The State's Money Trees Reply

Article by David D’Amato.

For the world’s ruling classes, primed for the latest G20 summit this week, the seemingly colorless niceties of monetary policy have become the topmost theme of debate. And while the villains of the political class characterize monetary decisions as the technical and politically-neutral bailiwick of qualified experts, those decisions are a weight-bearing pillar of statist exploitation.

As the world economic order has dealt with the aftereffects of the financial crisis, China and the United States have exchanged barbs, both accusing the other of unfair manipulation of its currency. As a resolution of the discord and for the prevention of future imbalances, reports Reuters, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has “called for a stronger International Monetary Fund.”

Geithner argued this week (March 31) that an empowered IMF would “shine a spotlight on risks” and “preempt the emergence of large imbalances in the global economy.” Contrary to Geithner’s glib assurances, however, imbalances and risks are part and parcel of the world’s statist financial framework. Moreover, the exploitative nature of the paradigm will remain intact regardless of the outcomes of China/U.S. squabbles.

Where the banking complex of the state allows favored corporations to, in the words of Murray Rothbard, “expand and inflate without cease” — to charge monopoly interest rates on money they don’t even have — workers are prevented by law from mobilizing their own wealth. Under coercive statist systems, the likes of Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank can pull the money they lend you out of the ether, but ordinary people are prevented by the high hurdles of minimum capital stipulations from establishing institutions that would serve their needs.

From the World Bank to the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and the Federal Reserve System, the entire financial structure of statist banking, both internationally and domestically, is a device not for the functioning of free markets, but for corporate welfare. The Ex-Im Bank, as an example, hands stolen taxpayer money to the dependencies of the American Empire to fabricate a foreign demand for the rubbish product (in particular weapons) of chosen Big Businesses.

Progressives Need to Rethink the Corporate Income Tax Reply

Article by Kevin Carson.

Liberal and progressive online journals over the past week or so have been buzzing — rightfully so — about the recent revelation that General Electric paid no corporate income tax at all in 2010. According to a recent GAO report, about a quarter of the largest American corporations paid no corporate income tax in 2005.

But that’s really just the way the system is set up. If you think about it, the corporate income tax really isn’t all that progressive. Just about all the tax loopholes and other tricks for avoiding taxation tend to favor the big boys at the expense of everyone else. Perhaps the single best way to avoid taxes is for transnationals to shuffle income to subsidiaries in the lowest-taxed jurisdictions, so transnationals already have a leg up on the smaller companies that operate primarily in the United States. And if you look at the largest tax deductions and tax credits, they go overwhelmingly to companies that are capital-intensive (the writeoff for depreciation), high tech (the R&D tax credit), or heavily involved in mergers and acquisitions (the deduction for interest on corporate debt).

What’s more, the largest corporations are least likely to suffer for whatever corporate income taxes they do pay, because they tend to be in oligopoly industries that practice tacit pricing collusion through the “price leader” system. This doesn’t require any conspiracies or secret meetings in smoke-filled rooms. When three, four or five large firms control more than half the market in a given industry, they tend to follow the pricing practices of the dominant firm. So prices in an oligopoly market are “stickier.” The practical effect is that the big firms in an oligopoly industry are able to use administered pricing based on a markup from their costs — including the corporate income tax — and pass them on to the customers. That’s essentially the same thing a regulated public utility does.

War! What is it good for? 2

Article by James Clingman. Hat tip to Miles Joyner at the American Revolutionary Vanguard Facebook page.
That question was posed in a song by Edwin Starr during an earlier generation, and we are asking that same question now.

Well, it’s good for raising the price of oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel, isn’t it? It’s good for hypocritical politicians to rail against the same actions they refused to challenge when their guy was spending a billion dollars per week in Iraq – 5000 Americans dead because of a big lie. So, now we ask what good is this latest war. The answer: “Absolutely nothing,” just like Edwin Starr refrained back in 1969, that is, unless you are a war profiteer.

Yes, here we go again with this never-ending charade of managing the world, dethroning dictators we don’t like, interfering in another country’s internal affairs, getting in the middle of a civil war, and the resulting benefit of that old stand-by: price gouging.

Taxpayers are paying for the wars and the result of wars. We are suffering through one of the worse depressions in history while our heads of state are slashing budgets in an effort to balance them on the backs of the poor and so-called middle class.

