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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11217/economics-and-moral-cowardice/

Economics and Moral Cowardice

December 11, 2009 by

Paul Krugman has sunk to a subterranean depth of pettiness in his New York Times post calling Austrians
The new Larouchies
:

Hmm. I’m fairly accustomed to having speaking events disrupted by Larouchies (when I was in Cambridge a while back we had a guy yelling about banana fungus, among other things, who had to be shouted down by the audience).

But last night at Baruch the problem was Austrian economics/Ron Paul people who just wouldn’t stop talking.

On the whole, I might prefer the banana fungus.

This is not the first time Krugman has eschewed openly addressing criticism, and opted instead to snidely and obliquely intimate that his critics are “crazies”; back in June, when he could no longer ignore the attention his pro-housing bubble quotes from 2001-2002 were getting, he responded with a post headlined “And I was on the grassy knoll, too” lumping his critics with the tinfoil hat crowd. But that is nothing compared to the sliminess of associating Austrian economics, a rich and accomplished tradition, even by the mainstream’s skewed standards, with a personality cult like the LaRouche movement.

Like the children of a puerile father, several people in the comments carried on in the same disgusting manner.

It was left to Jonathan Finegold Catalán from the Mises Forums to take Krugman to task:

Dr. Paul Krugman,

You have still refused to put forth any effort into understanding the “Austrian” theory of capital and money. Even if you do not agree with their overall conclusions, it nevertheless holds true that “Austrian” scholarship in these two areas have “discovered” some very important principles. There is no doubt that Austrian theory on capital and money was held in very high regards up until even the 1940s, and don’t forget that Friedrich Hayek won the Nobel Prize in Economics for “his” business cycle theory.

You have published a few critiques of Austrian theory, but you have refused to even look at the responses. You are proving to be very irrational.

Instead of partaking in such childish activities, such as sniping at Austrians from the safety of your blog, would it not be more productive to attack them head on? I am sure you have many good things to say in such a debate. The problem is that you seem unwilling to do so. Because of this, I think that your reputation is slowly collapsing.

Another commenter, “Dan”, called Krugman out on his shameful modus operandi:

Professor,

The Austrian economics / Ron Paul crowd has been right about so many things that you have been wrong about, that it’s more advisable for you to pretend they don’t exist, than to engage them.

For some great critiques of Dr. Krugman, please check out Lilburne’s archive at mises.org.

http://mises.org/daily/?AuthorId=1279

In my own response (still pending moderation), I address a couple of the commenters who aped Krugman’s snide dismissiveness:

Thank you Dan for linking to my archive.

To “A fan in NY” and “M”,

You should know the “crazies” in the Austrian tradition helped revolutionize economics with subjective marginal utility value theory (Menger), and did so for the BETTER (unlike Keynes), played a huge role in developing time preference and capital theory (Bohm-Bawerk and Fetter), connected monetary theory with subjective value theory (Mises), predicted the Great Depression (Mises), took the lead in the calculation debate over socialism (Mises and Hayek), and predicted the present crisis (Peter Schiff was only the most televised Austrian to do so).

Meanwhile the “respectable and sane” Keynes and Krugman believe burying bottles of cash in coal mines would have a net salutary effect on the economy (for an overview this and other gems to be found in Krugman’s Keynesianism read http://mises.org/daily/3583). And yes, Paul Krugman really did voice support for a housing bubble as I demonstrate in this article: http://mises.org/daily/3539

Krugman’s tactics are reminiscent of those of Gustav Schmoller, Carl Menger’s adversary in the Methodenstreit (the struggle over economic methods in the late 19th century), who wouldn’t deign to actually directly debate Menger, but would instead simply let his opinion be known, and then let his position at the top of the academic heap in the German-speaking world do the rest. In his introduction to Menger’s Principle’s of Economics, F.A. Hayek related an illustrative anecdote regarding how Schmoller conducted himself:

The crowning offence from the Austrian point of view was given by Schmoller himself who, on the appearance of Menger’s pamphlet, took the probably unprecedented step of announcing in his journal that, although he had received a copy of the book for review, he was unable to review it because he had immediately returned it to the author.

When you’re on top, there’s no need to debate when you can merely snub or jeer; or so is the thinking of university doyens like Schmoller and Krugman. But history has not smiled on Schmoller, and neither will it likely smile on an intellectual charlatan and bully like Krugman.

