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L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 920, April 30, 2017

What the hell ever happened to “sticks and stones”?

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War with the North
by J. Neil Schulman
jneil@pulpless.com

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Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

The forests in Canada are owned by the government of Canada. The forests in the United States are in some kind of marketplace, no matter how compromised. Therefore, subsidized Canadian lumber can be sold cheaper than American lumber. This is especially true when it comes to very useful soft wood.

Predictably, Trump is already accused of starting a trade war. Predictably, Reason and CATO will do what they always do, and scream that this is government interference in the marketplace.

I’ve devoted a large part of my life to promoting the Austrian School of Economics. Ludwig von Mises and Hayek are the Plato and Aristotle of that school. Their contention is that the laws of the marketplace are based on an accumulation of personal choices. These operating principles work at any level of economic activity.

That means white market, gray market, black market. Any market.

That means these laws are not the monopoly of agorism or any other radical counter-economic ploy.

The classic texts of the Austrian School are largely about the above ground economy. That means the topic I’m advancing does not require immediate references to Alongside Night or New Libertarian Manifesto. It requires something else, about which more anon.

So, back to my epiphany.

The high-profile defenders of the “free market” are the Reason and Cato Gestapo. They can’t use the word “Trump” for more than a paragraph without also using the word “Tariff.”

After decades of listening to these empty suits, I finally realize they need a new definition of American Capitalism, since the original Austrian School completely failed to anticipate what has happened at the macro level.

Here is the new paradigm for the above-ground economy.

American Capitalism is defined as the purchasing of products from Socialist Countries.

Any attempt to interfere with the purchase of foreign Socialist goods is itself Socialist.

Therefore, the only way to preserve Capitalism is a de facto monopoly of only doing business with Socialists.

Bye bye, Austrian School in the above-ground economy—which is what the actual Austrian economists really cared about.

Later American non-Austrian Austrians are not the point of my epiphany.

As for anyone trying to be a patriotic American and a supporter of free markets at the same time, lots of luck.

—Author/publisher/filmmaker Brad Linaweaver, in a privately circulated email

Brad Linaweaver
Brad Linaweaver

Brad Linaweaver understates his case. He’s too moderate.

A free market is by definition a market comprising free traders—traders who own private property and are making unregulated trades with other private property owners.

No State or collective of States is a free trade partner. All States have acquired anything they offer for sale by criminal activity.

Whether it’s by mercantalism, Opium Wars, slave trade, gunboat diplomacy, fiat money, trade cartels, “free trade” treaties, etc., nothing a State or cartel of States does promotes or supports free trade. The only thing a State or cartel of States can do to promote free trade is self- destruct.

The Canadian State is preventing private Canadians from purchasing dairy products from private U.S. sellers. This is restriction of trade to protect Canadian dairy producers and keep their prices up against competition from American dairy producers.

The American State, acting on behalf of American dairy producers being excluded by the Canadian State from selling its products to willing Canadian consumers, is retaliating by imposing tariffs on the sale of soft Canadian wood to American buyers. That this wood being made subject to an American State tariff is owned by the Canadian State itself only makes more pointed that we are not dealing with free trade. It would be true even if the Canadian State was merely using trade barriers to disadvantage American lumber producers by subsidizing its own producers.

The White House press conference today with U.S Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross used dishonest and loaded language. “Dumping” a commodity is false statist language. In private sales it’s called “discounting” and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But there’s no private seller here so the language of “trade war” is invoked because “war” is how States typically interact with each other.

I favor a free market but we’re not discussing here anything to do with one. This is a tactical war move by one State against another State, as much as a troop movement or dispatch of an aircraft carrier.

If self-impoverished socialist Canada thinks it can win any war against the far-more-capitalist United States with Donald Trump in charge it’s not lumber they’ve been smoking.

Donald Trump is a capitalist who, like Brad, favors free trade but is not uncomfortable with using the superior position of the Unites States if trade barriers disadvantage those Americans he’s pledged to place First.

Those libertarians who don’t agree with Brad on that are either lying or stupid.


Reprinted from J. Neil Schulman @ Agorist.com
© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved. Web and email links with attribution permitted and encouraged. Other reprints permitted only with prior permission of the author.


J. Neil Schulman

J. Neil Schulman is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, radio personality, filmmaker, composer, and actor. His dozen books include the novels Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza, both of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Award for best libertarian novel, and the anthology Nasty, Brutish, And Short Stories. Read more about him.


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