Sunday, March 22, 2015


Peter Kropotkin (great man that he was) spent years of his life in prison. He stood against the capitalist machine. He fought for the freedom of the individual.

Alexander Berkman (great man that he was) spent years of his life in prison. He stood against the capitalist machine. He fought for the freedom of the individual.

Murray Rothbard (elitist, unequalitarian, fascist prig) spent his life in ivory tower academia. He defended an ideology that gives unlimited powers to corporations and men of wealth. He fought for a freedom based on profit.

Two of these men were real Anarchists, the other one merely used the word. Can you tell the difference?

"The very essence of the present economic system is, that the worker can never enjoy the well-being he has produced, and that the number of those who live at his expense will always augment. The more a country is advanced in industry, the more this number grows. Inevitably, industry is directed, and will have to be directed, not towards what is needed to satisfy the needs of all, but towards that which, at a given moment, brings in the greatest temporary profit to a few. Of necessity, the abundance of some will be based on the poverty of others, and the straitened circumstances of the greater number will have to be maintained at all costs, that there may be hands to sell themselves for a part only of that which they are capable of producing; without which, private accumulation of capital is impossible! These characteristics of our economical system are its very essence. Without them, it cannot exist; for, who would sell his labor power for less than it is capable of bringing in, if he were not forced thereto by the threat of hunger? And those essential traits of the system are also its most crushing condemnation." Peter Kropotkin, Anarchism: its Philosophy and Ideal 


Saturday, March 21, 2015


I think the reason Austrians get away with so much bullshit (and make no mistake bullshit is precisely what it is) is twofold:

1) Authoritarian method.

2) They offer the guise of a rational dialectic (though upon examination this structure is found to be superficial). The problem is that most people are such poor dialecticians that this superficial structure is just enough to cause persuasion.

[It is no different in the case of Ayn Rand.]

One of the interesting things about me is that I read counterfactual literature (if my belief is not strong enough to survive then it doesn't deserve to survive). Neither do I aim at the refutation of a caricature. If there is substance I hope to find it. But this is a hard thing when it comes to abstraction, because the world is made of substance.

Essentially the Austrian view comes down to one thing (not evidence) but the affirmation of a set of arbitrary, authoritarian assumptions. But these assumptions must be given this status of authority as they do not contain it in themselves. The student must validate their asserted value in order for them to have value. 

" should be clear that only by means of a theory, economic and moral, which is not itself derived from experience but rather starts from a logically incontestable statement (which is something very different from an arbitrary postulated axiom) and proceeds in a purely deductive way (perhaps using some explicitly introduced empirical and empirically testable assumption, in addition) to results which are themselves logically unassailable (and thus require no empirical testing whatsoever), will it become possible to organize or interpret an otherwise, overly complex array of unconnected, isolated facts or opinions about social reality to form a true, coherent economic or moral conceptual system." A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, pg.9-10 Hans Hermann Hoppe 

The interesting thing about this quote is that Hoppe is aware of the weakness in the Austrian position and desperately tries to remedy it by asserting that it is not divorced from empiricism (he tries to make room for empiricism within the box of his suffocating theory). But the empirical reality of the "incontestable logical statement" and the promise of his assertion, regarding a testable empirical procedure, are two separate things. That which is incontestable cannot be tested! 


Thursday, March 19, 2015

GOD AND ETHICS (a short exchange between Jersey Flight and David Linz)

----------Flight to Linz----------


The best part about contemporary moral thinking is this:

Relativism: no trace of God.

Realism: no trace of God.

Seems to me that theists should be deeply concerned.

Contemporary Naturalism is arguing for moral objectivity without God, and surely this is not something to which any consistent theist can agree. 

----------Linz to Flight----------


I guess I still don't understand. You describe ethics in your first letter as "objective" but in the second letter you go back to saying that ethics is subjectively determined by what a given society needs. I find this to be the central difficulty in understanding your concept, Jersey. The perspective seems constantly to be shifting.

First you say we have an "ethics of discourse", the next moment you say we have an "ethics of power". One moment ethics are simply that which is determined to benefit a given society, the next ethics are determined by the conscience of a polemicist. At first ethical principles can only be discussed relative to common goals but later you say that different goals can become part of our ethical discourse. I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but I fail to see how these statements have any consistency. An "ethics of power" cannot also be an "ethics of exchange" (unless we are exchanging gunfire), and ethics cannot simultaneously be the purview of what is best for the body politic and also the purview of the polemicist who stands in opposition to that body politic. Perhaps each time we are talking about different "kinds" or "concepts" of ethics. However the array of different frameworks you set out is really confusing, I wonder how anyone is supposed to find the correct way to understand your opinion on this question.


