Progressive Calendar 04.09.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2010 15:05:46 -0700 (PDT)
           P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.09.10

1. Socialism/DeLeon 4.09 7pm
2. Ellsberg film    4.09

3. Peace walk       4.10 9am Cambridge MN
4. Mayday/SingPay   4.10 9am
5. Haiti            4.10 10am
6. Nicaragua        4.10 10am
7. CUAPB            4.10 1:30pm
8. Northtown vigil  4.10 2pm

9. James Bovard - Subverting freedom: Bush's ongoing legacy of secrecy
10. Jeff Gates  - Was Israel ever legitimate?
11. Ernest Partridge - Why Libertarianism fails as a social policy

--------1 of 11--------

From: jtmiller jtmiller <jtmiller [at]>
Subject: Socialism/DeLeon 4.09 7pm

Friday April 9, 7:00 pm, MayDay Bookstore
Working Democracy Book Club: "Socialist Reconstruction of Society," by
Daniel De Leon

Today the word "socialism" is distorted to mean a state-controlled system
without personal freedom. In this 1905 speech introducing the newly-formed
Industrial Workers of the World, De Leon shows that socialism is a
self-governed workers' industrial commonwealth that supplants the state
and expands the freedom of the individual.

--------2 of 11--------

From: Rowley Clan <rowleyclan [at]>
Subject: Ellsberg film 4.09

One Week Only!
Starts Friday, April 9 at the Lagoon Cinema

Co-winner of the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of
Review, Winner of the Special Jury Award at IDFA, and an Academy Award
nominee for Best Documentary Feature, The Most Dangerous Man in America
tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and
Vietnam War strategist, who in 1971 concluded that the war is based on
decades of lies, and leaks 7,000 pages of top secret documents to The New
York Times-a daring act of conscience that leads directly to Watergate,
President Nixon's resignation and the end of the Vietnam War.

A riveting story of how this one man's profound change of heart created a
landmark struggle involving America's newspapers, its president and
Supreme Court. With Daniel Ellsberg, Patricia Ellsberg, Tony Russo, Howard
Zinn, Hedrick Smith, John Dean and, from the secret White House tapes,
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who called Ellsberg "the most dangerous
man in America." Narrated by Ellsberg. Official Web Site

--------3 of 11--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 4.10 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street

--------4 of 11--------

From: Blanche Hall <blanche.hall [at]>
Subject: Mayday/SingPay 4.10 9am

Lets march in the MayDay Parade for single-payer health care !
Calling all Single Payer Activists - spring has sprung, lets gather at the
MayDay Parade and kick off the summer with a little fun and activism.

The 2010 MayDay Parade and Festival will be held on Sunday, May 2.
This year's theme:  UP ROAR:  The Year of the Tiger
--Burdens, Breaths, Death/Life/Cyclical nature

Attend a workshop and meet with the artists and determine if you can
tie into the theme or march in the "Join In" section at the back of the
parade.  No registration required for workshops.

Workshop Dates - April 3 - 29   [copy this if interested]
 Saturdays, 9-11am and 1-3 pm
 Tuesdays, 7-9 pm
 Thursdays, 7-9 pm

May 2nd, Noon: MayDay Parade participants assemble by section east of
Bloomington Avenue on 25th Street, between Bloomington and Cedar
Avenue in South Minneapolis.

1 pm: Parade begins at the corner of 25th Street East and Bloomington
Avenue South, and travels south on Bloomington to 34th Street East,
where the parade turns west towards Powderhorn Park, where the parade
ends and the MayDay Ceremony and Festival begins, at approximately

All Interested individuals, groups please contact either Joel Albers
at joel [at] or Carol halonen at Blanche.Hall [at] so we
can coordinate and e-mail logistics, etc.

Our plan from last nights UHCAN-MN meeting is to March in the Parade in
the "join in" section toward the back, with our new big, beautiful,
colorful. single-payer themed banners that folks have taken time to paint,
our hospital bed dramatizing that we need a HC system that's Alive and
Well and not on life support, with health care cheerleaders doing curbside
cheers like "HMOs are jive talkin". So let us know if you want to do any
of these. We need HC Cheerleaders. So dig out your walking sandals, tennis
shoes, radical cheerleading attire, Single Payer banners, old hospital
beds, and what ever else you have in storage -- Let's spend some time
this summer letting everyone know that the Single Payer movement is alive
and well and that Obama care will send us straight to h-e-double l :)

--------5 of 11--------

From: Doris Marquit <marqu001 [at]>
Subject: Haiti 4.10 10am

WILPF "Coffee With" Discussion
Saturday, April 10, 10 am-noon
Van Cleve Community Center
901 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis

Disaster Aid in Haiti & Elsewhere: Good Intentions vs Results
Panel: Representatives of local organizations with hands-on positive and
negative experience organizing and delivering disaster relief. When one part
of the world is hit with catastrophe, how can (and should) the rest of the
world respond? What can WE do?

