Every man can enjoy the right of self-ownership, without special coercion upon anyone. But in the case of a “right” to schooling, this can only be provided if other people are coerced into fulfilling it. The “right” to schooling, to a job, three meals, etc., is then not embedded in the nature of man, but requires for its fulfillment the existence of a group of exploited people who are coerced into providing such a “right.”
For a New Liberty, pp. 164–65
A simple analogy makes all “liberal” political theory collapse. If a hundred people were shipwrecked on an island, what would it even mean to say that everyone there has a “right” to food, or that everyone has a “right” to health care, or the “right” to a job, or the “right” to a “living wage”? If, for example, someone has a “right” to housing, and housing comes only from the knowledge, skills and efforts of other people, it means that one person has the right to force another person to build him a house. This is exactly what happens in a larger context, when “liberals” advocate that some people be forcibly robbed via “taxation” in order to provide “benefits” for others. The notion that people, by virtue of their mere existence, are entitled to all sorts of things – things which come into being only as the result of human knowledge and effort – is delusional. The logical result of this supposedly loving and compassionate viewpoint is violence and slavery, because if one’s “need” entitles him to something, that means that it must be forcibly taken from anyone else who has it or can produce it, if he will not supply it willingly.
In episode 98 Tommy takes on the idea that any one ism should be argued as superior over another. When people argue capitalism v socialism v communism v progressivism v fascism they are forgetting that they are arguing in favor of forced integration or forced segragation. In a society founded on liberty people would be able to choose the ism that best fits them and the coercion that enforces and props up their preferred ism would be null and void.
Imagine having an employee whose job was to make sure you are safe from the elements and if anything stopped working in your dwelling, they had to fix it on what YOU paid them. What if you had a contract that stated if they didn’t provide these services in a set amount of time you could either, file a tort claim against them, or walk away with no repercussions and contract with someone else, or both. Would you consider it unfathomable if you were informed that some people were paying this person as little as $800 a month, even less? Some might call that near slave wages!
For well over a century now, people referring to themselves as socialists and communists, have sought to demonize the “landlord.” These evil imbeciles have gone so far as to murder them en masse. A quick search of social media will find college students and their professors cheering on the ending of the lives of people who provide more service to humanity than they and their Gender Studies degree ever will. Even the term is meant to invoke a caricature of someone who controls your life and who you are enslaved to. This is of course nonsense. That any person with an IQ over 60 takes this term, and its cartoonish interpretation seriously, is a testament to the success of government schools and their indoctrination program which starts in the formative years.
A quick breakdown as to the services provided by the one who is at your beck and call 24 hours a day, proves the cretin who vilifies them is an enemy of the survival of the species.
“Mother Nature is trying to kill you.” That phrase is taken from the title of a Dan Riskin book but I’m sure its origins are apocryphal by now. There was a reason our ancestors lived in caves, then huts, so on and so on. The natural elements of this planet could end their existence. Whether they lived close to the Arctic or on the equator, weather was the main threat to their lives. To have to bring up the last Ice Age to make the point is foolish.
Not only climate but animals were also a threat to life and limb. The “landlord” provides safety to all who either cannot own their own land, or doesn’t want to.
One of the greatest dilemmas in history has been the preservation of our nutritional sustenance. A quick glance back gives you examples of people salting meats, placing their stock in cold streams and various other methods. They had to constantly innovate in a time of prehistoric and medieval technologies or else one of the main things they needed to stay alive could kill them.
With the advent of modern refrigeration, this problem that lasted for millennia is all but solved. Almost all landlords provide one of these life saving devices with the property you lease from them.
Safety from Predators
When a libertarian is asked to give the elevator pitch for what they believe, many will say “don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.” No libertarian is deluded enough to believe that everyone will follow that standard so having a safe place for one’s person and property is essential.
As has been discussed about our ancestors, a dwelling that protects both is vital for survival. The service that the landlord provides, in the overwhelming majority of cases, is adequate for anyone’s needs.
Having items in your home that simply make you happy is a relatively new idea for the masses. When the modern nation state was formed, only a small minority could have what are termed “luxury goods.” Usually, only the kings and their most trusted advisors could acquire these. In the last 100 or so years that has changed. Televisions, computers and the internet are common-place even in homes that many of the enemies of the “landlord” would consider low-income. These “treacherous” property owners will often provide these amenities in your contract along with marble floors, walk-in closets and even bidets.
If one wished to be sarcastic, they may ask, “HOW DARE THEY?!”
What is the alternative to this beneficial arrangement for all, central planning? Having the State build cookie-cutter dwellings for the masses? History has shown that “public housing” becomes run down and dilapidated in the absence of someone with a financial interest in keeping the property up to a certain standard. Mention the concept of “resale value” to a commie/socialist and I’m sure their wiring would malfunction as quickly as that of a New York City housing project’s.
