Ezekiel 25:17

"I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I take vengeance on them."

This is some cold-blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before you pop a cap in his ass!

The De-Industrialization of America

So, what's with that? You know how sometimes it can pay a company to dilute or bleed its brand? They lower the quality, thereby lowering costs of production, while the customers are still loyal to the brand. This generates short-term profits. Sooner or later, of course, the public catches up and stops buying which destroys the brand.

Well, the world is on a dollar standard. This is because all other currencies, unfortunately, are even worse than the dollar. And it pays, temporarily, to be a citizen of the country which can print the money used most commonly in the rest of the world.

Thus, the Chinese produce goods; the US prints dollars; the American consumers exchange those dollars for the Chinese goods; the Chinese stuff those dollars under the mattresses. There is no apparent need for Americans to produce anything.

But a nation can only exploit this advantage for so long, i.e., dilute or bleed the dollar that was once long ago backed by the US productive power. At some point, perhaps soon, the dollar standard will collapse, and it will be realized by everyone that America produces very little. There will be a rush by foreign dollar-holders to spend their money, stripping America of what few goods it does have. And then we'll all become poor.

The “Deaf Culture”

Apparently, some deaf people object to attempts to cure deafness because that would ruin the "deaf culture."

What about other similar cultures? Such as:

The culture of the crippled?
Of the insane?
Of the impotent?
Of the hunchbacks?
Of those sick with colon cancer?
Of the heroin addicts?
Of hypochondriacs?
Of the morbidly obese?
Of those who have failed at business?
Of those who are bad at math?
Of tailgaters?
Of bad philosophers?
...

Don't they deserve equal consideration? If not, why not?

My Prediction for the Trump Administration

He will accomplish absolutely nothing of value to libertarians.

His style of governing will consist in sort of lashing out at whatever random things will grab his attention at any given moment, yelling at and beating up strangers.

I'll go so far as to suggest that America is doomed as a functioning country.

Trump may even kill us all. Political power corrupts, and a man as big-as-life as Trump will be corrupted horribly and spectacularly.

“We Came, We Saw, He Died”

The overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011 was a major crime by the Obama administration.

However, if we take the saying "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword" seriously, Gaddafi's own death, however any death is to be lamented, was of natural causes.

Rise of the PC

Angelo M. Codevilla has penned an illuminating article, explaining the leftist political correctness as a process of domination and self-deification of the leftist ideologues. It "comes down to glorifying the party and humbling the rest." The revolutionary end, whatever it may be, has been forgotten, as in the leftist "reality," in Orwell's terms, "the object of persecution is persecution; the object of torture is torture; the object of power is power."

There is, however, a disanalogy between Christianity which, Codevilla writes, "obviated the gods of Rome and of the barbarians alike," and the leftist ideological movements which aim at "the transformation and synthesis of society's several cultural strains into something that so transcends them that no one could possibly look backward."

For Christianity, or more precisely the Holy Spirit that has become active in the world after the coming of Christ, did change human nature. It did so literally. The divine grace ruptures the human heart, planting and nurturing a seed of love for fellow men in it. Humans have always been of use to one another, and that fact still remains the most potent force preserving and intensifying peace and social cooperation. In the free market, "everybody is both a means and an end in himself, an ultimate end for himself and a means to other people in their endeavors to attain their own ends," says Mises (HA, 257). That's a spectacular deliverance of reason. But mutual usefulness, for all its indispensable role, is just the beginning. It's the nature on which grace builds. Without interpersonal charity-love, the greatest civilization is only a monument to hell.

How pathetic compared to that are the human dreams, whether leftist or rightist, of their -- always coercive or deceptive -- transformations of human nature! Man cannot change his nature; only God can. Or rather, only God can improve upon nature. Man, if he tries really hard, can only in a futile attempt to break the law destroy himself.

The political correctness movement is yet another attempt to remake men. But it will turn us into monsters not saints.

Israel and Palestine

Speaking of whites and blacks, here in America, they live in harmony (didn't you know that?), give or take an occasional black riot and a black-on-white crime. Yes, blacks rot in "projects" and the drug war seems designed to mass-imprison blacks, but those are the interventionist measures that try to mitigate (in the process making things even worse) the damage of the welfare state and PC totalitarianism.

Why then can't the Israeli Jews co-exist in peace with the Arab Muslims? As far as the Jews are concerned, are the sand niggers so much worse than the actual niggers? I think that's impossible.

