One of the Best Libertarian Sites Closes Down
We are always pressed for time. As those who occasionally send us mail know, we even have frequently trouble keeping up with our mail – so much so that we might as well revert to snail mail. As a result, we have to carefully select what we read. In recent months, the 'Daily Bell' has made it to our list of 'must read' sites, so we are quite sad to learn that it will cease to publish new material as of July 16 (see the announcement of editor-in-chief Anthony Wile here).
Running a site like the Daily Bell is time consuming, and presumably has become a full time job, so we can understand Mr. Wile's decision. Still, it is a shame. Luckily though, at least the site's archive will remain online as an educational resource.
The Daily Bell's Focus: Dominant Social Themes
The Daily Bell has always discussed a very specific angle of current affairs, which no other site has to our knowledge stressed to the same extent. First of all, it has argued that history is not a concatenation of random events, but rather that it is 'directed history'. This is to say, both the actual events and their interpretation is directed by the 'powers-that-be', which control the most important levers of the economy via institutions such as central banking. In order to pursue its goals, the elite promotes memes, or what the Daily Bell also called 'dominant social themes'. Examples for this are the 'scarcity meme' (the idea that we are running out of resources due to overpopulation), or the 'anthropogenic climate change' theory (the idea that human activity leads to a catastrophic warming of the planet) or the myth of 'market failure' (the idea that economic depressions are a result of the free market's imperfections and that central economic planning is therefore required). All of these promotions have ultimately the same goal: to increase authoritarian control over the economy and other spheres of life and chip away at individual liberty, bit by bit.
Secondly, the Daily Bell has argued that in terms of its importance to society at large, the internet can be compared to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg. It has set a quiet revolution in motion, as the elite's control over the 'message' has begun to slip. Just as Gutenberg's printing press made the spread of revolutionary ideas to a broad public possible, so the internet has enabled the spread of ideas outside of elite and mainstream media control. Over time, something akin to a second enlightenment may result (in spite of the fact that the internet is also home to a lot of disinformation and outright crankery).
An early printing press, anno 1568
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
One cannot help but agree with this assessment. For instance, the inherently anti-authoritarian and anti-statist economic philosophy of the Austrian School has been successfully suppressed by the elites for decades. Briefly it seemed that this suppression may be waning when F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize in Economics in the mid 70s, but when considering the material philosophical differences between Hayek and his teacher Ludwig von Mises, it becomes clear that this was just another way of 'keeping control of the message' at a time when Keynesianism (the favorite economic philosophy of the ruling elites) was decisively challenged by the phenomenon of 'stagflation' in the 1970s.
As Hans-Hermann Hoppe points out, many of Hayek's political positions would be quite acceptable to the average social democrat of today, who can routinely employ Hayek's arguments as a club in debates (along the lines of “But even Hayek concedes that….”). It is far more difficult to reconcile the philosophy of statism with the recalcitrant Mises, never mind Murray Rothbard, who went a decisive step further by going beyond Mises' merely utilitarian position in favor of the free market by creating an edifice of libertarian ethics grounded in the logic of praxeology. The internet has fully restored people's access to the ideas of Austrian economics. Every important text by Austrian economists has been made available for free by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. No other economic school has seen similarly explosive growth in recent years.
Ideas are important, and one of the most effective ways of emasculating truth and replacing it by a philosophy more to the liking of those in power is to suppress knowledge about it. The internet has made the job of suppression a lot more difficult. For instance, the promotion of central banking and the alleged necessity of central economic planning eats up far more resources these days than it once used to, because it is challenged so effectively by a plethora of critics whose voices can no longer be suppressed. A critic of central banking and fiat money (which are easily among the greatest evils of our time) is no longer dependent on print media or television 'allowing' him to speak up. Nor must he suffer the 'toning down' of his message demanded by the censors the mainstream media employ (mainstream media are today routinely self-censoring in order to retain 'access' to the ruling elite). Instead, he can simply blog about it.
The Future of the Current System
As our readers know, we also discuss quite often what the Daily Bell refers to as 'dominant social themes'. It is a tradition we are planning to uphold. As we often point out, the idea that 'we' are the State is just another promotion. Resistance against exploitation by the ruling class has been weakened in modern-day regulatory democracies inter alia because they have made it possible for anyone to 'join the club' of the ruling caste. One can e.g. join a political party, adopt the habit of lying on its behalf, as well as the habit the Germans refer to as 'nach oben kriechen, nach unten treten' (basically, crawl up the behinds of superiors and kick those below you) and one may then enjoy a career in the ruling caste, living from the expropriation of wealth producers. One can also become part of the ruling elite's 'intellectual bodyguard', by becoming a taxpayer-funded 'expert' or 'advisor' on economic and social engineering matters. Given the sheer size of Leviathan, there are nigh endless possibilities for throwing one's principles overboard and joining the looters.
