Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Books You Should Be Reading Number 44 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley

If the first half of the twentieth century was the era of the technical engineers, the second half may well be the era of the social engineers' - and the twenty-first century, I suppose, will be the era of Wold Controllers, the scientific caste-system and Brave New World. To the question quis custodiet custodes - who will mount guard over out guardians, who will engineer the engineers? - the answer is a bland denial that they need any supervision. There seems to be a touching belief among certain Ph.D.s in sociology that Ph.D.s in sociology will never be corrupted by power. Like Sir Galahad's, their strength is as the strength of ten because they are scientists and have taken six thousand hours of social studies.


This is a fascinating book (and not just for Huxley's quaint ignorance of the fact that the phrase "they are scientists and have taken six thousand hours of social studies" is an oxymoron). It's a series of small, interconnected essays written twenty years after the publication of Brave New World, where Huxley says, in essence, "Well, that happened faster than I thought it would..."

It helps to have read Brave New World first, but isn't entirely necessary, as Huxley summarises all of the important parts to which he refers.

If one did want to read Brave New World Revisited, the entire book is offered online, in the link above...

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Day Today - 23rd June 2008

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

Since he could well be the next President of the United States, this is important. John McCain's memoirs of his time in North Vietnamese captivity - hat tip Reason.

Ron Paul has wrapped up his campaign - an assessment.

Christian E-Cards.

Christopher Hitchens shows how it is done. And succeeds! According to most sources Dr Cooke would have lost to Dr Craig (I didn't go because Dr Craig would not have changed my atheism, so there was little point) had the debates been scored. I think some of the criticism of Dr Cooke misses just what points he was trying to make (according to the reviews) and why. Author of Confusion through M & M accurately points out that So overall it didn’t really seem like Cooke came to debate.

Speaking very generally, your average Evangelical Christian would have no contact with non-religious texts and minimal contact with non-religious people. We are, after all, bound for the lake of fire, and are dangerous to the extent that we could lead people away from Christianity (see the second link above)! So,from an atheist point of view, what better opportunity for a bit of P.R. - with a captive audience of several hundred Christians - to point out that atheists and humanists are not all baby-eating monsters, but often quite civil folk who share many "common moral decencies" (that's the first and last time I will use that phrase)against theft and murder who despite our differences on the God question are prepared to work with like-minded folk on issues that concern us.

Zombies! Just so you know, "The Happening is not "The Day After Tomorrow"...with plants." It is a B Movie.

CNN: So a lot of people are going to see this and say, "Is this an environment movie?" Are you sending an Al Gore-like message out here, or is it just a thriller?

Shyamalan: No. 1, it's a B movie. This is the best B movie you will ever see, that's it. That's what this is. If there's other things that stick to your ribs as you walk out, that's great, but it's supposed to be, you know, zombies eating flesh.

CNN: So when you say B, you don't mean honeybee?

Shyamalan: No, I meant like, you know, zombies and killer things running around.

This is teh funny. An English Professor is preparing to sue because her students were unreceptive of "French narrative theory." "They'd argue with your ideas." !

Stephen Fry on when he first saw Doctor Who.

The week before we moved, the BBC started a new drama, starring William Hartnell. An old man, whose name appeared to be Grandfather or the Doctor, had a police phone box of the kind we saw in the street all the time in those days. It turned out to be a magical and unimaginably wonderful time machine. My brother and I watched this drama in complete amazement. The first ever episode of Doctor Who. I had never been so excited in all my life. A whole week to wait to watch the next instalment. Never have seven days crawled so slowly by, for all that they involved a complicated house move from Buckinghamshire to Norfolk. A week later, in that new house, my brother and I turned on the good old television set in its new sitting room, ready to watch Episode 2. The TV had been damaged in transit and was never to work again. We missed that episode and nothing that has transpired in my life since has ever, or could ever, make up for that terrible, terrible disappointment. There is an empty space inside me that can never be filled. It is amazing neither of us were turned into psychopathic serial killers from that moment.

More women having premarital sex equals less HIV.

This innocent enough posting by Psycho Milt turned into a fascinating mini-tutorial on warfare and insurgency, with a guest appearance by Paul Buchanan. Fascinating must-read stuff.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

Conversation with a Year 11:

“You lie all the time, Sir.”
“I never lie. If you can believe that.”
“For such a short person, you’re filled with a lot of lies.”
“Here, just because you’re six feet tall doesn’t mean I’m short!”
“Sir, when you say you’re not short, you’re just lying again.”

