‘Truman Democrat,’ a nod to her willingness to use American power to promote American values and interests.”

The comparison to the 33rd commander-in-chief is appropriate. As America’s first post-World War II president, Harry Truman oversaw the expansion and entrenchment of the permanent national security state—including the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and the rebranding of the War Department to the Department of Defense.

That is the calling card of the natsec Dems: a thorough adherence to maintaining the status quo machinations of the Pentagon, an unshakable faith in any pronouncement of a U.S. intelligence agency (no matter how flawed the methodology or tainted by institutional bias or politics), and a muscular flexing of American military strength overseas.

In the vice presidential debate’s brief exchange on foreign policy, Harris was sure to check every box on the NatSec Dem list. “I serve on the Intelligence Committee of the United States Senate. America’s intelligence community told us Russia interfered in the election of the president of the United States in 2016 and is playing in 2020,” said Harris.

The investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by former Obama officials James Clapper and John Brennen has been the source of such partisan acrimony that there is very little either side would agree on today, including whether the probe was fundamentally skewed, and how much of a threat Russia is to the United States at this very moment. However, Harris went on to cite “public reporting” that the Russian government had put bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, and admonished Donald Trump for not addressing the claim in conversations with Vladimir Putin.

As previously explained at Responsible Statecraft, the Russia bounty allegation has its origins in a single CIA report sourced from Taliban prisoners, and in over three months no other agency has been able to validate it. But this has not prevented other NatSec Dems like Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) from regularly promoting the story as authentic. She is even introducing legislation to sanction anyone tied to the so-far unconfirmed bounties.

The more attention Harris and company give to the Russian bounty story, however, the less she gives to the ongoing, 19-year presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. During her brief presidential campaign, Harris refused to commit to leaving Afghanistan in her first term. A refusal to depart the Central Asian sinkhole is a characteristic shared by every NatSec Dem, particularly Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, who in July partnered with Republican warhawk Elizabeth Cheney (Wyo.) to block any congressional funding for a potential withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Compared to the neoconservative ideologues of the Republican Party, NatSec Dems are more selective about where they drop bombs. Previously, Harris co-sponsored legislation to end the U.S. participation in the Saudi-led genocide in Yemen and opposes boots-on-the-ground in Venezuela (while still supporting efforts to oust Nicholas Maduro through other means).

These marginal differences don’t preclude political alliances, however. “Of course we have the support of Democrats, but…in fact, seven members of President George W. Bush’s cabinet are supporting our ticket,” said Harris, bragging about seeing eye-to-eye with the old guard of the most bellicose presidential administration of the past 50 years.

Only a month ago Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass)—a particularly hawkish NatSec Dem—made a similar comment that he “never once questioned the loyalty of George W. Bush…to our Constitution,” implying that Moulton believes in the legality of the Iraq War, mass warrantless surveillance, and the torture program.

Harris continued, adding that “over 500 generals, retired generals, and former national security experts, and advisors are supporting our campaign.” This demonstrates the crossover of support between the national security state and their NatSec Dem patrons like Harris (and Duckworth), who earlier this year voted against a progressive amendment to transfer 10 percent of the $740.5 billion Pentagon budget into domestic welfare programs.

Many NatSec Dems learned where their bread was buttered in their careers as either soldiers or intelligence operatives, prior to their election to Congress. Duckworth, Crow, and Moulton are all veterans, while other NatSec Dems like Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia cut their teeth at the CIA. They represent “the absurd gulf between hawkish Hill-dwelling veterans and their brethren back on Main Street,” writes Danny Sjursen, referring to polls that indicate 73 percent of veterans support a full withdrawal from Afghanistan and other less interventionist policies. So do the American people.

But that seems to matter little. In Senator Harris these NatSec Dems have a former prosecutor and a Trumanesque partner on the ticket who would give them an oversized voice in a prospective Joe Biden presidency and a chance to flex their muscular foreign policy vision, their way.

This article was originally featured at Responsible Statecraft and is republished with permission of author. 

Interview: Learn How Marxist Revolutionaries Massacred Ethiopia’s Christian Monarchy

Interview: Learn How Marxist Revolutionaries Massacred Ethiopia’s Christian Monarchy

“What happened was a catastrophic revolution that really ate its own bright people. The very people who were behind the revolution were the ones who were its victims,” Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie has said on the 1974 Marxist revolution that overthrew his grandfather, Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie.

I had the rare opportunity to interview Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, president of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, and the grandson of Ras Tafari, Emperor Haile Selassie. In my discussion, I heard a first-hand account of the mortal dangers of populations adopting a socialist revolution that we should carefully consider in our own country.

Watch my exclusive interview with Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie here:

Emperor Haile Selassie was a pivotal figure for Ethiopia and the whole of Africa. He implemented several reforms such as a written constitution and land reform to accelerate agricultural development. He was world renown for his defense of his people from Italian fascist imperialism. In 1963, his creation of the Organization of African Unity sowed the seeds for solidarity and liberation of African nations from colonial rule.

In a time in which corporate media look to act as self-appointed gatekeepers of African history, it is telling that so few young Americans are informed of Emperor Haile Selassie’s out-sized role in defeating fascism and colonialism in Africa. The answer lies in the fact that Emperor Selassie was a staunch defender of Christianity, a symbol of patriarchy, and was murdered by socialists promising democracy.

As a devout Christian emperor, Emperor Haile Selassie was a symbol of fatherhood in Africa. Just like all radical groups driven by envy and a hatred for boundaries, the Marxists who tortured and murdered an elderly Emperor Selassie in 1974 were simply living up to their global creed: kill strong fathers first, loot the rest of the people next.

This was nothing new. The Soviets who backed the overthrow of anti-colonialist Emperor Haile Selassie were operating under the same twisted religious playbook they used to gain power in their own country. Financed by western corporatists that benefited from preventing market competition at home and abroad, the Bolsheviks used the disaster of World War I as the animus to murder Tsar Nicholas II’s family—not sparing a single young child—and take over Russia. Everything the revolutionaries complained about under the monarch—lack of food, stolen land, violent prisons, police abuse—they did tenfold in their never-ending transition to utopia.

In my interview with Prince Ermias Selassie, he recounts a similar formula for the revolutionaries in Ethiopia:

They closed all the churches, executions were very rampant, and it didn’t fare well for the Marxists. I mean, they never got the support of the people.

Today, Western corporatists and their press organs continue to sell a whitewashed view of African history that diminishes the voices of African heroes like Emperor Haile Selassie. Outlets like The New York Times live up to their legacy of covering up the crimes of Marxists like the ghastly 1930s Holdomor genocide in Ukraine, resulting in 12 million deaths. They amplify voices that celebrate the same anti-market, anti-freedom, anti-family sentiments that fueled the murder of Emperor Selassie.

The coprorate press does all this under the guise of social justice. Yet the only slavery The New York Times crowd will condemn are instances that took place 200 years ago. Meanwhile, they openly campaign for a candidate like Vice President Joe Biden, who led the butchering of another independent African country, Libya, and yawn at the unleashing of a modern slave trade in that country. Indeed, The New York Times used its pages to push the public for war in Libya. As they did in Syria. Millions of people of color have been displaced, dismembered, and killed as a result.

Wherever we go in history, the problem with the corporate press and their violent revolutionary foot soldiers is that they suffer the same delusion that Jesus confronted in his own time from self-proclaimed authorities:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets. So you testify against yourselves that you are the sons of those who murdered the prophets.

Media elites act as if they care about vulnerable lives. They act as if they only care about facts and fairness. But the record of history shows they cover up the voices that get in the way of their religious devotion to socialism. Just like Jesus was sacrificed by a leader named Caiaphas who proclaimed “it is better that one man die than the whole nation perish,” socialist revolutionaries and their would-be myth-makers in the press believe it is better that Emperor Haile Selassie die, and the truth of his impact with him, than the whole global project of socialism perish. They truly believe it is okay to sacrifice some, including millions in the poor and middle class, who stand in the way of their god—the all encompassing, all seeing, all knowing, all caring, cradle-to-grave state.

In a now deleted statement of beliefs page on blacklivesmatter.com, the corporate press-lauded organization declared:

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

To the young adults who have been drawn into America’s acute bout with revolutionary anger, I will leave them with Prince Ermias Selassie’s warning about Marxism:

I would say to them that it’s very interesting to read and understand concepts but when you live and experience it you realize how complex it is and it’s not such a black and white issue. Idealism, I think, leads to a lot of fanaticism; it’s your way or the highway. That has led to a lot of problems: a lot of blind hatred, a lot of blind murders. All about…being the sacrificial lamb to justify your right and that man is God and is in charge of his own destiny, which I don’t believe in.

The Marxists who killed Emperor Selassie failed. Ethiopia’s churches and markets are open again and healing is underway. The revolutionaries attempting to overthrow family and faith in America will fail too. The question is, will we learn from the lessons of the past and reject sacrificial revolution at its infancy or take the long, sad path of ignorant repetition?

How Data Collection Drives State Intervention In Our Lives

How Data Collection Drives State Intervention In Our Lives

The U.S. Census made the news recently, as a dispute over the deadline for its data collection made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Trump administration successfully lobbied for a deadline of Friday October 16, over the objections of the National Urban League who instead wanted the deadline extended to the end of October due to COVID-related delays.

The traditional census has been conducted every decade since 1790, as mandated in the Constitution. The population count is used to determine representation in congressional districts for the next 10 years.

The data is also “used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds for health care, housing programs and education,” as ABC News described.

Local communities emphasize high census response rates so that they aren’t “underrepresented” when it comes to the federal government dole.

But that’s not all. Indeed it’s far from it.

As detailed in this Census Bureau document, the census also asks a litany of other questions of households, including income, sex, age, home value, education attainment, kitchen facilities, number of vehicles available, and dozens more.

The census, however, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to government data collection.

As Murray Rothbard wrote even decades ago, “The vast bulk of statistics is gathered and disseminated by government. The overall statistics of the economy, the popular ‘gross national product’ data that permits every economist to be a soothsayer of business conditions, come from government.”

In an essay first published in 1961 by the Foundation for Economic Education, and much more recently re-produced at Mises.org, Rothbard argued that the “burgeoning of government statistics offers several obvious evils to the libertarian.”

Steep Compliance Costs

Forced compliance to the government’s massive apparatus of data collection imposes significant costs, especially burdensome on the nations’ small businesses.

“Private industry, and the private consumer, must bear the burdensome costs of record keeping, filing, and the like, that these statistics demand,” Rothbard wrote. “Not only that; these fixed costs impose a relatively great burden on small business firms, which are ill equipped to handle the mountains of red tape.”

Data collection represents yet another means by which big government hurts the little guy.

While it’s impossible to know the severity of the burden, Rothbard did report on a Hoover Commission task force which found “The chemical industry alone reports that each year it spends $8,850,000 to supply statistical reports demanded by three departments of the Government. The utility industry spends $32,000,000 a year in preparing reports for Government agencies.”

Recall that this data is from an article written in 1961, so today’s burden on businesses will be several multiples higher in dollar terms. The millions (or more) in resources devoted to compliance to government data collection schemes diverts scarce resources that could otherwise be devoted to job creation, capital investment that increases productivity which in turn drives up wages, or research and development devoted to developing new products to improve the lives of consumers.

A Precursor to Fovernment Intervention

Even more nefarious, however, is how government data collection serves as the foundation upon which government intervention and control is built. According to Rothbard:

Not only do statistics gathering and producing go beyond the governmental function of defense of persons and property; not only are economic resources wasted and misallocated, and the taxpayers, industry, small business, and the consumer burdened. But, furthermore, statistics are, in a crucial sense, critical to all interventionist and socialist activities of government.

The data and statistics collected by the government, Rothbard argued, serves as a substitute for market data for government planners. Consumers, for instance, have little need of such statistics. Instead, Rothbard wrote, the consumer uses localized knowledge made available “through advertising, through the information of friends, and through his own experience” in order to understand the markets around him and help inform his decisions.

Likewise, business owners “must also size up his particular market, determine the prices he has to pay for what he buys and charge for what he sells, engage in cost accounting to estimate his costs, and so on.”

None of this activity by consumers and businesses, however, is dependent upon the “statistical facts about the economy ingested by the federal government,” Rothbard noted. Instead, “The businessman, like the consumer, knows and learns about his particular market through his daily experience.”

But government bureaucrats, Rothbard continued, “are in a completely different state of affairs.”

They are decidedly outside the market. Therefore, in order to get ‘into’ the situation that they are trying to plan and reform, they must obtain knowledge that is not personal, day-to-day experience; the only form that such knowledge can take is statistics.

As such, only through the mass gathering of statistics can the government make “even a fitful attempt to plan, regulate, control, or reform various industries—or impose central planning and socialization on the entire economic system,” Rothbard wrote.

Without gathering statistics on various industries, how could it even begin to regulate prices or other aspects of their economic activity? How could the government attempt to “regulate” the business cycle without knowing whether business activity was going up or down?

“Statistics, to repeat, are the eyes and ears of the interventionists,” Rothbard declared. “Cut off those eyes and ears, destroy those crucial guidelines to knowledge, and the whole threat of government intervention is almost completely eliminated.”

Lastly, because perhaps the most common pretext for government intervention into the economy is to “correct” for market failures, if the government were deprived of its data collection, there would no longer even be the slightest “pretense of rationality in government intervention” left.

As a result, Rothbard concludes by suggesting that “the simple and unspectacular abolition of government statistics would probably be the most thorough and most effective” check on government intervention. “Statistics, so vital to statism, its namesake, is also the State’s Achilles’ heel.”

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. You can follow him on Twitter @erasestate.

Utah Proud Boys and BLM Join Together Against Racism, Call for Police Reform

Utah Proud Boys and BLM Join Together Against Racism, Call for Police Reform

Something pretty incredible happened earlier this month in Utah and because it showed two ostensibly opposing groups come together instead of promoting divide, it was curiously absent from nearly all mainstream media. The Proud Boys—who are considered a hate group by the SPLC—came together with Black Lives Matter—who they are allegedly supposed to hate—and did something inspiring. They denounced racism and white supremacy and explained how they are now working together.

