Archives for category: tyranny

The Left has captured the Democratic Party . . . and leftist resentment at having even to answer challenges is fueling their mad lust to engage in full-on mob- and state-based attacks against all major competing ideas, personalities and platforms.

And libertarians who yammer on about how awful Trump is, and how he should, in January 2021, be impeached, place themselves on the side of these new totalitarians. Sure Trump was what he was: no savior. But he was also wasn’t what he wasn’t: an Antichrist. But what the Democrats now yearn for is an Antichrist, their own false savior in The State. And they are gearing up to stamp and contract-trace every citizen they can.

twv

In the past, I have warned that when the insiders — or, more properly, our overlords — take away cash, replacing it with digital fiat currency, freedom would be over.

The end of “democratic liberty,” such as it is, would be at hand.

That is coming soon, under cover of COVID, to be pushed as a saving measure by the new Democrat administration.

The rationale will be the same as the lockdowns: save the pensioners!

For Social Security and private pensions both are in the process of being destroyed.

Of course you saw this coming, as secular debt accumulation.

But you looked the other way.

You won’t look away from the next step, though. You will turn on your neighbors, in fear.

The new totalitarianism is almost in place.

Your compliance is appreciated by your overlords. Your compliance is the source of their power. You, the mask-wearing public, are the enemies of freedom.


In free fall, you feel fine. On the sidewalk, you’re a blot, and feel nothing any longer.

Mocking the possibility of a terminus on the way down is what fools do. The “we owe it to ourselves” counsel regarding debt accumulation has been the classic free fall folly — and one that is quite out-of-date, for we are now can see how the higher-ups and insiders plan on handling the conversion of financial systems.

The old dollar system is going to die. It will be replaced by a digital currency as if right out of the Book of the Revelation. The death of cash, which insiders are plotting (and is why it was absolutely necessary to get Trump out of the White House), will spell the loss of the last bit of liberty in society.

In the future, only criminals will be free.

And criminal freedom is not liberty.


On the other hand, as Catherine Austin Fitts admits in a recent much-shared video, the technology for an international digital fiat currency is not ready. And the idea that the U.S. Government could manage such a transition seems laughable.

Which is why, I guess, I assume it will not be the U.S. Treasury or the Federal Reserve that takes the lead on the project.

Till then, there is Bitcoin and many private digital fiat currencies. I am sure our overlords are watching these closely. For clues on how to do it, and what not to do.

My friends have all been gung-ho on the eleutherian possibilities of Bitcoin, but I expect Bitcoin to be cracked down upon big time should the new, cashless worldwide currency replacement actually occur. Let me just say, Bitcoin users: get used to riding on trains. For expect a last train ride in a boxcar, cramped.

twv

The Thing that Biden wouldn’t say is, of course . . . well, I will leave that thought to a podcast. (And yes, more are coming.)

So, everyone acknowledges how weird 2020 has been. But too rarely do we recognize how well prepared we have been for the totalitarianism now developing. Our progressive servility has been managed, taught, bought and paid for (though the “paid for” includes over $27 trillion in debt, so I’m using this term loosely). It is a multi-pronged advance, of course, and it would be tedious to list at this point the major wings of our enslavement. But what Herbert Spencer called “The Coming Slavery” in 1884 is what we are seeing at the end of 2020.

Though in some sense “shocking,” it is not as if all my life I have not believed this was coming. I believed it when I ate up evangelical Christian eschatology as a young teen; I grokked it when I read Aldous Huxley and Yevgeny Zamyatin as an older teen. I began to understand its methods when I learned the meaning of words like “Orwellian” and “fascist” and “communist,” and especially as I read the history of the rise of the American military-industrial complex. Economics proved helpful, too, as did social psychology and . . . science fiction.

Indeed, that latter should have prepared us all what we are about to experience. I occasionally use an obscure word: stefnal. Well, that word sure will come in handy in 2021. The world is undergoing metamorphosis, and it is a very “science-fictional” one.

The Age of the AntiChrist™ is here, and tens and tens of millions have voted for it. Ah, the Savior State! But caution: Biden’s not the AntiChrist™, and neither, I suspect, is the loathsome Kamala Harris: the Savior State itself fits the role, with the figurehead being replaceable.

