Well, let me introduce you to some of my friends, Francis…

"Hence even the most committed free-market economist would readily admit that governments have a role in providing pure public goods." -- Francis Fukuyama, Political Order and Political Decay, p. 55

8 comments:

  1. Gene, this book came out in September, right? So that means one of the two is true:

    (A) Despite a humongous tradition in an-cap theory--not just Rothbard, but David Friedman, and (say) the anthology of papers published by Stringham through the Independent Institute--Fukuyama has honestly not realized that there are at least 100 living free-market economists who would deny the statement.

    (B) He knows the above but it is inconvenient to his narrative so he lies to the reader.


    Which of the above is it, and why should we get so excited by FF's scintillating analysis over the next few weeks?

    (BTW this comment probably sounds really dismissive and harsh; it's not. I'm genuinely asking.)

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    Replies
    1. Fukuyama is an important thinker, not to say one who doesn't make mistakes!

      And I really don't know the answer to why he said this.

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    2. I'm obviously reacting harshly to his statement since it strikes close to home, but I really don't like this habit among some writers. I've seen it even among ones with whom I agree. I used to do it myself in grad school and I hope I've stamped it out.

      It's when you play stupid for the crowd in order to make a point more powerful.

      The classic example was in the presidential primary debates for 2008 election when Ron Paul talked about blowback, and Rudy G. famously said (paraphrasing), "So 9/11 was the fault of America? I've never heard someone advance a theory like that, I'm frankly astonished."

      Then after the debate talking to Fox guys, Rudy G said something like, "Yeah, RP's 'Blame America First' position reminded me of what King Arab-man said on 9/11, how it was payback for our foreign policy."

      So did Rudy G's google King Arab-man right after the debate? Did he learn the term "Blame America First" in the prior 12 minutes?

      Of course not; he had heard the concept of blowback before.

      By the same token, when Fukuyama writes "even the most committed free-market economist would readily admit that governments have a role in providing pure public goods" he does not literally believe that is a true statement. He surely knows that there exist economists who want the total abolition of the State.

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    3. My guess is he doesn't know this. I bet he thinks Hayek and M. Friedman are the extreme of libertarian economics. Maybe he has heard of Mises.

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    4. Think of it this way: let's say I said "Bob, tell me about the work of Carl Schmidt." Would yo have anything to say?

      And yet Schmidt is a major figure in the history of 20th-century political theory. Outside of one's specialty, it is hard to know everything going on.

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    5. "…there are at least 100 living free-market economists who would deny the statement."

      Just as a clarification, do these same economists understand that "private judges" count as government and that the difference they posit between "public" and "private" is fluff?

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    6. "He surely knows that there exist economists who want the total abolition of the State."

      See this.

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  2. "He surely knows that there exist economists who want the total abolition of the State."
    Aside from the fact he might not know it, he might know of those who do so for *ideological* or *moral* reasons, not economic ones. And wanting the abolition of the state is not the same as denying the state can be involved in providing public goods. You can accept the state does that and still want it abolished because of its costs and bad consequences.

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