Sunday, June 30, 2013

Daily Bell Interview: Nelson Hultberg

It is heartening to see a comment equating anarcho-capitalism with the model of the early Middle Ages – while not a perfect example, the Middle Ages were a time of significant decentralization.  Sadly, Mr. Hultberg’s interpretation of the Middle Ages is terribly flawed; unfortunately, these are not the only flaws in Mr. Hultberg’s thinking.

Anarchy, as anarcho-capitalists use the term, does not mean an absence of governance.  There will always governance – by the individual, by the family, by peers, by the community, by the church, and by the market.  This was very much in force during much of the Middle Ages.

Such an anarchic condition does not require a state as we know of it today.  And it does not result in chaos.  To the extent one requires a concrete example, the Middle Ages demonstrate this reality quite effectively – contrary to Mr. Hultberg’s assertions.

NH: The linking of society's moral guardians to the coercive arm of the state during the Middle Ages created enough evil and cruelty that we should be cured forever of such a temptation.

BM: First of all, much of the Middle Ages did not have a “state” as we commonly understand the term today.  Second, to the extent the moral guardians applied coercion: this occurred to any great extent only beginning late in this period, perhaps beginning at the end of the thirteenth century.  At least one author points to the Condemnation of 1277 as the turning point; a separation of reason and faith.

NH: The Anglo-Saxon experiment of "voluntary courts of law, armies, and police" led to a warlord society in which all people were raised to be combatants, everyone lived behind castle walls and moats, women were not able to travel openly on the roads for fear of being attacked, ruthless outlaws roamed the countryside impervious to the "voluntary courts," commerce and trade were minimal and sparse, tribal customs were arbitrary, equal rights were nowhere.

BM: The Middle Ages saw a drastic reduction in slavery, a flowering of intellectual and technological progress, women holding equal status in many occupations, etc.  These should not be so casually dismissed by someone who clearly has not read the history.  And based on this comment, Mr. Hultberg has not read the history.

I find the rest of his statements to embody muddled thinking – the kind that results in the advocacy of the Federal Reserve to inflate at 4% per year.  Mr. Hultberg, like many “conservatives,” points to the founding fathers as the wisest of political men: “we must start with the fruits of their labor.” 

The results of this view have been demonstrated in full force over the last 225 years: the lack of philosophical consistency, which Mr. Hultberg advocates, equals pragmatic compromise.  Mr. Hultberg, it seems, believes his book will explain why the last 225 years didn’t happen.

Beyond this, I will not post further detailed comments here, as I do not want to clog DB’s thread.


The following I did not post at DB:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Democracy: The god That Demands Revenge

1939 – The War That Had Many Fathers,” by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof. 

Schultze-Rhonhof continues with an examination of the factors that a) led to the Great War, b) came due to the Peace Treaty at Versailles.  These factors were key in the run-up to the Second World War.  I will not go through these in detail; it has been well documented elsewhere a) that – unlike the propaganda of the time – Germany and Austria were not the only instigators of the war, and b) Versailles was instrumental in generating a volatile political climate in post-war Germany.

Actions of the British and French especially were instrumental in bringing on the conflict; at the same time, the Kaiser offered proposals that could avoid the coming calamity.  Of course, the Kaiser also took actions – by design or by blunder – that helped to move events toward war.

What I find of interest is the author’s focus on the propaganda used in the democracies to motivate the populations toward war.  In this, he provides a real-world example of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s work, for example from “Democracy: The god That Failed.”  Contrasting monarchical wars with democratic wars:

In contrast, democratic wars tend to be total wars.  In blurring the distinction between the rulers and the ruled, a democratic republic strengthens the identification of the public with a particular state.  …democratic republicanism inevitably leads to nationalism, i.e., the emotional identification of the public with large, anonymous groups of people…. Interstate wars are thus transformed into national wars.  (Page 36-37)

Today, this is readily apparent in the language used by common citizens: “our war,” “our troops,” “we sent them to fight.”  Such language would be foreign to the population under a traditional monarch.

Hoppe, citing Michael Howard:

Once the state ceased to be regarded as ‘property’ of dynastic princes, and became instead the instrument of powerful forces dedicated to such abstract concepts as Liberty, or Nationality, or Revolution, which enabled large numbers of the population to see in that state the embodiment of some absolute Good for which no price was too high, no sacrifice too great to pay; then the “temperate and indecisive contests” of the rococo age appeared as absurd anachronisms. (Page 37)

Further, citing J.F.C. Fuller:

The influence of the spirit of nationality, that is of democracy, on wars was profound… [it] emotionalized war and consequently brutalized it….  National armies fight nations, royal armies fight their like, the first obey a mob – always demented, the second a king – generally sane…. (Page 38n)

How does Hoppe’s work apply?  In order to mobilize an entire nation into war – not just for the objective of gaining volunteers and legitimizing conscription, but also for a complete takeover of the home economy – a frenzy must be created. 

