A Prayer for Trump’s Wall

Lord, I don’t believe in you. But know that this prayer is the true cry of my heart. Hear me:

Lord I have no great affection for white people, and no antipathy either. The same goes for people of all colors and shades. The best I can say about people of any race is that some of them are easy on the eyes, and that is nice. (Also, please do something about sickle-cell anemia.)

But the uppity mouthbreathers with lame degrees in the humanities and social sciences keep telling me that white men, and white people generally, have had too much say here for too long a time. I have always believed people should get what they ask for, good and hard. Lord, give it to them. Give them the change they ask for!

Let the United States of America take in millions of new immigrants. Start today! Let every one of these immigrants be brown or black, or really any color but white. Let half of them be gay, or all of them. Who cares? Let at least half of them have gender expressions that are at apparent odds with their biological sex. Let at least half of them be disabled. Let them all be atheists. Let them be all be poor and desperate, perhaps fleeing from oppression in their home countries.

But let them all be hard-core anarcho-capitalists. Or Objectivists. Or, best of all, Agorists. Let them all be well read in economics, Misesians tempered with an Objectivist’s sense for objective economic value. Let them be well read in Aristotelian philosophy, too. And since this is my prayer, let them all (even the deaf ones, if you can arrange it) be fervent lovers of Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Charles Ives, and, most of all, Gustav Mahler. The general taste in music needs improving.

Lord in short order let them infiltrate and bring under their control all our key institutions. Let the universities be staffed with these brown and black immigrants. Let all the anchors on NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and the cable networks be replaced with them. Let them take all the key offices of government, pass a constitutional amendment, and then take the presidency. Let them end the Federal Reserve and restore the gold standard. Let them enforce the Ninth and Tenth Amendments with a passion so pure and hot that its beauty and terror makes all the faculty and students of Yale’s law school commit mass suicide by self-immolation. Harvard too, Lord.

Let them Make America Great Again. Great, and brown. Let them have lots and lots of babies. Let them intermarry with white America, ’till the country caramelizes coast to coast, and no one can figure out what race anyone else is anymore.

When the time is right, Lord, let them dissolve the government and bring at last a peaceful, permanent, civilized anarchy to this continent.

I know this is a lot to ask, Lord. If it is too much, then please just let Trump’s wall be built. Real high.

This I pray.


Closing the Book on the Open Letter

This is the third entry in my Antistatism Series. Before I can make my own case for antistatism, I must pause to redress a famously misaddressed letter on a related subject.

In 1969 Roy Childs began an Open Letter to Ayn Rand with these words:

The purpose of this letter is to convert you to free market anarchism. As far as I can determine, no one has ever pointed out to you in detail the errors in your political philosophy. … Why am I making such an attempt to convert you to a point of view which you have, repeatedly, publicly condemned as a floating abstraction? Because you are wrong. I suggest that your political philosophy cannot be maintained without contradiction, that, in fact, you are advocating the maintenance of an institution — the state — which is a moral evil. To a person of self-esteem, these are reasons enough.

In part, Childs’ Letter, “Objectivism and the State,” was a response to Rand’s article “The Nature of Government,” in which she had called anarchy a “naive floating abstraction.” Childs went on in his Letter to complement Rand’s dismissal:

[L]imited government is a floating abstraction which has never been concretized by anyone … a limited government must either initiate force or cease being a government … the very concept of limited government is an unsuccessful attempt to integrate two mutually contradictory elements: statism and voluntarism. [Emphasis in original.]

Even those admirers of Ayn Rand’s who are wholly unfamiliar with Childs will be unsurprised to learn that his Letter failed utterly to persuade the philosopher it addressed. Could Childs have done better, then? What arguments would have been more persuasive? Why did Childs fail, fundamentally?

Continue reading Closing the Book on the Open Letter

Footnote on Iraq — Or: Anarchism by Juxtaposition II

It seems it is beginning to dawn on the war hawks that they just might (maybe, possibly1) have been duped. It’s a pathetic spectacle.

I’m not, note well, talking about any of those “Bush Lied” marginalia. To a dedicated hawk, the issue of whether the Bush administration provided disingenuous rationales for the invasion is secondary to the question of whether or not the invasion served America’s strategic interests. That is, for a war hawk, the end justifies, or at least excuses, the means.

