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Governments Never Give Up Power Voluntarily | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on January 30, 2021

 Ludwig von Mises recognized the tendency by government wanting to control everything when he wrote:

All those in positions of political power, all governments, all kings, and all republican authorities have always looked askance at private property. There is an inherent tendency in all governmental power to recognize no restraints on its operation and to extend the sphere of its dominion as much as possible. To control everything, to leave no room for anything to happen of its own accord without the interference of the authorities—this is the goal for which every ruler secretly strives. If only private property did not stand in the way!

https://mises.org/wire/governments-never-give-power-voluntarily

Ludwig von Mises

[A selection from Liberalism.]

All those in positions of political power, all governments, all kings, and all republican authorities have always looked askance at private property. There is an inherent tendency in all governmental power to recognize no restraints on its operation and to extend the sphere of its dominion as much as possible. To control everything, to leave no room for anything to happen of its own accord without the interference of the authorities—this is the goal for which every ruler secretly strives. If only private property did not stand in the way! Private property creates for the individual a sphere in which he is free of the state. It sets limits to the operation of the authoritarian will. It allows other forces to arise side by side with and in opposition to political power. It thus becomes the basis of all those activities that are free from violent interference on the part of the state. It is the soil in which the seeds of freedom are nurtured and in which the autonomy of the individual and ultimately all intellectual and material progress are rooted. In this sense, it has even been called the fundamental prerequisite for the development of the individual. But it is only with many reservations that the latter formulation can be considered acceptable, because the customary opposition between individual and collectivity, between individualistic and collective ideas and aims, or even between individualistic and universalistic science, is an empty shibboleth.

Thus, there has never been a political power that voluntarily desisted from impeding the free development and operation of the institution of private ownership of the means of production. Governments tolerate private property when they are compelled to do so, but they do not acknowledge it voluntarily in recognition of its necessity. Even liberal politicians, on gaining power, have usually relegated their liberal principles more or less to the background. The tendency to impose oppressive restraints on private property, to abuse political power, and to refuse to respect or recognize any free sphere outside or beyond the dominion of the state is too deeply ingrained in the mentality of those who control the governmental apparatus of compulsion and coercion for them ever to be able to resist it voluntarily. A liberal government is a contradictio in adjecto. Governments must be forced into adopting liberalism by the power of the unanimous opinion of the people; that they could voluntarily become liberal is not to be expected.

It is easy to understand what would constrain rulers to recognize the property rights of their subjects in a society composed exclusively of farmers all of whom were equally rich. In such a social order, every attempt to abridge the right to property would immediately meet with the resistance of a united front of all subjects against the government and thus bring about the latter’s fall. The situation is essentially different, however, in a society in which there is not only agricultural but also industrial production, and especially where there are big business enterprises involving large-scale investments in industry, mining, and trade. In such a society, it is quite possible for those in control of the government to take action against private property. In fact, politically there is nothing more advantageous for a government than an attack on property rights, for it is always an easy matter to incite the masses against the owners of land and capital. From time immemorial, therefore, it has been the idea of all absolute monarchs, of all despots and tyrants, to ally themselves with the “people” against the propertied classes. The Second Empire of Louis Napoleon was not the only regime to be founded on the principle of Caesarism. The Prussian authoritarian state of the Hohenzollerns also took up the idea, introduced by Lassalle into German politics during the Prussian constitutional struggle, of winning the masses of workers to the battle against the liberal bourgeoisie by means of a policy of etatism and interventionism. This was the basic principle of the “social monarchy” so highly extolled by Schmoller and his school.

In spite of all persecutions, however, the institution of private property has survived. Neither the animosity of all governments, nor the hostile campaign waged against it by writers and moralists and by churches and religions, nor the resentment of the masses—itself deeply rooted in instinctive envy—has availed to abolish it. Every attempt to replace it with some other method of organizing production and distribution has always of itself promptly proved unfeasible to the point of absurdity. People have had to recognize that the institution of private property is indispensable and to revert to it whether they liked it or not.

But for all that, they have still refused to admit that the reason for this return to the institution of free private ownership of the means of production is to be found in the fact that an economic system serving the needs and purposes of man’s life in society is, in principle, impracticable except on this foundation. People have been unable to make up their minds to rid themselves of an ideology to which they have become attached, namely, the belief that private property is an evil that cannot, at least for the time being, be dispensed with as long as men have not yet sufficiently evolved ethically. While governments—contrary to their intentions, of course, and to the inherent tendency of every organized center of power—have reconciled themselves to the existence of private property, they have still continued to adhere firmly—not only outwardly, but also in their own thinking—to an ideology hostile to property rights. Indeed, they consider opposition to private property to be correct in principle and any deviation from it on their part to be due solely to their own weakness or to consideration for the interests of powerful groups. Author:

Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian school of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises’s writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science that he called praxeology.

