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Journey into a Libertarian Future: Part IV – The Journey into a Libertarian Past

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By Andrew Dittmer, who recently finished his PhD in mathematics at Harvard and is currently continuing work on his thesis topic. He also taught mathematics at a local elementary school. Andrew enjoys explaining the recent history of the financial sector to a popular audience.

Simulposted at The Distributist Review

This is the fourth installment of a six-part interview. For the previous parts, see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Red indicates exact quotes from Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s 2001 book “Democracy: The God That Failed.”

ANDREW: The GLOs in your future libertarian society will be continuations of GLOs that exist now – basically large corporations and high net worth individuals. And the modern GLOs are continuations of GLOs that existed in the past.

CODE NAME CAIN: True – GLOs have a long and proud history.

ANDREW: In our society and in the past, both GLOs and regular governments have certain legal rights.

CNC: That’s right. But the legal rights of the governments are all completely illegitimate, whereas the legal rights of GLOs are all completely legitimate. That’s why I act morally when I hide my assets from the U.S. government.

ANDREW: How did it come to happen that the GLOs split into two kinds – the good non-government kind and the bad government kind?

CNC: As the libertarian Robert Nozick says, “Whatever arises from a just situation by just steps is itself just.” When rights were first created, the non-government GLOs legitimately claimed them. Since then, they’ve handed them down to their heirs and traded them among themselves. All of these transactions were strictly voluntary, and so all of the rights of modern GLOs are legitimate. On the other hand, governments seized all of their rights unjustly, and nothing that has happened since can transform their illegitimate rights into legitimate ones.

ANDREW: Maybe you should tell us the whole story.

CNC: Prepare to be surprised – mainstream sources have mutilated this history almost beyond recognition.

A long time ago, everybody lived in a state of liberty. Now, in any society that is not entirely primitive, a few men acquire elite status. Owing to superior achievements of wealth, wisdom, [or] bravery… some individuals come to possess “natural authority,” and their opinions and judgments enjoy widespread respect. Moreover, because of selective mating and marriage and the laws of civil and genetic inheritance, positions of natural authority are more likely than not passed on within a few noble families.

…. it is these very leaders of the natural elite who typically act as judges and peacemakers, often free of charge, out of a sense of obligation required and expected of a person of authority or even out of a principled concern for civil justice, as a privately produced “public” good. [71]

ANDREW: So the first security GLOs were noblemen, and they got their power because other people recognized their superior leadership qualities. These nobles were basically like little governments, except better because they were non-coercive and respected natural rights.

CNC: Exactly. The great philosopher John Locke understood this principle well. Some bonehead living in Locke’s time had said that governments had much more authority than GLOs… because they sometimes led men into battle. Locke retorted,

A Planter in the West Indies has more [than three hundred slaves in his household], and might, if he pleased… Muster them up and lead them out against the Indians, to seek Reparation upon any Injury received from them, and all this without [being] a Monarch…

In other words, GLOs, such as planters in the West Indies, had the same rights that governments did as far as war-making was concerned.

ANDREW: This is the first time you’ve mentioned governments, as opposed to non-government security GLOs. How do governments enter the picture?

CNC: In big cities, there end up being many different and independent security GLOs, all exercising their authority in complete harmony. For a government to arise it is necessary that one of these judges, arbitrators, or enforcement agencies succeed in establishing himself as a monopolist. [177] How is this possible? Why would other security GLOs ever allow one organization to obtain a monopoly and to usurp their own rightful powers?

Clearly the only way that this can happen is for one of the security GLOs to promise to be more than an impartial judge in matters relating to one’s own race, tribe, or clan [178]. You see, in the state of nature a security GLO would treat all of its clients fairly, applying a uniform standard of justice. Governments come about when one security GLO pledges to enforce the law in a way that unfairly favors its own race or tribe – this unethical scheme allows such a GLO to seize power over its rivals. If racism stops being effective, the next resort of the rogue GLO is typically an appeal to the universal… feeling of envy and egalitarianism, i.e. to social class (the untouchables or the slaves versus the masters, the workers versus the capitalists, the poor versus the rich, etc.) [180].

ANDREW: Noblemen and masters were obeyed because their serfs and slaves recognized that some people were naturally superior to others – but then some GLOs came in and started messing everything up by appealing to racism and jealousy. These “rogue GLOs” are where governments come from.

CNC: That’s right. Now let me tell you about the history of territory GLOs. This part of the story is even more important – you see, libertarianism… is a systematic law code, derived by means of logical deduction from a single principle, the validity of which… cannot be disputed without falling prey to… contradictions…. This axiom is the ancient principle of original appropriation [200].

Now what does “original appropriation” mean? It means that you find something that no one else owns and you claim it. Whenever you claim rights in this way, it makes some people better off and no one worse off.

ANDREW: It does?

CNC: Well, it obviously makes you better off. At the same time, [your] action does not make anyone else worse off… Others could have appropriated those resources, too, if they had considered them valuable. Yet they… did not do so. Indeed, their failure to appropriate them demonstrates their preference for not appropriating them. Thus, they cannot possibly be said to have lost any utility as a result of [the] appropriation. [122]

ANDREW: Let me see if I understand the idea. Suppose that I find the only oasis in a desert and claim it as mine. Suppose some refugees flee into the desert and want to drink at my oasis. Can I threaten to gun them down if they come too close, unless they agree to become my effective slaves in a rights-respecting manner?

CNC: Of course – it’s your oasis.

ANDREW: Can you give me some real historical examples of how GLOs have justly appropriated rights?

CNC: [T]he English settlers [in] North America… demonstrated how… private property originated naturally through a person’s original appropriation… of previously unused land (wilderness). [267]

ANDREW: North America was uninhabited when the English settlers got there?

CNC: Opponents of libertarianism love saying “What about the Indians?” They get excited at the thought that libertarians will be forced to defend the property rights of dispossessed native peoples, which a lot of libertarians would rather not do. What they don’t realize is that John Locke solved this problem three hundred years ago. Locke explained that

…the Benefit Mankind receives from [an acre of land in England], is worth 5 [pounds], [whereas the benefit from an acre of land in America] possibly not worth a Penny, if all the Profit an Indian received from it were to be valued, and sold here; at least, I may truly say, not 1/1000. ‘Tis Labour then which puts the greatest part of Value upon Land, without which it would scarcely be worth any thing…

ANDREW: Wait. Did Locke just start to suggest that since the Indians did not do efficient agriculture, they did not really own the land?

CNC: Exactly. To properly claim land, you have to do real economic work on the land, and the Indians did not do that because they were too primitive. So Locke proved that that the Indians did not own the land. That meant the settlers could treat the land as if it was unclaimed.

ANDREW: Are you sure that’s what Locke meant? Locke is famous for defending liberty and natural rights.

CNC: Why are you surprised? In this example, Locke defended the liberty of settlers to claim unused land, and their natural right to keep that land once they had claimed it. And yes, I’m sure that’s what Locke meant – go read his second Treatise on Government.

ANDREW: Were the original territory GLOs in Europe also security GLOs?

CNC: Well, you can get wealthy by claiming unused land, and security GLOs were typically wealthy noblemen with long-established records of superior achievement, far-sightedness, and exemplary personal conduct [71]. So there was probably a lot of overlap.

