Friday, March 27, 2015

Miscellaneous Debris

I have always wanted to find a way to use the title of this album as the title of a title of a post; well, here it is.  None of the following topics is significant enough to merit an individual post – but I want to clear my mental inbox.

When Life Really Stinks

Perhaps more than any other post, my recent post on the forced famine in Ukraine has really remained with me.  When thinking about people living in impossible situations (picture Iraq or Syria), I try to put myself in the position of a father sending his children off to school, not knowing if they will return safely; of a husband seeing his wife off to market, carrying the same burden of possible finality; of the breadwinner living in a place in which the economy has been destroyed.

The following – taken from the author of the book Bloodlands – has struck me and is what has stuck with me:

First weeks of 1933: with starvation raging through Ukraine, Stalin closed the borders of the republic such that the starving couldn’t flee, and closed the cities such that the starving couldn’t beg.  As of 14 January, citizens were required to carry internal passports.  The sale of long distance tickets to peasants was banned.

No food left to requisition, so none left to eat.  No way to flee.  Nothing left to do but place.

In Soviet Ukraine in early 1933, the communist party activists who collected the grain left a deathly quiet behind them…Ukraine had gone mute.

The stillness: bodies barely able and eventually unable to move…yet alive…for a while longer; the body automatically consuming first its fat, then its muscle; fathers unable to do anything to provide or protect.

The lifelessness: there are no cats or dogs – all have been eaten; the birds have been scared away because to remain meant to be eaten; the livestock and chickens gone long before.

The silence: not a creature was stirring because there were no creatures left to stir; not a human was stirring because there was no energy to move – all energy was diverted to the body automatically consuming itself. 

Or consumed:

People in Ukraine never considered cannibalism to be acceptable.  Even at the height of the famine, villagers were outraged to find cannibals in their midst, so much so that they were spontaneously beaten or even burned to death.

The author wrote of the cannibalization by permission – the mother telling her children to make a meal of her remains after she dies.  He also wrote of the pre-meditated cannibalization – killing the infant in order to eat.

I think about people stuck in such impossible situations.  I always try to put myself into the frame of mind that says I must not make ethical judgments when impossible choices are the only ones offered.  This doesn’t mean condoning, it doesn’t mean to suggest what I might do in their place; it means accepting the impossibility of the situation.

But sometimes getting into this frame of mind is harder than at other times.  I can mentally get there with the first type mentioned; not the second.

Enough of that.

Why do they Hate Customers?

One-hundred percent of the people on earth are customers.  Well, except for those who live totally and completely off the grid and grow or kill everything they eat and make everything they wear from materials they find in nature, etc.  In other words I doubt there are more than three exceptions on the entire planet.  So, just say 100% for rounding.

I recently had some feedback, bashing Wal-Mart – the typical stuff: they aren’t fair to suppliers, they aren’t fair to employees, they are cut-throat with competitors. 

I will caveat my comment: Wal-Mart, like every major corporation, probably gains much more from corporatocracy (the relationship between large companies and the government) than it loses.  But this rambling isn’t about that.

It also isn’t about the employees, suppliers or competitors.  The employees and suppliers are not forced to work at Wal-Mart.  Full stop.  As to the competitors, they have no property right in customers.

Which gets to my point.  Add up all of Wal-Mart’s employees, suppliers and competitors – they have 1.3 million employees in the US, I have no idea how many employees of suppliers or competitors but let’s say all of it adds to 10 million people.  Out of a population of over 300 million customers.  Yes, I know, not all 300 million of them shop at Wal-Mart; however Wal-Mart directly has impacted the competitive nature of every other retailer.

Virtually every individual in the United States benefits from Wal-Mart.  Even if one grants that 10 million people suffer because of Wal-Mart (I do not), why are so many people desirous to take it out of the hide of the three hundred million who benefit?

There is no better democracy than the vote of the customers’ dollar.  There is no better freedom than the vote of the customers’ dollar.

So, I wonder: why do they hate customers?  I think it must be because they hate freedom.

The Apple, the Tree, and Voices for Liberty

I write very little anymore about Rand Paul – this has been true for quite some time (in the last twelve months, I find exactly two posts labeled with his name…well, now three).  This doesn’t mean I don’t pay some attention to what he is doing, it just means I don’t view him as much more than another politician – with my interest these days solely due to my deep respect for what his father has accomplished.

