Archives for category: History

Anthony Comegna returns to my podcast for his third outing. The video will go up soon, but the podcast is ready on multiple podcatchers and at SoundCloud (LocoFoco.net):

To connect with Dr. Comegna, try Twitter, where he is known as Dr LocoFoco.

The latest episode of the LocoFoco Netcast, my podcast, is online in both video and audio forms. Like the previous episode, we wander into an extra-controversial topic for controversial reasons. I interview Ralph Ellis, the author of a number of books including King Jesus (which I finished reading only after I chatted with Mr. Ellis for this episode) and Jesus, King of Edessa.

LocoFoco Netcast, Season Two, Episode Four: February 21, 2021.

This is a tricky subject, of course, in no small part because many people, around the world, are believers in one of the three major religions herein discussed: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Like Ralph Ellis, I’m not a believer in any of these religions. But, also like Ralph Ellis, I do not think disbelief in a religion gives the disbeliever license to kill and otherwise abuse members of the religion in question. Religious warfare and genocide are despicable things. They are not acceptable when done in the name of one religion against another, or by disbelievers in all of the major religions. We are living in strange times, when the lid that has been placed, culturally and politically, against mass religious warfare could blow off at any moment, leaving us with a bloodbath — and perhaps no civilization to speak of.

But it is also the case that many people orient themselves politically and morally using religion. This has always been the case. Indeed, this is one of the things religion provides: a mechanism (or, if you prefer, organism) for ego-transcendent morality. Now, I believe that the evidence suggests that just about any metaphysical system could provide that service, but undoubtedly some work better than others. Along with Ralph Ellis, I judge Islam deficient in this regard. Though I did not inquire deeply into Mr. Ellis’s “Islamophobia” (a detestable name for opposition to some specific bad memes), or explicate my own, I can with some confidence state that there are crucial components to the Islamic memeplex that enable it to grow and thrive — while not really allowing freedom to grow and thrive. Muslims have been backwards for a thousand years, and for obvious reasons, not excluding the hegemonic beliefs that squelch liberal developments, especially including notions like Dhimmitude, taqiyya, capital punishment for apostasy, and the simple gambit that Mohammad was to be “the last Prophet.” These are all pernicious notions, integral to Islam.

But every political idea set has some truly dangerous notions. Christianity led to our civilization, which has raised world health, wealth and freedom, but embedded in the core Christian notions are a number of incompatible memes, and warring notions can do much damage.

For this reason, I have long treated investigation into the origins of Christianity as more than a matter of mere curiosity.

I have read up and down and around the subject for years. Of particular interest has been what Albert Schweitzer called “The Quest for the Historical Jesus.” This is perhaps most famously instantiated in the modern Jesus Seminar scholarship, though, after decades of reading in this vein, and about Gnosticism as well (Hans Jonas and Elaine Pagels being the two main historians), a certain deep skepticism set in: the main scholars seemed not to get far, leaving the origins of Christianity in a deep shadow.

Ralph Ellis figured out why. He saw something kind of obvious — but one of those “too obvious” problems that, because of their obviousness could not even be admitted by most people as a problem. There was a historical mystery at the heart of the Gospels: why was an apparently insignificant figure like Jesus (a “peaceful” “carpenter”) so significant in Pontius Pilate’s day, and how did he relate to the epoch-making events of the Jewish Rebellion and its suppression by Roman generals (and future emperors) Vespasian and Titus? Something historically huge and “majorly” evident happened in the seventh and eighth decades of this epoch designated A.D., yet the purported most important man of the period, Jesus, is said to have barely made a world-shaking blip a few decades earlier?

Ellis saw that there had been some strategic fibbing. The historical Jesus had indeed been a revolutionary, as repeatedly suggested and alluded to in the gospels . . . and in the seventh decade in particular. But somebody (whom Ellis identifies in a daring and mind-blowing way) had insulated this revolutionary’s true identity by placing him back in time, in history and out of History.

