The Zvi on the Easterlin Paradox; Richard Hanania and Eric Kaufmann; Hanania on the New Right, two essays; Jonathan Rauch talks with Brian Chau;
I was a grad student in economics when subjective happiness research was starting to become a thing. Easterlin gave a seminar on his paper at my university. I stood up during the Q/A and asked basically what you've said above: What exactly do you mean by "happiness" and how can you be sure that different people or different groups of people are interpreting it the same way?
He brushed me off fairly quickly without even attempting to address the question. I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but I very much got the impression that he was doing this and the profession was letting him get away with it, and he didn't see any point in hashing out this question with a skeptical 2nd year grad student. No one else asked any follow up.
I'll add here, that we took him to dinner and -- apart from brushing me off in the seminar -- he seemed to be a nice guy.
I've spent the subsequent 16 years wondering why I don't "get" happiness research and why everyone else seems to think it's a worthwhile thing.
> Rauch makes the case that the Republican Party is a threat to democracy, because Donald Trump has opened the door to declaring elections invalid.
The gumption that anyone might have to claim that Trump is in any way unique in this regard is galling. Trump's own legitimacy as president was under constant assault, and every effort was made to remove him from office by undemocratic means. Not to mention Bush v. Gore, Stacey Abrahms, etc (and, to be fair, questions about Obama's birth).
I say this not just for the sake of "whataboutism", but to make a point: simply telling people to stop questioning elections is not the solution. That is actually counterproductive, because it just creates more suspicion. We fix this by making it easier for people to trust elections. We need to invest in making elections more reliable, with things like voter ID, proper chain of custody for mail-ins, updated voter rolls, etc.
It's so bizarre to me when people argue the pros and cons of Trump without foregrounding catastrophic risks. Whatever else one thinks of Trump's behavior surrounding the 2020 election, it illustrates that he has a very weird, unpredictable mind, a distorted ego and unusually bad judgment. If he were president now, the risks of nuclear war would be much worse--which is saying a lot. If he comes back in '25, the Russians may gamble on his abandoning NATO, which would be very dangerous indeed.
I hate DeSantis, but if a crystal ball told me DeSantis would for sure be president in 2025, I'd be so relieved I'd be dancing in the street.
While Richard Hanania is better than Tyler on the New Right, like most college indoctrinated writers he also fails to address the new pillars: Family, God, Nation. Parties proposing these are being demonized as "populist" as well as being a threat to democracy, as Richard notes:
>>Fukuyama himself has gotten caught up in a wider hysteria, I think making the common mistake of confusing his aesthetic revulsion towards Trumpism and populism more generally with something that will end democracy. <<
Arnold and Tyler also have aesthetic revulsions against Trump, as partially shown by a lack of good vs bad point policy analysis but more clearly by insults without examples. (Because the actual examples would weaken the insult?)
Humans have a big place in their heart for individualism. They also have a God shaped hole in their heart - which is either filled with God or some other God-substitute (like Woke or Climate Alarmism).
They also have a family hole - which might be filled instead with friends or work colleagues, or maybe even VR internet "friends". Close friends and family are still less that 150.
Logically, there are 3 "bigger than Dunbar number" groupings: tribalism, nationalism, or globalism. Each of which could be Christian or non-Christian. The New Right, like the pro-life movement, will be filled mostly by those who prefer their group to be Christian. And in politics, they would rather live in a Christian nation with Christian laws, rather than a slightly (or heavily) oppressed minority in a secular anti-Christian nation.
"Christian nationalism" is also a book by Andrew Torba, of Gab - who is actively and so far not so quickly, building a parallel internet Christian economy.
Another book coming out 1 November is: The Case for Christian Nationalism
"Christian nationalism is not only the necessary alternative to secularism, it is the form of government we must pursue if we want to love our neighbors and our country."
If it's true that the New Right is bereft of vision, the ideal of "loving our neighbors and our country" is going to be, if it isn’t already, the primary positive motivation.
Orban in Hungary and likely Meloni in Italy will likely be showing flavors of Christian Nationalist policy. Not Putin.
But yes to Theology That Bites Back (Blog & Mablog)
‘which claims that beyond a certain level, economic gains lead to very little improvement in measures of happiness.’ Since happiness is entirely subjective, influenced by mood and circumstances... both variable... and third party appraisal of it relies on self-reporting which cannot be independently verified, how on Earth can it be measured? On what scale? Can love be measured too?