Song Lyrics: If You Cannot Solve A Problem

To the tune of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”. An April Fools song.

Chorus:

If you cannot solve a problem, make it worse
If you cannot solve a problem, make it worse
‘Cause if it goes complete berserk,
then experts have to get to work
So if you cannot solve a problem, make it worse!

Verse 1:

If you try and try and fail and fail again,
There is another way to proceed, my friend
If you’re feeling out of options
And need help with a problem
Then the best thing to do is make it worse!

Verse 2:

With other things elites are preoccupied
Only serious problems will catch their eye
So troubles you must magnify
Until they notice what’s awry
And hope that they are qualified to fix what’s worse!

Chorus

Verse 3:

There are many avenues by which to do
That which may seem at first to be confused
Make those wheels a bit more squeaky,
And those gears a bit more creaky,
And those pipes a bit more leaky, now it’s worse!

Verse 4:

Breaking things can cost you a lot of clout
But if you’re not caught, someone will help you out
So let out your frustration
On your source of consternation
And enjoy the vacation once it’s worse!

Chorus

Verse 5:

A catastrophe is quite a thing to fear
But away from a greater one you’ll steer
So dig that hole a little deeper,
We’ll decline a little steeper,
And we’ll dodge the Grim Reaper when it’s worse!

Verse 6:

If everyone does like I say to do
Then soon all our troubles will be through
For the things that we have undone
We will be the heroes unsung
After everything is fixed from being worse!

Chorus

Pitch up 1/2 step

Chorus

What’s In A Name?

When I launched Zeroth Position in January 2016, I wrote an article explaining the name of the site. What I have not done until now is to write an article explaining the pen name I use here. The practice of writing under a pseudonym has a long history, and has been done by various authors for a wide variety of reasons. The particular name or names that one chooses for this purpose frequently have a degree of significance, either to the personality of the author or the nature of one’s literary works. Let us explore these reasons and contemplate them in relation to my own pseudonym as I explain the meaning and significance of it.

Motivations for Pseudonymity

A pen name is a name other than one’s legal name that an author adopts for use in the by-line of their publications. One reason for doing this is to protect an author from retribution. In many societies, authors of dissident materials could face severe punishments that could deprive not only oneself, but one’s family of life, liberty, and property. For example, this is the motivation for a critic of Islam using the pen name Ibn Warraq. Although states in the modern West usually refrain from such measures, having instead some degree of freedom of speech, the reality is that they have outsourced censorship to the soft power of establishment journalists and the leftist mobs at their command. Whoever wishes to be free from harassment by these types and remain employable while presenting a worldview at odds with the progressive consensus is therefore strongly incentivized to use a pseudonym. In other cases, an author may need a pen name because the terms of one’s other employment disallow publishing under one’s real name. Irish author Brian O’Nolan‘s use of the pen names Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen is explained by laws forbidding Irish civil servants from publicly expressing political views.[1]

Those who are safe from harm may wish to use a pen name in an effort to distinguish themselves or gain more readership. If one’s real name is shared with someone who is already famous, then a pen name may be necessary to avoid confusion. This was necessary for a young Winston Churchill, as the British statesman was once overshadowed by an American novelist of the same name; the former therefore wrote as Winston S. Churchill.[2] Some authors write in several genres and wish to have a separate name for each; the mathematician Charles Dodgson wrote under his own name for non-fiction and as Lewis Carroll for fiction.[3] Highly prolific authors may use multiple names to get more of their content into a given medium, as novelist Stephen King did with the pen name Richard Bachman.[4] Those wishing to experiment with a different writing style or genre may do so under a different name out of concern that failure may impact sales of their other works, as science fiction author Harry Turtledove did with some historical novels under the name H. N. Turteltaub. In cultures that disadvantage female authors, or in genres usually written by men, women may either choose a masculine pen name or use their initials instead of their full name. Famous examples of the former from the 19th century include Mary Ann Evans (as George Eliot)[5] and the Brontë sisters (as Acton, Currer, and Ellis Bell). J. K. Rowling is a more recent example of the latter.

Some pen names are used collectively by multiple authors. One use of this is to suggest continuity of authorship over long time periods, much as a corporation suggests continuity of ownership beyond the span of an individual’s involvement in a business. This is also known as a house name. An example is The Saint series; the first books were written by Leslie Charteris, but later books were written by ghost writers under the same name. Collaborative authors may also share a pen name, as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay did when they wrote the Federalist Papers under the pseudonym Publius.[6] One’s ideology may disallow taking credit for one’s work as an individual, so pseudonyms for public use exist for this reason, such as Luther Blissett.[7] The historical practice of pseudepigraphy involved the false attribution of a work, usually to put one’s own ideas into broader circulation that could be achieved under one’s real name by using the name of an established intellectual.[8] Of course, there may be multiple motivations for a pen name, as is the case with the pen name N. B. Pettibone once used by Brittany and Nicole Pettibone. It is both a collaborative name and an initial name by female authors in a male-dominated genre.

Other concerns are purely aesthetic or personal. An author may feel that one’s name does not fit with the genre of one’s writing. Whereas Julie Woodcock’s real name has certain implications in the romance genre, she writes as Angela Knight instead. As a person’s knowledge and experiences alter one’s beliefs over time, one can come to reject some of one’s previous works so strongly as to feel a need to use a different name. The tradition of using a pen name after one’s real name, known as takhallus, has long been practiced by poets and other writers in Persian, Urdu, and some other Indian languages.[9] Japanese poets and artists also use art-names, which they may change several times during their careers. This usually marks significant changes in the artist’s life.[10]

Nullus Maximus

Now that the reasons for an author to choose a pseudonym are clear, let us examine the name I have chosen. Both words come from Latin. As an adjective, “Nullus” is the masculine word for “no, none, not any”. As a noun, it is the masculine second declension of “no one, nobody”. It is also the closest word for the number zero, a foreign concept to the Romans which did not appear explicitly in Latin until medieval times.[11] “Maximus” is the masculine word for “greatest/biggest/largest”, “highest, utmost”, “leading, chief”, “longest”, or “oldest”. Several interpretations of the combination “Nullus Maximus” are meaningful to me, including “no maximum”, “greatest nobody”, “not any chief”, “no leading”, and “largest zero”. The masculine words give away my biological sex and gender identity, but I believe my work already makes this obvious.

“No Maximum” could also be thought of as “No Limit”, and this refers to my willingness to tackle any subject matter that interests me as well as my determination to take an argument to its logical conclusion. Though there are certain viewpoints that I refuse to allow to be advocated here at Zeroth Position, no topic is off-limits for thoughtful exploration. Whether it is the ethics of political assassinations, private ownership of nuclear weapons, the role of conquest and genocide in libertarian theory, slaughtering the most sacred ideological cows of the political establishment, or admonishing those who are nominally on our side (including ourselves), there is no intellectual ground that I and my guest authors dare not traverse.

“Greatest Nobody” is an acknowledgment of my personal status, a rejection of credentialism, and an aspiration to be more than I am. As of this writing, I hold a bachelor’s degree in physics with some graduate study in the subject, but no advanced degree. I wield no power to speak of in the physical world, aside from what following and influence I have earned here. On paper, there is no reason for someone to regard me as an authority on most of the subjects addressed in my political and philosophical writings. But to dismiss my work on this account would be a courtier’s reply fallacy; the truth value of an argument is independent of the expertise (or lack thereof) of any person advocating it. My work should stand or fall on its own merits and demerits, not on my merits or demerits as a person. While I may or may not be the “greatest nobody,” I aspire to be the best that I can be.

“Not Any Chief” is one possible interpretation of my ideal political order, though a great multitude of chiefs, each of whom have far less control than modern nation-states, is a more accurate description. This was initially called anarcho-capitalism, but anarcho-monarchism and anarcho-feudalism are more accurate terms. The former is suggestive of politically autistic hyper-individualism that is incompatible with the fact that humans are social creatures. This interpretation also admits that I am “not any chief”; I do not hold sovereign power and am unlikely to ever do so.

“No Leading” is a statement of purpose. I have always had natural leadership qualities, and many people in my life through the years have granted me perhaps more decision-taking power than I am due, but it is not my goal to convince others to follow me. (That said, subscriptions and donations are much appreciated.) I believe it to be more important to provide logical and strategic blueprints that others may adapt to their own purposes, for achieving a libertarian social order (or any other great accomplishment) will require many independent, decentralized efforts.

Finally, “Largest Zero” is a reference to my role here at Zeroth Position. As I am the site founder, payroll master, head of IT, chief editor, and the most prolific author, my role here is far larger than anyone else’s. Should this site grow to become far more popular and profitable than it currently is, I will seek to offload some of these responsibilities so that I may focus entirely on thinking and writing, but this interpretation fits for now.

Personal Motivations

I have explained my choice of pen name, but not why I chose to use one, so let us review the motivations from the first section. Agents of the state have only ever been inconvenient to me, but the dissident materials I and my fellows here have authored do not rise to a level that would currently be punishable by law in the United States as of yet. Of course, this may change someday, but no one who lacks sovereign power is truly safe from this.

However, as previously noted, the forces of inquisition are now mostly private and decentralized, with ever-changing standards for what makes them target someone. This is of little concern to me, as traditional employment has long remained elusive for me regardless of whether or what I write, and my audience is not yet large enough to attract much public ire from the Cathedral or its minions. I have very little at present that they could take from me, so this is also not my motivation for having a pseudonym. Furthermore, my legal name is something of an open secret in libertarian circles, in that anyone who needs to know (e.g. for the purpose of inviting me to a speaking engagement) has little difficulty in learning it. An enemy could presumably do so as well.

Several other people share my legal name, and at least one has contributed to scientific research. But no one with my name writes in a similar vein to my own work. Though I had several profiles at the content mill I wrote for prior to launching Zeroth Position, and I chose my pen name partly based on the site name, I did not choose the name to experiment with a different writing style; this simply happened over time as I changed my focus and learned more information. I currently write only for this site (though that may change in the near future) and am not highly prolific, so I do not use multiple pen names. Neither does anyone else write under my pen name.

My motivations for going pseudonymic are purely aesthetic and personal. The aesthetics were described in the previous section. The personal (beyond the personal nature of the aesthetic) is primarily that I wanted a new name to fit with my new website, a venture which marked a change in my life. “Nullus Maximus” thus functions somewhat like an Asian art-name. Another factor is that I noticed the neoreactionary scene a few months after starting Zeroth Position, and almost everyone there has a pen name. While the libertarian reactionary views I espouse are significantly different from neoreaction, there is also significant overlap, with a large number of shared concepts and diagnoses of the modern world. At the time, I thought that I might better fit into their circles if I behaved likewise. In hindsight, their response to me under my real name probably would have been nearly identical.

For now, I intend to keep the pen name and maintain course more generally, but with one major change. In early 2018, I began working on a book, but now I have started devoting more effort to actually doing everything necessary to complete a masterpiece of original thought. This will necessarily mean less articles here until the book is finished. Once the book is ready, I will seriously consider dropping the mask and going for a writing career under my legal name, though the subject matter of the book would fit my pen name very well. I may also write articles for other sites under my legal name or initial name in the near future.

To all who wondered about the meaning of my pen name, both denotatively and personally, now you know.

References:

  1. Curran, Steven (2001). “’Could Paddy Leave off from Copying Just for Five Minutes’: Brian O’Nolan and Eire’s Beveridge Plan”. Irish University Review. 31 (2): 353–375.
  2. Dockter, Warren (Oct. 2011). “The Tale of Two Winstons”. The Historian. 11: 10–12.
  3. Thomas, Donald (1996). Lewis Carroll / A Biography. Barnes and Noble, Inc. p. 129.
  4. “StephenKing.com – Frequently Asked Questions”.
  5. Cross, J. W. (ed.), (1885). George Eliot’s life as related in her letters and journals, 3 vols. London: William Blackwood and Sons. Vol. 1, p. 431.
  6. Furtwangler, Albert (1984). The Authority of Publius: A Reading of the Federalist Papers. Cornell Univ Press. p. 51.
  7. Deseriis, Marco (2010). “’Lots of Money Because I am Many:’ The Luther Blissett Project and the Multiple-Use Name Strategy”. In Cultural Activism: Practices, Dilemmas and Possibilities, edited by Begum O. Firat and Aylin Kuryel. Rodopi, Amsterdam. p. 65–94.
  8. Bauckham, Richard (Sept. 1988). “Pseudo-Apostolic Letters”. Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 107, No. 3, p. 469–94.
  9. A Brief History of Persian Literature, by the Iran Chamber Society.
  10. Weston, Mark (1999). Giants of Japan: The Lives of Japan’s Most Influential Men and Women. New York: Kodansha International. p. 116.
  11. Durant, Will (1950). The Story of Civilization, Vol. 4, The Age of Faith: Constantine to Dante – A.D. 325–1300. Simon & Schuster. p. 241.

Twelve Observations on the Covington Incident

On Jan. 18, 2019, students from the all-male Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky participated in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. That evening, a video emerged of students in front of the Lincoln Memorial after the march. They were shown doing chants as they do at their sporting events, wearing Trump hats and appearing to be in a standoff with Nathan Phillips, 64, a Native American who was standing very close to one of them (later revealed to be high school junior Nick Sandmann, 16) and beating a drum while the student stood and smiled. This video produced intense backlash from Cathedral brahmins and establishment cuckservatives alike as it was spread throughout social media on the morning of Jan. 19.

More videos were later posted online that gave more context to the situation. These showed an earlier encounter between the students and the Black Hebrew Israelites, a racist hate group who were chanting slurs and obscenities at the boys before Phillips got involved. Several of the students were doxxed and threatened in various ways. Some of those who spoke out against the boys retracted their statements and apologized, while others have continued attacking them. Twelve observations on these events follow.

1. People see what they want to see. Monica Hesse at the Washington Post described the story as “a Rorschach test,” writing, “As much as we might try to see what happened from Sandmann’s perspective, or from Phillips’s, the perspective we’re ultimately seeing it from is our own.” Julie Irwin Zimmerman at The Atlantic echoed this sentiment, writing, “tell me how you first reacted, and I can probably tell where you live, who you voted for in 2016, and your general take on a list of other issues.” Those who wanted to see a white male racist and those who wanted to see a white male victim each projected their desires onto Sandmann. This is why it is important to reserve judgment until enough facts are available to make a sound judgment, which in some cases will never happen.

