Skip to content →

Category: C.Jay Engel

It’s okay to side with a secularist who is right over a Christian who is wrong

The essence of Christianity, as a philosophical system (which I believe to be the best definition of “religion”), is it’s commitment to truth. There are many possible propositions, too many to count. Most of them are false. The ones that are not false are true. All the true propositions gathered together are what the Christian refers to as God, who is, by definition truth itself. Literally, we worship the truth. This is impressive for a philosophical system. And yet so many critics assume Christians refuse to engage in rationality. Perhaps most Christians do. In which case most Christians are not very “Christian.”

The truth of something does not depend upon the human being speaking. One who is not a Christian can speak the proposition: “socialism cannot properly allocate scarce resources according to their most efficient ends.” And he speaks truly. And the Christian can respond: “socialism does not suffer from this predicament.” And he speaks falsely.

Far too many Christians, attempting to be pious and aware various strains of anti-religionism in quasi libertarian circles, dismiss the Christian libertarian as “getting his political theory from secularists.” But this is not an argument. For the alleged “Christian” political theory held by the accuser is itself wrong, regardless of whether it is self-labelled a Christian view.

The nature of the “two-kingdom” structure of this life allows for Christians to agree, and learn from, non-Christians commentary on various topics, including politics and economics. Much economics, especially in the Austrian tradition, is far better than historical sources from the theologians, irrespective to the great insight that theologians have offered in times past. The Christian world, with some glorious exceptions scattered about, have been routinely and devastatingly statist in these areas.

Is the secularist who takes the principle behind the 8th commandment to its logical conclusion to be ignored in preference for the Christian who all but ignores it?

I have often written on epistemological concerns, and how this relates to the recent two-kingdom debates. My view, perhaps shifting somewhat in its emphasis in recent months, is as follows: the philosophical system that is most consistent, based on the demands of logic (a priori reasoning), is certainly a Christian one. But this fact does not cause Christians to be right in every area simply by virtue of their adherence to gospel-related propositions. Christianity can account for, and has a better foundation for, the ethical and logical demands of Austro-libertarian.

But inasmuch as we discuss ideas farther down the line of reasoning than merely foundation, the secularist libertarian (properly defined) is more agreeable than the statist Christian. What the Reformed Libertarian does, it seems to me, is match a solid foundation with the most consistent political and economic theory in history. By foundation, I refer to the idea that the Christian system is able to provide the backdrop, the setting, for proper reasoning.

We must break free from the logically empty claim that the Christian himself is necessarily right. He is only right inasmuch as he perceives truth correctly. And the secularist may sometimes be right as well. If one assents to a true proposition (“it is wrong to steal”), it is only the thinker who reasons forward with proper logic that discovers true inferences. Whether he is a Christian or not.

For the record, most Christian “presuppositionalists,” (and I say this as a Clarkian) are absurdly bad logicians, political theorists, and economic thinkers as well. 

The secularist may have an improper foundation, but the Christian who does not properly use his foundation is no better off.

Leave a Comment

Ownership, Rights, Christ Owns the World?

In a certain Christian Facebook group, the below comment was written:

FullSizeRender-1

This sounds pious, but it is highly misleading and wrongheaded. The debate over property rights is not a matter of whether a certain piece of property is owned by either us or God. Rather, conversations relating to property rights and property ownership refers to who has the legal authority– among men– to make decisions regarding the scarce resources in the world. Property is scarce and individuals each have different desires in mind for how to employ given resources. But we cannot all have our way. Thus, we need a way to determine who has the legal authority to make decisions.

As a solution to this, God has delegated authority to individual stewards and we are told that man has the freedom to use the property under his stewardship according to his or her own determination. We know this because it is wrong to steal, that is, to decide the use of a given resource without the authority of the owner. This does not imply, of course, that every decision regarding the use of that property is per se morally sound; but rather that despite its moral soundness or unsoundness, other men are not allowed to interfere in the use of the property in discordance with the wishes of the steward.

This is the foundation of civilization, for economy, for the furtherance of the world societies. Without property rights, without a clear determination of who owns what, there is only chaos and decivilization.

Property rights are therefore a wonderful gift to mankind.

Finally, man cannot give up his rights. This is a common mistake. He can choose not to exercise them, but they cannot be alienated from him because God created the rights as part of mankind’s nature. That is, these rights have been imputed to the human race, on an individual basis, and the only choice that man has is either to not exercise them for themselves (as in the commenters statement) or else completely ignore their existence in others (in the case of governments, criminals, etc.).

Ironically, in the comment above, it is the respect of rights that could immediately solve the problem of Christians dying. It is a turning away from the systemic breach of rights by thug groups and states, that could magnificently shift the sad situation into a more peaceful scenario.

Leave a Comment

The Benedict Option Isn’t “Two Kingdoms” Enough

Brandon already made excellent points about the Benedict Option and I don’t have much more to add. But one thing stands out to me and I’ve had something on my mind for a couple weeks and this is a good excuse to mention it.

First, a summary of the Benedict Option. Dreher:

The “Benedict Option” refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, and who therefore are keen to construct local forms of community as loci of Christian resistance against what the empire represents.

Important clarifying interpretation from Brandon:

Dreher laments the downfall of Christendom and sees the Benedict Option as a backup plan to keep Christianity afloat (he calls it an ark) during the coming “dark age” until it can re-emerge when people are “ready to hear the gospel again” in order to re-establish Christendom (“establish your shelter, your monastery in a safe place so you can be there for the rebuilding”).

Now my own take. The Benedict Option is being seen as an alternative to One Kingdom cultural transformationalism. It is being seen as an alternative to the “change the world” mentality. Thus, the danger exists of seeing all dissenters from the Benedict Option as being in the alternative camp. So when I say the Benedict Option isn’t quite where I’m at, I actually mean that I am on the opposite extreme as the transformationalists.

As Brandon noted, the problem with the Benedict Option is not in its “withdrawing from the world” per se, it is in its assumption that there is ever a time to pursue Christendom at all. Dreher thinks that “now is the time” to seek shelter and live “in the world but not of the world.” The problem with this is that it is not radical enough; it does not emphasize our pilgrimage enough; it is not reflective of a strong Two Kingdoms paradigm because it sees our current predicament as a backup plan.

Thus, the Benedict Option does not go far enough. It does not separate that which is temporary (the physical world) from that which is eternal (ideas/truths) in a consistent matter. It waits for a time when Christendom will return, when temporary institutions can once again be united with the Church. But this misses the entire point of Two Kingdoms theology.

Now, don’t get me wrong at all. From a cultural commentator standpoint, I tend to enjoy Dreher and the rest of the American Conservative folks. I certainly read their content and am pleased that there is a voice on the right that is not leftist/neoconservative. I love the Old Right and traditional conservatism. But the Benedict Option isn’t quite where I’m at, though it’s heading in the right direction by withdrawing from the empire. I would just ask that it be more radical in doing so.

