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robertogreco : francisfukuyama   7

The Coddling of the American Mind review – how elite US liberals have turned rightwards | Books | The Guardian
"The style that does befit an expert, apparently, is the style of TED talks, thinktanks and fellow Atlantic writers and psychologists. The citations in this book draw a circle around a closed world. In offering a definition of “identity politics”, a term coined by the black socialist lesbians of the Combahee River Collective (and the subject of a recent book edited by Yamahtta-Taylor), Lukianoff and Haidt quote “Jonathan Rauch, a scholar at the Brookings Institution”. They tell their readers to read Pinker, whose fulsome blurb appears on their book jacket.

The book ends with a list of recommendations for fixing young people and universities. “We think that things will improve, and may do so quite suddenly at some point in the next few years,” they conclude, suddenly cheery. Why? “As far as we can tell from private conversations, many and perhaps most university presidents reject the culture of safetyism,” even if “they find it politically difficult to say so publicly”. Based on conversations with high school and college students, the authors believe that most of them “despise call-out culture”.

“Private conversations” that they cannot describe seem like thin evidence from a social scientist and a lawyer whose motto is “Carpe datum!” A few chapters earlier, they bewail the ethos of “customer service” that has led universities to coddle students, but here they are confident that “if a small group of universities is able to develop a different sort of academic culture … market forces will take care of the rest”.

Who will fix the crisis? The people who are already in charge. How? Simply by being open about what they already secretly believe. The rhetorical appeal, here, shares a structure with the appeal that carried the enemy in chief of political correctness to the White House: “That’s just common sense.”

Lukianoff and Haidt go out of their way to reassure us: “Neither of us has ever voted for a Republican for Congress or the presidency.” Like Mark Lilla, Pinker and Francis Fukuyama, who have all condemned identity politics in recent books, they are careful to distinguish themselves from the unwashed masses – those who also hate identity politics and supposedly brought us Donald Trump. In fact, the data shows that it was precisely the better-off people in poor places, perhaps not so unlike these famous professors in the struggling academy, who elected Trump; but never mind. I believe that these pundits, like the white suburban Dad in the horror film Get Out, would have voted for Barack Obama a third time.

Still, they may protest too much. In the midst of what Fukuyama, citing his colleague Larry Diamond, calls a “democratic recession”, the consensus that has ruled liberal institutions for the past two decades is cracking up. The media has made much of the leftward surge lifting Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But as this new left-liberalism gains strength, a growing number of white men who hold power in historically liberal institutions seem to be breaking right.

As more and more Americans, especially young Americans, express enthusiasm for democratic socialism, a new right-liberalism answers. Its emerging canon first defined itself in reaction to new social movements highlighting the structural or systemic elements of identity-based oppression. By deriding those movements as “clicktivism” or mere “hashtags”, right-liberal pundits also, implicitly, expressed frustration at how web platforms were breaking up their monopoly on discourse. In January 2015, weeks after a wave of massive Black Lives Matter protests, Jonathan Chait decried Twitter as the launch pad of a “new pc movement”. In the conclusion of The Once and Future Liberal, Lilla singled out Black Lives Matter for special condemnation, calling it “a textbook example of how not to build solidarity”. Andrew Sullivan has criticised “the excesses of #MeToo”. Just last week, Harper’s and the New York Review of Books published long personal essays in which men accused of serial sexual harassment and assault defended themselves and described their sense of persecution by online “mobs”.

Lukianoff and Haidt share some benefactors and allies with the well-established right that funded Bloom and D’Souza. (Lukianoff works at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit group that receives funding from the Scaife and Olin families.) But, reading The Coddling of the American Mind, I was more struck by their points of proximity to the newer Trumpist right.

Like Trump, the authors romanticise a past before “identity” but get fuzzy and impatient when history itself comes up. “Most of these schools once excluded women and people of colour,” they reflect. “But does that mean that women and people of colour should think of themselves as ‘colonised populations’ today?” You could approach this question by looking at data on racialised inequality in the US, access to universities, or gendered violence. They don’t. They leave it as a rhetorical question for “common sense” to answer.