2. Despite all of the establishment haranguing, Sandmann’s smile and stance are perfectly understandable. A teenage boy was confronted by a 64-year-old man who started beating a drum next to his face. Sandmann’s expression conveys the look of a young person who is observing an older person act foolishly but does not wish to confront the elder more substantively, both out of respect and out of a desire to avoid unnecessary escalation. The establishment media, however, treated his expression in an Orwellian manner:

“It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.” —George Orwell, 1984

3. The Covington students deserve praise for their restraint. The boys stood through more than an hour of insults from the Black Hebrew Israelites and the provocation of Phillips. Though they would have been demonized much further if they had responded with more than standing their ground and performing the occasional tomahawk chop along with the drumbeat, it would be difficult for most people, including their critics, to endure so much and remain so calm.

4. Social justice ideology predictably backfires. The behavior of the Black Hebrew Israelites toward both the Native American group and the Covington students is an example of a larger problem. Social justice ideology teaches that all black people are part of an oppressed victim group that lacks institutional power, and defines racism as prejudice plus power. In effect, this makes it impossible for blacks to be racist, and when a group of people are given carte blanche, there will always be some who take advantage of the circumstance. Whether it is the Black Hebrew Israelites insulting Native Americans and whites or Louis Farrakhan calling Jews termites, the underlying ideology of social justice is to blame for holding them blameless.

5. Phillips thoroughly mischaracterized both the events and himself. He said that the Covington kids “were in the process of attacking these four black individuals” and “looked like they were going to lynch them.” He also claimed that they chanted, “Build that wall.” No evidence for the chant has been found, and the larger video shows that the Black Hebrew Israelites were the initial instigators.

Phillips’ account of himself is not much more accurate. He says he is a Vietnam veteran who served in combat, but records show that he was not deployed overseas and had several breaches of conduct at the time. He told CNN that it is “time for lies to be not accepted anymore,” and his testimony is a good starting place.

6. Those who planned the trip for the students did them a disservice. The Covington students are likely being taught the leftist, civics class, politically autistic version of how political change occurs, which only works for leftist goals that have elite support. A proper understanding of political change recognizes that public demonstrations are counterproductive for rightist purposes, and would instead have the boys focus on becoming strong members of their communities who will someday be able to assist in a restoration.

7. Rightists consistently lose ground partly due to perfidious leaders. When leftist activists get into trouble, their elites back them up even when they are obviously guilty. But when rightist activists get falsely accused, they also get betrayed by their own elites, who cannot kowtow to the opposition quickly enough. In a joint statement issued on Jan. 19, Covington Catholic High School and the Diocese of Covington apologized to Phillips and said they were investigating. “We will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion,” the statement said. Nicholas Frankovich of National Review Online penned a blistering hit piece on the Covington boys, saying,

“They mock a serious, frail-looking older man and gloat in their momentary role as Roman soldiers to his Christ. ‘Bullying’ is a worn-out word and doesn’t convey the full extent of the evil on display here. As for the putatively Catholic students from Covington, they might as well have just spit on the cross and got it over with.”.

Both have since been taken offline. The Archdiocese of Baltimore also rushed to judgment and had to apologize once the broader context was revealed. Many other cuckservatives failed the Covington test as well. But apologies are not good enough. Even if one receives the sacrament of penance, there is still an earthly penalty for one’s sins, and theirs should be to lose their standing in whatever movements or communities they purport to lead and speak for.

8. Never apologize to the left. In a Jan. 23. interview on NBC’s “Today” show, Savannah Guthrie tried to get Sandmann to apologize and admit fault on his part. Though Sandmann had the uncertain demeanor of a teenager about him, as one might expect, he defended his actions well. It is important to avoid caving when dealing with a leftist mob, as apologizing only emboldens them to escalate their attacks. As Vox Day explains,

“Normal people seek apologies because they want to know that you feel bad about what you have done and that you will at least attempt to avoid doing it again in the future. When [social justice warriors] push you for an apology after pointing-and-shrieking at you, what they are seeking is a confession to bolster their indictment. They are like the police down at the station with a suspect in the interrogation room, badgering him to confess to the crime. And like all too many police these days, the SJWs don’t really care if you did it or not, they’re just looking for a confession that they can take to the prosecutor.

Be aware that once they have launched an attack on you, they will press you hard for an apology and repeatedly imply that if you will just apologize, all will be forgiven. Do not be fooled! …The SJWs are simply looking for a public confession that will confirm their accusations, give them PR cover, and provide them with the ammunition required to discredit and disemploy you. Apologizing will accomplish nothing more than hand them the very weapons they require to destroy you.”

9. Whether by legal or extralegal means, doxxing must become a punishable offense. Though it is unlikely that Sandmann and his classmates will face much lasting damage from the efforts of doxxers against them, doxxing has become a serious threat to the life, liberty, and prosperity of anyone who deviates from Cathedral orthodoxy. Unfortunately, legal repercussions for doxxing are currently lacking in most jurisdictions, so protecting innocent people from the antics of misguided and/or unscrupulous activists and journalists requires direct action as of this writing. This may take a variety of forms, from counter-doxxing to extralegal violence, but the goal should be to criminalize the release of another person’s information without their consent.

10. Most of those who call for violence do not understand violence. Following the short, out-of-context video, many leftist celebrities and pundits expressed a desire to punch the Covington kids, including SNL‘s Sarah Beattie, CNN contributor Reza Aslan, and The Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah. Disney producer Jack Morrisey went further, calling for Sandmann to receive a Fargo-style woodchipping. Threats against Covington Catholic resulted in the school being closed on Jan. 22 and opening under heavier guard on Jan. 23. It is unlikely that any of these people have any real knowledge of how violence works, either at the personal level or the broader political level. They risk provoking a response that they cannot possibly handle.

11. Freedom of the press should not mean freedom of the lügenpresse. When freedom of the press first became part of the Anglo-American legal tradition, it generally applied only to people who owned one and was far more limited than today. But the offense of libel has steadily become harder for civil plaintiffs and criminal prosecutors alike to prove in court, while the press now consists of anyone who communicates to the public in a manner other than direct spoken word. We have now reached a point at which it is possible to abuse freedom of the press to destroy innocent people by spreading malicious lies about them without suffering any significant sanction, unless the aggrieved party decides to step outside the law and resolve matters the old-fashioned way.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said, “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” The Covington incident is an excellent pretext for taking such action.

12. The incident is rooted in the problem of the commons. A national monument, like any other common space in a statist society, is said to belong to everyone. But that which supposedly belongs to everyone really has no clear ownership. That which is unowned and valuable will be sought by various people and groups, some of whom will eventually be at cross purposes. When this happens, a conflict will occur that could have been prevented by clear, strong property rights.

Liberty Minecraft Quarterly: Winter 2019

Introduction

…it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things…” –Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Anarchists and libertarians frequently debate three topics concerning a free society: how to establish a free society, how to prevent its decline, and how to provide infrastructure. One might infer that the goal is to prepare by identifying and overcoming barriers to reduce the probability of failure and minimize start-up costs. These questions are often approached by extrapolating from areas where freedom exists, by engaging in thought experiments, or by trial and error.

When asked how institutions will function, anarchists like Michael Malice and Jeff Berwick often point out that most human interactions already take place in a state of anarchy.[1,2] Austrian economists sometimes explain markets with fictional stories about the island of Robinson Crusoe.[3] While these stories are useful, such thought experiments consider the actions of imaginary people with imaginary preferences. Neither approach can reveal a black swan event, the unexpected extreme consequence.

Rather, ideas must be tested in reality to discover events that appear obvious in hindsight, but here the costs and risks are high. People will make huge and often avoidable mistakes. Changing social and economic systems will risk human lives, freedom, and valuable capital. An opportunity to test ideas at significantly lower cost and risk is a valuable way to protect life, liberty, and property. Virtual worlds provide this opportunity because the people involved and their preferences are real.

Liberty Minecraft is a profit-generating[4] demonstration of a free society, where real people with real preferences act without state intervention. This article is the second in a quarterly series of updates on the Liberty Minecraft project, and it will explore four topics: specialization at the level of town management, developing land conflicts and their origin, the costs and benefits of culture building, innovation and it’s appearance in market prices. The goal is to demonstrate that a digital world is a rich environment for exploring a free society.

The New Stockholm Purchase

On Aug. 31, 2018, a player named Heronproject started to acquire land in the west end of Scar City. If one judges by initial investment, his plan was ambitious. In our first month he accumulated more than 12,000 square meters of high-value property. It was called New Stockholm. One could see in New Stockholm the expression of a preference to organize one’s own affairs in a new way, but development came to a halt just days after it began. Heronproject was and remains a busy Swede. Someone with greater ability, more time, or both would have to take over. To achieve his goal, Heronproject decided to sell New Stockholm.

On Nov. 10, a player named Haksndot purchased this land package for an undisclosed eight-figure sum. Heronproject sold everything except for Ruby Tower, making a tidy fortune and a calculated bet: Haksndot has experience. He is the owner and creator of Hrafnia, the largest estate in the Old World. He is the monopoly owner of Origo Station and The Netherway, the first and largest transit system in the New World. He also founded the Terrain and Agricultural Restoration Project, a free market initiative from the Old World.

By Nov. 12, New Stockholm was gone. In its place, Haksndot has created an opportunity to try again with a few iterations. Unlike other districts in Liberty Minecraft which sell management privileges (where Haksndot would remain the property owner) he has split the land into plots which may be purchased outright. The plots are intersected by privately owned streets and squares.

By Jan. 18, 2019, Haksndot had sold at least seven houses in New Stockholm for a total price of $9.06 million. Of the five players to buy claims, Heronproject was one of the first. Investing in land at a flat rate of $10,000 per square meter represents a considerable challenge for these new buyers. One plot has been converted into a market for trading and producing Nether Wart. Nether Wart is primarily used when brewing potions, but it is inexpensive to produce and represents a small part of our world’s economy. It is hard to imagine how any of these new buyers will return their cost of capital and earn a profit, but one need not imagine. Whether and how these buyers will profit will be discovered in time.

Developing Land Conflicts

Some players of Minecraft engage in an activity called griefing; they join a Minecraft server and damage unprotected property. Liberty Minecraft deals with this in two ways: players may purchase land using Claim Blocks which use computer code to protect the land, or they may invest in land which the rightful owner has intentionally left unprotected. Digital security is necessary to protect digital property because aggressors may use digital means like proxy servers and aliases to rejoin our world after they are banned. With property rights hard coded into the world, our players are free to do everything they are able to do, provided they do not break the server rule.

Even so, when players invest in land they do not own, this often ends in conflict. This scenario has been playing out underneath New Stockholm. One of the new denizens, named Aewheros, decided to core out the underground and build roads. Colloquially, this new area is being called Underholm. In time, claim owners will extend their land claim and interrupt Aewheros’ plans, settling the conflict over who owns what. The rightful land claim owners retain the option to protect any land beneath their claim. Until their land claim is extended into the ground, the area remains unprotected land which anyone may use.

Aewheros has also permitted a player named illdeletethis to build on his own claim. The plan was for illdeletethis to start building a home and then purchase the land, but now the house appears to be finished and still no sale has been made. illdeletethis has even built a second house which was not part of the initial plan. In this way, Aewheros will experience both sides of a conflict over land by investing in land he does not own and permitting another to invest in land he does own. This produces a remarkable opportunity to see how one person will navigate both sides of a difficult conflict over scarce resources.

The first conflict has already occurred. A visitor named shortanglewinner discovered Underholm on Jan. 9, and immediately started digging up the unprotected roads. Aewheros, who was present at the time had no means to protect his investment. He decided to complain that shortanglewinner was being unfriendly. In time, perhaps Aewheros will be grateful that the flaw in his design was exposed quickly because after his flaw was clearly demonstrated it was quickly solved. Haksndot, the proper land owner, exercised the option to extend his claims. Today, the main roads of Underholm are protected property belonging to Haksndot. He has also granted Aewheros permission to continue building the roads, a privilege which Haksndot is extending to the claim owners of New Stockholm. This demonstrates how exercising exclusive control over private property is a means to end conflict.

Culture Building, Warning Signs, and Dealing with Aggressors

Beginning in 2017, I decided to research and develop a new custom for Liberty Minecraft. This custom was developed with the aid of scientific research on attrition rates as presented by Daniel Coyle in The Culture Code.[5] When players join the New World, I attempt to perform three tasks: 1) bring them food to share, 2) engage with them to learn what they are best and worst at, or what they like about Minecraft, and 3) present them with the symbol of Liberty Minecraft and the tool which players use to claim land, a Golden Axe that bears their name.

When I succeed in performing all three tasks, this custom has produced incredible results which seem wildly out of proportion to their cost. Players who have joined since the launch of our New World and participated in this welcoming custom have been far more content and secure in their social status and more willing and interested to participate in group activities. This success has been encouraging, so I will develop an in-game player networking system which will prompt our community to perform these tasks.

Attempting and failing to perform these three tasks has come to represent a warning that the new player or players may not integrate into our community easily. In December 2018, a group of five new players joined Liberty Minecraft. Within ten days, three of these players rejected my one rule and were banned. A fourth left while being investigated for using hacks. I was unsuccessful in sharing food with this group. Four of the five did not offer an opportunity and the other one walked away when I attempted to share food. None of the five responded when I asked questions about them. None were presented with Golden Axes.

Other warning signs were present. The players were dressed as Klansmen or as Hitler. For completeness, a fifth player wore a Belgium flag, but the significance of this is lost on me. Also, when players asked them to not swear this new group simultaneously claimed that swearing is against the rules (it is not) and continued to swear, choosing to violate a rule which they claim exists. This shows both a denial of reality and a willingness to violate perceived rules.

Liberty Minecraft’s one rule is to resolve nonviolent disputes nonviolently. Anyone who rejects or violates this rule will be banned. On Dec. 9, one of the group of five advocated that communism is a better way to organize society than anarcho-capitalism, and was banned. Another player rejected my one rule in regard to political matters and was banned. The remaining three players immediately started responding all at once to claim their friend was banned for arbitrary reasons. For nine minutes they spammed the game’s chat with the same inaccurate statement. This group was organized. One hour later, a third player admitted that he would not accept my one rule and was banned from Liberty Minecraft.

Lessons and Observations

Hostile players will use the good will of our community to build up arms. The group asked where they could purchase gunpowder and other materials to create TNT and fire-starters. Unclaimed land was later destroyed or burned with items they purchased. This is not a violation of my rule because there is no dispute. Unclaimed land in Liberty Minecraft is my unprotected property. I permit the players to use it or purchase the land from me.