Leave a Comment

The Sadness of Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig-von-MisesLudwig von Mises:

“Occasionally I entertained the hope that my writings would bear practical fruit and show the way for policy. Constantly I have been looking for evidence of a change in ideology. But…I have come to realize that my theories explain the degeneration of a great civilization; they do not prevent it. I set out to be a reformer, but only became the historian of decline.”

Since my college years, I’ve had a hidden fascination with the history and culture– and tragic disintegration of– Old World Austria. One might suppose that my interest in Austrian economics plays a heavy role in that, but while true, there’s always been something deeper than that. Perhaps it was my own mother’s love of the Sound of Music movie. I always connected, at an emotional level, with the tale of Captain von Trapp and the sad fall of Old Austria.

In one scene in the movie, von Trapp gazes off into the distance and reflects on the rise of democratic statism and very painfully laments a “world that is slowly fading away.” It’s a sad moment. Internationalistic statism was gaining the upper hand in Europe and forever changing the European landscape. It was the rise of globalism, of one-world-orderism, multiculturalism, the loss of national sovereignty.

Mises' apartment door-- from my trip
Mises’ apartment door– from my trip

Did you know that the Habsburgs, the Family Elite of Old Austria, opponents of global government and the evils of democracy, were supporters of Ludwig von Mises? The son still lives and even reflected on the Mises he remembered.

For my first anniversary, my wife and I travelled to Vienna for two weeks. It was remarkable. I was able to visit Mises’ apartment, walk where he walked, read where he read. It was surreal.

For all his heroism and courage, Mises too felt the deep pain and loss of the beloved culture of his ancestors. It was not just that Hitler was a bad man. It’s that socialism and revolutionary leftism destroyed an entire Old World culture that pulled deeply at Mises’ heart. In fact, his wife Margit reflected on this pain when she wrote:

From the day of our marriage he never talked about our past. If I reminded him now and then of something, he cut me short. It was as if he had put the past in a trunk, stored it in the attic, and thrown away the key. In thirty-five years of marriage he never, never– not with a single word– referred to our life together during the thirteen years before our marriage.

The decade before their marriage was their time in Austria, before they were forced to flee as the Nazis raided his apartment and burned his books and writings. It was too painful, what became of his beloved homeland. Indeed, for Mises, the rise of socialism and the German statism was a reflection of a “world that was fading away.” Margit:

Lu followed the political situation in Germany and Austria with passionate interest. He saw the slippery road the Austrian leaders were forced upon. He knew Hitler’s rise to power would endanger Austria, and he knew exactly what the future would bring. Only the date was a secret to him. Lu was a typical Austrian. He loved his native country, the mountains, the city of Vienna, the beauty of the old palaces, the crooked streets, the fountains-but this, too, was something so deeply imbedded in his soul he rarely would talk about it. But I knew how he felt and how deeply he was hurt.

I took this photo of the Schonbrunn Palace.
I took this photo of the Schonbrunn Palace.

Not many people understand how the world changed during the world wars. It was during these times that the entire west became rich soil for the doctrines of etatism (Mises’ word, which meant statism) and socialism and democratic egalitarianism. Which is why Rothbard’s essay on World War I is called “World War I as Fulfillment.” War is the stepping stone to cultural and academic upheaval. Hence why Progressives love war and true conservatives despise it.

When one reflects on the fall of Western Civilization, it’s not just the state itself that must be blamed. It’s the entire culture. Look at what happened to Charles Murray. Everything is racist, sexist, bigoted. These words have no meaning. They are merely bully clubs intended to destroy the remnants of Old World traditions and mannerisms.

Consider then Margit’s remembrance of Mises’ pain:

In retrospect I judge these attacks differently, and I believe I understand the reason for them. Lu wrote some notes in 1940, and I read them again and again. He wrote of Austria and of Carl Menger, who as early as 1910 recognized that not only Austria but the whole world was getting nearer to a catastrophe. Lu, thinking alike, tried to fight this with all the means he had at his disposal. But he recognized the fight would be hopeless, and he got depressed– as were all the best minds in Europe in the twenties and thirties.

He knew that if the world would turn its back to capitalism and liberalism (in the old sense of the word) it would tumble into wars and destruction that would mean the end of civilization. This terrible fight against corruption, against the foes of liberty and the free market had broken the spirit of Menger, had thrown a dark shadow over the life of Lu’s teacher and friend Max Weber, and had destroyed the vitality and the will to live of his friend and collaborator Wilhelm Rosenberg.

Theirs was a fight for a world that did not want to be helped. Few people recognized the danger, and even fewer were readyto fight alongside Lu. It was like being on a sinking ship on which people were dancing though the end was near. Lu recognized the danger. He knew how to help his fellow passengers. He tried to lead them to the right exit, but they did not follow him– and now doom knocked at the door.

_________________________

“Occasionally I entertained the hope that my writings would bear practical fruit and show the way for policy. Constantly I have been looking for evidence of a change in ideology. But…I have come to realize that my theories explain the degeneration of a great civilization; they do not prevent it. I set out to be a reformer, but only became the historian of decline.” –LvM

Leave a Comment

Gordon Clark on Truth and the Eternal Mind

In a world where “science” (rarely defined) reigns supreme and where “scientific studies” determine whether or not something is to believed, the idea of God smacks of anti-reasonable (in the purist meaning of the term) and almost barbaric, unenlightened. This can be blamed partially on the rise of the dominance of mechanism, but also partially on certain and influential theories of “religious” teachings; even, sadly, amongst self-described Christians themselves.

The attempt to dismiss logic and reason from religion and instead emphasize something that is allegedly completely distinct from reason, namely faith, has given ammunition to critics of Christianity to blame it for being unreasonable and backward in its thinking. Why, without reason, Christianity is no different from the pagan and polytheistic religions of Old. Mostly, this is true. There is no point in embracing “religion” without reason and in pursuing “faith” without “logic.” If it’s all some undefinable “leap of faith” (Kierkegaard) that is more similar to emotion, the critics have it right.

Unfortunately those who might be agnostic or atheistic are quite on the money when they dismiss Christianity as being against reason, if by Christianity they mean what is popularly presented as a Christian understanding faith and reason. And I don’t just mean in the world Joel Osteen. I mean in conservative, evangelical, oftentimes Reformed circles as well.

