A few words for Richard M. Weaver

Richard Weaver, as regular readers of these pages know, is one of my favorite authors.  It really is too bad that he does not enjoy a wider awareness, but then again Weaver was entirely too thoughtful gain much popularity.  It’s also a shame that there is a neo-con Richard Weaver who was friendly with the Bush Administration.  Maybe we should have a system of retiring certain names the way sports teams retire jerseys.  

I wanted to see last night if there were some kind of Richard Weaver Society, or something like that.  Nothing turned up, but I did find a really fantastic article on Weaver dating back to 2001 on mises.org.  Read the whole thing.

Not unrelated to Weaver (as you’ll see for yourself once you’ve read the aforementioned piece) is a courageous—and not for the historically faint of heart—blurb on the illogical hatred of the South, written by Paul Gottfried.  I myself used to think of the South as nothing but slave owners and NASCAR drivers, but sooner or later I grew up and realized, in no small part due to Weaver, that there is a great tradition of thinking and culture in the South.  I also had a teacher from North Carolina, and he was one of the most insightful people I’ve ever dealt with.  We used to have conversations about the lies told in public school text books about the civil war.  (For now, we need only say that if Lincoln cared about the slaves, he would have bought them and freed them. Basta.)  At any rate, here it is.

Hat tip to Serge.

Why Freedom?

Sometime during the late 80’s or early 90’s, George H.W. Bush delivered a speech in which he waxed eloquent about what is generally called the fall of communism, the wave of revolution that swept Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War.  In this allocution he said that tyranny fell “not to the force of arms, but to the force of an idea:  Freedom works.”

Freedom works.  This is the line of thinking that has been used by many in the political discourse.  Does freedom work?  Currently we’re in a time when many claim that it has not worked, and thanks both to the verbal jujitsu of the Republican Party and the stupidity of Boobus, this is widely accepted wisdom.  Never mind the fact that what the GOP calls a free economy is riddled with aspects of Fascism.  Our current situation, despite the popular perception, is not proof of the failure of freedom, and we should not feel obligated to give in to the Keynesian orgy presently taking place.  Wherever freedom has been tried, it has worked.  

But we need not belabor the point, for this utilitarian angle is not only useless, it is dangerous.  More on the danger in a bit.

If the “freedom works” argument is irrelevant, what is?  I would argue that the argument for freedom is found in the concept of natural rights—the right of self-determination, the right not to be robbed or shot by anyone, including the State.  From this perspective, it really doesn’t matter if freedom “works.”  The salient point is that freedom—a system of voluntary mutual exchange, one that respects individual rights and private property rights—preserves each man’s natural rights.  Period.  End of story.

Now let us return to this “Freedom works” utilitarian claptrap.  The contemporary Right, and even figures like Ludwig von Mises, have enthroned so many of their arguments on this premise.  Its danger lies not in its untruth; indeed the truth of the matter is not what I intend to dispute.  The problem is that this line of thought presents a beautifully engraved invitation to those who are unfriendly to laissez-faire capitalism:  The minute something goes wrong, they can blame freedom (they usually say “capitalism” to try to make it sound evil, a la Karl Marx) and say that we can no longer tolerate this irresponsible freedom.  

And so it’s time for the real friends of laissez-faire capitalism to stand up and say that this is truly the system that best preserves the rights that belong to us and cannot be taken away.

This is an age-old battle, really, one that started during the Exodus, when the wandering Israelites begged for a return to slavery because it was so much easier than their new-found freedom.  But nothing in life that’s worth a damn is easy, and some things are worth any price.  Freedom—from violence, theft, coercion, and other hobbies of the State—is one of them.

I am now an Apple groupie

Of late, my six-year-old Dell desktop has begun to do some strange things.  Given it’s age, I’ve been functioning on borrowed time for years already, so when the latest round of problems started, I decided it was time to take action.  

Amongst the various options available, I chose to spend a good chunk of change on a MacBook.  I just set it up a matter of minutes ago.  We’ll see how this goes.  Hopefully my new-found mobility in being connected to the matrix, as it were, will not turn me into one of those Americans who reads less that four books a year.  However, I was tired of sitting down in the coffee shop and having a bunch of to-do items cross my mind that could only be done at the computer.  So here I am.

I don’t, as yet, have a wireless router.  I might not bother with one.  The ethernet works just fine at home, and the cable is long enough to reach anywhere in my apartment.  I must confess, however, that I couldn’t resist trying WirelessPhiladelphia.  I didn’t even know it was still around, but there it was when I turned on AirPort.  I could barely get a signal, proving once again that private enterprise does everything so much better than the government.

How’s that for blurting out anarchical thoughts in the midst of otherwise mundane chatter?

The Splendour of Truth from Peter Schiff

Apologies for the toirtoise-like rate of posting lately.  While I’m in the midst of some work, I thought I’d post some interesting things I’ve found of late.

First is Peter Schiff’s very excellent speech at the Austrian Scholars’ Conference this year.  Truth, as many theologians have noted, has a certain splendour to it.  I think in the case of this speech it’s the laughter from the audience when Schiff holds certain Keynesian-esque fantasies in stark relief with plain old common sense.  This is long, but it’s worth every minute.

Secondly, and not unrelated to Schiff’s lecture, is The Collapse of the Dollar.  This is another long but worthwhile presentation.

In addition, I have recently finished reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, a tough book for any capitalist to read but one worth not only our scrutiny but our careful attention.  I will have more thorough comments about this book soon.

One of the things that has had me occupied recently is the preparation of my taxes.  A friend of mine is preparing them and called recently with the tentative figure which I’ll owe the federal government.  Some people think I’m crazy for owing money at the end of the year, but I don’t feel so bad about not having more withheld throught the year.  Look at the people in Kansas.  Many who overpaid their taxes through withholding in 2008 are not getting any money back, because the State of Kansas is broke and is desperate to make money any way they can.  Could there be a more bold admission that taxation is essentially theft?

More mainstream than you think

The other night I was sitting in the bar shooting the breeze with some friends.  Somehow the subject of politics came up with the man to my left.  He started on  a rant that all politicians are laden with selfish interests and that this is why we should never trust any of them.

“And that’s why I refuse to vote for anyone,” he added.

In its own way this is a fine summary of the work of Albert Jay Nock, boiled down to bar talk.  What may perhaps be more interesting is that it seems that there are many who’ve begun to think this way.  They haven’t read Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty, and they don’t call themselves anarchists or even libertarians, but they do seem to regard the government as a herd of buffoons which, in its bumbling fashion, continuously proves that the cynicism of the cynics is, well, not quite so cynical after all, since they’re constantly proven right.

What do these “closet anarchists” (for lack of a precise term) do about all this?  They go about their lives.  There is nothing more devastating to Statist claptrap than a bunch of people who figure that they can do just fine by themselves, without troubling to chose which criminal shall pick their pockets.

And so, my friends, drink up!  Cheers to freedom!