107 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Collin Street

    I find it mysterious but then maybe my mind just works differently from most peoples’ minds. I can identify and accept those more skillful and competent than me at particular endeavors . But in my experience most hierarchy as constructed in our broader society is not about skill and competence and certainly not about caring for fellow humans. It’s about the unilateral assumption of power using violence and/or deception.

  2. Another analysis you could try is law of large numbers:
    “groups of people are more typical than individual people”.

    If you think society’s set up to give you short shrift, and your leaders by-and-large aren’t looking out for your interests… “a single leader” has more chance of being atypical and caring about you than a group of leaders do. If on the other hand you think that society treats you OK to pretty decent, then a single leader has a higher-than-usual chance of giving you the shaft and a group of leaders should average out to closer to typical.

    [“strong leader” as a response to low social trust]

  3. As you guys have moved on to the BIG questions, you might like a little bit of foot tappin’ confucian

    …to think by.

    Courtesy of Sean Carrol.

  4. @Julie Thomas

    I am beginning to entertain the idea that we are now seeing a process of delegitimisation of all parliamentary politics and of the standard ideologies of both the left and right. The left has been thoroughly discredited and delegitimised, not necessarily in fact, but in a prevailing new ideology which pretends it is not an ideology. All left politics, no matter how mild, is tarred with the brush of the state command economy and the nanny state. But now explicit right wing politics is being delegitimised too. The (admittedly deserved) pillorying of the GOP as crazy is an example. All overt traditional party politics, left or right, is now being tarred with the “crazy kooks” brush and/or the “corrupt sell-outs” brush. The uncomfortable thing is that almost all modern professional politicians are indeed crazy kooks or corrupt sell-outs. These are the people the system promotes. Who would promote such ludicrous puppets?

    Who stands to gain if traditional parties and traditional left-right politics is all delegitimised? I think it is big business basically. Big business ideology (corporate capitalism) pretends not to be an ideology. They are (supposedly) all for free markets and competition. These values are held to be natural values based on fundamental mathematical / biological / social phenomena emerging as market efficiency and competition. This is the ideology which pretends it is not an ideology. The rally cry eventually might be I think, “We need to get politics out of our society and run it efficiently like a business. Free markets and competition will deliver everything we need. We don’t need government interference.” The latter is really code for “We don’t need government.”

    Just as parliamentary power superseded monarchical power but kept the monarch as a fig-leaf for legitimacy and also a rubber stamp, so too corporate power may supersede parliamentary power but keep parliaments (in much de-powered form) as fig-leafs and rubber stamps. Corporate managers and oligarchs will wield all the real levers of power behind the scenes and politicians and parliaments will do very much as the managers and oligarchs bid. I think we are well on the road to that now: past the half-way point and maybe even past the point of no return.

  5. @Ikonoclast

    Nope we will be okay. You need to cheer up. 🙂

    It is happening, now. with the internet, that we will be able to organise ourselves so that we are free from the force and power of those who imagine that they have the right to determine how we all should live and what we should value and they will also have better lives when they are not suffering from the delusions that currently force them to inflict themselves on people who don’t want them or their ugly stuff.

    Even the meritocracy they believe in turns out to be a crock and not something on which a good society or an economy can be built.

    “A true meritocracy is a cold-blooded world. The smartest, fittest, and most capable eat and kill everyone else. It is little wonder that people who think of themselves as the smartest, fittest, most capable people are often the most voracious backers of what they believe to be meritocratic policies.

    “Silicon Valley types, in particular, are fond of advocating for a certain form of meritocracy—one that funnels all available brainpower into Silicon Valley firms. For people who are already rich and powerful, the beauty of a meritocracy is that it need not spell doom for the current social order. All it means is that the most rich and powerful institutions will be better stocked with employees even more capable of enlarging their own share of the pie.”

    Quote is from a Gawker article titled The Flaws of Meritocracy.

    I saw this Hayek quote somewhere,

    “It is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess and because each individual’s use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone”

    And as usual, he’s quite wrong. It isn’t civilization that enables us to profit from our combined knowledge, this is the way humans operate best in a group with an aim to improve things for everybody.

    Those who are currently arguing for themselves as the best people to create the stuff that makes life better for all people are no longer winning friends and influencing people; they do not have the merit they think they do.

  6. Icon

    This is interesting and might give you some reason to be cheerful and hopeful about our ability to use the wisdom of the past to shape our future.


    “Imagine ourselves standing at a central point and looking out in time, looking out at all the things that we’ve done before, all the versions of the world and the versions of ourselves that we’ve created and curated; they are all in front of us and they are available to us to remix into our own version of now.

    “The digital tools that we have, particularly the internet, have served to collapse our sense of time.

    “When I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s the things of my childhood were far removed from me—toys, programs I’d seen—it was hard to track those things down. Now all of that is instantaneously available to all of us pretty much all the time. So the ephemera of what has gone before is much more available to us to use, and our sense of the distance of time has collapsed.”

    I see this ‘bringing the past into our present’ all the time on facebook; people share images and things that happened from the past – like the lolly cigarettes we baby boomers used to buy. In sharing that image we all do a bit of comparing and contrasting of our present with the past and because people even leaners are really not stupid and lazy, this process will lead to common sense solutions.

    The best facebook meme I have seen recently goes like this; The world is screwed, governments are corrupt, people are greedy and selfish, and common decency is dead! The only way to rebel is to become a genuinely good person.

  7. thanks Val. and Mel. and others. glad you liked eric grenier’s graphics, too. i’ve found them “illuminating”, they help make a complex situation more intelligible. i also read poll bludger. and the guy at the conversation. eleven weeks is a long time in politics, so if you’re interested in catching up now & then with the campaign in the sister colony, grenier’s own site – threehundredeightDOTcom – is worth bookmarking. it hosts reader’s comments not available at the cbc mirror. and during the eleven weeks of the campaign he will be operating it as an election campaign “hub” providing podcasts and links to other places with helpful election news/resources. there was a leader’s debate last night in canadia not that we’d know. it was hosted by maclean’s magazine – macleansDOTca – which is a weekly glossy politics & society magazine. i don’t recall it having been particularly left-wing but since the debate the harper side has been slamming it, so i’ve bookmarked it for myself on the principle that if harper’s goons don’t like it must be doing something right/correctly. and journalist dave climenhaga’s site – albertapoliticsDOTca – is good on resource politics and has tremendously funny photo captions. he’s mirrored at a progressive site – rabbleDOTca – based in vancouver. worth at least a look is the cbc – cbcDOTca – neutered over the years by harper, and the toronto globe and mail – theglobeandmailDOTcom – which is rather (not hysterically) tory leaning, but the only “quality” national msn rag in canadia. -a.v.

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