This is one reason why delving into the Christian thought of Gordon Clark has refreshed me over the years and why I so often return to his clear headed account of Christianity, reason, and religion. For Clark, religion means philosophical system, if it is definable at all. In that sense, everyone has a philosophical system. Once we explain this, the atheist might take us more seriously; for who can blame us for having a system except the anti-intellectual? We are comparing conglomerations of epistemology, metaphysics, linguistics, ethics, and so on. What is faith? For Clark, it is not some undefinable emotional “longing” or “hope” or anything non-intellectual. Faith is synonymous with belief, which means to mentally assent (mentally assent is technically a redundancy, but it clarifies) or agree with a proposition. It is, in Clark’s framework, given a purely intellectual (mental) definition. So then, every proposition that is agreed to, is an example of faith (belief, assent). This is a radically unique definition of faith in relation to both pop-Christianity and modern atheistic understanding of the Christian system. In one fell swoop, those Christians who hold to the intellectualist framework of Christianity completely rock the presumptions, perpetrated by many Christians themselves, of non-Christian atheists.

Next, “reason” itself in the Clarkian framework, is stripped of its empirical contents in favor of a purely aprioristic understanding of epistemology. In this sense, we can agree by technicality with the accusation that “Christians don’t use reason like scientists do.” Very true. Instead, we use reason like the apriorists and rationalists do. Or as Clark once wrote after dismantling empiricism, “a satisfactory theory of epistemology must be some sort of apriorism….” Suddenly, we must be classified more similarly to apriorists like Ludwig von Mises because, when framed like this, Mises himself doesn’t “use reason like the scientists do.” The reason why this is a powerful clarification to use in talking with atheists (especially those who know Mises of course) is because they mean to accuse us of being anti-reasonable altogether. But we need to help them see that reason itself has differing meanings based on differing schools of thought and classifying them all as “scientific” is historically wrongheaded. What about the non-empirical rationalists and those, like Descartes, Mises, and Hoppe, who consider truth to be a product of logic/deduction rather than empirical “testing?” There’s the “reason” of Thomas Aquinas, and there’s the reason of the later rationalists. To refuse these distinctions is to equivocate.

Now then, consider the extended quote by Gordon Clark. Here, we see that he frames the Christian view of God –theism– as something entirely unsuspected by the atheist who is loaded with misconceptions about the Christian system. For Clark, quite radically, all propositions that are true, and none that are false, make up the mind of God. What is God? God is the conglomeration of true propositions.

Obviously, if skepticism is to be repudiated and if knowledge is a reality, truth must exist. In ancient Greece Parmenides was the first to state it, and Plato repeated it: If a man knows, he must know something: To know nothing is not to know. Knowledge therefore requires an existing object, and that object is truth – truth that always has and always will exist.

Contrary to ancient and medieval philosophy, the pragmatists and instrumentalists of contemporary times have tried to defend a “truth” that may be true today but was false yesterday and will be false tomorrow. They would quite agree that science is tentative; a scientific law is “true” so long as it works; but progress ensures its replacement by another “truth.” Very able, and, I would say, completely destructive criticisms of instrumentalism have been made, and their common theme seems to be that instrumentalism is self-contradictory. If truth changes, then the popular instrumentalism that is accepted as true today will be false tomorrow. As Thomism was true in the thirteenth century, so instrumentalism is true in the twentieth century, and within fifty years instrumentalism, in virtue of its own epistemology, will be false. But it is to be doubted whether John Dewey would appreciate the imminent passing of his experimentalism.

As was said before, these relativistic theories tacitly assume their own absolutism. This or that hypothesis may be tentatively accepted for a limited purpose; but if all statements without exception are tentative, significant speech has become impossible. It follows, then, that truth must be unchangeable. What is true today always has been and always will be true. Any apparent exception, such as, It is raining today, is an elementary matter of ambiguity. Two and two are four; every event has a cause; and even, Columbus discovered America, are eternal and immutable truths. To speak of truth as changing is a misuse of language and a violation of logic.

The idealistic philosophers have argued plausibly that truth is also mental or spiritual. Without a mind truth could not exist. The object of knowledge is a proposition, a meaning, a significance; it is a thought. […]

With considerations such as these Augustine was able to explain the learning and the teaching process. The teacher in the classroom does not give his students ideas. The ideas or truths are discovered by the student in his own mind; and as he contemplates the truth within, he judges whether the teacher has taught the truth. But though the truth is discovered within the mind, it is not a product of the student. Truth is not individual, but universal; truth did not begin when we were born, it has always existed.

Is all this any more than the assertion that there is an eternal, immutable Mind, a Supreme Reason, a personal, living God? The truths or propositions that may be known are the thoughts of God, the eternal thought of God. And insofar as man knows anything he is in contact with God’s mind. Since, further, God’s mind is God, we may legitimately borrow the figurative language,… and say, we have a vision of God.

Gordon H. Clark A Christian View of Men and Things (Kindle Locations 4666-4728). The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.

To think a true proposition is to contact the mind of God, who is every true proposition. Or, as Paul writes, “we have the mind of Christ.” Thus, in this framework, to say that the Christian –who believes that there is a God– is unreasonable, a denier of logic and pure rationality, is a complete and total nonstarter; simply by definition.

Leave a Comment

The Bible, Political System, Ethics

One difference between a theonomist and a Reformed Libertarian is that the former argue that the Bible offers a political system, a set of laws for government to enforce. For the theonomist, this was originally provided of course in the Old Testament– the Mosaic law. And since, according to their view, these laws were never specifically abrogated, they are to be understood as still in effect. Thus, the Bible demands a certain system and governments are bound to uphold this law.

Some conflate a similar framework with what has come to be known as Reformed Libertarianism– that is, certain well intentioned folks wrongly agree with the theonomists that the Bible has given us a set of laws for government to enforce: it’s just that they are more libertarian ones!

This is a misleading way to look at the problem. It is better to sharply differentiate between a positive law (civil rules of a particular community to be enforced by a government/magistrate) and a moral law. A moral law is synonymous with “Natural Law.” Natural law refers to a law that transcends particular human contexts– it has to do with Ethics, which is not bound by time and space and people group.

Under this framework, the Mosaic civil laws were not abrogated in the sense that certain ethical principles were abrogated. Rather, they were abrogated to the extent that the “particular community,” which existed under a specific covenant no longer exists. It no longer exists because it was always meant to be temporary and to point forward to a better community (the church) under a better covenant (the New Covenant). The Mosaic law code was positive law. It was an application of moral law for the Israelite situation.

Thus, for the Reformed Libertarian, we don’t claim that the Bible offers a specific political system or set of laws for government to enforce. We approach the problem from a different angle altogether; namely, we observe that Natural Law (Ethics) does not have exceptions in regards to the individuals to whom it applies. Since every person is held to the same ethical standard, the implications extend to questions of which types of actions are legitimate for those in a position of governance.

In other words, we don’t go looking in the Bible for a blueprint for building the perfect government system. We merely have a set of ethical principles that we hold each person to indiscriminately. And since the government is made up of persons, we extend the logic to them.

