Democracy was the State’s way to ape the market. Democratic socialism is the belief that aping the market in a limited political realm provides proof of concept enough for the State to replace all market activity with its own machinations.

What democratic socialists do not understand is that the aping of the market in democratic action cannot be maintained when there is no market left to ape — in no small part because the replacement of markets with politics and bureaucratization is, transactionally, anti-market, and cannot allow even the mimicry of trade.

The “socialism” part of democratic socialism must trump the “democracy” part, transforming what may begin by voting and “voice” into the paradigmatic socialistic activity: statist fiat. Compulsion. Command. Totalitarianism.

The democratic socialist is the kind of person who has tricked himself, conned himself, not realizing that some inkling of intent cannot override the reality of the means chosen. Socialism is control. And its form of control must always destroy the weak shadow of freedom retained in democratic action.

Democracy mimics the market’s myriad of two-way transactions — where each side can refuse to coöperate (demonstrating “exit”) and where a proposed scheme will fail if it cannot find willing collaborators, willing traders — with an orchestrated expression of “voice” without any possible exit or right of refusal. And this lack of “exit” — the lack of an ability to decline the results of a vote — ends up with a prohibition of failure. Democracy cripples the learning inherent in failure, allowing the State to carry this to the extreme by almost never allowing a failed program to cease: instead failure gets rewarded with more resources.

Thus building up failure into the very warp and woof of the socialist enterprise.

Along with forceful control.

twv

One of the great public relations coups of all time has been to identify “the left” with goodness and “the right” with “wrong.”

This is especially droll, since, in olden times, “the left” was identified with “sinister.”

Defining “sinister”. . .

Further, and especially before the introduction of toilet paper, the left hand was not a hand you offered in public, especially in handshake or salute. Why? Because in private it was the hand one used to wipe one’s anus after defecation. The idea that “the left,” today, would be synonymous with good intentions and moral goodness and all other things pure and holy is almost hilarious.

But it is just the kind of thing you should expect to happen when the State comes to dominate society.

twv

There is a sort of progress to be identified in civilization, an incline that can be seen in the graded, increasing limits on the demands the state may be allowed to place upon us. It goes something like this:

  • Death
  • Slavery
  • Corvée labor
  • Property confiscation
  • Taxation

Generally, civilized societies emphasize taxation as preferable to confiscation — but naked confiscation exists in America: just look at the practice of civil asset forfeiture.

America’s founding fathers placed an important limit upon confiscatory practices: the Takings Clause of the Bill of Rights. Their idea was that there be allowed no confiscation of property without a valid public use, and not without “just compensation,” either. Unfortunately, state functionaries are not the only ones with designs on others property, and both limits have been repeatedly undermined over the years, indeed flouted. The Keto case being only the most famous. And we now must endure a president who has used the “public takings” procedures of “eminent domain” for his own quite private ends. Who knows where this limit upon state power will go because of Donald Trump?

It is a mark of civilization that intermittant required labor (corvée) is preferable to outright slavery . . . but note that military conscription is a form of corvée labor that looks an awful lot like slavery, and one that often leads to death.

The State often brings back that initial demand upon subjects: the cessation of their very lives.

It is also the case that taxation is yet another form of slavery, just removed from personal control to more alienable commandeering of property. And remember the tale of Genghis Khan, who wanted to raze Manchuria (in the process slaughtering all of the conquered Manchurians) to . . . raise horses. An advisor, the story goes, mentioned to him the principle of the Laffer Curve — though not of course by name — saying that a living population could provide wealth to the Khanate via taxation, while as The Dead they could provide nothing. So, the Great Khan allowed the Manchurians to live, taxing them, thereby enabling his Golden Horde to further spread death and slavery throughout the world, into Persia and the Arab world, through Russia and even as far as Vienna.

Who says government doesn’t work!

Yet I prefer to push back on all forms of conscript service — all the way back to taxation. And then cut taxes. The love of taxation, often expressed these days, is sometimes said to express “caring” for the less well off. I just think of Manchuria. And its people, seen by their Mongol rulers as a mere one small step up from the equine beast.

twv

Facebook post by online philosopher Stefan Molyneux.

This is interesting. The religion of our age is statism, and its proponents are dangerous because dependent upon (and thus prone to) violence. Since statists and ultra-statists demand that state violence be marshaled to serve their causes, no wonder that they engage in threats and terrorism. Their philosophy is one of threats and terror.

And the scope of state action is immanent, part of the warp and woof of the secular world, so always a live option for acolytes.

Christianity, on the other hand, is a transcendent religion, not immanentist. So the religion’s forcible element is seen as taking place outside of the secular sphere. This allows its practitioners a sacred space apart from the world of hustle and bustle, thus encouraging them not to over-invest in everyday politics. It even allows them some skepticism and resistance to state power.

This is probably why statists have made such a strong, sustained attack upon Christendom for the past century, the last few decades especially: the State is a jealous god.

“God is dead, and we have killed him!” —F. W. Nietzsche
From PJP’s most famous book.
This first one in this afternoon’s binge is probably the best, no?
A two-disc CD set from OgreOgress.

