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Libertarianism and Conservativism – foes or friends?

F.A. Hayek at the end of his “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) wrote “Why I am not a Conservative” – which is odd as Hayek had (perhaps without knowing it) a good grasp of what actually is a positive conception of conservatism, and a poor grasp of libertarianism.

Hayek rejected the word “libertarian” as “artificial” which is just as well as he was not a libertarian – philosophically or politically.

Philosophically Hayek was a determinist (like so many 19th century and early 20th century thinkers, he assumed that “science” mandated determinism). Hayek took David Hume literally (whether Hume should really be taken literally is a hotly contested issue), the “I” (the human person) is an illusion, as is human choice – a thought does NOT mean a thinker (a reasoning “I”) and as there is no agent (no human being – no reasoning “I”) there is no agency (no free will), actions are predetermined by a series of causes and effects that go back to the start of the universe – and humans (who are not beings) can do no other than we do (we could not have done otherwise – as choice is an illusion).

Politically Hayek claimed to an “Old Whig”, but is hard to see how his philosophical views are compatible with the Whig point of view – which was based on the MORAL value of human free will (it is not an accident that David Hume was not a Whig) . The determinist (such as the Thomas Hobbes) holds that “freedom” is just an absence of external restraint – for example when a dam fails the water is “free” to rush out and destroy towns and so on. “Freedom” (in the determinist view) is not a matter of moral choice (remember choice is an “illusion”) so “freedom” is like taking one’s hand off a clockwork mouse and letting this clockwork mouse go around on the floor. It is hard to see how this “freedom” can be of any moral importance at all – if any view of politics can be based upon it would be a politics of tyranny (exactly the politics that Hobbes did base upon it), after all walls of water from broken dams (and so on) does not sound very nice.

Still does Hayek say anything else about his politics? Yes he does – again in the “Constitution of Liberty” we are told that he supports the “limited state” not the “minimal state”, because (according to Hayek) the minimal state can not be defined and the limited state can be defined.

Hayek is just wrong – the minimal state is easy to define (although very hard to achieve or maintain – an anarchist would argue impossible to maintain or achieve). The definition of a minimal state is one that just uses force only against the violation of the non aggression principle (attacks on the bodies or goods of people or groups of people). It is actually the “limited state” that is hard to define. Limited to what?

Hayek does make some vague efforts to define the “limited state” – for example he says that such a state applies “general rules” that apply to everyone.

O.K. then – everyone is to have their head cut off. Is that a good example of a “limited state”?

Hayek also says that a limited state does not seek to have a monopoly of any service.

O.K. then – everyone but the children of Mr Smith of 25 Silver Street to go to a state school?

Unfair example? O.K. – how about the state hands education and healthcare “free” (at the expense of the taxpayers), but you are free to pay twice (i.e. pay again on top of taxation) to go private? Is this the limited state?

How about you can go to any doctor you like and send your children to any school you like, but the state pays the bill (no matter how big it is), is that the limited state?

Such a state (one that seeks to provide or pay for education, healthcare, old age provision and on and on) will end up spending half the entire economy (and still fail). That does not sound very limited or sustainable – and Hayek (in his attack on the Welfare State) shows he understands this. However, his “limited state” is not defined in a way that prevents it.

Oh dear this post seems to have turned into “why Hayek is crap” which is unfair as anyone (even the best of us) looks terrible if one just concentrates on errors and weaknesses. I will leave the above out if I ever give a talk on this subject (because it sounds terribly negative) – but it needed to be put on record.

So why is Hayek (perhaps without knowing it) insightful about Conservatism?

Hayek’s own definition of Conservatism (given in “Why I am Not a Conservative”) is not good. He just defines it as being opposed to change – so (for example) a North Korean conservative now would be a socialist (or that is the system they have) and a British conservative I (say) 1870 would be a free market person – as this was the system of the time.

Whatever Hayek may have believed that is not a serious definition of Conservatism. But Hayek (again perhaps without knowing it) does give a description of Conservatism – in “Constitution of Liberty”, “Law. Legislation and Liberty” (and other works).

Cosmos not Taxis – spontaneous order (evolved over time) not top down planning. What Hayek called the results of “human action not human design” (it would be have been better to say the results of voluntary action not forced action – but Hayek had philosophical problems with even voluntary design).

Or (in the language of the conservative writer M.J. Oakeshott) a Civil Association not Enterprise Association, a Societas not a Universitas.

Institutions and customs that evolve over time often without people knowing the reasons they are useful – till they are broken.

As Tolkien’s (Tolkien being a Catholic Conservative) character “Gandalf” puts it in the “Lord of the Rings” – “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom”.

This is what Conservatism is about – a preference for evolved custom and ways of doing things (ways of living) over imposed “rational” planning by the state.

The state (in the Conservative view) is like the Thrain of the Shire (Tolkien’s) and the Mayor.

The Thrain does nothing in peacetime (in war it is different) – he just farms his estate. And the Mayor is the leading figure at formal dinners (like those of the old Closed Corporations that were the only “urban local government” before the Act of 1835 in England and Wales), he does not order folk about. Families govern their own affairs and do not attack each other (police forces were not compulsory on the counties of England and Wales till 1856). There is plenty of (moral – traditional) authority, but little naked “power”.

I think it is obvious show this view of Conservatism is close to libertarianism (hence “Tory Anarchist”) – a friend not a foe. But is it tied to Hayek and his philosophical opinions?

No it is not – which is why I mentioned Oakeshott and Tolkien (two Conservatives with very different philosophical opinions to Hayek). Both Oakeshott and Tolkien believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise).

Even in the 18th century Conservatives did not follow the philosophical opinions of David Hume (again IF they were his opinions – I repeat this is hotly contested). Neither the Tory Conservative Dr Johnson or the Old Whig Conservative Edmund Burke (a real Old Whig – unlike Hayek) accepted determinism and the denial of human personhood (moral choice – the ability to choose to do otherwise). Edmund Burke and Dr Johnson (the Whig and the Tory) both believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise) and were moral universalists (not just Dr Johnson – but Edmund Burke also, for the T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson view of his is totally wrong, to Burke it did not matter if something happened in the Middle Ages or right now, in India or America – right was right and wrong was wrong).

Is this the only view of Conservatism?

Of course not – there are other views of Conservatism. For example the statism of Disraeli (with his life long commitment to “social reform” – yuk).

However, that is hardly “doing nothing” (against those who do not themselves aggress against others). The Tauist Old King Log sitting in the shade – rather than Young King Stork “helping” his subjects by eating them.

Why I am Moving to California

I’d say $ 10,000,000 in gold coins is a good reason…wouldn’t you?

Couple who found $10 million in gold coins may have to pay half to taxman

A couple who unearthed America’s biggest buried treasure trove may have to split their jackpot with the tax authorities

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One of the coins, a so-called 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is said to be valued at $1 million on its own Photo: AFP

By Nick Allen, Los Angeles

2:43PM GMT 28 Feb 2014

A California couple who discovered $10 million worth of gold coins while walking their dog on their property, the greatest ever buried treasure find in the United States, could lose nearly half of their windfall in tax.

[SNIP discussion of tax situation]

In the latest find, 1,400 mint condition gold coins, dating to the mid-to-late 1800s, were discovered in eight decaying metal cans in Northern California’s so-called Gold Country, where the 1849 Gold Rush took place.

The finders want to remain anonymous amid fears of having their property swamped by treasure hunters.

One of the coins, a so-called 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is said to be valued at $1 million on its own.

The couple took their find to Don Kagin, a renowned coin dealer near San Francisco, who said about 90 per cent of the coins would be sold on Amazon.

In an anonymous interview released by Mr Kagin, in which the couple were called “John” and “Mary”, they told of their shock.

Mary said: “I was looking down in the right spot and saw the side of the can. I bent over to scrape some moss off and noticed that it had both ends on it. John used a stick to dig up the first can. We took it back to the house, it was very heavy.”

John added: “Heavy enough that we needed to take a little breather before getting back to the house. It was getting towards evening and the light was fading. I said to Mary ‘Wow, this thing is heavy. It must be full of lead paint’. I couldn’t figure out what in the world would weigh that much.

“Right after making the comment about it possibly being paint, the lid cracked off and exposed a rib of a single gold coin. I knew what I was looking at immediately. I looked around over my shoulder to see if someone was looking at me. I had the idea of someone on horseback in my head. It’s impossible to describe really, the strange reality of that moment.

“I clamped the lid back on. I had found a can of gold coins and I thought there was a zero percent chance of Mary believing me. When I told her, there was a look of bewilderment. Her mouth was so wide open flies could have flown in and out several times.

“Of course, it was a very surreal moment. It was very hard to believe at first. I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear.

“Like a lot of people lately we’ve had some financial trials. I feel extreme gratitude that we can keep our beloved property. I dug a hole under the wood pile and got a slab of green board to cover it, put the coins in plastic bags, then put them in a box inside an old ice chest and buried them. Yeah, the old-timers had it right – it’s safer than in a bank.”

Mary said: “We went back to the site and a foot to the left of the first can we broke into another can. In the process we used a small hand shovel and a few coins scattered. It was so decomposed only half of that can was left. It was like looking at a pocket of coins. It was like finding a wonderful hot potato. It took us awhile to get the guts to Google what coins we had.

