Somewhere, It All Connects-Niall Ferguson, Theodore Dalrymple-Some Links

Ferguson offers a mix of history, political economy, current events and politics in Networks & Hierarchies:

‘In today’s terms, the hierarchy is not a single city but the state itself, the vertically structured super-polity that evolved out of the republics and monarchies of early modern Europe. Though not the most populous nation in the world, the United States is certainly the world’s most powerful state, despite the limits imposed by checks (to lobbyists) and balances (as in bank).’

Are we headed back to the landscape of a few favored, large firms on the American scene (mostly tech…now operating in and with ever greater access to global markets) in bed with a strong, regulatory government apparatus?

Which kinds of policies would such a marriage end-up churning out?

More like Comcast or more like Google as it currently stands?

Has the culture shifted broadly towards more liberal ideals, or just some more visible institutions? Aren’t many folks in tech more liberalishly inclined anyways?

From time to time, I imagine a few familiar faces in the Congress and Senate, allowing them to pass through my mind. These are my representatives, there are many like them, but these ones are mine…drafting laws, calculating political advantage, trying to keep their jobs and appealing to their constituents….at best trying to become Statesmen, at worst…trying not to get caught.

A sobering thought.

As Walter Russell Mead keeps arguing, the Rhode Island/Detroit/California Legislature ‘blue’ model of big labor, public pensions, larger social safety nets etc. is sclerotic and dysfunctional, pegged to economic conditions which have clearly changed.

The governance of current Detroit ain’t necessarily a path to the future.

He links to a piece by Aaron Renn at the City Journal:

Poor Little Rhody:

‘The result: a state with “the costs of Minnesota and the quality of Mississippi,” as Rob Atkinson, former executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, told WPRI-TV. Indeed, Rhode Island is arguably America’s basket case, overlooked only because it is small enough to escape most national scrutiny’

I remember Reason’s video on Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios boondoggle.

Clearly, the innovators in Providence knew a good investment when they saw one.


*I’m thinking the Republican party is a little further ahead of some of these changes at the moment, dragged kicking and screaming by the Tea Party and libertarian/conservative base, mostly forced to think fresh and be more responsive to conservative principles and change as they’re out of power.

That could change soon enough.

On the Left-liberal side, folks like Elizabeth Warren are trying to freshen-up the progressive ideals and appeal to the larger public from a populist base. Unsurprisingly, this requires more regulations and laws to achieve her aims, and ultimately red-meat and regulatory rhetoric for that base, for such is politics. Expect more broad and popular support from many media outlets, as usual. After all, dear Citizen, you didn’t build that and we’re all in this together, building roads, schools and health-care laws towards greater fairness and a more equal tomorrow etc….

Cruising the international scene, Theodore Dalyrymple is not fond of the obesification and unkempt dress and behavior seen on the streets of Amsterdam.

This will not do:

‘Modern scruffiness, then, is a manifestation of egotism. Outside one of the shops in Amsterdam was a large plasma screen showing models wearing the kind of clothes to be had within. They were precisely the insolently ragged clothes that the great majority of people in the street were wearing anyway. This was a form of flattery of the public, for it implied that its members had nothing to aspire to in the matter of dress higher than that which they themselves were already wearing—that in the matter of appearance they had already reached acme of the possible’

Is it the work of markets dragging folks away from the kinds of properly civilizing manners and habits Dalrymple would like to see?

Would an American be flattering himself by seeing an ‘Americanization’ and democratization at work, in which many Europeans on the street forge different relationships with their governments and underlying hierarchies and histories?

Should we eagerly await the arrival of European women going to the grocery store in pajamas, texting in line while chewing gum?

***Looking across the Atlantic to the Eurozone, where even reform-minded Eurocrats can become lost in the machine, working within the inertia of such a system, lulled by its slow processes and claims for ever greater efficiency and stability on the way to gradual technocratic progress, the Eurocratic political union itself seems resting awkwardly atop deeper chasms, clunky, unresponsive and hierarchically…distant.

Can you see limited government from here?

Related On This Site:   What about a World Leviathan?: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas HobbesFrom Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘

Simon Blackburn Reviews Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” Via the University Of Cambridge Philosophy Department

Have you downloaded the apps…and the concepts of Enlightenment and post Enlightenment liberty that can lead to runtime errors and fiscal failure? Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

Jesse Prinz Discusses “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” On Bloggingheads...

Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo StraussFrom Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’

..A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantSome Friday Quotations: (On) Kant, Locke, and Pierce

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