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Month: May 2017

U.S. Transhumanist Party Interview with Kevin Baugh, President of Molossia

U.S. Transhumanist Party Interview with Kevin Baugh, President of Molossia

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
******************************

To celebrate Founders’ Day – the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Molossia – representatives of the U.S. and Nevada Transhumanist Parties made an international trip on May 27, 2017, to join President Kevin Baugh in his micronation.

Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, interviewed President Baugh on what attributes are needed to form a successful, long-lasting micronation, how micronationalism can inform our understanding of politics, countries, and governments, and how technology is essential to the development of micronations. Both micronationalism and technology have the potential to bring people closer together in terms of finding others who share similar interests and goals.

This speech by President Baugh provides background into the founding of Molossia and the concept behind it, as well as the ambitions for its future as a leading micronation of the world.

Find out about the Republic of Molossia here and read its Wikipedia entry here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party website here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free here.

Section XXII of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform reads: “The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts at political, economic, and cultural experimentation in the form of seasteads and micronations. Specifically, the United States Transhumanist Party recognizes the existence and sovereignty of the Principality of Sealand, the Republic of Molossia, and the Free Republic of Liberland, and supports the recognition of these entities by all governments and political parties of the world.”

U.S. Transhumanist Party Interview with Travis McHenry, Grand Duke of Westarctica

U.S. Transhumanist Party Interview with Travis McHenry, Grand Duke of Westarctica

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
******************************

Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, interviews Grand Duke Travis McHenry of Westarctica on the attributes needed to form a long-lasting micronation, the role of technology in enabling more micronations to form over time, and what micronationalism can teach us about politics and organizational leadership.

Find out about Westartica here and read its Wikipedia entry here.

Visit the U.S. Transhumanist Party website here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free here.

Section XXII of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Platform reads: “The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts at political, economic, and cultural experimentation in the form of seasteads and micronations. Specifically, the United States Transhumanist Party recognizes the existence and sovereignty of the Principality of Sealand, the Republic of Molossia, and the Free Republic of Liberland, and supports the recognition of these entities by all governments and political parties of the world.”

In the spirit of this plank, the U.S. Transhumanist Party also recognizes the nation of Westarctica and the efforts of Grand Duke Travis to eventually render its territory suitable for human habitation.

Trump’s Ego Is Actually Too Small – Article by Dan Sanchez

Trump’s Ego Is Actually Too Small – Article by Dan Sanchez

The New Renaissance Hat
Dan Sanchez
******************************

Long before Donald Trump became a controversial political figure, he was a household name famous for his phenomenal ego.

He first rose to fame as a larger-than-life real-estate tycoon. By cultivating the media, Trump became the poster boy for the gilded, go-go 80s: a brash, ostentatious capitalist antihero who plastered his name on skyscrapers, plazas, hotels, casinos, and resorts. At one point he even sought to rename the Empire State Building after himself, calling it the Trump Empire State Building Tower Apartments.

And in the 2000s, with his hit reality show The Apprentice, he became the godfather of the “famous for being famous” celebrity culture of that period.

Even now that he is President of the United States, his public persona is characterized, not only by his filter-free utterances and his divisive policy positions, but by his egomania: his braggadocio and his “I-alone-can-fix-it” self-importance.

His fans would disagree, but for the sake of argument, let’s grant that his ego is indeed a character flaw. Is the problem really that his ego is too big? Or is it actually too small?

The Fragile Self

As Nathaniel Branden, the late psychotherapist who pioneered the psychology of self-esteem, once wrote on his blog:

“…sometimes when people lack adequate self-esteem they fall into arrogance, boasting, and grandiosity as a defense mechanism—a compensatory strategy. Their problem is not that they have too big an ego but that they have too small a one.”

And in his book Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, Branden wrote:

“Sometimes self-esteem is confused with boasting or bragging or arrogance; but such traits reflect not too much self-esteem, but too little; they reflect a lack of self-esteem. Persons of high self-esteem are not driven to make themselves superior to others; they do not seek to prove their value by measuring themselves against a comparative standard. Their joy is in being who they are, not in being better than someone else.”

If anything, Trump is not self-oriented enough, but rather far too other-oriented. He is unhealthily preoccupied with receiving from others favorable comparisons to others. This is exhibited in his tendency toward vanity: his fixation on receiving due credit from the media and the public for the relative size of his hands, of his crowds, and of his “ratings” (as if his presidency was just an extension of his career as a reality TV star).

It is a fragile ego, and not a strong one, that so urgently needs external props.

Such weakness of ego is especially dangerous in a commander-in-chief of a superpower’s armed forces. The media exacerbates that danger by only giving Trump the adulation he craves whenever he threatens or attacks “rogue nations.” As Gene Healy wrote after Trump authorized a missile strike against the Syrian regime:

“His drive-by bombing has already earned him strange new respect from neoconservative #NeverTrump-ers, who appear to believe that the mercurial celebreality billionaire is at his least frightening when he’s literally blowing things up. Centrist pundit Fareed Zakaria echoed that grotesque logic on CNN: ‘I think Donald Trump became president of the United States [that] night.’

As much as he disdains the media establishment, Trump revels in this sort of praise. It may not be long before he free-associates about it in interviews: “my airstrikes – which got terrific ratings, by the way….” And when the glow fades, he may be tempted to light it up again.”

Collectivist Crutches

Some of Trump’s biggest fans also evince fragile egos, especially the growing fringe of white nationalists.

As Branden wrote:

“It would be hard to name a more certain sign of poor self-esteem than the need to perceive some other group as inferior.”

And as Ayn Rand wrote in The Virtue of Selfishness:

“The overwhelming majority of racists are men who have earned no sense of personal identity, who can claim no individual achievement or distinction, and who seek the illusion of a “tribal self-esteem” by alleging the inferiority of some other tribe.”

