Thomas Woods, Jr. on Popularizing Freedom and Why Real Libertarian Conservatives Are Anti-State and Anti-War
The Daily Bell is pleased to publish an interview with the distinguished libertarian scholar, Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
Introduction: Dr. Woods is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard and his master's, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is the author of nine books, including two New York Times bestsellers: Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse and The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. His other books include Who Killed the Constitution? The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush (with Kevin R.C. Gutzman), Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass, 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, and The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy. His writing has appeared in dozens of popular and scholarly periodicals, including the American Historical Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Investor's Business Daily, Catholic Historical Review, Modern Age, American Studies, Intercollegiate Review, Catholic Social Science Review, Economic Affairs (U.K.), Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Inside the Vatican, Human Events and many more.
Daily Bell: Thanks for sitting down with us. It is an honor to interview you.
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: My pleasure.
Daily Bell: Can you give us some background. How did you come to be a leading libertarian scholar – if that's an acceptable term.
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I appreciate that, though it isn't false modesty when I say I'm uncomfortable with that kind of designation. Right now I think of my task as presenting important material to the general public and to students in a way that's easily understandable, and in a way that minimizes the amount of reading people need to do to get up to speed on (primarily) American history and Austrian economics. I have written some things that I think constitute original contributions to my field, like my book The Church Confronts Modernity, published by Columbia University Press, and The Church and the Market, on Catholic social teaching and Austrian economics. But these days I'm looking mainly to synthesize and explain.
Having said that, I've been really thrown for a loop by what's happened over the past 18 months or so. Suddenly I attend a conference and people know who I am, want their books signed, want pictures with me [!], and so on. I speak at a college campus and a good crowd shows up. I could not believe the reception I got at Ron Paul's CPAC event last February.
A lot of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time. A lot of people bought Meltdown when it came out, and I think the combination of that book, a few high-profile speeches, and the continuing growth in readership at LewRockwell.com (where I have an article archive) led to this quite unexpected situation.
Daily Bell: Can you summarize the basic points of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: That book argues that the received version of American history is a laughable, ideologically driven distortion of the truth, but one that benefits the state apparatus and its hangers-on. Naturally they want us to believe (among other things) the following:
1) Political decentralization is always bad. Anyone who favors it surely has sinister intentions. Real freedom comes from ceding all powers to the central government, which will employ those powers on behalf of progressive causes.
2) Without government, we'd all be mercilessly exploited by the wicked private sector, and scraping by on subsistence wages. That's what happened under the "robber barons" of the nineteenth century.
3) All the federal government's wars have been glorious and just.
The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History smashes all of these, and a great deal else.
Daily Bell: Can you do the same for Meltdown?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I wrote Meltdown because I could see the conventional wisdom – that the free market had caused the financial crisis, and that these blinkered laissez-faire ideologues needed to be put in their place – beginning to ossify. I wanted to make what to me was the obvious case for interventionism as the culprit in the crisis, and the market as the equally obvious solution. (Also, you'd have to be seriously deluded to consider Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, and monetary central planner Alan Greenspan to be laissez-faire ideologues.)
I was seeking to do two things: (1) get the free-market, or "Austrian," point of view before the public, so it would be clear that a plausible (and indeed compelling) alternative to the conventional wisdom existed; and (2) give supporters of the free market the understanding and the ammunition they needed to defend themselves against the inane claims being made by advocates for the state.
Daily Bell: Can you give us the top five books that someone interested in freedom and free-markets needs to read?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I recommend Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, Murray Rothbard's What Has Government Done to Our Money?, Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto, Lew Rockwell's The Left, the Right, and the State, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Democracy: The God that Failed. You will never look at things quite the same, and I'm pretty sure you'll be hooked.
Daily Bell: We consider the regulatory malpractices you identify in Meltdown to be somewhat incidental to the main culprit, which is central bank money manipulation. Agree? Disagree?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I agree, which is why I emphasize the Fed and the monetary system in my public speeches. Still, regulation can intensify the effects of the Fed's policy, and I think that's what happened here.
Daily Bell: What was it like going to Harvard? We consider that, in some ways, the "belly of the beast." Is that unfair? What was your experience like?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I had an absolute blast. The students were by and large on the left, as were the faculty. But there was so much to do, so many interesting people who came to speak, and so on. And yes, there were some propagandists on the faculty. You learned to avoid them. At some schools, particularly in the top tier, there is still respect for good work, solid research, and the integrity of one's discipline. People probably expect me to say that my years at Harvard and Columbia were miserable, that all I got was left-wing propaganda. But that isn't true – I got an excellent education at these institutions. And I had fun as a member of various student groups that forced alternative views into the campus conversation.
At the same time, there's plenty I wasn't taught in the classroom, and I had to learn an awful lot on my own. These days, anyone with contrary opinions has to expect, to some extent, to be an autodidact.
Daily Bell: How did you find out about the Mises Institute? How did you get involved? Can you characterize your involvement today for our readers and explain a bit more fully why the Mises Institute is so important to freedom?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I saw an ad for its week-long summer program, Mises University, in a magazine. That week was the most intellectually explosive of my academic career. And now I have the privilege of teaching at it. Right now I'm a resident scholar and senior fellow with the Institute. I write, speak, participate in the Institute's programs, and so forth.