And, we believe Libyans have it bad?

Remember when fuel prices were sky high a few years ago? We blamed George W. Bush, suggesting he could make a few calls to his Saudi buddies and get those prices down to a reasonable level. Who are we to call upon now? Oh yes, that’s right, Barack Obama. Funny, I haven’t heard him speak out about the high price of gas lately. He should have paid Hugo Chavez a visit during his trip to South America to make a deal on some Venezuelan fuel.

The real kicker is the fact that Libya’s share of the world’s oil market is a mere 2%. How can prices at the pump rise by 75 cents in such a short period of time simply because the people in Libya rebelled against their leader? Could it be manipulation, or maybe just greed?

They say Gaddafi is killing his own people, so we have to go in and stop that. Yet, we stood by and watched Rwanda and the Sudan. We watched North Korea and Iran. And, now we are watching Yemen and Bahrain do the same things. What’s the difference?

Our sanctimonious approach to other countries where internal violence occurs is something to behold. Our memory is very short however. Kent State, Fred Hampton, Amadou Diallo, Kenneth Walker, and Roger Owensby, just to name a few. And, if you go back to the 1920’s, what about the hundreds of Black folks killed by government supported White citizens in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, better known as Black Wall Street?

Yes, the hypocrisy abounds without shame. The money keeps rolling in and the ignorant consumers keep falling for the same three-card Monte trick that fills the pockets of the affluent and keeps those less fortunate wondering how to pay for a fill-up. It used to cost me about $11.00 to fill my gas tank back in 1997 or so. Today that same amount of gas for that same car requires more than $50.00 to fill ‘er up. Yes, I still have that same car (375,700 miles and counting).

Nepal: Identity Politics and Federalism Reply

An interesting article that may well be relevant to the future of American politics.
Federal restructuring of the state has emerged as a major demand of ethnic and regional activists in Nepal. The debate about it is extremely politicised. Federalism is not simply the decentralisation of political power; it has become a powerful symbol for a wider agenda of inclusion, which encompasses other institutional reforms to guarantee ethnic proportional representation and a redefinition of Nepali nationalism to recognise the country’s ethnic and cultural diversity.

Activists demand the introduction of reservations to guarantee proportional representation of marginalised groups in government and administration. They want provinces to be named after the most numerous ethnic and regional groups and boundaries drawn to make them dominant minorities. Some claim to be indigenous to these regions and demand preferential rights to natural resources and agradhikar – priority entitlement to political leadership positions in the future provinces.

Ethnic and regional demands were important parts of the Maoist agenda during the civil war; in eastern Nepal, much of their support depended on it. State restructuring became a central component of the 2006 peace deal. After violent protests in the Tarai in 2007, federalism was included in the interim constitution as a binding principle for the Constituent Assembly.

But of the three major parties, the Maoists are the only one to give full-throated support to federalism and the establishment of ethnic provinces. Identity politics may sit uneasily with their class-based ideological framework but federalism is of great importance for them. Now that the former Hindu kingdom is a secular republic, it is the most important point left on their short-term transformative agenda. Much grassroots support, the loyalty of ethnic and regionalist activists within the party and their wider credibility as a force for change depend on them following through.

Figure 1: Distribution of caste and ethnic groups in Nepal
Pie graph showing caste and ethnic distribution in Nepal

Thaddeus Russell. A Renegade History of the United States Reply

Book review by Kevin Carson. This looks to be a great book.
Unlike many dissident histories of the United States, which attempt to portray racial minorities, sexual subcultures and subordinate classes as “worthy victims” in terms of the social mores of the white middle class, Thaddeus Russell celebrates the kind of people that your parents may have warned you about: the low-down, no-count, not-respectable people. You know, the folks who “never amounted to anything”—and neither would you if you didn’t steer clear of them.

Against the austere “republican virtue” of the “Founding Fathers” as we usually encounter them in public school American history classes, Russell juxtaposes the urban populations of the colonies and the taverns that served them. Those bluenose marble gods were obsessed with “license,” “luxury” and “degeneracy of manners” with good reason, if you look at the taverns that stood on just about every street corner in the towns of British America. There you could see the rabble kicking up their heels and drinking at just about any hour, see blacks and whites dancing (and “dancing”) together, and hear the f-word being shouted with wild abandon. To a large extent the sumptuary laws of the early republican period, with their goal of encouraging Spartan simplicity and self-control, were a social engineering experiment by “Founding Fathers” who regarded the population of their country with horror.