“Whatever answers you seek, they might be right at home. The answer to our difficulties was right there under our feet for years. Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can.”

Richard A. Epstein: When, How Should Courts Override Legislatures?

Please, do not miss this 1:26:33 of Prof. Epstein’s inimitable and marvellous discourse. Indescribably educational, and, of course, fascinating; and this one is particularly wide-ranging. My quibble-quotient here is tiny and is swamped by the education effect. The UT description:

Published on May 21, 2012

Richard A. Epstein, legal scholar and author, visits the Dole Institute to discuss courts grounds to invalidate the constitution.

Filmed on October 19, 2006 at the Dole Institute of Politics.

Iconoclastic.

Over the last week or so there has been a frankly demented outcry over some prospective Lib Dem (yeah, I know) tweeting an image from the rather tame Jesus and Mo online comic. Apparently over 20,000 signed a petition and there have been the predictable death threats. Always with the death threats..

Meanwhile…

In Saudi Arabia this has been happening.

Under Saudi rule, it has been estimated that since 1985 about 95% of Mecca’s historic buildings, most over a thousand years old, have been demolished.

Historic sites of religious importance which have been destroyed by the Saudis include five of the renowned “Seven Mosques” initially built by Muhammad’s daughter and four of his “greatest Companions”: Masjid Abu Bakr, Masjid Salman al-Farsi, Masjid Umar ibn al-Khattab, Masjid Sayyida Fatima bint Rasulullah and Masjid Ali ibn Abu Talib.

It has been reported that there now are fewer than 20 structures remaining in Mecca that date back to the time of Muhammad. Other buildings that have been destroyed include the house of Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad, demolished to make way for public lavatories; the house of Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s companion, now the site of the local Hilton hotel; the house of Muhammad’s grandson Ali-Oraid and the Mosque of abu-Qubais, now the location of the King’s palace in Mecca; Muhammad’s birthplace, demolished to make way for a library; and the Ottoman-era Ajyad Fortress, demolished for construction of the Abraj Al Bait Towers.

[Emphasis mine]

Now, note the Braj Al Bait Towers. Here is a picture of the monstrosity which looks like something Stalin might have thought of after watching Tim Burton’s Batman. Here it is.

Lovely isn’t it? It of course houses a five star hotel and a twenty(!) storey shopping mall. A small note of interest is that the prime contractors were the Saudi binLaden Group. A more significant note of interest is that if you look right at the bottom that is the Masjid al-Haram – the Great Mosque and the site of the Kaaba and the global focus of Islam. Amazing. Apparently this vandalism of history is much the same in Medina and I suppose elsewhere. Can you even begin to imagine such whole scale destruction of Christian heritage*? Oh, we’ve had our moments (the puritans, Luftwaffe, RAF and Red Army spring to mind as do post WWII civil planners). But really this is on a different scale all together. Can you even begin to imagine the likes of an agnostic like moi deciding to build a fucking ASDA on the site of St. Cuthbert’s Tomb in Durham Cathedral? No you can’t because I wouldn’t. And dear Gods! I would not stand alone.

You know I would not let it happen. And I have a tyre iron. I found it in the shed. I find useful things in sheds.

Anyway… There is a thread to this. It is shirk. This is the Islamic concept of idolatory… So no saints, no shrines, nothing but the Kaaba overshadowed by the third tallest building on the planet. That is the Saudi excuse. They are salafists which means they are gits. What of the other Muslims? The ones who don’t feel like this? Where are they? They can go mental over a pizzeria in Gaza but this is their foundation destroyed by the House of Saud, the self-proclaimed “Guardians” of Islam. And let’s talk turkey here. Is this really shirk? Or is it not just money? You looked at the cost of the Hajj recently? In a five star hotel? I can’t believe we give them the time of day let alone sell them Eurofighter Tiffies. I wouldn’t trust them with a box of matches.

No, I’m seriously pissed off. At some level heritage comes with a cost. The cost is looking after it and not building a khazi there. Ultimately I guess this is self-defeating. How can a culture stand if it, in a cavalier manner, demolishes it’s ancient built environment? And indeed does so because of a single (though growing) strand of fundamentalism. Most of the planet’s 1+ billion Muslims would regard this as pillage. I agree. It is time to stand. It is time for all to stand. Actually it is past it really but we can but try.

Just a final point. Following the 1967 war the Israeli’s captured East Jerusalem. They considered dynamiting the Dome of the Rock – the third holiest site in Islam – where Muhammed entered Heaven. They did not do this. The Saudis have done much worse. The Saudis have wrecked more Islamic stuff than Israel ever did or could. Why then do the Jews get the stick for it? Why not Saudi?

I think we know why. The Saudis have a magic cheque book and are knee-deep in petrol.

*It goes without saying that pre-Islamic sites, both extant and archaeological have been destroyed.

The War against Eastasia: Theatre: The Paranoid Style in Libertarianism

Single Acts of Tyranny proposes to tyrannize us by destroying our fondest dream, which is that hell is the creation of the Devil which takes the form of bringing to Humanity that most desirable of conditions, happiness and joy — O hell, World PEACE, happiness and joy — by denying us everything that any human being could possibly need or want. In this case, the sense of physical sweetness that sugar brings us.

Now along comes Perfesser “Nudge” Sunstein, who says, “No such thing”: It’s all the woolly-minded Paranoid Libertarians, who broadcast to us the Sirens’ wail in the form of warnings against such things as slippery-slope arguments, plus four more dreadful paranoid ploys.

On the other hand, the Comments to the articule (what an apt typo! think I’ll leave it) seem to be running rather heavily against what they see as the Prof’s muddying of the waters.

Actually, it’s my observation that as soon as you let the meaning of words (that is, their meaning in Standard English, since there does have to be a standard for interpretation somewhere or “it’s deuces wild”) — as soon as you let the meaning of words become unmoored from their core meaning in Standard English, you are deep into the territory of the Slippery Slope and worse. Mr. Whittle did a wonderful illustration of how this works, on a Trifecta a few years back. If you have a “standard” as opposed to “basic” (but still paid) membership, I think it is, you can still watch it.

But I’m O/T there. The point is that ANY argument can, in my experience, be stretched to prove anything whatsoever, if you have just the teensiest bit of imagination. And Lefties are loaded with it, as long it informs them that their plans will work so well that they should just naturally have the final say.

Go, read — including the Comments, until you get bored: there are 288 of them so far, some meaty — and be Enlightened.

PS: Acts, no offense. That first line is my idea of humor. I do like your idea of putting 5 kg. of sugar in jail, though. Maybe it work to help me lose a little around the hips. :>)

Optimism – short term and long term.

I am sometimes (and quite rightly) accused of being gloomy – “reading a post from Paul is often like reading a suicide note”. So I have decided to write a very brief optimistic post.

Short term optimism….

Next year will see less of an obsession in music with Wagner, Verdi and Benjamin Britton – yes they all have great merit, but then have been done to death this year (anniversaries). So I am very much looking forward to 2014 (and less of them).

Also, in the United States, the midterm 2014 elections will go very well indeed and so will the 2016 elections – errr I will not go into the reasons why (this is supposed to be a non gloomy post).

The long term…….

The latter part of the 21st century will (I believe) be very good indeed.

The Welfare States will have gone bankrupt – which YES will lead to terrible suffering, but that suffering will be long over by the later part of the 21st century (it will just be a terrible memory – and for the young not even that). The same is true of the credit bubble financial system – yes it will have gone bankrupt, but in 50 years that will also be just a memory (and for the young – again not even that).

Technology will have come into its own in the latter part of the 21st century (it really will) the problems with such things as solar cells and nuclear FUSION (beyond fission) will have been solved and cheap electrical power will be available.

Also the technology of making things (including some materials) from common materials will be worked out by the late 21st century (yes nanotechnology – but not just that) – so people will no longer be so dependent on scarce raw materials. Also transport will have advanced to the stage where to travel anywhere in the world will only take a few hours – and power will be available to travel to the Moon or even the planet Mars.

Yes the supply of things will NOT be unlimited – but things will be a lot cheaper than they are now.

For those of you still alive in 50 years life will be good – very good. The coming collapse will NOT be like the fall of the Roman Empire – because the Romans did not produce a revolution in technology, our civilisation (in spite of its flaws) has done, and the technology WILL REMAIN and it WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOPED by free people in various parts of the world (oh yes the plans for “World Governance”,  world slavery, will fail – “international cooperation” between the elites of statists will, in fact, break down). Indeed the development in technology in the late 21st century will be astonishing – it truly will.

Now do your best to get there. To get to the late 21st century.

The stupid viciousness of stateism – at the local level.

There is a hole in the pavement near where I live – some workmen are doing something or other. The hole is not very big – it would be easy to put a fence round the hole whilst still giving people room to walk round it, but no…….

Instead of just having a fence round the whole, the entire pavement is blocked. Of course people could walk on the pavement on the other side of the road (as is the case with some other work in the town…. actually forcing people to walk on the other side of the road is pointless in this case – but that would be another story), but the powers-that-be have another idea……

Instead of people walking on the other side of the road, there is a fencing along the middle of the main road,,. allowing people to walk in the road (rather that walk on the pavement on the other side of this narrow road). The fencing is right at a CHOKE POINT where the narrow main road crosses on a bridge into the town. Reducing a two lane busy road to a one lane road.

Yes. you guessed it gentle reader, there are terrible nightmare traffic jams.

