Charter Schools: “Backpack Full of Cash”

Backpack Full of Cash is a 90-minute documentary about the negative consequences of the growing privatization of public schools in America. Produced several years ago, the film focuses mainly on the harmful impact of charter schools on public schools and America’s most vulnerable children. The film has been viewed by thousands of people in many different venues, and many continue to organize film screenings in their communities.

Among other things, the film makers have produced a useful 28-page discussion guide which includes questions and answers surrounding privatization and charter schools.

This three-part series tackles a few of these questions in greater detail.

QUESTION: We live in a capitalist country. Why not look to the free market for solutions?

RESPONSE: Labor is the only source of value. Profit equals unpaid labor. Capitalism is a transient economic system designed to maximize profit as fast as possible for major owners of capital. Production under capitalism takes place for the purpose of profitable exchange, not for meeting social needs. If something is not profitable, it will not be produced. And what is not produced, cannot be distributed. This is a very narrow aim for society and the reason why, even though society has an overabundance of wealth and resources, millions go without many basic needs being met. For example, there are thousands of homeless people in the U.S. even though there are thousands of vacant houses.

Far from ensuring that goods and services are produced and distributed in the most “efficient” manner, the capitalist “free market” ensures chaos, anarchy, volatility, and uncertainty. Risk, insecurity, and instability are inherent, not accidental, features of the “free market.” Economic slumps, recessions, booms, busts, depressions, and crises are the fellow-travelers of capitalism. This is how the so-called “invisible hand” operates. The “free market” produces carnage in business and society every day. A dog-eat-dog ethos prevails. Fortunes are made and lost overnight. “Winners” and “losers” abound. Greed, jealousy, rivalry, narcissism, individualism, and “getting ahead of others” are treated as normal, permanent, unavoidable, and healthy. These traits are supposedly part of “human nature,” rather than the direct expression of an impermanent economic system plagued by violent internal contradictions.

Why should collective human responsibilities like education rest on uncertainty, insecurity, instability, and chaos? Why should critical social responsibilities be based on the narrow profit motive? Modern humans need education (and healthcare, food, and shelter) on a reliable, sustainable, crisis-free basis. Subjecting basic needs to the blind destruction of the “free market” is irrational, irresponsible, and historically unwarranted. Schools should not be closing and opening every day, and in such an inhuman dog-eat-dog environment. The needs of students, educators, parents, the economy, and society cannot be met properly when the profit motive and the “law of the jungle” are the main modes of life.

The “free market” works only for a tiny ruling elite, and even then with great risks and insecurity. Education, like food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare are social responsibilities which cannot be treated as commodities. Education is not a business. Nor can it be left to chance. Students, parents, and teachers are not consumers. Their identity, needs, and complexity cannot be reduced to buying and selling, winning and losing. Homo Sapiens are more than Homo Economicus.

The right to education in a modern society based on large-scale production cannot be guaranteed without conscious human planning. Economic “booms and busts” and the devastating ripples they regularly send through society and all of its institutions can be avoided. There is an alternative, one whose seeds lie in the present. It is both possible and necessary to set a new direction for society and the economy and to live in a human-centered way. No human or institution has to be the victim of blind anarchic “market forces” that always seem to perpetuate upheaval and anxiety while always benefitting the privileged few the most.

Progress report by NATO and EU

Third progress report on the implementation of the common set of proposals endorsed by NATO and EU Councils on 6 December 2016 and 5 December 2017 31 May 2018 Third progress report on the implementation of the common set of proposals endorsed by NATO and EU Councils on 6 December 2016 and 5 December 2017 On 6 December 2016, EU and NATO Councils endorsed in parallel processes a common set of 42 proposals for the implementation of the Joint Declaration signed on 8 July 2016 by the President (...)

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution

The authors of Natural Capitalism 1 argue that it is needed to “create the next industrial revolution.” They warn that if we continue to ignore the value of natural capital; i.e., nature’s life-support systems for humankind, there will come a time when there won’t be any more life support. Doomsday may be a century or two away, but the quality of life up to that point will have deteriorated at an increasing pace.

Pursuing four central strategies of natural capitalism, these authors say, will enable commercial enterprises and communities to operate as if all forms of capital were important. The core strategy is that of radically increasing resource productivity by being more efficient, less wasteful in how natural resources are extracted and used.

The second they call “biomimicry” that involves eliminating waste in the making of things by imitating biological processes in the manufacturing process. The third is to change the relationship between producer and consumer from one based on goods and purchases to one based on a “flow of economic services” that will in turn de-emphasize possession as a measure of affluence and emphasize that well-being depends on the “continuous receipt of quality, utility, and performance.” The fourth involves “reinvesting in sustaining, restoring, and expanding stocks of natural capital.”

In Closing

But America doesn’t need the next industrial revolution. America needs a new and better capitalism that enfolds industry without its corpocracy. That’s what America desperately needs!

  1. Hawkins, P., Lovins, A., & Lovins, LH. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, 1999.

Post-Modernism Has Not Smashed To Pieces The Meta-Narrative of Bourgeois-Capitalism

Western high-tech civilization can never fully enter the post-modern era without eradicating civilization of bourgeois-state-capitalism, namely, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, that encrusted jewel, dead center, within the crown of the Enlightenment, which continues to infect and poison high-tech society with a most horrible sickness, insatiable avarice, an avarice for unlimited power and money. The post-modern era cannot achieve full maturity under current bourgeois-capitalism conditions as the grand-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism continually impedes the overwhelming diversity and plurality that post-modernity champions and inherently demands. In effect, post-modernism has not smashed to pieces all the grand-narratives of the Enlightenment, specifically bourgeois-capitalism which, itself, continues to stalk the bright and the dark corners of western civilization, weaving and grafting incommensurable global and local narratives into a massive totalitarian meta-narrative, namely, the logic of capitalism.

Contrary to Jean-Francois Lyotard, “the principle of a plurality of [linguistic] systems”,1 existing side by side in incommensurable independence, without any overarching meta-narrative terrorizing over the others in the name of homogeneity and totalitarian unity, is false and nonsense. It is false and nonsense because bourgeois-capitalism encroaches upon every aspect of everyday life, stitching any sort of incommensurable narrative into a functionalist-capitalist dominion. That is, a dominion whose fundamental imperative is the profit-imperative; i.e., the logic of capitalism, which commands, “the maximization of profit, by any means necessary, at the lowest financial cost, as soon as possible”2 for all narratives; i.e., language-games, big or small, regardless of genre and/or expediency.

The primary characteristic of the post-modern age; i.e., the post-modern condition, is that “grand narrative[s] [have] lost…credibility”3 and that “the decline of [meta-narratives] can be seen as an effect of the development of techniques and technologies, since the Second World War”,4 which have vanquished the Enlightenment and its meta-narratives to the social periphery and reduced society to a matter of money, profit and “the logic of maximum performance”.5 That is, maximum performance in achieving maximum power and maximum capitalist profitability across everyday life and across socio-economic existence, pertaining to a select few who are so lucky to exemplify the logic of capitalism in all its opulent splendor.

According to Jean Francois Lyotard, the dissolution and de-legitimization of grand narratives, due to technological progress, which is constantly moving in “the direction [of]…the computerization of society”,6, has meant “a loss of meaning”7 across high-tech western civilization. In effect, the ever-increasing accumulation of techno-scientific knowledge and autonomous technologies has increasingly undermined age old certainties, wherefore, according to Marx, “all fast-frozen relations…are swept away [and] all that is solid melts into air…[whereupon] man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life”,8, bourgeois-money and bourgeois-power, ad infinitum.

In this regard, the capitalist techno-scientific process of creative-destruction; i.e., “the essential fact about capitalism”,9 according to Joseph Schumpeter, has brought with it a sense of demoralization and skepticism, pertaining to all great social and communal aims as everything, everyone, and every technological process increasingly boils down to “optimizing the [capitalist] system’s performance”.10 The fact is that the optimization of capitalist performance, invariably, always revolves around maximizing capitalist profit and capitalist power at the expense of other possible performance objectives, which are brutally cast aside. The result is that bourgeois-capitalism incessantly produces an “atmosphere of almost universal hostility to its own social order”.11 In effect, capitalism, through its constant mechanism of creative-destruction manufactures “an atmosphere of hostility [that] decomposes the… forces of capitalism from within”,12 undermining the very mode of production that capitalism relies upon, namely, the capitalist mode of production, which is the capital/labor relation fused to certain forces of production.

