Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hail to the King!

As much as I admire director Peter Jackson, I feel ambivalent about his King Kong remake, which debuts in theaters in a couple of weeks. The trailers look good, and I understand that Jackson adores the original (and credits it for his desire to become a director). But why oh why remake goddamn greatness? Will Jackson’s new Kong overshadow the 1933 original? For today’s kids, probably. But in the overall history of film, no new version will ever top the impact and grandeur of the groundbreaking real McCoy.

That said, Jason Apuzzo at the Libertas blog takes time off from bashing Hollywood's antiwar efforts to post a terrific review of the Real Deal — the restored, remastered ’33 King Kong, now available for the first time on DVD. I haven’t seen the DVD and all its extraordinary extras yet, but Apuzzo’s got me hankering to grab myself a copy.

Oh, by the way...I gotta confess that when Jackson’s Kong hits the big screen next month, I’m there, ambivalent or not. Hell, who can resist Naomi Watts?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Book Review: WILSON'S WAR

A decade ago, thirty American historians and two politicians (Mario Cuomo and Paul Simon) were asked to rank the greatness of the presidents by their performances in office. Not surprisingly, Woodrow Wilson ranked as one of the Near Greats. Wilson, after all, is most often remembered as a well-intentioned idealist and “progressive,” whose dream of drawing the world together into a peaceful League of Nations was thwarted by American isolationists and demagogues.

Jim Powell (not one of the historians polled in 1996, obviously) sets the record straight in Wilson’s War: How Woodrow Wilson’s Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin & World War II. Powell shows that Wilson’s arrogant decision for the U.S. to enter World War I to “make the world safe for democracy” led to tens of millions of deaths by making many of the horrors of the remaining 20th century inevitable. “No other U.S. president,” he writes, “has had a hand — however unintentional — in so much destruction. Wilson surely ranks as the worst president in American history.”

Powell’s book is great, easy-to-read revisionist history. I’d heard some of this material before in lectures at both Cato and the Mises Institute, particularly in talks by historian Ralph Raico, but I don’t think it’s ever been pulled together as powerfully as it is here. Each chapter in Wilson’s War is titled with a provocative question: “How Did That Monstrous War Ever Happen?” “Why Did Wilson Pressure and Bribe the Russian Provisional Government to Stay in the War?” “How Did Hitler Exploit Wilson’s Blunder to Recruit 50,000 Nazis?” What Powell does so well is summarize the Big Picture to make his case against Wilson crystal clear to even those unfamiliar with the details of the Great War. In about 35 pages, he manages to review almost 100 years of European history before WWI. Powell paints a fascinating picture of Wilson’s arrogance, naiveté, and incompetence even before his decision to send Americans overseas; until I read this book, I was largely uninformed about Wilson’s fiasco in trying to bring “freedom and democracy” to Mexico.

Wilson’s War isn’t a monster. It’s only 300 well-researched pages and can be read in a few days. At a time when I think too many libertarians are horribly ignorant of U.S. foreign policy and its history (witness today’s pro-war libertarians), studying this book is time very well spent.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

French Liberals Contra Marx

Early last summer, I encouraged libertarians to study class conflict theory, a powerful tool for political outreach seldom discussed in This Movement of Ours. I also began summarizing Sam Konkin’s unfinished Agorism Contra Marxism (and yes, I know I haven’t posted a new installment in a month or so).

Well, a couple weeks back, B.K. Marcus pointed readers of his blog to a 1998 paper by Christian Michel titled “The Class Struggle Is Not Over: Why Libertarians Should Read Marx and Engels.” Philosophically, the piece is sound. I think everyone should read it. What bothers me is that Michel credits Marx with the creation of class conflict theory and goes on to say that “Marxism is a tool which libertarians can find extremely useful in making people understand the domination they are subjected to in our social-democratic societies.”

Michel, like most of today’s academics, ignores totally the liberal class theory of Comte and Dunoyer, which not only pre-dates Marx but influenced his views. Where Marx held that the class struggle was between the proletariat (workers) and capitalists (owners), the earlier French liberals got to the root of the real class war, one they saw as being between the productive class (those who gain wealth through the marketplace) and the political class (those who parasitically draw their wealth through machinations of the State). I believe libertarians would be much better served by going directly to Comte and Dunoyer rather than Marx to begin their study of class conflict theory.

