Saturday, December 17, 2016

Testimonials and pictures of the fall of Aleppo

Just collecting information from various places for reference and trying to transcribe things for people who are better at reading than listening. (And preserving it I suppose in case twitter decides to start taking things down.) Note well: Some people have been accusing twitter activists of being a propagandists and others seem to think many of their facts match up. (Questions: are the two mutually exclusive? How much does it even matter? Shouldn't all witnesses be heard?) Managed to find some brief interviews conducted by Russian journalists as well. These quotes are presented for the reader's own judgement.

Work in progress.
  • "To everyone who can hear me, we are here exposed to a genocide in the besieged city of Aleppo. This may be my last video. More than 50,000s of civilians who rebelled against the dictator Al-Assad are threatened with field executions or dying under bombing. According to activists, more than 180 people have been field executed in the area that the regime have [recently?] to control by other gangs and the militias that support them. The civilians are stuck in a very small area that doesn't exceed two square kilometers. With no safezone, no life. Every bomb is a new massacre. Save Aleppo. Save humanity." -- Lina Shamy on December 12. On December 14, "Criminal Assad regime and the Iranians have broken the ceasefire and they were back to attack the civilians and continue the genocide. Civilians are stuck again in the city. Uh, no one could have leaved the city under this agreement. How can you trust Russia after they have promised that this agreement will [inaudible] and that no one will attack the civilians. How can you trust Russia? The revolutionaries will, uh, fight, 'til the last breath, uh, protecting the civilians here in the city and, uh, they will continue fighting as long as regime and Iranian will keep attacking us." Earlier December 14, "On behalf on myself and those who are still besieged in Aleppo city, I want to thank those who are still protesting in front of the Russian embassies and consulates all over the world. Understand that your stand with us gives us strength and renew our belief in our collective humanity. Please do not stop. Do not stop to post, to tweet, to speak, to shout. Now, after Iranian militias have revoked the cease fire we need you more. You already did a great job by moving the negotiations into a positive level. We need you now to the streets now, do not surrender, do not stop until the last person is evacuated to safety from the city. God's bless you all." On December 19, "These are our last moments in this tired city, in this exhausted city. We are leaving with a huge grief because we have lived in this city our best moments owning our freedom and dignity. We may not come back unless we liberate this land again. This is not the end of the journey. We will keep calling for the rights of the Syrians to live in freedom, dignity, and justice. And victory to the great Syrian revolution."
  • "They're all dead. We were just walking, and the terrorists started to shoot at us. We started running until we got to a checkpoint, and they caught us there. They beat my parents and told me to go. [Did you see them kill your parents?] Yes. I was walking away, there were a lot of bodies, and then the snipers started to shoot at me. I ran behind a wall and got to a place where there were no snipers. Then I met a man who took me to Aleppo." -- a boy from Aleppo, translation from RT subtitles
  • "Sorry for [inaudible] it's cut off. What I want to say is don't believe any more in United Nation. Don't believe anymore in the international community. Don't think that they are not [satisfied?] with what's going on. They are [satisfied?] that you are being killed. That we are facing one of the most difficult or the most serious or the most horrible massacre that is in that, in your history. [Rashad?] doesn't want us to go out alive. They want us dead. Assad is the same exactly as today there were many celebration on the other part of Aleppo. They were celebrating on our bodies. It's okay, this is live. But at least we know that we were a free people. We wanted a freedom. We didn't want anything else but freedom. You know, this world doesn't like freedom, it seems. Don't believe that you are a free people in your countries anymore. No, this world doesn't want freedom, doesn't like freedom. Maybe, maybe if you want freedom all this means that you think. [I hope?] something can be done. And you can't leave it, you can't speak. Together, once more. If you say that, if you can do something, yes, no one can do nothing, you can't do anything, you can't go out the streets. You can't, you can't call to stop this madness. This is at least what you can do. If your governments don't, uh, respond to your requests, you know, what you want, I hope in the future you are going to be the government. And you are not going to have any connection with Russia and with Assad. I hope you can remember us. Uh, I don't know, thank you very much." -- Mr. Alhamdo   From December 7, "About, uh, the amount of bombings that we receive every day from planes, artillery shillings, Assad allies forces, Assad allies militias. Of course, uh, Assad militias and uh are, uh, do nothing but burning all the land before they make the [progress?]. So, uh, all kinds, uh, habit, this was always going. Uh, what happens here, the rebels who are, uh, not only the rebels I mean [zem?]. Uh, I was living in a house which has got five families, now it has about twenty-five families. Every now and then, just, they knock my [video cuts off]." On December 16, "Sorry for, uh, because the internet was off. So, what I, what I wanted to say that many people, uh, missed their children and uh, so I saw many many families asking me about if their children are there, if they, I saw their, their son, their daughter. It was like the [doomsday?] when you just rush, don't know who is beside you. Your brother, your mother. You don't know him. Okay, I will tell you exactly what happened with, with my wife. I wasn't exa- at that point, at that moment because I just was looking for something to, to feed my daughter. But unfortunately, when I was there away of my uh wife and my family and I saw many people are, are running. So I, uh, directly ran towards my wife, but I couldn't find, but I couldn't find her, and couldn't find my daughter after, uh, about half an hour I could find them. Fortunately they were okay. Uh, my wife told me that, uh for that, they ran for many meters and forgetting my daughter. She was putting her with my bags, and she uh. When she saw those people running and crying and uh the fires were so close so she ran. She doesn't know. She forgets everything. She said, 'what should I do I forgot myself'. So, uh, then her mother, I mean, my mother-in-law told her, 'where is your daughter?' She said, 'Oh my god I forgot her.' Then she get back and find her crying. She get, take her and she ran. This is exactly what happened to [many?] people. It's a kind of a human relation. I guess, I confess. Russia and Assad succeeded in humiliating us. They succeeded in humiliating the international community because they don't care for anything. Uh, the only thing that they care is humiliating us killing us [transcription in progress]" On December 17, "[video of small child laughing] My daughter, my daughter today, uh, after we came back from the corridor and we couldn't go out, they stopped the corridor, uh, I'm glad that she's, uh, she's laughing."
  • "They're all dead. They were killed by terrorist shelling." -- Aleppo orphan, translation from RT subtitles 
  • "A missile just fell, uh, on the roof, uh, of my building. [And now?] other people who were waiting, waiting uh the bus have uh [inaudible] for their [inaudible] and find, uh, [inaudible]." -- Mostafa Mohammediyan, December 14
  • "My dad died five days ago. [What happened to your dad?] He was killed by a mortar shell." -- a girl from Aleppo, translation from RT subtitles 
