Repost-Six Somewhat Relevant Links In The Current Political Landscape

I’m still getting accustomed to the post 60’s political and cultural landscape in America, at least in response to the current round of progressivism; the idealism and utopianism of many collectivist platforms, and the election of Trump as some sort of response.

As someone of more conservative and religious temperment, but as someone who is not a believer and deeply committed to many projects of the Enlightenment, I’m just looking around for different types of liberalism.  Does equality always run aground on human nature?  Will pursuing broad definitions of the public good always lead to a corruption of the ideal of equality, and less freedom?

Joel Kotkin had an interesting piece Class Warfare For Republicans:

As a Truman-style Democrat left politically homeless, I am often asked about the future of the Republican Party.’

The Tea Party probably might not agree, nor maybe many social and religious conservatives.  The party is deeply, deeply divided.

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Walter Russell Mead seems to be envisioning a reinvigorated liberalism 5.0, arguing that the current union fights, ecotopia, high-speed rail plans, and progressivism aren’t necessarily the best way forward given America’s challenges.  There’s been a fundamental shift that we must adjust to, and it involves technology and globalization for starters.  Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

Interesting post here:

‘It is important to note, however, that rampant government dependence and economic mismanagement are not exclusively blue-state pathologies. Corrupt and crony Republicans can be every bit as sleazy and dangerous as their Democratic counterparts. South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi are on this list for good reason.’

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Perhaps conservative Briton Roger Scruton is just being nostalgic for what he describes as the old humanism, but there sure is a lot of Hegel informing his thought:

Hesitate!

“There is no need for God, they thought, in order to live with a vision of the higher life. All the values that had been appropriated by the Christian churches are available to the humanist too.”

And he laments the new humanism, which lacks the noblility of purpose of the old, and offers nothing positive:

“Instead of idealizing man, the new humanism denigrates God and attacks the belief in God as a human weakness”

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Copied from Will Wilkinson’s piece on Gerry Gaus’s then new book:

In sum, OPR defends public reason liberalism without contractarian foundations. It is Kantian without being rationalistic. It is Humean without giving up the project of rationally reforming the moral order. It is evolutionary but not social Darwinist. It is classical liberal without being libertarian. It is Hegelian and organicist without being collectivist or statist. It shows us how political authority can be justified but only by accepting that moral authority limits it. It pushes us to look towards the practical and reject the utopian while simultaneously maintaining that a truly free and equal social order is within our grasp. It rejects the aspiration of political liberalism to neutrality among conceptions of morality while simultaneously retaining its spirit by sectioning off social morality from other normative domains.

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Theodore Dalrymple on the new atheists.

Dalrymple:

‘The search for the pure guiding light of reason, uncontaminated by human passion or metaphysical principles that go beyond all possible evidence, continues, however; and recently, an epidemic rash of books has declared success, at least if success consists of having slain the inveterate enemy of reason, namely religion. The philosophers Daniel Dennett, A. C. Grayling, Michel Onfray, and Sam Harris, biologist Richard Dawkins, and journalist and critic Christopher Hitchens have all written books roundly condemning religion and its works. Evidently, there is a tide in the affairs, if not of men, at least of authors.’

As to these more radical groups splintering and applying pressure upwards upon institutions of learning (or at least remaining very vocal and demanding voices within them), I remain skeptical of merely relying upon an adaptable and healthy post-Enlightenment humanism to push back against them in the long-run.

It seems groups of post-Enlightenment individuals gathering to solve commonly defined problems is a risky business, indeed, or at least subject to the same old schisms and problems religious institutions underwent and continue to undergo regarding human nature. I think it’s fair to say people and institutions are often requiring of constraints, especially when it comes to political power and lawmaking; especially when it comes to the challenges our civilization faces from within and without in maintaining institutional authority.

I’d like to think that secularly liberal leadership, more broadly, including the people who want to be in charge of all of us (at their best operating from within moral communities of not too great a solipsism and self-regard) can resist such pressures. For there certainly are those who would fracture our institutions into rafts of post-Enlightenment ‘-isms’ and politicized movements often driven by illiberal ideologies; movements relying on the presumed self-sufficiency of reason while behaving quite irrationally.

I’m looking around and not seeing too much decency in American politics, lately.

