Sunday, March 30, 2014

Keith and Kristin Getty Concert At Tilles Center on April 13!

Keith and Kristin Getty are two very interesting people in the world of contemporary Christian music. My family and I have listened to several of their songs (other than the popular "In Christ Alone") and they do seem to hold a very high standard of music, as their music, for the most part, is excellent and well-done. We even attended a concert of theirs at Calvary Baptist Church last year.

Now, they have started their Spring Tour. And on Sunday, April 13, 2014 (on 7:00 p.m.), they will be performing at the Tilles Center for Performing Arts at Long Island University, a short distance from where I live. :)

And me and my younger siblings will be performing in the choir, which will involve the Joshua Leah Homeschool Group, a group in which my family is part of.

Here is the poster download and the RSVP Facebook link.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Conservatism and Libertarianism: Some Thoughts on James Miller's Defense of Conservatism

James E. Miller, the culturally conservative libertarian anarchist and prolific author, argued in a recent article that libertarians should not ditch conservatism, in response to libertarian writer Chris Rossini's suggestion that conservatism should be ditched.

He argued that conservatives and libertarians are allies (though not exactly through the same "natural allies" argument used as of old).

First, the start was David Brooks's article in USA Today arguing that social welfare statismt is compatible with conservatism, and that conservatives should be like liberals and become part of the "social justice" phenomenon (which has taken various forms in the Christian community). Chris Rossini effectively responded to the pro-state arguments of Brooks, and Rossini then argued that libertarianism and conservatism should not always be together, echoing the Catholic anarcho-capitalist Lew Rockwell's argument that there comes a time in every freedom lover's life that he should detach himself from conservatism.

James Miller, however, does not seem to think that is the case. While he is opposed to the modern conservative support for war, government, crony capitalism, and banks, and while he can't exactly be considered a conservative himself ("Old-style conservativism is traditionally in favor of a restrained foreign policy. On other issues however, it concedes to aggression"), he does feel that conservatism, as it is not strictly confined to political philosophy, can be matched together with libertarianism. The purpose of this article, then, is not to condemn moral values but to show that conservatism is not compatible with libertarianism, and that it is right for libertarians to detach themselves from conservatism (though this is not to condemn conditional and temporary alliances with them).

How Do We Define Conservatism?

The definition of conservatism is important before one can enter fully into a discussion of conservative-libertarian relations. The word "conservative" usually means holding to traditional values and being wary of change (though not entirely hostile to it). It can mean "sober or conventional" or whatnot. In polity, conservatism means a policy that favors the promotion of tradition through the State, and while conservatives may disagree as to what degree traditional institutions should be promoted by the State, but ultimately conservative polity is about government promoting morality and not merely limiting itself to defending life, liberty and property. Conservative polity can in essence be considered a moral activist program for government that is not entirely in line with the libertarian insistence on the non-aggression axiom and opposition to enforced and coerced morals.

Chris Rossini, in his rebuttal to conservative "social justice" activism, sees conservatism as not all that different from leftism, and I agree in the sense that both political ideologies advocate statism and activism, only in differing forms.

James E. Miller, coming to the defense of conservatism, contrasts conservatism and libertarianism by saying, "The latter [libertarianism] is a political philosophy while the former is something of much more complexity and breadth [conservatism]." On the surface level I agree, for social and cultural conservatives can be libertarians, provided that they stick to the non-aggression principle, oppose victimless-crime laws due to a consistent limited-government/libertarian philosophy and reject interventionism in foreign affairs. And libertarianism does not equal socially liberal values and does not need to be made "thick," despite what some libertarians or non-libertairans will have you believe.

But the real issue with libertarian objections to conservatism is not so much to conservatism as an abstract theory as it is political conservatism, the use of force to enforce conservative values. Many libertarians who hold to socially and/or culturally conservative mores and advocate for them hold the same view too, and Murray Rothbard, himself no social liberal, was a critic of political conservatism and found it to be incompatible with libertarianism. In his critique of John Hosper's pro-war theory, he said this: "Between Conservatism and Libertarianism there are numerous and grave inner contradictions, and the attempt to mix the two will lead inevitably to grave problems and anomalies." So, the objection is really to the conservative advocacy of forced morality, not morality or traditional values per se (though some libertarians do take it to this extreme). 

James Miller later goes on to say:

Conservatism, at its best, is the wisdom to be suspicious of grand proclamations of the state’s efficacy. But it also extends further: it’s a disposition that recognizes man’s flawed abilities and doesn’t heartily celebrate progress, whether it be material, scientific, or knowledgeable. It holds onto tradition because of the guiding light it has provided for centuries before. That doesn’t mean a conservative is correct to oppose all new declarations of liberty. But it acts as a strong bulwark against the insidious longings of thought leaders who want tyrannical lordship over freedom.

This may be true for some conservatives, but political conservatism is essentially a pretentious philosophy, using moral principles and skepticism for all declarations of progress as a basis to attack libertarian principles in the name of "morality." Political conservatives often put faith in the State as a locus of morality, and it perverts tradition (which may or may not be good) and uses it as a reason to support an institutionalized institution of aggression and exploitation. The conservative is not merely a traditionalist (in fact, libertarians can be strong traditionalists) but rather a statist as well. 

The libertarian historian Ralph Raico says of conservatives in his response to a conservative scholar:

A final aspect of van den Haag’s attack deserves extended comment. It is an old conservative swindle, going back to Edmund Burke. It has been customary for conservatives to lay claim to our whole social inheritance of traditions, meanwhile asserting that libertarians — or classical liberals, or French philosophes — are aiming at the total destruction of all tradition. In that time-honored spirit, van den Haag states: "Libertarians are antinomians, i.e., opposed to law and traditional institutions … Libertarianism is opposed to all conservative traditions, to tradition itself” (emphasis added). 
Now, I must confess that when I read this, I was filled with astonishment. Can this really be true? Are we really such barbarians? After all, there are many different sorts of traditions; many of them obviously desirable. Can libertarians actually want to destroy all of them? Are libertarians looking forward, for instance, to the day when the tradition of cello-playing finally dies out? When literary critics no longer give a damn for the life of the English language? When friends no longer help each other out in trouble, or celebrate a marriage or the birth of a child? Are we all gleefully anticipating the moment when the last practitioner of French cuisine expires in bitterness and despair? (As far as that last one goes, I have to say, No way! I happen to know all of the top libertarians, and I’ve never met a group more sincerely appreciative of good food, and especially of French cuisine.) All of these represent traditions; and the cello-haters have yet to emerge as an important faction within the movement. So, when van den Haag says that we oppose "tradition itself," what can he mean? 
It soon becomes clear what it is that troubles van den Haag, as it troubles other conservatives. Under libertarianism, he complains, "Society is denied the ability to impose or even publicly cultivate norms and bonds. Only individuals and private groupings can do so" (emphasis added). For conservatives, on the other hand, he says, "institutions form a social order, ultimately articulated and defended in essential respects by the state, through the monopoly of legitimate coercive power exercised by its government." 
Well, as you can see — things are becoming a little clearer. It isn’t after all "tradition itself" that van den Haag is defending against the Visigothic hordes of the libertarian movement. Nor does he really believe that we want to deny the right of non-governmental groups publicly to cultivate social norms — no libertarian would use force, for instance, to prevent Jehovah’s Witnesses from renting Yankee Stadium. What worries van den Haag is that, with the growing influence of our movement, coerced, state-en forced traditions are now threatened and may not survive.

