THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 379, August 6, 2006
"Absolutely Shockingly Amazing"
Send Letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Milsted seems to think he knows everything about all topics. Evidently he doesn't know 'jac' about Somalia.
His essay in your magazine is of some interest because of its peculiar lack of a return e-mail address. Most correspondents in your very fine letters column include a return address. Not only does Mr. Milsted refrain from doing so, but also he doesn't have a contact e-mail of any sort at his site, ReformTHelp.org. (Reform T Help? Oh, I see. Reform the LP. How droll. It reminds me of that domain for Pen Island.) But, of course, his domain registration is helpful in this respect, as he doesn't seem to trust anyone who manages a domain trust.
He writes, "100% of anarchic peoples have been conquered by governed people, adopted government internally, or are in a state of civil war (Somalia)."
It is amusing to think of Somalia as a land of anarchic peoples, since the Somalis are curiously unwilling to accept that description for themselves. Rather, the Somalis have what they regard as a natural law culture. Where their traditional culture has not been exterminated by troops sent by Milsted's national government, Somalis are governed by judges who administer a form of government called kritarchy.
In places where troops from Milsted's national government were sent, there is now an Islamic courts government, which appends some elements of Sharia to traditional Somali laws. Of course, the delightful "governed people" of whom Milsted thinks so highly were unable to conquer the Somali peoples. Indeed, the Somalis massacred some 19 Pakistani troops in May 1993 who attempted to seize a radio station from Somalis in Mogadishu and shut down freedom of speech.
In July 1993, helicopters paid for with Milsted's taxes and sent by his government used TOW missiles and machineguns to slaughter 54 and wound nearly 200 Somalis in an attack on a peaceful meeting of the Habr Gidr clan. Milsted's government wiped out the conference that was proposing to sue for peace with the UN and USA.
Within months, Somali militiamen had armed themselves with rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, invented a method of digging a trench so an RPG could be fired into the sky without having the backwash cut the legs out from under them, and shot down six of Milsted's government's Black Hawk helicopters. Within a few more months, USA military aircraft were used to airlift Mohammed Farah Aideed to a peace conference in Ethiopia, in spite of the fact that other units of the USA military were still hunting for Aideed. When Aideed later chose to form a new centralized, nationalist, socialist government, promising to pay back the debts of the previous government, and proclaiming himself interim president, one of his own clansmen shot him to death.
Now, of course it is my choice to blame Milsted for his part in this conflict. Whether he supports what the USA government did in 1993 in occupying a foreign country, massacring civilians, sending troops, attempting to kidnap a clan leader, or supporting the United Nations in its ongoing campaign against freedom of speech, freedom to keep and bear tools for self-defense, and other freedoms, doesn't matter a bit to me. It is his government, he wants it to have some power, he pays his taxes, and he gets the blame.
Anyone who would like to visit Somalia, as I have done, to see for themselves, is welcome to contact me. Unlike the timid Milsted, I do include my e-mail address with every essay and letter that the editor is kind enough to publish here. So, get in touch. I can arrange for an abaan or "patron" to accept you as a marti or "client" and provide his clan's protection for your safety. While direct travel into Mogadishu typically involves paying for your weight in qat (a natural stimulant leaf which has a powerful amphetamine-like substance much the rage among European pharmacologists) and flying in on one of the daily qat flights which make up the mainstay of commerce among Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, there is scheduled air travel to Hargeisa, Borama, Burao and many other cities in the north of Somali territory. Daallo Airlines is Somali owned and operated, and provides flights from London and Dubai to Somali communities.
Anyone who would like to know more about the ad hoc form of government that forms the traditional culture of the Somalis may want to read Michael van Notten's fine book The Law of the Somalis which also explains a lot of what's known about European law and culture. (Amazon link) Michael and I traveled in Somalia and the Somali parts of Ethiopia on several occasions. His notes were made available by his family to my friend Spencer MacCallum who was appointed the literary executor of Michael's estate. Spencer completed the editing last year.
Somalia is not in a state of civil war. A war for independence for Somaliland was fought from 1978 to 1991, during a time when Milsted's government was supporting the International Monetary Fund guarantees for $333 million in loans to the dictator Siad Barre who used the money to buy arms and ammo to massacre 30,000 civilians in Berbera and roughly 750,000 civilians in various parts of Somalia. A further $2.6 billion was lent to Barre's government by banks from Milsted's country and others. The UN was sent in at a time of bountiful harvests along the Juba and Shebelle river valleys in Southern Somalia not due to any famine, but due to the default on those loans. The objective in December 1992 was not to distribute food, though some was distributed, but to impose a centralized, nationalist, socialist government on Somalia to impose taxes on the Somali people to pay off the loans of the former dictator.