Not surprisingly, over the past several weeks, the mainstream media has run with stories of protesters and counter protesters fighting with each other rather than show Black Lives Matter of Northern Utah finding common ground with the Salt Lake chapter of the Proud boys. But that is why The Free Thought Project exists, to bring you the news that shows it is possible to think past labels and petty fighting and realize that we are all human.

DISCLAIMER: It is sad that this disclaimer is necessary but before anyone claims that The Free Thought Project is a supporter of the Proud Boys, we are not. We are supporters of peace and unity and putting differences aside to create a more freer world, and the following scenario out of Utah is a perfect example of this.

Jacarri Kelley, the leader of Black Lives Matter, Northern Utah said she was perplexed during a protest two months ago in Cottonwood Heights when she saw a member of the Proud Boys, who was not white, being accused of being a white supremacist.

“How can he be a white supremacist if he is Hispanic?” Kelley asked. “Or Polynesian? I originally thought he was black.”

This made the open minded BLM head reach out to the Proud Boys, who told her they were there simply to make sure that “nothing goes down.”

That is when they got together and decided they could help each other. For two months that is what they have done and during a protest in Salt Lake City two weeks ago, they held a press conference to talk about the importance of unity and reaching across labels to find out that just because someone has a different political view than you, doesn’t make them a bad person—unless of course they advocate hating people or superiority for having a certain skin color.

But Kelley dispelled that myth quite swiftly—at least with the Proud Boys at this particular protest—noting that they are not white supremacists. She also stated that they agree on more issues than which they disagree. She said they both have a problem with how the media is stoking constant divide.

Kelley explained that the rioters and looters don’t represent what the BLM movement is about, but that is how many in the media portray them. Kelley went on to say that her grandfather and her father served in the military and they have a right to say they are “proud Americans” just like the Proud Boys have a right to say it.

Kelley then said the Proud Boys “just need a little bit of respect and education to bridge gaps,” before introducing the chief of the Salt Lake Proud Boys to speak. She said the two groups have worked together for a couple of months and their work has opened the Proud Boys’ eyes to what Black Lives Matter is all about.

“Obviously, I am not black, so I cannot understand what Jacarri goes through every day,” said Thad, the group’s chief. “But meeting with them has given us understanding and now we can work together.”

Imagine that. A little empathy can go a long way.

When questioned about the group’s founder, Gavin McInnes—whose racism has been heavily documented online—the two Proud Boys explained that he is an instigator and is no longer part of the organization for that exact reason.

“He’s gone, he’s not part of the organization anymore,” both men said before officially denouncing racism all together.

“I will go out and say that the Proud Boys as a whole—I will say this on behalf of the entire national organization—denounce White supremacy,” the chief of the Proud Boys Salt Lake Utah Chapter said when the reporter questioned him, adding that being called white supremacists threatens their safety.

Thad said that the Proud Boys are simply “proud” of their country. “It means that the west is the best—western civilization is the best. That’s our opinion,” Thad said.

“We are in no way, shape or form White supremacists,” Thad said. “We have a vetting system that gets those people out of our hair. We do not have anything to do with White supremacy. We do not have anything to do with the Ku Klux Klan. We denounce those organizations.”

After Thad spoke, the president of the Salt Lake Proud Boys, who gave the name Seth, got up to speak.

“I don’t care what color your skin is, we’re all Americans, and we need to find a way to come together instead of divide,” he said.

Seth then explained that this bridging of the divide has led to the Proud Boys working with BLM to achieve police reform.

“Meeting and talking and having that understanding allowed us to move forward with working together on police reform,” Seth said.

Kelley, who first met the Proud Boys at a protest in Cottonwood Heights, says the partnership is real.

“We do need to be able to reach across the aisle and have these tough conversations,” Kelley added. And she is right, according to KUTV, the Salt Lake chapter of the group says they’ll continue to link arms with Black Lives Matter, Northern Utah.

This is how progress is made. When people put their differences aside and have meaningful conversations while practicing empathy, peace is the inevitable result. Sadly, the media is so hell bent on pushing divide and keeping people inside their own little bias-confirming bubbles, that conversations like this one are rare.

Instead, we see people blindly hating each other, screaming in each other’s faces and now have resorted to violence.

The world can learn a lot from Jacarri, Seth, and Thad, they just have to listen. It is high time we start doing more listening than screaming.

As the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.”

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission. 

My Statement on the Prosecution of Julian Assange

My Statement on the Prosecution of Julian Assange

This written statement was made by Daniel Ellsberg, acting as an expert witness for the defense, on September 18, 2020 in front of the British magistrate during the extradition trial of Julian Assange. This transcript is republished from RCReader.com

1. I provide this statement in the ongoing proceedings USA v Julian Assange. I am aware of the allegations against Mr. Assange and have read the indictments. I am familiar with the nature of the content of the publications in question. I have met Mr. Assange on a number of occasions during the past ten years and have had lengthy discussions with him on issues relevant to the charges he faces.

2. I have been asked by Mr. Assange’s UK lawyers to provide such evidence as I am able. (i) On the basis of my knowledge of Mr. Assange and his work to comment upon what I understand to be the assertion by the prosecution in his case that he does not have “political opinions” or rather, any of relevance to the request for his extradition. I am asked whether I consider opinions of relevance in the context of the indictment he faces can be categorised as recognisable political opinions and such as have been exercised by him in thought, speech and actions to have been intended to alter (and in fact to have altered) the actions of relevant government institutions in particular those of the USA. (ii) On the basis of my knowledge and experience, of the restrictions upon the exposure of classified information even where the intention is to expose grave illegalities carried out within particular wars; and the impact of further restrictions if prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

3. My personal details are these: I was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1931. I was educated at Harvard University, where I received a B.A., summa cum laude, in 1952 and a Ph.D. in Economics in 1962. In 1953-53 I was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for study at King’s College, Cambridge University, and in 1957-59 I was a member of the Society of Fellows, Harvard University. From 1954-57 I was an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

4. I am a co-founder and current board member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation; Distinguished Research Fellow of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), UMass, Amherst; Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF).

5. I am a receipient of numerous awards, many citing my revelation of the Pentagon Papers, including the Right Livelihood Award, 2006; Dresden Peace Prize, 2016; and the Olaf Palme Prize, 2018, in addition to: ACLU Civil Liberties Award, 1971; Americans for Democratic Action Fredom of Speech Award, 1972; Eleanor Roosevelt Peace Award (SANE) 1973 (with Andrei
Sakharov); Gandhi Peace Award, 1978; Society of Profesional Journalists Freedom of Information Award, 2004; German Federation of Scientists Whistleblowerpreis Award, 2004. Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Distinguished Peace Leader Award, 2005; Ron Ridenhour Courage Prize, 2010; Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award, 2013; Bertha Foundation Ben Bagdikian Award, 2013; Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) William J. Brennan Jr. Defense of Freedom Award, 2016.

Relevant Background

6. I set out below my background and experience of relevance to the matters on which I am commenting in this statement.

7. In 1964-65 I was Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, with the “super-grade” GS-18: highest level in the Civil Service, the civilian equivalent to major general. In 1965-67, having volunteered for service in Vietnam, I served in the Embassy in Saigon with the grade of FSR-1, as Senior Liaison Officer, and as Special Assistant to the Deputy Ambassador with the duty of evaluating pacification.

8. In 1967-69, I was a member – as a consultant to OSD from the Rand Corporation, to which I had returned – of a McNamara Task Force which produced a 47-volume Top Secret study entitled “History of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam 1945-68,” later known as the Pentagon Papers. In this role, I had access to documents classified at the ‘secret’ and ‘top secret’ leve. In late 1968 and early 1969 I was a consultant to the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, on Vietnam options and initial governmental studies on Vietnam.

9. In 1969, together with my colleague Anthony Russo, I made several copies of the Pentagon Papers. I believed that these 7,000 pages of top secret documents demonstrated that the conduct of the war in Vietnam had, over more than one administration, been started and continued by the US Government in the knowledge that it could not be won, and that President Johnson and his administration had lied to Congress and to the public in relation to its origins, costs and prospects.

10. Eventually, in 1971, having provided the documents I had copied to The New York Times and The Washington Post, those newspapers published excerpts of the Pentagon Papers. As a result of the Nixon administration to restrict prior
publication, the US Supreme Court ruled in New York Times v United States that The New York Times had the right to publish the materials which were protected by the First Amendment.

11. I was prosecuted in 1971 for my giving truthful information to the public. The Nixon administration utilised the Espionage Act (intended for spies) against me and my co-accused, we having informed the public of that truthful information.

12. Initially, three charges were brought against me with a possible sentence of 35 years; by the end of the same year I was indicted on 12 counts with a possible sentence of 115 years. Despite the importance and necessity of the action I took I was not permitted to rely upon any justification in my defence to the Espionage Act charges. My trial instead, ended eventually as a result of the revelation of the U.S. government’s criminal actions towards me which led in turn to the convictions of several administration officials.

My Actions

13. It took me months to copy the papers from my safe at the Rand Corporation, one page at a time. I collated the documents as they came off the Xerox machine, and cut off the “top secret” classifications from the top and the bottom of all the pages. I knew then that my actions could result in my going to prison, but I believed that the public had to know about this.

14. I considered my actions then, and now, to be essential and the actions of a patriot.

15. There is strong basis for the widely-held belief that my own action had a tangible effect, as I intended and hoped, on the ability of the American public, Congress and courts, to end both the deaths and the deceptions associated with U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war.

The Impediments to Alternative Means of Disclosure

16. Without publication in the press, it would have proved impossible for the content of the Pentagon Papers to be placed in the public domain. I spent over a year and a half attempting to get hearings in Congress without success.

17. Making the public aware of the Pentagon Papers took years. I tried a number of routes. It was the specific example of Randall Kehler, whom I met in August 1969 as he prepared to go to prison for two years for refusing to cooperate with his draft board, that put in my head the question: “What can I do—non-violently and truthfully—to help end this war, if I am willing to go to jail for it?” And that question found its answer within weeks, at which point I began to copy the documentary evidence in my safe of governmental deception and law-breaking. I decided to demonstrate the truth about the war to Congress and the public, though I expected to spend the rest of my life in prison for doing it.

18. Prior to my releasing the Pentagon Papers, I had possession in my safe in the Pentagon, documents which gave lie to claims of an “unequivocal, unprovocated” attack on U.S. destroyers in the Tonkin Gulf. False claims about the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin led to the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution by Congress, which gave President Johnson legal justification for engaging in war against North Vietnam. I was later told by Senator Morse (one of the two senators who had voted against the resolution), that if I had given him that evidence at the time, instead of waiting to 1969 when I provided it to the Senate foreign relations committee, the resolution would have been voted down.

19. I have long regretted not releasing the documents in August 1964, or in the next few months, and it is a heavy burden for me to bear. Had I or one of the scores of other officials who had the same high-level information acted then on our oath of office—which was not an oath to obey the president, nor to keep the secret that he was violating his own sworn obligations, but solely an oath “to support and defend the constitution of the United States”—that terrible war might well have been averted altogether. But to hope to have that effect, we would have needed to disclose the documents when they were
current, before the escalation—not five or seven, or even two, years after the fateful commitments had been made.

20. The routes to exposure in courts of law were entirely blocked. I had been asked to be an expert witness in the trial of a number of highly principled college students and seminarians who had destroyed draft files as a way of protesting peacefully against a continuing believed illegal war. I was not permitted however to present copies of the Pentagon Papers as documentary evidence to support my testimony that the government had been manipulating the democratic process—and concealing its own law-breaking—by lying to the public, a situation that called for dramatic challenge of the sort the defendants
had done. But the Pentagon Papers did not get into the public record on that occasion. The federal judge in that case refused to allow me to offer evidence (the Pentagon Papers, in a briefcase by my side on the witness stand) to support my assertion of that several presidents had lied. When he heard me use the word “lie” he warned the defense lawyer questioning me that both the lawyer and myself would be held in contempt if I used that word again. He had earlier warned the defense attorney that he would not entertain expert testimony “critical of the federal government.”

21. It was precisely this sort of consciousness that seemed to me to need changing if our democratic system were to end the Vietnam tragedy, and I saw nothing other than the Pentagon Papers that might do the job. But that meant that I had to be willing to take measures that would sharply increase the risk of spending the rest of my life in jail.

22. In fact, the disclosures that ended my trial on May 11, 1973—daily revelations for two weeks of a whole series of criminal actions that the Nixon Administration had taken against me to stop further truth-telling about government policy by me
or others—further strengthened Congressional determination to cut off spending on American weapons and bombs that were still killing Vietnamese, even though U.S. casualties had ceased. (The first House majority vote to suspend funding on the war, for bombing of Cambodia, came on May 10, the day before my trial was finally dismissed).

