Being on the left is merely a vanity project

I am off to the first ever Heterodox Academy meeting in New York which almost overlaps with the meeting of the American History of Economics Society meeting which is also in New York. When I’m in New York I always go here, which I like even more now that I understand the entrepreneurial vision of its owner. She must be the last of her kind among the Democrats.

Chaser: New York City Landmarks Historic Bookstore The Strand Over Owner’s Objections.

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Committee (LPC) just wouldn’t take no for an answer. The group has conferred landmark status on the 119-year-old building at 826 Broadway, which has housed The Strand Bookstore since 1956. The owners of The Strandbought the building in the late 1990s and the third-generation owner of the store, Nancy Bass Wyden, opposed the action, telling Reason earlier this year:

The Strand is not going anywhere. There’s no need to protect it. Our family’s been a great steward of the building. Landmarking would add another component of government. You add bureaucracy, you add committees, you add people having opinions about what we should do inside the store as well as outside the store. And that does not allow me the flexibility to change with the retail book environment and to serve our customers.

Bass Wyden (who is married to Sen. Ron Wyden, the Democrat from Oregon) presented 11,000 signatures to the LPC in hopes of dissuading landmark status. Such popular support for what is generally considered New York’s best bookstore cut no mustard.

Being on the left is merely a vanity project. How what they do affects everyone else hardly matters at all, to them.

Corruption and criminality

A fantastic series of posts from today that outline not just the corruption but outright criminality among the left in the United States in which they have used the levers of the Federal Government to attack their enemies and benefit themselves. Start here with a story found nowhere else I could see: True the Vote Wins Stunning Court Ruling Against IRS in Lois Lerner Scandal.

The True the Vote v. IRS lawsuit has finally come to a close with a stunning ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton ruling in favor of True the Vote; penalizing the IRS with maximum attorneys fees due to their unconstitutional discrimination against the group and their unethical behavior in the case.

This decision marks the end of a nearly decade long battle that first began in 2010, when federal government agencies including the IRS, DOJ, FBI, ATF, OSHA weaponized against True the Vote and its founder, Catherine Engelbrecht. Under Obama Administration leadership, the agencies leveled a barrage of attacks, including twenty-three audits, investigations, and inquiries, against the group in an attempt to stop their work in election integrity. “

At one point the IRS got Child Services to try to take Ms. Engelbrechts’ children from her—this is how vicious Lerner and the crowd became, to stop honest elections. To stop those exposing the corruption of elections.

There is then this: Investigation finds Ilhan Omar illegally used campaign funds to pay lawyers related to allegations that she married her brother.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is facing financial penalties for campaign finance violations following a Thursday ruling from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

Which may be supplemented by this: WHEN THE CAT HAS OMAR’S TONGUE. Which gets into her fraudulent marriages and tax fraud.

She held out Ahmed Hirsi as her husband on her campaign site and elsewhere. We found that Omar had legally married Elmi in 2009 and wondered if he was her brother. Omar remained married to him from 2009 to 2017. Although Omar has three children with Hirsi, Omar never did marry him until last year….

Although she didn’t marry Hirsi until last year, Omar has held Hirsi out as her husband at all times since she became a public figure. Over what period of time did Omar and Hirsi file joint tax returns? My guess is that it runs back to 2002. We know she filed joint tax returns with Hirsi while she was still married to Elmi. In addition to the IRS issues, the questions intersect with those arising from Omar’s marriage to Elmi.

Then there’s this: Profiles in Treason Bruce and Nellie Ohr.

The latest emails and memos uncovered shows clearly that Fusion GPS, hired by Hillary Clinton and the DNC in an attempt to destroy the Trump candidacy was assisted in its agenda by the FBI the DOJ and the intelligence agencies of the Obama administration. The notes, some of which are from Associate Deputy District Attorney Bruce Ohr, whose contact was Deputy AG Sally Yates. Bruce Ohr was demoted four times since the investigation began, at least twice for failing to disclose his involvement with figures associated with the unverified dossier from Fusion GPS. Sally Yates was fired for insubordination and refusing to implement a legal order from the President. Both are members of the Deep State Resistance doing everything they can to usurp the power of President Trump.