----------Flight to Linz----------

There is no such thing as Objectivity.

There is no contradiction between ethics of discourse and ethics of power (in the sense of what we have).

I can put things in your terms/ how would you do ethics without God [even though you do do ethics without God]? This is the course of my ethics.

When I said: 'Contemporary Naturalism is arguing for moral objectivity without God...' I at no point claimed this was my view (that was your assumption). I do not believe in moral Objectivity.

The point I was making is that either way you go God has no place in the picture.

----------Linz to Flight----------


Okay so you don't believe in objectivity at all? Fair enough, though I suppose your previous letter does disclose that certain important elements of moral realism are shared by some subset atheists. I still can't see how an ethics of discourse can coexist with an ethics of power, at least in the way you described them during our discussion.

----------Flight to Linz----------


Your reading is far too hasty (which is also proven by the fact that you thought I was advocating for Objectivity).

'There is no contradiction between ethics of discourse and ethics of power (in the sense of what we have).' Which was precisely the sense in which you raised the dichotomy between discourse and power in the first place.

What you are talking about is what happens when an ethics of discourse contradicts an ethics of power. This is a different conversation from the conversation of what we have.

"I still can't see how an ethics of discourse can coexist with an ethics of power..."

Then try thinking harder because this is the ethics we have.

I think the real problem (if you think about it) is not that you "can't see how an ethics of discourse can coexist with an ethics of power," but that it is not perfect enough to satisfy your skepticism. And yet, there is really no way to get beyond this conclusion. The solution is either to accept our ethical limitations or invent a fairytale, which is a God-of-the-gaps fallacy. The only choice is between an ethics of make-believe or an ethics-of-reality.

The most telling thing is how far behind in the discourse we have to search in order to find your God. 

God has no place in a conversation on ethics.


----------Linz to Flight----------


What do you mean ? I have variously heard ethics described as a "dialogue" as well as ethics described as a "power exchange" but never simultaneously. Unless you are taking the radical postmodern notion that all truth claims are power dynamics (in which case this critique would also apply to science and we would arrive at radical skepticism) , I don't see how your statement stands. If the application is so blindingly obvious, could you point me to the author who supports this thesis?

As for your talk about God. I did not introduce God to this conversation and I am increasingly puzzled by your attempt to turn this into a discussion about theology, especially after your insistence (in other contexts) that to introduce God into a discussion not already about theology is to abuse the dialectic.


----------Flight to Linz----------


Oh dear, now the truth comes forth. There is no one to support my thesis/ my thesis has no support! (which is a sure sign that my thesis is nonsense).

A "simultaneous" description defies all reason and common sense, but one should expect nothing less coming from a man without support.

However, the greatest terror for me is that I should be called a "radical postmodern." It should be clear enough that "power dynamics" have no power (in which case power dynamics never settle anything). Reject the powerlessness of power!

Once a man tried to hit me with a metal club, but I said, "Stop! do not hit me with that club." And by the coherence of my speech he stopped.

Power cannot settle anything because power has no power. We must not be fools; power plays no part in politics or the formation/ stability of society. Power is a powerless concept!

As per science, everyone knows that the conclusions of science are Eternal and Absolute. I would never contest the Objectivity of science.

Unfortunately my position is so "blindingly unobvious" that those with sight will never see it. But then again, I have only reached this position because I am blind.  

(I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with you that God has no place in ethics or anything else).

Confidently yours,
Jersey Flight


Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I think capitalists should be honest. They say they believe in freedom, in a ZERO governance society as pertains to the market. However, capitalism is a system that produces Oligarchs. Essentially a capitalist is saying that she submits her freedom to the masters of the market. She is claiming that Financial Oligarchy is the best system of government. This kind of transparency puts capitalism in perspective. Capitalism is not a system of absolute freedom; it is not a system without coercion; it is not a system of ZERO governance, it is a system that deifies and empowers those with wealth, while it oppresses and criminalizes (punishes) those in poverty.

The capitalists are fond of saying they are the advocates of freedom; that they oppose tyranny, and yet, the system they defend is a system of Oligarchic Monopoly/ Wealth Sovereignty.