Post-60’s, I’m seeing a lot of people sucked into radical discontent, righteous certitude and often religion-deep belief in secular ideals and ideologies, demanding immediate change often faster than institutional stability can keep up.

A.C. Grayling makes one of the better cases for morality without religious doctrine (in Britain), I’ve heard of late, but I’m not entirely sold these particular problems can be addressed sufficiently:

His recent public statements don’t help

People on the modern American right take issue with Rawls, but have they addressed his depth?:  From The American Conservative: Going Off The Rawls–David Gordon On John Rawls…Utilitarianism leads to problems.  Will the Rawlsian center-left hold up?:

From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’… From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

Robert Nozick merged elements of Kant and Locke in a strong, libertarian defense of the individual A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

Some Friday Quotations: (On) Kant, Locke, and Pierce

Repost-From The American Spectator: ‘Environmentalism and the Leisure Class’

Full piece here.

William Tucker makes some good points:

‘It is not that the average person is not concerned about the environment. Everyone weighs the balance of economic gain against a respect for nature. It is only the truly affluent, however, who can be concerned about the environment to the exclusion of everything else.

On this analysis, It’s the people who’ve benefitted most from industrial activity that are using their wealth and leisure to promote an ideology that is ultimately harmful to industrial activity, and the people who live by it. Tucker has been following how such ideas actually translate into public policy and political organization for a while. Tucker also invokes Thorstein Veblen, and highlights how environmentalism can make for strange political bedfellows:

‘But the Keystone Pipeline has brought all this into focus. As Joel Kotkin writes in Forbes, Keystone is the dividing line of the “two Americas,” the knowledge-based elites of the East and West Coasts in their media, non-profit and academic homelands (where Obama learned his environmentalism) and the blue-collar workers of the Great In- Between laboring in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, power production and the exigencies of material life.’

Aside from the political and sociological analysis, I would offer that there are many to whom environmentalism serves as a kind of religion (or at least a political and organizational entity offering purpose and membership, as a religion has a pretty particular definition).

On this view, man has fallen away from Nature, and built civilized society atop it through harmful, unsustainable means. He must atone, and get back in harmony with Nature, as he has alienated himself from his once graceful state (tribal? romantically primitive? collectively just? equal and fair? healthy? “spiritually aware?” morally good?). This obviously gives meaning to people’s lives, a purpose, belonging and group identity as well as a political and secularly moral political platform. A majority of these folks are almost always anti-industrial, and it’s worthy of note how environmentalism has grown in our schools, marketplace, and in the public mind.

It’s often tough to tell where the sciences end (and they are often invoked to declare knowledge that is certain, or near-certain, and worthy of action) and where a certain political philosophy (usually more communal, politically Left, Statist…regulatory, centrally planned economically) begins.

What say you?

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Related:

Urbanists love to hate Joel Kotkin, as he has offered them much in the way of criticism. At the New Urbanist website, I found the following quote:

“Only when humans are again permitted to build authentic urbanism — those cities, towns, and villages that nurture us by their comforts and delights — will we cease the despoiling of Nature by escaping to sprawl.”

Bjorn Lomborg is skeptical of ‘Earth Hour’ in Blinded By The Light. Go towards the light.

Here’s Robert Zubrin:

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How to separate reasonable environmentalism from the totalitarian impulses, the Malthusians and various other people who “know” how many people is enough? Now that environmentalism is a primary focus in our schools, it’s probably worth thinking about.

If you visit my Twitter feed, you’ll quickly realize the genius of Peace Pavilion West, a global peace raft overseen by a strong authority.  Join us, fellow human (this is very serious business):

 

Related On This Site: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘The Failure of Al Gore Part Three: Singing the Climate Blues’

Amy Payne At The Foundry: ‘Morning Bell: Obama Administration Buries Good News on Keystone Pipeline’

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And LibertyFrom The WSJ-A Heated Exchange: Al Gore Confronts His Critics…From The Literary Review–Weather Channel Green Ideology: Founder John Coleman Upset….The Weather Channel’s Green Blog: A Little Too GreenFrom

Repost-Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’

Full post here.

‘So, why did most people want to move to the city? It seems like the same lure as today: freedom from a set life pattern and higher urban wages.’

