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20141228 The Chosen Few

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This is research based on economic and demographic data that tries to explain reasons for unusual behavioral and vocational traits of Jewish population of the world. The explanation seems to be found in specific features of Jewish religion that are based on literacy and numeracy as religious duty even if it is costly and economically unjustified, except for psychological satisfaction that some individuals experience from process of learning and ideological discussions. The point is made that such individuals choose to remain Jews while other individuals who did not experienced comparable psychological returns choose to convert to other, less demanding religions. Consequently on the long run over period of hundreds of years this choice made Jews into self-selected group based on propensity to learn and therefore well prepared for explosion of market for high cognitive demand professions, successful and prosperous, but highly dependent on this market.


CHAPTER 1:70 CE to 1492: How Many Jews Were There, and Where and How Did They Live? From Jesus to Muhammad (1 CE-622): A World of Farmers; From Muhammad to Hulagu Khan (622-1258): Farmers to Merchants; From Hulagu Khan to Tomas de Torquemada (1258 – 1492): The End of the Golden Age Jewish History 7o CE-1492: Puzzles;

The first chapter gives overview of Jewish history and provides a list of relevant factors:

  • The destruction of Jewish temple and war did not dramatically decrease Jewish population of Land of Israel. However afterward for the next 500 years it dropped by some 90%. At the same time the number of non-Jews grew with total population decreasing by much smaller percentage.
  • However total Jewish population of the world decreased too, but much less with only about a half justified by massacres and general decline. At the same time the center of Jewish life moved from Land of Israel where Jews were farmers to Mesopotamia where they were artisans, traders, and members of other profession with higher level of demand for cognitive abilities. These professions where also in high demand in Muslim caliphates that were prosperous at the time
  • After destruction of caliphates by Mongol invasions the need in such professions fall dramatically and so did Jewish population of these areas with center of Jewish life moving to Western Europe.

CHAPTER 2: Were the Jews a Persecuted Minority? Restrictions on Jewish Economic Activities; Taxation Discrimination; Physical versus Portable Human Capital; Self-Segregated Religious Minority; The Economics of Small Minorities

Contrary to the common understanding, Jews for the main part of their history were not restricted in their economic activities except for participation in government bureaucracies. The typical Jewish trend to go into high cognitive demand fields was an individual choice of majority of individuals. Author reviews various theories of why it happens either due to exogenous or endogenous factors and concludes that none of theories provide satisfactory explanation of known historical facts.

CHAPTER 3: The People of the Book, 200 BCE-200 CE; The Two Pillars of Judaism from Ezra to Hillel (500 to 50 BCE): The Temple and the Torah; The Lever of Judaism: Education as a Religious Norm; The Destruction of the Second Temple: From Ritual Sacrifices to Torah Reading and Study; The Legacy of Rabbinic Judaism: The Mishna and Universal Primary Education, 10 CE – 200; Judaism and Education: The Unique Link in the Worm of the Mishna

This is a story of how Jewish religion becomes tightly connected to literacy and how education becomes a religious duty. It starts with Judaism loosing one of its two pillars – the temple and putting everything on the second one – Torah. The learning of Torah become a standard requirement for all Jews of land of Israel regardless of their wealth or lack thereof. There were multiple sects, which had various other ways of survival one of them being Christianity. However only one put everything on education and this one maintained Jewish specificity afterword. This tradition did not limit itself to Torah. It produced 6 volumes of Mishna completed about 200 AD. The new religious tradition made emphasis on reading Torah in Hebrew, rather then in regular language of environment, cementing Jewish specificity and continuation.

CHAFFER 4. The Economics of Hebrew Literacy in a World of Farmers; Heterogeneity and the Choices Facing Jewish Farmers circa 200; The Economic Theory: Basic Setup; The Economic Theory: Predictions; Life in a Village in the Galilee circa 200 through the Lens of the Theory; Annex 4.A: Formal Model of Education and Conversion of Farmers;

This is review of economic circumstances in land of Israel after temple destruction with emphasis on economic costs of continuing Jewish tradition of education with no return in sight for a long time. For farming community that Jews were at the time this continuing education was nothing more then costly ritual maintained only by a relatively small minority for whom intangible psychological benefits of education, discussion, and belonging were significant enough to stay within this weird tradition. Being an economist author provides mathematical analysis of these ideas.

CHAPTER 5: Jews in the Talmud Era, 200-650: The Chosen Few; An Increasingly Literate Farming Society; Conversions of Jewish Farmers; Summary.

