The First Transhumans, or Why Doc Savage Lost His Superpowers 1
by Jess Nevins

The First Transhumans, or Why Doc Savage Lost His Superpowers

Transhumanism is a popular movement to convert ordinary humans into superhumans, using technology. For 20 years, transhumanism has been a favored topic of futurists, who see it as a possible salvation for humanity.

But we’ve already seen one attempt at transhumanism, and it failed – badly.

The Victorians and New Athleticism

The British took great pride in their imperial accomplishments, but considerably less so in those who were actually establishing, and holding on to, the Empire itself. In the late 18th century the British public was convinced that the British soldier was weak, inferior, and physically unsuitable for representing the Crown. After the end of the Napoleonic wars, British Army leadership decided that soldiers needed more than just formal drills and team sports to get British soldiers into shape. The British government decided to imitate the athletic and gymnastic movements of Western Europe, which emphasized repeated exercise on the forerunners of the modern balance beam, horizontal bar, parallel bar, and vaulting horse. But despite changes to the exercise regimens of the British public, military, and schoolboys, no progress was made, and by the Crimean War in the 1850s British soldiers were once again viewed as physically inferior.

In the aftermath of the Crimean War, two separate social movements arose. The first was “muscular Christianity,” whose proponents believed not only in mens sana in corpore sano, a sound mind in a sound body, but that it was a Christian’s duty to build and maintain a sound, healthy body. More broadly, Muscular Christianity was a rebuke to the notion that physical weakness and effeminacy were connected to spiritual strength.

The second social movement was the “New Athleticism,” which attempted to use sports to instill character, manliness, and modesty, create teamwork, and bridge class differences. New Athleticism spawned numerous organizations and social groups who propagandized for the virtues of cricket, football, and rugby, as well as more general exercise.

Both Muscular Christianity and New Athleticism were touted as the solution for what was seen as the “degenerate” state of the British working classes’ bodies. For many Britons, the body of the British soldier was the representation and even reification of racial fitness and idealized masculinity — and most British soldiers came from the working class. But many Britons during the 1860s and 1870s became convinced that the average British soldier was weaker than his predecessors. Fears that the empire was in decline were commonplace, increasing numbers of men were found to be physically invalid for military service, and it was commonly believed that the infant mortality rate was skyrocketing. Most Britons believed that the British race was decaying and in danger of becoming decadent. These ideas gained power in the 1880s and 1890s and became convictions deeply held by many in the thinking and policy-making classes.


Cryonics, Nanotechnology and Transhumanism: Utopia Then and Now Reply

Over the past few years there has been increasing friction between a subset of cryonicists, and people in the Transhumanist (TH) and Technological Singularity communities, most notably those who follow the capital N, Nanotechnology doctrine.[1, 2] Or perhaps more accurately, there has been an increasing amount of anger and discontent on the part of some in cryonics over the perceived effects these “alternate” approaches to and views of the future have had on the progress of cryonics. While I count myself in this camp of cryonicists, I think it’s important to put these issues into perspective, and to give a first-hand accounting of how n(N)anotechnology and TH first intersected with cryonics.

At left, the cover the first cryonics brochure to use the idea of nanotechnological cell repair as a rescue strategy for cryopatients. The brochure was sent out as a mass mailing (~10,000 copies) to special interest groups deemed of relevance in 1984.

It is important to understand that the nanotechnology folks didn’t come to cryonicists and hitch a ride on our star. Quite the reverse was the case. Eric Dexler was given a gift subscription to Cryonics magazine by someone, still unknown, well before the publication of Engines of Creation.[3] When he completed his draft of Engines, which was then called The Future by Design, he sent out copies of the manuscript to a large cross-section of people – including to us at Alcor. I can remember opening the package with dread; by that time we were starting to receive truly terrible manuscripts from Alcor members who believed that they had just written the first best selling cryonics novel. These manuscripts had to be read, and Hugh Hixon and I switched off on the duty of performing this uniformly onerous task.

At left, Eric Drexler, circa the 1980s.

It was my turn to read the next one, so as soon as I saw there was a manuscript in the envelope, I put my legs up on my desk and started reading, hoping to “get it over with” before too much of the day had escaped my grasp. I was probably 5 or 10 pages into the Velobound book, when I uttered an expletive-laced remark to the effect that this was a really, really important manuscript, and one that was going to transform cryonics, and probably the culture as a whole. After Hugh read it, he concurred with me.


Human Rights: The Useless Fiction Reply

Article by Paul Gottfried.

