Con el tiempo que pasa


Cuando estaba en la universidad decidí que no me iba a involucrar en política. En parte porque no me gustaba la política que se hacía por esos rumbos, a pequeña escala en la universidad y a gran escala en mi país, en el mundo; tampoco conocía (no quería conocer) alternativas. Yo me dedicaba a asuntos culturales, quería cambiar al mundo por medio de la poesía.  Prefería no opinar sobre las ideas políticas de Jorge Luis Borges o Ezra Pound y prefería hablar de las de García Márquez. Con el paso del tiempo no sólo he comprendido que si bien la ideología de un autor se ve reflejada en su obra, ésta no la hace mejor o peor. También comprendí que es importante tener una opinión, ideas claras, incluídas las políticas. Porque si uno sólo se deja llevar por la marea puede terminar en un lugar donde no quiere estar, puede terminar viviendo en su peor pesadilla y no ser consciente de qué está mal.

Hace un tiempo vi este video: Cuba: The times are changing – People & Power – Al Jazeera English. El documental contiene opiniones de cubanos a los que se les ha permitido tener un negocio propio, como un experimento capitalista. Una de las cosas que más me impresionó es que ellos están muy contentos con la oportunidad de tener algo propio, de trabajar para sí mismos pero cuando el entrevistador les pregunta sobre las medidas que han permitido el fenómeno, ellos dicen que eso ya es política y prefieren no hablar de ello. Ellos no quieren tener una opinión política. Esta postura resulta natural si consideramos los años de censura y el control, comunes en cualquier dictadura. Para mí, ello también es un signo de advertencia, un recordatorio que necesitamos para defender nuestras ideas, para no abandonarnos en la comodidad de una opinión “segura” y que va con la corriente. El capitalismo sigue siendo un ideal desconocido, muchos lo rechazan sin tener idea de cuáles son los valores fundamentales sobre los que se sustenta. Creo que ahora no sólo me llegó el tiempo de expresar mis ideas, también de cuestionarlas, discutirlas, defenderlas.

16 de noviembre de 2011, American Censorship Day


Censura es un término que le pertenece a la acción gubernamental, solo los gobiernos pueden quitar libros del mercado, alterar su contenido o suprimir las opiniones de autores. El gobierno es quien puede hacer uso de la fuerza en contra de los individuos para callarlos. Según J.M. Coetzee en su libro Contra la censura, ensayos sobre la pasión por silenciar, “el censor actúa, o cree que actúa, en interés de la comunidad. En la práctica, es frecuente que exprese la indignación de la comunidad o que imagine dicha indignación y la exprese; en ocasiones imagina tanto la comunidad como la indignación de esta.” Así que decide actuar por el bien común, para mantener el orden, la moral y las buenas costumbres. Las personas tienen el derecho a expresar libremente sus ideas, para estar en contra de las determinaciones gubernamentales y opinar al respecto. Todo acto de censura atenta contra ese derecho.

El fenómeno de la censura se incrementa conforme se incrementan los medios que tienen los autores para difundir sus ideas. Con la creación de la imprenta, los periódicos fueron el medio predilecto para criticar a los gobiernos y ellos tomaban medidas para prohibir la impresión de periódicos. En esta era de comunicaciones, tenemos un sin fin de medios para expresar nuestra opinión y hay quienes quieren restringir el acceso que tenemos a ellos. Hoy es el “American Censorship Day” porque hoy el congreso de los Estados Unidos votará para aprobar o no la implementación de un sistema de censura que le permitirá al gobierno bloquear a los sitios web y multar a los autores que consideren que atentan contra las regulacones de derechos de autor.

Este video explica el proyecto de dicho sistema

El punto que me llama poderosamente la atención es el hecho de que justifiquen una acción de censura con el pretexto de la defensa de los derechos de autor. Todos sabemos que la piratería es un delito y hay acciones que se pueden tomar para combatirlo; sin embargo, renunciar a nuestra libertad de grabarnos cantando una canción pop y subir dicho video a la red es un asunto completamente distinto. Esta es un aley para Estados Unidos, pero qué nos asegura que otros gobiernos no seguirán su ejemplo y querrán intervenir en nuestra vida virtual, en nuestras opiniones.

Book: “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy” by Joseph Schumpeter


Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

If you like big ideas, Joseph Schumpeter’s great work is a book you will devour. It is packed with scintillating insight on all the topics that really matter: capitalism and its future, the absurdities of socialism, the dangers of democratic rule, the future of freedom, and the social dynamics that protect and undermine freedom.

