Monday, January 29, 2018

So long

Over at Revealed Preferences, my co-blogger Adam writes a farewell to Kellie Leitch, who announced last week that she will not seek re-election, but instead return to private life and practice.
It may be that Leitch never really shared the sentiments that she attempted to ride into 24 Sussex, but whatever was in her heart she chose to make those issues her political trademark. It was heartening to see her finish a distant sixth in the leadership campaign, with less than 8% of the overall vote. Leitch’s departure from public life allows her to return to her medical practice as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, where she will do more good in a day than she ever could have in a lifetime of politics. And hopefully, her defeat means that we will not see the likes of the campaign that she ran again any time soon."
Read the whole thing here.

I grappled with my frustration with Leitch at this blog and with the help of commenters here and here. Like Adam, I can't say I'm sad to see her go.

Two philosophies defended

Larry’s discussion of the different conceptions of capitalism and stateless society in his tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin reminded me of the discussions of capitalism and utopia in G.A. Cohen’s Why Not Socialism? and Jason Brennan’s Why Not Capitalism?

Cohen’s tiny book is a classic and an ambitious one. Though it barely clears 80 pages, it sets out to make the case that the utopia that we should wish for—even strive for—is a socialist one. As Brennan points out in his 99-page response, for many years Cohen’s opponents granted his claim that socialism doesn’t and can’t work, but if it could, and if we were good enough, it’s the morally best system to embrace.

Brennan makes it clear—more clear than Cohen does—that this is all Cohen argues for. He grants that the “design problem” of coming up with a workable economic system to replace capitalism might be one that we can’t overcome. All Cohen asks is that we want to overcome it, that we want to do better than capitalism. But this is ground that Brennan refuses to cede.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Libertarianism: The Jaworski definition

Several years ago, Peter Jaworski sketched out a definition of libertarianism that I've since come to think of as the only workable definition. I'm reposting it from Facebook.

The definition was fleshed out in response to (yet another) debate—this time involving Stephan Kinsella, but replayed many times between many people—about who "counts" as a libertarian.

The old accusation was that someone who doesn't base their morality on the non-aggression principle can't be a true or at least not truly committed libertarian. This accusation is bound to rile up some anarchist consequentialist, but more importantly, purges from libertarianism figures as important as Hayek, Mises, and Friedman. Today there are others who would like to disqualify from libertarianism those who worry about such distasteful goals as pursuing economic nationalism or those with more mainstream views on border controls and immigration. I wouldn't say that these people are part of the same political project as I am, but (alas) I don't think their underlying reasons for smaller government disqualify them from the label.

This is the strength of Jaworski's definition: it moves libertarianism away from purity tests and purges and instead allows for a sort of pluralism within libertarianism and accommodates the many different and even disparate missions that libertarians pursue.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Heartache and bad cinnamon rolls

I wish that everyone who is upset about the overreactions (they exist!) to #metoo could understand what it's like to read this and feel your heart ache:
Last night, I made cinnamon rolls. I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon rolls, per se, but this recipe was included in Mario Batali’s sexual misconduct apology letter, and so I feel compelled to make them. Batali is not the first powerful man to request forgiveness for “inappropriate actions” towards his coworkers and employees. He is not the most high profile, and he is ostensibly not even the worst offender. But he is the only one who included a recipe.
[...]
I find myself fluctuating between apathy and anger as I try to follow Batali’s recipe, which is sparse on details. The base of the rolls is pizza dough – Batali notes that you can either buy it, or use his recipe to make your own.
I make my own, because I’m a woman, and for us there are no fucking shortcuts.
We spend 25 years working our asses off to be the most qualified Presidential candidate in U.S. history and we get beaten out by a sexual deviant who likely needs to call the front desk for help when he’s trying to order pornos in his hotel room.
Donald Trump is President, so I’m making the goddamn dough by scratch.
(Please, by all means, read the whole thing.)