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Why aid still won’t work

In this month’s lead essay at Cato Unbound, ‘Why Aid Doesn’t Work,’ William Easterly makes a rational case for directing international aid dollars toward programs where the results can be objectively measured by hard scientific methods. He is persuasive, but in the end, the scientific method is still just a patch, a facsimile for what is really missing: legality.

In the developed world, the distinction between government and non-government organizations is meaningful, but not in places where government is corrupt and ineffective. In a lawless state (ie, one where corruption dominates the channels through which people get things done, for good or for ill), both aid organizations and entrepreneurial warlords effectively operate by the same rules. One’s moral orientation is not the point. If the basic sphere of operation is illegal (in the deepest sense of the word), then there is little chance that your efforts will result in enlightened, long-term improvement. Will Connors, a Chicago journalist and blogger working in Ethiopia has written compellingly about corruption in the aid community there.

Any aid-before-government aparatus is still going to break down – it will just do so further down the road. As Easterly suggests, you may demonstrably produce healthier, taller, better-educated children by buying them meat to eat twice a week, but if the best they can hope for is to grow up to be a corrupt low-level official, have you really accomplished anything lasting?

Better to see aid dollars spent as investment dollars – sunk into private businesses, rather than programs of any kind. It is possible. It is even possible that the weaker the local (corrupt) government, the greater the opportunity for leveraging capital investment. In Carol Pineau’s documentary, Africa: Open For Business, the CEO of Daallo, a Somali airline, marvels that the only reason he is able to thrive is that there is no government at all in his country. No government means no corruption, he observes dryly.

55 comments to Why aid still won’t work

  • Mike Lorrey

    Shall we thus launch the Anglo-Africa Company and restart the colonial era? Time to pick up the white man’s burden once again.

  • permanent expat

    The disadvantage of the colonial era in Africa was that there was no ‘trough’ of the kind that “I can put up with this for a while because I’m next in line….by AK47 or matchete, if necessary.”

  • Patrick

    I was particularly unimpressed with his ‘evaluation/assesment committee’ idea. I think a better idea would be an ‘aid investment exchange’.

    Basically, like a stock exchange, except the benefit doesn’t accrue to you as capital but to some specified third party group somewhere. Aid groups would have to bid for money, and publish quarterly results.

    Be very tricky to work out the technicalities, and obviously if a whole lot of governments were investing there would be some real room for fleecing going on – but you could presumably write an appropriate jurisdiction clause to make it really easy to obtain judgements against fraudsters in UK or US courts.

  • veryretired

    Foreign aid programs, usually involving huge projects, were often based on the belief that once a certain level of industrial infrastructure was reached, the economy of the developing country would “take off”, and further development would occur automatically.

    After decades pursuing this mythical economic miracle, the developing world is dotted with decomposing factories, cement plants, broken dams, rusting rail lines, and airports with no planes, but massive terminal buildings, with or without windows.

    Meanwhile, under the radar for quite awhile, various private businesses looked around the world for places which welcomed investment, wanted new jobs, had natural resources or nearby markets, and, most importantly, had at least some semblence of a rational government and legal system.

    This process finally burst into the public spotlight as “globalization”, much ballyhooed, and maligned, as a worldwide development system which either helped or oppressed the world’s developing societies, depending on one’s political leanings.

    What so many do not realize is that this whole “new” system is only an extension of what developed economies have routinely done with each other for centuries—invest in industries and places which have profit potential.

    The world, for example, invests billions upon billions of dollars in the US each year because it has a stable economy with a reasonably rational legal system within which an acceptable return on investment can be realized. Globalization is nothing more than the extension of that practice to developing countries.

    The lower labor and other costs are a trade-off for the lack of the stability and rationality that are often a distinct feature of developing societies’ legal, political, and economic systems.

    I think what po’s the anti-globalists more than anything else is that the private system is actually creating that most dreaded entity—a viable middle class—while the statist system merely rewarded an extensive group of kleptocrats, while impoverishing the peasants who were the supposed beneficiaries.

    Nothing is more galling to the irrational than a fact that can no longer be ignored.

