Crackpot Realists

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Here's a nice appreciation of C. Wright Mills, from the libertarian economist Robert Higgs.

NEXT: Freedom Evolves

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  1. Back in the days when I was a student at the
    University of Washington, which was around the
    time that Robert Higgs was a professor there,
    I took a class in political science that
    included Mills’ book The Power Elite among
    its readings. The prof was a big ACLU guy,
    at the time when the ACLU was in the midst
    of abandoning its focus on traditional civil
    liberties and expanding it to include faux
    liberties such as the right to comparable
    worth.

    In any case, I read Mills book (unlike, I am
    sure, most of the other students) and found
    it interesting. One day in class I asked the
    prof how Mills had gotten his information about
    all these people, when he clearly was not a
    member of their social and economic circles.
    The prof (who liked me because I was the only
    one in class who gave evidence of paying
    attention, even though we disagreed about
    most everything – a behavior that puzzled me
    at the time but is now crystal clear to me as
    a college professor) agreed that this was a
    good question, and said he’d think about it
    and give me an answer in the next class
    session.

    True to his word, in the next session he
    provided an answer: C. Wright Mills had learned
    about the Power Elite from reading novels.
    My reaction today is the same as it was at the
    time, which is that I am so stunned I am not
    sure just how to respond. But it is a great
    story.

  2. I note article cites (as its prime example?!?) the President Bush and the scanner story which has been more or less debunked as an urban legend:
    http://www.snopes.com/history/american/bushscan.htm

    (Frankly, I’ve always seen that story as an example of how out-of-touch most big time opinion makers are with small town America. Back when that story first broke, bar code scanners in supermarkets were big news to me, despite hundreds of trips to grocery stores. They didn’t hit small town Michigan for another couple of years.)

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