Month: December 2015

Environmentalism against Liberalism


The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP21 was held during the last two weeks at Paris. The event that comprise most of the countries of the world is supposed to generate a compromise on reducing pollution emissions to fight climate change. A noble ideal but as recent news show, regulatory states agencies do things worst for ecology. The event as usually is celebrated by the most statist left and questioned by hypocrite big government conservatives. But maybe there is room for hope. Surprisingly, the iconic liberal environmentalist Bill McKibben made a statement that almost sounded libertarian: “Climate Protest Movement, Not COP21, Key to Preventing Uninhabitable World”.

Bill McKibben is right about climate change because the solution is not to be done by governments but by people and communities who are going to be most effective. The problem is that the answer that McKibben and most liberal environmentalist propose is more state power. The climate justice movement has a catchy slogan that says: “System Change, Not Climate Change”. The idea is useful but there isn’t a real system change if the liberal environmentalist proposals are implemented. Karl Hess once said:

I don’t think you can clean up the environment the liberal way, either, through regulation. The only way, it seems to me to clean it up is to get back to the concept of individual responsibility, so that people are responsible for their actions; so that when you damage the environment, the people affected by it hold you responsible.

Now the fact of the matter is that modern green movement was born as reaction of both Conservativism and Marxism. The original Green Party had the motto: neither left nor right but forward. Initially they were sympathetic to anarchist ideas. In fact the legendary Murray Bookchin was a member of the local green chapter in Vermont. The fact that they weren’t Marxists at least originally made some problems with the left that accuse the green movement of bourgeois reformism. While funny enough, people like Reagan speechwriter John McClaughry was sympathetic to the Green Party with the time he condemned their defense of green socialism.

Today the answer of McKibben could not be understand by a suddenly libertarian instinct but by over-regulated spirit. The activists denounce the limits of the agreements because they were pushing for more. The protest is always welcome but it seem that it could useful some new ideas to solve the problem of climate change. I think free market environmentalism is the answer. Although I don’t think that what I have in mind is the same as Ronald Bailey, I think that cosmopolitan libertarians on issues like ecology are worse than even some liberals. After all the Koch brothers used eminent domain to defend XL Pipeline, an argument that made angry left-libertarians. Conservative libertarians had been sympathetic to some free market ecology although I think some still wait that a relatively sane Republican candidate would bring that to the table. While I had sympathy for both groups, I think that left-libertarians some time dismiss the possibility of electoral politics in process of ecology while the paleolibertarians are too hopeful in it. I think a character that could solve the discussion is Karl Hess is respected both by paleolibertarians and left-libertarians. His proposal for a libertarian environmentalism was both conservative and revolutionary. While the slogan “System Change not Climate Change” shows a distaste for liberal reformism, I don’t think eco-socialism has the answer. With renewal energies getting cheaper, the moment for a free market perspective on environmental issues is now but the problem is that there is public leader for that cause.

Karl Hess was a man of left but he never conflicted his radicalism with honest sympathy to conservativism. The Ron Paul campaign could had bring left-wing environmental concerns with free market solutions but it didn’t. Some talk about we are living the end of liberalism maybe that is true. But if environmentalism is still alive the question is whether their opposition to some agreements would then go in libertarian direction would be too hopeful. The answer is in the frontlines where people and their communities fight for the preservation of their habitat, a lot of times against governments, corporations and sometimes even environmentalist organizations.

Moral distortion

“We can’t refuse immigrants – that would be racist. We will just have to settle for implementing a police state to keep us safe from the consequences of mass immigration.”

I’ve heard Bill de Blasio, David Cameron and many other pro-immigration political figures from the West discussing why every consumer device needs a government backdoor installed into it to compromise its security so countries can deal with the social burden created by importing a third world underclass. Similar arguments are made for gun control. This line of logic makes sense when it’s granted that racism is the worst thing in the world, even worse than living in an Orwellian dystopia.

That’s an unnerving system of ideas to say the least. And thanks to my bizarre and recent habit of talking about Donald Trump with strangers at social events, I got to witness a genuine instance of “racism is insurmountably evil.”

I mention not hating Trump and the customary hush falls over the room, but some guy is willing to play ball and asks me why I don’t share the opinion of every basic DC bitch. I mention how he’s actually reliably anti-immigration, but how his most recent comments have alienated me, like when he mentioned that he wants to kill the families of terrorists. That’s eyerolly shit that neocons actually believe in their heart of hearts, a far cry from the funny-but-true, emperor-has-no-clothes type comments Trump is known and loved for.

Another recent Trump comment that I can’t get behind, I explain, is the total ban on Muslims entering. That’s stupid for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Shia, Ibadi and Ahmadiyya Muslims are pretty alright. But I point out that that comment isn’t really bad, in the grand scheme of things, since mainstream politicians talk about war and killing like it’s no big deal. War and killing is worse than mere discrimination, right? …Right!?

Wrong, apparently.

