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Category: Bionic Mosquito

Mises on Immigration and Nation

Joe Salerno has written an excellent essay, describing the perspective of Ludwig von Mises on the inter-related subjects of political borders, immigration, and nation.  Further, Salerno offers clarity on Mises’s view of liberalism – and it isn’t classical liberalism as generally described.  The entire piece is worth at least two reads; I will here offer only an overview.

Salerno offers:

My purpose in this short essay is to set forth Mises’s views on immigration as he developed them as an integral part of the classical liberal program he elaborated. I shall not attempt to criticize or evaluate his views.

Salerno is the consummate professional; courteous, scholarly, respectful. As I am, on the other hand, a mosquito…I will handle this topic a little differently; not regarding Mises’s views but the views of some in the audience.

Beginning his piece, Salerno offers that many advocates of free immigration point to Mises as a fellow traveler.  But…not so fast:

However, Mises’s views on the free migration of labor across existing political borders were carefully nuanced and informed by political considerations based on his first-hand knowledge of the deep and abiding conflicts between nationalities in the polyglot states of Central and Eastern Europe leading up to World War One and during the subsequent interwar period.

Conflicts between nationalities within the same political boundaries; Mises certainly would know, having lived it.  This leads directly to Mises’s view of “liberalism”:

[Liberalism’s] two fundamental principles were freedom or, more concretely, “the right of self-determination of peoples” and national unity or the “nationality principle.” The two principles were indissolubly linked.

For Mises, self-determination was an individual right; for Mises, the freedom offered by liberalism could not be separated from (or perhaps could not survive without) “national unity.”  There is no “liberalism” without “national unity” (as Salerno describes it: “national unity based on a common language, culture, and modes of thinking and acting”).  If you can remain patient for about 160 words, this seeming contradiction will be explained.

I know some in the audience choke whenever they see me (and now Mises) using the word “nation,” conflating this idea with “state.”  Mises is not confused (but it would be silly to think he was):

…the nation has a fundamental and relatively permanent being independent of the transient state (or states) which may govern it at any given time.

Read again what Salerno offers for clarification of “national unity” and how this differs from the concept of “state.”  Consider that national unity offers the possibility of a significantly less coercive state.  For Mises, political borders that do not evolve with the nation offered a certainty of internal conflict; political borders that do not respect the nation within it offer conflict as well.

Consider also that this came about naturally – inherent in man’s nature.  Citing Mises:

The formation of [liberal democratic] states comprising all the members of a national group was the result of the exercise of the right of self determination, not its purpose.

Human beings are not atomistic beings; human beings hold emotional and spiritual bonds with other select human beings.  Call these select human beings family, kin, and nation.  In other words, humans are…human.  Salerno offers Rothbard on this point as well:

Contemporary libertarians often assume, mistakenly, that individuals are bound to each other only by the nexus of market exchange. They forget that everyone is necessarily born into a family, a language, and a culture.

Salerno goes on to describe Mises view of similarities of colonialism and minorities within a political boundary.  In many ways, the treatment by the overlords / majorities of these two groups is similar.

Mises maintains that two or more “nations” cannot peacefully coexist under a unitary democratic government.

And with this, a clue is offered as to why national movements sprung forth at the same time that the state moved toward liberalism and democracy.  Mises, I think, would have expected nothing else.

Conclusion

Thus, concludes Mises, even if the member of the minority nation, “according to the letter of the law, be a citizen with full rights . . . in truth he is politically without rights, a second class citizen, a pariah.”

It is easy to be for open borders, unchecked immigration, and the dismissal of culture when one is a part of the political majority.  Try being the minority for a while; see how thatfeels.

Don’t yell at me, take it up with Mises.

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Rothbard on Trump

Didn’t think it was possible, did you?

A Strategy for the Right, first published in 1992 in the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, it is the opening chapter in a compilation of Rothbard’s essays, entitled “The Irrepressible Rothbard.”

What I call the Old Right is suddenly back!

Rothbard felt the proper home for libertarians was with the right – the old right made up of anti-New Deal elements, for example H.L. Mencken, Albert Jay Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, and Garet Garrett.  He also points to Howard Buffet (Warren’s dad) and Robert Taft.

