Friday, December 29, 2017


Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, by Alison Weir

I continue with this final installment in my review of this book.


Zionist cadres infiltrated displaced person’s camps that had been set up to house refugees displaced during WWII.  These infiltrators tried secretly to funnel people to Palestine.  When it turned out that most didn’t want to go to Palestine, they worked to convince them – sometimes by force.

This “force” took interesting forms: “confiscations of food rations, dismissal from work, expulsion from the camps, taking away legal protection and visa rights…”

The story of the ship that had later become known as Exodus is interesting.  In July 1947 it set sail with 4,500 survivors from German camps for Palestine; British officials in Palestine refused this illegal entry.  As documented by Baruch Kimmerling, an Israeli professor and author of nine books on the founding of Zionism:

While many people have heard that British authorities refused to allow their illegal immigration into Palestine and forced the boat to be returned to Germany, few know that the French government had agreed to host the refugees.

Baruch Kimmerling offers a reason for a slight detour:

Baruch Kimmerling (16 October 1939 – 20 May 2007) was an Israeli scholar and professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Upon his death in 2007, The Times described him as "the first academic to use scholarship to reexamine the founding tenets of Zionism and the Israeli State". Though a sociologist by training, Kimmerling was associated with the New Historians, a group of Israeli scholars who question the official narrative of Israel's creation.

And the “New Historians”:

The New Historians are a loosely defined group of Israeli historians who have challenged traditional versions of Israeli history, including Israel's role in the Palestinian Exodus in 1948 and Arab willingness to discuss peace.

Their scholarship is based on Israeli government papers made public thirty years after the founding.

Avi Shlaim described the New Historians' differences from what he termed the "official history" in the following terms. According to Shlaim:

·        The official version said that Britain tried to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state; the New Historians claimed that it tried to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state
·        The official version said that the Palestinians fled their homes of their own free will; the New Historians said that the refugees were chased out or expelled
·        The official version said that the balance of power was in favour of the Arabs; the New Historians said that Israel had the advantage both in manpower and in arms
·        The official version said that the Arabs had a coordinated plan to destroy Israel; the New Historians said that the Arabs were divided
·        The official version said that Arab intransigence prevented peace; the New Historians said that Israel is primarily to blame for the "dead end".

They take criticism from all sides: traditional Israeli historians who say that they fabricate Zionist misdeeds and Arab or Arab-friendly historians who say they whitewash Zionist crimes.  In other words, these guys might be on to something.

Returning to Weir: David Ben-Gurion wanted drama such as that of the passengers of Exodus – this would aid in gaining sympathy for the Zionist cause.  He rejected this solution offered by the French; the refugees spent seven months more on the ship.

For the coming war with the native Palestinians, forced conscription of incoming Jewish refugees (many of whom came involuntarily in the first place) was necessary as only 0.3% of this population voluntarily joined the military.  Consider: a non-nation-state forced compulsory military service on a population that had never even lived on the land for which they were required to fight!


Israel’s so-called “War of Independence” created 750,000 Palestinian refugees.  As a show of goodwill, if you can call it this, Israel donated 500 cases of oranges to the relief effort – this in exchange for property (stolen, confiscated, whatever) valued at the time at $480 million – or over $5 billion today.

Numerous convents, hospices, seminaries, and churches were either destroyed or emptied of their Christian owners.  Citing Anders Strindberg:

In one of the most spectacular attacks on a Christian target, on May 17, 1948, the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate was shelled with about 100 mortar rounds – launched by Zionist forces from the already occupied monastery of the Benedictine Fathers on Mount Zion.

Truman, whose caving in to Zionist pressure was instrumental in creating this disaster, now tried to convince Israel to allow the refugees to return.  Israel refused this request.  The State Department threatened to withhold $49 million of Export-Import Bank funds if Israel did not allow at least 200,000 refugees to return.  The Israeli Ambassador contacted the White House – and Truman disassociated himself from this request.


This ends my review of the book, but not my review of the subject.  I will follow-up shortly with a perspective on this history by looking through the lens of property rights, immigration and homesteading.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


All the same we take our chances
Laughed at by time
Tricked by circumstances
Plus ca change
Plus c'est la meme chose
The more that things change
The more they stay the same

-        Circumstances, Rush

The Libertarian Forum, edited by Murray N. Rothbard; February 15, 1970.