He mentions how that’s, like, racist and stuff. I mention how people in staying their original countries might be less than ideal, but it’s not as bad as killing. Noah Millman articulated it really well over at The American Conservative:

But why are these not more important hallmarks of an incipient American fascism than the fact that Trump regularly sounds like a more obnoxious and egotistical version of Archie Bunker? And why is saying “no Muslims should be allowed onto American soil until we’ve got a process for monitoring them” more outrageous than a threat to “find out if sand can glow in the dark” (Ted Cruz’s threat to nuke ISIS)? Why is threatening mass-murder less horrifying than threatening discrimination in immigration on the basis of religion?

I’m not saying that having a President – or even a major candidate – who spouts xenophobic rants is a good thing. It’s a bad thing. I’m just suggesting that we’ve long since gotten used to things that are much worse, and perhaps we should pay a bit more attention to that fact.

I point this out to the guy I am talking to, and then mentions how there’s people dying in Colombia. That’s obviously an exception that we’re not talking about, so he shows his hand as not having any interesting ideas and the conversation ends.

This kind of moral distortion that we’ve been expected to subscribe to is, for better or worse, probably part of the reason why Trump is so popular. People who live in most parts of the United States are fine with how they’ve lived and their assumptions – say, war being worse than racism – but are caught in disjunction between moral compass and that of political and intellectual elites.


Refugee SEZs op ed round up

My attention was recently drawn to several op eds which promote special economic zones aimed at creating jobs and opportunities for refugees. Here’s a round up of those op eds.

Peter Sutherland: Special economic zones could be established in frontline countries to attract investment and create jobs for refugees, with the G-20 offering preferential trade status.

George Soros: EU also should help create special economic zones with preferred trade status in the region, including in Tunisia and Morocco, to attract investment and generate jobs for both locals and refugees.

Anne Marie-Slaughter: Individuals seeking refuge from a toxic and deadly environment could be welcomed not into camps, but rather proto-cities where the “global community,” represented by international institutions, NGOs, governments, and citizens, can encourage hope of a different, more secure life by nurturing positive seeds of knowledge, capital, and liberal self-government.

Emma Bonino: Special economic zones that benefit from preferred trade status with the EU and the United States should be created, in order to generate investment, economic opportunities, and jobs for refugees and locals alike.

Markus Brunnermeier, Harold James, and Hannes Malmberg: Where possible, the EU should work with countries currently hosting refugees to establish development zones where displaced Syrians are allowed to work legally.

Alexander Betts and Paul Collier: Refugee camps and some urban areas could be reconceived as industrial incubator zones, where displaced Syrians could gain access to education, training, and the right to work.

Reiham Salam: Betts and Collier offer a more sustainable solution: Instead of herding refugees into camps where they are forced to subsist on aid, they call for the creation of special economic zones.

Paul Romer: To see what a real solution would look like, you need only remember three things: 1. It takes only a few cities, on very little land, to accommodate tens or hundreds of millions of people. 2. Building cities does not take charity. A city is worth far more than it costs to build. 3. To build a city, do not copy Field of Dreams. (“Build it and they will come.”) Copy Burning Man. (“Let them come, and they will build it.”)

Brandon Fuller: The zonal approach is a practical and politically realistic way to offer job opportunities to refugees—Syrian or otherwise.

Naguib Sawiris: I’ll make a small port or marina for the boats to land there. I’ll employ the people to build their own homes, their schools, a hospital, a university, a hotel.

Mark Lutter: To create a sustainable, livable city, where refugees want to move, there must be jobs, and for there to be jobs, there must be enterprise, and for there to be enterprise, the law must encourage it.

Mark Lutter: Create a semi-autonomous city in the Mediterranean for refugees. Importantly, the refugees would be allowed to work and own property and businesses, producing value and thus ensuring the city did not become a giant refugee camp.

And lastly, Refugee Cities and Refugee Nation are two non-profits which are promoting the idea.

H/T Michael Castle Miller and Brandon Fuller


There are two types of freedom, and you need to pick a side

What does freedom look like?

To Americans, the concept of freedom is easy: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These words, inscribed on the Declaration of Independence, define the ethos of the “Land of the Free.” When Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to wonder at the up-and-coming nation, he praised the extensive forms of “self-government” he encountered.

It’s no exaggeration to say that if Tocqueville hopped in a time machine and arrived in today’s United States, his impression would be far different. The liberty he witnessed in the farm fields and small towns did not subside as America industrialized. The country is still home to a great deal of freedom. It’s just that the modern version of freedom is radically detached from what was once a well-ordered tradition of civic and familial obligation.




The presidential election next year has lead partisanship to highest level in American Politics. While Democrats play to a multicultural identity politics with white candidates, the Republicans play white identity politics with multiracial candidates. Both sides commit excess like when liberals accuse Ben Carson being an ally of white supremacists and conservatives accuse Bernie Sanders of being a Nazi. Both claims are false while is true that some positions embraced by Carson are similar to people on the far right, I don’t really think that neo-Nazis or white supremacists would consider a black politician for president. On the other hand, Sanders fascination with Scandinavia isn’t because of their race but with its generous welfare state. Generalize that one side or another is racist had become a tactic for candidates playing to their base.

