The Not-So-Civil War Podcasts

Professor CJ of the Dangerous History podcast has been providing an excellent series of podcasts on the U.S. Civil War, entitled “The Not-So-Civil War”.  As a libertarian, he provides a fair and critical treatment to both the North and the South.

If you’re a lover of both podcasts and the Civil War, I strongly encourage you to listen to this series from the beginning, and subscribe to his podcast.

The Not-So-Civil War Part 1

The Not-So-Civil War Part 2

The Not-So-Civil War Part 3

The Not-So-Civil War Part 4

The Not-So-Civil War Part 5

The Not-So-Civil War Part 6

The Praxeology of Coercion

In the Winter 2016 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Rahim Taghizadegan and Marc-Felix Otto discuss how a “violence cycle theory” can be built upon the study of how people obtain goods through coercion.

ABSTRACT: As the first application of the praxeological discipline of “Cratics” (Taghizadegan and Otto, 2015), a theory of the supply and demand of bads is developed. On this foundation, a violence cycle theory will be introduced in analogy to the praxeological business cycle theory (according to Ludwig von Mises). Central to this approach are the subjective perceptions of threats and possible bluffs regarding the backing of those threats. Such a violence cycle theory can explain the stability of structures of violence and reveal new interpretations of the “long peace” hypothesis.

Comparing violence cycle theory to business cycle theory

Taghizadegan and Otto make an interesting parallel Austrian business cycle theory and their violence cycle theory.

Austrian business cyle theory

According to Austrian economics, an economy is best coordinated when its participants are able to freely buy and sell goods to whomever they want. That way, the goods that are available, and the prices at which they’re offered, meet the most urgently-felt needs of consumers. That includes the availability of money, the price of which is the interest rate. When market participants are unencumbered, there is sound coordination not only between buyers and sellers, but also between present consumption and anticipated future consumption.

However, according to ABCT, when interest rates are brought down (through whatever means) to encourage lending, a tension arises between present consumption and anticipated future consumption. Capital projects that create the business cycle boom are built on the assumption that future consumption will support its financing, when that isn’t the case. When it becomes clear that those projects will not become profitable, the bust occurs, resulting in a recession, which is necessary to bring the economy back into proper alignment.

Violence cycle theory

In an earlier paper, Taghizadegan and Otto developed the praxeological discipline of “cratics”, which is a theory of the supply and demand of “bads”. A bad is a negative outcome that a person would experience if it occured. Person X would threaten person Y with bad outcome B unless Y provides X with good G instead. Rather than an economic exchange, through which both parties would benefit, it would be a “cratic” (or in Franz Oppenheimer’s framework, political) exchange, though which the negative utility of giving up good G is less than the negative utility of experiencing bad B.

One consequence of the political “transaction”, should Y believe that X is willing to carry out the threat, is that person Y feels aggreived because of the harm X inflicted upon him. However, if X continues to feel comfortable threatening Y to receive more goods from him, that sense of feeling persecuted will grow.

Absent such persecution, if people were able to interact with other on a voluntary basis, there wouldn’t be a developed sense of injustice among a certain group of people. While one person may have a claim against another person because of a particular wrong, freely developed dispute resolution procedures should allow those specific people to address that issue.

However, if a class of people were capable of extracting resources from the rest of the population by invoking a constant threat of punishment for noncompliance, this provides the conditions for developing a “violence cycle”. On the surface, there is very little overt violence in the community. However, as time passes, the population’s trust in its overlords diminishes. Once it evaporates, there is a significant risk of a violent backlash.

Today’s cratic “booms”

If we applied this line of reasoning to today’s political environment, one can see at least two cratic “booms”: the pervasive leftism in Western governments, and American foreign policy.

We can also see the beginnings of backlashes against both booms. With regard to Western leftism, Brexit, the election of Trump, and central Europe’s pushback against Europe receiving enormous waves of migrants are the early, crude reactions to an ideology that seeks that subsume people into an increasingly centralized, government-coordinated society. Similarly, Russia, China, and militant Islam are reacting against an American foreign policy that assumes that the planet is a mere object with which to manipulate.

