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Simón Bolívar: Liberator or Tyrannical Demagogue?

December 14, 2017 in Economics

By José Niño


By: José Niño

Latin American revolutionary Simón Bolívar is commonly referred to as the George Washington of Latin America by numerous scholars and political figures. Bolívar’s military prowess was unquestioned, as he led a vigorous liberation campaign that freed present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela from the grasp of the Spanish Empire. Bolívar’s exploits have become legend in Latin American political history, with numerous countries fashioning themselves as “Bolivarian” in their style of governance. From leftist parties like the late Hugo Chávez’s Socialist Unity Party to establishment conservative parties, Latin American elites have repeatedly channeled the image of Bolívar in order to create an aura of political legitimacy.

Despite such adulation, is Simón Bolívar worthy of such praise?

Digging deeper reveals a less rosy picture of the renowned Latin American leader. In fact, the life of Simón Bolívar is a story filled with despotism, war atrocities, and illiberal views on governance.

Bolívar Unmasked

Despite Bolívar’s mythical status in history books, his wartime actions painted a completely different image of the “Liberator”— one filled with atrocities and disdain for the rule of law. Drawing from several historical pieces from historian Pablo Victoria, Colombian economist Pol Victoria (no relation) recently exposed some of Bolívar’s atrocities. A rough translation of Victoria’s interview reveals several of Bolívar’s heinous actions during the Latin American Wars of Independence:

  • A declaration of War to the Death against all the royalists (Spanish sympathizers) that did not aid Bolívar in his independence campaign.
  • The sacking of various towns during the Battle of Taguanes in 1813 with a specific focus on killing all the “Europeans and Canarians”.
  • After defeating a greatly diminished Royalist army at Acarigua, Bolívar ordered the summary execution of 600 prisoners in December 1813.
  • Around February 1814, Bolívar ordered the execution 1,200 civilians, with explicit orders to summarily execute the Spaniards among them. Due to the scarcity of gunpowder, Bolivar’s forces executed many of the prisoners with pikes and swords, and were then finished off by crushing their skulls with rocks.

Even in times of peace, Bolívar extended his arbitrary despotism to the political realm. From the start, Bolívar was no fan of classical liberalism. He expressed his skepticism towards federalism in his famous Cartagena Manifesto:

But what most weakened the government of Venezuela was the federalist structure it adopted, embodying the exaggerated notion of the rights of man. By stipulating that each man should rule himself, …read more


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Too Many Women Think They Suffer Personal Issues Alone Until They Speak Out; It's Time to Change That

December 14, 2017 in Blogs

By Claudia Chan, Da Capo Press

Personal problems won’t get solved unless we're courageous enough to take positive action.

The following is an excerpt from the new book 

Related Stories

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Why America Fails at Gathering Hate Crime Statistics

December 14, 2017 in Blogs

By Ken Schwencke, ProPublica

The FBI relies on local law enforcement to report bias-motivated crimes, but many agencies fumble this task.

This originally appeared on  In the early hours of June 5, 2015, Gary Bravo was leaving Sammy T’s in downtown Huntsville, Alabama. The club was hosting a gay night because the last of the city’s few gay bars had closed and some downtown bars were picking up the slack.

As Bravo walked out with two co-workers, they encountered a group of young men. One grabbed Bravo’s friend, and Bravo intervened. The next thing he remembers, someone spun him around, and he was on the ground being punched and kicked while his attackers shouted homophobic slurs. Faggot. Cocksucker.

“A couple more hits and I would have ended up being brain dead,” he recalled.

Bravo suffered extensive injuries from the attack. His right eye was bloodied and swollen, and he couldn’t see from it for weeks. His eye socket had to be reconstructed.

Despite his attackers’ words during the beating, police did not investigate it as a hate crime, or report it to state or federal authorities as one.

Bravo’s case is just one of thousands lost each year to a deeply flawed system for collecting hate crime data, one that has left the U.S. with unreliable, incomplete official counts and little handle on the true scope of bias-motivated violence.

Under a federal law passed in 1990, the FBI is required to track and tabulate crimes in which there was “manifest evidence of prejudice” against a host of protected groups, including homosexuals, regardless of differences in how state laws define who’s protected. The FBI, in turn, relies on local law enforcement agencies to collect and submit this data, but can’t compel them to do so.

The evidence suggests that many police agencies across the country are not working very hard to count hate crimes. Thousands of them opt not to participate in the FBI’s hate crime program at all. Among the 15,000 that do, some 88 percent reported they had no hate crimes. According to federal records, the Huntsville Police Department has never reported a hate crime.

Local law enforcement agencies …read more


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In a Stateless World, Can You Grow Veggies In Your Front Yard?

December 14, 2017 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken


By: Ryan McMaken

The Miami Herald reports that a local couple is going all the way to the state supreme court to fight a local ordinance banning front-yard vegetable gardens:

Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll may grow fruit trees and flowers in the front yard of their Miami Shores house…

Vegetables, however, are not allowed.

Ricketts and Carroll thought they were gardeners when they grew tomatoes, beets, scallions, spinach, kale and multiple varieties of Asian cabbage. But according to a village ordinance that restricts edible plants to backyards only, they were actually criminals.

“That’s what government does – interferes in people’s lives,” Ricketts said. “We had that garden for 17 years. We ate fresh meals every day from that garden. Since the village stepped its big foot in it, they have ruined our garden and my health.”

These sorts of stories pop up several times a year. They are often discussed at free-market oriented and libertarian sites to illustrate just the myriad of ways that the state interferes in our daily lives. Many times, they intervene to prohibit totally innocuous activities like growing a front-yard garden.

What articles like these often fail to point out of course, is that these laws didn't appear out of nowhere. They are often passed because some voters demanded the city council or the county commission pass laws prohibiting front-yard gardens, or backyard chicken coops, or other non-violent activities deemed by some to be a nuisance to the neighborhood. These laws then persist over time because the majority of voters either agree with the laws, or don't feel strongly enough about the matter to demand a change.

In Miami Shores, the law against front-yard gardens was likely passed because at least a few people felt that front yard gardens were not so innocuous after all.

This situation illustrates, yet again, a problem with majoritarian government. If a majority of the citizens of Miami Shores — or whatever jurisdiction — hate front-yard gardens, then they likely to vote for candidates who will vote to ban them. The minority, of course, is simply out of luck.

The implied solution in many of these free-market publications is that government should just get out of the business of regulating front yards. OK. But then people will begin to ask the inevitable questions:

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Was John Brown Sane?

December 14, 2017 in Economics

By Chris Calton


By: Chris Calton

The exploits of John Brown have long fascinated historians. His actions, for better or worse, certainly had a significant effect on the country prior to Southern secession, but the fascination with Brown is largely driven by the enigma the man himself has proven to be. In trying to explain his actions and motives, historians have wrestled with questionable and biased testimonies by the people who knew him, and many of the mysteries surrounding John Brown have been explained – then and now – by mental disorders.

But was John Brown crazy? Diagnosing historical figures is an ambitious task, but the history of where the insanity claim for John Brown came from is insightful.

Psychiatry was evolving in the medical field in the beginning of the nineteenth century. For centuries, physicians in the western world acknowledged four basic psychological illnesses. The first was mania, which was exhibited through erratic behavior, irritability, and wild, racing thoughts. Second was melancholia, which was essentially depression. The third was dementia, defined much as it is today. And finally, there was delirium, which was characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disorientation.

In 1838, Isaac Ray published his Treatise on the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity. This work was used largely to aid psychiatric diagnoses for legal purposes. For mania, Ray offered sub-categories that sought to refine this classic form of madness. “Partial intellectual mania” described what was, at the time, commonly being referred to as “monomania.” Symptoms for monomania varied, describing cases that would likely be diagnosed by modern psychiatrists under various distinct labels. In one class of cases of monomania Ray wrote about, the disorder would breed “a train of morbid ideas,” with “one insane notion disappearing to give place to another and another.”

In a later section, Ray writes, “Though monomaniacs are generally ready enough to declare their predominant idea, yet when sufficient inducement exists, such as interests, fear of ridicule etc., they will occasionally conceal it.”

Ray also devoted a chapter to what he termed “moral mania,” which included a subcategory of “partial moral mania.” Insanity, Ray noted, “often affects the moral, as it does the intellectual perceptions.” With partial moral mania, “the derangement is confined to one or a few of the affective faculties, the rest of the moral and intellectual constitution preserving its ordinary integrity.” When this manifested, the disorder compelled “the individual to action by a kind of instinctive irresistibility.” For “homicidal” …read more