Thursday, December 29, 2005

Getting "reoriented" for the new year

I find that there’s no better time to “get my head re-straightened” than as we approach the beginning of a new year. So I’ve just re-read (for the zillionth time) Murray N. Rothbard’s seminal essay for Left Libertarians, first published 40 years ago, “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty.” Rothbard’s piece offers an exquisite historical summary of the long struggle of liberty against power. It presents a genuine and proper reorientation of just where we lovers of freedom belong on the ideological spectrum. And it brims with an optimism that is hard to find in most of today’s libertarian movement:

“[T]he Old Order was able to persist in its slave system for centuries precisely because it awoke no expectations and no hopes in the minds of the submerged masses; their lot was to live and eke out their brutish subsistence in slavery while obeying unquestioningly the commands of their divinely appointed rulers. But the liberal revolution [of the 18th century] implanted indelibly in the minds of the masses — not only in the West but in the still feudally-dominated undeveloped world — the burning desire for liberty, for land to the peasantry, for peace between the nations, and, perhaps above all, for the mobility and rising standards of living that can only be brought to them by an industrial civilization. The masses will never again accept the mindless serfdom of the Old Order; and given these demands that have been awakened by liberalism and the Industrial Revolution, long-run victory for liberty is inevitable. ...

“For the Libertarian, the main task of the present epoch is to cast off his needless and debilitating pessimism, to set his sights on long-run victory and to set out on the road to its attainment. To do this, he must, perhaps first of all, drastically realign his mistaken view of the ideological spectrum; he must discover who his friends and natural allies are, and above all perhaps, who his enemies are. Armed with this knowledge, let him proceed in the spirit of radical long-run optimism...”

Now, on to my re-reading of Murray’s “Anatomy of the State”!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

You better watch out!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

"We're the new Reds"

Brad Spangler’s post "Teaching the Three R's: Reds, Republicans and Randroids" offers a thorough lesson in libertarian history and a powerful message about the futility of political reformism. Political reform is right-wing, he says. The “more revolutionary approach” (counter-economics, demystifying the State) is left-wing. Here’s a taste:

“[It] could be said that the state socialism inspired by Marx hijacked [the] historically libertarian “left” and that these several years after the near global meltdown of state communism, a mere blink of the eye in the grand sweep of history, is potentially just a transition period in which a drifting ‘left-wing’ that itself ranges from moderate to radical has been in search of a new radical creed to orient itself on. I and others like me seek to provide that radical creed by further refining and evangelizing the thought of men like Rothbard and Konkin.

“In short: We’re the Libertarian Left, and we’re the new Reds.”

Brad has quickly become one of the most prominent and thoughtful champions of the Movement of the Libertarian Left. This is one of the best pieces I’ve read in weeks.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why I love ceegars

There are all sorts of reasons why I love cigars. Here are just three of them...

Reason 1

Reason 2

Reason 3

Monday, December 19, 2005

Movie Review: KING KONG

Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong is near-perfect. Sure, it’s probably too long; a lot should have been saved for the inevitable three-disc "extended director's cut" DVD. But it is thrilling, jaw-droppingly clever, and quite wonderful. And it’s a loving tribute to the 1933 original.

All of which makes it difficult to understand why Jackson betrayed the memory of the great Merian C. Cooper with Jack Black’s cynical portrayal of Carl Denham. Explorer-filmmaker Cooper (pictured here) wrote the story for, produced, and directed the first Kong, and he was the model for its Denham — a proud, damn-the-torpedoes adventurer who, yes, captured Kong and brought him to America but still respected the monster. Denham was, as much as the Jack Driscoll character, a hero in the original movie. He was a risk-taker, but he was responsible. He was admirable. He was, well, Merian C. Cooper. As a kid, I didn’t want to be Jack Driscoll. I wanted to be Carl Denham.

Black’s Denham is really the remake’s villain. He’s introduced as a somewhat lovable, sympathetic, down-and-out moviemaker; a visit to Skull Island is his last shot at success. But as the story progresses, he becomes an increasingly vile exploiter, not just of Kong but of his colleagues and employees. He’s a taker. Denham thinks “doing the right thing” is what others do to make him a wealthy man. The 1933 Denham (actor Robert Armstrong) had a lot of Barnum in him, but he cared about his people, and he even cared about Kong. It was fitting that as Denham looked upon the fallen gorilla, he spoke the movie’s famous closing line: “It was beauty killed the beast.” When Jack Black’s Denham utters those words in the new Kong, you feel like shouting, “No, you sanctimonious was you who killed the beast!”

