Liberty & Power: Group Blog
David T. Beito
Larry Summers is desparately seeking forgiveness for his sinful ways and this time he may get it by paying massive cash indulgences.
Summers has pledged that Harvard University with spend fifty million dollars to set up a special "diversity fund" targeted to hire women and minorities. When the CNN reporter announced this story earlier this morning, any pretense of objectivity fell by the wayside. She was delighted by his cash penance and said so. Her colleague across the table chimed in to praise Brother Summers.
So much for the technically challenged.
Because I liked both the replys and hoped for more to arrive, prolonging the discussion, I am repeat the post including the responses. Here are the rresponses, the post is given in my first post under reply, if anyone did not read it and is curious as to what it said, or was planning a reply.
I apologize for any inconveniences this causes. i won't press "edit" again!
I lost the full replies of Chris and the other fellow, whose name did not get saved. I apologize to you both. (I am glad I included their core points as I understood them in my responses.)
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Here are some brief comments on your questions, Chris.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POLITICAL ECONOMY AND LIBERAL DEMOCRACY? I'VE OFTEN CHARACTERIZED TODAY'S POLITICAL ECONOMY AS A KIND OF "NEOCORPORATISM." DO YOU THINK A LIBERAL DEMOCRACY COULD BE SUSTAINED IN THAT POLITICAL-ECONOMIC CONTEXT? HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THOSE WHO WOULD ARGUE THAT SUCH A LIBERAL DEMOCRACY FUELED THE EMERGENCE OF "INTEREST-GROUP" LIBERALISM, AND, THUS, THE EMERGENCE OF THE REGULATORY STATE? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT ROLE DOES LIBERAL DEMOCRACY PLAY IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF "ORGANIZATIONS" THAT ARE ANATHEMA TO THE SUSTENANCE OF ... LIBERAL DEMOCRACY? ARE THERE INTERNAL CONTRADICTIONS HERE?
Really perceptive questions, as usual. Here are my thoughts on them, briefly.
I think your characterization is accurate, and that one of the unsolved problems in the classical liberal tradition is that if we are to have both democracies and corporations, how do we prevent the latter from subverting the former? I know that many classical liberals will say “Don't you have it backwards?” I don't think so, though causality flows both ways, the dominant causality flows that way.
Evidence? That corporations were central to many efforts to centralize government in Washington. Further, a Hayekian analysis will underline that the interests of big organizations and the interests of the market are opposed. Corporations want stability and control, markets undermine both. Their approaches to patent law and copyright are the opposite of what the market uses best: they try and bring ever more information under private ownership. Anyone who thinks that big business is in support of economic freedom simply is naïve. They are supportive of economic freedom for them selves when it is profitable, and any other way of making a buck when it is not.
The risk here is what we see happening in Washington today: the creation of our first national political machine. Civil service was created not primarily to give safe jobs, though everyone knew that would be a result, but to prevent machines from having access to labor and money. Now Republican style “contracting out” is doing an end run around civil service, but because the money provided is then in part given back in the form of campaign help, there is no incentive to decrease spending. Quite the opposite. Only genuine conservatives who think the Republican party is conservative should be confused about its behavior. They use market rhetoric to create a very unmarked outcome.
That government has access to coercive power makes it a target of every private interest that can imagine giving itself a privilege. My own work is to try and develop areas where we can shift serving public interests and values away from government towards civil society the better to insulate them from that kind of corruption. However, alas, I think a certain amount of corruption is inherent in human affairs, be they corporate or government or ecclesiastical or anything else.
I think the issue of internal contradictions is vital. My own work emphasizes that all emergent orders share a common internal contradiction between the conditions sustaining the order and the circumstances desired by the organizations that arise within them. I guess the Founders' term “eternal vigilance” is all we can hope for here.