Of course, it is not only the political right that suffers from ego-deficiency. The identity-politics left, like the “identitarian” right, is also preoccupied with collectivist comparisons. The left dwells on an inverted sort of superiority based on group victimhood. Social justice warriors participate in the “Oppression Olympics” as a way to win what Rand called “tribal self-esteem” to make up for their lack of individual self-esteem: to shore up their small, weak egos.

But since the individual self is the only true self, “tribal self-esteem” is a poor substitute for the real thing. A spiritual diet that relies on such ersatz fare results in malnourished egos, as expressed in the pained, frantic screeching of many campus protestors.

These millennial “snowflakes” are condemned as narcissists. But if anything, they too are excessively other-oriented: obsessed with their group identity (defined by their similarities with others), with the inferior societal position of their group compared to other groups, and with receiving due recognition from others about the social injustice of that state of affairs.

The Strong Self

Branden characterized self-esteem as “the immune system of consciousness, providing resistance, strength, and a capacity for regeneration.” He wrote:

“The question is sometimes asked, ‘Is it possible to have too much self-esteem?’ No, it is not; no more than it is possible to have too much physical health or too powerful an immune system.”

The ugliest aspects of today’s politics largely stem from a problem of emaciated egos, not overweening ones. If we would but reclaim what Branden called “the disowned self,” we would become more enterprising and resilient, less emotionally needy, less prone to wallow in resentment, less reliant on demagogues offering political solutions to economic frustrations at the expense of others, less dependent on group identity as our source of individual self-worth, and, contrary to caricatures of individualism, more civilized and sociable.

dan-sanchezDan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writings are collected at DanSanchez.me.

This article was originally published on FEE.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

The White-Owned-Restaurant Outrage Is Wildly Misplaced – Article by Liz Wolfe

The White-Owned-Restaurant Outrage Is Wildly Misplaced – Article by Liz Wolfe

The New Renaissance Hat
Liz Wolfe
******************************

The latest political correctness outcry is a series of “white-owned appropriative restaurants” in Portland. While there are legitimate grievances to be made against white people who mock other cultures and then use them to profit once they become trendy, tirades like this list don’t level the economic playing field. More often than not, they breed resentment as political-correctness fights tend to back people into their respective partisan corners.

I read all the articles listed on the first page of the list –I should educate myself about hardships other people face while I remain immune. I’ll give credit where it’s due: many of these articles center around the idea that systemic disadvantage creates poverty, and many people of color don’t have the same financial resources to open restaurants that their white counterparts have. It follows, then, that white people get to profit from rich cultural traditions while the people who have claim to that origin don’t. I see how that feels viscerally unfair.

But are white entrepreneurs really the culprits here, or is it a larger system of historic disadvantage that has created these differences in wealth? Which system should we rebel against?

Appropriating Tortillas and Hip-Hop

Portland’s Kooks Burritos food truck, one of the restaurants listed, recently closed their doors for good, presumably as a result of all the hate they’d been getting. In a profile by the Willamette Week, founders describe being entranced by the tortillas they had on a trip to Mexico. This inspired them to ask local ladies about the ingredients, but they would only reveal part of the recipe, not the techniques, leading the two Kooks founders to peek into windows of nearby restaurants attempting to learn the art of tortilla-making. Two white women spying on resistant Mexican cooks to open a trendy food truck sparked outrage.

There’s a tough balance between co-opting traditions and voluntarily sharing customs. Perhaps the owners of Kooks Burrito erred too far on the side of co-opting, as they attempted to steal recipes from locals instead of engaging in voluntary exchange. But demonizing them is yet another foolish battle that won’t right the wrongs of the past or teach fruitful lessons to white restaurant owners.

Cultural sharing isn’t something to be intrinsically discouraged. Appropriation, as a concept, often seems logically inconsistent. When an American university fraternity tried to throw a theme party with a play on the song “Bad and Boujee,” administrators objected, citing “cultural appropriation” as the problem. But which culture are we talking about? Which people are being subjugated and what is the true origin? “Latin, French, Marxist, Urban hip-hop?” suggested Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post. In other words, is any iteration apart from the true origin an offensive act?

I doubt it. When we wade down the slippery slope of condemning people for well-intentioned practices, we often create enemies and become a culture where people are brutally shamed for their missteps, never learning from their mistakes.

How does this work when practices like yoga come under fire? Is yoga a less heinous thing to take part in because the origin is often explained more thoroughly? Perhaps yoga classes in US-based ashrams should continue to exist, but what about my less-conscious local YMCA? And still, who should make these judgment calls?

Using these Opportunities for Good

There seems to be a lot of gray area, and I doubt attempts to exercise more control over the individual would create good outcomes. Generally speaking, let’s reserve use of authority and force for the direst situations in which people are directly harming one another.

A hardline reaction either way is misguided. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle – marginalized groups have been historically disadvantaged, and that disadvantage often remains for many decades. But cultural appropriation isn’t necessarily bad, nor is it as easily defined, as social-justice advocates might hope. It’s through cultural sharing, in its many forms, that people are able to make a living, spread knowledge of a particular topic, and advance current practices.

If a white business owner is spreading popularity of Burmese food, for example, and creating more demand for it, could that be a good thing for hopeful Burmese immigrants intent on entering the industry?

I went to a white-owned Burmese restaurant in Thailand where the owners had pamphlets on current events – namely the ethnic cleansing that has gripped much of the country. Although my appetite was reduced, exposure to Burmese culture made me more invested in Burmese current events. Now, headlines stick out to me. I remind traveler friends that they should be conscious of where their tourism money goes, as much of it unintentionally ends up lining the pockets of corrupt government officials.

White ownership isn’t the problem in Portland. Instead, it’s a complex web of systemic disadvantage, fear of ignorance on the part of proprietors, and worries that hard-working immigrants will be shoved out of the market. Those are more than worth fixing, but filing this cleanly under the “cultural appropriation” label doesn’t give proper weight to the many sides of this important issue.