And Ellis has made some astute observations about the accumulating evidence: at the heart of the matter was the astrological changing of the World’s zodiacal odometer, from the Age of Aries (the Ram) to the Age of Pisces (the Fishes), which began c. 10 A.D. And which gave both the Flavian emperors and the Christians their telltale symbols, the Fish:

The sign of the cross took on increasing importance, of course, as the message of personal salvation became central to Christianity. But to Jesus of Gamala — the historical rather than gospel Jesus — the fish was vitally important, for the gnosis at the heart of his variant of Judaism (he was a Nazarene) was ancient knowledge of the precession of the Earth. This was information that the Jews took out of Egypt shortly after the end of the Taurian Age (of the Bull).

Ralph Ellis is the author of a number of well-thought-out, fascinating explorations that upend what we think about the religions grounding our western civilization. His works can be found at his own publishing house, Edfu Books. His “Illumination Lecture” series on YouTube is also worth consulting. I was extremely happy to have interviewed him, now for a second time. The interview, as published now, lingered “in the can” for a few weeks of difficulties, including technical difficulties (I need a decent mixer) and regional (an ice storm hit and I was without power for too long). Now it is up. I hope people can give it an open-minded review, as an introduction to a new way of looking at the beginning of our age.

For, we are all Pisceans, fishers of men. To those who accept the gospel accounts, they will of course not enjoy this exploration, for it is deeply, deeply heretical. Even apostate. But then, I’m merely another heretical apostate, seeking the truth.

I can assure you, I realize that these matters of history and religion are not irrelevant for our age. For one thing, if Ralph Ellis is right, they show that much of our lives has been deeply influenced, if not to say determined, by myth-makers long ago, men consciously engaged in psychological warfare. A grand psy-ops. These propagandists sought to bring peace to an empire by manipulating our species’ religious sense.

And many, many folks do likewise to this very day.

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The LocoFoco Netcast can be found at LocoFoco.net and via various podcatchers.

Who started the libertarian movement?

…as answered on Quora….

The libertarian movement evolved. It was started by the first person to articulate the notion that initiating force is a bad idea not only when private citizens to it, but also when people in government do it.

Modern libertarianism, as understood in the sense usually discussed in America, is a revived and refined classical liberalism, with ties also to 19th century individualist anarchism, which was itself called “philosophical anarchism” in its heyday, and, most astutely, “unterrified Jeffersonianism.” The main libertarian idea can be found in a diversity of liberal writers, such as John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, but received its first clear discussions in the middle of the 19th century in writers like William Leggett, Henry David Thoreau, Herbert Spencer, Frédéric Bastiat, and Gustave de Molinari. The American brand of anarchism (which I do not regard as a form of anarchism) was invented by utopian experimenter Josiah Warren and jurist Lysander Spooner. But by the end of that century, though the obviously libertarian theory received a great deal of careful elaboration by writers who called themselves “individualists” — Auberon Herbert, J. H. Levy and Wordsworth Donisthorpe to name three — classical liberalism had collapsed as a movement, and for half a century only a few obscure figures and their favorite authors (like Albert Jay Nock) survived . . . as “a remnant.” (See Nock’s essay “Isaiah’s Job,” and his book Our Enemy, the State; see also Garet Garrett’s The People’s Pottage.)

Now, three American women novelists might be said to have “created” modernlibertarianism in the middle of the 20th century: literary critic Isabel Paterson (esp. in The God of the Machine), journalist Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and Russian expatriate Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged). The revival of classical liberalism in the writings of two Austrian economists — Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek — spurred the movement, intellectually, especially with their more overtly political books, the elder Austrian’s Socialism and Omnipotent Government, and the younger man’s Road to Serfdom. By the time Murray N. Rothbard made a name for himself in the 1960s, the intellectual movement was well underway. Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia basically sealed the deal, and, as an intellectual movement, libertarianism appeared on the American scene as quite robust by 1976, with Nobel Prizes in economics going to Hayek and the astoundingly brilliant Milton Friedman. Milton and his wife Rose Director, and their son David D. Friedman, were all important exponents of variants of modern libertarianism, with the son being the more daring and radical.

