“Nineteen ninety-four was the year the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, the US, and the UK all sat side by side at a long table in Hungary to sign what would be known as the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.
The brief document is far from a comprehensive treaty or even a security guarantee, but its intent and purpose was clear. Ukraine was giving up the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world under heavy pressure from Russia and the United States. In exchange, Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma wanted a public pledge from Clinton, Yeltsin, and John Major that they would “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.”
Obviously Russia violated the agreement when it invaded and then annexed Crimea in March 2014. As for the other signatories, there are no means of enforcement in the memo[.]
[W]hat does it say when twenty years later Ukraine is practically helpless against the giant nuclear-backed war machine of Vladimir Putin and the United States tells Ukraine sorry, but it should have read the fine print in Budapest?
…It tells the world that American security promises are worthless (and British ones, for good measure). The only point of Budapest was to demonstrate to any potential aggressor–all eyes on the Russian bear next door, obviously–that the United States was putting Ukraine under its nuclear wing. If such displays are meaningless, and having one’s own nuclear weapon is the only way to be safe from aggression, it will not take long for other countries to move full speed toward acquiring them. Japan and Taiwan count on America to deter China. South Korea counts on America to deter North Korea. And whether they admit to it or note, half of the nations in the Middle East have rejected a push for nuclear weapons to match Israel’s because of America’s long shadow. It is difficult to see that restraint lasting very long if President Obama continues to meet Russian military aggression with weak sanctions, worthless negotiations, and expressions of deep concern.”
Gary Kasparov, “Winter Is Coming” 2015, pp. 51-53.
With respect to the Obama/Kerry agreement with Iran, evidently nuclear agreements signed by American Democrats aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
You have a lot of explaining to do. None of your concepts about an afterlife can be proven. None of your claims about Allah can be demonstrated. None of your foundations for religious belief can be shown to exist through the application of reason to observable facts.
Now, in your defense, all religions suffer from these basic evidentiary problems. Islam is no different in this respect. What makes Islam unique among religions, however, is that no other religion excuses bloodshed, killing, and legal sanctions, against certain people, in the defense of religious beliefs.
The rest of them are pretty peaceful in matters of dogma, and most importantly, practice. And to that extent, no harm means no foul. People can believe all sorts of things. And they can even act in all sorts of religiously motivated ways. And so long as those actions are consonant with other innocent human beings, it’s all good.
But Islam isn’t like all of the other religions now, is it? You can’t connect objective reality to your religious beliefs, can you? All you have is religious fervor, and no substantive foundation. That must drive you nuts.
And your insanity must be why Islam spawns so many harmful acts – not by the majority of you, but certainly by a material number of you.
Islam has pretty much cornered the market on mayhem these days. Used to be the Communists and Fascists were the major evil powers in the world, but nowadays the Muslims who slaughter innocents while shouting religious nonsense make those purely-political totalitarians look a bit old fashioned.
Here’s the deal. Until you change your ways and become observably, predictably, born again good citizens who can live compatibly with the rest of the world, you deserve to be stopped from causing more harm by all available means.
But save your breath on your religious explanations. Perform whatever dogmatic gymnastics you need to, to enable you to eliminate Islam’s propensity to spawn harmful behaviors, or take the consequences.
You’ve backed the rational world up into the position of having to kill you to stop you from causing more harm. And that’s not the worst of it – you kill yourselves far more than anyone else does! The fact that Muslims get hurt the worst in your jihad calculus only seems to assuage your religious sensibilities! More insanity.
I’ve reread this Memo several times. I’ll admit it’s a bit glib, but I don’t think there’s a hyperbolic or false word in it. Modernity awaits your arrival.
I want to thank well-meaning non-Muslims who, in the wake of these attacks, have emphasised that they have been carried out by a small, twisted minority. A terrorist’s goal is to sow hatred and discord, and by not giving in, you are defeating their plans.