This is a continuation of economic analysis of consequences of Jewish tradition to period from 200 to 650 when it still remained a costly religious duty with no visible benefits outside of psychological satisfaction. It accompanied by analysis of dynamics of Jewish population provided as support to the idea that since only minority of people could find strong enough psychological benefit of education for its own sake, it should be continuing decline in numbers of Jewish population due to conversions rather then extermination. A very interesting analysis is conducted based on material traces of Jewish population distribution such as synagogues buildings. This analysis points to much higher rate of decrease of rural population of Jews comparatively with city dwellers. It also points to legal limitations on Jewish attempts to stop mass conversions to Christianity.

CHAPTER 6: From Farmers to Merchants, 750-1150; The Economics of Hebrew Literacy in a World of Merchants; The Golden Age of Literate Jews in the Muslim Caliphates; Summary. Annex 6.4: Formal Model of Education and Conversion of Merchants

This chapter reviews period from 750 to 1150 when Jewish dedication to education unexpectedly started to produce great economic returns in form of white color jobs abundance of which was produced by development of great Muslim Caliphates in Mesopotamia. The point is made that it was not only education, but also legal notions and ideas, contract enforcement, and dispute resolution mechanisms developed within Jewish tradition that provided Jews with competitive advantages in areas of intellectual activities required by economies of bureaucratic states. This chapter also provides mathematical analysis of rate of conversion for different groups in relation to different methods of taxation with inference that proportion of merchants among Jews should grow by proportions consistent with actual historical data.

CHAPTER 7: Educated Wandering Jews, 800 -1250; Wandering Jews before Marco Polo; Jewish Migration within the Muslim Caliphates; Migration of Byzantine Jewry; Jewish Migration to and within Christian Europe; Migration of the Jewish Religious Center; Summary

This chapter is about prosperous Jewish traders who used their literacy and numeracy to provide services necessary for international trade all around the known world especially in Muslim Caliphates of Middle East and Europe. Special attention allocated to European Jews. Even if Jews moved to Italy, France, and Germany back at the period of Roman Empire, the bulk of Jewish population of Europe came from different sources and much later. They were seems to be attracted by need of multiple small kingdoms in qualified services of merchants, money managers, and artisans that Jews specialized in. With continuously changing forces of pull and push they were moved throughout the Europe eventually creating multiple small, specialized communities just about elsewhere without mixing that much with local population. Genetic research of Ashkenazi Jews shows their close relationship with people living in Middle East and North Africa rather then with French or German population of Europe.

CHAPTER 8: Segregation or Choice: From Merchants to Moneylenders I000-1500; The Economics of Money and Credit in Medieval Europe; Jewish Prominence in Moneylending: Hypotheses; The Dynamics of Jewish Moneylending in Medieval Europe; Jewish Moneylending in Medieval Italy: A Detailed Analysis; Attitudes toward Moneylending; Facts and Competing Hypotheses; From Merchants to Moneylenders: Comparative Advantage in Complex intermediation; Annex 8.4: The Charter to the Jews of Vienna

This chapter analyses the most pronounced Jewish specialty – moneylending. The point is made that it was not a business activity forced on Jews by religious restrictions on other population, but rather a choice that allowed most effective use of specifically Jewish skills developed via religious practice of education. Moreover data provided that Jewish participation in credit market was relatively small amounting to not more than 10-20% of market share. Also here are provided very specific data on types of loans, borrowers, and collateral used based on historical records in Italy.

CHAPTER 9: The Mongol Shock: Can Judaism Survive When Trade and Urban Economies Collapse? The Mongol Conquest of the Muslim Middle East; Socioeconomic Conditions in the Middle East under the Mongols; Jewish Demography under Mongol and Mamluks Rule: An Experiment; Why Judaism Cannot Survive When Trade and Urban Economies Collapse; Summary

This chapter is about Mongol conquest and destruction of sophisticate urban caliphates that eliminated need in type of professional services provided by Jews and following collapse of Jewish demographics in this area.

CHAPTER 10: 1492 to Today: Open Questions; Portrait of World Jewry circa 1492; Jewish History, 7o CE-1492: Epilogue; Trajectory of the Jewish People over the Past 500 Years; Persistence of Jewish Occupational Structure

The final chapter briefly restates the Jewish history traced in this book until 1492 and adds snapshot of changing demographics and locations of Jewish population of the world. It is specifically stresses continuity of Jewish vocational profile and prominence achieved by Jews in all intellectual areas. This prominence and its source in the contemporary world when intellectual profession became the most important and competition in traditional Jewish vocational areas is high are posed as questions for the next installment of this research related to periods from 1492 until now.


I find this book and its ideas very intriguing and having high explanatory value. If typical count of generations for humans is about 25 years, then period from destruction of temple to opening of opportunities in Muslim caliphates in 650 had about 25 generations: more than enough for genetic selection. At the same time contemporary world demonstrates that practical disappearance of religious tradition of Jewish learning combined with prosperity, and security of young Jews dramatically decreased their intellectual ability to analyze and appreciate facts and ideas, while leaving intact their seemingly inherited joy of participation in all things ideological, making them into fodder of all kinds of ideological movements from eastern religions to weird cults of environmental extremism, and even to far left anti-Semitism.