The significance and scope of the Institute's work can hardly be overstated. Check out Mises.org for yourself: thousands of hours of free audio and video in the form of lectures, courses, conferences, audiobooks, debates, documentaries, all of them promoting the free-market Austrian School of economics. We have a great many books available online in their entirety, fully searchable. We have the entire print runs of major publications. We have articles on every subject under the sun. We have discussion forums, an excellent blog, an online store, you name it.
And that's just what we're doing online – again, available entirely for free to anyone who wants to learn. We also have programs for students, like Mises University and our Rothbard Graduate Seminar. We have the Austrian Scholars Conference, our annual scholarly conference. (My book The Church and the Market began as a paper at one of these.) We have one-day events around the country. Much more is planned. It's an honor to be a part of it.
Daily Bell: Is the Internet making a difference?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: A huge one. And it disproportionately helps our side. People could have all the Keynes they wanted even before the Internet. But you had to search out the Austrians, if you even knew they existed. Now we have Mises.org, which I just mentioned, to say nothing of the huge YouTube presence of people like Peter Schiff, Ron Paul, and others. Students all over the country are challenging their professors over business cycle theory. It is a glorious thing.
Daily Bell: We think one of the main challenges facing America today is the growth of the so-called pro-military conservative movement. We believe the movement almost purposefully confuses people about Jeffersonian classical liberal thought and is far more challenging to the growing Misesian free-market ideology than the Democrats. Agree? Disagree?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I think they're both pretty awful. I used to be one of these "the Pentagon can do no wrong" conservatives until I realized a few things: (1) the contradiction at work in my holding up this one government institution as beyond reproach; (2) the fact that government lies surrounding foreign policy are especially egregious and embarrassing, if we're going to be honest about it; (3) I would have had a field day if the Soviet Union had tried to pull off some of these lies, but when it's "my" government I instead searched around for supporting evidence to back up the lies; (4) no supporter of the free market can look at military procurement and the military-industrial complex in any detail (and I am confident most conservatives haven't) without recoiling in utter disgust. And that's not to mention the unspeakable and completely avoidable devastation and loss of life wrought by this wing of the government in adventures that had more to do with fueling imperial ambition than with actually defending the country. No conservative, especially those who lecture the world about moral relativism, can support Bill Clinton's sanctions on Iraq, for example. Sanctions always hurt only the subject population. Everyone knows that. A century ago the policy would have been condemned as an act of barbarism.
One of the nice things about Ron Paul's book The Revolution: A Manifesto is that he holds up what historian George Nash calls the three most significant traditionalist thinkers of the postwar conservative revival – Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, and Robert Nisbet – and notes that all three were anti-militarist to one extent or another. This is totally unknown to American conservatives today, who think it's "liberal" to be antiwar or to consider it overkill to spend more on so-called "defense" than the next several dozen countries put together. Among other things, those people ought to read Bill Kauffman's book Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism, which I reviewed last year.
If I may continue with my Kauffman boosting for a moment, I insist people watch his speech (Ron Paul Rally For The Republic, Bill Kauffman) from the great Rally for the Republic Ron Paul held during the week of the Republican Convention. (The first 10 or so seconds of Kauffman are a bit garbled, but it's worth the wait.)
But the Democrats are a train wreck as well; it's as if their goal is to wreck the economy with the greatest possible dispatch. And they're not even sound on war, the issue we're supposed to believe touches their deepest principles.
Daily Bell: What do you think of Sarah Palin? On the one hand, it seems to us, she espouses firm free-market beliefs. On the other, she speaks a great deal about patriotism and her support of the military, generally Homeland Security and the various wars on terrors. Isn't this somehow a contradiction?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: People like her, I think, because they see in her a normal, plain-speaking American who doesn't gratuitously ridicule what they believe, and because she is packaged as a maverick of some sort. If only she were. At the slightest prompting she immediately adopted the neoconservative line on foreign policy (and in fact she canceled a meeting with representatives of her pro-life constituency during the GOP convention so she could attend a meeting with AIPAC officials). During the campaign she supported the financial bailouts. Oh, but she had to, someone could reply. All right, then what kind of maverick is she?
What has struck me most about her is how intellectually insubstantial she is. When (for example) she was asked about why she objected to Roe v. Wade, and whether she could name other Supreme Court cases of which she disapproved, she just sputtered. That should be the easiest thing in the world for a reasonably educated conservative. In other words, she's yet another politician who can read a speech well, but who just isn't that bright. Unfortunately, as we've seen, that's no obstacle for the party loyalists.
As for the military, well, this is where conservatives suddenly become deeply reverential toward government and government employees, and where they believe every word of the Ministry of Propaganda they'd just condemned as liars and scoundrels not ten seconds before.
Daily Bell: Do you think the Fed will be properly and fully audited in your lifetime?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I honestly don't know. What I do know is that whether or not the audit ever happens, the composition of public opinion has already undergone a significant change. There has never been a visible anti-Fed presence in American life. No question it's still very tiny as a percentage of the population, but it now not only exists but is growing all the time. And it's persistent. It won't go away. It's a permanent feature of American life. There will be an anti-Fed voice in the conversation more and more. You can't put a price tag on that.
Daily Bell: What are you working on now?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: I'm working on a book for fall 2010 release. I'm keeping the subject matter under wraps for now, but let's just say it goes for the jugular.
