Category Archives: History

UPDATED (10/12): Everyone Has Property Rights, Whether They Know it or Not

America, Classical Liberalism, Critique, History, Individual Rights, libertarianism, Natural Law, Objectivism, Private Property

A NEW ESSAY, “Everyone Has Property Rights, Whether They Know it or Not,” is on Mises Wire.

The Indian tribesman’s claim to his ancient stomping grounds can’t be reduced to a title search at the deeds office. That’s the stuff of the positive law. And this was the point I took away from a conversation, circa 2000, with Mr. Property Rights himself, Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

Dr. Hoppe argued unassailably—does he argue any other way?—that if Amerindians had repeatedly traversed, for their livelihood, the same hunting, fishing and foraging grounds, they would have, in effect, homesteaded these, making them their own. Another apodictic profundity deduced from that conversation: The strict Lockean stipulation, whereby to make property one’s own, one must transform it to Western standards, is not convincing.

In an article marking Columbus Day—the day Conservatism Inc. beats up on what remains of America’s First People—Ryan McMaken debunked Ayn Rand’s specious claim that aboriginal Americans “did not have the concept of property or property rights.” This was Rand’s ruse for justifying Europeans’ disregard for the homesteading rights of the First Nations. “[T]he Indian tribes had no right to the land they lived on because” they were primitive and nomadic.

Hoppean Homesteading

Cultural supremacy is no argument for the dispossession of a Lesser Other. To libertarians, Lockean—or, rather Hoppean—homesteading is sacrosanct. He who believes he has a right to another man’s property ought to produce proof that he is its rightful owner. “As the old legal adage goes, ‘Possession is nine-tenths of the law,’ as it is the best evidence of legitimate title. The burden of proof rests squarely with the person attempting to relieve another of present property titles.” (Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, p. 276.)

However, even if we allow that “the tribes and individual Indians had no concept of property,” which McMaken nicely refutes—it doesn’t follow that dispossessing them of their land would have been justified. From the fact that a man or a community of men lacks the intellectual wherewithal or cultural and philosophical framework to conceive of these rights—it doesn’t follow that he has no such rights, or that he has forfeited them. Not if one adheres to the ancient doctrine of natural rights. If American Indians had no attachment to the land, they would not have died defending their territories.

Neither does the fact the First Nations formed communal living arrangements invalidate land ownership claims, as McMaken elucidates. Think of the Kibbutz. Kibbutzim in Israel instantiate the principles of voluntary socialism. As such, they are perfectly fine living arrangements, where leadership is empowered as custodian of the resource and from which members can freely secede. You can’t rob the commune of its assets just because members elect to live communally. …

… READ THE REST. Everyone Has Property Rights, Whether They Know it or Not” is on Mises Wire.

UPDATE (10/12)Facebook Thread.

Those who are unfamiliar with the methods of praxeology and deductive reasoning will twist into pretzels to find fault with this essay. Maybe read the ancients (not the neocons) on natural rights.critiquing neocons on natural rights is a straw man.

Neoconservatives Demonize The South To Deify The Idea Of America

Ancient History, Conservatism, Democrats, Founding Fathers, History, Hollywood, Neoconservatism, States' Rights

BY Boyd D. Cathey

Victor Davis Hanson is one of the most lauded and applauded historians of the “conservative establishment.” Honored by President George W. Bush, a regular writer for National Review, spoken of in hushed and admiring tones by pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, Hanson is rightly regarded as a fine classicist and military historian, especially of ancient warfare. But like other authors who tend to cluster in the Neoconservative orbit, Hanson strays far afield into modern history, American studies, and into current politics—fields where his fealty to a neocon narrative overwhelms his historical expertise.

And like other well-regarded writers of the neocon persuasion—the far less scholarly Jonah Goldberg (in his superficial and terribly wrongheaded volume, Liberal Fascism:  The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning) and Dinesh D’Souza (in his historical mish-mash, The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left)—Hanson, when he writes of contemporary politics or modern American history, writes with an agenda. Certainly, it is not as visible nor as blatantly ideological as that pushed by Goldberg or as filled with skewed historical legerdemain as that of D’Souza. Unlike them, his arguments are usually more firmly based and less fantastical.

Yet, like Goldberg and D’Souza and other putative neocon historians, Hanson is at pains to create a “usable past,” to construct a history and tradition that buttresses and supports current neocon ideology. Thus, he strains to defend the concept of an American nation conceived in and based on an idea, the idea of equality and “equal rights.” And because of that, like D’Souza and Goldberg, he must read back into American history an arbitrary template to demonstrate that premise.

