Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 102

Here it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

Midlife: a philosophical guide.

Education in the age of outrage. (By someone who is not a privileged white male.)

The Nazi-Fascist cultural axis.

The Digital Humanities bust.

A letter of (qualified) thank you to Gen. Kelly.

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Please notice that the duration of the comments window is three days (including publication day), and that comments are moderated for relevance (to the post one is allegedly commenting on), redundancy (not good), and tone (constructive is what we aim for). This applies to both the suggested readings and the regular posts. Also, keep ‘em short, this is a comments section, not your own blog. Thanks!

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Categories: Plato's Suggestions

78 replies

  1. Brodix,

    Good question. The idea of democracy is predicated on the assumption that people are reasonably informed and capable of making reasonably intelligent decisions. To my knowledge that has rarely happened, and it most certainly it is not the case in current USA. Don’t know what the alternative is, unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not to mention that Hillary won the popular vote by a substantial amount.

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  3. Does nobody remember McCarthy or the Palmer raids, etc? And they only had Dan Smoot, not a whole bloody network in those days…

    My father-in-law was forced to sign a ‘loyalty’ oath – now that was ‘political correctness’ run amok – and he was a mere Democrat.. though his father was red – a member of the NonPartisan League..

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  4. The alternative, Massimo, is electing me as philosopher-president! Not just a Footnote to Plato(TM)!

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  5. Massimo,

    “The idea of democracy is predicated on the assumption that people are reasonably informed and capable of making reasonably intelligent decisions.”

    Which goes to the point I keep making about the financial system as a communal circulation system, effectively making it a public utility, but which is treated as private commodification and used to siphon value out of society, but which then is lent back to the public sector, as a method of storing this value and further extracting wealth from the larger community. Read the article on the emergence of neoliberalism, as an example of what is actually being taught and what is indoctrinated into the collective consciousness. What is the pushback from the liberal community? Is economics not abstract enough for higher education and philosophy to really study, or is it just that the business community controls the funding of education and liberals do what they are paid to do, just like conservatives, because they are all human?

    Mostly it’s just ridicule of the more primitive ideas, like God as some external, all knowing being, that give liberals their sense of intellectual superiority.

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  6. synred

    Not to mention that Hillary won the popular vote by a substantial amount.

    Yes, but the result came down to less than a million people (about 800,000) in a handful of key swing states. The Republicans had targeted campaigning based on a huge database of voters, they could target Evangelicals to point out that only Trump would fill the Supreme Court vacancies with conservative judges.

    If you have talked with evangelicals for any length of time you would know that this is a big issue with them.

    And if you look at the number of evangelicals (let alone Catholics) in those swing states you will see that they only needed to convince about 1% more of them to go out and vote to account entirely for the margin in those states (and I am not saying this accounts for it, but just illustrating the fineness of the vote and the potential for targetted campaigning to skew it). The margin in Michigan was about the same as the weekly attendance of just one mega church in that state, and there seem to be quite a lot of mega churches in Michigan.

    There is another possible SCOTUS vacancy that could come up and it might happen in the next term, so here is just one place where targeted campaigning can be influential in 2020.

    You may have noticed, too, that Trump is busy building up his support in just those states.

    Note, also, that both the Dems and the GOP lost voters in those key states, but the Democrats lost more than the GOP.

    So, yes, the poor campaign from the Democrats was absolutely key – if they had only held on to some of the voters in those states that had voted for Obama, about 0.3% of the population, they would have won. They dropped the ball.

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  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition

    No campaign bribes needed. Make penalty for bribery steep and pay the selected people very well (it’d be dirt cheap compared to the current system).

    Yes, I know there’d still be idiots, but the current system seems to favor idiots and worse. At least this way we’d bet close to the median.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, but the result came down to less than a million people (about 800,000) in a handful of key swing states. The Republicans had targeted campaigning based on a huge database of voters, they could target Evangelicals to point out that only Trump would fill the Supreme Court vacancies with conservative judges.
    If you have talked with evangelicals for any length of time you would know that this is a big issue with them.

    I think I know how the system works. It needs to be fixed, esp. as the US becomes every more urbanized. Other wise we are headed for the dictatorship of the fundamentalist.

    Hilary’s campaign was not that bad. She would of won accept for a few marginal effects, e.g., Comey and the Russians.

    It’s likely impossible to stop the Ruskies from interfering, but it would have much less affect on our elections if were more robust and didn’t swing based on tiny numbers of votes. This would make Russian interference ineffective, so they’d likely stop trying and would maybe help third parties has you wouldn’t have to worry about flipping the whole election if you live in a ‘swing’ state.

    Without changing the constitution we could get part way there by requiring ALL states to split their electoral votes by popular vote (not Gerrymandered districts). Small states would still have too much power, but elections would be more stable — no Bush v. Gore or Trump wins by tiny amounts.

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  9. Robin,

    Expecting Clinton to repeat Obama is like expecting Trump to repeat Reagan. It can’t happen because the supply of faith and trust has been squandered, just like the supply of credit has been spent.

    People may not be able to see the big picture, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and can only be ignored by crawling into a hole.

