Links to Consider, 1/11
Eric Kaufmann and me on political fault lines; Lee Smith on Twitter/FBI; Martin Gurri on Twitter/FBI; Kevin Corcoran on Jeffrey Friedman;
Here is the YouTube of our discussion with Eric Kaufmann. If you install the ChatGPT-based transcription extension, you can get a transcript, although it includes every stutter. So you still might prefer listening, adjusting the speed upward.
The first minute there is no visual motion, but then I turned my camera on. About 44 minutes in, Eric predicts that the culture war is going to get much more prominent going forward. Wokeness will strengthen, in his view. The audio-only version is below.
Lee Smith has written the most comprehensive article so far on the domestic spying and political-influence orchestrated by the FBI and revealed in the Twitter files. Smith’s theory of the case:
In retrospect, the failure of the Russiagate conspiracy theory accelerated the spy service’s takeover of social media. Though no one is likely to be held accountable anytime soon, or ever, it was enough that the details of the operation were exposed by Patel and Nunes. In response, the spy agencies moved much of their operations out of the federal government and into the private sector, where even if congressional investigators found it, there wasn’t much they could do.
Unfortunately, two of the institutions that have to be on board in order to rein in the intelligence agencies are missing in action on this issue: the Democratic Party, and the mainstream media.
Interviewed by, Martin Gurri says,
it’s inconceivable that those things could have occurred at the CIA where I worked. It would have been way beyond the conceptual horizon of everyone, including the Director.
I come from Cuba. When did it happen that protecting democracy entails Chinese methods of handling information? What happens in China is what happens here. Somewhere a party hack comes to you and says, “That’s not the word to use,” or “The party doesn’t want that opinion.” And Twitter became an instrument of control for the state and the party in power.
…That FBI statement was unbelievable. They said, “We do this all the time to protect customers and companies.” When did that tradition begin? When did law enforcement engage with the private sector in that way? I didn’t know about this. Nobody knew about this. What’s this “protection” thing? If the public’s being protected then why is the information not being made public?
Most of the interview is behind a paywall. It’s tempting to fork over the 12 bucks just for this one episode.
Kevin Corcoran begins a series of posts on the late Jeffrey Friedman’s Power Without Knowledge.
His goal is not to raise an external critique of technocracy, as a libertarian might by arguing the project is illegitimate due to normative beliefs about the proper scope of government. Instead, he raises an internal critique – is technocracy workable according to its own purpose, as defined above? If a technocracy can’t reliably achieve the intended aims, or if those aims can be achieved by lower cost means, then technocracy would be internally illegitimate by its own standards.
In his second post, Corcoran writes,
Recall the four types of knowledge necessary for a successful technocracy – knowledge about the existence and severity of social problems, knowledge of the underlying causes of those problems, knowledge about how to alleviate those causes effectively, and knowledge that the costs (including all unintended and unanticipated costs) of such alleviation will not exceed the benefits. Friedman defines social problems as “epistemically complex” when they “lack self-evident solutions.” For problems that are both epistemically complex and society-wide, possessing all four types of knowledge accurately and simultaneously seems at best staggering, and at worst insurmountable. To the naïve realist, however, “common sense” is all that’s needed to establish all four types of knowledge.
Naive realism is the outlook that what you believe is true, i.e. “real.” Naive realists
are blind to the possibility that some or all the necessary knowledge may be counterintuitive. Naive realism is particularly ill-equipped to deal with counterintuitive policy outcomes, or the possibility that policies might backfire in unexpected ways
I look forward to his subsequent posts.
The regulatory state has a massive and problematic interaction with the private sector through what is termed 'guidance.' Just like the fiction in the military about certain black marks not being 'punishments' (and thus not invoking due process) even though they get reported in performance evaluations and promotion boards, the regulatory agencies rely on all sorts of communications to instruct and direct, but skirt the law. As for 'violations' of the 'terms of service' - law enforcement should not be involved in what should be at most a contract violation, theoretically addressed in civil court.
Hello Mr. Kling! I love this blog; I've been following you since like 2008 in various places. I think you do a fantastic job maintaining your ability to consider everyone's perspective with a level head, despite having some strong viewpoints of your own. It's very uncommon and very appreciated. Just wanted to let you know that I'm out here reading and enjoying your content. Thanks again!