I do not claim that this is sabotage – that the officials who gave the orders have a deliberate plan to cause chaos. The regulations (“health and safety” or whatever) are just stupid – and they are applied with a lack of concern for the harm they do, that does indeed amount to viciousness.

Complain? There is no point – no point at all.

Complain to a local councillor? I am one – I know we have no power. Complain to a County Councillor? They have no power either. Complain to officials (of the “Highways Agency” or whatever) “we are just following policy” would be the response.

The road has no private owner, no one who really cares whether the people who try to use the road can use it or not.

It is all hopeless.

Morrissey, the consumer monkey.

Both the Mash and the Guardian (!) have both kicked Mozzer.

Excellent stuff.

From the Mash…

“On The Smiths re-forming, he writes: “Work with those trio of twats? Sod that. Mike Joyce has still got my belt sander and he bleeding well knows it.”

Morrissey never had a belt-sander. Does he look like the kinda guy who even has a set of screwdrivers? Does he fuck! If you want a shelf putting-up ask me, ask your Dad but don’t ask Mozzer. He will recoil in horror because you have cheese in the fridge. And then write a dreadful song about it.

The Guardian has this (but read the whole thing, like the whole Mash article)…

Sod Morrissey, a bitter, old hasbeen who a couple of years ago told the Guardian that “it’s a relief to feel relaxed in more places than just one” (he has homes in Los Angeles, Rome, Switzerland and Britain) and who called the Chinese a “subspecies” for their treatment of animals.

The class that he now represents – a middle-aged, capital-rich, metropolitan elite – doesn’t give a toss about you. They’ve proved it in every way it is possible to prove.

Like HS2, like windmills, like all the rest? Yup. Mozzer is the ultimate last twat up the ladder onto the Zeppelin and laughing self-righteously as he does it. He is the “Last of the international playboys”. He is a complete and utter wanker.

The Guardian article goes on to witter on about how 40-something white males are Mozzer’s last fans. Well, speaking as a 40 year old white male I never liked him when I was 15. Oh, there were Smiths fans at my school but they were all professional miserablists like Mozzer himself.

I prefer Blondie.

All your knickers are taxed by us!

But, if you think about it, that is true of all commodities. They are all composed of essentially indestructible base materials, which are always scarce to a degree and which would cause inherent problems if they all wound up being owned by a small group of people in the future. There is nothing particularly special about land, other than the fact that it is one of the easiest commodities to “harvest” in terms of labour input and that laying claim to it is inherently visible.

If you are against private ownership of land, you are against private ownership of all commodities.

- Jaded Voluntarist, Samizdata commenting on a post about Land Value Tax.

I agree with JV but would go further. It appears to me the basic argument for LVT is to kind of force people to be “productive” with their assets. It seems it takes almost a moral view on this. I don’t know in what sense JV meant “commodity” but I see no reason, if you accept the LVT logic, not to extend this argument to all property from a heap of coal (a commodity in the technical sense) to things that aren’t commodities but just “stuff people own”.

Let’s say you own a helicopter. Why not, by the LVT logic, should you not pay Air-transport Value Tax on the chopper because you might decide to use it to run an air-taxi business? Well, why not? Those hundred acres you own might similarly be used to raise crops, build houses or whatever in exactly the same way.

So, you don’t have a hundred acres or a whirly-bird but I bet you have a computer? So why not Website Development Tax on the basis of owning a computer?

To take it to a sort of reductio ad absurdam in terms of possessions – what of underwear? You might have those frillies and posing pouches for purely personal reasons but that doesn’t mean they can’t potentially be used to pursue a career as an “exotic dancer” (or similar) any less than the hundred acres of land be used to enter into organic market-gardening? So why not just tax them the same way?

My point here is that if the mere ownership of land can can be taxed on the basis of it’s perceived economic potential then so can everything else. The LVT principle means an undermining of the entire principle of private property whether the mightiest of estates or the skimpiest of g-strings.

PS. And before anyone starts… I appreciate foxy underwear doesn’t last as long as land but in much the same way your underwear drawer’s contents need maintaining with a continual influx of expenditure so does property if you want to maintain the value of either.

Liberalism and Nationalism – a fatal 19th century alliance?

Libertarians sometimes say that we are really “classical liberals”, “19th century liberals”.

Of course if I actually found myself in Victorian Kettering my political opinions (against the establishment of a School Board, anti prohibition of booze, hostile to land nationalisation or even taxation…….) would mark me as a “Conservative” indeed an “arch Conservative” or a “blackhearted reactionary Conservative” (which, of course, is exactly what I am).

But let us leave aside these irritating “fact” things, and go off into generalities…..

There was a  strain of 19th century liberalism that was pro freedom (even if I can not find much evidence that it ever existed in Kettering – centre of the universe). Indeed “Liberalism” was the international movement that declared itself pro freedom – dedicated to reducing the size and scope of government.

In Britain such things as 1835 Muncipal Reform Act were intended to sweep away the corrupt Tory dominated closed corporations and lower the rates (the property taxes). Of course the actual result (in Manchester and virtually everywhere else) is that the rates went UP – but the intention was good. And, indeed, such Liberal party leaders as Gladstone really did work to reduce government spending and taxes – and with some success (at least till 1874). And some Conservative party leaders (such as Disraeli) were vile statist ………

However, the major liberal thinkers in Britain in the 19th century (at least the mid to late 19th century) present a confused picture. The thought of people such as J.S. Mill and Walter Bagehot (and so on) seems pro freedom when one first glances at it – but the more one examines it in detail the less pro freedom (pro driving back the size and scope of the state) it is.

But it would take an essay (or book) to show fully what I mean…………………………………………………………..

In Europe and Latin America also “Liberal” meant the party of freedom – but it does get a bit harder to argue the case in practice.

In Latin America “Liberal” basically meant “someone who robs the Church” as that is what Latin American Liberals seem to have concentrated on – with anticlericalism being a sort of religion in-its-self with them. But there were some Liberal (as in freedom) aspects – for example in the 1850s the Columbian Liberals got rid of slavery (also done by Liberal forces in other Latin American countries – the first being Chile in the early years of the 19th century). But there does seem to have been an obsession with “nation building” – with Liberals being associated with state education systems, and “national this” and “national that”.

In Europe the picture is not wonderful either.

In France things are best in terms of what “Liberal” meant – with the French “Liberal School of Political Economy” being solidly libertarian, the Say family, Bastiat and so on. And having a positive influence in the United States (the leading American free market economist of the 19th century was A.L. Perry – a follower of Bastiat). Even as late as the 1920s 1930s Irving Babbit (the leader of the “New Humanism” in literature) was a follower of French civilisation – and an enemy of the statism he associated with German thought.

Hard for us to think of French thinkers as defenders of “capitalist” civilisation – but perhaps we should remember such modern thinkers as Bertrand de Jouvenel and (leaving economics but not the defence of civilisation) Jacques Barzun – who died in Texas last year, the last living link with the old French civilisation, the civilisation that all those left bank degenerates revolted against.

Once French “Liberal School” thinkers (not British thinkers – as British liberal economic thought was a bit of a mess, Walter Baghot, J.S. Mill, Alfred Marshall) were indeed the main counter weight to Germanic statist thought in the United States.  It is only later that the “Austrian School”  took on the antistaist role of the French School in American thought – with, perhaps, the first Amercan thinker to be an open follower of the “Austrian School” being Frank Fetter.

People such as Richard Ely (and his followers “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) may have wanted to destroy Germany – but only because they wanted to turn the United States into a new (and more extreme) version of Germany. Of course a more extreme version of Imperial Germany was eventually created, but not in the United States (as the Progressives were pushed back by Conservative forces in America) – but by the National Socialists in the 1930s, who adopted many American Progressive ideas (such as the extermination of the “inferior”) which had met determined opposition in the United States itself (almost needless to say, the true evil of the American Progressive movement does not appear in mainstream American history books – where they are presented as true “liberals”).

But in Switzerland, Germany and Italy things were less clear than in France.

In Switzerland – liberalism became associated with centralisation (with the destruction of the independence of the Cantons after the was of 1947 – in order to persecute Catholics, religious persection of the Jesuits may be “Liberal” but it is not libertarian) and the increase in the size and scope of the Central government after the 1874 Constitution – and in stages since then. Although, it should be pointed out, that the 20th century Liberal party in Switzerland was opposed to further centralisation – and was considered the opposite of the Social Democrats who became part of the Swiss govenrment in 1959 (and still are part of the Swiss government).

In Germany things were not good either. German liberalism was obsessed with nationalism. This became clear in 1848 – when the energies of the liberals were entirely devoted to building up a “nation called Germany” (an idea about as positive as the obsession with a “nation called Europe” is now).

Such a “unification” could only lead to higher taxes and so on (because of the reduction of tax and regulation competition between the various polities of the old Germany) – but the liberals (for the most part) did not seem to care about that.

Indeed even the opposition (it is wrong to call it resistance – as the liberals did not fire a shot) to the extra Parliamentary taxation (plundering) of Bismark after 1861 was not opposition to higher taxes as such, but just over who should increase the taxes.

That taxes “had to be” increased, in order to build up the Prussian Army to “unify” Germany (by such things as attacking Denmark, Austria and France……) was taken for granted by most Germans “liberals”. They just wanted to be in charge of doing it.

