My podcast with Ed Luce

by on June 21, 2017 at 8:11 am in Books, Current Affairs, History, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

It was a forty-minute chat (podcast, no transcript), most of all about the decline of liberalism, based around Ed’s new and very well-received book The Retreat of Western Liberalism.  We also covered what a future liberalism will look like, to what extent current populism is an Anglo-American phenomenon, Modi’s India, whether Kubrick, Hitchcock, and John Lennon are overrated or underrated, and what it is like to be a speechwriter for Larry Summers, among other topics.  Here is the opening bit:

COWEN: Having a taste for the esoteric, I’d like to start with a question. If we go back to the 1680s and James II takes the throne, then, William of Orange comes over from what we now call the Netherlands and pushes him out — was that a liberal development or an illiberal development?

LUCE: At the time, it was very much a liberal development. Of course, we then get the bill of rights. We then get a further restriction of the power of the monarchy that comes with this new Dutch co-monarchy, William and Mary.

In retrospect, given the fact that this is very much the Protestant fundamentalist, the Battle of the Boyne, the victory of the Orange forces, William of Orange. In retrospect, I think it’s being celebrated in a pretty illiberal manner.

Of course, that’s very germane right now in Britain, given that Theresa May is trying to form a government in which the DUP, the Ulster Unionist Party are going to make up the difference between being a minority government and majority government.

It depends which bit of history you’re looking at it from is my answer.

And then I toss him this question:

COWEN: Let’s say we take the British election that was just held. So many people are calling it a mess, chaos, no-good results but, say, I offered you a revisionist view, how would you respond?

I would say it’s the first real election where voting by class has essentially fallen away. You even have Kensington in London going Labour for the first time since 1974.

Voting is now much more by age. You’ve more female representatives than ever before. You’ve 15 Muslims elected, 7 of those being female. More LGBT individuals. Maybe the new liberalism is reflected by that kind of elevation.

Then on top of that, the election definitely thwarted Scottish independence. It probably helped a soft border for Ireland. We hope it’s helping a soft Brexit.

No Corbyn, no UKIP. Wasn’t it exactly the vote we needed and the most liberal outcome you could have imagined, at least relative to all the initial constraints? Or not?

Ed is extremely interesting and articulate throughout.

Again, you can subscribe to the whole series here, we will be doing more bonus offerings of this nature.

1 Michael June 21, 2017 at 8:29 am

Surely there’s an intern somewhere willing to transcribe? I’d love to know what he said, but not 40 slow minutes of listening love. Podcasts are just too slow.

2 Andrew M June 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

Podcasts are ideal if you’re driving. Next time you have a 40-minute drive, queue this up before you leave.

3 Tanturn June 21, 2017 at 10:05 am

Unfortunately, by the time I download it into my phone and listen to it I won’t have the oportunity to write a snarky comment attacking Tyler for his signaling.

4 Federal Reserve June 21, 2017 at 6:49 pm

Next time you have a 40-min drive you should listen to Kevin MacDonald or Pat Buchanan, real scholars. this is not left vs right, legal vs illegal, GOP vs Dems, Socialism vs liberty. This is war on White people.

While hostile elite defend Israel as a Jewish State with Jewish only immigration, they ravage White majority Europe/N.America into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Gulag with non-White colonization.

The world is 91% non-White, only 9% White. But non-White colonizers are aggressively annihilating gullible Whites, just as China annihilates Tibet.

How long will gullible Whites cuckold for murderous anti-White elite, who suppress our fertility, plunder White jobs/wages/guns, infiltrate/subvert our banks/FBI/CIA, indoctrinate White kids in academia/mass media & butcher White soldiers in bankrupting wars?

“Native” Americans invaded from East Asia. Yellow & Brown races committed 10-times more genocide, slavery, imperialism than Whites. Since Moses, Whites have been victims of Jewish/Crypto-Jewish, Muslim, N.African imperialism, slavery, genocide.

