What I’ve been reading and browsing

The Bill of Rights did not become an essential feature of Supreme Court opinions until the justices needed a new justification for their authority to strike down legislation as unconstitutional.  In 1940, the Court began citing the Bill of Rights routinely and started building up the doctrine that the 1791 amendments were a linchpin of judicial review.

That is from Gerard N. Magliocca, The Heart of the Constitution: How the Bill of Rights Became the Bill of Rights.

Jesse Norman, Adam Smith: Father of Economics. Written by an MP, impressive, though I remain closer to a traditional classical liberal view of Smith.

Geoffrey B. Robinson, The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66.  Hardcore excellent across both the factual and conceptual dimensions.  It is striking that as of 1965 Indonesia had the world’s largest non-governing communist party, until this episode that is.  At least half a million people were killed and “…the vast majority were felled with knives, sickles, machetes, swords, ice picks, bamboo spears, iron rods, and other everyday implements.”  Not so much high tech, not even by 1940 standards.  Yet most were highly organized rather than spontaneous.  Definitely recommended.

Elhanan Helpman, Globalization and Inequality.  A very well done survey of what we know about this issue, from a leader in the field.

Lincoln Ballard and Matthew Bengtson, with John Bell Young, The Alexander Scriabin Companion, the definitive treatment of its topic.  Bengston is also my favorite Scriabin pianist.

On herding and social influence, there is Michelle Baddeley, Copycats & Contrarians: Why We Follow Others…and When We Don’t.

Eric Rauchway, Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal considers Roosevelt’s early plans for the New Deal, before his election, and also how Hoover started laying the groundwork for opposition.

Ashoka Mody, Eurotragedy: A Drama in Nine Acts, has produced the best book yet on that “not quite yet in our rear view mirror” episode.

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" At least half a million people were killed"

Turns out anti-communist purges can be quite Stalinesque. If Indonesia's economy was any good, people might be able to look away a la Chile/South Korea. Btw, most of those purged were ethnically Chinese.

not most, almost all, right?

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Yes, there was an definitely an ethnic element to it, that gets glossed over. Though of course, the local Chinese made up a disproportionate element of the communist party...

I suspect the history books prefer the "anti-communist" line rather than the "ethnic/nationalist pogrom" line, though both have explanatory power.

But hey, isn't it nice to see the Communists on the receiving end of genocide for a change?

Although at the other end of Asia, where there are similar ethnic groups with a liking for small business, education and Communism, people prefer to stress the ethnic pogrom line not the anti-Communist one.

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Yes. It's refreshing to see communists on the receiving end of terror.

If you have the mindset (like that of my Ukrainian grandfather) that communists are nazis with brighter colored clothing, it's quite understandable.

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If Indonesia's economy was any good, people might be able to look away a la Chile/South Korea

Well one thing is for sure, Indonesia is doing better than Cambodia or North Korea - or even Vietnam and China before they gave up being Communists.

So it has worked out a lot better than if those Communists had succeeded in their coup.

"So it has worked out a lot better than if those Communists had succeeded in their coup."

What coup? you're just making things up here, and to justify mass murder. While I suppose that's not surprising, it is telling.

That would be the coup attempt that tried to over throw the government of Indonesia. Seriously? You want to argue with me on this? Good for you. Courageous.

The Thirtieth of September Movement (Indonesian: Gerakan 30 September, abbreviated as G30S, also known by the acronym Gestapu for Gerakan September Tiga Puluh or sometimes called Gestok, for Gerakan Satu Oktober, First of October Movement) was a self-proclaimed organization of Indonesian National Armed Forces members who, in the early hours of 1 October 1965, assassinated six Indonesian Army generals in an abortive coup d'état.[1] Later that morning, the organisation declared that it was in control of media and communication outlets and had taken President Sukarno under its protection. By the end of the day, the coup attempt had failed in Jakarta at least. Meanwhile, in central Java there was an attempt to take control over an army division and several cities. By the time this rebellion was put down, two more senior officers were dead.

