“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” — Oscar WildeIn the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, it is you who is contemptuous of religious freedom.As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the […]
Socialism is the big lie of the 20th century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may […]
Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a worldwide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
Last spring, Barack Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University:“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because […]
In the Huffington Post last week, Glenn Greenwald, Slate contributor Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim had an investigative piece reporting that the NSA had been tracking the online porn-viewing habits of several Muslim leaders whom it viewed as radicals. A top-secret document shows that the agency was considering exposing these firebrands’ Internet dalliances as a […]
Americans are still trying to get a handle on the full extent of the government’s domestic spying activities, including the recent revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting and storing the email address books of ordinary Americans using online messaging services. Many users of such services are looking to tech executives for […]
A few months ago at a demonstration against the president of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, a Canadian citizen made the following claim: “We don’t have guns, we are not Americans, we are civilized.” A few days before, in early July, a train of the company had run away and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing […]
From the Tongue-In-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced that her committee will hold a “major review into all intelligence-collection programs.” This surprising declaration followed the revelation, through documents leaked by government whistle-blower Edward Snowden, that the NSA has been listening to the […]
From the Tongue-in-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. – The complex negotiations aimed at bringing a long-term solution to the federal government’s expenditure and debt problem have produced an unconventional proposal. “Although the solution only focuses on a tiny fraction of government expenditures,” declared President Barack Obama, “it is a step in the right […]
I’ve just spent a harrowing weekend reflecting on Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the pamphlet that came out in January 1776 and turned the public toward seeking independence from Britain. I say harrowing because the distance between the ideals found in this pamphlet and those of today’s America is so vast as to be nearly unrecognizable.The […]
It was a wild ride last week in the world of the Deep Web, that section of the Internet that requires special tools to access. The feds took down the site called Silk Road and claim to have arrested its founder and administrator. The news streams were filled with lurid tales of derring-do in this […]
Want to know just how invasive the state is going to get in the United States?Well, take a look across the pond.In terms of the large, invasive state, we English are way ahead of you guys. We’re a good 50 or more years further down the road to serfdom.Nineteenth-century Britain was about as glorious a […]
A tense drama unfolded this week with the virtual shutdown of vital government agencies: the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as many other such federal agencies. Without them, the Founding Fathers could not have imagined the republic.Even if fewer […]
Three months after Edward Snowden’s leaks began to reveal the extent of the U.S.’ mass surveillance program, “serious people” are beginning to make the case that it’s time for the outrage and indignation to subside and give way to a “national conversation” about the future of surveillance. So has the moment come for us to […]
A sixth-grader has been suspended for drawing an inappropriate picture. The drawing did not include any gun, but showed a checkpoint backed up by a SWAT team carrying flower pots while an unarmed drone hovered above.The suspended girl, whose name is kept secret at the request of her family, said she “just wanted to draw […]
The second part of this two-part article reveals an untold part of the story about how they were stopped last time. And shows how, if not again stopped, how it could lead to a fundamental loss of civil rights and freedom on the Internet.The offending legislation was barreling down the track, seemingly — even in […]
Two years ago, Hollywood, no kidding, masterminded a plot to, in effect, steal the Internet (by criminalizing certain conduct, booby trapping the Web in ways that few non-mega-corporations could cope with). There are signs, as perceptively flagged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the perps are back at it. We should care.This two-part article reveals […]
It has now been nearly two centuries since French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville visited America and compared American democracy to the French variety. The Martian asked his Earth correspondent to redo the comparison.The typical Frenchman thinks that Paris is the center of the universe, life without a baguette is not worth living, France is […]
I was at the Canadian border, headed toward the freedom that exists a few feet beyond the last security check. I was gently waved down a side corridor.Ninety minutes later, I was let go, but not before something truly alarming happened. I’m pretty sure that the Canadian government captured a mirrored version of my smartphone […]
Fort Meade, MD – The United States, the least unfree country on Earth, is fighting a major invasion of the Blueshirts.The most visible Blueshirts constitute a 50,000-plus army that occupies all the airports in America. Recognizable by their blue shirts and their inquisitive eyes and hands, they search and humiliate all Americans trying to leave […]
Sometimes, the news of the day causes me to say, “Huh?” The New York Times revelations last month about NSA programs and activities to enhance the agency’s ability to spy on ordinary citizens prompts today’s “Huh?” Who knew that our every phone call, Internet post and tweet is being recorded by the government?I have operated […]
U.S. and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ […]
Oh, how the media love a good strike. Look at these fast-food workers and peasants standing up to the owners of capital! They aren’t going to take the oppression anymore. The suits in the boardrooms had better shape up and stop hoarding all that money. They need to give it up to the men and […]
Like all great historical ideas, the project of licensing journalists so that they may benefit from the First Amendment was born in a very modest place. In fact, it began in the most modest of all places: the brain of Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator from California.The new law, which was just adopted by Congress and […]
The position that there need be a state is too often taken for granted.The main body of Sartwell’s book Against the State is dedicated to destroying the arguments for a state from the likes of Hobbes, Rousseau and Hegel. In fact, one thing that becomes crystal clear in reading Sartwell’s book is how bad the […]
Crispin Sartwell is someone you should know. He is doing important work in recovering forgotten greats in America’s anti-authoritarian tradition. Among other works, he’s put forward a lean and powerful book titled Against the State.In what follows, you’ll see why he’s my favorite living philosopher. Sartwell will take you on an intellectual tour de force […]
There are some authors (I could count them on one hand) who have a transforming effect on the human mind.