  • "Salem [something in Arabic?]. I am Abul Kareem and we are in the [Ramussa?] section of, uh, what is left of eastern Aleppo. Now, you'll notice these cars that are right here. There are a sea of cars with fighters and their families and they are and have been waiting for some time to get out. Just about fifty to seventy-five meters that way are a row of buses, and they're all filled with people and they are ready to go but the problem is, is that they have been sitting there since yesterday. So there's not a lot of movement that's happening here in eastern Aleppo. The cars are here, fighters, and their families, everybody's waiting to go. As you can see, it's snowing and the intense cold has been sapping the strength of all of the people who are impatiently waiting here." -- Bilal Abul Kareem, December 21. "Salem [something in Arabic?]. I am Bilal Abdul Kareem and the fighters are now preparing to leave the city of of Aleppo. Now, if you can get a little bit closer here and you will see what this is. This is an explosive belt. And, as you can see, this is what he's wearing. This is what a lot of the fighters are wearing. Why? Because don't feel that they can trust the regime to maintain its word that they will have the safe passage to leave. And if they are stopped, they are prepared for a fight." -- on December 20. "Okay listen everybody, I wanna show you how cold it was last night. Now look at this. Now I'm going down here. Now this is somebody's bag that was here all night, you see? That's frost. Frost was on it all night long. That shows you how cold it is here with people staying, just trying to stay warm, just trying to get next to a fire. Look, you can see this frost on it. And that's even with the sun up and the sun beaming down on it. So when you're at home and you're thinking about what it is here in Aleppo, these are the images that should burn in your mind." -- on December 19. "Salem [something in Arabic?]. I am Bilal Abdul Kareem for On the Ground news. We are still in besieged Aleppo. Temperatures are freezing today hovering around the zero degree mark and are set to go way below zero in the coming hours and overnight. There's limited food, almost no available drinking water, and people are trying to go across, but apparently there's been, uh, a development in the uh buses that were on their way to evacuate, um, those Shia residents from [Kafriyya?] as a part of the deal that involved [Medany?] [Zebodaya?] [Kafriyyar?] and Aleppo. The buses were attacked and there were, uh, and the buses were burned by unknown assailants. OGN's correspondent was there and filmed it as we put on twitter and he uh actually um witnessed some of the burning. Now, there's supposed to be a discussion that's supposed to be held about whether the United Nations uh would play a role, an observatory role in the situation of, uh, of the people coming out of the different territories. I would say unequivocally, yes, it must be an outside force observing because there have been, uh, deaths, robberies, assaults and everything else that has been going on. So the international community has gotta get involved here. Stop having a hands-off approach. Get involved. Understand that there are hundreds of thousands of lives that hang in the balance. So, everybody needs to have a cool had and needs to realize that there has to be observers observing exactly what goes on during these exchanges. Salem [something in Arabic?]." -- on December 18. "Salem [something in Arabic?]. I am Bilal Abdul Kareem for On the Ground news. Look around me. Look at what we have here. I want everybody to take a look. This is what's left of the hospital. Look. Can y'all see that? Blood all over the floor. Injured people all over the place. You understand? This is the situation that's here. Now, everybody has to understand that you've gotta play a role here, whether it's retweet, share, uh, call up people to get the Russians and the Iranians to fulfill their obligations. Everybody's got to become involved. Get educated. Stay engaged. Be involved in solving the problems that are here. This is ridiculous. I-I've never seen anything like this. Just people, just on the floor, uh, with blood all over the walls and they've been here for days." -- on December 17. "Salem [something in Arabic?]. I am Bilal Abdul Kareem for On the Ground news and I want everybody to understand something. Today was supposed to be the day that was supposed to see the fighters and their families and the rest of the civilians to leave eastern Aleppo. Russia today, Russian government is reporting that they've all left and it's all over. Well, I'm still here. And there are thousands upon thousands of people who are still here. Myself today, I saw approximately fifty thousand people. They were so many, they looked like ants, and they were turned back and told that they cannot leave today. Some were told, meaning from the civilians that some buses were going to come. To my knowledge, up until now, they have not come. So I am making it clear to everyone, retweet, uh-uh repost, uh, forward, share on Facebook that there are thousands of people that are here. I am afraid if the Russians are successful in convincing the world that everybody has left, you can guess what's going to happen to the rest of us. [something in Arabic?] We have no one rely on except Allah, and then after him, you. Salem [something in Arabic?" -- on December 16. "Salem [something in Arabic?] I am Bilal Abdul Kareem and everyone knows I am from On the Ground news and I am in the besieged areas in, here in eastern Aleppo. Uh, I, it is very important that everybody, everybody, everybody knows and understands the situation here on the ground. Um, uh, RT, Russia Today dot com is is reporting that the evacuation is over and the people have left eastern Aleppo. This is not true at all. There are thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children that are here. The fighters were not allowed to leave. I repeat, they were not allowed to leave today and nor were their families. There are four which are dead. There are twenty which I have just been informed have been taken prisoner by the Lebanese group known as Hezbollah and the situation is very difficult. I need everybody to retweet this message and to make as much noise as you can because if the world thinks that everyone who wanted to leave as Russia Today wants them to believe then that would mean they could exterminate all of these people and there will be no account for it." -- on December 16.
  • "There was no food and no water. The children couldn't go to school. If a child was sick, we were in despair and there was nowhere to buy any medicine." -- a woman from Aleppo, voiceover translation by RT
  • "I will not appeal to the UN. The UN buries its head in the sand like an ostrich. I will not appeal to Arabs. The most they do is express their sadness and concern for Aleppo." -- Halab Today, incomplete translation from BBC captions. Note: Halab Today has a lot of footage. Hardly anything is in English, but you can still watch what's happening even if you can't understand what is being said. 
  • "It was a nightmare. The terrorists beat us regularly." -- a man from Aleppo, voiceover translation by RT 
  •  "This is the last video I post. We are tired of talking. We are tired of speeches. This message comes from a broken heart. I will stop talking. Here comes the barrel bomb. This will end my video." -- Joud al-Khatib, incomplete translation from BBC captions
  • "We were just happy and living well, and then the war started. [And your family?] They're all dead, they were killed by terrorist shelling." -- a boy from Aleppo, translation from RT subtitles
  • "This is the ongoing situation we are living through in Aleppo. This is part of the death we are living." -- Omar Arab, translation from BBC captions
  • "They starved us. We suffered a lot. I cried day and night." -- a woman from Aleppo, voiceover translation by RT
  • "We don't want Assad's Syria. We want a free Syria. No one stood with us. No one helped us." -- Salah Ashkar, translation from AJ+ captions

