Liberty & Power: Group Blog
David T. Beito
Even so, some of HAW’s stands on free speech and academic freedom have invited criticism. For example, while it has vigorously opposed David Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights, it has remained silent on the use of speech codes to undermine academic freedom.
For this reason, all friends of free speech can be encouraged by the recent HNN article by Jesse Lemisch. Lemisch is a professor of history emeritus at City University in New York and a leading member of the HAW. In this article, he strongly defends the free speech rights of David Irving and chastizes his fellow historians for failing to follow suit:
As a kind of a First Amendment absolutist, I have long been puzzled as to where I stand on restrictions on expression in Europe after the Holocaust, but I have thought, well, they have a special history, it's understandable. But now, seeing such restrictions take concrete form in imprisonment of a (bad) historian, I feel professionally obliged to oppose this, to see what other historians think about it, and whether they are willing to take a stand.
David T. Beito
As Anthony Gregory discussed here earlier, the philosophy department chair, James South, removed a note from the office door of Stuart Ditsler, a graduate student teaching assistant. The note, which South deemed"patently offensive," stated:
As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.
Ditsler complained to (who else?) the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that Marquette had violated his academic freedom. Ralph Luker has done yeoman work in publicizing the story.
In an email to department members, South elaborated on the basis for his decision:
"I'm afraid that hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones. If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note."
South’s timing was impeccable. Unwittingly, he has given new momentum to the movement for the AHA resolution. To vote, paid-up members (faculty or students) need to show up at the AHA business on Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 4:45 p.m. in the Fulton/Cobb Room at the Atlanta Hilton:
RESOLUTION ON SPEECH CODES AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM
Whereas, The American Historical Association has already gone on record against the threat to academic freedom posed by the Academic Bill of Rights; and
Whereas, Free and open discourse is essential to the success of research and learning on campus; and
Whereas, Administrators and others have used campus speech codes and associated non-academic criteria to improperly restrict faculty choices on curriculum, course content, and personnel decisions; and
Whereas, Administrators and others have also used speech codes to restrict free and open discourse for students and faculty alike through such methods as"free speech zones" and censorship of campus publications; therefore be it
Resolved, The American Historical Association opposes the use of speech codes to restrict academic freedom.
David T. Beito
Modeling the current Iraq is difficult for a few reasons. It is rare for an occupying power to set up a democracy, so historical data are scarce. In any case this is not the world of MacArthur and postwar Japan.
This does not bear clear scrutiny. It is not rare at all for occupying powers to set up democracies. The British, and to a lesser extent the French, did so on multiple occasions when granting independence to their colonies in the decades after World War II. The results were not generally encouraging, however. Most of these new democracies, especially in Africa, soon gave way to kleptocratic and/or ethnic/religious dominated dicatorships.
India is a rare exception but it has a history that differs significantly from Iraq and the African colonies. Like Japan, and unlike Iraq, an overwhelming majority of India's population comes from a single ethnic/religious group and the concept of nationhood dates back for centuries.
David T. Beito
The Troubling Dishonesty of the Republican Party and its Conservative Supporters
During his debate with Al Gore, George W. Bush took credit for a patient's bill of rights law passed in Texas during his governorship. To be sure, in 1995 Texas passed such a law. But Governor Bush vetoed it. In 1997 the Texas legislature passed an even stronger bill by a veto-proof margin. Bush couldn't veto it without its being overridden. So he attacked the bill, saying "I am concerned that this legislation has the potential to drive up health care costs and increase the number of lawsuits" and refused to sign it. The bill automatically became law without his signature.
George Bush was not reading from a prepared speech. He did not rely on research done by others. There was no compelling reason for him to bring the matter up. Further, and this is what is fairly new in American politics, he knew he had opposed the bill, and done all he could to defeat it, yet wanted American voters to believe he had supported it.
He must have been proud of his lie. During his campaign for President, Bush's website claimed "Under Governor Bush, Texas enacted some of the most comprehensive patient protection laws in the nation." And "While Washington was deadlocked, he passed a patients' bill of rights" (Joe Conason, Big Lies, p. 44, NYT 3/20/00, p. A.16.) George Bush committed deliberate fraud on the American people.
