Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Democrat Overreach On Civil Liberties As Bad As Banking Dependency On Derivatives

racket  |  The campaign against “disinformation” in this way has become the proxy for a war against civil liberties that probably began in 2016, when the reality of Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination first began to spread through the intellectual class. There was a crucial moment in May of that year, when Andrew Sullivan published “Democracies End When They Are Too Democratic.”

This piece was a cri de coeur for the educated set. I read it on the way to covering Trump’s clinching victory in the Indiana primary, and though I disagreed with its premise, I recognized right away that Andrew’s argument was brilliant and would have legs. Sullivan described Plato’s paradoxical observation that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy,” explaining that as freedoms spread and deference to authority withered, the state would become ungovernable:

The very rich come under attack, as inequality becomes increasingly intolerable. Patriarchy is also dismantled: “We almost forgot to mention the extent of the law of equality and of freedom in the relations of women with men and men with women.” Family hierarchies are inverted: “A father habituates himself to be like his child and fear his sons, and a son habituates himself to be like his father and to have no shame before or fear of his parents.” In classrooms, “as the teacher ... is frightened of the pupils and fawns on them, so the students make light of their teachers.” Animals are regarded as equal to humans; the rich mingle freely with the poor in the streets and try to blend in. The foreigner is equal to the citizen.

And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.

It was already patently obvious to anyone covering politics in America that respect for politicians and institutions was vanishing at warp speed. I thought it was a consequence of official lies like WMD, failed policies like the Iraq War or the financial crisis response, and the increasingly insufferable fakery of presidential politics. People like author Martin Gurri pointed at a free Internet, which allowed the public to see these warts in more hideous technicolor than before.

Sullivan saw many of the same things, but his idea about a possible solution was to rouse to action the country’s elites, who “still matter” and “provide the critical ingredient to save democracy from itself.” Look, Andrew’s English, a crime for which I think people may in some cases be excused (even if I found myself reaching for something sharp when he described Bernie Sanders as a “demagogue of the left”). Also, his essay was subtle and had multiple layers, one of which was an exhortation to those same elites to wake up and listen to the anger in the population.

Unfortunately, post-election, each successive version of what was originally a careful and subtle “Too Much Democracy” idea became more simplistic and self-serving. By 2019 the shipwreck of the Weekly Standard, the Bulwark, was publishing “Too Much Democracy is Killing Democracy,” an article which insisted it wasn’t an argument for the vote to be restricted, but “it is an argument for a political, social, and cultural compact that makes participation by many unnecessary.” Soon we had people like Joan Donovan of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center leading the charge for “de-platforming,” not as a general principle of course, but merely as a “short-term” solution. In its own way it was very Trumpian thinking: we just need to clamp down on speech until we can “figure out what is going on.”

Still, as far back as 2016, the RAND Corporation conducted a study showing the phrase most predictive of Trump support was “people like me don’t have any say.” This was a problem of corporate and financial concentration invisible to people of a certain class. As fewer and fewer people were needed to run the giant banking or retail delivery or communications machines of society, there were more and more going straight from college back to their parents’ houses, where they spent their days fighting voice-mail programs just to find out where to send their (inevitably unanswered) job applications. This was going to inspire some angry tweets, and frankly, allowing all of them was the least the system could do.

Instead of facing the boiling-ever-hotter problem underneath, the managerial types decided — in the short term only, of course — to mechanically deamplify the discontent, papering things over with an expanding new bureaucracy of “polarization mitigation,” what Michael calls the Censorship-Industrial Complex. Instead of opening society’s doors and giving people roles and a voice, those doors are being closed more tightly, creating an endless cycle of anger and reaction.

Making a furious public less visible doesn’t make it go away. Moreover, as we saw at the hearing, clamping down on civil liberties makes obnoxious leaders more conspicuous, not less. Democrats used to understand this, but now they’re betting everything on the blinders they refuse to take off, a plan everyone but them can see won’t end well.


Honestly Not Sure How A Turd Like This Calls Itself A Scholar.....,

chronicle  |   It is not surprising for a boss to think that employees should avoid saying things in public that might damage the organiz...