Humanitarian Wars can be Unjust too

Humanitarian Wars can be Unjust too.

[Originally posted at Notes on Liberty]

If you hate evils committed by individuals as much as you hates evils committed by institutions, and vice versa, as I think most people who are even remotely libertarian — wait, no! remotely human! — do, does it truly follow that you must condone one in order to combat the other? Maybe it does, at least in the short term, in a place and time where relationships between all these things have been so distorted. In this case, the distortion is caused primarily by the monopolization of not only judicious force, but very nearly all force, initiative and responsive, at every level, by a single institution (with many manifestations and interlocking jurisdictions). If you haven’t guessed already, that institution is the state. Continue reading

One Year Later at PTPOL

One Year Later at PTPOL.

Well, this blog has been registered at WordPress.com for one year now. It took a while to get it off the ground, but it hit the ground running. (How’s that for a mixed – and contradictory – metaphor, by the way?) Click here to learn more about the blog, and here to learn a little bit about it’s author.

140 posts, 6,602 views, 482 comments, 200 WordPress likes, 192 Facebook likes, 54 followers on WordPress, 1150 followers on Twitter.

Not bad for an amateur one-man team, right? Well, its the readers that are more to thank. Without them there really is no point in writing.

Continue reading

Patriotism versus Nationalism (versus Internationalism?)

Patriotism versus Nationalism (versus Internationalism?).

Also syndicated here.

Patriotism to me can be a love for the place where one lives, which need not necessarily exhibit irrational feelings of superiority or inherent exceptionalism. It also can mean a love for the exceptionalism (which may be incidental or dependent on factors other than race and geography) of a culture, often within geographical confines. It can extend to a willingness to die to preserve the place or the ideas in question. Patriotism can manifest itself in both agreement and dissent.

Nationalism, on the other hand, is blind love for a specific geographical or racial entity for irrational reasons, such as perceived inherent superiority or traditional feuding. Most often it is manifested in a subtle form of groupthink, the consequences of not conforming to include: ostracism, ridicule, bigotry, prohibitions of expressions of culture or language, and even confiscation of property. In extreme forms, and much less subtle, overt violence and genocide. It is often mixed with or perhaps intentionally covered by higher ideals. Democracy. Social justice. Equality. Brotherhood. Humanity. Liberty. To this extent is has an appeal with both the base and the virtuous, and is thus pervasive and not even all those who hold some of the views (for very few hold all of them) realize where they originate, or what their intended purposes are in the form they are presented.

Both ideas rest on that of taste. One acknowledges it as a personal preference and in relations with others it either defends from attacks (ideally not overreacting) or promotes its underlying ideas through persuasion and not force, and the other (according to its own idealism, though not always according to the practice of its leaders) seeks to foist it equally upon all (assuming, of course, you are one of the ones it suffers to live), the consequences and human rights be damned.

According to these definitions, which are my own but not too far distant from how they are defined by others, individual persons and conventions of persons, experts in fields and students of ideas, nationalism is very much the more problematic of the two.

And if you break it down further this is true for two reasons. One is the way it treats outsiders (geographical foreigners, ethnic inferiors, and so on). The other is the way it treats its own. Eliminating nationalism and replacing it with a generic internationalism (some would call this world government) only eradicates the first problem in the best case scenario. A highly decentralized internationalism (some would call this globalization) would go a long way towards reducing, and in some cases eliminating, both problems.

Amongst those that agree that globalization (even those afraid to use the word for fear of being associated with, or who recognize that the word has been misused by; those who either openly embrace, or whose proposals and ideas in some way perpetuate; world government) is a good idea, there is some disagreement about the way to go about it. I won’t go into arguments for or against (uni/bi/multi)lateral/free/managed trade or international law as it pertains to evident violations of human rights or other controversial subjects with well meaning and intelligent individuals on either side of the argument. I would instead like to delineate between potent attempts at world government and relatively impotent (but still menacing in their own right) attempts.

In the first category (potent) I would put imperialism, where it should be obvious that internationalism is in fact just nationalism applied to the world stage. Attempts such as this never fully succeed (partly because they may not really be conscious of what they are doing, or if they are, may have different goals in mind than that of tyrannizing the globe) in subjugating the entire world, but are potent in the sense that they cause much suffering and disorder and do so under a gradually increasing authority (in terms of both power and geography).

Also there is mercantilism. This often goes hand in hand with imperialism. Sometimes they have the same origin. Other times they just “benefit” from each other. And still there may be some combination thereof. In a sense, aspects of it have been practiced by every “traditional” empire going back to the Sumerians, but not until the rise of the modern, benevolent, humanitarian nations did it come into its own. France, Britain, the United States. And though not “true” mercantlism in the sense of application to one nation, several aspects of it have been incorporated into the cooperative efforts of the civilized nations (treaties and alliances; NATO being a prime example, the IMF another).