In choosing political or social positions, two alternatives have been offered: custom or tradition on the one hand, the use of reason to discern natural laws and rights on the other; in short, tradition, or the use of reason to discern abstract principles on which to stand one's ground outside the customs of time and place. Here, too, is a profound difference between traditionalist and libertarian. The traditionalist is at bottom an empiricist, distrusting rational abstraction and principle, and wrapping himself in the custom of his particular society. The libertarian, as Lord Acton stated, "wishes for what ought to be, irrespective of what is." Or, as Gertrude Himmelfarb has summed up Acton's viewpoint, "the past was allowed no authority except as it happened to conform to morality."

Also he says:

Are there any other obeisances that libertarians may properly make to tradition? Simply to say that, in life, not all questions are matters of moral principle. There are numerous areas of life where people live by habit and custom, where the custom can neither be called moral or immoral, and where pursuit of custom eases the tensions of social life and makes for a more comfortable and harmonious society. It would be a false and perverted rationalism to say that any custom which cannot be proven on some other ground to be "rational" must go by the board. We can then conclude as follows: (a) that custom must be voluntarily upheld and not enforced by coercion; and (b) that people would be well advised (although not forced) to begin with a presumption in favor of custom, other things being equal. In a world, for example, where every man takes off his hat in the presence of ladies, an individual should be free not to do so, but at the risk of being generally judged a boor. If, on the other hand, this person's constitution is such that he would be likely to suffer a bad cold by exposing his pate, then we have here a higher moral consideration overriding the social harmonies of custom.

The fact that conservatives are often supporters of statism should make one think twice before considering a conservative-libertarian alliance, because the conservative philosophy is rooted in a markedly different philosophy (statism) and the libertarian philosophy (liberty) is not the same as the conservative philosophy.

Later on, Miller states:

The conservative cause isn’t to eschew every new idea or technological innovation because it threatens a way of life ingrained in society over the course of a few millennia. It says that we will forever be flawed beings, and that caution should be intertwined with prudence. Libertarians who desire true human liberty would be naïve to immediately accept any kind of change because it comes off as freeing. If freedom is precious, it should be treated as such and not taken for granted.

I understand that the conservative ideology as Miller describes is perfectly compatible with libertarianism's non-aggression principle. But the political conservative ideal is just that: rejection of any ideal that doesn't subscribe to their statist ideals of coerced morality and statism as a locus for moral value. While libertarianism shouldn't accept every single change, it doesn't mean that we should jump on the conservative bandwagon. There is a happy balance: treating freedom as precious and being skeptical of statist changes while accepting any change in the direction of liberty and freedom from the State. 

So, while I do appreciate skepticism of certain reforms, it is my conclusion that libertarianism and conservatism are both compatible and incompatible. If conservatism is social and cultural conservatism, then it is compatible with libertarianism. However, if conservatism branches out into political conservatism, then it becomes incompatible with libertarianism and should be discarded as such.

I would like to close with Lew Rockwell's words here:
What does conservatism today stand for? It stands for war. It stands for power. It stands for spying, jailing without trial, torture, counterfeiting without limit, and lying from morning to night.
There comes a time in the life of every believer in freedom when he must declare, without any hesitation, to have no attachment to the idea of conservatism.

Letter of Liberty News Edition (3-25-2014)

Here is the Tuesday News Edition of Letter of Liberty.

Ron Paul argues that U. S. government funding of democracy is actually hurting democracy.

Phil Girardi explains the bipartisan delusion of foreign policy idiocy.

Michael Rozeff: Who was more aggressive? Putin on Crimea or Bush I on Panama?

Ryan McMaken gives a libertarian analysis of the recent Venetian secession.

Robert Wenzel exposes Koch-funded attacks on Ron Paul.

Left-secessionist Kirkpatrick Sale explains the permanent warfare mindset.

William Grigg reflects on the sufferings of compliant Mark Byrge.

M. D. Creekmore: How to prepare your home before a bug-out.

Chris Hedges explains the moral courage of Edward Snowden.

Joseph Mercola celebrates the new wave of butter consumption.

Tom Woods and Robert Murphy discuss climate change and slavery.

Robert Murphy shows how government wrecks the economy.

Richard Ebeling looks further on the issue of individualism and nationalism with respect to the Ukranian/Russian situation.

Robert Wenzel comments on the libertarian rift over Ukraine,

Wendy McElroy explains the profound libertarianism of the Baptist minister Roger Williams.

Scott Horton interviews Sheldon Richman and discusses imperialism.

Alice Slater gives her tips for a new 21st century foreign policy for America.

Ian McDougall explains the right to silence thy cellphone.

Hillary Matfess: Sanctioning Russia will only make things worse.

Norman Pollack exposes American government hypocrisy regarding Russia

Logan Albright exposes the unemployment mirage.

JIm Bovard explains Egypt's new Waco-esque model of justice.

Mexico's drug war is affecting American cities as well, argues the editorial board of the Montgomery County Courier.

Conor Friedersdorf exposes some very brutal details the CIA doesn't want you to know.

Russia Today looks back at NATO's "humanitarian" invasion of Yugoslavia.

Norman Horn Publishes My Anarcho-Capitalism Article

Norman Horn, host of the great blog Libertarian Christians and new Facebook friend of mine, was kind enough to link to my piece which explained anarcho-capitalism.

He said of me personally:

My friend Anand Venigalla is a young Christian man with a great desire to learn about and explain Christian libertarian ideas. He now runs a website called Letter of Liberty where he blogs regularly.
Anand is also a regular LCC reader and commenter, and I am very happy to share his recent post explaining anarcho-capitalism from a Christian perspective. For one so young, Anand clearly has an excellent grasp of Christian libertarian thinking.
Please do visit his website, which is wonderful. Thank you very much, Norman. :- )

My Blog Is Mentioned Elsewhere

Dear readers of Letter of Liberty:

Two good libertarian bloggers, both Calvinists and anarcho-capitalists, have been so kind as to link to my blog on their blogrolls.

