Understanding Nathan Lewis

Published at 08:13 on 21 July 2016

It took me a while to figure out what this guy is about. The home page of his site is full of all sorts of gold bug stuff, yet when you dig a bit you find all sorts of urbanist and ecological articles that are not what one would expect from the typical gold bug (who tends to be a fairly garden variety right-winger).

But Lewis is not a garden-variety right-winger. He seems to be what can best be characterized, without prejudice, as a reactionary: he generally admires earlier ways of doing things, be they building cities or establishing a monetary system, and wants to return to them.

In the case of cities, he has something of a point; many of the recent innovations in architecture and urban design have been pretty stupid. As someone who’s never traveled outside of North America (I think I should do a post on that soon), it was something of a revelation to me that every city I have experience with, with the possible exception of inner Santa Fe or Boston, is in a sense an example of dysfunctional modernist design.

With respect to the gold standard, not so much. Money is not an easy thing to get right, but I can’t see how that justifies a childlike faith that the amount of easily-mineable gold the Earth’s crust happened to be formed with is magically the correct amount of an exchange medium for an economy whose size keeps changing.

Just for openers, in the face of a growing economy a gold standard will simply reward and strengthen the social pathology of the class hierarchy; as money gets more relatively scarce, it gets more comparatively valuable, so those who already have a lot of it will get richer by doing nothing more than sitting around and watching their gold get more valuable. Why create and reward a class or rich idlers?

But still, some of the guy’s urbanist ideas are worth a read, at least if like me you don’t personally have experience with Old World cities.

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