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A Reader’s Guide to Liberalism | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on January 10, 2021

Some historians such as the paleoconservative scholar Paul Gottfried make the case that old school liberalism transitioned into a more progressive statism centered on social engineering and behavioral control starting in the 1900s. In his book, After Liberalism, Gottfried documents how the restrained liberalism of the 19th century gradually vanished, to be later replaced by its modern-day successor.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/a-readers-guide-to-liberalism/

After Liberalism

Has the definition of “liberal” changed over time?

One of the more compelling debates in American intellectual circles concerns classical liberalism vs modern liberalism.

In American parlance, the word liberal is used reflexively, often without much deep thought about its origin. It usually refers to individuals associated with the contemporary left and loosely connected to the Democratic Party. However, liberal did not always have that connotation in American politics.

To understand these changes, let’s take a stroll down memory lane to learn how its meaning has evolved over time.

Classical Liberalism vs. Modern Liberalism

Originally, liberalism was associated with a political philosophy of governance that protected individual rights, called for checks on government, encouraged economic freedom, and was centered around individualism.

In the present, we see liberalism generally associated with the modern-day political Left which is more focused on using the state to proactively promote egalitarianism and purge society of perceived blights such as racism, oppression, and patriarchal institutions.

The proactive role for the state to modify behavior would seem foreign to the liberals of yore, who generally believed in a restrained state. Crucial historical developments such as the Progressive Era, World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II forever changed American politics, and by extension, politics in the West.

One of the more profound changes was the way the word “liberal” would be used in political speech.

What Changed

Some historians such as the paleoconservative scholar Paul Gottfried make the case that old school liberalism transitioned into a more progressive statism centered on social engineering and behavioral control starting in the 1900s. In his book, After Liberalism, Gottfried documents how the restrained liberalism of the 19th century gradually vanished, to be later replaced by its modern-day successor.

Gottfried argued that “Liberalism is increasingly adrift. Having gone over to social planning earlier in the century, it had to jettison its nineteenth-century heritage in return for humanitarian and ‘scientific’ goals.” The rise of the Progressive Movement at the end of the 19th century, which came about in response to the perceived injustices of the Gilded Age, started to plant the seeds of 19th century liberalism’s destruction.

From Laissez-Faire Capitalism to Welfare Capitalism

Welfare capitalism was a reasonable compromise for those skeptical of both the market and totalitarian economic systems such as Communism. This contemporary political economy generally features a system of progressive taxation, national wage standards, state-run pension systems, and welfare programs for the poor.

On the behavioral front, liberal states in the past century frequently turned to anti-discrimination laws and administrative edicts to purge society of undesirable behavior such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. Top-down state activism was justified under the banner of promoting social justice.

How Progressivism Grew

Many progressive reformers started out locally, but this was only one step in their quest for power. Their vision was to make their way to the top and use the levers of state power to mold American society along scientific lines. Although Progressives had an elitist outlook, they saw mass democracy as one tool to overthrow the previous political order.

The Impact of War on Liberalism

World War I was a major catalyst for governments across the West to assume greater powers than previously imagined. It is often forgotten that a battery of commissions set up during this period inspired a number of New Deal era agencies. Progressives did not see war-time measures as temporary, but rather stepping stones for even larger interventions that would become permanent in times of peace.

Education as a Tool to Socialize the Masses

Progressives were busy on the education front as well. They recognized the power of public education as a tool to socialize the masses. So they did not waste any time to impose their beliefs on the malleable minds of America’s youth.

Educators such as Thomas Dewey were energetic about using public education to spread progressive liberal ideas and socialize the American public. Dewey originally championed progressivism, but grew tired of the term over time.

Gottfried observed that other ideological currents taking root in the early 1900s, compelled reformers like Dewey to describe their approach as “liberal” by default:

“When Dewey decided to characterize his proposed social reforms as ‘liberal,’ he had already tried out ‘progressive,’ ‘corporate,’ and ‘organic.’ The rise of fascism may have rendered rhetorically problematic the last two alternatives to “liberal.” And since there were competitors for ‘progressive’ associated with the reform wings of the two major national parties, Dewey and his confreres may have become ‘liberals’ faute de mieux.”

The Transformational Era of the New Deal

Once the New Deal rolled around, the word “liberal” took on a whole different meaning in American parlance. In Gottfried’s view, the rise of the managerial state — a technocratic state that occupies itself with modifying people’s behavior — during the Progressive Era and its subsequent consolidation during the interventionist period of the New Deal is what put an end to the liberal current of the 19th century.

The economist John Maynard Keynes played an integral role throughout the New Deal in normalizing government intervention in the economy. His public policy prescriptions of massive government spending and bureaucratic administration were a radical departure from the previous laissez-faire paradigm of divided powers, bourgeois morality, and a robust civil society to keep the state in check.

The Civil Rights Revolution’s Knockout Punch

The Great Society reforms of the 1960s further accelerated the ascent of modern-day liberalism after anti-discrimination laws and welfare became the norm. Once the 1960s ended, American liberalism became a force for social reconstruction that made the liberalism of the previous century look even quainter.

Gottfried contended that “Liberalism now survives as a series of social programs informed by a vague egalitarian spirit, and it maintains its power by pointing its finger accusingly at antiliberals.” The constant desire to reshape society is part and parcel of the modern-day liberal experiment.

