Oakland Threatens to Shut Down Urban Gardener Reply

Fight food repression.

The city of Oakland, Calif., which is marked largely by blight and crime, has decided to go after a backyard gardener for growing and occasionally selling the fruits of her labor. According to a recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle (SFC), Oakland city officials are summoning Novella Carpenter to either pay a costly permit fee and penalties for providing locals with backyard produce items like Swiss chard without government approval, or face city sanctions.

The 4,500-square-foot plot of land on which Carpenter has been growing produce and raising some small animals is in a very rough part of Oakland. There are plenty of abandoned, graffiti-laden buildings, and empty plots of land — not to mention a severe lack of adequate grocery stores and food shops.

After allegedly squatting the land for several years, Carpenter finally decided to buy it several months ago for $30,000, and she now raises food for herself and her neighbors on it. Though she does sell some of it, the primary purpose of the lot is not to run a business. In fact, Carpenter has on numerous occasions allowed locals in need to come and pick food for their own use.

“When I started, I did it to feed myself,” explained Carpenter to SFC. “Then I realized that in Oakland, people are really hungry. So people in the neighborhood came and picked food.”

But Carpenter’s efforts to improve the conditions in her community by planting the garden and growing food recently met the heavy hand of government regulation. The SFC story explains that a city planner in Oakland’s building department recently became aware of Carpenter’s garden after allegedly receiving a complaint concerning some rabbits on her property. Though he has not issued a final report on the manner, the planner did state that because Carpenter sells some of her produce, she would be required to obtain a valid business permit.

Smokeasy, California! Reply

Article by Charles Coulombe.
I love tobacco. I have been a pipe and cigar smoker since my 16th birthday. (My father had offered to buy me both if I abstained from cigarettes until that date). On that memorable occasion, he took me down to Santa Monica’s storied Tinder Box. Dad showed me how to roll the cigar when lighting, how to tamp the tobacco into the pipe bowl, and many allied arcane skills. I have little love for cigarettes, though I do smoke them when others light up as a show of solidarity.

Thanks be to God, the Tinder Box remains, as do little islands of sanity here and there. Close to my house are a couple of “smokeasies”—bars where one can actually light up and drink as though one were 21 years old! As alcohol lovers all over Europe and America know, such places are becoming scarce.

But we haven’t seen the worst, my brethren, not by a long shot. The City of Los Angeles recently issued a diktat that the outside patios which restaurants had created for smokers could no longer be used for that purpose. Hapless tobacco lovers are to choose between hunger pangs or nicotine withdrawal; otherwise, they are driven into the outer darkness by the law’s minions. This measure was in solemn imitation of the City of Pasadena’s similar effort, which also bans smokers from building entrances—meaning entirely off city streets.

“I can accept that our system is half-libertarian and half-socialist: We are taxed as though we were the latter and served as though we were the former.”

But this is not enough, good friends, no indeedy! Pasadena’s city fathers, no doubt excited by their larger and more important neighbor’s imitation of them, are considering a new idea: no smoking in one’s own apartment or condo for fear that the evil secondhand smoke shall travel through to other rooms!

Against Libertarian Sweatshop Fans 3

Articles by Michael Kleen. Part 1 and Part 2.
In my opinion, a sweatshop is an antiquated form of wage slavery that does not belong in a free society any more than conscription or the Atlantic slave trade. Economists like Paul Krugman have provided an ideological foundation for sweatshops because they are an integral part of the globalist worldview, but that is a worldview that libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and other likeminded individuals oppose. Therefore, it is in our interest to not only distance ourselves from this exploitive form of labor, but to repudiate it entirely.

The central tenant of my argument is that force and aggression do not always have to involve the threat of immediate physical harm. A person may be coerced into surrendering their property (or their labor) under a variety of conditions. For example, being tricked into signing a contract he or she cannot read or understand, having the welfare of his or her family threatened, or being required to rent equipment essential to the job while being paid barely enough to cover those expenses. All of these are common practices at sweatshops.

My purpose in attempting to apply the non-aggression principle to this issue was to provide a skeleton around which an effective, free-market argument against sweatshops could be formed. The reason the issue of sweatshops in particular needs to be addressed, as opposed to just force or fraud generally, is because there appears to be a significant number of people who claim to both support the free market (or anarcho-capitalism) and sweatshops. Not only is this position contradictory, in my opinion, but it hurts the free market cause by playing right into the hands of our opponents, who believe that a free(d) market would bring back the worst aspects of industrialization.

Obama a Marxist? Give Us a Break Reply

Article by Kevin Carson.
Arguably the majority of Fortune 500 profits result from taxpayer subsidies, government-conferred monopolies like “intellectual property,” special protections, and entry barriers, rather than from peaceful exchange on the free market.

So why would it be so inconceivable that a lot of businesses in the economy we actually live in might get their profits through exploitation? Unless, that is, the Koch brothers have some vested interest in pretending that the present corporatist economy really is a free market.

After watching Obama’s performance over the past two years, I find myself thinking of the Bearded Spock universe when I hear complaints about his “anti-business” bias.