In this issue, Rothbard discusses “The Task Ahead”; what comes next for this growing libertarian movement, on what issues should we focus, with whom should we ally?

This forty-seven year old issue offers some good news and some bad news.  The good news: the movement (if defined as the existence of several generally libertarian organizations) has grown significantly since then.  The bad news: all of the same divisions amongst libertarians remain.

But if we are to concentrate on developing our own organization, then we must be able to deal with divisions among ourselves, for right now we encompass a very wide spectrum from “extreme right” to “extreme left.”

It strikes me that the libertarian movement – given that the non-aggression principle offers what it is against, but inherently cannot offer what it is for – is no different than any other revolutionary movement.  Revolutionary movements always find a wide spectrum within the ranks.

Both extreme groups should prepare themselves to settle down, calmly and soberly but with cool and passionate dedication to a thoughtful and protracted lifelong struggle for liberty and against the State.

On the extreme right, Rothbard identifies that this would require abandoning any devotion to the American State, the Constitution, American foreign policy, the military and police; on the extreme left this would require abandoning any capricious urge for immediate action against the state and the tendency to abandon free-market principles.

These were (and are) all appropriate avenues for libertarian theory to be further developed; yet, in hindsight, perhaps this was (and is) too much to ask as a political agenda.  And Rothbard does not shy away from politics:

…if, for example, we were faced with a choice of Richard Cobden or Genghis Khan for president, we would surely plunge into the Cobdenite movement with abandon….

I think it cannot be denied that Ron Paul offered a focal point for energy for a generally libertarian movement; I think it also cannot be denied that since he left office this energy has dissipated.

The More Things Stay the Same…

There is nothing to bind libertarians other than adherence (in varying, and sometimes greatly varying, degrees) to the non-aggression principle.  This leaves a wide berth for a libertarian to travel.  Yet, getting significant numbers behind a wide berth is, perhaps, a bridge too far.

Reading Rothbard’s words from almost five-decades ago suggests that this wide berth is both the reason for the movement’s growth and the reason for its divisions.

Regular readers know I could never make common cause with those who advocate something approaching the full gamut of libertarian possibilities – Walter Block’s Defending the Undefendable provides a menu for a community within which I would never want to live, albeit all allowable under the NAP.

Defending the Defendable

I will offer a menu that I could embrace; a simple menu that will at the same time allow each individual the possibility of finding a cultural and political home.  It is a menu that a) has support from a wide array of individuals around the world – libertarian and non-libertarian alike, and b) offers libertarians the possibility to find a home to engage in whatever undefendable practices they like:

The menu:

o   Anti-war / anti-empire
o   Political decentralization

That’s it; two things.  Something approaching these would be enough for me.  I am not suggesting that this list represents a complete libertarian platform; I am merely offering a core – one that, heaven help me, should not be objectionable to any libertarian.

Let’s examine each of these:

Anti-war / anti-empire: in these, every violation of the NAP can be found and certainly the most egregious of violations.

Political decentralization: just because something is defendable in libertarian theory doesn’t mean that every libertarian (and equally so, non-libertarian) would like to defend it.  The extreme left and the extreme right each have a better possibility to find a home.

Political decentralization (secession into ever-smaller political units) allows for ever-greater choice – and libertarianism in theory is decentralization in practice.


Two simple things; it doesn’t get much thinner than this, and the thinner the requirements the more people (including non-libertarians) that will fit under the tent.  This should be sufficient for libertarians of all stripes to gather around.

Then again, could an individual who rejects one or both of these be considered a libertarian?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


The Great Heresies, by Hilaire Belloc

In this book, Belloc reviews five different heresies.  As I have noted in the past on this general topic, my interest (at this blog) is not theological; it is in what such things mean for culture, tradition and governance.

Belloc reviews the following heresies, dedicating one chapter to each: Arian, Mohammed, Albigensian, the Reformation, the modern age.  I don’t know how much time I will spend on the details of each, although given my interests I suspect the chapter on the Reformation will be of particular interest.