Private ownership providing a service, even in this system of crony-capitalism, is preferable to that of government control. The question must be asked to those who wish to see government, or centrally planned housing, whether they believe food should be provided in the same way. That should be a yes or no answer. If it is no, then why would they trust central planners with sheltering the masses? If the answer is yes, those who disagree would do well to separate themselves from these sociopaths sooner rather than later.
Pete invited Gene Epstein to return to the show to discuss his November 5th, Soho Forum debate, with Professor of socialist economics, Richard Wolff. They discuss some of Wolff’s arguments in favor of the debate resolution, “Socialism is preferable to capitalism as an economic system that promotes freedom, equality, and prosperity.”
Gene is the Director of The Soho Forum debates series and former economic editor for Barron’s Magazine.
The average “social media patriot” is enamored with pointing their finger at the stage full of democratic presidential candidates and hurling accusations of them desiring socialism and communism in their “Free Murica.” There’s a huge problem with their allegations in relation to them not wanting communism; it’s already here, and has been for over a century.
Looking at the “Ten Planks of Communism,” as laid out by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” may set off alarm bells in those who actually pay attention to what the State has been doing, with their consent.
1. “Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes”
Can anyone deny that this has been, at least in the most shadowy ways, implemented? If one were to explain “eminent domain” to someone who has no education in government policy they’d probably think you were making it up (in reality, this is all made up). That the State can decide that land you “own” needs to be appropriated for its purposes or, in many cases, have been lobbied by a private company to seize said property, would cause looks of confusion upon the faces of those who weren’t indoctrinated to accept it as justified.
The word own in the previous paragraph is quoted due to the reality of property taxes. Many have argued that their existence is proof that you never own your property. Some have tried to use gymnastics to get around this argument but normally end up injuring themselves in the process. Recently, a 79-year-old veteran was evicted from the home he inherited from his parents, who had bought the house in the 1930s. The home had been paid off long ago, yet, he was still required to pay “property taxes” on it. Property tax is any tax on real estate or certain other forms of property. The proceeds from property taxes represent one of the principal sources of income for local and state governments in the U.S. Basically, it works no different than income tax. You have something, the State charges a fee for you possessing it, and if you don’t pay it, they take away “your” property. In the case of income tax, they throw you in a cage, or take “your” property. “Free country”
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax
Does this really need to be fleshed out? “If you make this amount of money, we extort you for this percentage, if you make more than that, we increase it!”
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance
I’ll take “what is estate and inheritance taxes for $500, Alex!” And, before you think there are not people in mainstream outlets questioning why others should be able to pass along what they’ve acquired to their progeny, here’s an article by a prominent journalist doing just that.
4. Confiscation of the property of emigrants and rebels
As was detailed previous, the government has given themselves the right to seize “your” property because they have written the laws and they enforce them. Is it possible to call someone accused of a crime a “rebel?” It has come to many people’s attention in the last decade that local police (THE GOVERNMENT), have been given the ability to seize the possessions of individuals that they only suspect of a crime. Civil Asset Forfeiture is used by local, county and state police as a way of enriching their coffers. One may only be accused of a “crime” in order for them to confiscate all of their assets. And good luck getting them back even if you are found innocent. Law enforcement will do everything to hamper the process.
Recent reports have shown that on an annual basis, police are taking more from citizens that “criminals” do.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly
This is where you’re supposed to do an internet search for the Federal Reserve and find out that this plank is fulfilled. Recommended reading should be Ron Paul’s 2009 book, “End the Fed.”
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transportation in the hands of the State
The FCC controls all electronic communication in the U.S. The Communications Act of 1934 established this.
As far as transportation goes, one question, often asked unironically, “Who will build the roads?”, is the direction that explanation should take. Whether it be the Federal Highway Act of 1916, or the Interstate Highway System, of which planning started in 1944, these are government-run. The Interstate Commerce Commission gave Congress the power to regulate trucking and shipping within the country.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan
The Department of Commerce, Agriculture, Interior… the EPA. Can this be argued?The Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1933 demanded farmers will receive government aid if, and only if, they relinquish control of farming activities. Many have heard that farmers are often paid not to grow. This is central planning at its finest.
8. Equal liability of all to labor
Whether it be social security, welfare or the implementation of the minimum wage, it would seem the duo of Marx and Engels are an influence on those in charge who would call themselves capitalists and free-marketeers. It appears they always have been, even before they wrote their book.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the population over the country
If you were to dig deep a correlation with Plank 9 could probably be found, but the aforementioned gymnastics may become tiring.
10. Free education for all children in government schools, Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form, Combination of education with industrial production
I would suspect that even those who say, “We don’t want no communism in ‘Murica!”, would be completely on board with government schools and even fight for it. After all, the public-school teacher is one of three professions in this country that are not to be criticized as a whole. They are to be “white-knighted” for, as are police and military. And, let’s not ignore the “free” part of the plank. Everything the government has is stolen from someone else. Everyone pays for public-schools, even if you do not have children.