Their narrow perception of history severely limits the explanations Lukianoff and Haidt can offer for the real problems they identify. Can you understand the “paranoia” middle-class parents have about college admissions without considering how many of their children are now downwardly mobile? How are college teachers supposed to confidently court controversy when so many of them have zero security in jobs that barely pay above poverty wages?

Just as they appear to lack a clear explanation of why the “terrible ideas” that are “harming students” have taken hold, they don’t seem to have a theory of how good ideas cause change. At one point, they note that Pauli Murray, one of their exemplars of “common humanity identity politics”, recently had a college at Yale named after her, as if this proved that in an unregulated market, the right ideas do win in the end. But Yale did not just happen to remember this law school graduate, half a century later; Yale named Pauli Murray College following countless student protests around Black Lives Matter – and after a cafeteria worker named Corey Menafee, who got sick of looking at pictures of happy slaves in Yale’s Calhoun College, put his broom through a stained glass window, and his union came to his defence.

For all their self-conscious reasonableness, and their promises that CBT can master negative emotion, Lukianoff and Haidt often seem slightly hurt. They argue that intersectionality theory divides people into good and bad. But the scholars they quote do not use this moral language; those scholars talk about privilege and power. Bad is how these men feel when someone suggests they have had it relatively easy – and that others have had to lose the game that was made for men like them to win. Their problem with “microaggressions” is this framework emphasises impact over intentions, a perspective that they dismiss as clearly ludicrous. Can’t these women and minorities see we mean well? This is the incredulity of people who have never feared being stereotyped. It can turn to indignation, fast.

If there is a new right-liberal dispensation, the two-step from shame to rage about shame may be what brings it closest to the Trumpists. Hints of elective affinities between elite liberalism and the “alt-right” have been evident for a while now. The famous essay that Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos wrote in 2016, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right”, cites Haidt approvingly. At one point Lukianoff and Haidt rehearse a narrative about Herbert Marcuse that has been a staple of white nationalist conspiracy theories about “cultural Marxism” for decades. Nassim Taleb, whose book Antifragile Haidt and Lukianoff credit with one of their core beliefs and cite repeatedly as inspiration, is a fixture of the far right “manosphere” that gathers on Reddit/pol and returnofkings.com.

The commonality raises questions about the proximity of their enthusiasm for CBT to the vogue for “Stoic” self-help in the Red Pill community, founded on the principle that it is men, rather than women, who are oppressed by society. So, too, does it raise questions about the discipline of psychology – how cognitive and data-driven turns in that field formed Haidt and his colleagues Pinker and Jordan Peterson. Lilla admits to envying the effectiveness of the “right-wing media complex”. It is hard to imagine that Haidt does not feel some such stirrings about Peterson, who is, after all, selling more copies of self-help books marketed as civilisational critique. Lukianoff and Haidt quote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago as an epigraph and key inspiration; Peterson, who frequently lectures on the book, wrote the introduction to the 50th-anniversary edition Penguin will publish in November.

Predictably, Lukianoff and Haidt cite Martin Luther King as a spokesperson for “good” identity politics – the kind that focuses on common humanity rather than differences. But there was a reason the speech they quote was called “I Have a Dream” and addressed to people marching for jobs. Keeping faith with the ideal that all humans are created equal means working to create conditions under which we might, in fact, thrive equally. In the absence of this commitment to making the dream come true, insisting that everyone must act as if we are already in the promised land can feel a lot like trolling. Why are you making such a big deal about identity, Lukianoff and Haidt ask again and again, of people whose identities, fixed to their bodies by centuries of law and bureaucracy and custom make them vastly more likely to be poor or raped, or killed by the police, or deep in debt. Seize the data! But not all kinds of data.

