American politics is so weird and inconsistent. Conservatives love stop-and-frisk; progressives hate it. Meanwhile, progressives love gun control and dream sweet dreams of gun prohibition; conservatives revile such policies as un-American totalitarianism.

imageHere is the funny part: stop-and-frisk is gun control. What do you think the police are looking for, chewing gum? The only way to make a real gun prohibition work in America would be to randomly stop and frisk any and all Americans, not just shifty looking dark-skinned people.

If leftists got their way, stop-and-frisk would be universal, and the Fourth Amendment null and void.

So, apparently conservatives are fine with a police state that focuses on brown people, while the only way to get leftists interested in Fourth Amendment rights is to have their abridgments fall mainly on minority groups.

And people wonder why I laugh at the pretensions of progressives and conservatives, wonder why I despise their leaders.

Last night, I set my iPad upon my lap and fell asleep.

I immediately began dreaming about a pushy man “borrowing” my iPad without really asking. He just walked away with it.

I was annoyed — so annoyed that I woke myself up with the express purpose of getting my iPad back. 

Yes, it was still on my lap. Quest achieved.

It is a pity that the conflicts of waking life are not so easy to fix.

A neighbor of mine was in on the ground floor of a recent attempt to start a new party, the Open Source Party. The program was to have been collaboratively developed online. I thought the idea had much merit. No major changes can be made without a more widespread knowledge of current and ongoing American deficiencies, and an open-source approach might offer a great training ground and platform to share alternatives to the present (and ongoing) crisis system.

But my favorite “new party” idea could be called The Receivership.

This party’s purpose would be to manage a mass secession of the states from the United States. From this mass secession, several new unions of states could be formed. But more importantly, The Receivership would orchestrate an extremely limited confederacy of those differently-run unions, a confederacy of confederacies. Why? To continue a few of the programs of the current national government (the military and Social Security, say) with a mind to their gradual privatization or devolvement, while liquidating the assets of the government as a whole and paying off some of the creditors (but not all) on the basis of bankruptcy principles.

The current split between “red” and “blue” suggests one reason for forming new unions. The American people seem to be in the process of self-segregating ideologically, and it might make sense to draw territory to match the distribution of ideologies.

Besides, several unions would allow more, varied experiments in governance. One union of states could emulate the original confederacy idea of our country; another a federal republic; and yet another would be conceived along nationalist lines, as at present (de facto if not totally de jure). It would also be good to designate a modestly sized area of the current United States to allow non-state organization. Call it a state-free zone. Perhaps New Hampshire would be ideal for this.

The overarching union (the union of unions) would place the old nationalist government and its assets under receivership, selling off as much as possible, privatizing by gift other portions, etc. The closest continuer of our country could then be called something like The United States of America Under Receivership, Dissassembling.

The Receivership party would push for serious reconsideration of all unsustainable government programs, and thus, even if it were to fail in its ultimate goal, it nevertheless might be able to muster the political will to right what is wrong, currently. And since what is wrong is not now popularly understood, the educational effort of the party would be to inform Americans of the persistent, growing, integral and unacknowledged instability in some of our biggest institutions.

N.B. For the record, my neighbor who was interested in the Open Source Party is now an enthusiastic Gary Johnson supporter.

An earlier version of this appeared on Quora. A related post there, listing less radical reform suggestions for our broken federation, might be of some interest to some readers.

I’ll give you a clue as to how I react to rhetoricians. If I only listened to H. Clinton, I would probably vote for D. Trump. If I only listened to Trump, I’d vote Clinton. But I hear them both, see them both, and so vote for neither. 

This speech about “right to work” laws gives me the creeps. The intellectual content is about zero, and the attitude repels me.

There are many, many speeches from Trump of which the exact same may be said. Every time he blames free trade for the apparent de-industrialization of America, I wince. Hillary Clinton’s crony-capitalist progressivism would further grind down American wealth and vigor. Trump’s capitalist-cronyite progressivism (protectionism, along with anti-immigrationism, was a hallmark of American Progressive thought, of course) could start an international trade war, ushering in World War III. 

We have already had too many call-backs to the 1930s with Bush and Obama — we do not need more.

