Archive | May, 2014

How it all began…

22 May

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(A small post trying to dig the past to identify the origins of my interest in political economy and my disposition towards libertarian ideas)

Well, I am not really sure how it all started.

During my graduation days, I was supportive of leftist ideas. I thought such ideas provided a safety net for the poor. During my post graduation, I do not remember having thought much about political economy. However, a distinctive libertarian thought I harbored during those days was that the US subprime crisis was a result of easy monetary policy pursued by the Fed post the dot com bust (and hence I laid the blame for the crisis on the Fed which ran opposite to conventional wisdom of putting the blame on ‘greedy’ bankers). Though I harbored this thought, I was unaware this has anything to do with libertarianism –  in fact, I was unaware of what ‘libertarianism’ even means. At the same time, I remember reading Taleb’s Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness. As I think hard, it is in one of these books (I am not sure which one) Taleb said something similar to the vein that capitalism is the best system as it maximizes the probability of benefiting from randomness (given that a necessary condition for capitalism is freedom without which property rights are meaningless, and freedom is what allows one to position oneself for black swan events). Given that I pretty much took whatever Taleb said as gospel, I remember the above as the first instance of consciously making a value judgement in favor of capitalism.

After my post graduation, came work life and pop macroeconomics became the center stage of my interest in economics. It is during this phase that I came across Milton Friedman’s TV series, ‘Free to Choose‘. And this would easily be the moment I can recollect as the beginning of my interest in political economy. Once you hit off with this brilliant TV series, landing on webpages of prominent libertarians like Tom Woods (Milton Friedman was not a libertarian, but we can keep all this semantics for later. Suffice is to know that like libertarians, Milton Friedman was a strong advocate of free markets) was just a matter of time. And once you are on Tom Woods’ webpage, the libertarian world is thrown open to you – Austrian school of economics, Mises Institute, Robert P Murphy, Cafe Hayek, Lew Rockwell and the likes. My Google Reader (previously, now its Feedly) has some 15 feeds of prominent websites which debate a lot of economics through the lens of political economy (most of the times, I would be hard presses to go through even 5 percent of the posts, but it feels good just to have feeds from them in the hope that one day I will read everything).

Over the years, I have devoured a lot of libertarian literature through these sources and it has been a fascinating journey. Mises Institute is a great resource for everything libertarian. Tom Woods and Robert P Murphy update their blog almost daily, and Tom was kind enough to even reply to a query I had. Cafe Hayek is absolutely brilliant in demolishing statist ideas. My journey has now led me to political philosophy in trying to understand which is the best social (un)order. Needless to say, there is a mountain to read and think over, and it feels like I have only taken a peep.

I am still scratching my head for more events from the past to trace my ideological dispositions. Maybe thinking hard will help. But its all so foggy…