Russell works from a considerable scholarly apparatus on the topic of the artificiality of whiteness, and focuses in vivid detail on the ways of European ethnic minorities like the Irish and Italians before they were officially incorporated into the white race.

He prefers the “unworthy” to the “worthy” victim: freed slaves who didn’t want to internalize the WASP work ethic, gays who didn’t want to create respectable mirror-images of the monogamous heterosexual nuclear family, and blacks who didn’t want to march quietly and decorously in suits with Dr. King.

A Community Organizer Goes to War Reply

Article by Pat Buchanan.
Why is this small civil war in a North African desert country America’s war?

The White House will not even concede America is at war. And understandably so. For that would trigger follow-up questions.

If we are at war with Libya, who started it? What was the casus belli requiring us to go to war? Did Libyan troops attack U.S. citizens or ships in the Mediterranean? Who is the aggressor in this war?

The truth: America is fighting another war of choice in Libya, and this one without any constitutional sanction. Congress not only did not declare this war, Congress was not even consulted.

Yet, once begun, wars create new political realities.

Now that Obama and Hillary Clinton have declared that Gadhafi must go, and U.S. military power has been put massively in on the side of the rebels, Gadhafi cannot win without Obama losing face and the United States being humiliated.

Saving Obama’s face and preserving our superpower image may be the cause for which we kill a number of Libyans who did nothing to us.

Our America Last Financial Policy Reply

Article by Kevin DeAnna.
What a surprise! It has been revealed that the Federal Reserve, which has been fighting to conceal the beneficiaries of its billion dollar bailouts, gave most of the money to banks overseas, including a company part owned by the Central Bank of Libya.

Vincent Reinhart, the Fed’s director of monetary affairs from 2001 to 2007, stated,

The caricature of the Fed is that it was shoveling money to big New York banks and a bunch of foreigners, and that is not conducive to its long-run reputation.

Unfortunately, as would be expected, the caricature is true.

America Last — in finance as well as foreign policy.

The Next America Reply

Article by Ronald Brownstein.
The next America is arriving ahead of schedule. And it could rattle assumptions about the coming presidential election.

Last week’s release of national totals from the 2010 census showed that the minority share of the population increased over the past decade in every state, reaching levels higher than demographers anticipated almost everywhere, and in the nation as a whole. If President Obama and Democrats can convert that growth into new voters in 2012, they can get a critical boost in many of the most hotly contested states and also seriously compete for some highly diverse states such as Arizona and Georgia that until now have been reliably red.

“One of the strengths of our candidacy in 2008 is, we had a broader battlefield; what these numbers suggest is that those same opportunities are there [for 2012], and there are new ones to consider,” David Axelrod, who is expected to be Obama’s senior campaign strategist, told National Journal.

Even as the growing minority population creates new opportunities for Democrats, however, the party faces persistent challenges within the majority-white community. In November’s midterm elections, Republicans won 60 percent of white voters—the highest share of whites they have attracted in any congressional election in the history of modern polling. Since May, Obama’s job-approval rating among whites has exceeded 40 percent only twice in Gallup’s weekly summary of its nightly polling. Unless the economic recovery accelerates, many analysts in both parties believe that Obama could struggle to match the modest 43 percent of white voters he captured in 2008.

Where Obama’s White Vote Matters Less in 2012 Reply

Article from the National Journal.
In the map and chart below, National Journal projects the percentage of the white vote that President Obama will need to carry an individual state in 2012. The baseline simulation makes two key assumptions. First, that Obama captures as much of the minority vote in that state as he did in 2008. Second, that the minority population grows over the next two years at the same rate it has since 2000 and produces a commensurate increase in the minority share of the electorate. The chart shows where the growing minority presence will allow Obama to win states even if he loses support among whites—and where he will need to increase his support from whites to prevail.

If President Obama cannot maintain his 2008 level of support among nonwhite voters, his electoral math looks tougher. In the reduced-support scenario, National Journal cut Obama’s nonwhite support by a tenth in each state he carried in 2008. The percentage of the white vote Obama would need to carry the state then rises compared to our baseline, especially in states with a significant nonwhite population. This scenario shows the president needing to maintain or increase his support among white voters from 2008 levels to hold onto some electoral-vote-rich battleground states, including Florida and North Carolina. But because Obama performed so well among whites in many states he won, he has room to fall and still carry these places a second time.

