Current Events – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com Free Markets and Social Justice Wed, 21 Feb 2018 18:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.3 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-site-icon-BHL-32x32.png Current Events – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com 32 32 22756168 UnKoch My Campus Update: A Concerned Faculty Member at Brown Clarifies Their Letter http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/unkoch-campus-update-concerned-faculty-member-brown-clarifies-letter/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/unkoch-campus-update-concerned-faculty-member-brown-clarifies-letter/#comments Thu, 25 Jan 2018 01:13:05 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12140 Blogger’s Note: This evening I received this following letter from a faculty member at Brown, who desires to remain anonymous to hide the fact that they are fictitious. In accordance...

The post UnKoch My Campus Update: A Concerned Faculty Member at Brown Clarifies Their Letter appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Blogger’s Note: This evening I received this following letter from a faculty member at Brown, who desires to remain anonymous to hide the fact that they are fictitious. In accordance with their wishes, I reproduce it in full here:

I recently wrote a letter to the wonderful organization UnKoch My Campus in which I criticized the funding of higher education by the billionaire industrialists and international men of mystery Charles and David Koch. As many are now waking to realize these peddlers of free trade and voluntary transactions are secretly infiltrating American higher education through shadowy front organizations named after themselves.  As a faculty member at Brown I am particularly outraged by their funding of the Political Theory Project at MY university, the place where I drink my Fair Trade coffee and Think Deep Thoughts.

In response to my outrage several Koch operatives/minions/lackeys have dared to criticize my view, thereby demonstrating that they do not understand it. To help them see the light I have deigned to clarify some of my points:

  1. I BELIEVE THAT BROWN FRESHMAN ARE REALLY F*CKING STUPID. I noted that John Tomasi–the “libertarian” professor associated with this “project”–said of his freshman students that “after a whole semester of Hayek, it’s hard to shake them off that perspective over the next four years”. This statement proves just how insidious the Koch approach is. Brown’s Freshmen are just like impressionable new-hatched ducklings, latching on to whichever idea they encounter in college first, unable ever to critically assess it and discard it. That’s why it’s crucial that they be exposed ONLY to the Right (i.e., Left) Ideas, so it will be these that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. If we’re not careful here we’re setting ourselves up for a repeat of the unfortunate events of 2012, when Swift’s *Modest Proposal* was required reading for the entering class.
  2. NANCY MACLEAN IS ALWAYS RIGHT. Some people have objected to my repeating Nancy Maclean’s claim that libertarian ideas owe much to the “bitter resistance of wealthy white southerners to Federal government ‘interference’ in slavery and segregation”. They have noted (in true neoliberal fashion!) that many of her foundational claims are “dubious,” “made up,” and “wrong“. In response to the Koch operatives and shills that draw on such outdated and neoliberal methods as “checking the sources” and “reading the original texts” to press these charges I will point out that these claims do not fit with my preferred narrative, and are therefore false.
  3. I AM NOT AN INTELLECTUAL COWARD! Some people might criticize me for publishing my attack anonymously. But there is a long and distinguished tradition in American political life of publishing arguments anonymously so that their readers can focus on their content, and not be distracted by their source. I thus feel fully justified in anonymously publishing my argument that we should only look at the source of the funding of the Political Theory Project, and refuse to engage with the content of the arguments it presents.

Yours un-collegially,

An Anonymous Faculty Member at Brown

 

 

 

 

The post UnKoch My Campus Update: A Concerned Faculty Member at Brown Clarifies Their Letter appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2018/01/unkoch-campus-update-concerned-faculty-member-brown-clarifies-letter/feed/ 44 12140
A Seasonal Nod to Identity Politics http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/12/seasonal-nod-identity-politics/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/12/seasonal-nod-identity-politics/#comments Wed, 20 Dec 2017 01:45:58 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12107 Something different from what I have been working on (more on that soon enough)…. Maybe December is the month for identity politics talk.  Last year, it was it was Jacob...

The post A Seasonal Nod to Identity Politics appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Something different from what I have been working on (more on that soon enough)….

