Events

Press Release: Survivors of Israel’s Strike on USS Liberty Commemorate 55th Year

Survivors and of the brutal Israeli military attack against the American communications vessel U.S.S. Liberty will gather at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. on June 8 to commemorate the memories of 34 Americans who were killed and host a 55 year reunion at the Holiday Inn Arlington, Virginia on June 6-9.

While patrolling in international waters in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was savagely attacked without warning or justification by air and naval forces of the State of Israel.

Of a crew of 294 officers and men, including three civilians, 34 crew members were killed in action and 173 were wounded. Survivors of the attack insist that the attack was unjustified and that the Israelis knew the ship was American, but the attack has been covered up and the survivors have been abandoned by the U.S. Military which has sought to brush the tragedy out of history.

Survivor Joe Meadors said the Israeli attack was unprovoked and that the Liberty was clearly identified as an American vessel flying the American flag.

He said the U.S. response was to abandon the American soldiers during the attack and to disparage survivors and their claims rather than stand with them.

“In 1967, LBJ ordered the USS Liberty to be abandoned by Sixth Fleet aircraft while we were still under attack and calling for help. That order cost the lives of 25 of our shipmates,” Meadors said.

“The order to abandon us is being obeyed until this day with a devastating effect on USS Liberty survivors.”

Survivors have demanded a full and open investigation that has been rejected by every commander, president and the Congress.

“The Department of Defense has ignored its obligation under its own Law of War Program. Members of Congress have refused to include facts from USS Liberty survivors in their boilerplate responses,” Meadors said, noting the United States has officially abandoned the American veterans who were killed and the survivors.

“No Member of Congress has ever attended our annual memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery on the anniversary of the attack. We are condemned as ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘bigots’ simply because we have been asking that the attack on the U. S. S. Liberty be treated the same as every other attack on a US Navy ship since the end of WWII. All we have is ourselves. Not Congress. Not the Navy. Not the DoD. Just ourselves. We need a place where we are welcome. We need our reunions.”

Survivor Ron Kukal, Supervisory First Class Communications Technician, said the survivors have always hoped that one day the U.S. would acknowledge the true facts of the attack instead of marginalizing and covering up the attack.

“From day one I have always felt that the LVA holding together might just someday save this whole nation from itself, for your family and mine,” Kukal said.

“After all that is what the Liberty Veterans Association is all about, and that would be the truth.”

Kukal said that the Liberty survivors have been disparaged, insulted and denounced by pro-Israel activists and abandoned by the U.S. Military.

“How is it possible that considering three fourths of the crew had a Top Secret Clearance, we would all gather together after the attack, and suddenly become racist?” Kukal asked.

“Do you know what it took to get that clearance?  Well, one of things you had better not be, was a racist.  Need I say more? They would have known if any of us were, and we would not have gotten that clearance.  I think they knew my grandmother’s address in Prague, before she came here.  Now that is thorough.”

Survivor Moe Shafer said that despite the effort to bury the incident in history by Israel and the Department of Defense and the U.S. Congress, the memory of the attack against the Liberty and its shipmates continues.

The Liberty is about fellowship with each other and honoring our fellow shipmates and most importantly honoring our fallen shipmates,” Shafer said.

“Spending an afternoon together at Arlington National Cemetery for our memorial service.  The greatest honor is to be with those who we have grown to love over the last 55 years!! We urge other Americans to come and join us on June 6 at Arlington National Cemetery and demand that attack be fully investigated and exposed.”

Survivor Phil Tourney said that the patriots who served on the U.S.S. Liberty are demanding just and believe that true patriots will support them in getting the truth out.

“We are depending on the truth facts from patriots like you. Thank you, my young college friend, facts matter. We have been in this fight for our murdered shipmates most of our lives,” Tourney said.

“Survivors have been wounded and scarred forever by the treason from our own government. They wanted us on the bottom for political gain for Israel and the USA, period.”

Tourney said that he is shocked that after serving in the military honorably and with patriotism that he and others have been attacked for seeking the truth of the incident and justice for the survivors.

“Thus, the best held secret in American history by the Congress, turned their cheek at treason then and now.  How deep does it go?” Tourney asked saying the tragedy has placed a heavy burden on all of the survivors and families of those who were killed.

“The public can help set us free and lift a heavy burden. Americans can overcome anything together, no matter if you have served or not. Facts, the truth are sacred. God saved us for this moment.”

The USS Liberty 55th Anniversary Reunion will be at the Holiday Inn Arlington, Virginia June 6 through June 9. No registration fee. Book your room by calling 703-243-9800 ask for the USS Liberty Room Rate. The banquet will be held on June 8, 2022.

U.S. Congressman Pete McCloskey will be honored along with the USS Liberty crew.

For more information on the U.S.S. Liberty visit www.USSLibertyVeterans.org.

For more information Contact:

Joe Meadors at joe@ussliberty.com

Or

Moe Shafer at Moe.shafer@harbingernational.com. Cell 770-363-3986

Keep Up to Date on the Effort of USS Liberty Survivors to Honor Our Fallen Shipmates by Persuading Congress to Investigate the Israeli Attack on Our Ship by Subscribing to our Blog Updates. https://bit.ly/3zU8nDf

So Much For A ‘National Healing’

We were told the nation was in desperate need of “healing” because a large portion of the population wanted Donald Trump to “lead” the country. And if you believe that the “national healing would begin” because the “adults” are in the White House…well, you’re a dupe. The response by the corporate press and their supporters to the first freeze to happen in Texas in decades should put to rest any thoughts that the elites, especially the journalists, desire unity. Mass power outages were experienced throughout Texas and the establishment didn’t even attempt to hide their joy.

The situation many Texans faced over that week couldn’t be because freezes like this are so rare in Texas that the grid is not designed to handle the overload in demand or the freezing of its physical infrastructure. No, that can’t be it. The only reason millions of “bumbling hicks” were forced to endure power outages is because so many of them believe CNN and MSNBC are “fake news” and this belief caused them to vote for Trump. It’s amazing to me that a segment of the population that is so anti-religion adopts such a “wrath of God” or “Karma’s a bitch” stance so often when it comes to their adversaries.

I know many people who live in Texas and have been in constant contact with them. Thankfully they’re fine. But, was I shocked by this incident? As someone who lived through “Snowmageddon” in Atlanta in 2014, the answer to that is…hardly. In that year Atlanta was shut down by two inches of snow. Seriously, look it up. The snow started in the middle of the work day – roughly 11:30 AM EST – at which time school buses were loaded to take kids home and everyone left work. If you are at all familiar with Atlanta traffic, on a normal day we do not need multiple accidents to experience the second worst commute in the United States. It’s just every day congestion. Now, imagine everyone within the city limits and surrounding areas leaving work at the same time. Add in two inches of snow which many people are not used to driving in and it was like a scene from The Walking Dead. People slept in their cars on the freeways and side streets, with many not able to get home for 24 hours. And guess what? The coastal elites went to social media and their news outlets to talk about what a bunch of hicks we were.

