Falsification, Dakota Access Pipeline, An Older Piece On Jeff Koons-Some Links

Via Aeon (2 min video): ‘Falsification Ruled 20th-Century Science. Does It Need Revision In The 21st?

I’d say we’re still navigating the wreckage of ‘scientific’ socialism, and the radical and revolutionary elements finding safe harbor within most Western institutions…

As posted:

From Edward Feser: ‘Jackson on Popper on materialism

‘Popper’s World 3 is in some respects reminiscent of Plato’s realm of the Forms, but differs in that Popper takes World 3 to be something man-made.  As I noted in the earlier post just linked to, this makes his positon at least somewhat comparable the Aristotelian realist (as opposed to Platonic realist) view that universals are abstracted by the mind from the concrete objects that instantiate them rather than pre-existing such abstraction.’

Quite a comment thread over there…

Encyclopedia Of Philosophy Entry On Eliminative Materialism…

Bryan Magee Via Youtube: ‘Miles Burnyeat On Plato’Repost: From the Cambridge Companion To Plato-T.H. Irwin’s “Plato: The intellectual Background’


Richard Epstein at Forbes: ‘Trump’s Big Move On Dakota Access Pipeline:

‘Anyone who cares to review the overall public record in depth will realize that the earlier permitting history of the pipeline, which I have discussed here and here in my capacity as an advisor to the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, or MAIN Coalition, reveals a grim picture of obstruction and delay by the former Obama Administration spurred on by the SRST.’

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


As posted: Within A Bank Of Modern Fog-Another Link To Robert Hughes On Jeff Koons

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There’s always been a bit of the showman about Jeff Koons; the kind of young man who could put on a bow tie and try to give many museum-goers their time/money/aspirations’ worth at the membership desk.

This blog forgives people trying to explain what their art ‘means,’ exactly, but confesses to pleasure in seeing Koons put on the spot under the suspicious eye of an ornery old Robert Hughes.

I don’t fault Koons for finding himself firmly within modernism, searching for universal forms and broader historical context within those confines, but I admit it’s nice to see him held to account for his bullshit, and perhaps the broader, deeper bullshit he shares with many modern and postmodern artists: Pursuing novelty and recognition and thus making art into a business and often commercializing it, aiming for celebrity while offering meta-critiques on celebrity, making the personal and private very public (masturbation into social commentary, sex into meta-critques of religious shame, ‘culture’ and pornography).

Two quotes by Hughes that stood out:

Religion is diminished into celebrity..a kind of reverse apotheosis.

‘This alienation of the work from the common viewer is actually a form of spiritual vandalism.’

It’s tough to say that art is really about religion (though much clearly is), but rather more about an experience Hughes wants as many people as possible to have, and that such experiences can elevate and expand.

Aside from the above, there’s something that strikes me as not just late 20th century-modern about Koons, but also very American.

Saturday Quotation-Jerry Pournelle

As previously and consistently posted-Thanks to a reader. 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.’

I’d add this:  Bureaucratic elements exist within companies, of course, but, sooner or later, such elements are subject to market forces (if there ain’t too much collusion with lawmakers).

Decisions made within companies often receive more direct feedback (monthly and quarterly reports), customer feedback (client management is key) and competitive threats (Company B across town risked some money/time and invested in data analytics which now sets the industry standard) etc.

The disruptive forces within bureaucracies often tend to be internal (opposing blocs at odds with the bureaucratic elements), or enough free people who won’t subject themselves to the bureaucracy and/or or whose self-interest works against those in current control of the bureaucracy.

Unfortunately, many bureaucracies end with a political defeat and/or the entire collapse of the political economy.

-Bureaucrats and idealists, as well-meaning and hard-working as some may be, often find themselves unable to escape the inertia of the systems they’ve helped to create, incentivized to spend other people’s money on other people.

-Via friesian.com, a cold but humorous eye: The Practical Rules Of Bureaucracy.

One problem here lies in getting how people actually behave wrong, or overlooking the self-interested nature of so much human motivation and action, while still recognizing one’s moral obligations to other people and the intractability of so much human suffering and so many human problems.

