Introducing Partha Dasgupta: Economics: A Very Short Introduction: "At most 8% of the world's population has a standard of living more than half of today's U.S. median. Rejoice: the world today is so much fabulously richer than it was in 1800. That is a miracle. Recoil: our knowledge—of how to run governments; of how to organize markets, firms, and property; and of how to apply science and technology—is so sketchily and unevenly distributed around the world, leaving only a small part of it as what we would see as rich and huge chunks of it as what we do see as desperately poor, is a scandal, and a crime against humanity. But what is to be done about this crime against humanity?...
Comment of the Day: Yes, the failure modes of making jam are pretty scary: Graydon on Homer's Odyssey and David Drake's Hammer's Slammers: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While...": "I think you're missing the central thing about Drake's writing. It is not so much that, yeah, these are not the best circumstances and our feels are in abeyance; that happens, that's depicted. But among that depiction you get what I think of as the essential Drake thing, which is a vehicle crew. They may not like each other much; they may not, in some senses of the word, trust one another. But they are entirely predictable to one another, and reliable. And it's that obligation of reliability that lets people get their head out of hell... 2019-07-29
Note to Self: Is there somebody I should read who has thought deeply and powerfully about these issues?: Homer's Odyssey Blogging: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While...": I love [David] Drake. I love the Odyssey. But I am distressed to find myself somewhat more sympathetic than I want to be with Plato's recommendation that only "hymns to the gods and praise of famous men" be allowed in the Just City because allowing more would lead to sensation and melodrama and would excite the baser instincts of men. And I have now opened up the following can of worms: How do we educate people to read—listen—watch—properly, so that they become their better rather than their worse selves? Mind you, I do not wish that the Odyssey were otherwise (or that David Drake wrote otherwise). But I do wish we teachers taught better how to read—and listen—and watch... 2019-07-29
Emily R.C. Wilson: The Murder of the Slave Women in the Odyssey: "After one of my recent 'Conversation' interviews (in Sydney), someone asked me if the hanging of the slave women in the Odyssey is 'right'.... (1) Do I, Emily Wilson, personally think it's right to murder women because of any sexual behavior, even if they were 100% empowered and responsible for whatever it was? Easy question. No. (2) Do Odysseus and Telemachus think it's right? Yes, but let's define what kind of 'right'. Odysseus presents the slaughter of the suitors as just punishment. Murder of the slaves is presented differently: it's about being respected and controlling memories and (re) gaining power. Telemachus switches up the murder instrument (from swords to cable), and introduces a different kind of 'rightness': he associates the killing with getting rid of dirt from the house. It's right to take out trash, but not the same kind of 'right' as self-defense or vengeance. (3) Does THE TEXT show (consistently?) that it's right? Tough question, not skippable. Narrative shows us why Odysseus and Telemachus want them dead. It also shows us what it feels like for them to be terrified and strung up (bird simile). They don't feel their deaths as 'right'. Is their pain & their deaths, and the horrible torture and murder of Melanthius, presented as justifiable in the grand scheme of things—a necessary cost for the restoration of Odysseus's household in something like its original state? Maybe. Maybe not. Important grey area... 2019-07-29
Homer's Odyssey Blogging: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While...": David Drake has one interpretation of this: that the Iron Age listeners who are applauding (or at least those who are rewarding and feeding) the poetic bards approve of heroes with the "worldviews of death camp guards" because those who have managed to become, thrive, and remain the telestai skillfully apply brutal punishments and generous rewards to hold their little piece of order together with themselves at the top in the wrack after the collapse of Bronze Age civilization.... Emily Wilson... has had a different life... and so she "fills in the details from the hints" in a very different way. She agrees that Odysseus and Telemakhos believe that they are doing what is necessary—δικη—and perhaps even righteous: the kind of thing a man with a comprehensive understanding of the situation—πολυμαχοσ—would do. But in her view the text goes further, and allows and encourages an identification and empathy with the murdered slavewomen.... And it will have provoked a catharsis of pity and fear in all listeners, even back then, as it does with us today... 2019-07-29
Talk: Where Frank Fukuyama Went Wrong; or, Zombie Fascism!! 2019-05-10
The State of America's Political-Public Sphere: Those who have made accomodation with neo-fascism to any substantial degree are not people you want around—they will, for one reason or another, stab you in the back the first moment that it seems opportune #publicsphere #politics #moralresponsibility moralphilosophyinamerica journamalismandthepublicsphere 2019-02-27
Rand Paul: Protecting Property Holders’ Rights to Discriminate on the Basis of Race: "Is the Hard Part About Believing in Freedom...": Dismantling the New Deal and rolling back the social insurance state were not ideas that had much potential political-economy juice back in the 1950s and 1960s. But if the economic libertarian cause of dismantling the New Deal could be harnessed to the cause of white supremacy—if one of the key liberties that libertarians were fighting to defend was the liberty to discriminate against and oppress the Negroes—than all of a sudden you could have a political movement that might get somewhere...
A Lazy New Year's Eve Morn on Twitter...: ou start out reading somebody, and then they have an unhealthy fascination with: genetic racial differences in IQ, or with how “public accommodation” doctrine is a grave and illegitimate overreach, or know too much about the muzzle velocity of the Nazi armored battlewagon four. I have found that if someone identified as a libertarian there was an unhealthy chance they would like to hang out with one of these groups. Better, I think, in a benefit-cost sense, to confine you’re reading and interaction to people who say that they feel the strength of libertarian arguments but who accept the label only with many many asterisks... #publicsphere #economicsgonewrong #moralphilosophy #ontwitter
Hoisted from the Archives from 1999: DeLong's Principles Of Neoliberalism: Thanks to Miniver Cheevy for Formatting: The "neoliberalism" I was talking about then is a relatively distant cousin (but was a cousin) of what people are calling "neoliberalism" today..
Interesting euphemisms in this twitter thread from the very sharp but strangely blinkered Geoff Kabaservice: Kabaservice sees conservative political energy back in the age of Nixon-Ford-Carter-Reagan coming from "liberal overreach and failure" on "crime, foreign policy, and the economy" plus "outraged public opinion" because of liberals' policies on "busing, affirmative action, welfare, and feminism". Jonathan Chait parries that the energy for conservatives' 1980s victories was racial—that it was no accident that Reagan started his campaign in Philadelphia, MS, and there did not say what he did not say...
Hoisted from the Archives: Reading: Homer, Odysseus, Emily Wilson, David Drake: Let me riff off of something that crossed my desk.... Emily Wilson's reflections on her translation of the Odyssey, and on the Odyssey itself. There is one passage that always has been, to me at least, horrifyingly freaky in a very bad way... #moralresponsibility #cognition #odyssey #homer #hoistedfromthearchives || moralphilosophyinamerica 2018-12-28
Moral Philosophy in America