I watched a Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate bring an evangelical crowd to their feet three years ago by announcing that “Owning a gun is a human right.” I mumbled to myself: “So is protection from body odor.”

It’s not that I’m against people owning guns, but there are multiple reasons to defend such practices without invoking phantom “rights.” It is possible to defend broad gun ownership on practical grounds as something that reduces the likelihood that the carrier will be hurt in a violent assault. I could easily construct a defense of gun ownership without once mentioning the concoction of “human rights.”

Human rights is an invention of loudmouthed journalists, political theorists looking for trips to the UN, and celebrities who are pushing pet causes.

Times change, and so does the catalogue of human rights designed to justify the prevalent political and cultural attitudes. It is impossible to separate the idea of human rights from the political agendas of those wielding this rhetorical weapon.

“It is impossible to separate the idea of human rights from the political agendas of those wielding this rhetorical weapon.”

Concepts of human rights usually reflect the biases of the age. These rights are also replaceable. It is naïve to think those “rights to life and liberty” in the Declaration of Independence as understood by Thomas Jefferson are the only rights around which our political lives have been made to center. Terms such as “liberty” and “the pursuit of happiness” have now been given meanings beyond anything that Jefferson—or the person from whom he cribbed the passage, John Locke—could have intended.


Albert Camus: Life is Absurd, Rebél, Live, and Try To Die Happy Reply

Article by Thomas N. Naylor.

When I first read Albert Camus’s The Stranger as a college student in 1957, it went right over my head.  I was clueless as to what this book was about.  When I re-visited it twenty-five years later, I was so taken by Camus that I soon read everything that he had written which had been published in English.

Born in Algeria in 1913, Camus became the editor of the French Resistance underground newspaper Combat in Paris during World War II and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.  He died in an automobile accident on January 4, 1960.  A card-carrying agnostic, who struggled with Christianity throughout his life, Camus had an uncanny grasp of the human condition and an unwavering predisposition towards rebellion against it.

His English-speaking followers have recently been afforded a long-awaited treat with the publication of a 208-page photograph album (in English) edited by his surviving daughter, Catherine Camus, Albert Camus: Solitude and Solidarity (Edition Olms, 2012).  It is truly delightful.

I believe that Camus figured out many of the important pieces of the puzzle of life, but because his own life was prematurely snuffed out by a tragic accident, he never got around to connecting the dots.  Be that as it may, Camus’s philosophy of life appears to rest on three interconnected theories: a theory of the absurd, a theory of rebellion, and a theory of death.


In Defense — Such As It Is — of Usufructory Land Ownership Reply

Article by Kevin Carson.

I may be writing under false pretenses. Although I was invited here to make a case for the “occupancy-and-use” or usufructory land property theory of P.J. ProudhonJ.K. Ingalls andBenjamin Tucker, I’m going to devote most of this article to what it has in common with other libertarian land rights theories.

Although I still favor the occupancy-and-use standard, I do so much less stridently than I once did. I believe that what the principled land rights theories have in common is more important than what separates us.

I still agree with Bill Orton’s argument, stated about ten years ago, that no particular set of property rules can be logically deduced from self-ownership and nonaggression. (His arguments were set forth on several now-defunct libertarian message boards, but you can find his website here.)  Orton argued that the basic principles of self-ownership and nonaggression were compatible with any number of different property rules systems. Those principles had to be applied to a particular property rights template to determine who the “aggressor” and “victim” were in any instance. In a mutualist, occupancy-and-use system, a self-styled landlord attempting to collect rent would be the aggressor, invading the property rights of the occupant-user. But in an identical instance, in a non-Proviso Lockean system, the occupant – or squatter – might well be considered the agressor.

Since no particular set of land property rules can be deduced from fundamental moral axioms, they must be evaluated on utilitarian or practical grounds: i.e., the extent to which they maximize other, fundamental moral principles.

The chief normative values I believe a property rights regime should optimize are to guarantee to the greatest extent possible the ability of the owner to recoup her labor input (in the form of buildings and improvements) from the land, and to minimize the amount of overall privilege and rent extraction.


The Derb is the Word…or is He? Reply

From MRDA’s Inferno.


Who would’ve thought such a mild-mannered, bourgeois Englishman could ignite such a fibre-optic firestorm?

A few weekends back, all right-thinking Left-leaners united for a hyperextended Two Minutes Hate session against one John Derbyshire, a Brit expat and paleocon pundit who occupies a comfy niche amongst America’s “alternative Right”. Turns out that the round-goggled reprobate saw fit to scribe a rather un-PC survival guide for the melanin-deficient; and, judging from the resultant comments, and the rash of responses from various Lefty haunts, it appears to have left many a pissed-off Progressive in its wake.