Ffi: Doris Marquit, 612-922-7993
marqu001 [at]
Women's International League for Peace & Freedom

--------6 of 11--------

From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at]>
Subject: Nicaragua 4.10 10am

Coffee Hour: Microfinance in Nicaragua - Apr. 10
Saturday, April 10
At the Resource Center of the Americas

Presented in English

Description: Christina and Kris both work in community development lending
and recently traveled to Nicaragua as part of a group visiting with
microfinance programs assisting women in Nicaragua. They will share their
observations about microfinance in Nicaragua and also reflect upon their
work with immigrant businesses in the Twin Cities.

Speakers: Christina Jennings (Executive Director, Northcountry Cooperative
Development Fund and Co-Founder of Social Impact Adventures, Minneapolis)
Kris Maritz (Loan and Technical Assistance Specialist, Metropolitan
Consortium of Community Developers, Minneapolis)

Contact Information: Christina Jennings
christina [at] Phone: 612-751-3524

--------7 of 11--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 4.10 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

--------8 of 11--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 4.10 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------9 of 11--------

Bush's Ongoing Legacy of Secrecy
Subverting Freedom
April 8, 2010

Many Americans assumed that the Bush administration's peril to their
freedom ended when George Bush exited the White House on January 20, 2009.
Unfortunately, the precedents the administration established continue to
threaten Americans' rights and liberties. This is stark on government

Shortly after the 2000 election, Vice President-elect Richard Cheney
convened a task force on energy policy. After he assumed office, he
refused to disclose the names of the advisors, even though the task-force
report was the basis for energy legislation that would profoundly affect
the nation's economy. Critics argued that the involvement of private
companies in crafting legislation made the task force a federal advisory

Thanks to a 1972 law, such committees are required to disclose membership
and other information. The Clinton administration ran aground on this reef
after a federal judge ruled that the secrecy of Hillary Clinton's
health-care task force violated federal law. While the Clinton task
force's secrecy sparked widespread controversy, no such uproar occurred
when the Bush team used the same tactic.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress,
initially requested all the energy task-force records, including
transcripts of the meetings. After the administration refused to supply
any information, GAO sued to get a list of "who attended the energy task
force meetings, the process that determined who would be invited, and how
much it all cost".

Bush portrayed the GAO's action as a threat to the survival of the
presidency. He declared, "I am not going to let Congress erode the power
of the executive branch. I have a duty to protect the executive branch
from legislative encroachment.. Can you imagine having to give up every
single transcript of what is advised me or the vice president? Our advice
[from others] wouldn't be good and honest and open". At the time of Bush's
statement, the GAO had long since dropped its request for transcripts. He
was invoking openness for his advisors as a pretext for closing government
for everyone else.

The GAO lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge, John Bates Jr., whom
Bush appointed in 2001. Bates ruled that because GAO had not been injured,
it had no standing to sue to get the documents. In a 1980 law, Congress
explicitly authorized GAO to file such lawsuits, but Bates brushed that
technicality aside. The Washington Post noted that the decision "could
severely weaken the GAO and leave a president largely immune from
aggressive congressional oversight unless the opposition party is in the

                    Presumptive privilege

The Bush administration did not escape a similar lawsuit on energy
task-force documents filed by the Sierra Club and by Judicial Watch, a law
firm renowned for its hounding of the Clinton administration. The White
House claimed executive privilege to deny all information demands, seeking
to close it to almost any outside oversight. Federal Judge Emmett Sullivan
slammed the Bush team: "The implications of the bright-line rule advocated
by the government are stunning". Sullivan warned that accepting this
doctrine "would eviscerate the understanding of checks and balances
between the three branches of government on which our constitutional order

The Bush administration informed the court in September 2002 that it would
not turn over the documents because they "are all presumptively privileged
because they all involve sensitive communications between and among the
president and his closest advisers". However, in an October 2002 court
hearing, Justice Department attorneys confessed that they had not reviewed
the documents that they claimed all contained sensitive information. Judge
Sullivan commanded the Bush administration lawyer, "You have to produce
the non-privileged documents and assert the [executive] privilege for
those that are. You refuse to assert the privilege and won't respond to
court orders".

