BC’s weekend reads
- Generals and Political Interventions in American History
- “they neglect to take account of the experiences of postcolonial states that form the vast majority of members of the international system. “
- The U.S. Hasn’t ‘Pulled Back’ from the Middle East At All
- No special sharia rules in American courts for Muslims’ wrongful-death recovery
- Is Gary Johnson a True Libertarian? American libertarianism has a purge problem
- Identity politics and the perils of zero-sum thinking
BC’s weekend reads
- Turkey and the Case of the Magical Vanishing Coup
- Is the overthrow of a democratically elected government ever justified?
- John and Abigail Adams educated their son, John Quincy, to become the worthy successor of the Founding generation of the new regime
- An American economist’s observations from Europe
- The Influence of Culture on Science, and the Culture of Science
- Confessions of an Ex-Prosecutor
PS: Did anyone else notice that the Brexit vote was 51%-49%? I mean, there’s a lot to think about there, especially for libertarians who claim that democracy sucks but Brexit/Nexit/Grexit is totally and completely justified if the people demand it…
From the Comments: Ayn Rand on extremism
I’m glad you highlighted the Ilya Somin/Will Wilkinson debate [here – bc], but I just found the whole thing so damn confused. I’m not a libertarian (or an Objectivist) but I ended up leaning more toward Somin than toward Wilkinson. But the real problem is that the terms “moderation” and “extremism” are left undefined throughout. Extremism in the pursuit of clarity is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of muddle is no virtue.
In that respect, at least, I think Ayn Rand’s analysis of “extremism” makes more sense than anything that either Somin or Wilkinson are saying. As she puts it, “‘extremism’ is a term which, standing by itself, has no meaning. The concept of ‘extreme’ denotes a relation, a measurement, a degree….It is obvious that the first question one has to ask, before using that term, is: a degree–of what?…Measurements, as such, have no value-significance–and acquire it only from the nature of that which is being measured” (Rand, Capitalism, pp. 196-97). The nature of what’s being measured is the one thing that neither Somin nor Wilkinson discuss (though Somin certainly comes closer). Which is why the debate they’ve having is relatively pointless.
Wilkinson treats his youthful encounter with Ayn Rand as nothing more than that. If he took a closer look at what she said, I think he’d find that there’s more there than he remembers.
That’s from the infamous Dr Khawaja, who does his blogging at the always excellent Policy of Truth group blog. You can find a link to Rand’s Capitalism here. I think Dr Khawaja is wrong to suggest that this debate is relatively pointless, though, at least to libertarians who care about electoral politics. I do agree with him that Wilkinson should revisit his familiarity with Rand’s work, though.
BC’s weekend reads
Around the Web
Around the Web: The Failure of Detroit and the Demagogue of Vienna
- Ilya Somin argues that Detroit’s aggressive use of eminent domain needs to be incorporated into any discussion of Detroit’s failure (be sure to read through the ‘comments’ section, too).
- Richard Wolff blames “capitalism” for Detroit’s failure. No seriously.
- Historian Andrei Znamenski has a great piece in the Independent Review on the political life of Karl Lueger, a socialist who became mayor of Vienna in the late 19th century.
Ultimately, I think that Detroit’s failure can be chalked up to bad fiscal policy, cronyism (at the local, regional and federal levels) and freer trade (which lets me drive a high-quality Toyota rather than some clunker from Detroit).
Lueger was an advocate of social justice and consequently of national socialism. Znamenski found that he had a profound influence on the thinking of an impressionable young artist living in Vienna at the time.
Around the Web: Lazy Saturday Edition
I’m not actually being lazy, I am just doing a bunch of homework (wink wink).
Knowledge is Power, so let the WikiWar begin!
Illegally Wiretapped? In the US? Sorry, but the courts won’t help you.
Can Syria’s Christians Survive?
Around the Web: ObamaCare Edition
Over at the Independent Institute’s blog, the Beacon, Melancton Smith worries about SCOTUS’s ruling and how it will be viewed by tax-hungry politicians:
Roberts is correct that Congress often uses the taxing power to influence conduct, but all the examples that he gives (taxes on imported goods, cigarette taxes, etc.), focus on discouraging conduct not compelling conduct. He cites no example of where Congress taxes someone for not doing something. I realize that this is a fine distinction I am making, but in my view Congress does more violence to the dignity of the individual by taxing him for not buying insurance than taxing him for buying a pack of smokes.
Yes, the taxing power is not equal to the full regulatory power of the government brought on by use of the Commerce Clause, but I fear that the Court has given power hungry legislators a road map of how to augment federal power using the tax power.
Yes, it’s true that the ruling on ObamaCare has given legislators a clear path to using the tax power, but this is precisely why the ruling is going to be good for federalism in the long run. Americans are notoriously stubborn when it comes to taxes (and I wouldn’t have it any other way baby!) and this new ruling is essentially forcing legislators to tax people directly rather than in the roundabout way (through the Commerce Clause) that has been done since the fascistic New Deal-era. Continue reading