ayjay + politics   598

Foot, Michael Mackintosh (1913–2010), journalist, politician, and author | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Foot was never an analytical political philosopher, and his grasp of economics was always sketchy. Yet he contributed richly to the British radical and socialist traditions. He was a magnificent political pamphleteer: Guilty Men was a political polemic worthy of his cherished Swift. He was a brilliant parliamentarian whose sparkling performances captivated the Commons. As a platform orator he was incomparable, full of wit and rhetorical flourish, always able to summon up a relevant literary phrase. As a political operator his talents revealed themselves late in life, but he proved himself in his distinctive way to be an effective cabinet minister, getting six major bills onto the statute book and, for a time, reversing the tide of legislation on the unions. As leader of the house he kept a minority government afloat with much skill and no little charm. Sadly as a party leader he was out of his element, unable to cope with internal challenge—perhaps because he was too nice a man. He was above all a rare survival of an ancient breed, the Edwardian man of letters in public life reborn, a literate intellectual of acute linguistic sensitivity, a much-loved humanist of warmth and humour. A football steward at Selhurst Park once asked him if he was carrying an offensive weapon. In reply he showed him a copy of the works of Milton, which he claimed was one of the greatest weapons in English history. As always, they let him in.
politics  history  socialism  England 
17 days ago by ayjay
Bevin, Ernest (1881–1951), trade unionist and politician | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Bevin was one of Britain's greatest trade union figures. His ministerial career marked the arrival of organized labour at the centre of policy making and the advent of corporatist approaches to the economy. Churchill commented to Anthony Eden of Bevin in October 1944 that Bevin was by 'far the most distinguished man that the Labour Party have thrown up in my time' (J. Colville, The Fringes of Power, 1985, 522). Bevin was perhaps second only to Churchill in the wartime coalition government and was a dominant figure in the post-war Labour governments. He had a strong sense of class and of his own struggle upwards from an educationally deprived background of rural poverty followed by dead-end jobs in his early working life. An unpredictable compound of insights and prejudices, he was intellectually highly able but he distrusted socialist intellectuals, though he was ready to refer to his own socialist credentials.
politics  history  socialism  England 
17 days ago by ayjay
Attlee, Clement Richard, first Earl Attlee (1883–1967), prime minister | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Although a single life cannot epitomize so diverse an organization as the Labour Party, Attlee's combination of radical political views with support for so much that was conventional in society has summed up for many the limitations of British social democracy. When Attlee addressed the houses of congress in November 1945, he tried to reassure them about his government by pointing out that 'The Old School Tie can still be seen on the Government benches' (Purpose and Policy, 149). But the larger context for this remark was that the party drew on a wide cross-section of the population. And this was the point about the party under Attlee, epitomized by his close relationship with Ernie Bevin. The public school, Oxford graduate, militarily experienced prime minister was in close step with the orphaned Bristol barrow boy who had left school at thirteen to become leader of one of the most powerful trade unions in Europe. Their judgments on matters big and small usually coincided. This showed what the party could achieve, by integrating the classes in a common purpose. That the two classes could learn from one another was what Attlee had discovered and practised in the East End, and its shining example was his relationship with Bevin. This was a powerful but transient achievement. While his relationship with Bevin may have realized Attlee's ideal for political life, the party could not perpetuate it, however often it resurrected the memory of 1945–51.
politics  history  socialism  England 
17 days ago by ayjay
Bevan, Aneurin [Nye] (1897–1960), politician | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Bevan's death established, at once, that widespread affection and respect for his life had caused a real sense of public grief. Press obituaries and a well-attendpolied service in Westminster Abbey appeared to give him the final accolades of respectability and responsibility. Yet in his life itself nothing could have seemed less likely or less welcome. Aneurin Bevan was that rare being, a practical politician with a philosophy for his actions beyond the minutiae of political activity, which was, in turn, only the means to achieve social and cultural ends. When Bevan's petulance and egotism are assessed, along with his misjudgments and errors, his real substance as the pre-eminent British proponent of democratic socialism in the twentieth century outweighs everything. The NHS still survives as the last great, decidedly socialist, monument of the 1945 Labour government. His own legacy has been invoked, sometimes bewilderingly given his class-driven politics, by successive generations of Labour and new Labour leaders. His coruscating phrases are still mint fresh in the mouths of others; his political testament, In Place of Fear (1952), as fragmented and filigree brilliant as the man himself, remains in use and in print.
politics  history  socialism  England 
17 days ago by ayjay
Never Mind Churchill, Clement Attlee Is a Model for These Times | The New Yorker
At a moment when, for the first time in several generations, social democracy and even socialism itself are not dirty words but possible currents in American life, Attlee’s life recalls what real socialism is and can accomplish. After reading Bew’s book, one can’t help but think about the number of T-shirts sold here over the years bearing an image of Che (innumerable), compared with those bearing an image of Clem (presumably zero.) Yet one was a fanatic who helped make an already desperately violent and impoverished region still more violent and impoverished—and who believed in “hatred as an element of struggle”—and the other a quiet man who helped make a genuine revolution, achieving almost everything that Marx had dreamed of for the British working classes without a single violent civil act intervening. It reminds one that the true progressive giants are radicals of the real—those who accept that democracy implies pluralism, and that a plural society is self-evidently made up of many people and kinds, only a few of them truly exploitative and criminal, most just pursuing their own version of the good life as tradition and conviction has offered it to them. The oscillation of power among them is not a sign of failure; it is a sign of life. Attlee’s example reminds us that it is possible to hold to moral absolutes—there was no peace possible with Hitler, and it was better to go down fighting than to try to make one—alongside an appetite for conciliation so abundant as to be more prolific, in William Blake’s positive sense, than merely pragmatic. This might be a good year to start selling T-shirts with a picture of this modest man, and the word “Clem!” upon them.
politics  socialism  from instapaper
18 days ago by ayjay
Why Is Jordan Peterson So Popular? - The Atlantic
When the top man at The New York Times publishes a sober statement about a meeting he had with the president in which he describes instructing Trump about the problem of his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” and then three days later the paper announces that it has hired a writer who has tweeted about her hatred of white people, of Republicans, of cops, of the president, of the need to stop certain female writers and journalists from “existing,” and when this new hire will not be a beat reporter, but will sit on the paper’s editorial board—having a hand in shaping the opinions the paper presents to the world—then it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system. When even Barack Obama, the poet laureate of identity politics, is moved to issue a message to the faithful, hinting that that they could be tipping their hand on all of this—saying during a speech he delivered in South Africa that a culture is at a dead end when it decides someone has no “standing to speak” if he is a white man—and when even this mayday is ignored, the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to the end.
[I have come to believe that possibly the only thing Donald Trump is correct about is the drastic lack of integrity in American journalism.]
journalism  politics 
25 days ago by ayjay
The Conflicted Soul of Modern Liberalism
For almost two millennia, Rosenblatt contends, being liberal meant displaying the civic virtues. Clearly an aristocratic ethos, liberality in its Roman, medieval, and early modern forms supported the concept of noblesse oblige and, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the ideal of the gentleman who showed tolerance and munificence toward his inferiors. Below this hierarchical ideal of social relations, Rosenblatt detects gradual changes. The Protestant Reformation extended the virtue of generosity to the people as a whole, while Enlightenment thinkers began to speak not only of liberal individuals, but of liberal sentiments and ideas.

With the age of revolutions came a sea change in the use of the term. The American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution ushered in an epoch when rights and liberties would no longer depend on the liberality of well-disposed sovereigns but would issue from a generous and free people legislating for itself. In Europe, struggles around the principles of the French Revolution added an even stronger political dimension. In the midst of a wave of revolutions in Spain, Sardinia, Naples, Portugal, and Greece in the 1810s and early 1820s, one hostile commentator perfectly summed up the change when he lamented that the word “liberal” no longer meant “a man of generous sentiments, of enlarged, expansive mind” but a person professing “political principles averse to most of the existing governments of Europe.”
politics  liberalism  from instapaper
25 days ago by ayjay
Futarchy: Vote Values, But Bet Beliefs
"Futarchy" is an as yet untried form of government intended to address such problems. In futarchy, democracy would continue to say what we want, but betting markets would now say how to get it. That is, elected representatives would formally define and manage an after-the-fact measurement of national welfare, while market speculators would say which policies they expect to raise national welfare. The basic rule of government would be:

When a betting market clearly estimates that a proposed policy would increase expected national welfare, that proposal becomes law.
Futarchy is intended to be ideologically neutral; it could result in anything from an extreme socialism to an extreme minarchy, depending on what voters say they want, and on what speculators think would get it for them.
Futarchy seems promising if we accept the following three assumptions:

• Democracies fail largely by not aggregating available information.
• It is not that hard to tell rich happy nations from poor miserable ones.
• Betting markets are our best known institution for aggregating information.
politics  democracy  from instapaper
26 days ago by ayjay
The Power of the Powerless | Making the History of 1989
The greengrocer had to put the slogan in his window, therefore, not in the hope that someone might read it or be persuaded by it, but to contribute, along with thousands of other slogans, to the panorama that everyone is very much aware of. This panorama, of course, has a subliminal meaning as well: it reminds people where they are living and what is expected of them. It tells them what everyone else is doing, and indicates to them what they must do as well, if they don't want to be excluded, to fall into isolation, alienate themselves from society, break the rules of the game, and risk the loss of their peace and tranquility and security.
politics  from instapaper
26 days ago by ayjay
The Populism Debates | National Review
Contemporary populism on the right has been aroused in part by the costs of this imbalance—which are both cultural and economic. That populism is an alarm bell that should help us see the need for rebalancing. But it is not itself the new balance we seek. It is too angry; it is frequently self-righteous and self-pitying; it lacks historical perspective; it assumes malevolence in its opponents where it should mostly see ineptitude; it leaves itself dangerously open to racial resentment and the lure of barking mad conspiracies; it lacks the gratitude for basic social order that defines the conservative disposition; it shows too little interest in accommodation and social peace; it is much clearer about what it hates than what it loves; and it has come to be identified with (and at times led by) a bullying, buffoonish narcissist who assertively embodies all these downsides while only tangentially enabling any upsides and so threatens to discredit any rebalancing his ascendancy makes possible.
politics 
6 weeks ago by ayjay
The Anti-Christian Alt-Right | Matthew Rose
The alt-right is anti-Christian. Not by implication or insinuation, but by confession. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.” Johnson edits a website that publishes footnoted essays on topics that range from H. P. Lovecraft to Martin Heidegger, where a common feature is its subject’s criticisms of Christian doctrine. “Like acid, Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood,” writes Gregory Hood, one of the website’s most talented essayists. It is “the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds.”

