The Left, as a whole, in the Western World, has become far more extreme in this century than it was in the last. The Socialist and “Conservative” parties of Europe, the Democratic Party of America, the universities everywhere, the media and the film industries, book publishers, song writers, judiciaries, and a slightly varying half of the voters in almost all Western countries, are predominantly of one opinion, consciously or semi-consciously, articulately or silently, that Marx and Lenin, and even (though their names may be spoken a shade more sotto voce) Stalin and Mao, were right.
This is from Front Page, by Vladimir Tismaneanu:
It has become fashionable among leftist circles to invoke a return to Lenin, to radicalism, to utopia. Among those who advocate such imperatives to “retest the communist hypothesis” one can count French philosopher Alain Badiou, a former admirer of the Khmer Rouge, and Slovene thinker, Slavoj Zizek, the new idol of Western university campuses, subject of documentary hagiographic movies, and prophet of a new phantasmagoric world revolution.
To know more about Slavoj Zizek, see our post Red alert, January 21, 2009. And to get the flavor of the man, watch the video at the foot of this post.
Did the partisans of such positions ever stop to think how it would sound a call for “retesting the Nazi hypothesis”? One must be totally oblivious to history, an incurable cynic, in order to ignore the fact that Leninism, just like National-Socialism, means political terrorism, the apotheosis of fanatical partisanship, the boundless cult of violence and nihilism, etc. In short, Leninism presupposes … the destruction of the inner man. Leninism is theoretical and practical anti-humanism.
‘The inner man” in this context means the individual for himself alone, not as a unit of “society”.
There have been conferences and symposia where Lenin is presented, in an academic context and without any trace of compassion for the millions of victims of “the great experiment”, as the philosopher of the break with an order putatively condemned by history.
The “order putatively condemned by history” is of course capitalism, or the free market. Those who condemn it and praise “the great [Communist] experiment” have not noticed that the free market has brought widespread prosperity wherever it has been allowed to, or that Lenin’s experiment, the miserable Soviet Union, failed and fell and lost the Cold War.
All in all, it is unsurprising that the prophets of violence worship Lenin. What is surprising is that intellectuals, who should have learnt from the catastrophes of the 20th century, are engaged in an endeavor driven by programmatic irresponsibility. It is simply shocking that in countries where the Leninist model was implemented, one can still read and hear hymns honoring the architect of a criminal system.
Should we be amazed by all this? What could one expect from the epigones of Georg Lukacs, the Marxist philosopher who declared … that he preferred the worst form of socialism to the best incarnation of capitalism. …
Georg Lukacs was the Hungarian Commissar, and philosopher of drama and art, on whom Jillian Becker’s character L is based in her novel L: A Novel History.
Real history does not matter for such sectarians. What does matter is the dogma to which they are faithful in total disregard of reality. … It is quite telltale that one of Hugo Chavez’s intellectual heroes was Istvan Meszaros, one of Lukacs’s former students who … has remained a flaming Marxist, faithful to the dialectical sophistries of his mentor.
An excellent example of such world-view is a recent memoir by a Romanian Marxist intellectual, Ion Ianosi, who happened to be deeply involved for long stretches of time in the ideologization of the country’s culture during communism. The volume’s title is My International. Some critics glorify the book as testimony of heartfelt sincerity. What is missing in those more than 800 pages is an honest analysis of Bolshevism as justification of social genocide. Ion Ianosi seemingly excels on topics such as “Marx and Art”, “Lenin and Art”, pretty much the same fields for which his expertise was called upon during his activity within the Romanian communist party’s Agitprop. But Ianosi shies away from trying his expert pen on topics such as the crimes against humanity inspired by the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Even before the Bolsheviks’ coming into power, it was clear that Lenin was a fanatical propagandist, a utopian ideologue fixated on social purity and purification, an heir to Robespierre and St. Just, but no philosopher. Philosophy implies doubt and Lenin was the man without doubts. …
Lenin was the practitioner of a simplistic, partisan, and exclusivist philosophy. He rejected emphatically any possibility for a middle path, of a tertium datur between what he called “bourgeois ideology” and the “proletarian” one.
We at TAC are all for “bourgeois ideology”, if the bourgeoisie as such – the successful middle class – can be said to have such a dusty thing as an ideology. We value the middle class, anyway, above the others, because out of it has come almost every one of those men (and handful of women) who have advanced our civilization and augmented the glory of our culture in the last five hundred years. (Though also most of those who’ve done our civilization the worst harm, such as Marx, Lenin, Lukacs …)
Lenin’s Manichaeism [bourgeois bad, proletarian good] was inexorable. For Lenin and his followers, ideas were (are) always the manifestation of class interests. … This is the meaning of a notion essential for the Leninist conception about ideas, ideologies and philosophical consciousness: partiinost – partisanship, class position, militant commitment, total and abject subordination to the party line.
Leninism is a revolutionary doctrine that sanctifies political violence and condemns entire social categories to state-engineered extinction. It is … rooted in the visceral contempt for the rule of law, legality, and the universality of human rights. “Back to Lenin” means a return to barbarism, blindness, and murder.
We are not enamored of the phrase “human rights”. We prefer to speak of human freedom, which we suppose is what Professor Tismaneanu, who has lived under Communism in Romania, probably means.
Now here’s Slavoj Zizek. He starts at about the 2 minute mark. Don’t expect to be rewarded for over 15 minutes of paying attention with any impressive ideas. He says nothing much, but with strong emphasis, and what he does say is notably wrong. For instance, that Norway is intolerant of immigrants! (Go here to test this notion, and to any other of Bruce Bawer’s numerous articles on the same subject.) He thinks the major political groupings in Europe are now the “capitalist anti-immigrants” on one side and the [Islamic] immigrants on the other. (Would it were so! ) He calls himself a Leftist, though oddly declaring that in America there is “an excess of anti-capitalism”; calls Fox News “the enemy”; and implies that the worst problem facing mankind is … you guessed it … global-warming.
There is a formula for a nation’s success and happiness: have children and a free market economy.
Other nations may hate you and envy you; attack you with words, sanctions, terrorism, and rockets; but still you will thrive, prosper, innovate, and grow.
Caroline Glick writes:
A lot has changed since the 1990s. Twenty years after Yitzhak Rabin shook Yasser Arafat’s hand on the White House lawn and so officially ushered in Israel’s Age of Terror, most Israelis don’t really care what the Europeans or the Arabs think of us.
The Europeans prattle on about Israeli racism, and threaten to put yellow stars or some other nasty mark on Israeli goods. They ban Israeli books from their libraries in Scotland. They boycott Israeli universities, professors and students in England. In Italy they hold rallies for convicted mass murderer Marwan Barghouti at their national Senate. And in France they butcher Jewish children.