23. It is in the context of the above experience that I can comment upon the position facing Julian Assange, having studied carefully the subject matter of the WikiLeaks publications in 2010 and 2011 concerning the conduct of the Afghan and Iraq wars and detentions in Guantanamo Bay and US diplomatic cables commenting upon aspects of U.S. actions. I have observed the extraordinary breadth and depth of those revelations: revealing as they do the reality of the consequences of war. The exposure of such would be imperative to bring about any alteration of US government policy. I have followed closely the impact of a number of those publications and consider them to be amongst the most important truthful revelations of hidden criminal state behaviour that have been made public in U.S. history. My own actions in relation to the Pentagon Papers and the consequences of their publication have been acknowledged to have performed such a radical change of understanding. I view the WikiLeaks publications of 2010 and 2011 to be of comparable importance

Re: Mr Assange’s Political Opinions

24. I comment that I find extraordinary the assertion that Mr. Assange does not possess political opinions of direct relevance to his intended prosecution in the USA and the ongoing attempt to extradite him for charges under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Acts. The opinions that it is very obvious that he has, (amongst many of sophistication and complexity on a range of issues), in particular in the light of the prosecution he faces, are very clearly focussed fairly and squarely at the centre of political movements of which I regard myself as part and which much of my life has spent committed to pursuing. (i) The movement to bring transparency to government actions which required to be exposed for the public to understand them and to achieve alteration, in particular those that touch upon the gravest of issues, (very frequently where the claim for “national security” has been erected to obscure illegality and deceit often on a major scale). (ii) In respect of the “anti-war”/”peace” movement I have heard and read many of Mr. Assange’s public statements on these issues. They have constituted an important part of public debate and knowledge on the subject of war and in particular the subject of the Afghan and Iraq wars, the publications for which he is being prosecuted having constitued an enormous body of incontrovertible data that has allowed for a universal body of knowledge and consequent understanding and action. I have also spoken to him privately over many hours on the same subjects. Indeed I spoke to him during the course of 2010/2011 at a time when some of the published material had not yet seen the light of day. I was able to observe his approach was the exact opposite of reckless publication and nor would he wilfully expose others to harm. WikiLeaks could have published the entirety of the material on receipt. Instead I was able to observe but also to discuss with him the unprecedented steps he initiated, of engaging with convential media partners, for the purpose of ensuring that the impact of publication was not only widespread, but that
it might be the most likely route to have effect upon U.S. government policy and its alteration.

25. I hope that my comments might assist the Court in its understanding of what it is that Mr. Assange faces and its context. I observe the closest of similarities to the position I faced, where the exposure of illegality and criminal acts institutionally and by individuals was intended to be crushed by the administration carrying out those illegalities; in part in revenge for my act of exposing them but in part to crush all such future exposure of the truth and when there was no other way. I have closely observed the actions of the US government, its military and its intelligence agency the CIA and that the actions in question were never intended to be revealed (including rendition and torture, the use of “black sites” and crimes against humanity). I have also observed that those who have been party to exposing them have been and continue to be themselves threatened and criminalised. The actions brought against me involved a political determination (later exposed) that the Department of Justice be used to bring those actions even where the justification for their publication had been acknowledged. By the eventual time of my trial in 1973 US policies had indeed already been put into reverse as a result of the newspapers’ publications years before.

WikiLeaks’ Publication of the Afghan War Logs

26. When stories based on the Afghan war logs began to be published, I felt that the comparison between those publications and the Pentagon Papers was inevitable in one major respect: in terms of volume, there had been nothing like it since the Pentagon Papers. It was the first unauthorised disclosure of such magnitude in nearly 40 years. Moreover, it had the advantage of being more current; the most recent of the Pentagon Papers were dated three years before their release but some of the documents in the Afghan war diaries were dated six months earlier than their release.

27. There were also some differences which I noted. The Pentagon Papers were high-level, top-secret documents on internal estimates, alternatives being debated, presidential directives, and so forth. The Afghanistan documents are lower-level field reports, of the kind that I was reading and writing when I was a foreign-service officer in Vietnam. In fact, I could have written a number of them—they were very like the ones I wrote, with the place names changed. Which confirmed my view held for a number of years that I saw the war in Afghanistan as ‘Vietnamistan’ in that it was a replay of the stalemate the USA had been in 40 years ago. My further observation is that the civilian victims of the population ceased to be seen as human beings whose lives had the same worth as those involved in the bringing of war to their respective countries; in those circumstances, crimes against humanity of the worst kind, and mass atrocities could and did become the norm.

28. My attention, as with the rest of the world was first caught by the video of the Apache helicopter assault in Iraq, which became known as ‘Collateral Murder.’ That title, given by Assange, was often criticised as overly accusatory. On the contrary, as a former battalion training officer (Third Battalion, Second Marines) and rifle company commander, I was acutely aware that what was depicted in that video deserved the term murder, a war crime. (In fact, deliberate as the killing of civilians was, it was the word “collateral” that was questionable.) The American public needed urgently to know what was being done routinely in their name, and there was no other way for them to learn it than by unauthorized disclosure.

29. I came to appreciate, in relation to the publication of subsequent material, the ways in which Assange had developed and was continuing to develop technology which enabled whistleblowers to bring evidence of such criminality into the public domain. I understood at the time that Assange planned to offer this same technology to newspapers at the time and I note that since 2010, most major media outlets, and even the CIA, have developed secure technology to allow whistleblowers to share information in a secure and anonymous way. Indeed, the Freedom of the Press Foundation—of which I was a co-founder and am a current board member—has developed and widely made available to media just such a software system, “Secure Drop.”

My Prosecution Under the Espionage Act

30. It is widely acknowledged that the copying done by me and the much later, the publication of the Pentagon Papers, can reasonably be held to have contributed first, to the ending of U.S. casualties in Vietnam, and subsequently to the ending of the war and to the destruction of Vietnam and the deaths of its people. However those effects depended in large part on the Nixon adminstrations over-reaction to my actions, its actions having been taken in fear of the political consequences of better public information on a policy that was still being conducted largely in secret to hide its reckless illegality.

31. As has become very well known, after the publication of the papers, President Nixon was so disturbed by the media’s portrayal of my actions that he ordered his aides to look for damaging personal information to destroy my reputation. “Don’t worry about his trial” the President told then Attorney General John Mitchell, “Just get everything out…we want to destroy him in the press” and a clandestine White House unit led by Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt broke into the offices of my psychiatrist in September 1971, discovered only after a further attempted burglary took place (the Watergate burglary). Further still, President Nixon and his associates had brought in a dozen CIA assets, under the direction of Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, from Miami on May 3rd 1972, with orders to incapacitate me totally. Bernard Baker, a CIA asset, later told me that his mission was to break both of my legs and I later learnt (from the special prosecutor in their case) that there was a plan for these CIA assets to attack me in the course of a rally that I was speaking to on the steps of the Capitol on May 3 1972. Three days before my trial came to an end, evidence of unlawful wire tapping surveillance surfaced. The trial judge, William Byrne on May 11th 1973 stated “The totality of the circumstances of this case…offend a sense of justice. The bizarre events have incurably infected the prosecution of this case.” He dismissed all charges with prejudice (so that I could not face these charges again.)

32. I do not canvas in this statement the fact that a collateral challenge was intended to be argued at my trial. However, so far as the Espionage Act itself and any challenge based on the necessary action that I would wish to have made, the response of my trial judge is very well known. When I attempted to answer my lawyer’s question as to “why” I had copied the Pentagon Papers—in part, to explain my judgment that the documents were improperly classified to keep them not from an enemy but from the American public and to argue the necessity therefore of their being made public because of their content—the court ruled the question as “irrelevant” and I was silenced before I could begin. My lawyer said that he “Had never heard of a case where a defendant was not permitted to tell the jury why he did what he did”. Judge Byrne responded “Well you’re hearing one now.” (Of grave concern was the revelation I later learned that the President, intent on preventing the revelation of criminal acts against me surfacing during the trial, had offered the trial judge, Matthew Byrne, the thenopen post of Director of the FBI (a childhood ambition of Byrne’s), on the understanding that he would end the trial expeditiously (presumably, with conviction).

33. Without the revelation of these supervening illegal events above, if facing the same circumstances today, and charged under the Espionage Act, I am certain that I would be convicted. I observe that this has been the pattern since in prosecutions under the Espionage Act of whistleblowers seeking to raise the public interest attaching to the publications in question. I noted that the military judge at the trial of Chelsea Manning did not allow Manning or her lawyer to argue her intent, the lack of damage to the U.S., over classification of the cables or the benefits of the leaks until she was already found guilty.

A History of Libertarian Party Presidential Messaging, 1972-1996

A History of Libertarian Party Presidential Messaging, 1972-1996

Friends of liberty inside and outside the Libertarian Party are waiting patiently—some passively—for three more weeks until the conclusion of the November presidential election. Not to find out whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will come in first, but how many votes their own candidate will receive on the margin.

Jo Jorgensen, a businesswoman, university lecturer, and longtime party activist received the presidential nomination in May, with the (virtual) convention selecting activist and podcaster Spike Cohen as her running mate. Not long afterwards, the Jorgensen/Cohen ticket became the focal point of a bitter dispute within the liberty movement about messaging, with particular rancor towards their social media team.

While ascribing to nearly identical ideas, the rhetorical divide between libertarians seems almost insurmountable. Differences of opinion include what issues libertarians should prioritize, which demographics their message should be aimed at, what a unifying movement leader would look like, and whether political activism is even worth investment.

It would be instructive for libertarians to have a sense of how past candidates have portrayed themselves and sold their policies to voters. In its nearly fifty-year history, the Libertarian party has run presidential tickets from different factions and backgrounds, with different personalities, all while collecting different results. Finding what works, what’s unappealing, and what can be improved is necessary for future endeavors.

This article will focus on four of the Libertarian Party’s most prominent presidential campaigns—1976, 1980, 1988, 1996—comparing and contrasting the pamphlets that were meant introduce libertarianism to the voting public.

Bc77a77b E7d7 4c52 A4e5 E58549176b76First, a special aside should be made for the Libertarian Party’s first nominees, philosophy professor John Hospers and radio producer Tonie Nathan. Founded in Colorado in 1971, Murray Rothbard described the organization’s inauspicious beginnings: “There’s no finances, there’s no people, there’s nothing.” Professionally made literature was out of reach for the upstart campaign, but they did make one pin that asked voters, in Nineteen Eighty-Four fashion, to “Break Free From Big Brother.” On the ballot in only two states (Colorado and Washington), the Hospers/Nathan ticket won only 3,600 votes, less than one tenth of one percent. And yet this newborn third party shot to notoriety when a faithless elector in Virginia gave them a lone tally in the Electoral College.

That faithless elector went on to be the party’s 1976 presidential nominee. Roger MacBride had formerly worked as a lawyer and, as the inheritor of the Laura Ingalls Wilder literary estate, co-created the NBC television series Little House on the Prairie. MacBride built his campaign around the phrase “a new dawn,” in which the Libertarian Party would break the country’s political duopoly and present Americans with a fresh direction. The brochure reads:

Who could deny that the politics of contemporary America should fade into the sunset and disappear forever? Most Americans, if we are to believe the public opinion polls, do desire a new dawn—a fresh approach to politics and a reappraisal of the appropriate role of government in a free society. The problem is, the candidates of the Republican and Democratic parties are from the old school of political wheeling and dealing. They sense that the public is ready for a new direction but they don’t know or care what that direction should be

MacBride’s brochure is heavy on rhetoric, candidate biography, and even includes a retelling of the party’s founding. What it lacks is policy proscriptions, with only a single page of bullet points quotes meant to inform the reader of where libertarians stand on the issues. With such limited space, it’s both curious but predictable that television producer MacBride would save special ire for the Federal Communications Commission, which he calls “one of the most dangerous agencies of government” for its censorship and intimidation of broadcasters. The FCC is one of the executive agencies MacBride promised to abolish, along with the FTC, ICC, and CAB, saying they “employ a virtual army of bureaucrats who are leeches on the productive sector of society.”

Despite the brevity, MacBride’s statement on U.S. foreign policy is worth quoting at length because of its foresight:

If I were elected President I’d retire Henry Kissinger as one of my first orders of business. The United States government has no right running around the world using tax dollars—the money you and I earn—to make ‘deals’ with foreign governments. The U.S. should stop intervening in other peoples’ affairs. I’m particularly concerned that the current Administration’s policy of involvement in the Middle East is going to lead to another Vietnam.

In November 1976, Roger MacBride won 172,000 votes, or one-fifth of one percent.

Where the MacBride brochure lacked on substance, Ed Clark’s indulges. A corporate lawyer, Clark gained appeal as a candidate after his 1978 campaign for California governor overperformed (he won almost five and a half percent). Riding high, he sailed to the presidential nomination in 1980.

While including photos of the candidate and a standard introduction, Clark’s brochure opens to reveal six pages of policy summations, making it by far the most detailed of the bunch. Clark elucidates his opinions on issues including, but not limited to, energy, unemployment, inflation, and crime, while even including separate subheads for civil liberties and the draft, along with foreign affairs and defense spending.

The Ed Clark campaign and its handlers earned the eternal enmity of Murray Rothbard when during a television interview, Clark used the phrase “low-tax liberalism” to explain libertarian ideology. This blunder has permanently attached the label of moderate or shallow to Clark’s run for office in the minds of many libertarians who proudly wear the moniker “radical.”

On that scale, Clark’s stated positions are a mixed bag; he goes all the way on some issues, but only partway on others. On one hand, Clark promised to abolish the newly formed Department of Energy, repeal all price controls, and eliminate the minimum wage. But on the other, while calling public education “a disgrace,” he goes no further than favoring tax credits for charter schools. Wonderfully, Clark refers to the draft as nothing more than “short-term slavery.” But while he favors reducing military expenditures, he gives no indication of how much.

One of the stances Clark was hit hardest on by other libertarians was taxes. In in the brochure’s introduction, taxes are the first issue mentioned, with Clark promising “the largest tax cut in American history.” It’s a phrase used repeatedly on other pages. To Rothbard and others, this fell too far short of calling for a full repeal of the income tax or destroying the IRS. In the same campaign, Ronald Reagan was making a similar promise, once again making Clark’s brand appeared watered down.

Like MacBride, the strength of Clark’s foreign policy stance and his recognition of blowback is worth quoting at length:

The United States supplies arms and aid to the world’s worst military despots. Indeed, in this century, we have supplied arms to both sides in seventeen different wars…The consequences and costs of this bankrupt foreign policy are becoming increasingly apparent, both at home and abroad. Our years of support for the despotic shah of Iran against the will of the Iranian people caused the Iranians to react violently against the United States. It is just one of many examples, from Vietnam to Nicaragua, of the failure of foreign adventurism. We must resolve now to avoid foreign crises in the future by staying out of the affairs of other countries.