In my absence, players of Liberty Minecraft will protect the natural landscape and impose social norms by acquiring land and raising prices. Aewheros and a player named K9us teamed up to purchase land surrounding the group’s land claim, protecting it from further damage. A player named Remixster was granted permission to replant the burned forests. K9us granted this permission at no charge and Remixster was given saplings to begin restoring the forest. One of the group who had destroyed land also requested permission. K9us offered to sell them permission for $30,000 per block which is the highest price ever demanded for access to land in Liberty Minecraft.

Rule breakers may be prepared. The group used mass messaging to claim that their group members were banned for arbitrary reasons. They invested at least three days of their time to build up supplies. They may have been using hacked game clients but left before I could make this determination.

Developing Private Health Care

In Survival mode, a Minecraft player will die when their 10 heart icons run out. A Minecraft player can lose health in many ways, for example; when they are struck by a monster, by drowning or falling a great distance, or by walking into a Cactus. Health can be restored by eating food, by consuming Health Potions, or by standing within range of a Regeneration Beacon. Over the last four months, players of Liberty Minecraft have reduced the price of Beacons by 96 percent.

To obtain a Beacon, Minecraft players must find a Nether Fortress and battle tens or hundreds of Wither Skeletons until they recover three skulls. Next they must summon The Wither, a very powerful monster. Players must defeat the monster to recover its Nether Star. Finally, with a Nether Star in hand, they can craft a Beacon. When Liberty Minecraft’s New World opened, there were no Beacons. First players had to remove the greatest obstacle to one’s use of a product: its nonexistence.[6] Haksndot and a player named Cardano_ff were both early developers in The Nether, one of Minecraft’s three dimensions. Each player created a Wither Skeleton farm and each farm made the task of producing skulls more efficient and less hazardous. This demonstrates that capitalists in a digital free market will eliminate hazards as a means to protect their digital capital.

On Oct. 11, Cardano_ff offered a Beacon on the market for $10 million, representing between ten and twenty hours of Diamond mining. The next day Haksndot listed one for $5 million. Cardano_ff matched his price, but it was unclear what price the market would support. The price fell to $3 million, then $2.5 million, then $2 million. At every step Haksndot and Cardano_ff offered the same price. It is unclear how many sales occurred during this time. Haksndot has expressed that most of his early Beacon sales were transacted “off the books.” This occurs whenever players trade without using a ChestShop. This is a common practice when an item is in short supply and/or is traded rarely.

After one week on the market, two Beacons sold for a total of $4 million on Oct. 18. It seems that these trades were enough to produce a shortage because the market price started fluctuating higher. The price rose to $2.5 million, then $3 million, and by Oct. 20 it had reached $5 million. That day, a third supplier entered the market when K9us offered to sell a Beacon, matching Haksndot’s price of $5 million. By Oct. 24, the price had fallen to $2 million, and once again two more Beacons were sold. By Nov. 11, the price had fallen by another 25 percent, and two more buyers purchased three Beacons. The price moved back to $2 million. The market remained shallow and a low volume of trading was causing quite a splash. Whenever new buyers entered at a lower price, the price rebounded.

A Market Shock

On Dec. 1, a fourth supplier appeared. A player named freakdown shocked the market by offering Beacons for $1 million each, cutting the market price in half. Two new buyers appeared. One of them was K9us, a former seller. As before, new buyers appeared at lower prices and the market moved, except this time the price fell. On Dec. 7, freakdown’s price was $600,000, another 40 percent decline. At first it appears to violate the old adage: “this time is [never] different.” In fact this has happened before, a month earlier when a player named Shahayhay cut prices on Blaze rods for the second time. The cause in that case was innovation. What about now?

A significant, unidentified event had occurred, and it was changing player behavior. Players started buying out of convenience, buying in bulk, and buying for the first time. A player named TheScrubJay decided to purchase a Beacon simply because it was easier than going home to fight a Wither. After all, he would want more than one. On Dec. 23, Aewheros bought three more beacons at the bulk rate of $483,333 each. Then on Jan. 7, freakdown cut his price to $400,000 or ten Beacons for $250,000 each, another decline. A player named NorraLigan entered the market to purchase her first Beacon at the new low price. In four months our players have provided over $18 million in value to each other, cutting the price of Beacons by 96 percent. A player named Mr_Digs now provides free health care at Ivory Tower, simply for stopping by.

The Nether Factory

It is clear that Beacon prices have fallen, but at least one big question remains: what was the cause? Our market experienced a spike in demand after an 80 percent decline. Then the price fell by half, and then it fell by half again just for good measure. How did freakdown do it?

Supply increases with falling prices only happen in a couple of ways. Either the cost of materials has dropped, or the process has become more efficient, reducing the time to deliver the end product. For Beacons, the most expensive producer good is a Nether Star, which requires three Wither Skeleton skulls. Obtaining these skulls started as a dangerous and labor-intensive task. Players entered The Nether and traversed an uncharted, inhospitable landscape of lava lakes and strong monsters in search of a Nether Fortress.

The risk of death is rarely higher, and the cost of dying can set players back hundreds of thousands of dollars. Armor, weapons, and tools which players carry and use while exploring The Nether can range in price from $50,000 to over $1 million. Better gear is often more costly. For example, a fully enchanted Diamond Sword is longer lasting, hits harder, and increases the probability of dropping valuable loot. However, in Oct. 2018, this sword was trading for $250,000. On the other hand, a successful return trip may take five hours, resulting in an opportunity cost of $4–5 million. A failed expedition represented millions in losses. Players have to balance risks to maximize their expected return. Both Cardano_ff and Haksndot overcame these obstacles to produce the world’s first Beacons. Today, rail lines connect directly to both farms, and the risk of death is practically zero with a round trip time of less than one hour.

To increase production, freakdown had to do something different. He searched for hours to find and prepare the perfect Nether Fortress, which allows him to spawn monsters in a relatively concentrated area. The farm produces enough Wither Skulls to create more than 200 Beacons per day. The materials used in construction are worth less than $100,000, but his opportunity cost brings the total investment to nearly $25 million. Today, the entire farm can be operated automatically and produces gold, coal, and bones as byproducts.

Conclusion

Liberty Minecraft provides an opportunity to protect life, liberty, and property by examining a free society at low cost and low risk. Players spontaneously organize their affairs to build competing roads and towns. Conflict over unowned land occurs regularly. Innovating in cultural development provides a way to welcome new group members and identify troublemakers at an early stage. When aggressors enter into the community, the members will band together to enforce norms and protect the natural landscape. Finally, the presence of innovation can be observed in prices when a spike in demand is met with a sustained increase in supply and decline in prices. These and many other lessons are experienced in Liberty Minecraft.

References:

  1. Malice, Michael; Rogan, Joe (2017, May 23). “Joe Rogan Experience #963 – Michael Malice.”
  2. Berwick, Jeff (2019, Jan. 15). “Regulation vs Anarchy: A Last Chance to Free Humanity.”
  3. Calton, Chris (2018, Jan. 24). “Minecraft and Crusoe Economics.” Mises Institute.
  4. Dempsey, Nathan. “Fiscal 2017 Donor Report.” libertyminecraft.com.
  5. Coyle, Daniel (2018). The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. New York: Bantam Books.
  6. Mises, Ludwig von (1958, Sept. 9). “Liberty and Property.” Mises Institute.

Book Review: Cyber Smart

Cyber Smart is a book about protecting money and information from cyber criminals by cybersecurity expert Bart R. McDonough. The book explains what bad actors are trying to accomplish through their uses of technology, as well as whom they target, where and when they strike, and how they operate so that people may take effective countermeasures. The introduction mentions the various attack vectors to be examined in detail later, then presents the five basic steps to cybersecurity that he repeatedly advocates throughout the book: keep devices updated, use two-factor authentication, use a password manager, use up-to-date antivirus software, and create data backups. This bit becomes a bit tedious as the book goes on, but each of these five points is good advice. He then lists several myths about cybersecurity that will be debunked throughout the book. McDonough finishes the introduction with a brief overview of the two parts of the book.

The first part contains nine chapters which cover the targets, goals, and methods of cybercriminals. This section is really only necessary for beginners in cybersecurity and other uninformed people, but it is good to have all of its information in one place as a go-to reference to refresh one’s memory even if one is well-versed in its subject matter. Chapter 1 begins with a story of wire transfer fraud, then tells the reader how to prevent oneself from being scammed in this manner. After providing some statistics, McDonough explains the differences and relationships between data breaches, hacks, and cyberattacks. The second chapter tells the story of notorious hacker Albert Gonzalez, then delves into hacker demographics, motivations, and methods. McDonough discusses white-hat and black-hat hackers, but does not mention grey-hats. He gives a brief overview of nation-state attackers, but mostly saves this subject for the final chapter of the book, as this is not the primary cyberattacker for most people. Hacktivism is discussed, then the chapter concludes with several stories of hackers who were caught.

In the third and fourth chapters, McDonough explains that the goal of hackers is usually profit and that their methods are different means toward that end, even for black-hats who served prison time and became white-hats. He tells the reader how stolen credentials are used and sold on black markets, then calls attention to medical identity theft, a rising threat in recent years. The various types of malware that afflict computers gets a thorough overview, as does the concept of social engineering, which is the use of deception to obtain personal information. The rest of Chapter 4 details the various types of scams that one may encounter. It is here that one sees the link between cybersecurity and security in the physical world.

Chapter 5 lays out the chain of events that comprise a cyberattack and explains how each step in the chain presents the defender with an opportunity to stop the attack. The sixth chapter begins with a story about finding a random USB stick that turns out to have planted by bad actors to spread malware, then explores other methods of attack, such as phony emails, impersonation in phone calls and texting, fake websites, and compromised Wi-Fi. In the seventh chapter, McDonough returns to the “Brilliance in the Basics” strategy, elaborating on each point. He recommends that some older, more vulnerable applications not be used, but does not consider the possibility of a fake security patch that could infect a device with malware while posing as a legitimate update. Two-factor authentication is rightly praised, but using more factors is barely mentioned in the book. After explaining what a password manager is, McDonough advises the reader to install an antivirus program and keep it updated. Unfortunately, details on their operation are left sparse, and there is no mention of blacklist versus whitelist antivirus methods. The chapter concludes by introducing cloud storage, which is covered in more detail later.

The eighth chapter is very short, and deals with mistakes. McDonough explains how to avoid being the source of a data breach that could be very costly to oneself or one’s employer. To end Part I, Chapter 9 offers advice on how to respond to an attack that has already occurred, going through the steps for dealing with phishing, malware, ransomware, and email compromise. The only questionable advice here is to pay the ransom for ransomware if all else fails instead of just eating the loss, as this encourages further attacks.

Part II contains twelve chapters which discuss specific threats and recommendations for different parts of a person’s life, with a list of steps to follow at the end of each chapter. It is here that one is most likely to learn something new. Chapters 10 and 11 deal with identity theft of yourself and your children, respectively. McDonough discusses how bad actors obtain personal information with which to commit identity theft. One wonders why he does not recommend incinerating identifying documents instead of merely shredding them before disposing of them. He directs readers to a website which allows them to check whether their information has already been compromised. He explains the difference between fraud alerts and security freezes while showing how companies like Lifelock are essentially scams. The rest of Chapter 10 offers advice for protecting one’s medical history, preventing identity theft against deployed military personnel, and helping senior citizens avoid scammers. Chapter 11 explains why bad actors target children for identity theft, which is a problem that lacks sufficient public awareness. Most of the defenses are similar to the measures for adults, with minor variations. The chapter also deals with online gaming predators who target children, general Internet use by children, and smart toys. Oddly, McDonough does not advise against using smart toys at all.

The twelfth chapter is about protecting money. It begins with an example of identity theft and illegitimate purchases, then surveys major types of financial fraud, including wire transfer fraud, home equity fraud, IRS impersonation, credit and gift card fraud, card skimmers, and several other types that target unbanked and underbanked people. Strangely, there is no discussion of how to protect one’s cryptocurrency holdings. Chapter 13 is a brief foray into protecting an email account. One may be surprised at just how insecure and naive the average person is while reading this chapter, from using the same password for personal and business accounts to expecting providers of free services not to sell their data.

Protecting files is the subject of the fourteenth chapter. It begins with a story about an intern who accidentally deletes important files to demonstrate how threats are not the only concern for file protection. This also illustrates the problem of having a single point of failure, which is solved by backing up important data. McDonough advises the reader on proper cloud storage and local storage, then discusses how to find the best cloud provider for one’s needs. Chapter 15 is about social media and the large amount of fake and spam accounts there that are used by bad actors. The dangers of posting too much personal information, especially concerning recent real-world activities, is reiterated from Chapter 5. McDonough explains how and why third parties engage in data mining on social media. His advice at the end to try to think like a bad actor would when taking countermeasures is very important and should appear more frequently in the book, perhaps even as a sixth “Brilliance in the Basics” item.

The sixteenth chapter is about protecting website access and passwords. The dangers of reusing passwords across sites is repeated, then McDonough gives an elementary explanation of password hashing. He then presents some shocking statistics about how many people fail to change passwords even after they have been cyberattacked. He discusses password managers again, as well as an up-and-coming technology called universal second factor (U2F). For those without such means, McDonough offers a formula for generating modestly strong passwords and several mistakes to avoid.

Chapters 17 and 18 cover computers and mobile devices, respectively. Cryptocurrency finally gets discussed, but only through malware that hijacks a device to mine cryptocurrency. The use of visitor devices by websites to mine cryptocurrency is covered, as is the volunteering of computing power to solve other complex problems. The mobile device port-out scam and the SIM swap scam are explained, then McDonough offers tips for preventing them. He compares and contrasts the security features of iPhones and Androids. When discussing device loss and theft, he cites some disturbing statistics about what people will do when they find someone else’s lost device. His advice not to use jailbroken devices is good for non-experts, but those who are highly knowledgeable can keep such systems secure.

The nineteenth chapter is about home Wi-Fi security. McDonough first warns the reader about outdated security setups, but acknowledges that the most secure setup, WPA2, has been cracked and WPA3 is not yet available. Threats detailed here include freeloading neighbors, malware, and improper router management. Though virtual private networks are mentioned throughout the book, they are not sufficiently explained until this chapter. Chapter 20 covers issues concerning the Internet of Things (IoT). Like the USB sticks from Chapter 5, IoT devices can come infected. The dangers of hacked cars are discussed, followed by problems with botnets, ransomware, and spyware. With the horror stories that McDonough shares about hacked IoT devices, one is left wondering why anyone would want to use them when perfectly functional non-linked devices exist.

