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.

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.

A Holistic Approach to Ending Corporate Censorship

Over the past decade, the large technology companies of Silicon Valley have transitioned from a mindset of attempting to make government censorship impossible to a mindset of attempting to make government censorship unnecessary. People with views that oppose the progressive liberal narrative have increasingly found their posts removed and accounts suspended on the social media platforms created by these companies. Domain registrars, web hosting companies, and payment processors have joined in this effort to de-platform those who are not part of the progressive movement, such as conservatives, libertarians, reactionaries, and the alt-right, especially the latter two. At first, there were just a few relatively marginal people being removed from social media, having their crowdfunding campaigns taken down, and being chased off of web hosting. But these behaviors have become more common, as has the denial of service by payment processors.

There are several proposals for how to respond to these developments, and the debates concerning them highlight differences in political theory and strategy between the aforementioned groups under attack by the outer arms of the Cathedral. Let us consider each option in order to construct a holistic approach to freeing the Internet from censorious technology giants.

Policy Inaction and Reliance on Alt-Tech

The view articulated by mainstream libertarians and free-market conservatives is that the technology giants are success stories of capitalism, having brought about wondrous advances in commerce and communication. They tend to view these technology companies as private businesses whose owners should be able to set their terms of service as they see fit and choose with whom they will associate or not associate. Indeed, many view ostracism as a nearly universal positive, working to reward preferred behavior while punishing dispreferred behavior. If technology companies behave improperly, they believe that the market will punish them by elevating alternatives to prominence as customers flee to other providers. This leads them to favor inaction at the policy level while championing alt-tech as the solution.

This stance is best understood as inability to deal with the context of the situation, naivete by those who have yet to face the wrath of the establishment, or malice by those who are part of the establishment. The truth is that the dominant companies in social media, website hosting, domain registration, and payment processing have such large market shares that it is difficult for competitors to enter the market. Those who try face many hurdles in trying to start a site and remain online. The established companies can and do use their positions to engage in anti-competitive business practices, such as keeping competitors out of search results and application stores. This can keep competitors from gaining the brand recognition necessary to build the user bases they need in order to become successful platforms. This was less of a problem in the early days of social media when turnover of the most popular sites was higher, but the near-monopolies of the largest companies are no longer as vulnerable. In a free market, censorious behavior from the largest technology companies would be of little concern, but the market is not free because it has been effectively cornered.

Although ostracism on the basis of behavior is nothing new, the crowdsourcing power of the Internet has transformed it into a political weapon that can be used to ruin people unjustly. Moreover, it is capable of dividing an entire society along ideological lines. When reasoned discourse is shut down and unpopular viewpoints are suppressed by howling irrational cyber-mobs, those who are de-platformed are likely to have their internal victim narratives confirmed, radicalizing them further. This may even motivate extremists who would otherwise spew hateful rhetoric but take no further action to go ahead with plans to commit acts of terrorism. It also may serve as a precursor to a novel type of civil war, one which arises when the heated rhetoric that is naturally produced as a byproduct of democracy escalates into political violence and there is no peaceful outlet to reduce tensions before they consume the entire society.

It is clear that doing nothing is not a reasonable strategy, and that alt-tech is necessary but not sufficient, so let us consider our real options.

The Communications Decency Act

Recent commentary on this subject has focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, codified at United States Code, Title 47, Chapter 5, Subchapter II, Part I, Section 230. The stated intent of this law is laid out in Subsection (b):

(b) Policy
It is the policy of the United States—
(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive media;
(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;
(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services;
(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and
(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.

The substance of the law at issue here is found in Subsection (c):

(c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material
(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker: No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
(2) Civil liability: No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—
(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in (1).

This statute allows service providers on the Internet to restrict the actions of customers without being legally responsible for the actions they do not restrict. The Communications Decency Act was written partly in response to the Supreme Court case Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co. (1995), which suggested that service providers were publishers subject to responsibility if they assumed an editorial role. The original purpose of these provisions is revealed in Subsection (d):

(d) Obligations of interactive computer service: A provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of interactive computer service and in a manner deemed appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) are commercially available that may assist the customer in limiting access to material that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or provide the customer with access to information identifying, current providers of such protections.

As usual, laws intended to solve a particular problem, in this case protecting minors from viewing obscene materials that they are not mentally prepared to view, are employed later for other purposes far beyond their original intent. The technology giants of today use this statute in order to have their cake and eat it too; they censor as they see fit and suffer no liability for what they choose not to censor.

Section 230 has come under attack from both left-wing and right-wing activists. The former wish to remove liability protections to incentivize more zealous censorship of “hate speech”, while the latter wish to either remove the ability of interactive computer service providers to censor content and remove people or make it easier for victims of defamation to sue the platforms that host defamatory material. But a full repeal of Section 230 would allow for platforms to be legally responsible for all of the content they host. Whereas moderating the sheer volume of user-generated content that exists today would be impractical, many sites would stop hosting such content. Lawsuits from failed moderation would overload the courts, and content hosting would mostly move to the decentralized dark web.

There would have to be a replacement statute following a repeal in order to mitigate the extreme disruption to business as usual. This replacement should serve the purposes laid out in Subsections (b) and (d) of Section 230, which has not been done by Subsection (c), item (2). Any replacement for that provision should keep interactive computer service providers from removing otherwise legal content from their sites unless they wish to be responsible for everything that they allow to remain. This would make Internet censorship so impractical that it would almost never occur, as success would produce very little benefit while failure would result in being treated as a publisher of vast quantities of libel and slander. This would be in keeping with the general methodology of federal regulations; rather than prohibiting an activity outright, it instead makes the activity too difficult for any reasonable entity to perform. Other measures could be used to keep obscene materials away from minors and allow users to filter out content that they do not wish to view. These measures already exist, and are such obvious solutions that there is no need to require them by law.

Altering Section 230 should rein in social media censorship, but it would be of questionable efficacy against domain registrars and web hosting companies, and would be useless against payment processors. Therefore, let us consider other approaches.

The Public Utility Approach

In the view increasingly expressed by conservatives and alt-rightists, the Internet is an essential aspect of life in the 21st century, and the technology companies that deny people access to the most popular social media platforms, domain hosting services, and payment processors are curtailing both the civil liberties and economic opportunities of those people. The largest technology companies are effective monopolies, in that these firms are the only sellers of products and services that have no close substitutes. In response, they call for the state to regulate these companies as public utilities, much as they do to providers of electricity, water, and natural gas. This line of thinking also leads to support among these people for net neutrality regulations. Some argue that government regulation is even more necessary in this case, as the network effects and first-mover advantages of the largest technology firms mean that a competitor cannot provide the same quality of service even if there were no significant barriers to entry into the business of creating social media platforms, search engines, and payment processors, which there are.

Treating social media and web hosting as public utilities is likely to cause more problems than it solves. When governments began regulating other industries, innovation in those industries slowed. The companies which were nearly monopolistic either remained so or became real monopolies, as competition became even more difficult. Freezing current troublesome companies in place as major players rather than allowing upstarts to displace them is an undesirable outcome. This is exacerbated by the fact that public utility regulations are just as vulnerable to regulatory capture as any other regulations. Furthermore, the cost of regulation is likely to be high, and the regulated businesses will pass this cost onto their customers. However, given the dominant market shares of domain registrars and payment processors, as well as the barriers to entry for creating new ones, those businesses may need to be treated as public utilities until meaningful competition can emerge.