And the Last Men (of all “genders”) shall march to their demise taunting those recalcitrants who must be dragged to their doom their in chains — though the chains may very well be some form of psychotropic drug, a freeze ray, or a carefully constructed virus.

Chanting “follow the science” is such a coward’s move, and so unscientific. In science, leadership and oppositionalism count. Followers are insignificant.

Not true of scientism, though. There, the science groupies really do provide extra oomph — the extra oomph needed to send people to involuntary vaccination lines, re-education centers, concentration camps, and gas chambers.

Technocracy is the political expression of scientism, and perhaps its raison d’être.

It pretends to be a logocentric endeavor, “logical” and “scientific” and all very Spockish, but that is belied by its required extremes of coercion and the always-present love of coercion.

But that violent streak needs its halo, some mythic power. In a word, “science.”

Repeat the word for its special magic, acolytes.

twv

States without lockdown orders, or mask mandates, are not doing spectacularly worse than those with them. Indeed, it ranges from “better” to a wash.

Which makes the policies inexcusable.

So why are these edicts being promoted and followed?

For the same reason politicians send us to war and we go. For the same reason there is war fervor and excitement. For the same reason crowds shout in triumph upon the death of millions elsewhere.

The State with its claim of sovereign authority tempts everyone, and it encourages us to be reckless, bloodthirsty, moralistic, self-righteous, and worse . . . out of fear, first, and some imagined advantage, second.

This similarity between war and the lockdown orders is fairly clear, is it not?

The “moral equivalent of war” is immoral, and we, like sheep, almost always go astray to the bad shepherd that is the State.

The State’s a mind-trap. It messes with your heads. It takes your fear and makes you do crazy things, like think prohibiting people from engaging in commerce and normal human interaction because some even peaceful interactions play against what is said to be the general welfare. But obviously, in the case of the threats that start most wars and the menace that is this pandemic, the “cures” are worse than the disease — in part because our benighted species has been infected by a far worse virus than SARS-CoV-2: that worse infection is statism. Political messianism, in other words.

Thinking that salvation comes from authoritarian force.

It is amusing how rarely anyone brings up the First Amendment; the freedom to peaceably assemble, one of would have thought, was something to be protected, not squelched. But oh, how politicians lust to squelch freedom in any form! It’s in their memes and maybe their genes.

And give them an excuse . . . well, don’t.

The proper response to a pandemic is caution, courage, curiosity and conscientiousness — all within the field of persuasion and property rights. Not state edict.

And by the way, “edicts” are not laws, in some jurisprudential theory, and the distinction is understandable. I won’t go to one local store that put up a sign mandating masks because of “Inslee Law.” Inslee’s our idiot governor. He cannot make law. Ascribing law to him is a kind of heresy to republicanism. I’d rather play anarch than subservient swine to Inslee’s edicts.

But maybe we can avoid accelerating our grimace. When I hear a person chide Trump and Trumpians for breaching the “rule of law” but in the next breath insist upon the need for lockdowns, I do indeed laugh.

Yet, should jackbooted thugs with badges come to take me off to the gulags my leftist friends seem itching to create in their drooled-about “Truth and Reconciliation” re-education camps, from my mouth may come bitter, not mirthful, laughter.

But of course the peace-lovers will no doubt gun me down instead. You know, “for the public good.”

Which they cannot explain on rational grounds. For this epidemic does not justify tyrannical proclamations and a general totalitarian response. Not even plausibly.

But add in fear and subtract sound judgment, and of course: anything goes.

As long as it is statist. That parasite meme is firmly running people’s brains now.

twv

Against Mere Plausibility

“First they came for the Jews.”

We all repeat the poem, with reverence.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me. 

Martin Niemöller, “First They Came for the Jews,” see alternative versions available.

Oh, we are so uplifted by this bit of rhetoric. Why, we would never do that! We would never cave to the Nazis! We are Americans! We are civilized!

Here is the deal: by complying with the mask orders, and censuring those who do not “comply” with same, you are doing what Niemöller said. You are, in effect, letting the Jews be taken away.

You protest, though: “The Nazis were wholly evil, but masks save lives!” Well, no, certainly the latter is not true. I can and have pointed to scientific studies that show the masks are ineffectual and even dangerous — and worse yet, constitute a deep psy-op that turns us into serviles, preparing us for a corporatist totalitarian agenda.

