Arrived in my pile


First. (I don't know why that's a thing.) I adore Deirdre McCloskey, have quoted Why Liberalism Works extensively in my book (she posted previews on her web site), and will be reviewing her book for one of the publications I write for. Self-recommending (not Straussian).

My first reaction on reading that title was "Why Liberalism Works: How True Scotsmen Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World For All."

Yep, though you did a much better job making the true point obvious.

The problem is that lIberalism is much easier to corrupt into socialism/communism and more likely to become oppressive than is a conservative democracy based philosophy.

Prove it.

First of all, I'm pretty sure the book is referring to the classical liberalism much (or formerly) loved by conservatives.

But also lol, the timing. Our conservative president says he can't be indicted, only impeached, and he can't be impeached, because that's treason. Checkmate?

Our president? He is not YOUR president.

Putin is your president.

All it takes to turn me from liberty is this stuff and a sprinkling of the Niskanen Center.

I just wish McCloskey would write more economic history, supporting classical liberalism is good and all but I think McCloskey's opportunity cost (in terms of lost econ hist) is too high.

She is 77 years old and can do what she wants. Saving the world seems to be her priority.

McCloskey's "bourgeois mindset" seems like the weakest of the econ historical theories of Great Divergence, and Industrial Revolution - not very testable and supported by much attempts at psychologically analyzing fiction produced in Western Europe over time, and the like. (And my read of the econ history world from the web around pseudorasmus is that DM is held in relatively little regard in econ history, comparatively to the stature of the like of Mokyr and Allen).

A dose of reassuring the Upper Middle Class that all's well with a life focused on consumerism, the self, money and business, rather than a serious explanation of modern economic growth.

Sounds like her history doesn’t work for your ideological biases.

Rather doesn't seem empirically founded!

To paraphrase St. Paul: "Liberalism has become all things to all people so that by all possible means liberalism might save some". To some, liberalism means the freedom to monopoly, to others it means the freedom to shift production to places with lower costs such as China or Vietnam or India, to others it means the freedom to avoid taxes in the country where the goods produced elsewhere are consumed, and to others it means the freedom to buy a friendly Congress. From the Amazon summary: "In her view, liberalism leads to equality, but equality does not necessarily lead to liberalism." True, but misleading: liberalism does lead to global equality (i.e., equality between developed countries and developing countries) but within country inequality (i.e., within both developed countries and developing countries). It's true, inequality has risen in both developed countries and developing countries as the result of liberalism. If social and political instability is the goal, then liberalism seems to be the means. [To clarify, I consider myself a classical liberal, but not a liberalism that favors the few at the expense of the many.]

So Chinese domination means a freer world... "None Dare Call It Treason"

Uh, oh -- is artificially-engineered peer pressure supposed to be the new nudge? And there's Cass Sunstein blurbing the book. Hmmm.

The author must be mighty sure that the peer pressure he advocates will largely be controlled by his political allies and not by those with politics he disagrees with.

This seems somewhat like arguments to protect the vulnerable from "harmful" speech: those who advocate speech restrictions must be mighty sure they (and not their political enemies) will be the ones doing the restricting.

Yet if one (and one's allies) have the power to apply peer pressure and one's opponents don't, then is it not obvious that one is already in a position of power relative to one's opponents? And therefore this can amount to little more than for those who are already in a position of power to acquire even more power?

We are a social species. Peer influence is not going to not happen. So isn't it fair to talk about the ways such influence can be .. utilitarian?

If all he has in mind is adopting the changes you want to see and hoping your choices influence your peers -- no argument there. But I suspect he may have something more heavy-handed in mind. But maybe not -- we'll see. And having some idea of his politics, I'm pretty sure this will all amount to ways of using peer pressure to get people to do more of what leftists think they should be doing.

That seems fair game for liberals. Conservatives have more uniform opinions and, on average, stronger convictions, which cause them to exert stronger peer pressure without any concerted effort.

Frank is a rabid leftist warmunist (redundant). I'm not worried, we have the second amendment.

Yes! Talking my language there, EdR. I've got plenty of ammo and I will be using it soon.


Any plans to have Deirdre on CWT?

The gay/trans community as benefited the most from liberal instituitons (freedom of the press, freedom of association, etc.) yet it seems like they are now using such institutions for illiberal purposes.

Would be great to have her view on things.

On Liberalism: Here's Cowen's friend Scott Sumner on the success of neo-liberalism:

Liberalism is typically short-hand for classical liberalism. Neo-liberalism is the social liberal's version of liberalism, or liberalism with a conscience. Then there's neo-classical liberalism, liberalism run amok. All things to all people.

Deirdre McCloskey is mostly a classical liberal with some neoliberal characteristics. So am I.

Being a fan of continuous process improvement, "Ingenious" seems fine, even if it might lean a bit on the negative. Gasoline has greatly improved our lives, but lead (or MTBE) in it wasn't such a good idea, and we had to rethink that. We always have to be ready to re-think.

"Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All" by Deirdre Nansen McCloskey

"And yes, by all means let us have a government, a small one, to protect us from force and fraud by fellow Americans—though of course such private arrangements as door locks and high-reputation suppliers and competition in markets achieve the protections in most cases much better and at a much larger economic scale, to speak quantitatively, than does their alleged “ultimate” backing by governmental courts and police and inspectors. The English Court of Chancery is no more “ultimate” than private arrangements for the transmittal of property, or the private gates with guards protecting it. In London in the eighteenth century a wealthy person hired armed guards if he intended to walk across town. The legal scholar Tom W. Bell argues in detail that most countries have private sub-governments in which in numerous ways the writ of the government’s law does not run, a private law expanding rapidly. Protect us, we pray, especially from government itself, from its habit of suspending the right to habeas corpus or abridging the right to vote or spying on civil-rights leaders or enforcing bedroom and bathroom norms or beating up on sassy citizens."

This is a standard argument. It's ridiculous. I don't need to hire anybody to deal with the wealthy gentleman and his guards. I can simply get a group of friends and kill them. Some bandits were so frightful in effectiveness, armies were used to fight them. As to private law, by that definition, the Black Panthers and theMafia and the KKK could be considered private guarantors of a private law, no details need be specified.

What you have is a kind of libertarian boasting that's an illusion. People want a government police force and judiciary because they want something that works in the real world. I do too. My father got released convicts jobs for many years, many of which were well beyond frightening by neighborhood watches.

In my own view, the judicial system is never fair. A small government can be just as tyrannical as a large government, that's what oligarchies are. The wealthy and powerful always have an advantage in the system over the less fortunate. Security laws aren't for James Grant. They're for people dependent on other people to invest for them, and who want a reasonably fair arrangement.

I believe in a smaller government, but that's because I believe a smaller government can be fairer to everyone as well as maximizing freedom. But please, one of the reasons Texas became a state was because of the Comanches, and they needed help against them. The state debt was enormous from borrowing. Libertarians remind me of Texans boasting about self-sufficiency now that the Comanches are gone.

The argument for capitalism is not don't bother about inequality, but that equality of a non-authoritarian sort can only be delivered by capitalism, which can include the welfare state kept on the lean side.

Solid comment, +5 internet points

I'll take liberty, rational thought and capitalism tempered with morality over liberalism any day.

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