LRC Blog

New Report: War Crimes In Raqqa. Who’s Guilty?

1:24 pm on June 6, 2018

Trump Outfoxes Leftists Once Again

The Philadelphia Eagles organization has apparently become a part of the Democratic Party and is apparently taking orders from communistic Tom Perez who is now the head of the Democrat National Committee.  Here’s the scoop on the cancellation of the White House visit by the winning superbowl team, from snippets of yesterday’s news:  As late as Friday the Philadelphia Eagles were telling Trump that some 70 players would show up.  Then they revised that number to two or three, including the mascot at the last minute.  They obviously assumed that it would be too late to cancel the event, especially since 1,000 Eagles fans had been invited, had traveled to D.C., rented hotel rooms, etc.  Therefore, they would greatly embarrass the president.

Trump smelled a rat, knew exactly what was going on, and dis-invited the team.  He held a little concert on the White House lawn for the fans instead, with all his usual flag waving and military deification.  Very funny political theater.

As a sports fan I wish these visits would all end.  Most people watch sports as, among other reasons, a means of escaping the politicization of everything that is a cancer on American society.  This started with Reagan and should end with Trump.  How nice it would be as well if every professional football game did not begin with a military spectacle with a flag the size of a football field, fighter jet flyovers, singing of anthems to the state, soldiers with guns marching in circles, etc.

7:56 am on June 6, 2018

Church of the Doomsday Bomb

Because of Roseanne Barr’s recent tweet about Valerie Jarrett, Retroplex is running the original Planet of the Apes series of movies. Taking a break last night I saw Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). Although the cable guide gives it 2 out of 4 stars, it was definitely more a 3.

Without revealing too many spoilers, among a lot of great anti-war themes was a hilarious parody of Peace-Through-Strength conservatives. In the 40th century, there is a Church of the Alpha-Omega Doomsday Bomb located in what was once St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City (before there was a nuclear holocaust). As can be seen in the short clip below, the symbolism of the bomb replaces that of the cross all over the church.

Also interesting is the implicit allusion to Jesus’ comment about the Pharisees (Matt 23:27) being “whitewashed tombs:” clean marble on the outside but rot on the inside. As can be seen below, the Church of the Bomb’s members are much the same in that regard.  Not seen in the clip below is this dandy from their “moral” principles: “We don’t murder our enemies, we get others to do it.”

4:14 pm on June 5, 2018

Supremes Miss The Point On ‘Bake The Cake’ Ruling

12:53 pm on June 5, 2018

Should a Black Baker be Forced to Bake a Cake for a KKK Wedding?

Of course not.  He should be able to say to the hooded moron, “This is private property, get out, I will not bake you a cake.  Go make your own damn cake.”

That’s what the Supreme Court would have said if they got the recent wedding cake case right, but they didn’t, because they ignored the all-important issue of property rights and focused instead on religious freedom.

7:41 am on June 5, 2018

The Results of the U.S. War in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a brutal Islamic state. The results of the U.S. war in Afghanistan are: One practicing Jew, one synagogue that is inactive, one Jewish cemetery that is used as an unofficial dump, no public Christian churches, and harsh penalties for crimes such as apostasy, conversion, proselytizing, and blasphemy.

9:13 pm on June 4, 2018

I Have Been Saying This for Years

“Every day is Memorial Day,” says a senior editor of Conservative Review. The way that veterans are honored in this country (24/7/365) I have been saying for years that every day is Memorial Day.

9:08 pm on June 4, 2018

Travel Ban Laws Are Anti-Libertarian

Individual states have begun passing travel ban laws. One state, say California, passes a law that state-supported travel to Oklahoma is banned because Oklahoma has an abortion law that California disapproves of. Another example: “A litany of states and cities passed travel bans against North Carolina last spring, during the ‘bathroom bill controversy.'”

The power to tax is the power to destroy all freedoms. Step 1: A state taxes its citizens. Step 2: It redistributes the cash to citizens, but only for uses that please the state. Uses it disapproves of, such as travel to another blacklisted or boycotted state, are not funded. Another method is simply to tax the prohibited use directly. A third way is simply to prohibit citizens from travel to the other state.

All these methods are totalitarian in character, meaning that they intrude coercively upon areas of human behavior ordinarily regarded as within the province of individual choice and that involve no criminality or criminal victims. Some are more obviously totalitarian than others. They all are anti-libertarian. They all involve methods of coercing individuals who are not doing anything criminal or anything that requires coercive intervention by others.