In the days and weeks that followed, the army, socio-political, and religious groups blamed the coup attempt on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

Now maybe the military was lying when it said the Communists who said they were Communists and tried to overthrow the government were not actually Communists. But I can see why the Armed Forces might think so.

This is pretty basic stuff you know. You don't have to know a lot about Indonesia to know about the coup. Even I know. As I said, courageous.

Obviously there was a coup attempt, but you essentially cut off the Wikipedia excerpt you provide with the end of the official story of what happened.

Here are the first two sentences of the next paragraph:

"Investigations and questioning of Suharto's version of the events were long obstructed in Indonesia. The CIA initially believed that Sukarno orchestrated all of it."

Finally, I don't know if you intend to imply that upwards of a million deaths were an acceptable price for better conditions than North Korea or Cambodia, I would object to that both as a simplistic characterization and on basic terms of humanity.

The next two sentences are irrelevant. Nor do they prove a damn thing.

Yes, it is obvious that this id disputed. The PKI, the Communists that is, dispute it and hence so do a lot of leftist American academics. So we need to judge the evidence. Let me introduce you to one of the Generals involved in the coup - Supardjo. He wrote what is known as the Supardjo Document. Or more formally as Some Factors That Influenced the Defeat of ‘the September 30th Movement’ as Viewed from a Military Perspective

Supardjo wrote this document while on the run as he had already been stripped of his rank and dismissed from the military. This key fact is what gives the document its importance, and historian John Roosa notes that the document may be the most important primary source on the movement.[1] The Supardjo Document is the only primary source which was written by a participant of the September 30th Movement before his arrest. The fact that the document was written before he was arrested means that there was no chance for the military to influence his testimony unlike those from other generals, which led to many unreliable narratives as most of their stories were either coerced through torture or fabricated by the media.

What does the good General say in this document?

Supardjo cites a number of reasons for the failure of the movement. Primarily, he notes that the movement had neither an overall leader nor a clear chain of command. There was a loose structure in the cooperation between the PKI and the military, and the two groups were constantly arguing over courses of strategic action, which led to moments of indecisiveness during critical points in the movement.

However, Supardjo later reveals in the document that the PKI was the true body behind the movement, and for that reason, he believes Kamaruzaman Sjam played the leading role.

So as I said, it is entirely possible that the Communist Generals who claimed to be Communists and carried out the coup were not in fact Communists. But I can see why the other Generals kind of thought they were.

I am not implying anything. You are inferring. But if you want my opinion, if you have two options and Option A leads to X deaths and Option B leads to Y deaths then if X is smaller than Y, you choose A.

The Communists in Cambodia killed a third of the population. In modern Indonesia that would be something like 80 million people. In the last famine in North Korea alone, a tenth of the population may have died. Or some 24 million Indonesians. So yes, killing the PKI members was an entirely rational and moral choice. The only moral choice in fact. There is no other.

If you see someone get up to come and kill you, you have a moral obligation, always and everywhere, to protect yourself and your loved ones. It is a moral failure not to do so.

I did note that I wasn't sure if it was an appropriate implication to infer or not, so thank you for clarifying.

I'd think the powers that be would've viewed the Supardjo document as a goldmine. Quite strange that they resisted all attempts to get to the bottom of things. [And yes, a lot of leftist academics do dispute the official narrative. Not only, and in many cases not at all (you're "hence") because of some loyalty to communism.]

Finally, your utilitarian breakdown is clear, but I see no evidence that it accurately reflects reality. It's by no means certain that extrapolating a % from the Cambodian example (which is at the far end of the awfulness spectrum) is appropriate. It is certain that using TODAY'S population numbers to argue about an event that took place when the population was well shy of half of what it is today is not appropriate.

In fact, I'd defer to Benedict Anderson for a fuller picture here. He was one of those leftist professors you hold in low esteem, but he actually knew something about Indonesia, even serving as a foreign witness at one of the subsequent show trials. He realized, after the fact, that nationalism was an important consideration in evaluating these atrocities. I agree.

