Center for a Stateless Society
A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center
STIGMERGY: The C4SS Blog
What will happen under anarchy? EVERYTHING.
C4SS-Anna-Meme-AnCap

… So we see, even assuming an “anarcho-capitalist” property regime, anything recognizable as “capitalism” to anyone else could not exist. In fact the society would look a lot like what “anarcho-socialists” think of as “socialism”. Not exactly like it, but much closer than anything they’d imagine as capitalism.

However, under anarchism, even such a strict property regime is not guaranteed. There is no way to impose it on a community that wants to operate a different way. I predict there will be lots of different communities and systems that will compete for people to live in them and whatever seems to work the best will tend to spread. There’s nothing the anarcho-capitalists could do to prevent people from agreeing to treat property in a more fluid or communal manner than they’d prefer. Nor is there anything the anarcho-socialists could do to prevent a community from organizing property in a more rigid or individualistic manner than they’d prefer.

For, just as anarcho-capitalism is impossible, anarcho-socialism is also impossible (depending on how you define things). In reality all of us who are opposed to the state, as that great fiction that some people have a special right to do things that anyone else doesn’t, are anarchists. And what will happen under anarchy? EVERYTHING.

Anna O. Morgenstern, Anarcho-“Capitalism” is Impossible

Studies in Carsonian Mutualism

For the next few weeks, C4SS will be publishing and hosting copies of Volume 20, Number 1, of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. This particular volume contains the Symposium on Kevin Carson’s Studies in Mutualist Political Economy. The articles on and selections from Carson’s book you can look forward to:

  1. Editorial to Symposium on Mutualist Political Economy” by Roderick T. Long
  2. The Marshallian Synthesis” by Kevin A. Carson
  3. Rothbard versus the Marshallian Synthesis” by Kevin A. Carson
  4. “The Spooner-Tucker Doctrine: An Economist’s View” by Murray N. Rothbard
  5. “The Labor Theory of Value: A Critique of Carson’s Studies in Mutualist Political Economy” by Robert P. Murphy
  6. “Kevin Carson as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Walter Block
  7. “Freedom is Slavery: Laissez-Faire Capitalism is Government Intervention: A Critique of Kevin Carson’s Studies in Mutualist Political Economy” by George Reisman
  8. “Land-Locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights” by Roderick T. Long
  9. “Carson’s Rejoinders” by Kevin A. Carson
Another Iranian Non-Threat

This image tweeted by Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has a lot of people upset. Is it supposed to be Barack Obama holding a gun to his own head?What if it is? The picture is hardly threatening or aggressive in any way. After all, it’s not a picture of Khamenei holding a gun to Obama’s head.

And look at the text:

We welcome no war, nor do we initiate any war, but if any war happens, the one who will emerge loser will be the aggressive and criminal U.S.

That is not aggressive in the least. On the contrary, it rejects war. Who’s been threatening war against whom? The U.S. government (along with Israel) has been threatening war against Iran. Even after the nuclear agreement was signed, Secretary of War Ash Carter reiterated that war against Iran is still an option. So all Khamenei is saying is that if the U.S. government starts a war, it will lose. It will be as though Obama had pointed a gun at himself and pulled the trigger.

In the past, Iran’s pledges to retaliate if attacked have always been presented by the news media and politicians as though they were threats to initiate war. This is happening again.

When will the media and the hack politicians be straight with the public? Iran has threatened to attack no one, but the U.S. and Israeli governments, both with nuclear weapons, routinely threaten to attack Iran. Who is the criminal?

Thought Crimes, Domestic “Terrorism,” and Police Bullying

Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black parishioners because they were black has been charged by the central government with committing hate crimes. Words cannot adequately express the evil of Roof’s actions at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and no decent person would want to say anything that be could possibly be construed as sympathetic to this despicable human being. Still this must be said: the concept thought crime has no place in a proper system of law.

That you should get extra punishment because of what you were thinking is too Orwellian to accept. People should not be punished for thinking bad thoughts. The focus should be on what a perpetrator did and not what was in his head. (This is not the place to expound on the nature of punishment. See my article “Crime and Punishment in a Free Society.”)

Roof killed nine innocent people and tried to kill others. We all know that he said he wanted to ignite a race war. Charging him with hate crimes in addition to murder and attempted murder has nothing to do with bringing him to justice. It’s about scoring political points.

Hate-crime legislation is a method by which the national government may preempt the states in the prosecution of aggression against persons and their property. It’s not as though South Carolina was not prosecuting Roof; that machinery is now in motion. He’s been charged with murder and other offenses, and he will stand trial if he doesn’t plead guilty. In South Carolina he faces the death penalty (which is one way that governments commit crimes).

Why should he face more prison time (than life?) or the death penalty at the hands of the feds when murderers with attitudes toward their victims not designated as “hate” do not face those extra penalties? To repeat, in a free society people would not be punished for what they think. Do we really want to suggest that killing for reasons other than race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender is less evil than what Roof did? Hate-crime legislation violates equal protection under the law.

* * *

Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s July 14 killing of four Marines and one sailor, and wounding of a Marine and a police officer, at a recruiting center and a naval reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, raise two issues the news media are unwilling to touch.

First, as Glenn Greenwald points out, violence directed at military personnel has not traditionally been thought of as terrorism. Regardless of what U.S. law may say, people have generally used the term to mean violence against civilians, or noncombatants, for political or social purposes. “Whether one is targeting civilian versus military sites,” Greenwald writes, “is a central aspect to how we talk about the justifiability of violence and what is and is not ‘terrorism.'”

But the U.S. government and the war party’s intellectual vanguard have worked hard for many years to distort the meaning of terrorism so that it signifies, essentially, any violence committed, even against a U.S. invasion force, by a Muslim; the corollary is that any violence perpetrated by the U.S government or its allies, most especially Israel, by definition cannot be terrorism.

Greenwald goes on to make an important related point:

The argument that even attacks on military bases should be regarded as “terrorism” rests on the proposition that soldiers who are not actively engaged in combat when attacked are not legitimate targets. Instead, it is legitimate only to target them when engaging them on a battlefield. Under the law of war, one cannot, for instance, legally hunt down soldiers while they’re sleeping in their homes, or playing with their children, or buying groceries at a supermarket. Their mere status as “soldiers” does not mean it is legally permissible to target and kill them wherever they are found. It is only permissible to do so on the battlefield, when they are engaged in combat.

That argument has a solid footing in both law and morality. But it is extremely difficult to understand how anyone who supports the military actions of the U.S. and their allies under the “War on Terror” rubric can possibly advance that view with a straight face. The official framework that drives the West’s military behavior is the exact antithesis of that legal and moral standard. When it comes to justifying their own violence, the U.S. and their closest allies have spent the last 15 years, at least, insisting on precisely the opposite view.