Let’s stop condemning the wrong practices.

Author’s Note: I reached out to the creators of the “white-owned restaurants” spreadsheet with several questions. They said, “We can answer questions off the record to further your own understanding, but we are uncomfortable providing a statement due to the news media’s tendency to offer racist counterpoints in the name of ‘fairness.’ Let us know if that is agreeable.”

Liz Wolfe

Liz Wolfe is managing editor of Young Voices. You can follow her on Twitter: @lizzywol.

 

This article was originally published on FEE.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

The Non-Battle of Auburn Was a True Victory for Liberty – Article by Dan Sanchez

The Non-Battle of Auburn Was a True Victory for Liberty – Article by Dan Sanchez

The New Renaissance Hat
Dan Sanchez
******************************

Auburn, Alabama is nicknamed “the loveliest village on the plains.” But ugliness threatened to descend on it last Tuesday when outsiders came looking for a fight. Thankfully, residents and Auburn University students refused to oblige, much to their honor and wisdom.

The occasion was a speech on campus by white-nationalist provocateur Richard Spencer. Spencer’s representatives had booked the space ahead of time, but the university tried to rescind. Spencer intended to deliver the speech anyway, but a federal court settled the matter by forcing the school to fulfill the contract on First Amendment grounds.

In a stroke of brilliance, student groups, including AU’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, organized a music concert for students to attend as a peaceful protest, and generally encouraged all to be civil. This creative and constructive response proudly stands in stark contrast to the screaming fits and vandalism that has met right-wing speakers on other campuses throughout the country. Through its cool, rational, and moral leadership in the affair, the AU Young Americans for Liberty distinguished itself as a true representative of the spirit of classical liberalism.

However, outside groups also came into town, with decidedly non-peaceful intentions. It was the usual suspects: leftist agitators including Antifa and rightist pro-Trump activists ready to confront them.

The Washington Post inaccurately reported that “violence erupted,” only to later edit their story, admitting that they had grossly exaggerated what happened. There was only one momentary exchange of fisticuffs between two out-of-towners that was immediately broken up by local police.

Civil Warmongers

Militants on both the left and the right are probably disappointed that significant political violence didn’t actually erupt in Auburn, as it has three times this year in Berkeley, California. Each Berkeley brouhaha has been more violent than the last, with Marxists pepper spraying, swarming, and beating nationalists, and nationalists punching and clubbing their assailants in response.

Both sides are itching for a fight. With the left, this is manifest in the fact that they are typically the ones to strike first. They self-righteously posture as “anti-fascists” (thus, “Antifa”), yet they employ the decidedly fascist tactic of using violence to try to silence their political enemies.

But many on the right are looking for trouble as well. They claim to merely be asserting their right to free speech and protecting that right through self-defense. And for many, that claim is genuine. But for the militants among them, it’s far more than that.

Many on the populist, nationalist right clearly relish the prospect of mixing it up with the left, or in the case of chest-puffing Internet Warriors, of goading others into doing so on their behalf. They make this quite explicit in their proclamations on social media, blogs, and comment threads. They exhibit, not just a resolute “guardian” mentality, but a pugnacious “warrior” mindset.

Many self-styled “patriots” believe that a civil war is coming: indeed, that the early stages are already upon us. The truest-believers among them seek to accelerate that conflict, so that it can be decided in their favor all the sooner. Some even believe that massacres will be necessary. To show that I’m not being paranoid or making things up, this is how an “anti-communist” activist on Facebook responded to my previous article on this topic:

“Oh and I don’t think this is possible to resolve without violence. The left is so unbelievably radicalized. I tried to talk with them and after trying to speak to them for almost 12 hours, one person actually engaged me while everyone else just screamed Nazi at me. They, by and large, are incapable of reason. When reason fails, what other options do we have? I would prefer secession, but I think we all know that the parasites won’t let us leave peacefully. It’s going to end in war one way or another. I fear we may even need to conduct mass exterminations of the left. They’ve become almost a difference species to us. How do you deal with that kind of gap? They’re literally a Satanic horde of barbarians driven to psychotic behavior.”

In other words, “They unreasonably call us Nazis, therefore we must behave like Nazis.”

If you know where to look, or if you write an article that rustles the right jimmies, you can find, or be found by, comments approaching this level of savagery all around the internet: the self-righteous warmongering, the rhetoric of dehumanization, the recourse to extermination.

As Christian individualist Will Grigg wisely warned shortly before his recent passing, this kind of thinking is fomented by political street violence: even the low-level, posturing, somewhat silly clashes we’ve seen thus far:

“…through political cosplay people can become habituated into thinking in eliminationist terms: The “other side” is not merely gravely mistaken, but irreducibly evil, and since reason is unavailing the only option that remains is slaughter.”

For still other radicalized nationalists, not just leftists, but other “less-than-American” demographic groups (especially Muslims) are also to be expelled or exterminated en masse.

Rules for Radicals

Many militant nationalists welcome and encourage these left/right face-offs in the streets, because they want matters to be brought to a head. They hope the successive brawls will continue to escalate, culminating in the outbreak of a full-on civil war that will decide the issue once and for all.

But they face the fundamental problem that besets all extremists in times of relative civil peace: they are a numerically tiny fringe. They can only hope to launch and win such a climactic war if they can induce large numbers of moderates to join the fight. The standard way militant extremist fringes have dealt with this problem has been to precipitate and/or instigate political violence in a bid to swell their ranks by radicalizing moderates.

When sympathizers see pictures of men and women draped in American flag apparel and MAGA hats with pepper spray in their eyes and blood in their noses after having been brutalized by leftist hoodlums, it incites them to lend their own muscle to the next flashpoint. Each battle, if sufficiently sensationalized, serves as a recruitment drive for the next. This explains the otherwise bizarre phenomenon of a right-wing agitator at Berkeley gleefully grinning on camera after having been beaten up, obviously ecstatic over having his bloodied face broadcast far and wide.

