If communism is so bad, then how come the USSR was able to increase industry to match or beat that of the Western powers?

…excerpted from an answer on Quora….

We might want to distinguish ‘communism’ from ‘Communism.’ That latter is sort of trade-marked (‘“anti-trade” marked’?) by the political implementers of the Marxian paradigm.

Karl Marx, you may remember, prophesied a classless, stateless future of communism, share and share alike, and all that. He was quite vague on how it would work out. But he did think the capitalists first had to be expropriated by the workers, and the economy run by ‘a dictatorship of the proletariat.’ This gave the Bolsheviks and their later imitators an excuse to set up state socialism, where the Communist Party runs the unitary state which in turn runs everything else. It is ‘communist’ only by an association of ideas and by tradition. But no utopian-minded communist in her right mind wanted that.

Besides, as others have noted, a moneyless industrial society didn’t work. So the Bolsheviks quickly backpedaled, adding markets back in under the New Economic Policy. As Michael Polanyi and others have shown, the Soviet Union engaged in a lot of fakery to make their central planning seem to work.

Ludwig von Mises explained why it couldn’t work. Capitalism is mass production for the masses. Market societies use dispersed knowledge gleaned especially from private markets in production goods and the firms that make up the productive sector to distribute resources to their most valued uses. Without private property and real market signals, socialists find themselves in a sea of arbitrary decisions, without guide. The Soviets never succeeded much in mass production for the masses, but by hook and crook and a rigid class system, the USSR succeeded in making hydrogen bombs and rockets for a pretty good space program (it helped that they were willing to risk cosmonauts’ lives to an extent NASA never found acceptable). But that isn’t mass production for mass consumption, it is mass production for Big Projects, which we know the ancients mastered in the megalithic period. Pyramids and all.

Slavery and the organization of a religiously oriented (ideologically controlled) servile population can indeed do amazing things. But not beat capitalism at its own game.

So, what of communism? The communal production of a limited set of goods for common needs can work in small groups. That this manner of economic organization produces a great abundance of consumer goods or can be carried on in an egalitarian fashion are fantasies of romantics who cannot think very well. Human being run up against calculation problems, as Mises explained, as well as the Dunbar number, and similar problems.

Few tribes actually engaged in communism for all goods produced. Individual and family property was a commonplace throughout the primitive world. But some things were done communally. But in societies more complex than mere tribes, some method of organization had to develop, and these included honor standards, allowing the adulation of Big Men — chiefs — whose vigor, intelligence, and social skills allowed for elaborate hierarchies to expand economies out of rudimentary forms. Some of the most successful of these chiefdoms became conquerors, and found ways to grift off of sedentary populations, after conquest, and civilization with their states were born.

In all the upward progress and sideways motions of societies and their histories, communism haunted the imaginations of poets and sages and shamans and priests, probably for reasons that psychologists have theorized: as lingering dreams expanding on the yearning of strapped adults for their lost childhoods, when benevolent parents and other adults provided all and made everything work like magic.

Communism of that sort is a dream and a yearning, and deserves, in most cases, little more than eye rolls.

Communism of the Soviet variety deserves a finger on the trigger, for Communists lie about what they are doing, and the contradictions of their own ideas mean they are always one small step away from mass murder.

twv

I remember the first time a Christian friend belittled reason in my presence. I was actually a bit shocked, just as I was a bit shocked the first time I heard my pious mother tell me that one of my friend’s books should be burned.

I shouldn’t have been at all surprised, of course. I had read church history as a teenager; indeed, the pastor of the church my family “attended” (that is itself an un-Christian way of putting it) had encouraged me to read his Bible College history of the Christian religion, and that may have been a bad move on his part: what I took away from the reading was a long, sad parade of censorship, persecution, torture and death. It was quite a bracing history, to say the least.

I am trying to remember exactly what my Christian friend said about reason — something like it was fallible and limited and “just a human perspective” and blah blah blah. But I do remember the book my mother thought merited fire: Job Opportunities on the Black Market, by Burgess Laughlin.

I wonder what she would have said about the book I had read not long before that fateful conversation, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, by Walter Kaufmann.

Christian conservatives still ply these notions. And while slighting reason and yearning to censor may be foreign to my way of thinking, it is on the resurgence. Lee Waaks invited Robert Tracinski to talk about this on the latest episode of my LocoFoco Netcast:

LocoFoco Netcast #10: Saturday, May 23, 2020.