The old right also included those who were against American involvement in World War II.

…contrary to accepted myth, the Original Right did not disappear with, and was not discredited by, our entry into World War II. On the contrary, the congressional elections of 1942 — elections neglected by scholars — were a significant victory not only for conservative Republicans, but for isolationist Republicans as well.

Neglected by me, as well; but no longer.  Regarding the House of Representatives:

The 1942 United States House of Representatives elections was held in the middle of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s third term.  The main factor that led to the Republican gains during this election cycle was concern over World War II and American involvement.

Roosevelt’s Democratic Party lost 45 seats, retaining only a slender majority even though they lost the popular vote by over 1 million votes (3.9%).

What?  They lost the popular vote and still won a majority?  I say the Russians did it – and for this claim I actually have some evidence: Roosevelt’s administration was found to be loaded with Soviet agents, sprinkled throughout; Roosevelt’s favorite uncle was named “Joe.”

Regarding the Senate:

The United States Senate elections of 1942 were held November 3, 1942, midway through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term as President. Although this election took place during World War II, the opposition Republican party made major gains, taking eight seats from the Democrats and one from an independent.

Returning to Rothbard and his writing on Trump:

The Marxists, who have spent a great deal of time thinking about strategy for their movement, always pose the question: Who is the agency of social change? Which group may be expected to bring about the desired change in society?

He first examines what he calls the Hayekian model: convert the top philosophers and intellectuals, and then watch the trickle-down effects.

… I hate to break this to you, intellectuals, academics, and the media are not all motivated by truth alone.

Rothbard believes it will take a few centuries for the trickle-down theory to produce fruit, so he moves on to other possibilities: the “Fabian strategy,” used by the left to gradually increase state power, should be used in reverse.  Such is the wish of beltway libertarian and conservative think-tanks.

The flaw here, however, is that what works to increase state power does not work in reverse. For the Fabians were gently nudging the ruling elite precisely in the direction they wanted to travel anyway.

Twenty-five years after Rothbard wrote these words, the lack of fruit due to such beltway efforts is obvious.

What does Rothbard suggest?

Therefore, in addition to converting intellectuals to the cause, the proper course for the right-wing opposition must necessarily be a strategy of boldness and confrontation, of dynamism and excitement, a strategy, in short, of rousing the masses from their slumber and exposing the arrogant elites that are ruling them, controlling them, taxing them, and ripping them off.

And so the proper strategy for the right wing must be what we can call “right-wing populism”: exciting, dynamic, tough, and confrontational, rousing and inspiring not only the exploited masses, but the often-shell-shocked right-wing intellectual cadre as well.

He was writing in the time of Pat Buchanan.  He might as well have been writing about Trump.

It seems someone decided to put the Rothbardian strategy to work: Robert Mercer, described as a “reclusive hedge fund manager” and his family.

During the past decade, Mercer, who is seventy, has funded an array of political projects that helped pave the way for Trump’s rise…. “Bob thinks the less government the better. He’s happy if people don’t trust the government.”

My kind of guy.

There was a time that Mercer was aligned with the Koch brothers, of Cato fame:

By 2011, the Mercers had joined forces with Charles and David Koch, who own Koch Industries, and who have run a powerful political machine for decades. The Mercers attended the Kochs’ semiannual seminars, which provide a structure for right-wing millionaires looking for effective ways to channel their cash.

He and his family soon figured out – as did Rothbard decades before – that the Koch brothers’’ strategy would never achieve much of anything toward real change.  After spending heavily alongside the Koch’s to get Romney elected in 2012…

Rebekah Mercer, meanwhile, was growing impatient with the Kochs. She felt that they needed to investigate why their network had failed to defeat Obama in 2012. Instead, the Kochs gathered donors and presented them with more empty rhetoric. Mercer demanded an accounting of what had gone wrong, and when they ignored her she decided to start her own operation. In a further blow, Mercer soured several other top donors on the Kochs.

Murray must have that “I told you so” look on his face about now, as evidenced in his further comments:

It is important to realize that the establishment doesn’t want excitement in politics, it wants the masses to continue to be lulled to sleep. It wants kinder, gentler; it wants the measured, judicious, mushy tone, and content, of a James Reston, a David Broder, or a Washington Week in Review. It doesn’t want a Pat Buchanan [Donald Trump], not only for the excitement and hard edge of his content, but also for his similar tone and style.

