The Rathouse
Rafe Champion
Catallaxy Posts  2007

7 Academic airheads at work. A review of a collection of papers titled "Us and Them" by supposedly reputable Australian academics which appears to indicate that serious scholarly work has been to some extent replaced by partisan polemics.

7 Can the airheads be rolled back, A review of Shelley Gare's book on the trivialisation of the life of the mind. The book perforates some worthy targets (worthy of perforation, that is)  however she has seriously misread the play by blaming economic rationalism for this sorry state of affairs.

9 de Jasay, morbid meditations on Moscow.  de Jasay has adjusted his hopes downwards in view of the increasingly repressive stance adopted by Putin.

9 Blaug backtracks on the Austrians.  Mark Blaug put the philosophy of economics on the map in 1980. For many years he expressed a very low opinion of Austrian economics but he has recently had a change of heart, especially towards Hayek.

12 Minimum wages again.  A critical commentary on the US economists (including some Nobel prizewinners) who support the idea of a minimum wage.

12 Austrian watch, disaster relief.   A preliminary report on a research project on the political economy of the relief effort after the hurricane disaster in New Orleans.

17 Progress with Parsons and Alexander.  A preliminary statement on my research on the development of the ideas of the sociologist Talcott Parsons in the hands of his most energetic (but critical) follower, Jeffrey C Alexander.

17  How the study of the history and philosophy of science went astray under the influence of T S Kuhn.  The Kuhnian diversion. 

19  The game of cricket is used to explore the different factors that need to be taken into account for an adequate explanation of human actions. An offspinners improvement on 'reduction vs existence' 

20 Peter Boettke on the Austrian approach to markets.  

21 Airheads in academia.  Critical comments on a paper by Barry Hindess  in "Us and Them" (reviewed 7 January). Hindess claims that the traditional role of the universities is under threat from economic rationalism. A very suspect case!   

22 Wellek in defence of literature. A tribute Wellek's great contribution to the thoughful study of books and writing and his defence of literature against the onslaught of various intellectual and ideological birds of prey.  

23  A heads up on the the Tanner Lectures, a wonderful series of lectures devoted to the moral aspects of the life of the mind with an all-star cast of poets, philosophers, economists and scientists. For example, Ernest Gellner, Stephan J Gould, Leszek Kolokowski, Octavia Paz, Karl Popper, John Rawls, Joan Robinson, Helmut Schmidt, Amartya Sen (twice), George Stigler.

25 Who is educated then? Floating the suggestion that all educated people should have some understanding of the work of Popper, Hayek and Barzun (to name a few). With some animated discussion in the comments!   

25 Barzun on the decline of public education and the universities in the US between 1945 and the 1980s. The 1983 Preface to the revised edition of his his book titled "Teacher in America".  

28 Boettke on the career and achievements of Hayek.   

28  An introduction to Ludwig Mises, one of the sleeping giants of the 20th century.   


1 Stirring the Popperian possum with the suggestion that Popper followed the positivists and attached too much significance to the issue of the demarcation of science

12 Some thoughts on the adverse changes in the universities in a "decade of shame", from the sixties to the seventies. Standards of learnng and civility could not survive the explosion of numbers and the radicalisation of the humanities and social sciences under the influece of the Vietnam debate.

17 Vietnam revisited.  Another look at the way the debate was confused (and the battle to save South Vietnam was lost) because the Government sacrificed its intellectual and moral credibility by introducing conscription of young men, not even old enough to vote. 

18 Introduction to Bill Hutt's critique of some trade union mythology, noting the positive functions of the trade unions and the unhelpful mythology of the evils of the factory system. 

19 The Lion and the Ostrich. Summary of Arthur Koestler's account of the way the upper and lower classes (or at least the trade unions) in Britain manged to convert the nation from the workshop of the world to an economic basket case.  

19 A progress report on the Mises program (at the Rathouse Research Institute) and various diversions that have spun off from the original plan. 

20 Suppression and disadvantage of trade unions, The first part of paper recounting Bill Hutt's demolition of some deeply entrenched myths about the origins and achievemets of the trade union movement in its  militant mode.  

20 The paper proceeds with Hutt's critique of the myth that the trade unions have contributed to the solidarity of the workers. In fact they created a deep division in the working classes, especially by contributing to unemployment.

21 The use of violence and the threat of violence by the militant trade unions and the way that this ahs not helped the working class as a whole, just the most militant trade nions (at the expense of everyone else).


6 Louis Nowra speaks out on the (then) litttle-recognized problem of violence against women and children in the remote Aboriginal communities.  

13 Convergence in the social sciences (Talcott Parsons, Mises and Popper).

17 Austrian boom and  bust theory revisited.

18 Life among the economists. An amusing parody of the language of anthropology to describe the "tribes" of economists.

21 Jurgen Habermas, idiot or savant? Crit of some careless comments by Habermas on Margaret Thatcher ("no such thing as society") and Karl Popper (depicted as a positivist) which cast doubt on the credibillity of Habermas as an interpreter of speech acts.