Some pictures

Decided to go though Halab Today's twitter and select some photos / screenshot some videos that I think folks should look at even if we don't know Arabic. Note that they sometimes show pictures from solidarity protests held elsewhere in the world, even though Halab Today does appear to be a local Aleppo news source. May add pictures from other sources later.
Google translation of tweet: "# View | Besides the intense bombardment of various types of weapons on the old neighborhoods of Aleppo, besieged # # yesterday Halb_tbad #StandwithAleppo"
 December 10, Halab Today TV

Google translation of tweet: "The effects of aerial and artillery bombardment of the palace orchard neighborhood in the besieged city of Aleppo # Halb_tbad #StandwithAleppo lens: Abdel Qader Abu Saleh"
December 12, Halab Today TV
Google translation of tweet: "Activists: Martyrs and stuck under the rubble by the bombing of the Turkish aircraft over the city in the countryside of the door # # eastern Aleppo"
December 12, Halab Today TV

Google translation of tweet: "The effects of aerial and artillery bombardment of the palace orchard neighborhood in the besieged city of Aleppo # Halb_tbad #StandwithAleppo lens: Abdel Qader Abu Saleh"
December 12, Halab Today TV
Google translation of tweet: "# Aldvaa_madna: the violent and incessant shelling stop us from saving the wounded hear their cries under the rubble of buildings destroyed and the bodies of the martyrs will fill the streets of the besieged Aleppo #"
December 13, Halab Today TV

Google translation of tweet: "Save Aleppo and rescued from the rest of the people of the besieged Aleppo # # Halb_tbad #Halepimhaoluyor #AleppoExterminated"
December 13, Halab Today TV

Google translation of tweet: "# View | How sectarian militias attacked the convoys evacuating displaced from # Aleppo yesterday # Halb_tbad #StandwithAleppo"
December 16, Halab Today TV

Google translation of tweet: "Open road convoys to # meets Aleppo near the Turkish border - Syrian # Halb_tbad #StandwithAleppo"
December 17, Halab Today TV
Google translation of tweet: "Exit demonstration in front of the Russian embassy in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur # condemn the violations of the Assad regime and Russia against civilians in Aleppo and # # # Syria Malaysia"
December 16, Halab Today TV

Google translation of tweet: "Exit demonstration in Jobar neighborhood of Damascus in solidarity with the people of the city of Aleppo # # Halb_tbad #StandwithAleppo"
December 16, Halab Today TV
Google translation of tweet: "Scenes from the arrival of our people and of the families of wounded civilians from the besieged city of Aleppo # to the western rural Aleppo # Halb_tbad #StandwithAleppo"
December 15, Halab Today TV
Google translation of tweet: "A protest in the city of Dana Brive # # # Idlib in solidarity with Aleppo"
December 17, Halab Today TV
Google translation of tweet: "Iranian and Lebanese militias carried yesterday executed four people and an affront to the rest of the displaced # Aleppo before they release the convoys and return to the besieged neighborhoods"
December 17, Halab Today TV

Google translation of tweet: "Pause for Aleppo, trapped in front of the UN OCHA office in the Turkish city of Gaziantep # Halb_tbad #StandwithAleppo"
December 16, Halab Today TV

The Dakota Access Pipeline is the latest chapter in over a century of war against the Sioux Nation

1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie borders
The Lakota, Dakota, Nakota (Sioux tribes) and other indigenous peoples inhabiting the plains before settlers began expanding into their territory were not exactly pacifists, but it seems they preferred non-lethal warfare such as “counting coup”. Traditions of warfare were institutionalized by rules, much like sport. The discovery of gold in California in 1849, and subsequent encounters with the US Army, began changing this. The first Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed in 1851, including a number of indigenous groups including the Sioux Nation. The picture on the right, particularly the portion shaded in red, shows what the boundaries of the Sioux Nation would look like had that treaty been respected by the U.S. government and by settlers. It should be noted that there was considerable cultural misunderstanding and that not all of the tribes actually signed it. Another treaty was attempted in 1868. Again, not all tribes signed it, a notable non-signer including Sitting Bull's tribe.

The details of all that happened in our history are beyond the scope of this article, but to go over a few highlights: the beginning of the transcontinental railroad. Red Cloud's War. Wholesale killing of buffalo, an important source of food, clothing, and shelter for the Sioux, after the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The Indian Appropriation Act in 1871. Western Indians forbidden by military orders from leaving reservations. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1874. US Government offers to buy land but Sioux refuse to sell. In 1875 war breaks out over the treaty violations. The Dawes Act in 1887, forcing western conceptions of land ownership on the Indians and stealing a lot of the land for settlers in the process. The Wounded Knee massacre, an indiscriminate slaughter of men, women, and children, in which 20 Congressional Medals of Honor for Valor were given to the 7th Calvary. In 1990, the Supreme Court rules that the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie was indeed violated, but rather than returning the land, offers a one-time cash payment, which the Sioux refuse to accept. Conditions on the Pine Ridge reservation today are worse than many third world nations. If you would like a more detailed history, you may watch Aaron Huey's lecture, the documentary Red Cry, the Republic of Lakotah website, and for a brief more worldwide perspective the short clip here.

What has been happening recently with regards to the Dakota Access Pipeline is a shameful continuation of long war, though perhaps part of why it is now receiving more attention is that non-indigenous people are beginning to be treated the way indigenous people have been treated for centuries. These things may seem unrelated, but if you'll bear with me, I'll attempt to demonstrate that they all tie together. Additionally, we have video cameras and the internet now so that news of what is happening can be more easily shared, even if it's not the story the U.S. government wants us to see.

For example, Cindy Coppola, an Iowa farmer, was interviewed by Lee Camp of Redacted Tonight after being arrested on her own farm for protesting and blocking the construction equipment that was tearing apart her farm. Welcome to the regime of the USSA, I mean USA, where it is apparently not permitted to protest on your own land. Cindy and the other Iowa farmers fighting the eminent domain of the pipeline in court requested a stay until their court date, which isn't until December 14th. The pipeline's lawyers claimed it would cost them half a million dollars to skip over these farmers and come back, if granted the stay, so the request for a stay was declined, unless the farmer's agreed to put up a half million bond each. About a week later, the pipeline company skipped ahead to their land to bury their pipes, even though they hadn't dug on either side yet. When this whole fight started a couple years back, there were many more farmers fighting the eminent domain. The nine still fighting are the ones actually able to afford to go to court. The pipeline company has convinced the state that they are a utility, so they are being regulated by the Iowa Utilities Board. While putting the pipe in, the company left behind and buried a lot of their debris. Ms. Coppola jokes that she'll believe a corporation's a person when Texas executes one. She mentions that she attended nonviolent training before protesting, other occasions she protested this pipeline, and wishes good luck to anyone else fighting a large corporation's eminent domain. If you watch Lee Camp's full episode, he does an excellent job of making fun of CNN and their war against “fake news”. Highlight: CNN tells people it's only legal for the media to look at the Wikileak's emails.

This is hardly the only shenanigans that's been going on in Iowa. Like when a number of protestors were arrested for trespassing with the permission of the landowner. That's right, trespassing, with the permission of the landowner. While the Dakota Access workers were there without the landowner's permission. Some of the people making the arrests were apparently private security.

Drilling rig violating land without consent

Saturday, December 10, 2016

John Locke, homesteading and other topics, in retrospect

While many libertarian and Austrian economists prefer more modern theories of homesteading and natural property rights, most of these seem to trace their intellectual heritage back to John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, from 1690. While respecting that Locke does not represent most modern views, I believe it is important that to examine Locke's theories not merely on a theoretical level, but with a view in mind of historical events that Locke himself could not have predicted or may not have had knowledge of. We will also make reference to to the competitor of Locke, Thomas Hobbes, whose Leviathan was published in 1651.

