Archive for the ‘Politics’ tag
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Every government needs scapegoats. The United States and Europe have Islam. Islamists in the Middle East have the United States and Europe. North Korea has South Korea. Every government has somebody. In fact, almost every government has multiple somebodies. In addition to Islam, the United States also has North Korea and North Korea, likewise, has the United States. Islamists in the Middle East have the United States, Europe, and Israel.
The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. If a government doesn’t have multiple scapegoats, it runs the risk of running out. Russia has had the United States for a long time but it, like every other government, is constantly looking for more. Recently, if found a new scapegoat in the form of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
MOSCOW — Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that rejects violence, an extremist organization, banning the group from operating on Russian territory and putting its more than 170,000 Russian worshipers in the same category as Islamic State militants.
The ruling, which confirmed an order last month by the Justice Ministry that the denomination be “liquidated” — essentially eliminated or disbanded — had been widely expected. Russian courts rarely challenge government decisions, no matter what the evidence.
What threat could a small non-violent denomination have to the Russian people? None whatsoever. But that’s not the point. The point is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a minority religion within Russia, which means a lot of Russians aren’t familiar with them so the State can therefore mold the believers into whatever it needs. The Russian government also knows that ordering the religion disbanded won’t work, it will merely push the believers underground. This, again, is exactly what the government wants. If the religion is allowed to exist above ground then its believers can openly present themselves to the masses. This makes it easier for them to show Russians exactly what Jehovah’s Witnesses really are all about. If their religion is forced underground, they cannot openly present themselves so the State is more or less free to propagandize against them.
It’s an old trick but an effective one. Now the Russian government will be free to blame whatever ills it has inflicted on its people on Jehovah’s Witnesses and show the people why they need their government to protect them.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend is a popular sentiment. Hell, a great deal of the United States’ foreign policy is built on that sentiment. But is it always true?
Here in the United States we’re in the midsts of a political class. Communists have been working, and have been greatly successful, at gaining control over academia. While their political opponents have been trying to push them back they have met with little success. So we now exist in a country where college campuses have a tendency to lean heavily to the left. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, a new group has promised to take care of this communist menace. This group, as you’ve probably guessed, is the alt-right.
While the alt-right is still pushing socialism, it’s pushing a “lighter” form of socialism. This has lead a lot of libertarians and conservatives to side with the alt-right on the grounds that the enemy of their enemy is their friend. Mind you, this is nothing new for libertarians and conservatives. A lot of them sided with the Republican Party for the same reason (just look at the political history of Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, and company). This is also nothing new for history.
During the early 1900’s communists were making a lot of headway in Europe. Several European countries fell to communist revolutions and their neighbors were desperate to find a way to ensure the same thing didn’t happen to them. That solution came in the form of a “lighter” form of socialism; fascism. Fascists were able to gain power in several European countries by exploiting both the government and peoples’ fear of communism. While many disagreed ideologically with fascism they also believed that it was a preferable alternative to communism. The enemy of their enemy had to be their friend, right?
I think most of us are well enough versed in history to know how that turned out. While people were dying left and right in countries that fell to communism, people were also dying left in right in countries that fell to fascism. While the fascists were successful at defeating the communists they were no better.
As we watch the alt-right and communists “fight” (really live-action role-play) remember that the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. The alt-right is offering a solution to the communist problem and the antifa is offering a solution to the alt-right problem but is either actually better than the other? I think history has shown that “lighter” socialism ends up being just as destructive as “full” socialism, which shouldn’t be surprising since both fascism and communism are authoritarian and pragmatic in nature.
“I believe in the freedom of speech but…” “I believe in gun ownership but…” “I believe warrants should be required to search homes but…” Whenever you hear somebody tack on a “but” to their claim that they support a supposed right you know that the next thing coming out of their mouth will invalidate their claim.
Freedom of speech may be the only right cited more often than the right to keep and bear arms. How many times have you heard somebody say a variation of, “You can’t censor me! I have a First Amendment right!” If I had a nickel for everybody I have I’d probably be the wealthiest man on Earth. But many of the people who cite the First Amendment as protection against censoring their speech are quick to add a bunch of exceptions for speech they dislike. In recent times a lot of people have started citing the “Nazi Exception.” They claim that anybody who is advocating for Nazism, which is often a euphemism for any political speech they don’t agree with, should be censored. Fortunately, Ken White wrote a thorough refutation of the “Nazi Exception”:
Isn’t it simple? Isn’t it principled? Isn’t it safe? They’re not trying to silence all speech. They just don’t want to allow speech that calls for their extermination, dangerous speech.
