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Category: C.Jay Engel

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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The Utility of Non-Christian Libertarians

In the Reformed Libertarian Facebook group, there was a commenter some time ago who indicated that he was trying to learn most of his libertarian theory from Christian sources, rather than from “secular” libertarians. The first mistake made here was the assumption that Reformed Libertarianism is somehow libertarianism of a different flavor than Rothbardian libertarianism. This one drives me crazy, though I suppose our phrase can be misleading. Our libertarianism is Rothbardianism, it’s just that we’re setting it within a broader philosophical context, as would a “Natural Law libertarian” or a “utilitarian libertarian.”

Besides this, I also want emphasize something I said a few months ago: as Christians, one of the kingdoms to which we belong is the secular kingdom, the earthly and temporary kingdom which allows us to share goals in common with non-Christians. We long for a better world for our children, for increased prosperity, for property-rights based justice. These things are worthy of banding together with people of all worldviews (so long as we don’t confuse this earthly kingdom work with the heavenly kingdom work, which should be exclusive and discriminatory in who we team up with).

Thus, if property rights define the ideal social order, and there are libertarians who share this vision with us, they are allies with us. If they contribute to the logic of property rights and laissez faire market economics, they are to be promoted and praised. Equally, Christians, even those of the Reformed persuasion, who oppose the property rights order are not part of the liberty movement and we needn’t pretend that they are.

In my experience, most Christians are awful on political/economic concerns. They are not individualistic enough, they don’t think for themselves and, most importantly, they refuse to learn from so-called secularists. 

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Paul Gottfried on Insufferable Steve vs. Ron Paul

Paul Gottfried:

I’m also not surprised that CATO and Horwitz have been raging against Ron Paul as well as Jeff Deist. Why wouldn’t they? Unlike his left-libertarian critics, the former Texas Congressman harks back philosophically to the American Right before its Buckleyite reformulation in the 1950s. Paul not only favors free markets and the gold standard. He has no interest in waging crusades worldwide on behalf of the latest version of “American democratic values.” And unlike such current left libertarian heroes as Jamie Kirchik, Dr. Paul feels no yearning to export gay rights to Putin’s Russia or to impose gay marriage through federal courts on the entire country. It’s also been rumored that Dr. Paul attends a conservative Protestant church and still hasn’t conferred with Bibi.

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Steve the Insufferable

Impugning motives and ascribing sinister meaning to words is what Nancy MacLean does in her recent book. –Jeff Deist

The left-libertarian beltway “liberaltarian” vs. Mises Institute Rothbardian libertarian battle continues. It’s reflective not only in the definition of libertarianism employed by each, the former being far more vague and wishy-washy, but also in the cultural habits and tendencies as well. The leftists, being proponents of the disgraceful crusade on western cultural traditions and having a fixation on cultural diversity and internationalism for their own sake, lunge at the opportunity to smear their Rothbardian opponents with the tired cries of racism and bigotry. 2b78f2e25f06ed43f7dfe89c0ae9b1bf

Everything that offends them is “proof” of Nazism and fascism. Because the left has a difficult time engaging in rational discourse, they often dismiss everything they don’t like– anything with a remote characteristic of tradition and opposition to the god of diversity– as fascistic. It is the same disease that has infected everyone from the Southern Poverty Law Center to the Soros-funded protest movements to the rhetoric of Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, and Rachel Maddow. If someone’s opinion isn’t in line with their “melting pot” vision of Utopia, why, they must be Literally Hitler! It’s what the media says of Trump, it’s what leftist outlets like Salon and Slate say of conservatives in general, and sadly its what self-described libertarians like Roderick Long, David Boaz, Steve Horowitz, Jeffrey Tucker, and even key people at Students for Liberty, Reason Magazine, the Cato Institute, and Libertarianism.org say of the Rothbardians at the Mises Institute.

The greatest theorists of libertarianism and practitioners of libertarian strategies in our time are under constant attack for not towing the Progressive line on a litany of issues. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul, Tom Woods, Walter Block, Justin Raimondo, Stephan Kinsella. See my Progressive Libertarians Against the Old Guard essay for more on this phenomenon and backdrop. The Mises Institute’s newer President, Jeff Deist, has now officially made the list with his recent speech at Mises University.