20141221 Governing the Commons

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Traditional approach to use, maintenance, and allocation common pool resources (CPR) is not sufficient to describe successfully existing arrangements known in multiple societies. It is also usually fails to fully explain failures of CPR use that very often occurs. The detailed analysis of multiple real life cases allowed author identify common features of successes as well as failures and develop a workable framework for creation institutions necessary for successful management of CPR.



The book is a reflection on common use of resources and has 3 objectives: critic existing foundation of political analysis of commons, provide empirical example of successful resolution of the problem, and develop tools for understanding self-governing mechanisms for use of common resources.

Three influential models: The tragedy of the commons; the prisoner’s dilemma game; the logic of collective action: The free traditional models reviewed are: tragedy of commons when lack of responsibility leads to degradation of common resource, prisoner’s dilemma when one uses commons at the expense of another, and Olson’s logic of collective action when effective use of commons is possible only by using coercion against individuals who fail to act in common interest.

The metaphorical use of models: These 3 models and their variations routinely used by politicians as metaphors to justify some policy in regard to such resources as fisheries or logging areas when direct control is difficult.

Current policy prescriptions: Leviathan as the “only way”; Privatization as the “only way”; the “only” way? An alternative solution; an empirical alternative; Policy prescriptions as metaphors; Policies based on metaphors can be harmful: the political prescriptions usually one-sided promoting either leviathan option (centralized control) or privatization (decentralized control) as the only way to solve the problem. The first one encounters problem of cost and effectiveness of control, while the second had difficulty to overcome complexity of resource division. Author believes that there is another better way than these polar options. This way is provided by empirical evidence of real societies managing commons.

A challenge: to develop theory of human organization based on reality of human abilities and limitation rather than on metaphorical ideas. The key approach to organization as self-organizing entity with limitations being: common pool resources (CPR) should be renewable, scarce, and situations when user can harm each other. Based on empirical research presented in the bulk of the book, author provides some conjectures about ways to meet this challenge.


The approach is based on study of small scale CPRs with self-organization of group of principals who successfully managed beneficial use of resources and prevented such downsides as free riding and shirking.

The CPR situation: CPRs and resource units; Rational appropriators in complex and uncertain situations

Here author defines detailed meaning of CPR, resource system, resource units, and other key notions of this research.

Interdependence, independent action, and collective action: The theory of the firm; the theory of the state

This part is review of different types of actions that individuals could use in relation to CPR with special attention to interdependency of actions by all individual appropriators of CPR benefits. Author reviews and compares firms as voluntary contractual organizations with state as involuntary organization based on ability of some individuals punish others.

Three puzzles: supply, commitment, and monitoring: The problem of supply; the problem of credible commitment; the problem of mutual monitoring

This is a brief review of literature on problems of supply of institutions, making commitments, and monitoring actions of individuals in relation to CPR.

Framing inquiry: Appropriation and provision problems; multiple levels of analysis

The main feature of this inquiry is that it has multilayer character rejecting usual limitation of prisoner’s dilemma. The main interest here assigned to CPR management when PD is not applicable. Appropriation problem is related to how participants allocate fixed and time-independent quantities of resource to avoid its dissipation and conflict. It relates to assignment of spatial and/or temporal access to resource. The problem of provision relates to investment into creation and maintenance of CPR. It reviewed from both supply and demand sides of the issue. The levels of analysis include institutions, which defined as set of rules that includes subsets of rules about changing the rules (constitutional rules), collective choice rules, and operational rules. Additional division is into formal and informal rules at all levels.

Studying institutions in field settings

Here author provide rationality for selection of objects for studies presented in chapters 3, 4, and 5.



The key parameters for selection were: 1. Appropriators devised their own rules and implemented their own control, mechanisms 2. CPR and rules survived for a long time.

Cases reviewed: Communal tenure in high mountain meadows and forests: Törbel Switzerland, Hirano, Nagaike, and Yamanoka villages in Japan; Huerta irrigation institutions: Valencia, Murcia and Orihuela, Alicante; Zaniera irrigation communities in the Philippines

Similarities among enduring, self-governing CPR institutions:

They all include the following 8 principles:

  1. Clearly defined boundaries;
  2. Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions;
  3. Collective-choice arrangements;
  4. Monitoring;
  5. Graduated sanctions;
  6. Conflict-resolution mechanisms;
  7. Minimal recognition of rights to organize;
  8. Nested enterprises

The chapter provides detailed discussion based on reviewed cases for each principle of successful CPR control by community.


