Thursday, March 30, 2006

Libertarian Leftism in a nutshell

Roderick T. Long delivered the Rothbard Memorial Lecture this month at the 2006 Austrian Scholars Conference, and it’s now available as a free download from the Mises Institute in both audio MP3 and video.

This is a bold and stimulating address. Roderick uses Murray Rothbard’s seminal 1965 essays “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty” and “Liberty and the New Left” as launch pads to first reintroduce the idea of libertarianism’s intrinsic leftism and then magnificently defend — at least in broad terms — the Libertarian Leftist perspective.

Roderick says reactions to his lecture “ranged from enthusiastic agreement to dismayed perplexity.” Personally, I think anyone who takes the time to download and listen to “Rothbard’s ‘Left and Right’: 40 Years Later” will experience a genuine stirring of the blood and a rekindling of the fighting libertarian spirit. Don’t miss this.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Government secrets revealed!

One of my favorite tipsheets reports:
  1. The little-known U.S. Department of Thought Suggestion has embedded high-tech messages like “Support Our Troops” and “Love Our President” into popular first-run movies and DVDs.
  2. Robot presidents are being created. They never need to sleep, can work on up to 380 projects at once, can withstand the force of a 10-megaton bomb, and can be programmed with intelligence, sensitivity, and charisma.
  3. Bigfoots are being bred as ultra-powerful Homeland Security Guards in a special breeding area at an undisclosed location in Alabama. They will be trained to detect and disarm terrorists, as well as infiltrate enemy encampments in disguise.

To read more about these items and two other Big Secrets, go right here.

MLL: we endorse direct action

Beginning this summer, chapters of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) plan a nationwide “Harass the Brass” campaign of fly-by sit-ins and lockdowns on military recruitment centers, private military companies, military research facilities, congressional offices, and pro-war corporate media outlets. Quoting the SDS announcement:

“We are standing at a crossroads. The antiwar movement is caught under the weight of liberal tactics, fighting to end a war that can only be stopped through radical action. ... It’s time for a change. If the administration won’t end the war, we must end it for them.”

Already, a handful of us from the Movement of the Libertarian Left (MLL) have added our names to an endorsement of the SDS “Harass the Brass” campaign. You can sign that endorsement here.

I’ve heard it argued recently that we libertarians who align ourselves with the Left and support direct-action tactics are playing into the hands of collectivists and closet-statists. In response, let me offer this anecdote from Samuel Edward Konkin III, which appeared in the May Day 2001 issue of Tactics of the Movement of the Libertarian Left (the last issue of that newsletter, incidentally, and the only one produced under my editorship):

“In October 1969, three Wisconsin ex-YAF Libertarian Caucus anarchists, including me, attended the first ever Libertarian Conference in New York City at the Hotel Diplomat. Refugees from SDS, such as the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition (U. Michigan), joined us ex-YAFers. Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess were the stars that drew us there. Sadly, they fell out when Hess led most of the ‘Left’ to join a March on Fort Dix, while the rest of us stayed behind to hear Rothbard, Liggio, Peden, and other early Libertarians argue philosophy, economics, and revisionist history. Hess was dressed as a Black Panther and, in an early Left-Right joint action, Mary Forham of the Phoenix Coalition and I led a folk song medley, making fun of Karl’s pretensions. So when he said, ‘If [Libertarians] aren’t on the barricades with the rest of the Left, after the Revolution, they won’t be asking us for our input,’ we had smart-ass retorts like ‘Why do you think they’ll ask for our input after they win anyway?’ and ‘Who do you think will contract to build the barricades?’

“But Hess took our worst and went out, and he came back dripping of tear gas as a badge of honor. A year later, I was hit by a pepper gas grenade at the University of Wisconsin, my black flag a target for the National Guard (this was the same weekend as Kent State) as I dodged Maoists who had decided I was a threat to their recruiting.

“Libertarians had a fear of being ‘used’ by the Left, especially those damned commies, by attending, participating, and even organizing demonstrations. Many young, new — and even older — Libertarians remain reluctant to dive in and confront the State. Arguments come easily: Why help the commies? We’ll be dupes! We don’t know what we’re doing; they are experienced, we’re not; the State may arrest, shoot us with tear gas or bullets, or even kill us!

