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Category: C.Jay Engel

FINALLY! The History of Economic Thought, part 2

So much of my understanding of economics has come directly from digging into the details of its development over time. It’s amazing what a better grasp of something one can receive by learning the roots of the theory, the context from which is sprung, and the debates our intellectual forefathers had with their opponents. Studying the history of political and economic thought is just as rewarding as studying more modern and systematic works on the subjects themselves.

Gerard Casey is the master of the history of political thought, and his recent book on the matter was based on his series of lectures from Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom.

I was ecstatic to discover yesterday that Bob Murphy’s overview of the history of economic thought was just released this week. The first part of this series has been out for a while and I have profited tremendously from it. The second part I have yet to go through, but from the list of topics, it looks amazing. If you decide that you need this– and in all honesty, you do– it would be awesome if you entered the site to purchase at my link: reformedlibertarian.com/woods 

And what better time to do it?? Besides Murphy’s new course, they are also having a sale right now so you can get access at a discounted price. Excellent!

Check out the lecture list for parts 1 and 2.

 

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White Supremacy and ERLC Once Again

It never ends. Conflating the gospel with social justice issues, the ERLC is again jumping to vocalize how much they despise white supremacy. And a recent statement on the matter perfectly encapsulates my problem with all this virtue signaling (I know, this phrase is overdone, but it’s precisely what is happening here).

The key problem in the entire anti-white supremacy movement is that they define the phrases so ambiguously that everyone is guilty of the thought-crime!! Critics of the obsession with white supremacy, such as myself, do not hold that white supremacy is a good thing, but we are screaming in desperation for people to stop equating everything with white supremacy. Opposition to government subsidies in ghettos, for example, is not white supremacy. It’s beyond obnoxious.

Back to the ERLC statement. Consider:

This weekend, white nationalists will descend on Tennessee, in both Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, for a “White Lives Matter” rally. As Christian leaders in Tennessee, we declare ourselves in resolute opposition to this expression of racism and white supremacy. We denounce and repudiate white supremacy as a work of the devil, designed to dehumanize and divide.

Yeesh. How do they know that these gatherers are actually in favor of “nationalism?” What is the operating definition of this word? How do they know that the gatherers hate state rights and hate decentralization movements at the state level? Does the phrase “white lives matter” automatically make one a “nationalist?” Does the phrase “white lives matter” indicate allegiance to the theory that the white race is morally superior to blacks/latinos (which would be the definition of white supremacy)? Do they have any proof to back up the implication that these white lives matter folks are actually white supremacists? Or are they going to fall for the media’s focus on a handful of nuts in order to categorize everyone as a white supremacist?

One doesn’t have to be a fan of the White Lives Matter rally to understand why it is happening. Should we not listen to them, understand where they are coming from? When you make bees angry, they sting.

Where’s the ERLC statement against the violence and destruction perpetrated by certain individuals within the Black Lives Matter movements?

Speaking of “dividing!”

Is this really the best way to defend and promote the gospel?

Where’s the outrage against Obama’s murdering of hundreds of innocents? Oh wait, that’s not part of the media narrative. Gotta stay relevant, I guess.

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TRL Fall Fund Drive

Every fall over the last 4 years I’ve done a little fund raiser to cover costs associated with the site which of course includes the domain renewal, hosting, any outside technical help I have to use, and things like that. Additionally, some of you just like to throw a little money into the pot because that is how you show support for this site. I always appreciate all of you who do this. And even if you don’t contribute financially, all the comments, shares, likes, feedback, emails, are more than enough to tell me to keep it up.

I wasn’t planning on doing it this year. But that was before I had the idea to start my new project– AustroLibertarian.com. Since starting something from scratch requires additional money (one of the costs, as some of you in the Facebook group know, was especially huge), I decided I would do this again.  Part of the reason for that is, upon hearing that I was starting the new project, I had 4 people specifically ask me how they could support it financially. It really means a lot to see people going out of their way to express their support in this way– seriously. While I love what I do, it’s always a wonderful feeling when people tell me I have made a difference in their thinking.

For those dedicated TRL readers who want to know why I started a project in addition to TRL, read my recent article here.

Since I have a much higher readership than in years past, I wanted to offer people a chance to support my projects on a more consistent basis, if that is something they desire to do. So, I offer the following ways to contribute financially.

  1. Patreon: set up a monthly contribution on my Patreon page.
  2. PayPal: send a one time contribution my way at this link: PayPal.me/CJayEngel

More than ever, I’m stoked about the reach and future of my efforts. Essays, books, podcasts, and more. And as always, thank you all for the help, support, and community.

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Keynes as Convenient Justifier of State Power

Mises makes a great point on the role John Keynes’ works played with respect to justifying state power. Rothbard (and Hoppe) later extrapolated on this theme, and I think it is important to remember. In sum, “academics” like Keynes merely offer to the politicians exactly what they wanted to hear: that the accumulation of increased state power and subsequent interventionism into the economy is, conveniently, good for society. Politicians love power and bureaucrats think they can design a social plan to bring forth utopia. Thus, the thoughts of Keynes gave them everything they wanted on a silver platter: justification for their actions.

