Breaking News and Updates
- Abolition Of Work
- Alternative Medicine
- Artificial Intelligence
- Atlas Shrugged
- Ayn Rand
- Basic Income Guarantee
- Conscious Evolution
- Cosmic Heaven
- Designer Babies
- Ethical Egoism
- Fifth Amendment
- Fifth Amendment
- Financial Independence
- First Amendment
- Fiscal Freedom
- Food Supplements
- Fourth Amendment
- Fourth Amendment
- Free Speech
- Freedom of Speech
- Gene Medicine
- Genetic Engineering
- Germ Warfare
- Golden Rule
- Government Oppression
- High Seas
- Hubble Telescope
- Human Genetic Engineering
- Human Genetics
- Human Longevity
- Immortality Medicine
- Intentional Communities
- Life Extension
- Mars Colonization
- Mind Uploading
- Minerva Reefs
- Modern Satanism
- Moon Colonization
- New Utopia
- Personal Empowerment
- Political Correctness
- Politically Incorrect
- Post Human
- Post Humanism
- Private Islands
- Resource Based Economy
- Ron Paul
- Second Amendment
- Second Amendment
- Socio-economic Collapse
- Space Exploration
- Space Station
- Space Travel
- Teilhard De Charden
- The Singularity
- Tor Browser
- Transhuman News
- Victimless Crimes
- Virtual Reality
- Wage Slavery
- War On Drugs
- Zeitgeist Movement
The Evolutionary Perspective
Tag Archives: politics
Posted: January 7, 2017 at 1:20 pm
Welcome, progressive-minded reader!
By Itself Demonetisation Will Not Bring Down Corruption and Black Money in India.Medical science says if you want to cure the disease then address the cause, not only the symptoms. In this case the Indian govt. is not even close to the symptoms.
The trend of wealth concentration does not bode well for global capitalism. The main precursor of economic downturn is that the money accumulated by capitalists stops circulating and remains inert or unutilized. The huge hoarders think that if “their” money are allowed to roll freely then their profits will decrease, even though it will bring relief to the common masses. Capitalism is caught in its own sorry trap much in the same way as the proverbial monkey’s fist by the food trap. The tragedy is the colossal suffering taking place in so many ways in today’s world. Click to read
Byenforcing fair regulation in the physical sphere and safeguarding unrestrictedfreedom in mental and spiritual spheres, the all-encompassing socio-economic theory of Proutis aguarantee against both gross disparity andtotalitarianism. Click to read
Increasing centralization:In 2016the world’s richest 62 people were as wealthy as half of the world population. As an example, in Russia25 years after the collapse of Communism:
Issue-oriented movements are challenging old-fashioned party politics everywhere. Do we want party dictatorship or enlightened leadership what are we capable of?The search for post-capitalism politics continues: Beyond Party Politics Also: No More Political Parties Prout for Essential Social Unity
A global issue: Refugee rights protest,Melbourne, Australia A Natural Human Response; the Significance of Europe’s Refugee Dilemma.Click to read
Today’s banking is dominated by all-devouring colossuses that crave to be fed by public money, whenever their speculation fails spectacularly, to continue their existence as masters of global trade. In contrast, PROUTs rational banking system presents a rational approach to supplying money when and where it is required for human welfare. Click to readAlso:Break Up Big Banks; IMF
Further escalation of the crisis of capitalism will cause unemployment figures to rise sharply throughout the world. One in ten around the world are unemployed while youth unemployment is particularly high. By virtue of its decentralized, balanced economy and emphasis on the cooperative sector, PROUT guarantees 100% employment and increasing purchasing capacity for all. Social Security and the Authority of the State
Is there life after the EU for capitalists? Of course there is, if they choose to abide by harmonious humanity and not rampant individualism.PROUT points Continue reading Why the EU matters
Dr. Sohail Inayatullah takes a look at the ancient system of Yoga, and in particular some of its ethical principles, through socioeconomic lenses. Republished with Continue reading The Yoga of Economics
Prout procession moving through Krishnanagar, India during a recent utilization training camp (UTC).Click to read
A thought exhibition van, propagating water conservation and Prout, travels from Pune, Maharashtra through the Sahayadri and Marathwada regions ahead of the rainyseason in India. Wells are drying up and underwatertables falling so fast in the Middle East and parts of India, China and the US that food supplies are seriously threatened, a world leading resource analyst has warned. PROUT founder Shrii Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar offered a visionary analysis and practical solutions for the global water crisis. Sarkar’s ingenious methods ofutilizing water are applied by Proutists and others around the world.
WB Communist Leaders to be Questioned Over Bijon Setu Ananda Marga volunteers walk on the streets of Kolkata with urn pots in their arms on annual memorial day of the Bijon Setu massacreApril 30, 2015 Asst. Dist. Magistrate Sher Singh has offered that PROUT was the reason for the cruel attack and murder of the 16 Ananda Marga monks and one nun in broad daylight in Kolkata in 1982. The Ananda Marga organisation supports PROUT throughout India and the world. The atrocities were witnessed by thousands of people but no arrest has been made till date. Click to read the report
See the original post:
Posted: December 25, 2016 at 10:52 pm
Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence. In an extreme form, the idea of consequentialism is commonly encapsulated in the saying, “the end justifies the means”, meaning that if a goal is morally important enough, any method of achieving it is acceptable.
Consequentialism is usually contrasted with deontological ethics (or deontology), in that deontology, in which rules and moral duty are central, derives the rightness or wrongness of one’s conduct from the character of the behaviour itself rather than the outcomes of the conduct. It is also contrasted with virtue ethics, which focuses on the character of the agent rather than on the nature or consequences of the act (or omission) itself, and pragmatic ethics which treats morality like science: advancing socially over the course of many lifetimes, such that any moral criterion is subject to revision. Consequentialist theories differ in how they define moral goods.
Some argue that consequentialist and deontological theories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, T. M. Scanlon advances the idea that human rights, which are commonly considered a “deontological” concept, can only be justified with reference to the consequences of having those rights. Similarly, Robert Nozick argues for a theory that is mostly consequentialist, but incorporates inviolable “side-constraints” which restrict the sort of actions agents are permitted to do.
It is the business of the benevolent man to seek to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for the world. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit men he will leave alone.
Mozi, Mozi (5th century BC) Part I
Mohist consequentialism, also known as state consequentialism, is an ethical theory which evaluates the moral worth of an action based on how much it contributes to the welfare of a state. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mohist consequentialism, dating back to the 5th century BCE, is the “world’s earliest form of consequentialism, a remarkably sophisticated version based on a plurality of intrinsic goods taken as constitutive of human welfare.” Unlike utilitarianism, which views utility as the sole moral good, “the basic goods in Mohist consequentialist thinking are… order, material wealth, and increase in population”. During Mozi’s era, war and famines were common, and population growth was seen as a moral necessity for a harmonious society. The “material wealth” of Mohist consequentialism refers to basic needs like shelter and clothing, and the “order” of Mohist consequentialism refers to Mozi’s stance against warfare and violence, which he viewed as pointless and a threat to social stability.Stanford sinologist David Shepherd Nivison, in the The Cambridge History of Ancient China, writes that the moral goods of Mohism “are interrelated: more basic wealth, then more reproduction; more people, then more production and wealth… if people have plenty, they would be good, filial, kind, and so on unproblematically.” The Mohists believed that morality is based on “promoting the benefit of all under heaven and eliminating harm to all under heaven.” In contrast to Jeremy Bentham’s views, state consequentialism is not utilitarian because it is not hedonistic or individualistic. The importance of outcomes that are good for the community outweigh the importance of individual pleasure and pain. The term state consequentialism has also been applied to the political philosophy of the Confucian philosopher Xunzi.
Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think…
Jeremy Bentham, The Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789) Ch I, p 1
In summary, Jeremy Bentham states that people are driven by their interests and their fears, but their interests take precedence over their fears, and their interests are carried out in accordance with how people view the consequences that might be involved with their interests. “Happiness” on this account is defined as the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain. Historically, hedonistic utilitarianism is the paradigmatic example of a consequentialist moral theory. This form of utilitarianism holds that what matters is the aggregate happiness; the happiness of everyone and not the happiness of any particular person. John Stuart Mill, in his exposition of hedonistic utilitarianism, proposed a hierarchy of pleasures, meaning that the pursuit of certain kinds of pleasure is more highly valued than the pursuit of other pleasures. However, some contemporary utilitarians, such as Peter Singer, are concerned with maximizing the satisfaction of preferences, hence “preference utilitarianism”. Other contemporary forms of utilitarianism mirror the forms of consequentialism outlined below.
