I Am A Liberal

F.A. von Hayek

F.A. von Hayek

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I’m about 2/3 of the way through “The Road To Serfdom” by F.A. von Hayak edited by Bruce Caldwell.

Amazon Listing

To say it is “A Good Book” would be to call The Mona Lisa a “Good Painting”.

I’m on page 156 (out of 238 not counting bibliography and appendices). That includes 63 pages of various “Introductions”. They included what looks like every introduction from every prior edition. This is “good thing” (similar to a “good painting”…)

Bruce Caldwell has, single handedly, made me appreciate an Editor. He assiduously cross checks all the footnotes, and adds copious explanatory notes of his own. This means that all those vague name-drops of folks long dead that were so current in 1940 actually mean something to me now. Further, it means I’ve got a “good” reading list / bibliography for each topic and quote raised. Further, the various Introductions explain context and expand on some issues. They are worth a great deal.

I’d suspected they were perhaps even better than the book would be, until I actually started on the chapters of the book. Then I realized that the person who chose the Editor had also done a good job and had known what he was about when he set the task.

Every so often, on very rare occasions, you run into a person who Keeps A Tidy Mind. If you are very lucky, they are interested in a field that interests you. If you are very very lucky, they will have ‘thought things through’ on a problem presently before you. I’ve got the wonderful joy of that experience right now. F.A. von Hayek has thought most fully, carefully, and compactly about the issues surrounding Socialism (and its first cousins Fascism and Naziism) and with great skill and precision, lays out the issues. With consequences and implications.

I started to make notes, by chapter, then realized I was writing as much as was written. There was little I could do to ‘compress’ and focus beyond what was already on the page. Better just to read it twice…

But along the way the number of things I’ve got to say about the topic has multiplied, and multiplied again. Yet I’m not done reading… So I’m going to share just one for now.

I am a liberal.

A Question Of Words

One of the topics covered in the forward is the distinction between a Classical Liberal and the Progressive recast in sheep’s clothing as a Social Liberal and how, especially in the USA, these two are substantially exact opposites. In the USA, “Liberal” has been “found out” as being essentially “code words” for ‘Closet Socialist’, so much so that some “Liberals” have begun calling themselves “Progressives” again. They had originally run from Progressive after it got a bit of a bad name. But like most rebrandings of a poor product, it only works so long, and they are back to the need to ‘rebrand’. But I digress…

So, a Classical Liberal was all for Liberty. Free markets, individual rights. All that good stuff. As I understand it, that definition still holds in places like the UK and Australia. (Probably everywhere outside the USA?). Inside the USA, Social Liberal has become shortened to “Liberal” with all that this implies for the confounding of understanding when reading any economic history from prior to about 1950. Such as this book. What to do, what to do… In a very real sense, a Classical Liberal is more like a modern American Libertarian or Tea Party Member. By this definition, I am a liberal. Just a Classical Liberal.

I decided I needed a new set of tokens (even if only used ‘inside my head’) to keep things neat. In keeping a tidy mind, I’ve often needed to do this so that I can keep things filed correctly even in the face of external errors. So I made a couple of fairly distinctive words. Could I just keep mentally inserting the above bolded words? I suppose so, but two words don’t file the same inside my head. One is a modifier on the other, and when the base is changed ‘exactly opposite’ by that process, it’s a bit disconcerting. So I’ve settled on a couple of compound words instead. I hope you like them.

A Tale Of Two Words

So, I’m going to shorten the “Classical” but only a little. “Classi”. Then the compound is Classi-Liberal. I like the sound of that. I’m a Classy Liberal ;-)

For the American Social Liberal, I need to compress it a bit more. A, for American. Then So from “Social”. That makes the result. ASo-Liberal. I think I can remember that 8-)

To those who are in fact American Social Liberals and endorse that belief system, please do not take this too seriously. Yes, I don’t like what the “Progressive – AsoLiberals – NeoSocialists” are advocating as we slide down the road to socialism. But I’m not really keen on the prior Republican tendency to wars of convenience, Corporate Welfare / Socialism, and bedroom monitoring nor do I think the State has any right at all to take my blood or breath against my will, grab my crotch to get on an airplane, AND I think that abortion is between a woman and her doctor – with her God should she wish it. So it’s not like I’m exactly a rabid Radical Rightwinger… I’m just opposed to where we will end up, in a Fascist Police State, when those two ‘wing’ tendencies finish merging on this Road To Serfdom; and would like to stop it. If a bit of humor helps, well, so much better.

