Steven Clyde joins us to discuss “First They Killed My Father” a 2017 biographical historical thriller film directed by Angelina Jolie currently available on Netflix. The story is about Loung Ung, based on her memoir detailing how she as a 5-year-old girl embarks on a harrowing quest for survival amid the sudden rise and terrifying reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
Steven writes for the site and is always has a fun and interesting take on all things related to liberty and Murray Rothbard. We would each other in the Tom Woods Elite last year and have become good friends.
Here is the recent article he referenced in our discussion:
Loung Ung is 5 years old when the Khmer Rouge assumes power over Cambodia in 1975. They soon begin a four-year reign of terror and genocide in which nearly 2 million Cambodians die. Forced from her family’s home in Phnom Penh, Ung is trained as a child soldier while her six siblings are sent to labor camps.
If your first thought is “well libertarians surely care about green!”, I’ll concede and state that this is the point of this article.
Humans, each with their own individual goals and interests, seek a better life for themselves and other people they care about. We are born into an impossible situation though, having signed a supposed “social contract” at birth which guilts us into thinking we owe something to future generations because of the sacrifices made in the past.
And thus lies the root of the problem: the confusion between positive and negative rights. Negative rights, justifiably, state that you as an individual have the right not to have force initiated against you and not to have your property confiscated from you, while positive rights, which state that things are owed to you or other people, is a fallacy of the highest degree and should be abhorred by anyone familiar with logic.
The logic for positive rights proceeds as follows:
Person A of the past, did something to help or to hurt person B in the past, and therefore person C in the present who either gained or lost because of person A and B’s interactions in the past, owes something to or gets to take away something from person D in the present or the future.
It should be obvious why this doesn’t make sense, because if it’s true that I’m a user today of say the internet and its true I’m a benefactor of this past invention, then it would seem to imply that I “owe” something to the internet. But I pay for my internet services because I value its use, so in what sense am I a free rider?
And furthermore, any argument could be thought up to imply I owe something to somebody or I get to take away something from somebody, because of someone’s actions in the past. Its so nonsensical that’s its difficult to sum up into words, because it can imply almost anything.
Libertarianism however gives the individual a voice though because they are not responsible for things of the past, only their actions in the present. It allows for people to be judged by their character, and not by a collective (namely the state). The core aspect of communism is egalitarian in nature, seeking total equality in horrors that’s have been lived through by millions in which attempts to banish individualism not only goes against human nature (people having dreams and goals) but specifically uses violence to achieve its means, an impossible means to achieve at that.
There have been several articles circulating stating that white nationalism (which I won’t be facetious and leave out that some were written by an Asian guy) isn’t incompatible with libertarianism, which on the surface of it appears to be true in that libertarianism does not tell you that you can’t exclude people from your own private property, whether it be a business or your private home. The reasons for exclusion can be grim or nonsensical even, but the logic still follows that private property allows for inclusion and exclusion. Continue reading “True Libertarianism Is Colorblind”
Murray Rothbard gave us some of the most profound insights in history, economics, sociology, etc., yet if you get to a point where you feel like he’s taught you everything you could possibly know, he surprises you once more. We often wonder where the roots of our libertarian philosophy come from, and not just from the perspective of the more recent centuries, but in regard to the progression of philosophical thought which led to the creation of economics.
While modern libertarianism was certainly founded in Murray’s living room, there is a lot more to the story.
In Economic Thought Before Adam Smith: Vol 1, a clear and concise analysis is given on the development of economic thought, in which most of the initial philosophical insights that led to the development of Western civilization over time came from the ancient cities of Greece.
There was the poet Hesiod who gave us some of the first insights into scarcity and how this relates to the plight of man. Democritus (c.460-c.370 BC), who gave us the idea of subjective value theory and was in favor of private property over communal property, noted that:
‘The same thing may be good and true for all men, but the pleasant differs from one and another’ . 
Plato (c.428-c.374 BC) had many statist tendencies which he outlined in The Republic and The Laws, which described his idea of a Greek polis (city) where philosophers and soldiers would rule over the labourers, peasants, and merchants. Somehow, Plato still managed to understand the role of the division of labor, despite the fact that he wanted a static economy with little to no innovation. Xenophon (430-354 BC), a follower of Plato, still managed to distinguish that in large cities people were often able to get by on a single trade, while those living in smaller towns relied on being a “jack of all trades” to get by; this showed his consciousness of supply and demand, which Plato lacked with his ideas of communalism.
