Pinochet

I’m fine with the right-wing claim that the Left is thoroughly hypocritical on the question of Pinochet.

I’m even fine with the consequentialist claim that Pinochet’s criminal actions averted a greater catastrophe.

But to fail to condemn his crimes is thoroughly illiberal and to actually defend them is anti-libertarian.

Skye Stewart, commenting at blog.Mises, did us a service in posting these 2 block quotes:

The Institute featured many articles on Bush’s SS ‘privatization’ proposal that I enjoyed reading. Let’s not forget Pinochet’s similar fascist economic proposals. As well his ‘war on terror’:

Have conservatives taken America in the direction of the Pinochet regime that they hailed and celebrated for so long? How can anyone doubt it? Torture; indefinite detentions; murders; sex abuse; “renditions”; indefinite detentions; military tribunals; and denial of habeas corpus, due process of law, trial by jury, and judicial supremacy. And just as they did during the Pinochet regime, U.S. conservatives are looking the other way while all this is going on — even claiming it’s necessary, all the while hailing and celebrating Bush’s “free-enterprise” policies.

President Bush is claiming the same power that Pinochet claimed — the power to arrest, torture, and kill “terrorists,” not just inside the country, but all over the world. It was, in fact, Pinochet, not Bush, who first developed the concept that the entire world was a battlefield in the “war on terrorism.” This is what motivated Pinochet to send DINA agents (one of whom perceived himself to be a James Bond) to Europe and the United States to assassinate “terrorists.”

- Jacob Hornberger,
“Augusto Pinochet and the Conservative Threat to America”

Rockwell wrote,

“The American right today has managed to be solidly anti-leftist while adopting an ideology — even without knowing it or being entirely conscious of the change — that is also frighteningly anti-liberty. This reality turns out to be very difficult for libertarians to understand or accept. For a long time, we’ve tended to see the primary threat to liberty as coming from the left, from the socialists who sought to control the economy from the center. But we must also remember that the sweep of history shows that there are two main dangers to liberty, one that comes from the left and the other that comes from the right. Europe and Latin America have long faced the latter threat, but its reality is only now hitting us fully.

What is the most pressing and urgent threat to freedom that we face in our time? It is not from the left. If anything, the left has been solid on civil liberties and has been crucial in drawing attention to the lies and abuses of the Bush administration. No, today, the clear and present danger to freedom comes from the right side of the ideological spectrum, those people who are pleased to preserve most of free enterprise but favor top-down management of society, culture, family, and school, and seek to use a messianic and belligerent nationalism to impose their vision of politics on the world.

- “The Reality of Red-State Fascism”

All I can add is my bafflement at the consistent hypocrisy of many on the Right who are 100% anti-collectivist in their explicit rhetoric, and then 100% collectivist in their defense of the state‘s theoretical monopoly on force and its actual use of violence.

retrotech

I grew up with black-and-white TV.

That doesn’t mean I’m now collecting social security — just that my family was slower to move to color than everyone else. And then when the main TV in the apartment was a color set (a very small color set), I still watched a portable old black-and-white because I wanted to watch “Brady Bunch” or “Gilligan’s Island” while the grownups had something more grownup on the main set.

Also: we never had cable, and the broadcast reception on the upper west side of Manhattan was terrible. This means that much of my childhood television “viewing” was really more of an audio experience. Sometimes we’d go up to the Catskill Mountains, where cableless television was a purely audio experience at best. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the stage production of Peter Pan, but I have a strong memory of listening to the play while I stared into the television snow trying to make out the general shape of what was going on. (Sort of like scrambled porn 10 or 15 years later.)

Then I went to summer camp in Maine, on an island with no electric power. For a kid who watched as much TV as I did, that was a real challenge. The kids who had been there longer showed me that you could tune in to the audio portion of NBC TV around 88 FM on the radio. The main reason I remember the once-infamous flop sitcom “Hello, Larry” is because I spent a summer listening to it every week on a battery-powered transistor radio.

Apparently 88FM is just above VHF channel 6, which means that the TV audio bleeds over into the FM radio dial. We didn’t have channel 6 in New York, so I never knew. There is a channel 6 in Philadelphia. NBC again. I had a girlfriend in college who listened to “Jeopardy” on the radio.

When the web was young, bandwidth meant you couldn’t put the latest games online very easily. Arcade games from the 1970s and ’80s — Asteroids, Pong, Pacman — all made a comeback. Retro chic.

With www.Bleenks.com, I can watch pirated American television from China. (Most of the pirated American television in the United States has already been removed.) We don’t pay for cable TV, but we do pay for decent broadband. I was hoping it would make web video a convenient reality. So far, it’s like Pacman, Pong, and Asteroids.

Here it is the 21st century and I’m once again listening to TV that I can’t see very well. But I do mark it as progress. “My Name Is Earl” is much better than “Hello, Larry” — even audio-only.

Illuminatus Audio

I’m very excited about the announced release for Winter 2007 of an unabridged audiobook version of Robert Anton Wilson‘s Illuminatus! Trilogy.

I’m not as big a fan of Wilson’s Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, but I loved the first of those 3 books: The Earth Will Shake, about Sigismundo Celine as a boy in late 18th-century Naples. And now DeepLeaf Audio has released an unabridged audiobook for download:

libertarianism’s north star

I looked up F.A. “Baldy” Harper at Wikipedia and found … nothing!

This is the man whom Murray Rothbard described as, “my first dear friend and mentor in the libertarian movement.”*

Can you imagine?

Harper founded the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) but their website tells us practically nothing about him. Wikipedia has a page on IHS, which mentions Harper, but his name is one of those red links that invites you to create a new page.