The travel ban type of law discriminates against specified behaviors that citizens might choose in the absence of the state’s coercion via prohibition, tax or law. Does this also violate the U.S. constitution? Yes, in my opinion. This type of law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. In addition, it is hard for me to imagine that any state constitution is written so loosely as to allow a state to “protect” its citizens by forbidding them, by means of taxation, prohibition or law, to travel to another state that has a bathroom or abortion law that it dislikes. The police power has limits.

12:47 pm on June 4, 2018

Supreme Court Rules Against Forced Labor

Even when the beneficiaries would be one of the mascot groups of the Marxist Left.

12:39 pm on June 4, 2018


The U.S. government publishes its failure to stabilize Afghanistan. “…SIGAR’s overall assessment is that despite some heroic efforts to stabilize insecure and contested areas in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2017, the program mostly failed.” SIGAR is Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development, runs the stabilization programs in conjunction with the Department of Defense.

While admitting the failure, the report doesn’t recognize that at no reasonable cost can stabilization in Afghanistan result from U.S. efforts. The U.S. government is incapable in most circumstances, under most conditions, in most countries and with most peoples of being able to stabilize, which means to create support for the State, create respect for government and create security by a variety of infrastructure, health, education and welfare programs and projects.

An earlier SIGAR report has lofty goals “The stabilization programs were intended to support at risk populations, extend the reach of the Afghan government to unstable areas, provide job opportunities, build trust between citizens and their government, and encourage local populations to take an active role in their development.” USAID created instability: The “data from hundreds of districts, found that stability was actually lower in those villages that had received USAID support.”

The U.S. government didn’t succeed in “stabilizing” the defeated native American populations, the defeated South, the former slave population, the Appalachian poor, or ordinary Americans living in poverty; and these were cases where the U.S. could and did exercise a great deal of power and control. USAID hasn’t stabilized Iraq or Libya as any study will reveal.

The U.S. policy is to destroy and rebuild. The U.S. has the power to knock Humpty Dumpty off the wall and shatter him into a thousand pieces. But

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

The rebuilding of Japan and Germany after World War II cannot be replicated in places like Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, whose pre-destruction state structures and peoples were held together in ways far different from the cohesion of the Japanese and German peoples. Furthermore, Japan and Germany were completely under the control of the U.S., whereas places that USAID is trying to stabilize like Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan are not. Japan and Germany were not countries riven with insurgencies, terrorism, rival forces, and rival tribes, peoples and religions.

The failure of stabilization by government agencies has several causes that are unalterable and guarantee government failure under most conditions. The alternative that actually succeeds is self-stabilization, which is part and parcel of spontaneous order.

Government stabilization is by bureaucratic decisions about allocation of scarce capital. In any given country, USAID makes investment decisions. It chooses projects, like a World Bank. In Somalia, USAID selects wind turbines, classrooms and a camel milk project. In the U.S., the Congress chooses food stamps, Medicaid and hundreds of other projects. All of it is a variety of socialism in which the financing of projects is through taxation and the investing is decided by government. (Taxation is a way of the government’s claiming ownership of the human means of production.) No matter what government decisions are made, they are fatally flawed up and down the line, from A to Z, whereas free-market decisions, uncontrolled by government, will turn out to be self-stabilizing.

The government method has built-in fatal flaws that are revealed by comparison to how capitalists operate. Capitalists decide how much to save and in what forms to save it. The profit motive permeates their decisions. Government lacks the profit motive; worse, government power attracts perverse uses of capital that pass no market test. Capitalists have sophisticated means of controlling the capital that they allocate. They have means of monitoring their capital’s designated uses, so that it is not stolen, wasted, diverted and misused. Government bureaucrats are not held to account from their slack controls and inability to monitor the success or failure of their pet projects. Capitalists have incentives to treat their fellow countrymen in ways that generate goodwill and revenues. Bureaucrats lack such incentives. Government failure is enhanced by bureaucratic and department rivalries, such as between USAID and DOD. There are weak or non-existent incentives to diminish these rivalries and coordinate. Capitalists have incentives to coordinate various departments into an integrated effort. Otherwise they court failure and the subsequent inability to raise capital to finance other projects.

The 21st century U.S. War on Terrorism is a deeply flawed strategy on four counts. It’s a “Destroy and Rebuild” strategy that has been morally bankrupt, enormously expensive, a failure at reducing terrorism, and a failure at rebuilding.

As much as possible, the U.S. should not interject its forces, its aid and its money upon other countries, including those threatened by Islamic State and al-Qaeda franchises. Other powers and regional hegemons may step into the resulting situations. So be it. Perhaps their local and regional knowledge and perhaps their different incentives will result in greater success than the U.S. has had. Perhaps the threatened countries will, working under a new set of incentives, devise ways to bring in external actors or revise their own governments so as to defeat the insurgencies. What we know for sure is that the U.S. method of being the world’s policeman is not working. It is producing the spread of Islamic State franchises to more and more vulnerable countries throughout the world.

