Placeholder for a project I am thinking about that is inspired by the movie Dark Days and the music by DJ Shadow with the same title.
The freedom of the internet sometimes makes you bump into people whom you, at first, sympathize with, and then at some point you discover, almost painfully, that while you share a common interest or viewpoint, you fundamentally came at it from different angles.
I always have had the idea that the history of the fight at the Eastern Front in the Second World War has been a victim of the cold war. Most of what we know, in the West at least, is the tale from the German side. The tale is almost that of a fantasy novel. The Germans, technically superior but numerically inferior, fight a foe with skilled tactics. The Russians combat that invasion with technically inferior systems by using numbers and blunt force tactics.
This is, of course, a very crude representation of reality but it is made by me to serve a point. The point being that one can invoke the idea of a numerically inferior force being able to best a numerically stronger enemy using better men, better weapons and better tactics. Hence, the Nato in Western-Europe, facing the specter of overwhelmingly superior Warsaw Pact forces, might stand a chance if they did what the Germans did, but learned to avoid what brought them defeat.
Of course the German generals, – those who survived -, would tell that tale. It was not their failure that defeat followed. And in the West we, no doubt, were all too willing to buy into that narrative. Even men like Milton Shulman, a man who wanted to set that narrative of the superior German warrior caste straight – Inadvertently bought into this narrative. He wanted to show on the one hand”what pathetic and petty figures these men really were.” 1). But at the same time Shulman reinforced the narrative by acknowledging the competence of the German command; “Why did a group of men with more training, more experience, and more passion for the art of warfare than any other contemporary group of similarly trained men fail to ensure victory?
So why did the German’s lose that fight?
These weaknesses might be summed up in three words – Hitler, discipline and ignorance.“2)
Here was, so to speak, the perfect military machine that eventually defeated itself. And, as Shulman will acknowledge, this defeat was mostly on the Eastern Front.3)
One fundamental problem was that for the Eastern Front it was hard to hear the Russian side. Not only because of barriers of language and ideology, but also because that side of story might not be a welcome one. What if the Russians eventually were able to field superior numbers, superior technology and use superior tactics? What if they were capable of winning a war without overwhelming superior numbers? Would this foe, now expanded with the sources of Eastern Europe and with only a few hundred kilometers to go to the Atlantic shore, not be unstoppable? Would not then the inevitability of nuclear war be a forgone conclusion?
Ironically it took the fall of the Sovjet Union to give a boost to a re-investigation of the history of the Eastern Front. What did the Sovjet sources tell us? Enter men like David Glantz who after the fall have been trying to see that war from the other side.
Of course, this history, and possible correction, would eventually surface somewhere on the internet. And of those who gave us a renewed narrative of the fight on the Eastern Front was TIK, who dutifully has been trying to tell that tale.
Now you might think TIK is somewhat like Glantz in this respect, – he often uses Glantz as his source -, but you would be far from the truth. You see, to be an historian you need to be a critical reader. And mind you, not just towards other people, but foremost towards yourself. Am I correct? Are my ideas right? And this is where TIK fails the most obvious.
I already showed in a post about his youtube movie about Hitler being a socialist how he cannot even maintain internal consistency. 4) But I ran into him again after I was curious what people say about fascism.
Now to understand his lack of self criticism I have to address it here, not so much as to be nasty to TIK, but in the hope that those who happen to watch his channel will be wary of what he is saying. Check, check and double check. Oh yes, you can check me too.
Now in that YouTube movie TIK has decided to read out the whole article by George Orwell named, “What is Fascism?” And I mean, verbatim. See below for the movie and below that for the article.
The essence of Orwell’s article is that Fascism, even back in his days(we are talking 1944) was used for about anything negative: “It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. “
“Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.“
A key sentence here is this:
” All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.“
And here is TIK’s comment to that youtube movie:
“George Orwell wrote a short piece in 1944 asking the question: What is Fascism? George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) died in 1950. His work is technically not in the PUBLIC (STATE) domain in the UK until the end of this year. If Orwell’s estate wishes to make a Fascist-copyright claim on this video, feel free. I’m not monetizing it anyway, and will simply take the video down.“
Here then is a man who directly infringes a copyright by literally reading out the whole article verbatim and then calls the Orwell estate fascist beforehand because they might see it as an infringement.