Ah, well... Peter Jackson can be forgiven a lot. His new King Kong is top-notch.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rainy morning thoughts

Jack Anderson — I’m not sure why his death yesterday saddens me as much as it does. I was never a big fan. But when I was earning a journalism degree in the early ’70s, Anderson was one investigative columnist we paid a lot of attention to. Especially during the Watergate mess. Hell, he was on Nixon’s “enemies list.” You gotta respect Anderson for that.

Anonymous white envelopes — When I sort the mail, there are three piles. “A” mail is personal stuff, magazines, bills, etc. “B” mail is so-called “junk mail” that I might be interested in perusing in a day or two. “C” mail is everything else, including mail with no identified sender and obscure PO Box addresses. Here’s what’s really pissing me off. To make us “safer” from identify theft and fraud, many credit card companies are now issuing renewed cards to their customers in plain white envelopes with no identified sender and from obscure PO Box addresses. This, friends, looks just like freakin’ “C” mail — i.e., crap mail. This is the stuff that has always gone into my garbage unopened. But now I have to rip open every piece of anonymous dreck that shows up, just in case... Otherwise, my credit cards go in the garbage and might be found by, who knows? American Express, is this really making me “safer”? For all the money you make, why not FedEx or UPS our cards to us?

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol — Nothing gets me into the Christmas spirit faster than this hour-long TV program from 1962. It was the first-ever animated holiday special made for TV. I’ve watched it every December since I was eight, first on TV, now on DVD. The animation is primitive, but the original songs by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill (all of which I memorized long, long ago) are charming and catchy. And who can resist Jim Backus’s Mr. Magoo as Ebenezer Scrooge? I can’t. Being the first adaptation of the Dickens story I ever saw, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol remains my favorite; only the 1951 movie starring Alastair Sim comes close.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Songs for an Anarchist Christmas, part 3

A final seasonal ditty by the late Samuel Edward Konkin III...

Anarcho Claus is Coming to Town
(Tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”)

Initiate force?
You better not try.
You better not steal;
I’m telling you why.
Anarcho Claus is coming to town.

He’s taking a risk,
Flying in low,
Smuggling in toys
So the statists won’t know.
Anarcho Claus is coming to town.

He sees when you are trying
To trade what’s good for you
For all that which you really want
So he’ll run it in for you.

So...Be closing your door,
But not very tight,
The market will clear
Late Christmas night.
Anarcho Claus is coming to town.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Help a freedom fighter

An eBay auction has been launched to help pay for herbal medicines needed by libertarian activist Walter Bark, who’s dying of cancer. What’s at auction is a pristine, never-before-read, leatherbound copy of Vin Suprynowicz’s extraordinary freedom novel The Black Arrow, signed to our friend Claire Wolfe and donated by Claire for this auction. Claire says that if the winning bidder likes, she’ll add her signature to the book.

The auction ends next Monday, December 19, just four days from now. Do the right thing and drop by the eBay listing to make a bid.

Next time some collectivist boob dares to tell me libertarians are selfish, he can kiss my you-know-what.

Both Left and Right

Fellow traveler James Leroy Wilson discusses one of my favorite topics on today — what’s Left, what’s Right? — and he does a fine job of it. Here’s his conclusion:

“The enemy of the libertarian is not the liberal, nor the conservative. Not the Green anarchist, southern nationalist, Georgist, or Constitution Party activist. The enemy is always the Statist, the advocate of coercion and consolidated power.”

But getting to that conclusion is great fun, so read “Both Left and Right” in its entirety.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Returning to a bolder sci-fi

[Cross-posted at Rebels of Mars]

I just stumbled across a nine-month-old online posting by fannish legend Richard E. Geis (original publisher of the original Science Fiction Review) that simply must be shared. Writes Dick:

“Today I suggested to a publisher of science fiction and fantasy magazines that he start a new title, BOLD SCI-FI, which would unabashedly feature bawdy, action-filled sf-fantasy and horror stories. ...

“I’m more or less advocating a ‘return’ to 1930’s pulp fiction, only with more action realism and a bit of provocative sex. Grab the readers with a hook opening and keep the line taut till the end.

