In defense of 14 words

Now, I don’t usually recommend this sort of dialectical response to a rhetorical attack like the one cited here. However, for those who are sufficiently bilingual in the black arts of philosophical persuasion, this may be a useful example of how to turn an attacker’s rhetorical assault against him.

Notice how he initially attacks Point 14, but when called on his implicit endorsement of their negation, refuses to directly answer what aspect of it he opposes. This is what I mean by dialectic being useful for exposing pseudo-dialectic for rhetorical purposes.

It’s a little confusing, I know, but don’t be misled. This is, from start to finish, a rhetorical engagement. I am merely using dialectic as a rhetorical device to expose and manipulate him into publicly discrediting himself.

Supreme Dark Lord @voxday
Awful attempt by (((@CathyYoung63))) to critique my #AltRight platform. She calls the West “a mongrel culture”.

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
You saw awful, but most would say accurate. @CathyYoung63 has nailed it. The #AltRight are nazis, pure and simple.

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
Here, @voxday means the Jews. (screencap of 10)

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
Here, @voxday uses that well known scientific term: sub-species. No racism to see here. Move along. (screencap of 15)

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
Well, the #AltRight are white supremacists. Isn’t that right, @voxday?

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
Some are, most aren’t. I’m an Indian. What part of this do you oppose? “We must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children”?

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
So you are a white supremacist then. Just another reactionary nazi.

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
You are, it seems. And no, I don’t oppose the existence of PEOPLE.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
No, Charlie, I am not. I am an Indian who believes that the continued existence of white people is desirable. Why do you disagree?

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
Stop being disingenuous. It’s a well known White Supremacist slogan. You know that.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
Answer the question. What part of it do you oppose? All of it? None of it?

Charles Ledley‏@ialmctt
I’ll answer it if you acknowledge that it’s a well known white supremacist slogan. Do you acknowledge that?

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
Of course. That’s why it is point 14. Now, answer the question. Do you support all of the 14 words, some of them, or none of them?

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
I’ve answered this.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
No, you didn’t. This is going on the blog, so don’t be evasive. Which of the 14 words do you disagree with, if any?

Charles Ledley ‏@ialmctt
Put what you like on your blog. I answered your question

He didn’t, of course, and we all know why. If he actually answered it, he would either be liable to his own charge of being a white supremacist for endorsing the continued existence of white people or he would be put on the record for calling openly for the extermination of the white races.

I believe this should settle the debate about whether Point 14 belongs on the list of core Alt-Right principles or not in favor of the affirmative.

(((Ben))) bravely runs away… again

(((Ben Shapiro))) is such a masterful debater, so intellectually powerful and confident of his positions on free trade and antisemitism, that he has now ducked a second direct challenge from me.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
@benshapiro Since you were afraid to debate free trade with me, why don’t we debate the nature of anti-semitism?

Trent Harmon ‏@harmTRON
I smell desperation from @voxday

 Supreme Dark Lord@voxday
@harmTRON @benshapiro You need to get your nose checked. (((Ben))) is the one running from me. It’s not the other way around.

Ben Shapiro‏@benshapiro
I don’t run from dog crap or debate it. I just wipe it off my shoe and move on.

I have to admit, I find it more than a little puzzling that people like Shapiro, Myers, and Scalzi genuinely seem to believe that they can run away from direct public challenges, but still maintain a credible public posture as a brave defender of their beliefs more than capable of defeating any challenger.

Anyhow, since we won’t be debating, I see no reason not to point out that the whole “Judeo-Christian” heritage line, with which propagandists and rhetoricians like (((Ben))) have made so much hay among Christians, is even more bogus than “the melting pot”. It doesn’t even show up before 1840! Notice, in particular, the way in which usage takes off after 1965, at precisely the same time “a nation of immigrants” did the same.

UPDATE: This is telling.

Free Northerner ‏@FreeNortherner
Check @benshapiro ‘s blatant hypocrisy. 4 hours ago he mocked @piersmorgan for not debating @scrowder. 2 hours ago he ran away from @voxday.

Heat Street debate: marital rape

My latest debate with Louise Mensch of Heat Street is on the subject of marital rape, concerning which my view that it is an oxymoron has been declared controversial in certain circles:

Louise Mensch: Do you agree that there’s no such thing as rape within marriage?

Vox Day: Yeah, I think it’s quite obvious that it’s not even possible for there to be anything that we describe as rape within marriage. I find it remarkable that someone would try and claim that it is beyond debate when this new concept of marital rape is not only very, very new but is in fact not even applicable to most of the human race. It’s very clear, for example, in India it’s part of the written law that it’s not possible, for even if force is involved, there cannot be rape between a man and a woman. In China the law is the same.

LM: Mm-hmm (affirmative) but there’s a difference between saying what the law is and saying what is morally right. You would agree that just because somebody says something is a law doesn’t make it so. Let’s just start with that basic principle.

