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Transporter 3's Libertarian Villain

I watched the third installment of the Transporter franchise last night. A pretty mediocre action movie compared to the first one, and even less entertaining than the sequel.

Still, I found this part interesting:

Is it just me or is this the most sensible movie villain ever? I would personally like to see more libertarian bad guys in Hollywood movies.


Tweak Your Terms

Want to be a more persuasive classical liberal? Want to avoid some of the perennial perils and pitfalls of anti-state arguments? Try updating your libertarian lexicon. Here are some terms and suggestions I've heard thrown around that I really like.

1. Say "freed market" not "free market."

From the always awesome William Gillis:

You'd be surprised how much of a difference a change of tense can make. Free market" makes it sound like such a thing already exists and thus passively perpetuates the Red myth that Corporatism and wanton accumulation of Kapital are the natural consequences of free association and competition between individuals. (It is not.)

But "freed" has an element of distance and, whatsmore, a degree of action to it. It becomes so much easier to state things like: Freed markets don't have corporations. A freed market naturally equalizes wealth. Social hierarchy is by definition inefficient and this is particularly evident in freed markets.

It moves us out of the present tense and into the theoretical realm of "after the revolution," where like the Reds we can still use present day examples to back theory, but we're not tied into implicitly defending every horror in today's market. It's easier to pick out separate mechanics in the market and make distinctions. Also. Have I mentioned that it makes an implicit call to action?

2. Avoid "capitalism" and "socialism."

Roderick Long in his "Rothbard's 'Left and Right' Forty Years Later":

Libertarians sometimes debate whether the "real" or "authentic" meaning of a term like "capitalism" is (a) the free market, or (b) government favoritism toward business, or (c) the separation between labor and ownership, an arrangement neutral between the other two; Austrians tend to use the term in the first sense; individualist anarchists in the Tuckerite tradition tend to use it in the second or third.[12] But in ordinary usage, I fear, it actually stands for an amalgamation of incompatible meanings.

Suppose I were to invent a new word, "zaxlebax," and define it as "a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument." That's the definition — "a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument. " In short, I build my ill-chosen example into the definition. Now some linguistic subgroup might start using the term "zaxlebax" as though it just meant "metallic sphere," or as though it just meant "something of the same kind as the Washington Monument." And that's fine. But my definition incorporates both, and thus conceals the false assumption that the Washington Monument is a metallic sphere; any attempt to use the term "zaxlebax," meaning what I mean by it, involves the user in this false assumption. That's what Rand means by a package-deal term.

Now I think the word "capitalism," if used with the meaning most people give it, is a package-deal term. By "capitalism" most people mean neither the free market simpliciter nor the prevailing neomercantilist system simpliciter. Rather, what most people mean by "capitalism" is this free-market system that currently prevails in the western world. In short, the term "capitalism" as generally used conceals an assumption that the prevailing system is a free market. And since the prevailing system is in fact one of government favoritism toward business, the ordinary use of the term carries with it the assumption that the free market is government favoritism toward business.

And similar considerations apply to the term "socialism." Most people don't mean by "socialism" anything so precise as state ownership of the means of production; instead they really mean something more like "the opposite of capitalism." Then if "capitalism" is a package-deal term, so is "socialism" — it conveys opposition to the free market, and opposition to neomercantilism, as though these were one and the same.

And that, I suggest, is the function of these terms: to blur the distinction between the free market and neomercantilism. Such confusion prevails because it works to the advantage of the statist establishment: those who want to defend the free market can more easily be seduced into defending neomercantilism, and those who want to combat neomercantilism can more easily be seduced into combating the free market. Either way, the state remains secure.

3. Please, please, please, don't call it "anarcho-capitalism" or yourself an "anarcho-capitalist."

Murray Rothbard played an invaluable role in developing the movement and ideology of modern libertarianism. The unfortunate term he coined for his brand of icy-pure liberalism is not representative of the rest of his legacy.

