Category Archives: libertarianism

Ideologues Battle Intellectuals Over ’12 Years a Slave’

Intellectualism, Left-Liberalism, libertarianism, Literature, Political Correctness, Race, Ron Paul

Libertarian gush and tosh over the film “12 Years a Slave” is worse than juvenile; it’s anti-intellectual.

Anyone who asserts that the book is “one of the greatest autobiographies [he's] ever read,” as this libertarian educator does, can’t be serious, and if he is serious, should not be taken seriously. (And what does the choice of this lackluster “literature” say about the Ron Paul Curriculum? Maybe The Curriculum should confine itself to economics and leave the teaching of literature to those who know and love the canon of English literature.)

White Americans—liberals, conservatives and libertarians—appear constitutionally primed to convulse hysterically over all things racial. (Check out how Ann Coulter’s C-SPAN CPUKE audience goes wild when she insists the GOP is the party of blacks and Hispanics.)

Since “the 1852 publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “the slave-narrative craze” has been going strong.

An ideologue is not necessarily an intellectual. The responsibility of a public intellectual, in this case, is to provide an intellectual appraisal of a cultural product. The ideologue who isn’t an intellectual will struggle with the task (not that his readers or students will know the difference).

Not suffering the foregoing deficit, Steve Sailer nails “12 Years a Slave,” about which I ventured that “I’m no more inclined to turn to [its star] Lupita Nyong perform reruns of ‘Roots,’ for entertainment, than I am to subject myself to Oprah Winfrey and her M.O.P.E. (Most Oppressed Person Ever) ‘Butler.’”

If to go by Steve Sailer’s superb review, truth too has been lost in the gush and tosh over “12 Years a Slave.” (Gary North glosses over these “few discrepancies.”)

Writes Sailer: “12 Years a Slave is hailed by critics as a long-awaited breakthrough that finally dares to mention the subject of slavery after decades of the entertainment industry being controlled by the South. Yet as cinema encyclopedist Leonard Maltin notes”:

12 Years A Slave is a remake. What’s more, the original television film was directed by the celebrated Gordon Parks. Why no one seems to remember this is a mystery to me, yet all too typical of what I’ll call media amnesia. It first aired on PBS in 1984 as Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, reached a wider audience the following year when it was repeated as an installment of American Playhouse, and made its video debut under the title Half Slave, Half Free.

“You can watch the 1984 version online for $2.99.

The remake has more whippings, though.”

AND,

… it’s built upon a fourth-rate screenplay that might have embarrassed Horatio Alger. Screenwriter John Ridley’s imitation Victorian dialogue is depressingly bad, reminiscent of the sub-Shakespearean lines John Wayne had to deliver as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror.

The message behind the ongoing enshrinement of the rather amateurish 12 Years a Slave is that the cultural whippings of white folk for the sins of their great-great-great-great-grandfathers will continue until morale improves.

Steve McQueen (an art-house filmmaker who is a black Brit of West Indian background) directs 12 Years a Slave in a sort of minor league Passion of the Christ manner. (Incidentally, it’s obnoxious for anybody involved with movies today to call himself “Steve McQueen” instead of, say, “Steven McQueen.” In contrast, there were two 20th-century writers named Thomas Wolfe, but the second had the good manners to call himself “Tom” to minimize confusion.)

Some of the appeal to critics is that Northern whites are shown as saints of racial sensitivity in the film’s preposterous first 20 minutes. 12 Years a Slave opens in 1841 with Solomon Northup (stolidly played by the Anglo-Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor) being effusively admired by his white neighbors in Saratoga, New York. Northup is a model of prosperous bourgeois respectability, always doffing his top hat to his white peers while out riding with his wife and children in an elegant carriage. (Watch 0:24 to 0:35 in the trailer.)

How could he afford that?

Well, actually, he didn’t and couldn’t.