You can listen and comment on the audio version at LocoFoco.net, or subscribe via Apple and Google podcast services, or Spotify:

LocoFoco.net is the easy way to get to the podcast hosting site.

N.B. I reloaded the SoundCloud file to get rid of an editorial mistake, and will upload a new video file soon. (5/23/2020 10:46 PM PDST)

Caricature by Andre Gill.

We must not confound liberty with anarchy. Liberty is the reciprocal respect for personal rights, according to certain fixed rules known by the name of law. Anarchy is the privilege of some and the spoliation of others, according to the caprices and arbitrary will of the cunning and the violent, and the feebleness and lack of energy of the timorous.

Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism, 1894 (h/t Common Sense with Paul Jacob).

Remember when we used to call journalists “news hounds”?

Atavistic, now — a throwback to a bygone era, when investigative reporters caught a whiff of a story and rooted it out. There was a sort of gritty glamor to that style of journalism. Remember The Front Page? Five Star Final? His Girl Friday?

The aptness of the “hound” metaphor derived from the professional use of dogs to find criminals and missing children.

But today’s TV, online and pulp purveyors of fake news are not exactly known for their sniffing-the-story canniness. 

Maybe we could find some wild variety of the canine for an epithet.

Wolf? Journalists run in packs, and are vicious. Just like Canis lupus?

But wolves seem the noblest of canines.

Fox? Are today’s journalists clever enough to warrant that comparison? Hardly, though Vulpes vulpes is the Red fox, and many of today’s journalists lean far left, and red used to be the color of communism, socialism, and the like.

But most corporate news journalists turn out to be very establishmentarian. Hardly fox-worthy.*

Coyote? Now we are getting closer. The late-night yips and falsetto howls of Canis latrans do suggest the sort of onscreen frenzy we see among the fake news mavens.

But drop the canine comparison. “Hyenas are commonly viewed as frightening and worthy of contempt,” explains Wikipedia. “In some cultures, hyenas are thought to influence people’s spirits, rob graves, and steal livestock and children. Other cultures associate them with witchcraft. . . .”

And the several major species offers much by way of comparison: the insectivore Aardwolf; the paradigmatic scavenger, the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena); and the infamous laughing hyena (Crocuta crocuta), which can be quite dangerous.

Apt? Apter? Aptest?


* “If you lie always in service to the left, you might be a Red. But if you lie mainly to serve your masters in the Deep State, what does that make you?”

Jean-Paul Sartre defined history as “that long road that led to me.” But, let’s talk “existential threat” — not the solipsism of an existentialist. What specific history led to the current debacle of the lockdowns?

That it is a debacle is becoming all-too-clear. As I’ve explained, here and on the LocoFoco Netcast: “It’s the productivity, stupid!”

But how did we get here?

How did we get to the place that we allow governments to just shut everything down based on a virus scare?

Well, part of it is: accept a real scary prediction and over-react. The prediction was wrong. It came from a serial prophet of doom — one who had to resign from his government post because he twice broke the quarantine/lockdown order he had publicly suggested and defended. This Neal Ferguson character was off by orders of magnitude in past predictions, and this time was hardly any better. Where he had numbered COVID-19 deaths in the millions, what has come to pass, so far, number in the thousands. And, it turns out, so far not even as bad as a normal flu among the healthy population. It’s a nasty killer mainly among the very old and the immune-compromised. Still, this is NOTHING LIKE the Spanish Flu.

But what drives the mania for lockdown overkill? I’ve argued that progressives love it for a rather simple reason: it conforms to their values, it “fits”: the lockdown overkill “feeds their prime conceit, the notion that the freedom of all must be sacrificed for the good of the most vulnerable.”