Finally, in the midst of actual criminality and fraud, there is this question over possibly the most-investigated political leader of modern times, A Serious Question For Democrats: What Exactly Was Trump’s Crime?.

Democrats need to answer the question. Impeach Trump for what?

Specifically, what law did our President violate?

If you asked any one of them, really pressed them, they wouldn’t be able to come up with an actual crime. Trump is so vile and we are so virtuous and enlightened will no longer cut it.

And a reminder we are this week celebrating the 70th anniversary of the publication of Orwell’s 1984: George Orwell’s prescient novel 1984 is turning 70 and only growing more relevant with age. To add to how fantastic this is, truly space age incredible, the article is from our ABC.

Inventing the individual has a long history

Here’s a book you might consider if you are interested in seeing the world in a different way: Inventing the Individual.

Here, in a grand narrative spanning 1,800 years of European history, a distinguished political philosopher firmly rejects Western liberalism’s usual account of itself: its emergence in opposition to religion in the early modern era. Larry Siedentop argues instead that liberal thought is, in its underlying assumptions, the offspring of the Church. Beginning with a moral revolution in the first centuries CE, when notions about equality and human agency were first formulated by St. Paul, Siedentop follows these concepts in Christianity from Augustine to the philosophers and canon lawyers of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, and ends with their reemergence in secularism―another of Christianity’s gifts to the West.

Inventing the Individual tells how a new, equal social role, the individual, arose and gradually displaced the claims of family, tribe, and caste as the basis of social organization. Asking us to rethink the evolution of ideas on which Western societies and government are built, Siedentop contends that the core of what is now the West’s system of beliefs emerged earlier than we commonly think. The roots of liberalism―belief in individual freedom, in the fundamental moral equality of individuals, in a legal system based on equality, and in a representative form of government befitting a society of free people―all these were pioneered by Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages who drew on the moral revolution carried out by the early Church. These philosophers and canon lawyers, not the Renaissance humanists, laid the foundation for liberal democracy in the West.

And there is more here as well.

Henry Arthur Jones

Henry Arthur Jones (1851-1929) has not entirely faded into history as is attested to by the existence of his Wikipedia entry. A prolific playwright from the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, about whom Oscar Wilde said this:

“There are three rules for writing plays. The first rule is not to write like Henry Arthur Jones; the second and third rules are the same.”

My acquaintance with Mr Jones has come through my just having finished reading his wondrous 1921 political tract, My Dear Wells: A Manual for the Haters of England, whose perspective is perhaps better displayed by its subtitle, “Being a Series of Letters Upon Bolshevism, Collectivism, Internationalism, and the Distribution of Wealth Addressed to Mr H.G. Wells”. So whatever rules there may be about writing plays, the three rules for writing political tracts might be summarised as: the first rule is to write like Henry Arthur Jones; the second and third rules would then be the same.

What is particularly wondrous is that the book could have come off the press this morning, how up-to-date he is in singling out the fools on the left who seem not to have learned a thing in the hundred years since then. Mr Jones was infuriated by Wells’s support for Lenin and the Revolution which had just then taken place in Russia. I had not been aware that the horrors that were visited upon the Russian people had been immediately recognised for what they were and discussed across the world. Jones’ replies to Wells’s own writings highlights the cruel indifference typically shown by the left, seen today in how the horrors in Venezuela are being downplayed by the media and the socialists amongst us. Other people’s tragedies must never be allowed to impede progressives in their will to visit the same tragedies on us as well. The left were vile then and are equally vile now. Here is a bit to see just how contemporary it all is:

Make a list of the richest and most powerful men in Western European and American civilization. Quite a large number of them are men who have made themselves rich and powerful, not by intercepting the wealth and influence that other men have created for mankind, but by their own conspicuous ability, by severe self-denial, by thrift, by constant strain of hard thought and hard work. By these means many of them have created vast quantities of wealth for others, and have eased the conditions of living for large populations of workers, and have otherwise conferred lasting benefits on their fellows. I do not say that some of these rich and powerful men may not have received larger rewards than were justly their due, I do not say that some of them may not have gained some of their wealth by dishonest means. There is no possible way of adjusting any scale of measurement. The thing for you to notice is that in your Collectivist State you are not likely to have many of these benefactors, for in denying them the rewards of money, power, honour and influence, you take away from them all incentive to train their natural ability, to practise thrift and self-denial, to scorn base trivial delights, and to spend themselves in constant thought and labour. Notice the result in Russia of suppressing and persecuting out of existence this enterprising type. (Jones 1921: 183)

Socialists never change. Grasping, greedy and envious to the end, ignorant even of the basics on how wealth is created so that what is produced may be shared out amongst us. These socialists are the curse of the earth.