  • cowtipper

    Very well said. Living in rural, economically challenged flyover USA (where Federal and state funds flow in to try to arrest increasing unemployment, housing flight, meth abuse and other problems), the sad reality is that the government funds are usually intercepted by those with other missions (which have to do with personal empowerment and enrichment).

    Consider Senator Harkin’s (D – Iowa) broadband bill a couple of years ago, intending to subsidize rural broadband through USDA grants. What really happened was the “rule writers” (heavily influenced by lobbyists) latched onto the bill and converted it into a handout to incumbant monopoly telcos. It’s amazing how rules can totally co-opt a bill and alter the outcome 180 degrees from its intent (incumbant monopolies are the problem in rural broadband, yet the rules were written to only qualify these parties to the new Federal slush fund). Today the blogosphere is aware of earmarks, but what is way below radar is rules committee action which is successful in fooling the most observant auditors. Just like crooked RFP’s (request for proposals) specifically drafted to select a single vendor, rules committees enact the details of legislation so that the outcome is certain to select the favored firms which contribute so graciously to the political cause.

    International aid suffers the same fate. Good intentions, but the parties that cause the problems tend to end up circumventing the aid. Governmental recipients of aid make for easy abuse of the funds distribution since the details can be readily skewed to “select” them and their controlling interests as the beneficiaries of the funds. Better to foster small business growth and private channel aid which blurs the outcome and is hard to engineer as the financial target than dump money back into a channel where the corrupt, old guard vampires can suck off of it.


  • Patrick, interesting idea.

    obviously if a whole lot of governments were investing there would be some real room for fleecing going on

    True, but I doubt it could possibly touch the degree of fleecing going on at the moment…

  • Dave

    Any economic theorists who want to show the benefits of privatization would do well to come to Africa. Somali, lacking a government at all has the fastest and cheapest internet connections in the world. It may also be the only country in the world where businessmen wish they could pay taxes, it is one of the few examples of a place where the state is too minimal.

    The rest of the continent is rich with hard evidence that private enterprise provides better, cheaper services than the government sector. Living in Kenya and traveling in the East and South, I see plenty of examples. I can get a private mobile phone and line within five minutes. It took 3.5 years to get an inferior, government run, land line installed in my house, a house that had previously had two phone lines and was fully wired.

    We have an organization in Nairobi suing the city council for not providing services, we have neighborhood organizations organizing road re-surfacing and security, and we have a vast untaxed market. We have more active Libertarians per square inch than Europe has per square mile, but most of us don’t have the theoretical understanding of what we are. We just know what makes sense. Shame the government has the guns…

    As for the aid organizations, yes they are a huge waste of time and energy. This is self obvious to anyone who spends more than a few days here and the link in the original article is a grand example of it. The whole structure is useless and it poisons the locals, as the comments after the article clearly show.

  • I think the point about that country, which Euan Gray misses when making sarcastic comments about “the libertarian paradise of Somalia”, is that things have actually improved markedly since the demise of government there. Sure, we’re talking about an improvement from a low base – and things are still pretty awful – but an improvement nonetheless.

  • I would like to see some form of free trade zones established that fence off the corrupt governments. Harking back to Shanghai’s International Settlement and Hong Kong. Places in Africa for Africans where they can ‘escape’ the corrupt governments to a place ruled by a vastly superior force who will not hesitate to defend it. It certainly worked back then, after a fashion and never perfectly, and gave many Chinese an escape from the corrupt Imperial and later crushing Communist regimes.

    Maybe it will be the Chinese that do this in Africa, as they will not be burdened with hand-wringing namby-pamby post-colonial angst. That, and the fact that they will instantly know the model and the power it has to provide opportunity for those able to grasp it.

  • John K

    Bad news for Somalia: the BBC was reporting yesterday on another attempt to form an army and police force. Of course they thought this was a good thing. The BBC has to belive in the state, since it could not exist without the state.

  • Nick M

    I dunno about Somalia, but there ain’t a government in Iraq and I’m not planning on moveing there anytime soon.

  • Nick,

    I dunno about Somalia, but there ain’t a government in Iraq and I’m not planning on moveing there anytime soon.

    Well, the Iraqi economy is growing at an annual rate of somewhere between 30%-45%. It’s sucking up all the construction supplies in the entire region and there is net migration into the country. Looks like a little chaos is a good thing.