“But nowadays sf and fantasy text fiction, after decades and decades of struggling for respectability and ‘literary’ quality, would rather die the slow death of declining sales than admit they are in direct competition with a six-pack of beer or a pizza in the minds of casual readers. Dedicated readers of short story science fiction and fantasy are a dying breed. Let’s get at least some science fiction back in the gutter where it belongs.”

I’m in. Who’ll join me?

A shameful admission

At Monday’s meeting of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, George W. Bush admitted shamelessly that had he known in March 2003 what he knows today — i.e., that Saddam Hussein had neither WMDs nor plans to build them, and in fact had an army only one-third as strong as it was prior to Desert Storm in 1991 — he’d have invaded Iraq anyway. “I’d make the decision again,” Bush said. “Removing Saddam Hussein makes this world a better place and America a safer country.”

I didn’t see the lapdog press make any fuss about Bush’s outrageous admission. But then, Monday was such a busy friggin' news day.

Monday, December 12, 2005

"A symbol for a revolution"

Some early reviews are in for V for Vendetta, the movie adaptation of Alan Moore’s anarchist graphic novel. I’ve tried to keep my expectations in check so far, but these reviews for the film, which opens nationwide on March 17, aren’t just good...they’re great. Both were posted to Ain’t It Cool News following a recent screening. The first is from “Doc Falken”:

“This will be the most talked about film in 2006. Or, it will disappear in three weeks after release and be dismissed as a cult film for academics to dissect in the future. I believe that the media’s response to the messages in the film will decide its fate. Even how Warner Brothers decides to market the film will determine the legacy. If they follow a superhero/comic book marketing model and you see V on a lunch box, then I believe that the film’s impact will be hampered. But if they let the theater goers decide, then this film might prove to be an artistic endeavor that becomes a symbol for a revolution. Either way, every college campus needs to screen this film for our future leaders of the world. Fox News better get their responses ready, because this film is going to be a favorite topic of theirs for a long time.”

And “Nordling” writes:

“I can’t wait to see how this shatters American audiences. Alan Moore’s graphic novel is adapted perfectly for the big screen and Natalie Portman knocks it out of the park with a performance of bravery and passion. Hugo Weaving was terrific as V. A damn near flawless movie that will rip audiences asunder.”

Count me in.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

"Governments can be ruthless"

At the risk of being labeled a “conspiracy nut,” I urge you dash over to Information Clearing House. You’ll find a recent 20-minute Dutch TV documentary that powerfully raises questions and offers theories about 9/11. Was 9/11 allowed to happen in order to provide the trigger needed to launch a more aggressive U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East? Two former European government ministers from the UK and Germany think so. As one of them says, “Governments can be ruthless. ... The truth is that conspiracies do sometimes occur.”

Movie Review: SYRIANA

Jason Apuzzo, over at the Libertas blog, has been reporting for weeks that writer-director Stephen Gaghan’s movie Syriana, which opened widely this weekend, is a “left-leaning screed” that singles out the Bush administration for criticism. It’s not. Syriana, starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Christopher Plummer, and a whole bunch of other recognizable faces (including Alexander Siddig, the dude who played Dr. Julian Bashir on Deep Space Nine), is a terrific, dramatic analysis and critique of some 80 years of failed U.S. policy in the Middle East. It doesn’t single out any president in particular, even though it takes place in the post-9/11 world. It places blame where it belongs — on excessive political and economic power.

Syriana isn’t an easy movie to watch, and it doesn’t have a plot thread that’s easy to follow. Rather, like Gaghan’s Traffic of a few years ago, the film unwinds many different threads. But it’s well worth your effort.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Songs for an Anarchist Christmas, part 2

Written by the late Samuel Edward Konkin III...

Joy to the World
(Tune of “Joy to the World”)

Joy to the world,
The State is dead,
Let earth receive no king.
Let every heart, be unrestrained.
At last we’ve broken free!
At last we’ve broken free!
At last, at last, we’ve broken free!

Joy to the earth,
No monarch reigns,
No politician’s left.
We come to burn...the ballot box,
Far as the vote is found,
Far as the vote is found,
Far as, far as, the vote is found.

No rule on earth!
Now truth and grace
Are everyone’s birthright.
The market is free, and anarchy
Is found throughout the land,
Is found throughout the land,
Is found, is found, throughout the land.