LET ME ADD THIS: Via Instapundit this morning: Your Socialism Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad. The promise of free stuff plus “equality” has a powerful attraction many find hard to resist. Now we also add in containing climate change as one more part of the socialist magic act. Just vote us in and we will tax and spend our way to stopping the seas from rising.

They look just like us because they were just like us

From Ace of Spades

They Shall Not Grow Old is a remarkable documentary on the experiences of trench soldiers during World War I. It takes no stance on the causes of the war, the running of the war, or its closure. It is focused, laser like, on what the individual soldier went through from the run up to the war to going home.

Directed by Peter Jackson, who has a particular interest in the war based on his family’s history (his grandfather served in an English regiment) that had extended to collecting paraphernalia of the war from uniforms to infantry weapons to actual artillery. When the Imperial War Museum reached out to him about doing something for the armistice’s 100th anniversary, Jackson jumped in with both feet. Using footage solely from the IWM’s archives, he had his team of special effects technicians clean up the 100 year old images, colorize them, and provide a third dimension. The technical effects really are remarkable. Clear, bright images of a world long lost to time, the soldiers look as present today as they must have in newsreels back then. Over all of these images lay the voices of actual soldiers recounting their stories in snippets (recorded in the 50s).

The movie’s story follows a generic path through the war. It’s really the story of every English infantryman from the heady days of excitement that lead to war breaking out, through the early days of movement, to settling into trench life, a battle (which is accomplished visually through contemporary illustrated images), and the wind-down of war and going home. We never learn a single soldier’s name, and we rarely see the same soldier’s face twice. This, to me, had the makings of creating distance between audience and subject. It’s my problem with Battleship Potemkin. However, in They Shall Not Grow Old, the use of the voices of the soldiers themselves is what bridges that gap. We begin to recognize voices, and hear the pain, joy, elation, and reflections on the mundane from the men who experienced it themselves. Matched with that is the extremely respectful tone that the movie takes.

One scene has stayed with me more than any other in the months since I’ve seen the movie. We see some soldiers hiding down a slope from a raging battle above. They are waiting for the call to move up and contribute. As they wait, they talk, they smoke, and they look directly at the camera. In some of them, it seems as though they know they are about to die, which, we know, they are.

Jackson did a great thing by bringing this film to screen. They Shall Not Grow Old is a great achievement in special effects, but also in making a century old war immediate and emotional in a way that I’ve never seen before. There are World War I movies that I love (Paths of Glory in particular), but none of what I’ve seen has made the experiences of the individual soldier so understandable in such vivid terms as what Jackson has accomplished.

The movie is available to stream now, and I highly recommend it.

Herodotus was right once again

Bust of Herodotus

My favourite book of all time is Herodotus’s Histories. The first ever book of history, it tells the story of the war between the Greeks and the Persians in the fifth century BC for the survival of Western Civilisation before it had even commenced its journey. A storyteller who travelled everywhere to gather personal accounts of what others had witnessed, but with so much ancillary information and irrelevant tales about everything under the sun – including about the first people ever to have sailed around Africa which you know was true because they had observed that the sun eventually was no longer to their south but at some stage was found to their north. Lots and lots and lots like that, including some of the most astute philosophical, political and historical reflections you will ever read. Amazing book, but I can imagine not to everyone’s tastes. It’s also a reminder that you should get your reading in early since as you get older, you don’t have the patience you had when you were young.

Ah but this is merely prelude to: Nile shipwreck discovery proves Herodotus right – after 2,469 years.

In the fifth century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt and wrote of unusual river boats on the Nile. Twenty-three lines of his Historia, the ancient world’s first great narrative history, are devoted to the intricate description of the construction of a “baris”.