Alt-right thinkers are overwhelmingly atheists, but their worldview is not rooted in the secular Enlightenment, nor is it irreligious. Far from it. Read deeply in their sources—and make no mistake, the alt-right has an intellectual tradition—and you will discover a movement that takes Christian thought and culture seriously. It is a conflicted tribute paid to their chief adversary. Against Christianity it makes two related charges. Beginning with the claim that Europe effectively created Christianity—not the other way around—it argues that Christian teachings have become socially and morally poisonous to the West. A major work of alt-right history opens with a widely echoed claim: “The introduction of Christianity has to count as the single greatest ideological catastrophe to ever strike Europe.”
altright  politics  from instapaper
9 weeks ago by ayjay
The New Morality Dilemma | CCCU
Cherie Harder: There certainly has always been partisanship, deep disagreement, and name-calling in politics. But I do think there are some things that are intensifying this trend toward affective polarization. One of those trends is that, unfortunately, our identities are becoming increasingly political. You can see this in various ways. It used to be that people would marry across party lines – people with very different political views – but would almost always marry someone who shared their faith. Now, almost 40 percent of marriages are to someone of a different faith tradition, but only around 23 percent of people who are getting married, or even cohabiting with someone, are doing so with someone of a different political party. In many ways, political affiliation is now seen as somehow more intrinsic to our identities than our faith commitments.
politics  partisan  from instapaper
11 weeks ago by ayjay
Growth and Work | National Review
It seems to me that Cass’s critics take him to be making an economic argument when he is making a political-economy argument, and in our time we have basically forgotten the difference. Or to put the point a little differently: Cass is not exactly arguing that we over-value growth, he is arguing that we over-value economics. His book is a kind of argument against an overly materialistic politics, and is rooted in a fundamentally social conservatism, broadly understood, that sees markets and even prosperity itself as means and not ends. The ends are supplied by an idea of human flourishing rooted in the nature of the human person as understood by the great traditions of our civilization, and therefore focused on family, community, religion, work, and country.

I would note, as an aside, that the same is true of another very important conservative policy book published recently—Reihan Salam’s Melting Pot or Civil War?. Like Cass, Salam is willing and able to confront his critics on their chosen ground, arguing about the effect of low-skill immigration on wages or the philosophical grounds of restrictions on migration. But he is ultimately making an argument rooted in the view that human beings flourish in communities and nations, and that the particular nature of our sociality has to bear on how we think about immigration. He, too, reaches for the deepest ground of disagreement between the left and right, which is anthropological and sociological before it is economic. And so he too seems to have baffled, in the best sense, some of the people he’s seeking to argue with. [...]

This isn’t exactly an argument about whether growth matters (as everyone agrees it does) or whether sometimes other things have to matter more (which we all know is also true). It’s an argument about where to place the weight and emphasis when it comes to addressing particular problems and considering particular policy courses. Healthy policy debates have to be rooted in philosophical premises but directed to concrete realities. That ought to be the next phase of the debate Cass’s book has helped to spark.
economics  politics  conservatism  from instapaper
12 weeks ago by ayjay
Nationalism Is Loyalty Irritated | National Review
When we use the vocabulary of political philosophies, we recognize that we are talking about things that differ along more than one axis. Take Communism, liberalism, and conservatism: The first is a theory of history and power. The second is a political framework built upon rights. The final disclaims the word “ideology” and has been traditionally defined as a set of dispositions toward a political and civilizational inheritance.

I would like to sidestep Hazony’s championing of nationalism as a system for organizing political order globally, a theory that my colleague Jonah Goldberg is tempted to call “nationism.”

My proposal is that nationalism as a political phenomenon is not a philosophy or science, though it may take either of those in hand. It isn’t an account of history. Instead, nationalism is an eruptive feature of politics. It grows out of the normal sentiments of national loyalty, like a pustule or a fever. It could even be said that nationalism is patriotism in its irritated state, or that nationalism recruits the patriotic sentiment to accomplish something in a fit of anger.
politics  from instapaper
november 2018 by ayjay
Confiscating the Nation | National Review
One would imagine that the level of sacrifice that a universal human community would demand of elites would be greater than the one called upon by national loyalty. But it never is. Instead the dissolution of national loyalties liberates the elite from any practical moral and political restraint on their self-seeking, and confiscates from the poor and the weak the benefits that national loyalties confer on them.

The post-nationalist political structures are anti-democratic for this very reason; the point is to get rid of accountability from below. The anti-nationalist says that he wants fellow-feeling with all men, but his aim is to leave his countrymen in the ditch and to do so in good conscience. The posited freedom to serve any man comes by dissolving his duty to his neighbors. His tragedy is that once he succeeds in deconstructing national loyalties, he will find that loyalties based on blood or creed come roaring back.
politics  elitism  from instapaper
november 2018 by ayjay
Andrew Sullivan: What Happens If Americans Stop Trusting the System?
Yes, I know the urban coasts are where the future nerds and business whizzes want to live (and increasingly do). But that’s part of our problem, is it not? We’re geographically sorting — and the left-behinds are getting more left behind in the middle of the country. And if there’s something we really don’t need in D.C. right now is more of the cognitive elite! The place is crawling with irritating young white people who go to CrossFit, ride those creepy scooters, and never look up from their phones. A company like Amazon could actually have had the clout to bring those types back to the heartland and do some small thing to rebalance the country. Wages would be effectively higher given the lower cost of housing. The Millennial migrants could even help turn Texas blue! The cultural shift and economic boost might even lure a few opioid users toward an ounce of hope and a middle-class salary in Indiana or Ohio or West Virginia.

This matters. As the country becomes increasingly culturally, economically, and socially bifurcated, we need responsible corporate actors to help bridge this gap. Amazon — one of the most trusted brands in America — is perfectly poised to pull this off. Its decisions could be a critical help in keeping this country from the kind of yawning divisions and vast inequalities which are fast hardening into permanent social chasms.
politics  city  tech  from instapaper
november 2018 by ayjay
How the GOP Gave Up on Porn
What happened? The pervasiveness of porn is a reminder that politics historically hasn’t been much of a bulwark against the most primitive human desires—money, power, sex and, in this instance, a combination of the three. But it’s also a window into the mentality on the right, which has surrendered the fight on many social issues as America has moved left. Even with Trump in the White House and five conservatives on the Supreme Court, there is no reversing the cultural tides that have swept away the Moral Majority’s footprint on supporting traditional marriage and prayer in public schools. The difference is that some on the right still pay lip service to those lost causes. When it comes to porn—more accessible, more acceptable and less scrutinized than at any time during its history—they don’t even bother anymore.
politics  conservatism  porn  from instapaper
november 2018 by ayjay
Why Anti-Liberalism Fails | Front Porch Republic
“Politics,” Andrew Breitbart famously observed, “is downstream from culture.” True enough, but he should have added, “…and culture is downstream from breakfast.” One does not have to be a Marxist to note the connection between culture and agriculture, between the way we make our living and what we come to believe. For man is first of all a material being, and must eat before he can do anything else, and must keep eating if he plans to continue doing what he is doing. Our practices sooner or later dictate our beliefs and control our culture. And the economic practice that came to displace all rivals was Liberal, secular capitalism.
politics  liberalism 
november 2018 by ayjay
I Debated Steve Bannon. It Didn't Turn Out the Way I Expected.
Integral to the liberal project, again in the broad sense of the word liberal, is confidence in the power of reason. Words and arguments can overbear ignorance and prejudice. Over the long term, words and arguments can even overcome oppression and violence. That’s why liberals in the broad sense are so uniquely horrified by official lying: How can reason prevail unless words connect to reality? How can we argue against people who will spread fictions, if serviceable to them, without a qualm?

Illiberals and anti-liberals, on the other hand, appreciate the dark energy of human irrationality—not merely as a fact of our nature to be negotiated, but as a potent political resource. People do not think; they feel. They do not believe what is true; they regard as true that which they wish to believe. A lie that affirms us will gain more credence than a truth that challenges us. That’s the foundational insight on which Trump built his business career. It’s the insight on which Trump’s supporters built first their campaign for president and now their presidency itself.
election2016  HTT  politics  from instapaper
november 2018 by ayjay
Tired of Winning: D.C. think tanks, NYC magazines & the search for public intellect | The Point Magazine
In her 1954 lecture “Philosophy and Politics,” Hannah Arendt emphasized that it was Socrates’s own experience of “speechless wonder,” frequently reported upon by onlookers, that motivated him—having understood in his isolation and silence what was common to all human beings, namely their capacity to ask the fundamental (and fundamentally unanswerable) questions—to create a rhetorical format, the “dialogue between friends,” by which his fellow citizens would be able to “understand the truth inherent in the other’s opinion … and in what specific articulateness the common world appears to the other.” The purpose of the dialogue, Arendt claimed, was to “make friends out of Athens’s citizenry” at a time when the political life of the city “consisted of an intense and uninterrupted contest of all against all, of aei aristeuein, ceaselessly showing oneself to be the best of all.” It was this “agonal spirit” that eventually destroyed the Greek city-state, whose fate it was to be torn apart by polarizing internal hatreds long before it fell prey to invading armies.
politics  from instapaper
november 2018 by ayjay
Liberals Rail Against Counter-Majoritarian Checks on Their Power
“The People,” Alexander Hamilton once remarked, “are a great beast.” His classically educated contemporaries did not regard sentiments like these as normative judgments but as statements of fact. What today comes off as sneering elitist contempt for the public was once viewed as a proper fear of collective tyranny. The government the Founders formed, the Constitution they ratified, and the codes of conduct they endorsed are thus replete with counter-majoritarian checks on the will of the demos.

The Founding generation’s restraints on the popular will have eroded over time, but their ideals have remained largely intact. Among the values we’ve preserved is an egalitarian understanding that the people are sovereign—the ultimate arbiters of political contests—but “the people themselves” do not govern. Throughout the Federalist Papers, the Constitution’s framers warn of the reptilian nature of people in a crowd. They are prone to “the tyranny of their own passions” and possessed of an “incapacity for regular deliberation.” As James Madison warned, even if every Athenian were as wise as Socrates, “every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”
politics  from instapaper
november 2018 by ayjay
Andrew Sullivan: Can the Republic Strike Back?
The GOP cannot be talked out of their surrender to this strongman. With each rhetorical or policy atrocity, they have attached themselves more firmly to him. The dissenters are leaving; the new members of Congress will be even Trumpier than the old. They have abandoned any serious oversight role. Their singular achievement has been supplying judicial ranks who will not stand in the way of executive power. That was the real issue in the Kavanaugh nomination, as Newt Gingrich blurted out last week. A subpoena for the president from the special counsel would be fought, he promised, all the way to the Supreme Court, which is when we would see “whether or not the Kavanaugh fight was worth it.” This is a party bent on enabling authoritarianism, not restraining it.