That there are people who openly express disdain for communism/socialism and believe America is neither of these things is a tribute to how successful the previously mentioned government schools are. Plank 10 is the pillar for the previous 9 and since being instituted has been the scales on the eyes of “good ‘Muricans” who’ve swallowed whole the line that what has been created, that has followed these planks, if not to the letter, but in spirit, is somehow not socialism/communism.
Pete invited Jen the Libertarian to return to the show. Jen recently did a podcast entitled, “Against the Dead Consensus,” in which she tore apart a manifesto put out by “conservatives” in which the language and ideas espoused, sound an awful lot like Soviet-era propaganda.
Pete invited Jen the Libertarian to come on the show and talk about her recent podcast where she took apart the teachings of the ‘Communist Manifesto’ that was written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.
Mance welcomes Gene Epstein to the show. Gene is an economist and former editor at Barron’s Magazine who now is the Director of the Soho Forum Debate Series in NYC.
Recently, Gene participated in a debate with Jacobin Magazine founder Bhaskar Sunkara. The referendum was, “Socialism is more effective than capitalism in bringing freedom to the masses. At the beginning of the event Gene mentioned that his mother was a “card-carrying communist” and that he is a former “Democratic Socialist.”
Mance asked Gene to come on the show to talk about his family, his former beliefs and what brought him to libertarianism and Austrian Economics.
The EU as a political construction is in a state of terminal decay. We know this for one reason and one reason alone: its core principle is the state is superior to its people. A system of government can only work over the longer term if it recognises that it is the servant of the people, not its master. It matters not what electoral system is in place, so long as this principle is adhered to.
The EU executive in Brussels does not accept electoral primacy. It shares with Marxist communism a belief in statist primacy instead. The only difference between the two creeds is Marx planned to rule the world, while Brussels is on the way to ruling Europe.
The methods of satisfying their objectives differ. Marx advocated civil war on a global scale to destroy capitalism and the bourgeoisie, while Brussels has progressively taken on powers that marginalise national parliaments. Both creeds share a belief in an all-powerful executive. The comparison with Marxism does not flatter the EU, and suggests it has a limited life and that we may be on the verge of seeing the EU beginning to disintegrate. Despite economic evolution in the rest of the world, like Marxian communists, Brussels is stuck with a failing economic and political creed.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
It has no mechanism for compromise or adaptation. A rebellion from Greece was put down, the British voted for Brexit, which is proving impossible to negotiate, and now Italy thinks it can partially escape from this statist version of Hotel California. The Italians are making huge mistakes. The rebel parties forming a coalition government want to stay in the EU but are looking to exit from the euro. Putting aside the impossibility of change for a moment, they have it the wrong way around. If they are to achieve anything, they should be exiting the EU and staying in the euro. Let me explain, starting with the politics, before considering the economics.
In Italy, the two parties forming the latest coalition are too frightened to blame the EU, and instead propose to beg for debt forgiveness and say they are considering leaving the euro. But without a clear vision, and understanding why the Italian electorate is discontent, this coalition will turn out, in one of Boris Johnson’s memorable phrases, to be comprised of little more than supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies. Greece is the precedent. This makes it easy for the EU to deal with the Italians. They will get nothing.
The economic argument, that Italy would be better with her own currency, is insane. With a history of weak irresponsible governments, it is far better for the currency to be beyond Italy’s control. However, Keynesian commentators are sympathetic to the weak currency argument, believing that the euro was constructed for the benefit of Germany. Italy, along with the other Mediterranean members, is said to be paying the price. This, they allege, is the fatal flaw in the one-size-fits-all euro. This interpretation of the monetary situation is baloney. It ignores the fact that Italy’s debt rocketed after the formation of the euro, because the cost of borrowing for Italy fell towards Germany’s borrowing rates, thanks to the guarantee of eventual unification. The difference was Germany borrowed to invest in production, while the Italian government borrowed to spend. The problem today is the profligacy of the past has caught up with Italy, and its government must stop borrowing.
Setting up a lira alternative, or the mooted “mini-BOTs,” is an ill thought out concept that only makes matters worse. The mini-BOT proposal appears to be for an issue of certificates backed by future tax revenues to be used to pay the government’s creditors. They would then circulate like bills drawn on the state, but at a discount to reflect both their time value and the fact they are not euros. It seems to not occur to the promoters of schemes like this that the state’s creditors will insist on payment in euros.
Promoters of schemes like mini-BOTs are monetary cranks, incentivised by a desire to avoid reality. The Italian government has been using this sort of hocus-pocus for years, mostly with securitisation of future income streams, such as the national lottery. Mini-BOTs appear to be a proposal for just one more throw of the dice.
It’s hardly surprising that the Italian people are fed up with their establishment and feel they can only collectively undermine it by voting against it at election time. But it is too late, because the state, and therefore the banks, are already irretrievably bust, a fact barely concealed by the ECB’s funding of the Italian government at near-zero interest rates through the purchase of government bonds. Not only is the ECB in denial over Italy’s financial situation, but also Italy is firmly imprisoned.
