Saturday, May 25, 2024

This Memorial Day, Remember that the Military Protects Our Borders, Not Our Freedom

American soldiers killed in action certainly deserve our gratitude and honor. But not for the usually recited reason. 

Memorial Day once again featured the mantra that soldiers died defending our freedom and individual rights. One popular song even includes the phrase, “At least I know I’m free, and I won't forget the ones who died who gave that right to me.” Yet today our rights are under attack on multiple fronts. We are just emerging from a wave of pandemic-related lockdowns imposed by politicians. The news is full of horror stories of business owners being fined and shut down, they and their employees’ livelihoods stripped away, price controls imposed under the guise of “anti-gouging, even their customers arrested, for defying orders by political leaders wielding “emergency powers”.Where’s the military? 

In the last 100 years, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers died on the battlefield. In that same 100 years, our general freedom, especially economic freedom, has steadily eroded due to the growth of the regulatory welfare state. While our First Amendment freedoms have fared somewhat better, they today face withering attacks on multiple fronts, as are the governmental checks and balances put in place by the Founders to protect us from tyranny due to concentration of government power. Bodily sovereignty is under attack, through vaccine mandates and abortion rights threatened. 

With our freedom and rights threatened or infringed in ever-wider ways, where was the military? Where is the military?

The fact is, contrary to Memorial Day propaganda, the military’s job is to protect our borders, not our freedom. The fight to establish, maintain, and defend freedom is a philosophical, not a military, fight. It is fought with words and ideas, not guns and tanks. It is fought within, not outside, our borders. It is fought among the civilian, not military, population. The fight for freedom requires, not military combat, but mind-to-mind combat. The Founding generation’s defeat of the British Army, heroic as that was, did not secure our rights. Our rights were secured afterward, on the battlefield of political philosophy and constitutional law. That battlefield—the one of ideas, not arms—is where our Founders took the first and most crucial steps toward fulfilling the promise of the Declaration of Independence, the creation of a government “to secure these rights, drawing their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The enemies of freedom exist not only in foreign dictatorships, but among us right here in America. The military has done a fine job of protecting us from foreign enemies. We, the people of the United States, have done poorly in our job of protecting our rights. By the design of some, the neglect and complacency of others, and ignorance of many, we have granted our government more and more power to restrict our individual rights. We must abandon our false sense of security that we can rely on the military to preserve and restore our liberty. The U.S. military has given us a virtually impenetrable forcefield to live behind. But it did not give us those rights. And it won’t protect those rights. It is entirely up to we, as individual citizens, to secure and restore our freedom and make our rights inalienable.

The military protects our borders from external threats, giving us the protective wall we need to fight the moral and intellectual battle to preserve and protect our liberty rights from internal threats.

Happy Memorial Day.  

Related Reading:

A Memorial Day Tribute

July 4, 1776: Words that Will Never Be Erased

The Declaration of Independence

Atlas Shrugged: America’s Second Declaration of Independence—Onkar Ghate

On This Constitution Day, Remember the Declaration of Independence

On This Veterans Day, Remember the Productive Americans Who Support the Greatest Military in History

The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty – Timothy Sandefur

A New Textbook of Americanism — edited by Jonathan Hoenig

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Gaza, not Hamas, Attacked Israel

QUORA: ‘Does anyone really believe Hamas attacked Israel?

I posted this answer:

I don’t. That’s too simplistic. The truth is much broader than that.

Analysis of the Gaza conflict grossly misses the point. I think that to say Hamas attacked Israel way understates the full truth and understanding needed to fully grasp the magnitude of what actually happened on October 7. Hamas was not merely some criminal enterprise operating in an underworld of a nation governed more or less under the rule of law, like the Mexican Drug Cartels.

The fact is, Hamas was the GOVERNMENT of Gaza. Therefore, it was Gaza, not merely Hamas the terrorist group, that attacked Israel, just as it was the Empire of Japan that attacked the USA in 1941. And just as Japan got what it deserved because of its Imperial Government’s attack on Pearl Harbor, so it is that Gaza is getting what IT deserves in attacking Israel. All of the suffering and destruction and death Gaza residents are enduring is what THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT, not Israel, brought down on them.

It's morally black and white. And it’s not merely about terrorism or anti-Semitism. Israel was the victim of an unimaginably vicious, unprovoked aggression directed at civilian targets (which was arguably morally worse even than Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Japan at least chose a military target). Israel is now defending itself. Who has the moral high ground? By any rational moral judgment, the defender, Israel—100%.