“Libyan Rebels” Create Central Bank, Oil Company Reply

Article by Alex Newman in The New American.

s analysts debate possible motives behind President Obama’s United Nations-backed military intervention in Libya, one angle that has received attention in recent days is the rebels’ seemingly odd decision to establish a new central bank to replace dictator Muammar Gadhafi’s state-owned monetary authority — possibly the first time in history that revolutionaries have taken time out from an ongoing life-and-death battle to create such an institution, according to observers.

In a statement released last week, the rebels reported on the results of a meeting held on March 19. Among other things, the supposed rag-tag revolutionaries announced the “[d]esignation of the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and appointment of a Governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.”

The Gadhafi regime’s central bank — unlike the U.S. Federal Reserve, which is owned by private shareholders — was among the few central banks in the world that was entirely state-owned. At the moment, it is unclear exactly who owns the rebel’s central bank or how it will be governed.

The so-called Interim Transitional National Council, the rebels’ self-appointed new government for Libya purporting to be the “sole legitimate representative of Libyan People,” also trumpeted the creation of a new “Libyan Oil Company” based in the rebel stronghold city of Benghazi. The North African nation, of course, has the continent’s largest proven oil reserves.

The Drums of Wars Reply

Article by David D’Amato.

In a speech addressing the strafing of Libya by the United States and its allies, President Obama said that the failure to act “would have been a betrayal of who we are,” that a massacre in the country would have “stained the conscience of the world.” Whenever the Empire’s foreign policy elites start speaking of “developing a partner in the region,” or of — in Obama’s words — the “important strategic interest” in intervening, there is more than just a grain of truth in their sermonizing of war.

It is most certainly in the interest of the American state and its factotums around the world to seize upon the opportunity to replace a regime like Qaddafi’s with something more amendable, with a blank canvass over which the preconditions of statist, corporate capitalism can be set down. The toadyish brainpower of the Empire, people like the Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard N. Haass, can’t help but drop clues pointing to the truth — that there is nothing at all “humanitarian” about U.S. military intervention; he says, regarding the military campaign in Libya, that insofar as “Libya accounts for only 2 percent of world oil production,” “U.S. interests are decidedly less than vital,” putting on display the calculus that characterizes foreign policy decision-making at the top.

“Making the world safe for democracy” has only ever meant making it safe for ruling class interests to devour the resources — both natural and human — of new frontiers thrown wide with the crowbar of the U.S. armed forces; and after Qaddafi is long gone, Libyans who get in the way of that will see just how much an “advocate for human freedom” the United States is. Although the ostensible reasons for the U.S. reaction to Libya, those set out by the President, are “to protect civilians” and “prevent a massacre,” those concerns are conspicuously disregarded by the U.S. daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We can be sure that the substance of U.S. military presence in Libya will be the sprouting up of fresh “kill teams” like the now-infamous Bravo Company of Afghanistan. And when that happens the American people can all feign shock that people trained in indifference to human life, trained to kill indiscriminately when the chain of command orders it, would actually murder civilians. Go figure. In a line of his speech that insults the intelligence of every U.S. citizen, the President shamed nations that could “turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries.”

Apparently he is under the impression that we’re all completely oblivious to the corpses of innocents being piled up (and posed with by the Army) in the battlefields of the Empire. As long as it’s the “anchor of global security” doing the slaughtering, though, with sanction of the U.N. Security Council and the assent of “our international partners,” the whole process becomes hallowed by the liturgies of the Empire.

The American brand of corporate capitalism, itself a war against the productive in contradiction to free markets, carries with it at all times a natural impetus for war. Since the affluence of its ruling class is not and has never been based on the natural tendencies of voluntary exchange or open competition, it must rely on ever further expropriation to sustain its coercively-engineered size.

An occasion for looting, then, can never go unutilized, and every window of opportunity for drawing into the empire a new domain must be explored. The unstated aim is always, as Murray Rothbard said, to have new “perquisites and privileges” to “parcel out . . . in the mixed economy of welfare-warfare State Monopoly Capitalism.”