It was one of many, from No Child Left behind to Katrina and beyond,. I could use up my time listing them and not be done. I will turn instead to some in foreign affairs, and then explore their implications.
After the US toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, George Bush promised the new rulers they would receive a"Marshall Plan" to rebuild that forlorn country. The original Marshall Plan was devised by President Truman, General George Marshall, and a bipartisan congress to rebuild Western Europe, saving it from communism. It worked..
Bush's 2004 budget allocated Afghanistan zero dollars for rebuilding. An embarrassed congress added $300 million, a pittance given what needed to be done. Bush's promise to Afghanistan was worth less than the time it took him to make it.
We know about Bush's false statements concerning Iraq's supposed attempts to buy yellowcake uranium from Nigeria. But George Bush told many other lies about Iraq as well. For example, Bush told reporters"I would remind you that when the inspectors went into Iraq and were denied, finally denied, access, a report came out of the International Atomic Energy Agency - IAEA - that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need." (Wash. Post., 10/22/2002, p. A01) This report never existed and the inspectors were never denied access.
Bush also referred to an agency report revealing satellite photos exposing new construction at several nuclear related sites. A few weeks later the IAEA said there was no such report on that issue, either.
What it Means
We take too much pride in our cynicism about politicians, thereby falling victim to a politician who lies differently from others. Clinton lied about his sexual life. Most politicians exaggerate the promises they make and their opponent's failings. They also speak vaguely, trying to make everyone happy. These are the kinds of lies and evasions that are typical of democratic politics.
George Bush's lies are different, as are the lies of his principle supporters and co-conspirators. They lie to convince us they are doing the opposite of what they actually intend. This kind of lying is new. Pursued long enough, it makes democracy impossible, because citizens no longer know what policies those seeking their votes will really pursue. A politics of perpetual lies makes it impossible for us to think clearly. Up is down and black is red. As a people, we are unprepared for manipulative cynicism on this scale. It is institutionalized sociopathy.
What is happening is no accident. We make fun of Bush's famous inability to speak English coherently, his lies explained away as simply his inability to make himself clear. But Bush's prepared remarks are written in advance, and often carefully designed to give Americans one impression while never actually saying it. Bush's speech writers have perfected the tactic of deceptive terminology way beyond Bill Clinton's wondering what"is" is.
Regarding Saddam Hussein's supposed relationship with Osama bin Laden, the" New York Times wrote in 2003,"Mr. Bush has never accused Iraq under Saddam Hussein of a direct role in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." Yet somehow the majority of Americans ended up thinking exactly that while listening to him. Why?
On June 28, 2005, Bush gave what was billed as a major foreign policy address regarding the Iraq war. He mentioned 9-11 five times. He told us “The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. This war reached our shores on September 11, 2001. The terrorists who attacked us – and the terrorists we face – murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent.” Later in his address he said “After September 11, I made a commitment to the American people: the nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy. Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war.”
In 2004, the University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes issued a study reporting Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters believed that Saddam Hussein had been providing help to al Qaeda; 55 percent believed that the 9/11 Commission had proved that point. But the commission's report had disproved it and Bush had been forced to deny it. Those conducting the survey observed that respondents held these beliefs because they said the Bush administration and conservative media had confirmed them. See Sidney Blumenthal here.
Many patriotic Americans believe we must trust George Bush because he is our President. They do not want to listen to the man in the Oval Office with the same skepticism they would when listening to a used car salesman or a sociopath. It is these trusting American men and women whom George Bush has most deeply betrayed. But also betraying them are the over-paid bozos, empty suits and bimbos pulling in small fortunes while telling us, as did Sean Hannity's after 9-11:"Thank God, we have an honest man in the White House!"
By encouraging perpetual fear among us, George Bush creates an environment where many believe he is all that stands between us and destruction. By demonizing all who disagree with him as disloyal, his henchmen and women claim the safety of the nation depends on our agreeing with the Liar in Chief. Along the way a democracy becomes a dictatorship. As Bush himself put it: “I’m the commander. See, I don’t need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel, like I owe anybody an explanation.” The Washington Post, 11/19/02
According to the Constitution being “the commander” is not in the President’s job description.
