“Everyone Sang” by Siegfried Sassoon

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on–on–and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
-Siegfried Sassoon

How to Come Across as Economically Illiterate

1) Condemn “capitalism” without having at least some vague understanding of the differences between such things as laissez-faire principles, Keynesian theory, Marxism etc.

2) Assert that there is any remote semblance of a free market existing in large scale.

3) Assert that free market principles are to blame for any given economic problem. Disregard or outright ignore state intervention in markets, past or present while doing so.

4) Assert that shortages are necessarily the fault of those with “abundance”. See point 5.

5) Follow from the premise that wealth can only be extracted and not generated; that wealth accumulation occurs in a zero-sum-game scenario (as seen under a pie-chart model) regardless of perceived mutual benefit.

6) Assert that voluntary transactions are “exploitative” / justify using force against those engaging in voluntary transactions.

7) Assert that scarcity can somehow be eliminated. Rely on appeals to emotion to back your claims.

8) Ignore profit and loss scenarios when they don’t apply to monetary units under the preclusion that it is somehow a completely different system at work.

9) Assert that free market principles operate within a monopolistic fiat currency system. See point 10.

10) Disregard the effects of central banking or better yet, remain ignorant of what central banking is.

On Terms, Such as “Hierarchy”…

You will often hear leftists of the Chomsky type (the man who owns no cabins in Montana) dismiss all forms of hierarchy as non-voluntary or coercive or in some way or another deem to be unfavorable. It should be fair to address that upon the many applications “hierarchy” can have the anti-property rights “anarchists” seem to cherry pick this matter to suit their limited world view which is unfortunate. For the very outspoken proponents of these beliefs (and not necessarily the bulk who merely find it appealing), I think this largely seems to stem from a deep rooted envy and to be fair I often dislike using the term “envious” to label them because it is too dismissive. I wish to use it in an absolute and honest sense and not as a means in which to merely attack them. An example I draw from is Marx’ seeming inability to find proper employment due to his poor handwriting skills or his inability to keep his own living quarters in a clean and orderly fashion in light of his ability for economic reasoning (however flawed it may have been, his undertaking was certainly no small task, you have to grant him that). Again, I understand this may seem at first glance to be a mere cheap-shot but my analysis is not based on attempts to insult, troll or hurt the feelings of these sorts so much as to address some underlying psychological motivation that seems to be ever prevalent in the more outspoken and fervent members of this belief system. To be fair I don’t believe that this is always the case. From an Austrian economics perspective one could view the rationale and impulses that motivates someone towards this anti-propertarian, anti-hierarchical belief and easily deduce that at best it is rooted in envy and at worst misanthropy. I think by and large though, that this is not the case. I was, for a short period, an anti-propertarian myself many years ago after reading Proudhon – not because I was jealous that my employers had more things than I did or that I hated humanity – but that I felt the very act of having to show up for a job instead of being able to do whatever I wanted in some fanciful land of abundance was “not fair”. This “abundance” very much seemed to be my surroundings growing up an a largely economically free and prosperous society.

The trade guild is not coercing the apprentice, yet most would agree that there is a hierarchy of skill-sets involved.