The Anti-Trust Approach

There was obvious collusion between the legacy establishment media, dominant social media platforms, payment processors, domain registrars, and web hosting companies in the effort to silence Alex Jones in August 2018 and in the effort to shut down Gab in October 2018. There is a strong case to be made that such conduct runs afoul of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Passed in 1890 and amended to include and exclude various activities since, the Act is codified at United States Code, Title 15, Chapter 1, and reads:

“Section 1: Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy hereby declared to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

Section 2: Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $100,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $1,000,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.”

Section 3 extends these provisions to the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. Much of the meaning and application of anti-trust law has been fleshed out judicially rather than legislatively. This has resulted in two major types of Sherman Act cases: “per se” cases and “rule of reason” cases. In a per se case, market actors strictly violate Section 1. In these cases, conduct has a “pernicious effect on competition” or “lack[s]…any redeeming virtue”[1] and “would always or almost always tend to restrict competition and decrease output.”[2] Such cases do not contemplate intent or effect, and simply require proving that the conduct occurred.[2] A rule of reason case considers intent, motive, and effect to attempt a prediction of whether the conduct in question promotes or suppresses competition. This is more difficult to prove, but should not be necessary in the most prominent cases of corporate censorship.

One example of prohibited conduct is “concerted refusals to deal”.[3,4] The efforts to de-platform Alex Jones and shut down Gab offer two obvious examples of concerted refusals to deal, and should easily clear even the heightened standard of Twombly[5] for bringing a case that cannot be summarily dismissed. As for Section 2 violations, the courts have distinguished innocent monopoly from coercive monopoly, which is the difference between a monopoly earned by providing goods and services so well that no one cares to compete and a monopoly maintained by using one’s dominant position to suppress competition. Though the technology giants mostly were innocent monopolies in the beginning, few have remained so, as the Jones and Gab incidents demonstrate. More generally, suppressing a company’s search results and keeping a company out of application stores is tantamount to anti-competitive business practice that would violate Section 2.

Champions of the free market have decried anti-trust law as a cause of market inefficiency[6] and as a violation of property rights. Ayn Rand described such laws as “the penalizing of ability for being ability, the penalizing of success for being success, and the sacrifice of productive genius to the demands of envious mediocrity.”[7] Concern about market inefficiency is important, but should not overrule non-economic moral and philosophical values. While ability and success can be penalized by anti-trust action if the targets are innocent monopolies rather than coercive ones, this does not have to be the case, and is not the case here.

A more substantive criticism is to fault anti-trust laws for solving problems caused by corporate law by additional legislation rather than by repealing bad laws. Another valid point is that anti-trust will be insufficient even if it is necessary, as trust-busting will solve nothing if Facebook, Google, Twitter, PayPal, et al. are broken into a hundred pieces, each of which behave exactly as the former did. More fundamental changes are thus needed, which brings us to the final option we will consider.

The Anti-Corporate Approach

We come now to the strongest approach, which is championed uniquely by libertarian reactionary thought. The nature of corporations leads to a clear rationale for restricting their behavior in such a manner as to end corporate censorship. A corporation is a legal fiction created by the state to shield business owners from full financial liability and ease the enforcement of laws upon those businesses. Without registering or chartering a corporation under the laws of a state, it is impossible to establish such entities as we know them. For the four millennia that business structures similar to corporations have existed, they have always been intertwined with state power. Although one could negotiate contracts with other legal persons to make an unincorporated business function similarly to a corporation, this would not be identical to a state-recognized corporation in terms of its interaction with the state or its liabilities for negative externalities.

Two results directly follow from this. First, registering a corporation amounts to participation in a government program. Second, state-recognized corporations are not truly private businesses, but public-private partnerships in which the state provides limited liability through its monopoly on courts and the private business fulfills its purpose, whatever it may be.

In order to participate in a government program, a person or other entity is supposed to be in compliance with government laws. As all of the censorious technology giants are incorporated in the United States, they should obey American law. The Constitution is the supreme legal document with which a state-recognized corporation should be in compliance for this purpose. (More generally, if a corporation is chartered or registered under the laws of a particular state and that state has a constitution demarcating the limits of its claimed powers, then no such corporation should exceed those limits, for no entity should delegate powers to others that it does not have itself.) The Constitution contains a number of provisions which are supposed to limit the conduct of government, including provisions to protect freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, security against unreasonable search and seizure, and due process, among other rights. Because state-recognized corporations are public-private partnerships, they should be held to the same limitations on their conduct. Because corporations exist on the backs of taxpayers who are extorted to fund the government that allows them to incorporate, any funding grants or bailouts they receive, and any public works they perform, to let taxpayers be denied service by these entities compounds the injustice of taxation and violates the legal doctrine of estoppel.

The technology giants should face a choice of ceasing all censorship, forfeiting their corporate charters or registrations, or leaving the United States. In other words, they must choose between opening the marketplace of ideas, becoming truly private companies, or getting out of the way, any of which would be an improvement in the long term. Even the threat of this proposal would have the technology giants rushing to behave better, and could accomplish the same results as public utility regulation with far less threat to innovation.

Conclusion

The effort to stop corporate censorship is the most important social issue of our time because failure in this effort will greatly hinder the ability to discuss any other issue, at least from any position that deviates sufficiently from progressive liberalism. Silicon Valley has both a greater and a more insidious power to suppress dissident speech than the Cheka or Gestapo ever did. As Henry Olson explains,

“While a force like the Cheka was obviously able to inflict much more pain on individual people than Google can, its obvious brutality could not help but stir up popular resentment; thus, the common refrain that by the fall of the Berlin Wall the only people still believing in communism were American university professors. Therefore, the fact that modern tech companies have given up primitive methods of control for more sophisticated ones is an evolutionary improvement in managerial totalitarianism, not a weakness. The goal of the gulags was rarely to hurt individual people; it was to make the cost of opposing the system prohibitive to others. If Google, Twitter, PayPal, or any other company can silence dissent just by changing search algorithms or banning dissidents from using a service, then it has achieved in the same results in a less intrusive way. And because their methods are less obviously evil, they are also less likely to engender popular disillusionment or revolt.”

We have considered five methods for countering censorious technology giants: market competition by alt-tech companies, changing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, treating interactive computer service providers as public utilities, breaking up technology giants with anti-trust laws, and making incorporation contingent upon ending censorship. Only the latter method could possibly work without assistance from the others, as alt-tech could be suppressed by a concerted effort, the CDA does not deal with payment processors, public utility regulation would stifle innovation while freezing the currently dominant companies in place, and anti-trust risks replacing a few large bad actors with many small bad actors. Given the importance of this issue, a holistic approach of all of the above (and perhaps more) is essential for preventing the curtailment of discourse by an elite few, and thus preserving peace and order.

References:

  1. Northern Pacific Railway v. United States, (1958).
  2. Broadcast Music, Inc. v. CBS (1979).
  3. FTC v. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association (1990).
  4. NW Wholesale Stationers, Inc. v. Pacific Stationery & Printing Co. (1985).
  5. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly (2007).
  6. Greenspan, Alan (1962). Antitrust. Nathaniel Branden Institute, New York.
  7. Rand, Ayn (1967). Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Ch. 3. New American Library. Signet.

