Ryan McCarl

Reading, writing, learning, languages, law, politics, etc.

Rethinking the Great Depression and the New Deal

I’ve become increasingly interested in the history of the 1930s, and I just finished Eric Rauchway’s The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction.  It has become increasingly clear to me that there are major holes in the dominant historical narrative about the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Roosevelt administration.  The standard, high-school-textbook version of the story goes something like this: “Greedy stock market speculators caused the stock market crash of 1929, which triggered the worst depression in American history; President Herbert Hoover believed in an outdated laissez-faire economic philosophy, so he did nothing; thankfully, President Roosevelt was elected, and his New Deal policies saved capitalism and helped the common man survive the Great Depression; and finally, World War II was an enormous boon to the U. Read more →

Lying about Libya

My latest op-ed, “Lying about Libya,” appeared today in Mises Daily, a publication of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.  You can read the article here. In it, I write: “What was sold to the American public as a humanitarian intervention morphed almost immediately into unreserved support of one side in Libya’s civil war and a commitment to overthrowing Libya’s existing government. … To decide whether a military action undertaken in our name is prudent and just, we must adopt a skeptical stance toward politicians’ stories and rationalizations. Read more →

Use of Predators Sets Dangerous Precedent

My op-ed “Use of Predators Sets Dangerous Precedent” appeared today on Antiwar.com. In it, I criticize President Obama’s decision to authorize drone warfare in Libya. I write: “The expediency of drones makes it all-too-tempting for governments to use them frequently and carelessly, brushing aside the ethical questions they raise and ignoring the long-term security consequences their use could entail.” Click here to read the full article. Thanks, as always, for reading. Read more →

Excerpts from Klein, Warren, Chirelstein, and Gluck

Customs grow out of social processes whose details are highly individuated in regards to the type of activity, the individuals involved, their reputational pedigree, the knowledge they have about each other, and so on.  Viewing cultural evolution as deeply and densely rooted process may make one doubt the wisdom of government attempts to fine tune, guide, or supplant it.  It is highly unlikely that the blunt instruments of government will be well suited to cultivating the growth of delicate, teeming, unique interactions. Read more →

Robert Nozick’s ‘Experience Machine’

The following is political philosopher Robert Nozick’s incredible allegory of the “Experience Machine,” from his book Anarchy, State, and Utopia. The allegory makes a case against hedonism, the idea that sensory pleasure is the highest good: — Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. Read more →