Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State. 'Illigitum non carborundum'.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Reply to Chris Trotter: The West is Not Capitalist - Keynesian Big Statism.

New Zealand Progressive commentator Chris Trotter, who wants our Inland Revenue to squeeze the rich until their pips squeak, is advancing collectivism by crowing the disasters of capitalism which he thinks is leading to another bust bigger than the Global Financial Crisis out of 2008.

ROUND AND ROUND AND ROUND it goes, and where it stops nobody knows! You might think that ordinary human-beings would have tired of Capitalism’s cyclical catastrophes by now. But our capacity to absorb these entirely man-made calamities appears to be no less impressive than our ability to cope with the genuine disasters nature sends our way. Indeed, Capitalism’s longevity is, almost certainly, attributable to its success in convincing us that it, too, is a force of Nature – something far beyond our feeble strength to influence for good or ill.

It was not always so. Eighty years ago, with the world in the clutches of another capitalist catastrophe, human-beings somewhere found the collective strength to denounce this “force of nature” falsehood. They decided that what humankind could ruin just by “letting things go” (laissez-faire) it could rebuild by replacing the “invisible hand” of the all-powerful capitalist market with their own.

And then Chris warbles on about Roosevelt’s New Deal, oblivious to the fact that grand piece of interventionism extended the harmful effects of the Great Depression by upwards of a decade. Chris should also read up on how it was US government interventionalism leading up to the Great Depression which was in large part culpable.

Anyway, I couldn’t let Chris away with this nonsense regarding the modern-day Big Brother State West, so posted the below quick reply:

The West is not capitalist, Chris, no more than China has an actual sharemarket. The West is crony capitalist, which is totally crippled markets ruled by government interventionism that has broken market coordination and the quick liquidation of malinvestments of a true laissez faire system. Through centrally banked command economies which print fiat money while playing loose with interest rates, to fund the Huge State model where state spend is close to 50% of the entire economic activity in Western economies, out-of-control and God help me, well-intentioned politicians, only build asset bubbles, then grow them bigger and bigger by trying to cap the chaos caused through socialising what should remain private sector losses.

But I say private sector, which denotes property rights, and where it's important, we don't have those anymore.

It's Keynesian socialism and though it doesn't destroy lives, thus liberty and the quality of living as directly as the straight out communist gulag economies did - those paragons of collectivism - it still achieves that in the long run. Indeed economystic JM Keynes has managed what the Soviet Union couldn't: total destruction of classical liberalism, and with that the West itself.

[And not forgetting Keyne's awful legacy in enslaving the arts to the state, and thus taming it as a vital market of ideas in resistance to the modern day abuses of state power.]

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review: That Bastard Hamish Clayton & His Genius: The Pale North.

The publisher’s blurb for Hamish Clayton’s novel, The Pale North reads:

1998, Wellington. A series of catastrophic earthquakes has left the city destroyed. Returning to the ruin from London, a New Zealand writer explores the devastation, compelled to find out for himself what has become of the city he left years ago. As he drifts through the desolate streets, home now to the shell-shocked and dispossessed, he finds among the survivors a woman and a child. And although they are haunted, hostile and broken, the strangers feel eerily familiar to him: as if they promise the answers to the mysteries he once swore to leave behind.

A layered meditation on love, history, creativity and loss, The Pale North is an audacious and disarming novel, a forensic journey into one writer's short but singularly brilliant body of work.

At the end of my review of Greg McGee’s The Antipodeans, like a dumb, impetuous clever dick prick, I wrote this on reading merely 17% of Hamish Clayton’s second novel (ebook format) The Pale North.

17% into The Pale North and the words in my mind so far are: over-worked and arty sentimentality. Our individual reactions to a worthy work of art are subjective: some works will transect with our experiences and aesthetics and speak to us, some won’t. There’s a lot of book to read yet, however, as I crustify into my middle age years, I like a starker prose than this, with harder edges.

Thankfully I redeemed myself (a bit) at 25% by writing an addendum, formatting it in bold trying to recover my soul:

25% into The Pale North, I retract the above. I'm getting it now, the words occupying my mind have changed to 'aberrant; beguiling; singular talent, and treat'. Also, sentimentality is the point; Mr Clayton has cracked through the crust. Indeed, beginning to view this novel as a stunner. Looks like Wulf remains on the reading list.

Noting the review of art is all about me – it has to be because I’m the point and then the filter - can I excuse my rashness into that first statement? It's interesting Clayton was prescient to the response of the premature half-wit reviewer:

… But then he asked me what I’d remembered of that first exhibition [snip]. I described what I’d seen as clearly as I could remember, but Colin only narrowed his eyes as he listened, focusing on some far-off but internal horizon, scanning for meaning and finding my account wanting on some score or other. He listened in silence as I revered what I could recall of those photographs: their calm, arcane order, the sombre grace of their elegy. He seemed unmoved but then sighed and turned away.

I asked him what I’d missed and he laughed quietly and said, ‘The whole point.’