Capitalists do not have explanations, they offer a phrase-of-the-gaps as the solution to every problem. If we ask a capitalist "how" his system solves the problem of monopolies, he simply replies by referring to Magic Economics: "the free competition of the market guarantees the impossibility of monopolies (as well as everything else)." But this is nothing more than wishful thinking. In capitalism accumulation is bound to occur, resources are limited, land is limited, and he that owns the land owns the resources. This naive idea of competition is utterly irrational when contrasted with the real world. Perhaps competition (in theory) may prove the effect of equalization, but competition (in reality) shatters the hope of this theory!

Capitalists should speak plain and tell people they have faith in wealthy Oligarchs; they should tell people they believe society should be governed and controlled by these Oligarchs (precisely because they are the keepers of wealth) instead of trying to pretend they are the advocates of freedom.

This is what a capitalist really says: "I believe in regulation, not social regulation, but private regulation (regulation that benefits the minority at the expense of the majority). I believe that those with the most wealth should be allowed to influence and manipulate (control) the market without any form of social accountability. I believe in freedom for the man who can afford freedom; I believe in education for the woman who can afford education. I believe those in positions of power, due to the greatness of their wealth, belong in those positions. I believe society is best served by empowering wealthy people. A man of wealth is a Ruler or Lord. I believe a man with greater wealth has greater value than a man with none." 


Monday, March 16, 2015


This short exchange is based on Justin McBrayer's article, Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts, which was featured in the New York Times.


"If it’s not true that it’s wrong to murder a cartoonist with whom one disagrees, then how can we be outraged? If there are no truths about what is good or valuable or right, how can we prosecute people for crimes against humanity? If it’s not true that all humans are created equal, then why vote for any political system that doesn’t benefit you over others?" Ibid.

As a professor you should know better than this.

The answer to all your questions is simple: the "good" by which we function is not supernatural (or for that matter timeless and universal) but is only "good" within a social context/ even as this context is what gives goodness its property of goodness in the first place. The referent of good is not some magical abstract form (the world of ideas), but very simply, social context. Without social context there would be no good.

Human beings were not created; they simply exist. 

Respectfully yours,
Jersey Flight


Dear Jersey,

Thank you for reaching out.  I don’t see how anything that I say in the NYT piece suggests that we disagree.  You say basically this: there are moral truths, but what is true varies with time or with culture or whatever.  OK.  Suppose that’s the case.  It’s still fair to say that certain value claims are true and that others are false, right?  For example, you probably think that it’s true in our time or culture that it’s wrong to enslave people of a different race.  But if that’s right, then at least some value claims will be true.

So where is the benefit in telling kids that no value claim is true?


BTW, nothing in my article even hints at the supernatural.  Not sure where that came from.


Just so long as we are clear on the cultural subjectivity of the word truth, then I agree. Everything you said hinges on what you mean by truth.

As per supernaturalism I know this was not part of your article. I only brought it up by way of anticipation. If you claim that Truth is some kind of metaphysical or Platonic ideal then you have automatically slipped into the realm of the supernatural.

"It’s still fair to say that certain value claims are true and that others are false, right?"

That would all depend on what you mean by truth (and what you mean by false)?

I say a certain value claim is good if it has certain positive, social properties.

"So where is the benefit in telling kids that no value claim is true?"

Speaking in these kind of general terms is problematic. Why does a value claim have to be True in order to have value?

My answer to your question is that one does not lie about what a value is and this contains its own value.

The paradigm you put forth is dangerous because it assumes that a value claim must have the property of Truth in order to have the property of value. This is false, and in the long run this leads to oppressive systems of power. In short, this is the axiom of fascism. 


Sunday, March 15, 2015


Once upon a time there was a great Sage, and as he was walking through the desert he came upon a small boy: "do you see that tree over there," he said to the boy? "Do you see that it bears fruit?"

"Yes," said the boy "I come to this tree often to sample its fruit. The fruit is delicate and sweet."

To which the Sage responded: "And if I hand you a piece of fruit and I ask you where it came from, what would you say?"

"That it came from the tree," said the boy.

"And where did the tree come from," said the Sage?

"From the earth," said the boy.

"And where did the earth come from," said the Sage?

"From the stars," said the boy.

"But where did the stars come from," said the Sage?

"From the great dust that fills the black space," said the boy.

"But where did the great dust and black space come from," said the clever Sage?

"I don't know," said the boy "the black space is a lot bigger than the tree; for I cannot observe a universe the same way I can observe a tree."


Wednesday, March 11, 2015


At the foundation of all Libertarian, conservative economics, is the assumption of absolute freedom. If this assumption is found to be false then the entire structure of self-determined-economics comes crashing down. Freedom must be intact in order to have a free market; in order to speak of wealth on the basis of choice.