Given that, despite his credentials, I doubt you'd defer to Anderson, I'll bring in a different academic source:

"What is remarkable elsewhere in Asia [beside Vietnam and Laos], is the distinct nature of the process of conquest and consolidation of power in each country...There is now and never really was a Communist bloc in Asia, except in the minds of the leaders in Beijing (Courtois, et al., 636).

It's worth noting that the same source--The Black Book of Communism--makes no mention of Indonesia, not even in passing. I don't think anybody whose read the book would blames the authors of having cold feet.

If you want to cite developments and new information subsequent to its publication, feel free, but I think that clearly weighs in Anderson's favor, and certainly dilutes the power of Supardjo's account.

There was a failure in block tags in my previous post. Some of that was not mine.

I'd think the powers that be would've viewed the Supardjo document as a goldmine.

I am confused why anyone would think that was a rational argument. The document is pretty much the only primary evidence of the coup's motivations apart from the trials of those involved. Which are a little tainted. I would think anyone interested in Indonesia would view it as a gold mine.

Not only, and in many cases not at all (you're "hence") because of some loyalty to communism.]

Well in Anderson's case his Marxism is not a secret so that "hence" is entirely appropriate. Even if he had any evidence for what amounted to a childish Oliver-Stone-style conspiracy theory.

Finally, your utilitarian breakdown is clear, but I see no evidence that it accurately reflects reality. It's by no means certain that extrapolating a % from the Cambodian example (which is at the far end of the awfulness spectrum) is appropriate.

Sure. Just because the Germans gassed the Jews of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Belorus and Ukraine doesn't mean the Jews of Hungary should have been worried at all. I mean it is just coincidence, right? Communism is an ideology. That ideology has beliefs and policies. Those always lead to mass murder and famine. Maybe Indonesia would have been the pig that flew. But I wouldn't have bet on it.

It is certain that using TODAY'S population numbers to argue about an event that took place when the population was well shy of half of what it is today is not appropriate.

Yes, killing a mere 40 million makes such a difference.

In fact, I'd defer to Benedict Anderson for a fuller picture here.

This would be the White, Western, non-Indonesian Marxist Anderson? Whom you will be privileging over the actual Indonesians who actually took part in the coup? How very Orientalist of you. How can the Subaltern (General) speak if the Imperial Power refuses to listen?

He was one of those leftist professors you hold in low esteem, but he actually knew something about Indonesia

Did he? More than, you know, the people who planned and carried out the coup? That is a brave claim. Especially as Anderson came to his conclusion about the coup while at Cornell. He was not in Indonesia at the time. He produced the Cornell paper by reading Indonesian newspapers. In fact I am not even sure he had set foot in Indonesia by that point. He did go to at least one trial of a PKI leader - after his famous paper had been published. So what is your evidence Anderson knew a damn thing about the coup?

He realized, after the fact, that nationalism was an important consideration in evaluating these atrocities. I agree.

Great. But irrelevant. Who says otherwise? Anderson's claim is that yes, the Communists took part in the coup, but they were somehow accidentally swept up in the whole thing, without really being involved and hence were victims too. This is asinine.

Given that, despite his credentials, I doubt you'd defer to Anderson

He graduated in 1967. He wrote the Cornell paper the year before. His credentials were nil at the time.

It's worth noting that the same source--The Black Book of Communism--makes no mention of Indonesia, not even in passing.

Why would it? The Communists lost. They did not get to carry out their program.

I think that clearly weighs in Anderson's favor, and certainly dilutes the power of Supardjo's account.

Because the fact that a book about the victims of Communism does not mention dead Communists means we should take the word of the White Western Marxist activist over the General who actually took part in the coup? Interesting set of standards you have there.

The bottom line is that all the Indonesian evidence is that there was a coup and it was part of a Communist plot. The fact that some Western Marxists dispute that is irrelevant. Because, well, they would, wouldn't they?

You're clearly going to stick with your domino theory understanding of Communism, despite even the authors of the Black Book of Communism, no Marxists they, saying that wasn't the case. I realize the communists lost, but, as I'm sure you know, that book is rather expansive, so I find the absence of even a single mention of Indonesia telling. Even if you don't, I still see their statement about Communism in Asia to be worthwhile. That book, as much as anything, woke up many people (who should have known earlier, yes) to the massive costs in human life outside of the USSR alone. Their statement about Asia is essentially a statement against interest which I find intellectually praiseworthy. You seem to disagree with them. Fair enough. However, I'll hold you to your numerous arguments against the authority of others and similarly declare that they are more qualified to discuss the finer points of Communism in Asia than you are.

Finally, and this refers back to a previous post, but you give the game away by citing Roosa's book. One, because it shows that you're reasoning backwards: leftist professors are inherently suspect, but implicitly non-lefitst professors continue to be worth citing. Two, because you now grant that an after-the-fact scholarly examination is worthwhile while dismissing Robinson's book out of hand.

Robinson blurbed Roosa's book and Roosa is thanked in the acknowledgements of Roosa's. Yet you indicate that there couldn't possibly be anything new under the sun to cause you to rethink your view.

I don't have Robinson's book (I did a search for "Roosa" at Amazon), and I don't have Roosa's nearby, but I also think it's possible that you are attributing to Roosa a more dispositive conclusion than he actually provides. Robinson notes: "none of these questions undermines Roosa's crucial assertion that the rank and file of the PKI knew nothing about the movement's plan..." (80). It's a long way from that to automatically assuming tens of millions dead.

You're clearly going to stick with your domino theory understanding of Communism, despite even the authors of the Black Book of Communism, no Marxists they, saying that wasn't the case.

I do love that little bit of status signalling. The Domino Theory is Bad Thought, so even thought I have not mentioned it, you can signal your Good Thought and my lack of standing, being a Bad Thinker, in one little smear. It is so cute. Well done.

The Black Book of Communism does not say that. It is talking about the victims of Communism and so, as you say, doesn't really talk about Indonesia at all. Not saying something is not the same as saying something else.

so I find the absence of even a single mention of Indonesia telling.

And you promptly contradict yourself in a single paragraph. If they don't talk about it, they do not make a case that the Communists didn't do it.

That book, as much as anything, woke up many people (who should have known earlier, yes) to the massive costs in human life outside of the USSR alone.

Rubbish. Everyone knew. That is why they became Communists in the first place. By 1965 Anderson knew. There was ample documentation. He could have been a liberal democrat but he *chose* to be a Marxist at a time when Marxists were committing or about to commit genocide. Not despite but because.

However, I'll hold you to your numerous arguments against the authority of others and similarly declare that they are more qualified to discuss the finer points of Communism in Asia than you are.

I fail to see you have cite anyone I have disagreed with at all except Anderson. You can claim the Black Book says something useful to your case but as you admit it says nothing about Indonesia that would be .... hard. All I have said is that we have the views of the Generals involved and they think they were plotting with the Communists to over-throw a government. Why dispute them?

Finally, and this refers back to a previous post, but you give the game away by citing Roosa's book.

Well I do like giving the game away but how do you think any of this helps your argument? Or are you like a chicken that continues to twitch after its head has been cut off? You need to prove something, even though you have lost, and so you blather?

One, because it shows that you're reasoning backwards: leftist professors are inherently suspect, but implicitly non-lefitst professors continue to be worth citing.

I don't see the relevance, but yeah. Marxists are inherent liars. Non-Marxists less so.

Yet you indicate that there couldn't possibly be anything new under the sun to cause you to rethink your view.

And that is just projection. Because I have been very moderate in what I have said and I have always been open to correction. I have never even hinted otherwise. The problem is that 100% of the evidence is that the PKI did it. All you have is a bullsh!t under-grad paper written by someone who happened to become famous later for coining a phrase that said what everyone else said but more concisely. Great.