I wouldn’t even rule transnational corporations (in some instances being creations of, though not always faithful servants to, the state) and Non-Government Organizations out of having at least a small part in this category (potent attempts at world government), but at the present I would like to refrain from theorizing about possible conspiracies.

In the second category (impotent) I would put such things as failed attempts at international cooperation. Take the League of Nations or the United Nations. I do not deny that they were/are to be feared. But the reason has more to do with the stupidity and inefficiency of bureaucracy than it does the greed or violence of imperialism. But more than that it is not so much the bodies themselves that should be of concern, but rather the ways they may be used by the member nations in their imperialistic and mercantilistic endeavors. 

Things such as the World Trade Organization I would have a hard time categorizing. Besides, as I said, I do not wish to formulate arguments on the issue of trade nor delve into conspiracy theories.

New Discovery: Jacques Delacroix (I had not read his piece in its entirety until moments ago, so I hope no one thinks I wrote this as some sort of response to it) goes into all of this as well (I had no idea until, for the purpose of seeing what others had to say on the subject I did a search for “WTO” on my friend Brandon Christensen’s blog), but is far less charitable to these types than I am (I think mirroring his overall more establishmentarian variant of libertarianism).

Anyways, at this stage I am not a flag burner. But neither am I a flag worshipper. At the present, this one will do:

File:Flag of Montana 1905.svg

Happy Armistice Day

Happy Armistice Day.

Please read it here.

That’s what it’s actually called. I have no problem with honoring veterans, per se, although taken to the logical extreme someone who volunteers for an unjust war is either ignorant or evil. Here are possible exceptions:

First exception. The war itself was not unjust. Therefore, the individual soldiers that fought in it may have been genuinely fulfilling a moral duty to protect them and theirs. A just war is a defensive war. There are many scenarios that could lead to a defensive war, not all of which necessarily require being fired upon first. But outside of the most obvious reason for going to war defensively, in retaliation or defense against invasion or attack, the legitimacy of the reasons for going to war come into play. Especially in the context of previous wars of aggression.

Consider this scenario: Iraq is alleged to have weapons of mass destruction that they intend to use against the United States, either directly against the homeland or against Americans abroad (let us ignore for now the fact that many Americans “abroad” have no business being so in the first place), or in conjunction with terrorists who intend to do the same. So we go to war against them only to later find out three things: there were no WMDs (that really does depend on how that term was defined), there were no intentions to attack America or Americans, and there were no ties to terrorists with a focus on attacking the United States or its citizens.

More than a decade later we find the exact same people making the exact same claims about Iran. This should lead us to a question: even if they are right (there is simply no reason to believe that they are as not only are they proven liars and have obvious conflicts of interest, but the facts point in the opposite direction than that which they would lead us), Would that war be just?

Of course that war would be just. But because of past deviations from a just and peaceful and honest foreign policy, there is simply no reason to risk it without actual proof first. Some worry that that proof might come in the form of a dirty bomb. Others in the form of a warhead sent right into the US or a region heavily populated with Americans. And others still in the form of an attack against our “ally” Israel.

The first possibility is not absurd, per se, but because of how tenuous it is, it in and of itself is not a justification for war. If there was a legitimate fear of that sort of thing happening, it would easily be prevented, then the answer is not going to war but security checks. And if it did happen, it was because there was no real effort made to prevent it, in which case the indication should be that the players would not have been known, as the attack itself was not ofreseen. The second and third possibilities truly are absurd, as there are such things as nuclear defense shields. The US and Israel both have that area covered. Further, there is the possibility of retaliation. For those that maintain that the Iranians just want to see the world go up and smoke and don’t mind dying to accomplish that, the idea of retaliation is not an objection to their fears. But it is still a losing battle for the Iranians. More than that, its a battle in which they wouldn’t even be able to land a blow.

And the possibility of an attack on Israel is the most absurd of all. And not because it can’t or won’t happen, but because it truly is none of our concern. Some think it is cruel to say such things, and not just because they are our “ally”, but because they are human beings. They might even be right were it not for the fact that Israel can and will take care of itself and doesn’t even need our help (though some interests in that nation and in ours will see to it that we are permanently entangled, and not always with simplistic or well-understood motives).