Regardless, Michel’s final bit of advice is unassailable:

“Our libertarian mission, I believe, is to make the creators of wealth and beauty, the entrepreneurs and the productive workers, aware of their exploitation as a class. Our calling, as the libertarian vanguard of the oppressed, is to denounce the oppressors and to deconstruct their ideology.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Rethinking Thanksgiving Day

From New York City’s The Plaindealer, Dec. 3, 1836, an editorial by William Leggett (1801-1839):

“Thursday, the fifteenth of the present month, has been designated by Governor Marcy, in his annual proclamation, as a day of general thanksgiving throughout this state. ... [I]t may seem presumptuous to suggest an objection; yet there is one which we confess seems to us of weight, and we trust we shall not be thought governed by an irreligious spirit, if we take the liberty to urge it. ...

“It is to the source of the proclamation, not to its purpose, that we chiefly object. The recommending a day of thanksgiving is not properly any part of the duty of a political Chief Magistrate: it belongs, in its nature, to the heads of the church, not to the head of the state.”

[Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy, by William Leggett; Liberty Press, Indianapolis]

Note: Thanks, Ralph Raico, for drawing this editorial to my attention in lecture after lecture.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Book Review: SLAN

Many years ago, when I attended science fiction conventions as regularly as I do anarcho-conferences today, I’d often see fans sporting buttons that read “Fans are slans.” We all knew what that meant: sci-fi fans were, well, mutants — and damn proud of it, too. “Slan” referred to A.E. Van Vogt’s 1946 novel Slan, which was, even 30 years later, required reading for serious fans. Just as you were expected to have read Asimov’s Foundation novels, or Dune, or umpteen Heinlein tomes, it was taken for granted that everyone had read Slan. Times have changed. Slan has become one of the “lost classics,” a novel that only those interested in science fiction’s Golden Age ever read.

Confession: I never read Slan until this past week, when I dug it out of a stack of books that I’ve been meaning to read for the past 20 years. And now I finally “get it.” Now I know why I probably should have read Van Vogt’s book back in high school. Sure, the novel’s old, and its characters drive around in traditional cars and talk to each other on rotary phones. But Slan holds up. And its political message still rings loud and clear. New readers will see parallels with the X-Men, which came two decades later.

Slan is, in a way, a “coming of age” novel, much like the old juveniles of the 1940s. Its focus is young Jommy Cross, one of a genetically bred race of super-intelligent, mind-reading humans (or “slans”) now hated and outlawed by the “normal” humans. The novel follows Jommy’s life from age nine to about 23, and his story is a tale of survival, tragedy, hope, and of one young man’s dream to unite the norms and slans in peaceful coexistence. It’s entertaining as hell, and it leaves a philosophic aftertaste that lingers pleasantly.

Maybe 30 years too late (but better late than never, I suppose), I recommend Slan enthusiastically.

The Return of Number 6?

Quite a few of us have waited years for new movement on the rumored Prisoner movie project. There was talk that Patrick McGoohan, creator-writer- director of the original 1967 British TV series, was working on a script. There was word at one point that Mel Gibson might have something to do with the project.

Well, it seems The Prisoner may not be headed for the big screen after all. But it will return to British television next year in the form of an eight-part show from Granada. Damien Timmer has been tapped to executive produce, and he admits the new show “takes liberties with the original.” These liberties include the series not being placed in the original setting and not having the “pop” feel of the first show.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. But I do know that whatever happens with this new program, the McGoohan original will always rule.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Reflections on a terrific weekend