Morton Feldman’s ‘Rothko Chapel’ is one of the classics of East Coast avant-garde music and is the work that turned me on to this composer in the first place. His quiet music is nonpareil.

This disc set — ‘Morton Feldman: Complete Violin|Viola and Piano Music’ — does not contain ‘Rothko Chapel,’ of course (since, despite the great viola melody at the end, the Rothko meditation is ‘Spacial Music’ and not chamber music), but it does showcase his second most famous work, ‘The Viola in My Life,’ a justly admired work.

The first disc starts off with an excellent early violin sonata. It is the odd piece out, here, but welcome nonetheless. It is in a vaguely neoclassical style, tuneful, many timbres . . . not just pizzicato. What we hear in this work reveals Feldman’s genius mainly as a promise of great works to come.

The brief, under-two-minute ‘Piece’ provides a good follow-up, coming next on the first disc, a sort of cleansing of the palate. It, and the several works to follow, show Feldman at his most characteristic; here is the Feldman we have come to know. Not at all tuneful in an ordinary way, but always listenable, thoughtful. I am not sure how Feldman manages to make this seemingly disjointed material cohere together. But he does. Perhaps it is the calmness: Feldman does not push his pointillistic chords and notes and ‘gestures’ (frankly, I forget what that is supposed to mean, technically, in avant-garde music, but it suggests something I think we all can point to) in an ‘in-your-face’ way. Feldman rarely if ever shouts. I find it hard to describe Morton Feldman’s music that might convince anyone to give it a try. It is just different from other composers’.

Perhaps what makes Feldman’s work so unique is that what he offers is not music as we usually understand it, but the Dream Time equivalent: peaceful echoes of music, as if an afterlife memory.

I enjoyed all the performances. This disc set gave me a few new Feldman ‘favorites’ — the second disc, especially, with two long works dedicated to two specific older contemporaries of Feldman, Aaron Copland and John Cage. I could take almost any single piece from his mature style and place it on infinite loop. I am listening to ‘Spring of Chosroes’ right now. I will be listening to it again. Soon. Any minute now.


Morton Feldman

N.B. Unlike John Cage, I do express interest in listing favorites. Feldman’s most arresting and accessible work remains, in my opinion, “Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety,” which John Adams conducted for a CD entitled ‘American Elegies.’

Morning Oregonian, 1901

As proof of the degradation of literacy and journalism in America, compare any recent paper — or news website, for that matter — with these three articles from page six of a newspaper near me 118 years ago:



I share these not to argue with them. I could. No problem. But note the quality. Does journalism anything like this exist in America today?

I have not seen it.

twv

Me, playing with filters . . . and not with my cat, Bene.

On Quora, a question was asked — “What aspect of ‘big government’ frightens conservatives and libertarians?” And answered: dependence. And that answer was then commented upon . . . which then received an additional comment. That last little comment — nothing more than a quip, really — irked me enough to respond.


As the old saying goes, “Libertarians are like housecats. Completely dependent on the people around them for survival, yet utterly convinced of their own independence.”

Ben Patch

This misconstrues the nature of interdependence.

Libertarians celebrate our interdependence in the form of voluntary cooperation — especially in trade. This is the most obvious thing about individualist intellectuals, and has been since Adam Smith and Anders Chydenius. When libertarians talk about dependence we are talking about non-reciprocal aid over long periods of time. The goal of an adult should be a morally autonomous being capable of offering moral (and economic) support to family, friends, and neighbors, but is not a burden to same.

Conflating interdependence with dependence is something of a perversity.

And as for the cat thing — “I bought me a cat” a decade ago because I needed protection from rodents. My cat could have survived for some time in the wild. But in my house he kept it vermin-free for ten years — and has survived longer than he could have on his own. This is important. It is reciprocity. And he certainly is not my slave; and neither, really, am I his. He is not my dependent, not like many people on the dole are to the state.

The “old saying,” above, is a calumny against both cats and libertarians.

twv

Nota Bene: Then followed more discussion, which the curious may drill down to with the link given above.

This just in my library — recently purchased.

I have in my hand a book about an important political figure I had either not heard of before, or had completely forgotten . . . that is, before I laid hand on this book.

Adolf A. Berle, Jr., was, apparently, a major figure in the “liberalism” in the epoch of FDR and JFK. According to the preface, which is all I have read so far, he was quite influential. Why had I not remembered his name, then? Well, it is not a period I have studied, so I am sure I can be forgiven for my ignorance or forgetfulness. But his was a time I am more than familiar with — my father’s time, so to speak, the time in which my father came of age and grew to maturity and, in fact, a time into which I was born, at the very end — one of my earliest memories is of the live TV coverage in the aftermath of the JFK assassination.

I have dozens of other books to read in my library before this, so I will probably just take away from this book acquisition, for now, my conjecture as to why Adolf Berle is not more often spoken about: it is that name, Adolf.