Anarcho-capitalism is a term that aims to displease. Any leftist worth his salt most probably reserves the term "capitalist" as a universal label of opprobrium for everything that's wrong with the existing order--just like we use "statist"--and this will immediately turn them off. Worse yet, talking about anarchistic capitalism with social anarchists sounds like your are mixing together the familiar and beloved with the detestable, and is a good recipe for a black eye. Even if you can fend off bodily harm long enough to explain what you mean, you're still going to face an uphill battle against their subconscious, visceral response. There's a reason you'd complement a Chinese person on their "mother's pickled canola root" rather than their "mom's rape."

It's also just an ass-ugly phrase and makes you sound silly to people anywhere on the political spectrum.

If you didn't get the memo, the cool kids are into "free-market anarchism" or "market anarchism." If you're trying to navigate the mindfields of an academic career, maybe you pull a Randy Barnett and make up something like "polycentric legal order."

4. Support "de-monopolization" instead of "privatization."

From Steven Horwitz:

I would like to see us ditch the term “privatization” for two reasons. First, many of the things government does and then “contracts out” are things that no one should be doing in the first place, either publicly or privately. The use of private contractors in Iraq is the most obvious example here. Libertarians need to join, and many have joined, those on the left who have objected to the use of private contractors to do the dirty work of the war. We need to make it quite clear that this (and the war more generally) is not what is meant by free markets, despite what people like Naomi Klein seem to think.

Second, in the cases where state-provided goods and services could be better supplied in the market, the real goal is not “privatization” but “de-monopolization.” What advocates of free markets should be arguing is that the monopoly privilege bestowed by government is the source of trouble, regardless of whether the organization receiving that privilege is public or private. Rather than selling off or contracting out these monopoly privileges, we should abolish them and reduce any other barriers to entry in the industries in question.

If you hew to these rules I think you'll find it easier to tip-toe around people's prejudices and ingrained responses and slip dangerous ideas into their heads. Good luck!


Direct Democracy: Power to the People!

Via David Broockman at the Flaming Libs blog, a study that suggests "that localities with direct democracy have much lower government spending as compared to those with representative democracy."

This contradicts a lot of my conservative friends who, fancying themselves aristocrats, tend to argue that the rabble would vote themselves bigger and bigger entitlements and fritter their money away on faddish programs without the wise hand of a (democratically assented to) representative elite to check them.

I'm in no position to judge the social science behind the study, but I think there are many reasons to favor direct democratic decision making as a second-best alternative to contract and anarchy.

  • Direct democratic referenda are about the only form of electoral politics where libertarian laws can get considered seriously and where libertarians can vote without holding their noses. Think of things like Prop 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California.
  • Direct democratic voting avoids a lot of the problems with log-rolling and special interests. It's prohibitively expensive, both due to the transaction costs and total number of electors involved, to bribe off the entire voting population.
  • A serious commitment to direct democracy naturally tends towards the decentralization of power and smaller jurisdictions. The unwieldiness and slowness of direct democracy are features not bugs. Because of the hard limits on the number of questions that can be seriously considered and voted on, a direct democratic system will of necessity tend to cleave to the principle of subsidiarity, the notion that decision making should be deferred to the smallest competent units.
  • Another feature of the ponderousness of direct democracy is that in many situations, cooler heads would prevail. If it had required several months for the gears of democratic legislation to turn, there would have been more debate regarding the response to 9/11, especially things like the PATRIOT Act, and more time for people's emotions to cool down.
  • The slowness of direct democracy would also give the market and civil society a shot to solve problems and get a head start on government intervention before the state could bring the hammer down. Perhaps the question of a financial bailout would be a moot point by the time voters got to decide on the issue and one reason that the internet is so free is that it changes faster than bodies like Congress can react to regulate it.

I find the example of Switzerland very encouraging. Direct democracy has a long history in Switzerland and the country is notably more decentralized, libertarian, and conservative than most developed countries.


Kid Rock & Dale Earnhardt Jr. lend a hand recruiting cannon fodd...erm..."Citizen Soldiers"

All-American Kid "And if you arrest me you dumb cop/I'll find your daughter and I'll give her this cock" Rock, serves his country with this stirring ode to the National Guard.

Choice lyrics:
So don't tell me who's wrong and right
when liberty starts slipping away.
and if you ain't gonna fight,
get out of the way.

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I love how the Army National Guard only pays for the best talent at the peak of its popularity to record their recruiting music. For another example, check out this 3 Doors Down video "Citizen Soldiers."