Robinson notes: "none of these questions undermines Roosa's crucial assertion that the rank and file of the PKI knew nothing about the movement's plan..." (80).

And this is important why? What matters with Communists is not what people know but what they will do - will they obey. Communist parties are very good at that. So Stalin did not have to *explain* the Hitler Pact. It was enough to know that the world's Communist parties would follow him without question.

It's a long way from that to automatically assuming tens of millions dead.

Sure. But the fact of Marxism means the consequence is likely to be genocide. As the Black Book makes clear. Which means it is a good thing Anderson was never in power.

I let your previous reference to when Anderson "graduated" pass because I thought you were being snarky, but no, you were just wrong. He got his PhD in 1967, not his undergrad degree. He was 29 when he participated in the writing of the paper.

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Regarding The Killing Season: in 1967, Polish mercenary Rafal Ganowicz was asked what it felt like to take a human life. He replied: "I wouldn't know, I've only ever killed communists."

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Regarding Eurotragedy : Broadly agreed the single currency is a huge unforced error. However, the EU has currently 3-and-a-half existential threats on its plate, so why not mention them? It's like listing only the Soviet Union as Nazi Germany's adversary.

1) Single Currency. Huge unforced error.
2) (Mis)handling the migrant crisis. Huge error under pressure.
3) (Mis)handling the general Islamist threat. Cucked.
4) The Great Recession and its fall-out. Just makes everything else worse....and to be fair to the EU, this was mostly not it's fault.

Hmmm

The US is obviously a massive error.

Single currency.

99% of all families in the US from largely uncontrolled migration

Christianity was used to justify mass murder and defining many persons as inferior to the point of being property.

And the Great Recession was the fault of US conservatives who see rent seeking and monopoly power as virtue, promising finance deregulation would result in greater safety than the New Deal era regulations that had only provided safety for almost half a century (1935-1985), but that caused mass bank failures needing a TARP in 1990, then various near crisis situations handled by Clinton administration officials strong arming Wall Street into multiple bailouts, but conservatives argued the problems were from too little deregulation, more deregulation bringing in 2007, everything unraveling, and yet another TARP.

Clearly, West Virginia's economy would be fantastic if it had its own currency, say the Clinker. Produced by mining and burning coal.

I think you and I agree [gasp] on one thing. Monopolies are generally bad. Right?

FYI - In 1990 it wasn't TARP, it was FIRREA (Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, passed to address the S&L Crisis) and later FDICIA (The FDIC Improvement Act was passed in 1991 in response to the savings and loan crisis and fortified the FDIC's role and resources in protecting consumers).

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Mulp,

Read up on the Euro. It's in the class of ideas which "Need to be done right or not at all". The Euro splits monetary control from fiscal control in the presence of strong internal barriers to adjustment. The result is that it impoverishes southern Europe in debt and unemployment and enriches German manufacturers. If you want to recreate the Euro as a US equivalent then keep the dollar but:

1) Abolish nearly all federal welfare spending and development aid. Have no mechanism to compensate for internal trade imbalances.
2) Reduce inter-state trade by 50%. Make trade in services between states mostly illegal.
3) Force all states to produce nearly balanced budgets or be taken over by Treasury. States cannot default or devalue their debt.
4) Introduce 12 different languages for US regions, just to make internal migration difficult.
5) Make half the states 50% richer and the other half 50% poorer.
6) Reduce the productivity of half the states by 50% and increase that of the other half by 50%.
7) Magnify all internal cultural differences about debt, work, pensions, fraud, and welfare expectation by 200%
8) Use monetary policy to set the dollar exchange rate so high that it benefits the highest-productivity states only. Industry in low productivity states can go to the wall.
9) When the weaker states fiscally collapse, don't let them devalue and default; use taxpayer money to underwrite their debt and turn the locals into bondsmen under Washington appointees. Overturn their local election results whilst you are at it.