I never found him to be a worthy successor to the work his father has done.  My first post was prompted by Rand’s decision to endorse Romney – he could have been a contender, meaning there was a calling waiting for him to take up; instead, he chose another path – the path of least resistance that will result in the least benefit to freedom.

Sometime later, I suggested he could be the next Reagan – obviously not because of his speaking ability.  Despite his shortcomings on principle (relatively minor at the time – compared to today), his was the best voice to place on the stage in front of the masses to lead the country out of the mess left by his democratic and very liberal predecessor.

I have been somewhat sympathetic to the Walter Block view that – whatever his shortcomings – Rand will be at least slightly less the warmonger than anyone he will face in the Republican (and likely general) elections….just as I am certain that had McCain or Romney or Hillary been president instead of Obama, the US would have done even more damage globally.

All of this is background for the latest: Rand has recently joined 46 other senators in an effort to scuttle any negotiation with Iran.  He wants to increase defense spending significantly.  In other words, he has gone full and complete neo-con – not even pretending be concerned about his father’s base anymore (yet I know many will remain fooled).

I can’t say that I lost faith long ago, as I never had faith.  However, I think Rand has completely fumbled away the natural advantage he had – the one I anticipated when I wrote that he could be the next Reagan.  He has almost completely wiped away any USP he had at one time.  Now, he cannot be differentiated from any of his peers.

The good news?  It is nice to see Justin Raimondo finally giving up – a few years too late, but it seems he has finally seen the light.

Raimondo went much farther than Block…at least as I recall.  Block could hold his nose in support.  Raimondo was using both arms for a bear hug.

I have such high regard for Raimondo’s work regarding war and empire.  I hope his awakening sticks – fooling the innocent is not something any anti-war or libertarian thought-leader should engage in.

Only Force Brings About Order

It seems the idea of governance absent (or even outside of) the monopoly force of government is impossible for some to comprehend.  I do not mean that they do not embrace anarchy – the fear of children living without parents (metaphorically) can be overwhelming.  I mean that they cannot even conceive of any governance possible or available outside of that brought on by government.

Again, this tidbit is prompted by feedback to one of my posts: is it so difficult to accept that the market brings governance?  Do what you say, when you say you will have it done, for the price you commit; those who are most efficient transforming resources into desired products are rewarded, those least efficient are punished.

Considering we all have to work to eat (imagine the beneficial effect on governance if this simple statement was properly put into practice), meeting the demands of customers (or employers) in an efficient manner is a sure-fire way to achieve a significant measure of governance. 

Of course, there is more – family, church, neighborhood, culture, etc.  All provide governance without government.

Again, how far one takes this is secondary to my point: you don’t want to ride the train all the way to the anarchy station?  Jump off at the stop called minarchy (actually there is no such stop, as there is no such place; the train just slows down for several miles so you jump off wherever you like, as the term cannot be defined objectively).

But, is it so difficult to see that we live in a world with many forms of effective governance that are not government? 

Speaking of the Train to Anarchy

Why is it so difficult for milquetoast / left / bleeding heart / Cato / pseudo-libertarians to at least mention in their writing something about the ultimate objective somewhere during their pounding the table for interim steps or inserting all of their “shoulds” into libertarian theory? 

Just say it: the removal of the initiation of aggression in all its forms from the law of the land is the objective.  Go ahead and prescribe whatever interim measures you want – your personal jumping-off point in the several mile non-train-station of minarchy.  Just mention that the train can and should continue? 

Is that so hard?

This isn’t a question of the perfect getting in the way of the good.  As has been well-noted by Rothbard (the name that shan’t be mentioned), slavery wasn’t abolished by not talking about abolishing slavery.  How can you ever hope to hit the target if you aren’t aiming for it?  At least mention the target, will you?

It is simple, and won’t take more than one or two sentences in your posts; mention the abolition of the initiation of aggression as the ultimate objective. 

That you don’t do it suggests that we are not on the same train, as we are not even going in the same direction.  Enjoy your ride to being controlled by another – we part ways here.