Each Battle of Berkeley recruited for the next. Now rightwing firebrand Ann Coulter is threatening to defy her dis-invitation from UC Berkeley and show up to give a speech there next week. Not only veterans, but viewers of the previous Battles of Berkeley, both left and right, might be eager to join Round Four.

Not only does sensational conflict provide militant extremists with more allies, but it wins them more followers. As conditions become more warlike, the leadership of political movements tends to fall into the hands of the most antipathy-driven and aggressively violent factions.

For example, after the Arab Spring protest movement in Syria was militarized by US shipments of weapons, supplies, and money, leadership of the resistance was quickly seized by Al Nusra (Syrian Al Qaeda) and ISIS.

This “vanguard effect,” as we might call it, is almost certainly why Antifa is so eager to incite and instigate clashes as well. The militant right and the militant left feed off of each other in a symbiosis of savagery.

Thus a writer for a major white-nationalist web site, in an article about the recent events in Auburn, seemed to be just as disappointed as the strife-mongering Washington Post over the anticlimactic way it panned out, again thanks to the leadership of AU’s Young Americans for Liberty. He expressed frustration that not enough libertarians were entering the fray, either in word or in deed. After enumerating a litany of national grievances against the left, he whined that:

“Each of these should be enough to make a real friend of liberty grab a stick and join the fight against the antifa.”

Yeah, Well They Started It

For many of the right-populist demonstrators in Berkeley, letting the left throw the first punch has been a matter of principle. But many of their militant allies and supporters have no moral compunctions against initiating violence against Marxists like the Antifa, as their online discourse indicates.

Just as the militant left shares memes about sucker-punching Nazis WWII-style, simply for believing in Nazism, the militant right has its own memes about throwing Communists from helicopters Pinochet-style, simply for believing in Communism. For pretend-militants, this is only 4chan-style dark humor. But for the many actual militants, it is a laughing expression of a deadly-serious belief.

Both sides speciously rationalize such violence as preemptive or defensive on the grounds that their political enemies have already initiated violence by supporting rights-violating policies. Such a breezy renunciation of the principles of free speech/thought and proportional defense/justice is nothing but civil war propaganda masquerading as moral philosophy.

So, for the “Helicopter Right,” letting the left lash out first is clearly not a matter a principle. For them, it is a cynical strategy of war. Unlike their less-disciplined leftist counterparts, the militant right realizes that such restraint gives them a plausible claim to the moral high ground, which in turn aids recruitment by contributing to the perception that their cause is just. If the militant right ever takes the lead of a force with real heft, the moral high ground would rapidly become more strategically costly than beneficial. Once that happens, don’t expect them to observe such non-aggression-principle “niceties” indefinitely.

Accelerate the Crisis

Throughout history, sowing conflict and precipitating crisis are how fringe militant political movements have gained prominence and power out of proportion to their numerical size. In calmer times, their extremist ideas are considered noxious. But if they incite or instigate strife, they can make moderates more open to extremism by triggering intense intra-group collectivism and inter-group hostility.

Thus interwar Austrian Marxists staged false-flag attacks in order to “sharpen the contradictions” between capital and labor and to accelerate the great class war in which they would be the vanguard of the unified proletariat in the final struggle against the bourgeoisie.

Similarly, the express purpose of ISIS’s terrorist attacks is to “dwindle the gray zone” between the West and the Muslim world and accelerate the great holy war in which they would be the vanguard of the unified “Camp of Islam” in the final struggle against the “Crusader Camp.”

The populist, nationalist, militant right basically agrees with both the commies and the jihadis. Like their champion in the White House Steve Bannon, they too believe that a climactic battle is coming, and that Marxists and Muslims will be among their mortal enemies in that inevitable Ragnarök. They only differ over whose will be the last tribe standing.

Now Bannon seems to be on the outs, and so the direct influence of his worldview on Trump has seemingly dwindled. Instead of populist-nationalist mayhem with a complementary dose of establishment-globalism, Trump is now continuing the long presidential tradition of afflicting the world with establishment-globalist mayhem with a complementary dose of populist-nationalism.

For Bannon’s fellow “winter is coming” nationalists, their felt loss of influence in Washington will make street action all the more crucial in hastening the final reckoning with the left and the left’s constituents. So we can expect the militant right to be even more focused on sowing civil strife.

The Case for De-Escalation

The ideas of the militant left are vile, and just as dangerous as those of the militant right. I don’t counsel against physically fighting the left out of any kind of sympathy with their causes. Quite the opposite really. I surely have more beliefs in common with “Based Stickman,” the Alt-Right Leonidas who loves Ron Paul and preaches self-defense and restraint on the battlefield, than I do with “Moldylocks,” the Antifa Joan of Arc and self-styled scalp-hunter. The same would probably be true about any left/right pair of Berkeley belligerents picked at random.

I only dwell on the dynamics of the nationalist right, because, tragically, more liberty-minded people have been drawn to that militant-collectivist camp than to the militant-collectivist camp of the socialist left. If there is any hope of reversing this dangerous escalation of political street violence—of nipping it in the bud while it is still in its incipient stages—it will involve right-leaning professed liberty-lovers stepping away from the brink of civil turmoil, which always lifts up anti-liberty militant factions, including that ultimate anti-liberty faction, the Deep State.

The Deep State, and perhaps the Donald himself, would just love to use mass civil unrest as an excuse to grant itself emergency powers. And sufficient civil strife will frighten the broader American public enough that they would be eager to accept that excuse. Escalating political violence could elevate tensions to the point that it would only take a single sensational terror attack to bring us to the martial-law tipping point. People tire of Nazi comparisons, but the Weimar collapse is an indispensably vivid illustration of a highly predictable pattern: nationalist-communist political violence, Reichstag Fire, Reichstag Fire Decree, the death of German liberty. Look it up.