Now if we focus on immigrants, economic opportunity and political stability tend to be the biggest draws.  Immigrants are usually risking a lot to get here, and they’re usually getting away from something:  dire poverty and political/religious oppression.  Life is hard, and people tend to move in migratory patterns, following the trail left by friends and family, and in some cases, free stuff, if you hand it out to them.

For Americans moving from small towns to big cities, the reasons tend to also include education and ambition, wanderlust and love:

People moving to the city have been illogical risk takers from the beginning. and the key is probably they like the sexual or mating opportunities inherent in large groups. Playing to that angle would bring in hipsters and gays. As to whether that’s the key to the health of cities or our nation, I doubt it, but it won’t hurt, especially because one of the best ways of making a city fun to go out in is that it’s safe for young women.’

Richard Florida suggested this trend, of hipster and gay migration, attached to a ‘knowledge’ class, is the way forward for American cities.  I suspect there is a pretty Left-Of-Center political philosophy under there with a lot of ‘class’ analysis and obsession with income inequality.

I’d been wondering about the cultural angle:  The hipsters were a third round of generally youthful rebellion (post-beat, post-hippie), fueled by a counter-culture ethos heavily invested in the Arts, individualism to the point of semi-nihilism, and harboring some collectivist tendencies.  There is a natural desire to break with the more traditional and religious models of organization typically found in small towns and rural areas, and also to follow the ‘Zeitgeist’ towards racial and ethnic diversity in meritocratic and multicultural harmony (coming with serious downsides).

The New York Times seems hyperbolically invested in this model (overlooking trade and economic opportunity as I believe Wall Street sets the pace, Park Slope and Williamsburg follow).  This is to say nothing of the political corruption for which big cities like New York and Chicago are typically known.  Big-city political machines were the way to a better life for most of those immigrant groups thrown into the pot, but they are also notoriously corrupt, full of clientalism and machine pols.

This leaves cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburg still floating out there, unable to live off the fat of trade and finance, immigration and cheap labor, museums and tourism.  The lost industrial base, along with the lack of a strong knowledge-based economy leaves them with a brain-drain and difficult prospects.

Are energy, agriculture, low taxes and a strong private sector enough?  What about the cultural shifts going on?

Interesting reads:  Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Virginia Postrel here:

As I have argued elsewhere, there are two competing models of successful American cities. One encourages a growing population, fosters a middle-class, family-centered lifestyle, and liberally permits new housing. It used to be the norm nationally, and it still predominates in the South and Southwest. The other favors long-term residents, attracts highly productive, work-driven people, focuses on aesthetic amenities, and makes it difficult to build. It prevails on the West Coast, in the Northeast and in picturesque cities such as Boulder, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first model spurs income convergence, the second spurs economic segregation. Both create cities that people find desirable to live in, but they attract different sorts of residents.’

Joel Kotkin. Omaha vs. San Francisco?:

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Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.  Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Related On This Site:  Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’

From Joel Kotkin: ‘California’s Blue On Blue Battle’

Full piece here.

Kotkin refers to a New Republic piece by John Judis suggesting that the Obama administration should follow Jerry Brown’s lead.

Now, it’s no surprise that Obama’s political and ideological allies are going to hold up California as a cultural/political model.  This lines up with a rather progressive vision of how society ought to be:  Dynamic, creative, tech driven, egalitarian/collectivist if not nearing planned models of equality.  Such a society has generous social programs, high taxes, and lots of environmental laws on the books.  Public sector unions are big and politically powerful and diversity for its own sake is often held as the highest ideal around.

During the last election, a similar vision was sold to the broader electorate as the best way forward for America, for the ‘middle-class,’ for the old democratic union base, for black folks, for minorities, for Northeastern democrats and the gentry liberal/multicultural elite in our cities, for the 60’s boomer idealists/NPR class/liberal youth vote in and around many universities and in the suburbs.

So how is California doing in Kotkin’s opinion?:

‘Brown may be basking in the temporary glow of the state’s short-term budget surplus, but he must know that the long-term pension obligations, at both the state and local levels, and the costs of a vast welfare class are, to use the overused phrase, not sustainable. Without some new engine of economic growth beyond social media, capital gains and property bubbles, the state recovery will never spread to the vast majority of Californians and could nudge the interior parts of the state more toward either penury or even the Republican Party’

This blog is still operating under the assumption that California leads the nation in terms of certain cultural trends, which bears watching.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Here’s Jerry Brown back in 1975 on William Buckley’s Firing Line.  Does his free-thinking liberalism necessarily end up backing into a kind of Statism, and can political incentives swallow free-thinkers?:

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***See Matt Welch’s piece here on how the New Republic has gone full progressive in many ways.  In this blog’s opinion, neo-liberalism is more like that of Will Wilkinson, or can be found at the Economist.

