COI #221: Biden Must Make Concessions to Defuse the Ukraine Crisis

COI #221: Biden Must Make Concessions to Defuse the Ukraine Crisis

On COI #221, Kyle Anzalone discusses the Ukraine crisis. Biden has overextended American commitments and now must make concessions to defuse the crisis. Even if it leads to war, the Blob will demand that Biden hold firm against Putin. While the US continues to take aggressive positions against Russia, behind-the-scenes talks could be working towards a deal to prevent such a war. 

Kyle talks about the U.K. High Court’s ruling that Assange can appeal his extradition to the U.K. Supreme Court. The decision is key in the Wikileaks founder’s fight for freedom. However, Assange will remain entangled in the UK justice system for months. 

Kyle updates Saudi’s brutal war in Yemen. Following a Houthi drone strike on the UAE, the U.S./Saudi air war on the people of northern Yemen accelerated. After knocking out the internet, Riyadh dropped American-made bombs on a youth soccer game and a migrant detention center.

Kyle looks at the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban took control of the country in August, the U.S. levied a brutal economic war on the Afghans, sending millions to the brink of starvation. The U.S. is talking with the Taliban this week. The Taliban, as well as the UN, are pushing the U.S. to unfreeze Afghan government accounts. 

Kyle breaks down the career paths of former Trump defense officials. Many are joining smaller tech firms’ boards. The smaller firms give more control to the former officials to direct the companies.

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The War Over Your Mind

The War Over Your Mind

Attention is the new currency.

This isn’t an original thought. For decades there has been competition for your mind and attention on a multitude of fronts. With the popularity of social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle the efforts have only accelerated.

The speed at which information travels today is exhausting. Information overload is a real thing, and everyone is feeling it.

The other day, a young man approached me and said, “Man, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I used to have so much energy, but ever since COVID I feel so tired all the time.”

At twenty-five years old, he should be hitting his prime, but instead he’s burdened by the weight of the ever-changing narratives, lies, and gaslighting coming at him from every direction.

Even as I sit here, I know the message I wish to convey, but my mind is a jumbled mess of information that is peripherally relevant to the burdens of the modern age.

How does one discern what to pay attention to and what to ignore?

Censorship

Over the last few years (after Trump’s surprising victory) the decision as to what information and news the masses ingest is being monitored by the elites and corporate press. The rise of alternative media, especially large podcasts, has fueled their panic, and pushed their attempts to control the narrative into overdrive.

The big tech companies took it upon themselves to determine what was allowable discourse. They ran mass censorship campaigns against anyone that said anything that challenged the power and prestige of the elites. What was once common speech among friends and colleagues is now hate speech. Comedians, politicians, and independent media personalities were depersoned and ostracized from the public square, social media platforms.

“It’s a private company, bro,” became the battle cry of the blue-check class and their useful idiots. But none dare take on the actuality that these “private companies” are funded and utilized by governments and intelligence communities around the world to track and trace dissidents.

This dystopianism didn’t stop with Julian Assange, Alex Jones, and Donald Trump. As more people have come to depend on Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter for news and information we’ve seen respected doctors and researchers deplatformed and search results throttled to curb “dangerous” voices and “disinformation” that challenges the approved directives of the elites. Even the Financial Times is publishing stories promoting psyops as crucial in the fight against disinformation. After Joe Biden asked publicly for tech companies to censor opposing voices DirecTV quickly announced they were dropping OAN, a right-wing populist news agency, from their list of networks.

In their attempts to control the information the elites are creating more division among the citizens. Soon there will be parallel societies in operation in these United States.

Alongside Right

In J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night an underground economy has been created by Agorists. The competing gray-market thrives while central planners destroy the nation’s economy. As the financial system crumbles the state attempts to crush the Agorists, but they’ve so effectively created a parallel marketplace that the state is helpless to stop the tidal wave. The state fails under the weight of its policies and the competing underground market.

In the late 80’s when Schulman wrote the novel revolutionary economic success was pie-in-the-sky, but today it is more attainable than ever. Crypto currencies and blockchain technology are becoming more popular; under COVID lockdowns small businesses were deemed nonessential while multinational corporations raked in more profit than ever, the Federal Reserve printed off trillions of dollars the political elites happily distributed to their cronies while throwing crumbs to the citizens they determined to be unnecessary, the supply chains were destroyed leaving shelves empty in cities across the nation; and the SEC quietly created an ESG taskforce to police the investments of Americans while the large corporations ushered in their own egalitarian standards that will surely devastate large swathes of the country.

Throughout the devastation of the COVID tyranny small business owners and workers that could not afford to sit around and wait for permission from the political class thumbed their nose at the lockdowns. There were surges of news stories about churches opening despite orders to close, the return of speakeasies, hairdressers arrested for daring to cut hair, and millions of people exchanging goods and services in an underground economy forced upon them.

All the while we were meant to believe that the virus made it too deadly for you to live your life while the rich got richer by the day, and if you questioned the motives of the COVID regime you were labeled a dangerous, science denying, right-wing conspiracy theorist that must be silenced.

This demonization of people, some very liberal, as right-wing, labeling half of the country as backwards hicks, and the unwillingness to allow people to choose their own risks created the environment for conservatives to become ever more rebellious to the regime. COVID transformed from a potentially deadly virus that people should be aware of to a political battle. One was either on the left, embracing the dictates of the political class and enrichment of their corporate masters, or they were on the right, battling the tyranny and carving out their own economic paths.

Gaslighting  

From day one the messaging around COVID was an obvious sham. There was little doubt that the entire goal was to instill fear into the public, exacerbate the virus into becoming the largest crisis known to man, and usher in a corporate-centric governance of equity among the citizens while the establishment remained on high collecting more wealth, power, and influence at your expense.

Unfortunately, the gaslighting didn’t start with COVID.

It would be impossible to trace back all of the propaganda of the U.S. government and how it has been utilized to rob people of their liberties, so I’m going to focus on the era at hand.

The modern era of gaslighting the public, and the way we see this psychological tactic used today was a response to Donald Trump’s presidency.

For years we listened to Democrats and media personalities decry Trump as a traitorous Russian puppet. When no charges were filed the pundits were in tears because the incompetent boob that couldn’t read presidential briefings had outsmarted the FBI. And though we’ve found out that the entire Russia investigation around Trump was a plot cooked up by the DNC and FBI there are those that still claim the most incompetent president ever is a brilliant criminal mastermind. (But you’re the crazy one.)

When Trump asked Ukraine to investigate the ties of Biden and Burisma due to a recording of Biden admitting to bribing Ukraine to fire the official investigating Burisma Trump was impeached for bribing Ukraine to investigate bribery… (But you’re the crazy one.)

When Time published an article admitting to the rigging of the 2020 election for Biden you were a crazy conspiracy theorist for referencing the article.

When you said they were not going to stop lockdowns after 15 days, you were crazy.

When lockdowns went on for a year and you pointed out that you had said that was going to happen, you were crazy.

When you said masks don’t work, you were crazy, and now that they admit masks don’t work, you’re still crazy.

When you asked about Moderna and the NIH sharing ownership of the MRNA vaccine patent, you’re crazy.

When you said COVID wasn’t deadly for children, you were crazy.

When you read data, you’re crazy.

When you point out the redistribution of wealth from the productive class to the parasitic class, you’re crazy.

When you say they are counting “with” COVID as “because” of COVID, you are crazy.

When BLM protested the virus couldn’t spread, but when conservatives rally or protest it is a super spreader event.

Natural immunity is no longer a thing and locking yourself in a dark room with bonbons is much healthier than going outside and exercising.

Everything you thought you knew is wrong, and the new science of totalitarianism is the truth.

Etc…I could go on all day.

The point is, the facts are not the facts until those with the monopoly on facts tell you that the facts are in fact the facts, and if you dare read, think, question, or disobey you are a dangerous biological weapon wanting to kill grandma.