As a political movement, libertarianism erupted out of the Young Americans for Freedom organization in the 1960s and a political party forming after Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, which helped disenthrall libertarians from conservative politics.

The definitive account of libertarian history was written by Brian Doherty in Radicals for Capitalism.


N.B. The Jeffersonian reference is to a passage from Benjamin R. Tucker:

The development of the economic programme which consists in the destruction of these monopolies and the substitution for them of the freest competition led its authors to a perception of the fact that all their thought rested upon a very fundamental principle, the freedom of the individual, his right of sovereignty over himself, his products, and his affairs, and of rebellion against the dictation of external authority. Just as the idea of taking capital away from individuals and giving it to the government started Marx in a path which ends in making the government everything and the individual, nothing, so the idea of taking capital away from government-protected monopolies and putting it within easy reach of all individuals started Warren and Proudhon in a path which ends in making the individual everything and the government nothing. If the individual has a right to govern himself, all external government is tyranny. Hence the necessity of abolishing the State. This was the logical conclusion to which Warren and Proudhon were forced, and it became the fundamental article of their political philosophy. It is the doctrine which Proudhon named Anarchism, a word derived from the Greek, and meaning, not necessarily absence of order, as is generally supposed, but absence of rule. The Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats. They believe that “the best government is that which governs least,” and that that which governs least is no government at all. Even the simple police function of protecting person and property they deny to governments supported by compulsory taxation. Protection they look upon as a thing to be secured, as long as it is necessary, by voluntary association and cooperation for self-defence, or as a commodity to be purchased, like any other commodity, of those who offer the best article at the lowest price. In their view it is in itself an invasion of the individual to compel him to pay for or suffer a protection against invasion that he has not asked for and does not desire. And they further claim that protection will become a drug in the market, after poverty and consequently crime have disappeared through the realization of their economic programme. Compulsory taxation is to them the life-principle of all the monopolies, and passive, but organized, resistance to the tax-collector they contemplate, when the proper time comes, as one of the most effective methods of accomplishing their purposes.

Benjamin R. Tucker’s Instead of a Book, by a Man Too Busy to Write One (1893/1897).
Additional Reading:

What are we supposed to make of “experts” who do not confront the most important data in front of them?

That’s a problem these days. And it has been a huge issue on the CO2 theory of “anthropogenic global warming.” One problem I’ve had with this well-funded “climate science” is that its pushers cannot explain the biggest climate change in our most-relevant geological past: the cycles of Ice Ages. So I invited Ralph Ellis, co-author of the paper “Modulation of ice ages via precession and dust-albedo feedbacks,” to explain what others do not seem able or . . . willing. Here is our conversation, in video, with a few visual aids (“as they say in the ‘ed biz’”):

It turns out that Ralph Ellis is an inveterate challenger of accepted paradigms. So after the one-hour mark, our conversation moves to ancient Egypt and a curious possibility about the true identity of the ancient Israelites. And note: this possibility has been staring us in the face all along. It occurred to me, and if you knew who The Hyksos were, it probably occurred to you. But only Ralph Ellis has taken up the clue to see where the ancient path leads.

The audio version of this podcast can be found on a variety of podcatchers and at LocoFoco.net:

LocoFoco Netcast, “Ice Age and Exodus,” Season Two, Episode Three (January 4, 2021).

Provide feedback at LocoFoco.locals.com. Thanks for stopping by.

Timothy Virkkala

Posted earlier, my notice of the new episode of the podcast. Now it is time to share the video version — is it called merely a vlog or a vlogcast?

LocoFoco Netcast #16, vlog-version, June 29, 2020.

With the kicking of Stefan Molyneux off of YouTube, I have to admit, putting anything up on YouTube bothers me. But we shall survive?

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Anthony Comegna returns to the LocoFoco Netcast. The latest episode is up on SoundCloud right now, and is probably wending its way out to the podcatchers as I type these words.

LocoFoco Netcast #16, June 29, 2020.