Like Schumpeter, for Lyotard, “capitalism…cannot exist without a [constant] shattering of belief and without…the lack of [firm] reality”,13 due to the fact that bourgeois-capitalism requires a certain amount of vacuity, both mental and physical, in order to establish its own capitalist realities. These capitalist realities are artificially constructed in order to maximize capitalist profits, capitalist power, and establish capitalism as best and most legitimate socio-economic system in the eyes of the general-population. The point, for bourgeois-capitalism, is to encourage nihilism in and across everyday life; i.e., “the conviction of the [unattainability] of… [universal] values [which seeds]…the idea of valueless-ness [and] meaninglessness…[across] existence”,14 resulting in an opportunity for capitalist commodities to fill the void manifested by this nihilism. However, this manufactured nihilism, according to Schumpeter, simultaneously manifests a universal hostility towards capitalism in the sense that “after having destroyed the moral authority of so many other [non-capitalist] institutions, [capitalism] … turns against its own [institutions]”15 which erode the meta-narratives of the Enlightenment; i.e., the very faith in the supremacy of bourgeois-state-capitalism.

Consequently, according to Lyotard, capitalist-techno-science reduces, and continuously reduces, human existence to a series of power “moves” founded on the accumulation of wealth, influence, and increased performativity, all of which destroy grand-narratives and produce nihilism as an after-effect. In fact, for Lyotard, nihilism results from this breaking up of the grand narratives [which leads to] the dissolution of the social bond and the disintegration of social aggregates into a mass of individual atoms thrown into [constant]…motion. [Whereupon], each [individualist atom now] exists in a fabric of relations that is now more complex and mobile than ever before. [In fact,] young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, …is [now] always located at nodal points of specific communication circuits, however tiny these may be. [The point is,]…to improve…[systemic, capitalist] performance.16

With every technological intrusion and amelioration across everyday life, the sum of socio-economic existence is atomized to its smallest units possible. Wherefore, belief in anything transcendent is shattered and “the goal is no longer truth, but performativity”,17 namely, the maximization of profit and power in the hands of a select few, which compose the upper-echelons of the capitalist-system. The only life-line offered by bourgeois-capitalism, after the dissolution of meta-narratives, according to Lyotard, is an empty-transcendence offered through the consumption of commodities, which in the end, exacerbate the prevalent feeling of emptiness pervading the stratums of everyday life. As a result, “the only credible goal [becomes] power”.17

Technology reduces socio-economic existence and everyday life to means/ends rationality; i.e., the functional imperative, which focuses on the maximization of power and capital, where “the question… now asked by…the State, [people,] or institutions…is no longer is it true, but, what use is it?…[and] is it saleable?…[that is] is it efficient?”18 This reductive process brought about via technological progress, means that “we no longer have recourse to grand-narratives. We can resort neither to the dialectic of spirit nor even to the emancipation of humanity as [our] validation [for anything]”.19 Everything, every process, becomes a matter of maximizing power and money, “the social system [is] conceived as a totality in quest of its most performative unity possible”.20 And, like cogs in a machine, humans are utilized to ameliorate the system’s performativity. As Lyotard states, “the [capitalist] system seems to be a vanguard machine dragging humanity after it, dehumanizing it in order to re-humanize it at a different level of [socio-economic] capacity, [via managing] technocrats”,20 which administrate “individuals [to] want what the [capitalist] system needs in order to perform well”.21

Granted, the Enlightenment grand-narratives of social emancipation and spirit; i.e., the quest for absolute knowledge and freedom, have faded and lost credibility, as Lyotard argues, but, nonetheless, the Enlightenment grand-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism persists and, in fact, has filled the void left behind by these other Enlightenment grand-narratives.  According to Lyotard, the “post-modern [is]…the condition of…no regulating [universal] ideal”,22 yet, this is not the case in the sense that the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism has become the new universal ideal, determining the direction of high-tech western civilization. Indeed, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism enables the domination of certain capitalist judgments and capitalist criterions, which continue to establish bourgeois social norms and capitalist existential standards across the stratums of everyday life on behalf of the old grand-narratives of the Enlightenment. As Lyotard states, with sleight of hand, “capitalism…disguises its ‘realism’ under the idea of an emancipation from poverty”,23 wherefore, once again, the Enlightenment meta-narrative of human emancipation is covertly reintroduced via a new guise, which establishes “the [Enlightenment] economic genre…[as] universal criterion”.24 The result is that the universal “tribunal of capitalism’s…verdict [is] always pronounced in favor of [money and power]”,25 namely, bourgeois-money and capitalist power.

Moreover, the sensus communis; i.e., the sense of community, which Lyotard states has disappeared across high-tech western civilization due to the dissolution of the grand-narratives of social emancipation and Spirit, is reintroduced via the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, which imposes a new social bond on social relations founded on systemic performativity, bourgeois-money, and capitalist power. This forceful intrusion of bourgeois-capitalism, on behalf of the Enlightenment, annuls Lyotard’s post-modern notion of any federation of infinite, incommensurable micro-narratives, interacting with each other, devoid of overarching logic. Indeed, undermining his own argument, Lyotard readily states:

The economic genre [of bourgeois-capitalism has] hegemony over the others, [it] can …put on the garb of an emancipatory philosophy of history, [imposing the idea of] more wealth. The economic genre of capital in no way requires… [to] admit…heterogeneity.  To the contrary, it requires the suppression of that heterogeneity.25

Lyotard seems to be perpetrating a ruse in the sense that he is arguing for two simultaneous positions, which are, in fact, dialectically opposing positions. That is, Lyotard is simultaneously arguing that the heterogeneity of micro-narratives, devoid of any unifying principles and/or meta-narratives, is the new condition of socio-economic existence, found across western high-tech. civilization, while simultaneously arguing that bourgeois-capitalism holds hegemony over all these incommensurable micro-narratives across western high-tech civilization. In fact, Lyotard readily states that the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism suppresses the sum of heterogeneous narratives, phrases and/or language-games, in favor of maximum performance, maximum power and maximum capital, which directly contradicts his idea of the prevalence of post-modernity, plurality, and the fact that there are no longer universal criterions to base judgments upon.

Although Lyotard states that we need not concern ourselves too much about the encroachment of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism since bourgeois-capitalist “bureaucratization is [merely an] outer limit”,26 there is still  an application of force being applied to corral incommensurable narratives. As he states, despite the fact that “today…the limits [that any bourgeois-capitalist] institution imposes on…language [and language] ‘moves’ are never established once and for all”,27 micro-narratives continue to be subjugated to the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. Basically, Lyotard, brushes aside, with a gentle sleight of hand, the fact that there is still an Enlightenment meta-narrative at work controlling “the flexible networks of language games”.28. He argues that, despite the dominance of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, its control is soft, pliable, and never truly finalized in the sense that the limits bourgeois-capitalism places onto the strands of micro-narratives are always subject to change, since they are stakes in any confrontation. Nevertheless, by his own admission, Enlightenment meta-narratives continue to influence, control, and impose limits on the plurality, the diversity, and the egalitarianism, inherent within the post-modern condition. Notwithstanding, for Lyotard, the post-modern condition is more or less a condition, exclusively consigned to the upper-echelons of bourgeois-capitalist society; i.e., technocrats and decision-makers, who comprise the most indoctrinated and profit-driven social groupings within bourgeois-capitalist society:

What is a good…utterance, a ‘good’ performance in…technical matters? They are all judged to be ‘good’ because they conform to the relevant [bourgeois-capitalist] criteria (of justice, beauty, truth, and efficiency respectively) accepted in the social circles of [anointed capitalist] knowers.29

These anointed capitalist knowers are chosen by the best proponents of the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. These anointed capitalist knowers are the embodiments of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, meant to spread the gospel of bourgeois-capitalism and befuddle any opposing criterions of judgment that may run contrary to the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. For Lyotard, the play, the flexibility, and the diversity, expressed in the plurality of micro-narratives, devoid of all meta-narratives, is exclusively consigned to and safeguarded for the upper-echelons of bourgeois-state-capitalism, where the system’s imperative for maximum systemic performance, does not apply. In a similar fashion, Marx always argued that the best exemplars of bourgeois-capitalism never applied the same criteria to themselves which they applied to the workforce/population, in general. As he states “the non-worker does everything against the worker which the worker does against him/herself, but he [or she] does not do against him/herself what he [or she] does against the worker”.30 Meaning, that the best exemplars of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism hold themselves to a different standard and criteria than the general-population. They solely apply the rigors of the logic of capitalism and optimum performance to the workforce/population, while, excusing themselves from such a criteria and imperative.

Consequently, the bourgeois imperative of optimum capitalist performance is an imperative imposed upon the lower stratums of the capitalist-system, both forcefully and softly, wherefore, the general-population continually has to perform and conform to what “the principle of optimal [capitalist] performance”31 demands and/or commands, without exception. The upper-echelons of bourgeois-capitalism are absolved of this imperative. Their task is to manage western high-tech civilization along the lines of this performance criterion. Specifically, they are exempt from the rigors of this maximum performance imperative. The lot is merely to enjoy the fruits and the luxuries that this performance criterion; i.e., profit-imperative, provides them.