Setting the stage

When read without historical context, particularly from the perspective of someone still idealistic and full of hope regarding the nature of their fellow human beings, Chapter II (audio) appears fairly reasonable, though I would draw your attention, dear reader, to the following quotation:
 "The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another's pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another's uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our's. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another."
 I put forth the question, can  "no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions" and "Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully" always be self-consistent? That is to say, can a person always refrain from harming others in "life, health, liberty, or possessions" and at the same time "preserve himself, and not quit his station wilfully"? (I realize that some may be thinking that Locke is objecting to voluntary suicide, and well he might, but since it is not what I am trying to discuss right now, consider "bound to preserve himself" as the natural survival instinct that most life forms have, i.e., consider this in the context of those of us who want to live.) Is "when his own preservation comes not in competition" a brief nod to the possibility that these two goals may not always be simultaneously possible?

Also I call to your attention to:

Sect. 9. I doubt not but this will seem a very strange doctrine to some men: but before they condemn it, I desire them to resolve me, by what right any prince or state can put to death, or punish an alien, for any crime he commits in their country. It is certain their laws, by virtue of any sanction they receive from the promulgated will of the legislative, reach not a stranger: they speak not to him, nor, if they did, is he bound to hearken to them. The legislative authority, by which they are in force over the subjects of that commonwealth, hath no power over him. Those who have the supreme power of making laws in England, France or Holland, are to an Indian, but like the rest of the world, men without authority: and therefore, if by the law of nature every man hath not a power to punish offences against it, as he soberly judges the case to require, I see not how the magistrates of any community can punish an alien of another country; since, in reference to him, they can have no more power than what every man naturally may have over another."

And here we see not only reference to punishing an "alien", someone who is not a member of the society in question, but specifically an "Indian" -- not merely an immigrant who it might be hoped would put some effort into learning the local culture enough to avoid major conflict, but an Indian (by which Locke most likely means an American Indian), presumably on their own cultural territory still. So I ask you, is there any "law of nature" so basic, so innate within all humanity that even a total stranger, though he may not speak our language or know our ways, though we may have appeared uninvited by either him or his tribe on their territory, can be expected to share this understanding and engage with us accordingly, and if so, does Locke accurately describe this "law of nature"?

Looking at Chapter III (audio), we see Locke start off with a great deal of certainty about what constitutes a declaration of war, and transition into uncertainty regarding people's ability to determine for themselves what counts as such a declaration, ending with, "of that I myself can only be judge in my own conscience, as I will answer it, at the great day, to the supreme judge of all men."

I draw the reader's attention to this passage near the middle:
"Sect. 18. This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into his power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my liberty, would not, when he had me in his power, take away every thing else. And therefore it is lawful for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me, i.e. kill him if I can; for to that hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it."

A few points -- the use of the word "force" is vague here. The use of the world "force" and related terms such as "aggression" and "coercion" in philosophy have changed over the years and from one philosopher to the next. The first instinct of many modern readers may be to assume a more modern definition, which often includes force against property including by stealth and some types of fraud. However, it is possible Locke is using an older definition, closer to what we see in Hobbes' Leviathan in "Totall Excuses" and "Crimes Against Private Men Compared", in which Hobbes lists the taking of food by force or stealth as two separate possible methods, and, when discussing the "spoyling a man of his goods" makes clear distinction between the methods "by Terrour of death, or wounds", "clandestine surreption" and "consent fraudulently obtained", the "force" discussed in the earlier section presumably referring to "by Terrour of death, or wounds".

"Thus a thief, whom I cannot harm, but by appeal to the law, for having stolen all that I am worth, I may kill, when he sets on me to rob me but of my horse or coat; because the law, which was made for my preservation, where it cannot interpose to secure my life from present force, which, if lost, is capable of no reparation, permits me my own defence, and the right of war, a liberty to kill the aggressor, because the aggressor allows not time to appeal to our common judge, nor the decision of the law, for remedy in a case where the mischief may be irreparable. Want of a common judge with authority, puts all men in a state of nature: force without right, upon a man's person, makes a state of war, both where there is, and is not, a common judge."

This would seem to suggest an older, less modern use of the definition of "force", though I may be misreading, as that would leave open the question of how, without "appeal to the law", Locke intends to deal with the question of one who has  "stolen all that I am worth" by stealth or fraud already.

"But when the actual force is over, the state of war ceases between those that are in society, and are equally on both sides subjected to the fair determination of the law; because then there lies open the remedy of appeal for the past injury, and to prevent future harm: but where no such appeal is, as in the state of nature, for want of positive laws, and judges with authority to appeal to, the state of war once begun, continues [...] until the aggressor offers peace [...]"

This might bring us back to the suggestion of possibly a more modern definition of "force"... perhaps Locke only meant for us to "appeal to the law" regarding past theft by stealth or fraud in the event there was an actual law to appeal to, for, without it, the state of war would continue. Indeed, scrolling back up to Chapter II would seem to confirm the more modern interpretation.

Putting aside for a moment what Locke actually meant by "force" and "aggressor", especially considering he himself seemed a bit uncertain of a person's ability to judge, consider for a moment whether the concept of "theft" and the implication of property rights is so universal that even an outsider to our culture, a total stranger, who may not speak our language, can be expected to understand, especially if we include "theft by stealth" of goods we are not actually watching over. And the reverse... might we steal that which is his without knowing that we have done so? Is Locke right to assume that a state of peace, rather than a state of war, is the default between people in the state of nature, and that war, being the non-default, necessarily contains the concepts of an aggressor and an innocent party?

Going over Chapter IV (audio), we see a more narrow definition of slavery than that which some more modern philosophers use (which is why in more modern discourse many of us now use the term "chattel slavery" to discuss what earlier philosophers might've simply called "slavery"). The distinction Locke makes between "slavery" and "drudgery" is not dissimilar to the distinction Hobbes makes between a slave/captive and a servant in "Despoticall Dominion, How Attained" and "Not By The Victory, But By The Consent of the Vanquished" in Leviathan. Locke's description of slavery is a bit more theoretical, "under an absolute, arbitrary, despotical power", whereas Hobbes is more graphic, "that work in Prisons, or Fetters, do it not of duty, but to avoyd the cruelty of their task-masters". Both agree that no contract to enter into the condition of slavery is valid. Both agree that the condition may be ended by some sort of contract, which must meet certain minimum standards to be valid, i.e. not leave the surrendering party in the condition of slavery. (More on that in a bit.) What is perhaps of more significance is the emphasis Locke places on the concept of a "lawful conqueror". See here:

"Indeed, having by his fault forfeited his own life, by some act that deserves death; he, to whom he has forfeited it, may (when he has him in his power) delay to take it, and make use of him to his own service, and he does him no injury by it: for, whenever he finds the hardship of his slavery outweigh the value of his life, it is in his power, by resisting the will of his master, to draw on himself the death he desires.
Sect. 24. This is the perfect condition of slavery, which is nothing else, but the state of war continued, between a lawful conqueror and a captive"
Hang on a moment here. Why should we assume that the "lawful" side should emerge the victor, what do we mean by "some act that deserves death", and, if someone has indeed done "some act that deserves death", do we really expect his cooperation, and what benefit would be served by enslaving him rather than other penalties? By, "some act that deserves death", do we mean murder or the theft of a piece of fruit? (Or perhaps, as some of his readers might have supposed, not being Christian or not being white?) One would hope for something like "murder" being "some act that deserves death", but, Locke's previous chapters might suggest the stealing fruit to be sufficient. Certainly, an attempt to enslave a serial killer is unlikely to be profitable or even safe. At first glance, this could be a mere justification for "prison labor" (i.e. of convicted criminals), which many more modern philosophers who otherwise oppose slavery don't always seem to object to, but then why do we not see, in this section, discussion of wrongfully captured people? (To be fair, Locke does go on about just and unjust wars in Chapter XVI, but I think it's telling that, in the chapter on slavery, he assumes that the "just" side is victor.)