And then the likes of Catherine Ashton [EU Representative for Foreign Affairs] expect us to care what they think about us.
Well, we don’t.
… The Europeans and the Americans and their Israeli followers miss the fact that the easiest way to build a secure and peaceful world is not by wooing terrorists. The best way to achieve these goals is by accepting the world as it is. This is what the Israeli people has done. True, we needed to have our fantasies blown away in suicide bombings before we reconciled ourselves to this simple truth. But life has been better, happier and more secure since we did.
The “international community’s” inability to accept that sober-minded contentment is better than pipe dream fantasies has caused leftist writers in Israel, Europe and the US alike to express mystification at a recent survey carried out by the OECD, which ranks Israelis among the happiest people in the world. The ranking made no sense to commentators.
Israelis work harder than other members of the OECD. We complain more than other members of the OECD. We don’t have “peace.” And yet, we are among the happiest people in the OECD.
What gives? For decades before we embarked on the phony peace process, Israel was a model socialist state. We had paralyzing tax rates and failed government industries that crowded private entrepreneurship out of the market. Monopolies ran every sector and provided shoddy goods and horrible services at astronomical prices. The Histadrut labor union owned most of the economy along with the government and in every sector, Histadrut commissars ensured that anyone with an ounce of initiative was subject to unending abuse. …
Just about the time we began extricating ourselves from our socialist straitjacket, we were also recognizing that the peace thing wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. And at that point we began to understand that happiness and success aren’t about what other people give you – money, treaties, a phone line after a five-year wait. Happiness and success are about what you accomplish.
We think that statement bears repeating: Happiness and success are about what you accomplish.
At that point, sometime between 1996 and 2000, Israelis began creating large families and embracing the free market.
Today, with an average of three children per family, Israelis are the fecund outliers of the industrial world. … There is a direct correlation between children and human happiness. This is why fruitful Israelis have the lowest suicide rate in the industrial world.
When you have children, you have a future. And when you have a future, you work hard to secure it, and have a generally optimistic outlook. …
Israelis are also happy because we see that we can build the future we want for our families and our country even without another glitzy signing ceremony at the White House every six months. Our country is getting stronger and more livable every day. And we know it.
Those on the international stage that share our view that life is about more than pieces of paper signed with Arab anti-Semites recognize what is happening. For them Israel is not “that shi**y little country.” It’s “The Little Engine that Could.”
Take the Chinese. Last July China signed a deal with Israel to build an inland port in Eilat and a 180- km. freight railway to connect Eilat to Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa. The purpose of the project is to build an alternative to the Suez Canal, in Israel. The Chinese look at the region, and they see that Egypt is a failed state that can’t even afford its wheat imports. The future of shipping along the Suez Canal is in doubt with riots in Port Said and Suez occurring on a regular basis.
On the other hand, Israel is a stable, prosperous, successful democracy that keeps moving from strength to strength. When the freight line is completed, as far as the global economy is concerned, Israel will become the most strategically important country in the region.
Then there is our newfound energy wealth. Israel became energy independent on March 30, when the Tamar offshore gas field began pumping natural gas to Israel. In two to three years, when the Leviathan gas field comes online, Israel will become one of the most important producers of natural gas in the world.
Moreover, in 2017, Israel will likely begin extracting commercial quantities of oil from its massive oil shale deposits …
Geologists assess that the field alone contains some 250 billion barrels of oil, giving Israel oil parity with Saudi Arabia. Chinese, Russian and Australian firms are lining up to sign contracts with Israeli energy companies. International analysts assess that Israel’s emergence as an energy power will have a stabilizing impact on the global economy and international security. Israel can end Asia’s oil and gas hunger. It can reduce European dependence on Russia. It will remove OPEC’s ability to dictate world oil prices through supply manipulation.
Israel’s discovery of its energy riches couldn’t have come at a more propitious time. Had Israel discovered its oil and gas 65 or even 20 years ago, we wouldn’t have had the economic maturity to manage our resources responsibly. But now, with our free market, our hi-tech sector and our entrepreneurial culture, we can develop and manage our resources wisely and successfully.
At 65, Israel is becoming a mature, responsible, prosperous and powerful player in the international arena. The only thing we need to ensure that we enjoy the fruits of our labors is security. And the one thing we can do to squander it all is place our hopes in “peace.”
And so we won’t, ever again.
Margaret Thatcher’s reign over Britain was a pause in the decline of the nation. That is the verdict of almost all the most insightful obituaries that have appeared since her death. She changed Britain, held it for a while as a model to the world of how capitalism can restore wealth and prestige, but did not succeed in reversing its downward trend.
Nevertheless she was one of the British people’s greatest leaders.
Mark Steyn writes:
In Britain in the Seventies, everything that could be nationalized had been nationalized, into a phalanx of lumpen government monopolies all flying the moth-eaten flag: British Steel, British Coal, British Airways, British Rail . . . The government owned every industry — or, if you prefer, “the British people” owned every industry. And, as a consequence, the unions owned the British people. The top income-tax rate was 83 percent, and on investment income 98 percent. No electorally viable politician now thinks the government should run airlines and car plants and that workers should live their entire lives in government housing. But what seems obvious to all in 2013 was the bipartisan consensus four decades ago, and it required an extraordinary political will for one woman to drag her own party, then the nation, and subsequently much of the rest of the world back from the cliff edge.
Thatcherite denationalization was the first thing Eastern Europe did after throwing off its Communist shackles — although the fact that recovering Soviet client states found such a natural twelve-step program at Westminster testifies to how far gone Britain was.
She [Margaret Thatcher] was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain’s most important peacetime prime minister. In 1979, Britain was not at war, but as much as in 1940 faced an existential threat.
Mrs. Thatcher saved her country — and then went on to save a shriveling “free world,” and what was left of its credibility. The Falklands were an itsy bitsy colonial afterthought on the fringe of the map, costly to win and hold, easy to shrug off — as so much had already been shrugged off. After Vietnam, the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, Communist annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Grenada, nobody in Moscow or anywhere else expected a Western nation to go to war and wage it to win. Jimmy Carter, a ditherer who belatedly dispatched the helicopters to Iran only to have them crash in the desert and sit by as cocky mullahs poked the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV, embodied the “leader of the free world” as a smiling eunuch. Why in 1983 should the toothless arthritic British lion prove any more formidable?
And, even when Mrs. Thatcher won her victory, the civilizational cringe of the West was so strong that all the experts immediately urged her to throw it away and reward the Argentine junta for its aggression. “We were prepared to negotiate before” she responded, “but not now. We have lost a lot of blood, and it’s the best blood.” Or as a British sergeant said of the Falklands: “If they’re worth fighting for, then they must be worth keeping.”