At first glance one can safely presume that no man wishes to live in chains, to be enslaved or made to function in much of any capacity against one’s will. Often the critique the anti-propertarians make against employment under a capitalist system is that it is “exploitative”, largely without explaining in any detail how a better alternative for a proper maintenance of civilization would realistically come about. This isn’t to say that capitalism is a perfect system, but since the methods of anti-propertarianism have been tried in large and small scenarios in many instances without any great deal of success or even real prosperity it should be fair to deduce, as is commonly the claim, that anti-propertarianism is utopian and contrary to the aims of civilization, whether collectively or on an individual basis. I could suggest one do a quick Google search for “successful communes” or “successful examples of Marxism” but to be fair, these types generally don’t tend to honor the very notion of “success” in the first place or at best these types have the honesty to admit their idea of success is generally a very different one that the average person holds. Even in small scale egalitarian communes one wonders how easy it is to save for a retirement or medical emergency or heaven forbid a luxurious vacation. Without a division of labor in this system the task of cleaning the latrines (for example) becomes degraded, since after one person does a continually poor job, the motivation for the following performer is reduced etc. It would not be worth mentioning if these sorts of unfavorable outcomes were minimal. In light of the history of overall anti-propertarian experiments that we know of these unfavorable outcomes are a large part of why most of civilization knows to avoid this economic program. A similar contrary argument against a laissez-faire system is the condition of child labor or hazardous working conditions etc. but we see these sorts of episodes continue to be reduced as societies advance largely under a laissez-faire system (and also as if hazardous working conditions can ever be completely eliminated in the first place). The only other option is to outlaw such practices, doing little to address why they occur in the first place. The reliance on these types of claims is very telling of how the anti-propertarians seek not merely an intellectual or economic revolution but a revolution against the very human condition of personal development, intellectual growth, advancement of skill-sets or any other form of individual progress

It is another step altogether to imply that property ownership as we know it is a fundamentally flawed position and make no mistake that this is a view that has indeed been adopted by the more rigid “what’s mine is yours” sorts as witnessed under various anarcho-communist collectives where, taken to such extremes, they view the ideas of pair bonding as fundamentally hierarchical (typically from a patriarchal bent) and so believe in a sort of free-love perspective. One can only imagine the results of this outcome a few generations down the line had this sort of reasoning taken flight – even the Khmer Rouge attempted to decimate the established notion of family, so to pass this off as merely peripheral strikes me as quite dangerous. The larger mistake, though, is the assumption that the division of labor is fundamentally coercive and should be abandoned and I find that the anti-propertarian who seeks to disregard this on its face or downplay its overall implication is failing to be consistent in their application. Unfortunately many of these sorts seem to rely on giving themselves as many outs as possible should their consistency be called into question. The trade guild is not coercing the apprentice, yet most would agree that there is a hierarchy of skill-sets involved. The machinist is not coercing the boy who sweeps the shop floor when the boy looks to advance his skill-sets any more than the teacher does not coerce the student. Yet herein are all examples of hierarchy devoid of despotism of any sort.

ἀρχός (arkhos) Ancient Greek, Noun. 1. Ruler, leader, prince.

I’m no student of Ancient Greek but this definition strikes me as a political term far more than a socioeconomic one. Just sayin’.

Not The Only Ones Making Digs at Adam Curtis

Oh, this is just too rich! In my post on the Zeitgeist Movement I wrote a bit on Adam Curtis’s film “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” criticizing his portrayal of Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan’s philosophical views and their influence. The other day I came across this video poking a bit of fun at Curtis’s style and lack of objective (no pun intended) research. I haven’t seen much else in the way of criticism towards Curtis’s work so I thought I’d share, it’s pretty funny.

In Defense of Stefan Molynuex’s DeFOO Thing

In light of Stefan Molyneux’s recent announcement of his cancer diagnosis I thought it would be fair to offer a bit of defense of his views of DEFOOing (De- Family Of Origin). It is one of the most frequent objections I come across against him which basically entails leaving your family if you deem them abusive. On its face there seems to be nothing objectionable about this at all. It seems that the objections out there are from parents who have done nothing wrong to their children and are heartbroken that they have been ostracized. I haven’t done a vast amount of research into these matters but from what I’ve heard from Molyneux is that he is not so very hard-lined to propose that if one’s parents do not immediately adopt libertarian, non-aggression ethics they should be outright abandoned, and it would certainly be unreasonable to make such claims. The problem is that this seems to be the criticism most voraciously leveled against him. I’ve listened to quite a few of his podcasts, and though I don’t subscribe to his own philosophy of Universally Preferable Behavior, he does offer what I believe are quite valuable insights on parenting. Further listening to some of his call in Sunday shows and the personal accounts of some his younger listeners in regards to their home life is really enlightening in just how intolerable situations can be for young people.