Mises:

There are people who believe that the two books of Keynes that became best sellers The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920), and The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) decisively influenced the course of British policies and of world affairs. It is said that the first of these books inaugurated the anti-French and pro-German tendencies of Great Britain’s “appeasement” policy which virtually encouraged the rise of Nazism, permitted Hitler to defy the essential clauses of the Treaty of Versailles and finally resulted in the outbreak of the Second World War. It is furthermore asserted that the second book generated the “Keynesian revolution” of economic policies. The abandonment of the gold standard and the adoption of outright inflationary or “expansionist” fiscal methods, the New Deal and the Fair Deal, the full-employment policy, the intensification of anti-importation measures and many other kindred ventures are ascribed to the “unorthodox” ideas propagated by Keynes. If these assertions are correct, Keynes appears as the most influential personality of our age, whether the effects of these policies are to be considered as beneficial or disastrous.

It is often simply thought that the governments of the west were unsure of what actions they wanted to employ, whether laissez faire or a state-controlled economy. And Keynes humbly came to the scene with scholarly and scientific solutions for the world.

In actuality, Mises explains:

Keynes was definitely not the inaugurator of a new economic policy. The governments did not have to wait for his advice in order to learn that inflation is a handy means to fill the empty vaults of the treasury. The Keynesian policies were practiced by governments and powerful political parties long before they were advocated by Keynes. Keynes’ writings were enthusiastically received by people who found in them an apparently scientific justification for what they had already done for a long time in defying the teachings of economics.

They hated the theory according to which there was but one means toward the general improvement of people’s material well-being, viz., to increase the per head quota of capital invested. They longed for short cuts to an earthly paradise; a protective tariff, a cheap money policy, the closed shop, doles, and social security. They did not want to be told by the economists that it is the policy of the unions that creates unemployment as a lasting mass phenomenon and that the periodical recurrence of crises is the inevitable outcome of the easy money policy. They knew better; all evils were caused by capitalism.

To such people the Keynesian slogans appealed strongly. Here they found what they were looking for. If demand lags, create “effective” demand by expanding credit! If there is unemployment, print more money! If you want to increase “the real national dividend of useful goods and service,” then “dig holes in the ground paid for out of savings!” And, first of all, do not save, spend!

The triumph of Lord Keynes’ last book, the General Theory, was instantaneous. Although reasonable economists refuted his doctrines, it has become the gospel of the self-styled Progressives all over the world. Today many universities simply teach Keynesianism. It is really paradoxical. Nobody can any longer fail to realize that what is needed most is more saving and capital accumulation and that the inflationary and expansionist policies are on the verge of complete breakdown. But the students are still taught the dangers of saving and the blessings of expansionism.

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DACA: Yea or Nay?

Trump has decided to let DACA expire. As far as I understand it, DACA merely protects undocumented individuals who came into the US as minors from being deported and gives them a permit to work here. Among the requirements are that you would have had to enter the US before you were 16 and lived here continuously, and also that you are either in school or else at least completed High School, and also that you have not been convicted of a felony.

Let me get a couple things out of the way before I talk more about whether Trump’s decision was good or bad.

  • First, I don’t take seriously claims of this being an example of Trump’s alleged “racism.” As I have talked about time and again, Trump holds to a sort of protectionist outlook on economic and border related issues; that is, he considers it the governments role to protect jobs, businesses, and industries from foreign competition. This does not per se make him a racist. A racist would more likely actually begin deporting those of the “inferior race” while inviting those of “superior races” to help purify the citizenry. To simply dismiss this action as a racist one doesn’t really get to the bottom of things.
  • Second, on the closed/open border debate, as I have stated many times, I do not believe in an open border policy. I also do not believe in a closed border policy. I believe in a border policy in which the localities have a stronger say about who may come than the Federal Government. In a pure private property libertarian setting, of course, everything would be privatized and therefore up to the judgement of private property owners. For the central government to declare that all immigrants are welcome over against the will of private property owners is a version of forced integration. In light of the fact that we live in a statist world, my first suggestion would be to let the states decide who is allowed over the borders. My recommendation to these states would be to let the counties make the decision. And so on and so forth to the property owners. It is important to remember: there is no God-given right to walk on property that is not your own. Therefore, there is no “right” to immigration. But by the same token, there is no “right” that the Federal Government has to prevent the entrance of an individual who has been invited on the property of its owner. That is the libertarian theory– and pragmatic insight– on the immigration issue.

Now, as for DACA. It seems to me that it makes zero sense for the Federal Government to deport people who have lived here their whole lives, pay taxes here, speak English better than Spanish (or whatever), have no home or relatives in Mexico, Honduras, etc. According to DACA itself, one is required to be studying to working. These are private arrangements, or at least arrangements between the individual and a smaller jurisdiction. As they are contributing to economic productivity and are therefore a net benefit on the economy, they don’t seem to be part of the systematic breach of the non-aggression principle. In fact, if these individuals do have residence here, if they are not breaching the property rights of others (via direct criminal action), or demanding welfare benefits or other government aid, it seems more criminal to remove them. The act of tossing these folks who have done no civil wrong is completely unproductive and wrong.