I’d been in a ruthless stage of editing my own script, trying to pare it down to concise sophistication, and was initially immune to Clayton’s swirling ordinary words and the humanity which lives too easily (damn it) in them. Mea culpa.

I don’t know if what I write is any good – see, me again. After realising I couldn’t write a short story – either I didn’t like the form enough, or perhaps I was just useless at it - I never submitted the first novel I wrote – it’s awful, so never will – and am at sea on the one being rendered down; the only solid fact being I have no judgement on assessing my own work (none at all). And so – Murphy’s law - at this tenuous time, crashing from his celestial orbit above my fragile confidence too easily tipped into paralysing self-doubt (please forgive me Mike Hosking) comes Hamish ruddy Clayton and his bloody masterpiece that creeps up on you, The Pale North. Clayton is a dangerous man because he makes me want to stop reading. He makes me want to stop reading, because he is so good he makes me think I must stop writing for all is hopeless in the face of his words … but then what would I have left without writing?

Wine. Yes. But wine alone is not enough, certainly not the next morning. Please realise Mrs H and I live in a house, three in fact (one munted thank you, no fuck you, EQC – [from the Big One out of Christchurch]), wearing our happy domesticity and well-worn love (and better, friendship) like a glove over top of the world I otherwise live in words, so that doesn’t count, I don’t think.

If I could read Clayton’s human stories, imagery and busted Wellington without an ego, and a need, I reckon the overwhelming residue would be the word warmth from a finely honed artistry and a love of art, despite he references the winds from Antarctica in The Pale North too much – three times by 44% in (there, see, I can still be critical).

Damn that man. Utter bastard. I say beguiling, the publisher says disarming … you should read him; two novels so far, Wulf, followed by The Pale North, though I can only recommend the second (highly), I’ve not read the first, yet.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book Review: Greg McGee’s The Antipodeans – Master Class in Story Telling, But Niggles … (Also Clayton's The Pale North). #NZBooks

[Photo Credit: Upstart Press.]

I don't review a book unless I enjoyed it, so noting this short post barely counts as a review, again - think of it as a note in the margin -  I’m giving Greg McGee’s The Antipodeans a solid eight out of ten: it’s a great read, content summed up well enough by Graham Beattie on his Bookman Beattie blog:

Spanning three generations of New Zealand and Italian families it is vast in its scope and richly peopled with characters of depth & complexity starting with an aging, ailing New Zealand lawyer who returns to Venice in 2014, with his adult daughter to trace his father's Italian Word War 2 friends. The novel then skilfully moves back and forth between 1943-45, 1976 and 2014.

A big powerful, emotional novel, both love story and war story, that will stay with me for a very long time. Stunning. My congratulations to the author on his very fine achievement.

That said for me The Antipodeans was a book of two halves; an apt metaphor given rugby is a central motif. I’m not a huge sports buff, but it’s nice to read the national game in ‘our’ literature, and for those versed in McGee, he’s the obvious choice to bring rugby from the theatre and into novel form. Plus I’ve written one of our (NZ lit) weaknesses can be a literature not set where we live, so a shrewd move (I hope) for sales. Add to this I loved reading a story playing out partly in Oamaru and the surrounds in which I literally live – (don’t panic, plenty of North Island locales as well).

But I think McGee's relative late-coming to the novel, having cut his writing teeth as a playwright, meant the first half held several irritations for me expunged only in the second half by an enjoyable immersion into his storytelling, and as the prose got better, tighter, once he wrote himself in.  I tweeted this about 35% (Kindlespeak) into the book (it's Twitter, excuse the typo):

By irritations I found the opening romancing between Clare and Renzo was too obvious and too told (that it was going to happen, and the tropes leading to it), with the emotions tending at times toward stock (as in stock scenarios, not clichéd language); although by the end of the novel the – avoiding spoilers - relationship was satisfactorily complex, if not as good as the rendering of the war time relationships on which the novel revolves. A different matter was that loose prose which drew my attention to the words on the page and away from the story. There’s a few too many adjectives that are trying too hard early on, and over-use of that male peculiarity for those adjectival –lys. For example:

The boat motored straight at them, slowing slightly, but not enough, she thought, instinctively, looking for the wharf they would surely disembark. Suddenly they were among old stones …


… she’d placed the cup on the breakfast bar in the kitchen and stood in front of him, implicitly challenging him to get on with it …

I realise incredibly picky on my behalf – unfair because I’m in a ruthless edit phase on a project of my own - also subjective (surely), especially when I’m unapologetic on my use of long, complex sentences, (for which I in turn was scoffed by that literary, arrogant & attention deficit end of the Twitteratti – [you bet all prose is political]); but it was enough, in this McGee, and happened enough, to irritate and have me looking at the physical page, not falling into the story between the words from inception as I want to.

And there were some clangers that shouldn’t have got past publisher, Upstart Press:

… and tried to burrow his way back home through the rock. Until mercifully he’d been hit by a piece of shell, it must have been.