Here’s hoping that what Lew Rockwell wrote of Hans Mayer will prove equally true of Paul Krugman:

He played the game and that was all he did. He thought he won, but history has rendered a different judgment.

{ 39 comments }

Andrew December 11, 2009 at 12:45 am

Typically I would advocate ignoring someone so willing to disregard history, facts and logic as Paul Krugman often does. However Krugman’s connection to the New York Times gives his ideas high exposure, and I believe it is our duty to challenge them head-on whenever we have the opportunity.

Banker December 11, 2009 at 1:32 am

I think it is an ego defense mechanism for krugman to resort to snide remarks and outright dismissal of the Austrian school. If he were to accept even he remote possibility that he was wrong, his entire world/paradigm would collapse. He would have spent his entire life propping up he wrong theory and lose his current status as economic guru.

I suppose the best case scenario for Austrians would be to marginalized him rather than try to turn him.

Apologize for any grammar errors; I am typing on a cell phone.

Kevin December 11, 2009 at 2:11 am

My own comment is also awaiting moderation, and has been since 4:52 p.m. Thursday afternoon. I won’t be holding my breath for the affirmative on that one, though I believe I was as polite as the occasion called for. Here is my comment in full:

“So what was it that you were doing while Ron Paul and the Austrian economists accurately forecasted our current recession and were warning people about the housing bubble? Oh that’s right, you were opining about how it would be great for Greenspan to inflate a housing bubble and shining up your obviously deserved Nobel Prize in economics. How did that housing bubble work out for us, by the way?”

Kerem Tibuk December 11, 2009 at 2:24 am

Economics is a court science for nearly a century. Like history before it and climatology after it.

And Krugman is the court jester.

Aaron C December 11, 2009 at 4:13 am

It’s ironic that his supporters are those who resemble most the “Larouchies”, unquestioning thinknots who resemble the adherents of a personality cult admiring the second coming of Keynes.

Magnus December 11, 2009 at 6:13 am

It’s ironic that his supporters are those who resemble most the “Larouchies”, unquestioning thinknots who resemble the adherents of a personality cult admiring the second coming of Keynes.

It’s not merely ironic. It’s psychological projection.

jeffrey December 11, 2009 at 7:19 am

What’s funny too is that the Larouchies have denounced the Mises Institute for years – as a front for the Queen’s drug business or some such.

Thomas December 11, 2009 at 8:08 am

The best thing that could happen would be for someone like Krugman to fairly consider the Austrian approach. But I think we can all agree that won’t happen. The second best thing is for Krugman to drive traffic to mises.org with posts like this.

J. Grayson Lilburne December 11, 2009 at 8:36 am

Bob Murphy shares some inside info about the q&a session Krugman was writing about, which shows a very different picture than the one Krugman was trying to paint.

fundamentalist December 11, 2009 at 8:33 am

Many years ago I read some public relations research that identified two types of people. One group could not make decisions on their own; they had to have an authority tell them what to think and do. The other group distrusted authorities and had the confidence to make decisions on their own.

The first group, authority seekers, tend to be socialists. They pick someone like Krugman to be their high priest and slavishly follow him. The high priest knows that his worshippers don’t want to see him wrestle in the mud with mere mortals. A snear is all it takes to dismiss unbelievers and maintain his exalted position among his worshippers.

Because the differences in thinking are personality based, it’s almost impossible to reconsile the two types. What we learned from the public relations research is how to address the two groups. The second group, the people who can think for themselves, need nothing more than evidence and logic to convince. They tend to be Austrian economists and libertarian.

The first group, those who need someone to follow uncritically, tend to be in the majority. To reach them, you need to find a person, or group of people who cary the same authority with that personality type and have them cary your message. That group also tends to value emotions more, so you have to find an emotional connection with them.

The research is a little old, about 20 years, but it might still be valuable. According to it, most people trust and admire college professors as a group the most. They distrust politicians and car salesmen the most. The only profession that the authority worshippers trust as much as PhD’s is medical doctors. So to counter Krugman, we need other nobel winners (such as the latest ones) who are Austrian friendly, and/or medical doctors to promote Austrian economics and libertarian values. Also, we need to connect with them emotionally, which might mean talking more about alleviating poverty and less about freedom. Socialists don’t care about freedom, at all. You can’t sell it to them. They have freely given up their freedom of thought to authorities like Krugman and they don’t want it back. IP and liberty are not going to attract them at all.