It follows that, as for other neocons, the Declaration of Independence becomes a critical and underlying document for his historical approach. The words—“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights”—become irreplaceably essential. Avoiding the contextual meaning of the phrase and the meaning clearly intended by the Founders, which was aimed specifically at the British parliament and the demand for an “equal”—just—consideration for the colonists from across the pond, the neocons turn a very practical bill of grievances into a call for 18th century Rationalist egalitarianism, which it was not. As the late Mel Bradford and more recently Barry Alan Shain have convincingly demonstrated, such attempts to read that current ideology back into the Founding, runs aground on factual analysis.

But facts have little to do with neocon ideology. What is demanded is a usable past to support present practice and to give legitimacy to the current narrative.  It follows: if the American nation was founded on the “idea” of equality, then any successive deviances and variations from that idea are wrong and immoral, and, therefore, in some way, “anti-American.”  Thus, those Southerners who “rebelled” against the legitimate—and righteous—government of the sainted President Lincoln become “traitors,” who not only engaged in “treason” against the legitimate government of the Union, but through their defense of slavery, were enemies of the very “idea” of America—equality.

How many times in recent days in the debates over Confederate monuments and symbols have we heard echoes of such a refrain from the pages of “conservative” publications like National Review of The Weekly Standard? Or, from certain pundits on Fox News?

And, more, those Southerners—more specifically, Southern Democrats—who opposed the “civil rights” legislation of the 1960s, who questioned various Supreme Court decisions on that topic (beginning with the atrociously-decided Brown decision), who enforced those evil “Jim Crow” laws, are not and never could have been real defenders of the “American [egalitarian] idea,” and therefore, never could be considered “conservatives.”

Confronted by unwashed, rednecky “Southern conservatives,” most neocons seek desperately to protect their left flank from criticism from those of the farther Left. They continually and in “alta voz” protest of their bona fides, of how strongly they supported Martin Luther King’s crusade for equality (King was actually a “conservative,” don’t you know?), of how they stood on that bridge in Selma with the noble demonstrators—well, at least in spirit!—against the “fascist” Billy club-armed police of “Bull Connor, and how they really do support “civil rights” for everyone, including “moderate” affirmative action, “moderate” feminism, yes to same sex marriage, and yes to transgenderism. Their fear of being called out and associated with anti-egalitarians far outweighs their fear of confirming the cultural Marxist template, which, in their own manner, they both sanctify and thus, assist to advance.

The neocon narrative stands history on its head. Not only does it fail as competent history, it simply ignores inconvenient facts, historical context, and the careful investigations and massive documentation of more responsible chroniclers and historians of the American nation, if those facts and documentation do not fit a preconceived narrative. All must be written, all must be shaped, to demonstrate the near-mystical advance and progress of the Idea of Equality and Human Rights in the unfolding of American history. Thus, the incredibly powerful and detailed contributions of, say, a Eugene Genovese (for example, his The Mind of the Master Class:  History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview, and various other studies), go basically for naught.

Victor Davis Hanson, in a recent essay (September 26), adds his own contribution to this historical rewrite, examining what he calls Hollywood’s fascination with what he labels “Confederate Cool.” His argument goes, if I can summarize it, as follows:

–Throughout the 1920s until at least the 1960s (and even beyond), Hollywood and the entertainment industry were kind, even partial, to the South, and in particular, to the Confederacy;

–But Hollywood and the entertainment industry are on the Left;

–Therefore, there were obviously certain elements of the Confederacy and the Old South that were consistent with a Leftist worldview.

Here is the kernel of his argument (I quote):

Can Shane and Ethan Edwards [“The Searchers”] remain our heroes? How did the Carradines and the Keaches (who played Jesse and Frank James) survive in Hollywood after turning former Confederates into modern resisters of the Deep State?

The answer is a familiar with the Left: The sin is not the crime of romanticizing the Confederacy or turning a blind eye to slavery and secession per se. Instead what matters more is the ideology of the sinner who commits the thought crime. And how much will it cost the thought police to virtue-signal a remedy?

Folksy Confederates still have their charms for the Left. All was forgiven Senator Robert Byrd, a former Klansman. He transmogrified from a racist reprobate who uttered the N-word on national television into a down-home violinist and liberal icon. A smiling and avuncular Senator Sam Ervin, of Watergate fame, who quoted the Constitution with a syrupy drawl, helped bring down Nixon; that heroic service evidently washed away his earlier segregationist sin of helping to write the Southern Manifesto.

