We hear a lot of sneers directed at the rich. Like “the 1 per cent,” “greedy” or “fat cats.” Today, I’ll ask: To what extent do the rich deserve these insults? Then, I’ll look at poverty, and ask: Why are so many people poor? And how might the problem of undeserved poverty be solved?
Category Archives: Liberty
Thoughts on the Fallen
by Sean Gabb
11th November 2018
A hundred years today since the end of the Great War – a sentence ripe with melancholy. I am old enough to have been a child in the visible shadow of that war. Yes, I would listen to men and women, younger than I am now, talking of their part in the Dunkirk Evacuation, or discussing who had made a fool of herself in the street when the bombs fell on Chatham. That second war, filled with colour and excitement, was barely history when I was a boy. Its end was more recent than Tony Blair’s Serbian adventure is to us. Habits of life and patterns of friendship set in The War were still established facts in the world that I had joined. Behind this, however, loomed the greater and more terrible events of an earlier war. Every day, I saw the old women in black, the old men without arms or legs, or wearing dark glasses – the memorials built large so all the names of the fallen could be fitted on them in capitals an inch high. There was no colour in that war, no excitement – only the sadness of irretrievable loss. Read more
I was involved in a blog conversation recently on the subject of “fake news.” The Darn-Poor Rhymer (the part of my alter ego which likes to write very bad verse) was inspired to write this parody of Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage.” At first, I thought that what I had written was no more than a piece of fun; but it wasn’t long before I realized that there were some deeper truths in there too. So, I re-present it here for your enjoyment.
Is all the Net a fake?
Are all the so-called “experts” merely liars?
They have their tricks and clever arguments,
And one man in his time learns many arts.
His thoughts move in six stages. First, the newbie,
His gaze, his ear, his mind glued to the screen,
Believing all he’s told. And then the troll,
Crying “fake news,” and “bull,” and “balderdash,”
Annoying and insulting all in range,
Until no-one will listen. Then the follower,
Seeking for wisdom in the godless depths
Of someone else’s arcane religion,
While parroting its credos. Then the warrior,
Shouting his narrative at top of voice,
Augmenting it with copious references
To sources just as biased as himself,
Using his subtle tricks and clever ruses
To seek to sow the seeds of doubt and guilt,
And rarely giving ground to others’ views;
But never once considering the thought
That it might be him, not his opponent,
Who’s got it wrong. The fifth stage shifts
To the truth seeker, doing what he can
To find the facts, and piece together truths,
And spread these truths to those willing and able
To listen to them. Sixth comes the free man.
Able to govern self, to live and let live;
Free from all need for politics or laws,
Free from all wish for violence or aggression,
Free from desire to lie, insult or slur,
Reciprocating others’ tolerance,
And judging people, not by who they are,
But what they do. Way back in Shakespeare’s time
There was a seventh stage, of slow decline;
But as I look out, it’s a sunny day,
And so, I think, that’s all I have to say.
Money Heist: State Counterfeiting on TV
By Duncan Whitmore
At first, Money Heist seems little different from any run-of-the-mill “cops vs. bad guys” series. A well-prepared group of eight, small time criminals, previously unknown to each other and using city names as pseudonyms, hijacks the Spanish Royal Mint in Madrid. Directed from the outside by their leader, the mysterious “Professor”, they capture tens of Mint staff and visitors to hold as hostages, including (deliberately) the teenage daughter of a prominent politician. Scores of armed police soon surround the building at the beginning of what turns into an epic, eleven-day siege.
One initial question concerns the objective of the hijackers. Is it robbery? Ransom? Terrorism? It soon becomes clear that the group, in spite of being armed to the hilt and having sequestered a major government institution, is imbued with an interesting set of morals. For they intend to neither a) kill anyone (although circumstance forces this scruple to be breached) nor b) steal as much as a penny from anyone’s bank account. They do, as it happens, intend to leave the Mint with more than one billion euros in cash. This, however, they plan to achieve by spending their eleven days holed up in the Mint printing the money they want (with the aid of the captured staff, whom they bribe with some of the loot) instead of raiding the vaults for cash that already exists. Their clever plan, therefore, is to escape with untold riches without having harmed a soul while, in the process, embarrassing the authorities and winning the sympathy of the public as “loveable rogues”. Read more
Church, King and State – Decentralisation and Liberty
By Duncan Whitmore
It scarcely needs to be said that life as a libertarian theorist and political activist is an often isolated and lonely existence. Even though we often have the evidence to illustrate that we are correct, our ideas are ridiculed, if they are ever listened to in the first place. While “free-marketism” from the point of view of generating “economic efficiency” enjoys a seat at the table of the mainstream and may, depending upon the circumstances, disseminate views which are taken seriously by the highest echelons of government, radical libertarianism does not. We are a bare minority of extremist nutcases, deluded by the romantic fairytale vision of the industrial greatness of the nineteenth century, the reality of which, we are told, meant spoils for the rich and destitution for the masses. Our intellectual heroes are derided as dogmatic crackpots who would do away with all of the civilising achievements of our social democratic world order and consign us all instead to a vigilante society reminiscent of the “wild west”.
Having said of all of this, the endeavour to justify libertarian principles is only a small part of the battle. In fact, the biggest difficulty in such justification is not in crafting high quality arguments that will consign statism and socialism to the intellectual rubbish heap. Rather, it is the fact that the die is so heavily weighted in favour of statism, and that the willingness to accept any kind of confirmation bias, however minute, for the status quo is so eager, that even if one was armed with a fortress of insurmountable libertarian arguments the debate could still be lost. No doubt many libertarian has been in the position of having taken a horse to water only to find that he will not drink – and that, sadly, we must be prepared to wait for him to realise that he is dying of thirst. Read more
The Environmental Scam:
One Quick and Easy Response
by Sean Gabb
9th October 2018
Once you cut through their verbiage, the enemies of bourgeois civilisation have two demands. These are:
- Put me and my friends in charge of preferably a one-world government with total power over life and property; or, until then, or failing that,
- Give us a lot of money.
When I was younger, the occasion for making these demands was something to do with poverty or economic instability, and the alleged need was for a bigger welfare state, or state ownership of the means of production, or playing about with money to “move the aggregate demand curve to the right.” The nice thing about these claims and their alleged solutions was that they all had to be debated within the subject area of Economics. Because most of us knew a lot about Economics, we could always win the debates.
By the end of the 1980s, winning was so easy, the debates had become boring. Since then, the alleged need has shifted to saving the planet from some environmental catastrophe. The resulting debates are now harder to win because most of us are not that learned in the relevant sciences. Though I am more than competent in Economics, my main expertise is in Ancient History and the Classical Languages. Much the same is true for most of my friends. Read more
What Exactly Did the Reformation Reform?
By Frank van Dun
The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century reformed nothing but it changed everything. It was a crucially important factor in the demise of Medieval Latin Christendom and its rapid transformation in what we now know as Europe or, more generally, the West. Philosophically and religiously it redefined and revolutionized Western civilization, for, what characterizes a civilization is not so much what people do (which is pretty much the same always and everywhere) as what they conscientiously believe they ought to do: its fundamental scheme of justification and rectification — in a word, its conscience. Read more