If chapter 3 analyzed existing long-term institution, this chapter is an analysis of the process of creation of such institutions. The case reviewed is CA water distribution between different areas. The analysis is conducted as multilayered review of different “games” played by participants in the process of setting up institution for control of appropriation of CPR of water:

The competitive pumping race: The setting, the logic of the water-rights game

The litigation game: The Raymond Basin negotiations; The West Basin negotiations; The Central Basin litigation; Conformance of parties to negotiated settlements; The entrepreneurship game: Reasons for forming a district to include both basins; Reasons against forming a district to include both basins; The polycentric public-enterprise game;

The totality of these games and their outcome led to establishment of robust institution that author believes would last for a long time.

The analysis of institutional supply: the supply of institution included creation of new private associations, extensive litigation, legislation and creation of new taxable entities. Overall these activities demanded very high allocation of resources for collection of information, development of detailed CPR knowledge, and complex negotiations.

Incremental, sequential, and self-transforming institutional change in a facilitative political regime: As result of analysis author stresses an incremental process of institution development within framework of self-rule facilitated but not fully controlled by political regime.

Reformulating the analysis of institutional change:

The result of analysis provides some rules of thumb for development of an institution such as need to ask two question at every step of development: 1. Is this action (outcome) required? 2. Is this action (outcome) forbidden? Finally author discusses difference between institution creation and institution change as two different types of activities requiring qualitatively different amounts of effort and resources.


This chapter reviews a number of cases when CPR institutions failed.

Two Turkish inshore fisheries with continuing CPR problems; California groundwater basins with continuing CPR problems; A Sri Lankan fishery

Irrigation development projects in Sri Lanka; The fragility of Nova Scotian inshore fisheries;

Interestingly enough all reviewed cases of failure involved massive participation of government.

Lessons to be learned from comparing the cases in this study

Author divides causes of failure into 2 groups: faulty use of 8 design principles described in chapter 3 and situational and regime characteristics that effected capacity of individuals to change their institutions.



Traditional models such as tragedy of commons, prisoners’ dilemma, and collective actions all are not applicable to reviewed real life cases. These models are not wrong, but they would work only in case when assumptions are fulfilled, which is not necessary case in real life. Based on reviewed cases author identifies specific rules for applied in successful use of CPR and develops framework for analysis of similar situations

The problems of supply, credible commitment, and mutual monitoring

The rules for CPR success are:

  • Defined set of appropriators of CPR
  • Rules are directly related to specific attributes of CPR
  • Rules designed by appropriators themselves
  • Individuals who are accountable to appropriators monitor compliance
  • Rules include predefined and graduated punitive sanctions

A framework for analyzing institutional choice: Evaluating benefits; evaluating costs; Evaluating shared norms and other opportunities; the process of institutional change; predicting institutional change

Author also provides a detailed framework for analyzing institutions for both types: constitutional choice and collective choice. The framework includes complex configuration of variables that should be included in order to achieve successful outcome.

A challenge to scholarship in the social sciences

Author identifies deficiency of typical analysis as use of rigid models that lead to predefined conclusion about necessity to increase centralization, often at expense of eliminating previously existing institution. The recommendation is to be more cautious with models and rely more on existing ideological and analytical framework of western civilization created by individuals like Hobbs, Hume, Adam Smith, American founding fathers, and other thinkers.


It is a very interesting book in which economist goes beyond simple ideas of tragedy of commons versus private ownership and proposes well justified and based on empirical research framework of cooperative management of CPRs based on voluntary participation. For me this is the key ingredient of not only economic, but also moral success because in this case coercion used minimally and only to enforce previously agreed upon rules. I also find this research extremely useful for future designers of institutions of cooperation for CPR use and maintenance that we’ll have to develop sometime in the future when dead end of society based on government coercion become obvious for majority and multitude of new institutions for voluntary cooperation will be required to substitute old non-working bureaucratic arrangements of contemporary world.

20141214 Mindwise

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The main idea of this book is somewhat trivial: it is very important to understand other people in order to interact and cooperate with them. Author reviews wide body of research demonstrating how exactly it happens in real life not only with other people, but also internally: ability to understand individual’s own mind and what to do to expand self-knowledge. Another aspect reviewed is people interaction with ideas about others either in form of dehumanization of other or humanization of non-existing entities like spirits and such. The final conclusion is that in order to understand other people one has to listen to them and observe their behavior rather then try to pick up some mini signals.


PREFACE Your Real Sixth Sense

The real sixth sense is ability to understand others and us themselves. This sense is absolutely necessary for cooperation and sometimes it works and sometimes it does not work and that’s what this book is about. It starts with description of experiment to demonstrate difference between humans and chimps. The comparison was between chimps and kids at earlier levels of development when both groups were equally successful in solving simple physical problems. Kids, however, were dramatically better in social tests in which success required ability to understand mind of other.