Conversation with an ex-student:

“Were you guarding the gate at the performance a few nights back?”
“Yes. Why?”
“My brother went to the performance, and he came home and asked me ‘Who was that man teacher on the gate? The white one?’ I actually didn’t think of you for ages; You’re just as bunga as the rest of us."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

Saw on the news tonight, a special report on the good things about Manurewa.

Now, far from calling the news liars (although if the suburb that housed Hewligan for almost two decades wasn’t poisoned before he lived there...), it does remind me of last week, after the school's big drama thing...

I’m waiting with the last student to be picked up. It’s around quarter past midnight, and quite cold, so when headlights pull into the street, we’re both hopeful it’s her mother. It turns out, instead, to be a carload of young men offering to sell us drugs. We politely turn them down, and they drive off. My kid looks at me.
“This neighborhood’s no good, man,” she says.
“Ah, there are worse places than this,” I reply pleasantly.
“’Rewa.” We say simultaneously.
“Where I live,” my girl continues sadly, looking at the ground.

It's just sort of depressing sometimes...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

As every practising teacher understands, resistance is a necessary factor in teaching. Soft non-resistant material takes an imprint very readily only to lose it again very quickly. Easy pupils make teaching slipshod. The difficulty but also the soundness of teaching increases with the amount of reaction in the learner. And also resistance involves a certain amount of collaboration; the thing learnt becomes a resultant, incorporating elements introduced in the struggle. It is easier to carve cheese than a good piece of wood; every piece of wood has a bias, it has to be delt with on its own terms, it has to be managed and humoured, but in the end there is no comparison in the quality and interest between carved cheese and woodcarving.

-HG Wells, The Shape of Things to Come

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

T’other day, I received word that one of my form class had a detention. I politely enquired as to the reason for it, and she wouldn’t tell me. She would only reveal her transgressions after I physically sat on my hands, because my word that I wouldn’t lunge at her and try to kill her simply wasn’t good enough.

And yes, I know corporal punishment was outlawed almost twenty years ago, but that was mainly about caning and strapping; the law is vague about throttling.

(Disclaimer: The law is surprisingly clear about throttling. Do not try this at home. Unless you’ve got Year 10s, in which case I’m living proof that it works, so go ahead and give it a go.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

One day during a poetry study, doing a close analysis of that masterpiece of English verse: Woo Hah (Got You All In Check) by Busta Rhymes:

“Mister, what’s Moet?”
“A particularly expensive French wine.”
“And what’s Cisco?”
“A particularly cheap American beer. Essentially what Busta Rhymes is saying in this line is that he is happy to forgo the fancy beverages, and will settle for the low-class, cheaper alternative.”
“But Mister, didn’t he do that song Pass The Courvoisier about how he wanted really nice cognac?”
“He did. And what does that tell us?”
“He changed, he’s a sellout.”
“Very good.”

Yes, I am the best teacher ever, thanks for asking.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

“Sir, can you come and look at the paragraph I’ve written?”
“I would, but I’ve just discovered that my laptop has Minesweeper...”

I’m not sure, but I think that after a year at this new school, I may be losing my edge somewhat...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

apathyjack version monkeypointoh online

Apathy Jack writes:

Evening all. Been offline for well over a month essentially for no reason other than I'm not so good at putting computers back together. I'll post something of my usual calibre again in the next day or so (no no, try to contain your applause - you'll make it look rehearsed) but for the time being, I figured I'd give the few of you still lingering around here something needlessly long to read. So, behind the cut is something I wrote last year, but never posted because, you know, it was too self-indulgent. But I figure after a month and a half of almost total silence, I can post what I want, and no one will notice.


You know, I’m beginning to get the feeling people think I’m not coping...

After I wrote this a very close friend of mine emailed me with real concern suggesting I get counselling. Now, this was remarkable not only because he is, in his own words, a constant smartarse, who had to break character to express his concern, but also because he hates counselling and the whole mentality behind it.

A few days later, a student told me that when I smiled, it didn’t reach my eyes...

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty good.

Am I still fucked up over leaving Hoodrat? Certainly. But that probably needs clarification.