In the speech, which was a call to take libertarianism to the heart and soul of the American people, Deist pointed out that the despite the left’s conspiracy to eradicate traditions, social institutions, cultural habits, historical tendencies, religions from western civilization, there is still a strong grasp on these things among the population at large. Of course, they have been weakened by the impact of the State propaganda and media apparatus which includes the education cartel, Hollywood, and the despicable nature of democratic appeal. And yet, there is a growing tiredness of “taking it on the chin” amongst conservatives. They are tired of their skin-tone, their communities, their religion, being mocked by the pompous leftist “intellectuals.” Thus, there is a still a strain of commitment to these things they hold dear. As a Progressive and internationalist Washington DC stamps down on their throats, we must help them realize that family and culture is more important than the established state. In this sense then, Deist employed the historical phrase “blood and soil” to his own rhetorical use.

But for the insufferable Steve Horowitz, this was all he needed to place the pin of Fascism square on Deist’s chest. Of course, Horowitz has long been obnoxious– stating he’d rather libertarians read Marx than Hoppe, calling everyone who is too conservative for him a Nazi-sympathizer. Upon reading Deist’s final sentence in the speech, which included the Offensive Phrase, Horowitz tripped over himself to call out the Mises Institute’s fascism on Facebook. Yes, the Mises Institute and Murray Rothbard, critics of all central planning and totalitarian rule, are to be regarded as in the same camp as Mussolini himself! It was the Nazi troops which invaded Mises’ apartment in Vienna, burned his library and caused him to escape, barely, to the west. The idea that the Mises Institute employs fascist and nazi sympathizers is a ludicrous proposition, of course, but for Steve the Insufferable there is a certain addiction to being as pompously absurd as possible. He has taken a line of fantasy right out of the Salon notebook of laughable strategies against the right.

Now, a normal person would interpret Jeff Deist’s words as follows: “we need to realize that people in this country still care about their traditions and their kinfolk, their culture. And we need to appeal to that, rather than join the leftist brigade of tearing it down.”

How a leftist interpreted his words: “he’s appealing to Nazi phrases and signaling his support of Hitler.”

You can’t make this stuff up. Leftists are insane and left-libertarians are a cancer on the movement. And as Jeff Deist pointed out on his own Facebook page, this action of “impugning motives and ascribing sinister meaning to words is what Nancy MacLean does in her recent book,” which for those of you who don’t know, was a sloppy and sorry attempt to discredit small-government conservatism by echoing the typical leftist battlecry: conservatives all hate children, want poor people to starve, and long for the rise of the slave-holding south!

And yet, here is Steve the Insufferable doing exactly what MacLean does. Down with Horowitz!

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Senate Passes Russia, Iran, North Korea Sanctions Bill, 98-2!

Writes Daniel McAdams at the LRC blog:

Minutes ago the US Senate passed HR 3364, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act by a massive 98 yeas to two nays. Opposing the bill were Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY). The bill passed in the House by 419-3 on Tuesday, with Reps Massie (R-KY), Amash (R-MI), and Duncan (R-TN) opposing.

The new sanctions bill ties President Trump’s hands on foreign policy, as he will be forced to ask Congress for permission to ease the measures.

Speaking in favor of the legislation, Sen. Bob Menendez (R-NJ) cited the need to send Russia a message that it cannot meddle in US elections, that it cannot annex Crimea, that it cannot invade Ukraine, and that it cannot indiscriminately kill women and children in Syria.

Those of us living in the actual real world recognize that the first count remains unproven and the remaining counts are simply fatuous, fact-free bluster by Washington’s uninformed, group-thinking, foreign policy elites. Fueled by the millions coming in to the military-industrial complex.

The House and Senate passed “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” now goes to President Trump’s desk, where he faces a damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t scenario. A veto would certainly be over-ridden, handing the president a bitter bi-partisan blow that would likely end whatever aspirations he may retain to keep his campaign promises to get along better with Russia. Similarly, signing the bill signs a death warrant for any foreign policy different than the one served up by the neocons for decades: create enemies; push war propaganda; collect massive checks from military industrial complex; demonize any American refusing to go along; repeat, adding bombs as necessary.

Checkmate, President Trump.

