Duncan Black Begs Barack Obama to Deal with the Problems of Today Rather than Fail to Deal with the Problems of the 2030s

Stupidest Thing I Have Read This Month...

It is not any of the works of Ludwig von Mises or his increasingly unmannerly (and, I think, strikingly ignorant) acolytes. It is Dylan Riley's hatchet job on the late Tony Judt.

Dylan Riley appears to have two major points:

  1. Tony Judt is to be condemned because his theses on European political-economic history deviate from those laid down by Soviet historians in the Third Period of the Comintern.

  2. Tony Judt is to be condemned because he is inconsistent:

New Left Review - Dylan Riley: Tony Judt: A Cooler Look:[I]t was his talent, limited but real, as a polemicist and a pamphleteer that disqualified Judt as a historian…. His range as a polemicist was relatively narrow: there is a limit to what can be got from attacking the French left or lauding fellow defenders of the Free World…. A pamphleteer may be allowed—even expected—to change his views more or less at the drop of a hat. If the EU is now a moral beacon to the world, now a sad example of failed leadership; or the welfare state now the legacy of organized labour, now the common sense of capitalist politicians—so what? All grist to the mill. A historian will be held to different standards.

The fact that the welfare state is both the legacy of organized labor and the common sense of democratic politicians working in the terrain of the twentieth century North Atlantic--that has eluded Riley. The fact that the EU is both a moral beacon to the world as one of the best and most successful human societies yet constructed and a sad example of failed leadership that has missed opportunities to further ascend the heights that lead to Utopia--that has eluded him as well.