… ‘I want to you to know that I’ve gotten help, that I’m clean.’

Almost as if McGee was climbing into the work of writing, starting out a little unpractised, but achieving a tighter prose by the end. The book lacking only a single tighter edit, and rigorous proofing; (I want to continue the opening metaphor by suggesting a coach’s eye from Steve Hansen required, but if that man were to edit as sloppily as his dreadful pronunciation, I reckon we can kick that notion to touch). [Edit: I've just read McGee spent 15 years working on this novel ... I don't think that changes any of my comments; rather, it puts them in the context of a longer time frame.]

So I do protest too much: McGee’s strength is story-telling, and once the narrative tension is wound up through the many arcs The Antipodeans is a consuming tale, which took me over historical ground in wartime Italy, and 1950s New Zealand, I was not familiar with. On a radio interview promoting his book, McGee spoke of the life of a professional writer, during every project having a mind on the next to provide an income: he’s a writer I want to see stay in business, so if you like a saga told well, buy The Antipodeans.

Next onto the reading desk I had planned for Anna Smaill’s The Chimes, but I’m not in the frame of mind for that (yet), plus am holding out on the delights of Rachel Barrowman’s Gee biography until I haven’t got work matters weighing me down – with the collapse of the dairy payout that may not be until April. So I’ve loaded Hamish Clayton’s The Pale North onto my Kindle; from the reviews, excited (noting I didn’t read Clayton’s Wulf, so this is my first reading of him – I love that coming to an author for the first time).

And to close on some good news, my literary manifesto/disquisition on our contemporary literature continues to climb in reads, although if 18,000 words is not within your attention span, you might want to start at the fluff piece literary manifesto II.

Footnote - The Pale North:

Damn. 17% into The Pale North and the words in my mind so far are: over-worked and arty sentimentality. Our individual reactions to a worthy work of art are subjective: some works will transect with our experiences and aesthetics and speak to us, some won’t. There’s a lot of book to read yet, however, as I crustify into my middle age years, I like a starker prose than this, with harder edges.


25% into The Pale North, I retract the above. I'm getting it now, the words occupying my mind have changed to 'aberrant; beguiling; singular talent, and treat'. Also, sentimentality is the point; Mr Clayton has cracked through the crust. Indeed, beginning to view this novel as a stunner. Looks like Wulf remains on the reading list.

Full retraction and review of The Pale North.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fonterra, Cheap Central Bank Funny Money and Malinvestment.

As far back as 12 August, 2013, writing on the milk contamination debacle, and before the announcement of Fonterra’s historical peak pay-out, I wrote the following:

… leading to that vertical cliff of farm debt too much of our dairy industry is built on. The view from the top of that cliff is scary, because conscious of economist Tyler Cowan’s great stagnation thesis, which I shall post specifically on at a later date, applying it to our dairy industry, we might hypothesise the major productivity gains, the low hanging fruits of profit, have been made already by this capital intensive agriculture, noting as proof there’s a ballooning $82 million plus, beyond schedule irrigation scheme being built not thirty minutes drive from where I’m writing this. I believe it will be dubious when interest rates are in double figures again, whether return on the asset will outweigh the cost of debt, and when Labour get in and start taxing equity, the party is definitely over. Given the dairy debt cliff, an alarmist could forecast a bust coming, given the right circumstances, to rival 1987. Milk is a commodity, and commodities follow cycles, and even on these historically high payouts, many corporate dairy farms are still hurting: before moving to the contamination scare, that's the major alarm bell in this industry. So, if or when such a bust happens, and everyone will be, as in this debate, blaming free markets, remember you read it here: Fonterra was stillborn of crony capitalism which is to capitalism as sea horses are to horses - which is not the same at all, in case I need to make that clear. Fonterra is not a beast of free markets at all, but a beast of burden.


This is what I know. A government messes with the resource allocation of a free market with peril. Given the size of the numbers involved in the dairy industry, then as we have gleaned with even this contamination hiccup – and that’s all it was actually – extreme peril. So, think about this: the monopoly given Fonterra gave it an edge over other land use that the banks with their fiat money and cheap credit were then given the confidence to bankroll, and bankroll it they certainly did, even as the cost of conversions rose ludicrously, as did underlying land values unrealistically. Thus dairy grabbed a bigger allocation of resources than it could have under free markets, which would have allocated resource, land, capital, et al, in a far slower manner. That’s one thing the spontaneous order arising from markets is relatively good at: coordination. We have all seen the price of this too rapid expansion …

And, pertinently:

Dairy’s quick and artificial growth - artificial because government initiated and protected - looks to have done harm; real harm. It has led to an allocation toward this single agriculture at the expense of diversified land use by a range of complementary, biodiverse agricultures that couldn't catch the banker's eye, given they were so smitten by the big sad bovine eyes of the large herds. Dairy has outpaced its resources of capital and skills …

Read the whole post here: Fonterra: The Free Market is the Solution. Why Has Fall-Back For Everyone Become More Statism?