Austrian Pissing Match

One of the regular intellectual tussles in Austrian circles regards money and credit and between the idea of free banking and 100% reserve banking.  Such was the case recently between Selgin and Salerno.

Why can’t we all just get along?  What is so hard about saying let’s leave money and credit and banking to the market, subject to nothing more than the agreement between the contracting parties?  Because anything else requires the initiation of force.  And the initiation of force – certainly frowned upon by libertarians – I suspect is also not very consistent with Austrian economic thinking.

So no more “I am for free banking backed by 100% gold”; or “let’s work on the second best option – helping central banks become more efficient…but I really like free banking, trust me.”

Just a simple statement: leave money and credit to the market.  No legal tender, no government backing, no conditional free banking, no using free banking as a shield to offer policy prescriptions.  No conditions beyond contract.

Just a free market in money and credit.  Develop this concept; advocate for this.  It would be sufficient.

Where’s Norbert

I have had many good dialogues with individuals presumably from or otherwise sympathetic to life in Eastern Europe.  I have learned so much from these conversations. 

Often they get bothered by writers who complain about US imperialism without condemning all other aggressions.  A regular recent example is regarding Ukraine – where saying something bad about the US is automatically saying something good about Russia.  I am stretching this criticism a bit, but not much.

One of the individuals with whom I have enjoyed (and gained much from) such dialogue is Norbert Szolnoky.  He commented regarding my recent Daniel McAdams post – along the lines noted above.  I offered a very thorough reply, yet have heard nothing back.

Norbert, let’s talk.

It’s the Jooz!

Write something about the evils of twentieth (or twenty-first) century history and don’t blame it on the Jews, and watch out.  Not that I have been bombarded, but once in a while I get a comment about my timidity in failing to point out that the Jews did it, the Jews are in control, it’s all Jews all the time, etc.

Which Jews?  There are, what, 13 – 14 million Jews on earth?  Are they all in on it?  All controlling the other 7 billion?

To my knowledge, none of the following were / are Jews: Stalin, FDR, Mao, Hirohito, Mussolini, Churchill, Hitler, Pol Pot, Truman, LBJ, Bush (either one) Clinton, Obama.

I can accept the shorthand of “the state.”  If you want to blame the murder of 200 million in the last hundred years on any “group,” it is clear that the group in question is the state.  I suspect most employees and advisors of most of the above “states” (as represented by the governmental leaders in the list) were not Jews.  Most if the individuals who did the deeds – the boots on the ground – were not Jews.  Many of the most vocal supporters of these criminals were not Jews.

“But,” you protest, “they are controlled by the Jews.”  “The Jews control the media; the Jews control the press; the Jews have the money.”

Individuals act – or not.  They don’t have to be puppets if they don’t want to be.  They don’t have to swallow the swill offered – “Just say no.”  There are plenty of billionaires that aren’t Jews.

Was Stalin a puppet of the Jews?  Mao?  If not for the Jews, both men would have been Gandhi?  I would fall out of my chair laughing, except that between the two of them they killed about 100 million.  Did I miss Hitler dancing to the tune of Hava Nagila?  No comment.

Now, someone will scream – “so you’re saying the Jews had nothing to do with it?”

I will ask, which Jews, when, what?  I know for a fact that there were numerous individuals who were nominally Jewish within the power structures of many of the above-mentioned tyrants.  I know for a fact that there were infinitely more non-Jews in those same power structures.

I know for a fact that millions of Jews were killed by several of the above-mentioned tyrants.  Did they voluntarily die for the cause?  Did these Jews “do it”?

Individuals act.  If you need a label, label the state.  Focus your blind rage on this real enemy.


  1. Ooooh; I get mentioned in your second post :-)
    I am here - quite busy but reading your posts silently. Plus enjoying a few days off after finishing teaching this school year on Tuesday (school year in Japan goes from April thru March).