C. Jay Engel of The Reformed Libertarian has been kind enough to mention my blog on his list of libertarian sites at the bottom of the main page.

And Henry Moore of The Libertarian Liquidationist has also been kind enough to list my blog on the sidebar of the main page as well as the blogroll in the "Other Great Blogs" Section.

BTW, I have a new Facebook account. You can follow me there as well, and I will post there when each blog post of mine is finished.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: THE ETHICS OF LIBERTY by Murray N. Rothbard

The Ethics of Liberty (1982) by Murray Rothbard; with intro. by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
New York, New York; New York Univeristy Press; 1998 (republication); 1982 (Humanities Press)
308 pages; including bibliography and index
ISBN: 0-8147-7506-3
ISBN-10: 0814775594
Dewey Decimal: 323.44'01--ddl
Library of Congress Classification: JC585 .R69 1982


REVIEW: A Masterpiece of Thought and Political Philosophy

Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) was an interesting figure, a polymath skilled in economic theory, political and ethical philosophy, and libertarianism. He defended the libertarian message so clearly and consistently, supported sound economics in the vein of the Austrian school of economics, and was basically the towering leader of the modern libertarian movement. Without Rothbard, the libertarian movement would be very different. He applied the libertarian message consistently, not shying away from the radical elements but embracing them and defending them. And not only that, he was all around a great man. He was no god, and he had faults like any other man, but he was a great philosopher and economist and historian. His work, along with the works of Ludwig von Mises and the classical-liberal and libertarian traditions, should be recognized more and appreciated.

After finishing Rothbard's 1973 classic For A New Liberty, a crystal-clear and beautiful apologia for the libertarian creed, I have decided to embark on his 1982 masterpiece The Ethics of Liberty, a systematic outline of libertarian law and theory, looking at it from the ethical and moral perspective, as well as from a philosophical and logical standpoint. While it is not a Christian work in that it does not refer to Christianity, it is definitely not only compatible with the Christian faith but in many ways harkens back to it in its profound principles, from its attacking of mere utilitarianism and defense of natural law to the defense of justice and liberty, applying libertarian principles radically and logically, all for the enrichment and the rewarding of the thoughtful reader. While most libertarians would accept the foundational principle of self-ownership on which Rothbard bases his political philosophy, few understand the power of radical application of this principle.

The first part of this book (Introduction to Natural Law) deals with the foundation of libertarian theory, and Rothbard chooses natural law theory and natural rights as his basis, seeing it as moral and ethical. He uses the principle to defend the right of self-ownership and the libertarian/natural rights of mankind. While his philosophy is not strictly religious, it is definitely compatible with the Scriptures in that, even while Rothbard doesn't acknowledge God, he does recognize the natural law that God reveals himself through (Romans 1:19-20). Even while his theory is rationalist in orientation, the theory is not anti-religious or anti-Christian but echoing of past Christian scholars and defenders of natural law and natural rights. He even shows that natural law is not "conservative" but rather radical and revolutionary, particularly in the libertarian forum.

The second part (A Theory of Liberty) applies the natural-law libertarian foundation to construct the libertarian theory, starting with the classical Crusoe model that was used by classical economists and showing how the libertarian principles of self-ownership, the homestead principle, and freedom would work with the case of Robinson Crusoe before going on to apply it to difficult and various situations. Rothbard says of man's needs and his desire to fulfill them:

Crusoe, then, has manifold wants which he tries to satisfy, ends
that he strives to attain. Some of these ends may be attained with minimal
ef-fort on his part; if the island is so structured, he may be able to pick
edible berries off nearby bushes. In such cases, his "consumption" of a
good or service may be obtained quickly and almost instantaneously.
But for almost all of his wants, Crusoe fids that the natural world about
him does not satisfy them immediately and instantaneously; he is not, inshort, in a Garden of Eden. To achieve his ends, he must, as quickly and
productively as he can, take the nature-given resources and transform
them into useful objects, shapes, and places most useful to him-so that
he can satisfy his wants. 
In short, he must (a) choose his goals; (b) learn how to achieve them
by using nature-given resources; and then (c) exert his labor energy to
transform these resources into more useful shapes and places: i-e., into
"capital goods,"and finally into "consumer goods" that he can directly
consume. Thus, Crusoe may build himself, out of the given natural raw
materials, an axe (capital good) with which to chop down trees, in order
to construct a cabin (consumer good). Or he may build a net (capital good)
with which to catch fish (consumer good). In each case, he employs his
learned technological knowledge to exert his labor effort in transforming
land into capital goods and eventually into consumer goods. This process
of transformation of land resources constitutes his "production." In short,
Crusoe must produce before he can consume, and so that he may consume. 

And by this process of production, of transformation, man shapes and
alters his nature-given environment to his own ends, instead of,
animal-like, being simply determined by that environment.
And so man, not having innate, instinctive, automatically acquired
knowledge of his proper ends, or of the means by which they can be
achieved, must learn them, and to learn them he must exercise his powers
of observation, abstraction, thought: in short, his reason. Reason is man's
instrument of knowledge and of his very survival; the use and expansion
of his mind, the acquisition of knowledge about what is best for him and
how he can achieve it, is the uniquely human method of existence and of
achievement. And this is uniquely man's nature; man, as Aristotle pointed
out, is the rational animal, or to be more precise, the rational being.
Through his reason, the individual man observes both the facts and ways
of the external world, and the facts of his own consciousness, including
his emotions: in short, he employs both extraspection and introspection. (pp. 29-30)

After giving a brilliant take on how the free society and freedom will work in Crusoe's situation, Rothbard goes on to apply the theory of libertarianism and self-ownership to develop a corpus of the libertarian system, first applying it to the theory of property rights and just homesteading and then going on to apply that to the other issues, ranging from property and criminality, land reform, land theft, self-defense and punishment theory to the issues of bribery, children's rights, and the problem of knowledge, as well as other issues. I didn't always agree with Rothbard, especially with the issue of abortion (though I believe that a true Christian can hold Rothbard's pro-choice view on abortion and the law), but I agree with everything else Rothbard defends and affirms, including the children's rights theory Rothbard defends (with some of my own reservations). Logic and natural law are part and parcel of Rothbard's defense of liberty and libertarianism.

The third part of the book (The State versus Liberty) goes on to deal with the problem of the State, and how libertarian theory applied consistently precludes the very existence of the State, which is originated in political means, the use of exploitation and initiation of force to exist and gain wealth. He not only refutes the statist myths but also refutes the objections of even limited-government libertarians who see a role for the State in society. Rothbard says:
But, above all, the crucial monopoly is the State's control of the use
of violence: of the police and armed services, and of the courts-the locus
of ultimate decision-making power in disputes over crimes and contracts.
Control of the police and the army is particularly important in enforcing
and assuring all of the State's other powers, including the all-important
power to extract its revenue by coercion.

