Pons Asinorum

The Greek fascists who’ve been assaulting immigrants are also dimwitted enough to have adopted some rather self-defeating slogans:

The [fascist] protesters waved banners reading “Foreigners mean crime” and “We have become foreigners in our own country.”

I leave it to the reader to complete the syllogism.

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21 Responses to Pons Asinorum

  1. MBH May 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm #


    Sort-of separate note: I was wondering what your take was on this Olbermann segment.

    • Roderick May 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

      Agh! That’s six minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

      Olbermann’s attempt to smear secession as treason is pathetic.

      First: The Constitution defines treason as follows: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Thus secession does not count as treason.

      Second: Even if the Constitution did define secession as treason, it still wouldn’t be treason in fact — since, as Spooner explains:

      The monarchs and governments, from whom they choose to separate, attempt to stigmatize them as traitors. But they are not traitors in fact; inasmuch they betray, and break faith with, no one. Having pledged no faith, they break none. They are simply men, who, for reasons of their own – whether good or bad, wise or unwise, is immaterial – choose to exercise their natural right of dissolving their connexion with the governments under which they have lived. In doing this, they no more commit the crime of treason – which necessarily implies treachery, deceit, breach of faith – than a man commits treason when he chooses to leave a church, or any other voluntary association, with which he has been connected.

      Third: Even if secession were treason, that wouldn’t settle the question of whether it was wrong; sometimes betraying a person or institution is permissible or even obligatory. (Suppose you’d sworn loyalty and obedience to Adolf Hitler.) As Patrick Henry (probably) said: “If this be treason, make the most of it.” (Or to quote Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood: “You speak treason!” “Yes, fluently.”)

      Olbermann’s other arguments are equally silly:

      1. Olbermann focuses on all the benefits Texas gets from taxes, but he doesn’t mention anything about the taxes Texas pays. Is Texas really a net tax recipient? I have no idea; but if Olbermann thinks so, he should offer some evidence. (Incidentally, Olbermann’s argument here is remarkably similar to 1770s Tory arguments as to why it would be suicidal for the American colonies to secede from Britain.)

      2. Olbermann argues that when Mexicans became a majority in an independent Texas, they could vote to make Texas part of Mexico. So they could — but why would they? A lot of them came to Texas to escape Mexico’s economic and political system. And even if they did, anyone who didn’t like it should then, y’know, secede from Texas.

      3. The argument about sports franchises doesn’t merit a response.

      Of course most of the people Olbermann is criticising are indeed a bunch of statist jerks. But it’s not their (anyway mostly rhetorical) support for secession that makes them so.

      • MBH May 16, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

        6 minutes plus 15 seconds of advertisement.

      • MBH May 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

        I do agree wholeheartedly with all your points. But I also think there is a worthwhile nugget of truth in Olbermann’s rant. Secession through the political system is nonsense. It still involves coercive measures. The proposal is not, for instance, that all Texans who dissent can absolve ties; it’s that all Texans must absolve ties. Fascism as secession.

        • Roderick May 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

          Right. But forbidding secession has the same problem. The only solution is a universal right to secession — so Texas can secede from the u.s., but any part of Texas that wants to stay with the u.s. can secede from Texas, and so on.

          Still, between allowing (less-than-universal) secession and forbidding it, allowing it seems like the lesser evil. Although Aster will disagree with me, I think many small polities is better than one big one, both because it makes it harder for them to project a nasty foreign policy, and because the freedom to move from polity to polity serves, first, as a check on domestic tyranny, and second, as a competitive discovery process. (Of course things get more complicated when the many small states have strict border controls. But then, at least, when the Agorist Revolutionary Cadre infiltrates those states they’ll have a smaller apparatus to overthrow.)

        • MBH May 16, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

          Agreed. But, for me, Agorism–in the admittedly watered down form I’m understanding it–is only possible if Cognitive Imperialism is confronted directly. I think that process generates the most powerful defense force possible (and it doesn’t take a single physical weapon).

        • MBH May 16, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

          I’m going to take no response to mean that Agorism, for you, does mean physical weapons. I understand that doesn’t necessitate violence. But doesn’t that imply the threat of it? And if so, wouldn’t that undercut a good bit of the moral facts upon which Agorism is built?

        • Roderick May 16, 2009 at 11:19 pm #

          I’m going to take no response to mean that Agorism, for you, does mean physical weapons.

          I’m not sure by what inference rule you inferred that! And I didn’t realise you were meaning to ask a question.

          I’m not sure what it would mean for agorism to “mean” or “not mean” physical weapons.

          If the question is whether the agorist strategy for change is a nonviolent one, the answer is yes. Education, building alternative institutions, and when necessary, mass civil disobedience: tune in, turn on, drop out.

          If the question is whether agorism rejects the legitimacy of defensive force, the answer is no.

          (That’s the same pair of positions that Gandhi held, incidentally.)

          If the question is some third thing, what is it?

        • MBH May 16, 2009 at 11:34 pm #

          I’m not sure by what inference rule you inferred that!


          After being raised a neo-conservative and then seeing its destructiveness, I’m hypervigilant about avoiding violence.

          I’m very satisfied with the answer. Agorism = a form of satyagraha?

        • Roderick May 17, 2009 at 12:01 am #

          Incidentally, I draw some connections between Rand and satyagraha here.

          You might also be interested in Robert LeFevre, a libertarian theorist who held to a principled rejection of all violence, even defensive.

        • MBH May 17, 2009 at 1:08 am #

          “…passionate engagement with the world – but with an inner core of detachment.”

          I love that. To me, that bridges the One Big Self with the individual ego.

          Also read LeFevre’s Abstain from Beans. Funny. I always thought that meant something else. : )

        • Roderick May 17, 2009 at 1:50 am #

          Well, there’s actually a fair bit of dispute, both ancient and modern, as to what Empedocles and the Pythagoreans meant by it.

  2. Nick Manley May 16, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    Fascists are criminals?

    I agree…when they are seeking to establish the fascist polity.

  3. Robert Paul May 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    Well, who can argue with that?

    • Robert Paul May 16, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

      Damn, that comment was in response to some Russian spam, but it seems to have been deleted.

      • Roderick May 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

        Yeah, I deleted it. But I hereby confirm, for future historians, that there was some Russian spam here earlier.

  4. Robert Paul May 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

    To be fair, what if different protesters waved each of those banners? But yes, that was amusing.

    • Roderick May 16, 2009 at 6:52 pm #

      Well, since they’re fascists, they should regard themselves as mere cords in a great big bundle, and whatever banner one of them waves accordingly represents the Voice of the Bundle. Everything for the Bundle, nothing against the Bundle, nothing outside the Bundle!

      • Robert Paul May 16, 2009 at 7:26 pm #

        nothing outside the Bundle

        So, don’t they have to let foreigners in?

        • Roderick May 16, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

          Very clever, in your decadent liberal individualist way. But no, those outside our Bundle are nothing. Hail ants! I mean sticks!

    • Araglin May 18, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

      Another nit: Even if both banners were being waived by the same protester, the conclusion of this syllogism would only follow apodictically if the word ‘foreigners’ were univocal across the two sayings.

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