Benjamin Marks takes Mencken-misconceptions (and libertarian uplift) to task…
Read more about “Mencken’s Conservatism” here.
Mencken believed that most of the debates about politics, religion, science, philosophy, aesthetics and other issues rests on false premises that make all their squabbles merely petty infighting. Here is a brief tour of his commentary on this:
Religion — “Every religion of any consequence, indeed, teaches that all the rest are insane, immoral and against God. Usually it is not hard to prove it.”1
And: “Evil is that which one believes of others. It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.”2
Philosophy — “Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he usually proves that he is one himself.”3
Politics — conflicting parties spend much of their time “trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule — and both commonly succeed, and are right.”4
Patriotism — “If it is the duty of a young man to serve his country … then it is equally the duty of an enemy young man to serve his.”5
We just can’t win. LOL! The comments by this “conservative” are otherwise quite well-considered:
F.A. Hayek’s stance to combat the leviathan monster of the State is to go local. Rockwell continues: “We need a Hayekian solution to the US. We need small states trading with each other. How many? It really doesn’t matter so long as one is not overly large geographically or in terms of population. It could be 10 states or 100. At some point, the number of political units created would have to be left to the people themselves, to be decided by local plebiscite. After all, at that point, all political alliances between units would have to be voluntary and clearly dissolvable.”
In a significant tract from a Marxist viewpoint, Liberty and Populism: Building an Effective Resistance Movement in North America, a cogent point is made:
By Stuart Bramhall
My decision to focus my activism in the sustainability movement has nothing to do with the horror stories climate change and Peak Oil aficionados tell about the horrible future my children and grandchildren face. I have never found terrifying or guilt-tripping people an effective way to engage them politically. It always seems far more likely to generate demoralization and apathy. I choose to focus my time and energy on sustainability-related issues based on the conviction that people who wish to survive coming economic and ecological crisis will need be extremely well organized. After thirty years of organizing, I find that sustainability engages people at the neighborhood and community level in a way no other issue can.
My friends and neighbors get it. They are all affected by the skyrocketing cost of fossil fuels, mainly because high energy and transportation costs make everything more expensive. They are all acutely aware that something in society has to change drastically. This realization makes them open, to varying degrees, to trying new, less energy intensive ways of doing business and meeting their families’ basic needs.
The only stumbling block I face in organizing around sustainability is efforts by the corporate media to demonize us as liberals or “greenies.” I can see why they do this. Corporate media coverage of climate change and sustainability-related topics is heavily dominated by the fossil fuel industry, which has a vested interest in discouraging people from reducing their use of oil, natural gas and coal.
How Terms like “Conservative” and “Liberal” Lost Their Meaning
By Paul Gottfried
New York Mayor Bloomberg has recommended that a 16-ounce limit be placed on the size of soft drinks sold at city restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums, and arenas. This seemed necessary because of an epidemic of obesity in his municipality, where over 50% of the residents are now judged to be overweight. I’m not sure what “overweight” means for NYC officials, but I’ve noticed lots of fatsos waddling around on their streets.
Over the last thirty years Americans have been increasing their food intake by almost 300 calories daily. Limiting soft-drink consumption would ostensibly help combat this public danger in the same way that earlier measures such as posting calorie counts on restaurant menus and prohibiting trans fats in restaurant food aimed to trim New Yorkers’ waistlines. Apparently, these earlier measures hadn’t done the trick, so Bloomberg is now pulling out the big guns against soda pop. Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson has confidently assured us that “People will come to see this very much in the interest of public health.”
“Where were these journalists when it came to criticizing much bigger infringements on individual liberties?”
There is no reason to think that Bloomberg’s law will have much effect on the average New Yorker’s girth. At least for now, consumers will be allowed to purchase as many sugary drinks as their money and appetite will permit. Although it may cost more to buy these additional high-calorie drinks, New Yorkers will not be prevented from doing so.
I’m probably sugar-averse, a natural condition that has allowed me to reach my present age without the diabetes that afflicts other family members. If all the Pepsis and other foul-tasting drinks in stores and restaurants disappeared overnight, it wouldn’t bother me.
By Paul Gottfried
A recent syndicated column by Peggy Noonan makes useful observations, together with one rather questionable point. Noonan blithely assumes that while the president has “fully absorbed the general assumptions and sympathies of the political left,” his opponent Mitt Romney reflects “the general attitudes, assumptions and sympathies of the political right.”
