Technology

The Reds, White & Blue-Some Links Around A Theme

Theodore Dalrymple:  ‘The Will To Outrage

‘Outrage supposedly felt on behalf of others is extremely gratifying for more than one reason. It has the appearance of selflessness, and everyone likes to feel that he is selfless. It confers moral respectability on the desire to hate or despise something or somebody, a desire never far from the human heart. It provides him who feels it the possibility of transcendent purpose, if he decides to work toward the elimination of the supposed cause of his outrage. And it may even give him a reasonably lucrative career, if he becomes a professional campaigner or politician: For there is nothing like stirring up resentment for the creation of a political clientele.’

Michael Totten: ‘The Ghost Of Communism In Asia’ And A Few ThoughtsMichael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’…Repost-From Michael Totten At World Affairs: “Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”

As previously posted:

Full piece here.

There’s something almost religious about the way some people go about pursuing their non-religious ideas.

Minogue framed it thusly:

‘Olympianism is the characteristic belief system of today’s secularist, and it has itself many of the features of a religion. For one thing, the fusion of political conviction and moral superiority into a single package resembles the way in which religions (outside liberal states) constitute comprehensive ways of life supplying all that is necessary (in the eyes of believers) for salvation. Again, the religions with which we are familiar are monotheistic and refer everything to a single center. In traditional religions, this is usually God; with Olympianism, it is society, understood ultimately as including the whole of humanity. And Olympianism, like many religions, is keen to proselytize. Its characteristic mode of missionary activity is journalism and the media.’

And:

‘Progress, Communism, and Olympianism: these are three versions of the grand Western project. The first rumbles along in the background of our thought, the second is obviously a complete failure, but Olympianism is not only alive but a positively vibrant force in the way we think now. Above all, it determines the Western moral posture towards the rest of the world. It affirms democracy as an ideal, but carefully manipulates attitudes in a nervous attempt to control opinions hostile to Olympianism, such as beliefs in capital or corporal punishment, racial, and other forms of prejudice, national self-assertion—and indeed, religion

As previously posted, Minogue discussed ideology (Marxist ideology in particular), and modern promises of radical and revolutionary freedom: To go deeper and replace Science and Religion, Economics and Politics, on the way to some knowable end-point to human affairs.

Does Nature need to lead, follow or get out of the way?  Can we know Nature’s Laws?

Can Kant do all that heavy lifting…what are some of the dangers of Kantian reason? Or:  From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On Kant

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”

Is there a move afoot in America away from religion, social conservatism, and toward morality via secular Enlightenment ideals…towards value-free relativism?  toward secular morality?:  Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’Repost-Steven Weinberg’s Essay ‘On God’ In The NY Times Review Of BooksRoger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’ …Will Wilkinson At Forbes: ‘The Social Animal by David Brooks: A Scornful Review’..

Update And Repost-Skeptical Environmentalism From Fora.tv Via A & L Daily: Bjorn Lomborg @ COP15

Full video here

Intro below. Don’t worry, another summit is surely coming along:

Don’t argue the science, Lomborg has been saying for a while now, but try and align the problems more with the science, because much of it suggests that CO2 warming will likely present problems.

We’re cramming way too much into a tiny idea (capping carbon emissions), and the media coverage absurdly demonstrates this. We may not want to end-up with European-style policies restricting our economy, and the old European stratifications and resentments directed from a clunky, top-down global enterprise (hey, my cards are showing).

I still reserve the right to be entirely skeptical (what if it isn’t happening at all?), but the more time I’ve spent with any data, the more I think.

How to separate reasonable environmentalism from the authoritarian impulses, the naive idealists, 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.

More on his position here:

As posted:

Here’s Bob Zubrin on the rather pseudo-religious and dangerous roots of much environmentalism:

Rescuing the Enlightenment from its exploiters?

Tzvetan Todorov is primarily a literary theorist, but it’s often worth highlighting the following:

“Or take the current fetishisation of The Science, or as Todorov calls it, ‘scientism’.”

and

“We experience this most often, although far from exclusively, through environmentalist discourse. Here, science supplants politics. Competing visions of the good are ruled out in favour of that which the science demands, be it reduced energy consumption or a massive wind-power project. This, as Todorov sees it, involves a conflation of two types of reasoning, the moral (or the promotion of the good) and the scientific (or the discovery of truth”

On this analysis, those who would defend skepticism and political conservatism against climate change politics (demanding less, much less and in some ways more, from their politics …and with a healthier understanding of what politics can do) are boxed out.