To those who are in fact Radical Right Wing and endorse that belief system, please do not take my new found status as a Liberal too seriously. If you look into it, you will likely find that you, too, could be a classi-liberal if you advocate a bit of freedom of choice for those around you and a bit of flexibility about where your right to tell others what to do / think / believe might end. Oh, and if you endorse market freedoms… But I’m not really keen on the present Democratic tendency to nationalizing key industries, Corporate Welfare / Socialism, central planning, mandates, Czars/ Tsars / Zars, grab my crotch to get on an airplane, and apparatchiks using Commissions and Commissars to tell me what to do. I’m just opposed to where we will end up, in a Fascist Police State, when those two ‘wing’ tendencies finish merging on this Road To Serfdom; and would like to stop it. If a bit of humor helps, well, so much the better.

Basically, I’m for YOUR individual liberties. And that makes me one Classi Liberal.

(Oh, and “Markets Rule, Central Planning drools!” ;-)

(For those not in the USA, the last line is ‘pun’ of sorts on a common chant / taunt of kids here. I think it started life as a cartoon “Cats Rule, Dogs Drool” and has expanded to be used in contexts such as sporting events. “{My Team} rules!.. {Your Team} Drools!” and the use here is intended to carry forward the humor / play aspect. Hopefully explaining it doesn’t kill it…)

Hey, you read a hundred pages+ of very tightly reasoned and fully supported economic and political theory the implication of which is that we’re headed to a Fourth Reich or Fascism Redux or Stalin-Lite and see if you don’t end up needing a bit of levity…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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38 Responses to I Am A Liberal

  1. H.R. says:

    I vote. That’s what we do in the USA to avoid taking up arms over the political races for Dogcatcher & other high political offices.

    We’ve had Dimlicans and Republicrats (very little difference between the parties) in office for years and people in the USA are beginning to wake up to that.

    That last election saw a number of ‘classi-liberals’ elected. There may be more elected in the next round. I think maybe so.

  2. Paul Hanlon says:

    I’d be a believer in the Austrian School of Economics and anytime I’ve read up on it, Hayek’s name is invariably invoked somewhere in the narrative. Adam Smith and Ayn Rand would be others.

    Thanks to your review, that’s definitely the next book I’m going to get. I look forward to any further insights from yourself. I too would consider myself a Liberal in the classy sense :-)

  3. POUNCER says:

    “The Classics -ILLUSTRATED” version

    http://mises.org/books/TRTS/

  4. PhilJourdan says:

    H.R. – “That last election saw a number of ‘classi-liberals’ elected. ”

    I loved that line. I agree! The members elected were elected for one reason – to reign in government. Their other views were ancillary to that key, yet the MSM tried to make them all out to be rabid right wing armegeddon Christians. Some are, there is no doubt of that. But the Tea Party Movement is not about Uncle Sam snooping in your bedroom, or determining the age of the earth from a book. So others clearly are not. Yet because they do pose a threat to the status quo, they have to be vilified by the illiterate literati.

    Great Article E. M. I do have one question or observation. It is the use of the term Nazism. I think that is a proper noun, whereas, socialism and facism are regular nouns. In other words, nazism is just the merging of facism and socialism in one instance in history. So when you say “first cousins of Facism and Nazism”, you are being a bit redundant. I agree that facism is a cousin of Socialism, but after stating that, it seems superfluous to then include Nazism again.

    And as far as the term “liberal”, I agree with the observation of its corruption in the Colonies. Indeed, in Oz and the UK, Liberals are the conservatives (or more conservative party) . However, the co-opting of the word by the progressives have left a very negative taint to the word, so I will avoid calling myself anything liberal and just continue to call myself a conservative.

  5. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    Road to Serfdom is available on Kindle for $8.24.

    Re drools: Jamaicans i know use term “chimping” for not having act together ie. dragging knuckles.

    I’m still uninformed on how fascists can be socialists without massive wealth redistribution. Everyone going to lunch at someone else’s house doesn’t count. Redistributing another country’s wealth isn’t socialism.

    I liked “recovering Libertarian”

  6. H.R says:

    on 19 January 2011 at 2:47 am H.R.