Ryan December 11, 2009 at 8:43 am

It is very telling that Paul Krugman more often attacks the Austrian School than he does the Chicago School. By sheer numbers and influence among ordinary people, the Chicago School and the Mankiw side of the New Keynesian School pose a larger threat to Krugman’s ideology than the Austrians do…

…But of course, by the strength of their ideas, Austrians are the only real competition he has. When he attacks Austrians, he simply acknowledges the strength of their ideas. I agree that Mises.org should make a point of critiquing Krugman’s ideas directly. In the meantime, be happy about the exposure he keeps bringing to Austrian School ideas. :)

Ryan December 11, 2009 at 9:26 am

Fundamentalist said: “Also, we need to connect with them emotionally, which might mean talking more about alleviating poverty and less about freedom. Socialists don’t care about freedom, at all. You can’t sell it to them.”

I’m a little bit outside the libertarian world (I agree with the ideas, but I’m not much of a joiner). However, from what I’ve seen, libertarians need to lay off the ultra-controversial issues and speak more to the fact that libertarianism just makes things work better. When Republicans fall out of vogue, they stop talking about religion and abortion and start talking about low taxes. When Democrats fall out of vogue, they stop talking about welfare and start talking about civil rights.

So why on Earth do libertarians wax at length about the legalization of drugs/prostitution and the elimination of patents?? That’s not going to win libertarianism support among the average person.

If libertarianism wants a shot at the mainstream, it needs to speak to issues that matter to a mainstream audience: low taxes, less corporate welfare, fewer wars, a healthier economy, a less interventionist foreign policy, etc. etc.

When libertarians start in about anarchy and drugs and the Founding Fathers, they really under-cut their viability among a large audience of people. It’s hard to take libertarians seriously when they’re so busy talking about eliminating public schools (something that would take decades to implement) that they can’t address the immediate needs of the nation (such as ending two wars and shrinking government debt).

So sometimes I think libertarians’ failure is that they’re not connected to the mainstream issues at all.

Robert December 11, 2009 at 9:31 am

Over on the forums, you can see that many fans of Austrian economics are ignorant of capital theory, including Austrian capital theory. (Besides the recent forum article on Krugman, see articles over the last few weeks on Hayek’s so-called “Ricardo effect”.) They are therefore ignorant of Austrian Business Cycle Theory, too. And somebody knowledgable about ABCT would be interested these days in the Austrian theory of the “secondary depression.” I don’t see why Krugman should listen to calls for a debate with proponents of a certain set of ideas when so many of those proponents have no idea what they are talking about.

newson December 11, 2009 at 9:48 am

…an unsurprising comment from a post-keynesian.

fundamentalist December 11, 2009 at 10:02 am

Ryan, good points, to which I have no answer. Libertarians can sometimes be their own worst enemy. We may be afflicted with a disease I don’t have a name for. I saw it in my graduate classes. Every professor thought his field had a corner on knowledge of everything important and wouldn’t condescent to learn any other discipline. Libertarians don’t have enough respect for the field of public relations. Yes, there is a lot of junk in the practice, just as there is in economics. But there is some really good research available on how people think and how to reach and persuade them. Libertarians have ignored all of it for decades and look how successful we have been.

Jonathan Finegold Catalán December 11, 2009 at 10:42 am

Robert,

I don’t think anybody suggested that Paul Krugman should argue with students of Austrian economics. I think that it is rather obvious that what we are suggesting to Paul Krugman is that he take on those who are very well read on Austrian capital theory.

Whether or not we know Austrian capital theory very well (I know, that as a student, my understanding is incomplete, and with the nature of the subject is bound to remain incomplete for a very long time) is irrelevant to the fact that it nevertheless provides a lot of good points and arguments. Whether or not us students know capital theory well is irrelevant to the fact that does not mean Paul Krugman should ignore professional Austrian economists.