In his book, The Reactionary Mind, the political theorist Corey Robin paraphrases Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: since Edmund Burke, effective reactionaries … [more]
moiraweigel  liberalism  neoliberalism  2018  greglukianoff  jonathanhaidt  allanbloom  rogerkimball  dineshd'souza  stevenpinker  jonathanauch  brookingsinstitution  marklilla  francisfukuyama  academia  blacklivesmatter  coreyrobin  giuseppetomasidilampedusa  edmundburke  davidreminck  stevebannon  identitypolitics  politics  society  change  progress 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Is Children of Men 2016’s Most Relevant Film? -- Vulture
"Now, in 2016, Children of Men is having a remarkable resurgence — not just because of its tenth anniversary but because of its unsettling relevance at the conclusion of this annus horribilis. There have been glowing reappraisals on grounds both sociopolitical (Children of Men is “obviously something that should be on people’s minds after Brexit and after the rise of Donald Trump,” political scientist Francis Fukuyama declared in September) and artistic (“Children of Men, like no other film this century, and perhaps no other movie ever, solves the meaning of life,” wrote Vanity Fair columnist Richard Lawson in August). It’s getting the kind of online attention it sorely lacked ten years ago, generating recent headlines like “The Syrian Refugee Crisis Is Our Children of Men Moment” and “Are We Living in the Dawning of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men?” As critic David Ehrlich put it in November, “Children of Men may be set in 2027,” but in 2016, “it suddenly became clear that its time had come.”

Cuarón, however, is not feeling like taking an overdue victory lap. Curled over a table in an upscale Mexico City restaurant recently, the 55-year-old director gets a little irritated when I laud the film’s imaginative prescience. “This thing was not imagination,” he says, jabbing his index finger into the tablecloth. By Cuarón’s estimation, anyone surprised at the accuracy of his movie’s predictions was either uninformed or willfully ignorant about the way the world already was by 2006. “People were talking about those things, just not in the mainstream!” he says. He was reading about refugees, know-nothing reactionaries, and eerie disruptions in biological processes during the early '00s. If Children of Men can be said to have a message, Cuarón encapsulates it: “What’s really relevant now,” he tells me, “is to stop being complacent.”"



"Action. Owen ran, Richmond followed, and astoundingly, all was going smoothly. They got to a hollowed-out bus filled with people, through which Theo is supposed to scamper. Suddenly, one of the squibs misfired and, horror of horrors, a squirt of fake blood landed on the lens. Cuarón, watching on a monitor, felt his world collapse. “I yell, ‘Cut!’ ” he says, recounting the moment like a ghost story. “But an explosion happens at the same time, so nobody hears me.” The camera kept rolling, and Cuarón realized he had no choice but to let it play through, even though he was sure the shot was ruined and had no idea how he would proceed. “When we said, ‘Cut,’ Chivo starts dancing like crazy,” he says. “And I was like, ‘No, it didn’t work! There’s blood!’ And Chivo turns to me and says, ‘You stupid! That was a miracle!’ ” Chivo was right. One of the film’s enduring strengths is how it uses hyper-minute details to lull you into accepting the plausibility of this dire reality: bus advertisements that hawk trendy clothes for dogs (kids may be gone, but capitalism isn’t, so wouldn’t the Gap push you to dress your pets?); Theo casually asking Julian if her parents were “in New York when it happened” and never explaining what terrifying event “it” might have been; or the elderly, white, German refugee using her native tongue to indignantly weep about being herded alongside Schwarzen. The blood-squib shot encapsulates this aesthetic, and has since become famous — an eerie moment that, once seen, can’t be shaken, even ten years later. This dystopia doesn’t feel like a metaphor or a cautionary tale; it feels like a revelation of deeper truth. As one of Children of Men’s biggest fans, Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek, put it in a documentary featurette that accompanied the DVD release, “A good portrait is more you than you are, yourself, and I think this is what the film does with our reality … It simply makes reality more what it already is.”"



"I saw Children of Men by accident on January 1, 2007, after finding that the movie I’d intended to see — Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima, if I recall correctly — was sold out. I picked Children of Men despite knowing absolutely nothing about it, and seeing it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. I came back to the theater to see Children of Men at least a half-dozen times over the following weeks. Then, a strange thing started to happen at night. I would dream about the final scene, in which Theo and Kee sit in the rowboat, awaiting the ship whose existence Theo won’t live to confirm. Upon waking, I’d find myself sobbing uncontrollably, soaking my pillow and heaving my gut.

