Jesse Walker, reviewing Call Me Burroughs, the new biography by Barry Miles, in Reason Magazine, finds the avante-garde author inconsistent about siding with the Left or the Right, but consistently anti-authoritarian.
Two decades later, covering the Democratic Party’s bloody 1968 convention for Esquire, Burroughs manifested a more left-wing aura. A day after his arrival he donned a McCarthy buttonâ€”the antiwar insurgent candidate Eugene McCarthy, that is, not Pegler’s pal Joe. When cops started assaulting protesters outside the convention hall, Burroughs immediately aligned himself with the radicals in the streets, declaring in a public statement that the “police acted in the manner of their species” and asking, “Is there not a municipal ordinance that vicious dogs be muzzled and controlled?” He then helped lead an illegal march that ran straight into a contingent of cops and National Guardsmen.
In doing this, he was not merely supporting the protesters’ civil liberties. He was aligning himself with one side of what he saw as a grand conflict. “This is a revolution,” he wrote in a 1970 article for the East Village Other, “and the middle will get the squeeze until there are no neutrals there.” Still later in his life, he would identify “American capitalism” as his foe, specifying: “the American Tycoon…William Randolph Hearst, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, that whole stratum of American acquisitive evil. Monopolistic, acquisitive evil.”
Burroughs’ influences ranged from Pegler to the ultra-left Situationist International, but the most important early source for his worldview was a man not normally thought of as a political writer at all. Jack Black was a former hobo and burglar whose memoir You Can’t Win engrossed the teenaged Burroughs, leaving a lasting impact on both his outlook and his literary voice. (Black’s first publication, a newspaper serial titled “The Big Break at Folsom,” was ghostwritten by a young reporter named Rose Wilder Lane, who would later play a formative role in the American libertarian movement.) It was Black’s description of an underground codeâ€”and his scattered references to the beggars and outlaws who embraced that code as an extended “Johnson Family”â€”that gave Burroughs’ rebellious streak an ideological framework.
A Johnson “just minds his own business of staying alive and thinks that what other people do is other people’s business,” Burroughs wrote in his 1985 book The Adding Machine. “Yes, this world would be a pretty easy and pleasant place to live in if everybody could just mind his own business and let others do the same. But a wise old black faggot said to me years ago: ‘Some people are shits, darling.'” In 1988, penning a preface for a reprint of Black’s book, Burroughs offered this account of the world’s core conflict: “A basic split between shits and Johnsons has emerged.”
Tom O’Donnell, in the New Yorker, has fun satirizing police work in an imaginary libertarian future. Libertarians like myself will enjoy it anyway. Get those central bankers!
I was shooting heroin and reading â€œThe Fountainheadâ€ in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.
â€œBad news, detective. We got a situation.â€
â€œWhat? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?â€
â€œWorse. Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollarsâ€™ worth of bitcoins.â€
The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. â€œWhat kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?â€
â€œNot yet. But mark my words: weâ€™re going to figure out who did this and weâ€™re going to take them down â€¦ provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.â€
â€œEasy, chief,â€ I said. â€œAny rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.â€
He laughed. â€œThatâ€™s why youâ€™re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry,â€ I said. â€œIâ€™m on it.â€
I put a quarter in the siren. Ten minutes later, I was on the scene. It was a normal office building, strangled on all sides by public sidewalks. I hopped over them and went inside.
Barbara Branden, first biographer of Ayn Rand, died Wednesday at age 84. Astonishingly a laudatory obituary written by James Peron was published on the Puffington Host .
One of the great figures in modern libertarianism has died today: Barbara Branden. Barbara, 84, was born in Winnipeg, Canada. It was there that she met her husband, Nathaniel Branden. And, while the couple divorced, Barbara was close to Nathaniel her entire life.
Barbara and Nathaniel became friends because of their mutual admiration for Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. While a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Nathaniel wrote a fan letter to Rand, who worked as a scriptwriter in the area. Rand called him and invited him to visit her home. On the second visit he brought Barbara with him. They married in 1954.
During the writing of Atlas Shrugged, Barbara was one of the small circle of friends allowed to read the manuscript while it was in process. In 1958 she and Nathaniel organized the Nathaniel Branden Institute, to present systematic presentations of Rand’s Objectivist philosophy. Barbara gave a series of lectures on Principles of Efficient Thinking.
She and Nathaniel divorced but remained friends for the rest of their lives. In 1984 she published a biography of Rand, The Passion of Ayn Rand, which was later made into a film with Helen Mirren and Eric Stoltz. Barbara was not entirely pleased with the film.