On top of paper, the Clark campaign ran a litany of professionally produced, five-minute television ads. This surely benefited when come November, Ed Clark won 921,000 votes, or just over one percent. His 1980 campaign would hold the record on raw vote total and percentage until the Gary Johnson presidential runs of 2012 and 2016, respectively.

In 1988, Dr. Ron Paul was the most experienced presidential nominee in the Libertarian Party’s less than two-decade history. After a career in medicine, Paul had been elected to the U.S. House as a Republican four times, serving from 1976 to 1977 and 1979 to 1985. Despite having the most prominent career (both before and after his nomination), Paul has far and away the simplest brochure.

9b0df3a6 7124 4f30 86f6 D38d884b6190Only three pages of policy positions and biography, Paul’s brochure is precise, albeit brief. The prospective voter is greeted by a cartoon drawing of Alice in Wonderland characters Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, with an “R” and “D” painted on their chests. It tells the reader that, “Ron Paul’s message of liberty is the same one that inspired the Founding Fathers to fight for our independence, that galvanized mass movements in the 19th century for hard money and personal liberty, and that mobilized millions in the 20th century.”

This appeal to the past is one of the hallmarks of the Paul brochure. While MacBride’s mentions the American Revolution twice, and Clark’s not at all, Paul references the Founding Fathers five times in a much shorter print.

Much of the substance in Paul’s brochure will discussed further on, but for now his skewering of U.S. foreign policy is once again worth quoting from:

The job of the U.S. government is to defend the people, property, and liberty of the United States. Period. It is not to run the world. It is not to fund wealthy clients like Germany and Japan. It is not to install and overthrow dictators in Central America. It is not to intervene on the side of totalitarian socialist Iraq and Big Oil in the Persian Gulf.

In November 1988 Ron Paul received 431,000 votes, or just under half a percent.

In his 1996 brochure, Harry Browne sells himself as much as the libertarian message. Taking an aside from explaining the budget to tell voters where they can buy his new book, the best-selling author and investment advisor was a natural marketer. In this instance, he does so by directly comparing himself to his Democrat and Republican opponents. In punchy bullet points, Browne presents what the major parties believe on spending, taxes, and social security, and follows with how he’s different.

The language is purposely dramatized to draw attention; balance the entire budget now (emphasis in original). And the issues are all geared towards matters that affect the daily lives of Americans. That specialization, while smart for voter targeting, leaves much to be desired in delivering the libertarian message. For instance, there is no mention of foreign policy, the only brochure to ignore the subject. The language, however, is the most accessible to the average person, using clear, simple direction to inform voter’s about Browne’s policies.

Harry Browne won 485,000 votes in 1996, or exactly half a percent. His performance was strong enough—the highest vote count since Ed Clark in 1980—and his personal appeal so universal that he was re-nominated by the Libertarian Party four years later.

Bringing all four brochures together, the first impression is their diverse color aesthetic. Each campaign appears to have chosen to lean on a single-color pallet; MacBride on a deep blue, almost purple; Clark on Green; Paul on light blue, and Browne on red. And like most political paper, a picture of the candidate included on the front, bar MacBride’s, which allotted for the “new dawn” imagery.

Both MacBride and Clark include a page of media mentions and favorable quotes from publications. They both even go so far as to recycle a quote from Nicholas von Hoffman in the Washington Post that he wrote in 1974. Paul has no media quotations but does include a list of organizations that had presented him with awards, including the Mises Institute. And Browne’s biography includes a list of the national television networks he had spoken on.

One of the pillars that unites all libertarians is opposition to the state’s monopoly on money production, and the devaluation of the U.S. dollar caused by the Federal Reserve. Both MacBride and Clark refer to the Fed’s monetary expansionism as “legalized counterfeiting,” and Clark provides a short explanation of how inflation benefits incumbent politicians and hurts workers. MacBride gives no further elaboration on a solution, and Clark calls for a return to “sound money,” but neither explicitly call for ending the Federal Reserve System.

Ron Paul does not mince words in his condemnation of the central bank. He promised to “protect the value of your money by restoring the gold standard and abolishing the Federal Reserve.” Whereas Harry Browne declines to mention monetary policy and sticks strictly to fiscal policy.

Something all four candidates do mention is the War on Drugs, although not necessarily in the same language. Roger MacBride takes a firm, but general stand against all victimless crime:

If there is no victim there can be no crime. This business of passing a law to prevent people from doing something simply because we think it’s morally wrong is nonsense. How we conduct ourselves is a moral question that can be answered by our own conscience.

Ed Clark likewise makes a broader, but more detailed statement about crime, and how it’s ill-handled by the police. He argues that drugs ought to be decriminalized, because “narcotics prohibition actually creates crime, just as alcohol prohibition created the gangster problem.” Both he and MacBride further argue that police should be made to focus on violent crimes “like rape, robbery and murder” (MacBride) instead of “wasting time and money on vice squads, drug busts and political spying” (Clark).

Ron Paul’s brochure, like Clark’s, uses the Prohibition era as a parallel, writing “In the 1920s, the unbelievable violation of our liberties called Prohibition strengthened public and private criminals at the people’s expense. The same is true of the War on Drugs.” This is included in a longer list of civil liberties violations, in which Paul mentions the invasion of the doctor-patient relationship, parental rights over children, and the state spying apparatus.

Like other issues, Harry Browne compares the Republican and Democratic Party’s insistence on “more federal powers, more police, more prosecutions, more prisons.” Whereas Browne would end the “insane” War on Drugs immediately:

This will take away the obscene criminal profits of drug pushers, break up street gangs, and make our cities safe again. Pardon non-violent drug offenders to make room in prisons for rapists and murderers who terrorize our citizens.

It is no secret that there are aspects of the liberty philosophy that are more difficult to pitch to non-libertarians than others. For instance, it is obligatory for a libertarian to believe in the right of association, that a person and property owner can associate or discriminate for any reason. Many libertarians prefer to ignore this philosophical cornerstone in ‘polite company,’ or other issues like state-mandated racial quotas and affirmative action. The closest any brochure comes to acknowledging this is MacBride’s, which obliquely references liberals “forcing an unending stream of ‘social engineering’ programs on us.” In all others, it is left unsaid.

Another dicey topic can be the welfare state, where even most conservative Republicans are happy to continue the social safety net instituted by Lyndon Johnson. Both MacBride and Clark chose to ignore the issue of welfare, while addressing nearly every other government program. In contrast, Ron Paul is very matter of fact, promising to eliminate “$500 billion in corporate welfare, social welfare, and foreign military welfare.” Instead, “churches and other private charities should be freed to care for the needy in a humane, non-governmental manner.”

The subject of welfare is where Harry Browne excels the most. In his brochure, Browne says the government’s “welfare system promotes dependency, irresponsibility, and poverty.” He further acknowledges without fanfare that gutting the federal budget and returning the government to its constitutional parameters “means ending all federal social programs.”

Social Security, the original bedrock of the modern welfare state and one of the third rails of American politics, is addressed specifically. Instead of inane reforms like adjusting the Consumer Price Index, Harry Browne would:

Sell off federal assets and use the proceeds to buy private retirement annuities for senior citizens who are dependent on Social Security—annuities from companies who keep their promises and never change the rules. Browne will end the 15% Social Security tax and leave Americans free to choose their own retirement.

The reason welfare can be a difficult topic for libertarians is because too often market alternatives can come across as unempathetic, or unrealistic, if not phrased right. Browne is able to perfectly encapsulate why abolishing the welfare state is not only financially necessary, but ethically the only possible solution:

You—not some bureaucrat—will decide who’s actually doing some good, who’s helping the needy become self-supporting, who’s earning your charity dollar—and how many charity dollars you’ll give them. So will your co-workers, neighbors, and other members of your community.

Charity, not welfare. Private compassion will succeed where government compulsion has failed.

On the other hand, taxes can be a libertarian’s favorite issue to discuss with the general public, and all the candidates jump at the opportunity. MacBride complains that “feudal serfs in the Middle Ages kept a higher percentage of their income than we Americans do today.” His simple fix is to “persistently seek to lower all taxes” because “they’re far too high—all of them.”

As previously mentioned, the key platform plank of Ed Clark’s campaign was the largest tax cut in American history. His brochure says he’ll explain the details of his tax program later on in the campaign, leaving the reader with the “economic fact of life” that allowing people to keep money they earn and “to save and to spend as they choose” leads to prosperity.

Ron Paul’s position is to not only lower taxes but abolish the income tax altogether. He has certain venom for the IRS collection agency in particular:

10,000 ravening, machine-gun-toting IRS agents oppress the people and eat out their substance. They have the license to confiscate your wealth, seize your bank accounts, and force you to incriminate yourself without due process of law.

Harry Browne shares that stance, and sought to it home in how uncompromising it was:

What will Harry Browne ‘replace’ the Income Tax with? A flat tax? No. A sales tax? No. A Value Added Tax? No. He’ll replace it with nothing.

Once again, Browne takes the time to explain the implications of this policy in a way to emotionally connect with voters and make them feel more comfortable about such a dramatic shift in government revenue:

Look at last year’s 1040 tax form. What would you do with the money the government took from you—money you earned—if it were yours to spend? Would you put your children in a private school that offers a better education and teaches your values? Would you put your money into savings or investments or perhaps use it to start that business you’ve always dreamed of? Would you move to a better home? Give more to your favorite charity or cause or church? Leaving all your earnings in your hands lets you make these choices for yourself, your family, and your community.

A7cd877a 0d9a 476a A67d D637debb3a91Lastly, its curious which candidates choose to acknowledge that they’re on a ticket, campaigning alongside a vice presidential nominee. MacBride was gracious enough to give his running mate, lawyer David Bergland, nearly equal biographical space in the brochure; Bergland went on to be the Libertarian Party’s 1984 presidential nominee. Ed Clark includes zero mention of his running mate, New York business executive David Koch, despite the latter providing millions in funding to the campaign. David, along with his brother Charles Koch, became infamous later in life as some of the Republican Party’s wealthiest financiers. Likewise, Ron Paul’s brochure is devoid of his running mate Andre Marrou, who as one of the Libertarian Party’s few elected officials had served a term in the Alaska House of Representatives. Marrou was the party’s 1992 presential nominee, in a campaign marked by scandal and possible criminality. Finally, Harry Browne includes a short, paragraph biography and picture of his running mate, and current Libertarian Party presidential nominee, Jo Jorgensen, bringing everything full circle.

MacBride, Clark, Paul, and Browne possessed few ideological differences between each other. But in their presidential campaigns and voter outreach, they were very different in their choice of strategies. Analyzing their successes—and mistakes—is an important component of forming the best libertarian pitch going into 2021 and beyond.

Cultural Marxism’s Origins: How the Disciples of an Obscure Italian Linguist Subverted America

Cultural Marxism’s Origins: How the Disciples of an Obscure Italian Linguist Subverted America

Cultural Marxism's Origins: How the Disciples of an Obscure Italian Linguist Subverted AmericaYou may have heard the terms “Cultural Marxism,” “Critical Theory” or “Frankfurt School” bandied about. And while you might have an intuitive approximation of what these terms mean for America in the 21st century, there’s a good chance that you don’t know much about the deep theory, where the ideology comes from and what it has planned for America – and the world.

The underlying theory here is a variant of Marxism, pioneered by early-20th-century Italian Marxist politician and linguist Antonio Gramsci. Gramscian Marxism is a radical departure from Classical Marxism. One does not need to endorse the Classical Marxism of Marx, Engels and others to appreciate the significant differences between the two. He is easily the most influential thinker that you have never heard of.

Whereas Classical Marxism located what has been called “the revolutionary subject” (the people who will overthrow capitalism and usher in socialism) within the broad working class, primarily in what is now the First World, Gramscism takes a very different approach. This approach underpins most of the social unrest that is gripping America and the West today. In a sense, we are living through the endgame of a Gramscian revolution.

There are two important diversions that Gramscism has from more traditional Marxist thought: First, that economics was the base of culture and politics. Second, philosophical materialism in the Marxist sense where reality is effectively formed by the means of economic production.

For Gramsci, culture was more important than either economics or politics. This was what needed to be changed for there to be a revolution. As such, the weapon to be used for revolution was not the economic might of an organized working class, but a “long march through the institutions” (a phrase actually coined by German Marxist Rudi Dutschke), whereby every institution in the West would be subverted through penetration and infiltration.

Throughout this article, we will use the term “Cultural Marxism” as a catchall to refer to this phenomenon, because it is the most all-encompassing and does not limit us to discussing any one specific variation (Gramsci, the Frankfurt School or what have you). Finally, we should briefly mention that, the claims of Dr. Jordan Peterson notwithstanding, Cultural Marxism is ideologically distinct from postmodernism and deconstruction, both of which are hostile toward Marxism. We will not touch on either postmodernism or deconstruction in this article, though they certainly have been influential on the international left.

The Origins of Cultural Marxism

Cultural Marxism's Origins: How the Disciples of an Obscure Italian Linguist Subverted AmericaThere is a tiny kernel of Cultural Marxism within Classical Marxism. Namely, that Marx himself was obsessed with the kinds of detailed critiques that later came to characterize Cultural Marxism – for example, The Critique of the Gotha Program, Anti-Dühring (which is actually by Engels), Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, and A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. This is perhaps best exemplified by the famous remark in Theses on Feuerbach that “philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”

Antonio Gramsci, however, seems to be the best place to locate the genesis of Cultural Marxism proper. Gramsci was the son of an Albano-Sardinian low-ranking government official. Without engaging in too much psychoanalyzing, it is probably not a coincidence that the son of a low-ranking civil servant was able to see the power that low-ranking bureaucrats would have if all of them were guided by the proper ideology.

Gramsci attended the University of Turin where he studied linguistics – not philosophy or economics. Health and financial problems led him to leave his studies prematurely, shortly after he joined the Italian Socialist Party. In this period, as well as the period immediately following the Russian Revolution, Gramsci was a fairly standard Communist, though he did occasionally have disagreements with the party line, none of which are relevant to the development of Cultural Marxism. Beginning in 1924, he was the head of the Italian Communist Party. For this, he was arrested by the Fascist government in 1926, and sentenced to 20 years in prison under newly enacted emergency laws. He died in prison on April 27, 1937, at the age of 46, due to a number of untreated health problems.

