Tag Archives | Personal

Like Noises in a Swound, Part 2

Some audiovisual supplements (not mine) to my San Diego trip:

Here’s the hotel where Liberty Fund put us up (and where my mother stayed in the 1930s):

This is what’s behind the hotel:

This is the Torrey Pines Reserve:

And this is my old Ocean Beach neighbourhood (where I first discovered comic books, back in the early 1970s):

Like Noises in a Swound

I’m back from a Liberty Fund in San Diego (organised by Matt Zwolinski on Lysander Spooner). But I almost didn’t make it.

Ontological caution on display

Ontological caution on display

I was scheduled to take the shuttle bus from Auburn to the Atlanta airport on Thursday morning. But on Wednesday I got a call from the bus company saying that thanks to the ice storm they were cancelling their Thursday morning trips – and all trips Wednesday as well. I contacted the local taxi company, who said that for a whopping fee they’d drive me to the airport, but only if we could leave right away (i.e., before they’d have to be driving in the dark, with colder temperatures and poorer visibility). So I frantically threw my clothes etc. into a suitcase, taking no time to shower, reserved a room for the night in Atlanta, and we were off. Between the traffic slowdowns, partial road closures, and sliding around on the ice, the trip to the airport took four hours (as opposed to the usual hour and forty-five minutes). Happily, all went properly the next morning.

Owing mainly to my mother’s final illness, when she couldn’t realistically be left alone overnight, I haven’t been on a plane for nearly two years. Incredibly, airplane bathrooms seem to have gotten even smaller in the interval, which I wouldn’t have thought possible. I can’t imagine how disabled passengers manage.

Torrey Pines Nature Reserve

Torrey Pines Nature Reserve

I grabbed lunch at Las Cuatro Milpas, widely reputed to be the best Mexican eatery in the city. I thought the burrito was a bit dry, but the taco was incredible.

The conference on Spooner was great, and San Diego was lovely as usual. Being back there was a poignant reminder of what life is like where the airport is right in town rather than nearly two hours away, and nothing is ever shut down on account of an ice storm. The conference was at La Jolla’s Colonial Hotel, where my mother lived during the 1930s.

During a conference break I headed up to the Torrey Pines Nature Reserve, which I hadn’t seen since I was around eight or nine. Still as beautiful as ever.


I forgot to mention I also stopped by my old Ocean Beach neighbourhood and had lunch at Hodad’s.

Class Act

[cross-posted at BHL]

Karl Marx once wrote:

I do not claim to have discovered either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle between the classes, as had bourgeois economists their economic anatomy. My own contribution was

1. to show that the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production;

2. that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat;

3. that this dictatorship itself constitutes no more than a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.

Marx is certainly right that class analysis was a central feature of classical liberalism long before he picked it up. He’s fibbing a bit, though, about (1) and (3); many of his bourgeois predecessors (for example, the Censeur triumvirate of Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, and Augustin Thierry) most emphatically thought that class society as they understood it was a temporary phenomenon destined to be displaced. Thierry, for example, announces:

Federations will replace states; the loose but indissoluble chains of interest will replace the despotism of men and of laws; the tendency towards government, the first passion of the human race, will cede to the free community. The era of empire is over, the era of association begins.

The main difference between Marx and the liberals was that Marx took the differentiation between ruling and ruled classes to be grounded in differential access to the means of production, whereas the liberals took the differentiation between ruling and ruled classes to be grounded in differential access to predatory power, and in particular to the power of the state. (To be sure, Marx acknowledged and indeed insisted on the important role of the state in maintaining class division when examining the details of history or current events; but the state quickly receded in importance when he turned to abstract theory.)

All this is by way of noting that I just received in the mail my author’s copy of Social Class and State Power: Exploring an Alternative Radical Tradition, an anthology of libertarian and classical liberal writings on class analysis that I co-edited with David Hart, Gary Chartier, and Ross Kenyon.

The volume includes material by a rather heterogeneous collection of authors:

  • from the 17th century, Richard Overton;
  • from the 18th century, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Vicesimus Knox, and William Godwin;
  • from the 19th century, Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, Thomas Hodgskin, John Wade, William Leggett, Richard Cobden, John C. Calhoun, Adolphe Blanqui, Frédéric Bastiat, Charles Renouard, Augustin Thierry, Gustave de Molinari, Herbert Spencer, William Graham Sumner, Lysander Spooner, and Benjamin Tucker;
  • and from the 20th century, Franz Oppenheimer, Albert J. Nock, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Roy Childs, Walter Grinder, John Hagel, Hans Hoppe, and your humble correspondent.

I would urge you to go out and buy a copy; but in light of the book’s $100 pricetag, I’ll just urge you to go out and suggest to your local research library that they buy a copy.

Land of Enchantment

I asked my Spanish teacher whether “encantado” (“delighted,” as in “delighted to meet you”) was cognate with “enchanted.” He said no, that it was a false cognate.

Hmph, hpmh.

Das Schloss

I just got off the phone with Dell. All I needed was to update my credit card info before my MS Office subscription auto-renews.

The process took nearly an hour, and I talked to nine different people.

And I still don’t know for sure whether it worked out. The confirmation email suggests I’ve purchased a new product rather than altering the billing info for renewing an old one.

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