Welcome to the Brian Micklethwait Archive. We have started to add writings to this site. For progress on this see the news section.
The Failure of Politics and the Pull of Freedom: Reflections on the Work of the Reading Reform Foundation
The flow of information from the outside world to underlings of all kinds – employees, footsoldiers, children – can no longer be controlled by the bosses, the generals, or the teachers or the parents.
Freedom, Order and Architecture
The famous Manhattan skyline is a sky line because land values vary continuously rather than discontinuously, not because any one person ever drew that line.
The Morality of Consequentialism and the Consequences of Morality
...rich idlers may *not* be robbed by the otherwise respectable poor. Cross that line, and the next victims of robbery will be the poor themselves, respectable or disreputable. The property rights, not just of upstanding citizens with admirable jobs, fine reputations and unblemished credit ratings, but of *all*, must be respected.
Why the Government Should Stop Harassing the Tobacco Trade
The absolute best way to provide anything is for fat, rich, vulgar, Rolls-Royce flaunting (cigar smoking) capitalists all competing with each other like dancing dervishes to be in charge of the entire business, and for the government to get clean out of it.
Against Art Subsidies
If a Philistine is someone who despises a square of canvas painted to look like the bottom of a rubbish skip, then I glory in the title.
We are adding more pamphlets. The Failure of Politics and the Pull of Freedom: Reflections on the Work of the Reading Reform Foundation discusses the tactics of a campaign group attempting to return to teaching reading with synthetic phonics. Since they are not politicians, attempting to get politicians to compel teachers to teach reading in a particular way does not work. Attempting to persuade parents to choose to have their children taught in a particular way just might.
As with so many enthusiasts for a particular technique, the starting question was simply: “What should people be compelled/persuaded/allowed to do?”, with no huge distinction being made between compelling, persuading and allowing. If in practice they find themselves arguing that children should be compelled to do the right thing, that’s fine by them.
Now, however, the compulsion sector of the educational economy, the State education system, is letting the good ladies of the RRF down, as it lets most people down, and, almost despite themselves, the RRF are being drawn towards the voluntary sector, the sector where people get truly to choose what they’re going to do.
But what might children choose to do? Play with computers, of course. From the vantage point of 2002:
But now we live in an age of television screens and computers in every room, and even if your particular workplace or family doesn’t quite operate like this yet, it soon will and we all know it. In such a world, the flow of information from the outside world to underlings of all kinds – employees, footsoldiers, children – can no longer be controlled by the bosses, the generals, or the teachers or the parents.
When you use a computer, you learn, because you interact with it. You yourself do things, and thus you learn to do things. Computers, by the sheer logic of the free society, are, like TV, unable to compell attention. They too must seduce it. They to must charm their users into activity.
In this video, Steve Baker MP recounts how Brian introduced him to books about freedom.
Here is a collection of other places on the internet where you may find writings by Brian.
- Brian Micklethwait’s New Blog
- Contributions to Samizdata
- Podcasts with Patrick Crozier
- Old blog
- Culture blog
- Education blog
- Libertarian Alliance pamphlets
- Normblog profile