In addition, the different emergent orders themselves, while analytically distinct, in practice interpenetrate, and this interpenetration leads to contradictions. I explored one such case, the media, in my article in The Review of Politics, Summer, 2004. I do not have solutions - I think first we need to see that there is a problem and that the problem cannot be resolved by automatically preferring one such order over all the others. Then lots of creative minds can get to work on them.
TANGENTIAL TO THIS, BUT STILL CONCERNED WITH POLITICAL ECONOMY: WHILE SOME MAY BE "ATTEMPTING TO FREE THE STATE INSTITUTIONS FROM THEIR SUBORDINATION TO DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES," ISN'T IT ALSO TRUE THAT THERE ARE MANY INSTITUTIONS ALREADY THAT ARE NOT SUBORDINATED TO DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES (PARTICULARLY IN THE REALM OF MONEY, BANKING, AND THE REGULATORY APPARATUS)---AND WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS HERE FOR THE SUCCESS OF LIBERAL DEMOCRACY?
Here I will punt a bit! I am not an economist. In high school and as a college student I was always reading about how all these things were bad and total catastrophe was around the corner. It never happened. On the other hand - is it really good to have enormous privileged banks open mostly to equally enormous privileged businesses? I do not feel I have any expertise on money and banking issues, and leave them for the economists to fight out.
As to regulation, I think there is a learning curve going on. That is, the old Progressive era approaches have been discredited and I think democracies are discovery and learning systems just as are markets. Most classical liberals really do not appreciate how much the “other” liberals have abandoned faith in such approaches. Often they support using market mechanism.
Now someone will say, it's still regulation. Yes, it is. But I do not think all relevant externalities can be internalized, for reasons already discussed on this site not long ago by me and others. Property rights are essentially Newtonian in their form: discrete, bounded, defensible. At certain scales this works just fine. At other scales, problems appear. Just like with Newtonian physics, and for the same reason: the world is ultimately not atomistic.
For example, when effects get too hard to tie to responsible causes regulation of some sort seems to me a wise approach - think of air pollution by automobiles and non-point water pollution from agricultural runoff. Indeed, it was at the ecological level that I first came to what I decided were major weaknesses with classical liberal analysis. The point is not to become a Progressive or what-have-you. The point is to then try and figure out what to do. For example, the Endangered Species Act has a lot of problems. But not having one at all would have even worse problems. A job worth doing is worth doing badly rather than not at all. But it can be improved.
Another point. American bureaucracies arose after a democratic order was established. European ones were devised by undemocratic systems, and democratic parliaments inherited them. They work differently, and most of what everyone “knows” about bureaucracies is based on European models. One example, at least until Bush began trying to undo American democracy, our bureaucracies were more and more open to citizen input, input with teeth, that made arbitrary rulings very difficult. Now, ironically with the cheering of conservatives who claim to dislike bureaucracies, they are being more and more shielded from openness and responsibility for their actions. Becoming more like the European model. Such is “patriotism” in the idiot Right. (James Q. Wilson has written some perceptive stuff here.)
Finally, I think that classical liberals need to really take a long and careful look at Tocqueville's work on civil society. He is describing a spontaneous order, and even uses Smith's invisible hand terminology. But it is not a market and it is not government. Here I think lie enormous riches to be mined, riches mostly being ignored by the tendency of classical liberals to subsume civil society into the market, so that they cannot theoretically grasp what is obvious to all- corporations are for many important purposes not analogous to small businesses.
My book Persuasion, Power, and Polity explored how most public values could be served at least potentially outside the realm of government as a coercive institution. It was in my opinion a pretty good first try. As I have grumped before, it was read by a few, never reviewed, and is now out of print. I know you offered to review it for critical review, and were turned down! You have had similar problems as I understand it. Such is the openness of much of the libertarian and classical liberal intellectual community to new takes within the classical liberal framework!
