Salamancans and Austrians

In his researches into Hayek’s role in the decision to hold the 1981 conference of the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) in Pinochet’s Chile, Corey Robin discovered a 1979 letter from Hayek to another MPS member in which he enthusiastically - and, as it transpires, successfully - endorsed Madrid as a conference venue. 

Robin goes on to write:

For several years, Hayek had been growing increasingly excited about the possibility that “the basic principles of the theory of the competitive market were worked out by the Spanish scholastics of the 16th century.” For reasons still obscure to me, he seemed positively ecstatic about the notion that “economic liberalism was not designed by the Calvinists but by the Spanish jesuits.” (In his History of Economic Analysis, Schumpeter also had argued “that the very high level of Spanish sixteenth-century economics was due chiefly to the scholastic contributions.” But it didn’t seem to transport him in the way it did Hayek.)
Hayek insisted that the conference be shipped for a day 132 miles northwest of Madrid in order “to celebrate at Salamanca”—the university town where this specific branch of early modern natural law theory was formulated—”the Spanish origins of liberal economics.” ...

TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 7 Kickstarter

Eruditorum Press is pleased to announce the launch of our latest Kickstarter, for TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 7: Sylvester McCoy. You can check it out here. The goal is a modest $2000 which, given that it's made it to $165 in the time it took me to log into the site and start this post, I expect we're going to make, but there's stretch goals every $1000 after that all the way up to $14,000, which will add up to thirteen bonus essays if we can make it through them all. The crown jewel is probably at $10,000, where I'll do an interview on the Sylvester McCoy era with the legendary Kate Orman, but there's good stuff throughout, from covering Mark Gatiss's Doctor Who debut Nightshade all the way up to finally writing about The Pit. (And no, that's not the actual cover; it's just what James had time to design this month. Though I do kinda love it.)

You may be wondering why I'm doing a Kickstarter for Volume 7 given that I didn't for the initial releases of any previous TARDIS Eruditorum. Two basic reasons. 1) Books ...

The Proverbs of Hell 34/39: The Great Red Dragon

THE GREAT RED DRAGON: After thirty-three episodes named after food, we change gears abruptly to episodes named after works of art by William Blake. This episode does not designate a specific work but rather a series of four paintings in a larger series of water colors illustrating the Bible completed between 1800 and 1806 four of which have titles beginning “The Great Red Dragon.” Thankfully we still have food to illustrate this episode as part of the delightfully barmy decision to let Hannibal still cook in prison, and we can get on to the Blake works starting next episode. 

Although Time has on a few occasions in its history had articles on Blake exhibitions, he is not generally considered cover material, and if he were it seems unlikely The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun would be the image gone for. But for all its mild silliness, there’s a certain logic to having Dolarhyde encounter the Great Red Dragon in a print magazine, given that Dolarhyde exists in a constant tension with modernity, as we’ll get to.

The first thing to be emphasized about Dolarhyde is his intense physicality—he is, as they say, a ...

Saturday Waffling (January 27th, 2018)

Morning all. The Kickstarter for TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 7: Sylvester McCoy will, unless something goes weirdly wrong, start on Thursday. I'm finalizing the list of stretch goals, which will be the added essays for the bolume, and I wanted to solicit input on McCoy-era stuff I've not covered that you're hoping for in the book version. It can be Virgin or BBC Books novels, Big Finish stories, other media, Pop Between Realities stuff, or larger questions you'd like me to wrestle with. 

Nightshade is already on the list, and will be the lowest stretch goal, so you're almost certain to get that. The final stretch goal will be "force Phil to read The Pit." There are others I'm pretty sure to have on there, but I'll leave it vague for now and let you suggest what you will.

Also, due to the existing number of McCoy entries and the fact that there's some definite chaff in there (both Pop Between Realities stuff that only exists because I couldn't keep a pace of three novels a week and novels that just didn't work out as essays), there's a very high ...

Trot On, Hayek!