Israel shouldn't be called on to “cease fire” (i.e. surrender). The world should demand that Hamas unconditionally surrender, just as Japan did. And the world should commit to tracking down and forcing Hama members to answer for their war crimes, along with Hama’s state sponsors, just as the Nazis and Japanese war mongers did. The Gazan War would end immediately, just as WWII did.
[Supplemental, posted 5/15/24]

Some of the comments indicate the need for some clarification of my position. Apparently, I left the impression on some that anything Israel does in response to Oct. 7 is justified. That’s certainly not the case.

Israel is not seeking, and should never seek, revenge. For Israel to become like Hamas would surrender its moral high ground. Israel is fighting a war of self defense, not revenge. It does not target civilians. Its goal is military. When Japan attacked America, President FDR set the goal of his defensive military strategy—Japan’s (and the other Axis Powers’) unconditional surrender. It took Truman’s atomic bombs to reach that goal regarding Japan. Israel has set a goal to destroy Hamas. Just as America’s goal was not to kill civilians but to force Japan’s surrender, so it is Israel’s goal to eliminate the Gazan Hamas threat. As long as Israel sticks to that goal, and its military operations are in service to that legitimate goal, all consequences, including civilian deaths, are not the moral responsibility of Israel, but of Gaza’s Hamas dictatorship.
One commenter states that “Every conflict has to have a limit and a line not crossed?” Why? For what it’s worth, that is the “standard analysis.” But it’s not mine. There is no line that Israel must adhere to that stands in the way of achieving its strategic goal of eliminating the threat to its people, which is any government’s first responsibility. Israel is the victim! Any line prior to securing the safety of its people amounts to the victory of the aggressor, a moral abomination. I do not believe in Just War Theory. The only line that should not be crossed is for any country to attack another unprovoked, a line which Gaza crossed. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Economic Power and a Free and Independent Media

There is a significant and distressing lack of understanding in America about freedom of speech and press. For example, this meme has been circulating on social media:


My comment:

There is a basic contradiction in Carlin’s statement. If private media companies can make legally unfettered editorial judgements about what will or will not be published on their outlets, even if slanted—which is their First Amendment right—they are by definition independent (and free). “The news media” is NOT monolithic, as Carlin implies. They are subject to competition, as Elan Musk proved when he bought Twitter and revised its biased policies. Remember that economic power is benign and voluntary because it derives from consumer choice. Economic power is NOT political power, which is coercive because it grows out of the barrel of a governmental gun. I’ll take economically driven media over politically shackled media any day. It is to the glory of America that we [still] have an economically-driven media.

The First Amendment is clear: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . .” Carlin makes the immensely dangerous equivocation of political and economic power. The First Amendment refers only to political power, and seeks to impose a strict separation of press and state. Carlin’s equivocation implies an opening for the government to step in and enforce an “independent” media, thus making an end run around the First Amendment and—in the name of “an independent media”—substitute political power for economic power, making the press subject to government coercion. On economic vs. political power, see the first link below.

Related Reading:

The Dollar and the Gun by Harry Binswanger

When Private Media ‘Colludes’ With Government, Blame the Government, Not Media: The Dollar is No Match for a Bullet.

Malinowski's Censorship-By-Proxy 'Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act' Advances

Americans Abandoning Free Speech Better Brace for the Consequences by J.D. Tuccille for Reason: Government will happily suppress misinformation in favor of misinformation of its own.

Note to #FREEPRESS: A Free Press Derives from Freedom of Speech

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Earth Day: a Pro-Human Perspective vs. the Anti-Industrial Revolutionaries

As I've said in past years, Earth Day grew out of the New Left's anti-industrial revolution. It's still true that Earth Day carries a bias against industrialization, man's great achievement at turning a hostile natural environment brimming with potential into a great place to live.

That's because “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow”, as Ayn Rand observed. So Earth Day powers on as an unthinking celebration of hostile pre-industrial Planet Earth.

One such uncontested (except by Rand) absurdity was inaugurated on April 22, 1970…the first Earth Day. The inability or unwillingness of Americans to understand and appreciate the actual meaning behind that concept has allowed Earth Day to evolve into a powerful symbol of an ideology that is anti-human life.

Ayn Rand coined the term “anti-industrial revolution” to describe the “ecology” movement of the 1960s and 1970s. That movement was the precursor to the modern Environmentalist movement* [I use an upper case 'E' to highlight its ideological nature].