I saw the latter video at a theater during the advertisements before the movie "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," a movie in which the characters' response to discovering an ancient underground golden city in South Dakota is eclipsed by their awe-struck wonder at meeting the President of the United States.

Ha ha, take that Theophanes!
# Constant - 12 posts
# Theophanes - 12 posts

If it's a post war you want Constant, you got it, because I AM A WARRIOR.


He saw the Chuck Baldwin sticker on my Corvair and...

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Brad Spangler: Is Ashley Todd Lying?
"Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old college student and McCain volunteer, admitted on Friday that she made up a widely reported story about being mugged by a so-called big black guy at an ATM in Pittsburgh."


Optics and Astro-physics Make Me Vote for Obama

Seen in a blog comment:

TO THE NEXT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA NEW PRESIDENT:

SIR:

"MAY I CALL YOU "O" ?"

Because of MAIN STREET !

Because of WALL STREET !

Because of the final electoral sprint - ending soon next coming november 2008 - while THE WHOLE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA has its eyes on YOU.

Everyone expects You to be democratically elected and see that something happen in America.

In March 1983, one of humanity's most famous spokesmen, Pope John Paul II, came to our country - 'Haîti' - and loudly proclaimed what each and every one of us had been whispering:

"Something must change here !"

Today, more than ever, a lot of people of The United States of America stand up, longing for something and working to make something happen.

"Go thou America ahead and show us thy true countenance in a positive light.' It is up to everyone to play his or her part in order to let thee regain thy mark of excellence !"

With this letter, I am communicating with You, SIR, and with the whole people of The United States of America.

You offer this country what it takes to be a 'Wonderfull Land.' Yes, let us say 'with a great people living and working together.'

Go thou, America, go ahead, following in the footsteps of one of thy sons who is now becoming one of thy statesmen.

With this in mind, to whom else could I entrust this letter sent to his Holiness Pope John Paul II when he set foot on Haitian soil for the first time, as well as its acknowledgment by the Vatican?

That letter to Pope John Paul II is intended to draw attention to the problem posed by anti-Black discrimination and its negative repercussions on the advancement of scientific progress in the West, and more precisely in the realm of Optics.

In the Western world, according to Newton's widely accepted theory, white is considered to be the synthesis of all colors. Actually, the opposite is true. White constitutes the analysis or 'visible' decoding of light or color, whereas black is its synthesis or 'invisible' composition.

In other words, darkness or blackness and, we might add, "Black Holes'" - a scientific misnomer designating invisible stars or 'Black Suns' - are a source of energy and light. Scientifically, Industrially and Economically speaking, what an asset !

That basic raw material of light energy culminates, in its most radiant form, in the neutralization of all the colors of the spectrum in the form of usually called "white light."

Therefore "absolute blackness", the absorption of all the colors, is a divisible component of light. Needless to say, Newton's theory gives only a partial interpretation of the notion of light, by excluding black. Our contribution aims at demonstrating that the black color is not only an integral part of the color process, but its true synthesis. Light is therefore shown to be a divisible whole comprising an intensity or color scale in which black is the invisible or 'absorbed' form of the energy in question.

Allow me, SIR, in order to support my statement concerning Black Holes and radiation, to pose a question asked by Hubert Reeves, Doctor of nuclear astrophysics and Scientific Consultant to NASA:

"What would have become of the Sun, if it were plunged into a high temperature radiance like the one that existed at the beginning of the Universe? [our translation]"

"Instead of emitting light, it would absorb it and, in the end, it would be completely reabsorbed into the cosmic fluid."

The cosmic fluid is what, due to an "optical mistake", is called "darkness" or the "blackness of Space". We are talking about the electromagnetic flux, that immeasurable ocean in which the planets and stars are bathed, like the sea which links all the continents together. Darkness is thus "The Sea of Space."

"What would have happened if, instead of an ordinary star like the "White Sun", a Black Hole or "Black Sun" were injected into that primordial radiation?"

"According to Einsteinian Physics, a Black Hole is a place where gravity is so formidably intense that nothing can escape it, not even visible light. Such a hole should suck in and absorb radiation and increase its own mass: E=MC2, always."