Noonan may be seeing something in Romney that eludes me. Of course, she can find support for her view in the invectives of those liberal journalists, who have begun to depict the former Massachusetts governor and Republican nominee as an incipient fascist. But the right-wingers I meet, who are the ones who tried to keep Romney from winning the nomination, do not believe that he shares their “general attitudes, assumptions and sympathies.” They are going along with the candidate of the GOP regulars and Noonan’s Wall Street Journal because they think Obama may be worse.
Despite this undeserved plug for her newspaper’s editorial choice, Noonan does correctly underline the foolishness of Obama’s recent straying in the direction of the hardline social left. She notes that Obama is “actively bad in politics,” as opposed to being a politically clever ideologue. “Anyone good at politics does not pick a fight with the Catholic Church during an election year.”
By Thomas Sowell
It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.”
He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.
What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.
Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.
Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.
By Glenn Greenwald
In 2005, Karl Rove sparked widespread outrage by accusing liberal critics of President Bush’s Terrorism programs of sympathizing with and wanting to coddle The Terrorists:
Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks andwanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.”
In response, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid’s spokesmancalled on Bush to “immediately repudiate Karl Rove’s offensive and outrageous comments.” Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer fumed: “When I heard his remarks, it turned my stomach,” while his Democratic colleague Frank Lautenberg said that Bush “can only have one reaction, and that is to ask Rove to get out of his office.” Leading Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry signed a letter denouncing Rove and demanding that he resign or be fired for his remarks.
Yesterday, Gene Lyons, the long-time Democrat and syndicated columnist, wrote a column defending Obama’s Terrorism policies — he’s merely doing what “what any bloody-minded pragmatist would” — and denounced what he called “the feebleness of [Obama’s] critics” (citing me as the left’s example). Here’s how Lyons, in the first paragraph, characterizes the position of Obama’s critics:
Listen to the interview.
C4SS Senior Fellow and current holder of the Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory, Kevin Carson, participates in a discussion regarding the alternative and challenge that C4SS’s left-wing market anarchism offers to the mainstream libertarian conversation.
Kerry Bolton is interviewed by Richard Spencer.
The United Nations General Assembly
Author Kerry Bolton joins Richard to discuss geopolitics and the intersection of global finance, war, and foreign policy. In particular, they examine the “conspiracy theories” regarding major events like the Second World War and the Cold War–which ones help us get to the truth and which one are distractions.
Bolton’s latest book is Revolution From Above, published by Arktos Media.
From HuffPo Canada.
Two-thirds—two-fucking-thirds—of this spin-piece’s audience voted in favour of censorship: tie-dye totalitarians!
A Conservative private members’ bill that repeals part of Canada’s hate speech laws has passed the House of Commons with scant media attention, and even less commentary. But it’s being cheered by many Canadian conservatives as a victory for freedom of speech. And it’s being cheered most vocally by another group: White supremacists.
Bill C-304, introduced by Conservative backbencher Brian Storseth, repeals Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which bans hate speech transmitted over the Internet or by telephone. It passed third reading in the House of Commons on Thursday and is now headed to the Senate.
“This is a huge victory for freedom in Canada,” a poster calling him or herself “CanadaFirst” posted on the website of StormFront, a notorious white supremacist group. “However, we still have other unjust Zionist ‘hate’ laws that need to go.”
“Way to go, Harper. I know we can’t get everything we want, but I stand a little taller today as a Canuck,” wrote “OneMan.”
The new law doesn’t make hate speech legal on the web or by phone — hate speech remains illegal under the Criminal Code. But by removing it from the Canadian Human Rights Act, it takes away the authority of the country’s human rights commissions to investigate online hate speech and request that violating websites be taken down.
By Kenneth McIntyre
When writing about the work of an academic historian or philosopher—as opposed to a polemicist, a politician, or a popularizer—there is an obvious threshold question with which to begin: is the writer’s work intrinsically interesting or compelling in some way? If this question is answered in the negative, then there is usually no reason to carry on.
