Some Monday Links: The Left, Money & The New Republic-Garry Kasparov & Christopher Walken As ‘Max Zorin’

I think the only man who can save us from Silicon Valley as it currently stands, is the strange Nazi/Soviet funded superfreak, Max Zorin:


Now that’s a plan, but we probably don’t need to be saved.

Megan McArdle discusses the reality of trying to monetize not only writers and journalists, but intellectuals.

Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook bought the New Republic:

‘Every new owner looks at media and thinks, “This is insane and inefficient. Obviously, this is a dinosaur industry ripe for rationalization by someone who actually knows how to run a business.” When you get inside, however, it turns out that the industry is not actually staffed, as previously assumed, by archaic snobs who wear suspenders and spats when they sit down with a glass of sherry to read the latest Dos Passos epic. Instead, most of the seemingly inexplicable inefficiencies are driven by the peculiar nature of this business.’

Tech-industry business models producing deliverables out of high-end, labor-intensive coding and programming work in ‘the Valley’ don’t necessarily translate successfully for East-coast, establishment ‘bookstore’ intellectuals, apparently.

Writers and academic refugees, political theorists and idea people tend to think differently than engineering types, especially when those writers are coated with the dust of the marketplace, harbor the skepticism and suspicion of journalists on the beat, and are busy just being the lone-wolf, creative, artistic and introspective types they often are (software engineers can be highly creative, but in a generally different way).

Of course, the New Republic was a space where the progressive Left, and some genuine radicals and true Leftist ideologues gravitated, and where they were often pushed against by and for practical purposes by more moderate, establishment liberals and other thinkers.  They will continue to have a lot of influence.

We’ll see what happens, but nowadays the New Republic appears to my eyes more like Upworthy, Salon, the Huffington Post and other Left-leaning sites in the marketplace.

Visit the Upworthy generator if that’s your thing.

Libertarian editor of Reason Matt Welch took a look at the change of ownership at the New Republic under Hughes, and the move further Leftward:

‘The great irony is that The New Republic is repudiating contrarian neoliberalism precisely when we need it most. Obama proposes in his State of the Union address to jack up the minimum wage to $9 an hour, and instead of surveying the vast skeptical academic literature, or asking (pace Charles Peters) whether such liberal gestures are “more about preserving their own gains than about helping those in need,” TNR columnist Timothy Noah declares, “Raise the Minimum Wage! And make it higher than what Obama just proposed.”

Adam Kirsch, Simon Blackburn, Martha Nussbaum, John Gray.  Here are a few links on this site to the New Republic:  Leon Wieseltier At The New Republic: ‘A Darwinist Mob Goes After a Serious Philosopher’Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’

****Tech money and technology are affecting not only old media.  Kids starting out now have touch screens all around them, staring at their smart phones, games etc. for hours on end.  They aren’t necessarily idle.

The NY Times, the Ivy League, lawyers and law schools and various, assorted guilds in our society…take note.

This is probably more important than just debates about politics, ideas, and political theory.


On that note (yeah, I don’t think the New Republic is full of totalitarians):

From a Thomas Sowell piece, the Legacy Of Eric Hoffer:

‘Hoffer said: “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are not the ones attracted to mass movements: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding,” Hoffer said. “When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

What Hoffer was describing was the political busybody, the zealot for a cause — the “true believer,” who filled the ranks of ideological movements that created the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century.’


As sent in by a reader for Reason magazine:

Chess-great Garry Kasparov grew up as part of the Soviet empire, in its waning days, and is now a human-rights activist in addition to his chess-work.  He is calling for many in the West to have the courage of their convictions, which also challenges many on the Left, liberal-Left, as well as the libertarian anti-war crowd and activists of all stripes.

This is the stuff out of which neo-conservatives can be born.

Yes, the Soviet days are over, but don’t just fold and walk away from the table (poker, not chess, as Kasparov points out).  Putin is bluffing, but still playing a dangerous, destabilizing game, from Ukraine to China, from the Baltics to his influence in Tehran, and this requires strategy and leadership.

(And, can you trust an activist?: What are his interests aside from his ideals, what truths may be be telling and why might they appeal?)

Not necessarily breaking things, just strategy and leadership:


That’s more of what Kasparov was likely driving at in this tweet from a while back:


I suppose we’ll also see what happens.

Stay tuned, and if you’re interested in supporting this blog, just read it, because it’s probably never going to make any money.  It’s a labor of love.

Related On This Site:  Are we still having the same debate…is it manifest destiny?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

From The Becker-Posner Blog: ‘Why Is Hollywood Dominated By Liberals?’

Full post here.

Interesting quote:

“What troubles conservatives about Hollywood is less the promotion in movies of left-liberal policies than the breakdown of the old taboos.”