In this regard, the Enlightenment endures through the empty utopian promises of universal bourgeois-capitalism, which as Lyotard states, celebrate a post-modern eclecticism, with an increasing sense of liberty and infinite choice, when in fact, this is not truly the case. It is not the case in the sense that this so-called post-modern eclecticism is without real socio-economic diversity, equality, and linguistic heterogeneity. As always, money talks and money is all that matters, such is the essential imperative lodged inside the grand-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. In actuality, bourgeois-capitalist-post-modernity is a superficial diversity, equality, and heterogeneity localized primarily in capitalist commodities, which demands that for anyone to participate in this eclectic bourgeois façade and capitalist pageantry, they must possess a certain level of monetary-power. Indeed, Lyotard is correct, when he states:

Postmodern…eclecticism is the degree zero of contemporary general culture: [where] one listens to reggae, watches a western, eats McDonald’s food for lunch and local cuisine for dinner, wears Paris perfume in Tokyo and “retro” clothes in Hong Kong…[and] “anything goes”. The epoch is one of slackening…but this realism of “anything goes” is in fact that of money [where the] criteria…to assess…value [is based on] profits and…purchasing power.32

Insofar, as the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism promises to satisfy all human needs via an incessant celebratory monologue that champions the capitalist marketplace, the catch, or ruse, is the fact that these human needs must first have a certain level of power and money in order to be acknowledged as valid needs, by the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism.

Consequently, the post-modern epoch may be defined as an infinite series of incommensurable language-games and discourses etc., by Lyotard. However, these incommensurable language-games and discourses are, nonetheless, continuously unified and tied together via the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, which through “the exercise of terror…says ‘adapt your aspiration to our [capitalist] ends –or else”.33 The exercise of terror by the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, imposes a unifying principle, or profit-imperative, upon the plurality of language-games, discourses and narratives, ultimately, impeding the development, the maturation, and the realization of a post-modernity via the exercise of a certain type of bourgeois-capitalist terrorism. That is, a very real fear, threatening the multiplicity of language-games, narratives, and discourses with imprisonment, unemployment, repression, hunger or worst etc., if there is too much deviation between them and/or between them and bourgeois-capitalism.

In consequence, the despotism imposed by the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism “does not respect the plurality of language-games”,34 but instead, imposes a totalitarian regime upon post-modernity, which distorts, falsifies, and misrepresents its fundamental goal and imperative: pragmatic egalitarianism. That is, a pragmatic egalitarianism, in all shapes and forms, which commands plurality, diversity, and socio-economic parity, in relative equal measure, across all stratums of everyday life for all micro-narratives, language-games, and discourses, regardless of race, gender, class, age or background etc. As a result, the actualization of post-modernity is stifled under the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. It is cut short. It is asphyxiated in the name of bourgeois-power and bourgeois-money, namely, the last standing grand narrative of the Enlightenment, bourgeois-state-capitalism, which favors those select few that best embody, represent, and exemplify, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism; i.e., bourgeois-capitalist money and bourgeois-capitalist power.

In fact, Lyotard readily admits in his version of post-modernity, outlined in The Post-modern Condition, that the bourgeois-capitalist “ruling class is and will continue to be the class of decision makers. [Namely] …[that the] composite layer of corporate leaders, high-level administrators and the heads of the major professional, labor, political and religious organizations”,35  will continue to enact judgments and influence in service of the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. In this regard, Lyotard puts forward a false-view of post-modernism, that is, a view of post-modernism, which champions plurality, diversity, and egalitarianism while simultaneously still being ruled by a cadre of bourgeois-capitalist aristocrats and technocrats; i.e., a state-finance-corporate aristocracy.

Ultimately, what Lyotard fails to mention is that post-modernity has not fully bloomed; i.e., that it has not gone far enough, insofar as it has yet to realize its raison d’être, egalitarianism, in its full capacity. Post-modernism has not gone far enough due to the fact that the seeming plurality of language-games, discourses, phrases, and micro-narratives pervading everyday life continues to be suppressed under a lingering meta-narrative of the Enlightenment; i.e., bourgeois-capitalism. As Lyotard states, “the price to pay for such…illusions [i.e., meta-narrative] is terror”.36 That is, the forceful application of a set of bourgeois-capitalism criterions, which impede the diversity, the plurality and the equality shared between narratives.  In effect, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism has filled the void left over by those other obsolete Enlightenment meta-narratives described by Lyotard as the grand-narrative of absolute knowledge and/or the grand-narrative of total human emancipation etc., like them, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism perpetuates the universal ideals of the Enlightenment.

As a result, despite the “nation-states, parties, professions, institutions, and historical traditions…losing their attraction”,37 like a zombie, the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism lingers-on and persists in imposing its despotism over all narratives. That is, it persists to fashion “society [into] a unified totality, a unicity …[a] perfectly sealed circle of facts…[that is, a] social whole [programmed] for the optimization of… performance”.38.  Therefore, if post-modernism is to achieve full maturity, it is imperative that all small micro-narratives “wage war on totality [and seek to] activate [and multiply] differences”,39 in every shape and form, so that the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism can finally be utterly nullified.

  1. Jean-Francois Lyotard. The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massimo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 43.
  2. Michel Luc Bellemare. The Structural-Anarchism Manifesto: (The Logic of Structural Anarchism Versus The Logic of Capitalism), (Montréal: Blacksatin Publications Inc., 2016).
  3. Jean-Francois Lyotard. The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massimo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 37.
  4. Ibid, p. 37.
  5. Ibid, p. xxxiv.
  6. Ibid, p. 7.
  7. Ibid, p. 26.
  8. Karl Marx. “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, The Marx-Engels Reader, Ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1978) p. 476.
  9. Joseph A. Schumpeter. Can Capitalism Survive? (Creative Destruction and The Future of The Global Economy), (New York, New York: Harper & Row, 1950) p. 43.
  10. Jean-Francois Lyotard. The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massimo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. xxiv.
  11. Joseph A. Schumpeter. Can Capitalism Survive? (Creative Destruction and The Future of  The Global Economy), (New York, New York: Harper & Row, 1950) p. 155.
  12. Ibid, p. 191.
  13. Jean-Francois Lyotard. The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massimo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 77.
  14. Friedrich Nietzsche. The Will To Power, Ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York, New York: Vintage Books, 1967) pp. 9-11.
  15. Joseph A. Schumpeter. Can Capitalism Survive? (Creative Destruction and The Future of The Global Economy), (New York, New York: Harper & Row, 1950) pp. 155-156.
  16. Jean-Francois Lyotard. The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massimo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 15.
  17. Ibid, p. 46.
  18. Ibid, p. 51.
  19. Ibid, p. 60.
  20. Ibid, p. 63.
  21. Ibid. p. 62
  22. Jean-Francois Lyotard. The Differend: Phrases in Dispute, Trans. Georges Van Den Abbeele (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988) p. 155.
  23. Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud. Just Gaming, Trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) p. 16.
  24. Ibid, p. 177.
  25. Ibid, p. 178.
  26. Jean-Francois Lyotard. The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massimo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 17.
  27. Ibid, p. 17.
  28. Ibid. 17.
  29. Ibid, p. 19.
  30. Karl Marx. “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”, The Marx-Engels Reader,Robert C. Tucker (New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1978) p. 81.
  31. Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massimo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 44.
  32. Ibid, p. 76.
  33. Ibid, p. 64.
  34. Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thebaud. Just Gaming, Trans. Wlad Godzich (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985) p. 98.
  35. Jean-Francois Lyotard. The Post-Modern Condition, Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massimo (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) p. 14.
  36. Ibid, p. 81,
  37. Ibid, p. 14.
  38. Ibid, p. 12.
  39. Ibid, p. 82.

Professional Societies: Corporate Service, or Public Services for You!

They call themselves non-profit professional societies, but they often act as enabling trade associations for the companies and businesspeople who fund them.  At their worst, they serve their paymasters and remain in the shadows, avoiding publicity and visibility.  When guided by their better angels, professional societies can be authoritative tribunes for a more healthy and safe society.

I am referring to the organizations that stand for their respective professions – automotive, electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers; physicians; architects; scientists; and accountants.  The people working in these occupations all want to be members of a “professional” association, not a “trade” association.

So let’s start by distinguishing how a “profession” is supposed to differ from a “trade.”  First, profit is not to be the end-all of a profession and its practitioners. Moral and public interest codes of ethics are supposed to be paramount when they conflict with maximizing sales and income.

The National Society of Professional Engineers’ code of ethics stipulates that an engineer has a professional duty to go to the appropriate authorities should the engineer be rebuffed by employer or client who was notified of a dangerous situation or product.

Physicians have a duty to prevent the trauma or disease which they are trained to treat. A half-dozen physicians in the 1960s aggressively pressed the auto industry to build more crash-protective vehicles to prevent trauma casualties they had to treat regularly.

A profession has three basic characteristics.  First is a learned tradition – otherwise known as going deep and keeping up with a profession’s literature and practices.  Second is to continue a tradition of public service.  Third is to maintain the independence of the profession.