From “Monarchy and War,” by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn – taken from the volume edited by Hoppe, “The Myth of National Defense”:  in a democracy, as recruits are taken from a general population – a population that believes it has some say in its political dealings:

…the people itself has to be indoctrinated, in other words, made to hate the enemy collectively.  For this purpose governments invoke in modern times the support of the mass media, which will inform the people about the evil of the enemy – with little or no regard for the truth.

In World War I, the Western Allies, being more democratic, were also more skilled in organizing collective hatreds. (Page 97)

Further, from the volume edited by Hoppe:  “Is a Democracy More Peaceful than Other Forms of Government?” by Gerard Radnitzky, writing on the toolbox of tricks and deceit of a bellicose president:

Rule #1: First, get control over the media: they are indispensable as means of propaganda.  A democratic president has to sell a “war,” embarking on the mass marketing of the war that he has in mind. (Page 177)

Turning the enemy into something not human, into a population bent on world conquest, via relentless propaganda, is a method first significantly deployed in the west in the run-up to the Great War. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

No More Need for Trials

Aaron Hernandez, now former tight end for the New England Patriots, is charged with murder.  Apparently, the district attorney has presented significant evidence to the judge on this charge – I say “apparently” because I have not been paying close attention.

However, it must be the case, because every mouth on the radio and television – after the obligatory “innocent until proven guilty, after all this is America,” begins to pronounce how guilty Hernandez is. On top of this, many are going hay-wire because several people were chanting “innocent, innocent” when Hernandez was driven away.

Of course, no one is considering that the defense has not made one statement yet on this case, has not had an opportunity to examine evidence, has not presented a case, and has not cross-examined witnesses.  Why bother?  After all, the prosecutor would not prosecute unless he was certain….

I cannot say anything about the facts of the case and charges, but this isn’t my point.  In the office of the president of the United States, it is already settled that there is no need for an open trial – no need for a trial at all.  The president is empowered to kill any human on earth in secret, without formal charges and without a trial.

The talking heads all believe this to be true for Hernandez.

There was a time, in my days of innocence, when I believed it was the job of the prosecutor to reach justice and the job of the defense attorney to provide a vigorous defense.  I now know this not to be true – the evidence is overwhelmingly against this Pollyannaish notion.

Instead of ridiculing those chanting “innocent” as Hernandez is driven away, it would be worth considering the fact that, until he is proven guilty, he is not guilty (and, of course, many proven guilty are also not guilty).

However, what we get is a society becoming accustomed to, if not desirous of, no more need for trials.  It starts with the president….

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Assassination that Began the Century of War

And it isn’t the one that you are thinking of….

1939 – The War That Had Many Fathers,” by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof. 

As mentioned in my first post on this book, the author has been dismissed in Germany regarding his historical views on the beginnings of the Second World War.  From what I read in the preface, I found no reason to dismiss his views – and in any case, one can hold wrong views on certain subjects while providing valuable insights in others.  It is for these hidden gems that I am reading the book.  So, I continue.

I found one of those hidden gems in the first few pages – or is it a wacky assertion from a wrong-headed revisionist?  If his point is valid, it provides a valuable insight – at least to me – into the manipulations by the elite at the turn of the last century and leading to the century of war.

The British – German Rivalry

The author begins by pointing to two mistakes by the German politicians prior to 1914 that led to the Great War:

They fail to extend the German – Russian Mutual Protection Pact, and they give to the economic upswing in Germany a maritime component.

The author sees in the first the opening for Russia to be drawn to France, and in the second a challenge to Britain on the seas.  There is nothing terribly controversial here – many historians, mainstream and revisionist, have pointed to one or both of these factors.

From Britain’s view, Germany – post unification – was becoming the power on the continent with which it should have concern – replacing France.  In various measures, Germany was growing into an economic powerhouse – the production of coal, iron, steel, etc.  In 1887 in London, the “Merchandise Marks Act” was introduced, with the hope to attach stigma to products thereafter labeled “Made in Germany.”

