Why economists and sociologists are not so libertarians, and vice versa



Although a social scientist and a libertarian will often meaningfully talk to each other, sometimes agree on issues, or even struggle together for some freedom-and-justice  targets mix, their inner logic will systematically diverge. I argue here.

What follows, in Italian, is also an epistemic meditation on a generous but failed attempt to create a new libertarian movement in Italy: “Fare per fermare il declino” (Let’s do something to stop the decline).

On the one hand, even an ethically strongly motivated social scientist puts, as a MetaNorm, Science methods,  networks (visible and invisible colleges), norms and trust – on a higher rank than his own ideological preferences.

On the other hand, even the most learned and specialized libertarian as I am too in some respect (perhaps), “en tant que libertaire” (s)he would stick to axioms, beliefs she’s not ready to put into that Washing Machine. i.e.,  the scientific experimental (lab, economtric, sociometric and\or thought experiment), trial and eventually “phalsification” Popperian preconcepts-washing processes.

Then, there is the worst of contemporary “culture”:

Derrida- Foucault- US “French Theory”

(the PostModern sub-culture excluding; forgetting the only one today’s great French Philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas: even if he was a Derrida’s magister! And the #PostMoMobs read a paper on him in On Grammatology); they will object that we’re #PaleoPositivists: see Helen Pluckrose @HPluckrose and discussion on her post here:  https://areomagazine.com/2017/03/27/how-french-intellectuals-ruined-the-west-postmodernism-and-its-impact-explained/


1 François Cusset 2003, French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United State. La Découverte;

2 bruno latour 2004, http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/89-CRITICAL-INQUIRY-GB.pdf  – Why Has Critique Rub Out of Steam? …, Critical Inquiry 30 (Winter 2004)

3 Helen Pluckrose @HPluckrose. March 27, 2017 post:
How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact, Explained

I wrote on fb today:
Enzo Arcangeli presso Instituto de Economia da Unicamp.
1 h · San Paolo, Brasile ·

Delle sostanziali differenze tra economisti- sociologi, e liberali.

I primi, se sono serii e on fiatin Popperiani, sono laici verso qualsiasi forma-modalita’ delle istituzioni sociali possa funzionare meglio, nei diversi contesti e scopi.
As usual in Science, possono sbagliare clamorosamente, come il povero Aoki di Stanford con la sua J firm, formalizzata ok, ma gabellata per geneticamente superiore, in quanto piu’ lungimirante della M firm (proprio per il difetto della J di farsi credito da se’ e non dover fare affatto profitti di BP!), ahime’ proprio poco prima che Japan e Keiretsu arrivassero a fine corsa.

I liberali delle varie costellazioni della galassia, tendono ad ipostatizzare i mercati perfetti, e questo cum juicio ci sta [poi arrivano, se del caso, le evidenze empiriche di non contendibilita’ o cmq fallimenti].
La cosa che io trovo in loro piu’ intellett. disonesta e’ il parlare AS IF vi fosse un unico Capitalismo. Ossia, praticano il “capitalismo scientifico” proprio come i soc-dem tedeschi fecero parlare Marx morto di un ancor piu’ idiota “socialismo scientifico”. Ed il capitalismo induista del Gujarat sorto prima che in GB, come lo facciamo rientrare nel Calvinismo?

Gli economisti e sociologi partono dalle loro piu’ diverse ideologie personali (che entrano legittimamante nei Lakatosian research programmes, or Kuhnian paradigms), ma poi strada facendo si contaminano, sono stocasticamente attratti da analisi rigorose, metodologie validate ed evidenze empiriche robuste. Salvo le code di economisti troppo “di scuola”, o la VERGOGNOSA iattura dei residui marxisti in sociologia.
Ad es. il cult dei liberali, che si vede bene non lo conoscano ne’ biograficamente ne’ personalmente (io lo incontrai quando insegnammo assieme a Cargese), Coase arriva laburista negli States e proprio per questo si focalizza sul momento essenziale SOCIALISTA dell’organizzazione (opposta al mercato) che gli altri ignoravano.
Facendo cosi’ una delle 10 piu’ importanti scoperte delle scienze sociali del ‘900.

