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Robert Higgs Archive

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.

Full Biography and Recent Publications

Ideology, Identity Politics, and Politico-Cultural Conflict



The past year’s political events, especially the campaign for the presidency as it converged on a contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have illuminated the way in which ideology, with the identity politics that springs from it, drives a dialectical process: political domination creates resentment, which feeds reaction and, on occasion, revolution against...
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On Virtue Signaling



Accusations of virtue signaling have become all the rage in certain quarters in recent years, especially on social media. And one can easily see why: the accusation is a cheap, easy, universally applicable way of disparaging someone’s expressed opinion or belief, essentially a dismissal of that opinion or belief as mere posturing in quest...
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Apocalypse—Probably Not Now



People my age have a wider perspective than most when we think about politics and government. When I hear young friends talking as if Donald Trump’s election portends the end of civilization and every good thing it has fostered, I recall vividly how it felt to live in the USA from 1963 to 1974,...
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Is a Trump Revolution in the Offing?



I have now demonstrated to my complete satisfaction that as a political prognosticator I am a total bust. Not that I put much effort into trying, to be sure, but I certainly developed firm ideas as the politicking proceeded over the past year or more. When Donald Trump first appeared on the horizon as...
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Political and Governmental Corruption Is a Feature, Not a Bug



People do not oppose corruption in politics and government. They oppose only the corruption that does not steer loot and social domination to them. After all, the entire process of so-called democratic government is nothing but corruption writ large and backed by the threat of violent force. Political partisans in particular are utterly unprincipled...
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The Never-Ending Contest in Politico-Economic Life



A contest is under way in the world between the forces of creation, improvement, and progress and the forces of destruction, spoliation, and retrogression. This contest has been going on for thousands of years, and except during brief interludes the negative forces always kept the positive forces firmly in check. Roughly 200 to 300...
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Whether You Know It or Not, You Are a Tax Slave



In the antebellum South, it was not uncommon for slaves to rent themselves from their masters. As a young man, Frederick Douglass did so, for example. His owner gave him leave to go out on his own, to find employment where he could, and to pocket the pay he received for such work, except...
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Bureaucratic Insolence at the Border: Five Haiku



Syrian Christians Must not enter US church Might be terrorists – Computer whizzes From India and China H-1B required – Parents in Thailand Sorry Charlie, no quota State before mother – Good friends in Iran Stay away you mad bombers US picks my friends – Who chooses for me? Bureaucrats in Washington Arrogant “experts”

Obstructions of Trade and Migration: Who Is Hurt?



The natural answer, the one most people would give, is that trade restrictions hurt foreigners who want to sell their goods and services to Americans. After all, politicians, including the two major-party candidates now seeking election to the presidency, tell us every day that they will demand various sorts of concessions from or impose...
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A Sandy Beach and Constitutional Political Economy



I normally walk my dogs twice each day along the beach, which gives me an opportunity to ponder, among other things, issues in constitutional political economy. My late friend James Buchanan, one of the deepest thinkers in political economy during the past century, led the development of this field of study in his time....
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