9:13 am on June 4, 2018

Too Bad He Doesn’t Fight against Big Government

Senator Mike Lee has written another good book. His previous one, Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document, I reviewed here in 2015. Although the book was decent (at least the first part), it was unfortunate that I had to point out that Lee was a constitutionalist who didn’t follow the Constitution. Lee’s new book is Written out of History: The Forgotten Founders Who Fought Big Government. Another decent book, but again, it is too bad that Lee doesn’t fight against big government. He only looks good sometimes because of the mostly worthless Republicans in the Senate. A libertarian he is not.

9:38 pm on June 3, 2018

The Deep State or Invisible Government: A Brief Bibliographic Retrospective

The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson— and I am not wholly excepting the Administration of W. W. The country is going through a repetition of Jackson’s fight with the Bank of the United States — only on a far bigger and broader basis.  — Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Letter to Col. Edward Mandell House (21 November 1933); as quoted in F.D.R.: His Personal Letters, 1928-1945, edited by Elliott Roosevelt (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1950), pg. 373

Although the term the deep state (also described as the invisible government, or the secret government) has only gained widespread usage in recent years, the concept of double or dual governments is almost as old as the republic itself.

One of my all-time favorite books is the extremely rare 1934 volume by John McConaughy, Who Rules America?: A Century of Invisible Government, (published the same year as Albert Jay Nock’s seminal Our Enemy, The State).

Author McConaughy states:

‘Invisible Government’ is a phrase for which it would be difficult to formulate a dictionary definition without sacrifice of accuracy to brevity. It may perhaps be best described as the political and economic control of the community — or the political control for selfish, if not sinister, economic purposes — by individual men, or groups or organizations, who are careful to evade the responsibility which should always accompany power. They operate behind a mask or puppets in politics and business, and these must take the blame in courts of law, and before the bar of public opinion, for any errors in the technique of knavery.

McConaughy then impiously rips the masks off our elitist ‘Funding Fathers’ and their ‘invisible government’ for special privilege.

In what is one of the finest and most powerful histories of the early years of the American state, he demonstrates that the adoption of the Constitution amounted to a coup d’etat by these forces of ‘invisible government’.

Although the names and faces have changed over time, this is the same predatory plutocracy behind the Federal Reserve’s monetary meltdown and the Wall Street bankster bailouts, as well as Dwight Eisenhower’s military industrial complex and its related clandestine national security intelligence community apparat.

In 1964, shortly after the JFK assassination, David Wise and Thomas B. Ross wrote the first definitive examination of the Central Intelligence Agency, The Invisible Government, which was a major best-seller

In the opening of their expose’ they observed:

THERE ARE two governments in the United States today. One is visible. The other is invisible.

The first is the government that citizens read about in their newspapers and children study about in their civics books. The second is the interlocking, hidden machinery that carries out the policies of the United States in the Cold War.

This second, invisible government gathers intelligence, conducts espionage, and plans and executes secret operations all over the globe.

The Invisible Government is not a formal body. It is a loose, amorphous grouping of individuals and agencies drawn from many parts of the visible government. It is not limited to the Central Intelligence Agency, although the CIA is at its heart. Nor is it confined to the nine other agencies which comprise what is known as the intelligence community: the National Security Council, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, Army Intelligence, Navy Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Invisible Government includes, also, many other units and agencies, as well as individuals, that appear outwardly to be a normal part of the conventional government. It even encompasses business firms and institutions that are seemingly private.

To an extent that is only beginning to be perceived, this shadow government is shaping the lives of 190,000,000 Americans. Major decisions involving peace or war are taking place out of public view. An informed citizen might come to suspect that the foreign policy of the United States often works publicly in one direction and secretly through the Invisible Government in just the opposite direction.

This Invisible Government is a relatively new institution. It came into being as a result of two related factors: the rise of the United States after World War II to a position of pre-eminent world power, and the challenge to that power by Soviet Communism.

Government of the Shadows: Parapolitics and Criminal Sovereignty, edited by Eric Wilson, analyses the concept of clandestine government. It explores how covert political activity and transnational organised crime are linked — and how they ultimately work to the advantage of state and corporate power. The book shows that legitimate government is now routinely accompanied by extra-governmental covert operations. (more…)

12:58 pm on June 3, 2018

The Intrepid Jacob G. Hornberger

The intrepid Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF), has courageously dedicated his life to the achievement of a free society. “Bumper” has made it his singular mission to authoritatively document, expound upon, and unceasingly demonstrate in multiple venues of outreach to the attentive public how the constitutional republic and the rule of law created by the Framers has been subverted and egregiously transformed into an extraconstitutional national security state, unrestrained by first principles of justice and equity. The select amoral clique or top echelon at the helm of the national security state have advanced many spurious rationales and pretexts for its existence, and will use any means necessary to further its Machiavellian objectives and consolidate its hegemonic power.