Maybe December is the month for identity politics talk.  Last year, it was it was Jacob (see here).  This year,  Akiva Malamet (see here).  I don’t think there is anything necessary or inherently laudable about identity politics, but I suspect Jacob is right that it can help enliven the quest for justice.  I suppose this is because of what Akiva discusses as “the thickly embedded nature of social interaction within communities, such that social cooperation is in part determined by the role that people play for who they are.”  Perhaps in contrast to Akiva, though, I am uncomfortable with the idea that “to pay respect to a person’s selfhood means to treat them with regard to the variety of components that make up who they are.”  At the end of the day, this depends on what is meant by claiming that those components “make up” who we are.  In my view, this cannot correctly be taken to be anything other than a matter of the contingent state of affairs of our lives.  I’ll try to briefly make this clear.

As a fortunate happenstance, I went to a universalist (not Unitarian) church service this past weekend to see a friend’s son in a performance.  I then found myself enjoying the minister’s talk, which emphasized—as part of the church’s inclusionist theology—a clear statement that we were each spirit, not black or white, not gay person or straight, not Christian, Jew or Muslim, and not republican or democrat.  Those are all contingent factors about the way we live our lives, but under (or beyond) those descriptive factors, we are each spirit.  I would prefer to use the word “agent,” but the point is the same.  It is a form of universalism I think all liberals (in the broad sense, so including contemporary libertarianism) should accept.  It’s also why I am ambivalent (at best) about so-called identity politics.  It involves taking those contingent factors and treating them as essential to our selfhood when they are not.

My first academic work (my dissertation and a series of papers that came from it; see, e.g., this and this) was an attempt to defend liberal individualism—basically, the view that each of us is essentially an individual agent, not a mere member of a community and that, as such, it is the individual that is of primary normative import.  Any moral weight given to communities on my view (then and now) is derivative of the moral import of the individuals within the community.  If a community does not help the individuals in its midst lead good lives, there is no reason to want it to continue.  The view I argued against was a form of communitarianism most forcefully defended by Alastair McIntyre, Charles Taylor, and Michael Sandel.  While they were not clear about their own positive view—the work I looked at was focused on arguing against liberal individualism—the core of it, I think, came down to the view that we are each essentially who we are because of our communities and so it is the community, not the individual, that is primary.  (Metaphysically as well as normatively.)

My main problem with identity politics should now be clear. Those favoring identity politics don’t talk about identity as something individuals choose, but as something individuals are born with. Individuals are born into groups, whether they be ethnic, racial, religious, or other.  Whichever group they are in, then, is meant to be their identity.  The group, that is, is primary.  There is no concern with whether or not people can choose to reject the group and the identity it (supposedly) imposes.  Instead, there is an implicit assumption that our group makes us what we essentially are—and that what it makes us into is what we must be.

I don’t know if any serious political philosophers accept that view now.  I hope not.  But that sort of communitarian view has a way of coming back every now and then—and must be repeatedly refuted.  And so, perhaps, must identity politics.  We ought to remind people that they can choose their own identity.  While the identities that we create for ourselves usually include elements from our group affiliations, many of us can and do choose away from those.  Some people choose against their religions, nationalities, etc.  (Rachel Dolezal might have been an extreme example.)  We each choose who we will be.  We ought not accept that we are who we are merely by virtue of the group we belong to.  (Communitarians never really come to grips with the fact that we usually belong to multiple, sometimes competing, groups.)  We ought also tolerate people’s choices in this regard and others—subject to the same limited restrictions to toleration we ought accept more generally.

To be fair, identity politics may just be an empirical-phenomenological view about how people seem to be, to themselves or others.  So, Joe is a black homosexual and identifies more as the latter than the former and votes accordingly.  But here’s the thing: if the metaphysical view is false—if people can choose away from the groups they are born to—its not clear why the phenomenological view matters.  I don’t mean to deny that identity politics—how individuals identify themselves or are identified by others—matters in politics.  That is a simple empirical claim.  But if our identities are only contingently made by our group membership, we can work to limit the extent to which this matters politically.  We can, that is, work to encourage a culture wherein all people see themselves as agents (or spirits) first and members of groups second.  If successful, people may become more able and willing to make political choices based on the recognition that we are each individuals first and group members second.  Group membership would then be less important.  Identity politics could fade away.  (And with it, concerns about cultural appropriation, but that’s a tale for another day.)  Then again, I’ve always had something of a utopian streak.

