A anarquia como meio-termo

Meu colega de Centro por uma Sociedade sem Estado Roderick Long certa vez descreveu a anarquia como meio-termo, não como um tipo de fanatismo ou extremismo, mas um ponto “entre obrigar o que deveria ser opcional e proibir o que deveria ser opcional”. O argumento de Long não é só um enfoque diferente que tenta vender o anarquismo para uma audiência indisposta a considerar seus argumentos; trata-se, na verdade, de um insight importante sobre o que os anarquistas de fato desejam para o futuro, sugerindo a tolerância à experimentação e ao pluralismo que são centrais à nossa filosofia.

O anarquismo é mais um método que a vindicação de um resultado particular. Assim, uma condição de anarquia — se ela chegar a existir — será aquela que se mostrar coerente com a metodologia prescrita pelo o anarquismo. Como escreve Donald Rooum, “o ideal do anarquismo é o de uma sociedade em que todos os indivíduos possam fazer o que escolherem, a não ser interferir com a capacidade de os outros fazerem o que escolherem. Esse ideal é chamado anarquia, que vem do grego anarchia, o que significa a ausência de governo”. Ao considerarmos o que os anarquistas já afirmaram a respeito de si mesmos e suas ideias, parecem dúbias as caricaturas dos anarquistas que os pintam como agentes perigosos e fanáticos do caos ou como utópicos sonhadores.

É o estatismo que devemos considerar como uma posição filosoficamente extrema, porque todas as suas várias formas propõem a noção patentemente absurda e contraintuitiva de que algumas pessoas devem ter o direito de governar ar outras. É difícil imaginar que uma ideia tão frágil possa ser a posição padrão na filosofia política, tanto entre amadores quanto entre profissionais — superstições e mitos mantêm a existência do estado, em contraposição à racionalidade e argumentação. Essas superstições no passado envolviam noções já abandonadas como o direito divino dos reis e atualmente englobam ideias igualmente desprezíveis, como por exemplo a de que as “democracias” são governos “do povo, pelo povo e para o povo”. Os argumentos das classes dominantes e das autoridades nunca mereceram o benefício da dúvida, é claro, mas mesmo se pudéssemos confiar em suas ideias, seu histórico acumulado de mortes, exploração e pobreza já é monumental.

Em vez de pensarem no anarquismo como uma cura para uma sociedade doente, os anarquistas veem nosso movimento como uma ferramenta com a qual avaliar os fenômenos sociais. Em concorrência com as narrativas das classes dominantes, ele nos oferece formas novas e diferentes de pensar em como nos relacionamos enquanto seres humanos.

Ao discutir as relações entre várias correntes sociais de sua época, o mutualista William Batchelder Greene apontou uma verdade importante, observando que todas eram ao mesmo tempo verdadeiras e falsas — “falsas como sistemas parciais e exclusivos”, embora “verdadeiras em suas relações mútuas”. O trabalho de Greene enfatizava o equilíbrio e a reciprocidade, buscando o meio termo, tanto para evitar o “individualismo desequilibrado pelo socialismo e o socialismo desequilibrado pelo individualismo”. O princípio guia do anarquismo de mercado, a lei da igual liberdade, tenta chegar nesse ponto — o equilíbrio que permita que o indivíduo viva em plena liberdade e preserve a comunidade.

Os libertários atualmente compreendem incorretamente a relação entre a liberdade e a igualdade e tratam os dois conceitos como incompatíveis. Libertários como William Greene entendiam que os dois se complementam, quando entendidos adequadamente. Não pode haver liberdade real sem igualdade e igualdade real sem liberdade. Por definição, o estado é inimigo de ambos; ele torna alguns “mais iguais que outros”, destruindo tanto a liberdade quanto a igualdade. Assim, o inimigo do estado — o anarquista — é o defensor da liberdade e da igualdade, do meio termo que, através da concorrência e da cooperação, conecta os interesses de todos de forma harmoniosa.

Traduzido por Erick Vasconcelos.

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“It takes money to make money”

“It takes money to make money.” An old, oft-repeated saying, it is certainly true enough as a statement describing the functioning of capitalism. The idea is that once one possesses capital, she can loan it to others for interest or rent, or else invest it in some productive enterprise to earn profits, sitting back and watching her money pile up. On its face, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of this, with saving, investing, lending and getting rich. But our little maxim also suggests something of a problem.