EU Banks are Insolvent as Well
The disruption of an Italian withdrawal from the euro would be fatal for the EU’s banking system on at least four levels.
The support from the ECB for the Italian banks would be withdrawn, which would have the potential to allow a cascade of bank failures in Italy to develop, either as a result of bad debts crystallising within the system, or due to balance sheet deterioration from falling Italian government bond prices.
Problems for banks will arise when past loans remain denominated in euros, while their balance sheets are transitioned into a new, weakening currency. The Italian banks lack the margins to weather lop-sided balance sheets, whose assets are denominated in a declining currency relative to the currency of their liabilities.
There will be a rush for residents in other Eurozone countries to reduce and eliminate their Italian commitments, amounting to a banking run against the whole country. The only political solution would be to impose draconian capital controls between Italy and the rest of the world, including other EU member states.
Lastly, there is the threat to the ECB and the euro-system itself.
These require little elaboration, expect perhaps for the threat to the ECB and the euro-system. The ECB has been buying large quantities of Italian bonds, effectively financing the Italian government’s excess spending, at yields that are ridiculously low. In effect, the ECB has put itself in an impossible position, and as the Italian situation worsens, the debate over the fate of TARGET2 imbalances is bound to intensify.1 These are shown in the chart below, which is of balances at end-March.
So long as the euro-system holds together, we are reassured that these imbalances do not matter. However, with the Italian central bank in debt to the system to the tune of a net €447bn, how these imbalances would be dealt with on an Italian exit from the euro without a collapse of the system is an interesting question. And it is worth noting that Spain’s central bank is also in the hole for €390bn, just in case the Spanish electorate, or even the Catalans or Basques get ideas of leaving as well.
The Bundesbank is owed a net €896bn and will be extremely nervous about Italy. The ECB itself also owes a net €235bn to all the national central banks. When the ECB buys Italian government debt, the Banca d’Italia acts on its behalf. The Italian bonds are held at the Banca d’Italia, and the money is owed to it. To the extent the ECB has bought Italian bonds, the overall negative balance at the Banca d’Italia is reduced, so its deficits with the other national banks in the system are actually greater than the €447bn shown, by the amount owed to it by the ECB.
In short, it is hard to see how Italy can leave the euro without the ECB having to formally guarantee all TARGET2 deficits. It is not impossible and the guarantee is already implied, but the ECB won’t want anyone questioning its own solvency, so we can safely assume an exit will not be permitted, for one simple reason: the system and the banks in it are only solvent so long as the system is unchallenged.
The question over Italy’s euro membership may not arise anyway, because the new coalition does not yet know what it wants. The Italians must also be dissuaded from their desire for debt forgiveness, for the same reasons the Greeks were similarly deterred. And as the Greeks found, trying to negotiate with the EU and the ECB was like talking to a brick wall. The Italians will experience the same difficulties. We can dismiss any idea that because Italy is a far bigger problem, they have negotiating clout. A brick wall remains a brick wall.
So far as Brussels and Frankfurt (the home of the ECB) are concerned, they are always in the right. The European project and the euro are more important than the individual member nations, and their electorates have no say in the matter. We often take this to be arrogance, which is a mistake. It is worse: like Marxists, the eurocrats have unarguable conviction on their side. Across the table will sit the Italians, with no political beliefs worth mentioning, and all too readily frightened by the consequences of their own actions.
This is the way the EU works. Inevitably, in a faceless statist system such as this there are always problems at the national level to deal with. Then there are localised difficulties, such as Deutsche Bank, whose share price tells us it is failing. But in that event, it will doubtless be rescued because of its enormous derivative exposure, the containment of eurozone systemic risk, and German pride. The ECB has shown great skill at bluffing its way through these ands other problems and is likely to continue to succeed in doing so, except for one particular circumstance, which is the crisis stage of the credit cycle.
The Credit Cycle Will Be the EU’s Undoing
It is a common misconception that the world has a business cycle: that merely puts the blame on the private sector for periodic booms and busts. The truth is every boom and bust has its origins in central bank monetary policy and fractional reserve banking.
A central bank first attempts to stimulate the economy with low interest rates, having injected base money into the economy to rescue the banks from the previous crisis. The central bank continues to suppress interest rates, inflating assets and facilitating the financing of government deficits.
This is followed by the expansion of bank credit as banks recognise that trading conditions in the non-financial economy have improved. Price inflation unexpectedly but inevitably increases, and interest rates have to rise. They rise to the point where earlier malinvestments begin to be liquidated and a loan repayment crisis develops in financial markets.
It is fundamentally a credit cycle, not a business one. Central bankers do not, with very few exceptions, understand they are the cause. And the few central bankers who do understand are unable to influence monetary policy by enough to change it. By not understanding that they create the crisis themselves, central bankers believe they can control all financial risks through regulation and intervention, which is why they are always taken by surprise when a credit crisis hits them.