Koch = establishment = Romney; Mercer = in your face = Trump.  Which path offers the better chance for change?  Mercer listened to Rothbard and succeeded; the Kochs kicked Rothbard out and have achieved…nada.

Justin Raimondo gets it:

Libertarianism today is a confused jumble of leftist “lifestylism,” virtue-signaling, and emotional impulses disguised as a political program. You just have to take a look at the Gary Johnson/Bill Weld farrago to see this. On the one hand, the pro-drugs “live and let live” rhetoric, and on the other a declared adherence to a vague “centrism,” brewed a counterintuitive amalgam of “rebelliousness” and pandering to the Establishment. Thus you had Johnson blathering on about the wonders of pot while Weld was endorsing Hillary Clinton. A more disgraceful campaign—in the name of “libertarianism”—would be hard to imagine.

These people have zero understanding of the Trump phenomenon—and I would go further and say they have no conception of the political. Conflating individualism with narcissism, they utilize ideology as a form of self-actualization rather than, say, a way to save the country.

While I have been “associated” with libertarianism, it’s important to note that this association, for most of my career, has been with the perspective of the late Murray N. Rothbard—and Rothbardianism is as different from “official” libertarianism” as it is from modern liberalism.

He goes on to offer:

Buchanan was the necessary prelude to Trumpism, and Pat is clearly the father of that revolution—a fact that is almost never acknowledged.

I will only slightly modify this last sentence: Ron Paul played a key role in this revolution during the time between Buchanan and Trump – both in 2008 and 2012.  The thread runs through Dr. Paul.

Conclusion

Yeah, we all get it: Trump is no libertarian; Trump may even be a Trojan Horse or even co-opted.  This isn’t the point.  What he is, or more importantly what he represents, is the key: a complete rejection of the status quo

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The Logical Inconsistency of Open Borders…

…for libertarians…

Jacob Hornberger has written a new post on open borders.  Several months ago I went on a back-and-forth exchange with him on this topic.  I found it a most frustrating experience, as he would either ignore or misrepresent my positions (for those interested, I offer the running dialogue, in order: here, here, here, here, and here).  Therefore, I will not comment directly on his current post – instead, I will touch on one logical inconsistency inherent in his view.

Anarcho-Libertarian Borders

I have argued before that in an anarcho-libertarian world, there would be no such thing as (state) “borders” because there would be no such thing as states.  I welcome anyone to prove this wrong.

In such a world, every “border” would be a private border demarcating private property and that these borders most certainly would be “managed” by the property owner.  I welcome anyone to argue otherwise.

In such a world, everyone has a right to emigrate (assuming the individual has not voluntarily bound himself to stay); no one has a right to immigrate.  Immigration onto a private border without invitation is a trespass.  Again, I welcome contrary opinions.

In conclusion, in an anarcho-libertarian world, there would be no such thing as open borders.

Limited Government Libertarian Borders

I have suggested that in a world of state borders, there is no libertarian answer to the issue of crossing those borders.  There are, of course, libertarians such as Hornberger who disagree.  The closest libertarian-consistent answer I can derive is one where the potential immigrant has an invitation from a citizen, along with guarantees of employment and housing.

There are many libertarians who advocate for limited government; Hornberger is one of these.  What is typically meant by “limited government”?  I offer a definition from Hornberger:

Thus, as limited-government proponents have long pointed out, there are three primary and legitimate functions of government: (1) to punish murderers, rapists, robbers, and the like; (2) to provide a court system in which people can peacefully resolve their disputes; and (3) to defend the nation from foreign invasion.

The Logical Inconsistency

Hornberger advocates for limited government; Hornberger advocates for open borders.  These two positions are logically inconsistent.

The limited government has responsibility “to defend the nation from foreign invasion.”

Does this not require controlling the border?

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Apparently Some Confusion?

A question was asked of Walter Block; the bulk of the question regards something written by me!