1 An Overconfident Sense

This chapter starts with an example of president Bush who misread mind of foreign leaders. After that it goes to analysis of humans ability to understand what other people think about them. The result was pretty good ability to understand what is overall impression one has on a group, but really poor ability to read mind of the specific individual. People also cannot predict what impressions would produce their photo on other people: whether they are considered attractive or not. Another research shows that ability to recognize lies is barely above random coin toss. Probably the most interesting finding is that people are not really good in reading their close friends and relatives: average accuracy of mind reading is 35% for close associates and 20% for strangers. Better results were demonstrated for married couple’s ability to evaluate levels of self-worth for the partner: 44%, but self-estimate of accuracy was 82% nearly double actual.

2 What You Can and Cannot Know About Your Own Mind

This starts with another interesting finding related to racism in USA in 1920s. When asked over the phone to accommodate Asian person 90% of clerks in hotels refused to do it. However when Asian individuals actually come in person the accommodation was refused only once out of 251 attempts. Similar experiment in our time demonstrated another version of the same result: vast majority of individuals predicted that they would be outraged by racist joke if told in their presence. In reality when it did happen overwhelming majority did nothing and expressed no discomfort. Author also recounts the famous Milgram research on obedience when people consistently cannot predict how far they would go in compliance with clearly cruel and inhumane orders. More benign form of this poor self-knowledge is our usual inability to correctly estimate how long it would take to accomplish a task. From here author provides key analogy for complex structure of our mind that contains huge amount of unconscious processing and much smaller amount of conscious: house where what we see is our conscious perception of house, but much bigger part of house: foundation, plumbing, wiring and such is invisible. The brain is constantly at work to generate finished product for consciousness from chaotic bits and pieces of information provided by senses. This subconscious process really drives our actions for which we come up with logical explanations afterword. One of manifestation of this is human ability filter out facts that are not consistent with their believes whether these are political, religious, or any other strongly help believes.


3 How We Dehumanize

As it could be expected, the chapter on dehumanizing starts with story of American Indians and then moves to civil rights protests with signs “I am a man”. Then it goes to statement that distance makes other people remote and insignificant preventing our ability to sense their minds. However two triggers: physical sense and cognitive inferences could prevent the dehumanizing. Author provides example of physical sense trigger overriding dehumanizing environment by referring to the fact that majority of US soldiers in WWII did not really fired their weapons. The cognitive inference trigger demonstrated by referring to different parts of brain being activated when person observes other person’s pain than when person is in pain. Characteristically neither of these parts of brain activated when one looks at dehumanized objects. Another finding is that there are different degrees of dehumanizing so it could be said that it applied to everybody with various intensity. Author provides example from business and military to demonstrate levels of misunderstanding of other people due to refusal to assign to them the types of motivation as one claims for self.

4 How We Anthropomorphize

This chapter describes and provides quite a few of interesting example of human ability to assign intention and planning similar to humans in situations where there are no agency, but rather random events. Human mind designed to make sense from events and situations. An interesting point is made about our relations with machines. As long as they function as expected we take them for granted and see no intentionality. However as soon as machine either car, or computer, or some other device fails we assign agency to this device and try negotiating with it however funny it looks from outside. It also relates to things like billiard balls and such that move along not easily predicted trajectories.


5 The Trouble of Getting Over Yourself

This chapter is about neck problem: inability of people to look at issue from point of view different than their own. Example provided of experiment screen shelves with boxes open or closed differently from one side to another so one person has different picture then another. When asked to provide instruction to move things in boxes people often make mistake of not taking into account that other person does not see what they see. The errors level for adult is about 25% and children all the way up to 50%. This also related to overestimate of one’s importance and attention received from other people. This also related to evaluation of commonality of knowledge one possesses. For example people normally assume in conversation that vocabulary is common for all participants, while it may not be a case.

6 The Uses and Abuses of Stereotypes

We live in the world of stereotypes, which nearly always are not completely correct, but “good enough” shortcuts for everyday activities. As example a research on attitude to inequality was provided. Republicans do prefer inequality over equal distribution, but only by 3.5% more, than democrats. Another experiment is with circles: decide whether single circle included in picture with multiple circles. People usually wrong, but they are wrong consistently. Overall conclusion is that use of stereotypes is complex process with multiple feedback loops when stereotyped people for example unconsciously adjust their behavior to stereotype. A very important point however is that people easily drop stereotypes when they are dealing with individuals like in “All politicians are crooks, but my congressman is a good guy”.