Jon O. December 11, 2009 at 11:02 am

The ironic thing (one of many) is that the Larouchiacs are for the most part keynesians; they worship the new deal and FDR yet despise Keynes (as they do anything that is even tangentially related to Britain and “capital”). They are also nationalists, socialists, protectionists etc. In other words anti-libertarians.

They worship a cult leader much like the Krugman followers do. Most casual austrians/libertarians haven’t gone through a complete economic indoctrination at the typical neo-classical/keynesian economics department and may lack some basic economic knowledge but manage to maintain a level of skepticism and individualism that the rest of the automatons don’t.

It’s very hard for an intelligent person to buck the mainstream of a particular social science; It’s instinctual to seek comfort in the tribe/crowd, especially when the crowd is made up of “experts”. The mass will always worship(blindly follow) the “expert” as its the convenient thing to do; the Milgram experiments showed this quite clearly. Most people can’t get over the fear of being called a kook, an idiot, or a conspiracy theorist, so they abandon the truth for delusion. They equivocate.

I’ll take an austrian-libertarian who may be wrong about some relatively trivial thing over a keynesian kool-aid drinker any day. A misunderstanding of ABCT is understandable whereas blind support of socialism cum statism – with a fawning obesance towards its most vocal apologists – is indefensible.

Mike December 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm

“You should know the “crazies” in the Austrian tradition helped revolutionize economics with subjective marginal utility value theory (Menger), and did so for the BETTER (unlike Keynes), played a huge role in developing time preference and capital theory (Bohm-Bawerk and Fetter), connected monetary theory with subjective value theory (Mises), predicted the Great Depression (Mises), took the lead in the calculation debate over socialism (Mises and Hayek), and predicted the present crisis (Peter Schiff was only the most televised Austrian to do so).”

It’s kind of funny how all the quack economists deride Austrianism for being “unempirical” when Austrian theories are confirmed again and again.

Of course I understand the difference: Austrianism isn’t based on simple historical observations. Confirmations on the other hand, are aplenty. Whereas the supposed “empirical” economists can’t seem to figure out why the past on which they base their theories doesn’t repeat itself in exactly the same way.

The repeated confirmations of Austrianism, and the constant confusion about the causes of current troubles of mainstream economics, is of course the clincher, the final nail in the coffin of mainstream economics. (Only problem is, they don’t know they’re dead!)

It’s great to be on the side of reality. I’m so glad I discovered this place. :-)

mikey December 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm

If you could debate Krugman, what would you say?

bob December 11, 2009 at 1:01 pm

All my comments were posted. Now comments are no longer accepted. Has anyone read ALL the comments?

It starts off with a bunch of comments that equate to “Yeah, Krugman is right and Austrians are crazy?” to “Krugman, you are the one who is crazy AND HERE ARE YOUR OWN WORDS TO PROVE IT”.

We made him look like a serious bitch, should people bother reading these comments. Of course, comments are now closed…look for revisions soon…

bob December 11, 2009 at 1:32 pm

“If you could debate Krugman, what would you say?”

I’d demonstrate the hollow foundation of his arguments through the practical example of Japan. Krugman’s policy advice was to deficit spend at a level that was clearly not politically feasible. Of course, political feasibility isn’t the basis of economics. But Krugman relies generally on empirical analysis (at least that’s how he most often dismisses opponents).

Thus, I’d accuse him of claiming infallibility, creating policy advice that won’t be followed, while claiming his solutions cannot be refuted except by history.

I would say claiming infallibility is not a valid method of winning a debate of reason, and ask him to provide a major historical example where Keynesianism worked. Since there are no such examples, he would have to resort to theory.

After pushing the debate into theory, I’d simply say that according to Keynesian theory, digging holes and filling them in can increase prosperity, but only when administrated by government. Obviously, any rational person would see that nothing was produced and prosperity cannot come from failing to produce any desirable good. Furthermore, many people can see that government administration of DESIRABLE services, such as housing, often produce crisis and disaster. Thus, gov’t administration of obvious waste is a double boondoggle.

Another part of the debate, and probably the most important part, is to disprove that there is such a thing as “involuntary employment”. Empirically, this is easy. There were no bouts of sustained mass unemployment in history, until government unemployment insurance, union powers, and high-wage interventions were institutionalized. Thus it seems that freer markets eliminate unemployment just fine and actually better than all examples of Keyensian deficit spending.