The basic premise of Environmentalism is that “nature” in its raw state—which means unaltered by human intervention—has intrinsic value. But the concept "value" cannot be divorced from the concept valuer. Nothing can have intrinsic value ... i.e., value in and of itself. But that is exactly how Environmentalism sees nature. The consequences to human freedom and well-being by the acceptance of that doctrine are horrendous. Mark Levine puts it thus:

  If nature has "intrinsic value" then nature exists for its own sake. Consequently, man is not to be preferred over any aspect of his natural surroundings. He is no better than any other organism and much worse because of his destructive existence.
  Is not man, therefore, expendable? And if he is, is not the suppression of his liberty, the confiscation of his property, and the blunting of his progress at all times warranted where the purpose is to save the planet - or any part of it - from man himself? After all, it would seem that there can be no end to man's offenses against nature if he is not checked at every turn. (Liberty and Tyranny, pages 121-122)

Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, puts it another way—in terms of a moral standard of value. The environmentalists' standard of moral value is unaltered nature, not human flourishing. Since man's means of survival is to apply productive—i.e., reason-guided—work to the task of transforming the Earth nature gives us into an environment suitable to human living, everything man does above the level of the higher animals is immoral. Man is not to improve his natural surroundings; not to maximize his well-being while minimizing the negative consequences of his industrial development. He is to minimize his impact on the Earth, regardless of the consequences to his life. This is the underlying meaning of Earth Day, of "going green"—deindustrialization, not as a means to a better environment for humans, but for deindustrialization’s sake. Earth Day stands for anti-humanism.

Think of what it means if unaltered nature is the moral standard; if nature has intrinsic value. It means that whatever nature "does"—raw nature—is valuable and not to be altered. A volcano erupting and destroying Mount St. Helens, taking with it millions of trees and wild animals, is raw nature, and thus good. Man clearing a forest and “destroying” an ecosystem to build a housing development is not "natural," and thus bad. Animals devouring one another to survive is raw nature. Man using animals for the purpose of testing (human) life-saving medicines is not. Crop-destroying insects or plant diseases is raw nature. Insecticides and bio-engineered pest- and disease-resistant crops is not. A black primordial goo lying underground is raw nature. Refined protroleum products like gasoline and heating oil and plastics are not. Natural climate change is acceptable. Human-caused climate change is not. A natural 400 foot rise in sea levels is not bad. Let human activity contribute a couple of inches in the last century to the 20,000 year trend, and its a catastrophe. Modern agriculture, transportation, health care, buildings, amusement parks, even household appliances—everything manmade—results from altering raw nature in some way, which destroys intrinsic value and is thus immoral and needs to be minimized and ultimately stopped and reversed.

The common denominator of that which is not “raw” nature is that it represents the application of human intelligence to the advance of man’s well-being and survival. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. Every living species, from the lowest bacteria to the most advanced mammals, must act according to its nature to sustain its life. In other words, every living species is provided by nature with some means of survival, which it must rely on and exercise.

There is one crucial fact of nature that sets man apart from every other living species. Every other species must essentially adapt itself to its natural environmental background. It has no choice in the matter, since it basically has no way of altering that environment. It is thus equipped with the basic means of survival determined by its nature to survive in that manner. Any species that lacks or loses the means to adapt perishes. Man, however, is not equipped to adapt to raw nature. He must, if he is to survive and thrive, adapt his environmental background to his own needs ... by building homes, inventing medical treatments, developing advanced agriculture, producing fuel for transportation and heating ... all produced from exploiting the materials found in raw nature.

Environmentalism’s elevating of nature to the absurd and logically indefensible status of having intrinsic value is a direct assault on, and denial of, man’s method of survival; his need to transform raw nature as dictated by his very nature. That man is himself a product of nature does not daunt the environmentalist mindset. They champion nature, except the one creation of nature that sets man apart. Since man’s primary, basic means of achieving this is his rational mind, the anti-science of Environmentalism is thus anti-mind, which means anti-man.

Environmentalism should not be confused with the idea of developing cleaner methods of producing and consuming that which we need to survive and thrive. Pollution--ingredients around us that is harmful to humans above a certain scientifically validated threshhold--can and should be cleaned up. That is not what the leaders of the environmental movement have in mind. It is human production and technology itself that is the enemy. That's why, for example, Environmentalists oppose nuclear power as a sollution to what they call the "climate crisis" induced by human emissions of carbon dioxide.

Following are some quotes from some of those leaders:

The collective needs of non-human species must take precedence over the needs and desires of humans.

—Dr. Reed F. Noss, The Wildlands Project

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planet ... Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.

—David Graber, biologist, National Park Service

The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing....This is not to say that the rise of human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that it will be much help to the world in the long run.

—Economist editorial

I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.

—John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

We, in the green movement, aspire to a cultural model in which killing a forest will be considered more contemptible and more criminal than the sale of 6-year-old children to Asian brothels.