It’s always nice to spend time with like-minded libertarians. And Burt Blumert’s “Gold, Freedom, and Peace” benefit conference for in San Mateo this past weekend was super. It was wonderful, of course, to see Lew again, exchange words with Justin Raimondo, finally meet and have a nice chat with Anthony Gregory, and spend some quality time with dear friends Jane and Butler Shaffer. It was a pleasure also to meet lots of new friends, particularly Dan Spielberg, who seems to be devouring writings by Rothbard, Garrett, and other Old Rightists faster than he can download them. But the conference itself — attended by, oh, some 120 or so folks — was one of the best I’ve attended. The antiwar sentiment was passionate. Jacob Hornberger (Future of Freedom Foundation) gave a rousing talk against the war. Anthony Gregory (Independent Institute) spoke forcefully against the oxymoronic pro-war libertarians. And Justin Raimondo ( unraveled the mystery of exactly who makes up today’s War Party (FYI, they’re Trotskyite neocons). A big highlight was Congressman Ron Paul, who attended the entire conference. Yeah, I know I’d never vote for him, even if I lived in Texas, but his insider revelations about doings in Mordor — er, Washington — were (dare I say it?) fascinating and entertaining.

Cindy Sheehan, who was scheduled to attend, sent her regrets. Indeed, she was otherwise detained. Friday night, I saw CNN footage of her entering a courthouse.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Now, if the film's as great as its posters...

The movie version of Alan Moore's anarchistic graphic novel V for Vendetta finally hits theaters nationwide on March 17, after a four-month delay. I'm still anticipating that I won't be disappointed by the film. But even if I am, who cares as long as the posters for the movie look like this?! Beautiful! It's always nice to see the word "freedom" used on movie posters and book jackets, since it happens so seldom... And are these posters examples of German Expressionism or what?

Bye bye, Claire!

Good comrade Claire Wolfe spoke the unspeakable on her blog this morning:

"MY YULE GIFT TO MYSELF this year is going to be Silence. Sometime around December 21, I'm getting rid of both my Internet connection and my land-line telephone.

"This feels risky, scary -- and absolutely delicious.

"I'm considering it a one-year experiment ... and I hope I have the guts to take it beyond one unconnected year."
So, for at least 12 months, no direct communication with Claire. No e-mails. No phone calls. Nada. Nuttin'. Zilch.

Claire says she'll post to her blog occasionally (from her local Hardyville library). Other than that, uh-uh.

Gonna miss you, Claire.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Playing catch-up

In trying to catch up after my dizzying adventure with “labyrinthitis” this past week (I’m feeling better, if still just a tad woozy, thank you), I’ve finally caught up with two online articles of note from the last few days.

First, Jeffrey Tucker took a terrific shot last Wednesday at Bush’s $7.1 billion central plan to deal with our masters’ latest impending disaster — the so-called bird flu. “It seems,” wrote Tucker, “that some birds are catching a flu called Avian Influenza or, more commonly, the bird flu. It causes ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production. It can kill a chicken in two days flat. Scary.” Concludes Tucker:

“What’s remarkable is how little comment [Bush’s] bird flu plan provoked. We seem to have reached the stage in American public opinion where hysterical frenzies by government and totalitarian plans to take away all liberties are treated as just another day. We see the president telling us to fork over billions, and we turn the channel. Was it this way in the old Soviet Union or Germany when the state newscasts went on every night about the march of socialism? Has crisis management become the great white noise of American life?”

Great question. The answer, not the goddamn bird flu, is what’s really scary.

Then John R. Lott, Jr. and Fern E. Richardson reported on the recent failed initiative in Brazil to ban guns. It seems the murder rate in Brazil is, as last reported in 2002, 28.3 per 100,000 people, just a little less than three times the record U.S. murder rate at the height of Prohibition in 1933. The solution to Brazil’s problem, says the Brazilian government and media, is to ban all guns. An initiative was proposed recently, then defeated a week or so ago by almost two thirds of Brazil’s voters. Wrote Lott and Richardson:

“Brazilians have a right to be skeptical that yet more gun control is the solution. Strict licensing laws that have been in effect in Brazil since 1940 have not solved the problem. Since 1941 it has been illegal to bring a weapon outside one’s house without authorization. Eighteen gun-control laws and regulations were imposed during the period from 1992 to 2003. Many rules were extremely restrictive: For example, a 1997 law required anyone applying for a firearm license to have a psychological test and knowledge of operation of firearms, and a 1999 law limited each person to two handguns. Despite new restrictions on gun ownership being continually imposed, murder rates rose every year from 1992 to 2002, a total 41 percent increase.”