The post A Seasonal Nod to Identity Politics appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/12/seasonal-nod-identity-politics/feed/ 74 12107
Pining for Murderous Dictators is not the Path to Liberty http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/pining-murderous-dictators-not-path-liberty/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/pining-murderous-dictators-not-path-liberty/#comments Sun, 26 Nov 2017 20:02:33 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12075 You’d think the statement in my title should be obvious, but if you were wondering why it’s been so easy for so many supposed libertarians to flip over to the...

The post Pining for Murderous Dictators is not the Path to Liberty appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
You’d think the statement in my title should be obvious, but if you were wondering why it’s been so easy for so many supposed libertarians to flip over to the alt-right, you might consider the recent Facebook post of Lawrence Reed, the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, the oldest of the free-market think tanks. Larry, who I’ve known for decades and have always respected, tagged a story on business closures in Venezuela with the following: “Venezuela desperately needs a Hayek right now. Short of that, how about a Pinochet?”

As I said on Facebook, I don’t even know what to say about this given my long association with FEE and respect for the work they and Larry have done. I deeply want to believe that it’s a really bad attempt at humor, yet nowhere in that original Facebook thread does Larry give any indication that he was making a horrible joke. Given the pushback he’s getting there, it would have been very easy for him to try to back out with that excuse, but it’s not there. Not only that, he explicitly argues for “helicopter dropping” Maduro.  Sure doesn’t sound like someone who is joking.

Even as really misguided humor, Larry’s remark fails in several important ways that are worth noting explicitly:

1. The liberal tradition in which FEE sits has always rejected dictatorships and authoritarians. In fact, as co-blogger Jacob noted on Facebook, this is an excellent example of the broken relationship that modern libertarianism has with democracy.  A more sophisticated and serious understanding of democracy, even seeing it as a necessary marriage of convenience, but a marriage nonetheless, would help libertarians avoid saying things like this.

2. In one post, Larry has undermined years of hard work by libertarian academics to come to a more nuanced understanding of the whole Hayek-Pinochet relationship and why it’s been very much overblown by the left. The juxtaposition of Hayek and Pinochet opens up that whole can of worms and gives more ammunition to those who think “See? Libertarians really are fascists in disguise.” To say that’s not helpful is the understatement of the year.

3. Some of the harshest pushback has come, not surprisingly, from the Latin American freedom movement. Those folks have worked very hard to advance real liberty and democracy, and they have taken pains to try to distance their views from charges of being American imperialists or lackeys for the Latin American right wing. Larry’s post undermined that work in ways that they should be rightly enraged about.

4. Much has been written about the supposed libertarianism to alt-right pipeline and how easy it appears for people to pass through the former on their way to the latter, and in some cases not quite leaving their libertarianism behind. (See for example this NY Times piece.) Larry’s post is an example of how this sort of thing can happen. What else can one say when the president of a major libertarian think tank suggests that dictatorship is the solution to the problems created by socialism? Does he not think that young people, who are now FEE’s explicit target audience, are paying attention?

5. I shouldn’t be all that surprised by this development given the tone of a recent fundraising letter I got from FEE. In explaining how America was going down the tubes, and why FEE was important in saving it from that fate, the groups bearing the plurality of the blame for our problems were left-wing college professors and their snowflake students. The only reference to Trump was a throwaway line about how “Trump has not been a perfect president, but…” That the Foundation for Economic Education could not take the time to mention Trump’s economic nationalism, his crony capitalism, and his trashing of the Constitution as relevant factors in the the problems we face and how those should be issues on which classical liberals speak out loudly and forcefully says everything one needs to know about the apparent direction and priorities of FEE.  It’s clear who and what they are trying to appeal to, and it’s not the liberalism of Mises and Hayek, not to mention Leonard Read and Henry Hazlitt. The libertarian movement cannot be premised on hating the left more than we care about preserving the institutions of a free society, no matter who is violating them.