It was in prison that Gramsci began formulating the core of his theory, which would later form the core of leftist thought throughout the West. In the Prison Notebooks, he broke from Classical Marxism, formulating a new and largely distinct ideology:

  • Cultural hegemony is a more important factor in maintaining capitalism than economic or political hegemony.
  • Cultural and social education of workers must be performed to create a class of worker-intellectuals capable of combating capitalism.
  • Civil society is distinct from political society. The latter rules through domination and coercion, whereas the former rules through normalization and consent.
  • A rejection of materialism (the primacy of the material world) in favor of a semi-mystical view of history, as well as a greater degree of cultural relativism.
  • Further critiques of economic determinism (the notion that economics is the primary driver of human history and civilization) and philosophical materialism (the philosophical claim that the material world is either the only reality or the most important one).

Later theorists, including the famous Frankfurt School, which introduced elements of Freudian psychoanalysis, antipositivism (the notion that human society cannot be studied using the scientific method) and existentialism, a philosophical movement that posits that “being determines consciousness” and sees humanity as necessarily hemmed in by a variety of forces beyond their control.

There has been an attempt to smear the identification of the Frankfurt School and similar currents as Cultural Marxism as an expression of anti-Semitism and (of course) a “conspiracy theory.” While there are certainly anti-Semites who talk about Cultural Marxism, they often do so from the perspective of an obsession with the alleged “Jewish” nature of the intellectual tendency. We reject both the characterization of Cultural Marxism as somehow “Jewish” as well as the notion that its existence is a “conspiracy theory.” Nor do we propose that there is some centralized ideological cabal directing the contemporary left from a Cultural Marxist perspective. It is simply that these ideas have become fashionable among the left over the last 50 or so years.

Whatever one seeks to label the modern ideological underpinnings of the left, it is clear that it has its foundation in the ideas articulated by Gramsci, the Frankfurt School and their intellectual descendents such as Rudi Dutschke and others.

Gramsci’s Children: The Frankfurt School

People often refer to the Frankfurt School as some kind of nebulous ideological current. In fact, it was a discrete group of scholars working together at a specific period of time. While they shared many assumptions and conclusions, they were not entirely homogeneous, mostly in terms of their focus of study.

The Frankfurt School was, in fact, the Institute for Social Research, an adjunct facility of the Goethe University Frankfurt. It was the first fully Marxist research institution at a German university and it was funded through the generosity of well-to-do scion of an Argentine grain merchant, Felix Weil. The Frankfurt School is marked by an interdisciplinary approach. Rather than studying art, culture, politics and philosophy, they studied the interplay between them all from a Marxist perspective.

During the interwar period, the Institute was moved first to Vienna and then to New York City, where they joined Columbia University, to avoid the rise of fascism in Europe.

György Lukács and Reification

The first important figure for our purposes to come out of the Frankfurt School is György Lukács, the son of a wealthy Hungarian investment banker. He is frequently published under the name Georg Lukács. Lukács was no armchair theorist: He was a leading light in the Hungarian Revolution of 1917, as well as one of the leading theoreticians of the Hungarian Red Terror during the Hungarian Soviet Republic. After the fall of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, he had a falling out with the international leadership of Communism. He later went to the Soviet Union, where he was detained and internally exiled. He returned to Hungary in 1945. His relationship with Stalinism is ambiguous and a hotly debated topic among historians, but he was the primary instrument by which the Hungarian Writers’ Union was purged.

His primary contribution to Cultural Marxism is reification, the notion that everything becomes an object under capitalism and that people under capitalism are more like things than human beings. He also said that Marxism would still be valid if it were proved to be false, because it is a methodology of social transformation above all else.

Herbert Marcuse and Repressive Tolerance

Another important figure in the development of Cultural Marxism is Herbert Marcuse. He is often referred to as “the Father of the New Left.” It is potentially worth noting that he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, which was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Like Lukács, Marcuse had direct experience in revolutionary movements in postwar Europe. He was a participant in the Spartacist Uprising in Germany, which was an abortive attempt at forming a Soviet-style government in that country. Curiously, some of his work in the late 1920s and early 1930s was a collaboration with Martin Heidegger, who later became the sort of unofficial philosopher of the Nazi regime in Germany. A number of radicals have cited Marcuse as a major influence, including Angela Davis, Abbie Hoffman and Rudi Dutschke.

Marcuse’s most important contribution as far as we are concerned is the notion of “repressive tolerance.” In his A Critique of Pure Tolerance, Marcuse argues for something that will be familiar to readers of this website: Tolerance should only be applied to left-wing groups and ideas, while right-wing groups and ideas should be mercilessly suppressed. Specifically, he advocated for “withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements that promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or that oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.”

Marcuse is perhaps the most influential of the Frankfurt School thinkers in the United States. Anytime you hear a leftist explain why tolerance actually means intolerance, they’re channeling Marcuse.

Max Horkheimer and Critical Theory

Finally, there is Max Horkheimer. The son of a wealthy Orthodox Jewish family, Horkheimer’s father owned a series of successful textile mills in Stuttgart. He was drafted at the beginning of the First World War, but was rejected on medical grounds and then enrolled in Munich University. By 1926, he was in Frankfurt, and by 1930, he was a professor of philosophy at Frankfurt University. When the Institute for Social Research directorship became vacant, Horkheimer was elected to this position thanks to a mysterious endowment made by an anonymous wealthy businessman.

It was under Horkheimer’s watch that the Frankfurt School’s raison d’être became fusing the ideas of Karl Marx with those of Sigmund Freud. He was the father of Critical Theory, which is less a “theory” than it is a rhetorical technique of viewing everything – except, of course, Critical Theory – through a critical lens and an eye toward discrediting social institutions. Horkheiumer curiously (though perhaps not surprisingly) arrived at Critical Theory while appraising his own role as the scion of a bourgeois family who was ostensibly a proponent of proletarian revolution.

Perhaps the most didactically “Critical Theory” work of Horkheimer is Dialectic of Enlightenment. Among other things, it argues that popular, mass culture is a sort of mechanized and industrialized means by which authoritarian control is maintained over the broad mass of Westerners.

There are other figures in the Frankfurt School, however to catalog each and every one would make for a much longer text. We present the above three as exemplars of the intellectual tendency and a solid basis for understanding it.

The Long March Through the Institutions

Cultural Marxism's Origins: How the Disciples of an Obscure Italian Linguist Subverted AmericaWhile it is often attributed to Gramsci – and in a sense, he is the godfather of the notion – the “long march through the institutions” was, as stated above, a phrase coined by Rudi Dutschke, a German Communist activist. The phrase itself is a nod to the “Long March” of the Chinese Communists.

The long march represents another significant shift in thought away from Classical Marxism. In Classical Marxist thought, the state is seen as an instrument of class oppression, which can be conquered and used by the proletariat as a weapon against the bourgeoisie. Classical Marxists did not seek to occupy the existing state and leverage it for their own purposes. Rather, the Classical Marxists believed it was necessary to destroy the instruments of the bourgeois state and construct a proletarian state in its place.

Some key concepts underlying this theory: First, the state is an instrument of class domination and, as such, is fundamentally based on economics or what Marx called the infrastructure. Everything else – culture, religion, art, politics – was superstructure or something built on top of the class-based, economic structure.

What’s more, “class” is not defined in relative terms, such as how much income one makes or even how much one owns, but rather on the relationship to production. A poor farmer was probably worse off than an urban worker, but was not a proletarian because he owned the means of production, even if these means were meager.

The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was, in every meaningful sense, a Marxist revolution. A parallel state based on participatory workers’ organizations was led by a self-consciously revolutionary party to topple the existing state and erect a new one in its place. Indeed, Lenin acted on clear definitions from Marx about what constituted “the state”: “armed bodies of men,” that is to say, police, courts, prisons and the military. The Bolsheviks did not simply take the existing “armed bodies of men” and use them for their own purposes. Nor did the Communists of Eastern Europe. They destroyed existing institutions and replaced them with their own.

The bottom line of the difference between Classical Marxism and Cultural Marxism is that the latter sees the state as effectively neutral – something that can be taken over and used for its own purposes – while the former does not. Cultural Marxism is interested not in revolution in the classical 19th-century sense of throwing up barricades, toppling the monarchy and setting up guillotines. Its interests lie in cultural transformations, after which other transformations (political and economic) can take place.

The long march through the institutions is in many ways exactly what it sounded like. Proponents of Cultural Marxism were expected to go out there and ingratiate themselves into every aspect of society. Once there, whether this was in bowling leagues or board rooms, they would push their ideology and attempt to transform society. It wasn’t as dramatic or sudden as the revolution espoused by Classical Marxists and their Marxist-Leninist children, but it was considered both more effective and, more to the point, necessary for fundamental transformation of society. Once the cultural institutions had been changed, political and economic transformation could be enacted.

A final note: The change of the “revolutionary subject” is an important topic to consider. Whereas Classical Marxists were quite dogmatic about their belief that it was only the working class who could effect revolution, Cultural Marxists saw the revolutionary subject basically anywhere else, viewing the traditional Western working class as apathetic at best and actively reactionary, bordering on fascistic, at worst. This was not entirely limited to Cultural Marxists – the entire Trotskyist movement split after the Second World War over the question of whether or not the Eastern European states were revolutionary and whether or not peasant guerilla warfare was a path to revolution.

Cultural Marxists, however, saw the revolutionary subject virtually anywhere but the working class. Third world peasants, student radicals, the non-aligned movement, racial and ethnic minorities, homosexuals, the mentally ill and transsexuals – all of these and others have been considered the vanguard of cultural revolution around the world by the Cultural Marxists. The shift of the revolutionary subject from workers to virtually everyone else is effectively an attempt to create a political-coalition-meets-religious-cult centered around notions of victimhood.

The Weaponization of Critique

The primary weapon of the Cultural Marxists is a constant, neverending critique of Western culture and civilization. It’s not a terrible oversimplification to say that the fundamental premise of the “Critical Theory” arm of Cultural Marxism is “when you think about it, isn’t everything kind of problematic?”

Indeed, there is nothing “deep” about this theoretical tack, it is simply a case of “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This rhetorical technique has informed and distorted virtually every aspect of Western culture – moving far beyond academia and infecting the mass culture. Air conditioning is sexist. Lawns are racist and so are single family homes. Not wanting to be intimate with someone who is HIV positive contributes to homophobia and the spread of AIDS. Physical fitness is a fascist impulse and trying to lose weight is a hateful act.

All of these might sound silly and marginal, and in a sense they are. However, it is important to note how dramatically the culture in the West has shifted since the 1950s – and how dramatically it has shifted even in the last ten years, when Barack Obama still opposed gay marriage and no serious person advocated that grown men who “identify as women” should be allowed to share restrooms and locker rooms with pre-pubescent girls. The other important takeaway from this is that the proponents of Cultural Marxism can find a way to tie virtually any topic to some imagined “system of oppression,” then fill in the blanks with the appropriate argument.

In the language of the Cultural Marxists, this is known as analyzing “ruling understandings” or the dominant ideology of a culture. Of course, there is a “dominant ideology” underpinning this method – the notion that every claim or stance requires careful examination from a critical perspective. Every belief held by Western civilization for the last 100, 200, 500, 2,000 years is subject to a critical analysis, the goal of which is to “expose” the belief as nothing more than a weapon designed to subjugate and suppress members of the coalition of victims that Cultural Marxism seeks to assemble in its war against Western civilization.

Far from being a neutral form of analysis, Cultural Marxism starts with the assumption that every aspect of Western civilization is some kind of a conspiracy (conscious or otherwise) to keep a certain group of people in their place. This creates what Victor Davis Hansen has called a “subjective righteousness.” There is no place for individual responsibility for good or for ill. Rather, there is only the analysis of power. Those who are judged to have it, by the priests of Wokeness (effectively a Cultural Marxist framework), can do no right. Those who attack them can do no wrong.

Eternal truths, no matter how self-evident, are not truths at all, but narratives constructed by a ruling elite to perpetuate their own rule. Absolutely nothing is to be spared from the ruthless line of Cultural Marxism and Critical Theory. This leads to an inversion of traditional values, where the values that have served Western civilization for thousands of years are painted as negative features. The male desire to protect women from danger becomes “patriarchy” and “paternalism.” The drive to attain mastery over the self and the environment that almost entirely defines Western culture is repainted as “authoritarian personality.” The normal desire for marriage and children becomes “heteronormativity,” just one option among many and a bad one at that. An appreciation for the philosophical and cultural achievements of Western civilization is “white supremacy,” an arbitrary system with no goal other than to keep other races down.

There is also this process identified by a semi-famous KGB agent, Yuri Bezmenov:

  • Demoralization: This is whereby people are made to lose faith in their own culture and their institutions. Society is made to be something that isn’t worth fighting for.
  • Destabilization: During this phase, the culture and society itself are made unstable. A situation is created whereby “anything can happen” and people simply cannot rely upon things to be the same from one day to the next.
  • Crisis: The manufacturing of a large crisis about which “something must be done.”
  • Normalization: The “new normal.” The new way of doing things is normalized through constant propaganda that this is “just how the world is now.”

All of these ideas are likely familiar to you. That is because, when considered objectively, Cultural Marxism has been a resounding success in the Western world.

Is Cultural Marxism a Real Threat?

Cultural Marxism's Origins: How the Disciples of an Obscure Italian Linguist Subverted AmericaOne of the common responses among the left, particularly those on the center-left, is that Cultural Marxism isn’t a real thing or, at the very least, that it has failed to influence culture in any meaningful sense. It’s important to point out that it isn’t necessary to prove the existence of Cultural Marxist foot soldiers self-consciously infiltrating our institutions to show that Cultural Marxism has influenced American culture and Western culture more broadly. It is simply necessary to look at what their aims are and to see if those aims have been met.