Mrs. Thatcher thought Britain was worth fighting for, at a time when everyone else assumed decline was inevitable. … [But for her and] anyone with a sense of history’s sweep, the strike-ridden socialist basket case of the British Seventies was not an economic downturn but a stain on national honor.
A generation on, the Thatcher era seems more and more like a magnificent but temporary interlude in a great nation’s bizarre, remorseless self-dissolution.
She was right and they were wrong, and because of that they will never forgive her. … For eleven tumultuous years, Margaret Thatcher did shock them. But the deep corrosion of a nation is hard to reverse …
Not just hard. Impossible. What great power that declined and fell ever rose to greatness again?
China had to turn to the capitalist model set by Margaret Thatcher to save its economy – which it did, spectacularly.
But far from acknowledging a debt, this obituary published in China belittles all her achievements, putting her whole career through the Marxist class-analysis mincer.
Petty, mean, and puerile, it is an exercise in Schadenfreude; sneer after sneer concluding with a spiteful joke:
Thatcher grew up in a classical English petty-bourgeois family. Her father owned two grocery shops in Grantham. He preached the word of God, was staunchly patriotic, and became the town’s Mayor from 1945-6. His self-confidence derived from selecting food that commanded a good price and turned a good profit. His daughter, Margaret, also formed her intellectual outlook around the petty proprietor’s fetish for the magical qualities of prices. …
Her marriage to Dennis Thatcher in 1951 elevated her into the ranks of the bourgeoisie. He had inherited his wealth and felt that business distracted him from dabbling in amateur military escapades. He was generally seen as a blithering incompetent buffoon to be shunted out of ears reach, in case some bigoted diatribe escaped his lips, but Margaret dearly loved him and treasured the life opportunities his wealth had opened up for her. Dennis funded her career change from studying the chemical composition of ice cream, to studying to become a barrister …
The 1960s were characterized by an entrenched social-democratic consensus whereby social and economic development was widely seen as the product of an alliance between theclasses. Employment was easy to come by and wages rose, and public housing, health care and education expanded rapidly. This all smacked of communism to Margaret Thatcher, who was allowed to bark vitriol against socialism to the gleeful cheers of her bourgeois-aristocratic colleagues in parliament.
The victory of the mineworkers against the Conservative government in two strikes in 1972 and 1974 led to an election, which the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, claimed would answer the question “who runs Britain?” He lost the election to a minority Labour government and Margaret Thatcher became the Conservative Party leader in 1975.
The shopkeeper inside her, meant she automatically gravitated toward economic theory based on price. Her ideology imagined a world of free and unrestricted competitive pressures where atomized individuals replace organized workers. The pathway to this free market utopia involved selling off state resources and public housing at prices that were absurdly low. This created a significant constituency within the working and middle classes who suddenly acquired money from nothing. In this way the shopkeeper’s delusion, that an economy is simply a nation of buyers and sellers, was materially anchored in the minds of those who suddenly had loads of money. In this way a significant minority acquired a material stake in Thatcher’s “property owning democracy.” Making goods and services was replaced by selling second hand bricks; producing coal, steel, ships, trains and cars was replaced by speculative instruments conjured up by a Thatcherite tribe of arrogant barrow boys who were encouraged to take over the trading floors of the City of London, elbowing aside the “toffs” in bowler hats, and revolutionizing financial markets in a cocaine fueled [?] speculative orgy.
So severe was the economic dislocation and the scars of social conflict that the government was thrown into deep crisis. However, luck was on the side of Mrs. Thatcher, as President General Galtieri of Argentina used their nation’s historical conflict over British occupation of the Malvinas Islands to launch a war to take them by force. Thatcher dispatched the British fleet and reconquered the Islands, whipping up a wave of jingoistic flag-waving. Riding a new tide of popularity, the real war began. Its objective was to smash the central core of trade union strength, the National Union of Mineworkers. Huge reserves of coal were stockpiled, the police were militarized, and war was declared on millions of British workers. Thatcher proclaimed the miners’ union to be agents of the Soviet Union. When she described them as “the enemy within” she had the look of hysteria in her eyes. The strike lasted a year and was defeated. This was a result of Thatcher’s determination and an impotent response by the majority of Labour and Trade Union leaders. The defeat of the miners union led to greater control by capital over labour and a long period of passive industrial relations.
The greatest nonsense is spoken about Thatcher’s significance in the struggle against what she called “the Evil Empire” of the USSR. The role of the U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was insignificant and peripheral. Even though the Soviet press had given her the name, “the Iron Lady,” of which she was so proud. The collapse of the USSR was a result of internal disintegration and not external pressure. …
May the Iron Lady rust in peace!
China’s prosperity is the result of allowing private enterprise. It makes China a rising world power.
South Africa is a geographical paradise. For the beauty of its landscapes of mountains and valleys and forests and vast plains, for the grandeur of its cities, for the comfort and cheer of its climates, for its blossoming indigenous trees, its bushlands of immense variety, its brilliant flowers and exotic fruits, for the colors of its birds (not their sounds, they do not sing but squawk and shriek and twitter and tweet), for its wild animals, for its smooth beaches and immense safe bays where the white waves roll in and the fishing boats trawl for their silver harvests, for the elegant Cape Dutch architecture of its historical towns and farmhouses, for its rich vineyards, and the bounteous mines of gold that have flourished since the goldrush that did not fail, no superlatives can be too strong. No meat in the world could taste better than South African beef and mutton. No table-grapes can match the long, firm, green honey-sweet Hanapoots. And this praise poem could go on for pages, as do the praise-poems sung to African chiefs.
That said, the country is a human tragedy. For decades millions of people suffered under the cruelty and humiliation of the policy of apartheid. It ended, and in 1994 the Communist ANC (African National Congress) came to power. Despite its predominant ideology, the new black leadership had the good sense to let the private sector of the economy continue – though under ever more irksome restrictions – and it has kept the nation afloat. But the lot of most people, the millions of blacks, has not improved. What a huge disappointment the change to democracy has been. The black slums are still there and much bigger. The first ANC minister for housing, the (white) Communist Joe Slovo, who returned from exile to put his long dreams into effect, managed to have built – how many good houses for poor urban blacks? One. Just one model house, as far as we can discover. But a shantytown, or “informal settlement”, has been named after him. Here’s a description of it (from Project Muse):
The highway connecting Port Elizabeth to the town of Uitenhage passes by one of these informal settlements, known as the Joe Slovo Community. Over four thousand people live in the maze of 1,200 shacks. There is no access road to the settlement. To get there one simply pulls off the highway into the mud. Homes in Joe Slovo are made of found materials including cardboard, corrugated metal, and plastic, and offer little shelter from the elements.
