Oligarchic Jousting vs republicanism

The IM-1776 review Neo Feudalism or New Class War is ,as good non fiction book reviews should be, a thoughtful look at the books and discussion of the core thesis.

Michael Lind in The New Class War and Joel Kotkin in The Coming of Neo-Feudalism both demonstrate the defunct nature of the ‘socially liberal, fiscally conservative’ worldview that dominated post-Cold War politics. Lind’s central contention is that, because it creates vast power inequalities, class matters as much now as in pre-modern politics, in spite of our democratic aspirations. Kotkin, on the other hand, argues that class divisions now resemble the Middle Ages specifically. Both books herald a society we should strive to avoid.

IM-1776, Neo Feudalism or New Class War, Henry George

As a side note IM-1776, an online magazine, appears to be a very promising source of thoughtful discussion on society from a somewhat acerbic point of view.

Have not read either book, but have them on the list of possible future reads. Possible because from Mr. George’s review I have to say that I have absorbed much of what they think from a broad swath of other reading and my own thinking on the topic of where we are and where we might be going. It is also interesting that Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) our populist public philosopher seems to be paralleling the threads woven here but I see his perceptions as being driven from dynamic understanding of the online gestalt rather than analytical sourcing.

Put rather bluntly the gestalt of the populace regarding their own nation is largely illusory. That while the theory and form of gov’t is one thing the reality is largely different. While we think this is a republic where the ‘will of the people’ rules the reality is that a small number of people establish what that ‘will’ is through control of the focus of the media and the ‘rules of the game’ via law and regulation.

If you look beyond America, at some extreme examples, you may see a distorted mirror of this. That in places like the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, the ‘people’ who could rise up and blot out the ‘establishment’ don’t. Because the ‘hive mind’ that is our base perception is convinced that the status quo is as good as it gets or at worst is so ingrained with everyone else that your rising against would be useless.

Recently Scott Adams pointed out that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook invested 10’s of millions in changing the voting rules in many places to increase the % of people voting. That you might see this as a driving factor in why certain places saw unprecedented voting, which tipped the balance to Zombie Joe instead of Orange Man Bad. (Now I happen to think that unprecedented levels of cheating had something to do with this as well but am willing to see MZ’s contribution as having a large, perhaps overwhelming effect… perhaps by making cheating easier?)

So Scott Adams said, (roughly) maybe Mark Zuckerberg’s is really the only vote that counted in this last election. Please note that Scott Adam’s is purposefully hyperbolic in many cases to get his thoughts to stick ‘directionally’ (which is how he sees a lot of Trump’s messaging on Twitter.)

What has evolved in the Post Cold War west is a form of Oligarchy with a surface wash of Republican representative democracy. The forms that Japan, Korea, Europe, even Russia and China took on are in essence what we have evolved to. You could say that the US was ALWAYS this way to some significant extent. With the Oligarchs jousting, politely’ each other and to a large extent, ‘following the will of the people.’ And if that then those other states maybe saw this more clearly than ‘we’ did and followed along since it clearly left the Oligarchs in charge while also providing them a safety buffer against the pitchforks and tiki torches.

If this is the future (and maybe it explains the past?) then one has to hope that the oligarchs who manipulate (for that is what it is) the people’s thinking have the best interests of the country in mind and are smart enough to know what that is before the results of past actions come to fruition. Because the rest of us are going to be suffering when the ‘best minds’ screw up.

Seem’s about right, Diplomacy like governing cannot be about absolutes

Rand Paul on Diplomacy : Unconditional Surrender is Not an option20140119-134230.jpg
Why is it that so many see conservatives as absolutists? In reality they are much more likely to understand the limits of power, of hope, of dreams and to take the long view, big changes really happen over decades not years.

Well…it seems obvious that Commercial Defense Firm is a 21st century oxymoron

20131109-163511.jpgBAE Shipbuilding Fiasco Has Lessons
Source: defense-aerospace.com; published Nov. 7, 2013 By Giovanni de Briganti
BAE TO SHUTTER LAST UK SHIPYARD
A vastly different and nuanced take on the ‘closure’ from Sir Humphrey:

The death of UK shipbuilding has been greatly over exaggerated
The news in the UK is dominated today by the announcements of mass redundancies in the BAE shipbuilding business, with almost 2000 jobs being lost at three sites in Portsmouth and Scotland. The news is very sad, particularly for those families involved, but offset slightly by the news of a planned order of three new OPVs for the Royal Navy, ostensibly to replace the current River class vessels. The news has been seen as highly damaging to the UK shipbuilding industry, and resulted in headlines claiming the end of 500 years shipbuilding as we know it in Portsmouth (in fact utter nonsense as Portsmouth has gone many decades without building warships other than HMS CLYDE – it had only recently regained construction of blocks for the Type 45 project) and leading to unpleasant suggestions about it being a sop to the Scots ahead of the referendum.