6. Finally, given FEE’s recent emphasis on morality and character under Larry’s leadership, this apparent (even if done as a really bad joke) defense of Pinochet becomes the libertarian version of Roy Moore and Al Franken. It’s apparently okay to overlook all the disappearances, murders, and violations of human rights if you think the guy somehow preserved the “free market.” Even if that were true (and it’s not), maybe one day the libertarian movement will mature enough to realize that “liberty” is not totally subsumed under “property rights,” and that other forms of human rights and freedoms matter just as much. It’s precisely the focus on private property rights as the be all and end all  (says the economist) that is one big factor behind the libertarianism to alt-right pipeline. It’s why the subject of the NY Times profile linked above is still talking about Rothbard and Hoppe and anarcho-capitalism even as he’s gone full Nazi.

This is one of the hardest BHL posts I’ve ever written because of my long-standing relationship with and respect for FEE and Larry. However, too many things in recent months have added up in a way that concerns me deeply about the organization and its commitment to the classical liberal ideas of its founders and that attracted me to it as a young scholar. Again, like Moore and Franken, we cannot, as libertarians, let “our own” off the hook when they do things like this because we think there’s something to be saved in the bigger picture. Larry’s post was a horrible mistake with deeply illiberal consequences, even if he didn’t intend them. I hope he and the rest of the leadership at FEE can see the mistake that’s been made here and respond in ways that restore the confidence in the organization that this has cost them, as one glance at social media will indicate.

FEE was too important in keeping the flame of liberty alive in the intellectual dark hours of the 1940s and 50s to see that flame extinguished when the darkness has returned not as an intellectual threat but as an existential political one.

[Addendum: Larry has issued the following apology.

MY APOLOGIES: Yesterday I posted a piece on Venezuela on my page here with an introductory statement that some have taken as endorsing certain things, or everything, that Augusto Pinochet ever did. I can see by my quick and careless wording how that impression may have been conveyed. It certainly was not my intent, though I freely admit fault in not making it clearly so. Some have also been offended that I referenced Hayek in the same post because, as I would readily and eagerly argue myself, Hayek would never have approved of Pinochet. I did not intend to imply that he would have, and I apologize for not realizing that one could get that impression. I think the answer to Venezuela’s problems is to embrace Hayek, not to embrace another strong-man dictatorship. In the way of explanation, whether you accept it or not, my thinking at the time was of some of Pinochet’s economic policies that proved to be far superior to what Venezuela is experiencing today. But the best way to get to good policies is never to take a chance on a dictatorship; it is, rather, to embrace good ideas, which is what I’ve always believed. So, sorry for the poorly worded post and thanks if you pointed out in good faith that I made a mistake.]

The post Pining for Murderous Dictators is not the Path to Liberty appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/11/pining-murderous-dictators-not-path-liberty/feed/ 84 12075
A Modest Proposal: Make Academics Who Call for Papers to be Retracted Do Their Jobs! http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/modest-proposal-make-academics-call-papers-retracted-jobs/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/modest-proposal-make-academics-call-papers-retracted-jobs/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 20:54:28 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12058 In the light of both the Gilley case (“The case for colonialism”) and the Tuvel case (“In Defense of Transracialism”) I’ve been thinking a lot about what an appropriate response...

The post A Modest Proposal: Make Academics Who Call for Papers to be Retracted Do Their Jobs! appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
In the light of both the Gilley case (“The case for colonialism”) and the Tuvel case (“In Defense of Transracialism”) I’ve been thinking a lot about what an appropriate response would be to the originators (and signers) of the petitions that called for the retraction of their papers on the grounds that they were defending views that were “offensive”.
If you organize a mob to demand someone else’s work be silenced then you have horribly misunderstood your role as an academic–or else you just don’t care about it. (I think you’ve also misunderstood your moral obligations as a rational person, but I’m willing to accept that “activists” might have different duties in these cases than academics.) As I noted earlier rather than attempting to silence persons you disagree with you should attempt to rebut their views. If you claim that you shouldn’t do this as this would “dignify” the view you disagree with then you have simply abdicated your role as an academic. In any case, refusing to engage with views you disagree with and demanding their retraction is a clear example of professional misconduct.
So, what to do about “academics” who try to silence those they disagree with? I have a suggestion–which despite the Swiftian title of this post is absolutely serious.

