Offering links and thoughts on the Arts, Politics, Political Philosophy and Foreign Affairs, often from a libertarian/conservative perspective
Full article here. (Once archived, it won’t be (F)ree)
Gladwell argues that “Free” is a kind of utopian vision, or at least as it appears in Chris Anderson’s new book: “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” What’s being overlooked is the cost of actually gathering news and information, and the infrastructure required to do so:
“This is the kind of error that technological utopians make. They assume that their particular scientific revolution will wipe away all traces of its predecessors—that if you change the fuel you change the whole system.”
Yet, aside from this utopianism, should we go so far as to have the law step in…protecting news-gathering organizations to some degree?
Gladwell finishes with:
“The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws”
It’s still up in the air.
See Also: Walter Isaacson’s piece in Time a while back: ”How To Save Your Newspaper,” that is, if it isn’t already a shell of it’s former self.
See Also On This Site: Posner makes the case for some legal copyright intervention: From The Becker-Posner Blog: The Future Of Newspapers
From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares? Who Reads The Newspapers? The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard
Now, we shouldn’t have aimed for troops on the ground necessarily, but whatever window we had, is likely gone. Now we sit back, biting our nails:
‘What are our security interests? The key issue is the safety of the regime’s chemical weapons. Our military contingencies should focus solely on preventing the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction to fanatics.
Syria’s complexity is daunting: A major regional struggle for hegemony waged as a proxy war; a showdown between Sunni and Shia, with minorities trapped in the middle; a parallel contest between modernizers and fundamentalists; and the bloody dissolution of the artificial borders imposed by Europeans at the Versailles peace conference nine decades ago.’
Thanks to a reader for the link.
Joshua Landis’ blog here.
Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.
Adam Garfinkle: Map humor.
Addition: Via the NY Times: John Kerry announced $60 million in U.S. aid to the Syrian opposition, food rations for the military front, and is trying to bet on the political horses, so that the worst elements, if and when Assad falls, aren’t holding the guns.
Related On This Site:Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill
Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’
Tzvetan Todorov is primarily a literary theorist, but it’s often worth highlighting the following:
“Or take the current fetishisation of The Science, or as Todorov calls it, ‘scientism’.”
“We experience this most often, although far from exclusively, through environmentalist discourse. Here, science supplants politics. Competing visions of the good are ruled out in favour of that which the science demands, be it reduced energy consumption or a massive wind-power project. This, as Todorov sees it, involves a conflation of two types of reasoning, the moral (or the promotion of the good) and the scientific (or the discovery of truth”
On this analysis, those who would defend skepticism and political conservatism against climate change politics (demanding less, much less and in some ways more, from their politics …and with a healthier understanding of what politics can do) are boxed out.
But our author is somewhat critical of Todorov’s approach:
“Any redemption of the hopes of the Enlightenment, any revival of the core principles of Enlightenment, from autonomy to secularism, can never be a purely intellectual exercise.”
Is that a dose of Historicism?
As for literary theory, here’s Roger Scruton on the subject of the humanities:
“In the days when the humanities involved knowledge of classical languages and an acquaintance with German scholarship, there was no doubt that they required real mental discipline, even if their point could reasonably be doubted. But once subjects like English were admitted to a central place in the curriculum, the question of their validity became urgent. And then, in the wake of English came the pseudo-humanities—women’s studies, gay studies and the like—which were based on the assumption that, if English is a discipline, so too are they.”
“And since there is no cogent justification for women’s studies that does not dwell upon the subject’s ideological purpose, the entire curriculum in the humanities began to be seen in ideological terms.”
And I’d argue with greater consequences for all of us…just some thoughts…are you convinced?
Also On This Site: Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily says the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’
Martha Nussbaum says the university needs to be defend Socratic reason and still be open to diversity: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Leo Strauss says The Enlightenment and the dangers of the project of Reason can be gotten around through his reason/revelation distinction: Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’…
Can Kant do all that heavy lifting…what are some of the dangers?: From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On Kant…A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …
Miss Nancy Ellicott
Strode across the hills and broke them,
Rode across the hills and broke them—
The barren New England hills—
Riding to hounds
Over the cow-pasture.
Miss Nancy Ellicott smoked
And danced all the modern dances;
And her aunts were not quite sure how they felt about it,
But they knew that it was modern.
Upon the glazen shelves kept watch
Matthew and Waldo, guardians of the faith,
The army of unalterable law.
Matthew=Matthew Arnold. Waldo=Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here’s Briton Melanie Phillips speaking about Muslims in Britain, and also finding excessive fault with multiculturalism (~15:00 min):
Phillips wrote a book called Londonistan, and perhaps she’s the British equivalent of a neo-conservative, having been ‘mugged by reality’ to some extent, for which she draws special ire from her former fellow travelers. As a columnist who started out for the British Left-Of-Center Guardian, and moved to the Daily Mail, Phillips targets that unholy marriage of Islamism and multiculturalism.
