Preaching the gospel of evidence, experiment and reason since 2003.
I have the same confusion about your "Machtergreifung" fear, as I did about your earlier (linked) reference to a "coup". Trump has already seized power. The question is whether he will choose to apply power, in the way that the Nazis did after 1933.But I don't get the concern that Trump might be "planning" a Hitler-like coup, or machtergreifung. Hitler's coup was the failed 1923 Putsch, and his machtergreifung culminated in his successful appointment to the Chancellorship in 1933. Trump already succeeded in getting elected last November. There is no need to work on acquiring the highest office in the land any more; he already has it.If you want to continue to make scary Hitler analogies, at this point I think you need to reference Nazi activities after 1933. The analogies you've made so far seem so inapplicable to the Trump situation, that they come across more as fearmongering propaganda, than a reasoned argument.
Yes, I am referring at this point to events after 1933. I am talking about the dismantling of legal and social institutions that would normally provide checks and balances on Trump's power, leaving him effectively a dictator. You want to suggest a better term?
Ah! I misunderstood. Sorry. No, I don't know an appropriate term for slowly and legally turning a democracy into a dictatorship. Kind of a Star War prequel / Emperor Palpatine sort of thing. Or Hitler. Or Putin. But I don't know of a common term for that political transformation.
@Don> But I don't know of a common term for that political transformation.Progressivism.
> Progressivism.No, I think I'm gonna go with "treason".
Don't get me wrong, I don't think that Trump has a great fascist master-plan on how to grab power – I think he is grabbing power. He is removing what we call here "Rechtsstaat", he is weakening and removing institutions that control the government, he is doing it – anything that is in his way will be removed (with a good deal of willing help from the Republicans). That is "Machtergreifung".I don't know if you seen (or written about it), but there were several people who took Umberto Eco's "14 Point List on Fascism" – see e.g. here http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1995/06/22/ur-fascism/ – and looked a Trump. This might be helpful to dispel any misleading pretense of normalization. Action for action’s sake. Life is permanent warfare. Contempt for the weak. Machismo. Against “rotten” parliamentary governments. Newspeak … an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. That is what Eco has to say on that matter.And don't me get wrong, Trump is not Hitler – but neither was Mussolini, nor Franco, nor any of the other schoolbook fascists. Fascism is not a masterplan, always executed the same – fascism is way of thinking about the world, about oneself, about acting. Fascism is about being strong, about using power against the weak – fascism is about wining.
And never forget: To be a fascist, there is no need for a person to have an understanding about the world, about his actions, about the consequences of his actions – and that person does not even need to understand his own intentions. Trump makes it clear that a certain subset of immigrants are bad, and he makes it clear that it is necessary and good and most important to remove this subset of immigrants – expect him to act accordingly, and to act with him all that think along similar lines.
@Ron, @Publius:> Ron: I am talking about the dismantling of legal and social institutions that would normally provide checks and balances on Trump's power, leaving him effectively a dictator. You want to suggest a better term?> Publius: Progressivism.> Ron: No, I think I'm gonna go with "treason".While Publius may be going a bit overboard, I think it is very important to note that Progressivism has targeted many institutions for destruction, because they are believed to oppose the goals of progressivism. A wonderful example would be the family, which is notoriously conservative. If you'd like a story of its being strained by the forces of modernization and then shattered by scientific research and political action, see Christopher Lasch's 1977 Haven in a Heartless World. From the preface to the paperback:>> But it is precisely the separation of love and discipline that encourages, not merely in the kibbutz but in the middle-class American family itself, the development of personality traits more compatible with totalitarian regimes than with democracy: a strong attachment to the peer group; a marked fear of being alone; more or less complete alienation from the past (since as Bruno Bettelheim notes in his study of the kibbutz, “there is no permanence in human relations except with the peer group”); a strong concern with personal “authenticity” in relations with others, unmediated by conventional forms of politeness or even by respect for the other person’s individuality; and a lack of introspection and of a highly developed inner life. (xiv)Sound familiar? What is needed here is an extreme respect for evidence, over against what is coming out of people's mouths—everyone's mouths. The conditions required for totalitarianism are not set up in a day, or a year, or even a decade. What you need are weak-willed people who have insufficient knowledge and wisdom to turn desire into result, and therefore have no recourse but to turn to a savior figure. Trigger warnings and safe spaces had causal antecedents. Those in power over education—dominated by people calling themselves 'liberals' and to a lesser extent, 'progressives'—may have claimed they were fostering tolerance, but influential ones weren't, and the data are in. UC Berkeley, which launched the Free Speech Movement in 1964, couldn't manage to combat a violent protest which successfully shut down a talk by provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. And apparently the abridgment of free speech by violence may be successful:>> Mogulof said Berkeley administrators are dedicated to protecting the 1st Amendment and free speech, but certain events might need to have a closer look, especially if there is potential for major disruption and destruction on campus.Without sufficient civic virtue, democracy is not possible.
