Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Doldrums

Doldrums: a state of inactivity or stagnation; a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

My writing has slowed down a lot in the last few weeks.  I will offer the least impactful reasons first, and then spend a few words on the most impactful.

By least impactful, I mean in terms of sustained damage.  The real-world has made its presence felt in my life during the last few weeks – as it does from time to time throughout every year.  Between a couple of personal things and an increased workload in the part of my life that puts food on the table…well, there you go.  This has happened before, it will happen again.  It will pass.

Also least impactful: I am reading two books, neither of which I find very worthy of writing extensive posts.  But I feel I should finish the books – maybe get one post out of each one…or something.

The most impactful: let’s call it a mental Block – and I capitalize this purposefully.  In looking back on the last few weeks, I can see that the slowdown began after writing the two posts on The Libertarian Case for Israel, co-authored by, among others, Walter Block (here and here).

Now – this struggle didn’t spring up from whole cloth.  As regular readers know, I have butted heads with Block on some very important topics in libertarian theory and application to the real world: abortion, open borders and immigration, government-controlled land, etc. 

First and foremost, I like Walter (to the extent one can know a person via email exchanges and online debates).  He engages more than any other with whom I have had disagreement – and remains civil while doing so (an example several others have failed to follow).

I have sometimes grown frustrated with his replies.  At least from my perspective: not dealing with the key points, accepting the proposition but dismissing it by saying “you take it too far” (as if that’s a libertarian argument – and is if Walter doesn’t take almost everything too far!), forgetting where we left the conversation and returning to points that I have already countered.  Further, Block – while maintaining that he is culturally conservative – writes in the most left-libertarian tradition (see his Defendable series).

My struggle began, I think with Walter’s comment of libertarianism as the one true faith.  I chewed on this for a month before writing about it.  Libertarianism is a faith in…nothing (and I do not mean that disparagingly – but I guess I do if one believes it to be the one true faith).

But it was this exchange regarding Israel that seems to have finally sent me akilter.  A couple of examples:

Much of the land currently under dispute was homesteaded by Jews before the territory was even called “Palestine,” when it was in fact called “Judea”. …if modern day Jews can prove descent from the original Jewish homesteaders, which we demonstrate they can both culturally and genetically…

Why are we departing from strict libertarian principles at this point?  We do so in order to insert ourselves into the “mainstream” discussion that takes place in the United Nations, in negotiations between various countries, etc. 

I won’t write more about this now – if you are interested and have not previously read my thoughts on these whoppers (and more), click the links.

I thought it couldn’t get worse.  But it got worse.  I won’t cite Block’s words, but mine in response:

This is troubling; I don’t know how else to say it.  Walter – knowing that the immigrants bring with them a liberty-destroying philosophy into a land that embraces an equal right to influence government – is willing to allow liberty-destroying immigrants the opportunity to further destroy his liberty – and mine. 


I would rather not write a conclusion right now.  This “conclusion” is what has me stuck.  I don’t want to write it, but I am not sure I can avoid it.

Doldrums: a state of inactivity or stagnation; a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.  I may remain in the doldrums until I deal with this.