Vox: There’s huge difference between morality and legality. I’d be the first to agree with that. The fact of the matter is that the concept of marital rape hangs on consent and because marriage is and has always granted consent, the act of marriage is a granting of consent, therefore it’s not possible for the consent to be withdrawn and then for rape to happen. In fact, the concept of marital rape is created by the cultural Marxists in an attempt to destroy the family and to destroy the institution of marriage.

LM: I’m going to say that that’s patent nonsense. If you consent to something once it doesn’t mean that you’ve given a blanket consent to it forever. We agree on the definition of rape – that rape is when one party forces sex on the other without their consent?

Vox: Yes.

LM: Good. We go that far. Your argument then hinges on the statement that to get married is to give an all-time consent forever to sex with your spouse?

Vox: Exactly. It’s no different than when you join the army. You only have to join the army once. You don’t get the choice to consent to obey orders every single time an order is given. In certain arrangements, and marriage is one of them, the agreement is a lasting one, and that’s why it’s something that should not be entered into lightly.

I find it both amusing and mildly disconcerting that a view which is consistent with the entire legal and philosophical history of the human race is suddenly supposed to be unimaginable. I mean, precisely how ignorant, precisely how brainwashed, does one have to be in order to be completely unable to imagine that which is not only recent history, but is still the law for most of the human race?

Democracy debate part 1

Konrad Razumovsky challenged me to a debate in response to my contention that direct democracy is superior to representative democracy. This is his initial statement.

“My opinion, as I have previously expressed, is that the problems of “mob rule” of which the Founders so famously warned have proven to be considerably fewer and less problematic than the problems of establishing a political elite that uses the illusion of democratic approval as a protective shield. Now that technology makes it viable for larger polities, direct democracy is a moral imperative in any society with a government that is justified by the will of the people.”
—Vox Day

For the purposes of this, I am using a slightly modified version of the definition of democracy from Merriam-Webster: a democracy is “a form of government in which the people choose leaders, or specific laws, by voting”.

I do grant, and cannot reasonably dispute the following: one, representative democracies or democratic republics do limit the impact of the will of the people, by intention or accident is irrelevant; two, the most dangerous thing for a nation, in the long run, is a political elite which is divorced from the common man, a political elite who believe they are justified and also able to sell their chicanery to said common man with a gross misrepresentation of the intent of a particular government; third—and finally, technology does many exceptional things, with respect to man’s ability to influence his condition including the methods by which government can be built.  That said, I have no real issue with direct democracy in theory, or in practice, but I am forced to dispute the implicit claim that a democracy is an appropriate form of government for a larger scale polity, with or without technological intervention and irrespective of its moral gravity.  That is to say that a direct democracy has a number of internal issues which render it ineffective, if not outright detrimental, to a civilization of a certain size.  Briefly, these are: one, no amount of technological development is equal to the task of preventing the poor use thereof; two, democracies derive their legitimacy from the collective people of the nation, which would be fine if governments existed to care for the people, which they do not; three, economics applies to voting just as much as everything else; fourth—and finally, though mob rule is, indeed, a historical falsity, something very similar to it does exist and is exactly the thing which placed the silly political elite into power in the current era.  There will then need to be some minor legwork done on historic democracies to determine if the theoretical framework matches the practice.

While it must be admitted by all reasonable men that modern information based technology has certainly made it possible for a democracy to function on a scale significantly larger than previously possible, in terms of both geography and population, these advances do little to address the frailty of the ballot box.  In the more traditional rendition of a democracy, there are legions of little vote counters who, being human, can each be induced by their own ideologies or the machinations of others to forget or misplace certain votes; there are instances of the dearly departed or even pets casting votes; and there is one supreme holder of the ballots who could, were he so inclined, read a different name than the one at the top of the chart.  I freely admit that technology removes the human element from these scenarios, the vote counters are machines who are incorruptible by their own bias and cannot be blackmailed; a machine is compelled to follow its programming regarding the necessary certification that a particular voter is eligible to cast such a vote, thereby reducing the rate at which Spot or Aunt Mildred interferes with mortal affairs; and a machine is honest about who is where on the final printout. 

All of this rests on the assumption that the machine(s) administering the vote enjoy a state of being free of that kind of harassment designed to cause a shift in the eventual outcome of the vote being so administered.  Obviously, direct and physical tampering with these Democratic Servers is undesirable, so steps must be taken to remove the possibility of such.  I see two feasible solutions: one, the voting process may be moved entirely to the cloud, divorcing it from a physical existence; or two, the physical Democratic Servers must be fiercely protected against intrusions.  The problem with the first is that everyone on the planet would have access to the voting system, regardless of the level of authentication required to vote, a machine is only a machine—it is easily fooled by anyone with sufficient knowledge of the systems which compose it.  In other words, the account security for these voting systems would need to be impregnable, not only from foreign agents, but also from those running for office.  Due to the grand and illustrious history of impregnable vaults being busted, unsinkable ships being sunk, irrefutable evidence being refuted, and unstoppable armies being crushed, it strikes me as a point of absurdity to assume that any such system built today will last any serious amount of time.