Now you might take this as some form of statement, but fundamentally it shows how disrespectful this man is towards the memory of Orwell by basically directly doing the opposite of what Orwell is advocating: to use that word as a swear word. My impression is that doesn’t even get this. TIK seems too serious in this to understand the irony of his statement.
But even if it was Irony, it is still done in poor taste.
- Shulman, Milton, Defeat in the West, First Edition, New York, 1948, page XIV,
- Shulman, Milton, Defeat in the West, First Edition, New York, 1948, page 3
- Shulman, 20
Milton Shulman’s book, Defeat in the West, can be read via the internet archive. https://archive.org/details/DefeatInTheWest/page/n39/mode/2up
Tik’s youtube movie can be found here:
George Orwell’s article can be found on this website:
George Orwell: ‘What is Fascism?’
First published: Tribune. — GB, London. — 1944.
This is a related post to my more elaborate post about the PragerU‘s 5-minutes video called If You Live in Freedom, Thank the British Empire. It is meant to be for quick reading.
I list here five things I found odd about this video and PragerU might take to heart when they ask for contributions.
1) Opinion articles are not credible sources(unless they are used as sources to say something about your opinions)
Using your opinion articles to support your own opinion is weird, especially if they do not have any sources themselves. It is basing your opinion on your opinion. What is the use beyond giving yourself a fake aura of credibility?
2) Using a source that says the opposite of what you are claiming is weird
Crocker uses Salutary Neglect to argue that the British Empire had a policy of benign neglect, mostly leaving their colonies to be autonomous. Yet, it is clear from the source that this was the exception rather than the rule. This policy was only aimed at the American colonies, lasted for four decades and it might not even have been a deliberate policy according to that same source.
He does that with other subjects as well, such as slavery, where anti-slavery was a policy after 1800, but before that was actively supported.
Arguing that something was the rule by pointing towards an exception of that rule invalidates your claim. Arguing that something was the rule at one time, and yet the opposite was true at another time makes your argument poor, unless you explain it.
Note that I am not arguing against Crocker, in each case the source itself contradicts or even calls into question.
3) A true Scotsman?
Crocker gives Stamford Raffles as an example of an upright representative of the British Empire; the man who established Singapore as a free trade port. From his biography in Wikipedia, he seems to be for individual freedom, trade and no taxation.
However, Raffles also appointed and then later removed the Scottish William Farquhar as First Resident and Commander of Singapore, because Farquhar tolerated opium trade and slavery. Was Farquhar also not a representative of that same British empire? But maybe Farquhar wasn’t a true Britisher?
4) You should argue the case
Crocker claims that the British Empire promoted limited government, (individual)freedom and the free market; that the British Empire was successful because of this and that no power did more than the British to abolish slavery and slave trade. Yet he does not show that there was some kind of promotion of these values, either direct or indirect. Or how this contributed to its success.
Salutary Neglect might have been a deliberate policy, but was this policy there to promote the values he mentioned? And was it deliberate? Or does he mean that this was a side-effect?
Was the abolishing of slavery and slave trade a policy that was born from those values, or was it, again, that which promoted these values. And did this effect anyone or anything directly? And was the British Empire foremost in this?
Crocker doesn’t argue his case or even clarify what he means.
5) ‘Facts’ are not arguments
Crocker provides several times ‘facts’ as if they by themselves support his claims. Two of his main points are actually based on facts: that the English were alone in 1940 and that the Magna Carta influenced the US constitution. Each of these is ‘supported’ by more facts.
However, in the case of England being alone, nothing but that fact is established. He doesn’t even point out, which is probably more important, that England liberated countries later in the war. In the case of the Magna Carta he does not provide any proof that without it the US constitution would not exist.