But I want to say that as a Muslim, I wish that we weren’t so quick to emphasise that this has nothing to do with us. While I personally have never killed anyone and none of my friends and family have ever resorted to violence, radicalism has everything to do with Islam. And the failure to address that out of a well-intentioned commitment to tolerance is making the problem worse.
ISIS is a Muslim organisation, and it is an Islamic problem. Let me say it again to be perfectly clear. ISIS is a Muslim organisation, and they are a cancer at the heart of Islam. And the problem will not go away until Muslims confront that.
ISIS attackers scream ‘Allah hu’akbar’ during their attacks.
ISIS recruits cite Qur’anic verses as justification for the rape and enslavement of women.
ISIS soldiers kill archaeologists, gay men and women, and people who refuse to convert to Islam because they are blasphemers.
There are no Christians in ISIS. There are no Buddhists, Jews, Pagans, Taoists, Houngans, Catholics, Wiccans, Hindus or even Scientologists in ISIS. ISIS is a Muslim organisation and they kill in the name of Islam.
So don’t say that ISIS aren’t ‘true Muslims’ or that they are ‘not really Muslims’. Like any large organisation, ISIS exists in a spectrum. You have the aimless, restless teenager who never amounted to anything in his life and traveled to Syria because he can’t find a job and doesn’t know if the Qur’an is to be read from left to right or right to left. But you also have pious professionals, businessmen, and academics who read their Qur’an cover to cover, pray every day, were seduced into radicalism, and truly believe that the Islamic State’s goal of conquest is a noble one. The so-called ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has a doctorate in Islamic studies.
So if you feel that Muslims are being oppressed or killed in Muslim countries, I expect you to also be just as outraged by ISIS. Because they have killed more Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Jordan than the entire US army. They have done more damage to the name and reputation of Islam than any Western nation. ISIS is Islam’s biggest enemy, not the US, not Israel or France or Germany or the Russians.
We have to own the problem. We have to admit that this is a religious problem, and we need to renew our commitment to a secular country which treats all religions equally. I have believed in the importance of secularism all my life, and with every day that passes that belief grows stronger. Religion is no way to govern a nation. Not any religion, and not any nation.
ISIS is not America’s problem, nor the British, nor the French. ISIS is not Syria or Iraq’s problem. ISIS is a problem for Muslims. And if you can’t admit that, you’re not really a good Muslim either.
We’re Still Haunted by the Labor Theory of Value
Why are so many students convinced that they should receive better grades for the papers they’ve spent so much time writing? It’s not a belief about the quality of those papers; it’s a belief about the hours and hours spent working on them.
This fundamental misunderstanding about the value of labor is at the center of the Marxist critique of capitalism.
The Center of Everything
For thousands of years, humans were sure that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun revolved around it. With the advent of systematic inquiry, scientists had to develop more and more complex explanations for why their observations of the universe did not fit with that hypothesis. When Copernicus and others offered an alternative explanation that was able to explain the observed facts, and did so more clearly and concisely, the heliocentric model triumphed. The Copernican revolution changed science forever.
There is a similar story in economics. For hundreds of years, many economists believed that the value of a good depended on the cost of producing it. In particular, many subscribed to the labor theory of value, which argued that a good’s value derived from the amount of work that went into making it.
Much like the geocentric view of the universe, the labor theory of value had some superficial plausibility, as it does often seem that goods that involve more labor have more value. However, much like the story in astronomy, the theory got increasingly complicated as it tried to explain away some obvious objections. Starting in the 1870s, economics had its own version of the Copernican revolution as the subjective theory of value became the preferred explanation for the value of goods and services.
Today, the labor theory of value has only a minuscule number of adherents among professional economists, but it remains all too common in other academic disciplines when they discuss economic issues, as well as among the general public. (The labor theory of grades is, as I noted above, particularly popular among college students.)