What is Modern Liberalism

Modern-day liberalism mostly refers to the mass democratic philosophy that center-Left political parties across the West — from liberal internationalists to social democrats — have thoroughly embraced. The way one can define modern liberalism is by characterizing it as a system which features a mixed economy with an activist state that is involved in molding people’s behaviors.

Classical liberals believed in the protection of private property, free speech, and a robust civil society. Modern liberals were more in favor of using the state as a vehicle of promoting social change. They are by no means communists. Modern liberals still believe in private property and civil society outside of the state.

But for the modern-day liberal, these institutions could be exploited and co-opted to serve managerial elites’ ends. Modern liberals ultimately conceded that a functioning market was necessary for funding a welfare state.

What is Classical Liberalism

Figuring out the difference between classical liberalism and modern liberalism requires us to go back to the origins of liberalism itself. English philosopher John Locke is largely credited as the founder of classical liberalism and his example serves as a good starting point for any classical liberal vs modern liberal analysis.

His famous Two Treatises of Civil Government functioned as the definitive text for liberal governance in a time when Europe was largely marked by absolutist monarchies. Locke did not believe in the divine right of kings but was rather of the view that governments needed the consent of the governed in order to have legitimacy.

Locke’s emphasis on “pre-political” rights was revolutionary in that it placed the individual at the forefront of any political order. In addition, individuals could set up their own governments and disband them if they felt that they no longer protected their rights.

For Locke, the government’s only legitimate function was to protect life and property. His ideas would play integral roles during the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution.

The American Revolution’s Liberal Origins

In the case of the American Revolution, a number of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence drew heavily from Locke. They used his ideology as a basis of rebelling against the British government, which they perceived as a government that usurped its legitimate functions and violated traditional English liberties.

America’s Liberal Experiment in Action

Subsequently, the founding generation drew from Lockean principles to codify a number of civil liberties and limited government functions in the U.S. constitution.  These included a separation of powers between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches and the protection of liberties such as the freedom of religion, free speech, freedom to peacefully assemble, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, and due process.

The French’s Role in Influencing American Governance

The separation of powers was largely inspired by liberal thinkers such as the French political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu and his Enlightenment counterparts who championed a social contract of sorts between individuals and the state. Under this political order, the rule of law, equal rights among rulers and the ruled, and the ability for citizens to petition their government would be safeguarded.

How Classical Liberalism Provided the Intellectual Backbone for Capitalism

Classical liberalism wasn’t just confined to the political sphere. Economists such as Adam Smith took the logic of liberalism and applied it to economic policy. Smith became a firm believer in a capitalist economy that promoted free commerce between nations, as opposed to the prevailing mercantilist model that European preferred at the time.

Similar to Locke’s political works, Smith’s Wealth of Nations became one of the most influential pieces of economic literature in human history and put the field of economics on the map.

Classical Liberalism’s Peak in the 19th Century

By the mid-19th century, liberalism reached a turning point after the British Empire embraced global free trade through its repeal of the Corn Laws. From that point until World War I, Britain and most of the West enjoyed unprecedented economic prosperity, relative peace, and a gradual transition to constitutional democratic rule.

For many historians of liberalism, the Gilded Age or Belle Epoque (Beautiful Era) was the height of personal freedom in the West combined with a level of economic growth that was never seen before thanks to the Industrial Revolution.

Given these historical contrasts, it’s no surprise why many historians like to participate in the classical liberal vs modern liberal discussion. Upon deep inspection, there are clear differences in these ideological strands, which merit considerable analysis.

Classical Liberalism vs Modern Liberalism on the Nolan Chart

Nolan Chart

The Nolan chart was named after David Nolan, a respected activist who was heavily involved in the liberty movement. This chart has helped determine how Americans identify themselves on the political spectrum. It went beyond the typical liberalism vs. conservatism debates of the 1900s and added a twist by including criteria that was generally associated with libertarianism.

The chart is divided into four quadrants that list political viewpoints along two axes, which highlight economic and personal freedom.

The classical liberal respect for individual liberties and a restrained state has lived on in modern-day libertarianism. Most classical liberals would likely score in the lower part of the libertarian quadrant closer towards the centrist bloc.

Liberals in the present, on the other hand, would probably land more on the left hand progressive quadrant, with some sliding downwards towards statism. Their economic views put them well to the left of all free-market liberals.

That said, there are some progressives and contemporary liberals who share similar views with free-market liberals regarding civil liberties.

Liberalism’s Comeback

19th century liberal ideas have witnessed somewhat of a comeback but with a slightly more radical twist after World War II. Economists such as Friedrich A. Hayek and Milton Friedman helped supply the intellectual ammo that sparked a resurgence in liberal thought and the subsequent entrance of libertarianism in American politics.

The Differences Between Classical Liberals and Libertarians

Although there are considerable degrees of overlap between classical liberals and libertarians, the latter tend to be more radical in their views of the role the state plays in society and how much government intervention should be tolerated.

