Rafe’s Roundup 13 August

Post of the week. Paul Monk on The Challenge of an Islamic Reformation and the need to revive the spirit of the Congress for Cultural Freedom that kept the idea of freedom alive through the Cold War and mount a fresh defence of civilization in the battle of ideas against Islamism and its fellow travellers in the western democracies.

There is a lot to feel gloomy about. But there is also a great deal to defend and extend. That is a cultural task and a matter of ideas and articulate debate. Neither complacency nor cynicism will serve us. We need, once more, to find the energy and imagination to champion the open society and the scientific enlightenment. We should do so unapologetically and vigorously. If we do not engage in the struggle of ideas of our time in this manner, we could lose—catastrophically. That’s why we need a new Congress for Cultural Freedom, under any other name and however it is funded.

The joy of being an eccentric oil billionaire. Pictorial. And, to be fair, the Templeton Foundation. Different projects, driven by a special (and very rich) person, John Templeton.

Economics. Planning to create unemployment.

There comes a point where the continual mandating of benefits and restrictions on hiring has big consequences. We can see the handwriting on the wall in Europe as well as in the US. In Europe the young are more and more being left out of the traditional forms of hiring .

A recent article in the Financial Times (August 5, 2015) has a very interesting analysis of the issue. “In a continent known for strong employee protections, more than half of the eurozone’s young workers are in temporary jobs, churning from one short-lived contract to the next.” And this is in countries with high unemployment rates among the young. And in Italy, France, and Spain…fewer than 30 per cent of temporary employees have moved on to permanent jobs three years later.

In contrast, how the Philippines can learn from Singapore.

Dubbed the most famous Singaporean abroad after Lee, Mahbubani now leads the institution built to give away the secrets of Singapore’s success. The dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and his colleagues said leaders in the Philippines and developing nations can take Singapore’s best practices, particularly from the old days of its late founding father. Now synonymous with efficiency, Singapore has a so-called machine model of governance that unapologetically prioritizes economic growth over civil and political liberties. Yet even its toughest critics admit that delivering basic services, infrastructure and engineering is effective governance.

Here are 5 lessons on leadership and governance that Asia’s sick man-turned-rising tiger can adopt from the vaunted miracle Singapore celebrates on its golden jubilee.

Culture. The Spectator Culture House. The London Review of Books.

For nerds. Melvyn Bragg’s radio program. Stephen Hicks, always interesting for nerds. See his series of interviews with entrepreneurs.

The Mercatus Centre, based in the George Mason University. Critical commentary on Austrian economics with the suggestion that the situation in China gives some heart to Austrian diagnosis. As he says, quantitative easing in the US has not produced inflation or increased the price of gold but it has not produced much in the way of growth or employment either.

Comments by Pete Boettke on some important recent work on price theory.

Maybe Cecil did not die in vain. On Organizations and Markets by Pete Klein.

I don’t hunt and have no particular emotional attachment to lions, so I find the outrage level bewildering. However, I think this can be a teachable moment. Specifically, there are lessons here about trophy hunting and endangered species. Not surprisingly to anyone who has studied property-rights economics, there is evidence that allowing trophy hunting is a good means of protecting endangered species. This is a version of the general argument that defining and enforcing property rights in scarce resources, including wildlife, provides incentives for individuals to protect and maintain those resources. (You’ve probably heard the quip that the world isn’t running out of chickens and dairy cattle.) Groups like PERC have produce dozens of studies on endangered species and private conservation more generally and there are plenty of nerdier papers too. If Cecil’s unfortunate end helps stimulate thoughtful discussion on how to avoid the tragedy of the commons, then he will not have died in vain.

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10 Responses to Rafe’s Roundup 13 August

  1. Lorne Malvo

    I don’t get that Cat writers aren’t linking to or blogging on the daily happenings at the TURC and coverage on michaelsmithnews I think his daily blogging is good and its been the best show in town for months on end

  2. C.L.

    I reviewed Monk’s atrocious essay last month …
    Today I read Paul Monk’s essay on Ayaan Hirsi Ali and reforming Islam (July-August Quadrant). I have to say it straight off: what a mess of an argument.