In this post I will review his introduction – there is much that is meaningful both regarding definition and in regard to a uniting tradition.  Belloc defines what he means specifically by the term “heresy”:

Heresy is the dislocation of some complete and self-supporting scheme by the introduction of a novel denial of some essential part therein.

Belloc applies this to subjects as varied as physics, mathematics and philosophy.  In physics, you cannot just remove the idea of matter relative to gravity; in geometry, you cannot only remove the concept that the interior angles of a triangle equal two right angles.  In other words, you can’t change just one thing and expect the remainder to function as it was.

It is not heresy to deny a subject wholesale.  The heresy is when most of the important components are left untouched, thereby appealing to believers as something not meaningfully different from that being attacked.

Wherefore, it is said of heresies that “they survive by the truths that retain.”

How does this relate to my interests?

…the subject of heresy in general is of the highest importance to the individual and to society, and heresy in its particular meaning (which is that of heresy in Christian doctrine) is of special interest for anyone who would understand Europe: the character of Europe and the story of Europe.

I’m sold.

Why do men combat heresies?  Is it simply a matter of conservatism, a “devotion to routine,” or a disturbance in their habits of thought?  No, it is something much more:

…it is much more a perception that the heresy, insofar as it gains ground, will produce a way of living and a social character at issue with, irritating, and perhaps mortal to, the way of living and the social character produced by the old orthodox scheme.

Is it merely conservatism (and if it is, is this inherently “bad”)?  What happens to governance when the way of living is delivered a mortal blow?  Is it likely that government by force will decrease?  I think the answer to this is obvious.

Take, for example, the idea of an immortal soul.  What happens if it is generally accepted that this just isn’t so?

If they except, that is cut out, this one doctrine, they may continue to hold all the others, but the scheme is changed, the type of life and character and the rest become other.

One can accept the Virgin Birth, that Jesus is both the Son of God and God, that bread and wine are transformed in a particular manner; but if he removes this one plank – the idea of an immortal soul – he will be quite a different man than the man who accepts this plank.

Those considered noble during much of the Middle Ages worked to maintain this noble standing in front of their peers, superiors and subordinates.  Can one say the same of the “nobles” of today?  The ones held out as “noble” are often the most vulgar, most corrupt, most abusive.

Let me try it this way:

Far in the distant future
Beyond the pages of our time
Cold-blooded wicked tyrants
Threaten the freedom of mankind
Corruption, lust, and greed
Define the new nobility
Changing the course of history

-        Dream Theater, The Gift of Music

Would a man who believed in the immortality of his soul act this way?

Such a heresy does not merely affect the individual who accepts it; it affects all of society if generally accepted.

That is why anyone who wants to understand how Europe came to be, and how its changes have been caused, cannot afford to treat heresy as unimportant.

It is of secondary importance (for the purposes of this post) if the doctrine is true; what is important is that it is believed and that this belief shapes behavior.

Must man believe such things, holding certain beliefs in common; why not just dump the idea of a common creed?

In deed there is no denying it.  It is mere fact.  Human society cannot carry on without some creed, because a code and a character are a product of a creed.

Sheltered individuals can carry on without such a unifying creed; for an organized society, it cannot be so.  The idea of the non-aggression principle – negative liberty – being all that is necessary to hold a society together in relative peace is not only insufficient, it has no precedent.

Heresy, then, is not just a fossil subject.  It is a subject of permanent and vital interest to mankind because it is bound up with the subject of religion, without some form of which no human society ever has endured.

You can’t replace something with nothing.  Absent traditional religion, we are offered the religions of patriotism and equality.  With one, we are convinced toward constant war and worship of political leaders, with the other we accept socialism.

The European culture was made by religion, specifically the Christian religion and specifically that which was shepherded by the Catholic Church.  Belloc intends to examine this.


As mentioned, Belloc’s last chapter is on the heresy of the modern age; this age has no common name as of yet (this book was published in 1938).  Perhaps a name will come…

…but not until the conflict between that modern anti-Christian spirit and the permanent tradition of the Faith becomes acute through persecution and the triumph or defeat thereof.  It will then perhaps be called anti-Christ.

Or it will be called socialism and progressivism.