"But after Einstein came Bohr, Heisenberg, and Quantum Physic. From then on, nothing was the same as before."

"The Einsteinian version of the Black Hole is equivalent to a statement that the matter inside the Black Hole is definitely there to stay, in that volume of space. Let us quote Hubert Reeves: "Such an absolute statement is thus contrary to the "Quantum spirit", affirming that nothing is definitely localized in one place. There is always a probability of escape. If the enclosing wall is too high, a tunnel will be dug; if the prisoners are patient, they will escape. One has only to wait." [our translation]

"According to that principle, Black Holes "evaporate". Matter constantly escapes as radiation. Black Holes "shine!" Their surfaces behave like those of any body heated to a certain temperature and that radiation endlessly feeds that marvelous "Cosmic Fluid" which, wrongly and in bad faith, people keep calling "Darkness."

Nigra sum "sed" formosa!

Yes, but should we not say instead, I am black "and" comely?

Darkness, which is both source and vehicle of light, does not have to defend itself for being the beautiful and infinitely discreet raw material of the Universe. Darkness is the "Mother of the Universe."

Also, beautiful and discreet art thou, Haiti. Discreet, yes, but never outshone! Just like the Black Virgin who inspires and sheds her love on thee from the hilltop and even beyond Cité Soleil (Sun City).

Our purpose was to offer a more constructive approach aiming at correcting the abusive traditional, so-called scientific, theories of Optics.

It’s like to say that in the exceptional circumstances in which we live today - in the point of view of FINANCE and ENERGY - no exploration in the mid or long term, by the american expertise , of an additional source of energy, at the same time safe and economically profitable, should not be ruled out.

That is why, we wrote to that authentic witness to the signs of this age, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, the prophet of the new era.

Congratulations to You, Sir, and congratulations to the PEOPLE of The United States Of America - for having made it possible for this day of November to come - to mark the beginning of a "New Era of Hope !"

Lucien Bonnet

PLease, SEE :
LETTER TO POPE JOHN-PAUL II
in 'BILL A RI AND THERE WAS LIGHT !
http://www.contact-canadahaiti.ca

The author
of this book entitled
"BILL A RI AND THERE WAS LIGHT !" :
Lucien Bonnet
loubonnet@sympatico.ca

"O" Movie Review
Review of the romantic drama, O, based on Shakespeare's Othello, starring Josh Hartnett, Julia Stiles, and Mekhi Phifer.
movies.about.com/library/weekly/aa083001a.htm - 29k - Cached - Similar pages


Sweet Libertarian Taxonomy

Via Nick Bradley's blog, I came across this list of ten useful libertarian categories. It skillfully breaks the "movement" up along its natural grain and gives the different tendencies a pretty fair shake in my opinion. Unfortunately the links in Nick's post won't take me to the quoted source.

I don't know how many arguments I've gotten into where the participants could have benefited greatly from a common vocabulary based on these groups. They could certainly threaten the strawman industry's profits. A left libertarians might get pissed if you lump him in with the lifestyle libertarians and will probably punch you in the face in you conflate them with dominionists or, heaven forbid, Randians.

The emphasis of my personal ideological progression was roughly 4-5-3-10, presently a mutualist. How about you guys? Do you take exception to any of these descriptions or can you think of any more types that should be added to the list?

1. Randians/Objectivists/Egoists - Meet John or Jane Galt. While most card-carrying Objectivists assert that they are not libertarian in name, the movement started by Ayn Rand (author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged) was and is an important influence on the thought of modern American Libertarianism (Cathy Young says that "Libertarianism, the movement most closely connected to Rand's ideas, is less an offspring than a rebel stepchild."). They imagine an individualist/collectivist and egoist/altruist dichotomy and put it at the heart of their entire worldview as the supreme good vs. evil (along with some peculiar axioms like "A is A" and "existence exists"). According to those influenced by Randian Egoism, greed is a virtue, while compassion is a deadly sin. The word capitalism can stimulate a spontaneous orgasm. They are prone to histrionics and delusions of grandeur.