I can, without expending more than a few seconds of brain-time, name half a dozen teachers – good teachers; most of them better than me – who were driven out of teaching by their time there. Didn’t go to another school, but actually jumped from the profession, pausing on their way out only long enough to make sure that everyone knew exactly where the blame lay. There were kids in Year 11 who, by the time I left, were onto their eighth English teacher. That’s eight separate teachers in two-and-a-bit years. Stats compiled in the last year or two showed that of the Year 13s, only thirty percent or so had been at the school in Year 9. This means that seventy percent of the students left, either for other schools, external courses, or, I don’t know, prison via the Dole office, and were replaced with kids who had been forced out of their first (and occasionally second, and more than once; third) schools.

And every year, we watched it get worse.

When I first started at Hoodrat, I was surrounded by an array of absolutely magnificent teachers – many of whom are now Deputy Principals around Auckland – and they all left, saying exactly the same thing (and I mean exactly: these people were friends, and had discussed the matter at length): Hoodrat was a good school, and, with the particular mix of staff and students, it had the potential to become a great school. However; after years of trying, they realised that they were unable to achieve this potential, so one by one they left.

But over the years, Hoodrat stopped being even a good school. We could see it happening, and a few of us tried to arrest the slide, but we couldn’t.

I mean, let’s go with Friday-before-last, where I ended up back at Hoodrat to run an errand. Story time:

Getting off the bus, I run into a group of students wandering out of the gates because, you know, school is boring. Walking past another bunch of aimless students, to the Marae, I am accosted by members of my old Classics class. They spend Classics there now, under the watchful eye of the Maori teacher, looking over the study notes I sent them a few weeks back. One gets a text from one of the several students who have actually gone to class. My replacement has walked out because the students won’t stop discussing adultery (this is not the first time he has left rather than face teenagers talking about sex – keep in mind he’s meant to be teaching them about the ancient Greeks...) and one of my boys is teaching the class.

I lose count of the students I greet on the two-minute journey to my old classroom – well over a dozen just roaming the corridors; and that’s not counting the two full classes that have simply been released over quarter of an hour before the bell is scheduled to ring. Threading my way through a maze of desks created by half a dozen students being exiled into the corridor, I burst into the room, announcing something English-teacherly like “Oi! I heard yous needed a teacher, ay.”

Non-entity that he is, it actually takes me a few seconds to register that my replacement, obviously having returned, is sitting at his desk. Any guilt I may have felt at so extravagant a faux pas is, of course, offset by the fact that by the time I see him, I’ve already noticed that yes, my boy is teaching the class, and he’s teaching them English.

I yell a goodbye, and go to sit in the back of a Dance class. It is being taken by the Drama Teacher, because, as she informs the class, the Dance Teacher is off somewhere in tears. The Drama Teacher is working the class furiously to get them up to spec for a forthcoming assessment, and at the same time taking calls from her tearful co-worker. As the students furiously step and turn, they are told that they are to be nice to the Dance Teacher when she arrives; that it’s not because of them she’s in such a state; it’s not because of them she’s leaving at the end of the year. And it’s not because of them that the other Dance teacher is leaving. Or the other Drama teacher, also exiting at the end of term. They all have their own reasons; nothing to do with the students.

“But I’m not going anywhere,” the Drama Teacher says with real tiredness in her voice. “I’m not leaving you.”

After the bell, I catch up with a few of mine, and deal with fallout from various crises. Not the least of which is that it’s just become public knowledge that The Creator is leaving at the end of the year.

On my way out, I get to talking to an old member of my form class. Well behaved and, when we last talked, the epitome of hard work, she tells me stories of being on daily report and getting stood-down. She tells me stories of conversations with my replacement; she’s an honest kid, so I know she’s not fronting when she reports saying things like “Fuck you, you can’t handle us!” She also tells me of the time the biggest boy in my class punched my replacement in the crotch, and was not punished.

So yeah, a typical day at Hoodrat High.

The staff who stayed for more than a year fell into two categories: hopelessly burned-out losers who were too afraid to try to get a job somewhere else (no, that wasn’t me, damn it!) and increasingly unhappy idealists who hated everything except the kids.

The students who stayed became close to us, because we were their best chance at an actual honest-to-god education. I had students tell me I was the only teacher who they had learned something from – students who had never actually been in my class, but through the years that they had a new teacher every term, or had inarguably incompetent clowns who couldn’t tell Shakespeare from a Bacon sandwich, I was the one who kept coming into their class to check on them, to make sure everything was running smoothly...

