Reading Group, Wednesdays 8 PM ET

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Reading Group, Wednesdays 8 PM ET

  • B.K. Marcus

    We pulled together a very last-minute bookworm hangout last Wednesday. A half dozen of us ended up having a very casual, very fun time in Google Hangouts before migrating into Jeffrey’s class on Faustino Ballve’s Essentials of Economics. (And I think I saw the same people in Walter Block’s class after that.)

    Several people have already told me they couldn’t make last week’s hangouts, but they’ll be there this Wednesday night.

    We’re going to use the second meeting to get to know each other, talk about what books we’d like to read, and what framework works best for most of you.

    There’s been a lot of interest in discussing Murray Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money? as our first book, but that’s not set in stone. It’s one of my favorite short histories, and I consider it a great introduction to monetary theory, but Matt Gilliland warns us that crypto-currencies have cast some doubt on one or two of Rothbard’s assertions. Should make for interesting discussion.

    I hope you can make it. We’ll meet in Liberty.me Chat around 8 PM Eastern and probably move to Google Hangouts.

    (For our Asian bookworms, I know that this meeting is early in the morning for you, but we’re already discussing having another meeting at the opposite end of the day (my morning, your evening) so that we can all find fellow bookworms for a convenient ongoing reading group.)

    See you there!

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  • B.K. Marcus

    @mattgilliland @mikereid @josephdiedrich @corymassimino @isaacmorehouse @accapehart @jacobhuebert @sarahskwire @anarchocapitalist @albertlu @riggenbach @bretigneshaffer @cameronbelt @mkocses @ladylaissezfaire @gaplauche @mcelroy @johnhunt @thomasmichie @henrymoore @jacobbailey @berserkrl @connorboyack @stevenng @cagrimmett @ronwalter

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    Mike Reid

    I’ll be there with bells on.

    By the way, all you other reading-group guys named “Mike,” I call dibs on the name for this week. The rest of you can be “Steve,” or “John,” or “Mencius Moldbug.”

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    Tiffany Madison

    I’ll be there!

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    Michelle Kocses

    I’ll be there as well. 🙂

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    Meg G.

    I added this as an Event. RSVP! http://liberty.me/event/liberty-me-reading-group/2014-05-21/

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      B.K. Marcus

      Oh, thank you so much, Meg! Talk about using the tools of Liberty.me …

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    B.K. Marcus

    The book group hung out last Wednesday night and officially began our conversation about Murray Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money?
    We talked about commodity money, the regression theorem, and what Bitcoin and the new issue of cryptocurrency have to do with this much older history and theory of money and its degredation.
    Of particular interest, from my perspective, was a question by @accapehart on whether Bitcoin would have been created in a free market — or was it necessarily a response to fiat money? (I have a particular interest in the concept of “post-fiat” money, which I write about here.)
    I’m sure there’s much more to say on those topics, but there’s even more to talk about in the not-yet-covered portions of the book, so tomorrow night we’ll close our WHGDtOM conversation with a greater focus on the remaining text. (And next week, we’ll discuss “Civil Disobedience,” which you can read in this week’s Liberty.me release of Here There Is No State, by Henry David Thoreau.)
    Here are the issues that pique my interest from What Has Government Done to Our Money? Please let us know if you have any topics in mind that I fail to mention:

    • Fractional-reserve banking
    • Rothbard’s theoretical opposition to “free banking” (Is he right that all forms of fractional reserve would be illegal in a free society?)
    • Legal-tender laws
    • War & Fiat (chapter 4: “The Monetary Breakdown of the West”)

    And here’s one from earlier in the book, but it’s a question I forgot to bring up last week:

    • Is the regression theorem apodictic, or is it conjectural history? Is this really how money came about? I believe @thomasmichie says otherwise.

    I look forward to seeing my fellow Liberty.me bookworms Wednesday at 8 PM ET. If you haven’t joined us yet and would like to, we meet in the “Anything Goes” chat room a little before 8 and then migrate over to a Google Hangout (but that method could change: we’re still figuring things out).
    Hope to see you there.

