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Vastly superior to Tom Holland—and vastly, vastly superior to the likes of Niall Ferguson—on the decline and fall of the Roman Republic: Edward J. Watts: Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0465093825: "If the early and middle centuries of Rome’s republic show how effective this system could be, the last century of the Roman Republic reveals the tremendous dangers that result when political leaders cynically misuse these consensus-building mechanisms to obstruct a republic’s functions. Like politicians in modern republics, Romans could use vetoes to block votes on laws, they could claim the presence of unfavorable religious conditions to annul votes they disliked, and they could deploy other parliamentary tools to slow down or shut down the political process if it seemed to be moving too quickly toward an outcome they disliked...

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An Unrealistic, Impractical, Utopian Plan for Dealing with the Health Care Opportunity of 2007: Hoisted from the Archives

Medicine Google Search

Of historical interest only: Hoisted from the Archives: An Unrealistic, Impractical, Utopian Plan for Dealing with the Health Care Opportunity: First, it's definitely not a plan, and it's certainly not a proposal for the current or any forseeable future policy and political environment. Think of it as a utopia—and think of it as a utopia coming from a guy who is not a real health economist but has an undeserved reputation because he was good at translating the economese spoken by real health economists like David Cutler, Sherry Glied, Ken Thorpe, Len Nichols, et cetera in a way that made it intelligible to senior Bentsen aides like Marina Weiss and Michael Levy.

So here it is:

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DeLong's Principles Of Neoliberalism: Thanks to Miniver Cheevy for Formatting: Hoisted from the Archives from 1999

Il Quarto Stato

Attempting to pass the crown of Chief Neoliberal Shill on to me, Noah Smith has an excellent Twitter thread that cites me: Noah Smith: "Here is a thread about neoliberalism. At the beginning of this year I was elected "Chief Neoliberal Shill", but the true Chief Neoliberal Shill has always been Brad @delong. In 1999, he wrote the following neoliberal manifesto: https://t.co/QQCBFHjgYR. DeLong's case for neoliberalism is basically: It's not about YOU, rich-country person. It's about people in poor countries. Neoliberalism, he says, is the best (only?) way for the world to recover from the inequalities generated by colonialism and unequal industrialization.... Obviously, lots of people toss around the word 'neoliberalism', using it to mean anything from Obama-style centrism to Ayn Rand-style feudalist libertarianism. But I like DeLong's version best. Neoliberalism as the most expeditious antidote to colonialism.

The "neoliberalism" I was talking about then is a relatively distant cousin (but was a cousin) of what people are calling "neoliberalism" today...

And Miniver Cheevy has formatted my argument of 1999:

Miniver Cheevy: : DeLong's Principles Of Neoliberalism: "Neoliberalism is many things. It is:

  • a counsel of despair with respect to the possibility of social democracy today (outside of the global economy’s industrial core).
  • a counsel of hope with respect to the prospects for rapid market-generated economic development outside the global economy’s industrial core—if governments adopt market-conforming policies.
  • a bet that improvements in transportation and communication—the shrinking world—“globalization”—gives us today an extraordinary opportunity to rapidly reduce global inequality by incorporating more and more people and more and more more regions into the global economy.
  • the only live utopian program in the world today...

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Weekend Reading: Paul Krugman (2011): Mr Keynes and the Moderns

Paul Krugman's distinction between Chapter 12er and Book 13 Keynesians is, I think, dead on:

John Maynard Keynes and George Bernard Shaw exiting the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1936

Paul Krugman (2011): Mr Keynes and the Moderns: "I’d divide Keynes readers into two types: Chapter 12ers and Book 1ers. Chapter 12 is, of course, the wonderful, brilliant chapter on long-term expectations, with its acute observations on investor psychology.... Its essential message is that investment decisions must be made in the face of radical uncertainty to which there is no rational answer, and that the conventions men use to pretend that they know what they are doing are subject to occasional drastic revisions, giving rise to economic instability.... Chapter 12ers insist is that this is the real message of Keynes...

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Reasoning and Cogitation—by Individuals, by Social Groups, and by Societies

I am all but certain to never teach a course on: Reasoning—Indivdual, Social, and Societal. But if I were to teach such a course, would this be the best reading list? And if not these readings, what would be better replacements?

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Hoisted from the Archives from 2004: Mark Kleiman: Avodim Hayyinu l’pharoh b’Mitzrayim

Preview of Hoisted from the Archives from 2004 Mark Kleiman Avodim Hayyinu l pharoh b Mitzrayim

Mark Kleiman: Avodim Hayyinu l’pharoh b’Mitzrayim: "So the Bush Administration is supporting the anti-gay marriage FMA.... And the right-wing media are loudly cheering for Gibson’s Passion, with its blatantly anti-Semitic retelling of the Crucifixion wrapped in a pornography-of-violence package. I wonder whether, now that their own oxen are being gored to right-wing applause, conservative Jews and conservative gays will reflect on the extent to which 'conservatism' as a political practice in American (as opposed to the conservative strand in political thought represented by Burke, Hayek, and Oakeshott) turns out to embody a willingness—and sometimes a gloating eagerness—to stomp on the out-groups...

...The willingness of Jews to stand up for vulnerable non-Jews, which I had always attributed to centuries of being the out-group, turns out on closer examination to be quite deeply rooted in the religion. Last week in the faculty Torah study group at UCLA—which has been fighting its way through Deuteronomy at the rate of about four verses a week for the past decade—we were examining Deut. 24:17-18:

Thou shalt not pervert the justice due to the stranger, or to the fatherless; nor take the widow’s raiment to pledge. But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence; therefore I command thee to do this thing.

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Weekend Reading: Robert Skidelsky on Writing the Biography of John Maynard Keynes: Fifteen Years Ago on the Internet Weblogging

Hoisted from the Archives/Weekend Reading: "Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning. Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies: Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions: Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing: Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations: All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times. There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported.