Why did Snowmageddon happen? It was a perfect storm of events that all occurred at once. If the storm had occurred at 3 AM, the majority of people would’ve been peacefully sleeping and the number of people trapped in cars would’ve been minimal. Atlanta wasn’t prepared because what happened during Snowmageddon had never before occurred. Apply that “not the norm” occurrence to the freeze in Texas and you have your answer to the state’s recent problems. Atlanta now has snow plows, but more importantly, schools close and businesses are asked to not open if there’s a threat of a midday snow storm. I expect the freeze in Texas will cause the local and state governments there to have similar plans in place so that the power outages, with all the associated impacts, will not occur in the future. Or they’ll devise some scheme that will mitigate how widespread the outages will be.

Even if they don’t construct a plan for the future, the fact that the “enemy class” is using the freeze as an opportunity for ad hominem attacks against Texans should tell you everything you need to know about their so-called plans to “heal the divides.” If anything, I expect the attacks to escalate and hope they do. Popcorn futures are booming!

How Members Of ‘Gun Culture’ View The Ahmaud Arbery Killing

There has been another controversial shooting of an unarmed man. The Ahmaud Arbery case is currently being litigated on social media by the usual suspects who plan on using this to further their “pet” agenda. Whether it be the “law and order” crowd who have their statistics at the ready to copy and paste, or the “race-baiters” who make their living off incidents like this, they are both champing at the bit to make their point. 

At this point, many libertarian/voluntaryists/anarchists may be confused as how to interpret the incident. Some may have already sided with Arbery, and some may be on “Team McMichael.” When you are trying to interpret an incident that happened within a statist framework, it is easy to get your thinking clouded.  

With all of that being said, the libertarian/anarchist/voluntaryist crowd looks to a future where there is no monopoly on force and violence, one where property rights backed by the non-aggression principle are legitimate as opposed to statutory mandates made by elected officials who suffer no consequences for their actions and mistakes; one where customs and cultural norms would be the status quo rather than diktats handed down from above. 

In the case of people grabbing their guns and hunting down someone they suspect of committing a crime, there already exists a subculture in the United States that has unwritten rules when it comes to such incidences which they follow to the letter. This author’s home state of Georgia has one of the largest gun forums on the internet that includes well over 40,000 members. The members overwhelmingly lean conservative and pro-Trump. Some members would call themselves libertarian. There are even a few who fly the democrat banner proudly, yet are adamantly pro-gun rights (yes, weird).  

Before we get into what this author has witnessed as to gun culture’s take on this situation, it is important to point out that the overwhelming majority of these same people took George Zimmerman’s side in the Trayvon Martin case before, during and after. That is good context for what is mentioned going forward. 

‘An Unwritten Rule’ 

“Don’t pull your gun unless you absolutely have to and only to defend life.”  

The “gun culture” in Georgia is strict about this. A man on the forum mentioned above once bragged that he was in downtown Atlanta when a homeless man approached him to beg for change. He crowed that he pulled his gun and waved it at the homeless man causing him to run off. The braggard was subjected to an onslaught of insults. The majority of them mentioned that he was not in fear for his life and that a gun should never be used to intimidate.  

It’s true that just pulling a gun can make a mugger run away. But in the case of serious gun owners we only pull our gun to protect life. If you pull it because of a robbery, you should be justified in pulling the trigger. Choosing to not pull the trigger is fine, your prerogative, but make sure the event justifies deadly force. 

This rule should be important to people who center their thinking and worldview on the non-aggression principle. Threatening and coercing is what the State does. If it’s not appropriate for a State actor, why is it for the individual? 

What Are These People Saying? 

It’s important here to give examples of how most in this subculture are commenting. This first quote is from a former police officer this author has known for years. Mind you, he left the job because he realized he was doing more harm than good. He explains: 

If there is no more to the story then the two should be prosecuted and jailed for life. The guy was clearly not trying to confront them. He runs miles and miles every day and lived nearby. However, one thing gives me pause is that even The NY Times is hedging somewhat. They stated that the man was seen running from inside a home under partial construction, the home owner called 911. BUT even that wouldn’t constitute the use of deadly force in this case. If this was a LEO shoot, he would have been charged.  

Another commenter: 

The kid wasn’t carrying anything. Those two confronted and went looking for a fight. Definitely not justified in my meaningless opinion. Real sad. 

Again: 

Based on that video, the shooters ought not stand in the sunshine anytime soon. But we know what ‘should’ happen and what does happen aren’t always related. 

Encore:  

Maybe he was takin a leak…? I dunno, this d-bag PI wannabe and his kid sound like some straight up cowbois ta me… “citizens arrest”, and armed pursuit lol… I wouldnta stopped either. 

They keep coming: 

I saw zero justification for use of force in that situation regardless of the jogger’s previous actions. This looks to be some straight up redneck justice profiling bull****. One has to wonder if they’d just shot him in the back had he tried to keep running. 

More: 

I don’t give a damn what the circumstance was. Based on the video those scumbags murdered that young man. 

One last comment: 

I prefer to let relevant and current facts determine the circumstance rather than digging up old articles to try and sling mud to make my predilections justified. The fact he was a high school athlete or attended college or what his specific career aspirations were, are irrelevant to the FACT he was unarmed and shot dead by two redneck wanna be cowboys who thought they had an in on the cover up with one of their former bosses the DA. Their plan sucked, now they get to win stupid prizes. Won’t bring him back but he died pretty quickly. They get to sleep with one eye open for a long, long, time… I’m sure they’ll be well received in a south Georgia prison. 

If you happen to be making excuses for the father and son, and the arguments above are being thrown in your direction, you are probably dealing with someone in a subculture with rules that obviously value safety and justice. As a reminder, these aren’t even big “L” Libertarians for the most part, but run of the mill conservatives and constitutionalists. They just have a set of guidelines that they live by and consider those to be more important that what the actual law is, while at the same time, abiding by it. 

Why is this something that libertarians/anarchists/voluntaryists should care about? Those groups seek a society without a central power. Under this structure customs and unwritten rules backed by the non-aggression principle will be the norm. It is beneficial to look at how subcultures, especially ones that are enforcing the NAP without realizing it, now operate. 

It is readily apparent that while many liberty lovers proclaim their support for gun rights, they are ignorant of what the culture is. A lot of people I know don’t own firearms and It is incumbent upon those of us educated on these customs to communicate them properly. They are not vigilantes who if they believe a thief is in our neighborhood will grab their weapons and go on the hunt. No, that is not how it’s done. The idea that you don’t pull your weapon until you absolutely have to exists for the reasons stated above. They are logical, and NAP consistent. People should look at what the McMichaels did, and ask if it would be acceptable to them in a libertarian social order. The ideas behind NAP-based self-defense already exist and are practiced. It would do many who think they know what those in gun culture are all about to spend some time learning from those living it. Your life and freedom in the current society may depend upon it. 

That Didn’t Take Long: U.S. National Debt Exceeds $24 Trillion

The U.S. national debt pushed above $24 trillion on Tuesday.

The U.S. government was already running massive budget deficits long before the coronavirus pandemic and the debt was piling up at a dizzying pace. Response to the outbreak has put spending and debt in hyperdrive.

The Trump administration has added $1 trillion to the national debt in just six months.

It’s easy to just brush off the spending spree. Virtually everybody agrees the stimulus is necessary to deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus. But the Trump administration was stimulating long before this emergency. Uncle Sam was already on pace for a trillion-dollar shortfall long before the pandemic. That’s the kind of budget deficit one would expect to see during a major economic downturn.

