Divorcing Economy From State

This story isn’t getting much attention but the implications are profound. This shows clearly where the state is in principle most vulnerable. It also makes clear that that the crucial blows against the state will not be struck by ideological libertarians, but rather by businessman out to protect private property from the state.

Told you so: The Revolution Will Be All Business.

Announcing the No Treason Forum

I tend to discourage extended debates going back and forth on the blog, but now we have a forum appropriate for such discussions. Some have noticed the forum was in place, but for technical reasons I have not been promoting it’s use. That’s over, the forum is open.

Here is the first thread I’ve created for serious discussion. Have at it friends, or start your own threads.

Good News In What War?

Tim Starr recently offered some observations in these pages about the War on Terror. I’m unable to discern much good news in what Starr finds so pleasing, but more significantly I’m finding it difficult to discern the War of Terror itself.

First Starr points to an article in FrontPage Magazine which argues that the United States is not responsible for the terrorist actions of Osama Bin Laden. I don’t have any great problems with the argument, but it’s really more properly part of a war on the left than any war on terror. It’s clear that in the article the author is more interested in discrediting the left than in prosecuting a war on terror. Is this a rhetorical battle that needs to be won to facilitate a war on terror? No, the arguments being refuted here were completely ineffective in obstructing efforts to make war on Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen.

Next Starr applauds the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for holding that citizen Yaser Esam Hamdi can be held as an enemy combatant. The treatment of Hamdi certainly makes more sense than the treatment of John Walker Lindh; I’ve said all along that Lindh should be treated no differently from the other combatants he was captured with. Starr, on the other hand, wanted Lindh tried and executed for treason. Would he like to see Hamdi tried and executed on the same grounds? I don’t know of any arguments Starr made in Lindh’s case that shouldn’t apply equally to Hamdi. I think it’s clear to most people that Hamdi cannot be reasonably be thought a traitor, but what is the difference between the two cases? The difference is that Lindh was raised in America, which makes him a better example for whipping up patriotic fervor. But turning away from America, or even making war on it cannot make one a traitor unless we suppose a positive obligation of individual to state. As a libertarian I suppose nothing of the sort. The fact that these men are enemies of America doesn’t make them traitors. “America: Love it or leave it!”, the super-patriots used to say. Lindh left it; but now it’s clear that the collective doesn’t relinquish it’s claims on the loyalty of even those who leave. The bit of good news I see here is that Hamdi is being treated simply as an enemy combatant instead of as a traitor. Principled consistency would be even better news.

Tim Starr recently offered some observations in these pages about the War on Terror. I’m unable to discern much good news in what Starr finds so pleasing, but more significantly I’m finding it difficult to discern the War of Terror itself.

First Starr points to an article in FrontPage Magazine which argues that the United States is not responsible for the terrorist actions of Osama Bin Laden. I don’t have any great problems with the argument, but it’s really more properly part of a war on the left than any war on terror. It’s clear that in the article the author is more interested in discrediting the left than in prosecuting a war on terror. Is this a rhetorical battle that needs to be won to facilitate a war on terror? No, the arguments being refuted here were completely ineffective in obstructing efforts to make war on Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen.

Next Starr applauds the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for holding that citizen Yaser Esam Hamdi can be held as an enemy combatant. The treatment of Hamdi certainly makes more sense than the treatment of John Walker Lindh; I’ve said all along that Lindh should be treated no differently from the other combatants he was captured with. Starr, on the other hand, wanted Lindh tried and executed for treason. Would he like to see Hamdi tried and executed on the same grounds? I don’t know of any arguments Starr made in Lindh’s case that shouldn’t apply equally to Hamdi. I think it’s clear to most people that Hamdi cannot be reasonably be thought a traitor, but what is the difference between the two cases? The difference is that Lindh was raised in America, which makes him a better example for whipping up patriotic fervor. But turning away from America, or even making war on it cannot make one a traitor unless we suppose a positive obligation of individual to state. As a libertarian I suppose nothing of the sort. The fact that these men are enemies of America doesn’t make them traitors. “America: Love it or leave it!”, the super-patriots used to say. Lindh left it; but now it’s clear that the collective doesn’t relinquish it’s claims on the loyalty of even those who leave. The bit of good news I see here is that Hamdi is being treated simply as an enemy combatant instead of as a traitor. Principled consistency would be even better news.

But in this piece Starr ultimately focuses on Kenneth Pollack’s “The Threatening Storm”, which makes a case for invading Iraq. Starr is so enamored with Pollack’s analysis that he ends saying: “No one on either side of the debate about whether the US ought to invade Iraq or not can competently discuss the issue without being familiar with the arguments in Pollack’s book.”