Only after speaking with Cuarón did I realize why I wept: not with sorrow, but with hope for my own future. Children of Men imagines a fallen world, yes, but it also imagines a once-cynical person being reborn with purpose and clarity. It’s a story about how people like me, those who have the luxury of tuning out, need to awaken. This has been a brutal year, but we were already suffering from a kind of spiritual infertility: The old ideologies long ago stopped working. In a period where the philosophical pillars supporting the global left, right, and center are crumbling, the film’s desperate plea for the creation and protection of new ideas feels bracingly relevant.

Even though that lesson eluded me for a decade, I retained a passionate affection for Children of Men, long ago losing count of the number of times I’ve watched it. So it’s been deeply satisfying to see its robust second life among critics: It was particularly gratifying to see that, when the BBC polled 177 critics for a master list of the greatest films of the 21st century, Children of Men clocked in at number 13, beating out canonical flicks like 12 Years a Slave, Brokeback Mountain, Lost in Translation, and The Master.

Oddly enough, Cuarón doesn’t seem interested in talking about the film’s critical reappraisal, nor in agreeing that it is more relevant now than it was in 2006. We met up 12 days after Trump’s victory, and I expected him to be in full end-is-nigh mode, but he was relentlessly pleasant. He said he was not surprised that the atavistic rage of the Brexiters and Trumpists had overcome the weakening forces of centrist democracy. But most important, Cuarón was, against all odds, confident that better days lie ahead. “I used to think that any solution would come from the paradigms that I know,” he says. “Now I think that the only thing is to think of the unimaginable. For the new generation, the unimaginable is not as unimaginable.”

But, I counter, thanks to climate change, won’t we all be underwater pretty soon? Sure, he says, climate change could decimate humanity, but that’s no excuse to give in to fatalism. “There would be, still, pockets of populations that will scatter around the world,” he says. “What’s at stake is the culture as we know it.” Humans will continue to exist — and we have a responsibility to build a culture of respect and mutual assistance. It seems so dreadfully unlikely, but we are obligated to hope.

Cuarón is very specific about what he means by that word. For him, it is not a passive thing. It is not a messianic thing, either — he speaks derisively of the idea that you could vote for Barack Obama, then sit back passively and feel disappointed. “The hope is something that you create,” he says. “You live by hoping and then you create that change. Hope is trying to change your present for a better world. It’s pretty much up to you.” The gap between our world and that of Children of Men is closing rapidly, but he refuses to give up his faith in our wayward species. There are dark days ahead, to be sure, but perhaps they will also be days of transformation. “Look, I’m absolutely pessimistic about the present,” Cuarón says. “But I’m very optimistic about the future.”"
alfonsocuarón  childrenofmen  2016  2006  film  movies  abrahamriesman  climatechange  optimism  hope  refugees  francisfukuyama  richardlawson  complacency  dystopia  emmanuellubezki  filmmaking 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Phantom Public | Dissent Magazine
"Today you don’t have to be a card-carrying McLuhanite to believe that forms of media have their own inherent politics. Many academics and pundits have built their reputations arguing that the rise of the internet leads to the decentralization and democratization of communication, and of social life more broadly. While some contemporary critics have challenged this sort of “technological determinism,” the proposition that new media is irrelevant to understanding politics is equally problematic. We need more historically informed analyses of the way power operates in an era of digital networks and electronic media, and more pointed critiques of the ways the powerful purposefully obscure their influence over and through these channels.

The work of Stanford historian Fred Turner is a good place to start. As he explains in his fascinating and illuminating 2013 book The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties, McLuhan’s apparently pioneering thinking on media owes a large and largely forgotten debt to an earlier group of anti-fascist campaigners and well-meaning Cold Warriors. They were the first to articulate a vision of a media-driven democracy that, though never perfectly implemented, has suffused much of today’s popular thinking about the internet and social media."