You Are Not Alone

The effects of COVID, political oppression, and the corporate press’ agenda are evident in the eyes of everyone I encounter. The average person that does not regularly engage in political discourse or question authority has been completely demoralized and feels like they have nowhere to turn. They feel alone. They feel silenced. They feel insane.

If you’ve read this far, I suspect you, like me, are looking for people that are witnessing and feeling the pressure of the regime and are ready to push back against the narrative.

The fact is you are not alone. Millions of people around the world feel just as you do.

So, how can you fight back?

It would be easy to write a rant that left you seething and not offer any solutions, but I refuse to do that. Before we get to the solution, we must identify the problem.

America was founded on the idea of self-governance. As imperfect as the founding of the country was it was the founding of an idea to move forward and progress into more freedom and liberty for its citizens. God, family, and country were the hallmarks, and order of importance for which we were to live our lives and build the nation.

Over the last century the myth (by myth I mean the origin story not the derogatory perversion of the term) of God has been corrupted and dismantled, the family has been destroyed, and the idea of country has come to mean that your well-being is given its value and purpose by those elected to represent you.

The political class of parasites that feed on your labor and successes have spent the last few generations selling out the future for their own gains and comforts. Your children and grandchildren are expected to be sacrificed on the altar of their desires.

Parents are no longer expected to sacrifice themselves for the well-being of the children’s future, rather, children are to be tortured and psychologically abused by society so that the boomer generation may have everlasting life.

The destruction of trust in the political system and the corporate press has trickled down and eroded trust among Americans. Even those that should be allies are suspect of each other.

There is no more community structure in which citizens feel like they belong. The illusion of power and respectability of government is the only thread holding any of this together; the same government selling out the future to corporate interests.

If we are to retain any semblance of civility and liberty it is up to us to begin to repair the fractures that have torn families, communities, and allies apart. We must begin to interact and engage in our local communities, boycott corporations like Amazon, Walmart, Costco, and the U.S. government. Involve yourself in local elections, buy from your local markets, seek out small, specialized companies, and reject the lazy one stop shopping with the goal of strengthening the bonds of your community.

As long as we allow ourselves to be secluded and divided for convenience the power reserved for the people will continue to be consolidated. You are not alone, but if you don’t work to build and strengthen the bonds with those that share your values, ideas, and desire for liberty you may as well be.

1/13/22 Andy Worthington on the Twenty Years of Abuse at Guantanamo Bay

Scott is joined by Andy Worthington, author of Guantanamo Files to discuss the status of the prison two decades after it opened. Worthington explains who remains detained at the prison, where detainees stand regarding trials and the developments that have happened under Biden so far. Scott and Worthington also discuss the shameful history of the illegal prison.

Discussed on the show:

Andy Worthington is the author of Guantanamo Files and the director of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo.” Read his work at the Future of Freedom Foundation and AndyWorthington.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @GuantanamoAndy.

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: The War State and Why The Vietnam War?, by Mike Swanson; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; EasyShip; Free Range Feeder; Thc Hemp Spot; Green Mill Supercritical; Bug-A-Salt and Listen and Think Audio.

Shop Libertarian Institute merch or donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal or Bitcoin: 1DZBZNJrxUhQhEzgDh7k8JXHXRjYu5tZiG.

The Sapper in the Sewer

The Sapper in the Sewer

“The enemy was nowhere, but everywhere.”- Dan Rather, CBS News Report, Saigon, 1968

As the world approaches a period of unmanned systems, automation, and perhaps in many fields human obsolescence, warfare marches into its own future of certain uncertainty. Despite the great leaps in technology, warfare is very much the domain of the imperfect human. Perhaps in the not too distant future artificial intelligence will guide and “man” killing machines against one another and human beings. Engineers and geniuses will create and devise such killing machines to ensure that governments stay standing and expand their reach while always ensuring that there is profit from the techno-violence. But technologically inferior humans will resist and perhaps overcome as they always have.

The Vietnam War has been described as a “technowar,” a war of managers and planners who utilized their technological supremacy against a peasantry and second class enemy that resisted despite many short comings. For the planners and engineers, technology and complicated systems were the answer. Technology and superior ideas and methods are often the wisdom and hubris by which great powers wage wars. At times they will achieve victory, eradicating the enemy and absorbing them into their nation or empire. And when the great fail against the weak, a litany of reasons are sought but never are the will and resilience, determination and conviction of those defending ever properly appreciated until it is too late.

Twenty years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the United States military went home and in many ways the status quo returned to the region despite so much effort and loss. A horrible war by any measure. The objectives of the invaders, whether Soviet in the past or NATO in the more recent era, were never truly distinct. The basic goal was to prevent the capitulation of a proxy government, one that was never popular, after which Kabul still fell. Wars where wisdom and hubris existed alongside each other, and those on the ground who were observing from afar could see in the living minutes what was wrong, but the experts and planners persisted regardless, ever so confident and certain of victory, despite the uncertain aims. The powerful empires, Soviet and American, wrapped in the armor of resources and armed with immense weapon systems, failed under the incompetence of their own arrogance. And a determined human enemy won.

Whether in the jungles of South East Asia or the caves of Central Asia, the objective was often simple for the defender: eject the invader and reject the invader’s puppet government. What brought the insurgents to such a cause may at first have been deviant self-interest or religious idealism but for many it was a patriotism that the invaders in their own histories had experienced and romanced. The Soviets had once been those ejecting a powerful invader while the Americans were once proud insurgents. Greatness changed both their perspectives.

The well-armed invaders viewed the native populace as threats or the enemy. Whether walking through a village or observing via screens far away, the natives are unfamiliar. Regardless of how benevolent the invaders claim themselves to be, the natives are often considered as being inferior. For the locals, the strangers from afar may as well have come from another planet, alienated by ignorance of local customs and language while heavily relying upon superior technology and academic central plans of subjugation. Their perspectives would have been as different even if they were from off planet.

During the 1968 Tet Offensive, it is argued that the U.S. did not lose militarily, only politically. It was a coordinated offensive between insurgents and North Vietnamese military personnel attacking key targets of the U.S. and their allies. The impressive and expensive U.S. embassy in Saigon came under attack while a handful of insurgents managed to infiltrate and give the U.S. government a symbolic bloody nose. The flea had bitten the dog.

The Gardener and the Warrior

There is a samurai saying; “Better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener in war.” And while this may be true for individuals, it ignores the importance of will and perspective. The gardener is not always just a gardener. When circumstances call upon them, whether through vengeance or a need to defend the home and garden, they become the warrior. Ones craft is defined by how they ply it. Most great warriors did not commence their lives with the ambition of being a war fighter and many who practice the martial trades in peacetime do not necessarily achieve victory in war. Most warriors by trade serve a master; this is their duty. Often duty requires them to venture into the gardens and face a man defending his everything, regardless of any peacetime trade and his tools at hand.

There is footage of a slender man, perhaps in his early twenties, almost naked being dragged from a sewer drain. His body is drenched in slime, he is armed with a pistol and perhaps a grenade or explosives. He had been crawling through the narrow sewage pipes of Saigon. With great discomfort and risk, he did this in the hopes of gaining entry into the government buildings during the 1968 Tet Offensive. One could never imagine that a man would be able to make the journey through such filthy pipes, and would risk his life and health while enduring such discomfort in the hope that he may plant explosives or shoot a government official. That’s determination.

The great planners with their war games, think tanks, and millions of dollars in research and technological marvels could seldom conceive that such a factor is important. It is not calculable, you can not duplicate it in training and among academic discussions it is not understood. That is the will to overcome, not just to survive but to kill the enemy, to outlast and destroy him. Such will is important. It cannot be trained. It needs to come from purpose and perspective. While the insurgent captured in the sewer tried to crawl his way to fight, some of his comrades had blown holes in the U.S. embassy’s walls and rushed into the compound, fighting to the death. They did not destroy the U.S. embassy, but they had bitten an empire.