Gullible Whites should reject subversive ideologies- individualism, feminism, sexual liberation- & hostile slanders of racism. Peace to all humanity, but White people must organize to advance their interests, their fertility, their homelands. Copy & spread this message. Reading list: , , ,

5 Frogg June 21, 2017 at 9:45 pm

I’m pro-White but I must say that Whites are well over 9% of the world’s population.

6 Kris June 22, 2017 at 1:33 am

You do realize that non-white people read and comment on this blog, right?

7 Brian Donohue June 21, 2017 at 9:52 am

Those guys are lit and woke af. They play at commie like adults!

8 GoneWithTheWind June 21, 2017 at 10:41 am

The liberalism of today is not the liberalism of JFK or most liberals 50 – 60 years ago. This new liberalism is communism in a green dress. And yet people wonder why are so many abandoning liberalism.

9 Thiago Ribeiro June 21, 2017 at 10:50 am

Reagan was saying that in 1964 when politically Kennedy’s body was not cold yet. And he presented this as something that was happening for a long time (I doubt it was Johnson’s less than 1 year at helm that made him think so). And of course criticizing the New Deal or Truman’s State Department as Communist is as old as the New Deal and Truman.

10 Jeff R June 21, 2017 at 11:09 am

Reagan was correct. The American left of say 1968 was a much different animal than 1960. More violence, more revolutionary bluster. The Black Panthers became a thing.

11 Thiago Ribeiro June 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm

But 1964’s America? Again, he was treating it as if Communist had spent a good many years eating up the nation. And again which recvolutionady left was that? Johnson and McGovern? In the big scheme of things, the Panthers are much less important than, say, Le Pen.

12 P Burgos June 21, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Calling liberals communists is like calling conservatives racist.

13 GoneWithTheWind June 21, 2017 at 11:45 pm

If by that you mean it is an untrue insult the facts don’t support that. For reasons known only to those liberals they have this affinity to communist and far left socialist organizations that cannot be explained except that their politics is the common link. Most of the liberals in congress have close relationships with pro-communist groups or worse were active members in pro-communist groups.

14 P Burgos June 22, 2017 at 10:03 am

I think your screen name proves that at least one of the insults is true.

15 GoneWithTheWind June 22, 2017 at 11:05 am

Don’t hurt yourself jumping to conclusions. My nom de plume comes from that great line in the movie where Rhett Butler answers Scarlett’s question about what happened to her family and plantation and the good life. It’s gone Scarlett, gone with the wind”. Kind of a metaphor for what happens in an economic collapse or a major war. It has nothing at all to do with racism, bigotry, discrimination, etc. So sorry to disappoint you. I could change it to “Black lives matter” but since they ARE a racist group that just doesn’t seem right, wouldn’t you agree?

16 nborlaug June 21, 2017 at 8:51 am

Have you tried listening at 1.5x speed? Also what’s your alternative use of time spent commuting/doing the dishes?

17 Thiago Ribeiro June 21, 2017 at 9:15 am

“and what it is like to be a speechwriter for Larry Summers”
For the sake of those who exchange their memory for a mess of pottage, Larry Sumers was the Clinton Administrarion’s officer who forced Argentina to folow the policies that caused the default in first place.

18 chuck martel June 21, 2017 at 10:12 am

Why would a genius like Larry Summers need a speech writer?

19 Thiago Ribeiro June 21, 2017 at 10:57 am

Because his comparative advantage lies in ruining people, not writing.

20 Heh June 21, 2017 at 10:04 pm


21 Bob June 21, 2017 at 10:52 am

Crazy idea: It’s not that people have stopped voting by class, but that people working for longer, and young people having less opportunities, makes young people into a class anyway.

I make 8x what my brother does. He is better educated, but also 10 years younger. His max earning potential is not different than mine, but it’s going to take him a long time to get there, and not everyone in his profession does. 8x the income is a different class by almost any definition.

22 chuck martel June 21, 2017 at 11:32 am

Until the 20th century people worked as long as they were physically able. There was no such thing as cops and firemen retiring at age 55, although those current youthful retirees take other, similar jobs in the public sector or as private contractors. Same goes for military retirees. Most of them take other jobs after separation from service. People aren’t actually working any longer than they ever have.

