Martin Gurri on the elite bubble; Erik Hoel on thin prediction markets; Matthew Crawford on post-WWII sexual psychology policy; Harold Robertson on systems degraded by Midwits
"It basically suggests pretty explicitly that the vast majority of the public are lambs that can be led to the slaughter by these wolves. And of course the head wolf is Donald Trump, but Elon Musk is not too far behind. These are people who by basically telling persuasive lies can bamboozle millions into acting against their own interest and that the role of government therefore is to intervene in the conversation."
I wouldn't say that that's entirely wrong; there are plenty of lambs out there and plenty of wolves. What's frustrating to me is that none of these same people seem to recognize or are willing to concede that there might be any wolves that work for the federal government or its vendors, contractors, and various other financial dependents. It's all cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians with these people.
Wolves have become so good at dressing up like sheep that they actually BELIEVE they are sheep.
The government itself this the biggest purveyor of the most dangerous mis- and dis-information there is- full stop. Government officials will lie to you even when they don't have to for any obvious reason and even if the lie is so obvious even the biggest morons in our society know it is a lie. Sure, they are qualified to suppress information from other parties.
American elite loved it some Freudian psychology in the 50s - it makes some of the movies of the period near-unwatchable.
Much like, according to my abundant TV watching as a kid, the rest of us apparently loved quicksand!
Quicksand was the more harmless passion.
re: “There seems to be something wrong with the environment for forming relationships, and I see people struggling to put their finger on it.”
Gurri and Crawford seem to be talking about the same thing: establishment fear of semi-autonomous units like families and other groups as well as individuals displaying a bit of agency produces an establishment-controlled media and other tools being used to atomize and fragment society and direct it in self-serving directions.
At one level, powerful establishments, are all the same, driven by the drive for self-perpetuation via the elimination of alternatives to their regime and in opposition to pluralism generally. Historically, one sees this, for example, in how the Bolsheviks persecuted the Tolstoyan communities, the post-Maoist Chinese persecuted voluntary, and one can read about the resistance against hostile authorities mounted by the Catholic Worker soup kitchens and houses in Dorothy Day’s book Loaves and Fishes.
Yet, there are differences. In marriage rates, the US shows uninterrupted decline: https://www.statista.com/statistics/195951/marriage-rate-in-the-united-states-since-1990/ In China it rises and falls: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1055659/china-marriage-rate/ In Russia the rate of marriage is increasing after having fallen: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1009719/russia-marriage-and-divorce-rate/
Perhaps curiousity may be in order about the relatively recent appearance of a correlation in homeownership in declining homeownership with the divorce rate. (https://www.jchs.harvard.edu/blog/3-facts-about-marriage-and-homeownership ) . China, Russia, and the USA are in the top 10 countries in terms of divorce rate. China and Russia are in the top ten in homeownership rates. Although the 2.7 per thousand people divorce rate in in the USA is a bit lower than that in Russia and China, the homeownership rate in the US is about 66%, just 53.4% of people divorced in 2022 owned their own homes and 46.6% were renters. In Russia, the homeownership rate is about 89% and the divorce rate 3.9 per thousand people and and in China homeownership is at 90% and divorce at 3.2.
This perhaps reflect a divergence in establishment priorities. As relatively recently formed states having undergone substantive transformations in recent decades, the Russian and Chinese establishments are better served by maximizing nationalist values like community stability and loyalty which leads the central government to exercise a more restrained hand with respect to the autonomy of local governance and the regional administrative units. The US establishment, able to exploit the dominance of its central authority, on the other hand is better served by maximizing the relocatability of the workforce and the ability to extract higher rents.
Against these establishment forces, human flourishing stands little chance. The struggle to invent efficacious constitutional restraints seems mired in complacency and submission. The struggle to constrain establishment excesses via democracy is crushed by a hostile legal system. At best, it seems, the best we can hope for is some externally originated crisis to open a window of opportunity. Preparation for that eventuality ought be a priority amongst people of good will.
The repression angle is still strong enough that the publishing industry has produced several *children's books* about Lizzie Borden. For some reason even though it has shock value aplenty for children, they never produce a juvenile book about the bogeyman that haunted the children of my hometown, Dean Corll. They don't like to delve too deeply into these things. They are not serious people.
Arnold & friends: "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation"
The capacity of a nation to misuse resources and to waste time, energy & people seems unlimited. Not enjoyable to be reminded that leaders have an unquenchable desire to probe the limits of futility.
It's clearly just a fact that wolves like Donald Trump can bamboozle millions of idiot sheep. That doesn't make it ok to regulate the flow of information though.
What an interesting link between authoritarianism and attempting to make a freer culture.
Gurri has been a very interesting writer. The elite bubble Gurri discusses is a symptom and not the disease. For the disease, read his recent Discourse article "The World Before the Thaw: Welcome to the World of Pseudo-ideology": https://www.discoursemagazine.com/ideas/2023/09/12/the-world-before-the-thaw/ . He is seeing and describing the present state of a process which Jacques Barzun described at length in his magisterial "From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life."
Crawford is 100% on target by identifying Reich as the true godfather of this movement and to connect it with the attempt to "cure" the so-called Authoritarian Personality.
May also be worth pointing out that the phenomenon of psychiatric casualties was unique to the American side during the second World War. Either you believe that the other belligerents (including the two that did most of the fighting and dying) were just repressing it, that they were unusually psychiatrically resilient, or that psychiatry can only make cognizable claims in certain cultures like America -- the choice is up to the reader.
I know this is peanut gallery behavior to criticize but Crawford should not have cited Adam Curtis for facts that can be found from more reputable sources.
Interesting about the 50s. If it's true, the idea that repressed sexuality leads to fascism, isn't that a better explanation for why incels are so looked down and hated, instead of pitied as if dogs from an SPCA commercial? They are budding fascists.
Of course that doesn't explain why they could be cuddly funny outcasts in the 80s (Revenge of the Nerds etc.) but only now dangerous and not at all worthy of empathy.
Lots of talk on crypto currencies. Guess there's a market here to make money but I for one don't use it as the current money system serves me well. I see myself using othevr forms of currency when I travel or purchase products from places other than USA. The Euro the pound the yen. Why the fuss with crypto? How would it serve me better than what's available now?
Thanks if you can give me practical reasons for using crypto..
Against their own interest - I have heard this often and it seems so incredibly absurd. They know someone else's interest? Really?
On a similar topic, I'm reading McWhorter's book, Woke Racism. I surprised how clunky his arguments are and I don't really like his term, "the Elect" but he has some good insights. (Tim Urban's new book has a wider scope but I think he writes better and I like his term "social justice fundamentalists" better too.) Anyway, he argues books by Coates, DiAngelo, and Kendi are treated something like the Bible but aren't in the best interest of blacks, or anyone else.
Calamities, emergencies, failures and so forth have been part of human history through the ages, so Robertson’s complexity accusation doesn’t hold water IMHO, unless he wants to apply it to all of human history. Could rising complexity coupled with promotion of dunces be blamed as the “core issue” behind the breakdown of America’s systems? I’d concede it could be one factor but not the primary. Pick almost any era of human activity and you’ll find crisis. Try the 18th century – South Sea Company bubble, British credit crisis in 1772, US panic of 1792, etc. One could argue, I suppose, that any period that experiences technical and economic innovation is going to have a hard time figuring out how to maximize those innovations without shooting themselves in the foot. The human track record speaks for itself. Empires rise, empires fall.