> Progressivism has targeted many institutions for destruction, because they are believed to oppose the goals of progressivism. A wonderful example would be the family, which is notoriously conservative.Now you're the one going overboard. Progressivism has not "targeted the family for destruction." That's just ridiculous. At *worst* progressivism may have called for the destruction of the *patriarchal* family as a social institution. But mostly what progressivism calls for is simply the *expansion* of the traditional definition of family. Some conservatives *think* that the result of this expansion is the "destruction" of the family, but they are just wrong. Gay people (for example) are getting married and raising children all over the world now and yet the institution of family is still somehow intact.Bringing up kibbutzim is a non-sequitur. No one is calling for the forced imposition of kibbutz life on people who don't choose it for themselves.
I am not talking about gay marriage. (I think conservatives are beyond stupid to think that gay marriage has any destructive power.)I am not talking about what progressives say they are doing. (People in general are excellent at lying, self-deluding, and failing miserably to bring about what they claim to be bringing about.)I am talking about the empirical results. (The family has been devastated. The State is seen as able to do what parents for ages have done. Are we willing to face the evidence of the State's actual track record?) You seem to have missed "not merely in the kibbutz but in the middle-class American family itself". This allowed you to completely ignore the following: "the development of personality traits more compatible with totalitarian regimes than with democracy". Here, I'll pick out the traits listed: • a strong attachment to the peer group • a marked fear of being alone • more or less complete alienation from the past • a strong concern with personal “authenticity” in relations with others, unmediated by conventional forms of politeness or even by respect for the other person’s individuality • a lack of introspection and of a highly developed inner lifeDo you believe these fail to characterize a good number of Americans? What do you think of these traits as being "more compatible with totalitarian regimes than with democracy"?
Given the staggering pace at which the so called president is saying and doing outrageous things, it's useful to keep one question in mind when trying to understand what is happening and what might happen next ... "What would a criminal do?". The mistake that the media and trump's political opponents have made is to analyze his actions in a political or policy context. Criminals have no concern about politics, political institutions or policy outcomes. To criminals, these are merely levers that can be adjusted as needed to manipulate the public and avoid discovery of their true motives. This helps explain trump's seemingly random malleability on every conceivable issue or policy topic. A glimpse into his criminal mindset was revealed during the debates when his response to being challenged by Hillary on not having paid federal taxes for 20 years was that she "...never passed any laws to stop him". This was an ominous sign that he is willing to do anything that he believes he can get away with; a dangerous attribute for someone who occupies an office that has virtually unlimited authority. So, in the context of the most tumultuous first 2 weeks of any presidency, and the obvious paranoia trump feels about his EC only (non-majority) election, the question remains, "what would a criminal do?"The so called president may be ignorant, but he's not stupid; and he (or at least those around him) are certainly aware of the popularity, legitimacy and immunity from criticism that was provided to W. Bush in the aftermath of 911 and the subsequent war in Iraq. So look for some combination of a national military crisis and / or launching of war to take place within the next few months. I believe the failed Yemen raid was a test run of just such a plan (and yes I know the initial planning was under Obama, but the go ahead decision and timing were trump's, so he owns it). Not coincidentally posting fake (10 year old) video, which allegedly showed the assets captured as a result of the failed raid, is exactly the kind of thing a criminal would do.
