The model for relations between Brussels and Moscow adopted soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed to assume that Russia would gradually converge towards European norms and values. It did not happen. For the Russian leadership the Europeanization of Russia had a very different meaning: the creation of a ‘common European home’, to be built anew and with equal contributions from both sides. …Bruno Maçães (2018). The Dawn of Eurasia. On the Trail of the New World Order, p 193-194
Russia does not want to replace the liberal world order with a world without rules, but it does believe that such a world is the natural state of mankind and, therefore, that chaos is only to be avoided by the creative exercise of power by a strong sovereign. This is the case for international affairs no less than for domestic politics.
We have now run over the three fundamental laws of nature, that of the stability of possession, of its transference by consent, and of the performance of promises. ’Tis on the strict observance of those three laws, that the peace and security of human society entirely depend; nor is there any possibility of establishing a good correspondence among men, where these are neglected.David Hume (1739). A Treatise of Human Nature, Book III, Part II, Section VI
If you want to combat error, critique your in-group. You speak their language and they trust you, so you might persuade someone.Bryan Caplan (2022). Twitter
If you want to raise your status, critique your out-group. They won’t listen, but your in-group will love it.
The world is not so governed from above that private and social interest always coincide. It is not so managed here below that in practice they coincide. It is not a correct deduction from the Principles of Economics that enlightened self-interest always operates in the public interest. Nor is it true that self-interest generally is enlightened; more often individuals acting separately to promote their own ends are too ignorant or too weak to attain even these. Experience does not show that individuals, when they make up a social unit, are always less clear-sighted than when they act separately.John Maynard Keynes (1926). The End of Laissez-Faire.
Don’t trust people who want to tell everyone for free that they know the “right” technology mix for the future. If they really knew, they could make a fortune. Why would they give away that knowledge to everyone else for free?Bruno Prior (2022). When market failure attracts rent-seekers, Institute of Economic Affiars blog
Our society will always remain an unstable and explosive compound as long as political power is vested in the masses and economic power in the classes. In the end one of these powers will rule. Either the plutocracy will buy up the democracy or the democracy will vote away the plutocracy. In the meantime the corrupt politician will thrive as a concealed broker between the two.Irving Fisher (1919). Economists in Public Service: Annual Address of the President, American Economic Review
The desire to put mankind into the saddle is the mainspring of most economic study.Alfred Marshall (1903). Speech to the Cambridge University Senate.
For most economic decisions, people do still make better choices when the stakes are higher — but this isn’t a universal principle. Are you so sure, for example, that decisions about who to marry are made more rationally than those about which TV show to watch? Maybe they are, but it’s not entirely obvious.Tyler Cowen (2021). Covid Showed That We’re Bad at Big Decisions. Bloomberg.
Effective Altruists know that before you can make the world a better place, you must first figure out how to make the world a better place. This in turn requires you to prioritize the world’s problems – and calmly assess how much human action can remedy each of them. Social justice activists imagine that these questions are easy – and as a result their movement has become one of the world’s major problems. Probably like the twentieth-worst problem on Earth, but still.Brian Caplan (2021). The Good Group
If the market is genuinely perceived as an open-ended nondetermined evolutionary process in which the essential driving force is human choice, any insinuation, however subtle of a ‘telos’ [goal] toward which this process can be predicted to move must be inherently misleading.James Buchanan and Viktor Vanberg (1991). The Market as a Creative Process, Economics And Philosophy, 7, p 180
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together … It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1848). The Communist Manifesto, p 224 (ed. 2002, Penguin)
Political economy is a mere skeleton unless it has a little human covering, and filling out, a little human bloom upon it, and a little human warmth in it.Charles Dickens (1854). Household Words: A Weekly Journal, geciteerd in Sylvia Nasar (2011). Grand Pursuit. The Story of the People who made Modern Economics, p 10
(W)hen an author asserts that “history proves” a point, the reader should simply read instead, “I propose to assume without evidence.”Frank H. Knight (1924). The Limitations of Scientific Method in Economics, in The Ethics of Competition, p119
“[T]he general direction of trade cannot be a science; for it is impossible. … We ought to be persuaded that, in order to attain to that knowledge which is requisite for the direction of commerce, it is not enough to know the different interests of different nations, provinces and societies; but we must also understand the interests and connections of individuals, together with the quality and value of each commodity. He therefore, who is mistaken in the least article, will direct amiss, and enact preposterous laws.Marquis d’Argenson (1751). The General Directing of Trade Cannot Be a Science (edited by Benoît Malbranque)
… [T]he instinct of the bee does more in this particular, than the genius of the greatest politician.”
The margin for the possible improvement of their lot is confined within narrow barriers which cannot be passed and the problem of their elevation is hopeless. As a body, they will not rise at all. A few, more energetic or more fortunate than the rest, will from time to time escape … but the great majority will remain substantially where they are. The remuneration of labor, as such, skilled or unskilled, can never rise much above its present level.John Elliot Cairnes (1874). Some Leading Principles of Political Economy, p 291