ANDREW: Didn’t a lot of people in Europe get land because their king or queen liked them and granted them land as a gift?

CNC: Well, you have to remember that the king or queen, being a government, did not own the land legitimately. Land can only be justly claimed by individuals or corporations, and so all “public” property is… the result of some form of expropriation [135].

ANDREW: So if you could prove that part of a particular organization’s wealth came from inheriting a royal land grant, would that wealth be illegitimate? Would you consider yourself justified in claiming that wealth as unowned, provided that no one could stop you?

CNC: Interesting question… But you see, sometimes we have to accept that bad things happened a long time ago, and it would be too confusing to try to correct the injustice. Sometimes you have to let bygones be bygones.

ANDREW: So governments that were established a long time ago might have rights that we have to respect, because it would be too confusing to correct the injustice?

CNC: No. The injustice done to GLOs by forcing them to accept man-made laws (“regulations”) and to pay taxes must never be forgotten. Every day that governments usurp rights, the debt owed to GLOs grows. The voice of that debt cries out from the ground for redress, and it will be heard.

ANDREW: I’m not sure why this question just popped into my mind – why did you choose “Cain” as your code name?

CNC: The fact that you have to ask that question shows that you have been misled by the conventional description of Cain as a thoughtless psychopath. That view is a caricature, spread by religious intellectuals subservient to modern democracies. A more measured appraisal of Cain leads to the conclusion that he was, in reality, a hero.

ANDREW: Maybe you’d like to explain further?

CNC: In the Cain and Abel story, Cain is a farmer, whereas Abel is a nomadic shepherd. Cain is therefore a representative of civilization and economic progress, while Abel represents a more primitive and superstitious form of society.

Cain and Abel go to make sacrifices to God. According to extra-biblical sources, Cain comes up with an idea for making the sacrifice process more efficient – instead of sacrificing productive agricultural goods, he will burn thorns and cow dung. The resulting fire and smoke will be just as impressive, and Cain will be able to preserve useful resources. Everyone will be better off.

Abel gets angry and says that God will not be pleased. That was obviously a coded threat to go tell their father Adam (the government) and to get Cain in trouble. If Cain hadn’t done something, his goods would soon have been confiscated for the sacrifice by governmental authority, i.e. coercion. Cain was forced to take action to protect his property.

ANDREW: So you see Cain as as the first strong defender of private property?

CNC: And as the original inventor of the concept of a Pareto improvement. But he paid a heavy price for his integrity – instead of recognizing that Cain had acted justly, his family kicked him out, destroyed his reputation, and forced him to live life as a trader, moving from place to place.

Maybe you can see now why I am proud to take “Cain” as my code name.

In part 5 of this interview, Code Name Cain argues that libertarians who favor a minimal government are deluded. CNC then goes on to explain how the inherent flaws of government compel honorable men to make what are sometimes difficult choices.

Notes:

Whatever arises from a just situation by just steps is also just.  Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia, p. 151.

A Planter in the West Indies… John Locke, Two Treatises on Government, First Treatise, section 130.

Suppose that I find the only oasis in the desert and claim it as mine. This example is due to the libertarian Israel Kirzner, ‘Entrepreneurship, Entitlement, and Economic Justice,’ pp. 405-406 (cited by Widerquist, ibid.).

The Benefite Mankind receives from [an acre of land in England]… John Locke, Second Treatise, section 43.

According to extra-biblical sources… e.g., the Cornish “Creation of the World” by William Jordan, known from a 1611 manuscript.  cf. also the Middle English Chester cycle, II, 537-540:  “Hit weare pittye… those fayre eares for to brenne… thou of hit gett ought.”

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140 comments

      1. El Guapo

        This isn’t a caricature. This what libertarian fuckwits actually believe.
        These posts have been great. Undistilled insight into how the minds of these psychos operate. They are the fascists of our time.

        1. traderjoe

          It is a caricature. A fictional writing that obviously appeals to your confirmational bias. A libertarian strawman is set up to be mocked, and held out to be, well, an idiot. And this somehow proves that all libertarians are your idiots.

          Somehow I get the sense that libertarianism is confused with neoliberalism on this site.

          1. traderjoe

            Sorry, I didn’t see anything in your link that proved your “It’s true because I think it is” line of thought.

            From the article above: “true – the GLO’s have a long and proud history.”

            That’s simply an absurd comment, and I can’t imagine anyone really thinking that, libertarian or otherwise.

          2. Valissa

            Yup, it seems to me that many liberals are having a great time with this Libertarian punching game (a variation on hippie punching).

            6 parts of this so-called satire of a movement that doesn’t have any real power, except in some people’s minds? I’ve gone from reading the posts, to skimming the posts to being bored by them. I can’t even muster the energy to post more cartoons.

            The Us vs. Them formula…
            Us – only focus on the best parts, and self-praise
            Them – only focus on all the worst and most extreme parts, combine those into a caricature and then have fun hating on that.

            I suppose it’s a distraction from the death of liberalism… a source of satisfying blame and ridicule. This often raises peoples spirits, though I’m personally not a fan.

          3. ambrit

            Mz Valissa;
            It’s also an extremely efficient political organizing method. Don’t knock ‘Us and Them’ unless you like living in a dystopia.

          4. Valissa

            Not sure who youa re responding to, but I’m motivated to answer.

            Obviously there are many people who believe all kinds of absurd things in politics and else where. Absurd things are also in the eye of the beholder, and according to some I believe quite absurd things as well.

            These absurd believers… how much energy does one devote to their absurdity? To pointing out how absurd they are? How seriously should one take them? Is it worth spending alot of time and energy thinking and talking about them? Does their group have any real power? I believe those are the more the issue here.

          5. Valissa

            @ambrit, I hope you are not sorely disappointed in me as I have developed a severe aversion/allergy to that power game. I refuse to play it, and I often take the trouble to name it as a problem when I see it. Perhaps we should just agree to disagree on this issue, dear ;)

          6. Valissa

            Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind, by David Berreby

            Sociology & social psychology meet neuroscience… great insight into how “natural” group prejudices/biases are… highly recommended!

          7. Yves Smith Post author

            Valissa,

            This movement has no power? What planet are you from? Watch Adam Curtis’ Century of the Self, on how the human potential movement that came out of the 1960s was deliberately channeled into libertarianism, or Chs. 4 and 5 of ECONNED, on how “free market” ideas (which are libertarian”) have been sold and institutionalized.

            You are like a fish that does not recognize that it is swimming in water. I suspect you are 35 or younger. The change in values and prevailing discourse has been massive.

          8. Valissa

            Yves, I’m guessing you are not understanding my point. I am a very cynical 55yo who has been studying the history of money and power for some years now.

            Greed and lust for power are the main issues, always have been, always will be. Whatever ideology is used as an excuse is just a sideshow, IMO.

          9. Valissa

            Additionally, of course I have watched Curtis’ the Century of the Self and I am well aware of the powers of propaganda and who wields them. Despite all that, I have a different point of view on the libertarian issue than many of you. I do not wish to play the fear and loathing game, and that is my spiritual choice.

          10. craazyman

            Don’t worry Valissa.

            I have a theory Mr. Cain hasn’t paid his private security team’s invoice for six months straight and these are not civilized men.