This should be obvious, the idea being to set up compliance regimens that allow States (it is quite clear in Australia right now) to eradicate freedom in the name of safety, to abridge freedom of speech and press and free association. The next step after refusing to allow people to purchase food without mask compliance is to refuse to allow us to travel and associate and purchase food without vaccination compliance — and then to add universal tracking on top of (or, more ominously, along with) that. This is not the spinning of some fanciful conspiracy scenario. The plans are openly touted. Bill Gates has argued for all of these things.

It is “just a coincidence” that these same people publicly worry about over-population and seek to diminish the world population by half. It is only a small step for them to turn a vaccine into the instrumentality of genocide. Thanos was a fictional supervillain; but our supervillains are quite real, many are out in the open and widely respected, and some of them are your friends.

That is why the canary in this particular coal mine is not “the Jews” today — or trans people or some much-touted minority — but the mask non-compliant.

If you side against the mask-less, you are no better than the Germans who let the Nazis take control. I am not kidding, nor am I exaggerating. Your protest that the Nazis’ case against the Jews was never this plausible is idiotically naïve. The Nazis indeed had a case. If you cannot make it, you fail to understand history and, alas, only understand the “straw man” case for freedom. The Nazis had a plausible case and it convinced the Germans, yet they were wrong and they succumbed to grave evil.

So, do not pretend that a case for totalitarianism cannot be made. There is of course a plausible case for mandatory masks. But it is wrong. Just like the Nazis were wrong. The pretense these days is that the enemies of justice do not have a case. Deny, rather than argue. This is intellectual cowardice, and is the vice of people who prefer herdish belief to actual thinking.

Liberty possesses a logic that resists the “plausible” sounding rationalizations of medical totalitarians, or any other kind of totalitarian.

The proper step is to resist totalitarian controls. It is not enough to vote out the vile governors of our states (Inslee in mine). And we must do more than bring lawsuits against the government. We must now be civilly disobedient. Stop wearing the masks, at least if you are young and healthy.

If you go about complying, the next level of control will ratchet up, as will the next after that, and there will be no stopping it.

First, they demanded masks.

twv

…pulled off of Instagram….

While I should be writing something for pay, or mowing the lawn, today I wrote a bunch of answers on Quora:

Can authoritarianism come to America?

It’s here. In the platforms, habits, demands and reverenced rhetoric of both major parties.

And it is going to get worse and reach its full flower with the new coronavirus menace, for people of vacuous spirituality demand to be “saved” by the sacrifice of others’ freedoms.

That’s authoritarianism in a very popular form.

It is effrontery first, tyranny second.

twv (5/13/20)

Why is it that people either intensely love Trump or […] intensely hate him?

I do not either intensely hate Trump or love him. You may be surprised to discover that this attitude is actually very common in America.

I do find him funny, though. But his enemies are funnier, if not in a praiseworthy way. He is not the idiot that his detractors incessantly insist he is, for it is obvious that he is smarter than most of his political opponents.

But he really is a different creature in the White House, and he breaks many norms. Since presidents following those norms have led us to war and insolvency, seeing them broken does not offend me much. I laugh at those who are offended, but I also chuckle at his adoring acolytes.

As for what he has done and what he believes or pretends to believe? I dislike Trump’s protectionism, his know-nothing nationalism, his crankish approach to policy, his inelegant and seemingly racist speech, but at least he is not a warmonger, and I would never side with the Deep State that demands his ouster. I am an anti-imperialist and anti-nationalist. Trump’s forays against the empire? I had some hope for him. But we did not see his ideas put into play. We saw reaction. At least now we can see who the real rulers are, for they have come out of hiding by trying to remove Trump from office. I know who freedom’s real enemies are, and they reside in the national security state and in shady global alliances of the hyper-wealthy.

But that does not get to the heart of the love/hate, does it? So let us confront one obvious truth: the main bone of contention is his sexual style. He is a traditional “alpha male.” As such, this offends beta male cultures on the Christian right and the pagan left, as well as modish feminism. But most women are not feminists, and his style does not offend everyone. And the right-leaning Christians have lost so many battles that they have in a sense given up: if God gives them an imperfect defender, they no longer prissily complain.

And the enthusiasm for Trump appears to be enthusiasm for someone who regularly humiliates their persecutors — and if any group is openly scorned in America, it is evangelical Christians . . . by coastal cognitive elites. And Trump makes a mockery of them.