    I have not much to reply to your previous comment to mine. I've read your "Redux" post linked and I understand the sentiment that being in the US you and others there are more concerned about bringing down the US Empire and that's plenty to focus on. Plus it benefits the whole world anyway. I get that, and I accept that. But it still pains me that many US libertarians put destroying the US Empire above a consistent condemnation of aggression regardless of the perpetrator (and of course Ukraine is the case in point now). Not you, others. Many are really blinded by their US gov't hatred so much that they can't see other aggressions and feel for their victims. And that is the basic beef many Central/East European libertarians have. Ironically there's a little comment war going on right now on a post by Stephan Kinsella on his Facebook page just about this. He proposed a debate moderated by him between some US libertarians and East European libertarians about the Ukraine situation. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of it.

    But I really appreciate your work, especially a post like this when you show your caring side and talk about the Ukraine Holomodor with deep empathy. I am not Ukrainian but all East Europeans went through similar sufferings under communism and it's deeply seared into our memories. And we see a resurgent Russia Empire returning to its old ways. Many US libertarians dismiss this as delusion but a lot of respected and well-established Russian immigrant scholars are saying this as well, not just "Russophobe East Europeans".

    Believe me; there are many Europeans who really wished Russia had emerged as a true libertarian counterpoint to the deteriorating US and Russia had a golden opportunity esp after 9/11 when Putin still didn't go bunkers yet, had instituted some reforms, their economy was going well, etc. But Putin really blew it and changed into an ideologue strongman plunging Russia back to darkness again. How beautiful it could have been... The dream that never was... Now anyone seeing Russia as a counterpoint to US imperialism is an idiot, I am sorry.

    Anyway; we have different destinies, different areas of responsibilities in building the ideal world. I will focus on mine, you will surely focus on yours. I just hope that we cross paths many times and say hello to each other with some encouraging pats on the back... :-)

    1. Norbert, thank you for the detailed reply.

      As I have mentioned previously (maybe not to you, but at some point in my writing on this topic), my view is a pox on them all. I will suggest that this is the view of several, but perhaps not all, who are lumped in to this criticism of libertarian statements: "US bad, Putin good." I will also suggest that not all who are lumped into this criticism are libertarian - perhaps not very relevant as libertarian sites often pick up their work.

      I will encourage you to read with this in mind - while condemning actions of the USG, are they praising Russia or relatively silent (if not condemning)?

      Beyond this, I will ask - why is it left to Americans to write about the aggressions in other countries perpetrated by non-American politicians? And I ask this keeping in mind the distinction I made above.

      I hope you take my query in a constructive manner - I have proposed such a thing to others with this similar complaint, and they had various reasons why they could not. But then why complain? Starting a blog is easy.

    2. I agree that it's not the job of American libertarians to be the torchbearers for European liberties. All I ask is to be consistently true to liberty and non-aggression, and condemn aggression universally for all, if the opportunity for comments arise.

      And yes, we Europeans should lead the movement for liberty in our own lands. There are actually many such people and their voices are getting stronger so I have hope. I, for one, am translating a book into Hungarian as a first step then upon completing it will start a video and audio series on the topics in the book. I am better at talking than writing ;-)

  2. Poor Ukraine. Not particularly germane, but I’m reminded that good fortune and trajedy are sometimes indistinguishable. Perhaps 125 years ago just outside Odessa a Jewish family was murdered by marauding Cossacks save for two children hidden in a secret cellar under the burned home. The children were found and raised by neighboring Germans who had fled the brutal wars of the Palatine region of France/Germany. The rescued boy, not being eligible under prima genitor for an Ukrainian inheritance, left to homestead in North Dakota thereby avoiding the subsequent unpleasantness of Stalin and Hitler suffered by the more fortunate.
    I see no point in explaining to my wife the good fortune she enjoys as a result of her great grandfather’s tragedies and immigration.


    1. It is a story common to almost every diaspora born of catastrophe. It is a silver lining not to be taken lightly, but a burden to be carried given the deaths left behind.

  3. "Just a simple statement: leave money and credit to the market. "
    Those who "sell" their solutions are marketing an opinion more than advancing a theory towards truth, I think. Fine line economics.

    I always say that we operate in a bubble of intellectual thought, regardless of the socio-economic paradigm. Those who "can't" see how voluntary interactions provide economic benefit, perhaps, are those most keen on the use of institutional force to meet their ends. They do not want to compete because they probably believe that they can not compete. Maybe they are right. Either way, they will not be sympathetic towards finding the truth of nature. I believe this is central to a Hobbesian paradigm for the need for force.