The solution to this seems simple enough: just appoint a certain group, a set of experts—if you will, to continually update the security protocols.  Of course, this puts the entire democracy at the mercy of these programmers for its integrity, which undermines the entire point of a democracy in the first place, in that the government is derived by the will of the people.  We would be better off simply making the computer programmers the oligarchs of the new world order from the get-go to avoid all of the inevitable build up to that point.  Which leaves the second option: defending the physical counting machine.  This is also a doomed scenario because the defenders of the machine become like the programmers in the first scenario, able to unaccountably pick and choose what inputs the machine receives thereby determining the outcome.  Ultimately, this is not a new problem: every democratic system, above a certain size, will have a praetorian guard of some sort.  None of which is meant to say that technology has no place in a democracy, simply that technology does not solve the problem of the concentration of political power into the hands of a few over time.  So, to put a finer point on it, technology does not preclude in any way, shape, or form the establishment of a political elite who use the illusion of democratic approval as a protective shield, either as the wielders of legislative or executive powers.

Strip away every piece of government and political theory, until the very first portion of it is obvious, and we will see that government cares precisely not at all about the people under it because they are not its purpose and concern, in the West at any rate.  This singular purpose is the recording of property beyond that which is unquestionably within an arbitrary individual’s control.  Indeed, the entire function of government is to provide the threat of violence necessary to keep the integrity of property lines.  I could go into considerable detail regarding this facet of government, but this is neither the time nor the place for that.  Suffice it to say that physical property which is too large to conveniently command as an extension of oneself is the thing which demands the fomentation of a government of any variety.  To put it bluntly, a democracy, even if that democracy functions perfectly, places political power in the hands of all living members of a particular society regardless of their standing in terms of property which requires the existence of a government.  If all members of this democracy share a portion of this property, there is no problem as each member of the democracy ultimately has the same interest: the protection of the integrity of property as defined by the legal code enacted by this democracy; if only some members of the democracy enjoy the privileges of property ownership, then there becomes a schism in the end goals of the populace due to one group having property and the other not.  In times past, I would probably feel compelled to simply dismiss this schism as the product of the basest portions of human nature and therefore an ignorable affliction in an enlightened society, however, the past few decades serve as ample evidence that even the mightiest and most careful cultures can be brought low.  The moral standing of property envy is irrelevant at this point, it exists and must be countenanced and thwarted in some more robust manner than an appeal to fragile culture.  Until such a time as men become wholly divorced from their envy and petty jealousies, such that those without strive to achieve the same status as those who by grace have instead of simply using any and all possible leverage—including the use of government force—to deprive the latter group from their holdings, allowing such men, those who do not bear some interest in the ultimate good of the nation—and, by extension, the weight of property, dilutes or undermines the ultimate point of the establishment of a government in the first place.  Therefore, a democracy will eventually destroy itself.

Economics, the study of rational choice, is most assuredly a matter of concern for the democrat, simply because it is the ideal means by which men do their voting.  Obviously, the hope is for every voting member of a democracy to make his choices rationally, but the decision to vote is, itself, subject to a rational tradeoff.  It is a common observation that a vote in a democracy above a certain size is functionally useless.  A single vote in a nation of one hundred is worth considerably more than a single vote in a country of millions.  Granted, technological advances can make the costs associated with voting, leaving work early, time consumed casting the ballot, among others, much smaller but does little to ensure that a particular vote is actually worth casting in the grander sense.  Consider California, where it is not uncommon to find men of the right choosing not to vote simply because there is no point in doing so.  The analysis by these men is a simple one: there is a significant number of individuals within the State of California, to the point where an individual vote is insignificant, and the vast majority of Californians simply disagree with these right leaning voters.  A callous solution would be to instruct these people to move elsewhere, where their neighbors tend to agree with them, but this is an implicit admission that the discrete vote matters not at all.  Were the large scale democrat to admit that his ideology necessarily ignores the trees for the forest, I would have considerably less of a problem with the whole system of thought as the link between an increase in large scale democracy and the decline of individual rights could be more adequately documented and discussed.  To put it in a slightly more direct way, if a democracy exceeds a certain population threshold, then the democracy ceases to be able to effectively operate in a manner which is consistent with classically liberal thought.