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Trump vs. the Transexuals

Since everyone’s talking about Trump and transexuals in the military (a topic which exposes the sheer degradation of classical western civilization), here is Rothbard commenting on Clinton’s decision regarding gays in the military back in ’93:
“This brings us to the first controversial move of the Clinton-elect pre-administration: eliminating the ban on gays in the military. The military should be considered like any other business, organization, or service; its decisions should be based on what’s best for the military, and “rights” have nothing to do with such decisions. The military’s long-standing ban on gays in the military has nothing to do with “rights” or even “homophobia”; rather it is the result of long experience as well as common sense.
Finally, [left]-libertarians will fall back on their standard argument that while all these strictures do apply to private organizations, and that “rights” do not apply to such organizations, egalitarian rights do apply to such governmental outfits as the military. But, as I have written in the case of whether someone has “the right” to stink up a public library just because it is public, this sort of nihilism has to be abandoned. I’m in favor of privatizing everything, but short of that glorious day, existing government services should be operated as efficiently as possible. Surely, the postal service should be privatized, but, pending that happy day, should we advocate allowing postal workers to toss all the mail into the dumpster, in the name of making that service as terrible as possible? Apart from the horrors such a position would impose upon the poor consumers (that’s us), there is another grave error to this standard libertarian position (which I confess I once held), that it besmirches and confuses the fair concept of “rights,” and transmutes it from a strict defense of an individual’s person and property, to a confused, egalitarian mishmash. Hence, “anti-discrimination” or even affirmative action “rights” in public services sets the conditions for their admittedly monstrous expansion into the private realm.”
Besides the fact that there is no libertarian reason to embrace affirmative action (there’s no inherent “right” to a job in the military) in government agencies, there’s also the hilarious irony of Progressives everywhere dismayed that their precious victim class will not be allowed to join the Slaughtering Class
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The Five Best Books I’ve Ever Read

This summer has been one of book buying. During my move, I took the opportunity to purify my bookshelves, opening up tons of space for better quality. In getting my office setup, it was fun to look back over everything I own. Here are the five best (defined in terms of their impact on my thought) books I’ve ever read:

Five: Power and Market by Murray Rothbard

Four: Betrayal of the American Right by Murray Rothbard

Three: Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray Rothbard by Justin Raimondo

Two: Democracy: The God that Failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

One: Religion, Reason, and Revelation by Gordon H. Clark

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The relationship between the State and Christianity is a three-pronged issue

One deficiency I have observed among Evangelical Christian comments on political theory, especially from the Reformed perspective (because the Reformed tradition is 85% of the Christian material I read), is that there are basically two categories of questions that are addressed in seeking answers regarding the relationship between Christianity and the State.  Evangelical commentary on political theory blur the categories in an unhelpful matter and don’t recognize the significance of a clear cut “three pronged” approach to Christian analysis of the State.

What I am saying is that there are three categories that need to be addressed by the Christian political theorist, but many Christian thinkers only address two.  Not only does this render the analysis greatly incomplete, but it also contributes to the lack of understanding regarding the proper position on a variety of so-called “policy” issues.

The first category that needs to be addressed is whether God has ordained the State in history.  That is to say, the question is, is the existence of the State contrary to God’s ordaining will?  The answer is that God has surely ordained the State to exist in history.  Nebuchadnezzar was referred to as God’s servant (Jer 43:10, 27:6) and since God ordains the existence of every atom and the life and death of every person, so he also ordains the States that exist around the world –yes, even Nero, Hitler, Bush, and Obama.  God is the grand controller of the universe and nothing is unless he has determined it to be.

The second category that needs to be addressed is whether God commands the Christian to subject himself to the StateAgain, the answer is very clearly yes (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2).  The reason that the Bible gives this command to Christians, I am convinced, is because the early Christians were to live at peace with everybody and not stir up trouble so as to attract unwarranted attention from an imperial state that was systematically opposed to the small Christian church during the first century.  Of course, this command is still applicable today, as we must be reminded that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world and it is in vain that we seek to overthrow and take over earthly thrones.  A general admonition to be subject to the State does not mean that we ought to obey the State when it commands us to do what God prohibits (subsidize abortions), nor should we obey the State when it prohibits us from doing that which God has commanded (preaching the Gospel).

Now, here is where the common deficiency exists among Christian thinkers. They stop here and then confuse the second category with the third and final one.  They assume that because we ought to be generally subject to the State, this means that there is no moral (or economic) problem with the State’s activities whenever it doesn’t prohibit that which God commands or command that which God prohibits.  In this way, things like Social Security (a retirement scheme which exists by government coercion), because saving for retirement in itself is not contradictory to God’s precepts, are far too often completely ignored by the Christian political thinker.  But what they don’t realize is that there is a third category that we must consider; namely whether the individuals who run the State have the moral authority to act contrary to God’s transcendent and binding moral law.

It is in this category, that we find the intellectual ammunition to oppose the whole of the modern state, kit and caboodle.  For just because one is a member of the government does not give him moral permission to take money out of the citizen’s paycheck and call it the income tax, take men from their families and call it conscription, enact a special round of taxes and say it is for “Medicare,” force businesses to comply with absurd regulations for “health and safety reasons,” take control over the education system, monopolize the money and banking sector by banning market competition, engage in fraud and currency devaluation by allowing fractional reserve banking, ban the use of alcohol and certain drugs (while subsidizing others), determine by law where certain prices should be (such as wages, gasoline, interest rates, and housing rents), and a whole plethora of other things.  In short, the individuals in the government itself are bound to obey the Ten Commandments as is every other individual in the nation. No person may steal and none may murder.  No person shall order by threat of violence the actions of peaceful men.  No person may initiate aggression against thy neighbor and governments too will be held to account for the deeds that they do.