The federal government has only run deficits over $1 trillion in four fiscal years, all during the Great Recession. The fifth trillion-dollar deficit was coming down the pike in fiscal 2020, despite what Trump kept calling “the greatest economy in the history of America.”

To put the growth of the national debt into perspective, the debt was at $19.95 trillion when President Trump took office in January 2017. It topped $22 trillion in February 2019.  That represented a $2.06 trillion increase in the debt in just over two years. By November 2019, the debt had eclipsed $23 trillion. Now, less than six months later, we’re at $24 trillion, with much of the coronavirus stimulus still in the pipeline. That’s a $4 trillion increase in the debt since Trump took office.

As Peter Schiff pointed out in a tweet, the president will add more debt in four years than President George W. Bush did in eight. If re-elected, he will add more debt in eight years than Bush and Obama did in 16.

Instead of draining the swamp, he is draining the nation.”

Ironically, there is bipartisan support for the massive coronavirus spending-spree and virtually no concern about the increasing debt. I say ironically because Republicans had a much different response when Obama pushed his stimulus plan through in response to the 2008 financial crisis. The GOP grassroots pitched a fit and the Tea Party was born. Today, many of the people who marched in those Tea Party rallies against the Obama spending are eagerly planning how to spend their MAGA-Bucks.

Trump supporters often claim the debt isn’t the president’s fault and the blame should fall on Congress. The legislative branch does bear its share of responsibility, but the White House has significant input into the budgeting process and the president has never once submitted a budget that cut overall spending.

In reality, the borrow and spend policies today are every bit as problematic as they were in the Tea Party days. In effect, we have the world’s biggest debtor trying to guarantee everybody else’s debt.

The massive debt raises a number of questions few people seem to be asking. For instance, how will all of this government borrowing impact the bond market?

Investors poured into U.S. Treasuries as a safe-haven as the coronavirus crisis grew. Interest rates plunged, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury dipping to record lows below 0.5 percent. At some point, the demand for bonds will ebb, but the supply certainly won’t. The  U.S. Treasury Department is going to have to sell a massive amount of bonds to fund all of this deficit spending.

The Federal Reserve has stepped in to backstop the borrowing. The central bank is set up and primed to monetize all of this debt through QE Infinity.

Through quantitative easing programs, the Fed buys U.S. Treasury bonds on the open market with money it creates out of thin air. Ostensibly, by creating artificial demand for Treasuries, the Fed can soak up excess supply and hold interest rates down. It has no choice but to intervene in the market because rising interest rates would be the death knell for this debt-riddled, overleveraged economy.

But the central bank will create trillions of dollars out of thin air and inject it into the economy in order to run this debt monetization scheme. That raises the specter of inflation. This is one reason Schiff recently said hyperinflation has gone from the worst-case scenario to the most likely scenario.

The Fed got away with this once. We didn’t see the type of price inflation one would expect with the three rounds of QE in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The inflation went into the stock market and other asset bubbles. That could conceivably happen again. But the last time around, then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke swore the QE wasn’t debt monetization. He promised it was a temporary expansion of the balance sheet. He insisted there was an exit strategy.

There was no exit.

And today, nobody is even talking about an exit strategy. Will investors actually believe this is going to be temporary? It seems unlikely.

I also see little concern about how all of this government debt will impact economic growth.

The CBO warned before the coronavirus pandemic that the growing “debt would dampen economic output over time.” In fact, studies have shown that GDP growth decreases by an average of about 30 percent when government debt exceeds 90 percent of an economy. U.S. debt already stood at around 106.9 percent of GDP before coronavirus. Ever since the U.S. national debt exceeded 90 percent of GDP in 2010, inflation-adjusted average GDP growth has been 33 percent below the average from 1960–2009, a period that included eight recessions.

Europe’s spending binge serves as a prime example of the impact of debt on economic growth.

Most people seem to believe the president will snap his fingers in the near future and the economy will snap back to normal. But the economy was broken before coronavirus. Now the government and the central banks are doubling down on the policies that broke it to begin with. There aren’t a lot of scenarios where this ends well.

Reprinted from The Tenth Amendment Center.

The Biggest Heist in Human History

As he valiantly tried to get a recorded vote on House passage of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill (the CARE Act), Rep. Thomas Massie learned once again last month the chief difference between the members of Congress and the inmates of a maximum security prison: Supermax prison inmates have better character than members of Congress. 

He should have known this already, since few inmates of a maximum security prisons would say that the ongoing drone-killing of children and warring on al-Qaida’s behalf is morally necessary, as the majority of congressmen did

In this instance, however, the congressional moral turpitude was financial. It’s unimaginable to think of prisoners bragging about how their actions just swindled a gaggle of plumbers, waitresses and department store clerks out of their homes, but if you listened to the speeches of congressmen passing the bill, you’d think those clerks who will lose their homes should be grateful.   

Sure, lots of prisoners have been incarcerated for robbery, but they almost always rob from the rich. Congress used this bill to rob from the poor and working people in order to subsidize mega-corporations and banks from the tips of waitresses. “Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen,” Woodie Guthrie once sang, but “as through your life you roam, you will never see an outlaw drive a family from their home.”  

The bill admittedly contained $300 billion in cash payments to citizens, but – thanks in part to a $454 billion accordion program through the Federal Reserve Bank – more than ten times that amount will go in the form of cash subsidies and discount loans to big banks and giant corporations. The bill is not really a $2.2 trillion bill, but is instead a $6 trillion bill, the overwhelming majority of which will go to politically-connected corporations and banks.

$454 billion into $4 trillion

The New York Times explained how the Fed can get $454 billion and turn it into $4 trillion: “Legally, the Fed is not allowed to buy debt that is not backed by the government. To achieve a degree of separation, it sets up a special purpose vehicle and then lends into it — which is why all of these programs are called ’emergency lending.’ The vehicle then snaps up bonds or makes loans to the private sector.” 

This, of course, is pretty much the definition of how money-laundering works. 

 The $1,200 “bailout” payment amounts to food money for the working stiffs about to lose their houses to the taxpayer-funded top 1% and bankers (but I repeat myself), who will take working people’s homes when assets are most depreciated and at fire-sale prices. It is, as Thomas Massie has repeatedly said, “the cheese in the trap.”

But the food money is necessary. Why? Because, as any shepherd knows, you can’t kill a sheep you want to keep fleecing.

The few leftists who comprehend economics understand how this will work. “It’s an abomination beyond all comprehension,” Dylan Ratigan explained on the March 26 Jimmy Dore podcast. “This is a further consolidation of wealth among the super-rich by giving only the super-rich money at a time when asset prices are down and everything is depressed so that the super-rich can take the taxpayer’s money and buy more of all the assets to increase their stranglehold and hammerlock on America.” 

Ratigan is a leftist, at odds with free market principles. But he’s not wrong. 

Ratigan even offered an interesting thought-experiment as an analogy: “Imagine, again, if I bankrupt everybody in Los Angeles, but only give a small group of people that are politically connected a bunch of money to go buy all the assets afterwards, who do you think is going to own all the businesses in Los Angeles a year from now?”

If you don’t think the financial sector is really psyched about the shutdown and their upcoming subsidies, you haven’t been paying attention. They’re laughing at the plebes over on K Street and Wall Street. And this has happened before.