The final chapter offers tips specifically for travelers. It begins with a story about Wi-Fi hacking on an airplane, then broadens to public Wi-Fi concerns in general, such as fake networks, man-in-the-middle attacks, packet sniffing, and physically snooping on a user. Next, McDonough discusses scams that tourists may suffer at the hands of locals. The chapter concludes with advice for traveling in general, then advice for how to take extra precautions in foreign countries.

Cyber Smart reads quickly for over 250 pages. The book brings to mind the old proverb, “To survive a bear attack, outrun the person with you.” This is to say that bad actors will always be with us, and they will probably always victimize someone because someone will not use proper security measures. But with McDonough’s advice, that someone need not be you, for being cyber smart is mostly a matter of not being cyber stupid. For the most part, he does an excellent job of leading the reader through the necessary elements of cyber-hygiene, but there are some dubious omissions, unanswered questions, and stylistic issues. The absence of a chapter in Part II dedicated to protecting one’s cryptocurrency holdings stands out, as does the lack of advice throughout the book for users of operating systems other than Windows and Macintosh (e.g. Linux). Some minor typographical errors are present throughout the book, and the doubled table of contents seems redundant.

Though this book is full of important information that can help many people avoid being victimized, and many people are unaware of much of this information at present, one who is familiar with cybersecurity measures is left wondering whether a deeper problem exists that no book like this can solve. But it would be wrong to fault McDonough for trying. A book of this sort unavoidably has a relatively short shelf life, as technology marches on at a rapid pace, and the development of quantum computing will require radical rethinking of some security measures. But for 2019, Cyber Smart is one of the best attempts at advising the average person on cybersecurity, and a second edition can be written when needed.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Not-So-Current Year: 2018 In Review

Though the specific demarcation of the passage from one year into another is a rather arbitrary social construct, it does provide a useful annual period for self-examination and remembrance. Now that 2018 has entered the history books, let us take a look back at a year’s worth of essays and review the not-so-current year.

We begin, of course, with last year’s article of the same kind. Some articles in this list are sequels to articles in that list. Aside from that, we may move on.

Benjamin Welton and I began 2018 by addressing some leftover matters from the end of 2017. He explored the quick decline of Nepal from monarchy to democracy to communism in less than a generation, while I responded to a thoroughly misguided attack by Bill Wirtz on Hans-Hermann Hoppe and other right-libertarians.

The left’s warfare on language and the dangerous potential thereof is important to understand. I began exploring this phenomenon by examining common shortcomings among leftist popular authors, looking for the origins of their follies, and showing how these factors can cause a civil war if left unaddressed. In a follow-up essay, I contemplated how the innovation of language becomes stunted and weaponized in political struggles, as well as what may be done to counter such tendencies.

Book reviews have long been a part of my intellectual output, and 2018 was no different. I read and reviewed less books than in 2017, which included Robert Taylor’s Reactionary Liberty, Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus, Surjit S. Bhalla’s The New Wealth of Nations, James Ledbetter’s One Nation Under Gold, and Insula Qui’s Anarcho-Monarchism.

I began a new series called “Agreeing With Statists For The Wrong Reasons”, in which I consider how government policies which seem terrible at face value can be exploited to achieve liberty and/or undermine statist goals. This was loosely inspired by Morrakiu’s series “Agreeing With Liberals For The Wrong Reasons”, in which he showed how progressives unwittingly help the alt-right. The subjects covered in this series in 2018 included cryptocurrency bans, conscription, anti-discrimination laws, minimum wage, and impeaching Donald Trump. More episodes will come next year.

Insula Qui presented a grand project called “On Libertarianism and Statecraft” to lead into her book Anarcho-Monarchism. The introduction discusses other schools of thought and makes the case for why a libertarian theory of statecraft is necessary. Part I explains the folly of political activism. Part II explores the implications of property rights in a libertarian social order. Part III deals with the differences between states and governments, as well as the basics of private defense. Part IV explains the necessity of governance, what form it might take, and who will govern. Part V considers the effect that trust levels in society may have on the form of a libertarian social order. Part VI explores the relationship between authority and liberty. Part VII uses social contract theory to expand libertarian philosophy. Part VIII considers the nature of the natural elite. Part IX explores the role of trust in society. Part X examines the role of time preference in forming a libertarian social order. Part XI considers the role of externalities that go beyond strictly material concerns. Part XII explains how greed is frequently overrated by libertarians. The series may or may not have more entries.

In 2017, I argued that the United States debt ceiling should be eliminated. However, the debt ceiling is only part of the problem. Another part is the practice known as a government shutdown, and I argued that this practice should also be ended.

On March 9, right-wing activists Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone were detained and deported while attempting to enter the United Kingdom to give speeches and interview other rightist personalities. A similar fate also befell Lauren Southern on March 12. I wrote a list of observations about these events.

Following the Parkland shooting, a student movement to restrict access to firearms became prominent. I deconstructed this effort to show how it is orchestrated by the political establishment using tactics common to other such movements.

My glossary of social justice warrior terminology is the most popular article ever posted at Zeroth Position. After two years of continued craziness from radical leftists, I decided to revise and expand it to create a second edition. This is likely to need continual updating, and two years is a proper amount of time between editions, so look for the third edition in 2020.

I began an article series called “The Color Theory of Conflict”, in which I attempted to provide a grand unified theory of conflict. Part I defines the various colors and defends those definitions against likely objections. This was unfortunately put on the back burner, but more parts will come next year.

In human discourse, logical fallacies are quite common. But when opposition to these fallacies goes too far, further fallacies and sub-optimal behaviors can result. I examined the most common examples of this behavior in an effort to counter such second-order problems.

Sometimes, the lens of examination is best turned inward to correct one’s own missteps. Such was the case for an article I wrote in 2017 about the concept of degeneracy, so I published a revision in which I considered the possibility that civilization can be degenerate.

Welton returned with a case that American intervention in Syria is not only not right; it is not even wrong.

My poetic side suddenly came out in May, resulting in song lyrics critical of elected politicians in general. It resurfaced in September with song lyrics about Bitcoin, in November with an anti-election song, and in December with a Bitcoin Christmas song.

Libertarians have mixed views about capital punishment, but no one else seems to have considered the value of forming communal bonds by working together to execute the worst offenders. I did this at great length through the lens of ritual magick. Later, I used the problem of pedophilia among Catholic clergy to consider the limits of capital punishment, and found that there is a strong case for executing child molesters.

Welton offered an excellent history of the rise and fall of the Boy Scouts, along with the characteristics that a replacement organization should have in order to prevent a similar leftist takeover.

Doxxing has long been a problem in political circles, but it became worse in 2018. I reasoned through the limits of its acceptable use, then proposed a comprehensive solution for reining it in to those limits.

Since the beginning of recorded history, a teleological element has been present in historical narratives. I argued against this practice, promoting instead an agnostic historiography.

An incident on cable news over Trump’s immigration policies provided an opportunity for examining useful tactics for making leftists look more unhinged than usual. I showed how Corey Lewandowski’s treatment of Zac Petkanas was a master class in this regard.

I attempted to find the ideal amount of force that a civilization should use to maintain itself, coming to the conclusion that, contrary to mainstream liberalism and libertarianism, the bare minimum is not ideal.

Welton took on an important issue that has long been waiting for a proper reactionary response: the undue reverence given to the Magna Carta by liberals of all stripes.

In 2017, I argued the case for reining in censorious technology giants by threatening the revocation of their incorporation. I followed this up with an argument against the corporate form itself as a creature of statism that would almost certainly not exist in a free society. Continued problems with corporate censorship that touched me personally led me to formulate a holistic approach to solving the problem.

Qui returned with a thorough survey of the producerist school of thought, which has both significant overlap with and significant difference from libertarianism.

On July 23, Social Matter published an article by Mark Christensen in which he argued that conservatives should favor larger government. I welcomed Darien Sumner, the fourth additional writer at Zeroth Position, in August to rebut Christensen’s arguments point-by-point. A September 25 article by Henry Olson that criticized libertarianism from the right merited a more measured response.

Welton and I figured that if libertarians and rightists are going to be slandered as fascists and Nazis no matter what, then we have nothing to lose by examining real Nazis and seeing what can be learned from their example. The result was an excellent piece on the rise and fall of the Sturmabteilung (SA).

The Walking Dead comic series and the television show based on it contain many themes which are of interest to the student of libertarian philosophy and reactionary thought. I explored the many ways in which Negan’s group resembles a state apparatus, as well as what one can learn from those who resist his rule and ultimately overthrow him. The third part was released in 2018, covering the second half of Season 7. The fourth and fifth parts, covering Season 8, were planned for 2018 but will instead appear in early 2019.

In 2016, I wrote a guide to political autism as it pertains to libertarian commentators. I followed up that effort with a similar overview of autistic conservatism.

On September 4–7, the United States Senate held hearings on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy. I wrote a list of observations on the events. After Democrats launched an unprecedented smear campaign, I wrote another list of observations.

Nathan Dempsey returned after an 11-month hiatus to begin a quarterly series of updates on his Liberty Minecraft project, the first of which ran on October 24.

Clashes between different strains of political universalism, as well as proselytization into territories ruled by non-universalist governance structures, led to the unprecedented losses of life and property in wars and genocides during the 20th century, and is capable of doing much more damage going forward. I examined the history and practice of universalism, its pathway to genocide, and what libertarians may do about it in a sweeping essay.

Welton offered a history of imperialism and colonialism, considering the bad name it has unjustly acquired, the joint-stock and free state models, and how colonialism might be used to create a libertarian social order.

Black Friday is revered by most libertarians as a celebration of free-market capitalism. I updated my explanation of why this reverence is misplaced.

My final think piece of the year will continue into 2019, but the first part offers a detailed explanation of the concept of immaterial technology.

All in all, it was an interesting year full of occasions to make sharp libertarian and reactionary arguments. May 2019 bring more and better!

Book Review: Anarcho-Monarchism

Anarcho-Monarchism is a collection of 30 essays by libertarian author Insula Qui. The book explores various issues from a libertarian reactionary perspective, all of which factor into a synthesis of anarchy and monarchy.

The introduction sets out the purpose of the book, which is to synthesize liberty and authority in such a way as to avoid the apparent contradictions in doing so. According to Qui, this is done through careful nuance. She recommends an alternate order in which one may read the book, but this is only necessary for those unfamiliar with any libertarian reactionary thought. She includes here a disclaimer that the work is not professionally edited, which unfortunately is more glaringly obvious than in her previous book.

In What is Anarcho-Monarchism?, Qui offers an extended introduction. She proposes that the non-aggression principle is necessary but not sufficient, and that property rights will lead to natural hierarchies that culminate in monarchs. These monarchs are different from the absolute rulers of history, in that they rule based on merit and ability rather than coercion.

The Contradiction of Freedom explores the limitations of freedom as pertains to the mutual incompatibility of each person being free to do as one will, which naturally leads to people violating each other’s freedoms. The differing conceptions of freedom offered by competing political ideologies motivate further conflicts in this regard. She summarizes these conditions thus:

“To fight for freedom qua freedom is to fight for other people to be able to impose their vision of freedom onto you. To fight for freedom is simply to fight for the dominance of an unspecified party, and as such if you fight for freedom you fight for subjugation. However, there is still the slight hope that you will be the one doing the subjugating.”[1]

She resolves this problem by advocating as a pragmatic matter that there must be a pursuit of autonomy to avoid needless conflicts in which people seek to impose their vision of freedom upon everyone else. Qui concludes the essay by denouncing the egoism of Max Stirner as the worst combination of freedom and autonomy.

In The Final Arbiter, Qui deals with the problem of final resolution of disputes. She considers various possibilities for how such a final arbiter may exist outside of a monopolistic legal system. Unfortunately, she accepts the opponent’s framing of the question and spends all of her effort in trying to answer it rather than rejecting the concept of a final arbiter as either nonsensical (in that no person or institution can absolutely guarantee that any issue will be resolved forever with no possibility of review) or guaranteed by nature (the dead cannot dispute and every person eventually dies, so the Grim Reaper is the final arbiter).

The fourth essay is The Centralization of Defence, and it argues against the contention of Robert Nozick and others that market anarchy would eventually be undone by centralization of defense agencies leading to the re-establishment of states. Qui admits the advantages of centralizing defense, such as volume discounts and the reduction of transaction costs. But as she explains,

“[P]eople do not constantly need viable alternatives. Rather, what is necessary is the possibility of alternatives emerging.”[2]

In other words, the mere threat of competition can inspire existing companies to provide better service. But more importantly,

“[T]he system of law enforced by the agencies of defence is independent from those agencies that provide physical protection. There is no one agency that should have control over both law and force, and these industries would always be separate. If these industries are not provided by different agencies, the defence agency would become a dictator and would become what it was supposed to defend against.”[3]

The separation of law creation and law enforcement into entities that are not under the same umbrella would be absolutely necessary to avoid the tyranny of modern nation-states. Finally, there is the problem of a powerful defense agency simply conquering a territory and declaring itself a new state. Qui admits that this is possible but not certain, which while less than ideal, is better than the certainty of the current system.

Pro-War, Anti-Nation offers a strong case for the incompatibility of nationalism with warmongering, noting the dysgenic effect of sending the best men to die, the economic ruin brought by wartime destruction and production diversion, and the loss of moral foundation. Qui argues that true nationalism has been corrupted by imperialism, and restoring non-interventionist thinking is the path back to sanity. To her credit, she recognizes the possibility of restoration of martial virtues in a defensive war.

In The Necessity of Force, Qui argues against the utopian ideas of some left-libertarians who advocate a goal of universal nonviolence. She writes,

“ There will always be people who use force and there will always be people who need to respond to force with force to ensure that the original initiator of violence can be brought to justice. …If there are no people who are willing to use force to secure relative peace for people who do not want to use force, then people who are willing to use violence for personal gains would always achieve unjust outcomes for the sake of themselves.”[4]

She also demonstrates that this need not devolve into a state, as the incentive structures involved give advantages to defenders over aggressors.

Qui considers the corruption of libertarian philosophy for the purpose of appealing to leftists in Brutal Freedom. Here, she considers the flip side of full personal responsibility to its logical conclusion of social Darwinism, though she does not use the term in this essay. Though charity may mitigate brutality somewhat, Qui argues that some brutality will remain, as these charities will only help those who are willing to help themselves and just need a temporary step up.

