Category Archives: Liberty

How I awoke from being a socialist to a sane person – A review of ‘The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality’, by Ludwig von Mises


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

Back in 1998, I was working in the filthy world of trade. I’d received this book from Mises.org one morning and had to wait until lunchtime before I could read it. I then sat in my car in a dreary supermarket car park and opened it up. It took less than an hour to get through. However, the clarity, the penetration, the directness, the sheer thrill of all those dense scales falling from my eyes melted my mind. Who was this Mises? And why had he made me feel so very uncomfortable?

Via the pages of this book, Mises had told me the truth about life, the universe, and everything. He’d tumbled the monuments in my mind, to Marx, by taking a wrecking ball to them.

This book essentially details the societally destructive power of human envy. Like a fine Bossa Nova dancer in perfect tune with his own epistemological theory, Mises slices and slashes at the tenets of Marxism until there’s nothing left but malevolent dust.

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Libertarian Media of the Year 2018


Epiphany is here and all merriment on New Year’s Eve has given way to the reality of another year of mixed blessings. We can now clear-mindedly reflect on all the delights, dedicated to proceeding ever more boldly against evil, we received in 2018. SPOILERS!!!

Movie:

Whilst Upgrade deserves an honorary mention as a cautionary tale for libertarians – freedom doesn’t necessarily lead to virtuous behaviour, certainly not from a super-intelligent AI – the most libertarian film of 2018 is arguably Incredibles 2.

The chief complaint about this film was that the general plot was very similar to the first film – a mysterious tech billionaire employs Mr. Incredible with the hidden agenda of wishing to eliminate all superheroes. In the second film, yes, brother and sister tech billionaires, Winston and Evelyn Deavor, do employ Mrs. Incredible, i.e. Elastigirl, to take part in an albeit illegal comeback display of heroism, broadcast to the world as part of a campaign to repeal the legislation which drove superheroes underground. And, yes, Evelyn, as it turns out, is the one behind the mask of the Screenslaver, who hypnotises folks to do her wicked bidding. And, yes, she wants to see the world turn entirely against superheroes to see them shutdown forever. However, this film picks up from the moment the first left off, and the moral tale does so too – and don’t all the best moral tales for all the family use repetition?

Libertarians loved The Incredibles and it’s not hard to see why: a father works outside of the law, and a soulless job he hates, to do good; the overall picture is one of government regulation and bureaucracy getting in the way of talented individuals from doing their best. This sequel asks the natural question of whether this is responsible; whether it is good. The main parental argument of this film sees the mother declaring that they should be teaching their children to obey the law, yet the father insists that they should not be taught to obey bad laws – oh, how rare it is to hear such things. Yet, this was the heart of Western civilisation. ‘What are we teaching our kids?’ asks Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible. However, this is nothing we haven’t seen in the first film. The major difference and the heart of the libertarian message of the film comes from the different opinions presented to us by the sibling tech billionaires.

You see, Winston and Evelyn take different opinions on their father’s death – Evelyn believed he should have taken his wife to the safe-room when their house was entered by armed robbers, whereas Winston thought the father was right to go for a hotline to the superheroes, whereupon he was shot. Evelyn’s Screenslaver makes some compelling arguments about how reliance on superheroes makes us weak – our bourgeois habit of putting everything on a screen and distancing ourselves from the action does so too. But, she is missing the point, which the people-person, Winston, understands and embraces – that the superheroes are real people, good people, our neighbours, wanting to help.

Whereas the Incredible family are told by the police to let the villains make off with the money etc. and let the insurance companies deal with it, we see that the numerous instances of love and sacrifice, which make the family stronger, are just what the community/the world needs to make it a better place. Winston would use his wealth to make this happen; Evelyn, however, is blinded by anger and fails to see that love and trust in those with greater abilities doesn’t make one weaker, nor does leaving everything up to the state and/or insurance companies make us stronger.

Book:

Tom W. Bell’s Your Next Government?: From the Nation State to Stateless Nations came just before 2018, true. But, it’s been introduced to so many libertarians in so many conversations this year, I can’t fail to recognise it. What can I say? Most of you are familiar with Dubai and a growing trend in special jurisdictions around the world; this Cambridge University Press book, however, takes the argument further and makes remarkable predictions about this future trend, sure to delight libertarians everywhere:

‘Governments across the globe have begun evolving from lumbering bureaucracies into smaller, more agile special jurisdictions – common-interest developments, special economic zones, and proprietary cites. Private providers increasingly deliver services that political authorities formerly monopolized, inspiring greater competition and efficiency, to the satisfaction of citizens-qua-consumers. These trends suggest that new networks of special jurisdictions will soon surpass nation states in the same way that networked computers replaced mainframes. In this groundbreaking work, Tom W. Bell describes the quiet revolution transforming governments from the bottom up, inside-out, worldwide, and how it will fulfill its potential to bring more freedom, peace, and prosperity to people everywhere.’

Purchase the book here: Your Next Government?

TV Show:

Daredevil is undoubtedly the best of the Netflix Marvel superhero series. It deserves an honorary mention, but I mustn’t press the narrative of ‘superheroes acting outside of the law for the good of natural law’ any further. Watch Daredevil; he’s a Christian superhero/lawyer who acts on his moral instincts by night where the legislation of the US fails on the streets of New York during the day. Enough said.

The real winner here is a Spanish show, titled Casa de Papel or, in English, Money Heist, and can also be viewed on Netflix. The plot revolves around a group brought together by a brilliant man, known as the Professor, to carry out a mysterious heist on the Royal Mint of Spain. They wish to print many millions of Euros and have a plan to get away with it all. But, has the Professor accounted for everything? Are the personality clashes of the group, the hiccups and unexpected turns part of his ingenious plan or not? Notice, I haven’t left any spoilers here for you; watch it and enjoy the Professor’s tirade about the motivation for knocking off the central bank – truly the libertarian gem of 2017/2018.