But our author is somewhat critical of Todorov’s approach:

“Any redemption of the hopes of the Enlightenment, any revival of the core principles of Enlightenment, from autonomy to secularism, can never be a purely intellectual exercise.”

Is that a dose of Historicism?

Related On This Site: Bjorn Lomborg saw this coming a while ago, pricking the mighty Al Gore (who is moving beyond satire): From The WSJ-A Heated Exchange: Al Gore Confronts His Critics

Andrew Revkin In The NY Times: Global Warming Moderation From Bloggingheads: On Freeman Dyson’s Global Warming Heresy…From The WSJ-A Heated Exchange: Al Gore Confronts His Critics…From The Literary Review–Weather Channel Green Ideology: Founder John Coleman Upset.

Repost-From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-‘A Conversation With Peter Thiel’

Full reprint here.

Peter Thiel started the Thiel Fund.

So, what about the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S….and the rise of technology?:

Fukuyama asks:

‘Let’s talk about the social impact of these changes. Those stagnating median wages basically translate into a guy who had been working in the auto industry or the steel industry at $15 or $20 an hour but is now a very downwardly mobile checker at Walmart. So does the government have a role in protecting that kind of individual?’

At the moment, it’s tough to see where all the people who relied on clerical, manufacturing, textiles, etc. go…

And Thiel on higher education:

‘There’s an education bubble, which is, like the others, psychosocial. There’s a wide public buy-in that leads to a product being overvalued because it’s linked to future expectations that are unrealistic. Education is similar to the tech bubble of the late 1990s, which assumed crazy growth in businesses that didn’t pan out. The education bubble is predicated on the idea that the education provided is incredibly valuable. In many cases that’s just not true.’

And on parts of the problem, with some mention of Leo Strauss:

‘It’s a mistake to simply fixate on the problem of political correctness in its narrow incarnation of campus speech codes; it’s a much more pervasive problem. For instance, part of what fuels the education bubble is that we’re not allowed to articulate certain truths about the inequality of abilities.’

Perhaps that’s what makes Thiel lean libertarian; many people on the Left will likely only address the inequality of abilities through the pursuit of equality, usually through Statism.  I suspect that political correctness isn’t going anywhere, and will simply become more entrenched in our institutions and drive political and social change.  It’s in the interest of many people backing it to do so.

Related On This Site:   Straussians likely see a long fall away from virtue, from Natural right, from the reason/revelation distinction into the flawed logic of moral relativism and the triumph of a post-Enlightenment pursuit of truth under reason alone (addition: and the 1st and 2nd crises of modernity); the successes and dangers of historicism:  From Volokh: Harvey Mansfield Reviews ‘The Executive Unbound’From The Weekly Standard: Harvey Mansfield Reviews Paul Rahe’s “Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift”Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo Strauss

Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin? Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’……From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

Update & Repost-Some Fairly Unflattering Links On The Profession Of Journalism

As previously posted:

Gay Talese:

‘They swim in the same pools, they belong to the same clubs. Their wives and everyone goes to the same fucking cocktail parties.’

‘..And they eat these little handout stories. They’re like little pigeons eating the shit sprayed on the sidewalk from the government. They want to be in good with their sources, but they don’t even name the sources!’

Was there a time when more hard-boiled skeptics roamed the newsroom; narrative purists seeking le mot juste and the story behind the story?

Who reads the newspapers?

-The linked-to Talese piece on Frank Sinatra. Isn’t there always a certain amount of ‘fabrication’ involved?  Whatever happened to that wannabe Kinsey motel peeper voyeur piece?

-Lawrence Wright on his book-Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison Of Belief. That took some balls.

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The satire of the liberal intelligentsia is pretty rich, as well as the Southern Gentleman’s WASP ‘rejuvenation.’ You just know Christopher Hitchens had to get-in on that action:

From the Late Show in 1989 with Howard Jacobson:

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Are Tom Wolfe and New Journalism seeing things clearly, as they really are?

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Andrew Potter has his own ideas:

‘The important thing to understand about journalists is that they are the lowest ranking intellectuals. That is to say: they are members of the intellectual class, but in the status hierarchy of intellectuals, journalists are at the bottom. That is why they have traditionally adopted the status cues of the working class: the drinking and the swearing, the anti-establishment values and the commitment to the non-professionalization of journalism.’

and on professors:

The important thing to understand about academics is that they are the highest rank of intellectuals. That is why they have traditionally adopted the status symbols of the 19th-century British leisured class—the tweeds and the sherry and the learning of obscure languages—while shunning the sorts of things that are necessary for people for whom status is something to be fought for through interaction with the normal members of society (such as reasonably stylish clothing, minimal standards of hygiene, basic manners).