Britain viewed it as good policy to keep a balance of power on the continent, thus freeing its hand elsewhere.  Germany threatened not only that balance, but now could even threaten Britain itself.  Britain’s views changed from seeing France as the primary continental threat to seeing this in in Germany:

On 1 January 1907 a top official of the British Foreign Ministry, Sir Eyre Crowe, drafts “an analysis of British Relations with France and Germany for his King.” … Now and in the future, Crowe concludes, Germany counts as England’s only opponent. (Page 22)

The British will therefore work to isolate Germany in the field of foreign policy, and the author suggests that German blunders provide the opportunity for this.

As mentioned, England previously saw France as its biggest competitor in the colonies; it now reached agreements with France on such matters.  A 1904 treaty would coordinate colonial interests.  In 1911, the British military promises France the support of six army divisions in the event of war with Germany.  And without a proper treaty with Russia, this would one day place Germany in a strong vice.

Germaniam esse delendam to Protect Trade and Transport

Schultze-Rhonhof identifies comments coming out of England and against Germany almost immediately upon the formation of the German Reich in 1871.  For example, he quotes Prime Minister Disraeli in a speech before the Lower House:

“The balance of power has been completely destroyed, and the country which suffers the most from this and feels the effect of this change most strongly, is England.” (Page 33)

Deputy Robert Peel adds that Germany has been united under a military “despotism.” (Page 33)

The author laments: “So Germany – just because unified – has already become a danger, and indeed for all of Europe.” (Page 34)

The press gets in on the act:

The London Saturday Review, an upper class journal, writes on 24 August 1895:

“We English have always waged war against our competitors in trade and transport.  Our main competitor today is no longer France, but Germany…. In a war against Germany we would be in a position to win a lot and to lose nothing.” (Page 34)

On 1 February 1896 the same journal writes:

“If tomorrow every German were eliminated, there would be no British business nor any English enterprise which would not profit (lit “grow”).  If every Englishman were to vanish tomorrow, the Germans would reap gains…. One of the two must quit the field.  Get ready for the fight with Germany, for Germaniam esse delendam.” (Page 34)

Germany must be destroyed….

The Austro-nihilists?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is out with a new column, “The Bernanke Fed is playing with deflationary fire.”

In it, he is concerned that the Fed is playing fast and loose with the tightening:

[The Fed] has chosen to tighten monetary policy even though core PCE inflation is actually lower right now than it was when the Fed previously thought it dangerous enough to launch further QE.

He believes the US is one step away from deflation. He offers several graphs to help make his point.  He laments that this is all at a time of almost unprecedented fiscal tightening.  What on earth is Bernanke thinking?

I hope the Fed knows what it is doing.

They don’t know what they are doing, Ambrose.  They can’t know, and they never know.  You write with such certainty, yet you don’t know either.

The market is made up of billions of individuals making trillions of transactions a day.  These individuals are humans, not machines.  Their values are subjective, not possible to quantify.

Are we to conclude that Ben Bernanke has lost his nerve and joined the Austro-nihilists?

Oh, that is hurtful, Ambrose…and on the heels of another stinging comment in another Ambrose commentary (ht Daily Bell):

Marcus Nunes from the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo said the report “reeks of Austrianism”, referring to the hard-line view of the Austrian School that debt busts lead to `creative destruction’ and should be allowed to run their course.

Austro-nihilists…Austrianism.  I don’t believe they are speaking of anything near Wien. 

Well, at least they are talking about it!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

World War Two, a View from Different Eyes

I have in the past written much about the Second World War, from Pearl Harbor to the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; from Roosevelt’s manipulations to get the US into the war to the forced migrations of millions of Germans and other Europeans after the war.  While much of this was based on work from revisionist historians (even Herbert Hoover!), most of the authors on which my posts were based were from the United States or otherwise affiliated with the victorious side.

I am now beginning to go through another history of the war, this one by a German revisionist historian.  The book is entitled “1939 – The War That Had Many Fathers,” by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof. 

Schultze-Rhonhof was born in Weimar. He entered military service in 1959 a few years after the Bundeswehr was founded. When he retired in 1996, he was Territorial Commander-in-chief in charge of Lower Saxony and Bremen and held the rank of Generalmajor (Major General).

The book is quite controversial, even (or especially) in Germany:

In his book “Der Krieg, der viele Väter hatte” [The War that had many Fathers], he argues that Adolf Hitler had not wanted to risk war right until September 1939. Thus, Schultze-Rhonhof especially blames Poland for the outbreak of World War II as a result the rejection of German willingness of negotiations. Besides, also Great Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union had taken their part in the outbreak of the war because they had driven Poland into the war.