It’s sort of hard to explain how close you can get to people in that sort of situation. Staff and students alike became sort of like burned-out Vietnam vets; you know, not talking about it with anyone except each other; screaming out: “You don’t know, man! You weren’t there!” at random passers-by. I know that sounds at the least a bit dumb, and at the most quite comedically melodramatic, but, well... you don’t know, man, you weren’t there.

Like drugs, I guess: the lows were unspeakably horrible, but the highs made you forget about them. And, of course, like drugs, the highs were always shorter than the lows...

Like I said in that other post, while many of the experiences I had at Hoodrat were certainly not good, they were intense. Hell, the really interesting shit I got up to there, I’ve never blogged about. While a lot of it is the sort of stuff that could tip my stories from “that guy’s a weirdo, but he’s an interesting weirdo” to “holy, shit, that’s like in movies!”, it’s also stuff that could have gotten me fired if any of my less sympathetic workmates found out about it. (And by sympathetic, I don’t mean “who liked me”, I mean “who understood how things had to work at Hoodrat” – another one of those “you weren’t there” things, I guess...) Hell, there’re a few things that were serious enough breaches of professional conduct that even my new employers probably shouldn’t find out about them, just in case.

Was it hard to leave that? Yes. Especially given that I left in a hurry – I made the decision to leave on a Friday, and had accepted another job by the following Tuesday. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I made promises to the Hoodrat kids. Like the Drama Teacher, I promised them, that I would be there for them, that I would make sure they were alright.

And sure, I was just a teacher, and the world is still turning without me, but you know what? To hell with four or five kids standing on their desks and saying ‘Oh Captain my Captain’ – two students dropped out of Hoodrat on my last day, specifically because I left. I never mentioned that one because it sounded too implausible; like I’ve said in the past, the best stories I have are the ones no one would ever believe. Sure, like everyone, the stories I tell about myself are designed to cast me in a good light, make me the hero of my narrative, but they also happen to be entirely true. At the New School I’m just some guy who could never live up to the reputation he arrived with – and I’m surprisingly fine with that - but at Hoodrat, I was what I said I was, and I really made a difference in the lives of a lot of those kids. An old mentor of mine said that you need a lot of faith in teaching; that the effects of what you do may not be evident on the students for years, and they may never consciously acknowledge them But at Hoodrat I slept the sleep of the just every night with empirical evidence I was changing lives – even if only slightly – for the better.

Now, I had to leave for my own sanity; I was angry every single day. When I was actually teaching, I was happy, but every other second of every day – from when I woke up to when I went to sleep – I was angry at the Management of Hoodrat, and what they were doing to the education of my kids. I miss some of my old workmates; I look around the New School and think “Wow, think what (insert-name-of-Hoodrat-loyalist) could do with these resources/this pack of kids/whatever I’ve found that day”. And of course I miss the students. Sometimes I miss them so much it’s like a physical weight, and putting one foot in front of the other seems an impossible effort. But not even for one second in the last several months have I missed Hoodrat High as an institution.

It was the right thing to do to leave: I’m having a good time at the New School and there’s an interesting bunch of kids, whose futures I’ve already planned for them. I can see myself spending a couple of years here – if I don’t die of boredom from the lack of gang-fights, anyway. Hell, I wasn’t going to be of much more use to the Hoodrat students; spectacularly self-destructing some time in term three might have been pleasantly messy, but it wouldn’t have helped them get any credits.

Which is a needlessly long way of saying that I’m pretty good. I have bad days. But they’re mainly due to my famous lack of coping mechanisms rather than any real problems – and they are fewer and further between all the time. The rest of the time: I have a good job, I have many good friends, I live in a nice house with flatmates who like talking about books, and I have a beautiful girlfriend whose taste in men is so bad that she thinks I’m quite the catch.

Sometimes, though, the bad days leak onto the blog. You may have to live with that, but most of the time you probably won’t.

Of course, just by way of a coda: The other day, I had a long meeting with one of the New School’s broken-student-specialists about one of my form class. She started to list the problems this kid has – and just didn’t stop talking. This kid doesn’t have one problem, or even a bunch of problems spoking out from one original issue; this isn’t dominoes, it’s a multi-car pile up. Clearing my head from that, and another of mine came to tell me how upset she is over the disappearance of one of our girls. I don’t teach her – I don’t know her – but she’s vanished, and her family and friends are worried about her, and just want to know if she’s alright. I went to my class, and sat there, letting the students get up to more than they should because it was last period and my head was still spinning slightly. One of the girls asked if she could go to the bathroom, and I waved an acknowledgment. As she started to leave, one of her friends asked her how to do part of the work. She sat back down. “It’s okay, Sir,” she called out to me. “I didn’t really need to go to the toilet – I just wanted to go for a walk, but now I’ll do this.”