            Whatever influence he has may be brief, except by an example which would only dissuade others from his path and encourage the formation of a government-supported police force.

          11. JR_2

            It has to be ‘Us vs Them!’

            That’s a sure loser, when ‘liberals’ disparage potential allies.

            Then again, maybe this once it’s a good way to peel off a few sane libertarians from the insane ones.

            Still, true tea party patriots and sane libertarians are the best path for success by OWS.

      2. rotter

        A “caricture” is a distortion, an exageration. This is not a distortion OR and exageration. The author is very careful, using the well established and clearly understandable vehicle of “the dialouge” to lay out in thier own words, what “anarchists/libertarians” really believe. This is what Hoppe believes and its what Ayn Rand, Von Misses, etc., believed. Its all right there in thier own words. They arent making an effort to hide it.

    1. Rex

      What gave you the impression it was a “cross post”?

      And my reply — deal with it. Ignore it or give something more specific about why it offends you sensibilities.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          traderjoe does not like seeing libertarians roughed up, so he is looking for any excuse to complain.

          Andrew Dittmer writes regularly for this site and took input on drafts of this series. The Distributalist Review didn’t want to cross post from NC, so we agreed on simulposting. There is almost assuredly no overlap between the NC readership and its readership (unlike other sites I cross post from, like New Economic Perspectives or VoxEU). So what is your beef? That this is not original content? Sorry, it is.

          1. traderjoe

            Wow, and you call yourself a moderator? First, this particular response was a simple answer to errant remark above. I don’t care if it’s cross-posted or not. Second, shouldn’t you encourage ALL civil debate – instead of lambasting posters and visitors to your site? Isn’t that what makes for site traffic and education? Or would you rather lambast people so they don’t care to respond anymore?

            I don’t mind if you rough up libertarians. Every philosophy has its weaknesses. I’m only part Libertarian, but I also want a state-printed, debt-free, interest-free money as a currency option. Not a very libertarian idea. I just think a lot of this exercise is silly – set up a fictional character to be interviewed merely to mock the absurdity of the resulting fictional comments. I don’t think many of these comments to be truly libertarian – and I have commented elsewhere to be such.

            But, instead of actually challenging any of the other arguments/discussions I have posted, instead you lambast me for this one (again, a simple comment/response). And not in a way that encourages further discourse, discussion, or participation on my part.

            Your site, your rules.

          2. traderjoe

            *edit* perhaps you should go back and look at who the original complainer of the ‘cross-posting’ was.

          3. Marat

            I don’t think many of these comments to be truly libertarian – and I have commented elsewhere to be such.

            Then you’d be quite incorrect. Many of these are direct quotes from a libertarian who has a following in extreme circles. Some members of this group consider trying to rescue a starving child “unjustified aggression” because it violates natural law.

            Your correct that this is an extreme example of nut-picking- but these people are libertarians. Just as Stalinism is still a strain of Marxism despite the fact that some supporters think the word “marxism” should be synonymous with the vague statement “people who think and do good things.”

          4. traderjoe

            @Marat – clearly I’m in the wrong place. I consider the strawman argument of letting babies die as Libertarian to be just plain silly. “These people are Libertarian.” And so some Liberals want the state to do everything – that doesn’t make it a Liberal argument per se. It’s picking the oddest possible example and then decrying the entire philosophy.

            And you’re not the only one – including Yves. These comments abound with massive overstatements of the Libertarian thought-process, especially because everyone “knows a libertarian just like that”.

            I will make sure the door hits me in the ass on the way out.

          5. Marat

            clearly I’m in the wrong place. I consider the strawman argument of letting babies die as Libertarian to be just plain silly. “These people are Libertarian.” And so some Liberals want the state to do everything – that doesn’t make it a Liberal argument per se. It’s picking the oddest possible example and then decrying the entire philosophy.

            I’m well aware of the scope of libertarian philosophy- the example of letting a baby die I picked was straight out of a Murray Rothbard book I once enjoyed. I don’t decry a philosophy just because that particular example is disgusting, however, but for the same reason I decry many of the various -isms.

            I’ll assert that your position that I “dismiss” libertarianism on the basis of a few shocking quotes is a straw-man. I think there are a lot of thoughtful people involved in libertarianism (particularly the kind that remembers compromise is a necessary aspect of life), I’m even a fan of some of their work (David Friedman, Hayek’s non-economic work, Steve Horwitz to name a few), but some of them are, indeed, harmful utopians. Hoppe, in particular, is a good example of what I mean!

          6. Kaiser

            TraderJoe,

            his fictional charachter is quoting extensively from the highly priased literature of the ‘Libertarians’. It’s fair game and reasonable and doesn’t even approach strawmanism.

            That said, I often wonder if ridicule (which is easy) is the best way to engage. It is with the Elitest ‘Intellectuals’ of the Ultra Right but with the ordinary Tea Partier I think calling them ignorant or idiotic is the wrong tack.

            Kaiser

    2. Yearning to Learn

      Although I agree these aren’t my favorite, they do highlight some of the inherent contradictions and flat out scariness of some Libertarian ideals.

      I think many people don’t realize how deep these flaws are in the Libertarian ideal, because in general the Libertarian views are more narrowly focused when I run into them.

      Typically they center around topics such as a man’s right to his private property and Big Gov transgressing on his rights due to unfair taxation. Ideas which many of us believe or at least can sypmathize with.

      But even the most mainstream Libertarians crack if you delve deeper. case in point: Mr. Ron Paul. (who I’d argue is more of a Constitutionalist than a Libertarian, but many Libertarians really like him).

      At first glance, he says a LOT that makes a LOT of sense. End foreign wars, end the Fed, consider the gold standard, etc.

      but when you dig deeper, you find that he has some questionable views… such as being opposed to the Civil Rights Laws. worse if you ever read his old newsletter (some of which he wrote, some he did not, but all endorced by him since it’s HIS newsletter).

      Likewise, when you dig deeper into Libertarian philosophy you run into one major contradiction:
      what exactly is the difference between a Government that can take our rights/property from us by force, and a non-Governmental monopoly that can do the same thing?

      I’m reminded of the life of the original Settlers who lived under the control of the various British Companies at the time. Hardly an ideal life.

      another contradiction that I see a lot in economics in general is this:
      why is it a “good” thing when a group of people get together to create a cooperation that we call a “corporation”, or in this case a “GLO”, but it is a bad thing when a group of people get together to create a cooperation that we call a “government”?

      What is the difference if 50 people get together to make a super-HOA that dictates everything that can be done there… and 50 people if they get together and decide to incorporate into a municipality and dictate everything that can be done there?

      my thought: there isn’t much difference often.

      Thus: the Libertarian argument against BigGov also works quite nicely against BigBiz.

        1. Yearning to Learn

          aspects of non-fiat based currencies make a lot of sense. this doesn’t mean I advocate for them, it only means that they have their place in life and are not necessarily cuckoo.

          I say this often but:
          “All fiat eventually goes to zero”
          (beholden by all the gold bugs, and true…)

          however, there is the less known truism:
          “all gold backed currencies eventually go to fiat”

          and even less well known
          “failed fiat systems may be replaced by a different fiat, or converted to money backed by an asset (like gold).”

          Pairing fiat currency with a debt-backed fractional reserve system is a recipe for disaster, as we have seen.