How do professional societies measure up? Not that well. They are too monetized to fulfill their public service obligations and retain their independence. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has had a notorious history of following the technological stagnation of the auto companies. Their standards almost never diverge from what is permitted by GM, Ford et al.  Indeed, the SAE’s standards committees are mostly composed of company engineers whose employers provide funding and facilities for any testing.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is waist-deep in the automation and artificial intelligence drive.  You’ll not hear from that Society about the downsides, collateral risks and undisclosed data by the companies in this portentous area.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has not distinguished itself regarding the safety of gas and oil pipelines, allowing industry lobbyists to take over the federal regulator without as much as a warning whistle.  This history was exposed years ago by a retired DuPont engineer, Fred Lang.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) knows about the scores of vulnerable plants resisting regulatory efforts to safeguard their premises from sabotage that could destroy a nearby town or city.  Ask Rick Hind, former legislative director for Greenpeace, about this evasion (See: “Chemical Security Testimony by Greenpeace’s Rick Hind”).

The American Medical Association (AMA) received peer-reviewed studies by Harvard and Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine pointing to at least 5,000 patient deaths per week from preventable problems in hospitals – from malpractice to hospital-induced infections.  Despite this clear medical emergency, the AMA refuses to move into high drive against this epidemic.  Mum’s the word.  Where the AMA shouts out is against the law of torts and the civil justice system that, every once in a rare while, hold negligent or criminally behaved physicians accountable to their victims.

Possibly the most complicit profession facilitating, covering for, and explaining away corporate greed and deception is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Too many corporate accountants specialize in complex cooking of the books for their corporate clients.  The Wall Street crash in 2008-2009 is a major case in point. Donald Trump knows about such accountants from his business career of obfuscation.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), after a long period of submissiveness, woke up to the energy waste/pollution crisis of modern buildings and developed standards with labels to give builders incentives toward more responsible construction. But by and large, it remains a profession, apart from modern technologies, which has left its best days back in the 18th and 19th centuries (e.g., the classic cities of Europe).

Now what about the scientific societies? The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has led the way for nuclear arms control and other weaponized discoveries of the warfare state. On the other hand, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — by far the largest membership organization and publisher of Science magazine — has been utterly timid in putting muscle behind its fine pronouncements.

The large street protests by scientists in Washington, after the Electoral College selected Donald Trump, were started by young social and physical scientists. They stood up for scientific integrity and conscience and opposed Trump’s defunding of such governmental organizations as the National Science Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  These scientists’ efforts have been met with some success.

What most Americans do not know is that many of the state and federal safety/health standards are taken in considerable measure from the weak “consensus” standards advanced by professional societies. These societies, so heavily marinated with their respective industries, see their important role of feeding their industry standards into state, national, and international standards which are enforceable under domestic law or treaty.

Maybe these societies continue a learned tradition at their annual meetings, workshops, and in their publications.  But they far too often fail to maintain their profession’s standards of independence (from commercial supremacy) and commitment to public service.

These professional societies, and other associations not mentioned here, need to be brought out of their convenient shadows into the spotlight of public scrutiny, higher expectation, and broader participation.

Professional Societies: Corporate Service, or Public Services for You!

They call themselves non-profit professional societies, but they often act as enabling trade associations for the companies and businesspeople who fund them.  At their worst, they serve their paymasters and remain in the shadows, avoiding publicity and visibility.  When guided by their better angels, professional societies can be authoritative tribunes for a more healthy and safe society.

I am referring to the organizations that stand for their respective professions – automotive, electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers; physicians; architects; scientists; and accountants.  The people working in these occupations all want to be members of a “professional” association, not a “trade” association.

So let’s start by distinguishing how a “profession” is supposed to differ from a “trade.”  First, profit is not to be the end-all of a profession and its practitioners. Moral and public interest codes of ethics are supposed to be paramount when they conflict with maximizing sales and income.

The National Society of Professional Engineers’ code of ethics stipulates that an engineer has a professional duty to go to the appropriate authorities should the engineer be rebuffed by employer or client who was notified of a dangerous situation or product.

Physicians have a duty to prevent the trauma or disease which they are trained to treat. A half-dozen physicians in the 1960s aggressively pressed the auto industry to build more crash-protective vehicles to prevent trauma casualties they had to treat regularly.

A profession has three basic characteristics.  First is a learned tradition – otherwise known as going deep and keeping up with a profession’s literature and practices.  Second is to continue a tradition of public service.  Third is to maintain the independence of the profession.

How do professional societies measure up? Not that well. They are too monetized to fulfill their public service obligations and retain their independence. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has had a notorious history of following the technological stagnation of the auto companies. Their standards almost never diverge from what is permitted by GM, Ford et al.  Indeed, the SAE’s standards committees are mostly composed of company engineers whose employers provide funding and facilities for any testing.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is waist-deep in the automation and artificial intelligence drive.  You’ll not hear from that Society about the downsides, collateral risks and undisclosed data by the companies in this portentous area.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has not distinguished itself regarding the safety of gas and oil pipelines, allowing industry lobbyists to take over the federal regulator without as much as a warning whistle.  This history was exposed years ago by a retired DuPont engineer, Fred Lang.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) knows about the scores of vulnerable plants resisting regulatory efforts to safeguard their premises from sabotage that could destroy a nearby town or city.  Ask Rick Hind, former legislative director for Greenpeace, about this evasion (See: “Chemical Security Testimony by Greenpeace’s Rick Hind”).

The American Medical Association (AMA) received peer-reviewed studies by Harvard and Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine pointing to at least 5,000 patient deaths per week from preventable problems in hospitals – from malpractice to hospital-induced infections.  Despite this clear medical emergency, the AMA refuses to move into high drive against this epidemic.  Mum’s the word.  Where the AMA shouts out is against the law of torts and the civil justice system that, every once in a rare while, hold negligent or criminally behaved physicians accountable to their victims.

Possibly the most complicit profession facilitating, covering for, and explaining away corporate greed and deception is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Too many corporate accountants specialize in complex cooking of the books for their corporate clients.  The Wall Street crash in 2008-2009 is a major case in point. Donald Trump knows about such accountants from his business career of obfuscation.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), after a long period of submissiveness, woke up to the energy waste/pollution crisis of modern buildings and developed standards with labels to give builders incentives toward more responsible construction. But by and large, it remains a profession, apart from modern technologies, which has left its best days back in the 18th and 19th centuries (e.g., the classic cities of Europe).

Now what about the scientific societies? The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has led the way for nuclear arms control and other weaponized discoveries of the warfare state. On the other hand, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — by far the largest membership organization and publisher of Science magazine — has been utterly timid in putting muscle behind its fine pronouncements.

The large street protests by scientists in Washington, after the Electoral College selected Donald Trump, were started by young social and physical scientists. They stood up for scientific integrity and conscience and opposed Trump’s defunding of such governmental organizations as the National Science Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  These scientists’ efforts have been met with some success.

What most Americans do not know is that many of the state and federal safety/health standards are taken in considerable measure from the weak “consensus” standards advanced by professional societies. These societies, so heavily marinated with their respective industries, see their important role of feeding their industry standards into state, national, and international standards which are enforceable under domestic law or treaty.

Maybe these societies continue a learned tradition at their annual meetings, workshops, and in their publications.  But they far too often fail to maintain their profession’s standards of independence (from commercial supremacy) and commitment to public service.

These professional societies, and other associations not mentioned here, need to be brought out of their convenient shadows into the spotlight of public scrutiny, higher expectation, and broader participation.

Propaganda Killing Kills Propaganda – First The Skripals, Now Arkady Babchenko Come Back From The Dead

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An "enemy of Putin" is attacked. Authorities immediately raise accusations against Russia and the Kremlin. Public condemnation follows. There are calls to sanction Russia.

But the information is murky. The details don't make sense. Critical questions follow. After the while the "dead" come back from death.

The above was the script followed in the Skripal affair. The "deadly nerve agent - of a kind developed by Russia-" did not kill at all. Now a similar case happened.
Arkady Babchenko: Ukraine blames Russia for journalist murder 

BBC: Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman has accused Russia of being behind the killing in Kiev of the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko.

'I am confident that the Russian totalitarian machine did not forgive him his honesty and principled stance,' the prime minister posted on Facebook.

A Kremlin critic, Babchenko was gunned down outside his apartment on Tuesday.

Anti-Putin Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko shot dead in Ukraine capital - Telegraph

Russia denies involvement in murder of journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko- Telegraph

Prominent Russian journalist who criticized Kremlin shot dead in Kiev - CNBC
There were hundreds such headlines since yesterday, all directly or indirectly accusing Russia, the Kremlin or Putin.

But the case was murky. Babchenko was critical of all Russians who did not protest against the Russian involvement in Syria and Ukraine. When the TU 154 with the Red Army Choir crashed and 64 choir members died, Babchenko said that it did not bother him. In his eyes those too were guilty people. That did not make him any friends.