After all, why should it take money to make money? Arguably, anyone with the principle of parsimony and a willingness to work hard ought to be able to make money. To get at the basic truth contained within it, we should consider the phrase at its most literal, boiled down to the abstract principle it is meant to illustrate. Put simply, the notion that “it takes money to make money” is just the claim that wealth is able to reproduce itself without work — that rubbing two coins together will make them mate.

Seeing this principle at work, 19th century libertarians such as Benjamin Tucker regarded capitalism as a system of privilege that “gives idle capital the power of increase.” Tucker challenged the capitalist myth that the great fortunes of his day were purely and simply the result of the virtues of hard work and saving. Far more often, capitalists’ riches were a product of “cleverness in procuring from the government a privilege” through which competition could be prevented. Such deep-rooted, systematic suppressions of competition consolidated wealth in the hands of the few.

Today’s market anarchists argue that these free market critiques of capitalism remain relevant, perhaps more than ever given, for example, the role of intellectual property in the global economy. A genuine free market transaction is positive-sum, a benefit to both exchanging parties. Conversely, exchanges in capitalism are zero-sum, one party benefiting at the expense of the other. The latter system is one of exploitative exchange, based on systematic bargaining power imbalances instituted by the State.

While markets exist in capitalism, they are not its defining feature, which is rather monopolism. The fundamental principle of capitalism is indeed quite simple: use the coercive power of governmental authority to monopolize everything of value, compelling workers to labor for whatever bosses deem appropriate. To call such a system a “free market” is to commit oneself to the most obviously absurd fiction, to use language to obfuscate the true, statist nature of capitalism.

Among free market libertarians, much turns on whether unbridled, voluntary exchanges will lead to the “power of increase” that worried Tucker. Many believe that genuine free markets will in fact allow and result in such a power, and they tend to equate free markets with capitalism. For many of us, however, Tucker was right in seeing true laissez faire as a kind of socialism, a way out of the exploitations of capitalism.

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Chartier Emergent

The Studies In Emergent Order symposium on Gary Chartier’s Anarchy and Legal Order – with contributions by Jonathan Crowe, Aeon Skoble, and Jason Brennan, and a reply by Gary – is now online.

It Didn’t Begin With George Reisman

James Mill and Charles Knight were both, broadly speaking, free-market libertarians, and much that they wrote on economic and political matters is quite valuable. But the hysteria with which they attack Thomas Hodgskin is instructive:

Charles Knight and James Mill

Nothing can be conceived more mischievous than the doctrines which have been preached to the common people, at Birmingham and elsewhere. … The nonsense to which your Lordship alludes about the rights of the labourer to the whole produce of the country, wages, profits, and rent, all included, is the mad nonsense of our friend Hodgkin [sic], which he has published as a system and propagates with the zeal of perfect fanaticism. … These opinions, if they were to spread, would be the subversion of civilised society; worse than the overwhelming deluge of Huns and Tartars.
(James Mill, Letter to Henry Brougham 3 September 1832; quoted in Alexander Bain’s James Mill: A Biography.)

A writer [= Hodgskin] who has delivered lectures on Political Economy complains, in those lectures, that “the labourer is not allowed to work, unless, in addition to replacing whatever he uses or consumes, and comfortably subsisting himself, his labour also gives a profit to the capitalist on all the capital which he uses or consumes, while engaged in producing;” – and this principle the same writer calls a principle of slavery. The mischievous ignorance of such doctrines may be very easily shown. If some capitalist did not receive a profit upon the employment of the capital, it would remain unemployed – it would be useless. … Sometimes these doctrines meet you in the violent addresses that wrong-headed men deliver in popular assemblies. Sometimes they force themselves upon your notice in the shape of miserable writings, which profess to advocate your interests against those who are called your oppressors, – by which name all those are meant who have anything to lose, and anything to defend. … And, lastly, they insinuate themselves to your view, scattered amongst sound principles, intended to explain to you the laws which govern the production of wealth, in lectures on “Popular Political Economy.” [= Hodgskin’s 1827 work, which Knight admits in a footnote “with the exception of this doctrine ... may be considered useful and instructive.”] One and all of these counsellors, we say, are your bitterest enemies. They would lead you away from the pursuit of those means which can alone better your condition, to the cherishing of vain delusions, which will make you first unhappy, then idle, then starving, and then utterly depraved and worthless. Such doctrines may begin in the lecture-room, and there look harmless as abstract propositions; but they end in the maddening passion, the drunken frenzy, the unappeasable tumult, – the plunder, the fire, the blood ….