    Back to the "simple statement": it is simple statements which, I believe, humans are meant to construct the paradigm of a meaningful life. If, for intellectual stimulation or remuneration, advancing a theory by rhetoric despite a free market being the only real (natural?) test, then I guess as consumers we should just take it as the large grain of salt that it is.

    If discussion can be achieved, it may even be worth it for the reasons state above. If not, it seems, more and more, to be a seriously diminishing return on what should be considered one's precious time. If somebody is not advancing something new, or having an honest debate about it, then I've got chores to do.

    Individuals act. The mind of man can not be known. Consciousness continues to elude empiricism. A model for the universe is not forthcoming. Civilizations rise and fall.

    Lately, I've been reading that our celestial rotation in a binary star system may have a more impact and endurance on the course of civilization. Interesting thoughts abound.

  4. You do not have a complete understanding of how Walmart works, unless you are in favor of fascism.

    1. Maybe you missed my comment on this point, in the above post: "I will caveat my comment: Wal-Mart, like every major corporation, probably gains much more from corporatocracy (the relationship between large companies and the government) than it loses."

      Do you require an explanation?

    2. You really don't understand or see the financial and economic devastation that your beloved Walmart has wrecked upon the families in your country. You have to go to a country like Argentina to understand the freedom and luxury that families have when there is a world of no Walmarts, Home Depots, Costco's (I am partially inclined to Costco). It's just not all about low prices.

  5. Well, of course not all Jews are terrible folks. Rothbard, Mises, and Block killed no one. The vast majority are decent, reasonable folks. And, no doubt, there are many complicit evil Gentiles who work hand-in-hand with evil Jews.

    But, the religion espoused in the Talmud is a strange one, and bears only passing resemblance to that in the Old Testament, much less that in the New Testament. I recommend Schafer's 'Jesus in the Talmud' and Pranaitis' 'The Talmud Unmasked.'

    "...I know for a fact that millions of Jews were killed by several of the above-mentioned tyrants..." I used to think that. I read 'Hitler's Willing Executioners' and 'They Thought They Were Free.' Then, I read 'The Hoax of the 20th Century,' 'The Leuchter Report,' 'The Rudolf Report,' 'Controversy of Zion,' and 'Nuremberg: The Last Battle,' and changed my mind.

    Lastly, for lovely mealtime reading (ha, ha), I am reading Toaff's 'The Blood Passover: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murder.' Toaff is the son of a rabbi. Toaff is highly learned, and examines original Italian documents from the Middle Ages in the Simon of Trent murder. Fascinating ebook. I thought this stuff was all slander, but think otherwise now.

    1. “Schafer's 'Jesus in the Talmud' and Pranaitis' 'The Talmud Unmasked.'”

      Some Jews believe some crazy things; some Jews said mean things about Jesus. At this point in my journey, these topics do not interest me – this might change in the future.

      “"...I know for a fact that millions of Jews were killed by several of the above-mentioned tyrants..." I used to think that.”

      Over 100 million people were murdered in the wars, famine, etc., of Europe and the Soviet Union – are you saying that amongst these, there were not some millions that were Jews? Somehow, miraculously, the Jews were spared this carnage occurring all around and amongst them?

      “Then, I read 'The Hoax of the 20th Century,'”

      What does the topic of this book have to do with the point I made in my statement?

      “The Blood Passover: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murder”

      Some Jews have done mean things to Christians. Of this I have no doubt; I don’t need to read this book, as I seem to recall what happened to the first Christian Man – the one who rode into Jerusalem on a camel. There have been other instances since.

      What does this prove – Jews are human, too? Do Jews have a monopoly on committing atrocities?

  6. Many 'Conservative' Americans are useful idiots -- e.g., enlisting in the Army (I served in the Navy) -- because they believe the talking points promulgated by Faux News.

    Many Jews are useful idiots -- e.g., decrying examination of our policies WRT Israel and the U.S.S. Liberty, denying the examination of the NeoCon (and Air Force) role in 9/11, etc. -- because they believe that six million of them died in The Holocaust.