          I do not believe that going to a gold backed system would improve our situation… however i still believe there is some value to the gold-backed system otherwise we wouldn’t return to it so often after major currency crises.

          but I recognize that a gold standard would cause perhaps as many/more problems than it would solve.

          1. traderjoe

            Why not have multiple currencies so people can choose their spending/savings/transactional mediums?

    3. LRT

      Mr Dittmer desperately needs an editor. He just goes on and on and on. All this should have been done in one crisp post, to do four of the things? Its like someone holding a bucket over ones head and hitting it with a broom handle!

      Spare us. We got it the first time. It wasn’t much good then, but the fourth time its absolutely awful.

  1. Foppe

    The relevant quote from Locke (on which Rothbard draws), is the following:

    Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined it to something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men. For this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.

    The parts in bold are the ones Rothbard ‘forgot’ to cite in For a New Liberty. Anyone care to guess why?

    1. Anon

      Here’s an interview with economics Nobellist Elinor Olstrom, doyenne of actually existing research into how the commons have been, and are, managed.

      She talks about the problems associated with fixed property rights, particularly the issue of water, and suggests that the historic holding of resources communally has often been beneficial:

      http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/america-the-remix/elinor-ostrom-wins-nobel-for-common-s-sense

      Her 1990 book, Governing the Commons, outlines several key problem-solving approaches for successful management of the commons:

      http://www.cooperationcommons.com/node/361

    2. ambrit

      Dear Foppe;
      This quote from Locke can also be used to justify any and all taxes by supposing a necessity of returning some useful thing to the original pool of value so as to ensure continued useful activity into the future. (It also looks suspiciously like a reverse VAT!)

    3. Susan the other

      To this day land is not personal property, it is a bundle of rights. The right to work the land and develop it and benefit from it. The right to buy and sell land is the right to buy and sell this bundle of property rights that are appurtenant to the land by law.

  2. reason

    “A just situation by just steps is also just” this smells of a logical fallacy taken to be clearly true.

    Obviously it is false in the case where there are unrepresented parties and externalities. (Think drinking water stream sold to a tannery.) But the question then becomes what exactly is ajust step and how do you recognise it?

    1. reason

      Or imagine a private road that is sold and then dug up. I conjecture you can’t in fact identify a just transaction without looking at its consequences.

    2. reason

      By the way given that the “just” in the starting condition and the “just” in the step are completely different concepts of “just” it is hard to think of any reason that this statement should be true.

      Another counterexample – the world is specialised into growers of food and producers of other things, so the producers of other things are dependent on the price of food relative to what they produce for their survival. Then imagine along come alcoholic extraterrestials with a tast for whisky and lots of valuable metals to trade ….

    3. reason

      Curious that nobody even tried to dispute this. Yet some people thought the book was “carefully argued”. Maybe it just wasn’t carefully read.

  3. reason

    This claim about land “unused” by the Indians is amusing to me. So anybody who has a “superior” (i.e. more profitable) use of use of land can justly just take it (without compensation) from somebody else? Aw come on – even Libertarians aren’t that dumb.

    1. Stephanie

      You don’t have to be a libertarian to believe that. That belief is operational, in fact, in international ‘development.’ Refer to, for example, land grabs in Africa. Land is taken from peasants, who (it is explained) don’t have the capital to work it properly. It is re-allocated to people with capital, who then make better and more efficient use of it (according to the story). Also, (so they say) Africans benefit because they are hired on as wage laborers.

      1. reason

        I never implied you had to be a libertarian to believe that – its just that I find it hard to believe that any (non-racist) person could actually believe that it is JUST.

        1. Stephanie

          Well, the idea seems to have legs in some (big) circles because it is seen as a way to bring economies into a global marketplace who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate (because they lack capital). So, I suppose, the idea of ‘global land transaction’ are argued as being JUST because, the theory goes, they improve/grow local economies and people will benefit via trickle down from the transaction.

          1. reason

            Well no – you could just lend them the money – or buy their land – it is not necessary to just steal it.

    2. Binky the Bear

      More troubling is the conceit that the aboriginal people of the New World were not using the land-on the contrary, there were thousands of years of careful land management, usage right agreements, rotating agriculture, and arguably a de facto empire in Central America with “suburbs” or “exurbs” in North America.
      It was only the advent of a suite of epidemic and endemic diseases derived from European’s long coresidence with livestock in close proximity for which Americans had no resistance that cleared the land periodically in advance of European colonists. The process of colonization was facilitated by the land management policies of the Americans, who selectively burned forest areas to foster game cover and browse, clear “prairies” for wild birds (Turkeys), and cause some species of trees’ seed pods to pop. Once the Europeans started calling themselves Americans, the aristocrat/peasant land management system was put in place and all the managed landscape fell to ruin and became “wild” forest.
      Libertarianism as it exists depends on a certain kind of insulated and blindered ignorance of history and anthropology. It is a utopian ideology for which definitions equal n+1 where n=the number of followers, and agreement between followers =n-1, as no two will agree on enough points to declare unanimity.

      1. Stephanie

        “More troubling is the conceit that the aboriginal people of the New World were not using the land-on the contrary, there were thousands of years of careful land management, usage right agreements, rotating agriculture…”

        I’m not sure that that is ‘more troubling’ than the current land grabs in Africa. The rationale for taking the land is the same, i.e. that it isn’t ‘being used.’ And like you say, on the contrary….it often does have a use, just not one that conforms with the idea of ‘utility’ in a liberal economic view.

  4. reason

    It would be nice if Andrew Dittmar participated in the discussion. May be he could be persuaded to have a discussion after the series is finished.

  5. Iolaus

    “To properly claim land, you have to do real economic work on the land…”

    How is “real” defined? It sounds as though anyone who can exploit a property to the fullest is its rightful owner. So Cain can’t object when I raze his house–which is simply providing him with shelter–and build a refinery there. He gets no compensation, either, because his house wasn’t doing real economic work. Tough luck, Cain.

    1. reason

      Not to mention what is the LIMIT to the amount of land that can be claimed under this rule? It may have sounded sensible before mechanised agriculture – but today? Aw come on folks – you can’t be serious!

  6. Dan Duncan

    In the spirit of conducting interviews, here’s mine with the semi-fictitious creator of “The Libertarian Chronicles”. He’s a graduate from Harvard who recently obtained a PhD in Mathematics.

    Let’s call him “You”. My interview comes on the heels of his aforementioned Six-Part series on Libertarians.

    Me: OK. Obviously, the question that every reader wants an answer to is…Six Parts? Really?

    You:Yes, I felt that multiple installments were needed to really elucidate my impressions of Libertarians.

    Me:But six installments? Six. That’s a lot of installments! You couldn’t have winnowed it down to, say, 2 or 3 installments?

    You:No, I really needed those extra installments to make it really clear that I really don’t like Libertarians. Plus, my audience hates ‘em too. So…with each installment, I give them a “validation-fix” to satisfy their addiction to the narcotizing dysfunction of Confirmation Bias in the Bubble of a Group Think Tank.

    Me: OK. But six fucking installments?

    You:Please. I find the use of that language offensive.

    Me: I’m sorry about that; but you gotta understand: We’re talking about SIX FUCKING INSTALLMENTS! SIX OF THEM! You get that right? SIX FUCKING INSTALLMENTS INTERVIEWING A FICTIONAL “BUT REAL” LIBERTARIAN.