  • I have often wondered if Hong Kong shouldn’t be the template for helping the developing world. Following WWII the British just provided a very minimalists government and let the people fend for themselves. It seems to have worked very well.

    Perhaps, instead of aid, developed nations could just take over and pay for basic government functions like security and basic infrastructure. Then just let everyone else puzzle things out.

    I doubt such an idea is politically feasible either in the developed or developing world but it would be worth a shot if someplace would agree to it.

  • I dunno about Somalia, but there ain’t a government in Iraq and I’m not planning on moveing there anytime soon.

    What’s this then?

  • Nick M

    A complete *#$!ing shambles

  • Eurostatistician

    I’m not sure whether the minimal state policy would work well in Africa – the population explosion is the continent’s greatest problem, and there’s no guarantee that the Hayeks and Friedmans of this world would resolve it.

    Cuba is a pretty miserable socialist country, largely inhabited by third-world people, but at least the country’s leadership seems to be able to keep population growth in check, something no African country has succeeded in doing. I doubt if any libertarian state would do any better on that front – and what’s the use of the free market in a country where there is standing room only for most of the population?

    What Africa needs first and foremost is a good dose of sterilisation. And the tragedy is that a successful, free market economy might make things worse in the long term by incentivising parents to increase and multiply even more rapidly than at present.

    Remember the law of unintended consequences!

  • I am not contemplating having a minimal state across Africa, that is just unworkable right now. What I am suggesting is a number of small, easily defended enclaves. Zanzibar is an example.

    My guess (hope?) is the Chinese will negotiate some form of deal whereby they build a freeport and gain, say 50 miles around it to ‘develop’ and the rights to railway construction contracts etc. That would become a defacto New Hong Kong, as it will suck in all the ambitious people. It will earn a massive amount and the hinterland will have a market to sell to instead of being subsistence farmers, which is guaranteed to be neverending suffering.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    What Africa needs first and foremost is a good dose of sterilisation. And the tragedy is that a successful, free market economy might make things worse in the long term by incentivising parents to increase and multiply even more rapidly than at present.

    Given the ravages of AIDS in Africa, and the depopulation of large parts of that continent, I am not sure that Africa does need sterlisation, Eurostatistician.

    After all, the same doomongering things were said about population growth in India and southeast Asia, and they have prospered, relatively speaking, compared with Africa. The problem is not population growth per se, but the sort of lawlessness, lack of capital accumulation and stability that Hillary wrote about in what I thought was a very sane post.

    The late Julian Simon, a fine debunker of Third World myths, and the late Peter Bauer, both did a great deal to challenge the neo-Malthusians on the population issue.

  • pete

    Aid does work for some. Many of the people working to provide aid do very well for themselves. I have worked closely with some international aid and charity workers and I was surprised at the narrow section of British society they were drawn from and the money they could earn, especially if they could secure themselves an administrative billet in London, Geneva or some other affluent town well away from any problems. I got the impression that a public school education or an affluent, well-connected background certainly was a definite advantage in gaining entry to this world of carers. I’m sure these people do a lot of good, but in my opinion there is a lack of profesionalism and business sense which means that money is not used properly. The aid sector is over-populated with well-meaning semi-posh types who use their jobs to steer clear of vulgar trade.

  • Verity

    The aid sector is over-populated with well-meaning semi-posh types who use their jobs to steer clear of vulgar trade. Good. Keeps them out of boardrooms of wealth creators where they could do harm.

    And give me the bracing vulgarity and energy of trade any day.

  • Eurostatistician


    Peter Bauer has written some very sensible stuff indeed, but Julian Simon was not quite the full shilling – anybody who believes that the exponential growth of human population is possible needs to do his sums once more and take a course in Ecology 101. It’s not that much more demanding than four-function math.

    Malthus has been proven right again and again – from the Irish potato famine (at a time, incidentally, when the free market ruled) to the African basket case. So NeoMalthusians are not necessarily doomsters – they are not so much predicting the future as pointing to what is already happening before our eyes: war, pestilence, famine, death. The Four Horsemen aren’t on their way to Africa – they’re already there.