“Well, the commies are gone; the leading ‘Newer’ New Left are acknowledged, even by the reluctant Establishment Media, to be anarchists. Since we’re even harder-core anarchists, they’ll be our dupes. Many of us do know what we’re doing and have more experience than the current demonstrators, so follow us!

“And, guess what, the State may arrest, shoot us with tear gas (or pepper gas — I’ve been shot, remember?) or bullets, or even kill our homes, where we cower. I made the mistake in 1969 of staying with Murray instead of following Karl into glory. I haven’t made that mistake again.”

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, March 27, 2006

What is Agorism?

Wrote Samuel Edward Konkin III...

Economics is the study of Human Action in the Marketplace; thus, the economy is the sum of all human interaction — or it should be. In fact, the “Economy” is what is actually studied, that which is defined and allowed by the State. Thus, that which is to be studied as “Economics” is limited by pro-Establishment “Economists” to this legal realm of permissible trade.

In the days of Adam Smith, much was still simply permitted without further controls. But the twentieth century has turned so statist that what is not outlawed by legislation is mandatory. In short, “aboveground,” all human action is monitored, regulated, controlled, tariffed and taxed.

So the rest of human action is underground or counter-economic. The Counter-Economy is the sum of all human action that is forbidden by the State, in whole or part. Counter-Economics is the study of the Counter-Economy. Those who study Counter-Economics are Counter-Economists. (Those who practice it are often also called counter-economists.)

Just as there are schools of thought and ideologies to explain and defend statism, there evolved such to oppose it. That libertarian philosophy which rejects aboveground political activity as inescapably statist and defends the Counter-Economy is agorism.

Agorists see most economic transactions moving underground and ultimately replacing the Economy. That outcome would yield a society composed of a completely open, free marketplace (or agora) in which all human action is voluntary.

(The Agorist Institute Report to Supporters, Vol. 2, No. 1, Winter 1996)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Can you say "flabbergasted"?

I am stunned, bowled over, staggered and, yes, flabbergasted. (And I haven’t even had my first scotch of the day.) I just heard that at last Monday’s dinner-meeting of the Karl Hess Club in Los Angeles, I was awarded the 2006 Samuel Edward Konkin III Memorial Chauntecleer for “meritorious service in the cause of Freedom and advancement of agorism.”

The Chauntecleer Award was created by Sam Konkin in 1995 as a one-time presentation to the late “Chauntecleer” Michael Greene for his many years of freedom-oriented work, including the longtime monthly operation of two separate L.A. libertarian supper clubs (the Albert J. Nock and H.L. Mencken Forums). After Sam died in February 2004, the three remaining Karl Hess Club founders — Kent Hastings, Mike Everling, and Brad Linaweaver — determined to resurrect and rename the award in Sam’s memory “to honor those whose work wakes up a sleeping populace and introduces them to a new day full of the promise of Freedom and prosperity through agorism.” The Chauntecleer Award will be presented annually every March only when “the three members of the award committee agree unanimously on a recipient.” I’m the first recipient, after Greene, of this honor.

Thanks so much, Mike, Kent, and Brad. I'm sorry I was unable to be with you last Monday night, and I only hope Sam, were he still with us, would approve. I promise to continue my efforts to further spread the idea of agorism while keeping green the memory of our colleague Samuel Edward Konkin III.

Coalition efforts make progress

Our latest efforts to create a libertarian-influenced Left by allying ourselves with non-libertarian leftists seems to be making some headway.

Brad Spangler's Movement of the Libertarian Left (MLL) solidarity letter to French students and workers, posted here Thursday, appears alongside English and French versions of a similar letter from the new Students for a Democratic Society in their unofficial news zine, Next Left Notes. So far, none of us who signed Brad's letter has heard a word of criticism from SDS or any of its members.

Now, if only we could manage to radicalize the so-called "libertarian movement" itself.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A letter of Left Libertarian solidarity

[Drafted by Brad Spangler]

Students and Workers of France,

Professor Roderick Long once wrote:

“When Marx called the French government ‘a joint-stock company for the exploitation of France’s national wealth’ on behalf of the bourgeois elite and at the expense of production and commerce (‘Class Struggles in France’), he was only echoing what libertarians had been saying for decades.”