    You: Yes, I know six. I’m the one who went to Harvard, remember? I get it SIX. Now please stop.

    Me:“Please Stop”. Are you kidding me?! You–the quote-mining writer of SIX FUCKING INSTALLMENTS with a fake character spewing nonsense in red font is asking me to stop?!?!

    You:I thought this interview was going to be about my work. You’re just focusing on the number of installments. Aren’t you going to ask me about the underlying message of my work?

    Me:Wait a second.
    [DEEP BREATH]
    Did you really think I came here to ask you about your voluminous Socratic “interview” with some dude named “Code Name Cain”? Really?

    You:Ahh, yes. Yes I did.

    Me: Oh my.
    [UNCOMFORTABLE PAUSE]

    You: That’s it. This interview is over.

    Me: Wait! Please don’t go. We’re not done! This is just the first interview. I still have 5 more to go. Please. This is supposed to be a 6-Part Interview! Don’t go! I’m not finished yet!!

    1. ambrit

      Fiends;
      I’m assuming here that some Hermetic Exegies is going on. SIX? It’d take the Wisdom of Solomon to tease Sophia out of her sanctum on this. That’s TWO, count em, TWO Hermes Tresmagesthii in play! Let’s take, um, yes, there it is, the traditional Triple of sets of interviews, and we have, *Gasp* the Number of the Beast! Keynes save us! The Anti Christ is here, among us! (They weren’t called Contras for nothing!) This Mathematically Minded Young Man is most assuredly an Initiate. All Hail! (One piece of advice; Don’t allow yourself to be coopted into the Higher Order. You’re doing just fine as you are.)

      1. ScottS

        You’re not allowed to use reason against Libertarians. They have a monopoly on reason. They decided that no one else was doing anything productive enough with it and appropriated it.

    2. ScottS

      Gee Dan, that was an extremely emotional response for such an enlightened rational super-man.

      If you were a character in Star Trek, would it be Spock?

    3. rotter

      Im sure you felt 6 was too many. You would have felt 1 was too many. Is that your point? The whole thing? Cause I felt 12 would be better, or 6 for Von Misses, 6 more for Ayn Rand, etc.,. cause its abundantly clear the guy could blow them up too.

  7. craazyman

    I am coming under Mr. Cain’s spell, reluctantly, like being struck suddenly by an arrow from Cupid when I look across the room at that slightly hot and alluring woman picking her nose.

    This is surprising me, and I’m not entirely comfortable with it.

    How can this be happening to me?

    What can I do for an antidote? I want my own GLO and my own oasis and harem and right to engage in drunken mayhem. I have to be honest about that. But I want it to be all voluntary, with no church ladies telling me I’m sinning. And no whining humanists telling me I’m out of control. LOL.

    1. ambrit

      Dear craazyman;
      Don’t disparage the ‘Church Ladies’ prematurely. One of the most embarrasing moments of my embarrasment filled life occured on a country church Halloween Hayride. (They were trying to innoculate the younguns against the Godless Communistic Neo Pagan Nature Worship that Halloween represented to them.) I’m sitting next to my wife and our children when a hand, not my wifes, slyly fondles my reproductive apparatus. I must have jumped a foot, as the saying goes, because my wife noticed and asked what was the matter. I kept quiet about it. Several times later, the woman with the cold hands would laugh when we met in passing. I should have spoken up at the time, I realize that now. I could have been living in that idyllic rural retreat with a real harem and lots of extended family kids! Church Sisters can do that to you. You’ve been warned!

    2. traderjoe

      Your sarcasm has convinced me that I should donate more currency to the benevolent Federal government so they can open up more foreign bases, wage even larger wars, and create a larger domestic spying operation. I love getting fondled at the airport!

      1. craazyman

        for me it would depend on whose doing the fondling and how much beer I’ve had.

        If you have extra money, please send it to me. I guaranteed you that I’m not the government and I’ll use it to maximize our efficiency.

        -Professor Hoardy Toardy, Doctor of Feelosophy
        PO Box 8
        Hallelujua, Hawiaii

  8. Paul Sherrard

    Speak for yourselves, haters! I think this series is awesome! Keep it up, Andrew Dittmer; you could make it a 60-part piece as far as I’m concerned.

    1. Amateur Socialist

      Yes there ought to be no shortage of sunlight onto this disastrously absurd philosophy. And in response to those who ask why bother with such nonsense I would point them to the well funded think tanks propagating it. Don’t stop while it’s still filling hotel ballrooms with conferences.

      1. traderjoe

        Do you think well-funded think tanks are propigating libertarianism, or just corporatism under a different guise?

        1. YankeeFrank

          There is no difference between libertarianism and corporatism. Libertarianism is merely the supposedly ethical wrapping that inoculates corporatism from its horrid fascist humanity enslaving tendencies. I give you GLO’s as exhibit 1.

          1. Susan the other

            It is interesting that NGOs haven’t entered the dialog. Nor has religion. Our government is not being vindicated here because it also is corrupt, some say rotten to the core. But “Cain” doesn’t have the answer. He would just have us go back and start over without making any changes. The point I’m beginning to take away is that Hoppe-Libertarianism is totally retro. I think there is no definitive way to organize society because everything defensible is always negotiable.

            Also I thought the fable of Cain and Abel was from an oral-tradition account of the change from nomadic life to domestic agricultural life. And that Cain was banished to be forever a nomad. Probably a pillaging nomad.

          2. traderjoe

            Libertarianism equals corporatism? The absurdity of that comment reflects the nature of this debate.

            First, read the definitions of each, and they really have very little to do with each other. The problem with the ‘ism’s is that everyone creates their own definitions and then uses them in a sentence, assuming others know that same meaning.

            I suspect you are using “corporatism” to define our current captured government/corporate state, but from the definitions I read the word is a much more general one, that could be refined to incorporate fascist to socialistic forms of corporatism/societal organization.

            I would simply state that GLO’s by nature capture governments and lead to the centralization of power – which is in opposition to libertarianism. GLO’s use governments to encourage certain regulations which protect said GLO. This CNC charade suggests there is a debt to the GLO’s when the government imposes regulations. Bullsh*t. The current GLO’s want those regulations because it enforces/creates their monopoly. These are the sorts of CNC statements that are so absurd, that this guy isn’t Libertarian, he’s simply a strawman making specious arguments.

            I don’t think any true, thoughtful Libertarian would want to be ruled by Monsanto instead of the government.

            Without government, the GLO’s would not be able to consolidate power like they do.

          3. Christophe

            Traderjoe, you could have made an equally hypocritical interview candidate based on your circular-reasoned government-bashing. Though your brand of libertarianism is one that CNC would consider illegitimate, apparently CNC’s brand is one that you consider equally illegitimate.

            So exciting these struggles for control of the discourse within logically inconsistent movements. Who will be the victor??? I can’t wait to see if it will be Tweedledee or Tweedledum!

          4. traderjoe

            @Chistophe – IMHO, all political economic movements/philosophies are logically inconsistent, because all fail to consider the failings of man. In all, there is a belief that either man acts logically and/or benevolently. And, of course, history shows that not to be the case.

            Economics used to be called political economy. A much more apt description.

