Advocates of Reason: 23 January 2013

Man has only one tool to fight error: reason.

Ludwig von Mises

1. A blog you should follow: Generation Y, by Yoani Sánchez. I’m currently reading her book Havana Real, which I think is a collection of blog posts from 2007–2010, and I love it. She writes on daily life in Cuba under the Castro regime, helping towards the objective of establiHavana Real (Sanchez)shing a free society there. While it’s not surprising, I think it’s interesting that the way she describes Cuba is similar to how a Soviet would have described the Soviet Union during the decade prior to its collapse. A great excerpt from the book,

I learned a long time ago that the best way to fool “security agents” is by making public everything one thinks. To sign our names, speak our opinions, and not hide anything disarms their dark maneuvers from vigilance.

— Yoani Sánchez, Havana Real (New York: Melville House, 2011), p. 23.

While Sánchez is an infinitely better writer than I am and her experiences are personal, reading the book reminds me of this piece published on Mises Daily: “What the State Fears Most: Information.” (The book also reminds of Jeffrey Tucker; this is the kind of stuff — evading, circumnavigating, and fighting the State — he’d really enjoy.)

2. Every once in a while I bring up some of my Wikipedia work, much of it dealing with tanks (especially Spanish tanks). As it turns out, on 5 February 2013, Wikipedia will run “Tanks in the Spanish Army” on the main page (the longest Wikipedia article I’ve ever written, I think; all the photographs are mine, too) — here is the blurb. I have what amounts to a tacit New Years’ resolution to work on the articles of a few economists (probably W.H. Hutt first), but progress is slow.

3. I was looking through a couple of the years in the New York Review of Books archives, and I found some review pieces on some interesting books: Lewis Coser on Fritz Machlup‘s The Production and Distribution of Knowledge in the United States; Oscar Gass on a number of books on Soviet Russia; Ben Seligman reviews a book by David Bazelon on “paper money” that might be of interest to intellectual opponents of the current monetary system. These are all reviews from the early 1960s, if I remember correctly, so it puts us in the context of the intellectual air of that time.

4. Matias Vernengo, “What Makes Capitalism Capitalism.” This is a follow-up post to a Twitter debate between him, blogger Unlearningecon, and myself on what capitalism is (and, actually, much more than that, including methodology). I still disagree with him, but I’ll reserve my opinion for an actual dedicated essay.

5. “A Brief History of Macro.” I still haven’t finished reading this piece, but it should be of interest to anyone trying to get a handle on modern macroeconomics. Related, I wonder if it would be more fruitful to avoid the micro and macro dichotomy and instead classify economics on a gradient of complexity. If we were to do this, a lot of the modern macro would probably fall pretty close to micro on the gradient, and subjects like complexity theory and institutional analysis would be closer to the opposite pole.