Daily Bell: Thank you for the fascinating interview. We consider you one of the finer minds of freedom working today -- as do many others -- and eagerly await your next work.
Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: Thanks for having me.
We were most delighted with this interview with Thomas Woods because he is truly one of the most brilliant libertarian writers and popularizers of his generation. His books on freedom issues are wonderfully literate and his background from America's prestigious academic elite institutions gives him added gravitas. But in this interview, because our readers may be aware of some of his views, we wanted to press him a bit on what is going to be the most significant issue of the early-to-middle 21st century from our perspective – the erosion of the Anglo-American (especially the American) military-industrial complex.
We know that sounds like an audacious statement but when we claimed last year that the Federal Reserve was facing great difficulties, it was likely not yet easy to discern. Yet we knew it was true, for we could see the Fed had been under attack too long and it had no weapons with which to defend itself. Mid-year it trotted out an inspector general whose appearance before a Congressional committee has to rank as one of the single worst outings of a senior executive in the history of such presentations. She literally could not justify a single aspect of the Fed's secrecy, price-fixing and profligacy.
The millions of views of this particular video debacle since then on Youtube and the blistering comments show quite clearly that this particular promotion continues to crumble. The curtain has fallen away. And today, the US Federal Reserve, as an institution, faces determined opposition such as it never has before. What many in our opinion don't quite "get" (Daily Bell readers excepted) is that this opposition will only get worse. There is no damage control to be done, no "crisis" to overcome. The crisis the elite faces is the rapid transmission of human knowledge via the Internet, the power of ideas and the resultant prolonged dying of the elite's promotional campaigns of fear and control. This is a process that has already taken place and is gaining momentum. It has decades to travel. It will be a truly miserable era for the power elite that had much to enjoy in the 20th century when it could wage world wars at will and rewrite history as it chose.
Of course, power elite promotions will cling tenaciously to the life they have. Global warming will stagger along. Fiat money will continue to be flogged and the dollar propped up, at least to a degree, mercantilism will continue to be confused, purposefully, with capitalism. But the whole point of promotions is to brainwash the masses into cooperating in giving up additional wealth and control in return for authoritarian solutions – and the masses are beginning to reject the dominant social themes that worked so well even 50 years ago.
The power elite is tiny. Its wealth is massive and pervasive, but it relied on the secretive tentacles of control to disguise its relative lack of breadth and depth. Its mechanism is the very central banking meme that is under such attack. Its secondary line of defense is authoritarian (the use of various repressive security forces). But as the history of the Gutenberg press shows us, authoritarian solutions – which are truly a last gasp – are only trotted out in truly dire straits. There are billions of average human beings in the world. There are what – maybe a couple of thousand individuals and family members in the upper and lower ranks of the power elite, if that. Using force is a losing deal for an elite, certainly in the West. If it were not, then why bother with promotions?
Thus it is, we believe, that sooner or later the security/war/safety meme that power hungry governments (they all are these days) use to justify their most outrageous actions will eventually come under the same kind of attack as the central banking monetary meme. We believe this next decade will see the same sort of opposition to the Anglo-American military industrial complex. In fact, in Britain, as we have regularly reported, it has already begun, with the hearings on the antecedents of the Iraq war, which are revealing a litany of top-level military and political lies both in Britain and America. These hearings will not be the end of it. They are an opening volley as it were though certainly the British elite is hoping that the hearings will close the Bush-Blair/Iraq chapter.
For this reason, then, because we think the "war on terror" is another promotion falling to pieces even now, we wanted to elucidate Woods' views not just on financial freedom but on the issues of fundamental freedom, which includes America's (and Europe's) fixation with security and a vast military and internal security apparatus. It will, over the next years in our opinion, turn into the most significant issue the West faces. The Anglo-American axis and the elite that operates it may retain its power, but in our opinion it will be a most reduced posture, and one that will receive an ever receding "buy in."
Anyway, Woods point of view about the US military and the country's increasingly invasive domestic quasi-military domestic and international security efforts are dead on target. The most revealing part of this interview is where he points out his own conversion from someone who gave kneejerk obeisance to America's militaristic posture to someone who understands that the outrageous procurements, secretive waste of billions, faux-patriotism and endless ginning-up of security "threats" are no more worthy of unquestioning support than America's failing command-and-control economic system.
Woods works for a group that has made a great difference with its affiliated anti-war site, anti-war.com. Anti-war.com is responsible for raising the level of understanding about promotion that is the Western war on terror. The blood of a million innocents has again been spilled over the last decade in the Middle East for ill-defined objectives that are merely trotted out to conceal the real interests of the increasingly desperate Western power elite – expanded global domination. Everywhere America goes it builds another gigantic military and domestic base – Kosovo, Iraq and, no doubt, should the latest war work, Afghanistan.
We will close with an excerpt from a remarkable column by William Pfaff featured earlier this month on Truthdig. We think Thomas Woods would approve the sentiments expressed herein. Just as frustration mounted – and continues to mount – over central banking, so frustration is mounting over the essentially lawless and ruinous activities of the unaccountable Anglo-American military. Over the next years, we predict this issue will move center stage as the Internet exposes the full scope of what is transpiring.
