Monday, January 08, 2007

new year, new beginning, new blog

I'll be starting anew in a different location.

2006 was a real bummer for me in many ways. Out of last year's shit arises a flower that'll bloom as 2007 progresses, and beyond. The new blog should help.

freeman's NO POLITICS

Sunday, August 13, 2006

the folly of bureaucracy, in one quote

“I don’t know. I don’t care. They just asked me to stamp it, so I stamped it.” ~~ some Chinese official guy

Inspired words by a man thoroughly challenged and stimulated by his work. Rather revealing, isn't it?

It doesn't even really matter what the context is, given the fact that so many endeavors burdened by bureacracy wind up being designed, directed, and carried out by people whose knowledge and drive matches the Chinese official who so eloquently sums up the bureaucratic mindset.

For those who wonder, the quote comes from this Intellectual Conservative article questioning the trustworthiness of the USDA organic label. I didn't think I'd ever find a worthwhile article from such a site, let alone one about organic food. It's definitely a worthwhile read, especially if one is increasingly concerned about the food they eat.

Here's the portion of the article related to that quote:
Lavigne also quotes Matsumi Sakuyoshi, a Japanese inspector who has checked Chinese soybean fields for organic certifiers. Sakuyoshi found an empty plastic bag of herbicide. When confronted, a farmworker told her the wind must have blown it from a neighbor’s field.

Sakuyoshi also questioned a certificate that said a piece of land hadn’t been farmed for the previous three years, making it eligible for organic status. Hardly any Chinese farmland is left idle. The official who stamped the certificate told her, “I don’t know. I don’t care. They just asked me to stamp it, so I stamped it.”

The article concerns itself with organic farming in places like China since an increasing number of organic foods sold here in the US with a USDA label come from places like China. If organic consumers are uneasy after reading that excerpt, they may feel downright ill after reading the rest of the article (hint: human waste is involved).

I guess I now have even more reasons to seek out locally grown and produced food as much as possible. Additionally, the collection of fodder for condemning the USDA continues to grow. In fact, stay tuned for more anti-USDA posts (well, at least one) in the coming week. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm about to chow down on some mandu that'll be dipped in organic soy sauce produced here in Michigan by a pioneering organic company that rejects the USDA label (more on that later).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

who needs the usda?

I sure don't. Neither should anyone else.

All of the supposedly beneficial things that the USDA is "supposed" to carry out can be practiced without a government bureaucracy inherently prone to corporate manipulation.

The latest example of the USDA's status as a menace to our health came to my attention thanks to the LRC blog.

First, fromAnthony Gregory's May 2004 article titled "The USDA and Cow Disease Madness":
The USDA is blocking an American slaughterhouse that wishes to voluntarily test its beef for mad cow disease so it can sell meat to Japan.

Creekstone Farms, a slaughterhouse in Kansas, has spent $500,000 to create a mad cow testing facility to comply with Japan’s tougher regulations. Forbidden from testing and shut off from its Japanese market, the company loses $200,000 in sales every day, and it has already been forced to layoff fifty workers.

Unfortunately for the people at Creekstone Farms, the USDA will not permit such testing, because the agency does not consider the testing “scientifically warranted,” and it worries that competing slaughterhouses may appear unsafe by comparison.

Americans who believe that the USDA protects consumers from tainted beef might find themselves scratching their heads. Why would the USDA interfere with a business taking extra precautions to prove the safety of its product to its customers?

Historically, government regulation of beef has often had less to do with common sense or genuine health concerns than with the state-corporate favoritism inherent in a highly regulated economy.

The USDA is continuing such thuggery today, as revealed by this USA Today editorial:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture — invoking an obscure 1913 law intended to thwart con artists from peddling bogus hog cholera serum to pig farmers — is blocking companies from selling the testing kits to Creekstone.

USDA is doing the bidding of large cattle barons afraid that Creekstone's marketing will force them to do the same tests to stay competitive. It's true that the incidence of mad cow disease is quite low. But there's little logic in stopping a company from exceeding regulations to meet the demands of its customers, or protecting its rivals from legitimate competition.

Not only is USDA blocking Creekstone, the department said last month that it's reducing its mad cow testing program by 90%. The industry and its sympathetic regulators seem to believe that the problem isn't mad cow disease. It's tests that find mad cow.