Friday, January 26, 2018

An Open Letter to Walter Block

NB: I have exchanged with Walter by email on this topic.  I drafted the open letter before receiving a further response from Walter.  I have decided to leave the open letter as is, for background; I will follow with his further response thereafter.
I am confused by your comments in your LRC blog post entitled “Is It Permissible to Criticize Jews?  Technically, it isn’t the comments in the post that confuse me; it is the comments when I consider your other writing.  Let me try to explain…
You are asked the above question – the question that is the title of your post.  You respond:
…I think it is long past time to [criticize Jews]. The major media will jump down the throat of anyone who dares criticize any of the Chosen People. Well, I dare.
This part isn’t confusing to me; I would expect nothing less from you.
You then include an excerpt from the chapter “Defending the anti-Semite,” from your forthcoming “Defending III”:
I have great resentment not only for Zionist Jews, but against virtually ALL Jews. Why? Because most of them are socialists, progressives, communists, liberals, Bernie and Hillary supporters, Democrats, devotees of labor unions; ugh.
This part isn’t confusing to me (well, a little – but I don’t want to distract from my main point); I would expect nothing less from you.
I don’t hate my people because of our common heritage. I hate most (but of course not all) of them since they are leading commies, labor leaders, feminists, lefties.
This part isn’t confusing to me; I would expect nothing less from you.
Walter, forgive the lengthy excerpt, but I think all of this is important so I don’t lose any of your context:
In the 1930s, the then Canadian Prime Minister was asked something to the effect of how many Jewish immigrants to his country from Germany who were fleeing Nazism would he accept. Came the answer: “None is too many.” When I first heard that, I was incensed. Members of my family were killed by Hitler, may his evil name be erased. But upon more sober reflection, I can (almost) empathize with him. Who wants a bunch of commie pinkos besmirching one’s country? Those people, gulp!, my co-religionists, are really despicable people. They want to overturn capitalism, promote social justice and egalitarianism, ride roughshod over private property rights, enrage the masses against the highly accomplished elite, will donate gobs of money to the most left wing politicians available, and all the rest. “You can have them,” I now think, was an eminently sensible initial response to their threatened arrival in Canada (I here abstract from the fact that this decision indirectly lead to the murder of many innocent people). (Emphasis added.)
Walter, I know you and I disagree on libertarian theory and principle regarding open borders and immigration – we each believe we are developing the theory and principle properly.  I also know that we disagree on application: while you personally do not want the United States inundated by millions of people from…well, insert the term Trump allegedly used to describe their countries of origin, you would – right now, today – open the borders of the United States to these same people…immediately. 
You would do this even though we do not have full private property rights – a condition which you agree is necessary to have a truly libertarian policy of open borders.
The Canadian Prime Minister in fact took a position completely in line with the position of one Hans Herman Hoppe – a position which you have stated that you disagree with completely (while acknowledging that you agree with HHH on 99.9% of everything else).
Walter…this is where I am confused.  How can you describe the Canadian Prime Minister’s policy of managing the borders of Canada (in fact, closing the borders to a certain group) as “eminently sensible,” while at the same time you hold the position of open borders, right now, no preconditions?
Can you reconcile this?  How can you be for open borders and managed (or closed) borders at the same time? 
Or, by describing the Prime Minister’s actions as “eminently sensible,” are you saying that your position of open borders, right now, today is eminently un-sensible?
Please, Walter.  Spell this out for me.
Yours sincerely
And this ends my open letter.  I now offer Walter’s response to the earlier email exchange (the exchange forming the basis for this open letter); Walter has given me permission to publicly include his response:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Odds and Ends

As I offer on occasion, a grab bag.

What’s Up, Trump?

Russiagate, Clinton corruption, FBI and various spooks working to undermine US elections, etc.  Trump has the authority to declassify any and all documents that shed light on any of these.  Yet he hasn’t.

Why?  Is it possible he is ignorant of this power?  I doubt it.  Do the classified documents counter the suspected truth?  No chance of that.  Is it possible Trump has a different plan in mind?  Maybe.

If Trump does have a different plan in mind, I can think of two possibilities: first, with all of his enemies focused on the non-scandal scandals, Trump is able to have a freer hand in other things he wants to get done.  If he did more draining of the swamp in the last year, I would put more credence in this as the reason.

The second possibility: he is waiting for the right time to drop the bomb.  What do I mean?  If there is some real truth to these scandals – and these truths implicate various democrats and other enemies in the spook agencies – when would be a better time to declassify documents, give a speech in front of the nation, etc., than about a week or two before the mid-term election?

What do Open-Borders Libertarians and Neocons Have in Common?

A desire to see western civilization destroyed…oh, and also to refuse to apply their open-borders suicide to Israel.  From an email to Max Boot:
Hello, friend.  We’d like to invite you to join the Open Borders for Israel campaign.

You can imagine the rest of the email.

Max’s reply (I bet you can already guess):

The anti-Semitic emails….