The radical transformation of society over the last 60 years and the acceleration of this transformation can be attributed to a number of factors, including Cultural Marxism, neoliberalism, the destruction of civil society and the welfare state. It’s worth pointing out the degree to which Cultural Marxism has influenced public discourse in the country and, indeed, the broader West. In Western Europe, for example, Cultural Marxist dialogue is much more explicit and overt than it is in the United States.

To see the influence of Cultural Marxism, one need look no further than any left online publication. But it’s worth identifying the importance of Cultural Marxism in Western universities. The ideas of Cultural Marxism are hardly the purview of economic, political and cultural elites. Indeed, they are pushed on just about any college student from the community college level all the way up to the Ivy League. What’s more, there is a strand of Cultural Marxism called critical pedagogy that is all about introducing these concepts to younger and younger children.

Cultural Marxism can be seen in the rise of grievance studies, those areas of “study” which are little more than political parties within the university. This includes ersatz academic disciplines such as women’s studies, African-American studies, “queer studies,” and even whiteness studies – the last of which, unlike the studies that precede it, is about pillorying and villainizing whites rather than a sort of narcissistic view at their own history. The degrees granted by these disciplines are, of course, totally useless, leading to a mass of young people who are woefully unprepared to enter the job market while simultaneously saddled with massive amounts of debt. Such people are naturally easy pickings for leftist movements seeking to destroy society.

The presence of Cultural Marxism in elementary education is a clear-cut example of the long march through the institutions largely being a successful enterprise. The indoctrination of college students produced generations of college graduates who went on to share these ideas with younger and younger children. Nowhere more than in public education has the long march through the institutions been more successful.

Séxual education for very young children is one particularly lurid example of Cultural Marxism. Indeed, teaching children about séx has been a significant issue for doctrinaire Cultural Marxists. But as disturbing as this drive is, it is part of a broader trend of trying to indoctrinate children in the fundamentals of Cultural Marxism and its methodology of “critiquing” Western civilization.

This process of indoctrinating children has accelerated since the beginning of the riots of summer 2020. The National Education Association, one of the most powerful teachers unions in the United States, has a handy page for teachers to get their “education justice” resources from. The NEA website approvingly links to a website that proudly declares itself globalist, “queer affirming,” “trans affirming” and “committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.”

Much of this starts from the supposition that everyone, white children in particular, have “unconscious biases,” effectively a form of racial hypnotism whereby people are “racist” without knowing it. Indeed, even the definition of “racism” has been shifted from what is a common sense definition shared by most people to an esoteric one whereby all whites – including babies – are “racist.” This is the philosophical basis of “white guilt” and “white privilege” theory.

Alongside the smearing of all whites as racist, there are attacks on the nuclear family, heterosexuality and biological séx as socially constructed for the purpose of social control and suppression. This might sound like something that will only be taught in schools in California, however, it is important to note that because of the lucrative California textbook market – to say nothing of the far-left nature of the teachers’ unions in the United States – that what children in California are being taught today, children in Kansas will be taught tomorrow.

The education system is largely where the rubber meets the road in terms of Cultural Marxism moving from an esoteric academic ideology into something that influences the broader culture. It is not a mistake that a number of educators have been found among the ranks of the rioters. Nor is it a mistake that the rioters are disproportionately young and educated. They have been primed for this by 12 years of public education and another four at the university level – teaching them that Western civilization is an evil construct designed by white heterosexual men for the purpose of enslaving everyone else.

Further, there is Cultural Marxism in the mass media. After all, when one combines Gramsci’s analysis of the importance of culture and Horkheimer’s claims about the controlling nature of the mass media with the long march through the institutions strategy, it makes sense that Cultural Marxists, conscious or otherwise, would seek to infect mass culture with an eye toward subverting traditional Western ideas and replacing them with Cultural Marxist dogma. Much of the conservative revulsion against the values and ideology pushed by Hollywood is in fact a bristling at Cultural Marxist propaganda. Detailing each and every example of this would take an entire book, but we’re sure that you can think of some “favorite” examples of your own off the top of your head.

When this is understood, it’s easy to become discouraged and defeated with regard to the future of the West. There are literally multiple generations of Westerners who have been so thoroughly indoctrinated in the basics of Cultural Marxism through the education system, that they have the same relationship to this world view as a fish within water. There are no easy answers with regard to how to begin reversing the course and, thanks to the pervasive influence of Cultural Marxism in our education system, they have largely accomplished their aims of a “long march through the institutions.” Virtually every aspect of society – except for police and their unions – has become dominated by Cultural Marxists, witting or otherwise.

While we can’t propose any sweeping solutions here, it is worth noting that the first step toward combating this ideological and cultural menace is being able to identify it, understand it and, above all, call it out whenever it is seen in action. Much like the long march through the institutions, this might not be a sexy “one-and-done” type of solution, but it might well be the only weapon that we have against them.

An important part of combating Cultural Marxism is simply studying social history and the history of ideas. To take an example of low-hanging fruit, America, the West and white people did not invent slavery, however they did more to eradicate it from the face of the earth than anyone else. Mental gymnastics are often required to argue against even the most basic refutations of Cultural Marxism and such mental gymnastics often expose the proponents of Cultural Marxism as uneducated, unprincipled or just plain wrong.

Finally, reject political guilt. Those who push guilt do so in bad faith as a form of weaponizing the Western sense of fair play. If the West is responsible for slavery and genocide – which, in limited cases it is, but it is by no means unique in this regard – it is also responsible for vaccines, sanitation and the massive decline in child mortality rates. You are not individually responsible for either the great moral crimes of Western history, nor its great technological successes. The correct answer is a nuanced picture that takes the good with the bad and sees Western civilization as a constant work in progress, rather than a static conspiracy designed to rob everyone but “old, rich, white men” of their due.

Cultural Marxism’s Origins: How the Disciples of an Obscure Italian Linguist Subverted America originally appeared in The Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

 

Denver’s Replacement of Cops With Mental Health Workers Has a 100% Success Rate

Denver’s Replacement of Cops With Mental Health Workers Has a 100% Success Rate

As The Free Thought Project has previously reported, the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, an organization dedicated to eliminating the barriers faced by those with severe mental illnesses, released a jaw-dropping report in regard to police interactions with the mentally ill. In their report titled, Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encountersresearchers discovered that people with an untreated mental illness are16 times more likely to be killed during an interaction with police than anyone else.

According to the study, by all accounts—official and unofficial—a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness.

Where official government data regarding police shootings and mental illness have been analyzed – in one U.S. city and several other Western countries – the findings indicate that mental health disorders are a factor in as many as 1 in 2 fatal law enforcement encounters.

This startling number highlights a critical problem with police and how they handle incidents with the mentally ill and it explains why so many people who simply need help, receive bullets instead.

“If this were any other medical condition, people would be up in arms,” John Snook, the report’s co-author and executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center said.

One would assume that since these numbers are so great, police have taken action and are training their officers to interact with the mentally ill. However, one would be wrong. Even cops who voluntarily attend Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), have shown that they are quick to the trigger when dealing with the mentally ill.

As The Free Thought Project has pointed out in the past, the overwhelming majority of time spent by police during training is devoted to shooting their weapons. Very little time is set aside for training in de-escalation tactics, and most departments receive zero training in dealing with the mentally ill.

The list of unarmed and often completely innocent mentally ill people killed by police is immense. TFTP archives are full of tragic stories in which police were called to help someone in a crisis and end up murdering them. People are killed even when they aren’t in a crisis and simply act differently like Elijah McClain, who was on his way home from buying groceries and was murdered by police because he was an introvert and wore a ski mask.

Instead of attempting to save the sinking ship that is cops responding to mental health crises, some municipalities are thinking outside of the box. Denver, Colorado is one such place. After the George Floyd protests sparked the debate the problem of police killing the mentally ill was pushed to the forefront of the conversation and many municipalities like Denver asked the question, should trained gunman, whose only tool is violent escalation, be the first line of response to those in a mental health crisis?

The obvious answer to that question is no. The over whelming majority of calls involving mentally ill people do not involve crimes, so why on Earth would we send in armed state agents to address them?

On June 1, Denver began the Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program, which sends a mental health professional and a paramedic to some 911 calls instead of cops. According to their latest data, STAR has responded to nearly 400 calls to 911 in which police would have normally been sent out. The STAR team — armed only with experience and compassion — has never once called police to back them up.

They have settled every single call without killing someone, beating them, ruining their lives, or using violence. Imagine that.

“We’re really trying to create true alternatives to us using police and jails,” said Vinnie Cervantes with Denver Alliance for Street Health Response, one of the organizations that helped start the program.

“It really kind of proves that we’ve been working for the right thing, and that these ideas are getting the recognition they should,” Cervantes said.

This situation is a win win as it also frees up police time so they can focus on actual crimes like rape, theft, and violence.

“It’s the future of law enforcement, taking a public health view on public safety,” Denver police Chief Paul Pazen said. “We want to meet people where they are and address those needs and address those needs outside of the criminal justice system.”

Carleigh Sailon from the Mental Health Center of Denver—who has responded to many of these calls, spoke to lx.com last week to explain the program’s success.

Those who have called for help or to report someone slumped against a fence, camped out on private property, or simply talking to themselves, are impressed when the STAR team shows up and resolves the problem without tasering, choking, or shooting anyone.

“We’ve gotten great feedback from the community, from individuals who’ve said that this felt really comfortable, really supportive, that we were able to show up and offer other solutions that were really helpful in that moment,” Sailon told lx.com. “People have been just overwhelmingly positive and very accepting of the options that we have to offer. And kind of surprised, I think, too, that a social worker and a medic kind of hop out of this van in street clothes and are there to help vs. police or an ambulance.”

When we hear catch phrases like “defund the police,” this is what it’s about. The apologist crowd says things like, “let me know how it turns out when you send a social worker to deal with a violent criminal” in an attempt to discredit this movement but as more cities like Denver continue to show a 100% non-violent success record, that crowd looks sillier and sillier.

The idea of a state function shifting its focus from violence to compassion is revolutionary on many fronts. While a 100% success record nationwide is unlikely, it is obvious that this is the direction in which we need to head.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor-at-Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on TwitterSteemit, and now on Minds. This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Gretchen Whitmer Is Both a Victim and Perpetrator of Terror

Gretchen Whitmer Is Both a Victim and Perpetrator of Terror

#StopTrumpsTerror is one of the hottest trending topics on Twitter, with more than 90,000 tweets. Yesterday, the FBI announced the arrest of six people yesterday in a plot (perhaps government-hatched) to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and put her on trial for treason for destroying the state’s economy with the lockdowns she imposed. Seven other individuals were arrested and charged with violating Michigan’s anti-terrorism law.

Trump had no connection to the plot, and at least one of the alleged plotters denounced Trump as a “tyrant” and “the enemy.” But Trump’s condemnations of lockdowns was enough for Gov. Whitmer to denounce Trump yesterday as “complicit” with the plotters. She derided Trump for spending “the past 7 months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” Former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC that Donald Trump should be investigated for “aiding and abetting” the Michigan plot.

Whitmer, one of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s favorite governors, enraged many Michiganders by locking down the state after the outbreak of COVID-19. Whitmer placed almost the entire state under house arrest, dictating a $1,000 fine for anyone who left their home to visit family or friends. Business owners faced up to three years in prison for refusing to close their operations. Whitmer severely restricted what stores could sell and prohibited purchasing seeds for spring planting after she decreed that a “nonessential” activity. (Purchasing state lottery tickets was still an “essential” activity.) Though Covid infections were concentrated in the Detroit metropolitan area, Whitmer shut down the entire state—including northern counties with few cases, boosting unemployment to 24 percent statewide. In a tweet yesterday, Trump said Whitmer “has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities.”

Whitmer’s actions infuriated many Michiganders and no informants were necessary to spur much of the anti-government rhetoric recited in the federal indictment yesterday. Plenty of hotheads say things online or in allegedly encrypted messages that look menacing or idiotic in cold print afterwards. Threatening violence against government officials—or anyone else—is reprehensible. But how far did those guys move to actually carrying out their plot? Last month, some of the conspirators “drove to the area surrounding the [Whitmer vacation] residence and discussed detonating explosives to divert police—even checking the underside of a bridge for spots to place a charge,” as the Washington Post summarized the indictment.

The FBI admits that it paid one informant $8,600, and there may be other payments that are revealed in the coming days or weeks. FBI agents have been taught that subjects of FBI investigations “have forfeited their right to the truth,” which helps explain the vast increase in federal entrapment operations in recent decades. Trevor Aaronson, author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, estimated that only about 1% of the 500 people charged with international terrorism offenses in the decade after 9/11 were bona fide threats. Thirty times as many were induced by the FBI to behave in ways that prompted their arrest. The bureau’s informant program extends far beyond Muslims. It bankrolled an extremist right-wing New Jersey blogger and radio host for five years before his 2009 arrest for threatening federal judges. A long-term FBI informant organized the Ku Klux Klan rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in July 2017.

The alleged Michigan plot is almost too idiotic to believe. The alleged conspirators purportedly planned to kidnap Gov. Whitmer and take her to Wisconsin for a private trial. This is on par with the 2006 FBI-fabricated terror plot of the Liberty City Seven, where an informant swayed a bunch of dimwits to babble about blowing up government buildings. That group was so knuckle-headed that they asked the informant for military uniforms and wanted to conduct a parade.

The Michigan conspirators are receiving vastly more coverage than a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision, which effectively labeled Whitmer a lawless dictator who had extended a “state of emergency” far beyond what an unconstitutional state law allowed. Instead of obeying the ruling of the highest state court, Whitmer responded by having the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issue “new COVID-19 emergency orders that are nearly identical to her invalidated emergency orders,” as the Mackinac Center noted.

Four months earlier, the Michigan Court of Claims condemned Whitmer for contorting a Michigan workplace safety law to unjustifiably inflict additional penalties on businesses and individuals who failed to submit to her pandemic commands.

