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New article by Paul LeMoyne posted May 16.

Posted May 28, 2020.

Ronn Neff: Solution! Liquor stores that were closed in Pennsylvania are starting to reopen. Not a one went out of business. And all of them are owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

What lesson can we learn from this, comrades? Let's get government to own all businesses. Then it can close them any time it wants for any goofy reason it wants, and no one will get hurt.

Right? Ω

Posted May 25, 2020.

Ronn Neff: The choice between the free market and the controlled economy can be summed up in the choice between the Invisible Hand and the Visible Fist. Ω

Nicholas Strakon: Motes and beams. At the Rockwell site, Gary D. Barnett writes: "The Pleasures of Life Are Being Destroyed by the Criminal State and Its Enforcers" (May 25, 2020).

It got me thinking. Isn't it remarkable that the statrons — who cannot distinguish between state and society — often accuse partisans of Liberty of wanting to dissolve society into its constituent atoms, resulting in "atomistic individualism"?

All I can say is: Matthew 7:3-5. Ω

Modine Herbey: Have you seen 'em wearing masks outdoors? The infantilization of adults has been going on for decades in this country. The masking mania is one of the more breathtaking results.

(Pun intended.) Ω

Posted May 24, 2020.

Ronn Neff: Stealing holidays. On May 23, NPR announced that on Memorial Day this year they would be honoring those who had died ...

... from the Wuhan virus.

Now, I'm not big on militaristic holidays, but I do think that the way to observe a holiday is to observe IT, not something else you'd rather think of.

If you want to honor the Wuhan dead, come up with a Wuhan Day or Mourning or something. But then, as Sarah Knox Taylor's series "Lost Causes" (TLD, vol II, nos. 1-3) taught us, when the Left wants something similar to what exists, it does not create its own. It steals what it finds and puts it to other uses. Ω

Posted May 21, 2020.

Tony Pivetta: "Social distancing" is just Latter Day American Imperium code for "divide and conquer." Ω

Ronn Neff: I had an appointment with my nephrologist yesterday. Normally, the outdoor lot is full and I have to go into the garage to find parking. Yesterday, I had no problem finding parking in the lot.

A sign on the medical building (attached to a hospital) indicated that the door was locked on Sunday and open only about eight hours a day. Formerly, it was open 24 hours. And the information office was completely closed.

I had to wait for an elevator only a few seconds, and my wife and I were the only ones waiting. Normally, there are seven or eight people waiting and the wait can be a minute or two. (For some reason, it always seems that one of the two elevators is out of service.)

The doctor's waiting room had no one in it, and we were taken in at once, even though we were about 10 minutes early. Both facts were unprecedented. (Well, all three. We aren't normally that early.)

From these observations, I provisionally conclude that people are not keeping the appointments they made with their doctors three or six months ago. People are not going to see their doctors.

I wonder how many people have died BECAUSE of the lockdowns? We know that suicide and domestic-violence rates are high.

It's all to be expected, isn't it? Poverty kills. Unemployment creates poverty. The lockdown has created unemployment. I wonder which will end up killing more people ... the virus or the lockdowns? Ω

Posted May 20, 2020.

Ronn Neff: Dry run for the Wuhan virus. The following is from the December 1994 issue of The Last Ditch:

In the Washington, D.C., area early this past year, natural adversity precipitated three "incidental inefficiency" crises within about a 30-day period. During the fierce winter storms, for which Southern cities are never prepared, Washington Gas warned that unless people turned down their thermostats, it would not be able to maintain heating levels. The mayor decreed that any nonessential businesses remaining open on a certain day would be fined $2,000. (Her office supplied the definition of "essential," and it did not include restaurants that fed people who had been unable, because of the ice, to get to grocery stores.) Ω
Nicholas Strakon: Fred Reed's take on what Ronn Neff and I would call "polite totalitarianism" appeared on May 16 at the Lew Rockwell site, in a reposting from the Unz Review:
"A Bicephalous Monoparty and the Four Pillars / Totalitarianism for Dummies." Ω
Posted May 18, 2020.

Ronn Neff: Social dissonancing. I went to a park the other day and noticed that because of the Wuhan virus the tennis courts were closed.

