Author Archive | Roderick

Qualis Spectator

Europe is a great place to attend artistic performances – plays, concerts, operas, etc., in the major cities there’s always a dizzying variety of options on offer. (I vividly recall the tantalising posters in the Prague metro advertising multiple different operas from each of Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, and Wagner, plus many more, all in a single month.) Unfortunately, owing to limitations of time, money, or both, I’ve been to very few performances on my European trips. Here are the ones I recall (not counting street musicians, musicians performing in restaurants, etc. – although the Klezmer band in the main square in Kraków in 2007 was one of my very favourites):

1990, London: I really wanted to see Peter O’Toole in “Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell” at the Apollo Theatre, but tickets were sold out, so my King’s College London hosts suggested Denholm Elliott in Mamet’s “A Life in the Theatre” at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, which was fine. (Though not as exciting as seeing Patrick McGoohan in “Pack of Lies” in Boston in 1985 for my birthday.)

1997, Rome: As part of the ISIL conference package, we attended a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata; I don’t recall the venue, but it was a second-rate establishment (with a ninth-rate restroom, possibly the filthiest restroom I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot – plus it was just a hole in the floor third-world style, no commode, which is something I saw nowhere else in Italy), and most of the cast was merely competent, but the lead singer was excellent, and you can’t beat the music.

2004, London: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at St. Martin’s Theatre. Maligned by some as a tourist trap, but I found it thoroughly satisfying, even though I already knew the ending. (The theatre claims the play has never been published, but they lie. I have it on my bookshelf.)

2006, Edinburgh: We wandered into St. Giles Cathedral and listened to part of a free concert by some itinerant singing group; I don’t recall their name, if I even knew it, but they were lovely and the surroundings were charming.

2010, Vienna: This is the only one I planned in advance. Watching the New Year’s concert each year from the Golden Hall in the Musikverein is a long-standing family tradition, so when I was in Vienna (on a side trip from the PCPE in Prague) I was delighted to get a chance to attend a concert there. (Mozart and Schubert [in particular, the latter’s “Sanctus”] were featured, IIRC.)


Molinari and Proudhon: Mutual(ist) Influence?

While Molinari and Proudhon were certainly aware of each other (both published in the Journal des Économistes, for example), neither of them, to my knowledge, ever acknowledged being influenced by the other. Nor is that surprising; they belonged to rival libertarian traditions that had grown increasingly hostile to each other, and the debate between Proudhon and Molinari’s mentor Bastiat in 1849-50, while beginning in a cautiously friendly fashion, had ended in a flurry of insult and acrimony. Nevertheless, I think there is good reason to suspect mutual influence.

While Proudhon declared his opposition to the state as early as in his 1840 work What is Property?, he at that time offered little in the way of detail as to what sorts of social or economic mechanisms might replace state functions.

Then, in 1849, Molinari published both his article “The Production of Security” (in the Journal des Économistes) and his book Soirées on the Rue Saint-Lazare, in both of which he described how private enterprise could take over the functions of the state. (Molinari’s ideas were subsequently discussed in the Journal; see here and here.)

Two years later, in 1851, Proudhon published his General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century, in which he now discussed, in more detail than ever before, his ideas (in part similar, in part different) as to how private enterprise could take over the functions of the state. This is where I suspect Molinari’s influence on Proudhon.

In that same work, Proudhon described the process of transition as the “dissolution of government in the economic organism.” Over three decades later, in his Political Evolution and the Revolution (1884), Molinari used almost the same phrase to describe the transition to a stateless society – the “diffusion of the state within society” – although he somewhat disingenuously suggested that this approach was in contrast to anarchism: “The future thus belongs neither to the absorption of society by the state, as the communists and collectivists suppose, nor to the suppression of the state, as the anarchists and nihilists dream, but to the diffusion of the state within society.” (pp. 393-94; cf. p. 482, where he speaks of the “diffusion of government within society” rather than of the state.)* This is where I suspect Proudhon’s influence on Molinari.