 7 How Actions Can Mislead

This chapter is about behavior that could be perceived completely differently than it is. Example provided of person with heart attack in crowded mall that was perceived as drunk. Contextual forces play a huge role in such situation. This is used to control people’s behavior as it discussed in book “Nudge”. Author discusses different problems such as environment, obesity, and school performance and how to create context in which people would do what he considers the right thing.


8 How, and How Not, to Be a Better Mind Reader

Author describes the typical approach to understanding other people as either picking up their involuntary body signals or attempt to put oneself into other person’s shoes. He claims that both approaches are not supported by scientific evidence. As evidence of ineffectiveness of picking up bodily micro movements he provides failure of airport screenings. As to effectiveness of point of view placement the main problem is that people usually do not understand other persons’ point of view, does not know facts or falsehoods this view is based on, and have little understanding of cultural environment in which other person developed his/her personality. The final inference is that the only way to understand other people is to ask them, listen to whatever they have to say on their own, and observe their actions in real life. The main problem however is the difficulty of creating such environment that people would not be afraid to express what they really think. Another problem is that people often do not really know themselves good enough.

 AFTERWORD Being Mindwise

The final note is on importance of understanding. It is discussed using Caribbean Crisis of 1962 when misunderstanding nearly led to nuclear war.


While I am quite familiar with many of experiments presented in this book, nevertheless it was an interesting point of view on human understanding of themselves and others and ability to communicate. I fully agree that the best way to understand people is to ask, listen, and observe action, only I would rely more on actions observation then on anything else because it is not unusual for people to misrepresent their situation and intentions. However I would take wider view on understanding people starting with the issue author does not include in this book: philosophical setup of individual under review. I do not think it is possible to understand anybody including oneself without looking first on background of the person, environment in which person grew up, and what is considered right and wrong in this environment. For example a person who grew up in environment where “You shell not kill” relate only to people of his tribe, while commandment in relation to people from other tribes is “You shell kill” should be perceived based on knowledge of this background rather than personal characteristics of this person if one want to select right behavior in any encounter with such individual.

20141207 Forgotten History: Progressive Empire

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The 17th President: Andrew Johnson: ABOLITIONIST INFIDEL DEMAGOGUE;

PRESIDENTIAL vs. CONGRESSIONAL RECONSTRUCTION; Black Codes; Joint Committee on Reconstruction; Freedmen’s Bureau and Civil Rights Act; Racial Violence; Conquered Provinces; The Reconstruction Amendments; Impeachment; Congressional Reconstruction and a Missed Opportunity; FOREIGN POLICY: Alaska; THE RISE OF THE TYCOONS; A WHOLE NEW WORLD:

The accidental president who was the only one democrat in senate remaining on the side of Union, Andrew Jonson was nevertheless convinced supporter of slavery and Southerner. The main issue of his presidency was after war settlement between South and North that initially failed leading to virtual continuation of civil war as relatively low intensity conflict. Despite Johnson’s resistance and vetoes civil act and reconstruction amendments 13th, 14th, and 15th become laws, but their real implementation was put on hold by resistance of Southern states that were able pretty much restore pre-war power structure. While the South continued its struggle, the North moved on to open the great era of economic and technological growth.

The 18th President: Ulysses Grant: THE NEW PRESIDENT; FOREIGN POLICY: Cuba; The Alabama; The Caribbean and the Pacific; THE SPOILS SYSTEM, GRANTISM, and CRONY CAPITALISM; The Rise of Political Entrepreneurs; Black Friday; Other Scandals; LAND FOR RAILROADS; The High Cost of Free; Prewar Land Grant Railroads; The Pacific Railroad Acts; Binding the Nation; Credit Mobilier; The Panic of 1873; New Philadelphia; WAR IN THE WEST; Treaties; Comancheria; The Southern Plains and the Red River War; Minnesota; The Northern Plains and Red Cloud’s War; The Desert and the Apache Wars; The Irony; RECONSTRUCTION: Racial Violence and Terrorism; CENTENNIAL ELECTION; Scott Plan, Wormley Agreement, and Compromise of 1877

The presidency of U.S. Grant had 3 main developments. The first and probably most important was development of contemporary system of crony capitalism when government provides support and lots of free staff to business owners close to government. At the time it was mainly railroads that were given huge amount of land either unpopulated or taken away from Indians. Inevitably it resulted in a number of Indian wars that eventually brought in annihilation of significant part of Indian population and push of its remnants into reservations. Formation of crony capitalism system also resulted in multiple scandals when various schemas of transferring public wealth into private coffers were implemented. Another significant development was intensification of civil war with South to the point when it was military occupied and white southerners were deprived of civil rights in order to assure civil rights for black. This war of attrition ended as many future similar low intensity wars of USA when will of more military powerful side was discounted to nothing by stronger will of materially weaker side leading to defeat of North under disguise of compromise. In this case southern whites got back their political power and successfully substituted slavery with new system of racial segregation.