Having previously clicked and leafed through Derbyshire’s output, including his musings on multiculturalism, immigration, and racial IQ, I registered little in the way of surprise when I read the article. It struck me as something of a synthesis of his scribblings, citing crime stats and group averages to concretize another slab of “conservative pessimism”.

I must admit that, whilst I’m not down with the paleocon paradigm for a number of reasons, I appreciate their often incisive criticisms of PC equalitarian conceits. Similarly, whatever misgivings I have with Derb’s Taki Mag piece, I admire his refusal to apologize to his detractors for speaking his mind, even in the face of a firing.

That said, “The Talk” left me feeling rather ambivalent upon “hearing” it… More…

World’s most threatened tribe faces extinction Reply

Hat tip to Troy Southgate.

ne of the last remaining nomadic tribes of the Amazon faces extinction unless urgent action is taken to protect them from violent invaders intent on throwing them off their land, a leading human rights organisation has warned.

The rarely glimpsed Awa of the Brazilian Amazon are now considered to be the globe’s ‘most threatened tribe’ as land grabs from illegal loggers, ranchers and settlers displace a people who have lived in the Brazilian rainforests for centuries.

First discovered in the mid-1970s, 360 surviving members of the Awa tribe are currently in contact with the outside world, with a further 60-100 believed to be taking refuge in the forests.

The Awa are one of the world’s last fully nomadic groups. They are hunter-gatherers, relying solely on the Amazon as a food source. The tribe utilises products of the forest in their day-to-day life, using palm leaves to make shelters, clothing and baby carriers, resin from trees to make fires and plants to cure a number of ailments.

Campaign group Survival International has been working to protect the Awa since their territory in Maranhao state was opened up to the outside world in 1982 when rich deposits iron ore in the Carajas mountains were first exploited. Indigenous peoples constitutionally hold first rights to land in Brazil, but a programme of rail and road building in the Awa’s territory connecting the mines to the coast ran roughshod over their liberties.

The remote Awa tribe are still largely untouched by civilisation. © Domenico Pugliese/Survival

According to Survival International’s research director Fiona Watson a third of the rainforest traditionally populated only by the Awa has been wiped out since development first began. New settlers have committed atrocities and brought with them diseases against which the Awa have no immunity.

“I have spoken to Awa who have told me that they have seen their relatives being shot in front of their eyes when they were living remote and uncontacted in the forest,” she told Yahoo! News. “Lots of the cattle ranchers and loggers are heavily armed and operate like gangs. These kinds of attacks are happening all the time.


US-Israel War on Iran : The Myth of Limited Warfare Reply

by Prof. James Petras

(Editor’s note: Read this and spread it widely. Before you begin reading, you may not realize how desperately bad this potential war will be. We have talked about how the Dollar will collapse from either (1) China’s efforts to dethrone the Dollar as world reserve currency, or (2) the Euro’s collapse which will take the Dollar with it. But I have not factored in war in the Middle East. I will now. The first wave of war that Professor Petras speaks of may collapse the world economy, but China and Russia will remain on the sidelines during initial hostilities. If it goes badly for Iran, expect them both to jump in. Perhaps the Biblical prediction of the Battle of Armageddon will come true.)


The mounting threat of a US-Israeli military attack against Iran is based on several factors including: (1) the recent military history of both countries in the region, (2) public pronouncements by US and Israeli political leaders, (3) recent and on-going attacks on Lebanon and Syria, prominent allies of Iran, (4) armed attacks and assassinations of Iranian scientists and security officials by proxy and/or terrorist groups under US or Mossad control, (5) the failure of economic sanctions and diplomatic coercion, (6) escalating hysteria and extreme demands for Iran to end legal, civilian use-related uranium enrichment, (7) provocative military ‘exercises’ on Iran’s borders and war games designed for intimidation and a dress rehearsal for a preemptive attack, (8) powerful pro-war pressure groups in both Washington and Tel Aviv including the major Israeli political parties and the powerful AIPAC in the US, (9) and lastly the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (Obama’s Orwellian Emergency Decree, March 16, 2012).

The US propaganda war operates along two tracks: (1) the dominant message emphasizes the proximity of war and the willingness of the US to use force and violence. This message is directed at Iran and coincides with Israeli announcements of war preparations. (2) The second track targets the ‘liberal public’ with a handful of marginal ‘knowledgeable academics’ (or State Department progressives) playing down the war threat and arguing that reasonable policy makers in Tel Aviv and Washington are aware that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons or any capacity to produce them now or in the near future. The purpose of this liberal backpedaling is to confuse and undermine the majority public opinion, which is clearly opposed to more war preparations, and to derail the burgeoning anti-war movement.