I wondered about a one-state solution, whereby Gaza and West Bank simply join Israel in exchange for the Palestinians living there getting full Israeli citizenship, full freedom of movement, voting rights and representation in the Knesset, and whatever government services Israel provides.

Now the newly enfranchised Palestinians could cause some political trouble. To forestall this, Israel could get a Constitution and reorganize its government from national to federal, like the US, as part of the unification process. That would mean allowing the West Bank a measure of self-government, but would legitimize Israel and the "settlements," while perhaps even preserving the Jewish majority in the parliament, and end the conflict.

(By the way, "settlements" are simply people homesteading empty land in the desert and building houses on it. From what possible point of view is this bad?!)

Their problem appears to be ideological. Israel is a nationalist "Jewish state," and the Arab Muslims, "no matter how much better they live under Israeli rule than they do in most of their own countries, want their own government, ... believing they'd be better off on their own, even under a crummy, corrupt Arab despot," as Paul Gottfried suggests to me. Arabs then want a Jew-free Muslim commonwealth.

Perhaps what this means is that Jews and Arabs hate each other's guts.

Nevertheless.

People don't need to love each other to consider each other useful and valuable. Love belongs to grace, but absence of hatred squarely to human nature. It is within the natural power of both the Jews and Arabs to do better.

Consider that just a few decades ago, the European nations fought a savage global total war that only by chance did not turn fully nuclear and destroy everything. Now we have the European Union with peace, apparent good will, common currency, and freedom of travel -- which would have worked, too, if only it had a robust gold standard, reasonable immigration policy, and some pride in its own achievements.

It's only in America that we have the phenomenon of "white people" as some sort of unified "class." In Europe, the nations hated each other viciously, and perhaps still do. Yet they recognize the benefits of peace and international division of labor.

As long as an Englishman grants a German the right to exist, because the Englishman likes the kind of beer the German makes, his alleged hatred of the German is superficial and irrelevant.

We can have the same in the Middle East. Untoward and objectionable prejudices and attachments disappear quickly when people see money and hope for improvement in their conditions. Given that at least the Jews are the smartest nation in the world, will the parties involved in the conflict recognize each other's mutual usefulness?

Two more points:

1. Nation is not the same as state. One can have his religion and his culture even if the government is limited to execution of justice and perhaps a few other trivial functions.

2. We are not talking about national aspirations as love of "one's own" people but as hatred of "others" manifested in killing them. But this hatred is inhuman, beastly. It's inhuman, because it falsely sees those others as enemies rather than collaborators in civilization-building. It disrespects the human nature as conqueror and master of the physical world.

In this sense, the mutual hatred of the Jews and Arabs is indeed "irrational." I mean, seriously, we are not going to rebuild the tower of Babel with that attitude. (It is our birthright that "if as one people speaking the same language we have begun to do this, then nothing we plan to do will be impossible for us." (Gen 11:6))

That's why I think these guys need to wake up and come to see each other as means rather than as obstacles to each other's ends.

After that, why not one state? Pare down the government to minimum, separate church and state, and let Jews and Muslims associate freely. Won't this satisfy everybody? I'm not saying there are men like Jefferson and Washington in the Arab world ready to "conceive in liberty" the new Israel, so it's not trivial, but in the end, there is no other way.

Whose Supremacy?

White supremacy is bad, right? Well, don't tell me black people, etc. are libertarians who favor laissez-faire and no one's supremacy. They evidently want white people as their bitches. So, if it's a toss-up between black supremacy and white supremacy, I'll pick the latter.

In other words, it's reasonable for white people to prefer freedom and capitalism to white supremacy, yet white supremacy to the supremacy of another faction that will oppress whites.

The Church and “Obedience”

Hugh Elliot writes:

Regard and disregard of authority mark one of the great dividing lines of human character. They go so deep as to cut through the divisions of a more superficial philosophy.

How, for instance, could there be a wider apparent difference than that between the doctrines of religion and those of war? Religion instills the principles of love and meekness: it enjoins us to love our enemies; whereas war cultivates the spirit of hate and mastery, and enjoins us to kill our enemies. Yet the Church is always a staunch supporter of the Army, and the Army of the Church: the most bitter wars in history have been wars in the name of religion.