Donald Trump is maybe the biggest example of white identity politics, liberals had compared him to the Nazis, and however Trump is a loyal ally of Israel. On the other hand liberals love to accuse Carson of being a “House Negro” but when Ralph Nader said the same thing about Obama, liberals accused him of being racist. But it’s not only liberals versus conservatives, Kasich compared Trump to Hitler. Neocons distrust Trump despite his strong Jewish ties and hawkish rhetoric. Conservatives had for a long time argue the theory of “natural Republicans”, that minorities are traditionally socially conservative and therefore would vote republican but as Jim Antle wrote these was only a myth and that when it was time to go to the polls, minorities voted in an overwhelming majority for Democrats. There isn’t an honest talk about race by conservatives, Jack Hunter argue that a lot of people in the right are dismissing the Black Lives Matter movement and being hypocrites in respect of big government abuse by the part of the police.

Liberals are hypocrites on racial issues when they said they are in favor of minorities but attacked viciously minority candidates running against then. No matter if the opponents are conservatives like Carson, Rubio and Cruz or third party progressives like Nader. In 2003, the Democratic Party establishment endorsed Gavin Newson against a progressive Latino like Matt Gonzalez in the San Francisco mayoral election just because Newson was a Democrat and Gonzalez was a Green. However is difficult to predict if multicultural identity politics will always play in favor of Democrats, the victory of an Indian American like Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative show that minority third party candidates could made the difference. The Green Party has been savvy enough to make inroads with the Black Lives Matter movement, at least one leader in the movement seem to be running against an incumbent Democrat for the state legislature next year.

It is important that American politicians would talk honestly about race. Marc Fisher reflections on the GOP, show that despite having minority candidates they were lacking in support from minorities. Some people dismiss the idea of Black Conservativism, but even social democrats like Jeer Heet admit that these is a real ideology but says that is not what Ben Carson represents today. The idea of self-reliance for the black community is powerful, it was shared by both Howard Zinn and the Black Panthers. But in a mostly white Republican Party, minority conservatives spend most of their time in search for white voters than making inroads in their own communities. Democrats should also talk about race, for example how affirmative action has made complex the admission to college to Asian Americans. Democrats had for a long time saying that they are in favor of minorities however the regulations that they push had made difficult for minorities to start their own business and also the gentrification is more usual in liberal cities. I sadly had to admit that neither Clinton or Trump would speak honestly on race, they would do whatever to please their base. But maybe the Black Lives Matter movement could teach a lesson to all. Conservatives should learn that while minorities don’t usually support their ideas, they are protesting against the abuse of power by government officials in their protest against police violence. Liberals should learn to respect the fact that not all in diverse communities are going to agree with their agenda and that a lot of their policy made more difficult the life of minorities.

Isn’t the ACLU responsible for deaths that result from “hate-filled, anti-choice” rhetoric?

The National Rifle Association is the villain that everyone likes to remember every time a mass shooting happens. It makes sense, since blaming a conspiracy for policy you don’t like creates much less cognitive dissonance than blaming a majority of the electorate for it (you don’t hate democracy, do you?).

This is embarrassingly common, and is so mainstream that it almost doesn’t seem like a conspiracy theory. The NRA is supposed to have a never-specified hold on our government that prevents all the good stuff that every reasonable person wants implemented from actually being implemented.

But the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting has been a little bit different. Since the target was a place that performs abortions, there is another layer of politics that spoils the already-political soup: pro-life rhetoric is mostly the bad guy here.

Ilyse Hoge, president of abortion advocate NARAL, summed up the hundreds of thinkpieces on the tragedy pretty well in a Facebook post, saying that pro-lifers and people behind the Planned Parenthood baby parts video were ultimately responsible:

Sorry, David Daleiden. You don’t get to create fake videos and accuse abortion providers of “barbaric atrocities against humanity” one day and act shocked when someone shoots to kill in those same facilities the next.

It’s America. You are free to have your speech. The language you choose matters. You are not free from the judgement of the consequences of your hate-filled rhetoric. ‪#‎ColoradoSpringsShootings ‪#‎DomesticTerrorism

One of the replies to the post got a great deal of likes and took the idea a step further: “Hate thoughts + hate speech = hate violence.”

So we’re getting somewhere. This time it wasn’t the NRA. It was the bad rhetoric of people who don’t like abortion, and it’s being made clear that the “violent anti-choice rhetoric must end,” as Jessica Valenti put it.

So what’s getting in the way of a speech justice? Just like the NRA’s overly-broad interpretation of the Second Amendment is to blame in most shootings, the ACLU’s overly-broad interpretation of the First Amendment – logically speaking – must be the culprit here.

The civil liberties organization has defended neo-Nazi groups, oppose regulation of violent video games that Hillary Clinton has blamed for shootings, and opposes hate speech laws that many (most?) progressives think the First Amendment should not protect.

And presumably, they support the right of people to hold strong pro-life views and produce pro-life videos.

So if violent pro-life rhetoric is responsible for shootings just as much as access to weapons is, the ACLU – which is holding our country hostage like the Koch Brothers and the NRA, or something – gets a free pass for no apparent reason. Isn’t blood on their hands?