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Shannen Coffin explained that "we're not
going to ask our clients to complete that review because it's an
unconstitutional burden". This notion of "unconstitutional burden" sounded
like it might apply to a princess who did not wish to be compelled to make
a ceremonial appearance.

                     "Unwarranted intrusion"

Rather than comply with Judge Sullivan's order, the Bush administration
trotted off to federal appeals court. Federal appeals Judge Harry Edwards
complained to a Justice Department lawyer, "You have no case . you have no
authority to bring the case here". The court refused to countenance the
Bush administration's demand for blanket secrecy.

The Bush team took the case to the Supreme Court. After the Court took the
case, Sierra Club attorney David Bookbinder declared, "The American people
have already waited far too long to find out exactly how energy industries
influenced our national energy policy". Justice Department spokesman Mark
Corallo countered, "The administration's energy plan is available to the
public for anyone to review, and the administration has provided 36,000
additional pages of documents relating to its development". But it is
irrelevant how many boxes of documents are dumped on plaintiffs if the key
information is withheld. Not a single page of information was disclosed
from the Cheney task force.

The Bush administration's arguments in the Cheney task force case were
"strikingly similar" to its arguments for the president's power to
unilaterally label people as enemy combatants and lock them up in
perpetuity without a trial, the New York Times noted. In both cases, the
administration was "projecting a vision of presidential power in both war
and peace as far-reaching as any the court has seen and posing important
questions of the constitutional separation of powers". The administration
claimed that the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 is "plainly
unconstitutional" in authorizing "unwarranted intrusion" and "extreme
interference" with the president's "core" constitutional duties. Solicitor
General Theodore Olson informed the Court, "Congress does not have the
power to inhibit, confine or control the process through which the
president formulates the legislative measures he proposes or the
administrative actions he orders".

The Bush administration warned that a broad interpretation of the Federal
Advisory Committee Act turns the law "into a general warrant to search
executive branch groups and committees for contacts with outsiders who
might be deemed de facto members". It was ironic for the Bush
administration to complain about a general warrant, since that was its
preferred method of dealing with American citizens.

The Bush administration's overreaching in this case was lampooned by comic
Jay Leno, who characterized its view of "separation of powers": "That
means that people who don't have any power shouldn't be allowed to find
out what the people who do have power are doing".

On April 27, 2004, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the
case, Theodore Olson declared that "the separation of powers issue in this
case goes far beyond the assertion of executive privilege. Executive
privilege concerns itself with particular documents or a concern over the
relationship the particular documents refer to. The objection here is to
the process".

Olson declared that the president should not even have to bother to claim
executive privilege in the case, since that "would have required the
president and the vice president to spend time with documents". He also
declared that even permitting a private organization to seek White House
documents would create "a process that's invasive to fundamental
presidential prerogatives and responsibilities". He derided private
groups' efforts to learn what White House officials had said or done,
declaring that "the discovery itself violates the Constitution".

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked, "All discovery?" Olson replied, "Yes".
Olson propounded a doctrine of "constitutional immunity" that made it
sound as if the White House deserves the same status that the kings of old

Justice Scalia, in questioning a lawyer for the Sierra Club, propounded a
sweeping doctrine that could satisfy even Bush absolutists: "I think
executive privilege means whenever the president feels that he is
threatened, he can simply refuse to comply with a court order. He has the
power . to say, "No, this intrudes too much upon my powers. I will not do

On June 24, 2004, the Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 to remand the case to a
federal appeals court for further examination of whether the Energy Task
Force fell under the federal advisory law. This ruling was a victory for
the Bush administration, since it was pushing Congress full-steam ahead to
enact its energy bill before it had to disclose the details on the task

In May 2005, a federal appeals court dismissed the case. A unanimous
ruling by the eight judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit declared that the plaintiffs "failed to establish any duty, let
alone a clear and indisputable duty, owed to them by the federal
government" to disclose the information about the task force.

 The Obama team is mimicking some of the worst traits of its predecessor.

Last July, the White House refused to disclose the names of health-care
executives who had visited the White House to discuss health-care reform.
The administration is also taking an expansive view of "state secrets"
which could prevent the American public from learning of federal abuses
across the board.

Preserving freedom requires leashing government. The less people learn
about government policies, the less control they will have over government
action. By preventing people from knowing what government is doing,
secrecy unleashes government.

James Bovard serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom
Foundation and is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush
Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books.