Great as their superficial differences are, the Army and the Church are united by a deep similarity. They are both concrete embodiments of the emotions of obedience and subservience to authority: they both demand suppression of individuality in thought and action: they are both built up on a hierarchical plan, where each grade requires its inferior grades to accept its verdicts without criticism or independent judgment. And hence the type of character appropriate to the one is appropriate also to the other. (Human Character, 36-7)

This "argument" would make Eric Hoffer proud; it's an expression of pure contempt masquerading as impartial analysis. Now I generally agree that Elliot describes the military correctly, but disagree regarding the Church.

Take hierarchy. The Catholic Church is composed of only 3 layers: deacons, priests, and bishops. Cardinals are simply bishops who get to elect the Pope, and the Pope himself is the bishop of Rome and exists solely to ensure the unity of the Church's teachings on faith and morals. Just as in a business firm, a technician reports to and obeys the manager, so it is natural that priests obey bishops. What's the big deal?

I, as a lay Catholic, am not a clergyman and so do not work for the Church as an enterprise organization. So, no priest can bark orders at me. I am not part of the Catholic hierarchy at all! Rather, I am a member of the civil association of the Catholic people united by the same grace and ideals. What "emotions of obedience" am I allegedly manifesting?

It is true, the Church may speak against sin. But it does not condemn sinners but forgives them! And only if they ask. No one is required to go to confession. A priest is a spiritual garbageman, a lowly post indeed and as far as being an "authority" as you can imagine. And one doesn't even need to pay him for his services!

Does the Church "demand suppression of individuality in thought and action"? On the contrary, it encourages philosophical and scientific advance. It is not the fault of the Church that the empirical scientific method is a recent invention. Rather, it provides a framework in which thinking takes place. By insisting that the deposit of true faith be respected, it make the job of the philosopher easier who no longer is cursed (as much) with wallowing in blooming, buzzing confusion. It is useful to know that no philosophical conclusion can contradict an article of faith. And if one does not care for the faith, then he can quit being a Catholic and face no apparent consequences. Whence "subservience to authority"?

Creation of individuality, far from being hated by the Church, is the divine project itself. I've never heard the Church accused of wanting to populate the Earth with clones. It wants everyone to come to know the true faith, but how is that different from an atheist mathematician who also wants every child to memorize the multiplication table? Is the mathematician an authority to be served? Does he suppress individuality? If the concern is that the Church argues from authority, then as St. Thomas replied, "although the argument from authority based on human reason is the weakest, yet the argument from authority based on divine revelation is the strongest." (ST, I, 1, 8, reply 2)

Elliot's kind of haughty contempt is counterproductive.

Fine Distinctions

Homosexuality is when a man sucks dick. Disgusting, right? Well, not as disgusting as homosexualism, which is when a man goes around proclaiming to everybody that sucking dick is a perfectly wonderful and wholesome pastime. An open homosexual should properly be full of guilt for his vice and publicly condemn homosexuality, even if he personally in private does not (yet) practice what he preaches.

Similarly, a welfare bum should vote for a political candidate who proposes to abolish welfare, and a crony capitalist should be in favor of laissez-faire.

Personal wickedness is no excuse for intellectual errors. Be a hypocrite if you must. But don't be an idiot in addition.

Hume on the Free Rider Problem

An early discussion of this is found in Treatise, 3.2.7:

Two neighbors may agree to drain a meadow, which they possess in common; because it is easy for them to know each others mind; and each must perceive, that the immediate consequence of his failing in his part, is, the abandoning the whole project.

But it is very difficult, and indeed impossible, that a thousand persons should agree in any such action; it being difficult for them to concert so complicated a design, and still more difficult for them to execute it; while each seeks a pretext to free himself of the trouble and expense, and would lay the whole burden on others.

Political society easily remedies both these inconveniences. Magistrates find an immediate interest in the interest of any considerable part of their subjects. They need consult nobody but themselves to form any scheme for the promoting of that interest. And as the failure of any one piece in the execution is connected, though not immediately, with the failure of the whole, they prevent that failure, because they find no interest in it, either immediate or remote.

Thus bridges are built; harbors opened; ramparts raised; canals formed; fleets equipped; and armies disciplined everywhere, by the care of government, which, though composed of men subject to all human infirmities, becomes, by one of the finest and most subtle inventions imaginable, a composition, which is, in some measure, exempted from all these infirmities.

Thus, regarding conscription, for example, we can say that the only two desirable outcomes are "everybody fights" and "nobody fights." If only some, such as the bravest, fight, then they all perish due to insufficient numbers, and the rest of the cowards are slaughtered shortly thereafter or enslaved by the conquerors.