@Luke> I am talking about the empirical results. (The family has been devastated.Say what??? How is that an empirical result? Where is the evidence that "the family has been devastated"? Maybe I'm living in a bubble, but the family as a social institution seems perfectly intact to me.> Do you believe these fail to characterize a good number of Americans?Given how vague the phrase "a good number" is I suppose it might be true.> What do you think of these traits as being "more compatible with totalitarian regimes than with democracy"?I have no idea. And I am completely at a loss to understand the point you are trying to make here. I don't see what any of the five things you listed has to do with progressivism.
@Ron:> Say what??? How is that an empirical result? Where is the evidence that "the family has been devastated"? Maybe I'm living in a bubble, but the family as a social institution seems perfectly intact to me.You can look at divorce rates, at number of children raised by single parents, at how many parent-hours children get these days, at increases in the age of maturity†, at the kind of emotional shallowness and insecurity which leads to stuff like the Yale Halloween costume nonsense, and so forth. To be simplistic but I don't think overly so: good parenting leads to adults who have the knowledge and wisdom to self-govern; bad parenting leads to adults who need strong men (or women) to solve their problems for them. See, for example, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt's 2015 Atlantic article The Coddling of the American Mind.† A random article I found: Adulthood Extended To Age 25 By Child Psychologists In UK.> > Do you believe these fail to characterize a good number of Americans?> Given how vague the phrase "a good number" is I suppose it might be true.Look, institutions like marriage don't die overnight. They get undermined, and the more that happens, the more psychological and social pathologies you will see. The only question worth asking here, in this context, is whether the number is big enough for it to point to a problem worth investigating.> I have no idea. And I am completely at a loss to understand the point you are trying to make here. I don't see what any of the five things you listed has to do with progressivism.They come from the weakened family bequeathed to us by modernism + progressivism. Progressivism had as a goal a radical reorganization of society. The problem with that is that the family is highly resistant to change. Lasch says it this way: "Of all institutions, the family is the most resistant to change." (Haven, 4)Now to be fair, progressivism isn't the only causal factor. Overproduction from manufacturing in the 1920s was solved by inculcating insatiable desire into the populace, so that (i) they would always want a new model; (ii) they would allow their own tastes to be tutored by advertising. This basically requires juvenilization of the citizenry, which by now has proceeded excellently. Children who aren't getting enough of what they want throw tantrums, which is one plausible way to interpret the demand that Trump "break things".The problem with conversations like this is that truly tracing this stuff is a massive, massive effort. Everyone has their own story to tell and it currently takes a ridiculous amount of effort to compare them and figure out what is most likely true. Much is also predicated upon whether we expect the democratic ideal to be [asymptotically] attainable, or whether we really ought to theorize and plan according to their being a permanent ruling class. After all, juveniles can be easier to control & dominate than adults.
@Luke:> You can look at divorce ratesDivorce rates in the U.S. are at a 40 year low.My guess is that if you looked at divorce rates relative to life expectancy you'd find they are at all-time lows. Staying together til death do you part is a lot easier when death parts you sooner.But the rest of your examples seem valid. OK, I'll grant the premise: there is something the matter with kids today. (Doesn't every generation say that?) I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that the family has been "devastated". And I still don't see what any of this has to do with progressivism.If anything, if I'm hypothesizing from my armchair, I'd say it has more to do with what I will call the "pussyfication" of America, this weird attitude that safety and security should come before all else, including freedom (maybe particularly freedom) and the rule of law. Both the left and the right seem to share this bizarre attitude, but it seems to me that it's far more prevalent on the right. It's not the Democrats calling for walls and Muslim bans in order to Keep America Safe.> Now to be fair, progressivism isn't the only causal factor.I don't see any reason to assign any blame to progressivism *at all*.> The problem with conversations like this is that truly tracing this stuff is a massive, massive effort.Yes. Exactly. This is why I haven't offered up any scientific answers. I don't see that anyone has any (yet).