That’s why I will vote Democrat next Tuesday. I have many issues with the Democrats, as regular readers well know. None of that matters compared with this emergency. I don’t care, in this instance, what their policies are. I am going to vote for them. I can’t stand most of their leaders and fear their radical fringe. I am going to vote for them anyway. Because it is the only responsible thing there is to do.
politics  from instapaper
november 2018 by ayjay
Sort By Controversial
If you just read a Scissor statement off a list, it’s harmless. It just seems like a trivially true or trivially false thing. It doesn’t activate until you start discussing it with somebody. At first you just think they’re an imbecile. Then they call you an imbecile, and you want to defend yourself. Crescit eundo. You notice all the little ways they’re lying to you and themselves and their audience every time they open their mouth to defend their imbecilic opinion. Then you notice how all the lies are connected, that in order to keep getting the little things like the Scissor statement wrong, they have to drag in everything else. Eventually even that doesn’t work, they’ve just got to make everybody hate you so that nobody will even listen to your argument no matter how obviously true it is. Finally, they don’t care about the Scissor statement anymore. They’ve just dug themselves so deep basing their whole existence around hating you and wanting you to fail that they can’t walk it back. You’ve got to prove them wrong, not because you care about the Scissor statement either, but because otherwise they’ll do anything to poison people against you, make it impossible for them to even understand the argument for why you deserve to exist. You know this is true. Your mind becomes a constant loop of arguments you can use to defend yourself, and rehearsals of arguments for why their attacks are cruel and unfair, and the one burning question: how can you thwart them?
HTT  conflict  politics  from instapaper
october 2018 by ayjay
How to Be an Anticapitalist Today
We must renew an energetic progressive social democracy that not only neutralizes the harms of capitalism but also facilitates initiatives to build real utopias with the potential to erode the dominance of capitalism.
[Maybe the single greatest impediment to the triumph of socialism is that socialists write like this.]
politics 
october 2018 by ayjay
The Problems of Liberalism: A Q&A With Patrick Deneen | The Nation
PD: We’re not going to replace the entire liberal system. Indeed, the system has a lot of power. We have to acknowledge that liberalism has failed, but its failure is not going to mean that it’s going to stop. It’s just going to continue to produce these baleful effects.

I mention Rod Dreher in the book as an example, and he proposes this strategy for Christians. But what I was really pointing to was that, for people who want to form, from the ground up, new kinds of culture, it will require a conscious strategy of the sort Rod talks about. But by no means was my recommendation narrowly intended for religious people. It seems to me that there are a lot people who would self-describe as much more secular who have been exploring the same kinds of things. This goes back to the 1960s and the original counterculture.

It was really meant as an invitation for people who want to do something local, close to home, right now. But I do think that there needs to be larger scale, top-down thinking too. Here we might find some resonance with each other. I think that there should be some efforts to break up centers of power.

So the question is: How would one begin to think of breaking up that power?
politics  liberalism  from instapaper
october 2018 by ayjay
Against the Deformations of Liberalism - American Affairs Journal
The problem with Deneen’s overemphasis on liberalism as a single causal factor is that it blocks the way for a more searching analysis that might actually shed light on some of the sociopolitical problems he describes. If liberalism is not the problem, what is? Without trying to be exhaustive, let me mention two potential areas of investigation. One is something Deneen touches upon fleetingly but does not develop. It is the gradual growth (like a cancer) of an ideological approach to liberal politics in place of liberal politics proper. Most of the nine waves described above constitute genuine freedoms worth fighting for, and we would not want to give up what was achieved. (Which of those freedoms, after all, would Deneen like to renounce?) But gradually over the course of that development individuals in the West began to fetishize freedom as such, and to seek it in overly absolute terms. This is not liberalism per se, but an ideology of complete individual autonomy that is indeed unsustainable. Part of this ideology entails the belief that the quest for freedom will, eo ipso, lead to human flourishing—a belief that is not supported by experience. Part of it is also the belief that whatever kind of “oppression” has been most recently sensed (gendered bathrooms, for instance) must also be the most pressing work of politics to redress. The irrationality of this belief is revealed in the fact that the order of modern freedoms was patterned according to existential need. Thus the most recently discovered oppressions are arguably the least, not the most, fundamental. Finally, there is the ideological tendency to view all our freedoms as absolute rights and to fail to see the extent to which freedoms exist in tension with each other and must therefore be somehow judiciously balanced. Absolute rights cannot be the subject of political deliberation and balance, because by definition they cannot or should not be curtailed.

Such ideological deformations of liberalism seem to account for much of what Deneen finds troubling. Ideology, not liberalism, is the force that has been fiendishly tearing down traditional institutions and mediating structures, enlisting technology in an effort to overcome nature (including human nature), and promoting individualism and voluntarism to an extent that renders stable political life impossible. But if the ideology of liberalism is different from liberalism itself, perhaps we should consider trying to do something about the ideology rather than calling for the end of “liberalism” and our attendant liberties.
politics  liberalism  from instapaper
october 2018 by ayjay
The media mishandled Kavanaugh — and made Trump a winner - The Washington Post
Consider two recent stories in the New York Times. The first was a more-than-13,000-word dissection of Donald Trump’s financial history that revealed long-standing habits of deception and corruption. It was newspaper journalism at its best — a serious investment of talent and resources to expand the sum of public knowledge.

Compare this with the Times’s exposé on a bar fight 33 years ago , in which Brett M. Kavanaugh allegedly threw ice at another patron. Apparently there was no editor willing to say, “What you have turned up is trivial. Try harder.” And there was no editor who was sufficiently bothered that one name on the byline, Emily Bazelon, was a partisan who had argued on Twitter that Kavanaugh would “harm the democratic process & prevent a more equal society.”

Let me state this as clearly as I can. It is President Trump’s fondest goal to make his supporters conflate the first sort of story with the second sort of story.
politics  journalism 
october 2018 by ayjay
Cicero "De Officiis" (44 BC)
One thing that reading De Officiis made me wonder is: how far does this pre-‘Modern Moral Order’ book of ethics develops a farmer's rather than a hunter's ethics? I wouldn't want this to become my King Charles' Head where matters of physics, philosophy or morals are concerned, but it is surely a meaningful distinction. So: a hunter's ethics cannot put too high a priority on empathy—identify too closely with your prey and your ability to kill will become impaired, and you'll starve. But the farmer needs to husband his or her empathy: to understand what their crops and livestock need in order to flourish. The hunter needs to track and then overmaster; the farmer needs to slot themselves into the rhythms of the seasons, to attend to the order of nature. The hunter cuts across the natural cycle, sometimes literally so, to wrench life out of nature; the farmer aligns him/herself with the natural cycle to coax nature into doing its thing more fruitfully.

At any rate, I wonder if this may be a way of reading the De Officiis (particularly its Book 1), and its repeated emphasis on Natura.
politics  nature  anthropology  criticism  from instapaper
october 2018 by ayjay
The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough?
What we need, according to Evans, are new, capacious myths to help us think of ourselves in terms of a ‘larger us‘ and in a ‘longer now;’ myths that affirm agency, encourage big picture thinking, and help us envision a ‘better good life’ (against consumerism as the default myth–gap filler). These myths must not only tell us who we are and what kind of world we live in, but also capture our sense of guilt, even grief, for our eco–sinful complicity in environmental degradation. They must give us hope for the future, showing the possibility of redemption, even restoration. I’m with Evans on this last point. Sticking to the strikingly religious language that pervades the entire book, I say: ‘yes and amen.’ Yet I find myself asking if he has overestimated how guilty Westerners actually feel about environmental degradation.
politics  mythology  rhetoric  from instapaper
october 2018 by ayjay
A Reactionary Renaming: Stanford and English Language Politics - BLARB
In short, one of these two men went into battle against Native Americans and it was not Junipero Serra.

The Stanford Advisory Committee acknowledges that larger structural forces were more to blame for the devastation of native communities and cultures than Junipero Serra himself: “Historical references indicate that he combined piety, self-sacrifice, a love for Native Americans, and a religious passion for their salvation with strict and punitive paternalism, sometimes moderated by significant acts of leniency.”

Meanwhile Walter Isaacson, in his highly praised biography, all but ignores Franklin’s role as an armed combatant. “Franklin enjoyed his stint as a frontier commander,” Isaacson writes, focusing on Franklin’s efforts to get militiamen to go to worship services and his interest in the marriage customs of nearby Moravians. “After seven weeks on the frontier, Franklin returned to Philadelphia.”

So while the California Mission system was devastating to native culture and that the Spanish military presence was genocidal, perhaps Serra’s life and work ought to be evaluated in comparison to the Colonial-era Native American experience on the Atlantic coast. The devastation of native communities by English speaking colonists was arguably more brutal.
history  politics  from instapaper
october 2018 by ayjay
China Is Building A “Social Credit” System. So Is The United States.
In the U.S., there is no law against denying the holocaust or hurling racial epithets. What we lack in legal redress, however, we are quickly and successfully suppressing via business, media, and academia. These institutions increasingly find themselves overrun by “internet mobs,” those vicious and fickle masses of self-styled online vigilantes who comb the internet for transgressions by public figures. The pattern is predictable: targets are identified based on their statements or positions, their offenses are amplified on social media, and then a litmus test is presented.
Companies overwhelmingly respond by capitulating. Universities respond by de-platforming speakers, or students drown them out with protest. Though universities have historically been the bastions of rigorous intellectual debate, they are also, like businesses, adapting to their new boundaries. Media entities, especially mainstream ones, more often than not succumb to calls for eliminating perspectives that fall afoul of the approved discourse.
In Stalinist Russia, citizens were encouraged to report their neighbors for “counter-revolutionary” thought or behavior. Mere accusations were often enough to ensure the banishment of the state’s “enemies” to gulags to die of torture, starvation, and disease.