Here's the excerpt. We recommend the full article at Truthdig.com. (Ed. Note: We've read in a number of places that the number of US military bases is closer to 1,000 than 700.)
It is time to ask a question that virtually no one in an official or political position in the United States is willing to contemplate asking. For a person in a responsible public position to pose this question would be to risk exclusion from the realm of "serious" policy discussion. It could be, as they say in the bureaucracies, "a career destroyer." It would be like declaring that after long analysis you had come to the conclusion that the world is indeed flat, and not round. A round earth is merely an illusion, which everyone has accepted, and adapted to-and fears challenging.
My question is the following. Has it been a terrible, and by now all but irreversible, error for the United States to have built a system of more than 700 military bases and stations girdling the world? Does it provoke war rather than provide security? Each of six world regions now has a separate U.S. commander with his staff and intelligence, planning and potential operational capabilities. Central Command, based in Florida, currently is responsible for America's Middle Eastern and Central Asian wars. The other five commands-Atlantic, Pacific, Southern (for Latin America), Africa and Europe -oversee in detail what goes on in their assigned portions of the world, generating analyses, appreciations, and scenarios of possible reactions to a myriad of perceived or possible threats to the United States.
Each commander also makes contact with regional government military forces, so far as possible, cultivating good relations, professional exchanges and training. Each promotes training missions to the U.S. and military aid, and supports equipment purchases. Each regional commander controls "main operating bases" abroad, which in turn support fully manned "forward operating sites," usually including permanently stationed American forces and an air base. Beyond them, "cooperative security locations" are established, shared with the forces of allies or clients. The hegemonic implications and intention of all this, which provides the military structure from which to conduct global interventions (or indeed a third world war), are readily acknowledged in Washington, and motivated by what Washington considers internationally valid and constructive reasons.
The unthinkable question [is} whether all of this has been a ghastly mistake. Many Americans question or oppose this system, but ordinarily with anti-militarist motives, or because they see it as imperialist, or part of an interventionist or aggressive foreign policy outlook that they oppose. My reason for questioning it is that it generates apprehension, hostility and fear of the United States; frequently promotes insecurity; and has already provoked wars- unnecessary wars. ...
Posted by Doug Carkuff on 02/24/10 10:22 AM
I would like to think it will be a miserable time for the power elite, but in as much as they are in a position to manipulate virtually everything that matters I kind of doubt it. Also, I think we need a new/different term for what George Carlin called "the real owners of this country".
"Power elite" sounds too conspiracy theoristy and people will not really buy into it. They need to believe they are in control of their lives. People sense that there is a tiny subclass of people who are beyond the reach of ordinary rules, but they don't quite grasp that little happens in the world that these people don't orchestrate and don't want to happen. They don't recognize that the primary function of our government is to protect the interests of these people. I don't know how you undermine that or expose it in a way that people can really comprehend it. They still believe in the American fairy tale.
It is hard to face that millions have thrown away their lives or had their lives sacrificed in defense of the interests of a relative handful of powerful people.
Posted by PUBLIUS on 01/26/10 01:43 AM
My reason for questioning it is that it generates apprehension, hostility and fear of the United States; frequently promotes insecurity; and has already provoked wars- unnecessary wars.
Yes and it generates control and profits, very necessary oligarachical control and profits, operating as a virus does in a host, except in this circumstance the virus is confused with the host which is understandable since the host only does as the virus prompts. The solution is not easy since political control and economic scarcity do not mix. One works to eat.
Posted by W.R. Cohen on 01/18/10 06:37 PM
Ron Paul's campaign for the nomination of the Republican Party for the presidency awakened many Americans to certain ideas. It became common knowledge among his supporters that Ron Paul would read the bills before the Congress where he served and is now in his eleventh term. IF he thought that the power being sought was not among those few powers granted by the Founders in Article 1 Section 8 he would vote "No!" and cast the sole "No1" vote over 300 times in his career.
He took his oath of office to preserve the Constitution seriously. This endeared him to his supporters many of whom have joined the Campaign For Liberty which Ron Paul founded after he suspended his run for the nomination. C4L members read the books recommended on that site, Click to view link, and those recommended by other members as well.
Ron Paul recommended Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and her other novels, with reservations in Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto. Ayn Rand wrote a journal and a newsletter in which she made her philosophy and defense of individual rights and a free market society explicit. Essays from her journal appear in The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and The Romantic Manifesto and For The New Intellectual.
Ayn Rand was born in Russia in 1905 and lived through the Bolshevik Revolution and the nightmare totalitarian dictatorship which followed. She managed to get permission to visit relatives in Chicago when she was 26 because some bureaucrat believed she would return to marry a fellow she led him to believe she was in love with.
She never returned. So she knew first hand what many of us dread as we see our country moving toward such a state based as it is on virtually identical premises. In that regard read The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff.To simply get politicians to keep their oath to preserve the Constitution would merely delay the inevitable.
It is I hasten to add only inevitable if we fail to follow Ayn Rand's admonition to "check your premises."There is a movement in America today of people of all ages who value their own liberty and are willing to do whatever is necessary to enlighten others, pass the torch and help grow the movement, the Campaign For LIberty. I joined over one year ago, a month after it began, when there were just 6,000 members.