For there is one crucially important power inherent in the nature of
the State apparatus. All other persons and groups in society (except for
acknowledged and sporadic criminals such as thieves and bank robbers)
obtain their income voluntarily: either by selling goods and services to
the consuming public, or by voluntary gift (e.g., membership in a club or
association, bequest, or inheritance). Only the State obtains its revenue
by coercion, by threatening dire penalties should the income not be forthcoming. 
That coercion is known as "taxation," although in less regularized
epochs it was often known as "tribute." Taxation is theft, purely and simply
even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknowledged
criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the
property of the State's inhabitants, or subjects. (p. 162)

He also goes on to show that the State can't own property but only exploits and takes it from others and owns it outside the bounds of just property titles. And he shows how immoral the State is and why it can't exist within a just and proper society, the libertarian society. He even makes the argument that the services that the state provides can be provided in a more just and a more workable manner in the stateless libertarian society, reminiscent of his work For A New Liberty. Also worthwhile are his words on voting and foreign policy, in which he brings a consistent application of the libertarian principles to these tough issues. His perspective is worth considering and even worth embracing.

And the fourth and final parts of the book (Modern Alternative Theories of Liberty and Toward a Theory of Strategy for Liberty) are also valuable in that the fourth section refutes alternative theories that don't reflect natural rights and/or a consistent libertarianism. He critiques Isaiah Berlin for his anti-libertarian theories, attacks F. A. Hayek's faulty definition of coercion, and even critiques his great mentor Ludwig von Mises for adopting utilitarianism and attempting to apply a "value-free" perspective on political philosophy. And the final section is fair and balanced, keeping principles in mind while welcoming any goal, however mild, that defends the cause of liberty. He rejects both opportunism on the right-wing and sectarianism on the left-wing but prefers a moral-pragmatic strategy in which the moral ideal of a pure libertarian society is held up and the pragmatic strategy is allowed which does not contradict the goal.

Also encouraging is Rothbard's optimism and hope for a bright and free future, which, while I don't hold to as highly as Rothbard does, is very inspiring.

Overall, whether or not one agrees with this book's philosophy, The Ethics of Liberty is worth a read by all thoughtful people and all thoughtful libertarians, and I am glad that I spent my time doing so. I will be writing in the future on specific parts of this book, and I will be sure to revisit this book and re-read it, not only to catch what I may have missed when I first read it but also to learn more and to be even more enriched.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Letter of Liberty News Edition (3-18-2014)

Here is the Tuesday Edition of Letter of Liberty

John Cochran explains why GDP measuring leads to more government. Jonathan Goodwin also builds up on Cochran's analysis.

James E. Miller argues that conservatism shouldn't be ditched.

Hunter Lewis gives his thoughts on Obama's new Fed appointees.

Laurence Vance exposes the craziness of anti-discrimination legislation, especially in the strange form it has taken.

Richard Ebeling distinguishes Ukranian and Russian nationalism from self-determination and individualism.

Bill Sardi argues for the use of garlic as a medicine.

Jim Sinclair argues that sanctioning Russia is a very big mistake.

John Whitehead gives his thoughts on the Second Amendment and makes a civil libertarian case for gun rights.

Russia Today reports on Venetian secession from Italy and Roman domination. 

Ron Paul argues for equality under natural law in his analysis of new surveillance-related complaints.

Michael Rozeff argues against the folly of Obama's sanctions and argues against making Crimea's referendum illegal.

Ron Paul makes the case for non-intervention with regards to the recent Crimean secession.

Eric Owens analyses the call to jail the deniers of climate change theory by a professor. Tom DiLorenzo also gives some thoughts.

Jack Douglas looks at the Russia-Ukraine situation.

Daisy Luther looks at terror drills and public schooling (and why they are a bad idea).

Gaye Levy and Joe Alton give their tips on survivial medicine.

Elizabeth Renter: Napping is good for you.

Brandon Engel: Is Google a friend or enemy of liberty?

Pat Buchanan: Is Putin really irrational?

Phil Girardi gives his thoughts on Ukraine.

Kevin Carson reviews The End of Power, a book by Moises Naím.

Jacob Hornberger exposes the Argentinian government inflation scam.

Sheldon Richman contrasts liberty and warfare statism.

Gene Healy looks at the disaster that is the U. S. government's intervention in Libya.

Jack Matlock analyzes U. S. war policy since the end of the Cold War.

David Shellenberg: Tear down free trade barriers uniaterally!

Dan Froomkin reports on the alleged death of a license-tracking device and why reports may be exaggerated.

Kurt Schmoke: The drug war is futile and only grown more so.

Kelly Vlahos gives some thoughts on Afghanistan based on a "surge skeptic."

Winston Wheeler looks at America's trillon-dollar national security budget.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everybody!

For today, I would like to note St. Patrick's Day is the celebration of the great saint St. Patrick, the Irish Catholic minister who led many to Christ and who successfully abolished slavery and the slave trade in Ireland (without starting a mass Civil War, like what happend in America).

The Anarchist Notebook, a new and great blog, says in its article:
It’s sad that St. Patrick’s Day is more known for big parades and wearing green and over-consuming liquor and beer. It’d be far better if it celebrated his greatest achievements that included the eradication of slavery – the worst violation of the Non-Aggression Principle. And unlike America, he managed to do it without resorting to violence in any way. 
In fact, Ireland is an anomaly in that its conversion to Christianity was marked by the absence of violence.  Not a single Christian was martyred or killed for their faith while they were converting the pagan Irish. This gave rise to a phenomenon known as “white martyrdom” in which Irishman totally committed their lives to God and “died a living death” in a spiritual sense. 
St. Patrick should be remembered if for no other reason than the fact that he proved the Non-Aggression Principle works and can be implemented if people are willing to embrace it.

