Review of Austrian Economics—The Full Collection! (e-book format)

Review of Austrian Economics, Full Collection - Digital Book

This are great news for those of you interested in reading and learning more of the ideas that enabled a revolutionary development of new understandings on Economics and Human Action.

Murray Rothbard had long dreamed of an Austrian academic journal. In 1986, his dream came true. The Mises Institute published it, and it changed everything. Now they can be conveniently read on your digital device!

The individual issues have been nearly impossible to find, until now. Today you can own the entire set, learn from the pioneering articles that Murray and his co-editors saw as crucial, and see what gave the modern Austrian movement its scholarly momentum.”


Journal Reco: Globalization and Global History in Toynbee

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This article traces the intellectual history of Arnold J. Toynbee. It centers on early twentieth-century British social thought and its synthesis of idealism and evolution. Toynbee used this framework to interpret imperial and international affairs, and, like his mentors, he focused especially on the unprecedented, progressive possibilities of global integration. With the failure of the Paris Peace Conference, however, Toynbee began to regard globalization as a contradiction between social unity and spiritual disjuncture. A Study of History, his endeavor to bring historical writing into its global present, followed from this opposition, which he sought to explain and hoped to resolve. By the mid 1930s, world events finally overwhelmed Toynbee’s commitment to the old conceptual synthesis. He returned to such thinking after World War II, but his brief declaration of methodological limitations illuminated for historical study the antinomy of the global scale.

Universal history must be construed and denied.

To many world historians today, Arnold J. Toynbee is regarded like an embarrassing uncle at a house party. He gets a requisite introduction by virtue of his place on the family tree, but he is quickly passed over for other friends and relatives. For much of the twentieth century though, Toynbee was perhaps the world’s most read, translated, and discussed living scholar. His output was enormous, hundreds of books, pamphlets, and articles. Of these, scores were translated into thirty different languages. In 1947, Time magazine considered his historical significance to be on par with Marx.2 Among intellectuals, response to his work was de rigueur. Indeed, the critical reaction to Toynbee constitutes a veritable intellectual history of the midcentury: we find, for example, Aron, Frye, Huxley, Kennan, Kracauer, Kroeber, Morgenthau, Mumford, Niebuhr, Ortega y Gasset, Popper, Ricouer, [End Page 747] and Sweezy, as well as a long list of the period’s most important historians, Beard, Braudel, Collingwood, and so on.

A survey of these responses consistently reveals odd contradictions between positions. In recent historical work, for example, Reba Soffer aligns 1930s-era Toynbee with Britain’s “radical right,” while Christopher Brewin describes his politics of the same period as “progressive liberal.”3 In Toynbee’s own time, two of the most sustained attacks came from E. H. Carr and Pieter Geyl, each in a certain way the inverse of the other. Carr translated the Marxist critique of bourgeois moralism into his study of international relations; he assailed Toynbee’s “utopian prescriptions” as so many alibis for British national interest. And as in Marxism, spotlight on the furtive particular in turn revealed a sturdier universal, in this case, what Carr called “the nature of politics.” Geyl, on the other hand, read Toynbee’s “impossibly universalist system” not as façade for a specific concern, but as its disintegration; he deemed Toynbee’s world history as an attempt to “escape” the uniqueness of the West. Toynbee’s “passion for unity,” Geyl wrote, was “fundamentally antagonistic to history, the guardian of the particular.”4 So which was it: the camouflage of self-interest or an ecumenical hallucination? And which was the corrective to Toynbee’s grand failure? Naturalism or historicism? Siegfried Kracauer shook his head: “There is something schizophrenic about Toynbee.”5

One approach toward understanding this contradiction can be found in Karl Löwith‘s brief comments on Toynbee in Meaning in History. All modern temporality, according to Löwith, was an “inconsistent compound” of ancient Greek cyclicality and a Christian theology of history. In addition, the latter’s eschatology endowed the historical process with “universality,” evoking above every smaller narrative the single, imagined identity of “mankind.” With this broad phrasing, Löwith fittingly characterized the two-sidedness of Toynbee’s thinking,[End Page 748] but he left unattended Toynbee’s struggle against a categorical universalism.6 Löwith’s high degree of abstraction offers little to the historiographer assessing world history and the varied circumstances that have contributed to its diverse formulations. My own reading stays considerably closer to the text. For in understanding Toynbee, philosophical generalization, like a quick dismissal, misses the struggles and contradictions in his attempt at world history. These break points help elucidate the history of the field, as well as the history of global thought and twentieth-century intellectual currents more generally. Perhaps too, they present to contemporary world-historical thinking an insight of value, even as Toynbee’s system has long stood in ruins.

