The Indian tribesman’s claim to his ancient stomping grounds can’t be reduced to a title search at the deeds office. That’s the stuff of the positive law. And this was the point I took away from a conversation, circa 2000, with Mr. Property Rights himself, Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Dr. Hoppe argued unassailably – does he argue any other way? – that if Amerindians had repeatedly traversed, for their livelihood, the same hunting, fishing and foraging grounds, they would have, in effect, homesteaded these, making them their own. Another apodictic profundity deduced from that conversation: The strict Lockean stipulation, whereby to make property one’s own, one must transform it to Western standards, is not convincing. In an article marking Columbus Day – the day Conservatism Inc. beats up on what remains of America’s First People – Ryan McMaken debunked Ayn Rand’s specious claim that aboriginal Americans “did not have the concept of property or property rights.” This was Rand’s ruse for justifying Europeans’ disregard for the homesteading rights of the First Nations. “[T]he Indian tribes had no right to the land they lived on because” they were primitive and nomadic. Hoppean Homesteading Cultural supremacy is no argument for the dispossession of a Lesser Other. To libertarians, Lockean – or, rather Hoppean – homesteading is sacrosanct. He who believes he has a right to another man’s property ought to produce proof that he is its rightful owner. ‘As the old legal adage goes, ‘Possession is nine-tenths of the law,’ as it is the best evidence of legitimate title. The burden of proof rests squarely with the person attempting to relieve another of present property titles.’ (Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, p. 276.)
One of Ayn Rand’s most notorious claims is that Europeans and their descendants were justified in driving Indian tribes off their landsbecause aboriginal Americans “did not have the concept of property or property rights,” and because they “wish[ed] to continue a primitive existence.” Rand also claims the Indian tribes had no right to the land they lived on because “they didn’t have a settled society,” and “had predominantly nomadic tribal ‘cultures.’” Rand even uses scare quotes around “cultures” to perhaps imply that Indian culture was not any type of culture at all. Today, many critics of laissez-faire liberalism (i.e., libertarianism) continue to quote these lines in order to indict all defenders of private property, whom critics like to associate with Rand’s peculiar ideology. As with so many accusations that conflate Rand’s beliefs with libertarians, this is misplaced. Many libertarian writers have approached the issue from a a perspective which assumes the tribes were treated unjustly. Leonard Liggio, for example, discussed the issue from this perspective in the early 1970s, and Rothbard repeatedly wrote with sympathy in Conceived in Liberty about the tribes who interacted with colonial Americans. To this day, Indian-tribe sovereignty, as weak as it is, continues to be an important check on federal power. Regardless of how one views European and American policy toward the tribes, however, the argument that the tribes and individual Indians had no concept of property – and thus whites were justified in seizing tribal lands – is a terrible argument for a variety of reasons.
In Ayn Rand’s 1943 novel, The Fountainhead, newspaper columnist, arch manipulator, and promoter of absolute collectivism, Ellsworth Toohey, tells his social-climbing weak-kneed follower, Peter Keating: ‘If you learn how to rule one single man’s soul, you can get the rest of mankind. It’s the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That’s why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can’t be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it – and the man is yours…enshrine mediocrity.’ There is a whole army of experts, whose job is to tell you success only comes with you being part of a group. They imply your status as an individual is transmitted to you through some diabolical portion of your brain that is loaded with false messages. Therefore, give up. Take the elevator down to the basement, get off, and join The Group. That’s where the love is. That’s where your useless courage dissolves into sugar, and you discover a paradise of the lowest common denominator. You’re home. The sun never rises or sets. Nothing changes. Sameness rules. Since the 1960s, many people have decided that, in order to create the future they want, they should engage in a certain amount of introspection. Spiritual or psychological introspection. I have encountered a large number of such people, who have swung the balance to the point where introspection has become indecision and paralysis.
Debunking a Lie Don Watkins of the Ayn Rand Institute wrote an article, The Myth of Banking Deregulation, to debunk a lie. The lie is that bank regulation is good. That it helped stabilize the economy in the 1930′s. And that deregulation at the end of the century destabilized the economy and caused the crisis of 2008. As of early 2015, Dodd-Frank had imposed altogether 27,670 new restrictions, more than all other laws passed under Obama combined (that is really saying something, considering the regulatory frenzy let loose by his administration. Note: the law may have ‘only’ 2,300 pages, but more than 10 different regulatory agencies have been producing administrative laws for six years in a row to put it into practice – and they are not finished yet. Don’t you feel safer already?