23 The Engineer June 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm

I don’t know about that. In my field, energy, they certainly are. Folks are just healthier than they used to be, and it’s a field that has long hours and is all consuming, so people don’t have hobbies or even really know their wives. They retire, and they’re bored and drive their wives crazy. 6 months later, they’re back as a “contractor”, because it’s cheaper to work than get divorced.

24 charlie June 21, 2017 at 11:14 am

I wonder if we, in 200 years will have the system Sailer predicted.

Abolish the senate.

Make the leader of the House the PM.

Elect a semi hereditary president with no power but a lot of star power “Clark North Camacho Obama the 8th” to keep the masses happy.

Certainly in that case Trump will be as important as James II.

25 josh June 21, 2017 at 11:35 am

Would that be the House of Representin’?

26 Rich Berger June 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

It’s got electrolytes!

27 A Definite Beta Guy June 21, 2017 at 11:55 am

There’s an obvious conflation of “liberalism” and “internationalism” here, along with “diversity”. The Warsaw Pact was an international organization. It was not a liberal organization. The most ethnically diverse combatants in the Cold War were the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia…wiki says the USSR had a 15% Muslim population, higher than any Western European nation. Russia still has a greater % of Muslims than any Western European nation.

Liberals really need to disentangle these concepts from each other. “BREXIT” is not anti-liberal, Scottish independence is not anti-liberal, Catalan independence is not anti-liberal. Hungary choosing to keep out illegal immigrants is not anti-liberal, Sweden not being a member of NATO is not anti-liberal, and the Martians who refuse to visit us because we are stupid morons are not anti-liberal. What’s anti-liberal are international technocrats trying to deprive citizens of these rightful choices and seeking to destroy national borders because they think they aren’t important.

Case in point: you aren’t pushing him nearly hard enough on the 2nd BREXIT referendum, and the 2nd Irish vote. You asked “isn’t that just ‘we’re just going to keep on voting until you give us the answer we demand” and his implied answer is basically “yes.”

That’s not a liberal attitude.

Side-question: where is this perspective that India is more stable than China coming from? This is the first I’m hearing of it. Indira Gandhi put the whole nation under martial law. Between India and China, which nation do you think is more likely to enter and/or start a nuclear war in the next 10 years? It’s utterly bizarre to me that on one hand we’re going to say “India is such a stable nation” and “India’s current PM is a fascist who is going to start a March on Rome if he loses an election.”

Also, re: ethnic diversity and political stability. Utterly bizarre. Seems more like 21st Century “Diversity Great Always and Forever” thinking rather than any serious thought. Given that “ethnic diversity” in the Indian subcontinent led to national split, multiple conventional wars, and is the most likely spot for “Let’s Make WWII body counts look like a rounding error” conflicts, utterly, utterly bizarre.

28 European American June 21, 2017 at 12:20 pm

The idea that resisting the islamification of the West is “illiberal” is crazy. It’s precisely the politically correct dogmatic left that will cause the collapse of the western liberal order to religious tyranny.

29 FUBAR007 June 21, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Luce is using “liberalism” as it is used in international relations literature i.e. as a shorthand term for “post-WWII Western democratic institutionalism.” In that context, the term has a broader meaning than it does in U.S. domestic politics.

30 Jeff R June 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Re: 2nd Brexit referendum, his argument was that some newspapers had said mean things which had intimidated people into not speaking out against Brexit and I guess created some sort of false consciousness on the part of the voters? If this is the quality of argument one is going to find in his new book….

31 Jason Bayz June 21, 2017 at 11:21 pm

Yep, “the argument was a poor one” i.e. “we lost.”

32 Boonton June 21, 2017 at 9:50 pm

Exactly how has BREXIT made the UK less (or more) Muslim?

33 Frogg June 21, 2017 at 10:03 pm

“Russia still has a greater % of Muslims than any Western European nation. ”

Doubtful, the 2012 Russian census found 6.5%, Islam in France is about 10%.

34 Alistair June 22, 2017 at 5:39 am

+1 for clarity of language.

