This article opens an era: from now on, I will publish on Thursdays instead of Tuesdays. It is a detail, but it is important, because behind each small gesture a deposit is hidden, sometimes gold and sometimes not. As I tried to explain in my last book You voted gestures, you have gestures (Deusto, 2021), behind political gestures, there is often a malevolent intention to dismantle the rule of law, the basis of liberal democracy. The alternative to this democracy is tyrannical democracy and misery economic. That is why it is so important to vote for facts and not gestures. Or don’t vote.
In these first days of summer, which has just broken into Spain, lowering temperatures after an unbearable heat wave, economic news is even more unbreathable than the air of many Spanish cities last week.
Fortunately, sometimes life gives us a small reward. For example, conversations with Robert Salinasdirector of the Center for Latin America of the Atlas Network, yesterday, in the rearguard of Eurico Campanoand this morning, having breakfast.
Among other things, we have talked about orthodoxy, universities, the future of liberal thought and the drift of many Latin American countries towards that tyrannical democracy that has eliminated, step by step, the rule of law and is implanting disastrous economic misery in countries What Chile or Colombia.
What explains that, with several Nobel Prizes to his credit, recognized economic writers, politicians and philosophers, liberal thought provokes so much rejection in current universities?
Roberto Salinas has told me about John Thomas, former professor of political thought at the universities of Stanford, first, and Brown, later. I met him in one of my summers in Chile, thanks to our mutual friend axel kaiser and to the hospitality of Alexander Boxes. He is a lovely guy. But he is also a great teacher.
That is why I was so surprised by the news that he had left his position at Brown University, where he had been for 27 years, where he enjoyed a comfortable position and unquestionable professional consideration. The university in which he created the Political Theory Project.
What could have taken him out of his perfect environment? The answer is clear: commitment. John Tomasi is the current president of the Heterodox Academy.
The Heterodox Academy was founded in 2015 by the American psychologist Jonathan Haydtseriously worried about the direction of the universities of his country.
The title of your book written with Greg Lukianoffwhich in Spanish has been called The Transformation of the Modern Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Dooming a Generation to Fail (Deusto, 2019) says it all.
The authors note that at many universities in the United States and abroad, the debate is becoming more and more impossible and, not just the teachers, but the students themselves, have imposed a castrating orthodoxy, which eliminates curiosity, the search for solutions, the imagination, and bridles thought with all kinds of subjections, sometimes even apparently scientific and others ideological. I feel more and more like this in Spanish universities, and I’m not talking about my “house”, I’m talking about what we call “the academy”, the experts, orthodoxy.
When he became president of the Heterodox Academy, John Tomasi explained that his mission was “to improve the quality of research and education in universities by encouraging open inquiry, diversity of viewpoints, and constructive disagreement.”
And many of you, especially those who have sons and daughters studying at the university, will think: “And isn’t that what is already done in our universities?”. Nope.
The sad reality is that the content of the programs is much more closed than it seems, the intellectual hierarchy is often suffocating and many students with “”desire for more” look on Google, Youtube and by any other means, more convincing, more attractive, less tuned, less “perfect” ideas. Because, I speak for economics, what we teach are more or less adjusted mechanisms and necessary measures to solve imbalances. Spot.
The intellectual hierarchy is often suffocating and many students with a ‘want for more’ search on Google
But is the economy something else? Indeed, much more. It studies human action in the economic environment: in the market and in other related institutions, banks, companies, etc. And that implies assume the dynamism, the unpredictability of human actions and the hyper-complexity of the economy and our society. That which makes her so wonderful, fragile, anti-fragile in the Taleb sense, resilient, all at once.
When it comes to solving complex problems, there is no room for censorship, the limitation of critical thinking, the castrating, miserable and isolationist attitude towards those who defend solutions that annoy you at the beach bar, or the applause of the authorities. That typical attitude of those who want to perpetuate a status quo that it has not gotten us out of any crisis and that it has limited itself to predicting a posteriori.
I do not want to miss this opportunity to fervently recommend the two books by John Tomasi. The first is Free Market Fairnesspublished in 2012, roughly translated as “free market equity.”
In a second, Liberalism Beyond Justice: Citizens, Society and the Boundaries of Political Theory (2021), a liberal political theory is proposed beyond justice.
For Thomas, political liberalism involves more than just the explanation of state coercion justified or not and the description of the norms of democratic deliberation.
Political liberalism for Tomasi also implies a distinctive account of nonpublic social life, in which successful human lives must be constructed through the interface of personal and public values. What Javier Goma I would call “exemplarity”.
To live up to their own deepest commitments to tolerance and mutual respect, liberals must rethink what social justice, civics, and citizenship itself are. The goal is a well-functioning liberal society. Just in case, Tomasi’s ideas are applauded by great liberals around the world. I toast from here for heterodoxy and freedom.