Some conservatives might argue that there are some of these that are simply living as bums on welfare. I haven’t seen any proof of this– it seems contrary to the demands of DACA itself. If there are, I would urge that they be removed from the dole. But the important point is that this is not the fault per se of DACA. This is a welfare policy that should be addressed. DACA is not inconsistent with eliminating welfare.

Of course, how many native US citizens are net leeches on the system? How many of them don’t contribute to the economy but instead receive redistributed goods?  DACA simply has nothing to do with the welfare problem in America.

Now, I would welcome correction on this for sure as I am usually quite skeptical of efforts by the Federal Government to push integration policy. But does DACA actually cost money? Is there any secret subsidization of the undocumented immigrants I am unaware of? If there is any proof of this thing subsidizing the immigrants or forcing smaller government jurisdictions to provide for their presence, I will immediately update this post. But in the interest of being objective, I seem to be seeing the DACA program as something Trump should not have let expire.

Now, three other considerations that should certainly be mentioned:

  1. Its very possible, and I have this at the forefront of my mind, that Soros’ and other forced-integration-internationalists use things like DACA to protect the immigrants from deportation after they have done the dirty work of subsidizing and purposefully bringing in millions of people. Folks like Soros understand that the way to control the future of a democracy is to upend cultures, to create strife via group conflict. In this case, of course, DACA itself is not the problem. It is merely a tool leveraged after the problem has already been implemented.
  2. This may have been a half-hearted attempt by Trump to satisfy his base. After all, just removing a protection does not mean he is going to round ’em all up and ship ’em back (of course, since most of them were born here, they have nowhere to actually return). Trump has to show the voting base that put him in to office that he hasn’t been completely swarmed by the establishment since entering office (he has).
  3. As always, the democratic state is the problem here. The more things are privatized and less under control from Washington, bureaucratically, the more local decisions can be made. By nationalizing society, everything becomes a national controversy and there is incentive to bring in people that will vote a certain way.

Privatize everything! In the meantime, DACA doesn’t seem per se evil. And I say this as a Hoppean on the immigration issue. If anyone has information otherwise, please let me know ASAP.

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On the Arrested Nurse Incident

The trending news over the weekend was the nurse who was arrested for refusing to submit to the cop’s threats and demands that she draw blood from a patient. As she stated in the video that circled the internet, the written law was on her side as medical professionals are only allowed to draw blood under the following conditions:

  1. A warrant
  2. The patient under arrest
  3. Patient consent

The majority of people rightly took the side of the nurse who was unquestionably the victim of the deranged cop’s power trip– he grabbed her, dragged her outside (to her screaming that he stop and her insistence that she had done nothing wrong), and arrested her. Uncalled for.

Since it’s easy to vocalize disapproval at the cop’s behavior in this specific case, I also have two other points to make that are more likely to have been missed by most people weighing in.

First, the nurse’s refusal to draw blood and the cop’s deranged overreaction are not right and wrong respectively on the basis that the written law was on the nurse’s side. That is to say, if the law was that cops have the authority to order medical professionals to do whatever cops tell them to, the nurse still would have been justified in refusing to draw the blood and the cop would still would be acting criminally in aggressing against her. The reason for this is that legal and criminal behavior (a subset of moral and immoral behavior), are not determined by written law but by natural law (law that transcends written laws). For example, murder is not made wrong by virtue of its being declared wrong by a legislative body or bureaucratic agency; rather, if anything, it is already unethical to murder independent of the government and it is up to the government to recognize this ethical stipulation.

Second, and related to the first point, we need to understand that cops so often aggress against people and property (as happened in this case), but there is nary a smidgeon of outrage by the same people who expressed distaste for the current event. Drug laws and their subsequent enforcement protocols are a deep-seeded implementation of criminal assault. The difference, however, is that in the current situation a) the written law was on the victim’s side and b) there has been no desensitization regarding what happened, as opposed to in the case of drug laws. Besides drug laws, of course, there are other sorts of government approved acts of violence against legally innocent (under natural law) people. All forms of eminent domain laws, anti-gun ownership laws, laws outlawing and criminalizing unapproved food production, seatbelt laws, the TSA’s daily airport assaults, and taxation itself.

In fact, every government agency consists of positive laws which control and regulate so many aspects of our lives from food/drink to insurance to education to transportation to clothing to money and banking and beyond. The police are merely the enforcement arm of the state and therefore threaten to initiate violence upon refusal of the private property owner to comply.

Thus, when the headlines say that the nurse was arrested “simply for doing her job,” we should realize that “doing one’s job” is only good if the job-duty itself is good. In this case, for the nurse, it certainly was. If her job required her to do something wrong, we would only praise her if she refused to “do her job.” On the flip side, we aren’t criticizing the cop here because he was acting outside of his job, we are criticizing him because he was acting against the strictures of ethics, of natural law. Thus, even if protocol allowed him to act as he did, he would still be in the wrong.

The news is that this cop has been placed on suspension. Such a bureaucratic response is not enough, however. He didn’t act simply against the will of his superiors– he acted in a criminal manner and should be prosecuted accordingly. Just as cops who steal drugs or give out seatbelt tickets or arrest those selling goods on the market without a business license should, if justice was actually present in our society, be prosecuted for breaching property rights.