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Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship in Britain: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted: Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship: "My dear Professor Hayek, Thank you for your letter of 5 February. I was very glad that you were able to attend the dinner so thoughtfully organised by Walter Salomon. It was not only a great pleasure for me, it was, as always, instructive and rewarding to hear your views on the great issues of our time...

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The Royal Proclamation of 1763: Weekend Reading

The French and Indian War National Geographic Society

George III Hanover (1763): The Royal Proclamation of 1763: "BY THE KlNG. A PROCLAMATION: >Whereas We have taken into Our Royal Consideration the extensive and valuable acquisitions in America, secured to our Crown by the late definitive Treaty of Peace, concluded at Paris the 10th day of February last; and being desirous that all Our loving Subjects, as well of our Kingdom as of our Colonies in America, may avail themselves with all convenient Speed, of the great Benefits and Advantages which must accrue therefrom to their Commerce, Manufactures, and Navigation, We have thought fit, with the Advice of our Privy Council, to issue this our Royal Proclamation...

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An Unfinished Note: The Vexed Question of Prussia in World History... II

The proclamation of William I as German Emperor in the Hall of Stock Photo 61637437 Alamy

Reading Adam Tooze's powerpoints for his _War in Germany, 1618-1648 course, and thinking about the Vexed Question of Prussia in World History...

For a bit over the first half of the Long 20th Century global history was profoundly shaped by the peculiarity of Prussia. The standard account of this peculiarity—this sonderweg, sundered way, separate Prussian path—has traditionally seen it has having four aspects. Prussia—and the "small German" national state of which it was the nucleus—managed to simultaneously, over 1865-1945:

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One interesting thing here is that Jonathan Swift was one of the biggest political liars of his generation—the anti-Whig Breitbart of his day, in some respects: Jonathan Swift (2010): Political Lying: "A political liar... ought to have but a short memory.... The superiority of his genius consists in nothing else but an inexhaustible fund of political lies, which he plentifully distributes every minute he speaks, and by an unparalleled generosity forgets, and consequently contradicts, the next half hour. He never yet considered whether any proposition were true or false, but whether it were convenient for the present minute or company.... You... will find yourself equally deceived whether you believe or not: the only remedy is to suppose, that you have heard some inarticulate sounds, without any meaning at all...

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The Fall of Rome: Am I too Much of a Malthusian-Ricardian to Understand It Properly?

American Minute The Fall of Rome Tyranny News

Comment of the Day: in response to Brad DeLong: On Twitter: For whom was the decline and fall of the western Roman Empire that commenced with the Antonine Plague a decline https://t.co/FdZeNjvtCr: Carlos Noreña: @carlosfnorena: "Yes, bad for all of those sectors, and devastating in systemic terms for this large-scale political economy. I also agree with Jongman that what he calls the "resilience" of the Roman central state was remarkable..." I respond: Perhaps my problem is that I am too much a Malthusian-Ricardian to see history straight, but...

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Why Next to No Political Reaction to the Second Gilded Age?: Hoisted from 2012

Il Quarto Stato

Hoisted from 2012: Brad DeLong: Why Next to No Political Reaction to the Second Gilded Age?: Oh dear, that's a really tough question. So let me make it tougher by sharpening it and give it historical context. During the Gilded Age of the 1890s and 1900s you had strong political movements saying "something is going remarkably wrong with this, this isn’t the country we thought we were going to live in". The way that the historian—I'm blanking—Ray Ginger? Harley Shaiken: Yes, Ray Ginger. Brad DeLong: Ray Ginger put it in two absolutely brilliant books—Altgeld’s America and The Age of Excess—even the Republicans thought that they wanted to live in Abe Lincoln’s America, where when you are young you split wood into fence rails and go to law school at night and when you are middle-aged you become a lawyer and get rich and when you are old you enter politics and save the Union and free the slaves. They wanted to live in that kind of world, of upward mobility, in which opportunity is wide open even to the son of a penniless and not very successful rural farmer. But by 1890 they discovered that they weren’t living in Abe Lincoln's America at all...

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Weekend Reading: The Riot Act of 1714

Wikipedia: Riot Act:

If any persons to the number of 12 or more unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assemble together to the disturbance of the public peace, and being required by any justice by proclamation in the King's name in the exact form of the Riot Act, I George I, Sess. 2 c. 5 s. 2, to disperse themselves and peacefully depart, shall to the number of 12 or more unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously remain or continue together for an hour after such proclamation, shall be guilty of a felony.

**The Form of Proclamation is as follows:—

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the Act made in the first year of King George the First for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies.

GOD SAVE THE KING.


#shouldread

Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes on the Baneful Consequences of Ricardo's Rhetorical Victory Over Malthus

John Maynard Keynes and George Bernard Shaw exiting the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1936

John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money: Chapter 3: "The idea that we can safely neglect the aggregate demand function is fundamental to the Ricardian economics, which underlie what we have been taught for more than a century. Malthus, indeed, had vehemently opposed Ricardo’s doctrine that it was impossible for effective demand to be deficient; but vainly. For, since Malthus was unable to explain clearly (apart from an appeal to the facts of common observation) how and why effective demand could be deficient or excessive, he failed to furnish an alternative construction; and Ricardo conquered England as completely as the Holy Inquisition conquered Spain...

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Apropos of the very strange Gertrude Himmelfarb, cf. the attitudes of Edward VII Saxe-Coburg-Gotha "Bertie": Lucy Moore : : "From 1875, when the Prince had been allowed to make a state visit to India, he had begun to grow into his role as King-in-Waiting.... The two main elements... were the magnificent ceremonial... and big game hunting.... Bertie also took his first halting steps in statecraft. He had learned how far his genial charm would carry him; he saw how popular his approachable, easy style could be, and he was thrilled with the response....