Progressives always have had a soft spot for drawling (former) racists whose charms in their twilight years were at last put to noble use to advance liberal causes — as if the powers of progressivism alone can use the kick-ass means of the Old Confederacy for exalted ends

Literally, it would take a fat book to unravel Hanson’s farrago of misplaced assertions.

First, in impressionistically reviewing American film history in the 1930s until the upheavals of the 1960s, he makes an assumption that Hollywood was dominated and controlled by the same ideologically cultural Marxism that owns it today. That assumption is not exact. Indeed, there were Communists and revolutionary Socialists working and prospering in the Hollywood Hills during that period—the “Hollywood Ten” and Communist writers and directors like Dalton Trumbo stand out as prime examples. And during World War II, such embarrassing and pro-Communist cinematic expressions as “Days of Glory” (1943) and “Mission to Moscow” (1944, and pushed hard by President Roosevelt), proliferated.

But the fiercely anti-Communist studio bosses, Jack Warner (of Warner Brothers Studio), Carl Laemmle (Universal Pictures), Howard Hughes (RKO), Herbert Yates (Republic Pictures) and Walt Disney were anything but sympathetic to the far Left. They were much more sympathetic to the power of the almighty box office dollar.

And the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild—especially under the leadership of Ronald Reagan—attempted to root out Communist influence. It was not uncommon to find dozens of prominent actors supporting conservative and Republican candidates for public office until the 1960s. For instance, during the 1944 election campaign between Roosevelt and Governor Tom Dewey of New York numerous celebrities attended a massive rally organized by prominent director/producer David O. Selznick in the Los Angeles Coliseum in support of the DeweyBricker ticket. The gathering drew 93,000 attendees, with Cecil B. DeMille as the master of ceremonies and short speeches by Hedda Hopper and Walt Disney. Among those in attendance were Ann SothernGinger RogersAdolphe Menjou, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, and Gary Cooper, plus many others.

A majority of entertainment personalities did support FDR, just as a majority of the American voting public, in those years. But, significantly, it was not considered a “social crime” or “cultural sin” for a famous actor back then to openly support a conservative or a Republican.

Hanson views an earlier sympathy of Hollywood for the South as the expression of some Leftist fascination—and a certain identification–with the South’s agrarian, anti-establishment, and populist traditions, and its opposition to an oppressive Federal government.  Thus, he asserts the songster Joan Baez could make popular “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and more recently, post-Vietnam, director Walter Hill could, in “The Long Riders” (1980), turn “the murderous Jesse James gang… into a sort of mix of Lynyrd Skynyrd with Bonnie and Clyde — noble outlaws fighting the grasping northern banks and the railroad companies.” And, torturously, he draws out a Leftist meaning.

But he misunderstands the history. Hollywood’s fascination with the Old South and its more or less successful effort sixty or seventy years ago to portray the Confederacy with some degree of sympathy reflected the general tenor of the times then, of the desire for a united nation, of binding up old wounds—and especially when the nation was apparently threatened by external forces: Nazism and Communism. [A sympathy for the underdog, always an abiding theme in film, could also have accounted for why Hollywood once smiled on the Old South.—ILANA.] But that desire for unity and that respect for the Confederacy and Confederate heroes would evaporate in the 1970s.

And the nature of the Hollywood Left would also significantly change. The cautious leftward movement of the 1950s—which mostly did not affect Hollywood Westerns (most studios had their own separate “ranches,” separate from any main studio “contagion”)—was transformed by a fierce and all-encompassing cultural Marxism in the ‘60s and ‘70s, just as academia and society as a whole were radically transformed. The modern anti-Southern, anti-Confederate bias and hatred emitted by Hollywood and by our entertainment industry today must be seen in that light, and not as simply the seamless continuation of an older ambiguous relationship with the South.

Constructing this narrative permits Hanson and other neocons to write off the older, traditional South and the Confederacy, while defending their precious narrative of the egalitarian idea of America: “See,” they tell us, “the far Left actually identified with that anti-democratic, anti-American Southern vision which undermined our progress towards greater unity and progress and”—of course—“equal rights.” The Neocon narrative and version of history is, thus, kept unsullied and ideologically pure, while the attempts by the farther Left to lump them in with associated “neo-Confederates, racists, and the extreme right” are repelled.

The problem is that their view actually undermines a clear understanding of our history and perverts the American Founding and the intentions of those who cobbled together this nation. It is a myth built on a poorly-constructed and poorly-interpreted bill of historical goods.