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Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey

Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey

California’s anti-union and anti-immigration democrat-Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.

A good post on Robinson Jeffers from Malcolm Greenhill, which highlights how the rugged and vast beauty of California makes it easier to imagine what culture is, and what it ought to be on this outpost of Western Civilization.

Conn Carroll At The Washington Examiner: ‘California In Crisis’

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-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.

-A map from Immodest Proposals on how to divide California.  Topographic crime map of San Francisco. 

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest

Related On This Site:  Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homlessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

From Joel Kotkin-‘The Truce That Could Save American Cities’ And A Few Thoughts

Full post here.

First, on a bit of a tangent:

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is notably free-enterprise, having created a very successful business model and highly profitable chain of grocery stores.  Is he simply a particularly savvy businessman, having married 60’s idealism with free-market principles?  Is he a particularly savvy businessman whose secret is tapping into the deep impulse his employees have for meaning, group-membership, identity, and purpose which they find through organic produce, mild collectivism, and healthy living?

Mackey, Milton Friedman, and Cypress Semiconductors’ T.J. Rodgers have a debate about free-market principles here at Reason: ‘Rethinking the Social Responsibility Of Business.’   Worth a read as Rodgers and Mackey have a back and forth.

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Culturally, we can see similar changes in our cities as well.  It’s easy to mock the Stuff-White-People Like-Crowd, the post-beat, post-hippie hipsters, environmentalists, postmoderns, true-believing multiculturalists, new urbanists and collectivists of all stripes.   I suspect this is partly why the NY Times reads the way it reads to me nowadays, and why Kotkin, writing from L.A. is so familiar with this dynamic.

Kotkin:

‘In the coming years count on the emergence of an increasingly dire conflict between urban boosters — who long for everything from improved schools to more bike lanes and better transit — and their traditional allies among the public-sector workforce. Essentially this will be not so much a war between conservatives and free-spending liberals, but what Walter Russell Mead has described as “blue on blue” conflict’

People tend to fight more over the less there is.  It will be worth watching to see if/how the blue-collar, public-sector Democratic base and gentry liberals keep it together.  It will also be interesting to see if the Obama youth vote stays together once the true costs of Obamacare are revealed.  As I’ve heard it described, it feels like 1968 now, with the old Civil Rights crowd in charge of our national politics for a few more years.

It will also be worth watching to see how rural, social, and religious conservatives interact with Washington, and how much steam the Tea Party has, and whether or not the libertarian/civil liberties push will interact with mainstream Republicanism.

Related On This Site: From Via Media: ‘Detroit’s Failure and the Blue Model’s Shame’

Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’

David Sloan Wilson At The Huffington Post: Atheism As a Stealth Religion

Jerry Pournelle’s chart with statism is on the -x-axis, and rationalism on the -y-.  Reason enthroned hasn’t exactly worked out so well.

Recently, British thinker Alain De Botton floated the idea of building an ‘atheist temple’ in the heart of London.  He recommends combing through religious practices for useful organizing principles in response to the New Atheists.  You can read more about it here, which includes a radio interview/podcast.

A postmodernist temple without the materialist core?  The Rothko chapel, in Houston, Texas.

Are there two kinds of cities forming?   Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Where Are You Going To Live?-Joel Kotkin: ‘The Triumph Of Suburbia’

Full piece here.

Perhaps, as Charles Murray noted in Coming Apart, we can’t go back to 1963, nor should we invest too heavily in the nostalgia that compels us to do so.

Kotkin:

‘Today’s suburban families, it should be stressed, are hardly replicas of 1950s normality; as Stephanie Coontz has noted, that period was itself an anomaly.’

Perhaps, at least economically we can’t return to 1950’s or 60’s America.  However, there has been a rise of the Crunchy Cons, and a return-to-roots conservatism lately.  The glue of tradition and custom that can hold small-town life together is enjoying a bit of a revival.  This might include churches, civic clubs and a concept of home and place as a response to other forces at work in our society.

