- Why Angela Merkel has lasted so long Wolfgang Streeck, spiked!
- United States of Greater Austria Wikipedia
- Afghanistan and liberal hegemony Lawrence Freedman, New Statesman
- Diary of the guy who drove the Trojan Horse back from Troy James Folta, New Yorker
- Why is there no Rooseveltian school of foreign policy? Deudney & Ikenberry, Foreign Policy
- It’s time to drop the curtain on Japan’s colonial legacy Meindert Boersma, Lausan
- The ides of August (Afghanistan) Sarah Chayes (h/t Mark from Placerville)
- Rep. Barbara Lee on Afghanistan, 20 years later Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair
- Property rights imply social liability, not privilege Rosolino Candela, EconLog
- The lingering scars of World War I Cal Flyn, Atlas Obscura
- Is the Arctic turning blue? (hawkish) Sonoko Kuhara, Diplomat
- Myanmar (or is it Burma?) Zachary Abuza, War on the Rocks
- Placing the American secession in global perspective Steven Pincus, Age of Revolutions
- Trotsky after Kolakowski Branko Milanovic, globalinequality
- A guide to finding faith Ross Douthat, New York Times
- Cancel culture: A recantation Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth
- Art and exile in the Third Republic Hannah Stamler, the Nation
- Spending on infrastructure doesn’t always end well Richard White, Conversation
- Kabul and Chicago NEO, Nebraska Energy Observer
- The price of Tucker Carlson’s soul Andrew Sullivan, Weekly Dish
I didn’t see a draft by Michalis this week, so I thought I’d jump in and substitute. I hope is well with everybody.
I am guest editing a special issue at the academic journal Cosmos + Taxis. It’s been challenging. The most challenging part has been finding reviewers, but the process is slowly coming along nicely. I have a longer update later this week, but for now, I hope all of you will think twice before arguing that non-intervention is the libertarian foreign policy position. It’s not. Federation is.
But it’s more complicated than that. More later. Ciao ciao
Somaliland just held elections recently. Political scientist Scott Pegg was there as an international observer. I reprint his report with his permission:
I was in Somaliland as an international election observer for their parliamentary and local council elections on May 31st. The blog I did with Michael Walls has lots of cool photos in it if you want to see low-tech democracy in action in an extremely poor country in the Horn of Africa: https://defactostates.ut.ee/blog/observing-somaliland%E2%80%99s-2021-parliamentary-and-local-council-elections.
So, the biggest problem by far with Somaliland elections is that there is almost no policy or ideological differences between the candidates (everyone wants them to be recognized, everyone wants to promote livestock exports, etc.). Candidates will loudly proclaim how they fundamentally differ from their opponents but then when you ask them something like “give me three key issues you disagree about,” they start mumbling and deflecting. Unfortunately, much of their politics is clan-based (and often sub-clan based). When I was there for the 2017 presidential elections, a seasoned political observer who is a friend of mine gave me this incredible breakdown of “we’ve got this clan, that sub-clan and the other sub-clan, they’ve got this clan, that sub-clan and the other sub-clan and the only unknown variables are this clan and that sub-clan.” It was exactly like John King pulling up different electoral maps on CNN, just without the maps and the technology. Based on his analysis, I asked if I could get posted to either Burco (where I was sent in both 2017 and 2021) or Boroma because they were what he correctly predicted were the equivalents of “swing states” in their election. So that’s the depressing part.
The inspiring part is that there are several minor issues or problems, but the elections themselves are incredibly peaceful, festive, free, fair and orderly. The single biggest problem I saw this time was an unsealed ballot box. The polling station staff knew it was a serious problem and had already called the regional electoral headquarters to ask for additional seals to be brought out. Yet, the box is sitting in the middle of the room in full view of all voters and all observers and no one is tampering with it in any way. I initially thought the polling station I saw close was closing early and leaving a few dozen voters in line locked out of the process. Then, I soon discover that it is a 20 minute break for evening prayer time, after which they resume voting and stay open 90 minutes late to accommodate everyone who was in line before the polls close. They weren’t supposed to do that, it was technically wrong, but it wasn’t anything that was done with any kind of fraud or malicious intent and all the voters were totally cool with it. The one area where they totally violate international norms is on the secrecy of the ballot. Voters can vote in secret but large numbers of them just don’t care if people know who they are voting for and walk into the polling station loudly proclaiming I want to vote for X or Y candidate. The election staff either shows them how to do this or does it for them and then shows the ballot to all observers so they can see the voter’s intent was carried out. Alternatively, some voters vote in secret but then go up to the political party observers and say something like can you verify that I actually voted for X and Y candidates, which they then do honestly and scrupulously. They have assorted small problems or mistakes, but absolutely zero fraud, systemic irregularities or malevolent intent. Watching the process on election day is truly inspiring and I wish more Americans who are so jaded and cynical about our democracy could see it.
I have been offline for awhile now. Michelangelo shot me an email the other day alerting me to the fact that Fred Foldvary passed away earlier this month.
I first met Fred in person at an undergraduate summer seminar hosted by the Independent Institute in Oakland, and I had no idea what he was talking about (he was lecturing on interest rates). His writing over the years has convinced me of the soundness of a land tax, so much so that I call myself a geolibertarian if push comes to shove, and his selflessness with his time will never be forgotten.
Fred was an important voice for liberty once the Ron Paul moment got libertarianism out of its doldrums. The brutalists, led by Jeffrey Tucker, were pushing liberty in a decidedly non-liberal direction and many Ron Paul fans got discouraged by what they found. Fred was one of the people laboring hard to stress liberty’s humane-ness.
Without his encouragement, NOL would have never gotten off the ground.
Fred’s death coincides with the death of another prominent libertarian: Steve Horwitz, who was also instrumental in making libertarianism humane at a time when liberty was being pimped as a creed for conservatives with no hearts.
May they rest in peace.
I’m reminded of an MR entry by Tyler Cowen a couple of months ago in which he remarks that the “energetic young talent” in libertarianism now often seems more intent on “projects for building entire new political worlds” — charter cities, blockchain — than on theory, political, economic, etc. (https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2021/04/where-is-non-state-capacity-libertarianism-evolving.html)
I think there’s truth in that. But theory is still needed. It’s what gives us our organizing principles and inspiration.
That’s just the trouble with the bloggers mentioned, and I don’t mean the blog format. It’s the smallish scope of thinking: books on voting behavior, the university education system, immigration and open borders. This sort of thing is fine, but it’s not fundamental theory.
The purist libertarianism (rights absolutism, the “non-aggression axiom”) exemplified by Rand, Nozick, and Rothbard has been a dead end, I think. It is readily grasped, and it has the capacity to inspire, but it isn’t true. And the gradual realization of this has led to its collapse.
This collapse has left us somewhat rudderless. That’s how I feel, anyway. We need a new paradigm. The way to think about society is evolutionarily, or so it seems to me. That points to Hayek. But he had little to say about morals, and libertarianism should provide a moral vision. What is needed is a way to put these two together.
(The best evolutionary theorist of society—that I know of—is Joe Henrich. Both his books, The Secret of Our Success, and The WEIRDest People in the World, are terrific. But of course he’s neither a libertarian nor a moralist.)
This is from David Potts, responding to yours truly in the comments.
I have to think about this a bit more.