Archive for August, 2007|Monthly archive page

The evil Basil Zaharoff

“If the Lord God Jehovah had not created Basil Zaharoff, some novelist sooner or later would certainly have got around to the job. Indeed, it is by no means certain that Zaharoff, as we have him, is not the joint product of God and the fiction writers.”

[...] Zaharoff was the master of what one biographer has called the “principle of incitement,”under which war scares were managed, enemies created for nations,airplanes sold to one nation and antiaircraft guns to her neighbors, submarines to one and destroyers to another. He did what the cigarette people did, what the liquor industry, the beauty industry did — created a demand for his merchandise. The armament industry became a game of international politics, the arms salesman a diplomatic provocateur, the munitions magnates of all nations partners in cartels, combines, consolidations; exchanging plans, secrets, patents. He was the greatest of all the salesmen of death, and, as one commentator has observed, if you would see his monument, look about you at the military graveyards of Europe.

Read the rest of it here

War made easy (documentary)

There are no conspiracies (if this isn’t one)…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Whole Foods defends itself against the regulators

A fascinating document

http://www.wholefoods.com/blogs/jm/archives/2007/06/whole_foods_mar_1.html

Some background

Via the Mises blog.

The perils of the foreign job-bandits

“They’re coming here and they’ll steal all our jobs” — is one recurring mantra of our society.

Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek dispels it  in one paragraph:

Can someone explain to me the benefit to the American worker of competing with billions of high-powered machines — everything from state-of-the art computers to John Deere tractor-combines to big diesel rigs to pneumatic hammers? Is that a benefit for the American worker or for the multinational CEO and their owners of stock (mostly 15% of Americans)?

Neo Ludd is still haunting us, seems.

You can take people out of government’s reach

But you can’t take government out of the people.

Second Life. A market failure or not?

Second Life currently has 20 to 30 banks that operate essentially the same way Ginko did. That fact, plus the large losses associated with Ginko, has led to a growing call for even more transparency and regulation among SL residents.

This means the failure was inevitable. In the absence of a central banking system, fractionary reserve banks are inherently bankrupt. Good luck, I hope you don’t have your life savings invested.

The Power Of Nightmares (documentary)

Adam Curtis created an interesting documentary back in 2004 looking into the new changes in political discourse. If in the past a politician would promise better lives and livelyhoods, today’s public, disillusionised by the ever-failing promises, need new motivations to support politicians. This motivation comes from fear, “a politician is there to protect us from nightmares, and those with the greatest nightmares seem to win.”

Curtis also traces the development of neoconservativism and its ideological “sister” — radical islam. While naturally antagonistic (each needs the other to justify itself), there are paralleles between the two, manifested in the a desire to preserve a modern standard of living, but under stricter social control. Both see violence as the means to achieve their goal, both opposes individualism, both value traditions and social custom.

In other words, The Power of Nightmares

Part 1: Baby it’s cold outside

Part 2: The Phantom Victory

Part 3: The Shadows in the Cave

Study shows Iraquis may be human beings after all

A startling new development shows that, despite popular conceptions, the Iraquis may pose human-like and American-like emotion. More investigation is needed of this primitive tribe, so read it and make up your own mind:

A hypothesis

Dear soldiers, I don’t support you

This article is addressed to people who “support the troops” and hate me for my anti-troops, anti-war positions.

I GENERALLY CUSHION MY HATRED IN ORDER TO TRY TO PERSUADE PEOPLE. IN THIS ARTICLE, I DID NOT. YOU ARE WARNED.

***

My name is Francois Tremblay, and I am a Market Anarchist. I am against the war in Iraq. I am against all troops everywhere, and that includes “your troops.” If you are a soldier or plan to become one, then I despise and loathe you.

Here is why.

I do not believe that wearing a uniform with a flag patch on it turns a trained murderer into a saint, or even a moderately moral person. I believe that anyone, such as yourself, who supports murderers is a lunatic, who deserves to be treated with the same contempt than anyone who supports Timothy McVeigh, Dylan Klebold or Valery Fabrikant.

Is this offensive to you? I don’t doubt it. Many warmongers have similar thoughts about me. I understand why they feel the way they do. But now you understand why I feel the way I do.

I believe, as most reasonable people now do, that the recent wars waged by the US military were propped up by campaigns of lies and distortions, to serve the interests of the ruling class and its plutocracy. I do not believe they were initiated in the name of any principle of freedom.

I do not believe that killing innocent mothers and children helps “my freedom.” I believe that many Iraqi people hate “your troops” because they have killed their father, mother, sister or husband. I believe they are justified in killing “your troops.” You would not think ONE SECOND against doing the same if the situation was reversed and your loved ones were exterminated by an army of Arabs. You are a hypocrite, and I hate the ignorance that you represent.

Never, ever say that they are killing for me or in my name. I NEVER asked anyone to kill anyone else. You know what that’s called? Contract killing. In most civilized societies, you can be accused of homicide if you contract someone to kill someone else. If you pay taxes willingly and vote for a government that orders murders in foreign “countries,” you make yourself GUILTY of murder, and the blood of more than 70,000 civilians is equally on YOUR hands.

I do not believe that my freedom necessitates anyone killing anyone else in order to exist and flourish. As often as you talk about “freedom,” you have absolutely no idea what that word means, or how freedom is maintained. I believe that each individual is free if he is left alone and allowed to cooperate with others as he desires. Indeed, that is why I am a Market Anarchist: because I believe that no one should be coerced into living the way other people want him to live, or be forced to support things he finds downright immoral.