—Carl Amery

We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!

—Stewart Brand (writing in the Whole Earth Catalogue).

This last is the ideal that drives environmentalism…the return of mankind to a pre-industrial age--a new Stone Age, essentially--when man lived “in harmony” with nature. A time when nature was worshiped, rather than exploited for human gain. Rather than a warm winter home, they long for an existence of savages cowering in fear of natural forces. The name itself, “Environmentalism”, captures the very essence of its meaning, just as Communism or Theocracy captures the essence of those systems. In fact, statists of every stripe have latched on to the environmental movement to further their anti-capitalist agendas.

But make no mistake. The agenda of Environmentalism is to thwart, roll back, and destroy the life-giving technology and industrialization of the modern age. This is not to say that I believe that they will succeed (although the seeming popularity of the Green New Deal questions that assumption). Most people don’t equate Environmentalism with an anti-man’s-life agenda. There is a real danger, though, that they will succeed at advancing a statist (socialist) agenda under cover of Environmentalism, leading to a deteriorating economy, rising impoverishment, and possible dictatorship. I submit in evidence the two news items cited in my 2010 Earth Day post.

By celebrating “Earth Day”, we should be aware of the enemies of man that we are helping to bring to power in America and around the world.

Rather than celebrate raw nature, as embodied in “Earth Day”, we should instead look around at all of the life-giving benefits we enjoy as a result of industrialization. We can celebrate Industrialized Earth Day, celebrating man's great achievement at transforming raw nature into a human-friendly planet. Here some articles for a pro-human perspective:

Forget “Earth Day”…Celebrate Life On Earth Day!--Michael Hurd 
An Unnatural Amount of Happiness — Why I Celebrate Transforming the Earth--Alex Epstein 
5 Environmental and Human Trends Worth Celebrating This Earth Day--Ronald Bailey
Peak population, expanding forests, more abundant resources, falling air pollution, and plenty of farmland.
Exploit-the-Earth Day by Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard
The Great Enrichment by Deirdre McCloskey

State of Fear by Michael Crichton  

Thursday, March 28, 2024

The ‘Anthropocene’ and Hatred of Man

A vigorous debate has been going on inside the world of geology science. The question is, are we in a new geologic age marked by human influence on the planet? The answer—No. According to a New York Times report

The highest governing body in geology has upheld a contested vote by scientists against adding the Anthropocene, or human age, to the official timeline of Earth’s history.

The vote, which a committee of around two dozen scholars held in February, brought an end to nearly 15 years of debate about whether to declare that our species had transformed the natural world so thoroughly since the 1950s as to have sent the planet into a new epoch of geologic time.

On the face of it, this seems like a rather ho-hum subject for most people outside the scientific community. But an article applauding the decision drew my interest because it highlighted something I’ve long believed and said—the Environmentalist movement is fundamentally anti-human. In Scientists Just Gave Humanity an Overdue Reality Check. The World Will Be Better for It, NYT guest essayist Stephen Lezak is quite blunt: 

The world’s leading institution on geology declined a proposal on Wednesday to confirm that the planet has entered a new geologic epoch, doubling down on its bombshell announcement earlier this month. The notion that we’re in the “Anthropocene” — the proposed name for a geologic period defined by extensive human disturbance — has become a common theme in environmental circles for the last 15 years. To many proponents, the term is an essential vindication, the planetary equivalent of a long-sought diagnosis of a mysterious illness. But geologists weren’t convinced.

The international geology commission’s decision this week to uphold its vote of 12 to 4 may seem confusing, since by some measures humans have already become the dominant geologic force on the earth’s surface. But setting the science aside for a moment, there’s a reason to celebrate, because the politics behind the Anthropocene label were rotten to begin with.

For starters, the word Anthropocene problematically implies that humans as a species are responsible for the sorry state of the earth’s environments. While technically true, only a fraction of humanity, driven by greed and rapacious capitalism, is responsible for burning through the planet’s resources at an unsustainable rate. Billions of humans still lead lives with relatively modest environmental footprints, yet the terminology of the Anthropocene wrongly lays blame at their feet. Responding to the vote, a group of outside scientists wisely noted in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution that “our impacts have less to do with being human and more to do with ways of being human.”

[My emphasis.]

"A mysterious illness," “the [rotten] politics behind the Anthropocene label,” "the sorry state of the earth’s environments," and "greed and rapacious capitalism" is how the author refers to the “fraction of humanity [that] is responsible for burning through the planet’s resources.”  