The many governments of the world often invest time and resources into training police and military units that then become the elite. The elites that train hard are made up of individuals of great will and skills. They are those who are often depicted in fiction as being nearly superhuman, the men of the special forces. Unique humans are expected to perform with inhuman ability, to act as tools for their government.

The modern overreach of many governments has exhausted and over utilized these elite warriors, expecting them to perform missions that are almost impossible and then requiring them to do it again. In retirement some become celebrities while others may be lost to the strain and injury of their profession and experiences. These men who can usually perform great tasks are expected to be both mathematicians and elite athletes, operate complicated weapon systems while also performing paramedical acts under great stress. They are the warrior to the gardener.

Their enemy usually do not have such training, skills, or logistics. The government elites usually have regular military forces on standby, ready to back them up with aircraft and maritime vessels to extract them and provide support. Their enemies may at best have converted trucks and in the past bicycles and mules. It is uncertain how skilled that man in the sewer was. What had he done before the war? perhaps he was a gardener. As he crawled the sewer he had become a “combat sapper.” In that moment he was the machete inside the jungle of conflict, his utility was his simplified focus. His logistics was resilience and will. Though captured, his failure was in some ways a victory. As he was filmed and dragged into custody, his pathetic state of sewage slick nudity contrasted with the uniformed men of the government.

Inside a decade Saigon fell.

The Engineer

In a recent episode of a Dan Carlin hosted podcast titled “Engineering Victory with Elon,” Elon Musk discussed the importance of the engineer in warfare and how the engineer was often ignored by the historians. Musk made some interesting and relevant points. Engineers are crucial, and they are often downgraded after the fact, compared to the strategists and political leaders of war. Musk went on to make the case that technological supremacy is the key to victory and that the U.S. government could have won in Vietnam if it had of “wanted’ to.” Musk claimed that the U.S. government fought the war with the aim of preserving civilian life. Carlin politely mentioned the fact that the U.S. had destroyed nearly every building and village in North Korea during that war. But the issue was not pressed. Carlin did not mention the extensive civilian death count, not only in Vietnam but in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. Instead the conversation returned to the importance of technology and air supremacy.

The mindset that any great power could win any war if it really wanted to is one that is held by engineers like Musk and it is also the self-preserving declaration of the defeated imperialist. How does one win an insurgency? Wars between governments is one things but against the “people” it becomes a harder to define path to victory. If the goal is to kill every person in a region, to turn a nation into glass, then certainly the United States or any nuclear armed nation could do this. Is that victory though? And was that the aim and intention during the South East Asian war that the United States waged?

What were the actual goals in the wars on Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc? To kill so many people from that region that they would love the invader and assimilate? To kill those who opposed the presence of a foreign invader and anyone that fit the profile of such a defender? And then what? To turn the survivors into allies and proxies who must obey the ultimate aims of the invader? In that case then mass destruction and death is the antithesis to such aims. But to an engineer the problem is simple: to kill. To make weapons that kill as efficiently as possible. But to conquer and win an invader requires a degree of humanity and interactions with the population. There is more to it than lonely fortresses, checkpoints, and “firing lasers from space.”

If one can not define the war itself, it is hard to define who the enemy actually is. For the men and women driven by hatred, revenge, fear, ideology, faith, patriotism and even love, the aim is seemingly simple. They will endure so much just so that they can kill. To kill the invader becomes survival itself. By the end of the century drones and robots will likely dominate the future battlefield and their utility as a police and anti-insurgency weapon will be paramount. Those rejecting such control by an invader will fight with the ancient will that has stretched across all of human history. They will find a way, not through anticipation or academic conjuring, but in the moment, after gaining experience and loss.

For those who talk about war from afar, it is academic problem to be fixed by engineers and strategists. It is a comfortable and impersonal puzzle to be solved, where human lives are digits. To them technology alone is the crucial element, the trump card for dominance. Technology will not make the conquered love the invader and it cannot make them yield, only incarcerate or kill. Such defiance and determination, the crude ingenuity of the peasant, can and has overcome. If victory requires killing as many as possible then the serial killer is life’s champion. From the armchair or the tables of a think tank the blood and carnage is absent, so technical details are the fascination of calculation. For those on the ground it is never so simple. The engineer is important and often neglected but so is the human of purpose or seemingly no other choice.

A Stone’s Throw Away

It is not that the defender rejecting the invading warriors always succeeds; the past century is littered with examples of might being triumphant. In 1968, the same time that the U.S. was grappling for control in South East Asia, the Soviet Empire swallowed up those rejecting it in Czechoslovakia. A pin prick of defiance perhaps, but the spirit of ‘68 would remain decades later when then Soviet Empire collapsed along with communist rule in Czechoslovakia, succumbing to freer governance and independence. Other peoples are not so lucky and continue to suffer.

Young boys will stand in front of tanks and throw stones when they have nothing else to fight with. In occupied Palestine the Israeli government may some day soon utilize drones and non-human combatants to interact with those that it has conquered. Such technology may allow them to convert the region into the world’s largest prison. They may not be about to eradicate the Palestinians for fear of international condemnation, but they can at the very least imprison them in a dystopian city of walls, cameras, checkpoints, and tyranny. It is occurring elsewhere on Earth for those resisting the Chinese, Indian, and Venezuelan governments. There may only be a glimmer but the same instincts of defiance flicker on.

To the very bitter end, as the adults are imprisoned and killed, the children will go on fighting. It is a circumstance of misery and one where technology and an advanced military seeks to overcome an impoverished people. With an ancient spirit they will resist but they may not overcome. The reprieve in such a circumstance can only come from without, embracing the humanity of those inside. Understanding that one is not an anti-semite simply because they empathize with a Palestinian family who has lost everything due to the actions of the Israeli government. The child throwing the stone may do little damage to the tanks of the IDF but as a symbolic act of defiance it may as well be a boulder dropped from above. And when it is drone vehicles roaming the streets, children not yet born will cast rocks at them too so long as they are oppressed.

It is the enduring defiance and the yearning to be free that can give a small cadre of peasants the edge over a professional army of invaders. The drones and AI may not suffer the fatigue that a conscript or a professional soldier might, they may not suffer trauma or moral injury. The imperfections of the human killer will be removed and replaced by a synthetic one. That does not mean that the inevitable human replacement is superior or indestructible. These drones will have their own weaknesses and flaws and those fighting them will find it and exploit it because they have to. Unless of course winning means destroying everything and killing everyone.

There is no moral virtue in resistance alone, just as none exists in conquest. It is not a clear cut case of good and evil. It is the understanding that perspectives drive objectives. When objectives are intangible and unimaginable for those on the ground or among those who are charged with achieving them, it can become almost impossible to “win.” This is not limited to warfare but for most government policy. For those resisting, the victims or the others, the objective and goal are simple: an end to occupation, to be left alone, eject the invader, or even freedom itself.

To drop the bombs, run the check points, burn down villages and so on may be done in order to enforce security and support a “friendly” government.Over time one must realize that such actions lead to instability and disorder while feeding the resistance. While the frontiers were conquered, the “savages” were tamed and many aboriginal peoples have been subjugated or wiped away. The great nations have committed their genocides and replaced what was with their own. That was the victory those who claim “if we wanted to” accomplished. Modern technology also allows us to observe and challenge such a means of victory to shame and expose the violence for what it is. In both victory and defeat there will always be the warrior in the garden and the sapper in the sewer.

“Whether the primary cause of revolution is nationalism, or social justice, or the anticipation of material progress, the decision to fight and to sacrifice is a social and a moral decision. Insurgency is thus a matter not of manipulation but of inspiration.”

“I am aware that such conclusions are not compatible with the pictures of guerrilla operations and guerrilla motivations drawn by the counterinsurgency theorists who are so much in vogue today. But the counterinsurgency experts have yet to win a war. At this writing, they are certainly losing one.”