Indeed they have. The U.S. and Israeli governments reserve the “right” to kill “illegal combatants” anywhere anytime. American policy regards the whole world as a battlefield. A target need not be a proven identifiable guerrilla in the process of committing an attack. For Obama the target need only be a military-aged male in a place the United States wants to strike. For details see the drone program and Israel’s operations against leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah and Iranian scientists. If that does not constitute terrorism, how can Abdulazeez’s violence be classified as such?

Greenwald concludes, “To question whether something qualifies as ‘terrorism’ quite obviously is not to say it is justifiable: All sorts of violence is wrong without being ‘terrorism.'”

The other noteworthy point about Abdulazeez’s shooting spree is the media’s continued mystification about how and why an American Muslim would become radicalized and wish to commit violence against Americans here or abroad. What is the attraction of the Islamic States and al-Qaeda? The media have no problem finding terrorism “experts” to speculate on the psychological reasons for and how proactive government measures can prevent it: for example, retired general Wesley Clark, who said, “If someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.” Thus,

If these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States as a matter of principle, fine. It’s their right and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict. [Emphasis added.]

“We have got to identify the people who are most likely to be radicalized,” Clark continued. “We’ve got to cut this off at the beginning. I do think on a national policy level we need to look at what self-radicalization means because we are at war with this group of terrorists.”

While the news networks have no trouble finding tough guys like Clark to call for illiberal changes in our “domestic law procedures,” they apparently can’t find anyone to give the most reasonable answer to why someone might “self-radicalize”: namely, the decades of U.S. hegemonic violence against Muslims in the Middle East and the unconditional financial and moral support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. Government studies acknowledge this. People convicted of terrorism acknowledge this. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

I propose an experiment. Let the U.S. government withdraw from the Muslim world entirely and cease all material and rhetorical aid to Israel. After 10 years we’ll see if our society is at risk for “domestic terrorism” from self-radicalized Muslims.

* * *

The tragic death of Sandra Bland, 28, on July 13, three days after a traffic stop in Prairie View, Texas, is another in the recent and fast-growing series of incidents in which police bullying led to the death of individuals who posed no threat to anyone. Maybe Bland committed suicide, as the autopsy apparently shows. What we know with perfect certainty it is that she should never have been in that Waller County jail cell. State trooper Brian Encinia pulled her over when she changed lanes on a quiet street without signaling. She told him she moved over to get out of his way when his car came up behind hers. He had no need to stop her. This was a de minimis infraction — no harm, no foul. But even with the stop, Encinia could have prevented any serious confrontation. All he needed to do was give her the written warning he held in his hand and let Bland go on her way. Instead, he patronized her about her being irritated a the stop. (See the transcript.) But even that could have been the end of it — had Encinia’s intentions been good. The key moment occurred with this:

Encinia: You mind putting out your cigarette, please? If you don’t mind?

Bland: I’m in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?

Encinia: Well you can step on out now.

Bland: I don’t have to step out of my car.

Encinia: Step out of the car.

Bland: Why am I …

Encinia (yelling): Step out of the car!

From there it was all downhill. He insisted she get out of the car because she was under arrest, threatening to “light [you] up” with his taser, which he had drawn like a gun. She demanded to know what she was being arrested for, but Enicinia would not answer. Later Encinia’s report said she was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting him, but those things happened after he ordered her out of the car because she was under arrest. It makes no sense.

I think we have a pretty good idea of what happened here. Encinia was offended that his “authority” was not respected without question, as shown by Bland’s refusal to put out her cigarette in her own car when the traffic stop was about to end. At that point, in his view he had to escalate as far as necessary to put her in her place. Maybe race had something to do with his — he’s white, she was black — but race is not a necessary element in the story (though it might been an aggravating factor for Encinia). As I wrote about the Eric Garner case, the cops didn’t intend to kill him, they “intended only to show him who’s boss on the streets of Staten Island — and show him in a way he would never forget.” They showed him, but in a way he’ll never remember, and the same can be said for Sandra Bland.

We gotta fix this cop problem.

Tired of Bleeding

There have been more (and more. and more…) bodies piled up by cops in the US since Ferguson. Feels like there’s a new one every day. Latest life extinguished in police custody being talked about is Sandra Bland: pulled over in Texas for trying to move out of the way of a police vehicle without signaling, then dragged from her car, assaulted, and arrested for not genuflecting to the cop that pulled her over and continuing to smoke in Her Own Damn Car. She was later found dead in her cell — the cops claim she committed suicide, but indications are ultra fishy about that, and her death is being investigated.

A few things to note: she just so happened to be an active critic of police brutality. Also, there’s been discussion online about the mugshot released of her afterwards along the lines of cues in the picture suggesting it may, rather than being a picture of her angry yet alive against a wall, actually be a picture taken of her on the floor after she died — which would indicate a coverup… which would pile onto the appearance of the dashcam video of her arrest having been edited. Which has been lately followed by leaking the completely irrelevant report of marijuana in her system — the cherry on top of the sundae straight from the outright fascist Eric Cartman School of Policing.

It’s The Boot all the way down, folks: assert your rights, they assault you. Question their reason for stopping you, they assault you. Hell, run and they assault you! Even the total compliance they scream for doesn’t save you — ask Oscar Grant about that one. The police will do any and everything they can do to make examples, to strike fear in people, to control and subjugate us and enforce the class hierarchy, particularly the racial aspects of it.

Something that has stuck with me about this is what her mother said about experiencing the pain of a parent having to bury their child:

I have a baby to put in the ground. She wasn’t my convict, she wasn’t my suspect- she was my baby. Once I put this baby in the ground, I’m ready…This means war.

The understandable anger is itself important, but I also think of it in the perspective of the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, a movement that while I for obvious reason sympathize with, I at times ask myself how far people are really willing to go to achieve justice. What is it all coming to? Sure, protests are gaining attention, but we cannot march and chant forever. Some respond to the pressure by proposing piddling reforms like body cameras on police officers, which has multiple obvious flaws (for one, they have control of those cameras — there’s already been a case of a cop in a brutality case shutting off theirs). Others do even less, responding to the phrase Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter!” as if merely asserting that the people being constantly assaulted by badged thugs are not to be treated as disposable is a threat to anyone else.

Yet… going back to the words Sandra’s mother spoke in her honor… maybe we should change that.

We have and use the ability to record police encounters, and it’s important to show a side beyond the cops & their slurpers in the media. But what about direct action? What if the recognition was made that their implied legitimacy because of the shiny badge and uniform were a figment of imagination, an enabling lie to serve an unjust system? What if the next time we saw a cop using force against people who are not harming anyone… we went and stopped the cop? What if many people did that?