First, the argument relies on a false premise: that we don’t, or shouldn’t, extent rights to people who wouldn’t extend those rights to us. This is childish nonsense, and a common argument for tyranny. We criminal defense lawyers know it very well: why should this guy get a trial? He didn’t give his victim a trial. Why should she be shown any mercy? She didn’t show her victims mercy. Why does he get due process? He didn’t give his victims due process. The argument is particularly popular since 9/11. You hear it a lot whenever anyone suggests that maybe people accused of being terrorists — or of being someone who might plausibly grow up to be a terrorist, or might take up terrorism as soon as this wedding is over — perhaps should be treated as having some sort of right not to be killed or tortured or indefinitely detained. Nonsense, is the response. They wouldn’t give you any rights. The constitution isn’t a suicide pact! It’s also popular in matters of modern religious liberty. How can you argue that Muslims should have the freedom to worship here when Muslim countries deny Christians and Jews that right? In this manner, the student Left represented by the quotes below shares an ethos with the authoritarian and racist wings of the Right. A common taste for authoritarianism makes strange bedfellows.
Exceptions to declared rights are always a slippery slope. At first there are only a few put into place. But those few are used as justification for more. As time goes on more exceptions are added until everybody realizes that everything they want to say is pretty much illegal.
“But we can all agree that advocating Nazism is dangerous, right?” Sure. But so is advocating communism. Yet most of the people trying to establish a “Nazi Exception” would be opposed to a “Communist Exception” even though communists have killed even more people than nazis (but only because communism has lasted longer).
Another thing that is dangerous to advocate is democracy. Saying that pisses off a lot of people because they hold democracy up to be a perfect system of governance but let’s apply democracy to this problem. Let’s say the current party in power votes to establish a “Nazi Exception.” It gets passed and everybody cheers. Four years later an election leads to a change in power. The new power decides that there should also be a “Muslim Exception” and votes to pass it. Now the nation has the “Nazi Exception” that so many people wanted but it was used as justification by the new party in power to pass the “Muslim Exception” that they wanted. Democracy has just allowed a group that the “Nazi Exception” advocates hate to get their way. My point? What constitutes dangerous speech varies from person to person. You might believe that advocating Nazism is dangerous and I wouldn’t disagree with you. But you may flip your shit when I point out that democracy is dangerous. Where should the line be drawn?
As I’ve said before, if you hand power to the State you have to accept that that power may be wielded by people you hate. Handing that power over when the party you support is in power sounds like a jolly good idea. But the party you hate may only be a single election away from obtaining power and then it will inherit that power. After that your “Nazi Exception” may become a “Muslim Exception.”
Tax seasons has once again come and gone. Now that everybody has filed their papers that will hopefully appease the State enough that it won’t send men with guns to your doorstep, I think it’s time to reflect on just what the income tax means. Simply put, the existence of the income tax means that you’re property:
The great essayist Frank Chodorov once described the income tax as the root of all evil. His target was not the tax itself, but the principle behind it. Since its implementation in 1913, he wrote, “The government says to the citizen: ‘Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide.”
The income tax, like so many other government evils, seemed innocent enough when it was first proposed. It wasn’t going to be used to soak the poor or middle class. Heck, it wasn’t even going to be used to soak the wealthy. It was only going to be used to take an infinitesimal percentage of the income of the wealthiest Americans. Fast forward 104 years and we’re all being soaked.
Precedence is something I like to point out periodically. The government likes to grant itself seemingly innocent powers. Often these grants of power are even celebrated by the masses. But as time goes on the seemingly innocent grants of power are used as justification for overtly sinister grants of power. The income tax is the perfect example. Although it started as a tax that only targeted the rich, it established the precedence that the State has first claim to income. That precedence was used to expand the income tax until it applied to everybody’s income. Now even the poor get a percentage of their income skimmed off of the top by Uncle Sam.
The income tax may have been one of the most egregious grants of power because it established the precedence that individuals, not just the products they make or trade, are government property.
The people of Venezuela are starving, the nation’s currency is in free fall, and the government is arresting anybody who expresses displeasure with the situation on charges of sabotage. In other words, Venezuela is experiencing late stage socialism. As with most failing socialist (a redundant term, I know) governments, the government of Venezuela is trying to maintain its grip through terror. But terror only works when people have something to lose. When faced with the prospects of complying and starving to death or fighting and possibly surviving, people will often choose the latter.
Maduro, Venezuela’s dictator, is seeing the writing on the wall. The people are angry with him and his policies and look to be gearing up for a revolution. In response, he has begun arming his loyalists:
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he will expand the number of civilians involved in armed militias, providing guns to as many as 400,000 loyalists.
The announcement came as Maduro’s opponents are gearing up for what they pledge will be the largest rally yet to press for elections and a host of other demands Wednesday.
History shows that late stage socialism has two possible outcomes. The first is that somebody like Gorbachev obtains power and implements policies that allow a peaceful transition away from socialism. Maduro doesn’t appear to be a Gorvachev so Venezuela will likely experience the second possible outcome, civil war. I hope that Maduro sees the hopelessness of his situation and abdicates power but I’m guessing this mess will only end with blood.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Likewise, socialism by any other name would smell just as awful.
The United States is in the midsts of a small cultural skirmish. International socialists, often going by the moniker “antifascists,” are locking horns with national socialists, who are going by the moniker “alt-right.” These fights have been mostly silly to outside observers since they more resemble skits from The Three Stooges than Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts. Both sides seem to believe that they’re the exact opposite of each other but in reality they’re mirror images of one another:
People often argue over whether Hitler and Mussolini were “right wing” or “left wing.” More to the point is that both men’s ideologies had roots in the Progressive movement of the turn of the 20th century.