Game:

Many will cry, ‘Red Dead Redemption 2!’ Nay, I say, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance. My decision is based on a little more than a preference for the medieval over the wild-Western aesthetics – both charming. In Kingdom Come, players are truly challenged by those obstacles to freedom, indeed, the necessities and manners which maketh man – strong men, even – capable of acquiring and sustaining freedom. This is because one goes from simple village politics as a smithy’s son to becoming a lord, but not before having everything taken from you and having to build it all, from the pig’s filth, up. What’s more, the setting is that of the bedrock of Western civilisation – Latin Christendom – and the troubles and turmoil which were rocking its world, and which would ultimately lead to the rise of nation states.

Let’s take these lessons to heart in 2019, grow stronger and make the world a better place.

On Welfare


Today, I’ll address questions like: Are we obliged to help others when they are in adversity? If so, under what conditions? Who, exactly, deserves our help? How well do current welfare states perform the task at hand? And how might we put together a system to do the job properly, helping those who need and deserve help, while avoiding injustice to anyone? Read more

President Jair Bolsonaro: “This is our flag, and it will never be red!”


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

Are we beginning to witness more of a sea-change in the world? We see President Donald Trump in the United States attempting to roll back some of the American state. We see Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attempting to roll back some of the Austrian state. And now we see President Jair Bolsonaro attempting to roll back some of the Brazilian state.

[I’ll avoid talking too much about the gigantic mess of Brexit and that appalling globalist robot, Theresa May, but at least the process of Brexit has formed some part of the same momentum.]

Yes, we can all hope for the Hoppeian pipedream of waking up one glorious day surrounded by unicorns and pixies, along with a perfect constellation of tiny private law societies all over the globe, and be typically picky about each of these men and their imperfections in terms of libertarian flawlessness. We’ve been so successful with that particular strategy, over the years.

However, back here in the real world, I’m generally becoming more and more hopeful that we’re entering a new phase in history, one where we might actually reach that world of unicorns and pixies, one day, along with at least some Hoppeian private law societies.

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Gatwick Airport drone sightings may have been of police equipment, chief constable admits


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK
If a private security company closed down an airport for 24 hours and cancelled hundreds of flights because of a ‘drone’ threat, and then later discovered that its own drones were providing that threat, it would quite rightly be tossed out on its ear and lose its contract. Its CEO would probably be fired, several key employees would probably be fired, and the company would almost certainly face imminent bankruptcy and likely closure as other customers withdrew their custom. If the company was to survive such a self-imposed disaster, it would follow on from the result of a rapid and brutal reorganisation, similar to the punctuated equilibria of Darwinian evolution. (For instance, where fish become amphibians inside a rapid geological timeframe, perhaps because of a catastrophic drying of the planet caused by one of those regular instances of rapid solar heating.)
 
In this fictional Hoppe-World story, a more dynamic and better organised company would be brought in to provide a better security service, most likely for the same cost or lower. Because this is how the voluntary free market works. Service failure is constantly and often brutally punished, just as Darwinian evolution constantly and brutally punishes evolutionary dead ends. Spontaneous market evolution drives everyone’s businesses to provide better services and better products, as Schumpeter’s creative destruction process weeds out inefficient organisation and talentless bureaucracy and nourishes ever-more-efficient organisation and farsighted entrepreneurialism. Economic resources and people are constantly recycled in an ever-improving system that generates ever-better services and ever-better products for all of society. To assist with this process, technology constantly gets improved to provide better results for less cost. No oversight is required. If left alone, it all just happens. Naturally.
 
It is a beautiful thing. Just as the creatures generated by evolution are often beautiful.
 
So what will happen now back on Planet Socialist? What will the politicians do about the incompetent tax-eating police ruining tens of thousands of business trips and Christmas holidays? Alas, to ask the question is to know the answer. Nobody will be fired. Tax-provided resources will also most likely be increased to hopefully plug the gaps of the police’s stupidity. And it won’t work. Because this ‘reward of failure’ system specifically generates increasing failure. The police at Gatwick will become ever-more incompetent and ever-more expensive. We all know this to be true. This is the chaotic nature of coercive socialist organisation.
 
So what is the free market Hoppeian solution? Because of their utter incompetence, the tax-eating public police should be removed from Gatwick and replaced by a private security organisation that’s driven by internal motivations to provide a service that its customers actually like and want to renew year after year. Competition between private security agencies will keep their blades sharp.
 
Will this happen? Will the police get kicked out of Gatwick? Will a competent private security agency be brought in to take over from these idiots? Will any police officer get fired for this total utter failure? Be my guest. Guess.
 
Socialism is the essence of idiocy.

The Writing on the Berlin Wall: Pictures of the Socialistic Future


By Andy Duncan, Vice Chairman of Mises UK

If someone gave me a gold sovereign for every time in my life I had heard a variation on the following phrase, then in the words of Private James Frazer, from Dad’s Army, I would now be an extremely wealthy man. Here’s the general phrase that you may have heard too:

“Socialism is a great idea, but human nature is so perverse, selfish, and horrible, that nobody has figured out how to do it right yet.”

There are so many misconceptions buried within that simple sentence that there are few single books that can refute them with justice. One that springs immediately to mind is Socialism, written by Ludwig von Mises in 1922; unfortunately this is an immense, distilled work that requires perhaps weeks, months, or even years of study to fully appreciate.

However, I may have just stumbled across another excellent book that uses a different approach to tackle the same misconceptions. In contrast to Socialism, the main beauty of this alternative is that it hits all of its targets in just three or so short hours of delightful reading.

We’ll get to the book shortly, but first let us examine the misconceptions.

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