The Somalis have nicely slipped the Gordian knot of those debts by refusing to create a successor government. In the absence of a successor in interest to the former dictator's government, perhaps Milsted's government should pursue the estate of the former dictator (now dead). Or perhaps the IMF and the banking cartel should recognize that they don't have a valid counterparty to their loan claims and simply abandon them. Needless to say, the experience in the fifteen years since 1991 is evidence that the bankers want their money back, and are happy to go to extraordinary lengths to spend the money of taxpayers in many countries around the world to pursue their claim. The wonder is that taxpayers like Milsted continue to blindly support governments that participate in this absurd United Nationalist nonsense.
Finally, I know something of anarchic peoples. Most of the Somalis I know would never agree to the word "anarchic" in describing themselves. However, I know many people who are anarchistic or anarcho-capitalistic. One hundred percent of them have been conquered by no one.
For my own part, I do believe in a form of government. I refer to that form of government as self-government. It is the government of me, by me, for me. In its general case, self-government is, in my view, the government of the individual, by the individual, for his or her own benefit. Self-rule ought to be called autarchy or auto-archy, but that word has been usurped by the socialists to describe dictators.
I do not believe in any externally imposed coercive form of government. The problem I have with minimal-statists like Milsted is their inability to show, anywhere in the world, any government which has the power to impose itself coercively on its subjects and is in any meaningful sense limited.
The ideals of a constitutional republic are not lost upon me. It is a very pretty idea that one can state limits to government, even write them down in a Magna Carta or constitution. I find the idea delightful in theory, but horrid in practice. In practice, there is not now, and never has been, a limited form of government that has the powers to tax and issue money.
One hundred percent of externally imposed coercive forms of government are unlimited. The fools parading their ideas of limited government who aren't willing to pledge not to initiate force are "petulant, childish, and silly." So, of course, any answer from their camp is going to consist of, "I'm not but you are." Sad.
In response to Mr. Carl Milsted's defense of the Portland purge and his view that the purpose of the Libertarian Party is "to get freedom lovers elected to office," I have only one question:
When, in the entire course of known history, has any people ever voted themselves free?
Kevin Van Horn
You Can't Prove Math Exists, Either!!
I would like to comment on a few items from Carl Milsted's letter from the 7/30 issue.
First of all, he seems to think it desirable that the Libertarian Party compromise it's principals in order to make it more palatable to most people, on the grounds that removing 90% of the currently existing government is desirable, or as he puts it, 'more significant in terms of liberty than cutting the remaining 10%'. What he does not mention, is that leaving that 10%, or even 1% of government intact, will eventually cause it to regrow, like a cancer. Frankly, given this inevitable outcome, I would prefer to remove NO government at all, and NO cancer at all, rather than some arbitrary portion of it. Why? Because both government and cancer lead to destruction. If I am doomed to die, I prefer to die sooner, rather than prolong the process of suffering. Just as if society is doomed to collapse, I would prefer for it to collapse now, rather than in 100 years. Why should I prolong it? Because it gives people like Milstead a certain amount of comfort during their lifetimes, and the hell with the future? I see no good reason why the sins of the people today should be paid for by their grandchildren, rather than themselves.
Secondly, he states that 'Neither Rothbard nor Rand's natural rights theories are provable.' I would say that they are provable, not in the sense of physical objects, but rather in the sense of logic, in the same way in which mathematics is provable. You cannot, in the ordinary sense, 'prove' that there is such a thing as the number 2, for instance. I could show you 2 apples, or various symbols which we choose to represent the number 2 (2 or II). But I cannot show you the number 2 itself. Nevertheless, there is overwhelming evidence that mathematics is a reality. Not only does it follow self-consistent logical rules, but it can be used to predict the behavior of any number of real-world situations, ranging from calculating change at a grocery store, to predicting the orbit of celestial bodies.
The same applies to 'natural rights'. I cannot take a 'right to life' out of my pocket and show it to you, any more than I can take the number 2 out of my pocket for your inspection. However, there is overwhelming evidence that such rights do exists, since, for among other reasons, the degree to which these rights are respected in a society is an extremely accurate indicator of how well that society does in other ways, such as having a healthy economy, and low crime rate. If rights did not exist, as Milsted claims, there would be no such correlation. Just as, if mathematics did not actually exist, there would be no correlation between mathematics and the behavior of planets in orbit.
