- Sorry, too busy. Michalis’ Monday morning linkfest should be up in a few hours, though!
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
Folks, as you have probably guessed by now, NOL has a new blogger. His name is Vishnu, and you can read about him right here:
Vishnu Modur is a Ph.D. in molecular biology who works as a cancer biologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. He has diverse passions outside the lab setting. He is deeply interested in Indic cultural anthropology, Indic philosophy, political philosophy, and philosophy of science. He blogs about his scientific research on Medium and writes about history, politics, and culture on NOL. He quips that as a resident-alien in the United States, he can offer a unique perspective, using his resident and sometimes his ‘alien’ viewpoints on several issues.
Check out his posts so far, and don’t forget to say ‘hi’ in the comments.
I’m heading out tomorrow morning. Ouachita National Forest. Y’all take good care. I’ll be back in one week. The nightcaps are scheduled. I’ve scheduled some daily posts, too.
Plus, this is a group blog. BC out!
It’s been a heck of a year. Thanks for plugging along with Notes On Liberty. Like the world around me, NOL keeps getting better and better. Traffic in 2019 came from all over the place, but the usual suspects didn’t disappoint: the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, and Australia (in that order) supplied the most readers, again.
As far as most popular posts, I’ll list the top 10 below, but such a list doesn’t do justice to NOL and the Notewriters’ contribution to the Great Conversation, nor will the list reflect the fact that some of NOL‘s classic pieces from years ago were also popular again.
Nick’s “One weird old tax could slash wealth inequality (NIMBYs, don’t click!)” was in the top ten for most of this year, and his posts on John Rawls, The Joker film, Dominic Cummings, and the UK’s pornographer & puritan coalition are all worth reading again (and again). The Financial Times, RealClearPolicy, 3 Quarks Daily, and RealClearWorld all featured Nick’s stuff throughout 2019.
Joakim had a banner year at NOL, and four of his posts made the top 10. He got love from the left, right, and everything in between this year. “Elite Anxiety: Paul Collier’s ‘Future of Capitalism’” (#9), “In Defense of Not Having a Clue” (#8), and “You’re Not Worth My Time” (#7) all caused havoc on the internet and in coffee shops around the world. Joakim’s piece on Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice (#2) broke – no shattered – NOL‘s records. Aside from shattering NOL‘s records, Joakim also had excellent stuff on financial history, Richard Davies, and Nassim Taleb. He is also beginning to bud as a cultural commentator, too, as you can probably tell from his sporadic notes on opinions. Joakim wants a more rational, more internationalist, and more skeptical world to live in. He’s doing everything he can to make that happen. And don’t forget this one: “Economists, Economic History, and Theory.”
Tridivesh had an excellent third year at NOL. His most popular piece was “Italy and the Belt and Road Initiative,” and most of his other notes have been featured on RealClearWorld‘s front page. Tridivesh has also been working with me behind the scenes to unveil a new feature at NOL in 2020, and I couldn’t be more humbled about working with him.
Bill had a slower year here at NOL, as he’s been working in the real world, but he still managed to put out some bangers. “Epistemological anarchism to anarchism” kicked off a Feyerabendian buzz at NOL, and he put together well-argued pieces on psychedelics, abortion, and the alt-right. His short 2017 note on left-libertarianism has quietly become a NOL classic.
Mary had a phenomenal year at NOL, which was capped off with some love from RealClearPolicy for her “Contempt for Capitalism” piece. She kicked off the year with a sharp piece on semiotics in national dialogue, before then producing a four-part essay on bourgeois culture. Mary also savaged privileged hypocrisy and took a cultural tour through the early 20th century. Oh, and she did all this while doing doctoral work at Oxford. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with in 2020.
Aris’ debut year at NOL was phenomenal. Reread “Rawls, Antigone and the tragic irony of norms” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I am looking forward to Dr Trantidis’ first full year at NOL in 2020.
