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jerryking : freedom   7

Opinion | Dealing With China Isn’t Worth the Moral Cost
Oct. 9, 2019 | The New York Times | By Farhad Manjoo.

We thought economic growth and technology would liberate China. Instead, it corrupted us.

The People’s Republic of China is the largest, most powerful and arguably most brutal totalitarian state in the world. It denies basic human rights to all of its nearly 1.4 billion citizens. There is no freedom of speech, thought, assembly, religion, movement or any semblance of political liberty in China. Under Xi Jinping, “president for life,” the CCP has built the most technologically sophisticated repression machine the world has ever seen. In Xinjiang, in Western China, the government is using technology to mount a cultural genocide against the Muslim Uighur minority that is even more total than the one it carried out in Tibet. Human rights experts say that more than a million people are being held in detention camps in Xinjiang, two million more are in forced “re-education,” and everyone else is invasively surveilled via ubiquitous cameras, artificial intelligence and other high-tech means.

None of this is a secret. Under Xi, China has grown markedly more Orwellian;......Why do we give China a pass? In a word: capitalism. Because for 40 years, the West’s relationship with China has been governed by a strategic error the dimensions of which are only now coming into horrific view.......A parade of American presidents on the left and the right argued that by cultivating China as a market — hastening its economic growth and technological sophistication while bringing our own companies a billion new workers and customers — we would inevitably loosen the regime’s hold on its people....the West’s entire political theory about China has been spectacularly wrong. China has engineered ferocious economic growth in the past half century, lifting hundreds of millions of its citizens out of miserable poverty. But China’s growth did not come at any cost to the regime’s political chokehold....It is also now routinely corrupting the rest of us outside of China......the N.B.A.’s hasty and embarrassing apology this week after Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, tweeted — and quickly deleted — a message in support of Hong Kong’s protesters......The N.B.A. is far from the first American institution to accede to China’s limits on liberty. Hollywood, large tech companies and a variety of consumer brands — from Delta to Zara — have been more than willing to play ball. The submission is spreading: .....This sort of corporate capitulation is hardly surprising. For Western companies, China is simply too big and too rich a market to ignore, let alone to pressure or to police. .....it will only get worse from here, and we are fools to play this game. There is a school of thought that says America should not think of China as an enemy. With its far larger population, China’s economy will inevitably come to eclipse ours, but that is hardly a mortal threat. In climate change, the world faces a huge collective-action problem that will require global cooperation. According to this view, treating China like an adversary will only frustrate our own long-term goals......this perspective leaves out the threat that greater economic and technological integration with China poses to everyone outside of China. It ignores the ever-steeper capitulation that China requires of its partners. And it overlooks the most important new factor in the Chinese regime’s longevity: the seductive efficiency that technology offers to effect a breathtaking new level of control over its population......Through online surveillance, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and the propagandistic gold mine of social media, China has mobilized a set of tools that allow it to invisibly, routinely repress its citizens and shape political opinion by manipulating their feelings and grievances on just about any controversy.....Chinese-style tech-abetted surveillance authoritarianism could become a template for how much of the world works.
adversaries  artificial_intelligence  authoritarianism  brands  capitalism  capitulation  China  China_rising  Chinese_Communist_Party  climate_change  collective_action  cultural_genocide  decoupling  despots  errors  facial_recognition  Farhad_Manjoo  freedom  Hollywood  Hong_Kong  human_rights  influence  NBA  op-ed  Orwell  propaganda  repression  self-corruption  surveillance  surveillance_state  technology  threats  Tibet  totalitarianism  tyranny  Uyghurs  unintended_consequences  values  Xi_Jinping 
october 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | Useless Knowledge Begets New Horizons
Jan. 3, 2019 | The New York Times | By Bret Stephens, Opinion Columnist.

Fundamental discoveries don’t always have practical uses, but they have soul-saving applications......In October 1939, as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were plunging the world into war, an American educational reformer named Abraham Flexner published an essay in Harper’s magazine under the marvelous title, “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge.”

Noting the way in which the concerns of modern education increasingly turned toward worldly problems and practical vocations, Flexner made a plea for “the cultivation of curiosity” for its own sake.....The marriage of disinterested science and technological wizardry on the farthest-flung adventures of the human race is what John Adams had in mind when he wrote that he had to “study Politicks and War that my sons may have the liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy.” It is among the greatest fulfillments of the American dream.....Typically, we think of the American dream in materialistic terms — a well-paid job; a half-acre lot; children with better opportunities than our own. Or we think of it in political terms, as an ever-expanding domain of ever-greater freedom and equality.

But prosperity, freedom, equality for what? The deep critique of the liberal society is that it refuses on principle to supply an answer: Each of us lives in pursuit of a notion of happiness that is utterly subjective, generally acquisitive and almost inevitably out of reach — what psychologists call the “hedonic treadmill.” Religious cults and authoritarian systems work differently: Purposes are given, answers supplied, questions discouraged or forbidden, and the burdens of individual choice and moral agency are largely lifted. They are dictatorships of meaning.....Flexner’s case for such untrammeled freedom isn’t that it’s a good unto itself. Freedom also produces a lot of garbage. His case is that freedom is the license the roving mind requires to go down any path it chooses and go as far as the paths may lead. This is how fundamental discoveries — a.k.a., “useless knowledge” — are usually made: not so much by hunting for something specific, but by wandering with an interested eye amid the unknown. It’s also how countries attract and cultivate genius — by protecting a space of unlimited intellectual permission, regardless of outcome....All of this, of course, has its ultimate uses — hence the “usefulness” of Flexner’s title. Newton’s third law of motion begets, after 250 years, the age of the rocket; the discovery of the double helix delivers, several decades later, Crispr. It’s also how nations gain or lose greatness. The “reorganized” universities of fascist Italy and Germany had no place for Leo Szilard, Enrico Fermi or Albert Einstein. They became the Allies’ ultimate weapon in World War II.

