election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
H. L. Mencken
former Texas college economics teacher Dick Armey is retiring as
Republican majority leader of the House.
has been a peculiar character in Washington. From time to time,
he remembered that he is supposed to be a libertarian. So, on October
21, he told an interviewer, concerning John Ashcroft’s Justice Department:
than any other federal agency, [it] seems to be running amok and
out of control...This agency right now is the biggest threat to
personal liberty in the country.
and how come other Republicans don’t realize this? But a few weeks
earlier, on Chris Matthews’s TV news program, Armey
proposed the "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinian Arabs,
Muslims and Christians alike, from the West Bank and Gaza.
would mean the expulsion of some 3 million people from the last
sheds of what has been their ancestral home for at least the past
1300 years. How many would die in this ruthless drive, what unimaginable
suffering, what destruction of families and private property it
would entail why should any of that matter in the slightest
to the Republican majority leader of the House? But to an alleged
course, Armey has endorsed every Israeli levy of tribute on the
American taxpayers, all those tens of billions of dollars.
an item from the Washington Post, October 8:
at how the Dallas Morning News covered his son’s failed congressional
bid this year, House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) is
trying to insert language in a military spending bill that would
force the newspaper’s parent company to sell off one of its Dallas
is how the self-proclaimed libertarian chooses to leave public life?
Sheldon Richman and Ralph Raico
you ever get the idea that the State acts in ways so as to create
factions, turning those who may have had mere differing interests
"those people" step in posing as helpers?
State operates like a driver who hits a pedestrian, then gets out
of his car and says to the victim, "It’s sure lucky for you
I was here to help!"
to the IRS the top 50% of income earners (with family income above
$26,500 annually) pay 96% of all federal income tax; the bottom
50 % pay only 4%. The top 1% ($293,500 or more in family income)
pay 36%, while the top 5% ($121,000) pay 55%.
this means is that America is now sharply bifurcated into taxpaying
and tax-consuming classes, with tens of millions of Americans paying
no income tax at all while receiving myriads of government benefits,
from educational subsidies to day care, to everything else. The
bottom 50 percent have every incentive to provide a powerful political
force for higher and higher taxes on the upper 50 percent in order
to finance ever more subsidies for themselves.
libertarians who advocate placing even more middle-income Americans
off the tax rolls ignore the political dynamics of tax plunder in
which the most productive members of society are increasingly enslaved
by the less productive.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo
best history of socialist thought, highly valued by Murray Rothbard,
is the work by the classical liberal economist Alexander Gray,
Socialist Tradition: Moses to Lenin (1946). The mention
of Moses in the subtitle, incidentally, is an example of Gray’s
wry-donnish humor. In fact, he argued that, contrary to many fuzzy-minded
collectivists, there is nothing in the Old or New Testaments that
can legitimately be called socialist.
is a quote from The Socialist Tradition appropriate to these
State that is at war, or that is perpetually organized for war,
dare not tolerate individual liberties which may be in conflict
with the general interest; and if the crisis becomes acute so that
the very interest of the State is in danger, there always will be
a tendency to sacrifice the individual; and this means one of two
things, either despotism or state socialism.
Bellesiles, professor at Emory University in Atlanta and acclaimed
author of Arming
America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, has resigned
his tenured position.
was after Emory accepted as authoritative the conclusions of a panel
of three eminent historians from Chicago, Princeton, and Harvard
that Bellesiles’s work showed "evidence of falsification,"
"exaggeration of data," and "egregious misrepresentation,"
and that he had "willingly misrepresented the evidence"
academic-speak for a scholarly fraud.
America received the most prestigious award available to a work
of history in the United States, the Bancroft Prize, given out by
Columbia University. It was wildly praised by reviewers when it
appeared in 2000. Not surprising, since its theme was that guns
were very rare in colonial America and during the first decades
of the nineteenth century. Silly fantasizing us, who imagined gun-savvy
frontiersmen, colonials who fought the Revolution equipped with
firearms, and in all those early years the musket (or whatever)
over the mantelpiece. "America’s gun culture is an invented
tradition," Bellesiles averred.
erosion of Bellesiles’s corrupt structure of phony scholarship began
on the Internet, with Clayton Cramer and other amateur experts (our
own Joseph Stromberg helped). At first they were dismissed with
contempt as typical Internet conspiracy theorists and, in this case,
laughable gun-nuts. But a few scholars like the calm and brilliant
Joyce Lee Malcolm began to be heard from, and the profession at
large was forced to dig into Bellesiles purported evidence.
found it to be fatally flawed: crucial elements in his argument
were not accessible to anyone else (he claimed there was a flood
in his basement); probate records in New England didn’t say what
he quoted them as saying; the records he cited in San Francisco
had been destroyed in the earthquake of 1906, they simply did not
exist; and, directly contrary to his claims, authoritative sources
in colonial and early nineteenth century America remarked on the
near-universal ownership of guns. And on it went. Practically every
time anyone checked on Bellesiles’s citations, they proved to be
America is a work of pious fraud, pious because it supports,
and was taken to support, the reigning civil religion, which hates
private ownership of guns, as bureaucrats and their media puppets
all over the world hate it.
book was published by Knopf, probably the most distinguished imprint
in American publishing. Its editor is still in place at Knopf; so
much for editorial responsibility.
September 10, 2000, the trumpeting of Bellesiles’s book covered
the whole front page of the New York Times Book Review, without
question the most important space in American publishing:
Culture? What Gun Culture? The freedom-loving gun-toting yeomanry
of 1776 never really existed, according to Arming America, by
Michael A. Bellesiles. Reviewed by Garry Wills.
piece, titled "Spiking the Gun Myth," shot through with
the sneering tone that is his trademark, begins:
many Americans, the gun is a holy object, the emblem and guarantor
of their identity. Without it, they would not be the self-sufficient
persons they consider themselves, the very models for all lovers
of freedom. To take away this external prop would tear out of them
their very essence….Bellesiles deflates the myth of the self-reliant
and self-armed virtuous yeoman of the Revolutionary militias.
to Wills, "only in the Civil War did Americans generally acquire
and become familiar with guns. But even so it was not the lone gunman’s
revolver but the government’s cavalry rifle that ‘tamed’ the West…"
Here Wills continues his mocking of individual and voluntary associational
efforts in our history the very idea that Americans might be self-sufficient
and self-reliant as against the power of the agents of his beloved
concludes, "Bellesiles has dispersed the darkness that covered
the gun’s early history in America. He provides overwhelming evidence
that our view of the gun is as deep a superstition as any that affected
Native Americans in the 17th century."
Wills is making a career out of vilifying the Catholic Church, to
which he says he belongs. A recent book of his is Papal Sins,
a skewed, ahistorical account of the oldest institution in the world.
But what about Wills’s own professional sins? What about his misleading
hundreds, probably thousands, of readers by his gushing endorsement
of Bellesiles’s piece of garbage? When is he going to apologize
is what is called a "public intellectual." Publicity-wise,
in our decadent culture, he takes his lead from Hollywood, where
the watchword is, "Never explain, never apologize."
I wonder what Murray Rothbard’s old buddy Frank Meyer, wherever
he may be, thinks of Garry Wills, whom he promoted as a neophyte
writer by running his early pieces as book editor of National
Review. And, by the way, what must poor despairing Frank think
of the ignorant fools who have taken over his magazine, and of his
comrade Bill Buckley who has nonchalantly permitted it?
The Passing Scene is edited by Ralph Raico.
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© 2002 LewRockwell.com