For these reasons we know it is only a matter of time before the world faces another credit crisis. The next one is likely to be unprecedented in its violence, even exceeding that of the last one in 2008/09, because of the scale of additional monetary reflation that has taken place over the last ten years. The further accumulation of debt in the intervening period also means that a smaller increase in price inflation, and therefore a lower height for interest rates will trigger it.
My current expectation is that a global debt liquidation and credit crisis is not far away and will occur by the end of Q1 in 2019, perhaps even by the end of this year. The problem is a global one and we know not where it will break. But once it does, the ECB and the euro will possibly face the most violent deflation in modern history, even exceeding the global slump of the 1930s. We know in advance what the supposed solution will be: monetary hyperinflation to bail out the banks, governments and the indebted.
The effects on prices in the Eurozone are unlikely to be as delayed as they have been in the current cycle, partly because of the sheer scale of the issuance of new money and credit required to stabilise the financial system, partly because the euro is subordinate to the dollar as a safe-haven currency, and partly because of its limited history as a medium of exchange.
If I am only half right over the timing of the next credit crisis, it will be at the same approximate time as Britain is due to exit the EU in March 2019. Logically, Brexit should not be deflected by the credit crisis and the Eurozone catastrophe, but the statist instincts of the British government could be to put the whole Brexit process on hold in the interests of global government unity, at least while the management of the larger credit crisis is addressed. The coordination of policy at the G20 level seems bound to take precedence over potentially disruptive political issues such as Brexit.
So, despite the referendum commitment, even Britain may continue to be trapped in the rotting EU super-state for a while longer, defying the wishes of the electorate. As foreshadowed in Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, the EU and the British government will take the opportunity from crisis to increase their control over their individual peoples, eroding further the limited freedoms left to them.
Meanwhile, the British find themselves in a similar position to the Italians. The EU simply refuses to accept the British electoral mandate, because so far as it is concerned, it is not a matter for British voters. Brussels is reassured that there are powerful forces in the British establishment that will undermine Britain’s negotiating position. They are confident that Britain will never leave the EU, because it won’t be allowed. Consequently the British Brexit team finds it is trying to negotiate with that uncompromising brick wall.
The Marxist-like certainty in the EU’s position compares with the British lack of commitment to any sound position. The Conservative government only pays lip service to free markets, unwilling to argue the case for them. Nor can it stand up for the principle of democratic supremacy of the British electorate, which, despite the mantra of acting on the instructions from the referendum, it appears willing to compromise. It turns out that despite the efforts of Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, the British government, like the Italians government, turns out to be a supine protoplasmic invertebrate jelly, which places its short-term survival instincts above its electoral responsibilities.
At this point, we can only surmise that, like the old Soviet Union, the EU’s political grip remains as firm as ever. The problem is that the denial of free markets and the supremacy of the super-state are gently rotting the EU from within. The Euro-sceptic instinct to abandon it for a more progressive world outside the EU is surely right. But the EU’s precariousness will only be fully exposed by the next credit crisis and the ECB’s monetary response to it, which will end up collapsing the euro.
Recently on the social-media circuits, a short video of individuals smashing solar panels has been shared with much eagerness. The narrative quoted above the video has ranged from a condemnation of Islam, the third world, low IQ demographics, and Africa in general. The video comes from India. It is a short clip depicting indignant Indians vandalizing the property of a company that had not paid them in some time. Despite information about the event being quickly found, the true story behind the footage does not matter. The intention is to bolster a world view based upon cultural supremacy, despite any smug and glaring ignorance displayed in doing so.
This is a microcosm of wider elements, just one clip that has been hijacked by supremacists and racialists to exhibit just how backwards and demented the “lesser humans” are: a modern day human zoo, showcasing the barbarity of the uncivilized, the non Western. It is nothing new, and it is to be expected from certain hate groups and divisive elements that seek to blame others for their own woes or for the peril of a wider, more perfect society. But it is becoming more widespread, especially among many who claim to hold up the flames of individualism and liberty.
Libertarianism and its many related forms are supposed to be based upon a non-aggression principle, many of which — whether left, right, or simply principled — are supposedly wary of hierarchies, collectives, and most of all coercion. This is a common hallmark of many of those adhering to such philosophies, with deviations and scale relating to property and the role of government, if any, in supporting individual rights being the most contentious aspects. Yet many on social media who commented and shared this video along with its progressive narrative claimed to be libertarians. Some even adopted the handles of Rothbard and used words like “liberty” in their profiles. These individuals are to many the face of a wider philosophy; a philosophy that tends to confuse its detractors as much as its supposed followers.
