Links to Consider, 12/27
Daniel Gordis on Israel; Matti Friedman on Israel; Todd H. Baker on Crypto; Gerd Gigerenzer on outsmarting smart tech
a western-style Israel with no Jewish vision cannot survive, and an Israel shaped by religious Judaism uninformed by the world of western learning doesn’t deserve to survive.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose “Jewish Power” faction has a total of seven seats of 120, is a racist provocateur from the margins of the right who was recently beyond the pale even among Likud voters. His threats to the status quo on the Temple Mount risk our precious new ties with part of the Sunni Muslim world, if not outright bloodshed. His appointment poses a danger to the 9 million citizens, Jews and Arabs, who come under the purview of the Israel police (which includes Jews and Arabs), and it will shatter public trust in an institution without which we can’t function. Netanyahu needs Ben-Gvir and his ideological allies for his attempt to diminish the court system, where Netanyahu faces corruption charges. Security has always been a sacred trust here, and it’s not an exaggeration to say this appointment is the most reckless in the history of the state. If Netanyahu’s ace card was security, it’s gone.
A solid and sane Israeli majority exists, though it’s battered and confused. It awaits a leadership that deserves the name.
Sounds like the United States.and in a podcast. About minute 24, Hanania says that politics has become an arena of entertainment. I think that this is harmful, because it attracts people with Dark Triad traits to politics. We have turned elections into a sort of Super Bowl, and that reinforces government expansion. Around minute 30, Hanania says that people with high neuroticism prefer high-status jobs to high-income jobs. They also lean left. He keeps coming back to this idea, e.g. at minute 41. Chau keeps coming back to malicious envy as an important trait. About one hour and one minute in, Hanania argues that people like status competitions that they can win. Athletes want to compete on athletic skill, nerds want to compete on intelligence, people with good social skills want to compete on that, etc. At 2 hours, 25 minutes Hanania says he wishes he could belong to a political movement. Dream on.
If crypto trading were to be integrated into traditional finance, the risk of systemic contagion would be real. Crypto coins would become part of investment, pension and retirement portfolios, which are critical pieces of people’s financial support structure. Unexpected connections and hidden leverage would re-create the types of systemic vulnerabilities that led to the 2008 financial crisis. All this would be exacerbated by the “stateless” status of so much of crypto trading and the inability of the current regulatory structure to deal with offshore and virtual crypto trading providers.
My instinct is to not regulate crypto. Baker articulates the reason for that. The more you regulate it, the more you normalize it, and the more people come to expect to be bailed out by taxpayers if something goes wrong. Baker instead says that crypto should be walled off from every regulated financial institution. I agree. If crypto is self-regulating because of its brilliant design, then getting walled off from regulated financial institutions should not disturb the crypto evangelists.
the reason we constantly check whether there is something—news or a response to our own post—is, according to Skinner, because we have been conditioned. There is a reward, maybe social approval, a like or a nice comment. The award doesn’t come every time, but it comes sometimes, unexpectedly. That’s intermittent reinforcement, and that makes the behavior much stabler than it would coming every time. You wouldn’t care anymore.
Skinner’s idea that we get under the control of the algorithms others use to control us, that’s the more realistic picture than 1984.
This is from a wide-ranging interview by Evan Nestarek, interesting throughout. Pointer from the indispensable
Gordis's article is consistent with the idea that American Jews' divergence of worldviews from Israeli Jews stems from a divergence of experience. The US has also fought wars for ideas, and they have often as not been universalist ones: the abolition of slavery, the victory of democracy over fascism. And Jews in America have been safe-- not perfectly safe, but there is no perfect safety in this world-- for many generations without ever being anywhere close to politically or culturally dominant: the very combination Gordis says is "invariably" doomed.
You may say that it is shortsighted to depend on this safety and universalism, that it won't last. You may also say that it is irreducibly exceptional, that the US model cannot be replicated anywhere else. But in any case it is a lived experience very different from that of the founders of Israel or most of the subsequent waves of immigrants there.
I had some thoughts on that podcast with Hanania: https://twitter.com/DainFitzgerald/status/1606354176602054656?t=95SjvcwV3Dv0Hw0yyOzqpw&s=19