All Men Are Created Equal is a brief essay that addresses that all too common liberal fiction. As usual,

“Definitions change and juxtaposing a modern notion with a classical one results in a misunderstanding of much thought in the classical tradition.”[5]

As such, she compares modern notions of equality with the classical liberal idea of getting rid of titles of nobility and other such birthrights. This classical idea of human biological diversity and meritocracy is contrasted with the modern idea of equality of outcome. But Qui commits an error at the end, arguing for classical equality instead of natural inequality.

Social Darwinism is given direct treatment in the ninth essay. Qui argues that far from trying to deny such an accusation, capitalists should embrace this sort of thinking. She illuminates the difference between actively killing and passively allowing death, showing expectation of survival to be a revolt against nature. But then she makes a dubious assertion:

“If a system allows people to gain unearned advantages, that system ceases to be a social darwinist [sic] one. This is because it starts to encourage parasitism and negative qualities instead of the advancement of all individuals.”[6]

Left unsaid is what constitutes an unearned advantage. There is also the problem that one does not earn one’s own genetic code, and that parasitism and other negative qualities are part of the evolutionary process. However, she correctly recognizes that a Darwinian process applies not just to who can survive, but who will occupy each station in life. She argues that social Darwinism will prevent charity from being wasted on those who will never become productive members of society, with resources instead flowing to those who prove themselves best at managing them.

In The Rule of Law, Qui briefly contemplates the impossibility of any political system securing the rule of law, as any such system places someone above the law. She argues for a separation of law and state:

“The only solution to this is to remove the managerial position when it comes to law from being legitimized by the coercive use of force and to put law on the same level as every other industry. We can have the managerial position of law be put onto the free market where each person is able to patronize the providers of law and where each person is also free to not do so. Thus the people who are in the position that is traditionally one of governance become reduced to the level of every person who is not within the system of governance. In that manner, it is possible to create a situation where there are no privileged positions and there is real equality before the law.”[7]

Of course, this raises the usual objections of the wealthiest patrons ultimately deciding the law by which enforcers they will hire for which purposes, the free rider problem, and the possibility of re-emerging states, none of which are adequately addressed in the essay.

Against Taxes is the first long essay of the book, and approaches the case against taxation in economic terms rather than the usual moral arguments. Qui uses opportunity cost, price mechanisms, the lack of market accountability of the state, the cost of collecting taxes, the cost of prosecuting tax resistance, wealth transfer from competent stewards to incompetent stewards, and the impossibility of creating a taxation scheme that does not disproportionately harm the poor to make this case. She concludes the essay by debunking the idea of public goods.

In High Trust, Qui provides an overview of various types of individualism, settling on ethical individualism as most conducive to a libertarian social order. She also considers the role of homogeneity in strengthening trust. Unlike mainstream libertarians, Qui accepts the impact of genetics:

“Due to evolutionary pressures in different ecosystems and climates, genes change in humans when they are in different areas of the world. [T]hese genes affect the culture and they create the basis for culture. Furthermore, even if a member of a genetic group comes into contact with the culture of another, they still have the genetic incentives of their original culture.”[8]

The essay concludes by explaining why high trust is important. Where Qui goes astray is with her insistence on nonviolent means of enforcing social norms; violence has almost always entered into this process and will likely continue to do so. There is also no mention of the possibility for technology to reduce the need for trust.

In Liberty, Property, Society, Qui argues against critics who accuse libertarians of being anti-social because they reject coercive institutions. Defining liberty as self-determination and explaining property as a rational method for allocating scarce resources, she concludes that this allows for social interaction to be maximized. She explains the difference between capitalism and corporatism, which critics of libertarianism (and many libertarians as well) frequently confuse. The essay concludes by exploring the reversal of the argument, that a lack of liberty and property will undermine society.

With The Family in Capitalism, Qui begins addressing the relationship between libertarianism and the far-right. She addresses the far-right contention that capitalism is anti-family. Unlike left-libertarians, many of whom view the breakdown of traditional family structures as a positive, Qui argues that the state and the corporatism it enables has done this to everyone’s detriment. She shows that both states and corporations are incentivized to destroy the family as a challenger and impediment to their power. She understands that capitalism is an amoral process; garbage inputs result in garbage production, while good inputs result in the production of virtue. The ending deals with women in the workforce, and bears quoting at length:

“[T]here is the…point that capitalism pushes women into the workforce…so there is a need for fascist economics to avoid this phenomenon. This argument has a compelling point. Capitalists are directly benefited by there being a surplus of labour to make those who own capital able to lower wages in the economy. This would eventually correct itself and, given enough time, the supply of capital would reach the demand for capital. But capitalists hold political power in an unfree market. We can say that when the capitalists hold both political and economic power, capitalism has inherent forces that destroy the family. This cannot be achieved with economic power alone. There would be no way to force women into the workforce and keep profits from increasing the size of the workforce. However, in a free market, the capitalists cannot prevent additional capital from entering the market and cannot alter the amount of labour in the economy by incentive structures.

Furthermore, it is simply profitable due to the division of labour for women to stay home and take care of the children while the father works. This is for multiple reasons, usually men earn more since they are more productive and more willing to work longer hours. Women are more apt at taking care of children and more emotionally attached to the process of child-rearing. Thus, if a couple aims to produce healthy children in a good family with enough wealth, that couple needs a division of labour that would fit the strengths of all people in the family.”[9]

The Case for Tradition argues against “libertine hedonihilism,” as Qui terms it. This is the left-libertarian view of liberty as freedom to engage in any degenerate behavior whatsoever as long as no one else is aggressed against. She argues that the family is the bedrock of society, therefore a stable libertarian order will be undermined by anything that erodes family values. She writes,

“Every society is organized along some lines, even a society with no coercive power system creates a system of exclusion, rules of interaction, and other norms to stabilize social life under the system. These social foundations may be implicit or explicit, however, they will always exist and thus we should make sure that the everpresent [sic] organizational principles result in a society that produces the best quality of life for the people involved. The libertine recoils at this statement as he firmly believes that all people should be left alone to be as degenerate as they want to be and no person should be bothered by any sort of moralism. But even the libertine must function within a society and that society will have organizational principles.”[10]

Qui explains the difference between individualism as isolation and individualism as independence. She then describes tradition thus:

“[T]radition is not to be understood as the corrupted american [sic] concept of tradition. So-called family values, military histories, and constitutions do not constitute a historical basis for organizing society. Rather, tradition is the all-encompassing concept of the cultural heritage and the knowledge of all people involved in those traditions. Tradition is the manifestation of the cultural group that created the traditions. …Simply put, tradition is the spontaneous historical order of a nation and to not respect tradition would be to not respect proper social structures.”[11]

She urges libertarians to appeal to rightists instead of leftists as a more natural fit, much as Murray Rothbard did in his 1992 essay Right-Wing Populism. She finishes the essay by thinking of tradition as a collection of best practices through the ages, which while imperfect, was good enough to bring people this far.

In Community, Tradition, Liberty, the same matters are approached from the angle of community as a mitigating factor for the degeneracy that can result if people regard themselves as atomized individuals. The role of social capital as an economic factor is also discussed, along with lower transaction costs and better economic calculation as people form tight-knit communities. She then considers the problems of implementing traditional values absent liberty.

The Two Laws of Nature begins a streak of five controversial essays, in which Qui attempts to bridge the liberty-authority divide. She describes her undertaking as follows:

“In the niche sphere of radical politics, you find two very contrasting American intellectual traditions with their own notions of what is the natural law. American white nationalists and fascists occasionally claim that the law of nature forms a brutal order of self-defence and racial animosity. Radical libertarians interpret the law of nature as something that guarantees rights to each person. I would propose a synthesis of these two laws of nature to combine them into a proper set of moral values. This could form a social order that is a combination of libertarian and extreme traditionalist-nationalist values. Furthermore, this synthesis is highly similar to classical concepts of natural law which combine both personal morality and rights.”[12]

She considers fascist ethics as being rooted in animal behavior and adapted to take account of the differences between humans and lower animals. This sets up hierarchies as the natural form of organization, while egalitarianism and democracy are revolts against nature. By contrast, Qui views libertarianism as constructed from reason, from which the non-aggression principle and private property rights emerge. But curiously, she refers to libertarian theory as “empty tautologies.” She describes her proposed synthesis thus:

“Each person ought to value their tribe, know their place in society, attempt to form a family, and defend themselves. This is not to say that each person can succeed at all of these, there are certain inherent limitations. [H]owever, these things should be required for living a perfectly moral life. The tribe does not have to be a race or a nation, the tribe would rather be the community in which you find yourself.”[13]

The next essay is National Socialism and Libertarianism, and it deals with common premises shared between libertarians and national socialists, which are commonly believed to be diametrically opposed. Qui believes these to be that society should emerge organically, opposition to parasitism, recognition that the state is an institution of force, and intolerance of communism. The manifestation of each of these differs greatly; is the parasite the state or Jewry, are parasites best removed by the market or the state, and so on. She closes with a warning:

“[I]t is very easy to become disillusioned with freedom when one realizes for which purposes freedom is used. Because there are overlaps in the general worldview of fascists and libertarians, it becomes easy to simply remove the seemingly problematic aspect of freedom that leads to various ills within libertarianism.”[14]

“However, this does not mean that libertarians are similar to fascists or that it is necessarily libertarian to intermingle with fascists.”[15]

Authoritarianism Versus Libertarianism deals head-on with the central issue of the book. Qui argues that liberty and authority are incompatible in the political realm, but can come together outside of politics. Again defining liberty as self-determination, she finds the enemy of liberty to be not authority but coercion. She writes,

“When strong command structures and a social order predicated upon a strong focus on authority can defeat coercion at large in society, then authoritarianism is more libertarian than perceivedly unauthoritarian structures. This may seem impossible. After all, when there are strong structures of command it seems like there could not be any room to exercise liberty. But this ignores human action and psychology. These strong command structures do not liberate people from command structures but rather give them the liberty to decide what they do outside authority.”[16]

This kind of liberty under authority comports well with both traditional and neoreactionary thinking. Qui also has an explanation for why this is poorly understood among libertarians:

“But the people who want to be left alone to practice their liberty are also the people who are viscerally opposed to being constrained by command structures. This means that they often overlook how these seemingly oppressive structures can actually benefit the ability to exercise control over your own life. A government that makes a few demands in a very authoritative manner should always be preferable to a government that makes many demands in a democratic manner.”[17]

She spends the remainder of the essay considering the benefits of non-coercive command structures over coercive ones as well as a lack thereof.

Qui’s flirtation with neoreaction continues in Strong and Small. Here, she argues that an ideal state exercises hegemonic control and strong political authority, but does not needlessly involve itself in every facet of society. She uses public choice theory to show that states are inclined to grow, either by becoming stronger or larger (or both). She contends that a strong state will primarily look after its own interests, while a weak state will do the bidding of various special interests. But this contention is dubious because a strong state can have special interests and factionalism internally rather than externally, leading to similar problems. Her conclusion is that a state can either function as an anarcho-tyranny (as many currently do) or as a liberal autocracy, a strong state that does very little.

Libertarianism and Fascism began as an article here at Zeroth Position, though the version in this book is significantly different. Qui compares the spectrum between libertarianism and neoliberalism that leads to left-libertarianism to the spectrum between libertarianism and fascism that can lead to a type of libertarian reaction. She provides a history of the various fascist movements, though this history is not exhaustive. Next comes an overview of fascist ideology, which Qui explains as placing the advancement of the nation above all else. Of a potential synthesis of libertarianism and fascism, she writes,

“Fascism undoubtedly preserves property more than left-wing socialism does, thus fascist sympathies cannot be construed as completely anti-libertarian. But one cannot take both nation and property as ultimate goals. This is because the conflicts between these goals would have to be solved by means of arbitrary decision. This means that libertarianism and fascism cannot be combined as ideologies because their premises are different. One may combine republicanism, minarchism, monarchism, anarcho-capitalism, etc. into a broad political movement, as the premises of these positions are sufficiently similar. But there is no way to create a big tent movement that can accurately represent the interests of both fascists and libertarians; the premises come into too much conflict.”[18]

She concludes that although fascists and libertarians are incompatible in the long-term, they can work together against common enemies by setting aside their incompatibilities to deal with common enemies.

Conversely, the lengthy essay Producerism was later adapted from this book into a Zeroth Position article. Qui’s contention that efficiency is the base value of libertarianism is questionable at best. She describes producerism (differently from most sources) as trying to increase production in general, both of material and immaterial goods. Her claim that producerism is the only metaphysically consistent form of political philosophy requires more support than is given, as she does not prove uniqueness as needed. Much of the rest of the essay repeats material from earlier in the book. This essay would have benefited greatly from exploring the dangers of overproduction as a source of degeneracy instead of containing so much repetition.

Communitarian Libertarianism deals with yet another possible synthesis between libertarianism and another school of thought. Qui blames the strategic errors of Friedrich Hayek for the top-down focus of political libertarianism, which has so far failed to convince elites to be more libertarian for entirely predictable reasons. Though she correctly notes that warfare against the state would be required for the masses to implement libertarianism, she does not contemplate the possibility of a rogue elite leading the way to liberty, as neoreaction does. Qui instead focuses on building communities as a bulwark against the leviathan state, as this is what worked in pre-modern times.

The provocatively titled The Final Solution to the Banking Question argues for a fundamental reform of banking systems. Qui begins by explaining what is wrong with contemporary banking, which essentially functions as a globalist system of debt slavery. Before proposing a solution, she describes a conflict between two sets of critics of banking:

“Our approach to banking should not be about turning a blind eye to unethical action, rather it should wholly be a method of critique and instituting a market solution to a state problem. And there are plenty of people who critique banks from an anti-market perspective. They propose different solutions as they feel that banks are unethical by nature and not by circumstance.”[19]

She provides a standard free-market defense of interest as a measure of time preference. Her proposed solution is quite similar to the Banking Act of 1933 (better known as Glass-Steagall), in that she would separate savings and loan banks from investment banks, disallowing any institution to practice both. Strangely, there is no mention of cryptocurrency and its potential to eliminate the need for banks as we know them.

