EDIT: Text of a Twitter DM exchange where Jack and I accidentally started hashing out the essay appended to the bottom.
The Neoreaction a Basilisk Kickstarter is presently having its second-best day so far, meaning that it’s stormed through the “Theses on Trump” threshold, and we’re now looking at the $8000 stretch goal of me and Jack writing an essay on Austrian School economics. (Also, there’s now a Twitter poll for what the order of the next two stretch goals should be. And a $7000 mini-stretch goal on the Kickstarter to check out.) Unlike “Theses on Trump” and “The Blind All-Seeing Eye of Gamergate,” there’s no demo of the Austrian School essay written – it doesn’t even have a for-certain title yet. But I can at least talk a little about why it’s a thing, and why I asked Jack to write about it. (And Jack will be along later to add his perspective.) And if it sounds interesting, well, the link’s at the top of the post.
So, first of all, why this goes in a book with everything else. Which is pretty simple – the Austrian School is a tremendously influential school of thought within libertarianism. Moldbug’s a huge fan. So is Vox Day. So were Ted Cruz’s advisors, hence his insane plan to go back to the gold standard. So like Trump and Gamergate, it’s firmly in the alt-right constellation. But that’s why it’s relevant, not why I’m doing it.
The thing that doesn’t come up a lot with the Austrian School is that they’re insane cranks. And I mean that in an almost good way, because I’m an occultist and have a soft spot for lunatic crackpots. But there’s no question that’s what the Austrian School is. They reject the utility of both empiricism and mathematics to economics, instead building their entire system out of what they call “praxeology,” which is a narrative-based approach whereby the entire system of economics is derived as a set of supposedly necessary implications of the allegedly self-evident premise “individual human beings act.” They are not taken seriously by any actual reputable academic economists – their influence is entirely down to the fact that their conclusions flatter libertarianism, so their obvious methodological madness is largely overlooked or, even more humorously, adopted in spite of its flaws.
One of the things Neoreaction a Basilisk definitely is is a critique of the entire model of philosophy from first premises, so this sort of “start from an axiom and build an entire theory of how the global economy should function” argument is a particularly apt target. But I’m also fascinated because one of the default positions of libertarians tends to be that Marx is an economic crank. And there are certainly ways you can argue this – he’s not working in any traditionally mathematical/empirical mode either, after all, and has a similar tendency towards narrative approaches. As I said, I don’t think being a crackpot is a problem. But it’s definitely weird that they dismiss Marx out of hand as a crank while taking Mises and Rothbard seriously.
But economics aren’t a field I have a ton of knowledge of, and so interesting as this seemed, it wasn’t an essay I felt equipped to write. Thankfully one of my best friends is an avid Marxist more than equipped to tackle the business of comparing and contrasting Mises and Marx as economic systems while I muck around with subjecting them to textual analysis. So I asked him if he’d be willing to co-write a stretch goal essay, and now here we are just $1750 from having to actually do the thing.
Or at least, that’s my understanding. Like I said, Jack will be along later to explain why he agreed to do such a silly thing. (And it apparently wasn’t because I’m going to pay him, as he didn’t realize I intended to give him a cut of this next stretch goal until recently. This is why you should always employ Marxists. They’re always so happy to find out that you only intend to mildly exploit their labor.)
EDIT: Jack’s in the comments, and here’s he and I goofing off on Twitter about the topic:
Jack: Well, I worship Shelley’s Demogorgon, who explodes into the two chariots of revolution – beautiful and terrible
Phil: OK – here’s a very pragmatic question for my life. Three books by or related to Marx you wish I had read. Go.
Phil: I think the goal should be something fairly readable. Just with a starting approach that’s completely not that.