The writers conclude:

“Everyone wants to take guns away from criminals. The problem is that the law-abiding citizens, those who have followed the licensing and registration rules, are disarmed, not the criminals.”

And gun-confiscation efforts meantime continue enthusiastically here in the U.S.

Monday, November 14, 2005


I’m now making available a third classic pamphlet by the late Samuel Edward Konkin III as a print-on-demand PDF file: Counter-Economics. As Sam explained in this pamphlet for the Movement of the Libertarian Left, first issued in the late 1980s, “as more people consciously convert their work and leisure to the Counter-Economy (i.e., a peaceful black market or underground economy), the State loses both control and sustenance, like a vampire losing blood and victims. ... Understanding what you are doing and refining that knowledge, and increasing your data and expanding it to ever greater areas of your life, gives you — not the State — ultimate control over your own life. That is the definition of freedom.”

Counter-Economics is a handy PDF, which you can easily open with Adobe Reader. Print double-sided as many copies as you like, fold them into tri-fold brochures, and distribute them freely. It’s terrific for political outreach. The pamphlet is black and white to keep your printing and photocopying costs low, but it looks great when printed on a colored paper stock. On the back panel, there’s space for your rubberstamp or a sticky label so those interested in further info can find you.

Still available are PDF files of the two prior pamphlets: War or Liberty: The Real Choice and Introducing the Movement of the Libertarian Left.

You can get the PDF of Counter-Economics (and the other two pamphlets) free by request by emailing me at By the way, once downloaded, feel free to pass these files on to others or make them available on your own website.

Agora! Anarchy! Action!

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Sunday, November 13, 2005


Richard K. Morgan dedicates his sci-fi thriller Market Forces to “all those, globally, whose lives have been wrecked or snuffed out by the Great Neoliberal Dream and Slash-and-Burn Globalization.” An appendix to the novel lists book titles by well-known "anti-capitalists" Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore. So all libertarians of a Randian “big business is a victim” bent, including most Libertarian Partyarchs, should probably steer clear of Morgan's novel. But all Libertarian Leftists — whether agorist, georgist, mutualist, or other — should thoroughly enjoy this brutal and extraordinarily well-written page-turner.

I read Market Forces on the recommendation of Bob Wallace, who warned that Morgan uses the term “free market” interchangeably with what’s really corporate-state capitalism — i.e., “mercantilism and managed trade for the benefit of worldwide, globalized corporations against the average citizen. Where it will lead in real life is a minority of super-rich, almost no middle-class, and a large mass of the poor, hopeless and violent.”

Let me quote briefly from the book’s back cover:

“A coup in Cambodia. Guns in Guatemala. For the men and women of Shorn Associates, opportunity is calling. In the superheated global village of the near future, big money is made by finding the right little war and backing one side against the other — in exchange for a share of the spoils. To succeed, Shorn uses a new breed of corporate gladiator: sharp-suited, hard-driving gunslingers who operate armored vehicles and follow a Samurai code. And Chris Faulkner is just the man Shorn needs.

“He fought his way out of London’s zone of poverty. And his kills are making him famous. But Faulkner has a side that outsiders cannot see: the side his wife is trying to salvage, that another woman — a porn star turned TV news reporter — is trying to exploit. Steeped in blood, eyed by common criminals looking for a shot at fame, Faulkner is living on borrowed time. Until he’s given one last shot at getting out alive...”

Market Forces is a terrific high-velocity science fiction novel. Its characters are never predictable. You’d imagine the author wants us to detest the story’s corporate suits, but they are usually both charismatic and sympathetic. Morgan’s more “politically correct” anti-globalists and socialists are all big talkers but quislings at heart. The book is full of surprises, a unique mix of Road Warrior and Wall Street. I recommend it highly.

On the Agorist Ratings scale*, I give Market Forces a solid 4.