The United States is not Soviet Russia or Maoist China. Neither is modern-day China. Nevertheless, both share outcasting as a potent social and economic weapon. The ruling class in Russia and China was of course the government. In the U.S., where the government is regularly refreshed, our ruling class is comprised of those who define our accepted modes of discourse through the institutions—many of them non-governmental—that they control. While no one serious has suggested the transgressors of today be sentenced to hard labor in a gulag (though certainly some non-serious individuals have), it is alarming how accepting many have become to inflicting on these transgressors a direct hit to their careers as just punishment for their wrongthink. Today’s mob scans and censors the citizenry like past regimes have, except businesses and academia are the enforcement mechanism.
politics  socialmedia  policing 
october 2018 by ayjay
Opinion | The Rich White Civil War - The New York Times
The report, “Hidden Tribes,” breaks Americans into seven groups, from left to right, with names like Traditional Liberals, Moderates, Politically Disengaged and so on. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most active groups are on the extremes — Progressive Activists on the left (8 percent of Americans) and Devoted Conservatives on the right (6 percent).

These two groups are the richest of all the groups. They are the whitest of the groups. Their members have among the highest education levels, and they report high levels of personal security.

We sometimes think of this as a populist moment. But that’s not true. My first big takeaway from “Hidden Tribes” is that our political conflict is primarily a rich, white civil war. It’s between privileged progressives and privileged conservatives.
politics 
october 2018 by ayjay
Should Law Professors Sign Letters on Public Issues if They Don't Fully Agree with the Letters?
The letter's attack on Kavanaugh's tempermament starts with this: "The question at issue was of course painful for anyone. But Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners." Whatever one thinks of Kavanaugh in general, or his temperament more specifically, or his temperament during his testimony even more specifically, this line of attack is absurd. The "question at issue" was whether Kavanaugh was a violent sexual predator. He completely denied it. If Kavanaugh was telling the truth, there was no reason for him to have a commitment to any further "inquiry," judicious or not, nor to be open to a "search for accuracy," because he already knew that the "issue at hand" was malicious slander. If he was lying, then the issue was his lying, not his temperament.
politics 
october 2018 by ayjay
There is no cleaning up this Brett Kavanaugh mess - The Washington Post
So I hope that when he becomes Justice Kavanaugh, he will remember what the past three weeks revealed: just how much rage is waiting to erupt at a moment’s notice, and just how frayed are the ties that bind us together as a nation. I hope that, having seen how bad things can get, he will be wary of any sweeping action that makes them worse.

And because I am an optimist, I even dare hope for one more thing: that one day, when Justice Kavanaugh finds himself hearing the appeal of some criminal defendant, he’ll think back to his own moment in the dock. And that, remembering how it felt to be facing a hostile jury with his entire world hanging in the balance, he’ll find a little extra room for mercy in the law.
politics 
october 2018 by ayjay
Rage Politics on the Left | R. R. Reno | First Things
Donald Trump raises the emotional stakes of political debate. This has been the key to his political success. But his success has come at a cost. Trump’s politics of rage unsettles establishment Republicans. Staid suburban voters who are moderate conservatives see Trump as a destabilizing figure in our body politic, putting a hard ceiling on his support.

In this context, Democrats have much to gain by presenting themselves as the responsible adults, the ego to Trump’s id. Dianne Feinstein and most other Democratic leaders are ultra-establishment figures with no interest in upheaval. Soon they will pivot back to playing the “responsible party” against Trump and Republican “extremism.” But the rage on display during the Kavanaugh hearings will not be easy to contain. It is fueling Leftist populism, which is on the rise. It highlights the Left’s own destabilizing politics of rage and destruction.

Ever since Trump’s ascent, the strongest arguments against him have focused on his temperamental unfitness for the presidency and his polarizing effect on our society. These are arguments for establishment competence and sobriety. In the aftermath of the rage-driven strategy to derail Kavanaugh’s appointment (quite different from the quiet, procedural tactics of Mitch McConnell, which derailed Merrick Garland’s appointment), these arguments are harder to make.

The Democrats may imagine that they, like Trump, will benefit from the politics of rage. But the Democrats’ power flows from their monopoly on the “responsible center.” The last season of leftwing rage came as the 1960s crashed to a close, and it did great harm to the Democratic Party. This time is different, in that both sides are drawing upon reservoirs of rage. But in my estimation, the Democrats will suffer more than the Republicans, because the Democrats have long been the establishment party. The politics of rage are far more likely to undermine than to renew the Ivy League–Goldman Sachs–Silicon Valley liberalism that has stood astride our politics since 1945, for rage always upsets the calculations by which establishments maintain their grip.
politics  anger 
october 2018 by ayjay
Brett Kavanaugh and the Problem With #BelieveSurvivors - The Atlantic
Hamill also described to me the undermining effects of unreliable procedures. “There is not a feeling of fundamental fairness in college settings a lot of the time,” she said, “and so then the results often feel illegitimate or not credible.” She added that she welcomed the voices of women in society at large telling their stories, but urged that we should not repeat the mistakes made under Title IX. “You have to have integrity to a process that allows people to bring their claims forward but also allows for the accused to meaningfully defend themselves.”

This should have been the lesson that emerged from the resignation from the U.S. Senate of the Democrat Al Franken of Minnesota. Last year, Franken was publicly accused by several women of grabbing them while being photographed together. He welcomed the Senate Ethics Committee inquiry that was underway, saying he was confident it would clear him. But last December, after another woman came forward, Gillibrand became the first senator to announce that Franken should quit immediately, declaring that she believed the women. Other Democratic senators quickly joined the call, and Franken soon resigned. His departure, though, has continued to leave many Democrats uneasy about both its abruptness and the unresolved questions about the allegations.

We don’t even have to imagine the dangers of a system based on automatic belief—Britain recently experienced a national scandal over such policies. After widespread adoption of a rule that law enforcement must believe reports of sexual violation, police failed to properly investigate claims and ignored exculpatory evidence. Dozens of prosecutions collapsed as a result, and the head of an organization of people abused in childhood urged that the police return to a neutral stance. Biased investigations and prosecutions, he said, create miscarriages of justice that undermine the credibility of all accusers.

The legitimacy and credibility of our institutions are rapidly eroding. It is a difficult and brave thing for victims of sexual violence to step forward and exercise their rights to seek justice. When they do, we should make sure our system honors justice’s most basic principles.
politics  sexism  abuse 
october 2018 by ayjay
The Ivy League is the problem
Indeed, "quality of education" is in some ways a canard. Obviously we want capable, intelligent people in positions of high influence. But just as important (and probably rarer) are decency, honesty, humility, integrity, and all the other virtues. In a country of 325 million people it is flatly impossible that the nine people on the Supreme Court will be the absolute "best" lawyers in the land, if such a thing could even be defined.

We should want people who do land on the court to recognize their inescapable colossal good fortune, and take it into account when making decisions. What we actually have is an aristocratic conspiracy of privilege masquerading as a talent search — with the side effect of producing elites who have invested vast effort into apple-polishing and networking.

There are two main ways this conspiracy perpetuates itself. First is Ivy Leaguers who got their jobs thanks to connections handing jobs to Ivy Leaguers coming up behind them — disguised somewhat behind a meritocratic veneer and including a few high-achieving children of working-class parents, like Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Second is the ridiculously inflated reputation of an Ivy League education, maintained through the inarguable success of the patronage networks, the schools using their vast resources to game college rankings, and the arrogance of the graduates. This applies especially within the Ivy League itself, where Princeton is regularly denigrated, even by Douthat. (You can't have winners without losers.)
politics  academentia  status  class 
october 2018 by ayjay
Brett Kavanaugh & American Politics: The Situation Can Only Get Worse | National Review
From this distance, it seems to me that it is not only Judge Kavanaugh who has been put in “zugzwang,” but the whole nation. Every which way it now turns — at the political and judicial level — will only make the situation worse. For instance, people might choose to sink even lower than the depths that their opponents are plumbing. Or people could try to take the moral high ground, which at this stage would be akin to allowing a political massacre.

The only obvious upshots are an ever-increasing layer of public distrust and cynicism and an ever-greater dearth of sane people willing to volunteer for any role in public life. But as Kevin Myers showed, for a society not to spin its way down into any and every madness, it has to have at least some agreement on basic mores and facts. It is hard to find an area of American public life that does any longer. And that is a fact that should worry America’s friends as well as its citizens.
politics 
october 2018 by ayjay
The New American Anti-Humanism – Jacob Siegel
What makes today so different from past surges of populist and anti-humanist politics is two things. One is the way, in their joint attack on the center, they have become wrapped around each other. The other has to do with the hyperliberal, oppositional politics of the New Left that has captured much of the Western ruling class. The result is a modern liberal establishment that is uniquely unprepared to defend itself, at a moment of massive transformation of the basic material conditions on which liberalism is based.

The anti-humanist critique of Enlightenment rationalism as inherently totalitarian fits quite well with the racial epistemology and authoritarianism of the alt-right. As a result, nominally antithetical political claims can sound indistinguishable—resting as they do on common philosophical sources. The alt-right, for instance, is unique in the history of American conservative movements for openly drawing influence from the work of Frankfurt School theorists like Adorno and Horkheimer. Similarly, in an article about the resonances between Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ideas and those of white identitarians, Thomas Chatterton Williams wrote that while Coates’ work, “is not at all morally equivalent, it is nonetheless in sync with the toxic premises of white supremacism. Both sides eagerly reduce people to abstract color categories, all the while feeding off of and legitimizing each other, while those of us searching for gray areas and common ground get devoured twice.”
politics  populism 
august 2018 by ayjay
An Anatomy of Radicalism - American Affairs Journal
In Young Radicals, Jeremy McCarter explores the lives and views of five American radicals, who thought that society had to be remade in fundamental ways. John Reed, Alice Paul, Raymond Bourne, Max Eastman, and Walter Lippmann are his cast of characters. I want to use McCarter’s account to cast light on five enduring radical “types”: Manicheans, democrats, identitarians, propagandists, and technocrats. All of them should be immediately recognizable today, especially on the political left. (Importantly, we can find analogues on the right as well.)

I will suggest, with some qualifications, that we do not need Manicheans, propagandists, and identitarians. (I will be especially hard on the first and last of these.) But we do need democrats, or at least a certain kind of them. Insofar as she opposed something like a caste system, Alice Paul was an American hero. We also need technocrats, whom we will not be able to categorize in ideological terms. In a period in which expertise of all kinds is under serious pressure, we are past due for a Lippmann revival. Some of his work is clunky, and some of it seems dry and desiccated; it is not exactly teeming with life. But it speaks directly to our current situation. [...]

But Lippmann was on to something important, and too often neglected. We are used to thinking that large-scale questions legitimately split people with different political convictions, and that what separates citizens, and nations, are values, not facts. But think about air pollution, food safety, infrastructure reform, the opioid epidemic, increases in the minimum wage, and highway deaths. If we can agree on the facts, it should be possible to agree about what to do, or at least narrow our disagreements.

