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Ananya Chowdhury

Articles by Ananya Chowdhury

A Scholarly Scandal

3 days ago

The ‘publish or perish’ culture in academia, for academics, is too futile, for economists, too dry and for politicians, too prudish. Nonetheless, it reveals a rot at the heart of academia that sullies the knowledge foundation on which future studies, indeed, societies are built.It has long been criticised, increasingly so, with the rise of the popstar intellectual Jordan Peterson and ‘grievance studies’ Kween Helen Pluckrose on their objections to the ideological bias of university Humanities and Arts faculties. Annually, 2 million new papers are published, however, this isn’t indicative of increased readership. Dishearteningly, half of the published research papers are never read, 90% never cited and of those that are peer reviews; half do not stand up to replication. While ‘scandal’ is a

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The Cantillion Effect

6 days ago

The conventional history of economics usually starts with Adam Smith, David Ricardo and J. S. Mill. But there is one who came before, who might deserve to be just as much of a famous name: Richard Cantillion. The Irish economist of French descent (see, there are redeeming features of French economics!) is crucial to the history of economics.In 1734, as if from a film noir classic, Richard Cantillon was murdered by a disgruntled former employee and his home was set ablaze. His seminal work, Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General survived the fire and was published in 1755. His work ignited not just Adam Smith’s writings, but intellectual giants of the following centuries from Jean-Baptiste Say to Friedrich Hayek. Cantillion’s contribution to monetary policy is just as important today.

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“Politically Impossible” – the new Godwin’s Law?

26 days ago

A think tank job provides ample opportunity for policy wonk talk. In doing so, I have come across a familiar frustration arising when conversations end with, “it would be politically impossible anyway”. I call it the policy wonk version of Godwin’s Law.This exasperation reveals the bittersweet warfare between politics and economics. As diluted, desecrated and debased the discipline of economics has become, nothing sullies it more than the visibly aggressive hands of politics. This is excellently outlined in William Harold Hutt’s ‘Politically Impossible’.Hutt, distinguished economist of the 20th century grappled with the conundrum of economic wisdom, public opinion and politics to posit a strategy of effecting sound economic policy. Economists’ ideas are often unpopular among public

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The wurst is yet to come…

April 9, 2019

It seems that ever since the Greggs vegan roll had the honour of being spat out by Piers Morgan on national television, Britain has been gripped by meat substitutes.Now the EU has caught on to this centuries-old phenomenon by attempting to ban ‘meat-like’ names for vegetarian or vegan products. Veggie burger on the menu? Ha, fools! We could never expect halfwits such as yourself to realise that veggie burgers are vegetarian and achieve this God-tier grasp of the English language. This is why we ought to use the word ‘disc’ to describe what everyone else accepts as a meat-free burger.Under Article 17 of EU food consumer regulation, names currently used for meat products and meat preparations will be reserved exclusively for products containing meat. In normal people-speak, this means veggie

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Vikings or Vagabonds?

February 8, 2019

There are two types of people in the world. One to whom the conception of Medieval Iceland as a stateless nation appears to be a Hobbesian nightmare, the other who considers it a Nozickian dream. The problem is that Icelandic society from the late ninth century classifies itself into neither category of convenience.The structure of Icelandic society was two-fold. There was a strong community of people with shared norms, values and source of income—culminating in a nation—and following from this there was no executive branch. It was a phenomenon most poetically described by the 11th-century historian Adam von Bremen when he said that Icelandic society had ‘no king but the law’. It was a decentralised order, but it’s a mistake to believe that this means chaos or confusion. Iceland was

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Dr Madsen’s Memories

January 31, 2019

Many conversant with the Adam Smith Institute will be familiar with our President, Dr Madsen Pirie. Madsen, along with Dr Eamonn Butler founded the Institute in 1977. Madsen has compiled a series of small windows into the idiosyncrasies of his career and personal life. The memories are in no particular order; some are from early childhood, middle life, and some from the recent past. They are a compelling collection of incidents, events and observations which we would recommend for an insight into the making of Madsen Pirie. Below is a small excerpt into the kind of writing you may come across on the website.To most reading this who have somehow found themselves perpetually hooked the weird and wonderful alcove that is the Adam Smith Institute blog,  lighthouses may bring to mind the genius

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Privatise your Personality?

January 17, 2019

You may be reading this on your way to lunch at the Ritz, on the way to school or even in your parent’s basement like the true libertarian you are (and secretly wished everyone else was too). Whichever caricature you empathise with, there are some curiosities which unite us all. If you have ever wondered why vegans always look like vegans and why it’s always people on the centre-right that like double breasted jackets this blog post is for you.Only kidding; I am not quite yet qualified to answer these great enigmas. Nonetheless, this blog post aims to explore why such manifestations of personality are so crucial and how they became possible. There are debts we owe to the free market for the idiosyncrasies and interests which culminate in ‘personality’ as we understand it today. Your

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The Mild West: Terror or Tranquil?