It should be noted that the author does not seem to be introducing a book that exonerates Hitler.  He suggests that the war had many fathers – not just one.  This is certainly an uncontroversial suggestion to anyone with even a moderate understanding of the roots of the war.

From my past reading, it is quite clear that the US, Great Britain, and France did, in fact, push Poland into war and did cause Poland to not negotiate with Hitler and Germany, for example from “Freedom Betrayed,” by Herbert Hoover:

Further American activities were disclosed after the Germans had invaded Poland in September 1939 and seized the Polish Foreign Office records.  The Germans released a mass of documents which certainly indicated that the American Ambassador to France, William C. Bullitt, who could only act on Mr. Roosevelt’s authority, had made a profusion of oral assurances to officials of Poland and France which they could only interpret as a promise of assistance of some kind of force from the United States.

Hoover documents his conversations with US Ambassador to Britain, Joseph Kennedy, during the run-up to the war.  Hoover met with Kennedy in May, 1945.  According to Kennedy:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

How to Stop a Bureaucracy Cold

It seems President Obama has quietly imposed “if you see something, say something” for all departments of the federal government:

Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

Actually, it is more like “if you sense something, say something.”

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments.

The Peace Corps?  What possible national security issues are involved with the Peace Corps?  Just kidding….

[Government documents] show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

Criminal charges for failing to report?  Espionage?  For leaking to the media the latest give-away to the agriculture industry?

So why do I suggest this will be a great aid in stopping the bureaucracy cold?

The program could make it easier for the government to stifle the flow of unclassified and potentially vital information to the public, while creating toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations of loyal Americans, according to these current and former officials and experts. Some non-intelligence agencies already are urging employees to watch their co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

Toxic and poisoned work environments.  Fantastic.  Poison is great at killing – in this case, killing bureaucratic action.

Imagine daily life in the worst of all bureaucracies – the federal government.  Pushing paper every day, having no objective means by which to measure success, no concrete ways to demonstrate individual performance, meetings with other bureaucrats all of whom are doing nothing more than you are – waiting for lunch, waiting for the end of the shift, counting the minutes.  Whether or not you accomplish anything at all in your workday is neither here nor there.  All that is truly required in your position is to exist – and even this requirement is questionable.

What a miserable daily existence.

Your only relief might be to vent over a beer with a co-worker – only someone in the same environment might understand the frustration you feel.  You can laugh about the stupid things your boss did, or the ignorance on full display within the recent memo from some unknown deputy-under-secretary-special-assistant of bureaucratic affairs regarding respecting the diversity training of some national or religious minority you never heard of. 

How about attending a week-long training seminar on how to use the latest departmental computer system?  You know the one – the one that hasn’t been implemented yet, replacing the one that was never fully implemented even after seven years of consultant support.

Now your dumb boss – or beer-drinking co-worker – is required to make a judgment on every statement you make:

Even inside an agency, one manager’s disgruntled employee might become another’s threat to national security.

A disgruntled employee.  I guess such is not allowed in the federal government.  Take the Department of Education, for example:

The Department of Education, meanwhile, informs employees that co-workers going through “certain life experiences . . . might turn a trusted user into an insider threat.” Those experiences, the department says in a computer training manual, include “stress, divorce, financial problems” or “frustrations with co-workers or the organization.”

Frustrations with co-workers or the organization!  This is the subject of after-work conversations everywhere – for many, especially in heavy bureaucracies, such conversation is the only pleasure they receive at all from their daily existence.  Now, for federal employees, venting is the stuff of firing at best, and Guantanamo (or worse) at worst.

A Defense Security Service online pamphlet lists a wide range of “reportable” suspicious behaviors, including working outside of normal duty hours.

Now this actually makes sense as suspicious behavior – why would anyone want to spend one minute longer than necessary in such a hell-hole?

What is left for the poor GS-6 pencil pusher, besides waiting for a bump from step 4 to step 5?  Don’t talk to anyone, don’t look at anyone, don’t have a beer with anyone, don’t visit any web sites, be polite and respectful to your boss and peers all the time, agree with every decision, smile all of the time…except when it is not appropriate to smile, look serious all of the time…except when it is not appropriate to look serious.

“The real danger is that you get a bland common denominator working in the government,” warned Ilana Greenstein, a former CIA case officer who says she quit the agency after being falsely accused of being a security risk.

Inherently, there is already a bland common denominator in heavily bureaucratic organizations.  What we will now get is something worse (or better, depending on your point of view): organizations at a complete standstill.

