Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Two essays ..

For those of you with time on your hands (I know that's a set with measure zero, but so?), I have a couple of interesting essays for you to ponder.


1. The Global Elite Is The Only Elite Now

Razib Khan is dipping into the same zeitgeist as I did with my post, "A Christmas message from the Bubble". He writes:
"First, the neoliberal order of infinite plentitude and a universal middle class collapsed in the financial crisis of 2008. Though the global order continues on neoliberal precepts, it is more a matter of not knowing what the alternative could be, rather than genuine enthusiasm.

Second, nationalism and localist movements which cut against the grain of global democratic liberalism have become vigorous. China shows no signs of embracing democratic liberalism, India is home to a Hindu nationalist movement that has the reins of power, and right-wing political movements are on the march in Europe.

Third, a genuine international global elite has taken on greater solidity since the financial crisis, because they understand that their interests are more important in concert than the nation-states which they are notionally citizens of.

Consider Rupert Murdoch. Born an Australian, but now an American citizen. He has media properties of note across many nations. He has daughters who are half ethnically Chinese, granddaughters who are part Ghanaian, and other grandchildren who are being raised British (and are descendants of Sigmund Freud!).

Murdoch may be an extreme case, but his life and ties are not atypical for the global oligarchic class. Below them is the global professional caste which moves between nations as needed, and views themselves citizens of the world. They are foot-soldiers in keeping the machinery of internationalism chugging along.

The banker in New York arguably has more in common in terms of public and private interests with the banker in London or Shanghai than they do with the citizens who reside in the hinterlands of the nation-states in which they live. ...

Over the next few years, we will start to see how the nation-state, and the resurgent nationalisms, deal with the reality of a supra-nation without a state, the cosmopolitan global overclass. At the pinnacle of the global overclass are the oligarchs. This group has always been of internationalist bent due to their reliance or positions in finance and trade.

But in the past few centuries, national patriotism was a feature present even among oligarchs. To some extent, the national and personal interest were commingled. ... And it is also true that during the great age of globalization before 1914 this class was still characterized by a powerful robust nationalist ethos which would be unthinkable today."

Razib is right to identify the ever-increasing domination of the globalist bourgeois elite (he doesn't use the language of Marxism although it's by far the best analytic framework). The neoliberals arrived with an economic ideology of weak government, low taxes and few immigration controls, buttressed by a social/political agenda of individualistic autonomy, a commitment to civic equality which was then taken to infer biological equality and thence extended to a demand for equality of outcome.

This faux-progressive manifesto for maximally-frictionless capitalism has been uncritically swallowed by the left.

 And so we segue to Charles Stross.


2. Dude, you broke the future!

I wrote about Charles Stross in my last post. He's an interesting guy, a combination of penetrating and incisive intellectual with ranting SJW. We Keirsey Rationalists always have a problem arguing with the INFJs of this world because their emotional values are always deployed to derail dispassionate rational analysis.

His essay is the transcript of a talk given to the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in Leipzig, December 2017. It covers a range of topics including the Singularity, the alleged dangers of uncontrolled 'AI-runaway' (he is as skeptical as I am) and an interesting analogy between autonomous AI systems and profit-maximising corporations.

So far, so interesting. But his inner SJW keeps popping up, leading him into - dare I say it? - politically-correct dogmas which encapsulate scientific error.

I leave him be .. challenging his core assumptions would be as rewarding as debating a creationist.

Still, the emotionalism and factional tribalism which make his politics so tedious and tendentious are just what makes him a great novelist. Fiction is about emotion and conflict, not sterile ideas!

You can read his thoughts - they are unfailingly interesting even when infuriating - or you can watch his video.

It's an hour, though.

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