Their picture is distorted because their premises are false and their observation faulty. They assume–perhaps their commitments require them to assume–that politics is mainly a manipulative science and insurgency mainly a politico-military technique to be countered by some other technique; whereas both are forms of social behavior, the latter being the mode of popular resistance to unpopular governments.”

Robert Tabor, ‘The War of the Flea’, 1965.

Biden’s Vaccine Mandates Go to Court

Biden’s Vaccine Mandates Go to Court

You could be forgiven for assuming that just because Joe Biden began his administration unequivocally saying the federal government has absolutely no constitutional authority to enact vaccine mandates, as well as the spectacular failure of his attempt to weasel around that pesky ‘ol Constitution by making it a workplace regulation enforced by OSHA, that President Biden would have finally learned his lesson and stopped trying to use his monopoly on force to subject as many Americans as possible to non-consensual medical treatments…

Well think again.

This past week a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit rejected the Biden administration’s request for a stay of a lower court injunction barring enforcement of a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for employees of federal contractors in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee in Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Biden.

Here is how the court summarized its opinion.

In 1949, Congress passed a statute called the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (“Property Act”) to facilitate the “economical and efficient” purchase of goods and services on behalf of the federal government. See 40 U.S.C. § 101. The Property Act serves an uncontroversial purpose; who doesn’t want the government to be more “economical and efficient”? Yet that laudable legislative-branch prescription, in place for the last seventy years, has recently been re-envisioned by the executive. In November 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, under the supposed auspices of the Act, issued a “Guidance” mandating that the employees of federal contractors in “covered contract[s]” with the federal government become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That directive sweeps in at least one-fifth of our nation’s workforce, possibly more. And so an act establishing an efficient “system of property management,” S. Rep. 1413 at 1 (1948), was transformed into a novel font of federal authority to regulate the private health decisions of millions of Americans.

In response, three states (Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee) and two Ohio sheriffs’ offices filed suit. They collectively alleged that nothing in the Property Act authorizes the contractor mandate, that the contractor mandate violates various other federal statutes, and that its intrusion upon traditional state prerogatives raises serious constitutional concerns under federalism principles and the Tenth Amendment. The district court agreed. It enjoined enforcement of the contractor mandate throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It also denied the subsequent motion of the federal-government defendants to stay the injunction pending appeal. The government now comes to us with the same request. But because the government has established none of the showings required to obtain a stay, we DENY such relief.

Kentucky v. Biden is one of several pending challenges to the federal contractor mandate (which is not to be confused with the CMS mandate for Medicare and Medicaid providers or the OSHA vaccine-or-test ETS, both of which were heard before the Supreme Court on Friday). In this case, the lower court only issued an injunction in the plaintiff states. In one of the parallel cases, however, a district court entered a nationwide injunction against the vaccine requirement for federal contractors, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit refused to stay that order, but ordered expedited briefing on the merits.

Just last week, as part of a response to the new Omicron variant, Biden’s Vaccine Czar Anthony “The Science” Fauci has called for vaccine mandates to be put in place for all domestic air travel.

Although requiring vaccination of airline passengers ostensibly would be aimed at making air travel safer, Fauci sees it as a way to boost the U.S. vaccination rate. The Biden administration sees its vaccination rule for private employers, which ostensibly is aimed at addressing a workplace hazard, the same way.

While new federal government mandates meant to coerce citizens into forced medical treatments, entirely against their will, for such privileges as buying food, going out to eat, and the ability to travel are finally beginning to spark the question among citizens about whether or not this is a reasonable responses to a new variant that has quite literally only killed one person thus far (A man down in Harris County, Texas), there are good reasons to be optimistic that the courts will continue to see these mandates as the unlawful farce that they are and continue striking them down.

And all it took was the loss of our right to freedom of speech for expressing the “wrong opinion” on things like vaccine mandates, the loss of the right of free association (to choose when and under what circumstances we wish to see friends, family, business associates or medical professionals), the right to contract our labor as we see fit and of course freedom of movement.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which stayed the ETS the day after it was published, said it “grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority.” But after the challenges to the mandate were consolidated and assigned to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, a divided three-judge panel lifted the 5th Circuit’s stay, which is how the case ended up at the Supreme Court.

OSHA’s sudden decision to invoke its “emergency” powers, nearly two years after the pandemic began and a year after vaccines became available, seems dubious. So does its preference for vaccination, which unlike other workplace safety measures is not limited to the workplace.

In fact OSHA’s estimate of its rule’s benefits is based on deaths prevented by vaccination of working-age Americans, regardless of where transmission occurs. The vaccine-or-testing requirement, by contrast, applies to 84 million employees—two-thirds of the work force—in myriad industries and workplaces, with little regard to how COVID-19 risk varies across them. And it exempts companies that employ fewer than 100 people, as if the risk of COVID-19 transmission disappears below that threshold.

But these queer distinctions don’t end there. According to the government, middle-aged workers who are vaccinated face about the same COVID-19 risk as younger workers who are not vaccinated. According to OSHA, however, COVID-19 poses a “grave danger” to the latter group but not to the former.

It seems the Biden administration’s best efforts to obfuscate a general vaccine mandate as a workplace safety measure makes for an unconvincing disguise—and the chance that it will fool anybody is about as likely as the chance that anybody will die from contracting the omicron variant.

A Porcupine Peace Plan: How An Independent New Hampshire Could Increase U.S. Security

A Porcupine Peace Plan: How An Independent New Hampshire Could Increase U.S. Security

“To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”– Sun Tzu

On March 12, 2006 five U.S. soldiers violated, then murdered, 14-year-old Abeer Hamza in her home at Yusufiyah, Iraq. Then they covered up the killing by wiping out most of her family at taxpayer expense.1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmudiyah_rape_and_killings

Fifteen years and four days later, several dozen U.S. policy enforcement officers stormed a quiet neighborhood in America’s Pleasantville: Keene, New Hampshire. After using a battering ram connected to an armored vehicle, they flew a drone through the window of a home studio housing the state’s top radio discussion show, Free Talk Live. Washington claimed that some of its libertarian hosts had been selling significant amounts of Bitcoin without government permission and filed charges of “unlicensed money transmission.” The imperial capitol is seeking life imprisonment for at least one of the arrestees, with no credible claim that he even victimized anyone.2https://www.unionleader.com/news/crime/claiming-flight-risk-judge-orders-free-keene-activist-held-until-bitcoin-money-laundering-trial/article_04baa708-5613-5bc2-9f58-ac97b76616d6.html

Though different in a hundred ways, each of these federal excesses exemplified the numberless grievances which have sparked a growing pushback against D.C. in the “Live Free or Die” state. Local activists and legislators reacted with the New Hampshire Independence Amendment, also known as CACR 32. This constitutional revision would allow all NH residents to vote in a 2022 referendum on whether the state will continue being governed by Washington.

New Hampshire already has a long history of example-setting. But by striving for independence—and a more humane world security protocol—its citizens may be able to do something better. With your help, and the careful placement of a new idea on the geopolitical board, maybe our tiny new nation could even stop a world war.

NH independence proponents make a simple case. The FedGov, they say, has bloated beyond the point where normal individuals can meaningfully oppose its atrocities with conventional civics. They point to the successes of Estonian and British independence movements as well as the global trend toward “smaller nations.” In 1900 there were roughly 60 countries in the world. Now there are about 200. Meanwhile, thanks to these and other national divorces, the harm-inflicting capacity of various empires is less than it would be if they were still full-sized. Successful independence drives in America, too, should have a limiting effect on U.S. warmongering in faraway places.

But what of, say, Chinese government warmongering outside its​ borders? Whatever cruelties the U.S. government may have imposed, the nations bordering China do seem to generally prefer alliance with Washington over alliance with Beijing; some rely on D.C. for their security more than they should.

One of the main criticisms of NH independence is that it could undermine U.S. defense capability or, more accurately, American capacity for carrying out the existing commitments to NATO and Taiwan. The latter is of special significance, and we’ll use it as the focus of this discussion. But the arguments here apply to every U.S. ally.