Besides, could it be that Americans are beginning to see an ancient principle at work?

The Law of Nemesis turns pride and hubris inside-out, into some form of destruction. Sometimes this occurs by flaunting a parody of one’s enemies against us, other times by turning ourselves into parodies of our own values.

Bush Era hubris brought the empty and ludicrous sanctimony of the Obama years, while the selection of the ultra-corrupt Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party’s standard bearer fed fuel to the rise of Trump. Part of the comedy here is that Hillary is thought of as a feminist, but she was cruel and unjust in persecuting her husband’s lovers and victims, so a parody of Bill Clinton became her conqueror. And Trump’s most infamous sexual indiscretion? That was his boast how women would fall over themselves for a rich and powerful man, even going so far to allow such men to “grab them by the pussy.” So what do Democrats now promote? A man accused of literally grabbing her accuser by the pussy, but against her will, not, as Trump said, by permission. This is almost a parody of the basic philosophies of right and left: the right produces and entices, the left steals.

All quite hilarious. I laugh at Americans every day. Sometimes I laugh at Trump, but more often I laugh at his enemies. Ridiculous is our descent into madness!

And why?

In times past I would have given reasons out of sociology and political economy — the Thomas Theorem, the Tragedy of the Commons, etc. — but now I suggest we wonder if the gods may not be jesting, playing with us. “The Progressives have had their century, and are a proud tower of folly; now we shall inflict their fall, as we take away their power, dignity, and reason for being.”

Why the love/hate? Because the participants are too entrenched in their own fates, unable to see the principles at work.

Take a step back and laugh with the gods.

twv (5/13/20)

Do you favor libertarian separatism?

I have written about this on my blog. I will summarize.

I support putting the general government of these United States under receivership. I think all the states should secede from the union and form several smaller unions, and those unions, or the departed states, should appoint the Receiver to liquidate the assets of the U.S.A., bring home from abroad all the military and divvy it up, with close attention to major contractors of the military-industrial complex, and pay off what debts can be managed without creating a worse situation than before.

I do not think there is any other way of restoring balance to our political-legal system. Culturally, financially, militarily, monetarily, the United States is a mess.

I liked the idea of the Constitution, I confess. Federalism — as conceived by the true federalists, called “anti-federalists” — is a pretty good idea. But it was a dead letter on accession in the early 1790s, and quickly became a mercantilist national state. The nationalism grew and grew, and morphed into a new form of imperialism.

I oppose nearly everything the United States have become.

So, this all assumes the persistence of large states. It also assumes that we might be able to make an orderly reorganization. This latter is a long shot. But barring this sort of thing, I foresee major chaos, and probably a triumph of totalitarian controls. Our nation of serviles is pushing for that now. Ugh.

What should libertarians do? I do not know. In a time of chaos it might be good to have a sovereign state with a concentrated population of libertarians. But if the totalitarianism comes, then they sure would be easy to round up.

Obviously, I support secession and voluntary, peaceable assembly. But the cult of the total state is getting ugly. And the cult’s acolytes are whipping themselves into a bloodletting frenzy. I know many leftists right now who would be glad to see me carted off to a prison camp.

The biggest problem? There are just so few libertarians. Congregating in one area will mean a slight increase in influence in that area, sure, but also would entail few per cultural checks in the regions abandoned.

If we have time, and if the Q Anon folks are wrong about what is really going on, a slow migration to specific regions might make sense. Perhaps to encourage the idea of restructuring by secession we should encourage the partitioning of a half dozen or so states. New York’s boroughs should be separated from the rest of New York; Chicago’s Cook Country should become a separate state; California needs to split into many pieces, with LA County being itself a separate state, and the much requested “Jefferson” created out of the north of the state snd southern Oregon; eastern Oregon and eastern Washington should become a new state of Adams; King Country, Wsshington, and the counties directly north, should become a separate state as well. The point of all this is to wrest power away from ruling cliques and make manageable states that could actually sport something close to founding era ideas of representation.

I think libertarians would have a better chance to influence politics for the better in any of the more rural new states: Jefferson, Adams, new Illinois, greater New York, etc.

But libertarians would be spread pretty thin. I fear that what will happen will be chaotic, tyrannical, and a horror. Pushing secession as a solution to problems might save the country, though, and, if not, allow for future formal bankruptcy proceedings, as I suggest up top.