    “I vote. That’s what we do in the USA to avoid taking up arms over the political races for Dogcatcher & other high political offices.”

    I got to thinking it over and I think Chicago might be an exception to the “taking up arms” part. Plenty of dead voters there. That’s one way to convert voters to your party, eh? ;o)

    @PhilJourdan
    Yeah, just saying that lots of Republicans won seats didn’t strike me as being correct when I first posted above. A lot of those classi-liberals defeated incumbent Republicans in the primaries. Many voters were going for “back to founding principles” candidates. E.M.’s post just gave us a term that gives a little cleaner description of what happened in the last election.

  7. P.G. Sharrow says:

    ASSo – Liberal vis Classi – Liberial. E.M., I think you are haveing too much fun. :-) pg

  8. A human right is lacking: The right to not to be “liberated” :-)

  9. Gösta Oscarsson says:

    Dear Mr Smith,

    If you love Hayek I think you should exend your reading to include Schumpeter’s “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”. I learnt quite a lot of Marxism reading that some 50 years ago. Basically this Austrian economist ended up beeing quite pessimistic about the future of Capitalism (and by implication of Democracy).

    To wett your appetite the following story about the great man. He once said (approximately) the following: “As a young man I decided to become Austria’s greatest economist, Wienna’s greatest lover and a prominent horse man. I never really succeeded with the horses.”

    Gösta Oscarsson
    Stockholm
    A Swedish liberal (those do exist)

  10. dearieme says:

    His “The Constitution of Liberty” is also superb.

  11. Steve Inhof says:

    Love this post. Now I know what I am!!!

  12. John F. Hultquist says:

    Well, first I admit to knowing what F. A. von Hayak looked like, and was only somewhat thrown off by bringing up your blog and seeing an image under the title “I am . . . ” Still, the boggling was enough to require a mental restart.

    While your reasoning seems sound, I don’t imagine your compound words will catch on.

    It is interesting that you post this on the day that Joe Lieberman announced he would not run again. He’s sort of a classy guy.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, first off, I’ve finished the book, and the added materials in it. Now for a day or two for the subconcious to knit it all together…

    @Philjourdan:

    The term “fascism” is a regular noun, the generic type of a nationalistic socialism. The term “Fascisim” is the specific as applied in Italy, so is a proper noun. (I was a bit sloppy in the posting in capitalising fascism in “Fascist Police State” as that implies W.W.II Italy and it ought to have been fascist Police State instead). The Nazi party is a proper noun, so the abreviation of Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party, NSDAP) to “NAZI” ought, IMHO, to be a proper noun as well. It is a faction of fascism that included both the socialism aspect (as in ‘workers parties’ and central control) and the nationalism aspect (as in National… as distinct from the international / global bent of other socialist parties in Germany at the time) but also includes a decided militaristic and racist / ethnocentrism that was less present in Fascism. (Jews were not persecuted in Italy until the invasion by German, then they were treated in accord with Nazi ‘guidance’…). So Naziism is distinct from Fascism, but is a subset of fascism… and all three are subtypes of socialism, that is itself a subtype of ‘collectivism’… and communism is a subtype of socialism as well which comes in it’s own set of flavors of Marxism, Lenninism, Stalinism, Maoism, …

    No, I don’t know exactly where Obamaism fits in the scheme… Yet. At present, it’s clearly a type of socialism (of the Lange Type subcategory) but lacks the nationalism needed for the fascist lable and with only minor ‘get whitey’ racist elements that don’t measure up to a racist subtype, yet. It’s also short on militarism (but it’s early in the seat of power, so give it time to ripen…) I’d put it as the Wiemar Republic stage probably of an older SDP type:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Democratic_Party_of_Germany

    but that is probably stretching the analogy too far…

    OK, so what that means is that Naziism is a specific instantiation in Germany at a point in time of a:

    collectivist:socialist:fascist:nationalist:militarist:racist type

    And Italian Facism (proper noun) is a specific instantiation in Italy at at point in time of a:

    collectivist:socialist:fascist:nationalist type

    You could make the case that Fascism was somewhat milatarist in that it harkened back to Rome and Roman miliatary myth… but then you would need to explain their, er, ‘tepid’ performance in battle… I get the impression it was more a ‘show militarism’ than a real one of the Prussian sort. The Nazis seemed to think so too… thus the invasion and “help” given…

    The above lists of traits intended to be a quasi hierarchy of subtypes. At least until you hit nationalist…

    @J Ferguson:

    There were already a load of socialist systems for wealth sharing in place. The Nazis just had to let them be. One of prominance was the Labor Unions. They merged them all into one sort of ‘super union’. So didn’t need to take the capital away from the capitalists to move the profit into the payroll column. I’ll put more on that in other postings… lets just say there are many and sundry ways to be a socialist and ‘share the wealth’ without taking the stocks and bonds away. Just ask the stock and bond holders of GM… or ask “where is the money to come from for Obamacare?”