The basis for Toynbee’s historical logic, and the source of its core difficulty, derived from a set of ideas which are best described as “evolutionary idealism.” One of the dominant trends in early twentieth-century British social thought, evolutionary idealism sought to combine Darwinian naturalism and teleological purpose, two positions hitherto locked in debate. Writers applied this synthesis to questions of imperial affairs, and it underscored much of the era’s thinking on the globe and its history. From this conceptual framework, Toynbee reckoned that the single most significant feature of his age was world integration, a “unification [that] . . . has caught in its meshes the whole living generation of mankind and all the habitable lands and navigable seas on the face of the Planet.”7 Indeed, Toynbee’s entire career as historian and political analyst can be read as a massive reflection on what came to be called globalization. His earliest such writings fully mirrored the evolutionary idealism of his educators. Yet this outlook faced a serious challenge in the immediate aftermath of World War I. The strains of colonial violence and worldwide turmoil fragmented teleology into a multiplicity of beliefs and interests. Toynbee persistently and loudly emphasized this problem of difference. At the same time, and throughout the interwar years, he remained committed to evolutionary idealism and strained to refashion it for the new, polycentric world. Both his rationale and his method for a history of the globe followed from that effort. The contradictions, however, could not be contained, and by the late 1930s, internal adjustments appeared inadequate. With the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and the attendant fiasco at the League of [End Page 749] Nations, Toynbee renounced his previous position. For a brief but significant moment, he neither synthesized nor hybridized the unity of the globe and its diversity of ideals. World integration rendered the universal and the particular into categories at once interdependent and irreconcilable, at once complementary and contradictory. After World War II he returned to the principle of synthesis with ever new and ever unsatisfactory attempts at reconciliation. Across Toynbee’s reception then, as in Carr and Geyl, his key concepts hopelessly chased each other in circles. Yet this indetermination anticipated in a uniquely interrelated way some of the major philosophical and historiographical currents of later years, expressing the irresolvability of postmodernism, the renewed interest in religion, and world history itself.

Read more: Michael Lang. “Globalization and Global History in Toynbee.” Journal of World History 22.4 (2011): 747-783. Project MUSE. Web. 25 Nov. 2011. <;.

Journal Reco. “Sino-Pacifica”: Conceptualizing Greater Southeast Asia as a Sub-Arena of World History

Map of Southeast Asia
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I just got my hands in a great article on Southeast Asia issues.  Here’s the abstract for the article (via Project MUSE) and I hope you’ll get to enjoy it too,

Conventional geography’s boundary line between a “Southeast Asia” and an “East Asia,” following a “civilizational” divide between a “Confucian” sphere and a “Viet­nam aside, everything but Confucian” zone, obscures the essential unity of the two regions. This article argues the coherence of a macroregion “Sino-Pacifica” encom­passing both and explores this new framework’s implications: the Yangzi River basin, rather than the Yellow River basin, pioneered the developments that led to the rise of Chinese civilization, and the eventual prominence of the Yellow River basin came not from centrality but rather from its liminality—its position as the contact zone between Inner Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

In a sense . . . the frontier of Southeast Asia has retreated slowly from the line of the Yangzi (in what is now central China) to the Mekong delta (in what is now southern Vietnam).

—Charles Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia

[T]he Vietnamese-Lao wars of the seventeenth century were resolved wisely when the Le rulers in Vietnam and the Lao monarch agreed that every inhabitant in the upper Mekong valley who lived in a house built on stilts owed allegiance to Laos, while those whose homes had earth floors owed allegiance to Vietnam.

—The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia: A New History [End Page 659]

The question of boundaries is the first to be encountered; from it all others flow.

Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II

In conventional geography, the largest division of the human community is the continental or subcontinental scale “world region.” World regions are the most useful as concepts when their boundaries can be seen as enduring, immobile, and, above all, easy to map. Yet, in the first quotation above, we see a border between two world regions, Southeast and East Asia, that rolls southward thousands of miles over thousands of years. In the second quotation, we see a border between two kingdoms within the same world region, Southeast Asia, that cannot be traced as a simple line on the ground, being created by the contrasting cultural preferences of inextricably mixed populations. The moving boundary and the undrawable boundary are actually the same, the frontiers between Sinified Vietnam and its un-Sinified neighbors.

Paper on “Craftying analytical tools to study institutional change”

Today I did a presentation on the methodological plan for a study in the Internationalization of Leipzig’s Gallery of Contemporary Art.  I received very important critics that helped me correct the way of my research.  The critics were directed at focusing on the institutional evolution of the Gallery’s agenda (to understand what was behind of the internationalization process we had identified in our preliminary research). Indeed, crafting a study is not an easy thing and today I read that UDADISI had re-posted a great article on something related to the issue I’ll be dealing with in the next couple weeks.  So it was worth republishing. 😉 Here’s the article by Ostrom and Basurto,
These are some ideas on the evolution of institutions from the [very interesting!] paper:
What are rules:

[S]hared understandings by actors about enforced prescriptions concerning what actions (or outcomes) are required, prohibited, or permitted.