For many sects of libertarianism, the state should only be limited to the provision of defense, the court system, and law enforcement. The more anarchist wings of this movement tend to believe that the private sector and civil society can assume all competencies of the state.

Where Liberalism Stands Now

As much as some would like to deny it, the definition of words matter. They can have different meanings depending on the country, time, or place. In the rest of the Anglosphere, liberal is generally associated with the free-market Right.

The same is the case in Spanish-speaking countries. However, this has not been the case in the American context. Political movements tend to come and go throughout history.

The Percieved Triumph of Liberalism Against Communism

The 20th century largely saw the demise of 19th century liberalism and ushered in a completely different paradigm. The waning years of the Cold War witnessed the demise of Soviet-style totalitarianism and the perceived triumph of liberal democracy.

Political leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan provided the public policies and political leadership that allowed for market-based liberalism to thrive and set itself apart from central planning.

The New Liberal Consensus

By the 1990s, market-based economies were generally accepted by elites and became the order of the day. This became embodied in “neoliberalism”, a resurgence of economic liberalism in the form of lower tariffs, multilateral trade, less stringent migration, moves towards privatization of state enterprises, and slightly sleeker welfare states.

Neoliberal Dominance 

In contrast to its distant 19th century ancestor, neoliberalism was not as pro-liberty and still maintained the managerial state and the concomitant social engineering measures that were established in the 1960s. Regardless, the ideological dominance of neoliberalism cannot be denied as most of the globe has embraced some form of market economy and has largely rejected Soviet-style central planning.

Although the New Deal saw a leftist shift on economics issues, “neoliberals” of the post-Cold War era started taking more market-based positions on multilateral free trade and immigration.

The Fragile Nature of the Post-Cold War Order 

At a glance, post-Cold War liberals have appeared to engage in a form of “fusionism”, wherein they blend free-market positions on immigration and trade, with more left collectivist positions on education, healthcare, free speech, gender relations, and freedom of association.

The emergence of “wokism” has further perverted liberalism, as its collectivism has now become more racialized and has taken on an iconoclastic form now that basic gender relations, appreciation for a nation’s history, and free speech are all being called into question.

Many liberals have grudgingly moved along with this new trend of leftism. Indeed, a 90s neoliberal would likely shudder at the prospect of any member of the woke generation coming into power.

The Challenge of Resurrecting Liberal Ideas

Several public intellectuals such as American political commentator Dave Rubin and psychology professor Jordan Peterson have made attempts to resurrect old liberalism in a time when political discourse is threatened by cancel culture and anti-free speech forces on the Left.

Based on the new political challenges of the 21st century, classically liberal ideas have a tall task in front of them in trying to become relevant again in political movements on the Right. Nationalism and conservatism are the most influential movements on the Right at the moment and they have generally become less liberal over time.

Regardless of the changing political ecosystem, it would still benefit people to understand the classical liberalism vs. modern liberalism debate in order to make sense of our ever-changing political environment.

This article was originally featured at the Libertas Bella blog

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How Historians Changed the Meaning of “Liberalism” | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 4, 2020

https://mises.org/wire/how-historians-changed-meaning-liberalism?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=d1adf222d9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_07_03_04_46&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-d1adf222d9-228343965

Understandably enough, the current disfavor into which socialism has fallen has spurred what Raimondo Cubeddu (1997: 138) refers to as “the frenzy to proclaim oneself a liberal.” Many writers today have recourse to the stratagem of “inventing for oneself a ‘liberalism’ according to one’s own tastes” and passing it off as an “evolution” from past ideas. “The superabundance of liberalisms,” Cubeddu warns, “like that of money, ends up by debasing everything and emptying everything of meaning.”1

In truth, a survey of the literature on liberalism reveals a condition of conceptual mayhem. One root cause of this is the frequent attempt to accommodate all important political groupings that have called themselves “liberal.” This is an approach favored by some British scholars in particular, in whose conception of liberalism the doings and sayings of the British Liberal Party of the twentieth century weigh mightily (e.g., Eccleshall 1986; Vincent 1988).

There is no doubt that after around 1900 the Liberal Party in Britain veered increasingly in a statist direction. In the United States a similar transformation took place within the Democratic Party—once “the party of Jefferson and Jackson”—at a somewhat later date. But such shifts, evident also in Continental parties that kept the liberal name, are easily explained by the dynamics of democratic electoral politics.

Faced with the competition of collectivist ideas, liberal parties produced a new breed of “political entrepreneurs,” men skilled at mobilizing “rent-seeking” constituencies, i.e., those who use the state to enhance their economic position. In order to gain power, these leaders revised the liberal program to the point where it was “practically indistinguishable from democratic and social-reformist ideas, ending up by accepting the notion of the state as an instrument for redesigning society to produce particular ends” (Cubeddu 1997: 26).2

If one holds that the meaning of liberal must be modified because of ideological shifts within the British Liberal Party (or the Democratic Party in the United States), then due consideration must also be given to the National Liberals of Imperial Germany. They—as well as David Lloyd George and John Maynard Keynes—would have a claim to be situated in the same ideological category as, say, Richard Cobden, John Bright, and Herbert Spencer. Yet the National Liberals supported, among other measures: the Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church and the anti-socialist laws; Bismarck’s abandonment of free trade and his introduction of the welfare state; the forcible Germanization of the Poles; colonial expansion and Weltpolitik; and the military and especially naval buildup under Wilhelm II (Klein-Hattingen 1912; Raico 1999: 86–151, and passim). Actually, if one simply went by party labels, the National Liberals would have more of a right to the title liberal than the authentically liberal German Progressives and Freisinn, whom they opposed, and the question of whether the National Liberals betrayed genuine liberalism in Germany could not even be raised.