Critics argue that America is overextended, much as Britain was overextended in the 1939 era when it guaranteed Poland against the Nazis. In those days the perception was that London had only two available courses of action: Wage war on Germany or appease Hitler by abandoning Poland. Today people imagine that we face a similar unthinkable choice as China flexes its new powers against Taiwan. An invasion of the island could trigger these same two ruinous impulses against a great resurgent Power, this time with the likelihood it would escalate into nuclear war. Taiwan’s friends, the thinking goes, would either have to commit another Munich…or defend the quasi-nation by risking civilization. Wouldn’t a New Hampshire independence drive damage America’s ability to follow the second option to victory?

Actually, there is a third option which could prevent both the evils of “big war” and the abandonment of overseas promises. An independent New Hampshire, or prospect thereof, is one way to put that path on the table. Let’s call this option the “Porcupine Peace Plan” for now…in honor of a less-threatening but better-defended posture some of us envision for America’s alliances.

This plan rests upon the barely-discussed idea that there is a great, untapped defense capacity among all reasonably-prosperous peoples, especially in Taiwan. Unlike military buildup it is a power which, when exercised, saves tax dollars rather than spending them…increases freedoms rather than reducing them. It possesses little potential for starting wars of aggression but has a proven history of discouraging them. Nevertheless, this power is often suppressed by the rulers of vulnerable nations…even as some of them face invasion or treat nuclear first-strikes as a legitimate method of self-protection.3https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/22/us/politics/nuclear-war-risk-1958-us-china.html

This seemingly magical ability…is the power of armed, individual self-defense…weapons freedom for the private citizen. And it is a power that the government of Taiwan has systematically denied to its people, at grave risk to a nervous world. The island’s gun control laws are so strict that WorldPopulationReview.com lists the number of civilian firearms there at literally zero per 100 persons (the U.S. has 120). Historically, the relative gun freedom of America helped it win the Revolutionary War and limited its risk of invasion over the following centuries.4https://davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html

We must respect the wishes of Taiwanese regarding their internal laws. But Taipei should respect our wishes when it comes to whether we risk our lives for them over their willful self-emasculation. We currently are doing exactly that at their government’s request; every last American is potentially on Beijing’s target list.5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_first_use And Taipei has unnecessarily increased the chances for war with Beijing…by keeping its civilians disarmed.

This policy cannot help but cause Taiwan to be a far more attractive target for invasion than it would be if it had weapons freedom for the average citizen. The island’s well-meaning government has formidable armed forces, but there is no substitute for the “defense dispersal” and individual initiative which comes from civilian weaponry. Gun freedom, in 1940, made fascist-surrounded Switzerland impractical for Germany to invade.6https://davekopel.org/2A/Foreign/swiss-and-their-guns.html Norway, by contrast, was heavily defended by the British Empire and nowhere near surrounded…but fell quickly when Hitler’s forces mounted an attack on “central points of failure.”7https://www.britannica.com/event/World-War-II/The-invasion-of-Norway

Gun availability for the average person can solve only so many problems, but nations which acquire this freedom also acquire a ready-made, widely-dispersed guerilla arsenal ready for use against any occupier. It lets a tiny nation do what Sun Tzu suggested, and “be like water.” When added to Taiwan’s existing military deterrent…this “scary freedom” should be enough to prevent invasion indefinitely.

Skeptical? Then you tell us: How well has the U.S. “nuclear government” fared against Afghan riflemen? Why is Beijing so terrified of guns that it has enacted some of the world’s strictest prohibitions against civilian-owned weaponry?8https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_control_in_China

Thanks to Taipei, the mainland communists don’t have much of that to be terrified of in Taiwan. They don’t have to factor civie-guns much into their “invasion equation” as Hitler did when he abandoned his plan to attack Switzerland. Ending this citizen-disempowerment could be just enough to prevent the expected attack on Taiwan. And New Hampshire can gently make the case…either through government policy or constructive private action. Here are the suggested steps to get us there:

  1. The New Hampshire Independence Amendment must get a full and fair hearing by our State and Federal Relations committee and face the full legislature without substantial alteration. This will give NHexiters new clout to advance the Porcupine Peace Plan. In the unlikely event Independence obtains legislative super-majorities on this first try, it would then go before the people. If they vote “yes” then…​
  2. Neutral by default, the newly independent nation could begin negotiations on whether it will re-join the alliances it has just departed.
  3. The negotiators should request, as a minimal precondition for re-joining, that Taiwan and other countries take steps of their own choosing to undo the invasion-friendly types of laws we’ve outlined above. It would be on the Taiwanese themselves to figure out how they want to handle this…and on us to decide whether their reforms, if any, are sufficient to win us over as renewed allies. The more weapon freedom they can offer their people, the more we’d want to join.
  4. If Taipei can’t accept this suggestion, loyally and responsibly given, New Hampshire could simply remain neutral and is probably better off that way anyhow. As Switzerland and Costa Rica have proven, neutrality can be much safer than joining an alliance. But we will have kept faith with the beleaguered island.

Even if New Hampshire doesn’t get past step one in 2022, we should at least be able to put the gun-control-helps-invaders issue on the table. And the same weapon freedom concerns which apply to Taiwan…should apply toward any potential ally, even as new personal defenses begin to replace firearms. A cheaper and more humane way of looking at security…may start to set in.

Objections

A) Crime concerns. Taipei presumably keeps its people disarmed in an honest attempt to reduce violent crime and/or uprising. Probably there is a fear that relaxation of gun laws would cause these to increase. There are not many test cases of real gun freedom in first-world Asia; we Westerners can only tell our own tale. We know that the U.S. states with the least gun control also have the least crime. New Hampshire, for example, has virtually no gun laws of its own and the second-highest level of gun freedom in America. Perhaps because of this it also has the second-lowest crime rate, and there was no violent uprising here during the 2020 unrest. Meanwhile the District of Columbia has gun restrictions comparable to Taiwan’s, “some of the strongest gun violence prevention legislation in the nation.”9https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/washington-dc/ Perhaps because of this…it also has America’s highest rate of violent crime and two semi-violent protests since 2020 which partially penetrated White House and Capitol Building defenses respectively.10https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_violent_crime_rate

The statistics are not always so clear-cut in favor of gun freedom as a crime reducer…but they do not take into account the potential—much greater—violence of the wars which gun control enables.

B ) Gun incidents—More weapons could mean more accidents and suicides; people would need to get up to speed on firearm safety. For the sake of argument let’s assume it would also mean more crime. But let’s keep these challenges in context. Taipei’s gun control has helped create a situation where the U.S. Navy is prepping for a possibly civilization-ending fleet battle over Taiwan, projected to cost it more than 10,000 lives on the first day of full engagement.11https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_keFhXPclns

C) Disruption. The Porcupine Peace Plan could trigger more independence legislation or otherwise distract Beijing’s target governments at a time when they arguably need to focus on preventing/winning the hot/cold war. If we’re an unwelcome disruption, perhaps we can make up for it. Maybe we could trigger a larger volunteer effort to help Taiwan deter invasion, with her consent. The goal should be lawful, private weapon and ammo shipments to Taiwanese civilians. But perhaps medicines or other pre-positioned supplies are doable now on an individual basis.

Meanwhile, it should not be hard for New Hampshirites, thinking, acting, maybe even being​ outside the box, to do better for Taiwan than we have in the past. Last year we were just another tiny assimilated unit in the Pacific alliance…paying taxes to the fumbling U.S. torture state but giving little thought to our sister democracy on Formosa. There is plenty of room for improvement.

D) The next objection should come from you.​ Visit to the link above if you’d like to raise concerns publicly. You can also contact me there, or volunteer to help. This idea is potentially world-changing, but I’m just another de-platformed videographer; what I can do alone is very limited without you.

Ultimately, this idea is not competing with perfect. It’s competing with the existing, terrifying options which unimaginative bureaucracies have handed us: Appeasement and nuclear war. You don’t need much speed to win a race with turtles, but urgency is indicated. For Taiwan and an honorable world peace…time is probably running out.