Why? Don't people who play tennis normally stay more than 6 feet apart? Are there ever more than four people on a court at a time? I could understand closing basketball courts, now that basketball has become a contact sport. And polo or jai-alai fields. But tennis?

It led me to wonder: Are the rich allowed to use the tennis courts on their estates? Is playing tennis on those courts somehow safer? Ω

Posted May 16, 2020.

Ronn Neff: Entrepreneurs to the rescue. I recently paid a visit to my favorite carry-outs — one a Lebanese cafe that seats maybe a dozen people, and the other a German delicatessen that seats only about half a dozen. Both are now forbidden by the ukases of Virginia Revolutionary Leader Ralph Northam to seat anyone, but both have found a profitable use for their tables (other than to stack their chairs on them).

Both outlets now sell toilet paper, which is "shelved" on the tables. The Lebanese cafe even sells paper towels and sanitizers. The brand names are unfamiliar to me, though I am a lifelong user of toilet paper, and I have no idea who their suppliers are. The prices are reasonable, if slightly higher than those that used to be found in grocery stores. The stock is ample.

Neither outlet is trumpeting its service to neighborhoods "in these uncertain times." Neither of them claims to be meeting "the challenge" of our new way of life. They're just putting to new use capital (tables) to sell needed items in an effort to recover some of their losses.

I know of no government office that is putting its unused desks to any similar use. Ω

Paul LeMoyne: Reason Magazine has recently published a favorable account of the Ninth Circuit's decision that YouTube was merely exercising its rights of private property and free speech in hiding certain videos with an undesirable political slant from users who take advantage of their "restricted mode" viewing service.

"Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown," wrote Reason, reminded the plaintiffs (and, by extension, everyone else) "that the Constitution protects individuals only from government censorship."

While the ruling may be correct in a technical sense, Reason and Libertarian 101 readers should at the very least have asked themselves when the 9th Circuit had ever before been so eager to defend either property rights or a strict constructionist reading of the Constitution.

It may be that when the enemies of Liberty use the rhetoric of Liberty to advance their attacks on it, libertarians can find no refutation. But they are under no obligation to trumpet the hypocrisy and pat those in bad faith on the head and say, "Nice doggie."

It is they who are then the lapdogs. Ω

Posted May 14, 2020.

Ronn Neff: Clarifying matters. TLD wishes to offer the following uncopyrighted text free of charge to all commercial entities in compliance with the edicts of local dictators and to their advertising agencies:

In order to serve you better, we are reducing ...

our hours
our services
and product availability.
We thank you for your cooperation. Ω

Nicholas Strakon: In Indiana, Dictator Eric Holcomb is now graciously permitting restaurants to resume dine-in service — at half-occupancy.

One place I used to go to, before our rulers imposed their Great Suppression, recommends that would-be patrons call to make a reservation.

The trouble is, I'm not likely to call Jimbo's Cheeseburg Hut, or any of the other down-home places I mostly used to patronize, to make a damn reservation.

In my county seat of Huntington, Ind., Nick's Kitchen — regionally famous as the birthplace of the breaded-tenderloin sandwich — has decided, Naaa, we'll stick with curbside service, thanks very much.

If you're an old "Seinfeld" fan, you may remember when an aggrieved George Costanza cried out, "We live in a SOCIETY!" The bizarre technocratic decrees emitted by statrons such as Holcomb make me wonder whether they have ever actually lived in a society. Ω

Posted May 11, 2020.

Ronn Neff: Sheep's clothing. I'm happy that Walmart is able to stay open. It sells groceries and is therefore deemed to be "essential," even though it also sells toys, clothes, and household knick-knacks.

At the same time, its many competitors in the small-business world that are not also grocery stores must remain closed, giving Walmart a decided advantage over them.

Moreover, consider the Walmart in Tazewell, Virginia (population, a little over 4,000). Because of its size, its managers were able to come up with an algorithm that permits it to allow 2,000 customers inside at a time.

It is a fine example of how a government/business "partnership" creates a fascist tyranny that looks like a free market in action. Ω

Posted April 30, 2020.

In a recent post on Facebook, Robert Higgs cites William Graham Sumner to good effect:

I ran across someone earlier today wondering how long it would take to return to the pre-crisis situation. The short answer, I believe, is that no such return will ever be made. Yes, some things will probably go back toward where they were in, say, January 2020, but many things will not return fully, if at all.

