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Category Archives: Books

The Rotten Heart of Europe

Bernard Connolly‘s The Rotten Heart of Europe: Dirty War for Money is a jeremiad against European monetary union first published in 1995. Its publication led to the author’s sacking from the European Commission, where he had been senior monetary and foreign exchange economist. This is not, as Connolly a matter of saying the “Emperor has no clothes” but […]

The Nazism of our time

A recurring theme of Algerian-American law academic’s Karima Bennoune‘s moving and informative Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism is the disastrous consequences of pandering to Muslim fundamentalism. For example, Karima Bennoune’s Pakistani interlocutors note how important the “Islamisation” program of Zia ul-Haq‘s regime was in encouraging fundamentalism (p.241). The British […]

Ahistorical pomposity and gnostic sneering: why academics write deep crap about “neoliberalism”

Humanities and social science academics write a remarkable amount of nonsense about “neoliberalism”, typically understanding neither the reasons for the general shift in public policy nor the motivations and ideas behind it. A nice example of such nonsense is provided in a post by philosopher Robin James: neoliberals think everything in the universe works like a […]

Unhelpful dichotomies

I recently finished The Creation of Inequality: How Our Prehistoric Ancestors Set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire by Kent Flannery & Joyce Marcus, a very accessible rendering for the lay audience of a huge amount of anthropological and archaeological data about the development of state societies. At the end of Chapter Twenty-Two (“Graft and Imperialism”), there is […]

The evolution of social bargains — operative not normative

I was reading Yoram Barzel‘s property rights analysis (pdf) of the rise of Parliamentary government in England, when the full force of his critique of normative concepts of the rise of parliamentarianism and representative government hit me. That Iraq is busily messily falling apart, following on from–and partly a consequence of–Syria doing so, with the advance of the Islamic State of […]

Too big not to fail: the rise and fall of Fannie Mae

The debate over the role (if any) of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in the sub-prime crisis, and thus the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), often seems to be a stand-in for other issues. In particular, to what extent was either financial meltdown the consequences of government regulation (or the lack thereof). The answer to the former question is: almost entirely, […]

The shipping news

The IT explosion has led to a dramatic increase in the casual use of TLA’s (three letter acronyms) and neologisms.  One of which is “shipping” — postulating a relationship between two fictional characters (typically from a TV series) which is not an explicit part of the story. A lot of fanfic (fiction written by fans) is […]

The reactionary effect of Marxism

Who make up the one group that humanities and social science academics typically feel entitled to analyse and pontificate about without actually studying them in any serious sense? Without talking to them, following them around, examining their letters, documents and memoirs, or reading the work of anyone who has. That would be business folk. (And […]

The distance of the recent past

Recently. I went on a bit of a Criminal Minds (2005- ) binge, watching the first 7 seasons. Still looking for some more profiling action, I then re-watched The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The film holds up well. But what struck me, re-watching it, was how primitive the technology seemed. In Criminal Minds, it is all […]

Legal systems very different from our own

Economist David Friedman talking on legal systems very different from our own, the title of a course he teaches and of a forthcoming book (the draft of which is up on his website for comment). He sets out how medieval Sharia worked, before the rise of the nation-state. Including observing that (in its dynamics): Sharia […]