For centuries, scholars have argued over his account because there was no archaeological evidence that such ships ever existed. Now there is. A “fabulously preserved” wreck in the waters around the sunken port city of Thonis-Heracleion has revealed just how accurate the historian was.

“It wasn’t until we discovered this wreck that we realised Herodotus was right,” said Dr Damian Robinson, director of Oxford University’s centre for maritime archaeology, which is publishing the excavation’s findings. “What Herodotus described was what we were looking at.”

Known as The Father of Lies (as well as the Father of History) because of his many fantastical tales, but appears that this one has turned out to be true. As for the book itself, it tells the story of the preservation of Western Civilisation that might have been snuffed out before it had even begun.

The Making of Modern Economics

From someone who gets Keynes and Say’s Law.

Greetings from Mark Skousen to my friends in the Mont Pelerin Society.

As you know, socialism has suddenly become all the rage with the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (whom I call Castro-lite) here in the United States and in Europe.

Don’t think for a moment that the New Socialists are a flash in the pan.

The Green New Deal, Modern Monetary Policy, Medicare for All, and Free College are all being taken seriously by students, politicians, and media, unworkable and inflationary as they are.

Sanders is running for President in 2020 and would consider Ocasio-Cortez as his running mate, if she were eligible (she’s only 29 years old).

How do you fight a bad idea? With a better idea!  It’s time to start a campaign to promote the best of capitalism and free-market economics.

The Economist is convinced that pro-market forces “have all too often given up the battle of ideas” (Feb 22 issue of “The Rise of Millennial Socialism”)

Let’s hope not!

How to fight back?   I’ve started a campaign to promote my book,

“The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas of the Great Thinkers.”  

Now published by Routledge in a new third edition, it’s been endorsed by Milton Friedman, Roger Garrison, Peter Boettke, Ken Schoolland and many other members of the society.

It tells the unique story of Adam Smith, the founder of free-market capitalism, and how his “system of natural liberty” comes under attack by the Marxists, Keynesians, and socialists, and is often left for dead, but then is resuscitated by the French laissez-faire school, and the Austrians and the Chicago school, and triumphs in the end.

It has five chapters that rip apart the arguments that the Socialists and the Keynesians make.

It has converted many Marxists to free-market capitalists, and one reviewer calls it “the most devastating critique of Keynesian economics ever written.”

Most importantly, my book introduces the reader to the great defenders of free-market capitalism, including Adam Smith, the French laissez-faire school, and the Austrian and Chicago schools (as represented by Mises, Hayek and Friedman).

Last November, I started the campaign by purchasing a full page ad in The Economist and received hundreds of orders from around the world. You can see the ad here: http://mskousen.com/2018/11/the-economist-publishes-new-ad-for-making-of-modern-economics/.

The Ayn Rand Institute recently ranked it the #2 most important book ever written about economics (just behind Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson”).

It won the Choice Book Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence.

It’s been translated into six languages — in Chinese (twice), Spanish (Union Editorial), Turkish, Mongolian, Vietnamese, and Arabic.

Students, fellow economists, and business leaders are fans. Professor Roger Garrison (Auburn U) says, “My students love it.  Skousen makes the history of economics come alive like no other textbook.”

“Skousen gets the story ‘right’ and does it in an entertaining fashion, without dogmatic rantings.” – Peter Boettke, George Mason University.

The late Milton Friedman wrote, “All histories of economics at BS –Before Skousen!  Lively and accurate, a sure bestseller.”

John Mackey, CEO, Whole Foods Markets, said, “I have read it three times. It’s fun to read on every page. I love this book and have recommended it to dozens of my friends.”

And the late William F. Buckley Jr. told me, “I champion your book to everyone.  I keep it by my bedside and refer to it often.  Every student should have a copy.”

The story behind this book is quite extraordinary. You can read it here: http://mskousen.com/2018/10/adam-smith-and-the-making-of-modern-economics/.

“The Making of Modern Economics” is a 500-page book available in hardback, paperback, Kindle, or audio.  The quality paperback retails $53.95 by Routledge and $43.74 on Amazon, but you can buy it for only $35 directly from Skousen Books, including postage. I will autograph each copy and mail it for free. (For orders outside the US, add $30 for airmail shipping.) To order, call Harold at Skousen Books, 1-866-254-2057. Or order online at www.skousenbooks.com.