In a viable democracy most citizens have neither time nor interest to stay on top of the news, but enough do so popular values tend to be represented in government policies. The political opposition plays a vital role in keeping those in power at least somewhat honest, and holding their feet to the fires of criticism when they go astray. That is why visibility, access to accurate information, and publicity are so important even though few actually make direct use of it. But when discovering what is happening becomes difficult because leaders lie and use fear and emotion and careful wording to mislead Americans, and attack the motives of their critics rather than addressing their criticisms, the democratic process breaks down.
The Big Lie
And so we come to the politics of the Big Lie, a term made famous first by the Nazis, who accused the English and Jews of it while practicing it themselves. It became a central staple of Soviet rule as well. Its logic in service to the consolidation and ruthless abuse of power was simple, and effective. A report by the American Office of Strategic Services describing Hitler’s psychological profile captures the point well:
“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.” - OSS report page 51
I suspect some will dismiss my remarks, saying “diZerega is saying Bush is like Hitler.” That is not my point though the similarities are interesting. My point is that those seeking irresponsible power in a democracy need to arouse and sustain people in high levels of anxiety, fear and anger. Whether Nazi, fascist, Communist, or Caesarist, all such people are compelled by a common logic to pursue similar methods. Ideology is secondary. It is merely a frill on the logic of power.
George Orwell was one of the Twentieth Century’s most insightful opponents of totalitarian rule. In 1946 Orwell observed:
The organized lying practiced by totalitarian states is . . . something integral to totalitarianism, something that would still continue even if concentration camps and secret police forces had ceased to be necessary.
From the totalitarian point of view history is something to be created rather than learned. A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened.
Consider what David Suskind wrote about his encounter with an unnamed White House aide:"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'" The aide told Mr. Suskind,"That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality." Joe Conason, Big Lies, p. 44, NYT 3/20/00, p. A.16.
Rewriting history is fundamental to the Bush Presidency. After he was landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln off San Diego for his “Mission Accomplished” foto op moment, the White House web site headlined the speech Bush gave as"President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended." Now it says"President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended." A word was deleted. Orwell would undrestand.
And now it is happening again, on a bigger scale. See George Bush in action, rewriting history.
This is not Nazism. It is Caesarism: subverting a republic into an empire organized around the will of a single leader. George Bush is no Hitler. In his tolerance for incompetence, degeneracy, and self-indulgence, George Bush resembles Caligula far more than he represents Hitler.
But liars need followers, and why are so many people willing to follow?
In 1917 a totalitarian movement destroyed the fledgling Russian democracy. Fifteen years later the Weimar Republic was destroyed by the Nazi Party. Unlike Russia, Germany had a long experience with internal democratic politics and significantly, the Nazis never obtained a majority of the vote in a free election. In Germany’s last free election their popularity fell. Nevertheless, they triumphed, and ultimately destroyed their country.
Even so, it may seem unduly alarmist raise the specter of totalitarianism. We are the world’s oldest major democracy. We triumphed over Nazi Germany and Communism. How could we fall victim?
The answer lies with the logic compelling a group with unpopular views seeking power over a free society. Because democracy thrives on robust public debate, and exposing crooked and corrupt leaders, it threatens such people. Their solution is to deliberately destroy reasonable political discussion in our country, turning every issue into a battle of"good" versus"evil" and then claiming the mantle of"good." This strategy is explicit.
Republican strategist Newt Gingrich's campaign committee published a handbook for Republican candidates. One section was titled"Language, a Key Mechanism of Control." Note the term" control." Gingrich recommended Democrats always be described using words such as anti-flag, anti-family, anti-child, bizarre, cheat, coercion, corrupt, decay, destructive, devour, hypocrisy, intolerant, liberal, lie, pathetic, selfish, sick, and traitors. Such people are not to be reasoned with, they are to be crushed.
For Republicans, Gingrich urged continual association with words such as care(ing), children, choice, citizen, commitment, common sense, courage, crusade, dream, family, freedom, liberty, moral, peace, pro- flag, pro-children, and so on. Dichotomize, then seize the good words and repeat them all the time, and people find it difficult to think clearly about what you are saying.
