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.
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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.

Friday, April 14, 2006

scumbags: john mccain & the usda

Time for another post acknowledging various scumbags within our midst. Like last time, an individual and a gang of thuggish individuals comprise the examples of scumbaggery for this installment.

*White Amerikan Thief & Scumbag: John McCain
The USSA government has engaged in various forms of violent oppression against Native Americans (or American Indians, or whatever one wishes to call them) over the past 200+ years. Upon reading a standard issue government history text, one gets the idea that such things are essentially a thing of the past. Such an idea needs to be tossed aside in favor of the truth, with scumbag John McCain attempting to continue the long tradtion of stealing and general bullying of Native Americans.

This Hammer of Truth post by Stuart Richards reveals McCain's plan. Richards provides the following quote from this link:
Navajo and Hopi families residing on Big Mountain and the surrounding area of the Black Mesa in northern Arizona may be forced to relocate as a new senate bill, S1003 “The Navajo Hopi Land Settlement Act Amendments of 2005,” goes before Congress. If passed, the bill will permanently displace the Navajo and Hopi, and, according to a press release by the Black Mesa Indigenous Support organization, “relieve the federal government of any further responsibility for the relocated people.” Sponsored by Senator John McCain, S1003 was initiated at nearly the same time as Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, expressed an interest in the Navajo land. Peabody Coal plans to expand its strip mining into this area, where billions of tons of low-sulfur coal are located

What we have here is a blatant promotion of eminent domain targeting a paricular group of people who will wind up in a state of destitution because of such theft of land and autonomy. Dare I say... ethnic cleansing? I don't care if ethnic cleansing is a chief motivating factor or not, such will be a consequence of further crimes committed against the Najavos and Hopis. And for what? The enrichment of Peabody Coal seems to be a motivating factor, making this yet another example of corporate welfare allowing the political class to pillage and rape the masses.

This reminds me of a poem of sorts that I once read for a Native American Literature course - Carter Rivard's "A Brief Guide to American History Teachers". Another recommended read I'd like to point out before moving on with this scumbags post is an essay by Peter Spotswood Dillard titled "The Unconquered Remnant: The Hopis and Voluntaryism". Those sure are some great people that McCain is sicking Leviathan upon.

*Gang of Scumbags: The USDA
James Leroy Wilson has written a quality column called "Totalitarianism Through the Back Door" that shines light on the fact that humans aren't the only critters being targeted by Leviathan's plan to utilize a "mark of the beast", so to speak. The USDA has come up with what it calls the National Animal Identification System, a clear example of government scumbaggery. Here's an excerpt from the James Leroy Wilson column that provides a glimpse of what NAIS is all about:
What is the rationale for NAIS? Supposedly, it is to trace back diseased animals to their source, within 48 hours of discovery of the disease. This sounds like it will protect the public, but the real reason is expressed quite well at "NAIS was developed to give the large meat exporters more markets to countries like Japan who are demanding trace-back on meat they import, specifically cattle."

NAIS is a classic case of corporate welfare. After all, if foreign (or domestic) markets want reliable trace-back, agri-business can supply that on their own, and do not require the government's help. Nor would it have to apply to those who sell only in local, or raise animals only for personal pleasure or consumption. What doesn't make sense, as points out, is that NAIS would apply to "all livestock at all farms, homesteads and even for livestock kept as pets. [italics added]"

Here's the worst of it: the big producers get to tag their livestock by the lot, while farmers who keep smaller numbers of animals will have to track and report the movements of each individual animal. This is costly in time and many, and will drive many smaller farmers out of business.

One may wonder what the purpose is. The answer is that this is what government does. Government is essentially a predator of the small businessman, including the small farmer. Profit margins are usually quite small for them, and every additional tax, form, and regulation they must comply with eats more and more into those margins. Corporations, on the other hand, already have lawyers, accountants, and human resource staff to handle compliance issues. Compliance costs are proportionally much smaller for them.