I of course think all peaceful people should separate themselves from criminals, if they can. And the biggest criminal is the total state.

twv (5/13/20)

Foreword to the LFB edition of David Hume, Of the Original Contract
(rel. 3/3/2016)
. This ebook edition is, as of mid-February 2020, still available on Apple’s ebook platform: search for “Timothy Wirkman Virkkala” + Hume + “Of the Original Contract.”

Society runs, to some extent, on myths. 

The word “myth” derives from the Latin word mythus, which itself derived from a Greek word, muthos. It usually refers to origin stories, especially those traditional legends that help shore up a people’s beliefs about their place in the world. Because other folks’ origin stories strike us as fanciful nonsense, a secondary meaning grew up: “a widely held but false belief.” A word of caution here, though: because something serves as a myth, or even appears fantastic, does not mean it is untrue. There can exist, as theologian C. S. Lewis argued, “true myths.”

When it comes to politics, all these usages are relevant. There are myths and there are myths. We are united by the stories we share; we are divided by stories some dismiss as whoppers while others hold sacrosanct. And here is where careful thought must begin; as philosopher Karl Popper put it, “science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths.”

David Hume (1711-1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist who may be seen as one of the first of the great myth-busters. In his writings on politics, Hume confronted myths head on, testing them on several levels of analysis. No better example of this can be found than in the present essay, “Of the Original Contract,” originally published in 1748.

In his day, two factions dominated politics, Tory and Whig. In the previous century, a monarch had been deposed and then, after an experiment without the monarchy (including a time without a legislature), the monarchy was restored. In an earlier essay on Britain’s political parties, Hume characterized both parties as demonstrating a love of liberty, adding that the Tories loved the monarchy even more than liberty, and that they tended (as before the Revolution of 1688) to emphasize the general principle of passive obedience to the monarch. Whigs, on the other hand, “without renouncing monarchy,” would be more “apt to think that every part of the government ought to be subordinate to the interests of liberty.” 

And yet Hume recognized that distinctions between the two, between “the parties of court and country,” were muddied by other factors. No conceptual scheme could be neat and tidy. We are familiar with such problems today, especially those that complicate the persistent one-dimensional directional metaphor of political ideology common since the French Revolution, between “right” and “left.”

Both parties had their myths, both of which Hume regarded as somewhat awkward and ill built. 

By attributing government to God, Tories tended to render government “so sacred and inviolate, that it must be little less than sacrilege, however tyrannical it may become, to touch or invade it, in the smallest article.” The Whigs, on the other hand, saw government as founded upon a social contract, from which they drew the conclusion that “the subjects have tacitly reserved the power of resisting their sovereign, whenever they find themselves aggrieved by that authority, with which they have, for certain purposes, voluntarily entrusted him.”

For Hume, both systems possessed merit, but not the merit each attributed to itself. Further, he argues that both parties demonstrated prudent practical consequences — but not at their extremes.

Thus David Hume positions himself as a political moderate.

He spends little time on the Tory myths, however. He notes, simply, that the workings of God to establish government must be seen as providential, behind-the-scenes in some way — “not by any particular or miraculous interposition” — and that, therefore, no sovereign could claim anything like a vice-regency, as God’s stand-in. Unfortunately, Hume does not stop there, and the several sentences that follow are themselves worthy of the kind of attention he reserves, in the rest of the essay, for the Whig theory of the social contract. (Most likely, Hume’s secret status as an apostate led him to refrain from extended public analysis of the workings of a Being whose existence he himself doubted.)

Hume initially addresses the Whig idea of government as resting upon the consent of the governed — an idea stated with classic clarity in the previous century by British philosopher John Locke — with a sort of cautious acceptance. Locke had taken Hobbes’s notion of life of man “in a state of nature” and upgraded it. Whereas Hobbes saw life without government as necessarily one of conflict, and, therefore, as “nasty, brutish, and short,” Locke, with some claim to realism, saw pre-political social life as more or less harmonious and co-operative, but subject to certain “inconveniences” that led to the establishment of government. Hume, in turn, went part way in Locke’s direction. He even begins with a kind of state-of-nature theory, imagining a pre-institutional setting for humanity, judging man’s “natural force” — power of muscle and brain — as nearly equal, meaning that any subordination of many to a few as requiring consent.