The department tests only 1% of the roughly 100,000 cattle slaughtered daily. The new plan will test only 110 cows a day.

By cutting back on testing, USDA will save about $35 million a year. That's a pittance compared with the devastation the cattle industry could face if just one human case of mad cow disease is linked to domestic beef

So, the USDA is also slashing it's already feeble testing program in addition to serving as hired goons for the big firms. If food safety is to be a serious concern, then realizing that testing and other safeguards will only be administered, or even allowed, by the government to the extent that it doesn't threaten privledged businesses is a necessary step towards ensuring that the right paths are taken to ensure safety. Rest assured that the USDA will always go down the wrong path, while also setting up roadblocks preventing passage through more proper paths.

Food won't be safe until a separation of food and state occurs. Without such a separation, those with the most cash and the most political clout will continue to dominate the food supply, driving recklessly in search of power and profits without concern for safety.

Friday, August 04, 2006

the book virus thingie

I've been tagged by Nick Manley to play along with the latest book virus thingie for bloggers, so here it is.

* One book that changed your life:
Burning All Illusions: A Guide to Personal and Political Freedom by David Edwards. I read this book 7 or 8 years ago when my political mindset basically consisted of a strong civil libertarian streak with severe economic ignorance and apathy. This book changed all that and made me think more and read more about politics, albeit from a more or less statist left standpoint. The book served as my introduction to Noam Chomsky and also touched upon many Buddhist teachings that I was sort of interested in at the time.

Even though I'm now a radical free market advocate, there is much that is worthwhile about the book. I don't remember a whole lot of detail and I can't skim through it again since I don't own a copy, but if you're interested in reading a review of it, here's one from Dave Pollard.

* One book that you have read more than once:
Well, I'm currently reading Wendell Berry's Another Turn of the Crank for the second time.

* One book that you would want on a desert island:
The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It's long, it's fun, it's wild, it's chock full of stuff, and every reading is radically different from the last. Why not?

* One book that made you laugh:
I was going some of my boxed up books and organizing them recently when I saw my copy of Aristophanes's The Clouds. I remember finding the play to be quite funny when I read it back in the day. I also liked the fact that the particular translation that I have contains swear words.

* One book that made you cry:
Hmm... I'm sad to say that I can't think of one right now. I've read plenty of dark and/or sad things, but I don't actually recall shedding any tears while reading anything. I find that to be rather unfortunate.

* One book you wish had been written:
It's hard to think of book that could have or would have been written but weren't for some reason. I guess I'll just go along with the crowd by choosing Samuel Edward Konkin III's "Agorism".

If I can come up with an imaginary book, then how about a decentralist, individualist manifesto linking libertarianism with leftism by Karl Hess? That would have been cool. I've read Community Technology, but that's not really what I have in mind.

* One book you wish never had been written:
While choosing any Ann Coulter book at random is tempting, I think I'll go with Mein Kampf instead. It's close enough to going with Coulter, I suppose.

* One book you are currently reading:
I mentioned the Berry book already. The other book that I've started but not finished yet is Daniel Quinn's The Story of B.

* One book you have been meaning to read:
Butler Shaffer's Calculated Chaos. It's on my shelf and ready to go as soon as I finish one of the two books I'm currently working on. (I don't want to exceed 2 at a time) Also, I'd like to say "shame on me!" for not purchasing a copy of Kevin Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy yet. I've read some of it online, but I want to have an actual printed copy of it as well. Kevin should also recieve some more financial compensation for writing such an important work.

* Now tag 5 people:
Rad Geek (it's a virus, not a meme!)
Larry Gambone
Adem Kupi
Vache Folle
David Reynolds

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I apologize for the continued lack of blogging this summer. The past few weeks have been really trying for myself and my family since my mother passed away. I do guarantee though that I'll be more active here this month than I have for the past 3 months combined.

One cool announcement is that I plan on signing up with a web host sometime this month and will begin to transfer stuff from here to the eventual new blog. I'll also be setting up a separate music-related blog so that anyone either interested in my music posts or uninterested in my more serious posts can frequent that blog instead of this one. Look for that blog to be up and running before I deal with setting up flc 2.0 on the new host.

