Left Libertarians Attack Mises Institute Speech

Last week, Mises Institute president Jeff Deist delivered what has become a controversial speech at a libertarian conference in Malta. The controversy around the speech, which was full of common sense advice for libertarians, centers around the use of the phrase “blood and soil”, which was used by the Nazi government to emphasize the importance of culture and land. While nobody can condone the behavior of the Nazis, simply using the phrase, which was actually a reference to a recent Jeffery Tucker article that also used the phrase, is hardly grounds to be called a Nazi. After reading and hearing the speech, it’s obvious that this is another case of hyperbolic faux outrage typical of “left libertarians”.

Here are some interesting points of the speech.

Because while libertarians enthusiastically embrace markets, they have for decades made the disastrous mistake of appearing hostile to family, to religion, to tradition, to culture, and to civic or social institution — in other words, hostile to civil society itself.

Deist begins by making the point that some libertarians hostility toward cultural and social institutions is misplaced. The reason is simple: those things can and do act as a bulwark against the power of the state.  Strong families don’t need the government. People that help each other through religious and other voluntary mutual aid groups don’t need the government. Private and religious schools don’t need government.

Mecca is not Paris, an Irishman is not an Aboriginal, a Buddhist is not a Rastafarian, a soccer mom is not a Russian. Is it our goal to convince them all to become thorough Rothbardians? Should libertarians care about gay marriage in Saudi Arabia, or insist on the same border arrangements for Brownsville, Texas and Monaco? Should we agitate for Texas-style open carry laws in France, to prevent the next Bataclan?

Or would our time be better spent making the case for political decentralization, secession, and subsidiarity? In other words, should we let Malta be Maltese?

This is hardly “libertarianism for me, but not for thee” as some of Deist’s critics argue. Deist’s speech is one of uncompromisingly radical self-determination, which is as far away from Nazism as it gets. His point is that as libertarians, we believe that we don’t know what is best for other people and shouldn’t force our preferences, be they political or cultural, on others. With that in mind, libertarians should abandon the “universalist” mindset and instead focus on self-determination, that is, allowing people to choose their own political and social arrangements.

He ends with this point (emphasis mine):

what would you fight for? The answer to this question tells us a lot about what libertarians ought to care about.

By this I mean what would you physically fight for, where doing so could mean serious injury or death. Or arrest and imprisonment, or the loss of your home, your money, and your possessions.

I’m sure all of us would fight for our physical persons if we were attacked, or for our families if they were attacked. We might fight for close friends too. And perhaps even our neighbors. In fact we might like to think we would physically defend a total stranger in some circumstances, for example an old woman being attacked and robbed.

How about an abstraction, like fighting for “your country” or freedom or your religion? This is where things get more tenuous. Many people have and will fight for such abstractions. But if you ask soldiers they’ll tell you that in the heat of battle they’re really fighting for their mates, to protect the men in their units–and to fulfill a personal sense of duty.

In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance.

Does that sound like a Nazi hate speech? Of course not. Aside from those three words, what’s the issue? Replace “blood and soil” with “family and property” and no one bats an eye. Not to mention, his point stands: if libertarians refuse to acknowledge that most people care about their culture and don’t want to see it demolished, then they are going to continue to have a hard time drawing converts and affecting change. There is no incompatability between libertarianism and culture. Realizing that doesn’t make you a Nazi, regardless of what left-libertarians think or say.

On Cultural Relativism

Walter Williams on Western culture and cultural relativism:

Intellectual elites argue that different cultures and their values are morally equivalent. That’s ludicrous. Western culture and values are superior to all others. I have a few questions for those who’d claim that such a statement is untrue or smacks of racism and Eurocentrism. Is forcible female genital mutilation, as practiced in nearly 30 sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern countries, a morally equivalent cultural value? Slavery is practiced in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan; is it morally equivalent? In most of the Middle East, there are numerous limitations placed on women, such as prohibitions on driving, employment and education. Under Islamic law, in some countries, female adulterers face death by stoning. Thieves face the punishment of having their hands severed. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in some countries. Are these cultural values morally equivalent, superior or inferior to Western values?

Cultural relativists are quick to say that as Westerners we have no right to judge other cultural values. After all, to relativists, post-modernists, and other cultural marxists, there are no objective truths and if there are no objective truths then there are no universal ethics; that is, no standard by which to judge our own behavior. Without universal ethics, people are free to create their own ethics and morality. Williams clearly shows this viewpoint is ludicrous.