            In some ways you proved my point – that I don’t consider the presented form of libertarianism to be legitimate. Therefore, the whole exercise of creating a strawman to simply *destroy* the comments is a specious one. But creates great confirmation bias.

            Go liberalism!

  9. Middle Seaman

    I didn’t follow the previous parts, but after this part I am delighted I didn’t. Knew very little about libertarians and their theories, this part makes them look like a bunch of semi-drugged high school kids. If this is indeed the case, why bother? If it isn’t the case, what is this post about?

      1. ambrit

        Dear reason;
        Yes indeed, they’ve now become fully drugged aparatchiks and functionaries within the modern command and control system.

  10. Zikan

    People think that this is a satire of libertarians really need to understand that it really is closer to the truth then you realize.

    The worship of property and efficiency over other concerns such a freedom is prevalent even in more mainstream libertarian ideologues.

    Just look at Ron and Rand Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  11. Jill

    I want to disagree with those who do not want this interview posted (in a totallly rights respecting manner of course). Part of the problem with political discourse lies precisely in the fact that people are not forced to disclose the details of what they are planning to do and how they will accomplish their goals.

    Take the prez as an example. He says: “I get to declare anyone I want a terrorist and I can kill them.” Well O.K. Mr. Obama. How did you come up with that idea and what is the legal basis for your action? “Uh-I cannot reveal that information because it is a state secret and covered by attorney client privilege. Next question!”

    Now suppose we had an interview with Mr. Obama wherein he was actually forced to pony up? We have lazy and complicit journalists so this is unlikely to happen, but shouldn’t it?

    I would like to hear a neo-liberal and neo-conservative interviewed in this way. In fact, I would like representatives of the 1% (in and outside official political channels) interviewed in depth. It would be a fascinating and important learning experience.

  12. drugstoreblonde

    Pretty convenient to omit the whole ‘Cain slaying Abel’ bit of the story…

    And, good christ, how many logical fallacies can CNC’s arguments contain?

    And also, how lottery-like an fortuitous that ‘because of the confusion, etc’ of sorting out ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ appropriation of land, Today’s Winners remain Tomorrow’s Winners!

    Libertarianisn: Where everyone is free(!), but everything is forbidden.

    1. YankeeFrank

      “And also, how lottery-like an fortuitous that ‘because of the confusion, etc’ of sorting out ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ appropriation of land, Today’s Winners remain Tomorrow’s Winners!”

      You nail it to the pole there drugstore. The cliche expression is that “libertarians are republicans who smoke pot”. There is some truth there — let’s call these the lazy libertarians.

      However, the real die-hard libertard understands libertarianism as the “ethical” (I use the word liberally) cover for naked corporate aggression. Their worship and desire for the imagined perfectly hierarchical society is just a metaphor for the corporate structure where we have upper management (which of course includes themselves and other worthies) and the drones, who deserve nothing but derision and enslavement, yet are thrown a piece of bread once in a while because their betters are so damned generous and wise.

      I particularly like the assertions of a history where “perfect harmony” between the “GLO”s existed — like the “noblemen” that ruled due to natural talent and wisdom, which power was of course passed down through to their children, the wisdom of the parent naturally flowing to the child. Its as dumb and made-up as anything Ayn Rand ever dreamt in her feverish imaginings of ravishment at the hands of John Galt. What amazes me is that many of these douchebags ranting for a return to the idealistic past before government arose to destroy and deharmonize the world are themselves lowly peons in their own universe. But of course, self-delusion is rampant with these types. Only a society well past its sell-by date would allow such glib and emotionally limited people to sway the cultural dialog the way libertards do. They preach their idiocy and a dumb and decadent people scratch their sweaty distracted noggins and can’t be bothered to notice who is the bigger fool.

      1. drugstoreblonde

        I particularly like the assertions of a history where “perfect harmony” between the “GLO”s existed — like the “noblemen” that ruled due to natural talent and wisdom, which power was of course passed down through to their children, the wisdom of the parent naturally flowing to the child.

        CNC paints himself into such a rhetorical corner with that argument.

        For starters…

        1. How can the merits of one individual be successfully (or convincingly) be passed on to subsequent generations?

        2. Don’t inheritance laws profoundly complicate libertarian [doctrines]? Would a child inherit the debts owed his parent?

        3. Doesn’t CNC’s species of libertarianism privilege the atomized individual over any relationship (family, community, etc)?

        1. F. Beard

          “noblemen” that ruled due to natural talent and wisdom, which power was of course passed down through to their children, the wisdom of the parent naturally flowing to the child. drugstoreblonde

          Baloney. The history of Hebrew Kings (1st and 2nd Kings) demolishes that idea. Nearly every Hebrew King was bad despite the fact that David their ancestor was superb (and even he messed up with Bathsheba).

          1. drugstoreblonde

            Exactly.

            But libertarianism has never been about a thorough, honest examination of the very principles they intend to implement.

            CNC’s cryptic namesake might be a reference to the bible (or, more likely, the Hermann Hesse b-side Demian), but I have little confidence that he actually read the remainder, which relates heavily to the disastrous effects of libertarian -esque policies regarding debt, title, property, and remittance.

      2. propertius

        However, the real die-hard libertard

        These would be “the Republicans who smoke meth”, I suppose ;-)

    2. propertius

      Pretty convenient to omit the whole ‘Cain slaying Abel’ bit of the story…

      You mean the heroic defense of his property and freedom against the tyrannies of external authority, so-called sacrifice, and presumed “obligation” to place the life of another over his sacred personal convenience and profit? Nonsense, it’s right here:

      Cain was forced to take action to protect his property.

      Personally, I think the series is brilliant.

      1. drugstoreblonde

        You mean the heroic defense of his property and freedom against the tyrannies of external authority, so-called sacrifice, and presumed “obligation” to place the life of another over his sacred personal convenience and profit?

        Ha. Yes. It reminds of a line from Chinatown:

        “… Politicians , ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough…”

        I guess the same goes for talmudic persons…

  13. F. Beard

    Cain comes up with an idea for making the sacrifice process more efficient – instead of sacrificing productive agricultural goods, he will burn thorns and cow dung. CNC

    That defeats a major purpose of the sacrifice – the acknowledgement that all good things come from God AND that He can readily replace the things sacrificed.

    Gee wiz Cain, it would be better to not worship God at all than to insult Him with burning dung and thorns.

    Well, it’s pretty clear that one CANNOT be a believing Jew or Christian and be a libertarian of CNC’s ilk.

    1. propertius

      Oh, no Mr.Beard. you’re ust not viewing this from the correct “Propertarian” perspective:

      God gave man “dominion” (that is to say, “sovereign legal authority”) in a voluntary transaction, right there in Genesis 1:28-29.

      In so doing, God surrendered any claims to the property – it’s the original quitclaim deed. Just because God was the original creator of the work doesn’t give Him any right to nullify the property transfer after the fact. To do so would interfere with the “dominion” Cain exercised as an heir to the property.

      See, it’s perfectly clear!

      1. F. Beard

        Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?” Isaiah 66:1

        It appears the Lord still thinks the Earth belongs to Him.

        1. propertius

          Nonsense – this is a clear case of “seller’s remorse”, having happened millennia after the deal was consummated. It’s like trying to foreclose on a house when you don’t hold the note.

