Tag Archives | Left-Libertarian

Song of the Variable Time-Unit, 12/8/18

Barbara, with an intense, savage cover of “Liberté” in 1959:

For any non-francophones out there, the song concerns martyrs who have died for liberty. The song can be seen as either a fierce celebration of liberty as a cause worth dying for, or else a bitter condemnation of liberty as a god that devours its worshippers – or, most probably, some of each. Like, you know, a love song.


Time Will Run Back

Under the category of “things I had no idea existed”: Pëtr Kropotkin’s daughter, Princess Alexandra Kropotkin, interviewed by Henry Hazlitt and William Bradford Huie on CBS television in 1951 (the presenter is Frank Knight, but not that Frank Knight).

Her father is described as having been exiled from Tsarist Russia for his liberal views, which is quite right if by “was exiled” you mean “escaped,” and by “liberal” you mean “anarcho-communist.” This is a very anti-Red program, and you can tell they didn’t want to cause grievous mental confusion to the Great American Public. (Evening, all!)

(Does Huie actually say that “in America … nobody is afraid of a policeman”? Yes, he does. Preach it, white boy!)

Video footage exists of père Kropotkin himself, though it is not exactly extensive:


Still Not Voting

Two years ago to the day, I wrote this piece on voting, winding up with: “And that’s why I’ll be boycotting the vote this Tuesday.”

Looking it over today, I don’t see anything I disagree with. Hence I’ll be sitting this election out too.

Mind you, I hope the Democrats end up with enough seats to stymie Trump. Until we can manage to dissolve government in the economic organism, divided government is second best, especially when the president is unusually bad. All the same, for the reasons I explain in the linked post, I think I make a greater contribution to the public good by not voting than by voting for the lesser evil.


Home, Home, Home From the Sea

I’m back from the Alabama Philosophical Society annual conference – the first time in three years that I’ve been able to make it back there. The forecast was for rain all weekend, but happily, while there was heavy rain on the drive down and light rain on the drive back, the weather in Pensacola was fair and sunny.

I gave a paper on labour exploitation from a left-libertarian perspective. I got to hang out with my friend Irfan Khawaja, whom I haven’t seen in quite a few years; he was there to give a paper on the ethics of voting. Irfan and I chatted on such subjects as “Randians be crazy,” “libertarians be crazy,” “cops be crazy,” und so weiter.

Roderick T. Long and Irfan Khawaja - photo credit Irfan Khawaja

Roderick T. Long and Irfan Khawaja – photo credit Irfan Khawaja


Reign of Fire

[cross-posted at C4SS and BHL]

Are the wildfires that have been devastating California a gift from government? So argues William Finnegan in a recent article, “California Burning.”

According to Finnegan, the seeds of disaster were planted when the mission of the U.S. Forest Service was expanded in the early decades of the 20th century:

The Forest Service, no longer just a land steward, became the federal fire department for the nation’s wildlands. Its policy was total suppression of fires …. Some experienced foresters saw problems with this policy. It spoke soothingly to public fears, but periodic lightning-strike fires are an important feature of many ecosystems, particularly in the American West. Some “light burning,” they suggested, would at least be needed to prevent major fires. William Greeley, the chief of the Forest Service in the 1920s, dismissed this idea as “Paiute forestry.”

Finnegan explains the “Paiute” reference:

Native Americans had used seasonal burning for many purposes, including hunting, clearing trails, managing crops, stimulating new plant growth, and fireproofing areas around their settlements. The North American “wilderness” encountered by white explorers and early settlers was in many cases already a heavily managed, deliberately diversified landscape.

(These facts incidentally give the lie to the common notion that American indigenous peoples were not entitled to property claims to their lands because they had not engaged in sufficiently transformative labour upon them.)

William Greeley

William Greeley

Greeley’s sneering dismissal of “Paiute forestry” was ill-placed. As Finnegan reports:

The total suppression policy of the Forest Service and its allies (the National Park Service, for instance) was exceptionally successful, reducing burned acreage by 90 percent, and thus remaking the landscape again – creating what Paul Hessburg, a research ecologist at the Forest Service, calls an “epidemic of trees.”

Preserving trees was not, however, the goal of the Forest Service, which worked closely with timber companies to clear-cut enormous swaths of old-growth forest. (Greeley, when he left public service, joined the timber barons.) The idea was to harvest the old trees and replace them with more efficiently managed and profitable forests. This created a dramatically more flammable landscape.

In other words, an alliance between big business and big government is responsible for rendering America’s wilderness areas exceptionally vulnerable to massive wildfires.


Back in Black

Recently while reading Bob Black’s 1997 book Anarchy After Leftism, I was startled to find a citation to Mary Ruwart’s article “Keeping Our Freedom in an Unfree World,” which appeared in the Spring 1996 issue of Formulations, a periodical I edited for the Free Nation Foundation. (The bibliography calls her “Ruhart” [p. 166], but the reference in the main text [p. 73] gets it right.) I had no idea that we were on Black’s radar; I wonder how he came across us?


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