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The Grand Strategy of the United States of America: From the Archives from 2003

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted From the Archives from 2003: The Grand Strategy of the United States of America: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: "The economic policy of the Bush administration has been frightening: The deliberate unbalancing of the long-term finances of the U.S. government in the hope of sharpening the funding crisis of the social-insurance state—with the effect of slowing capital formation and economic growth, and increasing the interest of economic crisis. The backing-away from the Republican Party's historic commitment to free trade. The reversal of Newt Gingrich's proudest achievement: the partial reform of the farm subsidy program.

The security policy of the Bush administration has been more than frightening; it has been terrifying...

... At the moment administration insiders are trying to convince elite reporters that the Bush administration did not deceive outsiders about Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program as much as deceive itself—that the highest levels of the Bush administration proved grossly incompetent at the basics. They did not know how to assess intelligence. Nobody had heard of Machiavelli's 500-year-old warning not to trust exiles: "Such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe they fill you with hopes..." Note that this declaration of incompetence is the Bush administration's spin on what happened.

But the most awful and dreadfully terrifying aspect of all has been whenever Bush administration intellectual allies talk about what they see as the motivating theory of the world underlying Bush administration security policy. They call the Clinton Administration naive for believing that international relations is a positive-sum game in which all sides can win. They speak of explicit concern on the part of the United States not just for its absolute but its relative economic power. As the University of Chicago's Dan Drezner puts it, the logic of Bush's National Security Strategy is to "prevent other great powers from rising, in order to ensure the long-term growth of freedom, democracy and prosperity."

But what does "prevent other great powers from rising" mean? What could it possibly mean other than "try to keep China and India desperately poor for as long as possible"—for when China and India close even half the gap in prosperity separating them from the industrial core, their populations alone guarantee that they will be very great powers indeed.

It is certainly not in the interest of world prosperity, or in the interest of China or India, to try to keep them poor. It is not in the national interest of the United States either. The history of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries teaches us that there may well be something uniquely dangerous to world peace and political sanity during the two generations in which a culture is passing from a poor rural agricultural to a rich urban industrial (or post-industrial) economy. Whether the aggressive foreign policy pursued by Wilhelmine Germany, the Leninist and Stalinist agony of Russia, the terrors of Mao, the dictatorships of Mussolini and Franco, or the most monstrous Nazi regime—the twentieth-century transition to industrial society appears to be a very dangerous time both for the citizens of the country in transition and for neighbors and passers-by.

Is it really in the interest of the United States to try to "prevent other great powers from rising" at the cost of lengthening the period of time during which other societies are vulnerable to the devils that afflicted most notably Germany in the twentieth century? Wouldn't the rest of us rather minimize than maximize the time we might be faced with the problem of containing a National Hinduist India, a Wilhelmine China, or a Weimar Russia?

And do the rest of us want the children of China and India to be taught in fifty years that the rich countries at the turn of the twentieth century did all they could to accelerate the growth and increase the prosperity of China and India, or that the rich countries strove to "prevent other great powers from rising"?

It is long past time for a complete change of personnel at all levels of the Bush administration. The world cannot afford to have neoconservatives at high levels of the U.S. government who do not work for global prosperity and peace, but instead for maximum U.S. relative power. Now we do know that there are grownups in the Republican Party—statesmen who work for more rapid economic development, for multilateral cooperation, and for a world in which the United States leads because of its fortunate position rather than dominates because of its military power. They staffed the first Bush administration. Where are they?


#shouldread #security #hoistedfromthearchives

Seminar: James Cloyne: Taxes and Growth: New Narrative Evidence from Interwar Britain: James Cloyne, Nicholas Dimsdale, and Natacha Postel-Vinay: Taxes and Growth: New Narrative Evidence from Interwar Britain: "The impact of fiscal policy on economic activity is still a matter of great debate. And, ever since Keynes first commented on it, interwar Britain, 1918-1939, has remained a particularly contentious case, not least because of its high debt environment and turbulent business cycle...

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Weekend Reading: Keynes Quoting Malthus

John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money: "The doctrine did not reappear in respectable circles for another century, until in the later phase of Malthus the notion of the insufficiency of effective demand takes a definite place as a scientific explanation of unemployment. Since I have already dealt with this somewhat fully in my essay on Malthus, it will be sufficient if I repeat here one or two characteristic passages...

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Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?: Over at the Milken Review

Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression Milken Institute Review

Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?: ...Your parents’—more likely your grandparents’—Great Depression opened with the then-biggest-ever stock market crash, continued with the largest-ever sustained decline in GDP, and ended with a near-decade of subnormal production and employment. Yet 11 years after the 1929 crash, national income per worker was 10 percent above its 1929 level. The next year, 12 years after, it was 28 percent above its 1929 level. The economy had fully recovered. And then came the boom of World War II, followed by the “thirty glorious years” of post-World War II prosperity. The Great Depression was a nightmare. But the economy then woke up—and it was not haunted thereafter.

Our “Great Recession” opened in 2007 with what appeared to be a containable financial crisis. The economy subsequently danced on a knife-edge of instability for a year. Then came the crash — in stock market values, employment and GDP. The experience of the Great Depression, however, gave policymakers the knowledge and running room to keep our depression-in-the-making an order of magnitude less severe than the Great Depression. That’s all true. But it’s not the whole story. The Great Recession has cast a very large shadow on America’s future prosperity. We are still haunted by it... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Weekend Reading: Robert Solow: A Theory Is a Sometime Thing

Robert Solow: A theory Is a Sometime Thing: "Milton Friedman... aims to undermine the eclectic American Keynesianism of the 1950s and 1960s... goes after two... lines of thought. His first claim is that the central bank, the Fed, cannot ‘peg’ the real interest rate... to undermine the standard LM curve.... The Fed can peg the nominal federal funds rate, but not the real rate...

