On to more pleasing affairs..
Saturday, May 13, 2006
David Friedman is rapidly becoming one of my favourite thinkers. He is probably most famous as the author of The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism, a book which laid out how we might get to a society without government as we know it today and which I am dying to lay my hands on. (See my wishlist, which I've put in the sidebar too.) The first part of his book starts with a poem, the whole of which I'll shamelessly reproduce here:
A saint said "Let the perfect city rise.Nothing else I have read captures so succinctly and precisely the two inextricable sides of collectivist utopianism, sometimes called Fascism, other times called Communism.
Here needs no long debate on subtleties,
Let us intend
That all be clothed and fed; while one remains
Hungry our quarreling but mocks his pains.
So all will labor to the good
In one phalanx of brotherhood."
A man cried out "I know the truth, I, I,
Perfect and whole. He who denies
My vision is a madman or a fool
Or seeks some base advantage in his lies.
All peoples are a tool that fits my hand
Cutting you each and all
Into my plan."
They were one man. [link]
Anyway, David Friedman is a witty, lucid and persuasive writer. Here is a very readable piece where he explains Ronald Coase's famous analysis of externalities, for which Coase won a Nobel in Economics. Here is a short piece where he lays out the pre-requisites for an anarcho-capitalist society. Here's a well known article where he responds to Tyler Cowen (of MarginalRevolution), who argues that anarchy might soon relapse into a situation with collusion or cartelisation among private law enforcement agencies. Here's a Usenet posting where he provokes environmentalists on the soundness of the precautionary principle.
Finally, here's the online edition of his Price Theory, which is intended as a text book and hence needs a little more energy to absorb.
A long piece by Jane Galt written long ago on why legalising gay marriage is fraught with risks (although she herself takes no particular stance). Very well written, but I am not totally convinced.
Here's the most kickass dialogue ever delivered by any fictional character:
Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.I got this from the quotes section of the imdb page on 'V for Vendetta'. The quotes of V are simply terrific: all those Shakespeare stuff, and then this exchange at the last scene:
Creedy: Whatchya gonna do, huh? We've swept this place. You've got nothing. Nothing but your bloody knives and your fancy karate gimmicks. We have guns.When super-heroes are shown in a certain style, there is no way you can hate them - ask Rajni Kanth's fans. I loved the super hero and his mask, and I loved the theme of the movie, plenty close to my own political ideals.
V: No, what you've have are bullets, and the hope that when your guns are empty I will no longer be standing, because if I am you will all be dead before you've reloaded.
On the flip side, the earlier quoted speech is not included in the movie adaptation (unless it is in the first 20 minutes, which I missed, but which is unlikely, because V meets Evey after the first 20 minutes, and this speech is evidently how V introduces himself to her.) [Update: Bappi tells me the speech is infact there.] Tut tut - bad adaptation, bad adaptation. But this was not the worst thing about the movie - Natalie Portman was a terrible, terrible actress and her fake accent was a total turn-off.
And while we are on the topic of anarchy, here's a fine piece by Eric Raymond that I read long ago on 'The Myth of Man the killer'. Ok, its not directly related to anarchy, but you should take a look at it nevertheless.