    Mass sterilisation of African women is perhaps the only hope, but of course both libertarians and socialists are far too nice to face these realities.

    They begin to blush and feel uncomfortable and simply try to change the subject

  • Nick M

    Tomorrow clearly belongs to Eurostatician as well.

    What a little Nazi.

    I think the “Hong Kong” models have a lot going for them. The only way regions grow economically involves the development of an increasing wealth gap. If this is done properly it will drag the rest up. Done by giving corrupt governments hand outs or by setting up divisive and corrupt “fair-trade” agreements means all the money eventually funnels back out of the country – Grace Mugabe chartering a Boeing to go shopping in Paris springs to mind.

    But let’s go further. Let’s hope it’s not just the Chinese who develop these spreading enclaves of propesity. If all sorts of interested parties (including companies) do it there will be competition between them and things will be even better.

    Imperialism was not the worst thing that happened to Africa, post-Imperial guilt might be.

  • Eurostatistician – eh? Malthus’s most famous theory regarding population and food production increases has been proven dead wrong time and time again as history’s unfolded.

    I find your demands for forced sterilisation of women repugnant and utterly chilling. If you brought this up as some sort of solution to Africa’s woes, let me assure you I would not “blush and feel uncomfortable and simply try to change the subject”. I’d quote Nick M and call you a little Nazi.

  • Patrick

    I am indeed blushing and feeling uncomfortable, eurostatistician, but on your behalf.

    Though I suspect, given your name and the comment about Malthus, that you are actually taking the piss. After all, your views are a model of European reasoning (false premise, presumptive reasoning, appalling conclusion).

  • permanent expat

    Gosh! How wonderful England would be if we hadn’t been colonized by those dreadful Romans! What did they ever do for us? (Life of Brian?)
    Gosh! How wonderful Africa etc.
    I don’t see the Romans still pouring billions of denarii into the Septic Isle.
    A few no-bloody-nonsense ex-Vikings took us over in 1066 & it’s been DIY ever since.
    All cultures have had exactly the same time to develop.
    Some simply can’t handle it.

  • Eurostatistician


    I made no mention of ‘forced’ sterilisation, though perhaps I should have inserted the adjective ‘voluntary’ to avoid being misunderstood — in a sense, to avoid being misunderstood one should always spell things out. So I am partly to blame myself for your ‘uncharitable’ interpretation.

    Today, voluntary sterilisation with quinacrine pellets — a non-surgical intervention — costs next to nothing and is dirt cheap. A child of five could probably do it.

    So why not ‘bribe’ poor African women to accept what is, after all, nothing other than permanent birth control?

    Or do you prefer millions to continue living in misery? Remember that while children can starve, non-children cannot starve.

    I’m sure your answer to my rhetorical question is ‘no’. But what solution do you offer? How is the free market going to do anything other than prolong the agony?

    If you have a better idea than birth control, I would like to learn about it.

    Thanks at any rate for forcing me to clarify my position (I turn my post-Christian cheek).


  • Midwesterner

    Eurostatistician, you’re the number cruncher, tell me what the correlation is between increasing wealth and decreasing rates of reproduction. As property and savings are protected, the incentives for large families are replaced with incentives for smaller families.

    While population growth is a problem, I think your solution is cart before horse. Guarantee property rights and population growth will cease to be a problem. Comments?

  • Nick M


    So now you want children of five to chemically sterilise their mothers as a result of “bribes” – sweeties perhaps. In fact cut out the middle man and simply lace free candy with the drug.

    Interesting that you don’t mention sterilising the feckless men who are a large part of the reason for the spread of AIDS.

    Who is going to run this all, the same corrupt governments that are a major root cause of the problem?

    Ever read Midnight’s Children?

    You really are the piece of work. Sieg Heil!

  • Patrick

    My goodness, it actually seems serious. Maybe the worst thing to happen to Africa will be the West’s post-morality phase, which among other things has produced post-colonialism and eurostatistician.

    Because, clearly, the problem with Africa is the children. What romantic old-fashioned fools they are who see in their children their futures!

    Literally, of course, something that europeans, with their non-existent but state-guaranteed pensions, would do well to remember before they decide to enter the post-heterosexuality and white guilt age.

