Saturday, September 2, 2017

Socialism and Militarism Go Hand in Hand

A (hopefully) young Facebook poster just made the claim that America (a) has a free market economy and (b) the free market economy has made America militaristic. Both claims are false. American militarism in the laissez-faire period was limited to westward expansion—manifest destiny—and some creation of overseas outposts to protect trade. Hence, Adams recreated the Navy and Marines to fight the French (and Jefferson used them to stop the Barbary Pirates, who impeded American shipping), and Jefferson established an embargo to curtail British attacks on US ships, and specifically British impressment of US sailors. The Mexican War was also fought for westward expansion. It wasn’t until the age of Progressivism, which arguably began in 1890, that the US became overtly imperialistic. McKinley’s invasion of the Philippines and the Spanish-American War coincided with the beginnings of the Progressive era (as did government-mandated racial or Jim Crow laws).
In the Progressive era America adopted a combination of capitalism and socialism sometimes called "the third way"--neither laissez faire capitalism nor socialism. It was invented in 19th century Germany by the German historical school of economics (led by Knies, Wagner, Schmoller, and Sombart) and then advocated here by academics and wealthy Americans who had studied in Germany, notably Richard T. Ely. It subsequently was popularized by Herbert Croly in his book The Promise of American Life. Progressivism advocated (1) strengthening of the state, (2) government intervention in society, and (3) imperialism.
In its practical applications under Roosevelt and Wilson, it included strengthening of government police powers and the creation of the FBI (in 1908, under Roosevelt). During the Progressive era the failed overt Imperialism of McKinley was carried forward as the (Theodore) Roosevelt corollary to the Monroe doctrine and evolved into dollar diplomacy and soft imperialism. Woodrow Wilson started more wars than any other president, mostly in Latin America.
Progressivism involved a socialistic economic policy that imposed government intervention, which I loosely call socialism, on laissez faire. This was coupled with enhanced federal police power, the Red Scare and deportation of dissidents (under Wilson), and the creation of the FBI (under Theodore Roosevelt) and later the CIA (under Franklin Roosevelt and Truman).
These are not contested pieces of information except by people who don't learn history. What is contested is whether the socialistic interventions associated with police power and militarism were in the interest of capitalistic enterprise or were in the interest of the public. New Left and libertarian historians such as Gabriel Kolko, Allan Appleman Williams, and Murray Rothbard have shown that the socialistic interventions favored big business owners, notably Rockefeller, Morgan, Kuhn Loeb, and other Wall Street interests.
The historian Martin J. Sklar, in his book The Corporate Reconstruction of American Capitalism, 1890-1916, argues that Roosevelt was socialistic, specifically in his (failed) intentions for the Federal Trade Commission and that his conflict with William Howard Taft was over how to enforce the Sherman Anti-trust Act. Taft favored a less interventionist litigation approach to anti-trust enforcement while Roosevelt, advocate of carrying a big stick, favored direct socialization.
Thus, from the days of Theodore Roosevelt, American socialism has been associated with militarism. Ronald Radosh and Murray Rothbard detail the link between socialization of the economy and war in  their book A New History of Leviathan.
The (hopefully) young Facebook poster’s claim that militarism is due to laissez faire capitalism thus lacks both historical and logical foundation. Historically, the growth of state police and military power was advocated by and occurred under the Progressives, opponents of laissez faire. As well, laissez faire capitalism favors limitations on state power, including police and military power. The natural rights doctrine was the foundation of the laissez faire political system, and no socialist country has ever recognized rights to freedom from the state to the degree that laissez faire capitalist countries have. Because laissez faire capitalism advocates limitations on the state, it is illogical to claim that the expansion of the state that militarism and police power require is related to laissez faire capitlism. Only socialists can favor expansive police powers precisely because police powers are associated with state power. Historically, the most extreme applications of state and military power have been in socialist states: National Socialist Germany, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Cuba, and so on.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wes Benedict Responds Concerning Racism in the Libertarian Party