Sure, Obama uses some egalitarian, anti-business rhetoric. It’s a great way of distracting people from the movement of his hands as he stuffs the pockets of big business with subsidies and cloaks them with all sort of anti-competitive regulations. And look at the folks he’s surrounded himself with: Emanuel, Geithner, Summers, Rubin, Immelt. Yeah, that’s quite a little Maoist study circle he’s got there.

I wish Obama was “anti-business” enough to match that rhetoric with simply moving toward the ideal of a free market by cutting the vast array of governmental subsidies to Big Business — but, then, that’s not what he’s there for.

Affirmative Action Forever Reply

Dennis Mangan reviews Steven Farron’s The Affirmative Action Hoax. I haven’t read Farron’s book myself, but if this reviewer’s summary of it contents is accurate, it makes a pretty convincing case that affirmative action is a messy hodge-podge of policies whose real purpose is to keep bureaucrats in their jobs and is of dubious benefit to the genuinely disadvantaged. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with a system to identify and assist persons of any ethnic/racial/cultural background who demonstrate genuine ability but are held down by circumstances: poverty, dysfunctional families, crummy local schools, social outgroup status, etc. But AA seems to be yet another middle class entitlement whose purpose is purely political. Also, one need not share the racial determinism of this reviewer to criticize AA as an institutional phenomena. The idea behind meritocratic individualism is that those of superior ability and effort are allowed to succeed without being held back for irrelevant or arbitrary reasons, something that can’t be done if privilege is given on the basis of broad group categorizations and generalizations.
Current AA policy relies on defining favored groups, and Farron ably dissects the absurdities of this practice. For instance, “Black” denotes anyone with at least one Black ancestor, and furthermore, bureaucrats are not allowed to override the self-description of any candidate for hiring, promotion, or admission. In other words, someone who says that he’s Black (or Hispanic, etc.) must be taken at face value, no matter how absurd it seems. “Hispanic” was so defined as to exclude anyone with origins in Brazil, yet fully White Argentinians and Uruguyans fall into this category. Financial success is no impediment to becoming a recipient of AA either; a Black millionaire is eligible for preference over a poor White, and in fact most AA benefits go to the middle and upper middle class. It will not have escaped notice that while AA was meant to benefit victims of historical discrimination, not only have most Blacks alive today not experienced it–especially so when they come from the middle class– but Hispanics have never been subject to slavery or Jim Crow, and have not even been a major presence in the U.S. until recently.

AA also gave rise to the notion of “diversity.” When the Supreme Court outlawed racial favoritism in the Bakke case, it left an opening for “diversity”; that is, if an institution claimed that it needed a certain racial/ethnic mix, it could be allowed to favor certain groups. This is why we are constantly prodded to “celebrate diversity,” why we are always told that it’s such an important value; it’s the only means by which the AA bureaucracy, which by now numbers in the hundreds of thousands, can stay in power. And Farron shows the illogicality behind the favored term; for example, some institutions claim that a certain critical number of, say, Black students are needed for these students to perform well. Yet other groups, say, American Indians, are normally admitted more or less according to their proportion in the population (in their case in the low single digits). Thus a group like this will never have the alleged critical number needed for them to perform well, which was the whole basis of group discrimination in the first place.

Cincinnati: A Decade since the Rebellion of 2001 Reply

Article by Dan La Botz. Hat tip to Miles Joyner.
Ten years ago, after the police killing of a teenager named Timothy Thomas, Cincinnati erupted in what some called vicious riots and others a righteous rebellion. The uprising over a string of police killings of black men made Cincinnati the subject of a national discussion that took place from the pages of the NAACP’s The Crisis and The New York Times to NPR and Nightline. Cincinnati became synonymous in the public mind with racism and bigotry and the reputation lived on for years. Living down that reputation became the goal of City Hall and local business interests who worked to put the matter behind them, burying both the racism and the violence under the magnificent façade of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and drowning out the lingering shouts of pain and protest with jazz, blues and country musical festivals on the riverfront. For the African American community and for many other Cincinnati residents, the real issue has been to confront racism, to challenge the ruling elite’s power, to raise consciousness, transform structures, and shift power. We are still working at it.

The immediate cause of the rebellion was a police shooting of an African American man; for the black community it was the last straw after a series of such killings and after years and even decades of police racism and violence. The injustice of the criminal justice system, however, represented only one aspect of the African American community’s experience of racism which also extended to social segregation, economic exclusion, and widespread alienation from the political system. Out of anger and indignation young African Americans rose up in an angry ghetto uprising, while other black and white activists joined together in political protests and a boycott of the city. Altogether the movements and protests of that year would change the city, result in a new political culture of criticism, dissent, and protest. And Cincinnati would be better for it.

Other recent accounts of the last decade on television and in the local newspaper have discussed the “riots” but have largely ignored or downplayed the role of the Black United Front, the March for Justice and the boycott of the city. Most of the major media have tended to self-congratulation on progress made rather than on a serious examination of the state of the city. This account is meant to challenge and correct those accounts.