Institutions should require that faculty who originate such petitions (and, perhaps, even those who sign them) to publish a peer-reviewed article rebutting the views they disagree with to be eligible for any future additional research support from their home institution. (I’d also suggest that the rebuttal should appear in a journal ranked the same or higher than that in which the “offensive” article appeared, and be at least as long as it was, so that “Response Notes” in low-ranked journals don’t count. The rebuttal should also be published in a journal in the same field as the article that is being criticized, not in a journal in the field of the faculty member doing the criticizing, if this is different. Thus, if an English professor criticizes the work on an economist, published in an economics journal, then the rebuttal must also be published in an economics journal.) This requirement would have several advantages:

First, it would clearly indicate that the institution that imposed this requirement on its “activist” faculty took the free exchange of ideas very seriously.

Second, it would require that the critical faculty member demonstrate that his concerns are legitimate–and that they are recognized as such by the academic peers of the original author.

Third, it would impose some costs on those who demand retractions. The required article would be more time-consuming to write than a petition and would take time to pass through peer-review before acceptance. During this time the faculty member would receive no additional research support–no course release, no conference funding, no technology grants, no research assistants, no sabbaticals.

Fourth, this suggestion would not involve taking anything away from those guilty of misconduct. It would simply withhold (or, in some cases, withdraw) benefits. And the benefits withheld would be those designed to aid in the free exchange of ideas–an enterprise that the faculty member guilty of such misconduct has shown his- or herself unwilling to engage in. This response would this be a fitting one for misconduct of this nature.

Finally, the faculty members thus castigated could not claim that they are being “censored” or “shut down”. They are not. In fact, this approach is the very opposite of silencing–it’s requiring them to express their views in a manner coherent enough to warrant publication.

 

 

The post A Modest Proposal: Make Academics Who Call for Papers to be Retracted Do Their Jobs! appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/modest-proposal-make-academics-call-papers-retracted-jobs/feed/ 28 12058
Discussion of Bruce Gilley’s “The case for colonialism” over at Cato Unbound. http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/discussion-bruce-gilleys-case-colonialism-cato-unbound/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/discussion-bruce-gilleys-case-colonialism-cato-unbound/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:20:43 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12056 My essay “Foreign Rule and Colonial Fictions” is now up at Cato Unbound‘s new issue “Perspectives on Colonialism”. This was written as a response to the absolutely excellent lead paper by...

The post Discussion of Bruce Gilley’s “The case for colonialism” over at Cato Unbound. appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
My essay “Foreign Rule and Colonial Fictions” is now up at Cato Unbound‘s new issue “Perspectives on Colonialism”. This was written as a response to the absolutely excellent lead paper by Sahar Khan, “Why Libertarians Shouldn’t Accept the Case for Colonialism”. I also highly recommend Berny Sebe’s response essay, “The Case Against Historical Anachronism”.

Enjoy the discussion!

The post Discussion of Bruce Gilley’s “The case for colonialism” over at Cato Unbound. appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/discussion-bruce-gilleys-case-colonialism-cato-unbound/feed/ 2 12056
What Kneeling Athletes Reveal about Political Psychology http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/kneeling-athletes-reveal-political-psychology/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/kneeling-athletes-reveal-political-psychology/#comments Tue, 26 Sep 2017 18:37:43 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12045 Today at the Princeton University Press blog, I have a post on the current controversy and what it tells us about how people “think” about politics.   Some excerpts:  ...

The post What Kneeling Athletes Reveal about Political Psychology appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Today at the Princeton University Press blog, I have a post on the current controversy and what it tells us about how people “think” about politics.

 

Some excerpts:

 

Both sides accuse the other side of hypocrisy and bad faith. And both sides are mostly right. Hypocrisy and bad faith are the self-driving cars of politics. They get us where we want, without our having to drive.