[Rules] are linguistic statements containing prescriptions similar to norms, but rules carry an additional, assigned sanction if forbidden actions are taken and observed by a monitor (Commons, 1924).

What are norms:

Norms are prescriptions about actions or outcomes that are not focused primarily on short-term material payoffs to self. A participant who holds a truth- telling norm gains an internal reward (that can be modeled as an additional value added to their utility function) for telling the truth even when material payoffs would be greater when telling a lie (Crawford and Ostrom, 2005).

Some lessons from institutional analysis:

Some of the lessons coming out of our institutional analyses in Nepal and elsewhere show that resource users who have relative autonomy to design their own rules for governing and managing common-pool resources frequently achieve better economic (as well as more equitable) outcomes than when experts do this for them.

How do rules originate on farmer irrigation systems

Farmers in old and established systems tell researchers that they do not know much about the origin of the rules they use. In Bali, for example, rules are encoded in a sacred religious system and are monitored and enforced by priests (Lansing, 1991, 2006).

What are some of the processes of rule change?

[T]he evolution of a rule system is not synonymous with progress. Certainly, evolutionary processes do not entail a priori judgments on the outcome. Evolutionary processes do involve, however, the generation of new alternatives, selection among new and old combinations of structural attributes, and retention of those combinations of attributes that are successful in a particular environment. In evolving biological systems, genotypic structures are changed through blind variation or directed variation (such as in the case of the domestication of many species of plants and animals). In evolving human-based rule systems, rule configurations within an action situation can change as a result of many self-conscious or unconscious mechanisms, including trial-and-error efforts, especially in collective-action processes. In some instances, the capacity of the biophysical resource system to buffer abuse from trial-and- error of different rule systems seems to play a necessary but not sufficient role in the emergence of successful self-governed rule systems (Basurto, 2008; Basurto and Coleman, 2010). Mechanisms for change in rule configurations can be roughly divided into relatively self-conscious and unconscious processes of change. Among examples of self-conscious processes that are frequently mentioned in the literature are those driven by imitation (Richerson and Boyd, 2005). Imitation of rules used by others can lead to rule evolution over time, especially if the farmers from multiple irrigation systems in a region regularly interact in a local market or other regular meeting place.

Imitation of entire rule systems that are thought of as ‘successful’ can also take place at the constitutional-choice level, such as the case of the adoption of the US National Parks’ law system by the Costa Rican nascent national park system. Other self- conscious processes of change in rule systems include some cases of external development interventions, such as when external aid support is conditioned to changes in local institutions based on foreign views of fairness, productivity, democracy, or development itself.

Competitive processes can also lead some users to self-consciously favor some institutional arrangements over others. Similarly, conflict over the interpretation of rules is also a process that frequently leads to self-conscious change.

Most self-conscious processes of change are based on the ability of humans to learn (Henry, 2009), such as when members of a rural fishing community organize to modify rules to control levels of exploitation based on past experiences (Basurto, 2005).

Unconscious processes of change include forgetting, like when there is a very large number of rules and no one ‘remembers’ them all without extensive research, or when laws are never practiced. The same phenomena are observed when certain taboos disappear through language loss, cognitive dissonance, technological change, or non-enforcement. These mechanisms can slowly erode rule systems, which then wither away and eventually can be replaced by new practices and norms of behavior (Kofinas, 2005).

Our dependence on language to communicate and the inherent ambiguity of language can lead to a number of unconscious processes of rule change as well. Rules are composed of mere words and, as Vincent Ostrom (1997) has frequently pointed out, words are not always understood by everyone with the same meaning (see also 2008a, 2008b). A guard may not understand the rules the same way as users. A guard, for example, may interpret rules that place heavy costs on the guard in contrast to those rules that involve low costs. Babbling equilibrium problems are widespread, even among scholars studying rules and norms systems! And, it is a key problem for the social sciences (E. Ostrom, 2005: 179).

Dopfer et al. (2004) view an economic system as a population of rules, a structure of rules, and a process of rules, where the micro domain refers to the individual carriers of rules and the systems they organize, the macro consists of the population structure of systems of meso, which is where processes of rule change take place.

It is worth restating that it would be naıve to assume that any evolutionary process always leads to better outcomes. In biological systems, competition among populations of diverse species led to the weeding out of many individuals over time who were outcompeted for mates and food in a given environment.