The ideas of original thinkers and those of thinkers in academia often trickle down into popular thought anyways, but the easy quote is often just a way to reinforce one’s own beliefs or ideology, or get a quick fix.

Also:

‘In a philosophical debate, what everyone involved is trying to get at is the truth. In contrast, what is at stake in the political realm is not truth but power, and power (unlike truth) is a “rival good”—one person or group can wield power only at the expense of another. This is why politics is inevitably adversarial. Political power is ultimately about deciding who shall govern, and part of governing is about choosing between competing interests’

***In journalists there can be the shabbiness of the second-hand, the designs of the social-climber, the self-regard of the idealist and the possibly deeper aspirations of an artist. Some are more devoted to finding truth than others.

Related On This Site: From io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’

From The Nieman Lab:-An Oral History Of The Epic Collision Between Journalism & Digital Technology, From 1980 To The Present.

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

You could do like Matt Drudge, but the odds are stacked against you.

Tyler Cowen At Bloomberg On Automation And Displacement

In A Robot Economy, All Humans Will Be Marketers

Cowen:

‘This shift toward marketing, in the broad sense of that term, isn’t just about bank tellers. More legal work is done by smart software, but cultivating client relationships has never been more important. Some functions of medical assistants are being automated, but hospitals and doctors are still trying to improve the patient experience and reach new customers. Amazon Inc. warehouses use robots to pull goods down off the shelves, but someone has to persuade consumers to buy the stuff.’

I’m sure this will strike some people as deeply unfulfilling, others as threatening, and others as just fine.

I think automation is the key word, here.  Many tasks you do are repetitive, and the hardware and software is being developed to automate many of these tasks depending on complexity, feasibility and profitability where big business and technology meet (current revenue streams are directed by big players into areas where it’s too expensive and too costly not to compete (or try), and by start-ups trying to enter markets and disrupt).

This innovation shows up in our daily lives bit by bit, as consumers, as users, and as employees, but also in more personal and intimate ways (finding love online, suddenly having access to a book that changes your life etc.)

We already live within thousands of years of good and bad design all around us, and that is continuing, just perhaps more rapidly at the moment.

As to personal, social and political consequences, I’m reminded that old ideas die hard.  Many I see as worth conserving.

It’d be nice if Americans were competing more robustly with India and China in producing people ready to hit the ground running in STEM fields, but we’re doing alright.

It’d be really nice if American universities’ humanities and social science departments weren’t dealing with the postmodern and ideological problems of radical liberation politics.

Ah, well.

Hold on, keep learning, and don’t lose sight of the important things.

 

It Ain’t What You Know, It’s What You Know That Ain’t So?-Eric Weinstein At the Rubin Report: The Four Kinds Of Fake News

More on Weinstein here.  Interesting guy.

His 4:

As this blog has noted:  One of the core functions of successful media outlets lies in aggregating information and sources of information, cornering a market if possible, and maintaining competitive advantage by implementing new technology ahead of others in the same market space. It’d be nice if they had an idea of the ‘public trust’ in mind, or reader-respect, or consumer responsiveness…but…there are no guarantees.  Also, they can easily become beholden to the people they rely upon for access.

What if the technology changes rapidly enough to make many old models obselete, or many of them obselete within a relatively short period of time?

The losers can be very vocal about their losses (some going-in for special pleading and the end-is-nigh handwringing….often with an inflated sense of their own importance).

A lot of the people who used the math to design the algorithms that now structure user interaction with information and sources of information have similar gatekeeping power/influence the old outlets had.

***Actual beat journalism costs time and money, is probably best done locally, and can be a vital check on those with power and influence (or more power/influence than the media outlet has, and more likely with conflicting political/business/ideological interests than the media outlet).

There is a risk calculation necessary for this type of journalism, because it often doesn’t pan-out.

Thanks to a reader.

Related On This Site:A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘The Slow, Painful Death Of The Media’s Cash Cow’

-(addition) Via a reader:  Eugene Volokh argues freedom of the press ain’t about saving the buggy whip industry:

‘I’ve often argued that the freedom of the press was seen near the time of the Framing (and near the time of the ratification of the 14th Amendment, as well as in between and largely since) as protecting the right to use the press as technology — everyone’s right to use the printing press and its modern technological heirs. It was not seen as protecting a right of the press as industry, which would have been a right limited to people who printed or wrote for newspapers, magazines and the like .

At least with the Weekly World News, you got the best of fakery:

batboy.gif

No!

From The Hoover Institution: ‘Nature Fakery’

Full piece here.

