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Warre and peace: of gifts, government and men with guns

Warre and peace: of gifts, government and men with guns

This is the last in a somewhat interrupted series of posts about property rights in small farm futures and small farm pasts, which started here, looked at the idea of work and self-ownership here, considered private property here and common property here. The missing piece in terms of standard definitions of property ownership is public or state ownership.

So here I’m going to address public ownership to complete this part of the blog cycle. But I’m not going to say much about the forms of state ownership emanating from national, federal or local government familiar from everyday modern politics. For one thing, the issues involved in those have been endlessly rehashed in standard political positions concerning the pros and cons of (big) government, and I have little to add to all that. More importantly, I don’t think this modern politics is going to survive in anything much like its familiar present forms as the various challenges of our present and future world begin to bite.

That prompts questions about what state power and public ownership might look like in the future viewed from the centres out – from London or Washington DC, New York or New Delhi, Beijing, Mumbai, Edinburgh, Juba, Dublin, Belfast, Brussels, Los Angeles, Sacramento and so on. But it also prompts questions about what political power and public ownership might look like in the more rural peripheries of these power centres.

My view, which could of course turn out to be wrong, is that the de facto power of the centres to organize life in these peripheries will wane, that more people will be living in many of these peripheries than they presently do, and that it’s in these peripheries that the most important and interesting political and economic innovations of the world to come will occur…

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Ending Fiat Money Won’t Destroy the State

Ending Fiat Money Won’t Destroy the State

euros

A certain meme has become popular among advocates of both gold and cryptocurrencies. This is the “Fix the money, fix the world” meme. This slogan is based on the idea that by switching to some commodity money—be it crypto or metal—and abandoning fiat currency, the world will improve greatly.

Taken in its moderate form, of course, this slogan is indisputably correct. State-controlled money is immoral, dangerous, and impoverishing. It paves the way for government theft of private wealth through the inflation tax, and thus allows the state to do more of what it does best: wage wars, kill, imprison, steal, and enrich the friends of the regime at the expense of everyone else. Privatizing the monetary system and imposing a “separation of money and state” would help limit these activities.

But it’s also important to not overstate the benefits of taking money out of the hands of the state. The temptation to push the “fix the world” idea to utopian levels is often seen among cryptocurrency maximalists, and among some gold promoters as well.

For example, at least one bitcoin enthusiast thinks bitcoin will bring “the end of the nation states.” And in one particularly over-the-top paragraph from another bitcoin promoter, we’re told that cryptocurrency will essentially cure every ill from poverty to corruption to environmental destruction.

The idea that changing to different money will somehow end theft, poverty, or even war is the sort of messianic thinking that would have given old-school Marxists a run for their money.

Yes, we can all agree that if we “improve the money” we also “improve the world.” But removing the state’s money monopoly won’t make states fold up their tents and slink away in the night. (And, needless to say, simply changing the money won’t make bad food or poverty disappear either.)

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“Programmable Digital Currency”: The next stage of the new normal?The war on cash’s endgame is here: money replaced by vouchers subject to complete state control.

“Programmable Digital Currency”: The next stage of the new normal?The war on cash’s endgame is here: money replaced by vouchers subject to complete state control.

Building on the bitcoin model, central banks are planning to produce their own “digital currencies”. Removing any and all remaining privacy, granting total control over every transaction, even limiting what ordinary people are allowed to spend their money on.

From the moment bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies first emerged, sold as an independent and alternative medium of exchange outside the financial status quo, it was only a matter of time before the new alternative would be absorbed, modified and redeployed in service of the state.

Enter “Central Bank Digital Currencies”: the mainstream answer to bitcoin.

For those who have never heard of them, “Central Bank Digital Currencies” (CBDCs) are exactly what they sound like, digitized versions of the pound/dollar/euro etc. issued by central banks.

Like bitcoin (and other crypto), the CBDC would be entirely digital, thus furthering the ongoing war on cash. However, unlike crypto, it would not have any encryption preserving anonymity. In fact, it would be totally the reverse, potentially ending the very idea of financial privacy.

Now, you may not have heard much about the CBDC plans, lost as they are in the tangle of the ongoing “pandemic”, but the campaign is there, chugging along on the back pages for months now. There are stories about it from both Reuters and the Financial Times just today. It’s a long, slow con, but a con nonetheless.