The amount of crony-capitalism in this bill dwarfs the 2008 TARP bailout program, but even government’s actions during the 2008-09 crisis turned many major cities from home-owning cities to renting cities. It also turned the American people from, on average, employees of small businesses to employees of big businesses

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine noted in his podcast “Useful Idiots” April 3 that: 

“The main thing that people will have to understand that what happened with this rescue package is that it commits the government to an unprecedented amount of support of Wall Street in particular. In the same way we saw in post-2008 all sorts of crazy profiteering and opportunities for banks and financial companies to make basically risk-free money, that stuff is completely baked into this rescue package that passed unanimously. 

“And just to take one small example for people to think about: One of the new forms of assistance that was different in this bill from 2008 is that the Fed and the Treasury are now going to be buying corporate bonds. So last time around the government basically spent a lot to prop up the mortgage markets. They bought mortgage-backed securities; they took bad mortgage assets off the books of the banks. That was one of the big things they did. This time they are expanding that activity to buying the debt of companies and supporting the bond market, which is a whole new galaxy of support.” 

Taibbi noted that financial giant Blackrock has been hired to disperse the loans, in many cases it’s likely the loans will go to companies whose debts they already manage. “It’s hard for people to even wrap their heads around the opportunities for profiteering and manipulation,” the exasperated Taibbi explained.

And that’s only one part of the bailout bill. There are other programs the Federal Reserve Bank has initiated to support banks that aren’t even part of the bill. The Fed has announced the availability of $1 trillion for overnight loans to banks, in addition to $1 trillion in 14-day loans it already announced, and at near-zero interest rates. Plus, they’ve eliminated the requirement for banks to have any reserves in their vaults to cover consumer and business deposits, an historical first. Because the Fed has lowered banks’ reserve requirements to zero, banks can loan out unlimited amounts of money to their wealthy friends, regardless of the amount of deposits in their vaults. So banks can issue debt out of thin air for nothing and with nothing. In effect, every member bank has become an inflationary Federal Reserve Bank, buying up depreciated assets the unemployed plebes can’t afford to keep any more. 

And just in case you think the corporate media will tell the American people the truth about what’s going on, when the Federal Reserve announced an additional $2.5 trillion corporate bailout program, CNBC went to a Blackrock official to get its “unbiased” opinion for its story. The corporate press “watchdog” is an obedient and highly trained lapdog of the establishment.

The establishment does this kind of bailout and corporate media cover-up every time there’s a recession. Whenever a certain set of rich, politically-connected cronies seem to be at risk of losing some of their money, the American public is informed “the whole economy” is going to collapse, and the taxpayer – particularly working people – need to pony up billions or trillions to the rich to buy up devalued assets during a recession. It has almost become an American tradition, like road rage, morbid obesity and undeclared wars against countries citizens can’t find on a map.

At least in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when nearly 10 million people were thrown out of their homes, a significant proportion of the homeowners bore the blame. With the NINA loans (no income, no assets), there were a lot of people buying houses who should never have expected to keep them. In the wake of the coronavirus shutdown, the majority of homeowners who lose their homes had stable incomes, if not for the panic-induced government-mandated economic shutdown. 

Nobody can blame homeowners today for buying homes just before the government tells them they aren’t allowed earn a living any more. But now the heavily taxed tips of waitresses will fund mega-banks to buy up the houses of those same waitresses who have recently become unemployed. Even if the waitresses are not actively paying taxes any more, the newly created money – through the mechanism of currency inflation – will crowd out the value of what remains of the working class’ homes and other hard assets. 

And congressmen will no doubt expect a thank-you for the food money they’ll give the proles back so they can survive … until the next fleecing. It’s important to stress that the CARE Act passed the Senate unanimously, with only Rand Paul (who was sick with coronavirus) and three other Republicans not voting. Sen. Bernie Sanders, that great class warrior and supposed enemy of the 1%, voted in favor of it, as did Sen. Elizabeth “Billionaire Tears” Warren. And even though he railed against the pork in the bill earlier in the week, Sen. Ted “Grandstand” Cruz voted in favor of the bill. 

There are some bright spots of good news, however miniscule. I suppose I should be grateful to appreciate small favors, to wit, that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where I live views liquor store clerks as “essential workers.” But I’m also just cynical enough to think that it’s only because the government wants to keep us fat, drunk and stupid enough to accept unquestioningly the zombie quaranqueen shutdown propaganda.

It’s also good news that not all of the job losses will be permanent. As soon as the government-mandated shutdown ends, there will be a jobs “snap-back” and a lot of people will be re-hired to their old jobs, along with the reopening of a lot of shuttered businesses. 

The bad news is that the end of the shutdown will be too late, economically speaking, for many. And so long as the shutdown continues, the economic crisis will worsen. We know that of the average five million people who are losing their jobs per week during the shutdown, a proportion of them won’t be re-hired. We know it won’t be 100%, but it’s also not 0%. Nor is it a static number; it’s a rising percentage. The longer shuttered businesses accumulate fixed costs with no revenue, the more likely they are to close permanently. 

Moreover, huge downstream job losses are being created by this shutdown. The shutdown will kill the domestic economy of tens of millions of Americans, who will not be buying products they otherwise would have purchased later this year, leading to layoffs in every manufacturing and raw material industry from automobiles to zinc mines. And because the shutdown contagion is not only an American affliction, businesses relying on global trade will also find themselves during the global recession cutting back on both production and employment. 

Some free market economists like David Stockman and Gene Epstein are convinced that our private sector is dynamic and will snap back from the shutdown insanity. A few others (notably Peter Schiff) are more bearish because they are convinced that coronavirus simply pricked the bubble that had been forming anyway, and there’s no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. 

They both have a point. Schiff is right that we were due for a recession anyway, though I doubt it would have been as severe as he was predicting, and this is largely because Stockman and Epstein are right about the market economy being dynamic. However, just because the private sector is dynamic doesn’t mean we’ll snap back to anything like full employment for many years. The market is dynamic but the government is not; look to the 2008-09 recovery as an example. Government “stimulus” intervention kept the recovery from snapping back a decade ago, as it had during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It took almost 10 years to recover from the 2008-09 financial crisis. It’s wishful thinking the markets will not have to navigate a minefield of government “assistance” once the recovery begins. 

Fiscally speaking, the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 bailout bill, combined with massive government shutdowns that will result in a sharp reduction in tax revenue, is more evidence that Trump is running the federal government like his casino – which filed for bankruptcy four times. The federal government will probably run a deficit close to $3 trillion for fiscal 2020.

In the past, America had politicians who only thought ahead to the next election. The coronavirus shutdown shows that today politicians only think as far in advance as the daily press conference. 

Of course, it’s the perfect storm for the politicians, since nobody can protest within our national leper colony right now because most of the nation under the equivalent of house arrest. It’s hard to gather in groups to protest the robbery of the working poor and middle classes when healthy people are supposed to be ringing a bell and yelling out “Unclean, unclean!” anytime we leave the house. 

If you want a specimen of how corporate media is definitely not on the side of liberty, consider this story from CNN on April 10, with the headline “Sweden challenges Trump – and scientific mainstream – by refusing to lock down.” The claim that the whole “scientific mainstream” is behind the economic shutdown is not based upon any real scientific experiments – you know, using the scientific method. No nation has ever in history even attempted a complete economic shutdown; there’s nothing they could study. Nor is it based upon polling actual scientists about their views. The whole “scientific mainstream” referred to in the article is about the “establishment political mainstream” supported by corporate media satraps. 