But he doesn’t let this analysis go on for long without qualification. Hume does not see the consent of a people to a chieftain, for example, as explicit. Instead, it is a kind of accommodation: with small instances of acceptance of superiority giving rise, gradually, to a “habitual, and, if you please to call it so, a voluntary, and therefore precarious, acquiescence in the people.”

We now know, from investigation into our animal cousins in wolf packs and ape troops, that the establishment of hierarchies in the simplest societies is often a matter of contest, the play of aggression and counter-aggression. The acquiescence of females (on the one hand) and beta and gamma males (on the other) to the dominant, alpha male does not nearly so closely resemble explicit contracts, and is not anywhere near so civilized as admitted even by Hume.

This amendment to Hume’s analysis only strengthens his main point. There is scant evidence, he argues, for any government to be founded by contract: “we find, every where, princes, who claim their subjects as their property, and assert their independent right of sovereignty, from conquest or succession.”

Not only is there no evidence for a historical “social contract,” original and binding on everyone, but the bulk of humanity seems to accept government as binding even though aggression is at the basis of governments they encounter, and grow up in.

So, why do the many acquiesce to the dominance of the few, particularly those in government? Elsewhere, Hume established this as the basic puzzle: “Nothing appears more surprizing to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.” Since there are always many more subjects than rulers, he reasoned that it must be opinion — not force — that effects this great accommodation that allows for dominance by the few. Popular opinion. In the present essay he identifies, but does not concisely name, a driving factor of opinion: fear. Hume argues that the specter of “a total dissolution of government” is the most terrible of all events, and that people prefer the dominance of the few to the liberty of the multitude.

The observation is undoubtedly correct. People tend not to trust each other very far, absent some force to restrain their rapacity. This likely derives not merely from observation of others, but also from history and rumor and fiction, as well as from introspection — not all of it reliable — about fantasies of dominance and criminality and bloodlust and revenge. It is easy to abstract from one’s own darkest thoughts and impute them to others. And it is not entirely irrational.

Yet the possibility that human beings can co-operate without aggression is not lost on Hume. He admits that contracts are ideal. He even admits that contract is “one just foundation of government.” But there are other foundations, which have pertained more often than not.

All through Hume’s essay there exists an interesting tension, one that the reader may be cued by other writings of the author to notice: between fact and value. The value of a government somehow confined to contract — to defending a society based on contracts, criminalizing and opposing duress and aggression and fraud — is not lost on our skeptical Scotsman. But the history of government loomed over all else, for him, as a matter of fact. There could be no doubt: governments traditionally have been agents of aggression and counter-aggression — duress that in a court of law would spoil the authority of any defendable contract by private parties. 

We can accept this as a fact — and all the particular facts that Hume parades before us. But he may have missed something. The social function of the myth of the original contract may have been mainly to elicit attention to perfecting government in the direction of contracts, of restraining rapacity in government, of tying it down to justice seen as requiring contract and not domination through coercion. Could it be that it is not as a fact that we should approach the idea of an “original contract”?

Hume himself most ably articulated the distinction between fact and value— that is, between is and ought — in his Treatise of Human Nature

In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, ’tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.

In this famous passage, Hume cautioned that, by not attending to this distinction, philosophers get caught up in “vulgar” errors. The literature on this observation — which has been dubbed “Hume’s Guillotine” (clever) and “Hume’s Law” (yawn) — has become vast. Philosophers have designated the rhetorical move from is to ought as “the Naturalistic fallacy,” for example.

Another way of looking at “Of the Original Contract” is to consider another offshoot of Hume’s Law, the “Moralistic fallacy.” For too many people, ought influences their notions of is. Things “should” be this way or that, and so they pretend that they are that way or this, the better to bolster their prejudices. One can commonly observe this, today, in the intersection of political morality and biology. For instance, it is a characteristic dogma of our age that people “are equal,” in some very literal sense, not the very narrow and artful sense that Whigs in Hume’s day meant. So our contemporaries, believing that people should be “treated as equals” or “possess equal wealth,” can often be witnessed resisting scientific findings about the inherent genetic differences among not only individuals and groups. (We, today, are perhaps over-sensitive about matters relating to “race” and ethnic groupings, because these groupings have had so much to do with conflict in the past.) Thus they let their moral ideas utterly rule their appraisal of the facts. We may call this the Ought-Is Hegemony, but “Moralistic fallacy” does nicely.