..."These… effects will reverse the initial downward pressure on interest rates fairly promptly, say, in something less than a year. Together they will tend, after a somewhat longer interval, say, a year or two, to return interest rates to the level they would otherwise have had" (Friedman 1968, p. 6). Now we know what ‘peg’ means.... The goal, remember, is to contradict the eclectic American Keynesian... which did not, after all, require the Fed to control real interest rates forever. If the Fed can have meaningful influence only for less than a year or two, then it is surely playing a losing game, especially in view of those ‘long and variable lags.’ Is that really so?...

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Note to Self: Griqua's Prayer https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/06/what-is-griguas-prayer.html

At Versailles, South African Prime Minister Jan Christian Smuts wrote about how he and Keynes sat up night after night and:

rail[ed] against the world and the coming flood. And I tell him that this is the time for Grigua’s Prayer (the Lord to come himself and not to send his Son, as this is not a time for children). And then we laugh, and behind the laughter is [Herbert] Hoover’s horrible picture of thirty million people who must die unless there is some great intervention. But then again we think that things are never really as bad as that; and something will turn up, and the worst will never be. And somehow all these phases of feeling are true and right in some sense… (Robert Skidelsky, Hopes Betrayed, page 373, quoting J.C. Smuts).

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Note to Self: Alan Greenspan and the Bush Tax Cut: Was Alan Greenspan in 2001 playing a subtle reputation-enhancing game—anxious to give testimony that the administration and its press lapdogs would spin as a green-light endorsement, but in which economists like me and financiers like Robert Rubin would be unable to find any sentence that was truly objectionable? Perhaps... Perhaps not...

Let's give the mike to Alan Greenspan, p. 220 ff.:

Bob Rubin phoned.... With a big tax cut, said Bob, "the risk is, you lose the fiscal discipline."... "Bob, where in my testimony do you disagree?"

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Dean Acheson's Lawyer's Brief for the Mid-Twentieth Century Democratic Party: A Historical Document: Weekend Reading

For the Weekend: A Historical Document: Dean Acheson's Lawyer's Brief for the Mid-Twentieth Century Democratic Party: From Dean Acheson (1955): A Democrat Looks at His Party:

p. 23 ff: From the very beginning the Democratic Party has been broadly based... the party of the many... the urban worker; the backwoods merchant and banker; the small farmer... the largelandowners of the South, who saw themselves as being milked by the commerical and financial magnates gathered under Hamilton's banner; the newly arrived immigrants... the party of the underdog.... The many have an important and most relevant characteristic. They have many interests, many points of view, many purposes to accomplish, and a party which represents them will have their many interests, many points of view, and many purposes also. It is this multiplicity of interests which, I submit, is the principal clue in understanding the vitality and endurance of the Democratic Party...

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Dictionary of National Biography: Fitzurse, Reginald: "The eldest son of Richard Fitzurse, on whose death about 1168 he inherited the manor of Williton, Somersetshire (Collinson, iii. 487); he also held the manor of Barham,Kent (Hasted, iii. 536), and lands in Northamptonshire (Liber Niger, p. 216). He is sometimes called a baron, for he held of the king in chief. He was one of the four knights who were stirred up by the hasty words of Henry II to plot the archbishop's death...

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Wikipedia: Aztec Myth: "Ometeotl gave birth to four children, the four Tezcatlipocas, who each preside over one of the four cardinal directions.[citation needed] Over the West presides the White Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, the god of light, mercy and wind. Over the South presides the Blue Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. Over the East presides the Red Tezcatlipoca, Xipe Totec, the god of gold, farming and Spring time. And over the North presides the Black Tezcatlipoca, also called simply Tezcatlipoca, the god of judgment, night, deceit, sorcery and the Earth...

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Ashlie Jensen (2013): Mendoza is Dismissed from Court: "In 1583 Queen Elizabeth I hosted her last Spanish Ambassador.... It became known to Elizabeth's intelligence network that Bernardino de Mendoza was conspiring.... He was ordered to leave England... [because] his involvement in the Throckmorton Plot [had] 'disturbed the realm of England'. Directly before his departure, Mendoza ordered the English officials seeing him off to go and, 'tell your mistress that Bernardino de Mendoza was born not to disturb kingdoms, but to conquer them'...

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Note to Self: Books for Econ 210a: Introduction to Economic History (Spring 2019)

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Willmoore Kendall, Harry Jaffa's Crisis of the House Divided, and the Party of Abraham Lincoln: Hoisted from the Archives

Clowns (ICP)

More about the... rather strange... musings of: Geoffrey Kabaservice: Liberals Don't Know Much About Conservative History: "Buckley’s endorsement of Southern segregation was a moral blot on the conservative movement, and he later acknowledged it as his gravest error. But it’s anti-historical to assume that Buckley was little more than a Klansman with a large vocabulary...

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(Early) Monday Joint Mark Helprin/Ross Douthat/Geoffrey Kabaservice Smackdown!

Clowns (ICP)

I find, on Twitter, the smart Geoff Kabaservice being just weird: Geoff Kabaservice: @RuleandRuin: "POLITICO asked me to expand my tweet previous thread about what liberal historians tend to get wrong about conservatism..." So I go read it, and find a list of 1990s "new voices on the neoconservative/neoliberal front like David Frum, Michael Lind, Andrew Sullivan, Francis Fukuyama, John McWhorter, Richard Brookhiser, Mickey Kaus, Michael Kelly, William Kristol and John Podhoretz..."