Familism refers to primacy of the family rather than the individual or any larger collective. Qui argues that families cannot be separated into discrete sub-units in economic analysis, as the income and spending of the individuals is too intertwined. More broadly,

“In cultures that have not been subject to American cultural imperialism, there is often no such thing as individualism divorced from the family. In most of the world, individualism does not imply that the individual should be independent from the constraints of the family, but rather that individuals should be focused on their own family. However, due to the increasingly westernized [sic] nature of the world, this is not a commonplace meaning.”[20]

She contends that unless families consist of degenerate and/or aggressive people, alienated individualism and non-familial collectivism are less optimal than familism. According to Qui, one redefines one’s family through redefining oneself, and advancing one’s family by giving rise to the next generation is the purpose of economic action.

Neo-Feudalism explores the common ground between libertarianism and feudalism, which is quite rich despite libertarianism’s origins in anti-feudalism. Qui makes the case that a natural landed aristocracy will arise out of libertarian standards for property ownership, but the absence of coercion would allow for more turnover of incompetent landowners. Second, the defense structures of anarcho-capitalism greatly resemble that of feudal lords, but Qui again hand-waves the issue of potential re-establishment of states. Even so, the destruction wrought by modern nation-states dwarfs anything under feudalism. She also notes the benefit of using mercenaries for lessening “my country, right or wrong” sentiments.

The Case for Guilds argues that trade unions are a statist corruption of the older system of guilds, which should be reborn and adapted for the future economy. Qui highlights the issue of guilds being run by the best in their line of work, while unions are run by the best at rent-seeking. The means by which guilds ensure quality in ways that unions, trade schools, and universities do not are also discussed.

In Greatness, Qui contemplates the conflict between modernity and potential for excellence. She blames the Enlightenment for abandoning the virtues of previous eras:

“Rationalism became replaced by populism, religious tolerance became replaced by institutional secularism, human advancement became replaced by anti-traditionalism, and an opposition to absolute and tyrannical monarchs became an opposition to monarchy. This was not helped by the opponents of the enlightenment [sic] as they were not staunch traditionalists, but rather simply anti-rationalists and similarly opposed to greatness. They only helped create the monsters of the enlightenment and the popular philosophy that started the downfall of the world.”[21]

This assessment of the Counter-Enlightenment is only partially accurate; for example, Joseph de Maistre opposed a rational foundation for governance because he believed it would only lead to arguments devolving into violence over whether this or that particular government was legitimate. Qui goes on to expose the contradiction between popular democratic will and eternal values. She then describes the progression from Enlightenment values to progressivism:

“Without equality, liberty, fraternity we would have never reached egality, entitlement, collectivity. It is a logical progression from wanting to abolish institutional privilege to wanting to abolish every kind of privilege. The same is true with wanting the ability to be undisturbed by other people and the ability to be undisturbed by the fundamental realities of the world. Respect for your fellow man can easily lead to demanding that the focus of each person be on their fellow man.”[22]

In Kings by Merit, Qui advocates authority as the means for creating virtue, which she believes liberty cannot do on its own. Why this would involve removing authority from economics or politics is left an open question, as degeneracy is especially prone to manifest there. She describes the libertarian king as a societal patriarch who is followed voluntarily for his leadership skills, which she believes is necessary for most people to avoid being led astray by the various demagogues that arise from time to time. Qui views the king’s function as combating parasitism and embodying virtue. She writes,

“The king would logically then be the person in society who has the highest degree of virtue and the highest degree of merit, voluntary monarchy is the ultimate meritocracy as the most qualified person would have the most power. The…person who is the most righteous and most capable would be the king. …Monarchy in any other way and democracy in all ways results in situations in which the rulers are people who do not embody virtue, although this happens far more with democracy than with monarchy. It does not mean that involuntary rule will always necessarily be against virtue, but we need exemplary kings to embody virtue and we only get exemplary kings through voluntary monarchy”[23]

The final essay, For an Anarchist Monarchy, closes the book on its central theme. Qui discusses the failures of combining monarchy with democracy, then proposes a synthesis of monarchy with anarchy by retaining the best principles of both while mitigating the potentially destructive aspects of both with a voluntary monarchic system.

The book ends with a single page advocating further reading of her series “On Libertarianism and Statecraft” here at Zeroth Position.

The first word that comes to mind when describing the entire collection is ‘unfinished.’ The grammatical constructions and punctuation are awkward throughout. A book of this many essays should be categorized into sections of similar subject matters, and the table of contents lacks page numbers. Each of the essays would benefit from a much deeper bibliography, as there are many important points which are simply asserted without proper support. The essays are also somewhat disjointed, in that they do not refer to each other to save space. That being said, the thoughts expressed in this book are sufficiently intriguing to merit reading despite these flaws.

Rating: 3.5/5

References:

  1. Qui, Insula (2018). Anarcho-Monarchism. p. 22.
  2. Ibid., p. 38.
  3. Ibid., p. 40.
  4. Ibid., p. 57.
  5. Ibid., p. 66.
  6. Ibid., p. 71.
  7. Ibid., p. 80.
  8. Ibid., p. 104.
  9. Ibid., p. 123–4.
  10. Ibid., p. 127.
  11. Ibid., p. 129.
  12. Ibid., p. 146.
  13. Ibid., p. 153.
  14. Ibid., p. 162.
  15. Ibid., p. 160.
  16. Ibid., p. 168.
  17. Ibid., p. 169.
  18. Ibid., p. 189–90.
  19. Ibid., p. 224–5.
  20. Ibid., p. 232.
  21. Ibid., p. 257.
  22. Ibid., p. 259–60.
  23. Ibid., p. 268–9.

Ten Observations on the Brett Kavanaugh Smear Campaign

On September 4–7, the United States Senate held hearings on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy. After the hearings, Kavanaugh was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in clinical psychology at Palo Alto University, while they were both in high school. An additional hearing on this matter occurred on September 27. Other accusations were made by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. The FBI investigated Kavanaugh again, finding no corroboration of these accusations. Kavanaugh was then confirmed to the Supreme Court on October 6. Ten observations on these events follow.

1. The entire spectacle was unnecessary. In July, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) received a letter from Dr. Ford, who wished to remain anonymous, that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in 1982. Rather than reveal this to other Senators then so that arrangements could be made to resolve the issue in a manner that was respectful of both Ford’s desire to remain anonymous and Kavanaugh’s reputation, she sat on this information until it was politically expedient to release. Republicans then made the mistake of treating this at face value rather than as a cynical political ploy. However, they did seem to learn the lesson once the other accusations came forward, but some political damage was already done.

2. None of the accusers are remotely credible. Of the three, Ford’s claims sounded the most believable, and it is quite possible either that someone else victimized her or that she has false memory syndrome. But she could not recall the time or place, and all of the people that she named as witnesses said that the party at which the alleged assault took place never happened. The difficulties and inconsistencies involved in getting Ford to testify before the Senate as well as in her other statements further discredit her accusations. A similar accusation from Ramirez concerning a drunken party at Yale was likewise unsupported by any witnesses or evidence. Taking the cake, of course, are Swetnick’s allegations of parties at which women were drugged and gang-raped. She claims to have gone to ten such parties, despite being aware of their nature. Upon questioning, she also could not name a corroborating witness; one person she named is deceased, two others say the events never happened, and another claims not to know Swetnick.

3. Democrats used this tactic because it worked on Roy Moore. Following President Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, there was a special election in Alabama on December 12, 2017 to fill Sessions’ vacated Senate seat. A few weeks before the election was held, nine women accused Moore of sexual misconduct in the late 1970s, some of whom were minors at the time of the alleged incidents.[1] Moore claimed to know some of the women, but denied any wrongdoing. Trump stood with Moore, but few other Republicans did.[2,3] Democrat Doug Jones narrowly and unexpectedly defeated Moore, becoming the first Democrat to hold a US Senate seat in Alabama since 1992.

4. The contention that the presumption of innocence is only valid in a court of law is politically autistic at best. Several Senate Democrats defended their treatment of Kavanaugh by claiming that because the hearings are not a criminal trial, the standard of presumption of innocence need not apply. The most charitable interpretation, indeed the only one that does not assume active malice on their part, is that they are pathologically unable to understand context. The norm of innocent until proven guilty did not magically appear out of the ether, only to be found in courtrooms; it was developed in Western cultures in response to the horrors of witch hunts by morally panicked peasants and arbitrary punishments by despotic rulers. To ignore this is to risk the return of such practices, which is certainly malicious if one does understand the implications.

5. “Listen and believe” is religious nonsense. Many leftists claim to want a secular society based on reason and science. Indeed, the idea of designing and imposing the ideal social order by such means lies at the heart of progressive liberalism. But “listen and believe” rejects science, as it calls not only for belief in the absence of evidence, but belief despite all available evidence suggesting the opposing conclusion. This reveals progressivism as the religious faith that it is, especially given the number of Kavanaugh’s classmates who have spoken in his favor.

6. The term “rape survivor” is redundant at best, a power play most likely, and a form of Holocaust denial at worst. A person who does not survive rape is a murder victim first and foremost, so calling oneself a “rape survivor” is a redundancy. Of course, anyone who expects leftist activists to accept such cold hard logic will be sorely disappointed, so let us work through their emotional manipulations. Wanting to empower victims seems natural, as it can prevent further victimization and aid in the healing process. But such empowerment is weaponizable; if victimhood is granted high social status, then it will be actively sought out, especially by people who wish to wield power. Not only does this behavior harm real victims, but it minimizes the experiences of victims of greater atrocities. The practice of identification of victims of crimes as survivors began with Holocaust survivors, who endured many indignities at the hands of Nazis. Sexual assault is a terrible experience, but it pales in comparison to experiencing a concentration camp. Let us therefore reserve the term “survivor” for those who have faced the worst horrors and managed to remain alive.

7. Mentioning whiteness is a verbal tic that social justice warriors cannot control. One can become so accustomed to speaking about a topic that it becomes automatic. Social justice warriors can develop such an obsession with “deconstructing whiteness” and attacking “white privilege” that they broach the subject when it does not apply. This explains why some commentators have denigrated white people in general and white males in particular even though all people involved in the accusations against Kavanaugh are white.

8. The accusations against Kavanaugh crowded out more substantive reasons to oppose his nomination. Kavanaugh’s record on government surveillance and other Fourth Amendment issues is troubling. During the Bush administration, he worked against transparency and Congressional oversight. He also effectively defended Obamacare, claiming that courts had no business ruling on the matter at the time. These positions should give pause to any libertarian or rightist, but Democrats were too focused on their in-house grievance industry and too much in agreement with Kavanaugh on these issues to argue such a case.

9. Sexual assault accusations have an interesting way of disappearing once the accused is no longer up for election or nomination. Following Moore’s defeat, no criminal charges were brought against him, and media coverage of the matter ceased. This is because the accusations against him served their purpose. Following Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Ford’s attorneys stated that she will not pursue further legal action against him. This is because her accusations can do no more damage. There is far too little evidence to win even a civil court case, and removing a Supreme Court Justice has only been attempted once, without success.

10. The tactic of defaming people with sexual assault allegations will not be as effective when used by Republicans against Democratic nominees. Unless Republicans in positions of power remain thoroughly cuckolded, there will be future efforts to smear nominees advanced by Democrats. But the establishment media, academia, and the rest of what neoreactionaries call the Cathedral have a leftist bias, so the GOP will not enjoy the complicit treatment that Senate Democrats and Kavanaugh’s accusers have. Instead, even credible accusations with supporting evidence will be ridiculed and dismissed as conspiracy theories, while the victims and witnesses are revictimized by a hostile lügenpresse. The only exceptions will occur when a particular leftist has outlived their usefulness in order to present a facade of objectivity. There is also the matter that Machiavellianism is rarely a match for steadfast dedication to fantasy.

References:

  1. Martin, Jonathan; Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (Nov. 14, 2017). “Roy Moore Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct by a Fifth Woman”. The New York Times. p. A1.
  2. Sullivan, Sean; Viebeck, Elise (Nov. 13, 2017). “McConnell calls on Roy Moore to end Senate campaign following accusations of sexual misconduct”. The Washington Post.
  3. Jackson, David (Dec. 4, 2017). “Trump endorses Roy Moore for Alabama Senate seat despite sex assault allegations”. USA Today.

The Case For Executing Pedophile Priests

Since the reports made by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald in the 1950s[1], it has been known that the Catholic Church has a problem with pedophilia in its clergy. Media publicity of the problem began in the late 1980s[2], and it has been in the news periodically ever since. The majority of the abused children were between the ages of 11 and 14, but some have been as young as three years old.[3,4] The United States has the highest number of reported cases[5], followed by Ireland[6], but is a problem in many countries with a significant Catholic presence.[7] A 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops found that 4,392 Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 1950 and 2002 have been plausibly accused by 10,667 individuals of sexual abuse of a minor, with “plausibly” defined as “neither withdrawn nor disproven”. This represents about 4 percent of the priesthood.[8]

The response of the Church has been lackluster at best. While Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have spoken out against the abuse of children by priests[9,10], Pope Francis accused victims of making false allegations[11] before apologizing for doing so.[12] Lower members of the Church hierarchy have argued that media coverage of sexual abuse has been excessive.[13] Before 2001, the Vatican left management of such cases to local dioceses.[7] Even after taking a more active role, a 2004 report found that the Church had moved priests accused of sexual misconduct to other countries and put them into settings where they would again be in contact with children.[14] Because the law in most countries privileges communications between clergy and congregation, those who confess their behavior under the Sacrament of Penance tend not to have their crimes made public.

Some priests have been defrocked and laicized, while others live in retreat houses in a condition resembling house arrest.[15] In many cases, the crimes are reported after the statute of limitations has passed, so the offenders cannot be imprisoned. Since 1950, civil suits against the Church have resulted in more than $3 billion in damages[1,16], and at least six dioceses in the US filed for bankruptcy. Sexual abuse scandals cost each American diocese about $300,000 each year.[17]

This problem is of interest for a libertarian reactionary because it provides an example for consideration of the limits of capital punishment. In the abstract, putting an offender to death for a rape, let alone a lesser sexual assault, may seem disproportionately harsh. But real life is not lived in the abstract; within context, there are several factors that merit escalating punishment to the level of the sword. Let us consider the aggravating factors that weigh in favor of executing pedophile priests, then consider the religious, libertarian, and reactionary arguments for capital punishment of child molesters in general.

