Playing with half a front row

and we wonder why we are losing the game of ideas.

I have been sent a reprint of the late Ron Kitching’s book Understanding Personal and Economic Liberty to review for On Line Opinion. This is not a review but a general comment triggered by the appendix on the great authors of Classical Liberalism and related subjects. His three pinup boys of the 20th century are Mises, Hayek and Hutt. It is not accidental that one of the major pages of my website is the Hayek page and Hutt has generous treatment in the Revivalist series (for people who have been under-rated or forgotten) including a deal of material that I put on line before other people got around to it.

He has a long list of 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century stalwarts, including some you can find in the Rathouse, notably Peter Bauer and Terrence Kealey.

There is a significant absentee. If you want a rugby league team of 20th century classical liberals you would have to play Mises and Karl Popper as props, with Maggie Thatcher wearing the number 9. But Popper is missing from Ron’s team. This is a scandalous state of affairs and the selectors better do something about it before it is too late.

Sinc might want to play Oakeshott in place of Sir Karl, but I think the Austrian (who could claim ANZAC status due to his service in NZ during WW2) has got a bit more to offer, especially in the philosophy of science. However it is apparent from an exchange of letters between the two that they will be happy to play in the same team even if one of them has to come off the bench.

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34 Responses to Playing with half a front row

  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Rafe – it’s totally beyond me to understand the latter part of this post. I switch off to football of any sort. It is sheerly mysterious to me, another world, although I don’t mind the leaping code with the short shorts on the guys. I will seek advice from Da Hairy Ape, my cultural adviser on such matters. Experience however now leads him to merely reply about what to do with ‘my pretty head’, so I suspect I shall be no wiser.

  2. Poor Old Rafe

    Oh well, at least check out the links to the Rathouse and spare a thought for the Webmistress Kilmeny Niland who made it a work of art.

    Her own site.

  3. Steve X

    Surely it would be a football team.

    Football is played in a free market. There is are no exemptions to monopoly laws that are used in US sport and there is a large, booming market in player trades.

    There is no ‘draft’ which is a distortion of the market that seems to exist in codes that are not played as much as football.

    Finally, Hayek, Mises and Hutt all come from places where the world game is played. Austria is known for the ‘Wunderteam’ but not some form of rugby.

  4. blogstrop

    Leaving “stutus” aside, there’s a very simple reason why we’re losing the game of ideas.
    For starters, stop talking about Mises and Hayek, people who the voters have never heard of and couldn’t give a stuff about, and get back to basics.
    Tony Abbott’s line about climate change being “absolute crap” was on-message and viable.
    But what happened? Bluffed again by the media.
    Grow a pair and get back on song, in the right octave..

  5. jupes

    Rafe, have you been drinking?

  6. jupes

    Surely it would be a football team.

    Which code?

    Footy, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Gridiron, Soccer or Gaelic football?

  7. Poor Old Rafe

    If the football aspect is too hard then simply focus on the world of ideas. Popper is the most important philosopher of the 20th century and he is also a classical liberal, author of one of the most incisive critiques of Marx in the English language when The Open Society and its Enemies first appeared in 1945. He stepped on too many left and conservative toes so he has been buried in the profession.

    In the long game of ideas, philosophy and economics are the front row. Austrian economics has a good organizational structure to ensure that it has a chance to make a mark but there is no comparable infrastructure to promote Popper’s ideas. If they are revived we will be cooking with gas (to coin a phrase).

  8. Sinclair Davidson

    Popper is the most important philosopher of the 20th century …

    As you thought I’m going for Oakeshott.

  9. Alfonso

    The master technicians in the front row are the crux of any Rugby Union team. Unless the forward pack dominates the set pieces, rucks and mauls the twinkle toed cafe society male model movers in the back line have no chance of starring.
    Mises tight head, Hayek loose head prop.

  10. blogstrop

    I was a front rower in my youth and have the bad back to prove it. Some things you just have to persevere with.

  11. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    “The master technicians in the front row are the crux of any Rugby Union team”

    My long held view, Alfonso, is that any player with more than a single number on his back is to be treated with distrust and disdain, and the last bloke only just scrapes in because a good one who barks a lot keeps the forwards focused on their job.

