Wednesday, March 31, 2010

John Kenneth Galbraith’s “whatever works” quote appended to the 3/31/2010 Word of the Day, zeitgeist, seems far more appropriate to the previous day's realpolitik. It has everything to do with “politics guided by practical considerations, instead of principles or ethics.” Alas, Galbraith studiously ignores questions raised by even the most cursory inquiry into principles and ethics: "Works for whom? At whose expense? And who decides somebody else's expense is worth bearing?"

Small wonder U.S. law defines terrorism as “acts dangerous to human life that are in violation of the criminal laws of the United States” (emphasis added). Presumably, acts dangerous to human life and not in violation of U.S. law are perfectly acceptable--notwithstanding the protestations of those on the receiving end of a particular U.S. campaign of bombing, invading or blockading.

One might say terrorism is just a freelance version of realpolitik. One might also say the U.S.' state-sanctioned version is very much a part of the zeitgeist and a harbinger of the Gotterdammerung of the West.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

"There is no intrinsic meaning of a word. For example, black people have been called the N word, negroes, Negroes, African-Americans, blacks."

Dear Prof. Block:

Your column in yesterday's LRC brought to mind the late George Carlin's take on the Federal Communications Commission's Seven Forbidden Words. I think you know the bit. The professed libertarian Robert Anton Wilson (who, however, espoused anti-capitalist--which is to say anti-anarcho-capitalist, anti-laissez-faire, anti-free enterprise--views) wrote a chapter in his 1990 book Quantum Psychology discussing the head-scratching power wielded by those Seven Forbidden Words.

Wilson specifically addresses the hysteria surrounding the F word. He points out that one can turn on daytime television any day of the week and hear that the subject of discussion is who's F***ing whom, how he or she came to F her or him, whom that person is betraying by F***ing her or him, what people can do to enjoy a better F life, etc. Of course, the interlocutors steer clear of uttering the actual F word, using in its place words and phrases with precisely the same meaning, e.g., "making love," "having an affair," "sleeping together," etc.

Wilson's point is that words are just representations on paper or sounds emitted by our vocal cords. If the concepts underlying the words are morally offensive, and merely discussing the concepts is likewise morally offensive, then the words actually employed in the discussion are irrelevant. As you say, words have no intrinsic meaning. Or, as Carlin would say, "There are no bad words, only bad people."

But clearly this is not the case. We can talk about F***ing all we want so long as we don't use the dread F word.

Of course, a left-libertarian like Robert Anton Wilson had no qualms flouting the bugaboos of religious conservatives. Liberal sensitivities are quite another matter. He's no longer with us, but I wonder what Wilson would have to say about the N word. I admit I avoid the word like the plague. Maybe it's because I'm a libertarian and I favor the abolition of the welfare state, which makes me greedy and racist in many people's eyes.

Anyway, this is not to disagree with the premise to your argument yesterday. I'm a diehard libertarian and I use the word "capitalism," with elucidiation, every chance I get. It's a perfectly good word. Besides, there really are no bad words--my kowtowing to the N word notwithstanding.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rush is a genious! He said since Nancy Pelosi and the Dems are just going to "deem" the health care bill passed without a vote that we should just "deem" our taxes paid without filing anything. Then we can "deem" ourselves as complied with the law because we "deemed" our taxes filed.

This is my response to the Fish Eaters post above:

Great! Maybe I'll "deem" World War II, the Korean War and the ongoing War-Without-End-Amen (i.e., the Bush-Obama "Warren Terrism") have likewise ended, so "we" (i.e., the criminal government of the United States) can bring "our" U.S. troops home from Germany, Japan, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Outer Albania and the 125 other countries they currently occupy at enormous expense in U.S. tax dollars, American liberty and national security. Maybe then I can get my portion of the trillion dollars a years "we" pour down those imperial ratholes rebated on my income taxes.

But wait. The "genious" Rush (who, being a "genious," probably knows the proper spelling of the word is "genius") is all in favor of that Big Government imperial mischief-making program. It's only when the Big Government imperial mischief-making program advances the agenda of the (theoretically) more socialist Democrats that Rush and the neocons and the neocon apologists object.