This post was published at Acting-Man on February 27, 2017.
After Donald Trump announced a number of cabinet picks who happen to be fans of Ayn Rand, a flurry of articles appeared claiming that Trump intended to create an Objectivist cabal within his administration. ‘Ayn Rand-acolyte Donald Trump stacks his cabinet with fellow Objectivists,’ proclaimed one article. Would that it were so. The novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand was a passionate champion of individual freedom and laissez-faire capitalism and a fierce opponent of authoritarianism. For her, government exists solely to protect our rights, not to meddle in the economy or to direct our private lives. A president who truly understood Rand’s philosophy would not be cozying up to Putin, bullying companies to keep manufacturing plants in the United States, or promising ‘insurance for everybody’ among many other things Trump has said and done.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 12, 2017.
I’m trying to tune out politics so I can spend the weekend with my kids undisturbed. Yet I feel compelled to type this out: America is breaking up. The election of Donald Trump has fast forwarded the dissolution of the United States by 50 years, maybe even a hundred. Ideological and cultural differences have reached a point at which huge pluralities simply loathe each other. What one group considers holy and praiseworthy the other considers abominable and deplorable. This was not always the case. Check out an episode of the old show What’s My Line? on YouTube. Panelist Bennett Cerf was one of the founders of Random House publishing. He was a left-liberal by the standards of his day. But he was gentlemanly, well dressed, charming, affable, courteous, well mannered – the very opposite of his counterparts today. And he still believed in that now discarded idea: the honorable disagreement. He could call Ayn Rand a ‘brilliant woman’ while still disagreeing with her ‘cockamamie philosophy.’ Whatever political disagreements there were, Americans shared quite a bit in common culturally, morally, and in the most basic standards of civilized behavior. That’s all gone now.
Today marks the 15th Anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and yet the American public remains in the dark about critical details of hundreds of billions of dollars of financial dealings by the Federal Reserve in the days, weeks and months that followed 9/11. What has also been lost in the official 9/11 Commission Report, Congressional hearings and academic studies, is how Wall Street, on the day the planes slammed into the World Trade Towers, was on the cusp of being exposed by the New York State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, as the orchestrator of a fraud of unprecedented proportion against the investing public. That investigation was stalled for more than six months. It would have been politically incorrect to do perp walks outside Wall Street’s biggest investment banks as families mourned the loss of their loved ones; as U. S. savings bonds were renamed Patriot Bonds to rally patriotism around the country; and Congress paid homage to the heroes at the big banks, the stock exchanges and the Federal Reserve for getting the system back up and running in less than a week. The loony policies of laissez-faire capitalism of Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, who worshiped at the feet of Ayn Rand, were also bailed out by the events of 9/11. Members of the Senate Banking Committee praised him on September 20, 2001 for his performance. Amazingly, at this hearing, just nine days after the attack, not one Senator asked Greenspan how much money the Fed had spent or to whom it went. The percolating collapse of Wall Street was held off for seven more years until 2008 when it finally became impossible to deny that Greenspan’s brand of financial deregulation and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act he had pushed for, had left Wall Street in ruins – without any assault from the skies.