Mob rule, or the tyranny of the majority, does not exist, in any meaningful form, but its close cousin, let’s call it the tyranny of geography, does.  For example, communities on the edge of the ocean have considerably different concerns than the community on a mountainside.  It would be unreasonable to expect the mountainside community to build houses on stilts to avoid tidal flooding, and the seaside community to have steeply sloped roofs to more effectively shed snowfall.  Such dichotomies can be found everywhere, with certain areas developing a particular solution to a problem which does not exist elsewhere.  Now, geography and climate can certainly cause people to behave differently discretely, but it has not been established that this would impair the ability of the aggregate of such localities to enact an effective democracy.  Indeed, if the total population of the seaside community and the mountainside community are virtually equivalent, then neither party would be able to force every house to have stilts or steep rooves, instead getting what seems not disagreeable to both.  The only problem is that such an arrangement simply does not happen in reality.  Let us examine New York State.  There is a collection of a few cities along the coast which dominate the entire policy of the state despite the rest of the state being of precisely the opposite political affiliation.  In other words, a concentration of people, brought about by geographic concerns, such as the suitability of a particular place to function as a port or commerce hub, may very well have certain governmental needs which do not exist outside of the densely populated areas, a governmental solution which could very easily eliminate the livelihood of these rural or suburban communities, and a democracy places complete authority over these potentially suffocating policies in the hands of those who choose to live in hyper concentrated areas without providing serious recourse to those in the boonies.  In a democracy, cities warp the political landscape to their own benefit, sometimes costing the smaller and more numerous communities which share its jurisdiction greatly.  If the wholesale ruination of the nonurban is permissible, then a democracy with a large footprint is acceptable; if not, then democracy must be limited in geographic size.

To briefly reiterate, a successful democracy would be fairly small in size and scale, encompassing a small area geographically and inhabited by a certain, relatively low, number of residents.  Bold claims to be sure, but not without historic precedence: I would draw your attention to both the Iceni tribes of pre-Roman Britain and the Her Majesty’s Privateers of the colonial era.  Both cases are successful democracies, successful in that they enjoyed social stability and developed cultures which further lubricated the systems put in place, with the community placing authority in an individual, either chief or captain, whose concern ensured that the democracy as a whole was benefited.  Should this figure of authority be found wanting, he did not have armies at his disposal to put down a vote of no confidence because his army consisted of his neighbors and friends who had a real interest in the good of the community as a whole.  In short, if the chief or captain failed to perform their duties in an acceptable manner to the people of the democracy, then removing them was an almost trivial matter: the army which did the removing was the army who followed his orders was the people who did the voting.  Of course, these examples merely show that a democracy does work on a local level but fails to evidence an inability of the system to meet the needs of a larger populace, in terms of both raw numbers and territory.  For this, we should investigate the history of Athens which, after having demonstrated its superiority in every possible field to its harshest critic—Plato, quietly fell apart due to internal issues between the various voting groups as these groups matured past their nascence within a few generations.

None of which quite addresses the most obvious point of a pure democracy: the laws or leaders enjoying the vote.  How precisely does the leader enact his will?  If historic trends are any indication, then a democracy is simply a form of government used to legitimize a dictator.  Does the democracy then choose to be of the form where every proposed law is voted on by the general populace?  If so, then one of two eventualities arise, either: one, the populace appoints, presumably by democratic means, a body of persons who propose laws, which is the establishment of a political elite who are naturally compelled to use their power for their own purposes; or, the laws are crowdsourced in some fashion, which would probably result in charming little laws akin to the naming of certain Antarctic Icebreakers.

All of these issues combined, or any one of them—really, is sufficient to fully dissuade the serious political philosopher from accepting democracy as some great panacea for the ills of society.  There is a place for democracy, to be sure—as it is very good at what it does under the appropriate circumstances, but its structural integrity is built solely upon its locality.  If a democracy reigns supreme over too large an expanse of people or places, then it will eventually destroy the very livelihood of those different people and places simply due to the nature of the thing.  This is an observation noted by the Founders, and was solved in their day by establishing requirements beyond that of mere life for voters and building the United States Senate upon the legislatures of the various states.  In fact, there was a little war fought over how ineffective these precautions were in thwarting the tendencies of democracies from 1861 to 1865, with numerous potential solutions being offered by one of the sides in that conflict.  More than any other factor, the spread of the belief of the justness of a pure and true democracy has contributed to the decline which is now so apparent throughout the West.  Insisting that more of the same is the solution is to argue that the United States, and nations like it, should cease to be one nation; a perfectly acceptable assertion, to be sure, but very different from the initial conceit of an objectively superior form of government for a nation of any serious size whose government derives its legitimacy from the will of the people.

I will post my response here sometime in the coming weeks, but I will note that Konrad appears to have completely missed the target by attacking the concept of democracy itself instead of defending the superiority of representative democracy to direct democracy. I have no intention whatsoever of defending the core concept of democracy itself, as my argument is neither theoretical nor idealistic in nature, but entirely practical, eminently possible, and directly relevant to the present political situation.