We live in an era in which experts and technocrats are in disrepute. Obviously they can be arrogant or mistaken. They might act on the basis of their own values and interests, rather than their expertise. But good technocrats are aware of their own fallibility; they have a duty to disclose what they do not know (and to stay in their lanes). It is important to ensure, through institutional design, transparency, and democratic accountability, that they are not empowered to act on the basis of private or ideological interests. All that is true and important. But we need expert help to fix a broken train, to deal with a serious medical problem, or to figure out how to build a skyscraper. Many policy problems are very similar, or even the same. To deal with data privacy, health care reform, and infrastructure improvements, we need specialists who can resolve difficult issues of fact.
Technopoly  politics 
august 2018 by ayjay
How high to dream? | On the rise of human rights
The heart of his argument is that human rights suffered from bad timing. When core documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) were being drafted in the wake of the Second World War, left-wing demands for distributive equality enjoyed a prestige and common currency they now lack. But the opportunity to enshrine those demands explicitly in the Declaration was missed. And if the drafters were open to them, it was only in limited terms: as demands for equalization within nation states, not between them. Moreover, when calls for international equality finally began to gain currency in the 1970s – partly due to energetic pleading on the part of newly assertive and historically disadvantaged postcolonial states – the timing wasn’t quite right.
history  politics  rights 
august 2018 by ayjay
How Donald Trump hacked the media - Vox
It is hard to read this paragraph from Postman without feeling he is speaking specifically about us:
When Orwell wrote in his famous essay “The Politics of the English Language” that politics has become a matter of “defending the indefensible,” he was assuming that politics would remain a distinct, although corrupted, mode of discourse. His contempt was aimed at those politicians who would use sophisticated versions of the age-old arts of double-think, propaganda and deceit. That the defense of the indefensible would be conducted as a form of amusement did not occur to him. He feared the politician as deceiver, not as entertainer.

The chaotic swirl of information, anger, conflict, identity, performance, and trivia that characterizes Trump’s governance also characterizes the mediums that created him. For all the talk of normalizing Trump, it was our normalization of the platforms he thrived on — reality television, cable news, and Twitter — that made Trump possible. Could Trump have won the Republican primary and the presidency in the days before he could call into cable news shows at will, get his rallies carried live on television, drive media coverage from the comfort of his Twitter account? Could he have won if we hadn’t come to see our politicians as entertainers, to believe conflict the true story of governance, to connect the quantity of media coverage with the quality of candidates? I doubt it.
politics 
august 2018 by ayjay
Trump Turns the Power of the Government Against His Foes
On the one hand, no one wants a partisanship that takes no prisoners when parties exchange office. But this is not a normal time, and unfortunately, the Republican Party is no longer a normal party, but the compliant and spineless possession of a political buccaneer. It may not be entirely improper to teach the lesson that if you sign up with an administration so utterly lacking in decency, so contemptuous of historical norms of bipartisanship in national security, so lacking in consideration for critics and defeated opponents, you are not going to be treated with the respect normally accorded to senior members of the loyal opposition. The men and women in the shadows, who for the sake of a corner office and an official car and a high title have held their tongues and dishonored their principles, might want to think about that when Sanders tells her next lie.
politics  from instapaper
july 2018 by ayjay
Opinion | Whatever Happened to Moral Rigor?
If even a fraction of the charges against him are true, Mr. Weinstein should be banished to the distant reaches of society. But however justice is finally administered in his case, we should try to grasp what social and psychological forces made him what he is, without the shrill, distracting din of moral denunciation forbidding us from doing so.

In matters of law and public morality, let justice take its course along the lines of due process and fair play. But in the realm of the free operation of intellect and imagination that is culture, let there bloom the suspension of moral judgment for the sake of a better understanding of our moral natures. It’s not because we owe anything to the likes of Harvey Weinstein; it’s because of what we owe ourselves.
ethics  politics  from instapaper
july 2018 by ayjay
1462317X.2018.1476053
One of the more worrisome findings to come out of recent opinion polling is this: amongst white evangelicals, approval of Trump’s performance is now approaching 80%. In some ways, this is perfectly understandable. Trump has gone out of his way to shore up his (white) evangelical base. Amongst other things, he has assiduously courted (white) evangelical leaders and nominated many pro-life judges to the federal bench.

But in other ways, this continued support is completely incomprehensible. For Trump has also gone out of his way to attack the norms and institutions of American democracy. He has repeatedly lied to the American public and incessantly attacked the press and the judiciary. To say nothing of his personal and business conduct. Evidently, many American evangelicals have decided that achieving their policy goals is more important than protecting our democratic institutions.

Perhaps we should not be so surprised by this. After all, there is no necessary relationship between Christianity and democracy, either theologically or historically. The Christian scriptures are filled with talk of kingship and lordship, and Christian institutions were long conjoined with monarchical ones.
evangelical  politics  from instapaper
july 2018 by ayjay
Informational Autocrats
In recent decades, dictatorships based on mass repression have largely given way to a new model based on the manipulation of information. Instead of terrorizing citizens into submission, "informational autocrats" artificially boost their popularity by convincing the public they are competent. To do so, they use propaganda and silence informed members of the elite by co-optation or censorship. Using several sources--including a newly created dataset of authoritarian control techniques--we document a range of trends in recent autocracies that fit the theory: a decline in violence, efforts to conceal state repression, rejection of official ideologies, imitation of democracy, a perceptions gap between masses and elite, and the adoption by leaders of a rhetoric of performance rather than one aimed at inspiring fear.
politics  information  propaganda 
july 2018 by ayjay
LRB · John Lanchester · After the Fall
In recent decades, elites seem to have moved from defending capitalism on moral grounds to defending it on the grounds of realism. They say: this is just the way the world works. This is the reality of modern markets. We have to have a competitive economy. We are competing with China, we are competing with India, we have hungry rivals and we have to be realistic about how hard we have to work, how well we can pay ourselves, how lavish we can afford our welfare states to be, and face facts about what’s going to happen to the jobs that are currently done by a local workforce but could be outsourced to a cheaper international one. These are not moral justifications. The ethical defence of capitalism is an important thing to have inadvertently conceded. The moral basis of a society, its sense of its own ethical identity, can’t just be: ‘This is the way the world is, deal with it.’
economics  politics  from instapaper
july 2018 by ayjay
Christians & the Death Penalty | Commonweal Magazine
Let us grant, for argument’s sake, that the death penalty is indeed a just and proportionate response to willful murder. So what? That has never been the issue for Christians, for the simple reason that the Gospel does not admit the authority of proportional justice, as either a private or a public good. The whole of the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, is a shocking subversion of the entire idea. Christ repeatedly and explicitly forbids the application of such punishment, even when (as in the case of the adulterous woman) this means contradicting the explicit commands of the Law of Moses regarding public order and divinely ordained retribution. According to Paul, all who sin stand under a just sentence of death, but that sentence has been rescinded purely out of the unmerited grace of divine mercy. This is because the full wrath of the Law has been exhausted by Christ’s loving surrender to the Cross. Again and again, the New Testament demands of Christians that they exercise limitless forgiveness, no matter how grievous the wrong, even in legal and public settings. And it insists that, for the Christian, mercy always triumphs over judgment. In a very real sense, Christian morality is nothing but the conquest of proportional justice by the disproportion of divine love.
theology  politics  from instapaper
april 2018 by ayjay
1968 and the summer of our discontent
The British ’68 took a somewhat different form. There was a fundamental division between the working forces and the educational establishment, nicely illustrated by Vinen: at the end of the 1970s, the quarter of a million members of the National Union of Mineworkers contained 15 members of Militant Tendency, nine members of the Socialist Workers Party, and five members of the International Marxist Group. ‘There were fewer Trotskyists in the most important of British trade unions than there were among the staff at North London Polytechnic.’

By contrast, only 2 per cent of students matriculating at Essex in 1968 described themselves as Labour supporters rather than ‘non-party extreme/moderate left’. The occasional Maoist sociology student who tried to reach out to the labouring classes met with, it is fair to say, a ribald or bemused reception. Perhaps the single most effective limit on student protest was the curious English habit that meant that students lived on campus during term time, and went home to mum and dad during the vacation. A Sussex sociologist — not always, despite the impression, the most radical members of staff — observed that ‘the one redeeming feature of all the unrest is that revolutions always go on holiday’.
history  politics  England 
april 2018 by ayjay
This is the single most alarming thing Trump has done
Under Trump, Fox News has evolved into something like a state-media outlet, marching in rigid lock-step with a Trumpified Republican Party. And now this model is metastasizing, as Sinclair's right-wing management enforces a rigid political line on hundreds of local news broadcasts while threatening with severe monetary penalties employees who might be inclined to resist the policy.

What's even worse is that Trump is actively urging his FCC to approve Sinclair's purchase of a network of Tribune stations that will increase the company's reach to three quarters of American households. This can only be described as an effort to establish a nationwide propaganda network that seeks to advance the agenda and political prospects of the president and the Republican Party.

If the effort succeeds, it will stand as one of the most blatant efforts yet on the part of the president to actively manipulate public opinion by uniting the formidable powers of the executive branch and the Twitter-based bully pulpit with the crucial support of wealthy allies in business and media.
politics 
april 2018 by ayjay
British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s praise for dictators and extremists should be disqualifying.
Whereas Trump has merely expressed warm feelings for authoritarian leaders, Corbyn actually spent decades promoting, organizing alongside, and “normalizing” all manner of illiberal regimes and terrorist organizations. During the worst years of Northern Ireland’s “Troubles,” Corbyn was a vocal champion of the Irish Republican Army, inviting several of its leaders to Parliament just weeks after one of its bombs nearly killed then–Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. For the four years prior to his becoming Labour leader, Corbyn was chair of the Stop the War Coalition, essentially a communist front organization whose rote opposition to any and all Western military intervention bleeds into shilling for a variety of terrorist movements and dictators, from the Iraqi insurgency to Syria’s mass-murdering Bashar al-Assad. Not only did Corbyn accept up to 20,000 pounds (about $25,600) for appearances on the Iranian state-sponsored propaganda network Press TV, he once praised the Iranian regime’s “inclusivity and tolerance.”

