Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Liberal secular modernity" is described most often as Weberian. Weber's model, the Protestant model, has failed. Secularism is inevitable.

Henry Farrell: Brad Delong is not a philosopher king.
Someone who is rightly entrusted with the authority to choose among such options is not a technocrat under any reasonable definition of the term. Instead, he or she is an enlightened autocrat – ideally a three thousand year old human-sandworm hybrid with untrammelled power, who is both wise and disinterested enough to find a solution that is to the collectivity’s long term benefit, and cruel enough to impose it, regardless of how it hurts specific people. Unfortunately, even if you buy the idea that this is politically legitimate (I don’t), the political economy of autocracy in real life is such that enlightened autocrats rarely, if ever, exist. People with untrammeled power rarely have the incentive to employ it in the collective interest. And hence, I think that Brad, although right to note that the problem stems from disagreements between different European democracies, is wrong to suggest that technocracy is the solution. It isn’t a solution, nor, plausibly, is it even technocracy.
The political world is a world of political enchantments. No one is above politics.

A well-meaning idiot in The Atlantic:  "The Meaningless Politics of Liberal Democracies. The desire for theocracy in the Muslim world can be partly understood through the failures of Western secularism."
Ben Affleck has become an unlikely spokesman for a view on Islam held by many on the American left. In 2014, the actor made a now-famous stand against Bill Maher and Sam Harris in defense of Muslims, arguing that it’s wrong to make generalizations about the religion based on ideological extremists and terrorists. “How about the more than 1 billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punch women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, and pray five times a day?” he said.

In his new book Islamic Exceptionalism, Shadi Hamid—an Atlantic contributor, a scholar at Brookings, and a self-identified liberal—calls Affleck’s declaration a “well-intentioned … red herring.” Islam really is different from other religions, he says, and many Muslims view politics, theocracy, and violence differently than do Christians, Jews, or non-religious people in Europe and the United States.

Perhaps his most provocative claim is this: History will not necessarily favor the secular, liberal democracies of the West. Hamid does not believe all countries will inevitably follow a path from revolution to rational Enlightenment and non-theocratic government, nor should they.
The last link above is to a piece by Hamid. Pushing the book on twitter he whined that people who want to argue with him should at least read the book.

My response to that tweet is the bottom on the left. After my second tweet he responded that my points were in his book, and after the fourth he responded, "OK, never mind", then he deleted all three tweets. The right is an old exchange with Dawkins.

"He liked the fragility of those moments suspended in time, those memories whose only function had been to leave behind nothing but memories. He wrote: "I've been around the world several times, and now only banality still interests me."

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