Okay, history. Locke published this in 1690. The transatlantic slave trade started perhaps around 1501, sooner if we count Columbus sending back American Indians as slaves. The first African slave ship to Great Britain might've been in 1556. The first to the present USA, around 1645. So, by the time Locke wrote this, the transfer of black slaves from Africa, including to Great Britain and the American colonies, had been going on for decades. Also, I would like to point out that captives who tried to choose death over slavery were often force fed. Locke was apparently an investor an the Royal African Company, a slave-trading organization, and played some role in drafting the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina. "Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his negro slaves, of what opinion or religion soever." There is some confusion over the exact extent of Locke's hand in writing the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, but I think what we are seeing here in his Second Treatise is not a rationale for prison labor of a convicted criminal, but rather, an attempt to dehumanize people to justify the cruelty of slavery. I am not quite sure what mental hoops Locke jumped through to convince himself that people from Africa deserved this fate, but I think that we should take to heart one of the dangers of excessive idealism -- that of arrogance, the overconfidence of assuming that we are right and those we hurt are wrong, the danger of rationalizing rather than confronting our flaws. Any time idealism is used for dehumanizing purposes, it is a warning, that we should be cautious, for we have probably gone down the wrong path. It's quite a shame, really, since one would think from having read Locke's First Treatise, and even other portions of his Second Treatise, that he would've been an abolitionist, and indeed, many actual opponents of slavery have quoted from him. Indeed, it is perhaps because we can quote Locke's own words against his actions, as seen below, and the flaws in his text such as we see above are difficult to spot, that Locke has continued to inspire many men and women who were far more enlightened than he himself was.

"Slavery is so vile and miserable an estate of man, and so directly opposite to the generous temper and courage of our nation; that it is hardly to be conceived, that an Englishman, much less a gentleman, should plead for it." -- Locke's First Treatise

On the other side of the table, representing realism rather than idealism, we have Hobbes, who, when discussing the issue of slavery, skips the question of who is just and who is unjust, and reaffirms the right of the captive to resist: "a Captive, which is kept in prison, or bonds, till the owner of him that took him, or bought him of one that did, shall consider what to do with him: (for such men, (commonly called Slaves,) have no obligation at all; but may break their bonds, or the prison; and kill, or carry away captive their Master, justly". Now, Hobbes is hardly in line with more modern philosophies... for example his idea that a covenant made under severe duress is still valid (provided the severe duress ceased), his faith in the monarchy to establish peace between people, and his reluctance to try to appeal to people's better nature rather than simply accepting that people will do awful things given the opportunity... but for all that, his realist heart was faster to affirm the right of the captive to resist, by whatever means, than Locke's idealist heart. In terms of practical advice to one facing enslavement, death, or other violence, Hobbes has more to offer to such a person than Locke in his Second Treatise does.

On homesteading

Locke's fifth chapter, Of Property (audio), is probably nearest and dearest of all his work to modern right-wing libertarians and Austrian economists. It is quite possible that some have only read this section, or such portion of it as was quoted by other philosophers, and thus missed that troublesome defense of slavery in Chapter IV.

In any case, Chapter V looks beautiful on paper. If we had a great area of unclaimed land and a number of people, and all the people assented that they thought this was a good way of dividing the land, or at least an acceptable compromise, and there was plenty for all to carve out a sufficient portion to live on without fear of being crowded out, it would be a fine system indeed. It is a more enlightened system of land distribution than the idea of divine right, such as Locke refutes in his First Treatise, and that of government right, such as we see today where deeds to land are traced back to the government, which usually profits off of their sale and continues to tax them, and may be revoked by the government at any time.

But we aren't actually talking about unclaimed land. There were already American Indians there. Consider, for example, the history of English interactions with the Wampanoag, which was already well in progress by the time Locke published his Second Treatise. Let's see... "Like other Algonquin in southern New England, the Wampanoag were a horticultural people who supplemented their agriculture with hunting and fishing." So much for Locke's claim that the American Indians left the land an "uncultivated waste".

Let's read more closely for references in this chapter to the American Indians and their management of the land, shall we?

"for I ask, whether in the wild woods and uncultivated waste of America, left to nature, without any improvement, tillage or husbandry, a thousand acres yield the needy and wretched inhabitants as many conveniencies of life, as ten acres of equally fertile land do in Devonshire, where they are well cultivated?"

"There cannot be a clearer demonstration of any thing, than several nations of the Americans are of this, who are rich in land, and poor in all the comforts of life; whom nature having furnished as liberally as any other people, with the materials of plenty, i.e. a fruitful soil, apt to produce in abundance, what might serve for food, raiment, and delight; yet for want of improving it by labour, have not one hundredth part of the conveniencies we enjoy: and a king of a large and fruitful territory there, feeds, lodges, and is clad worse than a day-labourer in England."

"An acre of land, that bears here twenty bushels of wheat, and another in America, which, with the same husbandry, would do the like, are, without doubt, of the same natural intrinsic value: but yet the benefit mankind receives from the one in a year, is worth 5l. and from the other possibly not worth a penny, if all the profit an Indian received from it were to be valued, and sold here; at least, I may truly say, not one thousandth."

What we're seeing here isn't an argument in favor of the original homesteader. What we're seeing here is an argument in favor of eminent domain. Indeed, if you look below, Locke seemed intent on convincing others that this claim of eminent domain was harmless, for there was plenty left still for everyone else, even going so far as to claim that the eminent domainer was giving to some nebulous "mankind". A utilitarian argument. Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally against utilitarian arguments, especially where we're trying to calculate the number of lives we can save from some misfortune, such as war, but as an argument for eminent domain, it is highly suspect.

"Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself: for he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. No body could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst: and the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same."
"And therefore he that incloses land, and has a greater plenty of the conveniencies of life from ten acres, than he could have from an hundred left to nature, may truly be said to give ninety acres to mankind: for his labour now supplies him with provisions out of ten acres, which were but the product of an hundred lying in common."

