Archive | February, 2011

Pyramid Power

Mubarak and Associates

Congratulations to the Egyptian people for successfully ousting their dictator – and through peaceful mass resistance, too. Several libertarians have pointed out how current events are vindicating the lessons of La Boétie (if it was La Boétie); see, e.g., Sheldon Richman here and Lew Rockwell here.

In my Molinari Symposium paper I wrote:

The inadequacy of violent means for the state’s maintenance might be doubted, of course. After all, while La Boétie blithely tells us, “Resolve to serve no more, and you are once freed,” this advice might seem to run up against a collective action problem: if only a few individuals withdraw their support while most of their fellow subjects maintain their compliance, the force of the state will ordinarily be quite sufficient to bring them in line. It might thus seem as though the state could compel all by force, simply by compelling each. … But the effectiveness of collective action problems by themselves in preventing mass disobedience is probably overstated; when the public mood is strong enough, collective-action constraints seem to melt away, as for example with mass resistance to the Ceauşescu regime in Romania in 1989.

We can now add another example: the Mubarak regime in Egypt in 2011. (We should also add the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, whose overthrow helped to inspire events in Egypt.)

Of course Egypt’s not out of the woods yet. While the people have in fact been maintaining order anarchistically for the past few weeks, they are not ideologically anarchist, do not yet understand the extent of their power and potential for autonomy, and so will doubtless end up supporting the replacement of the Mubarak regime with some other state regime – and what sort of regime they will get remains to be seen. But it is to be hoped that they have learned this much: if they tire of the new regime, they know how to get rid of it.

Let’s hope the rest of the world’s governed learns the same lesson.

The Lovely Bones

Viking skull

I see that Jesse Byock’s 1995 article “Egil’s Bones” is now online. (See also this earlier piece.) The article helps to support the historical reliability of the Icelandic sagas by showing how an aspect of Egil’s Saga once considered fanciful – the protagonist’s skull’s invulnerability to axe-blows – may have a basis in fact.

As of 2005, Byock was seeking Egil’s grave for confirmation; I’ve heard nothing since, though the project seems to be active.

The Sign of Three

I want to mention what some may consider a spoiler for Sherlock, so I’m putting it in the comments section.

Women in the TARDIS

River Song and Amy Pond

River Song and Amy Pond - the two most important female characters that Steven Moffat has created for DOCTOR WHO

Teresa Jusino loves the way Steven Moffat writes female characters for Doctor Who. (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.)

Nivair Gabriel hates the way Steven Moffat writes female characters for Doctor Who. (See here.)

Funny thing is, I’m largely in agreement with both Jusino and Gabriel; they just focus on different things. There are good and bad aspects of Moffat’s portrayal of women, and Jusino and Gabriel between them provide helpful analyses of each.

(In related news, I enjoyed Moffat’s satire on gender roles in his earlier series Coupling; but he clearly takes those roles to be largely innate whereas I take them to be largely constructed, so I actually enjoyed the humor in a somewhat different manner from what Moffat intended. It’s like the different ways one would enjoy Yes, Minister depending on whether one thought that a viable alternative to bureaucratic government was possible – laughing at foibles that one takes to be inevitable features of the human condition versus laughing at foibles in a way that can lead to discrediting and combating them.)

C4SS Appeal

Guest Blogs by Brad Spangler and Kevin Carson

C4SS 1st Quarter 2011 Fundraiser

by Brad Spangler

Dear Supporters of the Center for a Stateless Society,

I hope everybody had a happy holiday season and has been staying warm so far this Winter. Now it’s time to pay some bills …

Between now and March 31st, we hope to raise $8,000. That goal covers an unpaid balance of roughly $500 remaining for October of 2010 as well as $2500 in monthly expenses for November 2010, December 2010 and January 2011. Nearly all of our expenses are for our labor. The matter of whether or not to support us really boils down to a simple question: Do you think our folks deserve to get paid for what they do?

To donate, just click on the “Contribute!” button on the fundraising widget you’ll find on the right side of any page of our web site.

Please support our work. Tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day and we have people who haven’t been paid yet for work they did before Halloween of last year.

Brad Spangler,
Director, Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS)

First Quarter C4SS 2011 Fundraiser: Help!

by Kevin Carson

Brad Spangler announces a fundraiser to cover the operating expenses of Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) from late October 2010 through January 2011. The target is $8000 by March 31, which includes $500 for the remainder of October and $2500 per month for the period through the end of January.

As Director Brad Spangler points out, almost all of this goes toward paying the writers as well as the folks engaged in various support activities.


Under the heading of “support,” we can include – for example – Thomas Knapp, who’s compiled an email distribution list of thousands of newspapers grouped by country and by region of the United States. He distributes all of C4SS’s material every week and handles dealings with a whole buttload of op-ed editors, and has managed to regularly get C4SS material into a growing number of print outlets. I strongly suspect this entails a lot more than the twenty hours a week he’s budgeted for, at barely minimum wage.

For my part, I’ve asked Brad to reduce the request for January by $50 in order to accommodate a cutback in my research papers to two a year rather than four. And starting today, I’ll be cutting back my commentary by two pieces a week.

I’ve cut back in part because I find it difficult to come up with fresh ideas for three op-ed pieces a week.

But I’ve also been ruminating in recent months on the fact that our fundraisers have consistently fallen short of their goals, month after month, and we keep falling further and further behind in paying for operations. We’re three months behind in payments to our writers and support staff, and at the rate it’s been going we’ll keep falling further behind every month.

If contributors make it clear, month after month, that they don’t think it’s worthwhile to contribute the full amount of funding our operations, it seems to me that the only solution is to adjust our output downward to what people are willing to contribute. To quote Brad,

The matter of whether or not to support us really boils down to a simple question: Do you think our folks deserve to get paid for what they do?

…Tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day and we have people who haven’t been paid yet for work they did before Halloween of last year.

You can contribute by clicking on the fundraising widget on any page at

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