Effects on Victims

Let us begin by exploring the damage that child sexual abuse can inflict. Child sexual abuse may result in internal lacerations, bleeding, and damage to internal organs which can be fatal in the worst cases.[18] Due to the immaturity of a child’s genitalia, there is a heightened risk of sexually transmitting infections from abuser to child.[19] The traumatic stress inflicted by child sexual abuse has deleterious effects on brain development, including reduced volume of the left hippocampus and corpus callosum[20], reversed hemispheric asymmetry, greater left hemisphere coherence[21], abnormal transverse relaxation time in the cerebellar vermis[22], electrophysiological abnormalities[23], and increased incidence of ictal temporal lobe epilepsy-like symptoms associated with over-excitation of the limbic system.[24]

The psychological impact of child molestation is even more pronounced, affecting between 51 and 79 percent of sexually abused children.[25] These include attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder[26], anxiety[27], conduct disorder[26], depression[28], dissociative identity disorder[29], eating disorders[26,30], low self-esteem[26], oppositional defiant disorder[26], post-traumatic stress disorder[31], sleep disturbances[31,32], and somatization[33]. People who were sexually abused as children are more likely to withdraw from social activities[34], abuse alcohol and drugs[35], treat animals cruelly[36], engage in self-harm[37] and risky sexual behaviors[38], and commit suicide[25]. Victims also demonstrate lower performance on standardized academic tests, with strong correlation between duration of abuse and magnitude of lower scores.[39] Sadly, these effects are not limited to the victims, as the children of child sexual abuse victims are more likely to have emotional and social problems.[40]

Biblical Covenant

With the severity of this offense understood, let us examine the Christian argument for capital punishment of child molesters. The Bible is the foundational document of the Church. In it, many relationships and communities are formed and discussed in terms of covenants, including the Church itself. To knowingly and willfully enter into a covenant is to be bound by its terms, which for clergy means that they should be subject to the rules and punishments prescribed in the Bible. The Bible contains several verses which apply to the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. First, let us turn to Leviticus:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Lev. 20:13 (KJV)

About 81 percent of the victims of Catholic priests were boys and young men[8], so this verse calls for the death penalty in at least those cases. Fortunately, other verses make clear that the victims are not to be executed as well. In Deuteronomy we find the following:

But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her and lie with her, then the man only that lay with her shall die. But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death. …For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her. Deut. 22:25–27 (KJV)

Sadly, this describes all too well what has been done to so many children in what should be the safest place for them outside of their own homes. The children, who either cried for help or were too shocked and scared to do so, should not be punished for being victimized. But the priests should be dealt with most harshly under their own code, both for committing such atrocities and for being “none to save” the children. The method prescribed for punishing many sexual sins in the Old Testament was execution by stoning. In the New Testament, we find Jesus expressing a similar opposition to offenses against children in general, but with a different suggestion for punishment:

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And Jesus called a little child unto him, and sat him in the midst of them, and said, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone be hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” Mat. 18:1–7 (KJV)

Similar content to verses 6–7 may also be found in Luke 17:1–2. We see here just how great a departure the behavior of pedophile priests truly is from how a priest is supposed to behave, and that the punishment of execution by drowning for such a grievous offense is suggested. The execution methods from both Testaments might be combined in some form that involves drowning but is carried out by a multitude. One possibility is to place the condemned in water and have each victimized person take a turn in adding weight to them until they cannot keep themselves afloat. Another possibility is to chain the condemned to the bottom of a tank and have each victim add water until the condemned is covered. A third possibility is to put the condemned in water and stone them until they cannot keep themselves afloat. Regardless of method, capital punishment is justified because the condemned priest knew or should have known the terms of the covenant that he entered into by joining the clergy.

Libertarian Theory

At its core, libertarianism is an answer to the question of when it is appropriate to use force. It says that initiating the use of force is never acceptable, while using force to defend against a force initiator is always acceptable. It is hopefully self-evident that sexual conduct toward a child is an act of aggression because the child lacks the capacity to consent to such behavior, but what should be done to a child molester once the offender’s crimes become known? First, let us consider proportionality. Murray Rothbard writes,

[M]ust we go along with those libertarians who claim that a storekeeper has the right to kill a lad as punishment for snatching a piece of his bubble gum? What we might call the ‘maximalist’ position goes as follows: by stealing the bubble gum, the urchin puts himself outside the law. He demonstrates by his action that he does not hold or respect the correct theory of property rights. Therefore, he loses all of his rights, and the storekeeper is within his rights to kill the lad in retaliation. I propose that this position suffers from a grotesque lack of proportion. By concentrating on the storekeeper’s right to his bubble gum, it totally ignores another highly precious property right: every man’s—including the urchin’s—right of self-ownership. On what basis must we hold that a minuscule invasion of another’s property lays one forfeit to the total loss of one’s own? I propose another fundamental rule regarding crime: the criminal, or invader, loses his own right to the extent that he has deprived another man of his. If a man deprives another man of some of his self-ownership or its extension in physical property, to that extent does he lose his own rights. From this principle immediately derives the proportionality theory of punishment—best summed up in the old adage: ‘let the punishment fit the crime.’”[41]

He asserts this but does not justify it, so let us do so. Libertarianism is a logical construct, therefore it is subject to logic in the form of consistency. To claim a right for oneself while violating the equivalent rights of another person is inconsistent. A hypocrite is therefore disallowed from advancing his own hypocrisy as a rational argument. (Of course, this subjective variety of pragmatic contradiction only applies to the hypocrite; it would be absurd to argue, for instance, that everyone should lose the right to own property just because one thief has stolen something.) Thus, a criminal loses his own rights to the extent that he has deprived other people of their rights. In other words, one should be able to kill murderers, take property from thieves, subject slavers to forced labor, etc. in proportion to the crimes an aggressor has committed. Therefore, in determining the appropriate punishment for a child molester, we must consider what rights a child molester has forfeited through his aggressive behavior, which would include bodily integrity and psychological health. Physically preventing them from having further interactions with children would also be justified. But putting child molesters to death requires additional justification, which will come later in this section.

Second, let us consider restitution. A result in which an aggressor is punished and the victim is made whole is self-evidently more just than a result in which the aggressor is punished only. Therefore, it is best for a criminal to perform restitution whenever possible, and be forced to perform if he will not do so willingly. Of the proper extent of restitution, Rothbard writes,

“But how are we to gauge the nature of the extent? Let us [consider] the theft [of] $15,000. Even here, simple restitution of the $15,000 is scarcely sufficient to cover the crime (even if we add damages, costs, interest, etc.). For one thing, mere loss of the money stolen obviously fails to function in any sense as a deterrent to future such crime (although we will see below that deterrence itself is a faulty criterion for gauging punishment). If, then, we are to say that the criminal loses rights to the extent that he deprives the victim, then we must say that the criminal should not only have to return the $15,000, but that he must be forced to pay the victim another $15,000, so that he, in turn, loses those rights (to $15,000 worth of property) which he had taken from the victim. In the case of theft, then, we may say that the criminal must pay double the extent of theft: once, for restitution of the amount stolen, and once again for loss of what he had deprived another. But we are still not finished with elaborating the extent of deprivation of rights involved in a crime. For A had not simply stolen $15,000 from B, which can be restored and an equivalent penalty imposed. He had also put B into a state of fear and uncertainty, of uncertainty as to the extent that B’s deprivation would go. But the penalty levied on A is fixed and certain in advance, thus putting A in far better shape than was his original victim. So that for proportionate punishment to be levied we would also have to add more than double so as to compensate the victim in some way for the uncertain and fearful aspects of his particular ordeal. What this extra compensation should be it is impossible to say exactly, but that does not absolve any rational system of punishment—including the one that would apply in the libertarian society − from the problem of working it out as best one can.”[42]

In short, we have a principle that Walter Block calls “two teeth for a tooth,” plus some extra amount. As Rothbard correctly notes, it is impossible to precisely calculate what this extra amount should be, as there is no price system which would allow one to do so and no way to examine a counter-factual world in which the crime was never committed to see what difference was truly made in the victim’s life. A critic may claim that this makes the theory impractical, but in practice this extra amount would be decided by mutual agreement between the criminal, the victim, and any hired agents they may have. The task here would be to estimate how much in monetary damages a child molester owes to his victims, but this is an offense for which economic restitution is impossible. No amount of money can undo the damage done to a child who is sexually assaulted by an adult, especially a member of the clergy who should be able to be trusted more than anyone else.

Third, let us consider active aggressors versus subdued aggressors. If an aggressor is active, then any amount of force necessary to subdue the aggressor may be used, for any standard short of this would not only fail to be logically consistent, but would allow an aggressor to succeed simply by escalating the use of force beyond what his victims are allowed to use in defense. The only permissible limitation on defensive force is that which ceases to be completely defensive. Rothbard writes,

“How extensive is a man’s right of self-defense of person and property? The basic answer must be: up to the point at which he begins to infringe on the property rights of someone else. For, in that case, his ‘defense’ would in itself constitute a criminal invasion of the just property of some other man, which the latter could properly defend himself against.”[43]

Therefore, killing an unrepentant child molester who intends to keep offending is within the bounds of libertarianism. But what should be done once a child molester is subdued? On the matter of physical assault in general, Rothbard writes,

“In the question of bodily assault, where restitution does not even apply, we can again employ our criterion of proportionate punishment; so that if A has beaten up B in a certain way, then B has the right to beat up A (or have him beaten up by judicial employees) to rather more than the same extent.”[42]

This seems straightforward, but actually leads to an interesting conclusion. It is possible to beat a man within an inch of his life, as there is a maximum amount of physical damage that a person can sustain without giving up the ghost. To express this mathematically, let us define L as the amount of damage required to kill a person. If A assaults B and does damage of L–X for a vanishingly small value of X, and the principle of “two teeth for a tooth” is applied, then B has the right to do lethal damage to A. Even the principle of beating up B to “rather more than the same extent” would result in lethal damage. Given the severe and lasting damage that child molestation does to a victim, this can justify a lethal response, especially for those who have attacked several children in this manner.

Finally, a victim has the option to negotiate an agreement with the criminal to reduce or even eliminate the criminal’s obligation to perform restitution or suffer punishment. Rothbard writes,

“In short, within the limits of his proportional right of punishment, the victim should have the sole decision how much, if at all, to exercise that right.”[44]

Rothbard neglected to mention one caveat here. While the authorities could be obligated not to prosecute or punish a child molester if the victims desired to forgive the offender, no such limitation exists upon a third party acting solely out of concern for logical consistency and personal or communal safety. As explained above, a child molester forfeits the right to be free from attacks on bodily integrity and psychological health, so while the courts may be bound by contract and the victim’s wishes not to punish a particular child molester, the courts would also have no cause to prosecute someone else who did punish the offender. A critic may claim that this standard risks the devolution of civilization into a violent free-for-all, but a person who attacks a non-molester becomes a violent criminal himself, subject to all penalties thereof. This creates a potent disincentive against attacking someone in the name of protecting children from pedophiles who enjoy freedom unless one is absolutely sure that one is targeting the correct person. Also of concern for the particular crime of child sexual abuse is the psychological damage done to victims, which may render them incapable of passing the proper judgment upon their attackers.

Reactionary Theory

The primary objective of reactionaries is to correct bad decisions and undo the damage done by them in order to establish, secure, and advance a healthy and stable social order. Given the amount of damage done by child molesters to their victims, the suppression of this behavior must be a top priority. A competent sovereign must take appropriate action to protect children within his territory from sexual predators. Permanently exiling child molesters to a secure place outside of the civilization is a workable solution, as is declaring them to be outlaws subject to the whims of whomever would lay hands upon them. But both of these solutions are inferior to formal capital punishment with respect to strengthening the social order.

A brutal and public execution for the purpose of making an example of someone who has committed a great wrong provides a strong deterrence against future crimes of the same type. The end result of making such an example, if done properly, is that cruel punishments will only be necessary on rare occasions. This may be done with or without community participation in the execution, but the former has several advantages. First, if a multitude of people strike blows against a criminal, then no one can be sure that his blow was the coup de grace. This helps to assuage feelings of guilt, however misplaced such feelings might be. Second, though some of the damage done by child molestation is permanent, allowing victims and their loved ones to gain retribution in this manner can offer some sense of closure. Third, whereas a group identity is defined just as much by who is excluded as by who is included, defining an outsider and working together to destroy him can be a powerful bonding experience for members of a community. Finally, this allows a community to identify with its leadership as the administrators of justice as they put evil away from them.

To see what a reactionary solution may look like in practice, let us return to the Jay report. Of the 4,392 priests and deacons listed, 56 percent had one allegation of child sexual abuse against them, 27 percent had two or three allegations against them, 14 percent had between four and nine allegations against them, and 3 percent (149 priests) had ten or more allegations against them. These 149 priests were responsible for almost 3,000 victims, or 27 percent of the 10,667 total allegations.[8] The top tier of the 149 worst offenders definitely would be subjected to the drowning-stoning combination capital punishments discussed earlier to serve as an example, while the next tier that committed 4–9 offenses probably would be executed. Those who committed one to three abuses may be executed in some cases or exiled in others, depending on the victims’ wishes.

Conclusion

We have discussed strong arguments for executing pedophile priests from several perspectives. The libertarian and reactionary cases also apply outside the Christian clergy, where child sexual abuse is about as common as it is inside the Church.[45] Any legitimate governance structure should respect the rights of people to form covenants and internally resolve their issues, up to and including the administration of criminal justice to their members in accordance with the terms of the covenant. That the current structure of progressive globalist nation-states would act to stop this is an important sign.

Unfortunately, the leadership of the Catholic Church has shown little interest in taking appropriate measures to stop child molesters within its ranks, and states have not done enough to address the problem. Furthermore, the global decline in cruel punishments as well as the statutes of limitations in many jurisdictions ensure that child molesters rarely face appropriate punishment. This necessitates the building of alternative structures for the provision of criminal justice (and possibly some instances of vigilantism as well) because extrajudicial punishment of criminals, while sub-optimal, is better than no punishment at all.

