Jan 192012

CF-18All free nations need to define a policy whereby the conditions or triggers for military intervention are clearly defined.

The Freedom Party of Canada (while it has yet to field any candidates) has put together just such a policy. It can be found online at freedomparty.ca.

In part it reads:

“the legitimate functions of the military are to respond to and prevent unwelcome invasion of Canadian territory, attacks on Canadian territory, or other acts of war against Canada that occur away from Canadian territory (for example, as against Canadians held hostage by a foreign power or terrorist group). Activities or planned activities anywhere on the globe that have as their purpose or effect an attack on the life, liberty or property of Canadians are legitimate triggers for military response where prudent diplomacy has failed. “

The key point to this policy is that it not only identifies a direct attack on our soil as a trigger for war but it also correctly identifies the need to act preemptively to prevent an attack. It also expands the sphere of action outside of our territory. This would permit, quite rightly, the Canadian military to attack other countries or groups in other countries who have violated the rights of Canadians in those countries as long as diplomatic efforts have been tried and failed.

Let’s look at some recent conflicts Canada has been involved in to see if we have followed such a policy.

It took part in the civil war of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the United Nations Protection Force and NATO while none of our interests where threatened.

It helped to enforce the no-fly orders of the United Nations in the civil war in Libya when no threat to Canada or Canadians was involved.

It took part in the invasion of Afghanistan in a joint response with other countries to overthrow the Taliban government which was complicit in training terrorists.  I believe our involvement there was warranted to protect our nation against possible terrorist attacks.  Unfortunately, the reasons the government of the day cited for entering the war was not only national protection but to ensure Canadian leadership in world affairs and to help Afghanistan rebuild.  These are not valid reasons for war.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was none of our business.  We had no treaty with Kuwait to defend it and yet we willing joined the United Nations in removing Iraq from their territory.  Our national interests were not threatened.

At the time of the US’s decision to go into Iraq for the second time Jean Chrétien choose not to get involved.   While we knew that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction and was willing to use them (if you don’t believe this you have obviously forgotten about the Halabja massacre) and while such weapons in the hands of a dictator like Saddam Hussein were a threat to his neighbours they were no threat to us and I now believe that staying out of Iraq was the better plan. (At the time I, like many of us, was caught up in the drama and thought we should have assisted.)

What of Iran? Iran is a threat to our ally, the United States. It has an official “Death to America” day. It has called for the annihilation of America and the West. It is a theocracy which has involved itself in the training of terrorist groups like al-qaeda and Hezbollah. It is developing a nuclear weapons program and has recently threatened shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, a vital sea transportation route of vital interest to many nations including our own. If allowed to develop a nuclear weapon it is quite conceivable that it could put it aboard a ship and sail into New York Harbor and detonate it.

Some have said that Iran, like any other nation has the right to defend itself. This is not true. Iran, as a despotic theocracy which does not recognize individual rights or peaceful coexistence with its neighbours has no right to exist under its current leadership.

It is not a particular threat to Canada or Canadians as its eyes seem more fixed on Israel and the US, but if the US is attacked we should retaliate as an ally if asked. Should the US, or Israel preemptively destroy Iran’s ability to get a nuclear weapon? Yes. I believe they should. They have been threatened with what amounts to a declaration of War by the Iranian government. Iran is developing the means to carry out such a threat. They should be stopped. Should Canada join in such a preemptive action? No. We neither have the means nor is the threat to this country as real or immediate as it is to the US and Israel.

Libertarians in the US like Congressman Ron Paul, would have a dovish defense policy very different from the one of the Freedom Party which I described. Paul’s basic policy is to fight only after you have been attacked. This of course would be too late for those killed. A preemptive policy is the only rational one. Ron Paul would also remove the US military out of every other country in the world. I would grant him this: The US has spread itself thin in the world and can certainly reign in much of its forces abroad but to not have bases in areas which are of vital interest to its economy and survival is folly. Keep the bases in the middle east for a possible war with Iran; keep the military in Afghanistan because that country is far too backward to be left without being supervised by civilized adults; keep the military in South Korea and Taiwan for the possible conflicts that may happen there.

We can never forget how hostile a place the world is and how much we are all interconnected. An isolationist foreign policy is not a realistic one if a country is to maintain its interests and sovereignty. However, that being said, a jingoistic policy is also not desirable. Only with a clear idea of what it is you are protecting, who your enemy is, and what your vital national interests are can you develop a defense policy worthy of a free nation.

(Revised from a broadcast of Just Right on January 19, 2012)

Dec 222011

One of Christmas’s perennial favourites is Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.  What apparently makes this a classic is its underlying theme that one’s life, however ordinary influences many others like the ripples in pond.

While this might be a truism it does not in my mind make this a great film.  In fact, I would describe “It’s a Wonderful Life” as homage to the dominant philosophy of our time, that of altruism and certainly not a great piece of cinema.

George Bailey is the protagonist.  An ambitious young man with dreams of seeing the world, going to college and becoming an industrial engineer or architect.  He has planned out his whole life and can hardly wait for the day to leave his “crummy little town” of Bedford Falls.

George’s personal flaw, instilled in him by his father, who by everyone’s account is a poor businessman as the Chief Executive of Bailey Bros. Building and Loan, is both a sense of duty to others in his community and a personal hatred for the successful banker Mr. Potter.

Mr. Potter has a hard nose for business with little empathy for others.  It is this lack of altruism that riles the Bailey’s to the point where their hatred of Potter has made for very poor business decisions, giving loans to people the bank declines, which leaves the Building and Loan in a perpetual state of near bankruptcy.

George’s personal dreams are put on hold when his father dies and he ties up fathers’ dealings with the Building and Loan.  Potter, a member of the Board makes a motion to dissolve the company but George’s hatred for Potter gets the better of him and he persuades the Board to keep the business. They do so, but with the condition that George stays to run it.

George’s sense of duty to the down-trodden of the community and his personal hatred for Potter convince him to sacrifice (and I mean this in the strictest definition of the term) his life-long dreams and run the Building and Loan.  He marries Mary, they have four kids, and throughout the years the embittered man constantly regrets his decision to forsake his personal dreams.

Along comes the great depression and the Company narrowly escapes bankruptcy.  Potter tries to give George a way to escape his failing business by offering him a job at $20,000 a year.  This would solve many of George’s problems but once again his personal loathing for the banker causes him to refuse the offer with an onslaught of vitriolic, vulgar epithets hurled at his nemesis, Mr. Potter.