Looking again at Wampanoag history, early contact between the Wampanoag and the English appears to be relatively friendly (Thanksgiving is in honor of Wampanoag generosity), though not without complications and disaster -- most significantly, epidemics which wiped out a great number of Wampanoag. In so far as disease and sanitation were most likely poorly understood back then, we can at least assume that the disease was not intentional until we see evidence to the contrary. Relations appear to have deteriorated starting with the arrival of the Puritans. Of note:

"After eating a meal in Duxbury, Alexander became violently ill and died. The Wampanoag were told he died of a fever, but the records from the Plymouth Council at the time make note of an expense for poison "to rid ourselves of a pest." The following year Metacomet (Wewesawanit) succeeded his murdered brother as grand sachem of the Wampanoag eventually becoming known to the English as King Philip." -- Lee Sultzman (Alexander and Philip were Wampanoag with English names.)
Relations between the English settlers and the Wampanoag, and, perhaps more to the point, tribes who heeded the Wampanoag's warming (seeing as how there were very few Wampanoag left at this point due to all the disease) deteriorated into war. However, even those who had adopted English ways were not spared.
"Particularly disturbing to the colonists was the defection of most of the "Praying Indians." When Puritan missionaries attempted to gather their converts, only 500 could be found. The others had either taken to the woods or joined Philip. Their loyalty still suspect, the Praying Indians who remained were sent to the islands of Boston Harbor and other "plantations of confinement." -- Lee Sultman
Plantations of confinement... so reward for loyalty to the English was enslavement.
"At the outbreak of the fighting, the Narragansett had gathered themselves in single large fort in a swamp near Kingston, Rhode Island. Although it appeared they were on the verge of annulling their treaty with the English and entering the war on the side of Philip, the only thing they had been guilty of during the first six months of the conflict was providing shelter for Wampanoag women, children, and other non-combatants. In December of 1675, Governor Josiah Winslow of Plymouth led a 1,000 man army with 150 Mohegan scouts against the Narragansett. The English demanded the Narragansett surrender of any Wampanoag who remained and join them against Philip. When this was refused, the English attacked. Known as the Great Swamp Fight (December 19, 1675), the battle almost destroyed the Narragansett. In all they lost more than 600 warriors and at least 20 of their sachems, but the English also lost heavily to and was in no condition to pursue the Narragansett who escaped. Led by their sachem, Canonchet, many of the survivors joined Philip at Hoosick." -- Lee Sultman
So, the English attacked the Narragansett for sheltering non-combatants. And this was in 1675, 15 years before the publication of Locke's Second Treatise. So, the American Indians by this time had plenty of reason to not want to allow the English to continue "homesteading" on their territory. Reasons Locke makes no mention of. Did he not do his research? Was he simply to arrogant to question whatever distorted version of events he read courtesy of English propaganda? I have no idea. Certainly, it would not be the first time he showed exceedingly poor judgement, considering that travesty in Chapter IV.

Let's take a further look at Narragansett history, shall we? This tribe had previously arisen as the dominant tribe since they weren't as hard-hit by European diseases as the others, and had forced the Wampanoag to pay tribute. It should say something that they ultimately united against the English.  This was not a tribe of pacifists, but it would seem that though the tribes of the area did war with each other, there was some code of honor between them, some depravities they considered wrong, and that the English crossed the line, causing former enemies to unite against them or at least offer shelter to non-combatants and survivors. This theme appears to be continued with, "Even Uncas and the Mohegan took pity on what had befallen their Narragansett enemies and allowed some of them to settle in their Connecticut villages after the war."

As those of European heritage expanded further west, they encountered further opposition. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was created in 1824 as part of the U.S. War Department. War, you know, that one issue so close to the hearts of so many libertarians, greens, and other types of pacifists/pseudo-pacifists that we often put aside our other disagreements to go protest against it. Upon encountering the Sioux and other plains Indians, we see the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Which apparently not all tribes signed on to and which settlers more or less ignored. The history of interactions between the US settlers and the Lakata, Dakota, Nakota (Sioux tribes) and other plains Indians is long and relatively well documented, but let's look at how the Plains war started.

It seems there was some cow that was killed and a bunch of soldiers got riled up over it and went to a nearby Indian camp seeking satisfaction. There was some attempt at negotiation. When asked why they had killed the cow, one of the Mniconjous replied, "It is a fact. Last year, the soldiers killed three of us and again this year, as we sat by the side of the road, an emigrant shot at us and hit a child in the head with a small ball (bullet)..." So, soldiers/settlers had killed four of the Mniconjous, including a child, and they retaliated by killing a cow. Which the Indians offered to pay for with a horse. Conquering Bear, the chief, refused to hand over the cow killer, and the soldiers shot someone, causing the Indians to retaliate by killing all the soldiers. For their part, the soldiers took Conquering Bear with them. This was called the Grattan massacre caused a wave of anti-Indian sentiments, leading to the Blue Water Creek massacre, where US soldiers killed Lakota men women and children indiscriminately, and thus began the Plains wars. For a more comprehensive history of our interactions with the Lakota and other plains Indians, feel free to check out the documentary Red Cry, Aaron Huey's lecture, and the Republic of Lakotah website.

None of this bears any resemblance to the idealist picture Locke paints of plenty of land and natives living in an idealized state of nature who won't mind being brought into an idealized commonwealth instead. And yet even after much of this already panned out, people were still hanging onto the idea that the natives had no right to the land because they allegedly weren't making full use of it. For example, Ayn Rand, considered by many to be a type of libertarian, once said,

"I do not think that they have any right to live in a country merely because they were born here and acted and lived like savages. Americans didn’t conquer; Americans did not conquer that country." -- Ayn Rand

I would also like to point out that the height of agricultural technology was reached, not by Western civilization, but by indigenous Amazonians hundreds or thousands of year ago. Unfortunately, the technology, terra preta, was lost when most of the people inhabiting the area were wiped out by European disease and archaeologists are still trying to figure out how to replicate it.

Locke, in his world, paints a world that doesn't exist, and societies who don't exist. Where land is scarce, Locke makes it sound is if there is plenty for all. Where the Indians did in fact have agriculture and some sort of concept of land ownership or stewardship or something, he makes it sound as though they had no legitimate claim on the land. Where white settlers were interested in taking away as much as they could for themselves, Locke made it sound as if all would benefit. To be fair, Locke did discourage waste, something which has been grossly ignored (mass slaughter of the buffalo, for example). And, on the question of whether Locke's system of homesteading is something sufficiently innate in human nature as to be understood by members of different cultures and languages without negotiation, the answer is clearly a resounding no.

For comparison, we have Thomas Hobbes' advice:
"The multitude of poor, and yet strong people still encreasing, they are to be transplanted into Countries not sufficiently inhabited: where neverthelesse, they are not to exterminate those they find there; but constrain them to inhabit closer together, and not range a great deal of ground, to snatch what they find; but to court each little Plot with art and labour, to give them their sustenance in due season. And when all the world is overchargd with Inhabitants, then the last remedy of all is Warre; which provideth for every man, by Victory, or Death."

Not exactly the strong anti-war message we might hope for, but comparatively speaking, "they are not to exterminate those they find there; but constrain them to inhabit closer together, and not range a great deal of ground" would, if followed, most likely have lead to a more peaceful historical outcome than what we witnessed.

This is, in many ways, a lesson in the dangers of idealism. When one imagines a beautiful, utopian world, and tries to impose that vision on the real world, the results tend to be quite dystopic. If someone would try to be more idealistic, perhaps it would be better to focus on trying to discourage the flaws in the human heart rather than re-imagining the fabric of the physical world.