The Moralistic fallacy could be at play in the notion of a historic social contract. Its theorists have valued contracts highly. The peace and co-operation demonstrated by a society made mostly of contracts? More than merely charming. Our contractual dealings have an order and friendliness and mutuality about them that our political and legal dealings do not. The accumulation of mutual advantages through such exchanges seems the very source of progress.  

But that provides no valid reason to pretend that, once upon a time, government was founded on contract, and therefore can be re-made because of the obligations of that contract. That is a fallacy.

Hume was right. 

But, as mentioned, his more general conclusion is almost certainly too rash. The Whig notion of a social contract may be fictional, but that does not mean that the values for which radical Whigs concocted to bolster their story could not be valid.

Hume’s prophecy, at the end of his essay, has certainly been shown to be unfounded: “New discoveries are not to be expected in these matters.” Explorations of the possibility of voluntary contracts to subsume even government have not only yielded new discoveries, they’ve engendered whole new disciplines, such as constitutional economics (a part of Public Choice theory). There may be even more than mere interest, but hope, in further work in this area. 

Regardless, Hume’s influence on later liberal (“Whig”) thought can be seen in the fact that most of the leading liberal thinkers in the centuries immediately following Hume’s critique abandoned the notion he attacked. For Henry David Thoreau, Herbert Spencer, and Gustave de Molinari — to name just three — a progress in chaining the institutions we think of as “political government” to exacting, duress-free contracts provides the key to civilization’s advance. 

That the world’s governments have not yet discovered this may be seen as tragic or as comic. Readers of Hume’s essay will likely guess, as I do, that Hume would have seen this stunted progress as in keeping with the usual course of history, government authority resting, as it has so far, on popular acceptance of coercion, aggression, and hierarchical power.

Timothy Wirkman Virkkala*
January 2016

BIOGRAPHY: David Hume (1711-1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist whose influence on modern thought has been vast. He wrote a popular multi-volume history of England, but is best known, today, for his philosophic work, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) and two inquiries, one on morals (1751) and the other on human understanding (1748). Several of his short treatises on economics have been republished by Laissez Faire Books, with forewords by Pierre Lemieux and Timothy Wirkman Virkkala.

A few days ago I heard but had not bothered to confirm that only Chinese people were being killed by the coronavirus. Being a science fiction reader living in our stefnal age, my first thought was pretty obvious — and straight out of Heinlein: biowarfare.

And it is not as if biowarfare had not been rumored, for weeks now.

Yesterday, Scott Adams (on his Periscope vlog) drew out this line of conjecture explicitly, speculating on who might wish to kill millions, perhaps billions, of Chinese people, using bioweaponry, and why:

Scott Adams’s talk is important for several reasons. . . .

First, he figures the probability on the bioweapon angle as very low. One reason that he gives for a low probability rests on the commonplace that is coincidence. He says it is likely “just a coincidence” that an outbreak would occur near a viral research/bioweapons research laboratory. I suspect it is not. Near a bio-research laboratory is where you would expect accidental leaks to happen. Where viruses are bred, studied and stored is where they might break out into the general population. Since in research even non-weaponized viruses are studied, any could break out of the confines.

We do not need to go to conspiracy, though conspiracy is also a possibility — we’ve all read Greg Bear’s Blood Music, right?

So I would not relegate a non-conspiratorial outbreak of a contagion near a research facility as being just an example of a conspiracy. I would not even say it is more likely to be mere coincidence.

But also, were I a murderous conspirator unleashing a weaponized virus, I would also likely wish to let it out near someone else’s biolab, merely to confuse the targeted population.

Second, Adams goes through a Likely Suspect list, and he does a pretty good job. Yet he gets one thing very wrong, I think. He dismisses the idea that the U.S. could be a likely bioweaponry/genocide suspect. I do not dismiss the idea. “Our” Deep State is extremely rogue, and would do anything to maintain its advantage. China is horning in on a very important space-oriented arms race, and the Deep State might stop at nothing to nip that in the bud. Killing thousands or millions? Well, sure: look up Operation Northwoods. Deeply embedded statists could probably cook up a plausible, half-earnest rationale to justify almost any enormity.

