Mark Mitchell, author of Plutocratic Socialism:  The Future of Private Property and the Fate of the Middle Class and President of Front Porch Republic, joins the podcast.  Mitchell and Murdock discuss the origins of FPR and the importance of widely-held productive private property in an era when the super rich and socialists have formed an odd partnership.       

Host:  John Murdock 

Guest: Mark Mitchell 

Highlights 

1:30 Mark Mitchell, happy at home chopping wood 

5:00 FPR, the early days 

9:00 How not to change the world  

12:00 The messy remainder of reality 

13:00 From Richard Weaver to “You’ll Own Nothing and You’ll be Happy” 

19:30 Gnostic temptations v. the Incarnation  

23:00 The odd couple:  plutocracy and socialism 

31:30 The not so odd couple:  productive property and democratic citizenship 

36:00 The myth of maximal emancipation 

39:00 Tocqueville’s aristocratic fears 

45:00 Prospects for property in a time of chronic crisis 

52:45 Friendly pushback on COVID and climate (with a cameo by Roger Scruton) 

60:00 If they are for it, we’re against it 

64:00 Loving our neighbor to counter a nationalized focus 

Resources 

Buy the book 

Mitchell’s bio at FPR 

An excerpt from Plutocratic Socialism 

Wendell Kimbrough helps us find our way home 

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture

4 COMMENTS

  1. Great interview. My first whiff of “own nothing” was when I tried to update Microsoft Office for Mac a couple years ago and discovered it was no longer for sale — you have to pay an annual fee.

    The metaphysical aspect of the chat was insightful. I was already familiar with the transhumanist pipe dream, but the notion that “liberation” is an endless progress during the past few centuries was thought-provoking. George Gilder has called this out as eschatological: the notion that final knowledge has been achieved and history will accordingly unfold inevitably as the pinnacle of wisdom is applied in the only possible way.

    Such hubris seems rooted in the conceit that conscious change based on concrete (especially digital) information is the way forward. Intransigent ideology, big talk about “resilience” but no willingness to compromise or even adapt. The we-now surely know what we-future will require.

    Tocqueville’s warning that noblesse oblige would be replaced by industrial aristocracy was prescient. The kind of arrogance that wealth is a moral status harks back to Calvinism. One could also see it as social Darwinism that predated Darwin himself.

    Regarding Scruton’s suggestion, it’s worth remembering that focused action already has successful precedents: removing lead from gasoline, removing CFCs from devices that provide cooling, etc.

    Thanks again for an informative look at key issues.

  2. PS: John may have forgotten how a ratchet works. There’s some play or flexible motion until you click another notch, then you can never go back past that point.

    While masks may have disappeared in most countries, the Covid-inspired vaccine passports and other doctrinaire policies are probably here to stay. Those notches are unlikely be reverted/recovered, as far as I can see.

    If we are lucky, it will be another decade before “emergency” is invoked to force mass injection of another vaccine that “will prevent all variants” (remember the initial PR for mRNA?). If we are unlucky, every flu season will see the same drama repeated. Traditionally, nearly half of all flu viruses are coronaviruses.

  3. I am an usually admiring listener from the left-localist side of the political spectrum but would like to register my continued disappointment about how COVID has been portrayed across all segments of the right – including, unfortunately, in this episode with Mark Mitchell.

    To be sure, the ‘lockdown’ period of 2020-21 was grossly and monstrously unjust in regards to the exercise of authoritarian state power. Not so much in the United States by comparison to other nations across the globe (not just China but also India, Australia, etc.). Stay-at-home orders (often enforced by police and military), mandating ineffective masks, closed borders, and various forms of vaccine passports, must be condemned and never repeated. So are the attitudes of those who resorted to fear and prejudice of others.

    At the same time, COVID has been in many ways and still can be the greatest friend to localism and community across both left and right. People voluntarily chose to stop excessive traveling, sought greater work-life balance, went outdoors rather than staying cooped up in unhealthy buildings for no reason other than habit and profit, tended to their homes and gardens, and cared for their families and neighbors. This should be encouraged and built upon, not disparaged and forgotten.

    No, masks should not be mandated. But properly fitted N95s should be worn for the protection of one’s own health and that of others in most shared indoor spaces (planes too). Testing before gathering (especially with the elderly and frail), moving routine meetings online, staying home when sick, and making our homes and offices safer through improved ventilation are some of the basic things we can do as free individuals associating with one another.

    COVID is not the apocalypse, nor is it a “flu” as the commenter above suggests. It is a deadly new disease (of still unknown origin) that will be with us for decades and extract a heavy toll in terms of both mortality and morbidity (causing long-term complications, not limited to excess strokes, heart attacks, immune system disregulation, and cognitive decline). Vaccination alone will not stop it, nor is our “natural” immune system capable of handling it. As such, we must indeed live with it, not foolishly die by it.

    And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. (Matthew 10:8)

  4. Mir seems to have unquestioning faith in N95 masks. Let’s assume that he/she is not referring to supposedly equivalent KN95 masks, a large fraction of which have been exposed as fakes (depends on the manufacturer).

    https://www.fastcompany.com/90479846/the-untold-origin-story-of-the-n95-mask
    is a great article on the history of N95 including a lay description of how it works.

    The article warns:
    “…breathing becomes more difficult over time as those gaping holes between the fibers get clogged up with particles, which is why an N95 respirator can’t be worn for more than about eight hours at a time in a very dusty environment. It doesn’t stop filtering; it just prevents you from breathing comfortably.”

    https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2022/reusing-n95-masks.html
    warns that true N95 are NOT washable. They utilize an electrostatic layer that is an additional method of trapping particles which are smaller than the porous holes in the mask’s material. Washing ruins the electrostatic layer.

    An emergency pushes us to think critically and scrutinize aspects of the problem along with its prevention/cure. Merely echoing the mantra “follow the science” might simply mean you are following authorities who have vested interests, rather than actually looking at scientific facts such as the construction of a mask, its effectiveness, and its limitations.

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