The countries where the idea progressed the furthest are China and the UK. The Chinese Digital Yuan has been in development since 2014, and is subject to ongoing and widespread testing. The UK is nowhere near that stage yet, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak is keenly pushing forward a digital pound that the press are calling “Britcoin”.

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“The Enemies of the State”: The New York Times and The Fluidity of Advocacy Journalism

“The Enemies of the State”: The New York Times and The Fluidity of Advocacy Journalism

We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. The New York Times has been at the forefront of this shift away from traditional reporting but has increasingly found that the fluidity of advocacy journalism leaves it without any clear framework or standards. Consider the latest scandal at the Times. Justice Department reporter and MSNBC contributor Katie Benner went on a rave about Republicans and called Trump supporters “enemies of the state.” She also made a not-so-veiled call for readers to vote against them. The Times has been in total radio silence over what, just a few years ago, would have been viewed as an outrageous violation of journalistic standards. Yet, just recently, it fired another reporter for a comparatively mild tweet supporting Biden. Professional ethics, it seems, has become entirely impressionistic in the age of advocacy journalism.

Notably, many of us denounced Donald Trump for calling the New York Times and other media outlets the “enemy of the people.”  The media was aghast and the Times publicly condemned such rhetoric as “inflammatory.” Now, however, journalists like Benner are engaging in the same inflammatory rhetoric and the Times is conspicuously silent.

We have have been discussing how writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation…

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How the State Spreads Mass Hysteria

How the State Spreads Mass Hysteria

hysteria

The history of mass hysteria, or mass sociogenic illness is fascinating. Cases of mass hysteria have been documented since the Middle Ages. Let me just mention a few of the more recent cases.

When a radio play by Orson Welles, War of the Worlds, was broadcasted in 1938 shortly after the suspension of the Munich agreement, the play allegedly caused panic among listeners, who thought that they were under attack by Martians.

Another intriguing case is an episode of a Portuguese TV show called Strawberries with Sugar. In the episode, the characters were infected by a life-threatening virus. After the show, more than three hundred students reported similar symptoms as the ones experienced by the TV show characters such as rashes and difficulty breathing. Some schools even closed. The Portuguese National Institute for Medical Emergency concluded that the virus did not exist in reality and that the symptoms were caused by mass hysteria.Similarly, on Emirates flight 203 in September 2018, dozens of passengers started to believe they were sick after observing other passengers with flu-like symptoms. As a consequence of the panic, the whole flight was quarantined. In the end only a few passengers had a common cold or the seasonal flu.

It is well known that there exist nocebo effects, which are the opposite of placebo effects. Due the placebo effect, a person recovers from an illness because she expects to do so. When we suffer a nocebo effect, on the other hand, we get ill just because we expect to become ill.1 In a self-fulfilling prophecy, the expectation can cause the symptoms. Anxiety and fear exacerbate this process.2

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Cover-19 and the Death of Market Fundamentalism

COVID-19 AND THE DEATH OF MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM

On top of the countless human tragedies, there will be many long-lasting social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps none will be more profound though, than the death of free market fundamentalism and the return of the State.

Why now? After all, there have long been moral, social and environmental risks posed by an unfettered market. Risks that present a strong case for action by the State – with inequality and climate change being the two most glaring examples. It didn’t help.

This is different. COVID-19 presents a blindingly powerful economic case for change. It shows that an ideological, quasi-religious approach to regulating markets, sometimes called neo-liberalism and, until the virus, the dominant political approach in the west, is fatally flawed. It creates a weak and unstable economy, which magnifies risks and is unable to manage shocks1. It threatens itself.

Of course, a pandemic would always have had a very large and disruptive economic impact. However, we can already see that those countries with a coherent, competent, respected and well-resourced State – everything market fundamentalists have sought to undermine – are likely to have both lower economic and human cost.

Thus, market fundamentalism is no longer even in the interests of the corporate sector or the financial elites. It creates unmanageable economic risks and ultimately poses an existential risk to capitalism, as argued by Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz2. Therefore, any corporate or finance leader who continues their knee jerk support for actions to ‘free up markets, ‘reduce taxes’, to ‘get government out of the way’, will now know the consequences.