France and all other nation-states remain so today. You and we live in a world where freedom and economic opportunity exist only at the sufferance of a political class that allows us only some small amount of them for sake of their own convenience and take the rest from us by force and coercion for sake of their own parasitism.

Under such circumstances, state-sponsored market liberalization is a cruel joke. The legislation you protest and rebel against seeks only to increase the latitude given your overseers, while maintaining the overall restrictions on your own liberty that, if abolished, would empower you to seek your own prosperity. We believe you and we would be very good at that, mixing both cooperation and peaceful competition, if we were not slaves.

For those reasons, the signers of this letter offer their solidarity to you and present themselves as a sample of a small tendency known as the Movement of the Libertarian Left (MLL), advocates of revolutionary market anarchism or “agorism.”

It is not the place of others to tell you how to wage your own revolution against tyranny. We have some suggestions, though — a version of dual power strategy called “counter-economics.” We humbly recommend MLL founder Samuel Edward Konkin III’s small book on agorism, counter-economics, and revolution The New Libertarian Manifesto in hopes you may find it useful or inspirational. It is available free online at:

The Movement of the Libertarian Left
Agora! Anarchy! Action!

Brad Spangler
Diane Warth
Thomas L. Knapp
Adem Kupi
Wally Conger
J. Freeman Smith
Kevin Carson
M.D. MacKenzie
Roderick T. Long
Jeremy Weiland
M.R. Jarrell
Lady Aster Francesca
Per Bylund
Bruce Hobbs
Jeff Murphy
Sheldon Richman
Matthew Claxton
Jorge Codina
William Gillis

[If you want details about the protests in France and why we offer our solidarity to those demonstrators, visit Brad’s original posting of this letter. You may add your name to the letter by indicating your desire to do so in the comments section at that post.]

"Breaking away" with PERRO

For Jefferson Airheads, the great “lost” album has been Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra (or PERRO, as it’s come to be known). This follow-up to Paul Kantner’s classic 1970 sci-fi rock & roll opus Blows Against the Empire sneaked into record stores in 1983, and then quickly dropped out of sight. There was no CD reissue, and for more than two decades, it’s been a bitch to find. On the Jefferson Airplane/Starship newsgroups and e-lists, fans occasionally reported finding an unopened, shrink-wrapped PERRO in a bin of vinyl “cut outs”; a few offered poor audiotape copies of the LP. Someone briefly sold horrible CD bootlegs via eBay in 2000. Then a couple of years ago, this time with Kantner’s endorsement, a PERRO CD was offered online, but it was just another dismal direct-from-vinyl transfer.

Well, now someone’s finally done it right, and PERRO exists as an “authorized” limited-edition CD that features a glorious mix never heard before. Under Paul Kantner’s auspices, these guys took the original master tapes — not the vinyl master, with the very top and lowest frequencies chopped — and carefully transferred them to CD format. This new, first-time-truly-on-CD Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra is available online only, not in stores, right here.

Why this album has gone 23 years without an “official” CD release from RCA/Sony/BMG remains a mystery to me. After all, they’ve remastered and reissued most of the old Airplane-Starship family of LPs, including Blows Against the Empire, over and over for some 17 years. I’ll admit, PERRO’s not as good as Blows, but it kicks the shit out of most Jefferson Starship releases from that period. The title track opens the album majestically with that wall of voices that Kantner’s known for. From there, it soars through fun instrumentals and sound effects, nice vocals from Grace Slick, the wonderful “Mountain Song” that Paul wrote with Jerry Garcia, some cute vocalizing from Paul and Grace’s daughter China (then 11 years old), and cleverly winds back to the title track before the album’s exhilarating and charming finish.

Like Blows before it, PERRO is a Paul Kantner “solo album” that showcases many songwriters and musicians, including most of Jefferson Starship’s 1983 line-up plus Airplane bassist Jack Casady, guitarist Ronnie Montrose, vocalists Flo & Eddie (aka the Turtles’ Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan), and others. But Kantner’s always in the driver’s seat. PERRO is his baby, a musical sci-fi soul mate to Blows in which Paul and his crew fight the State and escape to the stars. It’s a terrific rock and roll romp. And it’s never sounded finer.

"Is it just me...?"