Up and over their heads

MC listened to the Day-Murphy debate on free trade:

I was unable to attend on Friday, but I just listened to the audio.  Excellent debate, loved the format.  Really should make anyone stretch their thinking as well as help them come to their own conclusion.  Admittedly I heard things I had not heard before and my knowledge base was expanded and continues to be with these debates. 

One point you made that “Let reason be silent when experience gainsays it’s existence”.  This seems to be the problem with most economists and Austrians is that they are so sold on their theories and their ability to come to a conclusion that is elegant reasoning, they totally miss the forest for the trees.  I think most economists lose the common man because the common man lives in the real world and knows that those elegant theories have failed to bring about a better result in reality.  The previous debate and this one has shown me that these economists are not too acquainted with real life and the practical effects free trade has had on this country. 

I did not vote to make my country poorer so as to make the rest of the world richer.  I am a Christian, but my benevolence is my decision, not one forced on me by my government.  I don’t think that is what God had in mind when he asked me to help the poor. 

Anyway, both of these debates are more instructive than anything I learned in college and infinitely more practical.  Please keep these coming.     

I wasn’t crazy about the format in practice, as it prevented either interlocutor from really pinning the other down, but I think it was both fair and useful in that it illuminated the arguments for both sides, at least for those capable of following them. I suspect it can be improved, but regardless, it wasn’t bad for a first experiment.

On the other hand, it has been rather remarkable to witness the slack-jawed astonishment of the lesser free trade advocates, who completely lack the ability to even begin processing the simplest of my anti-free trade arguments.

Who is this guy? I highly question his economic understanding.

All five of his opening arguments are extremely weak. For example, he puts forward the notion that decreased real incomes and increased indebtedness proves free trade doesn’t work. I mean, are you serious? How can anyone make such a stupid argument? As if free trade is the only determinant of real incomes and indebtedness, that domestic economic and fiscal policy has nothing to do with it? How naive must he be to think everything bad that happens domestically can only be explained by free trade. People give this Day guy too much credit.

This is further evidence of the inability to communicate across the 30-point IQ gap. The gentleman clearly doesn’t realize that he is attacking the same correlation-causation argument that I am, only he is doing so considerably less competently because he doesn’t understand that I am not making an anti-free trade argument per se, but rather, explaining the falsity of a very common free trade argument.

He makes the same mistake twice,in fact, as he also fails to understand that I am citing an empirical failure of the theoretical free trade model when it comes to quality:

The example he provides to show that protectionism promotes quality products was the example of Parmesan cheese in the EU, where producers of a definite kind of Parmesan of a cultural value get the legal monopoly on labeling the product vis-a-vis imported versions. In his opinion, the protected cheese is of much better quality.

Well, I guess that’s the case for government imposition of restrictions on trade, to ensure the nation state has high quality cheese.

Notice how free trade advocates are reliably dishonest, in that they make appeals to exceptions when it suits them and deny the legitimacy of such appeals even when the exception is valid because it disproves the free trade model. I could as easily say that one very common case for the removal of government restrictions on trade is to ensure the nation state has high-quality automobiles.

How is it intellectually legitimate for free traders to point to low-quality American autos in the 1970s as a meaningful example, but illegitimate for anti-free traders to point to high-quality Italian cheeses in the 2010s as an equally meaningful one? Especially when the latter clearly disproves the assertion that government protection necessitates lower quality goods for the domestic market.

What I found particularly amusing were those critics who simultaneously complained that I was making non-economic arguments, then insisted that my position was immoral or in violation of the human right to freely engage in economic activity. It never even crossed their mind that their arguments were considerably less economic in nature than my own.

One thing I’ve noticed is that midwits reliably fail to understand the difference between a positive argument and the critique of an opposing argument. This explains why so many people are, on the one hand, saying that my arguments are weak while so many others are impressed at how I have methodically destroyed the pro-free trade arguments. It rather reminds me of the atheist response to TIA, in which many of them expressed disappointment in the weakness of my arguments for the existence of God.

But they were only weak in that they did not exist at all. They were an altogether different creature, being critiques and debunkings of dozens of arguments against the existence of God.

Today’s lesson in rhetoric

An SJW white knight was attempting to attack Mike Cernovich over his observations concerning false rape claims. I joined in, and things went pretty much how you might expect from there.

Avram Meitner @AvramMeitner
Feminists aren’t responsible for rape! Spoken like a true misogynist.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
True. Feminists are responsible for fake rape, near rape, virtual rape, and regret rape. None of which is actually rape.

Avram Meitner ‏@AvramMeitner
Anonymous rape advocate.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
Why do you advocate rape? Is it a personal hobby or do you think rape is good for society?

Avram Meitner ‏@AvramMeitner
Anonymous rape advocate now tries to deflect from his rape advocacy.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
“I’d like to amputate part of your healthy baby, suck his penis and give him herpes.”
– Avram Meitner, rape advocate


Supreme Dark Lord @voxday
You not only advocate rape, you advocate child rape! Get help, you sick paedo.