Furthermore, the existence of such rights are not only reflected by their use as the predictors of the behavior of societies, but can be proven logically. Below I have pasted an old usenet post of mine, in which I did precisely that. If anyone can find a flaw in my premises or logic, I will be happy to hear it (my email is email@example.com )
I would say that certain standards of objective morality must exist, just as certain physical laws do. And just as physical laws can be described mathematically, the laws of objective morality must follow certain mathematical principals. For instance: consider the following 3 possibilities. Either:
A. Everyone has certain rights, or
Mathematically speaking, either A or B could be correct, as it puts every human being on equality with every other human being. C is not correct, because it is unbalanced, claiming that some people have rights and others do not is like claiming that 0=1. Since it is biological fact that all human beings are members of the same species, there are no 'Uber-men' who have special rights that everyone else does not have (such as the purported 'special right' of the government to commit theft in the form of taxes).
The question then becomes, which is correct out of A or B? Do all people have certain rights, or does no-one have any rights? Studying math can help us solve this as well. A mathematical equation might have more than one solution in a purely theoretical sense, but some solutions are nonsensical when applied to the real world. Example, a math question about apples could have as an answer either 1 or -1, but since you cannot have (in a physical sense) -1 apples, this answer becomes nonsensical. Since the contention B, that no-one has any rights would immediately lead to a breakdown of society, if applied, it is an unworkable solution. So the only solution that makes total sense regarding rights is that everyone has certain rights, and that these rights are the same for all human beings. (I am exempting the mentally retarded, violently insane, and habitual criminals from this, they do not meet certain criteria necessary to qualify fully as a human being. Any contention on the part of the government that the majority of the population should be denied certain rights on this basis, however, is absurd. A society composed of more than a very tiny minority of imbeciles, madmen, or criminals would be a contradiction of terms. Such a society would never be able to organize in the first place, let alone function on a long term basis).
The question then becomes, 'What rights do all people have'? This too can be solved by applying mathematical laws. Let us take an example of a very simple society, you and I are stranded on a desert island, and have to survive by fishing and knocking coconuts out of trees with long poles. The question arises during an evening philosophical discussion as to who owns my body and your body. Since, as I just proved, all people have equal rights, there are 2 possibilities. Either I own my body and you own your body, or else the exact opposite is true: you own my body and I own your body. This second solution, though logically correct, is nonsensical in the real world. Although some people might want (immorally and illogically) to own other people's bodies, and hold them as slaves, no reasonable person would ever give up ownership of their own body in exchange for owning someone else's. So the only solution that works in the real world is that I own my body, and you own your body. The same thing can be applied to the products of our body's labor. Suppose you spend your time on the island knocking coconuts off trees and I spend mine catching fish. If we have equal rights, then either I own the fish that I caught and you own the coconuts you knocked down, or else the opposite is true, you own my fish, and I own your coconuts. Once again, the second solution is nonsensical, because it will not work in the real world. Not only does ownership of your own body necessarily imply ownership of the products of your body's labor, but it is a complicated and unfair way to run things. What if you knocked down 50 coconuts, but I only caught one small fish? I might be happy to trade, but I doubt you would be. And the inevitable result of such forced, unfair trades is that after a few days you would probably stop knocking down any coconuts, simply to hand them over to me, and spend your time lounging on the beach waiting to take any fish I caught. A few days after that I would stop fishing and we both starve. Which is the end result of all such socialistic schemes. The only way we would both survive is if we traded voluntarily, perhaps if it were much easier to knock down coconuts than catch fish, we would agree that one fish I caught could be traded for 5 coconuts from you.
Then along on our little island paradise comes Ms. MacNab. She thinks that she is 'special' and does not have to find anything productive to do on the island, such as picking grapes. Instead she proclaims herself to be the 'government' and tells you and I we have to hand over a certain percentage of the fish and coconuts in order to feed her and her poor one legged pet parrot. When we ask her whether this is moral, ethical, and logical, she produces a peice of bark, on which is written some complicated laws stating that we have to do it, and says we have to give her the food because it is written on the bark. And who wrote this bark? Turns out she wrote it herself. When we continue to object and demand an ethical basis for this arrangement, she alternately insults our grammar, refuses to answer, or tells us that our questions don't 'deserve' an answer. If we continue to object, she threatens us with a spear she made out of bamboo. She then passes a law saying that only she, as the government, is allowed to own spears.