No more let tax
Or tariffs vex
The workers or the boss.
Inflation is gone,
Our money is sound,
And freedom is our right,
And freedom is our right,
And freedom, freedom, is our right!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Still missin' ya, John

War is over, if you want it,
War is over, now
Happy Christmas

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rethinking Pearl Harbor Day

There's probably no better way to mark Pearl Harbor Day this year than by taking time to study "Pearl Harbor After a Quarter of a Century" by the great revisionist historian Harry Elmer Barnes, of whom Murray N. Rothbard said, "Absolute fearlessness, absolute honesty, absolute independence have been his guiding stars." This lengthy piece appeared in a 1968 issue of Left and Right, and I recommend it very highly.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Songs for an Anarchist Christmas, part 1

Looking for some unique Christmas tunes to delight your family and even raise eyebrows during the holidays? In 1976, New Libertarian Weekly published several alternative holiday tunes. Here’s one, of a series, written by the late Samuel Edward Konkin III.

Counter-Economic Xmas
(Tune of “O, Little Town of Bethlehem”)

We earn our daily bread
No T-men will...observe our still
Or Vice Squad see our bed.

No narcs will smell our hash pipes,
And OSHA is unknown.
Our disputes rate an arbitrate
We call our lives our own.

O, say, Middle American,
So tax-ed and controlled,
While you all sleep, Big Brothers keep
Their watch o’er their paroled.

Cast off your foul oppressors,
That call themselves your State.
And Xmas cheer, throughout the year
Be yours to celebrate.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Rothbard on building alliances has made available, after more than three decades, a wonderful old interview with Murray N. Rothbard, first published in early 1972 by The New Banner. The entire interview is worth reading. But what I found especially intriguing were Rothbard’s remarks on his efforts to ally libertarians with the New Left during the 1960s. It explains much about past and current challenges in This Movement of Ours, and also shows just how it’s possible that many of today’s “libertarians” ally themselves with Bush’s war. A couple of choice quotes:

“I was one of the people who originated the idea of an alliance with the New Left ... I didn’t think of an alliance with the New Left as living in communes with the Black Panthers. I thought of it as participating with the New Left in anti-draft actions or in opposition to the war. I conceived of a political rather than an ideological alliance. While we are both against the draft, let’s have our joint rallies to attack it, or something like that. ...

“This incidentally has been a problem with libertarians for a long time. Both in the old days when they were always allied with the right-wing and now when they tend to be allied with the left. You start allying yourself with a group and pretty soon you find yourself as one of the group. In other words, the alliance slips away. Start with the idea that we are going to work with either conservatives or radicals for specific goals and somehow they start spending all their time with these people and they wind up as either conservatives or radicals. The libertarian goal drops away and the means become the ends. This is a very difficult problem because you don’t want to be sectarian and have nothing to do with anybody. Then you’re never going to succeed at all. I think that one of the answers is to have a libertarian group which is strong enough to keep reinforcing the libertarianism of our members. ...

“I don’t agree with the sectarian idea that you have to agree on everything before you can act on anything. In other words, that you have to agree on A is A, free will, modern art, or whatever. I don’t buy that, I think it’s unrealistic. On the other hand, simply saying that you will unite on anything if you agree on ‘Smash the State,’ on a couple of slogans, is very dangerous, too. It depends upon the goal of your action or activity. If you are engaging in an ad hoc sort of thing like an anti-draft rally, then I don’t see anything wrong with having speakers or common activity with all anti-draft people regardless of their original premises. If you are going to have a libertarian organization carrying on all sorts of activities, conferences, journals and things like that, you want to have much more full agreement.”

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Movie Review: AEON FLUX

You poor bastard. You just spent a couple of hours watching Aeon Flux, and the reviews have been horrible, and...and...say, you’re smiling!

Yeah. Forget most everything you’ve heard about Aeon Flux being for Oscar-winner Charlize Theron what Catwoman was for Oscar-winner Halle Berry: a bomb. Aeon Flux isn’t a bomb. It’s a fairly smart sci-fi movie that probably owes more to writers like Philip K. Dick than to Peter Chung’s original MTV cartoon series. Still, it’s visually faithful to Chung (as faithful as a live-action adaptation of a cartoon can be, anyway)...and hell, it’s 90-plus minutes of Theron wearing black Lycra (when she’s wearing clothes at all) and shooting big guns. Very cool.

Is the movie really anything like the Chung cartoon series?

Sure. As I said before, it’s visually true to the cartoons. There are moments pulled directly from the series, even Aeon trapping a fly in her eyelashes, which comes from the series’ credit sequence. Aeon is there, of course. And Trevor Goodchild. And others from the cartoons. What really separates the movie from the series is that, weird as it truly is, the movie actually offers a linear story, which Chung never did. It does make sense. There are mysteries to be solved. And Aeon solves them.

