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Plus çà blog...

I recently came across a blog by a geezer named Tocqueville. It's called Democracy In America. I'm a little late to this game, I'm afraid -- I guess this blog has been around since about 1835.

He's got some punchy media analysis of right-wing talk radio in there. For example:

When an idea has taken possession of the mind of the American people, whether it is just or unreasonable, nothing is more difficult than to root it out. [...] I attribute this effect to the very cause that at first, it would seem, ought to prevent it from occurring -- freedom of the press. Peoples in whom this freedom exists are attached to their opinions by pride as much as by conviction. They love them because they seem just to them, and also because they are their choice, and they hold to them not only as something true, but also as something that is their own.

Yeah, so anyway... I've been reading this guy for the first time in all my many years. I'd always heard this book was an astonishing work and guess what? It really is. I'm going through yellow highlighters like there was no tomorrow.

I bought the 2000 Right-Wing Financed edition, translated, edited, and with an introduction by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop...

For financial support we are grateful to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; to the John M. Olin Foundation; to Robert S. Krupp of San Francisco, California, through the American Council of Trustees and Alumni; and to our generous employer, Harvard University.

...just so I could be sure I was getting the worst-case scenario of this geezer. I read their 90+ page introduction to the work and despite their best efforts, they couldn't even ruin it for me.

Yeah, so if you haven't read this book, you should. It's astonishing, just like they always told you it was.


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Would you like to know a scary not-so-secret about me? I was an Olin Fellow in law school. There was a scholarship, and you had to write a proposal and take a class or two in law and econ, and I thought...hmmmm...know your enemy; plus I already knew I'd probably be doing antitrust work after graduation, so a working knowledge of econ would be good...I just thought it would be so funny if my Olin-sponsored paper turned out to be very left wing...

I never finished my paper, though, and so I only got the first half of the grant. The reason I never finished the paper was, well, a bit of insecurity and intimidation in the face of the Olin faculty's obvious skepticism and almost-but-not-quite hostility toward my topic, which was something related to the actual efficiency of employee ownership (i.e., very pro-labor).

Now my lefty cred is always going to be up for debate...

Well, at least you got some of their money. Too bad you never completed the paper, though. The employee ownership paper could have been convincing precisely because you had to write it in the face of hostility. As you say, know your enemy, and I've always found the best arguments I've made have been when I knew all my opponent's arguments and could see why they were convinced by them. Only when you've figured out all of that can you make an argument that takes the other side apart and thereby introduces some new blood into the debate.

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