Good art tends to have trouble with politics. political ideologies, religion, religious doctrine, and can even challenge/subvert moral thinking and moral authority.  In Hollywood, the creative imagination of one writer/artist is often molded by hundreds of people working on a project that is often aimed at millions of people.  It can be quite interesting to see how the sausage is made, and even the old studio system appears to be having a lot of trouble this summer in keeping up with the new technology.

The creative arts, from acting to dance to theater, tend to attract people who had trouble with the ‘old taboos.’  L.A. and coastal California also generally tend to have a rather liberal/Left-Of-Center culture, which can affect the people who move there.

So, how much influence does Hollywood really have on culture, and thus politics, and thus people who seek to influence culture and politics?

From Gary Becker’s response:

‘Since it is well established that political views are greatly affected by the attitudes of people one interacts with closely, it is not surprising that some of the liberality of the media rub off on actors and others in the filmmaking industry. In addition to their concern about political approaches to personal morality, their association with the media helps make filmmakers anti-business, especially big business, and strongly pro-union.’


‘So all in all, I believe Hollywood is a very minor contributor to general political views, but I do not think their influence can be fully dismissed.’

I’m not sure myself if such a thing can be known, but I remain wary of those seeking such influence for its own sake.

More culture wars?

If you don’t like ‘They Live,’ like a shining beacon of freedom in the fog, you can always turn to the day the Cubans and Russians invaded a small Colorado town…:

Who really looks to Hollywood for all their questions and answers?


James Taranto At The WSJ: ‘See You In The Funny Papers’

Full piece here.

Taranto details his formative journalistic experience as a college newspaper editor, which eventually blossomed into an ACLU legal battle over the 1st amendment.  The culprit:  A comic strip published at the UCLA college newspaper (where Taranto didn’t attend, and wasn’t involved in publishing, but became involved with nonetheless).

In that strip, a chicken admitted to having been admitted to UCLA due to affirmative action.  The offending chicken roused a few hurt feelings, but also the cries of victimhood and the need for retribution.  Shut up, they explained.

This was back in 1989:

‘Our suspension from the Sundial was a disillusioning experience. If you’d asked us before it happened to characterize our political views, we’d have said libertarian. We were on the side of the “left,” we thought, when it came to questions of personal freedom, especially freedom of expression. It turned out the left wasn’t necessarily on our side. Liberals could be shockingly illiberal’

It’s been the operating theory of this blog that Leftism, progressivism, and the secular ‘-isms’ that generally spring from a Left-of-Center political philosophy (multiculturalism, feminism, environmentalism), now firmly part of public opinion and much of mainstream American culture, have not hammered out core philosophical issues surrounding relationships between the individual and collective.  There are always new victims to round-up, and new injustices to be found and exploited for political and ideological gain.  This ought to make all clear thinking individuals take pause.

The roots of what is fast becoming modern liberalism can be quite illiberal.

Of course, Taranto’s adventure happened in Southern California, where there is much more sentiment for this kind of thinking (it’s produced Ronald Reagan, Andrew Breitbart, and Reason Magazine in opposition).  But as Taranto argues, it’s been more widespread in our culture:

‘That, it seems to us, is the central story of our time. The left-liberal elite that attained cultural dominance between the 1960s and the 1980s–and that since 2008 has seen itself as being on the cusp of political dominance as well–is undergoing a crisis of authority, and its defenses are increasingly ferocious and unprincipled’

It’s an important story of our time, no doubt.  In my experience, even many old school liberals deep down tend to think people aren’t much good, and are in need of constant supervision. Many tend to promote, or go along with, expanded definitions of the public good, and public institutions, and ever more programs to supervise and make more ‘equal,’ more ‘just,’ and more ‘fair.’  Eventually, they wall themselves off.

On a related note, I don’t know if it’s a law of nature (if it is, I’ve also seen it in every office I’ve been in, but those offices have to answer to the market).  Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

‘Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization’

Is our culture becoming like California’s culture?

Our government has grown steadily for decades, yet it functions more poorly and is divided as ever.  Do people fight more over the less there is?:

Repost-Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

Also On This Site:  They’re coming…no wait…they’re already here: From’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’

Related On This Site:  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.

The Chicago School rolls up its sleeves: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’Repost-From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’

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

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”

David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Party Of Strivers’

Full piece here.

‘But there is a flaw in the vision the Republicans offered in Tampa. It is contained in its rampant hyperindividualism. Speaker after speaker celebrated the solitary and heroic individual. There was almost no talk of community and compassionate conservatism. There was certainly no conservatism as Edmund Burke understood it, in which individuals are embedded in webs of customs, traditions, habits and governing institutions’

Well, there’s the matter of battling against the current administration and its constituencies which generally seek to vastly increase the size and scope of government, bending the social contract toward collectivist ideals as well as their own interests.  Political favoritism, expanding bureaucratic control, and cronyism will naturally come with the territory.

A Burkean return to conservatism would be nice, but the rise of libertarianism in the U.S. usually coincides with the rise of particularly liberal administrations out of necessity.  Most of this administration’s defenders wish to define individuals as free from those customs, traditions, habits that are religious, or even practically conservative.