But what did that guilty fraction of humanity give us? The Great Enrichment is how historian Deirdre McCloskey describes the explosive, almost miraculous improvements in the living standards, over the past 250 years, of the fraction of humanity that Lezak blames for the “mysterious illness” that gave us “the sorry state of Earth’s environment.” But that “mysterious illness” was Capitalism, which McCloskey believes is more accurately labeled Innovism. And that political system, which Lezak labels “rotten,” is the system of rightful liberty that unchained ideas, individual productiveness, and commercialism to bless the large portion of the world with vastly enriched lives. "Lives with relatively modest environmental footprints" is how Lezak approvingly thinks of the large portion of the planet that still lives in devastating poverty—and the near stone-age state to which the author apparently dreams of reducing the rest of us. 

The rate of economic growth of The Great Enrichment, McCloskey argues, will “in a few generations—if the virus, pollution, war, and tyranny do not intervene—bring everyone on the planet to a level of prosperity well above that enjoyed now in Western Europe.” Lezak does not cheer that potential glorious development. He wants to prevent it—and roll it back. He wants to keep those “Billions of humans [who] still lead lives with relatively modest environmental footprints” in their current state of poverty and misery.

This is the definitive cold-blooded Environmentalist view of human progress, and all you need to know about the motives of anyone who speaks of "saving the planet.” It is from a flourishing human life that the planet-savers aim to save the planet. Lezak is not an aberration or outlier. Humans live, survive, and flourish by impacting the planet. The Great Enrichment could not have happened, and can never expand, on an ideology of modest environmental impact. It could not exist by limiting the “burning through the planet’s resources” to what Environmentalists call a sustainable rate.* Humans can’t live “in harmony with nature,” as animals do. Man’s primary means of survival is his reasoning mind. Man needs to apply his reason to his labor in order to vastly improve the planet to live and flourish. We either sustain the planet in its wild, dangerous, unimpacted state, or we sustain humanity and human progress. It’s either/or. The Environmentalists choose planet sustainability. Humanitarians choose human life.

Scientists Just Gave Humanity an Overdue Reality Check. The World Will Be Better for It goes well beyond the powerlust that politicians who use Environmentalism to gain power over our lives. At least they retain some respect for human progress, even though their policies would ultimately make progress impossible. What I sense when I read cold rubbish like Lezak’s article is pure hatred, and the resentment and envy of productive achievement that leads to it. 

* [Earth doesn’t actually give us resources. It gives us raw materials with potential. Turning those raw materials into actual resources comes from human thought and ingenuity.]

Related Reading:

Earth Day: a Pro-Human Perspective vs. the Anti-Industrial Revolutionaries

Greta Thunberg's Hatred of Man

Related Listening:

The Anti-Industrial Revolution, by Ayn Rand

Saturday, March 23, 2024

The Would-Be Climate Dictators’ Trial Balloon

From ‘Authoritarianism’ May Be Necessary to Fight Climate Change, Cambridge Study Argues, FEE’s John Miltimore reports:

A recent study published in American Political Science Review, a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Cambridge University, begins with a teasing question: “Is authoritarian power ever legitimate?”

For many, the answer is clearly no, concedes the study’s author—Ross Mittiga, an assistant professor of political theory at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. But Mittiga, in the abstract to the study, suggests otherwise:

“While, under normal conditions, maintaining democracy and rights is typically compatible with guaranteeing safety, in emergency situations, conflicts between these two aspects of legitimacy can and often do arise. A salient example of this is the COVID-19 pandemic, during which severe limitations on free movement and association have become legitimate techniques of government. Climate change poses an even graver threat to public safety. Consequently, I argue, legitimacy may require a similarly authoritarian approach.

This was inevitable. I have long argued that the normally mundane science of climate change had become a means to a political end—some form of totalitarian statism. The tactics used by politicians for fighting the "climate crisis" are invariably dictatorial, but they would never openly admit it. Now, with so many people duped into being conditioned to accept government coercion to "fight climate change," the climate crisis mongers appear to be getting ready to take the next step—openly declare that freedom cannot handle the crisis and then demand the dictatorial powers their policies always implied. 

Note also that the over-reaching COVID 19 freedom restrictions are being cited as the precedent for the coming climate attack on our liberty, which I also predicted.

The piecemeal advance of statism is often preceded by trial balloons to gauge how ready the public is for another erosion of their freedom and rights. That’s how I see this study. We'll see how far this trial balloon goes.

Related Reading:

New U.N. 'Study' Shows Climate Catastrophists Getting More Open About their Totalitarian Designs

As We Endure Through COVID-19 Lockdowns, Dems Gear Up for ‘Climate Crisis’ Authoritarianism