30 December 2009

How Dare They!

Is there anywhere a democrat that actually believes in democracy? Is there anywhere a supporter of democracy that will not complain sullenly when too many votes are found to be for a candidate not sanctioned by the democrats in chief?

This Sunday the first round of presidential elections were held in Croatia, a measly 44% of the electorate bothered to turn up. Just over 50% of them threw in their votes for party candidates. The other half went for independent candidates, that were running without the backing of any party with a foothold in the parliament. This spurned political analysts to get busy explaining how this amounts to something of a crisis of parliamentarism.

The low turnout and low support for their candidates certainly robs the parliamentary parties of some of their cover of legitimacy. Their claim to be representing the people rings hollower. However the much more interesting thing this election showcased is just how much democrats hate elections – if they do not like the results.

As soon as the results were published the opinion pages of many a respectable paper came out with expressions of shock and disbelief that the candidate to place second and secure the participation in the second round could be one Milan Bandić. His sin? Why his winning would devalue the presidency!

You see, Milan Bandić is a crude, unsophisticated, uneducated, occasionally vulgar, openly crooked mayor of Zagreb. He does not comprehend there is a certain aura the people people in power are supposed to project. Just last month ago this urban hillbilly found himself ridiculed in the papers for hanging sausages and bacon for some air drying — on the balcony of his luxury apartment located in the centre of the city.

Amusement quickly turned to horror as he results of the first round came in indicating the 300,000 votes he received was going to be just enough for him to qualify for the two man runoff that will take place in a fortnight. Who are these people who voted for Bandić thundered the columnists! How simpleminded voter does it take to vote for such an illiterate, corrupt politician was the implication! He had been photographed picking his nose in public and fell asleep in the National Theatre! What utter disaster of a country where somebody like Mr.Bandić can be a viable presidential candidate they concluded!

In reality the people who voted for him are among the saner in the country. Indeed he is corrupt, the scandals surrounding him are many and well documented, but so are all politicians. People voting for him had demonstrated they understand this, they have understood that to be a politician is to be a crook. Thus they are unfazed by the scandals surrounding him. He stole, but everybody steals. What else is new?

Also they are clearly detached from the thinking that those with power are the betters of themselves. Not a single person who cast a ballot for Milan Bandić did so thinking he was casting a vote for someone brighter, wiser, more capable than himself. The man is so clearly an uncultured dolt that it precludes the possibility. Which means they understand that politicians or the ruling class are not the betters of the ruled. Bandić voters are the people who are of a low opinion of who politicians are and of low expectations as to what betterment they can deliver.

This is what truly enrages the columnists, for they on the contrary are the believers. They want to believe that only if the right person would come around all could be bettered! So they need offices neat and tidy, placed on a pedestal and safeguarded from devaluation until He arrives. To preserve the belief that if the ruling elites are not the betters, that they could and certainly should be!

How dare the Bandić voters mock their faith!

26 December 2009

Write Up

What will we include into the write up of the year? Maybe just this that the current head of the empire Barrack Obama has achieved in a year what it took Bill Clinton seven to accomplish. He has had US military kill people in five different countries. His targets were in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. A question here, does bombing five different countries make you an interventionism ace?

Barrack H. Obama?

Imperialism - The Culprits

Power is enslaving. Those possessed of it invariably place themselves into the service of expanding it further. The crudest way for rulers in which to do this is to grab more territories for themselves to rule. It is also the method which in the short term carries the greatest amount of risk. Outcome of any war is determined by so many factors that it is seldom a foregone conclusion. However we can in general determine what sort of realms will in the long term tend to be more successful at attempts at territorial expansion and also more likely to attempt such expansion for that hinges on only a few factors.

The first determinant is geographic position. A realm surrounded by more powerful neighbours is unlikely to attempt or succeed at expansion. A realm surrounded by weaker neighbours is likely to attempt and succeed at expansion. A landlocked realm has less outlets for potential expansion and is less likely to expand. A realm with a wide access to sea routes has many more outlets for expansionism and is more likely to expand. A realm in a geographically strategic region or a region geographically susceptible to invasion is likely to find itself locked in a constant struggle against invasion itself and is less likely to develop to a point where it can launch mayor expansion of its own. On the contrary a realm in a geographically secure location, such as an island, is likely to be granted longer periods of peace which are a boon to development of every sort including of the potential for expansion.

The second determinant is orientation of the sovereign inwards or outwards. A sovereign who spends his resources internally, on controlling and enslaving the populace within his realm is left with less resources to spend externally. Obviously wealth that is spent on building prisons can not be spend on raising an army. The third factor is the ability of the sovereign to appropriate the resources within his realm for his own use. All other things being equal a sovereign which can appropriate a great portion of the resources within his jurisdiction will obviously in the immediate have an advantage over a sovereign who can succeeded in appropriating only a small portion of resources in his jurisdiction for his own use. The forth factor is the absolute amount of resources within the realm. This means the aggregate of availability of strategically important natural resources, the number of population and most crucially the level of wealth within the sovereign's jurisdiction.