Good money is still on the suburbs.

Kotkin again:

‘So, rather than the “back to the cities” movement that’s been heralded for decades but never arrived, we’ve gone “back to the future,” as people age and arrive in America and opt for updated versions of the same lifestyle that have drawn previous generations to the much detested yet still-thriving peripheries of the metropolis.’

Why do people move to the suburbs?

In my experience, it’s because they want the best for their children, and the most bang for their buck in quality of schools, life, property taxes, safety and community.  Cities generally have higher crime rates, higher costs of living, corrupt politics and aren’t usually the best places to raise children. Many parents also seek the kinds of ‘community’ (the non-collectivist models) to be found outside of urban cores.   They want a safe street for their kids to play on.

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Urbanists love to hate Joel Kotkin as he has offered them much in the way of criticism.  At the New Urbanist website, I found the following quote:

“Only when humans are again permitted to build authentic urbanism — those cities, towns, and villages that nurture us by their comforts and delights — will we cease the despoiling of Nature by escaping to sprawl.”

Notice the kind of ‘community’ here is of the collectivist variety, vaguely in harmony with a conception of nature.  It also contains troubled relations betweeen the individual and the collective.

Bob Zubrin pointed out the problems of environmentalism, and the authoritarian impulses behind many environmentalist goals and methods, which I’ve applied to the urbanists in parentheses below:

1.  There isn’t enough to go around (suburbs waste resources like gas, electricity, and materials in addition to lost productivity and time)

2Human nature needs to be constrained as a result (Trains, buses and bikes are the preferred method of transportation instead of cars…while apartments, co-ops and living units instead of houses in the suburbs are the places to live)

3Someone needs to be in charge (Someone like Bloomberg, or a similarly paternalistic leaders are ok as long as they line up with the message and enforce the right laws from the top down)

4We volunteer ourselves for the job (Someone’s got to build a vision of the future, and the vision of the artist or architect, or city planners for example, may be enough for the rest of us to live in much like occurs in modernist architecture).

If you’ve been following current cultural trends, there’s been some native New Yorker pushback against the hipsters in Williamsburg.  These urban dwellers often arrive from the suburbs, moving to urban centers in search of identity, group meaning, and membership with a kind of collectivist, artistic, modernist to postmodernist impulse that lines up with urbanism.   They are changing our culture in many ways.

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I know I keep posting Roger Scruton here, the conservative, fox-hunting Briton.  In this case, he’s thought a lot about environmentalism in Great Britain.  Regardless of where you fall on climate change, (I maintain a garden of doubt and skepticism), he’s at least tried to get the motives and methods of the environmentalists back to being responsive to actual people making their own decisions about the problems the climate may pose.  In other words, he’s addressing the collectivist and authoritiarian impulses which seek top-down solutions on the way to utopia or some unreachable ideal.

In the interview below with Steve Hayward, he’s discussing the difference between European and American cities, and our conception of nature and space, along with his new book.

Food for thought.

Addition:  Of course we need economic growth, and jobs.

Related On This Site:  Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.  Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’

From Joel Kotkin: ‘Richard Florida Concedes the Limits of the Creative Class’

Full piece here.

Remember when you were supposed to become a metrosexual?:

‘Perhaps the best that can be said about the creative-class idea is that it follows a real, if overhyped, phenomenon: the movement of young, largely single, childless and sometimes gay people into urban neighborhoods. This Soho-ization—the transformation of older, often industrial urban areas into hip enclaves—is evident in scores of cities. It can legitimately can be credited for boosting real estate values from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Wicker Park in Chicago and Belltown in Seattle to Portland’s Pearl District as well as much of San Francisco’

Kotkin on Richard Florida’s vision:

‘His reasonable and fairly brave, if belated, takeaway: “On close inspection, talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits.’

So If the jobs aren’t all coming from tech, knowledge, and the ‘creative class,’are they coming from lost manufacturing, industry, energy and agriculture?

Addition: See Reason’s comments.  Aren’t there deeper economic analyses?

