Forward!

I want to thank everybody once again who emailed me in response to my previous post, and to all who commented. I had begun to have very serious doubts about whether I was really doing anything useful or helpful here, or just shouting up a drainpipe, and the many responses I received were enormously encouraging. Although I hate to single anyone out, the very first comment — a link to this essay by Albert Jay Nock — affected me deeply, and I thank the commenter (whose name refers to a strange and creepy idea known as “Roko’s Basilisk“) very much for posting it.

I do want to make some changes, though. I’ll still pound away, perhaps a little less exclusively, about political, social, and related issues. I will try to make the tone a little less polemic, though, which will mostly mean pruning some normative adjectives. (I certainly won’t shy away from, for example, pointing out that various extremely powerful parties have deep antipathies to American or Western traditions, that others are running what amounts to an international criminal syndicate masquerading as a charitable foundation, or that so-and-so is in fact a person of doubtful character, and so on — but I will try to rant a little less and explain a little more.)

I also intend to adjust the balance of topics so as to pay more attention to the things I used to write about, and new things besides. Yes, our civilization is still on a runaway train to the edge of a very nasty cliff, but the scenery is still attractive, and it is worth trying to enjoy the ride just a bit more.

The comment-policy needs improving. I realize threads can wander off-topic, though I will ask commenters to try not to; what I really need to eliminate, though, are insulting comments that do nothing to advance the discussion at hand. I am going to delete those. (I am not innocent of this myself, especially lately, and have been pretty short-tempered at times too, so I share this burden.) What I don’t want to have, on political or related threads, and will no longer allow, is mere name-calling and poo-flinging.

In order to have any productive discussion at all, however, there must be sufficient common ground. People with incommensurable axioms, or who use words to mean entirely different things, or whose disdain for the Other Side is so visceral as to make them think in purely moralistic (or as I see it, crypto-religious) terms about opposing views, simply cannot engage productively, and when I see that happening I’m going to shut it down, because it’s a waste of our time. In particular, it is a waste of my time to respond at tedious length to thousand-word comments based on a system of beliefs with which my own worldview, my own set of axioms, has little or no congruence. (An example of such incompatibility lies at the very heart of most “conservative/liberal” differences; it is, as a great many observers have explained, a difference about the malleability and the limits of human nature.) Often such comments pose — and often convincingly so to sympathetic or less-astute readers — as litanies of “facts”, but “facts” require context, and often require a great deal of unpacking before they reveal underlying assumptions, methodological vaguenesses, selection biases, and other hidden variables and liabilities. Facts are nothing without theories to connect them.

In short, if I am writing about political or social matters, I am doing so from my own viewpoint, which is, for the most part, traditionally conservative (or, perhaps more accurately, “reactionary”). I am skeptical about many things that most people, especially what I sometimes call “goodthinkful” people, hold as axioms. These include such intensely polarized topics as: so-called “social justice”; the relative values of various political systems and political enfranchisements; human biological variation; what to do about climate change; the value of tradition and traditional roles; the differences between the sexes; the value of hierarchies; and, I’m sure, many others that I don’t need to enumerate here. If the very fact that I would question any of the “progress” we have made in these areas irritates you, or strikes you as a sign of moral weakness, then you don’t belong here, and I’m going to tell you so. I will tell you also that my aim in examining all of this — even if you find it hard to believe — is simply to understand what makes for happy, harmonious, safe, fecund and prosperous societies. (Furthermore, I will add that the solution to that problem, in my opinion, varies a great deal for different human populations, and that a naive universalism about this is at the root of many of the woes of the modern world. If that irritates you, or strikes you as a sign of moral weakness, then you probably don’t belong here either, and I’m telling you so now. Stick around only if you think I might persuade you — and I ask you to be honest with yourself about that.)

That’s really all I have to say about all of this. I’ll probably excerpt some of what I’ve written above and stick it to the main page someplace.

Again I must thank all of you, as always, for reading this blog. It’s been nearly eleven years now, and this is post number four thousand forty-seven. I hope to keep at it for many years to come.

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29 Comments

  1. Whitewall says

    Malcolm, it seems like some thorough reflection went into your post. The new mind set sounds healthy and hopefully rewarding. I’m looking forward and hoping.

    Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:16 pm | Permalink
  2. Ditto what Robert said.

    whssign.gif

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 12:38 am | Permalink
  3. Musey says

    The rule changes have been duly noted. Sometimes the best blogs do provoke more passionate responses and that easily crosses the line and becomes mindless mud-slinging. Martin had already read the most recent angst-filled exchanges and suggested that I might like to stop over-reacting, and I had already promised him that I would, so it’s all good.