To you who have patiently borne with us in our examination of the great questions upon which this little book so imperfectly treats, it is, we should think, unnecessary to urge the paramount duty of exhibiting, during a time of strong political excitement, a respect for the laws, and a determination to maintain the private rights of all men inviolate. The rights which are most open to attack, as we have shown you, from designing and ignorant persons, are the rights of property. Upon the upholding of those rights depends your own security, your own freedom, your own certainty of going steadily forward in the improvement of your condition. Those of you who possess knowledge, and who desire knowledge, must have some influence over those who, unhappily, still remain without that best possession. It is for you to convey to them the truths which we have endeavoured to establish. It is for you to show them that the participators in, or the encouragers of tumult are the greatest enemies of freedom. It is for you to show them that freedom can only be the inheritance of the peaceable, the industrious, and the virtuous. It is for you to show them that no people can make any steady improvement in their institutions, that do not march forward in the career of improvement with an even and dispassionate temper – with a tolerant regard for all honest opinions – and, above all, with a determination that, come what storms there may, the vessel of the state shall not sink while the crew are quarrelling. Nothing can destroy our ultimate peace and prosperity but a violation of the great principles of natural justice, by which property is upheld for the benefit of all. …

Unless you, each in your own circle, put down that ignorant spirit that would make this temple of our once industrious and peaceful island “a den of thieves,” our liberties are at an end, because our security is at an end. There can be no liberty without security. Unless you, each in your own circle, endeavour to instruct the less informed in the knowledge of their rights in connexion with their duties, we shall all go backward in freedom, and therefore in national prosperity. When the ignorance of great masses of people is manifested by the light of a burning city, the records of that ignorance remain, in ruins which attest the hideous force of lawless violence. If the restraints of order are again set up, the ruins are cleared away; and, slowly perhaps, but certainly, capital again ventures forth to repair the destruction which a contempt of its rights had produced. But let the spirit of violence long continue to exist in sullen contests with the laws, or in causeless jealousy of the possessors of property, and the spirit of decay is established. Then begins a silent but certain career of destruction, more sweeping and wide-spreading than all the havoc that civil war upon the most fearful scale has ever produced. Houses are no longer burnt, but they become untenanted; manufactories are no longer pulled down, but the sound of labour is heard no more within their walls; barns are no longer plundered to distribute their stores, but the fields are not sown which were wont to produce those stores; roads are no longer rendered impassable by hostile bands, but the traffic which once supported them has ceased; canals and rivers are not dry, but their waters are mantled over with weeds, for the work of communication is ended; harbours and docks are not washed away by the sea, but the ships that once spread their sails for every corner of the earth lie idly within their bosoms, rotting “sheer hulks,” abandoned to the destruction of the wind and the wave. In the mean time, while all this silent decay goes forward, and many a mouldering pile proclaims that the reign of justice is at an end, the people are continuing to perish from the face of the land. Famine and pestilence sweep away their prey by thousands; and the robber who walks abroad at noon-day selects his victims from the few who still struggle to hide a miserable remnant of former abundance. At length tranquillity is established – but it is the tranquillity of death. The destroyers have done their work ….

These, assuredly, would be the consequences of following the blind guides that would break down the empire of property. These advocates of your “rights” would give you weeds instead of corn, skins instead of cloth, hollow trees instead of houses; and when you had gone back to the “freedom” of savage life, and each of the scattered tenants of a country covered with the ruins of former wealth could exclaim, “I am lord of the fowl and the brute,” these ministers of desolation would be able to sing their triumphal song of “Labour defended against the claims of Capital,” [= Hodgskin’s 1825 work] amid the shriek of the jackal, and the howl of the wolf.
(Charles Knight, The Rights of Industry, 1831.)