2. Dominionists - Business giants and empire-builders, moguls, magnates and tycoons who don't want antitrust laws, industry watchdogs, trade unions or environmental, worker, or consumer regulation to get in the way of their ambitions. They often fund libertarian and right-wing think tanks and organizations. Silicon Valley had many Dominionist younglings in the 90's until most of them perished tragically in the bursting of the dotcom bubble.

3. Market Fundamentalists - Focused on libertarian theories of economics/political economy, Market Fundamentalists believe the capitalist free market is best for the common good, and any interference with said market is contrary to the common good. They frequently use concepts like "the wisdom of the market" and "the invisible hand," etc. Austrian and Chicago schools, neoclassical economics, neoliberalism, etc.

4. Naïve Libertarians - This was a hard to name category (I also considered "propagandist libertarians"). Naïve Libertarians are like Market Fundamentalists, except they usually parrot Market Fundamentalist arguments and harp on "how liberals are weakening America" instead of coming up with arguments and ideas of their own. They believe hardship doesn't befall people who do what they should do, the environment isn't in any real trouble and environmental/pollution problems are negligible, and big corporations are really responsible and good on their own ("Greenhouse gas emissions? Those are just 'unrequested carbon surpluses'"). They are likely to listen to/host right-wing talk radio or do/follow right-wing journalism, and usually amount to little more than apologists for the Right.

5. "Liberty" Libertarians - Their libertarianism arises primarily from their ideas on the metaphysics of personal liberty, around concepts like "non-aggression" and "self-ownership." Libertarian philosophers are usually in this category, some of whom were founders of the modern American libertarian movement.

6. Libertarian Republicans - More traditional conservatives; Republicans who are against neoconservative big government and/or the religious right; conservative critics of the Bush administration. They consider themselves the true conservatives, and usually base their libertarian ideas on their perspective on the U.S. Constitution. "Goldwater conservatives;" Republican Liberty Caucus.

7. Crazy Libertarians - Primarily concerned about gun rights and privacy. Many survivalists, conspiracy theorists, tin-foil-hatters, etc. tend to fall into this group. They are likely to live in a rural area, with an impressive arsenal and weeks worth of food stocked up to secure against a New World Order threat.

8. Lifestyle Libertarians - Like the Crazy Libertarians about guns, but also for drugs, sex, alcohol, uncensored material, not having to recycle, driving without a seatbelt, driving without a seatbelt at 100mph, driving without a seatbelt at 100mph while receiving oral sex, etc. They are basically people who want to do whatever they want. If conservatives want government to be your daddy, and liberals want government to be your mommy, Lifestyle Libertarians want to get rid of daddy and mommy and stay up all night eating ice cream and watching after-dark cable.

9. Localist Libertarians - Anti-Federalists, they would rather have autonomy distributed to the community level, like town halls, local school boards and churches, than a strong federal government or any centralized power. More Main Street than Wall Street, they are communitarians and traditionalists, largely Catholic, often Scouting enthusiasts, people with Norman Rockwell paintings throughout their homes, etc. More compassionate and worker-oriented than other libertarians, and more likely to be concerned with local environmental problems.

10. Left-Libertarians - A special category. Left Libertarians believe big, powerful government is as oppressive and bad as big, powerful corporations. They are anti-war (including the War on Drugs), pro-choice, and against government favors for corporations (or against large corporations altogether). They usually favor participatory action and mutual aid over government for social justice and environmental causes, as well as smaller, more local businesses and community-centered marketplaces. They may caucus with right-libertarians ("vulgar libertarians" is a commonly used phrase) for strategic purposes, which is the primary reason they are on the list at all. They are also likely to work with Green parties. Often Georgist on physical property and against extensive and restrictive intellectual property (and a major front behind Open Source), they are related to others of the broad libertarian left--agorists, mutualists, libertarian socialists, cyberpunks and anarchists; also "Buddhist Economics."


Confirming Satirical Libertarian Stereotypes: Hating on Roads

I'm a big proponent of the theory that publicly subsidized transportation is one of the most important forms of market intervention. For just a partial example of its pernicious effects, public roads are a huge subsidy to large-scale, centralized firms, and a driving force behind urban sprawl,and the destruction of community and family that accompanies this unsustainable and unattractive development and the lifestyles that go with it.