What if we all did?

I don’t like war. But when you’re actively being attacked, you don’t have a choice. Media puppets and members of the executive committee of the ruling class can bark about ISIS, or Iran, or Russia all they want, our last moments are more likely to come at the hands of Johnny Law than any of them.

I hope to live a long and fruitful life. But mark my words, if my last breaths are taken in the hands of the police… may that mean war.

Media Coordinator Report, July 2015

Dear C4SS Supporters, as well as friends and colleagues,

This is the last article I will publish for the Center for a Stateless Society. Before we talk too much about that, I want to mention the numbers from the month of July.

As of July 25, 14 articles were submitted, with over 17,800 submissions to newspapers across the country and around the world. Among the pickups this month were Nick Ford’s “The Tortured Logic Behind Using Torture,” which was featured at AntiWar.com, and Chad Nelson’s “Fiorina Claims She’s Not Part of the ‘Professional Political Class’,” which featured at CounterPunch.

Regarding my departure, Erick Vasconcelos will be replacing me as the Media Coordinator across the board, with help from Senior Editor Chad Nelson, as of July 26. Additionally, I have resigned as a Fellow. The reasons for doing so are mostly personal, but I want to make this clear: I regard many of the Fellows and contributors here at the Center for a Stateless Society as good, close friends and I’m leaving C4SS amicably.

Burnout is a real thing. Both in terms of writing and in terms of politics. The world is a cold and indifferent place, and knowing that you have an obligation to care about fixing that world in spite of it – or at least making it more habitable for the people you care about – doesn’t change the fact that it will weigh on you every day.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m a decent activist here, either. I am a krill in a vast ocean, lucky to swim in the presence of great blue whales who haven’t noticed me long enough to want to eat me. Whatever work I have done or am doing is of a personal nature and doesn’t even begin to register when compared to the work many of my friends here have accomplished. Perhaps because that work is personal, the toll has been higher. I don’t know. But what I do know is that after this column, I am finally taking a break from professional writing. I haven’t written for just myself since I was 17, and I want to try that for a while and see how it feels.

I of course appreciate everyone I’ve had the privilege of writing with over the past three years. And I appreciate you, dear supporter, for keeping this enclave open long enough for me to make what tiny mark I could on it.

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist Review 91

Patrap Chatterjeee discusses the lack of lone rangers in drone warfare.

Phillip Magness discusses the Civil War from a classical liberal perspective.

Cory Massimino discusses what libertarians are ahead of the curve on.

Norman Solomon discusses perpetual war and Democratic Party enablers.

Stephen Zunes discusses Hilary Clinton’s stance on BDS.

Neera K. Badhwar discusses pathologies of power.

Ralph Nader discusses blowback created by U.S. foreign policy.

Robert Fantina discusses Hilary Clinton’s stance on Israel.

Nebojsa Malic discusses the political use of the Srebrenica tragedy to justify war.

Gareth Porter discusses U.S. slowdown in Iranian talks.

Robert Parry discusses the mess that Nuland made.

Virgil Henry Storr and Laura E. Grube discuss Hurricane Katrina and civil society.

George H. Smith discusses Spinoza’s views on freedom of thought.

Richard Lachmann, Michael Schwartz, and Kevin Young discuss why there is hatred for the deal with Iran.

Gareth Porter discusses how a weaker Iran got sanctions lifted.

Ron Jacobs discusses women, girls, and the War on Terror.

Raouf J. Halaby discusses how the Palestinians don’t gain anything from the recent Iran deal.

Susan Abulhawa discusses why everyone missed the point about Merkel and the Palestinian refugee program.

David Stockman discusses Obama’s stiffing of the war party.

Glenn Greenwald discusses whether attacking military sites of a nation at war is terrorism.

Shane Smith discusses the dangerously vague romance of war.

Justin Raimondo discusses the liberal police state.

Max Blumenthal discusses the next Gaza War.

Sheldon Richman discusses Rothbardian thoughts on libertarian strategy.

David Mizner discuses Hilary and the Libyan war.

Robert Parry discusses U.S. responsibility for destabilization of the Middle East.

Jacob Sullum discusses what Obama can do to free imprisoned drug offenders.

Dan Sanchez discusses stopping U.S. support for Jim Crow Israel.

Ivan Eland discusses lessons from Obama’s Libyan war.

Daniel Larison discusses Walker and the evils of preventative war.

No “Compensation” to Israel for Iran Deal

In The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defined chutzpah as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.” Today we have a new paradigm for chutzpah: the Israeli government’s demand for “compensation” from the American taxpayers for the Iran nuclear agreement.

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Times of Israel that during U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s visit the Israeli government would discuss the compensation that Israel deserves in order to maintain its qualitative [military] edge” over Iran. The Obama administration of course is amenable.

Why does Israel deserve compensation (in addition to its $3 billion in U.S. aid every year)? If anything, Israel should compensate American taxpayers!

Iran is not — and was not going to become — a nuclear threat. American and Israeli intelligence have said so repeatedly.

But even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were right about Iran’s intentions, he should be rejoicing at the agreement, under which Iran will get rid of nearly all of its enriched uranium and two-thirds of its centrifuges. Its nuclear facilities will be open to even more intrusive inspections than they have been under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Even its non-nuclear military sites will be subject to inspection, an intrusion no other government — particularly the United States — would accept. And that is just the beginning. Uranium-enrichment research will be restricted, and construction of a heavy-water reactor, which would yield plutonium, will be scrapped.

The term for these various restrictions begin at 10 years and lengthen from there, but this does not mean that Iran will later be free to do what it wants. As an NPT party (unlike nuclear monopolist Israel), it will always be subject to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which certifies that Iran has not diverted uranium to military purposes.

What did Iran get in return for those concessions? Iranian money frozen since the 1979 Islamic revolution will be released and the economic warfare perpetrated by the United States and the rest of the world — euphemistically called “sanctions” — will eventually be ended.

In other words, Iran can rejoin the world economy — its people relieved of cruel economic warfare — if it gives up a weapons program it never had, never wanted, and did not plan to pursue. Those crafty Iranians! They acquired thousands of centrifuges as bargaining chips to be traded away for peaceful commercial relations with the world.

Israel’s rulers, like their American supporters, say they have another reason to hate the agreement. (For my own far different reservation, see this.) “Giving” Iran all that cash (it belongs to Iranians) will let the Islamic Republic pursue its aggressive aims in the Middle East, which include helping Israel’s enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Balderdash. Iran is not pursuing an aggressive policy in the Middle East, and it is sheer projection for an American or Israeli to make that charge. George W. Bush handed Shia-majority Iraq to Iran when he overthrew Iran’s nemesis, Saddam Hussein. Barack Obama is siding with Iran against the Islamic State in Iraq. Iran’s ally, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, is under assault by ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the United States. And the Houthis in Yemen, who get some Iranian help and are fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have long struggled against the central government for self-rule, in response to which U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia is waging a bloody war of aggression.