My reaction is not knee-jerk contrarianism — unless I am reacting negatively to the unduly partisan contrarianism that plagues our political culture. It is difficult not to figure that our chief problems are the result of the bipartisan duopoly.

I have many friends who support one or the other candidate, and they insist that the “other candidate” (the one they don’t support) is simply beyond the pale.

Insofar as this particular judgment goes, both are right.



A Paul Krugman column is usually a carefully constructed memetic trap. If you accept his terms and assumptions, he will nab you.

Krugman’s Monday column is a fine case in point. He is trying to shill for Hillary Clinton, again, and he is doing so, this time, by attempting to dissuade youngsters from voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson. As I start typing, I have only read the first paragraph and the title. Still, I can already say what one often can say about this “economist’s” columns: he is not thinking like an economist.

First, the title. Normally, one should not blame a writer for a published title. Magazine and newspaper editors usually reserve titling for themselves. But Krugman is a Nobel Laureate. He surely has control, here. He is one of the New York Times’s true “stars” . . . which says a lot about the state of the New York Times. But I digress.

The title is “Vote as if It Matters.” Now, whenever you see, in print, a command — particularly a command to you, the reader — ask why. Challenge it.

This applies to my command, above. You, the reader should question my authority. And certainly Krugman’s.

“As if” constructions imply pretense. In football we were screamed at, by coaches, “hit as if your mean it!” I did not mean it, I can tell you. So I pretended to pretend I meant it.

The title gives you a clue: your vote doesn’t matter . . . in the way you might be inclined to think. Indeed, it does not matter in the way the author, Krugman, assumes. You can tell by the terms used: do x “as if” y matters. But what if y — contrary to assumptions — doesn’t matter? You are not supposed to think that.

But: think that.

One of the most important contributions economists have made to the theory of democracy is the realization that votes are not valued for their ostensible utility in producing an outcome, not like spending one’s dollars. You spend a dollar, you get what you pay for. You vote, and . . . you get what a plurality or majority of voters at large voted for, not necessarily, or in any way causally, what you voted for.

When you spend money, your money is productive of the goods received. Votes do not have that same instrumental value . . . to the voter. (Votes en masse of course have value to politicians and partisans and ideologues. But that is very different.) A single vote does not decide an election. Therefore, its value has to derive from something else. An expression of one’s preference, a signal to other voters, a rite that one goes through to feel at one with a movement outside oneself? All plausible. But the value of a vote, in terms of its direct economic benefit, is well nigh zero.

So when Krugman tells you to “vote as it if matters,” he is telling you to treat your vote in an unrealistic way, to vote in a manner in which efficiency and productivity can mean nothing to you directly.

Some economist.

Why does he want you to vote unrealistically? Because he wants you to over-value your vote, to make you feel responsible for an outcome you did not cause.

Keep this in mind as you consider his argument, set out clearly in the first paragraph:

Does it make sense to vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president? Sure, as long as you believe two things. First, you have to believe that it makes no difference at all whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump moves into the White House — because one of them will. Second, you have to believe that America will be better off in the long run if we eliminate environmental regulation, abolish the income tax, do away with public schools, and dismantle Social Security and Medicare — which is what the Libertarian platform calls for.

Now, I do believe that there would be a difference between a Hillary and a Donald presidency. Most people do. But what that difference is, I have only a few clues.

With Hillary you get a corrupt warmonger in dubious health and mentality, and with Trump you get a shoot-from-the-hip mudslinger with goofy protectionist ideas. Whether their administrations would be light years apart in policy and tenor, or just a few inches, we cannot know. My suspicion that Donald Trump is in reality a mere centrist Democrat, perhaps as far left as Jimmy Carter, has not been falsified by much. His rhetoric sounds different, but remember: Trump is mostly pretense. He is the former star of a TV reality show. He has put on an act. And run with it. For reasons saddening to me, American men, especially, have fallen for it. Hillary, on the other hand, is not a good actor, but she is a liar. A known liar. A proven liar. But then, she is a politician, and while it is not true that all politicians, like Cretans, always lie, all politicians do lie. And she has learned how to get away with it. Partly she has gotten away with it because so many women of the professional and educated classes want to see a woman in the Top Banana seat, to the exclusion of all sensible standards.