Bear in mind that Hodsgkin, the author against whom these scaremongering jeremiads are directed, was a defender of private property on Lockean lines, and had simply pointed out that the capitalist class’s monopoly of the means of production was the product of state privilege rather than of Lockean homesteading and free exchange. So deeply enmired were Mill and Knight in a right-conflationist vision of the economy that they were apparently unable to see Hodgskin’s attack on state interference with private property as anything but an attack on private property itself.

The Situation of the Argentine Worker

Right after the economic crisis the country went through over ten years ago, which reached its climax in 2001, Argentina bounced back and entered a period of relative prosperity due to favorable foreign trade conditions. Nevertheless, the situation of the average Argentine worker remains the same as it has been for hundreds of years: their access to the means of production, to capital, is still systematically restricted by the State.

1) Thanks to what is already an incipient recession, the country’s current economic situation is deteriorating rapidly. 75 percent of Argentine workers earn less than 6,500 pesos per month (about US$590), while half of those employed earn less than 4,040 pesos (US$367) per month, i.e., little more than the minimum wage of 3,600 pesos (US$327). The 25 percent that earns the least charges less than 2,500 pesos per month (US$227), the rate of informal employment has already reached 33.5 percent, and 1,200,000 people are unemployed. And these already meager income levels are further eroded by rampant inflation and heavy tax burdens.

Half of the workers who earn the least and consume most of their income, face a 21 percent VAT tax. This is an extremely regressive tax, since a worker with a salary of 3,600 pesos, who consumes most of it, pays taxes that represent more than one-fifth of their salary, while someone with a salary of 10,000 pesos — if we assume their monthly consumption level is equal to the minimum salary as well — pays only 7.5 percent of their income in taxes. In addition to all this, the government’s failure or unwillingness to update income tax brackets in an inflationary environment has swept away the wages of higher paid workers: a construction worker who earns 15,000 pesos (US$1,363) or more, gives up almost 40 percent of their income to the state.

Thus Argentina is emerging as the country where the state has the greatest influence over the economy in the region, and one of the countries in the world where employees pay the most taxes. Due to outdated tax brackets applied to workers earning decent wages, VAT and income tax are the main contributors to the state’s coffers in nominal terms, over and above taxes applied to large soy plantations and fuels [1].

2) But worst of all, the Argentine wage-earner today has less alternatives for emancipation and independence than ever. Even if they could manage to save a bit by somehow avoiding the sting of inflation, they face overwhelming barriers for entering markets, mainly due to national laws and municipal regulations for starting businesses. These restrictions raise startup costs for virtually any modest enterprise to over 100,000 pesos (over US$9,000). But because it is actually extremely hard for workers to avoid the effects of inflation, investment from savings on wages is virtually impossible.

Credit is virtually inaccessible. Banks charge interest rates of around 70 percent, and don’t lend less than 120,000 pesos for small or medium-sized enterprises. Furthermore, banks offer around 18 percent annually on deposits to savers, a trifle when compared with the rates they charge their customers for consumption loans and credit cards. The profits earned by banks for their monopoly on credit are unmatched in other sectors of Argentina’s economy. And with the last devaluation of January this year, profits grew even more. In fact, it could be said that apart from the government, banks were the only beneficiaries of the devaluation. All other sectors suffered a heavy loss in their purchasing power. During the first quarter of 2014, the Argentine economy didn’t grow, yet the banking sector boasted a 300 percent increase in earnings when compared to the same period of 2013 [2].

3) Finding it impossible to gain financial freedom through savings or through credit, all that remains for the average worker is to flee towards assets that enable them to at least protect the value of their scarce capital against inflation. This used to be done mainly through the purchase of US dollars or any other foreign currency, but the state, in an effort to enclose resources to support its client network, imposed a rigid set of foreign-exchange controls in 2011. The system was so rigid during the first stages of its implementation that it fueled a strong black currency market. It was only made somewhat more flexible in January 2014, and for the benefit of a privileged few: only those earning 7,200 pesos per month (US$654) — the equivalent of two minimum wages — or more may acquire foreign currency, and from that point onwards, the allowances for foreign currency purchases grow in tandem with the level of earned income. It is hard to think of a more regressive scheme for rationing a scarce resource.