His deep-seated rage finally boils over when his absent-minded uncle loses the Companies deposit of $8,000.  With Mr. Potter and the Bank Examiner breathing down George’s neck he finally loses it.  He ruffs up his uncle, trashes his living room, frightens and yells at his wife and kids, tells off one of his child’s teachers, gets drunk, and drives his car (while drunk) into a tree.

Wonderful Life - Children 168x100Unsatisfied with his not so wonderful life and realizing that his life insurance policy will save the Company he prepares to commit suicide.

So far I have described the first hour and fifty minutes of this two hour and ten minute movie.  Up until this point George Bailey has undoubtedly hated his life.  It has been one disappointment after the other.  He never wanted to get married and yet he did.  He never wanted anything to do with his father’s company and yet he now runs it.  He never wanted to live in Bedford Falls but he has never left it.  None of his dreams have been fulfilled.  It has not been a wonderful life for George Bailey.

If you ask any who have seen the film this first part is often forgotten.  The last twenty minutes are what seem to matter to most viewers.

George’s guardian angel, Clarence, saves George from committing suicide in the most insightful way.  Knowing of George’s sense of duty to others, Clarence throws himself into the river first, thereby forcing George to save him, and thus himself.  So, even George’s desire to kill himself has been sacrificed for the sake of a perfect stranger.

While drying off from his dip in the river George tells Clarence that he wishes he was never born.  That’s how wonderful he thinks his life is.  Clarence grants his wish and shows George a Bedford Falls where he had never been born.  It is a town now called Potterville with nightclubs and gambling halls.  His wife, Mary becomes a spinster librarian, his taxi driver lives in Potter’s slums and the Building and Loan is closed down.

George becomes unhinged.  He tries to drink away his problem in a bar but gets thrown out.  He breaks into the house which was supposed to be his home. He punches a cop and gets shot at.  In utter despair he returns to the river where he was going to commit suicide and prays to God to return him to his real life.

His wish is granted and he finds himself surrounded by his friends who bail him out of his financial troubles.  The guardian angel leaves him a note saying “No man is a failure who has friends;” A nice sentiment to be sure.

The character of George Bailey is today’s everyman.  He believes his highest virtue is not himself but in helping others, while at the same time denigrating and hating the successful among us who do not share his ethic of self-sacrifice.

The end result of his philosophy is a life not worth living, a life of regret, disappointment, frustration, guilt and a mounting hatred for success.  At one point in the story George is deliriously overjoyed that he has just given away his life’s saving of $2,000 which was to go towards his honeymoon.

It is fitting, if not timely, that the villain in the story is Mr. Potter the banker, paralleling today’s Occupy Wall Street altruists who call for an end to capitalism, the destruction of the rich and the imprisonment of bankers.

Ayn Rand described the moral code of altruism thus:

“The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.”

This describes the motives of George Baily perfectly.

I’ll paraphrase Rand when I say that;

  1. George Baily lacks self-esteem – since his first concern in the realm of values is not how to live his life, but how to sacrifice it.
  2. He lacks respect for others – since he regards mankind as a herd of doomed beggars crying for someone’s help.
  3. He has a nightmare view of existence – since he believes that men are trapped in a “malevolent universe” where disasters are the constant and primary concern of their lives.

The movie is reminiscent of another Christmas favourite, “Scrooge,” based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Scrooge is portrayed as a banker, or money lender.  The casting of successful, rich, corporate executives as heartless, selfish, unsympathetic villains has become commonplace in popular literature and film.  The latest Disney movie, “The Muppets” has as its antagonist, oil magnate Tex Richman.  His name says it all.

The real villain in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is not Mr. Potter.  It is George Bailey, a man who lives for others, forsaking his own selfish desires, plans, and hopes; a man of duty to the community; a man of altruism and sacrifice.  These are the attributes of a man who finds his own life distasteful.  So much so that suicide is his only escape.

Allow me to take some license to propose an alternative to Capra’s “It’s a wonderful Life.”  Let’s suppose we look at George’s life if had followed his dreams and left to explore the world, go to college and build bridges and airports.  What would have happened?  Could he have impacted as many lives as he did as the Executive Secretary of Bailey Bros. Building and Loan?

I’m reminded of Frederick Bastiat’s piece written in 1850 called The Broken Window, or “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.”  Don’t just see what would happen if George Bailey never lived but see what he would have accomplished if he followed his dream.

I suspect he would have influenced more lives in his travels, his adventures, his education and vocation as an architect or industrial engineer than as a lowly officer of a loan company in the dead-end town of Bedford Falls.

But that is not the point.  It is not as important how many lives you affect, what is important is how you live your own life, whether or not you follow your own dreams and desires.  You have but one life to live.  Cultivate friends of course, but not at the expense of fulfilling your own dreams and following your own path.

I don’t know if that would have made for a better movie to have Clarence show us an alternative world where George lived his life with his own self as the standard of his morality, but it certainly would have been a more honest treatment of the evil and morally destructive philosophy of altruism, and a much more uplifting film to view whether at Christmas time or at any time of the year.

Dec 082011

Cristian Fernandez 168x100There is an increasingly alarming trend in society today and that is the practice of punishment which is excessive to the crime.

The Canadian government’s Omnibus Crime Bill has passed third reading in the House and has moved onto the Senate for its rubber stamp approval.  One of the more disturbing elements of the Bill is the provision for mandatory minimum sentences to be meted out to cannabis users and growers; sentences which are longer in some cases than those given to child rapists.

Mandatory minimum sentences have the effect of rendering a judge impotent in his furnishing a sentence fitting to the crime and its circumstances.  With mandatory minimums in place a judge can basically only pass judgment on whether or not a person is guilty or innocent.  The punishment for many will be prescribed by law regardless of any mitigating circumstances which legislators cannot be privy to. They have determined that regardless of circumstance a criminal must serve a certain amount of time for a certain crime.

These mandatory minimums are a reaction to past lenient sentences handed out be liberal judges to hardened criminals.  On that face of it alone one could somewhat agree with the reaction.  But that is only one facet of the problem.  The particular offences our government has chosen to apply mandatory minimums to are non-violent offences such as growing, or possessing a plant, cannabis.

As offensive as these changes are to our criminal justice system it could be much worse.  Marc Emery, the Prince of Pot, a Canadian citizen turned over by the Canadian government to a foreign power, the United States, for selling cannabis seeds by mail to Americans, a crime punishable by a fine in this country, is serving five years in an American prison for his actions.  From his prison cell in the Yazoo City Correctional Institution in Mississippi Marc has posted to his blog several  examples of outrageously excessive sentences given to some prison-mates, most of whom, like Marc, are in jail for non-violent drug related offences.