Theoretically, involuntary unemployment makes no sense. If one is starving, they clearly do not refuse to act to satisfy this desire. They work, although in unconventional ways that may not be seen in employment statistics – they generally self-employ. For example, begging, while failing to produce any tangible goods, is still laborious and generates an income. So does filling out unemployment forms. If individuals felt they could better satisfy their desires by reducing their desired wage to levels acceptable to employers or moving from an industry with few job opportunities to one with many, they would do so. They prefer “unemployment” due to gov’t handouts for being unemployed, or due to gov’t policies that reduce wage rates (taxing or regulating entrepreneurial behavior) so low that people prefer leisure and deep poverty over hard work and mild poverty.

Richie December 11, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Ryan,

A true libertarian would not speak about “low taxes, less corporate welfare, fewer wars, a healthier economy, a less interventionist foreign policy, etc. etc.” Instead, the true libertarian would speak about: NO taxes, NO corporate welfare, NO wars, a healthy economy, a NO interventionist foreign policy, etc. etc. To be perfectly honest, I could not care less about being mainstream. Usually when people speak about being in the “mainstream”, they usually mean being popular with voters. Horsecrap. That is no different than saying “We can change government if we just get the ‘right’ people voted in.” Please.

Robert December 11, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Apparently Brandon Barrios was one who asked questions of Krugman. He comments on Krugman’s blog: “To anyone who questions the respectability or caliber of supporters of Austrian Economics and Ron Paul…” As I said, from what I’ve seen here, the caliber of such supporters is easily questioned.

Walt D. December 11, 2009 at 2:57 pm

People who make ad-hominen attacks usually do so because they have already lost the argument, and have nothing more substantive to say. Paul Krugman falls into this trap – he will go down in history as Mr. Always-Wrong (Dr. Always-Wrong?, Professor Always-Wrong?) . Larouche may have a reputation for being a crackpot. However, if you go back to 1980, Larouche was correct on his assessment of nuclear power. I actual bought my copy of Petr Beckmann’s “The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear”, from a Larouche bookstand in an airport.
BTW:Can somebody remind me of the French politician around the time of the French Revolution who kept having visions that always turned out to be wrong?

Ohhh Henry December 11, 2009 at 2:59 pm

“The first group, authority seekers, tend to be socialists. They pick someone like Krugman to be their high priest and slavishly follow him. The high priest knows that his worshippers don’t want to see him wrestle in the mud with mere mortals.”

I can see how this would work in primitive societies, and it would not necessarily be a bad thing. In a hunting and gathering tribe a false prophet or bad chief would be exposed pretty quickly when he failed to predict a storm, find game, or whatever.

But in the modern era a false prophet like Keynes or a bad chief like Winston Churchill can go on causing destruction for decades before they and their false ideas are rejected by their followers. I suspect there are a couple factors behind this – (1) public education brainwashes away the innate common sense of nearly the entire public, convincing them for example that paper = wealth and war = peace. (2) central banking delays the exposure and liquidation of bad investments and makes it more difficult to trace the causes of business failures and unemployment.

The public continues to follow bad leaders for far longer than is good for them because it takes them much longer to recognize that they’re being hoodwinked.

Ron Paul therefore gets full credit for going to the heart of the problem. He is attempting to make up for faulty education with his writing, speeches and his frequent references to Austrian economics, Mises, Rothbard, Rockwell, etc., and he is trying to destroy the central bank by exposing its corruption in such a clear and unmistakable way that even the most brainwashed of the sheeple can see that it is not merely a badly run institution, but an institution which has no moral reason to exist.

Fallon December 11, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Robert,
You sound ironic given your stated blog intentions at Thoughts on Economics:

“In general, this blog is abstract, and I think I steer clear of commenting on practical politics of the day.”

Rather, it must have something to do with your Sraffianism. Are you even more Marxist than Marx, then?

Ryan December 11, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Richie,

I respect your convictions. I too place little value on being mainstream. However, I place a very high value on reducing my tax burden and increasing the amount of essential liberty I have. The question becomes, how do you get things done?

Whatever your convictions or the strength of your ideals, at some point you have to acknowledge that a tax-free nation does not happen overnight. Making society freer will not be the result of libertarians suddenly winning a presidency, a majority and ultimately passing sweeping and revolutionary legislation that eliminates taxation and abolishes the Postal Service.