This is not about being for or against ‘the market’ or the ‘corporate sector’. It is not about ‘curbing corporate power’ or developing ‘an alternative economic system’. Capitalism, correctly defined and well managed, can be a powerful and effective component of an intelligently designed, democratic and fair society.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Doug Casey on the Destruction of the Dollar

Doug Casey on the Destruction of the Dollar

Dollar

“Inflation” occurs when the creation of currency outruns the creation of real wealth it can bid for… It isn’t caused by price increases; rather, it causes price increases.

Inflation is not caused by the butcher, the baker, or the auto maker, although they usually get blamed. On the contrary, by producing real wealth, they fight the effects of inflation. Inflation is the work of government alone, since government alone controls the creation of currency.

In a true free-market society, the only way a person or organization can legitimately obtain wealth is through production. “Making money” is no different from “creating wealth,” and money is nothing but a certificate of production. In our world, however, the government can create currency at trivial cost, and spend it at full value in the marketplace. If taxation is the expropriation of wealth by force, then inflation is its expropriation by fraud.

To inflate, a government needs complete control of a country’s legal money. This has the widest possible implications, since money is much more than just a medium of exchange. Money is the means by which all other material goods are valued. It represents, in an objective way, the hours of one’s life spent in acquiring it. And if enough money allows one to live life as one wishes, it represents freedom as well. It represents all the good things one hopes to have, do, and provide for others. Money is life concentrated.

As the state becomes more powerful and is expected to provide more resources to selected groups, its demand for funds escalates. Government naturally prefers to avoid imposing more taxes as people become less able (or willing) to pay them. It runs greater budget deficits, choosing to borrow what it needs. As the market becomes less able (or willing) to lend it money, it turns to inflation, selling ever greater amounts of its debt to its central bank, which pays for the debt by printing more money.

Doug Casey on Why the State Is a “Parasite on Society”

Doug Casey on Why the State Is a “Parasite on Society”


Allow me to say a few things that some of you may find shocking, offensive, or even incomprehensible. On the other hand, I suspect many or most of you may agree – but either haven’t crystallized your thoughts, or are hesitant to express them. I wonder if it will be safe to say them in another five years…

You’re likely aware that I’m a libertarian. But I’m actually more than a libertarian, I’m an anarcho-capitalist. In other words, I actually don’t believe in the right of the State to exist. Why not? The State isn’t a magical entity; it’s a parasite on society. Anything useful the State does could be, and would be, provided by entrepreneurs seeking a profit. And would be better and cheaper by virtue of that.

More important, the State represents institutionalized coercion. It has a monopoly of force, and that’s always extremely dangerous. As Mao Tse-tung, lately one of the world’s leading experts on government, said: “The power of the State comes out of a barrel of a gun.” The State is not your friend.

There are two possible ways for people to relate to each other: either voluntarily or coercively. The State is pure institutionalized coercion. As such, it’s not just unnecessary, but antithetical, to a civilized society. And that’s increasingly true as technology advances. It was never moral, but at least it was possible in oxcart days for bureaucrats to order things around. Today the idea is ridiculous.

The State is a dead hand that imposes itself on society, mainly benefitting those who control it, and their cronies. It shouldn’t be reformed; it should be abolished. That belief makes me, of course, an anarchist.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Pivot Point

The Pivot Point 


The massive economic shock following the banking collapse of 2007–8 is the direct cause of the crisis of confidence which is affecting almost all the institutions of western representative democracy. The banking collapse was not a natural event, like a tsunami. It was a direct result of man-made systems and artifices which permitted wealth to be generated and hoarded primarily through multiple financial transactions rather than by the actual production and sale of concrete goods, and which then disproportionately funnelled wealth to those engaged in the mechanics of the transactions.

It was a rotten system, bound to collapse. But unfortunately, it was a system in which the political elite were so financially bound that the consequences of collapse threatened their place in the social order. So collapse was prevented, by the use of the systems of government to effect the largest ever single event transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the course of human history. Politicians bailed out the bankers by using the bankers’ own systems, and even permitted the bankers to charge the public for administering their own bailout, and charge massive interest on the money they were giving to themselves. This method meant that the ordinary people did not immediately feel all the pain, but they certainly felt it over the following decade of austerity as the massive burden of public debt that had been loaded on the populace and simply handed to the bankers, crippled the public finances.