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO IMPOSE SOME KIND OF "RULE OF LAW" ON ~OTHER~ SOCIETIES, IN THE HOPES OF "MOLDING THEM" WITH A LIBERAL-DEMOCRATIC FRAMEWORK (E.G., IRAQ)? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT VALIDITY IS THERE TO THE "NATION-BUILDING" QUEST FOR LIBERAL DEMOCRACY, OR IS THIS SOME KIND OF INVERSION OF THE NATURE OF "SPONTANEOUS ORDER"?
I think it is criminal, immoral, and hideous. Here I take my Hayekianism pretty seriously. Societies cannot be easily molded, the task is too complex, local knowledge is too important. California tried to develop a framework for community control of ground water basins based on generalizing from successful independently devised models. It failed because the local factors were so important. This was for water basins close by the ones that had been successfully organized by local efforts. If we cannot do this, how in the name of God can we re-create Iraq?
Further, the more I learn about the impact of western imperialism, the worse it stinks at every level. Western imperialism killed millions - on a scale that proportionately is not necessarily that much better than what happened in Communism. It did it differently. But it did it. And in the process developed many of the institutions later put to such use by the Communists and Nazis, such as concentration camps.
I think the best we can do is set an example and encourage others to adapt that example to their own circumstances. I do think we should have as little to do as possible with undemocratic governments. When the country is important - such as China - we still have to deal with them a lot. But smaller countries that we do not have to deal with should be made clear pay a price for the forms of government they have. But the price should not be in being bombed or occupied by us.
I do differ from my more firmly anti-interventionist colleagues on two issues. First, I think that the doctrine of state sovereignty is such bunk that we are justified in invading and stopping any government that is committing mass murder on its own people. Whether we should do it in a [particular case is a prudential issue. But in principle I see nothing wrong with doing so, any more than I see nothing wrong with tax supported police in California intervening to stop a murder taking place in front of them across the border in Nevada.
Second, because I think democracies are not states, I think we are justified in invading any country whose democracy government has been overthrown and a state put in its place, or invades a democracy, to re-establish the democracy. Again, whether this is the wise thing to do cannot be made a general rule. But I have no objection to doing such in principle. Democracies do not fight one another. Other governments do, as well as fighting democracies. Further, democracies do not kill their own citizens in huge numbers (US civil war excepted, and I think it is a special case) and undemocratic governments do.
In both these un-libertarian exceptions this is best done for obvious reasons with volunteer troops. And again, I do not say we should do these interventions, I say we have no principled block against doing them. Each case can be evaluated on its merits.
So these, quickly and probably too superficially, are my replies to your questions. And again, very good questions they are!
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another person comments and I respond:
Interesting stuff here, and here are my thoughts on the points you raise.
IN THIS INTERNET-CONNECTED WORLD, INSTITUTIONAL BEHAVIOR PROVIDES BRAKES AGAINST THE RAPIDLY-CHANGING ASSOCIATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS WHICH OCCUR ONLINE. YOUR PERSONAL SOCIETY MAY BE CONNECTED THROUGH INTERCONNECTIONS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD . . .
IT CHANGES FROM ONE MOMENT TO ANOTHER. EACH HAS ITS PARTICULAR RULES ENCIRCLING PROPER ETIQUETTE, WITH ITS OWN HISTORY AND TRADITIONS. SOME ASSOCIATIONS AFFILIATE WITH EACH OTHER; OTHERS ARE SUBGROUPS, SUBCULTURES WHICH PINPOINT PARTICULAR BEHAVIORS. SOME ARE DESIRABLE; OTHERS ARE NECESSARY. MANY ARE MOMENTARY, BUT INSTITUTIONS ARISE TO EXTEND THE TIMEFRAME OF SOCIAL MECHANISMS, SOMETIMES LONG PAST THE NEEDS OF THE MEMBERS.
Here I think you are right. Most political theorizing has been focused entirely on politics and democracy in terms of geographic communities. Yet often the communities of which we are a part extend worldwide and involve no one living anywhere near me.
I have a quick and dirty taxonomy of groups that runs something like this. First division: intimate and non-intimate. The former includes groups like the family. The second, groups where our personal relationships tend to be more purely instrumental and do not depend on detailed knowledge of one another to succeed.
