2012-09-13

Last Post On This Topic For A While

I don't want to beat a dead horse.

My journey on this Austrian School of Economic Thought trolley has been about six years long. From the beginning, it was racked by controversy, most notably the epistemological controversy I caused at the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada. What readers don't know is that the views I expressed in that article lead one Austrian School insider to tattle on me, running to the well-heeled guardians of Austrian (read: Rothbardian) thought and proclaiming me essentially evil.

I have never played well with in-groups. My personal view of in-groups is that they are more about excluding other people than they are about taking pride in commonalities. I have over three decades of personal experience to back me up on that.

Frankly, I refuse to belong to any group that attempts to force me to tow the party line. That goes for politics, religion, and ideas in general. It also goes for social groups, clubs, workplaces, and anything else. To me, life is about individual happiness, not about inclusion. If the majority of people dislike what I think, do, or say, I can still be a happy, satisfied person. My life does not hang on the words of an in-group.

George Selgin does not go nearly as far as I do when he makes a case this morning for being a good economist, not just a good Austrian economist:
Here it is: search for the word "Austrian" in your research papers, delete it, and rewrite where necessary. Next ask yourself whether what's left can stand on its own merits. Would your fellow Austrians find it interesting and persuasive without the help of all the winking, nodding, and fraternal handshaking aimed at declaring yourself one of the team, and at thereby evading friendly fire? Would they find the conclusions firmly attached by a series of solid links to some indisputable premises, as they should if you are really a competent praxeologist? Are they likely to find the evidence you supply persuasive, should you be so bold as to offer such? Would they, in short, find merit in what you've written even if they had no reason to suspect that you are one of the gang, or even a fellow traveler? If not, then your paper is good for nothing but joining a club that is, face it, all too willing to have you as a member.
Recall that I also quoted Selgin yesterday with regard to the recent Austrian School identity crises occurring out there in Austrian-Land.

Ideas should not be subject to group approval. Ideas are simply sparks of individual thought, brought out into the world by people who believe the world might benefit from knowing them. We can disagree with another person's ideas on the merits or demerits of the ideas themselves.

But when we start believing things merely because those things are attached to our favorite in-group, we are no longer thinking for ourselves.

In light of recent mob-behavior tragedies this past week, it is particularly important to remind my readers and Austrian-adherents in general that in the realm of ideas one can score points with the general public by appealing to their groupthink; but one cannot score points with the truth except by appealing to truth.

I now depart the "shortcomings of orthodox Austrianism" themes. In the future, I intend to take on themes involving groupthink, social pressure discouraging individuality, and the institutions that make it all happen.

I also intend to blog a bit more about fitness.