Like many other informal communities across South Africa, Joe Slovo has no electricity or sanitation system, and only a handful of communal water taps. The only semblance of urban development are six 100-foot tall security lights whose pink glow turns the hazy night sky to cotton candy. Ninety percent of the adult population is unemployed, and twenty percent is HIV-positive. [Until recently] there was no public school in Joe Slovo, and children had to cross the highway to get to the nearest school, five kilometers away.
And now the country is degenerating into another Zimbabwe, as it was bound to do. Here’s a very recent report by Arnold Ahlert, which we quote from Canada Free Press:
For decades, the country of South Africa was the focus of an international rallying cry against the injustices of apartheid. On June 17, 1991, South Africa’s Parliament abolished the legal framework for the practice of racial persecution. In 1994, Nelson Mandela and his Marxist African National Congress (ANC) assumed the reins of power. The international community looked away, satisfied that justice had prevailed. They continue to look away, even as South Africa has degenerated into another racist pit, best described by an Afrikaner farm owner: “It’s politically correct to kill whites these days.”
In July of 2012, Dr. Gregory Stanton, head of the nonprofit group Genocide Watch, conducted a fact-finding mission in South Africa. He concluded that there is a coordinated campaign of genocide being conducted against white farmers, known as Boers. “The farm murders, we have become convinced, are not accidental,” Stanton contended. “It was very clear that the massacres were not common crimes,” he added — especially because of the absolute barbarity used against the victims. “We don’t know exactly who is planning them yet, but what we are calling for is an international investigation,” he added.
The number of farm murders, or “plaasmoorde” as they are called in Afrikaans, is staggering. Over the last decade, it is estimated that at least 3000 Boers have been killed. Estimating the number of murders is necessary because the ANC has banned crime statistics from being compiled, claiming they scare off foreign investment. Moreover, the world knows little about the savagery that accompanies those killings. Many victims, including women and infant children, are raped or tortured before they are killed. Some have boiling water poured down their throats, some are burned with hot pokers, and some are hacked to death with machetes, or disemboweled. Several others have been tied to their own cars and dragged for miles.
The ANC, whose leader Jacob Zuma was reelected with over 75 per cent of the total voting delegates at the ANC National Conference held in Bloemfontein last December, denies that genocide is occurring, insisting that such attacks are part of the larger crime problem. …
What is known is that the ANC celebrated its 100th year anniversary with a song led by President Zuma himself. “Dubula iBhunu” or “Shoot the Boer” was a line in the lyrics of an apartheid-era song, “Ayesaba Amagwala” (“the cowards are scared”) that violates the South Africa constitution prohibiting the “advocacy of hatred that is based on race … and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” Yet Zuma apparently felt no compunction to refrain from singing it, because the ANC considers it an integral part of the anti-apartheid movement that is part of their heritage.
In 2010, Julius Malema, then leader of the ANC Youth League, revived the practice of singing the song after many years. After the South Africa High Court ruled it was hate speech, the ANC appealed. Last October, the ANC and AfriForum, a lobby group that wanted the song banned from public performance, reached an out-of-court settlement.
Dr. Stanton concluded that Malema’s revival of a song advocating murder moved South Africa from the fifth stage on his genocidal scale to stage six. When the South African judiciary ruled it to be unlawful hate speech, Genocide Watch put South Africa back at stage five. When President Zuma was caught on tape January 2012 singing, “We are going to shoot them with the machine gun, they are going to run/You are a Boer, we are going to hit them, and you are going to run/shoot the Boer…” South Africa was raised to stage six once again.
Stage six is known as Preparation: “Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved.”
The sixth stage is followed by stage seven: Extermination. …
The Afrikaner civil rights group AfriForum … is calling for attacks on South Africa’s mostly white farmers to be designated a crime of national priority. They delivered a memorandum to the country’s police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, urging him to give the murder of farmers the same level of urgency aimed at rhinoceros poachers and copper cable thieves. …
According to Johan Burger, a senior researcher with the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies’ crime and justice program, white farmers’ concerns are legitimately “special”. He reveals that it is now twice as dangerous to be a farmer in South Africa than a police officer … [and says that] many murderers “take out their hatred for all those past wrongs, and show who’s in control now.”
Like so many societies where demonstrating who’s in control becomes a necessity, disarming the population becomes a priority. In 2010, the ANC-led regime changed the Firearms Registration Act, demanding that all legal guns be re-registered by July 31, 2011. In the process of re-registration, more than half the applicants were turned down, and 90 percent were turned down again on appeal. Thus, white farm families were forced to relinquish their last line of defense against the tens of thousands of criminal gangs roaming the countryside – armed with AK47s. and as Genocide Watch noted on its website last July one more step was taken as well. “The government has disbanded the commando units of white farmers that once protected their farms, and has passed laws to confiscate the farmers’ weapons,” it reported. “Disarmament of a targeted group is one of the surest early warning signs of future genocidal killings.”
There is also a movement, much like the one that occurred in Zimbabwe, to confiscate white farmers’ land. Julius Malema led the charge, saying all whites are criminals, and that his ANC Youth League members were going to take all the land back without compensation, unless farmers relinquish 80 percent of it. …
That is a recipe for famine, as revealed by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti. In 2009, he told Parliament that more than half of the farms purchased for black farmers, at a cost of $891 million in government outlays, had either failed or were “declining.”
Yet ANC president Zuma remains undeterred. “The structure of the apartheid economy has remained largely intact,” Mr. Zuma said, in a speech given June 26, 2012 to thousands of delegates at ANC’s policy conference, held every five years, where the party’s pre-presidential election platform is discussed. “The ownership of the economy is still primarily in the hands of white males, as it has always been.”
Embedded in that platform is the idea that making peace with white South Africans following the end of apartheid has “hampered” the transfer of wealth to black South Africans. Thus, a “second transition” was proposed, which even the see-no-progressive-evil New York Times was forced to concede represents a “sharp leftward shift for the A.N.C., which despite its roots has largely backed a free-market economy …”
[Dr.] Stanton [of Genocide Watch] sees a bigger picture. In a speech in Pretoria, organized by the Transvaal Agricultural Union, Stanton claimed the ANC was demonizing white farmers, who have been in South Africa since the 1600s, by calling them “settlers.” A Genocide Watch reports reveals the strategy behind those efforts. “High-ranking ANC government officials who continuously refer to Whites as ‘settlers’ and ‘colonialists of a special type’ are using racial epithets in a campaign of state-sponsored dehumanization of the White population as a whole,” it stated. “They sanction gang-organized hate crimes against Whites, with the goal of terrorizing Whites through fear of genocidal annihilation.”