And I think: Huh! Wait a minute! Neoliberals aren't conservative! And I think: Mickey Kaus and Michael Kelly were mean and deranged. John Podhoretz and Richard Brookhiser were not smart. Andrew Sullivan and John McWhorter always struck me as more... performance art than anything else. William Kristol was a hack back when he smelled power, but now that he does not is a genuinely quirky, interesting thinker. So are David Frum and Michael Lind. And Francis Fukuyama is a genius—but not a conservative. In general, here—as elsewhere—those who are wise and conservative are not honest, those who are honest and conservative are not wise, and those who are wise and honest and thus worth reading rapidly cease to be conservative. It's like Lasalle's Iron Law of Wages. So I think: Geoff, that's two strikes.

And I read Kabaservice to the end, and find "liberal historians should consider subscribing to the Claremont Review of Books or National Affairs". So I surf on over, and start reading—first Mark Helprin on Charlottesville. And then I stop reading: Mark Helprin: Charlottesville One Year Later: "Enter Antifa, the Communist fascisti as invisible to the mainstream media as were Stalin’s and Mao’s genocides, Castro’s executions, and, with special mention to the New York Times, the Holocaust. They came in ranks: shields, helmets, clubs, etc. But unlike the idiots they came to fight, some of whom had firearms, Antifa had the best weapon of all—well-meaning, overprotected Millennials fed upon virtue signaling..."

I stop readin: when what really gets you mad about Charlottesville is not Nazis and the Klan and "very fine people on both sides", but is rather "Antifa... Communist fascisti... invisible to the mainstream media... well-meaning, overprotected Millennials fed upon virtue signaling..." there is something very wrong with you, mentally and morally—and with the editors who publish you. Denunciations of "virtue signaling" are what people who know they are villains start doing when they think they can no longer pretend to be the good guys.

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Theodore Nash: Creta Capta: Late Minoan II Knossos in Mycenaean History: Weekend Reading

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Following up on: http://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/07/ancient-technologies-of-organization-and-mental-domination-clerks-linear-b-and-the-potnia-of-athens.html: Theodore Nash: Creta Capta: Late Minoan II Knossos in Mycenaean History: "The revolutionary changes on mainland Greece in LH IIB-IIIA which saw the leap from Prepalatial to Palatial society were the result of the Mycenaean presence at LM II Knossos...

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Hoisted from teh Archives: Joseph Schumpeter on "Liquidationism"

Greatdepress banner jpg 650×375 pixels

Today's Economic History: Joseph Schumpeter on "Liquidationism": "Three things strike me while rereading Schumpeter's 1934 "Depressions" (and also his 1927 Explanation of the Business Cycle):

  1. How much smarter Schumpeter is than our modern liquidationists and austerians--he says a great many true things in and amongst the chaff, which is created by his fundamentally mistaken belief that structural adjustment must be triggered by a downturn and a wave of bankruptcies that releases resources into unemployment. How much more fun and useful it would be right now to be debating a Schumpeter right now than the ideologues calling for, say, more austerity for and more unemployment in Greece!

  2. How very strange it is for Schumpeter to be laying out his depressions-cause-structural-change-and-growth theory of business cycles at the very same moment that he is also laying out his entrepreneurs-disrupt-the-circular-flow-and-cause-structural-change-and-growth-theory of enterprise. It is, of course, the second that is correct: Growth comes from entrepreneurs pulling resources into the sectors, enterprises, products, and production methods of the future. It does not come from depressions pushing resources into unemployment. Indeed, as Keynes noted, times of depression and fear of future depression are powerful brakes halting Schumpeterian entrepreneurship: "If effective demand is deficient... the individual enterpriser... is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros.... Hitherto the increment of the world’s wealth has fallen short of the aggregate of positive individual savings; and the difference has been made up by the losses of those whose courage and initiative have not been supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough..."

  3. How Schumpeter genuinely seems to have no clue at all that the business cycle is a feature of a monetary economy--how very badly indeed he needed to learn, and how he never did learn, what Nick Rowe and company teach today about the effects of monetary stringency on economic coordination.

  4. And, finally, how absolutely bonkers liquidationism and austerianism remain...

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Hoisted from the Archives: What Was Karl Marx's Principal Contribution?

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What Was Karl Marx's Principal Contribution?: It really depends on what you mean by "primary contribution"...

Look: Marx started his adult life with an adolescent oppositional stance, an Enlightenment confidence that he was living in the age of humanity's liberation, and a big chip on his shoulder as a German Jew when all the real action seemed to be going on in the west in France (politics) and in Britain (industry).

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Tail Risks

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Tail risks. Can we afford right now to think about tail risks? Probably not: right now what were our tail risks have become head risks, and given them and our day jobs we are all fully absorbed. But if we are going to be spending even a little time thinking about tail risks, the big worry has to be that something happens to cause the Global North to stop investing, as it did in 2008-2009.

Cast your minds back to ten years and two months ago. Back then people were patting themselves on the back; The United States had wound down from its over-the-top overcommitment to housing construction, and had done so without a recession. The Federal Reserve had handled the unpleasantness of mortage-firm, structured-product, and Bear-Stearns bankruptcy. In doing so the Federal Reserve had effectively guaranteed the unsecured debt of every systemically-important commercial and investment bank in and out of New York. The forecast—at least among those who were not close students of Hyman Minsky, an who had not paid attention to Paul Krugman's The Return of Depression Economics—was for at most a small recession, with the balance of risks such that the major risk to the economy—at least in the minds of the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee—was an increase in core inflation.

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Note to Self: "The Song of Everlasting Sorrow" and Historical Patriarchy...

Note to Self: The Song of Everlasting Sorrow and Historical Patriarchy: I was reading, as one does—I do not remember why I was reading this, however—an English translation_ of poet, landlord, scholar, bureaucrat, drunkard Bai Juyi's Song of Everlasting Sorrow. And I was struck by four short lines:

Tang Poems English Translation

The overturning of the natural order as a consequence of the love of Emperor Xuanzong for Lady Yang Guifei was so great that all cross the empire parents wished for girl- rather than boy-children...