A promising theoretical development

Taghizadegan’s and Otto’s development of a violence cycle theory is, indeed, a promising one. Among other things, it bolsters my thought that Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory, which studies how people develop their desires through identifying the desires of their models, can both inform and reinforce praxeology. By further exploring praxeology in general, and cratics in particular, hopefully there can arise a scientific language that will reinforce the urgent need for people to interact peacefully with one another so that everyone may prosper and flourish.

Vault 7 Watch: Wikileaks discloses CIA’s tools to disguise their hacks as Russian, Chinese, Arabic…

ZeroHedge reported today that Wikileaks has released another batch of Vault 7 documents that show how the CIA disguise their hacks with code fragments in foreign languages. Wikileaks describes the tools in its press release this way:

The source code shows that Marble has test examples not just in English but also in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi. This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion, — but there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages.

Marble 1.0 began in 2015, and was being used in 2016.

Marble was one among many sets of tools designed to obfuscate a forensic analyst tying a hacking attempt to the CIA:

Marble forms part of the CIA’s anti-forensics approach and the CIA’s Core Library of malware code. It is “[D]esigned to allow for flexible and easy-to-use obfuscation” as “string obfuscation algorithms (especially those that are unique) are often used to link malware to a specific developer or development shop.”

Wikileaks has become quite expert at building its disclosures to an exciting climax, the latest example being its release of John Podesta’s e-mails. Thus far, Wikileaks has stayed true to form.

The natural question that the Vault 7 documents has raised is this: how likely is it that a person or a group of people in the CIA, in an official or unofficial capacity, were the ones responsible for providing the Podesta emails to Wikileaks?

Each release has been hightening the significance of that question. Only time will tell whether we will receive an answer to it.


Trump attacks Freedom Caucus for not being “on the team”

So much for “moving on” from the Obamacare repeal/replace defeat.

Still showing signs that the health care debacle continues to sting President Trump’s ego, the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump “issued a remarkable warning to conservative Republican lawmakers in Congress, suggesting Thursday he would work against them in the midterm elections next year if they don’t support his agenda.”

The Journal explains why Trump is so furious with the Caucus:

The caucus flexed its muscle last week when its members withheld support from the health-care bill Mr. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan were working to pass, leading to defeat for the president in his first attempt to pass major legislation. Next month, the group could also create a headache for the administration when Congress faces a deadline to pass a budget resolution to keep the government funded.

Instead of talking to the Caucus and figuring out whether a compromise position can be reached, Trump elevated (or demoted, I’m not sure which) it to just one more enemy for him to confront.

It appears that the lesson Trump is trying to teach is “my way or the highway”.

Fortunately, the Freedom Caucus is ignoring the “teacher”. While ZeroHedge has some of the juicier responses to Trump’s tweet, I’ll close this post with Justin Amash’s glorious slap.

UC Irvine students demand Wells Fargo branch be removed from campus

Campus Reform reports that nearly 200 UC Irvine students have signed a petition calling for Wells Fargo to be banned from the campus because it’s evil:

The petition, which is sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU), claims that “Wells Fargo directly contributes to child abuse, slavery, discrimination, and exploitation” through its for-profit banking practices, and demands the removal of a branch located in the Student Center.

“We demand the Wells Fargo bank to be replaced with an ethically responsible financial institution that has no stakes in the investment in private prisons and anti-people ventures such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL),” the petition begins, explaining that “this means that we want the replacement to be a credit union, not another bank.”

Never mind that Wells Fargo contributed $281 million to charitable organizations since 2015. Wells Fargo’s financing of private prisons and the Dakota Access pipeline, in addition to being found to have engaged in racial discrimination (based on a settlement in 2012), is enough to cause the company to be bankona non grata.

What these students don’t seem to understand is that banks are in the business of making money. No profit, no bank. Loan conversations generally go like this:

Bank: How much do you want to borrow?

Company: [a big number]

Bank: Can you pay us back?

Company: Yes. [shows spreadsheet]

Bank: Ok. Here’s the money.

That’s how the real world works, boys and girls.

Kids (and Democratic politicians) nowadays think that part of doing business is determining whether a company is acting in accordance with the latest political guidelines. Yesterday it was tobacco. Today it’s private prisons, (the wrong) oil and gas, and the “fake news” alternative media. Tomorrow it’s….

Never mind. I don’t want to think about what tomorrow will look like.