Why are we comfortable with the idea that God doesn’t have a revealed set of positive laws for governments today? Simple: because the New Covenant era is about the spiritual kingdom; eternal things.

By conflating moral law with positive law, all sorts of difficulty is unavoidable.

Leave a Comment

Austrian Oriented Investing

AS-for-Investors-Cover
Best Book on Austrian School and Investing

Most of my readers know I’m an Investment Advisor. The last couple months I’ve been busy working closely with Charles Schwab on our firm’s new investment platform. My goal was to craft portfolios that, as closely as possible, reflect what I see going on in the global macro economy. I’ve been paying particular attention to the activities of world central banks and various currency trends. These trends, coupled with the stunning victory of Donald Trump and all his political efforts, of course have implications for investments.

At the same time, while I have my preferred positions and selections, the allocation adjustments need to reflect precisely where my clients are in life. A 25 year old with $10,000 has a different allocation need than a 55 year old with $400,000.

Schwab’s fantastic platform has allowed me to apply my global economic framework and tie in the automatically adjusting and rebalancing features of the modern “passive” investment platforms so that I can accomplish both my above goals. It’s sort of like “quasi” passive investing. I’m actively watching, overseeing, interpreting, and tinkering. But the platform itself is doing its own rebalancing, tax loss harvesting, and risk-level calculating work behind the scenes.

This is so much more perfect for my clients than anything we’ve done before, inside or outside this Intelligent Portfolio platform. I am very happy that I am not limited in my investment choices and can choose from all asset classes in putting together a portfolio that really reflects the way I see the economic horizon. I can manage anything from a retail/brokerage account to a IRA rollover, and traditional/Roth/Sep IRAs as well.

What I am wanting from my readers, if anyone is interested, is questions that I can add to a FAQ page. You can review what I have here (platform overview) and here (investment philosophy page). The only thing I can’t do is give out specific positions, for compliance reasons. Though I’m happy to answer questions relating to certain sectors, trends, etc. My email is cjay.engel90 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Leave a Comment

The Spencer-Tucker Incident

I wrote the following in the TRL Facebook group, after some conflict took place as the ISFLC incident was brewing:

Regarding the Spencer incident and Jeff Tucker’s childish (“you’re a Nazi”) overreaction: This group does not allow promotion of actual race-centric nationalism or supremacy. On the flip side, it does not allow attempts to place everyone to the “right” of your own stance in the “white nationalist” category. We neither allow claims of race-based supremacy (this includes leftist positions like black lives matter and general indentitarian victimization) nor do we allow exaggerated accusations of the same (I rarely take claims of “racism” seriously).

We do allow the opinion that some cultural traditions, practices, habits or social structures are superior than others– as long as these aren’t race-based. That is, if the cultural mannerisms do not necessarily depend on race, it won’t result in a warning (per se). For example, saying something like “anglo-american mannerisms are more appealing than Ugandan ones” is not racist and therefore allowed, as long as the tone is civil, respectful, rational, and defined in a sound manner.

I also have three notes of opinion (my opinion–not necessarily the other group admin’s) on the whole incident:

1: Spencer has some distasteful and disagreeable views; but he’s not really the antichrist most people make him out to be. He’s misguided and overdoes his main issue of racial strife (which, thanks to the race-baiters in the Mainstream Media, is now an everyday theme). Okay, I disagree with him, now let’s move on.

2: Jeff Tucker thinks everyone is a fascist. He’s become an intolerable social leftist who goes out of his way to make sure everyone knows how open minded he is, how much he loves all the branded “victim groups,” and how everyone who rolls their eyes at such claptrap is a fascist sympathizer (Trump is LITERALLY HITLER). Tucker is destroying libertarianism by making it a necessarily socially-progressive “movement.”

3: Apparently it was the Hoppe Caucus that invited Spencer. This of course has been red meat to the insufferable Steve Horowitz– that rotten ooze of quasi-libertarian and smarmy-academic circles– who has since attempted to say provocative things like “kids should read Marx over Hoppe.” This was a stupid decision by the Hoppe Caucus, who apparently (much unlike Hoppe) find more pleasure trying to stir up controversy and “trigger” those they don’t like than in actually developing arguments and challenging ideas. This is a direct result of too much internet. As much a cultural rightist I am, I am beyond annoyed by the Pepe-standard self-described rightists on the internet. If you want to be on the right, be more like The American Conservative and Unz, and less like 4Chan.

I know nothing about the Hoppe Caucus, but at this point I hate that such a thing exists. And, as a diehard Hoppean, I think this for the precise opposite reason as people like Horowitz –we need more people interested in the intellectual ideas of Hoppe, not less.

Leave a Comment

There is no “Christian Culture,” though Christianity can Affect Culture

It’s important not to confuse the effects that Christian ethics may have on a society with either an expansion of the kingdom of heaven or widespread believe in the gospel itself.

Christianity, being a philosophical system which, among other things, has a theory of ethics, can affect culture in such a way that the moral habits of individuals in society reflect the same principles that are discovered in the Bible. Western Civilization has been very clearly impacted by the Christian religion and this can be recognized in almost all eras since Constantine.

But as our present and loathsome western culture shakes off the last remains of centuries of Old World customs and social norms, it is important to not see this as per se a shaking off of the gospel or a rejection of the true church. Of course, these things are constantly rejected and mocked. But they have been rejected and mocked since Constantine. There have been eras of reformation. Both in Calvin’s time and later in England with the opposition to the state church. And even later with the efforts of Old Princeton and then with Machen and the battle against Progressivism.

But in general historically, an actual gospel-believing and church-embracing group of people within society is a rare event.

The dismissal of the cultural effects of Christian ethics in our time does not mean that true Christianity is just now being opposed. Christianity was rejected in our era long before the cultural remains of its impact were led to the slaughter.

The cultural effects of Christianity can exist- and have existed in the United States– without there actually being a majority of Christians, defined as one who adheres to the gospel and is therefore saved.

As Brandon Adams wrote a couple years ago: “The myth of a Christian nation was the residue of sacralism that is only now being washed off 17 centuries after Constantine hijacked Christianity.”

Just because a nation of people culturally appreciate religious traditions and adhere to social norms and habits that have resulted from a heavy Christian presence, does not mean that the nation is “Christian.” A Christian can only be an individual.

And believe me, I’m a huge fan of Old World customs and social habits. As well, I believe Christianity had something to do with these mannerisms in the Western World. I constantly criticize the state, media, education, and entertainment avenues of cultural destruction. I long for the days of the Old Culture and freedom from leftist claptrap in all its forms.

But the gospel is a set of propositions relating to the work of Christ and the church is the collection of God’s elect. Christianity as a worldview can be related to and have an affect on, but not to be confused with, the culture around us.