* Agorist Ratings: -1 = statist; 0 = non-libertarian; 1 = mixed at best; 2 = mostly partyarch (political) but redeeming features; 3 = mostly libertarian; 4 = counter-economic and/or hardcore libertarian; 5 = pure agorist.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Road Not Traveled

...or why I'm not at the Freedom Summit in Phoenix this weekend after all.

My intentions, as I reported earlier this week, were to drive the 600 miles (8-9 hours) to Arizona for the conference. Well, I was waylaid early Thursday morning (1:00 a.m.) by a brief trip to the ER with severe dizziness. Seems I have a viral inflamation or irritation in my inner ear, causing "labyrinthitis," plus a variety of sinus ills. Not enough, since I've taken a few motion sickness pills, to keep me down entirely, but certainly enough to keep me off Interstate 10 for the time being.

I regret missing this conference, and especially not meeting a few friends old and new along the way. Next year, I hope.

In the meantime, I still plan to be in San Mateo next Friday and Saturday for the benefit conference. Maybe I'll see a few of you there.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

She's not Beatrix Kiddo anymore, but...

I was just complaining last weekend, after seeing her in the mediocre Prime (now in theaters), that I much prefer watching Uma Thurman kick butt than watching her moon over doomed love affairs with younger men. Would I ever see her in anything remotely like the great Kill Bill saga again?

Well, here's a shot of Uma from her movie Super Ex-Girlfriend, directed by Ivan Reitman and slated for release next July. The action-comedy also stars Luke Wilson, who plays a guy who discovers that his girlfriend (Uma, of course) is a superhero. When he breaks up with her for being too neurotic and controlling, she uses her super powers to torment and embarrass him.

OK, OK. I asked to see more of Uma kicking butt, but this has disaster written all over it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

On the Freedom Trail

I’ll be “on the road” quite a bit during the next two weeks.

This coming Friday, I’ll point the Accord southeast toward Phoenix and drive almost 600 miles to the 2005 Freedom Summit, which plays out Saturday and Sunday. Speakers include James Bovard, George H. Smith, comrade blogger Sunni Maravillosa, and my cousin Jane Conger Shaffer (wife of Butler).

Then it’s back home for three days until the following Friday (November 18), when I’ll turn northward and drive 232 miles to Burt Blumert’s two-day benefit seminar for (Gold, Freedom, and Peace) in San Mateo. Speakers will include Lew Rockwell (natch), Justin Raimondo, Anthony Gregory, my old pal Butler Shaffer (Jane’s husband), and Cindy Sheehan (yes, that Cindy Sheehan).

I’m expecting some enlightenment and good fellowship on both weekends. And if any readers of this blog plan to attend either event, I hope you’ll let me know. We should certainly make an effort to connect.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"Do you remember...?"

“Do you remember...the Fifth of November?” — John Lennon, “Remember”

Four hundred years ago today, Guy Fawkes and collaborators attempted unsuccessfully to blow up the English Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder.

On January 31, 1606, Fawkes and others implicated in the plot were taken to Old Palace Yard in Westminster, where all but Fawkes were hanged, drawn, and quartered. Fawkes jumped from a ladder while climbing to the hanging platform, breaking his neck and dying instantly.

Guy Fawkes appeared on the 2002 “List of 100 Great Britons,” sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public. He was listed alongside Winston Churchill, Aleister Crowley, and Johnny Rotten.

Have a happy Guy Fawkes Day, everyone!

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The gentler side of 007

Daniel Craig will play a "tougher, grittier" James Bond in the upcoming Casino Royale (based on Ian Fleming's first novel), but it seems he's a pussy cat in real life. Craig says he absolutely hates guns.

"I hate handguns," the 37-year-old actor told the British press. "Handguns are used to shoot people and as long as they are around, people will shoot each other. That's a simple fact. I've seen a bullet wound and it was a mess. It was on a shoot and it scared me. Bullets have a nasty habit of finding their target and that's what's scary about them."

I'm missing Pierce Brosnan dreadfully right now.

