I'm no prophet. My job is making windows where there were once walls. ― Michel Foucault
Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk, is credited with triggering a profound spiritual movement in the minds of early modern Europeans. Luther, who was an extremely pious Catholic, eventually became a reluctant rebel by channeling the frustrations of the faithful over their inability to reach out directly to God within the then existing church matrix. The Protestant Reformation, which he helped unleash, developed in opposition to the powerful institutions and guidelines of the Roman Catholic Church that acted as a gatekeeper to the sacred knowledge. The reformation movement decentered and fragmented the once powerful Catholic ideology and bureaucracy, eventually shifting the minds of people toward the individual interpretation of Scripture.
In its condemnation of Luther, the papal court compared his heresy with that of Jan Hus. One hundred years prior to Luther, this religious dissenter from Bohemia had been burned at the stake for essentially advocating the same things that were later ushered in by the Protestants. Puzzled by the comparison, Luther, who had never heard about Hus, went to a library to research what the Bohemian had been up to. Stunned by the obvious similarities between Hus’s and his own ideas, the rebellious German monk allegedly exclaimed, “Yes, I am a Hussite.” This historical anecdote was on my mind while I was following a recent debate about how and why, at the end of his life, Michel Foucault (1926-1984) – a 20th-century philosophical giant of a French-Jewish extraction and, simultaneously, one of the intellectual gurus of the modern left – became interested in “neoliberalism.”
Foucault’s intention to explore the ideas of individual liberty and free enterprise – the process which led him to discovering for himself the writings of modern libertarian and libertarian-leaning thinkers, particularly F. A. Hayek (1899-1992), Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), Wilhelm Röpke (1899-1966), Milton Freedman (1912-2006), and Gary Becker (1930-2014). As the intellectual historian James Miller has informed us, the outcome of those insights was that Foucault implicitly came to defend “the value of a libertarian kind of liberalism.” Continue reading
- Human rights as a troubling neoliberal project Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, Los Angeles Review of Books
- Liberals forgot that working for freedom is hard Richard Reeves, Literary Review
- Multi-party kleptocracies rather than illiberal democracies Branko Milanovic, globalinequality
- The demise of the Gandhi dynasty Krishnadev Calamur, the Atlantic
That, and spring time: that mystical time of year when a young student’s fancy turns to their neglected grades and wonders if there is anything they can do once the semester is over to raise them.
— Culture is an emergent order. It cannot be owned, so you can’t have a “right” to a culture. It can’t be controlled, and while it can be influenced, it’s a complex system so beware lest your efforts backfire.
— Change doesn’t come, until it comes quickly. This serves as another reminder of the importance of keeping true ideals alive even when they are unpopular and they seem doomed to obscurity.
— It is also a warning about other changes, such as the growing anti-natalism of the left, brought in through environmentalism.
— Caplan’s review of Moller’s Governing Least. “Instead of focusing on the rights of the victims of coercion, Moller emphasizes the effrontery of the advocates of coercion.” Even if “exceptions abound” to the “common-sense morality … that rights to person and property are not absolute … Moller sternly emphasizes … that these exceptions come with supplemental moral burdens attached.” Highly recommended.
— Responding to Ambassador Araud’s claim that the culture of neoliberalism and free trade are dead, Sumner says “Intellectuals focus too much on interesting rhetoric and too little on mundane reality.”
— On the importance of a culture that allows people to repent and change, that allows someone to apologize, make amends, and receive public forgiveness.