Christopher Norman – sentenced to 21 years, 10 months for conspiracy to distribute five kilograms of cocaine.

First time offender, Jacob Esquibel – 21 years, 3 months for ‘Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.’

Travis Rogers – 21 years for conspiracy to distribute 500+ grams of methamphetamine.

Antonio Andrews – 48 years – Convicted of being a felon in possession of firearms.  The guns were not used in any way and no one was harmed.

Cedric Jones – Conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine. – Mandatory life sentence.  No drugs were ever found on his person nor were any amount specified in his indictment.

Nathan Carter – Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine – Life without parole.

Bryan Jones – Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine – sentenced to life without parole PLUS FIVE YEARS!

Billy Wheelock – life without parole for possession of 99.64 grams of crack cocaine.

Curtis Bell – Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine – Life without parole.

Marc concludes his blog post with this warning:

“In Canada, the cruel mandatory minimums for cannabis and drugs soon coming into law will be augmented by the on-going appointment of Conservative judges to the courts.  This situation will produce much longer and harsher sentences, fill the jails, increase the debt, expand police powers, reduce the safety and freedom of the citizens, escalate the drug war, raise drug prices, increase the lucrative nature of the drug trade, and drain the taxpayers.”

One further and chilling example of an excessive punishment is the case of twelve year old Cristian Fernandez of Jacksonville, Florida.

This young boy, just into puberty, pushed his toddler brother.  The two and a half year old suffered a head injury which was ignored by his mother who only reported the injury after several hours.  The boy died two days later but doctors claim that he could have been saved had the mother acted quicker instead of taking time to download music on her computer.

While the mother is being tried for her negligence what is tragic is that young Cristian is being tried as an adult for murder.  If he is found guilty the mandatory sentence is life with no chance of parole for 75 years.  Did I mention that Cristian is only 12 years old?

My reaction to these sentences is in no way a comment on the serious nature of some of the crimes, nor on the fact that some of these people deserve to be punished for their crimes.  My reaction is strictly to the excessive and barbaric treatment these individuals are experiencing.

We often pass proper moral judgment on the behaviour of the governments of uncivilized countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or North Korea.  The stonings, beheadings, public amputations, and torture that so-called “criminals” receive in these countries go beyond the pale.  But given the current trend in Canada and the United States to increase sentencing for non-violent crimes and putting 12 year old children in jail for life we are not far behind these medieval countries and catching up.

Dec 082011

229 - Bibi Aisha 168x100In my writings and on my radio show I have continually passed moral judgment on the actions, writings, and sayings of others.  Although I do not judge indiscriminately, or lightly, I do not shy away from such judgments and I do not adhere to the biblical commandment “Judge not that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1.  Instead I adhere to the Objectivist principle “Judge and be prepared to be judged.”

It is common in our society today to think that we are not worthy of passing judgment on others.  This has been drummed into us from our not only our Christian upbringing which teaches us to be humble (as destructive as that is), but also from our secular public schools which teach us moral relativism, or more precisely, moral agnosticism.  The hypocrisy is of course for our priests and teachers to make the pronouncement that people should not judge they are elevating themselves into a position of moral superiority.

Two weeks ago I lambasted the Ontario public school system for their political indoctrination of children.  I stand by my assessment of the system but today would like to honour at least one teacher in that system, in this very city in fact who has come out and revealed a personal observation about the effect of such indoctrination on his pupils.

Dr. Stephen L. Anderson, a high school teacher in the Thames Valley District School Board, and a recent PhD in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, has published an article called “Moments of startling clarity : Moral education programming in Ontario today” in the Ontario Secondary School Teacher Federation’s publication Education Forum. This is what he had to say:

            “…I was teaching my senior Philosophy class.  We had just finished a unit on metaphysics and were about to get into ethics, the philosophy of how we make moral judgments.  The school had also just had several social-justice-type assemblies – multiculturalism, women’s rights, anti-violence and gay acceptance.  So there was no shortage of reference points from which to begin.

“I needed an attention-getter: something to really spark interest, something to shock the students awake and make them commit to an ethical judgment.  This would form a baseline from which they could begin to ask questions about the legitimacy of moral judgments of all kinds, and then pursue various theories…

“I decided to open by simply displaying, without comment, the photo of Bibi Aisha.  Aisha was the Afghani teenager who was forced into an abusive marriage with a Taliban fighter, who abused her and kept her with his animals.  When she attempted to flee, her family caught her, hacked off her nose and ears, and left her for dead in the mountains.  After crawling to her grandfather’s house, she was saved by a nearby American hospital.  I felt quite sure that my students, seeing the suffering of this poor girl of their own age, would have a clear ethical reaction, from which we could build toward more difficult cases.

“But I was not prepared for their reaction.  I had expected strong aversion; but that’s not what I got.  Instead, they became confused.  They seemed not to know what to think.  They spoke timorously, afraid to make any moral judgment at all.  They were unwilling to criticize any situation originating in a different culture.  They said, “Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.”  One student said, “I don’t feel anything at all; I see lots of this kind of stuff.”  Another said (with no consciousness of self-contradiction), “It’s just wrong to judge other cultures.”

This refusal to take a stand, to make a moral judgment on members of another society or on that society itself is the result of years of indoctrinating children into the cult of multiculturalism, into the dead-end, and I mean that quite literally, of moral relativism or as Dr. Anderson goes on to describe, ethical paralytics.

Moral judgments stem from a moral standard, an ultimate value, the survival of which determines our reasoning for judging something either good or evil.  Normally one would make moral judgments based on a standard or ultimate value.  For today’s educators and intellectuals this standard is the group or collective one belongs to.  Such moral standards are, for example race, gender, sexual preference, economic class, cultural, and religion.  If it is good for my race, my gender, sexual preference etc. then it must be good, if is bad for my group then it must be bad.  But who is to determine what is best for the group?  And what if I belong to several groups?  What if I was a Catholic, black, middle class, bi-sexual woman?  Who am I to make moral judgment for my group mosaic?

Obviously the answer paralyses the person into making no moral judgments at all and resigns the person to relying on the expert’s judgments on what is right or wrong.

In fact the only standard one should use to make a moral judgment is one’s own life and its survival.  What benefits the survival of one’s own life is the good what is detrimental to one’s own life is the evil.  When your own life becomes the standard upon which to make your moral judgments then you are standing on a firm ethical ground.  You are then in a position to place yourself in the position of another and judge empathically what is right and what is wrong.

