Questions that are rarely asked (development economics and anarchism)

From Chris Blattman:

Sympathetic readers, I am curious: What would be on your anarchist development reading list?

Blattman mentions the works of James C. Scott, which I would second.  There are some papers by Peter Leeson, including his treatment of Somalia, and related suggestions from Boettke here including links to the Leeson papers and also to Claudia Williamson.

Jane Jacobs.  Spencer McCallum.  Donald Lavoie’s National Economic Planning: What is Left?.  David Friedman on Iceland, and Joseph Peden on medieval Ireland.  Proudhon, and the Eric Frank Russell version of left anarchism, as found in The Great Explosion.  Auberon Herbert and Gustav de Molinari.  Kropotkin on mutual aid.  Proudhon and also ChomskyKarl Hess and Kirkpatrick Sale.  And don’t forget Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country.

Surely I am forgetting a great deal.


sorry but this off-topic but interesting link:

"Too big too fail" mutates into "Too big to indict":

What's the purpose of regulation it is not enforceable?

Pretty obviously, it's so that the politicians who propounded the regulation can please both the constituencies who want regulation and those who don't. The key is to sound tough passing a law with big general standards in it, then leave the actual enforcement to faceless bureaucrats, who can then be blamed for the law's ineffectiveness. It is the essence of government in the last quarter century.

The first principle is making sure that no one is employed to enforce the laws on rich people; employment of police should be inversely proportional to the cost of the crime.

Pick pockets, snatch and grab, B&E: 10 police officers, 2 prosecutors per $1 million loss
Corporate fraud: 2 police officers, 1 prosecutor per $100 billion loss

We had $ 5 trillion in financial crime losses more or less, with 100 SEC investigators and 50 lawyers bringing legal cases.

Property crime losses were about $20 billion with 500,000 police in local community police departments prosecuting 10-20% of property crimes.

Of course, more effort is placed into restricting the free market transactions that do not result in Wall Street profits. Selling goods for $10 that costs lives in India is virtuous because Wall Street likes the Wal-Mart profits. Selling sex or pot for $10 is a crime because there is too much competition to produce Wall Street profit. (Wall Street does support the $1000 hooker...)

I wouldn't disagree with you except...

I think what we refer to as "petty crime" is a lot more damaging to societal function than just the dollar amount spent.

A purse snatcher cost my mother almost a thousand dollars recently, between losing her phone at the beginning of a new contract, the cost of replacing items such as a the purse, wallet, security cards, secure keys, and id cards. None of these things were going to get the thieves more than a hundred bucks, and the cellphone was useless. The thieves also managed to spend about $700 on liquor and cigarettes before she was able to cancel the credit cards. This cost was aborbed by the banks.

But this isn't the only cost, she is now extremely nervous to go out in public, she has changed her routines, and it has made her far more suspicious and paranoid. Luckily she has the financial and social wherewithal to replace most of these items easily. But, for the poor this can rob savings, it can shut down opportunities, dissuade future savings, and lead to economically unproductive and inefficient spending on crime prevention.

I know I m not the first to point this out, but having lived in a ghetto myself at times, I would rather live in a corrupt place filled with gangsters, after all that is not a bad description of most governments, than live in an environment of constant petty crime.

Yeah, this is an important point. Pervasive crime has a lot of indirect costs--people afraid to go out, people getting guns and big dogs they don't otherwise want, people joining gangs for protection, people moving away from marginal neighborhoods, etc.

On the other hand, pervasive financial fraud may also have some kind of big systemic costs.

In the anarchy fiction category - Thomas Pynchon's "Against the Day"

Al anarchist theory is in the fiction category.

All theory is in the fiction category.

In topic. My favorite anarchist fiction tale. "The Anarchist Banker" by Fernando Pessoa.

I just follow the trade activity (in real time) of Forex Kong..... The guy is uncanny - and the latest call getting short the U.S Dollar looks to be very promising.

France was considered the center of scientific achievement a and economically successful in the 19th century How did it get there from a disastrous Revolution?

A return to authoritarianism.

It wasn't just one disastrous revolution either.

Well it was also considered the center of scientific achievement and economically successful in the 18th century. And the 17th.

Somalia After State Collapse: Chaos or Improvement? by Benjamin Powell, Ryan Ford and Alex Nowrasteh
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2008, vol. 67, issue 3-4, pages 657-670.

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux

Both good as a novel and a movie starring Harrison Ford

Why is stagnation better than progress?

40 years ago today marks the official end to the great ambition sparked by JFK's cold war challenge: to put a man on the moon; to establish capitalism as the greatest engine for collective progress, of organizing to accomplish great things as a society.

The moon was left behind because the organizing principle became all investment must be private with all profits going to only the investor and no one else.

Why aren't milestones today greater than 40 years ago?

Why can't individuals progress faster than collective action as an organizing principle of society.

Why do we not mark anniversaries of great accomplishment for individual accomplishment?

This day 40 years ago marks the beginning of TGS.

The moon wasn't cheese, so we came home because the government only wanted cheese.

"The moon was left behind..."

And good riddance to it! What a stupid waste of time and money that whole flapdoodle was. It's main accomplishment for the lives of ordinary people was Tang.

I'd much rather have a world with smartphones where the moon was abandoned than a world where we reached Mars but there are no smartphones.

Capitalism is when private interests control the means of production while socialism is when the government does so. In that regard how does landing a man on the moon who's a government employer, in a government-built rocket, with a huge support team of other government employees back on Earth, all paid for using tax funds prove that capitalism is an engine for collective progress?

If one is going to argue that the moon landing was the kind of accomplishment we should be looking to do in the future then wouldn't the more logical stance be that we should embrace socialism?

But to my thinking humanity has done things so much more impressive than landing on the moon. Like private actors creating means of transportation we use everyday that changed travel from arduous journeys lasting weeks or months to being able to travel anywhere on Earth in less than a day. Or the private actors who turned a military project into a world-wide interconnected communication and information platform. Or to go even more fundamental, the private actors who took control of their environment to the point of controlling their own food supply, creating the basis for everything civilization has accomplished.

Those are the real individual accomplishments. The moon landing in comparison was a vanity project by political leaders.

One of these days, Alice. Bang...zoom!

The moon was left behind because the organizing principle became all investment must have some hope of profit, whether private or public, other than the ego boosting self aggrandizement of philandering presidents.

A. John Simmons has an excellent essay on justice in initial distribution. (How the Europeans could have encountered Native Americans without slaughter, pillage, and colonization.)

Ooh, sexy:

Fantastic (free PDF) pamphlet by David Graeber: “Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology”

Graeber. Gesell?

wow, most of these comments are sadly unhelpful.
off the top of my head I would add:
Wobblies and Zapatistas by Staughton Lynd
The Book of Ammon by Ammon Hennacy
That Holy Anarchist by Mark Van Steenwyk (available here:

oops, didn't think it would post with out the punctuation, sorry

By what possible stretch of the imagination could a Trot like Chomsky or Maoists like the Naxalites be called Anarchists?

Chomsky calls himself an Anarchist but has he ever once supported an anarchist position on anything?

Why no mention of James C. Scott?

So Much For Literacy...

"Blattman mentions the works of James C. Scott, which I would second. "

Start with Marx and Engels. Follow that with the anarchists of the early 20th century. After that, move onto Southern history, KKK type stuff. Move to Black Panthers of the 60s. Follow that with the Marxist revolutions in South America. Up next would be anything about terrorism, and then move onto the Arab Spring.

What's next is anyone's guess

Libertarianism Today is a great libertarian anarchist recent book

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