The Prussian liberals eventually split – into the “National Liberals” (who were Bismark’s slaves – till he turned on them as a “party of Jews”), and the “Progressives” who just went on about “civil liberties” (keeping rather quiet about the private property rights upon which civil liberties really depend) who eventually became the slaves of the Social Democrats (who, it should be remembered, were full socialists in Germany till the conference of 1959 when they moderated their position).

Bismark’s takeover of places such as the Kingdom of Hanover (and the increase in taxes upon the local people) do not seem to have produced much opposition from German Liberals.

Even the later creation of the Prussian Welfare State (with its roots in the “Police State” thinking of Frederick the Great and so on – long before) and Progressive (graduated) income taxation – seem to have only been opposed by a few isolated Liberal thinkers (not the mass of Liberal thought).

It is somewhat of a mircle that the few isolated thinkers that were all that was left of  “economic liberalism” in Germany by the Second World War (in the face of the German “Historical School” effort to wipe them out) were able to lauch such a comeback after World War II – although they were helped by the utter collapse of the National Socialists (the Nazis) and the wretched mess that the international socialists (the Marxists) produced in  East Germany. People (especially Catholic Conservatives) were looking for something else – and the few pro private enterprise (as opposed to Progressive) “liberal” thinkers in Germany provided it.

People (not just big “capitalists”) all sorts of people were looking for ideas that WORKED (a very German demand – as in the positive side of the German spirit) and the, relatively, free market policies offered to Germany from 1948 onwards did work.

And 19th century Italy?

Perhaps worst of all.

Mussolini was to say that his Fascism (all power to the state) was the “opposite of liberalism” (with its desire to reduce the size and scope of the state).

But there is little evidence for this in 19th century Italy (bar a few islolated thinkers) – on the contrary Italian Liberalism was obsessed with “unification”.

What did this mean in practice? In meant language persecution (with places like Venice having Tuscan forced down upon the people – as “standard Italian”), it meant conscription (for example Sicily did not have conscription before “unification”), it meant plundering (of Churches in Rome – and of private banks in Naples, whose wealth went to the new “Italian Treasury”) and it meant HIGHER TAXES.

Taxes in the South of Italy (the old Kingdom of Naples and Sicily) basically doubled – no wonder so many Southern Italians fled their “liberation” to go all the way to the United States. But a century and a half of brainwashing state eduation have made Italians forget all this – and resistance (which lasted for decades in Sicily) is written up as “bandit activity”.

In spite of its high taxes, the Liberal Kingdom of Italy was always on the verge of bankrutpcy – going from pratfall to pratfall till it collapsed in the face of the Fascists in the 1920s.

What to make of all this?

Well Karl Marx had no trouble explaining the contradiction between the pro freedom words of the Liberals and there less than pro freedom actions.

To him liberalism was just an “ideology” representing the “interests of the capitalists” – so governments would do what was in the interests of these “capitalists”.

The trouble with the Marxist account is that it is not true. For example some big business enterprises may have gained by Italian government’s Imperial adventures – but most big business enterprises lost by the high taxation and the messed up national finances.

In Germany Bismark never ruled in the interests of business – on the contrary he secretly subsidized the first socialists (whose movement he only turned against when it became powerful) in order to scare business people into not imposing his high tax policies (it is me or the Reds lads), and the people who followed Bismark were worse than he was. It is always possible to find business enterprises who benefit from statism – but that does not alter the fact that most of “big business” LOSES by it.

So what does explain why liberalism fell so short of its promise?

Anti clericalism is part of it – for example in Germany the Liberals mostly strongly supported Bismark’s “War of Culture” persecution of the Roman Catholics. Hardly a libertarian position – and one that made their own position, as Liberals, an isolated one. After all why should the Catholics support the Liberals when Bismark turned upon the latter as a “party of Jews”? The Liberals had not supported the freedom of the Catholics. And the Catholics (from 1891) fell more and more into forms of economic interventionism of their own – becomming the divided group of people they still are (Catholic “Social Teaching” is actually riven by rival “interpretations”).

But the main factor was the obsession with the “nation”.

Liberals rejected loyality to the old Kings and Princes (or to the little Free Cities) and they certainly rejected loyality to an international Church.

But they had a loyalty of their own – to the new “nation state” (whether in Latin America, Europe, or the “New Nationalism” and “New Freedom” of the American Progressive moverment which corrupted American liberalism – once American liberals had opposed the Progressives, but by the 1920s they had become one and the same, only the most reactionary elements in American life, the American versions of “Colonel Blimp and the old school tie” stood up in defence of Civilisation against the Progressive onslaught of eugenics and other horrors – much as the Hapsburgs, and other such, stood against it in Europe).

This Progressive nationalism (the interests of “the nation”, “the people”), not the “squalid interests of the capitalists”, eventually became the guiding light of liberalism.

But it collapsed in the horror of the unlimited “total wars” – the First World War and the Second World War.

“Well at least liberals have rejected nationalism now Paul”.

Yes they certainly have – so totally that they have forgotten that they were nationalists – and, sadly, they have replaced it with something WORSE.

There was always an elment in the New Liberalism (Progressivism) that was not satisfied with nationalism – after all some nations might collapse into “reactionary” forms of thought (perhaps even such “absurdities” as “natural law” like the more reactionary Catholics, Protestants and Jews).

The most “learned” (in the sense of the vile twisted “wisdom” one gets from, say, studying the works of Sauron – the basis of so much social sciences and humanities work in the universities and schools….) Progressives were never really satisfied with the tup thumping Proto National Statism of someone like “Teddy” Roosevelt – a man whose bark was often worse than his bite – for example he might not with agreement to an argument that blacks were inferior, but exterminate them? not a chance, he “even” used the same toilets as black people – which an “intellectual” such as Woodrow Wilson would never do. Deep down there was still something of the reactionary “gentleman” about T. Roosevelt (for all his Progressive ideas). And there was a fear that such people could never “rise above” the petty and weak ideas of their national traditions.

A true Progressive intellectual (such as Woodrow Wilson) thought on a WORLD scale.

They still worshipped the state – but it was (in their muddy dreams) a WORLD state. With nowhere, anywhere, for the “reactionary” and “inferior” to flee to.

Only a world state could ever truly be the new “God” – to replace the old fashioned (“bearded man in the sky”) view of God, that Progressive “Social Gospel” thought wished to transform into a religion of “the people” and “collective salvation”.

Even Woodrow Wilson never quite “freed himself” from the “moral chains of good and evil” that had been taught to him in childhood – and by the habits of his nation.

Marxism and other developments of international collectivism really made an impact later – cutting off the last links with concepts of “good” and “evil” in terms of personal conduct and honour.

The world state would not be a “state” – it would be “the people” the new “God”. And good would be (as with extreme theological “voluntarism” which is similar to legal and philosophical “Positivism”) whatever served the interests of this new “God” as worked out by the “enlightened elite”. Whether they called themselves, Marxist, Progressive, or “Liberal”.

As terrible as the 19th century alliance between Liberalism and Nationalism was – the 21st century alliance between Liberalism and COLLECTIVIST “internationalism” may prove to be even worse.

Was the chief long term victim of the Hundred Years War limited government in France?

I have been rereading a couple of works that I have not looked at in many years – Sir John Fortescue’s “In Praise of the Laws of England” and “Of the difference between absolute and limited monarchy”.

Fortescue was writing in the late 1400s – at the time of the so called “Wars of the Roses” in England, but it is his picture of France that interests me here.

Some of what Fortescue writes is exaggerated, even bigoted. But there is, sadly, much truth in the picture he presents of France.

By the late 1400s France was a land where (as with Roman Empire) the professional army of the King could demand that people in towns and villages give them anything they needed (or claimed to need). And where the Estates General (the French Parliament) had given up the right to regularly approve (or decide NOT to approve) taxation – with th nobles of France having been bought off by imunity from most (although not all) taxation.

Also any ordinary person could be condemned to death in France by the King’s judges without anything that would be understood as a proper trial in England.

Roman law (in the sense of the Roman law of the Empire – with the Prince being above the law and able to change the law by his own WILL) had triumphed in France – with such “feudal” ideas as juries swept away. Louis XI (“Louis the Spider”) sat in his dark tower making up webs of “laws” on the basis of his whims, much like a Roman Emperor.

However, France had not always been like this. Once the nobles, townsmen and freemen of France had been strong in the defence of their liberties – and had forced such Kings as Charles the Bald to recognise them.

Indeed, for example, such things as even the King of France not having the right to take the land held by one family and give it to another had been accepted as an “old right” even as far back as the 877 Edict of Quierzy.

Juries (first, of course, as a form of gaining evidence rather than deciding a verdict) actually came to England from northern France – yet in France (by the time of Fortescue) they had been suppressed. After all one could not have a local group of freemen giving their formal view, either as evidence or as judgement, of the facts of the case – that might limit a judge in his desire to execute people, or to torture them (“putting the question” another feature of late Roman law) till they confessed.

So what had changed? How had such things as eternal taxation (as opposed to taxation considered as a emergency matter – to be approved, each time, by the Estates General) come to be? How had the French King mutated into something close to a Roman Emperor?

My own view is that the so called “hundred years war” with England (mostly faught on the soil of France) was the main factor in the transformation of France from having a limited government – to something that, whilst not totally without limits, was close to be like the government of the Roman Empire (unlimited government).