Rick continues to be my favorite blogger. His pieces on pollution taxes (here and here) stirred up the libertarian faithful, and he is at his Niskanenian best on bullshit jobs and property rights. His notes on Paul Feyerabend, which I hope he’ll continue throughout 2020, were the centerpiece of NOL‘s spontaneity this year.
Vincent only had two posts at NOL in 2019, but boy were they good: “Interwar US inequality data are deeply flawed” and “Not all GDP measurement errors are greater than zero!” Dr Geloso focused most of his time on publishing academic work.
Alexander instituted the “Sunday Poetry” series at NOL this year and I couldn’t be happier about it. I look forward to reading NOL every day, but especially on Sundays now thanks to his new series. Alex also put out the popular essay “Libertarianism and Neoliberalism – A difference that matters?” (#10), which I suspect will one day grow to be a classic. That wasn’t all. Alex was the author of a number of my personal faves at NOL this year, including pieces about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, constructivism in international relations (part 1 and part 2), and some of the more difficult challenges facing diplomacy today.
Edwin ground out a number of posts in 2019 and, true to character, they challenged orthodoxy and widely-held (by libertarians) opinions. He said “no” to military intervention in Venezuela, though not for the reasons you may think, and that free immigration cannot be classified as a right under classical liberalism. He also poured cold water on Hong Kong’s protests and recommended some good reads on various topics (namely, Robert Nozick and The Troubles). Edwin has several essays on liberalism at NOL that are now bona fide classics.
Federico produced a number of longform essays this year, including “Institutions, Machines, and Complex Orders” and “Three Lessons on Institutions and Incentives” (the latter went on to be featured in the Financial Times and led to at least one formal talk on the subject in Buenos Aires). He also contributed to NOL‘s longstanding position as a bulwark against libertarian dogma with “There is no such thing as a sunk cost fallacy.”
Jacques had a number of hits this year, including “Poverty Under Democratic Socialism” and “Mass shootings in perspective.” His notes on the problems with higher education, aka the university system, also garnered plenty of eyeballs.
Michelangelo, Lode, Zak, and Shree were all working on their PhDs this year, so we didn’t hear from them much, if at all. Hopefully, 2020 will give them a bit more freedom to expand their thoughts. Lucas was not able to contribute anything this year either, but I am confident that 2020 will be the year he reenters the public fray.
Mark spent the year promoting his new book (co-authored by Noel Johnson) Persecution & Toleration. Out of this work arose one of the more popular posts at NOL earlier in the year: “The Institutional Foundations of Antisemitism.” Hopefully Mark will have a little less on his plate in 2020, so he can hang out at NOL more often.
Derrill’s “Romance Econometrics” generated buzz in the left-wing econ blogosphere, and his “Watson my mind today” series began to take flight in 2019. Dr Watson is a true teacher, and I am hoping 2020 is the year he can start dedicating more time to the NOL project, first with his “Watson my mind today” series and second with more insights into thinking like an economist.
Kevin’s “Hyperinflation and trust in ancient Rome” (#6) took the internet by storm, and his 2017 posts on paradoxical geniuses and the deleted slavery clause in the US constitution both received renewed and much deserved interest. But it was his “The Myth of the Nazi War Machine” (#1) that catapulted NOL into its best year yet. I have no idea what Kevin will write about in 2020, but I do know that it’ll be great stuff.
Bruno, one of NOL’s most consistent bloggers and one of its two representatives from Brazil, did not disappoint. His “Liberalism in International Relations” did exceptionally well, as did his post on the differences between conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. Bruno also pitched in on Brazilian politics and Christianity as a global and political phenomenon. His postmodernism posts from years past continue to do well.
Andrei, after several years of gentle prodding, finally got on the board at NOL and his thoughts on Foucault and his libertarian temptation late in life (#5) did much better than predicted. I am hoping to get him more involved in 2020. You can do your part by engaging him in the ‘comments’ threads.
Chhay Lin kept us all abreast of the situation in Hong Kong this year. Ash honed in on housing economics, Barry chimed in on EU elections, and Adrián teased us all in January with his “Selective Moral Argumentation.” Hopefully these four can find a way to fire on all cylinders at NOL in 2020, because they have a lot of cool stuff on their minds (including, but not limited to, bitcoin, language, elections in dictatorships, literature, and YIMBYism).
Ethan crushed it this year, with most of his posts ending up on the front page of RealClearPolicy. More importantly, though, was his commitment to the Tocquevillian idea that lawyers are responsible for education in democratic societies. For that, I am grateful, and I hope he can continue the pace he set during the first half of the year. His most popular piece, by the way, was “Spaghetti Monsters and Free Exercise.” Read it again!
I had a good year here, too. My pieces on federation (#3) and American literature (#4) did waaaaaay better than expected, and my nightcaps continue to pick up readers and push the conversation. I launched the “Be Our Guest” feature here at NOL, too, and it has been a mild success.
Thank you, readers, for a great 2019 and I hope you stick around for what’s in store during 2020. It might be good, it might be bad, and it might be ugly, but isn’t that what spontaneous thoughts on a humble creed are all about? Keep leaving comments, too. The conversation can’t move (forward or backward) without your voice.
Check out NOL‘s newest feature, a place where you can have your thoughts and arguments published in a house of decency and legitimacy. The first guest essay comes from Ben Sharvy, a teacher in Portland, on, among other things, vaccines and the lack thereof:
What’s the damage done? Cancer patients who forego conventional treatment and exclusively choose alternative medicine are 2.5 times more likely to die. Women with breast cancer fare the worst — with a 5.7 times higher death rate among those who choose only alternative therapies. Multiple studies agree, including a 2017 report from the National Cancer Institute: Alternative medicine kills.
Why this feature? Mostly because of the rather high volume of submissions I have been getting lately. Many of these pieces don’t really fit in with NOL‘s overall vibe, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth reading or putting out into the world. So, be our guest.
Lucas had a busy, productive 2018 elsewhere, but he assures me that 2019 will be the year he gets back on track for blogging. I’ve uploaded his 2013 book on the rise of the state in the early modern period (“Do Império ao Estado: Morfologias do sistema internacional”) to the side bar, or you can access the whole thing here (pdf).
I don’t know about you, but I am really looking forward to Dr Freire’s thoughts!
Elsewhere, Garreth Bloor has paid a glowing tribute to Edwin’s lifelong work on international relations over at Law & Liberty. The context is in a review of Yoram Hazony’s recent book on nationalism, and I don’t actually agree with much of what Bloor says, but it’s really cool to see Edwin’s important work getting the attention it deserves.
It’s been quite a year. NOL got lots of love from around the globe, and I’m grateful for every bit of it. I have done a “favorites of 20__” post for the past couple of years but the amount of awesomeness produced at NOL this year was just overwhelming.
I’d brag a bit more about the accomplishments of the Notewriters, but they know how bad ass they are and we’re not passing around a hat for donations or anything like that.
I hope every one of you readers sticks around for 2019, and that you share NOL with friends and enemies alike. I’ve got baby #2 on the way in a couple of weeks (January 11, to be exact), so family and work will continue to take up the bulk of my time. This doesn’t mean you’ll see less of me, but only that I’ll be writing shorter, more intimate posts. The “nightcaps” will continue apace, and “afternoon tea” (on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) with NOL is getting a facelift. You’ll still get your “eye candy” on Sunday mornings, although it will continue to roll in sporadically.
The shorter, more intimate posts will deal with me as a new individual: as a father, as a monogamous lover, and as a member of a world that continues to surprise, amuse, and sometimes disappoint. I have been reading more books lately, thanks in part to a crappy desk job, and not all of them are fiction. The scholarly work I’ve been devouring (when I have the time) is approached with the following question: why isn’t the idea of a transoceanic federation in here?
I have no idea what the other Notewriters will be bringing to the table in 2019, I only know that whatever they bring will be worth your time (and theirs).
Happy New Year!
For the third straight year, Money Metals Exchange, a national precious metals dealer recently ranked “Best in the USA,” has teamed up with the Sound Money Defense League to offer the first gold-backed scholarship of the modern era. These groups have set aside 100 ounces of physical gold to reward outstanding students who display a thorough understanding of the economics, monetary policy, and sound money.
A gold-backed scholarship?! Freakin’ awesome. Here is Joakim’s latest post at NOL, which was highlighted at the Financial Times‘ “Alphaville” blog (the FT is like the Wall Street Journal for countries that were once part of the British Empire).
One of the things I liked most about Joakim’s latest blog was the fact that he incorporated a post by another Notewriter into his thoughts (in this case Rick’s musings on Mariana Mazzucato and counterfactuals). The folks at “Alphaville” have been good to us over the years, too. They’ve linked, since 2017, to thoughts from Shree, Federico, Vincent (twice!), Mark, and Tridivesh as well as Joakim.
Joakim’s well-deserved award stacks up quite nicely with Lucas’ 2018 Novak Award from the Acton Institute and Nick’s winning entry for the Mont Pelerin Society’s 2018 Hayek essay competition. All in all, it’s been a good year for the Notewriters.
Barry’s essays on republican libertarianism (not what you think, American readers!) and British sovereignty and isolationism are up in the new ‘Longform Essays‘ section of the blog. You’ll see that there are more in the works, too, including essays by Zak, Rick, and at least one more from Barry.
Editing these essays makes me the luckiest dude in all of libertarian-dom! I hope there are many more in the years to come.
I still pay attention to the news cycle, but it’s so outrageous these days that it’s hard to write about, let alone analyse or interpret. What a mess. I will say that corporate media is definitely skewed to the left.
Libertarians – and economists – haven’t done a good job of explaining the benefits of free trade. Telling the man on the street that free trade is a fundamental truth has not worked. “Democracy” is another major issue; people throw the word around like a baseball, but its fundamentals are rarely discussed. Given that we’ve gone to war over democracy, on numerous occasions, I think it needs to be discussed far more often.
At any rate, enjoy the essays!
I want to quickly direct your attention to NOL‘s newest feature, the Longform Essays. In them you will find all of the n-part series that the Notewriters have done over the years, but they’ve been put together (by yours truly) into one long essay, for your convenience.
It’s still a work in progress. Jacques’ essays are done. Mary’s four-part essay on The State and education is finished, too. I am slowly, but surely, working on Barry’s and Rick’s essays.
Hey folks, I’ve been busy. I just moved from Austin to Waco, and found out child #2 is on the way. Holy crap!
Here is my Tuesday column at RealClearHistory, on Rod Blagojevich, and here is my weekend column for the same site, on the World Cup. Be sure to check them out! I’ve got two columns per week at RealClearHistory, one comes out Tuesdays and the other on Fridays.
I hope you’ve been enjoying yourselves here at NOL. Awhile back, Michelangelo suggested I shift more of my writing focus here to be on libertarian parenting, but I thought that might be a bit too personal. (There’s a lot of weirdos out there.)
I’ve invited Joakim, Shree, Ethan, and Mary to join us at the consortium, and I do hope you’ve been enjoying their stuff so far (I know I have). You can find out what everyone has been up to lately by starting here (or here, if you’re on Twitter).
Have a good weekend!
Edwin just alerted me to this announcement from the Acton Institute:
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 23, 2018—In recognition of Professor Lucas G. Freire’s outstanding research in the fields of philosophy, religion, and economics in the ancient Near East, the Acton Institute will be awarding him the 2018 Novak Award.
Despite Michael Novak’s passing in February 2017, his memory will continue to be honored every year with the presentation of the Novak Award. This recognizes new outstanding research by scholars early in their academic careers who demonstrate outstanding intellectual merit in advancing understanding of the relationship between religion, the economy, and economic freedom. Recipients of the Novak Award make a formal presentation at an annual public forum known as the Calihan Lecture. The Novak Award comes with a $15,000 prize.
Lucas G. Freire is an assistant professor at Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo, Brazil, and a fellow at the university’s new Center for Economic Freedom. He is also a postdoctoral fellow at North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa. He received his PhD in politics from the University of Exeter. Previously, he also served as a research associate with the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics in Cambridge, UK.
Professor Freire has commented on political and economic issues drawing on Christian thinking in the Reformed tradition. He has published on political theory and philosophy in journals such as Philosophia Reformata and Acta Academica. His current research focuses on the connection between religion, politics and economics in the ancient Near East and the biblical world. He lives in São Paulo with his wife and two children.
Here are his posts at NOL so far. Now that he’s got a bit more money in his pocket, perhaps he will have some time to spare for blogging…
My topic over at RealClearHistory today is the Mexican-American War and slavery, so be sure to show me a little extra love and have a peek. An excerpt:
The British, for their part, played an ingeniously devious role. London convinced Mexico to finally recognize Texas independence in 1845, as long as Texas agreed to avoid annexation by another sovereign polity. This put enormous pressure on factions in Washington, Austin, and Mexico City, so much so that Tyler, by then a lame-duck, urged Congress to put aside its differences and offer statehood to the Republic of Texas (which it did). In Austin, the process was a little trickier. The Congress of the Texan Republic had to vote on whether to be independent or to be annexed, but so did a newly-formed convention of elected delegates, which was one of the requirements imposed on Texas by the United States. (Washington felt that a convention of elected delegates better fit the profile of an incoming state than a Congress that had been independent for 10 years.) Both the Congress and the convention of delegates voted in favor of annexation over independence. The convention of delegates then drew up a state constitution, turned it over to the people of Texas to be ratified, and then sent it to Washington for Congressional acceptance. On Dec. 29, 1845, the U.S. Congress finally ratified statehood for Texas.
Please, read the rest. Annexation is a topic I will continue to explore, albeit from NOL rather than RealClearHistory, so stay tuned. “Entrance” is just as important as “exit” in libertarian theory, even though the latter gets all of the fame and fortune these days.
Speaking of entrances, I’d like to officially, warmly welcome Shree Agnihotri to the consortium and highlight her first thoughts with NOL: “Role of a Citizen in Hegemonic Authoritarianism.” I’m not going to spoil it for you, but it’s about Hannah Arendt, so if you haven’t read it yet, now would be a good time (don’t forget to say ‘hi’ while you’re at it). Here is her bio. Here is more from NOL on Hannah Arendt. I’m stoked to see what she has to say over the years!
My topic over at RealClearHistory today is the Mexican-American War. I lay out a general background on all the players, hoping that a primer will do readers there some good. An excerpt:
Texas. In 1821, the newly-established Mexican government was having severe trouble with the Comanche in the area and invited Americans to settle the region. This pushed the Comanche west and helped weaken them, but it also laid the groundwork for a Texian secession from Mexico. Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1835, but of course nobody in Mexico City recognized this declaration. Texas and Mexico fought for more than a decade before representatives from the Lone Star Republic finally succeeded in lobbying Washington to annex Texas and incorporate it into the American federation. It’s worth noting here that immigration was not the cause of Texian secession from Mexico, as some nativists are apt to claim today. Texas was, like Yucatán, tired of being governed poorly from Mexico City. The anti-immigration argument would be much stronger if Mexico wasn’t facing revolts and secessions everywhere it turned.
Please, read the rest. I’m going to, as I promise in the piece, delve into slavery and the war next Tuesday, but there’s also other topics to think about. Secession comes to mind for me, as I can’t help but ask what could have been if the Senate had not rejected Yucatán’s bid for annexation. Also, is annexation the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to not only “exit” in libertarian circles, but entrance as well?
Speaking of entrances, I’d like to officially, warmly welcome Mary Lucia Darst to the consortium and highlight her first thoughts with NOL: “The Sad Retreat.” I’m not going to spoil it for you, so if you haven’t read it yet, now would be a good time (don’t forget to say ‘hi’ while you’re at it). Here is her bio. I am extremely excited to read what she shares here over the next few years.