Another little detour, away from both the recent starwarsing (which will be continued) and from the main line of all this Austriana.  Once again, this is a long version of a section of the essay 'No Law for the Lions and Many Laws for the Oxen is Liberty', co-written by myself and Phil for his new book Neoreaction a Basilisk, which you - yes you! - can purchase for non-gold backed fiat currency.  Buy a copy today - it's the only rational calculation!


Ludwig von Mises - founder of the shittest cult of personality since selfhood itself was invented - famously declared, in an article published in 1920 which was subsequently developed into a book-style object, that socialism - by which he meant any society in which the means of production were commonly owned - was impossible, unworkable. The timing of publication was undoubtedly tied to the fact that, in 1920, it looked to most observers as if the infant Soviet Union was about to expire a mere three years or so after its birth. Mises was positioning himself, with gleeful anticipation, to be able to dance on the grave of the world’s first workers’ state, shouting “told you so!”  Unfortunately for ...

An Increasingly Inaccurately Named Trilogy: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

The obvious starting point is the dualism that creatively defines the sequel trilogy, with J.J. Abrams’s faithful recitations of iconography on either end of Johnson’s far weirder and more difficult approach to doing a Star Wars. Neither director needed to do Star Wars, but for very different reasons. Abrams had already defined himself as a classically minded reinventer of classic genre tropes, and the franchise was merely a bigger version of what he’d already done with Star Trek. Johnson, meanwhile, was a rising indie visionary with ideas of his own and while jumping over and doing a big genre film would no doubt open new options for his own work, he was doing perfectly fine.

There is virtually no way of describing the two where Johnson does not come across as the more interesting filmmaker. He is, frankly, a bizarre and unprecedentedly brave choice for the franchise—to put it with maximal uncharitableness, the first time a Star Wars film has ever been helmed by a real director. And it’s no surprise that the result is fundamentally unlike other Star Wars movies. We might start with the end, noting that the final shot, in which Star Wars merchandise becomes the ...

Forward, to the Past! 2 - Episode 2: First Order of Business



Even as it complicates the Star Wars universe in some ways, the sequel trilogy clings close to the old liberalism vs. fascism dichotomy that dominated the politics of the original trilogy and prequel trilogy, and which dominates fantasy narratives generally. (See this by Phil, for instance.) The First Order’s politics is essentially contentless. They hate the Republic because reasons. They wear black and grey uniforms, and have red and black banners, and rallies, and they’re therefore fascists, and the fascists hate liberal democracy because they just do. This dichotomy, which is pervasive throughout stories of this kind (look at Harry Potter for instance) tells us something about the permissible horizons of ideology in the capitalist mass culture industries. It is this which gives rise to the syndrome I talked about in my villains essay, in which I point out (amongst other things) that villains are usually the only people in stories like this who are trying to fundamentally change the world. 

Actually, the original trilogy scores slightly better on this than many other such narratives. It is set in a period when the fascists have already won, and the people trying to change the world are the ...

The Proverbs of Hell 33/39: Digestivo

DIGESTIVO: An after-dinner (and after-coffee) drink such as grappa or limoncello. As we’ve completed the actual Italian portion of our adaptation of Hannibal in order to return to the US, this is on the whole sensible.

JACK CRAWFORD: Hannibal Lecter, il Mostro di Firenze, narrowly escapes the Questura. That how the story goes?

INSPECTOR BENETTI: Missed him by that much. The good Dottor Lecter is once more in the wind. But he left one last victim. Open him the way Lecter opened the other one. Open him all the way.

Something of a rarity in Hannibal, Benetti is an utter shithead who gets to display this act of staggering and monstrous corruption without any consequences. He disappears from the narrative entirely, having nothing to contribute past this point. Indeed, this is the last scene to be set in Italy, and there is essentially no unfinished business there, this dickbag excepted. 

CHIYOH: You're sitting at Hannibal's table. You know him. You know Will.

JACK CRAWFORD: I know them. They are identically different, Hannibal and Will.

This is a deeply odd time for Jack to lapse into gnomic hedging, even if it is generally his default state. “Identically different” ...

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