    Monk rightly rejects the very idea of an Islamic ‘Reformation’ – often touted by commentators as a solution to the violence and backwardness that characterise Islam. He prefers to argue for the recrudescence of the Enlightenment for Westerners (and its adoption by Muslims, converted, as it were, by a Western intelligentsia that accepts responsibility for supporting apostates).

    So far, so good.

    Monk – who reminds readers he is himself an apostate Catholic – insists throughout that Western history proves that it was the rejection of theistic transcendentalism itself, root and branch, that constitutes the pre-eminent dialectic and lesson for Muslim proto-atheists (like Ali, he hopes enough of these exist or may be enabled to become influential). Monk says he still appreciates the cultural and artistic legacy of Catholicism; likewise, Muslims, newly enlightened, may one day glory in the cultural and artistic legacy of Islam (slim pickings there) but without believing in a semi-divine prophet and an omniscient Allah.

    Good luck with this baloney.

    But Monk’s argument really falls down by his own hand when he posits the Western left’s complicity in sustaining and apologising for communism throughout the twentieth century as a type of what it is doing today in relation to Islam. Not because this is an incorrect comparison but because it was precisely the catastrophe of communism that resulted from an Enlightenment stripped of theism and looted by atheists. Having happily farewelled Catholicism, Monk studiedly neglects to credit Catholics for demolishing communism. Quite an oversight and risibly convenient after his God-obliterating exegesis of the Enlightenment.

    What does this tell us? About Monk’s fallacious modus vivendi for the West and Islam, I mean. I think it shows us that most leftists and atheist conservatives – in addition to rare, outspoken ‘liberals’ like Maher and perhaps Monk (advocating a pox on all their religious houses) – do not understand Islam and are not capable of combating its encroachments and enormities. As with European communism (and communism in Australia and the United States), it will be committed, believing Christians who, alone, stand the best chance of opposing Islam with a coherent suite of ideas, historical authority, lived example and dedication to objective truth – even if it is only their objective truth (from the atheists’ standpoint). This last because only the Church has any chance of being immovable object to Islam’s … let’s say, unflappable force. And you can’t be an immovable object unless you and your fellows, philosophically speaking, are objectively immovable.
    A postscript: Obviously, Monk would argue – does argue – that one needn’t be a Christian to wage an objectively truthful cultural war with Islam. (Indeed, his mistake is arguing that one preferably shouldn’t be one). Looking over the two big battalions, however – supposedly rational atheists beckoning forth aspirational Muslims and Christianity – the latter is more likely to repeat the successes of Pius V at Lepanto and John Paul II in Eastern Europe. ‘Rational’ atheists , by comparison, actually resemble Islamists in desiring to unravel the fabric of what it is that made the West great – and greater than Islam – in the first place.

  3. OldOzzie

    To Add to the Round-up


    It’s finally happened. Someone has started a new Downfall meme from a different scene, and just in time. I’ve had something like this in mind for quite a while, but haven’t had time to get it together. (I’ve also got scenes from two other film clips in mind; some day.)

    Anyway, kudos to Tim Donovan, whoever and wherever he is, for this important cultural advance (it’s about Hillary’s email scandal, in case you didn’t guess from the headline, and it’s only 1:41 long—and totally worth it for the “pantsuits” punchline):

  4. Rafe Champion

    Thanks OldOzzie, since brevity is the soul of wit, it is great to get through in 1.41!!

    Thanks CL, just when I was settling down for a serious morning of work on my paper for the Ankara conference next month. The theme “Karl Popper and the Problem of Change”. My colleague Mark Notturno (and by host in Washington for October and November) has a paper on the two nutshells that sum up Popper’s message.

    One of them is “I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth”.

    I have invited Paul Monk to do a guest post in reply to your comment and that can start a thread to work through the issues.

  5. rickw

    Here are 5 lessons on leadership and governance that Asia’s sick man-turned-rising tiger can adopt from the vaunted miracle Singapore celebrates on its golden jubilee.

