Thursday, May 02, 2002

Francis Fukuyama's Wall Street Journal The Fall of the Libertarians basically argues that libertarianism overextended itself and is collapsing because of its lack of a foreign policy (during the war) and its support for cloning.

Fukuyama's piece is not as good as Eugene Volokh's comment in his Blog: FALLING?

Volokh's argument makes good political sense as far as it goes:

The error comes in linking this to some Grand Decline of Libertarianism as a Political Force. To begin with, let's remember that pure libertarianism, or even the 99.44% pure libertarianism of the Cato variety, has never been a dominant political force; the purer it has been, the more it has been on the fringe. To the extent that libertarianism has worked itself into American political culture, it has been as what I call "presumptive libertarianism" -- a presumption that people should be free to choose, and free to keep and use their property, but one that can be rebutted when there are strong enough arguments to the contrary, e.g., national defense, protecting children, and so on. (In fact, that's what I call myself: A presumptive libertarian.)

This approach is obviously much messier than pure libertarianism -- but it's also (1) the only approach that, in my view, is likely to work, and (2) the only approach that is likely to be accepted, even in part, by the public. And presumptive libertarianism has not been weakened at all, either by Sept. 11 or by the cloning debates.

So the only movement that has "fallen" -- pure libertarianism -- had never risen in the first place. And the movement that has risen, presumptive libertarianism, still seems to be as strong as before.

That is a sensible political argument but it doesn't address the effect of the war on the much more significant non-political versions of libertarianism.

That is, both Fukuyama and Volokh focus on politics but neglect what might be variously called the techno-futurist, death-of-the nation-state, crypto anarchist, or historical dialectic branch of libertarianism. The branch in which I place myself.

Since we have never asked for permission in any case (it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission) the views of the public are not a genuine concern of ours. And in spite of what Volokh says, we have been "up". The Dot-Com Boom was an occaision of much overblown techno-futurist rhetoric. And even before the war, the Dot-Com Bust was the occaision of much overblown business-as-usual rhetoric.

So it would be a good topic for discussion. Riding high in '99, the dot-com bust and the war have been a double blow (at least in a rhetorical sense) to this tiny portion of a tiny anit-political movement.

Give me a little time and I'll finally crank out my treatise on the effect of 2001 on the technoptimist movement. Don't hold your breath.
Time to order another round. Canadian researchers establish that drinkers earn more than teetotalers. Drink and Grow Rich. (The title is derived from the self help best seller of the 1950's Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Since Eugene Volokh has seen fit to post Kipling's The Sons of Martha. I decided to retaliate with The Islanders in honor of the war...



Rudyard Kipling

NO DOUBT but ye are the People—your throne is above the King's.
Whoso speaks in your presence must say acceptable things:
Bowing the head in worship, bending the knee in fear—
Bringing the word well smoothen—such as a King should hear.

Fenced by your careful fathers, ringed by your leaden seas,
Long did ye wake in quiet and long lie down at ease;
Till ye said of Strife, "What is it?" of the Sword, "It is far from our ken":
Till ye made a sport of your shrunken hosts and a toy of your armed men.
Ye stopped your ears to the warning—ye would neither look nor heed—
Ye set your leisure before their toil and your lusts above their need.

Because of your witless learning and your beasts of warren and chase,
Ye grudged your sons to their service and your fields for their camping-place.
Ye forced them to glean in the highways the straw for the bricks they brought;
Ye forced them follow in byways the craft that ye never taught.
Ye hindered and hampered and crippled; ye thrust out of sight and away
Those that would serve you for honour and those that served you for pay.

Then were the judgments loosened; then was your shame revealed,
At the hands of a little people, few but apt in the field.
Yet ye were saved by a remnant (and your land's long-suffering star),
When your strong men cheered in their millions while your striplings went to the war.
Sons of the sheltered city—unmade, unhandled, unmeet—
Ye pushed them raw to the battle as ye picked them raw from the street.

And what did ye look they should compass? Warcraft learned in a breath,
Knowledge unto occasion at the first far view of Death?
So? And ye train your horses and the dogs ye feed and prize?
How are the beasts more worthy than the souls, your sacrifice?

But ye said, "Their valour shall show them"; but ye said, "The end is close."
And ye sent them comfits and pictures to help them harry your foes:
And ye vaunted your fathomless power, and ye flaunted your iron pride,
Ere—ye fawned on the Younger Nations for the men who could shoot and ride!