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Smart lighting idea…but in some ways it’s back to the future…

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This diagram shows how the University of Cincinnati’s SmartLight can direct sunlight from the outside of a building (far right) to the inner part of a building and to a centralized harvesting- and energy-storage hub (far left). Credit: Anton Harfmann, U?
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-smartlight-bright-idea-revolution-interior.html#jCp

Very cool but think about this, a century ago buildings had tall ceilings transoms, etc to duct light and air around, then we invented air conditioning and electric lights…and we got lazy. Sounds like the naked monkeys at it again.

WIRED | Gig-ing, the next economy

20130917-191617.jpgThe Gig Economy: The Force That Could Save the American Worker? BY MICHA KAUFMAN, 09.17.13

Back to the future, the steady job ‘created’ by Henry Ford and his cohort will fade from center stage after about a century of centrality, making economists’ jobs even harder. My belief that this is already happening and is part (probably a tiny part) of the official jobless recovery problem.

WoT me worry?

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From the Lebanese (you know, the Lebanon, between the Mediterranean, Syria and Israel), The Daily Star || Rami G. Khouri || Blame those who brought Al-Qaeda to life

Excellent short piece, I agree that the WoT (war on terror) has gone AWOL and the drone wars are nothing but a bloody patch, rapidly passing their use by date. Drones have been shown to be a fundamental game changer along with precision weapons but its still state sanctioned murder (with the unintentional slaughter of innocents reduced but not eliminated) at first and still when used appropriately as part of a strategy with operational planning and support tactics they were/are a success but today they are fireworks pressed up to make like policy.

Our strategic and operational thinking & planning long ago died a dusty death and now the wonks blow things up by the numbers…this is LBJ/McNamara’s #’s game bombing Vietnam all over again.

Don’t get me wrong I doubt we’re killing indiscriminately and our operators are doing the best they possibly can but without the proper and appropriate strategy, planning and tactics, we cannot win, we cannot kill our way out of this. I am concerned that like with antibiotics, misused medicine eventually makes the disease much more dangerous.

Can’t resist this piece of this article….Man Triggered Rain Forest

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Read the whole article, Seven Surprising Truths about the World : A lot of the bad news you think you know is wrong, but this piece of it made me grin for a change:

Local Biodiversity Is Increasing

Ascension Island is about as isolated as a piece of land can get, sitting in the Atlantic Ocean about midway between Africa and South America. When the British claimed authority over the uninhabited, barren hunk of stone in the early 19th century, it was frequently likened to a “cinder” or a “ruinous heap of rocks.” The new owners named Ascension’s central peak White Mountain, after the color of the bare rocks of which it was composed.

In 1846, botanist John Hooker from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew visited and decided to try transplanting a wide variety of plants onto the island. A century and a half later, the result has been an “accidental rainforest.” White Mountain, now renamed Green Mountain, is covered with an extensive cloud forest consisting of guava, banana, wild ginger, bamboo, the Chinese glory bower and Madagascan periwinkle, Norfolk Island pine, and eucalyptus from Australia. Because of the man-made micro-climate, what used to be a desert island now features several permanent streams.

Ascension Island undercuts the conventional ecological wisdom that tropical rainforests are supposed to take millions of years to form. And what happened on Ascension has been happening all around the world, as people have moved thousands of species from their native habitats to new locales, increasing species richness. Wherever human beings have gone in the past two centuries, we have increased local and regional biodiversity.

Syria, the ugly truth is its not going to get better

Syria (like Egypt) as presently constituted simply is not viable as a country. Iraq might be viable, because it has enough oil to subsidize a largely uneducated, pre-modern population. As an economist and risk analyst (I ran Credit Strategy for Credit Suisse and all fixed income research for Bank of America), I do not believe that there is any way to stabilize either country

Read more @:http://pjmedia.com/spengler/2013/06/05/muslim-civil-wars-stem-from-a-crisis-of-civilization

The Romans did it

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This image shows a drill core of volcanic ash-hydrated lime mortar from the ancient port of Baiae in Pozzuloi Bay. Yellowish inclusions are pumice, dark stony fragments are lava, gray areas consist of other volcanic crystalline materials, and white spots are lime. The inset is a scanning electron microscope image of the special Al-tobermorite crystals that are key to the superior quality of Roman seawater concrete. (Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley)

read more at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130604135409.htm

Roman technology was very advanced, their society collapsed due to political and social forces not for a lack of tools.