Returning to these issues today raises many questions. Where are we today, a decade later? What did we learn from the events that led to the rebellion of 2001? What did we learn from the rebellion, the protests, and the boycott that followed? What was the political upshot of all of those events? And how has Cincinnati changed? Have police-community relations improved? Are Cincinnatians better off—or worse off—today than they were then? Have relations between whites, African Americans and other ethnicities improved? Is our city making progress? What can we do to make it a better place?

Unholy Alliance: Neocons and "Progressives" — United at Last Over Libya, War Powers, and the Constitution 4

Article by Justin Raimondo.
According to historian Thomas E. Woods, during the debate at the Constitutional Convention over the War Powers clause, only a single delegate – Pierce Butler, of South Carolina — rose to argue in favor of giving the President the power to make war without congressional consent. He was answered by Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, who declared he “never expected to hear in a republic a motion to empower the Executive alone to declare war.” The rest of the Founders, to a man, concurred. That this is now reversed, and Gerry’s views are considered “crackpot” in official Washington, is yet more evidence that we are no longer a republic, alas, but a monstrously bloated empire headed for a fall.

Rubin’s smug dismissal of Republican “isolationists” is another case of wilful blindness: if the neocons have a major weakness, it’s a penchant for believing their own propaganda, a tendency that results in a debilitating tunnel vision. In the last Congress, there was no reliably “isolationist” group of Senators: this time around, there are as many as ten. At this rate, we’ll be a majority in no time.

Whatever their differences on domestic and other matters, the neocons and the Obama cult agree on one thing: their mutual disdain for the Constitution. The “progressives” sniff at “constitutional fundamentalism,” and the neocons regard Constitution-citing conservatives such as Paul and Lee as “dogmatists.” They hate the Constitution because it restrains their overweening (if often competing) ambitions, and holds them accountable – not merely every few years, at election time, but all the time. In a constitutional republic, such as we once had, there’s always someone looking over the governing elite’s shoulder – and would love nothing better than to dispense with this archaic custom.

The haze of humanitarian imperialism Reply

Article by George Will.
At about this point in foreign policy misadventures, the usual question is: What is Plan B? Today’s question is: What was Plan A? When Obama inserted America into what was, and ostensibly still is, a preemptive war to protect Libyan civilians from Libya’s government, he neglected to clarify a few things, such as: Do the armed rebels trying to overthrow that government still count as civilians?

That is, however, irrelevant if the assumption is that no Libyan is safe as long as Moammar Gaddafi is in power. If so, regime change is a logical imperative of humanitarian imperialism.

Have you noticed how many of the U.S. armed services’ recruiting appeals, on television and in advertisements in airports and elsewhere, show this or that service engaged in humanitarian relief operations, distributing food and medicine? These present the U.S. military as the Red Cross with, for reasons that are unclear, weapons. Given that some of the services sometimes seem reluctant to recruit for their primary mission — maintaining a credible capability for war — it is not so odd that the Obama administration flinches from the word “war.”

Did Obama's Election mean the End of the Anti-War Movement? Reply

Article by Bernie DeGroat. Hat tip to Peter Bjorn Perls.
The anti-war movement in the US may have become more anti-Republican than antiwar since 2003, say U-Michigan researchers.

Since 2003, the antiwar movement in the United States has had much to protest with Americans fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya, but the movement—which has dropped off sharply the past two years—may be more anti-Republican than antiwar, says a University of Michigan researcher.

A new study by U-M’s Michael Heaney and colleague Fabio Rojas of Indiana University shows that the antiwar movement in the United States demobilized as Democrats, who had been motivated to participate by anti-Republican sentiments, withdrew from antiwar protests when the Democratic Party achieved electoral success, first with Congress in 2006 and then with the presidency in 2008.

“As president, Obama has maintained the occupation of Iraq and escalated the war in Afghanistan,” said Heaney, U-M assistant professor of organizational studies and political science. “The antiwar movement should have been furious at Obama’s ‘betrayal’ and reinvigorated its protest activity.

“Instead, attendance at antiwar rallies declined precipitously and financial resources available to the movement have dissipated. The election of Obama appeared to be a demobilizing force on the antiwar movement, even in the face of his pro-war decisions.”

Heaney and Rojas analyzed the demobilization of the antiwar movement by using surveys of 5,400 demonstrators at 27 protests mostly in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and San Francisco from January 2007 to December 2009. The surveys asked questions on basic demographics, partisan affiliations, organizational affiliations, reasons for attending the events, histories of political participation, and attitudes toward the movement, war and the political system.

In addition, the researchers observed smaller, more informal events at which antiwar activists gathered, including Capitol Hill lobby days, candlelight vigils, fundraisers, small protests, planning meetings, training sessions, parties, the National Assembly of United for Peace and Justice and the U.S. Social Forum. They also interviewed 40 antiwar leaders about their personal backgrounds, the inner workings of the antiwar movement, political leaders and the Democratic Party.

Their study found that the withdrawal of Democratic activists changed the character of the antiwar movement by undermining broad coalitions in the movement and encouraging the formation of smaller, more radical coalitions.