Also interesting is that Ireland is an example of a successful anarchist society (before Oliver Cromwell conquered it), which proves that society doesn't need the State to manage itself.  Christian anarcho-capitalist Henry Moore, host of The Libertarian Liquidationist, gives some thoughts on this in his article today
The one thing I would like to get out of the way is a definition of “Anarchy”. Etymologically, we know that “anarchy” simply means “without rule”, where “rule” refers to the reign of a ruler or the establishment of some other hierarchical political order. It does not mean, nor does it imply, “without rules.” Nor “chaos.” or “violence.” Rules can be (and usually are, even many of those that are eventually codified by legislation) mere customs which themselves are the result of competition between different ideas for how problems might best be solved. Tradition is very often the result of countless centuries of trial and error of which ideas and methods do and do not work. Legislation, on the other hand, is very often the result of the arbitrary or hubristic wills of so few imposed upon so many. Chaos and violence are part of the human condition, but they can be mitigated through competition, exchange, and voluntary cooperation, whereas intervention and threats of force create strong reactions, perverse incentives, and economic uncertainty, thereby exacerbating the situation. 
The great theorist Murray Rothbard himself, in his classic book For A New Liberty, had some interesting things to say about the Irish society and how it relates to libertarianism (audio available here): 
The most remarkable historical example of a society of libertarian law and courts, however, has been neglected by historians until very recently. And this was also a society where not only the courts and the law were largely libertarian, but where they operated within a purely state-less and libertarian society. This was ancient Ireland — an Ireland which persisted in this libertarian path for roughly a thousand years until its brutal conquest by England in the seventeenth century. And, in contrast to many similarly functioning primitive tribes (such as the Ibos in West Africa, and many European tribes), preconquest Ireland was not in any sense a “primitive” society: it was a highly complex society that was, for centuries, the most advanced, most scholarly, and most civilized in all of Western Europe. For a thousand years, then, ancient Celtic Ireland had no State or anything like it. As the leading authority on ancient Irish law has written: ”There was no legislature, no bailiffs, no police, no public enforcement of justice….There was no trace of State-administered justice.” 
How then was justice secured? The basic political unit of ancient Ireland was the tuath. All “freemen” who owned land, all professionals, and all craftsmen, were entitled to become members of a tuath. Each tuath’s members formed an annual assembly which decided all common policies, declared war or peace on other tuatha, and elected or deposed their “kings.” An important point is that, in contrast to primitive tribes, no one was stuck or bound to a given tuath, either because of kinship or of geographical location. Individual members were free to, and often did, secede from a tuath and join a competing tuath. Often, two or more tuatha decided to merge into a single, more efficient unit. As Professor Peden states, “the tuath is thus a body of persons voluntarily united for socially beneficial purposes and the sum total of the landed properties of its members constituted its territorial dimension.” In short, they did not have the modern State with its claim to sovereignty over a given (usually expanding) territorial area, divorced from the landed property rights of its subjects; on the contrary, tuatha were voluntary associations which only comprised the landed properties of its voluntary members. Historically, about 80 to 100 tuatha coexisted at any time throughout Ireland. 
But what of the elected “king”? Did he constitute a form of State ruler? Chiefly, the king functioned as a religions high priest, presiding over the worship rites of the tuath, which functioned as a voluntary religious, as well as a social and political, organization. As in pagan, pre-Christian, priesthoods, the kingly function was hereditary, this practice carrying over to Christian times. The king was elected by the tuath from within a royal kin-group (the derbfine), which carried the hereditary priestly function.Politically, however, the king had strictly limited functions: he was the military leader of the tuath, and he presided over the tuath assemblies. But he could only conduct war or peace negotiations as agent of the assemblies; and he was in no sense sovereign and had no rights of administering justice over tuath members. He could not legislate, and when he himself was party to a lawsuit, he had to submit his case to an independent judicial arbiter. 
Again, how, then, was law developed and justice maintained? In the first place, the law itself was based on a body of ancient and immemorial custom, passed down as oral and then written tradition through a class of professional jurists called the brehons. The brehons were in no sense public, or governmental, officials; they were simply selected by parties to disputes on the basis of their reputations for wisdom, knowledge of the customary law, and the integrity of their decisions. As Professor Peden states: 
…the professional jurists were consulted by parties to disputes for advice as to what the law was in particular cases, and these same men often acted as arbitrators between suitors. They remained at all times private persons, not public officials; their functioning depended upon their knowledge of the law and the integrity of their judicial reputations. 
Furthermore, the brehons had no connection whatsoever with the individual tuatha or with their kings. They were completely private, national in scope, and were used by disputants throughout Ireland. Moreover, and this is a vital point, in contrast to the system of private Roman lawyers, thebrehon was all there was; there were no other judges, no “public” judges of any kind, in ancient Ireland. 
It was the brehons who were schooled in the law, and who added glosses and applications to the law to fit changing conditions. Furthermore, there was no monopoly, in any sense, of the brehon jurists; instead, several competing schools of jurisprudence existed and competed for the custom of the Irish people. 
How were the decisions of the brehons enforced? Through an elaborate, voluntarily developed system of “insurance,” or sureties. Men were linked together by a variety of surety relationships by which they guaranteed one another for the righting of wrongs, and for the enforcement of justice and the decisions of the brehons. In short, the brehons themselves were not involved in the enforcement of decisions, which rested again with private individuals linked through sureties. There were various types of surety. For example, the surety would guarantee with his own property the payment of a debt, and then join the plaintiff in enforcing a debt judgment if the debtor refused to pay. In that case, the debtor would have to pay double damages: one to the original creditor, and another as compensation to his surety. And this system applied to all offences, aggressions and assaults as well as commercial contracts; in short, it applied to all cases of what we would call “civil” and “criminal” law. All criminals were considered to be “debtors” who owed restitution and compensation to their victims, who thus became their “creditors.” The victim would gather his sureties around him and proceed to apprehend the criminal or to proclaim his suit publicly and demand that the defendant submit to adjudication of their dispute with the brehons. The criminal might then send his own sureties to negotiate a settlement or agree to submit the dispute to the brehons. If he did not do so, he was considered an “outlaw” by the entire community; he could no longer enforce any claim of his own in the courts, and he was treated to the opprobrium of the entire community. 
There were occasional “wars,” to be sure, in the thousand years of Celtic Ireland, but they were minor brawls, negligible compared to the devastating wars that racked the rest of Europe. As Professor Peden points out, “without the coercive apparatus of the State which can through taxation and conscription mobilize large amounts of arms and manpower, the Irish were unable to sustain any large scale military force in the field for any length of time. Irish wars…were pitiful brawls and cattle raids by European standards.” 
Thus, we have indicated that it is perfectly possible, in theory and historically, to have efficient and courteous police, competent and learned judges, and a body of systematic and socially accepted law — and none of these things being furnished by a coercive government. Government — claiming a compulsory monopoly of protection over a geographical area, and extracting its revenues by force — can be separated from the entire field of protection. Government is no more necessary for providing vital protection service than it is necessary for providing anything else. And we have not stressed a crucial fact about government: that its compulsory monopoly over the weapons of coercion has led it, over the centuries, to infinitely more butcheries and infinitely greater tyranny and oppression than any decentralized, private agencies could possibly have done. If we look at the black record of mass murder, exploitation, and tyranny levied on society by governments over the ages, we need not be loath to abandon the Leviathan State and…try freedom. (pp. 231-234)
I am not saying that the Irish society was a flawless society, as it was marred with paganism before St. Patrick came, and neither am I claiming that a libertarian and stateless society will be a flawless utopia. But what I am saying is that the stateless society is practical and moral, and that it should be worth striving for.