Hornberger is one of few audacious scholars to perceive the unmistakable link between the imperial conduct of covert interventionism, assassination, and regime change abroad, and how that sinister and corrupting policy lies at the centerpiece of American tyrannical actions at home. Seminal to that understanding are the tragic events of November 22, 1963, and the murderous coup d’état performed in Dallas, Texas and Washington, DC by vice president Lyndon Baines Johnson and the highest leadership of the deep state in the name of the elusive and nebulous concept of “national security.”

For over forty years, under the guidance of Carl Oglesby, Murray N. Rothbard, Peter Dale Scott, James W. Douglass, Douglas P. Horne, and Jacob G. Hornberger, I have believed that an understanding of the full implications of that coup is the Rosetta Stone to understanding subsequent world events.  It is the central mythos or Illiad defining modern American history.

11:42 am on June 2, 2018

Welcome to “the future”

Idiocracy is a 2006 American satirical science fiction comedy film directed by Mike Judge and starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Terry Crews.

The film tells the story of two people who take part in a top-secret military hibernation experiment, only to awaken 500 years later in a dystopian society where advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism have run rampant and that is devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights.

If you haven’t seen this classic “guilty pleasure” film here is your opportunity. The “in joke” is that it is not an updating of Rip Van Winkle or Woody Allen’s Sleeper. This is now. Ask any teacher.

7:50 pm on June 1, 2018

I Feel So Much Safer

Now that the “Air Force Special Operations Command will soon have its first female air commando brigadier general, who will become the command’s director of operations.”

8:11 pm on May 31, 2018

China Will Fail

China will “fail” as long as it sticks to socialist/statist economic management. Its One Belt, One Road is a big Keynesian infrastructure boondoggle, passing no known market tests. China suppresses speech. That dampens the entrepreneur. For further insights on China will fail, see here, here, here, here, and here. Failure means it won’t be the great economic success that it advertises, that it hopes for, and that commentators and strategists may be taking for granted.

China can turn around if it abandons socialist policies and adopts free market policies, including the protection of private property rights. The same goes for America.

The CIA was consistently wrong in over-estimating the economic might of the USSR, and this created an entirely undeserved U.S. respect for central planning and Keynesian economics. If the U.S. leadership repeats this error for China, the strategies they adopt with respect to China will be flawed.

Socialism is dead. It lasted about 200 years. It still is a feature of the world’s governments, because it takes time for such movements to die. It takes time for old and wrong ideas to die out and for new and right ideas to replace them. But socialism has no moral, no intellectual and no practical grounding. It’s a failure on all counts. Libertarians have every right to be proud that such giants as Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe have killed off any possible avenues of respect or validity for socialism.

China, despite its motion toward capitalism, which itself is strong evidence along with the failure of the USSR that socialism is dying before our eyes, thinks that it can become a great power through socialism. This is not going to be the case. Socialism always holds people back, and the Chinese people are no exception.

5:16 pm on May 31, 2018

How to Speak Sensitively, Respectfully and Politely as a Television Personality

As Time-Warner employee Samantha Bee demonstrates.  She’ll probably win the lefty “Profiles in Courage” award for this.

11:55 am on May 31, 2018

Republicans Help Democrats Expand Medicare

In Virginia, after refusing to do so for years.

11:32 am on May 31, 2018

An Iranian Plot to Poison American Consumers?

I was shocked to see that my local grocery store has “Persian Limes” on sale today, “6 for $2.99.”  Those devilish Persians are probably even losing money on the deal.

2:36 pm on May 30, 2018

In Korea, Kim And Moon Embrace – No Need For Outsiders?

12:28 pm on May 29, 2018

Yes, “Real Socialism” Has Been Tried

A new episode of Radio Rothbard is live, based on this article, and discussing the time-worn claim that “real socialism” has not been tried:

10:29 am on May 29, 2018

Stepwise Libertarianism

Here are some elements of what might be called “stepwise libertarianism” or “gradual libertarianism” or “non-revolutionary libertarianism”. It has elements of reactionary and conservative libertarianism, but those terms probably call up different ideas. The text below takes the form of a letter written to a self-declared conservative libertarian, referred to here as “you”. The view might more accurately be termed classical liberal libertarianism. That amalgam connotes movement back toward a pure private-law society, with the hope of approaching the latter even if it is never fully realized. The approach is asymptotic, if you will, and a mathematical label would be asymptotic libertarianism. We have to discover social well-being as we go along, as we fashion it and understand it. Sharp and tumultuous revolutions with exorbitant expectations of a new world or new man are highly unlikely to succeed. Our understanding has to keep pace with our actions. Since no living society can ever reach stasis or should, there is no blueprint for libertarian or any other kind of perfection. There is no end of history. This too is a philosophic basis for step-by-step libertarianism.