Our author points out two myths underlying the environmental movement. The topic is hot given the influence of the Greens on our politics at the moment:

‘The Noble Savage is that inhabitant of a simpler world whose life harmonizes with his natural surroundings. He does not need government or law, for he has no private property, and hence no desire for wealth or status, nor for their byproducts, crime and war. His existence is peaceful, free from conflict and strife. He takes from nature only what he needs, and needs only what he takes’

On this site see Roger Sandall in Australia: ….Roger Sandall At The New Criterion Via The A & L Daily: ‘Aboriginal Sin’Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Also, our author argues:

‘The myth of the Golden Age, which the West has inherited from Ancient Greece, is another idealization of the lost simplicity of living in a complex society. This myth imagines a time before cities and technology, when humans lived intimately with a benevolent nature that provided for their needs and for lives of leisure, health, and happiness, free as they were from the unnatural desires and appetites created by civilization’

As posted on this site previously:

I would offer that there are many to whom environmentalism serves as a kind of religion.  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?).

Related On This Site:  Did Jared Diamond get attacked for not being romantic enough…or just for potential hubris?:  Was he acting as a journalist in Papua New-Guinea?:  From The Chronicle Of Higher Education: Jared Diamond’s Lawsuit

Instead of global green governance, what about a World Leviathan…food for thought, and a little frightening: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And LibertyFrom George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…people who argue the earth is warming sure don’t live like it:From The American Spectator: ‘Environmentalism and the Leisure Class’

Repost-Jerry Pournelle Discusses Where Publishing and Personal Computing Might Be Headed…In 1979

This blog is animated by a notion of how to conserve tradition, and maintain civic virtue enough to maintain to a smaller, more responsive government on all levels.

Also, it’s a blog, my own little digital piece of the public square and my ticket for a few hours a week of self-indulgent utopia free of social interaction.

Generally, I approach most issues from a more conservative/libertarian perspective.  I feel I’ve gone on a bit of a journey to explore both some of the anarchy of libertarianism, the problems with anarchy/hierarchy in Europe, and the possibility of classical liberalism.

In my experience, there are many reasons why libertarians and conservatives unite.  The primary one is on full display now:  Libertarians are anti-collectivist and anti-statist, drawing a ring around the individual and proceeding from there.  The progressive pursuit of virtue through collectivist principles and the big government required to do it is a call-to-arms for most libertarians (they’re no fans of legislated religious morality either).  While both groups have strong disagreements on where our rights come from, and who has the moral legitimacy to be in charge, conservatives and libertarians can usually agree on this much during a progressive administration.

Another reason for the alliance (more beneficial to conservatives, perhaps) is that libertarians tend to be much hipper to the sciences and technology, having a broad fan base in science fiction and usually more accustomed to arriving at truth and pursuing knowledge through the sciences and similar products of the Enlightenment.

We’ve already seen a huge shift in wealth and social influence to tech money in our society, and this will continue.  Many traditionalist and religious conservatives tend not to be as hip to the sciences and technology, and increasingly run the risk of being seen to be as relevant to ‘modern’ life as a group of Amish, dutifully and communally raising a barn, gazed at from passersby on the road.  Well, perhaps that’s a bit much, but some technorati no doubt see things that way.

Now, libertarianism can be accompanied by attendant utopianism and grand visions of the future (as strong as the progressive and collectivist love of technocracy).  Yet, as for predictions about the future, here’s Jerry Pournelle describing his own home computer and how publishing might look in a few decades time.

Keep in mind he was saying this in 1979:

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That’s pretty damned accurate and reasonable. Perhaps his chart could be useful, as he was a sci-fi writer who likely ended up closer to Burkean conservativsm.  Conservatives, take note.

The obligatory blog questions:

-How do you see technology affecting your life?

-What are your duties to the people around you, and to the common good?

Addition:  Via Instapundit-Huxley vs. Orwell, with Huxley in the lead. Robert Heinlein built his own house.  L. Ron Hubbard is a good example of when sci-fi writers become ‘alleged,’ cult/religious figures.

Another Addition:  Are we losing volunteerism because more women are working and have less time to volunteer, and work locally, and be engaged civically?

Related On This Site:  Looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Libertarian socialist and anarcho-syndicalist:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

The market will make people better off, but always leaves them wanting more and in a state of spiritual malaise, which invites constant meddling.  Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom?:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’…libertarians share a definition of liberty

Robert Bork called them the New Left: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”..Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’

From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’… part of Fukuyama’s platform came from Huntington, but also Hegel via Kojeve.  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…Can economics and politics ever be a science…Hegel’s influence can be problematic: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…Has Fukuyama turned from Hegel toward Darwin…do we need a more moral, bureaucratic class here in America and across Europe?: Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

Also from a reader–The Practical Rules Of Bureaucracy

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:

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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.’