2 Comments

The Truth About Aleppo

The War Propaganda Machine is busy right now with the Aleppo situation. It’s very sad, of course, to hear about some of the events going on there. But the truth of the matter is that the US and its allies are using “babies and children” as a deflection against the reality of the situation. The US government’s interest in the matter is in destabilizing the region and toppling the Assad regime by funding and supporting the very extremist and radical “rebels” that it elsewhere claims as its enemy. Thus, Assad, seeking the help of its Russian allies is responding, perhaps not perfectly, to the scenario that was initiated and fueled by American interventionism.

But as usual, the US government and the NATO allies are posturing the entire mission as a humanitarian effort to save Aleppo from Big Bad Putin.

And most of the “facts” and video that you see on social media is pure “fake news,” propaganda.

Read this excellent piece by David Stockman for a quick– albeit punchy– overview. 

 Here is a great overview of what is going on:

Leave a Comment

Murray Rothbard’s Review of Star Wars

Murray Rothbard was in his Movie Reviews phase in the 1970s when the Star Wars movies came out. As with his other movie reviews, he wrote this under the name “Mr. First Nighter.” You can find many more of his movie reviews in The Irrepressible Rothbard. This particular review was first published in The Libertarian Forum vol. X no. 6, June 1977.

I’m posting this because it’s fun to get his reaction from over 35 years ago to the first Star Wars movie, in light of the recent Star Wars releases.

___________________________

First came the hype. That Star Wars is going to be the biggest popular film success since Jaws means very little. So every season is going to have its oversold smash hit, so what? But the difference, the new hype, with Star Wars was its overwhelming acclaim among the critics. Usually the masses whoop it up for a Jaws while the critics go ape over Bertolucii or Fassbinder. Yet here they were in joint huzzahs, with the critic from Time flipping his wig to such an extent as to call it the best movie of the year and making Star Wars the feature of that week’s issue.

But the oddest, the most peculiar part of it was what my fellow-critics were saying: “Hurrah, a fun movie-movie”; “good escape entertainment”; “a return to good guys vs. a happy ending again”; “movie fare for the entire family”; “like Flash Gordon” etc. Here were men and women who have spent the greater, part of their lives deriding these very virtues, attacking them as mindless, moralistic, unaesthetic, fodder for the Tired Businessman instead of the Sensitive Intellectual. And yet here were these same acidulous critics praising these mindless, reactionary verities. What in blazes was going on? Had all colleagues experienced a blinding miraculous conversion to Old Culture truths? While I do not deny the logical possibility of such a mass, instantaneous conversion from error, my experience of this wicked world has convinced me that it is empirically highly unlikely. So what gives?

The best thing about seeing Star Wars is that my curiosity was satisfied. The mystery explained! For it was indeed true that Star Wars returns to the good guy-bad guy, happy ending, and all the rest. But there is an important catch, and it is that catch that enables our critical intelligentsia to praise the movie and yet suffer no breach in their irrational and amoral critical perspective. The catch is embodied in the reference to Flash Gordon: namely, that this is such a silly, cartoony, comic-strip “movie that no one can possibly take it seriously, even within its own context. No one, that is, over the age of 8. Hence, in contrast to Death Wish or Dirty Harry, where the viewer is necessarily caught up in the picture and must take the viewer is seriously, Star Wars is such kiddie hokum that the adult critics can let their hair down and enjoy it without having their aesthetic values threatened.

To put it another way, our critics, who are bitterly opposed to a moralistic and exciting plot, are scarcely challenged by the plot of “Star Wars, which is so designedly imbecilic that the intelligentsia can relax, forget about the plot and enjoy the special effects, which the avant-garde always approves.

Even on the kiddie level, Star Wars doesn’t really work. It is peculiarly off-base. The hero, for example, is so young, wooden and callow that he doesn’t really come off as an authentic comic-strip hero. As a result, his older mercenary aide becomes a kind of co-hero, which throws off the balance of the story. The hero presumably doesn’t get the Fairy Princess in the end, either, although far worse is the casting of the Princess. For, Carrie Fisher is ugly and abrasive, and if one could care very much about the hero one would hope that nothing came of their proto-romance: Miss Fisher is the quintessence of the Anti-Princess, and this ruins whatever may have remained of interest of value in Star Wars. There are more problems; not only does wise Alec Guinness lose his mighty duel with his evil ex-disciple, but the whole duel is pointless and leads nowhere, even within the context of the plot.

“Not only is this oversold turkey not the best movie of the year, it is not very good even within the sci-fi movie genre. Some of the critics have proclaimed Star Wars as even better than “2001”, but that would be no great feat, since there have been few movies of any genre that have been worse than that pretentious, mystical, boring, plotless piece of claptrap. But Star Wars doesn’t begin to compare with the science fiction greats of the past, e.g.: “The Thing”—the first post World War it sci-fi movie; “It Came from Outer Space”; “The Night of the Living Dead”, and, best of all, the incomparable “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”; None of these movies needed the razzle-dazzle of “special effects”; they did it on plot, theme, and characters. Back to them!

Leave a Comment

Ralph Raico Has Passed

Ralph Raico was a Rothbardian original, one of the very best historians in the libertarian movement. The books mentioned, along with his “Rethinking Churchill” essay, have been incredible resources for me. Raico was one of those paleo members of the libertarian movement who never bought into the rising libertine influence on the libertarian movement. He was always fond of traditional values, social institutions, and despised PC culture in academia. It was also Raico who provided the translation for Mises’ classic work on Classical Liberalism. He was a great hero of the revival of libertarianism and a good friend to the Mises Institute from its inception.

David Gordon writes:

ralph-raico-2005I am sorry to have to report that Ralph Raico has passed away. His intellectual brilliance was evident from an early age, and while still in high school, he attended Ludwig von Mises’s seminar at New York University. There he met Murray Rothbard, who became his lifelong friend. Ralph was one of the most brilliant members of Rothbard’s Circle Bastiat. He received a PhD from the University of Chicago, working under Friedrich Hayek. Ralph became the leading historian of classical liberalism and also a renowned authority on revisionist history.  His books Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School and Great Wars and Great Leaders show penetrating analytical skills, immense learning, and devotion to liberty. He lectured at the Mises University and other conferences of the Mises Institute for many years.

Ralph was one of my closest friends for over thirty-five years, and I wish I could convey to those who didn’t know him his intellectual sharpness, wit, and kindness.  Here are a few samples of his comments, taken from emails to me: “Incidentally, in case you were stumped, that ‘nicht wahr?’ in my last email means ‘’not true?’ or, colloquially ‘right?’” “I spent New Year’s Eve finishing off a bottle of cheap Spanish champagne. My resolution is next year to make it a bottle of cheap French champagne. I hope that 2015 will be good to you.”  He loved jokes, e.g., “What’s a sight you never see? Answer: a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets.”