When Venezuelan strongman Chávez died in 2013, Corbyn declared that the strongman was an “inspiration to all of us fighting back against neoliberalism and austerity in Europe and showing us there is a better way of doing things. It’s called socialism, it’s called social justice, and it’s something that Venezuela has made a big step towards.” (Asked recently by the BBC if his politics were closer to that of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair or the Venezuelan regime, a Corbynite MP refused to answer). Corbyn similarly described Fidel Castro as a “champion of social justice.” And although Corbyn has demanded that Blair be brought to The Hague on war crimes charges, he denies that the ex-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was a war criminal. In 2005, Corbyn sponsored a parliamentary motion referring to “a ‘genocide’ that never really existed in Kosovo.”
politics  England 
march 2018 by ayjay
Hurrah for the First Amendment, but...
Last year, the pollster Karlyn Bowman and her team at the American Enterprise Institute looked into the history of our support for the right to free speech. They found a Gallup poll dating back to 1938, the very dawn of scientific polling. It showed that 96 percent of those responding—pretty much everybody—said they believed in freedom of speech. Meanwhile, more than half of them insisted that Communists shouldn’t be allowed to “express their views in [their] community.” Another survey 16 years later showed the same overwhelming declarations of devotion to the First Amendment. Even so, 89 percent of respondents thought a Communist caught teaching in a college should be fired, and a majority thought books by Communists should be removed from the public library. [...]

It should be obvious that no multicultural paradise would be possible at all if its citizens weren’t free to peaceably express their diverse views. Free speech is prior to diversity, as the philosophers say. It is a necessary condition of diversity, and probably diversity’s greatest guarantor. To extol inclusion at the expense of speech is incoherent and unserious—a mere reflex of campus ideology in our era of discontent.
freespeech  politics  from instapaper
march 2018 by ayjay
Enough With the Secular Saints | commentary
Ian n online essay Monday, the New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead compared Emma González, the Stoneman Douglas senior-turned-March for Our Lives leader, to Joan of Arc—a literal saint of the Roman Catholic Church. Mead reflected on the facial similarities between Gonzalez and Renée Maria Falconetti, the actress who played the French saint in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent-film masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Dreyer’s Saint Joan, Mead argued,
has the privileged knowledge of the inspired, not the earned knowledge of the experienced. The young people of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have already experienced more than their elders would wish upon them; their innocence is lost. Yet, like all young people, they’ve retained faith in their generation’s unique ability to challenge and rectify the failures of their elders. . . . Our urgent need for the illumination that [such youth] seem to offer—for the blunt, righteous conviction they uphold—is another indication, were it needed, that a new kind of medievalism is upon us. Our potential saviors gleam all the more brightly against the pervasive political and civic darkness of the moment.

Mead’s was only the most extreme (and wild-eyed) example of such beatification. Most mainstream outlets didn’t go nearly as far. Nevertheless, the overall tone of the coverage was reverent, full of awe and piety and sacred devotion—the kinds of emotions that used to be reserved for, well, religious subjects.
politics 
march 2018 by ayjay
It’s Time to Regulate the Internet
The time has arrived for the United States to create its own regulatory infrastructure, designed to accord with our own values and traditions—a Data Protection Authority. That moniker, as I wrote in my book World Without Mind, contains an intentional echo of the governmental bureau that enforces environmental safeguards. There’s a parallel between the environment and privacy. Both are goods that the unimpeded market would ruin. Indeed, we let business degrade the air, waters, and forests. Yet we also impose crucial constraints on environmental exploitation for commercial gain, and we need the same for privacy. As in Europe, citizens should have the right to purge data that sits on pack-rat servers. Companies should be required to set default options so that citizens have to affirmatively opt for surveillance rather than passively accept the loss of privacy.
internet  politics  from instapaper
march 2018 by ayjay
Human Rights Are Not Enough
From Karl Marx on, some on the left have claimed that either the idea of individual rights or the contemporary human-rights movement (or both) works in the service of capitalism. Yet human rights did not bring about the neoliberal age, despite sharing a moral individualism and often the same suspicion of collectivist projects like nationalism and socialism. It was also not the job of human-rights activists struggling to invent a new brand of global concern to save the left from its failures and mistakes. It is hardly fair to treat human rights as a scapegoat for the reversals of progressive politics. Indeed, there is no reason to think that a human rights that stigmatizes “superficial” abuses could not coexist with a more “structural” politics.

Furthermore, the human-rights movement has brought scrutiny not merely to state violence around the world but to the profound failures of states to treat their citizens equally no matter their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Activists have also started to prioritize economic and social rights, from employment to housing to food. And, in fact, for all their sins, neoliberal policies have helped to fulfill some of the wildest dreams of human-rights advocates: China’s marketization, for instance, has brought more human beings out of poverty than any other force in history. But without reflecting on why human-rights movements have been able to coexist so comfortably with neoliberal regimes, there is no way to redirect our politics toward a new agenda of economic fairness.
politics  rights  from instapaper
march 2018 by ayjay
The Anti-Free Trade Populists Must Be Defeated, Not Contained
Populist attacks on the Western-led international order don’t begin and end with free trade; they are aimed at the fundamental assumptions upon which the classically liberal democratic ideal is based. As Mounk concluded, it is, thus, necessary to contain this ideological impulse’s most dangerous excesses. He recommended subversion and assimilation, but there is another approach that is based on a rational hard-power calculation. Classical liberalism’s winners vastly outnumber its losers, and it is the populist nationalist alternative that cannot be accommodated. But it can, and therefore should, be defeated.

Humility and passivity do not well serve those who truly believe the liberal capitalist order hammered out after the Second World War is of the greatest benefit to the greatest number. Concessions to illiberal populists or chauvinistic nationalists should not be the product of charity or self-doubt. They should be hard-won, and only after a bitterly contested ordeal.
politics  election2016  from instapaper
march 2018 by ayjay
Amartya Sen on 'Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny'
Any classification according to a singular identity polarizes people in a particular way, but if we take note of the fact that we havc many different identities - related not just to religion but also to language, occupation and business, politics, class and poverty, and many others - we can see that the polarization of one can be resisted by a fuller picture. So knowledge and understanding are extremely important to fight against singular polarization.

I remember being struck as a child in undivided India during the Hindu-Muslim riots of the 1940s (which I witnessed in Bengal) that the victims very often shared a class identity - the killed people were typically the Muslim poor and the Hindu poor. They also shared a non-religious cultural identity - particularly the Bengali language. Not surprisingly, therefore, as language and culture became more important in Bagladesh (its separation from Pakistan was not linked with religion but with language, literature and politics) and as the Indian part of Bengal pursued politics in which class and poverty became the dominant concerns, the Hindu-Muslim divide became far less sharp (there has been no recurrence of such violence in either part of Bengal over the last half a century). Similarly, a shared business concern does a lot to reduce the force of religion-based divisions in, say, Singapore or Malaysia, despite fomentation by religious ideologues.
politics  culture  identity 
march 2018 by ayjay
Andrew Sullivan: The World Is Better Than Ever. Why Are We Miserable?
Pinker’s sole response to this argument — insofar as he even acknowledges it — is to cite data showing statistical evidence of rising levels of a sense of well-being in one’s life across the world. And this is a valid point. But Pinker seems immune to the idea of paradox, irony, or unintended consequences. He doesn’t have a way of explaining why, for example, there is so much profound discontent, depression, drug abuse, despair, addiction, and loneliness in the most advanced liberal societies. His response to the sixth great mass extinction of the Earth’s species at the hands of humans is to propose that better environmental technology will somehow solve it — just as pharmaceuticals will solve unhappiness. His general view is that life is simply a series of “problems” that reason can “solve” — and has solved. What he doesn’t fully grapple with is that this solution of problems definitionally never ends; that humans adjust to new standards of material well-being and need ever more and more to remain content; that none of this solves the existential reality of our mortality; and that none of it provides spiritual sustenance or meaning. In fact, it might make meaning much harder to attain, hence the trouble in modern souls. [...]

Which is to say that both Pinker and Deneen are right, but Deneen is deeper. Deneen sees paradox in human life, tragedy even; he respects the wisdom of the aeons that Pinker is simply relieved we have left behind; and he has a perspective that Pinker — despite his vast erudition and intelligence — doesn’t seem to grasp. Pinker, for example, has no way to understand our current collective rage — why aren’t we all ecstatic about such huge and continuing “progress”? — unless he blames our gloom and grief and discontent on … bad media. It’s all the journalists’ and intellectuals’ fault for persuading people they’re sad when, in fact, they’re super-happy! And he has a faltering grasp of politics, the cycle of regimes, the vicissitudes of history, the decadence of democracies, or the appeal of tyrants. His view of history is so relentlessly Whiggish it’s almost a self-parody. His understanding of the Enlightenment, as David Bell notes, surgically removes its most popular representative, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who saw from the very beginning the paradoxes of liberty and reason, and, for that matter, Edmond Burke, who instantly realized the terrifying emptiness of modernity, and the furies it might unleash upon us.
politics  scientism  liberalism  enlightenment  from instapaper
march 2018 by ayjay
A Tale of Two Moralities, Part One: Regional Inequality and Moral Polarization
Because “the establishment” (including the Republican political establishment) is relatively cosmopolitan and liberal (in the broad sense), an outpouring of populist anti-establishment sentiment is going to assume a nationalistic, illiberal form more or less by default. The good news is that anti-elite anybody-but-Hillary-ism doesn’t really imply serious public appetite for anything like alt-right authoritarianism. The bad news is that the liberal-democratic capitalist welfare state and the so-called “neoliberal” global order is far and away the best humanity has ever done, and we’ve taken it for granted. We could very well trash it in a fit of pique, and wind up a middle-income kleptocracy boiling with civil strife and/or destabilize the global order in a way that ends in utter horror.

It is very important to keep this from happening! And that means it’s important to understand the mechanisms underlying our cultural and moral polarization. That’s what I’m going to begin to do in this (long!) post, in a preliminary, speculative, exploratory spirit. I want to push a little deeper than the prevailing journalistic narratives have gone, and churn up some credible empirical hypotheses that I hope will help us eventually home in on the correct diagnosis. Then we can hazard some recommendations that may help reduce polarization and mitigate its bad effects. I’ll do that in a future post.
politics 
march 2018 by ayjay
The Good Liberal - The American Interest
Mounk’s policy chops are impressive—the section on housing policy has the virtue of being both interesting and plausible—but after an ambitious buildup, the recommendations seem anticlimactic, the sort of technocratic to-do list that would be well at home on the websites of well-studied Democratic politicians or, for that matter, the Center for American Progress. Like all anti-populists, Mounk is tempted by a narrow instrumentalism. Policy fixes serve no grander narrative and no greater cause; reform is primarily a means to keep populists at bay. To return to politics is to find new ways of ending it. There is little doubt that Mounk would prefer a world without populists. But without energetic challengers, one wonders why the parties of the center-Left and center-Right would so much as consider rethinking their aims.
politics  liberalism  from instapaper
march 2018 by ayjay
A Quiet Exodus: Why Blacks Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches - The New York Times
Then white evangelicals voted for Mr. Trump by a larger margin than they had voted for any presidential candidate. They cheered the outcome, reassuring uneasy fellow worshipers with talk of abortion and religious liberty, about how politics is the art of compromise rather than the ideal. Christians of color, even those who shared these policy preferences, looked at Mr. Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, his open hostility to N.F.L. players protesting police brutality and his earlier “birther” crusade against President Obama, claiming falsely he was not a United States citizen. In this political deal, many concluded, they were the compromised.