Avram Meitner ‏@AvramMeitner
When a rape advocate is exposed, they naturally rely on dishonesty to squirm out of it.

Supreme Dark Lord @voxday
Exactly. You falsely accused me. I accurately quoted you.

Supreme Dark Lord @voxday
You lied, Avram. And you brought inferior rhetoric despite your obvious vulnerability to it. You failed Sun Tzu 101.

You are blocked from following @AvramMeitner and viewing @AvramMeitner’s Tweets.

It’s like clockwork. Never forget the Third Law of SJW: SJWs Always Project. They have no capacity for defense, and their inclination towards hypocrisy means that they won’t hesitate to complain about the very behavior that they exhibited first. This leaves them extremely vulnerable, especially in public, as others won’t hesitate to point out that hypocrisy.

They’ll start with rhetoric, then try to retreat to pseudo-dialectic; don’t fall for it, just stick with the rhetoric. If it wasn’t working, they wouldn’t be retreating.

Free Trade debate podcast

Tom Woods has posted Episode 684 Debate on Free Trade, with Bob Murphy and Vox Day, on his site. Below is part of my 10-minute presentation opposing the resolution, which stated:

Free trade is always economically beneficial in the long term,
and the more free trade is practiced by a country, the higher the
standard of living of its inhabitants will be.

The Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki once wrote: “The memory of having sat at someone’s feet will later make you want to trample him underfoot.” While I have been seated, metaphorically, at the feet of the great Austrian economists for most of my life, I harbor no desire to trample them. I retain genuine affection and respect for the Austrian School of economics.

However, just as the classical economists eventually gave way to the superior understanding of the Austrians, so Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard will one day be surpassed by the post-Austrian economists of the future. Is that day here yet? I will argue that it is, at least with regards to the doctrine of free trade.

The world has changed in many ways in the 240 years since Adam Smith triumphed over the mercantilists. The most significant changes, with regard to the topic at hand, concern the mobility of capital, a factor which was not accounted for by either Smith or Ricardo, and the mobility of labor, a factor which was never taken into consideration by Mises or Rothbard.

Let me first state that I accept Bob’s general terms with regards to both free trade meaning unlimited transactions between domestic and foreign parties, and national wealth being measured on average. I am presenting five arguments against free trade tonight: they are empirical, mathematical, existential, practical, and logical. Given the time constraints, it is not possible to go very deep into any of them, but each of the five represents a very serious and substantial challenge to the claim that free trade makes a nation wealthier in the long term.

My first argument is empirical. The conventional argument in favor of free trade has changed very little over the centuries, and was repeated this very week in a major essay by Francis Fukuyama in Foreign Affairs. It states:

  1. International trade has become increasingly free over time.
  2. Wealth has increased during the same period.
  3. Therefore, free trade produces wealth.

Or to put it another way, as Bob did in his excellent textbook, Lessons for a Young Economist, “If we imagine an initial situation of worldwide free trade, and then further imagine that an individual country decided to “protect” its domestic industries and “save jobs” by preventing foreign goods from crossing its borders, its residents would become much poorer.”

But this is not true. We have considerable evidence that freer global trade does not necessarily make an individual country wealthier. For example, although the free trade in goods has considerably increased over the last 50 years, real wages are lower in the USA than they were 43 years ago. So is the country wealthier? Proponents of free trade often cite growing GDP per capita, and it is true that since 1964, US GDP per capita has risen from $3.5 thousand to $54.6 thousand, a 15-times increase.

That means the USA is wealthier, right? No, because over the same 50-year period, total US debt per capita has risen 34 times. If your income doubles, but your personal debt goes up by a factor of 4.5, are you wealthier? No, of course not. Your perceived increase in wealth is a mirage.

Freer trade has clearly not produced greater wealth for America or Americans, but rather, greater indebtedness. This is not to say free trade can never benefit a national economy, but we have clear empirical evidence that in the case of the United States, it has not. Therefore, the resolution is false.

My second argument against free trade is mathematical. Free trade theory relies, at its core, upon the Law of Supply and Demand. But in Debunking Economics, Steve Keen cites the work of William Gorman, who in 1953 utilized mathematical logic to prove that the Law of Demand does not apply to a market demand curve. It only applies to single individuals, and it is not possible to derive a market demand curve by simply adding together the quantities demanded by all individuals at each price. In other words, the combination of all rational consumer preferences results in an irrational market where lower prices may or may not increase demand.

This proof has many implications for economics that have not yet been explored, and among the obvious casualties is David Ricardo’s theory of Comparative Advantage. The math literally does not add up. Therefore, the resolution is false.