No ideology is perfect. They are all made up of imperfect human beings. Yet individualism and the acceptance that we are all different as individuals seems obvious. It is apparent in our every day interactions, and yet those who claim to understand this and to embrace it fall back to a vile need to relegate so many others into a clunky defined collective. This is nothing new. It is, in fact, crucial to most movements, to blame and demonize the outsider to suggest an impeccable supremacy of ones own pure identity only to have it defiled by the outsider and their toxic influences. The liberty movement often irritates those outside its fold because it is meant to be above this; its righteousness is in its nuanced values for circumstance and individuals.
In recent times libertarians have attached themselves at the hilt with right-wing blowhards and nationalists, granting them passes so long as both can gang up on the left and celebrate in “capitalism” and western, civilized exceptionalism. It is in many ways a form of “white man’s burden” to spread the virtues of “free markets” and, for some, the rule of limited law. To the right, it is merely rhetoric. But to their buddy libertarians, it is a utopia that they hold dear, so long as they keep swinging right. Often both can unite in a desire to close borders or to extend their military’s reach into distant lands. Security and murder is the religion of the modern right. That seems to be okay with their comrade libertarians, so long as its brown and poor people. The above mentioned video is one in many that only illustrates the eagerness to ignore or omit facts so long as it helps push a crude agenda.
It is the little obvious regard for the poor and the downtrodden that often harms many inside the liberty movement. It is where the left tends to find a foothold among the truly poor. As economically illiterate as the left and its socialist solutions may have been throughout history, there at least lingers the intent and language of compassion — a benevolence that is missing from many inside the liberty movement who seem to concern themselves with their own wealth and even nationalism, which is often in opposition with liberty. It is no longer with the adherence to charity and consideration for those who for whatever reason are not as “ blessed” as others. Instead, an ideological view has arisen by which to blame the people in the dirt: to ignore police, governance, war, exploitation, history, and geography simply to spit at the suffering and point at them smugly through a computer screen declaring they are the fault for it all.
Many inside the liberty movement can agree that truly free-market capitalism has not existed. The capitalism that they imagine, that they champion, is often not the capitalism that the left or many of the poor have experienced. The reality is that the word “capitalism” is a leftist term. It is embraced by many inside the libertarian and anarchist movement with little appreciation for the fact that the word has many meanings. It is an ignorance of history and of those men and women who helped to conjure and define economic and philosophical thought. Neither “side” will truly come to an agreement so long as one champions a word that is to many others a slander. So, instead, the left uses capitalism as a derogatory slur referring to hierarchies, exploitation, cronyism and so on, while many ancaps and libertarians hug onto this slur proudly, never truly defining or proving otherwise the benefits of the free market, as opposed to capitalism.
For those in places of consequence and poverty, capitalism tends to mean corruption, exploitation, cronyism, mercantilism, and colonialism. It is the oppressor’s ideology. The notion of free markets and entrepreneurship is denied and often squashed. Communism, on the other hand, is now synonymous with genocide. Communist regimes have murdered millions upon millions of innocent beings, but genocide is not limited to such coercive regimes or the political-economic ideology. Genocide, and democide for that matter, transcends communism. Just as those on the right claim that real capitalism has never existed, many on the left who identify as communists will often claim that “true” communism has never been realized. And they would most likely be correct. Like free-market capitalism, no real form of utopian socialism has ever existed nor is it likely to ever exist. That does not mean that those ardent believers in communism cannot strive and hope for a fictional Star Trek society to someday manifest itself.
Lost in the wilderness of the mundane, and beyond the exchanges of memes, academic conversations, and political bluster, millions of human beings live their lives with little ability to steer their own, let alone combined, destinies. The luxuries of terms like capitalist and communist, whether praise or slur, is distant to them. They only know the consequences of both, whether the real or imagined definitions. The agendas of many inside the relatively luxuriant regions of the Earth is to use them as props or labor. In any case, the ease in which the dirt poor are exploited is terrible.
The smart devices that are taken for granted exist thanks to the precious earth often ripped from the poorest peoples’ soil. They mine for it. And then when those obsolete or out of trend devices return to their continent, they are expected to recycle them with great risk to health and little reward so that those aristocrats of geopolitics may wait in lines for the newest and best device, even if it differs little from the previous ones. The technology may be different, but the imbalances between those who suffer and those who do not is not. While intellects like Matt Ridley can propose that the world is better than it ever was with a general truth, such optimism is relevant to where one is. To those doomed to war zones, prison states, or who only serve as labor for regimes or corporations, such optimism is not rational; it is a luxury they do not have.
The libertarians those who are from the right — those who took a left term and helped to manufacture it into almost solely a “right” one — are often mute on the poor. They view them with disdain, or simply declare that the market will take care of them — that some how, with one ideological stroke of a wand, all of the impoverished ills of this world can simply be fixed. Some how, if only the poor people embraced Austrian economics and free-market principles, then they will be free of their poverty. It is a childlike and religious perspective that even those who consider themselves politically atheist seem to hold dear. Many inside the third world survive because they understand economics and the marketplace better in actual practice than any Chicago, Austrian, or Keynesian-trained professor. For them, however, it is often a black market that they need operate in, because their usually Western and IMF supported government inhibits their instincts for free enterprise and business.