A mindset for freedom

James Leroy Wilson has lately become introspective. His blog is more reflective, and his most recent piece for The Partial Observer website, titled “Freedom is in the Mind,” is a thoughtful examination of the mindset necessary for living a truly free life. He writes:

“[I]t does no good to think, ‘If we got rid of the State, then I’ll be happy.’ Or even, ‘If they just cut government to 10% and limited the federal government to its Constitutional functions, then I’ll be happy.’ The external reality — the decisions of other people — can’t ever make a person genuinely happy. One who ties their enjoyment of life to the political situation will never really be free, because true freedom is in the mind.”

The pseudonymous Skye d’Aureous and Natalee Hall made a similar point back in the early ’70s. “You can be thoroughly familiar with the theory of laissez faire,” they wrote in Libertarian Connection, “and still be victimized by statist premises on the unconscious level.” After all, they pointed out, “we were born among sheep, raised by sheep, educated as, by, and for sheep,” even though we now know enough of laissez faire to interpret incoming data within a rational framework.

“A more fully freedom-oriented mental set (unconscious as well as conscious),” they explained, “will prepare you for more effective practical freedom-increasing action.”

d’Aureous and Hall offered a list of 17 statements to integrate into your unconscious mind. “Liberate more of your mental faculties from unconsciously accepted servitude,” they wrote, “by seeing how many interesting consequences you can develop from each of the following statements. These are heuristic tools; they are useful guiding principles for self-liberation — they are not a blueprint. Play around with them enough so that you gain an unconscious familiarity and facility for using them. You won’t accomplish much by just reading through a list. Merely reading a list of the rules of logic, for example, is not enough to cause you to think logically as a matter of course. Using guides to thought in actual thinking through of problems is the way to learn them.”

Here are the statements:

  1. The general population does not know what freedom is.
  2. The activities of the general population are not good indications of when and how you can be free and at what cost.
  3. An overall decrease in freedom for the general population does not necessarily mean a decrease in freedom for you unless your actions are essentially the same as those of the general population.
  4. A rational person is only interested in freedom he can obtain in his own time.
  5. A rational person does not count upon gaining freedom at some vague time in the future by means of sweeping social changes or other means which are beyond his control.
  6. Freedom is not a monolithic indivisible entity. It is not a word. You are free when you can do what you want without coercive interference.
  7. Freedom is not free. It would be nice if it were, but there are people willing to coerce. Making some freedom for yourself requires purposeful action. You must know what you want to be free to do, and you must organize your resources toward the end of creating that freedom for yourself.
  8. Your desire for freedom does not imply an effective ability to choose between 100% or 0% freedom. Your effective range of choice — i.e., what you can get — depends on your desired actions, your resources, and how you use them.
  9. You will not suddenly become 100% free! You will have to do it yourself, one carefully planned step at a time.
  10. Your present condition of freedom is probably far from optimum for your most desired range of actions and for your present resources. Your approach to this optimum must be discovered by careful planning and investigation. You do not have automatic knowledge of this subject, and living your life like the general populace will get you what they get.
  11. The State and its agencies will never proclaim themselves abolished, offed, impotent or irrelevant.
  12. There are not pigs everywhere and they are at very few places all the time.
  13. What the State claims to control is not the same as what it does control. You will have to investigate and decide for yourself. This is a corollary of 11 and 12.
  14. The State will not become impotent in all geographical areas at the same time.
  15. The State will not become impotent in all areas of human action at the same time. You will see the effects of growing freedom in particular specific activities before you see them in larger areas of action.
  16. You will see the effects of progressive freedom among small numbers of people and in small groups before you will see it in large groups.
  17. People who have gained relative freedom from State coercion for a particular range of actions will usually not loudly advertise to the minions of the State. You either have to think it up and do it yourself or with your group, or you have to become skilled at reading between the lines and knowledgeable about less widely read material — but you still have to do it yourself. If you are successfully doing it, chances are that you will meet others who are successfully doing it, and you can then do it better together. What is the “it”? That is up to you. If you have not yet identified your priorities for freedom, don’t expect to stumble over many groups and individuals taking advantage of (illegal) freedoms they have discovered.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Can't stop the signal...or the DVD

The Serenity DVD is now available for pre-order from Release date is December 20, and the disc is packed with extras, including feature-length commentary by creator-director Joss Whedon, documentaries, deleted scenes, and I'm sure a few Easter eggs. This one, fellow Browncoats, is a Christmas gift must.