Barbara remained active in Objectivist and libertarian circles for her entire life. She offered a nuanced, always sympathetic perspective on Ayn Rand. While sometimes critical, she never lost her admiration for Ayn. Even though the Brandens had an acrimonious split with Rand, after a relationship between Ayn and Nathaniel ended, Barbara always told me that, knowing everything she knew then, she would do it all over again.
Henry Grady Weaver (1889â€“1949) worked as a mechanic, salesman, and draftsman before becoming director of customer research for General Motors. He was placed on the cover of the November 14, 1938 issue of Time magazine.
“Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own. The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional do-gooders, who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.”
The always-combative Ann Coulter takes on John Stossel before an audience of liberaltarian kiddies, whose prime issues happen to be legalized pot and Gay Marriage.
I’m a libertarian myself, and entirely in favor of abolishing all drug laws, but I do agree with Ann Coulter that there are currently larger issues under contention. I also agree with her that soi disant “libertarians” today far too commonly are a lot more interested in cosying up to the left-wing community of fashion on social issues than fighting against Socialism and Statism. I think she is quite right in calling them pussies.
As to Gay Marriage, Coulter is again perfectly right. Universal Marriage Equality currently exists. Everyone has exactly the same right to marry as anybody else.
It is not “equality” to redefine a fundamental institution in order to gratify the fantasies and pretensions of a subculture self-organised on the basis of a shared penchant for participating in sexually perverted activities.
Gay Marriage is not about equality. It is about securing formal recognition and approval of sexual perversity by government and making the moral and social equality of inversion enforceable by the state. And, like Ann Coulter, my own position is to hell with that. The rest of us may owe the sodomitically-inclined tolerance of private activities involving consenting adults, but we do not owe them public approval or the coercive modification of the moral opinions of American society in general.
One wishes this debate had been better-formatted and more substantive, but Coulter’s “take no prisoners” approach is always fun to watch.
I was reading this morning The Washingtonian’s gossipy account of the ongoing Ed Crane-Koch Brothers struggle for control of Cato Institute. The saga was a predictable enough story revolving around the often-inevitable friction produced by the interaction of colorful personalities and over-sized egos.
“Why can’t we all just get along?” I was wondering to myself until I came up to the part of the account describing what is usually spoken of as “the Koch Brothers’ nefarious attempt to pack Cato’s board with non-libertarians.”
In December 2010, Charles Koch called the first meeting of Catoâ€™s shareholders since 1981. Cato now had four shareholders: Charles and David Koch, Ed Crane, and William Niskanen, Catoâ€™s aging chairman emeritus. The Kochs used their shares to appoint two new directors to Catoâ€™s board: Nancy Pfotenhauer and Kevin Gentry.
Crane and Niskanen were stunned. Pfotenhauer was a former spokesperson for Republican John McCainâ€™s presidential campaign. She had supported the Iraq War and the Armyâ€™s â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tellâ€ policyâ€”positions that run counter to libertarian ideals. Kevin Gentry was vice chairman of the Virginia Republican Party and a top executive at the Charles Koch Foundation.
â€œWhatever they are, they are not libertarians,â€ says Bob Levy, Catoâ€™s board chairman.
And, then I blew my top.
I have always considered myself a libertarian. Regular readers here will observe the appearance of regular postings indicating a strong sentimental attachment to Ayn Rand. I’m opposed to Big Government, most taxes and regulation, and all victimless crime laws. If it were up to me, we’d roll just about all of our ways of doing things right back to the point they were at before the Progressive Movement came along. In my ideal America, the federal government would occupy a campus the size of one of those affluent California high schools and you could buy heroin from vending machines with gold coins featuring images of Indians, mythical beings, and Big Game animals.
But, lo and behold, I find today that, according to Ed Crane and the merry band of liberaltarians at Cato, if you are not a peace creep/pacifist and a subscriber to the homosexual political movement’s complete agenda, you have been re-defined, at some point in time when I wasn’t paying attention, as “not a libertarian.”
Well, Go, Koch Brothers! is all I have to say. The sooner control of so-called libertarian institutions is returned to libertarians who are still part of the Conservative Movement the better.
My own opinion is that the left-leaning soi disant libertarians who eagerly hasten to defend the supposed rights of terrorists and the cause of America’s overseas enemies, the kind of libertarians who embrace the use of government for coercive social engineering, the kind of libertarians who prize moral latitudinarianism and egalitarianism above liberty represent essentially a kind of liberal fifth column, functioning most effectively in confusing the issues and dividing the opposition to statism and the Jacobin left.