What to do, what to do. Possibly we might make our own spears, and kick Ms. MacNab off the island. But what if she has several friends with her, also armed with spears, and there are a number of other people on the island, who, although productive, have decided that it is best for you and I to hand over part of our coconuts and fish to MacNab? Why did they decide that? Well it turns out that they aren't really as good as you and I at getting coconuts and fish, and Ms. MacNab has promised them part of what she takes from us in return for their support. What to do then? We could build a boat and get off the island, only Ms. MacNab has made it illegal for anyone except her and her friends to own boats, and almost all the other islands are controlled by similiar parasites, as well. So Ms. MacNab and her friends live pretty well for a while. The only problem with this scheme is that it teaches large numbers of people to be parasites, because that is easier than working. And the more parasites there are, the more they are going to demand from those people still working to get fish and coconuts. A number of things happen then. First of all, an increasing number of fishermen start lying about how many fish they have caught, in order to turn over fewer fish to the island's government. The government makes the absurd claim that they are being 'robbed' by the lying fishermen. Some of the lying fisherman are confined in a bamboo cage, which does not stop very many of the others from lying, and actually worsens the situation since the remaining fisherman now have to turn over even MORE of their catch to support the previously productive people who are locked in the cage. However, it is not possible to evade reality forever. Eventually when the amount of fish taken by Ms. MacNab and her friends becomes high enough, those people who are still fishing only bother to catch enough fish for themselves and their family to eat raw, immediately, leaving Ms. MacNab nothing to seize, and spend the rest of the day playing checkers with the pebbles on the beach. What follows after that is mass starvation of most of the people on the island.
An interesting missiveto say the least!
And, taken completely with the TLE's masthead comment ("The Founding Fathers made that very mistake..."), with reference to the last remark of " This doesn't make them idiots. It just makes them the boys who didn't "apply themselves" on report cards-still restless, but technically all grown up" kind of puts a frame around the entire thing.
On the one hand, the founders didn't think 'outside the box.'
On the other hand, those boys didn't apply themselves well, or they would have understood that government in virtually =any= form, is anathema to the very idea of liberty. One cannot employ government to 'enforce' liberty, asin the main (and please, forgive the aptbut colloquial vernacular aphorism of the 1960's, regarding 'fighting for peace' in Vietnam) one cannot fuck for virginity.
Ergo, one cannot be for government, and be for liberty at the same time. You simply cannot be 'half-pregnant' or half-free.
Nevertheless, Bush has it within himself to end every misery inflicted upon those whom he has sworn to make miserableby dint of his authority to do so. That he has not?
That he has not makes him immoral, vindictive for pecuniary purposes, and completely unethical: A government thug.
And, that you would compare Bush to the mere everyday man, I cannot comprehend.
He has had it within his power to end many evil things connected directly with government.
Bush is a dictator. He has exerted dictatorial powers, has he not?
There is no such thing as a 'compassionate dictator,' as the term is entirely oxymoronic, unless one wishes to invert the meaning of compassion to reflect the idea of inflicted misery.
One may surmise only that Bush is happy with the status quo.
Come election time we'll be swapping despots, and =not= men of honor, as honor does not soil itself by consorting with liars, cheats, thieves, and murderers.
Yours in disputation,
(1) From The Producers
Regarding "Teaching Pigs to Sing"
I read L. Neil Smith's "Teaching Pigs to Sing" and was struck by one thing: Rather than address the substance of Dr. Milsted's point of view, Mr. Smith resorts to numerous ad hominem attacks.
As a compassionate human being, I truly wish the best for Mr. Smith. His article certainly appears heartfelt. While I am not a trained psychologist, I do, however, suggest that he consider anger-management counseling, as his article seems filled with a profound level of venom that I cannot believe is healthy for him.
I hope I am incorrect about this. I do suggest thatwith our nation at war, our civil liberties under assault, and government spending growing at a rapid paceMr. Smith's article appears highly disproportionate and misguided.
Keep up the good work.
You know, it's always hilarious when somebody repeatedly accuses you of being or doing thingsas if you were trying to keep them a deep, dark secretthat you have been trying to shout about from the housetops for years. I used to get a lot of that on right-wing talk radio when I was a regular guest on a local program. People would call up and say, "Why, you're . . . you'rea libertarian!"