--------10 of 11--------

Was Israel Ever Legitimate?
by Jeff Gates
April 8th, 2010
Dissident Voice

The history of Israel as a geopolitical fraud will fill entire libraries
as those defrauded marvel at how so few deceived so many for so long.
Those duped include many naive Jews who - even now - identify their
interests with this extremist enclave.

Israeli leaders are wrong to worry about "de-legitimization". They are
right to fear that a long-deceived public is fast realizing that Israel's
founding was key to an ongoing deception.

The Invention of the Jewish People did not begin with Shlomo Sand's 2009
bestseller by that title. There was no Exile says this Jewish scholar. Nor
was there an Exodus. So how could there be a Return, the core premise of
Israeli statehood?

If this patch of Palestinian land never rightly belonged to a mythical
Jewish People, what then for the legitimacy of the "Jewish homeland". And
for that depiction by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in his
November 1917 letter to Lord Rothschild?

Were Christians likewise seduced by Sunday school teachings reliant on the
phony findings of Biblical archeologist William Albright? Shlomo Sand
chronicles how in the 1920s Albright interpreted every excavation in
Palestine to "reaffirm the Old Testament and thereby the New".

In 1948, President Harry Truman, a Christian Zionist, was advised by
Secretary of State George Marshall not to recognize this enclave as a
state. This WWII general assured Truman that he would vote against him -
and did.

That military tradition resurfaced in January 2010 when General David
Petraeus dispatched a team to brief Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the perils that Israel still poses to U.S.
national security. Mullen was reportedly shocked.1

He should not have been surprised. Such insights are hardly new. More than
six decades ago the Joint Chiefs of Staff cautioned Truman about the
"fanatical concepts of the Jewish leaders" and their plans for "Jewish
military and economic hegemony over the entire Middle East".

In December 1948, Albert Einstein and 27 prominent Jews urged us "not to
support this latest manifestation of fascism". They warned that a "Leader
State" was the goal of the "terrorist party" that has governed Israel over
all but a handful of the past 62 years.

The Joint Chiefs foresaw the "Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the
U.S.] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations
intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives".

Soon after Truman recognized Israel, his presidential campaign train was
"refueled" by Zionist Jews with $400,000 in contributions ($3.6 million in
2010 dollars). Soon thereafter, Israel betrayed the U.S. by allying with
the British and the French to invade Egypt.

Though London and Paris soon abandoned the operation, months more were
required to dissuade Tel Aviv from pursuing their expansionist agenda
then - as now - for Greater Israel.

Outraged by Israeli duplicity, Eisenhower sought help to rein them in. He
soon found that even then (as now) the Israel lobby dominated Congress.
Thus the former Supreme Allied Commander appeared on television with an
appeal directly to the American people. Then - unlike now - a U.S.
Commander in Chief threatened to reduce assistance to Israel.

To revamp Israel's tattered image, New York public relations expert Edward
Gottlieb retained novelist Leon Uris to write Exodus. Jewish Zionists have
routinely proven themselves skilled storytellers and masterful mythmakers.

This 1958 bestseller was translated into dozens of languages and quickly
made into a movie for the 1960 Christmas season starring Paul Newman and
featuring Peter Lawford, brother-in-law of the just-elected President John
F. Kennedy.2

                     The Myth of a Loyal Ally

Phil Tourney survived the June 8, 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty
that left 34 Americans dead and 175 wounded. The region-wide dynamics
accompanying that provocative Six-Day land grab guaranteed the conflicts
that remain so perilous to U.S. national security.

It was during this Israeli operation that Tourney gave a one-fingered
salute to armed Israeli troops as they hovered in helicopters over the USS
Liberty while preparing to rappel to the deck and, he surmises, kill the
survivors and sink the ship.

Just then the captain aboard a nearby U.S. carrier scrambled jets to
assist a vessel under attack by an "ally". When Israeli intelligence
intercepted the transmission, the helicopters fled only to have President
Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recall our fighters.

Soon thereafter, Israeli torpedo boats pulled alongside the USS Liberty to
inquire if those aboard needed assistance. Those same boats had just blown
a hole in the hull, killing 25 Americans. Israeli machine-gunners had then
strafed stretcher-bearers, firemen, life rafts and even the fire hoses -
all clear war crimes. Only then did this ally display the chutzpah to ask
if our servicemen required assistance.

Had that notorious land grab failed to advance the narrative of Israel as
the victim, what might be the condition of U.S. national security today?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently conceded the duplicity
that continues to typify this "special relationship".

As he confessed: "Our policy on Jerusalem is the same policy followed by
all Israeli governments for 42 years, and it has not changed. As far as we
are concerned, building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv".