I do recall Ross Douthat floating the idea of getting back to basics for conservatives, away from individualism and the libertarians, which was likely preparation for the upcoming election (E.J. Dionne also suggested a return to community, but mostly to protect the current administration and “community” of the secular and Statist variety).

Libertarians and liberals share a broad swath of the same turf of liberty as a guiding ideal, and both mostly wish to drive change toward themselves and their ideals as seems natural to the human condition.  Libertarians, in my experience, think of themselves as the true classical liberals.  They see current liberals having gone down the path of excessive individualism and collectivism (liberals believing that institutions will guide and perfect the individual and they will run the institutions, thus increasing liberty….and for which they always promise more equality…at some point in the not too distant future).

Brooks finishes with:

‘Today’s Republican Party may be able to perform useful tasks with its current hyperindividualistic mentality. But its commercial soul is too narrow. It won’t be a worthy governing party until it treads the course Lincoln trod: starting with individual ambition but ascending to a larger vision and creating a national environment that arouses ambition and nurtures success.’

Fair enough, but for whom is David Brooks writing?

*** Food for thought:  A girl from Kansas makes her way to Seattle, then Hawaii, then Indonesia, on a trajectory away from the customs, traditions, habits and governing institutions for various ideological and personal reasons.   The Republican ticket promises to restore a government that works for the customs, traditions, habits from which she was likely running.

Related On This Site: Does all that sociological analysis naturally lead towards a more liberal political philosophy?: Will Wilkinson At Forbes: ‘The Social Animal by David Brooks: A Scornful Review’…Charlie Rose has a full interview with Brooks and his new bookDavid Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity

William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

Still reliving the 60’s?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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Sheldon Richman At Reason: ‘Classical Liberalism Vs. Modern Liberalism’

Full piece here.

The liberal/libertarian divide is a popular theme these days:

‘In The Future of Liberalism (2009), Alan Wolfe writes that the true heirs to the liberalism of John Locke, Adam Smith, and Thomas Jefferson are not today’s classical liberals (libertarians), but rather the other kind of liberals, those who would use government power to assure autonomy and equality for all’

On Richman’s view, it is necessary for some ‘modern liberals’, and people who might want to intellectually lead modern liberalism and/or provide a map for the democratic party is to steer itaway from the Austrians, the Chicago School, the Randians, and other assorted ‘classical liberals’ and free marketeers who tend to rise in political influence during liberal administrations in the U.S:

‘I also agree with Wolfe that equality is a core value of classical liberalism, but not as he means it. True liberal equality is not income equality; nor is it merely equality of liberty or equality under the law. The first would require continuous violent state interference with voluntary exchange, while the other two are inadequate in themselves. By equality, I mean what Roderick Long calls, per Locke, “equality of authority.” For Locke a state of equality is one in which “all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another, there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank . . . should also be equal one amongst another, without subordination or subjection . . . .”

Many modern libertarians see themselves as one of the last lines of defense against really having imported the worst portions of the European-style State and its more radical definitions and excesses of liberty, its collectivist political philosophies, as well as its underlying authoritarian impulses across the Atlantic to our shores.  One way or another, such liberalism leads to a big-State and abridges personal liberty.  On Richman’s view, libertarians are the true classical liberals.  They gaze out upon modern liberalism in the U.S. and see a mishmash of competing interests, almost none of which hold aloft a social contract that really has any faith in inviduals to lead their own lives and pursue their own self-interest, especially economically.  Therefore thinkers like Milton Friedman, (who offered a mix of the Austrians, Jeffersonian separation of powers and definitions of liberty with Adam Smith’s fundamental insights) are quite necessary, as they had to deal with much the same problems, only much worse, on the Continent.

Richman finishes with:

‘If the alternative we face is between grappling with market forces and trusting a ruling elite to orchestrate just social outcomes, anyone concerned with autonomy and equality should choose the market. A benevolent, peaceful state is not on the menu.’

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.   Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site:  Yes, religion requires the submission of will in faith to God, and to the earthly Church, and ultimately sacrifices much individual freedom, but do its traditions need to be thrown overboard…what is taking their place?   Leo Strauss may not have been a believer, but he did want the individual to be free from certain structures that developed in Europe these past centuries.  He has influenced conservatism  From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’

From Bloggingheads: “Michael Lind Discusses His New Book ‘Land Of Promise’”…Snyder is perhaps not a fan of libertarianism Timothy Snyder Responds To Steven Pinker’s New Book At Foreign Policy: ‘War No More: Why The World Has Become More Peaceful’From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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Via Reuters: ‘Egypt Islamists To Rally Against Planned Army Role’

Full post here

Negotiations have broken down between Islamists, liberals and the government over principles giving the army exclusive authority over its internal affairs and budget.’

Related On This Site:   From The National Interest Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rawls Visits the Pyramids’Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest Online: ‘Political Order in Egypt’

From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

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