On Universalism, Genocide, and Libertarianism

One element which distinguishes modern political ideologies from their pre-modern counterparts and predecessors is universalism. That is, each of them makes several objective truth claims, and their adherents believe that everyone should convert to their point of view. Most also believe that everyone eventually will. This is due in large part to their Whig historiography, with the dominance of their particular system as the “end of history”. 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. The currently dominant form, which will be examined at length, has the potential to motivate even greater destruction going forward. Let us explore the origins of political universalism, its implications, and what might be done with this knowledge.

Origins: Universalism, Calvinism, Unitarianism

Like most Western political ideas, the dominant strain of universalism in contemporary politics has its roots in Christianity. The doctrine of universal reconciliation says that all humans will eventually be saved and reach Heaven, that no permanent Hell exists, and that the idea of eternal damnation comes from a mistranslation of Scripture.[1] This belief can be found among some of the early church fathers[2], and persists in some sense within Catholicism through the belief in Purgatory. From a Protestant perspective, universalism is perhaps best understood as an extreme form of Calvinism. Calvinists believe that God has predetermined the fate of every soul, with some going to Heaven and others going to Hell.[3] A Christian Universalist believes that all souls are in the former category in the long-term. The Calvinist view of election is in contrast to Arminianism, which holds that election is conditional[4], and to open theism, which claims that God does not know in advance how a person will respond to the Gospel.[5]

The other four points of five-point Calvinism are total depravity, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. Total depravity means that all people are enslaved to sin and cannot by their own faculties choose salvation. Limited atonement means that salvation is intended only for the elect and not for all people. Irresistible grace means that the elect will be saved regardless of their resistance to the Holy Spirit. Perseverance of the saints means that the elect cannot fall out of communion with God; apostates either never had true faith or will be divinely chastened into repentance. All five points have important implications in the political realm which will be discussed in the next section. The teachings of John Calvin eventually led to his own de facto rule in Geneva, the rule of Oliver Cromwell following the English Civil War, and the dominance of the Puritans in New England, the latter of which has never truly lost influence over American politics. Each of these produced its own horrifying and deadly results, from the burning of heretics like Michael Servetus[6] to Cromwell’s massacres of the Irish[7] to the Salem Witch Trials.

Christian Universalism proper can be traced to a liberal denomination formed in 1793 to uphold belief in universal salvation, which would later become known as the Universalist Church of America. This denomination merged with the Unitarians in 1961 to form the Unitarian Universalist Association. The early Unitarians rejected several fundamentals of mainstream Christianity, such as the doctrines of the Trinity, the pre-existence of Christ, original sin, and substitutionary atonement. During the 19th century, through the influence of Transcendentalism, they moved away from liberal Protestantism to become more theologically diverse.[8] This trend continued with 20th-century secular theology.

Unitarian Universalists have seven fundamental principles: 1) the inherent worth and dignity of every person; 2) justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; 3) acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; 4) a free and responsible search for truth and meaning; 5) the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; 6) the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and 7) respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

These principles look remarkably similar to secular progressive liberal rhetoric, and for good reason. As Unitarian Universalism became pluralistic and no longer explicitly Christian, it lost whatever minuscule resistance to leftism it once had, and Conquest’s Second Law took effect as usual. Unitarians and Universalists were active in social reform movements during the 19th and 20th centuries, including slavery abolition, alcohol prohibition, women’s suffrage, feminism, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, environmentalism, and social justice.

As the Unitarians in America became more secular, they formed a bridge between mainline Protestants and various types of radical leftists. The allegiance of these forces took some time, but was finally accomplished during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Their takeover of academia and the mainstream media after World War II led to their dominance in political life, so much so that non- or anti-Universalist ideas were steadily pushed outside of polite discourse and into the fever swamps of far-right conspiracy theorists. Only in the age of the Internet is this hegemony beginning to crack, though this may be partly attributable to backlash against the sheer extremity of the leftist vanguard, which is a natural consequence of their dominion.

Social Justice as Secular Calvinist Universalism

Taken together, the twelve beliefs listed above explain many facets of contemporary leftist behavior, and the contradictions between them are responsible for much of progressive doublethink. Although progressive liberal ideology claims to advocate for the seven Unitarian Universalist principles, its practice looks more like the five points of Calvinism. Like Calvinists, progressive activists believe that the world is fundamentally unjust, and that people cannot save themselves. But since they generally reject the Christian God, they substitute the secular god of statism and view themselves as its agents and advocates. This also leads them toward total depravity, but their self-righteousness and use of statism to avoid the consequences of bad personal decisions shield them from this understanding.

Unconditional election manifests in the form of oppressor classes and victim classes. For all of their supposed opposition to essentialism, social justice warriors group people into what would in earlier times be called the elect and the damned based on race, sex, orientation, and other biologically immutable characteristics. Since they define bigotry as prejudice plus power, they contend that members of the elect (victims) cannot be bigoted against the damned (oppressors). This paradoxical view echoes the parable of the rich man and Lazarus[9], in that the eternally wealthy are temporally impoverished and vice versa. Just as a Calvinist never is sure of one’s salvation status, so too is a progressive activist never sure of whether one is sufficiently far to the left or whether one has done enough work for the cause.

Limited atonement takes on two forms with the radical left. First, despite their claimed universalism, they do not intend that all people and their descendants should have a long-term part in their planned future society, especially if they are classified as oppressors and prove resistant to social justice ideology. We will return to this later, but let us now consider the second form. Because a progressive activist is never sure of one’s status, one must endlessly engage in ritualistic privilege-checking confessionals and sacrifices, such as ceding platforms and resources to those deemed less privileged and more oppressed. These offer only limited atonement and are never sufficient to resolve one’s “burden of original sin” for being part of an oppressor class.

Irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints manifest together. Members of oppressed classes who reject social justice ideology are said to have “internalized oppression” in general, which includes particulars such as “internalized misogyny”, “internalized homophobia”, “internalized racism”, etc. Universalism rules out the possibility that nonbelievers never had true faith, and secular progressives reject divine chastening, so they themselves must chasten nonbelievers and apostates to repentance. This chastening never ends because of the doctrine of irresistible grace; the elect must be saved regardless of their resistance, and universalism extends this chastening to all of society.

Against Unitarian Universalism

At the surface level, the seven fundamental principles of Unitarian Universalism may seem harmless or even beneficial. Worse still, they may fool one into thinking that they are an antidote to secular progressivism. But the way that these principles are interpreted through a Calvinist lens leads down very dark paths, and has already done so on multiple occasions.

It is possible to have reasonable disagreements with six of these seven principles. First, both the labor and the subjective theories of value reject the idea of inherent value, so taken to their logical conclusions, human life does not have an inherent worth or dignity and can become a negative in some cases. The replacement of the culture of honor with the culture of dignity may also be lamented for its amplification of uncivil conduct and decline of martial virtues. When offensive speech carried the possibility of being challenged to a duel, and either risking one’s life or being branded a coward, it was necessary to engage other people in a more dignified manner. That social justice warriors view only some people as elect seems to conflict with the inherent worth of human life, but this is resolved by dehumanizing their opponents.

Second, the idea of justice, equity, and compassion in human relations may be rejected at a shallow level as an excuse to intervene in affairs that are none of one’s business. All too frequently, social justice warriors will insert themselves into private transactions and relationships which do not concern them, using the promotion of social justice and equality as a pretext. At a deeper level, whereas social justice rarely means the same thing as actual justice, one may dispute the meaning of justice. The ideal of equity may be rejected as a revolt against nature, with the alternative view that human individuals and collectives have differing capabilities as a result of both genetics and environment. Fewer people will argue against compassion, but there are times when rational psychopathy, social Darwinism, and so forth produce superior results.

