Gardening is anti-government. The gardener is, in a little way, an anarchist. He doesn’t pay tax on his produce and no one tells him what to grow.
If you meditate on this, you begin to realize the immense importance of private property. Without private property, there is no freedom. That’s not rhetorical flourish or poetry or exaggeration. It’s naked reality.
If the State can take the position that all things come courtesy of government (“you didn’t build that”), then the State can even take away your garden, either directly (by seizure) or indirectly (by taxation). It reminds me of this quote from von Mises:… Read the rest
I’m none of those things. I’m a Subsidiarist. I believe in the Catholic bedrock of political philosophy, which holds the smallest units of government ought to handle whatever they can possibly handle with interference from larger units of government.
The household ought to handle what it can, and if a problem is too big for the household, the extended family should handle it. If the extended family can’t, go to local charities, friends, and neighbors. If it’s too big for that, city government. Then county government. Then state government. Then (gulp) national government.
It’s simple in concept, difficult to apply. Indeed, it’s Quixotic to apply it to today’s political scene, DC and the state capitals have grown so powerful and overwhelming that advocacy of the principle of subsidiarity is like advocating abstinence in a whorehouse.
But there is a movement of sorts that is akin to subsidiarity. It’s called “regionalism.” It’s not political, though. It’s cultural, but if politics follows culture, a regionalist cultural movement could be huge.
Regionalism, in the words of Bill Kauffman, is “’a revolt against cultural nationalism—that is, the tendency of artists to ignore or deny the fact that there are important differences, psychologically and otherwise, between the various regions of America’ . . . When the different regions develop characteristics of their own, they will come into competition with each other; and out of this competition a rich American culture will grow.”
I used to read a lot of Richard Weaver and the Southern Agrarians. They were big fans of regionalism (along with Flannery O’Connor), but their analysis focused on the South.
Kauffman, drawing on Grant Wood and his love for Iowa (Iowa!), … Read the rest
In this threatening age of The Great Reset and leftist rage at four years of Trump, the debate between conservatives and libertarians seems almost quaint. It would be like Great Britain and Ireland fighting over Belfast as a huge armada of Muslim Vikings starts to land.
Still, the debate is real. The two sides have so much in common (channel F.A. Hayek) and yet stand so far apart (channel Ayn Rand).
It’s a debate (more of a discussion, I think) that has long fascinated me, in part because I consider myself conservative and libertarian, which I’ve been assured is like thinking Belfast ought to be Catholic and Protestant. I’m not even sure how different the two sides are anymore. In a better world, the differences are real, but in today’s world of the most powerful western governments ever?
I’m just not sure the differences are significant.
But the differences are still worth exploring, just like I spend hours exploring the lines between anarchism and libertarianism, even though neither is going to exist any time soon (barring a nuclear war).
Ask yourself: “Do I think the government’s goals or aims should take priority over human nature?” Put another way: “Do I think the government’s noble end justifies a bad means?”
The Diocletian Test
In the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Diocletian faced a serious problem: lack of food. One of the reasons: farmers were abandoning agriculture and moving to the cities. The farmers were abandoning the farms because economic prospects in the city were far better and, in many cases, farming couldn’t sustain them and their families.
Diocletian’s solution? Serfdom. Require the farmers, and their kids, and their kids’ kids, and their kids’ kids’ kids, and so on for a millennium to stay on that specific parcel of land and farm it. If you abandon the farm for something better, you die.
The government had a goal (better food production) so it overrode a natural human trait (seeking economic improvement).
Diocletian’s solution, combined with a lot of other reforms, worked, incidentally. It saved the Empire at a time when contemporaries thought the whole thing was falling apart.
Do you applaud Diocletian’s establishment of the institution of serfdom (which, most people agree, was merely a better form of slavery, but still slavery)?
If so, then you can probably assume you have the totalitarian impulse. You, in other words, flunk the “Diocletian Test.”
The Diocletian Test Today
Shift to COVID.
Do you applaud the lockdowns?
If so, I’m afraid you flunk the Diocletian Test and might have the totalitarian impulse.
When it comes to lockdowns, the government has a goal (combat COVID . . . whatever “combat” might mean) so it overrides a natural human trait (to be social . . . we are “social animals,” even the introverts … Read the rest
It would be a great time revisit Bertrand de Jouvenel’s 1945 classic, On Power.
Progressive to . . . Something Else
Bertrand de Jouvenel was born in 1903 to an aristocratic family that embraced the “progressive” mores of the day. His parents divorced. His father married the famous novelist Colette in 1912. In 1920, de Jouvenel and Colette started an affair (de Jouvenel was just 16), which became a public scandal and (understandably) ended his father’s marriage.