"Was another world possible? It is clear that part of the reason that Turner wrote The Democratic Surround was to remind us of good ideas that have been abandoned and alternative paths not taken. As he writes in the book’s introduction, “What has disappeared is the deeply democratic vision that animated the turn toward mediated environments in the first place, and that sustained it across the 1950s and into the 1960s.” It is this “radically liberal, diverse, and egalitarian” vision that Turner wishes to recover through his research; he hopes that “with a new generation’s efforts, it might yet live there again.” It sounds desirable enough. Yet for such ideals to be revived we have to better understand the way their absence adversely affects us, and that’s something Turner never clearly articulates.

For Turner a pivotal rift occurred in the 1960s, when the politically oriented New Left and the free-spirited counterculture parted ways. In tracing the roots of the “Be-Ins” and “Happenings” to the democratic surrounds of preceding decades, Turner highlights the shortcomings of the former, making the case that some critical democratic potential got lost. The multimedia experimentation of the period—and the counterculture more broadly, in Turner’s view—promoted the personal psyche as the proper terrain of social change; collective responsibility, effective organization, and direct action got the shaft. No doubt Turner is right that our political ambitions have become contracted and privatized, but placing so much blame at the feet of the counterculture seems both overstated and oversimplified when you consider the larger economic and social forces involved. The countercultural mindset Turner laments was more a symptom of neoliberalism’s ascension than its cause.

Of course the counterculture is hardly the only realm of diminished utopian horizons. In 1946 and 1949 Norbert Wiener wrote two agonized letters on the politics of technology. The first, published in the Atlantic Monthly under the title “A Scientist Rebels,” was a response to an employee of the Boeing Aircraft Company who had requested a copy of an out-of-print article. Though he conducted military research during the Second World War, Wiener refused to share his paper, deploring the “tragic insolence of the military mind” and the “bombing or poisoning of defenseless peoples” to which his scientific ideas might contribute. The second was an unsolicited warning about advances in automation to Walter Reuther of the Union of Automobile Workers, declaring that he had “turned down unconditionally” invitations to consult for corporations. “I do not wish to contribute in any way to selling labor down the river,” he wrote.

Wiener agonized over the role of science in a world warped by power imbalances, particularly economic ones. And he chose sides. In our own age, it is imperative that more people take similar stands. Turner suggests that if enough people do—and if they come together and advocate for their beliefs by building associations and institutions—they may have more of an impact in the long term than they could ever imagine at the outset. But this comes with a warning: their efforts might lead us to a situation they could neither anticipate nor comprehend. “Were the world we dream of attained, members of that new world would be so different from ourselves that they would no longer value it in the same terms in which we now desire it,” Margaret Mead says in an epigraph that begins The Democratic Surround. “We would no longer be at home in such a world.” Those of us who live within the surround and under the managerial mode of control, and who hope to change it, can only welcome the possibility of one day finding ourselves discomfited and cast out from the world we call home."
2016  astrataylor  cybernetics  marshalmcluhan  history  internet  web  online  media  counterculture  norbertweiner  thesaltsummaries  stevenpinker  clayshirky  francisfukuyama  chrisanderson  nassimtaleb  niallferguson  fredturner  theodoradorno  stewartbrand  wholeearthcatalog  well  kenkesey 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The ARPANET Dialogues
"an archive of rare conversations within the contemporary social, political and cultural milieu"

Vol. I
Published on 9 October 2010
ARPANET Test 1975 with Marcel Broodthaers, Jane Fonda, Ronald Reagan & Edward Said…

Vol. II
Published on 14 March 2011
ARPANET Test June 1976 with Samir Amin, Steve Biko, Francis Fukuyama & Minoru Yamasaki…

Vol. III
Published on 1 November 2011
ARPANET Test March 1976 with Joseph Beuys, Juan Downey, Rosalind Krauss & Henry Moore…

Vol. IV
Published on 4 March 2012
ARPANET Test April 1976 with Jim Henson, Ayn Rand, Sidney Nolan & Yoko Ono…"

[See also: http://meaning.boxwith.com/projects/the-arpanet-dialogues and http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2011/04/so-reagan-signs-into-this-chatroom.html ]
satire  humor  internet  darpa  donaldlupton  artdubai2011  manifesta8  1975  1976  yokoono  sidneynolan  aynrand  jimhenson  henrymoore  rosalindkrauss  juandowney  josephbeuys  minoruyamasaki  francisfukuyama  stevebiko  samiramin  edwardsaid  ronaldreagan  janefonda  marcelbroodthaers  conversations  culture  philosophy  politics  netart  history  arpanet 
december 2012 by robertogreco
[this is aaronland] signs of life [These quotes are only from the beginning. I recommend reading the whole thing.]
"I've been thinking a lot about motive & intent for the last few years. How we recognize motive &… how we measure its consequence.