January 10, 2019

In Mel Brook’s 1974 film ‘Blazing Saddles’ Sheriff Bart’s farewell to the townspeople of Rockridge ended with “all right, you caught me. Speaking the plain truth is getting pretty damn dull around here”. Not only are his words an excellent allegory for politics today, they excellently satirise the historical inaccuracies surrounding the Old West of the 19th century which, in the Hayekian legal tradition, had a relatively peaceful society.Sergio Lekone, the director credited as the inventor of the Spaghetti Western genre described it as a society where ‘life has no value’. The old American frontier is notorious for its fiendish and violent way of life, mainly due to such distortions created by the film industry. This stereotype was popularised by American folklore, music and dime novels

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Ruse of the Reciprotarians

January 2, 2019

Trump’s protectionist trade policy and May’s post-brexit trade dilemma have fuelled trade reciprotarians on both sides of politics. They argue that free trade is only a sensible policy proposal if it is mutual. But is this really the case, or are we merely appeasing the whims of proud politicians at the cost to the consumer?Those with a beady eye on trade-related academic literature will realise that the title of this piece is a twist on Bhagwati and Irwin’s seminal work ‘Return of the Reciprotarians’. However, they never did leave in the first place, for it was all a ruse. We didn’t stop appeasing politicians’ whims either and Britain has had and still has her fair share of politicians on their high-horses. The early 19th century bore witness some of the biggest battles — including in a

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An Enquiry Concerning Human Urban Planning

November 19, 2018

Headlines such as ‘The Curse of Urban Sprawl’ are too often presented as virtuous platitudes. It is almost commonplace to look down upon the notion of urban sprawl, but is this the most sound position on an idea which has very practical implications?One of the reasons why the Viking community was able to expand over three continents with some of the most socially and economically advanced societies of their time, was due to not merely urbanisation but urban sprawl. From ancient cities in Mesopotamia, to London today; expansion of the urban lifestyles has allowed for increased productivity and wealth. It has meant the spread of employment, infrastructure and transport.Hostility toward urban sprawl is popular amongst academic and political circles. Some colder souls than I might find some

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Primitive Accumulation: Prudent or problematic?

November 5, 2018

Capital has always been a factor of production. Primitive accumulation, or as Adam Smith called it, ‘previous accumulation’ concerns the origins of production; it is the process by which precapitalist modes of production are transformed into capitalist production.This idea is central to Marx’s seminal thesis and is used by many to portray the Industrial Revolution as little more than unjust expropriation. The issue with this line of thought is that it presents a merely teleological perspective; seeking to understand the end purpose of capital rather than the conditions required to create it. This leads to the mistaken view that the Industrial Revolution was only made  possible because of centuries of exploitation rather any significant innovation. If this ‘capital conspiracy’ were to be

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Freedom’s Fighters with blog maestro Tim Worstall

October 10, 2018

This time next week we are delighted to host the next in our series of Freedom’s Fighters with our blog maestro and Senior Fellow Tim Worstall. The sessions are informal and exclusive and are opportunities to host discussions with key individuals promoting liberty within the United Kingdom. Tim is a Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute and has written for a multitude of publishers, including The Guardian, CapX, The Times and The Wall Street Journal. He writes on the subjects of environmentalism and economics, particularly corporate tax; in 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics. He currently runs Continental Telegraph. We would be delighted to see dedicated and loyal blog readers at the event. Freedom’s Fighters are one of our smaller

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All port, no policy?

October 5, 2018

Having never been to the Conservative party conference and not being a member of the party myself, I was expecting it to be rather, dare I say, aloof. There was plenty of drinking, plenty of port for sure, but the policy coming out of the main hall seemed a little bit light. Yet that wasn’t what struck me most. No, reflecting the recurring trend in politics of late I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in Birmingham. I had the opportunity to debate, present and articulate ideas to ardent High Tories who rallied under the banner of "Church in Danger" as well as uber edgy (both in persona and on the political spectrum of the left) Labour party members of the ‘free markets…BUT’ persuasion. Though this civil discourse is rather cute, the pinnacle of polite conversation occurred as Owen

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An udder shambles no more

August 11, 2017

According to the Humane Society, 2.6 million cows and 10 million pigs are slaughtered each year in the UK. Any culture of common decency must demand reasonable standards of welfare for these animals.Michael Gove, the environment secretary, has introduced mandatory CCTV in all slaughterhouses where live animals are present. Veterinarians from the Food Standards Agency would also be given unrestricted access to footage of any areas of a slaughterhouse that livestock could be in. Any breaches may result in slaughterhouses receiving a welfare enforcement notice, suspension of staff licenses or even a criminal investigation.Being the first in the world to implement laws protecting animals (Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle) the U.K. has a pretty good history of

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