Aristotle (384-322), a great proponent of private property, disagreed with his teacher Plato on the idea of communal property. Instead he argued that private property is interwoven into our human nature and therefore gives us the ability to act morally and compassionately, versus being coerced. Though he was not in favor of limiting a person’s private property per se, he stressed the idea of reciprocity in any exchange. To him, it was unjust for any person to get the short end of the stick in a transaction, which led to his overall confusion on money (e.g. Shoes traded for a house must be based on a builder to shoemaker ratio). Later libertarian theorists like Rothbard corrected this idea, because in order for an exchange to take place at all, one must value their current possession less than what they’re receiving in return. It wouldn’t make sense to trade $5, for $5, yet Aristotle’s contradiction went unnoticed for centuries to come. Continue reading “Taoists: The World’s First Libertarians”
In the City and County of Denver, all types of fireworks are banned. You didn’t misread that: ALL TYPES.
Citizens are urged to pick up the phone and report any suspicious activity they see. Yes, they are urging your neighbors to have the government come kidnap you and steal your money for partaking in something we’ve all participated in at one point or another for generations.
Yet it doesn’t stop most people from doing it. There are still locations where you can buy fireworks (from places with permits which ill describe below), and people set them off on places from sidewalks, to parks, to you name it: the police drive around and bust hardly anybody. I can attest myself, because last year I bought a common pack of multiple fireworks and set them off on the sidewalk, while many officers drove by and did nothing. That’s how it should be, though technically I could’ve been fined or worse.
Coming from the east coast myself, setting off fireworks on the 4th of July was just a tradition. If there is at least one tradition that’s worthy of being celebrated, our unprecedented independence from the British tyranny of taxation and coercion from an oppressive King is of that nature. The fact that we (ironically ) took our independence for granted and set up an ever growing state with a constitution full of “implied powers” is something we talk about here all the time at Actual Anarchy. So we aren’t sucking up to state traditions, but we do believe in freedom.
If you grew up in the 90’s, and were lucky enough to have access to TV without your parents around, you may have watched Jerry Springer in all its glory.
From girls in the audience flashing their breasts in exchange for bead necklaces, to fights breaking out on stage after a “ding ding” sounds off to start them, to Jerry himself throwing out his opinions in the matters, it made some of us feel like our lives were that much more “normal”.
But what of Jerry to call out ANYONE, even Trump, for a lack of dignity? Ben Shapiro, the sometimes good friend of freedom, had a funny response:
Springer was elected to the Cincinnati city council in 1971. He resigned in 1974 after admitting to hiring a prostitute. The episode was uncovered when a police raid on a Fort Wright, Kentucky massage parlor found a check Springer had written pinned to a wall in their office with “for services rendered” written in the memo.
In the midst of the hearsay of the common babbler, we time and time again find instances of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. To the dismay of scholars and people of the like who have an unquenchable lust for the truth there is no shortage of deranged talking points which not only have zero basis in reality but also fails to recognize its abhorrent contradiction of itself.
In Plato’s provocative work Allegory of the Cave , he described a fictitious instance in which there were subject humans who spent their entire lives in a dark cave tied down while staring at a wall of the cave, and there was a fire behind them which cast shadows on the wall. All they ever saw their entire lives were shadow figures made from people behind them. When one of them is released in the the real world, they are in disbelief; there is a sun that casts bright light and things have texture, appearance, a feeling, there are many sounds, etc.
Plato describes that, its impossible for the other subjects back at the cave to understand what the subject who was freed was really saying to them, and furthermore described the freed subject as insane. Though controversial as a philosopher, Plato offered us a great insight that any of us can ponder on: its impossible to comprehend the unseen. And within the realm of logic and economics, its impossible to comprehend what you don’t know.
This situation I describe here is of that of someone who quite literally, cannot comprehend economic theory, and their argument fails from every angle. A friend online asked her for data showing that raising the minimum wage helps businesses and the local economy, and this was the response he was given:
The 1960’s saw a mass uprising in the public interest of pollution ranging from the smut of factories, lead in gasoline that powered cars, and pesticides (mainly insecticides).
Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring is considered one of the greatest science books of all time, and even today it’s held in high regard for its influence in expanding government powers to regulate the protection of our environment as it became clear through media that the free market was unfit to solve these problems themselves, or so they believed.