How I voted in the Hardyville Festival

Claire Wolfe announced the 2005 Hardyville Freedom Film Festival winners in her very funny column this morning. Check out the results here. I joined Claire and Oliver Del Signore on this year’s panel of judges, and I thought readers of this blog might be interested in how I voted. My choices were determined by (1) quality of the movie; (2) best depiction of a freedom or anti-power message. Here are the categories and nominees, my choice in each category highlighted.


Billy Elliot
Jerry Maguire
Tucker: The Man and His Dream

For me, this choice was a no-brainer. Oliver Stone’s JFK stands as the most compelling movie ever made about political power run amok, followed closely by Stone’s Nixon, which wasn’t nominated.


Office Space
Saving Grace
Team America
The Castle
Wag the Dog

In any other year, I might have given the nod to the brilliant Wag the Dog. But c’mon! Team America is hands-down the funniest annihilation of power and politics ever filmed. And it’s done with puppets, fer crissakes!


A Clockwork Orange
Minority Report
Star Wars: Episode IV

I love Equilibrium. A Clockwork Orange remains a sentimental favorite of mine. And the original Star Wars movie...ya gotta adore it! But Serenity crushed the competition when I saw it on opening day this year. You can’t stop the signal, gang.


Conspiracy Theory
Red Dawn
The Outlaw Josey Wales
The Patriot
Three Kings

The Outlaw Josey Wales is just, well, the best of a good lot.


A Bug’s Life
A Little Princess
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Incredibles
The Iron Giant

Gotta love superheroes, especially Randian ones.


Duck Soup
The Manchurian Candidate
The Mark of Zorro
The Mouse that Roared

I love every film nominated in this category. Tough choice. But the Marx Brothers won my vote.


Burnt by the Sun
Life is Beautiful
To Live

Another difficult choice. The utter joy of Life is Beautiful, though, could not be dismissed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

It still pays to "follow the money"

J. Neil Schulman has taken me to task for posting and further promoting the late Murray Rothbard’s Rockefeller-Bush conspiracy scenario last week. In fact, he not only posted a comment on this blog, he added a few more words on the LibertarianLeft e-list:

“The power of the President of the United States is held by the President of the United States. That power may vary in strength. Some presidents have more support than others, from lobbies, from constituencies, from media, from other politicians, from funding sources. But by the time you make it to the Oval Office, you have your own power base, and the idea that some banker can treat you like a puppet and make you dance is an absurd notion that libertarians need to stop embarrassing themselves with.”

And so, in very few words, Schulman embraces the “official history” he was fed in grade school and dismisses as “embarrassing” not just Rothbard’s 40-plus years of scholarly research and writing (including his seminal America’s Great Depression and A History of Money and Banking in the United States) but the work of such great opponents of court historiography as Charles A. Beard, Gabriel Kolko, G. William Domhoff, C. Wright Mills, and (Neil’s former mentor) Samuel Edward Konkin III.

The extract from Murray that I shared last week was not hard fact, just a probable (though exaggerated) scenario Rothbard based on his own research. That Neil so thoroughly rejects the “absurd notion” behind such a scenario may say more about him than about those of us who “need to stop embarrassing [ourselves].” As Justin Raimondo wrote a few years ago, in an afterword to Rothbard’s Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy:

“There is a certain mentality that, no matter how convincing the evidence, would never even consider the argument put forward in Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy. This attitude stems from a particular kind of cowardice. It is a fear, first of all, of not being listened to, a dread of consigning oneself to the role of Cassandra, the ancient Greek prophetess who was granted the power of foresight by the gods, with but a single limitation: that none would ever heed her warnings. It is far easier, and so much more lucrative, to play the role of court historian.”

No matter what Schulman believes, there is still value in “following the money” when studying not just historical patterns but even the events reported in today’s Los Angeles Times.

“There is something behind the throne greater than the king himself.” — William Pitt (1770)

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