When he moved to the Ukraine he was just as cynical towards the Ukrainian government. He raised harsh accusations against the Ukrainian President Poroshenko. Many people had threatened him.

After his murder was announced and everyone had had time to "blame Russia," contradicting tales of how the murder happened emerged.

Babchenko was killed by shots in the back or front, the public was told. He was killed while either leaving the apartment or while coming back, depending on which sources the media spoke to. He died in place or in the emergency vehicle. Not even the number of shots that had hit him was consistently reported. The police did not get the story straight.

Then news broke in Kiev that the police had been in Babchenko apartment block hours before he was killed. They had manipulated the CCTV. Something was deeply wrong here.

Now it turns out that Babchenko is alive and well. No one shot at him. Today he appeared in a press conference (video).

The internal Ukrainian security service SBU said it had created a stunt together with Babchenko. It says that this was done to catch someone who had threatened him.

Reuters Moscow correspondent Polina Ivanova:
#breaking Russian journalist Babchenko that was declared murdered last night is... alive. Says he had to stage his own murder in order to capture someone, apologises to his wife.

#Babchenko: 'Special apologies to my wife. Olechka, I am sorry, but there were no options here. The operation took two months to prepare. I was told a month ago. As a result of the operation, one person has been captured, he is being held.'

#Babchenko said that he had found out about an assassination that was being planned against him and joined up with Ukrainian security services to catch the killer, and add that according to their info, Russia ordered the murder

#Babchenko, smirking on live TV, says 'I did my bit of the job. I'm still alive. Didn't give you the satisfaction.'

#Babchenko says person involved in preparing the assassination has been arrested. Says his murder was ordered for $40,000

There have been hundreds of obituaries for #Babchenko published in Russia today by his colleagues, friends, enemies ... which he can now read. Speechless
This will not go down well for Babchenko or the Ukraine. The Ukrainian Prime Minister officially accused Russia of killing the man. But it turns out the the Ukrainian state faked the murder. Babchenko comes back from the dead, proving that the accusations against Russia were false. Just as one false claim is undone the Ukrainian security service says that Russia ordered a failed assassination? Why would anyone now believe a word of what they say?

Russia should be happy. Both affairs, the Skripal and the Babchenko stunt, have been proven to be factless propaganda against Russia.

More people will wake up to such obvious manipulation. They will ask questions. The usual accusers will have to become more cautious in raising their propaganda claims. Their propaganda "killings" will - in the end - kill their propaganda.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.

Ron Paul: On War, Gold, and My Years in Congress

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Photo: Gage Skidmore

JEFF DEIST: What makes you optimistic, what makes you pessimistic about what you see in the US?

RON PAUL: Well, if I look at the big picture including a long span of time, I would say conditions aren’t that bad, even though I often talk about all the bad things I anticipate and how it could get worse in terms of the economy and foreign policy.

When you think about it, I was born in 1935, in the middle of the Depression. I remember my early life. I remember when I was 3 years old and 5 years old and the Depression lasted through World War II and the conditions were such as I remember very clearly, but it wasn’t a big deal for me even though we lived in close quarters and we didn’t have a lot of shoes and were just skimping by.

So, we went through a Depression and World War II. Those were pretty tough times and since that time — since the war issue’s always been a big issue with me — I remember the tragedies of World War II. We had relatives in Germany, so it always caught my attention. Then we had the Korean War. I could remember my mother saying, “another war this soon?” We just got over one, so she was negative on that and then we had the Vietnam War and I knew that I probably would be drafted and that was one of the reasons that helped me move toward medicine.

So, those were pretty bad times. Think of the people that were dying over those first 30 or 40 years. Things weren’t great economically either. In America, we were not even
allowed to own gold.

Those were conditions that existed that changed for the better to some degree. Philosophically, I think, we’re still on the wrong track overall, although some things have improved. Once again, we’re able to own gold. The United States government and I pushed it along when I was in Congress to mint gold coins again and talk about monetary policy.

Philosophically, we are making progress in some areas, though, and I give a lot of credit to the institutions that do this, like the Mises Institute and FEE. And of course, I want to participate in changing foreign policy and we keep working on that through the Ron Paul Institute.

But, on the downside of all this, I see we’re on a disastrous course even though the official economic indicators look great and wonderful. Everybody’s practically euphoric and
Trump is a good cheerleader. But, there is a lot of weakness behind the numbers, and we’re engaging in self-deception and unsupported hopefulness that things will be all good, there will be no inflation or high unemployment, and there’ll be no major war. I think when I look at the seeds that have been sown, the future looks rather bleak in many ways, even compared to what it was like as we finished World War II and Vietnam.

We’re in a mess partly because our major universities are still very Marxist-oriented and they’re very anti-liberty and therefore, I think for people who care about liberty, we have a big job ahead of us.

JD: You talk about this in your book, Swords into Ploughshares. Is there a particular moment or recollection from your childhood during the Great Depression, or World War II, that started you on the path to being liberty-minded?

RP: Not at that young age. I think I had a natural instinct — and I claim everybody has a natural instinct — to be an individual. I think we express that when we are 2 years old and when we are 4 years old, when we’re teenagers and it’s always a struggle of being independent-minded and minding our own business and taking care of ourselves. And then, we have that beaten out of us. Of course, discipline is very necessary and good. But it depends on where it’s coming from. If it’s coming from some wise parenting, I think this is very, very good.

But, there was never one moment I started down that path of being liberty-minded. I think, more or less, it was an evolution. Back then I’d read newspapers and listened to the radio, listened to my dad talking about the war issues and going to school and it was a mixed bag. And then, I guess the serious introduction came probably in the early 1960s. I got interested in reading Austrian economics. I read almost everything that Ayn Rand ever wrote and that’s when I found Leonard Read and got to know him. It seems like when Goldwater was running — that would have been ’64 — I had already been thinking about it. If you read everything Goldwater was talking about back then, he would throw out some names. So, somewhere along the way, I came across the name Hayek because he was known because of The Road to Serfdom. So, I was inquisitive enough to look into it.

By the way, when I talk to college students today, I say the most important thing you can leave this place with is being inquisitive, checking out, finding out, and ask the question and seek the truth and do your best to be truthful to yourself and then come up with these answers. I am fascinated, that on the campaign trail in the last 10–15 years, where people would listen and come up to me and they would say, “I get it. It’s just common sense.” They’d put the whole picture together and they seemed to have sort of a moment
where a light bulb goes on.

JD: Part of this evolution affected your decision to be a doctor, didn’t it? Deciding you wanted to help people. You saw a world full of hurt.

RP: I had an exceptionally good male teacher that taught biology and I got fascinated with that and got an A. So, when I went to college, I sort of leaned in the direction of science. I already felt comfortable with biology and the chemistry teachers and physics teachers weren’t as good. So I majored in biology, so that sort of set the stage, but even up until my third year in college, I was uncertain. But by the time I was finished in college, I had made a decision that’s what I wanted to do and fortunately, I was able to do that. I considered myself very fortunate that I was able, over my lifetime, to be able to do medicine, to a large degree and stuck with that a lot more than people realize as well as getting involved in the issues. People say, “when did you get involved in politics?” I say I never did. “When did you decide to go into politics?” I never did. But, I wanted to talk about the issues that were important to me and the vehicle was politics because I wasn’t an economics professor. I wasn’t writing great books and things like that, I was more inspired to try to convince other people of a different way of doing things. And I think I picked up some of the wisdom on how to do that from Leonard Read because he had some special ideas on how you converted people. Yet, I ended up talking, and being impressed and amazed that I could get 5,000 or 10,000 people out on a college campus, but being a member of Congress was what I used that one thing to do and that is to change people’s minds.

JD: I know you’ve written about it, but talk briefly about your involuntary time, of a sort, in the Air Force during the 1960s.

RP: Right. I always assumed I would be drafted. I thought being a doctor was a better way to go, because I just dreaded the thought of people just shooting at each other and killing each other. In October of ’62, I was almost finished with my second year of residency, and during the crisis, I got a draft notice. Fortunately I was able to finish out the year, but I went into the Air Force in January of ’63 and was stationed at Kelly in San Antonio and that’s how we originally got to Texas. But, back then, there were a few people resisting the draft. There was a doctor that was in the news and I sort of looked at that and I paid attention, but I didn’t say, “that’s what I ought to be doing.” But resistance to the war grew, and as time went on I sort of admired what boxer Mohammad Ali did, to give up his career in a way for three years, because he was arrested and prosecuted for resisting the draft. That, to me, was very impressive. I was disturbed by that, but I expected it. That’s what governments do to you.