She argued that pesticides in general have devastating effects on the environment because they end up wiping out more than intended. There was also the claim that the chemical DDT caused cancer, in which she said:
“In laboratory tests on animal subjects, DDT has produced suspicious liver tumors. Scientists of the Food and Drug Administration who reported the discovery of these tumors were uncertain how to classify them, but felt there was some “justification for considering them low grade hepatic cell carcinomas.” Dr. Hueper [author of Occupational Tumors and Allied Diseases] now gives DDT the definite rating of a “chemical carcinogen.”
During the 60’s and 70’s, many pieces of legislation were passed. With the Air Pollution Act of 1955, the Clean Air Act 1963, and the Air Quality Act of 1967, research into pollution had finally been done at the federal level. From there the Clean Air Act of 1970 passed with the addition of four government regulation programs known as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), State Implementation Plans (SIPs), New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs). 
In the 1940’s, efforts to boost tax revenues reached moral lows. The general public, being duped from all angles, managed to file taxes in higher proportions by the end of World War II then in all of prior history. The effects of the propaganda of the 1940’s was that it got nearly every worker on board with the idea that paying their taxes was a duty, and more eerily a “privilege”.
This clip from December 9th, 1941 has FDR on record saying quote:
“It is not a sacrifice for the industrialist or the wage earner, the farmer or the shopkeeper, the praying man or for the doctor to pay more taxes, to buy more bonds, to forego extra profits, to work longer and harder at the task for which he is best fitted; rather, it is a privilege.”
We see a similar pattern in World War I with regards to an increase in people filing for taxes, but focusing on the era of World War II and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency we notice something completely different.
The struggle to fund World War II led to the most desperate attempts of persuading the general public, from FDR’s fireside chats speaking of how paying taxes is a “privilege”, to the introduction of the withholdings tax in which Americans would have the taxes they owe siphoned off from the employers to the government throughout the year to avoid paying a lump sum on March 15th.
The third tactic?
After what happened with World War I and the doubling of prices from a military budget constricted to a limited amount of taxes, the government came up with these seemingly foolproof schemes. To even our current dismay in the 21st century where over 90% of people file their taxes on average, it was heavily effective at getting people to file taxes. With a dramatic increase from 13.6% having filed at the beginning of the war to 84.6% having filed by the end of the war, the propaganda was indeed successful.
But alas, brainwashing kids is wrong, correct? It couldn’t be possible that say Walt Disney Productions had a knack for getting the “patriotic” message sent through in the form of a cartoon. In fact, by 1942 over 90% of Disney’s staff were devoted to pumping out propaganda films for different sectors of the government and military. The Navy alone had ordered over 50 films to be produced. To those who may have noticed how our society and media can somewhat be cartoonish, it’s no surprise that much of our history is riddled with misinformation in the form of cartoons.
“But you must save for tax time…this is your war!” says the patriotic duck!
“Money, get away. Get a good job with more pay and you’re O.K.
Money, it’s a gas, grab that cash with both hands and make a stash. New car, caviar, four star daydream. Think I’ll buy me a football team.
Money, get back. I’m all right, Jack, keep your hands off of my stack.
Money, it’s a hit. Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit. I’m in the hi-fi fidelity first class traveling set. And I think I need a Lear jet.
Money, it’s a crime. Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie.
Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today. But if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away.”
Money is one of the most misunderstood facets of our personal lives, and we spend a large portion of our existence attempting to acquire more of it. Furthermore, the general public lacks a realistic sense of the world we live in based on media propaganda and misinformation spread through the lens of “conventional wisdom”; so it’s no mystery why there exists this gap of knowledge.
Still it must be true that at least some of us realize in some aspect that this same thing we use every day is exorbitantly complex in nature. Does the average citizen really know what the Federal Reserve is? What a reserve ratio is? What inflation is (beyond the thought of their price of living rising)? Should they be expected to?
To quote Murray Rothbard from a 1970 piece when he was attacking the Anarcho-Communist school of thought, which was heavily attracting Marxist-Stalinists at the time:
“It is no accident that it was precisely the economists in the Communist countries who led the rush away from communism, socialism, and central planning, and toward free markets. It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance. Yet this sort of aggressive ignorance is inherent in the creed of anarcho-communism.”
Yet, to this day most have not even the slightest interest in economics or history, yet take positions which would have to imply they are masters of both.
Before we examine money in full, a few examples of how our thinking is heavily influenced by information that is false will illustrate why it’s critical to dissect these assertions. There will never come a time when it won’t be important to stress the pontifications of the main stream media, and their half-truths.