Monday, September 20, 2010

James Scott: Adam Smith or Karl Marx?

I can't escape James Scott right now.  Jacob Levy has contributed his two cents to the discussion of Seeing Like a State over at Cato Unbound.  There's a lot to talk about in Jacob's contribution, but I just want to point to one thing for now.  Jacob writes:
I suspect that Scott has been mildly embarrassed by the libertarian enthusiasm for Seeing Like a State, and since its publication he’s been at pains to be clearer than he was in the book that the market can also be a force of high-modernist social flattening. But he has not (that I’m aware of) pushed the thought very far, or told his readers much about when the market is that kind of force on its own, and when it is so when joined to state power
My Marxist self jumps up and down and yells: when have there been extensive markets that were not joined to state power!?!?!?!?!?!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Stuff I'd like to say something about but don't have time to right now...

A back and forth at Crooked Timber and Lenin's Tomb over rational choice theory and Leftist/Marxist political theory.
And another post at CT, this one about James Scott vs. Hayek on markets and the loss of local knowledge. Scott, btw, is speaking here in Montreal this coming Monday, 20 September:
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia University announces: Professor JAMES C. SCOTT: "The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia." A lecture on Monday, September 20, 2010, at 7pm; Hall Building (corner of Bishop and de Maisonneuve), room 763.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I could support this platform...

  1. Universal, equal, and direct suffrage with secret ballot in all elections, for all citizens of the Reich over the age of twenty, without distinction of sex. Proportional representation, and, until this is introduced, legal redistribution of electoral districts after every census. Two-year legislative periods. Holding of elections on a legal holiday. Compensation for elected representatives. Suspension of every restriction on political rights, except in the case of legal incapacity.
  2. Direct legislation by the people through the rights of proposal and rejection. Self-determination and self-government of the people in Reich, state, province, and municipality. Election by the people of magistrates, who are answerable and liable to them. Annual voting of taxes.
  3. Education of all to bear arms. Militia in the place of the standing army. Determination by the popular assembly on questions of war and peace. Settlement of all international disputes by arbitration.
  4. Abolition of all laws that place women at a disadvantage compared with men in matters of public or private law.
  5. Abolition of all laws that limit or suppress the free expression of opinion and restrict or suppress the right of association and assembly. Declaration that religion is a private matter. Abolition of all expenditures from public funds for ecclesiastical and religious purposes. Ecclesiastical and religious communities are to be regarded as private associations that regulate their affairs entirely autonomously.
  6. Secularization of schools. Compulsory attendance at the public Volksschule [extended elementary school]. Free education, free educational materials, and free meals in the public Volksschulen, as well as at higher educational institutions for those boys and girls considered qualified for further education by virtue of their abilities.
  7. Free administration of justice and free legal assistance. Administration of the law by judges elected by the people. Appeal in criminal cases. Compensation for individuals unjustly accused, imprisoned, or sentenced. Abolition of capital punishment.
  8. Free medical care, including midwifery and medicines. Free burial.
  9. Graduated income and property tax for defraying all public expenditures, to the extent that they are to be paid for by taxation. Inheritance tax, graduated according to the size of the inheritance and the degree of kinship. Abolition of all indirect taxes, customs, and other economic measures that sacrifice the interests of the community to those of a privileged few.

(Yes, its the demands put forward by the German Social Democrats in their 1891 Erfurt Program. Ah, smell the progress!)