People say that the actions of this cop give all cops a bad name. Let me clarify the matter. Any cop that initiates or threatens to initiate violence against the bodies or the external private property of individuals acts wrongly. Whether cops are good or bad adds vagueness and imprecision to the matter. We ought to keep it simple: if you breach the private property rights of individuals, natural law is not on your side. Cops do act rightly when they respond to aggressors of private property, and wrongly when they become the aggressors. This has nothing to do with the state of written law– and it is the goal of the libertarian to bring written law (also known as positive law) into compliance with natural law.

Unfortunately in our time, all cops have voluntarily agreed and sworn to uphold unethical positive laws, whether they are aware of it or not and whether they are nice and respectable people in their private lives.

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The Fed Works Against the Trend of the Free Market

Bloomberg notes:

Amazon’s plans to cut prices at Whole Foods is great news for shoppers, but not so much for Federal Reserve officials wondering whether they’ll ever hit their 2 percent inflation target.

The Fed should not be in the business of targeting price inflation. Prices adjust in accordance with consumer demand and producer’s supply. In order to increase profits, Amazon/Whole Foods anticipates that it should encourage more consumption of its goods by lowering prices. And shoppers respond to this by either buying more food at Whole Foods or buying the same amount of food and then having a surplus leftover. This surplus will allow them to consume more elsewhere or else save and invest.

There is nothing at all wrong with this, in fact, it is the natural machinations of the market at work.

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Redefining Libertarianism: Insufferable Steve Edition

Insufferable Steve Horowitz is at it again. Last time, he smeared Jeff Deist as a literal Nazi.

Now, he’s redefining libertarianism, though this is hardly the first time. He’s a thick libertarian– a libertarian who wants to add to the definition of our beloved theory, in order to add in his own preferences and passions.

This time, he claims that libertarianism rejects anti-semitism.

Part of the problem is that too many libertarians think that claiming to believe in the Non-Aggression Principle is sufficient to establish someone’s libertarian bona fides.  If this summer should teach us anything, it’s that the NAP, while a good rule of thumb and summary of an aspect of ethical teaching, is not enough. Libertarians have apologized far too often and far too long for those who claimed that their anti-Semitism or racism is compatible with their libertarianism because it’s just a “private view” and they don’t wish to enforce it with political power. That excuse making needs to end.

We’ve been over this. Many times. Libertarianism addresses the proper role of coercion, in light of our formulation of property rights, throughout society. Libertarianism seeks to answer the problem of what actions should be criminal, and which should be legal. Anything that is exterior to this specific problem is outside the realms of what the libertarian can say qua libertarianism.

But Insufferable Steve simply asserts that libertarianism ought to be more than this– it ought to, well, we aren’t sure. He offers no boundaries of what the doctrine ought to address.

Obviously, “anti-semitism,” to the extent that it does exist in the west, isn’t agreeable or endorsable. It’s intellectually flawed and without philosophical defense. But so are a lot of things. But this in and of itself require us to expand the definition of libertarianism into other fields of study. As a Christian, as a decent human being, as an individual that attempts to be as intellectually accurate as possible, I assent to the proposition that “anti-semitism” (provided it is defined properly) “is wrong.”

But this does not mean that libertarianism, a doctrine of coercion, qua libertarianism rejects it.

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I’m Not the First to Use Clark in a Dissent from Mises on the Temporariness of Logic

Recently I wrote on Mises’ odd mistake of claiming that logic and the mind were not eternal:

Thankfully, the Christian, or more precisely the Augustinian/(Gordon) Clarkian, framework does better. By saving the eternality of reason and the mind, they save the Misesian system. If Misesian economics truly proceeds in deductive fashion from its axioms, then a robust defense of deductive reason will adequately and tremendously support deductive economics even from its most able historical theorist.

Interestingly, another individual used a citation Gordon Clark in dissenting from Mises’ mistake in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics (2005). Steven Yates writes:

There is a sixth thing Austrian scholars should know about logic, and it is this: given our results so far, there is one and only one correct logic—despite Mises’s own occasional demurrals. Occasionally he suggest the possibility of beings possessing different sets of logical categories—subhuman or superhuman—or that reason is transitory.15 It is now both possible and necessary to lay this ambiguity to rest—returning to the Mises who wrote the above paragraph about the “immutability” of reason. The propositions at the foundations of logic are immutable (although a people’s capacity to grasp them may indeed be transitory!). Can anyone seriously suppose that the principles of identity and contradiction are “true for us” but not “true for God” (for example)? Or that it is possible that for God there can both be and not be houses on Elm Street at the same time and place, or that God could will that seven and five add up to some number other than twelve? (Clark 1985, pp. 117–31)

The book he references is Clark’s textbook on Logic, which can be found here.

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Two Articles on Austro-Libertarian History

I recently wrote up an overview on the two branches of economic theory that can be found within the greater Austrian School and traced them from beginning to the present. It can be found here.

I also republished something that I had written last year on the split in libertarian circles between Rothbard and the Cato Institute. Find that here.

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Ugh, Doolittle.

Curt Doolittle is the worst. Primarily because he owns Propertarianism.com, but is the worst propertarian I’ve ever come across (for the record, I love the word propertarian, and wish it hadn’t taken the domain– humph!). If it wasn’t for that, I would ignore him completely. He has profoundly and impressively misunderstood nearly everyone in the Austro-libertarian movement and holds himself out to be the Great Corrector of their mistakes, the crusader who has learned somewhat from them, but purified them of their own irrationalities.