In many ways, the most interesting parts of Locke's theory are the corollaries. "Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the yet unprovided could use." Corollary: If there's not enough and as good left for the "yet unprovided", they might be able to claim prejudice. "No body could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst: and the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same." Corollary: If someone steals or pollutes the whole river, then others might be able to think themselves injured. Also of interest, "As much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his labour fix a property in: whatever is beyond this, is more than his share, and belongs to others. Nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy." Huh, perhaps folks should've read that passage before killing the buffalo en masse. Also, from his first treatise, "and how will it appear, that propriety in land gives a man power over the life of another? or how will the possession even of the whole earth give any one a sovereign arbitrary authority over the persons of men? The most specious thing to be said is, that he that is proprietor of the whole world, may deny all the rest of mankind food, and so at his pleasure starve them, if they will not acknowledge his sovereignty, and obey his will".

P.S. If it wasn't obvious already, I am green, not libertarian.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Environmentalists been fighting hard for human life and property rights; where have the rest of you been?

To this day, stigma continues that environmentalists are, as a whole, more concerned with the pristineness of nature than with human life, and, furthermore, invariably or at least frequently Marxists or socialists. While addressing all the reasons for those stigmas is beyond the scope of this article, and acknowledging that environmentalism is no unified movement and that there is a wide variety of views among those who self-identify as environmentalists on matters such as human rights and economic systems, my goal here is to show that it is often environmentalists who are on the front lines in the fights for human life and property rights.

To all those who declare your distaste of Marxism, to those who claim to champion the cause of rural landowners, to Austrian economists who decry our current economy as "crony capitalism",  to both Republicans and right-wing Libertarians who fear that environmentalism has some hidden socialist/Marxist agenda, to Democrats who complain about Jill Stein stealing Hillary's votes and talk about how much they want to protect minorities, if you have not been supporting at least such specific environmentalist causes as are consistent with your stated values, where have you been?

Fear Marxism*? Josh Fox infiltrated China and successfully smuggled out his footage in spite of suspicion from Chinese authorities.

Josh Fox, a very popular environmental activist, successfully got video footage out of China -- and not the sort the Chinese authorities approved of. He was, unfortunately, unable to conduct as many interviews as he would've liked, as apparently his activities were reported. He hid the footage, and, after unsuccessfully trying to shake off the authorities, who were determined to tail him, ultimately decided to trick them into thinking he was just an innocent banjo player, not a journalist.

As a model of industrial efficiency, Beijing might be considered something of a success. Home to 20 million people, buildings are built in complexes, the same building repeated perhaps 60 times. Exports in consumer products are high.

Beijing pm2.5 count at time of writing this article,

In his documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things That Climate Can't Change, Josh reveals Beijing as "a city that never opens its windows". Every building and car in Beijing apparently has a filter for something called "pm2.5", a sort of air pollution that plagues the city, much of it the result of burning coal. People check pm2.5 levels there the way people in other places check the weather. Outdoors, the use of masks is not uncommon.
Chinese wedding couple in gas masks.

An estimated 1.2 million-2 million Chinese die to air pollution each year, around 4,400 deaths per day. Those of you who point to industrial efficiency as an example of one of the benefits of capitalism have it backwards -- it is not capitalism's industrial efficiency, but rather, capitalism's ability to slow industrialism down, that we should be celebrating.

To all of you Republicans and Libertarians and even Democrats who say the Greens/environmentalists are too Marxist or socialist for you -- where have you been? Have any of your activists snuck video footage out of a communist country lately? Have you even watched any of Josh Fox's documentaries?

*Okay, so China isn't "real Marxism" any more than the USA is "real free-market capitalism", but hey, people still point at them as examples of "why communism doesn't work" or "why capitalism works", so apparently people see at least some likeness.

Right-wingers, support land ownership? Left-wingers, support minority rights? Care to extend that to indigenous Peruvians?

Water black with oil, from E. Guerva
Looking at AIDSEP, an advocacy organization for "los pueblos indígenas" (indigenous peoples), or Google translation since I don't know much Spanish, I'm seeing "Oil spills in the Amazon endanger the lives of indigenous peoples", a recent oil spill of at least 2000 oil barrels now polluting a major river (estimated 8000 families affected), apparently the 5th spill since 2011 caused by a company called Petroperu, "We demand clean water, human and environmental health, compensation to the population!" Amazon Watch, an indigenous rights and environmentalist group, posted a short video and article on the subject. (If you can't see the connection to more USA-centric politics, and that's all you care about, a clue: DAPL 40 years from now.)

I realize "territory" can be a difficult word for a lot of right-wing libertarians and Austrian economists to understand, so let me help translate. It is their version of "land rights" or "homesteaded"... not textbook as you understand it, but close enough that I hope you can get the message: the oil is violating their land and water rights. Conservatives who take a "whatever the government says" approach to land rights... I give up, but if whatever the government says is fine to you, why even bother participating in politics?

Left-wingers, especially those who voted Hillary and called everyone who didn't "racist" and/or "sexist", perhaps you could persuade your media to spend less time telling us who mocked who and more time on things like this, "Children and adults, including some nursing women, immersed themselves in oily water with no protective gear. Before long, many were complaining of headaches, dizziness, blurred vision or nausea. Some still have skin lesions." There is also concern about access to safe drinking water, damage to cassava and banana fields, and poisoned fish. From a previous oil spill, "Mothers said children and adults in their families are suffering from stomachaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, and small children have skin rashes after bathing in the rivers." Or, you know, since the Democrat media probably doesn't care, maybe start tuning into other media more.

Anti-environment right-wingers, Hillary fanatics, where have you been?

Can we stop patting ourselves on the back for ending slavery and actually end it already?

From right-wing libertarians and Austrian economists, I often hear how capitalism ended chattel slavery. The more mainstream view seems to be that the Civil War ended it. While it's great that around 4 million slaves were in fact freed (still persecuted and without reparations, but, progress was made), that's not quite the same as truly ending chattel slavery, worldwide, or even just eliminating it from our own economy.

So, if we ended slavery, why is there an estimated 45 million slaves in the world today? Why are Hershey and Nestle not only permitted to sell chocolate made with slave labor, but are not even liable for failing to disclose this to their customers?

Historically, there was an attempt to use capitalism to end American slavery. A portion of the abolitionist movement, the "free produce" movement, wanted to boycott slave-made products. In an enlightened society, I believe it could have worked. Enough people boycotting slave-made products, and hopefully the slavers would, if not go out of business entirely, at least weaken enough to make slave revolts and escapes easier. But it would've had nothing to do with this myth that free-labor is more economically efficient, at least for raw material production, than slave labor. Apparently, "the prices [of free produce] were always unsustainably higher than the slave produced goods they were trying to replace". For it to work would've required a change in societal enlightenment -- our understanding of manners and etiquette -- to encourage consumers to act against their financial self-interest.

scars from after a slave escape attempt
Zooming in on modern chattel slavery in the chocolate industry, since it is relatively well-documented compared to some industries, chocolate farmers on the Ivory Coast make an average of under $2 per day, so to remain competitive, they often rely on child slaves who may have been tricked, sold, or kidnapped. Says one former slave, "Some of the bags were taller than me. It took two people to put the bag on my head. And when you didn’t hurry, you were beaten," and, "The beatings were a part of my life. Anytime they loaded you with bags and you fell while carrying them, nobody helped you. Instead, they beat you and beat you until you picked it up again," and "I was afraid. The beatings were a part of my life. I had seen others who tried to escape. When they tried, they were severely beaten." Another said, "When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh." Another, "He tied me behind my back with rope and beat me with a piece of wood. Then he took a small gun, and said, `I'm going to kill you and dump you in a well.'"