I disagree with Dr. Comegna on very little, though I don’t use his conception of left and right, and I do not see the divisions in the libertarian movement quite the way he does. I will obviously have to talk more about this, and perhaps I can cajole @DrLocoFoco to come back on the podcast again!

Obviously, on the history he knows quite a bit more than I do. His notion of a research program to trace out what Herbert Spencer called “the filiation of ideas” is heartily seconded by me.

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Something I just learned: associating the “right” with both “west” and “moral rectitude” (“dexter”) and “left” with both “east” and “evil” (“sinister”) goes back many millennia to ancient Egypt, when the Theban priests expelled and crushed the Amarna pharaohs and their Atenist cult. The worship of the Aten, you see, was a rite directed at the rising sun. The Theban priests who re-took complete control of Egypt under Horemheb reinstated the worship of the setting sun, the worship of Amen.

So Akhenaten’s religious revolution was not an aberration, not a mere foreshadowing. It was a forming feature of our civilization. Well, we can regard it as so if more linkages with our traditions can be found. And I think there are many such linkages.

But regarding directions: the victorious Amenists won.

It is amusing how “left” and “right” in politics has so transformed our values, though, for in popular discourse “right” no longer carries the implication of moral rectitude, “left” does. Right-wingers are generally despised as evil — by our cultural elites, I mean. Yes, these highly influential left-wingers think of themselves as utterly good, their causes wholly just because (they think) for the good of all, while rightist causes are only for the good of some.

Of course, in truth, popular opinion is filled with illusions.

The drollery here is rich, for, as everyone knows, whether something is to our left or our right depends on where we are looking.

But it is fun to see a memeplex sport such deep roots in our civilization.

Which we can watch burn, livestreamed.

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You can find Dr. Comegna on Twitter as @DrLocoFoco

Anthony Comegna joins host Timothy Virkkala to explore the meaning of LocoFoco-ism.

This is the history America’s historians shun as if it were the … coronavirus.

The issues from the 1830s and 1840s:

  • anti-monopoly
  • anti-central bank
  • abolitionism
  • anti-censorship
  • extending the franchise
  • general pro-freedom

Walt Whitman was a LocoFoco, and much admired its intellectual leader, William Leggett.

They were a radical bunch, and they took the liberty idea to some logical and sweeping conclusions. Their transit through America’s ideological landscape was astounding, and they changed minds. Whose?

William Lloyd Garrison’s, for one. His “no union with slaveholders” notion came from Leggett!

President Martin Van Buren — the true father of the Democratic Party — put LocoFoco positions into policy, and a number of LocoFocos into his administration.

But these LocoFocos came to learn something, and learn it hard: their love of democracy brought them face to face with an unlovely truth, that democracy corrupts its practitioners, and leads to slavery, war, and special privileges. As well as to themselves, the “equal rights” republicans.

Libertarians still struggle with these issues.

Maybe the way to really confront them is to do what most historians will not: learn from the history of actual libertarianism, in its first full flowering.

And, after catching this episode, you will also understand why our logo is a match:

LocoFoco Netcast #6 on YouTube

Or go to iTunes, Spotify, or (perhaps) some other podcatcher to listen to the podcast hosted at LocoFoco.net:

LocoFoco Netcast #6, LocoFoco.net.
William Leggett

A few years ago it came as something of a surprise to me to learn that UFOs and associated paranormal phenomena are not merely dismissible as misunderstood natural phenomena, hallucinations, dream experiences, psychopathological ideations, desperate frauds, and the like. There is a strange-yet-physical reality to these data that I had previously dismissed.

I was aided in getting over my “skeptical” programming — and more open to the vast volume of UFO reports and evidence — by the lesson I was learning, simultaneously, involving new information about the end of the last Ice Age, which turns out to be hugely significant for our understanding of religion, civilization and Homo sapiens sapiens.

How so?