Ethical egoism can be understood as a consequentialist theory according to which the consequences for the individual agent are taken to matter more than any other result. Thus, egoism will prescribe actions that may be beneficial, detrimental, or neutral to the welfare of others. Some, like Henry Sidgwick, argue that a certain degree of egoism promotes the general welfare of society for two reasons: because individuals know how to please themselves best, and because if everyone were an austere altruist then general welfare would inevitably decrease.
Ethical altruism can be seen as a consequentialist ethic which prescribes that an individual take actions that have the best consequences for everyone except for himself. This was advocated by Auguste Comte, who coined the term “altruism,” and whose ethics can be summed up in the phrase “Live for others”.
In general, consequentialist theories focus on actions. However, this need not be the case. Rule consequentialism is a theory that is sometimes seen as an attempt to reconcile deontology and consequentialismand in some cases, this is stated as a criticism of rule consequentialism. Like deontology, rule consequentialism holds that moral behavior involves following certain rules. However, rule consequentialism chooses rules based on the consequences that the selection of those rules have. Rule consequentialism exists in the forms of rule utilitarianism and rule egoism.
Various theorists are split as to whether the rules are the only determinant of moral behavior or not. For example, Robert Nozick holds that a certain set of minimal rules, which he calls “side-constraints”, are necessary to ensure appropriate actions. There are also differences as to how absolute these moral rules are. Thus, while Nozick’s side-constraints are absolute restrictions on behavior, Amartya Sen proposes a theory that recognizes the importance of certain rules, but these rules are not absolute. That is, they may be violated if strict adherence to the rule would lead to much more undesirable consequences.
One of the most common objections to rule-consequentialism is that it is incoherent, because it is based on the consequentialist principle that what we should be concerned with is maximizing the good, but then it tells us not to act to maximize the good, but to follow rules (even in cases where we know that breaking the rule could produce better results).
Brad Hooker avoided this objection by not basing his form of rule-consequentialism on the ideal of maximizing the good. He writes:
the best argument for rule-consequentialism is not that it derives from an overarching commitment to maximise the good. The best argument for rule-consequentialism is that it does a better job than its rivals of matching and tying together our moral convictions, as well as offering us help with our moral disagreements and uncertainties
Derek Parfit described Brad Hooker’s book on rule-consequentialism Ideal Code, Real World as the “best statement and defence, so far, of one of the most important moral theories.”
The two-level approach involves engaging in critical reasoning and considering all the possible ramifications of one’s actions before making an ethical decision, but reverting to generally reliable moral rules when one is not in a position to stand back and examine the dilemma as a whole. In practice, this equates to adhering to rule consequentialism when one can only reason on an intuitive level, and to act consequentialism when in a position to stand back and reason on a more critical level.
This position can be described as a reconciliation between act consequentialism in which the morality of an action is determined by that action’s effects and rule consequentialism in which moral behavior is derived from following rules that lead to positive outcomes.
The two-level approach to consequentialism is most often associated with R. M. Hare and Peter Singer.
Another consequentialist version is motive consequentialism which looks at whether the state of affairs that results from the motive to choose an action is better or at least as good as each of the alternative state of affairs that would have resulted from alternative actions. This version gives relevance to the motive of an act and links it to its consequences. An act can therefore not be wrong if the decision to act was based on a right motive. A possible inference is, that one can not be blamed for mistaken judgements if the motivation was to do good.
Most consequentialist theories focus on promoting some sort of good consequences. However, Negative utilitarianism lays out a consequentialist theory that focuses solely on minimizing bad consequences.
One major difference between these two approaches is the agent’s responsibility. Positive consequentialism demands that we bring about good states of affairs, whereas negative consequentialism requires that we avoid bad ones. Stronger versions of negative consequentialism will require active intervention to prevent bad and ameliorate existing harm. In weaker versions, simple forbearance from acts tending to harm others is sufficient.
Often “negative” consequentialist theories assert that reducing suffering is more important than increasing pleasure. Karl Popper, for example, claimed “from the moral point of view, pain cannot be outweighed by pleasure…”. (While Popper is not a consequentialist per se, this is taken as a classic statement of negative utilitarianism.) When considering a theory of justice, negative consequentialists may use a statewide or global-reaching principle: the reduction of suffering (for the disadvantaged) is more valuable than increased pleasure (for the affluent or luxurious).
Teleological ethics (Greek telos, “end”; logos, “science”) is an ethical theory that holds that the ends or consequences of an act determine whether an act is good or evil. Teleological theories are often discussed in opposition to deontological ethical theories, which hold that acts themselves are inherently good or evil, regardless of the consequences of acts.
Teleological theories differ on the nature of the end that actions ought to promote. Eudaemonist theories (Greek eudaimonia, “happiness”) hold that the goal of ethics consists in some function or activity appropriate to man as a human being, and thus tend to emphasize the cultivation of virtue or excellence in the agent as the end of all action. These could be the classical virtuescourage, temperance, justice, and wisdomthat promoted the Greek ideal of man as the “rational animal”, or the theological virtuesfaith, hope, and lovethat distinguished the Christian ideal of man as a being created in the image of God.
Utilitarian-type theories hold that the end consists in an experience or feeling produced by the action. Hedonism, for example, teaches that this feeling is pleasureeither one’s own, as in egoism (the 17th-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes), or everyone’s, as in universalistic hedonism, or utilitarianism (the 19th-century English philosophers Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Sidgwick), with its formula of the “greatest pleasure of the greatest number.”
Other utilitarian-type views include the claims that the end of action is survival and growth, as in evolutionary ethics (the 19th-century English philosopher Herbert Spencer); the experience of power, as in despotism; satisfaction and adjustment, as in pragmatism (20th-century American philosophers Ralph Barton Perry and John Dewey); and freedom, as in existentialism (the 20th-century French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre).
The chief problem for eudaemonist theories is to show that leading a life of virtue will also be attended by happinessby the winning of the goods regarded as the chief end of action. That Job should suffer and Socrates and Jesus die while the wicked prosper, then seems unjust. Eudaemonists generally reply that the universe is moral and that, in Socrates’ words, “No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death,” or, in Jesus’ words, “But he who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt 10:22).
Utilitarian theories, on the other hand, must answer the charge that ends do not justify the means. The problem arises in these theories because they tend to separate the achieved ends from the action by which these ends were produced. One implication of utilitarianism is that one’s intention in performing an act may include all of its foreseen consequences. The goodness of the intention then reflects the balance of the good and evil of these consequences, with no limits imposed upon it by the nature of the act itselfeven if it be, say, the breaking of a promise or the execution of an innocent man. Utilitarianism, in answering this charge, must show either that what is apparently immoral is not really so or that, if it really is so, then closer examination of the consequences will bring this fact to light. Ideal utilitarianism (G.E. Moore and Hastings Rashdall) tries to meet the difficulty by advocating a plurality of ends and including among them the attainment of virtue itself, which, as John Stuart Mill affirmed, “may be felt a good in itself, and desired as such with as great intensity as any other good.”
Since pure consequentialism holds that an action is to be judged solely by its result, most consequentialist theories hold that a deliberate action is no different from a deliberate decision not to act. This contrasts with the “acts and omissions doctrine”, which is upheld by some medical ethicists and some religions: it asserts there is a significant moral distinction between acts and deliberate non-actions which lead to the same outcome. This contrast is brought out in issues such as voluntary euthanasia.
One important characteristic of many normative moral theories such as consequentialism is the ability to produce practical moral judgements. At the very least, any moral theory needs to define the standpoint from which the goodness of the consequences are to be determined. What is primarily at stake here is the responsibility of the agent.
One common tactic among consequentialists, particularly those committed to an altruistic (selfless) account of consequentialism, is to employ an ideal, neutral observer from which moral judgements can be made. John Rawls, a critic of utilitarianism, argues that utilitarianism, in common with other forms of consequentialism, relies on the perspective of such an ideal observer. The particular characteristics of this ideal observer can vary from an omniscient observer, who would grasp all the consequences of any action, to an ideally informed observer, who knows as much as could reasonably be expected, but not necessarily all the circumstances or all the possible consequences. Consequentialist theories that adopt this paradigm hold that right action is the action that will bring about the best consequences from this ideal observer’s perspective.