I was interviewed on C-SPAN Book TV about “The Making of Modern Economics.” Watch the 20-minute interview here:  https://www.c-span.org/video/?307279-1/the-making-modern-economics.

We can win the battle of ideas. Let the campaign begin!

Yours for peace, prosperity, and liberty, AEIOU.

Writing books for boys

This is a comment at the Instapundit thread on George Korda: Are men the new marginalized minorities on campus?

What Glenn is referring to I see, and have seen for close to 20 yrs in of all places my P/T job at B&N – the children’s Department is a mecca for girls, take any 100 books and 98 are written for them, their interests, story lines, be it noble heroines or cupcake fairies, check out ‘boys books’ for the 6-12 or so age group and you have strict ghetto’s of topic material: nerdy doofus boy; loser outcast boy; sports boy; sci-fi fantasy boy who is just woke enough to interest girl readers so throw these in with the girl books; bullies and literal creeps that must be remediate – somehow, what woman will come to their salvation? One would think the popularity of Harry Potter would have proven to publishers that boys will read 700 page books in a wknd, that they will come begging for more, but no, the boys have less and less to read, and so they drift to the nonfiction areas or we lose them altogether – and the result? Their (female) teachers moan that they aren’t reading – because nonfiction isn’t considered reading – those adorable cupcake fairies or horse books or endless snippy girlfriend who aren’t friends books, now that is reading.

I once had a Newbery winner complain to me (Princeton, you’d be surprised how many live in Princeton) that she couldn’t ‘get’ why Harry Potter was so popular – she wrote important noble girl empowerment books, I just suggested she do something totally against the norm, like Harry Potter, write about a NICE boy, who has interesting friends, and challenges. She did not take my advice , which is why if I told you her name not one of you outside the publishing bubble would know to whom I refer. College is just an extension of what I’ve seen for years, but that expulsion of all things male started long before the Women’s Studies mania in colleges.

Particularly interesting is that the teaching profession doesn’t think reading non-fiction is a form of reading. Don’t girls read non-fiction?

Born yesterday

To truly appreciate how born yesterday politicians of the left and their followers actually are, you really do have to read Joseph Priestly’s 1791 Of the Prospect of the general Enlargement of Liberty, civil and religious, opened by the Revolution in France which is the last of his Letters to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke. He wrote these letters well before the Reign of Terror commenced, which was then followed by the Napoleonic dictatorship, which in turn led to the Napoleonic Wars which roiled Europe for almost two decades, so perhaps there is some excuse for his naive and inane views. But what excuse is there for anyone to hold similar views today. It is remarkable to read Priestly in the knowledge we have of governments by Nazis, by Communists, by totalitarians of every kind, and yet Priestly-clones continue to populate the world. You still hear the same kinds of arguments from the left to this minute, that is from people whose ignorance of history is matched only by their vicious natures, vacuous minds and lack of common sense. You can read the whole thing for yourself – it’s not particularly long – but let’s pick a few highlights.

These great events [the French Revolution], in many respects unparalleled in all history, make a totally new, a most wonderful, and important, æra in the history of mankind. It is, to adopt your own rhetorical style, a change from darkness to light, from superstition to sound knowledge, and from a most debasing servitude to a state of the most exalted freedom. It is a liberating of all the powers of man from that variety of fetters, by which they have hitherto been held. So that, in comparison with what has been, now only can we expect to see what men really are, and what they can do….

Together with the general prevalence of the true principles of civil government, we may expect to see the extinction of all national prejudice, and enmity, and the establishment of universal peace and good will among all nations. When the affairs of the various societies of mankind shall be conducted by those who shall truly represent them, who shall feel as they feel, and think as they think; who shall really understand, and consult their interests, they will no more engage in those mutually offensive wars, which the experience of many centuries has shown to be constantly expensive and ruinous. They will no longer covet what belongs to others, which they have found to be of no real service to them, but will content themselves with making the most of their own.

