Friday, May 20, 2016

Updating. Documenting drift.
When Thomas Pogge travels around the world, he finds eager young fans waiting for him in every lecture hall. The 62-year-old German-born professor, a protégé of the philosopher John Rawls, is bespectacled and slight of stature. But he’s a giant in the field of global ethics, and one of only a small handful of philosophers who have managed to translate prominence within the academy to an influential place in debates about policy.
“It breaks my heart to have to say it,” said Christia Mercer, a former colleague from the Columbia philosophy department, “but it’s clear that Thomas uses his reputation as a supporter of justice to prey unjustly on those who trust and admire him, who then — once victimized — are too intimidated by his reputation and power to tell their stories.”

This is also my reaction.
Ludlow, McGinn "It's no secret". Rationalists rationalize.

Leiter links to IHE, on the threat to the liberal arts.
For Talbot Brewer, professor and chair of philosophy at the University of Virginia, the liberal arts need saving in part from the “black mirrors” so many of us are glued to each day. Cellular phones, computers and, especially for children, television, facilitate a kind of “reverse-Weberian,” late capitalistic assault...

Calling attention a “vital resource,” Brewer described it as “the medium of passion, of friendship, of love. 
Not “reverse-Weberian", simply Weberian. And again, for Leiter the whole point of philosophy is that it is not art or fiction, but close to science.  He reads for text without subtext. As I repeat again and again, Leiter, like his friend Posner, is a technocratic anti-humanist.

Maria Farrell (start here or here) discovers "Post-Democracy"
I’ve been reading and re-reading Colin Crouch’s Post-Democracy on and off for about eighteen months, and just spotted a nice precis of it on OpenDemocracy in a piece by Kit de Waal about celebrity activism:

“The term ‘post-democracy’ was coined by Colin Crouch to refer to the fusion of corporate power with government, generating an elite politics based on a political-financial cycle in which money buys power and power rewards money. Post-democracy is a plausible imitation of democracy. It has a popular, consultative appearance, while the real politics of power and money consists of a continuing round of inter-personal transactions among elites.”

What makes Post-Democracy hard for me to digest more than a dozen pages at a time is not, I think, its relentless rightness, which I personally find more or less inarguable, but how little there appears we can do about it. My experience of reading it is basically ‘yes, this is better researched and thought through than I’d ever manage, and I agree; we’re basically fucked.’

I get that I’m experiencing nothing more than the cognitive dissonance of a social democrat who knows capitalism is awful and probably tending towards disaster – but more the chronic debilitating disease kind of disaster of, say, a slow-boiled lobster, than the explosive, revolutionary and strangely psycho-sexual climax of sudden foment and change – but who has neither the temperament nor the constitution for either ripping it up or walking away. (Hello Rosa Luxembourg. Like my hero Virginia Woolf, you would despise me, too.) But simply knowing this doesn’t help.

About a decade ago I was at a weekend conference in New York on what was then called ‘the new philanthropy’. The impeccably well-educated and well-spoken man who’d been Angelina Jolie’s fixer in the world of Davos and the UN system was there to say how great it was that celebrities were now getting down into development issues and doing things that governments didn’t have the will for. At the Q&A, I made myself a bit awkward by asking how democratic it was that those people could re-order policy priorities on a whim, and wouldn’t it be better if they just voted and paid their taxes like the little people....
A smart commenter replies quoting a post by her I'd decided not to read.
Oh I remember you. 
“The question isn’t whether the Easter Rising accelerated Ireland’s independence or made it happen at all; it’s whether it was worth the death of one bow-legged tenement child. Of course it wasn’t."
If you don’t have faith in the people to create democracy why do you mourn its passing?
From the older post
In 1916, my great-grand father, Eoin MacNeill, was the head of a dissident army, the Irish Volunteers. At its height, before many left and volunteered to fight in World War I, the Irish Volunteers numbered about eighty thousand men.
The befuddled sister of a Weberian "liberal" and wife of a career military officer, she prays daily for the health of the Pope, and mourns our fallen state.

The Farrells are from the gentry. They are not "the little people", but for Maria celebrities are vulgar. Her brother's clan, the technocrats, are the new aristocrats, but like her he's never understood the switch. And both in different ways pretend to be defending democracy. I'm with Norman Mailer

Weber's technocratic elite, the masters of "value-free science" could never exist separately from the capitalist elite. They're siblings. Again, see Leiter's friendship with Posner, and Henry Farrell's interest -liberal academia's interest- in libertarianism, which outside of the academy is no more or less than a cult. Technocracy is not democracy. The link's a google site search. Search the web; it's still mostly me. And still obvious.
But we can take hope from our own history. Amid unrelenting upheaval and popular anger, the Renaissance left a legacy that we still celebrate as one of humanity’s brightest. It also left wisdom, in both its triumphs and disasters, to help us steer through similar storms. Looking through a Renaissance lens, what to do now becomes startlingly clear. We need to welcome genius. To understand that disruptive change and technological revolutions can spread both immense good and harm. To celebrate diversity and overcome prejudice. To raise public and private patronage. To embrace change, and strengthen public safety nets in ways that embolden us all. To build new crossroads and welcome migrants. To tear up the (mental) maps that unhelpfully divide people. To stoke virtues – especially honesty, audacity and dignity. To champion collective endeavours as well as individual freedoms.

The Renaissance offers lessons on how to magnify the flourishing under way. It also offers warnings about what happens when we fail, in a time of great change, to renew our social bargain with one another.

This is our age of discovery. We can succumb to its pressures, close our borders and our minds to new people, ideas and technologies, and thereby surrender the possibilities inherent in humanity’s present circumstances. Or we can seize this moment, navigate the crises of our own time and co-create a blossoming that the world will still talk about in 2500.

Flounder or flourish? The choice is ours. 
Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna’s Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance is published by Bloomsbury/St Martin’s Press 
Ian Goldin is director of the Oxford Martin School and professor of globalisation and development at Oxford University (@ian_goldin). Chris Kutarna is a two-time Governor General’s medallist, Commonwealth scholar and fellow at the Oxford Martin School (@ChrisKutarna).
According to his Oxford student profile Kutarna was the lead China research on this tome:
Globalization is about Americans outsourcing product development and services to other countries. Globality is the next step.
Globalization has never been about American outsourcing. Globality is packaging and book sales.

"This is our age of discovery." The Industrial Revolution which hasn't ended is being rebranded in the language of Madison Avenue and B. school to refer to the Renaissance as opposed to the Enlightenment. That's the only relevant data point, except for the fact that Kutarna seems to have published a novel in Mandarin.

More of the same at The Boston Review

What Is Education For?
Opening the Debate, Danielle Allen: Preparation for democratic citizenship demands humanities education, not just STEM.
Samuel Moyn:  Rights vs. Duties, Reclaiming Civic Balance
The second piece isn't part of the symposium.  It should be.

repeats, repeats, repeats.
Rules can't be contradictory; obligations will conflict. The formalism of truth vs the formalism of process. Liberalism, technocracy and science (and pseudoscience), vs republicanism, democracy, and law (and art).  More of the same.

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