For the sake of argument, I’ll grant the hawks’ dubious premise that the invasion of Iraq, if had been carried out properly, with opportunity costs duly considered, would have been the best possible use of America’s military might in the context of an ongoing global War on Terror. That stipulated, no one ought to have held out a shred of hope, when it became clear that the United States’ armed forces would be sent into Iraq, that their mission would be anything but bungled, and bungled badly.2

Why were all such hopes foolishly misplaced? Because the government of the United States is not the best medicine for what ails the West. It is the West’s most malignant tumor.

Is that too much to swallow? In lieu of a spoonful of sugar, I offer this:

An 11-year-old girl who threw a stone at a group of boys pelting her with water balloons is being prosecuted on serious assault charges in California. Maribel Cuevas was arrested in April in a police operation which involved three police cars and a helicopter. [Link]

A government of savages — that is, a government that is capable of this — cannot be trusted with any mission whatsoever, least of all a mission to protect life and property from savage assault.3 Not convinced? Consider whether the government that is capable of this or this or this or this or this or this or this ought to be trusted with any mission whatsoever.

“But this government is all we’ve got! We need it!” Wrong. What needs to be recognized is this: terrorism notwithstanding, Americans are in a state of emergency that can best be ended by ending the state.

Try to understand: the strategic situation of the world right now is a Rube Goldberg machine.4 The penultimate element in this weird contraption is a Damoclean boot, poised to stamp upon the face of humanity forever. Osama bin Laden is nothing more than the mouse, now forgotten, that nibbled at the balanced plate of cheese, and set the mechanism in motion. Who built this Dadaist doomsday device? If you have to ask, then, brothers, you asked for it.5

[For those who might wonder, this post is not part of the series of projected anti-state posts which began with “More Eggs” — TF]

1. ARI reminds me of the kid imploring Shoeless Joe: “Say it ain’t so!” It’s so. The U.S. Government has no intention of mounting an effective offense against the terrorists. The most charitable interpretation of the evidence (that retains plausibility) is that this is because the government is constitutionally incapable of conceiving of an effective offense, let alone mounting one.

2. If by some accident, Iraq turns out, years from now, to have served to secure the lives and liberties of Americans, it will be just that, an accident. National Defense is not a birthday party, and Iraq is not a piñata (or a roll of flypaper, or any other such nonsense).

3. If you miss my point just here, it’s probably because you’ve confused federalism with feudalism.

4. As it long has been, a fact demonstrated most memorably by Gavrilo Princip.

5. Objectivists especially. The Oval Office is your Room 101. You know what’s in Room 101.

Premature Identification

One of the things I find most striking about Objectivism is its subtlety. I’m in the minority. The lucidity of Ayn Rand’s writing, I think, tends to fool her admirers nearly as often as it fools her critics. She reduces complex issues to essentials, casts fine lines of distinction in sharp relief, illuminates the obscure, and penetrates the impenetrable. She makes it look easy.

It’s not easy.

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. And an argument, to be refuted, must be comprehended, which means it must be surrounded with understanding. Ayn Rand made dispatching her opponents look easy because, far more often than not, she had them surrounded.

To my dismay, I’ve observed too many who call themselves Objectivists surround their interlocutors’ arguments, not with understanding, but with mere words. This isn’t comprehension; it’s circumlocution.

And in fact, it’s often worse than that. Continue reading Premature Identification

Thinks I, What Is the Country a-Coming To?


Right on the money.

For me, watching Objectivists and like-minded minarchists react to the Kelo decision is like watching a drunkard stumble through a game of hopscotch.

So what are the Objectivists drunk on? In a word: statism. In two words: limited government.

Continue reading Thinks I, What Is the Country a-Coming To?

Anarchism by Juxtaposition I

These tendencies of the times cause the public to be more disposed than at most former periods to prescribe general rules of conduct, and endeavour to make every one conform to the approved standard. And that standard, express or tacit, is to desire nothing strongly. Its ideal of character is to be without any marked character; to maim by compression, like a Chinese lady’s foot, every part of human nature which stands out prominently, and tends to make the person markedly dissimilar in outline to commonplace humanity.