In any reasonably healthy environment, two things are present: 1) the encouragement of open dialogue, including respect for dissenting opinion, and 2) a tolerance for the venting of frustration.  With the first, creativity is unleashed.  With the second, small frustrations don’t grow to become unmitigated explosions.

The federal government bureaucracies were already woefully short on these.

For any who are looking for a covert reason behind the Snowden affair, here is one – a perfect opportunity to put the fear of the devil into every bureaucrat.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Thank You, Tim Russert!

Today at LRC, the headline article is by Tom DiLorenzo, entitled “Why Neocons Are Freaking Out Over Lincoln.”  It is a worthwhile read; yet one sentence really caught my attention.  This one sentence reminded me of the kind praise I have for Mr. Russert.  From DiLorenzo:

The neocons are still punch drunk, in other words, from how the Ron Paul phenomenon, during the congressman’s two attempts at securing the Republican Party presidential nomination, captured the imaginations of millions of young people and continues to do so.

Many will remember Ron Paul’s visit to “Meet the Press” during his presidential run in 2007.  This was just after the two large money bombs, but before any primaries were held.

Russert’s purpose in this interview was the “gotcha,” throwing out statements and questions that were unquestioned in the mainstream – the various myths that prop up the American religion.  Russert’s task was obvious from his method – make it clear to so-called serious voters that Ron Paul is a flake.

Most memorable was the exchange regarding Lincoln:

MR. RUSSERT:  I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln.  "According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery."

REP. PAUL:  Absolutely.  Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war.  No, he shouldn't have gone, gone to war.  He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic.  I mean, it was the--that iron, iron fist.

MR. RUSSERT:  We'd still have slavery.

REP. PAUL:  Oh, come on, Tim.  Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world.  And the way I'm advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did.  You, you buy the slaves and release them.  How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years?  I mean, the hatred and all that existed.  So every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war.  I mean, that doesn't sound too radical to me.  That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.

I am certain that after the interview, Russert got one big bro hug from his fellow gatekeepers.  They felt certain they had buried the man.  There is no doubt that every effort was taken to do just this, both in 2008 and 2012.  However, instead of burying Dr. Paul, I suggest that what Russert and his cohorts did was to make him eternal.

The video of this interview was viewed hundreds of thousands of times.  My guess is that 1% of these views were by Oligarchic, Loudmouth, Despicable Friends and Acquaintances of Russert, Tim (OLD FARTS).  The remaining 99% of these views were by young people and others who either supported or at least were open to Ron Paul and his message.

What do you think that 99% did?  Probably many of them first said to themselves “the Lincoln that Ron Paul describes isn’t the one that I know.  I wasn’t taught this in school.”  After some reflection, and considering that many of the odd things Ron Paul said certainly held truth when examined, they then thought, “Maybe I will look into this.”

So they did.  They found books by DiLorenzo: “The Real Lincoln” and “Lincoln Unmasked.”  After reading these, they concluded that maybe Ron was onto something, and the Old Farts were lying to them.  “If they are lying about Lincoln, what else are they lying about?”

For many, this interview with Russert likely caused a desire to explore other deceptions and myths behind the American religion.  More from DiLorenzo’s article at LRC:

In his essay on "The Nature of the State" Murray Rothbard pointed out that all states, no matter how tyrannical they may be, rely crucially on inculcating in the minds of the public the alleged grandiosity of the state and the alleged failures of private enterprise and the civil society.

Such propaganda is essential to statism, said Rothbard, because it is essentially an economical way to get the public to acquiesce in being enslaved by the state.

The neocons are becoming unglued and freaked out because they no longer control the culture of ideas among "conservatives"…

I can thank Russert because he certainly helped to contribute to this loss of faith.  Had he not tried his “gotcha” approach with Ron Paul, it is likely that many of the 99% would have never looked into the Lincoln myth, and thus might not have found reason to begin to question the myriad of other myths. 

The myths, as Rothbard suggests, provide economical leverage for those who would control us.  Russert, so caught up in the mainstream, had no idea what he helped to unleash – and leverage, after all, works both ways.

A prerequisite for the final collapse of the Soviet Union was the widespread disbelief in all the lies, myths and superstitions about socialism that the people of the Soviet empire had been brainwashed into accepting.

I am sure the interview was uncomfortable for Dr. Paul, despite the man being more courageous than all other members of political office combined.  Yet, just like the Rudy Giuliani moment, in the most uncomfortable of situations, Dr. Paul likely prompted many people to say to themselves “I will look into that.”

I still look back fondly on that Tim Russert moment.  He certainly helped to bring on the destruction of one of the most valuable myths supporting the American religion.