Facts can be used to support your arguments, but it means you have to do more than just show them.
The 5-Minute video made by Crocker is not much more than an opinion that is poorly supported by the supplied sources or are even contradicted by them. If PragerU’s mission is “to promote what is true, what is excellent, and what is noble through digital media“, then this video does that mission a disservice.
On the tenth of September 2017, PragerU published one of their 5-minute videos. The video was called If You Live in Freedom, Thank the British Empire and it was presented by H. W. Crocker III. The subject of the video is summarized above.
This video made me curious about the sources. At first, I saw myself challenged to have to find out on what sources Crocker based himself, however, PragerU was kindly enough to publish the transcript of the video and an overview of Facts and Sources. They can be found here: https://www.prageru.com/video/if-you-live-in-freedom-thank-the-british-empire/
The purpose of this post is to go through the list of facts & sources and examine each of them and see if they support his statements.
According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring
a farmer was ploughing
the whole pageantry
of the year was
the edge of the sea
sweating in the sun
the wings’ wax
off the coast
a splash quite unnoticed
William Carlos Williams – 1883-1963
I think you would agree with me that it would be a herculean task to respond to any video on youtube that is out there that requires one. Addressing the flood would make a considered reaction almost impossible.
However, sometimes I feel that a response is required. And I felt this need regarding a video called ‘Why they don’t tell you about Hitler’s “Shrinking Markets ‘. The main reason for my unease with this video is that the maker of this video, a man who calls himself TIK, schools people on what history is. If you claim to know what history is, then leading by example would be a thing for sure. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, though. So how edible is his course?
It warrants to represent TIK’s argument in a proper manner. So let me lay out his case for you, so you can both check that I got it right and also understand the whole of his argument.
There are two ways to represent his argument. In a (very) short way and in the full way.
The short argument
Hitler was a socialist.
The long argument
They, the (Marxist-)Socialists who invaded the state controlled universities and schools since the Cold War era, if not earlier, want to prevent you from knowing about the shrinking markets because then they would have to tell you that Hitler was a socialist and that socialism, which means total state control of the economy and people – coupled with his racism caused the holocaust.
(note: I updated this long description to better reflect what was said on August the tenth)
I assume that you will agree with me that the short argument would be the easiest to respond to. The full argument is so complex in nature and raises so many additional questions that any response will be very long indeed. So let me address the short version at the moment. That is, let’s see how TIK approaches this argument that Hitler was a socialist as a historian.
Socialism according to IEP
Before taking a look at TIK I want to point to another source first. The reason is that the problem with the short argument is that we need to find a definition of socialism. For this I make uses of the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy(IEP) The IEP is a peer-reviewed encyclopedia. The reason I do so it not for the most obious reason, that is to show it conflicts with the definition that TIK gives, but rather to point out that there is no agreement even among socialists disagree on how socialism is to be realized. The IEP gives the following definitions on socialism as an economic system and an ideology.
A socialist economy features social rather than private ownership of the means of production.
Socialist ideology asserts the moral and economic superiority of an economy with these features.
But it adds a cautionary remark:
How, precisely, socialist concepts like social ownership and planning should be realized in practice is a matter of dispute among socialists.
IEP points out that:
Considered as an economic system, socialism is best understood in contrast with capitalism.
Capitalism designates an economic system with all of the following features:
- The means of production are, for the most part, privately owned;
- People own their labor power, and are legally free to sell it to (or withhold it from) others;
- Production is generally oriented towards profit rather than use: firms produce not in the first instance to satisfy human needs, but rather to make money; and
- Markets play a major role in allocating inputs to commodity production and determining the amount and direction of investment.
An economic system is socialist only if it rejects feature 1, private ownership of the means of production in favor of public or social ownership. But must an economic system reject any of features 2-4 to count as socialist, or is rejection of private property sufficient as well as necessary? Here, socialists disagree.
My point here is to show that even if there is agreement about the fundamental concepts of socialism, there is disagreement about how to realize it. And it is in particular important as we soon will see.
