My title is free-market anticapitalism. I want to argue that the champions of markets and enterprise need to recapture their radicalism, to reassert the right to be a disruptive, even subversive, not a reactionary, force in the world.
They need to distinguish between free markets serving consumers, on the one hand, and crony capitalism addicted to corporate welfare on the other, because it is the corporatism that people dislike, but it leads them to distrust free markets because they do not perceive the difference.
The Economist makes the common error of confusing CA deficits with net borrowing. The German CA surplus in no way “forces” other countries to borrow more. It’s up to each individual, business and government to decide how much they want to borrow. Even in a world with zero debt, there would be large and persistent CA imbalances as assets are bought and sold across borders. The Economist is simply wrong, CA balances and net borrowing are completely separate issues.
Over the past several decades, governments have made ever-more generous promises of old-age pensions and other transfer payments, while continuing to incur fiscal deficits and rising outstanding debts. Tax collection systems simply cannot generate sufficient revenue to fulfill all the promises politicians make to people on the receiving end of “other peoples’ money.” Personal and business income taxes, tariffs and excise taxes, sales and value-added taxes, property and inheritance taxes–all have been increased and still cannot keep pace with the current spending and promises of future payments made by politicians. The last remaining alternative available–given the world-wide unsustainable and uncontrollable fiscal dynamics–is the monetary solution. That is, fulfill the promises made by politicians by paying out money that continuously buys less and less. That is the fate of all fiat monopoly currencies issued by governments.
The ethical issue is whether the historian has an obligation to make the effort to elevate truth above narrative. Did Nancy MacLean make that effort, as [Andy] Seal’s use of the phrase “best practices” implies?
For example, I could wish to create a narrative that tries to portray Dr. Martin Luther King as a racist, and I could do so while staying within ethical boundaries. It might not be very persuasive, of course. But if I quote Dr. King as saying “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will…be judged by the color of their skin” (i.e., leaving out the word “not”), then that is unethical. That seems pretty clear to me. And it seems to me that MacLean’s conduct comes pretty close to that, yet I do not see it condemned outright as unethical by Farrell and Teles, much less by Seal.
Let me put it this way: if MacLean’s actions do not constitute easily-recognized and serious violations of the ethics of the history profession, then that profession has no ethics. And historians on the left ought to be thinking about whether that is what they want.
This episode tells us much about the decline of the educational endeavor. A tenured professor writes an abominable book and when it gets torn to shreds by people who actually know a lot about the subject, she resorts to whining about being “bullied” and that her critics are just parts of the evil Koch-funded plot to destroy America.