Bingo! You then can enjoy the full Euro experience!

It's too bad that the architects of the Euro are guilty of hubris, but have not been held legally responsible for the havoc their hubris unleashed.

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Wow, such a patient response from Alistair to this Mulp character. Every time I encounter his comments I just think “Russian troll”.

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"In 1940, the Court began citing the Bill of Rights routinely and started building up the doctrine that the 1791 amendments were a linchpin of judicial review"

Actually most of the bill of rights was not "routinely" cited until later. The fourth amendment wasn't routinely cited until the 1960s, the ninth/fourteenth amendment not until the 1970s (w/ Roe), the eighth not until the 1980s, the sixth amendment not until 2000 (w/ Apprendi), and the second amendment not until 2008 (w/ Heller)! The third and seventh amendment still are not cited regularly.

1940s jurisprudence is mostly about the first and fifth amendment amendment--freedom of speech and the right to remain silent--or the interstate commerce clause to uphold new deal legislation.

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I haven't read Winter War but my understanding is that there was some level of continuity between FDR and Hoover. That they were both in favor of an expanded role for the Federal government to bring an end to the Depression.

FDR's 1932 campaign attacked Hoover for big spending and vowed to cut the budget.

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Bill of Rights: One usually associates the Bill of Rights with procedural due process (Miranda warnings for example), but it's substantive due process that has by far the greater affect since it protects the good guys (e.g., owners of capital) rather than the bad guys (e.g., criminal defendants). The nimble nine has more sympathy (and empathy) for the good guys than the bad guys. An analogy is a government program intended to benefit the less fortunate members of society: wouldn't government funds be better spent on those members of society most likely to succeed? Consider elite colleges and universities: wouldn't scarce admissions produce the greatest return if conferred solely on the basis of most likely to succeed? If resources are insufficient to provide the best quality health care for everyone, should they be spent on those likely to live and produce the longest or those likely to live and produce the shortest?

Globalization and Inequality: Globalization has sharply reduced global inequality as millions have been lifted out of extreme poverty. Globalization has sharply increased intra country inequality including in countries with the largest number of people who have been lifted out of extreme poverty. Can both of those statements be true? And if they are both true, how can one assess globalization and inequality? Is automation and the resulting increase in inequality and social and political instability a greater concern in America or China? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/04/technology/made-in-china-2025-dongguan.html

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While you're doing all this reading, give Maria Lettberg a listen for Scriabin's piano works

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If Indonesia's economy was any good, people might be able to look away a la Chile/South Korea. Btw, most of those purged were ethnically Chinese.

Booker T, Indonesia has been gaining on the occidental countries at a pace sufficiently rapid the last 50 years that it's a reasonable wager they'll qualify as a 2d tier affluent country in 25 years or so. Same deal with Thailand. In re Malaysia, you're looking at < 10 years.

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Madison opposed the Bill of Rights. He later supported it out of political necessity. One wonders what he would have thought about how far those words could be stretched.

Madison opposed the BoR because he felt that the there was no need, since the Constitution enumerated all of the allowable powers of government. Fortunately he was overruled.

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Turns out anti-communist purges can be quite Stalinesque. I

It lasted about 15 months, it was largely accomplished by raging local villagers, and the scale was 1/40th of that in Soviet Russia under Stalin. From 1967 until its end, the Suharto regime was an ordinary military government, bar that it was somewhat more capable and pluralistic than most in that category.

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The quote about the Supreme Court is a little misleading. Surely in context it’s clear that the author meant the change was in how the bill of rights applied to the states. The bill of rights had always limited what congress could do but states and towns were free to stomp all over freedom of speech, ban guns, etc.

Quite right. Most folks today don't realize that the Bill of Rights was only a limitation on the federal government. State constitutions took precedent over the federal constitution. The second amendment only meant the federal government couldn't take your guns. Your state government had every right too.

Then came the civil war. Then the final clause of the 14th amendment basically said the federal constitution overrides the states. Now you got real second amendment rights!

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