Stay cool.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

commie pinko wishes for a happy 4th

Who's the commie pinko, you ask? Why, it's me!
Dont'cha know that if you ain't a servile, war-worshipping Republican who knows his place, shuts his face, and salutes his masters while waving the Stars and Stripes, then you're a commie pinko?

Image Hosted by Wally Conger will be displaying his Gadsden flag today. I would do so myself if I had one. There may be others out there who will display the other flag I admire, the one that is all black. I don't have one of those either, but I am wearing a black t-shirt today.

July 4th is supposed to be a day to commemorate the rebellious souls who said NO to tyranny. Today, that spirit only lives on with us "commie pinkos". In true Orwellian fashion, the minds of the majority have been molded to view this day as one to commemorate the masters of war and the masters of other men. In other words, tyranny is now celebrated.

I hope that everyone has a enjoyable day with friends and family. I'll be grilling up some organic burgers and drinking some fine brews - I'm not a party pooper who'll treat this day as one to mourn the loss of liberty or anything, despite my total unwillingness to acknowledge the typical slogans and symbols that typical Americans view with the reverence people must have had for Christian imagery back in the days when the Church was the main institution engaged in indoctrination and terror.

Here's some subversive reading for all those commie pinkos out there who actually admire the Declaration of Independence and know what it's like to be rebellious rather than servile.

From Eugene Plawiuk: A New American Revolution (a great post from last year that's about real revolution, not those damn Chevrolets)
From Kevin Carson: Patriotic Quotes for the Fourth
From Roderick Long: A Thought for the Fourth
From Rad Geek: Independence Day
From Anthony Gregory: Which America Do You Celebrate?

These links aren't specificaly about the Fourth, but are relevant reads nonetheless:

Voltairine de Cleyre: Anarchism and American Traditions
Sheldon Richman: Americans Should Be "Anti-American"
Jeff Vail: Love Your Nation-State

Now go out there and have some good ol' disobedient fun! Anyone have any illegal fireworks?

Friday, June 16, 2006

the libertarian divide over the south central farmers issue

There are many examples out there refuting the silly stereotypes and claims regarding libertarians as being all the same. There are many different types of libertarians in reality, and certain issues bring difference of opinion amongst them to the forefront. The most recent example of this involves the plight of the South Central Farmers out in Los Angeles.

I'm sure that liberals and lefties are assuming that all libertarians are siding with Ralph Horowitz, the man who is claiming ownership of the land and is using the city goons to get rid of those pesky farmers. Indeed, there are some libertarians that I am aware of who are indeed taking this position. Examples of this come from Kirsten at Enjoy Every Sandwich and certain people over at the Mises Institute blog.

An assumption that all libertarians would be siding against the farmers would not be true though. The other side of the debate is being defended by some libertarians. Examples here include blog posts by Rad Geek, David at the view from below, along with Brad Spangler's comments in the Mises discussion linked to above.

I don't have the time to spell out my full opinion on this, but I will say that I personally am siding with the farmers, and not just because I love what they've done with the land over the past 14 years.

Monday, June 12, 2006

update & links

I'm back... sort of. Posting will remain quite scarce for the next couple of months or so. My mother has just returned home from spending the past month in the hospital and is extremely sick and crippled. She requires constant care and attention, and I'm the primary person in charge of that. With that in mind, it's obvious that blogging has become an extremely low priority for me.

There are a few things I'd like to mention here briefly. These things have already been mentioned elsewhere, but I'd like to link to them here anyway.

* freedomSLUT: This great new resource provides liberty oriented social bookmarking - kind of like for libertarians.

* 2 new Myspace groups for radical libertarians: It's nice to see such subversive ideas being promoted over in that popular interweb networking scene. There is the Confederation of Agorist for agorists and Anarcho-Individualists for anarchists of an individualist persuasion.

* Thanks to Roderick Long, Joseph Stromberg's "English Enclosures and Soviet Collectivization: Two Instances of an Anti-Peasant Mode of Development" is now available online at the Molinari Institute site. This is the excellent essay from The Agorist Quarterly that I blogged about back in April. I must also thank Stromberg himself for not only writing the essay but also allowing it to be published online.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

i'll be back in june

Sorry for the absense of new stuff lately and for no explanations until now. Things have been been really hectic and bad lately around here, and I have neither the time nor the interest needed to blog.

I'll resume blogging at some point in early June.