Needless to say the pronouncements of the ‘rational’ warmongers use a ‘double discourse’ based on the facile dismissal of all the historical and empirical evidence to the contrary. When the US and Israel talk of war, prepare for war and engage in pre-war provocations – they intend to go to war – just as they did against Iraq in 2003….


State-Capitalist Plutocracy or Free Market Prosperity? Reply

Article by Darian Worden.

While today’s states are very powerful, cracks in their power can open as they adapt to a changing world. Recession is not the only force of change. Economic and social practices and pressures that develop through increasing global contact will have a massive impact on the power and role of the state. Global commerce and communications continue to make the world more interconnected and interdependent.

Possible courses for the changing role of the state in an era of globalization can be represented by three general tendencies, keeping in mind that politics in reality will often be characterized by tensions between them.

The first possible course is reactionary nationalism.

The second is global corporate rule.

The third is global distributed power.

Reactionary nationalism involves the cultivation of local or national chauvinism, the closing of borders to people, products, and capital, and the suspicion of those perceived as “others” or “outsiders.”

Though this tendency does have the potential to inflict significant damage to life and prosperity, it probably will not see much success unless economic trouble becomes significantly more serious – which is of course possible. Regional spheres of influence and trade established in opposition to globalism can arise but they will still be connected to the global economy.


Free the Market, Abolish the Wage System Reply

Article by Kevin Carson.

Several weeks ago, Julian Sanchez announced his intent to leave the Cato Institute if the Koch brothers’ attempted takeover was successful. Corey Robin seized the opportunity to chide libertarians for our alleged inconsistency on the job culture (“When Libertarians Go to Work,” March 7).

Sanchez didn’t challenge the Kochs’ right to take over Cato if they could. He simply criticized a Koch takeover as undesirable. After such a takeover, he argued, he would likely face constraints on his autonomy and integrity from the new owners, with his freedom to seek out and speak the truth subordinated to their political agenda.

All well and good, says Robin. But why don’t libertarians like Sanchez follow such analysis to its logical conclusion? The Left has consistently criticized not only the culture of subordination in the workplace, but the economic power structures on which it depends.

Sanchez mentions lack of constraints from mortgage or family as a factor in his decision. Aha! says Robin — that’s just it! The vast majority of workers do experience such economic constraints, given the wealth and power differentials that the wage system depends on, and therefore don’t have the luxury of walking away from an authoritarian workplace. So Sanchez, typical libertarian that he is, ignores the ways in which the less privileged are subjected to coercive working conditions as a result of the economic structure.


Attack the System: Interview with Attie Schutte Reply

Listen to the interview.

April 12, 2012

Attie Schutte

Keith Preston interviews Attie Schutte. Topics include:

  • Attie’s background as a native Afrikaner and his observations of the changes in the South African nation since the coming to power of the African National Congress;
  • The current state of the South African economy, politics, and race relations;
  • The highly successful Afrikaner intentional community of Orania;
  • How Attie became aware of the dangers posed by all ideologies when they are combined with state power and developed an interest in the ideas of philosophical anarchism;
  • The shocking escalation of violent crime in South Africa and the problems this poses for the future security of the Afrikaner people.


We’re All Branch Davidians Now Reply

Article by Anthony Gregory.

Nineteen years ago, just outside Waco, Texas, the FBI demonstrated once again that the state at its core is a killing machine. Monarchy, democracy, or republic – any government as conventionally defined is a legal monopoly on violence. The state is always inclined toward oppression, division, conquest, and bloodshed, because these are its tools of trade.

Matters are no different here. The myth of a free America was always seen with bitter irony by those not blessed by such freedom. In the founding generation, as half a million labored in slavery, many who fought in the Revolution genuinely believed in liberty, but for the ruling elite who chided them on, liberty was hardly more than a slogan. This has always been true of our political leaders. The Father of the Country was a centralizing slaveowner. Old Hickory talked up freedom as he threatened war on South Carolina and forced the Cherokee to flee from their ancestral land on a barbarously murderous walk of shame. The Great Emancipator turned America into a military dictatorship and abolished the revolutionary right of secession. Wilson’s New Freedom was cover for a Prussianized war machine generating revenue for his profiteering buddies on Wall Street. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms failed to include the freedom not to be drafted or interned in a concentration camp. Ronald Reagan threw the wordfreedom around as he trained Latin American torturers and raped the Bill of Rights in the name of fighting drugs. The United States has never lived up to its rhetoric.