Friday, March 14, 2014

SON OF GOD (2014) - Review

Son of God (2014)


Director: Christopher Spencer
Producer: Roma Downey, Mark Burnett
Music: Lorne Balfe
Story/Screenplay: Richard Bedser, Christopher Spencer, Colin Swash, Nick Young; based on the New Testament
Starring: Diogo Morgado (as Jesus), Darwin Shaw, Roma Downey, Amber Rose Revah, Sebastian Knapp, Gregg Hicks, and more
Cinematography: Rob Goldie

Studio: 20th Century Fox (distributor), Lightworks Media (production company)

MPAA Rating: PG-13


So last night, me and my family went to see Son of God in the theaters with a good friend of ours, and we sat through a two-hour film going over the life of Jesus Christ (while I was munching on my popcorn), starting from His birth to His miracles to His death and resurrection.

So what did my family think? Overall, they all enjoyed it. And what did I think? I didn't love the film, but I did think it was a decent film. It wasn't the abomination on film that some critics of the film make it out to be, but at the same time, despite the film's merits, ultimately it feels like a pretty decent, but average, re-edit of the original The Bible miniseries, with some filler added to it and one scene removed (the temptation scene, simply because of the over-hyped Obama/Satan comparison).

I feel no need to summarize the plot, since I believe that most people will be familiar with the story and that most critics already have done the job. But I will review the film.

First, I will focus on the merits. Diogo Morgado is very fitting for his role as Jesus Christ, giving us a relatable character who one could empathize with, and even if this Jesus does look like your generic white Jesus, Morgado did a really good job with his performance. The other actors are good in their roles, including Gregg Hicks as the cruel Pontius Pilate, Darwin Shaw as Simon Peter (the "big fisherman"), and the other apostles. Adrian Schiller is also fitting for his portrayal as Caiphas, combining both the self-righteous hypocrite who hates Jesus and the nationalist who is concerned for his nation.

Also, the direction is actually pretty decent, considering that this was originally not intended for a theatrical release (the original footage was from the miniseries). The pacing is passable, though the events do feel out of place and out of order for those who have seen the original miniseries (the order of certain events in the film are switched around). And the cinematography is very well-done, with some excellent choices made throughout the film. Overall, there was not much to complain about in the film.

Now, having given my thoughts on the respective merits on the film, what did I not like about the film?

First, having seen The Bible miniseries, the film felt like a rehash in an attempt to cash in on the quasi-craze of Hollywood-distributed Christian movies (Noah is about to come out, and I am interested in the film myself). Not much was new in the film, except for a few scenes being extended, some extended footage of John on Patmos, a scene where Jesus predicts the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (which is just handled in a kind of back-handed way). And for those who haven't seen The Bible, the film will feel familiar as this story was filmed multiple times. They may or may not enjoy it, but I feel that most will have the view that it seems a bit too familiar, considering that Jesus movies had been made since the inception of film.

Second, Son of God has its share of technical flaws. For example, the pacing seemed to drag at times, and compared to the miniseries, certain events felt out of order. For example, the death of Lazarus and his resurrection was switched around from the original miniseries and placed at a different time in the movie. And while the extended footage added in does have merit, overall it feels like filler for the most part. Also, there are obvious examples of less-than-stellar CGI work here and there throughout the film. Also, as others have noted in their reviews, the film did feel preachy at times. Even Diogo Morgado's otherwise good portrayal of Jesus has some cheap dialogue to say ("Just give me an hour and I'll give you a whole new life" and "change the world" talk near the opening of the film)

Peter T. Chattaway's helpful review of the film gives some insights into its certain flaws that I will take the time to quote:
The film is a mixed bag in other ways, too. At times, the script, credited to director Christopher Spencer and three other writers, displays a welcome sensitivity to the issues at play. But at other times, it misreads them so badly it gets downright goofy.
On the sensitive side, the film avoids some of the controversy that plagued The Passion of the Christ by offering a much more balanced view of Jewish-Roman politics. 
For one thing, it clearly depicts Pontius Pilate (Greg Hicks) as the brutal governor that he was (Luke 13:1), even going so far as to show him violently putting down a protest over his misuse of the Temple’s funds (an episode taken from the secular historian Josephus). 
It also underscores the fact that the high priest, Caiaphas (Adrian Schiller), was motivated not just by religious concerns, but by a realpolitik desire to keep Israel safe from the Romans, even if it meant sacrificing individual Jews (John 11:47-50). 
But on the goofy side, the film utterly botches the scene in which Jesus declares that not one of the Temple’s stones will be left standing. In the Gospels, this statement has dark, apocalyptic overtones, but in the film, Jesus says it for no particular reason, and he smiles and pokes the belly of some random child while doing so. Would the real Jesus have grinned so happily when predicting the destruction of Jerusalem? Doubtful, to say the least.

But still, keeping this in mind, Son of God is a pretty decent and watchable, but ultimately average, cinematic depiction about the life of Jesus Christ. See the film and decide if the film is good, bad, or just average. But to the readers who are looking for better films about Jesus, look to Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings (1927) (or the 1971 film with the same title), Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), The Jesus Movie (1979), Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth (1979), The Miracle Maker (2000), the 1999 telefilm Jesus (starring Jeremy Sisto as Jesus), or Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004). Or check out Catherine Hardwicke's (Thirteen, Twilight, Lords of Dogtown, Red Riding HoodThe Nativity Story (2006), if one is looking for a film about the birth of Jesus Christ.

Letter of Liberty News Edition (3-14-2014)

Here is the Friday News Edition of Letter of Liberty.

Ilana Mercer comments on the Duke student who became a porn star.

Nick Turse comments on Washington's proxy foreign policy in Africa.

Conn Hallinan comments on Ukraine, WikiLeaks and NATO.

Justin Raimondo advises that Crimea be allowed to secede and determine their fates.

William Grigg laments the end of private property rights.

Russ Baker investigates the mysterious case of "Danny."

Daniel McAdams argues that sanctions against Russia are absurd.

Michael Rozeff demolishes the theory of economic sanctions

Robert Wenzel explains how to get a Wall Street job quick and easy.

Roger McKinney explains fiat money and buisness cycles.

David Swanson argues against the thermonuclear monarchy.

Eric Peters explains new things to know about new cars.

Steve Sailer believes that the US government and Russian government may never get along.

Sheldon Richman explains how Americans can really help Ukranians.

Jacob Hornberger condemns America's Cold War socialism.

Jacob Hornberger warns that the CIA can't be "reformed" and that it should be abolished.

Laurence Vance reviews Faith and War, a book detailing Christian ideas regarding the Cold War.

Byran Cheng: Herbert Spencer, the great 19th century thinker, taught that freedom and empire are in conflict with one another.

Andrew Napolitano explains the troubles with the NSA and the CIA.

