Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute says who influenced him, including
How Richard Dawkins Got Pwned and An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives — Mencius Moldbug (Both very long.) I am not a neo-reactionary, but sometimes I think Mencius Moldbug is the greatest living political thinker. His claim that progressivism is a non-theistic sect of Protestantism, with all of Protestantism’s evangelism and intolerance of heresy, is in particular very persuasive to me. I also think ‘neocameralism’ is quite a cool model for a state and I’d like to see it tried out somewhere.
Pointer from Tyler Cowen.
Most of Bowman’s influences come from the right, but a few come from the left. I notice that all of those on the left have prestigious academic positions. Many on the right do not. I do not think that is purely coincidental. I believe that if you limit your reading to credentialed academics, you will miss many important thinkers on the right, but you won’t miss out on much from the left.
I always like to play this sort of game myself. In chronological order, some of my influences:
1. My father, Merle Kling, with his three iron laws of social science: sometimes it’s this way and sometimes it’s that way; the data are insufficient; and the methodology is flawed.
2. Murray Edelman, The Symbolic Uses of Politics. He makes a distinction between what I would call inside politics and outside politics. On the inside, it’s rent-seeking. On the outside, it’s theater.
3. David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest. Before I read it, my explanation for the Vietnam War would have been a Lenin-Chomsky story of capitalist corporations seeking foreign markets. Halberstam introduced me to the process of an elite closing ranks against outsiders and in the process closing ranks against reality.
4. George Gilder, Microcosm. It has been a long time since I read it, and perhaps it does not wear well, but it convinced me that in the computer age one does not need large chunks of physical capital to have a major business.
5. Amar Bhide, The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses. Again, many of his cases may be out of date, but his description of the business ecosystem struck me as very accurate.
6. Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age. The sci-fi novel that brought us Vickies and Thetes, thus anticipating recent work by Charles Murray and Robert Putnam almost two decades earlier.
7. David Brin, The Transparent Society. Another sci-fi author, but this was nonfiction and prescient in ways both large and small.
8. Robin Hanson, ___ is not about ____.
9. James Manzi, Uncontrolled. The book is about causal density, which I think of as the phenomenon that accounts for Merle Kling’s three iron laws.
10. Martin Gurri, The Revolt of the Public. Murray Edelman’s system becomes unstable when new media enable the audience to climb on stage.