Said a witness of what he saw upon visiting one farm along with police, "Except one child was not there. This one, his face showed what was happening. He was sick, he had (excrement) in his pants. He was lying on the ground, covered with cacao leaves because they were sure he was dying. He was almost dead. . . . He had been severely beaten."

While slavery isn't strictly speaking an environmentalist cause, it does overlap. Both organic and fair trade certification are widely believed to provide strong protection against the possibility that a product contains slave labor. Others suggest that the protection is even greater for "single origin" or "direct trade" (which also often happen to have organic certification too). Ultimately, the greater the amount of oversight, or alternatively the shorter the supply chain, and the better the price paid, the greater the chance that the product is slave free. While insisting on buying slave free products, so far as you can tell, in industries where certifications exist, is of course not the only way to fight slavery, and, arguably, not even the highest impact way, objections that I hear have nothing to do with preferring a different method, and more to do with either unwillingness to pay the extra price ("I'm too poor" even from people who make over $100k per year) or confusion about what slavery means and too much laziness to do the research ("child labor, well, wouldn't they just starve if we didn't buy the product?"). For whatever reason, I've noticed, that the people I meet who are most willing to change their consumer habits to try to combat slavery are also the most willing to change their consumer habits to reduce their environmental impact.

Those of you who advocate for economic systems of "voluntary interactions" and those of you who say you care about "minority rights", if you have not taken a stand on modern chattel slavery, then where have you been?

Mineral rights -- eminent domain for oil and gas drillers, only worse

Who has been standing up for the rights of farmers and ranchers on good, homesteaded country land? Certainly not the Republican party (maybe a few individuals, but, most definitely not George Bush). Not the libertarians either if a search on and for "mineral rights" is any indication. Nor Obama nor Hillary, though I suppose it was never their demographic unless you still believe the Democratic party cares about the environment or disabled people, in which case it should overlap. So who has been standing up for country landowners? Environmentalists!
Unwelcome drilling rig violating homesteaded land

Drilling pad versus house, Source: Split Estate
In 2009, environmentalists released the film "Split Estate", which contains numerous interviews with country landowners among other relevant information. A "Split Estate" is when one party ones the surface rights, and another owns the mineral rights, and, in many western states, this includes the right to access the minerals without permission or regard for the surface owner. A legal concept that has no bearing on any version of homesteading or natural land rights I've ever heard of. Many of these landowners speak of air pollution, water pollution, ground contamination, strange and gruesome illnesses.

Now, I realize there are many varied views on homesteading and land ownership, but we aren't talking about some unobtrusive teleporter from Star Trek that can magically access the resources without affecting the surface where people live and farm. Nor are we talking about descendants of historical victims seeking redress for past wrongs. Nor refugees just trying to find a place to survive. These are aggressive corporations, acting with the permission of the government, coercing the locals with unwanted development on their land, poisoning them, and making them sick, so they can get rich. It's a massive subsidy measured not in tax dollars but in land, air, water, health, and life. And it's worse than eminent domain because they don't even have to buy the surface owner off.

Flaming tap water, source: Gasland
The environmentalist tradition of protecting landowners continued when Josh Fox, a landowner in mineral rights, forced pooling, and sometimes more traditional eminent domain, the focus of the films Josh Fox makes is more on the community wide effects of land and water pollution and resulting health problems and the level of fraud perpetrated by the gas industry. Even if the drill isn't on your land (and it very well might be, whether you like it or not) the pollution can still get there and cause dire problems. Like Split Estate, Josh Fox's Gasland (2010) and Gasland 2 (2013) documentaries contain numerous interviews with landowners.
Pennsylvania, received a request for drilling rights on his land. Though the gas industry does use a variety of ways to override homesteaded land ownership such as

If homesteading, natural land rights, or public health are issues for you, but you haven't taken a stance regarding mineral rights, forced pooling, eminent domain, and community-wide pollution, or, worse, have taken a pro-drilling stance, then where have you been?

Whomever is out there who still believes in some level of free speech should cheer on Australian Green senator Scott Ludlam
Source: youtube, The Australian Greens

Political labels like liberal, conservative, and libertarian seem to have little power to predict someone's oft self-contradictory opinions on freedom of speech versus censorship these days. In any case, there's some terrible things happening to whistleblowers in Western nations lately, as Australian Green senator Scott Ludlam pointed out in his speech, including mention of the American whistleblower Bradley Manning who has been caged like an animal. Looking at some of the related news, it looks like, "Border Force Act could see immigration detention centre workers jailed for whistleblowing" and "The Act was passed with bipartisan support, with only the Greens opposing it." It appears that in spite of this law, some whistleblowers later risked potential jailtime to report rape and child abuse (which should be a reminder to us all of the importance of free speech) going on in immigration detention centres at the hands of authorities, and this was published by non-Australian news outlets... probably because in Australia, journalists who publish leaks can also be jailed, even if it is in the public interest. Ludlam has also fought passionately against data retention laws, even appearing as himself on the Juice Media's satirical Rap News. Unfortunately, the fight was unsuccessful, but Ludlam provided helpful tips on how Australians can protect their privacy in spite of these laws.

So, the award to the most pro-free-speech (and all the human rights protection that goes with that) party in Australia goes to the Greens. To those Australians identify as supporting free speech, but did not cheer for them, where have you been?

Anti-war folks, how about we attempt to end war in our own countries too, not only abroad?

protestor injured by grenade
The Greens have a strong history of anti-war advocacy. In the United States, Green presidential candidate Jill Stein slammed Hillary as being even scarier than Trump, based on Hillary's terrifying history of warmongering and potential to start a conflict with Russia, a nuclear superpower. In Australia, Green senator Scott Ludlam pointed out the stupidity of allowing the Prime Minister to declare war unilaterally, and criticizes the Syrian war efforts by both Australia and the United States, quoting Wikileaks as evidence. "Nobody has clean hands, and yet it is the people of Syria who have paid the price."

While Libertarians also have a strong history of opposition to wars abroad, what about wars at home against our own populations?

In the United States, for example, we have a long history of violence against American Indians. We have another chapter of this playing out in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests right now, where Standing Rock Sioux and their allies fight for their land and the water for millions of people. We're seeing tear gas, baton bashings, mace, concussion grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons being used against a people whose claims to sovereignty the government has repeatedly attempted to ignore or buy off. While it is hopeful to see that they do not stand alone this time, it is also disheartening to see that even in this digital age where we can see video footage online, there are still so many who would rather see the pipeline company win.

To be fair, I have seen a few libertarian objections to DAPL, but where have the rest of you been?