GIOVANNI BIRINDELLI, 26.11.2019
(Italian version here)
While reading Edward Snowden’s Permanent Record, I was astonished by the qualities of the author. Notwithstanding his understatement, these qualities clearly emerged from the details of his story: his courage, above all. His intelligence. His computing abilities, which to me seem almost supernatural. His rectitude. His profound kindness that is revealed in every line of his book. His great humaneness.
While each one of these qualities in itself would have already been extraordinary because of its intensity, the contemporary presence of all of them in the same person at the same time made me rethink the limits of what I once considered to be humanly possible.
In this article I will not discuss these qualities. I think that the best way to appreciate them is to buy the book and read it.
I’m so much humbled by them and by Snowden’s purely heroic gesture that I’m instinctively inclined to censor my own criticism of some aspects of his thought that I believe are logically inconsistent. In fact, in relation to the choices, the capabilities, the actions and the qualities of a hero of this magnitude, these inconsistencies have such little importance that they appear to be almost negligible. However, they are about the very ideas on which his gesture was based: namely, the very concept of privacy and the difference between what is legal and what is right. Therefore, perhaps a discussion of these inconsistencies may be not entirely useless. In addition, I do not believe that self-censorship would be the best way to homage the person who, at the beginning all alone, has defied the most powerful nation in the world (and its allies) to denounce its mass surveillance programs and start a debate on these issues.
Criticizing from the comfort of one’s desk, on a theoretical level, the ideas of someone who risked his own life to defend them (and who’s living in exile for having defended them), is not usually an aesthetically beautiful thing to do, I believe. However, in this particular case, I consider this criticism a tribute to the man who has risked his own life to start a much-needed debate on privacy and on the difference between what is legal and what is right. This criticism is for me a way to acknowledge the debt that I, together with my family, have with Edward Snowden and that I know I will hardly ever manage to pay back.
GIOVANNI BIRINDELLI, 15.10.2019 (updated 18.10.2019)
Giovanni I have a question for you, as you’ve studied politics much more than me. I wonder why most intellectuals worldwide (in any case an overwhelming majority of them) lean towards the left, or identify themselves with the political left. I know that, as a libertarian, you oppose both right and left, since you oppose the state itself, but I’m asking about the reason(s) for intellectuals’ predilection for the left (J.)
I have never studied politics but the science of liberty and economic science. Also, it is not entirely correct to say that I oppose both right and left. Those of the right oppose those of the left, and vice-versa. Having a scientific approach, I don’t “oppose” them. At least not in the way they oppose each other. I observe that they are both different expressions of the same religious, anti-scientific and anti-social phenomenon (which has different names: collectivism, positivism, statism, totalitarianism, etc.). A phenomenon which is expression of mental illness (namely, the Stockholm syndrome among others) and which, especially when it is imposed on a systemic scale, destroys liberty and the process that, because it is the only one that can make use of peripheral knowledge which is available only to the acting individuals and cannot be available to any “directing mind”, is the only one capable of creating sustainable prosperity: the free market process. Continue reading
Slides of the lectures on the subject of protectionism given at the Course in Economic Geography (Prof. A. Vitale) LLM in Sustainable Development, Faculty of Law, University of Milan.
To download the .pdf file click on image
Main changes from previous version (2018) include:
- added section on the structure of thought (section: Introduction)
- added section with data on new protectionist measures by US (global), between US and China, and between the US and the EU (section: 4.b)
- added section on ‘free trade’ areas (section 4.h)
- general revision and update
Giovanni Birindelli (guest lecturer)
Protectionism: Economics, Philosophy and (Individual) Way Out of It
Università degli Studi di Milano
Dipartimento di studi internazionali, giuridici e storico-politici
Corso di Economic Geography (Prof. Alessandro Vitale)
12/15 maggio 2017
GIOVANNI BIRINDELLI, 1.10.2014
(Original publication: Movimento Libertario)
The fact that socialism, in every single one of its expressions (“right”, “left”, “no-global”, incoherently pro-market, etc.), is linked to an objective and specific deficiency of intellectual ability, is well known. Continue reading
GIOVANNI BIRINDELLI, 7.6.2013
(Original publication: Ludwig von Mises Italia)
1. The free market and interventionism are processes, not states
Fighting for the free market without simultaneously fighting for the philosophical idea of law on which the free market is based, and therefore against the philosophical idea of the law that renders interventionism possible, is a largely useless effort. Continue reading
GIOVANNI BIRINDELLI, 14.5.2013
(Original Italian publication, 31.10.2012: L’Indipendenza, Movimento Libertario – Catallaxy Institute)
The concept of the gentleman, a term originally used exclusively in reference to men but which describes qualities any human being may possess, man or woman, was admirably described by Samuel Smiles in 1859: “The true gentleman has a keen sense of honour, scrupulously avoiding mean actions. His standard of probity in word and action is high. He does not shuffle or prevaricate, dodge or skulk; but is honest, upright and straightforward. His law is rectitude – action in right lines. When he says YES, it is a law … Above all, the gentleman is truthful“
Interview by GIOVANNI BIRINDELLI, 4 July 2012
(Original publication: Movimento Libertario)
Full video interview in English
GIOVANNI BIRINDELLI, 25 April 2011
(Original publication: Catallaxy Institute)
Frédéric Bastiat who, in addition to being an economist and a philosopher, was in my opinion also one of the greatest poets of liberty, wrote this: «Mr. de Lamartine once wrote to me thusly: “Your doctrine is only the half of my program. You have stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity.” I answered him: “The second half of your program will destroy the first”. In fact, it is impossible for me to separate the word fraternity from the word voluntary. I cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced without liberty being legally destroyed, and thus justice being legally trampled underfoot» [Bastiat, F., 2007,The Bastiat Collection (Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Auburn), Vol. 1, p. 62].
In these very few lines Bastiat makes the following three points Continue reading