Attack the System: Interview with Russell Longcore Reply

Listen to the interview.

April 5, 2012

Russell Longcore

Keith Preston interviews Russell Longcore. Topics include:

  • How Russell’s political thinking shifted from the Republican Party to the Libertarians to anarchism.
  • His experiences with the Republican Party of Cobb County, Georgia and his up-close observations of Newt Gingrich.
  • The prospects and limitations of the Ron Paul campaign.
  • Why he is now a non-voter who rejects electoral politics.
  • The role of Thomas Paine and Lysander Spooner in the shaping of his political outlook.
  • How he came to advocate secession as the solution to the American empire’s failure.
  • How the BRIC axis is planning to challenge the dollar as the world reserve currency.
  • The likelihood of hyperinflation and the collapse of the U.S. economy in the future.
  • Why the breakup of the United States will more closely resemble the collapse of the Soviet empire rather than the colonial or Confederate secessions of 1776 and 1861.
  • How the principal tasks of new secessionist communities will be the creation of a stable monetary system, the enactment of a viable political charter, and the formation of a defensive militia.
  • His own conversion from evangelical Christianity to Deism.

Russell Longcore has an insurance claims practice in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He is the author of the book Insurance Claim Secrets Revealed.

Happy Birthday, Tom Szasz! Reply

From Free Association.

Today is Tom Szasz’s 92 birthday. I hope he’s having a great day with his family. Remarkably, Tom continues to publish a book a year. His awesome work is recommended to anyone who loves liberty. It’s a mistake to think his work is fundamentally about psychiatry. Fundamentally it is about the necessary integration of freedom and self-responsibility — and their enemy the state.

You can find a sample of his writings here. Some things I’ve written about Szasz include:

“Szasz in One Lesson”

“Szasz and Rand” (Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, pdf)

The Rhetoric and Reality of “Reform” 1

Article by David D’Amato.

Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, once in headlines over a prostitution scandal, is in the news again. President Obama, Spitzer says, talks tough on Wall Street, yet shrinks from attempts at real reform. Spitzer adds that, with this president, “you have to distinguish between the rhetoric and the reality.”

Parsing the rhetorical guile of political Newspeak turns up helpful hints, especially when it comes to talk of reining in the likes of Bank of America and Citigroup. The truth is that the president is far from unique among the political class in his coziness with the banking elite. Historically, the largest and most influential banks have benefited enormously at the growth of the central state, including naturally the growth of the US central bank, the Federal Reserve System.

But there is an alternative to cursory talk of reform, one that actually would limit the dominion of plutocratic central decision-makers — both in business and in government — over the economic system, and in turn over our lives.

Stateless, free banking, the height of free association and voluntary trade, does not rely on the myth that the state and the economic ruling class are at odds. Rather free banking proceeds from and accepts, as economist Lawrence H. White writes, “the less question-begging assumption that government acts in its own pecuniary interest,” an interest that in practice has been closely aligned with that of a “central bank’s private constituency — presumably the large commercial banks.”

As usual, the effect of state intervention is not and never has been to place limitations on the growth and power of big business. It has instead been to structure, through a medley of entry barriers, an environment in which the economic ruling class is exempt from the hassles of legitimate competition.

All of the theoretical palavering, even where well-intentioned, regarding the best way to tinker with interest rates or the monetary base is completely empty, at least as an attempt at resolving the current state of affairs in finance. Even assuming that some single regulation — considered in the context of the existing oligopoly system — could indeed promote its purported goal of consumer protection, the overall product of the regulatory regime does not and cannot square with that goal.

And of course we couldn’t expect it to. Only free and open competition, with neither arbitrary constraints nor special privileges, can safeguard consumers against the abuses associated with monopoly. The common analytical mistake is to look upon the banking system of the present as relatively free from government interference, and to therefore impute its characteristic faults to laissez faire.

It shouldn’t be taken as coincidence, though, that the Wall Street giants and the Federal Reserve System are towering, dominant features in a banking system constantly lurching toward crisis. Market anarchists have long understood that the problems created by monetary centralization cannot be combated with yet more centralization.

Competition among banks as well as currencies would lead to stabilization of a type impossible for economies commanded by central banks (even assuming they had the necessary angelic motivations so often credited to them). Just the information necessary to arrive at, for instance, the ideal supply of circulating money at a given time is neither available to, nor susceptible to analysis by, a group of central bankers.