French desperation to survive conquest, and the desperate desire for “order” (as armed men of many masters and none plundered and killed in most of the country) led to the French people placing vast power in the hands of the government.

Remember what were considered terrible and exceptional circumstances in England during the so called “War of the Roses” had been the NORM in France for around a century.

It may be this that so transformed France from a land of limited government – to what Richard Burke (the son of Edmund Burke) was later to call a land where “the state was all in all”.

Bile.

Yesterday I sent an airmail letter to the Prime Minister of Vietnam. This is something I rarely do.

This is fairly urgent…

So please make some noise about it. And you all have the ‘net – you know how.

Ministry of Defence issues eviction order.

Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre faces eviction from Tam Dao National Park, following an aggressive campaign by the park director, Do Dinh Tien.

On Friday 5 October, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) informed Animals Asia that the Ministry of Defence has issued an order to evict the sanctuary operation and its 104 rescued bears. This follows Mr Tien lobbying the Ministry of Defence to declare the sanctuary to be an area of “national defence significance”.

Mr Tien has been pressuring Animals Asia to relinquish the land since April 2011. It is believed that he intends to hand it over to the Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock Company, in which his daughter has an investment. This company has submitted an application for development of an “eco-tourism park” and hotels on the site.

The closure of the rescue centre would have a severe impact:

104 bears, rescued from Vietnam bear bile farms and smugglers – evicted

77 local Vietnamese staff – unemployed

US$2 million – investment in building and development by Animals Asia – lost

The word on the street is that this “military requirement” is a stalking horse for the minister’s daughter who wants (I am not joking here) to set-up alleged “eco-park” hotel-complex and such and evict the bears. So people who carbon-offset their holidays can feel good about themselves whilst destroying an animal sanctuary. The whole thing stinks. I think we must call for Mr Bond. He seemed to be involved with thwarting a dodgy “eco-hotel” recently.

“We are desperate to ensure that the rescue centre is not closed down and relocated. The welfare of 104 bears, who have already suffered enough, would be seriously compromised, and the rescue centre and US$2 million in donations would be lost. We’re calling on the public, and the media, both in Vietnam and overseas to urgently appeal to the Prime Minister of Vietnam for justice, and to let him know their feelings on this terrible threat to the bears’ welfare.”

-Jill Robinson MBE, Dr.med.vet. h.c, Founder and CEO of Animals Asia.

I have mentioned this charity before. My wife supports it (she did the Manchester 10km run for it) and is very upset about this. So am I. And I know some of you folks gave a fair few quid to this excellent charity. So I don’t ask for further financial support but I do ask kinda differently this time. This is state corruption and that above almost anything is what we ought to stand against. My wife, me and some of you (thanks!) have monies given on completely honest terms only for a corrupt state to line their own pockets by a blatantly false flag equivalent of a compulsory purchase order on a charity that had hitherto had the “full support” of the Vietnamese government. Yeah, I know, it’s like football management. When the board says they are, “Standing behind the manager” you just know they have the daggers sharpened.

Let me add some more…

Bear bile is not only horrifically cruel to the bears but so insanitary is it it is not only dangerous medicine and to the extent it works there are alternatives that do not require such cruelty but proper, cheaper drugs and ones that don’t carry the considerable risk of infectious disease to humans are available.

My wife’s adopted bear, called January died, but she now has Wilfred. And yes, that is the blog of the Animals Asia founder Jill Robinson. Might I add that cage that Wilfred was in is relatively generous compared to the ones most bears are kept in for frequently a quarter of a century with their gall bladders tapped. The Chinese government wants to end this (they want for all their sins to appear modern and civilized and their burgeoning middle class do care about animals and as I said this can be injurious to human health). The Vietnamese Government seems to have back-slid on this because the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (and that is how they style themselves) has ministers that are going for the buck in the nastiest way.

The claim that the land in question is an area of national defence significance is questionable, given that the centre has been in operation since 2005 and that the Chat Dau Valley, where it is located, has been used for tourism and other private purposes since the park opened in 1996.

It is believed that once the bear centre is forced to close, the land will be declared to no longer be of national defence significance, allowing the Truong Giang Joint Stock Company to take it over for private development.

The eviction is in direct violation of the Vietnam government’s 2005 agreement with Animals Asia to fund and develop a facility on 12 hectares of the park that would permanently rehabilitate and house 200 endangered bears rescued from the illegal bear bile industry. Based on this agreement, Animals Asia has invested more than US$2 million in building and infrastructure.

And that is the rub. This is a naked stalking horse for vile corruption and for a usurpation of property rights on the grounds of that classic coverall of defence. A beut is that one given that you can D notice or whatever any discussion on the grounds of “national security”.

It is a fine charity (some aren’t of course). My wife and I don’t support causes without a good look-see. What appears to be happening is a charity welcomed with open arms by a government is having the rug pulled due to the greed and duplicity of a minister of that government who has played the “security card” from the bottom of the deck. If the Vietnamese government are made to know that they risk international ill-will and a fall in tourist Dollars, Yen, Euros and Pounds because of this depraved and Machiavellian scheme to make a minister’s daughter rich by blatant chicanery then they might think again. So go make some noise. Let them know.

Here’s a good start point.

Write to Vietnam. The postcards I sent from Paris recently saying like the Musée d’Orsay is like awesome cost EUR1.35. The airmail letter to the Vietnamese PM cost GBP1.28. Let them know we care about corruption (and why – why the stable rule of law – and not the whim of a Politburo member – encourages investment). Let them know that destroying part of an organisation aimed at ending an evil trade that is already (technically) against Vietnamese law will mean that regardless of the wonderful things to see in their chunk of South East Asia we’re going to Thailand instead (Mr Tien’s scheme is all about the tourist money-bags so hit ‘em there). Let them know this “traditional cure” causes more harm then good. Let them know they sold that land to Animals Asia in good faith and that we shall not invest in Vietnam when property rights are treated there in such a cavalier fashion. But most of all let them know that that charity has done wonderous things to help prevent (and to deal with the aftermath) of caging and torturing intelligent mammals with mouldering and rusting taps fitted into their abdomens in tiny, filthy cages sometimes for decades. And that that is unacceptable even if this was good medicine which it isn’t.

Let them know if that if they want to be seen as a civilised nation this is just not on.

PS. I’m not sure I have made it clear enough moneys gone to the major effort of Animals Asia in China are OK. They have spent that on buying bears from farmers (in much the same way the British Empire ended slavery – unlike the Septics who did it by having a dreadful war), looking after them.

The terrible year of 1986.

A post on an often overlooked year – 1986. A year in which events occured that had (and are having) terrible consequences.

A British person when hearing of the date “1986″  will think (if they think of anything) of the “Single European Act” – formally it came into effect in 1987, but the agreement was made in 1986. Mrs Thatcher was told that the agreement with the European Economic Community (as some still called it at the time) would lead to free trade, an open market, and was, therefore a good thing for a free market person to agree to.

Of course Mrs Thatcher’s information came from officials – note to all politcians, the moment you start to rely on official information (and interpretations) you are lost. For you are no longer really in power – the officials are.

This is not hidesight – I remember as a university undergraduate knowing what the Single European Act was really about, and my friends all knew as well. We all knew that it meant that the EEC (EC – now EU) would be able to impose any regulation it liked in vast areas of life (the British veto having gone  – in these areas) and under vague words like “health” the Euros would be able to crush liberty in this land. The later works of such people Christopher Booker and Richard North just confirmed what we expected to happen. Lord Denning (and many others) had predicted the crushing of Common Law principles by Euro edicts (of course happily extended by British officials – overjoyed to have all restraints on their power destroyed by the Single European Act) at the time.

It was not an open market – it was a “single market” (a very different thing). In an open market customers decide what they want to buy – in a single market officials decide what customers should buy.

However, other terrible things happened in the year 1986.

The other great evil to hit Britain in 1986 was the “Big Bang” in the City of the London – the financial centre.

“But that was deregulation Paul” – it was deregulation, if by “deregulation” you mean government intervention ripping up the rules of private clubs and subtituting its own rules – a government definition of a “free market” defined not by what people had actually evolved over time (by voluntary interaction), but by following the “perfect competition” model from neoclassical economics text books.

There is some evidence that even the people who originally thought up the perfect competition conception only thought of it as theorectical tool (not as a picture of how the world was – or should be), and certainly the Austrian School of economics disputes the concept from start to finish – but the government went ahead anyway. It knew what a market “should” be – and if the people who actually built the markets thought differently, they must be wrong.

Remember although the London stock exchange was created in 1801, there was no law preventing anyone setting up a rival stock market (not before 1986 anyway). And also no law preventing people buying and selling shares “off exchange”. So the City of London (with all its guild like “restrictive practices”) was actually a voluntary institution. In fact a series of private clubs – covering the selling stocks and shares, insurance, commodities (and so on).

What had “deregulation” actually brought? The end of the great partnerships that created the City (the investment banks) – the partners sold up and ran away (not exactly a vote of confidence in the new order – from people some of whom had been in the City for generations). And the self employed stock brokers (who bought shares for the public) and stock jobbers (who sold shares for companies) were replaced by enterprises that did both (no conflict of interest there) and whose employees tended to have no lasting relationship with clients (they see them as cash cows – no more). And, of course, thousands of pages of government regulations (Financial Services Acts – and agencies to enforce them) with endless box ticking.