On the other hand I always felt a little twinge of pain at condemning things like car culture and the interstate system. Like a lot of Americans, I get a kick out of being able to whoop it up to 75 miles per hour on artificially cheap gas and free roads and love the feeling of freedom from being able to move quickly and easily all over this bitch.

But I just had a realization that makes me feel a lot better.

While it would presumably be more expensive to move around in a free market (at least until the liberated entrepreneurs and engineers got around to selling us solar powered flying cars), We wouldn't need to travel so far to get what we wanted, and wouldn't have to go so far away to be somewhere very different from where we started.

Right now, I have to drive 20 miles round-trip to get to a library or bookstore that carries books other than quilting guides. On the other hand, a free-market in transportation, with all the costs internalized, would likely bring these sorts of businesses back to my little town's struggling Main Street as the transportation surcharge on any purchase obviated much of the price differential of buying in the city. It wouldn't matter that I couldn't drive as much anymore.

Even though, at present, I can drive from Idaho Falls, ID to Phoenix, AZ in as little as 14 hours on $100 in gas, when I get to my destination I'm still going to be eating dinner at Denny's, the same place I ate breakfast, and I'm going to be shopping for sunglasses to replace the ones I sat on after lunch in Utah at a Walmart identical to the one I bought a road atlas at that morning. The nice Jello Belt Mormon lady who checks me into my hotel will have a lot in common with the woman I bought gas from in Utah. If I made a trip of similar distance in Europe, I could travel from London to Vienna, passing through five countries, each with their own distinct culture, language, and traditions--holdovers from a time when in fact travel was more expensive and qualities that are disappearing as the effects of subsidized gas, roads, jet and car technology, and shipping play themselves out.

In a liberated society, the economy and culture would be much more decentralized and diverse. While meandering toll roads and market priced gas would certainly decrease my objective ability to travel long distances, my subjective ability to get where I wanted to be and experience new things, see new places, and meet interesting people would no doubt increase.


Libertarianux

I finally made the switch from Windows to Linux. My family's budget eMachine box is woefully underpowered for the Vista it came preloaded with and my Dad hated the OS with a passion. I've also been worried the movement would take away my libertarian decoder ring if they found out I still wasn't taking advantage of the most fleshed out and functional example of real-world anarchism and revolutionary agorist praxis around.

Installing Ubuntu, a popular, user-friendly, Linux distribution, was mostly a breeze. It's still not quite to the point where Grandma can do it no problem but it's getting better. When I tried to install Ubuntu on a computer a few years ago, my computer-savvy friend (who now works for Microsoft) and I had so much trouble with the monitor that we had to give up. I just tried again with the same old desktop and had no trouble at all. I was also impressed with the vast catalog of free software available for the operating system and the intuitiveness and attractiveness of the graphical interface.

If you're a reader or contributor to this blog, you really should consider making the switch. Linux is the product of spontaneous emergent social order. Individuals acting freely, without central direction, harnessing local knowledge and expertise, have created an immense, organic, and eminently functional, system. What's more, intellectual property is everywhere and always a child of the state and completely illegitimate. Why would you support statist corporations and give money to corporatist parasites if you don't have to?

Even if there isn't anything intrinsically wrong with proprietary software, it makes sense, on thickness grounds, to support projects that embody and inculcate values useful for the creation and preservation of free society; values like curiosity, independence, anti-authoritarianism, and creativity--something Linux does with flair. I like the way this software makes me think. Linux lays its guts out for the user and gives her complete control over how it works--even if this means it's possible to really screw things up and the learning curve is steep. When I took a smoke break last night from poring over how-to guides and ham-handedly thrashing about on the command line, I found myself examining a fire hydrant I've always ignored to figure out how its connections work. The broader adoption of free software will definitely have a salutary effect on our politics and culture.

I very highly recommend this nine year old but still awesome essay on operating systems by Neal Stephenson: "In the Beginning was the Command Line"


Who's the Terrorist?

Make no mistake, the Weathermen were SDS-hijacking, dirty, statist, communists, and Bill Ayers is a sell-out hack, but things need to be put in prospective.

People seem to forget that the Weathermen NEVER KILLED A SINGLE CIVILIAN, SOLDIER, OR POLICE OFFICER. The only people their bombs ever killed were some of the Weathermen themselves.