I understand your position: Limited government, no revolution, conserve what we have that’s good and decent, remove the overhang of democrat-bolshevists from office and the laws and institutions, do the same for the republican-bolshevists or whatever term is appropriate for that group. Restore America. Restore the right spirit. Restore freedom. Restore free markets.

I can get behind much of this program. I can hope that Trump succeeds at it. He’s better than the alternative was. At the same time, we have to recognize the contradictions in the limited government position and hold out anarcho-capitalism as a goal to be approached as a limit.

I’m against revolution and violent revolution too. Can we not proceed stepwise to introduce voluntary solutions wherever possible? This would cause our product to improve dramatically, and that in turn would provide immense funds to improve our society’s and State’s military lead. America could be a fortress with such technological advantages. It could lead without actually meddling in many countries. They’d be begging for relations of various kinds. There would be a voluntary empire of sorts. You would not object to shrinking the empire without sacrificing security, I’m sure.

To be avoided is any further growth of the State whatsoever, internally and externally. You are pointing out its many manifestations and corruption all the time. It has to be cut back. That’s absolutely essential for saving our civilization. There has to be a philosophical basis for doing that. The only consistent basis is one that holds out for no State, even if it’s not visibly attainable. This rests on a consistent moral position. It rests on a consistent pragmatic position, which is that anything that a State does can be done better in a competitive arrangement.

Despite our asymptotic goal, we should acknowledge that the temptations to power accumulation are a force aimed at the heart of anarcho-capitalism. The latter will probably not be attainable or work because dominant companies will subvert the system. I also believe that certain resources cannot be fully privatized. Travel will be too much interfered with if roads are all private, because competing routes are either not always feasible or else costly. At any rate, we are a long way from such a system, and it’s still a proper goal to aim at.

What I imagine and want to see is an emergent system in which as much as possible is privatized, on the basis of both moral and pragmatic understanding. Experience accumulates and we wean ourselves away from state dependency and thinking of the state as a solution to problems. We would be so far ahead of any other country that they couldn’t possibly think of attacking us. The primitives would be left in the dust. The primitives outside this country cannot be defeated by us becoming more like them. We have a growth of primitives within this country too, and they need to grow out of it.

We do not need foreign expansionism or remaking the world’s governments in order to make ourselves either safe or prosperous. We need only create a better system here. This idea of securing oil or Israel or freeing Ukraine or 50 other places is totally crazy, in my way of imagining the possible futures. It doesn’t help us one bit or advance our civilization or make us more peaceful, safe or secure. It doesn’t add to our productivity. It does the opposite in all cases.

9:48 am on May 29, 2018

Adjudicating Sea-steading

Various events in our state-divided world raise questions about adjudication in an anarcho-capitalist world, i.e., a world without states as monopolists of violence and law that adjudicate all disputes that they themselves are involved in. The operational viability of a non-statist world, if it is to be robust toward breakdown, requires a number of characteristics that are neither obviously present in the human being or his societies at most times and under most conditions nor present in our current world. For such a private-law world to survive, there has to be strong adherence to private property rights. This entails a suppression of destructive and base human emotions of many kinds, including greed, anger, jealousy, and envy; the human being is not a Vulcan like Mr. Spock, a creature devoid of deep emotions. It includes suppressing all sorts of ambitions for power, wiles, deceptions, bribes, extortion, blackmail, rumors, assassinations, fear-mongering, invasions, intimidation, false flags and trickery, in short, the kind of stuff that historically has gone on during the lengthy processes by which states gathered territory and strength. Furthermore, and relevant to the current case, a successful private-law society depends upon the presence and survival of impartial arbitrators and protection companies who agree to use their services. The buck has to stop somewhere. Disputes have to be terminated. They cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely or expand into wars. The costs are simply too high for a private company to bear. These problems and challenges do not imply any less adherence to a private-law society goal because we either work toward that pole or else gravitate toward the pole of world government and tyranny. The private-law society provides an ideal model or type whose features may guide us in socially life-fulfilling directions as opposed to life-stifling directions.

