Archive for November, 2013
It’s Thanksgiving, which is soon to be known as Black Friday Eve. But as long as we still have Thanksgiving some people are probably interested in the holiday’s history. A couple of years ago I wrote a post detailing that Thanksgiving was really brought on by a failure of socialism. This year I’m going to present an alternative viewpoint courtesy of Kevin Carson, a mutualist whom I greatly respect. According to Mr. Carson there is one key element many libertarians have ignored when using Thanksgiving to rail against socialism. Namely, the Pilgrims were victims of statism and its beloved tool incorporation:
The Plymouth story is sometimes compared to that of agriculture in the last days of the Soviet Union, where most of the food consumed came from private family plots — essentially kitchen gardens with some small livestock thrown in. Had the entire Soviet population been forced to subsist on the output of State and collective farms alone, the result would have been mass starvation — exactly like in Plymouth. This parallel is entirely accurate. What the received version of the Plymouth story leaves out, however, is that the role of the “collective farm” in the little drama is played not by the naive Puritan zealots seeking to “hold all things in common” but by a private corporation chartered by the English crown.
And as Curl describes it, the system of private plots adopted after the rebellion against the Merchant Adventurers wasn’t much like modern fee simple ideas of “private property,” either. It sounds more like the open-field system the settlers had experienced in Nottinghamshire: The family plots were ad hoc, to be periodically redivided, and not subject to inheritance.
So the proper analog to what almost killed off the Pilgrims is not, as Stossel says, “Karl Marx” or “today’s [presumably left-wing] politicians and opinion-makers.” It’s the lord of an English manor — or a Fortune 500 corporation. But the story as it actually happened is still a testament to the evils of statism and the benefits of voluntary cooperation. The Merchant Adventurers, like the Fortune 500 companies of today, was a chartered corporation that depended entirely on benefits and legal privileges conferred by the state. The living arrangements it attempted to impose on the Plymouth settlers were the same as the extractive arrangements that prevailed on an English manor, enforced by the legal privileges the state conferred on the landed nobility. And the new system the Pilgrims replaced them with were the age-old open field system that peasant villages had spontaneously created for themselves, in the absence of coercive interference, since neolithic times.
Anyways it’s something to think about while you’re scarfing down Turkey. Now you’ll have to excuse me. I plan on gorging myself and doing nothing productive for the remainder of the day.
If anything demonstrates the cowardice of the average politician it’s nuclear weaponry. Politicians have no quarrel sending other people’s sons and daughters off to die in a foreign land. But the second their lives are threatened they sudden have a strong desire to use diplomacy. Nuclear weapons are the tool that can strike directly at politicians, which is why they’re in such a hurry to prevent more countries from getting them. Once a country becomes a nuclear power it can strike directly at the politicians of foreign nations and that takes the option of invasion off of the table.
Based on this I’m beginning to think that the path to world peace involves nuclear weapons. Imagine if every country was armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. History has demonstrated that nuclear armed countries don’t suffer foreign invasions. Even the United States and the Soviet Union, two of histories most bitter enemies, refrained from direct military engagement.
The most common rebuttal to this idea is that there are political leaders who want to immanentize the eschaton. This is a common concern expressed by those who believe it is necessary to use whatever means necessary to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. I don’t give such rebuttals much concern. Immanetizing the eschaton requires a willingness to sacrifice one’s own life. I have never seen a politician who is willing to sacrifice themselves. They’re always quick to sacrifice others but when their own skin is on the line they topple like a house of card. Until I see a politician willing to sacrifice themselves for political or religious gain I won’t consider any such concerns seriously.
Perhaps we need to encourage more countries to join the nuclear club. It may be the only thing that makes politicians reconsider declaring war.
Agents of the National Security Agency (NSA) must either be desperate to find new porn or to blackmail dissidents. Thanks to that wonderful man, Edward Snowden, we have learned that the NSA has been peeping on the porn habits of political dissidents for the expressed purpose of assassinating their characters:
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.
The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT” — or signals intelligence, the interception of communications — “assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.