Keep in mind also what the Weathermen were fighting against. The the United States government was engaged in a bloody, immoral, and idiotic war of imperialism. Before the Weathermen started blowing up unoccupied buildings, American pilots like John McCain were slaughtering scores of women and children with bombs of their own.

"Pallin' around with terrorists" my ass. Sarah Palin's the one associating with a known terrorist.


Lick this USPS!

Hassling the postal service, the perennial libertarian hobby, has a long and storied history. Perhaps the most celebrated example is Lysander Spooner's private mail company.

In the 1840s, Lysander Spooner, jurist, abolitionist, and bearded anarchist badass, founded the American Letter Mail Company to compete directly with the United States Postal Service monopoly. Unlike other illegal mail carriers, Spooner advertised widely and openly challenged the the Postmaster General to fuck with him. His rates were half that of the USPS and "in a few short months, the private mail companies had engrossed the bulk of the service between Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore." Eventually the Post Office managed to hound Spooner out of business, but not before they were forced to adopt Spooner's rates.

Wendy McElroy tells us more about the postal service hating ways of our individualist anarchist predecessors in an article about the radical stickers sold in the pages of Benjamin Tucker's journal Liberty.

Seeing as the offices of Liberty burned down 100 years ago this year, taking the journal and stickers with it, I decided to make some of these "bits of gummed paper" for my own use. Take that, Postal Service!

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

These are the original sticker captions I was able to collect from the article:

Considering what a nuisance the government is, the man who says we cannot get rid of it must be called a confirmed pessimist.

Whatever really useful thing government does for men, they would do for themselves if there was no government.

Government regularly enforces its commands by the threat of violence; and government often commands things which it is ridiculous and outrageous to enforce by such a threat.

At almost every point in history government has been found to be the greatest scandal in the world. Why? And when anything else has been extremely scandalous, this has usually been on account of its association with government. Why?

Don’t enlist in any service where you are liable to be ordered to help kill a man (or men) that you think ought not to be killed.

Where everything is done through the bureaucracy, nothing to which the bureaucracy is really adverse can be done at all.

The institution known as “government” cannot continue to last unless many a man is willing to be government’s agent in committing what he himself regards as as an abominable crime.


National Smallness Conservatives

Dan McCarthy talks about The Return of the National Greatness Conservative.

But if [pro-gov, pro-war, pro-empire cons] are the national greatness/heroic/compassionate conservatives, what does that make the rest of us?

Maybe we could do worse than call ourselves “National Smallness Conservatives.” That gets at the ideas of anti-imperialism and decentralism and perhaps suggests something about the constitutional limits of federal power. It nicely echoes Chesterton, too.

I don't know about you guys but I love this label. For me the attractive parts of the mixed-bag of conservatism have always been epistemological modesty and the traditionalism, localism, and respect for diversity, community, and restraint that naturally follow from it.


Mencius

For libs interested in China I recommend Roderick Long's "Rituals of Freedom: Austro-libertarian Themes in Early Confucianism"

Long argues, contra David Boaz and Murray Rothbard, that

"From a libertarian perspective, the Taoists have been overrated and the Confucians underrated."

I was forced to read some Mencius(sort of the Rothbard to Confucius' Mises in the Confucian canon) today on my long flight and I was impressed with the sophistication of his political economy--he explains the principle of division of labor, argues against fixed prices for goods, and discusses the advantages of different systems of taxation. I was also surprised with the radical tinge to some of his sayings: (not the best example but I think its funny)

Mencius said to Emperor Hsuan of of Ch'i: "Suppose one of your ministers entrusts his family to the care of a friend and then leaves on a journey to Ch'u. When he returns, he finds that the friend abandoned his family to hunger and cold. What should be done?"
"End the friendship," replied the emperor.
"And if a chief judge can't govern his court - what should be done?"
"Turn him out," pronounced the emperor.
"And if someone can't govern this land stretching out to the four borderlands - what then?"
The emperor suddenly turned to his attendants and spoke of other things.


We Need These Democrats Today

These guys sound awesome.
The Locofocos

Lassiez-faire. Hard money. Labor unions.