    Whitewall, you’ve never said anything bad about anybody ever, so you can just carry on as normal!

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 1:51 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm,

    Here is a pic that might help you recover from your knee surgery, as well as the angst, which I share, over the world’s conflict of visions.

    Scottish Hill, Buachaille Etiv Mòr, Scotland

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 3:23 am | Permalink
  5. Whitewall says

    Musey, you are very kind. I try to keep it clean for the sake of good communicating. Another reason is simply, I don’t like using bad language where women might be present. I do like to use humor when I can as it is good for one’s mental health. Now lest my shiny armor hide its tarnish, if someone bad-in the public arena- needs something bad said about them…I can say it. Just not about another commenter.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 8:29 am | Permalink
  6. djf says

    Malcolm, I’m glad you’re going to continue blogging. I agree with you on the pointlessness of most debate with the other side. It is not just that they are intellectually dishonest, it is that they refuse to be forthright about the moral premises from which they argue. Their strategy is to pretend to be the true heirs of whatever tradition their audience identifies with – Christianity, Judaism, republicanism, liberalism (in the old sense), democracy, the Enlightenment – even as they seek to replace those traditions with something else. That “something else” is really supported by nothing but arbitrary choice of the now dominant social group – no real moral reasoning leads to it. This is why most sophisticated leftists – based on what I’ve read and consistent with my own sad experience with my brother – lose interest in discussing political and moral issues with non-leftists who are able to see through their subterfuges, logical fallacies, inconsistencies, and distortions of history and figure out the three-card monte game that is being played. They prefer to browbeat relative simpletons. Your friend OEM is somewhat unusual in repeatedly picking the same fight with you, even though he must realize that you can pick up apart his arguments. I never understood why you tolerated his grandstanding.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    djf,

    You correctly identified the issue as forthrightness about moral (and other) premises. More specifically, what you’re dealing with when arguing with people on the Left (and I think this is true to a much greater extent on the Left than the Right) is that their arguments are so often what are called enthymemes: syllogisms with hidden premises and intermediate steps.

    The biggest of all, as noted in this post, is the “unconstrained” vision of human nature, the idea that people are infinitely malleable, rational, and improvable. But there are many others, such as the premise that all people are essentially cognitively, behaviorally, etc. the same, and so all social failures must be exogenous and cultural, and therefore remediable through external action (by government, of course).

    Another hidden premise is that equality and liberty are not antagonistic goals. Yet another is that equality is morally more important than liberty. (This leads, by another hidden step, to the conclusion that hierarchy, which explicitly and necessarily establishes unequal relationships, must give way wherever possible to “leveling” — with, of course, government doing the leveling.)

    The list goes on and on.

    I’ve come to believe that the biggest “hidden premise” of all is that the modern Left is, in fact, a cryptoreligion — a repurposing of the religious impulse, and a continuation, in a very straight line, of the “mission” of the Puritans. Because so much of the Left is overtly and ostentatiously secular, this must stay deeply buried, even to themselves. (Indeed, they may not even understand how much of their worldview is a “sublimation” of the universal religious instinct.) The Right, on the other hand, being far more comfortable with tradition and religion, is able to be much more open about its premises.

    What all this means is that both sides are “right” in the sense that their conclusions follow from their premises. (Not nearly always in terms of real-world results, of course, but in an analytical sense.) So how can either side ever win an argument with the other?

    As for the OEM, the reason I tolerate his grandstanding is because, as you know, he is an old friend, and there are things that are more important than politics. But our arguments in here certainly haven’t been productive.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink
  8. djf says

    Thanks for your response, Malcolm, which puts what I was trying to say with more eloquence than I could muster. I would add only that, as I think you imply, the Left’s opposition to “hierarchy” (which is one of their great selling points to the gullible young) is completely fake – their exaltation of the value of equality beyond all others requires the erection of a central authority to stamp out excessive inequality wherever it might spring up. For example, universities today, which are leftist to the core, are more hierarchical and authoritarian than they were when I was in school in the 80s.

    In fact, upon examination, their devotion to “equality” also is revealed as something other than that. Which leads me to think that the Left’s real aim ( not realized by most of its followers) is to attach itself to some outside force to replace our own civilization. The kind of society they say they are trying to construct is not sustainable.

