The Emergence of the Alt-Right and The Rise of Trumpism

Somebody said that the Alt-Right isn't really gaining popularity as much as it seems. Instead, they insisted that people like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson are becoming more popular. To be clear, Shapiro and Peterson are Alt-Right. They're part of the same phenomena that gave us Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon. They aren't explicitly white supremacist like Matthew Heimbach and Christopher Cantwell, but they do give a nuanced and sophisticated critique of anti-racist, feminist, and anti-fascist ideas.

The right-wing in America had three factions historically. There were the classical liberals, libertarians, and traditional conservatives. The classical liberals and libertarians were substantially different, but similar enough that they are often lumped together. They were the advocates of free-market capitalism. On the other hand, traditional conservatism was rooted in Christianity and saw God as the basis for morality. Social ethics and politics were to be rooted in Christian values.

The Future of Europe: Brexit, the EU, and More

After some decades of incremental progress following the end of the Cold War, there is doubt over the future of Europe, illustrated most dramatically by the rise of ethnocentric political parties in a number of European nation-states, and the "Brexit" referendum of 2016. To understand this current situation and examination of the context of Europe is necessary, and how European unity has threatened traditional superpowers in such a way that it is in their interest to weaken this unity. For those whose political allegiance is towards individual liberties and social democracy, the fate of Europe is critical, as this is the region which has shown greatest commitment to these ideals.

Eurocentrism

Some Eurocentrism is justified, as the European peninsula of the Eurasian continental plate is central to modern world history, that is c1500 onwards. Prior to that traditional civilisations such as that of the Chinese or Arabic societies were well in advance of Europe. However, after this point, there were dramatic changes in Europe that continue to influence us today.

Free Trade vs. Laissez-Faire: Markets and Republicanism

I am not a proponent of laissez-faire, but I do advocate free trade. Effective and beneficial market systems require a certain amount of government intervention. I believe, like F. A. Hayek and Hernando de Soto Polar, that government intervention should be non-arbitrary and designed to create rules and order that allow for rational economic planning. Markets only work if there is a system of law governing property and contracts and a system of courts, judges, or tribunals for arbitration and dispute resolution. De Soto has made the observation that “property rights is the precursor to addresses.” Enforcement of contracts is very difficult, if not impossible, without addresses. If you want to file a civil suit against someone that ripped you off, how are they going to summon the other party to court without an address to deliver the summons to? And how would you send the police after someone that robbed you without an address? So, government creates this framework for property and addresses that makes law-enforcement and adjudication possible. Furthermore, government creates the legal framework that allows corporations to issue shares, which allows businesses to get money to do what they do. All of these things that are basically necessary components of market systems are products of government. For markets to work efficiently, government must intervene but it must not intervene arbitrarily—that is, government intervention must follow predetermined rules that allow individuals to plan accordingly. The government must not have the authority to arbitrarily interfere in economic affairs.

Social Democracy As An American Ideal

Many people refer to social democracy as "socialism," so that is probably where I should start. It is, for the most part, inaccurate (or meaningless) to call social democracy "socialism." In the modern context, the term is either just a slur devoid of substance or virtue signaling. Social democrats that call themselves socialists do so because it makes them sound more radical than they really are, which makes them feel cool, whereas people on the right use the term because it is a term of derision in their estimation. In either case, the term is devoid of any substantial meaning. Back in the day, social democracy was regarded as "socialism," because socialism just meant any critique of, or alternative to, the status quo in industrialized society. When Eduard Bernstein—the father of modern social democracy—was writing, his ideas were considered socialistic. At the time, the term "socialism" was so broad that advocating laissez-faire was considered socialism. Libertarian socialists like Benjamin Tucker and Ricardian socialists like Thomas Hodgskin actually advocated free-markets as the alternative to capitalism. You see, "capitalism" just meant actually existing economic arrangements in industrial societies, while "socialism" just designated anything other than that. Referring to social democracy as socialism harks back to a time when laissez-faire was also considered socialistic. Historically, it was correct to say that social democracy is "democratic socialism," but it is basically inaccurate to refer to social democracy as "socialism" today, even though some social democrats like Bernie Sanders do so. To refer to modern social democracy as "socialism" is anachronistic. "Socialism" isn't quite an accurate description of social democracy in our modern age. Language evolves over time and the definitions of terms change with it.

The Progressive Implication of Republican Liberty


Republican Liberty

Following the civic republican conception of liberty, I define freedom as the absence of domination. According to this classical republican conception, a man is free to the extent that no one has the ability to arbitrarily intervene in his choices. This contrasts with the liberal conception of liberty. The liberal conception defines liberty as the absence of interference. A man is free to the extent that no one does interfere. The absurdity of the liberal conception is that you can, according to their definition, have a free slave or a libertarian totalitarian monarch. If a slave has a benevolent master that simply never makes him do anything he does not want to do, then he is actually totally free upon liberal assumptions. If a king has absolute rule but chooses not to exercise it, and lets his subjects do whatever they like without restriction, then the liberal conception sees the king's subjects as totally free men.

The American founding fathers rejected liberalism in favor of republicanism. They rebelled against the king of England, but not because he was a particularly harsh ruler. In fact, according to liberal standards, American citizens were actually much freer before the revolution than they were after it. But the founding fathers did not see it that way. According to them, their relation to the kind of England was that of a slave to a master. They saw themselves as unfree because they lacked representation. If there are others who can impose arbitrary rules upon you without your consent, then you are unfree, even if they never actually choose to impose any such rules.

