Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Greatest Post Ever Written?

That was how another blogger referred to this post by Dierdre McCloskey. I don't have sufficient data to confirm that claim, but it is very good.


At 9:16 AM, May 05, 2013, Anonymous Kid said...

And what are the factual findings that put libertarian philosophy in a bad light?

I found the piece very one-sided and therefore I suspect it will appeal mostly to those who are already in her camp.

At 9:53 AM, May 05, 2013, Blogger David Friedman said...


Of course the piece was one-sided--its purpose was to point out that the other side was based on a false account of the historical facts. If you think there are factual findings that cut the other way, you are entirely free to research them and post them somewhere, as she did.

And should.

At 10:15 AM, May 05, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. this is the best blog post ever written.

At 10:44 AM, May 05, 2013, Blogger David Friedman said...


It would be a better blog post if the author showed any evidence of familiarity with the arguments for the positions she was dismissing. They may be wrong, but they are not simply wishing for things.

At 11:04 AM, May 05, 2013, Anonymous RKN said...

Ms. McCloskey certainly can make a fine word salad -- I had to look up Gilgamesh -- however, as the spirited exchange in the comment thread indicates, "beef" may not be her forte.

Probably not the greatest post I've ever read, even in class, but I enjoyed it for its pith (if that's right word).

At 1:06 PM, May 05, 2013, Anonymous Kid said...

I think neither side is really based on historical fact. Most people choose their side early on, through pressures that have very little to do with objective evidence.

Once you're on a side, you can't help but try to interpret historical fact in a way that doesn't threaten your framework.

I'd really like to see a discussion of the historical evidence by two people who don't mind discussing the strongest arguments on the other side, instead viciously attacking the weakest ones.

At 2:13 PM, May 05, 2013, Anonymous Laird said...

Frankly, I almost never agree with anything posted on Bleeding Heart Libertarians (I find them generally to be faux libertarians, conducting false flag operations), so I was surprised to see this posted there. A good article indeed.

At 2:36 PM, May 05, 2013, Blogger Tibor said...

Kid: The main point of her article - at least the way I understand it - is not to show that the factual claims she makes are true. If that was the case, the article would actually be quite horrible, since it has dozens of claims and no sources. The point was to say "Don't just take it for granted that what the mainstream idea of factual reality is, is necessarily true. It can be seen very differently and you should at least make some effort and think about it before you accept a version...or at least realize that other people probably disagree with you not because they "are evil" but because they see the factual evidence very differently than you do."

It is basically a long anecdote with a punch line at the end (the last 3 lines) without which the article wouldn't be half as good, but which makes it really nice. The first two paragraphs don't seem necessary to me at all though, it would be better without them.

At 10:48 PM, May 05, 2013, Blogger Kevin said...

Man, I find Deirdre McCloskey almost unreadable. She writes with the most irritating, stilted prose I can imagine. But other than that, she's pretty awesome and that's a great blog post.

At 12:04 AM, May 06, 2013, Anonymous Nightrunner said...

DEIRDRE MCCLOSKEY: It would have been hard to know the wisdom of Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman or Matt Ridley or Deirdre McCloskey in August of 1914, before the experiments in large government were well begun.

Uh, hello? Earth to puffed-up windbag?

At 3:37 AM, May 06, 2013, Blogger Tibor said...

After reading the comments below McCloskey's article, I have to say, I am impressed much less about her. She seems to be a very arrogant person. And her conversation with a user called brian (who is apparently a law professor at Chicago uni) is just two people who take turns in insulting each other and taking the "high and mighty" position of the person who doesn't want to talk to the other because of their behaviour...As far as content goes, I mostly agree with her, but considering presentation (of the comments, not the blog post itself) she is even worse than Brian.