To actual liberty-loving veterans of the Battle of Berkeley, some of your militant-nationalist allies might actually welcome such a development, especially with Trump in office, but would you? Do you really think such a state will only crush the freedoms of your political enemies, and not eventually come for your own?

As American freedom is snatched away completely by enemies wielding a public mandate and military-grade weapons, as opposed to a widely-reviled gaggle of ragamuffins wielding trash cans and flagpoles, will you take comfort that, at the beginning of it all, at least you stood up to those damn dirty lefties, and that they were the ones who started it anyway?

There are countless ways to promote liberty, but civil strife is not one of them. And it’s never too early to de-escalate. The Non-Battle of Auburn, and not any of the Battles of Berkeley, demonstrated how to truly champion liberty.

dan-sanchezDan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writings are collected at DanSanchez.me.

This article was originally published on FEE.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

The “Battle of Berkeley” Is a Bad Sign for Liberty – Article by Dan Sanchez

The “Battle of Berkeley” Is a Bad Sign for Liberty – Article by Dan Sanchez

The New Renaissance Hat
Dan Sanchez
******************************

Just how close are we to repeating the political violence of interwar Germany? How bad is it, and how bad can it get?

Populist-right demonstrators and radical-left protesters clashed in Berkeley, California, on April 16, 2017. The belligerents used such weapons as fists, feet, rocks, pepper spray, smoke bombs, barricades, and a trash dumpster/battering ram. There was one reported non-lethal stabbing.

At one point, the left-radicals ill-advisedly threw a smoke bomb while they themselves were standing downwind. The smoke wafted back in their faces causing them to flee. Today, right-populists are crowing online about having “won the Battle of Berkeley,” because, after a concerted charge, they managed to seize and hold a major downtown street.

Berkeley has become a favorite battleground for these budding political street warriors. Two months ago, a scheduled speech at UC Berkeley by Alt-Right darling Milo Yiannopoulos speech was canceled due to riots, arson, and assaults on Milo-supporters. Weeks later, a “March 4 Trump” was held off-campus in Berkeley, and this too was attacked by militant leftists, using metal pipes, baseball bats, two-by-fours, and bricks.

Yesterday, the occasion was another pro-Trump rally in Berkeley celebrating “Patriot’s Day.” As usual, it was the leftists who were the main instigators. That doesn’t alter the fact that these gradually-escalating street conflicts signal a two-pronged threat to liberty.

Nationalists Versus Communists

The brawls seem like a half-hearted, semi-play-acting reenactment of the street fights of Germany’s Spartacist uprising of 1919. The “Spartacists” were Marxist insurgents who sought to overthrow the new Weimar government, take power themselves, and expropriate the bourgeoisie. The government, which itself was made up of milder Marxists, relied on nationalist militias called Freikorps to crush the uprising. Then, as yesterday, nationalists trounced communists in the streets. Yet this did not yield a happy ending.

As Ludwig von Mises points out in Omnipotent Government, when the Freikorps first arose, they were modeled after the armed bands of communist revolutionaries that they would later suppress.

“The November Revolution brought a resurgence of a phenomenon that had long before disappeared from German history. Military adventurers formed armed bands or Freikorps and acted on their own behalf. The communist revolutionaries had inaugurated this method, but soon the nationalists adopted and perfected it. Dismissed officers of the old army called together demobilized soldiers and maladjusted boys and offered their protection to the peasants menaced by raids of starving townsfolk and to the population of the eastern frontiers suffering from Polish and Lithuanian guerrilla invasions. The landlords and the farmers provided them in return for their services with food and shelter.”

The Freikorps, like today’s budding right-wing street militias, arose in response to leftist aggression. That didn’t make them any less dangerous. Mises continued:

“When the condition which had made their interference appear useful changed these gangs began to blackmail and to extort money from landowners, businessmen, and other wealthy people. They became a public calamity. The government did not dare to dissolve them. Some of the bands had fought bravely against the communists. Others had successfully defended the eastern provinces against the Poles and Lithuanians. They boasted of these achievements, and the nationalist youth did not conceal their sympathy for them.”

The Road to Nuremberg

These Freikorps were then integrated into the army, and the problem of rival armed bands subsided for a while, although it did not disappear. As Mises wrote:

“War and civil war, and the revolutionary mentality of the Marxians and of the nationalists, had created such a spirit of brutality that the political parties gave their organizations a military character. Both the nationalist Right and the Marxian Left had their armed forces. These party troops were, of course, entirely different “from the free corps formed by nationalist hotspurs and by communist radicals. Their members were people who had their regular jobs and were busy from Monday to Saturday noon. On weekends they would don their uniforms and parade with brass bands, flags, and often with their firearms. They were proud of their membership in these associations but they were not eager to fight; they were not animated by a spirit of aggression. Their existence, their parades, their boasting, and the challenging speeches of their chiefs were a nuisance but not a serious menace to domestic peace.

After the failure of the revolutionary attempts of Kapp in March, 1920, that of Hitler and Ludendorff in November, 1923, and of various communist uprisings, of which the most important was the Holz riot in March, 1921, Germany was on the way back to normal conditions. The free corps and the communist gangs began slowly to disappear from the political stage. They still waged some guerrilla warfare with each other and against the police. But these fights degenerated more and more into gangsterism and rowdyism. Such riots and the plots of a few adventurers could not endanger the stability of the social order.” [Emphasis added.]

But then, feeling threatened by the continued existence and activity of nationalist armed bands, the embattled socialist government created a new armed force consisting of loyal Marxists. As Mises explains, this caused many in the public to throw their support behind Adolf Hitler’s personal militia, the Nazi Storm Troopers.