Schumpeter himself cannot be called a member of the Austrian School but he emerges from within its culture and among its leading thinkers. Schumpeter went his own way with an eclectic and unsystematic theory of economics. But he is second to none in the integration of social, political, and economic thought. He understood Marxism and capitalist theory as well as any of his contemporaries, and managed to keep enough distance from the affair of the day to observe the big trends and the dynamics pushing them.

It was written in 1942 and its importance has grown year by year to the point that no student of the liberal society can afford not to read and master this treatise. It is most famous for its prediction that capitalism is unsustainable not because it is a flawed system but rather because voters and bureaucrats in an otherwise free society will fail to protect capitalism from its enemies.

He is particularly ruthless in observing how people take the triumphs of capitalism for granted, and how even those who benefit most from its productivity tend to be the same people who want the capitalist process shut down in their own self-interest.

Not everything he says in here is prophetic but he makes the reader think hard about the big issues in society. His most lasting contribution is his insight that capitalism is a process of creative destruction, constantly bringing us new innovations and wiping out the old ways. Thus does the free society insist on relentless adaption to progress – and he has grave doubts that people are culturally prepared for this process. Insofar as the democratic process allows them to do so, the public will turn on freedom, he predicts, and smash the source of its own well being.

Schumpeter was also a pioneer in doing what Rothbard later perfected: drawing from both left and right to forge a new path forward. (Rothbard, in particular, was a huge fan of this work.)

Rather than being a gloomy book, as one might think, the prose is bursting with energy, creativity, and insight – and has a lasting power to provoke deep thought on the social, cultural, and intellectual foundations of the economic order.

Schumpeter was never better than in his crafting of this masterpiece, and no one serious about social and economic thought can fail to benefit from his provocations.

Some thoughts from Schumpeter herein:

  • Capitalism stands its trial before judges who have the sentence of death in their pockets. They are going to pass it, whatever the defense they may hear; the only success a victorious defense can possibly produce is a change in the indictment.
  • The friction of antagonism between the private and the public sphere was intensified from the first by the fact that…the state has been living on a revenue which was being produced in the private sphere for private purposes and had to be deflected from these purposes by political force.
  • The theory which construes taxes on the analogy of club dues or of the purchase of the services of, say, a doctor only proves how far removed this part of the social sciences is from scientific habits of mind.

Reason.tv: Universidad Francisco Marroquin (aka University of Free Marketeers)


I am a proud member of the faculty and an alumni of Universidad Francisco Marroquin and I was very happy to watch the latest video of Reason.tv.  The video was filmed a couple weeks ago at UFM campus by the team of Paul Feine & Alex Manning who did a wonderful job.

Video: Reason.tv – Universidad Francisco Marroquín

As their website reads,

Guatemala’s Universidad Francisco Marroquín, which economist Walter Williams described as an island of economic sanity in a sea of socialism, is a truly unique place.

Founded by “Muso” Manuel Ayau in 1971, the mission of Universidad Francisco Marroquín is to teach and disseminate the ethical, legal and economic principles of a society of free and responsible persons. In other words, the people at UFM want the people of Guatemala to be free. This is, of course, no small task in a country that has been plagued by political corruption and socialist policies for so long.

However, as UFM graduate Alfredo Guzmán told us, “sometimes thoughts become things.” And Guzmán knows what he’s talking about. In the late 90s, Guzmán and other UFM graduates successfully privatized Guatemala’s state-run telecommunications monopoly and opened up the market to competition. How did that free market experiment work out? In 1995, there were only 300,000 phones in Guatemala; today, 13 million Guatemaltecos own more than 18 million phones.

Humour: Monty Python’s soccer match of Philosophers


I am done reading a book by Levi Strauss titled “History of Political Philosophy” and the first thing that came to my mind was this video of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” with a World Cup of Philosophers playing soccer:

A Philosopher’s soccer match – Monty Python

Here’s a brief of what is Monty Python for those of you who are clueless about them:

The television series, broadcast by the BBC from 1969 to 1974, was conceived, written and performed by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Loosely structured as a sketch show but with an innovative stream-of-consciousness approach (aided by Terry Gilliam’s animations), it pushed the boundaries of what was then considered acceptable, both in terms of style and content.

The group’s influence on comedy has often been compared to The Beatles‘ influence on music.[1][2] A self-contained comedy team responsible for both writing and performing their work, they changed the way performers entertained audiences. The Pythons’ creative control allowed them to experiment with form and content, discarding the established rules of television comedy. Their influence on British comedy of all kinds has been apparent for many years, while in America it has coloured the work of many cult performers from the early editions of Saturday Night Live through to more recent absurdist trends in television comedy. ‘Pythonesque’ has entered the English lexicon as a result.(SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA)

Audiolibros y podcasts para lectores exigentes


Hace algunos días un lector del blog  escribió preguntando en qué lugares podía encontrar Audiobooks y acá les preparo un listado con 6 sitios que tienen distintos tipos de audiolibros en formato mp3.