23 December 2009

Saakashvili's Turkmenbashi Moment

As Mikheil Saakashvili`s rule in Georgia is becoming more dictatorial, the empowerment of his persona`s lunacy is reaching absurd levels. Initially marketed as a modern, slick, clever and educated politician it soon became clear he was not quite all there when he threw his military of 35 thousand into a war against the largest country on Earth.

Recently, in his the most bizzare act jet, he decreed the parliament be moved away from Tbilisi to Georgia`s second largest city Kutaisi. Choosing for it from all the sites in and around the city - one already taken by a 46 metres tall monument to the memory of eighty thousand Georgians who fell in the ranks of Red Army in the Second World War.

To avoid announced rallies against this state vandalism interfering with his reprehensible plan the demolition of the imposing monument was carried out two days ahead of schedule and was so rushed that it resulted in deaths of two people, mother and daughter, that were hit by debris.

In the end Saakashvili desecrated the memory of Georgian WWII fallen to send a message, what message and to whom only he knows, and caused deaths of a woman and a child in the process, jet it has been barely reported on in the West and then only in carefully chosen terms. Too embarrassing for them that their vassal is becoming more and more like Saparmurat Niyazov "Turkmenbashi" or perhaps Idi Amin. An erratic, authoritarian lunatic.

In the mean time official Russia has declared willingness to recreate the monument in Moscow, so the Georgian Red Army fallen may be honoured there if under Saakashvili they can no longer be honoured in Kutaisi.

PS, I should thank Stanislav Mishin over at Mat Rodina for writting about this event or I would have surely missed it.

Of Meek Words

One hindrance when writing about the state from the libertarian point of view in English is that words having to do with the state are just not sinister enough. Lets take a closer look.

First the word government. Such a meek word. One can govern the people, but one can also govern his ranch. So the word means to rule but can also mean, to administer. Well it is much harder to rile up against administrators than it is to rile up about rulers. There is no such lack of clarity in Slovene. The word for the government is vlada, stems from vladati, to rule. With vladar being ruler. No other meaning to it. Much more menacing. Much easier to hate.

Lets take authority. It can mean coercive political power, but one can also be an authority on cocker spaniel breeding. There is no such confusion in Slovene. Authority in the political sense is oblast. Oblastnik or one who wields political power is another word for a despot. There is no oblastnik on cocker spaniels. Furthermore it is a word that shares the root -last with the word for property, lastnina, implying that all those under the oblast are akin to property. Much better, a term simply inviting you to hate it!

Then there is the state, a neutral term, albeit one that is also neutral in Slovene. Država, comes from drža or stance. Nothing sinister about it. However we can look for help in Russian, a different language from the Slavonic branch, where the state is gosudarstvo. Gosudar being master or lord. No pretence of harmlessness here. Marvellous!

The next word to take issue with, albeit for different reasons, is the noun rules. How terrible that a word like that should share a root with ruler. It can mislead into believing that rules come from rulers. In Slovene rules are pravila coming from -prav or that which is right. Incidentally also the root for pravda and pravice, justice and rights respectively.

On a similar note, the word anarchy in English can mean absence of rulers but it can also mean lawlessness. The native Slovene terms for anarchy have this kept apart. Absence of rulers is brezvladje, absence of laws brezzakonje.

Apaprently whatever else has, being at the forefront of liberal thought and having Rights of Englishmen done for the Anglo-Saxons, it has apparently made a great mess of their language, making it a bummer to argue against political authority in it.

22 December 2009

What "Regulation"?

There are few words more tiresome than "regulation"? Is there anything more tiring that listening to declared enemies of the market supposedly only desiring the market be regulated? Or declared friends of the market energetically combating the regulation of non-market entities?

To regulate means to order. But when using the word to regulate nobody actually means to order, to make orderly, what they mean is to restrict.

Parties engaging in market interactions are - because neither wields power over another - capable of establishing the terms under which they interact without the need of a third party. But when opponents of the market scream for the need to regulate voluntary interactions they do not mean that rules of such interaction should be established. What they mean is that the ability of entities to engage in such interactions should be restricted. However a policy actually stated in such terms would not find much support.

Simultaneously phony free marketeers scramble to the defense of governmental and semi-governmental institutions disingenuously screaming about the evil of their being regulated. What they actually fear are not rules under which the government will do this or that. What they fear is that restrictions would be placed upon these entities in terms of what they can do and when. Naturally they can not state so openly, for only among very few would a policy of permitting the government free reign find support.

Regulation is a word whose meaning has been so obscured that the would be enslavers can promote their stance either as being for regulation or for being against regulation. The real issue is not more or less regulation, the issue is what should be restricted and what should not be restricted. Obviously enough, all that which is voluntary should not be restricted in any way, and all of which is forceful should be restricted in full. Therefore while the market should be left unrestricted, the coercive government should be restricted as much as possible. Ideally so many restrictions would be placed on the government that it would find itself unable to do anything at all and be therefore effectively abolished.