Something that escapes our host when his signalling and emotions become engaged.

35 Todd K June 21, 2017 at 12:17 pm

“Liberals really need to disentangle these concepts from each other. “BREXIT” is not anti-liberal, Scottish independence is not anti-liberal, Catalan independence is not anti-liberal. Hungary choosing to keep out illegal immigrants is not anti-liberal, Sweden not being a member of NATO is not anti-liberal, and the Martians who refuse to visit us because we are stupid morons are not anti-liberal.”

Excellent, especially in explaining why the quite liberal Martians keep staying away.

36 Chip June 21, 2017 at 12:23 pm

“Voting is now much more by age. You’ve more female representatives than ever before. You’ve 15 Muslims elected, 7 of those being female. More LGBT individuals. Maybe the new liberalism is reflected by that kind of elevation.”

In other words, modern liberalism is about identity, not ideas. it’s shocking how quickly and thoroughly we have abandoned King’s cry to be judged on the content of character rather than color of skin.

It’s particular jarring that this devolution into tribalism and impulsive emoting – especially among the so-called elites – is occurring during a time of great technological process.

37 peri June 21, 2017 at 1:04 pm

When a future Simon Schama writes a “Citizens”-like book about this time, he’ll have an obvious title in “Victims.”

38 Heh June 21, 2017 at 10:12 pm


39 Alistair June 22, 2017 at 5:37 am

The Elites found tribalism and emotivism useful for mobilising support. Now it comes, inevitably, to bite them.

40 Millian June 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm

The Ulster Unionist Party? They don’t even have MPs. Is it the Democratic Unionist Party to which Mr Luce alludes? What does it say about British politics commentators that they pay so little attention to those who are about to govern? Is Northern Ireland an 80s retro fad to them?

41 Jeff R June 21, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Yes, but 1880’s. Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right!

42 FUBAR007 June 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Chip: it’s shocking how quickly and thoroughly we have abandoned King’s cry to be judged on the content of character rather than color of skin.

When did we ever really embrace it? At most, we paid lip service to it and then set about self-segregating anyway.

It’s particular jarring that this devolution into tribalism and impulsive emoting – especially among the so-called elites – is occurring during a time of great technological process.

You think the elites genuinely give a shit? For them, it’s kayfabe. A means to an end–PR, legal risk mitigation, mechanism for power and money, etc.

43 chuck martel June 21, 2017 at 2:12 pm

The “devolution into tribalism” isn’t a devolution at all, it’s normal, as families are normal. What’s abnormal are immense, complex, artificial, dehumanizing nation/states led by unapproachable elites, the exact opposite of tribes made up of affiliated people with natural. unelected leaders who have no coercive ability and lead by example and consensus.

44 Pithlord June 21, 2017 at 6:38 pm

True enough, but nature, Mr. martel, is what we are put on this world to rise above. The Protestant missionary spirit has changed the world, before, and it isn’t going to stop now.

45 chuck martel June 21, 2017 at 11:56 pm

If he were alive today, John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, would no doubt agree.

46 Pithlord June 21, 2017 at 6:40 pm

I thought Tyler’s opening was excellent. Reaction is always and everywhere the celebration of past Whig triumphs.

47 shrikanthk June 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Strange remarks from Ed Luce on India.

– “India is stable because it is diverse.”

I say India is chaotic on account of its diversity. And stable on account of it being Hindu – a religion that emphasizes non violence and abhors “revolution”.

“Modi downplays Muslim achievements and contributions to Hindu civilization”

Should we say conventional histories overplayed muslim contributions? And the emphasis on creating a new narrative is a necessary corrective?

“Modi is a fascist”

Is that because he is a winner? There is no record of him subverting law or elections to win power in Gujarat? Does he have to lose to prove he isn’t a fascist?

Tyler – thoughts?

48 anon June 21, 2017 at 7:47 pm

Hindus are pretty good at lynching Muslims. Non-violence is just a cop out when facing superior forces like the English and Chinese.

49 shrikanthk June 21, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Aren’t muslims awful at lynching Hindus?

