James C. Scott is one of the great thinkers of our time. This month at Cato Unbound, we’re doing a retrospective on his book Seeing Like a State. It’s a monograph whose influence has been felt all across the political spectrum — particularly, perhaps surprisingly, in the Austrian School of economics and its daughter movement, Masonomics.
Though Scott has termed himself a “crude Marxist, with the emphasis on ‘crude,’” I’ve always seen his work as falling somewhere between Jane Jacobs and Michel Foucault. It’s got a lot to offer free-marketers, Marxists, anarchists, urbanists, ruralists, and just about everyone else. (His book The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia is great too — possibly the best nonfiction I’ve read this year.)
Scott’s Cato Unbound lead essay, “The Trouble with the View from Above” reviews several of the key themes from Seeing Like a State. Economists Don Boudreaux and Brad DeLong will comment in the coming week, along with tech-writer-turned-urbanist Timothy Lee.