 

…Instead, as economist Robin Hanson likes to say, politics is not about policy. The hidden, unconscious reason we form political beliefs is to help us form coalitions with other people. Most of us choose our particular political affiliations because people like us vote that way. We then join together with other supposedly like-minded people, creating an us versus a them. We are good and noble and can be trusted. They are stupid and evil and at fault for everything. We loudly denounce the other side in order to prove, in public, that we are especially good and pure, and so our fellow coalition members should reward us with praise and high status.

 

 

….Now back to football players kneeling. My friends on the Right refuse to take the players at their word. The players say they’re protesting police brutality and other ways the U.S. mistreats its black populace. My friends on the Right scoff and say, no, really they just hate America and hate the troops. This reaction is wrong, but not surprising. Imputing evil motives to the other side is essential to politics. The Left does it all the time too. If, for example, some economists on the Right says they favor school vouchers as a means of improving school quality, the Left will just accuse them of hating the poor.

It’s worth noting that since 2009, the Pentagon has paid the NFL over $6 million to stage patriotic displays before games to help drive recruiting.[i] The pre-game flag shows are literally propaganda in the narrowest sense of the word. Personally, I think participating in government-funded propaganda exercises is profoundly anti-American, while taking a knee and refusing to dance on command shows real respect for what the country supposedly stands for.

Read the whole thing here.

The post What Kneeling Athletes Reveal about Political Psychology appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/kneeling-athletes-reveal-political-psychology/feed/ 36 12045
The Case for Colonialism: Don’t retract, rebut…. and censure those who seek to silence. http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/case-colonialism-dont-retract-rebut-censure-seek-silence/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/case-colonialism-dont-retract-rebut-censure-seek-silence/#comments Sun, 24 Sep 2017 16:41:13 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12042 In a recent paper entitled “The case for colonialism” Bruce Gilley argued that “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the...

The post The Case for Colonialism: Don’t retract, rebut…. and censure those who seek to silence. appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
In a recent paper entitled “The case for colonialism” Bruce Gilley argued that “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found”. Gilley then argued that colonialism should be “recovered” “by reclaiming colonial modes of governance, by recolonizing some areas, and by creating new Western colonies from scratch”. These are highly controversial claims. But it is unlikely that Gilley anticipated the antipathy with which they would be received. Two petitions were initiated—gathering over 15,000 signatures between them—demanding that the journal in which the paper was published (Third World Quarterly) retract it.These petitions were followed by the resignation of several of the members of the journal’s editorial board in protest at the article’s publication.

But the calls for the retraction of this article are inappropriate responses to Gilley’s controversial claims. Gilley’s article does not meet either of the conditions that the publishers of Third World Quarterly (Taylor & Francis) have outlined for the retraction of articles. It should not be retracted for “unsound results” because its conclusions are not “seriously undermined as a result of miscalculation or error”. And it should not be retracted for “misconduct” for Gilley has made no “infringement of publishing ethics” nor has there been any claim that he has breached any “author warranties”.

The claim that this article should not be retracted is not new. But in response to the antipathy that he has been faced Gilley has requested that the article be withdrawn–not because he now believes that his arguments are mistaken, but because it has cased “pain” and generated “anger”. But Third World Quarterly should not accede to this request–the article should remain available. That an article upsets people is no grounds for its withdrawal. Moreover, if the journal did allow the article to be withdrawn it would violate the policy of the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers Guideline for “Preservation of the Objective Record of Science” (to which the journal’s publisher subscribes) that “Articles that have been published should remain extant, exact, and unaltered to the maximum extent possible”.

It might be argued that Gilley’s paper should be retracted because his arguments do not support his conclusion, and so these are undermined “as a result of… [argumentative] error”. But to argue in this way would require that one first demonstrate where Gilley is mistaken–one would have to engage with his work, not simply call for its retraction. And even if one could show that his arguments were flawed this should not be used to support a call for retraction, for this would justify the retraction of any paper whose conclusions have been arrived at through erroneous argumentation. And this is not how academic debates are conducted—and nor should it be. Instead, persons present their conclusions supported by the best arguments and evidence that they can muster. These are then subject to critical scrutiny with the aim of identifying and correcting errors in the arguments. If the arguments are found not to support the conclusion then the original paper should be rebutted—not retracted.

