Category Archives: Taxation

Montesquieu and the US: explaining the US’s Presidential aberration

That pioneer political scientist Montesquieu‘s theory of the separation of powers was both a very odd take on the English system of government (which he claimed it to be) but also very influential in the drafting of the US Constitution. Listening to a paper on considerations of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of Laws by Louis Althusser and Albert Hirschman, a […]

Silver is the monetary metal with proven historical resilience

This is based on a comment I made here: Milton Friedman suggested that the pre-1873 mix of silver standard, gold standard, and dual standard countries was possibly more stable than having almost all the major countries on the gold standard.  I think he is correct: that international monetary order certainly lasted a lot longer. The […]

Migration complexities and the campaigns against social bargaining

This is based on a comment I made here. Coming from a country (Australia) with a much higher proportional immigration flow than the US, I find US debates over migration odd. First, the level of illegal immigration in the US is clearly a huge problem. It distorts the debate, creates a black market in labour and gives lots […]

The founding falsities of postcolonialism

In his discussion with anthropologist Philip Carl Salzman, evolutionary psychologist and YouTuber Gad Saad offers (at 8.48) the following: By the way, in terms of generative grammar, whenever when I see the word ‘post’ before anything then that raises a flag that it’s bullshit. So post = bullshit; postmodernism, postcolonialism, post-structuralism. So, maybe Chomsky can one day weigh in on why the introduction of post implies that we are […]

Are we heading towards peak globalisation? The ages of trade, globalisation and IT

This is based on a comment I made here. The history of (long distance) trade can be divided into 4 eras, one of which is regional and transitional: Continental-coastal: outside local areas, trade was limited to thin networks of high value items with some (highly fluctuating) upward tendency in the extent of such networks, but […]

Defending openness with cognitive closure

The Economist recently had a piece claiming that the left-right divide had been overtaken by the open-closed divide. It had this to say on the Brexit vote: So far, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has been the anti-globalists’ biggest prize: the vote in June to abandon the world’s most successful free-trade club was […]

Black boxes, the rectification of names and the revival of slavery

The Chinese sage Kong Qiu (551-479 BC) (Kongzi “Master Kong”), known to the West as Confucius–which is derived from Kong Fuzi “Grand Master Kong”–had a doctrine Zhèngmíng, normally translated as “rectification of names“. There is a straightforward statement of the doctrine in the Analects: A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve. If names […]

States start with violence and expropriation

I came across this passage in a collection entitled States and Development: Historical Antecedents of Stagnation and Advance (pdf): A realistic, even if stylized, account begins with the coalition building in which the elites of an emergent state are likely to engage, both with other power holders and with economically successful interests (p.11). It is in a similar […]

History and surplus: 10,000 years in one blog post

Human history has largely been driven by the creation and use of surplus production — that is, production beyond subsistence. (Subsistence meaning sufficient to sustain life and reproduction.) The change from prehistory to history is very much a matter of the generation and use of surplus production. There are essentially only three ways for such surplus […]

The hollow states of Islam

Reading Norman Davies’s Vanished Kingdoms, it struck me how much Islamic states–across most of the history of Islam–resembled the fluid warlord states of Europe in the centuries immediately after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, but did not resemble the institutionally resilient Christian states of the later medieval period. These divergent paths came from the very different internal dynamics […]