Salon: Communism’s Just Misunderstood

The athletes are beginning to arrive in Sochi, and with them a different kind of protest than the ones seen in Russia leading up to the games. The local Communist Party, it seems, prefers a quieter tack than the protestors that took to the streets in the preceding months in the frozen land to the north:

About 12 kilometers (seven miles) from the nearest Olympic venue, a handful of curious onlookers, a few mothers pushing young children in carriages, two TV cameras and a sprinkling of uniformed and plain-clothed police were there to witness Igor Vasiliev, leader of Sochi Communist Party Branch, and six supporters stage a peaceful rally on Saturday.

Russian authorities are allowing public demonstrations during the Olympics, but there’s unlikely to be massed angry mobs of people protesting against the kind of issues in Russia that have gained international attention ahead of the games.

Libertarianism is like the new communism, dude

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

Libertarianism is the new communism, at least if you ask Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways.

This colorful lede suggested they might offer a new critique of libertarianism, but my hopes were quickly dashed. The authors end up retreading old arguments—seemingly unaware that others had done so many times before. Their failure to offer a substantive appraisal of libertarian ideas may stem from low familiarity with libertarianism itself.

Hanauer and Liu start with a decent definition of libertarianism, namely that it is “the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values.” This is fairly accurate characterization of the moral beliefs held by many libertarians. Unfortunately, the authors struggle to trace these moral foundations to basic philosophical  or policy positions held by actual libertarians.

Occupy Wall Street: The Young and the Clueless

“Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain - and since labor is pain in itself - it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.” ~French Economist Frederick Bastiat, 1845, Economic Sophisms”

“There are many well-meaning people today who work at placing an economic floor beneath all of us so that no one shall exist below a certain level or standard of living, and certainly we don’t quarrel with this. But look more closely and you may find that all too often these well-meaning people are building a ceiling above which no one shall be permitted to climb and between the two are pressing us all into conformity, into a mold of standardized mediocrity.” ~President Ronald Reagan

For the past few weeks, America has been treated to a steady news coverage diet of Occupy Wall Street, a motley amalgam of former hippies, idealistic but misinformed college students, Marxist advocates, seekers of mayhem for mayhem’s sake, and the just plain clueless. Welcome to the Flea Party, the far left’s answer to the organic uprising of the TEA Party. However, that is where the comparison stops. Whereas the TEA Party uprising has been peaceful, the Flea Party has been a study in anti-social behavior masquerading as noble civil disobedience.

Baucus, China, and the American “Avatar”

The recent incident in the South China Sea has all the earmarks of a situation that, many years later, after the movie version of the event comes out, will prove less “accidental meeting on the high seas due to a logistical misunderstanding” and more “tense showdown of two world powers jockeying for a place in the shifting alliances of world politics.”

Okay, that’s romanticizing things a bit. But the incident did prompt some questions about the state of Sino-U.S. relations (exacerbated by new reports of Western journalists being harassed by Chinese officials) and was quickly followed by news Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is the presumptive nominee to replace Ambassador Gary Locke in Beijing after his retirement early next year. Which of course prompted the same question from many political reporters and those with an interest in the region: Huh?

Or, as Slate puts it in a teaser for their piece on the issue, “What Does Max Baucus Know About China, Anyway?” Turns out, a fair amount:

Libertarians are the new what?

Don’t you just love it when people who don’t really understand your ideology decide to pontificate on just what is wrong with it?  Well, that’s what happened over at Bloomberg when Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu took to the bandwidth to announce that libertarians are the new communists.

Oh yes, you read that right:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways. Where communism was adopted, the result was misery, poverty and tyranny. If extremist libertarians ever translated their beliefs into policy, it would lead to the same kinds of catastrophe.

This just tickles me because it comes from two progressives.  You know, progressives: the guys who have given us the non-recovery from the worst financial crisis since the great depression?  But catastrophe will follow if our policies were implemented?

Funny, if complete BS:

Let’s start with some definitions. By radical libertarianism, we mean the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values. By communism, we mean the ideology of extreme state domination of private and economic life.