The strange case of Leo Strauss, however, proves that there are definite exceptions to this rule. Strauss’s work is almost universally dismissed by philosophers and historians, yet he has attracted a following amongst political theorists (hybrid creatures most often associated with political science departments) and neoconservative political activists. So, while the verdict on the intellectual importance of Strauss’s historico-philosophical work has been that, like Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, there is no there there, the practical influence of Strauss, its manifestation as Straussianism, and Straussianism’s connection with neoconservatism still present themselves as intriguing problems in contemporary American intellectual history.
From Kyle’s Corner.
In these troubling economic times those that wish to defend the establishment are scrambling for a demographic to scapegoat. Naturally, they have landed on the poor.
Recently, a young conservative, Christine Rousselle , demonstrated the point in her essay “My Time at Walmart: Why We Need Serious Welfare Reform”. In this short article she manages to make use of several clichéd right-wing attacks on the poor. She mentions the term “welfare queens” repeatedly, claims that the state is running out of money due to welfare programs for the poor, and she complains about proles committing “massive amounts of welfare fraud and abuse”.
This article touches on the three things that you must believe in order to be an establishment conservative in America:
- Americans stricken by poverty are unethical parasites sucking this country dry
- The Middle and Upper class stand on their own merits (they aren’t heavily subsidized by the state)
- Corporations like Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs are bastions of the “free market” and need to be protected from the vicious classes
There are some glaring contradictions that arise when conservatives blame the poor for America’s economic plight. First off, the poor are not the biggest recipients of government loot. Secondly, this misdirected anger causes people to overlook the real thieves that are running this country. It’s easy to blame the powerless, but average conservatives are only shooting themselves in the foot when they side with the ruling class and attack the proles.
By Jeremy Weiland
Over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Dr. Matt Zwolinski has a video defending sweatshops. I suppose if this were just another libertarian site, it might not concern me. After all, he’s hardly the first libertarian to associate our philosophy with defenses of exploitation.
What gets me is that the site is called “Bleeding Heart Libertarians”. Ostensibly, the goal of the blog is to defend libertarianism as a compassionate philosophy. It adds insult to injury for libertarians to make the same tired arguments not only in a flashy new medium but also on a site intended to represent a compassionate, concerned variety of the philosophy whose label we both employ.
It’s not that his arguments are wrong per se. Yes, sweatshop jobs are the best of a crappy set of options for far too many people in the third world. Yes, shutting down those sweatshops without doing anything else would not improve anybody’s situation. And yes, I can’t contest the point that people should do things to help their situation, even if they don’t remedy it completely.
Listen to the interview.
Robert Stark interviews Paul Craig Roberts. Topics include:
- PCR’s role in the Reagan administration and supply-side economics;
- How job outsourcing was engineered by Wall Street and corporations;
- The military-industrial complex;
- Neoconservatives, foreign policy in the Middle East, and war with Iran;
- Policy toward China;
- Why we can’t take back the country by the ballot box.
An oldy-but-goody from Dylan Waco at the Left Conservative.
Fresh off the heels of my post about the generational gap within the paleo movement on matters of race, comes the latest race obsessed nonsense from the folks at VDare. This time the issue is the alleged sellout of paleolibertarianism, by lewrockwell.com and the Murray Rothbard inspired, free market fundamentalists associated with the Austrian School of economics. While I am not a partisan of the Rothbardians, it does strike me that they are the saner of the two groupings, and they certainly have their priorities in order. They also understand tactical alliances, something that flies right over the head of the VDare crowd all to often.
Generally speaking I am a fan of the VDare website, particularly its focused work on immigration. While I don’t consider myself a restrictionist, I do think immigration is one of the major problems facing the nation, and lefties who pretend that the tide of illegals sweeping onto our shores is not an issue worthy of thought ought to quit pretending they care about things like the environment, urban sprawl, fair wages, or the autocratic status of the third world hellholes these folks are fleeing from. That said, VDare’s obsession with what it calls the “National Question”, is for the most part ideologically driven nonsense, and postings like the one offered up by “Arthur Pendleton” (most likely a pseudonym) do nothing to advance the cause of decentralized government, personal liberty, or community empowerment.
By Paul Gottfried
Although the adjective “fascist,” as George Orwell pointed out during and right after World War II, was a slur applied to “those we don’t like,” the indiscriminate use of the “F” word seems more common now than it was in 1945.