This struck me as having obvious bearing on my ["Historical Patriarchy"][] lecture...

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Bai Juyi: Song Of Unending Sorrow: For the Weekend

Bai Juyi: Song Of Unending Sorrow: "China's Emperor, craving beauty that might shake an empire,...

...Was on the throne for many years, searching, never finding,
Till a little child of the Yang clan, hardly even grown,
Bred in an inner chamber, with no one knowing her,
But with graces granted by heaven and not to be concealed,
At last one day was chosen for the imperial household.
If she but turned her head and smiled, there were cast a hundred spells,
And the powder and paint of the Six Palaces faded into nothing.

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Adolf Hitler Interviewed by George Sylvester Viereck in 1923: Weekend Reading

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George Sylvester Viereck: Great interviews of the 20th century: Adolf Hitler: "'When I take charge of Germany, I shall end tribute abroad and Bolshevism at home.' Adolf Hitler drained his cup as if it contained not tea, but the lifeblood of Bolshevism....

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John Hawks: The So-Called Toba Bottleneck Didn't Happen: "The Toba bottleneck idea came from the initial observation that there might be a coincidence between population expansion times and the Toba eruption, made 20 years ago. But many geneticists (including me) quickly pointed out that the dates of population expansion have little connection to the dates of population contraction...

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Big Questions for Left Opposition Social Scientists: Cedarbrook Notes

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Cedarbrook Notes: Occupy had zero impact on austerity budgets. Mont Pelerin was not important because they gathered by a lake, sang “kumbaya”, and felt a sense of solidarity. We should not pretend defeats were victories.

What can we do? I think there are three levels that we ought to be operating on—all, right now, understanding the world rather than trying to change it: understanding policies, understanding mobilizations, and understanding utopia:

  • The first is understanding the effects of policies: the policies adopted between 1980 and 2007 did not have the results that their advocates expected nor the results that their critics expected. We really do need to figure out how to understand what the social world is rather than what the models—both pro and con—in use during the neoliberal era said the social world was.

  • The second is understanding the vicissitude of mobilization. The standard political center-left plans to promote full employment, progressive taxation and social insurance, upward mobility, and infrastructure and public services—equitable growth—all these are things that should meet with near-universal applause. By contrast, con-game kleptocracy in the interest of plutocracy should not get 60 million votes. Fascism—the belief that you need a strong leader who is a bully, because he is your bully, and he will bully your enemies, who may be corporations, foreigners, people who look or think differently, and who are always the rootless cosmopolites—should not be attractive to a 21st-century electorate on any level. Yet, somehow, it, terrifyingly, is. The same social-science models that failed to adequately track the effects of neoliberal policies failed to predict the seductive attractiveness of 21st century neo-fascism. Thus we have two different levels at which we need to understand the societal world: the effects of neoliberal policies, and the possibilities for mobilization.

  • The third is the question of what our Utopia is. How will our different view of the social world change our goals for a good society? Our utopia will almost surely still include full employment, progressive taxation and social insurance, upward mobility, and lots of infrastructure. But it will also include other and deeper objectives—objectives that have not been on the New Deal and social democratic bucket lists.

These three tracks all need to be pushed forward. But they also very much need to be three tracks. And they need to be three different tracks.


Nils Gilman: The Toba Eruption, by Spawning the #Transformationofthehuman Known as Behavioral Modernity...: "'Never before have I encountered someone so gleeful about catastrophe. When we discussed the risk that the Yellowstone supervolcano might blow at any time, Keller’s eyes twinkled. "It’s a fun idea", she said' https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/09/dinosaur-extinction-debate/565769/...

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MOAR Problems with Twitter...

San Francisco Bay

There are more problems with Twitter than the Nazis, the shrillness, the out-of-context mobs, the unhinged rants, the Nazi shrillness, the out-of-context Nazi mobs, the unhinged Nazi rants, the shrill out-of-contezt mobs, the unhinged shrill rants, the out-of-context unhinged rants, the shrill Nazi out-ofcontext mobs, the shrill Nazi unhinged rants, the unhinged rants by Nazi out-of-context mobs, the shrill out-of-context unhinged ranting mobs, and the Nazi shrill unhinged rants by out-of-context mobs.

When something good happens on Twitter, it has no positive externalities: it is too compressed and allusive to be of use to anybody not immediately and directly plugged in—and often it is not even of use to many who are engaged but who cannot follow the compressed and coded 280-character discourse. Back in THE DAY, debates between weblogs produced things of value to a large watching audience, and had large positive externalities.

For example, this day. Great for me and for a few others. But any good for a larger audience?:

Suresh Naidu: @CoreyRobin clarifies the s-word:

Corey Robin: The New Socialists: Socialists hear “the market” and think of the anxious parent... the insurance representative... decree[inig] that the policy... doesn’t cover her child’s appendectomy.... We bow and scrape, flatter and flirt, or worse—just to get that raise or make sure we don’t get fired.... Socialists want to... establish freedom from rule by the boss, from the need to smile for the sake of a sale, from the obligation to sell for the sake of survival.... The biggest boundary today’s socialists are willing to cross is the two-party system.... Democrats are also complicit in the rot of American life. And here the socialism of our moment meets up with the deepest currents of the American past.... It was said that liberalism was freedom plus groceries. The socialist, by contrast, believes that making things free makes people free.... Socialism is not journalists, intellectuals or politicians armed with a policy agenda.... It is workers who get us there, who decide what and where “there” is. That, too, is a kind of freedom. Socialist freedom.