After Obama’s election as president, Democratic participation in antiwar activities plunged, falling from 37 percent in January 2009 to a low of 19 percent in November 2009, Heaney and Rojas say. In contrast, members of third parties became proportionately more prevalent in the movement, rising from 16 percent in January 2009 to a high of 34 percent in November 2009.

“Since Democrats are more numerous in the population at large than are members of third parties, the withdrawal of Democrats from the movement in 2009 appears to be a significant explanation for the falling size of antiwar protests,” Heaney said. “Thus, we have identified the kernel of the linkage between Democratic partisanship and the demobilization of the antiwar movement.”

America's Cities Are Segregated — And Likely to Stay That Way Reply

Article by Earl Ofari Hutchinson. The information in this article has important implications for race and class theory in 21st century America. Hat tip to Miles Joyner at the ARV Facebook page. Miles is doing a great job with that page. Be sure to give it a regular view.
The recent report that America’s most segregated cities are just as — if not more — segregated than they were a couple of decades ago is hardly a revelation. The report focused on the top 10 most segregated cities. But this could easily be expanded to find vast and unbroken pockets of racial segregation in many of the nation’s smaller and mid-size cities as well. A casual drive through any of the major urban neighborhoods in America, a walk through the neighborhood schools, hospitals, and clinics reveal the stark pattern of the two Americas. In fact, even three or four urban Americas: an America that is poor, black and Latino; an America that is black and middle class; an America that is white, working class and middle class; and one that’s white and wealthy.

But whichever urban America one travels through, the line dividing the neighborhoods is as deep as the Grand Canyon. There are the usual suspects to blame for the rigid segregation. Poverty, crime, lender redlining, a decaying industrial and manufacturing inner city, white and middle-class black and Hispanic flight, crumbling inner-city schools, the refusal of major business and financial institutions to locate in minority neighborhoods, and cash-strapped city governments that have thrown in the towel on providing street repairs and basic services.

Nietzsche and the State Reply

Article by Michael Kleen.
“Where the state ends—look there, my brothers! Do you not see it, the rainbow and the bridges of the overman?”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is one of the most famous of the modern philosophers. A prolific writer on just about every subject, his views on the modern state have been largely overshadowed by his critique of morality, which is a shame because despite the adoption of his philosophy by political movements after his death, Nietzsche held a very clear and consistently critical view of the subject throughout his adult life. In his more sober moments, he saw the modern state as nothing more than a vehicle for mass power and as a squanderer of exceptional talent. In his most feverish moods, the state was “a cold monster” and a base falsehood.

During his lifetime, Nietzsche bore witness to the rise of statism in central Europe, and his disgust with nationalism, liberalism, and mass politics led him to live most of his life in self-imposed exile in Switzerland and northern Italy. Even after resigning from the University of Basel in 1879, he took to living in cheap boarding houses rather than return to his native land, which had undergone a dramatic transformation. When Nietzsche was born in Saxony in 1844, the German Confederation consisted of 43 duchies, principalities, kingdoms, and free cities. He was only four years old when liberals and nationalists began to agitate for the creation of one unified German state. They succeeded in 1871, when Prussia defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War (in which Nietzsche briefly served as a medical orderly).

In less than a decade, the German Confederation went from a motley collection of different dialects, customs, and political associations to a fully modern welfare state driven by mass politics. Contrary to the wartime image of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck’s Germany was just as liberal—if not more so—than the other great European powers. Members of the German bund traded away their regional independence for universal manhood suffrage, national healthcare, accident insurance, and old age insurance. A common criminal code, as well as court, civil, and criminal procedures, replaced a cornucopia of local legal systems. During his Kulturkampf, Bismarck attempted to erase the last vestiges of the old order by promoting one way of “Germanness,” much like “Americanism” sought to unify the United States around the federal government after the American Civil War.

This political and social consolidation is key to understanding Nietzsche’s criticism of the state, because he drew a sharp distinction between a “people” and the “state.” “’I, the state, am the people!’ That is a lie!” he wrote in Thus Spake Zarathustra (1881). “Where there is still a people, it does not understand the state and hates it…” By a “people” he meant an organic body of persons who constitute a community by virtue of a common culture, history, and religion, while the “state” is an artificial construction; a yoke placed over peoples. “It was creators who created peoples and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life,” he wrote. “Every people speaks its tongue of good and evil, which the neighbor does not understand.”

As a classical philologist, Nietzsche undoubtedly thought of ancient Greece as he wrote those words. Like that of Germany, the story of Greece was the story of the unification of dozens of independent civic bodies, each with their own customs, laws, and traditions. “Greece” was a modern creation. In the ancient world, there were only the city-states (polis) of Athens, Sparta, Corinth, etc., and even those political bodies enslaved a dozen different peoples in their hinterlands. It was only later, during the Romanic Period, that the organization of common language speakers around the nation-state became a popular notion. Therefore, Nietzsche believed the state was an artifice invented to serve a political class, based on the myth of a shared culture and past.