Now conscription is usually to be condemned, but only because wars made easier though it are to be condemned. Without the government, the only possible outcome is "nobody fights." The government permits the community to have a choice in this matter, i.e., between "nobody fights" and "everybody fights." Perhaps "nobody fights" is in a given case / usually / under laissez-faire / always the right choice, but the government allows the choice to be made, as opposed to letting the default situation of "nobody fights" arise willy-nilly.

This post concludes my live blogging of Hume.

Gordon on Democracy

David Gordon argues that democracy as a form of government has never been fully justified.

It's funny, he writes:

Barber criticizes a number of philosophers who have written about politics, including John Rawls, Bruce Ackerman, and Robert Nozick, for presuming to arrive at agendas for a just political order in the absence of democratic discussion. The decision of the people, rather than the excogitations of philosophers "voyaging through strange seas of thought alone," should determine questions of distributive justice. To think otherwise is to be undemocratic.

I wonder, in making his presumably sophisticated arguments, did Bernard Barber himself consult the "people"?

Even more crucially, why could not the people, upon heavy and earnest "democratic" deliberation, decide to delegate the solution to the questions of distributive justice to the philosophers?

I also enjoyed Gordon's point about one considering "whether he should steal as a 'live option' rather than as a philosophical perplexity." That's the danger of "a little" philosophy, as per Francis Bacon, I think; study only that much, and you'll end up both an atheist and a thief, and I don't know which is worse.

Mises on Allegiance

Mises held that, though a revolution might perhaps be useful now and then, every government must resist and seek to quell any revolution.

This is paradoxical: how do the people benefit from having the government resist the people's own overthrow of that government?

I think Mises would reply that as far as the government is concerned, the revolutionaries are simply violent criminals and must be treated as such regardless of the justice of their cause. Perhaps both fortune and history will be on the revolutionaries' side, and they will be deemed heroes by their descendants, but the old government must still have done its duty to try to preserve itself and the existing social order:

However illegal and unbearable the oppression, however lofty and noble the motives of the rebels, and however beneficial the consequences of their violent resistance, a revolution is always an illegal act, disintegrating the established order of state and government. (HA, 286, n18)

And it is the very purpose of any government, including one doomed to extinction and future infamy for its tyranny, to suppress illegal acts.

Allegiance, 2

Of course, the problem of allegiance is more complicated than Hume makes it appear. One can say all he wants, as Mises does, that:

One must take exception to the often-repeated phrase that government is an evil, although a necessary and indispensable evil. What is required for the attainment of an end is a means, the cost to be expended for its successful realization.

It is an arbitrary value judgment to describe it as an evil in the moral connotation of the term. (HA, 719)

Let us then grant that "government" as such is a good thing. But "government" preforms numerous acts. It has "policies" that go far beyond mere catching and punishing violent criminals. Suppose then that 99% of a particular government's rules and regulations are in fact anti-social and precisely contrary to the welfare of the great majority of the citizens. If, as Hume maintains, the chief cause of allegiance to a sovereign is self-interest, as social cooperation is impossible without the state, then do policies that hurt society undermine the ruler's legitimacy? At what point is a (fully self-interested) revolution recommended?

Merely repeating that "government is good" gives us no clue as to what kind of government is good.

Consider as an example Rothbard's hilarious deconstruction of the idea that the entirety of the goodness of "government" consists in equality before the law:

Let us postulate, for example, two possible societies.

One is ruled by a vast network of Hayekian general rules, equally applicable to all, e.g., such rules as:

everyone is to be enslaved every third year; no one may criticize the government under penalty of death; no one may drink alcoholic beverages; everyone must bow down to Mecca three times a day at specified hours; everyone must wear a specified green uniform, etc.

It is clear that such a society, though meeting all the Hayekian criteria for a noncoercive rule of law, is thoroughly despotic and totalitarian.

Let us postulate, in contrast, a second society which is totally free, where every person is free to employ his person and property, make exchanges, etc. as he sees fit, except that, once a year, the monarch (who does literally nothing the rest of the year), commits one arbitrary invasive act against one individual that he selects.

Which society is to be considered more free, more libertarian? (EoL, 228-9)

So, political philosophy starts with an awareness of the problem of enforcement of justice; it does not end with it.

Hume on Allegiance

To build on Hume, people obey government agents out of fear; but support the institution of government as a whole out of self-interest, if Hume is right that "the execution of justice, in the stability of possession, its translation by consent, and the performance of promises, is impossible, without submission to government." (3.2.8)

Justice and Mt 22

That's precisely how best to understand this Biblical passage:

"Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose image is this? And whose inscription?"

