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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Who Does He Think He Is?

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, I mean. Has he never heard the words "regime change" before? Does he think he can contradict George II and get away with it? First he rejects Bush's timetables; next, he says he could bring security to Iraq in six months if the U.S. would let him control the military. Now Maliki is mad because the U.S. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, a Afghani-born Sunni, acts as though he's in charge of the place. Bush likes to say that Iraq is sovereign and that the government there belongs to the Iraqi people. Somehow I don't think he's leveling with us.

As for Maliki, what an ingrate! Who does he think got him where he is today?

Bush Explained

I highly recommend Gene Callahan's article "We're Living in the Dream World of George W. Bush." It's an excellent account of what George II is up to. Here's the opening paragraph:
One of the chief frustrations I have repeatedly encountered of late, both on the Internet and in direct conversations, is that a multitude of people believe that George W. Bush is a conservative, that they are conservatives because they support his policies, and that anyone who criticizes Bush’s agenda must be "a leftist." Nothing could be further from the truth. George Bush has embarked on a radical program designed, in essence, to stop history in its tracks and reach a final resolution to geopolitics.(However, there have been recent indications that even Bush may be ready to face reality in Iraq.) On recently re-reading Eric Voegelin’s book, The New Science of Politics, I gained a far deeper appreciation of the nature of Bush’s crusade, which I’d like to share with you here. (Voegelin, by the way, was a member of the renowned "Mises circle" in Vienna, a group that also included F.A. Hayek, Alfred Schütz, Fritz Machlup, Oskar Morgenstern, Felix Kaufman, and Gottfried Haberler.)

The Libertarian Nobel Peace-Prize Winner

Last week, with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, I underscored the historical-philosophical link between freedom of commerce and peace in classical liberalism. (The article is here.) What I did not know at the time, and what I have since learned thanks to Auburn University philosopher Roderick T. Long, is that one of the first winners of the Nobel Peace Prize was a man who consciously placed himself in the liberal tradition of Frédéric Bastiat and Richard Cobden. He was Frédéric Passy of Paris (1822-1912). The first year the Peace Prize was awarded, Passy shared the honor with Henry Dunant, founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross and originator of the Geneva Convention (which gives him a special relevance today). Passy must have been highly esteemed indeed for the Nobel committee to have awarded him and Dunant the Prize.
Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website. Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Government Spying Can Be Entertaining

If you haven't already seen this fabulous musical animation about government spying, see it now. You'll get a good laugh about a sad and scary thing being done by George II's government.

Page Scandal: Political Corruption Precedes Sexual Corruption

For the sake of those vulnerable 16-year-old boys and girls who come to Washington each year, we should abolish the congressional page program immediately. I’m not referring only to the danger posed by the sexual predators in Congress. There’s a more widespread danger that hardly anyone cares about: the congressional page program encourages high schoolers to worship and lust for power. In 20 years only three congressmen have been known to engage in sexual improprieties with pages. But nearly all congressmen teach pages that raw government power is a good thing. In a society that thinks of itself as free, this is intolerable.
The rest this week's op-ed is at The Future of Foundation website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Peace and Free Trade: "One and the Same Cause"

The Nobel Peace Prize this year went to a different sort of activist. Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economics professor, and his Grameen Bank won the prize for pioneering the concept of microcredit, small loans made to poor producers who because they lack collateral can't get conventional bank loans. "Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty," the Nobel committee said. "Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights."

. . . From the beginning (classical) liberalism regarded freedom of commerce and peace as, in Richard Cobden's words, "one and the same cause." As Joseph Schumpeter noted, "Wherever capitalism penetrated, peace parties of such strength arose that virtually every war meant a political struggle on the domestic scene." Leading French and British liberals played important roles in the world Peace Congresses held in the mid-nineteenth century, and American liberals rose up in protest when the United States went to war with Spain in 1898 and then held the Philippine Islands as a colony.

But, sadly, peace and commerce have gotten separated in the public's mind over the years, perhaps because opponents of the market and free trade have been the most visible critics of war.
Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Foundation website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Watch This...

...commentary by Keith Olbermann on George II and his power grab.

Hat tips: Brad Spangler and Roderick Long.

Free Speech and Antifederalism

My old friend Dave Barry is the center of controversy in a campus free-speech incident at Marquette University. A graduate student taped this Barry quotation to his office door:
As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.
Pretty innocuous, but the department chairman informed the student that the quote had drawn complaints and that he had removed it:
While I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I’m afraid that hallways and office doors are not "free-speech zones." If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note.
Patently offensive? No obvious academic import? Read the sad details here.

Hat tip: David Boaz.

The Superpower Myth

What does it mean to be the world’s only superpower? Like Gulliver in Lilliput, the U.S. government is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now faces the emergence of two new nuclear powers in North Korea and Iran. There seems to be nothing President Bush can do about it.
The rest of my op-ed "The Superpower Myth" is at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Time to Get Rid of the State?