This strategy may be effective against religious activists but most of the political dissidents I know are very comfortable with their sexuality and kinks. In fact they’re usually very open about what they’re into, which renders this strategy irrelevant. Still, it’s getting downright comical to see how desperate the state is to maintain its power. Next the NSA is probably going to release a report that claims all political dissidents are rabid consumers of child pornography hoping to discredit them. Fortunately, thanks to Mr. Snowden, we’ll known to call bullshit on any such report.
The more unenforceable laws those control freaks who call themselves rulers pass the more toothless they appear to be. Busy bodies in the San Rafael City Council voted to prohibit individuals from smoking in their own dwellings:
In a unanimous decision, members of the San Rafael City Council have approved the strictest smoking ordinance in the country. Effective last week, Assembly Bill 746 bans residents of apartments, condos, duplexes, and multi-family houses from smoking cigarettes and “tobacco products” inside their homes.
How does the Council plan to enforce this law? It would require constant surveillance of every apartment, condo, duplex, and multi-family home in the city. Even if nosy neighbors rat out smokers the police still have to prove that the accused were indeed smoking. This law will join the long list of laws that get passed with no regards to enforcement. Each of those laws makes the control freaks look more pathetic. This is why I welcome more of these ridiculous laws.
When people see a man dressed in a state issued custom that includes a shiny metal badge they have a tendency to trust that person. This is not a smart strategy if one wants to guarantee their safety. Putting aside the danger police officers hold, let’s consider the danger posed by people who impersonate police officers. By impersonating a police officer an individual can gain a level of authority over others that they generally wouldn’t have. That means they can more easily perform wicked acts such as rape:
A man posing as a police officer is believed to have kidnapped and sexually assaulted a Minneapolis woman Saturday in Fridley before doing the same to a second woman hours later near the University of Minnesota, an Anoka County sheriff’s official said Monday. Rarely do suspects in violent crimes impersonate police officers, say Minneapolis police and Anoka County authorities, who have been conferring over the cases.
The suspect in the Fridley rape, which occurred near City Hall at 1 p.m. Saturday, told the victim that he was a detective before kidnapping her, said Anoka County Sheriff’s Commander Paul Sommer. Early Sunday morning, a man fitting a similar description and wearing a badge approached a woman near the U. In both cases, the suspect’s small, dark-colored SUV was described as having a squad-like computer dashboard, Minneapolis police and Anoka County authorities said.
“There’s a pattern here,” said Sommer. “Basically, his modus operandi was the same. He approaches a victim, identifies himself as a police officer, kidnaps them, sexually assaults them and releases them.”
In Minnesota we are not required to inform a police officer that we’re carrying a firearm unless directly asked. There is a lot of debate surrounding whether or not one should inform an officer immediately or wait until he or she asks. I’m a firm believer that one should not volunteer such information because the police officer may not be an actual police officer. If you volunteer such information up front you may find yourself disarmed while facing a police impersonator who means you harm. Anybody can get a hold of a police costume and badge so those objects don’t guarantee authenticity.
On a side note I must also point out the brilliance of impersonating a police officer while committing crimes. What better way to blend in with a crowd a criminals than to dress as a criminal in the largest violent gang in the area?
Remember when the domestic police force were considered separate from the standing military? Those days are gone. Today the domestic police are nothing more than a local army. In fact domestic police are even receiving old military equipment:
Coming soon to your local sheriff: 18-ton, armor-protected military fighting vehicles with gun turrets and bulletproof glass that were once the U.S. answer to roadside bombs during the Iraq war.
The hulking vehicles, built for about $500,000 each at the height of the war, are among the biggest pieces of equipment that the Defense Department is giving to law enforcement agencies under a national military surplus program.
At this rate local police departments will be receiving surplus M1 Abrams tanks. There is some good news though:
But the trucks have limits. They are too big to travel on some bridges and roads and have a tendency to be tippy on uneven ground. And then there’s some cost of retrofitting them for civilian use and fueling the 36,000-pound behemoths that get about 5 miles to the gallon.
Not only do these surplus machines cost a fortune to operate but they appear to be rather unstable on uneven terrain. In fact I would bet that one of these monstrosities would tip over pretty quickly if enough people ran up to one side and bang rocking it. A high center of gravity is a notoriously bad design feature in a military vehicle.