In other words, the 1967 war was neither defensive nor preemptive but an
outright taking of land that, one year later, Tel Aviv acknowledged as
precisely what concerned the Pentagon 62 years ago.

In effect, Netanyahu confirmed that this relationship reflects
multi-decade premeditation. The U.S. has since discredited itself by
protecting this "ally" from the rule of law for its taking and brutal
occupation of land that rightly belongs to others.

Even now, few know that Mathilde Krim, a former Irgun operative, was
"servicing" our Commander-in-Chief in the White House the night the 1967
war began. Her husband, Arthur, then chaired the finance committee for the
Democratic National Committee.

Even now, few Americans know the role in that cover-up played by Admiral
John McCain, Jr. Or the role still played in this sordid history by his
son, Republican Senator John McCain III.3

Are those who champion this "state" the same belief-makers responsible for
the myth of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Iraqi meetings in Prague?
Iraqi mobile biological weapons laboratories? High-level Iraqi contacts
with Al Qaeda? Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger?

Was any of that intelligence legitimate? Whose interests were served by
deceiving the U.S. to wage war in the Middle East? By the Suez Crisis? By
the Six-Day War? By covering up the attack on the USS Liberty?

                        Adhering to an Enemy?

How are U.S. interests served by treating Israel as a legitimate state?
When was Israeli behavior anything other than duplicitous? At what point
do we concede the common source of the storylines foisted on an imperiled
global public?

Who created the narrative that saw us segue seamlessly from a global Cold
War to a global War on Terrorism? Remember the promise of a post-Cold War
"peace dividend"? Who induced the U.S. to wage a war whose costs could
total $3 trillion, including $700 billion in interest?

Why is debt always the prize? At the end of WWII, the U.S. was home to 50%
of the world's productive power. Were we induced to hollow out our economy
by the same consensus-shapers that induced us to wage war in the Middle

       Do these devastating dynamics trace to a common source?

Who benefits from the "Islamo" fascist narrative? Whose storyline - really
- is The Clash of Civilizations? Who has long spied on the U.S. and
routinely transferred to other nations our most sensitive defense

Who had the means, motive, opportunity and, importantly, the stable nation
state intelligence required to perpetrate such a debilitating fraud from
inside the U.S. government? And from inside other governments that joined
the "coalition of the willing"?

If not Israel and its supporters - who? In effect, are those now
advocating an "unbreakable bond" with Israel giving aid and comfort to an
enemy within?

Israel is right to worry. It was never legitimate. As both an enabler and
a target of this fraud, the U.S. has an obligation to concede its source -
and to secure the weapons of mass destruction now under the control of
this enclave.

1. See: "The Petraeus Briefing" [.]
2. See: "Time for an American Intifada?" [.]
3. See: "McCain Family Secret: The Cover-up" [.]

Jeff Gates is author of Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk, and The
Ownership Solution. Read other articles by Jeff, or visit Jeff's website.

--------11 of 11--------

Morality as a Plus-Sum Game
Why Libertarianism Fails as a Social Policy
by Ernest Partridge
April 8th, 2010
Dissident Voice

The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people
whatever they need to have done but can not do at all or can not do well
for themselves in their separate or individual capacities.
  - Abraham Lincoln

It is written that when Rabbi Hillel (a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth)
was asked to recite the essence of The Law of Moses while standing on one
foot, he replied: "What is hateful to thyself do not do to another. That
is the whole Law, the rest is Commentary".

After several decades of studying, publishing and teaching moral
philosophy, I believe that I can identify the foundation of morality in a
single breath: "Morality is a plus-sum game".

These precepts are not contrary, for they are of differing logical orders.
Hillel's precept is a moral commandment - an ethical rule of conduct. On
the other hand, "morality is a plus-sum game" is an account of the
foundation of morality; what philosophers call "meta-ethics".

So just what is the meaning of "morality is a plus-sum game?" While it is
easy enough to articulate this question, spelling out an answer might
require volumes of elaboration, as indeed it has. But here, at least, are
a few initial steps.**

The late American philosopher, John Rawls, explained this principle with
admirable clarity when he wrote:  "[A] society is a cooperative venture
for mutual advantage. [S]ocial cooperation makes possible a better life
for all than any would have if each were to live solely by his own

This insight is by no means original with Rawls. It resounds throughout
the history of philosophy and political theory. Moreover, it is proven
time and again in the experience of successful civilizations and,
conversely, in the decline and fall of other civilizations.

