Pining for the 20th Century, 2/19
When reason seemed authoritative
An effective left movement would identify building a mass movement by appealing to the unconvinced as its most central, most essential goal. All strategies and messaging would be bent towards the goal of rational appeal to potential supporters. We would identify obscurantism, factionalism, purity signaling, and other behaviors that limit the potential numbers of the movement as counterproductive. We would limit the use of specialized vocabulary and other forms of in-group signaling.
This is part of a longer essay on the leftist movement he desires.
Martin Gurri has an expression “diving headlong into the 20th century.” This expression describes many opinion pieces written, usually by Boomers, of various political persuasions. For example, there are pieces that call for a return to journalism in which reporters have earned the right to be regarded as definitive and objective. Or a return to universities where discussion is open and controversy is embraced.
Gurri’s point is that these appeals are irrelevant in the 21st-century world that he describes as The Revolt of the Public. In the twentieth century, information asymmetry favored people in positions of authority. That is, they had access to information that the public did not have, and the public had very little information that the elites lacked. Today, it is the other way around. Elites know very little that the public does not already know, and the public has information that the elites do not have. So we cannot return to 20th-century forms of authority. Those who attempt to do so only serve to embarrass themselves. Think of Justin Trudeau.
In deBoer’s case, what he longs for is a political movement that is rational and coherent. One with a clear manifesto. But we have not seen such a movement in decades. What we get instead are movements that are inchoate and heavy on negation. Think of the Canadian trucker protest.
I, too, would be much more comfortable if we could restore some 20th-century norms. My particular longing is for standards of discourse that favor careful reasoning, rather than snappy put-downs or identity-based posturing.
One would think that the wider availability of information would be a good thing. But the Golden Age has not been evenly distributed. I keep hoping that we come up with a set of norms and values that produce less social friction and more alignment between what people claim to know and what they actually know.
What’s wrong with the truckers? Seems like they are fighting the good fight.
The other day Youngkin signed a law forbidding mask mandates in schools and the loudoun county school board finally caved. He handed the pen he signed it with to a girl that has been suspended nine times for refusing to wear a mask. All people who have been suspended over mask mandates have had it expunged from their record.
I’m a little tired of libertarians that support liberty except when you actually fight for it.
Re: "what he [deBoer] longs for is a political movement that is rational and coherent. One with a clear manifesto. But we have not seen such a movement in decades. What we get instead are movements that are inchoate and heavy on negation. Think of the Canadian trucker protest."
Don't let the best be the enemy of the good. "Negation" can be righteous and choate reaction to tyranny of the majority, unnecessary suppression of individual liberty, martial law, or arbitrary rule by 'experts'. The Canadian trucker protest -- civil disobedience -- is actually counter-negation, against government negations of freedom.
In the conflict between Trudeau's phalanx and the convoy, beware temptation to cast a plague on both their houses.