Once again I find myself in a position where I have to rag on a recent libertarian favorite. This time around it’s Ted Cruz. Mr. Cruz won a great deal of respect within libertarian circles for taking a stance against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is my firm belief that one cannot truly be a libertarian, that is to say somebody who abides by the non-aggression principle, and an advocate of foreign intervention. Mr. Cruz has decided that nonintervention doesn’t suite him because he feels that it is the place of the United States to be Israel’s personal defensive force:
“According to the interim agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program that was reached this weekend in Geneva, not one centrifuge will be destroyed. Not one pound of enriched uranium will leave Iran. Not one American unjustly detained in Iran’s notorious prisons will be released. But Iran will start to receive, in a matter of days, $7 billion in relief from international economics sanctions.
“All the smiling embraces between diplomats after the interim deal was signed notwithstanding, the Iranian regime remains a brutal and oppressive dictatorship that pursues nuclear weapons for the purpose of dominating the Middle East and threatening America and our allies, notably Israel. President Obama and Secretary Kerry should reconsider their policy of rapprochement with Iran that is dismaying to Jerusalem and encouraging to Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted this agreement would be a ‘very, very bad deal’ and has now correctly identified it as an ‘historic mistake.’ Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted his satisfaction as the ‘breaking down the architecture for sanctions has begun.’ The administration has gotten it backwards and it is time to reverse course before any further damage is done.”
I actually find it rather laughable that many people in the United States think so lowly of Israel’s military capabilities as to believe that United States intervention is necessary for its survival. Furthermore, I’m left wondering how far their support for the United States’ involvement in Israel’s defense goes. Would Ted Cruz be willing to send his two children off to die for Israel? What about his nieces and nephews? A common thread I find with advocates of foreign intervention is an unwillingness to send their own family members off to die in a foreign land.
Rattling sabers is not an effective foreign relations strategy. It only muddles this country in the affairs of others, which serves no purpose other than to expand the empire. If Ted Cruz really considers himself a libertarian he should not be calling for stronger intervention in the Middle East. Instead he should be calling for no intervention in the Middle East.
My weekend ended up being extremely busy. I just acquired a Pebble smart watch and began playing with the developer tools on Saturday. Last night a group of friends and myself began discussions on setting up a mesh network in Minneapolis. What I didn’t have time to do is writing new blog posts but those will likely come later this evening.
Until then I hope this week’s Monday Metal entry will hold you over. This song was gloriously stolen from a friend’s Facebook page. I know nothing about this band but I dug the song:
How can you tell when the War on Terror has been lost? When the founder of
Erik Prince is not the kind of man one expects to make the case for slashing U.S. intelligence and military budgets. After 9-11, his company, Blackwater, expanded exponentially, winning contracts to protect diplomats and politicians in Iraq and to train and work with CIA paramilitary teams hunting terrorists.
In an interview Monday, Prince said the national security state he once served has grown too large.
“America is way too quick to trade freedom for the illusion of security,” he told The Daily Beast. “Whether it’s allowing the NSA to go way too far in what it intercepts of our personal data, to our government monitoring of everything domestically and spending way more than we should. I don’t know if I want to live in a country where lone wolf and random terror attacks are impossible ‘cause that country would look more like North Korea than America.”
Even the people who made themselves wealthy off of the War on Terror can’t continue to promote it. Of course the state will continue to wage its war because that’s all it knows how to do. After all, the War on Terror was never about fighting terrorists, it was about expropriating wealth from foreign nations.
Today, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to ban the manufacturing of guns by 3-D printers, making Philly the first city to do so. Which is interesting, because the author of the bill, Kenyatta Johnson, isn’t aware of of any local gun-printing 3-D printers. ”It’s all pre-emptive,” says Johnson’s director of legislation Steve Cobb. “It’s just based upon internet stuff out there.”
As I discussed last year, decentralized manufacturing of firearms is impossible for the state to shut down. The only way Philadelphia could begin to enforce this law is if police officers made daily searches of every building within city limits. Even then very clever people could find ways of hiding their setup.
Banning 3D printed firearms is the last gasp of desperate control freaks. In the hopes of maintaining some semblance of control they pass their ineffective laws. These laws only serve those of us who oppose those in power. When these laws are passed and continuously violated we can point it out and demonstrate that, in effect, the emperor wears no clothes.