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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:

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

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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”

How Many Techno- And Bureaucrats Are Enough?-David Greene At NPR: ‘Rochester Focuses On A New Piece Of American Manufacturing’

Full piece here.

We’ve got holes where the jobs are and will be, holes where the people looking for jobs and passing through our education system can’t/aren’t able to fill some of the new jobs being created, and automation is going to make fewer manufacturing jobs in many fields, pound for pound.

Greene on the new business in an old manufacturing town:  Rochester, New York.

‘That said, this picture is far from perfect. You look at this factory: making incredible things with machines both old and new, but there’s almost no one here. The factory has more than 16,000 square feet, but only 80 people work here.’

Imagine some process with which you involve yourself daily:  Driving, for example.  Right now teams and teams of people are designing the hardware and software to automate that process, and some will make a healthy dollar doing so. Think about how important your mobile device has likely and/or could become in your life.

Now, imagine our founding fathers getting around:  Bumping over rough, dangerous roads over a period of many days, weeks and months, hearing of important news through the grapevine and horseback.

Activities in our lives which already consume much time, sweat and labor, or with which we often engage mindlessly/habitually etc. will continue to be made easier or simply done for us by new technology. That rate of change is pretty high at the moment.

New jobs are gong to come out of that process, but not always where and how many we think.

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As to NPR and keeping the activists from putting techno- and bureaucrats in charge: NPR has great production values, but their particular ideological preferences lead to less overall wealth and dynamism in the economy; an over-promising, under-delivering American government, or some Americanized version of European-style Statism sold as ‘private/public partnerships’ coming with lots of bloat, byzantine laws and bad incentives.

We can do better than that.

Warmed-over 60’s activism and Left-liberal populism often drives the car, and those along for the ride can be blind to how local politics actually functions, especially in our cities, and to many abuses of power and corruption that go hand-in-hand with politics across the political spectrum.

Often, I suspect that many NPR listeners are there for the culture, the quality of reporting, and the lack of advertisements.  Many listeners probably don’t pay particular attention to the deeper way in which events are being interpreted for them; the possible contradictions between their commitments and the activist, ideological base which often drives the next issue for debate.

Instead, there’s a lot of literature and poetry, an exposition of secular humanism and a rather modern liberal worldview, softly material, usually pushing environmentalist, feminist, and multicultural causes.

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Larry Summers via the Democracy Journal has an easily-accessible review of Piketty’s ‘Capital In The Twenty-First Century‘, called ‘The Inequality Puzzle.’

Among other interesting thoughts, there’s this.  Globalization is at play, as well:

‘…there is the basic truth that technology and globalization give greater scope to those with extraordinary entrepreneurial ability, luck, or managerial skill. Think about the contrast between George Eastman, who pioneered fundamental innovations in photography, and Steve Jobs. Jobs had an immediate global market, and the immediate capacity to implement his innovations at very low cost, so he was able to capture a far larger share of their value than Eastman. Correspondingly, while Eastman’s innovations and their dissemination through the Eastman Kodak Co. provided a foundation for a prosperous middle class in Rochester for generations, no comparable impact has been created by Jobs’s innovations’

Eastman Kodak is going through Chapter 11, as those Kodak innovations have been surpassed as well (I remember family gatherings around the slide projector, holding strays up to the light).

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The idea of Singapore is bandied about in the piece.

David Brooks-style NPR house conservative praise for authoritarian Singapore is at least a step in the right direction:  At least it isn’t Mao nostalgia but it’s still…pretty top-down and authoritarian.

You won’t buy or sell gum in Singapore, damn it.  And you’ll only chew it under doctor’s orders.

David Brooks got in on that action:

‘In places like Singapore and China, the best students are ruthlessly culled for government service. The technocratic elites play a bigger role in designing economic life. The safety net is smaller and less forgiving. In Singapore, 90 percent of what you get out of the key pension is what you put in. Work is rewarded. People are expected to look after their own’

Let’s be a little more autocratic, America, at least at the national level.  It’s just so we can compete and plan for the future.  Someone’s got to take hold of the meritocracy.

Get on board!:

‘The answer is to use Lee Kuan Yew means to achieve Jeffersonian ends — to become less democratic at the national level in order to become more democratic at the local level. At the national level, American politics has become neurotically democratic.’

That’s the father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.

We need to restrict freedoms in order to get more freedoms, you see.

We are getting a good look at the kinds of people NPRites are putting in power, and it ain’t pretty.

We can do better than that.