In de Jouvenel, we aren’t dealing with a stodgy member of the bourgeois.
De Jouvenel was taught to view progress as inevitable, which was the accepted paradigm in those halcyon days of the early 1900s.
World War I shattered that paradigm. No longer was history viewed as constant progress.
De Jouvenel struggled with different political philosophies. In his twenties, he embraced a modified concept of laissez-faire political economy. In his thirties (which coincided with the 1930s and the Great Depression), he concluded that the market economy had failed miserably, but didn’t embrace the Communism or Fascism that became the fashionable theories of the day.
When the Germans occupied France, de Jouvenel pretended to support the Vichy government but secretly joined the Resistance. When he learned that the Nazis had become aware of it, he and his wife fled to Switzerland.
In Switzerland, he researched and wrote On Power, which was his attempt to explain the rise of the modern state. By understanding how the modern state arose, he hoped readers would understand why the modern state is a problem.
He would later use On Power as a launching point to explore how government could work better for the common good. … Read the rest
Okay, okay: this probably isn’t the appropriate season for the music of an angry Socialist punk band (it ain’t Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” album), but I couldn’t help it. I got pulled in last week by this Spotify podcast, Stay Free: The Story of The Clash.
It’s really good. I think it’s “overproduced,” in the sense that it tries a little too hard to be jumpy and punchy, making it a bit too disjointed. Each episode so far has started in medias res, then it jumps back, then returns to the middle, then back, then to the middle. I find it a bit disorientating, wholly unnecessary, and mildly disrespectful of the listener’s time.
However, it is really good so far (I’m 3/8ths of the way through).
The brief sidelight about drummer Terry Chimes (Episode 3; 15:00-20:00) is instructive.
Chimes was a butt of jokes because he wasn’t political. He was in the band to make money. That didn’t sit well with the rest of the band members, who let him know it. He finally quit shortly before the first album came out. (In retaliation, the band named him “Tory Crimes” on the credits.)
Years later, Chimes was interviewed and said, though he didn’t realize it at the time, everyone in the band was angry about life in general, which is why they were leftwing radicals:
Every one of those people, no exceptions, came from a broken home. I came from a happy home. When [the manager] would say, “The world’s horrible, it’s out to get you, you have to fight for every single thing,” they’d go “yeah.” I’d say, “I don’t think it’s like that at all. I think it’s, you know, quite happy
He points out that there has always been voter fraud and it’s primarily the Democrats (which makes sense; such things are the province of the big cities), but that doesn’t mean it’s futile to vote. Far from it.
But that’s exactly what the Left hopes happens. By allegedly perpetrating massive voter fraud this year (see below), they hope to discourage all opposition. The result? A George Soros world.
David Cole minces no words about what this would mean:
The worst of the worst on the left aren’t wizards, and if they’re to be effectively countered, it’s vital to understand how they do what they do. George Soros isn’t a warlock. He’s all too human, though arguably one of the most evil humans to ever draw breath. I’ve said this on Twitter and it sounds hyperbolic, but I’ve never been more serious in my life: The greatest tragedy of the Holocaust is that the one Jew who deserved to die survived. The number of innocent people who’ve been killed as a result of this vile man’s anarcho-tyranny agenda cannot be calculated.
David Cole has written one of the most interesting and amusing essays of 2020. Bonus: It’s about Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has always fascinated me. Among U.S. cities, it’s second only to NYC in my mind.
I’ve only been to L.A. once, but I’ve read a lot about it, and L.A. stories always get a click from me, so I feel like I kind of know the place.
But not like David Cole, whose recent article in Taki Magazine about L.A. is one of the best things I’ve read lately. It’s so good, that for the foreseeable future if I see “David Cole” anywhere, I’m going to click on the story, even if the link indicates it will go to a gay porn site.
Cole’s piece is about the collapse of L.A.’s black community.
I had heard a few times that the L.A. Mexican gangs were basically perpetrating genocide on the vastly outnumbered L.A. blacks on a scale that, if whites were doing it, would’ve gotten the United Nations involved, but because the violence didn’t fit the binary narrative, it was ignored.
Cole makes it clear that the genocide is almost complete. “L.A.’s black population has dwindled to just a few remaining areas that could realistically be called ‘black communities.’ It’s a ‘black belt’ that starts south and east of the prosperous Westside and stretches farther south beyond LAX. But those communities are placeholders, destined to be either Hispanic or gentrified within the next decade. And blacks know this.”
Cole’s story revolves a BLM protest against a Jewish developer who plans on renovating a run-down piece-of-s*** mall in a black community.
The concern is that, if the mall becomes nice, people are going to want to live around there. Property values will increase . … Read the rest