Listen to the rest of it there. Brainstorm members will receive a full transcript once it is complete. I should note that Steve Keen informed me that there is a more substantial mathematical case to be made against free trade than the one I presented, but as it was his point and not mine – and frankly, I don’t fully understand it yet – I did not utilize it in the debate. I will devote a separate post to it later.

Mailvox: debate responses

We had a nice turnout for the Day-Murphy debate on free trade last Friday, and most of the 250+ registrants showed up for it. It generated more than a few questions, and here are some that later showed up in my email. NC wonders about the role of the state:

I greatly enjoyed the debate. Thank you broadcasting the debate and the work you put into the arguments.  I found the debate valuable as I mull over my own thoughts.

I’m curious if you have thoughts on this:  I think that your arguments depend on the existence of the state.  I compare your arguments to a similar case of discriminately acting on relationship principles; that is, if one is interacting with a sociopath, one would not act on relationship principles of openness and honesty, for the sociopath would not conform to those principles, exploiting them for advantage.  I think Trump emphasizes “good deals” over free trade because of the realities of coercive government institutions–nation-states which would violate principles of free trade like a sociopath would violate principles in a relationship.

If, after a generation of peaceful parenting, the nation-state dissolves, would not a free trade environment be the principled and logical environment of such a society?

No, my arguments depend upon the existence of the nation, not the state. If there is no coherent group of self-identified people sharing traditions, characteristics, and values, then there is no need to concern ourselves with their collective fate, as we owe nothing to them, share nothing with them, and can abandon them and ignore their interests without a thought. This, of course, is one reason why the globalist elite wants to destroy cohesive, coherent nations, for much the same reason they want to destroy the family. The individual is easily corrupted or destroyed, the nation, not so readily.

The dissolution of the nation-state on the basis of peaceful parenting does not logically lead to a free trade environment, moreover, it is about as credible as a monetary system that relies upon leprechauns distributing gold harvested at the rainbow’s end. That is pure libertarian fantasy babble, which is even less coherent than the Marxian withering away of the state leading to the worker’s paradise.

GO also thought rather well of the debate, a transcript of which will be provided to Brainstorm members:

I thoroughly enjoyed the debate. I have enjoyed Mr. Murphy’s writings over the years. I thought he mildly tried to take you on personally. You didn’t do that and stuck to the debate issue making excellent points. I also like Tom Woods. I think they both learned a lot by getting involved with you. I have begin to wonder about the rigidness of some of the Austrians. I am happy to see a challenge to them from a non-communist or socialist perspective.

I was actually quite pleased that Bob was sufficiently concerned by the arguments I presented in the Miller debate to view me as a potential threat to the conceptual status quo. This is extremely unusual, as for the most part, free traders consider their position to be utterly unassailable. As for Tom, he was not only an excellent moderator – I was very impressed by him and think he would make a great talk radio guy – but he made a very interesting comment when we met the day before the debate to make sure everyone’s system was working correctly.

He commented that the free traders had not helped strengthen their own position by failing to seriously consider the arguments on the other side. This is understandable, as for two centuries, their underlying assumptions more or less held. And it was easy to dismiss the impact of the Japanese mass-immigrating to Australia, as Mises did, so long as they weren’t actually doing it.

So, I think that even if I’m not able to convince either Bob Murphy or Tom Woods of the inimical nature of free trade, I suspect this debate may mark a step towards stronger Austrian arguments in defense of free trade. Unless, of course, I am able to convince the entire Austrian School that a rethink of its core position on the subject is required.

JK saw the same flaw in one of Bob’s arguments that I did:

Great brainstorm yet again! I was annoyed by Bob’s use of a country giving a bunch of free SUVs to the US as a reductio ad absurdum, but a country might use that strategy to destroy another country’s infrastructure, and that would definitely not enrich the country who receives the goods.

But  I would have loved to have asked him this, had I thought of it: if the receiving country is enriched by cheaper imports then surely if the other country produces all things and therefore the receiving country nothing, then that country should be infinitely enriched, no?

Well done Vox.

I wasn’t annoyed by the argument, I was amused by it. There is a very good reason dumping, or selling goods below their cost, is legally prohibited by most countries, and that is because it is correctly seen as harmful to the recipient. As I mentioned in the debate, I don’t think Bob quite grasped how damaging the welfare analogy is to his neo-Bastiat “free sunlight” argument. Free goods damage an economy in much the same way free welfare checks damage an individual; in neither case do they make the economy or the individual wealthier in the long term. Quite to the contrary, they make them dependent.

Are tropical countries where everything grows easily and the fruit just drops from the trees generally more wealthy than others? No, because the effect on the populace is not wealth-generating, but enervating.

Over the next week, I’ll attempt to respond in detail to some of the questions that were addressed to me during the debate that Tom did not pass on to me because we did not have time to address them.