I believe that what YOU preach for is the exact opposite of freedom: a crushing police state, the elimination of dissent, war and mass murder. What YOU preach is that the individual must be shackled to the needs for flesh and blood money of the American Empire, not freedom. What YOU preach is that money must be extorted from everyone in order to finance wars many of them find grossly immoral. Freedom and strong government is a contradiction in terms.

I do not believe that “they’re just doing what they’re ordered to” is an adequate rationalization for surrendering one’s moral responsibility to a group of thugs. It did not justify what the Nazi SS officers did, it did not justify what the Soviet gulag administrators did, and it does not justify what “the troops” do. I believe that if you WILLINGLY SURRENDER your moral autonomy and your moral compass to someone else, as you do when you join a cult-like organization like the Army (using brainwashing techniques, based on dissociation from friends/family and slavish obedience, believing themselves to attain a superior state of being), then you are responsible for every single order you obey. I believe that every single death at the hands of US forces is a murder committed by a criminal.

I am not a hypocrite, because I acknowledge that the same goes for all deaths at the hands of Iraqi “insurgents.” They are murderers too, although I believe their cause is more just than yours. No warmonger has ever been able to explain to me how they are any different from the American Revolutionaries, who were also fanatic “insurgents” fighting against a brutal foreign government for independence and religious dominion. If you indict the Iraqi “insurgents,” then you also indict the very foundation of your political ideology.

I do not believe that any war is justified. I do not believe the American Civil War was justified, or that the War of Northern Aggression was justified, or that World War 2 was justified. I may believe that the cause of one of the parties was more just than the other, but that does not mean I support organized murder.

Note that I do believe in self-defense. I recognize the right of every individual to defend his life. However, I do not recognize the right of people representing States and armies to attack others because they wear an opposing uniform, or because they live in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, I do not recognize the nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki as anything but naked genocide.

I am not a pacifist, as I do not find a need to “believe in peace.” I simply believe that killing other people without rational motive (such as self-defense, or stopping a violent crime) is immoral and must be condemned. Since you also believe this (unless you are clinically insane), you are as much of a “pacifist” as I am, but unlike me you are also a disgusting hypocrite.

I do not believe that American Imperialism is justified, and I believe it is making the world LESS SAFE. I believe the US military and the political power of the US government to drag the leaders of other armies into its imperialist crusades are a threat to the people of the world, ESPECIALLY Americans and their freedoms. I believe that in any government program, murderous or not, the first and last victims are always the subjects of that government, and war is no different. In war, the first casualty is the truth: the second is civil liberties. As Joseph Sobran once wrote, “[w]ar is just another government program.”

I believe that anyone who preaches war and State power is anti-American in the most meaningful sense. Even though I was not born in the “correct” arbitrarily delimited piece of land, I consider myself more American than any warmonger will ever be. America was not born of “united states” or any State at all: it was born of people who saw injustice and wanted to be free. Powerful exploiters took that success and turned it into a virtually unlimited government, a mere twenty years afterwards. That is perhaps the greatest tragedy of modern times.

I am proud of the people in this society who preach and live freedom, as few of them are there are left. I spit in the face of those who preach against freedom and live like thralls.

Do I have any hope of convincing you of all this? Not really, no… at least, not any more than you do of convincing me that supporting organized murder is a good thing and that the government is our friend. But at least now you know what I believe in.

by Francois Tremblay

He’s five foot-two, and he’s six feet-four, …

Neocon take on liberty

From the LRC blog

perspectives.jpg

Speaks for itself, I’d say…

Risk, sex and airbags

 mimi_miyagi_campaign_poster.jpg

Aaron Kinney is amused (and rightly so) by the religious argument against sex education.

Christians and other self-repressed prudes constantly whine that teaching kids about “safe sex” will effectively tell the kids that it’s ok to be promiscuous whores. Now, I’ve always found this reasoning a little suspect. The first time I heard this line of arguing, I thought to myself, “Did Christians also complain during the introduction of air bags in automobiles that they would encourage reckless driving?”

However, the Christians may be partially correct.

The argument should not be that education “gives people ideas” but that the things thought to be wrong are not at all. Sex education may give ideas (though with the internet that makes for nothing) and they may become more promiscous, but then the assumption is that promiscuity is wrong in the first place.

The funny thing is the mention of airbags. Russ Roberts had an interesting interview with Sam Peltzman on regulation ( http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2006/11/peltzman_on_reg.html ) wherein they touch on the issue of airbags briefly. It seems that indeed, airbags are linked slightly more accidents. The incentive to drive safely diminishes and this seems to be empirically confirmed.

It doesn’t mean that an airbag is necessarily bad (a car owner has a right to protect himself), but that the heavy handed nature of state regulation always has unintended consequences. Had the state not mandated them, fewer road deaths would have occured.

Walter Block would jokingly say that the best and most efficient form of airbag would be an ice-pick. This sounds counter-intuitive, but just think how safely would people drive if even a slight bump could kill them. This, of course, is not a plea for regulation, but that we reconsider the idea that safety trumps everything. Because, after all, the safest kind of car is one that’s permanently sitting idle.

In conclusion, I oppose regulation along with public school sex education. Bureaucrats should have no power to decree “safety” in any area, including sex.

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