I find this statement quite remarkable. I have not read “The Threatening Storm”, but I’ve read enough of what Kenneth Pollack has written to know this: He isn’t talking about any War on Terror. In “Next Stop Baghdad?” Pollack writes: “The hawks are wrong to think the problem is desperately urgent or connected to terrorism, but they are right to see the prospect of a nuclear-armed Saddam as so worrisome that it requires drastic action.” This explains why Starr offers a number of reasons for invading Iraq, but never touches on terrorism in this piece which is supposed to be about the War on Terror. This follows the line of the Bush administration which initially touted an invasion of Iraq as the second step in the war or terror, but now generally declines to argue for any connection between Iraq and terrorist acts against America. A dramatic bait-and-switch has taken place, the argument for invading Iraq is now made on entirely different grounds, grounds which libertarians ought to find highly dubious. 9/11 was an emergency in which we were all in principle directly threatened but Iraq is nothing of the sort. Framing it as part of a War on Terror falsely implies an emergency. Why should the United States invade Iraq? Starr says we should because it’s a humane option for the Iraqi people and because it will deter Iraq from aggressing against its neighbors. Well why shouldn’t a libertarian view this the same as any other collectivist project? Those may be desirable ends, but how can a libertarian ignore the means which will be used to achieve them? Starr seems clearly to be positively endorsing the use of the state to achieve these ends, and if that’s the case then why not endorse the use of the state to achieve any desirable ends?

I have some interest in reading Pollack’s book, he seems clear eyed enough and from what I have read I generally agree with him on the real threat Saddam Hussein poses to others. Hussein intends to use weapons of mass destruction to keep the United States out of his hair and to facilitate aggression against his neighbors. Pollack and Starr feel drastic action is required, but the question I have is: Required of whom? I reject out of hand Starr’s assertion that nobody can competently discuss the issue without having read Pollack’s book because I reject out of hand the statist principle Pollack surely endorses that such action can legitimately be required of me or anyone else. I agree with Starr in a more recent piece when he says that overthrowing the regime in Iraq is not aggression, in and of itself it is not. But a state war to achieve this end necessarily will entail aggression, right here at home.

Whatever his expertise, Pollack is functioning here as a public policy wonk, and public policy is a collectivist undertaking. I may find what he has to say interesting but I don’t need to consult policy wonks to reject collective public policy in principle.

Merry Christmas Mr. Lott

In The Trial of Lott, Lew Rockwell likens Trent Lott’s recent adventures to the trial of a political prisoner under Maoist Communism.

“No, there was one goal at the outset of Lott’s trial: extract a confession, an apology, and bring about what the Chinese communists called “rectification”: a visible sign that one accepts the reality of one’s ideological apostasy, and declares publicly that the regime is right and you are wrong. Anything short of that is regarded as a personal indictment and further evidence that you, as the enemy, must be vanquished. “

The obvious problem with this analysis is that Lott was nothing like a political prisoner in China, he was the majority leader in the Senate. He was one of the top leaders of the party in power. His political enemies didn’t have the power to extract confessions from him.

Rockwell is apparently one of those who wishes Lott made a princpled defense of himself. My first reaction is that there was no pricipled defense to be made, because Lott is not a man of principle. But if there was a principled defense to be made, Lott had every opportunity to make it and was in an ideal position to do so. Nobody could silence him. He wasn’t facing criminal charges, he wasn’t even in much danger of losing his seat.

The trial of a political prisoner? This is getting pretty melodramatic.

My Trent Lott Non-Watch Continues…

Am I at all distressed that a horse thief lost some of his power and status in the horse thieving business for running off at his big, fat, stupid mouth?

I am not.

Lott wasn’t even the enemy of my enemies in any significant sense, he’s always been in league with my enemies. So now he’s withdrawn in disgrace to the cushiest horse thieving job in the world?

I get nothing out of this. It’s not even mildly entertaining.

Arrgh…

When I told No Treason bloggers they could confirm they’d gotten in to the new site by posting a blog, I meant by posting an insightful commentary or a cool article or something (hint!), not by posting “I’m In”, as Beck just did. I’m going to assume I was unclear and Beck is not yanking my chain. (Or rather, I’m going to say that I assume it.)

I knew this wasn’t going to go smoothly…

No Treason Is Moving !

Remain calm, you will still get your Daily Pic. I hope.

The transition is happening right now. Please bear with us for the next few days as some things are bound to go a little haywire. After that it will take a little time to get the whole site fully integrated with the new regime. But we will blog on without much interruption, I hope.

If you are reading this, you’re seeing the new site. Feel free to join the forum and start your own discussion threads, or just check out the Daily Pic archive.

NT Bloggers: Keep blogging the same old way until you receive new marching orders. The editors will be responsible for porting your blogs to the new site until then. At some point the Blogger interface will probably tell you it cannot publish. Don’t worry, just leave your blog in the queue and all will be well. Contact me or Lynette if you have worse problems.

Cry Havoc And Let Slip The Blogs of Culture War!

And you, good yeoman, Whose limbs were made in America, show us here the mettle of our pasture; let us swear that you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not; For there is none of you so mean and base, that hath not noble lustre in your eyes. I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start. The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit.

“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.” One might imagine that I’d have mixed feelings about Greg Swann and Billy Beck starting their own blogs, since they have been two of No Treason’s most valuable contributors and now NT stands to lose the lion’s share of their blogging output. But one would be wrong. It’s all part of my plan.