Rakesh Bhandari: You mean the s-d compound word, right? And it's a pretty weak s-d too insomuch as the promise here seems to be that universal health insurance would make it easier for some employees to escape more-than-ordinarily abusive bosses. Not really the socialist critique of capitalism! It's pretty much the end of ideology where the leftist Jacobin and the Nobel economist both agree that capitalism can be fixed by universal health insurance that makes it easier to leave extraordinarily abusive bosses and restrictions on arbitrary sacks. Yet catastrophes await

Brad DeLong: Steering by the Socialist Idols in the Heavens Leads Us to Sail Not Towards but Away from the Shores of Utopia: (Early) Monday Corey Robin Smackdown: Robin writes of "the anxious parent, desperate not to offend the insurance representative on the phone, lest he decree that the policy she paid for doesn’t cover her child’s appendectomy". But that is not a problem with "the market": that is a problem with bureaucracy. National health systems face the same problems and make the same kinds of decisions with respect to "medical appropriateness" as do private insurers. Robin writes of freedom from "the need to smile for the sake of a sale". But that is not a problem with "the market": that is a problem with the need we have for a complex division of labor in order to be a rich society, in the context of the very human fact that people will not be eager to deal with you as a cooperative partner if you are a misanthropic grouch. The market provides a partial way around the unfreedoms generated by institutions of bureaucratic organization and social cooperation.... [But] the market pays attention to the wealthy and only the wealthy. But the problem then is one of poverty—that we have managed to arrange a very wealthy society in such a way that it has a lot of not-wealthy people in it. Contrary to what Robin claims, utopia is indeed the liberal dream of freedom plus groceries—with "groceries" standing in for enough wealth to route yourself around the unfreedoms created by bureaucracy and by your own misanthropic nature when they bind too tightly...

Cosma Shalizi: In Soviet Union, Optimization Problem Solves You: Capitalism, the market... bureaucracy... democratic polity... can be... cold monster[s].... We... live among these alien powers... try to direct them to human ends... find the specific ways in which these powers we have conjured up are hurting us, and use them to check each other.... Sometimes... more... market mechanisms, sometimes... removing... goods and services from market allocation.... Sometimes... expanding... democratic decision-making... and sometime... narrowing its scope.... Leaving some tasks to experts... recognizing claims of expertise to be mere assertions of authority... complex problems, full of messy compromises. Attaining even second-best solutions is going to demand “bold, persistent experimentation”, coupled with a frank recognition that many experiments will just fail, and that even long-settled compromises can, with the passage of time, become confining obstacles...

Suresh Naidu: The Shalizi and Robin essays are complements not substitutes. Borrowing your language: Corey is showing the undemocratic nature of negishi weighted swfs; Cosma is saying all feasibly computed swf are inefficient (criticizing both planning and markets).

Brad DeLong: Touché... Except that Corey's examples are flaws of bureaucracy and of the modes of sociability ("smile for a sale"), not flaws of market—which are externality, moral hazard, monopoly, negishi values, etc. Getting rid of markets won't tame bureaucracy or change modes of sociability.

Ilyana Kuziemko: Suresh to borrow our fave example of powerlessness and “nonfreedom,” I wonder if there is more joyless, dutiful laughing at the bad jokes of superiors in capitalism or socialism...

Brad DeLong: Now that is genuinely funny...

Ilyana Kuziemko: There is a hell a lot of it under capitalism! :)

Steven Klein: Freedom as non-domination-Pettit is in the background. I think just saying "its bureaucracy" underestimates the difference between a for-profit companies bureaucracy and government health care subject to public accountability, however attenuated. And what about this core example: "we’re forced to submit to the boss"? There's an interesting debate about whether freedom as non-domination—being free not just from external restraints but from subordination—is furthered or hindered by the market: https://t.co/goUG5FkwRF. Robert Taylor defends market freedom: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/exit-left-9780198798736?cc=us&lang=en&. Gourevitch argues basically you need full workplace democracy to realize freedom: https://t.co/hWZJCE4QEg. And I advance basically a left-wing social democratic critique of Pettit and Taylor (although Pettit would say he is closer to my position than I think he is): https://t.co/Q720I6724Q.

Suresh Naidu: I find that Taylor book interesting, in that he basically rests his case on an ideal of perfect competition/complete contracts. If real world markets are rife with deviations from that (e.g. monopsony and efficiency wages), I think the neo-republican case for markets falls apart.

Rakesh Bhandari: I think the language Robin is reaching for to describe his annoyingly vague sense of freedom can be found in Sen's and Nussbaum's capability approach. I think you need that before you can coherently critique welfare functions 1 reply 1 retweet 0 likes Reply 1 Retweeted 1 Like Direct message

Steven Klein: It's freedom as non-domination-Pettit is in the background. I think just saying "its bureaucracy" underestimates the difference between a for-profit companies bureaucracy and government health care subject to public accountability, however attenuated.

Brad DeLong**: There are failures of insurance that are market failures—the inability to purchase insurance because of moral hazard is a big one. But "bureaucracy" ain't one. To pretend getting rid of markets will cure bureaucracy takes you in a very bad direction...

Steven Klein: Right, but I think the difference is between decisions on treatment being opaque and nebulous and them being made through some public procedure. Yes, public health systems ration - they key is in how the rationing is done.

Suresh Naidu: There are real limits to the traditional neo-republican notion of freedom when it comes to big impersonal institutions. i.e. the problem is the discretion/caprice available to the bureaucrat/boss, not the institutional logic being implemented by the bureaucrat/boss.

Brad DeLong: But the institutional logic can be as alienating and as large a source of unfreedom as the caprice of the boss... Cf.: Ursula K. LeGuin: The Dispossessed, passim...

Suresh Naidu: "Freedom as non-domination". Absolutely.