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    Yes, I am ;-)

    Now you know what I do for fun… read Classical Economics…

    @All:

    Glad I could help ;-)

    @Adolfo:

    I don’t mind being Classi-liberated …

  14. j ferguson says:

    You seldom see mention of the bath awarded to the final GM stockholders, or any acknowledgement of the cleansing some of the rest of us got on its downward spiral. the folks who write the news seem to have no idea that the GM rebirth was funded by the people they owed the money too as much as by the loans from our government. I yell at the tv in rage every time some idiot says that they are well on their way to paying back the loans. Phooey.

  15. Amerikiwee says:

    I read this book for the first time last year. A first class book that I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in achieving a truly free society.

  16. Laurence M. Sheehan, PE says:

    I agree most completely. In addition to the crafty changing of the meaning of terms, our nation has been suffering greatly from yellow journalism.

    “A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again.”

    Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism. Part ii. Line 15.

    The book I am reading is “Quantum Reality”, beyond the new physics, by Nick Herbert. “An excursion into metaphysics . . . and the meaning of reality.”

    Deep reading, but most inteesting.

  17. BlueIce2HotSea says:

    In Russia, the old hard-line Communists still long for the good old days and so now they’ve become arch-conservative ultra-nationalists. And those living under a constitutional monarchy and sentimental to royal authoritarians are called Conservatives, but in the US, neo-royalist Obamaists eschew a genetic aristocracy for a ‘meritocracy’ and get to call themselves liberals. Gadzooks.

    The classical name for American pro-liberty philosophy is libertarian (circa 1789). But the libertarian label has been co-opted by a political party as was the republican label (twice).

    Better copyright classi-liberal or its original meaning will vanish.

  18. oMan says:

    E.M.: Good on you for reading, and praising, Hayek. As you say, he is right up there with Adam Smith and Ayn Rand. Rand is a bit thin on political theory but she totally gets (and describes) the psychological dead-end condition that socialism produces. Hayek is just…elegant. His intuition about how a central committee simply cannot acquire and process enough information to make good decisions (let alone communicate and enforce them) –brilliant, wise and true.

    As for your nomenclature, hey, it’s fun. Give it a try.

  19. oldtimer says:

    After reading Hayek you may wish to explore Isaiah Berlin, The Crooked Timber of Humanity, Chapters in the History of Ideas ed Henry Hardy. pub:John Murray
    ISBN0-7195-4789-X

  20. David says:

    on 19 January 2011 at 7:03 pm E.M.Smith
    “No, I don’t know exactly where Obamaism fits in the scheme… Yet. At present, it’s clearly a type of socialism (of the Lange Type subcategory) but lacks the nationalism needed for the facist lable and with only minor ‘get whitey’ racist elements that don’t measure up to a racist subtype, yet. It’s also short on militarism (but it’s early in the seat of power, so give it time to ripen…) I’d put it as the Wiemar Republic stage probably of an older SDP type:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Democratic_Party_of_Germany

    but that is probably stretching the analogy too far…”

    I agree that any “get whitey” elements have been very minor, however as you say it is early. However I have great concern with Obama’s long association with those who truly advocate the opposite of acceptance and non-violence with those they call enemies, and do not mean it metaphorically. For instance his 20 year close association with the Rev Wright is of great concern. What are some things his mentor of 20 years said about Jews. “Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me,” Wright said. “I told my baby daughter that he’ll talk to me in five years when he’s a lame duck, or in eight years when he’s out of office. …”You are not now, nor have you ever been, nor will you ever be a brother to white folk,” he said. “And if you do not realize that, you are in serious trouble.”
    Wright referred to Italians as “Mamma Luigi” and “pizzeria.” He said the educational system in America is designed by whites to miseducate blacks “not by benign neglect but by malignant intent.” The civil-rights movement, Wright said, was never about racial equality: “It was always about becoming white . . . to master what [they] do.” Martin Luther King, he said, was misguided for advocating nonviolence among his people, “born in the oven of America.”

    Obama’s “Church” of over twenty years, where he was married and his children were Baptized; awarded Louis Farrakhan a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his work with the ‘Nation of Islam’.

    “The white man is our mortal enemy, and we cannot accept him. I will fight to see that vicious beast go down into the lake of fire prepared for him from the beginning, that he never rise again to give any innocent black man, woman or child the hell that he has delighted in pouring on us for 400 years.”
    Louis Farrakhan
    Nation of Islam

    “It is an act of mercy to white people that we end your world. … We must end your world and bring in a new world.”
    Louis Farrakhan
    Nation of Islam

    “The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man.”
    Louis Farrakhan
    Nation of Islam

    “God will destroy America by the hands of the Muslims….God will not give Japan or Europe the honor of bringing down the United States; this is an honor God will bestow upon Muslims.”
    Louis Farrakhan
    Nation of Islam

    Obama not only attended Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ for well over a decade, but continued to attend even after Louis Farrakhan was awarded the churches highest honor. When well into Obama’s attempt to secure the Presidency, Sen Obama publicly attempted to break connection with Louis Farrakhan and Trinity United Church of Christ. I do not think this solves a twenty year problem. Distancing himself when running for President only calls Obama’s motivations into question. It is perhaps clear that Obama was doing so for purely political reasons. Year after year Obama sat and listened to the messages. He watched his church award Louis Farrakhan, knowing full well what it was he was supporting. And he did nothing to distance himself.
    For the above reasons I do not consider your comments stretching the analogy to far.

  21. David says:

    on 19 January 2011 at 7:03 pm E.M.Smith
    “No, I don’t know exactly where Obamaism fits in the scheme…

    Not related to my previous post, perhaps Obama fits into a different time period. “Barrack Octavius Augustus Hussaine” would be perhaps accurate. I have selected the transition phase of the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire because I consider that exactly just this sort of metamorphose is taking place today. However, the fateful transformation in Roman history was not the work of one princeps, viz., “first citizen”, rather the evolution of the devolution of Roman republicanism passing through more than a century. Octavius successfully centralized republican form into materially centralized authority called the principiate (rule of the “first citizen”) as the early empire is now called.

    This change is one from a union created or generated by autonomous states to a states being formed, reformed and “remade” in accord with centralization norms of the “union”. A political paradigm shift is taking place and a fully “new”, because “remade” American, is coming to be. The analogy of Obama to Octavius works following Octavius Augustas victory in Roman civil war over Anthony.

    After the war Octavius had become the first “imperator” to be literally “commander and chief” of all Roman armies. Octavius had the power to have himself declared “dictator” and to ignore the Senate. Instead, Octavius retained solely his title as Consul of the republic and then returned nominally all powers to the Senate and scrupleously maintained the “republican” form of the shattered republic, indeed, returning it to a recognizable republican form. The Senate began to grant — senatorial democracy– certain formal duties and and material power of regulation to Octavius which he, being the monopolist of police force, had the power to enforce — for, afterall, he as the “mere” general that had all the “police” power! Octavius avoided assigning to himself any political power derived from being a “Caesar” (i.e. he left it initially as a family name used just for its prestige). He was designated as “censor”, i.e. the republican gov. institution that counts the population and, here is the pivotal point of political shift, that sees to the “moral” (mores in the narrow and broad sense) welfare of the population (which in modern terms gave him control over the media and schools, short opinion making). Octavius spent HIS money on the poorer — games, food distribution, various forms of care). Octavius played a populistic card without in anyway challenging the formality of the Republic and its instituional form. He just began occupying or controlling materially its “regulatory” agiencies, one after the other, through “executive orders” (to speak in today’s terms). Soon he was granted the title of the “elevated one”, i.e. “augustus”. This gave him moral and religious prestige and, important for transitional “remaking”, moral authority. Only later did he transform this “regal” term into a semi-divine property of literally regal centralization. In the context of centralization Octavian took on the political title of princeps, i.e. “first ciitizen”.

  22. dearieme says:

    Another interesting writer of firmly liberal beliefs (old sense) was Lord Acton. He didn’t write a lot but what he did write was top class. I particularly admire part of a letter he wrote, where he comes up with three wonderful apothegms in one burst.
    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The best known; it is a cracker, isn’t it?

    “Great men are almost always bad men”: a very wise caution to the politically enthusiastic.

    “There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” He might almost have been thinking of Clinton, Bush the Younger and Obama. Or, if you prefer, Tony Blair, Francois Mitterand and Helmut Kohl.

  23. Gösta Oscarsson says:

    Why, oh why am I under moderation?

    Gösta Oscarsson

    [Because it's was your first posting / comment ever and I'm not awake at 6 AM to put you on the 'straight through' list ... where you are now, BTW. As I've said before: "There is only one of me and sometimes I sleep, take a shower, work in the garden"... I was awake until 5 AM the night before, but then fell asleep on the couch book in hand. -E.M.Smith ]

  24. pyromancer76 says:

    E.M., looking forward to the work of your subconscious.

    Dearieme, “Great men are almost always bad men.” So are we all. This what our Founders knew. Transparency, accountability, skepticism (the scientific method), and competition among, or balance of, powers are our only hope for representative democracy and a free market in our future. Individuals, “great men” or “great women”, corporations, labor unions, global unelected officials (e.g., UN or EU), NGOs, it doesn’t matter who has influence over government (which every society needs), they will work to keep themselves in power and to “eliminate”opposition to the extent possible. IMHO, except for a very, very few (with dogged consciences, i.e., George Washington), we are all susceptible to thinking we, our positions, are the right ones. That is, we think religiously for our own purposes (and profit).

    In this regard, a careful history, which E.M. is undertaking, is essential and it is essential to teach it to our children. Labels — liberal, classical liberal, conservative, libertarian — are slippery things as we want the terms to serve our “purposes”.

    J. Ferguson 1/19 7:18 p.m. I am right there with you. However, giving GM bond holders a cold shower was absolutely intentional on the part of the Obama Administrationand its socialistic press – spread the wealth around. Those of us who have worked hard all our lives and saved are “targeted” or in the “crosshairs” of envious people like “no-resume” (and no parents dedicated to him) Obama.

  25. Sean Peake says:

    Daniel Hannan’s”The New Road to Surfdom” is a worthwhile read, as well.

  26. j ferguson says:

    @ pyromancer76

    Thinking that the GM pensioners might have had interests not dissimilar to the bondholders, did they suffer proportionally? Why are not the bonds I’m depending on for my retirement just as sacred as the door-hangers’ (well deserved) pensions?

    Because I don’t block-vote? No Union? Must be something.

    I’m very uncomfortable with outbreaks of class warfare we see from time to time, but the example we’re discussing here certainly looks like it. And “they” won that battle.

    An interesting sidelight to the sacredness of corporate pensions is the possible vulnerability of government pensions to state or municipal bankruptcy.

    SWMBO and I live on a trawler and migrate between Maine and Florida Keys each year. In the last several years, new and expensive ($750k +/-) trawlers have joined us. They are disproportionately owned by folks on government pensions of one sort or another.

    They also seem younger than the rest of us. But then that’s getting easier every year.

    The question is what will they do if Newark or New Haven, or the University of Rhode Island pension plans bankrupt and they are thrown into the federal pool where the amounts they receive will be adjusted more in line with other pensions, none of this $110k/year stuff. Some have been saving against this possibility, but not most, at least from what we’ve been able to discover.

    I might add, that in every case of big new boat and big government pension lurks collective bargaining.

  27. “It’s the Sun….” The cycles that govern upon us and upon governments….
    A 2000-year historical perspective.
    …The half century from 235 to 284 AD was a period of unparalleled crisis, during which the Roman Enmpire nearly came to an end… This is a period for which comparatively little documentation exists, but that in itself may be symptomatic… Barbarian incursions were frequent and ruinous between 248 and 268…

    http://personal.inet.fi/tiede/tilmari/sunspot5.html#historic

  28. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Starving armies of barbarians a gone wiking! After good times farming the fertile northern lands. Over grown populations and poor crops send them into warmer / wealthier areas. Good proxy for cold following warm conditions. Too many fat lazy years for the southern bureaucrats used to a large wealth creation to drop taxes and cut spending before they exhaust the wealth needed to provide for the needed defence. After all real armies haven’t been needed for 60 years! pg

  29. E.M.Smith says:

    @David:

    Farrakahn is an interesting study. He has studied Naziism and learned it’s methods. But has managed to take the “National” part and make it a “Nation of Islam” and done a “blackwash” on the racism. Still preserving the anti-semitism and the anti-capitalism and the anti-classi-libertarian aspects.

    Even manages to work in a bit of milataristic stuff too.

    He would be “scary as hell” if he had any power at all.

    The connection to the Church Of The Obama’s is one I did not know…

    In defense of Mr. Obama (simply because someone has to take that side…) I ought to point out that he may simply be a completely unprincipled opportunist who attended that church when he needed that “street cred” to get elected locally and, through no fault of his own, ended up not just ‘getting seen nationally’ in preparation for a run after Madam Hillary was through with her (expected) win of the primaries, but ended up winning the whole damn thing (that undoubtedly surprised him as much as it did Jessie Jackson…) and had not yet had time to ‘rearange his past’ appropriately for the ‘national run’…

    Lord knows I sat in more Southern Baptist and Catholic services than I care to think about as ‘it was expected’… and with only modest impact on me in most day to day things. Frankly, it would not surprise me in the slightest to discover that Mr. O was a raving atheist who sat there thinking about what to BBQ for lunch each day but did it just to have “Christian” check box ticked next to his name…

    I know, a weak defense, but that’s all I can muster…

    Back on Mr. F: I find it fascinating that the same “form” can fit both white and black racism and both Christian and Muslim religious bigotries and and fit both physical nations and hypothetical ones. It must connect with something fundamental in folks brains that I just don’t have…

    FWIW the book “Liberal Facism” does hold up N.O.Islam as an example of a modern facist movement, but of a politically leftist type.

    Your view on Imperial Rome is also an interesting one. FWIW, in “Is God A Mathematician” (that I reviewed months ago) there is the story of a very gifted physicist in study for his US Citizenship who studied the whole US Constitution and, in a bit of fervor, pointed out that he had figured out how to turn the country into a totalitarian dictatorship (of the Nazi kind he had fled) and do it legally. I think I know how too, but I’m not going to share ;-) as it probably ought not to be advertized… unless I see someone doing it…

    So you may be right. But that, frankly, is part of why I’m bothering to read the recent books and make these postings. To better share a system of seeing how it all fits together so folks can more clearly decide what they want and not be fooled into it or taking it by drifting along…

    And “history does not repeat, but it rhymes” so we may yet find a different, and not a ‘third” path…

    @Sean:

    I actually read it first, on the flight back from Florida, and was going to review it, but got pulled into ‘other things’. It’s still on the ‘posting someday’ list.

    @Diarieme:

    Stellar…

    I’d not seen the other two, nor the context. Acton on the reading list… “Action on Acton?” ;-)

    @Adolfo:

    And the really scary thing as that IFF there is truth in the planetary cycles effects, we’re about 20 years and a couple of major volcanoes away from a “Dark Ages Redux”

    Thus my near hawkish tendency to keep an eye on Katla, Indonesia, Mammoth “Lakes” caldera, Yellowstone, …

    It will happen and when it does happen the end is likely to be very much an authoritarian Dark Ages Redux. The only real question has been “in what millenium”? With increased understanding, that’s been slowly narrowed into “Is Bond Event Zero going to be it? And is that ‘soon’?”… Yes, the stuff of nightmares. So I don’t think about it… much…

    @Pyromancer76 and J. Ferguson:

    That’s exactly the kind of ‘issue’ raised by “the Demographic Bomb”. At present we are ‘rationing’ by “who got out the door first” and trying to patch the Ponzi scheme by raiding whatever money pots exist and herding more marks citizens and “undocumented future citizens” into the maw of the beast.

    As there are not enough of them, this too will fail.

    The only ‘good thing’ is that the failure point is likely about a decade away. Plenty of time for the newly retired to sail that yacht off to bluer skys…

    FWIW, watch California. We’ve already got a couple of bankrupt cities and the State is on the brink. Not much economic growth moving in and no reason to think the new Governor Moonbeam is expected to do anything other than find a bigger rug and sweep faster.

    We’ve also got China starting to ask questions like “Are we really going to get our money back?” and the USA giving lots of ass kisses in return. Since they are presently about 1/2 the “Credit Card” we are “one smart Chinese cookie” away from national bankruptcy (and States too as I suspect they have some Chinese backer as well…)

    This next budget cycle will be critical. Either they stop the crazy spending, or the “Bond Vigilanties” start with the Long Knives…

    Sometimes it can be very painful to be ‘aware’ of things with a multi decade cycle as you get to watch the train wreck happen over oh so many years….

  30. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    A train wreck in slow motion may be hard to see if you’re riding the train. It’s all relativity don’t you know?

  31. E.M.Smith says:

    Gösta Oscarsson

    Dear Mr Smith,

    If you love Hayek I think you should exend your reading to include Schumpeter’s “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”.

    I *think* I had one or two short readings assigned from it back when in school, but never the whole thing. Yes, he’s on my ‘someday list’ now.

    I learnt quite a lot of Marxism reading that some 50 years ago. Basically this Austrian economist ended up beeing quite pessimistic about the future of Capitalism (and by implication of Democracy).

    To wett your appetite the following story about the great man. He once said (approximately) the following: “As a young man I decided to become Austria’s greatest economist, Wienna’s greatest lover and a prominent horse man. I never really succeeded with the horses.”

    I like that style… Unfortunately, I’m a natural at riding horses… ;-)


    Gösta Oscarsson
    Stockholm
    A Swedish liberal (those do exist)

    One presumes in the classi-liberal sense… FWIW my first college roomy was a mixed German / Swedish American. His dad was the only one (of several) kids in his family born in America, the rest were from Sweden. He (the Dad) was about 5′ 6″ tall and a Marine in W.W.II. “Arne”. He owned his own gas station / car repair shop. Every so often someone would try to ‘do something stupid’ and mess with Arne. While Arne was the nicest man you would ever meet… nobody messed with Arne. You don’t survive as the smallest Marine in the unit, island hoping over all of the Pacific Ocean doing invasions and ‘hand to hand’ combat if you don’t have some ‘spunk’….

    His politics were somewhat hard to place. Very classi-liberal, but with a ‘we can pitch in and take care of folks in need’ too. Somehow I suspect that is a frequent aspect of scandinavian culture. Classi-liberal with a sense of ‘we are all family and help each other.’

  32. David says:

    E.M. Smith; “And “history does not repeat, but it rhymes” so we may yet find a different, and not a ‘third” path…

    I like it, a bit like the weather if you will, lots of forcings, all on different cycles of different lengths, of various strgenths.

    In the end I am (despite the next ten to fifteen years) an opptomist. Where would mankind be today if the mentality of the dark ages ruled? We would all be quite dead I think. Due to technology and sheer numbers the world is far smaller then ever and as such these movements towards international government are inevitable. How to incorporate the US ideals of individual liberty into any such system is the question that must be answered.

  33. BT Harley says:

    Excellent article Mr. Smith. In addition to the Oz view of ‘liberal’ being the conservative side of politics here as the Liberal Party, our National Party is the rural version of liberal conservative, usually operating as a coalition when in government, and separately when in Opposition. It was formerly the Country Party.
    In the state of Queensland, the two conservative parties are now one party, I think called the National Liberal Party and in the Northern Territory the 2 parties became the Country Liberal Party. The other 5 states are still coalitions of the two when in power, but often separate when not. Confusing to anyone outside Oz, probably. I am a National supporter mostly, I would say, similar to you as a Liberal (libertarian?).

  34. j ferguson says:

    David:”Due to technology and sheer numbers the world is far smaller then ever and as such these movements towards international government are inevitable. How to incorporate the US ideals of individual liberty into any such system is the question that must be answered.”

    Surely, this is where we’re going. It had never occurred to me.

    It will be interesting to see which of our ideals survive. Could the ultimately successful post-national accord also be post-political? Not likely, but maybe it will be principally economic.

    If it can be done without creating an unmoderated bureaucratic tyranny such as the EU appears to suffer, and we in the US as well, it might even be an improvement.

    Inevitable? Yes.

    PS. E.M. Conjecturing about how what David has mentioned could happen in a way with which we, with our views on rights and duties, would be happy. It does not seem obvious but maybe it’s not impossible.

  35. j ferguson says:

    E.M.
    the conjecturing suggested above might be worth a thread. I’m amazed at how I can get lost between the beginning and the end of a sentence. Must be onset of dementia.

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