Sweden is not engaging in a reckless experiment; it’s doing what nations have always done in the face of pandemics: isolating the sick and those exposed to the sick and taking prudent measures to limit large crowds and protect the vulnerable. It’s the US, which copied Italy (run by “Stupid Mussolini,” who made the trains not run), China and most of Europe that are running the reckless experiment that’s trying to – economically speaking – turn the globe into a Thanos-post-snap world.

Indeed, nations that tracked both those with the disease and those exposed to the sick and didn’t shut down their whole economy – for example, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore – have had better results controlling COVID-19 than the advanced nations which committed economic hari-kari by turning themselves into a leper colony archipelago. 

The reality is that panicked Karen government officials engaged in an insane experiment of national economic shutdown without any understanding of the science of what would happen. The government officials were never asked by the corporate media any of the following questions: 

1. If the “flatten the curve” strategy isn’t part of the federal government’s official strategy (and it’s NOT even mentioned in official documents), how can it work nationally?

2. How long do you think you can keep the shutdown going before food riots begin? How much of a new Great Depression are you willing to create in order to keep this shutdown going?

3. Do you expect your shutdown/“social distancing” campaign to abolish the virus completely?

4. At what point do you return to people working? How many infections – domestically and internationally – is the minimum number that keeps the shutdown going?

5. Do you really think Bangladesh, South Sudan and Haiti will “flatten the curve” by shutting down their economies to fight coronavirus? What do you do when poor countries understandably don’t follow our lead because they don’t want famine?

6. What do you do after the shutdown ends and that virus comes back out of control, either in the US domestically or internationally? If internationally, do you impose a blockade and create a famine in poor nations with tens of millions of dead? Bomb them into submission?

7. Do you think the disease will become less contagious once the shutdowns end? How can you guarantee we won’t have to re-impose a shutdown?

8. How do you re-impose a shutdown while we’re already in a depression with 20% unemployment and a bankrupt government? How do you think workers will take a new shutdown when Washington has no more money to dole out?

But government officials still need to be made to answer these questions, and should have before they imposed the shutdown. Americans need to grab a pair of Rowdy “Roddy” Piper’s glasses from “Them,” wake up the zombie quaranqueens, and demand answers to these questions along with an end to the economic shutdown to limit the accumulating damage. 

Then, they need to put a stop to the greatest heist in the history of the world. The $2 trillion in bailouts for Wall Street is only the beginning. Unfortunately, more is coming unless the people demand it stop.

Why Central Planning by Medical Experts Will Lead to Disaster

A great deal of the coverage of the COVID-19 crisis has been apocalyptic. That is partly because “if it bleeds, it leads.” But it is also because some of the medical experts with media megaphones have put forward potentially catastrophic scenarios and drastic plans to deal with them, reinforced by assertions that the rest of us should “listen to the experts,” because only they know enough to determine policy. Unfortunately, those experts don’t know enough to determine appropriate policies.

Doctors, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, etc. know more things about diseases, their courses, what increases or decreases their rate of spread, and so on than most. But the most crucial of that information has been browbeaten into the rest of us by now. Limited and imperfect testing also means that the available statistics may be very misleading (e.g., is an uptick in reported cases real or the result of an increasing rate of, or more accuracy in, testing, which is crucial to determining the likely future course COVID-19?). Further, to the extent that the virus’s characteristics are unique, no one knows exactly what will happen. All of that makes “shut up and listen” advice less compelling.

More important, however, may be that in making recommendations to address COVID-19, those with detailed knowledge of the disease (the experts we have been told to obey) do not have sufficient knowledge of the consequences of their “solutions” for the economy and society to know what the costs will be. That means that they don’t know enough to accurately compare the benefits to the costs. In particular, because of their relative unawareness of the many margins at which effects will be felt, the medical experts we are being told to follow will likely underestimate those costs. When combined with their natural desire to solve the medical problem, however severe it might get, this can lead to overly draconian proposals.

This issue has been brought to the fore by the increasing number of people who have begun questioning the likelihood of the apocalyptic scenarios driving the “OMG! We need to do everything that might help” tweetstorms, on the one hand, and those who are emphasizing that “shutting down the economy” is far more costly than planners recognized, on the other.

Those who have brought up such issues (how long before they are called “COVID deniers”?) have been pilloried for it. Exhibit A is the vilification of President Trump for “ignoring the scientists,” such as the New York Time’s claim that “Trump thinks he knows better than the doctors” after he tweeted that “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”

One major problem with such attacks is the substantial literature documenting the adverse health effects of worsening economic conditions. For just one example, an analysis of the 2008 economic meltdown in The Lancet estimated that it “was associated with over 260,000 excess cancer deaths in the OECD alone, between 2008–2010.” That is a massive “detail” to ignore in forming policy.

In other words, the tradeoff is not just a matter of lives lost versus money, as it is often portrayed as being (e.g., New York governor Cuomo’s assertion that “we’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life”). It is a tradeoff between lives lost due to COVID and lives that will be lost due to the policies adopted to reduce COVID deaths.

Larry O’Connor put this well at Townhall when he wrote:

Why should the scientific analysis of doctors solely focusing on the spread of the coronavirus carry more weight than the very real scientific analysis of the deadly health ramifications of shutting down our economy? Doesn’t the totality of the data make the argument for a balanced approach to this crisis?

This issue reminds me of a classic discussion of specialists and planning in chapter 4 of F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. “The Inevitability of Planning” is well worth noting today:

Almost every one of the technical ideals of our experts could be realized…if to achieve them were made the sole aim of humanity.

We all find it difficult to bear to see things left undone which everybody must admit are both desirable and possible. That these things cannot all be done at the same time, that any one of them can be achieved only at the sacrifice of others, can be seen only by taking into account factors which fall outside any specialism…[which] forces us to see against a wider background the objects to which most of our labors are directed.

Every one of the many things which, considered in isolation, it would be possible to achieve…creates enthusiasts for planning who feel confident…[of] the value of the particular objective…But it is…foolish to quote such instances of technical excellence in particular fields as evidence of the general superiority of planning.

The hopes they place in planning…are the result not of a comprehensive view of society but rather of a very limited view and often the result of a great exaggeration of the importance of the ends they place foremost…it would make the very men who are most anxious to plan society the most dangerous if they were allowed to do so—and the most intolerant of the planning of others…there could hardly be a more unbearable—and much more irrational—world than one in which the most eminent specialists in each field were allowed to proceed unchecked with the realization of their ideals.

Panic has seldom improved the rationality of decision-making (beyond the “fight or flight” reaction to facing a “man-eater,” when to stop and think means certain death). However, much of media coverage has fed panic. But the illogical and intemperate media attacks against those questioning the rationality of draconian “solutions” drown out, rather than enable, objective discussion of real tradeoffs. And if “Democracy dies in darkness,” as the Washington Post proclaims, we should remember that it does not require total darkness. The same conclusion follows when people are kept in the dark about major aspects of the reality they face.

Reprinted from the Independent Institute.

Timothy McVeigh, Suspects, Visit Strip Club in Weeks Before Bombing

Saturday, April 8th, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and two other men paid a visit to a Tulsa strip club called Lady Godiva’s. The three men were reportedly there for several hours, from around 8 or 9 until around midnight. 