“It said, to me, that something is profoundly wrong at the heart of the white church,” said Chanequa Walker-Barnes, a professor of practical theology at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta.

Early last year, Professor Walker-Barnes left the white-majority church where she had been on staff. Like an untold number of black Christians around the country, many of whom had left behind black-majority churches, she is not sure where she belongs anymore.

“We were willing to give up our preferred worship style for the chance to really try to live this vision of beloved community with a diverse group of people,” she said. “That didn’t work.” [...]

“Everything we tried is not working,” said Michael Emerson, the author of “Divided by Faith,” a seminal work on race relations within the evangelical church. “The election itself was the single most harmful event to the whole movement of reconciliation in at least the past 30 years,” he said. “It’s about to completely break apart.”
[this is such a horrific tragedy]
christian  church  race  politics 
march 2018 by ayjay
Liberal Liberation - American Affairs Journal
This premodern Christian understanding of liberty involves limits, but directs those limits toward the higher love that they make possible. More fundamentally, however, the Christian account claims that we attain the fullness of our being only by giving ourselves over to participation in a higher, divine order of life and being that precedes us but draws us ever more deeply into it. It is the divine love that gives being to all things, and that inspires in us love for our neighbors, our family, the created world and especially our local bit of it.

The liberal disembedding mechanism, by contrast, detaches us from the local to deliver us over to loyalty to a state that grants and sustains our existence as individuals. It thus represents a perverse imitation of the Christian liberation. It seeks to substitute itself for Christianity’s communion and to replace this encompassing love with a foundation in distrust. Likewise it replaces communion with an emphasis on “respect” that takes the form of spheres of mutually exclusive rights, negotiated with the backing of the state’s threat of coercion. It resists acknowledging that Christianity might offer a higher principle of belonging, even while claiming to recognize Christianity’s right to exist within the liberal state.
politics  liberalism 
february 2018 by ayjay
Against the Deformations of Liberalism - American Affairs Journal
Perhaps Deneen’s idea of practicing classical and Christian virtues in small, local, communities will help. I do believe that Americans in general need to recover a richer understanding of liberty coupled with responsibility, self-restraint, and practices of virtue. One of the benefits of living in a free, if decadent, liberal society is that Deneen and his readers are at liberty to make such experiments. But by blaming all our ills on liberalism and insisting that its underlying political philosophy is uniformly bankrupt, I doubt that the members of these local communities will do much to improve our political lives. Liberalism is not dead. Rather, it is a set of ever-imperfect political beliefs and practices that hold together awkwardly at best, even when they are not being pushed to excess by ignorant ideologues. Can American liberalism be improved? I do not know. But if it can, it will require political philosophers and statesmen who can heighten Americans’ awareness of the contingency of the freedoms we cherish, of the genuine ingredients of human flourishing, and of the political practices required to make the most of equivocal goods like freedom.
politics  liberalism 
february 2018 by ayjay
Integration from Within - American Affairs Journal
Joseph, Mordecai, Esther, and Daniel, however, mainly attempt to ensure the survival of their faith communities in an interim age of exile and dispossession. They do not evangelize or preach with a view to bringing about the birth of an entirely new regime, from within the old. They mitigate the long defeat for those who become targets of the regime in liberalism’s twilight era, and this will surely have to be the main aim for some time to come. In the much longer run, it is permissible to dream, however fitfully, that other models may one day become relevant, in a postliberal future of uncertain shape. One such model is St. Cecilia, who, forced into marriage against her vows, converted her pagan husband; their joint martyrdom helped to spark the explosive growth of the early church. Another is of course St. Paul himself, who by the end of Acts of the Apostles preached the advent of a new order from within the very urban heart of the imperium.

Here too there is no hint of retreat into localism. There is instead a determination to co-opt and transform the decaying regime from within its own core. It may thus appear providential that liberalism, despite itself, has prepared a state capable of great tasks, as a legacy to bequeath to a new and doubtless very different future. The vast bureaucracy created by liberalism in pursuit of a mirage of depoliticized governance may, by the invisible hand of Providence, be turned to new ends, becoming the great instrument with which to restore a substantive politics of the good.
politics  liberalism 
february 2018 by ayjay
Erick Erickson on Brody and Lamb's spiritual biography of Donald Trump | The Weekly Standard
Brody and Lamb’s book highlights everything wrong with the morphing of American evangelicalism into a post-Jesus cult of personality looking for salvation delivered by politicians—including its hypocrisy and sophistry regarding Trump and morality. The authors quote one evangelical leader saying that evangelicals’ relationship with the president is authentic, not transactional. But a few chapters earlier, the same individual described a conference call he led with the Trump campaign’s evangelical advisers just after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump bragged about assaulting women. During that call, “all of us agreed to stand behind the candidate.” After all, Trump “had sacrificed his entire life, in my viewpoint, and supported us. How could we not support him?”
election2016  evangelical  politics 
february 2018 by ayjay
Open Letter to the Bruin Republicans who invited Milo Yiannopoulos to UCLA | The Weekly Standard
You need to ask yourselves, what is your goal as an organization? If you’re in it for the lulz and just want to see the world burn, then I guess go ahead and bring in a vapid provocateur.

But if your mission is to spread conservative ideas, you should recognize that hosting Yiannopoulos will only render your organization and our ideas toxic. The left often suspects that principled conservative positions are actually borne of racism. Conservatives have traditionally pushed back against this criticism. Here at UCLA, that will be a much less tenable argument for Bruin Republicans to make if they host a talk by someone whose sole recommendation is that his offensiveness to others is his big idea.
politics  academentia 
february 2018 by ayjay
American Journalism as an Institution - Yuval Levin
This understanding of the roles of institutions helps to clarify what trust in an institution might mean. People trust an institution because it seems to have an ethic that makes those within it more trustworthy. People trust political institutions because they are shaped to take seriously some obligation to the public interest as they pursue the work of self-government, and they shape the people who populate them to do the same. People trust the military because it values courage, honor and duty in carrying out the defense of the nation, and forms men and women who do too. People trust a business because it promises quality and integrity in meeting some need, and rewards its employees when they deliver. People trust a university because it is shaped, and shapes those within its orbit in turn, to be devoted to learning and truth. People trust a journalistic institution because it has high standards of honesty in reporting the news that make its work reliable.

People “lose faith” in an institution when they no longer believe it plays this ethical or formative role. One way in which this might happen is when institutions plainly fail to protect the public from avarice or selfishness or vice in the carrying out of their primary purposes, as when a bank cheats its customers or a member of the clergy abuses a vulnerable child. Another is when they simply fail to impose an ethic on the people within them and seem to exist only to serve those individuals’ interests—and as a result seem to be unworthy of trust not because they have failed to earn it but because they appear not to seek or desire it. And something like that is what has been happening to American institutions in recent decades.

In fact, the public’s very understanding of the purpose of institutions has changed subtly but fundamentally. Americans have moved, very roughly speaking, from thinking of institutions as “molds” that shape and form people’s characters and habits toward seeing them as “platforms” that allow people to be themselves before a wider world. The former understanding would have institutions counterbalance individualism; the latter only has them intensify it. And this subtle, gradual change in expectations has driven and magnified the loss of trust in institutions.
journalism  institutions  politics 
february 2018 by ayjay
bell hooks talks to John Perry Barlow
John Perry Barlow: I was just describing you to someone in terms of the externalities that would end up on your curriculum vitae, and the person said, she sounds like your polar opposite. On paper, you are my polar opposite and yet I feel none of that in your presence.

bell hooks: I actually feel that my heart was calling me to you. The first time we were in the same room for a prolonged period of time together, I sought you out. I wanted to hear your story.

John Perry Barlow: I felt the same way.

bell hooks: And what I see in a lot of young folks is this desire to be only with people like themselves and only to have any trust in reaching out to people like themselves. I think, what kind of magic are they going to miss in life?
politics  culture  dialogue  from instapaper
february 2018 by ayjay
Ex-intel chief responds to Trump's 'liar' dig: 'This is normal now'
Trump listed Clapper this week among the “biggest liars and leakers in Washington,” a group that the president said also includes Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan. Asked if the attack bothered him, Clapper said “no, it doesn’t.”

“That, in itself, I think, is kind of a sad commentary. I remember thinking when he tweeted out about Sally Yates and me choking at this hearing, that had I showed up in the oval office in the last administration and President Obama commented to me, ‘hey, you really choked on this hearing,’ I’d have been devastated,” he continued. “But now it doesn't seem to matter and that in itself is a sad commentary because it’s just – this is normal now. And that is part of the regrettable situation we find ourselves in where the discourse in Washington has gotten so crude and so coarse that people are starting to be jaded to it.”
politics  from instapaper
february 2018 by ayjay
Paul Berman: Three Theories of the Rise of Trump – Tablet Magazine
I think we need a Theory No. 3, on top of Nos. 1 and 2. A Theory 3 ought to emphasize still another non-economic and non-industrial factor, apart from marriage, family structure, theology, bad doctors, evil pharmaceutical companies, and racist ideology. This is a broad cultural collapse. It is a collapse, at minimum, of civic knowledge—a collapse in the ability to identify political reality, a collapse in the ability to recall the nature of democracy and the American ideal. An intellectual collapse, ultimately. And the sign of this collapse is an inability to recognize that Donald Trump has the look of a foreign object within the American presidential tradition.

