Garfinkle, as editor of the The American Interest, has a new book out titled” ‘Broken: American Political Dysfunction And What To Do About It.’
His post expands on ideas explored in the book, and is well worth a read:
‘What I am suggesting is that our crisis of governance, which is reflected but only partly expressed by the mess our political class has made in Washington, is ultimately anchored in a cultural shift that is both a source for and a consequence of revolutionary technological change. Increasing numbers of young and well-educated Americans love the gadgets that help isolate them from one another because they do not wish to be obligated by civilities, do not wish to be constrained by responsibilities to others, do not wish to be limited in any way. We are witnessing the eternal temptation to self-indulgence raised to both principle and art.’
‘Why should we be concerned about this? Because if the individuating tendencies inherent in the technology are not offset by creative balances that can restock social trust, or social capital, in America, it means that we will drift ever further from a high-trust social equilibrium conducive to liberty to a kind of order that needs ever more government to make it work. We will have to face what David Brooks has called “brutality cascades”, a kind of positional arms race to the bottom that ensues when it becomes difficult to impossible for standards of behavior to form out of interpersonal relationships.’
I’m sympathetic to the theme because this blog is animated by a notion of how to conserve tradition, and maintain civic virtue enough to maintain to a smaller, more responsive government on all levels.
Also, it’s a blog, my own little digital piece of the public square and my ticket for a few hours a week of self-indulgent utopia free of social interaction.
Generally, I approach this issue from a more conservative/libertarian perspective. I feel I’ve gone on a bit of a journey to explore both some of the anarchy of libertarianism, the problems with anarchy/hierarchy in Europe, and the possibility of classical liberalism.
In my experience, there are many reasons why libertarians and conservatives unite. The primary one is on full display now: Libertarians are anti-collectivist and anti-statist, drawing a ring around the individual and proceeding from there. The progressive pursuit of virtue through collectivist principles and the big government required to do it is a call-to-arms for most libertarians (they’re no fans of legislated religious morality either). While both groups have strong disagreements on where our rights come from, and who has the moral legitimacy to be in charge, conservatives and libertarians can usually agree on this much during a progressive administration.
Another reason for the alliance (more beneficial to conservatives, perhaps) is that libertarians tend to be much hipper to the sciences and technology, having a broad fan base in science fiction and usually more accustomed to arriving at truth and pursuing knowledge through the sciences and similar products of the Enlightenment.
We’ve already seen a huge shift in wealth and social influence to tech money in our society, and this will continue. Many traditionalist and religious conservatives tend not to be as hip to the sciences and technology, and increasingly run the risk of being seen to be as relevant to ‘modern’ life as a group of Amish, dutifully and communally raising a barn, gazed at from passersby on the road. Well, perhaps that’s a bit much, but some technorati no doubt see things that way.
Now, libertarianism can be accompanied by attendant utopianism and grand visions of the future (as strong as the progressive and collectivist love of technocracy). Yet, as for predictions about the future, here’s Jerry Pournelle describing his own home computer and how publishing might look in a few decades time.
Keep in mind he was saying this in 1979:
That’s pretty damned accurate and reasonable. Perhaps his chart could be useful, as he was a sci-fi writer who likely ended up closer to Burkean conservativsm. Conservatives, take note.
The obligatory blog questions:
-How do you see technology affecting your life?
-What are your duties to the people around you, and to the common good?
-Do you ever get the urge to hit that guy talking loudly on his bluetooth, or push that prepossessed, couldn’t be bothered girl at the bus stop into oncoming traffic as she texts away with her earbuds in?
-Are you that guy or girl?
Addition: Via Instapundit-Huxley vs. Orwell, with Huxley in the lead. Robert Heinlein built his own house. L. Ron Hubbard is a good example of when sci-fi writers become ‘alleged,’ cult/religious figures.
Another Addition: Are we losing volunteerism because more women are working and have less time to volunteer, and work locally, and be engaged civically?
Related On This Site: Looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”
Libertarian socialist and anarcho-syndicalist: Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal
The market will make people better off, but always leaves them wanting more and in a state of spiritual malaise, which invites constant meddling. Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’…A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’…libertarians share a definition of liberty
Robert Bork called them the New Left: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”
Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”..Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’…
From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’… part of Fukuyama’s platform came from Huntington, but also Hegel via Kojeve. From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…Can economics and politics ever be a science…Hegel’s influence can be problematic: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…Has Fukuyama turned from Hegel toward Darwin…do we need a more moral, bureaucratic class here in America and across Europe?: Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’