The Nature of the firm.

dal cafone lucano all’avv. di South Chicago


Here’s a letter to Michella Obama. monte-chiaro_bio_090211 >>> MORE ON THE LETTER ISSUE:


to  MICHELLE OBAMA <info@barackobama.com>
date    12 February 2009 04:57
subject    Re: Your call to service (2009/1/12)

Dear Michelle,
I might have found something important, a hidden Italian contribution (in the 1940s, when so many Europeans had to escape to NY) to the birth, growth and emergence of a liberal culture, that is now fully deploying, for the first time ever, in your beloved husband as a President; that we feel as Our President in Italy as well, as everywhere in this cosmopolitan world (and this is another first time in History, I must say). I am about to post this idea, and this is an excerpt from the English Abstract of my post. It will appear on all 3 my blogs which are named below, with my signature. When my hypothesis will be a bit more robust, I might send an op-ed to the NYT on the subject, eventually.

the Secret Magister of the Novecento
the hidden roots in Lucania (Italy) of Obama’s way of thinking

NICOLA “NICK” CHIAROMONTE (1903 – 1972). Born in Rapolla, Lucania, Italia. He died in Rome.
A unique figure of a coherent,  self made and – hiddenly, behind the scenes – highly influential anti-totalitarian intellectual, with many curiosities in philosophy, a pioneering critique of Historicism and a great passion for theatre (where he believed Brecht was by far overvalued).
A pioneer of lib-socialism (although he early split in 1935, in Paris from the Rosselli brothers GL, Justice and Liberty group, for not paying lipservice to Italian nationalism and Risorgimento),  in the company of Arendt, Camus, Orwell and Weil. He fought in Spain with André Malraux’s aviation team: a real legend.
When in New York (Summer 1941-47), he played a  widely recognised Magister role in the liberal, anti-stalinist intelligentsia of the Partisan Review and Macdonald’s Politics, although he had to fight hard against a well alive marxism, yet. He was the best friend of Mary McCarthy (…).

A Maestro of the Novecento, he  found  his own Maestri in Andrea Caffi, Gaetano Salvemini and someone younger than him: Simone Weil. While he despised Gramsci as a cattivo maestro of generations.
We argue here that the hybridation of seminal European and American New Lefts, that happened in New York under his Invisible Direction in the 1940s, was a decisive, necessary and irreversible step toward the (path dependent) emergence of contemporary Liberalism in the East Coast, that has now expressed its most mature figure in President Obama.
The man with the energy and innovation, as  not only to stop the Reagan-Clinton decadence, but to establish a Liberal cultural and political “hegemony” (NOT in the awful, collectivist and retro Gramsci sense!), without antecedents in US history. It is impossible to understand where all this comes from, unless you dig deep, and also in the legacy of a man who literally came from the Nothing:  il “cafone lucano”. Point is: of the  two Nothings (Emanuele Severino), he was just coming from the Future (on a Time Machine). Thanks, Nick!
It is time to make Justice triumph. Time is ripe for the world, from Mumbai to LA to  know whom we have also to reward for the ongoing change.

The truth about such a despised and forgotten man, whose imagination, fed by Simone’s fertile one, created an Impossible Thought Experiment  – a libertarian socialism freed by Marxism – that we can now translate into a Real Experiment.

I follow every day the political battle in the US, and I am deeply engaged in doing the same in Italy. We can’t  believe yet all this is true, and all our destinies changed 180° in less than one year!
Thank you from the deep of my heart.
enzo fabio

Obama New Deal, phase 1

Feb. 17 update – The final stimulus bill allocates $ 790.6 bn:  the CBO estimates tax cuts will amount to $ 288.5 bn and public expenditures about $ 500 bn (wsj) for a total est. cost of $ 787 bn. Today the President signed the bill and wrote us

enzo fabio —

Today, I signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law.
This is a historic step — the first of many as we work together to climb out of this crisis — and I want to thank you for your resolve and your support. (…)
I’ve assigned a team of managers to oversee the implementation of the recovery act. We are committed to making sure no dollar is wasted. But accountability begins with you.
That’s why my administration has created Recovery.gov, a new website where citizens can track every dollar spent and every job created. We’ll invite you and your neighbors to weigh in with comments and questions.
Our progress will also be measured by the tens of thousands of personal stories submitted by people who are struggling to make ends meet. If you haven’t already, you can read stories from families all across the country:


Your stories are the heart of this recovery plan, and that’s what I’ll focus on every day as President. With your continued support, we’ll emerge a stronger and more prosperous nation.

Thank you,
President Barack Obama

On the eve of the 200-Charles Darwin Day, the US House and the Senate have finally agreed on the mega-stimulus package, which President Obama might already sign next Monday,  February the 15th, i.e. 25 days after entering the White House (1/4 of the early 100 days, when the Beauty versus the Beast – Apocalypse Now – fight will B decided upon in the short term).