In a guideline written for Republican members of Congress, Frank Lutz, Republican pollster and tactician, wrote that while the party needs more support from women, there was no need to actually do anything for women’s interests. Lutz explained “ Women consistently respond to the phrase 'for the children' regardless of the context. From balancing the budget to welfare reform, 'for the children' scores highest of all arguments offered. Therefore, rather than creating a 'Compassion Agenda,' Republicans need to create a communication framework that involves children ... .“ It is no accident that Bush referred to children 11 times in a speech on tax cuts and in a speech on"faith based initiatives" -- the count was up to 35.
Radical Right sympathizers in the media picked up this vocabulary of deceit and division, continually assaulting those they oppose as moral degenerates, cowards, and traitors. Avoiding addressing competing arguments, they wrap themselves in claims of virtue and patriotism, claims that evaporate in the light of clear thinking. Michael J. Fox’s experience with Rush Limbaugh who accused him of going off his meds or faking his symptoms, not knowing his shaking was because of his meds, is a revolting example of these people’s degeneracy. To the extent Limbaugh is believed, he never has to address the substance of Fox’s argument about medical research. Another example is James Dobson, the supposed Christian who heads Focus on the Family, blaming the pages for the trouble Mark Foley got himself into.
Bit by bit, the Radical Right is destroying the possibilities for political discussion among well meaning citizens. They lie, manipulate, and debase the meanings of words, and viciously attack all who question them."Liberals" are now described by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Tom DeLay and other radicals in terms close to how Nazis described Jews. Other times liberals are equated with communists, even though it was liberals who created NATO laying the foundations for winning the Cold War without a major conflict and the millions of lives it would have cost. You are probably alive today because of a foreign policy based on containment, designed by Democrats and accepted by Republicans for decades. Far more major Democratic leaders in the government have served in the military than is true for the Radical Right. They walk their talk at least some of the time, the Radical Right just talks and talks, and seeks power.
They peddle three drugs to the American people: fear, self-righteousness, and anger. Combine them in a victorious movement and you can kiss American democracy good bye.
In addition, here is the mission statement of"Save Our Constitution":
We are deeply concerned about the assaults on the U.S. Constitution, a document animated by the highest ideals of human freedom. The Constitution has survived a Civil War, two World Wars, and the Cold War. In war and in peace, generations of Americans of all backgrounds have struggled (and in many cases died) to defend it, improve it, and extend its protections to all.
Although September 11, 2001 was a traumatic event, we do not want future historians to say that the events of that day sparked the end of constitutional democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law in this country. In the interest of avoiding such an outcome, we feel a profound call to stand up now and strengthen our defense of democratic principles. To this end we are organizing teach-ins and other events to alert the public to these threats and to facilitate discussion about how to save our Constitution at a time when it is under unprecedented attack.
My talk is not in as polished a form as Gus's is, but I'll try to post a summary or the Word document sometime tomorrow.
I will add that the degree of collaboration of faculty, staff, and students with varying politics in this project has been very nice to see.
From his home site (which gives blanket permission to reprint):
Q: In view of the constant parade of jackassery which is Washington, is there any point in voting for candidates of either entrenched party? Throwing out the incumbents"for a change" is to me an idea based on the philosophy that my head will stop hurting if I bang it on the opposite wall.
A: How you cast your vote in the coming election is important, even if the two parties are both rotten. In essence, the Democrats stand for socialism, or at least some ambling steps in its direction; the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power.
Socialism—a fad of the last few centuries—has had its day; it has been almost universally rejected for decades. Leftists are no longer the passionate collectivists of the 30s, but usually avowed anti-ideologists, who bewail the futility of all systems. Religion, by contrast—the destroyer of man since time immemorial—is not fading; on the contrary, it is now the only philosophic movement rapidly and righteously rising to take over the government.
Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because “both are bad.”
The survival of this country will not be determined by the degree to which the government, simply by inertia, imposes taxes, entitlements, controls, etc., although such impositions will be harmful (and all of them and worse will be embraced or pioneered by conservatives, as Bush has shown). What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy. And in this area the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor.
