Apocalypse Now – Or Apocalypse Later by Justin Raimondo

Raimondo’s article “Apocalypse Now – Or Apocalypse Later” is, to use a term I dislike but must acknowledge is appropriate, a must read. Indeed, I believe that this article is so important that I will do something else I dislike, urge all readers to spread Raimondo’s article to all parts of the social web. The excerpt below is the heart of the article as it nicely summarizes why the US government justifies perpetrating seemingly never ending atrocities around the world while spewing forth nauseating pronouncements of piety. Astute readers will note the strong influence of Rothbard upon Raimondo’s analysis.

Fraught with all kinds of pseudo-religious overtones, and explicated by a cadre of intellectuals dedicated to the worship of the war god, the American ideology of “exceptionalism” justifies the empire in the name of destiny. It’s America’s destiny to show the world the way forward, according to this doctrine: we were meant to liberate mankind from its chains and lift up the teeming masses so they can learn to appreciate the wonders of capital-‘D’ Democracy.

In 19th century America, this ideology went by the name of “progressivism,” and was the invention of those who saw themselves as “liberals.” The New Republic magazine exemplified their ideas and their conceits, which were often the same thing: they saw themselves as on the cutting edge, the avatars of modernity: the idea of “progress” was their religion, and World War I was their holy war – the “war to end all wars.”

This rising ideology of American imperialism had two aspects, one theological and the other secular.

In the early 1800s there arose in New England a new revivalism that augured the rise of evangelical Protestantism as the dominant religious doctrine in this country. It was centered around the idea of post-millennial pietism: that is, the idea that Christ would return to the world and receive his Kingdom only after the earth had been purified and swept clean of sin. In short, it was up to human beings to establish the Kingdom of God on earth – then and only then would Christ consent to return and mankind would be saved. Indeed, they came to believe they could hasten the coming of Christ by reforming the world.

Thus from the beginning the prohibitionist movement and the so-called Social Gospel – support for economic regulation, labor unions, and Big Government in general – were intertwined. Social improvement meant the abolition not only of drunkenness but also of poverty, child labor, sexual promiscuity, and inheritable diseases. The solution: Big Government, which would abolish poverty, outlaw child labor, crack down on promiscuity, and establish a program of eugenics that would sterilize the flawed, the weak, and the criminal element so that only “healthy” children would be born.

And not content to reform their own country, the messianic pietists, both religious and secular, soon set their sights on the rest of the world. Government was their chosen instrument of reform at home, and so it was abroad, where the US military was sent to Christianize and lift up the Cubans, the Puerto Ricans, and the Filipinos. Teddy Roosevelt was the perfect embodiment of their ambitions,: bombastic, moralistic, hectoring, and possessed of a seemingly inexhaustible energy which he utilized in the single-minded pursuit of power, Teddy was the War Party’s perfect leader and symbol.

World War I was the culmination of this trend in American intellectual life: a struggle in which all the strains of moralism, fanaticism, and bigotry swirling beneath the surface of society rose to the top and shot out, geyser-like, from the depths of the American soul. The campaign against alcohol took on patriotic colors as the beer-drinking Germans were demonized, isolated, and often lynched by furious crowds. Alcohol-free zones were declared around all army bases, and drunk soldiers were court-martialed. Alcohol was seen as a subversive substance, planted by German brewers – agents of the Kaiser! – in order to weaken the moral and martial spirit of the country.

The same pietist fervor that arose in the country at large with the burgeoning evangelical movement came to dominate the intellectuals, who took concepts based in religious experience and gave it secular form. The Social Gospel of the preachers was transformed, in their hands, into the socialism of the economic planners, and the fashionable doctrines of collectivism that promised the Kingdom of God on earth – without the inconvenient presence of God. The quintessential American philosophy of pragmatism and the new “social science,” John Dewey, jumped on the war bandwagon when it came rolling along, triumphantly proclaiming the “end of business” as the government assumed control of production, prices, and distribution on goods in the name of the war effort. We cannot go back to the old system of production for profit, he gleefully proclaimed: from now on the State would take the lion’s share of the national wealth and redistribute it on a “scientific” basis.

The New Republic, owned by a prominent investment banker associated with the House of Morgan, took the lead as the Voice of the War Party. The first issue of that now august publication was devoted to extolling the political and economic effects of war collectivism, hailing the total mobilization of national resources in the service of the state, as a progressive development. Founded by Willard Straight, a partner in the investment banking firm of J. P. Morgan, and his heiress wife, Dorothy Whitney, the magazine has since that time been the veritable bellwether of the War Party’s latest projects.