The Specter of Karl Marx (and Adam Smith)
One reason the theory is still the implicit explanation of value in many other disciplines is because they rely on the theory’s most famous adherent for their understanding of economics: Karl Marx. Marx was hardly the only economist to hold this view, nor is the labor theory of value unique to socialists. Adam Smith believed in a somewhat weaker version of the theory as well.
Without the labor theory of value, it is not clear how much of Marx’s critique of capitalism remains valid.
For Marx, the theory was at the center of his view of the problems of capitalism. The argument that capitalism exploited workers depended crucially on the view that labor was the source of all value and that the profits of capitalists were therefore “taken” from workers who deserved it. Marx’s concept of alienation focused on the centrality of labor to making us human and the ways in which capitalism destroyed our ability to take joy in our work and control the conditions under which we created value. Without the labor theory of value, it is not clear how much of Marx’s critique of capitalism remains valid.
Part of the problem for Marx and others who accepted the theory was that there were so many seemingly obvious objections that they had to construct complex explanations to account for them. What about the value of land or other natural resources? What about great works of art that were produced with a small amount of labor but fetched extremely high prices? What about differences in individuals’ skill levels, which meant that there would be different amounts of time required to produce the same good?
The classical economists, including Marx, offered explanations for all of these apparent exceptions, but, like the increasingly complex explanations of the geocentricists, they began to feel ad hoc and left people searching for a better answer.
The Austrian Revolution
In economics, that answer came when, much like Copernicus, several economists realized that the old explanation was precisely backward. This point was clearest in the work of Carl Menger, whose Principles of Economics not only offered a new explanation for the nature of economic value but also founded the Austrian school of economics in the process.
What Menger and others argued was that value is subjective. That is, the value of a good is not determined by the physical inputs, including labor, that helped to create it. Instead, the value of a good emerges from human perceptions of its usefulness for the particular ends that people had at a particular point in time. Value is not something objective and transcendent. It is a function of the role that an object plays as a means toward the ends that are part of human purposes and plans.
Thus, according to the subjectivists, land had value not because of the labor that went into tilling it, but because people believed that it could contribute to the satisfaction of some direct want of their own (such as growing crops to eat) or that it would contribute indirectly to other ends by being used to grow crops to sell at the market. Works of art had value because many people found them to be beautiful no matter how much or how little labor went into producing them. With value being determined by human judgments of usefulness, the variations in the quality of labor posed no trouble for explaining value.
Indeed, economic value was a completely separate category from other forms of value, such as scientific value. That’s why people pay money to have someone give them a complete horoscope reading even though astrology has no scientific value whatsoever. What matters for understanding economic value is the perception of usefulness in pursuit of human purposes and plans, not some “objective” value of the good or service.
Turning Marx Upside Down
But the real Copernican revolution in economics was how the subjective theory of value related to the value of labor. Rather than seeing the value of outputs being determined by the value of the inputs like labor, the subjective theory of value showed that it’s the other way around: the value of inputs like labor were determined by the value of the outputs they helped to produce.
The high market value of well-prepared food is not the result of the value of the chef’s labor. Rather, the chef’s labor is valuable precisely because he is able to produce food that the public finds especially tasty, beautiful, or healthy.
On this view, labor gets rewarded according to its ability to produce things that others value. When you then consider the ways in which labor combining with capital enables that labor to produce goods that humans value even more, which in turn increases labor’s remuneration, Marx’s whole worldview is suddenly turned on its head. Capital does not exploit labor. Instead, it enhances labor’s value by giving labor the tools it needs to make even more of the things that humans value.
Understood correctly through the subjective theory of value, capitalism is fundamentally a communication process through which humans try to sort out how best to make use of our limited resources to satisfy our most urgent wants. Exchange and market prices are how we make our subjective perceptions of value accessible to others so they can figure out how best to provide us with the things we value most.
We Have More Work to Do
For economists, the labor theory of value holds roughly the same validity as the geocentric view of the universe. For that reason, Marx’s whole theoretical apparatus, and therefore his criticisms of capitalism, are equally questionable.
