Libertarian heresies

Here is a good report on my libertarian heresies, summarizing a talk I gave at the Institute for Humane Studies a few weeks ago.  Excerpt:

Russia, he pointed out, is failing as a free society not because it
is poor – Putin’s shrewed management of high commodity prices has put
paid to much Russian poverty – but because Russians tend to privilege
their friends and contacts above all else, leading to epic levels of
corruption. Corruption, of course, is a signal rule of law failure.

He then asked, somewhat rhetorically, if liberty was confined (and
defined) by culture: ‘We should not presume that our values are as
universal as we often think they are’. What happens, he asked
rhetorically, if – in order to enjoy the benefits of liberty and
prosperity – societies have to undergo a major cultural transformation,
including the loss of many appealing values? Cowen focussed on Russian
loyalty and friendship, but there are potentially many others. Think,
for example, of the extended family so privileged throughout the
Islamic world, or the communitarian values common in many indigenous


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