19th President: Rutherford Hayes: A MORAL PRESIDENT; Carlisle Indian Industrial School; THE GRFAT RAILROAD STRIKE OF 1877; CURRENCY REFORM; FOREIGN POLICY; RECONSTRUCTION and THE FREEDMAN; Slave Narratives; W. E. B. Du Bois and Frederick Douglass; Penal Slavery; Free Labor; Micro-Banking; Legacy of War and Reconstruction; A NEW ERA; CHICAGO CONVENTION:

In order to elect Hayes Republicans struck the deal for ending military occupation of South. It virtually put civil war to end leaving white Democrats of South to establish new order on the base of segregation. Hayes also tried to bring end to Indian wars and bring Indians into western civilization by educating their children in government schools. The new area of conflict start developing due to economic expansion: labor versus management. The biggest symptom was railroad strike of 1877. At this point government was firmly on the side of owners and management using force to suppress labor during violent outbursts. Author provides quite a bit of details about condition of former slaves and new forms of suppression used as substitute of slavery. At the North economic expansion included a huge doses of crony capitalism, political patronage, and spoils system, but it still was very successful. Part of this success was acceptance of hard money (gold) that assured financial stability for decades.

 The 20th President: James Garfield

Hayes accepted nomination on condition of one term only so Garfield was next republican in line, however assassination cut his presidency short.

 The 21st President: Chester Arthur: ON THE JOB; Civil Service Reform; Budget Surplus; FOREIGN POLICY; IMMIGRATION and POLITICAL PARTIES; The Farmers Movement; ENTREPRENEURS: Edison; Carnegie; Rockefeller; INFORMATION REVOLUTION; Charles Darwin; Henry George; ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN; A Part of the Flow of History; Immigrants Choose Sides; Multiple Divides; Washington Gladden and the Social Gospel; LEGACY

Author presents Chester Author as effective and successful promoter of American ideas. He curbed a bit of crony capitalism by promoting civil service reform and cutting down traditional source of government largesse: non existing postal routs. In short it was nice and mainly uneventful presidency when prosperity ruled and future sides of new ideological battles where at inception not causing too much trouble.

 The 22nd President: Grover Cleveland: BOURBON DEMOCRATS and MUGWUMPS; INAUGURAL ADDRESS; DOMESTIC POLICY: Tariffs; Bimetallism; Help For Farmers; INDIAN POLICY; The Dawes Act; FOREIGN POLICY; WESTERN RAILROADS; The Inertia of Institutions; A Tale of Two States; Weather Science and the Era of the Cowboy; Cartels; CALIFORNIA and the OCTOPUS; The Rise of the Octopus; The Fall of the Octopus; THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE ACT; Guilds in the Wake; THE LABOR MOVEMENT; The Great Southwest Railroad Strike; Haymarket Riot; THE CAMPAIGN OF 1888;

Grover Cleveland was the first democrat to become president since before the civil war and as such he was pretty much in Jacksonian mold. Unusually he did not make money on political office that made his career very successful in prevailing anti graft mood. All in all he was pretty much a traditional liberal called at the time Bourbon Democrats, which means low taxes, individual freedom, non-intervention in economy. Nevertheless it was period of growth of monopolies supported by Congress through multiple legislative initiatives. It was also time of continuing growth of labor movement that was becoming more militant. In elections of 1888 Cleveland won popular vote, but lost in Electoral College to Harrison partly because of his support for free trade and low tariffs that was not popular with people.

The 23rd President: Benjamin Harrison: INAUGURAL ADDRESS; THE BILLION DOLLAR CONGRESS; The McKinley Tariff; The Sherman Silver Purchase Act; The Sherman Antitrust Act; THE GREAT SIOUX RESERVATION and SIX NEW STATES; BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE; Opening the Indian Territory; Helping the Sioux; A Prophet in the West; FOREIGN POLICY: Hawaii and Samoa; Elsewhere; HOMESTEAD STRIKE; Frick versus Amalgamated Steelworkers; SOCIAL GOSPEL and CHRISTIAN SOCIALISM; 1885. Josiah Strong: Our Country; Edward Bellamy: Looking Backward; 1889. Jane Addams: Hull House; 1890. Jacob Riis: How the Other Half Lives; 1890. George Herron: The Message of Jesus to Men of Wealth; 1892. Francis Bellamy: The Pledge of Allegiance; Walter Rauschenbusch: Brotherhood of the Kingdom; The Social Triumphant, The Gospel Irrelevant;

This was the second case of somewhat inherited presidency: Benjamin was a grand son of William, the 9th president. The main issues again were tariffs and government spending. At this point republicans were for it and democrats against both tariffs and special interests feeding. With being initially in control of legislature republicans passed quite a few laws beneficial to their main constituency- businesses: Silver repurchase act and Antitrust Laws, which were designed pretty much to protect established companies especially railroads from competition. Harrison’s administration mainly completed 300 years long process of dispossession of Indians by opening Indian territories for settlement. It caused the last significant fight at Wounded Knee. Probably the most important ideological development of the time in America was continuing growth of labor movement with such outbreaks as Homestead strike accompanied by expansion of ideology of Christian Socialism. Harrison also continued American play with colonialism by annexing Hawaii.