In The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand responded to the question: “How does one lead a rational life in an irrational society?” thusly:

            “I will confine my answer to a single, fundamental aspect of this question.  I will name only one principle, the opposite of the idea which is so prevalent today and which is responsible for the spread of evil in the world.  That principle is: One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment.

“Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil.

“It is their fear of this responsibility that prompts most people to adopt an attitude of indiscriminate moral neutrality.  It is the fear best expressed in the precept: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” But that precept, in fact is an abdication of moral responsibility:  It is a moral blank check one gives to theirs in exchange for a moral bank check one expects for oneself.

“…so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible.  To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.”

Using one’s own life as the standard upon which to make a moral judgment and accepting Rand’s principle that “One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment,” the students in Dr. Anderson’s class should have responded to his challenge by saying that the family of Bibi Aisha were committing an evil act in siding with her evil husband by mutilating her and leaving her for dead.  The staff at the American hospital acted morally in offering her aid and protecting her.

The students could have gone one step further as I now will.  Any culture which permits, encourages, or abets in any way the subjugation of a woman or the mutilation of someone as a punishment for escaping an abusive pig of a husband is inherently evil.  To the extent that this is tolerated by the Afghani people is the extent to which they are all complicit to this evil.

Originally broadcast on Just Right #229 December 8, 2011.

Nov 172011
Black Market 640x380

Black Market 168x100“An anti-concept is an unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept.”

Ayn Rand – The Ayn Rand Lexicon pg. 23

In this case the anti-concept of “black market” replaces “free market,” meaning free from government taxation, and regulation.

It is an anti-concept because it is all encompassing of not only the criminal but the virtuous.  Take for example the “black market” of human organs.  If somebody kills someone then harvests their organs and sells them on the “black market” the real crime becomes the sale of the organs rather than the murder, while a labourer who sells his labour for cash and doesn’t claim it as income to the Canada Revenue Agency is also a part of the “black market” and is smeared with the same criminality associated with the murderer, and yet what the labourer is doing was perfectly legal, if not natural, prior to the implementation of the Income War Tax Act of 1917.  A labourer selling his labour for unreported cash in 1916 was an upstanding man earning an honest living but in 1917 became a member of the “black market.”

Today all transactions must be reported to the government, quite technically even bartered goods must be reported as income and the appropriate percentage of capital gain must be submitted in cash to the government.  If your neighbour helps you move and you pay him with a bottle of rum the neighbour is obligated to report the value of the rum to the government as income.  Not to do so puts him in the “black market.”

What was once a free market in trade for cash or kind has now been labeled with the anti-concept “black market.”

At the root of this is the improper belief that all economic behaviour falls under the jurisdiction of the government.  For a man to earn a living he must first submit to the tribe by giving them a cut of his profit.  This is extortion at the very least and slavery in essence.  This stems from a change in attitude of a civilized society of individuals acting in concert for the betterment of each player in a transaction to a tribal or collectivist attitude where a central authority dictates which transactions are acceptable and which are not; where a central authority coercively interferes in the livelihood of both parties becoming a parasite for the supposed benefit of the tribe.  Over the past 94 years (since the implementation of the income tax) most of us have become accustomed to this sense of tribal entitlement to the profit of others.

Another example of this sense of entitlement and the outlawing of what was once a person’s natural right to conduct business in a free market are competition laws, also called anti-trust laws.

“Under the Antitrust laws, a man becomes a criminal from the moment he goes into business, no matter what he does.  For instance, if he charges prices which some bureaucrats judge as too high, he can be prosecuted for monopoly or for a successful “intent to monopolize”; if he charges price’s lower than those of his competitors, he can be prosecuted for “unfair competition” or “restraint of trade”; and if he charges the same prices as his competitors, he can be prosecuted for “collusion” or “conspiracy.”  There is only one difference in the legal treatment accorded to a criminal or to a businessman: the criminal’s rights are protected much more securely and objectively than the businessman’s.”

Ayn Rand – The Ayn Rand Lexicon pg. 28

“The Rule of Law, in complex times,
Has proved itself deficient.
We much prefer the Rule of Men,
It’s vastly more efficient!”
“Now let me state the present rules,”
The lawyer then went on,
“These very simple guidelines,
You can rely upon:
You’re gouging on your prices if
You charge more than the rest.
But it’s unfair competition if
You think you can charge less!”
“A second point that we would make
To help avoid confusion…
Don’t try to charge the same amount,
That would be Collusion!
You must compete. But not too much,
For if you do you see,
Then the market would be yours –
And that’s monopoly!”
Excerpt from The Incredible Bread Machine – by R.W. Grant (1966)

The effect, and intention, of anti-trust laws is to hang a sword of Damocles over the heads of businessmen… all businessmen.  At any given time the government can, and has, destroyed wealth, raised the price of goods, and restricted economic choices under the guise of encouraging competition.  Ironically they have also created monopolies and subsidized one business over another in the same field.  Consider the banking industry and the telecommunications industry.  The government has also entered into private enterprise making it difficult for other businesses either to enter the market or to compete.    I am reminded of entities like Petro Canada (since privatized) and the CBC.

The businessman has gone from being an individual seeking profit by producing goods or services to willing customers to becoming the host of a parasitic society which feels an entitlement to those goods and services.  The businessmen, the inventors, the creative geniuses who create and sell these marvelous things which surround us have become a means to the tribes’ ends.

Whereas before we admired the innovators and businessmen, and erected statues in their honour we now tax them, regulate them and blame them not only for our failures but for their successes.  We now have labeled them the dreaded 1%.  And we, being the majority 99% must rein in their supposed excesses and bring them to heal.   They must do the bidding of the collective for the good of all and they must not expect to profit from their genius.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #226, November 17, 2011.)

Nov 032011

Libertarian UtopiaLast week on Just Right, Bob Metz and I discussed at length the failing of the Libertarian movement, how it treats a limited government as axiomatic rather than the result of a long chain of logical argument in a complete philosophy.  We discussed how the leaders of the movement are primarily anarchists who suck people into the movement on the promise of implanting a capitalist society based on the respect for individual rights when in fact their real goal is the complete abolition of government and sees all government as evil.  We discussed how there are some who call themselves libertarian but are actually like Bob and myself, advocates for capitalism but from a position that it is not axiomatic as I have mentioned.

I posted my part of last week’s show on my blog at www.robertvaughan.ca and put a link to it on Just Right’s public facebook fan page (//www.facebook.com/justrightradio).

It has received a rather lengthy criticism from Glenn Langton who, as I discovered by clicking on his name, was a candidate for the Ontario Libertarian Party in last month’s general election.