The New Republic became a platform for the socialist Walter Lippmann, and Herbert Croly, the chief theoretician of Teddy Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism,” the fountainhead of cutting edge progressive thought. Backed by Straight’s wife’s money, the new magazine soon became the chief cheerleader for Wilson’s war to make the world safe for democracy.

It was a crusade that married all the worst trends in American life: the rising evangelical fervor of the masses, the collectivist trends gaining traction among the intellectuals, and – behind the scenes, and yet playing a key role in all this – certain financial interests, namely the Morgan interests, who directly profited from the Great War, and bet on an Allied victory.

For the Morgan interests, which had been tied up in railroads, were suffering greatly until they acquired exclusive rights to market the war bonds of the British and French governments. The House of Morgan also had big investments in war materials supplied to the Allies. The future of the Morgan financial empire depended on an Allied victory and their extensive network of pet intellectuals were the spearhead of the War Party as the US entered World War I.

World War I dealt a devastating blow to our old republic: it not only marked the beginning of America’s entry onto the world stage but also the real beginning of our march down the road to a mixed economy. The two great instruments of centralized State power – the Federal Reserve system and the income tax – were imposed at this juncture, and US could not have entered or fought the war without them. For the first time in its modern history, the federal government could create funds out of thin air – and from that moment on the dogs of war were unleashed. No wonder the 20th century would turn out to be the bloodiest century in human history.

The entire article can be read here.

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From the “Preface to the English Edition” of “The Theory of Money and Credit” by Ludwig von Mises: “All proposals that aim to do away with the consequences of perverse economic and financial policy, merely by reforming the monetary and banking system, are fundamentally misconceived. Money is nothing but a medium of exchange and it completely fulfills its function when the exchange of goods and services is carried on more easily with its help than would be possible by means of barter. Attempts to carry out economic reforms from the monetary side can never amount to anything but an artificial stimulation of economic activity by an expansion of the circulation, and this, as must constantly be emphasized, must necessarily lead to crisis and depression. Recurring economic crises are nothing but the consequence of attempts, despite all the teachings of experience and all the warnings of the economists, to stimulate economic activity by means of additional credit.

Mathematicians of the day.

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Additional Information About Anders Chydenius

As I mentioned in “Before Adam Smith There Was Chydenius by Gary Galles“, Galles’ article was my introduction to the 18th century classical liberal Anders Chydenius. V is For Voluntary quoted a passage from The National Gain written by Chydenius and provided a link to the Anders Chydenius Foundation.

While the foundation does not appear to be very active currently, it did reproduce an English translation of The National Gain (note that there is also a link to the original Swedish version). Here is a description.

Anders Chydenius went to the Diet of 1765-66 in Stockholm, with the main goal to have foreign trading rights accorded for the towns in Ostrobothnia. Soon after the commencement of the Diet he published a number of political pamphlets at a rapid rate, where he also criticized other faults in the
economical system of Sweden, such as the so called commodity ordinance. As these writings gave rise to an extensive and heated debate, Chydenius wanted to put forward his viewpoint on the basic factors in economic activity. This resulted in The National Gain (Den Nationnale Winsten), which was published in July 1765.

In his essay, Chydenius completely rejects the basic assumptions of mercantilist policy; economic life can not be planned and directed from above. If one wants economic activities to gain the nation as a whole, then the only guiding principle for this should be freedom. When people can advance their own selfish interests and get their livelihood in the way they consider the best, economic activity increases and the “national gain” will grow. When the laws of supply and demand prevailed, it was possible to achieve a natural balance between trades.

The National Gain is a pure treatise of classical liberalism, which is why posterity often has considered it one of Chydenius´most important works. Due to this work, Chydenius has been compared to Adam Smith. The democratic basic view of Chydenius has often been left unnoticed, however. He objected both to the patronage by the state and to monopolistic large-scale entrepreneurship; His view is that freedom in economic life is freedom at grass-root level, the individual´s right to realize his ideas in life.

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Taxation as a Business Model

mcd

H/T V is For Voluntary

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Kernel tricks and nonlinear dimensionality reduction via RBF kernel PCA by Sebastian Raschka

Kernel tricks and nonlinear dimensionality reduction via RBF kernel PCA” is a well written article with good examples and useful links. Preprocessing data is an often overlooked aspect of data analysis. All too often people assume linearity and blindly apply PCA.

