On the forgetting of Franklin Roosevelt

by Eric on October 18, 2012

Greetings all, and thanks for welcoming me back on a longer-term basis.

Recently a few high-profile commenters have rediscovered Franklin Roosevelt’s relevance. First The Daily Show and then The New Yorker marveled at the aptness of Roosevelt’s cheerful scorn for those who say they will preserve Social Security (and Medicare, one might now add) while simultaneously promising to cut taxes.

It was a position Roosevelt was accustomed to ridiculing, as in this 1944 campaign film (directed by Chuck Jones!) depicting the Republican provision for Social Security:

Screen Shot 2012 10 17 at 9 07 29 AM [click to continue…]

Welcome Eric Rauchway

by Henry Farrell on October 18, 2012

“Eric Rauchway”:http://history.ucdavis.edu/people/rauchway, historian at UC Davis, and co-founder of _The Edge of the American West_ is joining Crooked Timber as a blogger. He’s been a guest blogger for us in the past, and is, I suspect, pretty well known to most CT readers. We’re very happy to have him as part of the group.

Forced to Choose: Capitalism as Existentialism

by Corey Robin on October 18, 2012

I’ve been reading and writing all morning about Hayek, Mises, and Menger. And it occurs to me: the moral secret of capitalism, its existential fundament, is not that we are free to choose but that we are forced to choose. Only when we are confronted with the reality of scarcity, says the Austrian economist, only when we have to reckon with the finite resources at our disposal, are we brought face to face with ourselves.

[click to continue…]

Not Doing It Right

by John Holbo on October 18, 2012

I’m increasingly concerned that a critical concern troll gap is opening up between liberals and conservatives. Liberals, due to our honorable tradition of not being able to take our own side in an argument, have a healthy aptitude for it. We love to talk up, in a ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ sort of way, the good sort of conservatism we’d like to have, if only we could. But conservatives don’t really have a go-to fantasy of the ‘good’ liberal who needs to be rescued from the ‘bad’ liberal. This may be because conservative rhetoric – the rhetoric of reaction – is so dominated by slippery slope arguments. The bad thing about liberalism is its bad spirit, causing it to be the case that apparently moderate policies are, in effect, creeping Jacobinism, due to soul-destroying nihilism or resentment, what have you, that lurks behind. If the spirit of liberalism – as opposed to its letter – is the essential problem, per the slippery slope style, you can’t switch gears smoothly, suddenly coming over all concerned that the spirit of liberalism is in danger of slipping. After all, how much worse could it get than communism and fascism? Where is there for liberalism to slip to but up? [click to continue…]