A similar difficulty is presented by the case of Friedrich Naumann, regarded by many nowadays as the exemplary German liberal leader of the early twentieth century.

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Seattle’s Liberal Reckoning | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 7, 2020

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/seattles-liberal-reckoning/

Thanks to its far-left mindset, violent crime and homelessness are increasingly running rampant here.

Seattle is in the grip of a far-left mindset. That became all the more evident, as if evidence were needed, during last year’s city council elections. Many foresaw these as likely to bring to leadership a new breed of business-backed politicians bent on repudiating the council’s progressive-socialist leanings. Finally, it was predicted, a sane brand of political moderation would emerge in Seattle government.

It didn’t happen. In the campaign’s final days, the top issue became the intent of Amazon and its leader Jeff Bezos to “buy” the election with a $1.5 million cash infusion into the coffers of the city’s business coalition. “Within days,” wrote Christopher Rufo of City Journal, “the referendum on a failed city council had been transformed into a referendum on corporate power.” There could be no question as to who would win that contest.

The result, said Rufo, was “the most liberal city council in history,” one that seems to be “out for revenge” against business interests and their moderate supporters. The stated agenda of many city council members now includes rent control, drug-consumption sites, the decriminalization of prostitution, the legalization of homeless encampments, the defunding of significant police programs, free public transit, and big new taxes on the rich, with particular emphasis, not surprisingly, on Amazon and its top executives.

A question that has haunted this city in recent weeks is to what extent this potent liberal sensibility contributed to the ghastly downtown event that occurred January 22. That was when three men, apparently street gang members, got embroiled in a rush-hour gunfight at the crowded intersection of Pine Street and Third Avenue. A 50-year-old female, described by the Seattle Times as a “joyful woman who lived a rich life,” was killed, and seven others were wounded, including one of the shooters. After the melee, police found some 20 shell casings at the scene.

While the local paper’s extensive coverage of the event and its aftermath didn’t explicitly raise the question of liberalism’s culpability, it nevertheless seemed to be on the minds of some Seattleites interviewed by the Times. A main focus for many was why these men were on the street in the first place and why city officials can’t find effective ways to combat such violence. Those who initiated the gun battle had extensive criminal records that reflected a certain persistent laxity in the application of the law. One Times headline read: “Tragic violence, unsurprising story.” The subhead: “Seattle’s long-running effort to address crime and sporadic violence downtown falls short.”

Attention turned inevitably to the three suspects. One of them, Jamel Jackson, 21, had previously been involved in a violent incident at the same downtown intersection, when he allegedly punched and kicked a victim who got embroiled with a female gang member in the middle of a large crowd. He had in his possession a loaded 9-mm handgun. He avoided prosecution for the assault by pleading guilty to illegal firearm possession, for which he was sentenced to four months of home detention. According to the Times, he had been told by at least four superior court judges that he was not to possess firearms, a proscription that he apparently ignored with impunity.

The other suspects, Marquis Tolbert and William Tolliver, both 24, had extensive criminal records when apprehended by police in Nevada on February 1. The Times reported that Tolbert had been arrested by Seattle-area police at least 50 times, while Tolliver had been arrested only around 25 times. Both were taken into custody in 2018 in connection with a drive-by shooting, but the charge against Tolliver was dismissed “in the interest of justice,” according to court documents that didn’t elaborate.

Tolbert got the drive-by shooting charge dismissed, along with two other felony charges, when he pleaded guilty to ripping a $1,500 gold necklace from the neck of a woman in a Seattle suburb. For that crime, he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, with credit for time served, and 18 months of “community supervision” after the prison term. Almost immediately he violated the terms of his community supervision, and an arrest warrant was issued for him last August 19. But he was never apprehended and thus was at large on January 22 to involve himself in the bloody Seattle gun battle.

That’s the problem, in the view of Jon Scholes, president of a group called the Downtown Seattle Association. The Times quoted him as saying, “What we’ve all known way too long is that the heart of our city is a haven for criminals.” He advocated a police force expansion, redeployment of officers from special units to patrol duties, and greater efforts to apprehend people with open warrants such as Tolliver and Tolbert. “We need…” said Scholes, “more dedicated resources to deal with the people that we know are cycling through the criminal justice system. They’re thumbing their nose at the system and the community.”