That is unlike the meme factories on social media, who are likely recipients of welfare and student loans, tenured academics who live on state or college funding despite any ability to survive in the market place, or those who work for a government or corporation because it offers a safe income while they profess liberty and free markets. Those who are poor simply survive as best as they can. Their ideology is necessity and not a choice to be lifted and dropped according to the trends and what persuasive guest appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast or triggered SJWs in an interview. Their perspectives are, and shall be for a long time, drastically different.
The battle for liberty is not a national one. It never has been. It is an individual one. A fight for one’s own intellectual and moral principle, despite the incursions of simplistic narratives. It is not a crusade, just as it is not a jihad, but it is a fight and salvation riled into one. Those who claim to be libertarian, anarchist, or what have you, those who boastfully chant “liberty” absent of compassion for the circumstances of others, should rest alongside their own self-interest. It is not a compassion bred into socialist welfare programs but one that considers that the world is different for those inside the “shithole” countries. Not because they want it to be that way, but because often they are denied the very things many of us take for granted. These are the victims of war and coercion that should be aided to fight back against the state, not ridiculed and “bombed” into ash.
The poor are not simply poor because they are dumb or suffer a low-race-based IQ, despite attempts by pro-Trump libertarian celebrities to push this narrative. They are not poor because of any Marxist class theory either. However, there are rich and poor. And until many realize that they are wealthy so long as they have access to shelter, running water, and can buy food daily, compared to the millions who have none of these aristocratic privileges, then a common appreciation for what is most important in life can seem lost. To be free of bombs, sanctions, concentration camps, and where one is expected to surrender their labour for so little so that those already with so much can enjoy cheaper commodities. The imbalance does exist. Those suffering can find a way out but only in being freed up and convinced that freedom is the answer through examples of liberty and not exploitation in the apparent name of it.
Liberty belongs to everyone. It is not something that we can make happen overnight. It is also not something that we should dare deny others, whether directly or indirectly. Sanctioning, even through rhetoric, the misery of millions simply because it serves a national interest; or embracing racialist theories because it helps a nationalist to sleep better at night, assuming others bring about their own suffering thanks to a natural backwardness, is terrible but simplistic. Liberty has its own agenda; it cannot afford to embrace other ones. It can not afford to defile itself with a celebration of injustice and coercion simply because it seems easier to do so. Liberty only needs its own message. The right, the left, and all the rest need liberty, even when they claim otherwise. The only difference between “us” and “them” is that “we” seek liberty for everyone, not just for ourselves. So, what is your agenda if not liberty?
It’s no secret that China hasplaced an incredible amount of importance on 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and the Asian superpower has and is taking steps to ensure the affair, set for October, goes off without a hitch.FromReuters on Thursday:
“China is tightening security for next month’s twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress, cancelling police leave in Beijing, limiting tourism to Tibet, and clamping down on the spread of political rumors.
“High-level meetings in China are typically accompanied by a security crackdown — as well as uncharacteristically smog-free blue skies — with the stability-obsessed party not wanting to run the risk that anyone or anything offers a distraction.”
Continuing, Reuters notes that Chinese authorities and their enforcers in the streets will tolerate no political protests leading up to and during the event:
“Some 2,000 delegates will converge on Beijing for the Congress, staying at hotels across the city, and security will only get tighter as its opening nears, meaning any protests will be quickly shut down.”
This is because China puts a high value onperception, national unity, andloyalty to the party. Perhaps this is best evidenced by the actions of the country’s leader in his urging of Chinese artists to direct their work toward the betterment of China.From state-run China Daily on Thursday:
“President Xi Jinping called on the country’s cultural workers and artists to focus on the people during their cultural creation work, thereby providing strong spiritual power for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
“Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remark in a recent instruction on the country’s building of spiritual civilization.
“Noting that culture is the bugle for the progress of the times, Xi said that the country’s cultural workers and artists should work for the people and socialism. He encouraged cultural workers and artists to boost innovation, be dedicated and make continuous efforts to produce excellent creations.”
Highlighting Xi’stightening grip on power — at the Congress, the leader isexpected to appoint his own trusted people to key positions in the government — a member of the influential Standing Committee, Liu Yunshan, backed his president’s play while speaking at the same seminar as Xi on Wednesday:
“The cultural workers and artists should learn and implement the president’s culture and art thoughts, devote themselves to cultural creation, and make more excellent cultural products, he said.”
And while China’s political leaders encourage unity, the country’s Thought Police are intensifying efforts. It’s long been recognized that China is more aggressive than Western nations in policing its cyberspace, but ahead of the Party Congress the government is taking sharper aim at dissidents. AlsofromChina Daily on Thursday:
“Chinese cyber police and leading tech firm Baidu have launched an online service to control the spread of rumors.
“The service is imbedded into the country’s top search engine, and all news portals and online forums that Baidu operates.”