A glance at Northup’s ghostwritten 1853 memoir makes clear that in 1841, rather than being a pillar of this Yankee community, he was an unemployed fiddler dragged down by his own “shiftlessness”: …

READ THE REVIEW.


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Is Henry Kissinger Anti-American Or Simply Smarter Than Some Americans?

Foreign Policy, libertarianism, Neoconservatism, War

“It’s troubling,” laments an Antiwar.com blogger, that [Henry Kissinger] is the voice of moderation” on the Ukraine quagmire.

The writer is responding to an op-ed the former secretary of state penned in the Washington Post, in which Kissinger, the “architect of the destruction of Indochina, and secretary of state to one of America’s most corrupt leaders,” offers … “a balanced analysis” in contrast to the ignorant media rah-rah around him—”arguments that, if uttered on any of the cable news shows, would be condemned as anti-American.”

Kissinger’s analysis is a balanced one, in contrast to much of what we’ve seen. “Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation,” he laments. “Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.”

The West’s approach to Ukraine has been characterized much like the Russian approach: zero-sum. But, Kissinger advises, “We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction” inside Ukraine.

Kissinger also seems to criticize the superficial and trivial nature of the commentary from pundits and politicians. He says “the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” Furthermore, “the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington.”

Kissinger then proposes four suggestions for how to settle the issue in a responsible (not belligerent) manner that prioritizes “how it ends, not how it begins.”

1. Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.

2. Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago, when it last came up.

3. Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people. Wise Ukrainian leaders would then opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country. Internationally, they should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. That nation leaves no doubt about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields but carefully avoids institutional hostility toward Russia.

4. It is incompatible with the rules of the existing world order for Russia to annex Crimea. But it should be possible to put Crimea’s relationship to Ukraine on a less fraught basis. To that end, Russia would recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea. Ukraine should reinforce Crimea’s autonomy in elections held in the presence of international observers. The process would include removing any ambiguities about the status of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

MORE.

The writer comes close to the truth when he wonders whether “Kissinger has become more reasonable in his old age, or if his tempered approach to the Ukraine crisis is merely an illustration of how degenerate and juvenile our politics has become in the generation that has followed his.”

Whatever Henry Kissinger was and did, the author of “On China,” an in-depth study of “Sino-American relations, reaching even into ancient Chinese history to define [China's] national characteristics,” was neither foolish nor uninformed.

Foolish, uninformed and dangerously arrogant: these qualities sum-up the caliber of pundit and public servant misinforming and misleading Americans today.


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Confused About The Subjective Theory Of Value Vs. Objective Standards (+ Some Laughs)

libertarianism, Music, Objectivism, Political Economy, Pop-Culture

At last. Someone with a funny bone (and a healthy IQ). “Best laughs of the month,” writes Jim Ostrowski about “Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad And The Beastly.” It was also nice to hear from Jim that “CPUKE” made him pack-up laughing—this long time activist, lawyer and author for liberty deserves a good laugh.

On the other hand, on EPJ, “Hollywood: The No-Good, The Bad And The Beastly” has stimulated an interesting, if distressing, thread. Increasingly, I get why my pal Vox Day quit (and he was way more sombre than I; my writing is consistently funny.)

No cause for laughter is this to-and-fro:

Anonymous March 7, 2014 at 12:51 PM:

Sometimes a person can be too critical when giving a negative opinion it comes off as just an irritating screed. A screed that longs for the past that’s not coming back – it’s over, gone, no more – so get over it. Today’s art may not be what it should be, but I bet if and once deflation kicks in art will return to what it ought to be.

The reason why kids now days don’t read certain books but the Hunger Games is because those books (ie. Chekhov) are boring and don’t really line up with today’s issues. Well, they are. And, the author of Hunger Games is a she.