The club’s owners were Floyd Radcliffe and his wife, Julie. They had an audio/video security system in the dancer’s prep room and the surveillance system captured a cocktail waitress, Tara, talking to a dancer about her encounter with Timothy McVeigh that very night.

On video, Tara can be overheard telling the dancer all about it:

One of them said, ‘I’m a very smart man.’ I said’ You are?’ and he goes ‘Yes, I am. And on April 19, 1995, you’ll remember me for the rest of your life!’ I said ‘Oh really?’ and he says ‘Yes, you will.’

Owner Floyd Radcliffe, upon discovering the footage, phoned the FBI who showed up a week or two later and confiscated the film. Oklahoma investigative reporter J.D. Cash had begun his investigation of the event before the FBI arrived. Cash made a copy of the security tape before the FBI got it, knowing that once the FBI got their hands on it, it would probably disappear.

Cash provided the tape to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s news program ‘The Fifth Estate,’ and together they carried out an investigation, interviewing staff at at the club.

The dancers identified Timothy McVeigh from a photo spread as the tallest of the three men, the one who boasted to the cocktail waitress about April 19th.

One of the other men with McVeigh was identified from a photo spread as Andreas Strassmeir. Strassmeir was described as quiet, but easily identifiable due to his buck teeth and German accent. Owner Julie Radcliffe told journalist Jon Ronson that all “the girls identified Strassmeir. They all did identify that gentleman.”  Strassmeir has denied he was ever at the club, but the witnesses are certain of it: after all, it isn’t every day in Tulsa, Oklahoma that a stripper talks to a man with a German accent. One could say that’s a rarity, and something that might stand out in ones’ memory.

Likewise, the other man with McVeigh was also identified. He was described as the man paying for the drinks that night, flashing a wad of $100 bills and talking a lot to the girls. That man, described as 5’8 – 5’9, 170-180 pounds, muscular, dark hair, brown eyes, tan complexion, in many ways fit the description of the FBI’s ‘John Doe #2’ suspect. One dancer, stage name ‘Cassie’, told Washington Post reporter Peter Carlson that the man looked like the John Doe #2 sketch. Upon seeing the sketch she said “I recognize him; he’s the one who was sitting in a back booth, talking with other girls.” He too was identified out of a photo spread, described by the dancers as “very good looking, but full of himself.” The dancers all picked out a photograph of Michael Brescia, identifying him as the third man, the one who did the most talking.

At the time, Brescia was Andreas Strassmeir’s roommate and a member of a domestic terrorist organization called ‘The Aryan Republican Army’ which had enriched themselves through a spree of 22 midwestern bank robberies from 1994 to 1996–perhaps explaining the unemployed Brescia’s wad of $100 bills.

As of April of 1995, the FBI had not caught on to the group, and none of the members had yet to be arrested for the series of bank robberies that they carried out across the midwest. These robberies were later cited by law enforcement sources in news reports as having possibly financed the April 19th, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What’s more, an FBI document unearthed later described the domestic terrorist group, to which Brescia belonged, in interesting terms: the gang was referred to by the FBI as ‘McVeigh and his associates.‘ 

What’s more, Dale Culpepper, the club’s bouncer, remembers spotting a faded older model Ryder truck in the parking lot with its logo painted over. This was before McVeigh had rented the ‘bomb truck’ (on April 17th) but it aligns with other witness sightings who spotted an older, faded yellow truck at Geary Lake between the 10th and the 13th–later that very week–and again at the Dreamland motel on the 14th, 15th, and Easter Sunday the 16th — all before McVeigh rented the larger 20-foot Ryder truck from Elliott’s body shop on Monday the 17th.

Based on numerous witness sightings, it becomes apparent that more than one Ryder truck was used by the bombing’s perpetrators, although what became of the second truck isn’t clear. What is clear, is that people saw it, and it stood out.  Just like the three men at the club stood out that Saturday in April.

J.D. Cash published a piece about this story on September 15th, 1996, and the CBC aired the results of their investigation on the CBC news program ‘The Fifth Estate’ in the fall of 1996. By that time, one of the dancers who had identified McVeigh had been found dead in her apartment. Dancer Shawntelle Farrens was found dead in Tulsa the week Cash had begun his investigation, her death ruled a suicide by accidental or intentional drug overdose. The other dancers and cocktail waitresses, however, had gone on record: the men seen with Timothy McVeigh that night were Andreas Strassmeir, and his roommate, Michael Brescia.

Both men would later become central figures in investigative reporters’ efforts to track down just who McVeigh’s accomplices might have been. This encounter, just over a week before the bombing, fits into that puzzle and may shed light on who at least two of those accomplices were.

In the 25 years since the bombing, Andreas Strassmeir has fled the country, moving back to Germany. He’s denied knowing McVeigh, or having visited the strip club, but those denials stand in stark contrast to the memories of the witnesses at the club that night. The most Strassmeir is willing to admit is that he once met McVeigh at a gun show. As evidence of this encounter, Strassmeir produced Timothy McVeigh’s Desert Storm uniform. He bought it from McVeigh for a few bucks. The uniform still had the name-patch on it: “MCVEIGH” in bold letters across the chest pocket.

So too has Michael Brescia slipped away. He was arrested in 1997 for his role in the Aryan Republican Army bank robberies.  Brescia cooperated with authorities and was given a comparatively light sentence, serving only five years in prison.

The other members of the bank robbery gang, described by the FBI as ‘McVeigh and his associates’ in an internal memorandum, weren’t so lucky.  One man, Richard Guthrie, was found dead in his prison cell the day after telling reporters he was going to write a book about the gang and speak to a grand jury about it’s activities. Another member of the gang, Pete Langan, is serving a life sentence for his role in the robberies.

If anything, the encounter at Lady Godiva’s serves to illustrate a distinct link between Timothy McVeigh and some rather unsavory characters who deserve scrutiny. 

Just what was Timothy McVeigh doing with Michael Brescia and Andreas Strassmeir in April of 1995?

Sources:

* Cash, J.D. “Is A Videotape From A Tulsa Topless Bar The “Smoking Gun” In Oklahoma Bombing?” McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], 25 September 1996. Print.

* Cash, J.D. “Canadians Air Club Film” McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], 23 Oct 1996. Print.

* Ronson, John. “Conspirators.” The Guardian, 4 May 2001. Web. 13 Feb 2013.

* “The Company They Keep.” The Fifth Estate. The Canadian Broadcasting Company. 22 October 1996. Television.

* Carlson, Peter. “The Shadow – Did He Ever Really Exist?” Washington Post Magazine. 23 March 1997. Print.

* Jason Van Vleet. “Terror From Within.” MGA Films, 28 August 2002. Television documentary, VHS.

* Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 1997. pp 87-88

Re: Strassmeir and Brescia w/ McVeigh:

“they also picked out Michael Brescia and Andreas Strassmeir from a montage of photos” … “Brescia, they recalled, was very good looking, but full of himself. He was the one paying for the drinks and flashing hundred dollar bills.”

* Ridgeway, James. “Beyond McVeigh: What the Feds Won’t Tell You About Oklahoma City.” The Village Voice, 15 May 2001. Print

* Fritz, Sara and David Savage. “FBI Turns Focus to Unsolved Bank Heists.” LA Times, 28 April 1995. Print.