ANC President Jacob Zuma continues to fan the flames of racial division. Last December, he admonished black South Africans for being dog owners, saying that doing so amounts to copying white culture. Zuma’s office contended the message was aimed at “the need to decolonize the African mind post-liberation”.
It is a post-liberation effort that remains alarmingly on track to emulate all the other historically blood-soaked efforts by Marxists, who invariably need an enemy at whom to direct their anger. White African farmers are that enemy.
Racism as national policy did not end in South Africa in 1994. It is the motivating passion of the Marxist government. So the oppression, cruelty, and killing will have no stop.
An American industrialist argues with a French government minister.
The story comes from the left-biased Washington Post, told by Edward Cody:
It is a battle of archetypes: Morry “the Grizz” Taylor, the millionaire American capitalist who owns the tire manufacturer Titan International, has taken on Arnaud Montebourg, a handsome French Socialist and political comer whose evocative government title is minister of productive recovery.
In an unusual public exchange, the two have been trading insults about the work habits of the French, who, according to folklore [and not the facts? - ed], attach more importance to coffee breaks and long, winy lunches than to efficient production. It is an old and entertaining subject but one that has assumed new urgency in the fifth year of an economic crisis affecting France and its European neighbors.
In a letter to Montebourg, Taylor started the battle by saying bluntly that French workers at a tire plant he had visited are overpaid, lazy and coddled by a Socialist government enforcing such legally mandated rights as a 35-hour workweek, five weeks vacation and early retirement. But the biggest problem, Taylor said, is what the workers do, or not, while on the job.
“The French employees get high salaries but only work three hours,” he wrote in the letter, which was made available to the French media this week. “They have an hour for their breaks and their lunches, chat for three hours and work for three hours. I said this in front of French union representatives. They said that’s the way it is in France.”
To which the “political comer” replied with a load of BS and added an irrelevant historical reference in a childish bid to puff up his national pride:
Montebourg shot back that Taylor’s accusations were “as extremist as they are insulting” and revealed “a perfect ignorance of what our country is.” He added: “Do you at least know what La Fayette did for the United States of America?” …
At this point the author of the report, Edward Cody, sees fit to pour what he thinks is justified derision upon Mr Taylor:
Taylor, a 68-year-old arch conservative, ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 on a platform summed up in the title of his book “Kill All the Lawyers and Other Ways to Fix the Government.” (Montebourg is a lawyer by profession.) Although he got only about 1 percent of the vote in GOP primaries, Taylor has gone on his merry way buying up dying corporations for profit.
Having got only 1 percent of the vote in the GOP primaries, he should have refrained from carrying on with his business, or refrained from making it profitable? Is Mr Cody unaware that this sentence is a non sequitur as well as a give-away of his absurd leftist mind-set? He seems to believe that you are justified in whatever you do only to the extent that you are voted for. To parody Descartes: “I’m voted for, therefore I can pursue my career.”
Montebourg, 50, who garnered 17 percent of the vote in the Socialist Party’s presidential primaries last year, has positioned himself in President Francois Hollande’s government as an industrial nationalist. … He has advocated protectionist measures to ward off competition from cheap-labor countries such as China and vowed to protect France’s wheezing factories from predatory foreign capitalists by nationalization if necessary.
Good for him. It’s a reliable recipe for making the parlous condition of the French economy even worse.
In any case, the work habits of the French have long been a hot topic here, the subject of jokes but also of such serious discussion that even the Socialist government has tried to reform the labor laws.
So Taylor was not “perfectly ignorant” about them after all.
The conversation has intensified in recent months, as France’s economic growth has flat-lined and factories continue to close, producing a 10 percent unemployment rate. For many economists, a big culprit is the high cost of production — an hour of work is $46 in France, compared with about $30 in the United States.
Despite the discouraging statistics, Taylor’s company tried for several years to buy part of the failing Goodyear tire factory in the northern city of Amiens, intending to abandon general production to specialize in heavy-duty agriculture tires. But the negotiations fizzled because, Taylor charged, French unions made unreasonable demands that were backed by the government.
When Goodyear announced Jan. 31 that it planned to close the plant, putting 1,250 French employees out of work, Montebourg wrote to Taylor suggesting that negotiations might resume on the plan for a partial acquisition. But the American would have none of it.
“Do you think we are that stupid?” he wrote back. “Titan is the one with the money and the know-how to produce tires. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government.”
Bravo, Mr Taylor!
Montebourg retorted that 20,000 foreign companies operate in France, including 4,200 American subsidiaries that employ nearly half a million people and find they can do business just fine. “Far from your statements, which are as ridiculous as they are nasty, all these businesses know and appreciate the quality and the productivity of the French workforce, the commitment, the know-how, the talent and the competence of French workers,” he said.
Unwilling to leave it there, Taylor granted an interview Friday to the French news service Agence France-Presse and fired off another missive to Montebourg by e-mail.
“The extremist,” he told the minister, “is your government and its lack of knowledge on how to build a business.” Relentless, he added: “Since you bring it up, why is unemployment so high in France and especially among young people? It is because of your government’s policies, sir.”
“Drones have become America’s weapon of choice, the driverless car is now a reality.”
This is from the FT:
With each month, the US economy becomes steadily more automated. In January the US economy added just 4,000 manufacturing jobs, and the net increase since July is zero. Yet last month, manufacturing activity rose by its fastest rate since April, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The difference boils down to robots, which pose an increasingly nagging paradox: the more there are, the better for overall growth (since they boost productivity); yet the worse things become for the middle class. US median income has fallen in each of the last five years. …
Change is speeding up. Manufacturing employment is shrinking around the world. Among other countries, China is moving even faster towards industrial robotics, an area in which German and Japanese manufacturers dominate. Last year Foxconn, the Shenzhen-based assembler for Apple, Nokia and others, said it was buying 1m robots in the next three years to substitute for workers performing repetitive manual tasks. At the other end of the spectrum, a restaurant in Harbin, northern China, last year became the first to be entirely waited on by robots. …
The effects of technology are only just beginning to be felt in education and healthcare – the two most labour-intensive areas of the US economy that both suffer from productivity stagnation. Online education is beginning to spread. It is also meeting resistance. “The reactionaries in the faculties will eventually be grandfathered out,” says Tyler Cowen, co-founder of the Marginal Revolution University, which has pioneered free online learning in economics and other subjects. “We’ll still need Harvard as a dating service,” he jokes. “But the mid-level private universities do not know what is about to hit them.”