And yet, as we also often mention, it seems as though we are about to reach the limits of this process. Ludwig von Mises stated in the early 1920s already that the communist experiment would fail, as no economic calculation is possible under socialism. It took seven decades for his contention to be proved to all beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt, when the communist system collapsed in the early 1990s and Western observers finally had the opportunity to marvel at the true extent and thoroughness of its bankruptcy (East Germany was e.g. always upheld as the COMECON's 'model student', the economically most efficient of the socialist countries. When Western investors finally had the chance to look more closely at the state-owned enterprises operating in the GDR, they were shocked at what they found). The only reason why the system survived for as long as it did was that its managers were able to observe prices in the capitalist countries and could thus imitate the price system to some extent. If socialism has been introduced on a global scale, it would have collapsed much more quickly.
Under global socialism, the division of labor would have quickly collapsed, and people would have been thrown back into a primitive hand-to-mouth existence.
(Image source unknown – The Web)
Mises also stated that the so-called 'mixed economy' will eventually fail. He always insisted that there are only two ways: either the market economy, or socialism. In 'The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality' he wrote:
“Capitalism and socialism are two distinct patterns of social organization. Private control of the means of production and public control are contradictory notions and not merely contrary notions. There is no such thing as a mixed economy, a system that would stand midway between capitalism and socialism.”
One may feel compelled to say: “But that is not true; obviously, there is such a system midway between capitalism and socialism. It exists, we are living in it.” However, this 'argument from existence' really proves nothing. It is akin to the argument of last resort the supporters of socialism forwarded when they realized they could not refute Mises' theorem of the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism: “See here”, they would say, “there is the COMECON. It exists, therefore socialism must be workable.”
In fact, the mixed economy is very similar in the sense that it consists so to speak of socialist islands in a capitalist sea. There is after all a hampered market economy, which generates the wealth as well as the price system that allows the socialist portion to eke out its existence. The problem is that there is a tendency for the socialist portion to grow ever bigger; today we have nations like France, in which government spending represents 57% of GDP. This is a case of a parasite slowly but surely killing its host.
As everybody knows, the so-called 'unfunded liabilities' (or 'promises that will definitely be broken') of Western governments have attained a size that makes it mathematically impossible for them to ever be paid, except in the form of massively devalued currency (but a default remains a default, regardless of the form it takes). In short, the fact that the 'mixed system' has existed for a while and may muddle through for a good while longer tells us nothing about its workability in principle. If it cannot be sustained, then ipso facto, it has not worked.
The sovereign debt crisis in Europe has provided us with a first glimpse of the eventual demise of the 'mixed' economy. It can be 'papered over' for a while with the help of money printing by central banks, as demonstrated in the US and UK and by the market reaction to the ECB's 'OMT' promise, but that will likely only make the eventual denouement worse than it would have been otherwise (unless we have missed something and central bankers have discovered how the Keynesian dream of turning stones into bread can be achieved). In short, the current system is closing in on its limits. We doubt that France can remain a prosperous society if government spending remains at its current size relative to total economic output. Similar considerations apply to the rest of the EU.
So we must expect that there will be considerable economic and social upheaval, a great deal more than has already been seen. What replaces the current system will very much depend on which ideas take root in the population. The Daily Bell was quite correct in stressing the importance of the internet in this context. There is a chance that we may deviate from the course that many regard as inevitable in light of historical experience (namely that economic upheaval invariably leads to tyranny).
Perhaps a critical mass of people will decide to follow a different course this time around: toward more rather than less liberty. Stay tuned.
When parasites become too greedy, the host dies …
(Photo via jopjapenga.nl)
Daily Bell, R.I.P. – you will be missed.
It is that time of the year again – our semi-annual funding drive begins today. Give us a little hand in offsetting the costs of running this blog, as advertising revenue alone is insufficient. You can help us reach our modest funding goal by donating either via paypal or bitcoin. Those of you who have made a ton of money based on some of the things we have said in these pages (we actually made a few good calls lately!), please feel free to up your donations accordingly (we are sorry if you have followed one of our bad calls. This is of course your own fault). Other than that, we can only repeat that donations to this site are apt to secure many benefits. These range from sound sleep, to children including you in their songs, to the potential of obtaining privileges in the afterlife (the latter cannot be guaranteed, but it seems highly likely). As always, we are greatly honored by your readership and hope that our special mixture of entertainment and education is adding a little value to your life!
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
2 Responses to “Daily Bell, R.I.P.”
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Ganging Up on Gold
So Far a Normal Correction In last week's update on the gold sector, we mentioned that there was a lot of negative sentiment detectable on an anecdotal basis. From a positioning perspective only the commitments of traders still appeared a bit stretched though, while from a technical perspective we felt that a pullback to the 200-day moving average in both gold and gold stocks shouldn't be regarded as anything but a normal - and in this case actually long overdue -...