My position in regards to this comes from that of experience. Not so much personal, thankfully, my parents have done what I consider their “fair share” of raising me, though I certainly wouldn’t say it was to the best of their ability nor that I should have left them at an even earlier age. I think it’s fair to have an honest acknowledgement of the parenting I’ve witnessed of others throughout my life, which at times was exponentially worse than what I went through. I think of the ways my parents lost their temper with me on nearly a daily basis and am just astonished at the idea of treating a child this way. Though I’m not a parent myself, I have had room-mates in the past whose children would visit on weekends and I have watched them from time to time when the parent had to run to the store etc. Even when the children get out of control (which is very rare, they were extremely well-mannered) my methods in addressing their behavior are based on just that; addressing their behavior and explaining why I don’t want them to act in such a way, explaining how the results of such behavior affects others around them etc. The notion of yelling at them, threatening them, or god forbid striking them is so fundamentally alien to me it turns my stomach when I look back at my rearing, and even worse the upbringing that some of my friends have had to go through. I don’t like to forgive my parents for the vicious things they did, I tend to get rather complacent to it, but it is interesting looking back.

I recall one time when I was around 15 I had a friend over who had a more affluent upbringing than I. Living with my father who was earning very little at the time, I often collected spare change and counted it on the kitchen table. That day my dad came home in a considerably foul mood and being the neat freak he was took the pile of change I had counted out and swept it onto the floor, yelling at me about the mess I had made (merely trying to scrape coins together to get some food etc.). Being as these sorts of things were rather norm for me at this point, I sheepishly cleaned up the coins from the floor; shoulders slumped at the work I had to do-over. I use this as an example of the rare times a friend or other person witnessed my parents behaving this way and is rather tame in contrast to some other occurrences, but having that rare outside perspective at the time can be quite eye-opening when one is so immersed in that type of relationship. My friend who was visiting at the time was just shocked, and for good reason.

After my dad left the house my friend asked, “He got mad because you were counting change on the kitchen table?”

“Yeah, he’s kinda a neat freak, that’s just how he gets sometimes.”

I look back at my then complacency towards the situation and think of this as a rather petty scenario contrasted with what some of my other friends have (quite literally) suffered at the hands of their parents, though I will respect their privacy and allow any personal accounts for commentary, if any readers wish to do so. It’s fair to assume that many of us have to some degree witnessed appalling or at best careless acts parents have committed when rearing children. Maybe if these people condemning Molyneux for recommending young people cut off all family ties with abusive members had listened to the personal experiences of some of the callers on his show they might have a better understanding of just how barbaric and unapologetic many, many parents can be (as well, Molyneux describes his own upbringing as particularity brutish, emotionally abusive and impoverished – I recall him once stating that his mother had so little money raising him as to not afford getting him a haircut and proceeded to cut his hair with pinking shears to save on the expense, and his utter embarrassment when attending school the next day). For someone who finds the idea of yelling at a child repulsive, I tend to think there is a fair amount of willful ignorance on the part of those who fail to even remotely conceptualize why a child or young adult would want to abandon their family, as examples of these sorts of poor parenting are rather prevalent if one cares to look.

Boyd Rice and Ayn Rand

Interesting how many of my friends that are into Boyd Rice are seemingly unfamiliar with Ayn Rand. While I’m not an Objectivist (that is a follower of Rand’s philosophy) nor am I into Rice’s mysticism or thinly veiled bigotry and thug-worship. Aside from those failings there are so many parallels with these two it’s interesting that he rarely seems to mention her, being that a lot of his quasi-philosophical ramblings appear to be very much influenced by her work and to a greater extent Max Stirner (and it should be noted that Anton LaVey was largely influenced by her as well – take from that what you wish). If you’re into Rice’s stuff and you are unfamiliar with Ayn Rand you are well advised to check out her work