Sci-fi writer Greg van Eekhout makes an interesting observation on his blog this week.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

V: the debate continues

In case you're missing it, there's some interesting debate going on in the comments thread attached to my post of Sunday, "Exhorting the right of revolution." Most recently, James Greenberg has criticized V for Vendetta on several points, and Butler Shaffer has responded with a further defense of the movie. Check it out.

Monday, March 20, 2006

On rousing the masses

Sure, we all hope that a movie like V for Vendetta will finally rouse the masses to turn on their oppressive leaders. But will that happen? Nah, says James Leroy Wilson, who adds...
"The good news, however, is that even if they are never awakened, the 'masses' don't change things anyway. Determined minorities and individuals with vision do. And even if they lose, that doesn't mean their fight is in vain. I don't speak out against the State because of the probability of success, but because I couldn't live with myself if I didn't."
Well said.

Monday morning quarterbacking

Oh what a beautiful morning! V for Vendetta was #1 at the box office this past weekend, and the Internet is filled with talk about it.

Butler Shaffer checks in today at with an expansion of his blog post about the film. Anthony Gregory adds some thoughtful comment to the pro-V chorus.

And then there's this nimrod, who just doesn't "get it."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Exhorting the right of revolution

The Wachowski boys’ movie adaptation of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta is being roundly cheered by libertarians, including my friends Brian Richardson and Butler Shaffer. Butler quite rightly says it’s not only the greatest anti-state movie ever but one of the best films (regardless of content) ever made. I’d add that until somebody has the balls to faithfully adapt Vin Suprynowicz’s The Black Arrow for the screen, V for Vendetta is the new standard by which tomorrow’s politically radical films will be measured. But I think many libertarians are missing (or avoiding) an important point when they applaud the movie as merely a powerful “political fable” or “cautionary tale.” V is an out-and-out cinematic tract about the eternal right of revolution, an issue essential to historical radical libertarian theory but largely ignored by today’s broad freedom movement.

“People should not be afraid of their governments,” exhorts V. “Governments should be afraid of their people.” Responds critic Roger Ebert in his review of V for Vendetta: “I am not sure V has it right; surely in the ideal state, governments and their people should exist happily together.” Ebert, like most “good citizens” nowadays, believes that people exist at the behest of government, not the other way around. Dare I quote the Declaration of Independence, Roger? “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed...”

In V’s Britain, “consent” has been wrung out of the governed through lies, repression, and torture. Revolution, as defined by John Locke, Algernon Sidney, and Thomas Jefferson, is absolutely justified. But how does V’s call for revolution apply to us Americans, right now?

Several years ago, in the pages of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, Lew Rockwell similarly asked: “If a manifestly abusive government can be justly overthrown, is the U.S. government an example of such a regime? Has every other avenue for changing our course been closed? Should the American people be considering extreme measures to deal with their plight? Finally, is it morally obligatory for men of good will to pursue the path of revolution right here and now?”

The answers, any right-thinking Libertarian Leftist will tell you, must be yes, yes, yes, and yes. As the late Samuel Edward Konkin III used to say, “Well, wake up and smell the tear gas!”

If a manifestly abusive government can be justly overthrown, is the U.S. government an example of such a regime? In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson listed 27 specific complaints against the British Crown. Go on. Look ’em up. The complaints still sound reasonable, and not just to 18th Century ears. By Jefferson’s standards, the present U.S. federal government is tyrannical.

Has every other avenue for changing our course been closed? What avenues are actually open to us in this so-called “democracy”? Most Americans are now rightfully cynical about pursuing change through referendums. They’ve seen every “populist” state initiative, covering issues from immigration to medicinal marijuana to Affirmative Action, shot down by the federal courts after having passed by landslide margins. There’s a tremendous disinterest in electoral politics nationwide. But maybe disinterest is the wrong term. Perhaps a better term would be lack of faith.

Should the American people be considering extreme measures to deal with their plight? Americans already are. Many are reading the Bill of Rights for the first time — and challenging the federal government’s interference in their neighborhoods and communities. The issue of eminent domain is discussed critically in newspapers, on blogs, and on talk radio, by both Right and Left. The idea of secession is now a hot button both Right and Left. The home schooling movement is also still growing, as people have begun questioning not just the quality or safety of, but the very philosophy behind, oppressive and repressive government schools.

