“The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa”

We explore the consequences of ethnic partitioning, a neglected aspect of the Scramble for Africa, and uncover the following. First, apart from the land mass and water bodies, split and non-split groups are similar across several dimensions. Second, the incidence, severity, and duration of political violence are all higher for partitioned homelands which also experience frequent military interventions from neighboring countries. Third, split groups are often entangled in a vicious circle of government-led discrimination and ethnic wars. Fourth, respondents from survey data identifying with split ethnicities are economically disadvantaged. The evidence highlights the detrimental repercussions of the colonial border design.

This is from Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou, in the American Economic Review.

Is there a way of out this quagmire for Africa? The status quo, with its multilateral institutions, doesn’t seem to be working (perhaps because multilateral institutions have been grafted on to the old imperial structures), and colonialism-slash-imperialism started this problem to begin with.

What about a more radically moderate approach? What if the US (or even the EU) opened up its federation to applicants from Africa?

Nightcap

  1. Ron Paul on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (2002)
  2. The chilling effect of an attack on a scholar Conor Friedersdorf, Atlantic
  3. The childhood, schooldays, and death of Jesus Siddhartha Deb, Nation
  4. Andrew Sullivan is going back to the blog New York‘s “Intelligencer”

Nightcap

  1. Is the 2nd Amendment a rejection of nobility? John DeMaggio, Hill
  2. Is Big Tech wrecking democracy? Jonathan Taplin (interview), ScheerPost
  3. The virtue in violence? Faisal Devji, Los Angeles Review of Books
  4. When is speech violence? Bill Rein, NOL

Nightcap

  1. On broken treaties with the Natives Anderson & Crepelle, the Hill
  2. The EU’s last shot at redemption? Austin Doehler, War on the Rocks
  3. The flailing states of Britain and the US Pankaj Mishra, LRB
  4. Political freedom’s revelatory effect Matthew Crawford, Hedgehog Review

Slate Star Codex and the rationalists

Rick first alerted me to the end of the popular rationalist blog Slate State Codex. Then it was all over my internet. I have never been a huge fan of the rationalist community, mostly because they don’t do history very well, but this is a big deal.

It has also produced some great conversation on both sides of the American cultural divide. Gideon Lewis-Kraus wrote an excellent meta-piece on the whole affair. Lewis-Kraus uses “Silicon Valley” as shorthand for the intellectual right. This is more correct than wrong, even though the region votes Democrat, because Silicon Valley is more of a mindset than a geographic place.

Lewis-Kraus’s Silicon Valley is a new, decentralized informational ecology. He contrasts Silicon Valley with the old media: big corporations trying to maintain a stranglehold on “the narrative.” (Lewis-Kraus readily admits he’s part of the old media.) For Lewis-Kraus, Silicon Valley is trying to build an alternative mediascape. Big corporations such as the NY Times are fighting back.

It’s an interesting cultural war to follow, if you’re in to that kind of stuff. I can’t seem to shake my uneasiness about the rationalist community, though. As I mentioned, they don’t do history, or they don’t do it well. They are also into communes, which I distrust immensely. Utopian and communitarian experiments are bad for all of your healths (physical, emotional, etc.). I don’t know how the rationalists ended up on the side of Silicon Valley. My guess is that the big corporations didn’t like what the rationalists had to say, or how they lived, so the rationalists found solace in the decentralized ecology of Silicon Valley.

I think the verdict is still out on who the victor of this cultural war will be. The big corporations have government backing, and they own the narrative bought by most of the American public, but the old media has shown its true colors in how it covers Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for the guy but it’s obvious his administration is not being reported on by the old media; it’s being slandered and attacked, with lies or with small untruths, rather than objectively reported on. The rationalists and their decentralized allies in the Silicon Valley informational ecology at least have truth on their side. Not the truth, but a commitment to the truth by way of discussion, the sharing of information, and fighting to protect the freedom of everybody’s conscience, rather than just their own team’s conscience.

We live in interesting times, and this makes blogging – a decentralized activity if there ever was one – all the more important.

Nightcap

  1. On LBJ’s (not so) Great Society William Voegeli, New Criterion
  2. All roads need not lead to China Parag Khanna, Noema
  3. The guileful, soulful art of Khadija Saye Stuart Jeffries, Spectator
  4. Being black in Argentina Gabby Messina (interview), Latitude

The importance of gardening, isonomia, federation, and free banking

I’ve recently taken up gardening, in a very amateurish way. Right now I’ve got two plants growing out of a bucket filled with dirt. I water them every day. I talk to them. I rotate them so that different sides face the sun at different times of the day. I spray them with water, too. I have no idea what they are. I suspected they might be peppers, but I’m not sure now because there are tiny white flowers that bloom and then quickly wilt away.

I plan on building a few garden beds when I finally buy a house.

I have become convinced that if Charlie Citrine had simply taken up gardening he would not have gotten into all that trouble.


As a libertarian I think three topics are going to be huge over the next few decades: 1) inequality, 2) foreign policy/IR, and 3) financial markets. Libertarians have great potential for all three arguments, but they also have some not-so-great alternatives, too.

1) Libertarians are terrible on inequality. We try to ignore it. Jacques’ debt-based approach to reparations for slavery is as good as any for addressing inequality in the US. In addition to reparations for slavery, I think Hayek’s concept of isonomia is a great avenue for thinking through inequality at the international level. (I even thought about renaming this consortium “Isonomia” at one point in time.) Isonomia argues for political equality rather than any of the other equalities out there.

2) I think federation as a foreign policy is a great avenue for libertarians to pursue. It’s much better than non-interventionism or the status quo. It’s more libertarian, too. Federation addresses the questions of entrance and exit. It allows for political equality and market competition and open borders. It also takes into account bad international state actors like Russia and China. Dismantling the American overseas empire is needed, but large minorities want the US to stay in their countries. Leaving billions of people at the mercy of illiberal states like Russia and China is morally repugnant and short-sighted (i.e. stupid). It’d be better to dismantle the American empire via federation.

3) Free banking is a wonderful way forward for libertarians to address financial markets. Finance is a boogieman for the Left and can be used as a scapegoat on the Right. They’re not wrong. Financial markets need to be reexamined, and libertarians easily have the best alternative to the status quo out there.

Nightcap

  1. It’s time for socialists to re-embrace freedom Jodi Dean, Los Angeles Review of Books
  2. Hagia Sophia and the politics of heritage Elif Kalaycioglu, Duck of Minerva
  3. The nation-state versus the civilization-state Bruno Maçães, Noema
  4. Yo-Yo Ma and the acid-free box Shepard Barbash, City Journal

Nightcap

  1. The genealogies of migration Danijela Majstorović, Disorder of Things
  2. States versus societies Michael Koplow, Ottomans & Zionists
  3. Free expression and evolving standards Ryan Muldoon, RCLs
  4. Engakuji and the Winds of War Peter Miller, Views

Nightcap

  1. The United States needs a new foreign policy (federation not considered) William Burns, Atlantic
  2. The elusiveness of a liberal world order (federation not considered) Patrick Porter, War on the Rocks
  3. How autocrats use sovereignty in the Westphalian system Lisa Gaufman, Duck of Minerva
  4. A reflection on information and complex social orders Federico Sosa Valle, NOL

Nightcap

  1. Immigration, identities, and the state of exception Mila Dragojević, Disorder of Things
  2. Great piece on Himalayan geopolitics Akhilesh Pillalamarri, Diplomat
  3. Orders of civilization Nick Nielsen, The View from Oregon
  4. Hey Rawls: Which Original Position? Jason Brennan, 200-Proof Liberals

Nightcap

  1. A great primer on Derrida’s “deconstruction” David Gunkel, MIT Press Review
  2. Is feudalism going to make a comeback? Adam Wakeling, Quillette
  3. Yet another reason why libertarians should embrace federation as a foreign policy War on the Rocks
  4. Hunter-gatherers in outer space Nick Nielsen, The View from Oregon

Nightcap

  1. A calibrated campaign of genocide in China Kapil Komireddi, Critic
  2. The art of dissent (under Soviet communism) James Le Sueur, LARB
  3. Is citizenship just a rent? Branko Milanovic, globalinequality
  4. Local citizenship Michelangelo Landgrave, NOL

Nightcap

  1. Where is the Panchen Lama? Han & Yang, American Interest
  2. Why is China expansionist and India pacifist? Raghav Bahl, Quint
  3. Sovereignty in the Himalayas Akhilesh Pillalamarri, Diplomat
  4. Silicon Valley’s war against the media? Gideon Lewis-Kraus, New Yorker

Nightcap

  1. A personal survey of nationalisms John Kampfner, Guardian
  2. Tyler Cowen on the Harper’s free speech letter Michael Young, Policy of Truth
  3. A great example of the old way to think about reparations Pierre Lemieux, EconLog
  4. Soviet ideology and the reindeer at the end of the world Bathsheba Demuth, Emergence