***See Also: Virginia Postrel’s piece at Bloomberg.   Are we making two types of American city, or have everyday Joes just stopped going to San Francisco and New York, and those cities are hollowing out to become the centers of trade, finance, and commerce they’ve always been.  The European vision of the city overlooks real economic growth: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Wall

New York was always a place for trade and commerce: Repost: Via Youtube: Ric Burns—New York: A Documentary Film – Episode One: The Country and The City (1609-1825)

You don’t get the progressive base without the restrictive laws…they are baby steps to paradise: Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’……Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

They designed a city in the heart of Brazil that really doesn’t work for people: Brasilia: A Planned City

A structure in the desert…not even a city Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public;..where is modernism headed? 

Meanwhile, what do we do with rust belt cities: From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’

If you have a few minutes, it might be worth checking out Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappo’s online, putting $350 million of his own money into downtown Las Vegas to change the city.  From his original company LinkExchange which he sold, to Zappo’s customer focused business model, to Las Vegas itself, Hsieh is after scalability of interaction.  He wants to create a live/work environment that puts people densely enough to continue urban growth and human interaction.

At least he’s putting up his own money to achieve his vision:

Do We Need To Make Stuff Again?-From Joel Kotkin: ‘The Real Winners Of The Global Economy: The Material Boys’

Full piece here.

‘Something strange happened on the road to our much-celebrated post-industrial utopia. The real winners of the global economy have turned out to be not the creative types or the data junkies, but the material boys: countries, states and companies that have perfected the art of physical production in agriculture, energy and, remarkably, manufacturing.’

Urbanists love to hate Joel Kotkin, as he has offered them much in the way of criticism.  At the New Urbanist website, I found the following quote:

“Only when humans are again permitted to build authentic urbanism — those cities, towns, and villages that nurture us by their comforts and delights — will we cease the despoiling of Nature by escaping to sprawl.”

So much for the suburbs and the economic freedom and opportunity to live in them and get your kids into the best school possible.  I can’t blame people for wanting alternatives from L.A.’s notorious sprawl, but it’s good to see Kotkin has at least hit a nerve when he’s called both merely a ‘media pundit’ and an ‘Irvine company shill.’

In Seattle, they’ve secured some funding for Yesler Terrace.

Here’s Kotkin again:

‘The growth of basic industries also creates demand for high-end business services — everything from architects and investment bankers to data-miners, advertising, and public relations firms — concentrated in such places as San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Boston.’

We need energy, and perhaps we need again to stay competitive.  Perhaps we’re not just in a global world united by technology, where we will control the knowledge and creativity, able to manage the best international institutions possible.  Perhaps despite the benefits, those summits for rich people to come together and solve the world’s problems aren’t all there is to it (remarkably like the Eurocratic vision).  We’re also in a competition for resources.

Kotkin is again throwing some cold water on the vision of some people:

Greens and activists who want to control and regulate the energy sector according to their understanding of nature.  Or they at least will control much lawmaking and the political process through activism, while directing massive amounts of federal taxpayer money to developing this vision (chosen and controlled by politicians whom they favor).  Whatever’s going on with the climate, they’re usually willing to overlook the political waste, corruption, higher costs of gas and basic services and fewer jobs that could make us like Europe, without many of the benefits.

The products of modernism and modernist architecture.  Some modernists believe in utopian and semi-utopian visions of the future, or simply, a better world where people should be rounded up and live happily according the visions of a few artists, architects, and city-planners.  They don’t like the suburbs too much.

Collectivists, humanists and multicultural types who like a broad, ‘equality of outcome,’ definition of democracy and believe there will be room for everyone, all races and classes, in the new urban environment (more like European social democrats) if just the right people are in charge.

Anyone with a monied, career or professional, personal or identity-based stake in this vision.

Think I’ve got this wrong?  Let me know if you disagree with Kotkin’s numbers or his interpretation.

Here’s Kotkin’s book, ‘The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.

Addition: See the comments at Alexandria.

***A least Tony Hsieh, in Las Vegas, is putting up his own money and his own connections to create a more livable Las Vegas as he sees it:

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Related On This Site: Underneath a lot of the social sciences are other ideas, about how people should live and what we should do: From Joel Kotkin: ‘The Suburbs Could Save President Obama From Defeat’Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

See Also:  Briton Roger Scruton perhaps also wants America to be more like Europe, less rootless, wasteful, and tramping the flowers.  In modernism’s place (souless airports, blank modern facades speaking only to themselves) Scruton suggests Leon Krier’s New Urbanism and a return to more Classical architectureRepost: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

Brasilia: A Planned City and Review Of Britain’s “Lost Cities” In The Guardian

From Joel Kotkin: ‘The Cities Winning The Battle For The Fastest Growing High-Wage Sector In The U.S.’