Much of the Muslim world is at war with Western civilization. Islamists’ use multiculturalism as a foot in the door to attack Western and Christian values from the inside. Much of that attack has its roots on college campuses among the intellectual elite who indoctrinate our youth. Multiculturalism has not yet done the damage in the U.S. that it has in Western European countries — such as England, France and Germany — but it’s on its way.

Even a cursory glance at the madness happening on American college campuses show that this fight is already here.

Trump Ends Obama Era Program to Arm Syrian Rebels

In a rare positive foreign policy move, the Trump Administration is reportedly ending the CIA policy of training, funding, and arming “moderate” Islamic groups in Syria. The policy, instituted by the Obama Administration in 2013, has been used to arm rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war and by extension, against Russia in the deep state’s proxy war in Syria.

Just who are these “moderate” anti-Assad rebels fighting for peace in the middle east? None other than ISIS and al-Qaeda, of course. It should be painfully obvious that such a covert policy is destructive and counter-productive to the goal of lasting peace in the middle east.

Not to mention, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have a terrible track record when it comes to picking the lesser of two foreign evils; decades of policies that have led to blowback, death, destruction, and endless war across the globe. One only has to remember that the CIA armed, trained, and funded Osama bin Laden and other Mujahedeen “moderates” during Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1980’s. The Mujahedeen, which became Al-Qaeda, responded by attempting to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six people in the process, then by carrying out the 9/11 attacks less than a decade later.

This isn’t the first attempt to end the controversial policy. Earlier this year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” in the Senate and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced similar legislation in the House.

Though the move is clearly a step in the right direction i.e. a cease-fire in Syria, not everyone views the move so positively. Take the Washington Post’s first sentence in their take on the story:

“President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials.”

Even a move towards a cease-fire in Syria must be told in the light of their desperate need to push the Trump-Russia collusion narrative.

Does Russia favor the U.S. ending a covert program that ultimately saves Russian lives? Obviously. But why wouldn’t the U.S also favor ending the program? The U.S. is purposefully arming terrorists to fight a proxy war against Russia in Syria. Without this program, the civil war there may have ended months or years ago, saving tens of thousands of lives.

There are many issues to be critical of regarding Trump’s foreign policy, this is not one of them.

Illinois Public Workers Seek “Fair Contract”, Already Highest Paid in Nation

The state of Illinois is in serious trouble. After not passing a budget for more than two years, the Democratic controlled state legislature recently pushed through a $5 billion-dollar state income tax increase, overriding the governor’s veto in the process. The increase makes Illinois’ state income tax among the highest in the nation, joining their already ridiculously high property tax rates. And all that just to pass a balanced budget, a requirement of the state constitution. This allowed the Comptroller to begin paying the over $15 billion in past due vendor payments. Interest on the past due bills alone total over $800 million.

In addition to their short-term budget crisis, the state has unfunded pension obligations of over $100 million, the highest in the nation, and recently narrowly avoided a “junk” credit rating.

It isn’t just the state’s governmental accounting woes that are a problem, either. The state’s economy is currently growing at a pace slower than even during the great depression.

In a measure sure to add insult to injury, Illinois Policy reports:

“Illinois’ biggest government-worker union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is engaged in contract negotiations with the state in an attempt to boost its salaries and benefits. As part of its negotiation tactics, AFSCME claims its “middle class” benefits are under attack. That’s why union officials are demanding up to $3 billion in salary and benefits for union members.”

Yes, you read that correctly. During the state’s worst economic growth since the great depression, less than a month after the legislature raised taxes $5 billion just to balance the budget, the largest public union in the state is demanding $3 billion in raises to salary and benefits.

Sound ridiculous? You haven’t even heard the best part yet. Public employees in the state of Illinois are already the highest paid public employees in the country. They receive Cadillac health care benefits, many of them receive free health insurance in retirement, and the average public worker gets $1.6 million out of their plan in retirement.

Moreover, Illinois Policy shows that while private sector earnings have remained flat over the past 12 years, public sector workers earnings have risen over 40%.

All this while marching and picketing with signs that read “Fair Contract.” Fair to who? Fair to the public employees or fair to the state of Illinois taxpayers?

To his credit, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed a number of reforms that would bring public employee costs more in line with private sector costs. He is being fought at every turn by a public employee union that is content to continue fleecing Illinois taxpayers, pushing an already economically decimated state to the verge of bankruptcy.

U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Controlled by 1970’s Era Computers run with 8 in. Floppy Disks

A post on Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre blog this morning mentioned this story from 2016. I remember when the story came out and thinking then that it was a perfect example of the screwed up priorities of the federal government.