Most machine learning algorithms have been developed and statistically validated for linearly separable data. Popular examples are linear classifiers like Support Vector Machines (SVMs) or the (multilinear) Principal Component Analysis (PCA) for dimensionality reduction. However, most real world data requires nonlinear methods in order to perform tasks that involve the analysis and discovery of patterns successfully.
The focus of this article is to briefly introduce the idea of kernel methods and to implement a Gaussian radius basis function (RBF) kernel that is used to perform nonlinear dimensionality reduction via KBF kernel principal component analysis (kPCA).

Table of Contents

The rest of the article can be read here.

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The State Lives in the Minds of its Victims by Dan Sanchez

The State Lives in the Minds of its Victims” is a very perceptive article in which Sanchez provides a subtle addition to the Austrian school definition of a state.

What is a state? A common definition is “a territorial monopoly of force.” But what about a civil war in which an old regime and a would-be new regime are fighting street-to-street over control of a city? In that case, there is no territorial monopoly of force over the contested areas. But are we to say that such areas are “stateless”?

When an incumbent regime loses its monopoly of force over a region, it does not suddenly become more benign as an institution. And the fact that the upstart “rebels” do not yet have such a monopoly does not make them any more benign either. Both are still pernicious in a hugely important and distinctive way. They both enjoy the privilege of committing aggression that is perceived by at least some to be exceptionally legitimate. Both are granted a special dispensation by their partisans to commandeer the persons and property of others.

That is the fundamental problem that makes both groups distinctively vicious as compared to other criminals, regardless of whether they have yet achieved uncontested dominance. And so it is that characteristic that deserves to be the criterion for statehood. It highlights the most important issue in the theory of government if we define the state not as “a territorial monopoly of force,” but as “anybody whose aggression is considered exceptionally legitimate by some.”

And there are grades of legitimacy. A warlord’s tribute, not yet hallowed by the years, may not have as much perceived legitimacy as a tax paid to a long-established bureaucracy. But so long as it is normalized at all by habit and/or propaganda in the minds of the victims, then it is importantly different from pirate booty or a highwayman’s loot. Most warlord bands, therefore, should be considered statelets.

Understood this way, situations which are often called instances of “anarchy,” like Somalia, are actually chronic civil wars fought by contending states. As Charles Johnson has said, they are not “power vacuums,” but “power plenums.” The fact that there are multiple states contesting the same ground, instead of one state solely dominating it, means that, far from “statelessness,” the pitiable residents are up to their eyeballs in “statefulness”. Consider, for example, the plight right now of the Sunni tribespeople in the Alam District of Iraq. They have to deal with the pretensions of ISIS, whom they are openly fighting, as well as the government in Baghdad, who bombs them anyway. That is not anarchy, but multi-archy: not a lack of a state, but a surfeit of states.

The important “monopoly” held by any state is not territorial, but spiritual; it is the privileged place that the state holds in the hearts of its individual subjects, the possession of which exempts the possessor from the rules of justice that that the subject holds everyone else to.

The rest of the article can be read here.

One can summarize Sanchez’s insight by calling the state a manifestation of the meme of statism. From the wikipedia definition of a meme:

A meme (/ˈmm/ meem)[1] is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”[2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.[3]

The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek μίμημα Greek pronunciation: [míːmɛːma] mīmēma, “imitated thing”, from μιμεῖσθαι mimeisthai, “to imitate”, from μῖμος mimos “mime”)[4] and it was coined by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976)[1][5] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[6]

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This Appalling Practice Is Only Used in Two Nations—And the US Is One of Them by Nick Giambruno

Giambruno points out one of the most obvious forms of financial repression, taxation of worldwide income.

It’s sort of an obscure story, but it’s also incredibly instructive.

That’s the story of how Eritrea—a tiny, mostly unheard-of country in East Africa—taxes its citizens who live abroad.

Eritrea is one of only two countries in the entire world that taxes its nonresident citizens on their global income. Specifically, Eritrea levies a flat 2% tax on the income of its citizens who reside abroad.

Nearly every other country in the world bases its tax system on residency rather than citizenship. For example, if you’re an Italian citizen and leave Italy to become a resident of and earn income in Dubai, you would not have to pay taxes on that income to the Italian government. If you were an Eritrean citizen, on the other hand, you would have to pay taxes to the Eritrean government no matter where you live and work.

This practice has been condemned as “extortion” and a “repressive” measure by an “authoritarian” government by the media.

