Tag: Thomas Sowell

Clarence Thomas’s Straussian Moment: The Question of Slavery and the Founding, and a question for my political theory and intellectual history friends

A question for the political theorists, intellectual historians, and maybe public law/con law experts. The question comes at the very end of this post. Forgive the build-up. And the potted history: I’m writing fast because I’m hard at work on this Clarence Thomas book and am briefly interrupting that work in order to get a reading list. In the second half of the 1980s, Clarence Thomas is being groomed for a position on the Supreme Court, or senses that he’s being groomed. He’s the head of the EEOC in the Reagan Administration and decides to beef up on his reading in political theory, constitutional law, and American history. He hires two Straussians—Ken Masugi and John Marini—to his staff on the […]

The Liberating Power of the Dismal Science

I’m reading Thomas Sowell’s Race and Economics (1975), which had a major influence on Clarence Thomas. Sowell is a black conservative economist. In his chapter on slavery, Sowell writes: Although a slave-owner’s power to punish a slave was virtually unlimited by either law or custom, there were economic limits on the profits to be derived in this way. In many respects unremarkable, the passage nevertheless gives a sense of what a disenchanted black radical like Thomas, searching in the 1970s for a way past the impasse of the Black Freedom movements, might have found in Sowell’s conservative and economistic mode of thinking. For what Sowell is suggesting is that the one power that stood above or beyond that of the white slaveholder was the power of economics itself. While law […]

Friedrich Del Mar*: More on Hayek, Pinochet, and Chile

In my first post about Hayek and Pinochet, I quoted a statement that I had written in the Nation in 2009 and had repeated in my book The Reactionary Mind: Hayek admired Pinochet’s Chile so much that he decided to hold a meeting of his Mont Pelerin Society in Viña del Mar, the seaside resort where the coup against Allende was planned. The Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) was a group of intellectuals and activists that Hayek helped found after World War II to advance the cause of the free market. In recent years, it has become the subject of some great new scholarship; judging by the fall catalogs it looks likely to be an even hotter topic in the future. […]