In practice, it is very difficult, and at times arguably impossible, to adopt the point of view of an ideal observer. Individual moral agents do not know everything about their particular situations, and thus do not know all the possible consequences of their potential actions. For this reason, some theorists have argued that consequentialist theories can only require agents to choose the best action in line with what they know about the situation. However, if this approach is navely adopted, then moral agents who, for example, recklessly fail to reflect on their situation, and act in a way that brings about terrible results, could be said to be acting in a morally justifiable way. Acting in a situation without first informing oneself of the circumstances of the situation can lead to even the most well-intended actions yielding miserable consequences. As a result, it could be argued that there is a moral imperative for an agent to inform himself as much as possible about a situation before judging the appropriate course of action. This imperative, of course, is derived from consequential thinking: a better-informed agent is able to bring about better consequences.
Moral action always has consequences for certain people or things. Varieties of consequentialism can be differentiated by the beneficiary of the good consequences. That is, one might ask “Consequences for whom?”
A fundamental distinction can be drawn between theories which require that agents act for ends perhaps disconnected from their own interests and drives, and theories which permit that agents act for ends in which they have some personal interest or motivation. These are called “agent-neutral” and “agent-focused” theories respectively.
Agent-neutral consequentialism ignores the specific value a state of affairs has for any particular agent. Thus, in an agent-neutral theory, an actor’s personal goals do not count any more than anyone else’s goals in evaluating what action the actor should take. Agent-focused consequentialism, on the other hand, focuses on the particular needs of the moral agent. Thus, in an agent-focused account, such as one that Peter Railton outlines, the agent might be concerned with the general welfare, but the agent is more concerned with the immediate welfare of herself and her friends and family.
These two approaches could be reconciled by acknowledging the tension between an agent’s interests as an individual and as a member of various groups, and seeking to somehow optimize among all of these interests. For example, it may be meaningful to speak of an action as being good for someone as an individual, but bad for them as a citizen of their town.
Many consequentialist theories may seem primarily concerned with human beings and their relationships with other human beings. However, some philosophers argue that we should not limit our ethical consideration to the interests of human beings alone. Jeremy Bentham, who is regarded as the founder of utilitarianism, argues that animals can experience pleasure and pain, thus demanding that ‘non-human animals’ should be a serious object of moral concern. More recently, Peter Singer has argued that it is unreasonable that we do not give equal consideration to the interests of animals as to those of human beings when we choose the way we are to treat them. Such equal consideration does not necessarily imply identical treatment of humans and non-humans, any more than it necessarily implies identical treatment of all humans.
One way to divide various consequentialisms is by the types of consequences that are taken to matter most, that is, which consequences count as good states of affairs. According to utilitarianism, a good action is one that results in an increase in pleasure, and the best action is one that results in the most pleasure for the greatest number. Closely related is eudaimonic consequentialism, according to which a full, flourishing life, which may or may not be the same as enjoying a great deal of pleasure, is the ultimate aim. Similarly, one might adopt an aesthetic consequentialism, in which the ultimate aim is to produce beauty. However, one might fix on non-psychological goods as the relevant effect. Thus, one might pursue an increase in material equality or political liberty instead of something like the more ephemeral “pleasure”. Other theories adopt a package of several goods, all to be promoted equally.
Consequentialism can also be contrasted with aretaic moral theories such as virtue ethics. Whereas consequentialist theories posit that consequences of action should be the primary focus of our thinking about ethics, virtue ethics insists that it is the character rather than the consequences of actions that should be the focal point. Some virtue ethicists hold that consequentialist theories totally disregard the development and importance of moral character. For example, Philippa Foot argues that consequences in themselves have no ethical content, unless it has been provided by a virtue such as benevolence.
However, consequentialism and virtue ethics need not be entirely antagonistic. Philosopher Iain King has developed an approach which reconciles the two schools. Other consequentialists consider effects on the character of people involved in an action when assessing consequence. Similarly, a consequentialist theory may aim at the maximization of a particular virtue or set of virtues. Finally, following Foot’s lead, one might adopt a sort of consequentialism that argues that virtuous activity ultimately produces the best consequences.[clarification needed]
The ultimate end is a concept in the moral philosophy of Max Weber, in which individuals act in a faithful, rather than rational, manner.
We must be clear about the fact that all ethically oriented conduct may be guided by one of two fundamentally differing and irreconcilably opposed maxims: conduct can be oriented to an “ethic of ultimate ends” or to an “ethic of responsibility.” This is not to say that an ethic of ultimate ends is identical with irresponsibility, or that an ethic of responsibility is identical with unprincipled opportunism. Naturally, nobody says that. However, there is an abysmal contrast between conduct that follows the maxim of an ethic of ultimate endsthat, is in religious terms, “the Christian does rightly and leaves the results with the Lord”and conduct that follows the maxim of an ethic of responsibility, in which case one has to give an account of the foreseeable results of one’s action.
Max Weber, Politics as a Vocation, 1918
The term “consequentialism” was coined byG. E. M. Anscombe in her essay “Modern Moral Philosophy” in 1958, to describe what she saw as the central error of certain moral theories, such as those propounded by Mill and Sidgwick.
The phrase and concept of “The end justifies the means” are at least as old as the first century BC. Ovid wrote in his Heroides that Exitus acta probat “The result justifies the deed”.
G. E. M. Anscombe objects to consequentialism on the grounds that it does not provide ethical guidance in what one ought to do because there is no distinction between consequences that are foreseen and those that are intended.[full citation needed]
Bernard Williams has argued that consequentialism is alienating because it requires moral agents to put too much distance between themselves and their own projects and commitments. Williams argues that consequentialism requires moral agents to take a strictly impersonal view of all actions, since it is only the consequences, and not who produces them, that are said to matter. Williams argues that this demands too much of moral agentssince (he claims) consequentialism demands that they be willing to sacrifice any and all personal projects and commitments in any given circumstance in order to pursue the most beneficent course of action possible. He argues further that consequentialism fails to make sense of intuitions that it can matter whether or not someone is personally the author of a particular consequence. For example, that participating in a crime can matter, even if the crime would have been committed anyway, or would even have been worse, without the agent’s participation.
Some consequentialistsmost notably Peter Railtonhave attempted to develop a form of consequentialism that acknowledges and avoids the objections raised by Williams. Railton argues that Williams’s criticisms can be avoided by adopting a form of consequentialism in which moral decisions are to be determined by the sort of life that they express. On his account, the agent should choose the sort of life that will, on the whole, produce the best overall effects.
Continue reading here:
Posted: December 17, 2016 at 12:44 am
Bitcoin, that nebulous digital currency that trades in cyberspace and is mined by code-cracking computers, emerged as a better bet this year than every major foreign-exchange trade, stock index and commodity contract.
The electronic coin that trades and is regulated like oil and gold surged 79 percent since the start of 2016 to $778, its highest level since early 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. Thats four times the gains posted by Russias ruble and Brazils real, the worlds top two hard currencies.
After its 2008 creation, enthusiasts hailed bitcoin as the next big thingin foreign exchange markets and an obvious monetary evolution in an increasingly digital world. But by 2014, its value tumbled 58 percent as governments cracked down on its use and a major exchange lost account-holders funds.
There are a number of reasons the hard-to-track currency is staging a comeback now, from capital controls in places like China to isolationist rumblings in the U.K. and U.S. as well as, bitcoin supporters say, increased adoption by companies and consumers.
Bitcoin is coming into its own, says Tim Draper, a venture capitalist whos bought thousands of bitcoins over the years. There are starting to be consumer uses for bitcoin, and if people have any concerns about their own fiat currency — the rupee, for example — they flee to bitcoin as an alternate currency.
The rationale behind bitcoins booms and busts can be difficult to pinpoint, but heres what might be responsible for the cryptocurrencys stellar surge this year:
Global restrictions on sovereign currencies are playing a major role in driving increased bitcoin demand. The Chinese government, for example, made it more difficult for people to move the nations currency and spend it overseas, leading to trapped liquidity. Thats made bitcoin, which is not controlled by any government or central bank, more attractive.
Isolationist policies by some governments to restrict remittances are pushing consumers into bitcoin as well. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said during his campaign that hed limit or halt remittances to Mexico until the Latin American nation agrees to pay for a border wall between the two countries.
The explosion of bitcoin supply growth is slowing, with so-called miners getting fewer electronic coins in exchange for letting the network use their computing power. The payment to owners of the computers that verify bitcoin transactions and record them in a public ledger known as the blockchain fell by half in the middle of this year.