Third, universal acceptance rejects the idea of discriminating against anyone for any reason. In practice, this is both an assault on private property and on freedom of association. If one cannot exclude people, then it is impossible to have quality control. The result is a predictable decline in quality of human relationships, economic goods, and standards of living. Encouragement to spiritual growth may be rejected by materialists who deny the existence of the spiritual, though some progressive activists will do this as well.

While no one should disagree with the fourth principle, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, such a search has the potential to undermine the entire progressive program. Leftists will instead attempt to create the illusion that this is both occurring and finding results consistent with their ideology, with any discrepancies blamed on lack of funding, poor communication, and any other cause besides the possibility that they might be wrong. Of course, this means that anyone who finds contrary results and publishes them will feel the full force of the establishment machine.

Fifth, the right of conscience can be opposed as an assault on contract law. While conscription by the state should be rejected as a form of slavery (or agreed with for the wrong reasons), it is also a consequence of universalism in the political realm. The democratic process may be rejected as an affront to individual liberty, private property, freedom of association, the iron law of oligarchy, the right of might, and/or the divine right of kings, depending on one’s political views. One may also critique democracy for empowering those who are unworthy of having a voice, creating conflicts of interest, encouraging demagoguery, and perpetuating social unrest.

Sixth, the goal of world community is in opposition to all political ideologies which call for non-globalist, non-universal political organization, such as nationalism, localism, anarchism, and individualism. This point in particular is the path to darkness, and will be addressed at length later.

Seventh, respect for interdependent ecosystems cannot be fully rejected, but can be subordinated to human concerns. Alternatively, one may approach ecology from a reactionary perspective; not as a pretext for state intervention in the economy, a broader social justice movement extended beyond humanity to all living things, or a myopic desire for a nice place to live, but as respect for cosmic order, hierarchy, bravery, harmony, and beauty.

Other Universalist Ideologies

Before we continue, it is necessary to take note of other kinds of universalism. The progressive liberal variety described above at length traces its lineage through the political philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and the Young Hegelians in particular. Other Young Hegelians were the forerunners of various socialist and communist ideologies, such as Leninism and Stalinism. Right-Hegelianism, another school of thought founded by Hegel’s disciples, was a contributing factor to fascism and Nazism.

Conflicts involving these schools of thought have provided the philosophical backing for the great wars of the 20th century. In World War I, universalists defeated their non-universalist opposition in the form of the traditional monarchies of Europe and Russia, leading to the rise of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Austria-Hungary. World War II was a victory of Young Hegelians over Right Hegelians in Europe and non-universalists in Japan, respectively. The Cold War was a conflict between two different branches of Young Hegelians, the Soviet communists and the progressive liberal West.

The War on Terrorism in the 21st century is a struggle between the ascendant progressive liberals and the forces of political Islam. Some Islamists embrace a universalist ideology, seeking to bring the whole world under the rule of a global caliphate. Others are non-universalist, seeking an exit from and alternative to postwar progressivism. But both of these are rivals of the Western hegemony, except when the establishment sees fit to weaponize them against the remnants of non-universalism in Western countries.

The Path to Genocide

The fundamental characteristic of any universalist ideology is that it posits at least one common factor among all people. Such factors may be formulated as “All people are W”, “All people believe X”, “All people do Y”, “All people require Z”, and so forth. But what shall a universalist do with a person who is not W, or believes the opposite of X, or deliberately avoids doing Y, or has no need of Z? Like a scientist who encounters data which does not comport with the hypothesis being tested, the universalist faces a binary choice: reject the hypothesis and formulate a better one, or alter the data to fit the hypothesis. In science, the latter is (hopefully) condemned as academic fraud, but it is standard practice in the political realm. In other words, because the presence of people who steadfastly reject universalism is an empirical falsification of universalism, a universalist must either renounce one’s ideology or renounce those people, and the latter tends to occur. The method by which this renunciation of people is performed is best known as “no true Scotsman,” and declares them to be less than human.

The path from universalism to genocide is thus clear; dehumanize the inconvenient people, systematically reduce their role in socioeconomic life, then remove them from society. Because it is impossible to remove people to a location outside the Universe, which is what would be necessary to preserve universalism from those who reject it, the universalists are left with the option of murdering the incompatible. Regardless of whether the universal ideal is the Nazi master race, the Soviet industrial worker, the Khmer Rouge agrarian peasant, the Islamic State interpretation of Sharia, or the Calvinist-Unitarian-rooted system of progressive liberal values, any belief system which posits a mold that all people must fit will ultimately dehumanize those who do not fit, often with ghastly results.

But what genocide are progressive liberals carrying out? Surely the United States government is not forcing its own citizens into concentration camps or murdering them en masse, even though it has done both in the memorable past. Merriam-Webster defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group”, “the deliberate killing of people who belong to a particular racial, political, or cultural group”, and “acts committed with intent to partially or wholly destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” Note that only one of these three definitions explicitly mentions killing. The other two are far broader in scope, including any acts intended to destroy a group of people. Whereas the size that a group must have in order for its destruction to be considered genocidal is rather arbitrary, this is also absent from the definition. Culture is defined as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group”, “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”, “the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic”, and “the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.” All four of these definitions denote aspects of traditional Western thought that radical leftists seek to transform and destroy.

Because progressives have acquired such immense cultural power in the West, it is not necessary for them to directly murder their domestic opposition in appreciable numbers at this time. Such treatment is currently reserved for third-world peoples abroad. It currently suffices to use corporate power to censor their opposition, use social shaming to render them unemployable, promote milquetoast moderates as controlled false opposition in the political arena, wield state power to stop open attempts at real opposition, and steadily import migrants who are culturally incompatible with American and European rightists to demographically displace them over the course of generations. But no one should doubt that progressive universalists would resort to shooting like the others if nudging and shoving were to lose their efficacy, and this is beginning to happen throughout the Western world.

Genocide and Libertarianism

At this point, one may wonder what any of this has to do with political libertarianism, the idea that the use of force should only be defensive in nature. It may seem so obvious as to go without saying that genocide is incompatible with libertarianism, but let us take a closer look. By inserting the definition of culture into the definition of genocide, one finds that deliberate action intended to partially or wholly destroy a political or cultural group and eliminate the set of shared attitudes, beliefs, conventions, goals, practices, and values that characterize them is technically a form of genocide. Therefore, if a political or cultural group has a set of shared conventions and practices which are inherently aggressive in nature, then certain forms of genocide against said group would count as defensive uses of force.

That libertarian philosophy does not forbid genocide, but rather provides guidelines for its proper practice is a shocking realization that must be understood correctly, so let us contemplate these guidelines. First, of the four universal factors listed in the previous section, only the behavioral factor can form the basis of a libertarian genocide. It is aggressive action or the threat thereof that merits the use of defensive force. All forms of universalism based on a person’s essence, beliefs, or requirements are enemies of liberty because they lead to violence on the basis of factors which do not involve initiating the use of force against people. Only a group of people who actually behave in an unrepentantly aggressive manner merit partial or whole destruction.