Second exception. The soldiers were drafted. This is slavery. There may have been ways for them to avoid this draft, but it won’t have been without its own set of risks. Some might feel it is better to go “over there” and risk their lives than it is to be in hiding the rest of their days and risk not only their lives, but their livelihoods, and to disquiet the lives or comforts of their families. Whether this line of thinking is right or not, and regardless of which route they take, they are no less victims for it.

Third exception. The soldiers volunteered on their own terms rather than be drafted on the state’s terms. There was a draft in effect, but in order to avoid getting the short end of the stick, they volunteered knowing the deal they got would not be quite so raw. Just as with the draftees, they are forced to choose between two choices, neither of which is entirely moral on their part and neither of which is moral at all on the state’s part. Thus, they are, once again, the victims.

Fourth exception. The soldiers volunteered in a time of peace expecting that their duly elected representatives would only send them to die for a just cause. But then an unjust war is waged and they have no choice but to serve or become a fugitive. This applies to the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, and the US Air Force (although it is worth noting the Air Force is unconstitutional.)

Fifth exception. The soldiers volunteered for a branch of the service that is only called forth for combat duty in a time of invasion or rebellion, but then are sent to combat in a foreign land against which the United States is the clear aggressor. This applies to the various National Guard groups.

Of course, one can question the idea of a “public” military itself. But it is reasonable that so long as the Westphalian Nation State is the prime mode of political organization and that citizens a part of and within that paradigm are in need of protection that can not be adequately provided (in theory they could, but such a society does not exist yet) in some other way, that the state-controlled standing army is a necessary evil that can, and has at times, been used in a moral way, even with a nonvolunteer force. Though this in no way cancels out the underlying violation of rights that such systems of defense (and offense) are predicated on in the first place.

So, join with me to celebrate the Armistice that was declared to end the Great War. That war in which many men were enthralled and then brutally murdered. That war which ever since, every US-involved conflict can be easily traced to the entanglements that arose therefrom. And if you know a veteran, you might even consider understanding his story before you either thank him or condemn him.

Veterans Day, as it is now called, has become just another excuse to get into a flag waving frenzy and to feel good about things that perhaps no one should be feeling good about. But if you’ve read what I’ve written, don’t take this day for granted. Rather, commemorate the day in the way it was intended. Reflectively. Soberly. With an eye towards peace.

Who and What I am Voting for (and against) in Montana Tomorrow.

Who and What I am Voting for (and against) in Montana Tomorrow.

already posted about some of the federal and state level candidates I will NOT be voting for tomorrow. I did not cover all of them though, just the worst offenders. So in addition to saying who I WILL be voting for, there are additional rationales for other not previously mentioned that I am not voting for. So here’s what my ballot will look like tomorrow:

President: Write in Ron Paul.

Vice President: Write in Andrew Napolitano.

Senator: Write in Dennis Teske.

Congressman: Write in Vincent Melkus.

Governor: Write in Bob Fanning or Ken Miller.

Secretary of State: Write in Drew Turiano, who said he would refuse to certify Max Baucus in 2014. Not Republican Brad Johnson, who is otherwise decent but refuses to apply the Montana Constitution to Senator Max Baucus, who has violated it in regards to term limits. But at one time I considered Libertarian Roger Roots (most Montana Libertarians are questionable, but Mr. Roots was someone I trusted for a long time.

Attorney General: Vote for Republican Tim Fox. The only other person running is a Democrat and Tim’s opponent in the GOP primary was nothing special.

State Auditor: Vote for Republican Derek Skees.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Vote for Republican Sandy Welch, even though it would be more satisfactory to write a note saying “abolish the public school system!”

Public Service Commissioner: Vote for Republican Kirk Bushman.

Clerk of the Supreme Court: Vote for Libertarian Mike Fellows. There is no Republican running, only a Democrat.

Supreme Court Justice #5: It is hard to pin these people down on the issues, so I may just write in a random name or pick Ed Sheehy instead of Laurie McKinnon. I did vote for Sheehy in the Primary after all.

Supreme Court Justice #6: Vote NO to retain him. No particular reason.

District Court Judge, District 13, Department 1: Vote NO to retain her. No particular reason.

District Court Judge, District 13, Department 2: Vote YES to retain him. We know him personally, which is the reason. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Nepotism.

District Court Judge, District 13, Department 3: Vote YES to retain her. She presided over a case my Dad was involved in and even though all that legal business can be annoying, expensive, and time-consuming, she handled the case well.

Clerk of District Court: Vote for Republican Kristie Lee Boelter.

County Commissioner District #3: Vote for Republican Joan Micheletti.

County Clerk and Recorder/Surveyor: Vote for Republican Jeff Martin. He is the only person running anyways.

I am just going to vote straight down the Republican ticket for State Senator District 22, State Representative District 44.