Mi sitio favorito por el momento es Audible.com por la calidad de los libros y la excelente producción (Siempre tienen geniales promociones de prueba por un mes).  Este sitio tiene disponibles libros clásicos gratuitos. Sin duda, este servicio de audio libros ha evolucionado de manera impresionante desde que leí (escuché) mi primer audiobook hace más de un lustro.

Los primeros sitios recomendados tienen libros en idioma español (tienen muchas opciones gratuitas):

y estos tienen títulos en inglés:

Además, les recomiendo utilizar el servicio de Podcasts que tiene itunes.  Los podcasts que más escucho de literatura son los siguientes:

Algunos de los títulos que encontrarán en los sitios anteriores son:

  1. War Machine
  2. The Zombie Chronicles: Escape
  3. Space Casey
  4. The Chameleon Chronicles: Colors of Fate
  5. BloodCast, Season 1
  6. Black Star Passes
  7. Murder at Avedon Hill
  8. Crescent
  9. The Prophet of Panamindorah, Book II Wolflings and Wizards
  10. The House of Grey
  11. The Zombie Chronicles: Escape
  12. Iron Dragons: Book 1 – The Saramond Quests
  13. DarkAge
  14. Faithful Warrior
  15. Theft of the Master
  16. The Secret Society of Seven Sorcerers
  17. Spiral
  18. BloodCast, Season 2
  19. Mr. Dead Eyes
  20. Earthcore
  21. 7th Son: Book One – Descent
  22. Singularity
  23. Ancestor
  24. Heaven – Season One
  25. The Immortals
  26. 7th Son: Book Two – Deceit
  27. Brave Men Run
  28. Max Quick 1: The Pocket and the Pendant
  29. How to Succeed in Evil – Volume One
  30. Henry David ThoreauCivil Disobedience y Walden
  31. Plato’s Apology
  32. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  33. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  34. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  35. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  36. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
  37. Dreams from My Father…by Barack Obama
  38. Fortunata y Jacinta
  39. El Retrato de Dorian Gray
  40. Bastiat, Economic Sophisms (1845)
  41. Bastiat, The Law (1850)
  42. Burke, Vindication of Natural Society (1757)
  43. Erasmus, The Complaint of Peace (1521)
  44. Grampp, Economic Liberalism: The Beginnings (1965)
  45. Grampp, Economic Liberalism: The Classical View (1965)
  46. Grampp, The Manchester School of Economics (1960)
  47. Hamilton, Madison, Jay, The Federalist (1787)
  48. Hodgskin, An Essay on Naval Discipline (1813)
  49. Hodgskin, Natural and Artificial Right to Property (1832)
  50. Humboldt, Sphere and Duties of Government (1792)
  51. Jasay, The State (1998)
  52. Locke, Two Treatises of Government (1689)
  53. McIlwain, Constitutionalism: Ancient and Modern (1947)
  54. Mill, On Liberty (1859)
  55. Mill, The Subjection of Women (1869)
  56. Milton, Areopagitica (1664)
  57. Mises, Liberalism (1962)
  58. Mises, Nation, State, and Economy (1919)
  59. Molinari, The Society of Tomorrow (1899)
  60. Smith, The Rationale of Central Banking (1936)
  61. Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)
  62. Spencer, Social Statics (1851)
  63. Trenchard and Gordon, Cato’s Letters (1724)
  64. Voltaire, Candide (1759)
  65. Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

y cientos de clásicos, ensayos, obras de ficción y no-ficción!

On Tolerance, Freedom and Equality


I have always believed that we are not forced to tolerate others and their ideas.  To Tolerate; is to understand others actions and beliefs without letting them (and their ideas) interfere in the code of morality we stand by.

That being said, I truly believe in freedom, equality and the respect of other’s rights.  But that doesn’t mean I am forced to tolerate them and their ideas.  To tolerate, when not affected by political opinion, is to accept that others may think and live different than I.  It is to understand and recognize they & their ideas exist.

If you are interested in learning a somehow related point of view, I recommend you to take a couple minutes and listen to the podcast of Wendy Brown at Philosophy Bites.  Wendy Brown is a teacher of Philosophy at UC Berkeley and has some interesting ideas that are worth listening.