Besides this, his writing is unclear and vague. He uses big words in a cringeworthy manner and I’ve rarely been able to truly understand what he is trying to get across. Unfortunately, when I do, I realize just how awful his “contributions” are. If you want to gouge your eyes out, read his “basic concepts” page. If you want to simply pound your head into the desk, read his pieces on the mistakes of Rothbard, Hoppe, and Mises. Apparently, he’s got tips and strategies for a full-fledged revolution. Spare me.

He writes recently:

“Praxeology is a method of testing rational choice and moral reciprocity in economic propositions when people are possessed of information heavily weighted by prices, and when they are rational actors, working from simple stacks of priorities.

Then he counters Mises (or at least the straw man of Mises), with this:

“People act irrationally because of a set of cognitive biases and fragmentary information.”

What. The. Heck.

Praxeology:

1). has nothing to do with testing, much less testing choices and whatever moral reciprocity means;

2) has nothing to do with morals, much less morals that are allegedly “in” economic propositions;

3) is actually a science in which economics is a subset, that is, it doesn’t test economic propositions;

4) is not bound by situations where people are “possessed of information weighted by prices” (whatever that means), but rather observes that men make choices and face tradeoffs in a world of scarce resources;

5) teaches that humans are always rational in the sense that they employ certain means to achieve chosen ends (he is assuming that Mises is saying that men always act logically— which means he never read Mises).

In short, one rarely comes across someone who so obviously and magnificently misunderstands such a simple concept as praxeology. In one sentence, we have the understanding of a third grader who criticizes Mises’ deficient understanding of things without himself understanding Mises 101.

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Danger of Narrative Chasing in Charlottesville

I recently wrote a reflection on Pastors and their reaction to the Charlottesville incident– I warned that jumping to support the narrative wasn’t healthy. It was the most well-read post on this site.

Now, as we learn more about what happened beyond the media’s reporting, we see crystal clear the trap that results from refusing to be skeptical about media-driven narrative.

Jack Kerwick writes:

First, while there were indeed some self-styled neo-Nazis that were present among the rally’s attendees, they were, by all appearances, a tiny minority.  And they constituted a far smaller fraction of the totality of the group than, say, that which on multiple occasions comprised the totality of Black Lives Matter demonstrators that marched through busy city streets shouting such murderous slogans as, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” and “Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon!”

And again:

Second, the Charlottesville demonstrators organized their rally months in advance of its occurrence. Their application for a permit to march was initially denied. To its eternal credit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a left-leaning organization, came to the organizers’ defense and helped them to appeal this decision. A federal judge eventually ruled that it was illegal for the city of Charlottesville and the state of Virginia to prevent people from exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble.

And this is a crucial point: Those in attendance at the “United the Right” rally did peacefully assemble. They had speakers lined up to speak at Emancipation Park (formerly known as Lee Park).

Hordes of “Anti-fascist” (Antifa) and “Black Lives Matter” agitators assembled to “bash the fash.” As always, it is they who initiated the violence. Even the Washington Post admits that it was the fear of leftist violence that provoked Governor Terry McCauliffe’s State of Emergency. Yet it was this move legitimizing the “Heckler’s Veto” that rendered a lawful event unlawful.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

Finally:

Fourth, a life was indeed lost on Saturday. A counter-demonstrator was killed when someone who was allegedly one of the demonstrators plowed his car into a mob that had filled the street. The suspect has since been identified as James Alex Fields, a 20 year-old white man from Ohio. About 19 or so others were also injured.

This is the one event of the day on which the media have fixated. No doubt, it was the most serious of events, given that a person was killed. But insofar as it is abstracted and isolated from the context of violence that, to repeat, the Antifa and BLMers had been unleashing long before it happened, it is Fake News in the extreme, a tactic by which the day’s violence can be dropped exclusively upon the shoulders of those who exhaustively pursued legal measures to express themselves.

In short, I commented that the Pastors rushing to disavow white supremacism would merely be used as tools in the media’s fodder. And by the looks of it, this is exactly what is happening. There is heavy and ideologically-sourced spin on current events, and there is zero reason to trust what the most-well funded and well-connected “news” outlets have to say about current events.

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On Pastors Opposing the Alt-Right

I want to be very clear about what is going on under the surface, whether these pastors and Christian leaders know it or not: in letting the media drive their commentaries and phraseology, they are becoming tools of the political narrative.

Let those words sink in. I mean it very seriously.

They have rushed to make it obvious: racism and racial supremacism are un-Christian. And they are dead right, of course.

Here is the problem: in letting the media drive their commentaries and phraseology, they are becoming tools of the political narrative.

I’ve seen dozens of conservatives (and liberals) coming out strong against the so-called alt-right on the basis that the alt-right’s racism is of the devil. But what they do not realize, indeed what they refuse to consider, is the fact that the entire phenomenon of the alt-right as a headline narrative is media driven.

Sure, a handful of misguided folks (some far more than others), aggravated as they were about the revolutionary left, teamed together to “troll” and agitate against the leftist media, the leftist political establishment, and the childish leftist rabble-rousers such as BLM. They called themselves the alternative right– the right that had been rejected by a neoconservative movement that had more in common with Progressivism than traditional conservatism.