I was disturbed that my medical training was going to be messed up. But, I was pretty stoic about it and I liked the idea of flying. I remember going through flight medical school. It was not a big education, it was 3 months schooling, but I remember it was in the early 60s, they were just talking about the space program. I said, in my mind, I wonder if I ever could be the first doctor that could go into space. That technology fascinated me and of course, that wasn’t to be, but I just made a decision that I would make the best of it. During the Air Force period, I had a lot more time to read and that’s when the Randians were very active and it was at that time, I subscribed to The Objectivist Newsletter and remember specifically reading “Gold and Economic Freedom” by Alan Greenspan, which I kept a copy of all those years. That’s the activity I was involved with. I’m not a Randian, and I’m not an Objectivist. I have my critique of that, but it was sort of inspiring reading.

Even today, I don’t read hardly any novels, but I read hers because they were sort of inspirational and yet, she forced me to sort things out because she was so negative on Christianity and generosity, at least she came across that way with her attack on altruism and compared it to communism and that didn’t make sense to me. I had to figure that out, that there was a difference, that they weren’t identical.

But, so I had more time off while in the Air Force and enjoyed it. I learned how to fly an airplane and got my pilot’s license, but had to travel around the world frequently as part of my duty. I went to the Far East on a couple trips and I went to the Middle East and every place from Spain, Italy, Turkey, Ethiopia, Pakistan, the whole works. Iran, I was in, I don’t think I was in Iraq. In Iran, I had been there in Tehran, but that was back when we owned it, with the Shah.

I referenced those trips over the years because they became so significant in my activity in foreign policy. I especially remember how we weren’t allowed to go into Afghanistan. We were in Pakistan and we went up to Peshawar, which was not too far from the Khyber Pass, which was historic and remains historic. It was right on the border and it turned out that was the area where that whole Bin Laden episode happened. And I can visualize that place very, very well as I was driving with the military people up in a truck, to visit the border. I can remember the captain that was with us in the truck, who had been there before and he said, “Ron, do you see that place up there?” It was a place of totally bare and rocky mountains. He said, “there are thousands of people that live up there. They are tribal and they’ve been there for a long, long time and they’ve never been conquered.” And he gave me a little history lesson and so, once we started thinking about this, in the foreign policy, I was able to visualize.

So, my military experience turned out to have some value.

JD: After the Air Force you were back in South Texas. You now have several kids. You’re reading Austrian economics, getting more and more involved in your thinking. In the early 70s, you go to the University of Houston and see Ludwig von Mises, only a year or two before he died.

RP: I think it was his last lecture tour. We saw a little clip in the paper — very, very small — in the Houston Chronicle and it said he would be a speaker at the University of Houston. There was only one other person I knew in the whole town that knew who Mises was and that was Dr. Henry May and so, I called him, I said, “Henry, Mises is coming to town. Why don’t we go up and hear him?” And it was a major decision for us because we had to drive about 50 or 60 miles and find where he was giving this lecture. At the same time, we both had office hours, so we had to get coverage, for somebody to come in and take care of our patients because it would take us the afternoon to do this. So, we went up and his lecture was on socialism. I sort of read the book and knew a little bit about it. It was just the experience of hearing him lecture. He had a German accent with a lot of lisping, whistling. He spoke English, of course, but there was a strong accent, but it still was an experience. The venue, it was a room, probably a classroom that might have held 40 to 50 students, maybe more and they had to bring extra chairs in and that room was packed. We got there a little late and we stood at the door so we could at least see him for the experience. I don’t know whether you ever heard the other part of the story.

JD: Dr. Michael Keller.

RP: Do you know the story?

JD: Our friend, Dr. Keller, was responsible for having the event there as a young member of UH student council.

RP: One time we were talking many, many years later, to Keller and I told him this story. He said, “Guess what? I was the one that got Mises to come.” It was probably decades later that we crossed paths and that’s how one person, doing something — like bringing Mises in — can make changes and I found that fascinating.

JD: So, when you ultimately decided to run for Congress, the first time around in the Houston area, I wonder if people understand how beneficial it was that you were known as a medical doctor and an OB — it was a political asset for you in running for Congress.

RP: Yes, it was, as a matter of fact. We used it in our advertisements and our media person did an ad which was just, the lights coming on at my house. It was dark and I go out and get in the car and drive off and they show me going off and then me coming back home in the middle of the night. I got up and went and delivered a baby. Matter of fact, [Congressman and medical doctor] Michael Burgess was a medical student back then and after we got to know each other he said, “I saw your ads. That’s when I went into OBGYN. The ads were so impressive.” It had nothing to do with anything foreign policy or gold standard or anything else. It was just that I was an OB doctor and it was image making. When he told me that story, I said, “It’s too bad you just went into OB. I thought you’d become a libertarian.” But, he probably wouldn’t mind me saying that.

JD: Carol was a little astonished when you won? It changed your life, not always in great ways, in terms of family.

RP: Well, she wasn’t astonished. I was probably more astonished. It’s when I told her I was going to run. She said, it was risky, dangerous because you might win. I said no, I can’t possibly because I wasn’t involved in that. I was trying to get rid of Santa Claus and you don’t win doing that. She said, yeah, but you’re going to tell them the truth and they’re going to like that and they’re going to vote you in. So, yes, we had some adjustments to do. And that was one reason why after I had four terms, I came back to medicine for 12 years.

JD: One of the great things that came out of your first stint in Congresst was your minority report, with Lewis Lehrman on The Case for Gold. You were part of the Minority Commission appointed by Ronald Reagan. Reagan is someone you saw through maybe more than a lot of conservatives did.

RP: Oh, yeah. Reagan was a nice guy and I think he believed in some good things, but he also was able to rationalize a lot of things. Deficit spending, big government, militarism. I didn’t like what he did in Libya, bombing Libya.

Also, he really had less to do with the gold commission than it sounds because it was passed under Carter the year before Reagan was in. So when Reagan was elected and it came up, it looked like they were just going to ignore it. We had to make sure that they did it and my involvement came about, interestingly, because I had talked about gold.

The most important outcome of that whole thing was that we legalized private ownership of gold again for the first time since the 1930s. The legislation was brought up under the IMF bill in 1983 and Jesse Helms and I sort of worked it together. But he was ahead of me on having it done. I think he was getting ready to do it in the Senate and they came to me and I was able to introduce it in the House.

The bill’s passage was a significant event, but that was a reflection of what was going on in ’79 and ’80. I mean, we went from gold not being owned by Americans and fixed at $35 an ounce at Bretton Woods, which was a disaster. It collapsed and then we had a decade of massive inflation and 15 percent interest rates then 21 percent and people were very, very concerned about the dollar and so, the purpose was to study the role of gold in the monetary system, domestic and international.

We had our first meeting and it was held in secret and [Donald] Regan was the chairman. He was Treasurer and he said, “we have to keep this secret because we don’t want to mess up the gold markets and all.” And guess who came to our rescue? Several people did, but [syndicated columnist and journalist] Bob Novak did. Novak was a gold guy and he started writing about it and he got enough people to pester them and then they turned the commission’s documents over. Few people in Washington wanted an open discussion.

JD: A lot of people may not know the story about President Reagan calling you to vote for funding for a bomber program. Tough call for a young congressman.

RP: Yeah, I was in the House restaurant and I think Carol was with me because usually when we had someone come from home, a guest, we’d go there. So, they came over and said, the president’s on the phone. I went to take the call and matter of fact, over the years, he did that I think twice, but this was the one on the B-1 bomber, that was controversial and he asked me — I was very, very polite and he was very polite — and I said, well I’m sorry, Mr. President because you know, I campaigned against that and I said I don’t think I can break my word. He said, okay, I understand. There wasn’t any badgering or anything like that, but then I went back and I told Carol.

JD: That’s a great story. He was a little more gentlemanly than Tom DeLay.

RP: DeLay was something else. He’s being rehabilitated.

JD: Yes. Do you have any thoughts on running against Phil Gramm in 1984 for US Senate in Texas?

RP: I was looking for a graceful way out of Congress and the Senate run was it because I did have a lot of supporters then and I didn’t want to insult them by just quitting. It was very, very clear that the establishment Republicans didn’t want me and they ganged up real fast to support Gramm. I don’t know of any other way that I could have done it, but it was sort of my desire to get home because in spite of all the stories you hear about Congressmen, back then I was probably making $40,000 or $50,000 a year and I had kids in school and it was not financially easy to go back and forth and have a couple homes and get kids through college. I decided that if I was going to go back to Congress, I had certain rules that I had. I was not going to have any kids still in school and I wouldn’t owe any money. I’d have my house and all my properties paid off and then I could be more relaxed in going back and not have to worry about the finances.

JD: So, when you decide to run again in 1996, people might not know how arrayed against you the GOP was. Then Governor George W. Bush of Texas and his man, Karl Rove, were not fans, and actually Newt Gingrich as speaker had the Democrats switch parties to run against you. So they didn’t want you back.

RP: They worked very, very hard. Matter of fact, that race is probably the most fascinating that I was involved in. It’s been written up in detail because when I decided I was going to run, I went and talked to the Republican delegation and I said, “I want to run.” I want to get another Republican seat for Texas because Greg Laughlan was the sitting Democrat in the 14th district where I lived.