The causes of civil wars, the most distressing of all others, will likewise cease, as well as those of foreign ones. They are chiefly contentions for offices, on account of the power and emoluments annexed to them. But when the nature and uses of all civil offices shall be well understood, the power and emoluments annexed to them, will not be an object sufficient to produce a war. Is it at all probable, that there will ever be a civil war in America, about the presidentship of the United States? And when the chief magistracies in other countries shall be reduced to their proper standard, they will be no more worth contending for, than they are in America. If the actual business of a nation be done as well for the small emolument of that presidentship, as the similar business of other nations, there will be no apparent reason why more should be given for doing it.

If there be a superfluity of public money, it will not be employed to augment the profusion, and increase the undue influence, of individuals, but in works of great public utility, which are always wanted, and which nothing but the enormous expences of government, and of wars, chiefly occasioned by the ambition of kings and courts, have prevented from being carried into execution….

If time be allowed for the discussion of differences, so great a majority will form one opinion, that the minority will see the necessity of giving way. Thus will reason be the umpire in all disputes, and extinguish civil wars as well as foreign ones. The empire of reason will ever be the reign of peace….

There will be magistrates, appointed and paid for the conservation of order, but they will only be considered as the first servants of the people, and accountable to them. Standing armies, those instruments of tyranny, will be unknown, though the people may be trained to the use of arms, for the purpose of repelling the invasion of Barbarians. For no other description of men will have recourse to war, or think of disturbing the repose of others; and till they become civilized, as in the natural progress of things they necessarily must, they will be sufficiently overawed by the superior power of nations that are so….

Government, being thus simple in its objects, will be unspeakably less expensive than it is at present, as well as far more effectual in answering its proper purpose. There will then be little to provide for besides the administration of justice, or the preservation of the peace, which it will be the interest of every man to attend to, in aid of government….

The enormous debts which our present systems of government, and the follies of our governors, have intailed upon us, like all other evils in the plan of providence, promise to be eventually the cause of the greatest good, as necessary means of bringing about the happy state of things above described. And the improvement of Europe may serve as an example to the rest of the world, and be the instrument of other important changes, which I shall not dwell upon in this place….

If the condition of other nations be as much bettered as that of France will probably be, by her improved system of government, this great crisis, dreadful as it appears in prospect, will be a consummation devoutly to be wished for, and though calamitous to many, perhaps to many innocent persons, will be eventually most glorious and happy.

To you, Sir, all this may appear such wild declamation, as your treatise appears to me. But speculations of this kind contribute to exhilerate my mind, as the consideration of the French revolution has contributed to disturb and distress yours; and thus is verified the common proverb, which says, One man’s meat is another man’s poison. If this be a dream, it is, however, a pleasing one, and has nothing in it malignant, or unfriendly to any. All that I look to promises no exclusive advantage to myself, or my friends; but an equal field for every generous exertion to all, and it makes the great object of all our exertions to be the public good.

Burke, the first conservative, was so clearly right and Priestly, and all who follow in his wake so clearly wrong, that you have to wonder whether the world will ever be cured of the madness that comes from the politics of wishing-it-were-true.

Harry Potter and the anti-semitic left

It is hard to work out whether the left is more vile than it is insane, or whether it’s the other way round, but here we have more evidence that it is one or the other: Harry Potter and the Half-Wit Dunces: The lunatic left takes on J.K. Rowling for opposing anti-Semitism. It begins:

Measured by its impact, the BDS campaign to isolate Israel has been about as successful as the Charge of the Light Brigade, say, or the theatrical run of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, or any other cataclysmic failure that still inspires us, decades later, to ponder the bottomless depths of human ineptitude. And now, not content with their floundering boycotts, the champions of the anti-Israeli left have found a new villain: J.K. Rowling.

Why? Because Rowling is an outspoken critic of the anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-Semitic Labour Party, a thought crime among those moral and intellectual degenerates who refuse to condemn hatred of Jews when it comes, as it so frequently does these days, from their side of the aisle.

National Socialists were not just socialists, which they were, but also vile and murderous anti-semites. It is obviously a thought process that is easily replicated in an entirely new era with entirely new circumstances. Socialist and anti-semitism seem to be a twin-set that will just never end.