Who did the state serve? “The history of the state is the history of the egoism of the masses and of the blind desire to exist,” Nietzsche wrote in his notes in 1873. He again echoed those sentiments in Thus Spake Zarathustra, writing, “All-too-many are born: for the superfluous the state was invented.” Everything about the modern state was corrupt: education (“they steal the works of the inventors and the treasures of the sages for themselves”), the media (“they vomit their gall and call it a newspaper”), and most of all, politics. Nietzsche characterized politics as a mad rush for power, which squandered the talents of great men, who were forced to pander to the lowest common denominator.

Nietzsche was most concerned with the effect statism had on culture. “Culture and the state—one should not deceive oneself about this—are antagonists… All great ages of culture are ages of political decline: what is great culturally has always been unpolitical, even anti-political,” he wrote in Twilight of the Idols (1888). Because, in the modern state, the energy of a people is used up in power politics, economics, parliamentarianism, and “military interests,” its geniuses lack the energy for artistic and cultural creation; their energies are squandered and dragged down into the muck. As the German state rose to prominence in Europe, Nietzsche saw a decline in the number of great cultural figures. Mozart, Beethoven, Schiller, Goethe, and Schopenhauer had all come and gone during a period when the German reich was virtually moribund and consisted of a loose collection of over a hundred different regions.

Unfortunately, Nietzsche did not leave a well thought out alternative to the modern state. Instead, he left his readers to infer his preference based on the political arrangements he criticized. In Human, All-Too Human (1878), however, he touched on nationalism and the nation state, proposing that it would be a benefit to Europeans to abolish nations and breed a “European man” that would contain the best qualities of all peoples living on the continent. He envisioned a noble class that freely exchanged ideas across Europe. Based on his other arguments, we can surmise that Nietzsche was not advocating something along the lines of a European Union or a transnational state, but perhaps a collection of thousands of municipalities along the lines of the ancient Greek polis.

The state was not created to uplift the individual, but to satisfy the many. “It will give you everything if you will adore it,” Nietzsche warned. “Rather break the windows and leap to freedom.” He saw the modern state, with its mass media, politics, and culture, as a retardant to human progress, and he preferred to live in places where there was as little central authority as possible. For Nietzsche, it seems, it was not the type of government that concerned him, but who that government served: mass or individual? Unequivocally, he held that statism, such as it was in the 19th Century, served the former, and laid traps for all who desired to rise to new heights.

Jose Ortega y Gasset and the State Reply

Article by Michael Kleen. Hat tip to David Heleniak. Kleen has also been interview by Tom Sunic on VOR. Listen here and here.
José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) was the preeminent Spanish philosopher of the first half of the 20th Century. A complex figure, he was at the same time an elitist, a classical liberal, and a republican. He was born into a wealthy bourgeois family, became the Chair in Metaphysics at Complutense University in Madrid in 1910, and he was the deputy for the province of León until the Spanish Civil War. After the outbreak of the war, he lived in self-imposed exile in Argentina until 1945. Ortega, as a witness to both the First and Second World Wars, was an ardent critic of the modern State. In La rebelión de las masas “The Revolt of the Masses” (1930), he predicted that the forces of Statism would inevitably lead to ever-increasing levels of violence. The State, he wrote, was “the gravest danger now threatening European civilization.”

What set Ortega apart from other critics of the modern State was his concise social and psychological analysis of the origins of Statism. Rather than frame the evolution of the modern State in simple philosophical, religious, or economic terms, he sought to explain its rise as the logical outcome of a revolt of the common man, or the “masses.” By “masses,” Ortega was referring not to a class of people but a type of person who by his or her nature constitutes a numerical majority. This majority is made up of unexceptional people, people who toiled for thousands of years in relative anonymity. Their sudden awakening was made possible by the unprecedented growth of the bourgeoisie in the late Middle Ages.

The State, such as it existed during the Middle Ages and throughout most of recorded history, was as Ortega put it, “quite a small affair.” By the 1700s, however, society, in the form of a middle class, outgrew those rudimentary structures of government. Where the old Noble class excelled in leadership, “historic responsibility,” and sheer bravado, the new bourgeois class excelled in rationalization and technique. The State, Ortega argued, is not a thing in and of itself, but a technique; a technique that is utilized for public administration and for preserving public order. Therefore the bourgeoisie naturally agitated for an increasingly larger role in State affairs.

This agitation created an “enormous disproportion between social strength and the strength of public power,” which allowed for the revolutions of the late 1700s and early 1800s (see Jay Winik’s The Great Upheaval for an excellent transnational history of those events). In those revolutions, the bourgeoisie seized political power and began to build the modern State so efficiently that it made any further genuine revolutions in Europe impossible (Ortega argued that all revolutions since 1848 were merely coup d’états in disguise). Ortega, of course, as a member of the bourgeoisie and a deputy in the Second Spanish Republic, realized that he was a part of that reality.

The State, according to Ortega, expresses itself in two ways: “anonymous power” and violence. Its anonymous power comes from the perception of the masses that the State is an omnipotent force; as anonymous as they yet able to exert unlimited resources to alleviate any problem or difficulty they might encounter. “Suppose that in the public life of a country some difficulty, conflict, or problem presents itself, the mass-man will tend to demand that the State intervene immediately and undertake a solution directly with its immense and unassailable resources,” Ortega explained in The Revolt of the Masses.