In other words, more than 75 percent of Argentine workers are left out of the foreign-exchange market, making it extremely difficult to hedge against the inflation of the Peso. The flight towards other assets, such as durable goods like cars — I don’t take real estate into account because it has been inaccessible to the majority of the population for decades — has been massive, and along with Brazilian purchases, is the main factor compensating the reduction of staff and operations by major automakers due to slower economic growth. In short, the Argentine wage-earner has little choice but to work for someone else for a miserable salary that quickly melts away due to inflation — if the incipient recession doesn’t drag them into unemployment altogether.

4) With the crisis of 2001, the popular spirit was such that the slogan on everyone’s mind was “throw them all out,” a clear reflection of the people’s total loss of confidence in the political class. The proliferation of neighborhood assemblies, occupied worker-managed workplaces, and popular organizations without visible political leaders were the norm until Eduardo Duhalde’s police State paved the way, through repression and economic adjustment, for the first government of Néstor Kirchner in 2003. Today, despite poverty figures not being as dramatic as they were back then, the spirit of the Argentine people is similar, but definitely not mature enough.

Still, we are reaching a point at which the legitimacy of representative democracy is reaching a clear historical low: regular people seem to be realizing that the whole political show is all about sustaining the livelihood of the political class, and that once again, the course of events will evolve as it repeatedly has for decades. This perception has been boosted by the fact that the leading candidates for the 2015 presidential elections are all Frankensteins from the Kirchnerist/Duhaldist/Menemist laboratory. Even the “rightist” faction led by Mauricio Macri has greatly warmed up to the current government.

On the other hand, the statist left’s popularity has grown considerably in recent years, especially in some of the country’s major trade associations, and has gained a good chunk of legislative positions. The average worker is no longer convinced by Peronism, which has morphed into what radicalism became during the early twentieth century when it came to power: a purely conservative movement. However, despite the advancement of alternatives to the hegemonic Peronism being a very positive development in itself, it is still the authoritarian left of always. Their proposals are, beyond the “assembly” or “democratic” rhetoric, more centralization, more power to the state, and more taxes on producers.

5) I think Argentina needs a leftist movement that truly advocates for the emancipation of the producer, for the elimination of monopoly privileges in banking, land, and industry, and that doesn’t lean the weight of the state over the shoulders of workers and entrepreneurs — a left that leaves all political and economic decision-making in the hands of citizens. A libertarian movement. A movement that doesn’t spring from the heights of the classical liberal spectrum, who in any case would not approach workers for more than urging them to read Ludwig von Mises and to glorify Juan Bautista Alberdi. There is a huge cultural gap between this alleged rationalism, inherited from the eighteenth century, and the Argentine cultural heritage. The same distance that exists with the rusty figures of Marx and Trotsky that the left pretends to impose.

The Argentine mindset is fundamentally libertarian due to historical, cultural, and idiosyncratic reasons — that’s the key fact we have to work with.

[1] Tax Collection — Annual Series 2014, Federal Administration of Public Revenues (AFIP). A frequent argument against this criticism of statist depredation is that the collected monies “come back” to the people in the form of public or social services, such as the Universal Child Allowance (UCA), or educational services. It is important to note that the UCA is merely a superficial remedy aimed at containing the destructive impulses of the lumpenproletariat (that we all know very well ever since episodes like those of 2001), and that despite the increase in public-education investment from 4 percent to 6.2 percent of GDP, student enrollment in private schools grew seven times more than in public schools due to the continuous decay of the quality of public education, which does not offer any hope for the future for its pupils and keeps teachers in utterly precarious labor conditions. Again, workers suffer a double whammy: they sustain public education with their taxes, and at the same time make an incredible effort to afford paying for the private education of their children.

[2] This is nothing new. It has been pointed out by a great number of thinkers who emphasized the need for the worker to have the capacity to access credit for their emancipation, from Proudhon, William Greene, Benjamin Tucker, and Silvio Gesell, to Kevin Carson in more recent times, among others.

Translated by Alan Furth from the original in Spanish.

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The Feds: A Fox in Home Depot’s Henhouse

According to New York Times columnist Joe Nocera (“Criminal Card Games,” September 16), Home Depot’s security breach – the latest in an ongoing series of extensive exposures of customer financial information from large retailers — explains “why the federal government needs to get involved. With the banks and retailers at loggerheads, only the government has the ability to force a solution — or at least make it painful enough for companies with lax security to improve.”

But where this particular henhouse is concerned, the federal government is not just a fox, but one with a voracious all-hen diet, Peeping Tom compulsions and X-ray vision.

The monoculture of big box retailers, whose scale and homogeneity make them such lucrative targets for cybercriminals in the first place, is entirely a creation of federal subsidies. The economic advantage of vertical integration is not an inherent byproduct of economies of scale, but the artificial result of offloading the costs of large-scale distribution infrastructure through transportation subsidies.

Nocera notes that, in the account of former managers to Bloomberg Businessweek, Home Depot’s upper management allegedly deemed “C-level security” sufficient against expected attacks, since “ambitious upgrades would be costly and might disrupt the operation of critical business systems.” Only a plethora of interventions limiting liability and competitive pressure spare companies from being forced by market discipline to allocate revenue toward serving the needs of consumers.  For big businesses, having genuine conflicts of interest with each other smoothed out by government settlement, with costs passed on to customers, is far less “painful” than losing out to more agile and responsive smaller competitors.

Far better information security technology than that used by big business is available and affordable; it’s already in use elsewhere.  Indeed, Nocera quotes security expert Brian Krebs’s observation that an affected business is “always the last to know” when it’s compromised.  However, the financial system set in place by a government with ever-expanding appetites of its own requires a lack of opaqueness which inevitably prevents airtight security. As economist Robert Higgs explains, “once the government has made felonies of a raft of innocent actions … it follows as night follows day that it also treats as suspect every financial transaction you make — after all, any particular transaction might amount to ‘money laundering,’ itself as bogus a crime as any.”

This is doubly so when the federal government’s necessity for large-scale revenue grows to require taxation on sales and income, far beyond that obtainable by a tax on land which, as Henry George observed in Progress and Poverty, “cannot be hidden or carried off.”

Everyday consumer financial security, ensured with the military-grade secrecy used in cryptocurrency, is already technically feasible. Only the government-business alliance prevents market competition from making it economically inevitable.

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Thickness For Me But Not For Thee

Lew Rockwell, 1990: Lew Rockwell, 2014:
The Conservatives Are Right: Freedom Isn’t Enough
Conservatives have always argued that political freedom is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the good society, and they’re right. Neither is it sufficient for the free society. We also need social institutions and standards that encourage public virtue, and protect the individual from the State. …

The family, the free market, the dignity of the individual, private property rights, the very concept of freedom – all are products of our religious culture. … The traditional family – which grows out of natural law – is the basic unit of a civilized and free society. The family promotes values necessary for the preservation of a free society such as parental love, self-discipline, patience, cooperation, respect for elders, and self-sacrifice. Families encourage moral behavior and provide for proper child rearing and thus the continuation of the race. …

“Question Authority!” says a leftist bumper sticker popular in libertarian circles. But libertarians are wrong to blur the distinction between State authority and social authority, for a free society is buttressed by social authority. Every business requires a hierarchy of command and every employer has the right to expect obedience within his proper sphere of authority. It is no different within the family, the church, the classroom; or even the Rotary or the Boy Scouts. … Authority will always be necessary in society. Natural authority arises from voluntary social structures; unnatural authority is imposed by the State. …

A critic might point out that libertarianism is a political doctrine with nothing to say about these matters. … But no political philosophy exists in a cultural vacuum, and for most people political identity is only an abstraction from a broader cultural view. The two are separate only at the theoretical level; in practice, they are inextricably linked. It is thus understandable and desirable that libertarianism have a cultural tone, but not that it be anti-religious, modernist, morally relativist, and egalitarian ….

The only way to sever libertarianism’s link with libertinism is with a cleansing debate. … [W]e must adopt a new orientation. … In the new movement, libertarians who personify the present corruption will sink to their natural level, as will the Libertarian Party, which has been their diabolic pulpit. Some will find this painful; I’m looking forward to it. Let the cleansing process begin – it is long past due.

The “thin” libertarian believes in the nonaggression principle, that one may not initiate physical force against anyone else. The thin libertarian thinks of himself simply as a libertarian, without labels. Most “thick” libertarians likewise believe in the nonaggression principle, but they believe that for the struggle for liberty to be coherent, libertarians must be committed to a slate of other views as well. …

We have been told by some libertarians in recent months that yes, yes, libertarianism is about nonaggression and private property and all that, but that it is really part of a larger project opposed to all forms of oppression, whether state-imposed or not. …

To claim that it is not enough for the libertarian to oppose aggression is to fall into the trap that destroyed classical liberalism the first time, and transformed it into modern liberalism. …

Attacking the state is not enough, we hear. We must attack “patriarchy,” hierarchy, inequality, and so on. Thick libertarians may disagree among themselves as to what additional commitments libertarianism entails, but they are all agreed that libertarianism cannot simply be dedicated to eradicating the initiation of physical force.

If some libertarians wish to hope for or work toward a society that conforms to their ideological preferences, they are of course free to do so. But it is wrong for them – especially given their insistence on a big tent within libertarianism – to impose on other libertarians whatever idiosyncratic spin they happen to have placed on our venerable tradition, to imply that people who do not share these other ideologies can’t be real libertarians, or to suggest that it would be “highly unlikely” that anyone who fails to hold them could really be a libertarian. That these are the same people who complain about “intolerance” is only the most glaring of the ironies. …

The danger is that thick libertarianism will import its other concerns, which by their own admission do not involve the initiation of physical force, into libertarianism itself, thereby transforming it into something quite different from the straightforward and elegant moral and social system we have been defending for generations. …

All of these additional claims are a distraction from the central principle: if you oppose the initiation of physical force, you are a libertarian. Period. Now how hard was that?

La Libertà Ha Bisogno di Imperi?

Questo articolo è stato scritto da Sheldon Richman e pubblicato su The Future of Freedom Foundation il 5 settembre 2014. In un suo sorprendente articolo, Daniel McCarthy, il lodevole direttore di The American Conservative (TAC), scrive: “L’impero britannico prima, e quello americano poi,crearono e mantennero un ordine mondiale in cui il liberalismo [classico] poté fiorire.”…

Continue reading at Center for a Stateless Society …

Dalworthington Gardens Withholding Checkpoint Policies and Records

In response to an open records request to the Dalworthington Gardens Department of Public Safety following a license and insurance checkpoint over the Labor Day weekend, the city’s attorney has drafted a sweeping request to Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott to withhold all information of the city’s policies for establishing checkpoints and governing the conduct of officers at those operations.

Civil rights advocates have been wary of suspicionless checkpoints for being vulnerable to abuse as a revenue-generating program against members of low-income communities who have fewer resources to challenge criminal charges stemming from those officer interactions. That has led officials in nearby agencies, like the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, to be forthcoming with the traffic data being used to set up the location and timing of checkpoints. Dalworthington Gardens’s checkpoint was held near the intersection of W. Pioneer Pkwy. and S. Bowen St. on Aug. 29, which for a few blocks is within the city’s jurisdiction.

According to the city’s request for an opinion from the attorney general, release of department policies could pose a threat to officer safety and others present on scene of a license checkpoint. The city’s Department of Public Safety expressed reservations that releasing information from its policy manual concerning the location, timing, method, and duration of the checkpoint would “unduly interfere with law enforcement activity and crime detection and prevention.” They are concerned people may learn of opportunities “to evade or interfere with” checkpoints and the investigation techniques of officers.

While officer and civilian safety should be a consideration, without information being made available for public oversight, there is no opportunity to validate that the policies for the checkpoint are administered with due process equally for all drivers who encounter a checkpoint or if voters in Dalworthington Gardens want an opportunity to change those policies. Visitors have no means of considering if city policies are compromising to their privacy. By withholding this critical information, there is no way to determine what considerations the city is using to see if less intrusive measures could achieve the same purported ends of enforcing license and insurance compliance.

That is exactly what the “spectators,” as the city attorney referred to them, at the checkpoint were thwarted from doing since there is no way to know if the city’s written policies are being carried through. The city says that releasing information may also jeopardize the city’s criminal proceedings for the approximate 60 citations issued during that night. However, if policies were followed and have legal backing, release of the information should have no bearing on any pending criminal cases.

Even more alarming, the city is withholding information on what discretion officers are given in selecting which vehicles to stop at checkpoints. This raises serious concerns about the city’s policies, as the reason for detaining a driver should be objective and have no basis in officer discretion if it’s to be compliant with the federal constitution’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Of the eight requests made, two were fulfilled, three were said to have no relevant information available, and three were withheld altogether for the reasons cited above. The city attorney states there is no responsive information to the requests for information that the Department of Public Safety relied upon in choosing to establish the checkpoint, information concerning the amount of revenue estimated to be generated by the checkpoint, and the total cost of the operation. According to the release, no property was seized.

With no public records concerning information the city used in choosing to establish when or how to best perform the operation, residents in Dalworington Gardens are being shut out of the political process and are expected to give a free hand to a city government’s seemingly protracted grip.

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Barack Obama: terrorista

A National Public Radio (NPR) começou seu programa Week in Politics de 12 de setembro com uma análise do discurso do presidente dos EUA Barack Obama sobre o Estado Islâmico (ISIS). Vários jornalistas e comentaristas destrincharam o discurso de Obama — se teria sido forte o bastante, debateram suas intenções, perguntaram quem era o ISIS. Logo a seguir, percebi que o Estados Unidos bombardeiam o Iraque, de alguma maneira, desde que eu tinha 6 anos de idade — eu sou um homem de 30 anos. Essa tradição trágica, agora com já um quarto de século de duração, continua com o atual comandante em chefe, que possui um Prêmio Nobel da Paz.

Por todo esse tempo os Estados Unidos empreendem planos de engenharia nacional e atos de assassinato em massa no território árabe. Em seu discurso, Obama afirmava: “Nosso objetivo é claro: atacaremos e destruiremos o ISIS através de uma estratégia abrangente e sustentada de contraterrorismo”. A próxima grande guerra dos drones chegou — e certamente matará ainda mais inocentes. O governo dos Estados Unidos já é responsável pelas mortes de centenas de milhares na região, com ainda mais pessoas desabrigadas e propriedades destruídas. Os novos ataques não se limitam ao Iraque. Bombas também serão jogadas na Síria, apesar dos protestos nacionais contra os ataques ao regime de Bashar al-Assad. Eles conseguiram a guerra que tanto queriam.

O ISIS é um regime aterrorizante. O grupo subjuga e estupra mulheres, mata crianças e decapita prisioneiros. Mas mais intervencionismo não é a solução. Essa nova campanha militar exacerbará seu poder, não o restringirá.

Um vídeo terrível do Huffington Post mostra um bebê sírio preso em um prédio bombardeado. A câmera foca em um grupo de trabalhadores de resgate cavando freneticamente os escombros para resgatar a criança,. Seu grito é distinguível do barulho da multidão. Ao final, o resgate consegue salvar a criança. O som de alegria das pessoas é também de alívio.

Os ataques de drones ordenados por Barack Obama recriarão essa situação todos os dias, repetidamente.

Ataques com drones são atos de terror. A campanha contra o terrorismo, em si, é uma campanha de terror sem fim. Os Estados Unidos são um país perpetuamente em estado de guerra — o maior agente de repressão do mundo. Com cada bomba, o mundo se torna menos seguro. Com cada bomba, os Estados Unidos e todos aqueles que vivem dentro de suas fronteiras, se tornam mais sozinhos e isolados no mundo.

Ataques militares atingem os objetivos de curto prazo dos defensores das guerras, mas a liberdade é uma estratégia de longo prazo. Onde há mercados há paz e onde há paz há liberdade. Quanto mais liberdade houver no mundo, por definição, haverá menos regimes opressivos. Eu não desejo a existência do ISIS, mas a morte de dezenas de milhares não é a resposta — é a própria mentalidade imperialista que criou esse regime violento. O estado-nação, com essas ações violentas, é um regime opressivo — merece também desaparecer em prol da liberdade.

Traduzido por Erick Vasconcelos.

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