Libya and the Obama Cult Reply

Article by Justin Raimondo.
Like all US wars since the Revolution, this one is about the internal politics of the US, rather than a real external threat to our security. The Clintonian wing of the Democratic party is determined to regain power, and Hillary’s push for war is the spearhead of the Restoration. The Clintonites are determined to outflank the Republican party in the foreign policy field, and eliminate the Democrats’ alleged “national security deficit” once and for all, albeit while swathed in a penumbra of moral righteousness.

The Republicans, who have presided over the most aggressive expansion of the American empire since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, are in no position to criticize this new crusade in the Middle East. They do so with the albatross of Iraq weighing heavily around their necks. Politically, it’s win-win for the Democrats, as they gear up to save what remains of their hold on power. While the American public may have its doubts about this particular intervention, this is more than balanced out by the general perception that the Democrats are just as “tough” as the Republicans, if not more so.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although pursued with some alacrity by the Obama-ites, are the legacy of the previous administration. This is a war the White House can call its own – and it surely bears the trademark arrogance and slippery two-faced double-dealing that is the hallmark of Team Obama.

The “Arab Spring” that was previously being celebrated and closely watched the world over has now been co-opted and transformed into something else entirely. Faced with the prospect of losing its Middle Eastern allies to a wave of uprisings, the Americans have decided to go with the flow, so to speak, and try to control it as best they can.

In Syria, these events are being watched very closely, of that you can be sure. By the time this column is posted we’ll see calls to intervene there, too. If and when Iran’s “Green” movement takes to the streets again, the US and its allies are telling Tehran they’re prepared to give the mullahs the Gadhafi treatment. Yes, Washington may suffer a few more losses, such as in Egypt: Yemen looks shaky, and Bahrain not much better, but these are countries on the margins of the Middle East. The core – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq – is secure, for the moment, and the acquisition of Libya will be a major gain. As Rahm Emmanuel would put it, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

The New Colonialism Reply

Article by Paul Craig Roberts.
What we are observing in Libya is the rebirth of colonialism. Only this time it is not individual European governments competing for empires and resources. The new colonialism operates under the cover of “the world community,” which means NATO and those countries that cooperate with it. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was once a defense alliance against a possible Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Today NATO provides European troops in behalf of American hegemony.

Washington pursues world hegemony under the guises of selective “humanitarian intervention” and “bringing freedom and democracy to oppressed peoples.” On an opportunistic basis, Washington targets countries for intervention that are not its “international partners.” Caught off guard, perhaps, by popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, there are some indications that Washington responded opportunistically and encouraged the uprising in Libya. Khalifa Hifter, a suspected Libyan CIA asset for the last 20 years, has gone back to Libya to head the rebel army.

Gaddafi got himself targeted by standing up to Western imperialism. He refused to be part of the US Africa Command. Gaddafi saw Washington’s scheme for what it is, a colonialist’s plan to divide and conquer.

Illiberal Islam Reply

An immensely important article from Michael Scheuer in The American Conservative.
The Arab world’s unrest has brought forth gushing, rather adolescent analysis about what the region will look like a year or more hence. Americans have decided that these upheavals have everything to do with the advent of liberalism, secularism, and Westernization in the region and that Islamist militant groups like al-Qaeda have been sidelined by the historically inevitable triumph of democracy—a belief that sounds a bit like the old Marxist-Leninist claptrap about iron laws of history and communism’s inexorable triumph.

How has this judgment been reached? Primarily by disregarding facts, logic, and history, and instead relying on (a) the thin veneer of young, educated, pro-democracy, and English-speaking Muslims who can be found on Facebook and Twitter and (b) the employees of the BBC, CNN, and most other media networks, who have suspended genuine journalism in favor of cheerleading for secularism and democracy on the basis of a non-representative sample of English-speaking street demonstrators and users of social-networking sites. The West’s assessment of Arab unrest so far has been—to paraphrase Sam Spade’s comment about the Maltese Falcon—the stuff that dreams, not reality, are made of.

A year from now, we will find that most Arab Muslims have neither embraced nor installed what they have long regarded as an irreligious and even pagan ideology—secular democracy. They will have instead adhered even more closely to the faith that has graced, ordered, and regulated their lives for more than 1400 years, and which helped them endure the oppressive rule of Western-supported tyrants and kleptocrats.

This does not mean that fanatically religious regimes will dominate the region, but a seven-year Gallup survey of the Muslim world published in 2007 shows that a greater degree of Sharia law in governance is favored by young and old, moderates and militants, men and even women in most Muslim countries. While a façade of democracy may well appear in new regimes in places like Egypt and Tunisia, their governments will be heavily influenced by the military and by Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. If for no other reason, the Islamist groups will have a powerful pull because they have strong organizational capabilities; wide allegiance among the highly educated in the military, hard sciences, engineering, religious faculties, and medicine; and a reservoir of patience for a two-steps-forward, one-step-back strategy that is beyond Western comprehension. We in the West too often forget, for example, that the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda draw from Muslim society’s best and brightest, not its dregs; that al-Qaeda has been waging its struggle for 25 years, the Muslim Brotherhood for nearly 85 years; and that Islam has been in the process of globalizing since the 7th century.

As new Arab regimes develop, Westerners also are likely to find that their own deep sense of superiority over devout Muslims—which is especially strong among the secular left, Christian evangelicals, and neoconservatives—is unwarranted. The nearly universal assumption in the West is that Islamic governance could not possibly satisfy the aspirations of Muslims for greater freedom and increased economic opportunity—this even though Iran has a more representative political system than that of any state in the region presided over by a Western-backed dictator. No regime run by the Muslim Brotherhood would look like Canada, but it would be significantly less oppressive than those run by the al-Sauds and Mubarak. This is not to say it would be similar to or more friendly toward the West—neither will be the case—but in terms of respecting and addressing basic human concerns they will be less monstrous.

Why Did the Industrial Revolution Happen? 1

Interesting article on economic history from Gary North.

The economic historian Gregory Clark summarizes a remarkable fact.

. . . there is no sign of any improvement in material conditions for settled agrarian societies as we approach 1800. There was no gain between 1800 BC and AD 1800 — a period of 3,600 years. Indeed the wages for east and south Asia and southern Europe for 1800 stand out by their low level compared to those for ancient Babylonia, ancient Greece, or Roman Egypt.

Then, around 1800, this all changed. Economic growth began: about 2% per annum, compounded. That brought our world into existence.

We are the great beneficiaries of a process that few people understand. No one has explained cogently how it came into existence. A rate of growth so slow that no one could perceive it at the time has created a world that would have been inconceivable in 1800.

This change has taken a mere three generations. This is simply inconceivable.

My Dinner with Vilfredo Pareto 19

Scott Locklin discusses the great sociologist.

Vilfredo Pareto was arguably the greatest economist of the 1800s and possibly the greatest social scientist of all time. He was one of the first to suggest applying the cold hand of mathematics to what was previously a liberal art rather than a mathematical science. His work is still considered controversial today, despite the fact that it is self-evidently true, mostly because the average modern economist or sociologist is more an ideological fashion victim than an applied mathematician.

Pareto was born to Genoese nobility in Paris during the revolution of 1848. His training was in classics, physics, and engineering, so his approach to the soft sciences was more rigorous than most. Not only did he make immortal contributions to economics, but his theories of elites were enormously influential in sociology back when it still had some hope of becoming a hard science rather than the incoherent booby hatch it is today.

Like most academic types then and now, Pareto started out a sort of liberal socialist. Then he got sick of trying to save others. To paraphrase what he said of his transformation, he had once wanted to protect the underdogs but later became contemptuous of their infirmity. Pareto also explicitly realized the socialist or democratic revolutionaries were just another would-be elite trying to replace the natural elite rather than friends to the common man as they postured themselves. This was a common transformation in his day. You can read a similar evolution in Jack London’s “Martin Eden,” as London fell under the spell of thinkers such as Herbert Spencer (and, probably, Pareto).

You Say Anarchy Like It’s a Bad Thing 1

Thomas Knapp challenges the great William S. Lind.

Writing in The American Conservative, William Lind bemoans the tendency revealed by current upheavals in the Middle East. “[T]he worst possible outcome … is the disintegration of states and their replacement either by statelessness — as we see in Somalia — or by fictional states, as in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

But what’s so bad about that? Let’s look at a couple of Lind’s objections:

“Within the territories that were formerly real states,” he writes, “power devolves to many non-state entities.”