- Gold Sector Correction – Where Do Things Stand?
Sentiment and Positioning When we last discussed the gold sector correction (which had only just begun at the time), we mentioned we would update sentiment and positioning data on occasion. For a while, not much changed in these indicators, but as one would expect, last week's sharp sell-off did in fact move the needle a bit. Gold - just as nice to look at as it always is, but slightly cheaper since last week. Photo via The Times Of India The commitments of...
- Australian property bubble on a scale like no other
Australian property bubble on a scale like no other Yesterday Citi produced a new index which pinned the Australian property bubble at 16 year highs: Bubble trouble. Whether we label them bubbles, the Australian economy has experienced a series of developments that potentially could have the economy lurching from boom to bust and back. In recent years these have included: the record run up in commodity prices and subsequent correction; the associated...
- Prepare for the Unthinkable
Red Ink Growth and profits mask a variety of problems. They hide business inefficiencies and the money suck of corporate adminis-trivia. They also conceal unproductive staff. The final career leap But most of all growth and profits obscure the extreme value subtracting forces of bloated management teams. During good times it is unclear what these smug fellows do. During bad times it is lucidly clear that most of them ain’t worth a darn. When the...
- A Looming Banking Crisis – Is a Perfect Storm About to Hit?
Andy Duncan Interviews Claudio Grass Andy Duncan of FinLingo.com has interviewed our friend Claudio Grass, managing director of Global Gold in Switzerland. Below is a transcript excerpting the main parts of the first section of the interview on the problems in the European banking system and what measures might be taken if push were to come to shove. Andy Duncan of FinLingo.com (left) and Claudio Grass of Global Gold (right) Andy Duncan: How do you see the...
- Pope Francis: Traitor to Western Civilization
Disqualified There has been no greater advocate of mass Muslim migration into Europe than the purported head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis. At a recent conference, he urged that “asylum seekers” be accepted, “through the acts of mercy that promote their integration into the European context and beyond.”* Before we let Antonius continue with his refreshingly politically incorrect disquisition, we want to remind readers of two previous articles that have...
- US Stock Market - a Spanking May be on its Way
Iffy Looking Charts The stock market has held up quite well this year in the face of numerous developments that are usually regarded as negative (from declining earnings, to the Brexit, to a US presidential election that leaves a lot to be desired, to put it mildly). Of course, the market is never driven by the news – it is exactly the other way around. It is the market that actually writes the news. It may finally be time for a spanking though. Time for some old-fashioned...
- Doomed to Failure
Larded Up and Larded Over We’ve been waiting for the U.S. economy to reach escape velocity for the last six years. What we mean is we’ve been waiting for the economy to finally become self-stimulating and no longer require monetary or fiscal stimulus to keep it from stalling out. Unfortunately, this may not be possible the way things are going. As Milton Jones once revealed: “A month before he died, my grandfather covered his back in lard. After that, he went...
- Meet Your New Stimulus Allocation Czar
March Towards Midnight The march towards midnight is both stirring and foreboding. Like a death row inmate sitting down to savor his last meal, a grim excitement greets the reality of impending doom. Thoughts of imminent mortality haunt each bite. Tic-toc, tic-toc... As far as the economy’s concerned, there’s no stopping its march towards midnight. The witching hour’s rapidly approaching. We intend to savor each moment and make the best of...
- Are the Deep State’s Drones Coming for You?
What’s Aleppo? Look out kid Don’t matter what you did Walk on your tip toes Don’t try "No Doz" Better stay away from those That carry around a fire hose Keep a clean nose Watch the plain clothes You don’t need a weather man To know which way the wind blows – “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” Bob Dylan The entrance to Baghdad's “Green Zone”. Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP DELRAY BEACH, Florida – Biggest foreign policy blunder...
- Interview with Doug Casey
Natalie Vein of BFI speaks with Doug Casey Our friend Natalie Vein recently had the opportunity to conduct an extensive interview with Doug Casey for BFI, the parent company of Global Gold. Based on his decades-long experience in investing and his many travels, he shares his views on the state of the world economy, his outlook on critical political developments in the US and in Europe, as well as his investment insights and his approach to gold, as part of a viable strategy for...
- The Bamboozled Middle Class
Gassy and Bloated BALTIMORE – What a great time for an observer with a sense of mischief! This year’s presidential campaign is the most absurd and remarkable we have ever witnessed. After more than two centuries, Americans are finally getting the democracy they deserve – one that is grotesque... slimy... and immensely entertaining, albeit in the mud-wrasslin’ genre. The mud-wrestlers – well, we did promise you in these pages it would be entertaining like never...