I think it is Max and the open borders libertarians who refuse to advocate for open borders for Israel who are anti-Semitic.  After all, if it is so good for the economy and cultural diversity in the west, why keep these blessings from the Jews in Israel?

I am just asking; I am not advocating.

Civilization and Its Enemies

From a piece by Paul Krause (HT Charles Burris):

Western civilization, for all of its imperfections, is, nevertheless, Christian in its inheritance and still Christian in its current state of composition (needing to be awakened to be sure).

Krause points to one of the gifts of the late Enlightenment, bestowed on us by “everyone from Rousseau to the German romantics—albeit for very different reasons”: the venomous attack on western civilization that is by now quite obvious for an even semi-conscious being to notice.

Rousseau, the “spiritual godfather of the postmodern movement,” wanted to destroy western civilization entirely; as western civilization cannot be separated from its Christian tradition, this meant destroying the Christian tradition as well. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Dilly Dilly

Today I feel like the guy who brought the king some Bud-Light, although I have the feeling that Hoppe would prefer a nice Waldhaus Schwarzwald Weisse while overlooking the Bodensee and enjoying a nice Wiener Schnitzel.  From Hans Hoppe and his essay On Getting Libertarianism Right:

Throughout the entire period, the Ludwig von Mises Institute – mises.org – and Lew Rockwell – lewrockwell.com – have stood out as bulwarks against the infiltration of libertarianism by leftist thought….More recently, outlets for explicitly and decidedly anti-leftist libertarian thought have proliferated. There is “Bionic Mosquito” with his blog – bionicmosquito.blogspot.com.

I should end this post now, as it can only go downhill from here!  Yet, against my better judgment, I move forward.  While what I have cited above is easily the most important point Hoppe makes in his essay, I will offer an examination of a few of his comments that lead to this, the most important point ever made by this student of Rothbard.

Hoppe begins with a summary of his most familiar argument regarding the respect for absolute private property rights in the strictest libertarian tradition as the only method of minimizing the possibility of conflicts between and among humans.

While the importance of this “Austro-libertarian” insight can hardly be overrated, however, it is just as important to recognize what questions this theory does not answer.

What?  The NAP is not omnipotent?  This is not a shortcoming of the theory; instead, it is a shortcoming of those who place the theory as the highest good, or those who proclaim it the one true faith.  It is a shortcoming in those who expect that this is a theory that can bring itself to fruition – a creation story equal to the one found in Genesis: creating something from nothing.

Hoppe points out that the theory does not offer an answer to how a libertarian order is to be achieved – and, once achieved, how it is to be maintained.  These are fair questions, given that the world around us is anything other than one embracing a libertarian social and political order.  Too many self-proclaimed libertarians ignore the reality of the world around them, instead naively embracing…

…the currently reigning – and only “politically correct” – view that all people and in particular all groups of people are essentially equal as regards their mental and motivational make-up…

Hoppe describes these as left-libertarians.  These left-libertarians embrace precisely the same world view as those Western elites intent on destroying what remains of our freedom:

…multi-culturalism, unrestricted “free” immigration, “non-discrimination,” “affirmative action” and “openness” to “diversity” and “alternative lifestyles.”

Hoppe asks, regarding the Western elite, “are they all secretly libertarians?”

Of course, they are not.  Which, therefore, leads to one of the only two remaining possibilities: libertarians such as these are either knowingly doing the bidding of those Western elites or they are dolts.  Regardless of which of these is true for each individual leftist, it is undeniably true that it is so-called libertarians such as these that are “acceptable” to the mainstream.

Hoppe paraphrases Rothbard when he writes:

Owing to their patently false, unrealistic assumptions concerning the nature of man, [Rothbard] had pointed out, the very means and measures advocated by left-libertarians for the attainment of libertarian ends were false as well. In fact, given the libertarian end, they were counter-productive and would lead to more rather than less conflict and infringements of private property rights.

You would think that all students who learned at Rothbard’s knee would understand and incorporate this into their thinking the way Hoppe has done; either that, or explicitly challenge Rothbard – demonstrate how destroying culture and tradition is the path toward liberty.  (Don’t hold your breath – it is an argument never coming because it is a laughable argument.)