But there’s more to be said in this case. The petitions demanding the retraction of this article secured over 15,000 signatures. I very much doubt that everyone who signed these petitions actually read the paper. Demanding that a paper be retracted because you don’t like its arguments is bad enough. Demanding that it be retracted because you don’t like what you think its conclusion is without having even read it is despicable. Moreover, if you’re an academic, a demand for retraction on either of these grounds would be a clear abdication of your professional responsibility. It is thus not Gilley who should be censured. It is the academics (such as Jenny Heijun Wills, Rebecca Salazar, and Carrianne Leung) who initiated and signed these deplorable petitions.

As a brief aside: If you object to the mocking of work in English, Gender Studies, and Geography that’s based not on reading the papers but simply on their titles and abstracts (e.g., those offered up for ridicule by places such as Real Peer Review) then you should be even more concerned with the demand that a paper be retracted on the basis of a similarly cursory examination.

.

The post The Case for Colonialism: Don’t retract, rebut…. and censure those who seek to silence. appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/case-colonialism-dont-retract-rebut-censure-seek-silence/feed/ 53 12042
Horwitz review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/horwitz-review-nancy-macleans-democracy-chains/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/horwitz-review-nancy-macleans-democracy-chains/#comments Wed, 13 Sep 2017 21:11:11 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12029 The published version of my review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains is now available at the Cato Journal. The main argument: “In the rest of this essay, I will briefly...

The post Horwitz review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
The published version of my review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains is now available at the Cato Journal. The main argument:

“In the rest of this essay, I will briefly review her errors of fact and interpretation but will then shift my focus to what I think is the most fundamental problem with the book: MacLean’s inability to understand the ideas with which she is grappling. She starts by assuming, rather than demonstrating with evidence, that libertarian ideas are all about defending power and privilege. In combination with her inability to understand the contexts and questions that Buchanan and public choice theory were grappling with, her book became a massive exercise in confirmation bias resulting in misread and misinterpreted sources and factual claims unsupported by those sources. She had her story about libertarianism and, absent the intellectual tools to understand what she was reading, she interpreted her sources in ways that confirmed all of those prejudices. The result is a book that gets almost everything wrong, from the most basic of facts to the highest of theory.”

The post Horwitz review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/horwitz-review-nancy-macleans-democracy-chains/feed/ 10 12029
Two Short Points in Defense of Price Gouging http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/two-short-points-defense-price-gouging/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/two-short-points-defense-price-gouging/#comments Tue, 12 Sep 2017 23:27:06 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12023 Over at the New York Times, Andrew Sorkin has a rather incredulous piece on hurricane price gouging. The piece mentions some of my work on the topic, as well as...

The post Two Short Points in Defense of Price Gouging appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Over at the New York Times, Andrew Sorkin has a rather incredulous piece on hurricane price gouging. The piece mentions some of my work on the topic, as well as pieces by Michael Giberson and Tyler Cowen. It’s a fair and accurate summary of our views, but the overarching tone of the piece is basically “look at the crazy stuff these economists believe!”

I understand the negative reaction that most people have to price gouging, and to the academics who defend it. The suffering caused by disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is immense. And sometimes those of us who write about price gouging can seem insensitive to that.

Still, as unpopular and unattractive as it may be, I think the pro-gouging position is the correct one. My reasons for that conclusion are developed in some detail in my paper on the topic. But if that’s a bit too TLDR for you, here are two points that I think are essential to bear in mind for any intelligent discussion of this topic. (If these are still too long, I have a short video on the topic too.)

  • Price Gouging Doesn’t Cause Scarcity; Disasters Do. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, there often aren’t enough vital resources to go around. Disasters destroy existing supplies of goods like drinkable water and electric power, and increase demand for substitutes. As a result, no matter what we do, some people’s needs are going to go unmet. In extreme cases, the results of this scarcity can be tragic. But it would be a mistake to blame unmet needs on price gouging. Disasters cause scarcity; and scarcity means that resources have to be rationed. Whether we do that by price increases, or waiting in line, or through a random lottery, some people’s needs are going to go unmet.