If car companies were held to the same standards banks and social media companies are now, Ford would be held liable each time a getaway car is used during a bank robbery.

Seeing that Wells Fargo won’t be leaving UC Irvine anytime soon, maybe it can begin offering Kids Savings Accounts to students.

California bill would ban “fake news”

Notwithstanding 60 Minutes’ pathetic failure to demonize alternative media as “fake news” – which Mark Dice hilariously demonstrates as fake news itself – movements are afoot to develop legal tools to clamp down on any news that might get in the way of The Narrative. To wit, Ars Technica reports:

Here at Ars, we’re always on the lookout for wacky, tech-focused legislation. And we’ve found one bill that is certain to make our Top 10 list.

The new proposal bars the online publication of a “false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote.” Bye-bye online news. On the flip side, this legislation would probably outlaw lawmakers’ and candidates’ online speech, too.

The bill is proposed by California Assemblyman Edwin “Ed” Chau, a Democrat representing a section of Southern California. The proposal, which is likely unconstitutional on its face, was supposed to have a committee hearing Tuesday afternoon, but it was pulled at the 11th hour.

The bill includes the following language:

SEC. 2. Section 18320.5 is added to the Elections Code, to read:
18320.5. It is unlawful for a person to knowingly and willingly make, publish or circulate on an Internet Web site, or cause to be made, published, or circulated in any writing posted on an Internet Web site, a false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote on either of the following:
(a) Any issue submitted to voters at an election.
(b) Any candidate for election to public office.

While Ars Technica’s David Kravets believes that this bill will “limp off into the ether”, there may come a time when it would not be appropriate to make such an optimistic assumption.


Europe Watch: United Kingdom formally begins process of exiting the European Union

It is official.

The formal process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union has begun:

The U.K. formally began the process of exiting the European Union on Wednesday, embarking on an unprecedented path from which British Prime Minister Theresa May said there would be no turning back.

Nine months after Britain voted to leave the EU, Tim Barrow, Britain’s ambassador to the bloc, hand-delivered a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk formally notifying the bloc that the U.K. will be the first member state ever to leave it.

“This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back,” Mrs. May said in Parliament. “Britain is leaving the European Union.”

This is the first of potentially many steps that could not only lead to the unraveling of the European Union, but of countries with the Union as well, including the UK. Among the current moves away from either the EU or European countries include the following:

  • Scotland: The Scottish Parliament has approved a referendum that would ask citizens whether Scotland should break away from the United Kingdom so that it can become a member of the European Union. However, UK Prime Minister Theresa May says that “now is not the time” for a referendum.
  • France: Marine Le Pen, who has called for Franch to leave the EU, is leading in one of the latest opinion polls, and now stands to win 25 percent of the first round of voting.
  • Spain: The regional government of Catalonia, where Barcelona is located, has pledged to hold a binding referendum on independence this year, notwithstanding Spanish government’s refusal to recognize the outcome.

Meanwhile, there are active Euroskeptic movements in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland.

How the European Union and the countries within it reacts to all of these movements will be fascinating to watch.

Posting will resume shortly

Apologies for the lack of posts over the past few days. I’m back into swing of things now. Therefore, one should reasonably expect a series of posts addressing the target-rich environment known as today’s news.


“Anne Frank Center” attempts to shame Tim Allen into silence

Last week, Tim Allen appeared on the Jimmy Kimmy Live! show. Kimmel asked Allen about his attending Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Clearly, Kimmel thought he was asking Allen an innocent question. However, Allen immediately became defensive, with Kimmel trying to reassure him that he wasn’t attacking him. Allen then compared today’s Hollywood to 1930s Nazi Germany.

“You gotta be real careful around here, you know. You’ll get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody believes. It’s like ’30s Germany.”

Below is a clip of the interview.

For that brief moment of honesty on a late night talk show, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect excoriated Allen for even considering comparing Hollywood to Nazi Germany.

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect demanded an apology from actor Tim Allen after he compared life for Hollywood conservatives to living in “’30s Germany.”

That era, of course, was when Adolf Hilter rose to power and the Nazis began their campaign of mass extermination of Jews and many others they deemed undesirable. The Anne Frank Center called Allen’s comparison “deeply offensive” and said it “trivializes the horrors imposed on Jews in Nazi Germany.”

