Daily Archives: November 21, 2023

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Farewell, Aristos

Having served on the Board of Trustees of the Aristos Foundation for many years, I would like to report that Aristos: An Online Review of the Arts has finished its long publication history. Founded by Louis Torres in 1982 as a print publication, it ran from 1982 to 1997. Michelle Marder Kamhi became a coeditor in 1992, and Aristos began its online presence in 2003, running through 2021.

By year’s end, the Foundation will dissolve; no further issues of the journal will be forthcoming. A Farewell Statement appears on the journal’s home page. That statement reminds us of the illustrious history of Aristos, which was praised by the eminent cultural historian Jacques Barzun (1907–2012), among others. It should be remembered that the coeditors were also coauthors of the much-discussed book, What Art is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand (Open Court, 2000), which inspired a provocative Aesthetics Symposium published by The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in 2001.

I am delighted that the journal’s contents have been preserved through Archive-It. It is a wonderful legacy that readers will be able to access in perpetuity.

I wish my dear friends Lou and Michelle well as they move forward. Readers can continue to follow their work at their respective websites: https://aristos-redux.com/ and https://www.mmkamhi.com/ .

The Aristos Farewell statement can be found here: https://aristos.org/

Boettke on Lavoie

The fall 2023 issue of The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy (vol. 28, no. 2), focuses attention on “Underappreciated Economists”. One essay that resonated with me is written by my friend and colleague, Peter Boettke: “Don Lavoie: The Failures of Socialist Central Planning.” Boettke is in a unique position to have authored this essay. He, along with the late Steve Horwitz, Dave Prychitko, Emily Chamlee-Wright, and Virgil Storr, were among Don’s foremost students. And in their own works, one can see how each has carried forth elements of Don’s legacy. Boettke’s essay is, in many respects, a celebration of Lavoie’s inspiring gifts as a teacher and mentor.

The essay reviews Lavoie’s two most cited works, Rivalry and Central Planning: The Socialist Calculation Debate Reconsidered and National Economic Planning: What is Left? —both of which shed much light on the crucially important “knowledge problem” and the necessity of understanding economic and social processes dynamically, across time. But Boettke rightfully laments the fact that Don Lavoie’s untimely death at the age of 50, from pancreatic cancer, left many works unfinished. Still, this appreciation of Lavoie’s contributions to comparative economic systems, philosophy of science, and computer science, including key principles applicable to emergent AI, is a worthy read.

In contrast to prominent models of politico-economic “militarization”, Lavoie provided us with an “interpretive turn,” which integrated economic insights from Austrian theory, epistemic insights from the works of Michael Polanyi on tacit knowledge, and hermeneutical methodological precepts. Boettke argues that Lavoie viewed the ideology of power and privilege as the greatest threats to free civilization, while offering a vision for a “gentle and humane” society “grounded in our mutual respect and desire to learn from one another.”

Though much of Lavoie’s work is not readily available and only a few representative presentations exist on YouTube, including three lectures that I posted back in February 2023, Boettke touches upon Lavoie’s planned projects, including those on methodology and a book entitled “Understanding Political Economy”. Lavoie hoped to realize the key aims of critical theory through an Austrian-inspired approach. In this, as in many other areas of study, Lavoie was a theorist ahead of his time.

Don was one of my dearest friends and this is a wonderful article in tribute to the projects—and promise—of his work.