We now know that there were indeed worldwide floods — that, in other words, the Deluge was real, if not entirely congruent with Biblical or other mythic accounts. With a reality now almost certain behind the worldwide mythology of a universal flood — or multiple ones, as Plato’s lore instructs — then other universal myths also had to be considered, including the possibility of a race of superhuman/non-human civilizers, tales of giants, and, of course, the tropes of Enoch and Ezekiel . . . “wheels within wheels.”

But what the reality behind the data is, I know not. The extra-terrestrial alien hypothesis, of which I was familiar from science fiction as well as the popular craze from the days of my youth, Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods (1968), seems a natural enough conjecture.

But others must be considered, as I did yesterday.

Nevertheless, it remains the case that the ET/Alien Hypothesis looks pretty good. It turns out that the Carl Sagan’s early work involving the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence was a scientific exploration of what we now think of as the Ancient Alien Hypothesis, not SETI:

[P]eople who think they know Carl Sagan invariably know him the way that influential individuals and powerful institutions in charge of his legacy want them to know him. All along, throughout the course of his 40-year professional career, Carl Sagan believed that advanced extraterrestrials exist and that they have been to Earth. Carl Sagan was an ancient alien theorist, convinced that human civilization was a gift from visiting aliens.

The truth is that from 1956, when Sagan was a 22-year-old whiz kid at the University of Chicago hobnobbing with Nobel laureates, until December 20, 1996, the day of his death, Sagan not only believed in ancient aliens, he single-handedly built a scientifically rigorous model that makes it possible for ancient alienism to hopefully, one day soon, become a legitimate field of inquiry.

Donald Zygutis, The Sagan Conspiracy: NASA’s Untold Plot to Suppress The People’s Scientist’s Theory of Ancient Aliens (2013).

Now, sure, author Donald Zygutis may overplay his hand in the passage quoted above. Did Sagan “believe” in the ancient alien hypothesis? Or did he merely continue to float it as a conjecture worthy of scientific investigation?

As I often warn my friends: on matters of an unsettled nature, my beliefs may not be as important or as interesting as my suspicions,

In any case, Sagan did elaborate the ancient alien hypothesis before von Däniken:

Sagan thought that in a few centuries, humans will have developed the technology for interstellar travel. If that is true, he pondered, shouldn’t aliens, having civilizations possibly millions of years older and millions of year more advanced than ours, have already been to Earth? In the 10-year period between 1956 and 1966, he wasn’t writing popular books, appearing on the Johnny Carson Show, or hawking the virtues of space exploration to the masses; he had his nose set to the grindstone, engaged in the most ambitious project of his life: to build an airtight science-based argument that Earth has been visited by advanced extraterrestrials.

Zygutis quotes one of Sagan’s lines of conjecture:

Some years ago, I came upon a legend which more nearly fulfills some of our criteria for a genuine contact myth. It is of special interest because it relates to the origin of Sumerian civilization. Sumer was an early—perhaps the first—civilization in the contemporary sense on the planet Earth. It was founded in the fourth millennium B.C. or earlier. We do not know where the Sumerians came from. Their language was strange; it had no cognates with any known Indo-European, Semitic, or other language, and is only because a later people, the Akkadians, compiled extensive Sumerian-Akkadian dictionaries.
The successors to the Sumerians and the Akkadians were the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians. Thus the Sumerian civilization is in many respects the ancestor of our own. I feel that if Sumerian civilization is depicted by the descendants of the Sumerians themselves to be of nonhuman origin, the relevant legends should be examined carefully. I do not claim that the following is necessarily an example of extraterrestrial contact, but it is the type of legend that deserves more careful study.
Taken at face value, the legend suggests that contact occurred between human beings and a non-human civilization of immense powers on the shores of the Persian Gulf, perhaps near the site of the ancient Sumerian city of Eridu, and in the fourth millennium B.C. or earlier.

This is not really all that “out there.” But in this passage Sagan explores one angle of the possibility:

There are three different but cross-referenced accounts of the Apkallu dating from classical times. Each can be traced back to Berosus, a priest of Bel-Marduk, in the city of Babylon, at the time of Alexander the Great. Berosus, in turn, had access to cuneiform and pictographic records dating back several thousand years before his time.