Socialism according to TIK
Now let’s have a look at how TIK defines the concept for us.
Socialism: you get money for free when you murder and steal from the bourgeoisie(or jews)(2:55).
Socialism: the technical definition is: the socialization of the means of production(4:14).
Socialism is the state control of the economy(8:03).
(Real)Socialism is the state(8:44)(23:09)
The true nature of socialism – total state control of the economy and people – totalitarianism(19:24)
The reason why I have listed all the definitions in is because TIK uses these different ones to make his argument. I cannot find where TIK takes his definitions from as he doesn’t quote any sources. He names two books: Basic Economics and Economics in One Lesson. But neither Sowell nor Hazlitt define socialism. Nor do they refer to socialism in the way he does(thievery and murder for example), even though Sowell points out some of the traits of Socialist states, to which he never says that these traits are exclusive to those states.
It is perhaps of interest in this context to give a quote by Hazlitt. The underscore is mine.
When analyzing fallacies, I have thought it still less advisable to mention particular names than in giving credit.
To do so would have required special justice to each writer
criticized, with exact quotations, account taken of the particular emphasis he places on this point or that, the qualifications he makes, his personal ambiguities, inconsistencies,
and so on I hope, therefore, that no one will be too disappointed at the absence of such names as Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, Major Douglas, Lord Keynes, Professor Alvin
Hansen and others in these pages. The object of this book
is not to expose the special errors of particular writers, but
economic errors in their most frequent, widespread or influential form.
Economics in One Lesson, page IX(1946 version).
In other words: where TIK uses Marx and Keynes, Hazlitt declines to do so because he knows very well that he would have to address each of them extensively. Sowell refers to Keynes a few times(six results on two pages). Marx is mentioned more. Hitler is hardly mentioned by either, and not in the context of socialism.
I supply this to point out that TIK doesn’t quote the sources he bases himself upon and that two books he mentions do not supply the definitions he uses. It follows that his definition must be his own. And his definition is has quite a certainty: socialism is the state. In others words: where IEP defines that socialist have a dispute.. TIK offers certainty. Unsourced, unfounded and unsupported certainty.
TIK vs the rest of the world
Now let me be clear here; TIK can, without restraint, claim that Hitler was a socialist. However, to make his argument TIK has to come up with a definition and one that at least most people can accept. Why? Because otherwise we cannot communicate concepts. If you define green as red and do not communicate that you do so, you will be in a traffic accident in no time and if you have followers believe the same, they will be too. We have to agree on definition not only to communicate, but also to make the arguments work. And you have to stick to that definition.
And here is where TIK sinks his own boat. To argue his case he gives at the beginning of his video a list of people whom he calls Marxist-Socialists. These people, so Tik explains, all believed in shrinking markets.. just as Hitler did. Then when he defines socialism as state control of the economy or, to drive the nail home, the total control of the people and the economy, Marxist-Socialists by this definition are no longer socialists. As IEP states: Not only will communism (unlike socialism) do away with class, material scarcity, and occupational specialization, it will also do away with the state. In other words. Marxist-Socialists cannot therefore be used to support his argument regarding socialists. He has refuted himself.
His arguments are shaky in another way too, as he when he defines socialism as totalitarianism. In other words: socialism has become synonymous to totalitarianism. If socialism is the same as totalitarianism then it has lost any meaning as a separate concept. In other words: anyone striving for totalitarianism has now become a socialist too and any socialist has become a totalitarian. It might again be important that in this TIK doesn’t support what he says with sources. Again, he must be using his own definitions.
You could of course argue that socialism and totalitarianism share common traits, but then you have to argue that point where they differ. Or you can argue that socialism is a subset of totalitarianism, but then you have to argue that point. TIK does neither. He makes a blanket statement by making the one equal the other.
Another way he digs a hole to fall in himself is by defining socialism as the state. Again this includes a lot of people who support the idea of a state but who might not see themselves as socialist. Take conservatives. And again, he doesn’t name any sources.
