The Mission

It has come to my attention that the major real political conflict in this country isn't between "Liberals" and "Conservatives". Those terms are meaningless; rather, it's between authoritarians and those of us who believe in the importance of liberty. The Liberal - Conservative split makes people think there are substantive differences between the major candidates, which allows for anyone who questions the dominant authoritarian ideology to be marginalized and ignored by the media and the political establishment.

This state of affairs is absurd, dangerous, is ruining our society. The time is ripe for those of us recognize the value of freedom to find common cause. Once we are "free to choose," to quote Milton Friedman, the "issues" that divide us will become increasingly irrelevant. For those on the right that think that capitalism is the "end of history," we'll have a chance to see if you're right. For those, like me, who lean left towards a labor-theory of value, authoritarianism was proven to be the anathema of any sort of socialist development by Stalinism. If a socialist future is possible, it'll emerge from a fully developed free market, not the distorted, corrupt, bureaucratic system we now have in place.

Before we can figure out which future is the possible one, however, we need to stop our country's slide towards tyranny. Every consolidation of police power, every expansion of the national debt, and every narrowing of the national debate by the authoritarian media ("Liberal" and "Conservative") is a step backwards towards the abyss of tyranny and barbarism. Let's stop this slide and reignite the fires of human progress and liberty that were once the defining feature of our republic. In 2008 we need to cast aside our arbitrary party loyalties and fight, with all of our strength, for freedom and the future.

Monday, October 6, 2008

New locale

The show that I've been working on in the past few months, American Socialism for the Rich seems to be going well so far. As a result, we've just set up a group blog for the show, and I will be moving my writing over there (and will be attempting to write more regularly :)). The address is . To (hopefully) bigger and better things.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Marcy Kaptur lays out the rules of the bailout...

She outlines the specifics of the political tactics that raised huge red flags for me. I don't agree with all of her solutions, but the critique is wonderful.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mike Whitney of the Current Economic Crisis

A very insightful article from Counterpunch.

Me on the TV!!

So a few friends in Burlington who I met through the Ron Paul movement have decided to do a public access show entitled "American Socialism for the Rich". Here's the first three segments of the first episode; more as they are posted :).

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Logic of the Anti-Paul Forum Poster

This was my response to the discourse on the message board of this attack on Ron Paul:

JINGOIST, your post perfectly illustrates the defining difference between Paul supporters and those who support an aggressive, interventionist foreign policy. The difference in the views are obvious and don't need to be dealt with further. However, what has become obvious between reading this message board and others similar to it is the dramatically different standards of epistemology between the two groups.

Paul supporters are used to operating in a broad coalition that includes people from a wide range of view-points coming together to work for a common cause. It'd be a lie to say that there aren't Leftists in the RP movement; I know because I'm one of them. However, I can also say that I'm in a small minority, and that most of the left distrusts Dr. Paul because of his views on limited government. This being the case, we Paul supporters find it hard to make *a priori* ideological assumptions in our own community forums, since there are people who we respect as allies and friends who will happily and decisively refute a poorly reasoned argument. Therefore, claims made by Paul supporters to other Paul supporters must be based upon facts whose sources are from outside of the Paul community. This dynamic is reflected in the Pro-Paul positions taken in this forum. Since Paul supporters are used to discourse that is both contentious and rational, the statements made by Paul supporter in this discussion are verifiable external to both the Ron Paul and the FrontPageMag milieus.

The epistemological standards for the FrontPageMag community, on the other hand, have a different basis. Rather than being and ideologically heterogenous group who come together for a practical purpose (electing Dr. Paul), the primary tie of the FrontPageMag community is shared ideological commitment. To be part of the community, one must accept a certain set of *a priori* beliefs, and all action by the community flows from those beliefs. Therefore, while Paulite arguments require the invocation of independently verifiable sources in order to be considered valid by Paulites, FPMagers do not. Rather, for an argument to be valid it must first adhere to the ideological framework of the community; only after it has done so will it be entertained as a possibility.

This dynamic is beautifully outlined by the following exchange:

"Posted at 10:09PM on 11/29/07 by Tesla921
Why do you suppose Dr. Paul gets more donations from military personell than any other candidate? Why do you suppose he wins almost every debate that you can't spam?
Reply To This | Flag As Offensive

Posted at 6:38AM on 11/30/07 by JINGOIST
Tesla you radicals are almost exactly like leftists, you seem to lie about everything. Let's go through the whoppers and the slanders that you've vomited forth at this fine forum.

1. Ron Paul gets more donations from the military than anyone else. I was active duty for six years and I can tell you that's a load of CRAP! We would NEVER have sent a backstabbing buffoon like him one thin dime.