But, according to the media, locking down Michigan isn’t tyranny—it is public service.

Anyone who protests or heartily condemns lockdowns will also be presumed collectively guilty with the Michigan plotters. The same media moral framework will likely be used to exonerate new lockdowns that may be imposed in the name of curbing COVID-19. Earlier this week, many pundits denounced Trump as a would-be Mussolini for his statement on the White House balcony after he returned from Walter Reed Hospital. Commentators were horrified that Trump, who was standing outside not close to anyone, removed his facemask.

If Biden is elected president and fulfills his promise to impose a national facemask mandate or dictates a national shutdown of the economy, such actions will be portrayed as benevolence at its best, rather than the most foolhardy federal interventions since the 55 mile per hour speed limit.

Will the Michigan plot be touted by the media to valorize every government official who placed any American under house arrest in response to the pandemic? It is possible to heartily condemn both nitwit conspirators and oppressive politicians. Unfortunately, the media will likely pay far more attention to the bluster of boneheads than to actual devastation produced by unjustified shutdowns.

This article was originally featured at the American Institute for Economic Research and is republished with permission.

Why the NRA Should Seek Refuge Outside New York

Why the NRA Should Seek Refuge Outside New York

The state of New York has wasted no time reminding Americans about its pathological disregard for personal freedom.

Its COVID-19 lockdown policies were among the most heavy-handed responses implemented by a state government in the country. Controversies surrounding the state government’s decision to place recovering COVID patients in retirement homes, arguably a major factor behind the state’s deadly retirement home outbreak, were major black eyes for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration. The Empire State’s overreach hasn’t been confined to COVID-19, though.

New York policymakers are taking crisis opportunism to another level by attempting to dissolve the National Rifle Association. Led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the state of New York moved forward with a lawsuit last month in an attempt to gut the organization during a time when the NRA is mired in financial scandals. The New York suit alleges that the NRA has been involved in extensive cases of misallocation of funds and corruption, therefore requiring the state to dissolve America’s oldest and most powerful gun lobby.

How Bureaucrats Target Their Ideological Enemies

While state governments have the power to investigate organizations for potentially defrauding donors, the case the state of New York is pursuing against the NRA reeks of political grandstanding. The NRA is an easy target for the Left, which is ecstatic about any opportunity to demonize gun owners and institutions that encourage lawful use of firearms. In the case of New York Attorney General James, her record of antigun crusading speaks for itself. While in her previous position as a public advocate for New York City, James attempted to force banks to break their ties with firearms manufacturers after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. James is a politician with an ax to grind, and the current COVID-19 lockdown hysteria gives her an opportunity to poke a “deplorable” group in the eye.

The NRA is no steadfast paladin of gun freedom, at least when compared to hard-line rivals or the many grassroots organizations that don’t rely on big donor money to stay afloat. Be that as it may, its recent confrontation with New York’s state government should concern any organization advocating for even stronger firearm-related freedoms.

Previously, I wrote about the increasingly politicized nature of the political speech and activities that nonprofit organizations participate in. Historically, politicians have used the levers of tax power to harass political organizations that rub them the wrong way. It wasn’t too long ago that the Obama administration’s IRS made went after Tea Party organizations and excessively scrutinized their internal operations. While the IRS issued an apology for its behavior during the Obama years, the threat of government sticking its nose in the affairs of political organizations is still present at all levels. For now, activist state governments will be more than happy to make people’s lives miserable.

Gun owners face threats from all corners—from state and nonstate actors. To mitigate these threats, it would be wise for Second Amendment organizations to go where free speech and political organization are treated best. As riots across have vividly demonstrated, we cannot assume all jurisdictions will uphold their side of the proverbial “social contract” and protect basic liberties. Mises Institute President Jeff Deist candidly observed, “Selective prosecution and selective nonprosecution are terrifying features of the crappy U.S. justice system. Any of us could have our lives ruined tomorrow by a political DA.”

Politicians are picking up on the divergent political paths states are taking. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem made a name for herself by refusing to enact a statewide lockdown. Similarly, Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge came to the NRA’s defense by penning a piece for NBC News condemning her New York counterpart and demonstrating how her state offers more favorable conditions for gun owners and advocacy for the concept. After all, Arkansas is a constitutional carry state and is not going to go out of its way to persecute political organizations for wrongthink by using the excuses of campaign finance violations or trumped-up charges of misuse of funds.

The NRA’s current dilemma is emblematic of our political era—mass polarization and a widening gulf between the values of states dominated by major urban centers and those with more rural constituencies. Let’s face it: New York hasn’t been a gun-friendly jurisdiction in recent decades. From New York City’s assault weapons ban during the early 1990s to the passage of the SAFE Act in 2013, which established universal background checks and broadened the definition of so-called assault weapons, the State of New York has demonstrated a clear antipathy toward gun ownership. It is no surprise that it’s ranked dead last according to Guns and Ammo magazine’s annual rankings for gun friendliness.

The Benefits of Decentralization

America’s federalism still provides a fallback option for Americans living in states that are hostile to economic and cultural interests. If states become overzealous in their policymaking, people can vote with their feet by moving to states that are friendlier to personal and economic freedoms. We are already witnessing this trend in action, as 6 million Americans have already left states like California in the past decade for more business-friendly and affordable places such as Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. So, the movement of people is not just a hypothetical scenario in today’s climate of polarization.

President Donald Trump sagaciously suggested the NRA move its headquarters to Texas, a state known for its gun culture and policies that are receptive toward lawful gun ownership. From 2020 and beyond, many gun owners will have to grapple with the grim reality that certain jurisdictions will not be amicable toward wedge issues that span the spectrum from abortion to gun ownership. A number of gun owners have already gotten the memo and have begun to explore unorthodox ways of getting around the existential threat of gun control in their respective localities. Some have launched the notorious Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions movement. Although there are legitimate critiques about the efficacy of said sanctuary movements, gun owners are at least getting into the right mindset of using local action to effect change as opposed to waiting for the Executive Branch or the Supreme Court to save them. Moreover, some have rocked the boat even further by suggesting state lines be redrawn. For example, West Virginia invited rural counties of Virginia to join the state, while disgruntled residents of Oregon and Northern California are attempting to break away from their respective states to become part of a Greater Idaho that better represents their values.

More states should make it a point to differentiate themselves from progressive bastions. Americans can see for themselves that there are other jurisdictions in the country that treat certain freedoms better than others. The potential loss of a significant portion of their tax base could be enough for blue states to start to reconsider their divisive policies. The question is, Are they ready to see the error of their ways?

We will have to see.

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

TGIF: Is Socialism Good in Theory?

TGIF: Is Socialism Good in Theory?

This is an expanded version of something I wrote for The Freeman, October 2003, during my tenure as the editor.

Socialism has been mortally discredited on economic grounds, thanks to Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and history. But for many people it has not been discredited on moral grounds. You can tell this by how often people say that while socialism doesn’t work in practice, it is good, even beautiful, in theory. (Even Thomas Sowell has said that.)

Strange notion—that a theory which doesn’t work in the world can somehow still be good. Where else is it to be judged? William Graham Sumner, I believe, pointed out the contradiction: there must be a good theory that explains the system that does work in practice, but that theory would conflict with the other theory also held to be good. So we end up with two good but conflicting theories. Something is wrong.

Moreover, one would think that a theory whose consistent realization requires gulags, secret police, and terror would be morally disqualified even if by some weird standard it “worked.” (Notice that Mussolini gets no break for having the trains run on time–as well he shouldn’t.)

I guess the people who say socialism is good in theory really mean they regret that it doesn’t work without the attendant unpleasantness. Why should that be regrettable? The typical answer is that in socialist theory people are not acquisitive or self-regarding; they are more concerned about others. (Right.) The regret about socialism turns out to be a regret about human nature.

Leaving aside the facts that the taint on self-interest is assumed not established and that one prospers in free markets by competitively and imaginatively attending to others, is statement regarding socialism socialism and self-interest valid? Originally socialism promised a superabundance of goods—so much of everything that no one would have to do without anything. That would make sharing unnecessary because scarcity would be abolished. Wasn’t that an appeal to acquisitiveness, even gluttony? To be sure, socialism’s miserable record in providing for consumers compelled its advocates to discover the “age of limits,” but that was only to make a virtue of necessity.

Socialism of course did promise to reconstruct humanity, but the message was always mixed. It promised to subordinate individuals to the service of society while also liberating them to be fully themselves—free of the necessity to make a living. Leon Trotsky wrote that “Communist man … will become immeasurably stronger, wiser and subtler; his body will become more harmonized, his movements more rhythmic, his voice more musical. The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx.”

But the nice Bolshevik also said, “In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”

Was the new Socialist Man to be a self-centered achiever or a group-centered worker bee? It was never clear how both could be accomplished.

Maybe all that people mean when they lament socialism’s impracticality is that the theory held out hope for an end to material inequality. As intellectual historian Ralph Raico reminded us, it didn’t exactly do that. Marx promised only “to each according to his need.” He never said we all have the same needs. Besides, it is markets not socialism that have achieved essential material equality. As George Mason University Professor Donald Boudreaux has written:

Do a mental experiment. Imagine resurrecting an ancestor from the year 1700 and showing him a typical day in the life of Bill Gates. The opulence would obviously astonish your ancestor, but a good guess is that the features of Gates’s life that would make the deepest impression are that he and his family never worry about starving to death; that they bathe daily; that they have several changes of clean clothes; that they have clean and healthy teeth; that diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, tetanus, and pertussis present no substantial risks; that Melinda Gates’s chances of dying during childbirth are about one-sixtieth what they would have been in 1700; that each child born to the Gateses is about 40 times more likely than a pre-industrial child to survive infancy; that the Gateses have a household refrigerator and freezer (not to mention microwave oven, dishwasher, and radios and televisions); that the Gateses’s work week is only five days and that the family takes several weeks of vacation each year; that each of the Gates children will receive more than a decade of formal schooling; that the Gateses routinely travel through the air to distant lands in a matter of hours; that they effortlessly converse with people miles or oceans away; that they frequently enjoy the world’s greatest actors’ and actresses’ stunning performances; that the Gateses can, whenever and wherever they please, listen to a Beethoven piano sonata, a Puccini opera, or a Frank Sinatra ballad.

In short, what would likely most impress a visitor from the past about Bill Gates’s life are precisely those modern advantages that are not unique to Bill Gates–advantages now enjoyed by nearly all Americans.

And while we modern Americans focus on how much more money Bill Gates has than the rest of us, our time-traveler would likely find the differences separating Gates from average Americans to be much smaller than the gargantuan differences between his own preindustrial life and that of today’s ordinary Americans.

He would also likely find the wealth differences between ordinary Americans and the richest Americans trivial compared to the differences between most preindustrial folk and the royalty who ruled them.

Moreover, as Michael Cox and Richard Alm have shown, the number of hours it takes the average worker to earn enough to buy virtually anything has shrunk dramatically over the decades. (Using work time as the standard avoids the problem of comparing prices in the light of inflation.) This progress is even more dramatic than it seems when you consider how much better goods are today.  And let’s not forget all the things that average earners own that did not exist in, say in the 1970s, the passing of which many state socialism oddly seem to lament.

As Cox wrote in an update to his and Alm’s 1999 work:

At the average wage, a VCR fell from 365 hours in 1972 to a mere two hours today. A cellphone dropped from 456 hours in 1984 to four hours. A personal computer, jazzed up with thousands of times the computing power of the 1984 I.B.M., declined from 435 hours to 25 hours. Even cars are taking a smaller toll on our bank accounts: in the past decade, the work‐​time price of a mid‐​size Ford sedan declined by 6 percent.

Simply put, we get more and better services from our products for less and less toil–in other words, we get lots of stuff for free. The great liberal Frédéric Bastiat explained this in the first half of the 19th century in his magnum opus, Economic Harmonies, especially chapter 11, “Private Property and Common Wealth.” (I discuss this in my book What Social Animals Owe to Each Other, chapter 18.) 

The ugliness of socialist theory now comes into focus. Under individualist and free-market theory (and practice) each person is free to determine his own needs and, through the division of labor and voluntary exchange, to produce what’s required to satisfy them. (As the Spanish proverb has it, “Take what you want and pay for it.”) Under socialist theory the individual’s needs are determined and “satisfied” collectively, i.e., coercively. Dissent and venturing out on one’s own are not options. As Trotsky chillingly acknowledged, everyone is an employee and tenant of the collective—that is, the state.

It’s a mystery why anyone would find that theory beautiful or regret that it doesn’t work.

TGIF–The Goal Is Freedom–appears occasionally on Fridays.

Where the Fourth Wave Went Wrong

Where the Fourth Wave Went Wrong

The recent deaths of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and pop singer Helen Reddy provide an opportunity to take stock of the fourth-wave of the feminist movement, and how dramatically it has changed since the intial achievements of the second-wave (circa 1960-1990)

Ginsburg’s first major court case as an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney was Reed v. Reed (1971), in which the ACLU argued that Idaho’s legalized preference for male administrators of estates violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, on the basis of sex. When the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote a unanimous 7-0 opinion striking down Idaho’s law. The Reed decision began the movement towards gender-neutral law and almost overnight required the rewording of hundreds of state and federal statutes.

Although the U.S. Constitution doesn’t include an equal rights amendment, the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment currently functions as a robust substitute. Almost all gender-based legal classifications are viewed as inherently suspect by courts today, subject to strict judicial scrutiny. The movement toward gender-blind law began with Reed v. Reed and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

While Ginsburg was advancing feminism legally, Helen Reddy was contributing culturally. Reddy’s breakout musical recording came in 1972 with her signature song “I Am Woman” which reached number one on the Billboard music charts in December of that year. The song’s opening lyrics “I am woman, hear me roar …” and its closing lyrics “I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman …” are a paean to female empowerment. And when she accepted the Grammy Award for for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance of 1972, Reddy notably thanked God “because She makes everything possible.” Reddy’s song enshrined the narrative that women are strong, independent beings who shouldn’t aspire to be clinging vines, their lives revolving around the men in their life.

