OK, I have to admit that I'm an Adam Kokesh fan for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that we can't have a revolution without revolutionaries.
I realize that sometimes he does outrageous things that drive people away from the liberty movement, like this moment, right before he was forcefully removed from the 2008 Republican Convention:
And sometimes he organizes events that seem silly, like the Dance-In at the Jefferson Memorial:
But sometimes, his methods give us a glimpse of what we're up against and reveal what the government really thinks of us. This weekend is one of those times.
Adam was speaking at a marijauna legalization rally. While I think that drug laws should belong to the states, to be honest this isn't one of my issues and that's partly because it isn't a freedom that the traditional GOP voter is ready to embrace (yet).
But Adam wasn't smoking pot, he wasn't carrying pot, and he didn't organize the event. However,the police moved in on him when he was speaking, and he was arrested.
The Kokesh wing of the movement has been aflutter all weekend about it, and if you want to know more specifics, I suggest you visit his Facebook page or click ont of the links at the bottom of this entry because I want to focus on one small event that will likely go unnoticed, and it's in this video.
This officer is answering phones that are apparently ringing quite a bit as people call to check on the status of a quasi-celebrity. You won't need to listen long, I promise:
Who is the provacatuer again?
This is why I like and admire Adam. He never loses his cool, and his ability to do so exposes small bits of the arrogant power structures we're facing.
And in case you doubt the authenticity of the video, this is Part II, where the kid who recorded the call shows evidence in his favor:
“There are people who call government an evil, although a necessary
evil. However, what is needed in order to attain a definite end must not
be called an evil in the moral connotation of the term. It is a means,
but not an evil. Government may even be called the most beneficial of
all earthly institutions as without it no peaceful human cooperation, no
civilization, and no moral life would be possible. In this sense the
apostle declared that ‘the powers that be are ordained of God.’”
(Mises, L. von. 2010 . Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War. Yale University Press, New Haven.)
There appear to be good theoretical grounds to suppose that the state, especially the modern state, has been a key factor in dramatically reducing violence amongst human beings.
I remember my parents telling me that when we travelled in South Africa (in the 1960s), they had to make sure that the [native black] driver could stay with us, at friends or in the hotel or in some other safe place, as otherwise he was likely to get severely harmed or even killed by members of other tribes. This post may provide an explanation why my parents had to take such precautions.
Also, I hope it will give pause to those who think that it follows immediately from the many defects of the state that the remedy lies in a romantic conception of anarchy, where the state has disappeared and peace services are exclusively provided by individuals and the market. In the sequel to this two-part-post "Prosperity and Violence", I am going to endeavour to show that
in the process of development, the nature of coercion alters. Rather than being privately provided, it instead becomes publicly provisioned. And rather than providing a means for engaging in costly acts of retribution, it becomes a means for promoting the creation of wealth. (p.50)
Below I try to reconstruct from excerpts some of the narrative - especially on the role of violence in societal development - contained in a great book of only 144 pages: "Prosperity and Violence" by Robert T. Bates. It offers an amazingly incisive and insightful comparison of the paths of development of rich Western societies, on one hand, and countries of the Third World, on the other.
Karl Polanyi refers to the transition from village to city, and from agriculture to industry as "the great transformation [...] (p.20)
As I shall show, kin relations provide insufficient assurance [...] to motivate the formation of the kinds of capital necessary for an industrial society. The assurance kinship provides, moreover, comes at a high cost. Analysis of these costs helps us to understand why it is not societies governed by kinship, but rather societies governed by states, that secure the great transformation. (p.22)
Bates goes on to analyse two vital aspects of development:
[...] the decision to form capital and the formation of institutions that render it rational to do so. (p.22)
In agrarian societies, families organize production, consumption, and the accumulation of wealth [...] They also manage power. Not only daily life but also affairs of state flow through the networks spun by birth, marriage, and descent.(p.30)
However, people in pre-industrial societies
[...] cannot shed risk by transacting in markets. Instead, they must directly bear the costs of uncertainty; they must self-insure. Two of the most obvious ways in which they do so is by making "conservative" decisions and by failing to specialize. (p.38)
[T]hey grow crops that while offering a smaller harvest, nonetheless offer one that is more certain [... They] remain subsistence producers. They are reluctant to plant pure stands of maize or wheat or to specialize in cash crops. [...] The costs in terms of the diminution of income yield, however, the benefit of increased security. It secures the peace of mind that comes from decreased risk in the face of a hostile nature. [...] That property rights inhere in families, rather than in individuals, renders families a means of insurance. [...] [M]embers [of the highly extended and geographically diversified family] can exercise the right to a share of the property of other relatives to ensure themselves against risk. [...] The dispersed location of the family estate yields a diversified portfolio of income-generating assets, thus reducing the level of risk. (p.41)
By the same token:
Just as families and kin groups self-insure against the risks of nature, so too do they self-insure against risks arising from the conduct of other human beings. Further constraining the economic performance of kinship societies is the nature of their political institutions. While offering a means for protecting property, the private provision of security by family and kin [...] also limits the accumulation of wealth. (p.42)
For deterrence to work, the threat of revenge must be credible. This system of governance requires, then, that men are warriors, capable of inflicting harm; it also requires that they be willing to retaliate, and be known to be willing to do so. (p.45)
There is a number of cultural practices that reinforce a sufficiently violent attitude:
In societies where families arm themselves and provide their own protection, military prowess lies embebbed in codes of honor, from which it derives credibility as a deterrent. (p.46)
Absent a reputation for being willing to fight, a person becomes vulnerable. Not only might his enemies view him as prey, but also his family and friends will scorn him, since their safety depends upon the support than can be expected from others. The incentives to fight thus run deep and once concord is lost, cycles of retaliation ensue. (p.47)
To be sure:
Private violence can work; it can produce peace. But the peace it produces is fragile. Once triggered, the system inflicts costs that mount over time: families span generations, and the wrongs of one generation cast a curse on the lives of those who succeed them.