Iran has supported Hamas, although the Palestinian group (like Israel) opposes Assad. But Hamas exists to resist Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Likewise, Hezbollah arose to resist Israeli occupation of and periodic attacks on southern Lebanon. While some of Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s tactics have indeed been atrocious, their raison d’être is opposition to Israeli aggression — not terrorism.

There is no Iranian imperialism.

Nuclear Israel faces no threat. In the current turmoil it sides with Sunni Arabs, including al-Qaeda affiliates, against Iran, because turmoil serves Israel’s interests and Iran is a ready-made bête noire. Why does Israel need a manufactured threat? Because if Americans knew the truth, they might focus on the Palestinians’ plight. Israel and its Lobby cannot have that.

Two Anarchists Murdered and One Left Seriously Injured in ISIS Suicide Bombing

Two anarchists were murdered and one left seriously injured today in an ISIS suicide bombing in ‪Suruc Turkey. The bombing targeted at a group of young leftists at a radical cultural center who had been providing help in rebuilding the city of Kobane, where anarchist or anarchist influenced Kurdish rebels had successfully fought off a lengthy siege and invasion by ISIS forces after many foreign governments refused to provide support, saying Kobane would inevitably be overrun. The attack today inside the borders of Turkey killed 32 people including — it has been confirmed — the young anarchists Alper Sapan and Evrim Deniz Erol. Another anarchist, Caner Delisu, is in critical condition.

For a long time now Turkish government has been encouraging and collaborating with ISIS against the Anarchist Kurdish resistance fighters in Northern Syria. In particular they’ve tightly controlled the movement of fighters, aid workers, journalists, and folks in solidarity with the Kurds from entering Syria, while at the same time they’ve allowed ISIS jihadists free reign, even letting them move troops and weapons to strike the Kurdish Anarchists through the Turkish border.

Anarchists in Turkey have been struggling to provide support to Kurdish anarchist comrades, despite repression from the Turkish government. Although many anarchists have fought on the frontlines of the war, those killed today were mostly peaceful volunteers.

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Alper Sapan described himself thusly, “I am a 19 year-old anarchist. I am against injustice, exploitation and tyranny of the state. I condemn people killing each others, violence and the state. I listen to the inner voice of my conscience for freedom and refuse to serve in the military for a warless, nationless and borderless world where no one could ever be a soldier, no one could ever kill each others. Before militarism kills us, we should kill militarism.”

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 Evrim Deniz Erol was 19 years old.

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Caner Delisu was a member of United Anarchist Attack (BAA).

Our hearts go out to them and their communities.

Two Cheers for the Iran Agreement

The nuclear agreement with Iran is good for two reasons: it reduces the chance of war, and it promises relief from sanctions for the Iranian people.

Although American officials still say that war is an option, the chance has now shrunk. Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that his military alone cannot deal a death blow to Iran. For that he needs America, and he’s far less likely to find a willing partner now.

That the Iranians will have sanctions lifted is something all humane people will welcome. President Obama says the sanctions “crippled the Iranian economy…. Their economy has been cratering as a consequence of the sanctions.” But he is wrong. “Economy” is an abstraction; it cannot be crippled or cratered. What has been crippled and cratered are the lives of innocent Iranians, who have had a difficult time obtaining food and medicines. The sanctions regime is a form of warfare against noncombatants. Moreover, as Gareth Porter shows, it did not even achieve what Obama says it was intended to achieve.

The good that will come out of this agreement cannot be overstated. The radically diminished prospect for war — which would set the Mideast aflame and inflict hardship on the rest of the world as well — and the improvement in the everyday lives decent Iranians are causes for rejoicing.

But the agreement has a significant downside too, in that it reinforces American hegemony. It does so by the very fact that the U.S. government is regarded by the media and others as the legitimate prosecutor, judge, and probation officer of Iran’s government. The U.S. government, of course, commands overwhelming military power, and in that respect alone it has the ability to impose demands on others. But that does not mean an American president has the moral authority to do so.

By what standard of a morality may a government make demands on others when it has wreaked death and destruction on countless societies with its military might, including the dropping of two atomic bombs on innocent Japanese noncombatants; launched wars of aggression; supported some of the worst dictators in recent times; made possible the use of death squads and other forms of terror; tortured people; overthrown governments (including Iran’s in 1953) in order to install puppet regimes; underwritten aggressive wars (such as Iraq’s war, complete with chemical weapons, against Iran in the 1980s; Israel’s against Lebanon, which spawned Hezbollah; and now Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen); facilitated or waged covert, proxy, and cyber wars (e.g., against Iran); and backed the occupation of innocent people’s land (most relevantly, Israel’s occupation of Palestine through ethnic cleansing and military conquest, which spawned Hamas)?

Iran never threatened the United States or Israel. It has not tried to build a nuclear bomb, and even if it were to do so, the weapon would be of no value except perhaps as a deterrent. Yet the nuclear-armed United States, and its ally Israel — the Mideast’s nuclear monopolist — haughtily presume to tell Iran what it may and may not do. The system of state sovereignty we suffer under is illegitimate, but as long as it exists, the U.S. government will only cause mayhem by violating the “sovereignty” of other nations. Under prevailing rules, Iran is a sovereign nation, so the U.S. government should have no more authority to demand that Iran open itself to inspections of its military and scientific facilities than Iran has to make that demand of the U.S. government. (Actually, maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing.)

It’s especially outrageous for Israel, which has aggressed against its neighbors, to stand in judgment of Iran. Iran signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and was subject to inspections before the latest negotiations. Israel will not sign the treaty. It won’t even admit what has long been known: that it has hundreds of nuclear weapons, which were built with smuggled components thanks to the connivance of law-breaking American officials and supporters. Israel, like the United States, also opposes making the Mideast a nuclear-free zone, which Iran supports.

So lift a glass to the agreement. But let’s not rest until the American hegemon is caged.

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist Review 90

Robert C. Koehler discusses the torture of absolute power.

William R. Polk discusses not learning from Middle Eastern mistakes.

Thomas L. Knapp discusses government debt.

Steven Horwitz discusses how marriage doomsday never comes.

David N. Gibbs discusses the Srebrenica precedent.

George Leef discusses a book on how liberals make it more difficult for blacks to succeed.

Jack Hunter discusses why it’s foolish to use the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of smaller government.

A.J. Delgado discusses Marco Rubio’s foreign policy views.

James Bovard discusses the documents purporting to tie the Saudis to the 9-11 attacks.