The Washington Times editorializes on yet another Justice Department crime: trying to criminalize sharing of links.

Adam Gopnik explains the flaws of Crimea-related hysteria.

Scott McConnell comments on yet another plan to start a Cold War.

Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald expose the NSA's plans to infect computers with malware through Facebook.

Dean Becker advocates for an end to the drug war, giving advice to the politicians.

Ben Powell argues that government policies harm income mobility.

George Leef teaches us the lessons of UAW's defeat in Chattanooga.

Sheldon Richman attacks the U.S. empire and its hypocrisy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tom Woods Interview with Justin Raimondo

Tom Woods interviewed Justin Raimondo today on the Tom Woods Show. They discuss Ukraine, the Middle East and more on the program, and this should be very interesting for one to listen.

Here is the link. Enjoy.

Complexity, Grandeur and Adventure: My Thoughts on LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

The original 1962 poster.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)


Director: David Lean
Producer: Sam Spiegel
Story/Screenplay: Robert Bolt, Michael Wilson
Music: Maurice Jarre
Cinematography: Freddie A. Young
Cast: Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quayle, Jose Ferrer, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy

MPAA Rating: PG (1988 re-release); original rating: Approved

Run Time: 227 minutes (restored roadshow version); 222 minutes (original premiere); 210 minutes (original); 228 minutes (director's cut); 187 minutes (1970 re-release)

Studio: Columbia Pictures


“Nothing is written.”

"Complex grandeur," in my opinion, is the best phrase to describe the rich epic masterpiece of cinema that is David Lean's 1962 award-winning film Lawrence of Arabia, which has since been recognized as a classic of the cinematic art by not only moviegoers all over the world but also by top critics and prestigious film groups and organizations. Filmmakers were inspired by this movie, including the famous Steven Spielberg himself. It even inspired the Spaghetti Westerns to one degree or another.

And when I got to see this film for the first time (not on an authentic and pristine 70mm print, the intended format, but on the Blu-ray restoration, which was superb), I was engrossed by this impeccably rich and deep epic, which not only involved me in the vast expanse of the film but also the complexity and layers of the writing and the characters, which is ultimately what made the film endure and what made the visuals all that more special.

The plot centers around the life of the historical figure T. E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) and his conflicted loyalties during his WWI service in the Middle East, where he helps the Arabs in their revolt against the Turks, winning victory in Aqaba and Damascus. However, the narrative unfolds, showing how he is both engrossed by the expanse of the desert and torn apart between his two loyalties.

There is a reason why Lawrence of Arabia is hailed as a classic, and it is not because of misguided nostalgia for the past cinema. While nostalgia may or may not have anything to do with the love this film receives, the reason it deserves the love it has is that it is ultimately a great film and that it is a masterpiece of the film genre, using the full power of the cinematic medium and the power of 65mm cinematography (filmed on celluloid 65mm, which is held to be the best celluloid film any filmmaker can dream of working with) to give us rich cinematic visuals and engrossing narratives and characters, all of which mix the realistic and the poetic nature of filmmaking.

Peter O'Toole's flamboyant and larger-than-life portrayal of Lawrence is one of the best and most complex film protagnoists in history. On the one hand, we see Lawrence being the champion of liberty for the Arabs and on the other hand we see a sadist who delights in killing (this is a running point in several moments in the film, particularly in the Arab attack on Damascus, the famous "No prisoners" sequence). Peter O'Toole and the screenwriters (Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson) bring this out beautifully.

The other actors are also lifelike in their portrayals, including Omar Sharif as Sherif Ali, Anthony Quinn as Auda abu Tayi, Jack Hawkins as General Allenby, Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden, and Jose Ferrer as the Turk general, who captures Lawrence and tortures him (it is implied that Lawrence is raped, but it is not depicted explicitly).

Everyone of them feels lifelike and real, and at the same time, they feel larger-than-life, like great historical figures and great men. That is part of what makes the film so great, because even with the pomp and epicness, the film manages to be lifelike and engrossing, rather than feeling artificial or corny (though the opposite is true; films can be too lifeless, as is evident in certain blockbusters of our time).

Also, the writing by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson is phenomenal; it is so rich and layered, and at the same time not too complex to keep the viewer from understanding the main plot points of the film. And even when one doesn't always remember the specifics, the writing does help, along with the evocative images of Freddie Young's masterful cinematography, which was shot in the beautiful medium of 65mm (and restored meticulously from the original 65mm camera negative at a super-high resolution to bring out the pristine picture of the original source). And David Lean's direction is also superb, and even while I am not too acquainted with David Lean's other work, I am pleased to say that David Lean kept me hooked into the film, even through the super-long (not over-long, just super-long) time length of the film. Films like this are a treat, and I am glad to say that I saw this film.

Finally, I would like to note that Lawrence of Arabia is a very complex and rich film, because even as it gives us awe-inspiring imagery of the desert, it shows the harshness of it and how it changes Lawrence. Also, like I noted before, Peter O'Toole perfectly portrays the character of Lawrence, contrasting both a man of mercy and a man of killing. And even when one is shown that the Arabs are fighting against the Turks for their freedom, one also senses a hatred for war emanating throughout the film, similar to some of David Lean's other films (especially Bridge on the River Kwai). And many more complexities are part of why I appreciate this grand and majestic masterpiece.

A+ (10/10)

Happy Birthday, Web - Gary North

Happy Birthday, Web


Gary North

The original article was published on March 12, 2014 at and republished on March 13, 2014 at The article celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Internet, one of the greatest innovations of all time ever invented by free men.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the most important invention that any individual ever came up with: the World Wide Web. Not even Gutenberg matched it. Korea had moveable type two centuries before he invented it.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web, all by himself, on March 12, 1989. Then he implemented it over the next two years.

He did not patent the idea. He gave it away. He changed the world, mostly for the better.

He converted an invention of the United States government's DARPA -- the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- into a decentralized, international institution that represents the greatest threat to political centralization in man's history.

The Web is the incarnation of what F. A. Hayek called the spontaneous order. Out of a decentralized system of communication comes a series of mini-orders created by individuals. There is no central planning committee. 

The Web is the antithesis of a planning committee. Yet there is order at our fingertips.

The Web gives the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency enormous power to spy on the world. It also gave one man, Edward Snowden, the power to expose the spies as no one ever had before. Never before in the history of the spooks has there been this much bad publicity. One man did it.

Today, the lead story on Google News was this: Feinstein shifts tone in calling out CIA search. Senator Feinstein had been the Senate's leading cheerleader in its use of the Web for snooping. Then she found out that she and her colleagues in Congress have been the targets. She is now on a rampage against the CIA. The story is all over the Web.

The head of the CIA insists that the CIA never spied on Congress. No one believes him, especially no one in Congress.