Per the Guardian:

“The US military’s nuclear arsenal is controlled by computers built in the 1970s that still use 8in floppy disks.

A report into the state of the US government, released by congressional investigators, has revealed that the country is spending around $60bn (£40.8bn) to maintain museum-ready computers, which many do not even know how to operate any more, as their creators retire.”

The amount of money spent annually to manage the nuclear system can be debated. What is abundantly clear is that using 50-year-old computers, comprised of technology that doesn’t even exist anymore, to control the emergency nuclear launch system of thousands of nuclear weapons is shockingly irresponsible. Modern computers have a shelf life of about five years before they become obsolete.  What does that say about our nuclear capabilities? How much of that $60 billion is being wasted propping up old, outdated technology?

While our nuclear arsenal is controlled by obsolete technology, the NSA, CIA, and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies are spending upwards of a hundred billion dollars on state of the art technology to spy on American citizens. The CIA currently has the technology to hack the computer system in your car and control it independently. They can hack your newest consumer gadgets and spy on you in your own home. It is more than a little disconcerting that the federal government spends more tax dollars spying on and attacking their own citizens, than they do on the system that defends them from foreign nuclear attacks.

As someone who is unwaveringly anti-war, I believe anti-war people need to support treaties that pare down the nuclear arsenal to bare minimum levels. At the same time, any nuclear weapons that a state does maintain need to, at least, be operated by current technology.

All this begs the question: can the U.S. even launch nuclear weapons with their outdated system?

Per The Guardian:

“Given that magnetic media has a finite shelf life, and that disks and the drives needed to read and write to them are older than some of the operators of the machinery, the floppy revelation makes you wonder whether the US could even launch a nuclear attack if required. An “error, data corrupted” message could be literally life or death.”

The Pentagon claims that replacement computers are forthcoming and that the 8 in. floppy disks will all be replaced by the end of 2017. Given this is the same federal government that is $20 trillion dollars in debt and has been running annual budget deficits for almost two decades, forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.

Tucker Carlson Eviscerates Neocon Warmonger in Primetime

Fox News host Tucker Carlson absolutely demolishes neoconservative foreign policy advisor Max Boot in this 10 minute interview. In addition to calling out Boot for being “consistently wrong in the most flagrant and flamboyant way for over a decade”, he questions his career choice, asking him whether he’d be better at “selling insurance or housepainting”.

Though it may seem a bit sophomoric, this is exactly the type of derision and mockery the interventionist neoconservative foreign policy deserves. Their policy of regime change in the middle east and elsewhere has failed miserably and spectacularly. It has caused millions of deaths, the proliferation of Islamic terrorism, and the destabilization of the entire region.

 

Apathetic Americans, the CIA, and the Surveillance State

You may remember that earlier this March, Wikileaks released their latest cache of government documents, called Vault 7. There were many revelations that came out of the release, which I covered here.

One of the leaks from Vault 7 had to do with the CIA and the Amazon Echo, the popular voice activated home and personal assistant. Wikileaks discovered that the CIA is capable of independently taking over the microphone feature of the Echo to listen and record your conversations. Even more creepy is that the CIA has also developed a “fake off” setting to allow them to spy on you even while you think your device is off.

Many of the more skeptical among us were already wary of devices like the Amazon Echo. While technologically advanced and potentially very useful, Amazon’s Echo and similar devices, which utilize the Alexa voice assistant, amount to little more than a giant, active microphone in your house. What the Vault 7 release proved is that the CIA is both willing and capable to manipulate consumer technology to engage in mass warrantless spying.

Fast forward four months to July 11th. It’s Amazon Prime Day, an annual cyber-shopping day where Amazon lowers prices on thousands of items site wide.

Care to take a guess as to the bestselling items on Amazon Prime Day? According to The Street, the top three items sold were: the Amazon Echo, the Amazon Echo Dot (a smaller version of the Echo), and the Fire 7 Tablet (which has built-in Alexa capabilities). Over 12% of American households currently have an Echo device.

Not even four months after Wikileaks released classified documents proving that the CIA can access, listen, and record your private conversations through the Amazon Echo, the top three bestselling items on Amazon Prime Day were all equipped with Echo technology.

The collective apathy of the American public toward their 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable, warrantless spying is disheartening, to say the least. We know that the government has been collecting massive amounts of cell phone data and now they are using devices like the Amazon Echo, Samsung TV’s, and others  to undermine individual privacy and erode the 4th Amendment.