References:

  1. Zoll, Rachel (2009, Mar. 31). “Letters: Catholic bishops warned in ’50s of abusive priests”. USA Today.
  2. Bruni, Frank (2002). A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church. HarperCollins.
  3. Stephens, Scott (2011, May 27). “Catholic sexual abuse study greeted with incurious contempt”. ABC Religion and Ethics.
  4. Lattin, Don (1998, July 17). “$30 Million Awarded Men Molested by `Family Priest’ / 3 bishops accused of Stockton coverup”. San Francisco Chronicle.
  5. Gray, Mark M. “The Impact of Religious Switching and Secularization on the estimated size of the U.S. Adult Catholic Population”. Article 49.4 (2008): 457–60.
  6. Garrett, Paul Michael. “A ‘Catastrophic, Inept, Self-Serving’ Church? Re-examining Three Reports on Child Abuse in the Republic of Ireland”. Journal of Progressive Human Services, Vol. 24, Issue 1 (2013): 43–65.
  7. Paulson, Michael (2002, Apr. 8). “World doesn’t share US view of scandal: Clergy sexual abuse reaches far, receives an uneven focus”. The Boston Globe.
  8. The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950–2002. (2004) John Jay School of Criminal Justice.
  9. “Pope sends first e-mail apology”. BBC News. 23 Nov. 2001.
  10. “Pope ‘deeply sorry’ for ‘evil’ of child abuse”. www.abc.net.au. 18 July 2008.
  11. “Pope Francis accuses Chilean church sexual abuse victims of slander”. The Guardian. 19 Jan. 2018.
  12. “Pope admits ‘grave error,’ apologizes for not believing Chilean sex abuse victims”. Washington Post. 12 Apr. 2018.
  13. Butt, Riazat; Asthana, Anushka (2009, Sep. 28). “Sex abuse rife in other religions, says Vatican”. The Guardian.
  14. “Hundreds of priests shuffled worldwide, despite abuse allegations”. USA Today/Associated Press. 20 June 2004.
  15. Newman, Andy (2006, Aug. 31). “A Choice for New York Priests in Abuse Cases”. The New York Times.
  16. Schaffer, Michael D. (2012, June 25). “Sex-abuse crisis is a watershed in the Roman Catholic Church’s history in America”. The Inquirer.
  17. United Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006 Report: Findings and Recommendations (Washington: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2007) p. 16.
  18. Anderson, James; Mangels, Nancie; Langsam, Adam (2004). “Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Issue”. The Justice Professional. 17: 107–126.
  19. De Jong AR (1985). “Vaginitis due to Gardnerella vaginalis and to Candida albicans in sexual abuse”. Child Abuse & Neglect. 9 (1): 27–9.
  20. Teicher MH (Mar. 2002). “Scars that won’t heal: the neurobiology of child abuse”. Scientific American. 286 (3): 68–75.
  21. Ito Y, Teicher MH, Glod CA, Ackerman E (1998). “Preliminary evidence for aberrant cortical development in abused children: a quantitative EEG study”. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 10 (3): 298–307.
  22. Anderson CM, Teicher MH, Polcari A, Renshaw PF (2002). “Abnormal T2 relaxation time in the cerebellar vermis of adults sexually abused in childhood: potential role of the vermis in stress-enhanced risk for drug abuse”. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 27 (1–2): 231–44.
  23. Ito Y, Teicher MH, Glod CA, Harper D, Magnus E, Gelbard HA (1993). “Increased prevalence of electrophysiological abnormalities in children with psychological, physical, and sexual abuse”. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 5 (4): 401–8.
  24. Teicher MH, Glod CA, Surrey J, Swett C (1993). “Early childhood abuse and limbic system ratings in adult psychiatric outpatients”. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 5 (3): 301–6.
  25. Kendall-Tackett KA, Williams LM, Finkelhor D (Jan. 1993). “Impact of sexual abuse on children: a review and synthesis of recent empirical studies”. Psychological Bulletin. 113 (1): 164–80.
  26. Walsh, K.; DiLillo, D. (2011). “Child sexual abuse and adolescent sexual assault and revictimization”. In Paludi, Michael A. The psychology of teen violence and victimization. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. p. 203–16.
  27. Levitan RD, Rector NA, Sheldon T, Goering P (2003). “Childhood adversities associated with major depression and/or anxiety disorders in a community sample of Ontario: issues of co-morbidity and specificity”. Depression and Anxiety. 17 (1): 34–42.
  28. Widom CS, DuMont K, Czaja SJ (Jan. 2007). “A prospective investigation of major depressive disorder and comorbidity in abused and neglected children grown up”. Archives of General Psychiatry. 64 (1): 49–56.
  29. Chu JA, Frey LM, Ganzel BL, Matthews JA (May 1999). “Memories of childhood abuse: dissociation, amnesia, and corroboration”. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 156 (5): 749–55.
  30. Hornor, G. (2010). “Child sexual abuse: Consequences and implications”. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 24 (6): 358–64.
  31. Noll, J. G., Trickett, P. K., Susman, E. J., & Putnam, F. W. (2006). “Sleep disturbances and childhood sexual abuse”. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 31 (5): 469–80.
  32. Steine, I. M., Krystal et al. (2012). “Insomnia, nightmare frequency, and nightmare distress in victims of sexual abuse: The role of perceived social support and abuse characteristics”. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 27 (9): 51827–43.
  33. Arnow BA (2004). “Relationships between childhood maltreatment, adult health and psychiatric outcomes, and medical utilization”. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 65 Suppl 12: 10–15.
  34. “Understanding child sexual abuse: education, prevention, and recovery”. American Psychological Association.
  35. Zickler, Patrick (Apr. 2002). “Childhood Sex Abuse Increases Risk for Drug Dependence in Adult Women”. NIDA Notes. National Institute of Drug Abuse. 17 (1): 5.
  36. Ascione, Frank R.; Friedrich, William N.; Heath, John; Hayashi, Kentaro (2003). “Cruelty to animals in normative, sexually abused, and outpatient psychiatric samples of 6- to 12-year-old children: Relations to maltreatment and exposure to domestic violence”. Anthrozoös: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People and Animals. 16 (3): 194–212.
  37. J. G. Noll et al. (2003). “Revictimization and self-harm in females who experienced childhood sexual abuse: Results from a prospective study”. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 18 (12): 1452–71.
  38. Tyler, K.A. (2002). “Social and emotional outcomes of childhood sexual abuse: A review of recent research”. Aggression and Violent Behavior. 7 (6): 567–89.
  39. Navalta CP, Polcari A, Webster DM, Boghossian A, Teicher MH (2006). “Effects of childhood sexual abuse on neuropsychological and cognitive function in college women”. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 18 (1): 45–53.
  40. Roberts, Ron; O’Connor, Tom; Dunn, Judy; Golding, Jean (2004). “The effects of child sexual abuse in later family life; mental health, parenting and adjustment of offspring”. Child Abuse & Neglect. 28 (5): 525–45.
  41. Rothbard, Murray (1982). The Ethics of Liberty. p. 80–1.
  42. Ibid., p. 88–9.
  43. Ibid., p. 77.
  44. Rothbard (June 1978). “The Plumb Line: The Capital Punishment Question”. Libertarian Review, Vol. 7, No. 5, p. 14.
  45. Winger, Pat (2010, Apr. 7). “Priests Commit No More Abuse Than Other Males”. Newsweek.

Eleven Observations on the Brett Kavanaugh Hearings

On September 4–7, the United States Senate held hearings on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy. The hearings were more raucous than usual, with several delays and attempted delays by protesters and grandstanding politicians. Eleven observations on the hearings follow.

1. The entire spectacle was unnecessary. As per Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution and the Senate’s current procedural rules, confirming the appointment of a new Justice to the Supreme Court requires a simple majority vote in the Senate. The Republicans currently have 51 Senators, and several red-state Democrats face pressure to confirm Kavanaugh because they are up for re-election in November. The rest of the Senate Democrats are unlikely to break with their #Resist ethos, no matter what Kavanaugh may say or do. The hearings gave Kavanaugh a chance to hang himself, of which he did not avail himself, and had no reasonable chance of bringing more support on board. There was thus no practical purpose to the hearings, which therefore served only as a public spectacle for each side to status signal. Since the matter will be decided almost exactly along party lines anyway, it would have been more efficient to skip the hearings and just vote.

2. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–IA) is inept at chairing a committee. Much of the first day of hearings consisted of various Senate Democrats, especially those with presidential ambitions for 2020, trying to disrupt or adjourn the hearings. Sens. Kamala Harris (D–CA), Richard Blumenthal (D–CT), Cory Booker (D–NJ), Dick Durbin (D–IL), and even ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) got in on the obstruction, delaying the formal beginning of the proceedings for more than 75 minutes. Sen. John Cornyn (R–TX) described the hearing as “mob rule,” to which Grassley took offense but not meaningful action. Meanwhile, protesters kept interrupting and were gradually removed instead of completely cleared from the gallery at once, which irritated Sen. Orrin Hatch (R–UT). A more competent chair quickly would have taken decisive countermeasures.

3. The Democratic Party leadership is in an impossible position. On September 5, thirteen leftist activist organizations sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–NY) expressing their frustration with the inability of Democrats to stop Kavanaugh. They criticized him for not “lead[ing] [his] caucus in complete opposition to Trump’s attempted Supreme Court takeover” and for “help[ing] Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fast track 15 Trump judicial nominees.”

“That is not the leadership we need,” said the letter.

Other activists trended the hashtag #WTFchuck on Twitter and used a billboard truck to advertise it around Washington, D.C. Still others protested at Sen. Schumer’s office. Even so, the letter acknowledges that success is impossible unless two Republicans would vote no alongside every Democrat. They still expect “nothing less than all-out resistance to Trump’s dangerous agenda”, but there is no means to achieve victory because they lack the votes.

4. Impotent virtue signalling would be amusing if not so pathetic. Protesters yelled and disrupted the hearings, only to be physically removed by police. Other protesters showed up in costumes from The Handmaid’s Tale, as if to say that Kavanaugh would reduce women to serfdom. Senate Democrats tried several parliamentary measures, none of which were successful. Once these methods failed, activists tried to sway the vote of Sen. Susan Collins (R–ME) by sending her thousands of coat hangers (a reference to illicit abortion methods) and attempting to blackmail her with a large conditional donation to her next Democratic opponent if she should vote to confirm Kavanaugh. There is no low to which leftists will not stoop in order to get their way, no hyperbole too great for their sense of shame (or lack thereof).

5. The accusations against Zina Bash are both hilarious and sad. Bash, one of Kavanaugh’s former law clerks, was accused of making a white supremacist gesture in the form of an “OK” hand sign. Bash is half Hispanic and half Jewish; her grandparents are Holocaust survivors. A person of this background is about the last person who would promote a movement that opposes the presence of Hispanics and Jews in the United States. It is also worth noting that associating the “OK” hand sign with white power began as a 4chan trolling operation and has mostly remained such.

6. If one is going to grandstand, it should not be transparently phony. On September 6, Sen. Booker released “committee confidential” documents concerning Kavanaugh’s view on racial profiling. These documents are not classified, but are also not available to the general public. Booker claimed that “This is the closest I’ll ever get in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” Booker said, citing a line from the 1960 Academy Award-winning movie “Spartacus”. Not only is this a wild hyperbole, as no one reasonably expects a mass slaughter of Senate Democrats to mirror that of the historical slave revolt led by the real Spartacus, but the entire incident was staged.

“We cleared the documents last night shortly after Sen. Booker’s staff asked us to,” said attorney Bill Burck, a former colleague of Kavanaugh’s. “We were surprised to learn about Sen. Booker’s histrionics this morning because we had already told him he could use the documents publicly. In fact, we have said yes to every request made by the Senate Democrats to make documents public.”

Sen. Cornyn accused him of “conduct unbecoming a Senator,” saying, “Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate or of confidentiality of the documents that we are privy to.”

7. Roe v. Wade is not in mortal danger, and it would not be the end of the world if it were. Much of the leftist activism against Kavanaugh focuses on the prospect of this decision being overturned. In the hearings, Kavanaugh referred to the case as a precedent, though he stopped short of calling it correct. There is a common misconception that if a future case were to push the federal right to an abortion back into the ether from whence it was pulled, abortion would suddenly be illegal everywhere in the United States. In truth, the decision would revert back to the state level, as it was before the 1973 ruling. The most conservative states would ban abortions, while nothing would change in the most liberal states. So-called purple states would become political battlegrounds over the issue, which would eventually reach a settlement that many people do not like, but feel they can live with because it was arrived at organically, not imposed by nine distant berobed figures unaccountable to them.

8. “Settled law” is a nonsensical idea. Laws are social constructs formed, altered, and repealed by men. The law itself cannot rule because it has no agency, no particular sentience of its own to operate in physical reality. A nation of laws and not of men is thus an impossibility. For Kavanaugh to refer to Roe v. Wade as “settled law” is both illogical and ahistorical. The Supreme Court has in some cases overturned its earlier rulings; the most famous example of this is Brown v. Board of Education (1954) undoing the pro-segregation ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Constitutional amendments can also do this, as the Eleventh Amendment did to Chisholm v. Georgia (1793).

9. Stare decisis is a flawed idea. The translation from Latin is “stand by things decided”, and it refers to a legal doctrine of standing by precedent. Applied to particular cases, it produces the idea of “settled law”. In the realm of abstract logic, such reasoning is the fallacy of appeal to tradition. A legal precedent is not correct simply by virtue of its age or the number of corollary cases decided upon its benchmark. Applied consistently, it would produce a Court incapable of admitting that its current or former membership has made (or can make) mistakes, and nothing good can come of flawed humans claiming infallibility.

10. The leftist outrage over Kavanaugh is nothing compared to what will occur next time. Kavanaugh is set to replace Justice Kennedy, widely regarded as a moderate or swing vote. This will result in decisions which split along conservative/liberal lines being more reliably 5–4 conservative rather than a toss-up. But given the ages of the other justices, it is unlikely that this will be the last appointment to the Supreme Court made by Trump, especially in the likely event that he is re-elected in 2020. If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and/or Justice Stephen Breyer should expire under Trump’s watch and a conservative judge is appointed to fill the vacancy, expect all-out war from leftist activists because this could result in a strongly conservative Court for decades.

11. The root of the unrest is that sovereignty lies in the judicial branch. The statement of sovereignty in the American system of government is not the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, but an early Supreme Court case. In Marbury v. Madison (1803), the Court took for itself the power of judicial review, found nowhere in the Constitution. From that day to this, no one has had the good sense to correct this error, and it forms both the ultimate stare decisis and the root of judicial supremacy in America. While constitutional measures do exist to impeach Justices or enact amendments to overturn their rulings, these are so rarely used as to be practically worthless. That the Supreme Court can strike down laws as unconstitutional and interpret the Constitution to invent new “rights” stands in stark contrast to common-law tradition, in which judges cannot enact law, let alone function as an oligarchical over-legislature. If this power did not exist, then the current political battles over it would not exist a fortiori.