I tell you, kids, it felt like coming home...

Party Political Broadcast

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

As regular, or even intermittent, (since postings to Brain Stab are now very intermittent) readers of Brain Stab are aware, your correspondent is a libertarian as is evidenced here for example. I hold my political opinions with love, and the second most painful thing to me (behind seeing them inexpertly defended) is seeing them inexpertly attacked. Such a travesty occurred in last week's edition of "Craccum". Sadly, Craccum's website has not been updated in four and a half months(!) and so I reprint below the opinions of "Doug and Matt H" with my comments following that:

~~ Take a vacation from reality in fabulous libertopia! ~~

There's an election on the horizon. You may have heard. And there's
only one political party in New Zealand committed to liberty,
freedom, and individual rights. Libertarianz - the New Zealand party
of Principle. Too bad they're batshit insane.

Initially, you may think that the ACT party and Libertarianz are more
or less identical - but there are a few key differences. To begin
with, ACT got more than 946 votes in the last election. Secondly, ACT
is (according to Libertarianz) not "rational" enough. Yes that's
right - there is a political party with more regressive and harmful
policies than ACT! ACT is to Libertarianz as to what Pepsi Max is to
liquid cancer - a more consumable form of evil.

The cornerstone of the entire Libertarianz philosophy is that people
will always act in their own rational self interest, and that THE
MARKET will take care of any shortfalls in the supply or demand of,
well, anything. Not just goods, such as delicious ham or pure strain
gold bullion, but more abstract products and services, like
health care and education. THE MARKET will decide what schools teach,
and who owns them. If you think poor AUTU has a hard time claiming
legitimacy, spare a thought for the McAuckland Boys Grammar School of
Culinary Enflavourment.

The problem (or rather, of a multitude of problems) with
Libertarianzism is that there is no such thing as a rational actor.
The concept comes from economics, and states people will act in their
own rational self interest when presented with multiple choices. This
theory works fine until stage two economics (or until any other
paper), when you learn that everything from stage one only works in a
fantasy land where people have equal and complete information about
everything. A Libertopia perhaps, located underwater, away from
meddlesome Statists and other irrational persons. While most people
can accept this, and don't build their entire world view around
delusion of being some type of rational thinking Ubermensch Captain
of Industry, Libertarianz chose to ignore it. For example, this is an
actual quote from the Libertarianz website:

"All the evidence shows, for example, that health care in a free,
rational society will be vastly superior to the current die-while-you-
wait state health system. But, doctors will not be force to treat
those whom they do not wish to treat. The context of a more rational
ethos should be kept in mind at all times."

The Liberianz fetishisation of a "rational society" ignores that such
healthcare policies already exist, and perform badly, in countries
like the USA (where people don't die waiting in a queue to go to
hospital, for the simple reason that they could never afford
hospitalization in the first place, and instead die in the comfort of
their own homes) and Somalia (where a trip to hospital costs more
than all the goats in your village combined).

The reason Libertarianz cling to the "rational actor" concept with
such passionate ferocity is because it's only part of the larger
philosophy they subscribe to- Objectivism. Objectivism is the all-
encompassing big brother of Libertarianism, and includes strictures
on everything from ethics to aesthetics. Like Libertarianism,
Objectivism was founded by Ayn Rand, a charming lady who looks a bit
lie a more mannish Helen Clark. One is a pseudo-socialist and the
other is a bitter former socialist with clear fantasies of being
dominated and oppressed by men.

In New Zealand the most vocal Objectivist movement is the Sense of
Life Objectivists, who have a delightful website called SOLO Passion.
Although it sounds like a support group for chronic masturbation,
it's actually home to pseudo-intellectual wankery of a much less
honest sort. We could have made a more obvious joke about
masturbation, solo passion, and individualism, but that would have
been way too easy. In any case, it is not surprising that Lidnsay
Perigo (Premier and First Chairman of SOLO Passion) founded the
Libertarianz party, the party for the individual. The current "Big
Man" is Bernard Darnton, easily identifiable due to his decidedly
irrational "eraserhead" hairsyle.