He [that would be me!] makes the following claim: A common culture – and a culture beyond merely the NAP – is necessary if we are ever to move closer to a libertarian society. Asks the rhetorical: What is aggression? What is proper punishment? How is it determined when the age of minority ends and majority begins? What is property? Then answers by saying there would actually be many different answers to these questions that could be compatible with the NAP.

This seems contradictory to his original statement about a common culture…

Now, I don’t know why I am not asked directly to clarify this seeming contradiction; I will do so here.

My point is simple: for example, what is “aggression”?  We debate libertarian theory to the nth degree with the hope of precisely defining what is meant by “aggression.” Is it only physical acts?  Is it the threat of a physical act?  Does it include libel?

Theoreticians pretend that they will be able to definitively answer these questions using libertarian theory – and come to one definitive answer.

I will suggest: In a given society, as long as all individuals generally accept the same definition – say…physical acts only – there is a better chance to maintain peace and therefore avoid calls for “someone to do something about it” (aka “government”).

Now, individuals in another society – somewhere way over there – might generally accept that threats are “aggression.”

Who is the purist to say this is not acceptable?  As long as those in the society generally accept such a definition, they will live in something approaching their version of a libertarian world.

My point about “common culture” isn’t one definition for all, everywhere – as the questioner implies.  My point is different societies will come up with different answers to these questions – and each can be compatible with a libertarian society populated with imperfect humans.

Let’s take this one step further: a common culture, generally libertarian, which does not morally accept the libertine libertarian.  Perhaps a society that generally accepts what is known as a traditional lifestyle – a male husband, a female wife, 2.5 children and a white picket fence.  Acts of procreation happen in the bedroom.

Then one day, a new neighbor comes in; he decides his front yard can pass for the set of a XXX movie.  Plenty of oil and whipped cream are involved.  Now – it is his property – he is not violating the NAP as far as I can tell.  Where he came from, this was…normal.

Look, we can say “look at the contract” all we want.  The nudist will say “I see no restrictions on the CC&Rs.”  Is this a situation where peace can easily be maintained?

So…even if the nudist is correct within the thinnest of thin libertarian theory, he is creating a situation where the traditional libertarian community will transform into one that demands “someone do something about it” (aka “government”).

And there goes the previously generally libertarian community.

A generally accepted culture “around here” (based on more than property rights) is necessary to develop and maintain a libertarian community.

BTW, Walter answered the question perfectly – and I agree with his answer:

As far as I’m concerned, some cultures might well be more compatible with libertarianism than others. I’m not enough of a sociologist or historian to say which is which though, although I have my guesses. The point I would leave you with it that this is an entirely different issue than what does libertarianism consist of? As far as this latter issue goes, I’m a thinnist: that is, this issue is entirely outside the realm of what is libertarianism.

My one slight difference – I have my guesses about which type of culture is more compatible with libertarianism, and have written about this often.

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The Enemy is Always the State…

…and the state’s enemy is a well-grounded and life-sustaining common culture.

Notes Towards the Definition of Capitalist Culture, By Terry Hulsey

I was asked by a long-time online friend to comment on this post by Hulsey.  A worthwhile read – every time I went through it I found another gem.  I hope I do it a bit of justice with this review.

For those who want a very brief comment: I agree.  For the rest you will only have to suffer through a few hundred words.

Let’s get right to the punch line:

The humane activity formerly designated as “culture” has been emasculated with the advent of the modern state.

I would modify slightly: the advent of the modern state has only, could only, and as sure as night follows day will certainly become reality with the emasculation of a common, generally accepted culture.  For this we can thank cultural Marxists (I prefer cultural Gramsci-ists); libertine libertarians carry this water for the state as well.

What will the capitalist culture be like in general? …Common law and traditional usage will supplant the poison of revolutionary positive law.

Consider what this means: inherently “common law and traditional usage” suggests the thing known as “conservative” culture – whatever happens to be “conservative” in a certain locale.  This is a necessary (but I would argue insufficient) requirement to achieve a society without a state.

What do I mean by “conservative”?  A culture tomorrow that is not noticeably different than the culture today; “common law and traditional usage.”  This “conservative” approach minimizes the possibility of increasing conflict drive by radical change in the culture.  Need examples be offered?  I hope not.