Beyond the second category, which addresses whether Christians should obey the State that reigns over them, there exists the oft-ignored third category, which is political theory proper (as distinct from practical political theory —see here).  It is here that we must ask ourselves: is a given action of this agency consistent or inconsistent with the ethical stipulations of God?  Yes, we will subject ourselves to its deeds and turn the other cheek when it wrongs us. For in this we portray to the world that Christ, not the world, is our treasure.  But if we ignore this third category altogether, we are failing to apply the law of God to every institution that arises.  As Murray Rothbard once stated, our chief motivation for being libertarians is because we care about justice (see my comments on Rothbard’s statement here). But where the Christian has an advantage over Rothbard is we have a divine lawgiver who provides for us in clear terms the moral standard by which to compare the State.

1.  Know where the State acts wrongly.

2. Subject yourself to it, for Christ will have his vengeance in due time.

3. All things exist for the praise of this glorious name.

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John Robbins on “Christian” Statists in Power

He calls the Bush era effort to subsidize “Christian” groups one of “faith based fascism.” And he ends with the following screed:

End the student loans; they are funded by money stolen from taxpayers; they have driven the cost of a college education out of sight; and they are used to put young people deeply into debt at the start of their lives.

End the child care vouchers; they are funded by money stolen from taxpayers, and they are used to put children into 9-to-5 orphanages.

End the subsidies for medical care; they are funded with money stolen from taxpayers; they have raised the price of medical care to exorbitant levels; they have encouraged people not to provide for their own; and they have made government an idol.

End the subsidies to Catholic Charities and World Vision; they are funded with money stolen from taxpayers. If those charities were half as wonderful as they tell us, their efforts would attract adequate voluntary contributions. The fact that these charities must rely on funds obtained by force suggests that their programs are less than worthwhile, less than efficient, or less than beneficial.

And let’s be clear about charity. Charity is not compelling someone else to give his money to the poor. It is giving one’s own money away; it is freely contributing one’s own time. Government charity is a contradiction in terms, for government has no money except what it collects by force from others. What President Bush proposes is not greater charity, but aggravated theft and increased compulsion. There is nothing Christian or charitable about it. It is a violation of the Ten Commandments.

This writer has heard no “Christian” leader give the correct answers to the President’s questions. They have already agreed in principle with the President’s faith-based fascism. Long ago they abandoned the whole counsel of God, choosing which Biblical doctrines they would believe and teach, and which they would ignore. Many of them have abandoned the Gospel of the substitutionary death of Christ for his people and justification by faith alone. Now they have denied what the Scriptures teach on private property, the role of government, and the social order.

The salt has lost its savor; it has become worthless; and it deserves to be trodden underfoot by men.

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Diversity in Law, But not in Morals

Because all humans, regardless of whether they are elect, are in the Noahic Covenant, things like civil laws and the role of governance in society are for everyone’s benefit. The goal of civil laws are not to make men right with God, but to keep the world progressing until every elect person is saved. God promised not to flood the earth again because he doesn’t want it destroyed until everyone who has been elected has been justified. Thus, civil laws and governance are temporarily concerned and can be crafted and initiated together with believers and unbelievers in the common kingdom. As Calvin said after noting the Judicial laws had been “taken away:”

“surely every nation is left free to make such laws as it foresees to be profitable for itself.”

Of course, Calvin made major mistakes in the area of jurisprudence, but his words are in the right direction, even if not all that close to a pure libertarian formulation. But the point is that because God’s people are not a single physical nationality, as was arranged under the Old Covenant framework, he no longer has a strict blueprint set of laws for post-Christ governments.

There are moral principles indeed (Calvin refers to the principle of love— and we libertarians define this more specifically to relate to non-aggression), which ought to guide the specifics of a code, but there is not single list of divine-granted codified stipulations for civil engagement as there was under the Old Covenant.

The divine purpose of civil law is to promote peace among men, to deal with the problem of conflict (per Hoppe), and to keep things moving forward until the full number of elect have been saved. And property owners ought to take this concept of civil law and craft the appropriate rules and regulations about the use of their property. Unfortunately, the State has swept in to monopolize and make artificial the entire purpose of the law.