Reply
ILANA MERCER March 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM
:

I should have guessed “Hungers Games” was “written” by a girl (although, don’t discriminate, carriers of the Y Chromosome can too be girls if they want to). Could Anon’s impoverished imagination (Chekhov is not for kids and was referenced as “heavy,” not necessarily enjoyable) be a consequence of utter lack of familiarity with the greatest, most exciting books ever? Classics for kids and young adults? Are you kidding me? “Hunger Games” or “Harry Potter” will never match gripping, culturally and historically richly textured, well-written stuff (so good for real boys) like: Ivanhoe, The Count of Monte Cristo, Treasure Island, Arabian Nights, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Last of the Mohicans, Les Misérables, Around the World in Eighty Days, Black Stallion, Wuthering Heights, Kiss Kiss, and even The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Problem is Anon has been brought up to revel in ignorance. You are perfect just they way you are. Kids nowadays don’t read b/c they’ve been told, like Anon, that they don’t need to—nothing much to learn from the great masters.

Reply
Tony March 7, 2014 at 4:56 PM
:

What i liked as a child was considered mostly crap by the elderly. And what the youths of today like i consider to be mostly crap. 30 years from now the youths will wonder how anyone other than geriatrics could possibly like Beyonce, Pharrell Williams or Rihanna.
Tastes generally remain stagnant on what we’re used to. Because of this subjective opinion and feelings of nostalgia i don’t really think it is possible to judge which is “better”.

Having said that, i am getting borderline depressed about what goes for “great movies” or “good music” these days. I don’t bother watching the Academy Awards anymore, since it has turned into a liberal self-congratulatory smugfest (with matching “best movie” nominees) so thick it raises ocean levels a yard ever year.

Reply
ILANA MERCER March 7, 2014
:

Actually, Tony, the value each consumer places on consumer goods in the marketplace is subject. But the Subjective Theory of Value should not be confused with objective standards that determine the quality of cultural products. It’s pretty distressing to realize that libertarians confuse the two concepts and that cultural, intellectual and moral equivalence pervades our thinking as much as it does that of mainstream. To wit, applying objective, universal criteria (complexity, skill, mastery, intricacy, etc.), as the column states, it is objectively and immutably true that “B.B. King is no match for Johann Sebastian Bach.” I’m sure you can think of hundreds of similar examples: You might prefer to purchase one of Toni Morrison’s God-awful tomes, but the objective fact is that she’s no match for Shakespeare.


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The Talented Mr. Turley

Constitution, Federalism, History, Law, libertarianism

I find myself having to often defend against libertarian critique of my interest in the U.S. Constitution and the history of the republic. (Yes, imagine making excuses for intellectual curiosity.) I’m fascinated by it all. The disdain for American constitutional history among some libertarians seems to stem from laziness, which has invariably fed an attitude that treats the non-aggression axiom as if it materialized magically, and was handed down to the faithful at a Mount-Sinai like event, rather than from “the nit and the grit of the history and culture from which it emerged,” in the words of Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

It’s pitiful that one should have to defend against an incurious, ahistorical mindset. Nevertheless, I plead guilty of an interest in Jonathan Turley’s February 26, 2014 remarks to the Committee on the Judiciary, of the United States House of Representatives, even though, as a libertarian, I most certainly do not identify with their impetus: “Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.”

Most of what the government does is either naturally illicit, immoral or both. If a president arose who refused to enforce MOST of our laws; I’d cheer him on. And one can hardly accuse the Judiciary of not doing much, as Turley does. The opposite is the case: there are no means to punish the Bench for its infractions (such as Zero Care).

Still and all, Turley is interesting (I apologized for my interest, did I not?), and he writes beautifully, using some marvelous analogies:

… We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. There has been a massive gravitational shift of authority to the Executive Branch that threatens
the stability and functionality of our tripartite system. To be sure, this shift did not begin with President Obama. However, it has accelerated at an alarming rate under this Administration. These changes are occurring in a political environment with seemingly little oxygen for dialogue, let alone compromise. Indeed, the current
anaerobic conditions are breaking down the muscle of the constitutional
system that protects us all. Of even greater concern is the fact that the other two branches appear passive, if not inert, as the Executive Branch has assumed such power. As someone who voted for President Obama and agrees with many of his policies, it is often hard to separate the ends from the means of presidential action. Indeed, despite decades of thinking and writing about the separation of powers, I have had momentary lapses where I privately rejoiced in seeing actions on goals that I share, even though they
were done in the circumvention of Congress.