The Web has changed our world, and it will change it far more. That is because no one owns it as a whole. No one controls it. But its parts are privately owned. It is customer-centric. The users are in control.


In an article in Britain's Left-wing Guardian, the author bewails these aspects of the Web. They are the reasons I cheer it. These are the reasons it has changed our lives for the better. They all boil down to this fact: The state does not control it.

His first observation is true, and he applauds it.
1 The importance of "permissionless innovation"
The thing that is most extraordinary about the internet is the way it enables permissionless innovation. This stems from two epoch-making design decisions made by its creators in the early 1970s: that there would be no central ownership or control; and that the network would not be optimised for any particular application: all it would do is take in data-packets from an application at one end, and do its best to deliver those packets to their destination.
It was entirely agnostic about the contents of those packets. If you had an idea for an application that could be realised using data-packets (and were smart enough to write the necessary software) then the network would do it for you with no questions asked. This had the effect of dramatically lowering the bar for innovation, and it resulted in an explosion of creativity.
What the designers of the internet created, in effect, was a global machine for springing surprises. The web was the first really big surprise and it came from an individual -- Tim Berners-Lee -- who, with a small group of helpers, wrote the necessary software and designed the protocols needed to implement the idea. And then he launched it on the world by putting it on the Cern internet server in 1991, without having to ask anybody's permission.
In short, it is the product of one man's creativity -- not a committee.

This bothers him: free men are using a government-invented system to make profits. The horror!
3 The importance of having a network that is free and open
The internet was created by government and runs on open source software. Nobody "owns" it. Yet on this "free" foundation, colossal enterprises and fortunes have been built -- a fact that the neoliberal fanatics who run internet companies often seem to forget. Berners-Lee could have been as rich as Croesus if he had viewed the web as a commercial opportunity.
I am such a fanatic. Whenever individuals can appropriate a government-funded project, profiting from it by removing it from government control, I'm in favor of it.

A free man gave something away. He took a government-funded operation, which was designed to overcome the threat of a nuclear bomb on a centralized military communications system -- and made it productive. In short, he made tax money productive. In doing so, he reduced government power. This horrifies our critic.
4 Many of the things that are built on the web are neither free nor open
Mark Zuckerberg was able to build Facebook because the web was free and open. But he hasn't returned the compliment: his creation is not a platform from which young innovators can freely spring the next set of surprises. The same holds for most of the others who have built fortunes from exploiting the facilities offered by the web. The only real exception is Wikipedia.
This has placed private ownership at the top of the benefits of the Web. Private ownership unleashed has enormous creativity. It has mobilized the spontaneous order, merely by making opportunities available to all comers.
7 Power laws rule
In many areas of life, the law of averages applies -- most things are statistically distributed in a pattern that looks like a bell. This pattern is called the "normal distribution". Take human height. Most people are of average height and there are relatively small number of very tall and very short people. But very few -- if any -- online phenomena follow a normal distribution. Instead they follow what statisticians call a power law distribution, which is why a very small number of the billions of websites in the world attract the overwhelming bulk of the traffic while the long tail of other websites has very little.
Pareto's 20-80 law governs the Web. Surprise, surprise! It dominates many things. It is an order that emerges out of an unplanned environment. Why should anyone complain? But this horrifies our critic. Why? Because of this:
8 The web is now dominated by corporations
Despite the fact that anybody can launch a website, the vast majority of the top 100 websites are run by corporations. The only real exception is Wikipedia.
Private enterprise has make the customer king of the Web, and therefore king of the Internet. This has passed control to individuals. The corporations must serve individuals. Individuals decide what they want the Web to do for them. The government does not.

This is the heart of liberty:
9 Web dominance gives companies awesome (and unregulated) powers 
Take Google, the dominant search engine. If a Google search doesn't find your site, then in effect you don't exist. And this will get worse as more of the world's business moves online. Every so often, Google tweaks its search algorithms in order to thwart those who are trying to "game" them in what's called search engine optimisation. Every time Google rolls out the new tweaks, however, entrepreneurs and organisations find that their online business or service suffers or disappears altogether. And there's no real comeback for them.
The public likes to use Google. Google makes money because it serves customers. Producers try to game the system; then Google takes away their advantage. This is exactly what I want as a consumer.
10 The web has become a memory prosthesis for the world 
Have you noticed how you no longer try to remember some things because you know that if you need to retrieve them you can do so just by Googling?
Plato made the same argument against writing. I remember this, because I read it somewhere. I don't know where. But I can find out on the Web. So can you. I won't bother. If you do not believe me, you can follow Casey Stengel's dictum. You can look it up.

Because of the profit-seeking nature of the decentralized Web, this is true:
12 The web has unleashed a wave of human creativity 
Before the web, "ordinary" people could publish their ideas and creations only if they could persuade media gatekeepers (editors, publishers, broadcasters) to give them prominence. But the web has given people a global publishing platform for their writing (Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad, Tumblr), photographs (Flickr, Picasa, Facebook), audio and video (YouTube, Vimeo); and people have leapt at the opportunity.
There are causes. There are effects. Our critic does not like the causes, but he likes the effect. That is, he is a Leftist. They have been the free market's free riders for over two centuries. They have been blessed by liberty, and they have used this liberty to attack the economic institution that gave them liberty: the free market.

He worries about the environment. He says no one knows what the Web is doing to the environment, but he is worried. That is because he is a Leftist. He worries about the environment, even though he does not understand cause and effect.
20 The web has an impact on the environment. We just don't know how big it is 
The web is largely powered by huge server farms located all over the world that need large quantities of electricity for computers and cooling. (Not to mention the carbon footprint and natural resource costs of the construction of these installations.) Nobody really knows what the overall environmental impact of the web is, but it's definitely non-trivial. A couple of years ago, Google claimed that its carbon footprint was on a par with that of Laos or the United Nations. The company now claims that each of its users is responsible for about eight grams of carbon dioxide emissions every day. Facebook claims that, despite its users' more intensive engagement with the service, it has a significantly lower carbon footprint than Google.
Keep those servers absorbing electricity! Keep those carbon footprints growing! As long as companies are keeping customers happy, the spontaneous order will continue to displace the governments' central planners. The free market's decentralized invisible hand will continue to place ever-tighter limits on the government's centralized visible hand. If this takes a little extra carbon -- or extra nuclear power -- so be it. It is a small price to pay.


The Web is overcoming the Left. It is delivering information to customers and their servants, profit-seeking corporations. It is making it difficult for the government's bureaucrats to hide. Even Diane Feinstein is slowly catching on.

The mainstream media are fading in importance. They are being pushed out into the "long tail." Matt Drudge has more leverage than any television network -- surely more than CNN and MSNBC combined. The public has spoken.

It will continue to speak.

Happy Birthday, Web. May you have many more!