A more likely situation is one in which libertarian ideas become more widespread and taxes, government spending, the military complex, etc. etc. are all reduced to the minimum acceptable level over the course of multiple generations. (Much the same way socialism took hold.)

So while your line-in-the-sand approach may be good for your personal ideals, it alienates the rest of your country and hurts your cause. And when your cause is hurt, my chances at lower taxes and more essential liberty are hurt.

Food for thought, anyway…

Chad Rushing December 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Richie stated, “A true libertarian would not speak about ‘low taxes, less corporate welfare, fewer wars, a healthier economy, a less interventionist foreign policy, etc. etc.’ Instead, the true libertarian would speak about: NO taxes, NO corporate welfare, NO wars, a healthy economy, a NO interventionist foreign policy, etc. etc.”

If that’s how “true libertarians” would define themselves, then “true libertarians” have defined themselves right out of viable reality into ivory tower fantasyland for the duration given the current mindset of the American people specifically and the moral fallibility inherent in human nature generally.

Does this mean that “true libertarians” would not accept or applaud any incremental steps in the right direction whatsoever as pursued by people such as Ron Paul who is attempting to peacably reform the current system? Has “Give me anarcho-capitalism now or give me death!” really become the rallying cry of libertarianism? If so, then I’ll gladly accept the label of “false libertarian” by advocating and supporting a non-revolutionary, incremental reduction in the size, power, and scope of the State over time like Ryan suggests above rather than the all-or-nothing, overnight approach which rarely bears any lasting fruit.

For example, auditing the Federal Reserve may not outright abolish it, the dream of all Austrians, but one would think that all opponents of the Fed would certainly consider it an improvement over the status quo. After all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

bob December 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm

The key mark of a libertarian is action, not belief. If you are going to advocate gradually reducing government, vote as such. If you are going to advocate radical non-political reformation, stop paying taxes and otherwise obeying what you consider a completely illegitimate state. If you are my best friend, do both.

Don’t just talk about it.

Dick Fox December 11, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I love this. The truth is that Mises.org had go under Krugman’s skin and he is fighting back. Krugman is not only Keynesian in his economics but he is Keynesian in his ego and his proclivity to shift his comments depending on his whim – or his error. He is not beyond lying and anyone who has the nerve to take him on will feel his rath.

But where Keynes was apparently a master at degrading his opponents, Krugman looks like a fool. I love it when he attacks Austrians. His protest will encourage people to investigate what all the noise is about and they will discover that Krugman has promoted policies that have caused our current crisis, such as creating a housing bubble to get us out of the dot.com bubble.

This is choice.

iawai December 11, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Ignoring the deranged shouting about banana fungus is preferable to the Krugman because he knows it doesn’t carry any weight against his position.

Polite and meaningful thoughts about Austrian Economics, OTOH, frighten the bejesus out him. He can’t ignore it, he has to prepare emotionally based but logically unsound defenses and make up lies – hard work for a NYT contributor, I’m sure.

If Mises.org offered to double Krugman’s wages, I’m sure he’d be able to change his tune, and see that, for instance, Ron Paul’s suggestion for private competing commodity money is not reducable to the ominous sounding “gold standard.” (which itself wouldn’t be a bad thing, but notice that he left unsaid any proof that such policy is inherently bad)

iawai December 11, 2009 at 8:20 pm

To the debaters of “true libertarianism”:

It is indeed the position that, ideally, there should be no institutionalized theft, not just less. Because the wider world sees this statement reduce to “anarchy, boogaboogabooga!” the correct response isn’t to compromise and say “okay, we’ll just advocate a reduction in taxes”, but to make popular the idea of no taxes through education and a bright vision of the future.

The issue is that the govt has said “anarchy is chaos”, and society at large has accepted this, uncritically. They, in order to protect themselves, insist that without govt force there would be no order, because they provide order currently. Just like the argument that there would be no schools without govt funding, or no science, or no roads. It’s all just a fabrication, perpetuated by no one in particular and believed by everyone.