Second division: Within groups where people do not know one another personally and where relationships are largely instrumental, two more precise divisions can then be made: private and common. Private in this context means the group is concerned with serving the personal needs and desires of its members as individuals. Common means the group is also concerned with serving the needs of its members as members of that group. “We” can easily be as important or more important that “I.” (Think of a sports team.)
Within “common” a further distinction can be drawn. “Public” is a subset of “common.” Public is the most inclusive form of common - where I am concerned with group values that I think all of society would benefit from seeing served better. By “society” I mean the human community so defined as to include many groups of which I am not a member. So this could be a town, a state, a country, or even the world.
So public values are values we seek to serve to the betterment of society. This does NOT mean that forcing others to observe them is the best way to achieve this goal. It also does NOT mean that I need to serve them within the confines of a geographically defined community, such as a city, state, or country. Amnesty International serves public values world wide.
A big question unexplored by most political theorists is what are the best ways to serve public values? This is particularly important because, as you say, institutions sometimes overstay their usefulness… Further, we are no longer easily identified with a simple geographical location.
INSTITUTIONS AS SUCH MAY CONTINUE ON AND ON, ACTING AS A WAY OF SLOWING DOWN THIS CHANGING PROCESS. SPONTANEOUS ORDERS MAY WELL GENERATE THESE INSTITUTIONS, BUT THE INSTITUTIONS THEMSELVES OFTEN OUTLAST THE REASON WHY THEY WERE CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE. "MISSION CREEP" SETS IN AND AGENDAS CHANGE. CONFLICTS ARISE. INTER- AND INTRA-INSTITUTIONAL WARFARE HAPPENS. AS THE COLLOQUIALISM SAYS, "SHIT HAPPENS."
A STATE BASED UPON CASTES (IN THE "MISESIAN" SENSE) IS NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN INSTITUTIONS. WITHOUT THIS SENSE OF A STATE, FEW INSTITUTIONS WOULD EXIST. CERTAINLY THIS STATE IS THE SENSE IN WHICH WE HAVE LIBERAL DEMOCRACIES TODAY.
I need reminding as to what Mises meant by “caste”. I checked the indexes of the Mises books I have, and didn't find the term.
AFFILIATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS ARE DEMOCRACIES WITH A SMALL "D". OUR FAMILY, RELIGIOUS GROUP, BUSINESS AND PERSONAL INTERESTS DEFINE AND MAKE UP OUR "DEMOCRACIES." OUR PERSONAL SUCCESS, OUR PROFIT AND LOSS, COME FROM OUR VOLUNTARY CHOICES WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF THESE DEMOCRACIES. THE STATE, WHETHER A DICTATORSHIP OR A LIBERAL DEMOCRACY, DETERMINES THE AMOUNT OF PLUNDER WITHIN A SOCIETY, AND DETERMINE THE RANGE OF INVOLUNTARY CHOICES THAT WE HAVE AT HAND. VOLITION IS LIMITED AND THE LEVEL OF CHOICES ARE ILLUSORY, AS RANDY BARNETT POINTS OUT IN THE FIRST CHAPTER OF HIS "RESTORING THE LOST CONSTITUTION."
Here I disagree with almost everything. Families are not democracies because children as a rule do not get equal votes. Couples are not democracies because there can never be anything like majority decision making - it is either one person rules or consensus. Religious groups can be internally democratic, though most aren't, but they are organizations and what they do is strongly bounded by their organizational goals. Salvation for example. Democratic organizations such as cooperatives are not democracies because they are agreed as to the basic purposes to be pursued. Their freedom of action, and therefore latitude of discovery of applicable public values, is very constrained. Just like a democracy during war time.