This article was originally featured at the Shire Forum and is republished with permission.

1/7/22 Bill Ottman on Alternative Social Networks and the Future of the Internet

Scott is joined by Bill Ottman, the co-founder and CEO of Minds — a blockchain-based social network. After Twitter banned Dr. Robert Malone for spreading alleged medical misinformation, many have been voicing frustration with the major social networks. And although some alternatives have been gaining in popularity, nothing has taken off as the new place as of yet. Ottman and Scott discuss the landscape of alternative social networks, the features these networks are offering and what we can expect as the internet continues to evolve. 

Discussed on the show:

Bill Ottman is an Internet entrepreneur and freedom of information activist based in Connecticut. He is also the CEO and co-founder of Minds

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: The War State and Why The Vietnam War?, by Mike Swanson; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; EasyShip; Free Range Feeder; Thc Hemp Spot; Green Mill Supercritical; Bug-A-Salt and Listen and Think Audio.

Shop Libertarian Institute merch or donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal or Bitcoin: 1DZBZNJrxUhQhEzgDh7k8JXHXRjYu5tZiG.

“I Hold It That A Little Rebellion Now And Then Is A Good Thing”

2022 01 06 07 26

“This uneasiness has produced acts absolutely unjustifiable,” Jefferson wrote, “but I hope they will provoke no severities from their governments.” He didn’t approve of the insurrection, but he feared how the authorities might respond. “Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them,” a fact that “should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much.”

Were insurrections like this one a threat to democracy? No, they were a concomitant of democracy. Jefferson believed that a government “wherein the will of every one has a just influence” was subject to certain unavoidable evils, “the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject.” And yet “Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs.” A small-time insurrection now and again “is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.”

Jefferson stood in a long tradition of both supporters and opponents of democracy who understood it in this light. Popular government is tumultuous government, not the sterile, clinically administered thing of today’s democracy-from-above idealists. To be sure, Jefferson’s taste for tumult was stronger than that of most people even in his own time. Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem, he wrote to Madison: “I prefer a dangerous freedom to tranquil servitude.”

Daniel McCarthy At The Spectator more here

 

 

12/30/21 Grant F. Smith on Israel’s Evolving Strategy to Sway American Politics

Scott is joined by Grant F. Smith to talk about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) new strategy for reaching U.S. politicians. AIPAC has largely operated as a lobbying group on behalf of the State of Israel. But, as Smith explains, they are now working to set up a network of Political Action Committees. This will give them more freedom to fund candidates they like, and support the opponents of candidates they don’t. Scott and Smith give possible reasons for the evolving methods. 

Discussed on the show:

Grant F. Smith is the author of a number of books including Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves America, Divert!, and most recently The Israel Lobby Enters State Government: Rise of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board. He is director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C.

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: The War State and Why The Vietnam War?, by Mike Swanson; Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; EasyShip; Free Range Feeder; Thc Hemp Spot; Green Mill Supercritical; Bug-A-Salt and Listen and Think Audio.

Shop Libertarian Institute merch or donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal or Bitcoin: 1DZBZNJrxUhQhEzgDh7k8JXHXRjYu5tZiG.

Drop Your Left vs Right Blinders

Drop Your Left vs Right Blinders

As a libertarian, I have long objected to being characterized on a left-right political spectrum (as with studies of political affiliations that group libertarians with republicans or conservatives on the right). In response to inquiries about where I fit in that framework, over the years, I have taken to saying that my views were orthogonal (meaning at right angles or perpendicular) to the framework. Since almost no one knows what that word means, those I say it to are puzzled, and ask for clarification, which allows me to explain why I fit in neither category.

I had done that for years when I came across Leonard Read’s “Neither Left Nor Right,” in the January, 1956, issue of The Freeman. Long before I came to believe what I do, Read was way ahead of me, including a more complete view of the relevant history of left versus right and a more developed explanation than I had used. As a consequence, I think his views there merit remembering.

“Why, you are neither left nor right!” This observation, following a speech of mine, showed rare discernment. It was rare because I have seldom heard it made. It was discerning because it was accurate.

Libertarians…are neither left nor right in the accepted parlance of our day.

Read then explains that there is no directional relationship between left, right and libertarian along a two-dimensional line, but that there is one in three dimensions. Libertarians want less authoritarianism of all sorts, not more of one “brand” and less of another. They believe that if liberty versus authoritarianism is viewed as the third dimension, with liberty up and authoritarianism down (reflecting their relationship to individuals’ abilities to grow into wiser, more ethical, people), libertarianism lies above the standard left-right framework.

“Left” and “right” are each descriptive of authoritarian positions. Liberty has no horizontal relationship to authoritarianism. Libertarianism’s relationship to authoritarianism is vertical; it is up from the muck of men enslaving man.

A more complete history of the evolution of left versus right than I have read elsewhere follows.

There was a time when “left” and “right” were appropriate and not inaccurate designations of ideological differences. The first Leftists were a group of newly elected representatives to the National Constituent Assembly at the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. They were labeled ‘Leftists’ merely because they happened to sit on the left side in the French Assembly.

Read then quotes Dean Russell, a fellow libertarian traveler, in “The First Leftist”:

“The Rightists or “reactionaries” stood for a highly centralized national government, special laws and privileges for unions and various other groups and classes, government economic monopolies in various necessities of life, and a continuation of government controls over prices, production, and distribution.”

While Read did not quote Russell further in this article, his understanding is worth incorporating here, as he puts it so well:

The original leftists wanted to abolish government controls over industry, trade, and the professions. They wanted wages, prices, and profits to be determined by competition in a free market, and not by government decree. They were pledged to free their economy from government planning, and to remove the government-guaranteed special privileges of guilds, unions, and associations whose members were banded together to use the law to set the price of their labor or capital or product above what it would be in a free market.

The ideals of the Party of the Left were based largely on the spirit and principles of our own American Constitution. Those first French Leftists stood for individual freedom of choice and personal responsibility for one’s own welfare. Their goal was a peaceful and legal limitation of the powers of the central government, a restoration of local self-government, an independent judiciary, and the abolition of special privileges.

The leftists were, for all practical purposes, ideologically similar to those of us who call ourselves “libertarians.” The rightists were ideological opposites: statists, interventionists, in short, authoritarians. “Left” and “right” in France, during 1789–90, had a semantic handiness and a high degree of accuracy.

But “leftist” was soon expropriated by the authoritarian Jacobins and came to have an opposite meaning. “Leftist” became descriptive of egalitarians and was associated with Marxian socialism: communism, socialism, Fabianism. What, then, of “rightist”? Where did it fit in this semantic reversal of “leftist”? The staff of the Moscow apparatus has taken care of that for us… Anything not communist or socialist they decreed and propagandized as “fascist”…any ideology that is not communist (left) is now popularly established as fascist (right).

What, actually, is the difference between communism and fascism? Both are forms of statism, authoritarianism. The only difference between Stalin’s communism and Mussolini’s fascism is an insignificant detail in organizational structure. But one is “left” and the other is “right”! Where does this leave the libertarian in a world of Moscow word-making? The libertarian is, in reality, the opposite of the communist. Yet, if the libertarian employs the terms “left” and “right,” he is falling into the semantic trap of being a “rightist” (fascist) by virtue of not being a “leftist” (communist). This is a semantic graveyard for libertarians, a word device that excludes their existence.

Read then lays out a particularly important reason why the left-right spectrum is something “libertarians should avoid.”

One important disadvantage of a libertarian’s use of the left-right terminology is the wide-open opportunity for applying the golden-mean theory. For some twenty centuries Western man has come to accept the Aristotelian theory that the sensible position is between any two extremes…Now, if libertarians use the terms “left” and “right,” they announce themselves to be extreme right by virtue of being extremely distant in their beliefs from communism. But “right” has been successfully identified with fascism. Therefore, more and more persons are led to believe that the sound position is somewhere between communism and fascism, both spelling authoritarianism.

