Liberals and conservatives

How did liberalism’ become the ‘L’ word? One reason why McCain is competitive despite the Republicans woes is that voters are more prone to identify as ‘conservative’. Some fascinating research here by Christopher Ellis employs the familiar economic-social four-way split of voters using the 2004 election survey and compared voters’ attitudes on issues with their […]

Winning the middle ground

What are we to make of McCain’s stronger performances in match-ups against Obama, since March 14 he has been ahead according to Gallup? Not a great deal but it should encourage caution. It is true that many social and trends favour the Democrats, but this does not guarantee victory. Says Robin Toner: In many ways, […]

Intellectuals and war

Some confused musings by Jeffrey Herf a sympathizer with the Iraq war, in the ‘Islamic fundamentalism = fascism line’. He complains that Democrats are not mentioning Roosevelt’s commitment to a war against fascism enough and that: one looks in vain for passion and/or insight among the Democratic candidates about the nature of this enemy. To […]

John Obama vs. Paul Clinton?

An useful contribution to the debate about Obama’s centrism from Eyal Press: Here is a fact few liberals would dispute: Ronald Reagan was not a centrist. And here is another: Reagan had a peculiar knack for appealing to people who had seemingly no business voting for him. The Great Communicator was, unquestionably, a conviction-driven partisan. […]

Richard Coase and AWAs

Reading material on transaction cost theory for an ARC application and looked over Coase’s classic 1937 Economica article on the theory of the firm. Interesting to note how Coase places emphasis on the distinction between employment relations and contractual relations and seeks to develop an explanation for this difference. This contrasts with the contemporary economic […]

Libertarian racism?

In the US there has been much controversy about racist material in newsletters published by Republican-libertarian Ron Paul. It originated with an investigation by the neo-conservative James Kirchik. What it does reveal is that some American libertarians have argued for a popular appeal in which race would be a central component, this is described in an […]

The Affluent Society

Recently reread John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society (1958), in some aspects a founding document of post-materialism. Interesting he argues that the example of the Soviet military threat demonstrates that the absolute size of a national economy is not an automatic gauge of military strength. The collapse of the Soviet Union might seem to count […]

Sex work again

Some reasonable ideas in an article by Leslie Cannold on sex work, although she does erect a strawperson of those who supposedly argue that: Advocates and opponents of decriminalisation adopt extreme characterisations of women to justify their positions. On one side are the decriminalisation advocates — self-proclaimed unions or advocacy groups for prostitutes — who […]

American Capitalism

Recently read Norman Lichtenstein’s American Capitalism. A very interesting collection of essays on the attitudes of American social thinkers in the 1950s towards capitalism covering from C. Wright Mills to Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand. Insightful essay on Hayek which correctly argues for his distance from libertarianism although it does not place his work from […]

Has democracy triumphed?

An interesting article by neo-conservative intellectual Robert Kagan who takes a longer term view on the end of history question. To Kagan the Cold War was simply an aspect of an enduring conflict between liberalism and autocracy. The current Russian and Chinese governments continue this autocratic tradition. Confronted by the Iraq debacle neo-conservatives like Kagan […]