In the case of Britain, civil society has managed to create a space which shelters a number of Muslism immigrants operating outside of British law, sometimes bringing tribal customs and Sharia courts with them. Obviously, this is a problem.
Islamism and Islam, for Phillips, are two different creatures. There are Muslims who subscribe to the faith, and emigrate from their home countries. They come to the West for economic opportunity, political stability and all the other reasons people immigrate to the West. In the case of America, for example, they are particularly free to practice their religion, and perhaps have their religion insulted by South Park or the likes of Terry Jones.
Islamists, on the other hand, are a different matter. They range from the radicalizing Tsarnaevs, to Al Qaeda, to Anwar al-Awlaki and the Muslim Brotherhood. They subscribe to a form of Islamic ideology that sees itself in a global struggle against the encroachment of outside ideas, particularly the freedoms, culture, and influence of the West at the moment. Islamists are reactionary, ideological, and often advocate violence. They have serious issues with modernity, demanding and seeking solidarity and soldiers for the front lines against all enemies. Islamists seek to re-establish the kinds of laws and society that would enforce strict and impossibly ideal and narrow Islamic codes. This form of Islamic idealism has many wings and various sympathizers. It’s the kind of idealism we’re battling both abroad and on our soil, sometimes effectively, sometimes not very effectively at all. Some Islamists have even imported Western fascistic and socialist ideology and fused them with their own Islamism. A toxic brew.
Islamism is a major force throughout the Middle East and Muslim world right now, and at the very least, perhaps we can recognize that the Islamists mean harm to other Muslims as well.
So, how does Phillips think Britain should handle Muslim immigration? By highlighting terms which Britons should be quite clear about: There are laws to follow, forms of government to understand, a language to master and traditions which they might one day be expected to defend. This means locking horns with the multicultural Left.
The West is not merely a stop on the global benefits welfare chain. We’re not necessarily here to offer asylum or student visas to those who don’t particularly care to be here, nor those Islamists who travel from mosque to mosque, calling for jihad. Of course this is closer to the melting-pot approach that was once dominant in the U.S., which has since been on a slow decline due to the rise of multiculturalism here as well. I doubt this is a coincidence.
I’d add that America is obviously more than just a well-educated university faculty, or the talking heads on T.V. There are many other ideals, beliefs and virtues besides those like the new atheism, environmentalism, feminism and multiculturalism etc. Such secular ‘-isms’ tend to have universal aspirations, and many of their followers believe in these ideals with a kind of secular faith, rallying around these ideas and often presuming them to be universally true. As in Europe, universities and the media are natural draws for people who want to pursue such idealism, eventually influencing the culture and politics.
If Britain can show us anything, it’s that allowing the secular ‘-isms’ to be the highest things around, right alongside Muslim immigration and Islamism, is asking for serious trouble.
Now, I don’t think Phillips has everything right (nor obviously do I have everything right, for that matter) but her voice, like that of Christopher Hitchens, and Lars Hedegaard, are interesting voices of dissent tracing paths out of the Marxist, socialist and multiculturalist European Left. They have important truths to tell us.
Sayyid Qutb isn’t a bad place to start to understand a little more, I’ve been told.
Michael Totten’s various interviews over the years with the Muslim Brotherhood are not inspiring. They’re Islamist lite, perhaps, and not likely the kinds of people we can do much business with.
A great piece here: Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’
Also, check out that sophisticated link between the Brotherhood, Muslim world and multiculturalist Europe, Tariq Ramadan. He sure knows how to speak the language:
***Inevitably, criticism comes from the Left that highlights Phillips’ Jewishness. ”She’s a shill for Israel” etc. Well, there you go. Anti-American, anti-semitic victimhood is all the rage in many quarters in Europe these days. Where’s that getting them?
Ever closer to the ideals which they hold aloft, and which move forever out of view.
Related On This Site: Why Lars Hedegaard Still Matters…Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…Morality away from a transcendent God, but back toward Hume through the cognitive sciences?: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’
People think I’m crazy, but NPR is the manifestation and mainstreaming of 60′s idealism. This idealism will always need money, and gravitates towards the public purse. Foundations which served other ideals naturally attract idealists. A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama…
You know it’s getting bad when even a former NPR exec says it’s getting out of hand: Jack Shakely At The Los Angeles Review Of Books Reviews Ken Stern’s ‘With Charity For All’
Theodore Dalrymple argues that France has the potential to handle Muslim immigration better because of its ideological rigidity, which can better meet the ideological rigidity of its Muslim immigrants…Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In Britain
How do you reasonably deal with relativism anyways?: From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn
The exchanges are a bureaucratic mess, and will not likely be functioning soon:
‘At this point, the total administrative burden on the federal government has massively increased. Yet neither the federal government nor the states have the human or financial resources to discharge these tasks in a timely fashion, making it highly unlikely that these exchanges will be up and running by January 1, 2014. To achieve that goal, the various private participants on the exchanges must design and post their policies by October 1, 2013.’