J.S. Mill

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.


Schmale Seelen sind mir verhasst;
Da steht nichts Gutes, nichts Böses fast.
[Small souls I can’t abide.
There’s little good or evil inside.


Plaudits: Ralph R. Reiland at LewRockwell.com

Final Arbiter: Idol Prattle

Among some Objectivists I have noted a fetishistic obsession with finality in arbitration, and I have been well-disposed to them for that, for this unlikely obsession reveals something quite … miraculous. Sublimated Christianity, it appears, was inadvertently taken up into the Objectivist corpus as Ayn Rand breathed life into it in the mid-1950s.

Well, I’m putting the point perhaps too forcefully, as I’m on my third beer tonight, and I’ve been reading Hume today, which has put me in a pugnacious mood. I didn’t intend to post tonight at all, but continue my reading on the current thinking on free will, which is impossible to understand without dancing with the fat, bekilted nightmare of Hume. Before I could get started on my late reading, however, a friend called my attention to the website for the Oregon Firearms Federation, where he had been doing research regarding concealed weapons permits in the State of Oregon.

Get this, he said:

I’ve noticed signs at the Portland Airport that say “No Firearms.” There is no exception for license holders noted. Is this legal?

Marv in Milwaukiee.

Good question Marv. The Port of Portland issued an ordinance in 1996 saying “no guns, no exceptions.” This was ordinance 377-R (Of couse, this does not apply if you are legally traveling with a firearm and it’s in your checked baggage.) This obviously was not a reaction to 9/11, sinced it was written well before that. The problem is, Oregon law very clearly PROHIBITS the Port of Portland from enacting any such ordinance. When we contacted the Chief of Police of the Port of Portland, Chief Phil Klahn, and asked him (very politely) about this contradiction, he had their lawyer, Barbara Jacobsen call us back. She left a voice message telling us that she had given our name to the Department of Homeland Security. (Insert joke about them here.) After numerous attempts to get an answer, we finally recieved a long letter from Jacobsen explaining why she believed the Port had the right to create such an ordinance. We then forwarded THAT letter to House Representative Wayne Scott. He took it to “Legislative Counsel.” These are the lawyers for the legislature. They actually write the laws the legislators request. Their response was pretty straightforward. In their opinion, the Port of Portland may NOT enact any such ordinance. Here’s a direct quote from their opinion: “You have asked whether the Port of Porland has the authority to enact regulations prohibiting a person from carrying a firearm in the terminal at the Portland International Airport. The short answer is no.” We then fowarded their opinion to both Chief Klahn and Barbara Jacobsen. The Chief had advised us to advise you (our supporters) not to carry in the terminal. After reading the opinion of Legislative Counsel, he replied once again that his officers could cite license holders and then they could “have their day in court.” Attorney Jacobsen has not responded at all. Your tax dollars at work. So, as it stands, the law says you may carry in the terminal. The Port of Portland says you can be arrested if you are obeying the law. Legislative Counsel says the Port of Portland may not enforce this ordinance, and the Port of Porland Police say they don’t care Hope this clears everything up.

We thought this was damn funny. We anarchists get to laugh at things that should make minimal-statists uneasy.

For those unfamiliar with the whole Objectivism vs. Market Anarchy political philosophical battle royal, you’re probably reading the wrong post, but in a nutshell, here’s what’s funny and what it has to do with Final Arbiters: According to Objectivism (or at least according to some who call themselves Objectivists and to my own recollection of the Objectivist doctrine on this point), one of the problems with anarchy is that, in an anarchic order, there would be no final arbiter for resolving disputes. Contrast the United States’ present dispute resolution system: you get arrested for a crime which you didn’t commit. You’re convicted. You go to jail. Your lawyers start the appeals process. Legal incantations are uttered before various magistrates, demonstrating some technical irregularity in your trial. The state thinks you should be in jail anyhow, and decides to fight it out with your lawyers in the appeals process. Finally, the appeals process terminates, and you’re either set free or not. If the technical irregularity is sexy enough, your case might make it to the Supreme Court (cue angelic singing) before the thing is over with. But, one way or another, the system makes sure it’s over with. Justice may or may not be done, but The Law and Process have done their due.