I said I could get the seat. But, what shocked me is I didn’t know how quickly I could change it to a Republican seat a month later. With the backing of the Republican establishment, Laughlan became a Republican. He was on the Ways and Means Committee and the GOP promised him a million dollars and Newt Gingrich came on and he supported him. He got 56 — maybe, a large number, I think it was around 56 — other members of Congress to cough up and donate to his campaign and both Bushes, Senior and Junior, supported him. They didn’t want me in Congress.

But, it all backfired. We were tipped off at times when they were trying to bring somebody in to tell local voters to vote for Laughlan. I think it was somebody from the Reagan administration that they sent in. I can’t think of his name right now but he had been in the cabinet. We would know that he was coming in and then we had our press release ready the day before he arrived. The thing that we could use on this was, “why are they sending people from Washington to tell people in Texas how to vote?” And that was a powerful message.

And also, I knew for sure that the reason that race was so interesting was that they would use the drug issue. I was very clear about the War on Drugs and how could anybody be against the War on Drugs in a Bible Belt conservative Republican district in Texas? You can’t be elected like that.

So lo and behold, the Republican Party spent a million dollars or more, which was a lot of money then, and they did the most vicious ugly ads against me claiming that I’m giving drugs to kids and children, drug dealers and all this trash. And it didn’t work. I think most people didn’t believe it could possibly be true because they knew me more as a doctor taking care of and delivering babies. In fact, we answered it with an ad showing me delivering a baby. So, we had to combat this image. I ended up winning the primary.

But then the Democrats did the same thing, used the drug issue and I finally concluded that I thought I was absolutely alone, but I think the people are way ahead of Congress because there probably were a lot of families that had been touched by somebody because they smoked a marijuana cigarette and got thrown in prison. It was horrible. It still is bad and we’re seeing this today. I think the people either didn’t believe it or they weren’t going to hold it against me or they think the drug war was bad and I think time has proven that that was a good assessment, even though now we have an administration that’s trying to go backward.

JD: Well, when you come back to Congress, your second stint from 1997 until 2012, was marked by really two things that stick out. One is that you were strongly against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and you were involved in promoting noninterventionism. The other thing is that you were involved in monetary policy going back and forth with first Alan Greenspan and later Ben Bernanke. Give us your overriding thoughts about your second go in Congress.

RP: It was quite a bit different than the first time I ran. There was more attention and especially from 2008 on, from the presidential election in ’08 and ’12. It was just astounding and it was the issues that I liked to talk about, such as civil liberty issues.

I remember that I was totally shocked when I arrived at the University of Michigan, it was after a debate we had in Detroit, and there was a group of young people who had waited because I was late. But, we came over and that’s where they started shouting “end the Fed” and that’s where I remembered them doing that. I didn’t tell people. I didn’t have cards, hold cards up or say let’s end the Fed. It was spontaneous, so I knew something was going on, where people wanted to hear this message.

The other big issue was the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act]. College kids started talking about that or bringing it up to me even before I was hitting hard about it. The main concern was the authority to arrest Americans and hold Americans without due process which has continued.

Those were the issues I like to talk about and of course, one of my biggest events — might have been the biggest one — was at the Berkeley campus. Things were going along and we got more attention on the Federal Reserve and people, even today, I think have a much healthier attitude about the Federal Reserve. I remember at the time seeing a poll conducted by a television station asking whose fault the recession was. I think that 66 percent agreed it was the Fed’s fault and I thought, “wow.” And this wasn’t on your website or my website. This was on the CNBC website. And I thought, well, something interesting is going on. They’re not going to get away with what they’ve gotten away with for a long time because we’re going to have another crisis and the media will say it’s the Fed’s fault.

JD: You knew Alan Greenspan a little bit and he understood gold and he understood Austrian economics. He’s a brilliant man.

RP: We had a little bit of fun at times and I had visited with him after some hearings about Murray Rothbard and different things because he knew Murray from the Rand group. I think the most fascinating little incident was because I remember his article in The Objectivist Newsletter and he was coming to one of our hearings and we were able to go and have a one-on-one, sit down and get a picture and say a few words. And not everybody did it, but I was interested in it. That’s generally not my thing, but for Greenspan, I thought, I might as well take advantage of this. I had the original green pamphlet, which was The Objectivist Newsletter and it was in 1966 and it was when Greenspan had his article first published. I said, “do you recognize this?” He knew what it was. “What I’d like you to do is sign this article for me.” So, he got his pen out and he signed this. I said, do  you want to put a disclaimer on it? And he said, “I just read that recently and I still support all those views.” What am I going to make of all that?

I’ve tried to get him on the Liberty Report, can’t get him on. I thought I could have some fun.

JD: Maybe if you pay his $200,000 speaking fee.

RP: Yes, probably.

JD: I recall you also had a breakfast with Ben Bernanke when he was Fed Chair. How did that go? Was that polite or was it frosty?

RP: It was polite and boring, in a way.

JD: He wasn’t the ideologue that Greenspan was.

RP: It might have been me not being aggressive enough or something. But, I’d have a much easier conversation with Volcker. Volcker, I got to know a lot better than I knew Bernanke and in the early 80s, there was a thing called the Monetary Control Act and there was a major part of it which was opening up the door for the Fed to monetize anything they want, especially foreign bonds. So, I complained about it and complained about it in my little way at the conference and Volcker invited me over. He said, “I’d like you to come over and have breakfast and we’ll talk about it some more.” But, it was sort of an academic thing, the way it was. It wasn’t like, “I’m going to straighten you out.” That wasn’t his attitude. So, this had to have been in ’79, most likely or ’80.

JD: Mr. Volcker should be on your show. He’s got a new biography.

RP: I don’t know whether we’ve reached out to him. He was more sympathetic to gold than some. So, when we went in, it was a one-on-one breakfast and we went over and the aide I had was somebody by the name of Lew Rockwell. We walk in and we got there a couple minutes early and Volcker’s staff was in the room where we were supposed to meet. So, we were just chatting away there in friendly conversation and then Volcker walks in, you can’t miss him because I think he’s about six-and-a-half feet tall. So, he walks in and I thought, “well I have to shake his hand and say hello.” He didn’t even look at me. He didn’t come to me. He went straight to his staff and he said, “what’s the price of gold?” So, I thought, “gold is important to him” and I still think it’s every bit as important to Fed people now because it is the ultimate measurement of the dollar. They can rig it and monkey around with it and play games, but ultimately, the market will have its say. That’s the way that Bretton Woods broke down the market. But then, of course, we talked and had the meeting and he didn’t convert me, but it was very polite. But, what I really remember about that was, he was very interested in what the price of gold was that morning.

JD: The other huge and unfortunate series of events that marked your second time in Congress were 9/11 and then our subsequent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Looking back, talk about that terrible period with Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Wolfowitz. The Republicans in Congress were horrible too.

RP: We started this interview off with talking about how bad the Depression was and World War II, and Korea, and Vietnam. But then when you look at some trends today, some things are almost worse because of our aggressiveness. Back then, it was sort of dumb economic policy and Fed policy that gave us Depression and war. But, we had a declaration of war and it seemed like it was more acceptable, given the circumstances. But in the 21st century, things dramatically changed after 9/11, and the US has become far more aggressive. After all, 9/11 wasn’t the reason for the wars that followed. It was the excuse. Washington policymakers already knew what they wanted to do in the Middle East before 9/11 even happened.

My first speech, my first effort at peace, was shortly after I went back into Congress. I think it was 1998. It was the Iraq Freedom Act or I forget what it was called, but it was just intervention and threats and sanctions, that kind of stuff. I was saying those measures will lead to war. But, nobody was even talking about it in ’98, but it kept ratcheting up and getting worse and worse and worse.

It just was sort of unbelievable that’s what we were doing, and of course I wasn’t able to stop the war. I thought I was supposed to be there to help stop the wars, but they’re still going on.

JD: We’re going to feel the effects of these for decades and decades with the young people who’ve been hurt and need VA care.

RP: It’s horrible.

JD: And for all of your troubles, if you recall, there was that article in National Review from David Frum which called you and some other people, Pat Buchanan, “unpatriotic conservatives.” I always thought that you were neither. I think even some libertarians think of you as a conservative, but really you’re not in any political sense of that word.

RP: No, it’s a tricky word. Because some people could argue that if you technically want to follow the only oath that we take as members of Congress, that’s sort of conservative, to obey the oath and follow it. But “conservative” in the sense of being a warmonger, and supporting the war on drugs, and not having an understanding of civil liberties. That’s not a good kind of “conservative.” Also, conservatives today, they don’t admit it, but they’re big spenders, they’re huge spenders. So no, in that sense, we libertarians are not conservative. Besides, Mises and other libertarians never liked to be called conservatives. They wanted to be called liberals. That’s the trickiness of language. I generally steer clear of the labels.