But as I mentioned here, the media took this small group of mostly internet voices and made it into a category that every non-respectable (remember, being “respectable” in the Progressive’s eyes is no honor) conservative belongs. Thus, old-fashioned conservatives who, unlike the neoconservative Bush-era Republicans, oppose global militarism, the welfare state, public schooling, debt-financed government, bailouts, the national bureaucracy which oversees every industry known to man; these old fashioned conservatives have been rudely crammed into the alt-right category.

The media and academic left said: everyone who dissents from the Establishment Right is alt-right! But there are so many great Establishment dissenters on the right! The Establishment Right has taken the last 30 years purging the GOP of traditional conservatives, of true constitutionalists, of Kirkians, of foreign policy realists. In fact, the Establishment Right has made it a primary part of its existence in casting away all dissenting conservative voices.

And now we are here. The media and academic left said: everyone who dissents from the Establishment Right is alt-right!

Now, we know due to the progressive war on vocabulary that racism (as employed vaguely by the left) is a great social sin. And we know that the alt-right’s founders were racists (some of them actually are, no doubt). But then, since all non-respectable conservatives are categorized as alt-right, and since the alt-right is by definition racist and therefore not worthy of listening to or engaging in conversation, we reach the sad and devastating conclusion that traditional conservatives too are racist and not worth listening to.

I’ve said it again and again in recent weeks: understand how the cultural revolution is being achieved! Christians, traditional conservatives, local community-oriented libertarians– all of these are not worth listening to because they are categorically alt-right! This is how the academic left revolts. They have borrowed the Fabian playbook!

And thus, the Christian preacher who jumps into the game denouncing racism (which is worthy of being denounced, of course, provided it is properly defined [which does not include something like: “a racist is someone who opposes the civil rights act or subsidies for peoples of color”]), via denouncing the alt-right walks right into the trap.

As I have said before, I have no particular reason to defend the alt-right, partially because there is no good definition of it. Truly and surely, some self-described alt-right figures are despicable. But what I am aware of is the attempt to demean good honorable thought-leaders, thinkers, cultural commentators by the means of categorizing them improperly.

Christians, especially their leaders, ought to have a much more robust skepticism about social narratives. They ought not comment simply on the headline. They must work harder to understand the cultural movements, the sources of narratives, and the dangerous era of statist propaganda under which we live.

In unknowingly catering to the cultural narratives of our time, it is my belief that they are contributing to the downfall of the principles and foundations of western civilization.

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Why is it the Mises Institute and not the Hayek Institute?

UnknownHans-Hermann Hoppe very clearly explains in this article.  Below is an excerpt:

My thesis is that Hayek’s greater prominence has little if anything to do with his economics. There is little difference in Mises’s and Hayek’s economics. Indeed, most economic ideas associated with Hayek were originated by Mises, and this fact alone would make Mises rank far above Hayek as an economist. But most of today’s professed Hayekians are not trained economists. Few have actually read the books that are responsible for Hayek’s initial fame as an economist, i.e., his Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle and his Prices and Production. And I venture the guess that there exist no more than 10 people alive today who have studied, from cover to cover, his Pure Theory of Capital.

Rather, what explains Hayeks greater prominence is Hayek’s work, mostly in the second half of his professional life, in the field of political philosophy — and here, in this field, the difference between Hayek and Mises is striking indeed.

My thesis is essentially the same one also advanced by my friend Ralph Raico: Hayek is not a classical liberal at all, or a “Radikalliberaler” as the NZZ, as usual clueless, has just recently referred to him. Hayek is actually a moderate social democrat, and since we live in the age of social democracy, this makes him a “respectable” and “responsible” scholar. Hayek, as you may recall, dedicated his Road to Serfdom to “the socialists in all parties.” And the socialists in all parties now pay him back in using Hayek to present themselves as “liberals.”

Now to the proof, and I rely for this mostly on the Constitution of Liberty, and his three volumeLaw, Legislation, and Liberty which are generally regarded as Hayek’s most important contributions to the field of political theory.

According to Hayek, government is “necessary” to fulfill the following tasks: not merely for “law enforcement” and “defense against external enemies” but “in an advanced society government ought to use its power of raising funds by taxation to provide a number of services which for various reasons cannot be provided, or cannot be provided adequately, by the market.” (Because at all times an infinite number of goods and services exist that the market does not provide, Hayek hands government a blank check.)

Among these goods and services are: ‘protection against violence, epidemics, or such natural forces as floods and avalanches, but also many of the amenities which make life in modern cities tolerable, most roads … the provision of standards of measure, and of many kinds of information ranging from land registers, maps and statistics to the certification of the quality of some goods or services offered in the market.’

Additional government functions include “the assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone”; government should “distribute its expenditure over time in such a manner that it will step in when private investment flags”; it should finance schools and research as well as enforce “building regulations, pure food laws, the certification of certain professions, the restrictions on the sale of certain dangerous goods (such as arms, explosives, poisons and drugs), as well as some safety and health regulations for the processes of production; and the provision of such public institutions as theaters, sports grounds, etc.”; and it should make use of the power of “eminent domain” to enhance the “public good.”