This does not preclude evolution – it only precludes radical change by fiat and force; in other words, no room for positive rights; no room for culture-destroying advocacy or actions.  Call this non-libertarian if you like, yet you will never move toward a libertarian society without this requirement.

This is a “necessary” requirement, but not “sufficient.”  A common culture minimizes the possibility for conflict, but not every “culture” is sufficient to sustain life – therefore, inherently, not every culture has a future.  Given that a society without a future will eventually devolve into violence, not every culture is conducive to minimizing potential conflict; such cultures will always demand a state to provide security.  Always.

Those values are already widely and voluntarily shared among libertarians and radical capitalists.

What values do libertarians and radical capitalists share?

Needless to say, this vision of capitalist society rests on a capitalist culture – a set of shared values that are total yet voluntarily held. I say “total” without reservation, for a capitalist culture cannot succeed where any permanent member is not committed to the absolute fundamental values of the rights and sanctity of the individual, and absolutely convinced of the threat of the state to those values.

Total.  Consider clearly what this means: no one to lobby regarding favors – no business subsidies, no anti-discrimination laws.  It is my property and you have no claim to it and you have no claim as to who I allow on it.  I don’t want to bake your wedding cake – in fact I don’t even want to see you on my property!

This is again necessary, but insufficient.  Consider:

The self-educated individual – confident in his gender, his heritage, his religion, and the traditional culture that he seeks to project into the future – stands as a threat to the very existence of the state: He does not need its ministrations.

How is his “gender,” “heritage,” “religion” identified?  How was it identified yesterday?  The answer to this question will guide how the culture will be identified today.

Conclusion

Where then to begin the creation of capitalist culture?  The destruction of the moral pretenses of the state is the irreducible first step toward the realization of a capitalist culture….

Of this there is no doubt.  I will suggest that the defense of the traditional culture – and a culture designed to sustain life – is equally vital.

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Clinton’s Hell

Today is the day – fifteen years ago and all that.

What does presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have to say about it?

“I remember one image so indelibly, [a firefighter] dragging his ax, and it was as close to depiction of hell that I’ve ever personally seen.”

Spend in week in one of the hells you have created, Hillary. Try Libya for a week – without Marines or secret service agents; if you are lucky enough to survive seven days, get to a boat to take you across the Mediterranean; if you are really lucky, you might survive even this.

Go to Syria. Live in Aleppo for a while. Try going to the market; go to a Christian church; mingle with the people. See how that goes.

How about Iraq? Afghanistan? Yemen? Ukraine? Try each of them for seven days – no Marines, no private security, no secret service. Just you, Hillary. Live like one of the people.

In other words, Hillary – before you try to fool us with your crocodile tears about the hell you have seen, why don’t you go to hell first – go to the hells you have created on earth. Give us a first-hand report.

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The Reports of the Dollar’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Some facts worth keeping in mind:

The US dollar is tightening its grip on the global financial system at the expense of the euro, entrenching American hegemony and rendering the US Federal Reserve more powerful than at any time in history.

…the dollar’s share of the $5.1 trillion in foreign exchange trades each day has continued rising to 87.6pc of all transactions.

Roughly 60pc of the global economy is either in the dollar zone or closely tied to it through currency pegs or ‘dirty floats’, and the level of debt issued in dollars outside US jurisdiction has soared to $9 trillion.

It is much the same picture for the foreign exchange reserves of central banks, a good barometer of global trust. The dollar share has recovered to 63.6pc, roughly where it was a decade ago.

Outside of the dollar, basically the Chinese yuan has increased share at the expense of the Euro, which has lost share.

Conclusion

What isn’t happening?  The world isn’t walking away from the dollar.  Despite China, Russia, Iran and others establishing bilateral trade in their own currencies, despite the establishment of alternative global institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite the dollar losing 96% of its value in the last 100 years…the needle hasn’t moved in any meaningful manner.

As I recall, once Rome started seriously devaluing the coinage it took a couple of centuries to hit bottom.

You might mark the beginning of this path for the dollar in 1913, with creation of the Federal Reserve.  It strikes me that the more appropriate mark would be 1971 and Nixon’s closing of the gold window.

Either way, we have a long way to go.

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