Only the unimpeded ebbs and flows of a genuine freed market, defined by billions of seemingly trivial consumer decisions, are competent to provide such coordination. Accordingly, the stability and efficiency functions of free banking harmonize seamlessly with its consumer protection functions.

It’s time to start treating the state and Wall Street like a single enemy. And in doing so, free banking is the natural solution.

C4SS News Analyst David S. D’Amato is a market anarchist and an attorney with an LL.M. in International Law and Business. His aversion to superstition and all permutations of political authority manifests itself

The Survivor: Richard Castaldo challenges the official Columbine narrative 6

By Andy Nowicki.

The Survivor

(Note: Most loyal Alternative Right readers are aware that I extensively researched the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999 en route to composing my novel The Columbine Pilgrim.While studying Columbine, I’ve befriended many other people, who for one reason or another find themselves drawn to the scrutiny and analysis of this most sensational and horrific of all high school spree killings in history.

Recently, through Utah-based Columbine researcher Reta Wallis, I was fortunate enough to meet Columbine survivor Richard Castaldo. Over the course of speaking to Reta and myself, Mr. Castaldo—whose crippled body is still riddled with bullets fired from the rifles of the Columbine gunmen– has spoken of his memories of that day, and in so doing, has revealed certain crucial details that he has never told anyone before.

Now, as an exclusive story broken here at Alternative Right, Richard’s sure to be controversial account is told for the first time, on the eve of the 13 year anniversary of the Columbine shooting.)


A survivor of the brutal massacre at Columbine High School 13 years ago has come forward with a startling new revelation concerning the events of that infamous day of horror and carnage.

Richard Castaldo, who as a 17-year old Columbine High School junior was among the first of the Columbine students to be shot by seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on April 20, 1999, now says he’s long kept certain details of the event secret for personal reasons.

But in an exclusive set of interviews with this reporter and his assistant, Castaldo has revealed his secret: After Dylan Klebold shot him, Castaldo now maintains, Eric Harris pointed his rifle at Castaldo and asked if he believed in God.

As frightened as he felt, Castaldo said he responded with candor.

“I answered honestly,” Castaldo says. “I told him ‘no’. I told him ‘no,’ and I ‘m alive because of it.”


Beware of System Libertarians Reply

Article by John Glaser.

I knew what Johnson was about years ago when as governor of New Mexico he said he opposed the drug war but refused to grant pardons to drug war prisoners because “they broke the law” or some such nonsense.


In an interview with the Daily Caller, presumptive Libertarian Party nominee for president Gary Johnson tries heartily to describe his foreign policy…or at least a foreign policy. Plainly put, the man is confused.

He says he supports U.S. military intervention in Uganda to root out the Lords Resistance Army and kill its leader, Joseph Kony. He thinks the drone war in Pakistan and Yemen creates more enemies than it eliminates, but doesn’t want to take drone strikes off the proverbial “table.” He wants to “completely withdraw our military presence” from Afghanistan, but wants to keep our military bases there. In fact, U.S. military bases should be maintained throughout the Middle East, he says, even though America faces “no military threats.” He supports “humanitarian intervention.” He wants to cut military and defense budgets by 43 percent, but only reduce national security spending to 2003 levels, “and just wring out the excess.”

Johnson is putting forth an image of himself of a former New Mexico governor who is outside the political establishment and serious about cutting spending. But evidently, the man hasn’t a clue what he is talking about with regards to foreign policy. His musings about war and intervention are little more than guesswork, wading his way through what he supposes is the libertarian position, while making clear he is no non-interventionist.

There is a strange habit the public and the reporting politicos perform when it comes to presidential candidates. They seem to assume that, since candidate X is running for president, surely he has studied the issues carefully. They don’t question candidates on their knowledge, only their “positions” (assuming they have been formed more than a millisecond before the question was asked). This was evident with Herman Cain’s blank-slate talk of “trusting the generals” and his embarrassing reveries about how to pronounce Uzbekistan. Mitt Romney has similarly shown himself cutely untaught on foreign policy issues by claiming Russia is America’s greatest foe, apparently never before hearing of the MeK, and doing a bit of guesswork of his own on Iran. But it seems Johnson has spent too much time on his 43-percent-spending-reduction talking points and far too little gaining any knowledge or developing any principled position whatsoever on foreign policy.

Responding to the Daily Caller interview, Brian Doherty at Reason’s Hit & Run wrote “he seems to lack either the systematic thinking or moral fervor that makes me trust him to reliably come to truly libertarian conclusions on many issues.” Ah, “systematic thinking” …such a lost art.