Carl Sagan, in Sagan and Shklovskii, Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966).

There are many reasons to doubt the theory that Sagan developed. But it deserves careful attention. That most “smart people” dismiss it says no more about it than the academic and political support for fiscal stimulus programs says about the merits of Keynesianism.

And “smart people” should wonder: why are they so easily led to shaming techniques and irrational, social bullying paradigm defenses?

Similar to the case of “conspiracy theories,” a term of derision parlayed by the CIA via the major media in the late 1960s to direct citizens’ attention away from the bizarreries of the facts in the case of the JFK assassination, the bad odor of the ET Hypothesis (to explain what we have so far learned about UFOs) and the Ancient Alien Hypothesis (to fill in the lacuna in our knowledge of the fast growth of civilization after the fifth millennium B.C.) may in part be the result of a psy-op from the masters of psy-ops within the Deep State.

Sure, much nonsense surrounds these two related theories. There is a lot of cringe in popular accounts — I have seen Ancient Aliens (2009-) and its ilk, and its standard “could it be” meme gets mighty annoying after its third iteration. But “smart people” are supposed to be resistant to ad hominem and guilt by association techniques. We wouldn’t dismiss Einstein’s two theories of relativity because television science fiction and college freshman get them horribly, horribly wrong. Though we use ridiculousness and poisoned fruit notions as rules of thumb, if we are ruled by intellectual rules of thumb only, and not a philosophical and scientific epistemic, we must relegate ourselves to the lowest form of ideologue.

It has been my experience in dealing with scoffers about UFOs and the like: they do not know much about what they are talking about, and though they keep demanding “evidence,” they tend to ignore lots of evidence.

Applying Occam’s Razor is a fine thing. Considering the simplest theories without multiplying “explanatory entities” is great. But epistemological shavers don’t get to damn whole sets of data. The idea is not to multiply explanatory entities needlessly, not diminish the number of facts to be explained.

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Disease. Despair. Distraction.

That about sums up the reasons why it took me so long to publish my own podcast. I’ve been sick this winter; not everything is hunky dory in Virkkalavia, and I am not emotionally unaffected; and I’ve been reading and working and even watching stuff on the big screen.

But I’ve postponed podcasting too long. So last night I didn’t go to sleep. Instead, I published two podcast episodes in the form of video on YouTube and audio on SoundCloud.

It’s called the “LocoFoco Netcast.” Why? Well, I’ve been referencing my politics to those of the 19th century LocoFocos for a long, long time. And why “Netcast” instead of “podcast”? Well, the way to get to the audio on SoundCloud is to put the simple URL locofoco.net into your browser. Bang. You’re there. Calling it “Netcast” reminds listeners that it can be found at LocoFoco.net.

The first episode starts with me going solo, but clipping a segment from MSNBC and another from Stefan Molyneux. That’s not very long, but I make a point that is not made elsewhere, from what I can tell. Call it a plea for “lateral thinking,” though I did not use the term in my short talk. That is, in the podcast. The rest of the episode is long conversation between James Littleton Gill and me about economist Tyler Cowen’s “State Capacity Libertarianism.” Check it out:

LocoFoco Netcast #1

What’s with the title? Well, if you are curious, you know where to click.

The second episode consists entirely of an interview with the great writer David Ramsay Steele. Lee C. Waaks takes command of the interview, here, though Mr. Steele doesn’t need much prompting or managing. He is excellent as always. Our conversation is about fascism and its meaning, history, and lingering influence — that is, the subject of the lead essay of his new book:

LocoFoco Netcast #2

As much work as I put into these videos, I think I prefer the audio versions that you can find on SoundCloud. Please click in and listen — and subscribe, and comment. On SoundCloud you can place your comments at precise points in the audio presentations, which is really an attractive feature, if you ask me.

Find the SoundCloud account by going to locofoco.net.

By the end of the week the podcasts should be available upon multiple podcast distributors, such as iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play. I will keep readers posted.

Me in my living room, in front of a new acquisition: an old Apple eMac!