This leads to the second requirement, that collective punishment should be minimized. While it is acceptable and may be necessary to use the authority of private property to censor and exclude those who provide the ideological motivation for criminal behavior, each person has the agency to decide whether or not to attack innocent people and/or their property. Thus, the people who are responsible for crimes are the people who committed the crimes or hired others to commit crimes in their stead, and defensive force should be focused on them. Broader nonviolent measures to suppress cultural norms which are anti-libertarian may be less targeted in application.

Third, a genocidal effort against an anti-libertarian faction should be the culmination of a long train of lesser measures and escalations, all of which have failed. One should not reach for a rocket launcher when a fly swat or a handgun will suffice, and one should not attempt to eliminate an entire political or cultural faction if lesser measures will restore orderly peace. The amount of force which is best for civilization is dictated by the strength and cohesion of the enemies of that civilization, and partial or complete suppression of a political faction is only necessary for ending existential threats to a libertarian social order.

Conclusion

Let us conclude by considering libertarian strategy in light of the points discussed above. There exists an established order that has permeated and controlled established organs of politics, academia, media, business, and finance. This order originated with a heretical Christian sect despite the denials of its membership that this is the case, but has since become almost entirely secular. Examining the tenets of this religion is useful for understanding why progressive liberal activists argue and behave as they do. The practice of this religion has brought unprecedented aggression, destruction, and death to the world, and will continue to do so unless and until it is stopped.

In order for a libertarian social order to succeed, it must stand against this creed with both the might and the willingness to defend itself from the proselytizing acolytes of secular Calvinist universalism. Of course, libertarians will need to make the advocacy of such ideas within their territories punishable by exile and outlawry. But because the establishment is universalist, the very existence of islands of liberty in the ocean of progressive liberal statism refutes their ideology. For the reasons and by the processes enumerated above, peaceful libertarians minding their own business in their own societies can expect to be attacked. This necessitates considerations of robust defense, as failure to do so will result in said libertarians being genocided by statists.

While part of the practical answer to globalism is local governance protected by nuclear deterrence, another part is a counter-universalism that fights fire with fire. A behavioral standard that all people refrain from engaging in the worst forms of criminal activity, with those who do regarded as having forfeited their personhood in an ethical sense, is not only necessary to prevent social order from being disrupted, but is essential for dealing with persistent external threats. Just as an individual need not spend a short life dodging hired assassins instead of stopping the person who hires them, libertarian communities need not live on the precipice of annihilation by an all-consuming global statism. By resorting to the methods discussed in the previous section which happen to fall within the dictionary definition of genocide, a libertarian social order can prevent itself from being defeated by the nation-state system and stand defiant against secular Calvinist universalism.

References:

  1. “What Is Christian Universalism?”. Auburn.edu.
  2. Knight, George T. (1953). The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 12, p. 96.
  3. Calvin, John (1994). Institutes of the Christian Religion. Eerdmans. p. 2206.
  4. Allen, R. Michael (2010). Reformed Theology. Doing Theology. New York: T&T Clark. p. 100–1.
  5. Gregory A. Boyd (2001). “The Open Theism View”, in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, ed. James K. Beilby, Paul R. Eddy. InterVarsity. p. 14.
  6. McGrath, Alister E. (1990). A Life of John Calvin. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 118–20.
  7. Breton, Albert (ed. 1995). Nationalism and Rationality. Cambridge University Press. p. 248.
  8. Engaging Our Theodiversity. Unitarian Universalist Association.
  9. Luke 16:19–31.

Liberty Minecraft Quarterly: Autumn 2018

At the end of the 20th century, digital economies emerged on the Internet. Today, they also exist in virtual worlds. These economies offer freedoms which are suppressed by state violence. Virtual worlds can employ arbitrary rule sets which may or may not impose subsidies, taxes, price controls, respect for private property or self-ownership, among other norms. Virtual worlds may be operated as socioeconomic experiments in a cost-effective manner; a few hundred dollars instead of tens or hundreds of thousands. Experiments of this variety may be conducted ethically because participation is voluntary. In a virtual world, participant activity can be recorded easily, which offers a more complete data set for empirical analysis. In this way, virtual worlds offer a means to explore the adverse effect of state policies without risking large amounts of capital or human lives and freedoms.

To achieve this goal, one must first establish a control condition as a baseline for comparison. In December 2015, I decided to create a demonstration of Austrian economics with libertarian ethics using the world’s best-selling computer game, Minecraft. Following two beta tests which failed to generate a profit, Liberty Minecraft’s official launch was in March 2017, and today it is a profit-generating proof of concept. In November 2017, I wrote “Building Liberty in Minecraft” for Zeroth Position in which we explored digital economies, Minecraft, and liberty. September 2018 marked the launch of a new world that offers several technical improvements. This article will be the first in a quarterly series of updates on the Liberty Minecraft project, and will explore three topics: is Liberty Minecraft a valid demonstration of Austrian economics and libertarian ethics, the differences between the Old World and the New World, and what has happened there so far.

Is Liberty Minecraft Valid?

Minecraft is not the real world. Minecraft items have familiar names; “Cooked Chicken” will satisfy “Hunger” and restore “Health,” but these names and their association to objects in the real world is completely illusory. Rather, in-game items offer some utility as a means to achieve goals, and this means that items in Minecraft can produce real incentive systems. Liberty Minecraft is not and is not intended to be a simulation of reality. However, the players involved and their freedom to express preferences are completely real. When real actors compete to acquire scarce means that satisfy ends, a real economy and society develops, even in a digital world. Liberty Minecraft is a game world which implements Austrian economics with libertarian ethics using smart contracts. Self-ownership, private property, commodity money, and trade are offered via computer code which executes on our game servers. The ‘physical laws’ of Liberty Minecraft are also enforced by computer code.[Footnote 1]

The Rule of Liberty Minecraft

A society will enjoy liberty whenever it abides by this rule: resolve nonviolent disputes nonviolently. This is the primary rule of Liberty Minecraft. Our players “must solve difficult problems without resorting to violence or threats of violence.”[1] I enforce this rule. Here, it is common for people to suggest that I have violently centralized power, that this decision abandons the free market for enforcement services, and therefore that Liberty Minecraft does not represent a libertarian society. Let us see why this is false. First, a person who rejects this rule cannot argue against being banned from Liberty Minecraft without committing a performative contradiction. Second, property owners are free to decide who can use their property, and I have decided that everyone who rejects my rule is not allowed to use my property. Third, I compete with thousands of server operators, and player participation on a Minecraft server is voluntary. Thus, I am accountable in the free market and will put valuable capital at risk by performing my functions poorly. This rule and its enforcement exist in a highly competitive market and are consistent with libertarian ethics and Austrian economics.

In addition, there are two Terms of Use which are implied but stated in answer to common questions. The first term of use is “Read and understand the rules.” No one can abide by a rule which they have not read and do not understand. The second term is “Do not hack the server.” Hackers can change the rules, and permitting hacking would defeat the purpose of setting rules. Here I also list a promise: “Within Liberty Minecraft, I promise to protect land which is claimed using Claim Blocks.” This brings us to a second criticism of Liberty Minecraft.

The Function of Claim Blocks

In Liberty Minecraft, Claim Blocks are applied to the world in order to claim land as property. In the New World, Claim Blocks are available for purchase at a fixed price of 100 Claim Blocks per Diamond, one of the in-game commodities. Here people often argue that I am engaging in arbitrary price-fixing, therefore Liberty Minecraft is not an implementation of Austrian economics. However, unclaimed land within Liberty Minecraft is my property, and I am free to sell it at the price of my choosing. One may respond that I cannot own all the land within the server, as I have not homesteaded it. These people beg the reader to reject reality as a means to produce a more realistic demonstration: because Liberty Minecraft did not exist before I created it, and all land within Liberty Minecraft exists within Liberty Minecraft, its unclaimed land is my property. Furthermore, I work in order to pay for the proper maintenance and service of the server hardware on which Liberty Minecraft exists.