You equate democracy with voluntary association - and I do not. It is possible for a democracy to be a voluntary association (see my book for extensive analysis) but most voluntary associations are not democracies. That you need to put quotes around democracy demonstrates that this usage is unusual. I argue it is more than unusual, it is misleading because it shifts our attention away from the kinds of values that democracies are supposed to serve. And these values need not be pursued through coercive means. So translating my arguments into your terminology is very tricky and, I think, impossible. Perhaps that is why you made no attempt to put my argument into your terminology - because it cannot be done. But I think my terminology can encompass your arguments - so it is better for analyzing society. That is, my terminology makes it possible to identify using government, including democratic government, for plunder, explains how institutions can redefine their goals to further their institutional common interests, and so on.
Here is an example:
The whole voluntary/involuntary distinction is not as clear cut as you make it seem. For a simple example, traffic laws are involuntary. I have to follow them, or risk a ticket. If I resist getting the ticket, I can be arrested. If I resist getting arrested, I can be shot, maybe killed. Traffic laws also dramatically expand my freedom to travel safely because they supply a broadly agreed upon framework of common procedural rules for traveling on a highway. This is a positive freedom, I guess, but a pretty valuable one. Sometimes I get nabbed for breaking them, and experience the physical power of the police, at least implicitly. But I do not want to abolish traffic laws nor does any other reasonable person I have met. Even a private authority needs rules of that sort if it manages a turnpike, and it needs police power to enforce them. Let is say 100% of a community supports traffic laws that cause 100% of the members sometimes to be pulled over and fined and perhaps in some cases even put in jail over night. Are they being busted involuntarily? Well, yes and no.
Are local taxes voluntary? I think you would say no. But I can easily leave. How is that different on this ground from my saying my electrical bill is involuntary? I can easily leave as well. However, maybe not as easily, as a matter of fact. You say the taxes can be changed without my express consent. Agreed. So can my electrical bill. Further, I recently moved to Canton, NY, to teach. I did not need to move to Canton, or even to New York. I voluntarily entered these areas knowing in advance that I would have to pay taxes.
Let's reverse it. I buy shares of corporate stock. In doing so I know I am bound by the decisions of a majority of shareholders insofar as I continue to remain a shareholder. If I do not like their decisions, I sell. This is all voluntary. How is it different from my moving to Canton? If I disagree enough with what the community decides, I move to Potsdam, ten miles away. But Canton has more legal protections for minorities who choose to REMAIN than do many corporations, or many who live in private communities for that matter.
I am not saying there are not differences. Not at all. I AM saying the simple voluntary/involuntary dichotomy cannot carry the ideological, ethical, and empirical weight you and similar libertarian views pile on it. It works OK in Locke's hypothetical state of nature, but gets bogged down as soon as we actually discover we live in society. A better more sensitive terminology is needed, which is what I have been trying to develop.
I think at root the ham handedness of libertarian distinctions about voluntary and involuntary is based on their usually abstracting the individual away from the institutions that help to create us. We are always on the outside, using institutions either as helpful tools or experiencing them as impediments or threats. I would argue this is psychologically, historically, and empirically wrong. The best analysis I know of this issue is Peter Berger and Thomas Liuckmann, The Social Construction of Reality. Super good - and with an intellectual connection to the Austrian School, by the way.
AS WE MOVE UP THROUGH POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS, FROM LOCAL AND CITY, TO THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVEL AND, FINALLY, TO AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, THE SPONTANEOUS ACTIVITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL IS IRRELEVANT.
Here I disagree.
Aeon J. Skoble
A.O. Scott (NYT) on Star Wars Episode III:"It's better than Star Wars." I'm sure I'll go see it, fanboy that I am, and maybe it'll even be good, but I cannot imagine it'll be as good as Scott makes it out to be. Of course, the NYT is legendarily obtuse about sci-fi (including space-operas that technically aren't sci-fi).