Moreover, it generally holds that “there is some reason to believe that with the increase in general wealth and of the density of population, the share of all needs that can be satisfied only by collective action will continue to grow.”

Further, government should implement an extensive system of compulsory insurance (“coercion intended to forestall greater coercion”), public, subsidized housing is a possible government task, and likewise “city planning” and “zoning” are considered appropriate government functions — provided that “the sum of the gains exceed the sum of the losses.” And lastly, “the provision of amenities of or opportunities for recreation, or the preservation of natural beauty or of historical sites or scientific interest … Natural parks, nature-reservations, etc.” are legitimate government tasks.

In short, Hayek is respectable because he’s largely just a run of the mill social democrat type. Of course, he made vital contributions to Austrian Economic theory, especially relating to the Austrian Business Cycle Theory. But economics is not political theory. In fact, in some ways, his name can do libertarians harm. After all, once we explain the true libertarian position on issues like Universal Basic Income (a common issue these days) both non-libertarians and left-libertarians will say: “well but even Hayek was for it!” Of course he was; he wasn’t a pure private-property libertarian. Thus, it is for this reason that he is a respectable Austrian, not an extremist like Mises!

And besides this, I think, another reason for mainstream approval of Hayek (at least 10 years ago) was the fact that his epistemology was different than Mises’. Hayek adhered to the modern “logical positivism” epistemology, which, being an empirical school is acceptable where Mises’ “radical apriorism” is not. Rationalism is definitely out of favor today, as the philosophical establishment decries logic and instead embraces “science” and “observation.” This was part of the very “revolt against reason” against which Mises stood firm. Mises is considered here again as an extremist, not beholden to the modern god of “Science.” That is, he accepted apriori statements as discoverable and true and even as the foundation for all economic laws.

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The Alt-Right and Conservatism

In immediately distancing themselves from the so-called “alt-right,” many of its Republican critics are distinguishing between the Respectable Right and this “alt-right.” The respectable right, apparently, includes those who have committed mass war crimes and national level extortion rackets (IRS). That is, it is just fine and acceptable for a conservative to be on the side of the anti-liberty and anti-constitutional drug war, to be on the side of imperial militarism, to be on the side of government intervention in money and banking, to be on the side of the evil income tax, the monopolization of educating the children, and so on. But, apparently, the line is to be drawn at racism. This is the bane of selective outrage.

Furthermore, it casts aside traditional conservatives without a place in the right side of the political spectrum! Whatever you think of the traditionalists, to put them in the same camp as Richard Spencer and others of his ilk is a serious mistake. Spencer and the KKK and actual neo-Nazis (the dozen or so that exist–despite the media’s fear mongering that they are taking over) are leftists. Both economically and politically.

The traditionalist conservatives have been mistreated and pushed aside by the mainstream right since the Reagan years. They were eventually forced to distinguish between themselves and the Respectables by referring to themselves as the paleoconservatives (Gottfried’s phrase). But now, since we are only given two options (respectable and alternative), the traditionalists are equated with the so called neo-Nazis. Thus, anyone who is concerned about the border (for economic reasons– fallacies these reasons might be), the culture, the weakening of local governments, the nationalization of education, and the politicalization of life itself, is awkwardly and ahistorically being placed into the alt-right camp. But that’s part of the trap against the paleos. After all, the alt-right is by the media’s definition Literally Fascist. Therefore, we know what we Ought to Think about the paleos, the traditionalists, the limited government/anti-GOP conservatives.

See how it works?

As my article last week showed, this is cultural revolution via language manipulation.

And it’s not just the left falling for it. Evangelicals like Russell Moore and the Gospel Coalition seem to be leading the way. They piously reject the alt-right, but no one is questioning what the phrase might actually apply to. I have no special need to defend the alt-right, whatever it is. But I sure as snow want to oppose the herding of the conservative movement into a GOP-approved alliance. Nothing could be more destructive for the longevity of traditional social norms.

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When You Make Bees Angry, They Sting

The internet is ablaze with posts and reports on the so-called Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The emphasis in the news, of course, is the presence of Nazis, White Nationalists, and KKKers, though to the extent to which these are actually dominating the rally is unknown– never trust the media and their vague phraseology.

The rally was concocted by Jason Kessler, a blogger. It was in response to a recent decision by Charlottesville to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. Fascinatingly, the blogger who organized the rally is being represented by the libertarian Rutherford Institute (headed by John Whitehead, a friend of Ron Paul who publishes at FEE, Lew Rockwell, etc.) and the left-leaning ACLU! The rally has broken out in violence and even a death.

Let’s say, for the sake of the argument, that this rally is 100% filled with actual white nationalists and white supremacists and so on. For the record, this is not the actual case. But let’s just say.

Does this small uprising surprise anyone? The last 5 years especially we’ve seen a doubling down on the “American history is racist” narrative. We’ve seen increased spotlight on the idea that certain aspects of history are just too offensive to tolerate, that certain ideas associated with the past (such as secession, nullification, private property) are therefore also offensive.