Mike December 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_scotsman

(I’m not really trying to make a point with this, just that it came to mind)

Chad Rushing December 12, 2009 at 2:27 am

iawai stated, “The issue is that the govt has said ‘anarchy is chaos’, and society at large has accepted this, uncritically. They, in order to protect themselves, insist that without govt force there would be no order, because they provide order currently.”

My view that anarchy is not workable in the long term or for anything but the tiniest populations is based on my understanding of innate human nature and not on governmental pronouncements regarding the issue. And I have no doubt that order would eventually arise in any anarchistic society, but it would only be because some new individual or group of individuals would effectively become the new “government” eventually through sheer might or by popular demand, even if they were never labelled as such or explicitly realized it themselves.

Until the day when man no longer wrongs his fellow man, it will never be a question of governmental authority vs. no governmental authority in human society, but one of whose governmental authority and whether that authority is wielded in a just fashion. Human mortality itself is probably the only other phenomenon which has been equally demonstrated as unavoidable by recorded history.

fundamentalist December 12, 2009 at 10:39 am

Ohhh Henry: “But in the modern era a false prophet like Keynes or a bad chief like Winston Churchill can go on causing destruction for decades before they and their false ideas are rejected by their followers.”

I wish that were true. Then the solution would be easy. But it appears to be more of a personality issue. The PR research I mentioned was done 20 years ago, not 20 centuries. It is a personality issue. They don’t respond to reason because they don’t trust themselves to decide. They trust only authority, even if they are well-educated.

Fallon December 12, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Chad Rushing,

Are all possible forms of human relationships only to be found in the past? Slavery has been with humankind for thousands of years. Does this make having more enlightened masters the only hope for man?

Anyone claiming the necessity of a state is saying that subjugation must exist in order to have freedom. Should there be any wonder why Obama invokes MLK and Gandhi at the same time of rationalizing war (read murder and enslavement) in Afghanistan? The state exists by exploiting this contradiction. More closely, the state IS the expression of this contradiction.

I think you will find that anarcho-capitalism makes no claim against man’s natural heirarchy or possible paternalism, or against the need for (collective) security or means of getting justice (courts etc). Rather, AnCaps claim a more just order in this regard.

It makes no sense to hope for a better state when the state itself is bad. Really, look behind the curtain of state. You will see… mere people. But they are doing things to other people: taxing, threatening, killing and subjugating. These individuals are acting in such a way that if you or I did the same activities to each other or our neighbors we would be considered criminals.

AnCaps, and I do not speak for all by any stretch, are only calling for the institution of no exceptions when it comes to interpersonal decency.

National Geographic sociologist Wade Davis claims that almost every culture in the world has rules of relating that approximate the Ten Commandments.
The universality (approximate) of ‘Ten Commandments’ type creations arose naturally over thousands of years- almost like the acceptance of gold as money.

Maybe the past, then, is telling us that it is time to close the loop on all the last vestiges of privilege. The state violates man’s creed. Why support it any longer?

Walt D. December 12, 2009 at 5:13 pm

” Slavery has been with humankind for thousands of years.”
Its latest manifestation is redistribution of income.

Ryan December 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm

iawai,

To trade every political improvement (i.e. steps toward a smaller, more rational government) for an almost absurdly unlikely all-or-nothing (i.e. anarchy) is probably the most short-sighted stance on minimal government I can imagine.

Good luck with that. As for the rest of us, we will be happy with any improvement that goes our way. To view this as “compromise” is utter lunacy.

Similarly, even though I would love to some day be the CEO of a major corporation, I am content to work at my current job in hopes of eventually working my way to the top, step-by-step. Your position is tantamount to refusing any kind of gainful employment other than your dream job. Silly.

iawai December 13, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Ryan:

It appears we have a misunderstanding: I was saying that just because we can’t expect to become such a CEO in one easy step doesn’t mean we have to compromise that as the eventual goal. Of course taking step-by-step progress is required, but the focus shouldn’t be on “making it to middle management”, even if that is one of the primary steps to get to the final goal.

My position recognizes that (1) incremental “shrinking” of govt may be counter productive: as govt get smaller and some bad things happen, people will be quick to blame the policy, (2) using the political process to change the political process is a very careful line to walk w/o becoming the tyranny you seek to dispose, and (3) sometimes its best to just go and start you own company rather than try to work up someone else’s ladder.

I hope that this explanation makes my position look less “silly.”

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