I have decided to sell land protection services within Liberty Minecraft for our in-game currency because the Terms of Commercial use for Minecraft preclude me from using other, more preferable options. I have developed a reputation by protecting the property of individuals, and in their absence for a period of years. Failing to perform this service in a professional way will result in the destruction of my project. The value of my offer is determined in the free market because I compete with other services for the protection of (digital) life, liberty, and property.

Once a player has bought land, they are free to sell it at any mutually agreeable price. Within Liberty Minecraft, all landowners hold an estate in land which is similar to fee simple except that there are no taxes, eminent domain powers, police powers, or escheat. Landowners are free to make their own rules and terms of enforcement. Ownership is conditional because players must follow my rule to play on my game servers. However, players may retain unconditional ownership by using server software to download a copy of their property. Land which is claimed can only be used with the authorization of the owner or a person to whom they have delegated that right. Land claims expire by default if a player leaves for 60 days. In escheat, property without an heir would go to the State. In my case, Claim Blocks are returned to the player and the property becomes unprotected. However, I am now investing to develop a better option: an auction system where the proceeds will go to the departed player. If this causes currency to become more scarce over time, then the remaining supply will have a higher purchasing power which will serve to attract former players, among other benefits.

Currency

Within Liberty Minecraft, Diamonds are used as currency. Minecraft’s Diamonds are durable, portable, fungible, and scarce. Thus, Diamonds have many of the monetary qualities which gold offers in the real world. There is one notable exception: Minecraft’s Diamonds are indivisible. Liberty Minecraft offers a solution where players may subdivide their Diamonds into 10^18 sub-units which may be transferred securely within Liberty Minecraft. One may object that my decision is arbitrary; it prevents the free market from solving this problem, and this abandons Austrian economics. These people seem not to understand that the currency is Diamonds even once they are told, because otherwise such a criticism amounts to the difference between 100,000 centimeters and one kilometer; that is, no difference at all.

Minecraft players have always used Diamonds as a standard of value and medium of exchange, which is why I have selected it as currency. Diamonds are produced by mining or may be discovered in the world’s ‘natural’ structures. In Liberty Minecraft, the supply of Diamonds is finite. Still, this is the only game item for which I am offering money services at our ChestShops. This intervention picks Diamonds as the winner instead of allowing for free market competition among in-game items in Liberty Minecraft, which is the result of an unfortunate technical limitation. At present I cannot offer money services for all game items. However, even if I solve this problem, game items suffer from the same vulnerability: I am an imperfect central point of failure. Therefore, Liberty Minecraft’s Diamond money is a game commodity which must be discovered and produced by mining, which had already been in use as money for many years across Minecraft servers, and which is subdivided in Liberty Minecraft to add an important characteristic of money: divisibility.

Liberty Minecraft is a valid demonstration of Austro-libertarianism for the reasons discussed above. The players of Liberty Minecraft, their preferences, and their freedoms are real. Scarce means may be secured to achieve desirable goals. Our one rule and its enforcement are consistent with libertarian ethics. The sale of land and protection services within Liberty Minecraft are consistent with Austrian economics. Until human incompetence or enmity changes this virtual world, Liberty Minecraft is a valid demonstration of Austrian economics with libertarian ethics.

From Old World to New World

Compared to any other Minecraft server, Liberty Minecraft’s New and Old worlds are nearly identical. Both are played in Survival Mode. They both offer Diamond currency, private property, trade, and self-ownership with smart contracts. They are both exactly the same size, roughly as large as Manhattan. They both subject players to one rule: resolve nonviolent disputes nonviolently. Differences, which remain to be discussed provide an opportunity to demonstrate by example some of the ways in which a virtual world may be altered to test social and economic policies.

Put simply, Liberty Minecraft’s Old World suffered from arbitrary rewards while the New World does not. (This characterization is rather too simple because Minecraft itself contains some arbitrary rewards, but I will offer it as a general rule which rarely fails.) Over the first 9875 hours played across two years, Old World players received Universal Basic Income which created Diamond money from thin air, because otherwise it was impossible to trade land. This technical limitation was discussed in the previous article published here. I solved the problem at the end of November 2017, and my players experienced what happens when a subsidy program is eliminated. To pay for the money printing in the best way I knew how, I mined an amount of Diamonds somewhat larger than those which were printed and blew them up, returning them to the thin air whence they came.

Following this correction, players spent less time idling on the server. Most players who subsisted on UBI either stopped playing Liberty Minecraft or developed new skills, but over 90 percent of the people who have played Liberty Minecraft have stopped playing; our active population is approximately 60 players but more than 600 players have visited. Therefore, one cannot claim by this evidence alone that ending UBI probably caused players to idle less due to the size of the initial population and proportion of surviving players. Furthermore, I do not presently have a research budget to investigate research questions in a formal way. Nevertheless, players in the New World do not suffer from arbitrary rewards and punishments as a consequence of money printing. All money is earned by providing value in exchange to another player or by discovering and mining ‘naturally’ generated Diamonds.

In the Old World, a player ranking system provides arbitrary rewards in exchange for playing an arbitrary amount of time on the server. This ‘solution’ was selected in an attempt to achieve three instrumental goals: 1) I wanted people to play and enjoy Liberty Minecraft, 2) I wished to offer a secure way for players to trade in-game property of any type, including resources which exist but cannot be extracted in Minecraft, and 3) I intended to do this without a development budget.

Distributing new abilities with player ranks in exchange for an arbitrary amount of play time seemed like a simple and inexpensive way to achieve those three goals. However, this incentive system has the undesirable effect of attracting players who are rewarded without producing anything of value. I expect that this has a negative impact on our digital society in the Old World because the system is not meritocratic. In a sense, the New World is a test of this hypothesis because I have removed the arbitrary ranking system and its rewards. In the New World, all of the value a player accumulates is directly attributable to their merit. The New World now competes in real time with the Old World. If the New World makes significantly more money than the Old World, then it is a better product.

Operational Constraints

Both the New and Old Worlds are subject to the Terms of Commercial Use for Minecraft. Among other things, the terms prohibit me from selling digital items for hard currency. For instance, I cannot offer a secondary market where active players offer real-world value for the assets of inactive players. Without access to the free market, the property of inactive players is left in limbo. In common law, the State takes this property for itself. Liberty Minecraft is building a better option.

When Liberty Minecraft began in 2015, land claims could be configured in two ways which are relevant to this discussion. One could define an arbitrary duration of player inactivity that specifies when a player’s land claims will expire, and an arbitrary amount of wealth invested in Claim Blocks which permanently stops that player’s land claims from expiring. In the Old World, I work within these technical limitations. Niccolo Machiavelli held Cesare Borgia in high regard, and observed that the Romagna waited for more than a month while he was sick and dying.[2] Likewise, I hold my players in high regard, so land claims expire after 60 days. Furthermore, in the Old World, a player who owns 1000 Diamonds worth of Claim Blocks has permanent land claims. This system fails in at least two important ways. First, it punishes value providers who are busy and lose their property. Second, active value providers are punished because I invest resources to maintain the property of people who no longer play Liberty Minecraft.