Dr. Boyd D. Cathey

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~ DR. BOYD D. CATHEY is an Unz Review columnist, as well as a Barely a Blog contributor, whose work is easily located on this site under the “BAB’s A List” search category. Dr. Cathey earned an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow), and as a Richard M Weaver Fellow earned his doctorate in history and political philosophy at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. After additional studies in theology and philosophy in Switzerland, he taught in Argentina and Connecticut before returning to North Carolina. He was State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives before retiring in 2011. He writes for The Unz Review, The Abbeville Institute, Confederate Veteran magazine, The Remnant, and other publications in the United States and Europe on a variety of topics, including politics, social and religious questions, film, and music.

The Nicest Letter About The Worst Of Times: The Invasion Of Iraq

History, Ilana Mercer, Iraq, War, WMD

From: TK
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2017 7:28 AM
To: ilana@ilanamercer.com
Subject: Thank You

Ilana,

Years ago, in the early months of the Iraq War, I read my first one of your columns. You were against the war and pretty much predicted what would happen. I was so ignorant about what was really going on, and emailed you mistakenly calling you a liberal. You responded and called me a fool! It caused me to question my position, and was the beginning of my “red pilling”. As Tucker Carlson would say, “Thank you for that!”

Thanks again for keeping your foot on the pedal against this nonsense, insanity and, well, pure evil. I don’t even recognize our country anymore. This “thought crime” stuff is getting pretty scary.

Sincerely,
TK

***************************************

This is the nicest letter. It takes a strong man to have written it after all those years. I regret calling the reader a “fool.” He clearly is no fool. (I would never do it today. It was wrong. But look at what I was dealing with. The readers were constantly trying to get me fired.)

A recent column this writer wrote hearkens to the times the reader remembers. “Beware The Atavistic Dynamics Undergirding Two American Wars” connects the “mass contagion” of the Iraq years to the “hysterical contagion” ongoing.

Support for the work done in this space is always needed and appreciated (PayPal: ilana@ilanamercer.com). It remains a largely “excluded perspective,” as Ron Unz puts it.

UPDATE III (10/1/017): Reject Collective Guilting By The Bigoted Ta Nehisi Coates

English, History, Individualism Vs. Collectivism, Intellectualism, Intelligence, Race, Racism

Ta Nehisi Coates is no intellectual; he says ‘aks’ instead of ‘ask’ and is utterly incoherent, putting forth—in a lengthy interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes (who is manifestly bright)—turgid, sweeping, logically flawed argument.

If we must segregate intellectuals, then Thomas Sowell is a thinker, as is Walter E. Williams. But not this man. Alas, Coates’ fortunes are not merit-based. Yes, how does the adulation Coates receives square with his accusations, made into a career calling, of our racism, yours and mine?

Hayes attempted diplomatically, 6:30 minutes in, to refute Coates’ put down of all whites who voted Trump, but Hayes backed down from being intellectually forceful. Besides, Coats was unable to respond to the host. Simply couldn’t.

I’ve not yet READ “The First White President: The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.” However, the thesis seems a little dumb, for a negation of Obama is not necessarily racial, given that such an overwhelming number of whites had voted for 44. A vote for Obama, moreover, on the part of blacks was most certainly racial. But that’s OK.

As to “America’s founding sins,” as Coats calls slavery. I was not party to that, so I reject his collective guilt. We all should.

UPDATE I: On Gab, someone point out that, “African-American vernacular is a legitimate dialect of English, no different than southern or Australian or any other dialect. That doesn’t make it inferior.”

REPLY: This cultivated African-American dialect was, I believe, absent in the 1950s through the 1960s and even the 70s. It’s a racial, not regional, dialect, adopted, it would seem, artificially for political ends.

UPDATE II: DON on Gab: Having not been alive in those decades I can’t personally refute that (ridiculous, I mean come on) claim, but have a listen to this 1956 interview with a Black American and tell me it doesn’t sound quite a bit like blacks today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvEE9zdHpcY

REPLY
: The most educated of blacks once sounded like educated Americans, not like the exotic exhibits you make them out to be. Do yo think people should strive to speak great English, the language of the founders & of the founding docs? Or bastardize the language to pidgin english? Leftists are with you.

UPDATE III (10/1/017):

MTP asks Ta-Nullity Coats, aka Ta Nehisi Coates: “Are you optimistic about the future of your son in the US?” Oracle answers: “I’m optimistic about my son.” Me: “Ta-ta tembel.” (That means stupid in Hebrew.)

Transcript (thanks, MSNBC, for always transcribing): “Meet the Press – October 1, 2017.”