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  10. synred

    No her campaign was REALLY bad. This is a good introduction:

    https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/04/the-clinton-comedy-of-errors

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Arthur,

    To say the issue of the Russians is a purposeful distraction from far more significant issues would be a serious understatement.

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  12. The Russian boogyman:

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/10/how-i-got-here.html

    “In 1814 the victors – Britain, Russia, Prussia and Austria – sat down in Vienna, with France, to re-design the world. They were wise enough to understood that a settlement that excluded France wouldn’t last. In 1919 this was forgotten and the settlement – and short-lived it was – excluded the loser. In 1945 Japan and Germany were included in the winners’ circle. At the end of the Cold War, repeating the Versailles mistake, we excluded Russia. It was soon obvious, whatever meretricious platitudes stumbled from the lips of wooden-faced stooges, that NATO was an anti-Russia organisation of the “winners”.

    But I retained hope. I think my most reprinted piece has been “The Third Turn” of November 2010 and in it I argued that Russia had passed through two periods in the Western imagination: first as the Little Brother then as the Assertive Enemy but that we were now approaching a time in which it would be seen as a normal country.

    Well, that didn’t happen did it?

    And so the great opportunity to integrate Russia into the winners’ circle was thrown away.”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. synred

    Hilary’s campaign was not that bad. She would of won accept for a few marginal effects, e.g., Comey and the Russians.

    Those things didn’t help, and quite possibly she would have won without them.

    But remember when she managed to call a large group of potential voters a “basket of deplorables”? That shows someone with very poor political instincts. You don’t insult people who you want to vote for you and this word “deplorable” made it worse, it sounds like some aging dowager telling off the downstairs people. It was such a gift to Trump. A steel worker or a coal miner doesn’t call someone a “deplorable”.

    And what was all this talk about how wonderful it was that we were going to have our first female President and all the little girls would know that they can do anything?

    You don’t say that out loud. Obama, as far as I can recall, did not enthuse about how wonderful it was going to be to have the first African-American President.

    And there would have been a not insignificant proportion of women thinking that it would be wonderful if our first female President was not HRC.

    Those are just two things from the campaign. In all it didn’t sound like here was someone who empathised with the aspirations of those who felt that they were doing it tough.

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  14. So you say … and it wasn’t great. Against Trump she should have won the pop vote by a lot more …

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  15. Not particularly convincing. 20-20 hindsight. Nobody would be writing this if she’d won which she nearly did.

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  16. I had forgotten about the complex intersectional challenges.

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  17. But remember when she managed to call a large group of potential voters a “basket of deplorables”? That shows someone with very poor political instincts. You don’t insult people who you want to vote for you and this word “deplorable” made it worse, it sounds like some aging dowager telling off the downstairs people. It was such a gift to Trump. A steel worker or a coal miner doesn’t call someone a “deplorable”.

    A classic Kinselyian gaffe — mistakenly telling the truth. The were ‘deplorable’ and Trumps appeal was mostly tor racism.

    And what was all this talk about how wonderful it was that we were going to have our first female President and all the little girls would know that they can do anything?

    huh? She didn’t push that much…maybe no enough…

    You don’t say that out loud. Obama, as far as I can recall, did not enthuse about how wonderful it was going to be to have the first African-American President.

    I don’t recall either. Still it was a factor

    And there would have been a not insignificant proportion of women thinking that it would be wonderful if our first female President was not HRC.

    Soi? She still won the pop vote. There are large fraction of self-hating and racist women too. Deplorables…

    Those are just two things from the campaign. In all it didn’t sound like here was someone who empathized with the aspirations of those who felt that they were doing it tough.

    Well they might of read her program or even listened to her, instead of the clips pulled out by Fox. Her policies were better for them. They voted against their own interest.

    The famous end of coal comment was poorly phrased, taken out of context and not corrected by the media.

    Sure she made gaffes, and strategic mistakes, every body does. Trump made more, he didn’t win by running a perfect campaign. .

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  18. Saphsin:

    ‘I’m not saying PC culture hasn’t gone rampant or even seceded real concern for the oppressed in some ways’

    No. This is not some generic complaint about ‘Political Correctness Gone Mad(TM)’. It’s a critique of the rise of a new cultural power bloc centered around Identity Politics. It’s methods in academia and on social media are not arbitrary, but display the kind of characteristics typical of groups engaged in ideological policing. They may not be all there is, but they are part of a pernicious trend that has reached non trivial proportions.

    ‘Go back a number of decades and you’ll find it much harder to reach people on all sorts of human rights issues.’

    I don’t have to go back. I lived through these decades. I did my time ‘on the barricades’ for nuclear disarmament, anti-Apartheid, East Timor, for example. The idea that our problem was reaching people, and that this is now a solved thanks to Twitter, is quite laughable. Sure, we couldn’t spray 140 character platitudes at the speed of light, but we printed our leaflets, went door to door, talked to people. This not only made political organizing stronger, but socially situating political discussion like this meant that communication was much more meaningful. People listen and engage face to face in a way that is impossible to achieve electronically. I would also argue that when the number of communication channels is more limited, and the dominant source of propaganda is the establishment media, getting your message across is simpler than the current cacophony of noise, where most people’s response is to shut themselves in ideologically controlled echo chambers.

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