Events in our statist world quite often show us barriers to a non-state world, but they also show us steps being made toward a world in which private property is respected. The situation regarding private property is not one-sided, but we can use all the clarification of private property’s rightness, practical utility and directional movement toward it that we can get. Many conflicts among states and non-state actors are over resources and property, but they also become tangled up with long histories of lives lost, lands stolen, religious and ethnic hatreds and rivalries, insults, power ambitions, revenge, and so on, making them more difficult to settle. The core difficulty, which is often property conflict, becomes shrouded.

A few days ago, U.S. ships penetrated within 12 miles of certain island-like patches of land claimed by China and built up by China. The article used the word “within” three separate times, and that penetration was China’s immediate complaint, but China has far more expansive claims on ocean waters and they are at issue. China claims the 200-mile economic zones surrounding these islands. This is a resource claim or grab that looks and is shifty, in my view. There is an established 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, and it provides for rights of innocent passage within a state’s territorial waters. It also provides for 200-mile economic zones belonging to states with coastal waters. I don’t think it was expected that a state could extend its baseline or coastline by building new islands in the middle of a sea or ocean, thereby making a 200-mile claim to resources beneath the ocean. The law had a loophole.

China’s complaint about the U.S. destroyers has merit if we take the position that China has sea-steaded those islands. An international tribunal has ruled against China on a different basis, which was ad hoc: rocks vs. natural islands. That will not work in all cases, because technology is going to allow more sea-steading in the future and the property rights in such structures will have to be clarified.

Other countries like Vietnam and Philippines can claim those rocks if they fall within their own extended 200-mile limits under international law, in which case China had no right to improve those reefs and create bases there.

These issues won’t be settled by force, in all likelihood, although a fait accompli is what’s currently going on. There really should not be war over such stakes, but this kind of dispute does illustrate human behavior and the kinds of challenges that are not going to vanish in the absence of states. They will devolve onto other organizations. These matters do require adjudication for a number of reasons. For one thing, the historic sea lanes can’t be thwarted and reduced to bottlenecks controlled by monopolists. Some state might accomplish this by sea-steading in sea lanes. For another, there is oil in disputed sea regions. Third, no state wants its sovereignty at its borders challenged. Fourth, these states recall past wars and antagonisms that may go back a very long time. The UN at present for all its faults is the only forum by which the contending states can attempt to resolve this kind of issue through negotiation or adjudication. The U.S. can’t do this.

China has brought the issue to the forefront by its actions of sea-steading. U.S. destroyers won’t settle this issue. They are a stopgap or a means to get China and others to negotiate this problem. They are at best a means of retaining the right to travel sea lanes and not face possible restrictions from China. That right has been established by practice and international law. These challenges to China are a way of rejecting its 200-mile claims, which aim at oil and gas.

The libertarian focus is on first appropriation of unappropriated resources. So far, that approach has failed because China hasn’t accepted arbitration. China possesses the islands now. Unless someone is willing to go to war, China will keep on possessing them, reinforcing its claim. Maritime users of the sea lanes have their rights outside the 12-mile limits, based on their historic mixing of labor with the waters through traveling through them. Plus the UN has affirmed those rights. There need to be rules created for the disputed seas that lie beyond the 12-mile limits, because those regions are the real centers of this conflict. Property rights need to be made explicit that are currently implicit. Who controls the South China Sea or whatever name is attached to these waters? Who is going to have oil drilling rights? Who has passage and sea lane rights? Who has sea-steading rights? There can be multiple uses with multiple owners. The property rights need to be limited and clarified so that no monopolist can hold everyone else up. The first appropriators are in fact those who have traveled the waters, not necessarily state actors and fighters, but traders, shippers, travelers, explorers and merchants. These have made portions of the seas public property like paths or roads that no one owns but anyone can use.

9:09 am on May 29, 2018

Blood Spilled from Sea to Shining Sea

American war deaths through history.  One update is that the American “Civil War” death toll has been increased to 750,000 by British demographer J. David Hacker and has been accepted by the “Civil War” historians.  Even the old estimate of approximately 620,000 was more than all the other wars combined.  As Murray Rothbard wrote in his essay, “Just War,” the only two defensive, just wars in American history were the American Revolution and the South’s side in the “Civil War.”  All others were aggressive, offensive wars.  So the “just war” death toll stands at around 375,000 or around a fourth of all American war deaths. This of course is just American deaths, not counting any of the millions, including an unimaginable number of civilians (think Nagasaki and Hiroshima, firebombing of German cities, Sherman’s March, the Indian Wars . . .) killed by American bombs and bullets.