More consumers are using bitcoins and more companies are accepting it as a means of payment. The use of bitcoins by investors and online shoppers is growing at a steady clip, with more than 1.1 million accounts known as wallets added in the third quarter, even with the second quarter and compared with 1.2 million a year earlier, CoinDesk says.
The most important market news of the day.
Get our markets daily newsletter.
Your guide to the most important business stories of the day, every day.
The latest political news, analysis, charts, and dispatches from Washington.
Insights into what you’ll be paying for, downloading and plugging in tomorrow and 10 years from now.
What to eat, drink, wear and drive in real life and your dreams.
The school, work and life hacks you need to get ahead.
Going into 2017, miner Marco Krohn sees more of the same. Many of the factors that drove bitcoin up this year will continue.
My personal expectation is that bitcoin will at least gain another 100 percent, said Krohn, chief financial officer of Hong Kong-based Genesis Mining, which deploys server farms to mine the currency.
Posted: December 15, 2016 at 12:13 am
A lot of CEOs have terrible taste in literature, and some of them like Ayn Rand a great deal. A few of those are true-believing libertarians and theres the odd nutty Objectivist, but many people are attracted to Rand not because of her politics but because they have heroic conceptions of themselves and thrill to Rands heroic aesthetic.
Theres just something about executives and celebrities. Mark Cuban is a fan of The Fountainhead, and Angelina Jolie sings the praises of Atlas Shrugged. Eva Mendes is an admirer of Barack Obamas, but she says she wont date a man who isnt a Rand fan. Billie Jean King isnt what youd call an arch conservative, but shes a Rand fan. It might be related to working in dramatically competitive enterprises.
Where you dont meet a lot of Randians is in the conservative world. Theyre out there if you go looking: A fellow from one of the Rand groups (the factions divide and subdivide, being essentially Protestant in spite of their atheism) once approached me at a gathering and began haranguing me about Whittaker Chamberss 1957 review of Atlas Shrugged in National Review. (That sort of thing is what professional libertarians substitute for sexual intercourse.) I wasnt born until a few decades after that was published, and didnt start working at National Review for several decades more (William F. Buckley Jr. inexplicably did not take me up on my offer to come work for him when I was a teenager), but the fine art of bearing a grudge has not been lost. Not on the Randians.
Bring up your undying love of Atlas Shrugged at the typical conservative gathering and people will smile at you and try very hard not to roll their eyes. Some people think of her novels as a kind of guilty adolescent enthusiasm now grown out-of-date, an intellectual mullet, a stage one goes through between the ages of 14 and 20. Some people use Atlas Shrugged as a totem it had a moment at the cresting of the Tea Party phenomenon. But it is rare to meet actual adult human beings who organize their politics views (or, for pitys sake, their lives) around Ayn Rand and her views. I dont think National Review has a single Randian in the house; Id be surprised if the Weekly Standard did, and if one showed up at Commentary then John Podhoretz would simply mock him out of existence.
Strangely, our progressive friends insist that the Right is entirely in thrall to the ideas of Ayn Rand. Left-leaning writers in places such as New York and Washington tend to be culturally insular parochial, even and many of them do not know very many conservatives. I cannot tell you how many times I have met some well-meaning lefty who tells me (thinking it is a compliment!) that I do not seem like one of those people. A young woman once insisted that, as a conservative, I simply must hate homosexuals. At the time, I was living in TriBeCa and working as a theater critic, which is not a very good gay-evasion strategy. People know what they know.
But I dont think that Jonathan Chait insists that conservatives are intellectual hostages to Ayn Rand because he doesnt know better; hes just intellectually dishonest.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who once said that reading Rand is what got him into politics, is usually trotted out as Exhibit A in the case of the closet Randian. But Paul Ryan is not a Randian. Paul Ryan is a Roman Catholic Crossfit bro. (He has been officially categorized as a non-believer by the Ayn Rand Institute.) There isnt anything particularly Randian about his politics. And, contrary to the cartoon version, he and his allies are not anti-government as such. They believe that our current government is too large, too expensive, and too intrusive. There are many people who believe that, and they are not Rand cultists. They are ordinary people who pay taxes and stand in line at the drivers-license office.
The Left tries to create a false dilemma that opposes progressivism to Rand-ism or what they imagine to be Rand-ism, a blend of authentically Randian moralizing about moochers and takers with a kind of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, an atomistic society that denies community and despises the philanthropic impulse. Actual conservatives are more likely to be found in church, where, among other things, they exercise the philanthropic impulse in community.
Chait is worried that Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trumps nominee for secretary of state, once named Atlas Shrugged his favorite book. He says so under the headline How Ayn Rands theories destroyed Never Trump conservatism, and the essay is a work of truly acrobatic stupidity. I dont think that the worrisome thing about Rex Tillerson is that he doesnt have better taste in literature than Rob Lowe.
Strange that a Randian cabal would take Donald Trump as its mascot. Trump, an incompetent casino operator and hotelier who boasted of buying political favors, is practically a Rand villain. He even has the name for it.
Perhaps that is not what is happening.
I myself am not much of a Rand admirer. I think Atlas Shrugged is a better novel than The Grapes of Wrath, but The Grapes of Wrath is a terrible novel. Say this for the old bat, though: It is difficult to imagine a modern writer in the English-speaking world having a cultural footprint so large that an entire stream of American politics might be (wrongly and stupidly) attributed to his thinking.
I happen to be in New York City while writing this, surrounded by a whos-who of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. I dont expect to meet any Randians. But Ill let you know if I do.
Kevin D. Williamson is National Reviews roving correspondent.
Originally posted here:
Posted: December 7, 2016 at 7:58 am
At a seminar at Harvards Institute of Politics this past week, Corey Lewandowski issued a defense of the several months that he spent as a paid political commentator at CNN while also receiving severance payments from the network campaign. I had the privilege of serving with CNN for about three or four months and providing insight to the Trump campaign, which I think I probably have a comparative advantage over anybody else in the audience other than Kellyanne [Conway], Lewandowski said at the event. I think bringing a perspective of serving 18 months inside a campaign to the viewership of CNN is something thats worthy of the viewership to understand the thought process of how Donald Trump makes decisions. And if you dont think thats service to the viewership of CNN, I think maybe you havent done your homework.
So, there it is on the record Lewandowski holds himself out as a guy who channels the thinking inside Trumps meeting rooms.
At the same conference, this clued-in Trumpite asserted that the executive editor of the New York Times, Dean Baquet, belonged in jail. Baquets offense? A New York Times story that contained key parts of Donald Trumps income-tax returns from 1995. The documents showed that Trump could have sidestepped taxes for 18 years. Confronted later about his taxes, Trump bragged that not paying them qualifies him as smart.
Weeks before signing off on the tax story, Baquet himself told attendees at (another) Harvard conference that hed risk jail time to publish Trumps tax returns. That sentiment carried over into this weeks Harvard session, in which Lewandowski said: We had one of the top people at the New York Times come to Harvard University and say, Im willing to go to jail to get a copy of Donald Trumps taxes so I can publish them. Dean Baquet came here and offered to go to jail. Youre telling me hes willing to commit a felony on a private citizen to post his taxes, and there isnt enough scrutiny on the Trump campaign and his business dealings and his taxes?
Its egregious, Lewandowski continued. He should be in jail.
That statement arose from a typical Trumpite melange disrespect for the Constitution combined with a failure to grasp the facts. Theres no felony that attaches to publishing true facts that are in the public interest, as the New York Times did with the tax story. The reference to law-breaking in Lewandowskis outburst may relate to a federal statute on disclosing another persons tax information, but as many have noted, that doesnt apply to the situation at hand. Presumably like his boss, Lewandowski just wants to punish a critic.
Asked about Lewandowskis remark, Baquet emailed the Erik Wemple Blog, Im actually on vacation. But happy to recommend a good book on the first amendment since he clearly needs to understand the role of the independent press.
Would that Lewandowski had set the weeks only three-alarm First Amendment fire. But the president-elect may have outdone him with his tweet from earlier in the week:
As this blog noted, CNN spilled about 20,000 words of punditry straightening out the constitutional and factual lapses in that small and extraordinarily ignorant assemblage of words. The most telling stretch of coverage took place when CNN host Chris Cuomo asked Jason Miller, the spokesman for Trumps transition team, whether hed concede that flag-burning was legal. But Chris, its completely ridiculous its terrible and its despicable, replied Miller. Pressed again on the question, Miller said, No, we can completely disagree that this issue. absolutely should be illegal.