Dimly I recognize that, in presenting my Theory No. 3 in this way, I may have done a less than good job at drawing Trump’s admirers into a healthy debate. The admirers are likely to feel that I have merely thrown insults at them (and perhaps they have found a way to return the favor, which is by voting for Trump). Or they might tell me that, in the 19th century, Andrew Jackson was likewise regarded as a barbarian and a dictator by a certain kind of snob, and so was Abraham Lincoln, and, if America has a quaint and odious political custom, snobbery is it. And, to those complaints and objections, I have no way to respond, except by affirming that Jackson and Lincoln were entirely within the American tradition, and the Mussolinian con man of our own moment comes from a different planet altogether, which ought to be obvious at a glance. But I have to acknowledge that what is obvious to me is invisible to others.
politics 
february 2018 by ayjay
Wittes and Rauch: Boycott the Republican Party - The Atlantic
It’s Trump’s party now; or, perhaps more to the point, it’s Trumpism’s party, because a portion of the base seems eager to out-Trump Trump. In last year’s special election to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, Republican primary voters defied the president himself by nominating a candidate who was openly contemptuous of the rule of law—and many stuck with him when he was credibly alleged to have been a child molester. After initially balking, the Republican Party threw its institutional support behind him too. In Virginia, pressure from the base drove a previously sensible Republican gubernatorial candidate into the fever swamps. Faced with the choice between soul-killing accommodation and futile resistance, many Republican politicians who renounce Trumpism are fleeing the party or exiting politics altogether. Of those who remain, many are fighting for their political lives against a nihilistic insurgency.

So we arrive at a syllogism:

(1) The GOP has become the party of Trumpism.
(2) Trumpism is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.
(3) The Republican Party is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.

If the syllogism holds, then the most-important tasks in U.S. politics right now are to change the Republicans’ trajectory and to deprive them of power in the meantime. In our two-party system, the surest way to accomplish these things is to support the other party, in every race from president to dogcatcher. The goal is to make the Republican Party answerable at every level, exacting a political price so stinging as to force the party back into the democratic fold.
politics 
february 2018 by ayjay
Polarization Is an Old American Story
The most poignant comparison, however, is the bitterness of the divide. For much of the 1790s, neither Adams’s Federalists nor Jefferson’s Republicans “accepted the legitimacy of the other,” Mr. Wood says. “And of course, the Federalists never thought that they were a party. They were the government,” and Jefferson’s Republicans a malignant faction trying to take the government down. The Republicans, for their part, “thought that the Federalists were turning us into a monarchy and reversing the American Revolution.”

We hear plenty of similarly apocalyptic rhetoric today, but much of it is cynical and self-consciously exaggerated. What was striking about the 1790s, Mr. Wood emphasizes, is the extent to which each party sincerely believed the other posed an existential threat.
politics  history  from instapaper
february 2018 by ayjay
Andrew Sullivan: When Two Tribes Go to War
Dominate the news cycles. Do anything to muddy the conflict and to sow suspicion. Lie, if you have to. Exercise not the slightest concern for the stability of the system as a whole — because tribe comes first. Trump, to make things worse, sees no distinction between the tactics he deployed as a private citizen in lawsuits for decades and the tactics he is deploying as president, because he has no conception of a presidency committed first of all to the long-term maintenance of the system rather than the short-term pursuit of personal interest. He simply cannot see the value of institutions that might endure through time, under both parties, as a way to preserve objective fact-finding and the neutral enforcement of justice. All he sees is his own immediate interest, as filtered through his malignant narcissism. Some thought this might change when he became president and realized the gravity of the office. We know now how delusional that idea was. [...]]
[I have yet to speak to a Trump supporter who has any concern whatsoever for damage done to political and social institutions. In fact, most of them seem to rejoice in that damage. I think their indifference is perilously shortsighted.]
politics 
february 2018 by ayjay
Democracy Is Norm Erosion
If your highest value is the preservation of American institutions, the avoidance of “dysfunction,” the discourse of norm erosion makes sense. If it’s democracy, not so much. Sometimes democracy requires the shattering of norms and institutions.

I fully recognize that the devil is in that “sometimes.” Some norms should be shattered, some should not. Some norm erosion undermines democracy, some enhances it. But that’s the real discussion we need to have: not a general toxin against norm erosion as somehow the bane of democracy—which may set us up for a centrist politics but not for a democratic one—but a more normatively informed discussion of what democracy requires.

For now, I’ll merely leave us with this thought: Democracy is a permanent project of norm erosion, forever shattering the norms of hierarchy and domination and the political forms that aid and abet them.
politics  democracy  from instapaper
january 2018 by ayjay
Why Trump Tweets (And Why We Listen) - POLITICO Magazine
Because Trump, by all accounts, spends an inordinate amount of time monitoring the media, the outsized coverage becomes all the more magnified in his mind. And as the signals flow back to him from the press, he is able to fine-tune his tweets to sustain or amplify the coverage. For Trump, in other words, tweeting isn’t just a game of chance. It’s a tool of manipulation. Twitter controls Trump, but Trump also controls Twitter—and, in turn, the national conversation.

It would be a mistake, therefore, to view Trump’s tweeting as merely the expression of mindless urges, even if it often has the self-destructive quality of an addiction. Something psychologically darker, and politically more perilous, is at work. Twitter has become the flywheel of a potent call-and-response feedback loop that the president commands and can use, seemingly at whim, to manipulate the press and the public. He has learned, as candidate and even more so as president, that certain types of tweets (the abrasive, taunting ones, usually) at certain times of day (the crack of dawn, if you want to set the daily news agenda) tend to produce the biggest, longest-lasting media buzz. And so those are the tweets he routinely delivers, sometimes singly and sometimes by the fistful.

Twitter feeds Trump’s craving for power as well as his craving for attention, and that’s a dangerously combustible blend.
politics  twitter  socialmedia 
january 2018 by ayjay
Select Works of Edmund Burke, vol. 1 (Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents; Two Speeches on America) - Online Library of Liberty
There are but very few, who are capable of comparing and digesting what passes before their eyes at different times and occasions, so as to form the whole into a distinct system. But in books everything is settled for them, without the exertion of any considerable diligence or sagacity. For which reason men are wise with but little reflexion, and good with little self-denial, in the business of all times except their own. We are very uncorrupt and tolerably enlightened judges of the transactions of past ages; where no passions deceive, and where the whole train of circumstances, from the trifling cause to the tragical event, is set in an orderly series before us. Few are the partizans of departed tyranny; and to be a Whig on the business of an hundred years ago, is very consistent with every advantage of present servility. This retrospective wisdom, and historical patriotism, are things of wonderful convenience; and serve admirably to reconcile the old quarrel between speculation and practice. Many a stern republican, after gorging himself with a full feast of admiration of the Grecian commonwealths and of our true Saxon constitution, and discharging all the splendid bile of his virtuous indignation on King John and King James, sits down perfectly satisfied to the coarsest work and homeliest job of the day he lives in. I believe there was no professed admirer of Henry the Eighth among the instruments of the last King James; nor in the court of Henry the Eighth was there, I dare say, to be found a single advocate for the favourites of Richard the Second. [...]

For ambition, though it has ever the same general views, has not at all times the same means, nor the same particular objects. A great deal of the furniture of ancient tyranny is worn to rags; the rest is entirely out of fashion. Besides, there are few Statesmen so very clumsy and awkward in their business, as to fall into the identical snare which has proved fatal to their predecessors. When an arbitrary imposition is attempted upon the subject, undoubtedly it will not bear on its forehead the name of *Ship-money*. There is no danger that an extension of the *Forest laws* should be the chosen mode of oppression in this age. And when we hear any instance of ministerial rapacity, to the prejudice of the rights of private life, it will certainly not be the exaction of two hundred pullets, from a woman of fashion, for leave to lye with her own husband.
[Everyone sees previous tyrannies for what they are, and so convince themselves, without real warrant, that they are alert to present ones.]
history  politics 
january 2018 by ayjay
A Strategy for Ruination | Boston Review
CM: Salvage keeps me going. And obviously not only me: clearly also, for example, my collaborator (and coiner of the term “salvagepunk”) Evan Calder Williams, and my comrades at the journal Salvage, particularly Rosie Warren, Richard Seymour, and Jamie Allinson.

Why is not quite clear: there is always something evasive about why particular metaphors resonate as they do. Which is fine by me. Of the various concepts that are politically/aesthetically powerful and formative—helpful—to me, salvage has for a long time been primus inter pares. Word-magic. A retconned syncretic backformation from “salvation” and “garbage.” A homage to, rather than repudiation of, the trash-world wanderers and breakfasters-among-the-ruins that always transfixed me. An undefeated despair: “despair” because it’s done, this is a dystopia, a worsening one, and dreams of interceding just in time don’t just miss the point but are actively unhelpful; “undefeated” because it is worth fighting even for ashes, because there are better and much, much worse ways of being too late. Because *and yet*.
politics  from instapaper
january 2018 by ayjay
Don't Be Evil
It's worth pointing out that this tradition, at least in the communes, has a terrible legacy. The communes were, ironically, extraordinarily conservative.

When you take away bureaucracy and hierarchy and politics, you take away the ability to negotiate the distribution of resources on explicit terms. And you replace it with charisma, with cool, with shared but unspoken perceptions of power. You replace it with the cultural forces that guide our behavior in the absence of rules.

So suddenly you get these charismatic men running communes—and women in the back having babies and putting bleach in the water to keep people from getting sick. Many of the communes of the 1960s were among the most racially segregated, heteronormative, and authoritarian spaces I've ever looked at.
politics  culture  ethics  from instapaper
january 2018 by ayjay
Intimations of Fascism | Mark Edmundson
Fascists love order—and they are willing to create chaos to achieve it. But I think that you come closer to the heart of the matter when you recognize that the urge to be right and to do ill at the same time, and do it collectively and under the auspices of a leader, is the fundamental drive at the heart of fascism. The antifa, who engaged in street fighting with the neo-fascists in Charlottesville, are not overtly fascist: they have no leaders from what one can tell, they do not cherish racial homogeneity, or aggressive nationalism. But the collective hunger simultaneously to do harm and be righteous makes them allies under the skin with their neo-fascist foes.
politics  from instapaper
december 2017 by ayjay
Rock-and-Roll Editor
It’s an old story by now, the hypocrisy of boomer liberalism, and I’m sure millennials can’t wait to see the last of it—the generation of feminists who forgave goatish politicians so long as they defended abortion on demand; or the environmentalists who burned a year’s worth of fossil fuel flying their Gulfstreams to global warming conferences; or the scourges of the uneven distribution of the nation’s wealth who took their income as capital gains so it would be taxed at a lower rate. Wenner showed them how to pull it off with a clear conscience; he built his magazine as a kind of roadmap. In Rolling Stone you could become outraged over the greed of other people—RS’s massive investigative articles always had the same villains (businessmen) and the same victims (noble working folk)—and still linger over the ads for a customized Rolex or that charming new resort in Aruba. You could have your cake and eat it too. Expressing the proper opinions made it possible, so long as they didn’t get out of hand.
politics  liberalism  from instapaper
december 2017 by ayjay
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