Tag Archives | Anarchy

Frodo Shrugged

[cross-posted at facebook]

September 2nd is the day that Atlas Shrugged begins. (We’re shown Eddie Willers seeing the date on a gigantic calendar in the first chapter. Several other important events in the novel happen on that date as well.)

September 22nd is the day that Lord of the Rings “officially” begins. (In fact we’re shown a few scenes from the days of preparation leading up to Bilbo’s birthday party, but it’s become customary to say that LOTR begins on that date.)

LOTR and Atlas are similar in their subversion of expectations. [SPOILER ALERT for both books.] LOTR is about a quest concerning a magical object that brings the wearer great power; but the goal of the quest is not to obtain the object but to destroy it. The climax of Atlas involves the villains torturing their hero; but their goal is not to get him to submit to them, but rather to get him to agree to become their dictator.

In short, both books are about the refusal of power.

Both books also arguably owe a debt to Platos Republic. In both LOTR and the Republic, a ring that grants its wearer invisibility but tends to corrupt its wearer is used as a metaphor for political power. But Plato’s and Tolkien’s solutions are different; in Plato we’re told that only the wise, the philosopher-kings, can be trusted with the ring; but in Tolkien we’re told that no one can be trusted with it and that the best course is to destroy it – a much more anarchistic moral (appropriately enough for an author who wrote “My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy …. the most improper job of any man, even saints … is bossing other men”). Moreover, for Tolkien, if someone has to be trusted with the ring temporarily, it is safer in the hands of hobbits (corresponding to the craftsmen, the lowest and least trusted class in the Republic) rather than in those of wizards or kings.

As for the connection between Atlas and Plato’s Republic, I’ve written about that in Ed Younkins’ anthology Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion. Here’s the piece.


Groundwork Books!

[cross-posted at POT and facebook]

Continuing the San Diego bookstores series, I chat with Jack Ran of the Groundwork Book Collective, a radical left-wing bookstore on the campus of UCSD. Topics include running a bookstore as an egalitarian collective; participating in wildcat strikes; surviving arson attacks; the dynamics of anarchist/Marxist cooperation; conflicts with the university administration; what campus leftists owe to Donald Trump; and the joys of reading Proudhon, Kevin Carson, and Shawn Wilbur.

If I seem a little sleepy during the video, it’s because I’d gotten very little sleep the night before. I blame capitalism.


The Long Arm of the Law Merchant

[cross-posted at POT and facebook]

In my latest Agoric Café video, I chat with economist Bruce L. Benson about polycentric mercantile law in medieval Europe and among the Plains Indians; whether private law can work outside of small homogeneous communities; causation vs. correlation in the gun control debate; the perils of scissors-and-paste history; the abolition of criminal law; the incentival perversities of the reservation system; the inevitability of the state; and what intellectual debt he owes to the u.s. military.


Free-Market Radical Leftism: Czech It Out

[cross-posted at POT]

The next best thing to giving a libertarian talk in Prague is giving a libertarian talk to Prague. Although if Aristotle is right about the locus of causal action being in the recipient rather than the agent, perhaps this counts as a talk in Prague after all.


Tomfoolery in the Overhead Compartment

[cross-posted at POT]

The Agoric Cafe is serving once again!

In my latest video, I chat with globetrotting, gunslinging, contraband-smuggling libertarian scholar Tom G. Palmer on the legitimacy of self-defense; the militarisation of police; prison abolitionism; the wars on drugs, guns, and gays; the economics and ethics of bounty hunting; the French liberal demystification of the state; lawlessness vs. anarchy; the perversities of the FDA and CDC; Afghan libertarianism; hatred as a treacherous muse; how to sneak a photocopy machine into the Soviet bloc; and the height of the sky.


Virtual Molinari Society Panel on Rights: The Reboot

[cross-posted at POT]

This coming Monday, April 5th, the Molinari Society will be holding its mostly-annual Pacific Symposium in conjunction with the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association (5-10 April) via Zoom.

This panel has some overlap, both in personnel and in content, with the one we did in January for the Eastern APA, but it’s not identical.

Only those who cough up the hefty registration fee will be able to access the session, so no chance of free-riding this time around (the APA’s decision, definitely not ours; the APA is both pragmatically and morally confused about the costs and benefits of allowing free-riding at its conferences, but that’s another story). But there’s a substantial student discount, verb. sap. Anyway, here’s the schedule info:

Molinari Society symposium:
Radical Rights Theory

G2A. Monday, 5 April 2021, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Pacific time

chair:
     Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)

presenters:
     Jesse Spafford (The Graduate Center, CUNY), “You Own Yourself and Nothing Else: A Radical Left-Libertarian Solution to the Self-Ownership Thesis’ Pollution Problem
     Jason Lee Byas (University of Michigan), “Stolen Bikes & Broken Bones: Restitution as Defense
     Zachary Woodman (Western Michigan University), “Extended Cognition as Property Acquisition
     Gary Chartier (La Sierra University), “Natural Law and Socioeconomic Rights
     Cory Massimino (Center for a Stateless Society), “Two Cheers for Rothbardianism
     Roderick T. Long (Auburn University), “How to Have Your No-Proviso Lockeanism and Eat It Too

See the full schedule here.

I’ll be chairing the panel from the road, so let’s hope my motel’s wifi is up to the challenge. Still, can’t be worse than the Eastern session, when my power actually went out in the middle of it.


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