David T. Beito
Readers will recall that Ralph Luker, K.C. Johnson, and myself faulted the report for ignoring the threat posed by speech codes. Now, Gil Troy, representing a moderate voice, has this to say:
Imagine historians in 2055 researching the state of academic freedom in 2005. They discover that a “Committee on Academic Freedom” identified “five major areas of concern”: government surveillance, government harassing foreigners, government restricting archival access, government “shap[ing] the content of teaching and research” and harassment of teachers by conservatives, notably repressing “antiwar” voices and imposing celebrations of Ronald Reagan. Wouldn’t you suspect this litany was one-sided? Wouldn’t you think that notions of accuracy and integrity aside, good strategy would entail noting at least one example of leftist intolerance to create the pretense of balance?
But the guys at the Weekly Standard knew that already, to judge from this May 2002 tongue-only-partially-in-cheek review of Attack of the Clones, which argues:"the truth is that from the beginning, Lucas confused the good guys with the bad. The deep lesson of Star Wars is that the Empire is good."
But look closer. When Palpatine is still a senator, he says,"The Republic is not what it once was. The Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good." At one point he laments that"the bureaucrats are in charge now."
Palpatine believes that the political order must be manipulated to produce peace and stability. When he mutters,"There is no civility, there is only politics," we see that at heart, he's an esoteric Straussian.
Make no mistake, as emperor, Palpatine is a dictator--but a relatively benign one, like Pinochet. It's a dictatorship people can do business with. They collect taxes and patrol the skies. They try to stop organized crime (in the form of the smuggling rings run by the Hutts). The Empire has virtually no effect on the daily life of the average, law-abiding citizen.
Also, unlike the divine-right Jedi, the Empire is a meritocracy. The Empire runs academies throughout the galaxy (Han Solo begins his career at an Imperial academy), and those who show promise are promoted, often rapidly. In"The Empire Strikes Back" Captain Piett is quickly promoted to admiral when his predecessor"falls down on the job."
But the most compelling evidence that the Empire isn't evil comes in"The Empire Strikes Back" when Darth Vader is battling Luke Skywalker. After an exhausting fight, Vader is poised to finish Luke off, but he stays his hand. He tries to convert Luke to the Dark Side with this simple plea:"There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. . . . Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy." It is here we find the real controlling impulse for the Dark Side and the Empire. The Empire doesn't want slaves or destruction or"evil." It wants order.
The writer even makes the case for the planet-destroying Death Star. Alderaan might have had weapons of mass destruction, after all:
The destruction of Alderaan is often cited as ipso facto proof of the Empire's"evilness" because it seems like mass murder--planeticide, even. As Tarkin prepares to fire the Death Star, Princess Leia implores him to spare the planet, saying,"Alderaan is peaceful. We have no weapons." Her plea is important, if true.
But the audience has no reason to believe that Leia is telling the truth. In Episode IV, every bit of information she gives the Empire is willfully untrue. In the opening, she tells Darth Vader that she is on a diplomatic mission of mercy, when in fact she is on a spy mission, trying to deliver schematics of the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance. When asked where the Alliance is headquartered, she lies again.
Leia's lies are perfectly defensible--she thinks she's serving the greater good--but they make her wholly unreliable on the question of whether or not Alderaan really is peaceful and defenseless. If anything, since Leia is a high-ranking member of the rebellion and the princess of Alderaan, it would be reasonable to suspect that Alderaan is a front for Rebel activity or at least home to many more spies and insurgents like Leia.
Whatever the case, the important thing to recognize is that the Empire is not committing random acts of terror. It is engaged in a fight for the survival of its regime against a violent group of rebels who are committed to its destruction.
Is this satire? I really can't tell. It's pretty deadpan and earnest, and hell, Max Boot sang the praises of the U.S. counterinsurgency in the Philippines, with its 200,000 dead, so who can tell with these people?
Although I follow developments in U.S. constitutional law with some interest, I’m not an attorney and I’m open to persuasion on which side made the better case in terms of (a) a plain reading of the U.S. Constitution (which itself is not without ambiguity) and (b) current U.S. constitutional law—which, of course, are two very different arguments. For the record, my own view of limited constitutional government is that it alone has a very limited ability to constrain government (pun intended) without supportive public opinion, and I see this as a further argument for private property anarchy vis a vis limited constitutional government.