Today that number has grown to 226,389 and is growing daily. When I tell a person I encounter about it I tell them that we believe that the politicians in Washington fail to keep their oath to preserve the Constitution, rather they think that if they can get enough votes in the Congress that they are free to do anything! In reality Congress is limited to only those powers granted by the sovereign States which created the Federal government. All other powers are reserved to the States, unless prohibited to them by the Founders, or to the people under the Tenth Amendment.
Feel free to explore Click to view link and consider joining us.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thank you for invitation and for the introduction to Randian thought. Several Bell articles are actually posted on the Click to view link site, and we consider Ron Paul's movement to be one of the single most important political crusades of the past 100 years or even more.
Posted by Dale Collins on 01/18/10 03:13 PM
A sound monetary system would force us into a more reasonable military posture. We would have to live within our means. A strong defense that can go on the offensive when necessary has always been the goal of a free and peaceful country. When you have a corrupt monetary system your government has abdicated its moral authority. Our foreign policy is just one example of this. Until a sound monetary system is restored in this country we can forget about freedom or the allusion of it let alone an honest debate.
Posted by Bill Ross on 01/18/10 01:16 PM
"Using force is a losing deal for an elite, certainly in the West"
Because, keep too much force around and their association with your power allows them to discern inner secrets of control and leads to force concluding they should be "king of the hill", rather than a tool.
At some point, what power pays force to do its bidding tips them beyond the point that mere money becomes unimportant. They want power. Of course, using force against your domestic populations when your pretext is "their best interests" is also patently absurd and an obvious lie. Force just doesn't work.
Historically refuted long ago. Now, the internet and accurate information (for those who can sort fact from fiction) is making power's frauds (false social memes) easily refutable. Worse, for power, they are being exposed as intellectually inbred incompetents, unfit to survive.
The leaves honest trade, the only remaining method of goal seeking. The next Renaissance (rebirth of civilization) is a sure thing, assuming Malthusians and Luddites don't manage to trick us into the "big one" and war of all, against all.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Amen to that. Hopelessness will be the last meme standing.
Posted by ScuzzaMan on 01/18/10 05:34 AM
Further to Pat Fields' observations: if the Constitution of the USA recognises that individuals have the right to arm themselves in order to defend both what is theirs individually (their life and property) and what is theirs collectively (i.e. their nation itself, and its territorial integrity, and the freedom that is their birthright) then ought not we to also recognise the right of the merchant navies of the world to similarly arm themselves to ward off the predations of pirates?
In fact, didn't there once exist a large body of armed commercial ships plying the oceans of this world, and wasn't it known as "the merchant navy"? When did it become either necessary or desirable for everyone outside of government agents to be helpless before armed might? And necessary and desirable to WHOM?
As I recall, the preamble to that same Constitution also recognises that the standing armies of governments represent the most dire threats to freedom - and thus, to free people - in every time and Click to view link seems ... well, odd, to say the least ... that the descendants of its authors should place such naively submissive trust in the armies of governments.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Posted by Not Anti-military Per Se on 01/17/10 11:01 PM
Long Live the Daily Bell!
Truth rather than Lies.Good rather than evil.
A forum for the voices of Heroes desperately needed (The Bell Staff, Woods, Ron Paul included among the top).
Posted Feedback is a definite improvement ... An improvement only if Pat Fields post 1/17/2010 is not allowed to slide with simply "thanks for the feedback."
Yes the quality of Mr./Ms. Fields' verse and historic references are in the league of the Daily Bell, and make his contribution to the discussion entertaining. However Mr./Ms. Fields simply does not speak to a reasonable perspective of the current state of US Military affairs.
Its likely fair to say that very few engage in "self-delusional dogmatism in anti-military thought." I for one do not perceive Mr. Woods does. Criticism of US Foreign Policy and Military engagement may not be delusional and is certainly not anti-military thought in and of itself.
Most troubling is the lack of convincing evidence of any contemporary "Sea-Peoples" that threaten our civilization. Foreign threat to the US (Terrorist or other) reasonably appears to be vastly dwarfed by US military expenditure which happens to be both unlawful and unconstitutional.
This enormous world wide US military expenditure comes largely at the expense of a beleaguered, victimized US middle class. It is notable that the middle class in the US does not enjoy a capitalist society. It may not be delusional to suggest US military expenditure and Department of Homeland Security measures are ineffective at their stated goals or worse, plausibly very much worse.
The point is that our armories are far from being beaten into plough shares but are more realistically seen as the "sharper sword" wielding the "slothful avarice" of the "Neo-Mercantilists" who Mr./Ms. Fields concedes have "truly usurped the world's trading systems," and can reasonably be seen as far more a threat to our security, prosperity, liberties and way of life than any barbarians at the gates; "Vikings, Conquistadores, Samurai Shoguns or the like.
Yes, If The People (NOT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES mistaken for leaders) again earn Liberty to call on a much sought after Jefferson to quell threats to free market trade, then in defense of that free market I would fully agree MILLIONS for Defense of Free Markets and Liberty and not a Cent for Tribute to needless foreign entanglements, fear and/ war mongering for the benefit of a relatively small number of mercantilistic privileged.
On second thought perhaps rather than MILLIONS ... I would let a free market determine the price or expenditure whatever it may be.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Well, thanks. We figured someone might come along, and you did, quite eloquently, in fact. And we certainly appreciate the kind words as well.