Another free trade debate

This exchange with Louise Mensch on Twitter vastly amused me. In my book, it is right up there with the digression into sexbots in the James Miller debate:

Louise Mensch ‏@LouiseMensch
The idea you need free movement of people for a free market is a lie. We have free trade with USA without free movement

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
It’s not a lie. Read Mises: the same arguments apply. For full benefits of free trade, free labor mobility is required.

Louise Mensch ‏@LouiseMensch
no; we presently enjoy free trade with America no free movement between us either way

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
You can see exactly how NOT free UK trade with USA is here. Complete with tariff codes and rates.

Louise Mensch ‏@LouiseMensch
live animals?

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
3.8 percent on the sale of domestic rabbits, to be precise. Just one of thousands of examples. Demonstrably unfree trade.

Louise Mensch ‏@LouiseMensch
er… I honestly don’t think most people are going to count bees and rabbits Vox

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
It’s 5.7% on nuclear reactors. Would most people count them?

In fact, the USA and UK have neither free trade nor free labor mobility.

Anti-semitism debate, part two

Louise Mensch and I continue to debate anti-semitism, Ann Coulter, and the #AltRight on Heat Street:

Louise Mensch:     So you don’t care that the left was correct about your racism and sexism? 

Vox Day:     We don’t care what they say or what they think, at all.

Louise Mensch:     You obviously do care because you’re employing tactics against this, you’ve just described.

Vox Day:     No, we don’t care what they do or what they think, but we are certainly engaged in a cultural rhetorical war against them, but we don’t care what they think about us. We’re their enemy, they’re our enemy, and that’s fine.

Louise Mensch:     But you’re not employing this against the enemy. I never see these memes employed against the left, ever. I only see them employed against people on the right. John Podhoretz, Ben Shapiro, Cathy Young, people who are 100% on the right. You don’t seem to bother with anyone of the left. Not that … By the way, God forbid that should be taken as an encouragement to go off to burn Hillary supporters with this stuff, but it’s red on red fire.

Vox Day:     I’m pretty sure they get sent to anyone who attacks them.

Louise Mensch:     You’ve put Ann Coulter in a difficult position, because she has said, not convincingly at all, that she isn’t anti-Semitic. And you’ve just described how …

Vox Day:     I don’t believe she is anti-Semitic.

Louise Mensch:     Right …

Vox Day:     She’s not anti-Semitic.

Louise Mensch:     … but then a whole bunch of anti-Semites are running to her defense by tweeting Holocaust cartoons at Jews?

Vox Day:     That’s what you’re not understanding is that the fact that one is not anti-Semitic does not mean that you have any obligation whatsoever to disavow anyone.

Louise Mensch:     Ann Coulter though, is being defended by a bunch of anti-Semites who as their weapon use anti-Semitism. In order to try and prove she’s not anti-Semitic, that’s not very helpful, is it?

Vox Day:     Well, but again I don’t think that that’s the objective or the concern.

Louise Mensch:     Do you guys even have an objective?

Vox Day:     Absolutely.

Louise Mensch:     What is it?

Vox Day:     The chief objective for … I probably … I don’t speak for the entire alt-right because the alt-right doesn’t have leaders, but I am alt-right, and my objective is the preservation of Western civilization.

Read the whole thing there. Jerry Pournelle did, although he’s been finding the whole thing a little hard to follow:

I’m afraid I wasted my time in trying to follow yet another debate about anti-Semitism, but I never did understand what they were debating about. While America has a small number of genuine anti-Semites (under any definition of the term), they are pretty well irrelevant. As Irving Kristol once said, America is a safer and generally more pleasant place for Jews than Israel is ever likely to be. Now of course there are organizations, mostly but not all Jewish, that equate any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, but serious people, including Kristol, found that absurd.

There are of course places where there is real anti-Semitism, but most of them are Semitic now that the National Socialists no longer rule Germany. Fascism isn’t even anti-Semitic although the Nazi’s (who weren’t really Fascists) were. Mussolini had many high ranking Jews in his Fascist regime right up until he gave up trying to prevent the Anschluss with Austria and made alliance with Hitler. At Hitler’s insistence he began persecuting Jews, but it was not part of the Fascist – rods and axe – agenda until imposed by Germany.

But Islam certainly is anti-Jewish, right down to their Holy Koran; since many Islamic nations are Semitic – certainly not all, since neither Persians nor Kurds nor Turks are Semitic – the term anti-Semitic has more political meaning than descriptive accuracy, and is rather useless in rational debate – but on a practical level anti-Semitic in the Middle East means anti-Jewish, and at least to those who believe the Koran, means war to the knife. After the end of days, the rocks will cry out, O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him. Now that’s anti-Semitic. Only of course the Muslim who is to do the killing is likely to be a Semite.

Adding to the confusion is the very real problem I mentioned in the debate, which is that the only thing as potential dangerous to the Jewish population in the United States as 1940s-era German-style anti-semitism is insufficient anti-semitism. After all, DNA is destiny.