Full post here.

Where will the new jobs be?:

‘Once considered the natural domain of megacities and dense urban cores, high-wage business service jobs, largely due to technology, can increasingly be done anywhere. This suggests that the playing field for such positions, rather than concentrating, will become ever wider. As the struggle for good jobs intensifies in the years ahead, expect the competition between regions to get even greater.’

It will be interesting to watch the process unfold.

It used to be that steel, oil, and auto manufacturing scions and families had big money, big social influence and big political ambitions.

There are increasing examples of how we’ve already changed:  The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation fusion of data driven global health initiatives and charitable works, Chris Hughes, formerly of Facebook buying the center-left New Republic magazine, Paypal’s Peter Thiel’s foundation designed to slow down the college treadmill and speed up entrepreneurship.

If you have a few minutes, it might be worth checking out Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappo’s online, putting $350 million of his own money into downtown Las Vegas to change the city.  From his original company LinkExchange which he sold, to Zappo’s customer focused business model, to Las Vegas itself, Hsieh is after scalability of interaction.  He wants to create a live/work environment that puts people densely enough to continue urban growth and human interaction.

It’s ambitious:

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Er, Curt Schilling’s 38 studios video game start-up is an example of what not to do.

Here’s Kotkin’s book, ‘The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.

Related On This Site: Underneath a lot of the social sciences are other ideas, about how people should live and what we should do: From Joel Kotkin: ‘The Suburbs Could Save President Obama From Defeat’Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Update And Repost: From Reason Via Youtube: ‘Is Harrisburg’s Nightmare America’s Future?

Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Want To Be The Next Apple? Lose The Bafflegab’

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture…can tech fill the hole? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

From Joel Kotkin Via New Geography: ‘The New Power Class-Who Will Profit From Obama’s Second Term’

Full post here.

Kotkin’s home page here.

I think it’s fairly obvious that certain people and institutions will be incentivized during Obama’s second term.  Kotkin presents his own ideas riffing on a work published 30 years ago:

‘In contrast, today’s new hegemons hail almost entirely from outside the material economy, and many come from outside the realm of the market system entirely. Daniel Bell, in his landmark 1973 The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, may have been the first to identify this ascension to “pre-eminence of the professional and technical class.” This new “priesthood of power,” as he put it, would eventually overturn the traditional hierarchies based on land, corporate and financial assets.

Forty years later the outlines of this transformation are clear. Contrary to the conservative claims of Obama’s “socialist” tendencies, the administration is quite comfortable with such capitalist sectors as entertainment, the news media and the software side of the technology industry, particularly social media. The big difference is these firms derive their fortunes not from the soil and locally crafted manufacturers, but from the manipulation of ideas, concepts and images.’

Have globalization and technology so changed our economy that technocracy is a natural outgrowth of those changes?

I suspect Obama’s comfortable with certain capitalist sectors because they are politically useful to him.  Some may even believe he’s a supporter of freer markets, as those markets just need to be used in service for the right ideas, like environmentalism and ‘social change’.  America’s decided to double-down on Obama’s leadership, and I think we’ll get more ideological lobbyists of the Left claiming their ideals and the laws they draft will serve all in the name of principles they claim to be universal.  Of course, where the sausage is made, like all politicians, progressives will be hustling, seeking rents and getting money funneled their way by treating our politics as a system of patronage.

Comments are worth a read.

Some related theories:

-Repost-Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility’

Thoughts about our political class-Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

Angelo Codevilla’s polemic: America’s Ruling Class-And The Perils Of Revolution.

Related On This Site:  From Joel Kotkin: ‘The Suburbs Could Save President Obama From Defeat’Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’Joel Kotkin At Forbes: ‘Is Perestroika Coming In California?’

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture…and like Brooklyn with craft beer, the sons and daughters of the Midwest…? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Try and find an NPR story that doesn’t digest the days’ news without mention of feminism, environmentalism, diversity, multiculturalism: This leads to a rather liberal political philosophy :A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama…Hate Is A Strong Word-Some Links On The BBC, The CBC, & NPR