Swann and Beck are two of the strongest voices for individualism I’ve come across in my adventures on the net. The aim of No Treason has always been to find a wider audience for such voices. It’s not like these gentlemen didn’t know their way around the web, they’ve both had substantial websites of their own for years and they’ve been highly active in online forums, especially on usenet where I first encountered them. But I saw that blogging had the potential to more deeply engage them in a broader conversation.

I take special pride in having drawn Billy into the the blogosphere. It was easy enough, I knew he’d find blogging more addictive than crack cocaine. Over the years he’s produced a prodigious body of valuable writing on the internet, but only a microscopic fraction of that was captured on his web site. That writing is of course available through usenet archives, but it takes considerable effort to sift through usenet to find it. I sought to draw Beck into a format that would lend more coherence to his output, a format that would make it easier for others to follow his train of thought.

And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in America, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start.
The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit.

“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.” One might imagine that I’d have mixed feelings about Greg Swann and Billy Beck starting their own blogs, since they have been two of No Treason’s most valuable contributors and now NT stands to lose the lion’s share of their blogging output. But one would be wrong. It’s all part of my plan.

Swann and Beck are two of the strongest voices for individualism I’ve come across in my adventures on the net. The aim of No Treason has always been to find a wider audience for such voices. It’s not like these gentlemen didn’t know their way around the web, they’ve both had substantial websites of their own for years and they’ve been highly active in online forums, especially on usenet where I first encountered them. But I saw that blogging had the potential to more deeply engage them in a broader conversation.

I take special pride in having drawn Billy into the the blogosphere. It was easy enough, I knew he’d find blogging more addictive than crack cocaine. Over the years he’s produced a prodigious body of valuable writing on the internet, but only a microscopic fraction of that was captured on his web site. That writing is of course available through usenet archives, but it takes considerable effort to sift through usenet to find it. I sought to draw Beck into a format that would lend more coherence to his output, a format that would make it easier for others to follow his train of thought.

Billy always presented a special “danger” to NT that my co-editor and I have been well aware of. He’s such a prolific writer with such a strong voice that there was always the danger that No Treason could effectively become The Billy Beck Blog. We weren’t about to let that happen because Beck’s isn’t the only voice we’re interested in. That’s over now, and it is most fitting that Billy has his own channel to present his thoughts in undiluted form.

I didn’t know Swann nearly as well as I knew Beck. I just knew that Greg was a force to be reckoned with so I took a flyer and invited him to contribute to NT, without much hope that he would accept the invitation. But he did, and his contribution to NT has been tremendous whether he knows it or not. With his new blog Swann announce that he is “in league with the Greeks”, and that makes me smile. It puts me in mind of the observation of Leo Strauss that everything in the West is descended from two cities: Jerusalem which is Faith, and Athens which is Reason. In that sense I was born and raised in Jerusalem. but I was quite apparently a changeling because I’ve never felt at home anywhere but in Athens.

So: Hail Athenian! Our true kinship is affirmed. Our home is the home of Philosophy, which recognizes no authority but Nature.

And I hold that all individualists are the offspring of Athens. The philosophical differences between individualists such as myself, Warren, Beck and Swann are often profound, fundamental and practically irreducible; but we recognize each other as fellow Sovereigns. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Beck and Swann, off to do my bidding…

Front Sight Flap

It appears that Front Sight is suing Diana Mertz Hsieh.

Why? At this point we don’t know, but the characterization of this as an attack on free speech by Scientology is getting a lot of play.

In reading Hsieh’s site it seems clear that Hsieh is more than a bit of a crusader against Scientology and that she’s been harassing Front Sight founder Ignatius Piazza about possible personal ties to Scientology. Quite apparently she wants him to publicly repudiate Scientology, and she tosses around thinly veiled threats of turning his customers against him.

Piazza says he’s a Catholic. He says there is no connection between Scientology and Front Sight. Even Hsieh agrees on that point. I think people would be looking at this a lot differently if Hsieh were badgering Piazza to publicly repudiate Catholicism because of crimes real and imagined that the church has participated in. Can a decent person be a Catholic in good faith without sanctioning everything his church has ever done? I think so. I don’t see why a Scientologist can’t do the same. And we don’t even know that Piazza is currently a Scientologist, though it seems clear he has been connected.

Hsieh started down this road by following up on inflammatory reports about Front Sight, reports which she now concludes were “libelous in their wild speculations and claims”. I see no good evidence that Piazza or Front Sight have done anything wrong at all, for all I know the suit may be an attempt to get her remove some of that libelous material from her site; she quotes the libelous material. Front Sight’s right to such relief may be highly arguable, but I wouldn’t be terribly alarmed that they would argue for it if the law permits.

But this is more speculation; we don’t know what the suit is about. I’ll tell you this though, I don’t see anything particularly noble or attractive in Hsieh’s harassment of Piazza and Front Sight.