In my latest YouTube interview, I chat with science fiction author Ken MacLeod about Scottish space opera, libertarianism and Marxism, individualist anarchism, the Austrian calculation debate, Neoreaction, Brexit, Scottish independence, paternalism and anti-vaping laws, James Hutton and deep time, the Scottish Enlightenment, what he owes to David Friedman, what he owes to Margaret Thatcher, and that time Charles Darwin changed history by vomiting.
Tag Archives | Anarchy
[cross-posted at POT]
The Molinari Society will be holding its mostly-annual Eastern Symposium in conjunction with the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association via Zoom (7-9 and 14-16 January). Only those who cough up the hefty registration fee will be able to access the session, so no chance of free-riding this time around (the APA’s decision, definitely not ours; the APA is both pragmatically and morally confused about the costs and benefits of allowing free-riding at its conferences, but that’s another story). But there’s a substantial student discount, verb. sap. Anyway, here’s the schedule info:
Molinari Society symposium:
Radical Rights Theory
[Two timeslots back to back; we havent yet sorted the order of speakers or who’ll be in which timeslot – it depends on some logistical details that remain to be worked out (check back here for updates).]
12K. Thursday, 14 January 2021, 9:00-10:50 a.m. E
13K. Thursday, 14 January 2021, 11:00 a.m.-12:50 p.m. E
Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)
Jesse Spafford (The Graduate Center, CUNY), “When ‘Enough and as Good’ Is Not Good Enough”
Daniel Layman (Davidson College), “Keeping the Proviso in Its Place”
Roderick T. Long (Auburn University), “How to Have Your No-Proviso Lockeanism and Eat It Too”
Jason Lee Byas (University of Michigan), “Alienation, Forfeiture, and Two Concepts of Natural Rights”
Cory Massimino (Center for a Stateless Society), “Two Cheers for Rothbardianism”
See the full schedule here.
Were it not for the pandemic, I’d be heading to Manhattan for this event, preparing to dine with my co-panelists, to see friends in the NYC area, to catch up with colleagues in the profession, to visit some new museums, etc. But alas!
Here’s a New Year’s Day (well, as things turned out, a day-after-New-Year’s-Day) treat for you Agoric Fanatics: a fascinating interview with economist and legal scholar David Friedman.
Topics covered include: free-market anarchism; the Society for Creative Anachronism; tectonic geology; the quasi-anarchic legal systems of medieval Iceland and 18th-century England; being converted to anarchism by Robert Heinlein; how getting a Ph.D. in physics led to being an economist at a law school; the joys of fomenting war and exploiting one’s students; how he repeatedly achieved promotion through violence against his predecessors; how to make medieval armor both for humans and for turnips; how innovations in fireplace design facilitated adultery; and the perils of central planning for wizards.
I also experimented with a new (for me) audiovisual thingie starting around 5:45 – check it out!
Cory Massimino and I are organising a virtual reading group in January-February 2021 on the individualist anarchists of 19th-century America; details in the video. Join us, if you voluntarily choose to do so; the free-for-all is free for all:
Czech out this exclusive! expanded! three-part version of my 2019 Prague lecture on “Austro-Libertarian Themes in Three Prague Authors: Čapek, Kafka, and Hašek.”
(See the descriptions on YouTube for links to various items mentioned in my three discussions.)
In Part 1, on Karel Čapek (1890-1938), I discuss: intelligent, morally ambiguous salamanders; rebellious, morally ambiguous robots; the effects on supply and demand of unleashing the Absolute; a critique of the labour theory of Labour Day; the geometrical logic of imperial expansion; why police detectives have no interest in mysteries; the merits and demerits of government theme parks devoted to the preservation of Czech folkways; the magic word by means of which the English protect their property; why God can only be a witness and never a judge; the role of clumsiness in advancing civilisation; the benefits and hazards of replacing feet with wheels; inspirational workplace posters suitable for shackled newts; how I ran into one of Čapek’s robots in the lounge of the Auburn Hotel and Conference Center; and the crucifixion of Christ as a sensible protectionist measure.
Note: contrary to what I say in the video, I believe that the R.U.R. cover designed by Čapek’s brother Josef is not the one I show there, but instead this (rather better) one:
Incidentally, Josef Čapek also designed this Kropotkin cover:
On the subject of corrections, I think it may actually have been Paul Cantor rather than Ralph Raico who was in the company of my old stage partner in the Mises conference anecdote I tell. I’m not sure. Jeez, my memory is crap these days. Um, what was I saying?
In Part 2, on Franz Kafka (1883-1924), I discuss: theological versus political readings of Kafka’s vision of elusive, perpetually deferred authority; bureaucracy as hopelessly incompetent and out-of-touch, versus bureaucracy as all-pervasive surveillance; the dependence of rulership on those who rule; Stoic versus anti-Stoic readings of Seneca’s Medea; discovering Kafka through Marvel Comics (or not); and remembering Kropotkin but forgetting Nietzsche’s umbrella.
On second thought I don’t think the April 1982 issue of Epic Illustrated can have been my introduction to Kafka after all, as Dartmouth was running an Orson Welles film festival which I attended while I was living in Hanover NH, 1977-1981, which certainly included The Trial.
Speaking of which, here are some clips from the Welles movie:
I also meant to include this passage from Kafka on his own bureaucratic career (oh well): “What a fine thing it is to be a clerk at a town hall! Little work, adequate salary, plenty of leisure, excessive respect everywhere in the town …. and if I only could, I should like to give this entire dignity to the office cat to eat ….” (Still, at least his office had a cat; that seems like some solace.)
In Part 3, on Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923), I discuss: the perversities of bureaucratic incentives; the state as a parasite on private crime; the importance of providing every voter with a pocket aquarium; the dangers of displaying, or not displaying, portraits of the Emperor; access to one lavatory as a bribe for permission to reopen another lavatory; electoral campaigns as anarchist street theatre; justice in canine nomenclature; what happens when criminals go on strike; the forgotten economic costs of farting; the ethical, logistical, and grammatical aspects of assassinating Archduke Ferdinand; my success and the Soviets’ failure in deciphering Czech signage; and the economic transaction that I conducted with a nun in the men’s room of the Vatican.
And finally, here’s a clip from the movie version of Hašek’s novel The Good Soldier Švejk:
No, not in the u.s. election – Ἀθηνᾶ κρείττων!
Nah, I voted for which book we will read next in the Auburn Science Fiction and Philosophy Reading Group.
This was a more cheerful and civilised affair than the u.s. election in at least seven ways:
1. Minority choices have no trouble getting on the ballot; any individual member of the group can nominate a book (or several), without having to collect multiple signatures on a petition.
2. The number of participants is small enough that any individual vote has an actual chance of making a decisive difference to the outcome.
3. Voting involves rank-ordering the candidates via an online Condorcet poll, so no one has to choose between voting for their favourite among the front runners and voting for their favourite absolutely.
4. We choose a new book every month or two, so there’s strict rotation in office with very short terms – no perpetually incumbent books.
5. The reading group is a purely voluntary association. If any members aren’t happy with the winning choice, and want to go off on their own to read and discuss a different book, the rest of us wouldn’t dream of trying to stop them, let alone telling them that by voting (or by not voting) they have committed themselves to reading the winning book.
6. All the books nominated look worthwhile, and I would be happy to read and discuss any of them.
7. Facebook has not been reminding me every few minutes to vote for the next book.
O idéal lointain!