The mechanisms of state and corporate propaganda kicked in to ensure that the ordinary people were told that rather than having been robbed, they had been saved. In the ensuing decade the wealth disparity between rich and poor has ever widened, to the extent that this week the BBC announced the UK now has 151 billionaires, in a land where working people resort to foodbanks and millions of children are growing up in poverty.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This is Water

This is Water


There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”David Foster Wallace (2005)

It’s the perfect description of a Zeitgeist … the water in which we swim.

We can’t see it. We can’t hear it. We can kinda sorta feel it, if we focus really hard, but only kinda sorta. All the same, because it’s part of a social system and not a physical system, WE create it. Not in a conscious fashion. We can’t set out to create a Zeitgeist. 

But we can be nudged.

It’s like a stadium crowd holding up cards for the TV audience. They can’t see the picture they’re making … they have no idea what it looks like or what their role in its making might be. But they’re told/asked to do it. So they do.

THIS is a Zeitgeist.

What’s the matter, Ben? You got a problem holding this card up over your head? It’s for the troops. You support the troops, don’t you? Don’t you? 

Yes, I support the troops. And yes, I have a problem with this.

Why? Because I don’t trust the State and the Oligarchy to use the common knowledge of “support for the troops” – the crowd watching the crowd express a public act of allegiance to the military, so that everyone knows that everyone knows that yes, it is right and proper to support the troops – for the right reasons.

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Name the State

Name the State

The number one problem of all public debate about politics and economics is the failure to name the state. If this would change, so would public opinion. 

There is no shortage of examples. People talk about health care for all, solving climate change, providing security in old age, universal educational access, boosting wages, ending discrimination, and you can add to the list without end. 

That’s one side. 

The other speaks of national identity, protecting jobs, making us more moral, forming cultural cohesion, providing security against the foreign enemy, and so on. 

Obfuscation

All of this, no matter how fancy the language, is obfuscation. What all of this really means is: put the state in charge. What’s strange is the unwillingness to say it outright. This is for a reason. The plans the politicians have for our lives would come across as far less compelling if they admitted the following brutal truth. 

There really are only two ways to allocate goods and services in society: the markets (which rely on individual choice) and the state (which runs on compulsion). No one has ever found a third way. You can mix the two — some markets and some state-run operations — but there always is and always will be a toggling between the two. If you replace markets, the result will be more force via the state, which means bureaucratic administration and rule by force. If you reduce the role of the state, you rely more on markets. This is the logic of political choice, and there is no escaping it. 

Diversity in Markets 

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Government to Facebook Pipeline Reveals a Corrupt Mix of Social Media and the State

Government to Facebook Pipeline Reveals a Corrupt Mix of Social Media and the State

The next time someone tells you that “Facebook is a private company” ask them if they know about the dozens of government employees who fill its ranks.

As the Free Thought Project has previously reported, the phrase “Facebook is a private company” is not accurate as they have formed a partnership with an insidious neoconservative “think tank” known as the Atlantic Council which is directly funded and made up of groups tied to the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex, and even government itself. The Atlantic Council dictates to Facebook who is allowed on the platform and who is purged.

Because the Atlantic Council is funded in part by the United States government—and they are making decisions for Facebook—this negates the claim that the company is private.

Since our six million followers and years of hard work were wiped off the platform during the October purge, TFTP has consistently reported on the Atlantic Council and their ties to the social media giant. This week, however, we’ve discovered something just as ominous—the government to Facebook pipeline and revolving door.

It is a telltale sign of a corrupt industry or company when they create a revolving door between themselves and the state. Just like Monsanto has former employees on the Supreme Court and Pharmaceutical industry insiders move back and fourth from the FDA to their companies, we found that Facebook is doing the same thing.

Below are just a few of corrupt connections we’ve discovered while digging through the list of current and former employees within Facebook.

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How Social Media Is Becoming an Arm of the State

How Social Media Is Becoming an Arm of the State

fb2.PNG

Say the wrong things and you might get kicked off of your favorite social media platform.

