All posts by Joel Schlosberg

I Protest: It Is Not a Merry May

Retlaw’s cartoon from a 1923 issue of Industrial Worker shows Wobblies being “in favor of fun” as they have some around a maypole. Public domain.

“V-U. DAY!” proclaimed the May 2 cover of the New York Post. Despite the jubilant headline and “mostly sunny, warm” weather forecast, the national mood in early May is more malaise than morning-in-America.

After all, even the classic Cold War political thriller Seven Days in May took its time revealing the scope of the challenge to the American way, rather than letting it into the open on day one.

New York mayor Eric Adams is quoted as considering it “despicable that schools will allow another country’s flag to fly in our country.” (Has Adams forgotten the Israeli flags unfurled by counterprotesters, or the multitudinous banners seen on class trips to the United Nations?)

The paranoid Post is more historically true to its founder Alexander Hamilton’s backing of the Alien and Sedition Acts than his fictionalization in The Hamilton Mixtape finding it “astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants, ‘immigrant’ has somehow become a bad word.”  Even so, they should calm down about the university populations they liken to the Axis.

Historian James Loewen emphasized that polls consistently found more approval for the wars in Vietnam and Iraq among those with college education.  Antiwar demonstrators have always been “the loud minority” of Mad magazine’s 139th cover from 1970.

Even many not viewing protesters as a fifth column on campus share the frustrations of Resentment Against Achievement author Robert Sheaffer, who sees “the largesse of the taxpaying class” leading to “far fewer concerns about productive activity” than among those who prefer to spend time on pursuits “that will yield far more gain” than “joining some probably futile protest.”

Heavy financial subsidization, extending to even nominally private American institutions, does atrophy their resource-allocation acumen in, and outside, the classroom. However, as Loewen notes, funding pays for itself as “a bulwark of allegiance” to the state.  While paralleling the “vastly extended schooling” of Castro’s Cuba and Maoist China, it results in a student body far more loyal to the USA than to the ghost of the USSR.

Ronald Radosh was haunted by that specter when he wrote of having been to New York’s “historic center of radical protest” in Union Square as a red-diaper baby from literal infancy.  In the summer of 2001, he perceived a “growing irony” that May Day parades were “the first step of my journey to America, a country where I was born but didn’t fully discover until middle age.”  Ironically, that celebration originates with labor agitators not from the twentieth century Kremlin but nineteenth century Chicago. Hippolyte Havel pointed out that organizers like Albert Parsons and Dyer Lum drew upon American experience for ideas dismissed as “foreign poison imported into the States from decadent Europe.”

For a century before Sheaffer suggested it, “pro-freedom” Americans inspired by the first May Day have been on the march “against government restrictions on our liberties.” As Liberty‘s Benjamin Tucker recommended in 1884, their supporters need “not even gather in the streets but stay at home and stand back on their rights” to win them.

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a senior news analyst at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.


  1. “I protest: It is not a merry May” by Joel Schlosberg, The Lebanon, Indiana Reporter, May 7, 2024
  2. “I Protest: It Is Not a Merry May” by Joel Schlosberg, CounterPunch, May 9, 2024
  3. “KNAPP [sic] COLUMN: I Protest: It Is Not a Merry May,” The LaGrange, Georgia Daily News, May 9, 2024
  4. “Knapp [sic]: It is not Merry May” by Thomas L. Knapp [sic], The Madill, Oklahoma Record, May 8, 2024
  5. “Opinion: I protest: It is not a merry May” by Joel Schlosberg, Newton, Iowa Daily News, May 11, 2024

Don’t Cry For Free Argentina

A specter is haunting politicians who preach liberty but get in the way of their constituents practicing it. Public domain.

Has The New York Times Magazine‘s David Wallace-Wells forgotten the star of Bedtime for Bonzo?

Maybe not, but his “Javier Milei Is a New Prophet of Apocalyptic Capitalism” (March 31) never mentions an obvious forerunner of the current president of Argentina. Wallace-Wells finds the tone of Milei’s speech at Davos 2024 on January 18 “vehement” and “millenarian,” but Milei’s conclusion that “The state is not the solution. The state is the problem itself” is a near-verbatim echo of a much-quoted line from Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address.  Most of what preceded it could have appeared in an issue of The Freeman magazine like the one Reagan was photographed reading.

Perhaps Wallace-Wells’s comparison of Milei’s “Ayn Rand regime” to “a free-market junta, this time imposed not militarily but by 55.7 percent of the popular vote” intends to evoke Reagan, even if Wallace-Wells associates the phrase “shock doctrine” with milder measures than described in Naomi Klein’s book that introduced it. Milei’s opposition to abortion is to Wallace-Wells a sign that free-marketers regard feminism as a “war on progress and achievement.” Reagan’s was a deal-breaker for Rand, who warned a Q&A audience in 1976 that “should that monster succeed in 1980 … I damn any of you who vote for him.”