@Ron:> Divorce rates in the U.S. are at a 40 year low.True, that's probably a dated statistic in this argument, given that fewer people get married and the marriages happen later. If cohabiting parents with children break up, you get the same shattered family which screws over the kids, without the divorce statistic to track it. What we should be looking at is stuff like Fewer than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family. We could also look at Children in single-parent families by race and find that the numbers are disturbingly high for "Black or African American": 66%. Compare to "Non-Hispanic White": 25%. We can then go look at what kind of policies might have been put in place which caused this disparity, which political factions thought that strong families were important, etc.> OK, I'll grant the premise: there is something the matter with kids today. (Doesn't every generation say that?)Not every generation votes an authoritarian into office.> I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that the family has been "devastated". And I still don't see what any of this has to do with progressivism.Well, this requires a more detailed analysis of what progressives have actually accomplished over the past several hundred years. As I've insisted, this must be sharply distinguished from what they said they would accomplish. And of course, this analysis is made quite difficult by the facts that they weren't the only causal power in play and that [plenty of] the facts of history themselves are theory-laden, not neutral.Perhaps it would help to note that we have the same problem here distinguishing between "true progressives" and "self-identified progressives" as there is with "true Christians" and "self-identified Christians". On both attempts to cluster into distinct groups with distinct causal powers, one can question whether the distinction is genuine or artificial. (One can question whether it's a case of No True Scotsman or not.)> I don't see any reason to assign any blame to progressivism *at all*.Ok, I can go ahead and claim that [true] Christianity has never incurred any damage against humanity *at all*. Where would that put us?> Yes. Exactly. This is why I haven't offered up any scientific answers. I don't see that anyone has any (yet).Vannevar Bush suggested that we build the technology to with his Memex, while Ted Nelson updated it with his Project Xanadu. And yet, nobody has yet pulled such a thing off. Any ideas why not? It seems like in order to be scientific, one would require a fairly sophisticated apparatus. I doubt that such a thing is outside of current human capability. What this makes me think is that we don't actually like science all that much when it might conflict with our political leanings and our understandings of history.
> Not every generation votes an authoritarian into office.That's true, but you can't blame "kids today" for that. Millennials voted for Clinton by an 8-point margin.> Well, this requires a more detailed analysis of what progressives have actually accomplished over the past several hundred years.Of the past several *hundred* years? Oh my, you really are tossing me a fat pitch here. Let's start with the end of chattel slavery. Voting rights for women. Basic standards for sanitation and workplace safety. Empowering workers through unions and levying heavy taxes on the wealthy, leading to the largest expansion of the middle class in human history between 1945 and 1980. Medicare, social security, and most recently, Obamacare. The end of Jim Crow. The first black president. The first female major party presidential candidate. Marriage equality.What have conservatives accomplished? Let's see: Slavery. The Civil War. Segregation. Extreme wealth and income disparities. The Great Depression and the Great Recession. The Iraq war. I honestly cannot think of even one positive result of conservatism in the last 500 years.> Perhaps it would help to note that we have the same problem here distinguishing between "true progressives" and "self-identified progressives"Really? What major groups would you cite as examples of SI-progressives who are not "true" progressives?> Ok, I can go ahead and claim that [true] Christianity has never incurred any damage against humanity *at all*. Where would that put us?It would put us back at the no-true-scottsman fallacy.But the situation is not symmetric because I am happy to accept SI-progressives as true progressives.