But why would non-progressives fall for it? Out of a willingness to obey? Merely out of fear? Paul Jacob offers a more sophisticated theory (citing my line, nicely):

Shutting down capitalism almost worldwide may prove to be grandest disaster of all time. Folks on the margin of poverty in poor countries are already starving. Though scads of people seem to think we could ride out a lockdown indefinitely just by cashing government checks, the problem is that if we don’t produce, we cannot buy and consume products.  
It’s not about money, or profits as such. “It’s the productivity, stupid!” 
Elon Musk put it this way: “If you don’t make stuff, there’s no stuff.” 
A “universal basic income” won’t help if the re-distributed money chases few-to-no goods.
So how did we come to believe that we can just shut down most business activity and still survive?
Maybe the idea seems plausible because many people already do not work to survive. As their numbers have increased, our civilization has forgotten that they survive upon the work of others. 
We guffaw at young children who, when their parents say something they want is too expensive, they innocently respond, ‘well, just go to the cash machine!’ But the more people rely upon checks and bank deposits from the government — for any reason — the harder it is to remember that the power to buy stuff doesn’t ultimately come from government. With taxation, redistribution and inflation thrown into the mix, even adults think of government as Cash Machine. 
And the Cash Machine as a model for the economy.
To fight a virus, the world has shut down production — as if we do not survive by producing goods in order to consume them.
Government has reduced capitalism — and us — to absurdity.

Paul Jacob, “Cash Machine Cachet” (Common Sense with Paul Jacob, May 18, 2020).

The theory here is akin to “the money illusion,” where normal people tend to confuse the nominal prices of goods over time with “real prices,” not understanding that money changes value over time. (Or, as Irving Fisher put it, ‘We simply take it for granted that “a dollar is a dollar”—that “a franc is a franc,” that all money is stable, just as centuries ago, before Copernicus, people took it for granted that this earth was stationary, that there was really such a fact as a sunrise or a sunset. We know now that sunrise and sunset are illusions produced by the rotation of the earth around its axis, and yet we still speak of, and even think of, the sun as rising and setting!’) But here the illusion is that since money buys goods, and we get money from the government, government supplies goods!

There are many illusions like this in society. (The most notorious I call the Beneficiary Focus Illusion.) And this one strikes me as close to Karl Marx’s Alienation Theory, but works like this: whereas under barter producers are buyers and buyers are producers, under a money economy the buying is separated from the producing-and-bringing-to-market — by the monetary mechanism itself. Thus human beings do become alienated from their productive activities, so separated are they from their consuming activities. That is, buying and selling become radically different activities. And the Economic Man of a commercial society is not One Who Exchanges, but two different people: One Who Produces and Sells, on the one hand, and One Who Buys, on the other. The more these two are separated, or compartmentalized, Paul Jacob argues, the easier it is to forget that production is key to consumption. What’s key to consumption is money, and the government can give us that.

No need to work. Bob Black’s wet dream!

But this alienation — an “economic contradiction,” in Proudhon’s phrasing — has not led to a communist utopia or to an anarchical mutualism. It has led to masses of people accepting an end to production as a solution to a viral menace, with living off of government checks and direct deposits as “enough” economically to tide us through the downtime.

Yes, this is an absurdity.

But this one isn’t a funny absurdity.

Unless we die laughing?


Tarl Warwick has just come out with a video explaining how idiotic a lockdown society is:

Quotation from Irving Fisher, above, is from The Money Illusion (1927).

There seems to exist an institutional ban on certain ideas and areas of inquiry. Dominant paradigms — perhaps guarded by folks with ready access to tax dollars as well as established patterns of prestige — do not allow investigation into competing paradigms.

Of course, there is a lot of competition in ideas. Paradigms shift. But only by so much. Outside a prescribed (or intuited) band of acceptable dissent, the paradigm enforcers brook no denials, no expansions of knowledge, no uncomfortable conjectures.

Here we see one. A man gives a talk at a TEDx event. It is filled with scientific findings, and recounts his “pulling at a thread” (as Walter Bosley likes to put it) that unravels from the stories of our past that are approved by academic historians, paleontologists, geologists, et al. It is a fairly popular talk. But the higher-ups at TED flag it as “unscientific.”

Screen capture from YouTube: see, especially, the official “TED” note.

I have watched a lot of goofy TED talks. The idea that this talk is less acceptable than many of the moralistic, inspiring, weird, and downright bizarre talks on the main TED platform is preposterous. 

So. What is wrong with this TEDx talk?

It is too easy to see. It explores the idea of past catastrophes and of lost ancient civilizations. This is verboten in the academic world.

It may be that folks at TED are scared. They need the cooperation of academics, and academic schools of thought are maintained with a chillingly cold grip, strangling dissent within their ranks and consigning to complete and utter disregard those who persist in the shunned speculations and scientific work.