At long last, the State will become so powerful that society, as well as the independence of the individual, will be crushed beneath it, and social resources will be used up in the service of the State. The formerly vital bourgeoisie becomes de-facto enslaved: “the people are converted into fuel to feed the mere machine…” The whole of life is bureaucratized.

Because violence is the ultimate means through which the masses express their power, Ortega argued, “… it will come as less surprise, nowadays, when the masses triumph, that violence should triumph and be made the one ratio, the one doctrine.” Since violence is central to the State, the “militarization of society” becomes the second stage of bureaucratization, and because the mass-man demands security from the bureaucracy above all else, “the State’s most urgent need is its apparatus of war, its army.” This point must have seen obvious in the 1930s, with the rise of communism and fascism in Europe. In fact, Ortega pointed to Mussolini, with his squadristi and his 1922 March on Rome, as the culmination of the revolt of the masses.

While Ortega’s analysis of the State is thought-provoking and insightful, it is not without its flaws. Ortega ignored the history of violence among the ruling classes when he alleged that violence (“direct action”) has been the only means through which the masses intervene in social affairs. Concepts like justice, manners, and reason may have been invented by the Noble class, but the Nobles were no strangers to murderous intrigue. For instance, for about 250 years it was a common practice of the Ottoman sultan to murder his brothers when he ascended the throne. Clearly, the Nobility had no qualms about applying violence in State affairs.

Furthermore, Ortega failed to take into account (perhaps because Revolt was written in 1930) the development of the Therapeutic Managerial State, in which the State exerts control not through overt violence but through behavior modification, social engineering, and a massive bureaucracy that simply makes any genuine resistance impossible. Under this system, the kind of political violence and vigilantism perpetrated by the Jacobins, the Sturmabteilung, or the Ku Klux Klan to prop up the status quo has become obsolete.

As a modern European philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset’s critique of Statism is unique in its defense of liberal democracy. Ortega sought to forge a middle ground between a monarchy governed by a hereditary elite and a dictatorship governed by the unfettered passions of the mob. While ultimately colored by his politics, his analysis of the modern State nevertheless adds to our understanding of the origins of Statism, and accurately predicted many of the long-range trends apparent in politics today.


Michael Kleen is the publisher of Black Oak Presents, a quarterly digital magazine of Middle American art and culture and proprietor of Black Oak Media. He holds a master’s degree in American history, and is the author of One Voice, a collection of columns regarding issues in contemporary America.

The Joke that "Movement Conservatism" has become Reply

Article by Paul Gottfried.
A hilarious dissection of the neo-Jacobin wing of the US political establishment.
According to Joel Klein’s March 21 Newsweek column, “conservatives” went ballistic at their annual CPAC meeting in Washington because Obama had dared to question the holy doctrine of “American exceptionalism.” Supposedly Obama committed blasphemy when he observed that the British in the nineteenth century and the ancient Greeks thought of themselves as exceptional. We Americans are acting like other nations when we insist we’re unique. Obama’s crime was to have not noticed “our democratic institutions” and human-rights concepts, which have elevated us as moral giants above the rest of the human race.

This is a strange belief for people on the right to hold. For decades American conservatives were arguing that our society is decadent, much like the Roman Empire before it fell apart. Nor were these conservatives (speaking as a leading scholarly authority on this matter) pleased with “democratic” institutions, which they feared would lead to an uncontrollable central government that would confiscate our earnings in the name of equality. The religious right was complaining for decades that American morals were disintegrating and we were becoming the modern age’s Sodom and Gomorrah.

Suddenly we have become good and virtuous because of our uniquely democratic and proudly universal regime. This is an idea FOX viewers have picked up like a bad habit. I hear this gibberish when I make the mistake of watching Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity. We cannot mention history without first proclaiming that we are truly the best because we promote democratic values for everyone everywhere. To demonstrate our goodness, we send armies against those whose values we dislike. The newest opportunity for such constructive engagement is in Libya, where Charles Krauthammer announced on FOX that we must not leave before installing “a democratic, which means decent government.” This may require us to hang around for a while in the North African sand until we can get our exceptionalism to rub off on the Berbers.

But not to worry! A few nights ago on Greta Van Susteren’s show, George W. Bush announced that he and his wife are devoting the remainder of their lives to fighting “for women’s issues” in Muslim countries.

Opinions Are Not a Crime 1

An Asian woman is sentenced to indefinite jury duty for alleged racist comments. Read the article. This is a very important case because it shows that PC is not just a “white male” issue. No one is immune to persecution under PC, not even its supposed beneficiaries, e.g., women, minorities, etc. PC is about enforcing a totalitarian ideology that legitimizes the state and benefits those interests aligned with the state, not helping the downtrodden or victims of discrimination or outgroup hostility.
An incensed federal judge sentenced a racist Brooklyn woman to indefinite jury duty on Tuesday after she trashed the NYPD and minorities.

“This is an outrage, and so are you!” Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis told the woman, holding up her bile-filled juror questionnaire.