Accordingly, this proven insight clearly explains why a radically
individualistic political dogma such as libertarianism is not only
immoral, it is empirically unworkable. Any society based upon such a dogma
is bound to fail to satisfy the legitimate needs of its citizens.

                        About Game Theory:

Game theory, which was developed by John von Neuman and Oskar Morgenstern
in the forties, "attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic
situations, in which an individual's success in making choices depends
upon the choices of others". (John Nash, portrayed in the movie, A
Beautiful Mind, won his Nobel Prize in economics for his work in game
theory). While game theory can involve some highly advanced mathematical
elaborations, the essentials can be readily understood by the ordinary

In its most general sense, a "game" is a cooperative, rule-governed and
goal-directed activity.

With the rare exception of solitaire, games involve multiple "players:"
two individuals (e.g., tennis and chess), two teams (e.g. football),
several individuals or teams (e.g. lotteries, tournaments), and entire
societies (e.g., governments, morality). If there are two players or teams
and the game is designed to result in one winner and one loser, it is
called a "zero sum game". Tennis and chess are zero sum games. If there
are multiple players and only one winner, the game is designated as "minus
sum". Lotteries and tennis tournaments are minus sum games. Competitive
games are either zero-sum or minus-sum. Such games are also "cooperative"
in the sense that the players agree to obey the rules.

However, there are other "cooperative, rule-governed, goal oriented"
activities in which the players cooperate to produce positive results,
i.e. "wins", for all players. While such activities are generally not
called games, they nonetheless fit the definition: "cooperative,
rule-governed and goal oriented".

For example, from the point of view of the teams and the spectators,
football is a zero sum game: one team wins and the other loses. But from
the point of view of the participating players, it is a plus-sum game:
each player interacts with the other team members in a well-coordinated
activity which, when well-executed, results in a gain for all the team
players that none can accomplish alone; namely, a win.

A freely consummated barter or purchase is a plus-sum game - cooperative,
rule governed and goal oriented - in that each participant gains through
the transaction. If I have more vehicles than I want and my house is in
need of repair, and if my neighbor, a skilled carpenter, needs a car, then
a trade of my car for his labor leaves us both better off. For a sale to
take place, both the buyer and the seller must perceive a personal
advantage in the transaction. Not surprisingly, game theory has attracted
the intense interest of economists.

Science is a plus-sum game.  It is cooperative: an accumulated
accomplishment of millions of working scientists through the centuries. It
is rule-governed: following strict rules of inference and evidence, and
requirements of publicity, replicability and falsifiability. And it is
oriented toward the goal of establishing verifiable truth.

A well-ordered society is also a plus-sum game, whereby capital, labor,
education and government function cooperatively according to mutually
acknowledged and enforceable rules (i.e., laws and regulations) in pursuit
of common goals. These common goals are clearly articulated in the
Preamble to the United States Constitution: justice, domestic tranquility,
common defense, general welfare, and "the blessings of liberty".

Each institutional "player" in a successful "plus-sum game" of a just
economic/political order needs the cooperative efforts of the other
players if that society is to accomplish, in John Rawls's words, "a better
life for all than any would have if each were to live solely by his own

In contrast, a libertarian (unregulated "free market") economy is
minus-sum game in the extreme: few winners, a great many losers. As we are
discovering in the United States today.

Many non-competitive sporting activities are also plus-sum games,
including mountain climbing, sailing, and tandem (two person) canoeing,
all of which require well coordinated "team play" to achieve a
well-defined goal.

A personal example: I am a life-long aficionado of white-water boating (in
kayaks and canoes). Well before I acquired much experience and skill in
this sport, I persuaded my brother to run a swift Utah river with me in
his new canoe. Each of us had independent ideas as to how to maneuver the
thing. In short, two captains and no crew. Rock straight ahead?  Bow wants
to go right, and stern wants to go left.  It was a near disaster. As any
tandem canoeist will tell you, a successful river run (a plus sum) can
only be accomplished with an ability to "read the water" and to execute
coordinated paddle strokes according to unambiguous decisions by the
designated "captain". Similarly with successful team climbs and sailing

                     The Virtues as Plus-Sum:

Time now to assess my contention that a moral order in society is a plus
sum game. Consider the usual roster of moral virtues: honesty,
trustworthiness, courage, compassion, charity, loyalty and, perhaps most
fundamentally, empathy - the capacity to share another's joy and to feel
another's pain.  Is it not abundantly obvious that the more virtuous the
members of a society, the greater the plus-sum "payoffs" of social life?
Economic transactions would be conducted with full knowledge and
confidence, with no "inefficient" losses due to default, deceptive
advertising, or fraudulent contracts. Marriages would be secure and
enduring. Government officials could be expected to serve their
constituents, free of bribery and corruption. In a community of optimally
trustworthy, compassionate, tolerant and generous individuals, there would
be no need to invest community resources in police, criminal courts and