 

[* Cf. Benjamin Tucker in 1890: “Anarchists work for the abolition of the State, but by this they mean not its overthrow, but, as Proudhon put it, its dissolution in the economic organism.” Tucker was certainly aware of some of Molinari’s later work – see here and here – but whether he had read the particular works by Molinari here named is unclear. Certainly Tucker’s idea for competing security agencies resembles Molinari’s, but Tucker had also read, e.g., Spooner’s similar proposal from 1851, and I doubt that Spooner would have read Molinari.]


Who Said This?

Guess the author:

Reason and experience alike tell us that the governments now existing in the world were established by bayonet-point, by force. None of the monarchies or governments that we see in the world are based on justice or on a correct foundation that is acceptable to reason. Their foundations are all rotten, being nothing but coercion and force.

Click here for the answer.

[And click here for the source.]


Who Said These?

One of these quotations is from a communist anarchist. The other is from an individualist anarchist. Guess who said them.

1. Suppose that suggestions of economy have substituted the large unitary edifice for the isolated home. … [W]hen these several domestic functions are performed severally upon the large scale, additional conveniences will be found to arise from combining the Eating-House, the Laundry, the Nursery, the Lying-in Department, etc., etc., in one unitary edifice, and conducting the whole upon a plan not inferior, perhaps, in magnificence and extent to the Phalansterian order of Fourier.

2. Phalansteries are repugnant to millions of human beings. The most reserved man certainly feels the necessity of meeting his fellows for the purpose of common work …. But it is not so for the hours of leisure, reserved for rest and intimacy. … A phalanstery, which is in fact nothing but an immense hotel, can please some, … but the great mass prefers family life …. They prefer isolated apartments, Anglo-Saxons even going as far as to prefer houses of from six to eight rooms, in which the family, or an agglomeration of friends, can live apart. Sometimes a phalanstery is a necessity, but it would be hateful, were it the general rule. Isolation, alternating with time spent in society, is the normal desire of human nature. This is why one of the greatest tortures in prison is the impossibility of isolation, much as solitary confinement becomes torture in its turn, when not alternated with hours of social life.

See the comments section for the answer.


The March of Time

I realise that I’ve never blogged here, even minimally, about my trips from last March. (I thought I had, but actually I just discussed them on facebook.)

So on March 9-10 I participated in a workshop on exploitation, run by Matt Zwolinski and Ben Ferguson, at the University of San Diego.

I flew out a couple of days early in order to spend some time hanging out with my friends Gary Chartier and Alicia Homer.

Then on March 12-14 I attended the PPE conference in New Orleans. (That’s “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics,” not “Personal Protective Equipment.”) I gave a talk on “Virtue’s Unity and the Liberal Quest for Principled Moderation.” Several of my co-panelists, alas, had to pull out in light of the impending Coronapocalypse.

After that, the Coronapocalypse fell utterly across the land and all further travel was curtailed; thus I did not attend APEE (Las Vegas), the Pacific APA (San Francisco), or Gary and Alicia’s wedding celebration (Laguna Beach) in April, nor again the AtInER Philosophy Conference (Athens) in May.


Name Game

So here’s a puzzle.

When I was a little kid I often went by “Rod.”

But from at least 5th grade on I went by “Roderick,” as was my preference, and everyone called me “Roderick” (except my mother, who was the only person who still often called me “Rod,” and indeed did so ever after).

In high school I was Roderick. In college I was Roderick. In grad school I was Roderick.

Then, in the 90s, when I got my first teaching job at Chapel Hill, nearly everyone suddenly started calling me “Rod.” (I recall several people at Chapel Hill asking me if I preferred “Rod” or “Roderick”; I told them “Roderick,” but to no avail, as they usually gravitated unhesitatingly back to “Rod” again soon thereafter.)

And it wasn’t just a Chapel Hill thing, because people that I met in the libertarian academic sphere during that period – the Institute for Humane Studies, the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, etc. – also generally called me “Rod.” So it’s hard to identify a unified cause.

And to this day, people who first met me during that period of 1990-1997 (except for those who know me well enough to know better) usually call me “Rod.”

But then I moved to Auburn in 1998, and from then on people have almost always called me “Roderick” again – and not just people I met at or through Auburn either, so again a unified cause is elusive.


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