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.
Many of you already know that two of NOL‘s Senior Editors are associated with Econ Journal Watch, thus making its publication a family affair. Fred is on the editorial board and Warren is its math reader. Here are some of the highlights I found worth noting in the latest issue:
Eli Heckscher’s Ideological Migration Toward Market Liberalism: Benny Carlson explores the intellectual evolution of a great Swedish economist.
Classical Liberalism in Econ, by Country: Authors from around the world tell us about their country’s culture of political economy, in particular the vitality of liberalism in the original political sense, historically and currently, with special attention to professional economics as practiced in academia, think tanks, and intellectual networks.
Young Back Choi and Yong Yoon: Liberalism in Korea
Pavel Kuchař: Liberalism in Mexican Economic Thought, Past and Present
(All of the papers from this symposium, which has carried across multiple issues of EJW, are collected at this page.)
You can download the whole issue here (pdf).
Dr Khawaja, an Editor-at-Large for Reason Papers, reports (2/2/16) on the latest issue over at Policy of Truth:
The latest issue of Reason Papers, vol. 37, number 2 is now out; officially, it’s the Fall 2015 issue, but we only just managed to put it up on the website last night. This link will take you to a monster-size PDF to the whole issue (almost 250 pages). This link will take you to the journal’s Archive page, where you can access individual articles for this or any past issue (you have to scroll down a bit). Finally, this link will take you to three (time sensitive) Calls for Papers issued by the journal’s editors: one on “the philosophy of play” (March 1, 2016); one a fifteen-year retrospective on 9/11 (July 1, 2016); and one an Authors-Meet-Critics symposium on Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen’s forthcoming book The Perfectionist Turn: From Meta-Norms to Meta-Ethics (February 1, 2017).
My own small contribution to Reason Papers can be found here (pdf).
- The Criminalization of Curiosity
- Britain needs Christianity – just ask Alan Partridge
- Libertarians have nowhere to turn
- In light of ongoing events in Poland, this October piece by Dr Stocker here at NOL is worth reading again
- The West in the Arab world, between ennui and ecstasy
- France has less and less influence in the EU, and fears to use what it still has (peep B-Stock here at NOL from awhile back, too)
- U of Missouri Student VP: “I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we can all learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.” Mmhm. And what better way to learn from one another than by restricting what can and cannot be said?
- Along the Divide: Israel’s Allies (long book review)
- Standing Up for Migrant Workers in the Arab Gulf (don’t forget Amit’s piece on migrant workers from Bangladesh here at NOL)
- Economic rationality versus full rationality
- Rand Paul strikes back
- The Case for Brexit (contra B-Stock here at NOL)