To learn more about NAIS, check out one or more of the following sites focusing on the issue:, Don't Tag, and Stop Animal

What really burns my nuts about this is rhe fact that I've been recently reading about people who are raising chickens in urban environments with quite a bit of interest. Once I own some property and get going with my gardening plans, I've decided that having a hen or two would be great for things like providing pest control, fresh fertilizer and eggs - all organic. They're also supposed to be very friendly and affectionate, as opposed to roosters. I'll really have to scope out the immediate surroundings, including prospective neighbors, to make sure that everything is "cool", if you catch my drift. Why? Because no critter of mine will be tagged, catalogued, and monitored by the biggest pest of them all (Leviathan), along with it's scumbag minions.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

gridiron gumption

Wide receiver Mike Williams of the Detroit Lions had this to say recently concerning the need to get in gear and compete for playing time:
"There's no government jobs here. I've got to do my part to get my position."

Friday, April 07, 2006

mp3 motley

I've been quite sick these past few days. Two different afflictions at once have whipped my ass, resulting in no desire to blog. I have done a little bit of web surfing though, and I've been inspired to post something. Not one thing in particular, just a few random things with mp3 accompaniment.

The new issue of the Journal of Libertarian Studies came out just in time for me to spend some birthday dough on a subscription. Since the current issue happens to be a symposium focusing on Kevin Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, it should be an extremely interesting read.

This was the one thing I wanted to mention in this post that didn't spark an initial mp3 accompaniment in my mind. After some thought, I decided on an Antibalas song that provides a critical yet funky critique of corporatist state capitalism.

MP3: Antibalas - Big Man (Who Is This America?, 2004)

The editor of JLS is none other than Roderick T. Long, who deserves praise for setting up the Carson symposium issue. Long deserves additional praise for his recent speech titled "Rothbard's "Left and Right": Forty Years Later". The preceding link goes to the online text of the speech, while this link is for downloading an mp3 of the speech.

Next up is this Bombs and Shields post (hat tip to William Gillis) about a spontaneous demonstration against police brutality in NYC led by over a thousand Hasidic Jews. Good for them for standing up to police state thuggery!

Speaking of police state thuggery and Hasidic Jews, I've been waiting for some time now to share a great song by a klezmer/jazz/rock outfit known as Hasidic New Wave. The song is about Rudy Giuliani, and I'm sharing it now since I'm sick of waiting for Giuliani Uber Alles to do or say something newsworthy. For those who are curious, the song is indeed a knockoff of the classic Dead Kennedys tune "California Uber Alles."

MP3: Hasidic New Wave - Giuliani Uber Alles (Kabalogy, 1999)

I've listened to King Crimson a few times recently, which is one of the reasons why I appreciated coming across Eugene Plawiuk's post on progressive or "Classical Rock" earlier today. While I enjoy many different types of rock music, progressive rock is what I turn to when I want to zone out, put some headphones on, and immerse myself in the richness and experimentation of rock that is influenced more by classical and jazz than R&B and other rock precursors.

I'll have to familiarize myself with some of the artists that Plawiuk wrote about, although I'm already quite fond of some of them. I need no introduction to King Crimson or Frank Zappa, and the following mp3s showcase a couple of great studio recordings of the former and some rare live cuts of the latter.

MP3: King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man (In the Court of the Crimson King, 1969)
MP3: King Crimson - Indoor Games (Lizard, 1970)

MP3: Frank Zappa - Black Napkins (live)
MP3: Frank Zappa - Peaces en Regalia (live - SNL, 12/11/76)

Finally, I'd like to give some blogprops to some of the great music-related blogs that I frequent. Ian and his blog Retrobabe is smokin' as of late, with great posts about artists ranging from Augustus Pablo to Can. Matt at los amigos de durutti is dishing out all sorts of hip sounds from the rap world, including some dish about the upcoming release by Gnarls Barkley. Another great music blogger, etnobofin, has embarked on a journey away from his native New Zealand. Best wishes to ya!