    It is useful to examine core beliefs, because many of them are used to enslave us, whether Jew or Gentile. That is the worth of 'The Hoax of the 20th Century': if one can see that The Holocaust is a lie, it enables one to examine many other shibboleths. With that, Jews and Gentiles alike can come to understand that we are being manipulated by dark forces, some of this world, some not.

    Please point to me where, outside of the Holocaust, it is alleged that millions of Jews were killed in the 20th century. As I understand it, Jews were not significant farmers in the Ukraine during the Great Famine.

    Jews do not have a monopoly on committing atrocities. But, they seem to have a disproportionately large role in ugly groups that do direct atrocities, such as the NeoCons and Bolsheviks (and even Mao's Communists) .

    I think Jews are enslaved by dark forces that have disfigured their true history. Because of their high intelligence, wealth, and important positions in academia, medicine, media, etc., they are very useful pawns (more like knights and rooks, really; the poor white guys from West Virginia and Texas are the useful pawns). TPTB work very hard to keep them -- and Gentiles -- enslaved.

    That is how I see things.

    1. “Please point to me where, outside of the Holocaust, it is alleged that millions of Jews were killed in the 20th century.”

      I will allege it – refute me with either facts or logic: I don’t need the holocaust to conclude that Jews died during the war – given where they lived, given the number of total dead of all nationalities where they lived. Jews were most heavily concentrated in the countries that were most heavily devastated by the European wars of the last century.

      There was something in the neighborhood of 9 – 10 million Jews in Europe at the time. There was over one million in Austria, over half a million in Germany, almost 900,000 in Hungary, well over a million in Poland, and almost 4 million throughout the Soviet states. All of these turned into lands of death: bloodlands.

      In these states – the states that suffered the worst of the death in the wars – depending on the country, Jews made up anywhere from 1% to 16% of the total population; this in lands that suffered a large portion of 100 million deaths.

      Are you suggesting NO Jews died in Europe during the war? I hope not, otherwise we are wasting each other’s time. If not, then this is merely a debate about how many. I am willing to bet that at least one of the authors you cite concedes that Jews died in large numbers during the war – albeit, being holocaust deniers, for reasons other than the gas chambers.

      “As I understand it, Jews were not significant farmers in the Ukraine during the Great Famine.”

      The famine was cause for only a minor portion of the deaths for the period in question. Why do you ignore the elephant in the room – people die in war; bombs and bullets don’t discriminate?

      Jews lived in Central and Eastern Europe; people died by the multi-tens of millions in these regions. Jews died in the war – and I bet the number is something well over one million, and for all I know, might be six million. Unless you have facts that say otherwise or can build a logical case for how they dodged the bullets and bombs, I will rely on my construct.

      Or are you saying no Jews lived in Europe? That would be a good one.

  7. Well, of course I am not suggesting no Jews died during WWII, friend. The Red Cross says that 50K+ Jews died in the German work camps (, 271K total died, of which Jews were only a part) . Of course, a large number of Jews died in the Warsaw uprising, etc. Of course, remnant Jews probably died in the firebombings of Dresden. But, I have not seen any tally of Jewish deaths during WWII outside of the Holocaust.

    Your logic, that they probably died in large numbers because they comprised a large portion of the population of Eastern European countries, is reasonable, though debatable. The Jews were transported en masse (though not entirely) from Germany and Eastern European countries to the work camps. They either survived in the work camps (as 'The Hoax of the 20th Century' shows) or were murdered in them. The work camps were not bombed by the Allies. So, it is not iron-clad that Eastern European Jews died en masse in situ in Hungary, Poland, etc., as you posit.

    Me, I just want the truth about the Holocaust out because I want the big, powerful guns on the side of truth. It is heartening that bright minds like you, Gary North, and others bring truth out on a wide range of subjects. But, I want the knights, bishops, and rooks -- Murdoch, Sulzberger, Spielberg, Dimon, Blankfein, Fischer, Kissinger -- who currently play for black to switch sides and play for white. The shock of truth may do that.

    1. John, thank you for the dialogue. I will say, I have not read in any detail alternative histories of the holocaust. I only wanted to clarify, through our dialogue, that Jews also died in large numbers during this time and place - and this, only in the context of those who scream "It's the Jooz, it's the Jooz" as the explanation for every calamity.