Randoms of the day

In the comments, Alrenous has some thoughts on government:

Put together, modern ‘democracies’ are extremely sophisticated power-obfuscating structures. For example, there’s incredibly advanced methods of pretending that heresy and lese majeste don’t exist anymore, pretending not to have a one-party state, pretending to follow the constitution, pretending to be a democracy at all, etc…

Working out who had real jurisdiction over what in a Monarchy isn’t straightforward because various power-holders are deluded about what power they hold, and it isn’t what they formally hold. Similarly, they may have some residual formal power that depends on the illusion they do actually hold it, and will tell every lie to retain that residual.

Working out who has real jurisdiction in our system is at least two orders of magnitude more difficult.

Though it can be fairly easy to work out who doesn’t have power. To first order approximation, the president has no power. To second order, the senate has no power.* Does the house? I’ve never heard of any actual result coming from the house, but that just means I’ve never tried to evaluate if it actually came from the house.

*(I understand committees have some, but it seems DC fashion determines committee outcome rather than member politics – so who are the fashion leaders?)

Similarly, front-line bureaucrats have very little power. As you’ve shown, top-level bureaucrats have no power. So it must be someone in the middle. But who? Over what?

Beyond approximation, what changes can the president actually effect? If the president and the senate fought over something, who would win?

Must journalists toe an unofficial official line to keep their jobs, or are their delusions of ‘making a difference’ actually partially grounded in fact?

If the universities opposed the papers, who would win? Is this arrangement even possible, or are papers entirely subordinate?

Does public choice dictate university positions, or do professors dictate public choices?

Also in the comments, Handle links to an article which says that "6 pages of Obamacare equals 429 pages of regulations."

Daniel Larison: "We Need to Rescue Civilization from the People Who Always Want to Rescue Civilization Through Warfare"

Henry Blodget has no penis.

Conservatism as a losing strategy – I would have written this differently. I would tend to emphasize the ruthlessness of progressiveness. Basically anyone who practices ideologies that oppose progressivism are killed in wars to defend democracy if they get successful enough. Progressives keep conservatives around to that it looks like they have an enemy.

Dennis Mangan: "Condemnation of prejudice as intolerance and trying to ensure its disappearance makes about as much sense as treating hunger with amphetamines. Nationalism would seem to be a mechanism analogous to the function of civilization through which prejudice is minimized, allowing large numbers to form a group and to cooperate."

John Derbyshire finds some interesting stats:

Immigrant households with children with the highest use rates are those from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (75 percent), and Ecuador (70 percent). Those with the lowest use rates are from the United Kingdom (7 percent), India (19 percent), Canada (23 percent), and Korea (25 percent). These figures remind us that although the overall use rates for immigrant households with children are quite high, this is not the case for all immigrant-sending countries and regions.”

Tino: "Richard Florida is a urban theorist, famous for his book "The Rise of the Creative Class". The book argues that since liberal cities with a large concentration of high-tech industries such as San Francisco and Boston have plenty of street musicians and gay bars, street musicians and gay bars must be causing the high-tech sector."


2 Responses to Randoms of the day

  1. dearieme says:

    That’s “welfare use”, that “use” is.

  2. baduin says:

    Power can mean two quite different things: the physical power of some system, and the ability to effect changes in conformity with the rational will.

    An elephant has immense power in the first sense, and none in the second, since it has no rational will and is directed entirely by instinct.

    Similarly, USA has immense power in the first sense still, but nearly none in the second.

    Secondly, it is necessary to understand what is actually meant by “open society” in the Popperian sense. This means “improving society”. This is an ideal of the West since XI century, and it is unique to it. Elsewhere else, by improving society was meant restoring it to some earlier ideal state. Society was meant to be static, or as close to static as possible.

    On the other hand, a “Continually improving society” means a continually changing society. But a society can be origanised in only one way at a time. A continually changing society would dissolve immediately, if there was no some meta-system keeping it together.

    To keep society changing, you need to have some authority, immensely powerful authority, which will decree what to change and how. Or you need to have some mechanism, a system which will automatically decide which of the proposed changes are to be introduced. In addition, you need some principle of cohesion, which would keep a society, as a group of people together, despite the changes in its organization.

    The first principle was the common agreement on the necessity of improvements. Nearly everyone agreed that society should be as good as possible, and that it was possible to have absolutely good and just society, in the secular sense. Those ideas are unique to the West, and the principle of continuous improvement follows from them.

    The second principle is not exactly “equality”; it is something previous and fundamental for the later principle of equality. This could be called “universal access to the ground of Being”. In the West, it was considered that everyone (or at least every member of the intellectual elite; this ambivalence is very important) could equally commune with the ground of Being: God, or Reason, or Being as such, or Fundamental Humanity, or whatever. This is a very ancient principle, it is the basis for Raymond Lully’s theories of democratic elections from XIV century, and is already obvious in the prophecies of the rule of intellectuals of Joachim da Fiore from XII century. He called this coming new era, which we called Modernity “The Age of the Holy Ghost”, compared with the earlier Christian “Age of Jesus Christ” and Judaistic “Age of God the Father”. Holy Ghost was to give every Christian (or every Christian monk or intellectual – again that ambiguity) the direct inspiration showing the correct direction, correct interpretation of Scripture.

    Those two basic principle were generally enough to keep unity as to direction, with regular civil and holy wars etc, of course. But the principle was strong enough to keep progress going, despite occasional setbacks.

    The principle of unity was provided by the Christianity and later nationalism and the feeling of the common purpose of the West – with nationalism being most important, but always following the principle that nations have to cooperate under the leadership of the chief nation (formerly France and England, currently America).

    An “open society” offers an enormous power compared to the traditional “closed society” because it is constantly changing itself. Therefore, if someone manages to gain control over it, he can change the society itself, which is practically impossible elsewhere, except by being a prophet and founding a new society and religion.

    On the other hand, those changes happen in the long term. The decisions what changes to introduce were taken long ago, were accepted by the “progressive filter” described above and the necessary mechanism were put in place. Today, it is not necessary that anyone has any control at all. More power for one means less power for others. And since the social changes happen in the long term, the people who took the necessary decision lived perhaps 100 years ago, or earlier.

    There is in addition one problem: in 1968, the Progress and West were defeated, in the only way possible: from the inside. The ideas pushed through the progressive filter were designed to deconstruct the West from the inside, and this is what happens.But since everything still passes the “filter”, nobody can oppose it.

    In other words, the leading groups of society are OK with the actions of the state and society not making any sense and being quite obviously self-destructive – as long as they meet the formal criteria of “progressiveness”.

    And that is OK, since the system was a bit suicidal to begin with, and it should be retired as quickly as possible.

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