There is no license in our system to act, as President Obama has promised, “with or without Congress” in these areas. During periods of political division, compromise is clearly often hard to come by. That reflects a divided country as a whole. Such opposition cannot be the justification for circumvention of the legislative branch. Otherwise, the separation of powers would only be respected to the extent that it
serves to ratify the wishes of a president …

MORE.


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Libertarians And The Sin Of Abstraction

Foreign Policy, libertarianism, Objectivism, Political Philosophy

On EPJ, “Presstitute-Cultivated Ignorance On Ukraine” has elicited one particularly typical libertarian response that demanded a reply. Here is the letter. My response follows below.

TonyFebruary 21, 2014 at 11:09 AM

I like the article overall, but there is too much government-concept worship.

Examples:

“Revered in the US, Pussy Riot is a punk rock Russian band of feminists, whose forté is breast-baring, defiling places of worship, punching the air while shrieking, “F-ck you Putin,” and participating in public-orgy protests and other criminal acts.”

Most of these would not be CLOSE to being “criminal acts” in a libertarian society. And they should not be considered such (by libertarians) in a statist one, with the exception of defiling places of worship.

“The “occupation of government buildings in Kiev and in Western Ukraine”

Oh so what…

“Having flouted America’s national interests and squandered Russian good will—the ignoramuses of the Beltway will have no place in this grand geopolitical realignment.”

There are no such things as “America’s national interests” within libertarian thought. It is a nationalist and collectivist concept.

MERCER Reply:

Nonsense. The article deals in reality, not in pie-in-the-sky libertarian theory. The sin of abstraction is just that: a grave sin. The article, moreover, is for adults, not for the childish libertarian who wishes to remain suspended forever in never-never land. The Pussy Riot retarded sisterhood defiled private property. They copulated in a public setting, paid for by taxpayers. Only a bad writer does a discursive detour into the various contingencies that would apply if we lived in a private-property anarcho-capitalistic society. We don’t! Grow up. Has nobody taught you kids how to stay on topic, or write without flights of fancy? I guess I’m old enough to remember being taught such discipline and learning it from my betters. Does one effect a realistic analysis, which entails the concept of the national interest (peace with Russia, non-interventionism, in this case), or does one twist into ideological pretzels in order to come down on the side of politically proper libertarianism? This column deals in reality. So should you. Deal with real life!


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Do You Hate ‘Dynamism’? Or Wonder WTF It Means?!

English, IMMIGRATION, Labor, libertarianism

Other than lite libertarian Virginia Postrel, who uses the word “dynamism”?

Ms. Postrel is an establishment-endorsed libertarian. A filament of the Postrel faith, expressed in her first book, “The Future and its Enemies,” is that all change is good, always. All that glitters is gold was the essence of Ms. Postrel’s second manifesto, “The Substance of Style.”

Profound stuff.

In any event, the answer to the question posed is George Will and a bunch of libertarian losers.

Will was lecturing radio host Laura Ingraham about the “economic dynamism” with which millions of low- or no skill illegal immigrants slated for amnesty will infuse the American workforce. (Not according to Harvard economist George Borjas.)

During this libertarian love-in at the border, the dynamism concept was deployed to libel those who’re not as hip about the proven miseries of diversity:

“They hate ‘dynamism’” was the phrase used 19 minutes into this broadcast.

Far and away more damning than the use of the cant phrase dynamism is the absence of intellectual oscillation among the participants. This anarchist “debate” reminds one of Dorothy Parker’s immortal words about Jack Kerouac and his buddies: “When they speak at all it is to tell each other how great they are.”

Popular Politics Internet Radio with Movement Radio on BlogTalkRadio

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