Here’s what you should know about President-elect Donald Trump’s Nov. 29 tweet calling for a ban on burning the U.S. flag. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)
With his pushback, Miller was failing Free Speech 101, which holds that the First Amendment protects expression that others and perhaps most members of society find repulsive. Or, as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes more memorably put it, If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate. The case that yielded those words bears some relevance to the public-square discussions of the Trump era. It concerned whether the courts could deny U.S. citizenship to one Rosika Schwimmer, a Hungarian-born woman, because of her pacifist views. The majority in the 1929 case U.S. v. Schwimmer argued that it could do so, but Holmes dissented.
Have a look at how Justice Pierce Butler framed the issue in his majority opinion: Taken as a whole, [the record] shows that [Rosika Schwimmers] objection to military service rests on reasons other than mere inability because of her sex and age personally to bear arms. The fact that she is an uncompromising pacifist, with no sense of nationalism, but only a cosmic sense of belonging to the human family, justifies belief that she may be opposed to the use of military force as contemplated by our Constitution and laws. And her testimony clearly suggests that she is disposed to exert her power to influence others to such opposition. We cannot have dissent in this country!
Its no wonder that Holmess thoughts won the history contest. Anyone who knows anything about the First Amendment knows that its not there to protect people singing the national anthem with their hands on their heart or professing their reverence for the Founding Fathers.
Thus far the Trump people havent proven themselves among that lot. The reigning view of free expression continues to be that of a business mogul. As head of a sprawling profit-seeking organization, Trump hasnt been an agent of the First Amendment, which applies to government-led abridgment of free expression. Business owners are free to shoehorn their employees into non-disclosure agreements; use libel law to stifle opponents; and otherwise strong-arm their way toward good PR.
Trump has done all those things and more, as the Erik Wemple Blog and many others have documented. Even as he campaigned for president, Trump has threatened legal action against the Associated Press and the New York Times. He has stiff-armed media organizations on credentials, vowed to loosen libel law to make it easier for guys like him to sue media outlets, ridiculed media outlets and individual reporters at rallies, and much more.
Asked in a recent New York Times interview whether hed make good on his threat on libel laws, Trump answered, I think youll be happy.
On the one hand, we have a passel of documented affronts to the First Amendment; on the other, we have (another) vague assurance that alls well. Time to pray for the First Amendment.
Posted: December 4, 2016 at 11:25 pm
Three weeks ago, around a quarter of the American population elected a demagogue with no prior experience in public service to the presidency. In the eyes of many of his supporters, this lack of preparation was not a liability, but a strength. Donald Trump had run as a candidate whose primary qualification was that he was not a politician. Depicting yourself as a maverick or an outsider crusading against a corrupt Washington establishment is the oldest trick in American politics but Trump took things further. He broke countless unspoken rules regarding what public figures can or cannot do and say.
Every demagogue needs an enemy. Trumps was the ruling elite, and his charge was that they were not only failing to solve the greatest problems facing Americans, they were trying to stop anyone from even talking about those problems. The special interests, the arrogant media, and the political insiders, dont want me to talk about the crime that is happening in our country, Trump said in one late September speech. They want me to just go along with the same failed policies that have caused so much needless suffering.
Trump claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were willing to let ordinary Americans suffer because their first priority was political correctness. They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else, Trump declared after a Muslim gunman killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. I refuse to be politically correct. What liberals might have seen as language changing to reflect an increasingly diverse society in which citizens attempt to avoid giving needless offence to one another Trump saw a conspiracy.
Throughout an erratic campaign, Trump consistently blasted political correctness, blaming it for an extraordinary range of ills and using the phrase to deflect any and every criticism. During the first debate of the Republican primaries, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Trump how he would answer the charge that he was part of the war on women.
Youve called women you dont like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals, Kelly pointed out. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees
I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct, Trump answered, to audience applause. Ive been challenged by so many people, I dont frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesnt have time either.
Trump used the same defence when critics raised questions about his statements on immigration. In June 2015, after Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists, NBC, the network that aired his reality show The Apprentice, announced that it was ending its relationship with him. Trumps team retorted that, NBC is weak, and like everybody else is trying to be politically correct.
In August 2016, after saying that the US district judge Gonzalo Curiel of San Diego was unfit to preside over the lawsuit against Trump Universities because he was Mexican American and therefore likely to be biased against him, Trump told CBS News that this was common sense. He continued: We have to stop being so politically correct in this country. During the second presidential debate, Trump answered a question about his proposed ban on Muslims by stating: We could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.
Trump and his followers never defined ‘political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to
Every time Trump said something outrageous commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasnt afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct.
Trump and his followers never defined political correctness, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to. The phrase conjured powerful forces determined to suppress inconvenient truths by policing language.
There is an obvious contradiction involved in complaining at length, to an audience of hundreds of millions of people, that you are being silenced. But this idea that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use is trending globally right now. Britains rightwing tabloids issue frequent denunciations of political correctness gone mad and rail against the smug hypocrisy of the metropolitan elite. In Germany, conservative journalists and politicians are making similar complaints: after the assaults on women in Cologne last New Years Eve, for instance, the chief of police Rainer Wendt said that leftists pressuring officers to be politisch korrekt had prevented them from doing their jobs. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Front National has condemned more traditional conservatives as paralysed by their fear of confronting political correctness.
Trumps incessant repetition of the phrase has led many writers since the election to argue that the secret to his victory was a backlash against excessive political correctness. Some have argued that Hillary Clinton failed because she was too invested in that close relative of political correctness, identity politics. But upon closer examination, political correctness becomes an impossibly slippery concept. The term is what Ancient Greek rhetoricians would have called an exonym: a term for another group, which signals that the speaker does not belong to it. Nobody ever describes themselves as politically correct. The phrase is only ever an accusation.
If you say that something is technically correct, you are suggesting that it is wrong the adverb before correct implies a but. However, to say that a statement is politically correct hints at something more insidious. Namely, that the speaker is acting in bad faith. He or she has ulterior motives, and is hiding the truth in order to advance an agenda or to signal moral superiority. To say that someone is being politically correct discredits them twice. First, they are wrong. Second, and more damningly, they know it.
If you go looking for the origins of the phrase, it becomes clear that there is no neat history of political correctness. There have only been campaigns against something called political correctness. For 25 years, invoking this vague and ever-shifting enemy has been a favourite tactic of the right. Opposition to political correctness has proved itself a highly effective form of crypto-politics. It transforms the political landscape by acting as if it is not political at all. Trump is the deftest practitioner of this strategy yet.
Most Americans had never heard the phrase politically correct before 1990, when a wave of stories began to appear in newspapers and magazines. One of the first and most influential was published in October 1990 by the New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein, who warned under the headline The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct that the countrys universities were threatened by a growing intolerance, a closing of debate, a pressure to conform.
Bernstein had recently returned from Berkeley, where he had been reporting on student activism. He wrote that there was an unofficial ideology of the university, according to which a cluster of opinions about race, ecology, feminism, culture and foreign policy defines a kind of correct attitude toward the problems of the world. For instance, Biodegradable garbage bags get the PC seal of approval. Exxon does not.
Bernsteins alarming dispatch in Americas paper of record set off a chain reaction, as one mainstream publication after another rushed to denounce this new trend. The following month, the Wall Street Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz decried the brave new world of ideological zealotry at American universities. In December, the cover of Newsweek with a circulation of more than 3 million featured the headline THOUGHT POLICE and yet another ominous warning: Theres a politically correct way to talk about race, sex and ideas. Is this the New Enlightenment or the New McCarthyism? A similar story graced the cover of New York magazine in January 1991 inside, the magazine proclaimed that The New Fascists were taking over universities. In April, Time magazine reported on a new intolerance that was on the rise across campuses nationwide.
If you search ProQuest, a digital database of US magazines and newspapers, you find that the phrase politically correct rarely appeared before 1990. That year, it turned up more than 700 times. In 1991, there are more than 2,500 instances. In 1992, it appeared more than 2,800 times. Like Indiana Jones movies, these pieces called up enemies from a melange of old wars: they compared the thought police spreading terror on university campuses to fascists, Stalinists, McCarthyites, Hitler Youth, Christian fundamentalists, Maoists and Marxists.