TIK further expands on this idea in his slide where he equates group to tyranny and the individual to liberty. And he explains this via etymology: Public is the same as the State. And the group is the same as tyranny.
Now this creates another problem. Just like Marxist-Socialists are no longer socialist, anyone who strives for the common good now supports tyranny by definition. As he says: there And would it be superfluous again to point out that he doesn’t name any sources for his claims?
The result of his redefinition of terms is now that some people are no longer socialists, while a lot of other people have become socialists.
To drive this point home: TIK is totally free to claim that Hitler was a socialist. My post is not to respond to that claim.
Most don’t even know the meaning of the terms, and when, you point them out – backed by a host of sources and examples from their own literature(actual evidence) you get told that you don’t know what you are talking about(23:35).
As pointed out: TIK’s definitions are totally his own and keeps being changed by him during his 28 minutes of diatribe. He hasn’t presented any ‘host of sources’ to support his definitions. TIK refers to books by Sowell and Hazlitt, neither used in his video, nor does he illustrate that they support what he says. The Marxist-Socialists cannot be used according to his own definitions as they are no longer socialists. He fails to make a coherent argument by playing fast and loose with definitions and failing to source them.
Vidal (loftily): As far as I’m concerned, the only pro- or crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself. Failing that—
Smith: Let’s, let’s not call names—
Vidal: Failing that, I can only say that—
Buckley (snarling, teeth bared): Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddam face, and you’ll stay plastered—
And then this final thing. What to say about a man who complains about his ideas being suppressed, but showing himself all too eager to hamstring the free exchange of ideas? If you deny that Hitler is a socialist, you deny the holocaust is the kind of argument that has no place in history. TIK goes even a step further. He claims that socialists actually promote the holocaust(22:06). History works when it allows for the free exchange of ideas. TIK has done himself a great disservice, he shows himself not to be the historian he claims to be.
TIK mentions a world wide socialist conspiracy to dominate the narrative, but doesn’t name the people involved, nor explains how it works on a global level, nor how it works for privately owned universities or for countries run by non-socialist governments for decades. He never supports anything he says. But most ironical is it that he references men as David Glantz and Rainer Zitelmann in t and his other videos, both whom have studied at the same state controlled universities. But then I guess, checking his sources isn’t his strong suit.
Born in Port Chester, New York, Glantz received degrees in history from the Virginia Military Institute and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Defense Language Institute, Institute for Russian and Eastern European Studies, and U.S. Army War College.
Zitelmann studied history and political sciences at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and completed his doctorate in 1986 under Prof. Dr. Karl Otmar Freiherr von Aretin with the grade of “summa cum laude”, the subject being the goals of Hitler’s social, economic and interior policies.
Some time ago, in the early sixties, Belgian Congo, located smack bang in the middle of Africa, moved towards independence. Not everyone was thrilled with the idea. For one, a sizeable group of people living in the mineral-rich province of Katanga(uranium) wanted independence from independent Congo, while the original colonizers, the Belgians, wanted no independence at all. Both being the enemy of their enemy, they went for one of those curious alliances that defy logic and Katanga was declared independent. To make sure it retained it’s independence Katanga was supplied with an army of mercenaries. French ones, given by De Gaulle, so the movie tells us.
The new government of Congo under Lumumba tried to conquer the state of Katanga by force. Since the west and the UN seemed lackluster in their support, Lumumba turned to the Soviets for aid. With the cold war edging towards a new high Congo seemed to become a battle ground where east and west could fight the cold war by proxy. So the United Nations stepped in with the aim to prevent this from happening or to control the damage.
(which it did in hindsight).
In this complicated political scene a company of Irish soldiers gets ordered to take control of a place called Jadotville as part of their UN Peacekeeping mission. Unfortenatly, we are not informed why that particular place. It gets hinted at that it is an important location, but what are the orders?
The movie does spend some time on the background of the incident, but when it comes to the main part of the movie, we are clueless. What are these guys doing there anyway?