Read the “NOTE FROM TED,” above, an image of the YouTube page that addresses the flagging of the video in question. Read it. But better yet, watch the video:

Is this really beyond the pale?

twv

Lockdowns in the first world will cause deaths because of untreated disease, and will lead to suicide and madness and violence. Depending on how long this crushing of capitalism goes on, we could see starvation here in America and Britain and the rest of the first world.

But it is leading, quickly, to the death of marginal peoples elsewhere, around the world, people on the edge of poverty who have no stocks of food in their pantries and whose lesser-developed countries have less supply warehoused and in the supply chains.

Millions of people.

Dead.

Starved and suffering.

Brown people, mostly.

The lockdown is now strongly ideologically aligned, with progressives being generally gung ho for shutting down all or most commerce. This will make progressives’ guilt in pushing the debacle of Prohibition seem like a baby fart in a hurricane.

Supporting lockdowns will in the future be seen as akin to genocide.

Consider this a ‘pro tip.’ Repent now and save yourself guilt later.

There is a reason for the ideological divide regarding pandemic “mitigation,” why progressives generally love the lockdown pseudo-quarantines: it feeds their prime conceit, the notion that the freedom of all must be sacrificed for the good of the most vulnerable.

In this case, the most vulnerable just happen to be aging Boomers and senescent Silents. And the corpulent. And other immune-compromised medical cases.

Having once been corpulent, and still being overweight, and having just entered my seventh decade of life, I knew early on that I was in a compromised position. But shutting down commerce to protect me is something that would never have crossed my mind.

The idea of demanding extreme mitigation strikes me as effrontery bordering on tyranny.

But progressives have no such compunctions. They hold to the principle of sacrificing the freedom of all for the lives of a few. That is their chief fixation. Because some people are vulnerable to misfortune, no one must be free to make their fortunes.

Traditionally, Americans see the political ideal as “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Progressives see this series in a different order: “Life, a stab at happiness, and liberty.” In cases where there is any conflict of the goals in this series, you sacrifice them by order.

That is, you first achieve life — and that’s life for everyone. Then you guarantee a chance at happiness for everyone, equally. Then, if the situation allows, you obtain what liberty you can for as many people as you can.

This revision of the order of ends, conceived ordinally rather than as many classical liberals and libertarians do, as a rhetorical pleonasm — three different views of the same thing, as Hokusai viewed Mount Fuji — is a key to understanding the progressive mind.

But we must add to this the messianic mindset: for progressives, as for most socialists, the “vulnerable” are seen as outsiders, as members of some out-group, and successful insiders are by definition or imaginative fiat their oppressors. That is, successful insiders, merely for not ensuring the success of those on the outs therefore must count as “oppressors.”

So the “privilege” of being an insider must be destroyed . . . or at least minimized — to rescue the un-privileged outsiders.

In America, the “privilege” of Americans is liberty, security, wealth, even health.

Progressives cannot help themselves: they must do their rescue. They must play messiahs. Their soteriology is always in play, and they are willing to conjure up revolutionary eschatologies to ensure the ritual acts of sacrifice. Well, strike “ritual.” VERY REAL acts of sacrifice: take from some to give to others.

Now, for individualists, sacrificing some for others is a perversion, the most horrifying social act imaginable — we would call it the ultimate anti-social act. But progressives see sacrifice as the whole point. These people are post-Christians. No act of salvation is worth it without sacrifice. Not sacrifice of opportunities forgone to invest in improvements. Not that kind of sacrifice. They need to sacrifice some powerful and privileged (as imaginary as that power and privilege often is) people to make the whole thing feel right.

But whereas Christians believe that the only sacrifice worth fretting much about be Christ’s sacrifice for their sins, working out their own sacrifices with fear and trembling away from the madding crowd, progressives must do their sacrificing in public.

Progressivism is inherently Pharisaic.

Which is why they tend to be such “Karens” regarding mitigation and quarantine. The joy is in seeing themselves as righteous in public, and for that there must be an identifiable group to be saved, and an identifiable group to sacrifice.

But we can take this post-Christian interpretation too far. There is something quite chthonian in progressive soteriology. We may have to look back to Ba’al and Beelzebub to understand the kind of sacrifice they demand.

