Friday, February 11, 2011

From RR
  • Spontaneous order. Thought of some of this recently when rewatching the ‘Star Trek’ episode ‘A Piece of the Action’, meant as a parody of aspects of America while pushing Roddenberry’s very ’60s (including the good early ’60s) notion that the government’s good and here to help. Thanks to another Earth spaceship’s interference 100 years prior, the planet in this fable (he was upfront about not doing realistic science fiction) is a caricature of Al Capone’s Chicago run by rival mobs with everybody carrying guns and ‘hits’ as common as traffic. So of course Captain Kirk thinks it’s his job to ‘civilise’ them by fighting and beating them so they become an Earth colony essentially. (It’s a sovereign planet: its law and order are none of your Yankee business.) Besides of course liking the semi-re-creation of ’20s America (Tripp: ‘it had hats, John; that’s why’) – using the old Paramount movie lots, sets, costumes and props to make a show cheaply, something ‘Star Trek’ often did – what struck me was how well the planet with ‘What government?!’ (as one of the bosses said) worked: it had its act together enough to make the buildings, streets, clothes, cars, guns, radios etc., even deliver the mail. ‘Spontaneous order. Now scram!’ I also got a whiff of WASP condescension to ethnics (the planet’s a little like Guidopolis on ‘The Simpsons’)... BTW the names sounded Hungarian to me. Being realistic I’d guess a society that violent, as opposed to something feeding off a larger, less violent society like the real mob, wouldn’t work; it would have self-destructed long before reaching the ’20s technologically and long before Kirk showed up. Thus the libertarian point that societies with little government and few laws, like in this fable, often aren’t violent. Spontaneous order. And... if by chance it did work, trade with other societies would have persuaded it there are more efficient ways than violence. An unintended lesson of Roddenberry’s tale: with their better ‘heaters’ Kirk’s ‘feds’ are the most violent gang of all.
  • LRC: Facebook Nation. “The successful use of social media and the Internet to obtain political objectives and build organizational and fund-raising capability actually began with the Ron Paul for President Campaign in 2008. More recently it was utilized to some benefit by Iranian dissidents and later in Tunisia. The battle is ongoing in Egypt but I suggest that this new people-power movement in politics using electronic media will spread far from the Middle East. I see it threatening oligarchies and corrupt political elites from Africa, to Asia, China, Russia, Europe, South America and even to the United States. RR editor’s note: Ever heard of Howard Dean?
  • Diversity, ends and rules.
  • The uprising in Egypt has discredited every Western media stereotype about the Arabs. The courage, determination, eloquence and grace of those in Liberation Square contrast with ‘our’ specious fear-mongering with its al-Qaeda and Iran bogeys and iron-clad assumptions, bereft of irony, of the ‘moral leadership of the West’.
  • In search of monsters to support. On July 4, 1821, U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams delivered a speech to the U.S. House of Representatives in which he observed that America was founded on principles of liberty and limited government that precluded our nation from going abroad ‘in search of monsters to destroy’. The idea was that although people in different parts of the world might be suffering under the yoke of brutal and monstrous dictators, it would not be the role of the U.S. government to send its troops abroad to save them.
  • The perils of intervention.
  • The constitutional liberty we lost.
  • Reagan’s overrated foreign policy.
  • My changing biz: the free markets not the feds might save it.

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