  • Dave

    Ah yes, Malthus, the one who ascribed animal characteristics to humans and neglected to notice that humans have the brains to significantly alter their environment and their reproductive strategy. A good starting point in an analysis of human population, but only a starting point.

    To have some fun and get some decent thoughts on this, go read P.J. O’Rourke’s “Eat the Rich.” It is an humorists attempt to talk about economics and make it fun. The chapter where he compares a selected, rich part of California to Bangledesh nicely covers the topic of population density/size and economic growth. Esensially, he takes a rich city in California with exactly the same population density as Bangledesh, but a rather different system of economics. With his usual entertaining and humorous writing, he points out a few major problems with Malthus.

    As a final point, as I mentioned earlier, I am living in Africa. Eurostatician, if you even think of coming down here with your sterilization, remember that free market I mentioned earlier. It includes guns and you can expect a lively debate on this issue, regardless of your clarification on the “voluntary” nature of your proposal. People will fight for many things and, around here, this is one of them.

  • I made no mention of ‘forced’ sterilisation

    You didn’t need to. Why would anyone blush Also, when you’re talking about mass sterilisation programmes aimed at radically reducing population levels, a voluntary system simply won’t work. Very few people see the bigger picture regarding what they’re told is good for society about something like childbirth – rightfully so and thank god that’s the case. Thus, a “mass sterilisation programme” defaults to compulsory.

    Also, I don’t think Africa is necessarily overpopulated – I’m quite sure there is enough arable land there to support the current population using relatively modern farming practices. Africa’s major problem is that it’s misgoverned.

  • Whoops, didn’t finish off a sentence there. Should have read “Why would anyone blush and try to change the subject about a voluntary sterilisation programme?”


  • Johnathan Pearce

    Mass sterilisation of African women is perhaps the only hope, but of course both libertarians and socialists are far too nice to face these realities.

    For “nice”, read “ethical”. If you are going to raise terms like “mass sterlisation”, then you should be careful to spell out how such a thing would occur on the ground; such things are hardly likely to happen voluntarily, and as Peter Bauer points out, they usually take place as parts of coercive state projects, of which the notorious Chinese “one-child” policy is a prime example.

  • I’m not convinced that socialists are too ethical to utilise mass sterilisation, Johnathan. 🙂

  • Johnathan Pearce

    James, you are probably right. I think it is quite an interesting compliment, though, when libertarians like us are accused of being “too nice”. Actually, that is one hell of a compliment, because in some deep, gut sense, the race realists, the far left, and all the rest of these idiots get it that libertarianism is a profoundly decent, life affirming creed.

    That’s victory.

  • Paul Marks

    As living standards go up so the birth rate falls – and without any need for cutting bits of people.

    Trying to raise living standards by reducing the birth rate ignores the fact that in almost every historic case things have been the other way round – higher incomes first, then lower birth rates.

  • permanent expat

    Paul Marks: More or less right. Can you explain Russia?

  • Eurostatistician

    As living standards go up so the birth rate falls – and without any need for cutting bits of people.

    Paul, you are obviously unfamiliar with the scientific literature in this field. What you say may be true of Europe. It is not true, for example, of most of the Arab world.

    Check out the fertility rate of Saudi Arabia at nationmaster.com.

    Then extrapolate …

    The book to read is Overshoot.

    Now be a good lad and do your homework instead of wallowing in political correctness!

  • Hrm. Paul Marks is one of the last people I’d be game enough to patronise.

    I also think he’s by and large correct. Russia and Arabia are outliers in the general trend that Paul mentions. There are specific, unique reasons for this. In regards to Russia, I think it has something to do with the post-superpower malaise that country finds itself in, despite the fact that its people are (probably) growing wealthier. In wealthy Arabia, I’d guess it’s the rapid enrichment of a large elite class who have an interest in promoting very traditional cultural values in order to maintain their wealth.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    James and Paul Marks are correct. The falloff in birthrates and population growth when countries get richer is pretty widely understood. In poor countries with no welfare safety nets, high child mortality and so on, you have big families. As that changes, the families get smaller. It has happened throughout the western world, is happening in China, Japan, much of Asia, and is also happening in many other places. Like all such things there are exceptions and one must take allowance of the impact of things like religion, but pretty much the pattern is as described.

