Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shalizi has dug so deep under the foundations of his air castles he's now being praised for his discovery of dirt.
Various attempts at comments, by me, and deleted by the hosts, now jumbled together.
His first paragraph: "Attention conservation notice: Over 7800 words about optimal planning for a socialist economy and its intersection with computational complexity theory."

And last: "These are all going to be complex problems, full of messy compromises. Attaining even second best solutions is going to demand “bold, persistent experimentation”, coupled with a frank recognition that many experiments will just fail..."

Shalizi's second paragraph: "There’s lots to say about Red Plenty as a work of literature; I won’t do so. It’s basically a work of speculative fiction, where one of the primary pleasures is having a strange world unfold in the reader’s mind. More than that, it’s a work of science fiction, where the strangeness of the world comes from its being reshaped by technology and scientific ideas—- here, mathematical and economic ideas."

Shane Taylor at DeLong: "Cosma Shalizi's conclusion may be the best précis for social democracy that I have ever read on Crooked Timber."

If Taylor is right, that undermines all the verbiage that came before it and maybe we should all be reading Henning Mankell.
Lets be clear: If Taylor is right, and he is, then not only is Shalizi being praised for dreaming of something that's existed for 80 years, but for inventing something that authors at Crooked Timber have spent hours and hours on, debating its impending doom.

Shalizi is an idiot. [That used to link to a google site search for his name on this site, but with all the recent activity the link became useless. This will do.]

We need a new generation of technocrats who understand that democracy is procedural not ideational. We don't need better, smarter, masters of the universe, we need a more educated populace and scholars with a sense of irony. We need fewer philosophers and more historians. We need a return to the understanding that greed is inevitable, but that it's a weakness, and that democracies have freedom of speech not because governments grant it but because the government is not granted the power to take it away. Technocrats as fantasists of their own power have everything backwards.

Again: The authoritarianism of schoolmasters.

If technocrats want to see themselves as aristocrats they should remember that the sensibility of the aristocracy is pessimism.

"How do you defeat an idealist?"
"Write his biography."

Modernism first as fantasy and now as farce.
We need an end to the genteel tradition.

Since he's corrected his links:
The above, continued here. Replying to Shalizi's response, here.

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