They have in the past.

Third, “goodness” — Scott runs through possible justifications of biowarfare to test the possibility of warfare, using the “Never Again” mantra as the hook upon which he hangs his hat. He says that many, many people — including himself — would, if given the opportunity, use genocide to retaliate for someone else’s program of genocide . . . as well as to prevent further genocide. Yikes. Does he not see the trap here?

This reasoning rests upon the idea of democracy — a very low-level democracy, admittedly, since China isn’t one. As both Étienne de La Boétie and David Hume observed, the number of people who actually govern are smaller than the ranks of the governed, so even tyrannical government rests upon a kind of consent of the governed — an accommodation to governance, let’s say. And since the masses let their governments do outrageous things, they are, themselves, morally responsible. And if the crimes committed by the governors are worthy of the death penalty, then the people themselves are worthy of same.

People should carefully contemplate this line of thought. Adams’s speculations in the moral realm do more than suggest a justification of all kinds of horror on the dubious basis of preventing other outrageous moral horrors. Further, Adams’s line of reasoning is the common line of reasoning on such matters, and it completely demolishes our umbrage taken at terrorists and mass murderers. It is a prescription for never-ending war, dominance, and mass slaughter.

Everyone should pull the strings on his speculation, here.

To unravel the argument.

Fourth, take a breath. What he is talking about is something he breezes right through: mass murder as an apt revenge for other mass murder. But it is indeed more than that. His logic could also “morally justify” preëmptive mass murder.

Now, I’m not saying that he is not ably reflecting common-sense statism. Indeed, that is the reason his speculations are important. They are how humans often think and judge. But I am saying he perhaps (and without intending it) provides an apocalypse of statism itself — a revelation of its core character, its quiddity.

A robust common sense would have to reject statism to remain sane.

Thankfully, the odds for the Coronavirus As Bioweapon are likely as Scott Adams puts them: very unlikely. But we should consider the outside chance. And, alas, he appears to be correct: no fact we now possess falsifies a bioweapon possibility.

twv

President of RedEye

I am very curious what “deal” the Trump team will offer to North Korea — or what the team will negotiate Kim’s emissaries into bringing back to the dictator.

Aren’t you?

I’m hoping that John Bolton was taken on not as a real plotter of foreign policy, but as a threat, to get better terms. Bolton’s idea to apply the “Libya plan” to North Korea seems sheer idiocy to me . . . on the face of it.

Why? Well, Dictator Kim wants to survive. If he gives up on all attempts to obtain (and threaten to deploy) nuclear weapons, he would eventually go the way of Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi: killed by the United States military or by U.S.-backed forces.

Kim would be crazy to take the deal. Lunatic. MAD. If Bolton is pushing it earnestly, he’s an idiot. But if Trump is using him as “bad cop” in a good cop/bad cop routine, that might work.

Is there a badder cop in America than John Bolton?

I know what I would offer Kim: make him a king.

That is, make Kim king . . . or de facto king, but under a constitutional monarchy where his powers would be limited to two: ceremonial and Defender of the Realm — that is, head of the military. Give him a tax base and let North Korea be as free as such a thing could be.

There might have to be another word for “king,” I suppose. But the idea of a dual executive is very old. The Khazar empire was run by two figures, the Khagan and the Bek. The latter was in charge of the military. Normally one might offer Kim merely a figurehead role, but I don’t think he’d take that. He needs to be i n control of something.

Arguably, the United States should move to a dual executive, one selected by the people (or, better yet, the Electoral College as is) and the other selected by sortition from a limited pool of applicants pushed by the states (or some such).

In any case, Kim needs to be made an offer that would secure his life and some aspect of his prestige. Not because he deserves it, but because no real change can happen without doing so.

One does not need to be enthusiastic about such an offer, just reasonable.

Do you have a better idea? Am I crazy?

twv
Image credit: Bosch Fawstin’s great icon for Greg Gutfeld’s crowning John Bolton as “President” of his old Red Eye show. Note: Fawstin likes and admires Bolton, and will no doubt be really annoyed with what I have written above. Sorry, Mr. Fawstin — you are a great “illustwriter,” sure, but we disagree about a number of things. Reader — look over Fawstin’s work. He is very talented.

 

Categories Diplomacy, Politics, tyranny