“But these Storm Troopers were very different from the other armed party forces both of the Left and of the Right. Their members were not elderly men who had fought in the first World War and who now were eager to hold their jobs in order to support their families. The Nazi Storm Troopers were, as the free corps had been, jobless boys who made a living from their fighting. They were available at every hour of every day, not merely on weekends and holidays. It was doubtful whether the party forces—either of the Left or the Right—would be ready to fight when seriously attacked. It was certain that they would never be ready to wage a campaign of aggression. But Hitler’s troops were pugnacious; they were professional brawlers. They would have fought for their Führer in a bloody civil war if the opponents of Nazism had not yielded without resistance in 1933.” [Emphasis added.]

And the rest is History Channel programming. Once in power, the nationalist brawlers proved to be just as deadly foes to liberty as the communists they trounced in the streets and drove from power.

It’s Never Too Early to De-Escalate

We’re a long way from Weimar. The Alt-Knight and his merry band are a far cry from the brutal Storm Troopers. And the black-clad waifs of Antifa are a pale shadow of the homicidal Spartacists. In fact, there is distinctly ridiculous and even comical vibe to the scuffles, which the late, great Will Grigg aptly described as “political cosplay.” But these things have a way of escalating. The foot soldiers of the Spartacists and Storm Troopers may have gone through a harmless, posturing early phase as well. As Grigg wrote:

“…through political cosplay people can become habituated into thinking in eliminationist terms: The “other side” is not merely gravely mistaken, but irreducibly evil, and since reason is unavailing the only option that remains is slaughter.”

He also warned:

Unlike the wholesale violence that our country saw in the late 1960s and early 1970s, contemporary street-level political conflict is heavy on posturing and pretense and light on actual bloodshed – but it does whet degenerate appetites that will grow to dangerous proportions as times get leaner and meaner.

Just as the right-populists were not content to accept their “defeat” in the First Battle of Berkeley, the left-radicals will not just lick their wounds after the Third Battle of Berkeley. The right is reporting chatter among the left of bringing firearms next time. Such militarization will only breed more polarization and radicalization on the left and the right, both which are driven by a desire to wield state power. And it will provide the police state with a welcome excuse to further assault our already-decimated liberties.

The left-wing combatants claim to be anarchists, and yet are furthering centralized power. The right-wing combatants claim to be for liberty, and yet are putting liberty in danger. If these conflicts continue to escalate, no matter which side “wins,” liberty will lose.

EDIT (4/18/17): Some of the interesting responses to this article made me realize one of the key problems. Too many people are more anti-leftists and anti-communists than they are anti-leftism and anti-communism. For them, it’s more about the enemy tribes that hold pernicious ideas than the pernicious ideas themselves. This breeds a tribal warfare mentality that will only make things worse.

dan-sanchez

Dan Sanchez

Dan Sanchez is Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writings are collected at DanSanchez.me.

This article was originally published on FEE.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

Will the Trump Administration Overdose on Authoritarianism? – Article by Ron Paul

Will the Trump Administration Overdose on Authoritarianism? – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
******************************

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors in drug cases to seek the maximum penalty authorized by federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Sessions’s order represents a setback to the progress made toward restoring compassion and common sense to the sentencing process over the past few years. Sessions’s action also guarantees that many nonviolent drug-law offenders will continue spending more time in prison than murderers.

Sessions’s support for mandatory minimums is no surprise, as he has a history of fanatical devotion to the drug war. Sessions’s pro-drug-war stance is at odds with the reality of the drug war’s failure. Over forty years after President Nixon declared war on drugs, the government cannot even keep drugs out of prisons!

As was the case with alcohol prohibition, the drug war has empowered criminal gangs and even terrorists to take advantage of the opportunity presented by prohibition to profit by meeting the continued demand for drugs. Drug prohibition enables these criminal enterprises to make profits far above the potential profits if drugs where legalized. Ironically, the so-called “law-and-order” politicians who support the drug war are helping enrich the very criminals they claim to oppose!

The war on drugs also makes street drugs more lethal by incentivizing the creation of more potent and, thus, more dangerous drugs. Of course, even as Sessions himself admits, the war on drugs also leads to increased violence, as drug dealers cannot go to the courts to settle disputes among themselves or with their customers.

Before 9/11, the war on drugs was the go-to excuse used to justify new infringements on liberty. For example, laws limiting our ability to withdraw, or even carry, large sums of cash and laws authorizing civil asset forfeiture were justified by the need to crack down on drug dealers and users. The war on drugs is also the root cause of the criminal justice system’s disparate treatment of minorities and the militarization of local police.

The war on drugs is a war on the Constitution as well. The Constitution does not give the federal government authority to regulate, much less ban, drugs. People who doubt this should ask themselves why it was necessary to amend the Constitution to allow the federal government to criminalize drinking alcohol but not necessary to amend the Constitution to criminalize drug use.

Today, a majority of states have legalized medical marijuana, and a growing number are legalizing recreational marijuana use. Enforcement of federal laws outlawing marijuana in those states is the type of federal interference with state laws that conservatives usually oppose. Hopefully, in this area the Trump administration will exercise restraint and respect state marijuana laws.

Sessions’s announcement was not the only pro-drug-war announcement made by the administration this week. President Trump himself, in a meeting with the president of Colombia, promised to continue US intervention in South and Central America to eliminate drug cartels. President Trump, like his attorney general, seems to not understand that the rise of foreign drug cartels, like the rise of domestic drug gangs, is a consequence of US drug policy.

The use of government force to stop adults from putting certain substances into their bodies — whether marijuana, saturated fats, or raw milk — violates the nonaggression principle that is the bedrock of a free society. Therefore, all those who care about protecting individual liberty and limiting government power should support ending the drug war. Those with moral objections to drug use should realize that education and persuasion, carried out through voluntary institutions like churches and schools, is a more moral and effective way to discourage drug use than relying on government force.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

He Was a Middle-School Loan Shark – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

He Was a Middle-School Loan Shark – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
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It came out in passing last night, in discussions with a smart 17-year old, that he got in deep trouble in middle school. He was accused of loan sharking, and forced to do detention.