Ron Paul discusses ending U.S. interventionism against Cuba as a way of creating normal relations.

Kevin Carson discusses why we need more treason rather than less.

Avens O’ Brien discusses empathy.

Walter Olson discusses the case for pluralism in adoption.

Jonathan Cook discusses why Israel’s army of spin doctors is doomed to defeat.

Dan Sanchez discusses how U.S. interventionism creates more terrorists.

Radley Balko discusses extremist violence in the U.S.

Greg Grandin discusses the Confederate flag and endless war.

Sharon Presley discusses the psychology of freedom.

Cesar Chelala discusses the attacks on Yemen.

Philip Giraldi discusses how the War on Terror serves as a witness protection program for felons.

Aaron Ross Powell discusses how politics is destroying people’s souls.

Joseph R. Stromberg discusses the Barron memo.

Daniel Larison discusses the U.S. backed slaughter in Yemen.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses how ex-politicians profit off the misery they cause.

Robert Parry discusses Islamic fundamentalist fighters joining the battle in the Ukraine.

Richard W. Behan discusses Jeb Bush and his brother’s wars.

Sheldon Richman discusses Thomas Friedman on Iran.

Medea Benjamin discusses attempts to kill the Iranian nuclear deal.

Gary Leupp discusses the sectarian strife the U.S. helped create in the Middle East.

Sheldon Richman discusses libertarian strategy and incremental change.

The C4SS Q3 Tor Node Fundraiser

Essentially, the tragedy of past revolutions has been that, sooner or later, their doors closed, “at ten in the evening.” The most critical function of modern technology must be to keep the doors of the revolution open forever! –Murray Bookchin

Part of the dissolutionary strategy advocated by C4SS is called Open Source Insurgency or embracing institutional, organizational or technological innovations — low-tech or high-tech — that render centralized or authoritarian governance impossible (or so damn costly as to be regarded impossible). One of these innovations is Tor. And, so, C4SS maintains an always-on Tor Node. But we need your help.

c4ssbiggerTor

C4SS has maintained a Tor relay node for four years. This is our third quarter fundraiser for this project. Every contribution will help us maintain the node until October 2015. Every contribution above our needed amount will be earmarked for our fourth quarter fundraiser.

We encourage everyone to consider operating a Tor relay node yourself. If this, for whatever reason, is not an option, you can still support the Tor project and online anonymity with a $5 donation to the C4SS Tor relay node.

C4SS maintains a Tor relay node with a freedom friendly data center in the Netherlands. The relay is part of a global network dedicated to the idea that a free society requires freedom of information. Since June 2011 C4SS has continuously added nearly 10 Mbps of bandwidth to the network (statistics). Although we can’t know, by design, what passes through the relay, it’s entirely likely that it has facilitated communications by revolutionaries, agorists, whistleblowers, journalists working under censorious regimes and many more striving to advance the cause of liberty and the dissolution of authority.

If you believe, as we do, that Tor is one of the technologies that makes both state and corporate oppression not only obsolete, but impossible, please consider operating as a Tor relay or donating to support the C4SS node.

The State is damage, we will find a route around!

If you are interested in learning more about Tor and how to become a relay node yourself, then check out our write up on the project: Stateless Tor.

Please donate today!

Bitcoin is also welcome:

  • 1N1pF6fLKAGg4nH7XuqYQbKYXNxCnHBWLB
Media Coordinator Report, June 2015

Dear Supporters,

June has come and gone, and with it, we’ve got another Media Coordinator Report to deliver. Here are the numbers:

  • 27,770 submissions
  • 10 pickups…?

I have to admit, folks. Finding pickups is the hardest part of this job and I have been doing it all wrong. The reason this report is so late, in fact, is because I was debating with myself on whether to include the pickup numbers at all.

Tom’s system, crafted after many years of doing this job, was to create all manner of alerts and notifications for each article he sent out. One ingenious method he told me about was saving a Google Alert that included a specific uncommon phrase from the article he was submitting. I have not been doing that. So this month I’ll be going back through the dozens of articles we’ve published since March and seeing if I can find our pickups to bring our numbers a little bit closer to the truth. Expect that at the mid-month update.

Other than that, I look at the preceding month and I see a success. C4SS has some of the most passionate writers around and June was a month where they really shone. Take Grant Mincy’s Across the Sea:

Under the cover of darkness, at risk of capture, torture and/or death they fled. They subjected themselves to the brutality of a large human smuggling network, hid in tight spaces, traveled at length in silence and paid incredible fees. They kept cover under palm trees, moved along sand dunes and have slept very little. Tired, bone weary, hungry, but alive, they stand on the shoreline.

This is it. The last leg in a very long journey. But, the ancient Mediterranean is dangerous.

Choppy currents, large waves, great white sharks and other obstacles stand between the refugees and Europe. They have all heard the tales. They know thousands have drown on this eight mile voyage. But, just as thousands before them, they will risk their last breath and attempt to cross the sea with their families. Freedom is worth their last gasp of air.

Or Nathan Goodman’s Queer Liberation and Jury Nullification:

That last part, resistance, is absolutely crucial. Pride is held in June in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. After police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, patrons fought back. At the time, homosexuality and gender non-conformity were overtly criminalized. Police inspected the genitals of bar patrons dressed in feminine attire, and arrested drag queens and cross dressers. The officers also frisked and groped lesbian patrons.

That night, the queer and trans people at the Stonewall Inn did not accept the coercion and abuse they faced from the police. They fought back. Their acts of defiant self-defense against unjust state violence that night sparked the modern gay liberation movement. Every pride festival and pride parade is a celebration of resistance to an unjust criminal justice system.

While queer and trans people are no longer explicitly criminalized under the letter of the law, they still face unjust state violence and criminalization. Officers profile transgender women of color as sex workers and frequently arrest them on charges of solicitation. Queer and trans people who defend themselves from hate crimes, such as CeCe McDonald and the New Jersey Four, are themselves charged with violent crimes and incarcerated. LGBTQ homeless youth find themselves arrested for “quality of life” crimes such as sleeping in public, panhandling, and a variety of other crimes that primarily exist to criminalize the poor.

See what I mean?

July is already starting off fantastically, with articles speaking out against deifying Ronald Reagan, less police peace and more treason for everyone.

And none of this is possible without readers like you. We’re able to keep the lights on due to your support, so thank you for everything. I’ll see you in two weeks.

Yours in solidarity,
Trevor Hultner
Media Coordinator
C4SS

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist Review 89

Steven Fake discusses what Israel could have taught Dixie.

Lucy Steigerwald discusses U.S. sensitivity to civilian deaths.

David S. D’Amato discusses anarchism and minarchism in American history.

Sheldon Richman discusses Clarence Thomas.

John Feffer discusses ISIS and the terrible twos.