Good movies often reflect the attitudes of the times in which they were created. However, great movies that withstand the obscurity of history reflect the emergence of some sort of counterculture. Captain America: Civil Waris most definitely the latter. In a world where political correctness, state worship, war cheerleading, and socialist propaganda have infected the very nurseries of American culture (namely higher education and Hollywood), Civil War shines as a beacon of pride that will have libertarians in the audience smiling brightly. Besides, any movie that can send Salon.com into a tantrum has to be good, right? Amanda Marcotte’s laughable attempt to complain about how Marvel ruined the character and to smear Cap as a ‘douchey libertarian’ and ‘Ayn Rand acolyte’ rests on an assumption of some perceived inconsistency of previously established ‘liberal’ values. (I, for one, am shocked to see someone use that ‘d’ word to belittle someone else. The writer must be a sexist). To Ms. Marcotte, and many on the left, Steve Rogers was always a good ole rule following American patriot who stood up for Democracy and its values around the world. Supposedly, this was established early on in Cap’s first movie (when he enlisted in WWII to fight the Nazi’s parallel, Hydra). Similarly, in Winter Soldier, it is perceived that Rogers does the right thing by putting a stop to S. H. I. E. L. D.’s secret spying and drone assault program that was never OK’d by the voting public. Then, she reasons, that somehow Marvel went and broke the reddest hearts of leftist comic book movie enthusiasts in Civil War by Cap suddenly breaking from his defense of Democracy by refusing to be conscripted into the United Nation’s Avengers Oversight Program (In the movie, the Sokovia Accords).
President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address on January 12, 2016, and devoted most of the time to defending his ‘legacy’ of bigger and more intrusive government, with an emphasis on the other aspects of personal and social life he wished could come under the blanket of more political paternalism, if only there was enough time before he leaves office on January 20, 2017. But suppose that, instead, Obama had had an epiphany shortly before he spoke before the Congress on January 12th. Imagine that he had had a realization that the Progressive and political paternalistic ideas that he has believed in, espoused and implemented during his first seven years in the office of the presidency had been wrong and misguided. What if he had discovered the ideas, say, of Ayn Rand, Henry Hazlitt, Milton Friedman, and F. A. Hayek, for example? Suppose that he realized that the true principles of a free society were to be found in the ideas and ideals of individual rights and liberty, free markets and competitive enterprise? What if the president offered, instead, an agenda for freedom rather than one of paternalism? What would the State of the Union address be like if he had such an epiphany for defending individual liberty rather than more unrestricted government license over our lives? Let us imagine what he might have said, instead of the words he actually spoke: ‘My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight to deliver my seventh and last State of the Union address at a time of continuing economic uncertainty and social tensions across our great nation. ‘I have spoken to you more than once about the country’s need for ‘hope and change.’ But I now realize that we must look for that hope and change in a far different direction that the one I’ve talked about and argued for in previous years.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 01/28/2016.
‘The smallest minority on Earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.’ – Ayn Rand ‘Social justice,’ the young, well-intentioned, and severely tipsy American girl said. We were going through the usual lineup of questions strangers ask each other at hole-in-the-wall bars in Thailand. I asked her what she wanted to do when she got back home. Her answer? Social justice. ‘That’s my passion,’ she went on. ‘What do you mean ‘social justice’?’ I asked. ‘What does that mean?’ ‘Umm… well, you know, just making sure people aren’t oppressed.’ At first, I thought she was going to give me some examples of egregious human rights violations in Africa, Middle East or nearby in Asia. Where, you know, people were suffering at the hands of legitimately evil people. But, instead, she said… ‘Like what happened at Mizzou.’ ‘Mizzou University?’ I asked, hoping I didn’t hear her correctly. ‘Yep. Did you see that?’ ‘Yeah… Riiight,’ I said, seeing where this was going. ‘Oh, my. Look at the time…’ I’m sure you know. Young people in America are dissatisfied. And it’s good that they are angry. They have every right to be.
The real definition of a human right is a right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person. The United Nations defines Human Rights as: Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. The question is simply this: why is discriminating against class acceptable, as advocated by Karl Marx, which has become fundamental in politics as with Hillary in the States or Hollande in Europe? Those of us who are producers are looked down upon by the state as a possession as in Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’. The G20 is on a witch hunt to track down every person to find where they have any money stashed. This greed of politicians to fund their mismanagement of the state violates our HUMAN RIGHTS.