Posted by Shawn on 01/17/10 09:43 PM
I would like to thank Mr. Woods for his honest insights and for clearing up much of the confusion I have struggled with in trying to understand the hypocrisy of government and self aggrandizement of the public servant.
I watched the Kauffman piece, I appreciated his bit on the 2 America's, brilliant and true. I am a Canadian ( you know the socialistic welfare state up north) that likes America and Americans, most wonderful people being let away from what I believe America stands for, liberty.
After the 60s the Marxist underground infiltrated the America main stream and has indoctrinated the masses to believe Socialism has something do with a free-market. The Mises Institute is a leader in the effort to turn that around, again thank you.
Intellectually insubstantial that's being nice when describing Palin, I tried to read her book and couldn't, one of the worst I have ever read almost as patronizing as The hope book from Obama, both appealing to the dumbed down American. I have read Meltdown - Loved it, recommended the book to 200 of my closest friends, and have on order through The Mises Institute, 33 Questions About American History Your Not Supposed To Ask and The politically Incorrect Guild to American History.
I will be looking for the new one that goes for the jugular, sounds like your going to stir it up. Thanks to you and The Daily Bell for opening our eyes.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks for the insights,
Posted by Acudoc on 01/17/10 09:31 PM
So refreshing..a draught of pure air in an atmosphere of clueless, fetid political/economic MSM punditocracy.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Posted by Tex Mex on 01/17/10 04:12 PM
Wonderful interview!! Mr. Woods is certainly one of the more "in-tune' intellectuals to have graduated from Harvard. Keep 'em comin' boys!
Reply from The Daily Bell
We're sure he appreciates the kind words.
Posted by Tawny on 01/17/10 03:40 PM
You are right, I think, that it is easy to get very discouraged and just give up, thinking that it is hopeless and what's the use, and the elites foster that hopelessness.
I've been studying this for circa 30 years now. Even before the internet, it seemed to me that our info was spreading at the good ol' geometric rate of progression, the graph of which (like the graph of the increase in the fiat money supply) shows a long gradual increase and then a near vertical spike.
Even though this was my rational thinking/forecast, still it was a long couple-three decades of being - one of many of course - 'voices crying in the wilderness.'
As Yogi Berra famously remarked, it ain't over 'til it's over, and I have been really gratified to see the bloom of awareness, and websites, and publications, and researchers, all trying to spread the word and educate people.
So thank you (And Dr. Woods) for your good work! And in this imperfect world, may the righteous truth prevail when it comes to economics - in many ways the 'keystone' science.
Reply from The Daily Bell
There, that is the slightly more optimistic Tawny that we are used to hearing from.
Posted by Trevor Dupuy on 01/17/10 03:26 PM
Do you believe the claimed radical Islamic threat is "ginned-up? If yes, why? If not, how should we respond?
Reply from The Daily Bell
It was a BBC report several years ago -- still available on the BBC site -- that concluded that Al Qaeda was a virtual fantasy of the Bush administration. We've written about it several times.
As far as a response goes - what should America have done about the communist threat that was supposed to come to its shores once America "lost" the Vietnam war? Inevitably, nothing happened. People want to be left alone. Traveling to other countries to blow yourself up is not a long-term life-style, nor is it a way of enhancing social progress or stability.
However, there ARE two fundamental things these overseas military and intel promotions are doing. First, they are generating a number of implacable tribal enemies and generally whipping up anti-American sentiment. Second, they are quite literally costing Western citizens, especially American ones, every single freedom and republican virtue that once differentiated the West from other societies.
Those who believe that full body scanning, warrantless wiretapping and an aggressively growing and ever-more empowered domestic security apparatus are somehow aimed at overseas "terrorists" are making a terrible mistake. History shows us that these government powers, once granted, are inevitably enforced on the easiest targets - which are always the domestic poor and disenfranchsized and then on the real target, which is the middle class.
This is how totalitarianism grows - by justifying an outside threat to impose ever-more Draconian limits on domestic freedoms. Once can see this same process at work elsewhere in the world. Venezuela comes to mind. Its state of chaos and mercantilist brutality is not so much "different' from many in the West as simply more advanced. If you live in the West, especially in America or Britain, and have children, you ought to be most concerned about the world they will inherit and the government they will live under.
Posted by Tawny on 01/17/10 03:08 PM
Thanks for another excellent guest and interview. So good to hear that more people are learning the truth about economics and central banks, fiat currencies, etc., which have to be one of the biggest (and most successful) con jobs of the aeons, when it comes to parting the clueless working stiff from his earnings.
(It's kind of mind-boggling to consider the standard of living the working people of the world might be enjoying if it were not for this and related scams...)
Re the US 'military/industrial complex' and its predations, I find it hard to dismiss it all as a mere 'mistake.' It has been an integral part of the quest for profit and empire long aggressively waged by the criminal syndicates(if I may call a spade a spade, as Jim Willie recently did in print) currently in control of many/most governments in the world today.
The relatively wealthy USA (wealthy primarily due to our years WITHOUT the central banking/fiat currency parasite feeding on our collective jugular) has been selected to foot the bill and provide the cannon fodder for policing/controlling/conquering the globe, in the elites' quest for profit and world empire.