The most urgent political task now is to topple the Republicans from power, if possible in the House and the Senate. This entails voting consistently Democratic, even if the opponent is a “good” Republican.
In my judgment, anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man’s actual life—which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world.
If you hate the Left so much that you feel more comfortable with the Right, you are unwittingly helping to push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner.
You are cordially invited to browse and join a libertarian BB that I moderate.
For the sake of those vulnerable 16-year-old boys and girls who come to Washington each year, we should abolish the congressional page program immediately. I’m not referring only to the danger posed by the sexual predators in Congress. There’s a more widespread danger that hardly anyone cares about: the congressional page program encourages high schoolers to worship and lust for power. In 20 years only three congressmen have been known to engage in sexual improprieties with pages. But nearly all congressmen teach pages that raw government power is a good thing. In a society that thinks of itself as free, this is intolerable.The rest this week's op-ed is at The Future of Foundation website.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
Last week, with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, I underscored the historical-philosophical link between freedom of commerce and peace in classical liberalism. (The article is here.) What I did not know at the time, and what I have since learned thanks to Auburn University philosopher Roderick T. Long, is that one of the first winners of the Nobel Peace Prize was a man who consciously placed himself in the liberal tradition of Frédéric Bastiat and Richard Cobden.Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.
He was Frédéric Passy of Paris (1822-1912). The first year the Peace Prize was awarded, Passy shared the honor with Henry Dunant, founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross and originator of the Geneva Convention (which gives him a special relevance today). Passy must have been highly esteemed indeed for the Nobel committee to have awarded him and Dunant the Prize.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
David T. Beito
They exuberantly urged on and applauded the invasion. After that, they dependably celebrated each"milestone" on the ever forward march to liberty and democracy and chronicled (repeatedly) the"last throes" of the insurgents.
Now, the warbloggers seem in disarray and dispirited. The word"Iraq" has not appeared in Matt Welch's officially designated"warblog" for several weeks. While links to to pro-war news stories still appear on Instapundit, the old cockiness rarely shows itself. Of late, Reynolds' main preoccupation is to justify his votes for politicians in Tennessee, down apparently to the level of sewer commissioner.
Little Green Footballs, once considered a leading warblog, has also moved on. Posts on Iraq, even of the"good news" sort, are few and far between these days. Instead, readers get a numbing update of every real or imagined"islamofascist" inroad in Paris or Minneapolis. LGF has said next to nothing, however, on the latest islamofascist inroads in the Iraqi or Afghan governments.
As the warblogs have lost their nerve, the antiwarblogs (to coin an ugly word) have gained credibility. They consistently opposed the Iraq War and have pushed ever since for rapid withdrawal. Several members of Liberty and Power have their own antiwarblogs including Radley Balko, Chris Sciabarra, Sheldon Richman, Wendy McElroy, Gus DiZerega, Roderick Long, and Gene Healy.
Other libertarian or libertarian-oriented antiwarbloggers worth mentioning include Jesse Walker, Arthur Silber, Jim Henley, Alina Stefanescu, Justin Logan, Karen DeCoster, and, of course, the members of Stress, LRC Blog, Antiwar.com, and Liberating Our Heritage. Have I missed anyone?
ADDENDUM: Matt Welch was not a good illustrative example. Jesse Walker and Matt Barganier point out in the comments that he (apparently) never endorsed the war, but took an "agnostic" position.
You can read extracts here. If you're interested in the high politics of twentieth-century Britain or even just peeking behind the curtain that conceals the machinations of the British establishment, you'll surely enjoy his damning assessment of Edward VIII as prince, king, and exile."I can't help thinking that the best thing that could happen to him, and to the country, would be for him to break his neck.""God forgive me," said Stanley Baldwin, the prime minister."I have often thought the same." The year was 1927, nine years before Baldwin, once again prime minister, presided over the constitutional crisis that led to Edward abdicating the throne to marry the twice-divorced Mrs. Wallis Simpson.
Trevor Paglen and A. C. Thompson's Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights covers the same subject and was published last month by Melville House.