Contra the Austrian School on Deflation


Following the recession in 2008, Mark Thornton of the Austrian School of economics coined the term apoplithorismosphobia to refer to the “fear of deflation” prevalent among economists. He then proceeds with a half-assed, one-sided economic analysis to justify the laissez-faire approach of the Austrian School. Thornton points out that low interest rates and easy credit encouraged malinvestments during the boom and that deflation is part of the market correction process. Furthermore, he suggests that the average consumer ought to be delighted to see lower prices. He says,

“As malinvestments from the bubble are liquidated, the economy begins the correction process. The value of the malinvestments plummets. The values of loans backing these investments falls, and the money supply contracts as banks reduce lending. The price of capital and labor falls, and entrepreneurs discover new profit opportunities to redeploy the capital and labor that had been misdirected by the Federal Reserve's boom or bubble. As the price of goods falls, potential consumers become actual buyers.” (Mark Thornton, Bernanke's Apoplithorismosphobia)

Behind Every Statistic is a Human Story Part 2

Edited by Joanne Roberts

The waiting moments seemed very long and they began at sunset and despite the large numbers of people the dialogue among us was almost non existent. Each one of us tried to lose the stress and the panic that will be coming as soon as we get on the boat.

Everyone of us trying to calm themselves through silence. The best trick for any person to avoid psychological pressure and tension was silence. None of us used our cell phones. The battery of the phone was worth too much this trip to waste. Most of them extinguished their cell phones immediately. The arrival of the bus was hours later than the time we were told and after arriving it was barely enough for us all to fit. A bus custom made for 20 people would contain double that. It was better to go at night to the crossing points to avoid police and problems.

The bus was overcrowded, this caused nausea to everyone. The passage of time seemed to double. It felt as if the road was endless. After about 4 hours or more the lights on the Greek islands began to appear in the horizon. Everyone on the bus sighed with relief.

To avoid complications and in the style of one of the action films the bus suddenly left the highway we were travelling on and recklessly left the road entering among the scattered bushes away from the street. I did not understand whether it was the rudeness of the driver or had he sped up because of the police? Everyone had been jostled by his recklessness and my glasses fell off my face. We entered an agricultural road full of bumps and holes. It was a short while until we came to a stop.

Les evenements de mai 68

Inspiration and Context

Les evenements de mai 68 are now fifty years old. Yet their profound and revolutionary effect on French society and radicals in advanced capitalist nations are still being felt, and of course, with the 50th anniversary in 2018, there is a small flurry of reminiscent articles even in the mainstream media. True, much of l'esprit de '68is is built around a sense of utopian, creative, and imaginative euphoria, with the science fiction novel by Lisa Goldstein, The Dream Years, an illustrative example. On the other hand there was particularly earthy and challenging cinema from the new wave greats in cinema; Jean-Luc Goddard's ironically titled Tout Va Bien and Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers. As much as these artistic endeavour both inspire and challenge however, it is primarily from documentation at the time that the most functional lessons can be learned; in particular, the French-language Journal de la commune étudiante and the English translations in Writing on the Wall.

Situations have a context, and the situation in France in 1968 was at a breaking point. The rule of de Gaulle as president and Pompidou as prime minister had reached a point of near-parody in grandiosity (de Gaulle) and ennui (Pompidou). In the immediate post-war environment, there had been radical hopes which were soon sidelined and the Fourth Republic had come to a sudden and eventful collapse as nationalists in the army rebelled against the government's policy of a negotiated settlement in Algeria and threatened a coup against the government. Whilst the economic policy of dirigisme had assisted in the post-war recovery, and de Gaulle's nationalism ensured France as an independent world power, especially after developing it's own nuclear capability. Demographic changes had led to a significant increase in the student population of France in an environment that still expected social conservatism. The traditional French countryside had been abandoned in favour of the expansion of modern industry, yet the economic security of the French working class was dubious at best, despite what would be called Trente Glorieuses by Jean Fourastié. Whilst this had some reflection in political results (the "presidential" parties only had a one-seat majority in the 1967 elections) the next legislative elections were some time away.

Behind Every Statistic is a Human Story


Edited by Joanne Roberts

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the year 2016 witnessed the largest number of victims of drowning among migrants crossing the Medtiterranean Sea with the number of missing and dead estimated to be five thousand people.

Although the year 2016 was the deadliest in terms of statistics it was the year in which I decided to cross the sea to Europe. I had often heard from my friends who left Turkey before me about the panic of the sea and the fear they experienced during the crossing. Many migrants who had preceded me were forced to go through the adventure of the rubber boats and had to deal with the human traffickers who had spread in Turkey and become like stock brokers. Gambling here is not only about money but also with lives.

Human trafficking in Turkey is the only bridge for the refugee to save them from humiliation and homelessness. It is the only hope to their dreams of a decent living in Europe.

Breaking the Silence from Opposition held Territory


Exclusive with Om Amran from Syria

Interview and Editing by Joanne Roberts

Following the recent chemical attacks in Douma there are many voices that are being heard. This reminds me of the beginning of the revolution back in 2011. There was mass coverage of the Arab Spring all over the Middle East. The difference with Syria was the narrative. From the very beginning Assad tried to paint a picture of him and his regime versus terrorists. These people were never called protesters. They were branded dissidents, traitors
and terrorists from the beginning. The voices that were never heard in this revolution was that of the revolutionaries themselves.

As quickly as they became loud and proud they were detained, tortured, disappeared and killed. What remains now is a population who know that if they speak up they are at risk of losing their life or putting those they love at risk of harm. It is for this reason people like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett are so dangerous. The two of them never speak up for those in opposition held territories and never give them a voice. They are happy to be puppets for the Assad regime. According to these women these voices do not matter. To me they are the most important.

We will speak with Om Amran from Opposition Held territory and see if we can spread the truth. So many people have been silenced in this conflict and for those brave enough to speak out we should give them a chance to fight back. As the saying goes "The pen is mightier than the sword".

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