All this focus on harmony and a “One China” is precisely why the independencemovements in Hong Kong and Taiwan are such athorn in the superpower’s side. How can China promote strength and unity to the world when two of what it considers its territories want to break away?
The problem is perfectly encapsulated in China’s current relations with Singapore, as Reutershighlighted on Thursday:
“China wants to improve its military relationship with Singapore, but is resolutely opposed to any country having defense ties with self-ruled Taiwan, China’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday, obliquely criticizing Singapore’s Taiwan links.
“China is suspicious of the city state’s good military relations both with the United States and Taiwan, claimed by China as its own.”
The current Taiwanese government is a remnant of the one that was forced to flee the mainland to escape the communists in 1949. While the country is recognized internationally as an independent state, China has never accepted that reality.
Hong Kong, on the other hand, is not a country but a “special administrative region” of China that retains a high degree of autonomy. That’s been the situation since 1997, following Britain’s decision to relinquish control of the area in the 1980s.
But concerns over Chinaexerting its influence over the region were there from the start and eventually culminated into mass, coordinated protestrallies that began in September of 2014.
The desire for independence has onlygained strength since then.According to the South China Morning Post, on Thursday — the third anniversary of when the protests kicked off — the co-founders of the movement “implored the people of Hong Kong to continue to fight for universal suffrage and defy what they say is Beijing’s resistance to democracy in the city.”
China wants to present a unified front at the upcoming National Congress. It wants to prove there really is only “One China,” as it’s always said. The problem with that, as is becoming increasingly clear, is that not everyone under the country’s supposed control feels the same way.
Beijing — As tensions continue to rise — andaccelerate— over North Korea and its missile program, China’s President Xi Jinping gave his highly anticipated speech at the 90th anniversary celebration of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Tuesday.
In his speech, presented at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi outlined strategies to continue China’s societal advancement, emphasized loyalty to the governing Communist Party of China (CPC), and praised the modernization of the country’s military.
But it was Xi’s other remarks on China’s military that held the most significance for other players in the region. Xi made it clear Tuesday that while China seeks only to peacefully develop its own national interests, the armed forces stand ready, willing, and able to beat back any attempt to thwart China’s ambitions.
“The Chinese people love peace. We will never seek aggression or expansion, but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,” Xisaid.
This goes for internal factions as well, Xi noted, referencing both sovereigntydisagreements with Hong Kong and Taiwan and political opponents to the CPC.
“We will never allow any people, organization or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country at any time, in any form,” hesaid. “No one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit that is harmful to our sovereignty, security or development interests.”
Xi also stated that only through loyalty to the CPC can China’s military continue to grow:
“To build a strong military, [we] must unswervingly adhere to the Party’s absolute leadership over the armed forces, and make sure that the people’s army always follow the Party.”
Xi pointed to history in asserting China’s core principle of civilian control over the military, as Reutersreported Tuesday:
“Quoting Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China, Xi said: ‘Our principle is that the party commands the guns, and the guns must never be allowed to command the party.’”
With party loyalty as a basis, President Xi directed the military — which he heads — to be prepared for a military engagement at any time.From the South China Morning Post:
“Xi also asked the military to focus on preparations for war, and urged its leaders to improve capabilities in modern warfare and combat readiness. The military should be ready to win a war whenever needed, he said.
“As commander-in-chief of China’s military, Xi said that with the unprecedented changes happening around the world, China’s armed forces are the bottom line guarantee for defending peace and security.”
Though he did not point to any situations specifically that would require China’s military to be at a default state of readiness for war, it’s difficult to imagine that Xi wasn’t referring chiefly to heightening tensions over North Korea.
As Anti-Mediareported Monday, the U.S.flew two B-1 bombers, accompanied by fighter jets from Japan and South Korea, over the Korean Peninsula over the weekend. It was a show of force following North Korea’s latestfiring of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday.
President Donald Trump didn’t help matters when hetweeted, once again, about how “highly disappointed” he was with China for continuing to fail to do more to rein in Kim Jong-un. China wasted little time in pointedly responding through both official statements and the media, as highlighted in a July 30 Reuterspiece called “China hits back at Trump criticism over North Korea.”
Things were complicated further still when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson roped Russia into the situation, saying in astatement that “China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat” posed by North Korea as they are the “principal economic enablers” of the country.
Like China, Russia didn’t take Tillerson’s comments lying down,calling U.S. criticisms baseless in a statement released by the country’s foreign ministry:
“We view as groundless attempts undertaken by the U.S. and a number of other countries to shift responsibility to Russia and China, almost blaming Moscow and Beijing for indulging the missile and nuclear ambitions of the DPRK (North Korea).”
All this comes as China officiallyopened its first overseas military base on Tuesday in Djibouti, a small but strategically positioned country on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean. It’s no coincidence that the opening coincided with the 90th anniversary celebration, as the base’s operation represents the kind of Chinese development and advancement President Xi highlighted in his speech.
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