Conservatives needn’t buy any grand theory of government to continue and redouble their opposition to Big Government. They just need to remember how often their enemies will actually run the government.
What’s bizarre about the revisionist notion of “privilege” is that almost anything counts.
If you listen to successful politicians speak, and fail to realize that they’re speaking strings of pretty lies, you’re missing the point. To understand politics deeply, just ask one follow-up question: “Why is speaking strings of pretty lies the path to power?” The bitter answer: Because in politics, pretty lies are what most people want to hear.
I have deep doubts about the intellectual and social value of schooling. My argument in a nutshell: First, everyone leaves school eventually. Second, most of what you learn in school doesn’t matter after graduation. Third, human beings soon forget knowledge they rarely use.
Ushakov’s work is an extreme illustration of the fact that even dictionaries can be politicized, especially given a climate of fear. So while we can trust dictionary definitions in the vast majority of cases, we should be skeptical about the touchiest entries.
In high school civics, you hear a lot about political “log-rolling” or “horse-trading.” If you study political science in college, you get the same story: Faced with a conflict, our representatives roll up their sleeves and negotiate. Should you take a class in Public Choice, the topic of political bargaining is never far from the surface. Nobel laureate Jim Buchanan actually listed “politics as exchange” as a fundamental principle of the economic approach to politics. In markets, economic actors constantly make deals for their mutual betterment. In democracy, analogously, political actors constantly make deals for their mutual betterment. Right?
“Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution.” That’s probably the most famous sentence that Nobel laureate Robert Lucas ever said.
To be blunt, I’m right and they’re wrong. Yes, human smugglers charge high prices. Yes, farmers pay low wages. But the reason for these unfavorable market conditions is the oppression of the Italian government.
The lesson: When the government oppresses you, you don’t have to submit. You don’t have to make a futile effort to fix the system. And you don’t have to play the victim. You always have the final freedom to be a scofflaw.
Writing in Jacobin, Ben Burgis argues that libertarians implausibly understand freedom as mere non-interference. In his view, a better understanding is one that affirms “that the kind of freedom that matters most is the freedom from arbitrary domination.” In Burgis’s example, “the boss [who] tells you that you can’t get a tattoo if you want to keep your job at his restaurant” subjects you to arbitrary domination and so makes you unfree.