Also I think we should try not to be too optimistic too soon. For one thing, most people are still hopelessly ignorant of what you and Dr. Woods are saying. Even the relatively educated and intelligent have a fearful amount of 'catch-up' to do.
Also -- I fear the current/developing planned recession/depression/hyper-inflation and also food shortages have not just 'oop's' happened but have been planned/staged in order to throw the masses into 'survival mode' and take their minds off the deeds and plans - and on-going take-over - of the global corporate/banking elites.
Few in number the power elites indeed are, as you say ...but they still as of current date have control of most of the global centers of power. They have known that this crisis - the spread of the truth about them and their doings, and real agendas - is coming ... after all they have, for generations, trolled the grad schools and 'bought' many very bright minds to do their planning and research for them.
I'm not saying that our cause is a lost one, and I certainly hope it is not. But I think it is a bit early to conclude that good shall triumph over evil in this contest.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Well, it was not our intention to appear overly optimistic. (We have cautioned about that regularly, in our opinion.) But we do believe that the idea that all is doom and gloom and that Western citizens are asleep and have no chance to counteract the promotions that are negatively affecting them is perhaps a promotion of itself, intended to reinforce passivity. We think that is a significant point and one that alternative press - which has an affinity for doom and gloom - does not emphasize enough.
Posted by Gunter on 01/17/10 02:50 PM
It's frustrating to learn that for 32 years of my life, I've been lied to. The only way to fight back is to get three people from my immediate surroundings to read The Daily Bell. I would seriously encourage all readers of The Bell to do the same, and to ask the same from every person you can convince. It's a force the power elite will never be able to stop. Thank you Daily Bell.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Well, thank you for the kind words. As we have tried to figure this out, we have had exactly the same emotions that you are experiencing. It is not pleasant, but it is "life."
Posted by Jim Prentice on 01/17/10 12:32 PM
When I first ran across Thomas E. Woods I thought I had been re-incarnated. I like his logical, clear and honest way of thinking. I am an old guy, 70 years old, and had the advantage of being educated by the education system in Colorado before the federal government got it's hooks into our education system.
Additionally I had the good fortune to have had a retired Navy Commander as my American History and American Government teacher and a father who was a taskmaster on honesty in all things. My father never had a written contract for anything. His word was his bond and everyone in the small community knew it. Consequently those he dealt with were also good to their word.
I came out of High School with a different view of History and Government. First of all Mr. Smith taught us that "We the People' are the leaders, not the hired hands we have in government. They are the people who were hired by We the People to take care of the tasks we assigned to them.
Second, I was taught that the word State and Nation are synonymous as is stated here: 'The terms 'state and 'nation are used in the laws of nations, as well as in common parlance, as importing the same thing;.
The Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia, 30 U.S. 1; 8 LEd 25. (1831) Also we find in Blacks Law Dictionary:National Government: Blacks Law Dictionary 4th Edit.
At Page 1176. 'The government of a whole nation as distinguished from that of a local or territorial division of the nation, and also as distinguished from that of a league or confederation.
'A national government is a government of a people of a single state or nation, united as a community by what is termed a 'social compact, and possessing complete and perfect supremacy over persons and things, so far as they can be made the lawful objects of civil government. A federal government is distinguished from a national government, by its being the government of a community of independent and sovereign states, united by compact. Piqua Branch Bank v. Knoup, 6 Ohio St. 393.
Mr. Smith taught us that the federal government is an auxiliary government designed to compliment the mutual interests of the several Nation/States and that the States are superior to the federal government with the exception of those duties assigned to them at Article I, 8 of the Constitution for the United States.
He emphasized that the name of our country is 'America and the name of the federal government is 'the United States. He backed this up by demonstrating the following.(It took me a while to find this case but it is well worth looking at as it explains the word 'of and the use of its application. It also demonstrates that the States of the Union of States are not in the United States.)
The case came before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1907 and had to do with workers who were suing for overtime wages predicated on the recently passed "minimum wage law of Congress'.
The workers had worked for a dredging company in Chelsea Creek which is in Boston Harbor, Mass. They had lost in State Court and had appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
This is what the Supreme Court had to say: 'Congress possesses no power to legislate except such as is affirmatively conferred upon it through the Constitution, or is fairly to be inferred therefrom. ... An act which may be constitutional upon its face, or as applied to certain conditions, may yet be found to be unconstitutional when sought to be applied in a particular case. The works of dredging in Chelsea Creek, in Boston harbor as shown on the record, is not part of the 'public works of the United States within the meaning of the statute in question. ... It is unnecessary to lay special stress on the title to the soil in which the channels were dug, but it may be noticed that it was not in the United States. The language of the act is 'public works of the United States. As the works are things upon which the labor is expended, the most natural meaning of 'of the United States is 'belonging to the United States. Ellis v. United States, 206 U.S. 246; 27 S.Ct. 600 (1907)
The Court made two statements of great importance in understanding government. Massachusetts is not in the United States and the word "of' means belonging to.The United States of America means that the United States belongs to America. America is the land mass which houses the 48 contiguous Nation/States of the union of States.
We assigned a ten mile square area to the United States in order that it could meet and carry out the functions of those tasks we assigned to it. This ten mile square area is known as the District of Columbia and may be thought of as the servants quarters which is not attached to the main house.