Some of the radical libertarians are Ayn Rand fans who divide their fellow citizens into makers, in the mold of John Galt, and takers, in the mold of anyone not John Galt.

Way to completely miss the point on Ayn Rand’s works.

UPDATE: Education Department Website Quotes Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong

UPDATE: Via Chris Moody of Yahoo! News, the NCES has removed the Mao Zedong quote from its website. The “Quote of the Day” section now says, “Sorry there is no quote of the [day] today.”

UPDATE II: Via Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed, the NCES has now updated the website once again with a quote from Abraham Lincoln.

UPDATE III: The NCES has removed the “Quote of the Day” section from its “Kid’s Zone” website. Click here to see the latest screen shot. Andrew Kaczynski has an official statement from the Department of Education.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a part of the Department of Education, has a section on its website dedicated to kids. The site has various facts and resources that kids may find interesting. It also has a “Quote of the Day” section.

While this section may occasionally provide insightful and otherise worthwhile quotes, today’s quote is from a historical figure isn’t exactly a role model. Here’s the quote directly from the website:

“Our attitude towards ourselves should be ‘to be satiable in learning’ and towards others ‘to be tireless in teaching.’” — Mao Zedong

Hugo Chavez: “I’d vote for Obama

Hugo Chavez

Back in July, I noted that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez had “endorsed” President Barack Obama in his bid for re-election. Chavez, who has enacted a number of policies to nationalize parts of his country’s economy, made it clear once again over the weekend that his preference in the race is President Obama:

With both presidents facing tight re-election fights, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez gave a surprise endorsement to Barack Obama on Sunday - and said the U.S. leader no doubt felt the same.

“I hope this doesn’t harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I’d vote for Obama,” the socialist Chavez said of a man he first reached out to in 2009 but to whom he has since generally been insulting.

Breaking news…socialists like Obama over Mitt Romney. I’m shocked — shocked, I tell you. Back in June, the Communist Party USA made it clear that they were backing Obama and Democrats in 2012, choosing what they consider to be the “lesser of two evils.”

Nevertheless, Obama’s hawkish foreign policy and contempt for civil liberties doesn’t exactly jive with the stated views of the hardcore Left, many of which were recently explained by Conor Friedersdorf and expounded upon this morning. Not to mention that, despite his pro-labor views, Obama really is really just another corporatist, when it all comes down to it.

Ozzie Guillen shouldn’t have been suspended

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last few days then you’ve heard that Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Miami Marlins (Florida Marlins!), was suspended by his employer after making controversial comments about Fidel Castro. In case you missed the specific comments, here is what Guillen told Time:

I love Fidel Castro. I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that son of a bitch is still there.

If you know anything about Miami, a city with a large number of Cuban exiles and their families, then you can understand why those comments were so controversial. Boycotts of the team were immediately announced and the Marlins were scrambling to condemn, not just the remarks, but also the Castro regime.

Guillen, who came up with and eventually managed the Chicago White Sox (he also played for the Atlanta Braves for two seasons in the late 90’s), is well known for making controversial remarks and statements, so the Marlins should have known what they were getting when they hired him. But looking at everything in context, David Harsanyi notes that Guillen is hardly a fan of Castro. Back in 2008, Guillen said of the Cuban dictator:

Fidel Castro. He’s a bull—— dictator and everybody’s against him, and he still survives, has power. Still has a country behind him. Everywhere he goes they roll out the red carpet. I don’t admire his philosophy. I admire him.

Chart of the Day: Congrats, Communism!

We often hear from collectivists about how utopian that the state could be if it weren’t for individualism and self-interest. Yeah, just look how many people collectivist dictators have killed to obtain their utopias (click to enlarge). As you can tell, commies have the highest death toll; with Mao Zedong killing more than the rest on the chart combined.

Conservatives in Canada.

For those unfamiliar with The Western Standard, it is Canada’s own conservative magazine. I’ve been having a little fun blogging for them this week, and I’d love to hear some American voices weighing in.

I had no idea Canadians could get so excited. Come join the fray.

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