Mixing and Matching Reply

Article by Thomas Sowell.


Apparently the soaring national debt and the threat of a nuclear Iran are not enough to occupy the government’s time, because the Obama administration is pushing to force Westchester County, N.Y., to create more low-income housing, in order to mix and match classes and races to fit the government’s preconceptions.

Behind all this busy work for bureaucrats and ideologues is the idea that there is something wrong if a community does not have an even or random distribution of various kinds of people. This arbitrary assumption is that the absence of evenness or randomness – whether in employment, housing or innumerable other situations – shows a “problem” that has to be “corrected.”

No speck of evidence is considered necessary for this assumption to prevail at any level of government, including the Supreme Court of the United States. No one has to show the existence, much less the prevalence, of an even or random distribution of different segments of the population – in any country, anywhere in the world, or at any period of history.

Nothing is more common than for people to sort themselves out when it comes to residential housing, whether by class, race or other factors.


That Old Romanov Feeling Reply

Article by William S. Lind.

Required reading.


n 1914 the Houses of Hapsburg and Romanov sat transfixed, mesmerized by the central question: which would win this latest round in their old quarrel? But the paradigm had changed and both would lose, while the winners would be a distant American republic and a guy named Ulyanov sitting in a café in Zurich.

States, all states, now find themselves in a similar situation. The rise of Fourth Generation war, war waged outside the state framework, puts the state system itself in jeopardy. When one state fights another, the most likely outcome is that the loser disintegrates into another stateless region. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya offer painful examples.

But the governments of states don’t get it. They continue to act within the old paradigm of state vs. state even as doing so feeds the new post-state order. As Martin van Creveld—whose books The Transformation of War and The Rise and Decline of the State define the new paradigm—said to me, “Everyone can see it except the people in the capital cities.”

Exhibits A and B are two white papers issued by the U.S. government in January, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense” and “Defense Budget Priorities and Choices.” The first, the strategic guidance paper, acknowledges the failure of George W. Bush’s revived Wilsonianism:

In the aftermath of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States will emphasize non-military means … to address instability … U.S. forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations.

Instead, we will prepare for war with China.

President Obama’s letter introducing the strategic guidance make it plain: “as we end today’s wars, we will focus on a broader range of challenges and opportunities, including the security and prosperity of the Asia Pacific.” The paper itself says:

We will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region … the growth of China’s military power must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region. The United States will continue to make the necessary investments to ensure that we maintain regional access and the ability to operate freely.

In a column in the New York Times, James Traub simplifies the message: “This is bureaucratic code for ‘we will stand up to China,’ which, the Obama administration has concluded, has superceded Al Qaeda as the chief future threat to American national security.”

In the February 13 Financial Times, Raoul Heinrichs, a scholar at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, wrote, “what the U.S. is saying is that it wants to deny China the ability to control even its own maritime approaches.”

The parallel with the Romanovs is uncanny. After Russia’s defeat by Japan in 1905, St. Petersburg reoriented its expansionism toward the Balkans. We know how that ended.

The Pentagon needs an enemy to keep the money flowing, and after two failed land wars a confrontation with China promises a naval and air conflict. The “Defense Budget Priorities and Choices” paper states, “The focus on the Asia-Pacific region places a renewed emphasis on air and naval forces.” The thinking is that we can easily beat the Chinese in the skies and at sea.

That confidence may prove misplaced. At sea, China has an asymmetrical advantage if it goes nuclear. (After the Cold War, the U.S. Navy discovered that the Soviets had planned to go nuclear at sea at the outset of a superpower conflict, a nasty surprise.) If the Chinese nuke a carrier battle group, possibly with a ballistic missile attack, what do we do in response? China has no carrier task forces we can nuke. If we hit a naval base on the Chinese mainland, goodbye San Diego.

More fundamentally, what might happen if we won an air-sea war with China? A defeat would de-legitimize the none-too-stable government in Beijing. Upheaval within its borders could bring a breakup of the Chinese state and a new period of warring states; so China’s history suggests. No outcome could possibly be worse for American interests. The replacement of a unified China by a vast stateless region would be a victory beyond imagining for the Fourth Generation. The state would be shaken to its core.