I will post Glenn’s comment in its entirety and follow up with some observations of my own.  Observations which I hope will prove my point of last week, that the libertarian movement and indeed the Ontario Libertarian Party is a party which promotes anarchy.

“LOL what a load of absolute bunk! I read the Article and there is a lot of oft repeated definitions that have been thrust upon the Libertarian movement, alot of preconcieved and rediculous notions tossed about by those who fear individual rights and freedoms, a free market economy, a sound financial system based on hard assets. as in any political party or organisation as well as any religious movement or organization there are to be found radical elements, people who have become disenfranchised in some form or another who find thier way to a place where they can find a degree of acceptance, these are by and large the few, of the many, in any organised movement … such is the case with Libertarians the vast majority of libertarians view government as it stands now in its cleverly disguised leftist socialist form as evil and despotic, because it is leftist, evil and despotic, most libertarians believe ther must be a minimal form of governmemt based on principals held in the magna carta, which was the basis for the earliest forms of British common law ” common” being the important word here where the common people may not be subjugated to government or monarchy, where the rule of law is applied fairly and equally to all regardless of social standing, where people are allowed to persue thier lives without interferance as long as they live by the commonly held rules of lawful existance. This was also the basis of the original U.S. Constitution which over the years has become ammended upon ammendments reducing its power to protect the people to less than nil by actually giving the power to the state, just as in Canada the common law has been disgarded in favour of statism 1 pen stroke at a time culminating in the rise of a communist to prime minister and implementing a charter that destroys personal rights and freedoms and gives all power to the oligarchists… If anyone would care to really know what Libertarians would like to achieve for all people please get past this type of rhetoric and talk to some real Libertarians people like Neil Peart, Drew Cary, Clint Eastwood, or myself or any member of the Libertarian party in your area, I would talk to a few…rather than listen to people outside the movement define what we are ( a common political tactic … “define or be defined” being the rule ) I researched for quite awhile and went to speak to people within the movemenmt for a few months before I joined I am none of the things this article states Libertarians are and that is the crux of my post and the issue I have with this article… this person is absolutely incorrect.”

( The post was copied as is.  The layout, typos and grammatical mistakes are those of the author and not mine)

I grant that this is not what I would call a critical review of my article but instead an emotional reaction.  While this is often the norm for comments posted on facebook I would have expected a little more care be put into the rebuttal considering he is someone who ran to become a member of the Provincial Parliament.

To take his last point first, as I explained on last week’s show I was a member and supporter of the Ontario Libertarian Party in 1985 and was asked by one of its most prominent leaders, Kaye Sargent, to run.  I declined the offer.   So, to infer that I am someone who is not familiar with the local movement (at least historically) is incorrect.  With further study, and it didn’t take long, I realized that the Libertarian Party was fundamentally an anarchist movement and not going to get anywhere advocating its anti-government platform.  I stopped supporting the Party that same year.

I will move beyond the more opinionated criticisms, such as calling my article “bunk” and “rediculous” (sic).  As for containing preconceived notions?  I would have to agree.  Many before me have had the notion that libertarianism is anarchism at its root.  In this sense my notions agree with their preconceived ones.

Glenn suggests that my criticisms must come from a fear of individual rights, freedom, and a free market.  All I can say is I guess he doesn’t know me very well and I would suggest he read some of my other articles or perhaps listen to the archived episodes of Just Right.

Glenn admits that like any organization it has it elements of radicals, and the disenfranchised.  Perhaps, but later on I will demonstrate that in the case of libertarianism these radicals and disenchanted are the leaders and intellectuals of the movement.

Glenn believes that government must be based on the principals held in the Magna Carta, and that the document was the basis for the US Constitution.  While I admit I am not a political historian, to suggest that the the Magna Carta or even the US Constitution in its original form should be the basis for a government only goes to demonstrate my point that libertarians take government as an axiom, as a primary.  These legal documents are the end result of, no doubt, many decades of philosophic discussion on the nature of liberty and rights.  They are not primaries but consequences of a broader philosophy.

It is interesting to note that the US Constitution in its original form resulted from the overthrow of a country which had in its own law…the Magna Carta.

Now I promised to demonstrate that in the libertarian movement if it is the few who are the radicals, the disenfranchised or the anarchists, then these few are its leaders and intellectuals; those at the top.

Consider the Leader of Glenn’s own Ontario Libertarian Party, Sam Apelbaum. I quote from Mr. Apelbaum’s “Leader’s Report” of the Spring of this year (//libertarian.on.ca/spring-2011-vol-31-no-3/leader%E2%80%99s-report-sam-apelbaum).  In it he compares our current political mainstream culture with the libertarian culture (the emphases are mine).

“Contrast the above with a culture which does not trust the state, does not like it, does not want anything from it, does not respect it, wants to get rid of it in every possible way as quickly as possible and, having done so, wants to get rid of it some more until ultimately the dangerous, unnecessary and chaotic institution completely disappears.  The sooner we experience this sort of thinking in significant numbers, the sooner we will see an end to the obstructions of the state and a concomitant liberation of human potential.”

This is the promotion of anarchy.  It can be taken no other way.

Glenn’s page on Facebook links to the Wikipedia article on the Ontario Libertarian Party which reads in part,

“The Party is influenced by authors and thinkers like Jan Narveson and Murray Rothbard”

The political ideology of Mr. Rothbard we covered on last week’s show.  He described himself as an anarcho-capitalist. In short, an anarchist.

Jan Narveson is also described in Wikipedia as an anarcho-capitalist and contractarian.

And finally, this year’s Annual General Meeting and Liberty Seminar of the Ontario Libertarian Party had as its keynote speaker, Stefan Molyneux.  Mr Molyneux is an anarchist whose blogs, podcasts and videos can be seen on the internet.  His is the author of the book Practical Anarchy.

As I mentioned in my article and on last week’s show libertarianism is an ideology of anarchy.  While I know for a fact that there are many good people who call themselves libertarian I believe that they have been taken in by the movement which promises less government and more freedom but at its root, as I hope I have demonstrated, is anarchistic.  The leaders of the libertarian movement are no friends of liberty but are, rather, simply haters of government.

Glenn ended his comment on my article by saying that:

“I am none of the things this article states Libertarians are.”

I am glad to hear it, Glenn.  But if you are not the kind of anarchists your own party leader and party intellectuals are then the question remains; what kind of libertarian are you?

