Monday, October 30, 2017

Longer-form reads for those of you as intellectual as me

Here's some longer-form reading to help you get up to my admittedly very advanced level:

Simon Wren-Lewis - why is the government making such a mess of A50? The British really have utterly no bloody clue how to secede from Europe.

Grow The Con - where did all the investment go? Short story is, you don't need it in an oligopolistic plutocracy. Need help getting your head round that? Read some history of medieval economies, or the history of the Antebellum south. I don't see how this should be news... except for an economist.

Stumbling and Mumbling - capitalist triumphalism, a brief history. Here's the intro to get you interested:

Ken Burns’ history of the Vietnam war is getting many plaudits. What’s not been noted about it, though, is that it reminds us of something we’ve forgotten – that the victory of capitalism over communism was not generally regarded as inevitable at the time. The idea that it was owes more to the hindsight bias than to historic fact. Indeed, capitalist triumphalism – of the sort we see from CapX, the IEA and Very Selective Reading of Wealth of Nations Institute – is relatively new.

What I mean is that the American government did not commit mass murder, sacrifice tens of thousands of its own young men, cause vicious domestic social divisions and jeopardise the economy in order to save Vietnam from a flawed economic experiment. It did so because it feared communism would succeed, not that it would fail – that communism could supplant capitalism. Equally, the Macarthyism of the early 50s was aimed not at rooting out cranks but genuine threats to American capitalism.

When Khrushchev spoke of “burying” and “overtaking” western capitalism, nobody laughed. The danger was a serious one. And the launch of Sputnik suggested to the world that Communism could produce technologies that eclipsed capitalist ones. As Francis Spufford showed in Red Plenty (discussed here and here) the Soviets had a genuine optimism that they could beat capitalism – and cold warriors feared they were right.

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