Mainstream economists, with whom this time we are tempted to almost agree once (but we have other priorities, since it is not OUR problem to save Capitalisms, but their victims), converge with the great, sublime Paul Samuelson (self-defining himself a Centre-Left, moderate Keynesian), by saying that some moderation and “watering down” (in the Congress revision) of Adm. Obama’s proposals is a first best, since  -e.g. – a demand – only perspective  is balanced with less unilateral supply-side  considerations as well (on this, our friend Michele Boldrin is writing quite important and interesting, fresh things on NfA – Noise from America blog, since early this year; we will discuss them, here and on NfA at length, soon).

Let us say that this is the state-of-the-art in academic Political Economy, and it is symbiotic with what happened in these hard Congressional fights about the final compromise, during the last weeks. One day, just symbolically Sen. Mc Cain presented a  motion to cut the stimulus to half. It comes out with a great momentum, a variety of tools and targets (see the Summary below).

A HISTORIC BILL, starting the Obama New Deal long series, in the next few years.



Congress Makes a Deal


Congress Strikes $789 Billion Stimulus Deal

Historic Bill Would Spur Road Building, Give Businesses Tax Breaks, Expand Broadband Access; Final Passage Expected Soon

wsj summary table:

Focal Points of Stimulus Package

Key goals and what indicators to use to gauge success.

Business confidence
Steps: Tax breaks for businesses, appropriations.
Measurement of success: Stock market results and management surveys.

Low income/unemployment aid
Steps: Benefit checks, foodstamp increases, health insurance assistance, Medicaid.
Measurement: Benefit rates

Consumer spending
Steps: Tax breaks to workers.
Measurement: Retail spending, consumer-confidence surveys.

Job creation
Steps: Infrastructure spending, aid to states.
Measurement: Unemployment.

Economic Growth
Steps: Spending, tax breaks.
Measurement: GDP.

Please also note that:

The stimulus accord is a major win for the high-tech industry, which will receive billions of dollars in subsidies to expand broadband access to rural and other underserved areas and a huge infusion of funds to computerize health-care records.

The latter is a very important point, since it marks much more, than just Silicon Valley getting repaid for the EARLY support to “Sen. Nobody” (see on this Giuliano da Empoli 2008, already a classic and comprehensive book on Obama, in Italian; and our various, often updated  static pages on Obamology in http://arcapedia.wordpress.com/).

On the other hand, it is a strong counter-tendency, a counter-factual to the MARKET SELECTION PARADIGM – e.g., theorised in Italy by the no.1 telecom expert, prof. Enzo Pontarollo.  He argues that it is not so bad that the Schumpeterian effect (sometimes called “The Invisible Foot”) and the credit crunch crisis SELECT among very expensive digital highway plans, and allocate credit only to the more rentable ones, where effective demand will repay faster, at least a part of the infrastructure investment.

This is such a complex, multi-dimensional issue. Let us just say  this, as a complement and further qualification to the important, and  theoretically well-rooted Prof. Pontarollo’s argument.

Japan (as far as I know,  the main great and still powerful State doing this) usually doesn’t bother much about “the digital market” plans selection – perhaps also because Japan’s regional economies have been levelled-up during the last half century, and suffer much more from congestion than regional, or rural\urban imbalances. They just shape and anticipate effective market demand years, or even a decade before, laying down  futuristic cooperative-public digital highways (namely in the New Generation Networks, lately).

But if the Nippon State is  now on the defensive, such programs will be delayed for many years, and this anticipatory effect will be lost. In a strong “neo- Keynesian & neo- Schumpeterian” mixed, eclectic and PRAGMATIST (“Nudge“) approach, the Obama’s New Deal starts now doing what Japan has problems to keep up to. This is another Invisible Foot effect: not across regions but across Nations: the US just elected Obama, while the Nippon political system is in search of a “2nd Republic” trajectory since 20 years ago, with no viable, longterm solution yet.

They desperately need either a Berlusconisan, or an Obamasan.

This stimulus Bull hitech component, has little to do with FDR, and we are happy about that: since you know (or at least, regular blog readers do) that we fully agree from the left with the “right” critique to FDR  –  stemming from the careful Amity Shlaes historic reconstruction of what really happened during THAT New Deal 8o years ago (on this precise point, we take a small bit of distance, a degree of freedom  from Obama’s public image and self-representation). In any case, ce n’est qu’un debut.