Here's a free suggestion: if you're feeling bad about yourself one
day, spend some time on SOLO Passion. It has articles on how Comrade
Lindsay's favourite music is objectively the best music, why
worthless fiat money should be replaced by the purestrain gold
standard, and features objectively terrible web design and
contributors. Given time, we're sure there'll be articles on
reptilian shapeshifters in the treasury, the many benefits of
drinking colloidal silver, the international lords of finance (J-E-W-
S), and the fleet footedness of The Negroid. This would certainly be
consistent with the idiocy found in the objectivist and libertarian
movements of other countries.

But to return to one of the more entertaining facets of the
Libertarianz - their policies. Even at a glance, it is clear that the
only criteria used to develop these were "will it cost me MY MONEY?"
and "can THE MARKET do this?" Not surprising then that THE MARKET is
their solution to everything, including (most disastrously)
education. All education will be private, and those parents that
can't afford to send their children to school will receive help
from "private charities." Ah, just as they did in the years 0AD-
1900AD. Of course. Then again, won't parents have more money, what
with the almost 0% tax rate? Perhaps. Or perhaps inflation will
simply occur at an accelerated rate, since the public will spend
more. In a fully privatised education system, parents will have the
right to determine what their children learn at school, from Flat
Earth geography to Biblical literalism. Apparently in Libertopia, the
freedom for parents to choose whichever irrational, unscientific and
flatout wrong ideas their children are taught will lead to a better-
educated society, free of the nanny-statism that would have been
subjected to.

Aside from education, Libertarianz apply the glacial might of their
frigid, clockwork minds to employment law. Their suggestion is, well,
that there should be no employment law. Or at least they don't
actually mention anything about it in their policy. They promise
to "get the goverment's agent out of your business, and slash the
regulation that allow them access". Goodbye minimum wage, health and
safety requirements, the 40-hour week, the range of anti-
discrimination requirements, the right to union membership, and
everythign that stops from becoming and indentured slave. Of course,
Libertarianz would agree that this would never happen, and that
employees would be free to find gainful employment elsewhere. This
line of thought is fantastic, in the sense that it is fantasy.

Libertarianism seek to dismantle the structures which exists to
prevent corporate abuse, monopolisation, and all the bad things that
go along with capitalism in our current economic environment, under
the bizarre assumption that this will somehow result in less of the
above. Historically, the combination of THE MARKET and total
deregulation has produced arguably superior economic growth than in a
more regulated market. However, this comes at great personal and
environmental costs, as citizens are packed into ghettoes and forge
into chain gangs. The locked doors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
meant that in 1911, 148 garment manufacturers (mostly women) were
agonizingly burn to death when the factory accidentally caught fire.
The Captains of Industry stood callously back, counting their money
and laughing. But never ind the fats, full steam ahead to Libertopia!
In the country dreamt of by Libertaianz, the following situation,
described by Noam Chomsky, noted linguist, activist and filthy
statis, would be a common occurrence:
"Suppose someone facing starvation accepts a contract with General
Electric that requires him to work 12 hours a day locked into a
factory with no health-safety regulations, no security, no benefits,
etc. And the person accepts it because the alternative is that
children will starve."

It takes a certain type of person to agree with and identify
themselves as libertarian. Either they're aware of the consequences
of Libertarian policy and don't care because they stand to benefit
from the millions of deaths resulting from "Market Correction",
they've never had any real world experience with money, or they have
aspergers syndrome and are incapable of understanding this emotion we
hu-mans call "compassion". The entire system of ethics and morality
espoused by Libertarianz goes no further than "FUCK YOU, I GOT MINE,"
while bandying around vaguely placating concepts of "private
charity." Even then, the motivation for donation is not altruistic in
any sense, or grounded in the idea that people dying from starvation
is intrinsically a "bad' thing; instead, contribution to charity is a
means of rationally increasing your own self worth. Even when
attempting to do something good, they manage to do it in the most
evil and selfish (read: rational) fashion possible.

Unfortunately, none of Libertarianz grand policy concepts will ever
face the harsh light of reality, since donating money to a political
party which fials to gain over 1000 votes is inherently irrational.
We suggest you visit their website (libertarianz.org.nz) to gain a
fuller understanding of their particular brand of insanity. We should
note though - in anticipation of angry libertarians assaulting the
Craccum offices with outraged letters written in crayon - rejecting
Libertarianism, and the views of Libertarianz, odes not mean that
you're a raging leftie, a socialist loonie, or a communist. Rejection
of objectivism is not an endorsement of Nanny-statism.