Juror No. 799, an Asian woman in her 20s who said she works in the garment industry, was up for jury duty in the death penalty trial of Bonanno crime boss Vincent (Vinny Gorgeous) Basciano.

It didn’t take long for her to start looking worse than the defendant.

Asked to name three people she least admired, she wrote on her questionnaire: “African-Americans, Hispanics and Haitians.”

When the judge asked why she answered the question that way, she replied, “You always hear about them in the news doing something.”

She also declared that cops are all lazy, claiming that they sound their sirens to bypass traffic jams.

Garaufis flipped forward several pages in her questionnaire.

He landed on the page where she had said she had a relative who was a member of the Chinese Ghost Shadows gang in the 1980s, convicted of murder and still in prison.

“Why didn’t you put ‘Asians’ down also?” the judge asked sarcastically, referring to her list of least-liked people.

“Maybe I should have,” she said.

Obama Goes to War, the US Left Goes AWOL Reply

Article by Clancy Sigal.
One night, when I was editor of a news wire service on the graveyard shift in downtown Los Angeles, a respectable, middle-aged man in a neat business suit, calling himself Mr Wilson, approached me with a strange tale. We overnighters on duty alone at United Press through the long hours were used to being accosted by drunks, dopers, homeless people and a taster’s menu of southern California lonely souls with their story. Mr Wilson, cleanshaven and persuasively reasonable, told me he’d just been kidnapped by aliens from Venus, had sex with their Queen (“the best of my life”), and then been safely deposited on Venice beach next to Santa Monica.

He was so plausibly likeable that I was almost convinced. So I drove him out to the ocean where, indeed, he was able to point out undeniable scorch marks in the sand where the Venutian ship had blasted off, plus three deep indentations where the tripod-shaped landing-gear of space vehicle had stood. Right then and there, I thought it possible I’d had my first encounter, if at second hand, with a real UFO.

I felt the same way when listening to Barack Obama’s 28 March speech about his reasons for invading Libya on behalf of the anti-Gaddafi “rebels”. For just a moment there he had me. “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” he told the nation. In that UFO moment, a part of me wanted to believe that high-penetration US Tomahawks, which by some accounts are coated with extremely radioactive DU (depleted uranium), would be killing bad Libyans to save good Libyans and that our flying torpedoes would know the difference.

A significant section of what passes for the American left seems to share my fleeting suspension of ethics and political memory – by backing Obama’s war against the third Muslim nation that did not attack us. This is the first war he did not inherit from George Bush (although he’s done his best to make Afghanistan all his own). He has shown exemplary courage in facing down a fourth-rate tyrant with a fourth-world army with a toughness he has never shown against out-of-control Republicans at home. If you’re afraid of the big bully in your own block, it’s smarter to find a smaller one to fight over yonder.

Liberal hawks never seem to learn that you can’t get healthcare, decent schools and less unemployment by bombing smaller nations. Military adventures trump domestic rehab every time. We Americans have a very long history – going back to Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba and Woodrow Wilson in the first world war – of progressives going to war for the best, most irreproachable, humane, idealistic reasons, whether that meant saving Belgian babies from fiendish Hun bayonets or rescuing Benghazi civilians today.

Hard Money, Hard Time Reply

Article by Thomas Knapp.
Bernard von NotHaus, reports Tom Lovett of the Evansville, Indiana Courier & Press, stands convicted, as of last month, of “making coins resembling and similar to United States coins; of issuing, passing, selling and possessing Liberty Dollar coins; of issuing and passing Liberty Dollar coins intended for use as current money; and of conspiracy against the United States.”

All told, according to Steve Lyttle of the Charlotte, North Carolina Observer, von Nothaus faces up to 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine (as well as having about $7 million worth of confiscated silver kept by the government pursuant to a form of legal theft known as “asset forfeiture”) for the “crime” of selling silver to willing customers.

While the libertarian commentariat has made much of US Attorney Anne Tompkins’s characterization of von Nothaus’s enterprise as “a unique form of domestic terrorism,” I have to admire Tompkins for her openness and honesty. Her employers — a criminal gang which counterfeits money on a massive scale and forces acceptance of that bogus currency as “legal tender” — may not be domesticated, but it must indeed find the prospect of honest money taking hold among its victims terrifying.

Von Nothaus’s plan was, in its basic structure, elegant: He wanted to encourage the use of “hard money,” specifically silver, as an alternative to US Federal Reserve Notes in daily commerce. Toward that end, he minted silver rounds (what most people, but not von Nothaus, call “coins”) of known quality and purity, and offered warehouse receipts in paper and digital form against stored reserves of silver.

The government’s primary claims at trial revolved around similarities between von Nothaus’s product and the Federal Reserve’s counterfeit “money.” He denominated his offerings in “dollars” (a term which predates the United States by more than 250 years and the Fed by nearly 400). Some of those rounds arguably looked similar to government-produced coins, bearing an image of Lady Liberty (others featured the face of US Representative and “hard money” advocate Ron Paul) and a religious motto (“Trust In God,” as opposed to “In God We Trust”).