Somehow this not really seem like “deregulation” to me – in fact I think it will be the death of the City of London. But only time will tell.

Turning to the United States….

An American will say “1986 is that the year the Republicans lost control of the United States Senate?” – yes it was, but I am not concerned with party politics here. I am concerned with policy.

In 1986 an amnesty Act was passed by the Congress (including the Republican Senate) and signed into law by President Reagan. It was not descibed as an amnesty Act of course – the people who voted for it (and Reagan when he signed it) thought they were “controlling immigration” from this point onwards – and (to start from a clean slate) people who had been in the country a long time (and were nice and good – and had puppy dogs with big eyes) would no longer fear being dragged from their homes by evil jack booted thugs from the government. After all this was how officials (and the media – following academia) explained everything to the politicians, just as they had during the 1965 immigration law debate – which first messed up American immigration law.

“But what is wrong with this Paul – free migration, sounds very libertarian”. So it might be – had the Supreme Court (5-4 some years before 1986) not ruled that government (local, State and Federal) had to give “free” (i.e. paid for by taxpayers) education and other benefits to illegal immigrants – otherwise it was “discriminating” against them.

And the few nice illegals (the ones with the puppy dogs with big eyes – the people who love America dearly and do not wave the Mexican flag and pray for the destruction of the United States, not even slightly) who got amnesty? There turned out to be three million of them and (of course) many more millions of illegals followed them into the United States, believeing that they would eventually also get amnesty. As Comrade Barack is doing by Executive Order right now, after all the illegals vote for him even though they are not citizens, thanks to the “Motor Voter” (a driving license is enough to vote) Act he supported as a Senator.

“We should try to win their support Paul” – a person (regardless of ethnic background) who loves the United States can enter legally right now (join the military – serve your term, and you have citizenship). Yes the American immigration system is a mess (and has been since at least 1965 – the Teddy Kennedy Act), but 1986 made it worse – and made it farcical.  Someone who believes the United States unjustly took land from Mexico in 1848 (ignoring the fact that the Mexican government, a military dictatorship,  also wanted war – and had its own expansionist plans) are not likely to vote for people who do not hate the United States. Odd that they are so eager to vote for Barack Obama – of course not odd at all. But have “free migration” as long as there are no government benefits (“free” education for the children and so on) – except, oh dear, there is that Supreme Court judgement  (see above) of some 30 years ago.

Lastly there is the another major Act of Congress from 1986 – one that may help to destroy civilisation, and not just in the United States.

Again neither the people in Congress or President Reagan understood what they were supporting (the officials, media, and academia – advised them again). They thought they were supporting an Act that prevented evil hospitals throwing women on to the street in the middle of giving birth (seriously – that is how the Act was presented to them, after all it is so wonderful for the reputation of a hospital to throw a women who is the middle of giving birth on to the street, they were doing it all the time……).

What did the Act really do?

It made “emergency” treatment (without proof of payment) compulsory at all private hospitals with an ER (formally a hospital was not covered by the Act if it in no way had anything to do with government schemes – in the age of Medicare try and avoid any involvement with government schemes…..).

Wonderful – free treatment for the poor (indeed for anyone – one might try and chase them up afterwards, but about half of them never pay so what is the point….). Accept someone has to pay to pay for all this “free” treatment – so the bill (as with all government mandates) got passed on to the people who were paying their bills. The people who had carried on with private insurance in spite of the previous government interventions – such as Medicare and Medicaid (which has the same effect on health cover costs as government backing for student loans had on college tuition fees – they sent costs into the upper atmosphere) and the endless regulations (insurance mandates and so on) that have so increased costs. No surprise – insurance bills (that now carry all the “free” treatment) have exploded since 1986.

American government (State and Federal) interventions have been pushing up the cost of healthcare since doctor licensing spread from State to State like a plague (that this is about “protecting the sick” was exposed as a lie by Milton Friedman – more than half a century ago, it really has the same purpose as lawyer licensing, to increase producer incomes by keeping people out of the market) and the FDA (this agency was made even worse in 1962 – turning the development of new medical drugs incredibly expensive and delaying their introduction for years, thus costing tens of thousands of human lives). However, it was the Act of 1986 that really sent American health cover into a death spiral – that pushed the costs of insurance (for the old mutual aid “fraternal” system had long been undermined) beyond the reach of ordinary people.

Most people still oppose “Obamacare” (which will complete the destruction of independent health care in the United States – replaceing it with crony capitalist “private providers” who will depend upon the government – till the government decides to get rid of the crony capitalists, as it already has with the providers of government backed student loans), but the majority of people that are opposed was not a big enough majority to stop it (let alone repeal it). After all  everyone agrees that “something must be done” and the “something” is always even more collectivism – “free” health care for all “children” up to the age of 26 (SCHIP on steroids – but paid for by the insurance companies, i.e. by their customers) no “denial” (i.e. honest priceing) of medical cover for “pre exiting conditions” and on and on – the honest insurance companies (oh yes there are some) will be bankrupted over time, and only the cronies (those in bed with the government – hoping to become “private providers” for government funded health cover) will remain. Already more and more employers are dropping health insurance for their employees – as they have worked out that the fines will be cheaper than paying the inflated (inflated by Obamacare regulations) costs of medical insurance.

Does anyone really believe that Mitt “Romneycare” Romney is going to be willing or able to repeal all this?

So American health care will fall – and more than this will fall. For this entitlement program is added to all the existing entitlements – the ones that are already bankrupting the United States.

So the United States will go into de facto bankruptcy. And it will not fall alone – most other major Western nations stand on the knife edge of economic collapse already. The fall of the United States will drag us over the cliff with it.

So, overall, 1986 was not a good year. It may even lead to the “Progressive” dream (of Richard Ely, mentor of  “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, more than a century ago) of the desruction of “selfish capitalism”. For the history of the last century (including 1986) has not been an accident – and nor has it been some hole-in-the-wall “conspiracy”.  On the contrary it has been out in the open  – for those who bothered to look.

The Progressives were open in their aims – and even in their means. They openly said in their books (the century old books that, for example, Glenn Beck tried to bring to public attention) that they would use schools, universities and the newspapers to fundementally transform society – by manipulating opinion (both public and political elite opinion). Truth does not matter to the Progressives (it has never mattered to them) only their cause matters – and they will use any lie and distortion to further their cause – the cause of the destruction of existing society, of “selfish capitalism”. The Fabians in Britain had much the same aims – and used much the same methods. Including the desire to dominate education – not just at university level, but at school level (via text books and “teacher training” – step forward Comrade Bill Ayers and “social justice” education).

The books are more subtle today – such books as “Looking Backward”, “Philip Dru: Administrator” and “New Deal” (oh yes there was such a book) were a lot more blatent in their love of tyranny and hatred of freedom (sorry hated of selfish capitalism) than “Freakonomics”,  “Nudge” and “Thinking – Fast and Slow”, but they have the same message. The message is as follows …. most people are vermin (“Homer Simpson” types) they are bound to be maniputed by someone (most likely by greedy capitalists) so why should not the noble we (the enlightened elite) manipulate them – for their own good. “Thinking Fast and Slow” is the most fundemental of the lot – it openly denies that people (apart from, nudge and wink, the noble author and his noble readers) are human beings, they do not really think (they do not really have free will) so someone must control them – for their own good……. Yes it is “So You Think That You Think” the fictional collectivist book (aimed at making people accept that they are vermin – fit only to be controlled by an enlightened elite) that Ayn Rand makes up in her novel “Atlas Shrugged” back in the 1950s (the collectivists never really change – and their “science” is actually as old as Plato).

“But Paul – how do you know the authors of Freakonmics and Nudge share the idealogy of the author of Thinking – Fast and Slow?” Errr  – the praise they give the latter work (on its front and back cover – and when interviewed) is a little hint. I did tell you that this was not a hole-in-the-wall conspiracy – it is quite open, if you look. What more do you want – for the evil elite to have glowing red eyes and tenticles? Sorry, but they look like ordinary folk – and have gentle voices full of charming wit (whereas their enemies, people like me, sound like old storm crows).

The Progressives may not share the doctrines of the Marxists (although modern Frankfurt School “cultural” Marxists do not seem to make a big thing of the actual doctrines of Karl Marx either) – but they share their aim (the destruction of selfish capitalism). Ditto the alliance with the Black Flag people (the so called “anarchists” who happily cooperate with the Red Flag Marxists in such things as the international “Occupy” movement and the unions the collectivists control, for you see the Black Flag “anarchists” do not really oppose collectivism, they just want to rename the state “the people” and then get on with the looting and killing) – the Progressives may (privately) sneer and their uncouth allies – but leading Progressives (such as Mr George Soros and the other rich people who fund such things as the “Tides Foundation”) still fund them. And Progressive teachers and college Profs understand that both the Red Flag Marxists and the Black Flag “anarchists” are allies – allies against “selfish capitalism”, the old world they must destroy in order to build their perfect world.

Of course I am a reactionary – I do not believe that the interventions (the ever higher government spending and ever greater regulations) make the world a better place. And many of the Progressives do not believe that either – they believe (along with the Marxists who follow the “Cloward and Piven” doctrine and others) that the ever greater statism will destroy the present world – and, thus, (in their minds) leave things open for the building of the perfect world.