That said, my main purpose in posting about this topic now is to alert readers to how some self-identified libertarians who celebrate the virtues of the U.S. Constitution will almost certainly welcome today’s decision irrespective of the constitutional arguments, and to observe that such a stance seems to me to be an intellectually dishonest position.
Charles W. Nuckolls
Majesta Palmer....worries that her grades are going to suffer in her sociology classes due to the new grading system.Sophomore Chris Szutu agrees.
“It’s kind of scary when I’m already at the bottom of the curve,” she said. “Everyone’s fighting for that A. It breaks down what we know as a college education.”.....
Szutu added that he believes that this system discourages peer help and support.
“Why make students compete against each other?” he said. “Students should want to help each other. The point of education is to learn.”
“What is wrong with everyone getting good grades?” he said.
Let's hope the Sociology Department stands firm in its policy. Grade deflation: I like the sound of it.
Szutu added that he believes that this system discourages peer help and support.
“Why make students compete against each other?” he said. “Students should want to help each other. The point of education is to learn.”
David T. Beito
Aeon J. Skoble
Jonathan J. Bean
At InsideHigherEducation.com Davidson writes "this article gives a badly slanted version of less than half of the story. I find it disturbing that many comments are being made here based on a poor secondary source -including some from professional historians who should know better. I would love to be able to add some substantive detail, but legal restrictions prevent me.
The impulse here is to sound off, but given the poor state of public knowledge on this matter, it is ill-advised.
Dr. Michael R. Davidson
Lecturer in HistorySIU Carbondale"
For someone who does not want to "sound off," Davidson has done an extraordinary amount of it--without saying anything but "you don't have all the facts." The facts which I can state here would include the clear grievance procedures which the TA (who was the unknown accuser at the beginning), the chair, the dean, and the letter signers ALL violated. The dean drew up bogus "hostile environment" charges in dismissing my TAs -- a legal term that means nothing outside of civil rights law and there are procedures to follow there, too. (In her rush to judgment, she was apparently not receiving legal counsel). There is much that I cannot reveal but it would only make the "story" starker than even that which has appeared in the press.
Curious that Davidson has invested so much on the blogosphere concerning my case. We share the same corridor, he and I, along with a number of the letter signers. Since he has never contacted me, I must ask whether his considerable web activity is an expression of his support for the other side's version of events? Why has he not contacted me? How can he criticize journalists for "not getting the facts," when he (so interested in my case) has not done so either?
Elsewhere, he has corrected Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young: My Lord, he is a Republican (or was in Maine), although only a non-tenure track lecturer at SIUC. So, in a half century there has been one "conservative" Republican or Libertarian in a rather large department! Whoa. Be still, my evenhanded heart. Conservatism run amuck at SIU! A true Millian "marketplace of ideas." I rest easy now with a comrade at arms just 30 feet from my door. (I will correct myself if it appears that we are 42 feet apart).
Kenneth R. Gregg
As reported in USA Today, muta'a ("ecstasy" in arabic) is having a renaissance in Iraq at this time. As I understand it, muta'a is a"pleasure marriage" contract lasting anywhere from one hour to 10 years, stipulating that the man will pay the woman in exchange for sexual intimacy. This is grounded in old Shiite customs with roots going back to Mohammed as a way to ensure a respectable means of income for widowed or single (with the permission of her father) women.
This practice had been forced underground since Saddam Hussein came to power and has re-emerged within the Shiite community and making inroads within the Sunni population. This practice does not seem to be acceptable amongst the Kurds. This is a controversial practice (although not in Lebanon) which, from all reports, provides protection for the children of such arrangements, but not for the women involved, although not all women agree on this point.