50 shrikanthk June 21, 2017 at 7:55 pm

*Are muslims awful

51 Boonton June 21, 2017 at 9:58 pm

I recall once reading a book about Buddhism. During the reign of one of the earlier Dali Lamas, some monks let some Western travelers into ancient Tibet. Because they violated the then policy of being closed to outsiders they were blinded and their hands and feet were cut off. They were then left in the forest to starve to death. Then two infants were deemed to be their reincarnated selves and those babies were themselves left to die. Perhaps someone might ask the current Dali Lama about it since it is supposedly the same person.

Long story short any religion that has a large population of followers and has a long history is pragmatic above all else.

52 dearieme June 22, 2017 at 4:50 am

“Non-violence is just a cop out when facing superior forces like the English …: aha, that’s why Gandhi failed.

53 shrikanthk June 21, 2017 at 7:46 pm

By the way, it is interesting to see Luce lionise Nehruvian secularism. Because the only time India lost its “democracy” was during the mid-70s when a political “Emergency” was imposed by Nehru’s daughter Indira who swore by Nehruvian secularism!

54 Frogg June 21, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Remember when classical liberalism was about progress and freedom? Now, Tyler says(around 9:45) treats the percentage of the foreign born in the U.K. as a good measure of (classical) liberalism.

And Luce, too, practically celebrates the fact that people voted Labour even though they wouldn’t want crazy Corbyn as Prime Minister, just to get a hung parliament, putting that lunatic within a couple points of winning outright is apparently a worthwhile price to pay. And Corbyn is within a couple points of Downing Street, and come next round I won’t be surprised if his army of foreign born voters who Tyler celebrates put him there, helped no doubt by delusional “classical liberals” like Luce.

If you want to know why so many classical liberals, libertarians, and former Ron Paul supporters defected to support Trump, see the uselessness of the “classical liberals” like Cowen and Luce.

55 Alistair June 22, 2017 at 5:32 am

Agreed. They are acting as socialism’s Useful Idiots; they celebrate the forms of cosmopolitanism and confuse it with liberalism.

So many restaurants! What colourful characters (not in my street, obviously) ! Art that fearlessly mock every religion but one! The widest choice of organic tofu! My gay best friend! A muslim mayor! A transvestite food blogger! Truly this is a utopia of liberalism!

All we had to give up was our privacy, personal security, freedom of speech, association, and the right to keep your own d**m money. Yeah. Nice one, “liberalism”.

56 Jason Bayz June 21, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Not a great podcast. It starts with Brexit, with Luce bemoaning the future of Britain’s economy, noting that he can’t imagine how it will grow with Brexit, why it isn’t in crisis now, neither Cowen nor Luce addressed. Then Luce claimed that:

“It’s a remarkable fact that there are more prime aged males in work in France than there are in the United States.”

This is wrong. It’s not even close, whether you are talking about the employment-to-population ratio or the labor force participation rate.

57 Jason Bayz June 21, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Interesting that Tyler says, while supposedly decrying the rise of populism, that Israel and Singapore are “small, open places,” where “the future comes there first” the Straussian interpretation is that they reflect what will be the dominant values of the 21st century.

58 Alistair June 22, 2017 at 5:34 am

Small, maybe, but “open”? Try getting in without authorisation or emigrating to them.

59 Ricardo June 22, 2017 at 12:31 am

Prime age males would be those in an age range like 30-50 — too old to still be in school and too young to retire or have one’s body start to give out. OECD provides data for the age range 25 to 64 — which I would argue is too broad to be called “prime age” — but France’s labor force participation rate for men in this group in 2016 was 83.8% while America’s was 84.1%. So it is pretty close and if someone can find recent data on a narrower age range, I wouldn’t be surprised if Luce was correct.

60 Ruchik Doshi June 23, 2017 at 4:33 am

Ed Luce is terrible when it comes to India, he was a foreign correspondent, did not really see points of view out of the left liberal Lutyens Delhi cabal. He wrote a terrible book on India,almost lionising the congress dynasty,
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