Robert E. Lee, who for a hundred years after the Civil War was revered as a man by both the North and the South, is now being re-characterized as a symbol of racism. This rally isn’t about Lee himself, it’s merely a single stimulus in a great set of government and media-driven attempts to undermine certain cultures that are deemed unacceptable. This set included the removal of Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill.

Eventually, people are going to react. Baiting members of a certain culture tends to bring out the extreme in them. Isn’t that what we have learned with the American interventionism in the Muslim Middle East? We poke and prod and —bam!– Islamic extremist reactionaries. Why would this be any different in the American South?

The lesson here is not that racists are bad (sure they are– but this is hardly the lesson here) or that, see! white nationalism is violent and unconfined! No, the lesson is that when you throw rocks at hornet nests, you get stung. Of course, I am not going to assume that every attender of the rally is a white nationalist (that is, not everyone is a hornet), but the analogy should be understood.

Maybe people don’t like when governments and PC-professionals piously and arrogantly preach at them. When some individuals overreact, we are supposed to take this as proof of the culture’s degeneracy. The cycle goes on. This is part and parcel of the Progressive’s poke-and-prod method of cultural revolution (since neoconservatives are Progressives, the method is entirely consistent with Middle East foreign relations analysis).

I’m not one for rallies, preferring instead the comfort of the couch, but the motivation behind this rally is generally understandable. Of course, we ought to always oppose the wrongdoers who decide to show up and cause a mess at these things, even if we have the insight to explain why they are acting this way.

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Podcast Site Updated!

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In the last week, I’ve pushed hard to get the podcast revamped. The new site for the podcast is podcast.reformedlibertarian.com.

There, you will find all the feeds, links, subscription information, etc. I’ve handled requests to get the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, SoundCloud; as well as a prominent download option. I’ve got some fresh logos up and my new mic came today as well.

I tried the best I could to make sure all the files and links were working and updated. If anyone sees anything wrong or missing or has more requests about features, feel free to let me know.

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Libertarianism and Christian Strategy

Here is a quote from my most recent article:

Libertarianism exists in the world of ideas, it confronts man at the intellectual level– what the world needs is intellectual confrontation. To achieve a free society, the libertarian must primarily preach liberty, not put better people in power. The government will always be a reflection of the opinions held by society’s members and to cater to popularity is to protect, not overcome, modern man’s awe of the state.

Following this, a member of the Reformed Libertarian Facebook group asked:

How is this functionally different from dominionism? Let me demonstrate:

“Christianity exists in the world of ideas, it confronts man at the intellectual level– what the world needs is intellectual confrontation. To achieve a free society, the Christian must primarily preach repentance and the gospel, not put better people in power. The government will always be a reflection of the opinions held by society’s members and to cater to popularity is to protect, not overcome, modern man’s awe of the state.”

I guess what I’m asking is, what is the fundamental difference between a libertarian society and a Christian one? Or, perhaps more to the point, how could you possibly hope to sustain a libertarian society apart from the work of the gospel in the hearts of men?

Here is the response:

Your question is a little confused, I think. Firstly, I certainly agree, and have stated often, that Christianity, being an ideology, has the same strategy as libertarianism: persuasion and argumentation. It too confronts man at the intellectual level. This isn’t per se dominionism.

Second, the aim of the gospel is to save men eternally, not to create a free society. Preaching repentance has as its primary goal the eternal salvation of man, not the freedom from tyrants.

Libertarian societies are sustained when men adhere to property rights and free markets, regardless of whether many people are saved. As the history of Christianity shows, many men can be saved whilst contradicting the libertarian doctrine of political freedom. Adherence to the gospel does not promise a free society, unfortunately. Christian men still sin via statism.

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New Podcast Site– Link Herein

I’m publishing new podcasts over at the new podcast subdomain– just posted one now.

I’m going to make sure the feed worked to iTunes and other podcast platforms as well.

The URL for the new feed is this (it’s also linked at the top of the new podcast site): http://feeds.feedburner.com/ReformedLibertarianPodcast. Hoping that works, but I’ll be watching to make sure it does.

Once the new logo competition is over, I’ll update all the graphics.

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Need Help: New RL Logo Competition

I want a newer, more modern logo/icon for the site (I especially have the podcast in mind– for which I just recorded a new episode for release this week). So at the suggestion of a member of the Reformed Libertarian group, I’m having a little competition. I am looking for something sleek and simple, modern and flat. I like dark blues, I think, though other colors are welcome if you desire. It should have the words Reformed Libertarian featured prominently. You can include the subtitle if you desire: “Austrian Economics and Paleo-libertarianism.” The icon itself can be RL or it can be an image/artwork, whatever you think looks good. I want to convey liberty (so flames/torches can be included, though not necessary if you have better ideas), and studiousness (so books can be included too, if you think you can pull it off). If you have any further questions let me know. Submit them to me on Facebook or email them to cjay.engel90 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Deadline: I think this Saturday evening is reasonable. Sunday will be the vote.

I was playing with this one to the right earlier but it’s not quite there. Haven’t really decided whether I like the crest or not.Reformed (4)

You can submit as many as you’d like.

I will pick my top 5 or so and have the Reformed Libertarian Group vote on them.

Winner gets a copy of the yet-to-be released Murray Rothbard book of essays and articles on the Progressive Era, which the Mises Inst. is releasing in October.

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