Oct 272011

Libertarian AnarcyIn 1986, Peter Schwartz, of The Intellectual Activist and Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Ayn Rand Institute, wrote an analysis of Libertarianism called Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty.  In it he takes apart the philosophy of Libertarianism and lays it bare. What is left is a failed movement of the left, not unlike the Occupy Wall Street protests in its chaotic makeup and distorted messages.

Just as the Occupy Wall Street movement has attracted people from all political persuasion, but primary from the left, so too the “big tent” of Libertarian movement has attracted a diverse group of people, often from competing philosophical camps.

The term Libertarian was first coined in 1857 by anarcho-communist, Joseph Déjacque.  Its intellectual leaders in more modern times were people like the libertarian-socialist or anarcho-syndicalist, Noam Chomsky, and the anarchist, Murray Rothbard.  Rothbard actually thought of himself as an anarcho-capitalist which is of course an oxymoronic term.

The writings of Ayn Rand, Frédéric Bastiat, and Ludwig von Mises have also influenced the modern development of the Libertarian movement but it has been the method of libertarians to pick and choose what they like in the writings of these people and reject anything that may suggest any moral instruction.

Ayn Rand was not a libertarian.  She was an advocate for capitalism.  Libertarians are anti-state while Rand was pro-freedom.  Rand saw authority, properly defined and constrained, to be a necessary and proper element in any free society while libertarians consider any authority to be a necessary evil, but evil just the same.

To quote Rand:

“…I disapprove of, disagree with, and have no connection with, the latest aberration of some conservatives, the so-called “hippies of the right,” who attempt to snare the younger or more careless ones of my readers by claiming simultaneously to be followers of my philosophy and advocates of anarchism.  Anyone offering such a combination confesses his inability to understand either.  Anarchism is the most irrational, anti-intellectual notion ever spun by the concrete-bound, context-dropping, whim-worshiping fringe of the collectivist movement where it belongs.” (The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Harry Binswanger, the Objectivist philosopher and associate of Ayn Rand had this to say of Libertarians:

“In the philosophical battle for a free society, the one crucial connection to be upheld is that between capitalism and reason.  The religious conservatives are seeking to tie capitalism to mysticism; the “libertarians” are tying capitalism to the whim-worshiping subjectivism and chaos of anarchy.  To cooperate with either group is to betray capitalism, reason, and one’s own future.” (The Ayn Rand Lexicon)

Libertarians have accepted many tenets of Rand’s political philosophy but have rejected her metaphysics, epistemology, but most of all her ethics.  Anyone who would suggest a system of morality to a libertarian is thought of as being authoritarian and of imposing a subjective set of standards of behaviour on them.  They would ask ‘who are you to decide what is the right or wrong way for a person to act?’  Or, ‘How can you say for certain what is moral?’  The Libertarian would laud Rand for her advocacy of capitalism, her politics, but they accept it only as a concrete; a system of economics and politics devoid of the fundament from which it arose.

This strikes to the heart of the fault with libertarianism.  A libertarian is unable to properly defend capitalism, or even liberty for that matter, except in concrete and pragmatic terms.  Their arguments defending capitalism are economic, such as having ‘sound money based on gold would prevent run-away inflation’ or pragmatic, ‘more people benefit from capitalism than from communism.’

Freedom and capitalism to a libertarian exist outside of any other philosophic context or framework.  Yet it is this framework which precedes and supports the concepts of freedom and capitalism.  If you refuse to understand the necessary philosophic pre-conditions for capitalism then you cannot properly defend it.  Capitalism becomes just another system like any other ‘ism.’  It will be thought of as just as valid as any other political or economic system and will fall – as it is doing – due to ignorance of its moral, epistemological and metaphysical roots.

Rand spent much of her life defending the philosophic foundation of capitalism.  It is an integral part of a complete philosophy which extols man as a heroic being not some hippie living in a commune where ‘anything goes’ as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.  Liberty, to Rand, was a necessary condition if man was, not only to survive, but to rise to a limitless potential.

Liberty is something to be defended vigorously but it must be done properly.  Liberty without a philosophic context will fall to anyone with a pragmatic excuse for abolishing it.  Capitalism stands on a solid ethical foundation and to reject the foundation is to reject capitalism.   Libertarians reject the foundation and therefore reject capitalism and are therefore enemies of liberty not advocates for it.

The tragic result of modern libertarian political parties today is that they attract true advocates of capitalism.  These individuals are reaching out, often in desperation, to any political movement they think will promote freedom and capitalism.  Unfortunately, these kinds of libertarians, the pro-freedom and not simply anti-state libertarians are not actually libertarians at all and their passion for freedom is being swallowed up by a collective of irrational leftists.

Consider the inhabitants of the big tent which is libertarianism:

  • The anarchists promoting a stateless society.
  • The geo-libertarians who believe that land is an asset held in common and anyone claiming any land to be private must pay a rent to the commons for the benefit of restricting entry to others.
  • The left-libertarians or the libertarian-socialists who oppose capitalism and wage labour.
  • And the right-libertarians who claim to support capitalism but only as an economic system not as an integrated political ideal in a greater philosophy.
  • There is also a small faction of angst ridden nihilists, who claim that morality doesn’t exist.  The youth of today might call them ‘emos’.

Such a large group of competing ideologies are held together by one underlying common agreement, hatred of authority.

Such a collective is no place for an advocate of freedom or capitalism.  Those that stay don’t stay for long.  They soon find that while they may share a common belief that we are over-governed that is where the commonality ends.

To these people I would suggest channeling your energy into promoting freedom, not tearing down government for the sake of it.

(Originally aired on Just Right #223, October 27, 2011.)

Oct 202011

Wall SreetAlthough the occupiers of Wall Street are for the most part, incoherent in their message one phrase has been repeated often enough to be recognized as a particular grievance of the participants, “crony capitalism.”

Cronyism has generally been understood to mean the hiring or promotion of one’s friends into positions of authority or responsibility.   If it takes place in the private realm of a private company this may not seem to be of any concern to anyone, except perhaps the shareholders of the company.  If the person hired is incompetent then the decision may be a bad business move but there is certainly nothing illegal about it, nor should there be.

However, today crony capitalism is meant to refer to the cozy relationship the captains of industry, banking and finance have with those in government.

The TARP bailout of the Bank of America and Citigroup, the bailout of the auto industry, the revolving door between personnel in the US government and Goldman Sachs, these are just some of the examples of cronyism of a kind that that should be properly labeled government cronyism and not crony capitalism.