Political correctness drives this revival, although the association of fascism with absolute evil was already common by the late 1960s. That’s when the new “F” word became the ultimate insult in New Left grunting (replacing the other “F” word, which was elevated to the socially chic). Then along came the Holocaust industry to equate fascism with Nazism and Auschwitz.
Fascism was a time- and space-related movement which arose in Europe between the two World Wars and which was heavily shaped by World War I’s effects. Fascism resulted from the mobilization of mass armies, the creation of command economies, and the problem of reintegrating veterans into war-torn societies. Fascists were also reacting against the revolutionary left, particularly anarchists and communists. Communists in Germany, Finland, Austria, and Hungary were then being supplied by the newly created Soviet Union. The paramilitary formations that opposed the left stressed national identity—and in the Austrian and Spanish cases, Catholic corporate structures—as opposed to communist internationalism and socialist atheism.
“Fascism has a definite historical meaning. It is not an expletive to describe everything that someone dislikes.”
Contrary to an idea popular among American libertarians, fascists were not really leftists and once in power were not particularly socialistic. In fascist Italy, they supported some welfare-state measures, particularly after the Depression, and what they introduced, such as subsidies to industries and farmers, paralleled the New Deal in the US.
Fascism belonged to the right but was not conservative in any traditional sense. It took over the revolutionary rhetoric of the leftist internationalists and socialists, but fascist “national revolutions” changed the social structure only minimally. In Latin countries and in Austria, the fascists borrowed heavily from the Catholic Church and took over at least the labeling of neo-medieval corporate and guild organizations.
By Wayne John Sturgeon
Richard Hunt, former editor of the UK based “Green Anarchist” and “Alternative Green” magazines, died may 2nd 2012. He was 79 years old. Green Anarchist, a publication he launched in the mid to late 80s, was a very beautifully illustrated magazine (Richard was an excellent artist) with a spirit very akin to the traveller, squatter, free festival and counter cultural punk scene of the time. Richard would finance, write, edit,and illustrate this magazine until he was kicked out by the other editors for supposed reactionary views. These reactionary views apparently consisted of supporting traditional gender roles (despite being very pro-homosexual) admitting to a natural patriotism (he was opposed to the first Iraq war but felt an kindred affinity to the british service personnel) and being concerned on enviromental and sustainabillity grounds as to the impact mass immigration would have on the eco-system of the U. K., etc.
He parted to form Alternative Green magazine in the early 90s. Green Anarchist then changed into a much more aggressive, vanguardist, anarcho-primitivist, “propaganda of the deed” type mag that alienated and divided many and almost landed its editors a lengthy jail term before disappearing completely. Alternative Green (subtitled “green anarchism for the polictically incorrect”) seeked to transcend both left and right dogmatism aiming at a synthesis of what Richard would refer to as “the loyality of the right with the compassion of the left.”
By Jeremy Weiland
Last year I voted for Barack Obama. I didn’t do so because I believed the hope and change hype. Since Obama changed two key positions almost immediately after winning the nomination (telecom immunity and caving to AIPAC on Iran) I had long abandoned such naivete. Instead, I voted for Obama because I thought at least he would be restrained and judicious in charge of the imperial war machine. The attitudes of the Bush years seemed more important to repudiate than the actual policies, and everything seemed to indicate that, while he wouldn’t depart too much from Bush’s war policy and domestic police state, he would at least go about it in a more measured, less bellicose manner.
I think after three years of Obama at the helm, we can safely put to rest any notion that he’s any substantively different. Need I list the reasons? Composing “kill lists” for drone strikes that target any “military-age males” and kill scores of innocents. Duplicity on withdrawing from Iraq. Doubling down on Afghanistan. Waging a war on whistleblowers while indeminfying torturers and other criminals. Corporatized health care for all. Continuing and extending bailouts for corporate America. Crackdowns on medical marijuana despite his campaign rhetoric. The NDAA and indefinite detention of suspected terrorists.
By C. Derick Varn
An Open Letter To Much of the So-Called Left:
I am a man of the left. Make no mistake about it, I am a man of the fair left even. I have vaguely liberal social sensibilities, and a hard left politics. I have, however, noticed much notice in my life: one) a tendency to try confuse polemics and derailing tactics with arguments. In “anti-racist” battles I have noticed a strategic essentializing of the minority group to preserve self-identity move to a strategic essentializing of the majority. Take for example this bit from People of color organize: