Greenwald on Silicon Valley

On Thursday, Parler was the most popular app in the United States. By Monday, three of the four Silicon Valley monopolies united to destroy it.

With virtual unanimity, leading U.S. liberals celebrated this use of Silicon Valley monopoly power to shut down Parler, just as they overwhelmingly cheered the prior two extraordinary assertions of tech power to control U.S. political discourse: censorship of The New York Post’s reporting on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, and the banning of the U.S. President from major platforms. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a single national liberal-left politician even expressing concerns about any of this, let alone opposing it.

Not only did leading left-wing politicians not object but some of them were the ones who pleaded with Silicon Valley to use their power this way. After the internet-policing site Sleeping Giants flagged several Parler posts that called for violence, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked: “What are @Apple and @GooglePlay doing about this?”

The rest is here. Do read it. (H/t Mark from Placerville)

I haven’t jumped into American domestic politics for a long, long time. It’s nice to see that Glenn Greenwald is still the same ol’ Glenn Greenwald. I saw on Twitter awhile back that some Leftists were savaging him because he refused to take their side on something or other.

The tribal trend is one that is here to stay, I think, at least for the duration of my lifetime. In the old days, in the United States, politics was more polarized. Whole families based part of their identity on a political party. What we are seeing is a return to the norm after 80 years of postwar boom (and bust), when being an American trumped being a Democrat/Republican. Coming to terms with a bug in the democratic system (polarization), is going to be difficult for a lot of Americans.

The problem is not just ignorance with polarization, either. Before the postwar boom, America’s federal government did a lot less than it does now. Our polarized society, which again is a normal feature of democracies that don’t win world wars, is fighting for resources that are now wielded largely by one entity rather than by hundreds of local entities. There are plusses and minuses to this. The federal government is more professional about such things, and graft is harder to commit, but this also means that there will be more losers (for those federal goodies).

In the past, violent riots were the product of racist and Nativist animosities that were not dealt with effectively by local authorities. Basically, black Americans and immigrants were not able to get any public goods from local and “state” governments unless they literally fought for a place at the table. Today, and for the foreseeable future, the animosities are going to be federal in scope rather than local, so violence will not be a product of racist or Nativist abuse. Violent riots will probably flare up more often than they once did, too, but they won’t be as deadly as the racist or Nativist riots of old.

I hope I’m wrong, but I rarely am.

Nightcap

  1. I often wonder what I’d do with my billions Stuart Emmrich, Vogue
  2. Paul Romer, the World Bank, and Angus Deaton’s critique of effective altruism Nick Cowen, NOL
  3. Blame the states for the vaccine rollout disaster Tyler Cowen, MR
  4. A silhouette of utopia (pdf) Aaron McKeil, International Politics

Nightcap

  1. Latin America’s democratic-imperial roots Cañizares-Esguerra & Masters, Not Even Past
  2. Ayn Rand, Roman Catholics, and the American federalists David Gordon, Modern Age
  3. Austro-Hungarian-Americans during World War I Nicole Phelps, IEFWW
  4. France and Islam, secularism and religion Andrew Hussey, New Statesman

Nightcap

  1. Value judgements John Peeler, LA Progressive
  2. Value judgements Alex Mackiel, Quillette
  3. Theater in the time of COVID Noah Millman, Modern Age
  4. Federal futures in India and Nepal Shneiderman & Tillman

Nightcap

  1. Europe and American federalism (pdf) Ernest Young, ASLJ
  2. War is cruelty. You cannot refine it.” Francis Sempa, ARB
  3. A clash of two constitutions John McGinnis, Law & Liberty
  4. Internet culture, east to west Brett Fujioka, Noema

Nightcap

  1. Toward an a priori theory of international relations (pdf) Mark Cravelli, JLS
  2. A fourth way out of the dilemma facing libertarianism (pdf) Laurent Dobuzinskis, C+T
  3. Taobao, federalism, and the emergence of law, Chinese-style (pdf) Liu & Weingast, MLR
  4. A road not taken: the foreign policy vision of Robert A. Taft (pdf) Michael Hayes, TIR

Forthcoming: Reviving the libertarian interstate federalist tradition

One of my papers was accepted for publication in the libertarian journal The Independent Review. Here’s an excerpt:

This essay aims to fill that gap by making four arguments:

1. Prominent classical liberals and libertarians have long recognized the importance of interstate federalism for not only individual liberty but security for liberal polities in the international arena as well.

2. The American federalists of the late 18th century faced the same problems we face, and the distinct interstate order that they patched together to solve those problems is not an outmoded Leviathan; it is the missing piece of the puzzle to the libertarian and classical liberal tradition of interstate federalism.

3. The piecemeal federation of political units under the U.S. constitution would achieve more freedom for more people, and this interstate federalism should be enthusiastically embraced as the foreign policy principle for libertarians and classical liberals.

4. The American Proposal would solve the security (and cost-sharing) dilemma for liberal polities, but it would also contribute to a decline in the worrisome trend of presidential government in the United States.

I gotta give props to the editors and the referees of the journal. I know they didn’t like my argument, but they were fair, helpful, and a whole lotta fun. I’ll have more on this soon. In the mean time, here’s a sneak peak (pdf).

Nightcap

  1. Schumpeterian enigmas David Glasner, Uneasy Money
  2. Is John Roberts the new Anthony Kennedy? Damon Root, Reason
  3. Economics of Federalism” (pdf) Inman & Rubenfield
  4. Gray mists & ancient stones Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, New Criterion

Nightcap

  1. Trump and the liberal international order (pdf) Doug Stokes, IA
  2. Goodbye — sort of — to Germany? Victor Davis Hanson, National Review
  3. The failure of global liberal hegemony David Gordon, The Austrian
  4. Liberty displaced Daniel McCarthy, Modern Age

Nightcap

  1. The indispensability of unilateral coercion Billy Christmas, 200-Proof Liberals
  2. The grim logic of urban politics and the genius of federalism John McGinnis, Law & Liberty
  3. The emerging war on thrift Scott Sumner, EconLog
  4. Good piece on Israel’s ongoing “black flag” protests Michael Koplow, Ottomans & Zionists

Nightcap

  1. The importance of understanding causal pathways (Affirmative Action) Michelangelo Landgrave, NOL
  2. Legal silences Ethan Blevins, NOL
  3. Party politics and foreign policy in Brazil’s early history Bruno Gonçalves Rosi, NOL
  4. Immigration and states’ rights Rick Weber, NOL

Vacation links (Monday)

  1. Subnational Elections, Diffusion Effects, and the Growth of the Opposition in Mexico, 1984-2000” (pdf)
  2. Types of Federalisms, Good and Bad
  3. Structural Blockage: A Cross-National Study of Economic Dependency, State Efficacy, and Underdevelopment” (pdf)
  4. The Political Economy of Expulsion: The Regulation of Jewish Moneylending in Medieval England” (pdf)
  5. Why not world government?

An update from Texas

I am still working from home. The weather has been spectacular here over the past few days. I immediately head outside with the kids at 5 o’clock. We just run around and play. The younger one likes throwing the football around in the grass. The older one likes to play with the ants in the cracks of the sidewalk.

I was looking forward to going to Oslo this fall, but I just received news that the event has been postponed. I’ve still got the inaugural family camping trip to Ouachita to plan, so that’s exciting.

The political landscape here is much different than it is on the west coast or in Austin. Authority is decentralized. There are more black and Mexican people here, and fewer other minorities (including Central Americans). I have more black friends now than I ever did in California. It’s odd. In some ways, the non-South is now more racist than the old South. I can’t put my finger on it but I swear it’s true. You can carry on a friendly conversation with anybody here, something that’s missing out west and up north.

My guess is that this has something to do with the fact that segregation was blatantly racist in the South during the Cold War, and Washington felt it had to do something about it in order to win friends (despots) abroad. The racism in the north and the west was less blatant, and as a result nothing has ever been done about it.

I mean, I didn’t grow up with any black people. Or Mexicans. There are tons of them in California, but they don’t live in white residential areas. Down south, at least in the parts of Texas I’ve lived in, this is not the case. There are still “sides” of town, but at least we all share the same town. There’s still racism here, but the racism is more honest than, say, the zoning found up north and out west. This familiarity between blacks, Mexicans, and whites is something you as an individual have to work hard on to achieve in the non-South.

The federal government forcibly dismantled Jim Crow. It did so only after it conveniently ignored the 14th Amendment for decades, but at least it finally did so. There’s a place for Washington down here in Texas. Decentralized tyrannies are still tyrannies. I just started watching Waco, the Netflix series. It’s good. Washington is responsible for the deaths of several innocent women and children. It’ll never pay the price. Those people were just too strange for the broad public to really give a shit.

It’s a never-ending balancing act: finding a comfortable equilibrium between federal, state, and local governance. The feds are better at protecting the descendants of slaves than the state and local governments. But the state and local governments are better at protecting non-conformists and religious extremists than the federal government.

Libertarianism hasn’t been able to shake its racist stigma yet. Sure, leftists call us racists all the time, but a kernal of truth is still a kernal of truth. I have witnessed several people I once respected sweep libertarianism’s ugly, recent past under the rug and then turn to grab their paycheck. Libertarian Inc. has its place in our society, but it won’t be effective so long as the racist label sticks with us. And the racist label won’t come off until we grapple with the brutal truth of what we’ve become comfortable with and what we will tolerate.

Nightcap

  1. What are the best arguments for libertarianism? Brian Micklethwait, Samizdata
  2. Federalism and the coronavirus Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy
  3. Are we entering a new era of nullification? Mark Perry, American Conservative
  4. The American libertarian movement is not immune Frank Bergon, Los Angeles Review of Books

Nightcap

  1. Serfs of academe (but Cracks… is missing) Charles Petersen, NYRB
  2. Leaving NATO, nicely Ivan Eland, American Conservative
  3. Federalism and individual sovereignty James Buchanan, Cato Journal
  4. Lessons of the first automation crisis Steve Lagerfeld, American Interest