The 24th President: Grover Cleveland: THE PANIC OF 1893; Tale of Two Railways; Eugene Debs and the A.R.U.; The Pullman Strike; The Rise of the Banks; FIXING THE ECONOMY: GOLD, TARIFFS, and an INCOME TAX; FOREIGN POLICY: Hawaii; Cuba and Spain; Richard Olnev and the Venezuela Crisis CARING FOR OTHERS: Fraternalism; Immigrants, Minorities, and Women; Medical Insurance; Advantages of Lodge Programs; Fraternalism to Paternalism; Other Historians; JURY NULLIFICATION; THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION OF 1896; Cross-of Gold:

After one term Harrison’s presidency democrats and Cleveland were back. However Cleveland’s small government attitude was going out of fashion giving way to massive government intervention in economy. Author provides a very interesting comparison between two railroads: one, Northern Pacific run by political entrepreneurs with financing using lots of government support was driven into the ground and another Great Northern run by business entrepreneurs with little to none government involvement was prosperous. Author, however, makes case against fairy tales libertarian interpretation of this case. He stresses that in both cases managers were eager to use all government help they could get and appropriate all government money they could get. The difference was that for business entrepreneurs the objective was to build railroad and make money by selling its services with government resources being a mainly a source of cost savings. For political entrepreneurs the objective was to make money by appropriating as much government resources as possible using railroad just as justification for resource transfer with very little interest if any in selling its services. Other issue was continuing growth of militant labor movement while in all confrontations government was still firmly on the side of property owners. At the same time many issues related to labor wellbeing such as medical and other forms of insurance, pensions and disabilities, education were resolved using voluntary organizations without government intervention. Finally the monetary issues of Gold versus bimetallism start getting to forefront of Democratic politics where they remained for next 20 years with passions of William Jennings Bryan keeping them out of power.

The 25th President: William McKinley: TWO McKINLEYS; THE ECONOMY FIRST, JIM CROW AT THE END OF THE CENTURY: Black Labor Suppressed; The Birth of Sundown Towns; THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR; The Cuban War of Independence; The Real Reasons; Retroactive Reasons: Burdens of the Victor; A Foreign Polio, Triumvirate: Roosevelt, Mahan, and Lodge; The Explosion of the Maine and Declaration of War; A Pacific Empire; Cuba; A Caribbean Empire; THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR; Military Quagmire, Moral Quagmire; William Graham Sumner and the Anti-Imperialist League; ELECTION of 1900; Republican Party and The March of the Flag; Democratic Party; ASSASSINATION; LEGACY:

Author discusses two images of McKinley. One is maintained by majority of historians who see him as weak man under control of his top adviser Mark Hanna, and another one maintained by minority that he himself was a controller masterfully managing people and events. There was a new twist of long going saga of tariffs: some added flexibility to combine tariffs and protectionism with free trade trying to find the best accommodation for internal and external forces. Monetary policy remained firmly in support of gold standard and overall business interests. Anti-trust laws were used sparingly, while overall prosperity somewhat subdued labor problems. Internationally McKinley moved to Empire building with big investments in Navy, Spanish war, and American territorial expansion in Pacific. All these policies were good enough for relatively easy reelection, although it did required bringing Teddy Roosevelt to the ticket to assure votes in his New York bastion.

Author completes his Libertarian history of America at this point just before American move to progressivism that meant pretty much the end to the American Republic of limited government and nearly unlimited freedom and the beginning of the American republic of nearly unlimited government and limited freedom.


From my point of view the attempt made in this series of books to reassess American history from libertarian point of view is mainly successful, even if not complete. Too much of narrative is dedicated to American imperialist sins, but too little to American libertarian roots and how they withered under pressures of industrialization and phasing away of independent farmers way of life. The line of Hamiltonian republic versus Jeffersonian republic started strongly in first book, but later all but disappeared. I would also like to see a lot more of historical analysis of tensions and struggles between political and business entrepreneurs, including a very interesting and very American group of slave owners who clearly were political entrepreneurs whose business could not exists without violent structures of government to suppress freedom of slaves. Other than that it is clearly a great addition to Paul Johnson’s conservative history and Howard Zinn’s socialist histories of America.