The golden-mean theory…is sound enough when deciding between no food at all on the one hand or gluttony on the other hand. But it is patently unsound when deciding between stealing nothing or stealing $1,000. The golden mean would commend stealing $500. Thus, the golden mean has no more soundness when applied to communism and fascism (two names for the same thing) than it does to two amounts in theft. The libertarian can have no truck with “left” or “right” because he regrets any form of authoritarianism–the use of police force to control the creative life of man.

So where do libertarians fit relative to the left-right political spectrum that is so commonly used?

Libertarians reject this principle and in so doing are not to the right or left of authoritarians. They, as the human spirit they would free, ascend–are above–this degradation. Their position, if directional analogies are to be used, is up–in the sense that vapor from a muckheap rises to a wholesome atmosphere. If the idea of extremity is to be applied to a libertarian, let it be based on how extremely well he has shed himself of authoritarian beliefs.

Establish this concept of emerging, of freeing–which is the meaning of libertarianism–and the golden mean or “middle-of-the-road” theory becomes inapplicable.

Given that the term libertarian has important limitations (e.g., in addition to forcing it into a left-right spectrum, its ability to also be equated to libertine in many people’s minds, both frequently promoted by liberty’s enemies), it appears there is no single ideal word for what libertarians stand for. But that is in large part because we have to undo a commonly shared, but misleading, framework, making our task more complicated, and because those same enemies of liberty also attack every other word usage that might be used, from individualism to voluntarism. So our task requires more of a conversation rather than a mere shorthand term.

What simplified term should libertarians employ to distinguish themselves from the Moscow brand of “leftists” and “rightists”? I have not invented one but until I do I shall content myself by saying, “I am a libertarian,” standing ready to explain the definition to anyone who seeks meaning instead of trademarks.

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

TGIF: Pursue Your Happiness and Forget the Rest

TGIF: Pursue Your Happiness and Forget the Rest

How about we do something novel in the new year? Let’s stop worrying about the stuff most politicians, pundits, and activists want us to worry about and instead think about ourselves, our families, our friends, and whatever communities we choose to be part of. Let’s forget about “the country” and the rest of the world. Let’s individually pursue happiness.

All I’m saying is that it’s finally time for the politicians, bureaucrats, and know-it-all intelligentsia, left or right, to get out of the way and let us set our own agendas.

Too self-centered? Well, too bad. Much evil results from people failing to mind their own business. But what I have in mind does not involve wishing other people ill or seeing life as a zero-sum game in which you can win only if others lose. On the contrary, we benefit from other people’s, including distant strangers’, good fortune because at the very least it opens up opportunities for mutual gains from trade. (“The division of labor is limited by the extent of the market,” the wise Adam Smith pointed out some time ago.) In reality, it opens up so much more.

There’s little chance this sort of world would result in what is often stigmatized as “selfishness.” The vast majority of us understand that truly caring about oneself necessarily means caring about other people in a variety of proper ways. In fact, the person who claims to care only about himself actually cares little even about himself. That’s why mutually beneficial social arrangements have been bottom-up affairs. As Thomas Paine recognized in The Rights of Man:

Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilised community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost everything which is ascribed to government.

Yet the policy elite and much of the ideological left and right don’t want us to understand this. They have other plans for us. They always do, don’t they? So they can’t let us get it into our heads that their agendas are illiberal impositions.

The ruling establishment and its mouthpiece media try to keep us agitated by a variety of threats. As Ted Galen Carpenter notes,

In recent years, U.S. executive branch officials and members of Congress from both political parties have routinely portrayed Russia or China (and frequently both countries) as existential threats to the United States. It also is becoming increasingly common to find news articles or opinion pieces that adopt the same theme. Moreover, a significant number of politicians and analysts put smaller powers, especially Iran and North Korea, and even non-state actors, such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, in that category. The concerted campaign on the part of opinion-shaping elites to hype the danger from such sources is leaving an indelible mark on public attitudes. Many Americans now believe that their country faces multiple, horrifying threats.

More sober reflection should cause the public to conclude that the dangers are greatly exaggerated, and that the individuals, agencies, and organizations that foster such hysteria are not doing the country any favors. (“Paranoid Superpower: Threat Inflation is the American Way.”)

Do the real or imagined threats to Ukraine or Taiwan really represent existential threats to the world including the American people?

Then there’s the so-called climate emergency, which doesn’t exist. After more than 40 years of the most ridiculously bad predictions of the imminent catastrophe, it’s time for those who still take the doomsday scenarios seriously to realize that “Wolf!” has been cried too many times. The same goes for other “crises,” like the ones supposedly presented by immigrants, global free trade, and the allegedly rampant racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and the assortment of imagined phobias.

We can also tell the “woke” left and the national conservative right that we have our own lives to live, thank you very much. And, no, we don’t have too much freedom, no matter what they may think. They can include us out of their culture wars.

The point of freedom is to be left unimpeded in our own individual and voluntary cooperative pursuits. It will forever be remarkable that the Declaration of Independence specified “the pursuit of happiness” in its examples of unalienable rights. Let’s never forget it.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year!

The Human Under the Numbers

The Human Under the Numbers

The story of Anne Frank is tragic. If not for the words that she wrote in her diary, she would be a digit of history. Her diary is relatable, and the thoughts that collected inside her being during a horrible time in history gives the reader an idea of who she was. She is immortalized because of the little things that she wrote, not because of any great deeds recorded by others. As a victim of tyranny she is remembered as an innocent murdered. She is a story found inside the numbers. Thanks to her diary, we have a human figure to know and mourn, despite the mechanized bureaucratic professionals of Nazi Germany. Her name was Anne Frank, not victim c.5,780,000.

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”- Anne Frank

It would be easy to quote Stalin and his famous words regarding a single death being tragic but a million is a statistic. Such words from a man who is associated with millions of dead is perverse and also brutally honest. It is unfortunately how many of us view history and current events, where the importance of a crisis or tragedy is only valued in terms of numbers and the cost in currency or human life itself. We lost x, but they lost y, can some how scale up the perception of victory or how best to scale historical evils, based on those numbers generated.

Recently four year old Cleo Smith was found after going missing. The media and her family shared photos and told her story. At the forefront of many Australians’ minds, especially those in Western Australia, the police and volunteers searched all over for this little girl. Once she was found, social media was abound with relief, work places were full of delight. She was a human being, a precious child that was far from her family and lost to the unimaginable horrors that could befall such an innocent. In Australia around 38,000 reports of missing persons are received by the police each year. 2,600 of them remain missing for longer than three months, 150 of them under the age of 18. Such numbers can be overwhelming, impersonal while also frightening. But when one of those numbers become a living image, the community finds an energy, expresses a concern and feels fear for her safety.

Serial killers can cast an avatar of normality and friendliness that often deceives onlookers to their true nature. They may be charitable and charming. And often in the moments of their own peril, they feel fear, pain, and desperation. When captured in 1985, Richard Ramirez, “the Night Stalker,” pleaded to a policeman to protect him as he was bashed by the public that had apprehended him. His 25 innocent human victims had been tortured, raped and finally murdered. Despite his rampage of horror, including his first known victim, a nine year old girl named Mei Leung, Ramirez was married in 1996 and then again engaged to a much younger woman in 2013. During his trial he had scores of fans that wrote him and visited him. His victims became props in a narration about a villain that was adored by some.

Other murderer-rapists gained similar attention; women desiring them and men admiring their fame and body of work. Despite holding a pariah status in any society, these human beings have a fanbase who either are aroused by them as individuals or become fascinated by their crimes. The victims are scratched down as a kill count, the gruesome details in the moments leading to their deaths are discussed and romanticized with a perverse fascination. With insensitive delight the man of monstrous conduct is humanized and his victims are dehumanized as moments by which to define the murderer’s greatness.