7:33 pm on May 28, 2018

What if…


12:26 pm on May 28, 2018

The Lie Behind Memorial Day

Memorial Day is Based on a Lie, by Jacob G. Hornberger

10:40 am on May 28, 2018

Happy Military Appreciation Day

Number 1. Two more to go: July 4th and Veterans Day. But of course, on all of the days in between we should also appreciate the great things that the military does for us. Things like bomb, maim, kill, waste taxpayer dollars, and make widows and orphans.

9:07 am on May 28, 2018

Today the U.S. Protected Us in the South China Sea, or Did It? (REVISED)

U.S. warships protected us today in the South China Sea. We’re supposed to believe that, not just because of a Chinese threat to keeping the sea lanes open, but because protection of us is what the U.S. does and why it exists. The act of the U.S. moving U.S. ships through the contested waters is justifiable, not as something that the State does for itself, but as an act done for us Americans. The State is supposed to exist and act for us. That’s its justification. This premise falls apart on examination, however.

The basis of the State, its justification, owes to three fictions. The first is that we the people have come together of our own accord in order to achieve peace and security. The second is that we believe this peace and security can best or only be achieved by creating a State, meaning the organization with a territorial monopoly of violence regarded as legitimate. The third is that, of our own accord, we have delegated our powers of property protection to the State.

The three assumptions are that we act as a people voluntarily, that we need a State to protect us from ourselves and foreigners, no other arrangement being feasible or workable, and that we willingly give up our freedom to protect ourselves by designating the State as our agent. Each of these three assumptions is false.

The State’s monopoly on its claimed legitimate use of violence comprehends foreign affairs as well as domestic. In foreign affairs, these fictions imply another fiction, that the State in its relations with foreign states and powers looks out for our peace and security and acts to achieve it.

But this cannot be true, because none of the premises are true. We do not act voluntarily as a people. We are not presented with an option of endorsing or not endorsing the State; and we are held to its government within its territorial confines. We do not need a State to protect us, or at least many of us reject this arrangement. We have other free market alternatives, but they do not see the light of day because the monopoly state prevents them from emerging. We have never signed a contract that delegated our powers of property protection to the State.

The State conducts all of its foreign (and domestic) affairs while assuring and teaching us that it is looking out for our peace and security. It assures and teaches us that it has a right to act on our behalf, which we have delegated to it and which we influence through periodic elections. The fact that many of us believe this story doesn’t make it true. Belief in fairy tales doesn’t make them true stories.

The fact is that the State has no right to act on our behalf, and we know that it has no such right because each of the premises that supposedly imply such a right is false. If we do not act as a people voluntarily and do not choose the State to protect us, and if we prefer other arrangements to be freely chosen by us, even as the State represses them, then we cannot possibly, of our own accord, be delegating the State as our protector.

As for the property rights in sea lanes, China in 2016 refused to be bound by voluntary arbitration over its claims. But on lesser grounds, China was ruled against by an international tribunal. The U.S. is putting its muscle behind that ruling.

It is supposed by anarcho-capitalist theory that contending protection companies will rationally select arbitration in certain kinds of disputes that otherwise will lead to costly wars. Peaceful decisions are more likely to occur when the costs of war fall upon a company’s subscribers. Wars are not entirely precluded, however. Some people, in their rapacity, may prefer to invest in the accumulation of power, that is, fight and form a state by conquest, in which case anarcho-capitalism is jeopardized or even breaks down. Another cause of breakdown can be contests over unappropriated resources, such as we observe in the South China Sea. China rejected arbitration. The U.S. rejects China’s claims and supports the 2016 decision. China has homesteaded some land in the ocean, however. The tribunal accorded these outposts 12 mile limits, not according them a full territorial status as islands. They were rocks or reefs that China built up with landfill such as concrete. China has seasteaded, and now it wants the standard 200-mile limits. However, it has not seasteaded those huge regions of open waters. The tribunal may have ruled on the basis of rocks vs. islands, but the homesteading criterion looks at the matter from the view of who has actually mixed labor with the resource. If ships of many nations have been plying these waters for centuries, then they have mixed their labor with the ocean and established a public right-of-way, so that China has no case for expansive 200-mile limits around the rock-lets or isle-lets.

The other basic question the U.S. enforcement action raises is exactly what limits there are on the territory that the U.S. chooses to protect. Also, how far will the U.S. militarily go in a given situation of enforcement? Almost anything and any situation in the world and outer space is fodder for U.S. protection, because property conflicts are everywhere we look. Every state in existence thwarts the rights of its citizens to some extent. All such invasions can be regarded expansively by the U.S. as open season for its own protection so as to diminish a threat to “liberty” or “freedom” here at home. There is no clearly limited stopping point if the U.S. determines for itself what foreign actions it will undertake on behalf of its home population or that of some allied nation. The U.S. is, as matters now stand, engaged across much of the world in various wars, conflicts, military exercises, threats, and disputes, all in the name of countering threats, providing protection, enforcing laws, and creating national security. Sailing a fleet of U.S. ships near the 12-mile limits of distant nature-made and man-made islands is but one small example. Even if the U.S. is more in the right than China on this case, the questions of limits on U.S. activities remain, in places like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine, Poland, Israel, Niger, etc.

