A Few Costs of War: Part 1

By Steven Clyde


There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making. Hell’s bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?

– General Smedley Butler, War is a Racket (1935)

The second lesson of economics—after scarcity is recognized as the first—is cost. There are costs in relation to everything we do.[1]

For example, if I spend $10 on a new hat, I am giving up everything else I could have purchased: a quality burger and fries, a cheap watch, a CD, two $5 scratch-offs, etc. But considering the first lesson of politics is to ignore the first lesson of economics, it is no surprise that the second lesson of economics is treated as non-existent.[2]

On January 17th, 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his farewell speech, which was a warning we still ignore to this day:

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peace time, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea. Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.[3]


General Smedley Butler, who at the time of his death was the most decorated Marine in the military, took part in missions throughout countries such as Cuba, the Philippines, China, Nicaragua, etc. In his 34 years of service not only did he witness massive amounts of waste, but he took note of the deception that arose out of the military-industrial complex. During the early 1930’s Butler gave a speech across the country titled “War is a Racket,” which he later went on to publish as a small book in 1935.

Continue reading “A Few Costs of War: Part 1”

“They” Don’t Care

By Steven Clyde


Those that favor State power don’t care about the well-being of the population. They do however care about the type of person they want to see evolve through their utopian planning while rejecting all other forms of human development.

Even John Maynard Keynes, a harsh critic of the unregulated economy, understood this to some extent:

But apart from this contemporary mood, the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.[1]



He then goes on to say:

. . .for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest.[2]

Continue reading ““They” Don’t Care”

Liberty and Violence: A Paradox

By Steven Clyde


The World Health Organization, though incorrectly identifying “self-harm” as a form of violence[1], provides an otherwise laudable definition of violence:

the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation[2]

The question of primacy then for libertarians as it relates to liberty is as follows:

“Is using violence against non-violent individuals ever justified?”

A common argument is that violence is warranted when used to retrieve stolen property or to mitigate the acts of being defrauded. These examples still beg the original question, as both stealing and defrauding property are considered a form of violence itself; theft is clearly deprivation; theft is clearly intentional.

However, when “defensive violence” becomes conflated with“aggressive violence”, it becomes an obvious concealment for the true intent of the aggressors.

For example, if Robinson Crusoe shows up on an island and claims a coconut tree for himself (among many), and someone else shows up and tries to claim the same tree, it would be argued that “Crusoe is inherently violent. If someone seeks to access “his” tree”, which is given to all of us by nature, he will use violence.”

It is not asked, however, “why is person B attempting to use the tree Crusoe has claimed and begun to care for when 1.) there are plenty of other trees around to homestead, and other islands for that matter and 2.) it has been expressed that conflict will unnecessarily arise.

It cannot be taken seriously that there is real concern over scarce resources being oppressively utilized, but only that a desire to encourage conflict is prevalent in the first place; the lust of another’s source of happiness, in other words, seeks to downplay the sacrifices and time preferences of people enhancing their lives.

Yet many examples exist outside of Crusoe’s fictitious island.

Continue reading “Liberty and Violence: A Paradox”

Socrates: The Suicide That Led to The Social Contract

By Steven Clyde

*This piece is a subchapter for my upcoming book “My Government!”*


This ancient idea of the social contract dates back to Ancient Greece where it was first established as a philosophical idea, and from there it was set to take foot in any society that reminisced in the work of these ancient philosophers. It is no surprise that Athens between the 3rd to 6th centuries gave us many of the ideas that developed the framework of the Western world and where the modern state as we know it is derived. Pre-Socratic philosophers such as Thales of Miletus[1] (624 BC-546BC), Pythagoras[2](570BC-495BC), Parmenides[3](510-540BC[4] – Death Unknown), etc., paved the way for the prospects of reason and logic as fundamental ideas to adhere to over mystical figures as their guiding source of wisdom. We would consider these thinkers cosmologists in that they sought to find objective truths that tie the universe together.

Socrates

Socrates (469 BC-399 BC), a remarkable figure and thinker born and raised in Athens, Greece, never wrote anything down, yet he was very much interested in the individual and justice. Unlike the pre-Socratics who again held closely to views of cosmology, Socrates was also a fan of the sophists and the types of questions they were asking as he was very outspoken about public affairs and what was happening within the polis. Though never holding a professional teaching position, he was open to be a teacher and speak to whomever was open to a dialogue, and through his teachings he gave birth to a new era of thought in history.


For the history you didn’t learn in school, check out Liberty Classroom:

Get the equivalent of a Ph.D. in libertarian thought and free-market economics online for just 24 cents a day….

A significant point he stressed was that the individual is to decide right and wrong for themselves, and that immoral and unjust acts can only come out of a state of ignorance. Though we know that to be untrue in that smart and evil people are commonplace, he nevertheless had faith in the individual and thought the mind mattered much more than stigmas; in fact he often refused to give his students answers as he wanted them to figure things out for themselves. Continue reading “Socrates: The Suicide That Led to The Social Contract”

Episode 43 – First They Killed My Father (1:32:27)

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:

True Libertarianism Is Colorblind

Google Description:

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.

Continue reading “Episode 43 – First They Killed My Father (1:32:27)”

True Libertarianism Is Colorblind

By Steven Clyde


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.

Lysander: “Where in the world is the Social Contract?”

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”

Taoists: The World’s First Libertarians

By Steven Clyde


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[1] 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)[2], 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’ . [3]

Plato

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

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”

Fireworks Tyranny: Denver Police Department Style

By Steven Clyde


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.

And more simply put: watching things blow up in the sky is  awesome! Continue reading “Fireworks Tyranny: Denver Police Department Style”

That Feeling When Jerry Springer Calls You Out On Your “Dignity”

By Steven Clyde


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:

Pot, meet Kettle.

Just to put that into perspective:

Dignity….riiiiiiight.

Just a snippet from Springer’s illustrious past:

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.

Not that this should be a crime.

What Better Way To Help People Pay Their Bills Than Unemployment!

By Steven Clyde


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:

Okay, so lets break that down. Continue reading “What Better Way To Help People Pay Their Bills Than Unemployment!”