As for ballot issues I will vote:

FOR denying certain state services to illegal aliens. I don’t even think hardly any legal residents or citizens should get most state services. Voting FOR will save money.

FOR prohibiting the state or federal government from mandating the purchase of health insurance or imposing penalties for decisions related to purchasing health insurance. Voting FOR will save money.

FOR Senate Bill 423, a bill which repeals I-148 and enacts a new medical marijuana program. This one basically makes it easier for people who can prove they need it as medicine to get it, and harder for people who don’t need it. I am for full drug legalization on the national level, but for now at least am content let some of them to be prohibited and/or strictly regulated at the state level. Whether the FOR or AGAINST prevails, medical marijuana will still be in effect, just differently. My Dad voted AGAINST this, but he now says he wish he voted FOR it. Voting FOR may actually cost more than voting AGAINST, so that was something to consider.

FOR charging Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, with implementing a policy that corporations are NOT human beings with constitutional rights. This one is a touchy issue. On the one hand, a corporation is simply a voluntary group of individuals who ARE entitled to the freedom to associate, the freedom of speech, as well as a whole host of unremunerated freedoms loosely outlined in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. But on the other hand corporations are state sponsored, state protected entities that are already “entitled” to more benefits than actual breathing human citizens are. Until there is full equality (i.e., a corporation can be thrown in jail if it commits the same crimes as an actual person, there are no tax loopholes on the federal, state, or any other level, etc.), I do not feel that these otherwise tolerable entities have human rights. Dad voted AGAINST this but I am voting FOR it. Voting FOR does not seem to have any financial effect on the average Montanan or Montana tax revenue. But it will help to keep politicians from lining their pockets. Besides, this is not all that is at stake. In theory, this is a states’ rights issue and Montana, for right or for wrong, is standing up to the corrupt Supreme Court of the United States, who (I just gotta get my digs in) are total scumbags.

From the Comments: Loose Fiscal and Monetary Policy is the Cause of the Problem, not the Solution

From the Comments: Loose Fiscal and Monetary Policy is the Cause of the Problem, not the Solution.

There is a comment on one of my posts. It is really off-subject, but since I rarely get comments that aren’t pure spam (I even suspect that the comment in question is cleverly disguised spam), and since it is something that I talk about here on the site, replying to it and bringing it to my readers’ attention seemed like a good option. I don’t do this with all of the comments, just the ones that give me a clear opportunity to get a point across. It is probably bad blogger etiquette to do it at all, but at the moment I am working on several fairly extensive projects so I need a quick and easy post.

Mercadee: We have used both monetary and fiscal policy to battle this recession, and without the Fed’s actions to limit the downturn things would have been much worse. Fiscal policy in the form of the stimulus package, though too little, too late, and too tilted towards tax cuts, also helped to limit the damage to the economy. But when it comes to promoting a faster recovery, both monetary and fiscal policymakers have failed to do enough to help the economy return to full employment.

Me: Wrong! You are suggesting that policymakers should do those things which brought about the bubbles in the first place. What caused the depressions of 1920-1921 and 1930-45, and what made the latter one so long that did not occur in the case of the former? Loose fiscal and monetary policy. Stimulus to fund World War One, stimulus to pay off debts accrued from World War One, stimulus to fund public works projects, and stimulus to fund World War Two. What caused the housing bubble and its burst? The malinvestment that arose from the stimulative monetary and fiscal policy that was supposedly necessary to soften the blow of the dot-com burst, which was itself the result of prior loose policies. And here you are arguing for the same thing again. This time the bubbles are in student loans, car loans, and sovereign debt. It would be fine if there was a never ending series of bubbles that could burst and re-inflate, but there isn’t. Sovereign debt and government bonds are the end of the line. When that bubble bursts it will destroy the dollar, as the bubble and the false confidence it gave rise to is the only thing that has been propping it up. What gave rise to this bubble? There are many factors, and I suspect that, unlike the case of the other bubbles, this one was intended. Whether it is/was the Nixon Shock and completely detaching from a commodity standard; or wars for oil (the first one arguably being World War Two, as evidenced by the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, but perhaps more notable than this being the 1953 coup in Iran); or the creation of Bretton Woods in 1945; or the creation of the Fed in 1913; or the strengthening of the Fed in 1917; or the price controls and confiscation of gold in 1933; or the social programs and public works projects that created the current high levels of National Debt and Unfunded Liabilities, leading to the need to print more unbacked dollars; that is/was the chief cause I know not. And I care not as they are all contributing factors and all were misguided policies. The effects of these policies must be diminished. And similar policies must be prevented.