I also couldn’t find an image of him online — not even at the institute he founded. The one in this post was scanned from one of Harper’s books by Chad Parish of the Mises Institute. (Thanks Chad!)

Here’s a Spencer MacCallum‘s summary of Harper’s anarchism:

[L]et’s now come to the question of limited government versus anarchy and which term, if either, a thinking person could adopt as his philosophical badge. (And so as not to let it cloud our minds, let’s try to leave out of account the fact that anarchy, as popularly understood, is a pejorative term, bringing to mind images of terrorism.) Baldy Harper, Leonard Read’s first associate at FEE and later founder of the Institute for Humane Studies, looked at it in a way that I find attractive. He had no more idea than the man in the moon whether we or our descendants will ever actually see a “total alternative,” as he put it, to political, tax-supported government. But he pointed out the importance of holding the ideal clearly in mind as a heuristic device and a compass to help us keep moving always in the direction of freedom. The analogy he used was that of the north star and the mariner who steers by it. The mariner doesn’t expect to reach the star. But, steering by it, which is a process entailing innumerable small decisions and self-corrections, not one of which he could make without the star, he eventually reaches Liverpool. We need a transcendent ideal always in mind, Baldy would say, to help guide our everyday decisions that determine whether or not we keep on our heading toward freedom.

That’s why I’m less than fully satisfied with the ideal of “limited government.” Whether mankind will ever regain the completely free society we know he enjoyed at the pre-state level, where the authority of the village headman was the same in kind i.e. authority over his person and property and not that of anyone else, as that exercised by the poorest member of the village, it will probably not be for you or me to know. But while we live, let perfect liberty be our guiding star.

The “limited government” concept cannot serve reliably as a guiding star because it is relative; any government at virtually any time or place in the world is limited with respect to some other government, real or imagined, that might be named. So we must ask, limited by comparison with what?

* You can read Rothbard’s memorial for Harper in the May, 1973 edition of Libertarian Forum, available from the Mises Institute in PDF.

libertarianism's north star

I looked up F.A. “Baldy” Harper at Wikipedia and found … nothing!

This is the man whom Murray Rothbard described as, “my first dear friend and mentor in the libertarian movement.”*

Can you imagine?

Harper founded the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) but their website tells us practically nothing about him. Wikipedia has a page on IHS, which mentions Harper, but his name is one of those red links that invites you to create a new page.

I also couldn’t find an image of him online — not even at the institute he founded. The one in this post was scanned from one of Harper’s books by Chad Parish of the Mises Institute. (Thanks Chad!)

Here’s a Spencer MacCallum‘s summary of Harper’s anarchism:

[L]et’s now come to the question of limited government versus anarchy and which term, if either, a thinking person could adopt as his philosophical badge. (And so as not to let it cloud our minds, let’s try to leave out of account the fact that anarchy, as popularly understood, is a pejorative term, bringing to mind images of terrorism.) Baldy Harper, Leonard Read’s first associate at FEE and later founder of the Institute for Humane Studies, looked at it in a way that I find attractive. He had no more idea than the man in the moon whether we or our descendants will ever actually see a “total alternative,” as he put it, to political, tax-supported government. But he pointed out the importance of holding the ideal clearly in mind as a heuristic device and a compass to help us keep moving always in the direction of freedom. The analogy he used was that of the north star and the mariner who steers by it. The mariner doesn’t expect to reach the star. But, steering by it, which is a process entailing innumerable small decisions and self-corrections, not one of which he could make without the star, he eventually reaches Liverpool. We need a transcendent ideal always in mind, Baldy would say, to help guide our everyday decisions that determine whether or not we keep on our heading toward freedom.

That’s why I’m less than fully satisfied with the ideal of “limited government.” Whether mankind will ever regain the completely free society we know he enjoyed at the pre-state level, where the authority of the village headman was the same in kind i.e. authority over his person and property and not that of anyone else, as that exercised by the poorest member of the village, it will probably not be for you or me to know. But while we live, let perfect liberty be our guiding star.

The “limited government” concept cannot serve reliably as a guiding star because it is relative; any government at virtually any time or place in the world is limited with respect to some other government, real or imagined, that might be named. So we must ask, limited by comparison with what?

* You can read Rothbard’s memorial for Harper in the May, 1973 edition of Libertarian Forum, available from the Mises Institute in PDF.

benefit of clergy

I’d never heard the expression “benefit of clergy” before, but I’m very glad to know its origins nevertheless.

This brief audio file, from “On Words” with John Ciardi,
covers 2 phrase origins:

  1. benefit of clergy;
  2. nose stitch.

It’s the first one that reminds me of this post by Ralph Raico and this post by me.

corrupting language and confusing thought

Henry Hazlitt on “Negative Income Tax” as a policy euphemism:

Trick names of this sort corrupt the language and confuse thought. It would hardly clarify matters to call a handout a “negative deprivation” or having your pocket picked “receiving a negative gift.”

Calvin's unbelievably LOW time preference

See also:

Calvin’s unbelievably LOW time preference

See also:

monstrous moderates

(or “Why I Hate (Yes, Hate!) the Political Center Far More than Left or Right”)

I’ve blogged Lew Rockwell’s take on “The difference between the radical and the moderate” and Murray Rothbard’s comments on “the attempt by hawkers for ‘moderation’ or ‘prudence’ to weaken high principle.”

I’ve spewed my own rancorous bile at hated centrists here and especially here.

But I’ve never seen as thorough a treatment on the evil Middle Of The Road as Anthony Gregory’s

offered today at LRC.
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