Franklin Lamb discusses Palestine and ISIS.

Robert Parry discusses Libya and Hilary Clinton.

Chris Toensing discusses how the U.S. is partly to blame for the starvation occurring in Yemen.

Justin Raimondo discusses American foreign policy and sovereignty.

Doug Bandow discusses ending military welfare to South Korea

Laurence M. Vance discusses a Tom Woods book on libertarianism.

Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon discuss whether there is a human right to kill.

Trevor Timm discusses civilian deaths in the U.S. war against ISIS.

David Boaz discusses the 4th of July.

Nathan Goodman discusses the New Deal and corporate welfare.

Kevin Carson discusses primitive accumulation as the process that keeps on giving.

Chris Floyd discusses the Confederate battle flag.

Andrew Levine discusses the Confederate battle flag and racism.

Lawrence Davidson discusses why Dylann Roof’s kind still exist.

Jerry Lembcke discusses the myth of American GIs being spat on.

Jacob Sullum discusses Rand Paul and drug policy.

Jeff Abbot discusses how U.S. policy is driving militarization in Guatemala.

Kevin Carson discusses Ron Bailey and the free market.

Juan Cole discusses leftist Kurds vs ISIS.

Daniel Larison discusses Jeb Bush’s foreign policy.

Ryan McMaken discusses five laws to repeal on independence day.

Tom Engelhardt discusses the superpower conundrum.

Trita Parsi discusses dignity and the nuclear talks with Iran.

Conn Hallinan and Leon Wofsy discusses American foreign policy.

Caleb Rossiter discusses the empires of Russia and America.

#RedditRevolt as Sympathy Strike

Yesterday arguably one of the biggest general/sympathy strikes in modern history kicked off. I refer, of course, to reddit and the shuttering of hundreds of subreddits in protest of a woman’s firing and, more broadly, the lack of democratic accountability on reddit.

Millions of people right now are excitedly joining a general strike with billions of dollars at stake. Now the leftist subreddits have expectedly sneered at the strike because they despise the broader culture in reddit and see themselves as adversaries to anything popular in the site’s notoriously problematic userbase. But it’s an interesting situation because, you know, I was raised to never cross a picket line. And one would be hardpressed if one stepped back and looked from a conventional union perspective to characterize going to reddit or keeping subreddits online as anything other than scabbing/crossing pickets.

I am, of course, a left market anarchist, who thinks the traditional models of unionism are laughably antiquated and map poorly onto anything of relevance in the modern world and that the Marxist expansion of “labor” to include literally every human activity including discourse is an insane colonization of all human experience into a dated historical lens.

Further as an anarchist I am adamantly in favor Reddit being destroyed/decentralized, not just to apply some much needed evolutionary pressures on the troglodytes that have found refuge in reddit’s reactionary aspects, but primarily so the internet can be the internet again. The anarchist orientation is ultimately not one of uncritical support for campaigns to make admins (and moderators) “more accountable” — replicating the same rotten forms of representational democratic society again and again as though a child whose imagination has been beaten away. Rather our goal is the dissolution of places of power, whether that be capricious and disconnected bosses or the enclosure of the web into walled gardens.

But this is an astounding moment in both the shattering of long ossified norms and the hands-on practice in resistance this such a rapid sympathy strike is giving the internet’s denizens. While a subcurrent of racist/misogynistic reactionaries is present in this struggle and seeking to push reactionary perspectives/memes such people are usually present in moments of great social contestation.

And it’s illustrative of just how deeply internet discourse has turned into defensive policing of clusters of identity/community that everyone is basically incapable of seeing this strike unprecedented in scale in the history of the internet for what it is.

Punch a Hippie in the Face for Freedom

There are no enforceable laws against flag desecration in the United States. There have been no such laws for over twenty five years. But bring up flag burning and a lot of American nationalists — especially, it seems, political conservatives — will get pretty heated about their right to beat people up who express Patriotically Incorrect political views, or to beat people up just for being a dirty hippie. This kind of appeal to crude instinctual violence only goes so far however, so if the conversation goes on, many of them (more, it seems, in the last few years) will come around to make a claim that it is actually illegal to burn a U.S. flag, and that people can be arrested for doing it. They are completely mistaken about that claim. But it’s interesting, and a bit scary, that they are so pervasively and repetitively and insistently mistaken.

Let’s set aside for the moment the question of whether or not there’s anything wrong with burning a U.S. flag in protest. And let’s set aside for the moment whether or not there’d be anything wrong with burning a U.S. flag in protest if it were illegal. We’ll come back to that later, but it’s a separate question.

Those who claim that burning an American flag is illegal rarely cite a source for this claim. If they do, they will normally point to something like 18 USC 700, on “Desecration of the flag of the United States.” [1] What they don’t seem to have noticed is that 18 USC 700 has no legal force. It hasn’t had any legal force for two and a half decades. It’s still printed in copies of the U.S. code, but both that law, and any law substantially like it, were struck down as violations of free speech rights a quarter century ago in Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman. This is not a new development. It’s been the case for decades.

In 1989, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act which made it a crime to destroy an American flag or any likeness of an American flag which may be “commonly displayed.” The law did, however, allow proper disposal of a worn or soiled flag. Several prosecutions resulted from the Act. Eichman set a flag ablaze on the steps of the U.S. Capitol while protesting the government’s domestic and foreign policy. Another prosecution (United States v. Haggerty) resulted from a flag-burning in Seattle protesting the passage of the Flag Protection Act. Both cases (Eichman’s and Haggerty’s) were argued together.[2]

The claim that flag-burning is illegal or punishable by law is pure nationalist political mythology. There is no enforceable law against flag desecration in the United States. If you claim that there is, you’ve been misinformed, and you are spreading misinformation.

Now, of course, even if there were an enforceable law against desecrating or burning a flag, your own property, whenever you see fit to do so, that law would be a petty tyranny, an obvious and stupid invasion of people’s basic rights to freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Using force to censor and curtail basic freedom of speech and basic property rights is wrong, and fundamentally unjust, no matter what the law says.

If it were illegal to burn flags, then every one of us would have a perfect right to burn flags in defiance of the law, as an act of civil disobedience against unjust restrictions on free speech. Laws that elevate the symbolism of a piece of cloth over the rights of living people to the integrity of their own minds, their own bodies, and their own property, — laws that propose censorship and punitive force against those whose peaceful protests offend the delicate sensibilities of Patriotic Correctness — deserve nothing but contempt and defiance, whenever and wherever they exist.