On October 23, 2008, with much of Wall Street lying in ruins and the U. S. economy rapidly heading toward a 1930s type of collapse, Henry Waxman, Chair of the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee, attempted to elicit answers from Alan Greenspan, the former Chair of the Federal Reserve for an unprecedented 18 years who had pushed for the deregulation of Wall Street that had left the country teetering. After enumerating a series of recent financial collapses occurring from either deregulation or corrupted business principles, Waxman said: ‘Each of these case studies is different, but they share common themes. In each case, corporate excess and greed enriched company executives at enormous cost to shareholders and our economy. In each case, these abuses could have been prevented if Federal regulators had paid more attention and intervened with responsible regulations.’ In those three sentences, Waxman had correctly indicted a lifetime of writing and theories espoused by Ayn Rand and her acolyte, Alan Greenspan. Rand’s theory is simpleminded and destructive – on both the personal and societal level. It holds that the selfish desires of the individual should have no restraints by government; the poor deserve their lot and should receive no tax support from other citizens while the rich have a right to unrestricted power. Greenspan not only worshiped at the feet of Rand but wrote essays for her ‘Objectivist’ newsletter and contributed articles for her bookCapitalism: The Unknown Ideal. One of Greenspan’s articles in the book is titled ‘Antitrust.’ Greenspan makes the same simplistic and deluded case as Rand that if government will only get out of the way, corporate leaders will move the country forward. Greenspan writes: ‘The churning of a nation’s capital, in a fully free economy, would be continuously pushing capital into profitable areas – and this would effectively control the competitive price and production policies of business firms, making a coercive monopoly impossible to maintain… To sum up: The entire structure of antitrust statutes in this country is a jumble of economic irrationality and ignorance. It is the product: (a) of a gross misinterpretation of history, and (b) of rather naive, and certainly unrealistic, economic theories… No speculation, however, is required to assess the injustice and the damage to the careers, reputations, and lives of business executives jailed under the antitrust laws.’ At the end of this treatise, Greenspan writes, ‘I am indebted to Ayn Rand for her identification of this principle.’
Our era is a strange one when considering how social attitudes have developed in such a contrary fashion to the rest of history. I think that our forefathers would look upon our current culture with bewilderment when confronted with the fact that our generation has all but abandoned the option of physical rebellion as a tool for social change. Even among the most enslaved of nations and peoples, the idea of revolution has been held in regard as an entirely moral and principled affair involving every individual, no matter their age or economic station. Today, however, that which we call ‘revolution’ has been delegated mostly to college-age intellectuals and has been so watered down and whitewashed with politically correct restrictions that the concept is hardly recognizable. I believe the civil rights movements in America and in India in the 20th century have in many ways warped the public view of how opposition to totalitarianism is actually accomplished. I find it interesting that movements led by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. enjoy so much adoration in mainstream media and in public schooling, while the American Revolution is often either misrepresented or not discussed at all. Gandhi’s movement was, in concrete terms, a failure until Indians had actually began organizing to physically fight the British, causing the Crown to attempt to defuse the movement by suddenly offering up a reformation of Indian governance (one that would continue to benefit them). When one examines the facts surrounding Cointelpro operations by the FBI and CIA during the civil rights movement in America, one realizes that half the efforts and actions were legitimate and the other half entirely manipulated. Over the course of half a century, the philosophy of ‘anti-violence’ has come to include a distinct distaste for self-defense. Self-defense is now consistently equated to ‘violence’ (and is, thus, immoral), regardless of environmental circumstances. Even in the liberty movement, there are people who disregard physical defense as either barbaric or ‘futile’ and have adopted rather less-effective pacifist ideologies of more socialist activism. The problem with certain factions of libertarianism is that they tend to live within their own heads, reveling in a world of Ayn Randian and Rothbardian political and social theory, while abandoning the other side of concrete resistance. Some in the survival community call these people ‘egghead libertarians,’ and I think the label fits.
This post was published at Alt-Market on 11 February 2015.
The following video was published by misesmedia on Dec 5, 2014 This weekend Jeff Deist welcomes Michael Oliver, and if you like debating Rothbard vs. Rand – or anarcho-capitalism vs. limited government – you’ll really enjoy our show. Michael witnessed the beginning of the modern anarcho-capitalism movement, meeting Rothbard in the early 1970s and writing a graduate thesis based on Murray’s provocative descriptive term for a libertarian society. That thesis became a book entitled ‘The New Libertarianism: Anarcho-Capitalism’. But Oliver was also a dedicated Objectivist, and thus his book attempted to reconcile Rothbardian thought with the work of Ayn Rand – even in presumably thorny areas like natural law, private defense, and pure anarchism. The results are fascinating and provocative.