Even in healthcare, which reliably added jobs when every other sector was shedding them, technology is starting to look labour-saving. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration issued a patent to RP-Vita, the first “human interacting autonomous robot” for hospitals. …
But the spread of the robots will leave a large and growing chunk of the US labour force in the lurch. In their excellent primer, Race Against The Machine , Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee point out that in the contest between changing technology and education, the former is winning. Too few Americans are prepared. Some, such as Mr Cowen, fear many never will be. He believes the federal government should pay a basic guaranteed income to all Americans – a despairing view that accepts there will be permanent losers.
The machines will do the work, produce everything, and the central government will distribute the goods (“equally”) to the people, and so have total control over the population. That’s the new socialist vision.
It replaces the old socialist vision. Friedrich Engels, the capitalist who kept Karl Marx, wrote (Socialism, Utopian and Scientific): “The first act by virtue of which the State really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society — the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society — this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a State. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. The State is not ‘abolished’. It dies out.”
It doesn’t, it wouldn’t, it won’t, of course.
However, our view is: let machines do everything inventors can make them do. Fight wars. Drive us about safely. Manufacture everything. Wait tables …. People will be set free to do other things. And they will. There’s no need to make a plan for them.
The Christian Gnostics of the early centuries CE reversed the moral judgment of their inherited civilization, decreeing that what was commonly considered good was evil, and vice versa.
Planets, even the earth, can flip their poles, north becoming south, south north.
In the twentieth century the Russian empire was communist, America capitalist. In the twenty-first, Russia is capitalist, while America … well, you’ve got the point.
Now women are becoming men, and men women. Not just individually, which has become quite common and adds to the gaiety of nations, but en masse. This has to happen because women want to be soldiers, so men must be feminized.
Diana West puts it best:
And so it came, the coup de grace. The final “barrier” to “opportunities” for women in combat is no more. With a stroke of their pens, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey decreed that no battlefield mission or military role is off-limits to the female sex. The defense secretary and the general thus liberated mothers, daughters, sisters and wives to kill and be killed in the infantry, commando raids, even in Obama administration “overseas contingency operations.” In so doing, they also slashed away at that last institutional protection for the space that separates men and women, where civilization once grew.
It (civilization) has been struggling there for decades, as social engineers and radical feminists — all heirs to Marx — have been cutting away at elemental human instinct, social grace, language and thought itself. This overhaul of manners and mores, the family structure and marriage — even private aspects of the relationship between men and women — has been successful to a point where the cultural argument against women in combat (women in the military being a lost cause) is rarely voiced, not even on the right. …
We are left to make only the utilitarian arguments — body strength and speed, unit cohesion, even urinary tract infections and other hazards that front-line deployment pose to females. These are compellingly logical points, but they are unlikely to reverse an ideological juggernaut. When the secretary of defense says putting women in combat is about “making our military … and America stronger” and no one says he’s lying to further a Marxian ideal via social engineering, the cultural argument is lost, and the culture it comes from is bound and gagged, hostage to what we know as “political correctness.”
I still see threads of the cultural argument in emails and some blog responses to the Pentagon’s latest whack at creating “gender neutrality.” It erupts like a reflex against the conditioning to deny differences defined, at their essence, by muscle mass and womb. Such conditioning erodes the male protective instinct — which, surely, is what war is supposed to arise from — and the female nurturing instinct, which surely is what a civilization depends on.
No more. Women with wombs and without manly muscle mass now count as Pentagon-approved “warriors,” modern-day knights in Kevlar, soon to be humping 80-pound packs over mountain and desert.
Or maybe not. Didn’t Gen. Dempsey indicate that dropping some of those old-fashioned strength and speed requirements might be in order? “If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it,” Dempsey said last week, “the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?” Of course not! Why train Navy SEALs when Navy OTTERs will do as well?
And what about their children, when these front-line warriors bear them? And their pregnancies, when they decide it’s better for their mission, for their country, to terminate them? Don’t think Daddy Government, once again, won’t be a steady provider to his womenfolk. …
This penultimate shift at the Pentagon (will the NFL be next?) is just the tail end of something, not the beginning — the rewiring of the human spirit. In other words, the whole movement in the name of “equal rights” has no more to do with women being legally able to apply for a credit card and other aspects of equality before the law than ordering women into combat is about making the military and America stronger.
No, it’s about behavioral manipulation and transformation — the Equal Rights Amendment by executive fiat. These changes have been a long time coming. In my lifetime, I have watched even post-1960s standards of femininity, for example, plunge to a point where female tendencies toward privacy, intimacy and modesty have given way to norms of clinical-style revelation and numbing brazenness — and I’m talking about today’s “nice” girls, the ones who soon will be considered eligible for Selective Service.
Yes, I know, only 15 percent of our all-volunteer military is female — even after decades of active government courtship to woo women into the ranks and make “a force that looks like America” (not Obama’s Cabinet), as Bill Clinton has put it. But don’t think this “opportunity” for the few comes without strings to the many. As Army Col. Ellen Haring pointed out on “PBS NewsHour” last week, “With full rights come full responsibilities.”
And then what? Will gender-neutral raw recruits soon be brawling outside the bar (with the man “beating the snot” out of the woman, as one Iraq veteran recently suggested to me in an email)? Will gender-neutral male soldiers be trained out of their protective instinct toward women? Do we want to live with the results?
One senior officer with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan wrote this to me: “I would never want my mother, sisters, wife or daughter to have to experience the ravages of combat or, worse, become a prisoner of war. It goes against every fiber of my being.”
Yesterday’s man. For a better tomorrow, we need more like him.
Here’s a sad old English verse by that prolific poet Anonymous:
A girl in the Army
Longed for a baby
She took her father’s greyhound
And laid it in the cradle
“Long legs hast thou
And were it not for thy cold snout
I’d kiss thee, now-now!”
It is a thing passing strange that many – a big majority – of the successful Silicon Valley billionaires, who achieved what they did precisely because their inventiveness and enterprise were nurtured by capitalism and freedom, vote for socialism with its restrictions and regulations, its discouragement of individual effort, its confiscation of wealth by punitive taxation, its infertility for innovation. The same could be said of the elites of the east coast, and wherever else the children of Liberty have grown to despise her.
How explain the cognitive dissonance?
Victor Davis Hanson explores the contradictions that are writ so large in California. He writes at PJ Media:
We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.
The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is … how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?
California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm.
Which is to say, the melting-pot, that worked so well for a few hundred years.
Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.
Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not. …
There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.
Their California is long gone … and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.
Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle … and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 … the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. …
Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million. …
And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.
The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?