"[Iraq] has been turned by two of the most powerful and civilised nations on Earth into the most hellish place on Earth. Armies claiming to bring democracy and prosperity have brought bloodshed and a misery worse than under the most ruthless modern dictator. This must be the stupidest paradox in modern history. Neither America nor Britain has the guts to rule Iraq properly, yet they lack the guts to leave.
"Blair speaks of staying until the job is finished. What job? The only job he can mean is his own."
The Daily Telegraph describes Harris as"perhaps the most successful polemicist of the second half of the 20th century, retrieving and advancing free-market ideas which were initially deeply out of favour and providing the intellectual basis for Margaret Thatcher's reforms of the 1980s." The Telegraph also carries a nice appreciation of Harris which concludes thus:"[A]t the heart of Harris's creed was the idea that the state was an evil to be kept at bay, and that nothing should take precedence over the freedom of the individual to be left alone within the law. His contribution to public discourse, economic thought and the idea of liberty was immense. His was, in its way, a heroic life."
The Times also provides a detailed account of his character, his work at the IEA, and his relationship with politicians, including Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher."As far as the IEA was concerned, he was opposed to orthodox political involvement. Think-tanks should aim to change opinion, but remain uncontaminated by baser activity. He argued the point with inimitable style: 'Keep clear of politics. Politics is bad for you. It leads to compromise and deals and confusion and vote-getting and lying and cheating and all these, in the end.'"
In a less than sympathetic obituary, Andrew Roth describes him as"the high priest of the libertarian right". Roth's account of his life is still worth reading for stories that are not mentioned in the other obituaries."He had his greatest dilemma in April 1998, when Lord Denham called for public funds to save the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. 'Should an honest market man,' Harris said in the Lords, 'get mixed up in what looks suspiciously like an appeal for subsidies, even for so good a cause? To me, public money has always been tainted money.' But as a D'Oyly Carte enthusiast, he was torn. So he turned to the Arts Council, urging it to favour Gilbert and Sullivan as a good investment." Note to American readers: the Arts Council is funded by taxation.
Over at the Adam Smith Institute blog Eamonn Butler acknowledges that"those of us who created the Adam Smith Institute were among those who benefited from his early support and encouragement."
I shall conclude on a personal note. I first met Ralph Harris when I was a college student and I was immediately captivated by his charismatic evangelism on behalf of the free market. Subsequently I met him a number of times. He was an eloquent advocate of individual liberty and the free market. But above all I remember him as a generous, kind, and thoughtful person.
The Nobel Peace Prize this year went to a different sort of activist. Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economics professor, and his Grameen Bank won the prize for pioneering the concept of microcredit, small loans made to poor producers who because they lack collateral can't get conventional bank loans."Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty," the Nobel committee said."Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights."
. . . From the beginning (classical) liberalism regarded freedom of commerce and peace as, in Richard Cobden's words,"one and the same cause." As Joseph Schumpeter noted,"Wherever capitalism penetrated, peace parties of such strength arose that virtually every war meant a political struggle on the domestic scene." Leading French and British liberals played important roles in the world Peace Congresses held in the mid-nineteenth century, and American liberals rose up in protest when the United States went to war with Spain in 1898 and then held the Philippine Islands as a colony.
But, sadly, peace and commerce have gotten separated in the public's mind over the years, perhaps because opponents of the market and free trade have been the most visible critics of war.
Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Foundation website.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
Aeon J. Skoble
The problem is, this past Tuesday’s SVU episode was flagrantly plagiarized from an Ed McBain “87th Precinct” novel from 1984 (iirc) called Lightning. It was unmistakable: A serial rapist comes back to rape his victims a second or even third time because he's specifically trying to impregnate them - he's spying on them and using calendars to note menstrual cycles etc. The only difference between the two is the reason why he wants to impregnate them, and that it’s the NYPD SVU rather than the 87th precinct of the Isola PD that works the case. Intentional plagiarism? Unconscious? Coincidence? If anyone knows what’s going on, or how I might bring this to the attention of the producers, let me know. If any of you thinks I watch too much TV, let me know that also.
Roderick T. Long