But the crucial thing is, regarding voting: no vote you cast, for Hillary, for Trump, for Gary Johnson, for Marvin the Martian, will give the election to either Trump or Clinton. The assumption that Krugman’s first point rests upon is that you, the voter, are somehow responsible for the outcome of an election, and that to prevent something bad from happening, you must do something about it.

Nonsense. And Krugman, being an economist, knows it. He has laid a trap. You, the reader, are supposed to walk into it, and do as he says.

Krugman’s second point is even more absurd. Not only does he hold a voter responsible for the outcome of choosing a candidate, to guilt or shame or spook the voter to voting in a certain way, in his second point he not only does that, but holds a candidate responsible for his party’s complete platform. Since Gary Johnson has publicly repudiated some elements of the Libertarian Party platform — he has reassured us that he has no interest in getting rid of the safety net, Medicare and Social Security especially, that we just have to keep the welfare state intact — Krugman’s second point is hardly plausible at all.

Consider: if it had been discovered, in 2008 or 2012, that Obama was at heart a communist, should non-commie Democrats have not voted for Obama? Maybe they liked a halfway measure like Obamacare, but not full single-payer healthcare. Would Krugman have discouraged those Democrats from voting for Obama? No. He would have argued with them that, even if Obama had wanted to turn most of the economy over to the State, he could not get away with it, there being checks and balances in American governance, after all — so, well, don’t worry!

Most Americans are not libertarians. So why should a young non-libertarian vote for Johnson and Weld?

Well, that is a good question. Why should any non-warmonger vote for Hillary Warmonger Clinton? Why should any free trader vote for Donald Protectionist Trump?

And yet many of each type do.

Krugman is not asking deep questions of motives and democratic systemics. He is trying to persuade his younger readers not to look behind the curtain. For, it turns out, that title was his, no doubt. For he reiterates its instructions:

So I’d like to make a plea to young Americans: your vote matters, so please take it seriously.

The truth is, your individual vote does not matter. What matters is what vast hordes of voters do. So politicians on the stump and ideologues in the newspapers want as many people as possible to vote their way, not necessarily your way, and will use bad arguments to get you to jump into one voting pool rather than another.

I could use economic jargon to explain this, but I think by this time, there is no need. What people thinking about voting have to ask themselves is: why are they voting?

It is not to determine the outcome of an election. If it is, they are fools, dupes. Democracy is nothing like a supermarket. Your “votes” at the Piggly Wiggly yield you positive results, and you can hone your next purchase based on your evaluation of this purchase, just as this purchase was based on your evaluation of the last. But your votes, not determining what you get, become weird signals the precise meaning of which cannot be determined by ballot counters, statisticians, or . . . anyone, including perhaps even yourself, with any precision.

But still, many of us do vote. We engage in a pretense that what we do, individually, counts. In some way. On some level.

When it comes to voting on an initiative and referendum, I vote for the outcome I prefer. But if I neglect to vote in an election, my conscience is clear. I know that my vote has never decided an election. And never will.

Indeed, a few years ago it almost did! I voted for a county commissioner, and the vote count was a tie! Had it been, say, 481-480, with the one extra vote going to my candidate, I could have ascribed some utility to my vote. (How to do that math is, ahem, tricky.) But it was a tie, and the election was decided by a coin toss! My guy picked the reverse, not the obverse. I had voted one way, and got the opposite.

Do you see how much the system is set against any single vote deciding anything?

When it comes to candidates, anyone with a brain in their heads realizes that no one can perfectly represent even one other person, much less all who vote for that other candidate — and no way for all the voters. But the conceit of democracy is that representation does happen.

Since no one represents all of my ideas, I choose the candidate who comes closest, at least on the most important issues to me, offsetting this against a very different criterion, that of who embarrasses me, or offends me, or frightens me least.

For my part, foreign policy and trade policy are the big issues. I believe that a bad foreign policy makes where I live unsafe, and can harm the rest of the world the most, and cause the most moral horror, so I rank that highest. And free trade makes those around me the wealthiest, overall, and leads to greater peace, globally, and greater wealth, globally. That is second.