Unfortunately, many people, academics outside economics and the public alike, are simply unaware of the Copernican revolution in economics. Knocking down the labor theory of value remains a labor-intensive and valuable task.
Sorting things out, providing grist for the grievance millers; a few might see the medicinal spirit here, but the adult adolescents most in need of the medicine will foreseeably emote with more blind defensive rage at the man holding the mirror.
What should matter is what you show people – the intentional connection offered and objectively accepted – an orderly social transaction based in reality, and manageable by both giving and receiving parties. And perhaps most people still operate this way. I’m not talking about them.
I’m talking about those for whom the inferences 3rd parties make are more important. People governed by this standard must be seen to process the culture around them appropriately and in a good light.
Social media probably empowers the mechanism, however, societal approval was never intended to mask content problems in the general culture. Everything got tolerable when the most important objective became to look good. Things are way out of balance now.
I’m talking to those who are not shy about telling you what looks good, what you may acceptably talk about, respond to, and engage. Young people and the perpetually adolescent will express social correctness about politics, life styles, entertainments, and psychoactive substances, but no subject is safe from the socially correct.
Speech outside of their bounds will cause shunning, taboo, ostracism, ritual condemnation, and vicious attack. Social correctness is political correctness on steroids.
Intrinsic value, durability, and objective worth, don’t weigh heavily in the analysis because those things require agreement. They can’t be imposed by one party over another. Social correctness is about power.
Social correctness is relative, adaptable, subject to fresh interpretation each time it is used. It is an ad hoc device, made up on the spur of the moment to transfer power from one person to another under the color of social justice. But unlike social justice, true justice is an objective evidentiary process.
In Seattle the 12th man is the crowd who help the team on the field. At least the 12th man is an objective expression everyone can see. But social correctness is like an invisible third party monitoring every exchange, who is completely subjective. Outsiders can’t see the structural barrier to real communication between them and the socially correct. But that’s okay since the socially correct will inform them.
Engage on a taboo subject, or bring up a non-prescribed inquiry that could expose a vulnerability, and you’d better brace yourself for hysterics and emotional terrorism. Speak correctly or deal with a freak-out.
Everyone has vulnerabilities, makes mistakes, has stories of personal foolishness in their lives. Enjoyment of our human foibles is a substantial source of humor for secure adults. But the socially correct see foibles as a first step down the path to a judgment, and a judgment could lead to the whole socially correct lattice coming under scrutiny. Scrutiny could lead to loss of control, power shifts, and decloaking the cultural icons that define intolerance. We’re talking substantial disempowerment of the socially correct.
Boundless tolerance requires strict intolerance to keep it up. It couldn’t be more hypocritical. It also couldn’t be more subjective and passive aggressive. This is a tool which makes everyone but the speaker of socially correct truth into a loser.
I wish I could turn the clock back to the time before people got their heads so full of this stuff – a nicer, more humorous, not so super sensitive time. But the cults have grown, and their subjects appear quite comfortable in their blinders hauling those heavy wagons of social correctness around.
Hopefully these pathologies will self-limit over time once natural selection has killed off all the hosts.
“As much as we’d like this to be a truly definitive commentary about Hillary’s testimony at the Benghazi hearing, at the time of this writing there are still hours to go…so we’ll just have to do the best we can.
In a nutshell, Hillary has been doing a fine job of being imperious, calm, and inhumanly disinterested in the deaths she has accepted “responsibility” (but not blame) for. Much like Jack the Ripper, you have to at least give her credit for being skilled at her craft.
Elijah Cummings, the ranking (emphasis on “rank”) Democrat on the committee has spent the day covering Hillary’s ass like a pair of overstretched panties from Lane Bryant, actually going so far as to pronounce the entire committee a political construct with no other purpose than to hurt Hillary’s chances to become president. It is worth noting that Cummings knows for a fact that this isn’t true, essentially giving him the same culpability (albeit after the fact) as the terrorists who burned our embassy and murdered American citizens.