  14. Jill

    I’m unclear on who determines what are rights. In yesterday’s interview we are told there are thought crimes-thinking about democracy and/or communism. How did we go from anyone can do anything as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others to the GLObotariats who enforce a ban on thought crimes through use of home and personal surveillance?

    Like others, I am also uncertain as to who will determine what is “productive use”. Cain has no idea of history or he would not make such a massively stupid statement about the use of the land by those living here before Europeans came. These “non-productive and intellectual inferior brutes” sustained cities of tens of thousands by their crappy land use techniques. Their use of “milpa” is actually being reintroduced into the techniques of the superior land users who have destroyed the soil.

    1. F. Beard

      n yesterday’s interview we are told there are thought crimes-thinking about democracy and/or communism. Jill

      And the irony is that if CNC’s society was absolutely the best we could have then why would people even want to think about democracy or Communism? Because people are flawed?Indeed they are and that includes you CNC.

      1. Jill

        F. Beard,

        That came to me right away as well. Then I remembered that Libertopia is like all (dis)utopias–once it arrives, history effectively ends.

      2. Susan the other

        Hi F. You: “Then why would we even think about democracy or communism?…. (we do so because) people are flawed.”

        I think we come together at the string-theory level of socio-economics. I appreciate Ditmer for forcing everyone into this dialog.

        1. JR_2

          I still think it is possible to peel off a few sane libertarians.

          But SusanTO, yes — I for one have learned a lot. I had no idea libertarianism-by-the-book is insane, and agree that fact is important to spread around.

    2. TK421

      Apparently, rights are determined by events that happened tens of thousands of years before any of us were born. Also some people are so much better than anyone else that they get to do whatever they want.

      1. drugstoreblonde

        Apparently, rights are determined by events that happened tens of thousands of years before any of us were born. Also some people are so much better than anyone else that they get to do whatever they want.

        You managed to sum up libertarianism pretty nicely.

        The Bible mixed with Ayn Rand.

          1. drugstoreblonde

            You should tell that to the self-proclaimed ‘libertarians’ I know…

            Religious rights (and, to be explicit, Christian Rights) factor heavily in their purview.

          2. F. Beard

            For one thing, most libertarians are devoted to usury, even many of them who claim to be Christian. Also, agricultural land in Israel was not to be sold; it could only be leased out for at most 49 years. Plus many libertarians are opposed to even a minimal safety net, though the OT mandates one (gleaning, a tithe for the poor, etc.)

            And then there is the command to forgive debts every 7 years.

            And what about this:

            Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Romans 13 (NASB)

    3. ScottS

      You decide what rights you have by picking your security, insurance and regional GLO, I suppose the Libertarians would say. Free market and all that.

      The “security” GLO idea is hysterical. Combine money, authority and violence and what could possibly go wrong?

  15. Stick

    I am thoroughly enjoying this series. To all those who are throwing temper tantrums here, I have two points I’d like to make.

    First, if you doubt that this serial offers an accurate view of libertarian ideology then take a trip over to CATO and do some reading. It is the utopic ideal animating much of the political discussion on display there. Once upon a time, it was quite common to see truly philosophical discussions on political theory in popular discourse. Our descent into the mindless political chatter we have today is evidence of how far down the rabbit-hole we’ve travelled. If we are to dig our way out of the mess we are in then we need to add some depth to public discourse. Kudos to Andrew!

    Second, in response to the angry Mr. Duncan, the use of dialogues and serials as a means of having these kind of philosophical debates has a long history dating back to antiquity. If you like your information distilled down to hollow, easily digestible sloganeering cable television offers you several choices.

    1. drugstoreblonde

      I am thoroughly enjoying this series. To all those who are throwing temper tantrums here, I have two points I’d like to make.

      I am, too. The first two installations were grim and filled me with a deep malaise. The last two, by contrast, have been darkly comical.

      If this is what the vanguard of libertarianism represents, then there is nothing to fear. It is just a crass fantasy of privilege and property unencumbered by morality concealed in the tone-deaf language of the modern Project Manager.

      1. TK421

        “The first two installations were grim and filled me with a deep malaise.”

        Well, sometimes you have to let bygones be bygones.

    2. Jill

      Stick,

      “To all those who are throwing temper tantrums here, I have two points I’d like to make….” Here’s a third–It brings a whole new selling point to real estate. This property is “rights adjacent”!

  16. TK421

    “No one can believe this! This is a caricature of libertarianism!”

    All I can say to this is, fire up Google and look into these people. They really are this crazy. Ayn Rand wrote glowing tributes to a psychotic murderer, holding him up as an example of the ideal person:

    http://michaelprescott.net/hickman.htm

    She wrote a book called “The Virtue of Selfishness” saying that it was not only alright to not help a person who was dying, but that it was a moral wrong to so.

    And she is the founder of what we are talking about here.

  17. F. Beard

    CNC reminds me of my own struggles to achieve a consistent libertarian philosophy. I eventually gave up.

    But why argue? The banking and money system is everyone’s enemy. Why not deal with it first and see what remains to argue about later?

    1. traderjoe

      Thank you, yes. Take back the power to create money to the State, where it belongs (I’m part Libertarian, and even I believe that). Print interest-free, debt-free currency directly from the Treasury.

      Why don’t people talk about that more on this supposed MMT-fan base site?

      All I ask is you allow me to trade/conduct commerce in my own favored currency, instead of forcing everyone to use the State’s.

      1. F. Beard

        All I ask is you allow me to trade/conduct commerce in my own favored currency, instead of forcing everyone to use the State’s. traderjoe

        Of course. Much unnecessary strife could be eliminated if the “stealth inflation tax” was abolished.

        1. liberal

          Balogne. Most strife is due to the fact that relatively few privileged parties accrue vast wealth from state-granted privileges.

          Creating money with keystrokes and lending it out at interest, your bete noir, is definitely one of them, but it’s tiny compared to land rent. In fact, a huge chunk of it is due to land rent—if land value were taxed at extremely high rates, people would pay a lot less in mortgage interest.

          1. F. Beard

            if land value were taxed at extremely high rates, people would pay a lot less in mortgage interest. liberal

            I don’t have a firm opinion on high land taxes. I do have the Henry George book but have not read it yet.

        2. mansoor h. khan

          liberal,

          I agree with you money (banking) reform is not the only thing needed. Monopolies, Global Warming, etc are also needed to be dealt with.

          But we should prioritize. Also, our guiding principle (at very, very high level) should be JUSTICE and MERCY.

          Mansoor H. Khan

  18. groo

    Enjoying this series would be too much of a good thing, but EXPOSING this mindset, which most of the time disguises itself, is invaluable.

    a) read the Hayek quotes
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Friedrich_Hayek#Unsourced

    b) on some libertarian-economics (Rothbard-type) podcast some time ago there was an astonishing comment from a distinguished guest (not written, in spoken words, which cannot be tracked down easily):
    (I cite from memory:)
    “You have to put some pressure on the lower orders of society, because this enhances their creativity”
    By this he obviously also meant artists, because tragedy and pain bring forth the essence of the human condition.”

    Then one can hang these expressions of despair next to the portraits of Your powerful ancestors in your castle, which ofcourse has to be protected from the anger of the oppressed by sufficiently large factions of exactly those oppressed.