Ralph was a great man, and I was very fortunate to have been his friend.

Here is an interesting account of how Raico met Mises.

Leave a Comment

Is Reformed Libertarianism Different than Regular Libertarianism?

Taken from the Reformed Libertarian FAQs

The definition of libertarianism is the legal theory (which has political ramifications) which holds that no man may initiate aggression, or threat to initiate aggression, against the property of another human being, lest he engage in criminal behavior. That is to say, under the libertarian legal theory, a criminal is defined as one who breaches the above described “Non-Aggression Principle.” The logically deduced implications of this principle includes actions such as theft, murder, rape, fraud, breach of contract, trespassing, battery, kidnapping, and so on. For the libertarian, that which is illegal is determined in terms of private property ownership and therefore not all things that may be categorized as immoral, unethical, sinful, and so on are necessarily criminal.

The Reformed libertarian agrees with all of this and thus in this way, we don’t differentiate “our type” of libertarianism from a “regular one” when it comes to the meaning of libertarianism. We are purist, Rothbardian-Hoppean libertarians.

What we are trying to communicate, however, with our phrase, is that when we look at the foundation or justification of the above meaning of libertarianism, we source it within the context of a Christian worldview, the epistemology and moral theory of which is distinct from other potential foundations for libertarianism.

For instance, there are utilitarian libertarians (Mises), Natural Law libertarians (Rothbard), Kantian libertarians (Hoppe). There are others as well.  But what libertarians have in common is not their worldview, not their justification of knowledge, and not their personal lifestyle preferences.  Rather, they have in common their agreement with the first paragraph above. Libertarianism is a set of propositions. Anyone who assents to those propositions is a libertarian. Libertarianism is “thin,” which means that it is a set of statements about the use of force in society, but the doctrine itself is distinct from the defense of that doctrine. Rothbard and Hoppe are not two types of libertarians, and neither are we a distinct type. The “Reformed” in Reformed Libertarian is not a qualification of the libertarian part. What we propose is that libertarianism, since it is a political theory based on ethical positions, can be best defended from a Christian philosophical system, since Christianity best justifies ethics.

More generally, what we are communicating with the label “Reformed Libertarian,” is A) that each editing contributor to this site is Reformed; B) we are interested in investigating relationships in theory and history between the libertarian world and the Reformed world; and C) that, yes, Reformed Christians can and should be libertarian! It is a resource for those Reformed Christians who want to convince their Reformed friends that libertarianism is a wonderful system of political thought!

Leave a Comment

The Court Economists: Justification for Power

Mises:

The great economists were harbingers of new ideas. The economic policies they recommended were at variance with the policies practiced by contemporary governments and political parties. As a rule many years, even decades, passed before public opinion accepted the new ideas as propagated by the economists, and before the required corresponding changes in policies were effected.

It was different with the “new economics” of Lord Keynes. The policies he advocated were precisely those which almost all governments, including the British, had already adopted many years before his “General Theory” was published. Keynes was not an innovator and champion of new methods of managing economic affairs. His contribution consisted rather in providing an apparent justification for the policies which were popular with those in power in spite of the fact that all economists viewed them as disastrous. His achievement was a rationalization of the policies already practiced. He was not a “revolutionary,” as some of his adepts called him. The “Keynesian revolution” took place long before Keynes approved of it and fabricated a pseudo-scientific justification for it. What he really did was to write an apology for the prevailing policies of governments.

This explains the quick success of his book. It was greeted enthusiastically by the governments and the ruling political parties. Especially enraptured were a new type of intellectual, the “government economists.” They had had a bad conscience. They were aware of the fact that they were carrying out policies which all economists condemned as contrary to purpose and disastrous. Now they felt relieved. The “new economics” reestablished their moral equilibrium. Today they are no longer ashamed of being the handymen of bad policies. They glorify themselves. They are the prophets of the new creed.

Leave a Comment

How Reagan Set the Liberty Movement Back a Decade

Many libertarians miss the fact that one of the most damaging aspects of Ronald Reagan wasn’t just his growth of the US Federal Government; it was also because he triggered a strictly political movement which damaged the appearance of a need for a true libertarian movement. When things are particularly bad, when the state’s presence is obviously unbearable, people begin to look at liberty and away from government as the solution to their woes. Reagan, though, brought back faith in Washington– and in doing so, he set the entire liberty movement back until Ron Paul was able to make mainstream again in 2007. 

Rothbard, as usual, is particularly observant:

___________________________________

Setting the Stage: The Anti-Government Rebellion of the 1970s

I am convinced that the historic function of Ronald Reagan was to co-opt, eviscerate and ultimately destroy the substantial wave of anti-governmental, and quasi-libertarian, sentiment that erupted in the U.S. during the 1970s. Did he perform this task consciously?Surely too difficult a feat for a man barely compos. No, Reagan was wheeled into performing this task by his Establishment handlers.

The task of co-optation needed to be done because the 1970s, particularly 1973–75, were marked by an unusual and striking conjunction of crisis – crises that fed on each other to lead to a sudden and cumulative disillusionment with the federal government. It was this symbiosis of anti-government reaction that led me to develop my “case for libertarian optimism” during the mid-1970’s, in the expectation of a rapid escalation of libertarianinfluence in America.

1973–74 saw the abject failure of the Nixon wage-price control program, and the development of something Keynesians assumed could never happen: the combination of double-digit inflation and a severe recession. High unemployment and high inflation happened again, even more intensely, during the greater recession of 1979–82. Since Keynesianism rests on the idea that government should pump in spending during recessions and take out spending during inflationary booms, what happens when both occur at the same time? As Rand would say: Blankout! There is no answer. And so, there was disillusionment in the government’s handling of the macro-economy, deepening during the accelerating inflation of the 1970s and the beginnings of recession in 1979.

At the same time, people began to be fed up, increasingly and vocally, with high taxes: income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, you name it. Especially in the West, an organized tax rebel movement developed, with its own periodicals and organizations However misguided strategically, the spread of the tax rebellion signaled a growing disillusion with big government. I was privileged to be living in California during the election year of 1978, whenProposition 13 was passed. It was a genuinely inspiring sight. In the face of hysterical opposition and smears from the entire California Establishment Democratic and Republican, Big Business and labor, academia, economists, and all of the press the groundswell for Prop 13 burgeoned. Everyone was against it but the people. If the eventual triumph of Ronald Reagan is the best case against “libertarian populism,” Prop. 13 was the best case in its favor.

Also exhilarating was the smashing defeat of US imperialism in Vietnamin 1975 – exhilarating because this first loss of a war by the United States, many of us believed, was bound to get Americans to rethink the disastrous warmongering bipartisan foreign policy that had plagued us since the unlamented days of Woodrow Wilson.