    Since the end of WWII Singapore is probably the only country that has been lifted from third world and firmly into first world.

    How much foreign aid did Singapore receive?

    From my perspective Singapore is the greatest argument as to why foreign aid is pointless. If the culture and Governance is fixed, everything else fixes itself.

  6. Myrddin Seren

    If the culture and Governance is fixed, everything else fixes itself.

    Whereas from my experience, the culture in the Philippines is the assumption that everyone in power is on the take ( which they probably are ) and hence the governance is about tying ever tighter knots of seeming rules to stop the corruption, but which just wind up strangling the economy and ensuring almost no one ever gets ahead.

  7. Rabz

    Since the end of WWII Singapore is probably the only country that has been lifted from third world and firmly into first world.

    South Korea?

  8. Peter

    Those who advocate for Islam the equivalent of the Protestant Reformation, seem to be falling for the fallacy that Luther and company reinvented Christianity to suit themselves.

    On the contrary, their primary argument was that institutional Christianity had wandered away from the teachings of Christ and the Apostles and that the “reforms” proposed were a return to those teachings. IE, a return to fundamental (foundational) Christian doctrine. Not at all a departure from it.

    A similar “Reformation” for Islam would mean a closer adherence to the teachings of Mohammed, the militaristic, slave-owning prophet who commanded his followers to kill infidels.

  9. Austin Mangosteen

    Those who advocate for Islam the equivalent of the Protestant Reformation, seem to be falling for the fallacy that Luther and company reinvented Christianity to suit themselves.

    Peter, one has to say, it is rather astounding the ignorance of many who claim to understand the differences between biblical Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam, the Talmud and the Torah; not to mention religion in general.

    [From an alien looking to have a rant.] Sociologically, the fundamental principles that are endemic in secular society are evident in all social structures. Admittedly, as a coconut palm is dissimilar to a peach tree, so are the cultures associated with those religions. Nevertheless, just as all trees are fundamentally trees because of similar biological structure, the underlying current of human existence, which consists of individuals who have the same physiology and instincts for survival, tends to produce similar social psychology. We see evidence of the similarity in people’s social psychology among the women from a non-secular culture in the documentary Her War: Women Vs Isis.

    When it comes to history, much depends on the book that has been read, and whether the historian’s point of view is in accord with the reader’s personal worldview. Many histories are nothing but propaganda promoted in a scholarly manner for self-serving academics. Imagine what would have happened if Australia had become a Portuguese colony. Moreover, there is evidence of Chinese visits to the sun-baked continent a millennium ago. One imagines the Chinese moved on because, having seen the lack of development, they preferred China. (Better to keep the public with the toadstools.)

    The Four Tigers of Asia (Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore), as a people, probably have a cultural internalization of applied knowledge as being the only kind acceptable, and when times were tough, understood that the theories and ideologies of the left are definitely not right– and what is not right is obviously wrong.

    The evidence suggests the Filipino culture has an ethos similar to South America: crony capitalism floating in Spanish Roman Catholic effervescence (or is putrescence?). Like a festering sore, some intangible historic peculiarity percolates the Philippines’ problems.

    As for those who laud atheistic theories, true believers in a Creator acknowledge that we possess freewill and are therefore libertarian; because libertarianism is an axiomatic truth the upholds the rights of the individual to respect other individuals. Unfortunately, many equate liberty with anarchy. However, even in lawless Mogadishu, people realized that survival required cooperation and respect of the individual in order to sustain some sense of safety and civility among comrades. Amazingly, the Somali Shilling is heading north in value; unlike the Zimbabwe Dollar which is being dumped as worthless.

    Evidently, when people as individuals take control of their own destinies, they are able to flourish, as long as dissatisfied ideologues remain physically kept in dungeons where they belong until they recognize they are ready to see the light and recognize other people’s rights in accordance with the physically obvious. [nudge, nudge…wink, wink…An advisory referendum is on order. So sorry to spoil your agenda!!]

  10. rickw

    South Korea?

    Yes, definitely!

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