Rand’s assessment of Reagan as “a cheap Hollywood ham” who “always played idiotic parts in grade-B movies” was unduly harsh.  Bonzo wasn’t in the league of Oliver Stone’s effort to remake Planet of the Apes with another California actor-governor, or even Clyde the Orangutan’s outings with a Carmel-by-the-Sea mayor. Its lead does convincingly portray a college professor whose chimpanzee-rearing antics aim to scientifically disprove that crime and vice are inevitable results of innate inferiority.

Such a bleeding-heart academic activist might expect to be denounced by the ideologue Wallace-Wells describes as “not a protectionist trade warrior speaking to the losers of globalization but a radical free marketeer who believes too much has been done to console them.” Yet Milei explains at length how economic growth cuts the losses of “the losers of globalization” by making even the poorest less poor (speaking as the head of the country whose comic strip heroine Mafalda called it a grower primarily of “pesimistas”). At least Wallace-Wells acknowledges contrasting views on trade of a politician who otherwise “shares a certain style with Trump.”

Wallace-Wells calls Milei “certainly the first avowed anarchist to be running a large modern government” for whom “all tax was coercion” while accepting Milei’s self-description as a “minarchist,” which Wallace-Wells explains as someone who would “preserve only the defense and law-enforcement functions of the state.” Samuel Edward Konkin III, who coined the term, noted that by their own reasoning minarchists called “for criminals … to fight other criminals” rather than using “free-market (all-voluntary) methods.”

Instead of wielding his office as a cudgel “against the forces of collectivism, social justice, environmentalism and feminism,” Milei could try following Arnold Schwarzenegger and Clint Eastwood with a role in a future Apes or Kong installment.

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a senior news analyst at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.


The Roads Must Grow

Putting economics and politics under the same roof, as is done with a literal “administration building” in Bradford Peck’s 1900 utopian novel The World a Department Store, didn’t make the twentieth century a paradise in reality. Public domain.

Does the exit path from William Blake’s Dark Satanic Mills lead through Trump Tower?

The Wall Street Journal‘s Alex Castellanos doesn’t quite think so, and not just because “Mr. Trump can’t be imitated” (“The Republicans Are a Party in Search of a Future,” March 1). Still, Castellanos asserts that “only the next generation of Republicans” can move past Biden-era Democrats’ vision of “goverment as a factory where they crank out laws, rules and regulations on an assembly line.”

Jared Polis, who maintains that “the government policy should be completely agnostic about what unit of exchange is used,” is conspicuously absent from Castellanos’s list of Democratic governors who “can’t imagine a world in which they wouldn’t assert top-down, mechanical control.” And while Polis may be an outlier in the current red-versus-blue map, he wouldn’t always have been.

While Biden perpetuates Donald Trump’s protectionism, it was Democrats who read Henry George’s book-length case against tariffs into the Congressional Record in 1892, the same year George challenged the notion that “there devolves on the State the necessity of intelligently organising … a great machine whose complicated parts shall properly work together under the direction of human intelligence.”

Speaking of continuations of Trump policies, Castellanos chides “Mr. Biden’s shameful retreat from Afghanistan” without noticing that the decades-long Sisyphean effort to remake that country epitomized what he calls “arrogant, old top-down government that can’t keep up with our instantly adaptive world” (when the government in question was the USSR rather than the USA, this was an obvious enough point to be made in popcorn action flicks from The Living Daylights to Rambo III).

A century after George noted that “social and industrial relations” were “not a machine which required construction, but an organism which needs only to be suffered to grow,” the March-April 1995 issue of Utne Reader contained an observation that “natural systems, such as human communities, are simply too complex to design by the engineering principles which we insist on applying to them” from John Perry Barlow, who was a Republican but one who would do such atypical activities as writing for Utne Reader.

Barlow’s Electronic Frontier Foundation helped ensure that what was still called “the information superhighway” would have the leeway to develop more horizontally than hierarchically.  The road ahead isn’t one that can be smoothed by either administration or annexation.

New Yorker Joel Schlosberg is a senior news analyst at The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.


  1. “The roads must grow” by Joel Schlosberg, The Wilson, North Carolina Times, March 5, 2024
  2. “The roads must grow” by Joel Schlosberg, The Enterprise [Williamston, North Carolina], March 5, 2024
  3. “The roads must grow” by Joel Schlosberg, The Johnstonian News [Smithfield, North Carolina], March 5, 2024
  4. “The roads must grow” by Joel Schlosberg, The Butner-Creedmoor News [Creedmoor, North Carolina], March 5, 2024
  5. “The roads must grow” by Joel Schlosberg, The Wake Weekly [Wake Forest, North Carolina], March 5, 2024
  6. “The Roads Must Grow” by Joel Schlosberg, CounterPunch, March 7, 2024
  7. “Libertarian Leanings: The roads must grow” by Joel Schlosberg, The Kingman, Arizona Daily Miner, March 8, 2024
  8. “The roads must grow” by Joel Schlosberg, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman [Wasilla, Alaska], March 11, 2024