The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress - FLNWO #33

03/14/20169 Comments

This month on Film, Literature and the New World Order David Friedman joins us to discuss Robert Heinlein's science fiction classic, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. We discuss the power of Heinlein's example of an anarchistic society and examine that society's devolution into democracy. We also talk about whether books like this have value as metaphor or even blueprint for an anarchist transformation of society.

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Last month’s episode and comments: The Big Short

Next month: Three Days of the Condor

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Comments (9)

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  1. jconlon says:


    There is an alternate angle (view point) that one can take of the this work.

    Their are two actually. The first can be view from a man by the name of Ronald Hadley Stark. He was a key supplier and considered by most as an intelligence asset within the world of the Psychedelic movement. You can do an internet search on his name and see relationships to his name and this book. Better to read the book ‘ACID: A New Secret History of LSD’ to get the full context. Ron Stark mentioned ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ as his blueprint for the kind of revolution he was waging. Strange but most people that knew him considered him a strong conservative (again think CIA type) yet he was supplying large quantities of LSD during the 70s. So what kind of revolution was Ron Stark was waging?

    In retrospect I would propose Stark’s kind was a counter-revolution against what was called at that time by the power elite (reactionaries) as the ‘a problem of too much democracy’. (Think 60s antiwar youth movement) Keep in mind one of the main themes of this book is the revolutionary cell structure it describes.

    So on the the one hand you have Robert Heinlien’s ‘Starship Troopers’ as the only novel on the required reading list at the Army War College and Annapolis for the study of small force tactics and his ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ praised by what all evidence appears to be a major intelligence operator that supplied the majority of LSD in the late 60s to 70s. (Curiously to think also of the high value the hippie movement of the day gave to his ‘Stranger in a Strange land’.)

    Another interesting tidbit in TIAHM is the continual mention of the saying: “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. How many times have we heard this saying since then? Yet I believe it was first mentioned in ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’. Now in order to understand just what this really means and how revolutionary (in a counter way) the saying is one needs to have a economic historical context to know that the whole rational of the original ‘free’ market economists was to free the market from aristocratic parasites who where getting a free lunch. That is what drove the markets and industrial expansion prior to the dawn of austerity – the attempt to give greater incentive to people adding value vs parasites sucking value out of the economy. By convincing people that ‘there was no such thing as a free lunch’ those that actually got and still get the free lunch could escape scrutiny and regulation – a true counter-revolution. This is the meaning of ‘neo-liberal’ (aka financial parasitism).

    I would say and I think both Ron Stark and Robert Heinlien would agree with me ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is not an anarchist book at all’ – it is just the contrary.


  2. shiranaihito says:

    Off-topic, but I just came across a great video to spread around:

  3. paul6 says:

    What I get from this is that modern “anarchism” is just “free market“ extremism that proposes anti-social pro-capitalist legislation, i.e. only enforcing property by force.

    That is why right wing “economists” ideologies are reproduced without any critical examination of such “theories“.

    Proudhon’s “property is theft” is just mentioned as a fig leaf. In fact “anarchism” is exactly the opposite. There is only one good: property. The rich can own the air waves. No regulation is allowed because it is evil. “Government” is bad but any law that gets the label “voluntary” slapped onto it is so OK, that you can kill someone because he/she did not pay you something? How is that “voluntary”? How can any property order be “voluntary”? What is “voluntary”?

    I have really difficulties to accept that James who produces such informative videos can be a follower of such an obviously inconsistent illogical and obviously unjust, violence-inducing and pro-rich pro-suppression of the masses ideology.

    If it were not for his great work outside of anything “anarchist/voluntarist” I would not pay a cent for this.

    Frankly, I am disgusted by this anarchist, manchester-capitalist economist nonsense.

    But … Maybe I am wrong and anarchism is a good thing. Then please explain. What is property? How much property is allowed? Who determines that? What can a proprietor do to “defend” his/her property? Are there any actions considered “criminal” in anarchism? Who determines that? What is with people who do not have property and need work to sustain their living? Will they get work? Will the “market” solve this? How? Is the market a self-regulating beneficial mechanism? Why do you believe that? What if you are wrong? Etc. etc.

    I have never met an anarchist who can even in the least bit give answer to such kind of questions. And that included everything I have read or seen by James, b.t.w.

    • ralphodavis says:

      I think one first must separate and identify essentials of self governing principle and consider what it actually means to engage will with clear understanding of what also actually constitutes responsible self interest with intelligence and awareness.

      Hoarding what’s essential against the impoverished state of others, for example, clearly always has, however painfully eventual, self defeating results given our existential propensity to socialize.

      It’s not enough to just ask: ‘..what would one do to defend?’ Rather why would anyone with true self respect hoard at the expense of others in the first place? Beyond its sheer immorality, it’s dumb.

      Volunteerism and anarchy shouldn’t conflate with willful stupidity. That unfortunate aspect of human nature is always self correcting.

    • WannabePhilosopher says:

      If there is another system beside the market that can allocate resources effectively then I’m all ears, but I don’t hear you or anyone else suggesting one. Yes, it is a hugely flawed system, but unfortunately I don’t see a better one. In general, the more decentralized and free an economy is, the more wealth is created. Although, of course, people should be able to freely choose whatever system they want to live by, but the second they start pointing guns around and forcing others to live as they see fit that’s when it becomes a problem. Instead of seeking some central “regulatory” authority to ensure that the market directs resources appropriately why don’t you take the initiative and donate some your own surplus wealth toward that cause. It’d be a much better world if we all took that approach. In my opinion, it could be argued that you should allocate all of your surplus wealth to other individuals who OBVIOULSY need it more, but I am under no illusion that any central authority could ever implement that without it becoming a cesspool of corruption. That’s just human nature.

  4. Mark K. P. says:

    Film, Literature (etc.) all around this screen, and even on it before this episode begins, but as soon as it begins and throughout, we get Literarture. If that isn’t anarchism I don’t know what is . . .

  5. demetrios says:

    Recently I saw Tom woods interview with Keith Preston. Like Tom, I am a Rothbardian. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by all the other modes of anarchism.. I believe an interview with Keith would be illuminating.

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