Crony capitalism of the kind the Occupiers complain about could not exist without a government which has squandered trillions of dollars in bailouts and favoritism.  Without the assistance of successive US governments from Nixon’s bailout of Penn Central Railroad to Obama’s bailout of General Motors crony capitalism, as it is called, could not exist.  So rather than protesting on Wall Street the Occupiers should be camped out in Washington.  Of course this will not occur since in any equation involving government and business it is always business which will be the target of left-wing protest.

This use of hyphenated capitalism is not new.  We’ve had libertarians promote something called anarcho-capitalism.  Then there is “free market capitalism,” “mercantile capitalism,” “industrial capitalism,” “financial capitalism,” and “welfare capitalism.”

All of these variant forms of what is supposed to be capitalism are just examples of government involvement in the economy, in a word, fascism.

These hyphenated types of capitalism can be broken down into two groups.  One group requires the intrusion of the state into the economy; the other requires that there be no government at all.  Both are abominations of the noble ideal of capitalism.

As an aside there is one other hyphenated form of capitalism, “laissez faire” capitalism, which when understood properly simply means capitalism.  This is why you rarely hear me speak of capitalism as laissez faire since use of the term is redundant.

When the state favours one company over another as in cronyism or bailouts, or when the state creates marketing boards, anti-trust laws, or competition bureaus we are not seeing capitalism at work we are witnessing the misuse of government power to rig the economy.  We are witnessing a properly hyphenated form of socialism called fascist-socialism: the existence of private property yet controlled by government.

When libertarians speak of anarcho-capitalism, unfettered capitalism or naked capitalism they are speaking of anarchy, plain and simple.  And capitalism cannot exist in anarchy.

In order for capitalism, real unhyphenated capitalism, to exist the individual capitalists must live in a country where their individual rights to their lives, their liberty and the property are protected by a government which is founded on reason and administers laws which are objective and play no favourites.

In a truly capitalist society the government is the referee, not a player.   In a capitalist economy there are no bailouts, no subsidies, no preferential treatment, or marketing boards.  A truly capitalist society is one where the government and the economy are truly separate.  The government does not own the banks, does not issue charters for banks, and does not issue a fiat currency or print money.  A capitalist society would not see tariffs on trade, corporate taxes, restrictions on CEO salaries, or government departments deciding whether or not one company can buy-out another.  The government in a capitalist society would not restrict trade nor promote it.  It would not invest in job-creation schemes nor set minimum wages.  In fact a capitalist society would see the government restricted to protecting people’s individual rights.  That is it.  It would do this through the enforcement of laws objectively derived at.

Such a society would not be utopian but its government would be acting morally.  The ills which plaque us, violence, theft, indolence, poverty would still exist but they would not be as a result of deliberate government programs and interference in our lives.  The government would play an important role in our lives, however.  It would enforce our contracts, it would catch and incarcerate criminals, it would defend our borders, it would make sure that our rights are protected and not restricted.

It must be obvious that we do not live in a truly capitalist society.  In this respect, anyone protesting crony capitalism, as it is misnamed, are justified in their desire to see the separation of the government and the economy.

Some of the protesters at the occupation of Wall Street have been properly speaking out against such intrusions into the economy.  You will hear them complain of the fractional reserve system of banking, government bailouts, stimulus spending, fiat currency, and inflation policies.  These protestors are few and are often shouted down by the more numerous left-wing protestors who are there to malign business, capitalism, consumerism and wealth.

My advice to such honest protesters is to go home.  Occupy Wall Street is a protest created by the left.  By people who hate business, capitalism, and freedom.  To use their venue to promote a proper restraining of government is only going to weaken your argument.  Let’s leave these kooks alone to blow off their steam and when the dust settles the more rational among us can promote a proper government by writing, lecturing and taking our legislators to task whenever they do wrong and by congratulating them when they get it right.  Let the left alone to do what they do well, scream and yell.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #222, October 20, 2011.)

Oct 202011

Yue Yue and MotherLast Thursday a little girl was run over on a street in Foshan City in Communist China.  A dozen passersby ignored her writhing moaning body as it lay in a pool of blood.  Another truck came by, slowed down, and then ran over her legs.  Yet more passersby ignored her until a garbage collector came and moved her to the side of the street and looked for her mother.

The images were gruesome and horrifying.  The fact that so many ignored her as just some piece of road-kill has become the topic of controversy around the world.  Why would someone ignore a small child in obvious need of help?  If but one of them stopped to help she wouldn’t have been run over for the second time.  What goes through the minds of people who choose not to get involved when such little effort could have prevented so much suffering?

An article in the National Post on Tuesday enumerated several possible reasons.  The driver of the truck which initially struck the toddler said that,

“If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan.  But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands (of) yuan.”

Some said that would-be Good Samaritans are usually held liable for damages or wrongly accused of being a perpetrator and do not assist out of fear of being arrested, imprisoned or sued.

Some blamed a lack of morals brought on by the destruction of the family unit, a lack of religion in officially atheist Communist China, a population crisis of too many people in such a small area.

Unmentioned in the article is neither the official one-child policy of the Chinese government nor the extremely high incidences of female child abortion or infanticide in that country.

What is highlighted in the National Post article is a belief that capitalism is to blame for the lack of compassion in Chinese society.

Professor James Miller of Queen’s University in Kingston was quoted as saying that,

“There is a gold-rush mentality – people are clambering over other people to try to make ends meet, to try to get ahead.  With the adoption of capitalism, it is seen as being all about self-interest.”

There is so much wrong in Professor Miller’s statement it is hard to know where to begin.

People are trying to make ends meet all over the world including in this country and yet a child run over by a truck would receive immediate aid here as it would in many parts of the world.

To say that Communist China has adopted capitalism is laughable.  It would be laughable for anyone who knows what capitalism means.  For this I will need to distinguish between a person being a capitalist and the overriding economic term of capitalism.

Throughout history there have been capitalists, in every country, in almost every period of history.  A capitalist is simply an individual who uses his property or capital as a means to create a profit.  A land owner who rents out his land, a money lender who gives a loan to someone and charges interest, a wage earner who has saved enough to invest in somebody else’s venture, a Bed and Breakfast owner who rents out their bedroom for the night, an industrialist who owns a factory employing thousands to produce widgets.  All are capitalists.  They use their property or capital to earn income or profit.

Such people can be distinguished from others who, rather than having or using capital for gain, sell their skills or brawn for a wage: a line-worker at an auto plant, a farm hand, a government bureaucrat, a clerk in an office.

Prior to the mid19th century capitalists were referred to as individualists.  But whether it was in 20th century America or 17th century England the individualists relied on government to protect their individual rights to use their capital to earn money.  For many it was just a livable wage but for the fortunate and adept the rewards amounted to fortunes.