Hope things are better for y'all than they are on this end.

Friday, May 05, 2006

cinco de mayo post

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, mis amigos!

I'll be going out tonight to see my friend Laith perform, and Mexican beer will be my drink of choice.

Cinco de Mayo is, of course, more than just a day to get drunk and celebrate Mexican culture. To learn more about the day's historical significance, check out the Cinco de Mayo Wikipedia entry.

On a more serious note, David Reynolds has taken the time to write a Cinco de Mayo post about the current struggle in Mexico between farmers and the government. The following excerpt explains the the plight that these farmers face:
The flower farmers are supported by members of a group known as Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (People’s Front in Defense of the Land or FPDT). The FPDT opposes the government confiscation of communal lands known as ejidos that have provided farms and residential space to the ejidatarios for decades. The ejidos were eliminated by the Mexican government when it signed the NAFTA agreement.

As a result, the Mexican government routinely gives land to transnational corporations to build factories, retail stores, and the like. (It has been rumored the marketplace area where the FPDT-supported flower farmers tried to set up their stalls is slated to become a Wal-Mart.) The indigenous ejidatarios are often forced off the land where they have lived their entire lives, and their livelihoods are destroyed. Their choices are usually either becoming wage slaves for the transnational corporations or seeking lives elsewhere, including sneaking across the border into the United States to seek work.

A violent standoff between the farmers and local, state, and federal authorities began on Wednesday, with the predictable result of police initiating violence and taking control of the town.

The people who live and work on the land are the rightful owners of it, not the government. The government has no right to claim the land as their own and then hand it over to transnational corporations, continuing the accumulation of wealth by force that should be condemned by all friends of liberty.

online pamphlets from the labadie collection

One of the greatest resources for radical literature found anywhere is the Labadie Collection, a special collections library that is part of the University of Michigan library system. There is a project in the works there to digitize all of their anarchist pamphlets and make them available online. Some of them are already available - click here to take a look.

As mentioned on their webpage, the collection of pamphlets currently online represents a very small part of their entire collection. Most seem to be about non-market forms of anarchism, although there should be something of interest for all anarchists. What is unfortunate is that some of the pamphlets can only be viewed by authorized viewers, such as Frank Chodorov's "The Myth of the Post Office."

Here are links to some of the pamphlets that I plan on reading within the next few days:

Stephen Pearl Andrew's "The Labor Dollar"
Henry Bool's "Liberty Without Invasion, Means and End of Progress"
Hubert Bourgin's "Proudhon"
Randolph Bourne's "The State"
Henry Appleton's "What Is Freedom and When Am I Free?"

(a tip o' the blog hat to Mark Dilley)

*UPDATE: It turns out that I won't be reading the Bourgin pamphlet. It's en français. Darn.

Monday, May 01, 2006

may day post

Image Hosted by Today is May 1st, otherwise known as May Day, a day of international labor solidarity. Contrary to the efforts of some to paint the day as a "commie holiday" in support of the USSR and other "communist" countries, the real roots of the holiday predate the horrors of 20th century statist collectivism.

The following links provide some interesting historical commentary on the roots of May Day. While Kevin Carson focuses on the American origin of the modern May Day movement and the role of individualist anarchists in the labor movement of that time, Eugene Plawiuk goes back even further to reveal the day's Pagan origins.

Kevin Carson's " May Day Thoughts: Individualist Anarchism and the Labor Movement"
Eugene Plawiuk's "The Origins and Traditions of May Day"

Friday, April 21, 2006

the sweet signs of spring: flowers & pucks

The sweet smell of spring is in the air. Temperatures here in southeast Michigan have been in the 60s and 70s with a brief trip into the 80s during the past couple of weeks. Yellow beauties such as dandelions, daffodils, and forsythias are blooming all around. I'm especially glad to see the dandelions since I plan on making some dandelion wine for the first time this year.

Another good thing about spring, one that was absent last year: the NHL playoffs. As far as professional sports are concerned, hockey is all I really care about anymore, and the best time of year for hockey is now through mid-June.

The best of the west and the beasts of the east better look out - the Detroit Red Wings are primed to fly through the playoffs, dropping slimy octopi on unsuspecting foes, on route to winning another Stanley Cup!

Game 1 is tonight @ 7 PM vs. the Edmonton Oilers.
Image Hosted by

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

stromberg on land theft

As I mentioned in a previous post, I plan on blogging about a few of the things I've read from my recent KoPubCo order. I'm currently reading the one and only issue of The Agorist Quarterly, and the essay from Joseph Stromberg has captured my interest. Titled "English Enclosures and Soviet Collectivization: Two Instances of an Anti-Peasant Mode of Development", this Stromberg essay compares those two instances of land theft and comes to a conclusion that certainly wouldn't be welcomed by those committed to one or another variation of corporatism.

Stromberg's analysis complements the analysis of people like Kevin Carson and Karl Marx by coming to the conclusion that the English enclosures were a result of political coercion benefitting a privledged minority. This essay also provides the additional service of comparing the English enclosures to not only the Soviet collectivization of land, but also to the Latin American latifundismo, or feudal land monopolies that still exist to this day. All of these coercive actions had adverse effects on the peasantries of each respective country.

I'd like to provide a few excerpts of the essay in order to give y'all a taste of Stromberg's analysis and provide further online content dealing with the issue of land theft. Rather than start with the primary two examples, I'll start off with the portion of the essay providing an interlude between the two primary examples of land theft. Upon giving a brief synopsis of the elitist politcal structure that maintains the unjust and exploitative Latin American system, Stromberg had this to say about the problems associated with the system:
According to Ernst Feder, the concentration of good land in the hands of a very small minority creates gross inefficiency, waste, mismanagement, and low productivity on Latin America's latifundia. '[F]orcefully shut off from the market mechanism,' the peasants respond by displaying self-hatred and unambitious behavior which is then taken to prove their inherent stupidity. Built in disincentives dicourage the peasants, who gain nothing from harder work. Far from reflecting economies of scale arrived at in free markets, the politically based latifundia are so over-expanded that often as much as one third of the work force is required to boss the other demoralized two thirds. Hence, the great estates resemble nothing so much as islands of socialist 'calculational chaos' unable to operate at optimum economic rationality. In contrast, Feder argues that poor people are actually capable of great economic rationality and capital accumulation. To the extent that a small sector of family farms exists in Latin America, it is here that one finds land-intensive and productive farming as opposed to the better capitalized estate sector. Given the economic irrationalities of the quasifeudal sector and the destitution of peasants who could be productive, Feder supports land reform both on the grounds of simple justice and economic progress. Like Feder, the sociologist Stanislav Andreski takes a critical view of the chief structural realities of Latin American society. He believes that most of the problems in those countries stem from a inherited pattern of political parasitism. Interestingly, Andreski derives his conception of parasitism from the Traite de Legislation (1826), the major work of the neglected French sociologist Charles Comte, whose importance as a classical liberal theorist is only now coming to be appreciated. Parasitism, by severing work from reward, is a necessarily strong barrier to social progress.

Stromberg later states that:
Although conditions vary from country to country, high tariffs, state loans, the licensing-and-bribery syndrome, government contracts, and even tax-farming (in Peru) contribute to the popular view that all governments are 'merely bands of thieves.' In Mexico, where state intervention is most extensive, pay-offs are naturally highest.
If there is one good thing that has come out of all this, it is the growing view amongst the people living down there that all governments are "merely bands of thieves". Indeed, the primary difference between governments and mafias is that the latter doesn't resort to flag-waving and the abduction of children for the purpose of molding their minds into a form that believes in the legitimacy and neccessity of said mafia while dutifully bowing down to authority. There are very few differences beyond that.

Stromberg's treatment of the English enclosures involves the same type of stuff that I had been reading from elsewhere, followed by this conclusion:
Given the role of political power in the process of enclosure, it does not seem unfair to view enclosure as collectivization of agriculture for the benefit of a narrow class. Whether or not it was the only way to increase agricultural efficiency or whether it did increase it to the degree often supposed are probably open questions. Folke Dovring writes that the enclosures 'depended primarily on the de facto power of the landlord class.' This naturally raises the question of whether or not England did not - at least in the agrarian sphere - follow a path closer to the 'Prussian road' to capitalism than is usually believed.
Indeed, market forces had nothing to do with the primitive accumulation of land and wealth that is often defended by so-called market proponents. Then again, many of these people are only being consistent in the defense of a few "exceptional individuals" and their institutions rather than liberty itself, let alone the workers who so badly need liberty as opposed to the various brands of collectivism that serve to keep them down. If that means a defense of massive land theft, so be it.

Moving on to the example of Soviet collectivization, Stromberg begins by explaining the situation prior to Stalin's takeover of the Communist Party, including a description of the "left" and "right" positions within the Party. Neither Trotsky nor Bukharin (who favored a more free market direction for the economy) gained power however, and here's Stromberg's explanation of what did happen:
Unfortunately for both sides, Stalin gradually eased himself into control of the Party and state and purged them all. Once firmly in control, he adopted most of the Left's economic program, sending cadres of armed Party members into the countryside to divide the peasants and push them into collective farms as called for by ideology and interest. With all kinds of violence and dislocation necessary, the prosperous peasants, the kulaks, were eliminated as a class, many of them physically. With their much-feared leaders eliminated by the Stalinst Terror, the peasants had little choice but to acquiesce in this bureaucratic enclosure movement. Only after Stalin's death could any debate on the direction of Soviet economic policy, however mild, reemerge. The Soviet state itself had become the new landlord. It seems clear enough that the "right" program was viable. Certainly, it did not entail the level of violence, death, and economic destruction required to carry through the Trotsky-Stalin model. But just as in the case of the English enclosures, political power decided the event, not necessarily in the interests of the peasants - short or long run. Perhaps the two cases, though they differ considerably, will shed light on some persistent fallacies concerning peasants, agriculture and development (it might be too much to ask for justice, too).

Stromberg concludes the essay by lamenting the role of these two examples and their proponents in the promotion of large-scale agriculture and the inaccurate dismissal of the small-scale alternative. He also ponders the conceivability of alternative routes being taken in both England and Russia, concluding that the routes that were chosen did not have to be chosen. However, the political class cares not for justice or free markets, which is why corporatists and their "left" counterparts chose to collectivize, centralize, and rely on their fellow "exceptional individuals" to run things, all other considerations dismissed.

One of the interesting things about this comparison is that it adds to the criticism of corporate state capitalism promoted by left-libertarians that likens nominally private institutions to the bureaucratic collectivism of "communist" states. Of course, if we consider the leftist equation of the Soviet Union with state capitalism, we're left with viewing the ideological rift of the Cold War as being between two varying and competing versions of state capitalism - one that was entirely collectivist and one that was (and still is) pseudo-individualist in nature. Libertarian communists rightfully reject the former system while free market libertarians reject (or at least should reject) the latter.

There is much that I have left out, so consider visiting KoPubCo and purchasing a copy of The Agorist Quarterly before it sells out.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

obedience & authority

James Leroy Wilson recently wrote a column about the famous experiment carried out by psychologist Stanley Milgram back in the early '60s. He provides a good description of Milgram's work and also makes the important point that Milgram's findings are just as important now than ever. James also encourages people to teach children about disobedience and rebelling against authority, which is good advice to heed if liberty is something one values. Being an obedient little worker isn't wise when the job orders being dictated from above involve things like theft, torture, enslavement, or murder.

Aside from bringing attention to James's column and the experiment itself, I'd also like to inform y'all that a documentary about the experiment is now available for download via bit torrent. Click here to get the torrent.

micro$oft: how would you like to be raped today?

The following report is from February 17th, although this is my first encounter with such news. Micro$oft, always looking for ways to screw over both competitors and consumers, has come up with a new idea to screw over the latter group: training police to decrypt the upcoming Vista software. From this article:
Microsoft may begin training the police in ways to break the encryption built into its forthcoming Vista operating system.

The news was revealed in a parliamentary committee session in which Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University warned MPs that if such a move was being considered then the police should start learning sooner rather than later.

The need to decrypt hard drives was a prominent reason given for extending the length of time that the police could hold terrorism suspects.

"It is our goal to give PC users the control and confidence they need so they can continue to get the most out of their PCs," said a Microsoft spokeswoman.

"At the same time, we are working with law enforcement to help them understand its security features and will continue to partner with governments, law enforcement and industry to help make the internet a safer place to learn and communicate."

I decided long ago that I'd never switch to Vista once it is released. This news will likely be the nail in the coffin to many others who may have been wary about Vista. Anyone who cares about liberty and privacy should consider M$ to be a serious threat. Anyone who is troubled by state/corporate collusion should place M$ near or at the top of their shit list.

While some may just stick with an older M$ OS, others will either choose or stick with the Mac route or switch over to a Linux distro. I recently recieved some install discs for Ubuntu Linux, free of charge. I'll be installing it on an external hard drive once it's formatted and begin to get a feel for the distro. If I like it, I'll eventually do a full transition. Sooner or later, I'll be using Ubuntu or some other Linux distro full time, dumping M$ into the recycle bin of history.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

reisman revealed

There are plenty of wonderful thinkers affiliated with the Ludwig Von Mises Institute. However, there have been occasions where I have read things from there that disappointed me, or worse. More often than not, those bad apples from an otherwise healthy tree were written by the same person - George Reisman.

The one disappointment to go alongside the great news of the mutualist symposium issue of the Journal of Libertarian Studies was finding out that Reisman had written one of the critiques of Kevin Carson's mutualist ideas. I thought that his essay would represent the token example of "vulgar libertarianism", the plague within the libertarian movement that serves to exacerbate the false notions of libertarianism held by various non-libertarians.

His essay is indeed pretty bad. With people like Reisman identifying themselves with free enterprise and libertarianism, it's no wonder that many leftists view libertarians as being fascists in disguise. To read Kevin's thorough rebuttal, click here. (pdf file)

As thorough and satisfying as Kevin's own rebuttal is, I found a much much smaller one tonight that reveals a rather unlibertarian side to Reisman. Adam B. Ricketson left the following comment behind in response to Sheldon Richman's post titled "Capitalism versus Capitalism:
I read George Reisman's essay in Journal of Libertarian Studies and was surprized and kinda disgusted by his (Randist) definition of "individualism"

He writes:
"Here Carson, the “individualist” anarchist shows himself to be
quite the collectivist, attributing to the average person qualities of
independent thought and judgment that are found only in exceptional

I side with Carson's definition of individualism, and can only see Reisman's view as socialism or collectivism. Individualism means that, as a rule, each individual is capable of directing his own life. If most individuals are incapable of directing their own lives and must be subsumed into an unthinking mass (for their own good), then we have collectivism...whether it is run by a benevolent dictatorship of market selected (meaning "self-selected") "meritocrats" or by an elected aristocracy.

Yep, I cringed when I read that remark by Reisman. All those leftists who view libertarians as corporate apologists who wish to have tyrannical megacorp executives rule the world actually have a point, at least if and when they're referring to people such as Reisman. In Reisman's world, we're only a tiny hop, skip, and jump away from "free market" paradise, complete with Wal-Mart type enterprises in charge of every human endeavor, and including bureaucratic managerialism and top-down orders from those "exceptional individuals" who know how to be responsible and successful, unlike all the common peons who must be disciplined by the iron, invisible hand of the "free market". In other words, it seems as if many aspects of statism are just fine in Reisman's mind, as long as they're "privatized" and run only by wealthy businessmen who actually have the ability to engage in independent thought and judgment.

Adam is correct - Reisman does indeed appear to be a collectivist. How can one so consistently defend an institution (the modern corporation) that is so thoroughly hostile to individualism and not be collectivist? I'm reminded of the following portion of the classic 1976 Karl Hess Plowboy interview that elaborates a bit on all this:
PLOWBOY: Is there any similarity between this pressure being exerted by America's big businesses and, say, the collectivism of Soviet Russia?

HESS: Certainly. They're much the same. In the Soviet Union, the economy is developed under the ownership of a bureaucracy which shot its way to power, while in the United States exactly the same pattern exists except that our collectivists just buy their way to power. In either instance, the final result is the same: You owe your loyalty to the collective unit the corporation or the state, as the case may be. You're subordinated to its plans and processes.

There's no essential difference in the kind of world that either the large corporations of the U.S. or the collectives of the U.S.S.R. would impose on us. Back in the thirties, in fact, Jim Burnham wrote a book, The Managerial Revolution, in which he said that a DuPont bureaucrat could join a planning commission in the Soviet Union and never even know he'd changed jobs!

By the way, I recommend checking out that Sheldon Richman post I linked to above. He does a nice job of critiquing Walter Block's attempt at smearing Kevin Carson. He also plans on writing a similar post about the Reisman essay in the near future.