So you like it?

I like it. I don’t love it. It’s not as emotionally involving as I’d like, but then, neither was the cartoon show. Like the series, the movie’s mostly fascinating to watch. You can’t take your eyes from the screen, because you’re afraid you might miss something really bizarre and cool. And then there’s Charlize Theron and the Lycra outfits.

Would you recommend Aeon Flux?

For big fans of Charlize Theron in black Lycra, yes. For fans of movies like Equilibrium, Gattaca, Code 46, and The Man Who Fell to Earth, yes. For fans of real, honest-to-gawd science fiction ideas, yeah. People who only like sci-fi of the Star Trek variety should probably stay away.

And the general movie-going public?

The wider movie-going public should stick to Yours, Mine, and Ours.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Still too damn pretty to die?

IGN FilmForce and are reporting rumors that, despite Serenity’s disappointing box office figures this fall, there might still be life in Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe. Sources report that continuing strong sales for the Firefly DVD package have prompted Universal to begin planning a lower-budget Serenity sequel that will be produced with, and for broadcast on, the Sci Fi Channel, part of the NBC Universal family. Whedon’s people are so far denying such plans (typical).

Can it be true? Are Mal and his crew still just too damn pretty for God to let ’em die? I’d guess a lot rides on BIG sales for the Serenity DVD, due in stores on December 20, just five days before Christmas. So what’re ya Browncoats waitin’ fer? Pre-order the damn thing!

KONG: An Alternative Ending Realized

Roderick Long tells me (via a comment on my last post) that Peter Jackson has adjusted the ending of his new King Kong to more closely resemble my vision. Jackson, it seems, did so with the assistance of Long himself. Check out this wonderful (but still tragic) alternative ending to King Kong. By the way, it looks to me like the part of Ann Darrow is now being played by Uma Thurman. How perfect is that?!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


If there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that Peter Jackson’s upcoming remake of King Kong will be absolutely faithful to the original. My “dream remake” of Kong would slightly differ from the 1933 version, refashioning the story’s end to be less Old Yeller and more, well...

Wally’s New Ending to King Kong

Kong stands atop the Empire State Building with Ann Darrow in hand. The planes begin to gather. Kong roars. Ann screams. But what’s causing her screams? Kong? The menacing planes? Neither. It’s what Ann spots over Kong’s shoulder: emerging slowly, drippingly, horrifyingly from the harbor is.....GODZILLA!

Godzilla stands hundreds of feet tall in the harbor. He smashes the Statue of Liberty with one powerful swipe of his tail, then sets Lady Liberty aflame with his breath.

Kong takes quick action. Gently lowering Ann to safety, he clambers down the Empire State Building and makes his way toward Battery Park to do battle with the real threat to Manhattan.

I won’t go into further detail here — just imagine 1962’s Japanese blockbuster King Kong vs. Godzilla, but minus the pagodas. At the movie’s end, a victorious Kong, cheered on by grateful New Yorkers, begins swimming home to Skull Island with Ann Darrow clinging to his massive back, where they’ll build an exciting new life together.

The End

Who doesn’t love a happy ending? I get chills just thinking about my version of King Kong. Anyone interesting in financing the filming of this alternate ending, which I see debuting on the DVD of Jackson’s Kong next spring, please contact me ASAP. Time is money.

It's ALWAYS "for the kids"

California’s great. Really, it is. I love living here on its central coast. Coffee at the beach. Afternoons in the sunshine. Redwoods a short jaunt up the coast.

But we’ve also got Rob Reiner.

A few years ago, “child advocate” Reiner was instrumental in saddling California smokers with an extra tax or three to “help the kids.” The tax money was supposed to go to schools. Christ only knows where it really went, because the schools are crappier than ever.

Now Reiner’s collected the million signatures necessary to place his “Preschool for All Act” on next June’s state ballot. The initiative will tax-fund preschool for all four-year-old children in the state, one more step in Reiner’s efforts toward Universal Preschool.

Wendy McElroy has written a good piece today on the plans of this “well-intentioned, progressive” (i.e., statist) nitwit.

I think it was columnist Joe Sobran who once said that whenever someone uses the phrase “it’s for the children,” he can hear the jackboots of Empire in the distance.

I hear ’em. And they’re right outside the frickin’ door.

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