See if you think there is anything wrong with what he did.

The middle-school cafeteria had candy machines. Every candy cost a dollar. My friend carried extra ones with him. He would buy candy, and immediately people would ask if he could loan them money. He did. More and more people asked. He continued to loan people money, and only some would pay him back. His charity was losing him money.

So he had an idea. He would loan anyone a dollar. However, the next day they had to pay him two dollars. This was great because it weeded out people who were not serious about their candy needs, and got rid of those who had no intention of paying him back. His idea helped to ration his scarce resources. It had the additional advantage of making him some money, which incentivized him to make funds available.

Everyone was happy. He made money. They got their candy. Most everyone paid him back. If he began the week with $5, he ended the week with $10. This was nice. No one was hurt.

If a person was late in paying, he added an additional dollar for each day. Otherwise, why would people pay sooner rather than later? So if you borrowed one dollar on Monday, and didn’t pay until Friday, you would owe $5.

Of course he did have to start keeping books on who borrowed from him. He would sometimes have to hunt them down the next day. Sometimes people need gentle reminders, of course. Mostly people paid.

He was also rather merciful. Once a person got behind by three full weeks. She technically owed $15 on a $1 loan. He came to her and said, “let’s settle this debt today. I’ll take $10 and we can call it even.” She was relieved and happily paid.

My friend was making lots of money. And why? Because many students wanted candy and failed to make the proper financial preparations to purchase it. He was there to facilitate an exchange. They would get candy now, which is what they wanted, and he would be rewarded for anticipating their desires.

So far, I see nothing wrong with this at all.

However, you could express this in more severe terms. People often criticized payday loans for charging an annual percentage rate of 100-700%. Scandalous, right?

Well, think about the rate my friend was charging. It turns out to be 26,000%, based on $1 per weekday.

Keep in mind that we are talking about a 13-year old kid here. This is not exactly a member of the Medici banking family here. He was just trying to help people with a two-party win.

But as his financial holdings grew, and his practices became more formalized, his business became ever more lucrative. That’s when news of his empire began to leak to teachers and parents.

Predictably, there was mass outrage. He was hauled in and accused of “loan sharking.” There was a trial. He was declared guilty. He was put on detention and humiliated publicly.

Once he was out of the picture, kids no longer had any means of getting financing for their candy fixes. They just stood in front of the machines staring blankly. It’s hard to see how the overall middle-school economy was improved by this crackdown.

The response of the parents and teachers was a typical example of mob behavior against intelligent capitalist practices. It’s been going on for hundreds of years, particularly hurting people who make money with their minds through financial savvy.

This was the basis of anti-Semitism from the Middles Ages through the Nazi period, since, as Milton Friedman has explained, Jews have traditionally specialized in the enterprise of money-lending.

And it goes on today, with all the frenzy against usury, payday loans, pawn shops, and so on. Even the Occupy movement sampled some of this populist outrage against money-making.

Damnant quod non intellegunt. They condemn what they do not understand.

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

Can We Take Back Our Election Process and Make the Parties Listen to Us? – Article by Tom DeWeese

Can We Take Back Our Election Process and Make the Parties Listen to Us? – Article by Tom DeWeese

The New Renaissance HatTom DeWeese
******************************

The clamor is growing louder every day. “They don’t listen.” “We have no real choice of candidates.” “The system is rigged for the elite.” “There’s no difference between the two parties.”

You hear it every election. Endless talk about the need to create jobs, build the economy, make the nation a “better place to live for our families,” and, my favorite – “restore trust!”  Who’s not for those wonderful things?! The slogans work for Democrat and Republican alike. These so-called issues are interchangeable. They are, in fact, nothing more than empty rhetoric.

Meanwhile, do we hear a discussion about our money becoming more worthless every day from federal-government spending and rampant inflation? What about the destruction of our education system as it is used for behavior modification while true academics are eliminated for the curriculum? Does any candidate dare mention the hopelessness taking over our inner cities as federal welfare policies are enslaving whole generations to the ever-expanding government plantation? And of course there is the fear campaign in every city in the nation about the need to control development and population, leading to the utter destruction of private property.

None of these issues are ever mentioned in local, state, or federal campaigns. Any candidate who tries is immediately labeled an extremist!

So our political parties choose for us candidates that are “acceptable,” middle-of-the road, not rocking the boat, and not too extreme. In short, we are forced to choose the lesser of two evils. Election after election the drone goes on. And what are we to do? These are the candidates those in charge have chosen for us for city council, county commission, state legislature, Congress, and President. Yes, we have primaries to choose, but I think we all know those are pretty much rigged to assure the powers in charge get whom they want – just ask Bernie Sanders.

Is it any wonder that there are millions of Americans who don’t vote or participate in our nation’s debate because they think it doesn’t matter anyway? The “average voter” increasingly feels that the decisions have been made for them.

Those who hold conservative points of view that our nation should live within the Constitution now believe socialism is inevitable, so why bother going to the polls?

The poor think they are simply pawns in a vice grip between big money and special interests which control the elections. Why bother? Helplessness now rules the world’s greatest representative democracy. As people stay home or trudge to the polls to unenthusiastically vote for the next lesser of two evils, 93% of incumbents are routinely returned to office – year after year after year.

The instant a candidate is elected and joins the ranks of the incumbents, he/she begins the dance. Get the money for the next campaign. How? Special-interest groups, corporations, and foreign interests flood into their offices to make deals, promote their personal agendas, and show the way to fame, fortune, and perpetual office – if only the incumbents go along. They have the whole process well in hand. Campaigns become little more than big PR projects, promoted in positive platitudes, specifically designed to assure nothing negative sticks. Just get through it and keep the gravy train running.