And I was. Still am. I confess it.
Having read this Robert Capozzi person's "letter" (for the most part, simply an accusatory regurgitation, albeit without context, of things I said in my recent essay "Teaching Pigs To Sing") any reader of The Libertarian Enterprise can plainly see that it's possible to learn a very great deal about a person from what he has written, and that it isn't at all necessary to read whatever it is that serves him as a mind.
He's exposing himself for what he is, in plain view and broad daylight, for everyone to see.
That was certainly true of Carl Milstead, and it's even more true (if such a thing is possible) of this Robert Capozzi individual, who, judging from the snotty, sophomoric, pseudo-intellectual tone of his letter, probably sits right behind Carl Milsted's folding Samsonite chair at Mensa meetings.
Or aspires to.
No matter. All of the squirming and wriggling and posturing and maundering that creatures like Capozzi and Milsted may do will not disguise the fact that they have gleefully eviscerated the last best chance Americans had to regain our lost legacy of individual freedom. They may think they know what they're doing, but they are only what Joseph Goebbels called "useful idiots", unwitting allies to George Bush and Hillary Clinton, and friends of oppression, terror, and death.
That is what they will be remembered for.
I will see to it personally.
L. Neil Smith
Dear Miss/Mrs/Miz Liberty,
You've nailed itbut wrongly so.
Pardon me for saying so, but you're thinking along socialistic lines: Treating the symptom instead of its cause. Your statement above is operating from a false premise.
I suppose I might chalk it up to being immersed in this environment for so long, that your mind is becoming 'infected' with the group-think which pervades every aspect of life in 'these United States.'
Think: If you were a doctor, and someone came to your doorstep =demanding= that you attend them, what would your action(s) be?
I don't know about yourself, but if that person had one foot in the grave, I'd help plant the one onefirmly so. There's only one person anyone has the absolute right to make any demands of: himself.
The 'answer' to your conundrum isn't closing the borders, or even controlling them. It isn't even evicting those illegals (Hell, I invite them with open arms: They might be the very ones who help to unload the burden called 'government').
Rather, it IS getting rid of the government largess which invites every 'illegal'and legalTom, Dick, and Harriet to come dip their cups into that government troughfor free.
If hospitals were free to turn away anyone not willing to pay, there would be a lot less for you to complain of regarding costs. But then? They (those hospitals) would be competing for customers, and not grudgingly accepting them.
And while you might complain about how 'callous' and/or 'uncaring' my remarks are, you neglect to consider that compassion cannot be dictated. It's the bleeding hearts out there who've made our respective lives just as miserable as they can, becauseand you should know this by now: Misery loves company, most especially a captive audience made so by government edict.
As you've so aptly pointed outregarding the Clintonian supposition on medical care (do note that I don't say 'health care'because that is what you're supposed to do for yourself), mandating anything (and getting away with that) ultimately causes it to become the sine qua non for mandating everything else which follows. Think: Precedent. Government thrives on it.
So, yes: I would indeed shove that gurney right out the door, regardless who lay upon itespecially if the one demanding admittance threatened me with 'government action.'
In finality, then, it's not the borders or their crossings, or the ones crossing those borders.
Most respectfullyand in Liberty,
To the Editor,
I have no desire to get into a spitballing contest between Messrs. Smith and Milsted, but I would like to correct a few errirs in both postings, if I maid do that and if facts are acceptabibull at this thyme.
Mr. Milsted, il dit que natural rights sont wrong, which I find not right. But Mr. Smith is wrong when he implies like Ayn Rand was a Stalinist. No, I am sorry, that is pure redderick, Mr. Rand was not a Stalinist. He was a fan of capitolism and indivivittle rites. Nor is mass murder tantamount to patents and copy, right.
Due to my many years both of being older than other people, as well as a story rider, and also a physical sighingtist, plus don't forget my masstery of history and tagticks, I believe I hole the trump car here. Let that be a lesson to you. And my believe in liberty is third two none.
To The Libertarian Enterprise:
L. Neil Smith ("Teaching Pigs to Fly," could benefit from a perusal of Barbara Branden's recent lecture "Objectivism and Rage," the text of which is now on line. While her words are not offered with Mr. Smith's own tendencies toward perfervid over-the-top character assassination in mind, I am sure that he can profitably adapt her insights to his own case.
[This letter was received too late for Mr. Smith's reply, if anyEditor]