Consequently, two pillars of second-wave feminism were that 1) gender-neutral law should replace existing gender-specific “protective” legislation, statutes which ultimately hindered the advancement of women; and 2) the sexual revolution, with its emphasis on reproductive rights (abortion) and female sexual agency, was a positive force for women’s liberation.

The year after the Reed decision in 1972, the civil rights law Title IX was passed in Congress to ensure that, “No person in the United States shall, based on sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Title IX reinforced the concept of gender-neutral law.

And the commercial introduction in 1960 of birth control pills (“the pill”), followed a few years later by women’s increased access to safe and legal abortion, ushered in the sexual revolution and granted women reproductive rights and control over their bodies.

Similarly, the late 1960s witnessed a broad movement across the United States towards coed schools, universities, and workplaces. Women joined police forces, fire departments, and beginning in 1976, the military, naval and air force academies. On college campuses, coed dormitories began replacing male-only dorms and female “virgin vaults,” the latter of which often implemented strict curfews, hours generally not enforced in male dorms. And the abandonment by colleges of in loco parentis, while facially gender-neutral, impacted women even more beneficially than men, acknowledging that females should be granted agency over their personal life decisions. Finally, during second-wave feminism, women began to exercise more autonomy over the selections of their romantic and sexual partners, including their partners’ race, class, gender and religion, choices which before were often overridden by the wishes of their family and parents.

In short, second-wave feminism embraced strong, independent women—females who could perform “men’s jobs” and women who didn’t need men “protecting” them by legally controlling their options over which career paths to pursue, for example, and which men (or women) to date, have sex with and marry. Second-wave feminists told the government to keep your laws off my body and out of my bedroom.

The heroic battles for these gender paradigm shifts were led by second-wave feminists, usually against the opposition of conservative societal forces.

And by any objective measure, today the feminist goals of 1970 have been completely realized. Today, 12.8% of police officers in the U.S. and 8% of firefighters are women, 16% of the U.S. military is female, along with 56% of college students, 53% of U.S. law school students and 50.5% of U.S. medical school students. Even the purported gender wage gap, properly analyzed, is now a relic of the past.

And although the #MeToo movement mourned the deaths of Ginsburg and Reddy, the battles currently being waged by fourth-wave feminists could ultimately reverse many of the hard-fought gains of second-wave feminism.

This is because today’s #MeToo movement has replaced the second-wave feminist view of women as strong, empowered females possessing agency with a depiction of women as the subordinate gender, oppressed victims in an inherently conflictual relationship with the dominant gender (men). For example, the views of law professor Catharine MacKinnon of the University of Michigan and the late feminist scholar Andrea Dworkin, perspectives which can loosely be described as critical gender theory, are now the reigning orthodoxy among contemporary feminists. In 1987, MacKinnon argued that “Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated…To me, part of the culture of sexual inequality that makes women not report rape is that the definition of rape is not based on our sense of our violation…” Later in 1989, Dworkin described male penetration of a female during consensual sexual intercourse as a form of “occupation” and a “violation of female boundaries.”

Consequently, to #MeToo feminists, whenever American women today interact with men, they always “get screwed.” Even during consensual sex. This is a return to the antiquated view of sex as something men do to women, instead of the modern notion of sex as something men do with women. And it’s a corollary to the argument made by many progressives today that workers, no matter how well-paid, are always “screwed” by owners and capitalists.

And if the woman is younger and less powerful than her male sex partner, even her ability to grant consent is now called into question. For example, the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal of the 1990s is now being re-interpreted through an intersectional lens, with Monica Lewinsky now portrayed as the victim of an older, more powerful male, Bill Clinton. This is despite evidence suggesting that it was Lewinsky who pursued a sexual relationship with Clinton, when she was 24, to “get her presidential kneepads.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the #MeToo movement has not yet taken to task Brigitte Trogneux, the wife of current French president Emmanual Macron, who began a romantic relationship with Macron in 1994 when he was 16 and she was 41 and married to another man.

College campuses are where the impact of fourth-wave feminism is most acutely felt. The last quarter century has seen the rise at American universities of a Title IX industrial complex, even though females today are overrepresented at universities. And although Title IX was originally intended to address sex-based discrimination in American education, the issues of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment have become the primary focus of today’s ever-expanding Title IX offices. This inspite of the fact that the overall rape rate in the U.S. has fallen by more than 25% since 1990, while during the same period the definitions of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment were expanded. Evidence also suggests that college women today are underrepresented among rape and sexual assault victims in the overall 18-24 year-old American female population.

Critical gender theory is so pervasive in today’s Title IX offices that even the definitions of rape and sexual assault are now considered subjective enough to be in the eye of the beholder. In their much-overlooked 2017 book The Campus Rape Frenzy, KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr. cogently note that reports of rape and sexual assault are significantly higher at elite universities, which are more likely to teach critical gender theory, than they are at state universities and community colleges. This suggests that female students who are adherents of critical gender theory, which holds that the United States is a sexist, patriarchical society, are more likely to define as rape or sexual assault a male date trying to reach third base or home plate with them. On pp. 48-49 of The Campus Rape Frenzy, Johnson & Taylor note that in 2014, “…one in every 181 female undergraduates at Ivy League universities reported to their university that they had been raped…That’s more than three times the rate—one in 665—at nearby non-elite institutions.” Johnson and Taylor surmise that “[T]he difference in reporting rates is due to the fact that moral panic about sexual assault is most feverish at institutions where identity-politics activism is most prevalent.” This suggests that the subjects of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment have become thoroughly politicized in the U.S. today, with even the terms and definitions of these subjects much less objective than in the past.

Third-wave feminism (circa 1990-2010) ushered in the transition from the second-wave feminist vision of women as strong, independent beings to the current fourth-wave view of women as the subordinate gender, oppressed by a patriarchal, misogynistic American society. Perhaps the first instance of this development was the 1991 Anita Hill testimony during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her when she worked for him during the early 1980s. She first worked for Thomas in 1981 at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and the next year she followed him to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when Thomas became chairman in 1982. In her testimony, Hill claimed that the harassment consisted of Thomas asking her out for dates numerous times and Thomas discussing sexual matters in her presence.

Hill was the first prominent feminist to argue that a boss asking her out socially and/or discussing sex with her at work constituted sexual harassment. Before the late 1980s, sexual harassment was narrowly defined as quid pro quo sexual bribery, with payment rendered in the form of sex instead of money. In this conception of sexual harassment, instead of the most qualified persons being hired, retained, or promoted, a company’s jobs are filled by workers willing to pay their boss under the table through sexual favors. Consequently, in this scenario the boss is defrauding the company and honest workers should report him to his superiors. Like any form of private workplace corruption, if discovered by the company, quid pro quo sexual bribery almost always ends in termination for both the boss and the worker if the bribe was mutually arranged, or the firing of only the boss if s/he offered the bribe arrangement to an unwilling, incorruptible worker. Note that with this narrowly drawn definition of sexual harassment, companies have a built-in incentive to stamp it out since they want to employ the most qualified people. Also, workers shouldn’t feel hesitant about reporting what is essentially internal company fraud. And with this properly defined concept of sexual harassment, there’s no need for heavy government regulation of internal company practices.

But in 1986, in Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court—broadly interpreting Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—added the vague, nebulous concept of “hostile working environment” to the quid pro quo component of sexual harassment. Since almost any statement or action of an overbearing boss or an unfiltered co-worker could constitute a “hostile working environment,” it was only a matter of time before someone like Anita Hill would claim “hostility” or “discomfort” from requests for dates or “unwanted” private discussions of sexual matters in the workplace, which is a daily occurrence at thousands of American companies. Also, many senators questioned the severity of Hill’s harassment claims since she followed Thomas from the Dept. of Education to the EEOC. Hill even stayed in contact with Thomas after she no longer worked for him. The Justice was eventually confirmed by a narrow 52-48 Senate vote.

Anita Hill’s charges were followed in 2002 by Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, a former Fox News producer who received a confidential settlement from Bill O’Reilly who made her feel uncomfortable as a woman for allegedly shouting at her while she worked for him at the O’Reilly Factor. Unlike other women who sued O’Reilly for sexual harassment, Bernstein didn’t allege that O’Reilly made sexual advances toward her. Unfortunately, Bernstein and her lawyers successfully argued that expressions of anger from an overbearing, demanding male boss like O’Reilly constituted “gender” harassment of women.

But the floodgates of the greatly-expanded conception of sexual harassment didn’t open until the advent of the #MeToo movement in October 2017 during feminism’s current fourth-wave (circa 2012-Present). Many powerful men were terminated from their jobs, often without much due process, for having engaged in consensual relationships with female co-workers, sometimes decades earlier. The firing of Matt Lauer, the former NBC News anchor, is a case-in-point. And the women making the allegations often sound like Howard Zinn or Bernie Sanders, with claims that the power asymmetries and power imbalances between themselves and their older male partners invalidated their consent.

Some surveys show that more than a third of Americans have dated someone from work, so it’s imperative that we settle on an objective, narrowly drawn definition of sexual harassment. If not, unmeritorious and frivolous claims of sexual harassment—subjectively defined, such as many made by fourth-wave feminists in the #MeToo era—will necessarily increase government intervention in the daily interactions between employees at millions of American businesses.

A few post #MeToo examples from millennial women further illustrate how many young females today are chafing at the freedom achieved by second-wave feminists like Ginsburg and Reddy as they stretch the concepts of sexual harassment and sexual assault to their breaking points. In this viral YouTube video from 2018, a 21-year-old Georgia waitress was “hailed as a hero” for attacking a male customer at work who pinched her buttocks. Since the entire incident was captured on the restaurant’s video camera, the police were called and the man was arrested. While murders, robberies, and rapes were occurring in other parts of Savannah, Georgia, the local police were arresting a man for making non-verbal advances towards an uninterested female. And in this opinion piece in a September 2019 issue of The Daily Texan—the student newspaper at the University of Texas at Austin—columnist Jennifer Beck argued that “[U]nwanted advances and stares [at females at the school gym] are examples of predatory behavior and should be treated as such.” Beck never explains how a man can discover whether a stare is unwanted or not until he advances, at which point it’s too late. He’s a predator even if he immediately backs off. So much for due process. Another opinion piece in the same student daily from late 2018 argued for a return to a female-only section of the school gym, utilizing many of the same “you gotta keep ‘em separated” arguments made by anti-feminist conservatives in the 1960s against coeducation.

The argument that “unwanted” advances make women “uncomfortable” and therefore requires government intervention into the most private forms of human interaction, including romantic and sexual relationships, is an attack on freedom itself. Freedom includes the freedom to fail and in the context of dating and sex in the post-sexual revolution age, freedom means that many women today will have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding their Prince Charming. Freedom also means that many desirable women and men will have to deal with an abundance of romantic offers and sexual advances from persons they have absolutely no interest in. Second-wave feminists, unlike today’s feminists, understood this. They remember the pre-sexual revolution days of chaperoned dates, with fathers and older brothers choosing which men were suitable for them. Maybe that’s why they fought so hard for agency over their relationships and sex ,and for coed colleges, dorms, and workplaces, realizing that this newfound freedom would often be accompanied by unwanted offers and advances. Freedom always does. It’s unfortunate that today’s fourth-wave feminists are so casually willing to toy with throwing away many of the hard-fought gains of second-wave feminists like Ginsburg and Reddy.

Also, many fourth-wave feminists don’t grasp the irony that if a young college woman today can study to be a police officer or a firefighter, attend one of the nation’s military academies and even fight in combat, then surely she can handle a date trying to get to third base with her without labeling it sexual assault and filing a Title IX complaint. And if she does file a Title IX complaint, certainly she is strong enough to handle cross examination of her accusations, ensuring some due process rights to her alleged assailant. And surely she’s not so delicate that even before her Title IX case concludes, her alleged perpetrator must be kicked out of the dorm she shares with him and be forced to drop any classes they are both enrolled in.

In the final analysis, both women and men today who are interested in long-term gender equality must work for a return to the central goal of second-wave feminists like Ginsburg and Reddy—a world of strong, independent women who favor gender-neutral law and wish for the government and college Title IX offices to keep their laws off their bodies and out of their bedrooms.

Clark Patterson is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Email him at clarkryanpatterson@gmail.com

Home for Christmas: Trump’s New Promise to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Home for Christmas: Trump’s New Promise to U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

On Wednesday, President Trump made a new comment on the pullout of Afghanistan, saying that it is now his intention to have all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas. That’s substantially sooner than previous statements on the matter.

This seems to be a very recent policy change. Just hours before Trump’s comments, the national security adviser said that there would still be 2,500 US troops left in Afghanistan by early 2021. This is roughly in line with previous comments on the matter.

Troop cuts in October and November are intended to get troop levels to around 4,500 in November, a goal that the Trump Administration has pushed for some time. With troop cuts ahead of schedule, even more cuts were possible.

Having the last troops out of Afghanistan by Christmas puts even more pressure on the Afghan government and Taliban to make good on efforts to make a deal, at least on a framework, or risk a new round of violence.

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

News Roundup

News Roundup 11/20/20

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Conflicts of Interest

Pete Quinones on the Mob, the State, and Magic

Pete Quinones joins Conflicts of Interest to discuss the crazy year we are living through. Pete published a documentary, the Monopoly of Violence, earlier this year. Pete breaks down his struggle to get the doc on streaming platforms like Amazon Prime. Pete compares...

Trump Fires Sec Def in Post-Election Pentagon Shake Up

On Conflicts of Interest #32, Kyle covers the recent personnel changes at the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was expected to resign but was first fired by Trump. Other staff leaving their post includes the acting Secretary for policy. The changes are...

Don't Tread on Anyone

Democracy = Mob Rule By the Ignorant

https://youtu.be/CGfc6Ts8LdY It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, aft er all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic...

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