How, then, does California continue? Read on, but in a nutshell, natural and inherited wealth are so great on the coast that a destructive state government must work overtime to ruin what others wrought. …
Somehow, in just thirty years we created obstacles to public learning that produce results approaching the two-century horrific legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. About half the resources of the California State University system are devoted to remedial schooling for underperforming high school students (well over half who enter take remediation courses; half don’t graduate even in six years; and well over half have sizable financial aid). … The majority of the once-vaunted upper-tier University of California campuses now resemble second-tier CSU of old. Yet I think a Fresno State graduate of 1965 was far better educated than a UC Irvine or UC Santa Cruz student of today.
The state’s wealthiest and best-prepared students are perhaps only well-taught at its elite schools — the two UC campuses at Berkeley and UCLA, Stanford, Caltech, USC, Pepperdine, or Santa Clara — while the poorer but still serious students increasingly enroll in the new private online and tech schools that sprout up around failed CSU campuses. …
The coastal elites unite politically with the interior poor … Along the coast, elites have harvested well California’s natural and acquired wealth. I’ll again just toss out a few brands; you can imagine the lucre and jobs that are generated from Santa Rosa to San Diego: Apple, Chevron, Disney, DreamWorks, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hollywood, Napa Valley, Oracle, PG&E, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Wells Fargo, the ports of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland.
So let us not speak of California decline, but of California’s decline and another California boom — one of 6% unemployment and another of 16%, one of $100,000 per capita income and another of $15,000, one of cottages sold on the first day on the market in Newport and another of vacant McMansions molding away in Stockton.
Success continues on the coast and is managed by very wealthy and mostly liberal residents of the sprawl that surrounds Los Angeles and San Francisco. For the five million or so who are enriched in enterprise zones like these — and there are thousands more spin-off and smaller such companies — life is pretty good if you keep your household small, inherited a house, or make enough money to buy something at about $500 to $1,000 dollars a square foot. In Selma, new 1800 sq. foot homes sell for $140,000; in Palo Alto, dollhouses go for $1.5 million. …
Coastal folk seem to view high taxes like Mafia protection money, but in the sense of psychological satisfaction and freedom from guilt. For now, sales, gas, and income taxes are not so high as to matter to those who voted for them, at least in view of the social and political advantages of coastal living: the beautiful weather, the Pacific panorama, the hip culture …
To the extent that “they” (i.e. you, reader) exist, the distant others are nebulous, rarely thought-about souls. Perhaps they really do enjoy polluting the planet as they generate the electricity, pipe in the natural gas and oil, refine the fuels, grow the food, and cut and haul the lumber that gives a Palo Alto or Santa Barbara the stuff to go on …
One of the questions I always hear from strangers: “Why doesn’t everyone leave?” The answer is simple: for the coastal overdogs there is nowhere else where the money is as good and the weather and scenery are as enjoyable. [But] yes, the middle-class small farmers, hardware-store owners, company retirees, and electricians are leaving in droves.
The Latino population, I would imagine, would be in revolt over the elitist nature of California politics. Of course, thousands of second-generation Latinos have become public employees, from teachers to DMV clerks, and understandably so vote a straight Democrat-public union ticket. But millions are not working for the state, and they suffer dramatically from the ruling Bay Area left-wing political agenda of regulations, green quackery, and legal gymnastics. It is not just that the foreign national illegally entered the U.S. from Oaxaca, but entered the most complex, over-regulated, over-taxed, and over-lawyered state in the nation — hence the disconnects.
Take energy. California may have reserves of 35 billion barrels of oil in its newly discovered shale formations, and even more natural gas — the best way to provide clean electricity and, perhaps soon, transportation energy for the state. Tens of thousands of young Latino immigrants — given that agriculture is increasingly mechanizing, construction is flat, and the state is broke — could be making high wages from Salinas to Paso Robles, and along the I-5 corridor, if fracking and horizontal drilling took off. Even more jobs could accrue in subsidiary construction and trucking. And for a cynic, billions of dollars in state energy taxes from gas and oil revenue would ensure that the state’s generous handouts would be funded for a generation. Did someone forget that the California boom of the 1930s and 1940s was fueled by cheap, in-state oil?
More importantly, our power companies have the highest energy bills in the nation, given all sorts of green and redistributionist mandates. The costs fall most heavily on the cold winter/hot summer interior residents, who are the poorest in the state. Those who insist that the utilities invest in costly alternate energy and other green fantasies live mostly in 65-70 degree coastal weather year-round and enjoy low power bills.
Yet the liberal coastal political lock-hold on the state continues.
No one in San Joaquin or Tranquility cares about a baitfish in the delta, but they do vote nonetheless for the elites who divert water from farms, put the poor farm worker out of work, and feel good about saving the smelt in the process. …
How then does the California coalition work, and in some sense work so well?
The coastal elite offers an agenda for more welfare funding, scholarships, class warfare, public unions, diversity, affirmative action, open borders, and amnesty, and in response the interior voter signs off on everything from gay marriage, solar and wind subsidies, gun restrictions, mass transit schemes, and the entire progressive tax-and-spend agenda. Most of this coalition never much sees one another.
The young Mountain View programmer keeps clear of Woodlake. He even has only a vague idea of what life is like for those who live in nearby Redwood City and make his arugula salad at the hip pasta bar in Palo Alto. In turn, the Redwood City dishwasher has an equally murky sense that the wealthy kid who works at Google does not wish to deport his uncle — and so the two become unspoken political partners of sorts. One of the state’s wealthiest cities, a gated Atherton, is juxtaposed to one of its most Latinate communities, Redwood City. But they might as well be Mercury and Pluto. Or should we applaud that the owner of the manor and his grass cutter vote identically — and against the interests of the guy who sold and serviced the Honda lawn mower? …
The liberal aristocracy is as class-bound as the old Republican blue-stockings, but saved from populist ostracism by what I have called the “hip” exemption — liberalism’s new veneer that allows one to be both consumer and critic of the Westernized good life, to praise the people and to stay as far away from them as possible.
California is a tired idea.
Is America a tired idea? Are Americans becoming tired of the idea on which America was founded - liberty itself? Do they really want a different America, a country more like socialist Europe? Or are they just blind to where their votes are taking them?
“Justice is essentially an attribute of individual human action. A state of affairs cannot be either just or unjust.”
Friedrich Hayek’s own words. Here is the great economist of the Austrian School saying them in contradiction to John Rawls in an interview with James Buchanan.