Small wonder, then, as those world-weary, freedom fries-hating French might say, amidst heavy sighs and through pursed and disapproving lips. "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose." And on and on it goes.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

"A Lincolnesque leader is confident enough to be humble -- to not feel the need to bluster or dominate, but to be sufficiently sure of one's own judgment and self-worth to really listen and not be threatened by contrary advice."

~Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe; Lincoln's Obama; Newsweek (New York); Nov 24, 2008.

Thomas and Wolff's definition brought to mind another eponymous adjective: Orwellian. Anyone who studies real history, and not the ersatz version peddled by the court intellectuals at Newspeak (sic) magazine, learns of a Lincoln who conducted a war of subjugation--not liberation--in a manner diametrically opposed to his ballyhooed humility and even-handedness. Cruel, ruthless and despotic, the real Lincoln (see Thomas DiLorenzo's book by the same name) personified Isabel Paterson's "humanitarian with a guillotine." That such butchery stilll parades as benevolence speaks to the corruption of the age.


Monday, March 08, 2010

There are multigenerational conspiracies and multigenerational competing conspiracies. There are multigenerational believers and multigenerational dissenters. These are schools of thought; they don't require tapping into some Satanic force for their viability. Some people still deny FDR had foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor. Some people still believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Some people still smell something fishy about both episodes. What the hell does that prove?

Conventional theorists tend to accuse conspiracy theorists of overstating the power of the Insiders. I see no validity to the charge. We don't think the Insiders are all-powerful, just that they wield influence out of proportion to their numbers. No conspiracy is all powerful. Yes, someone always talks--but someone else counters that the person who talks (e.g., E. Howard Hunt's deathbed disclosures) lost his mind or went senile or had ulterior motives. The schools of thought go on competing. Eventually, the conspiracy becomes ancient history and nobody cares any more. Just as fewer and fewer people care about Pearl Harbor and JFK. Eventually, they'll stop caring about the truth behind 9/11.

I'd say those who dismiss out of hand any possibility the U.S. Government had any involvement or foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination or Pearl Harbor are the true cultists. This is the same gang that openly admits nearly approving Operation Northwoods. If the gang came that close to carrying out that diabolical plot, they're capable of anything. As you would expect of any government at any time and any place in this fallen world.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

You can believe 19 Muslims flew those planes into those buildings and still dispute the official account. Why did the buildings come down as if in a controlled demolition? Why, especially, did WTC-7 come down that way? Why was NORAD slow to react to the attacks? Did the U.S. Government have foreknowledge of the attacks and just let them happen? Maybe the Government was infiltrating a ring of terrorists and things got away from them? Maybe 9/11 was a sting operation that went awry?

I believe 19 Muslim terrorists flew those planes into those buildings. I believe it was blowback for U.S. meddling in the region and support for Israel. I believe to avoid future attacks the U.S. should follow Switzerland's foreign policy and stick with defending its own people and its own soil. Maybe then the U.S. can start behaving like a civilized country.

But I still think there's more to the 9/11 attacks than just 19 Muslim terrorists meting out comeuppance to the U.S. Globocop. The stench of fish is too strong.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Central banking means nationalization of the money supply. Even under the auspices of the purportedly free-market Chicago School--let alone under morally and fiscally bankrupt Keynesianism--that means socialism. Generally, it means socialism for the rich. There has to be a "countervailing philosophy" to central banking only if you care about human health, wealth, freedom, dignity and morality. Silly me. I thought those things mattered.

The Austrian School offers a countervailing position consistent with property rights and free exchange. It teaches that money is merely society's most marketable commodity. Producers and consumers can decide on what commodity best serves as a medium of exchange. None of this requires an enlightened and benevolent elite. Even if it did, no enlightened and benevolent elite exists.

There should be no legal tender laws. There should be no regulation of money or the banking industry. Regulation invariably puts the wolves in charge of the chicken coop. That's what gets us in trouble.

It's remarkable how often capitalism gets blamed for financial crises when the underlying cause is an absence of capitalism. Let consumers and producers decide what kinds and sizes of banks should prevail. Let consumers and producers bank with whomever they please. Let them employ whatever medium they choose to facilitate exchange. Let them bear the risks and reap the rewards.