    Do not make Your hands dirty.
    It is the underlings themselves, who will do the dirty work.

    Obviously it is the supreme task of power, to produce this condition.

    Because this cannot be done by telling the truth, one has to construct a sufficiently obscure ideology, which the lower orders are incapable to look through.

  19. StPaulite

    Must admit I was totally unfamiliar with Hoppe before this series. As satire it seems like it might be over-egged… but then the direct quotes in red are without fail more batshit than the rest of the text.

    Royalist libertarians! Now I’ve heard everything…

    1. groo

      me too,

      Hoppe just talked too much.

      It is Andrews achievement to expose this mindset by way of sort of a Socratean dialogue.

      It should be history by now, but obviously it is’nt.
      Those types are alive and kickin’.

      More than ever, it seems.

    2. liberal

      The real, central weakness of most strains of so-called libertarian thought actually are captured in this essay, appropriately entitled “Are you a Real Libertarian, or a ROYAL Libertarian?”

      Most libertarians are cryptofeudalists and despise freedom.

      1. groo

        Nice

        Land is the primary property, and all juridical systems are built around that.
        ‘(land) property is 90% of right (justice)’.
        (British Saying)

        Land rent then is the next step.
        Henry George knew that.
        Marx somehow missed that one.

        Securing land by implementation of appropriate law, to guard it.

        Libertarian thought centers on this tenet.
        Perversely, they even sacrifice their cherished ‘individuum’, because it defines itself by (inherited) property.

        To secure that, in a second iteration they have to refer to social-darwinism.

        And so it goes.
        In the final round they have to rely on force for their ‘argument’ which is the ultimate (un)reason.

      2. Otter

        All libertarians are feudal peasants, defending the privileges of the landlord, in their wetdreams of being the landlord.

  20. Ransome

    Cain is just describing Imperialism. For example, King Leopold wanted colonies to exploit, he had Stanly stake out the Congo. The natives had no sense of property, Leopold claimed the land. He assigned a system of taxation to those in villages and provided “money” (brass rods) which had no value other than to pay taxes (MMT). The brass rods could be “earned” by gathering rubber vines and ivory. The enforcers (GLO) were cannibals from other tribal areas. They were paid in salt to season their meals of flesh. The enforcers were issued rifles and a count of bullets. They gathered the vines from the villagers and dispensed brass rods (no value to them). If the villagers balked because the vines became increasingly difficult to procure, the enforcers punished them. For every bullet missing or used, a hand or a foot was required for a new issue of bullets. Sometimes the bullet was kept and the hand or foot simply chopped off. There was some good missionary propaganda showing how crocodiles were severing the right hands of natives on the river.

    The white station managers traveled to the villages once a month to collect the taxes and apply punishment for those villages that came up short. Leopold was hailed by the missionaries and Europeans as civilizing the natives until E. D. Morel, an accountant began wondering why shipments of ivory and rubber arrived and only shipments of guns, ammunition and brass rods were returned. Morel investigated and began writing and lecturing, along with Twain, Conrad (Heart of Darkness), Conan Doyle (Crime of the Congo), all anti-Imperialists. It was so horrible no one believed until the Kodak captured pictures the hand-less natives. The legacy of Leopold remains today in the Congo. Of course other Imperialists exploited Africa and left their legacy, in fact we are still at it. What Cain describes is called corporatist policy in a neoliberal world. Adam Curtis explores the impacts.

    Of course there were several anarchist-libertarians that believed fallow land should be seized from owners if it could be used productively by another.

    So what is the role of propaganda in a libertarian Utopia?

    1. groo

      ransome, agree.
      one of the most difficult aspects to me is, when different value systems clash, or perpetrate each other.
      American Indian thought had no concept of land property.
      Indians signed contracts, which basically were nonsensical to them.

      So the interesting questions are:
      a) why was the colonist’s conception of property, imported from their european mindset, superior?
      Was it only by weapons?

      b) why is it so hard, reclaiming the commons?
      Maybe because of the libertarian mindset, backed up by all the firepower of this world. Which seems to be their ‘argument’.

  21. SamG

    The libertarian strain shows how lots of smart people need elaborate excuses to be mean to each other. My grandfather used to say, “it’s easy to cut broad straps from another man’s leather.”

  22. K Ackermann

    God, I want to be an Elite! I know I’m unique and special… just like everyone else.

    I hope I don’t get injured and turn parasitic. If that happens, I hope someone shoots me, but don’t even think about taking my organs. They are mine. I own them.

  23. Sauron

    Libertarians think they are the elite–the winners–that are dragged down by the lumpen horde. But if the lumpen horde is constantly coming out on top, that kinda draws their “winner” status into doubt, don’t it?

    Sure, sure. The lumpen horde has numbers on its side, while superior men are few and far between, but doesn’t that just mean the truly superior man is the one who can harness the powers of altruism, cooperation, and other social virtues to establish a mutually benefical relationship with the horde?

    1. F. Beard

      to establish a mutually benefical relationship with the horde? Sauron

      Except they are not a horde:

      He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. Proverbs 11:12

      He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor. Proverbs 14:21

  24. BDog

    I’ve never read such nonsense concerning what it means to be a libertarian. It’s based on liberty and freedom and don’t take from others what is not yours. Very basic principals. Has absolutely nothing to do with religion except you have the right to believe whatever you want as long as you don’t impede on other people’s liberty. Someone above compared libertarianism with corporatism (fascism) and I wanted to vomit. This board and this article are misguided and misinformed. It seems that most on this board, including Yves, have only read critical pieces on libertarianism by biased liberals with an agenda instead of seeing it for what it actually is. Libertarians want nothing from you unless it is mutually agreed upon, liberals believe in confiscation.

    1. Marat

      I’ve never read such nonsense concerning what it means to be a libertarian. It’s based on liberty and freedom and don’t take from others what is not yours.

      This is trivial. Every political philosophy thinks this with various differing justifications. Marxists, for example, have argued to me and others that private property is inherently violent. Libertarians, obviously, come out on the opposite side of the issue, but if you ask the Marxist if they’re against “liberty and freedom” they’ll tell you they support it and that’s why their anti-capitalist. I’m not saying that makes them correct, but am pointing this out because that sort of sloganeering is done by every political philosophy.

      This board and this article are misguided and misinformed. It seems that most on this board, including Yves, have only read critical pieces on libertarianism by biased liberals with an agenda instead of seeing it for what it actually is.

      Hans-Hermann Hoppe is a rather extreme libertarian, but he is a libertarian nonetheless. Many of the examples in this interview series are pulled straight out of a book that happens to be sitting in a bin with other books expressing extreme views I no longer agree with. Is Hoppe Yves’s strawman?

      “Libertarians want nothing from you unless it is mutually agreed upon, liberals believe in confiscation.”

      So..

      1) Assume a Libertarian theory of property rights; and
      2) You get a libertarian system of justice!

      Brilliant!

    2. reason

      I’ll just say this:

      Property rights are granted (by society). In exchange for granting and protecting your rights, they want something in return.

      Rights always entail reciprocal responsibilities. You want rights without responsibilities.

      A world in which everything is voluntary is not possible because interactions and conflicts are inevitable. It just needs a little stubborness and there is an impass. To put it simply have you ever read the Dr Zeuss story about the Zac? Libertarians are Zacs.

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