This fascinating article is from Canada Free Press, by Kelly O’Connell:
In Honduras, a novel undertaking has been constructed—private cities whose purpose is to maximize safety and happiness (also referred to as “Free Cities”, “Charter Cities”, “Model Cities”, or in Spanish, “RED—Regiones Especiales de Desarollo”, and “Ciudades Modelo”.). This idea is a capitalist’s dream, but a liberal’s nightmare. And in a most fascinating manner, the idea of a privately owned commons has brought to the surface the multifarious contradictions of the modern age—with our continual demand for “liberty” while the deified state grows into a malignant colossus. …
The full 18-member Honduran Supreme Court must still rule on President Lorbo’s agreement. But even if the idea does die in Honduras, private cities—like those modeled in early colonial America, Singapore and India’s old British empire, are still an option for virtuous, libertarian minded souls. …
The real questions raised by the rise of private cities is what is the nature of the city, man, law and moral authority. Specifically, what is the meaning of law and the state? Further, what gives a country moral authority in which to erect statutes, establish courts, prisons and pass and enforce sentences? …
The idea — a city built by private funds, with rules not derived from a state legislature, but the settlement’s founders. Add to that a private security force and strong walls. And so a libertarian entrepreneur answered the call for action:
Last Tuesday, the government signed an agreement with private investors led by Michael Strong—a libertarian entrepreneur and close associate of Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey—to construct a city-from-scratch in one of at least three special development regions (“las Regiones Especiales de Desarrollo” or “REDs”) scattered around the country. REDs possess the legal right to establish—or outsource to foreign governments and companies as necessary—their own hospitals [for profit], schools, judges, and even police, all independent of Honduran law. …
The REDs are the brainchild of Paul Romer, the New York University economist who has proposed building “charter cities” as a solution to endemic poverty. Romer believes that importing sound laws and policies into small corners of badly run countries will help leaders reform their governments from the inside-out. Honduras certainly qualifies—the original banana republic is still grappling with the political fallout of a 2009 coup while cocaine traffickers have pushed its murder rate to the highest in the world.
In early 2011, aides to Honduran president Porfirio Lobo invited Romer to the capital of Tegucigalpa to make his case to Congress. Within weeks, Congress passed a constitutional amendment granting Lobo’s government the power to create and administer the REDs.
Is it inherently immoral for private citizens to buy land, recruit residents, write their own laws, and then begin operating as a franchise community? If so, why? After all, what is it that makes a city, state or country legitimate? On the alternative, given the socialist direction many countries in the West are following, is it possible that only a self-derived city could chart a course against the political grain here? Or does mankind have to bow and scrape at the feet of the modern government colossus irrespective of whether it is just, moral, or effective—simply because it is called “government”? …
It’s certainly not “immoral” to establish a private city and “operate as a franchise community”. Morality doesn’t come into it.The first question is: will states, will governments – all to a greater or lesser extent in the hands of statists, liberals, collectivists – allow it? Will the Honduran Supreme Court allow it? We wait to see.
If private cities are inherently illegal, what about the foundations of America, which were done along these same lines? Interestingly enough, the debate in the American colonies was over whether an immoral government had the right to dictate to men how to act. The Founders decided it did not. So the question raised is whether immoral modern governments can derail moral private communities? After all, what is a government in the first place?
What would characterize a “moral government”? If by “moral” is meant “democratically elected and not oppressive”, aren’t all governments in actuality oppressive to some degree and so to some degree “immoral”? And if so, is it not because oppression is inherent in the nature of government and therefore inescapable?
We think that even if the answer to that question is yes, state government is nevertheless necessary – to uphold the rule of law and protect the nation from foreign invasion. Which is where we part company with libertarians (while remaining sympathetic to libertarianism) and anarchists.
Certain anarchists declare their position somewhat confusedly on this question:
A group of writers calling themselves Private-Property Anarchists have taken on [ie challenged] the theory that only the state possesses the inherent ability to organize a government or police its citizens. In a most obvious way this makes perfect sense since government will always be assembled from some group of residents who then decide upon rules, structure and powers of government. Why must we assume one group of freely assembled persons are more acceptable than another? Further, with the failure of much of modern government to address basic needs, how can anyone help but try to find a better way to manage the affairs of men? …
Several aspects of law should be mentioned on this issue. The first is that it is a fairly recent development for the state to own all official policing powers. According to Bruce Benson’s The Enterprise of Law, Justice Without the State, the Anglo-Saxon law was fixated on protecting property. Further, with the development of English lex mercatoria, ie mercantile law, much enforcement and many remedies to this day were created for enforcement by private parties.
In fact, even the criminal code was mainly enforced by private parties in the history of Anglo-Saxon law. … Englishmen also resisted public prosecution because “a private prosecutorial system was necessary to check the powers of the Crown. If not so limited the power of criminal prosecution could be used for politically oppressive purposes.”
The great fear in the liberal establishment is that a private system of government and law will be antinomian, that is—lawless and a mere tool for the use of greedy capitalists and megalomaniacs. Yet, the opposite is true. In fact, people allowed to build their own justice systems for their own small city-states are apt to be more motivated to create justice and order than those presiding over the legislatures of far-flung empires.
But to build a justice system, big or small, is to establish government.
American citizens are certainly not pleased with the state of our justice system. For example, Edward P. Stringham in Anarchy and the Law argues, if the American legal system and police powers are so successful, and in effect the only game in town, why do private police, i.e. security guards, outnumber official state police?
The debate over private cities begs the question of what is a government in the first place. Let’s remember Jefferson’s sublime words from the Declaration:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness….But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
If critics attack the lack of inherent authority of private communities, what is their basis? If a private city creates a better economy, a more just police and legal system, and a safer environment than public communities—is it not the latter which are truly the immoral and lawless frauds? We do well to ponder the foundation of legitimate, God-given government. This can only be established upon the rule of law, civil rights and respect by the leaders for the consent of the governed—or all we have left is an illegitimate tyranny.
While we cannot fathom what the meaning of “God-given” can be here (it makes no sense at all, even if everyone who founds a nation and everyone in power is a believer in “God”), we see the writer’s point. “Legitimacy” as commonly perceived on whatever grounds does not in itself make for good governance.
What we wonder is: How would the forum, whatever it is called, set up in a private city to “create a better economy” (ie let an economy run itself, we hope) and establish a police and legal system, be different from any other democratically elected government? If the people as a whole retain too much power over it, will it not soon fall apart under the pressures of conflicting expectations and demands? And if they retain too little, won’t it gather power, grow, and become the enemy of the people just as every government does, even those democratically elected?
We are all for private cities. We like the idea immensely. We would like to see them established. We would like to live in one. We don’t see why they shouldn’t be self-governing. We think the government that such property owners would elect stands a good chance of doing a better job of governing than existing governments do. But we do not think that, given the minimum power it would need to be effective, it would be immune from avarice for power, or resist the temptation to find a compelling necessity to expand and oppress. How to prevent that; how to limit the power of government, is the perpetual problem of all democracies, great and small.