The compound consists of a few buildings. Wisely enough the commander has his men dig trenches. Which is following the sage advice: dig in dammit!
After some preliminaries, we get to the meat of the movie, which consists of an hour of battles scenes. There is little time for anything else but explosions and shooting. Character development is the first victim in this movie.
The second victim is, of course, the truth. Politicians are not to be trusted and leave noble soldiers to fend for themselves.Reality is probably more complex and given that the movie spends some time on background, but not enough to flesh out the characters we are never given an insight into the complex political background and motives of the persons involved. In fact, the movie would have done better with leaving this part out entirely and not painting those involved in this tense complex political situation in a bad light with such rough brushstrokes. It is easy to point the finger at them politicians. A more noble and heroic movie would have shown how hard the job actually is.
O’Brien being appointed by the UN Secretary. O’Brien’s career as an international politician was broken in Congo/Katanga incident.
He is the bad guy.
.The siege of Jadotville isn’t really a good movie. Its main flaw is a lack of character development. Except for the commander, everyone is forgettable. But even as a historical insight into the events it leaves much to be desired. The same old story can be found here: untrusty politicians are selling out the noble soldiers. There is simply no time taken to delve into the complex world of cold war politics, but just enough to lay the blame with the usual suspects. The issue isn’t that there is someone to blame, the issue is that a good movie would show how a person choose his path, not because he is an untrusty bad person, but because that was his best choice, according to him at that time.
But even as a war movie it lacks the quality of say: Karthoum, Zulu, The Alamo, The lost battalion, Saving Private Ryan or the defense of Arnhem bridge by Frost in A bridge too far.
It is just a boring sequence of heroics that get to be unbelievable.
The siege of Jadotville rightly salutes the company of Irish soldiers who ended up in a bad situation at a bad time, but it dishonors them at the same time by making a complex situation easy by laying blame by the politicians for betraying them. I know this is a hugely popular thing, but you can’t just do away history because you dislike politicians. It would have been a better movie if it had just not taken that path but had given the politicians their due. Politicians are people and they sometimes have to make hard choices. It would be a great movie that takes that into account.
Philosophy is like lighting a room with cigarettes: not very practical and possibly unhealthy(and it makes you smell bad). It is a bit of a forced statement, but it reflects how I feel after having seen some philosophical discussions. These discussions tend to become quoting contests in which the one who can quote the best or the most wins the contest. And I suck at remembering quotes, that is why I prefer to make them up myself.
I guess that philosophy might have it’s uses, but it can be used to reason the non-existent into existence and that is why it sucks as well. The apologist William Lane Craig gives a showcase example of reasoning a fictitious being into existence. It his god of course, not yours(because only his god can be reasoned into existence). A philosopher isn’t required to give proof, he is just required to string words into sentences that sound okay. It is why religion likes to don the cloak of philosophy, because in philosophy, like in religion, anything can be said and nothing needs to make sense because nobody can agree on what sense is..
Another example is the ‘philosopher’ Stefan Molyneux. He is styled as an anarcho-capitalist or styles himself that way. Molyneux strikes me as a spokesman for the disgruntled members of the lower middle class and those teens who think Ayn Rand’s writings are pearls of wisdom. While the teens might eventually grow out of their fantasies, the disgruntled ones are condemned to perpetual wailing because they have to pay taxes each and every year and everyone knows: paying taxes sucks..
In anarcho-capitalism the state is evil because it amasses wealth and power and gives that to a selected group of people who use it for their own selfish goals. These people are called politicians and they are as dangerous as the Illuminati are and probably in league with them! Therefore the state should be abolished. Those who hold to Ayn Rand’s writings will readily agree because Rand sees the state as parasite limiting progress.. And of course a lot of tax payers agree as well, because they don’t want to pay taxes and without a state you don’t need to pay no taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!
Of course, someone must have asked at one moment: “but who is going to take care of all the stuff that the state does?”
“Like what?” (insert condescending tone).