My list of people who changed me fundamentally would include H.L. Mencken, Murray Rothbard, Ayn Rand, Noam Chomsky, and Arthur Schopenhauer.
After reading Totally Incorrect, this week’s e-book download in the Laissez Faire Club, I would add the name Doug Casey to the list.
The ebook releases on Friday in the Club, free to all members. You can claim your physical copy of the book by clicking here.
I can see why his book Crisis Investing became such a huge best-seller back in 1979. It’s not his ideas about investing that matter the most. It’s his completely contrarian way of looking at the world and his willingness to think out of the box. It’s his bravery and creativity that make him compelling. Very few writers achieve this in our time.
As you read such authors, the feeling is nearly physical. Their flaunting of civic convention creates delight and enlightenment, but also discomfort. You wonder as you read: Are people really allowed to think that? Will I get in trouble if I agree?
From time to time, you are outraged. This is good. It proves you are engaged. Our brains can take it. In fact, we need it.
Following such exposure to civic heresy, you realize that things look different to you. Even if you resist, the ideas were planted in your brain. They keep coming back as you read the news, watch events unfold, and process the barrage of information that slams our brains every day. The voice sticks. It rings in your ears. You are slowly convinced. In time, you realize something: This radical thinker is my benefactor. He changed me.
It is never enough to encounter such an author once in a lifetime. We need to revisit them every few years or even every few months. We need to do this for the same reason we have to plunge our sinks every once in awhile. Normal use of the brain introduces muddled thinking and conventional habits of mind that are contrary to truth and reality.
One way to think about such writers is by analogy to computer code. Every piece of software deals with the problem of old and useless code that makes it run more slowly and inefficiently than it should. Such code is called cruft. It builds up over time. The cruft has to be cleaned for the new code to do all it can do. It’s one of the challenges a programmer faces.
As with managing a kitchen, you have to clean while you cook.
In the world of ideas, cruft is the buildup that occurs in your brain just from being part of public culture. We hear only two sides on every political debate (gun control, foreign policy, taxation, government spending) and it does not automatically occur to us that the debate is artificially narrow. We put these conventional assumptions in our heads even without thinking about them. They build over time.
Casey is the one-man cleanup crew. You can agree or disagree with what he says. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that he shocks the brain out of its stupor and fires up new thoughts and new ways of looking at the world. I happen to think he is mostly right in the way he views the world. It’s the exposure alone that is valuable, even if you end up rejecting his ideas (or so you think, until you wake up one day agreeing with him).
Totally Incorrect is better than a book of prose. It is a book of interviews, topic by topic. This way, the reader is able to catch him in the most candid way possible. I know from my own conversations with him — just in passing at conferences — that he has a way of formulating things that is absolutely unforgettable. This entire book of 350 pages does exactly this on every important topic of our time.
In Doug’s book you’ll learn:
The best way to rob a bank..and you don’t need a gun;
Whether you should seek the quality over quantity of life;
What you can do with your money that is better than getting a $100,000 MBA;
What things are so critical that government should never be trusted with;
Whether it is evil or moral or avoid taxes;
Why pirates and smugglers are humanity’s benefactors;
Why war is great for governments but terrible for the rest of us;
Why the jails are filling up with good guys and the bad guys are running the country;
Why we were better off when fist fights would break out in Congress;
Why you should consider getting out of the country ASAP;
The best way to fight official corruption in government (hint: no officials, no corruption);
Why America has embraced the “deadly combination” of “Nordic efficiency and American neopuritanism.”
The book allows you to experience such thoughts in the context of a very civil conversation, so you can see how his mind works. It is brilliant, and it inspires brilliance. Someone like Casey comes along very rarely. He’s been called the only viable contender for Mencken’s legacy. I can see the point. But I would go further to say that he is a leading intellectual light in the anarchist tradition.
You can live a life in the cruft of old code or you can clean it up and start fresh, using Casey as the cleanup crew.