But city officials, true to their liberal sensibility, seem more focused on the availability of guns. The Times quoted Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best as saying that the problem was “people with guns who shouldn’t have had the guns, in an area firing shots.” And Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, while pledging to fight crime on many fronts, also emphasized the gun issue. “If this had been a fistfight eight people would not have ended up at the hospital,” she said. “There are too many guns in our country.” Former mayor Mike McGinn, meanwhile, lamely suggested that the problem of violent crime simply couldn’t be addressed effectively through greater police efforts. “We’ve tried more arrests,” he said. “That doesn’t actually work.” He favored youth programs and “reentry” efforts to wean criminals away from criminal activity.

Seattle is not a high-crime city, at least in terms of violent crime. But it is grappling with a homelessness crisis that is sapping civic stability and fostering a large increase in petty lawbreaking. Meanwhile, city officials such as Durkan and Best seem incapable of addressing this erosion in any serious way.

In his searing documentary of last year, “Seattle is Dying,” KOMO-TV’s Eric Johnson painted a dire picture by citing police officers who say the city’s lax enforcement regimen has tied their hands, quoting citizens saying they’re fed up with growing theft, and showing the frustrations of local business owners whose livelihoods are threatened by what they consider official inertia in the face of these problems.

Writing on KOMO’s website, Johnson said his documentary was “about citizens who don’t feel safe taking their families into downtown Seattle….about parents who won’t take their children into public parks they pay for. It’s about filth and degradation all around us. And theft and crime. It’s about people who don’t feel protected anymore, who don’t feel like their voices are being heard.”

Johnson’s documentary was aired in March of last year, some seven months before the Seattle City Council elections. It touched a nerve among many Seattleites and kicked up gale-force winds of controversy throughout the city and beyond. In the end, though, it didn’t have much impact. It will take a lot more civic chaos, dysfunction, and violence for this city to make the connection between that decay and the kind of leadership it so avidly favors. Seattle may or may not be dying, but it is in a far more ominous state of civic health than most of its citizens realize.

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Quotation of the Day… – Cafe Hayek

Posted by M. C. on November 26, 2019

I ask innocently, when has it been a good idea to “bridle” a person like a horse? [Thomas] Piketty’s idea is to bridle most people so that some people will not become rich. It is a mistake.

https://cafehayek.com/2019/11/quotation-of-the-day-2989.html

by Don Boudreaux on November 26, 2019

… is from page 155 of Deirdre McCloskey’s 2019 excellent book, Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All:

The danger is that each new generation will not realize how good for the poor the Bourgeois Deal has been, and will forget how bad the earlier deals have been – the Bolshevik Deal, for example, in which the government takes over the railways and the electric companies and the newsagents and the newspapers and your employment, and everything else. Or the Bridle Deal, in which excessive regulations work against “unbridled” commercially tested betterment. I ask innocently, when has it been a good idea to “bridle” a person like a horse? [Thomas] Piketty’s idea is to bridle most people so that some people will not become rich. It is a mistake.

DBx: Yes. And, by the way, neither the reality nor the significance of the historical lessons to which Deirdre above refers can be made to disappear by uttering “Ok Boomer.”

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Thinking the Unthinkable, Saying the Unsayable — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on September 24, 2019

The end of Western culture?

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/09/21/thinking-unthinkable-saying-unsayable/

Patrick Armstrong

 

We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.

– The Showa Emperor, August 1945

A couple of months ago Putin observed that the time of modern day liberalism had passed.

There is also the so-called liberal idea, which has outlived its purpose. Our Western partners have admitted that some elements of the liberal idea, such as multiculturalism, are no longer tenable.

Liberalism, in its current manifestation, he suggested, was failing its people. The remarks were happily seized on to bolster the meme that Putin is the enemy. We were assured that liberalism was just fine and criticism was just what you’d expect from “a bloody dictator“. No, Mr. Putin, liberalism is not dead. Martin Wolf: why Vladimir Putin is wrong to claim liberalism is dead. Putin is wrong. Liberalism is more important than ever. So there the issue sat: Putin had been slapped down and any deviations from happy complacency – maillots jaunes, Brexit, Trump – were his fault. His attempts to wreck us would fail because “Defences have proven stronger; citizens are getting wiser“. In any case, Russia won’t be around much longer; the end was coming soon in 2001, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2014, 2019. Well… someday soon.

And then, out of the blue, appears this (my emphases):

We experience this world all together and you know that better than I, but the international order is being disrupted in an unprecedented way, with massive upheaval, probably for the first time in our history, in almost all areas and on a historic scale. Above all, a transformation, a geopolitical and strategic reconfiguration. We are probably in the process of experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world. We were used to an international order that had been based on Western hegemony since the 18th century… Things change. And they have been deeply affected by the mistakes made by Westerners in certain crises, by American decisions over the last several years which did not start with this administration, but have led us to re-examine certain involvements in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, and to re-think fundamental diplomatic and military strategy and on occasion elements of solidarity which we thought were forever inalienable… And it is also the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for far too long.

China first and foremost as well as Russia’s strategy that has, let’s face it, been pursued with greater success over the last few years.

Putin’s gone over the top here: End of Western hegemony? Mistakes? Reconsider? Russia‘s success? Well isn’t that just what he would want you to think? The sower of divisions, doubts and chaos just wants us to give up.