The “Last Man Standing actor said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Friday: “You gotta be real careful around here, you know. You’ll get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody believes. It’s like ’30s Germany.”

“Tim, have you lost your mind?” said Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center. “No one in Hollywood today is subjecting you or anyone else to what the Nazis imposed on Jews in the 1930s – the world’s most evil program of dehumanization, imprisonment and mass brutality, implemented by an entire national government, as the prelude for the genocide of nearly an entire people.”

Added Goldstein: “Sorry, Tim, that’s just not the same as getting turned down for a movie role. It’s time for you to leave your bubble to apologize to the Jewish people and, to be sure, the other peoples also targeted by the Nazis.”

There’s nothing like berating someone for making an honest comment that makes the very point Allen was trying to make.

There are two general points I’d like to make.

First, this “Anne Frank Center” has nothing to do with the Anne Frank House and Museum in Amsterdam, Holland. Rather, it uses Anne Frank’s name as a cover for yet another progressive outfit.

Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, the U.S. national organization in the worldwide network of Anne Frank organizations, addresses civil and human rights across America. Through educational programs and grassroots organizing, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect calls out prejudice, counters discrimination and advocates for the kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed.

Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect is a progressive voice for social justice, fighting hatred of refugees and immigrants, Antisemitism, sexism, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, bias against the differently abled and any other hate that runs counter to American promise of freedom. In addressing the civil and human rights issues of today, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect has developed contemporary advocacy techniques that incorporate historic lessons from Anne Frank’s life and the Holocaust. By applying those historic lessons to current issues, the organization works to make the Holocaust relevant to successive generations of Americans. – My emphasis

That’s right, folks. The Anne Frank Center is just one more progressive voice that uses the Holocaust as a cover to call people they don’t like antisemitic, sexist, racist, Islamophobic, and so on.

Second, what Allen was clearly referring to was the political dogma that many in Hollywood chant, and the consequences of differing from that dogma. All one has to do is watch Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, and Mel Gibson’s and Vince Vaughn’s reaction to that speech, to see what that dogma is.

Frankly, it’s disgusting that someone would even consider using the suffering the Jewish people endured during World War II as a blunt instrument to shame others into silence.

If anything, Steven Goldstein ought to apologize to Tim Allen. After all, Allen works in Hollywood, and has a far better sense of the dynamics in that town than he does.

Goldstein’s outburst is not helping his presumed fight against anti-semitism one bit.

If anything, he is helping to make Allen’s point far better than he can possibly realize.

Jerry Brown’s pandering to Trump during CalExit dreams

While California leftists, who prefer to daydream rather than deal with the here and now, ponder whistfully about what life would be like if the state were to secede from the U.S., Breitbart reports that Governor Jerry Brown submitted his fourth request in two months for federal assistance:

California Gov. Jerry Brown asked President Donald Trump on Sunday for federal emergency assistance for the fourth time in just two months since the new administration took office, putting the nascent “CalExit” movement in a difficult position.

While advocates of California secession — both on the left and operating from abroad — have hoped to make the case that the Golden State can stand on its own, Brown’s repeated requests for help underline the fact that the world’s sixth-biggest economy is still dependent on the rest of the country.

The latest request, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, asks for money for flood relief, including for repairing the damaged spillways of the Oroville Dam, which nearly failed last month, resulting in the temporary evacuation of 200,000 residents downstream of the dam.

All three of Brown’s previous requests, which relate to assistance to address weather-related damage, have been granted.

Governor Brown is taking a “having my cake and eating it too” approach with the Trump administration. He’s pretending to stand up against Trump’s presumed crimes while taking federal taxpayer money:

Brown has vowed to stand up to the Trump administration on left-wing causes such as climate change and illegal immigration. At the same time, he has welcomed the commitment of the Trump administration to invest in infrastructure, although the White House has signaled that such spending would not include California’s controversial and costly high-speed rail project.

The White House’s “tough” approach to California is just fine with Brown, seeing that money is fungible.

One would think a businessman would understand that.

Meanwhile, the pipe dream of California secession continues to evaporate. While the state could easily stand on its own if it followed free market policies, California’s politicians are too addicted to other people’s money for this to take place.

And taxpayers, both state and federal, suffer as a consequence.