Arnold Kling  

Caplan on Hayek, Richter, and Socialism

Soccer and the Law of Large Nu... Russ Roberts on Hayek...

Russ Roberts interviews Bryan Caplan. The overall theme is the arguments about socialism. For example, why has socialism produced evil leaders? Is it power that corrupts? Is it that the contest for power selects ruthless individuals? Or is it that socialist ideologues are "born bad" (have personality disorders). Bryan seems to make the case for the latter.

As I recall, Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer" argues that political zealots are people who are have transformed their personal emotional problems into a political agenda. (Or maybe that was my father's gloss on Hoffer.) That is consistent with the "born bad" model of political extremism.

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CATEGORIES: Political Economy

COMMENTS (4 to date)
fundamenalist writes:

According to traditional Christianity, everyone is born bad. The question is "why are some worse than others?"

To paraphrase CS Lewis, there is no tyrant like a do gooder. Those tyrants out for pure power and wealth will sometimes suffer from their own conscience and relent, but do-gooders never suffer from doubt about the "goodness" of their motives or their plan. Socialists are the ultimate do-gooders. No amount of murder will convince them that somethign is wrong with the plan. Socialism results in about 100 million murders in the 20th century, all for the public good. But modern socialists never doubt that the problem is the ideology, just the individual tyrant.

guthrie writes:

I haven't yet heard the interview, but I thought Bryan's case was that socialism itself, as a philosophy, was 'born bad', and the leaders naturally take this corrupt concept to its conclusion?

fundamentalist writes:

guthrie, I haven't heard it yet, either, but now that you mention it, I think you're right. I read something of Bryan's take on it elsewhere and I think that is his position that socialism is born bad.

guthrie writes:

Yeah, his recent posts on the subject seem to indicate not that the persons were off balance, but the whole system. I'll have to listen to the interview when I get off work...

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