Except that the speaker is French President Emmanuel Macron

Video, English. Macron understands that things have got worse for many in the West and says so – maybe the maillots jaunes have got their message though. The market economy, that used to work well, today produces serious inequalities:

When the middle classes, which form the basis of our democracies, no longer have a fair share in it, they start to express doubts and are legitimately tempted by authoritarian regimes or illiberal democracies, or are tempted to question this economic system.

if we continue as before, then we will definitely lose control. And that would mean obliteration. (l’effacement).

He even (!) has a kind word for Orbán in Hungary.

(I don’t think he’s fully thought it out: if, as he thinks, the proper role for France and Europe is to balance between the USA and China, then that will require an independent position: Beijing could never regard an ally of Washington as a “balancer”. So… out of NATO. But he hasn’t got there yet.)

But what he says about Russia is more interesting: the West made mistakes (no counterfeit modesty of allowing that, perhaps, we’re in there for one or two percent of the blame):

We are part of Europe; so is Russia. And if we are unable to accomplish anything useful with Russia at any given time, we will remain in a state of deeply unproductive tension. We will continue to be stuck in conflicts throughout Europe. Europe will continue to be the theatre of a strategic battle between the United States and Russia, with the consequences of the Cold War still visible on our soil. And we will not lay the groundwork for the profound re-creation of European civilization that I mentioned earlier. Because we cannot do that without reassessing in depth, in great depth, our relationship with Russia. I also think that pushing Russia away from Europe is a major strategic error, because we are pushing it either toward isolation, which heightens tensions, or toward alliances with other great powers such as China, which would not at all be in our interest. At the same time, it must be said that while our relations have been based on mistrust, there are documented reasons for it. We’ve witnessed cyber-attacks, the destabilization of democracies, and a Russian project that is deeply conservative and opposed to the EU project. And all that basically developed in the 1990s and 2000s when a series of misunderstandings took place, and when Europe no doubt did not enact its own strategy [l’Europe n’a pas joué une stratégie propre] and gave the impression of being a Trojan Horse for the West, whose final aim was to destroy Russia, and when Russia built a fantasy around the destruction of the West and the weakening of the EU. That is the situation. We can deplore it, we can continue to jockey for position, but it is not in our best interest to do so. Nor is it in our interest to show a guilty weakness toward Russia and to believe that we should forget all the disagreements and past conflicts, and fall into each other’s arms. No. But I believe we must very carefully rethink the fundamentals. I believe we must build a new architecture based on trust and security in Europe, because the European continent will never be stable, will never be secure, if we do not ease and clarify our relations with Russia. That is not in the interest of some of our allies, let’s be clear about that. Some of them will urge us to impose more sanctions on Russia because it is in their interest.

The end of the INF Treaty requires us to have this dialogue [with Russia], because the missiles would return to our territory.

He’s not entirely free from delusion:

that great power [Russia], which invests a great deal in arming itself and frightens us so much, has the gross domestic product of Spain, a declining demographic, an ageing population and growing political tension.

(If it were declining it wouldn’t be as successful as he said it was earlier, would it? And the GDP argument is nonsense.) And “cyber-attacks, the destabilization of democracies, and a Russian project that is deeply conservative and opposed to the EU project” is the usual unexamined twaddle. And if Russia dreamed of destroying an entity which was giving “the impression” that its “final aim” was to “destroy” it, it would just have been defending itself, wouldn’t it? But every journey begins with a single step and this is very far from the usual “if Russia would behave ‘like a normal country‘ we might let it back into the club on probation”.

What really struck me was this:

Take India, Russia and China for example. They have a lot more political inspiration than Europeans today. They take a logical approach to the world, they have a genuine philosophy, a resourcefulness that we have to a certain extent lost.

So the West is not “logical”, has a “shallow philosophy” and no ingenuity. (You know it’s true, don’t you?)

One of the major players in the Western World’s ancien régime is saying:

Our day is coming to an end

and the other guys have a better take on things than we do.

We at Strategic Culture Foundation and other alternative outlets may take pleasure that when we said the world was changing, that the Western establishment was dangerously unaware, when we said that Russia and China were stronger and more resilient than complacent op-ed writers thought they were, that the West was fragile, that Western leaders had failed their people, we were not just crazy people shouting at lamp-posts: a principal of the ancien régime agrees with us. Maybe they do read us in the Elysée.

(Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, they haven’t got the memo:

We don’t always get it right. Not always perfect. But our efforts are noble and important, and we try to make America secure and at the same time [improve] the lives of people in every country … to improve their capacity for freedom and liberty in their own nation.)

But, when all is said and done, it’s just a speech. Will we see actions that prove intent? Suggestions: Crimea is Russian; the fighting in Ukraine is a civil war; Assad’s future is up to Syrians; Maduro’s of Venezuelans; everybody out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria ASAP; stop arming the killers in Yemen. Lots to admit to; lots to stop doing.