Aeon J. Skoble
1. Plato, Republic – highly influential in its presentation of justice as objective, reality as separate from perception, why philosophy is worth doing, and what inner harmony means. Widely misinterpreted as a utopian political treatise, the “ideal city” described herein is actually an analogy to the well-balanced psyche, and Plato’s account of how unjust regimes arise in books 8-9 is remarkably astute. No Plato, no philosophy major.
2. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics – virtue ethics beats deontology and utilitarianism hands down. No Aristotle, no grad school. 1177a10-22, dude!
3. Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia – obvious, perhaps, but this would be where I first read convincing rebuttals of both socialism and welfare-liberalism.
4. Tibor Machan, Individuals and Their Rights – very strong case for an individualist ethic and a libertarian political model derived from it.
5. Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl, Liberty and Nature – the argument with which I’m most sympathetic, showing how a neo-Aristotelian ethic can underlie a classical-liberal rights theory. (Their forthcoming book promises to be an even better approach to this theme.)
6. Jonathan Jacobs, Being True to the World – very convincing defense of a naturalist moral realism, and how practical reason can be action guiding.
7. Steve Ditko, Static – I didn’t know whether fiction should be included here, but I really have to include this, because the chain of causality is interesting and relevant. I had never read any Rand, but I read and loved Static. When I discovered that its themes were “objectivist,” that’s when I started to pay attention to Rand’s novels, which I found very rewarding, enjoyable, and thought-provoking (and under-rated). (Static seems to be out of print – that’s a crime.)
8. David Schmidtz, The Limits of Government – why the free-rider problem is much less of a worry than it’s said to be.
9. Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation – one reason not to take Hobbesian arguments seriously.
10. Harold Berman, Law and Revolution – important history of law. What Don said.
11. F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty. Coercion and why it’s bad. Don’s pick, Law, Legislation, and Liberty, is better and I now refer to it much more frequently, but I wouldn’t have found that without having first read this.
12. Edith Hamilton, Mythology – this is surely the root of my interest in ancient Greek thought. Chain of causality again – Hamilton leads to Homer, Aeschylus, Thucydides.
13 (Don made it a bakers’ dozen, so I get to as well). Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars – very important influence on the development of my thinking on this issue.
The anarcho-influences which might seem to be lacking above turn out to be found in the “12 articles” section:
1. Randy Barnett, “Pursuing Justice in a Free Society, parts 1, 2” Criminal Justice Ethics Fall 85, Winter 86
2. Murray Rothbard, “Society Without a State,” Nomos XIX 1978
3. Terry Anderson and P.J. Hill, “An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism,” Journal of Libertarian Studies III 1, 1979
4. John Hasnas, “The Myth of the Rule of Law,” Wisconsin Law Review, 1995
The other articles include:
5. Douglas Rasmussen, “Essentialism, Values, and Rights” (in The Libertarian Reader, Machan ed., 1982)
6. Stephen Holmes, “The Community Trap” TNR Nov 28 1988
7. Hayek, “The Errors of Constructivism” (don’t have the citation handy)
8. Leonard Read, “I, Pencil”
9. Mill, “On Liberty” (if Don can call “I, Pencil” a book, then I can call “On Liberty” an article – Mill calls it an essay!)
10. Douglas Den Uyl, “Freedom and Virtue” (in Machan 1982 supra, via Reason Papers 5, 1979)
11. Herbert Morris, “Persons and Punishment” (Monist, 52:4, 1968)
12. Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen,"Nozick on the Randian Argument," The Personalist 1978 (I found it in Jeff Paul's excellent anthology Reading Nozick.)
13. A. N. Prior’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry “Traditional Logic”
Ok, your turn. Yes, you.
David T. Beito
For much of the twentieth century, the chief means of overthrowing a government were guerilla warfare and military coups. Nonviolent resistance existed—at times it thrived—but it was generally regarded as an odd aberration that rarely worked. But since the '70s, for a variety of reasons, the trend in revolution-making has been a gradual global shift from violent"people's war" to nonviolent people power.
David T. Beito