Our Victimised State

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Two news items for today:

  • A recent study of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and its viewers reveals that “exposure to the show lowered trust in the media and the electoral process,” and thus Jon Stewarthad “detrimental effects, driving down support for political institutions and leaders.” 

    Another study reveals that the show is, horror of horrors, turning viewers off of both parties: “98% of the evaluations of Republicans prior to the election were negative, while 96% of the ‘reporting’ on Democrats was negative.”

    Voices of concern are being raised in the punditocracy; the Washington Post’s Richard Morin, for example, sounds the alarm:

    Jon Stewart and his hit Comedy Central cable show may be poisoning democracy. 

    Two political scientists found that young people who watch Stewart’s faux news program, “The Daily Show,” develop cynical views about politics and politicians that could lead them to just say no to voting.

    Oh nooooooooo!!! The end is nigh!

  • So Saudi princess Hana al-Jader is being deported, and forced to pay restitution, for keeping her domestic servants’ passports locked in a safe, thus preventing them from leaving, and forcing them to work for low pay. 

    Okay, fair enough. But what crimes was she officially charged with? Lying on immigration forms and harbouring aliens.

    In other words, her real crimes against these actual people had to be redescribed as fictional crimes against the state and its immigration laws in order for justice to be done.

    You see, it’s really the state that’s the aggrieved party in every crime. The human victims are merely occasions.

  •  


’Tis the Season for Anarchy in DC

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

To anyone planning to be at the APA in DC next week, don’t forget to check out the Molinari Society’s third annual Symposium:

Anarchy in DC GVIII-4. Friday, 29 December 2006, 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Molinari Society symposium: “Anarchist Perspectives”
Virginia Suite C (Lobby Level), Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road NW

Session 1, 11:15-12:15:
chair: Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)
speaker: Matthew MacKenzie (Muhlenberg College)
title: “Exploitation: A Dialectical Anarchist Perspective”
commentator: Charles W. Johnson (Molinari Institute)

Session 2, 12:15-1:15:
chair: Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)
speaker: Geoffrey Allan Plauché (Louisiana State University)
title: “On the Myth of the Founder-Legislator in Political Philosophy”
commentator: Charles W. Johnson (Molinari Institute)

Also, don’t miss the AAPSSfest on Jan Narveson (Thursday at 9) or the ARSfest on Tara Smith (Friday at 1:30). (But do miss Narveson’s other session, since, alas, it conflicts with the Molinarifest.) 

In other Molinari news, look for the first issue of The Industrial Radical some time next month.


Agora! Dialexis! Ia Ia Cthulhu fhtagn!

I’ve been looking for a label for my particular political orientation.

“Left-libertarian,” “left-Austrian,” and so forth are fine, and I happily use them, but each of them really designates a genus more than a species.

Chris Sciabarra and Sam Konkin horribly merged together by a tragic transporter accidentAgorist” is a bit more specific, but without a qualifier it seems both too narrow (suggesting a stricter adherence to orthodox Konkinism than I can really boast) and too broad (inasmuch as it doesn’t capture my particular quirk of seeking an integration of libertarianism with traditional lefty struggles against racism, patriarchy, and the like).

So, thought I, maybe Agorism plus a qualifier. But what? One possibility is “Left-Agorism,” but that doesn’t really specify what’s more lefty about it. Another possibility is “Dialectical Agorism,” which does suggest (at least for readers of Sciabarra) an integration of Agorism with broader concerns – but it doesn’t specify lefty concerns (even though “dialectical” does have a lefty flavour). Combining them would yield “Dialectical Left-Agorism” – admirably specific on the one hand, butt-ugly on the other.

Maybe I’ll split the difference by alternating between them. Okay, let it be so. Henceforth I am a Dialectical Agorist. That’s right, I said a Dialectical Left-Agorist.


The Doors of Perception

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Hmm, I see that former Congressman Bob Barr has been appointed to the Libertarian Party’s National Committee.

Now I’ll readily grant that Barr was one of the more libertarian-minded Republicans on the Hill; and maybe the LP should be congratulated for landing such a high-profile member.

Still, as I recall Barr was very strongly in favour of the war on drugs, and I’ve seen no mention of his having changed his mind on that issue. Does his “star power” really outweigh the downside of having a drug warrior on the LNC?


Combination Platter

Here’s a famous libertarian defending the right of workers to form unions and to strike:

Solidarity I do not understand … how one can say that a strike is criminal. If one man has the right to say to another: “I don’t want to work under such and such conditions,” two or three thousand men have the same right; they have the right to quit. This is a natural right, which should also be a legal right. … Does a man not have the right to refuse to sell his labor at a rate that does not suit him? … [A]n action that is innocent in itself is not criminal because it is multiplied by a certain number of men …. [My opponent] says: “The strike is harmful to the employer, since the absence of one or of several workers is troublesome for him. A strike has an adverse effect on his production, so that the strikers violate the freedom of the employer ….” … [Y]ou say that it is I who infringe on the employer’s freedom, because my refusal to work on his terms has an adverse effect on his production! Note that what you proclaim is nothing else than slavery. For what is a slave, if not a man forced by law to work under conditions that he rejects? … You ask that the law intervene because I violate the property rights of the employer; do you not see that, on the contrary, it is the employer who violates mine? If he has the law intervene to impose his will on me, where is freedom, where is equality?

Guess who said it.

And now here’s a different famous libertarian defending the right of businesses to combine to form trusts and cartels. So guess who said this:

[T]he right to cooperate is as unquestionable as the right to compete … [A]ny man or institution attempting to prohibit or restrict either, by legislative enactment or by any form of invasive force, is … an enemy of liberty …. [T]he trust, then, like every other industrial combination endeavoring to do collectively nothing but what each member of the combination rightfully may endeavor to do individually, is per se, an unimpeachable institution. To assail or control or deny this form of co-operation on the ground that it is itself a denial of competition is an absurdity. … The trust is a denial of competition in no other sense than that in which competition itself is a denial of competition. The trust denies competition only by producing and selling more cheaply than those outside of the trust can produce and sell; but in that sense every successful individual competitor also denies competition. … All of us, whether out of a trust or in it, have a right to deny competition by competing, but none of us, whether in a trust or out of it, have a right to deny competition by arbitrary decree, by interference with voluntary effort, by forcible suppression of initiative.

Notice that both passages employ essentially the same argument; that is, both appeal to the freedom to associate or not to associate, as well as to the principle that what people have a right to do singly they also have a right to do in combination.

But one author employs these arguments on behalf of the rights of labour, while the other author employs them on behalf of the rights of business. So which left-wing libertarian wrote the first passage, and which right-wing libertarian wrote the second?

Okay, guessing’s over; you can peek.

Here’s the defender of unions.

And here’s the defender of trusts.

I leave the moral as an exercise for the reader.


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