    @tiffanymadison @mattgilliland @mikereid @josephdiedrich @corymassimino @accapehart @anarchocapitalist @albertlu @riggenbach @bretigneshaffer @cameronbelt @mkocses @ladylaissezfaire @gaplauche @mcelroy @johnhunt @henrymoore @berserkrl @bernmccarty @skylerjcollins @dickclark

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    Mike Reid

    I have always been unsatisfied by the regression theorem of money’s origins. For instance, archaeologically speaking, as far as I know, there are places (like Mesopotamia) where money arose out of symbolic tokens representing objects, not out of commodities that had value in and of themselves.

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    B.K. Marcus

    By the way, here’s a famous paper on the development of commodity money, at least in a very specific context:

    The Economic Organization of a POW Camp
    by R.A. Radford
    From Economica, November 1945

    Can anyone point us to the counterarguments?

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    B.K. Marcus

    James Newcomb has started Book of the Week, Asia Time Zone group.

    I believe they’ll be meeting 12 hours off of the 8 PM ET group. (Is that right, James?)

    Who all are our Asian bookworms? (Or our US east-coast early birds?)

    I don’t know how often I’ll manage to make it, but I’ll definitely be there some of the time.

    BK

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    Cameron M. Belt

    Hey guys, here is the link for the hangout every week.  http://appear.in/libertybookworms

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    B.K. Marcus

    For our last bookworm hangout, we finished up our discussion of What Has Government Done to Our Money?

    It was very handy to have a veteran of the banking system present to give us the insider’s perspective on Rothbard’s description and history of fractional-reserve banking.

    One thing this particular book demonstrates is that a very short, easy-to-read book can pack a ton of information to talk about. We spent 2 meetings on this one, and even part of an earlier meeting talking about it. I suspect a lot of this conversation will come up again when we turn to other great works on the history and theory of money, such as Fiat Money Inflation in France by Andrew Dickson White and Denationalization of Money by F.A. Hayek.

    This week (Wednesday, 8 PM ET) we will discuss “Civil Disobedience” (included in Here There Is No State with an introduction by Wendy @mcelroy

    “Civil Disobedience” is one of my favorite essays and was formative to my intellectual development, but it’s strange to revisit years later when I am now far more radical in my thinking than Thoreau is in this essay. I expect on Wednesday to have as much to say about where I think Thoreau goes wrong as I will on why we should embrace him as a critical figure in our tradition.

    Hope to see you there. We have a convenient URL for the Google Hangout we’ll continue to use for a while: http://appear.in/libertybookworms

    PS For our liberty bookworms on the other side of the earth, please take note: James Newcomb has started Book of the Week, Asia Time Zone group.

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    John Jones

    Found this well done audio/video version of Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” for anyone who can use it…

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    B.K. Marcus

    John, that’s so cool! I’ve added it to the Related Content links on the book page. We should also share this with the Here There Is No State discussion. I’ll do so now …

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    John Jones

    I was glad to find it.

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    B.K. Marcus

    My apologies for the broken Google Hangout link.

    We’re using this one instead right now:

    http://appear.in/libertybookworms

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    John Jones

    While we are on the audio kick…

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    B.K. Marcus

    Nothing written in stone, but I think what we learned tonight is that it’s a lot more fun when we just talk about whatever books we want to talk about. We went from Thoreau to Hayek to Menger, back to Hayek, to Mises, somehow on to Kurt Vonnegut and Barbara Tuchman …

    Who am I forgetting?

    Anyway, it was very fun just to share our enthusiasms and let the conversation take its own course. So I propose more of that!

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    foobar

    Three minutes of encouragement: A libertarian bookshop in action:

     

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    B.K. Marcus

    “Did Barnes & Noble put me out of business? No, real estate [zoning] put me out of business!”

    Really wonderful video, Valentin. Thank you for sharing it.

    Hope to see you at the next hangout.

    bookworms.liberty.me

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    foobar

    Thanks BK. I’m always on the lookout for your things. Val

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