Category Archives: Politics

Today’s Quote: Mises on cosmopolitan nationalism

“…nationalism does not clash with cosmopolitanism, for the unified nation does not want discord with neighboring peoples, but peace and friendship.”

Ludwig von Mises

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Today’s Quote: Orwell on Patriotism

“Patriotism has nothing to do with conservatism. It is devotion to something that is changing but is felt to be mystically the same … I would sooner have had that kind of upbringing than be like the left-wing intellectuals who are so ‘enlightened’ that they cannot understand the most ordinary emotions.”
George Orwell, ‘My Country Left or Right’

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Word of the Day: Shellacking

Shellacking

A comprehensive defeat.

If you’re interested in how to administer a shellacking to your enemies, you might like my book.

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Today’s Quote: Jefferson on the challenge of liberty

And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
Thomas Jefferson
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Today’s Quote: Tolstoy on groupthink

All the papers say the same thing… they are like frogs before a storm! They prevent our hearing anything else.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Via Douglas Carswell’s intriguing new book calling for a free market revolt  against the new oligarchy of power and capital.

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This is how you get Brexit

Interesting tidbit from Douglas Carswell’s new book, about a county I know well:

…in counties like Suffolk in England, although almost six in ten people voted to leave the EU, each of the county’s seven members of Parliament (all of whom are Conservatives) backed Remain.

If you are interested in how modern political insurgency works, you might like my book.

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How To Get Free, Together

How free societies think about the common good is the great question of our time. In the wake of Brexit and Trump, while most thinkers on the left and right have descended into simplistic cheerleading or paranoid denial, a few brave souls are seriously reassessing the role of politics in an age where nations are back on centre stage. It’s vital that at least some on the classical liberal/libertarian side of the argument take up that challenge as well.

In an effort to sharpen my own thinking, I’ve been reading Michael Novak’s excellent Free Persons and the Common Good this week. Published in 1989, it’s out of print but extremely worthwhile. There can be few books that move so smoothly from quoting Ludwig von Mises to adjudicating disputes between Catholic theologians. At one point, Novak laments the want of a book studying Friedrich von Hayek’s work “in the light of the political and social thought of Aristotle and Aquinas”.

This is not a perfect book. It repeats itself and descends too deeply into minor doctrinal controversies of the time. But it is a thoughtful, provocative reminder of the liberal project’s longstanding, deep interest not just in individual freedom but in creating self-sustaining political communities built on liberty.

Today, elite power is in full and open flight from politics, resisting democratic results for higher reasons of its own. At least some libertarians are running in the same direction. And yet even as they do so, it seems that suspicion of both the common mind and the legitimacy of politics is an idea whose time has gone. 

 So it’s refreshing to read Novak’s analysis of de Tocqueville, who looked at the early American republic and saw a commitment to maximise political participation at the local level as one of its great strengths, a source of durability.

In local affairs, citizens quickly see the connection between their private interests and the general interest… the federal principle at the root of the American experiment draws as many citizens as possible into the exercise of local responsibilities.… Thus, local freedom “perpetually brings men together and forces them to help one another in spite of the propensities that sever them.”

There is much to think on in our new times. But among it all, remembering that liberty is hard-won and hard-kept may be the most important of all.

If you want some practical advice on communicating persuasively in a new age of celebrity politics, you should probably read my book.

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Post-liberalism in the FT

WhatI’m reading: David Goodhart explaining his movement away from the left-liberal consensus.

http://app.ft.com/content/39a0867a-0974-11e7-ac5a-903b21361b43

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Today’s Quote: 18 March 2017

Today’s quote is from from Michael Novak’s fantastic Free Persons and the Common Good, which I’m reading on a long weekend in Oslo in between watching the world biathlon championships. Someone really needs to issue a new edition of this book, and hopefully Novak’s recent passing into eternity will focus minds. This quote isn’t from him but de Tocqueville.

“If men are to remain civilised or to become civilised, the art of association must develop and improve among them at the same speed as equality of conditions spread.”

Books like this are hard work but worth it. If you’re in the mood for something funny, wise and short instead, why not try my latest book.

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What I’m Reading: The Biology of Politics

I’m still making up my mind about this long, intriguing essay which seeks a high-level analysis of political dynamics via biological imperatives. It certainly explains the interest of a left-wing thinker like Cory Doctorow in the possibility of a post-scarcity economics in our technological future.

“To my eye, it is inherently clear that this r/K divergence is the origin of our political divide. Indeed, while policy proposals from Conservatives are predicated upon the premise that resources are inherently limited, and individuals should have to work and demonstrate merit to acquire them, Liberals advocate on behalf of policy proposals which seem to be predicated upon an assumption that there are always more than sufficient resources to let everyone live lives of equal leisure. To a Liberal, any scarcity must clearly arise due to some individual’s personal greed and evil altering a natural state of perpetual plenty.”

Read the whole thing.

If you’re interested in making sense of our strange new political world, you might like my book.

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