On the civil liberties front, the de facto legalization of marijuana was a sign that the nonsense of drug prohibition would soon be swept away. (Ye gods! Was that only a decade ago?) Inflationary recession; high taxes; prohibition laws; defeat in foreign war; across the board, the conditions seemed admirable for a growing and triumphant libertarianism.

And to top it off, the Watergate crisis (my particular favorite) destroyed the trust of the American masses in the Presidency. For the first time in over a hundred years, the concept of impeachment of the President became, first thinkable, and then a living and glorious process. For a while, I feared that Jimmy Carter, with his lovable cardigan sweater, would restore Americans’ faith in their president, but soon that fear proved groundless.

Surely, it is no accident that it was precisely in this glorious and sudden anti-government surge that libertarian ideas and libertarian scholarship began to spread rapidly in the United States. And it was in 1971 that the tiny Libertarian Party emerged, in 1972 that its first,embryonic presidential candidacy was launched, and 1973 when its first important race was run, for mayor of New York City. The Libertarian Party continued to grow rapidly, almost exponentially, during the 1970s, reaching a climax with the Clark campaign for governor of California during the Prop 13 year of 1978, and with the Clark campaign for the Presidency in 1980. The morning my first article on libertarianism appeared in the New York Times in 1971, a very bright editor at Macmillan, Tom Mandel, called me and asked me to write a book on the subject (it was to become For a New Liberty). Not a libertarian himself, Mandel told me that he believed that libertarianism would become a very important ideology in a few years – and he turned out to be right.

So libertarianism was on a roll in the 1970s. And then Something Happened.

What happened was Ronald Wilson Blithering Reagan.

The Reagan candidacy of 1980 was brilliantly designed to weld a coalition providing the public’s instinctive anti-government mood with sweeping, but wholly nonspecific, libertarian rhetoric, as a convenient cover for the diametrically opposite policies designed to satisfy the savvy and politically effective members of that coalition: the neocons, the Buckleyite cons, the Moral Majority, the Rockefellers, the military-industrial complex, and the various Establishment special interests always clustering at the political trough.

But we must not under weigh the importance of the traitorous roleperformed by quasi-libertarian intellectuals and free-market economistsduring the Reagan years. While their institutions were small and relatively weak, the power and consistency of libertarian thought had managed to bring them considerable prestige and political influence by 1980 – especially since they offered an attractive and consistent alternative to a statist system that was breaking down on all fronts.

But talk about your Knaves! In the history of ideological movements, there have always been people willing to sell their souls and their principles. But never in history have so many sold out for so pitifully little. Hordes of libertarian and free-market intellectuals and activists rushed to Washington to whore after lousy little jobs, crummy little grants, and sporadic little conferences. It is bad enough to sell out; it is far worse to be a two-bit whore. And worst of all in this sickening spectacle were those who went into the tank without so much as a clear offer: betraying the values and principles of a lifetime in order to position themselves in hopes of being propositioned. And so they wriggled around the seats of power in Washington. The intellectual corruption spread rapidly, in proportion to the height and length of jobs in the Reagan Administration. Lifelong opponents of budget deficits remarkably began to weave sophisticated and absurd apologias, now that the great Reagan was piling them up, claiming, very much like the hated left-wing Keynesians of yore, that “deficits don’t matter.”

Shorn of intellectual support, the half-formed libertarian instincts of the American masses remained content with Reaganite rhetoric, and the actual diametrically opposite policies got lost in the shuffle.

_____________________

Rothbard continues to fault Reagan for accomplishing the growth of the Federal Government– on economic policy, foreign policy, and other issues relating to private property– while at the same time appearing to give credence to limited government rhetoric. In this way, it was simply assumed throughout the 90s that the Reagan revolution was one of capitalism, constitutionalism, and freedom. 

Unfortunately, the Reagan Revolution never was. As I discuss here, it was the Reagan administration who let in, for the first time, the neocons into positions of real power.

Leave a Comment

Mises: Actions are performed by individuals

Mises:

First we must realize that all actions are performed by individuals. A collective operates always through the intermediary of one or several individuals whose actions are related to the collective as the secondary source. It is the meaning which the acting individuals and all those who are touched by their action attribute to an action, that determines its character. It is the meaning that marks one action as the action of an individual and another action as the action of the state or of the municipality. The hangman, not the state, executes a criminal. It is the meaning of those concerned that discerns in the hangman’s action an action of the state. A group of armed men occupies a place. It is the meaning of those concerned which imputes this occupation not to the officers and soldiers on the spot, but to their nation. If we scrutinize the meaning of the various actions performed by individuals we must necessarily learn everything about the actions of collective wholes. For a social collective has no existence and reality outside of the individual members’ actions. The life of a collective is lived in the actions of the individuals constituting its body. There is no social collective conceivable which is not operative in the actions of some individuals. The reality of a social integer consists in its directing and releasing definite actions on the part of individuals. Thus the way to a cognition of collective wholes is through an analysis of the individuals’ actions.

We often gloss over the personal responsibility present in certain historical events by pretending that it was a certain group or nation or social institution at fault. Referring to these collectives or groups can sometimes be convenient, and there is no problem in using them as a reference point. But it must be remembered that it is indeed merely a reference point.

In saying that “the state has committed a moral grievance” or that “the US bombed another geographical location whose residents did us no wrong,” we must remember that there are individuals consciously and willfully acting in these ways; and they will of course be held morally responsible. Whether the individual is giving a certain order or command or the individual is receiving the command and performing the action, the fact remains that moral and economic responsibility rests on human actors.

Leave a Comment

The Division of Labor and the Beginnings of Western Civilization

I’ve recently taken it upon myself to go through Carroll Quigley’s epic “history of the world in our time,” Tragedy and Hope. tragedy_and_hope_by_carroll_quigleyFor those new to the libertarian scene, this book stands in a unique place as far as history books go. It tracks in very specific detail the rise of the Fabian socialists in Europe and how the inner circles of these groups integrated into positions of power in the Western world and had been (largely until Britain was destroyed in WWII) behind major power players in the early effort toward Anglo-American empire. This includes those close to the American banking cartel (the Fed), the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and so on.

More blogging on that to come.

In any event, I found and interesting tidbit much farther back in time: at the dawn of what can properly be called “Western Civilization” (700-970 ad). Essentially Western Civilization was born on what was left behind in the fall of Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire began its remarkable downfall, smaller geographical locations began to split apart and handle things separately. This sparked an era of capital accumulation (capital of course being the bedrock of a prosperous and modern economy) and investment of capital into higher means of production (to use a Bohm-Bawerkian idea).