* “Sister Ties McVeigh to Bank Robbery.” Tucson Citizen, 19 July 1995. Print & Digital.

* “Separatist Admits Role in Robberies.” The Philadelphia Enquirer, 21 May 1997. Print.

* “Ex-Eagle Scout Sentenced in Hate Group Bank Heists.”  The Philadelphia Enquirer, 14 March 1998. Print.

* FBI memo describing the Aryan Republican Army as ‘McVeigh and his associates’: FBI Insert E-4206 04 May 1995

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vnAW_875aA

Week Before The OKC Bombing, 3 Suspects Visited Club

Anarchism and Pandemics

Anarchists face the question: Without nations and states wouldn’t a free society be especially ravaged by pandemics? Who would enforce quarantines without rebuilding a centralized institution of violence?

It’s a fair question.

Anarchism isn’t about a finite goal, but an unending vector pointed towards increasing liberation. We’re not in the habit of “good enough” compromises, we want everything. However it’s always worth talking about prescriptive or aspirational visions to shake out what is and isn’t possible with freedom. “How might we solve this without depending upon the state or relationships of domination?” is always a useful question.

And anarchists should take pause and consider the situation with fearless honesty. While freedom solves many problems very well, there is no law of the universe that it will inherently solve every conceivable problem better than alternatives.

No ideology or society will do everything with perfect efficiency. There is no reason to suspect, for instance, that an anarchistic society would be great at industrialized genocide. It is also possible that there are some legitimate issues that a state would solve quicker than a free society. Organized and centralized violence is a blunt and destructive tool — but there occasionally problems for which blunt and destructive means excel.

As anti-statists it is our assertion that the inherent downsides to the existence of a state vastly outweigh any such positives. These downsides are manifold and many of them are inclined to make a pandemic situation worse.

The nationstate is founded on the twin evils of hierarchy and separation. Nationstates slice up the world’s population into separate prisons and impose hierarchies within them.

  • This division is self-reinforcing and creates inefficiencies. The nationstate system disincentivizes global collaboration, instead encouraging rivalry as power loci see each other as threats. Nations are disinclined to communicate the entire truth quickly to one another, they are also game theoretically incentivized to exploit many situations of relative weakness. Unlike individual humans who have opportunities for reflective and adaptive agency, states are ossified masses built upon the suppression of human agency –an institution inherently dependent upon selfish domination is far less capable of defecting from that strategy and truly selflessly collaborating. While some small privileged nationstates relatively removed from fierce geopolitical pressures as well as some larger nationstates attempting to build soft power may donate some resources to other nations, there are harsh limits to overall collaboration.
  • States must secure the continued existence of their constituent power structures against their own populations. This means lying to their populations and coercing them in ways that prioritizes the maintenance of power over the best interests of the population. These interests partially coincide — a state entirely devoid of population ceases to be — but in no sense do they perfectly overlap. States and their attendant ecosystem of reinforcing power structures frequently have interests that conflict with minimizing the net life lost. Further, even if a state’s long-run survival is entangled with the survival of its population, the desperate psychology of domination bends towards short-term and limited thinking. Rulers are inclined to strategies — thanks to their struggle for power, remove from more rounded experience, and the precarity of the structures they depend upon — that are otherwise out of step with collective survival. And states tend to secure their existence by shaping a broader hierarchical society that pushes this kind of thinking on all scales — eg precarious wage laborers are conditioned into short-term and zero-sum thinking.
  • Since a state has a local monopoly on violence it must also calculate overall solutions and impose them sweepingly without a lot of nuance or attentiveness. To maintain its own existence a state cannot fully decentralize many tasks related to the collecting and processing of information. This leaves states relatively disconnected and sluggish. And because states actively work to suppress internal competition there aren’t robust ecologies of social projects and protocols by which a population can pick up the slack. The state atrophies civil society and constrains or enslaves what organizations are allowed.

To summarize: States are sluggish and hamfisted, their hierarchies inherently create incentive structures where power (whether a politician, ruling party, ruling class, or geopolitical contra other nations) interferes with most efficiently saving the population.

Conversely it’s worth noting freedom is quite good at communication, adaptation, and resiliency — societal virtues of significant value in a pandemic.

  • The mistake that became Twitter aside, Anarchists are good at building communication networks. In the absence of centralized coercive institutions, societies fall back on more decentralized bottom-up means of networking and reporting. Social freedom inherently implies freedom of information, not just through the absence of censors but via emergent network topologies that avoid centralized logjams. And thus different social mores, norms, habits, associations, and protocols are forced to emerge to fluidly handle news, tracking, alerts, etc. This means critical information doesn’t flow through state monitors or media institutions, but eventually becomes much more natively handled in a decentralized and specifics-attentive way that robustly filters out deception. Rather than relying on dishonest states, or tentatively trying to figure things out in their shadow, a truly decentralized society routes critical information more efficiently.
  • Beyond communicating the details of the crisis, anarchists use information instead of violence wherever possible to solve social problems. We don’t brutally imprison dangerous people — we collaborate in watching them and alerting other community members to the risk they pose. This sousveillence is facilitated by information technologies, but it is a continuation of the shame and reputation dynamics that stateless Indigenous societies have long used. “Dave was in contact with someone who tested positive” is a crucial bit of information to relay to the mutual friend who would otherwise have invited him over. Decentralized communication is a matter of granting informed agency to individuals, and it’s also the most natural way to apply social pressures towards net positive ends. Where a purely selfish individual might otherwise defect in everyday prisoners dilemmas, the old lady watching him go out in the pandemic from her kitchen window and shouting down that she knows his mom and friends is far more effective at instilling prosocial, positive-sum results and less brutal than a truncheoned gang of pigs beating random joggers.
  • Our present society is suffering severe epistemic breakdown. The centralized hierarchical institutions imposed upon us that once held a tight monopoly on claims to knowledge and expertise are clearly rotten, but these zombified dinosaurs continue lumbering even as the flesh falls from their bones. A chaos of conspiracies, grifters, and bubbles of delusion have proliferated because robust antibodies and verification systems haven’t had time to grow from the bottom up. But the other half of this is on academia and how it has withdrawn and signed pacts with the existing rulers. When scientific experts aren’t captured servants of power — marginal in number, socially isolated, and subverted by the needs of power — more people begin to listen to them. To be truly free science needs to not just be open in the sense of technically operating in the public domain, it must be accessible, rather than walled off in expensive academic ponzi schemes.
  • Economic, technological, and infrastructural adaptation is relatively quite hard in a divided, hierarchical and centralized society. To serve the need for control much is ossified into rigid forms and traditions, as well as capturing oversight and twisting it towards the interests of those with power. The freer the people the quicker the processes of discovery, invention, and implementation.

There will always be exceptions. What we are talking about is inclinations to behavior. A free society — particularly a young one with insufficiently developed liberatory infrastructure or habits of organization — might seize up unproductively. A state — particularly one relatively insulated by happenstance from the vicissitudes of its power — might act quickly, openly, and largely for the sake of human life.

In the face of COVID-19 there have been a wide array of responses. A rebel network under siege in Chiapas may not be able to rapidly produce their own ventilators. A technocratic quasi client state like South Korea may see institutional alignment with quick and honest mass testing. These are however statistical exceptions to easily trackable general tendencies.