23 Mercatus report on some effective free enterprise strategies in wildlife conservation

26 The betrayal of liberalism: the descent into left liberalism. A review of a book documenting some of the philosophical flaws and other blunders that have produced the anti-freedom movement that has appropriated the label of "liberalism" in the US. 

27 Globalization and the gap between rich and poor. The factors that are holding back some of the poor nations while others are moving forward. 

30 Did Max Weber get it wrong? Weber wrote about the iron cage of modern capitalism but the example in front of him was the German welfare state


12  Situational analysis in the third world.  A nuanced approach to aid and intervention in under-developed countries to find out what will work best in the local context.

13  When Robert Manne had views on economics. An attempt to work out how and why Robert Manne's views on economic policy changed (if indeed they have changed) since the time he admitted that he knew nothing about economics but still edited a book that condemned economic rationalism. 

16  Introducing Tyler Cowen, a wide-ranging commentator on economic, cultural and gastronomic matters. 

17  The twentieth century mind - and Bakelite. Some impressions from a book of essays, each providing an overview of  recent developments in various areas of activity. This volume covered the "between-wars" period and indicates the almost complete death of classical liberalism in political economy and social studies. There is also a fascinating chapter on developments in chemistry, including the rise of the new "big molecule" synthetic materials.

19  Congratulations to Chandran Kukathas on his appointment to a chair in Britain. With a review of his book on Hayek.

22  Tyler Cowen on arts funding, indicating the major difference between the US and Continental models of funding, the massive input from private sources in the US, and also the major world-wide cultural outreach from the US, especially after WW2. Inlcuding some support for Quadrant magazine.

22  The George Mason  workshop in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. A heads up on a long list of online papers.

25  Karol Boudreaux and some of the free enterprise activities promoted in Africa under the Enterprise Africa project based at George Mason University.


1 Austrian freebooters - Peter Leeson on piracy. The first of a series of research reports on the organisation and governance of pirate communities.

8 A tribute to Hayek who was born 108 years ago today.

9 Fritz Hayek 4 d Selma Hayek 3. Clash of the titans!

16 Wasted space in economics journals. A prvocative appraisal of the scientific value of a sample of articles in a major academic journal.

17 Positive work by economists - deregulation in Sweden. Describes the way the market for farm products was liberalised by a combined effort of Government ministers and economists.

22 David McKnight on the flaws in socialist thought.  The first of a series of critical comments on David McKnight's attempt to go past the battles between left and right to find a way forward "between left and right".

22 Science and innovation in Australia with reference to Thomas Barlow and his book which attacks some of the widespread misconceptions that people tend to hold on this most interesting and important topic. 

22 David McKnight's misreading of Hayek: a critique of McKnights worthy but inadequate effort to get beyond the ritualistic exchange of abuse between left and right. This inadequate reading of Hayek has since been taken up by Kevin Rudd in an attempt to boost his image as a deep and incisive thinker. Or maybe just to reinforce solidarity with the "dead forest" of the left to make up for this fiscal conservatism?

22 David McKnight on left and right - nonsense on markets

21 Mark Davis and the dead forest of the left. The "dead forest" refers to the mass of leftwing thinkers and commentators whose ideas are dead (like trees sawn off at the base) but they remain standing by propping each other up and intertlinking their branches. This is a crit of some strange views on modern history, "neoliberalism" and the culture wars expressed by Mark Davis.

24 More strange sounds from the dead forest of the left, Shiel on Rundle.  May only be of interest to Australians. Not Austrians!

28. Austrians can count.  An excursion into mathematics by some Austrians.

30. The diversity of the non-left. Pointing out, again, the way that the term "right" is too broad to mean anything unless heavily qualified and pinned down in a context. 


2. How to become an Austrian. Some thoughts on how to get started on Mises and his colleagues.

5. Three strands of Austrian thought. Picking up the "intentionality of mental processes" and the "objective contents of thought" ideas that ran from Brentano and Meinong to the phenomenologists, Husserl and Heidegger.

5. The Austrians on piracy and religion. Reports on some recent work out of the George Mason University.

7. Mises and his little-known work on metaphysics, methods and epistemology

14. George Mason Bloggers with photos of Tyler Cowen, Donald Boudreaux and Peter Boettke. Cowen and Alex Tabarrock  are Marginal Revolution. Boudeaux and Russ Roberts are Cafe Hayek. Boettke and others are The Austrian Economists. Bryan Caplan and Arnold Kling have a blog, as does Robin Hanson.

14. Richard Rorty, what is new and true? A challenge to the admirers of Rorty to explain why his reputation is justified.

15. Minimum wages again.  Report on a study that shredded the latest claims that minimum wages produce good outcomes for workers.

20. A Felix Kaufman poem for the Mises seminar. Kaufman was a Viennese philosopher who attended the Mises seminar, followed by dinner, followed by a session in a coffee shop where he sometimes amused the group with poems of his own composition. Nice idea but not a great poem.