Real libertarians – in contrast to left-libertarian fakes – must study and take account of real people and real human history in order to design a libertarian strategy of social change, and even the most cursory study in this regard – indeed, little more than common sense – yields results completely opposite from those proposed by libertarian fakes.

I tell you, I am not as blunt or harsh as Hoppe…or maybe I am worse.  I guess it depends on how you read the following: the issue isn’t one of “real libertarians.”  What is lacking is not the “libertarian”; what is lacking is the ability to think critically, to incorporate “real people and real human history” in the study of bringing theory to application.

In other words, what is lacking is thought – it is either this or “libertarians” such as these are working as agents for those bent on your destruction.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Not One Inch Eastward

U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

It turns out the Russians have a reason to be upset about the expansion of NATO.  And this isn’t from some libertarian nut-job (like bionic mosquito) or non-interventionist outfit (like The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity). 

Before getting to some of the evidence, just what is “the National Security Archive at George Washington University”?

Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy, the National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents ("the world's largest nongovernmental collection" according to the Los Angeles Times), leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information, global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets.

The documents provide evidence that assurances were offered by western leaders at the highest level: Bush, Thatcher, Major, and Mitterand are but a few examples.  In other words, a Mt. Rushmore of liars.

Some excerpts:

·        The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.”
·        President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage…of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests…
·        The first concrete assurances by Western leaders on NATO began on January 31, 1990…
·        The U.S. Embassy in Bonn (see Document 1) informed Washington that Genscher made clear “that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’
·        …the crucial February 10, 1990, meeting in Moscow between Kohl and Gorbachev when the West German leader achieved Soviet assent in principle to German unification in NATO, as long as NATO did not expand to the east.
·        The conversations before Kohl’s assurance involved explicit discussion of NATO expansion, the Central and East European countries, and how to convince the Soviets to accept unification.
·        Having met with Genscher on his way into discussions with the Soviets, Baker repeated exactly the Genscher formulation in his meeting with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on February 9, 1990, (see Document 4); and even more importantly, face to face with Gorbachev.
·        Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting.

It gets better (or worse, I suppose) as you go through the article.

The National Security Archive identifies and includes 30 different documents as evidence for this post, for example: 

·        Document 05: Memorandum of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow.
·        Document 12-1: Memorandum of conversation between Vaclav Havel and George Bush in Washington.
·        Document 14: Memorandum of conversation between George Bush and Eduard Shevardnadze in Washington.
·        Document 18: Record of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and James Baker in Moscow.
·        Document 21: Record of conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush. White House, Washington D.C.
·        Document 29: Paul Wolfowitz Memoranda of Conversation with Vaclav Havel and Lubos Dobrovsky in Prague.

This last document is interesting, as it offers a glimpse into one of the real enemies of peace in this world.  From the summary:

Havel informs [Wolfowitz] that Soviet Ambassador Kvitsinsky was in Prague negotiating a bilateral agreement, and the Soviets wanted the agreement to include a provision that Czechoslovakia would not join alliances hostile to the USSR. Wolfowitz advises both Havel and Dobrovsky not to enter into such agreements…

It’s the Ninth Circle for you.

The National Security Archive promises a second part to their analysis; it will cover the Yeltsin discussions with Western leaders about NATO…over vodka, I imagine.


Well, Baker never said anything about two inches eastward.  Anyway, technically these assurances were given to the Soviets, not the Russians.

The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.”

I guess too bad for the Russkies…and too bad for world peace.

“Oh, but it wasn’t a treaty.”

As if a treaty would have stopped the empire.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


At the top of this page are several tabs; I have just updated the following:

Timeline to War (through 1938; beginning 1939)

This timeline offers specific dates / events leading up to World War II (although since I began this series I have gone beyond WWII for certain topics) – with the earliest entry in 1793 and the establishment of the East India Company through the last entry in 1975 with the end of the Vietnam War.