> That's true, but you can't blame "kids today" for that. Millennials voted for Clinton by an 8-point margin.I wasn't referring to "kids today", I was referring to what has happened to and been done to the family over the last hundred plus years. I'm not sure what to make of the votes of the very young, for they are most susceptible to believing what politicians say. But "kids today" do tell us important things about their parents.> Of the past several *hundred* years?Yes; society has a tremendous amount of momentum located in all sorts of different places. > Let's start with the end of chattel slavery. [...]Why are any of these things relevant to what I've said?> I honestly cannot think of even one positive result of conservatism in the last 500 years.Their focus on subsidiarity seems crucial. If you want a good application of this to our current stage, see Yuval Levin's The Fractured Republic. Jonathan Haidt described it as a "wonderful book", saying that it convinced him of the importance of subsidiarity. (Jonathan Haidt on Socialism and Human Nature, 23:55)The focus on subsidiarity is concomitant with a focus on mediating structures/mediating institutions. The latter article cites de Tocqueville pointing out that mediating institutions are "a bulwark of freedom against the encroaching power of the state". Conservatives tend to think that mediating institutions are quite important, while liberals and progressives tend to want to obliterate them so that the State can impose their view of reality on everyone else. Individual citizens are powerless before the State, but when mediating institutions are not suppressed, they really can stand against the State.> Really? What major groups would you cite as examples of SI-progressives who are not "true" progressives?Not my point; you'd have to define "progressivism" carefully in order to maintain your claim that "I don't see any reason to assign any blame to progressivism *at all*." Either you deny the following happened or you deny that true progressives were a causal force behind it:>> An understanding of the impact of the family on personality, and of the political implications of recent changes that have separated love and constraint, makes it impossible any longer to equate defense of the nuclear family with reactionary politics or criticism of it with radicalism. Many radicals in the seventies have rediscovered the importance of family ties, often without even reading Haven in a Heartless World. Some of them have come to this position out of a need to put their personal lives in order, to reject drugs and sexual promiscuity, and to establish stability and permanence. Others have discovered the value of the family in the course of their experience as community organizers. Those who embraced this kind of practical activity, after the collapse of the visionary politics of the new left, although at first they continued to condemn the family as a bourgeois institution and a bastion of male chauvinsim, soon found that the working-class family constitutes an important cultural resource in the working-class struggle to survive. Haven in a Heartless World, xv)
> Why are any of these things relevant to what I've said?Because you wrote:"Well, this requires a more detailed analysis of what progressives have actually accomplished over the past several hundred years. As I've insisted, this must be sharply distinguished from what they said they would accomplish."So I made a list of things progressives have accomplished. How is that *not* relevant?> Either you deny the following happened or you deny that true progressives were a causal force behind it:OK, I think I see what you're driving at now. It sounds like you're saying something along the lines of: the election of Donald Trump is a result of people acquiring personality traits conducive to supporting an authoritarian government (a strong attachment to the peer group, a marked fear of being alone, etc.). People have acquired those personality traits as a result of the weakening (can we use that word?) of the traditional nuclear family structure, and that in turn was caused by progressive policies and philosophies that either accepted or outright endorsed that weakening. Therefore progressives are to blame for the election of Donald Trump.Is that a fair restatement of your position?
> So I made a list of things progressives have accomplished. How is that *not* relevant?Because the original context was your "dismantling of legal and social institutions that would normally provide checks and balances on Trump's power". I've made clear that I don't think that only progressivism has contributed to this, but that in fact it has, in very important ways it would behoove us to better understand. Progressives' history on slavery is only important if we're forced to either take the abolition of slavery along with the effect I claim they've had on the family, or reject both. I think this is a silly choice.> It sounds like you're saying something along the lines of: the election of Donald Trump is a result of people acquiring personality traits conducive to supporting an authoritarian government (a strong attachment to the peer group, a marked fear of being alone, etc.).Yes. The title of your blog post is, after all, "Autocracy: Rules for Survival by Masha Gessen". I kind of presumed that you'd want to know how to undermine the autocracy. In order to undermine it, I claim it is important to understand what enables it.> People have acquired those personality traits as a result of the weakening (can we use that word?) of the traditional nuclear family structure, and that in turn was caused by progressive policies and philosophies that either accepted or outright endorsed that weakening.The reason I say "devastated" is that it has a minimum amount of "weakening" which is quite large. If you can think of a word that doesn't require "complete destruction" while also requiring more than "a bit of weakening", feel free to advance it.As to the general statement, I don't think that only progressivism was responsible. I'm more inclined to judge each side by its own internal standards and expectations. So for example, those conservatives who believe God gives them wisdom (James 1:5–8) ought to have been much better able to defend the family. Progressives thought many of the functions of the family could be better done outside the family; the empirical evidence shows that they were dead wrong. The recent election indicates that neither families dominated by progressivism nor families dominated by conservativism are competent at raising children who can do a good job of understanding the other side. There is plenty of guilt to go around. We the People got the President that We deserved.> Therefore progressives are to blame for the election of Donald Trump.They bear a not-insignificant portion of the blame, yes. All or most of it? No. Where I would concentrate blame is the use and abuse of science deployed by progressives. Where conservatives tend to appeal to the Bible as a source of wisdom, progressives surely appeal to science. Well, I see a whole lot of culpable neglect of science by progressives and Bible by conservatives.Remember, you love science. What I'm challenging you to do is evaluate whether you've actually neglected science, along with many progressives, such that y'all were culpably blind to a charismatic, authoritarian leader being an increasing danger. One option is to say that we humans just weren't good enough at science to predict Trump, or that such prediction was simply impossible. I would be happy to challenge such a view.
BTW, following up on my note about progressives and what they're doing (have done) to the institutions of America, I suggest a watch of this video (full version):SJWs Flip Out When Ben Shapiro Destroys Social Justice, White Privilege & Safe SpacesIt's kind of obnoxious and quite embarrassing that this happened on US soil. I suggest you have something you can do while watching it, like folding laundry or washing dishes.What you'll see is that disagreement by a certain group of students is dealt with not via rationality, but via verbal intolerance—shouting repetitive phrases so that the scheduled speaker may not advance an argument. Those who engaged in this behavior identified as groups typically championed by progressives. What we can ask is whether the progressive movement has crucially caused this kind of behavior—again, we run into No True Scotsman problems. I haven't done an extensive study on this, but we can consult someone considered a progressive:>> Herbert Marcuse, considered “The Father of the New Left,” articulates a philosophy that denies political expression to those who would oppose a progressive social agenda. In his 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance,” Marcuse (1965) writes,>>>> >> “Tolerance is extended to policies, conditions, and modes of behavior which should not be tolerated because they are impeding, if not destroying, the chances of creating an existence without fear and misery. This sort of tolerance strengthens the tyranny of the majority against which authentic liberals protested… Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”>>>> (Heterodox Academy 2015-09-23 How Marcuse made today’s students less tolerant than their parents)We can then ask whether this kind of intolerance is good, bad, or neutral, for the "dismantling of legal and social institutions that would normally provide checks and balances on Trump's power". I think it is distinctly bad, and likely enables the "alternative facts" phenomenon which has been going on for some time now, although it's blatantly in the open now. If I'm not interested in rationally engaging you, I'm just not going to need to understand your position well, nor what you claim to be important facts. Instead, I can just shout you down. Or as I indicated earlier, I can deploy violence to prevent a talk, with absolutely minimal law enforcement.Going further, we can ask what it took to get to this position. For example, are the students in the video merely doing more overtly what they saw their parents doing— perhaps less vocally and with a nicer expression on their faces—when confronted with other ideas for what kind of world we ought to bring into existence and how we should get there? For how long has this rot been going on?
> I see a whole lot of culpable neglect of science by progressivesExamples? Evidence?(Note that a handful of anecdotes do not support the claim of a "whole lot of culpable neglect".)
> > I see a whole lot of culpable neglect of science by progressives> Examples? Evidence?We already have your stance on Democrats & their history with nuclear power. Do we need to investigate how exactly the Progressive element of the Democratic Party fits into that matter?We have a neglect of the study of the importance of two-parent homes for the welfare of children, and/or a neglect of bringing such studies to bear on public policy. Democrats claim that they care a lot for blacks, and yet we have that split I cited: 66% of black children live in single-parent homes, while 25% of white children do. We could go and look at how welfare and other policies discouraged marriage, and how little encouragement there has been for marriage. The State substitutes very, very poorly for the [statistically:] father.We have the fact that tolerance was preached & requested & sorta-promised and yet increasing intolerance is what we see in precisely those institutions increasingly dominated by liberals (including progressives). I cited the flagrantly intolerant strategy by someone called "The Father of the New Left". If you'd like a growing trove of evidence on this intolerance in higher education, take a look at Heterodox Academy. If you want peer-reviewed sociological research, see the specific blog post Victimhood culture explains what is happening at Emory. Do I need to connect this intolerance to a refusal to engage in rational discourse based on the evidence?Any time that progressives pretend that democracy is more than façade to their constituents, they are either engaged in lying, self-delusion, or de facto patriarchy (often described as a "nanny state"). These are all deeply anti-scientific behaviors, unless you are of the opinion that the only people qualified to be scientists are a rather small elite. If progressives are truly interested in approaching the ideal of democracy, they will be quite happy to admit the extent to which our current government falls short of that ideal. Do they? Not in any appreciable way that I've seen. In and of itself, this seems to qualify as "a whole lot of culpable neglect of science". Alternatively, we could say that the realm of social order is more fiction than fact, a route I would be happy to discuss.
@Ron: BTW, I suggest revisiting my response to your "I honestly cannot think of even one positive result of conservatism in the last 500 years." In order to arrive at what you called "an excellent analogy" about free speech + [limited liability] corporations + money, I had to deploy thinking that is generally associated strongly with conservatism. I'll let a renowned American sociologist describe the matter:>> The broad tradition of liberal ideology, all the way back to the Enlightenment, has an especially close relationship to the process of modernization. Indeed, the argument can be made that this tradition embodies the myth of modernity more than any other. It is not surprising, then, that it has been singularly blind to the importance and at times even the very existence of mediating structures. Liberalism is, above all, a faith in rationality. Its designs for society are highly rational, abstract, universalistic. Burke, in criticizing the programs of the French revolutionaries, aptly called them "geometrical." Liberalism, of course, has undergone profound transformations since then, in France as elsewhere. In America, as has often been pointed out, liberalism underwent a remarkable conversion in this century, basically from faith in the market to faith in government (paradoxically, those adhering to the older version of the liberal creed now call themselves conservatives). Yet the underlying faith in the powers of rationality has remained unchanged. While before the anonymous forces of the market (Adam Smith's "invisible hand") were supposed to make human affairs come out in accord with rationality, now the planning and controls of government are expected to achieve that salvific result. It is precisely the mediating structures that stand in the way of this "geometry." They are "irrational" (that is, based on emotion and value, not on functional utility), concrete, highly particularistic, and ipso facto resistant to the rationales of either market or government. In terms of contemporary American liberalism, the sundry "irrationalities" of human life are firmly assigned to the private sphere (where liberals are sincerely committed to protecting them under the rubric of individual rights). As far as public policy is concerned, "geometry" continues to reign. No better up-to-date illustration of this can be found than the liberally inspired designs for rational integration in places like Boston or Louisville, abstract "geometries" imposed without regard for the fabric of communities in which people live their daily lives. (Facing Up to Modernity, 135–36)Careful thinking about how mediating structures work is simply not a high priority for those Peter Berger describes. Berger writes elsewhere:>> There the great concern is for the individual ("the rights of man") and for a just public order, but anything "in between" is viewed as irrelevant, or even an obstacle, to the rational ordering of society. (To Empower People, 161)Perhaps conservatives (of which I don't particularly identify—I think everyone is pretty fucked up at this point in time) have something to offer, after all? Something perhaps rather valuable, if overturning Citizens United with rigorous philosophical–jurisprudential reasoning is considered important?
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