    Russia’s population is declining, and they have a very serious AIDS crisis. Vast areas of that country are depopulated. The same applies in much of Africa, which is why Eurostatistician’s call for sterlisation is wrong.

  • Eurostatistician

    The falloff in birthrates and population growth when countries get richer is pretty widely understood.

    It’s called the demographic transition.

    Professional demographers no longer take it seriously.

    Your grades, Johnathan, Paul etc: beta minus rather
    than alpha plus.

    The book to read is Virginia Abernethy’s ‘Population Politics’.

    Do your homework, boys!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Eurostatistician, the demographic transition argument you mock is in fact widely in evidence. Look at birthrates in western Europe – they are barely above replacement level. Most actuaries predict that the populations of Italy and Germany, for example, will shrink by the middle of the century. That, added to rising longevity, explains why pensions are such a burning issue for governments around the world, for example.

    Instead of making patronising remarks, read this:(Link)

  • Johnathan

    Oh, Eurostat, I had a look at the book you cited over at the Amazon site. One review claims she has refuted the Demographic Transition theory, the other says the book borders on racism.

    Hardly a ringing endorsement. I still say evidence around the world tends to back up the DT thesis.

  • Eurostatistician


    We’re not talking about Europe or the civilised world as a whole (i.e. including much of Asia).

    We’re talking chiefly about Arab countries: Saudi Arabia et al. In primitive societies, it seems that the higher a family’s income, the more likely the mother is to have more children.

    The demographic transition theory is of local validity. Yes — the wealthier and more intelligent a people are, the more likely they are to practice birth control.

    If people are very smart, they end up as genetic cul-de-sacs and are eventually replaced by other, less clever but more fecund populations. If all Europe were to consist of (supersmart) Samizdatarians there would be none of less in 50 years time.

    But all that’s a bit off-topic, so I’ll say no more ….

  • Eurostatistician

    Sorry, penultimate sentence should read:

    “If all Europe were to consist of (supersmart) Samizdatarians there would be none of us left in 50 years time.”

  • Matt O'Halloran

    So libertarians are ‘too nice’, eh? I haven’t experienced much of that douceur from Mr Pearce.

    And “libertarianism is a profoundly decent, life affirming creed”.

    That probably explains why most of the world has never heard of it.

    “That’s victory.”

    The only one libboes will ever enjoy, I suspect.

    I know why foreign aid won’t work, and why any nostrums for the foetid mess Africa has become which depend on embracing advanced economic, social and political systems won’t work either.

    The average IQ of high caste Indians, northern Chinese and Japanese is over 100.

    The average IQ of whites is 100.

    The average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is 108.

    And the average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans is 70.

    All the ranting and raving about racism in the world won’t change those scores. “But if you break the bloody glass, you won’t hold up the weather.”

    You can’t build a modern nation state on the basis of a native population whose average mental age is 11:


  • Oh Matt!

    Begone Satan with all your works and pomps!

    Out! Out! Out! Thou servant of Phil Rushton and Richard Lynn and Arthur Jensen and Chris Brand and Hans Eysenck!

    IP-ban now this Foul and Malevolent Creature of Darkness!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    So libertarians are ‘too nice’, eh? I haven’t experienced much of that douceur from Mr Pearce.

    Indeed Matt. I am harsh towards you because you are a racist jackass. Quoting unsourced IQ averages does not equate to much of an argument.

    Sod off.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Oh and Matt, the website you referenced would appear be linked to a White Supremacist outfit called American Unity or whatever.


  • Eurostatistician

    Oh dear,

    Johnathan’s definition of white supremacy keeps on expanding — it now includes the moderate anti-immigrationist website VDARE, whose contributors include leading intellectuals such as Steve Sailer, Peter Brimelow, Paul Craig Roberts et al.

    J. Philippe Rushton (who wrote the article Matt linked) is one of the world’s leading experts on the race dimension of population genetics, BTW.

    I have no idea as to whether Matt is a ‘racist’ — I’ve only read a few of his recent contributions and they seemed very balanced and objective to me. Perhaps he is — perhaps Matt deep down believes something ghastly, wants to enslave or exterminate three quarters of the world population. (sarcasm off)

    But what he wrote about IQ differentials is simply the state of the art — read Richard Lynn, for example, or Chris Birch, or Arthur Jensen.

