Tag Archives | Left-Libertarian

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?


Five-Year Plan

“I start with the individual and strike at the state. … Down with the state in all its forms and incarnations: the state of yesterday, of today, and of tomorrow; the bourgeois state and the socialist state.”
     — Benito Mussolini, 1920

“Our formula is this: Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, no one against the state.”
     — Benito Mussolini, 1925

Quotations to keep in mind when alt-right types claim to be libertarians ….
 
 
[Sources: First quotation, James H. Meisel, “A Premature Fascist? – Sorel and Mussolini,” p. 16; Western Political Quarterly 3.1 (March 1950), pp. 14-27; second quotation, David D. Roberts, The Totalitarian Experiment in Twentieth-Century Europe: Understanding the Poverty of Great Politics (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. 272.]


Libertopia Plus a Mountain Excursion

The view from Cannonball

The view from Cannonball (click to enlarge)

As I only now belatedly report, I attended the revived Libertopia conference in San Diego, 3-6 May. As always it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed getting to hang out with Gary Chartier and Jeff Tucker. It was also fun visiting some of my favourite San Diego eateries, such as Berta’s and Cannonball.

The talk I gave on Hoppe and the Alt-Right will be posted as soon as I have time to finish tweaking it.

Past glory (from 2012)

Past glory (from 2012)

I’m sad to report that all is not completely well with our beloved Libertopia. The turnout was much lower than usual, and I suspect part of the blame lies with inadequate publicity. Several people one would expect to have been clued in told me they weren’t even aware the event was happening. (The hiccough with the conference originally being announced for a different date and venue surely didn’t help either.) Another cause perhaps lies in the much higher price for an exhibitor’s booth ($1000, up from $400 in previous years); this price hike meant that this is the first Libertopia at which Molinari/C4SS didn’t have a booth, and I’m sure the price kept many other exhibitors away as well. There was also a fair bit of disorganisation; apparently some speakers were comped and some weren’t and it’s not clear what the intended policy was supposed to be. Also, times and venues of speakers were switched without warning at the last minute, so that I missed several talks I’d intended to see. Something really needs to happen to rescue this conference, or we may not see another one for a while.

One of the many attractive features of San Diego is that if you for some reason get sick of being in a cosmopolitan city on the coast, an hour’s drive or so will take you to the mountains or the desert. After the conference I took a free day to head out to the old (but touristed-up) mining town of Julian (check out the town’s webcam), where I haven’t been since childhood. While Julian is a pleasant enough destination (with a nice bookstore), the real point of the trip is the scenery on the way. I recommend doubling the scenery by taking the southern loop there and the northern loop back. For best results, go on a sunny day.

Julian Scenic Drive Instructions:

Southern loop: San Diego to Julian:

1. From San Diego, take I-8 East (a.k.a. the Kumeyaay Highway) for about 40 miles.

2. Take Exit 40 (the sign reads “79 / Descansa / Japatal Valley Rd.”), and after exiting, turn left onto 79 N.

3. Take 79 N for about 20 miles, enjoying the views; you’re in the Cuyamaca Mountains now.

4. Brief recommended scenic detour: On the right you’ll see a sign announcing a “Vista Point.” Take a right onto this short road to Desert View Park, from which (as you might guess) you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the Anza Borrego Desert far below.

5. Get back on the main road and take 79 N for another three miles or so. Welcome to Julian! Have some lunch. Check out that bookstore (closed Mondays, sorry).

Northern loop: Julian to San Diego :

1. You are probably on either Main Street or Washington Street; their intersection is the center of town. From that intersection, take Washington St. in a southwesterly or downhill direction; the signs should assure you that you’re on 78 W and 79 N.

2. Brief recommended scenic detour: After about a mile on 78 W / 79 N, you’ll see Pine Hills Road on your left. Take it.
After a couple of miles (passing and ignoring Deer Park Road), turn left on Frisius Road.
After a mile and a half, turn left onto (the other end of) Deer Park Road.
Another couple of miles will take you back to Pine Hills Road; turn right and you’ll soon be back at 78 W / 79 N (turn left onto it).

3. Continue on 78 W / 79 N. In about six miles, at Santa Ysabel, 78 W and 79 N will part company; stick with 78 W.

4. In another sixteen miles, in Ramona, you have a choice between continuing on 78 W or taking 67 S – both scenic! One will take you to I-15 S and the other to I-8 W, either of which will get you back to San Diego (about 50 miles from Ramona).


Blast from the Past: 21 Years Ago

[cross-posted at BHL]

I see that a video has recently been posted on YouTube of me, Jacob Levy, David Bernstein, and Richard Geddes on a panel on race, class, and gender at an IHS conference at Dulles Airport in 1997. Buncha young punks.


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