In fact, even the UN has weighed in. In Resolution 2023, the UN Security Council condemned Eritrea for “using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea from its nationals.”

You may be thinking, “What’s the controversy? Eritrea is getting criticized, and rightly so.”

To understand the controversy, we have to examine the only other country on the planet that has a similar tax system.
Eritrea’s Expat Tax on Steroids

The only other country to tax its nonresident citizens globally is of course the US.

The US essentially does exactly the same thing as Eritrea to its nonresident citizens, except that it’s done on a much bigger scale and with absolutely draconian penalties.

Eritrea’s paltry 2% tax is a mere fraction of the top 39.6% federal tax rate that expat Americans have to pay—even if they earned that income abroad and never set foot in the US. (The US does allow for an exemption of a limited amount of foreign earned income, if strict requirements are met.)

It should also be noted that Eritrea is a poor country and has a very limited capability to actually enforce its 2% expat tax. Many Eritreans who live abroad have never even heard of it, let alone are frightened by it.

The US, on the other hand—being the world’s financial and military superpower (for now at least)—does have the capability to enforce its byzantine tax system literally anywhere in the world. When you consider this capability and the penalties—which can only be described as cruel and unusual—it’s no surprise that US expats are terrified. And they should be… or they aren’t paying attention.

American expats are threatened with prison and outlandish fines merely for not filing a litany of complex forms correctly—even if no taxes are due in the first place.

When you consider the totality of it, it’s not actually a fair comparison to contrast poor little Eritrea and its relatively modest expat tax to the monstrosity of the US system.

Eritrea gets hounded, ostracized, and sanctioned for using—according to the UN—“threats, harassment and intimidation” to “extort” taxes out of its citizens living abroad. You would think there would at least be a peep of criticism for the only other country that does essentially the same thing, but on steroids. But you’d be wrong. If you listen for it, all you will hear are the crickets chirping.

This isn’t surprising, though. Even though it’s clearly a double standard, it’s easy to understand why it exists.

As the world’s sole superpower and issuer of the premier reserve currency, the US is not accountable to anyone. It’s a heck of a lot easier to push around some small, impoverished African country than it is to stand up to the US juggernaut—just ask Canada.

The rest of the article can be read here.

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Five effective ways to advance the cause of liberty by Jakub Bozydar Wisniewski

Wisniewski lists five action items for promoting liberty.

1. Entrepreneurship, which is the fullest expression of liberty, is based on shrewdness, ingenuity, and tactical perspicacity. Political power, which is the diametric opposite of liberty, is ponderous, anachronistic, and perpetually behind the curve. Hence, a great window of opportunity to prove themselves opens up for all those who possess entrepreneurial talent – especially if it is coupled with technological talent – a window of opportunity to create solutions that allow for circumventing political power’s sphere of influence, and thus for undermining the belief in its indispensability. This is precisely how Bitcoin slowly sterilizes the power of central banks, the Internet erodes political control over the flow of information and the enforceability of “intellectual property rights”, and arbitration agencies reduce the role of legislation. In addition, the emergence of such solutions offers a clear illustration of the fact that effective entrepreneurship not only does not need political protection, but actually thrives to the extent that it is free from its influence.

2. One should use every possible opportunity to promote sound economic knowledge, which describes the process whereby individuals and their voluntary associations build their well-being on the basis of free exchange of goods and services in an environment of respect for property rights, unhampered competition, and spontaneously emerging price system. In other words, there is never too much of Bastiat and Hazlitt, be it among family members, friends, or colleagues. The more widespread this knowledge gets, and the more obvious its message becomes, the greater will be the social pressure to regain ever more areas of freedom of action understood as a precondition of personal well-being.

3. It is worthwhile to use every possible opportunity to promote the feeling of self-reliance, self-governance, and entrepreneurial initiative at the most local level possible. The goal of this activity is to bring about the greatest possible fragmentation and decentralization of all kinds of political structures, which is likely to lead to much greater economic integration of the territories under their control. This is a logical conclusion stemming from the fact that the smaller a given political organism is, the less capable it is of draining the vital forces of the local economy and hampering its spontaneous development, and the less resources it can devote to that purpose. In the most optimistic case, the ultimate culmination of such a decentralization process would be the emergence of a genuinely free and genuinely global economy composed of hundreds of thousands or even millions of independent economic zones, neighborhood associations, charter cities, and other forms of contractual, propertarian arrangements integrated through free trade and the global division of labor.

The rest of the  article can be found here.

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