“Like education, research, exploration of the universe(nasa), firefighting, policing, health care, the furtherance of the common good, protecting the weak, feeding the poor, disaster relief, providing justice, maintaining the infrastructure, settling disputes, sponsoring art, protecting the environment, protecting historical sites, making sure that the coin in your hand is worth something tomorrow and..”
And there is the solution. The free market will arrange everything through the never failing system of supply and demand all perfectly organized and overseen by companies who are, of course, pinnacles of talent promotion and efficiency. And so the people don’t have to pay taxes anymore because the free market will take care of everything that you paid taxes for. So you don’t need to pay taxes anymore cause: paying taxes sucks!
But even the likes of a Molyneux realize that unbridled capitalism might not solve everything and so they start reasoning things into existence. First they come up with voluntary organisations that will regulate the market based on voluntary participation and arbitration. Next they give limitless self healing properties to the free market in which the consumer, well informed through the internet, will punish those companies that fail to meet standards by no longer buying from them. Companies will deliver these services off course against cut-throat prices thanks to the power of the internet and all will be well, so we don’t need to pay taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!
Happiness becomes a commodity and profits and margins become the main principles for making decisions. And if you fall by the wayside because you happen to be too poor to pay for education, too ill to work for your money, too crazy to make sense or just someone who can’t keep up with the rat race: though luck, live is a bitch. I don’t care as long as I don’t have to pay taxes! Cause paying taxes sucks!
“But uh…, what happens if that someone then is going to get a gun and rob you or goes on a killing spree? To get the things through violence? Who is going to prevent him or her from doing so?”
And now Molyneux turns into an advocate of the extreme interpretation of 2nd amendment: everyone gets to have a gun. And he sees firms and organisations of armed people protecting each other, protecting of course, not robbing or blackmailing or racketeering. Not like those gangs do, but benevolent voluntary organisations of the kind that you have never seen in the course of history. Thus society becomes an armed society in which anyone can be shot by anyone, especially when they suck or nobody is watching or they are outgunned a hundred to one. Is that the wild west? Yes.. But who cares… as long as I don’t have to pay taxes. Cause paying taxes sucks!
“But what happens when a foreign country makes use of the now largely disorganized organisation of this country?”
“We have an army of volunteers to protect us against foreign aggression.”
“Just like they had at the start of the American Revolution?”
“Like that army made up of local militias that was unable to defeat the English until it was reformed into the continental army?”
“So why would that work now?”
“Because of the internet.”
“Because the internet makes everything different.”
Of course anarcho-capitalists will play the internet card again and again.
“Who will prevent those abuses that unbridled capitalism caused in the 19th century such as working days of 14 hours or more?”
“What about the abuses that now occur in some countries where some people and even children are treated as no better than slaves?”
“What if a company pollutes a place and pays off people or just moves elsewhere rather than cleaning up or changing their production methods?”
“What if companies form a monopoly?”
Monopolies are a cause for reasoning things into existence. Both Molyneux and Ayn Rand follow two tracks: they attack government and babble. Rand goes on a tangent arguing that it is governments that cause monopolies and she finds ample proof in history. Of course she does. History is full of bad behaving governments(and companies). When however she has to argue how this not will happen with a truly free market economy she has only on thing to offer: trust me on my word. And so does Molyneux. You see, as much as Rand and Molyneux give examples of how monopolies were caused by states or the law, they can not give you any proof that a free market prevents them, because there has never been a free market economy such as they want: one without state interference, and therefore they have no proof to offer. And if they can argue a perfect system into existence based on zero proof then any system, including those that did exist and failed(communism, absolutism and fascism) can be declared to be perfect by downplaying the parts that are not. So just take their word for it because when you do you no longer need to pay taxes. Cause you know….Yeah, you know the drill.