After three years of operation, I can now turn my attention to these problems. In the New World, I will not work within these technical limitations. First, I wanted the duration of land ownership to be non-arbitrary. Last month, I designed and funded the development of a system which delays claim expiration for Donors and Subscribers. This new option permits an individual to decide how long to hold their property in their absence. By charging donations in exchange for persistent land claims, I may benefit from better earnings, active players may benefit from a server which is better funded, and donors expect to benefit because otherwise they would not donate. The actions of free individuals are a demonstration of their preferences. Second, I wanted a non-arbitrary way of paying the former owner of an expiring Land Claim. This month I created a budget and then designed an automated auction system where expiring land claims are put on auction. The proceeds will go to the former owner and will be available to them if they decide to return.

One Month of Freedom

The New World launched on August 31, 2018. At the time of this writing, Liberty Minecraft’s New World has already earned more than one year of operating expenses. 115 players have logged over 7700 man-hours within Liberty Minecraft’s New World. For comparison, my goal in the first year (beginning March 2017) was to provide 10,000 hours of experience in free markets and liberty. Roughly 13,000 hours were played that year. At the present rate, the New World will reach 10,000 hours by the end of our second month.

Liberty Minecraft’s players have engaged in more than 25,500 free market exchanges using our ChestShop system. More than 2200 shops have been created by the players. Roughly 500 of them exist at present. The money supply is completely unregulated, and has been expanded from $0 to more than $281 million (28,135 player-produced Diamonds exist as cash or claim blocks). Roughly 85 percent of that money is invested in Claim Blocks. More than 940 parcels of land are privately owned by the players. The market price for a number of items was recorded by me after one month of economic activity to be compared with market prices in one year hence.

In addition to this explosion in economic activity, a number of landmarks were established before the first month of play had ended. The players commissioned, designed, and built a house to surprise me with a wonderful gift for operating Liberty Minecraft. Also, a player named __Wildfire_ has constructed a city-wide rail system with lines that pass through the property of at least seven different land owners. The mine cart rail includes terminals in at least five different locations which provide no-fee access to three shopping districts and more than one hundred land claims. Two other owner/operators have agreed to connect their private rail lines to produce a transportation network which is both operated and owned by a distributed network of players.

Another player named Haksndot has become the monopoly owner of a no-fee railway system that spans the world using “The Nether”, one of the game’s three dimensions. Origo Station, which lies in the center of his rail system, includes roughly twenty ‘Portals’ that are native to Minecraft and which connect all around the world’s first populated area, sometimes called Spawn Town or Scar City. Origo also has the world’s second most active shop district called Hellmart. There, Haksndot is crowdsourcing the construction of materials for building his Netherway rail system by purchasing raw materials, automatically processing these materials, selling their products, and buying back the blocks which players may produce for profit and which are used in the construction of The Netherway. These places and many others may be visited by joining Liberty Minecraft which is free to anyone who owns Minecraft for their home computer.

Two clans have established themselves as significant social and economic forces in Liberty Minecraft: the Emerald Clan and Mein Kraft. While each one has their own story to tell, one cannot avoid discussing them by contrast. Emerald Clan has been with Liberty Minecraft for nearly one year and are a cornerstone of our community, but the name ‘Emerald Clan’ did not arise until last month, after Mein Kraft established themselves as a Clan. Mein Kraft joined at the launch of our New World and are still being integrated into our community. Machiavelli observed that there are difficulties when groups differ in language and customs, but the greatest help is if one resides there and sends colonies.[3] Emerald Clan and Mein Kraft differ in language and customs, but they share a love of freedom which is respected in Liberty Minecraft.

At present, the Emerald Clan is mainly involved in the production of goods that are obtained by trading Emeralds with villagers (which is an arbitrary trading feature native to Minecraft). Sharonclaws, who leads the Emerald Clan, is the operator of Emerald Tower, located in Scar City near Spawn. Spawn is the location where players first appear when they arrive in Liberty Minecraft. Mein Kraft is led by K9us, who owns $tore, which is primarily involved in the sale of goods obtained by ‘auto-fishing’ or by raiding End Cities (naturally generated structures that contain valuable goods). Another member, Frozenhammerz, owns Ivory Tower, which is also located in Scar City.

Emerald Clan is more socially invested and less hostile than Mein Kraft because they do not swear in conversations and communicate the purpose of their actions. For instance, they offer to use their property as a means to develop communities based on mutual trust. Mein Kraft has logged more man-hours, and is more productive and collectivistic; at the time of this writing, they have more shops offering items for sale and their clan’s members are trusted on all of the most valuable property owned by their members. Price wars between these two clans have reduced the price of tools and other high value goods by 50–90 percent over the course of one month despite the extraordinary growth in our free market money supply.

Conclusion

Liberty Minecraft’s New World is a technical improvement on my original offering. It is a valid demonstration of Austrian economics with libertarian ethics. The New World is actively testing a hypothesis that abandoning arbitrary rewards and subsidies will create a more profitable world. Since the launch of the New World, more things have happened than I can possibly describe. Our players build transportation infrastructure, establish communities according to their own customs, and have improved the standard of living among our players by direct competition among producers.

Footnote

1. One qualification must be added in every case because the game’s servers are not hardened against hacking or human fallibility. While I do perform regular backups to prepare for inevitable failures, I will ask that the reader mentally append all game rules and ‘physical’ laws with the qualification “…unless a hacker, operator incompetence, operator malice, or any combination of the above causes this to change.” I am the server operator.

References:

  1. Woods, Tom (2018, June 26). “Ep. 1187: Private Property vs. No Private Property: The Results”. The Tom Woods Show.
  2. Machiavelli, Niccolo, and W. K. Marriott. The Prince (ch. 7). Project Gutenberg, 2017.
  3. Ibid, ch. 3.

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.

Book Review: One Nation Under Gold

One Nation Under Gold is a book about the role of gold in American economic history by James Ledbetter. The book details how gold has shaped the American psyche and played a role in many debates and power struggles from the founding of the United States until the current age.

At the beginning of the book, there is a helpful timeline of many of the most important events that Ledbetter discusses. A short preface states the case to be made: that monetary gold has many qualities that good money should have, but cannot fulfill the ultimate hopes of its advocates. The introduction begins with both positive and negative contemporary commentary on the California Gold Rush, then briefly discusses the history of gold and the human relationship to it in the New World, particularly the United States.

The first chapter begins with George Washington’s woes with paper money during the American Revolution. Ledbetter uses this example to show how the Founding Fathers came to hate paper money. The role of debt in encouraging states to ratify the Constitution is mentioned. The search for effective currency in the 18th and 19th centuries is discussed at length, which included foreign coins, gold, silver, and paper currencies theoretically (but sometimes fraudulently) backed by metals. The correlation between monetary views and one’s opinion concerning the size and scope of government (which continues to the present day) is noted, with centralized paper money being associated with big government and decentralized metallic money being associated with small government. After discussing Andrew Jackson’s battle to defeat central banking and the Panic of 1837, Ledbetter returns to the California Gold Rush and its implications, including environmental and human exploitation as well as the Panic of 1857. With the Civil War and the issuing of greenbacks to fund it, a great failure of the gold standard is demonstrated that will echo through the rest of the book: it would stop wars and expansive social programs if it were strictly adhered to, but political leaders will always find some workaround.