On the whole COVID-19 has been a dark parable of the dysfunction of power structures and the advantages of freedom.

In a free society the experts issuing initial warnings wouldn’t be silenced and suppressed.

In a free society tracking the movement of the infected wouldn’t be left to impossibly disconnected and overwhelmed central authorities.

In a free society the production changes needed to quickly build things like testing kits, ventilators, and respirators wouldn’t be impaired by closed borders, intellectual property law, as well as rigid and centralized production chains, to give just a few examples.

In a free society the research needed to cure diseases wouldn’t be impaired by intellectual property and national secrecy.

In a free society robust bottom-up community safety nets and general economic fluidity would make disruptions easier to weather.

In a free society experts wouldn’t be widely distrusted because they wouldn’t be systematically enslaved under the boot of self-interested authorities.

In a free society where people are used to the responsibility of personal decisionmaking and have grown accustomed to evaluating risks, experts wouldn’t feel the need to transparently lie about things like masks “for the greater good” — nor would people be barred from participating in trials and experimentation.

In a free society enforcement of social distancing wouldn’t be arbitrarily and brutally handled by state planners and police, but instead use social pressure via shame and reputation.

Freedom of association isn’t just a matter of the fluidity and breadth of our connections, it means having agency in who we associate with, it means taking responsibility, rather than having those hard choices taken from us.

Reactionaries like Ben Shapiro think that borders are magic blankets that protect from everything. In response to COVID-19 Shapiro wrote “if we had no countries, we’d all be dead today or in the very near future. Every major country has shut its borders.” Similar absurd proclamations are without end in reactionary circles. The state, the nation, are seen as comforting simplicities that inherently wipe away all complexity and danger. If only we had stronger states/borders there’d be no bad things to fear.

Much could be written about this psychology of mewling bootlicking, but I want to focus on the broad notion that borders protect us from pandemics.

It’s worth emphasizing from the start that strong borders are a relatively recent invention. No state in history has had non-pourus borders. Even massive constructions like Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Walls of China were geared towards impeding armies, not absolutely stopping the movement of individuals. While walls are used by states to better enslave their own captive populations, no political border in history has prevented the eventual transmission of pandemics. Absolutist “strong borders” like the USSR tried in vain to completely erect are a science fiction concept, an abstract aspiration — at least as much as anarchist prescriptions. People and materials always slip through. (And we’ll always help them.)

Borders at best buy a given nation a little longer to watch a pandemic overwhelm their neighbors before it overwhelms them. With new surveillance and militarization technologies it may well be possible to establish “strong borders” capable of entirely and permanently sealing out a pandemic (that’s not air or water borne), but the costs are immense authoritarianism as well as the societal suffering and dysfunction that comes from such. Borders infringe upon freedom to untold degrees and inflict catastrophic social dysfunction.

One might protest “isn’t the whole point supposed to be slowing the spread of the virus?” But productive slowing isn’t measured in relation to the solar rotations, but in relation to the creation of infrastructure, treatments, and cures. It does you no good to slow the arrival of a plague a few months if you don’t get anywhere developing and deploying what you need in that time.

The critical processes are scientific and economic, and anything that slows them effectively speeds up the transmission rate. Nothing else matters besides the race between those processes.

Borders impede both economic and scientific processes.

A large nation like the US has a large border — and thus a particularly porous border that is very expensive to seal. But in the other direction — as you approach the fascist dream of a patchwork of micronations — you have less economic and scientific capacity on your own. In particular sealing a small nation’s borders means curtailing the very same trade necessary for a flourishing and dynamic economy.

Self-sufficiency, internally closed supply chains, localized production, etc, do have benefits for resiliency, but they have serious consequences for efficiency. On the far end of this, if we follow certain contemporary fascists’ suggestions and retreat to closed ethnotribes of around 150 people, not only is that tribe not going to have full hospital facilities when a pandemic eventually strikes — it’s not going to have hospital facilities at all, for anything. Such inefficiencies end up killing a hell of a lot more in the long run than a pandemic.

There’s an inherent tradeoff here: the more trade a nation tolerates the faster it’s possible to mobilize and coordinate rapid production of the equipment, facilities, materials, etc necessary to save lives. But also the faster it will be infected. And once a nation gets breached by infection the growth rate internally is going to be the same global growth rate we’d otherwise see.

The wider our networks of collaboration the more shock absorbent we have overall AND the greater resources we can muster AND the faster we can do it.

The other thing to note is that borders actually provide very minimal and arbitrary prunings of the social graph that don’t necessarily line up with what would actually be needed in a given situation to curtail a pandemic.

The connectivity you want severed in a pandemic is not clumsy aggregate clusters but personal interactions. This is where tracing points of contact, carriers, etc, becomes vitally important. Setting up military roadblocks around a city — while cinematic — isn’t anywhere near as useful as getting everyone inside that city to temporarily limit their interactions and tracing vectors. Borders-style approaches create arbitrary and capricious kill zones, guaranteeing that regional resources will be overwhelmed, not an efficient reduction of harm.

The reality is that no pandemic in history has looked like zombie films and yet conservatives rush to the comforting reactionary simplicity of the zombie premise. Pandemics are complicated messy things that take expertise and collaboration; nationalism and war promise simple straightforward conflicts with straightforward prescriptions. This is why such infest our media narratives. We like clean, reassuring stories filled with quick “commonsense” fixes. It’s easier to imagine a pandemic in war terms with familiar, conventional war solutions.

This is not to say that violence is never justified. Violence may in fact be justified to save net lives in a pandemic. For example using force to stop likely carriers from irresponsibly entering dense populations makes sense, especially early on when containment is still plausible. Many people are not, by default, altruistic. And the mere abolition of nations and states would not be the victory of anarchism. A significant percentage of the population are selfish pricks, pickled in the zero-sum perspective of power. In a pandemic one asshole can kill thousands. Violence can clearly be justified to curtail such actions. But when and if such situations arise in a free society it is unlikely to look anything like the violence of the state.

Reactionaries facilitate slaughter and then present their own slaughter as the only safety. And people who are afraid, who are made precarious, start longing for stability and simplicity at any price.

As with so many things, so it is with pandemics: the state creates problems and then, having demolished or forbidden all other solutions, embraces the few things it actually is good at. The state breaks your legs and then offers you shoddy crutches. It impoverishes you and then provides foodstamps. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should reject foodstamps. A prisoner’s first obligation is to escape, and sometimes that means accepting the warden’s poisoned meals. There may be pandemic situations while the state still reigns where brutal quarantines are the lesser evil, even while we must acknowledge the longterm poison they represent.

Benjamin Tucker said it a century ago, “The State is said by some to be a ‘necessary evil’; it must be made unnecessary.”

Fighting to save lives inevitably obliges fighting to destroy the state, and we must be mindful that we don’t make that longterm task harder. But strategy is complex, triage is complex. There are no simple pat answers, the state is always our enemy, but it is not always our worst enemy. We mustn’t lose sight of how it created and worsened this situation, but that doesn’t mean always prioritizing resisting it rather than a virus.

Reactionaries isolate into prisons and fixed traditions. Anarchists build connections and possibility. They have the benefit of one path, we have the burden of having to evaluate many.

That’s why so many of them didn’t see this coming. And it’s why they won’t see us coming.

Reprinted from the Center for a Stateless Society.

News

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