    To further confuse Elizabeth – you will no doubt have heard that the most important player is the tight head and the second most important is the replacement tight head. One served for many years as a loose head which is, as you have kindly offered, an honourable role.

    These chaps of whom Poor Old Rafe speaks are unknown to me. I see from a brief view on the PC XT 5160 of those link thingys that they wrote a lot. This means they had plenty of time on their hands so they would have been backs.

  12. Sinclair Davidson

    What is a ‘front rower’?

  13. “stutus” and “stalward”.

    Also rugby is stupid.

  14. Louis Hissink

    the person on the first oar……

  15. Poor Old Rafe

    Sinc, think of the front row as the first ruck and the other two followers.

    The person on the first oar (at the back) is the stroke.

  16. Gab

    What is a ‘front rower’?

    Someone who always gets tickets for the first row in the theatre?

  17. Mick Gold Coast QLD


    Obdurate, you’re all bloody obdurate!

  18. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Well now Rafe, those images are quite delightful. Ruth Park and Darcy Niland’s daughter. I didn’t know about her artistic talents. What lovely work.

    Much better than rotten old football, imho.

    I am not ‘further’ confused by your additional information, Mick. I was totally confused to start with and remain resolutely there. 🙂

  19. Gab

    I prefer pertinacious myself, Mick. Sounds more refined.

  20. Lazlo

    “Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming it was offside.”

  21. Alfonso

    GFL will not help with understanding Rugby.
    Rugby is a contact sport for a start. Where tackling is not only legal but encouraged (jersey grabbing, waist clasping waltz holds and bodice ripping are regarded as activities for the uncommitted).

  22. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    That made my brain hurt Gabrielle, but yes, it’ll do.

  23. Lazlo

    What is a ‘front rower’?

    A missionary for the game they play in heaven. In the front line of bringing civilised sport to the nation and the world.

  24. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    Through the horde of giggling, dishevelled urchins a man of standing strides to the front to say his say, thusly dragging them from the darkness of their ignorance.

  25. Gab

    Can’t fly like an eagle when you are surrounded by turkeys.

  26. Lazlo

    Dear Gab. It is a game played by gentlemen.

  27. Gab

    Rugby union, Laz? I agree.

  28. Lazlo

    Ah indeed. I forgot to differentiate it from the other ‘game of 13’ otherwise known as thugby.

  29. John Mc

    My problem with declaring Oakeshott as remarkable or substantially significant is the question of what he actually defined. He said many wise things, provided a lot of food for thought, and gave a lot of substance to the body of conservatism. But what did he do that significantly advanced an area of thought, let alone create a new body of ideas?

    Leaving “stutus” aside, there’s a very simple reason why we’re losing the game of ideas.

    I don’t believe we are losing the game of ideas. More the point is that most people don’t think about this stuff much. When they decide to think for themselves they often come in our direction. I think it’s Teh Left who are really trying to push their ideas for a bit more mileage.

  30. William Bragg

    Surely it would be a football team. Football is played in a free market.

    Actually, real world experience has shown that football only works if it is highly regulated. Games of football need boundaries, with officials to determine whether the ball is in or out of play. Vast reams of rules are needed to regulate player conduct, and there are salary caps because no-one turns up to watch when teams compete freely on their own merits – they only turn up when a handicapping system is in place to ensure that competition is fair and reasonably even.

  31. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Billy Boy, all markets are regulated by internal rules and codes, written and unwritten. And by external circumstances. It is how things get done. It is how human beings communicate with each other to exchange goods and services.

    Handicapping? I know not of football, but isn’t it more like horses for courses? Working in the same ‘leagues’. Same as in free markets – there is equalisation due to an ‘unseen hand’. Things work themselves out.

    Eye of the beholder, methinks. And we all know exactly what you are going to behold, statist lefty that you are.

  32. Poor Old Rafe

    No question that we need to operate with rules, written and unwritten, however too many of the rules in place at present do not promote peace, freedom and prosperity.

  33. JohnRMcD

    Ron Kitching was half of a partnership which established one of the best drilling companies in Australia. I came across Ron many times over 47 years in the Australian (& world) mining industry. The final time was after he had semi-retired to Rockhampton and we stayed in communication until he died. He was a rough diamond, but he was a gentleman…but he did not suffer fools gladly.
    Did he succeed? Well, he made himself a rich man through very hard work.

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