    This is not a normative but an empirical issue, Johnathan!

    Try to distinguish between a ‘should’ aand an ‘is’.

    Heard of David Hume?

    Read him?

    At any rate, if you can provide references to any scientific works that refute Lynn et al, please let me know. I hate being mistaken about such issues and always keep an open mind.

    Do you keep an open mind, Johnathan? I mean, like reading the works of people who disagree with you?

    Or do you just mutually admire your fellow pseudo-libertarians.

    At least there’s always H.H. Hoppe lerft to preserve the dignity and the seriousness of the libertarian perspective.

  • Matt O'Halloran

    Not just Hoppe, either. There’s Michael Levin and Charles Murray: libertarians who are not bogged down in the colour-blind mindset of the UNESCO/Ashley Montagu era.

    I have always thought that the brand of Randian ‘liberventionism’ practised here is best suited to arrested-adolescent males who think playground name-calling is a substitute for argument and a proof of their own good-heartedness. Pearce confirms this every time he opens his potty mouth. All he’s really doing is the equivalent of stopping one’s ears and drumming one’s heels on the floor: “Can’t hear you! Don’t want to know!”

    No serious and mature discussion of the relative contributions to intelligence by heredity and one’s own experience would be conducted at such a level. But any implication of a brake on the potentialities of the sacred ‘individual’ outrages these libboes. It blows a cold wind into their cosy pubescent ‘metacontext’ where they can do anything they like if only big bad Nanny State, or horrible Human Nature, or Evil Prejudice, or some other bogeyman didn’t keep frustrating them.

    So they drink too much wine and photograph themselves pulling faces, chunter about private spaceships and legalising heroin and ‘transhumanising’ their little selves, and try to forget that cruel world beyond the bedsit where nobody has even heard of libertarianism.

    If he entirety of my exchanges with Mr Pearce were to be published and scrutinised by those who had no prior knowledge of either of us, I wonder who would come out of the inspection smelling sweeter.

  • I think that Matt O’Halloran and Eurostatistician are one and the same.

    Too many similarities to be a coincidence.

  • James Waterton wriites:

    I think that Matt O’Halloran and Eurostatistician are one and the same.


    Cross my heart and hope to die but the first time I heard of Matt was about four days ago — and curiously, on the same day a friend of mine mentioned him in a email to me, singing his praises.

    I really have no idea as to what Matt has written in the past — I suppose I could google his name straight away and find out — but we are not the same person. I presume you were trolling, though.

    Matt’s latest contributions are of very high quality, at any rate.

    Have any of you guys ever even heard of Hans Hermann Hoppe? Have you ever even heard of Michael Levin? Levin has written what may well be the best critique of feminism ever published (‘Feminism and Freedom’) and a brilliant book on race (“Why Race Matters — Race Differences and What They Mean”).

    But of course semi-literate pubertarians like yourselves behave, well, like semi-literate pubertarians. Perhaps, some day, you will realise that the world is a complicated place, that you might be mistaken, and that the fact that you are absolutely convinced that you are right does not mean that you are, in fact, right.

    Allow me to quote Matt:

    I have always thought that the brand of Randian ‘liberventionism’ practised here is best suited to arrested-adolescent males who think playground name-calling is a substitute for argument and a proof of their own good-heartedness. Pearce confirms this every time he opens his potty mouth. All he’s really doing is the equivalent of stopping one’s ears and drumming one’s heels on the floor: “Can’t hear you! Don’t want to know!”

    Samizdatarians, I just might be back on Monday to further enlighten and assist you. You do need help. You are very fortunate to have Matt and myself there at your side.

    But don’t bank on it! Whatever about Matt, I myself might never, ever return!

  • Can someone please section this lunatic promptly?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    James, I agree. I am a tolerant person but there comes a point where a comment thread, which is supposed to be an enjoyable conversation among intelligent people on a private space, gets corrupted by bigotry and racism from unwanted houseguests. These guys would be well advised to clear off before they get banned. In fact Matt has been banned, so I assume he is posting from a new URL. What a jerk.