But of course they don’t even exist in this case. They’re pure mythology. But myths are created and repeated because they serve a political and cultural function. There’s something worth noting in the fact that so many of the self-appointed Home Guard have a manifest felt need, that they so badly want to believe in a government that can and will use violence to punish offenses against the dignity of their national flag, even in spite of what they could have found out with two minutes’ research on the Internet. This kind of violent Patriotic Correctness is, of course, nothing more than bullying and censorship. A form of bullying and violent censorship where many of the bullies and the censors so desperately feel the need for government support that they will conjure non-existent laws to back up their burning desire to punch a hippie in the face. The saddest thing of all is that they will tell you that they do this because the flag means so very much, and it means so very much because it stands for freedom. That should tell you something about the kind of American Nation, and the kind of freedom, that they are so exercised to protect against the scourge of peaceful protest and free speech.

My own view of course is that sedition and open disrespect for the government are American traditions, and they deserve to be honored.

Happy Revolution Day weekend.

NOTES:

[1] Occasionally they will point to the Federal Flag Code (4 U.S.C Ch. 1 § 5 and following) instead. But the Flag Code is explicitly purely advisory; if you read it, you’ll find that it never claims to be anything more than a list of etiquette and customs that the government specifies as guidance for such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by one or more executive departments of the Government of the United States. It has no legally binding force for anyone who isn’t in the employment of the United States government. You don’t commit any crime by disregarding it and there are no penalties for violating it.

[2] United States v. Eichman 496 U.S. 310 (1990)

Clarence Thomas’s Confused Notion of Freedom

Compared to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, his colleague Clarence Thomas is well regarded by at least some devotees of liberty. This is not totally unjustified. Thomas has demonstrated a familiarity with the philosophy and history of natural law and natural rights, which he (at times) sees rooted in individual persons. For this reason, in some areas he has opposed expansion of government power; for example in U.S. v. Lopez, he broke long precedent and held that the commerce clause of the Constitution is not a blank check to the government.

However, this background knowledge has not kept him from taking positions abhorrent by libertarian standards. For example, he voted with the minority in Lawrence v. Texas, in which the court struck down a law criminalizing intimate acts between gay and lesbian individuals. To be fair, Thomas said his objection to the majority opinion was constitutional not substantive: “I ‘can find [neither in the Bill of Rights nor any other part of the Constitution a] general right of privacy.'” (On the right to privacy and the Constitution, see my 1993 article Dissolving the Inkblot: Privacy as Property Right.”) He called the particular law in question (quoting another case) “uncommonly silly,” adding, “If I were a member of the Texas Legislature, I would vote to repeal it.”

He also dissented in U.S. v. Windsor, which struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied the surviving spouse of a state-recognized same-sex marriage exemption from the federal estate tax. Thomas has supported civil asset forfeiture, drug testing of student athletes in government schools, and broad presidential war-making powers. So he has not opposed to government expansion across the board. Far from it.

Of course in Obergefell v. Hodges (PDF), Thomas voted against the proposition that state laws which deny recognition to same-sex marriages are unconstitutional because they violate the due-process/liberty and equal-protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. Even so, his dissenting opinion has material of interest to libertarians.

Thomas’s main point is that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion did not demonstrate that denying recognition to same-sex marriage constitutes a violation of liberty. A denial of state benefits? Yes. But, he pointed out, to deny state benefits is not to deny liberty. Some quotes:

  • Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits.
  • The majority claims these state laws deprive petitioners of “liberty,” but the concept of “liberty” it conjures up bears no resemblance to any plausible meaning of that word as it is used in the Due Process Clauses.
  • “Liberty” most likely refers to “the power of locomotion, of changing situation, or removing one’s person to whatsoever place one’s own inclination may direct; without imprisonment or restraint, unless by due course of law.”
  • It is hard to see how the “liberty” protected by the Clause could be interpreted to include anything broader than freedom from physical restraint.
  • The founding-era idea of civil liberty as natural liberty constrained by human law necessarily involved only those freedoms that existed outside of government.
  • Whether we define “liberty” as locomotion or freedom from governmental action more broadly, petitioners have in no way been deprived of it.
  • Petitioners do not ask this Court to order the States to stop restricting their ability to enter same-sex relationships, to engage in intimate behavior, to make vows to their partners in public ceremonies, to engage in religious wedding ceremonies, to hold themselves out as married, or to raise children. The States have imposed no such restrictions. Nor have the States prevented petitioners from approximating a number of incidents of marriage through private legal means, such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.
  • But receiving governmental recognition and benefits has nothing to do with any understanding of “liberty” that the Framers would have recognized.
  • As a philosophical matter, liberty is only freedom from governmental action, not an entitlement to governmental benefits.

That’s a lot of repetition in a fairly short opinion. I guess Thomas wanted to make sure we got the point. And it’s a fair point. Liberty means freedom from aggression, not access to a government benefit, which itself must be produced by aggression against people as taxpayers, employers, etc. But this doesn’t mean that Thomas’s opinion is sound overall, for it suffers from serious flaws. He seems oblivious of the fact that most states which refused to recognize same-sex marriage also refused to enforce private marriage contracts. That being case, same-sex couples wishing to marry definitely had their liberty violated. Moreover, Thomas says nothing about Kennedy’s claim that denying recognition violates the principle of equal protection under the law. One can agree with Thomas that no liberty was violated but still object on classical-liberal and constitutional grounds to the denial of equal protection. Finally, parts of Thomas’s opinion show the same lack of understanding of liberty that Scalia showed in his dissenting opinion. Thomas writes:

  • To protect that liberty from arbitrary interference, they [the people] establish a process by which that society can adopt and enforce its laws. In our country, that process is primarily representative government at the state level, with the Federal Constitution serving as a backstop for that process. As a general matter, when the States act through their representative governments or by popular vote, the liberty of their residents is fully vindicated. [Emphasis added.]
  • That petitioners disagree with the result of that process does not make it any less legitimate. Their civil liberty has been vindicated.

What Thomas is saying here is that liberty is not, as Benjamin Constant put it, “the enjoyment of security in private pleasures.” Rather, it’s the right merely to participate in the democratic process. If your position fails, fret not. Your civil liberty has been vindicated.

Like Scalia, Thomas sides with the ersatz “liberty” of the People (a collectivist notion) against the real liberty of the several persons. When you get down to basics, he’s no friend of freedom.

The Cognitive Dissonance of State-Apologists

“If you don’t like it, you can get out!!!”

If you say this to critics of your preferred nation-state while also supporting immigration restrictions, then you may have some cognitive dissonance that you should work on.

Yet nationalists and statists say this to critics of the U.S. government all the time, and they tend to be the sort of nationalists and statists who support immigration restrictions.

To some extent, appeals to voting with your feet make sense. Tiebout competition can pose some constraints on the rapaciousness and predation of governments, particularly local governments that it is less costly to move away from.  That’s part of why Nobel Prize winning public choice theorist James M. Buchanan advocated competitive federalism. And for those of us who make radical critiques of government that suggest we don’t think voice is likely to change it, exit may be a much better option.