2. "Why do you suppose he wins every debate"...and then Tesla wakes up! I felt like changing the poor guy's diaper DURING the debate. The poor fool soiled himself! The truth is that he loses EVERY legitimate poll surrounding those debates. YOU weirdos are the ones that spam the text polls, you think we didn't notice that?
I guess the ends justifies the means, eh tesla?

3. "How many innocent children has the Administration killed this month?"
Now I see why you support Ron Paul, you're just as stupid as him! You guys need to grow up! Loser."

First, Tesla makes an externally verifiable statement that Ron Paul has received more donations from active duty military personnel than has any other Republican candidate. Evidence of this can be found outside the Ron Paul community; for instance, this article in the Weekly Standard, which is opposed to Dr. Paul and tries to downplay the significance of the donations, nonetheless doesn't deny reality:
However, since such a situation does not fit into the FP Mag's community's ideological framework, it cannot be accepted as true. Thus, JINGOIST responds; not with an external source attempting to debunk the importance of the donations (such as the one that I just cited above), but rather with an unverifiable personal anecdote concerning JINGOIST'S experience in the military many years ago. Since the "evidence" is entirely based upon JINGOIST's subjective perception, it has no external validity as a statement.

This is obvious to Paul supporters; however, it is not so to members of the FP Mag community, since it adheres to their standards of epistemology. Since Tesla's statement does not present a view of the world that is consistent with their ideology, the must either reject it unexamined in order to preserve their belief system or experience the cognitive dissonence that would be generated by the modification of FP Magers' view of the military as an entity that is undivided in its support of interventionist foreign policy. This would in turn undermine the idea that it is war critics who are undermining the war effort and betraying the idealized, mythic concept of "the troops".

JINGOIST's other two points follow the same logic, privileging the subjective over the objectively verifiable. In terms of the debate, "who wins" is determined by who JINGOIST believes wins according to his individual value system, rather than being reflected by the plurality of those who responded to viewings of the debates. In his last response, he doesn't even engage the statement. Rather, he invokes the bogeyman of the "leftist", as he cannot understand that the Paul community is an alliance of people with many different ideologies, as opposed to a community that defines its identity in relation to one monolithic ideology.

Finally, I'd just like to point out how Paulianwatch is the platonic ideal of the thesis of this post. Whereas most of the anti-Paul people at least pay some respect to the idea of rational discourse, e.g. using correctly constructed grammatical structure, Paulianwatch is a typing pure form of ideology. Instead of arguing when responding to a post, he simply spits out disembodied concepts. For instance:

Posted at 6:59PM on 11/27/07 by paulianwatch
OHHH Frank,You big patriot you ....Dr no has voted not once but twice to CUT OFF FUNDS FOR THE TROOPS ! Is that patriotic ?.......ITS POLITICS BUD ! YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER ! ITS THE JOOOOS THE JOOOS LOL LOL !

By looking at Paulianwatch's many posts, it is possible to construct a fairly compete pictures of the boundaries of this ideology; e.g. fear of "Islamofascism", unconditional support of Israel (with any hesitation or skepticism to be punished with accusations of antisemitism), the fetishization of the abstract idealized concept of "the troops", etc. Paulianwatch's responses to the slightly more rationally oriented responses of other anti-Paul posters further reinforce this idea. He responds uncritically and in such a way that indicates an intense emotional response, e.g.

Posted at 4:33PM on 11/28/07 by paulianwatch
So true it hurts !!!

He is the pure form of the true believer who attempts to gain acceptance into the group by believing uncritically the pure version of the group's ideology. He receives emotional gratification every time it is affirmed, but receives a terrifying threat to his tenuous identity (and therefore social acceptance in a community) every time it is challenged. To use a high-school sports analogy, he's like the towelboy on the basketball team. All of the other people actually have skills and social status, so he makes up for his inadequacy by being as ingratiating as possible to the team and having obsessive school spirit. If/when his current identity and ideology receives a death blow, he's the sort of personality who will perform the same role in whatever belief system he ascribes to. He couldn't make it in the Paul camp, since the specifics of the beliefs he holds aren't important; what is important is that he has beliefs given to him so he doesn't have to face the terrifying prospect of thinking for himself and coming up with new and critical ideas. A community in which there is more than one belief system floating around would be too terrifying for him.

In conclusion, if any of you are interested in truly rational discourse, you're welcome to shoot me an email or post on my blog (I'll be posting this post there) at I'd be happy to engage most of you, as we all care deeply about the future of this country. This invitation does not, however, does not extend to paulianwatch; you've proven yourself here to be immature and to contribute nothing to the dialog aside from worthless affirmation. In any case, thanks for reading this ridiculously long post ;)
RP '08