16 December 2009

There Is An Easier Way To Do This

In the news today, between 26,000 and 56,000 hirelings (camp followers?) are to accompany the 30,000 reinforcements Obama has ordered into Afghanistan. This is going to take their number in country to somewhere between 130,000 and 160,000. With the projected number of occupiers in state issued uniforms after the new 30,000 Americans and additional 5,000 NATO auxiliaries land, at almost 140,000, this means that the occupation is going to be made up of a staggering 270 to 300 thousand bodies.

This is an overkill. It should be possible to lose a war with much less troops and at a far lesser cost.

15 December 2009

Who Won the War Anyway?

Not the USA that is for sure. Russia and China join the Iranians and the Shias as the big winners of the Iraq War as their oil companies buy up oil fields before the noses of their American counterparts.

05 December 2009

More Broken Veterans

In the news today, a 20-year old Iraq War veteran stabs to death two of his friends, also soldiers. If some of these troops can snap to such a degree stateside, then just what exactly are they capable of doing in Iraq, to the civilians there, where they will get away with it.

It is a tragic story for everyone involved, but for none more so than for the people under occupation to where wrecked soldiers like these are sent and given power over the populace there.

04 December 2009

Imperialism - The Fundamentals

Originally an emperor was a ruler who recognised no limitations to his power. Besides proclaiming his word law and claiming a unique connection with the divine an emperor by definition recognised no other ruler as his equal. He was above mere kings and recognised no imperial title but his own. In fact since technically there could only be one emperor under the sun, in as much he did not rule over the whole of creation this was only a consequence of a certain barbarian part of the globe being unworthy of his attention or alternatively a slight against his person and a strictly temporary condition.

Therefore technically an empire is a state which recognises no other realm as its equal and, provided it sees them worth the hassle, seeks to incorporate them all. In practice this definition is too narrow to be useful. In Europe it is only meaningful until the end of antiquity when the emperor, ceasing to have divine properties, progressively became just another title a ruler could claim up to the point when even Simeon I of Bulgaria, a powerful ruler but only in regional terms, could style himself an emperor (tsar).

Another definition of what makes an empire can be looked for in the etymology of the word. In Latin imperium means power, in the sense of possessing coercive authority over someone. This is a tempting definition of imperialism – to rule over anyone but yourself – for a libertarian to adopt, but is too broad to be practical. From a libertarian viewpoint any claim to right to rule over anyone at all is illegitimate no matter what. However if the claim is perceived to be legitimate, most of all by those subject to the rule themselves, then the claim for all practical purposes carries with it the same consequences as if it would indeed be legitimate.

Rather an empire is a state whose claim to power is in some part, no matter how small or large, illegitimate not just philosophically (as every state is) but also illegitimate in practice because it is not lent legitimacy by a critical mass of people. Sometimes this crisis of legitimacy can be present over the whole geographic extent of the empire, but usually it is present only in certain regions.

02 December 2009

Spokesman Obama

Most educational to observe reactions to the Obama performance at West Point. Barrack H. Obama needed a long-winded speech in front of hundreds of grey coated military bureaucrats-in-training to officially announce that USA is going to escalate the bloodshed in Afghanistan.

FOX News quickly concluded it is a sound policy, but a terrible speech. He was not enthusiastic enough. They resent Obama for not delivering a more energetic performance, for not acting like he is really hot for the idea. Bill O'Reilly even found himself wondering, "where is the table pounding". They got all they wanted in the way of policy, jet they were unhappy because they have not gotten a more bloodthirsty speech.

Perhaps they are in the right. Perhaps instead of concentrating on the policy that had just been announced the real news was the performance. Perhaps that is the real role of presidents. Not to direct the state bureaucracy (theoretically on behalf of the people), but to act as its spokesmen and sell its policy to the populace.

That would mean the elections are more like pop idol contests. There not to choose the next supreme ruler, but to provide some amusement and for the part of the populace that can be bothered to help pick a face they would most like to see on television for the next few years.

It would not be that shocking to discover presidents are mere captives to the cogs of the bureaucratic state. Even the supposedly absolutist monarchs of the 18th century frequently felt that their power had been taken hostage by the bureaucracies they themselves had created. And they were appointed by God. Compared to that what is the 70 million votes in a semi-free election that Obama has for a sanction?

The phenomena is all the more likely now with still more expansive bureaucracies of the present day. Albeit Obama's electoral programme included the notion of an Afghanistan surge, once in office it often seemed as if additional pressure to actually go through with it was being applied, even openly through the media, by the state's top military bureaucrats who seemingly wanted it a lot more than he did.

In fact as far as we can tell his whole mode of operation consist of trying to please everyone and of making concessions on his every step, even when there was seemingly no reason for him to do so. Let us just recall the assurances given to AIPAC, the hiring of superhawk Hillary, reversing himself on the torture photos, renditions, trials and other issues concerning the prisoners of the terror war.

It is possible he is the first American president who is truly nothing but a facade, a performer. With Obama one gets the feeling the head of the state is somebody who went to school for presidential doubles. True, Bush was also an actor. But Dubya was playing the role of a cowboy. He was pretending he was a rancher from Texas who throws in grill parties for his neighbours. Obama actually looks like someone who is pretending he is the president. He says he is, but he is not quite sure whether he believes it himself.