The “Fabian Window” (perhaps the most blatent example of evil turned into a work of art – and the Fabians were natural allies of the Progressives) makes this clear – wolves in sheep’s clothing, trickery and lies (openly praised), the world held over a fire and beaten with hammers (in order to create a better world – regardless of the human cost). George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells openly talked of the tens of millions of human beings they wished to kill (not because they hated them “I do not hate anyone” said Shaw), but simply because they were in the way – in the way of creating the perfect world (the Heaven on Earth). And these evil people remain “liberal” heros to this day – ever seen a television show or a Hollywood film where they are shown as “bad guys”?. And, of course, they went on to support the Soviet Union – with Mr and Mrs Webb pretending that tens of millions of people were not being murdered (remember lying is O.K. if it is for the Progressive cause). Mrs Webb had some doubts, over the mass killings in Poland when the Soviets invaded in 1939 – you know when they were the allies of Adolf Hitler, but Mr Webb simply told her that “in a century no one will even remember this”. All was justified to build the “New Civilisation”.

And the American Progressives were the same. With Hollywood personalities busy doing such things as justifying the Soviet invasion of Finland – “I have been there and it seemed a little Fascist Republic to me” said Lillian Hellman (wife of  Dashiell Hammett [1929 "Red Harvest" evil capitalist America "Poisonville"] – together they made the prototype “celeb” Progressive power couple, both in Hollywood and in literary circles). One could always tell when Hellman was lying – her lips moved, not only was Finland not Fascist but Hellman had not been there.

One could go on and on – and people may already be bored (although in 1986  – and 2012 the Progressive celebs are just as powerful in cultural circles). And there is the standard defence (made by “anti McCarthyites”, even though Joe was actually interested in Communist agents of influence in the government not in the culture,  since the 1940s) “they are not Marxists”.  And they may not be – they may not have read a page of “Das Kapital” . The “Progressives” just share the objectives of the Marxists – the extermination of the existing society of  “selfish capitalism” (and anyone who defends it – rich or poor “henchman of the capitalists”), and the building of the wonderful new perfect world.

However, I am such a reactionary that I not only believe that that their interventionism (their ever higher government spending and ever more regulations) makes the world worse (not better) than it otherwise would be -  I also believe that their wonderful new perfect world (the one they dream of creating on the ashes of the existing world) would be Hell on Earth.

Did Charles the Bald help create the West – by accident.

What is the post Roman West? How does it differ from the Roman Empire?

Well, for example, under the Roman Empire the army was a professional force – it was the state.

The warbands of the Germanic chiefs were not the world of the Middle Ages either – the armies of the Middle Ages were Feudal, the King called upon his land holding vassels and they brought their men to his aid (if they were loyal).

They came from their castles – which were neither the state fortresses of the Roman Empire, or the strongholds of independent rulers.

They were something else – privately owned castles. And a King who tried to take land away from such lords – risked (indeed invited) revolt. But it was more than that – a ruler who took land from those who had inherited it invited contempt (people were outraged by what he had done – he was regarded with disgust) – it was a different world from the late Roman Empire.  So the land went down over the generations (over hundreds of years). And other property (including coin) was also held more securely than under Roman law (at least as it was under the late Empire). A ruler in the Middle Ages might rob Jews with impunity (indeed he might win praise for robbing Jews – but Jews had been robbed and slaughtered by Roman Emperors also) – but to rob other Christians (even though they were Merchants, craftsmen or free peasants) invited contempt and open hatred – something that rival rulers might well use against him (or that the, armed, common people might take revenge for themselves).

Jews often did not even carry weapons (rather like Roman “citizens” under the Empire had not carried weapons – because they were not allowed to) – so they were beneath contempt. But however vile the commons were – they (0r at least the free ones) did carry weapons.
Roman Emperors were not limited in what land they could take by Feudal law – Roman law was whatever the Emperor said it was. The Emperor (the state) had a whim – and the intellectuals duely justified it and made it formal law. Roman legal philosophers reconised the concept of natural law (they even accepted that natural law forbad slavery) – but, to them, it had no practical force in the real world (the will of the state trumped it).

And the feudal landholders who led their men to the aid of the King – how did the travel and how did they fight?

On horseback – they were knights. They looked rather like Roman heavy cavarly of the late Empire – but their weapons and armour were not made in state arms factories (they were privately made), and their horses did not come from state stud farms – they were privately bred and owned horses.

Nor was there one great universal Empire – for all the claims of the new “Holy Roman Empire”.

On the contrary there were various Kingdoms, and Grand Dutchies and…… Not the temporary holdings of strongmen, but Kingdoms (and Princedoms and ….) that formally recognised the right of each to exist and to govern themselves.

Certainly they might invade each other – but they were, formally, at least under the same natural law (made by God – not by man). Another King (or Prince or ….) had rights. To put them to death in some savage entertainment would invite outrage.

One had to work hard to invent a good legal reason to invade somewhere else (and it is not automatic that one would come up with something) and if the case was bad then this would have an effect – the Church (an independent force – not a branch of the state as under the Roman Empire) might denounce you, your own lords might decide you had spat upon their honour (by involving them in an unjust war) and on and on.

Certainly wickedness and the slaughter of the innocent continued – but their were risks (and not just the battlefield risks that Roman Emperors understood) there was the risk of practical consequnces from inciting disgust with your conduct (even if the conduct was successful).

Not all Kings (and ….) only pretended to be honourable and uphold the natural law – some actually thought that their sworn word (on the Bible – or not) meant something (in a way that would have astonished someone in the late Roman Empire) – and even those rulers who were utterly cynical (rotten to the core) had to at least pretend to be men of honour upholding the universal law (the true law that they did not write) – and putting on a convincing performance needs certain pratical actions and inactions.

A strange hybid of the old warrior honour code of the barbarians – and the idea of formal law and government of the Romans.

When Papa Franz – the Emperor Franz Joesph last Hapsburg ruler before the First World War refused to go along with hate campaigns against the Jews – because he had given-his-word to treat all subjects equally,  he was dealing with a concept (honour) that his ancestor riding out of Hawk Castle (from which the word “Hapsburg” comes) a thousand years before would have understood.

And his kin – both Habsburg and Bavarian Wittelsbach, risked their lives in the 1930s and 1940s – for people with whom they had nothing in common and whom aiding gave no advantage of power.

The highest ideal of chivalry – the service of the great (service till death) for the weak and helpless, and (the greatest leap of all – and so often failed) service to the alien, to the “other”.

Do I have to explain that a Roman ruler (even after the formal conversion of the Empire to Christianity) would have been utterly baffled by all of this?

The dark side of men (our love of seeing the blood of our enemies cover the ground – as their heads roll in the dirt) is well known. Whether Roman or barbarian we all love cutting the throats of our enemies (show me a man who denies feeling joy, or at least quiet satisfaction, at the dying screams of his enemies – and I will show you a liar). But to risk our own throats – and to risk them for those who are no kin of ours (or connection of ours) – that is something else again. As is showing mercy to enemies who have thrown down their arms – and grasping their hands in friendship at the very moment when they expected torture and death. Rare indeed are those who can match the deeds of Alfred the Great – or his warrior daughter Ethelfleda (or Aethelflaed – perhaps if the lady had a less difficult name she would be feminst icon) the “White Lady of the English”, but in our Walter Mitty way we think ourselves heros – the concept had no real meaning in the late Roman world. The great soldier certainly – but not those who would follow justice for its own sake, and follow it in regard to foes as well as friends.

All the above remained, in part (but it was always only in part), till quite recently.

Tanks may have replaced cavalry (not that Alfred and those who came after him really understood cavarly – indeed Tolkien argued that this lack of understanding led to the terrible events of 1066), but the code of honour remained.

Indeed up to the late 19th century so did the idea (in the British army at least) that an officer shoud not profit from military service – indeed that it should cost him and that he should outfit himself (and sometimes troops) at his own expense.

Colonel Blimp is a mocked figure – but he has his good side. There are things he will not do – and, more importantly, things he will die to save others from.

As even the socialist George Orwell admitted (in despair over the alliance of the National Socialists and the Marxists in 1939) “who now will now step forward to defend civilisation – only Colonel Blimp and the old school tie”.

Stepping forward from his (near bankrupt) country estate – or from his job in the City of London (where “my word is my bond” was the basis of relationships till 1986 – for it was a private club, indeed several different private clubs, not the government regulated entity it has been since 1986) to lead his tanks (or his aircraft) into battle with those who had betrayed civilisation and had declared “my honour is loyality” (thus showing they had no undertanding of what either “honour” or “loyality” really mean under the unversal law) – as if they were fighting raiders and invaders (whether Viking of Barbary corsair) centuries before.

“But what has all this to do with Charles the Bald”.

Well this man was the grandson of Charles the Great – Charlemagne.

Charlemagne is an over rated figure – due to his patronage of intellectuals (he paid for their bread, and their ink and parchment, and they praised him – there is some honesty in that relationship I suppose). He was essentially no good.

He did little to oppose the Islamic invaders of Europe. His campaigns aganst the Eastern pagans (such as the Saxons) were marked by brutality and cruelity (even by the standards of war) he plundered endlessly – and used the plunder buy the loyality of thugs. His campaigns against the pagans may have led the Viking age – both as revenge, but also because he had undermined the Fresians (the traditional check upon the Norse – going right back to Roman days). And he not did spare Christian Realms – as Bavaria was to discover in 788.