So, I would never vote for a protectionist, like Trump, or a warmonger like Clinton. The Libertarians represent a move towards peaceful globalism, and that is a distinct good, in my book. So I tend to overlook Johnson’s and Weld’s obvious flaws, on these issues and others, simply because they are generally anti-war and pro-trade.

Krugman is really appealing to this kind of attitude when he talks about, say, privatizing Social Security. He assumes that most of his readers will look at the mere mention of getting rid of (or even reforming) Social Security as crossing a clear taboo boundary.

Amusingly, it was Social Security that really grabbed my attention when I contemplated my first Libertarian candidate, years ago. For Social Security, I saw, was a raw deal: with each generation it increased the burden of paying into it, thus increasing the amount of sheer servility in society, while also increasing the lust to live at others’ expense. But most folks do not understand how Ponzi schemes work, or how a modified tontine might work. And what happens when the government enforces such schemes on everybody. So, Krugman is out to scare youngsters. Whereas I see the Libertarian case against Social Security as just good common sense.

My big advice to young voters is to forget writers like Krugman, who are out to manipulate you with specious arguments and long-ago falsified paradigm assumptions.

Think for yourself.

And vote for the person you want, for the reasons that make most sense to you.

Just do not get caught in tribalism, into thinking that your vote defines you and your commitment to a group, barring other considerations. Of course, groupthink is the norm in politics. For most of the ardent participants, partisanship overrides nearly everything. But look where all that has led us: Democrats offering up Hillary the Corrupt, Republicans offering up Donald the Dubious, and Krugman offering up anti-economic blather.

Because your vote does not matter to you in the same way it matters to others, take the opportunity this opens up to rethink what you have been taught, and the opinions into which, by nature and circumstance, you fell. In other words, think “seriously about what you want to see happen to America.”

But please, first grasp the reality of what is happening, without the prejudicial nonsense from prevaricators and base rhetoricians like Paul Krugman.



Rights asymmetries were the rule in the ancient world. Hierarchies were caste hierarchies, with different rights and duties dependent on where you came from, who your parents were, etc. “My station and its duties,” as F. H. Bradley put it. The king had a divine right to rule, and it was the duty of others to obey. Case closed.

Modernity begins with a universalist attitudes towards rights. This yielded a belief in symmetrical rights assignment, to basic rights, human rights, “natural rights.” The idea?  Everyone — every person, every individual human being — was to possess the same basic rights set, and any hierarchies that evolved from there were to be based on action, chiefly, and seen as derivable from universal rights. That is, particular rights that we do not all share were dependent upon the basic rights that we do share.

The big issue of our time appears to be immigration. And here we stumble upon a rights asymmetry: 

It is almost umiversally believed that everyone has a right to leave one’s country. Only tyrannies hold their inhabitants within state-demarcating border lines. But the flip side of migration-out is migration-in: the right to emigrate would seem to entail a right to immigrate.

That is not today’s everyday reality: immigration controls are almost universal these days.

What good is a right to leave a country if one may not be accepted elsewhere?

The immigration debate sounds like excuse piled upon excuse. It is all based on fake rights, non-compossible rights.

One reason I occasionally worry about the current anti-immigration craze is memetic contagion: to resolve cognitive dissonance, emigration rights would also become widely opposed. And real, palpable tyranny would result.

  • Who has best dealt with this apparent antinomy? 
  • Can it be legitimized by appeal to universalizability? 
  • Is the émigré/immigrant asymmetry a representation of an underlying compossible rights set, something I cannot yet fathom?

The great ideological transformation roughly from 1850 to 1950, wherein the kind of people — defined by their education status, their bearing and culture, their general attitudes — who ensconce themselves at the pinnacle of intellectual and social stewardship switched political philosophies from individualism to collectivism, has been the subject of much dispute, especially among individualists. The general trend was tragic. But the terminological problems involved in the transformation were more maddening than anything else, at least to some.