Here we see the price of failing to grasp the coming paradigm and acting as if the old one were still in place. If the Washington Establishment had the slightest comprehension of grand strategy it would realize that the rise of Fourth Generation war demands an alliance of all states against non-state forces, just as in 1914 the rise of democracy and socialism demanded an alliance of all the European monarchies, especially the three strongest, Germany, Austria, and Russia. By fighting each other, they destroyed themselves. Today, when states fight other states the winners are non-state elements. As monarchy was at stake then, so the state system is at stake now. Everyone can see it, except the people in the capital cities.

The Nature of Empire Reply

Article by Kevin Carson.


Multitude, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, adds enormous clarity to the libertarian worldview.

The Westphalian nation-state’s sovereignty rested on its sole right to define the legitimacy of both use of violence within its boundaries and the exercise of violence against other nation-states. Under the Westphalian system, whatever their differences in actual military power, states regarded each other as equal sovereigns, with equal claims to territorial integrity and equal rights to conduct war, subject to common standards of legitimacy under international law.

This has been superseded by Empire. The Hegemon has the sole right to define legitimate state violence within the world system. It becomes, in effect, a super-state, excercising the same sovereign rights in the world-system as a whole that ordinary nation-states exercise internally. Hence the American national security establishment defining as a “threat” the credible ability to successfully resist American attack, and “aggression” as refusal to obey the Hegemon’s orders.

The Hegemon, as sovereign of the world-system, upholds a global system of power in exactly the same way national governments uphold their domestic systems of power.

War, for the Hegemon, is a police activity. Wars in the Westphalian system were limited to specific theaters of operations and specific timespans, directed against defined nation-states, and ended by treaty when their finite objectives were met. But the Hegemon’s military action is no extraordinary state of affairs that punctuates periods of peace; it is the normal, “peacetime” state of activity. Like the operation of police forces within the nation-state, the Empire’s military actions are continuous and omnipresent acts by which the system is constituted and maintained. War is the normal global state of affairs, just as “law enforcement” is the domestic norm.

The blurring between military and police action is exemplified by several things: Militarization of domestic police forces through SWAT teams; erosion of constraints on the use of the regular military for domestic law enforcement; and the use of drone warfare for constant police action in which foreign nationals are killed in large numbers on the territories of formerly sovereign nation-states, with which the U.S. is formally at peace, with or without their governments’ permission.

The passage of the National Defense Authorization Act is especially troubling in this regard. It formalizes the redefinition of U.S. territory as a permanent theater — the “Homeland” Command — in a global war, with American citizens subject to indefinite detention without charge just like foreign nationals in a foreign theater of operations. Like Italy in the Roman Empire, America is becoming just another province among many of a global Empire. Martial law, is implemented retail as an ordinary instrument of policy under bureaucratic caesarism rather than as an abrupt and dramatic act

File-sharers and hackers are increasingly classified as “terrorists” — the likely next shoe to drop being their assassination as “enemies” without due process — as the state imports military crowd control technologies for police repression of domestic protestors.

The sovereignty of foreign states is increasingly conditional, with the Hegemon revoking “failed states’” sovereignty and conferring it again after a process of “nation-building.” Like the American federal system in the Civil War and Reconstruction, the global system is reconstituting from one of equal sovereigns into one in which sovereignty is conferred by a central Hegemon. We’ve seen this in Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya — Syria’s probably next. If Iceland becomes an information haven for Wikileaks’ servers, or Spain and Greece fall to M15 and Syntagma, we may see American drones and special forces enforcing an American version of the Brezhnev Doctrine (no state, once having embraced neoliberalism, may secede from the Empire).

War is no longer an extraordinary use of force between states, but (in Hardt and Negri’s words) “the basis of the internal politics of the global order.” As Emmanuel Goldstein put it, “War is Peace.”

If there’s a single takeaway from all this, it’s the nature of the system of power the imperial Hegemon enforces. However much the Hegemon differs from ordinary states, like them it monopolizes power on behalf of an economic ruling class. The Hegemon, like the Westphalian nation-state, is the executive committee of the ruling class. The state is an instrument of organized violence for enforcing political means to wealth: Political appropriation of vacant land, enforcement of artificial scarcities and artificial property rights, and restraint of competition in the interest of concentrated economic power.

The Hegemon enforces a world economic order associated with the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, GATT, and the G-8. And it does so in order that a few hundred global corporations can strip-mine the planet’s resources and turn its population into sweatshop workers. Whatever the high-minded talk of Peace and Freedom coming from the Hegemon’s imperial functionaries, the reality is slavery.

C4SS ( Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political EconomyOrganization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. Carson has also written for such print publications as The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty and a variety of internet-based journals and blogs, including Just Things, The Art of the Possible, the P2P Foundation and his own Mutualist Blog.