Can Libertarianism and Conservatism Be Reconciled?

This post is inspired by an article in The Objective Standard, which proclaims itself the preeminent source for commentary from an Objectivist perspective, objectivism being Ayn Rand‘s philosophy of reason, egoism, and capitalism. The writer, with whom I have jousted sporadically for 15 years, will go unnamed here because I want to emphasize his ideology, […]

The Shallowness of Secular Ethical Systems

This post is prompted by a recent offering from Irfan Khawaja, who styles himself an ex-libertarian and tries to explain his apostasy. Khawaja abandoned libertarianism (or his version of it) because it implies a stance toward government spending that isn’t consistent with the desideratum of another ethical system. Rather than get bogged down in the […]

The Fourth Great Awakening

Be sure to see the related-reading list at the end of this post. If you pay much attention to the posturings of the left — and how could you not? — you probably have concluded that leftism is a quasi-religious* cult. Leftism, as we know it today, is quasi-religious because of its strongly moralistic bent, […]

O.J.’s Glove and the Enlightenment

The Enlightenment is not an historical period, but a process of social, psychological or spiritual development, unbound to time or place. Immanuel Kant defines “enlightenment” in his famous contribution to debate on the question in an essay entitled “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” (1784), as humankind’s release from its self-incurred immaturity; “immaturity […]

Rights, Liberty, the Golden Rule, and Leviathan

Rights arise from voluntary and enduring social relationships. In that respect, they are natural because they represent the accommodations that a people make with each other in order to coexist peacefully and to their mutual benefit. (Natural rights, as I define them, are not the same thing as the kind of “natural rights” that many […]

Can Left and Right Be Reconciled?

TWO DIMENSIONS OF POLITICAL THOUGHT The political views of left and right* should be understood as ideological and psychological phenomena. Left and right aren’t distinguished just by what people think, but more deeply by why people think as they do. Some people just see the world differently than others. And that fundamental difference is reinforced […]

Whence Polarization?

America today is riven with racial, social, and political divisions. Why? Is there a way out? It’s hard to know where to begin. So, rather arbitrarily, I begin with race. David Reich‘s hot new book, Who We Are and How We Got Here, is causing a stir in genetic-research circles. Reich, who takes great pains […]

Preemptive (Cold) Civil War

Parts I – IV are recommended as supplemental to “The Constitution: Myths and Realities“, which adapts the action recommendations of part V. I. PROLOGUE This post is driven by what I have seen of leftism over the years. Just a few hours before its scheduled publication I read a piece by Richard Jack Rail, “Our […]

“Democracy” Thrives in Darkness — And Liberty Withers

The title of this post alludes to a slogan adopted by The Washington Post (WaPo) in February 2017 to mark the paper’s membership in the anti-Trump chorus of “news” outlets. The idea, of course, is that Trump is the new Hitler and WaPo and its brethren will keep us out of the gas chambers by […]

Utopianism, Leftism, and Dictatorship

Bruce Heiden correctly observes that the Left (whom [he’d] rather call Utopians) won’t take up arms against evil enemies, or even raise a fist; nor will they allow others to do it on their behalf. But the reason isn’t usually that they harbor sympathy for the evil (although a minority, the ideological Marxists, sometimes do). […]

Rethinking Free Trade

I have long supported free trade as beneficial. But I have also long derided utilitarianism, which is the doctrinal basis for claiming that free trade is beneficial. And I have long opposed the idea of open borders, in part because of the utilitarian claims of its supporters. It is time for me to resolve these […]

Leftism

Throughout this essay I use “left” and its cognates rather than “progressive” or “liberal” (in the modern, authoritarian sense). The latter terms exemplify doublespeak, an indispensable tool of leftism, inasmuch as “progressives” often endorse regressive economic and social policies, and “liberals” embrace a sanitized version of fascism. This essay draws on many years of reading […]

Liberty and Social Norms Re-examined

What is liberty, and why does it depend on the general observance of social norms? Liberty is not the absence of restraint, whence chaos and depredation flow. Liberty is the presence of mutual restraint based on trust, respect, and forbearance. Where those attributes prevail, a people can coexist peacefully and cooperate beneficially. Cooperation includes not […]

Unorthodox Economics: 3. What Is Scientific about Economics?

This is the third entry in what I hope will become a book-length series of posts. That result, if it comes to pass, will amount to an unorthodox economics textbook. Here are the chapters that have been posted to date: 1. What Is Economics? 2. Pitfalls 3. What Is Scientific about Economics? 4. A Parable […]

Unorthodox Economics: 2. Pitfalls

This is the second entry in what I hope will become a book-length series of posts. That result, if it comes to pass, will amount to an unorthodox economics textbook. Here are the chapters that have been posted to date: 1. What Is Economics? 2. Pitfalls 3. What Is Scientific about Economics? 4. A Parable […]

Taleb’s Ruinous Rhetoric

A correspondent sent me some links to writings of Nicholas Nassim Taleb. One of them is “The Intellectual Yet Idiot,” in which Taleb makes some acute observations; for example: What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and […]

Economists As Scientists

This is the third entry in a series of loosely connected posts on economics. The first entry is here and the second entry is here. (Related posts by me are noted parenthetically throughout this one.) Science is something that some people “do” some of the time. There are full-time human beings and part-time scientists. And […]

Winners and Losers

Steven Landsburg has a provocative post. His point seems to be that those who focus on the “losers” from free trade “want us to conclude either that free trade is not a good thing, or that at the very least, the winners should compensate the losers.” Landsburg continues: This strikes me as an extraordinarily dishonest […]