How far back? Let me consider that in some future essay.

…a comment on Quora….

Lots of people react negatively to Economics. It has been called the Dismal Science because (a) calling it a science is stretching things, and (b) it keeps telling people true things which they don’t want to hear. However, merely disliking a statement is not sufficient evidence that it is false. Concocting far-fetched theories of second and third order effects that will rescue minimum wage laws from their perverse consequences is not science at all, it is motivated reasoning and confirmation bias.

Matthew Park Moore, Quora, answering the question: “My teacher claims that if restaurant owners raise food prices when the minimum wage increases, they’re doing it because they’re greedy, not because of the minimum wage increasing. Is he right or wrong?

I too am amused when people concoct bizarre defenses of minimum wage legislation. It is obvious that they like the policy because it makes them feel good. They dislike economics because it undermines their cheap method of feeling good.

This was a subject I studied 40 years ago. I was initially a bit surprised to learn that there existed economists who denied that the legislation generally benefited the poor. So I studied it. What interests me about people who get defensive is that they do not appear to be earnestly trying to better the poor, but to defend their position. I earnestly studied wage theory; they reflexively try to “debunk” a critique.

And as for “far-fetched theories of second and third order effects” — well, that is what economics looks like to non-economists. They see only what the words direct them to see — “minimum wage law” — and they think that is what the regulation does, increase wages. I mean, come on! It’s in the name!!! Are you an idiot!!!!!

But what we have to remind them of is TWO things, not ONE.

First, minimum wage legislation does not raise anyone’s wage. It is a prohibition to hire anyone below a certain rate of remuneration. It is actually, in its very transactional nature, a prohibition of wages, not a raising of wages.

THEN we go second- and third-order effects to show what the results of the prohibition are. The actual results. This gets into incentives and competition for scarce resources and equilibrium and much more. This can be done well or badly. Done well, it shows that the general effect of minimum wage legislation is to disemploy some low-skilled workers now or in the future, depending on the rate.

Further, it is worth noting that a regulation of this order — an intervention by force into the market for higher-order economic goods — can have two effects: decrease production, or nothing.

That “nothing,” as Bastiat explained, is there because often regulations of market rates establish a rate that does not actually apply. And, indeed, in the case of minimum wage regulation, it affects a surprisingly small number of workers in America. Most people get paid higher. But there is a sad truth lurking here: it would affect more but the people it would affect are not even counted as in the labor market any longer.

A friend of mine had a very clever defense of legislated wage minima: a person no longer able to find a job at the value of his marginal product would be encouraged to increase his skills, perhaps by extending his education. The problem here is worth thinking about:

  1. The prime way of increasing one’s marginal product by skill acquisition is by working.
  2. For most people at the bottom of the “economic ladder,” the most important skills are punctiliousness, cleanliness, reliability, courtesy, and skills of such a basic nature that we usually call them virtues. The chief reason many people are unemployable is that they lack one or more of those skills. The absolute best way to increase these skills is by practice, not by schooling, and sending young people out into public schools and colleges to acquire them is absurd. These are the very things most schools are incapable of teaching these days.
  3. The second reason for low employability is that the putative workers have low IQs. Schooling in adulthood can do little to push that string. The best thing for these people is to be employed at very easy jobs with low productivity. So minimum wage floors are too high for them and they remain unemployed and unemployable.
  4. The most obvious thing that happens to the unemployable is they go on assistance, where they strain tax budgets and charitable toleration. This makes of them suckers upon society, not contributors — parasites not hosts — and paying someone to do nothing is a deal that many people are more than willing to milk for all its worth. (I think we should reserve tax or charity aid for those who simply cannot ever, in any circumstances, work and be productive.)
  5. The general effect of minimum wage legislation then is to take low-skilled people out of the market and run them through the welfare state, either in direct aid or government schooling. As such, this becomes one of its chief attractions for the regulation’s advocates: they like the State and taking from some and giving to others, and profoundly distrust “business” and “bosses” and see them as exploitative.

And here we get to the main thrust of progressivism: replacing market interaction with government subsidy, coercion and credentialism. The people who support progressive regulations the most are moderately bright people who pass tests well. They like schools. They do well. They thus become teachers and bureaucrats, and their world is insulated from market rigors. So of course they promote self-defeating legislation, because it settles them in their class interests.

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)