, 18 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
@D_Kuehn If you are hanging with Mt. Pelerin, with its Lykourgan moments and its "the merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally" and "by the slogan that 'it is not your fault' that the demagoguery of unlimited democracy, assisted by a scientistic psychology" 1/
@D_Kuehn has come to the support of those who claim a share in the wealth of our society without submitting to the discipline to which it is due", either you dissent strongly and sharply or... we read between the lines. A community of rough equals forming a Mayflower Compact might well 2/
@D_Kuehn decide that log-rolling and rent-seeking are sufficient dangers that expenditure programs should require a 5/6 legislative majority. A state that has been marked by a right-wing coup seven years before and that has been throwing leftists out of helicopters into the South 3/
@D_Kuehn Atlantic cannot legitimately have any such rule imposed on its post-return to democracy constitution. You can say Buchanan was naive: naive about who he was hanging with at Mt. Pelerin, naive about the dangers of harnessing the energy behind segregation academies to his longer 4/
@D_Kuehn run goal of privatizing public education, naive in seeing the milieu he had grown up in as not one of white supremacy but simply as two separate-but-largely-equal castes living side-by-side, naive in saying that a South left alone would harmoniously reform itself before the 5/
@D_Kuehn twelfth of never, naive in backing Orville Faubus against Eisenhower on Little Rock, naive in excluding those (like me) who do not see the New Deal as a serious threat to human liberty from his TJC. But there is a point beyond which naivete, like stupidity, becomes a choice 6/
@D_Kuehn and a moral flaw.

You say that Buchanan has "ideas which coming out of anyone else’s mouth we might fairly tag as anti democratic but those need to be read in the context of his work on democracy. I think we can say in his hands Wicksellian unanimity and libertarianism lead 7/
@D_Kuehn to some conclusions we might not want to endorse but they’re part of a democratic theory." And I say: a democratic theorist in Chile at the end of the 1970s could not have plumped for a 5/6 expenditure supermajority without also plumping for a steep wealth initial wealth tax 8/
@D_Kuehn and land reform.

All that said... the most important thing about Buchanan is (1) The Calculus of Consent et seq. I AM ONE OF THE TWO PEOPLE AT THE MIT FACULTY LUNCH IN 1986 TO DEFEND BUCHANAN'S NOBEL PRIZE AS A REASONABLE THING.

But he was also (2) an academic operator 9/
@D_Kuehn overpromising the political mojo that his TJC would generate for right-wing causes, (3) goes far beyond the bounds of academic integrity by claiming his TJC has no place for people who think that "the enlargement of the functions of government, involved in the task of 10/
@D_Kuehn adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest, would seem to a nineteenth-century publicist or to a contemporary American financier to be a terrific encroachment on individualism. I defend it, on the contrary, both as the only practicable 11/
@D_Kuehn means of avoiding the destruction of existing economic forms in their entirety and as the condition of the successful functioning of individual initiative"--people like me. And then there is (4), (5), and (6): northerners should butt out of the southern power-structure's 12/
@D_Kuehn business, the people will vote themselves bread-and-circuses and produce economic chaos unless democracy is properly chained by the constitution, and racial animosity is useful in boosting the coalition to roll back the New Deal. In (4) and (6) Buchanan is merely a southern 13/
@D_Kuehn white gentleman of his time, no better and no worse than the mean. But I like CoC so much that it breaks my heart that he was no better and wiser on these issues. On... (5) we seem to have a difference of opinion. Buchanan's political theory is "democratic" in the sense that 14/
@D_Kuehn he requires that everybody vote for the constitution when placed behind the veil of ignorance. And yet he reaches conclusions that are "fairly tag[ged] as anti democratic... in his hands Wicksellian unanimity and libertarianism lead to some conclusions we might not want to 15/
@D_Kuehn endorse".

I think the way to resolve this disagreement is that we have different definitions of what a "democratic theory" is. You see the starting point as primary. I see the ending point.

Not, mind you, that being democratic is the only thing we should ask of a 16/
@D_Kuehn government. Classical Athens was democratic but also, as Madison and Hamilton wrote, a horrific shitshow of a regime. Nevertheless, the peculiar blindness of the Virginia School to what always seemed to me (and to Olson) that the distribution of property is the greatest of 17/
@D_Kuehn all sources of rent-seeking, and that a Constitution that freezes the distribution of property can hardly claim to be anti-rent-seeking, deserves much much much much much more attention 18/END
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