Naturally, I think pretty highly of myself, and aim to operate under the ideas that none of us is selfless, none of us has special possession of universal truths (some are wiser than others), and none can design systems from the top down that work for everyone.

This world being what it is, I have resigned myself to the idea of there being some bureaucracy, but constant vigilance and vigorous freedom is required to even sustain some of it.

A Henry Kissinger quote found here.

“The purpose of bureaucracy is to devise a standard operating procedure which can cope effectively with most problems.  A bureaucracy is efficient if the matters which it handles routinely are, in fact, the most frequent and if its procedures are relevant to their solution.  If those criteria are met, the energies of the top leadership are freed to deal creatively with the unexpected occurrence or with the need for innovation.  Bureaucracy becomes an obstacle when what it defines as routine does not address the most significant range of issues or when its prescribed mode of action proves irrelevant to the problem.”

and:

“Moreover, the reputation, indeed the political survival, of most leaders depends on their ability to realize their goals, however these may have been arrived at.  Whether these goals are desireable is relatively less crucial.”

Kissinger, Henry. American Foreign Policy:  Three Essays.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.  1969.

A Far-Left Resurgence In Ol’ Blighty: Counter-Cultural Tides At Home

Clive Crook at Bloomberg had some reasonable advice for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in Britain:

‘You heard me. A modern party of the left doesn’t need to be anti-capitalist. Concern for social justice, equality of opportunity and even (up to a point) equality of outcome don’t require a belief in the innate wickedness of capitalism.’

Neo-liberalism would be nice, of course; many hardened types on the Left morphing into more compromising, dirigiste, Statist social democrats.  It’s easy to imagine (if you try) realpolitik humanists capable of prevention and intervention abroad, rather than the usual post-Enlightenment apologism for dictators, and/or during times of crisis, conspicuous silence, unless returning to the ‘peaceful’ moral high ground against all ideological enemies.

Market forces could be useful in pursuing such desired ends, after all, rather than many anti-capitalist, totalitarian, true-believin’ ideologues one so often finds.

Yet, here we are, and here’s Corbyn’s home page.  It’s almost as if failed theories of history and the ideologues committed to them keep rising anew…

The Monarchy’s still around, even as a figurehead.  Some real, faded, Red ideologues are still around, too.

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Possibly relevant quote via Chaos Manor:

‘Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

Another from Karl Popper:

“…and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important that equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.”

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Here at home, Charlie Martin reminds us that there’s no free lunch.  When you offer sick people other people’s money to buy insurance, and generally offer healthy people only higher premiums and relatively fewer options, you haven’t really understood the basic concept of insurance:

‘I won’t go into great detail about how insurance works here. I’ve done it before, both laying it out mathematically and in a little parable appropriate to the season. The basic thing is that insurance is a bet: you bet someone that something bad is going to happen, and that someone takes the bet.’

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As previously posted, but relevant:

Why have large numbers of people from the suburbs and small towns been migrating to Brooklyn, for example, seeking to make what they do what they love, engaging in the creative process and almost fetishizing the idea of ‘craft’?

Below are the Mast brothers, taking the hipster ethos into the business and branding of themselves as chocolate-makers, along with an entirely ‘old-timey’ aesthetic. Few chocolate-makers take pains to mention Mark Twain & Ralph Waldo Emerson in their promo videos:

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I’ve been thinking that upon examination, hipsterdom (not necessarily the Mast Brothers) may reveal DNA strands of previous American counter-culture movements: Some hipsters have adopted milder forms of the bohemianism and cultural withdrawal of the Beats, others the collectivism, activism and ‘social conscience’ of the Hippies (along with many tenets of the feminist and environmentalist movements).  Some others still the disposable income and professional ambition of Yuppies (see: Park Slope).

Overall, in terms of political philosophy, I’m guessing such strands would most likely unite under a rather standard-issue secular-liberal humanism or post new-Democrat alliance (how tolerant such a voting bloc would be of progressive activism, redistributionism, and true radicalism remains to be seen when the chips are down).

Throw in some postmodernist art-theory and nihilist performance artists seeking human connection in the meaningless void, such as Matthew Silver, and we may be getting somewhere (apologies if I’ve unfairly reduced you to a bit part in a bad theory…such are the wages of cultural criticism in the blogosphere).