21. Denigration of people...why? An invitation to abusive bloggers to justify or explain their practice.

22. Please explain (re problems of the north). An invitation to people in the know about conditions in the remote Aboriginal communities to explain why they kept quiet about it. And what was the bureaucracy telling successive Ministers over thirty years about the outcomes of while billions of dollars of expenditure?

27. Hans Sennholz, 1922 -2007. In praise of an inspirational teacher

29. The use of knowledge in society. Revisiting some of the themes explored by Hayek in his great paper on the role of dispersed knowledge in sociey.


2. Noel Pearson on the moral vanity of the liberal left. Pearson is one of the Aboriginal leaders who is taking a new direction, turning from passive welfare and the culture of the victim to embrace the opportunities of modern life.

2. Noel Pearson on drug and alcohol abuse, demanding a direct attack on substance abuse in place of a diffuse hope or expectation that other things might be fixed up first.

3. The last billion, Paul Collier on the wretched of the earth. An alternative view to the positions adopted by Sachs and Easterley on foreign aid.

7. Exchange vs value, critique or extension of economic orthodoxy? With a rejoinder from Jason Soon.

21. Fred Sautet's qualified praise of competition law in NZ.

21. Noel Pearson invites the cultural left to rethink their approach to welfare issues and especially the situation of the Aborigines.

24. African AIDS, anatomy of a disaster. Harsh comments on the slow response to AIDS in Africa, also on the  conflicting and contradictory programs that different agencies have put in place.


3. Big state or strong state? Sorting out the difference between big government (big because it is too weak to resist the demands of interest groups) and strong government that does the things that need to be done regardless of pressure from rent-seeking factions.

4. A simple case for free trade. What is the problem with the voluntary exchange of goods and services with people in other parts of the world?

7. Charles Murray in town. Links to some of his most interesting work.

11. Dusting off the Austrian tomes. A piece in the Wall Street Journal on trade cycle theory

14. Pericles on meritocracy. From his great funeral speech for the warriors who died to protect Athens.

15. The strong program in cultural theory vs George Mason. A survey of the career of the sociologist Jeffrey Alexander who picked up the work of Talcott Parsons, helped to develop it and then turned to a program that he calls the strong program in cultural theory. This is contrasted with an alternative program that is being pursued in Economics and related facilities at the George Mason University.

23. Peter Boettke in New Zealand, with a link to the text of a major public lecture that he delivered. 

27 Dang Austro-Hungarians! A quick roll call on the galaxy of talent that came from the old Austro-Hungarian empire. What would we have done without them? The list could be build up from the people who Clive James wrote about in Cultural Amnesia.


7 The use and abuse of maths in economics.

12 Open Society Seminar, with video of Jeremy Shearmur, Steve Fuller and others, revisiting the timeless themes of the modern classic of political philosophy.

14 Skeptic blog with Barry Williams. Check out the new blog run by the Grand Eminence of Australian Skepticism.

25 Academic econ bloggers Boettke and Rodrik  The pros and cons of academic blogging.


1 Jim Belshaw, a busy blogger with several sites including a new one on the history of ideas in Australia and New Zealand.

2 Premature Celebration: Tom Switzer's Quadrant paper dedicated to the proposition that the left have been defeated in the culture wars, (or at least the tide has turned). But I am not so sure! 

3 Fouling the nest - Paul Kelly on some public intellectuals who failed to give credit to the Australian political leadership in recent decades for success on several fronts. Instead they have indulged in moralistic posturing.

4 Tyler Cowen's scathing comments on Naomi Klein and the illicit linkage she has drawn between market liberalism and rightwing atrocities across the globe, from Chile to Iraq. 

4 Liars, damned liars and Joe Stiglitz. A comment on his favourable comment on the absurd Naomi Klein thesis.  

6 Mal Brough's 2007 Alfred Deakin Lecture. A harrowing account of the state of many remote Aboriginal communities and some steps that are being taken to intervene.

11 Support for Peter Bauer on the third world. A recent survey of research indicates that Bauer war correct in his analysis of the causes of under-development and the damage done by most if not all  Western aid.

11 Heterodox economics at the University of Sydney. Jobs advertised in the department of Political Economy.

12 Santa tops Forbes rich list of cartoon characters. Scrooge McDuck way down the list.

12 Howards Way, John Howard has made a dramatic shift in policy on Indiginous Affairs to combine practical reconcilliation with active intervention in the far north and a promise of symbolic but not sorry-saying reconcilliation enshrined in the Constitution.

13 No votes in boongs? Surely mainstream Australians wants an honourable reconcilliation without sorry-saying or other patronising and demeaning policy settings.

14 The evolution of thinking on indiginous issues, noting that John Howard set a new course two years ago to meet the likes of Noel Pearson on middle ground that will deliver real gains in place of symbolism and marginalisation for the majority of Aborigines while others (and many white carpet baggers) grow fat on the Canberra money-tree. 


17 Bruce Beresford on the film industry. Horror stories

18 Jacques Barzun reaches 100 years of age at Nov 30.

27   The Vatican backs merit pay, perform and grow rich!