250px-liberty_oldperiodicalAs far as individualists were concerned, the word “liberal” was stolen from them. By 1884, Herbert Spencer could plausibly make the claim that “Most of those who now pass as Liberals, are Tories of a new type.”* By the end of the century, when economist Joseph Hiam Levy speculated on the social consequences of applying classical liberal doctrine, he gave his talk before the National Liberal Club, but, when published, titled it The Outcome of Individualism, and nowhere within it used the word “liberal.” As I noted in a recent ebook reprint of that book,† by the end of the century, “Big government, unlimited government, even dictatorial government” had become “fashionable, even among people who thought of themselves as liberal. . . . So it was not clear anymore what liberal meant: it had two branches — one individualist and one collectivist.

This left the partisans of liberty as a limit to government in a pickle. What could they call themselves? The term liberal didn’t work anymore. It put them in company with all their old enemies: protectionists, mercantilists, pork-barrel enthusiasts, and even socialists.

The British writers following in Spencer’s tradition offered one solution: they called themselves individualists. . . .

But, as I went on to write, it was not a wholly satisfactory substitution. I explained some of the problems with that term in the rest of the preface to that unfortunately neglected book.

Readers today know what word finally replaced liberal in common speech and in politics: libertarian. But it, too, has had a rocky reception. Jeffrey Tucker, in a new essay‡, concisely states the problems, as popularly understood:

It’s long. It’s awkward. It always needs explaining. In America, it’s a word for both a party and an ideology. And the wars over what it actually means never end.

For my part, I have never been bothered by the “it’s long” criticism. Sure, it is long, but so are many other words in common use. Besides, it is in one way much better than “liberal” in that it does not have a primary (indeed ancient) meaning in ethics, a meaning mostly orthogonal to individualist liberalism. (“Liberal,” in personal ethics, means “open and generous”; “liberality” is a major virtue, “the quality of not being opposed to ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted”**) Further, libertarian has more of the word “liberty” in it than does liberal.

Still, it is not as if the word “libertarian” did not have a separate,  non-political meaning. The word labels a position in metaphysics, defending free will††, and was well in use before its appropriation for political use.

But this hardly constitutes an argument against using it. Indeed, the two usages are in parallel in ways that liberal (in the individualist sense), may not be: metaphysical libertarianism limns the liberty of man in the context of the causal forces of nature; political libertarianism limns the liberty of man in the context of human society and, ahem, anti-sociality.

Jeffrey Tucker’s essay, though, is not concerned primarily with the advisability of the political meaning of “libertarian.” Instead, he focuses on when it began being used, consciously, by the folks who now call themselves “libertarians.”

As it turns out, libertarianism is not a strange new ideology with arcane rules and strictures, much less a canon of narrowly prescribed belief. It predates the Libertarian Party’s founding in 1972. The term came into use twenty years earlier to signal a broad embrace of an idea with ancient origins.

To be sure, if we go back a century, you will find a 1913 book Liberty and the Great Libertarians by Charles Sprading (reviewed here). It includes biographies of many classical liberals but also some radicals in general who didn’t seem to have much affection for modern commercial society. It’s a good book but, so far as I can tell, the use of the term in this book is an outlier.

Apart from a few isolated cases — H.L. Mencken had described himself as a libertarian in 1923 —  the term laid dormant on the American scene for the following 50 years.

Tucker then goes on to reveal the real origin of the term, which he discovered in the archives of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE): Dean Russell, in May 1955, suggested that “those of us who love liberty trade-mark and reserve for our own use the good and honorable word ‘libertarian.’” Soon after, Leonard Read began using the term, and an intellectual movement — classical liberalism revived and (perhaps) perfected — had a new name.

I checked Brian Doherty’s history of the modern libertarian movement, discovering only that the index sports no page citation for  the origin of the term “libertarian” itself. I skimmed (again) through the excellent first chapter‡‡, and did not find a discussion of the term’s filiation, even in the sections on the turn-of-the-century Liberty magazine.

Which surprised me a bit. For the adoption of the word can serve as a microcosm of the libertarian movement itself. Perhaps Mr. Doherty will correct me — it has been many years since I have read his book. Today I just skimmed over it. And as for Jeffrey Tucker’s account, does he really get it right? Were there only, as he contends, a few mentions of “libertarian” before Dean Russell grabbed the word from the metaphysics (not metaphysical) ether to shoe-horn it into service for a revived individualist liberalism?