He finishes with:
‘As I have noted before, there is only one type of reform that can make progress in meeting the three goals of a sensible health care system: cost reduction, quality improvements, and public access. That reform requires massive deregulation of the many market impediments that are already in place. Lower the costs, drop the excessive mandates, and thin out administrative costs, and people will flock back to the system voluntarily.’
More broadly, If you haven’t noticed, many progressives have a problem with that ‘voluntary’ part. Individuals usually end up as pawns on a chessboard of ideals. I suspect many progressives are so caught up in the oppressor/victim mentality, are so busy responding to the endless injustices of life (someone else is always to blame), and are so concentrated on deriving rights from the top-down and from abstract principles, that they completely ignore human nature. Solidarity!
Perhaps as with Obamacare’s exchanges, they haven’t thought that far ahead. The trick was to ram it through and worry about the details later. It’s now getting to be later.
In my experience, such idealism will always fail to recognize just how such regulations, taxes, and laws stagnate the economy and the reasons that people work and pursue their aims. The private sector will have the life sucked out of it, and everyday people will have to run through mazes of red tape. This twists the incentives beyond recognition. The earthly kingdom set-up on the road to such ideals consistently fails, calcifying either into an unresponsive, bureaucratic mess that can’t respond to new challenges, or worse, the same mess controlled by worse and worse people and desires, until it really starts getting nasty.
The ideals, of course, are just that, even if they’ve settled into mainstream thinking in the U.S. Political parties who work in the trenches to protect me from such idealism are welcome. What’s important usually happens far away from politics.
My two cents.
Related On This Site: From The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”…Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’…From AEI: ‘Study: ‘Obama Healthcare Reform Raising Costs, Forcing Workers Out Of Existing Plans’
Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’…Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’…Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’
Big Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-’Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’
It’s not just all puppy dogs and citizen-journalists out there:
‘Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has achieved the thing that every company desperately seeks: An economic moat, a way to achieve persistently high profit margins that competitors cannot easily encroach. It is a textbook case of a company doing everything it can to seize and maintain competitive advantage.’
‘In the heydey of print newspapers, reporters were part of a complex ecosystem that allowed publishers to maintain competitive advantage and near-monopoly status in order to make vast sums from selling advertising. In the current heydey of Bloomberg, reporters are part of a complex ecosystem to guard the data terminal business against competitors.’
Get ready for more data wars and information races, for wherever there’s a revenue stream, there are people maintaining it, tapping into it, and various others living off of it. No one likes a challenge to their near-monopoly.
Many digital publishers are paywalling-up.
News-gathering, investigative journalism and other functions of the paper used to thrive on the old revenue model. Now you can sell your cockatiel online for free, leaving some papers charging you to announce grandma’s death. The core technology has allowed very cheap access to share information, causing severe disruption.
Furthermore, that core technology is changing all the time, now going more mobile and interactive: Are blogs really being declared dead?
Bloomberg LP, however, doesn’t just focus on opinion blogging, political reporting, or cultural commentary, mind you. They go first where the money and information are. It’s a business model for the financial sector, one which has secured for itself a near monopoly on a certain kind of information and business reporting (where milliseconds matter, and millions can be gained or lost in that time).
As for near monopolies, this reminds me a bit of Microsoft, which got there first with a software package on nearly every machine, and has since maintained a competitive advantage quite well, and at times, ruthlessly.
Addition: Laptop U?
Another Addition: And of course I support open markets, they’re better than the government, crony-capitalist alternatives, but sometimes they can get a little monopolistic.
Related On This Site: Universities, take note. Part of your core model can be made available to technology. Some of what happened to old media, brick and mortar business, is happening to you:
The Disruption Of Education-From AVC: ‘Video Of The Week: Mark Suster Interview of Clayton Christensen’
Good luck making money blogging:
Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well: From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”
Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon
“The Peloponennisian War created the sorts of tension in Athens that would appear to support Thucydides’ analysis. Obligations to the community required greater sacrifice and presented a clearer conflict with the self-seeking “Homeric” pursuit of one’s status, power and pleasure. In political terms, people had to decide whether or not to plot against the democracy to bring off an Olgarchic coup. In moral terms they had to decide whether or not to ignore the demands of the community, summed up in the requirements of “justice,” in favor of their own honor, status, power, and in general their perceived interest. Plato was familiar with people who preferred self-interest over other-regarding obligation; his own relatives, Critias and Charmides, made these choices when they joined the Thirty Tyrants.
Arguments from natural philosophy did not restrain people like Critias and Charmides. Democritus argues unconvincingly that the requirements of justice and the demands of nature, as understood by Atomism, can be expected to coincide. Protogoras rejects the view that moral beliefs are true and well grounded only if they correspond to some reality independent of believers; admittedly they are matters of convention, but so are all other beliefs about the world. This line or argument removes any ground for preferring nature over convention, but at the same time seems to remove any rational ground for preferring one convention over another.”