Lunchtime Links

  1. Are there “hidden taxes” on women in the US? | Do risk preferences account for some of the gender pay gap?
  2. The Military Origins of Urban Prosperity in Europe | Rules of warfare in pre-modern societies
  3. What is the War Powers Act of 1973, and why does it matter? | Thinking about libertarian foreign policy
  4. American and Russian soldiers are shooting at each other in Syria | Why care about Syrians?
  5. State decay and “patchwork” | Laws, Juridification, and the Administrative State
  6. Conservatives and their contempt for detail in governance | Fascism Explained
  7. No, fascism can’t happen here (in the US) | The Gradual, Eventual Triumph of Liberty

Around the Web

  1. What if Leo Strauss was right?
  2. How many people does the War on Drugs put in prison?
  3. Sympathy for the Devil: Palestine’s Tragic Collaborators (movie review of Omar)
  4. The Other Somalia
  5. Do black people have equal gun rights?
  6. Strategy of Condescension

Cat-calling, free speech, and the continued cannibalization of the Left

The National Review has an excellent piece out by Charles Cooke on that video about catcalls that recently went viral (if you haven’t seen it yet, or don’t know what it is, here, and get out from under that rock). The article highlights well the continued crisis that Leftist circles have been in since the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Aside from continuing to defend the likes of Fidel Castro at the superficial, political level, the intellectual depravity of the Left is on full display thanks to the work of the people who made the video. Here is Cooke, for instance, on one of the more popular versions of the Left’s criticism of the video; the one arguing that most of the men – who were largely black or Latino – catcalling the girl were forced into doing so simply because of the white power structure in place (no seriously):

To contend that the minorities depicted in the video are mere victims of circumstance and that they have been forced by their conditions into badgering innocent women on the street is to contend that those minorities lack agency, intelligence, sensitivity, and the capacity to reason — that they are child-like figures who act on their base instincts and who need excusing and explaining by their betters. Oddly enough, it is also to contend that the victim was either a “white gentrifier” herself, or a proxy for white gentrifiers, and that she therefore deserved the treatment she received. This presumption, it should go without saying, is typically anathema to the arbiters of feminist thought. One cannot help but wonder whether, weighed down by their own contradictions, the champions of “empowerment” have at last become what they despise themselves?

Eastern Europe knows these contradictions well. It’s a damn shame more Westerners don’t. Here is Cooke again, on the attempt by the organization (“Hollaback”) to defend free speech by advocating legislation that would ban catcalling:

The case for a robust — almost impregnable — protection of freedom of speech stands on its own and applies to all people. It is as tyrannical an act to prosecute a rich man for his utterances as it is to target a poor one. Nevertheless, should Hollaback get its way and provoke the passage of an anti-cat-calling law, it would likely be the poor who would bear the brunt of its force. Such rules would be enforced capriciously, and those without power would find themselves hauled into court more than those with connections. As has been demonstrated by the new anti–“rape culture” rules that are sweeping the nation’s college campuses, there is always a price to illiberalism, and that price is often paid by a downtrodden and less powerful group. As kindly as possible, I would recommend that if anybody believes that the problem of unwanted male attention warrants the infringement of the First Amendment, they should re-examine their priorities.

Again, the entire piece is well worth the read. I’ve only highlighted the general issues Cooke takes up with the video controversy, but his work pointing out how the Left is essentially eating itself is quite lucid.

In some ways, the post-socialist Left has remained relevant since the fall of the Berlin Wall, as the growing-in-number anti-“rape culture” rules highlighted above attest, but in the most general, important way, the Left continues to become more and more irrelevant as its ethnic and gender elements contextualize and re-contextualize themselves into irrelevancy. At the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of individuals and nobody should get special treatment because of the color of their skin or the thing between their legs. The fact that humanity has a long history of doing just this – awarding special privileges to some at the expense of the many – is both a) a testament to the radicalism and the simple brilliance of libertarianism, and b) a really, really good reason not to continue to pursue policies that do just that (even if such policies are meant to correct past injustices).*

It’s also nice to see that the Right-wing National Review is becoming more libertarian when it comes to issues of race and gender. I also see the Clintonian Left becoming slightly more libertarian (thanks in large part, I think, to the realization of what Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid have been doing to our purchasing power parity).

* I support some kind of reparations system, here in the US, for stolen land and stolen labor but this has nothing to do with skin color or gender when you think about it.

Would A Libertarian Military Be More Lethal?

This is the question that military attorney David French asks and answers over at National Review:

I’m noticing military libertarianism increasing, not decreasing, among the more politically aware and engaged officers and enlisted […]

Frustration with bureaucracy and deep skepticism of nation-building and foreign entanglements should not be confused with weakness or wishful thinking […] Military libertarians tend to know how savage our enemy is. Moreover, they have no hesitancy to use overwhelming force in defense of the nation. After all, national defense is a core function of government even in a more libertarian state. In my (admittedly anecdotal) experience, thoughtful military libertarians tend to advocate something we haven’t really tried in our more than decade-long fight against Islamic jihad — the relatively brief application of truly overwhelming destructive force against identified enemies.

That’s why I wonder if a libertarian military might be more lethal, even on smaller budgets. A trimmed-down bureaucracy, an increased emphasis on the destructive rather than nation-building capabilities of the force under arms, and doctrines designed to inflict maximum (non-nuclear) destruction on enemy forces rather than transforming and democratizing communities — all of this could add up to a more lethal (yet smaller) military.

Indeed. What do you think? I know I’ve made this argument plenty of times before, and it has basically been the standard minarchist line on foreign policy since the Enlightenment, yet somehow this seems to be a new concept for not only libertarians but others as well?

I don’t get it. How have we not been able to communicate this idea more effectively over the years?

I understand that rent seeking plays an important role in our failure, as does the fact that our arguments must compete with demagogues, but I don’t fully see why the libertarian foreign policy argument isn’t more understandable.

One thing that French forgets to mention is that the threat of facing an American military that no longer cares about winning the hearts and minds of its enemies will also contribute to a decline in wars. The inability to connect this implication – that of a more peaceful world – with a leaner, meaner American military force also baffles me.

Here is the relevant reddit thread on the link in question.

Update: Over the next month or so, I’m going to disaggregate a dialogue about foreign policy that I had with Dr Delacroix in 2011. It is different from the earlier dialogue on foreign policy that we held.