As for Hillary, she seemed unbothered by the revelations that on the night of the attack she sent an email to Chelsea saying that it was a planned attack from Al Qaeda affiliates, and the next day she had a phone call with the Egyptian prime minister in which she explicitly stated that the attack had nothing to do with any Youtube video.
Days later, of course, she trotted out the Youtube video story while speaking in front of the coffins of our dead…she shared it with the families who had lost their sons…Susan Rice took the lie to the Sunday news shoes…and then Barack Obama took the completely fictitious story to the United Nations, where he disparaged America’s freedom of speech, and declared that “the future must not belong to those who would slander Islam.”
And all to cover Hillary’s hiney for her complete ineptitude in office, and to cover Barry’s ass for his ludicrous campaign claim (damn near his ONLY campaign claim) that “GM is alive, Bin Laden is dead, and Al Qaeda is on the run.”
So – is the media exploding over these revelations? They are not. It’s relatively safe to say that the media gives not a single damn, very few care about the truth on the Republican side, and no one cares about the truth on the Democratic side except to the extent that they want to hide it.
So as long as Hillary looks calm and composed while lying (which, we should note, sociopaths find remarkably easy) it seems likely that she’ll sail through this hearing and be that much closer to being nominated to run for president.
And should our nation be unfortunate enough (but perhaps deserving enough) to see her win that high office, we can only pray that her personal security will be no greater than that of Ambassador Chris Stevens.”
Neither Republicans nor Democrats will dare to “shut the government down” since, by doing so, Americans would discover free life without political Leviathan hovering over head, and they would discover just how much they don’t need Republicans and Democrats.
Without Big Brother, Americans would become self-reliant again. Without a social agency running to the rescue under lights and sirens, Americans would call on each other to help them in an emergency.
Without swarms of Officers from a multitude of New Offices sent hither to harass our people and eat out their substance*, Americans would solve their own problems, save for their own futures, provide for their own health needs, freely trade under voluntary agreements with others in America and around the world, carefully husband their physical and monetary resources to maximize wealth accumulation, preserve their environments, pursue creative income-generating acts to build better futures, care for disadvantaged and unfortunate members of their church and community, and basically do all that is necessary to form a civilized society.
Without government propaganda consuming and occupying the American discourse, Americans would discover they have the necessary skills to form a civilized society without being led by the nose like cattle.
Without politicians berating them about all that government must do for them, Americans would discover real self-esteem bubble up from within themselves as responsible functioning citizens.
Nearly 10% of Americans work for governments, however, their financial impact on America is far greater – the national debt they’ve run up is more than $2 trillion higher than our GDP. Obviously, American governments serve themselves first and foremost.
The relevant question is not whether to shut down the government. The relevant question is why on earth have we not shut it down already? It’s not like things are getting better!
Let’s turn off the microphones, close up the buildings, terminate the bureaucracies, and allow Americans to discover free life again without this crushing burden over head.
We have survived Leviathan thus far. We can certainly do much better without it dragging us down.
*See the Declaration of Independence.
John Quincy Adams on Islam:
In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, [Mohammed] combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust, by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion.
He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE [capitals in original].
Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinction of that imposture, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men. The hand of Ishmael will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. It is, indeed, amongst the mysterious dealings of God, that this delusion should have been suffered for so many ages, and during so many generations of human kind, to prevail over the doctrines of the meek and peaceful and benevolent Jesus…
The precept of the koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force.
John Quincy Adams, “Christianity—Islamism.” “Unsigned essays dealing with the Russo-Turkish War, and on Greece,” originally published in The American Annual Register for 1827–1829 (New York, 1830).
John Wesley on Islam:
John Wesley, “The Doctrine of Original Sin, Works” (1841), ix 205
Winston Churchill on Islam:
How dreadful are the curses which Mohammed-anism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it.
No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.
Sir Winston Spencer Churchill (The River War , first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899)