Another explanation I’ve heard floated is that hipsterdom is partially the product of the everyone-gets-a-trophy generation. Everyone’s a special snowflake. Every minute of every day can be planned and some parents are still hovering like crazy in the lives of their children. The Self-Esteem movement can then loom large in the rather rarefied atmospheres that some kids have grown-up in.

How to live, what to do?

Where to find meaning, purpose and connection?

Perhaps many people making American businesses run are more likely to respond to the language of psychology and pop-psychology, neuroscience and pop-neuroscience, literature, ethics gurus and even the kinds of self-help books to be found on Oprah, whatever wisdom and truths they may contain.

Or, at least this stuff is bigger business these days.

As for Emerson, and the transcendentalist, perhaps even somewhat pragmatist, search for the Stern Fact & Sad Self, I suspect it will still figure heavily in American life and culture for quite some time.

Let me know what I’m missing.

***In terms of starting some kind of business or appealing to popular sentiment, I would recommend the safe option of a time-lapse a video of the stars, adding some quotes about living in a globalized world, the importance of (S)cience, (A)rt, people and progress, then some background indie music and you may well have a Kickstarter campaign.

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So, economics is a science?: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…I’m much more inclined to believe it is if there’s a defense of Jeffersonian liberty and Adam Smith’s invisible hand: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

Can you see life, liberty, and property from here?: Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Kant chopped the head off from German deism and the German State has been reeling every since…is value pluralism a response?: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion? Rationalism and Utilitarianism On The Rise?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Liberalism should move towards the Austrians, or at least away from rationalist structures?:  Repost-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’

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.

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*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

From The Future Of Capitalism: ‘Compliance’

Full post here.

Ira Stoll has a follow-up on his column from last year, by highlighting Zenefits Insurance Services, a company designing software to help businesses keep compliance costs down, especially with the new Obamacare regulations coming down the pike:

‘The company’s co-founder and CEO is Parker Conrad, a former managing editor of the Harvard Crimson and cancer survivor who I tried unsuccessfully to hire at the New York Sun. If someone has to make money from the “compliance complexities” of ObamaCare, I’m glad it’s him.’

I keep putting up this quote from Stoll’s original piece:

‘Indeed, if there is a single fact that sums up the state of American political economy at the present moment, it is this: the Boston office building once home to Inc. Magazine and Fast Company, which chronicled and celebrated small and fast-growing businesses, is now the headquarters of a publication called “Compliance Week.”’

These past decades have seen Washington D.C. and surrounding counties grow at a very fast rate, as people move there in pursuit of their talents, jobs and opportunity. The business of D.C. is politics, mostly.

Some people’s guiding ideals and moral lights lead them naturally to activism and leveraging political power to advance their interests, but certainly not all. Individually, I’m guessing there are people willing to accept pursuing opportunity in the public sector, instead of the private, where a lot of money and jobs currently are, especially in a down economy. These incentives will have them primarily managing other people’s lives, money, and time, through laws, tax revenue, and regulations.

This doesn’t seem commensurate long-term with a growing economy, more individual liberty and social mobility, nor a limited government which tends to keep more freedoms and responsibility in the hands of greater numbers of people, should they want that freedom and responsibility.

We’ve been getting a good look at the incentives, inertia and design flaws inherent in bureaucratic organizations lately.

Are we in decline? A rough patch of road?  A tipping point?

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.

Once broader ideas of the public good take hold, they tend to lead to greater claims of the public square, and view market activity as an animal to be harnessed: Amartya Sen In The New York Review Of Books: Capitalism Beyond The Crisis

Tom Palmer From Cato@Liberty: ‘Crony Capitalism’

From World Affairs Via A & L Daily: Jagdish Bagwhati’s ‘Feeble Critiques: Capitalism’s Petty Detractors’

.So, Is America In Decline?Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

Repost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’Conrad Black At The National Review: ‘Decline, But Not Inevitable Decline?’

 

Anne Applebaum At The Washington Post: ‘Can The West Find The Energy To Deter Russia?’

Full piece here.