This is hardly uncharted territory. You can argue easily enough that it remains the core issue that all religion, philosophy & politics struggle with. Motive or trust within a community of individuals.

…Bruce Schneier…writes:

"In today's complex society, we often trust systems more than people. It's not so much that I trusted the plumber at my door as that I trusted the systems that produced him & protect me."

I often find myself thinking about motive & consequence in the form of a very specific question: Who is allowed to speak on behalf of an organization?

To whom do we give not simply the latitude of interpretation, but the luxury of association, with the thing they are talking about …

Institutionalizing or formalizing consequence is often a way to guarantee an investment but that often plows head-first in to the subtlies of real-life."

[Video here: https://vimeo.com/51515289 ]
dunbartribes  schrodinger'sbox  scale  francisfukuyama  capitalism  industrialrevolution  technology  rules  control  algorithms  creepiness  siri  drones  robots  cameras  sensors  robotreadableworld  humans  patterns  patternrecognition  patternmatching  gerhardrichter  robotics  johnpowers  dia:beacon  jonathanwallace  portugal  lisbon  brandjacking  branding  culturalheritage  culture  joannemcneil  jamesbridle  future  politics  philosophy  religion  image  collections  interpretation  representation  complexity  consequences  cooper-hewitt  photography  filters  instagram  flickr  museums  systemsthinking  systems  newaesthetic  voice  risk  bruceschneier  2012  aaronstraupcope  aaron  intent  motive  storiesfromthenewaesthetic  canon 
october 2012 by robertogreco
How Do You Run Away from Home?
"For some people, psychological home has clearly moved online. I recall an op-ed somewhere several years ago, comparing cellphones to pacifiers. Appropriate, if they represent a connection to psychological ‘home.’ Putting your phone away is like suddenly being teleported away from home to a strange new place.

For others, the three R’s still dominate the idea of home. Online life is not satisfying for these people. I think this segment will shrink, just as the number of people who are attached to paper books is shrinking.

For a speculative third category, we have the sitcom-ish idea of interchangeable people in roles. I am not sure this category is real yet. I see some evidence for it in my own life, but it is not compelling.

But for a fourth category of people, the need for a psychological home itself is reduced. A utilitarian home is enough. The getting away drive has irreversibly altered psychology."
psychogeography  2012  davidgraeber  gettingaway  thirdculture  runningaway  interchangability  offline  internet  web  digital  online  belonging  culture  anarchism  existentialism  libertarianism  francisfukuyama  robertsapolsky  psychology  history  place  homes  home  rootedness  identity  individualism  venkateshrao 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Book Review - 'Shop Class as Soulcraft - An Inquiry Into the Value of Work,' by Matthew B. Crawford - Review - NYTimes.com
"ideologists of knowledge economy have posited a false dichotomy between knowing & doing...most forms of real knowledge, including self-knowledge, come from the effort to struggle with & master brute reality of material objects...All these activities...require knowledge both about the world as it is & about yourself & your own limitations...can’t be learned simply by following rules...require intuitive knowledge that comes from long experience & repeated encounters with difficulty & failure...self-esteem cannot be faked...Highly educated people with high-­status jobs often believe that they could do anything their less-educated brethren can, if only they put their minds to it, because cognitive ability is the only ability that counts. The truth is that some would not have the physical & cognitive ability to do skilled blue-collar work & that others could do it only if they invested 20 years of their life in learning a trade."
books  francisfukuyama  matthewcrawford  psychology  culture  society  work  manual  vocational  self-esteem  knowledgeworkers  bluecollar  whitecollar  knowledge  learning  experience  failure  mechanics  tcsnmy  tangible 
june 2009 by robertogreco

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