History is full of the great figures, whose greatness was built upon a legacy of carnage and death. Thousands, and at times millions, of human beings brutally killed to satiate the will of a few, guided by a self-serving narrative and in time massaged by a historical story of generosity. Context is often the term used to dull the truth of mass murderers and the ability to omit details can at times ensure the virtuous standing of those considered great. Their victims are merely numbers, if they are admitted to have existed at all.

Would Thomas Jefferson and George Washington be as revered if we knew in intimate detail their relationship with their slaves? if we understood history from their victims perspective? Would such details change the events of their time and complicate their pretty prose about liberty? If the narrative of history was told from the truly oppressed? Perhaps it would be from their slaves where we could find a greater understanding of what freedom truly meant. A perspective of contrasts and one that is unfitting of the narrative that popular history portrays for such great men who stand at the mountain of supposed freedom and liberty, despite the realities of their time. But often the slaves owned by such men are numbered like livestock, and devalued beneath the greatness of their masters.

There is that view of history that if not for those like Winston Churchill or Julius Caesar, that no other could accomplish as much as, given similar positions and circumstances of history. That the millions of other actors surrounding their deeds were insignificant and absent of any personality or virtue. It is the fixation of personalities and the upholding of these great people  over time, for better and worse that removes the responsibility from those who actually do the killing. Each Crusade or Jihad, in any guise, often seem to need a figurehead by which to lead the charge, however symbolic, even when they are far removed from the violence and deeds that become synonymous with such a cause.

Men like Hitler and Stalin are the sole monsters of their regimes and other politicians should be taken away in handcuffs by the police. It takes a radical view to understand that perhaps it is those very police who should be bound and led away by the individual citizens of a community. If not for such uniformed people, no Hitler or Stalin or any other politician for that matter could realize their perverse ideals. The victims of thousands and millions would not be possible if not for the zealots and professionals that make up mobs and armies. Each figure of that mob and army is a morally responsible actor, as unique as their many victims.

The reporting of disaster and war is often done in a way that values numbers, it is easily digestible and gives the reader intellectual ammunition or a moment to weigh up the cost against other tragedies they have no personal investment in. Usually the greater the numbers or the more those numbers relate, i.e. with nationality, ethnicity, or religion depending on the circumstances, then the higher the value of concern. The more that such an event lingers in the public’s mind the more it generates a reaction.

It is why the thousands murdered during the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States are considered to have greater value and sorrow for most in the Western world than the millions killed since in reaction. For most in the west a New Yorker has a relatable characteristic, even to someone from Australia or the other side of the United States. An Iraqi child, whether starved from an embargo or blown to pieces by bombs, has very little worth generally speaking to those same people who are so ‘appalled,’ ‘horrified,’ or ‘terrified’ when death visits those considered similar to them. It is precisely how such severe reactions and their anger, passion, and fear can be directed into such a powerful impulse that government can steer it in any way it wishes (and usually does). It is the same way inciters of terror can so easily recruit willing killers to their cause.

When that same government murders hundreds of thousands of children, the numbers are squabbled over or even omitted. At times this isn’t even done by media outlets but by the common person, since for most it is just not that important. That child is insignificant. Sure, many will claim that a child’s innocence and life are sacred for a moment, only for them to switch conversation points or to focus on another matter. When that child is known, given a name and made relatable, it becomes harder to ignore. And yet inside the civilized mind of the comfortable, such willing ignorance is the privilege that is often undervalued. It is a wealth of distance and disassociation, to support and even contribute something so deadly and impactful, while admitting little to no guilt. It is the ability to scroll on once such a truth invades the voyeur’s news feed, the choice to ignore it and move on.

Sadako Sasaki is a name that some schoolchildren may have learned about when they were told about the horrors of atomic bombs. Sadako was two years old when the U.S. government dropped an atom bomb over Hiroshima in 1945. When she was twelve Sadako fell sick, like thousands of other victims that did not die immediately from the blast. She had leukemia, one of the many outcomes from such a weapon. Sadako made origami cranes from paper in a hope to cure herself and others. Despite her illness she remained diligent in making the small cranes, attaching a wish for others with each of the hand crafted birds. She would die at twelve surrounded by approximately 1,300 cranes that she had made, some as small as a grain of rice. There is now a statue of young Sadako erected in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.”- Sadako Sasaki

Most schoolchildren in the West learned about Sadako and her cranes during the height of the Cold War. Not perhaps out of any guilt on the part of their governments and what had been inflicted upon an innocent child, but because the specter of nuclear war was ever apparent. It was a tale reminding each of us that such a fate could perhaps befall all of us if the evil Soviet Empire crossed the Elbe and waged war. It was a story that seemed to be told about us and for us, not one that was about a little girl who suffered in a miserable war won by the Western allies and their Soviet comrades.

Sadako was not born when the Japanese military raped much of China. She was not born when it attacked Pearl Harbor. And even if she was, she had no say or control over what the government that ruled her did. Just as a child born inside of a liberal democracy has no control over the actions of the government that is elected, Sadako was as fragile as one of her paper cranes when compared to the great events of history that would take her life and immortalize her name to history. She was a human being, an innocent. It is estimated that 66,000 died in the blast from the bomb detonated above Hiroshima and many thousands more died in the decades afterwards, like Sadako. Each one of them were human beings, but as subjects of a historically pariah national government they are viewed dimly. That is the perspective of the victors and those with the privilege to view history through a binary view.

It is the cold perspective of good and evil, us or them that allows incredible numbers of death to be reached. When a child is allocated to a collective, to belonging to a group that is considered the opposite, it then becomes easy to kill. To starve, burn, bayonet, shoot, or blow to pieces a small innocent child becomes from a distance a statistical outcome. It is not intimate terror or a moment of horrific violence. Instead it is an action that occurs because a greater ambition needs to be realised. That small child can be infected with leukemia or burned to a cinder while inside their cot with little regard to the suffering of their innocence.

Those making these decisions very rarely consider themselves wicked or evil. Those pulling the trigger or dropping the bombs are not doing it with the glee or delight that a serial murderer would. They are protected in their minds of any blame by a belief in a greater cause or duty. It is this belief that allows history to repeat itself with such bloody rhythm. It is done with professionalism on the grandest of scales and among the streets and villages the innocent possess a passion and derangement based upon a segregation that only war can invent. Sadako is not just a little girl who was considered a fast runner before she got sick, but just a ‘Jap.’ She needed to be punished because men she had never known raped and murdered other little girls while serving a government that imposed itself upon the land in which she was born.

Sadako Sasaki did not need to die, anymore than Mei Leung did. But because one was brutally taken by the ‘Night Stalker’ she is almost universally agreed to be considered an innocent victim, brutally murdered by a horrible man. When thousands of other children were murdered and injured by the Enola Gay their innocence and the deed is weighed up by those who will excuse the most horrific outcomes underneath the guise of context. The crew of the Enola Gay are not seen as evil men, though they murdered more women and children than Richard Ramirez. The victims become statistics, abstracts that belong in the pages of history that are used to scale the weight of war. When one peels back the layers of those numbers faces are found, lives are discovered.

When visiting the torture and murder camps of the Khmer Rouge or Nazi governments, those that remain as museums of remembrance, the many faces of the victims are on display. The human beings that suffered beneath the tyranny of collectivization and statistics, reading out raw numbers of how many were murdered is not enough. The numbers become so great that they loose value. The eyes of the victims remain as ghosts that should haunt us all these years later, for beneath those eyes was the spark of a living creature as imperfect as you and I. It is in the ability to dehumanize, to slur one with a category and to ultimately allocate one as being just another digit. That is the mentality of the central planner, those that view humanity with an inhuman logic for death and destruction while claiming order and security. There are millions more children whose names and stories we will never know. But we know Anne, Sadoko, and Mei, each of whom were girls, killed by those who looked beyond their dignity, and murdered by those who felt they had a right to do so. They were not numbers, but just innocent as are all of those buried beneath the statistics of death.

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