Saturday, October 02, 2010

Bastiat, anyone?

The October 2 edition of the New York Times contains an article by Kate Zernike on the emergence of a kind of canon among Tea Partyites and followers of Glenn Beck (“Movement of the Moment Looks to Long-Ago Texts”).

These include imposing works by the Austrian economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, as well as some more ephemeral items. Perhaps the most surprising figure in the roster is the French opponent of socialism Frédéric Bastiat, whose “The Law” was published in 1850. Michael C. Behrent provides an excellent account of Bastiat at For their part, Tea Party adepts have now created a Bastiat Institute:

If memory serves, most of these books were already being pushed by Libertarian bookstores forty years ago. In other words, the Tea Party folks have simply ripped off a reading list devised by a movement that has recently seemed to be on the ropes.

Still championed by the well-funded Cato Institute in Washington D.C., official Libertarianism sustained a serious body blow when its advocacy of deregulation came to be seen as one of the culprits of the world economic crisis that began a few years ago. I wonder what my Libertarian friends think of this Tea Party usurpation?

A side benefit of the promotion of this canon is that it will get some people back into the habit of buying and reading books. It may be that the Gutenberg Era is not yet dead.



Post a Comment

<< Home