It is funny that the internet actually started out as a government project. Would a company have been able to do it? Let’s have that answered by Neil deGrasse Tyson when he is talking about space exploration. He is asked in his reading about his book on the video: The History and Future of NASA and Space Travel: Neil deGrasse Tyson – Space Chronicles (2012) whether private enterprise could have done it and he answers that private enterprise requires investors who want to see a return of investment that can be quantified. And the frontier of (space) exploration poses unquantifiable dangers to investment and therefore will scare away investors. Exploration has always been something that governments have done and companies come in after to reap the benefits. Nothing wrong with that, but that is the way it has worked and not the other way around. Be sure that anarcho-capitalism will not be a way to the stars: there is no profit in it. But who cares about the stars anyway.. as long as you don’t have to pay taxes.
Would the internet have come about without the state? It might have, but it also very likely it wouldn’t.
There is no perfect system because every system can be abused, twisted and corrupted because every system is a system made by fallible humans, but people want to find this self-healing perfect system(so they don’t have to pay taxes) and the likes of Molyneux cater to that desire by dreaming up perfect systems out of thin air. It is perfect, because it hasn’t existed and thus has not been tarnished by reality. And it will never exist. It is a philosopher’s stone. That is the power of philosophy. It creates things that do not exist: gods or stateless non coercive societies based on market capitalism. And history be damned! For history sucks. Just like paying taxes does.
Did I tell you I was an historian?
I can’t help it to write this post. I resisted several times and I even have a complete rant hidden as post someplace that addresses this issue, but I decided against posting it.
But now it happened again!
“What is the issue?,” you might ask.
It is the use of the “Gott mit uns” argument.
The “Gott mit uns” argument usually pops up in discussions between atheists and theists. It is an extension of Godwin’s law: the longer a discussion on the internet last, the higher the chance that Hitler or Nazis will be mentioned. And Hitler is a hot button.
The argument comes down to this: and the Germans(or the German army) under Hitler used “Gott mit uns” on their belt buckles(which means that he supported Christianity or was a Christian, but certainly not an atheist) In an slightly less charged discussion it might also mean: for any argument you have that he is an atheist(and therefore by association atheists are evil) we have an argument that he is a Christian(and therefore by association they are evil).
I have heard Matt Dillahunty use this example twice(once in his debate with Father Jacobse and once on the ACA podcast) and now I hear it repeated by Jacquelyn Glenn(1).
I think they usually have good arguments, but I would like people to stop using this argument because it speaks of a lack of knowledge of history of Germany, Hitler and the Second world war and therefore illustrates a lack of insight. And here is the reason why.
“Gott mit uns’ was a slogan displayed on the buckle of the privates and soldiers of the regular German army( and not on that of the SS for instance, who used: Meine Ehre heisst treue: my honor is loyalty). The slogan was used by the Germans under the Empire(1870-1918), during the Weimar Republic(1918-1934) and even by Prussia before the German unification. In other words, it wasn’t implemented as part of a conscious decision by Hitler but part of a tradition of the German and Prussian army(2)
Now you might say, by not removing it, he supported it, but this speaks of a lack of knowledge of German history. For one when Hitler went on his program of rearmament in 1933 he needed the German army to make it happen. In addition Hitler came to power through a series of power deals, most specifically with the conservatives which were well linked with the German army, industry and with the churches. In addition, Hitler did not attain full dictatorial powers until after after the burning of the Reichstag, the death of von Hindenburg, the president of Germany and one of the leading exponents of the Germany army, and the elimination of the SA. And those who are informed about the German army, know Hitler did not acquire full nominal control of the German army until the removal of von Blomberg in 1938(3).
We basically have no idea what Hitler’s vision was on the buckle. You could claim he supported Christianity because of it, but you could equally state that he was against it because the SS had a different slogan. Against the latter views speaks for that the SS slogan was not introduced by Hitler, but by Himmler and the SS had nothing to do with the army, even though the waffen-ss became a rival of the army during the war.
I hope that the above will convince people to be cautious when using the argument that the belt buckles of the German soldiers say anything about Hitler’s religious convictions. It is a small point, but it makes me cringe every time when I hear people refer to it as if it is a proof in one way or another.