And why should he spare Christian lordships? After all Charlemagne believed in the old Roman Empire with himself as a new Constantine (another meglomanic), the Church his faithful servants – and the whole world his domain.

In economic policy to Charlemagne was a (late) Roman.

De facto serfdom (the tax policy of Diocletian that peasants not be allowed to leave their area of birth) was a difficult thing for any neo “Dark Age” administration to enforce (lack of written reconds and so on), but Charlemagne would have had no objection to it. And it is more than this.

In the Christian Church there has always been a great conflict over what a “just price” is – indeed over what “justice” is.

Is a just price one that is voluntarily agreed between buyer and seller?

Or is a “just price” what the state thinks is “fair”.

Just as is justice to each their own – or to each the income and wealth the state thinks “fair”?

No prizes for guessing which side Charlemagne came down on in this debate. The side the late Romans had come down on.

The side of tyranny.

Income and wealth went to who Charemagne thought it fair for them to go to (no better than an Islamic Caliph or a late Roman Emperor).

Prices were what Charlemagne (and his intellectual hangers on – that faction of the clergy that he favoured) thought “fair”. Bavarian law (also written by clerics) came down on the other side (that a just price was a price that the buyer and seller  voluntarily agreed to) – so Charlemagne judgment was not automatic (not predetermined) – he made a choice to come down on the side of tyranny.

A good fighter and a parton of the arts and scholarship – but one can say the same of Constantine (or of many Islamic rulers).

In the world of Charlemagne we are not in the West – not as I have tried to describe its spirit above.

However, under Charles the Bald things changed – partly because Charles the Bald was not a very good soldier.

The Bretons defeated Charles the Bald in great battles, where the outnumbered Breton cavalry followed a war of movement – out flanking the Frankish armies and engaging in hit and run attacks, in the end Charles fled his own army under cover of night, leaving it to its fate.

Charles accepted de facto Breton independence and self government – something that lasted from the 9th century to the 16th century.

And it also established a principle – the new “Empire” (already divided under the sons and grandsons of Charlemagne) was going to be a very different place from the Roman Empire – places could, de facto, secede from it (and rule themselves) and Kings and Emperors would recognise their self government.

The Church also had more independence under Charles the Bald than under Charlemagne. The Bishops were (mostly) loyal to him – but then he desperatly needed their loyality.

Needed it because his kinsman Louis the German invaded his domians and Charles could not raise an army to oppose him (because Charles was an unpopular ruler).

The intervention of the Bishops saved the rule of Charles and he and his kinsman were eventually reconciled (various late Roman heads are exploding at this point – priests preventing a conquest [?] a power struggle not being to the death [?], does not compute – head explodes….). But there was a de facto price for the loyality of the Bishops – if one depends on their independent authority one has accepted that they have independent authority.

Nor were they the only people that Charles the Bald needed – especially as the Viking raids got worse and worse.

In his Edict of Pistes Charles the Bald did conventional things – such as ban trade with the enemy (especially in weapons and horses – selling them to the Vikings was punisable by death). But he also tried to develop his cavalry arm – for only cavalry could move fast enough to oppose raiders (and withdraw fast enough to avoid destruction if they found they were overmatched).

But how to raise this cavalry?

Charles could have tried the late Roman way – paid troops, given equipment from state arms factories and horses from state stud farms.

However, he simply did not have the resources to do that – so he tried something else.

Any private person who had the money to own a horse had to come and fight on horseback – or send someone to fight for him.

This was actually a return to the Classical world (including the old Roman Republic) where rich men had made up the cavarly – either directly, or by paying (personally) for the horse and horseman.

About a thousand years of French chivalry can be dated from this.

True in the 18th century the sacred Blue Cordon (once a group of knights who has sworn that the King would be unharmed till the the blue sashes they wore were turned red by their own blood) had turned into a glorified dining club (translate “cordon blue” into French and you will understand) – part of the general degeneracy that led to the French Revolution.

However, some ghost of the “old France” still remains, even the idea that a bad life can be redeemed by an honourable death that prevents some terrible act of wickedness, and in an intensely personal sense of honour and achievement that can be seen in extreme sports and in exploring.

Charles the Bald tried to ban private castles – but the effort was absurd.

He did not have the resourses to build (and maintain) enough castles of his own (although he did build fortified bridges that may have saved Paris, some years after his death, by holding up the Vikings) and castles were desperatly needed.

So local land holders (one can argue about whether they were officially land “owners” – but they were de facto private landowners, indeed far more so than landowers under Roman Imperial law) built, maintained and manned the castles. They were the first (and often the only) line of defence against raiders – both Viking and Muslim Corsair.

Estate management is a vital skill or any landowner (otherwise the family will go bankrupt – and the land pass to someone better at estate management) – but for centuries in France (and elsewhere) how to ride and how to fight were also vital skills.

It was not till the reign of Louis XIV that the nobility of France became painted toys, with absurd hairdos living in his vast (and rather absurd – its water supply did not work) palace (so different from where Kings of France had traditionally lived – compare Versailles to the Chateau De Vincennes on a visit to Paris). The noblity of France (unlike the nobilty of Britain) lost power and they lost their basic link to the land – they became toys of the Kings (and Louis the XIV aped the Roman Emperors – he was the Sun King) and fell with them. This is, in part, unfair some French noble families resisted the corruption of Versailles – but not enough.

And private castles had long been targeted by the Kings of France – and made useless by the age of gunpowder.

Lastly….

The private landownship (or de facto private landownership), on which everything else (from the idea of limited government to a spirit of personal honour) is based, where did it come from?

It came from the same source – the weakness of Charles the Bald.

He accepted that fiefs of land were hereditary – and not even a King of France could justly take the land of one person and give it to another (this is the foundation upon which modern Western civilisation was built).

It is fashionable to downgrade the importance of the Edict of Quierzy (877).

Modern historians (the same sort who regret the Ottomans not taking over all of Europe centuries later – because the Ottoman despotism was a much more “tolerant” and “progressive” civilisation than the landowner dominated European realms) downgrade the importance of the Edict of Quierzy.

Either they say it was just a restatement of an old principle (as if that makes it less important) or they say it was for selfish motives – to protect the allodial lands of his mother from Louis the German and to win over the support of lords against Louis the German.

That is like saying the Great Charta in England in 1215 was not important – because the basic motivation was to protect the property of barons from the King.

Of course the motivation was selfish. If Charles the Bald could have protected the lands of his mother (without having to call on the aid of others) he would have done so (by the way – where in asiatic despotism, sorry I mean in progressive social justice, is there concern for the large scale private property in land of a women?).

As for winning over Lords by a formal declaration that even a King can not steal their land – or steal it from their children….

It remains a formal declaration that a King can not justly take land – either from adults or their children.

All liberty (including civil liberties) is based upon private property rights – and if the property rights of the great are not respected what hope is there for the property rights of ordinary folk?

The slow (and vastly painful) process of building civilisation – of establishing liberty, depends on such foundations.

Even if they were (in part) built (unintentionally) by the weakness of a 9th century ruler by the name of Charles the Bald.

Push-me Pull-me justice

If you’ve been paying attention over the last few years, it is clear how the elite see the rest of us.  We are little more than farm yard animals to be cajoled and compelled and banned from doing things, lectured and hectored at will, and above all taxed.  We maybe shot if it suits the government as poor old John Charles De Menezes found out, or slung in jail as any number are now finding out for speaking words the government don’t like, and above all we are to be frightened by bogey men.  Mencken once said “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

 

And thus the whole security theatre at airports (which I will take a bit more seriously when I see Obama’s daughters being abused by the TSA or Cameron being subject to a body search ~ hey who has killed more people after all?).  Terror threat?  For someone who grew up in the 1970’s when the IRA were planting actual bombs regularly, it’s hard to take this seriously.

 

But you might have hoped for some kind of intellectual consistency, if not from politicians then at least from the judiciary.

 

But in one of the most convoluted and tortured contradictions ever to vomit forth from a British courtroom, the residents who weren’t thrilled with having anti-aircraft missiles on their roofs (and from what I can make out, out there without permission, notice or compensation of any kind) have lost their case against the deployment. 

 

A judge ruled the Ministry of Defence was legally entitled to decide there was “no credible threat” and the siting of the missiles was both “legitimate and proportionate” because of the “unprecedented” circumstances of the Games.

 

Yep, you read that right, there is no credible threat and it is so severe that we need to put missiles on your roof. 

 

One of the residents has caught on, he said the clear implication of the judgment was that “the MoD now has power to militarise the private homes of any person” even when there was no war on, or state of emergency declared.

 

Yep.  Free speech is gone, the right to own handguns long gone, self-defence, forget it, wer are taxed* and regulated to death, albeit inconvenient regulations are done away with for the elite**.  Now property rights are crushed at the whim of the state because they find it convenient.

 

The Romans used to say Fiat ‘justitia ruat caelum’’ meaning “let justice be done though the heavens fall”  Not anymore. 

 

* Not for the elite obviously, for you.  They pay 8% tax on the money they extract from you at the point of a gun, while they make you pay 45%.

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/331884?tw_p=twt

                                                                                                    

** I’ve read, (but cannot find a link) that some of the speed bumps in the Zill lanes are being removed, does anyone know if this is correct?

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