I like to divide things into two parts: authoritarianism and volunteerism. On the one side are people who think that your life ought to be done on voluntary terms, as long as you reject aggression. On the other side are the authoritarians and they think they know what’s best for others. They really do. People I knew in Washington are convinced that people are idiots and therefore they can’t be responsible for themselves.

That’s why they don’t want ordinary people to own guns — and government should have all the guns. If you wanted to compare the number of people who die from government guns versus private guns — historically, government kills about 95 percent of the people. Maybe it’s worse than that, when you think of the 20th century.

Reprinted with permission from Mises.org.

US Commander in Europe: We Need More Troops to Fight The Russians

US Commander of the Europe Command, Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, has called for thousands more US troops to "deter Russian aggression" in Europe. He has even suggested that the US troops should be pulled off of counter-terrorism duty and sent to Europe. Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced a massive shipment of military equipment to Europe, including tanks and other tracked vehicles. Do US military officials really believe that Russia is about to invade western Europe? Are we back in the 1940s? Or is Washington's military-industrial complex looking for new ways to justify an ever-expanding military budget? Tune in to today's Liberty Report:

Conflict Theory and Biosphere Annihilation

In a recent article titled “Challenges for Resolving Complex Conflicts“, I pointed out that existing conflict theory pays little attention to the extinction-causing conflict being ongoingly generated by human over-consumption in the finite planetary biosphere (and, among other outcomes, currently resulting in 200 species extinctions daily). I also mentioned that this conflict is sometimes inadequately identified as a conflict caused by capitalism’s drive for unending economic growth in a finite environment.

I would like to explain the psychological origin of this biosphere-annihilating conflict and how this origin has nurtured the incredibly destructive aspects of capitalism (and socialism, for that matter) from the beginning. I would also like to explain what we can do about it.

Before I do, however, let me briefly illustrate why this particular conflict configuration is so important by offering you a taste of the most recent research evidence in relation to the climate catastrophe and biosphere annihilation and why the time to resolve this conflict is rapidly running out (assuming, problematically, that we can avert nuclear war in the meantime).

In an article reporting a recent speech by Professor James G. Anderson of Harvard University, whose research led to the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to mitigate CFC damage to the Ozone Layer, environmental journalist Robert Hunziker summarizes Anderson’s position as follows:

The chance of permanent ice remaining in the Arctic after 2022 is zero. Already, 80% is gone. The problem: Without an ice shield to protect frozen methane hydrates in place for millennia, the Arctic turns into a methane nightmare.1

But if you think that sounds drastic, other recent research has drawn attention to the fact that the ‘alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity…. The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events’. Without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses.2

So, if we are in the process of annihilating Earth’s biosphere, which will precipitate human extinction in the near term, why aren’t we paying much more attention to the origin of this fundamental conflict? And then developing a precisely focused strategy for transcending it?

The answer to these two questions is simply this: the origin of this conflict is particularly unpalatable and, from my careful observation, most people, including conflict theorists, aren’t anxious to focus on it.

So why are human beings over-consuming in the finite planetary biosphere? Or more accurately, why are human beings who have the opportunity to do so (which doesn’t include those impoverished people living in Africa, Asia, Central/South America or anywhere else) over-consuming in the finite planetary biosphere?

They are doing so because they were terrorized into unconsciously equating consumption with a meaningful life by parents and other adults who had already internalized this same ‘learning’.

Let me explain how this happens.

At the moment of birth, a baby is genetically programmed to feel and express their feelings in response to the stimuli, both internal and external, that the baby registers. For example, as soon after birth as a baby feels hungry, they will signal that need, usually by crying or screaming. An attentive parent (or other suitable adult) will usually respond to this need by feeding the baby and the baby will express their satisfaction with this outcome, perhaps with a facial expression, in a way that most aware parents and adults will have no difficulty identifying. Similarly, if the baby is cold, in pain or experiencing any other stimulus, the baby will express their need, probably by making a loud noise. Given that babies cannot immediately use a cultural language, they use the language that was given to them by evolution: particularly audibly expressed noise of various types that an aware adult will quickly learn to interpret.

Of course, from the initial moments after birth and throughout the next few months, a baby will experience an increasing range of stimuli – including internal stimuli such as the needs for listening, understanding and love, as well as external stimuli ranging from a wet nappy to a diverse set of parental, social, climate and environmental stimuli – and will develop a diverse and expanding range of ways, now including a wider range of emotional expression but eventually starting to include spoken language, of expressing their responses, including satisfaction and enjoyment, if appropriate, to these stimuli.

At some vital point, however, and certainly within the child’s first eighteen months, the child’s parents and the other significant adults in the child’s life, will start to routinely and actively interfere with the child’s emotional expression (and thus deny them satisfaction of the unique needs being expressed in each case) in order to compel the child to do as the parent/adult wishes. Of course, this is essential if you want the child to be obedient – a socially compliant slave – rather than to follow their own Self-will.

One of the critically important ways in which this denial of emotional expression occurs seems benign enough: Children who are crying, angry or frightened are scared into not expressing their feelings and offered material items – such as food or a toy – to distract them instead. Unfortunately, the distractive items become addictive drugs. Unable to have their emotional needs met, the child learns to seek relief by acquiring the material substitutes offered by the parent. But as this emotional deprivation endlessly expands because the child has been denied the listening, understanding and love to develop the capacity to listen to, love and understand themself, so too does the ‘need’ for material acquisition endlessly expand.

As an aside, this explains why most violence is overtly directed at gaining control of material, rather than emotional, resources. The material resource becomes a dysfunctional and quite inadequate replacement for satisfaction of the emotional need. And, because the material resource cannot ‘work’ to meet an emotional need, the individual is most likely to keep using direct and/or structural violence to gain control of more material resources in an unconscious and utterly futile attempt to meet unidentified emotional needs. In essence, no amount of money and other assets can replace the love denied a child that would allow them to feel and act on their feelings.

Of course, the individual who consumes more than they need and uses direct violence, or simply takes advantage of structural violence, to do so is never aware of their deeply suppressed emotional needs and of the functional ways of having these needs met. Although, I admit, this is not easy to do given that listening, understanding and love are not readily available from others who have themselves been denied these needs. Consequently, with their emotional needs now unconsciously ‘hidden’ from the individual, they will endlessly project that the needs they want met are, in fact, material.

This is the reason why members of the Rothschild family, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, the Walton family and the Koch brothers, as well as the world’s other billionaires and millionaires, seek material wealth and are willing to do so by taking advantage of structures of exploitation held in place by the US military. They are certainly wealthy in the material sense; unfortunately, they are emotional voids who were never loved and do not know how to love themself or others now.

Tragically, however, this fate is not exclusive to the world’s wealthy even if they illustrate the point most graphically. As indicated above, virtually all people who live in material cultures have suffered this fate and this is readily illustrated by their ongoing excessive consumption – especially their meat-eating, fossil-fueled travel and acquisition of an endless stream of assets – in a planetary biosphere that has long been signaling ‘Enough!’

As an aside, governments that use military violence to gain control of material resources are simply governments composed of many individuals with this dysfunctionality, which is very common in industrialized countries that promote materialism. Thus, cultures that unconsciously allow and encourage this dysfunctional projection (that an emotional need is met by material acquisition) are the most violent both domestically and internationally. This also explains why industrialized (material) countries use military violence to maintain political and economic structures that allow ongoing exploitation of non-industrialized countries in Africa, Asia and Central/South America.

In summary, the individual who has all of their emotional needs met requires only the intellectual and few material resources necessary to maintain this fulfilling life: anything beyond this is not only useless, it is a burden.

If you want to read (a great deal) more detail of the explanation presented above, you will find it in Why Violence? and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

So what can we do?

Well, I would start by profoundly changing our conception of sound parenting by emphasizing the importance of nisteling to children – see Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’ – and making ‘My Promise to Children’.

For those adults who feel incapable of nisteling or living out such a promise, I encourage you to consider doing the emotional healing necessary by ‘Putting Feelings First’.

If you already feel capable of responding powerfully to this extinction-threatening conflict between human consumption and the Earth’s biosphere, you are welcome to consider joining those who are participating in the fifteen-year strategy to reduce consumption and achieve self-reliance explained in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ and/or to consider using sound nonviolent strategy to conduct your climate or environment campaign. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

You are also welcome to consider signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

As the material simplicity of Mohandas K. Gandhi demonstrated: Consumption is not life.

If you are not able to emulate Gandhi (at least ‘in spirit’) by living modestly, it is your own emotional dysfunctionality – particularly unconscious fear – that is the problem that needs to be addressed.

  1. Robert Hunziker, “There Is No Time Left“, Dissident Voice, February 19, 2018.
  2. Robert Hunziker. “Insect Decimination Upstages Global Warming“, Dissident Voice, March 27, 2018.