Rakesh Bhandari: Eduardo Porter gave the disturbing example of old age homes that go private overprescribing medications that rob the elderly of many of their remaining conscious hours so that they require fewer staff members to take care of them.

Steven Klein: when it comes to health care, I'd take a government quisling terrified of breaking the rules over some precarious worker incentivized to find ways to deny claims or limit payments

Suresh Naidu: Right, assuming the bureaucrat doesn't have any discretion, and is just implementing the agenda of his employer, it matters whether her employer is a democratic government or a profit-maximizing firm. But you can imagine both democratic or market failures that could go either way.

Scotrt Ashworth: This is where I declare Brad a better empirical political scientist than Steven.

Steven Klein: Give me my political theory idealizations :)

Scott Ashworth: If your defense of Corey here is that BS-ish but inspirational talk is politically valuable and the NYT is for politics not intellectualism, I will concede defeat. 😏

Suresh Naidu: Why is it BS-ish? I think it's putting in public an academic conversation about freedom and markets that has been happening for awhile.

Suresh Naidu: Scott, is it because there is no distinctive market/nonmarket solution to bureaucratic agency problems, so scope for arbitrary whims remain constant?

Pseudoerasmus: I'm sympathetic to the healthcare example but I wonder how much of the “smiling for the boss” stuff is really about having to deal with tyrannical employers who can threaten your livelihood, rather than just middle-class intellectuals’ distaste for hustling to acquire luxuries...

Brad DeLong: But the health care example is a problem with bureaucracy! Not with the market! We know where socialists who destroy the markets in an attempt to deal with the evils of bureaucracy wind up, and it is not a good place!'

Pseudoerasmus: I totally agree with that! Socialism does not eliminate people’s subjections to other people’s whims; but the guy thinks ‘democracy’ will, I guess.

Brad DeLong: But "democracy" subjects all minorities to the whims of the demos. The demos serves you a hemlock cocktail, you drink a hemlock cocktail...

Suresh Naidu: The neo-repubs have a broader definition of democracy than majoritarianism....in including robust checks and balances/civil rights

Ilyana Kuziemko: As we were discussing, I think the freedom argument is a clever argument in that it neutralizes a common defense of capitalism but isn’t an effective central theme for socialism...

Brad DeLong: Say, rather, that power is minimized by having multiple societal organizing mechanisms—wealth and market, direct democratic, representative democratic, by lot, technocratic, cultural, ideological affinity. The key is to keep one from subsuming all the others, as one or the other is wont to do...

Suresh Naidu: Yes I like this.... It's a variant of Walzer's spheres of justice..but in means putting up barricades against "markets in everything"...

Ilyana Kuziemko: Wasnt that Uncle Milton’s argument? That economic inequality helped check government tyranny by creating a separate power center? But then we got Citizens United.

Brad DeLong: Yep. And indeed...

Brad DeLong: Yes. Immense barricades...

Ilyana Kuziemko: Like confiscatory marginal tax rates on income over some very small multiple of one million or what?

Brad DeLong: Yup... But, as I said, Corey’s implicit claim that bureaucratic and mode-of-societal-cooperation forms of domination would melt away if not for "the market" strikes me as false and jejune. As I said: needed editorial attention... Read Cosma Shalizi instead...

Steven Greenhouse: Why so many young Americans are attracted to Socialism, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Rakesh Bhandari: Except it's wrong. Clinton whom these new socialists (sic) hate proposed wildly progressive income taxes, stricter regulations on shadow banking than the putative socialist Sanders, and a massive green infrastructure program. They did everything to alienate the left from her.

Manu Saadia: More on the @CoreyRobin article and @de1ong rejoinder. To PK "socialism with American characteristics" is Western European social democracy…

Paul Krugman: Corey Robin and... Neil Irwin... get at a lot of what’s wrong with the neoliberal ideology... [of] low taxes and minimal regulation... that free markets translate into personal freedom.... In fact, the daily experience of tens of millions of Americans – especially but not only those who don’t make a lot of money – is one of constant dependence on the good will of employers and other more powerful economic players.... And it’s even more naïve now than it was a few decades ago, because, as Irwin points out, large economic players are dominating more and more of the economy.... What can be done about it? Corey Robin says “socialism” – but as far as I can tell he really means social democracy: Denmark, not Venezuela. Government-mandated employee protections may restrict the ability of corporations to hire and fire, but they also shield workers from some very real forms of abuse. Unions do somewhat limit workers’ options, but they also offer an important counterweight against corporate monopsony power. Oh, and social safety net programs can do more than limit misery: they can be liberating. I’ve known many people who stuck with jobs they disliked for fear of losing health coverage; Obamacare, flawed as it is, has noticeably reduced that kind of “lock in”, and a full guarantee of health coverage would make our society visibly freer.... Seriously, do the real differences between New York and Florida make New Yorkers less free?... If you’re a highly paid professional, it probably doesn’t make much difference. But my guess is that most workers feel at least somewhat freer in New York than they do in FL. Now, there are no perfect answers to the inevitable sacrifice of some freedom that comes with living in a complex society; utopia is not on the menu. But the advocates of unrestricted corporate power and minimal worker protection have been getting away for far too long with pretending that they’re the defenders of freedom–which is not, in fact, just another word for nothing left to lose...


As we try to figure out how to create a functional rather than a dysfunctional Habermasian public sphere to support at least semi-sane policies, I find it useful to look back at how previous functional and dysfunctional public spheres emerged and maintained themselves. The general view—which may be false—is that the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment did pretty well. And it had one of its wellsprings in the development of new genres, all of which she argues were in some way created as echoes and transformations of the personal letter. Well worth reading: Rachael Scarborough King: Writing to the World: Letters and the Origins of Modern Print Genres: "Rachael Scarborough King examines the shift from manuscript to print media culture in the long eighteenth century...

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