Such a consideration led James Madison to conclude that "if men were
angels, no government would be necessary".3 Regarding the codification and
enforcement of criminal law, Madison was no doubt correct. Even so, his
pronouncement is an overstatement, for even in a society of angels, some
government would be necessary. For example, there would have to be traffic
laws, no matter how virtuous the drivers, if traffic were to move safely
and efficiently. Once the traffic lights fail, the freedom to move is
obliterated in the resulting chaos. In general, if a game is to be played
successfully - including the "game" of economic/political activity - the
players must know the rules, even if there is total assurance that no one
will cheat and thus there is no need whatever to enforce the rules with
the threat of penalties.

There are, to be sure, some traditional "virtues" that contribute little
to the mutual advantages of community life. David Hume called these "the
monkish virtues," and they include celibacy, fasting, penance,
mortification, self-denial, silence and solitude. Of these, Hume observed:
"they serve to no manner of purpose; neither advance a man's fortune in
the world, nor render him a more valuable member of society".4 With Hume,
I conclude that these traits scarcely qualify as "virtues" at all, but
rather are the consequences of "superstition and false religion".

                    The Vices as Minus-Sum:

In contrast, moral vices subvert and stifle the mutual advantages of
social life, which, I contend, is precisely why they are vices. Foremost
among these are pride, cruelty, ruthlessness, hatred, prejudice,
dishonesty, selfishness, greed. Add to these "an absence of empathy"
which, as I have argued elsewhere, may be the most fundamental of the

Each of these vices shred the fabric of an orderly society, as they make
cooperation impossible or even counter-productive, as they undermine
rules, and as they subvert the pursuit of common goals. In a society of
liars, contracts can not be made. When prejudice and hatred prevail, all
citizens can not be equal before the law. A representative republic can
not endure if public officials can not be trusted. And an ideology that
prizes selfishness and greed cannot be the foundation of a flourishing
economic/political system.

The Inevitable Failure of Libertarianism as a Social Theory:

I most emphatically do not wish to suggest that libertarians are wicked
people. Many libertarians that I know personally, and others that I know
by reputation, are as tolerant, unbiased, generous and charitable as any
liberal, and even more so than some liberals of my acquaintance. Some
libertarians are so tolerant that they invite me and other liberals to
publish in their journals and participate in their conferences.

However, as libertarians, they believe that the promotion of these virtues
is no business of the government. Charity and tolerance, they insist, are,
and must remain, private virtues. To the libertarian, a voluntary
contribution to the poor or to a school, museum or park is morally
commendable. But taxation in support of welfare, education, museums and
parks is theft. As for cruelty, ruthlessness and dishonesty, these vices
are regarded by the libertarians as self-defeating and, when exposed in
practice, these vices fail in a free market and in the unregulated
association of free individuals. Any vices that constrain the fundamental
"negative" rights life, liberty and property, can legitimately be
sanctioned and punished by the "minimalist" libertarian government.

Even so, despite any private virtues of individual libertarians, as a
public political philosophy libertarianism is morally inadequate. In
practice, it will produce minus-sum consequences.

Consider once again, our criteria of a plus-sum game: a cooperative,
rule-governed, goal directed activity aimed toward accomplishing mutual

Libertarian doctrine drops the cooperation criterion of gamesmanship in
favor of "YOYO" - "you're on your own".  The libertarian dogma of "the
invisible hand" decrees that a collection of self-serving individuals
seeking only to maximize their own personal freedom and wealth, will
somehow, by "spontaneous generation," evolve into an optimum social
arrangement. No explicit rules and regulations are required apart from
those laws designed to achieve the goal of the protection of the lives,
liberties and property of each individual.

It is a neat and simple belief system which, unfortunately, neither
history nor practical experience will validate. Instead, history has
taught us that when a society officially embraces what Ayn Rand calls "the
virtue of selfishness" and greed becomes the controlling force in
community life, wealth and power do not "trickle down" to the masses, they
"percolate up" to those in control, leaving those masses impoverished and
disenfranchised. Government, having been "drowned in a bathtub," offers no
relief to the oppressed. "The free market" and "competitive enterprise,"
extolled by the libertarians in theory, are set aside in practice. The
prevailing capitalists regard competition as inefficient and inconvenient,
and still worse, the constant competitive pressure to improve and innovate
erodes profits. Hence mergers and acquisitions. Say goodbye to Mom and Pop
stores and Downtown, USA. Say hello to Wall-Mart, Costco and Home Depot.
Say goodbye to a free and diverse media. Say hello to the new "Ministry of
Truth:" six media mega-corporations in control of 80% of the nation's
media, spewing out the official doctrines of "the free market" and
"government is the problem".