Above all, do not talk about controversial subjects like dollar values, global trade, or immigration; just stick to issues like health care and the environment – coincidentally, two issues bought and paid for by the special interests. See how it works?

So year after year, we officially hold elections and politicians pontificate about how our going to the polls is a revered right, a valued tradition, the underpinning of a free society. And they wonder why there is such division in the nation. How did we end up in such a mess? We voted for these guys. But did we enjoy it? Are we satisfied with the results? Would we like to demand a do-over?

So is it hopeless? Is there any way to change it? Do you want the people to, again, have control of the election process and of the choice of candidates offered? Do you want to force the power elites to listen to you? I’ve got a solution.

Don’t despair. Don’t give up. There is a logical, effective way out of this. But it won’t happen by depending on political parties to lead the way. We have to take things into our own hands. We need an effective, binding form of protest to say “NO” to bad candidates. There is such a way.

Imagine going into the voting booth and looking down the list of candidates offered. None really appeal. None seem to offer satisfaction as an answer to the issues that concern you. If only there was something else you could do. A write-in won’t help. It would take such a difficult, expensive effort. It rarely works.

Then you look further down the ballot. Something new. It says “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” It’s a final choice after each of the candidates in every category, from president, to congress to city council. What does it mean?

It means you have the power to decide who will hold office – not the power brokers. When the votes are tallied, if “NONE OF THE ABOVE” gets a majority of votes over any of the candidates listed, then “NONE OF THE ABOVE” wins. And that means none of those candidates will win the office. The office will remain vacant until a new election is held. To set up another election and fill the spot would work exactly like the process provided in the Constitution when an incumbent dies or resigns, and a special election is held. Now new candidates will have to try to win the public’s support.

Fixing the election process could be that simple. You, the voter, would be completely in the driver’s seat with the power to reject candidates, forcing a new election with new choices. The political parties would be forced to provide candidates the people want — or face being rejected. They would have to talk about real issues – or face being rejected. Incumbents would have to answer for their actions in office – or face being rejected. “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” Period. The power of labor unions and international corporations would be broken.

Think of the consequences. No longer would voters have to settle for the lesser of two evils. If all the candidates are bad – none would be able to force their way into office. It would mean that powerful special interests could no longer rely on their money to buy elections. They could buy all the ads they wanted, spend millions on “volunteers” going door to door and sling their dirt, but if the voters aren’t buying, none of it will save their candidate from being rejected by “NONE OF THE ABOVE.”

Moreover, the power of entrenched incumbents who have been unbeatable because of their massive war chests and party ties would be broken. Picture John McCain or Nancy Pelosi unable to run for office because they were rejected by “NONE OF THE ABOVE.”

However, in order to work, “NONE OF THE ABOVE” would have to be binding. It would have to have the power of law behind it. It cannot be just a “protest” vote that has no other meaning.

“NONE OF THE ABOVE” is completely non-partisan. There is no way to control its outcome. There is no need for a massive campaign chest to support “NONE OF THE ABOVE,” although it could certainly be done. But the option, once permanently placed on the ballot, would always be there. America’s representative system would be restored.

To get the job done, activists in every state would have to begin a campaign to demand that “NONE OF THE ABOVE” be given a permanent spot on the ballot. It would not require a Constitutional Amendment. It would have to be done state by state. Some states have ballot referendums and initiatives using petition drives to get an issue on the ballot so the people can decide. It’s difficult and expensive to do, but popular ideas have a chance.

In other states, “NONE OF THE ABOVE” advocates would have to find a friendly state representative or senator to introduce the idea before the state legislature and then get enough votes to pass it in both houses and then have it signed by the governor. The main drawback to that effort is that, if the effort is successful, then every one of those legislators is an incumbent who will have to face “NONE OF THE ABOVE” on the ballot for their re-election. They probably won’t be too excited about the idea.

So why would they support the idea? It would be only because supporters succeed in creating a strong movement of voters who demand it. No one is saying this will be an easy process. But such movements have succeeded before. For example, local activists could begin by demanding that candidates support the measure much like they now sign “no tax” pledges. In short, they would support it because there is strong popular support, and they simply have no choice.

Of course, one of their main objections to the “NONE OF THE ABOVE” idea would be the requirement for holding a new election, should it win. “Too expensive,” our responsible public servants would say as they dismissed the idea. However, if it means getting better candidates, isn’t it worth it to hold a new election, especially considering how much a very bad candidate would cost us if he actually got into office?  The fact is, such a need for a new election would probably not arise often once political power brokers began to understand that they must offer candidates acceptable to the people rather than to the special interests. That’s all they really have to do. It’s all we want. It only takes a couple of “None of the Above” victories to see that the electorate is back in charge.

The idea of “NONE OF THE ABOVE” has been around for a long time. Over the years, most states have had some kind of legislation introduced supporting the concept. Nevada actually has it on the ballot – but it is not binding. It doesn’t force a new election. It is just a measure of protest. That’s not good enough to make it effective.

One of the reasons it has not been successful is because there has never been a serious national drive to promote the idea. However, with the growing dissatisfaction voters are feeling with the lack of quality candidates seeming to get worse every election, perhaps there has never been a better time to start a national discussion on the issue.

The best part is that “NONE OF THE ABOVE” isn’t a conservative or liberal idea. It’s not a Republican of Democrat proposal. In fact, Republican leadership might see it as a good way to break the back of big labor’s influence over elections. Equally, Democrats could see it as a way to stop the power and influence of the Republicans’ big-business money. However the parties want to look at it, the bottom line is that the voters win.

This will be a long-term process and is primarily aimed at local, state, and congressional candidates. While it should certainly be used in presidential elections as well, the real power comes from rejecting the lower-level candidates.

But all of that depends on the voters. Do you want to take back control, or are you satisfied to have your choices made for you behind closed doors? Because that’s what we have now. How’s that working for you?

Tom DeWeese is President of the American Policy Center and one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.