The practical case for free-market anarchism grows stronger each day. The proliferation of nuclear weapons, which so often is used as a reason for more government power, is actually grounds for abolishing the state altogether. (See this New York Times article, which reports that "atomic officials estimate that as many as 40 more countries have the technical skill, and in some cases the required material, to build a bomb.") As powerful as the U.S. government is, it cannot prevent other governments from obtaining or developing nuclear weapons and it can't prevent their use. The most it can do is reduce the danger by pursuing a noninterventionist foreign policy. But it is not likely to do this in the foreseeable future, and even that wouldn't reduce the danger to near zero.

Free-market anarchism, on the other hand, would necessarily entail a noninterventionist foreign policy, plus it would free up private entrepreneurial innovation to discover and implement methods of protecting us from a nuclear attack and terrorism is general. Decentralization is the key. A big part of this would be the privatization of public -- that is, government-controlled -- property. Nothing is more poorly managed than the government's assets. I'd rather have entrepreneurs than the U.S. government looking for ways to protect us. Not only will the state bureaucracy bungle and corrupt whatever it does, it will violate our liberties in the process. (Habeas corpus is becoming a thing of the past.) It is the very antithesis of what we need now.

For our own safety it's time for free-market anarchists to assume a higher profile. (See the post below about the Center for a Stateless Society.) We uniquely have the solution to the most vexing problem of the day.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Center for a Stateless Society

The Molinari Institute has unveiled a new project: The Center for a Stateless Society, under the directorship of Brad Spangler. Here's the announcement:
AUBURN, ALABAMA – October 10, 2006 – Center for a Stateless Society – The Molinari Institute, a market anarchist think tank, today launched a new media effort aiming to put their agenda to abolish government front and center in US political discourse. Dubbing their project the Center for a Stateless Society (www.c4ss.org), institute officials laid out plans to publish and distribute news commentary written by anarchists with radically free-market oriented views on economics – taking market anarchism out of the realm of academia and obscure internet blogs in order to put it in the public eye.

President Roderick Long explained “For too long libertarians, and I mean anarchist libertarians, have treated market anarchism almost as an esoteric doctrine. It’s time to put market anarchism front and center in our educational efforts, time to start making it a familiar and recognizable position. The Center for a Stateless Society aims to bring a market anarchist perspective to the popular press, rather than leaving it confined to scholarly studies and movement periodicals.”

Naming longtime radical libertarian activist and freelance web developer Brad Spangler as the first Director of the Center, Long unveiled the Center’s new web site at www.c4ss.org for Molinari Institute supporters and the public.

Said Spangler “I’m honored to accept the post. In anticipation of this moment, we’ve developed a database of thousands of US media outlets for email distribution of content which these publishers will be able to use free of charge. Additionally, the c4ss.org web site makes use of stable, reliable and ‘free as in freedom’ open source web technologies. We’ve developed the site in such a way as to make maximum possible use of social bookmarking services, web syndication feeds and search engine optimization techniques. With this site, we aim to awaken more Americans than ever before to the brutal reality that all governments everywhere are essentially nothing more than murderous bandit gangs – and show them the shining light of hope for a world without the State.”

The Center quickly issued two op-eds, one by Per Bylund on the North Korean nuclear test and one by Roderick Long on the Iraq war.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Just Market

Edmund Phelps, winner of this year's Nobel Prize in economics, published an inspiring, yet frustrating article, "Dynamic Capitalism," in the Wall Street Journal the other day. (Read it here.) In the article he seeks to establish the justice of entrepreneurship -- a worthy objective indeed. He spends the first part praising entrepreneurial "capitalism" and the dynamism it produces. Dynamism, he writes, has many benefits for everyone in society. Along the way he commends F. A. Hayek for pioneering contributions to economic thought. "Friedrich Hayek, in the late 1930s and early '40s, began the modern theory of how a capitalist system, if pure enough, would possess the greatest dynamism -- not socialism and not corporatism." While this is not quite satisfying -- doesn't Hayek's mentor, Ludwig von Mises, merit a nod here? -- at least Phelps has some sense of the value of the Austrian school.
Read the rest of his week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Friday, October 06, 2006

History Lesson Lost

Call me nostalgic, but I still have a thing for the Articles of Confederation. Maybe it's the enticement of forbidden fruit. In the government schools I attended little if anything was said about the eight years during which the United States of America were governed under the Articles. The curriculum writers must have had a good reason for not devoting class time to that period. What didn't they want us to know?
Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley Hits the Trifecta

It's official now: U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who quit Congress after getting caught sending sexually explicit messages to teenaged male congressional pages, is an alcoholic, mentally ill, and a victim of sexual abuse by a clergyman. In other words, he's hit the psychiatric trifecta. He's now in rehab. But he's not offering any of this as an excuse for his inappropriate conduct. He just thought we'd like to know.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Not Deep Enough

The revelations in the new Bob Woodward book, as revealed in the newspaper accounts, are fascinating and instructive. But I fear that the main focus continues to be on competency and honesty about the conditions in Iraq. These are important matters; however, the real issue is the criminality and immorality of the war itself. We mustn't fall for the implicit assumption that the Iraq war would have been fine if only the administration had had a plan and had been more forthcoming. Nothing could have redeemed this imperialist war.