Is it morally obligatory for men of good will to pursue the path of revolution right here and now? That’s the question being posed by V for Vendetta in theaters this weekend. And it’s a question that should be on the hearts and minds of all members of today’s freedom movement.

Let the debates begin!

Technorati Tags: ,

Friday, March 17, 2006

From the lobby of the Hotel Ozone

I don’t know if the old Vagabond Theater still exists on Wilshire Boulevard in L.A., near MacArthur Park in downtown. Back in the 1970s, they’d occasionally run sci-fi film fests, screening a few dozen movies over a month-long period, changing the double-bill every couple of days. The movie listings were always distributed on poster-sized sheets, and I’d have one tacked on a wall in my dorm room, with all the movies I was dying to see circled in black marking pen. One time, an obscure Czechoslovak film titled The End of August at the Hotel Ozone was listed on the Vagabond’s program. A few of us hardcore sci-fi and movie buffs at school had heard it was “something special,” and we were anxious to see it. But shortly before the movie was scheduled, it was pulled and replaced with something like Colossus: The Forbin Project. Drat! I kept an eye out for another screening, but the Czech film remained unseen. For 30 years. Until this week.

Last Saturday, browsing through the Netflix list of new DVD releases, up popped The End of August at the Hotel Ozone. Egad! I quickly moved it to the top of my queue. I watched it Wednesday night. Better late than never, I suppose.

Hotel Ozone was written by Pavel Jurácek and directed by Jan Schmidt in 1967. It’s a short black and white movie that features a very small cast and contains very little dialogue. The story is spare. A couple of decades after a nuclear holocaust, a small group of near-feral Eastern Bloc girls, led by an older woman, forage the devastated landscape, searching for canned food, kerosene, and animals, which they brutally kill for fun. Eventually, they discover an old man living alone in an abandoned hotel — the first man they’ve ever seen. He possesses an old gramophone with only one record, a recording of “Roll Out the Barrel.” The old guy sees the gramophone as his only link to the old, pre-nuke world. The girls see it as a god-like object. They want to take it from him. He won’t give it to them. Things do not end nicely.

The End of August at the Hotel Ozone features some haunting images, particularly those in an old church and the final moments at the hotel. And I suspect that if I’d seen this movie in the ’70s, as I’d first intended, before I’d ever seen post-apocalyptic films like Road Warrior or A Boy and His Dog or 28 Days Later, it would have floored me. Now it’s just a cinematic curiosity from the old Soviet Bloc. But I suppose for that reason, it’s worth a look.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In a theater near you...

Fight the fear

The Bushies, their lapdog “experts,” and Big Media are ramping up the avian flu scare campaign this week. As usual, old buddy B.W. Richardson puts everything into perspective:

“In my lifetime we have been told to be frightened of the inevitable nuclear war with the Russians, the collapse of the ecosystem, the inability of the Earth to feed us all, global warming, my neighbor’s cigarette, Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, a Republican Congress, a Democratic Congress, Y2K and dozens of other dangers that would end civilization as we know it. Now avian flu. (Sidebar: Someone always makes a lot of money selling solutions to the coming Ragnarok. You might want to research who owns stock in the company that makes Tamiflu.)

“There’s a grim but simple truth behind this all, which I’ve addressed before: We’re all gonna die. It’s OK to make preparations and take steps to postpone that day, but every minute you spend paralyzed by fear of dying is a minute you could have spent enjoying the time you have to live. Refuse to be afraid. Resist the siren call of the fear mongers. Live as a free man or woman, not as a slave to your fears.”

Monday, March 13, 2006

Goodbye, Maureen (aka Emma)

Maureen Stapleton, who won a "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar in 1981 for her wonderful portrayal of anarchist legend Emma Goldman in the film Reds, died today at age 80.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"They destroyed my brain, too"

“Connie, Maybe,” Paul E. Martens’ short story about alien abduction, human identity, brainwashing, and conspiracy, is laugh-out-loud hilarious on its own. But Wichita Rutherford’s podcast reading of it makes it an over-the-top classic. Here’s how it starts:

Conrad McManus claimed he was kidnapped by aliens and replaced by an exact duplicate of himself.

But, Connie, we said, that doesn’t make sense. If you were a duplicate you wouldn’t say a thing like that.