I have qualms.

So let us go to the most likely origin of this terminological revolution, the pages of Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty (1881–1908). Actually, I am going to cheat, and consult the book (titled, oddly, Instead of a Book***) he compiled from its pages. And there he uses the word “libertarian” exactly four times.

In his classic and well-regarded essay “State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree, and Wherein They Differ,” which serves as the book’s first chapter, Benjamin Ricketson Tucker distinguishes between the tyranny implied by state socialism with his own anti-statist, self-designated “socialism”: “One is communistic, the other soliditarian. One is dictatorial, the other libertarian.” So there you have a characteristic use: as a general term to contrast with tyranny, with dictatorships.

Later on in the book, from Liberty’s January 1, 1887, edition, Ben Tucker laments a comrade in the cause of liberty — a man who had stated that “There is nothing any better than Liberty and nothing any worse than despotism” — who errs, Tucker claims, by defending protectionism and Greenback inflationism. Tucker titles the chapter “A Libertarian’s Pet Despotisms.”

Here the word is a noun, not an adjective. And it is obviously a term for what Tucker claims himself to be. (He usually referred to himself under other synonyms, such as a “philosophical anarchist” or “individualist anarchist,” but perhaps most eloquently as an “unterrified Jeffersonian.”) In the book’s third reference, it is back as an adjective, in a discussion of Henry George and divorce laws. The phrase in question is a contrast: “instead of being libertarian.” The clear implication of the passage is that Tucker, not George, holds to a libertarian doctrine.

The fourth use occurs in a fascinating discussion of the meaning of “anarchy.” To translate the passage into modern terms, it might read something to the effect that anarchy is not Somalia’s lack of State governance, but the institutional arrangement of a people who lack a State government while also desiring liberty, and seek to defend it. Tucker’s phrasing is more provocative:

The present State cannot be an outgrowth of Anarchy, because Anarchy, in the philosophical sense of the word, has never existed. For Anarchy, after all, means something more than the possession of liberty. Just as Ruskin defines wealth as “the possession of the valuable by the valiant,” so Anarchy may be defined as the possession of liberty by libertarians — that is, by those who know what liberty means. The barbaric liberty out of which the present State developed was not Anarchy in this sense at all, for those who possessed it had not the slightest conception of its blessings or of the line that divides it from tyranny.

Here we have definition of a free society that depends on a general settling of opinion on libertarian doctrine. Whole treatises could be written about this passage, but our take-away, here, must be how important it is for Tucker to have his ideological doctrine become culturally dominant, a libertarianism writ across society.

This particular passage, by the way, was written in response to a long letter from someone signing himself (or herself) as “Egoist.” The date was October 27, 1888.

As Jeffrey Tucker has stated, the term was sparsely used during the first half of the 20th century, and was by no means universally latched onto by proponents of the kind of radical liberty that incorporated private property — as Ben Tucker’s did, as Jeff Tucker’s does.

But I think Jeff underestimates its extent. Alas, I cannot, at the moment, do the research to back my contention up in an exhaustive manner. I do not now have access to my files from the anarchist-communist journal The Firebrand, which started publication about the same time as Tucker’s Instead of a Book came out, and in the pages of which appeared plenty of critiques of various Tuckerite positions. If my memory serves correctly, the word “libertarian” was used by the anarcho-communists as well as individualist anarchists at that time. Soon later, I know, Left (that is, anti-property) anarchists used the term to euphemize their anti-statist forms of socialism. And it has been so used until the present day by just those kind of people.

I could uncover many citations of this, but I will make do with one. Yes, just one: Senex, “Whither the Libertarian Movement?” Vanguard I:5 (January 1933), 6–8. This is a typical response to the individualist anarchists from a far-left anarchist. More such references can be found in the pages of the book††† from which I extracted this.

