Tag Archives | Left-Libertarian

Veblen on Iceland

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

A friendly Icelander Check out Thorstein Veblen on Icelandic anarchy; conical hat tip to Joel Schlosberg, who sent it to me with the following note:

Here’s an interesting passage from Thorstein Veblen’s 1917 book An Inquiry Into The Nature Of Peace And The Terms Of Its Perpetuation, chapter 1, pp. 9-14 (available at Project Gutenberg at <http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/20694> – in fact, I came across this passage while proofing the book for PG at Distributed Proofreaders). Even though he’s hostile to it and sees it as a failure, he describes it pretty clearly – just to prove that Icelandic anarchy wasn’t the wishful thinking of modern anarcho-capitalists.


Legislator Cheney

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Dick Cheney’s claim that he is not part of the executive branch is silly, but his argument for that conclusion is worth addressing.

Dick Cheney Cheney claims that the Vice-Presidency is unique in embodying both executive and legislative functions (the latter being his Presidency of the Senate with the right to cast tie-breaking votes), thus belonging strictly to neither branch.

What’s wrong with this argument is that there’s nothing unique about the Vice-Presidency in this respect. The President, for example, has the right to veto legislation; why doesn’t that count as his likewise exercising a legislative function? The President also appoints the members of the Supreme Court; does this mean he exercises judicial functions too? Of course the Senate can nix the President’s judicial appointments (thus likewise exercising judicial functions?), as well as nixing, e.g., his Cabinet appointments (thus taking over executive functions?). Congress can also impeach the President (thereby intruding into both the executive and judicial spheres?). The Supreme Court for its part can strike down unconstitutional legislation (thus exercising a legislative function?). And so on. If the Vice-President is not part of the executive branch, then by the same logic the President is not part of the executive, Congress is not part of the legislative, and the Supreme Court is not part of the judicial. Which seems rather a reductio ad absurdum.

The point of all these overlapping exercises of powers is checks and balances, a concept with which Cheney is evidently unfamiliar. Each branch of government is given some voice in the operation of the other two, in order to prevent any one branch from exercising unchecked power. While the Constitution’s version of checks and balances is of course inferior to that found under anarchy, it’s still preferable to complete consolidation. Cheney is trying to use his particular example of overlap to frustrate checks and balances, thus turning it to the opposite of its actual function.


A Show of Hands

According to this guy who was on The Colbert Report tonight, straight men and gay women are more likely to haveMichelangelo's hands ring fingers longer than index fingers, while gay men and straight women are more likely to have index fingers longer than ring fingers. Result: I have gay hands!

Since, according to so many religious conservatives (see, e.g., here and here), we’re supposed to let our bodily parts define our moral obligations, does this mean I’m now morally obligated to become gay?


Spooner Article Resurrected

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power and Mises Blog]

Lysander Spooner was the foremost legal theorist of the 19th-century American individualist anarchist movement. His 1882 open letter to Senator Bayard is fairly well-known among Spooner fans; but an 1884 sequel, A Second Letter to Thomas F. Bayard, which originally Lysander Spooner appeared in Benjamin Tucker’s anarchist journal Liberty, is much more obscure; it was omitted (like most of Spooner’s periodical work) from the Collected Works, and indeed has never (so far as I can determine) been reprinted anywhere else. Now at last I am happy to announce that it is available in the Molinari Institute online library.

I can’t claim that this is one of Spooner’s more important works. Apart from a more than usually irascible tone, it contains little that isn’t already covered in the first letter, or still more fully in other works such as No Treason or Natural Law or the Letter to Grover Cleveland. But hey, it’s Spooner.

And speaking of material from Tucker’s Liberty, hurray for Shawn Wilbur! He’s been scanning issues of Liberty (including the one containing this Spooner piece) and placing the PDFs online. Check out what he’s got so far.


ALL You Can Hear, Part 2

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Alliance of the Libertarian Left Just finished up the aforementioned interview, and an audio file is already available for download here!

A couple of points: a) Shawn Wilbur’s call unfortunately somehow got lost, so it’s just Wally Conger, Brad Spangler, and me. b) I don’t agree with Wally and Brad about voting being a form of aggression, but I didn’t feel strongly enough about my heresy on that particular point to take up time over it; that’s why I didn’t pipe up with a dissenting comment.


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