But it is utterly hypocritical to suggest leaving a nation-state’s jurisdiction when you actively support the laws nation-states use to make exit and entrance artificially costly and often outright prohibited. Immigration laws actively prevent people from voting with their feet. As Ilya Somin explains, “the frequent denial of entry rights greatly undercuts the value of exit rights. To reap the full benefits of international foot voting, barriers to entry should be reduced.” States are obliged under international law to allow people to exit, but in practice the ability to exit is substantially limited by immigration restrictions. Those who support laws that in practice make it costlier for people to migrate between countries should not advocate migration between countries as an “easy” solution for an interlocutor’s lack of loyalty to the nation-state they live under.

There are many other problems with the “If you don’t like it, leave” proposal, of course. When governments engage in unjust actions, the state-actors perpetuating injustice are the ones with a moral obligation to stop their actions. To suggest that people have an obligation to leave their homes and communities gets the morality of the situation precisely backwards.

If you want to advocate exit and feet-voting to those who are frustrated with governments, you should take this advocacy seriously and combine it with a commitment to opposing coercive actions that make exit artificially costly. And if you particularly appreciate the benefits of competition that feet-voting can  open up, you should seriously consider supporting market anarchism. Exit in a model of competitive federalism at least involves the cost of moving between jurisdictions. In a market anarchist society, in the other hand, there is competition within any given geographical area, and those who are frustrated with services they are currently being provided with have the ability to meaningfully “exit” without moving and leaving their home behind.

Of course, I don’t seriously expect nationalists to embrace open borders or market anarchism on this basis. Why? C4SS Senior Fellow Charles Johnson explains it well. Seriously advocating feet-voting and Tiebout competition isn’t the statement’s real function. “The function of course is not to offer a real alternative. The function is to browbeat citizens back into the rank and file. Nations don’t take no for an answer, and neither do nationalists.”

The Weekly Libertarian Leftist Review 88

Jacob G. Hornberger discusses the non-existent differences between liberals and conservatives.

David S. D’Amato discusses Henry Meulen.

Robert Parry discusses the NYT’s Orwellian view of Ukraine.

Philip Giraldi discusses why Obama won’t end police militarization.

Ivan Eland discusses how U.S. military intervention makes Middle Eastern turmoil worse.

Ramzy Baroud discusses why Iran is not blameless.

David S. D’Amato discusses progressives who oppose liberal values.

Adam Hudson discusses torture and existing law.

Chase Madar discusses humanitarian interventionists.

Randy Barnett discusses the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson.

David S. D’Amato discusses jury nullification.

Zaid Jilani discusses Obama’s drone war.

William Astore discusses American addiction to war.

Dan Glazebrook discusses why the Yemen peace talks collapsed.

Eric Draitser and Ramiro S. Funez discuss the coup in Honduras.

David S. D’Amato discusses decentralism on both the left and the right.

Ryan McMaken discusses self-determination and secession.

Daniel Pryor discusses libertarianism, Peter Singer, and altruism.

Elias Isquith discusses Max Bluemnthal’s new book via interview.

Stephen Davies discusses Ian Morris’s book.

Zuri Davis discusses why government should not be involved in marriage.

Jack Balkwill discusses the War on Terror.

Shane Smith discusses how the philosophy of liberty transcends political labels.

Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini discusses the problems with human rights organizations.

Alice Salles discusses ending marriage licensing.

John Wight discusses why the Confederacy was the Islamic State of its time.

Dan Sanchez discusses Israel and war.

Uri Avnery discusses charges of Israeli war crimes.

Daniel Lazare discusses the neocon embrace of Al-Qaeda.

Sheldon Richman discusses Scalia’s anti-Enlightenment worldview.

Scalia’s Anti-Enlightenment Anti-Individualism

Conservatives warn that the so-called liberals on the Supreme Court endanger our liberties. This is certainly true, although not exactly as the conservatives mean it. Now it’s time for them to acknowledge that the court’s conservatives do the same.

Case in point: Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges (PDF), the case that declared state laws forbidding legal recognition of same-sex marriages unconstitutional. Scalia’s opinion is worth examining apart from the particulars of Obergefell. As he points out — let’s take him at his word — what he objects to in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion has nothing to do with same-sex marriage per se. What concerns him is not the content of the opinion but the activity the majority engaged in to arrive at it.

As he writes at the very top:

…It is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.

Specifically, he laments “the Court’s claimed power to create ‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention.”

This is a powerful clue to Scalia’s philosophy, which conservatives either embrace or ignore. In Scalia’s view we have only the liberties mentioned in the Constitution and its amendments, and those are the only liberties the Supreme Court should concern itself with. This view would be worrisome even if among those amendments we did not find number nine, which states,

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

To quote Rick Perry, “Oops.” I guess he forgot.

When the court “creates” rights not expressly mentioned, Scalia says, it “robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”

If you think that self-government means that each person is free to govern himself or herself and that the protection of rights and equality under the law serve that end — Scalia says you’re wrong.

He is sad that court’s ruling ended the same-sex marriage debate — a “display[ of] American democracy at its best.”

Americans considered the arguments and put the question to a vote. The electorates of 11 States, either directly or through their representatives, chose to expand the traditional definition of marriage. Many more decided not to. Win or lose, advocates for both sides continued pressing their cases, secure in the knowledge that an electoral loss can be negated by a later electoral win. That is exactly how our system of government is supposed to work.

To be sure, he says, the Constitution and its amendments limit such “self-rule”:

Forbidden are laws “impairing the Obligation of Contracts,” denying “Full Faith and Credit” to the “public Acts” of other States, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing the right to keep and bear arms, authorizing unreasonable searches and seizures, and so forth.

That pesky Ninth Amendment is left out again.

“Aside from these limitations,” he continues, “those powers ‘reserved to the States respectively, or to the people’ can be exercised as the States or the People desire. (My emphasis.)

The collectivist manner in which Scalia defines self-rule reminds me of classical-liberal Benjamin Constant’s distinction between the liberty of the ancients and the liberty of the moderns:

The aim of the ancients was the sharing of social power among the citizens of the same fatherland: this is what they called liberty. The aim of the moderns is the enjoyment of security in private pleasures; and they call liberty the guarantees accorded by institutions to these pleasures.

Scalia has the mind of an ancient. It’s odd that Scalia regards himself as a defender of the founders’ vision when the founders (despite their faults) regarded themselves as men of the Enlightenment.

One need not embrace Kennedy’s opinion in all its particulars to see that Scalia’s ancient philosophy is as much a danger to liberty as anything the so-called liberals might come up with.

Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist