I first heard of libertarians in 1980 when Ed Clark ran for Prez on the LP ticket. I first heard of anarchists around 1983 when I came across William Godwin in a high school English literature class (which I probably failed). I first became an anarchist by reading Proudhon’s encyclopedia entry around 1987. What started as youthful fancy became a lifelong activity.
It’s interesting how the US is developing a class system similar to Latin America. I don’t think the reasons for this can be traced to a singular cause. It probably has several dozen causes.
It’s also interesting how all the different political factions have their proposed ideal solutions. Liberals and social democrats want a more progressive tax code and a larger welfare state. Nationalists want restricted immigration and high tariffs. An-caps want to abolish central banking. Conservatives want to abolish welfare to the inner city. Libertarians want to reduce taxes and regulation. The far Left wants some kind of socialist revolution. Probably none of those by themselves would produce the results they want even if a general political and popular consensus for their implementation could be developed, which is unlikely given the ongoing fragmentation and polarization of US political culture.
A recent interview. Listen here.
The Trump administration is Republican business as usual, as virtually all serious observers predicted it would be. The great thing about the Trump presidency is not only is Trump generally unpopular outside of his dying right-wing of the WASP middle class “base,” but he is demonstrating that Presidents are simply CEOs of America, Inc., and the state-capitalist oligarchs who serve as the de facto Board of Directors.
By William S. Lind
President Trump ran as a Republican, but he did not win as a Republican. He won as a populist. If he is to be a successful president and win re-election, he needs to make a fateful choice: will he govern as a populist or as a Republican? If he chooses the latter, he will fail.
Unfortunately, the president seems to be leaning more and more towards governing as a Republican. The tax reform proposal he recently offered is classic Republican: it may benefit the middle class indirectly by creating more jobs, but its direct beneficiaries are high-income people. One simple change would transform it into a populist measure: a high tax rate, say 75%, on earned incomes over $1,000,000 annually (indexed for inflation). The people who elected Mr. Trump would cheer.
On the vexing problem of health insurance, the president’s latest action, cutting government subsidies to insurance companies to subsidize low income people, may hurt Trump voters. Many of his supporters have modest incomes. They are not Republicans with money to burn. The populist answer to health care is Medicare for all, with Medicare’s ability to control prices. The origin of the health care affordability problem is grossly excessive prices for anything labelled “medical”. Any policy that does not deal with those prices is a band-aid.
In foreign and defense policy, Trump voters do not want more unnecessary wars halfway around the world that kill our kids and waste our money. That is the populist position: America first. If we are attacked, we fight, but why should young Americans die in the centuries-old war between Sunni and Shiite Islamics? Here again, President Trump seems to be governing as a Republican, not a populist. Continuing the futile war in Afghanistan, re-involving ourselves on the ground in Iraq, putting “advisors” in Syria, spooling up the long-standing and strategically meaningless war of words with North Korea—none of this is populist. It all comes from the playbook of Republicans such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who cannot stand the thought that there is a quarrel somewhere in the world in which the U.S. is not involved.
I suspect President Trump knows the Republicans have taken over his administration and pushed the populism that elected him to the side. Unfortunately, he seems not to know what to do about it. There are sources of ideas and people from which he could assemble a different, populist-conservative agenda and set of advisors. I write for one of them, The American Conservative magazine.
What the Republicans in and around the White House do not understand, in addition to the bankruptcy of the Republican “we serve the rich” agenda, is that populism is the wave of the future, both here and in Europe and on the Left as well as the Right. Establishment Republicans and Democrats alike fear populism. But to a president elected because he was seen as a populist, the populist wave of the future is one he should seek to ride. If not President Trump then someone else will combine the Trump and Sanders voters into a new, enduring political majority that will shape America’s future agenda. In the end, it is not President Trump or Senator Sanders who is important. It is the people who voted for both.
Todd Lewis makes the case for libertarian socialism. Classical Theist says no.
By J P Cortez
Washington, DC (October 27, 2017) — Congressmen Alex Mooney (R-WV) and Frank Lucas (R-OK) today delivered a formal letter to the United States Mint and Secret Service, urging aggressive action on the growing problem of high-quality counterfeits of U.S. precious metals coins entering the country from China and elsewhere.
“Enclosed herewith is a 1995 1 oz. Gold American Eagle coin, carrying a face value $50 and ostensibly minted by the U.S. Mint,” Mooney and Lucas wrote. “You are free to keep it, as it’s a worthless tungsten fake.”
By Lexi Linnell
Center for a Stateless Society
Recently, Vishal Wilde advocated for a universal basic income (UBI) on the grounds that it promotes economic freedom and social justice. Indeed, UBI has long been attractive to libertarians of various stripes. However, this idea suffers from the problem that, to date, UBI proposals have generally relied on the state for a taxation and distribution mechanism. From the libertarian point of view, a voluntary UBI would be highly preferable. As Wilde notes:
Although it’s worth noting that all contemporary, publicly-funded services have coercive origins, a voluntarily-funded UBI would obviously be ideal. Ensuring that a voluntary UBI utilized suitable mechanisms for delivering and enhancing trust is an unenviable but profoundly important challenge. Even if this can be accomplished, the difficult task of convincing people to adopt these mechanisms remains.
An excellent general introduction to class theory from an anti-statist perspective.
By Sean Gabb
In delivering this speech, I make no pretence to originality of thought. Everything I am saying today has been said already – usually better, and always in greater detail – by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, by Roderick Long, by Kevin Carson, by Christian Michel, and by many others. If I can contribute anything to the libertarian analysis of class, it is brevity alone.
Libertarians often define a ruling class as that group of politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, businessmen, therapists, educators and media people who derive income and position from the State. By definition, so far as such people operate as members of a ruling class, they are parasitic on the efforts of ordinary people. Their position comes from forcing others to act as they would not freely choose, or by excluding them from activities they might freely choose. Their income is based on forced transfers of wealth.
The size and activities of a ruling class will be determined by the physical resources it can extract from the people, by the amount of force it can use against them, and by the nature and acceptance of the ideology that legitimises its existence. None of these determinants by itself will be decisive, but each is a necessary factor. Change any one, and the working of the other two will be limited or wholly checked.
Of these determinants, the ideological are the most open to control and change. In the short term, resources are fixed in quantity. At any time, the amount of force available will be limited. What will always interest ruling classes, therefore, is the nature and acceptance of its legitimising ideology. This will vary according to circumstances that are not fully within the control of any ruling class. It may involve averting the Divine Wrath, or promoting acceptance of the True Faith, or protecting the nation from external or external enemies, or raising the condition of the poor, or making us healthier, or saving the planet from us. The claims of the ideology may, in other times and places, seem unfounded or insane. What they generally have in common is the need for an active state directed by the right sort of people.
Since the function of these ideologies is to justify theft or murder or both, they need to be promoted by endless repetition – which is a valid form of argument if truth is less important than winning – and by at least the discouragement of dissent. Efficient promotion will produce a discourse – this being the acceptance of a language and of habits of thought in which dissent cannot be expressed without also conceding its immorality. Efficient promotion will also produce a state of almost universal false consciousness – in which ordinary people are brought to accept ideological claims as true that are opposed to their own interests as these might be reasonably considered.
This is an interesting discussion by Tom Woods exploring the similarities and differences between Marxist and Austrian class theory. The basis of the discussion is an article by Hans Hermann Hoppe suggesting that Marx was essentially correct about everything but the labor theory of value. This analysis of Hoppe that Tom is discussing fits well with Murray Rothbard’s essay from the mid-1960s called “Left and Right: Prospects for Liberty” where Rothbard argued that libertarianism is historically to the left of socialism.
We need many, many more projects like this with each reflecting the ideals of their founders and participants.
By Evan Faggart
Roger Ver, a highly visible figure in the Bitcoin community, is teaming up with entrepreneur and cryptocurrency enthusiast Olivier Janssens to create a brand new country. Here’s the catch: this country will have no government, opting instead to adhere to the principles of the Anarcho-Capitalism philosophy.
Also read: Canada May Soon Get Its Very Own Bitcoin ETF
Roger Ver and the Free Society: A New Anarchist Paradise?
Called the “Free Society,” the country’s website is currently barebones. At press time, the only things displayed on the website are a two-sentence ‘About Us,’ a newsletter subscription box, and a ‘FAQ’ section.
According to the FAQ section, Roger and the rest of the Free Society team are negotiating with different, undisclosed national governments. The Free Society’s goal is to reach an agreement with a national government that will grant them sovereignty over a piece of the existing government’s land, or a nearby territory.
Modern liberal democratic states are oligarchies of state-capitalist power elites in practice (C. Wright Mills). But they have to afford a reasonable standard of living, level of protection, and quality of life to the middle class in order to maintain their legitimacy. States tend to collapse when they can no longer hold the support of the middle class. The middle class generally fears the lower class more than the ruling class (for a range of reasons, e.g. crime, economic competition, perceived cultural threats, status anxiety, etc). So the state will maintain the loyalty of the middle class by ensuring the lower class is effectively suppressed. Political rivalries in liberal democracies either represent different factions of the elite attempting to build constituencies for themselves (e.g. FOX News or MSNBC) or various middle class factions seeking favors and preferential treatment from the state and other elite institutions.
By J P Cortez
October 19, 2017 marks an important holiday in the Indian culture. Diwali begins.
Diwali is one of the biggest festivals for Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. It is a lavish celebration of the victory of light over darkness with its gleaming candles, luxurious works of art, and opulent feasts. Diwali is also characterized by gift giving. Buying and gifting gold is considered auspicious during Diwali.
Given the nature of the holiday and the number of people who celebrate it, according to CNBC, the past few years have seen a tendency for the gold price to rise around Diwali. Last year during Diwali, Mihir Kapadia, founder & CEO of Sun Global Investments, said “As heavy consumers, the festive seasons always tend to surge the demand, and considering the current low prices, this should increase the market activity and thus push the prices a little.” Kapadia continued, “We do not expect it to boost prices significantly as the overall market is subdued due to the worries about rising interest rates.”
There is no shortage of economic analysis during the buildup to this year’s celebration as The Economic Times reported “bullion has climbed almost 10 percent on the Indian market this year as world prices increased on… reduced chances of a further hike in U.S. interest rates in 2017.”
However, history shows that rising interest rates do not necessarily make bonds and cash more attractive or push the demand for (and therefore the price) gold down. Interest rate hikes are usually a gold bullish event.
“Gold prices going down after rate hikes is a myth propagated by the financial establishment and portfolio managers who may be intellectually lazy or have a vested interest in scaring people away from gold,” says Stefan Gleason, president of U.S. precious metals dealer Money Metals Exchange. “In reality, central banks are almost always behind the curve, and real interest rates may be going in the opposite direction despite the rate hikes.”
Slaying the Beast Takes Multiple Blows
Diwali is a grand, extravagant multi-day festival celebrating many things by many different groups of people. One of the more popular tales remembered and celebrated during Diwali is that of the brave Lord Rama. According to legend, he returned from exile after having saved his kidnapped wife and slayed the evil demon Ravanna.
KMO welcomes Keith Preston back to the program to discuss the difference between absolute and relative poverty. There are a lot of people who make less than the national average, but most of the so-called poverty in the US is relative poverty. Even so, social stratification and wide disparities between rich and poor, even when the poor are not facing starvation, erodes the sense of shared national identity and makes democratic government difficult to maintain.
It could be that Trump has started a trend where the political class, corporate class, and celebrity class are increasingly blended into each other. Also, a Zuckerberg presidential candidacy would be significant in that he represents social and economic forces outside the traditional WASP plutocracy to a much greater degree than Trump in that he is both a minority (Jewish) and part of the rising class of the “newly rich” (i.e. those from outside the traditional elite who have acquired enormous amounts of wealth in newer, high-tech industries.)My suspicion is that Trump’s upset victory in 2016 largely represents “WASP America’s last stand” and that the trend begun by Obama of political leaders increasingly being drawn from the ranks of those outside the traditional elite (e.g. ethnic minorities or the newly rich from outside the traditional plutocracy) will continue in the future.
By Shawn M. Carter
There’s increasing speculation that Mark Zuckerberg, the self-made billionaire chairman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook, may one day run for office. And though it’s unclear that he will make a bid for to be the next U.S. President in 2020, he could certainly afford it.
According to Politico, some of the signs that he does plan to run are there.
Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have hired Joel Benenson, a Democratic pollster, adviser to former President Barack Obama and chief strategist of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, as a consultant for their joint philanthropic project, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
The pair also hired David Plouffe, campaign manager for Obama’s 2008 presidential run; Amy Dudley, former communications adviser for Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.; and Ken Mehlman, who directed President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.
Zuckerberg is on a yearlong “listening tour,” where he is traveling to all 50 states and meeting with leaders and constituents in each — and, to document the trip, he has hired Charles Ommanney, a photographer for both the Bush and Obama presidential campaigns.
William Schnack is an author, philosopher, and community organizer. On the show we discuss Pierre-Joseph Proudon’s mutual credit bank (mutualism), Henry George’s land value tax (Georgism), and how these two schools can be married under the libertarian philosophy of geo-mutualism.
By Chloe Farand
Peter Temin says 80 per cent of the population is burdened with debt and anxious about job security.
America is regressing to have the economic and political structure of a developing nation, an MIT economist has warned.
Peter Temin says the world’s’ largest economy has roads and bridges that look more like those in Thailand and Venezuela than those in parts of Europe.
In his new book, “The Vanishing Middle Class”, reviewed by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Mr Temin says the fracture of US society is leading the middle class to disappear.
The Baby Boomers were the product of the largest and most prosperous middle class in world history which has subsequently been destroyed by the convergence of dozens of factors.
By Lauren Messman
A depressing new analysis found that young Americans today are making 20 percent less than baby boomers were at the same age.
Despite being the largest and best-educated generation in the country, millennials are far worse off financially than baby boomers were, spelling out a troubling financial future for young people throughout their lifetime, according to a depressing new analysis from the advocacy group Young Invincibles.
After looking at 2013 Federal Reserve data for 25- to 34-year-olds and comparing it with the same age group back in 1989, the analysis found that millennials today are making a median income of around $40,000—a whopping 20 percent drop from what baby boomers were earning when they were just starting out. Baby boomers also had twice the number of assets that millennials have now.
By Alexander Kolokotronis
A municipalist revolution is impossible without the support and cooperation of labor unions. In some cases, labor unions might themselves take the lead in promulgating a municipalist shift. To effectively pursue this path, the left must grapple with the diverse composition and structure of the working class — joining calls for union democracy with nascent municipalist movements. Experiments in participatory democracy can then be tried and tested at the intra-union level, nourishing possibilities for subsequent municipal-wide implementation.
Developments in the United States and Spain are showing that municipalist participatory platforms can win. Examples include the mayoral election of Chokwe Lumumba Jr. in Jackson, Mississippi on a three-pronged platform of building peoples’ assemblies, a solidarity economy and a network of progressive political candidates. A number of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) candidates are running on platforms of expanding participatory democracy and the workers’ cooperative sector. Municipalist movements are proliferating as a means of resisting Donald Trump and a rising far-right.
This is one of the very best discussions of the system of social stratification in the United States that I have ever seen, both inside the academic world and outside. This is really great work.
By Will Schnack
Evolution of Consent
Class refers to one’s political and economic position, while status includes one’s cultural standing, or the esteem one’s culture has for them, which is affected by one’s class, but not wholly restricted by it. These are quite often correlated to some degree, such that “class status” may be useful, but this is not always the case. There are times when one’s status is elevated above one’s economic class, or when it falls below.
For instance, a greatly skilled artist from the lower class may find him or herself elevated in status when they find the favor of upper class spectators or otherwise come across wide support. On the other hand, if one goes against the norms or customs of the upper class, as by engaging in the wrong conspicuous consumption, or doing the “wrong” thing, they may fall in their status, without falling in their class.
Class relates to property, but status includes social esteem. Status is composed of the power and/or privilege of one’s class (relationship to property ownership), but also includes one’s level of prestige. Power is the ability to decide or make changes, to rule, while privilege is a granted opportunity (by power), and prestige is social esteem or influence. At times, elevated status, from high levels of prestige, allows one to transcend class boundaries.
In the United States there are three main classes, with some subdivision.
Once again, whatever one thinks of alt-right ideology, this article is consistent with something I have noticed for a while, i.e. the convergence of a capitalism with left-wing ideology. I think this has to do with changes in the capitalist class that have taken place over the past few decades, where we now have a rising left-wing of the capitalist class that is rooted in the “newly rich,” and outside the traditional American plutocracy (i.e. the right-wing of the ruling class). In fact, I interpret much of the left/right red/blue divide at present as representing the fracturing of the capitalist class between its traditional upper class sectors, and a rising upper middle class and newly rich with a different set of social and cultural values that are shaped more by the 1960s than by 18th and 19th century America, and the efforts of both of these to rally constituents for themselves on the ground level (hence, the MSMBC/FOX dichotomy in the media).
By Vincent Law
To those who have not been keeping up to date on all the happenings post-Charlottesville, the most disturbing trends has been the great Shuttening of Alt-Right sites, accounts, and communications.
We’ve been getting attacked on all fronts from the Corporate leviathan. From Airbnb to Paypal, GoDaddy to Cloudfare, we are under attack by the bugmen running these corporations. Even TOR, the world’s largest enabler of child pornography and narco-trafficking decided to come out and denounce the Alt-Right.
The Stark Truth. Listen here.
Robert Stark and co-host Sam Kevorkian talk to Joshua Zeidner about the Tech Industry. Joshua has worked in Tech as a software developer and private consultant for Publishing and Finance Companies.
The Tech Industry since the Dot Com boom
Joshua’s work in the Tech Industry in Germany and Israel, and his observation that Germany’s has the best work environment and the United States the worst
Prof. Norm Matloff’s H-1B Statistics and the current cap at about 65k per year which are eligible for permanent residency
How H-1B’s provide pliant(“handcuffed”) workers
H-1B Frauds such as fake job adds and diplomas, and Indian firms Like Infosys and Tata Abusing the program
The need for Unionization/Trade Organizations for Tech workers
Nationalizing Search Engines and Social Media
The International Safe Harbor Privacy Act which was developed for social networks to be built
Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine
How Venture Capital money goes into “tech ventures” that embezzle crypto coins, operated like a ponzi scheme and become a liquid un-taxable and untraceable asset
Making Sense of the Google Memo
Why I Was Fired by Google – WSJ
Is Silicon Valley pulling it’s weight for California?
Tim Draper’s Six Californias Proposal