What I’ve been reading

by on February 17, 2007 at 8:02 am in Books | Permalink

1. Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice, edited by Ed Stringham.  712 pages of debate about libertarian anarchy, just about everything intelligent written on the topic, and then some.  The book has two essays by yours truly on why libertarian anarchy cannot avoid reevolution back to government; you’ll also find them on my home page.

2. Daniel Drezner, All Politics is Global: Explaining International Regulatory Regimes.  An underexplored topic in public choice, Dan shows it still all boils down to national politics.  Here is chapter one.

3. Dan Simmons, The Terror.  One of his best books, a thrilling Arctic adventure, well-paced, 769 pp., but ultimately not conceptual.  My decision to stop reading at p.200 or so marks a watershed in my life.

4. Christoph Peters, The Fabric of Life.  A German vacationer witnesses a murder in Istanbul and delves into seamy society to figure out what happened.  It is so hard to get a translation into English published these days that a rule of reading only translated contemporary literature is one of the better filters.  Recommended.

5. Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows.  Reader’s feast of subtle and penetrating observations, dysfunctional family, etc.

6. Spence on Schelling, via Greg Mankiw.

7. Maybe I’m Amazed.

1 Zubon February 17, 2007 at 8:42 am

“One of his best books” but you dropped it 1/4 of the way through? Not encouraging.

2 Grant Gould February 17, 2007 at 3:33 pm

The Cold War standoff, which was nearly unparalleled in history, is a good reminder that the fundamental “rules” of social evolution and conflict resolution are not constant over time.

I’m not a today-anarchist — I don’t think today’s social technology is adequate to support stable anarchy. I’m a tomorrow-anarchist — I think that stable anarchy will be possible eventually, and will be desirable when that happens.

Incidentally, I’m surprised that more libertarian anarchists are not seriously engaging the question of Somalia, where (per theory) anarchy led to an increase in many quality of life measures and to a variety of dispute resolution fora (tribal and islamic courts), but (contra theory) those courts quickly discovered there was no big disincentive to cartelizing, creating the quasi-governmental Union of Islamic Courts and spurring an entirely predictable escalation cycle with Ethiopia. The questions posed here seem fundamental and are laid out neatly as prioritized examples for further study.

3 TGGP February 17, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Cyrus, are there are anarcho-capitalist that do not fit your description of “hardcore” and therefore claim that anarchy DOES result in “warlordism”? I do not know of any.

The Islamic Courts Union of Somalia and the Taliban both seem to be reactions against the lack of central government rather than a cartelization of warlords. Not being an anarchist, I would state that the quality of life only improves under anarchy when, as in Somalia, the previous government is exceptionally bad.

4 alphie February 18, 2007 at 12:30 am

I made it half way through Simmon’s recent book Ilium.

So, it’s probably better than The Terror.

Which isn’t saying much it seems.

5 Charles Kinbote February 18, 2007 at 9:45 am

If you are looking for a fictional account of the Franklin expedition, I would strongly recommend William Vollman’s The Ice Shirt, part of his series of novels about the unfortuante encounters between the native peoples of North America and the Europeans.

6 Wild Pegasus February 18, 2007 at 11:55 pm

The link in #7 should be entitled “When Hands are Wings”.

– Josh

7 jad games February 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

thank you very much for this article

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