The Progressive movement was closely tied to the philosophy of Pragmatism: the belief that thought is a tool for action and change. In contrast to the ancient and medieval philosophers, for whom philosophy was the contemplation of reality, the Progressives were animated by the desire to mold reality and to harness knowledge for social betterment. Many in the vanguard of progressive thought initially were enamored of Mussolini and even Hitler, considering their dictatorships a useful “social experiment.”
Complete state control of all aspects of life was seen as highly pragmatic and scientific by many. Nationalism and militarism – elements commonly associated with the Right – were actually key components of the Progressive Era, flourishing in particular under President Woodrow Wilson, as Goldberg documents.
I’m not an “ends justify the means” kind of guy specifically because following that philosophy leads to national or international socialism, which both lead to democide.
I have friends who have cheered and antifascist punching a fascist and other friends who have cheered a fascist punching an antifascist. These friends of mine have been sucked into a trap where they believe each side’s rhetoric about being the opposite of the other side. Personally, I like the idea of locking these two groups into an arena, throwing a few swords into the mix, and letting them fulfill their goal of wiping the other group out. But I digress.
The fight between national and international socialists is no different than the fight between statist libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, with the exception being that the latter hasn’t turned into a Three Stooges skit yet. It’s not a fight between two opposing groups but infighting amongst two factions of the same group that have very minor disagreements.
Rahm Emanuel is the current feudal lord of Chicago. Throughout his political life he has been an unapologetic advocate of big government. How to pay for big government programs is a question that appears to never have crossed his mind, until now:
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a message for the Trump administration as it prepares an infrastructure-building push: The money has got to come from somewhere.
“You’re going to have to be honest with people: It takes money,” Mr. Emanuel said Wednesday at a breakfast panel in The Wall Street Journal’s “Business of America” series. “When we built schools and roads in Iraq, we didn’t do it on tax credits.”
I can see the lightbulb lighting up over his head, although very dimly. Still, the habit of politicians to both espouse certain political beliefs and simultaneously speaking out against them has always fascinated me. Mr. Emanuel is a great example of this. When it comes to his pet projects spending isn’t an issue. When it comes to his political opponents’ projects spending is suddenly an important issue.
New York is considering make college tuition “free”for all students from households that earn less than $125,000 per year:
ALBANY, New York (Fox 32 News) – This weekend, the New York state legislature moved another step towards making tuition free for all public four-year colleges in the state.
The free college educations are part of the state budget agreement.
The Washington Post reported if the budget passes, the state it will pay tuition for any New York resident accepted into a New York community college or four-year university. The student’s family must earn less than $125,000/year.
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Electricity, water, building maintenance, food, professors, etc. all need to be acquired and acquiring those things costs money. Simply passing a piece of legislation doesn’t make economic realities go away (believe me, many socialist nations have tried). New York isn’t proposing free college, it’s proposing a plan to dump the costs on somebody besides the students. In this case, as is the case with all “free” government programs, the costs will be dumped on the denizens of New York. Not only will households making more than $125,000 per year be soaked more but taxes will have to go towards college tuition as well. Instead of the students going to college paying for it, this proposal will make tax payers in New York pay for it whether they are or have students in a New York university or not.
But so many people have been “educated” in government indoctrination centers that they’ll eagerly lap this nonsense up. Then after everything goes to Hell they’ll demand the government step in again to fix the mess it created.
One of the funniest forms of criticism, in my opinion, is claiming that a new entity will be able to do the same thing a current entity is doing. For example, Alabama just voted to allow churches to establish their own police departments. My favorite part about this isn’t the idea of churches with
inquisitors police departments though, it’s this:
Critics of the bill argue that a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes.
Oh no! Church police departments may be able to do the exact same thing government police departments already do on a daily basis?!
These critics may want to think really hard about what they’re saying. They may come to an interesting revelation.
Because most politicians today lack any kind of spine, most states have laws against public officials solving disputes by dueling. Oregon might changed that. There may be a ballot initiative in that state to remove the prohibition from the constitution:
Should ongoing discussions in Salem materialize, voters would see a question on their general-election ballots asking if a 172-year-old ban on dueling by public officials — as in, the old-fashioned way of resolving fights — should be erased from the Oregon Constitution.
The constitutional ban in question is Article II, Section 9, which says anyone who offers, accepts, knowingly participates in a “challenge to fight a duel … or who shall agree to go out of the State to fight a duel, shall be ineligible to any office of trust, or profit.” (this is exact language from the constitution)
I’m of the opinion that dueling between politicians shouldn’t only be legal, it should be mandatory! They’re constantly looking for ways to use the State’s capacity for violence to enforce their will upon the people. That being the case, they should have to face some of that government violence themselves. Although I have my doubts that this proposal will gain any traction, if it does I hope the people of Oregon eagerly support repealing the prohibition.