Nancy MacLean’s generalized rewriting of James Buchanan’s views on democracy

I have only read a small bit of Nancy MacLean’s book on James M. Buchanan, public choice, and politics. I’m reluctant to buy a copy, but I wanted to see if it was as bad as some critics have said. (Now you know something of my limited knowledge of and pre-existing bias against the book. … More Nancy MacLean’s generalized rewriting of James Buchanan’s views on democracy

Fun with Footnotes (A game of scholarly discovery)

“Let’s … have … fun … with … footnote[s],” MacLean said.* Here is a simple game of scholarship that anyone can play and everyone who plays by accepted norms of scholarship wins!** How to play: Take the recently published book Democracy in Chains, open it randomly to a page in the text, find a footnote … More Fun with Footnotes (A game of scholarly discovery)

Pencil or peach, either way, a marvel of decentralized coordination

Many of you are probably already familiar with Leonard Read’s famous 1958 story I, Pencil. Told through the eyes of a pencil, it describes the process of producing a pencil and how many people are involved in doing so, but without ever having met or consciously, deliberately set out a plan under the control of … More Pencil or peach, either way, a marvel of decentralized coordination

Online Library of Liberty forum on McCloskey’s Bourgeois Era

At its Online Library of Liberty, Liberty Fund hosts a monthly “Liberty Matters” forum in which a set of scholars discusses a particular set of ideas. This month’s forum features Deirdre McCloskey‘s Bourgeois Era series of books, two of which have been published (Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity). McCloskey’s main argument is that the various material … More Online Library of Liberty forum on McCloskey’s Bourgeois Era

Pauline Maier on colonial radicalism

With Independence Day upon us, my bedtime reading for the past couple of weeks has become timely. Pauline Maier, the MIT historian who unfortunately passed away last year, published From Resistance to Revolution in 1972. It’s a carefully researched and well-written account, weaving together reports from contemporaneous sources, of the increasing radicalization of American colonists … More Pauline Maier on colonial radicalism

A relatively thoughful view of libertarianism from a progressive-liberal perspective

Salon has published a lot of nonsense on libertarianism (e.g., anything by Michael Lind on the topic). So it was surprising, yesterday, to find that Kim Messick’s Salon essay on libertarianism was relatively thoughtful. No perfect, by any means, just better than most progressive-liberal attempts at criticizing libertarianism. The author at least gets basic points right and would surely score higher than … More A relatively thoughful view of libertarianism from a progressive-liberal perspective