To avoid the costs of private violence, people seek ways of insuring that retaliation will not be triggered. In so doing, they expose another defect of the private provision of security: in the face of the costs of the system, people may seek to increase their welfare by choosing to live in poverty.
Students of village societies emphasize the fear of envy. Others describe how those who become wealthy are subject to accusations of witchcraft and sorcery. In such societies, egalitarianism becomes a strategy in which persons forgo consumption for the sake of peaceful relations with neighbours. To forestall predation, they may simply choose to live without goods worth stealing. In such a setting poverty becomes the price of peace. (p.47)
As kinship societies expand, families inhabit diverse terrains; they trade and, better insured against the risks of nature, they secure economic gains. But the nature of their political institutions imposes important limitations upon their well-being.
The security they supply to the producers and accumulators of wealth is fragile. It lies imbedded [sic] in a culture of provocation. And should threats that support the peace have to be acted upon, then the system produces desolation and grief.
The political institutions of kinship societies impose a cruel trade-off; peace on the one hand and prosperity on the other. (p. 47/48)
The German caption translates into: Get ready for blind flying!! Yet again?
Killing people all over the world has become a sort of half thrilling, half boring pastime for the Western consumer of government propaganda (see also Panem et Circenses).
As a manoeuvre in self-importance, Western governments kill and create havoc in hapless foreign countries, carefully chosen for being the weakest and poorest in the world.
Who would risk, say, his job to safe a few lives in Mali? And if they kill one another, why should we not share in it, at least we bring the right values to the brawl.
The habit is so fashionable nowadays, i.e. politically correct, even the Germans put a toe in the pond.
It is the failure to understand that heavy handed intervention itself
creates new problems has been the central failure of American policy
makers ever since 9/11, witness the debacles in Iraq, Libya, and
Afghanistan. Blowback is the intelligence term used to describe the
development of a new and larger problem due to a military or political
action that is not carefully considered.
In order to avoid making a mistake, Washington inevitably and
automatically magnifies every hiccup internationally into a threat,
mobilizing massive resources that lead to the proverbial flea being
smashed with a sledge hammer. That there is some kind of existential
threat resulting from international terrorism is pretty much a myth.
There are lethal insurgencies and terrorist groups to be sure but most
have strictly local agendas and nearly all are being hunted and hounded
successfully by every police and intelligence agency in the world.
Terrorists ready, willing, and, most important, able to travel to Europe
or the United States and successfully undertake a terrorist action are
few, which means that the United States alone is spending some hundreds
of billions of dollars to counter at most a handful of extremists.
Which brings us to the alleged terrorist threat in Africa in general
and to Mali in particular, which might well be considered a case study
of how non-traditional military engagement driven by interventionist
policies can develop willy-nilly when some bad choices are made. What
kind of terrorist threat does Mali actually represent and how did the
current situation come about?
Can we handle the truth? Fred Reed retraces the historically gruesome function of the soldier throughout history:
Killing for your own reasons is criminal. Killing someone you have never seen for the benefit of a politician you have never met is a source of medals.
The grisly methods are infinitely diverse, but arrive at the common goal of death. Full article: Dulce et Decorum
“The history of civilization is a river on whose waters soldiers and politicians are fighting and shedding ballots and blood; but on the banks of the river, people are raising children, building homes, making scientific inventions, puzzling about the universe, writing music and literature.” - William Durant
A hearty "Good Luck" to the Caswells as they head into court next week:
We’ve discussed the nation’s civil forfeiture problems in the past. The drug war is such a window of opportunity for government, as is any war. No one knows where a leak will occur until one sees the drip. No one feels the power of a flood until the waters rise.