Phew! This isn’t an easy joke to explain. Well, there is a view in political philosophy that law is prior to rights, i.e. that legal systems don’t merely enforce rights, they create and define them. For adherents of such political philosophies, Law and Process, which are ultimately arbitrary, create the context in which “rights” have meaning. There is no extra- or super-legal standard by which Justice can be recognized. For folks like this, having a final arbiter in matters of law is merely a pragmatic necessity, insurance against the gumming-up of the system. The final arbiter isn’t meant to function as the Ultimate Guardian of the Rights of Men.

Objectivists don’t agree with this. By their lights, a government’s sole legitimate purpose is the protection of individual rights, such as life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Governments that protect individual rights, to the extent they do so, are Just.

Ayn Rand wrote:

A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted. This is the means of subordinating “might” to “right.” This is the American concept of “a government of laws and not of men.”

You see, Objectivists take law to be a means to an end — Justice — and law serves this end in part by circumscribing exactly what government officials are permitted to do while they work at protecting our rights. Objectivists cannot endorse the Kafkaesque kind of misgovernment exemplified by the officials of the Port of Portland. These humorless 21st-century Keystone Kops obviously don’t care what the law says.

“Lucky they’re not the final arbiters, huh?”

Not so fast, my imaginary Objectivist interlocutor! The essential problem here is that we’re dealing, wherever the Port of Portland is concerned, with a government of men, not of laws. The laws say one thing, the men assigned to enforce them do another. Funny.

And it gets funnier. Let’s take a look and see if we can find, as we follow the ascending lines of authority and listen to the music of the jurisdictional spheres, where government of men ends and government of law begins. Aw, hell, lets just jump right up to the Supreme Court. Let’s see now … Ginsburg, Souter, Thomas, Breyer, Scalia, Stevens, Rehnquist, O’Connor, Kennedy … wait a minute! These are people! Soylent Government is People! It’s Peeeeople!

The tyrants of the Port of Portland don’t show us what’s wrong with government so much as they show us the essential nature of government. Vets don’t hem and haw about what to do with a rabid dog. When something is as good as dead and still deadly dangerous, you just put the beast down. This isn’t rocket science.

Yet even though there is no such animal as a government of laws and not of men, even though such a chimera is impossible in principle, Objectivists cling to it. And this is where the best part of the joke and the Christianity come in, together.

Objectivism requires, for its politics to work, a Final Authority. Nothing on this earth can fit the bill. In all of history the only semblance of one I can find is the God of Judaism and Christianity: the Perfectly Just Judge Whose Authority Is Absolute and Beyond Whom There Can Be No Appeal. Objectivists aren’t supposed to be interested in impossible ideals, which is one reason they reject Christianity, explicitly. Implicitly, however, there appears to be another story. All constitutions are implemented, interpreted, and enforced by men. Good men have better things to do than govern; their time is too valuable. I can’t imagine many trading their time away to public service. And many would be needed, sadly, to keep a constitution, even one written by Ayn Rand herself, from becoming a mere pretext for usurpation and tyranny. Power attracts the absolutely corruptible. And the power of government will always attract the worst men, not the best. But I’m rambling and repeating points that Plato should have hammered into everyone’s head hundreds or thousands of years ago. It’s way too late, and I have too much more to say on this. Suffice it to say that it appears that, since nothing in reality can give rise to the concept of Just government, as human nature precludes the possibility, the Objectivist belief in it must rest, not on the evidence of the senses, but on faith — which is hilarious.

Thoughts For Election Week

Diabolical, diabolical democracy: it forces you to care what other people think, then to worry about what they might be persuaded to think, and, finally, to hope in desperation that they can think at all. Example: Were it not that I lived in a democratic order, One Million Moms scared of guns would concern me as much as One Million Cartoon Elephants scared of cartoon mice. As it stands, I ignore the phobias of pachyderms with aplomb, but the machinations of muddle-headed matrons and their tools command an undue measure of my attention.

One day, liberty will be achieved somewhere on Earth. Travelers approaching this hallowed ground will tremble to a terrible susurration—the gnashing of the demagogues’ teeth.