Which brings us back to New Horizons, Osiris-Rex, InSight and every other piece of gear flying through the heavens at taxpayer expense and piling up data atop our already vast stores of useless knowledge. What are they doing to reduce poverty? Nothing. Environmental degradation? Zippo. The opioid crisis? Still less.

And yet, in being the kind of society that does this kind of thing — that is, the kind that sends probes to the edge of the solar system; underwrites the scientific establishment that knows how to design and deploy these probes; believes in the value of knowledge for its own sake; cultivates habits of truthfulness, openness, collaboration and risk-taking; enlists the public in the experience, and shares the findings with the rest of the world — we also discover the highest use for useless knowledge: Not that it may someday have some life-saving application on earth, though it might, but that it has a soul-saving application in the here and now, reminding us that the human race is not a slave to questions of utility alone.
breakthroughs  Bret_Stephens  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  Colleges_&_Universities  Crispr  curiosity  exploration  expeditions  free_speech  free_will  freedom  fundamental_discoveries  human_race  Joseph_Stalin  knowledge  op-ed  serendipity  soul-enriching  space_exploration  the_American_dream 
january 2019 by jerryking
Hot Links and Red Drinks: The Rich Food Tradition of Juneteenth - The New York Times
By NICOLE TAYLOR JUNE 13, 2017

For over 150 years, African-Americans have gathered on June 19 — the day known as Juneteenth — to celebrate freedom. The holiday is rooted in Texas, signifying the day in 1865 when, more than two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a Union general who had made his way to Galveston delivered the news that slavery had been abolished. Texans who had been chattel erupted in triumph.
Abraham_Lincoln  African-Americans  celebrations  Civil_War  Emancipation  freedom  Juneteenth  picnics  slavery  Texas  the_South  traditions 
june 2017 by jerryking
Magna Carta: A powerful symbol of justice triumphing over tyranny - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Feb. 02 2015

mark the 800th anniversary of the charter’s signing
Magna_Carta  tyrants  freedom  anniversaries 
february 2015 by jerryking
Magna Carta provides a historical anchor for our rights - The Globe and Mail
JOHN ALLEMANG
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Feb. 02 2015,

mark the 800th anniversary of the charter’s signing
Magna_Carta  law  freedom  tyrants  anniversaries  rights 
february 2015 by jerryking
Old like me. Why elderly care needs more risk - The Globe and Mail
Saskia Sivananthan

Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Mar. 23 2014

We must rethink our approach to managing risk in nursing homes, especially when doing so means limiting residents’ freedom to choose their own way.

It’s a poignant reminder of the daily challenges staff and residents at every nursing home face. They are also part of a theme that played into almost every aspect of my stay: How do you balance safety with autonomy for residents?

Safety is clearly important; often people move to nursing homes precisely because they can no longer manage living without 24-hour care. At the same time, this tightrope balance invokes the fear paramount in most people’s mind when they think about institutional living – losing their autonomy, not choking on breakfast.

The regulations for long-term care in most provinces prioritize medical needs and safety over autonomy. Public reporting of quality indicators at long-term care homes include safety as one of five attributes of a high-performing system – but autonomy is not considered.....we take these calculated risks every day: slicing bread, crossing the street, staying up late. Suddenly being regarded as unable to make decisions you’ve made all your life contributes to a feeling of disempowerment. In our attempt to remove all risk in nursing homes we have ended up with regulations that are so extreme that residents may no longer have autonomy or feel at home....Many of the new models of long-term care homes coming out of Europe have embraced this concept of calculated risk. There is a much lauded dementia village Hogeweyk in the Netherlands.....Denmark also focuses on autonomy. Nursing homes there are truly run as ‘homes’ rather than institutions, with the result that residents become family. One facility of 23 residents, 70 per cent of whom have dementia, takes Caribbean vacations together. Imagine the risk.

We must rethink our approach to managing risk in nursing homes, especially when doing so means limiting residents’ freedom to choose their own way.

One writer described a nursing home in Denmark as a place where “…old people could drink, laugh and love themselves into death.” When I have to go back to a nursing home, that’s where I want to go.
aging  elderly  free_will  freedom  nursing_homes  safety  autonomy  tradeoffs  disempowerment  risks  risk-taking  counterintuitive 
march 2014 by jerryking
Book Review: Bound for Canaan | John J. Miller | Hey Miller
WALL STREET JOURNAL
March 29, 2005

DESTINATION, FREEDOM

JOHN J. MILLER

BOUND FOR CANAAN
By Fergus M. Bordewich
(Amistad, 540 pages, $27.95)
Underground_Railroad  slavery  Quakers  freedom  book_reviews 
november 2011 by jerryking

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