The government’s prosecutors were understandably reluctant to go into the differences between his product and their own. The Fed’s “notes” are nothing more than inflationary paper backed only by debt and by the claim that a government gone $15 trillion into that debt won’t formally default and/or print so much of that paper that it becomes useful only as a replacement for the stuff you keep next to your toilet. Most government coins are made of base metal and not worth, to grab a convenient cliche, a plug nickel on anything other than that government’s say-so.

The Drug War: Growing the Green Reply

Article by David D’Amato.
BBC News reports that “[p]rotests in more than 20 Mexican cities against drug-related violence have been interrupted by news of the discovery of 59 bodies.” Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon called on the military to combat the drug cartels in 2006, an estimated 35,000 Mexicans have been killed, “a sign” — according to the Mexican and U.S. governments — “of success in the fight against drugs.” Though Mexicans live in a constant panic, daily kidnappings, mass graves and shootouts in the streets are, in the Newspeak of the Drug War, the best indicators of progress.

However one’s system of morality regards the personal use of illegal drugs like cocaine or marijuana, the prosecution of the Drug War is perhaps the ideal illustration of statism’s ruling class intrigues; the structural predicates for its continued existence are interwoven with some of the most powerful fixtures of the corporate economy, all milking it to line their pockets on the misery of ordinary people.

Just as violent crime mushroomed under alcohol prohibition, with Al Capone and his ilk proving the ideal counterpart for the organized crime of the state, so too has drug prohibition begotten an international bloodbath. Supposing we regard the rationales advanced by the Empire as the genuine reasons for its Drug War, its results are strikingly disconnected from that purported reasoning. Ever increasing police spending, foreign intervention and domestic authoritarianism have been coupled not with any marked decrease in crime or the prevalence of drugs themselves, but in a murderous struggle, unremitting and constantly swelling to new proportions.

For the state, serving the ends of the political class, what it is that the war is against is far less important than the fact that there is a war, that there is something out there that enjoins the consumption of huge piles of resources. Given both the levels of spending on the Drug War and its putative justifications, we could expect, even assuming the utmost waste and inefficiency, that there would be some measurable “progress” toward the state’s goals.

And the truth is that the state’s goals are being met through the Drug War, which — like the War on Terror — is devoid of any clear, defining lines or enemy. Those goals, though, don’t match the intentions we’re meant to glean from “Just Say No” ads and the D.A.R.E. cops roaming the halls of the state’s K-12 education pens. In the same way that traditional warfare means bankable profits for defense-related contractors in the fabled “military-industrial complex,” the Drug War is a reliable source of income for the ruling class.

Everyone has skin in the game, from Wall Street banks and huge prison companies like Corrections Corp. of America and Geo Group to drug companies like Pfizer, and the green they care about isn’t marijuana. From top to bottom the Drug War is shaped perfectly for big government and for corporate interests, enabling the clandestine “security” apparatuses of the Empire to scout new outposts for neoliberal colonialism.

Most Illegal Immigrant Families Collect Welfare 8

Mass immigration is subsidized by the state.
Surprise, surprise; Census Bureau data reveals that most U.S. families headed by illegal immigrants use taxpayer-funded welfare programs on behalf of their American-born anchor babies.

Even before the recession, immigrant households with children used welfare programs at consistently higher rates than natives, according to the extensive census data collected and analyzed by a nonpartisan Washington D.C. group dedicated to researching legal and illegal immigration in the U.S. The results, published this month in a lengthy report, are hardly surprising.

Basically, the majority of households across the country benefitting from publicly-funded welfare programs are headed by immigrants, both legal and illegal. States where immigrant households with children have the highest welfare use rates are Arizona (62%), Texas, California and New York with 61% each and Pennsylvania (59%).

The study focused on eight major welfare programs that cost the government $517 billion the year they were examined. They include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the disabled, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), a nutritional program known as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), food stamps, free/reduced school lunch, public housing and health insurance for the poor (Medicaid).

Food assistance and Medicaid are the programs most commonly used by illegal immigrants, mainly on behalf of their American-born children who get automatic citizenship. On the other hand, legal immigrant households take advantage of every available welfare program, according to the study, which attributes it to low education level and resulting low income.

The highest rate of welfare recipients come from the Dominican Republic (82 %), Mexico and Guatemala (75%) and Ecuador (70%), according to the report, which says welfare use tends to be high for both new arrivals and established residents.

Survey: Maine, NH, Vermont most peaceful 1


PORTLAND, Maine—While U.S. military forces continue to be engaged in conflicts abroad, a survey of the home front by an international think tank finds that U.S. states have become more peaceful since 1995.

In a report released Wednesday, the Institute for Economics and Peace says Maine is the most peaceful state, while Louisiana is the least peaceful.

The Institute for Economics and Peace says key factors driving an increase in peacefulness are decreases in homicides and violent crimes. It says that reductions in crime pay dividends, reducing costs to society and also spurring economic activity and job creation.

The Australia-based organization defines peace as an absence of violence. The top three states are Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Joining Louisiana at the bottom are Nevada and Tennessee.