For the workers, this disparagement in wealth was inexplicable.  They did not realize what efforts the capitalists took to gain their initial capital nor could they appreciate the risk the capitalists took when they invested their capital in ventures.  This ignorance, led to envy which has led, in some corners of the world to civil wars.  In the West it may not have led to such bloodthirsty revolutions as in Soviet Russia or Communist China but it has led to envy and hatred.  Emotions fueled by a complete ignorance.

Capitalism is a political system which protects the individual rights of its citizens.  When a person’s right to their life, liberty and property (amongst others) are protected then they can pursue economic activities beyond menial labour.  They can invest, enter into long-term contracts, develop their property and employ people to create wealth.  Without the assurances that their rights are being protected their risks are multiplied.  They may find themselves victims of government bureaucratic whims, police corruption, graft, and bribes.

That is why it comes as no surprise when I hear a well-healed Canadian university professor blame China’s capitalism on the indifference shown to the little toddler run over in the street.

Professor Miller, like so many, has very little understanding of what capitalism means.  Although a scholar of religion and Chinese culture he is ignorant of his own society’s history and culture.  He is not alone.  The thousands who are occupying Wall Street have proven themselves to be utter morons when it comes to understanding the society which has given them so much in terms of wealth and opportunity.

But capitalism is more than just a political or economic system.  An ideal capitalist, or to use the arcane term, an individualist is a person who has come to an understanding about nature and knowledge.  He knows that nature to be commanded must be obeyed.  How else could an auto manufacturer mold the metal from the earth into cars and buses?  He respects knowledge and years to learn as much as possible about his business.  How else it to succeed in a world where there are many others to compete with?

But there is a virtue, held not only by capitalists but by many workers as well, that drives them to perform above and beyond their competitors and their co-workers.  It is a positive sense of life.  A understanding that life is good, whether you make $20,000 a year as a busboy or $20 million a year investing in other people’s companies.  It is this love of life, your own life that drives many of us.  It makes us be the best we can be at whatever we do.

It is this love of one’s own life which is the fountainhead for our ability to feel compassion for others.  Only those who despise their own lives can walk casually by a dying child on a road side.  And only those who love their own life and their own existence, to whatever degree, will stop to help the child because compassion comes out of love of life.

The fact that so many Chinese walked by the little girl is a symptom, not of capitalism but of 62 years of being told by a Communist government that your life is not your own, but belongs to the state.

The 1949 victory of the Communists in China marked the beginning of the end of any love individuals could have for life, their own or anybody else’s.  The fact that only within the last few years that some have been allowed to start and grow businesses under the iron fist of a one-party state has not overturned two entire generations of death at the hands of communist rule.

Capitalism and the necessary government protection of an individual’s right to their life, their liberty and their property are integral in the cultivation of a love of life.  Communist China is years away from achieving such a condition.

We should not only pity the little girl, dying on the street we should also pity those who walked by her as they are also dying.  But their death is just taking a little longer.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #222, October 20, 2011.)

Update: It was reported on Friday, October 21, 2011 by Guangzhou Military District General Hospital that Yue Yue died of her injuries.

Oct 132011
Che Guevara

Che GuevaraSome people have likened the recent Wall Street protests to the anti-war protests of the 1960’s. At that time there were a number of iconic symbols, pictures, and phrases that have come to represent that unique time and series of events; the peace symbol which stood for nuclear disarmament, the picture of the flower a Kent state student stuck in the barrel of a reservist’s rifle, the death chant of Timothy Leary, “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.”

Some of the iconic and symbolic imagery of the Occupy Wall Street protests would be the much circulated pictures of one protester defecating on the US flag, and another actually defecating on a police car. Another would be the pictures of piles of garbage which the protesters left behind, perhaps in the hope that their mothers would drop by and clean it up. A symbolic phrase would be the false “We are the 99%” which is reminiscent of Jerry Falwell’s so-called “moral majority.” (Falwell was wrong on both accounts.)

Also iconic of the Wall Street protestors is the ubiquitous wearing of Che Guevara T-shirts. Apparently the movement’s ideology has an affinity with that of Cuba’s official executioner. The image is one of the most replicated photos in history; Guevara’s distant gaze, his youthful visage surrounded by flowing locks of black hair stuffed under a beret.

I have to wonder if the people wearing this image actually know who Che Guevara was and what ideology he espoused and killed for. I suspect some do and yet when I see an adult black man in New York City being interviewed wearing such a T-shirt I wonder if they knew that Guevara was a racist.

Last week was the anniversary of the death of Ernesto Che Guevara at the hands of Bolivian soldiers. It is fitting that we remember the man and his message in his own words.

“The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing, have seen their territory invaded by a new kind of slave: the Portuguese.”

“The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations.”

“The episode upset us a little because the poor man, apart from being homosexual and a first-rate bore, had been very nice to us.”

“The first person we hit on was the mayor, someone called Cohen; we had heard a lot about him, that he was Jewish as far as money was concerned but a good sort.”

“Mexicans are a band of illiterate Indians.”

“We’re going to do for blacks exactly what blacks did for the revolution. By which I mean: nothing.”

These quotes illustrate Guevara’s blood lust:

“Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!”

“To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. … These are the procedures of the bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the teaching of the Wall!”

On Oct. 8 1967, Che left the world with this cowardice plea, “Don’t shoot! I’m Che! I’m worth more to you alive than dead!”

Che Guevara was put in charge of executing counter-revolutionaries. People like a man and his twin 15 year old boys who refused to relinquish their farmland to Fidel Castro’s gang of thugs. Or a young woman, six months pregnant, or the countless thousands, perhaps as many as 2,100 people who were murdered at the wall below Che Guevara’s office. The firing squad sometimes ran day and night with Che gleefully administering the coup-de-grace to his victims, ending their lives with a single shot to the head with his pistol.

Not content with the revolution in Cuba the Argentinian Che travelled to The Congo and Bolivia to incite Stalinist revolutions in those countries. He met his just end in Bolivia, executed by a Bolivian soldier. His body was unceremoniously disposed of.

When next you see some college student or even an adult wearing the face of Che Guevara you might wonder if they would wear it knowing the true nature of the man: racist, homophobe, anti-Semite, communist, murderer. Would they wear the face of Hitler, of Osama bin Ladin, or of any other evil creature?

It may be out of ignorance that people display the image of Guevara. I would hate to think that they know full-well what they are doing.

Originally aired on Just Right #221, October 13, 2011.