Thursday, April 07, 2011

Return of the mack

Ok, this actually has nothing to do with Mark Morrison or being ostentatious to attract members of the opposite sex. It's simply the return of my oh-so-typical situation of getting sucked into reading news and commentary instead of getting things done that are due imminently.

But I'm using bits of Scott's Seeing Like a State in my course, and got sucked in to reading Brad DeLong's review of it from some years ago, and then a much better (in my opinion) response to his review and long discussion thread at Crooked Timber. If you have any interest in market-state debates and other fiddly detailed arguments on human governance systems, a solid reference (the comments as much so as the original post). There's something interesting to be said, I think, about the separation between many "pop" or run-of-the-mill libertarians and the dedicated academic libertarians that engage in the much more interesting (imho) and complicated debates the deal with all sorts of complications and refinements and imbroglios with markets, ideology, institutions, and government (like the interesting idea that markets can only ever be instantiated by the presence of government, or at least, effective markets of a given scale, and of course the fact that markets are always constituted contextually, not abstractly, and as such abstract rules about their efficiency or rectitude can't be applied a priori... and now I'm boring even myself) (ok, I'm not, but probably all of you). I'm sure this is common not just in the academic/pop libertarian circles (cf. any other philosophy) but I find it most interesting perhaps in libertarianism (perhaps because of its somewhat unique claims to a sort of intellectual purity and certitude)--
"'Will governments or market actors figure that out first and harness the proper skills first? Almost certainly the market will find out first.' No. There’s never a guarantee, and you have no data to show there is. The pretense that there could be either way is the ideology of modernism, and libertarianism is the last of the modernist ideologies, mostly as parody.--Seth Edenbaum

For a final bit of procrastinatory pretentiousness: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."