As long as the American Citizens allow themselves to think of the employee/servants in government as "the leaders' and that the United States is the ultimate authority over all of the Nation/ States and the people who inhabit those Nation/States then we will never live in peace or tranquility.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thank you for a most insightful analysis.
Posted by Iddy on 01/17/10 09:03 AM
Yes, there is plenty of history about sea peoples raidng peaceful peoples. That was then but now it sure looks like our leaders have become the sea people of the modern world. The USA has many tons of steel patrolling the worlds oceans. Not only the oceans but the skies and even out in Orbit. This is for our protection? Not to HAARP on a subject but this does not even count the underwraps, stolen technologies of Nikola Telsa.
The stochastic indicater on the history chart shows the swings between freedom and control. The indicator is showing the memes of the elite very oversold. Lets not waste this opportunity and push the indicator to the other extreme. This is key, not pushing the indicator, forcing the market. This was talked about recently with the metal market manipulators. We must not repay evil with evil but overcome evil with good.
It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance. Each one of us lives in a local world. I find this world ripe with people looking for balance. We are an Army with weapons of mass instruction. Learn, then teach. Not in words only but with deeds.
I teach free market capitalism with every job I do. How? I am a gifted person in the field of fixing broken mechanical and electrical devices. I got this out of a curiosity for taking things apart. (I broke many of my dad's things while growing up.)
People saw me fixin stuff so they started bringing me things to fix. So I capitalized on the cards I got dealt. If I fix peoples things they give me other things like corn, or chickens, potatoes and many other kinds of things.
Of course they did not really give me chickens but they gave me tokens that I can take to another capitalist and get the chickens and they were already dead and in a packege .. pretty cool. One thing I am convinced of War never was and never will be the answer.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Posted by Jack Burns on 01/17/10 07:54 AM
I like Bill Bonner's take on military spending, and more. A quote from 1/15/2010 Daily Reckoning.
"Obama says the feds 'saved' 2 million jobs. But the cost of each job saved was as much as $65 million, according to our not-very-precise accounting.Was it worth it? Yesterday, we went on at some length as to why government jobs weren't the same as private sector jobs. Since they're never put to the test of the market, you never know whether they are worth having, let alone saving. Do they add to the sum of human wealth and happiness...or do they subtract from it? No one knows for sure.
"But here's the strange and remarkable thing; modern economists actually would prefer jobs that are NOT worth doing. In the twisted mind of a mainstream economist the problem in a depression is that people don't spend money. Since they don't spend, demand goes down. The secret to avoiding a depression, they believe, is to replace private demand with government demand. Easy, peasy...right? The government just spends more money. And since it doesn't have any more money to spend (practically every government on earth was already running a deficit), it borrows the necessary funds. Thus does demand go up. And thus do the feds create the next bubble - in public debt.
"But what if government-funded stimulus projects actually produced goods and services that people wanted? Ah...that would be a problem. Because in a depression, there is too much supply and not enough demand. Prices fall, encouraging people to delay spending...further depressing demand...and causing an even worse depression.
"So, the last thing the feds want is more supply. They want more demand but LESS supply. That means that the ideal government project is one that doesn't produce anything worth having. Such as military spending. Or digging holes and filling them up again. Or, departments and agencies that employ people who don't do Click to view link sounds to us as though practically any government program would fill the bill!"
Regards,Bill Bonner, for The Daily Reckoning"
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks. Very lucid explanation.
Posted by Mr. X on 01/17/10 07:16 AM
If I were to tell the press that millions of Americans would be blown up by an Iranian nutcase, or that your Congress has stolen the entire contents of your savings with health care "reform" or bailouts, nobody panics, because it's all part of the plan... But, if I tell the press a few homosexuals are upset over their little wee wees in California, why, everyone just loses their minds!
Reply from The Daily Bell
What plan? Can you be more specific?
Posted by Pat Fields on 01/17/10 04:16 AM
There appears to me, as much self-delusional dogmatism in anti-military thought, as in its opposite, Spartanist manifestation.History is rife with Sea-Peoples completely destroying entire ancient civilizations at the very zenith of their developments.
Vikings wrecking momentous havoc on peaceful European Christian Society, Spanish Conquistadores slaughtering Central and South American natives resurrected Samurai Shoguns plying horrific deprivations throughout Asia - and yet, we're to beat our armories into plough-shares?
In the 1500's the first truly Capitalist society that accomplished the construction of a grand, worldwide Free Market economy was the Dutch, but because they so ideologically believed in the myth that this "new order" of Cornucopious trade could transcendentally supplant the temptation to revert back to the Mercantilist form, that they provided only gratuitous enforcement behind their beautifully harmonious construct.
Who now remembers the Dutch for anything more than tulips, windmills and sea-walls? I grant that Neo-Mercantilists have truly usurped the world's trading systems and have manipulated military to it's ends but if Capitalism and Free Markets are to survive the Socialist mentality that captivates slothful avarice of this world's brutes, its practitioners must carry bigger and sharper swords than their adversaries.
Their trade routes must be patrolled and guarded with greater ferocity and determination than the pirates and highwaymen who will certainly cue up for their "share" of the bounty. Contracts must be held to their letter - and spirit!I say now and forever, as The People called out to Jefferson during the Barbary incidents, Millions for Defense, not a Cent for Tribute.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks for the feedback.