What is worth noting is that “libertarian” evolved to fill a need: as a euphemism for anarchist, anarchistic and anarchism. Anarchists had every reason to desire such a euphemism, considering that, in their midst, there were numerous vandals, murderers and terrorists. Ben Tucker hated violence, the “propaganda by the deed,” and even those anarchists further left than he — that is, those expressing hatred for private property, on the whole, and market cooperation, specifically — who were in fact leaning towards violent revolution needed a safe space (a safeword?) from the rising anger of American and European populations, people who were understandably vexed by terrorism.

This actually mirrors what was happening in State Socialist circles. There, the terms socialism gave way to communism gave way to collectivism. I covered all this last year — well, rather, economist Yves Guyot discussed all this 108 years ago. “There is some popular confusion about the terms,” I explained†††, relating Guyot’s telling of the tale:

Marx and company chose “communism” in 1848 because, well, “the word ‘socialism’ had been too much discredited at the time.” But, to everyone’s confusion and delight, “they subsequently resumed it, for the logical conclusion of all socialism is ‘communism.’”

And there’s more. “The word ‘collectivism,’” according to one socialist leader, “was only invented in order to spare the susceptibilities of some of the more timorous. It is synonymous with the word ‘communism.’”

Talk about a wealth — indeed, a welter — of terminology!

But it does cast light on the Grand Ideological Theft of the 19th century, the taking of Liberalism from the individualists by the collectivists.

We who carry on the older liberalism still lament the purloined label. Jeff Tucker does, anyway: “left-wing partisans of state planning don’t seem to embrace the word liberalism as they once did. They prefer the term progressive — a misnomer if there ever was one!” And he then asks the obvious question: “Does that leave the word liberal on the table for the taking? Maybe. That would be some beautiful poetry.”

But there already has been some poetry here — some irony, perhaps. Or cosmic justice. Collectivists took away liberalism from the individualists and the individualists took away libertarianism from the collectivists.

Perhaps we should chuck it all and take up Benedetto Croce’s term****: liberism.

It is shorter.

  • * Herbert Spencer, The Man versus the State, with Six Essays on Government, Society and Freedom, ed. Eric Mack, introduction by Albert Jay Nock (Indianapolis: LibertyClassics, 1981). 9/17/2016.
  • † Timothy Wirkman Virkkala, foreword to Joseph Hiam Levy, The Outcome of Individualism (Baltimore, Maryland: Laissez Faire Books, 2015), a reprint of 1892’s Third Edition.
  • ‡ “Where Does the Term ‘Libertarian’ Come From Anyway?” FEE: Foundation for Economic Education, Thursday, September 15, 2016.
  • ** Merriam-Webster,
  • †† See Randolph Clarke, Libertarian Accounts of Free Will (Oxford University Press, 2003).
  • ‡ ‡ ‡  “Patriots, Unterrified Jeffersonians, and Superfluous Men,” in Brian Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern Libertarian Movement (New York: Public Affairs, 2007).
  • *** Benjamin Tucker, Instead of a Book by a Man Too Busy to Write One: A Fragmentary Exposition of Philosophical Anarchism (Boston, 1897). This book was reprinted by Laissez Faire Books as an ebook, in 2015, with an introduction by Yours Truly.
  • ††† Leonard I. Krimerman and Lewis Perry, editors, Patterns of Anarchy (New York: Anchor Books, 1066).
  • ††† Timothy Wirkman Virkkala, foreward to Yves Guyot, Socialist Fallacies (Baltimore, Maryland: Laissez Faire Books, 2015), an ebook reprint of the first English edition, 1910. The original French edition was published in 1908.
  • **** See the “Liberism” entry on Wikipedia. Though the term hails from Croce, Giovanni Sartori has given it a trans-Atlantic treatment, and may have given it a more “libertarianish” and free-trade meaning than original in Croce. I have not read the relevant Croce or Sartori writings.

Earlier today on Facebook:

The Ace of Trumps has now laid out his family leave bill, like any good Democrat would. Republicans supporting him can feel comfort in how deftly he has converted them away from conservatism and into the open maw of modish (if racially retro) progressivism.

Smile as you are engulfed, my friends.

Watching the extinguishment of your “limited government” souls I’ll take with a helping of Schadenfreude.

I expect Trump to rule, as I have warned before, like a slightly more competent, infinitely more amusing Jimmy Carter. But with this whopping increase in the welfare state, he is leaning a little more in the Kennedy direction — the Chappaquiddick Kennedy, I mean.