We may have a clue soon: a Normandy Format meeting on Ukraine to which Macron has invited Putin. If it’s more claptrap about how Moscow must honour its commitments under the Minsk agreement (there are none – the word “Russia” does not appear) then we’ll know that it was just words.

Western media coverage will be interesting to watch – not much at the moment in the Anglophone world and what there is misses the big points; several times it’s presented as just a “turn away” from Trump (which it is – more evidence for my Gordian Knot theory). But what he’s saying is hard to take in if you’ve been cruising along, confident that what is “really obsolete” is not liberalism but “authoritarianism, personality cults and the rule of oligarchs”; it will take time before it sinks in that one of the prominent figures of the Western establishment is pretty close to agreement with Putin.

 

Be seeing you

 

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Secession and the State – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 29, 2019

Liberalism here is classical liberalism. Before the fall.

Some might call it Paleoconservative.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/07/ludwig-von-mises/mises-on-secession/

Mises on Secession

By and

A nation, therefore, has no right to say to a province: You belong to me, I want to take you. A province consists of its inhabitants. If anybody has a right to be heard in this case it is these inhabitants. Boundary disputes should be settled by plebiscite. (Omnipotent Government, p. 90)

No people and no part of a people shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want. (Nation, State, and Economy, p. 34)

Liberalism knows no conquests, no annexations; just as it is indifferent towards the state itself, so the problem of the size of the state is unimportant to it. It forces no one against his will into the structure of the state. Whoever wants to emigrate is not held back. When a part of the people of the state wants to drop out of the union, liberalism does not hinder it from doing so. Colonies that want to become independent need only do so. The nation as an organic entity can be neither increased nor reduced by changes in states; the world as a whole can neither win nor lose from them. (Nation, State, and Economy, pp. 39–40).

The size of a states territory therefore does not matter. (Nation, State, and Economy, p. 82)

The right of self-determination in regard to the question of membership in a state thus means: whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars. (Liberalism, p. 109)

If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done. (Liberalism, pp. 109–10)

The situation of having to belong to a state to which one does not wish to belong is no less onerous if it is the result of an election than if one must endure it as the consequence of a military conquest. (Liberalism, p. 119)

It makes no difference where the frontiers of a country are drawn. Nobody has a special material interest in enlarging the territory of the state in which he lives; nobody suffers loss if a part of this area is separated from the state. It is also immaterial whether all parts of the states territory are in direct geographical connection, or whether they are separated by a piece of land belonging to another state. It is of no economic importance whether the country has a frontage on the ocean or not. In such a world the people of every village or district could decide by plebiscite to which state they wanted to belong. (Omnipotent Government, p. 92)

From an interview with Hans-Hermann Hoppe in the Austrian Economics Newsletter:

AEN: Was Mises better than the classical liberals on the question of the state?

HOPPE: Mises thought it was necessary to have an institution that suppresses those people who cannot behave appropriately in society, people who are a danger because they steal and murder. He calls this institution government.

But he has a unique idea of how government should work. To check its power, every group and every individual, if possible, must have the right to secede from the territory of the state. He called this the right of self-determination, not of nations as the League of Nations said, but of villages, districts, and groups of any size. In Liberalism and Nation, State, and Economy, he elevates secession to a central principle of classical liberalism. If it were possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, he says, it would have to be done. Thus the democratic state becomes, for Mises, a voluntary organization.

AEN: Yet you have been a strong critic of democracy.

HOPPE: Yes, as that term is usually understood. But under Mises’s unique definition of democracy, the term means self-rule or self-government in its most literal sense. All organizations in society, including government, should be the result of voluntary interactions.

In a sense you can say that Mises was a near anarchist. If he stopped short of affirming the right of individual secession, it was only because of what he regarded as technical grounds. In modern democracy, we exalt the method of majority rule as the means of electing the rulers of a compulsory monopoly of taxation.

Mises frequently made an analogy between voting and the marketplace. But he was quite aware that voting in the marketplace means voting with your own property. The weight of your vote is in accord with your value productivity. In the political arena, you do not vote with your property; you vote concerning the property of everyone, including your own. People do not have votes according to their value productivity.

AEN: Yet Mises attacks anarchism in no uncertain terms.

HOPPE: His targets here are left-utopians. He attacks their theory that man is good enough not to need an organized defense against the enemies of civilization. But this is not what the private-property anarchist believes. Of course, murderers and thieves exist. There needs to be an institution that keeps these people at bay. Mises calls this institution government, while people who want no state at all point out that all essential defensive services can be better performed by firms in the market. We can call these firms government if we want to.

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Liberalism Is Suicidism – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on October 22, 2017

Pat is making a lot of this moment in history. I hope he is right.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/10/patrick-j-buchanan/is-liberalism-a-dying-faith/

Equality, diversity, democracy — this is the holy trinity of the post-Christian secular state at whose altars Liberal Man worships.

But the congregation worshiping these gods is shrinking. And even Europe seems to be rejecting what America has on offer.

In a retreat from diversity, Catalonia just voted to separate from Spain. The Basque and Galician peoples of Spain are following the Catalan secession crisis with great interest. Read the rest of this entry »

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