Tech titans Apple, Facebook, and YouTube have wiped out talk-show host Alex Jones’s social media presence on the Internet. But the social media crusades weren’t over.

Facebook recently took down popular pages like Liberty Memes and hundreds of other prominent libertarian-leaning pages . In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, social media network Gab was on the receiving end of suspensions from payment processors like PayPal and Stripe and cloud hosting company Joyent. Although these companies did not provide clear explanations for their dissociation with Gab, the media had a field day when they learned that the synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers, had an account with the social media network.

Should libertarians fear social media de-platforming? Or is this a case of private actors exercising their legitimate property rights by excluding those they wish to no longer do business with?

The Blurring Lines of the Public & Private Sector

Since the question of de-platforming has popped up, some conservatives have proposed state-based solutionsto solve this problem. In a role reversal, conservative commentator Ann Coulter suggested that the government pass anti-discrimination laws to prevent social media platforms from de-platforming conservatives. Ideological consistency is a lot to ask for from seasoned veterans of Conservative Inc these days.

Nevertheless, Coulter expanded on why the 1st Amendment protections must be extended to social media:

We need to apply the First Amendment to social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google, because it is a public square, and there is precedent for that and it’s gotta be done, because this is really terrifying, and talk about chilling speech when they’re just throwing people off right and left.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Social Media Is Becoming an Arm of the State

How Social Media Is Becoming an Arm of the State

Say the wrong things and you might get kicked off of your favorite social media platform.

Tech titans Apple, Facebook, and YouTube have wiped out talk-show host Alex Jones’s social media presence on the Internet. But the social media crusades weren’t over.

Facebook recently took down popular pages like Liberty Memes and hundreds of other prominent libertarian-leaning pages. In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, social media network Gab was on the receiving end of suspensions from payment processors like PayPal and Stripe and cloud hosting company Joyent. Although these companies did not provide clear explanations for their dissociation with Gab, the media had a field day when they learned that the synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers, had an account with the social media network.

Should libertarians fear social media de-platforming? Or is this a case of private actors exercising their legitimate property rights by excluding those they wish to no longer do business with?

The Blurring Lines of the Public & Private Sector

Since the question of de-platforming has popped up, some conservatives have proposed state-based solutions to solve this problem. In a role reversal, conservative commentator Ann Coulter suggested that the government pass anti-discrimination laws to prevent social media platforms from de-platforming conservatives. Ideological consistency is a lot to ask for from seasoned veterans of Conservative Inc these days.

Nevertheless, Coulter expanded on why the 1st Amendment protections must be extended to social media:

We need to apply the First Amendment to social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google, because it is a public square, and there is precedent for that and it’s gotta be done, because this is really terrifying, and talk about chilling speech when they’re just throwing people off right and left.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The State weaponizes education to create ignorance

The State weaponizes education to create ignorance

Independent Education: the crisis and the crossroad

A hundred fifty years ago, at least some Americans recognized that all serious discourse depended on the use of the faculty called Reason.

Formal debate, science, and law all flowed from that source.

A common bond existed in some schools of the day. The student was expected to learn how Reason operates, and for that he was taught the only subject which could lay out, as on a long table, the visible principles: Logic.

This was accepted.

But now, this bond is gone.

The independence engendered by the disciplined study of logic is no longer a desired quality in students.

The classroom, at best, has taken on the appearance of a fact-memorization factory; and we should express grave doubts about the relevance and truth of many of those facts.

A society filled with people who float in the drift of non-logic is a society that declines.

Ideologies that deny individual freedom and independence are welcomed with open arms.

When education becomes so degraded that young students are no longer taught to reason clearly, private citizens have the obligation rebuild that system so the great contribution to Western civilization—logic—is reinstated in its rightful place.

Logic, the key by which true political discourse, science, and law were, in fact, originally developed, must be unearthed.

Logic and reasoning, the capacity to think, the ability to analyze ideas—an ability which has been forgotten, which has been a surpassing virtue in every free civilization—must be restored.

Once a vital thing has been misplaced, buried, and covered over by mindless substitutions, people cannot immediately recognize the original thing has any importance, meaning, or existence.

To declare its importance makes no sense to “the crowd.” They look bewildered and shake their heads. They search their memories and find nothing.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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