I’m back from Mordor! Though since most of the times I’ve been in DC have been libertarian-related (e.g., my three summers at IHS) I actually associate DC more with libertarianism than with statism. Well, that plus good ethnic restaurants, coffeeshops, and bookstores.
The Molinari Society meeting went well and had a good turnout (despite the meeting’s location being changed at the last minute). Matt MacKenzie argued that even mutually consensual transactions can be exploitative from a libertarian standpoint if they are enabled by unfairly coercive background conditions; Charles Johnson in his comments raised questions about unfair but noncoercive backgrounds, as well as some epistemological difficulties. Geoff Plauché criticised the founder-legislator myth from a Hayekian spontaneous-order standpoint; Charles in his comments raised questions about consciously constructed but noncoercive orders. Other libertarian-related events I attended included author-meets-critics sessions for Jan Narveson and Tara Smith, and the Objectivist Center reception. (Apparently for APA purposes they’re still calling themselves the Objectivist Center rather than the Atlas Society.) Good to see lots of old friends.
In the book exhibits I was pleased to see that the full, massive, unabridged version of Foucault’s History of Madness is finally available in English.
I also went to the Library of Congress to look up some old Molinari and Rose Wilder Lane stuff. When I first went to the Library back in 1987 (to photocopy the notoriously Nietzschean first edition of We the Living), security was so bad that I actually wrote my Congressman about it. (Yeah, I did stuff like that in those days.) Nowadays security is much tighter – but clearly aimed more at the threat of terrorists than at the more likely threat of thieves. It would now be fairly difficult to smuggle a bomb in – but still not terribly difficult to smuggle a book out.
While I was in DC two scoundrelly ex-presidents left this sphere – one hastily murdered, most likely to avoid embarrassing inquiries into the past dealings of the American state; the other obsequiously lauded, for similar reasons. The beat goes on ….