Then ye returned to your trinkets; then ye contented your souls
With the flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at the goals.
Given to strong delusion, wholly believing a lie,
Ye saw that the land lay fenceless, and ye let the months go by

Waiting some easy wonder, hoping some saving sign
Idle—openly idle—in the lee of the forespent Line.
Idle—except for your boasting—and what is your boasting worth
If ye grudge a year of service to the lordliest life on earth?
Ancient, effortless, ordered, cycle on cycle set,
Life so long untroubled, that ye who inherit forget

It was not made with the mountains, it is not one with the deep.
Men, not gods, devised it. Men, not gods, must keep.
Men, not children, servants, or kinsfolk called from afar,
But each man born in the Island broke to the matter of war.

Soberly and by custom taken and trained for the same,
Each man born in the Island entered at youth to the game—
As it were almost cricket, not to be mastered in haste,
But after trial and labour, by temperance, living chaste.
As it were almost cricket—as it were even your play,
Weighed and pondered and worshipped, and practised day and day.

So ye shall bide sure-guarded when the restless lightnings wake
In the womb of the blotting war-cloud, and the pallid nations quake.
So, at the haggard trumpets, instant your soul shall leap
Forthright, accoutred, accepting—alert from the wells of sleep.
So at the threat ye shall summon—so at the need ye shall send
Men, not children or servants, tempered and taught to the end;
Cleansed of servile panic, slow to dread or despise,
Humble because of knowledge, mighty by sacrifice.

But ye say, "It will mar our comfort." Ye say, "It will minish our trade."
Do ye wait for the spattered shrapnel ere ye learn how a gun is laid?
For the low, red glare to southward when the raided coast-towns burn?
(Light ye shall have on that lesson, but little time to learn.)
Will ye pitch some white pavilion, and lustily even the odds,
With nets and hoops and mallets, with rackets and bats and rods?
Will the rabbit war with your foemen—the red deer horn them for hire?
Your kept cock—pheasant keep you?-he is master of many a shire.
Arid, aloof, incurious, unthinking, unthanking, gelt,
Will ye loose your schools to flout them till their brow-beat columns melt?
Will ye pray them or preach them, or print them, or ballot them back from your shore?
Will your workmen issue a mandate to bid them strike no more?
Will ye rise and dethrone your rulers? (Because ye were idle both?
Pride by Insolence chastened? Indolence purged by Sloth?)

No doubt but ye are the People; who shall make you afraid?
Also your gods are many; no doubt but your gods shall aid.
Idols of greasy altars built for the body's ease;
Proud little brazen Baals and talking fetishes;
Teraphs of sept and party and wise wood-pavement gods—
These shall come down to the battle and snatch you from under the rods?
From the gusty, flickering gun-roll with viewless salvoes rent,
And the pitted hail of the bullets that tell not whence they were sent.
When ye are ringed as with iron, when ye are scourged as with whips,
When the meat is yet in your belly, and the boast is yet on your lips;
When ye go forth at morning and the noon beholds you broke,
Ere ye lie down at even, your remnant, under the yoke?

No doubt but ye are the People—absolute, strong, and wise;
Whatever your heart has desired ye have not withheld from your eyes.
On your own heads, in your own hands, the sin and the saving lies !

Monday, April 29, 2002

WHY NOT REGULATE GUNS LIKE CARS? in the Volokh Brothers blog is another good piece on gun control vs car control. One of my particular interests.

In the past, I have liked to point out that those who use the Gun Control=Car Control argument also misunderstand the actual nature of Car Control.

Here is something I've written on that subject:

"We license drivers and register cars, why can't guns be registered and gun owners licensed?"

While I do not support regulating guns like driving (or indeed driving like driving), most gun control advocates ignore the fact that vehicle regulation is not as broad as they seem to think.

The following statements are true:

It is legal to own a car without a driver's license or vehicle registration.

It is legal to drive an unregistered car without a driver's license (on private property, for example).

No permission is required to purchase a car and felons, the mentally ill, children, aliens, those who have renounced American citizenship and those guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses can buy cars and most of the above can drive cars on public streets and roads.

You are not required to report the purchase of a car to anyone.

It is legal to drive a car on public streets and roads in the US with a license from any jurisdiction on earth.

It is legal to drive a car on public streets and roads in the US that is registered in other states or nations.

It is legal to drive a car on public streets and roads in the US that is owned by and registered to any person or legal entity.

Legal entities can own and register cars and permit anyone they like to drive them.

Note that if we regulated guns like driving, the above would mean that anyone could buy and use a gun on your own property without licensing, registration or reporting.