Monday, March 25, 2013


All libertarians view society as requiring and benefiting from self-censorship as opposed to government censorship. As with all forms of libertarianism, the people are given the choice to decide on rules among themselves. This is similar to the concept of anarchic libertarianism in that both prescribe self-censorship as the best method of censorship for society. Censorship would only be decided upon if it benefits the whole of the community. 

Anarchic libertarianism, however, does away with the need for the state, as well as the concept of private property. Essentially, it is socialism without the state involved. Personal property is respected, just as in self-censoring libertarianism, but beyond that there is no need to accumulate excessive wealth in one person or group's hands. Self-censoring libertarians still see a purpose for the state, but only insofar as it provides for the safety of the citizens. Beyond that it is not given much power.

They both have their strengths. Self-censorship is a much more just and efficient way to censor sensitive, but vital and available, information. It lacks certain precautions and strictures that leave it vulnerable for exploitation by wealth. Anarchic libertarianism attempts to do away with the threat of wealth, but it fails to account for the element of human greed. There will always be people who exploit a situation for their benefit. That's why a system with rules and limits in place to stop, or at the very least contain, these violations of human decency is necessary.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tunisia & Mali: Extremism On The Run

Tunisia is currently in political turmoil. Their government is on the brink of massive changes, as Prime Minister Hamadi Jabali resigned earlier this week in an effort to appease masses of discontented secularists. The move came after the murder of a secularist political leader, Chokri Belaid, and will quite possibly see the drafting of a new Constitution along with an overturn in those who are in power. Islamist rule appears to be headed for a surprisingly non-violent demise in Tunisia, but the state of relations are always difficult to predict in the Middle East and North Africa.

In Mali, French troops just pulled off a successful lightning strike on militant Islamists who had captured positions of power in important Malian cities. The issue here is that, while not all of Mali has been made safe, the French will be pulling out troops within the next weeks. While the offensive was surprisingly successful, the fear is that Malian troops may not be sufficient to keep the militant Islamists from seizing power, let anyone clearing them out of the south of Mali. France is most likely (appropriately) afraid of what befell the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, and does not want to be sucked into a drawn out process of nation-building.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Scots Fought the Blot of Tot's Plot

Europe is a hotbed of controversy these days. With economic instability running rampant, many deep seated grievances are spilling forth. From Spain to Belgium to Scotland, independence movements are coming out of the wood-works, using the uncertainty of the times to shovel coal into the furnaces of change.

As their steam gains, their presiding countries seek to quench their momentum. One such effort comes from the British government in its attempt to dissuade Scotland from seceding. In a new study published by two experts on international law, the British government claims that Scotland would have to apply for European Union membership as a new nation, while the UK would be considered a continuing nation. Were this to be true, Scotland would almost certainly have to adopt the euro upon gaining membership, an unpopular option in the country at this time.

I actually find England's study to be rather logically coherent. However, law often defies logic, and until further studies from much more independent, unbiased sources come out, I will have to reserve judgement on this matter. Scotland's deputy first minister does an apt job of pointing out that the true test for Scotland's independence will occur around the negotiating table. The laws of the European Union have not had much, if any, opportunity to be utilized in these regards, so to assume that their governing boards would hold steadfastly to such laws would be logically fallible to the highest degree. What I see here is an attempt by the UK to scare Scots into picking the safe option, sticking with the UK despite their vast disagreements in the political realm.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Agents of change; How news agencies fare in the future

News agencies. They're something most of us don't think about on a day-to-day basis, but they often are the source for much of the news we assimilate throughout the day. AP, Reuters, and other news agencies seemingly operate on a different plane of existence from newspapers and the like. They don't own their own publications, their names are known almost exclusively by news-buffs and journalists.

So what do I think of them?

You know, I really don't know.

If you were expecting a definitive answer, I suspect you'll be disappointed. However, most of life's challenges are not so cut-and-dry as "this is good" or "this is bad." The world exists not in black-and-white, or even in shades of gray, but in the full spectrum of light, from ultraviolet to infrared and beyond in both directions.

Now that I've finished waxing philosophical, let's get down to the nitty gritty.

On the one hand, news agencies provide a service that is invaluable. They consolidate the resources of numerous journalists and reporters, allowing for the swift and accurate acquiring of information. By consolidating these resources, news agencies can reach farther than most organizations, tapping previously unreachable sources of information.

This sounds wonderful, right? How could I be so ambivalent about such a valuable service?

The problem lies in technology. Namely, the rapid growth of communication and social media technologies. The internet in general has revolutionized the way we divulge and digest information. Cell phones, Twitter, satellite broadcasts and the like give us instant access to information from nearly anywhere on the planet (and sometimes off it).

With these new technologies, the throne of information upon which news agencies like AP and Reuters have sat for nigh on two centuries is quickly crumbling. When anyone in Russia with a camera phone can take a picture and have it be seen by everyone in the United States within minutes, the place of an agency that exists solely to collect and distribute information quickly evaporates.

So if these news agencies no longer have a place in the world, how can I refuse to trumpet their demise?

The answer is simple. They haven't crumbled yet. The way they are doing this is through providing well-written pieces of news to both newspapers and the internet directly, a service that is most definitely not something any Russian with a camera phone can provide.

In truth, I think the answer to the dilemma of the fate of news agencies lies somewhere in between dominance and irrelevance. News agencies must reinvent themselves as the AP is doing. They must provide well-written, comprehensive articles that carry more information than 140 characters can provide. They must house their own stories online, cultivate a greater name for themselves with the lay-news-consumer. And they must continue to give newspapers and other publications access to their stories, allowing them to reach the widest audience possible.

News agencies will slowly start to decline. I think this is an inevitability of the information age. But, with proper planning and foresight, they can continue to thrive as a source of detailed, accurate and well-written information.