I have gleaned these dates and events from several of the history books that I have read – at this moment, the sources include 15 books; there are also several entries that link to websites.

This post offers my version of revisionist history.  I identify what I was “brought up to believe,” and offer a link to a post that debunks this belief.  Virtually all of the linked posts are bionic mosquito originals, a handful are of outside sources.  As of this moment, I have exploded something close to 100 of my childhood fairytales.

I begin by flushing out the idea of thin-libertarianism and continue to examine the connection of culture, custom, and tradition to a society that respects the non-aggression principle.

My writing on this topic has generated both the most valuable conversation and also the most frustrating conversation.  Certainly this has been my most satisfying intellectual journey (within the universe of this blog) – and it truly has been and remains a journey.  I have come a long way on some of the aspects of this topic; I might not like being reminded of some of my earliest thoughts!

This post identifies a) the books I have read that thereafter b) resulted in one or more blog posts.  Currently I am up to something over 50 books, with anywhere from one to a dozen blog posts on each.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Modern Heresy

The Great Heresies, by Hilaire Belloc

Belloc offers his view of the transitions that occurred in the west after the Reformation and the modern heresy that followed – the heresy that we, in fact, are currently living through.  It will be my last post on this book.

The Transition

In the aftermath of the Reformation, men of Europe would come to regard religion as a secondary thing; at the same time, the dissolution of the Catholic position in Europe would unleash energies that Catholicism restrained – especially in competition and commerce. 

Both Catholic and Protestant cultures advanced in physical sciences and colonization, but the Protestant cultures were more vigorous:

To take one example: in the Protestant culture (save where it was remote and simple) the free peasant, protected by ancient customs, declined.  He died out because the old customs which supported him against the rich were broken up.

The rights (protected by custom) that the peasant previously held in property were lost, leaving such men without substance in difficult times.  I have examined before the position of the serf in the Middle Ages (and, more broadly, the classical liberalism of the time); in many ways, the serf of the time enjoyed more rights in his property and life than do the “free” men of the west today.

But the great, the chief, example of what was happening through the break-up of the old Catholic European unity, was the rise of banking.

Usury was practiced everywhere, but in the Catholic culture it was restricted by law and practiced with difficulty.  In the Protestant culture it became a matter of course.

Belloc identifies the merchants of Holland and England as introducing the practices of “modern banking.” 

I am certainly no expert on the history of modern banking, however I do believe the concepts of fractional-reserve banking and central banks were legitimized and institutionalized in these two Protestant countries (along with Sweden, also a Protestant country).  While I do not want to put words in Belloc’s mouth, it seems possible that when he speaks of “usury” and modern banking, what he means is this idea of charging interest on air.

[In an attempt to gain some understanding of this topic of usury in the traditional Catholic view, I read several examinations online using a search on the terms: usury Catholic tradition.  I found absolute statements against the practice, statements of conditional acceptance, different practices at different times driven by expanding foreign trade, etc.  So…this is why I concluded the last sentence in the preceding paragraph – I just don’t know what else Belloc could have meant given the context in which he makes this statement.]

Confidence was on the Protestant side, and waning on the Catholic.  The Protestant countries had superiority in financial, military and naval power.  This was drastically exaggerated with the establishment of the Protestant America. 

Italy, Spain, and Portugal in decline; England, Germany (led by Prussian Protestants) and America on the rise; France, confused and in constant turmoil after the Revolution.

The Tide Turns

Belloc sees the tide turning against this Protestant wave at around the turn of the last century (“somewhere between 1885 and 1904”; coincidentally – or not – the start of the Progressive era).  Not toward re-establishment of the Catholic Church, but in terms of the breakdown of ideas that gave the Protestant culture its strength.

Protestantism was being strangled at its root, at its spiritual root; therefore the material fruits of that tree were beginning to wither.

Belloc identifies two causes.  The first, perhaps less important, was a certain level of confidence reappearing in at least some nations of Catholic Europe – specifically in the wealthier classes of these nations.  More important was the decline of the Protestant culture from within, “the great internal weakness of the Protestant culture as opposed to the Catholic.”