Hitler’s dark presence eclipsed Berle’s fame, and threatened him with infamy he almost certainly did not deserve. Why the man did not, in the 1940s, adapt to his time by styling himself as “A. Augustus Berle” I know not. Maybe Jordan A. Schwarz, the author of this biography, will explain.

But I can imagine rationales for not trying to solve the problem. Perhaps Berle preferred to stay somewhat behind the scenes. Maybe he hankered a bit for lathe biosas — to the extent anyone who aspired to be “the Marx of the shareholding class” and a “Machiavelli,” too, could manage that — and he simply accepted his fate.

Be that as it may, Berle helped architect the corporatist order of our age, designing and implementing a more durable analog of “national socialism,” slinging a new form of imperialism:

Liberal: Adolf A. Berle and the Vision of an American Era, p. viii
Liberal: Adolf A. Berle and the Vision of an American Era, p. ix

It is worth thinking about this man, for the political party he devoted himself to is now forsaking his mission, replacing it with an insane, moralistic form of statism, a frank socialism or at least quasi-socialism. Berle’s beloved “New Deal” vision is being replaced with an incoherent “Green New Deal,” as concocted by people who are both unlearned and confident, a bad combo, but all-too-familiar in this Trumpian Moment.

It seems apparent to me that Berle’s “American Era” is drawing to a close. I do not know if it will end with a bang or a whimper. I suspect both, in quick succession. Right now is just the time for whining.

My chief wonder, in this regard, is whether the end will come before I make time to read this book.

twv


A Facebook post.

I am glad I waited a few days to comment on the Christchurch shooting. It is apparent that one of the big takeaways from the atrocity is that center-left opinion makers are wildly mischaracterizing the opinons of the mass murderer. And, had I shot my mouth off early, I may have missed this, the biggest story.

John R. Lott, Jr., clarifies:

The shooter wrote: “The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China.” And the political figure with whom he most closely identifies? England’s Sir Oswald Mosley, who self-identified as a member of the “left” and proponent of “European Socialism.”

Ever encountered a right-winger who pontificates about the need for minimum wage increases and “furthering the unionization of workers”? Or who denounces “the ever increasing wealth of the 1% that exploit the people for their own benefit.” He goes on to declare that “conservatism is dead” and “global capitalist markets are the enemy of racial autonomists.” He called himself an “Eco-fascist.”

Media Calls The New Zealand Shooter ‘Right-Wing,’” Townhall, March 18, 2019


The shooter was a self-declared leftist.

That being said, very few people are wholly left- or wholly right-wing in political bent. And I am very tempted to call murderous racism a rightist obsession. It is just inconvenient in this case, as in so many others, that the shooter was basically leftist . . . except in his racism.

But even that is not quite correct, for being against Islam and third-world immigration is not, in the shooter’s case, really racist: he opposed both because of population growth fears. Eminently a leftist canard.

He frequently uses the term invader, but his reason was an environmentalist one. “The environment is being destroyed by over population.” Did he hate minorities? He certainly did: “We Europeans are one of the groups that are not over populating the world. The invaders are the ones over populating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”

You certainly won’t find any of the media, including CNN, blaming environmentalists for the carnage at the mosques.

And it is worse: one reason for his rampage was to spur New Zealand and America to establish further degrees of gun control.

The media also conveniently ignores what the killer hoped to accomplish by his attack. He did it to help achieve “the removal of gun rights” for New Zealanders and Americans. And within a day, politicians in both countries were doing what he wanted. The New Zealand government has already promised a complete ban on semi-automatic guns. American gun control advocates such as Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, quickly applauded the move and suggested that it is a model for United States lawmakers. 

Of course, this isn’t the first time that mass public shooters have supported gun control. The Columbine school killers were also gun control advocates.

This armament regulation position is preëminently left-wing, in that socialism (and leftism in general) denies the individualist foundation of government legitimacy as expressed in Anglo-American liberalism, which rests on the very idea of self-defense. Government is said to gain its just powers from the rights and consent of the governed. To deny self-defense is to find a different source for government legitimacy. Which is far, far left — not liberal or conservative.

So, the murderous ideologue is a leftist, confessedly so. Anyone holding the leftist line that this massacre provides a good reason to confiscate guns is actually siding with the murderer in his own intent. Arguably, if you use this event to push for greater gun control, you have chosen a side: mass murder.

Propaganda by the deed, a century ago, was notoriously counter-productive. The anarchists who engaged in terrorism, way back then, miscalculated. They thought that by attacking the institutions of business and government — and, most specifically, the people who run them — that they would undermine general support for those institutions. But the opposite was the case. Anarchists, not surprisingly, did not understand human nature.

Nowadays, anyone with a lick of sense knows that committing acts of terrorism against individual persons will unite most people against either the murderer’s cause or the murderer’s weapons. Or both. Which is one reason why I expect to see more leftists engage in more shooting: they can count on leftist media and politicians to focus attention away from the cause and against the weaponry.

The only defense, really, is to arm ourselves with the weapons . . . and target the lies of the leftist media and political class, shooting them down one by one.

One of the odder works to bubble up out of the political landscape in the days of anarchist terrorism. More standard fare? Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.