Connie shook his head. “The aliens destroyed my body while they were doing their tests and experiments and what not and they had to make a new one so no one would know about them.”

So they destroyed everything, we asked, except your brain?

“No,” he said. “They destroyed my brain, too.”

“Connie, Maybe” is a hoot. Escape Pod offered it a few weeks ago and I just caught up with it. I urge you to listen to it right here.

Bumper-sticker of the Week

You can get one here. Thanks to Brad at for the tip.

Sunday with Nick, Nora, and Asta

It’s been a very rainy weekend here in ordinarily sunny California — a perfect time to sit inside and watch some great old movies. And thanks to a wonderful post by “Moriarty” at his DVD Shelf blog, I think I’ll dig out one of the Thin Man films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. What a fun afternoon that’ll make! Before all six movies were released in a box set of DVDs last year, I spent 25 years catching ’em as I could on local broadcast TV (usually much too late at night) or on Turner Classics. Now, I can just pull one off the shelf any time I want. For pure charm and terrific repartee, there’s still no couple like Loy and Powell, and Moriarty’s nice little tribute is not to be missed, whether you love the Thin Man series or are unfamiliar with it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Podcast review: BRAVE MEN RUN

I blasted through Matthew Wayne Selznick’s podcast novel Brave Men Run in about four cigar-smoking sessions in my backyard this past week. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a podcast junkie, and Selznick’s book is one reason why. It’s an alternative history sci-fi story set in the Reagan era and written like one of the classic Heinlein “juveniles” (which were never very juvenile). Brave Men Run is filled with teenage angst, teenage lust, a government conspiracy, and some startling and suspenseful action scenes. It nods to comic book influences cleverly (two offstage characters are named Lee and Ditko; in Selznick’s world, a "Wertham Act" of the 1950s made comics illegal; and one female temptress utters “Face it, Tiger — you’ve hit the jackpot!”), although the story may lean a bit too heavily in the direction of X-Men. But it’s good fun and worth your attention. In fact, Brave Men Run is obviously the set-up for a series of novels, and I’m hooked. The novel is made up of 15 free podcast downloads, or you can purchase it in paperback or as an ebook. Check out the link above.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The mysterious Mr. Arkadin

Big news for Orson Welles buffs like me: next month, Criterion is releasing The Complete Mr. Arkadin (aka Confidential Report) on DVD.

I first saw Mr. Arkadin, an obscure French-Spanish production that Welles wrote, starred in, and directed, in a college film class almost 30 years ago. The print was horrible. The editing and/or breaks in the crusty film were jarring. Its story was non-linear and nonsensical. But those things made Mr. Arkadin all the more intriguing after I learned about the movie’s history. I was told that it was based on a script Welles wrote for The Lives of Harry Lime, his BBC radio series of the early 1950s. He filmed the movie in 1954, but the producer seized control after the inevitable fight with Welles. It was released in Europe in 1955 under the title Confidential Report. Seven years later, it opened in the U.S. as Mr. Arkadin, but no one paid attention and it disappeared. During his lifetime, Welles disowned every version of the movie he saw.

I’ve seen Mr. Arkadin twice since college, once on videotape and recently on Turner Classics. Both prints were dreadful. Each version seemed slightly different. My interest increased. And now, Criterion is issuing as definitive a DVD package as we can ever expect. The Complete Mr. Arkadin includes three discs: the 1955 European release; the 1962 American release; a third, slightly longer, 2006 “comprehensive version” edited by Stefan Droessler of the Munich Film Archives; audio commentary by a couple of film scholars; interviews with one of the movie’s stars, Welles’ biographer, Droessler, and others; three (!) half-hour episodes of the Harry Lime radio program that were the basis of the film’s story; outtakes; rushes; alternate scenes; a booklet of critical essays; and a copy of the Mr. Arkadin novel (!).

April 18. I’m marking my calendar.

The evil of "moderation"

From the late Samuel Edward Konkin III:

Having seen Left and Right both purged by their “respectable” parties for adherence to principle in my long political odyssey, I can (having been raised Canadian, i.e., with an excess of tolerance) tolerate anything but betrayal. And it is why I have always argued for the Chesterton-like paradox that it is not extremism that destroys, but “moderation.”