Color me clueless, but isn’t that exactly what “limited government conservatives” usually claim to be for?

Isn’t that, in point of fact, precisely the goal Lind himself pursued as Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation? That institution’s “Declaration of Cultural Independence” swears off state politics and commits its adherents to “the creation of a complete, alternate structure of parallel cultural institutions.” Moreover, those “parallel cultural institutions” are of a specifically “Judeo-Christian” variety. But these days Lind lists, among his fears, the possibility that power will devolve to “religions and sects.”

“Internally, war becomes a permanent condition,” he warns. To which I can only reply, “was it not ever so?” Hobbes’s “war of all against all,” if ever that war truly raged, didn’t end with Leviathan’s appearance on the scene. The modern state merely armed the political class at the expense of the productive class, then proceeded to systematize the slaughter and — with spectacular exceptions like Hitler’s Holocaust, Stalin’s reign of terror, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Pol Pot’s “Killing Fields” — regulate its domestic intensity to a more bearable and sustainable level than that of all-out war between states.

The Real Terrorists Reply

Article by David D’Amato.
Reporting on the “death toll for a grisly hostage situation” that began on Tuesday (March 29) in Iraq, the Associated Press counts 57 dead and 98 wounded. “Gunmen wearing explosives belts,” says the AP, seized a government building in the Iraqi province of Salahuddin, holding off police for five hours in a plot that was apparently aimed at the province’s governing council.

Officials of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s puppet government, fingering al-Qaeda while invoking the cult of “security,” parroted all the Empire’s standard bilge about terrorists’ attempts to undermine “the very foundations of democracy.” For the United States and its colonial government in Iraq, “democracy” — the structure that Iraqis have apparently “strived so valiantly to build” — would seem to mean little more than superficial participation in the occasional, ceremonial celebration of the state.

In contrast, the people of Iraq, as opposed to their masters, probably have a very different notion of democracy in mind when they’re striving to build the future of their country, one that presumably doesn’t involve the lordly oversight of American plutocrats. And if we’re going to be considering what the U.S. Embassy calls “horrific acts,” we should probably take some time out to evaluate those of the United States in Iraq.

We often hear that people like those who took the Iraqi hostages “hate us because we’re free,” a narrative that — leaving aside its irony (how “free” are we?) — willfully ignores the United States’ military imperialism not just in Iraq, but around the world. Lest anyone should mistake revulsion toward the Empire as an apology for the murder of innocents, Glenn Greenwald has helpfully explained the distinction:

“[T]he issue is not justification — it is inherently unjust to deliberately target civilians with violence — but causation. … Imagine the fury and craving for vengeance and violence that would be unleashed in the U.S. if we were being invaded, occupied, bombed, tortured, disappeared, and indefinitely, lawlessly detained by a foreign Muslim power on U.S. soil for a full decade or more.”

Terrorist attacks, if indeed they are disproportionately directed at the U.S. and its surrogates, are, while monstrous and morally detestable, the desperate convulsions of a people trapped and oppressed by the weight of empire. As Greenwald notes, violence like the hostage situation in Iraq is inevitable, the natural response of human beings comparable to thrashing, caged animals.

Democracy: The Problem Reply

Review of Alain de Benoist by Alex Kurtagic.

De Benoist begins by problematising this taken-for-granted term, democracy, and by showing that it is, and has been, used very loosely, cynically, imprecisely, disingenuously, and outright deceptively, to describe just about any system of government, from direct democracies to totalitarian communist regimes. To his mind, only the democracy of Athens in ancient Greece can be genuinely referred to as a democracy: after all, those who invented it best know what it was about.

Judged against this standard, modern democracies fail to meet the required definition—they are something else, but not democracies.

De Benoist also demonstrates that democracy is not synonymous with liberalism, elections, or even freedom. In fact, often the opposite is the case: modern elections are effectively a delegation—and therefore an abdication—of sovereignty, the anointment of a self-perpetuating class of professional politicians who then do whatever they like, with complete impunity.

De Benoist’s main thesis is that genuine democracy can only exist in a community with shared values and common historical ties. A secondary thesis is that the larger the political unit, the stronger the type of government needed to hold it together. The liberal democracies of the West, governing over vast multicultural multitudes, are necessarily repressive and tend increasingly towards totalitarianism.