And as Nightrunner pointed out (I haven't noticed that her name was in the list as well the first time I read it) - putting your own name in a list "of the wise people" is pretty arrogant even if you actually have done a good deal of quality research. I would think it was meant as sort of a joke (I actually like that kind of humour - parodying the high and mighty people), weren't it for her acting the same way in the comments below.

Not that any of this (except for her name in the list) changes my view of the blog post itself, but otherwise I am a bit disappointed.

At 6:42 AM, May 06, 2013, Blogger Don said...

Tibor Mach: So McCloskey was on target when she posted some real history on that ridiculous BHL sight, but now you are "impressed much less" with her because she wouldn't sit still and let "Brian" insult her? He began the exchange by screaming "fact-free post!"

Or should she just kiss his butt because he's a law professor?

BHLer's are responsible for the immoral and idiotic ideas they push in the name of libertarianism. No one owes them anything. In the end, the only mistake McCloskey made was posting on that wretched sight. It is beneath the dignity of rational, moral persons to sanction such nonsense.

At 9:40 AM, May 06, 2013, Blogger Tibor said...

Don: You're right, Brian was mostly using insults, did not get the message of the article which was not proving that those many claims were right, but that there are other than the mainstream views of the facts. But it doesn't follow that McCloskey should then act in the same insulting way. It is perhaps understandable, but not commendable. One thing I really really like about Milton Friedman is that he was able to talk to naive socialist undergrad students who were just like this Brian and were trying to "show him he is evil" in a calm manner, using arguments and not authority. McCloskey mainly keeps talking about how "she's written a lot of books on those topics that Brian doesn't know squat about, so Brian should shut up..." Again - she did write those books, ok. And he probably really knows little about it. But this kind of argument leads nowhere.

At 10:12 PM, May 06, 2013, Blogger David Friedman said...

I didn't think either Brian or Dierdre looked very good in the comment thread, but it did seem to me that Brian's initial posts had a problem. He claimed some of what she said was silly, she asked for an example, and he cited a claim that, although not indisputable, is widely accepted by economists. So his criticism only made sense if her claim was "these are undoubted facts that everyone agrees with," and it obviously wasn't.

At 2:07 AM, May 07, 2013, Blogger Tibor said...

Again - I'm not saying he was acting ok and as I mentioned - he didn't get the idea of the article at all. But I was disappointed that she answered in a similar fashion. I am not talking about merits. I'm only talking about presentation. It is almost as important as merits when you try to convince other people to start taking your position seriously.

At 10:17 AM, May 14, 2013, Blogger windwheel said...

'Germany’s economic Lebensraum was obtained in the end by the private arts of peace, not by the public arts of war.'
I was born in Germany. My Nanny was in the Hitler Youth and had an arranged marriage to a much older man who was not de-Nazified till '65. She was lucky. She was infertile and long before the East Front crumbled, her husband sent her back to her peasant parents on the out-skirts of Bonn.
BTW, the Germans knew a lot about scientific vegetarianism which is why my sister and me turned out very large and (regrettably) humorless.
I mention all this to indicate I know stuff about Germany and Japan.
Friedman is old enough to remember people from the old Germany and Romania and Slovakia and so on.
Yet he endorses this nonsense- 'Economic Lebensraum'- fuck is that supposed to mean? Room for expansion? No. I suppose it means washing machines and Mercedes cars. But, that was not secured by 'the private arts of peace'- not at all. Four armies occupied Germany. Mutually hostile armies. Then a more colder but more potentially cataclysmic war broke out.
The Nazis pioneered Privatization. Private arts of Peace tend, Elizabethan England is an example, to quickly to a type of privateering which reconstituted the Stuart State.
Is mercantile Yankee America so truly forgetful of its origins? Are all of you truly spawn of Jefferson's miscegenated slaves?
What's so great about this foolish post that Friedman points to?
Its stupidity? Its ignorance?
No- it addresses only you- I used to have a T-shirt 'It's a black thing- you wouldn't understand'- so, hey, fair dinkum me old cobbers- g'day!


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