Somali and Scottish Serendipity via Sydney

Earlier today, TAFKAS dropped a post linking to an article written by Ayan Hirsi Ali about socialism or actually neo-socialism.  This post will be on a similar subject by Niall Ferguson.

As an aside, for those unawares, Hirsi Ali is married to Niall Ferguson.  Their dinner conversions must be most interesting.

TAFKAS can’t be certain, but he seems to recall hearing or reading somewhere that Hirsi Ali and Ferguson were introduced to each other by …. Greg Lindsay of the Centre for Independent Studies.  Anyhowz ….

Writing for the Hoover Institute, Ferguson recent wrote:

Capitalism, Socialism And Nationalism: Lessons From History

Again.  If you have the opportunity, please read it.  He touches on Schumpeter and Hayek and makes a very important point about the importance of the rule of law as a bulwark against socialism.

What makes socialism pernicious is not so much the inefficiency that invariably attends state ownership of any asset as the erosion of property rights that tends inevitably to be associated with the state’s acquisition of private assets. Where—as in Sweden in the 1950s and 1960s—socialists acquired a dominant political position without overthrowing property rights in pursuit of direct state ownership, it proved possible to roll it back, once the inefficiencies of state control became apparent.  But where—as in China or Venezuela— the rule of law has essentially ceased to exist, such  self correction becomes almost impossible. The socialist economy can then go down only one of two possible paths: toward authoritarianism, to rein in the oligarchs and carpetbaggers,
or toward anarchy.

Ferguson also revisits Schumpeter’s 1942 prediction about the decline of capitalism because of its inbuilt seeds of destruction.

Schumpeter warned that socialism might ultimately prevail over capitalism, for four reasons. Creative disruption is rarely popular. Capitalism itself tends towards oligopoly. Intellectuals are susceptible to socialism. So are many bureaucrats and politicians.

Read it.  Share it.  Repeat it.  The more people understand, the better.

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10 Responses to Somali and Scottish Serendipity via Sydney

  1. pbw

    After marrying Hirsi Ali and observing her interactions in public life, Niall Ferguson said that he had never appreciated the important role of cowardice in human history.

  2. pbw

    Not paywalled for me. There is a Download link.

  3. Colonel Crispin Berka

    Capitalism itself tends towards oligopoly.

    Dude! You said the quiet part out loud.

    But seriously. Does anyone complain about the benevolent dictator? No. When socialist central planning spontaneously reassembles itself in the form of massive corporate conglomerates, presumably that is the result of succeeding in fair trading and satisfying consumer demand. It’s efficiency gained by merit.
    If an oligopoly emerges fair and square, is it always just as exploitative as oligopolies obtained by corruption and revolution? I think not. The theoretical possibility of future competition helps keep your Standard Oil types in check. I’d guess it depends on consumer switching costs though. High switching cost and high barrier to entry of new suppliers would make the capitalist oligopoly just as bad.

    Surely the Cold War was an example of a successful oligopoly, because it was better than having the USA as a power monopoly.

    Interesting to ask the reverse question about monopsonys. If one buyer ends up owning all the demand because consumers somehow figured out they knew how to perform delivery or business efficiency or demand prediction the best, does that end up being just as terrible as when the government makes itself the monopsonist by force?

  4. one old bruce

    Swedish state socialism assumed that men were workers and women were housewives. Policies were based on this functional ‘materialist’ assumption which had stood unchallenged in socialist theory since the 19th century, especially as opposed to classical ‘bourgeois liberal individualism’ opponents.

    When I heard 30 years ago that Swedish feminists were challenging this ‘patriarchal prejudice’ of Swedish social policy, I laughed and laughed. But that was only the beginning of the rise of ‘bizarro world’ it seems.

  5. Greg Lindsay

    Yes, it was me who got them together. The only thing in that arena that’s better was when I met my wife (Jenny).

  6. @Greg Lindsay

    Yes, it was me who got them together.

    For services to liberalism and matchmaking, please contact @Sinc for your free lifetime subscription to Catallaxy Files.

  7. Greg Lindsay

    I think I’m on the list!

  8. Bruce of Newcastle

    Looking at his wiki (yes, I know, but you linked it Spart) he isn’t someone I would especially trust with sharp objects.

    He has no understanding of current political zeitgeist. His comments about Trump were childish and wrong, and his foreign affairs stuff is bizarre to say the least. Read these two sections, you’ll see what I mean. Apart from that he seems mostly harmless, but I won’t be reading his stuff. It sounds like Lowy Institute boilerplate.

    (And an apology to Prof. Ferguson if I am wrong, it is a wiki after all, and we know lefties run the site.)

  9. Ozman

    An interesting read, but I always find Ferguson’s view of the world a superficial account that ignores the real controllers. For instance, 25% of the world’s wealth is owned by 50 families—which I am inclined to believe may be 30 families, with 20 being offshoots. In a complicated maze of ownership, 80% of world’s economic activity is controlled by 40 companies, which are largely controlled by the aforementioned families, with superannuation/hedge funds contributing to ownership.

    Sweden with a population of 10 million might have found a balance for democratic socialism.
    Singapore (not mentioned) with a population (6 million) may not be democratic socialist, but the standard of living is high for the island’s educated class.
    Norway (pop 5m) has a sovereign wealth fund the envy of the world.
    Those 3 countries have a combined pop. 21 million compare to 7.6 billion globally.

    True capitalism is not fostered at the governmental level in the USA. Instead, we witness corporate socialism for the oligarchy.

    Ferguson writes:

    According to a 2018 Gallup poll, just 56 percent of all Americans have a positive view of capitalism. However, 92 percent have a positive view of “small business,” 86 percent have a positive view of “entrepreneurs,” and 79 percent have a positive view of “free enterprise.”

    Gen Z’s have a different take according to a Harvard Poll, which is biased by its respondents, usually uni students.

    Throughout the 20th Century the ideals of the young have always reflected a socialist worldview, but once they become responsible for their family, there is a shift towards conservative values and a rejection of Marx’s social morality of all things in common (wife sharing, etc).

    Although, from what we see happening in Victoria, maybe the mood is changing, every woman may not becoming a Marxist moll, but the dictatorship’s announcing, “We are all in this together. Do as I say!” And at least half the population appears to be willingly compliant.

    Case for capitalism is supported. Schumpeter’s view of intellectuals, bureaucrats and politicians holds. Who’s pulling the strings behind the curtain is overlooked, as usual.

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