While there can be diversity in positive laws, there is one moral code applicable to everyone. And we use this moral code to judge the wrongdoing of the state and it’s bastardization of the purpose of law: conflict avoidance in accordance with property ownership rules.

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Gary North versus Bionic Mosquito

Well this is juicy.

I republish many Bionic Mosquito articles. I’ve enjoyed correspondence with him over the years. His real name is Jonathan Goodwin and he has been around the libertarian movement for some time.

Recently, he wrote a fictional post, found here. It was a hypothetical about a nearly ideal “propertarian” community and how they solved a property rights situation in a peaceful way. He wrote it in the first person.

Gary North read it. He thought it was a true story. He wrote up an article about it and put it on his site.

Then he found out, per BM’s follow-up post, that it was a fictional account.

Now North is angry, and likely embarrassed– the former because of the latter.

North writes:

The anonymous editor of the Bionic Mosquito has crossed the line. I will never trust him again.

He made up a story about his community. In my summary of it, I said it sounded amazing. I had never read anything like it before. Well, there was a reason for that: the article was a hoax.

I suppose he thought he was clever. He is not clever. He is a willful deceiver. He betrayed his readers without qualms. He also betrayed the people who gave him publicity and helped him build his site.

Now he finds that his hoax has multiplied. This seems to come as a surprise to him. It shouldn’t. He was trusted.

Bionic Mosquito is open about his name– Jonathan Goodwin. He’s not trying to deceive anyone, those who read him consistently recognize his writing style. At any rate, it seems petty of North to get so worked up about it. He doesn’t know Goodwin, as he admits, and there’s no reason to assume Goodwin was planning a hoax. It was a parable.

Kinda humorous, if you ask me.

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The State as a Contradiction in Terms

Ethically, we have in the State, as defined above, a contradiction in terms.  For if the State is the means by which private property is supposed to be ultimately defended, and yet the State declares, independent of the will of the property owner, what the property owner must pay him or be recipient of violent expropriation, then the private property itself, rather than being defended, is threatened.  As Hoppe notes: “However, a tax-funded life-and-property protection agency is a contradiction in terms: an expropriating property protector.”

Moreover, if the State claims unto itself the right to act as the sole provider of its services and actively seeks the elimination of any competitors, then in driving other competitors out of business, here too it contradicts its very intended role.  Any State that allows its citizens to choose another criminal punishment corporation if they desire, that is, any State that does not consider itself as the sole provider of its “services,” cannot last as a State any longer than the citizens allow it. And thus, being essentially a voluntary organization, it loses its status as a State; for States are force, not cooperation.  Therefore, a State must, to retain its label, actively seek the eradication of all jurisdictional competitors; and in doing so, it contradicts its role of defender of private property.  For it must violate the private property of its competitor in order to eliminate it.

[…]

The private-law society is one in which all individuals are bound by the same law and there is none who is legally allowed to exempt himself. There is no “public property,” and every owner of property is the ultimate decision maker over the use and restrictions of his property.  There are no public officials who can for “the public interest,” expropriate wealth from the property owner, restrict by force the entrepreneurial activity of the owner in the form of regulations, or create tax-funded bureaucracies, for whatever purpose he has in mind.  No one is allowed to acquire property except by way of original appropriation or voluntary trade; neither is anyone allowed to “prohibit anyone else from using his property in order to enter any line of production he wishes and compete against whomever he pleases.” (Hoppe).

Taken from: http://reformedlibertarian.com/articles/history/the-civil-magistrate-vs-the-state/

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A Note on the Religious and the Secular

It’s dawned on me that our understanding of the nature of the Kingdoms (the City of God and the City of Man, to use Augustine phrases) influences our understanding of the meaning of religious as opposed to secular. Clearly, for the Neo-Kuyperians, dominionists, and other one-kingdomers, everything is religious because there is no other alternative, being as there is only one kingdom.

To clarify the way I use the language, given my understanding of the covenants, let me say this. If “religion” means having to do with the kingdom of heaven, then it can be properly juxtaposed with secular, which refers to the second (earthy) kingdom. If religion means worldview or, as I prefer, “philosophical system,” well then juxtaposing with with “secular” makes no sense.

Clearly, my favorite definition, in general, of religion is philosophical system. But when I use religion in the context of a religious/secular distinction, I am actually trying to communicate the distinction between the kingdoms. In this case, therefore, I am not drawing a distinction, as the one-kingdomers might blame me, between living/thinking philosophically neutral and living/thinking religiously.

“Secular” doesn’t refer to a state of philosophical “neutrality,” it refers to whatever is not in the very narrow kingdom of heaven (the church). Secular refers to the “mixed” covenant, in which stands both the elect and the non-elect.

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