Some sensible suggestions:

‘A European Union thinking strategically about its future would create an energy union, as some have already suggested, and begin to bargain collectively for its gas. Europeans should also step up construction of the infrastructure needed to import, transport and store liquefied natural gas (LNG). The United States should step up its own efforts to export LNG. At the same time, the United States should take advantage of the shift to shale oil and build the Keystone XL pipeline. A low international oil price is not only bad for the autocrats who run Russia, Venezuela and other petro-states; it’s also good for American allies. This doesn’t mean that the hunt for alternative energy needs to end. But until the miracle fuel is discovered, it would be a lot safer if the West were supplied by the Canadians.

This kind of thinking won’t help Ukraine in the coming weeks. But it might help ensure the economic and political independence of Europe in the coming years.’

That would require taking a realist look at recent events, acknowledging the reality of economic scarcity and energy consumption, as well as directly challenging the dreams and political power of collectivist environmental activism, for starters.

Related On This Site:  Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And OthersFrom The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’

Some Links On Foreign Policy & Ukraine

Nearly three years ago now: Eric Posner At The Volokh Conspiracy: The Bear Is Back!

From A Reader-Link to America 3.0’s Website

Post on Arnold Kling’s review here.

America 3.0 book here

Website here.

From the intro at Amazon:

‘We are in a painful transition period. Our government is crushingly expensive, failing at its basic functions, and unable to keep its promises. It does not work and it cannot continue as it is. But the inevitable end of big government does not mean the end of America. It only means the end of one phase of American life. 

America is poised to enter a new era of freedom and prosperity. The cultural roots of the American people go back at least fifteen centuries, and make us individualistic, enterprising, and liberty-loving. The Founding generation of the United States lived in a world of family farms and small businesses, America 1.0. This world faded away and was replaced by an industrialized world of big cities, big business, big labor unions and big government, America 2.0. Now America 2.0 is outdated and crumbling, while America 3.0 is struggling to be born. This new world will bring immense productivity, rapid technological progress, greater scope for individual and family-scale autonomy, and a leaner and strictly limited government’

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

It’s pretty safe to say that technology is certainly changing how we live, work, think and arrange our lives.  Whether or not you think the rate of technological change is increasing, these changes are naturally affecting our institutions, politics, economy & political economy.

Does it necessarily follow that these changes will be aligned with a libertarian/conservative political philosophy?

I’m partial to the idea of protecting the core unit of the family with a kind of Jeffersonian liberalism & limited government.  This is catnip for libertarian conservatives.  After all, collectivism, progressivism, and perhaps even the rights-based individualism derived from top-down (R)eason which can lead to anarchy, pose challenges to such a vision.

From the website:

Mr. Kling’s review provides a very good summary of the book. He concludes by noting:

The vision that Bennett and Lotus put forth is not the technocratically-run national system that most contemporary politicians and pundits presume is ideal. Nor is it the philosophically-driven rights-based society that libertarians might prefer. However, if the authors are correct in their cultural anthropology, then their idea of America 3.0 is what fits best with our culture.

Our antipathy toward a “technocratically-run national system” is common to most American Conservatives and Libertarians, whether capitalized or not. Mr. Kling is astute to note our vision is not one of a “philosophically-driven rights-based society” which many libertarians hope for. We do believe in a rights-based society, but we believe such a society will work, and that certain rights will be understood and respected, not due to any universally derivable philosophy, but due to a historically grounded set of cultural attitudes, orientations and practices. Our assessment of America, its history and its future, is indeed based on cultural anthropology, with economics, law and politics as superstructure on that foundation.

Thanks for the link.

Interesting times.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome, especially if you’ve read the book, as I’ve got little time but to link these days.

Kevin Williamson, at the National Review, and his new book:  ’The End Is Near, And It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave American Richer, Happier, and More Secure.’

Walter Russell Mead’s theory, in part, posits that liberalism 4.0 needs to become 5.0 and start to creatively solve the problems we’re faced with, including globalization, the decline of manufacturing and industry, and the rise of technology.  The ‘blue’ model is behind the times:

Related On This Site:  Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’… Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Delving Into The Mind Of The Technocrat’

Arnold Kling From The Library Of Economics And Liberty: ‘My Perspective On The Budget Fight’

Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘The Technocratic Dilemma’

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

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