"Caesar's," they replied.

Then he said to them, "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Mt 22:18-21)

If we had any tax obligations to Caesar, then it would be proper for us to fulfill them in order to be just men. However, the most just political system is one in which we have no such obligations.

Again, we must give to Caesar what is Caesar's. But what exactly is Caesar's? Perhaps if laissez-faire capitalism is the best political economy, then precisely nothing is Caesar's.

Hence, Rothbard: "Relations with the State, then, become purely prudential and pragmatic considerations for the particular individuals involved, who must treat the State as an enemy with currently prevailing power." (EoL, 184)

Two Senses of Justice

Remember that justice measures conformance of an actual thing or state of affairs to an ideal. We say that a man is just who has the habit of rendering to each his due.

But that's within a given property regime. We also say that one system is more just than another; for example, feudalism is more just than socialism, and capitalism than feudalism. Thus, Walter Block says, "There is no such thing as legitimate public property," thereby arguing, perhaps prophetically and ahead of his time, that anarcho-capitalism is more just than our present semi-feudal, semi-capitalist economy.

Suppose Smith proposes to Jones that he is Jones' tax-lord, and if Jones catches 10 fishes, then he owes Smith 3 of them. It's not therefore the first person to homestead a good who is that good's rightful owner but the second, his taxer. Moreover, Jones acquiesces in the feudalist ideology. Are the 3 fishes Jones' property or Smith's? We might advise Jones: "Render to Smith what is Smith's according to the existing political economy and moral norms." But we might further suggest: "In a few hundred years, Smith will be properly -- and justly -- seen as a wicked parasite to be resisted."

This is the situation of a just man in a less than fully just regime. I disapprove of the existing social order; must I still be just within it? Block urges prudence (in the same post): "However, I think it would be very dangerous for you to press your suit in this matter. I expect that the statist courts will have very different ideas on it."

But what of the reverse case, viz., an unjust man who lives in a just system of property rights arrangements, such as, to give Block the benefit of the doubt, anarcho-capitalism? Let Smith approve of the social order he lives in. But this order naturally in the process of operation assigns a certain amount of wealth or income to him. How can Smith justify illegally grabbing more goods than the economic system he himself likes allocates to him? It seems that if he chooses to steal, then he would lay himself open to the charge of hypocrisy.

In fact, the more I think about this, the more senseless and schizophrenic Smith's injustices in this scenario seem to me.

Paradise, 2

I think utility monsters, i.e., saints, would not present a problem in the heavenly communion.

On the one hand, their feelings are stronger than those of the regular folks and so are ranked higher on the universal values scale. On the other hand, their charity is also greater, which means that they feel the whole and other people's feelings more poignantly and so would be willing to experience their happiness more, i.e., to yield goods to others with greater alacrity.

Conversely, a non-saint's feelings are duller, such that he is less suited for eternal happiness, but he is more selfish, feeling the welfare of the whole vine-and-branches less strongly and so is less willing to let go of his own enjoyment for the sake of others.

Thus, there is a parity between saints and non-saints, and tendency toward equality of "distribution," though again the saints feel greater pleasure overall than the non-saints.

Trouble in Paradise?

If my vision of the society of paradise is correct, then do utility monsters ruin it?

It seems that the especially saintly people, marked by the greatest charity, would be most suited for happiness, as well. Are the less virtuous folks, then, though willingly loving these saints in the heavenly communion, nevertheless still in a sense conscripted to serve them, because the saints' desires are so strong, pure, and intense that within the universal values scale they outweigh the desires of the non-saints?

There is, however, a benefit to the strangeness, as in it introduces holy competition between people. I have mentioned the difference between heaven and paradise; so if, when moving from the former to the latter to enjoy some active life, you want the goodies of social cooperation yourself, then strive to be saintly! Each saint still contributes to the welfare of the whole vine-and-branches, so even non-saints benefit from more saints, but the non-competitive competition, if I may put it this way, exists nonetheless.

Or I may be completely off here. Well, I see through a glass darkly.

Property in Land

Land can be understood in multiple senses, as:

  1. natural resources on it or under it;
  2. the topsoil from which crops grow;
  3. standing room or space, either 2D or 3D;
  4. productive power of nature: fish multiply; new coal in a mine comes up once the previous layer is taken away; this is co-divided with human labor.

Each of these needs its own theory of how it comes to be owned by a human being from the unowned state.