 

  • The Real Question is Which Method of Rationing is Least Bad. What most people call “price gouging” is really just one way of rationing scarce resources. A more accurate description would be rationing according to willingness-to-pay. When too many people want something, and there’s not enough to go around, one way to bring supply and demand into balance is to allow prices to increase. That’s not the only way of rationing scarce resources. But it does have two advantages. First, it dissuades people who don’t really need the resource from consuming it (call that the demand problem). Second, it encourages people who have an abundance of the resource to bring it to market in order to earn the exceptionally high profit (call that the supply problem). No one is saying that price gouging is a perfect method of rationing. I certainly wouldn’t use it to ration goods among friends or neighbors who I knew well. But in the large and anonymous setting of the marketplace, where knowledge of who really needs what is limited and empathy is in short supply, rationing according to willingness-to-pay is arguably less bad than any of the alternatives at solving both the demand and the supply problems.

In short, those of us who defend price gouging want the same thing that most of us do – we want scarce resources in times of emergency to go to those who need them most. Our claim is that rationing according to willingness-to-pay does, at least in some contexts, a better job of achieving this goal than any alternative mechanism.

Not raising prices and simply allowing those who show up first to buy whatever they wish might seem like a more moral alternative. At least, no one’s going to charge you with “gouging.” But that leads to situations exactly like the one featured (though apparently not understood?) at the top of Sorkin’s article. And that’s no help to whatever desperate people might show up too late.

The post Two Short Points in Defense of Price Gouging appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/two-short-points-defense-price-gouging/feed/ 60 12023
Can you be a libertarian racist or anti-Semite? http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/can-libertarian-racist-anti-semite/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/can-libertarian-racist-anti-semite/#comments Tue, 05 Sep 2017 22:19:38 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12019 No. OK, now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s why: As a political philosophy libertarianism is based on the view that all individual humans are worthy of respect,...

The post Can you be a libertarian racist or anti-Semite? appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
No.

OK, now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s why:

As a political philosophy libertarianism is based on the view that all individual humans are worthy of respect, and that their actions should not be subject to the coercive interference of another without just cause. Now, what counts as “just cause” is open for debate. But it’s clear that if we truly believe that all individuals are worthy of respect then the mere fact that someone has a particular ancestry wouldn’t justify treating her differently from anyone else. (Nor, incidentally, would the mere fact that someone is a different sex justify her differential treatment.) If you believe that it does then you’re treating persons primarily as tokens of types of people, and not primarily as individuals. And that’s just not an individualist–or libertarian–view.

This doesn’t mean that you or your business are required to deal with types of people you don’t like. You can refuse service to anyone, on any grounds. But, if you do it solely on the grounds that they’re (e.g.) a Jew, or Irish, or a woman, then you’re not committed to treating people as individuals. And it’s that commitment–and not the view that you should not aggress against others–that is the fundamental basis of libertarianism. This is because the commitment not to aggress stems from the recognition that other persons are individuals with their own projects that you should not interfere with without just cause. The respect for individuals comes first; the duty not to aggress comes second. This means that the argument that a desire to refuse service to persons on the basis of their ancestry (or sex) is compatible with being a libertarian as such a refusal is simply the refusal to confer a benefit and not the infliction of a harm cuts no ice. It’s correct that a refusal to truck, barter, or trade is the refusal to confer a benefit and not the initiation of aggression. But if this refusal stems from treating one’s prospective trading partner as a token of a type of people rather than as an individual in her own right then it will be incompatible with libertarianism. Again, this doesn’t mean that it would be disallowed in a libertarian society. But the person so refusing would not herself be a libertarian–no matter how much she might agree with free markets, the non-aggression principle,  or other doctrines associated with libertarianism.

So, no, you can’t be a racist or an anti-Semite and a libertarian. But libertarianism can (reluctantly) allow you to practice your racist or anti-Semitic views, provided that these are limited to withholding benefits and not inflicting harm.

 

 

The post Can you be a libertarian racist or anti-Semite? appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/09/can-libertarian-racist-anti-semite/feed/ 335 12019