A dominant protection company in an anarcho-capitalistic world will be tempted to become a state. A limited state is tempted to become an unlimited state. A dominant state is tempted to become an empire. An empire is tempted to become a world government. A group of states is tempted to become a world government. A limited government is tempted to become an unlimited government.

There is only one solution, and it’s costly. It involves constant vigilance. When people delegate powers of protection to others, they still have to be ready and able to secure their own protection by alternative means at any time while withdrawing their resources from any given protection provider. Only this readiness accompanied by constant monitoring helps prevent a given company from exploiting its position. If, on the other hand, people become lax or if they become greedy and rapacious and support a company’s aggression, war will result. A state may result.

6:04 pm on May 27, 2018

Listen to Yuri Maltsev!

He understands the enduring fetish for socialism among western elites. This is a fun conversation about the Che Guevara T-shirt types and the people creating a new class of them among millennials.

3:53 pm on May 25, 2018

Is Trump Learning?

Given the Korean debacle, there are no signs yet that Trump is learning. Learning what? For one thing, learning how to make appointments in the foreign policy arena. He chose Pence, Pompeo and Bolton and many other clowns like Nikki Haley. His staff in the first year was a joke. Does Trump yet realize that he’s giving people like this a position of power, a microphone and a license to speak out to everyone’s detriment including his own? Has he learned yet that political appointees do not act like corporate employees? Has he learned that the ambitions and weapons of his appointees are fiercer and sharper than anything he has encountered in the business world? Has he yet learned that the field of battle is much less under his control and much more devious? Has he learned political wiles? Has he learned how treacherous his closest advisors are?

Has Trump learned how to acquire information from trustworthy and knowledgeable sources beyond a closed circle that surrounds him and beyond talking heads on cable channels? This is an urgent need. Trump needs a non-appointed kitchen cabinet with deep experience. He needs people who can tell him accurately what his own official advisors are up to. He certainly needs such people to guide him away from his woefully bad appointments.

Trump stepped into the presidency as an amateur. Business experience doesn’t substitute for political experience. As in most things, specialization is the rule. Skills have to be acquired by experience. Trump doesn’t have it. Also, while being in a job is typically necessary to such development, it is not sufficient, Hillary Clinton being an example. Trump recruited a pack of wolves ready to control his moves. Has he learned that what he feels as rapport or compatibility with someone is not sufficient grounds for hiring them? Not yet.

When and if Trump learns, he will fire Bolton. He will dump Pence, if he lasts that long and runs again for president.

There is time for Trump to recover from the Korean jiggle. There is always time to come up with strategies and policies that alter the landscape, for good or ill. It’s 17 months into the Trump presidency, and there is no evidence that this caretaker emperor is steering the ship of empire any better than his recent predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “Better” in the space of foreign affairs means toward peace, toward the resolution of intractable conflicts, toward reasoned diplomacy, away from wars, away from entanglements, away from conflicts, and away from militarism. The empire’s course hasn’t changed. Syria remains a place for the U.S. to meddle. Iran remains viewed as an enemy to bully and distrust. Israel remains a nation to support unthinkingly. The war on terror remains a strategy. Venezuela remains a place to meddle in. Africa remains a new playground for military bases and state-to-state military exercises. Sadly, a Korean opportunity is currently sidelined. The neocon ideas remain in place, while Trump’s vision remains confused, inconsistent and ineffective.

Trump hasn’t learned yet to be his own president. He needs right now to do two things, if he is to own his own presidency. He needs to find, articulate, and lead toward a new and better direction for the empire, one that involves retrenchment, moderation and peaceful solutions, one that has a sound basis other than military means. The neocon philosophy has to be rejected strongly and openly. Trump needs a sounder guide than “America First”. That’s a faulty guide. It comes down to Trump choosing policies on an ad hoc basis that he happens to think support the vague “America First” notion. The result is inconsistency, contradiction, and lack of clear direction. Trump cannot possibly change the empire’s direction by abdicating leadership to a neocon clique that he himself has created. Secondly, Trump needs to select a small task force whose charge is to find new blood for this new strategy of the empire.

8:20 am on May 25, 2018