Many of these articles recycled the same stories of campus controversies from a handful of elite universities, often exaggerated or stripped of context. The New York magazine cover story opened with an account of a Harvard history professor, Stephan Thernstrom, being attacked by overzealous students who felt he had been racially insensitive: Whenever he walked through the campus that spring, down Harvards brick paths, under the arched gates, past the fluttering elms, he found it hard not to imagine the pointing fingers, the whispers. Racist. There goes the racist. It was hellish, this persecution.
In an interview that appeared soon afterwards in The Nation, Thernstrom said the harassment described in the New York article had never happened. There had been one editorial in the Harvard Crimson student newspaper criticising his decision to read extensively from the diaries of plantation owners in his lectures. But the description of his harried state was pure artistic licence. No matter: the image of college students conducting witch hunts stuck. When Richard Bernstein published a book based on his New York Times reporting on political correctness, he called it Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for Americas Future a title alluding to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. In the book he compared American college campuses to France during the Reign of Terror, during which tens of thousands of people were executed within months.
None of the stories that introduced the menace of political correctness could pinpoint where or when it had begun. Nor were they very precise when they explained the origins of the phrase itself. Journalists frequently mentioned the Soviets Bernstein observed that the phrase smacks of Stalinist orthodoxy but there is no exact equivalent in Russian. (The closest would be ideinost, which translates as ideological correctness. But that word has nothing to do with disadvantaged people or minorities.) The intellectual historian LD Burnett has found scattered examples of doctrines or people being described as politically correct in American communist publications from the 1930s usually, she says, in a tone of mockery.
The phrase came into more widespread use in American leftist circles in the 1960s and 1970s most likely as an ironic borrowing from Mao, who delivered a famous speech in 1957 that was translated into English with the title On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.
Until the late 1980s, ‘political correctness’ was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically
Ruth Perry, a literature professor at MIT who was active in the feminist and civil rights movements, says that many radicals were reading the Little Red Book in the late 1960s and 1970s, and surmises that her friends may have picked up the adjective correct there. But they didnt use it in the way Mao did. Politically correct became a kind of in-joke among American leftists something you called a fellow leftist when you thought he or she was being self-righteous. The term was always used ironically, Perry says, always calling attention to possible dogmatism.
In 1970, the African-American author and activist Toni Cade Bambara, used the phrase in an essay about strains on gender relations within her community. No matter how politically correct her male friends thought they were being, she wrote many of them were failing to recognise the plight of black women.
Until the late 1980s, political correctness was used exclusively within the left, and almost always ironically as a critique of excessive orthodoxy. In fact, some of the first people to organise against political correctness were a group of feminists who called themselves the Lesbian Sex Mafia. In 1982, they held a Speakout on Politically Incorrect Sex at a theatre in New Yorks East Village a rally against fellow feminists who had condemned pornography and BDSM. Over 400 women attended, many of them wearing leather and collars, brandishing nipple clamps and dildos. The writer and activist Mirtha Quintanales summed up the mood when she told the audience, We need to have dialogues about S&M issues, not about what is politically correct, politically incorrect.
By the end of the 1980s, Jeff Chang, the journalist and hip-hop critic, who has written extensively on race and social justice, recalls that the activists he knew then in the Bay Area used the phrase in a jokey way a way for one sectarian to dismiss another sectarians line.
But soon enough, the term was rebranded by the right, who turned its meaning inside out. All of a sudden, instead of being a phrase that leftists used to check dogmatic tendencies within their movement, political correctness became a talking point for neoconservatives. They said that PC constituted a leftwing political programme that was seizing control of American universities and cultural institutions and they were determined to stop it.
The right had been waging a campaign against liberal academics for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-1970s, a handful of conservative donors had funded the creation of dozens of new thinktanks and training institutes offering programmes in everything from leadership to broadcast journalism to direct-mail fundraising. They had endowed fellowships for conservative graduate students, postdoctoral positions and professorships at prestigious universities. Their stated goal was to challenge what they saw as the dominance of liberalism and attack left-leaning tendencies within the academy.
Starting in the late 1980s, this well-funded conservative movement entered the mainstream with a series of improbable bestsellers that took aim at American higher education. The first, by the University of Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom, came out in 1987. For hundreds of pages, The Closing of the American Mind argued that colleges were embracing a shallow cultural relativism and abandoning long-established disciplines and standards in an attempt to appear liberal and to pander to their students. It sold more than 500,000 copies and inspired numerous imitations.
In April 1990, Roger Kimball, an editor at the conservative journal, The New Criterion, published Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted our Higher Education. Like Bloom, Kimball argued that an assault on the canon was taking place and that a politics of victimhood had paralysed universities. As evidence, he cited the existence of departments such as African American studies and womens studies. He scornfully quoted the titles of papers he had heard at academic conferences, such as Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl or The Lesbian Phallus: Does Heterosexuality Exist?
In June 1991, the young Dinesh DSouza followed Bloom and Kimball with Illiberal Education: the Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. Whereas Bloom had bemoaned the rise of relativism and Kimball had attacked what he called liberal fascism, and what he considered frivolous lines of scholarly inquiry, DSouza argued that admissions policies that took race into consideration were producing a new segregation on campus and an attack on academic standards. The Atlantic printed a 12,000 word excerpt as its June cover story. To coincide with the release, Forbes ran another article by DSouza with the title: Visigoths in Tweed.
These books did not emphasise the phrase political correctness, and only DSouza used the phrase directly. But all three came to be regularly cited in the flood of anti-PC articles that appeared in venues such as the New York Times and Newsweek. When they did, the authors were cited as neutral authorities. Countless articles uncritically repeated their arguments.
In some respects, these books and articles were responding to genuine changes taking place within academia. It is true that scholars had become increasingly sceptical about whether it was possible to talk about timeless, universal truths that lay beyond language and representation. European theorists who became influential in US humanities departments during the 1970s and 1980s argued that individual experience was shaped by systems of which the individual might not be aware and particularly by language. Michel Foucault, for instance, argued that all knowledge expressed historically specific forms of power. Jacques Derrida, a frequent target of conservative critics, practised what he called deconstruction, rereading the classics of philosophy in order to show that even the most seemingly innocent and straightforward categories were riven with internal contradictions. The value of ideals such as humanity or liberty could not be taken for granted.
It was also true that many universities were creating new studies departments, which interrogated the experiences, and emphasised the cultural contributions of groups that had previously been excluded from the academy and from the canon: queer people, people of colour and women. This was not so strange. These departments reflected new social realities. The demographics of college students were changing, because the demographics of the United States were changing. By 1990, only two-thirds of Americans under 18 were white. In California, the freshman classes at many public universities were majority minority, or more than 50% non-white. Changes to undergraduate curriculums reflected changes in the student population.
The responses that the conservative bestsellers offered to the changes they described were disproportionate and often misleading. For instance, Bloom complained at length about the militancy of African American students at Cornell University, where he had taught in the 1960s. He never mentioned what students demanding the creation of African American studies were responding to: the biggest protest at Cornell took place in 1969 after a cross burning on campus, an open KKK threat. (An arsonist burned down the Africana Studies Center, founded in response to these protests, in 1970.)
More than any particular obfuscation or omission, the most misleading aspect of these books was the way they claimed that only their adversaries were political. Bloom, Kimball, and DSouza claimed that they wanted to preserve the humanistic tradition, as if their academic foes were vandalising a canon that had been enshrined since time immemorial. But canons and curriculums have always been in flux; even in white Anglo-America there has never been any one stable tradition. Moby Dick was dismissed as Herman Melvilles worst book until the mid-1920s. Many universities had only begun offering literature courses in living languages a decade or so before that.
In truth, these crusaders against political correctness were every bit as political as their opponents. As Jane Mayer documents in her book, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Bloom and DSouza were funded by networks of conservative donors particularly the Koch, Olin and Scaife families who had spent the 1980s building programmes that they hoped would create a new counter-intelligentsia. (The New Criterion, where Kimball worked, was also funded by the Olin and Scaife Foundations.) In his 1978 book A Time for Truth, William Simon, the president of the Olin Foundation, had called on conservatives to fund intellectuals who shared their views: They must be given grants, grants, and more grants in exchange for books, books, and more books.
These skirmishes over syllabuses were part of a broader political programme and they became instrumental to forging a new alliance for conservative politics in America, between white working-class voters and small business owners, and politicians with corporate agendas that held very little benefit for those people.