Below are two letters I wrote to a man overseas:


Dearest B, I hope you are well? Forgive me for not writing sooner.

I was thinking of your presentation on determinism and it occurred to me, that if you believe what you said, then you have no choice but to embrace a form of economic and social determinism. If this is true it completely destroys any conservative model of economics. In other words, if "social conditioning" is a real thing, then problems in society must be addressed at the social level, in that they were generated at the social level. If I remember correctly you are more conservative in your economics? But your theory of consciousness literally spells the death of conservatism, in that conservatism is based on a false notion of self-determination. You cannot have conservative economics without the power of self-determination.

Surely this must produce a crises in your thought?


I know what you "believe" regarding the state of free will... you are a determinist, but do you think you hold this belief in honesty, in consistency?

If our behavior and belief is determined by biological conditions, then surely this must equally apply to social conditions? The reason this is important is because it destroys the economic myth of self-determinism. This has broad implications for social theory. If this is true it must completely transform our view of society (just as your view of cognitive-determinism must transform our view of cognitive-freedom).

The old view of the world, that is to say... ... the capitalist stick must break; the self-reliant model of economics shatters. A man is what he is (not because of the sovereign power of his will) but because of his social conditions. The only way this does not change our view is if we fail to understand it.

I mean no disrespect in writing this letter; I believe it would be a waste not to write it. My understanding is that you embrace the conservative view of economics? If so, this is totally at odds with your cognitive theory; it is a contradiction of your science.

I wanted to write this letter because I think you are such a fine person; very high quality, but a brutal economics can thwart much beauty.

Next time we look at those in poverty let us not be so quick to judge; for they did not arrive at this place due to some failure of their own, but in large part, they are a product of social conditions. If we are not in poverty we have nothing to boast about because it is pure luck that we had better social conditions! Let us look on our fellow brothers and sisters with a higher consciousness of compassion; let us strive toward the creation of better social conditions!

respectfully yours,
Jersey Flight


Saturday, March 7, 2015


The point of thinking is to move in the direction of action.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." Marx, Thesis on Feuerbach XI

The problem is not a lack of people ready to take action (any fool can hold a sign in the street) the real problem is that people do not have the discipline to take informed-action. They do not consider their strategy before they proceed. Men and women who function this way (always ready to strike; being insecure they have something to prove) can easily be made the pawns of some foolish king. Anger is dangerous because it can be exploited by tyrants. Passion is the plaything of manipulators and controllers.

If a young man comes to me and says he's ready to change the world. I can only wonder what he means; how does he know what's wrong with the world? The strategy for working with young zealots is first to inspire them in the direction of education. [Once they learn the specifics (of any given cause) they may desire to go another way.] It is no use enlisting ignorant men and women (reactionaries) when in truth these men and women could just as easily have been enlisted in the ranks of the opposition. Ignorant men and women usually do more harm than good... as leaders (god forbid) they are dangerous. In the end they cannot tell the difference between friend or foe because their creed is to protect their interest, they have no higher cause than the cause of self.     

That a revolutionary needs to be disciplined, educated before he takes to the streets was the wise philosophy of Gandhi and King.

We must act, but when we act we must act with intelligence.

A revolutionary may think his life away trying to solve a problem, but if he is genuine in this endeavor, if he makes legitimate progress, his sacrifice can be used to save future generations. Knowing precedes doing. Sometimes thought is the required action of revolution; sometimes thought is the most revolutionary action of all.

The revolutionary life must be a life of balance, but this does not mean one should invent an unnecessary dualism between theory and action; one should think of action as a form of intelligence; one should think of theory as a form of action.

To place revolutionary action in context means revolutionary action must proceed from revolutionary thought.

"All my thought is for the purpose of moving in the direction of action." Let us not be charlatans (which defect is easily achieved by shunning the work of thought). Charlatans, in the context of revolution, stifle progress, so far from helping, one is forced to overcome them. Pretenders and phonies usually only get in the way. 

"Having revolutionary fire will not give you revolutionary power. In order to have revolutionary power you must have knowledge coupled with strength and ability."

A revolutionary must be set against the exploitation of people, he must not seek to use people but liberate people. A revolutionary is one who would rather inspire a man to educate himself, even though that same man might turn against him, than he would succumb to manipulating him into adhering to his cause.

This is our creed: be real in all things, sincere in question as well as deed. Do not try to protect yourself when you are wrong, admit your error. Learn from all men. Act in truth because you are inspired by love.