Lets assume your motive is constitutional and not because you are a drug user. I think then we can agree on a few things:
1) Most of the drugs that are now illegal are harmful and possibly fatal to use as prescribed. I doubt you believe crack is good for you so Iâ€™m going to assume you agree with this.
2)If someone forced my to take crack (or cocaine or heroin etc) they would be assaulting me perhaps even guilty of attempted murder. Again it is a no brainer so I will assume you agree.
3)A child under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to things an adult can consent to. If someone gives my child drugs and my child cannot consent legally then they are â€œforcingâ€ my child into a harmful/deadly act. Again, a no brainer. About now you are beginning to see where Iâ€™m going with this and are looking left and right for a way out.
4)Anyone who tries to kill/assault/attack my child has stepped over a deadly line and I have a constitutional right to protect their life and use deadly force. I assume suddenly you arenâ€™t agreeing with libertarian interpretations of the constitution and want to disagree with me even if it forces you to flip-flop on your beliefs. So thatâ€™s it! I will agree to accept that drugs should be legal and we have a constitutional right to put poison in our body if we choose AND you agree that I have a constitutional right to protect myself and my minor children and I can constitutionally use deadly force . Yes! I am saying legalize drugs and tell parents they can shoot anyone selling, sharing or giving their child drugs. All in all I think it is a good compromise, what do you think?
Like most people who attended college when the Baby Boom generation was young, I did heaps and piles of all kinds of drugs. I’m now getting on in years and am long past all that. I have long since quit smoking, and am obliged to watch my diet fairly carefully. I wish I could do all the things I used to do at age 20 in exactly as carefree a fashion now as then, but there is no possibility of such a thing at all. I do get plenty of drugs, though. I have several prescriptions for regulating blood pressure and so on that I have to take every day.
I have enough experience of life to know perfectly well that some people will kill themselves using drugs recklessly and excessively. But I also know that actually an even larger number of people will inevitably proceed to ruin their lives and kill themselves with alcohol.
We recognized, long ago, that alcohol prohibition didn’t really stop people from drinking. It merely created a hugely profitable black market and caused a nationwide wave of crime and violence. Legal alcohol is associated with harm, but in fact produces much less harm.
If you raise your children properly and they do not inherit special weaknesses and neuroses, they ought to be able to drink alcohol and use drugs responsibly and without major untoward consequences at appropriate ages and occasions like most people.
If drugs were not especially forbidden, there would no drug dealers for you to shoot.
James Delingpole is not only sound on Anthropogenic Global Warming pseudo-scientific fraud, he is able to articulate the fundamental moral problem with drug prohibition quite succinctly.
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) â€” Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul decried the â€œwar on drugsâ€ Thursday night, telling supporters in Washington state that people should be able to make their own decisions on such matters.
Voters in Washington are likely to decide this year whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana
â€œIf we are allowed to deal with our eternity and all that we believe in spiritually, and if weâ€™re allowed to read any book that we want under freedom of speech, why is it we canâ€™t put into our body whatever we want?â€ Paul told more than 1,000 people at a rally in Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Ore.
Yep. Go on… friends. Tell me: why not???
In a follow-up post, Peter Robinson quotes Milton Friedman in support of Delingpole.
The Suicide Vest theory: let the GOP blow itself to smithereens with a Santorum nomination, then libertarians can come pick up the pieces.
Hereâ€™s my libertarian case for Rick Santorumâ€™s nomination (though not his election). Since the early 1990s, Christian conservatives have formed an ever larger portion of the GOP. In Santorum, they would have what they have long sought: a candidate embodying their commitments to a politics of faith. Neoconservatives would also have a candidate committed to transforming the world through foreign policy and military action. The Obama-Santorum race would be more than just a struggle for power between two men. It would be a referendum on ideas and policies that have dominated the GOP for more than decade.
One recent poll has the former senator running even with Obama, but most polls have shown a decided gap of about eight points between the incumbent and Santorum. Right now the latter is not well-known to most voters. As Santorum becomes better known, he might close the gap with Obama. More likely, I think he would drive more secular and independent voters away from the GOP ticket. A ten-point Republican loss in a year when economic weakness suggested a close race would be a political disaster not just for the candidate and his party but also for the ideas they embody. Rick Santorum could be the George McGovern of his party.
Such a disaster might open the door for a different kind of GOP along lines indicated earlier, a party of free markets, moral pluralism, and realism in foreign affairs. Ron Paul has taken some steps this year toward creating such a party. He has attracted votes and inspired activism. His son or another candidate might take up the cause in 2016 and build on Paulâ€™s achievements. Fanciful thinking? Perhaps, but it may take an electoral disaster to free the GOP from the ideas and forces that Rick Santorum represents.