By making fun of professors who spoke in language that most people considered incomprehensible (The Lesbian Phallus), wealthy Ivy League graduates could pose as anti-elite. By mocking courses on writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, they made a racial appeal to white people who felt as if they were losing their country. As the 1990s wore on, because multiculturalism was associated with globalisation the force that was taking away so many jobs traditionally held by white working-class people attacking it allowed conservatives to displace responsibility for the hardship that many of their constituents were facing. It was not the slashing of social services, lowered taxes, union busting or outsourcing that was the cause of their problems. It was those foreign others.
PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. Political correctness became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the ordinary people and the liberal elite, who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era.
Soon, Republican politicians were echoing on the national stage the message that had been product-tested in the academy. In May 1991, President George HW Bush gave a commencement speech at the University of Michigan. In it, he identified political correctness as a major danger to America. Ironically, on the 200th anniversary of our Bill of Rights, we find free speech under assault throughout the United States, Bush said. The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land, but, he warned, In their own Orwellian way, crusades that demand correct behaviour crush diversity in the name of diversity.
After 2001, debates about political correctness faded from public view, replaced by arguments about Islam and terrorism. But in the final years of the Obama presidency, political correctness made a comeback. Or rather, anti-political-correctness did.
As Black Lives Matter and movements against sexual violence gained strength, a spate of thinkpieces attacked the participants in these movements, criticising and trivialising them by saying that they were obsessed with policing speech. Once again, the conversation initially focused on universities, but the buzzwords were new. Rather than difference and multiculturalism, Americans in 2012 and 2013 started hearing about trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, privilege and cultural appropriation.
This time, students received more scorn than professors. If the first round of anti-political-correctness evoked the spectres of totalitarian regimes, the more recent revival has appealed to the commonplace that millennials are spoiled narcissists, who want to prevent anyone expressing opinions that they happen to find offensive.
In January 2015, the writer Jonathan Chait published one of the first new, high-profile anti-PC thinkpieces in New York magazine. Not a Very PC Thing to Say followed the blueprint provided by the anti-PC thinkpieces that the New York Times, Newsweek, and indeed New York magazine had published in the early 1990s. Like the New York article from 1991, it began with an anecdote set on campus that supposedly demonstrated that political correctness had run amok, and then extrapolated from this incident to a broad generalisation. In 1991, John Taylor wrote: The new fundamentalism has concocted a rationale for dismissing all dissent. In 2015, Jonathan Chait claimed that there were once again angry mobs out to crush opposing ideas.
Chait warned that the dangers of PC had become greater than ever before. Political correctness was no longer confined to universities now, he argued, it had taken over social media and thus attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old. (As evidence of the hegemonic influence enjoyed by unnamed actors on the left, Chait cited two female journalists saying that they had been criticised by leftists on Twitter.)
Chaits article launched a spate of replies about campus and social media cry bullies. On the cover of their September 2015 issue, the Atlantic published an article by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. The title, The Coddling Of the American Mind, nodded to the godfather of anti-PC, Allan Bloom. (Lukianoff is the head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, another organisation funded by the Olin and Scaife families.) In the name of emotional wellbeing, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they dont like, the article announced. It was shared over 500,000 times.
The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness stories to spread
These pieces committed many of the same fallacies that their predecessors from the 1990s had. They cherry-picked anecdotes and caricatured the subjects of their criticism. They complained that other people were creating and enforcing speech codes, while at the same time attempting to enforce their own speech codes. Their writers designated themselves the arbiters of what conversations or political demands deserved to be taken seriously, and which did not. They contradicted themselves in the same way: their authors continually complained, in highly visible publications, that they were being silenced.
The climate of digital journalism and social media sharing enabled the anti-political-correctness (and anti-anti-political correctness) stories to spread even further and faster than they had in the 1990s. Anti-PC and anti-anti-PC stories come cheap: because they concern identity, they are something that any writer can have a take on, based on his or her experiences, whether or not he or she has the time or resources to report. They are also perfect clickbait. They inspire outrage, or outrage at the outrage of others.
Meanwhile, a strange convergence was taking place. While Chait and his fellow liberals decried political correctness, Donald Trump and his followers were doing the same thing. Chait said that leftists were perverting liberalism and appointed himself the defender of a liberal centre; Trump said that liberal media had the system rigged.
The anti-PC liberals were so focused on leftists on Twitter that for months they gravely underestimated the seriousness of the real threat to liberal discourse. It was not coming from women, people of colour, or queer people organising for their civil rights, on campus or elsewhere. It was coming from @realdonaldtrump, neo-Nazis, and far-right websites such as Breitbart.
The original critics of PC were academics or shadow-academics, Ivy League graduates who went around in bow ties quoting Plato and Matthew Arnold. It is hard to imagine Trump quoting Plato or Matthew Arnold, much less carping about the titles of conference papers by literature academics. During his campaign, the network of donors who funded decades of anti-PC activity the Kochs, the Olins, the Scaifes shunned Trump, citing concerns about the populist promises he was making. Trump came from a different milieu: not Yale or the University of Chicago, but reality television. And he was picking different fights, targeting the media and political establishment, rather than academia.
As a candidate, Trump inaugurated a new phase of anti-political-correctness. What was remarkable was just how many different ways Trump deployed this tactic to his advantage, both exploiting the tried-and-tested methods of the early 1990s and adding his own innovations.
First, by talking incessantly about political correctness, Trump established the myth that he had dishonest and powerful enemies who wanted to prevent him from taking on the difficult challenges facing the nation. By claiming that he was being silenced, he created a drama in which he could play the hero. The notion that Trump was both persecuted and heroic was crucial to his emotional appeal. It allowed people who were struggling economically or angry about the way society was changing to see themselves in him, battling against a rigged system that made them feel powerless and devalued. At the same time, Trumps swagger promised that they were strong and entitled to glory. They were great and would be great again.
Second, Trump did not simply criticise the idea of political correctness he actually said and did the kind of outrageous things that PC culture supposedly prohibited. The first wave of conservative critics of political correctness claimed they were defending the status quo, but Trumps mission was to destroy it. In 1991, when George HW Bush warned that political correctness was a threat to free speech, he did not choose to exercise his free speech rights by publicly mocking a man with a disability or characterising Mexican immigrants as rapists. Trump did. Having elevated the powers of PC to mythic status, the draft-dodging billionaire, son of a slumlord, taunted the parents of a fallen soldier and claimed that his cruelty and malice was, in fact, courage.
This willingness to be more outrageous than any previous candidate ensured non-stop media coverage, which in turn helped Trump attract supporters who agreed with what he was saying. We should not underestimate how many Trump supporters held views that were sexist, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic, and were thrilled to feel that he had given them permission to say so. Its an old trick: the powerful encourage the less powerful to vent their rage against those who might have been their allies, and to delude themselves into thinking that they have been liberated. It costs the powerful nothing; it pays frightful dividends.
Trump drew upon a classic element of anti-political-correctness by implying that while his opponents were operating according to a political agenda, he simply wanted to do what was sensible. He made numerous controversial policy proposals: deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from entering the US, introducing stop-and-frisk policies that have been ruled unconstitutional. But by responding to critics with the accusation that they were simply being politically correct, Trump attempted to place these proposals beyond the realm of politics altogether. Something political is something that reasonable people might disagree about. By using the adjective as a put-down, Trump pretended that he was acting on truths so obvious that they lay beyond dispute. Thats just common sense.
The most alarming part of this approach is what it implies about Trumps attitude to politics more broadly. His contempt for political correctness looks a lot like contempt for politics itself. He does not talk about diplomacy; he talks about deals. Debate and disagreement are central to politics, yet Trump has made clear that he has no time for these distractions. To play the anti-political-correctness card in response to a legitimate question about policy is to shut down discussion in much the same way that opponents of political correctness have long accused liberals and leftists of doing. It is a way of sidestepping debate by declaring that the topic is so trivial or so contrary to common sense that it is pointless to discuss it. The impulse is authoritarian. And by presenting himself as the champion of common sense, Trump gives himself permission to bypass politics altogether.
Now that he is president-elect, it is unclear whether Trump meant many of the things he said during his campaign. But, so far, he is fulfilling his pledge to fight political correctness. Last week, he told the New York Times that he was trying to build an administration filled with the best people, though Not necessarily people that will be the most politically correct people, because that hasnt been working.
Trump has also continued to cry PC in response to criticism. When an interviewer from Politico asked a Trump transition team member why Trump was appointing so many lobbyists and political insiders, despite having pledged to drain the swamp of them, the source said that one of the most refreshing parts of the whole Trump style is that he does not care about political correctness. Apparently it would have been politically correct to hold him to his campaign promises.