I was pleased to receive an email from Wes Benedict, executive director of the Libertarian Party, indicating that the LP has become concerned about infiltration by racists and has issued a formal statement.  I have copied his email, which includes a link to the statement, and part of the statement:

From: Wes Benedict
Sent: Monday, August 21, 2017 7:08 PM
To: Mitchell Langbert
Subject: Re: Anti-Semitism, Racism, and the LP

Hi Mr. Langbert,
Did you see the piece I put out last week?
I think that makes it clear we're aware of some racists and anti-Semitism in and close to the Libertarian Party and we are driving them out.
Thanks for your support.
Wes Benedict, Executive Director

The statement starts as follows:

The Libertarian Party condemns bigotry as irrational and repugnant, and offers its condolences to the family of the woman killed in Charlottesville, Va.
There is no room for racists and bigots in the Libertarian Party. If there are white nationalists who — inappropriately — are members of the Libertarian Party, I ask them to submit their resignations today. We don’t want them to associate with the Libertarian Party, and we don’t want their money. I’m not expecting many resignations, because our membership already knows this well.
The Libertarian Party Platform states, “We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference, or sexual orientation.”

The Libertarian Party is tolerant and accepting, supporting civil liberties, gay marriage, and freedom of religion for all, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, and atheists. The Libertarian Party supports open borders, civil liberties, racial diversity, and free trade — things that white nationalists abhor.
I think many people in America are worried about jobs and security, and feel compelled to do something about it. Years of inflammatory messaging from Republican and Democratic leadership have poisoned the well of civil discourse, and unfortunately, much of what the extremists on both the left and right are asking for will make matters worse.

Republican leaders have demonized immigrants and free trade, and have scared people into thinking that free trade and immigration will cost current citizens their jobs and their standard of living. Yet countries with free trade and immigration have the highest standards of living in the world, and those without freedom of movement and exchange have the lowest. If politicians are truly interested in improving American prosperity, they need to brush up on their understanding of “gains from trade” and “comparative advantage,” then stop goading their supporters into supporting counterproductive policies. Protectionist policies are irrational and cowardly, and will make America weaker.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The LP Must Come Clean

 PO Box 130
West Shokan, NY 12494
August 19, 2017

Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian Party
1444 Duke Street
Alexandria Virginia 22314-3403

Sent via US Mail and Email

Dear Mr. Benedict:

I joined the Libertarian Party in 1977, and I was active in the New York chapter, at that time called the Free Libertarian Party, for several years.  I stopped being active, but I have contributed to the LP and the campaigns of Gary Johnson.  Part of the reason I stopped being active in the 1980s was an apparent anti-Israel tendency in the LP.  As well, I have repeatedly detected anti-Semitism not only in association with the LP but also, and more emphatically, with the Ron Paul movement.  Because of recent events in Charlottesville, this issue has come to a head.  

If I am to be supportive of the LP in the future, I need to have a clear accounting of the degree to which racists and anti-Semites have infiltrated  it.  I also need to have a clear picture of what you and the LP are doing to rid it of the infiltration.  If you wish to reply that it doesn’t exist or that you will do nothing, my support for the LP will end, and I hereby request that you remove me from your mailing list. What I need to know for my support to continue is what the LP is doing to establish a litmus test that excludes anti-Semites and racists.  If the answer is nothing, then please remove me from your mailing list.

Sincerely,


Mitchell Langbert

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What the Democrats Have Become

The Democratic Party reduces human nature to demographic categories: race, gender, creed, and class. To the Democratic Party, these categories define and delimit human experience. The Democrats eliminate ambition, persistence, achievement, genius, moral choice, hard work, and vision. In so doing, they attack human essence.  The Democrats are redefining totalitarian ideology into one of dehumanization through categorization.   

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Science Is Settled: Socialism Has Failed

What seemed to have been the death of socialism when the Berlin Wall fell nearly 30 years ago has not been so.  Like Lucky Luciano socialism was taken for dead but has managed to survive and flourish.  According to a Gallup poll, about 35% of Americans now have a positive view of socialism. Bernie Sanders's showing in the last Democratic primary, in which he received 13.2 million votes to Clinton's 16.8 million, suggests that a large section of the Democratic Party now favors socialism. That may be even greater support than, or at least comparable support to, the 1940s, when a Fortune poll (see note on p. 341 here) found that 25% of the public favored socialism and another 35% was open minded about it.

The evidence has been in for decades: Socialism is a failure.  It has been tried, and it has failed. The chief response, the claim that"there's never been a real socialism," is vacuous. That is, it can be made with respect to any ism, social arrangement or institution. There's never been a real capitalism; there's never been a real Nazism; there's never been a real anarchism. 

The "there's never been real socialism" argument is antithetical to empirical science, which aims to falsify, prove false, hypotheses through systematic testing.  The best scientific evidence with respect to social arrangements is their real-life outcomes. There have been a number of liberal (I use the word "liberal" to mean "capitalist") societies, and there have been a number of socialist ones. The liberal societies have outperformed the socialist ones on all measures save equality when measured with broad statistical measures like the Gini coefficient. 

With respect to how well off the worst-off individual is, liberalism performs better than socialism. With respect to how well off the average person is, liberalism also performs better than socialism. When compared as to how much innovation or progress occurs, liberalism also performs better than socialism. When one compares the pattern of state violence, mass murder, and freedom of expression, socialist societies have performed worse. 

While socialism seemed like a good idea until, say, 1970, it has proven not to work. Why, then, are so many Americans committed to a superstitious belief in it? The superstition permeates our universities, the Democratic media, and even mainstream religious institutions.  The primitive belief that violence and redistribution are more efficient than voluntarism can explain it. Socialism is a persistent superstition because human beings are genetically tribal, and the impulse toward tribalism is thwarted in the modern world.  However, tribal arrangements impede prograss.  Socialism is the ultimate reactionary form of government.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Republican Congress Is Allowing the Democratic Media to Set Its Agenda

The Republican Congress is allowing the Democratic media to set its agenda.The investigations and accusations are ongoing but going nowhere. They need to stop.  In 2014 Andrew Cuomo dissolved a Moreland Act commission that was investigating his administration.  In New York the Moreland Act establishes a procedure for the governor to appoint investigative commissions. None of the media that is now so agitated about Trump's interference in the Russian investigation called for Cuomo's impeachment.

The 20th century media, the Democratic TV and radio stations, have proven themselves incapable of reporting news coherently, so it is time for the Congress to assert its legitimate authority and to tell the media that they cannot assert an agenda for the nation.   The media was not elected to do this, yet the Republicans seem confused about that.

Congress can use bloggers and social media to communicate with the public. Television, radio, and the Democratic newspapers have increasingly become irrelevant.  The Republicans made fools of themselves in the late 1990s when they impeached Clinton, and now they are making even bigger fools of themselves.  They control both houses and the presidency, but they are allowing media Democrats to dictate their agenda and focus on investigation of a Republican president. It is time that this circus ended.

Monday, June 12, 2017

CNS News Covers My Blog

Stan Greer posted a piece in CNS News that quotes my recent blog about the positive effect of right-to-work laws on disposable income.  Greer shows that the seven states with the highest growth in demand for college-educated workers are all right-to-work states: North Dakota, Wyoming, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Moreover, all of the five-poorest-performing states and 11 of the 12-poorest-performing states are forced unionism states. These include  New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. 



The Media's Trump/Cuomo Double Standard



In 2014 Andrew Cuomo dissolved a Moreland Act commission that was investigating corruption in Cuomo's administration. Neither the New York Times nor MSNBC called for Cuomo's impeachment. In 2017 Donald Trump made a comment to an FBI director investigating his presidency. The reverse was true--the media called for Trump's impeachment. Can we at least agree that there is a double standard here?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Adam Kissel's Appointment Reflects Brilliantly on the Trump Administration

A friend just forwarded an article in Reason.com about  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's appointment of Adam Kissel to deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs.  I worked with Adam on a grant several years ago when he was with the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and he was professional, knowledgeable, and effective. He had previously worked for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where he also had done important work.  Adam combines a restrained brilliance with integrity and a commitment to civil liberties. President Trump's appointments of Deputy Assistant Secretary Kissel, Secretary DeVos, and regulatory czar Neomi Rao augur well for the course the Trump administration will take.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The National Right to Work Committee Covers My Blog

The National Right to Work Committee blogged a piece on its website concerning my blog about the effect of right-to-work laws on disposable income.  The original blog post is at http://mitchell-langbert.blogspot.com/2017/05/right-to-work-laws-increase-wages.html

If Not Now, When? Repeal Agenda 21



PO Box 130
West Shokan, NY 12494
June 6, 2017

President Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Via First Class Mail and Email

Dear President Trump

I support your decision about the Paris Agreement.  In addition, I urge your administration to consider rescinding US support for the Rio Declaration of 1992, which is associated with UN Agenda 21 and the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests.  As well, I urge the United States to withhold funding for all government and UN programs aimed to implement these documents.

The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21 are couched in economically illiterate claims about how economic development occurs and how economic inequality ought to be addressed.   For instance, they commit the United States to reducing consumption and to “promoting appropriate demographic policies.”  They do not recognize that freedom and free markets are the sine qua non for meaningful economic development.
       
The Rio Declaration is anti-scientific.  Principle 15 advocates a precautionary principle whereby if “threats,” as defined by environmental extremists, exist, “lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures.” Such vague, anti-scientific language gives a carte blanche to scientism.   It is opposed to real science, and its anti-science bias was reflected in Al Gore’s ignorant claim that science can be “settled.”

Your administration can rescind American support for the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, and the statement on sustainable forests. It can rescind all budgetary items that support implementation of these totalitarian commitments.

                   

Sincerely,



Mitchell Langbert,Ph.D.

Monday, June 5, 2017

David J. Garrow's Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama

I haven't read David J. Garrow's Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, but a friend forwarded Paul Street's review in Counter Punch.  Street's review is from a left perspective--one which would have been called New Left a few decades ago.  Thus, while Street's (and presumably Garrow's) analysis is accurate, we part ways with respect to Street's criticisms of Garrow as well as Street's conclusions and recommendations.

Street's rendition of Garrow makes some similar points to those I made in this blog in 2008 and 2009. Street puts more weight than I did--how could I have known?--on Obama's lack of substance and his pragmatism.  It was evident from the contribution numbers readily available in 2008 that Obama would be deferential to Wall Street, which he was, according to the review.  

The left has never understood that socialism begets elitism, so a more socialistic economy would beget a slightly different but essentially similar set of figures to Robert Rubin and Lloyd Blankfein.  The elites in communist and softer socialist states don't differ much from the current American elite. Cliches like "neoliberalism," "progressive" and "democratic"  confuse leftists like Street, who remain wedded to the false premise that Hoover's Progressivism was laissez faire.

While it is true that Hoover was more laissez faire than Franklin Roosevelt, the basic statist infrastructure--the Fed, the permanent war machine, the draft,  the income tax,  the process for providing regulatory subsidization to special interests--was already in place under Hoover, and he supported it.  The Republicans elected during the 1920s--Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover--had no interest in repealing the big-government institutions that Theodore Roosevelt (R), Taft (R) and  Wilson (D) had put into place.   While Taft was conservative compared to Roosevelt, he was in the Progressive tradition, favoring use of litigation over regulation of trusts to enforce federal regulation. Roosevelt had favored a more regulated approach, so he ran against Taft in 1912, enabling election of Wilson, who signed both the income tax and the Federal Reserve Act into law.

The American imperial state has been evolving since Lincoln and before, and socialism is not the solution. It is the problem. Obama was in the imperial tradition of Leviathan, and Street's review is worth reading.