The Reagan Era is officially over. Trump, if elected (as it looks more likely every day, Hillary having kicked the first domino over this weekend), will be a closer heir to Obama than Hillary would have been. And the GOP can finally die its well-deserved death, die of shame.

Wait, its soul is already dead. Snuffed out.

Trump didn’t kill it; he merely hijacked the corpse.


September 13 on Facebook:

In Faërie, it is the Ace of Trumps versus Lady Chaos for King of the Shadow Harvest, and the ranks of wingéd beings wish to declare a Queen, even if Queen for a Day, to be replaced by Death Incarnate upon the first slip into the Night Land by the Lady. The Ace of Trumps, meanwhile, has gathered a Basket of Deplorables, and there are even expatriate Excoriables falling into his harvest basket, set to weigh in against the wingéd ones.

It is said that the Shadow Harvest shall never be the same again. But what is more likely is that the singers of the Choir Incessant shall lose their perch amongst the wingéd, and as fallen angels their cries and lamentations shall be dinned out by the Rising Lows, whose shockingly deep voices offend those wingéds but please the Deplorables, the Excoriables, and the unsung Praisables.

Meanwhile, a Challenger has arrived at the gate, his name being Fascinus. His ambit extends from the Fever Swamps, but his ambition to hold lance into the middle of the contest. He has surprised many by his challenge, and has gathered to his side even some wingéds as well as a few Praisables, Deplorables and Excoriables. The fen folk who accompany him (raucous but mostly unheard) berate Fascinus, themselves, one another, and (in good measure) another challenger, Doktor Tine, who hails from Luna, enhaloed by moonbats in flittery flight.

No one knows what will be the  outcome. But the Shadow Harvest will be held.

From September 12:

I wonder. Do people not see how they are being played by Trump?

This ad would not, I think, hamper his chances.

Move-On offers up one of their usual pitches for money, to fund an anti-Trump advertisement:


Would this change your mind? Why?

For my part,  I don’t believe for a moment Trump is earnestly considering using nuclear weapons. He has another set of purposes at play here, and this nuke talk has other functions than visible at the superficial, surface level.

Oh, and also: I do not support the man. I just think playing into his hands makes his opponents look like fools.



It’s Malipiero in the morning,
And Nancarrow at noon;
Stravinsky some time after,
And Nono none too soon.

The evening’s left to Elgar,
By midnight, after Toch
I’ll slumber along with Debussy,
And wake five times with Bloch.

The day is made with music,
To distract me from the pain
Of politicians pushing Promise
And the voters’ sad refrain:

“The other side’s more evil!”
And other dubious talk.
It’s why this secret I reveal:
“The answer lies in Bach.”





I have never voted, in a real election, for a Republican or a Democrat for the presidency.

I never wanted to waste my vote on men I disagreed with as much as each and every major party candidate since I was 20, the age I at which I first became eligible to vote in a presidential election.

Earlier, I n mock elections, in school, I voted, I am afraid, for Richard Nixon first, and then Jimmy Carter.

Let that sink in.

I cannot tell you the deep shame I came to feel in giving even this merest (mock of a) hint of support for either candidate. The Nixon regret came quickly. The Carter regret came about four years after my mock vote.

Ever since then, I have been mocking the major parties.

For what?

For their intellectual cowardice, their inconsistent policies, their short time horizons, their pretense to competence, their Angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin distinctions over their mutual differences, their commitment to pelf and legal plunder, their addiction to killing people in foreign countries despite rarely (if ever) getting intended acceptable outcomes, and their undemocratic unfairness in rigging ballot access and limiting political competition.

But I got to hand it to them, major party pols have managed to hoodwink the vast majority — a supermajority — of American voters into believing that one side or the other is on the side of the angels . . . that is, is both honorable and level-headed.

The nifty thing about this election, at long last, is that it has become demonstrable that huge segments of the American population no longer buy the partisan/bi-partisan spin.

We may be four years — or just a few months — away from the epochal moment when the widespread delusion of social consensus unravels in America, just like it did in the Soviet Union 25+ years ago.