Author Archive | Roderick

Red Hood

In “Robin Hood: Why Ayn Rand Got It Wrong,” Charles Burris writes that “[i]n one of the most memorable passages of her novel Atlas Shrugged [Rand] has one of her major characters, Ragnar Danneskjold [sic], condemn Robin Hood in the harshest and most vindictive manner.” But “Rand got it wrong,” says Burris, since in most versions of the legend “Robin and his band are not the proto-Marxist proletarian plunderers of the productive rich and despoilers of private property but are actually defenders of justice in property titles, the rule of law, and the non-aggression principle.”

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I suspect that Burris read Ragnar’s speech a bit too hastily, since a careful reading shows that Rand is well aware of the information that Burris thinks she missed. Rand has Ragnar explicitly acknowledge that in the original legend, Robin Hood “fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed.” Rand didn’t need Burris to tell her something so obvious. But, says Ragnar, this is nevertheless “not the meaning of the legend which has survived,” since the fact that Robin Hood is always described as a man who “robbed the rich and gave to the poor” shows that, whatever the details, the essence of the Robin Hood legend is his status as “the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights.”

Now I do think Rand is making a mistake here; but the mistake is not a simple one of ignorance about the Robin Hood legend. Rather, Rand’s mistake is one of assuming that most rich people in modern “capitalist” society are rich mainly through production rather than privilege, and so of assuming that resentment against the rich, in a modern context, is ipso facto resentment against productivity.

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The IRS Loves Anarchy!

The Molinari Institute is delighted to announce that it has been declared by the IRS to be a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organisation; hence donations to the Molinari Institute – and thus to the Institute’s media center, the Center for a Stateless Society – are tax-deductible.

To quote from the IRS’s determination letter, dated 2 April 2015:

We’re pleased to tell you we determined you’re exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3). Donors can deduct contributions they make to you under IRC section 170. You’re also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522. … We determined you’re a public charity under the IRC section [509(a)(2)].

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The mission of the Molinari Institute is to promote understanding of the philosophy of market anarchism as a sane, consensual alternative to the hypertrophic violence of the State. The Molinari Institute hosts an online open-access library of rare libertarian classics, including new translations of 19th-century French works, and publishes two periodicals: a magazine, The Industrial Radical, and an academic journal, the Molinari Review. The Molinari Society, a daughter organisation, hosts annual symposia at the Eastern and Pacific Divisions of the American Philosophical Association.

The Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS), an autonomous extension of the Molinari Institute, develops and publishes timely written commentary on current events, research pieces and other content from a market anarchist perspective. Each week the Center submits several op-ed pieces to thousands of newspapers and other media outlets globally, and has received about 2500 mainstream media pickups since 2010. The Center’s student affiliate network, the Students for a Stateless Society (S4SS), offers opportunities for campus outreach and activism.

Future projects for both the Institute and the Center include book publishing (both classic and original works), conferences, courses (online and otherwise), new translation projects, and media presentations.

Both the Institute and the Center are part of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, which opposes statism, militarism, cultural intolerance, and the prevailing corporatist capitalism falsely called a free market. The Alliance’s Distro, in partnership with the Institute and Center, produces and distributes zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation.

You can donate to support the work of the Molinari Institute here, and the work of the Center for a Stateless Society here.

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Pronoun Problem

From the Beverly Hills Hotel website:

Many of our bungalows have interesting histories as well: Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned with six of her eight husbands; Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich, among others, enjoyed them as well.

Okay, I know how they meant that to be read. But I like my reading better.

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In My Eyes Only

For a long time I’ve vaguely assumed that Elektra Natchios, a character introduced by Frank Miller during his run on the comic book Daredevil, was inspired by Melina Havelock, a character in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (played by Carole Bouquet).

I mean, they’re both Greek, they’re both assassins, they both use retro weapons, and they’re both avenging their parents’ murder. Each’s commitment to revenge puts her at odds with her nominally anti-revenge but kinda-hypocritical-on-the-subject male love interest and story protagonist. They look something alike (frankly more than comic-book Elektra and later movie-Elektra Jennifer Garner do). And Melina even compares herself explicitly to the original Greek mythological figure Elektra, an avenger-of-a-slain-father after whom Miller’s Elektra is evidently named.

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Alas for my theory, Miller’s Elektra made her first appearance six months before the Bond film was released. So Melina couldn’t have influenced Elektra; and given the timing, influence in the other direction isn’t feasible either. So it’s just a coincidence type thing deal. Drat!

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And Tell It Strong and Clear If He Has Not

Two Arthurian knights you never read about in grade school:

The African one, “black as pitch” but “naught unsightly,” and graced with “all that men would praise in a knight,” who fights Lancelot to a standstill, from the medieval Romance of Morien.

The female one, a “beautiful creature … raise[d] as a boy,” “conducting [her]self like a man,” and “of all the knights … most skillful with shield and lance,” who manages to outsmart Merlin, from the medieval Romance of Silence.

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