In the late nineteenth century, the great classical liberal sociologist William Graham Sumner aptly observed (I quote from memory), "You cannot experiment with a society and just drop the experiment whenever you choose. The experiment enters into the life of the society and never can be got out again."

The present experiments are pervasive and far-reaching. I do not think that they can all be reversed, and I fear that the lasting changes will be, for the most part, for the worse so far as freedom lovers are concerned. [End of post.]

Sumner's observation appears in his essay "Laissez-Faire," posted by Liberty Fund's Online Library of Liberty. Ω
Posted April 27, 2020.

Nicholas Strakon: Breaking states. At VDare, Hank Johnson writes: "Coronavirus Policy Clashes Yet Another Indication That U.S. States Are Too Big" (April 26, 2020).

I don't expect to see any U.S. states break up before the final collapse of everything, but this is a useful piece containing much interesting info. Ω

Ronn Neff: A number of grocery stores and convenience stores here in Northern Trantor (all right, Northern Virginia) have erected see-through shields between customers and check-out clerks.

Does this mean that liquor stores in black neighborhoods will be permitted to restore their bulletproof glass protecting their employees from overzealous customers? Ω

Ronn Neff: Pakistani imams are smarter than D.C. bishops!

"Imams Overrule Pakistan's Coronavirus Lockdown as Ramadan Nears" (New York Times, April 24, 2020). Ω
Nicholas Strakon: Wasn't "normal" already bad enough? Robert Higgs's ratchet effect and Ronn Neff's polite totalitarianism are working hand in hand, as endorsed here by two of leviathan's little friends:
"Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal," by Jack Goldsmith (Harvard Law School professor) and Andrew Keane Woods, The Atlantic, April 25, 2020.

Subtitle: "In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong."

Yeah, these guys seem to be serious.

I was alerted to the piece by a link on Facebook posted by Jeff Deist of the Mises Institute. Deist provides a little excerpt, prefaced by an appropriate comment:

This is gross:

"Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society's norms and values." Ω

Posted April 23, 2020.

Ronn Neff: The Archdiocese of Washington has sent out an appeal for funds. It seems they are running short of money.

Gee whiz! Did they forget that when they canceled public masses, they also canceled taking up collections?

My prediction: Now that 20 million people are unemployed and not making any money, you can expect a lot of churches to start sending out "meditations" on the Widow and Her Mite. Ω

Ronn Neff: Again to the Archidocese: That's what happens when you obey secular masters. The main job of a Bishop is to administer the Sacraments, not to function as the state's lickspittle. Ω

Ronn Neff: A call to Virginians! Read your flag. Ω

What do you think?
"Stop and think" archive.

TLD is a forum of opinion, edited by hard-core market anarchists, that does not flinch from any of the most pressing issues of our time. We are especially interested in questions of culture and ethnicity, our Polite Totalitarian ruling class, and the homicidal humanitarianism of the U.S. Empire.

Our writers include anarcho-pessimists, Old Believers in the West, unreconstructed Confederates, neo-Objectivists, and other enemies of the permanent regime. We are conscientiously indifferent to considerations of thoughtcrime. Thus, from individualist and Euro-American perspectives, we confront the end of civilization — and do our level best to name its destroyers. (More about who we are.)

— Nicholas Strakon, editor-in-chief
Ronald N. Neff, senior editor

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General e-mail to The Ditch: (Please note change from old "thornwalker" address.)

"If this government cared about ideas, it would crack down on The Last Ditch. It could be called The Joy of Thinking."

Joe Sobran

"Whoever said 'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty' didn't realize it, but he was thinking of The Last Ditch."

— Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance

Permanently recommended readings

"What Is Austrian Economics?" (Mises Institute)
"I, Pencil," by Leonard E. Read (Liberty Fund;
scroll down for text)
"The Epistemological Basis of Anarchism,"
by Roy A. Childs, Jr. (TLD)
"Polite totalitarianism," by Ronald N. Neff (TLD)

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Please note that Thornwalker is only the "landlord" for The Last Ditch. WTM Enterprises is solely responsible for all design and content on this site.

Nicholas Strakon