As Trump prepares to enter the White House, many pundits have concluded that political correctness fuelled the populist backlash sweeping Europe and the US. The leaders of that backlash may say so. But the truth is the opposite: those leaders understood the power that anti-political-correctness has to rally a class of voters, largely white, who are disaffected with the status quo and resentful of shifting cultural and social norms. They were not reacting to the tyranny of political correctness, nor were they returning America to a previous phase of its history. They were not taking anything back. They were wielding anti-political-correctness as a weapon, using it to forge a new political landscape and a frightening future.
The opponents of political correctness always said they were crusaders against authoritarianism. In fact, anti-PC has paved the way for the populist authoritarianism now spreading everywhere. Trump is anti-political correctness gone mad.
Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.
Posted: November 16, 2016 at 4:29 am
William P. Ruger
William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.
Go here to read the rest:
Posted: October 15, 2016 at 5:29 am
Jeffrey Epstein is currently infamous for his conviction for soliciting a fourteen-year-old girl for prostitution and for allegedly orchestrating underage sex slave orgies at his private Virgin Island mansion, where he purportedly pimped out underage girls to elite political figures such as Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, and probably Bill Clinton as well (he also traveled to Thailand in 2001 with Prince Andrew, probably to indulge in the countrys rampant child sex trade).
But before these sex scandals were the highlight of Epsteins celebrity, he was better known not just for his financial prowess, but also for his extensive funding of biotechnological and evolutionary science. With his bankster riches, he founded the Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation which established Harvard Universitys Program for Evolutionary Dynamics.
Epstein, a former CFR and Trilateral Commission Member, also sat on the board of Harvards Mind, Brain, and Behavior Committee. He has furthermore been actively involved in . . . the Theoretical Biology Initiative at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the Quantum Gravity Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Santa Fe Institute, which is a transdisciplinary research community that expands the boundaries of scientific understanding . . . to discover, comprehend, and communicate the common fundamental principles in complex physical, computational, biological, and social systems.
The scope of Epsteins various science projects spans research into genetics, neuroscience, robotics, computer science, and artificial intelligence (AI). Altogether, the convergence of these science subfields comprises an interdisciplinary science known as transhumanism: the artificial perfection of human evolution through humankinds merger with technology. In fact, Epstein partners with Humanity+, a major transhumanism interest group.
Transhumanists believe that technologically upgrading humankind into a singularity will bring about a utopia in which poor health, the ravages of old age and even death itself will all be things of the past. In fact, eminent transhumanist Ray Kurzweil, chief of engineering at Google, believes that he will become godlike as a result of the singularity.
But the truth is that transhumanism is merely a more high-tech revision of eugenics conceptualized by eugenicist and UNESCO Director-General Julian Huxley. And when corporate philanthropists like pedophile Epsteinas well as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, and Google executives such as Eric Schmidt and Larry Pageare the major bankrollers behind these transhumanism projects, the whole enterprise seems ominously reminiscent of the corporate-philanthropic funding of American and Nazi eugenics.
In America, Charles Davenports eugenics research at Cold Spring Harbor was bankrolled by elite financiers, such as the Harriman family, as well as robber barons and their nonprofit foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute of Washington. Davenport collaborated with Nazi eugenicists who were likewise funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. In the end, these Rockefeller-funded eugenics programs contributed to the forced sterilization of over 60,000 Americans and the macabre human experimentation and genocide of the Nazi concentration camps. (This sinister collusion is thoroughly documented in War Against the Weak by award-winning investigative journalist Edwin Black).
If history has shown us that these are the sordid bioethics that result from corporate-funded biosocial science, shouldnt we be weary of the transhumanism projects of neo-robber barons like Epstein, Gates, Zuckerberg, Thiel, and the Google gang?
It should be noted that Epstein once sat on the board of Rockefeller University. At the same time, the Rockefeller Foundationwhich has continued to finance Cold Spring Harbor programs as recently as 2010also funds the Santa Fe Institute and the New York Academy of Sciences, both of which Epstein has been actively involved in.
The Rockefeller Foundation also funds the Malthusian-eugenic Population Council, which transhumanist Bill Gates likewise finances in carrying on the population reduction activism of his father, William H. Gates Sr.
And in 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation funded a transhumanistic white paper titled Dreaming the Future of Health for the Next 100 Years, which explores [r]e-engineering of humans into separate and unequal forms through genetic engineering or mixed human-robots.
So, considering that transhumanismthe outgrowth of eugenicsis being steered not only by twenty-first-century robber barons, but by corporatist monopoly men who are connected to the very transhumanist Rockefeller Foundation which funded Nazi eugenics, I suspect that transhumanist technology will not upgrade the common person. Rather, it will only be disseminated to the public in such a wayas Stanford University Professor Paul Saffo predictsthat converts social class hierarchies into bio(techno)logical hierarchies by artificially evolving the One Percent into a species separate from the unfit working poor, which will be downgraded as a slave class.
In his 1932 eugenic-engineering dystopia, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (Julians brother) depicts how biotechnology, drugs, and psychological conditioning would in the future be used to establish a Scientific Caste System ruled by a global scientific dictatorship. But Huxley was not warning us with his novel. As historian Joanne Woiak demonstrates in her journal article entitled Designing a Brave New World: Eugenics, Politics, and Fiction, Aldous brave new world can . . . be understood as a serious design for social reform (105). In a 1932 essay, titled Science and Civilization, Huxley promoted his eugenic caste system: in a scientific civilization society must be organized on a caste basis. The rulers and their advisory experts will be a kind of Brahmins controlling, in virtue of a special and mysterious knowledge, vast hordes of the intellectual equivalents of Sudras and Untouchables (153-154).
With the aforementioned digital robber barons driving the burgeoning age of transhumanist neo-eugenics, I fear that Huxleys Scientific Caste System may become a reality. And with Epstein behind the wheel, the new GMO Sudras will likely consist of not only unskilled labor slaves, but also child sex slaves wholike the preadolescents in Brave New Worldwill be brainwashed with Elementary Sex Education, which will inculcate them with a smash monogamy sexuality that will serve the elite World Controllers.
Huxley, Aldous. Science and Civilization. Aldous Huxley: Complete Essays. Eds. Robert S. Baker and James Sexton. Vol. III. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000. 148-155. Print. 4 vols.
John Klyczek has an MA in English and is a college English instructor, concentrating on the history of global eugenics and Aldous Huxleys dystopian novel, Brave New World.
See original here:
Posted: September 2, 2016 at 6:00 am
The HBO show’s creator may or may not be a Randian, but a version of her philosophy runs through his body of work
Carl Barney has run a lucrative nonprofit education empire under the principles of the libertarian figurehead
The Uber model just doesn’t work for other industries. The price points always fail — and that’s a good thing
Yesterday, the House Speaker apologized for calling America’s impoverished “takers.” But he hasn’t changed a bit
Snyder working on an adaptation of Rand’s novel makes perfect sensejust look at his body of work VIDEO
John Boehner is laying the groundwork for a “Draft Ryan” campaign at the GOP convention. The whole thing is absurd
Values voters, Tea Party conservatives, faux-populists grifting for book deals and Fox spots — meet today’s GOP
Fans feel “so betrayed” seeing the “Star Wars” heartthrob in an “Atlas Shrugged” shirt
The brilliant critic Evgeny Morozov discusses the myths Silicon Valley tells about itself, and why we believe them
The most effective ways to expose their contradictions and faulty logic
A stern, serious Krugman says anyone who doesn’t believe the GOP’s real gold standard fervor is deluding themselves
Freedom now means winner-take-all capitalism, and it’s slowly morphing our political system into a plutocracy
We’ve been a fed a myth about heroic individuals — and that allows the 1 percent to prosper at everyone’s expense
The Wisconsin congressman may be a radical, but he’s also a product of the insider cronyism the Tea Party abhors
Read about Paul Ryan and you might think he is a thoughtful, right-of-center policy wonk, not an Ayn Rand ideologue
The wingnut pundit resents the liberal tone of TV, but turns out cartoonish, right-leaning prose
What’s causing the GOP’s slide into complete dysfunction? It’s not overheated rhetoric; it’s the politics of race
EXCLUSIVE: New transcript of Rand at West Point in ’74 enthusiastically defends extermination of Native Americans
Conservatives have long wielded “socialism” as a pejorative — but Sanders owns it and is transforming politics
The objectivist classic is brimming with historical revisionism, faulty economic theory and dubious sexual politics
Page 1 of 7 in Ayn Rand
View original post here: