Don’t worry; the Trump administration is hard at work protecting America from the truth. By which I mean: they’ve apparently concocted an ambitious network of excuses to
kidnap and torture dispense summary justice upon deliver a charming Uncle-Sam-o-gram to Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, who has, as of the time of this writing, been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for seven years. Of course, the Official Media Gatekeepers — by which I obviously mean: fake news — are only too happy to help sell this atrocity to the American people.
The US view of WikiLeaks and Assange began to change after investigators found what they believe was proof that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents.
This past week saw the death of one of my great comedy heroes, Don Rickles, along with one of my great libertarian heroes, William N. Grigg. As a libertarian humorist, that’s kind of a tough week!
Will Grigg was the great libertarian thinker and writer who is responsible more than anyone else (with the possible exception of Radley Balko) for shedding light on the atrocities committed by the modern American police state. Over the past ten years, Grigg wrote hundreds of articles at his own blog, Pro Libertate, most of them dealing with the American criminal justice system and the wreckage it leaves in its wake. Will Grigg also wrote countless articles and blog posts for lewrockwell.com, and was one of the founding members of the Libertarian Institute. I cannot (and do not) claim to be one of the many people Will Grigg’s work helped to get free from the clutches of the "punitive priesthood," as he called it; I am merely someone who learned from Will Grigg, but that, to my mind, is high praise as it stands.
Don Rickles, of course, scarcely needs an introduction. He was the legendary insult comic dubbed "Mr. Warmth," and was possessed of an inimitable ability to command a stage with his rapid-fire, ceaseless wit. No subject was off limits for Don Rickles, very much including the sacred shibboleths of modern America: race, sex, and handicaps. Rickles had a joke for any occasion, and usually a flood of them; he was callous, he was politicially incorrect, and he was a member of the old school of Jewish comedians who would spontaneously shift into Yiddish just to annoy the audience. He was, in short, the best.
Peace is probably going to be a pretty major theme around here for the near future, what with the recently-begun war in Syria and the upcoming war in North Korea, soon to be followed by World War III and then the nuclear obliteration of everybody. Good thing I don’t live at the closest possible missile target to both Russia and China! Not to mention I don’t even have Don Rickles to take my mind off of it anymore.
Where was I? Oh, right: peace. It’s a bit awkward for me to claim that peace is such a big deal — which claim I do intend to make — without first providing a definition of what, exactly, it is. What does peace consist of? Where does it come from? How can it be maintained, and why does it matter?
As the maniacs in Washington continue to drive us toward a war with Iran, even while the "opposition" has somehow managed to find the hero of the New Red Scare in no less perverse a personage than George W. Bush himself, it is perhaps worthwhile to step back from the madness for a few moments and consider what an alternative to all of this mayhem might actually look like.
My friend Luke Tatum posted on Gab quite some time ago that "peace requires anarchy." I countered him a bit; peace, I said, is anarchy. I wasn’t just being flip or cute, either; no, I maintain that, in a non-trivial sense, peace and anarchy are one and the same. In the wake of weeks of "antifa" violence, this can be a bit tough to understand, so let’s dive into it a bit.
Because, since apparently nobody else is willing to do it, it falls to me to defend Milo Yiannopoulos. After years of gleefully dismantling the shibboleths of political correctness and getting away with it, Milo has finally gone too far; in a podcast appearance recently, he had the audacity to poke at the taboos surrounding pedophilia, which was, to be sure, a very poorly thought out decision. Milo, of course, is used to having the correct identity cards to say outrageous things and get away with it; in this case, he probably should have considered that the homosexuality card is a positive detriment, as homosexuality and pedophilia have been linked in the popular imagination for so long that a prominent homosexual playfully discussing pedophilia pushes all the wrong buttons with the conservative crowd. That is the politically correct line you do not want to cross.
Yet cross it he did, and the reaction was swift and fierce: his CPAC speech was canceled, his book deal was withdrawn, and he was resignated at Breitbart. Milo is sufficiently energetic and sufficiently entrepreneurial that I suspect he’ll survive it, but he’s lost a lot of cachet over this, to the point where even his friends seem to be distancing themselves from him. Since I’m already a pariah, though, I don’t fear the hornets’ nest; I’ll dive right in there!
I’m not prepared to let go of this Richard Spencer thing just yet. Sorry, everybody who’s desperately sick of it, but it’s hip, topical stuff that exposes a quite frankly worrying trend in the liberty movement. Quick recap for the benefit of anybody who has wisely ignored my previous diatribes on the subject but who has foolishly chosen to read this one: The International Students For Liberty Conference was this past weekend, and a faction of students in the SFL calling themselves the "Hoppe Caucus" invited Richard Spencer to come get together with them at a bar near the conference to discuss his ideas. Mayhem then ensued, Jeffrey Tucker got involved, and then everybody got kicked out, which is a win for liberty because it made it harder for Richard Spencer to talk to people who wanted to talk to Richard Spencer, and I guess we’re supposed to think that’s absolute aces.
That’s not really what I came to talk about today. I came to talk about this one narrow little concept that I’ve seen echoed in a lot of libertarish responses to the Spencer fiasco. Because he’s handy, I’ll pick on Robby Soave again, but this is purely illustrative; Soave is nowhere near the only person saying things like this.
We all had a good laugh at Jeffrey Tucker’s expense the other day, when he got the usual Bumbling Bees treatment: I found a goofy picture of him, artlessly slapped a DC Funk Parade foam finger on it, and then made fun of a stupid thing he’d done. I was prepared to leave it there; I’m a merciful guy, after all, and I’m sure that, now that he’s been shamed in Last Week in Weird, Tucker will renounce his madcap ways and return to being an actual principled libertarian with a functioning sense of irony.
Then Robby Soave had to open his big mouth.
Contra Reason’s Nick Gillespie, the best thing that happened for the liberty movement in 2016 — indeed, arguably the only good thing in what was otherwise a catastrophic year — was the sudden explosion in popularity of the wonderful libertarian mantra "taxation is theft." In addition to being absolutely true and correct, this is also a powerful slogan that portrays libertarianism at its best, as a philosophy that does not waver and does not compromise with evil for political expediency.
So, naturally, there are libertarishes who hate it.
Years back, I was arguing philosophy with a friend of mine, and he asserted that the difference between us was that he would be willing to embrace socialism in a heartbeat if it could be shown that people would be better off under socialism, but that he didn’t believe I would. Uncharacteristic though it may be, I had no response to that; on the one hand, I surely don’t want to believe that I would gladly condemn the human race to immiseration before I would back down from my libertarian purism, but, on the other hand, I really cannot conceive of a reality in which I would endorse socialism.
This gave me quite a bit of trouble. As I’ve written before, if there’s a conflict between your ethical system and the survival of mankind, surely the former and not the latter is the problem. How was this to be reconciled with deontological libertarianism, though? Am I compelled to become a utilitarian?
"This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley," Mike Wright of Berkeley College Republicans, the group that invited Yiannopoulos to the campus, said outside the student union building as smoke bombs went off around him.
As he spoke, someone threw a glass bottle of red paint at him. The bottle shattered and splattered paint on his clothing. "It’s sad," he said.
Milo Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak to a sold-out crowd at Berkeley a few days ago. His speech never occurred. Let’s be blunt: the reason for this is that Berkeley is infested with barbarians. Which may come as a surprise to the sort of person who believes the mainstream press, the barbarians don’t come clad in "Make America Great Again" hats swilling from cans of Bud Light as they drive their pickup trucks to Super Bowl parties. Quite the opposite. The barbarians wrap themselves in rainbows, carry signs about love and peace and unity, and then smash windows, spraypaint their slogans on other people’s buildings, assault innocent people, and set fire to the campus. Welcome to the modern left, where tolerance has become what it beheld.