Tuesday, 29 June 2010

EconTalk this week

Bryan Caplan of George Mason University and blogger at EconLog talks to EconTalk host Russ Roberts about two books: Eugene Richter's Pictures of the Socialistic Future and F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Both books warn against the dangers of socialism. Pictures of a Socialistic Future, published in 1891 is a dystopian novel imagining what life would be like after a socialist revolution. The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, explores the links between economic freedom and political freedom and the inherent similarities between communism and fascism. Both books look at the German roots of centralized planning and the nature of the people who rise to power when the State is powerful. The conversation includes discussion of the these topics as well as the rule of law and the amount of state control of the economy in Nazi Germany.

1 comment:

dragonfly said...

I can't claim to have listened attentively to the whole podcast, but I was intrigued by the different ideas of why people at the top of socialist type regimes are so monstrous. It is believed that bullies/sociopaths are often attracted to the so-called caring professions (nursing, social work), and to working for charities. This gives them access to vulnerable people, and also helps to mask who they really are. I have personal experience of one such person who had worked as a social worker, went to see Nelson Mandela when he came to NZ, and who was a serial tormentor of other human beings. I know of someone else who was also a serial bully and who had pictures of Jesus, Buddha and the like on her wall. I remain deeply suspicious of people who are no longer young who profess idealism and espouse certain types of causes.

As for power corrupting – not really I don't think. The real measure of people (in my opinion, anyway) is how they behave when they are in a position of power over others, but not particularly accountable for what they do. Power has not corrupted those who behave badly in this situation – it has merely brought out the real them that was always there but had not previously manifested itself. Hence so many atrocities in war time – it gives people who were never fundamentally very nice the opportunity to be themselves, and there are more of those people out there than most of us realise.