Stalin was a moderate, eliminating the extremes of Left and Right (Trotsky and Bukharin); Hitler was a moderate, purging the party of the “extremists” Gregor Strasser and Ernst Röhm in the Night of the Long Knives. The great imperial mass-murderers of American history — Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Baines Johnson — were centrists. Truman alienated the Left and Right wings of the Democratic Party into electoral schism.

As Matthew Arnold pointed out, “The Center cannot hold, and mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” The sooner, the better.

(The Agorist Quarterly, Vol. 1., No. 1, Fall 1995)

As Karl Hess, via Barry Goldwater, once said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

Sunday, March 05, 2006


As an enormous fan of Kurt Wimmer’s great libertarian film Equilibrium, I can’t deny my overall disappointment with his latest, Ultraviolet, which opened this weekend. Wimmer’s taken the premise of John Cassavetes’ 1980 mobster movie Gloria and turned it into a high-velocity sci-fi/action videogame of a film. In fact, the movie’s CGI is so bright and colorful that it never looks real; it looks like a videogame throughout. But maybe that was Wimmer’s intention. Ultraviolet is fun to watch, never dull, and it amps up the gunplay, swordplay, and martial arts of Equilibrium more than 100%. But it’s largely empty plotwise and filled with a lot of vampire nonsense that serves little purpose and lessens any freedom-tinged messages it might otherwise offer.

On the other hand, Ultraviolet is the latest movie to represent a trend I find irresistible: the armed and dangerous babe. Yeah, I like Ultraviolet in the same way I liked the superior Elektra and Aeon Flux. In this case, the babe is the delicious Milla Jovovich, and almost every scene lingers lovingly on her face, midriff, or ass before she mows down literally thousands of bad guys. And I can’t find too much fault in that. So sue me.

Ultraviolet is a “renter.” But don’t let me stop you from seeing it on the big screen before it hits DVD shelves in, oh, the next four to six weeks.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A word about words

In his Rules for Radicals (1974), the late leftist activist and organizer Saul Alinsky devoted an entire chapter to the effective use of words in political action. Brad Spangler devotes just a few short but powerful paragraphs to the subject...aimed specifically at agorists (i.e., libertarian market anarchists). This is vital stuff, troops.


A quotable quote from the late Samuel Edward Konkin III about monkeywrenching the State:

Ideologically, there is nothing wrong with sabotaging the State or even shooting statists; either you believe the State is pure institutional aggression or you need to go back to elementary classes in basic libertarian theory. However, for agorists there is a strong economic element involved: is this economically sound?

Morally, all but our pacifist allies should have no problem with self-defense and hence sabotage of the State. The interesting questions arrive in the Strategic and Tactical levels. Strategically, we refer to agorism: all counter-economic activity is considered sabotage of the State’s economic order. So, again, we have no problem in a systematic sabotage of the State. But how and where? When should scarce resources be utilized for a negative, defensive purpose rather than our usual pursuit of moral profit having the positive side-effect of smashing the State?

And so we come to the Tactical level, the elegance of Counter-Economics answers our question simply: almost never. There are two categories where sabotage may be engaged in, divided praxeologically, into production and consumption. Consumption means that a particular counter-economist finds sabotaging the State to be his or her whim-worshipping pleasure. Most of MLL, most of the time, cannot waste resources on such pleasures.

On the other hand, on a production level, one commits a destructive act in order to clear the way for an even more constructive act. What object of the State could distract us to put our “dynamite” in its vile dam blocking the road to freedom? The answer is War. Not only is sabotaging the war machine satisfying, but downright urgent. Lives are at stake, either draftees from home or victims of imperialism abroad.

(Tactics of the MLL, Vol. IV, No. 3, December 1987)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Thanks, Harry!

I feel like I just got sucker-punched. Harry Browne is gone. I’d heard he’d been ill for the past year or so, but I had no idea how ill and that we’d lose still another libertarian light so soon.

I owe two things to Browne.

In 1971, I read his “hard money” bestseller How You Can Profit from the Coming Devaluation. It was an excellent introduction to economics for a high school kid like me. Before then, I hadn’t understood that inflation was more than just “rising prices,” and I’d never even heard of “fractional reserve banking.” Browne turned that light on for me.