How, then, are diversity, free markets and competition to be preserved?
How else than through the intervention of anti-trust laws, which means an
activist government, which, of course, is anathema to the libertarian.

The eventual result? "Life, liberty and property" for the privileged few,
with poverty and servitude for all the rest. A minus-sum game.

"You are on your own" does not work with tandem canoeing, nor with a
social order. Without cooperative effort, without commonly acknowledged
rules sanctioned and enforced by law, and without shared goals, a society
cannot succeed.

             Liberty and Autonomy in a Plus-Sum Society.

"What you are describing," replies the libertarian, "is the 'order' of bee
hive or of an ant colony. Pure communism. Not a place where I would want
to live. How can personal liberty and autonomy thrive in your 'cooperative
venture for mutual advantage'?"

A wise answer was told to me by a Russian friend, a professor at Moscow
University, during the "cowboy capitalism" days following the collapse of
Soviet communism. "Under communism," she observed, "we had order without
freedom. Then we had freedom without order, only to discover that without
order, there is no freedom".

The libertarian and the liberal concur in their desire to maximize
personal liberty. However, the libertarian advocates freedom without order
- without, that is, an institutional structure that will ensure freedom
for all. Absent such a structure, liberty, like wealth, will "percolate
up" to those in charge, "with liberty for some," leaving the masses with
nothing but their squalor and oppression.

The liberal, on the other hand, strives to establish and maintain the
social, economic and political order without which there is no freedom.
The liberal understands that the economic output and the civil liberties
of a society are the products of the joint contributions of all members of
society - of the plus-sum cooperative, rule governed and goal oriented
efforts of all. Because no social order operates without some "friction,"
there are inevitably victims of social and economic misfortune: the
unemployed, the bankrupt, the abandoned.  Add to these, the victims of
natural misfortunes - accidents, disease, birth defects, earthquakes,
hurricanes, tornados, etc.

Voluntary charity to these unfortunates, as advocated by the libertarians,
is commendable. But it is insufficient. Good for the souls of the
charitable, but not very helpful to those in need. There are just too many
of them. Moreover, voluntary charity is a "tax on virtue," as are private
donations to education, museums, libraries, concerts and parks. Most
citizens correctly reflect, "I might contribute, but even if I do, my one
contribution will not abolish poverty and ignorance, nor will it add
significantly to civic excellence". To accomplish these common benefits,
all must contribute through taxes. And with this understanding, most
enlightened citizens will pay their taxes willingly, as they likewise
support legislation designed to relieve suffering and to promote the
common good.

"Taxes," wrote Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, "are the price we pay for
civilization", the very civilization that is prerequisite to any and all
personal wealth.  Accordingly, it is not unjust to require the
beneficiaries of civilization to share in the burden of its maintenance.
However, there may be justifiable reasons to complain about the
distribution of this burden.

"Necessitous men are not free men," FDR observed in 1936. The liberal
realizes, as the libertarian does not, that if personal liberty is to be
maximized in society, it is not enough merely to guarantee the life,
liberty and property of each individual.

The social contract of a just community also requires that if the citizens
are to enjoy "the blessings of liberty," the pre-conditions of liberty
must be attended to: namely, public education, economic opportunity, equal
opportunity, the protection of common resources, and the promotion of
civic institutions.

As the English conservative, Edmund Burke observed "[Society is] a
partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a
partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a
partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who
are living, those who are dead and those who are to be born.

1. A Theory of Justice, p. 4. [.]

2. For more about game theory and the "plus-sum" nature of a just society,
see Chapter 5 ("Good for Each, Bad for All" ) and Chapter 6 ("The Moral
Point of View:) of my book in progress, Conscience of a Progressive. [.]

3. The Federalist, 51. [.]

4. Enquiry Concerning Morals, IX:1. [.]

Ernest Partridge is the co-editor of The Crisis Papers.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
                     over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02
              please send all messages in plain text no attachments

                          vote third party
                           for president
                           for congress
                          now and forever

                           Socialism YES
                           Capitalism NO

 To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg
 --------8 of x--------
 do a find on

 Research almost any topic raised here at:
  Dissident Voice
  Common Dreams
 Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones

  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.