Chapter 2 covers the time from Reconstruction to the Gilded Age. Ledbetter begins with the market manipulations of Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, alongside President Ulysses Grant’s role in the affair. The differences in opinion between North and South over paper money and compensation for the Civil War are also highlighted. Ledbetter notes an important lesson from these years: a polity that values multiple currencies will create a market of exchange between them, and huge swings in those markets will eventually cause social unrest. The debate over the monetization of silver and its role in financial downturns for the rest of the 19th century are discussed next, but the decade of the 1880s is skipped over. The chapter concludes with the Panic of 1893 and the near-disappearance of US government gold reserves in 1895, which was resolved with the help of J.P. Morgan.

The third chapter deals with the agrarian populist response to these events as well as events up to the Great Depression. The role of William Jennings Bryan and other silver advocates occupies much of the first half, along with their defeat as a result of gold discoveries in Yukon Territory and South Africa. Ledbetter includes the popular but controversial interpretation of The Wizard of Oz (1900) as an allegory for 1890s politics. Next, the lack of monetary liquidity and an attempt to corner the copper market as Fisk and Gould tried to do with gold in 1869 are cited as causes for the Panic of 1907, which was used as a pretext to create the Federal Reserve System in 1913. With World War I and its financial aftermath, Ledbetter again shows that when forced to choose between adherence to sound money or engaging in warfare, politicians abandon the former. The only problem here is his blaming of the gold standard for causing the Great Depression.

The Roosevelt-Truman era is the subject of the next two chapters. Ledbetter details the steps that Roosevelt took to outlaw private gold ownership for Americans and transition to a managed currency, a clear step toward centralization. The ending of Chapter 4 details the coalition against FDR’s actions that persists in some form to the current era; paleoconservatives and some business interests opposed his moves for partisan reasons, pro-gold economists believed that decoupling money from metal would cause economic and political problems, and a fringe of conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites railed against pernicious minority power and influence.

The fifth chapter explores the legal fallout from Roosevelt’s policies, as well as the establishment of Fort Knox as a gold storage facility. The debate over gold clauses, by which creditors sought to hedge against inflation, is highlighted. The argument that devaluing money is a soft form of sovereign default made at this time is still advanced by sound money advocates. The Supreme Court’s ruling on gold clauses in Perry v. United States (1935) is shown to be coerced by the circumstances; any less convoluted ruling would have suffered a run-around by Congress and FDR. The role of gold in World War II is discussed somewhat briefly. The formation of the Bretton Woods system, a quasi-gold standard that lasted until the early 1970s, is covered in greater detail. Ledbetter concludes the chapter with the postwar populism that was in many ways the opposite of 1890s populism in terms of its views on gold and inflation.

Chapters 6–8 take the reader through the Bretton Woods era. This section begins with a description of the balance-of-payments problem, which steadily grew through the postwar era and eventually brought down the Bretton Woods system. That foreign creditors gained the ability to effect a bank run on US gold supplies became increasingly alarming through the 1950s. The crisis in the London gold market in 1960 is discussed next, followed by the closing of loopholes that let Americans own gold overseas. The extent to which Americans disobeyed the law to own gold is explored, including an amusing case of a golden rooster that publicly showcased the ridiculousness of such prohibitions.

The seventh chapter is an in-depth examination of Operation Goldfinger, a set of attempts by the US government to find more gold that would seem like jokes to a reader today. The role of the French government in threatening to destabilize the global monetary system is discussed here as well. Ledbetter mentions the possibilities of cutting spending by withdrawing US forces from Germany and Japan in the 1960s, but once more, gold went up against foreign policy and lost. Another important lesson from this chapter is that price controls, such as that of gold set at $35 per ounce despite rising demand, will always collapse eventually.

The eighth chapter picks up where the sixth chapter left off, with airlifts of gold from America to shore up the British pound. This is followed by the frustrations of the Johnson administration in dealing with Vietnam and gold balances. The end of Bretton Woods is foreshadowed with a 1968 speech from Sen. Jacob Javits (R–NY). Ledbetter explains the two-tiered gold market that was set up for the final few years of Bretton Woods. The final ten pages are devoted to critics of what was happening at the time (Murray Rothbard, Alan Greenspan, Neil McCaffrey, William F. Rickenbacker) as well as those who sought to profit from it (Harry Browne), but Ledbetter annoyingly uses the “goldbug” slur here and for the remainder of the book.

Chapter 9 deals with the birth of the current system of fiat currencies and the end of gold-backed government money. Yet again, Ledbetter shows that there were ideologues and pragmatists in government, and the latter won out. The rivalry between Fed chairman Arthur Burns and the rest of the Nixon administration takes center stage here. The relative aloofness of Nixon himself on monetary policy may surprise a reader unfamiliar with the history. The chapter concludes with the beginnings of the modern precious metals investment market, the legal aspect of which started with silver coins in the 1960s and later expanded into gold. The fraudulent activities of the Pacific Coast Coin Exchange are used as an example of the all-too-common unscrupulousness of precious metal investment companies.

The tenth and eleventh chapters explore the legalization of private ownership of gold in the US and the first years of the legal market. Ledbetter illustrates the backdoor methods by which gold ownership was partially and then fully legalized for Americans. As is typical of American politics, the most consequential legislative changes were ultimately passed as riders on other, more mundane bills. The beginnings of Fort Knox conspiracy theories is mentioned, then the role of the Krugerrand and its eventual banning to pressure South African apartheid is discussed. Chapter 11 begins with the 1970s debate over restoring gold clauses in contracts, which ultimately passed but had no real effect. The middle of the chapter covers the Gold Commission under Reagan, which led to the minting of American gold coins but little else of substance. The damaging environmental impact of new methods of gold extraction are briefly mentioned, then the chapter finishes with more scam gold companies in the International Gold Bullion Exchange and the Bullion Reserve of North America.

The final chapter begins with the Great Recession and the gold investment promotions immediately thereafter. Yet another fraudulent company, Goldline, gets a mention here. A connection is made between current-era gold advocacy and the seemingly insincere gold-standard rhetoric of the Republican Party in the Reagan years, as well as between the groups in coalition against FDR and his gold policies. Though Ledbetter is correct to point out the obstacles to restoring a gold standard and the empirical case that it would not do what its advocates claim it would, the supply objection is not as strong as he seems to believe. Even so, Ledbetter’s stated estimate of a gold price of $10,000 to $50,000 per ounce agrees with my own calculation of $12,616.75 per ounce as of 2015. He mentions E-gold and Bitcoin as technological advances that seek to emulate aspects of the gold standard, but demonstrates a lack of understanding of the latter. Ledbetter claims that no serious politician offers a vision of a world without global financial institutions, failing to realize that any serious movement of that type will be anti-political and/or revolutionary in nature.

Overall, Ledbetter’s history is mostly sound, though a bias against gold advocates that reaches beyond the evidence against them is persistent throughout. The book offers a strong challenge to the idea of a gold standard, not in theory, but in practice. The case is well-made that advocating for governments to institute sound money policies is what this publication would call politically autistic, but the potential of digital currencies to take over the global economy and bring back the good aspects of the gold standard while mitigating the drawbacks thereof is left undiscussed. Details about the monetary policies of the colonial period, the 1880s, the 1990s, and the early-mid 2000s are also noticeably missing. That said, the information that is present and the quality of bibliography makes this book well worth reading.

Rating: 4.5/5

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.