Then, in 1973, I read Harry’s How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. It was the first “self-help” book I’d ever read. I’d been a libertarian for three years, but Browne showed me how to integrate the philosophy into my lifestyle. And my instinct to stay away from the polls was confirmed by that book.

I pretty much lost track of Browne until he popped back onto my radar in 1996 as the LP candidate for president. His candidacy, so contrary to his anti-party positions of the early ’70s, put me off. But damn, he sounded good in those few-and-far-between media interviews. For the past decade, he was an extraordinary spokesman in the Establishment media for the hard-money, anti-war, libertarian movement. I enjoyed his radio broadcasts, his cable TV appearances, and his columns very much.

I’m gonna miss Harry Browne.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

No press screenings? Who cares?

Kurt "Equilibrium" Wimmer's new sci-fi gun-kata flic, Ultraviolet, starring Milla Jovovich, opens tomorrow. And B.W. Richardson reports that the movie wasn't prescreened by critics, "usually a sign that they think the critics will hate it, which usually happens because a film is not that good." Aw, c'mon, B.W., do we really care what Michael Medved thinks? Besides, this is Milla Jovovich, fer crissakes! And Ultraviolet looks like a freakin' recruiting film for the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre! Bring it on!

Tag, I'm it!

OK, freeman, the libertarian critter, has tagged me in the latest of a series of chain-posts: “Memes of Fours.” Here we go:

Four jobs I’ve had

  1. Strawberry picker (one summer when I was a kid)
  2. Reporter-photographer for a weekly newspaper
  3. PR hack for a hospital
  4. Managing editor of publications for a Fortune 500 company

Four movies I can watch over and over

  1. Kill Bill saga (the whole bloody enchilada)
  2. The Sound of Music
  3. The Third Man
  4. Serenity

Four places I’ve lived

  1. Northridge, CA
  2. Culver City, CA
  3. Monrovia, CA
  4. Arroyo Grande, CA

Four (screw it...FIVE) TV shows I love

  1. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  2. Seinfeld
  3. Lois and Clark
  4. The Prisoner
  5. X-Files

Four highly regarded and recommended TV shows I haven’t seen (much of)

  1. The West Wing
  2. Grey’s Anatomy
  3. House
  4. Arrested Development

Four places I’ve vacationed

  1. London, England
  2. Vienna, Austria
  3. Munich, Germany
  4. Zermatt, Switzerland

Four of my favorite dishes

  1. Spareribs
  2. Eggs Benedict
  3. Pad Thai
  4. Sushi

Four sites I visit daily

  2. Ain’t It Cool News
  3. CounterPunch
  4. The Sudden Curve

Four places I’d rather be right now

  1. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  2. Salzburg, Austria
  3. Lugano, Switzerland
  4. Kauai, Hawaii

Four new bloggers I’m tagging

  1. B.W. Richardson
  2. B.K. Marcus
  3. Roderick T. Long
  4. James Leroy Wilson

The Quotable SEK3

A stirring call to action from the late Samuel Edward Konkin III, almost two decades ago:

Remember, the Enemy we are fighting is ten thousand years old. It lurks somewhere inside nearly every person on Earth. It controls half the wealth and all the weapons of mass murder. It speaks over all the airwaves and nearly all the presses.

It is Evil. It is huge. It is the State. Can a rag-tag band of rebels such as we hope to prevail against such an overwhelming terror?

Yes, for the State is massive, yet fragile, for it is built on a foundation of lies. These lies are only now being consistently exposed. Help wield the Sword of Truth and the Shield of Valor. Renew your dedication to freedom, anarchy, and the agora.

(Tactics of the MLL, Vol. IV, No. 3, December 1987)

MLL pamphlets at your doorstep

I’m still getting requests for those handy-dandy, user-friendly PDFs of Samuel Edward Konkin III’s classic Movement of the Libertarian Left (MLL) pamphlets. I’ve reissued four so far: War or Liberty: The Real Choice, Introducing the MLL, Counter-Economics, and Tax is Theft! Expect more reissues in the coming months — then maybe some brand spankin’ new ones from Brad Spangler and/or myself.

Anyway, here’s the real point of this post: you don’t need to send me special requests for ’em anymore (though it’s always nice to hear from you guys). You can download these suckers right next door, from the sidebar at your right. The available pamphlets are listed under “Downloadable Pamphlets.”

Have a blast.