Discover more from In My Tribe
Keeping up with the FITs, 6/16
Andrew Sullivan on cultural shift; Anonymous on the Gossip Trap; Robert P. George on Princeton; Max Borders on Mencius Moldbug
Recent polling suggests a sea-change in attitudes. Pew found that only three percent of African-Americans put “racism/diversity/culture” as the most important issue to them while 17 percent cited “violence/crime,” and 11 percent said “economic issues.” (Among Democrats overall, “49% now view racism as a major problem, down from 67% about a year ago.”) New York City voters now put “crime” ahead of “racial inequality” as their most urgent concern by a huge ratio of 12:1. Polling in San Francisco found that 67 percent of Asian-Americans wanted Boudin gone — a sign that the Democrats’ ascendant coalition of non-whites is now fast-descendant.
My line is that people are tired of disorder. This does not bode well for Democrats, but it also does not bode well for Donald Trump, who can hardly be said to have restoring order as part of his brand.
Being in the Gossip Trap means reputational management imposes such a steep slope you can’t climb out of it, and essentially prevents the development of anything interesting, like art or culture or new ideas or new developments or anything at all. Everyone just lives like crabs in a bucket, pulling each other down. All cognitive resources go to reputation management in the group, leaving nothing left in the tank for invention or creativity or art or engineering.
One advantage of old-fashioned institutional hierarchies is that they have structures that can resist the Gossip Trap. They have standards of conduct that punish the “crabs in a bucket.” Even the WaPo recently fired the reporter who was intent on pulling down her colleagues.
There is no question in my mind as to whether Katz was defamed—treatment exacerbated by the fact that the freshman-orientation materials are promulgated to a captive student audience. Nor am I in any doubt as to whether the underlying motives were malicious. The bowdlerization of Professor Katz’s words was done with the evident intention of depicting him as racist—which he is not. The only real questions are who is responsible, and what is the proper disciplinary action under the university’s rules.
If Princeton bureaucrats, whoever they are, can get away with retaliating against a professor for his protected speech by smearing him in this way, then the university’s formal free-speech protections are mere parchment guarantees. President Eisgruber, himself an eminent First Amendment scholar, should understand what is at stake here.
Democracy, he points out, tends to produce a tyranny of consensus or a tyranny of the majority. And here, he surely has a point. Excluding those who apotheosize democracy, most of us are painfully aware that our system shores up an oligarchy—a peculiarly American collusion between power and money. Corporate types are attracted to government types, and true power slinks from that coital bed. The upshot is that elections are mostly rituals that permit us to shed teardrops into the ocean and hope the tide will turn. It rarely does.
Borders is referring to Curtis Yarvin. Borders criticizes Yarvin’s monarchism.
Even if a CEO-king is good at beating back checks on power or overcoming deep-state obstructions, he will never be smart enough to design, run, or fix a complex adaptive system. As Horwitz reminds us in “Companies are Not Countries,” “the perspective of the businessperson is not helpful for understanding economies as a whole.”
I wish we were offered the option of a tightly circumscribed central government, embedded in a culture where people only turn to that government as a last resort. But we have created a monster, and the question is how best to tame it.
I sometimes describe the COO/CA model as Moldbug Lite. But I agree with Borders that we should not think in terms of government running the economy. The challenge for the COO is to oversee the government, to get agencies to just do their jobs and stop running amok.