But what caught my eye was something else that came along with the new idea of capital investment:

“…a change from… the centralized, state-centered political orientation of the Roman world to the decentralized, private-power feudal network of the medieval world. In the new system a small number of men, equipped and trained to fight, received dues and services from the overwhelming majority of men who were expected to till the soil.

For those who have studied theorists like Hans-Hermann Hoppe, this should sound familiar. In Hoppe’s recounting of the transition from the feudal order to monarchy in medieval Europe, there were those who might be considered “natural elites;” those who were especially judicious in their thinking and far more capable of acting as “free market” judges and law-interpreters. Eventually they began to ignore the rich tradition of naturally arising “judges” and instead began to force the people to pay for their services and thus taxes again were brought back to society.

But what is interesting is Quigley’s mentioning of the “dues and services” that were given to the fighters/protectors and sourced in the tillers of the soil (the workers). The lesson that I want to draw from this is simple: what made Western Civilization unique was the emphasis on the division of labor! It wasn’t equal, no, because equality qua equality is not what builds a productive society. The division of labor and the rise of specialization is really fundamental to the success of the west (see also de Soto’s book). In fact, Quigley highlights the inequality:

From this inequitable but effective defensive system emerged an inequitable distribution of political power and, in turn, an inequitable distribution of the social economic income. This, in time, resulted in an accumulation of capital, which, by giving rise to demand for luxury goods of remote origin, began to shift the whole economic emphasis of the society from its earlier organization in self-sufficient agrarian units (manors) to commercial interchange, economic specialization, and, by the thirteenth century, to an entirely new pattern of society with towns, a bourgeois class, spreading literacy, growing freedom of alternative social choices, and new, often disturbing, thoughts.”

Indeed! The inequality, far from being a systemic stain on the New Era, was in actuality part of the explanation of its stability. It was the “inequitable distribution of income” that allowed those who brought more value to the market to save and invest. Without this key component of savings and capital accumulation (much to the disapproval of the consumption-oriented Keynesians), there would be no Western Civilization. Thus, the emphasis in our time needs to be on private property and the glories of the division of labor and we must explicitly oppose any attempts to drive civilization toward egalitarian ends.

In complete rejection of Marxist and cultural egalitarian goals, it was the rise of the bourgeois, the high income earners, the beneficiaries of the proper entrepreneurial decisions, that were the foundation of Western Civilization. And this started not just in the industrial factory, but right at the very heart of society: the production of law and order. The division of labor allowed those who were good at something to be paid for doing that thing en masse and for many other consumers on the market rather than the agrarian-specific system wherein everyone produces only for their immediate needs. And just as interestingly, it took the collapse of the central (Roman) state to awaken the conditions necessary for a radically decentralized phenomenon to begin working.

Leave a Comment

The Flag-Burning Debacle

Donald J. Trump, that bastion of intellectually stimulating discourse, set Twitter aflame when he tweeted out that “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag- if they do, there must be consequences- perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail.”

The left suddenly pretended to care about the Constitution and appealed en masse to Supreme Court decisions protecting flag burning as free speech. Though hilariously, Hillary Clinton sponsored a 2005 bill to outlaw flag burning.

Here’s the thing though: Federal bans on American flag burning should not take place– not because it is free speech– but because flags are property owned by private property owners and the Federal Government has no authority over the use of private property. Rather than being a “free speech” issue, the more fundamental principle here is that it is a private property issue.

The purpose of the Bill of Rights, of which the 1st Amendment is a part, is not to declare 10 specific exceptions where the Federal Government cannot take action. No, the Constitution was written in such a way so as to prevent all actions except those that had been expressly delegated by the States and to the Federal Government. In this way, the Bill of Right was actually unnecessary because the Federal Government was never delegated power in those areas anyways. It was only added as a precaution against the Federalist tendencies to nationalize everything.

From a strict Constitutionalist perspective, the answer is simple: the Federal Government does not have delegated authority to make decisions regarding the proper use and treatment of flags. So-called Constitutionalists never make this argument, however, because doing so would reveal the unconstitutional nature of so much of the GOP’s actions since, well, its inception.

Now, the libertarian answer is obvious: the government acts contrary to its intention (prosecuting those who breach the property rights of others) when it is the one breaching the property rights of the owners of the flag. Easy peasy.

However, I do want to point out that there is no reason to jump to the other extreme and call those who burn flags heroic. It seems to me that such a juvenile and disruptive activity is intended merely to get attention and offend others. Look: people get offended at that kind of stuff. Why not challenge other people’s worldviews with reason and intellect? There is no need, in my opinion, to feel like we as libertarians are accomplishing something when we rejoice when a flag is burned.

We ought to live in a respectable and civilized manner. That’s how we win the future.

The deeper into libertarian theory, economic theory, and US history without all the State-sponsored propaganda one gets, the more disillusioned one become about all the symbols of American patriotism. If America itself is to be conflated with the Federal Government and its vast PR efforts, there is little reason to let one’s emotion get wrapped up in the flag.

There are some who say that the flag is nothing without the Federal Government and therefore is necessarily statist; there are others who view the flag as symbolic of a liberty-oriented ideal and therefore see the Federal Government as an enemy of that symbol.

There’s no libertarian position on that matter. Whatever your opinion I always recommend two courses of action: 1) don’t go out of your way to offend those who view things differently (though if offense is a byproduct of honesty and intellectual battle, so be it); and 2) don’t get so easily offended! Toughen up and defend your position.

As for me, I tend to prejudge that most flag-burners as silly leftist types and therefore roll my eyes; I also roll my eyes when someone gets offended at flag burning, as if it somehow harms them; and I also wish we didn’t have to get caught up in such ridiculous arguments.

As for Trump, of course his statement is absurd and anti-liberty. I also think nothing will come of it.

Leave a Comment

Liberty Classroom’s epic 50% off sale will soon go the way of the buffalo


I have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that there is only 8 hours left of you guys seeing me post about the goodness of Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom. You are really going to miss my sales-type posts, aren’t you? Email me for tissues.screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-1-59-53-pm
 
Well here’s the good news: there’s still a chance for you to get 50% off one of the best intellectual resources in the liberty movement. You get access to all the courses on history, economics, political theory and more. You can also access the live sessions with Tom and other professors. And, if you get the Master membership, you get all Tom’s courses from the Ron Paul Homeschool Curriculum.
We are talking an entire course on Austrian economics, the history of political and economic thought, a thorough rebuttal of that devilish economic system called Keynesianism, history of the US, history of Western Civ, and more. Much more.
Your fears of not having the ammunition throughout 2017 with which you can take on your statist friends, is now over.
 
“No way!” Yes way. Would I lie about this?
 
You have to sign up through my affiliate link! All the cool kids are doing it. Here it is: www.reformedlibertarian.com/woods 
Leave a Comment