Should you wish to experience firsthand the results of
Libertarianism, you can either move to Somalia and seek your
fortune/death, or play the wonderful game Bioshock, which involves
running around a leaking, unsafe underwater city while mutated
libertarians and objectivists try to steal your blood. In the even
you still think voting libertarianz is a good idea in the face of
overwhelming evidence, consider what they suggest renaming the
country to.

"Libertarianz, while respectful of many aspects of our Western
heritage, will sever constitutional links with the British Crown and
establish a new Republic of New Freeland.."

New Freeland. It's enough to make you vote ACT.

Doug & Matt H

So there you have it Gentle Reader, if they are to believed then what kind of monster must I and my libertarian brothers be? But they are not to be believed as in the best traditions of exuberant student journalism there is much heat but precious little light, let us parse and Fisk.

In paragraph three we are greeted with the following - The cornerstone of the entire Libertarianz philosophy is that people will always act in their own rational self interest. Actually no, far from it. Libertarians do not believe that people always act "in their own rational self interest" at all, as my fellow traveller Peter Cresswell will attest. Libertarians do not offer a "Libertopia", with all the Utopian connotations, all we offer is a system better able to handle things going awry.

If it were true that people always acted rationally then this would undercut some of the pragmatic (though not moral) foundations if libertarianism. If people always acted rationally then you could have an army of economists beavering away, doing their equations on what people would rationally want and being able to centrally plan the economy through computer models. In practice, since people do not always act rationally, they cannot. What is more, our non-rational actors are strings to libertarism's bow.

Why? For the simple common-sense reason that it is not a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket. Let's look at something important, like food, that is left for the market to provide, and compare it to anything of similar import (health or energy) run by the government. If New World runs out something that I want then the Foodtown up the road will most probably have it. The health and energy sectors are taken aback each year by predictable events such as an influx of patients due to winter flu and low lake levels due to a dry summer respectively. Think what would happen if food were run by the state. What supermarket everyone went to would be decided by majority vote once every three years, and that supermarket would take your food budget straight out of your wages irrespective of how much or even if you went to the supermarket that week. Finally, whereas each private supermarket in the country has latitude in what it buys, our government owned supermarkets all follow the same line decided by one minister, and if he gets it wrong...

It is very easy for any political viewpoint to offer visions of milk and honey, when things go wrong, as inevitably happens under any system, only The Market provides the variety of strategies and speed of response prevent things being as bad as under non-market systems.

Leaving aside the easily dodged barb that health care in the United States - with its heavy level of government intervention - is a blow to libertarianism, one cannot help but note the frequent references to Somalia. I.e. "Should you wish to experience firsthand the results of Libertarianism, you can either move to Somalia". This misunderstanding, conflating libertarianism with anarchy, is easily made since there are people like Murray Rothbard who straddle the two. But strictly speaking libertarians, especially those of an Objectivist bent attacked in the Craccum article, believe in a very strong state. Strong on upholding the security, life and property of its citizens and nation as a whole, but constrained itself by a strong constitution. The rule of enforced law plays a big part in libertarianism, it does not play a big part in Somalia.

Following on from this is Matt and Doug's misapprehension that work under libertarianism is, again, a free-for-all. This is not the case. When you work for someone you are under their care and they will have the duty to ensure that your work environment is safe (i.e. that you can safely exit your factory if it catches fire). You will also still have the right to join a union, they will not be banned, just as your employer also will have the right to prevent his employees from joining a union. The laws that make it more burdensome to get rid of staff (and more of a risk to hire them) and wage laws that make it more costly to have staff (meaning fewer will have jobs)

Lindsay Perigo and The Objectivists are drawn into the fray for no obvious reason. Not all libertarians are Objectivists and Lindsay hasn't even been heavily involved in the party for the past decade. Even still I suppose it is to Lindsay's credit that they had to resort to making up viewpoints (on Jews and Negroes).

To end on a happier note, Matt and Doug did get two things right. First they concede that "Historically, the combination of THE MARKET and total deregulation has produced arguably superior economic growth than in a more regulated market.". Secondly, and more importantly, they implore their readers twice to go to the Libertarianz website to find out what we really believe in. We've just registered on the Colmar Brunton poll as well - the only way is up from here. If you have time the following brief animation is a superb introduction, and this article argues that "Everything you love you owe to Capitalism"