Irish Liberty Forum

Archive for the ‘justice’ Category

Batman Really is the Ultimate Capitalist Superhero

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A post at Peter Rollins unmasks Batman as the ultimate capitalist superhero. I disagree with the heart and soul of his thesis, namely that

Batman is unable to see that the subjective crime he fights on a nightly basis is the direct manifestation of the objective crime he perpetrates on a daily basis. The street crime is the explosion of violence that results from greedy, large industries obsessed with the increase of abstract capital at the expense of all else.

I consider the exact opposite to be the case. Bruce Wayne perpitrates no crime by day; he violates no property rights nor does he have a State-granted monopoly over his industry. His workers and customers are free to associate with other businesses. From this it follows that Wayne can only satisfy his greed from creating products that satisfy his consumers needs and by offering his workers decent working conditions.

This is precisely the reason that socities built on private property ownership were historically regarded as the most altruistic and charitable. In addition to providing really cheap kerosene to Americans, John D. Rockefeller  was a prominant philanthropist. Socities where forced altruism is the norm result in cultures of entitlement, violence and contempt for property and fellow humans.

There is however one obvious reason why Batman is the ultimate capitalist superhero.  The buraucrats of Gotham city preside over a monopolised judicial and domestic defence system. All monopolies are bad from the point of view of the consumer as such arrangements will tend to raise the price and diminish the quality of the service provided. Gotham is constantly under threat from thieves, drug-dealers and murders. However Gotham’s residents cannot choose an alternative defence provider, nor will they receive compensation from the city if it fails in its defensive duty.

Quite simply, Batman is the challenger to Gotham city’s self-sanctioned monopoly over justice and protection from coercion.  He circumvents the State’s monopoly on legitimate violence and acts as a privately-provided “public” good as an alternative to a poorly maintained, currupt State-run monopoly.

Perhaps this is why Batman is Ron Paul’s favourite superhero!


Written by 20000miles

August 22, 2009 at 3:12 am

Posted in economics, justice

Tagged with ,

Blasphemy Laws Violate Property Rights

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What’s been lacking from the debate on the proposed Irish blasphemy law is any framing of the discussion in its proper context: property rights. Once we do this, the correct criticism of the law becomes clear.


We begin by noting that all communication has a physical form, a form which is always the property of some agent. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Graham

May 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm

You Can Call Me Friday

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Taking a break from economics:

Italy’s top court of appeals has barred a couple from naming their son “Friday,” castigating them for the “ridiculous” name and forcing them to call the boy Gregorio instead.

The court agreed with two previous ruling from courts in Genoa which found that the name — Venerdi in Italian — was too reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe’s servant named Friday.

The judges found that Robinson’s sidekick in the Daniel Defoe novel was associated with “subjection and inferiority.”

The child’s parents, who have battled in court for two years for the right to name their son what they want, insisted they chose Venerdi because “it was nice and sounded good” and not because of the novel.

I’ve known Irish people with much, much stranger names than “Friday”, which doesn’t seem like such a bad name to me at all. I wonder if this court battle has improved the young man’s prospects in life?

Written by Graham

October 23, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Posted in children, Ireland, justice, law

An Alternative Analysis of State Criminality

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I think this tells you everything you need to know about State justice.

The bill for abuse and health scandals has reached almost 1.7bn — and is likely to exceed 2.6bn before the compensation schemes are over.

The staggering financial toll on the taxpayer arising out of health and abuse scandals is revealed today in new figures compiled by the Irish Independent.

The figures have risen dramatically thanks to the mishandling of the cases when they first emerged, because more victims have come forward over time, and because the State has borne the majority of the cost even in cases where other organisations were involved.

Everybody knows that the Irish State has a sordid history of incompetence, corruption, waste and downright malevolence. Its legacy continues to this day, as innocent taxpayers are extorted to bail out the government and its preferred interest groups for their crimes.

Over 778m for the victims of contaminated blood and blood products to date, expected to reach 1bn.

More than 700m under the redress scheme for victims of abuse in orphanages and industrial schools to date, likely to reach 1.3bn.

At least 45m set to be paid to victims of Dr Michael Neary, with the potential for more victims to be identified.

180m repaid so far to nursing home and long-stay patients who were wrongly charged.

44m to be returned this year to long-stay patients because health boards wrongly retained interest as “payment” for handling their personal accounts.

This situation is wrong in so many different ways. Within the context of natural justice, it is obviously a complete travesty and a terrible evil that anyone should be forced to pay the price for wrongs which they themselves did not commit. I imagine that most people with a reasonably objective viewpoint can recognise the unfairness inherent in that. The problem, unfortunately, is that mainstream analysis is incapable of proposing different systems of social organisation which would be significantly less exposed to the risk of this sort of fiasco.

Mainstream analysis may not even recognise that State crimes have any structural origins whatsoever. Both Left and Right seem sure that State crimes have their roots primarily in the motives and personalities of the particular individuals who reach positions of power. Within this paradigm, State power can be used for good – if only good people are wielding it.

Libertarian analysis is very different. Broadly speaking, libertarian analysis sees physical power as the key factor in the relationship between the government and its citizens, differentiating this relationship from the voluntary, peaceful relationships common amongst the citizens themselves. This power is seen to have radical effects on the incentives experienced by agents of the government, such that their actions are explicable only in the context of their status as such.

Given the unique incentives experienced by those in government, it is easily predicted by libertarians that the activities of government would seem absurd if attempted by private individuals or organisations. In the free market, incompetence and waste represent shortcuts to extinction for any business. Morally depraved behaviour leads to loss of reputation for individuals and organisations alike, and with it a corresponding loss of opportunity. Thus, through market arrangements, each acting unit experiences natural incentives to engage in positive social behaviour.

The difference could not be any more stark when it comes to agents of government. Enjoying, as they do, enforced monopolies in law, taxation, regulation, security, defense, education, health, and so on, their set of incentives is utterly different to the set of incentives faced by market participants. Because the relationship they have with their “customers” (taxpayers) is coercive, activities which would lead to their ruin in the free market can go more or less unpunished. Thus, besides the electioneering and rhetoric required to hold on to power throughout dubious electoral processes, State agents enjoy a special kind of carte blanche.

A conclusion often reached by libertarians is that only corrupt, selfish people would seek to wield such power in the first place. A milder conclusion would be that well-intentioned people may be able to attain power, but that given the incentive schemes with which they are then faced, prodigious heroism in self-denial is then required in order for such people to prevail in acting to the best of their ability for the common good.

In other words, power is likely to corrupt them. And when this view is combined with the classic problems of statist economic calculation, the possibility of a government acting well appears remote. I see little evidence in the history of the Irish state to contradict this notion.

Written by Graham

February 20, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Posted in history, Ireland, justice