    Well, enough despair for now. Have a nice day, and thanks again for the blog.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    Exactly right. The Durants again:

    Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious of superior ability desire freedom; and in the end superior ability has its way.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink
  10. djf,

    I concur with both your and Malcolm’s analysis of the Leftist mindset, such as it is. Both of you, however, have expressed yourselves more eloquently than I have. My problem is that I have much less patience for the Left’s orneriness than either of you two. I think Malcolm’s patience with the OEM (until most recently) has bordered on the saintly. Even the Pope is rumored to have noticed:)

    In any case, I welcome your comments and if you don’t mind, I would like to know your given name so we can exchange our points of view on a first-name basis.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  11. Whitewall says

    DJF, isn’t it interesting that those universities that are so firmly in the grip of the Left, are now so secure and in “safe spaces” that the student body is beginning to turn on each other? A proper SJW today can find himself completely cast out tomorrow over a trivial nothing. Ideological purity is a mean task master.

    On another front, while I don’t do Twitter, I’m reading where its operators are shutting out conservative views especially by prominent conservatives. They don’t sound confident at Twitter, just intolerant. There is no useful conversation to be had with the examples above. We are talking the same language and words, just different belief systems.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink
  12. djf says

    Hi Big Henry, thanks for the kind words. My name’s Dan, if you’d like to call me that. However, I’m not sure how you got the impression I have patience for the Left. I find reading their stuff excruciating and avoid it when I can. What horrifies me is that these sort of views are now mainstream in our society – it is as if we’re being taken over by pod people, as in the old sci-fi film. I no longer have the fortitude to engage in an extended exchange with somebody like OEM, as Malcolm has. Until a few years ago, I used to have exchanges like that with my brother, but, as our discussions became more and more heated, we reached an unspoken consensus to stop.

    I completely agree, Whitewall. I’m relieved that I went to college when I did, more than 30 years ago now.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:08 pm | Permalink
  13. I don’t know how productive it is to characterize these ideologies in the abstract. Particular people hold to their ideals more or less confusedly. The common ground we should look for is not what we both agree on, but what we both ignore. We can proceed when we discover that our disagreement hinges on some proposition neither of us knows to be true, which we can then cooperate to discover. But I also distrust universals. History and the fate of civilization is understood through the universal, but evolves by the particular, and I think it is some whim that will save us or destroy us, not a tendency. That being said, I don’t get as exercised about it as you, either because I’m too complacent or because I’m too much of a fatalist — never really outgrew that high-school existentialism. Anyway, I don’t see the wisdom in struggling against extinction. I always thought the goal of philosophy was to learn how to live in the face of extinction with peace of mind. That peace of mind I do not know yet, and certainly if my well-being were threatened, I would become wild, but as it is, my well-being is only threatened by this constant fear and curiosity that we are always indulging in. Anyway, I hope I don’t suffer under your new comment policy. One thing I have appreciated about your site is that you always have received disagreement and even distraction with good humor, unlike some others who take digression and a little ignoratio elenchis almost as an affront.

    Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:49 pm | Permalink
  14. Malcolm says

    Alex,

    The common ground we should look for is not what we both agree on, but what we both ignore.

    I like that. I’m sure we can find plenty of things we can both productively ignore, starting with nearly all of popular culture. We might not make much progress philosophically or ideologically, but God, what a relief.

    I don’t see the wisdom in struggling against extinction. I always thought the goal of philosophy was to learn how to live in the face of extinction with peace of mind.

    “I reject this false choice.” – Barack H. Obama

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 12:50 am | Permalink
  15. I’m not sure how you got the impression I have patience for the Left. I find reading their stuff excruciating and avoid it when I can.

    Hi, Dan. I couldn’t be sure if to attribute your lesser (than my own) expression of aggravation with the Left was due to greater (than my own) patience for them or to your decision to avoid them. So I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt:)

    I, too, find reading their stuff excruciating, but I usually find it difficult not to condemn it vigorously. Sometimes too vigorously, perhaps …

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink
  16. “I reject 0bama’s false hopey-dopey.” — C’est Moi

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:49 am | Permalink
  17. BTW, Dan, your anecdote about your heated exchanges with your brother reminds me of the American Civil War, when brothers fought on opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon line of scrimmage.

    That’s right JK, I’m that old. But not quite as old as Robert alleges. I really wasn’t around during the last ice age, Robert.

    Which, in turn, reminds me that there was a time when one’s advancing age garnered one a little respect. Which is why I cling to tradition though it doesn’t seem to matter to younger folk.

    But I digress … (It’s an age-related phenomenon I am told). I’ll stop now. Now where did I put my glass of Pinot Noir?

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 2:49 am | Permalink
  18. One last thing before I retire for the night. It’s just past midnight here on the Left coast, and so I can report that I have dodged another year’s worth of left-handed bullets.

    Buenas noches amigos, muchachos, and much nachos.

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:15 am | Permalink
  19. Whitewall says

    “I don’t see the wisdom in struggling against extinction. I always thought the goal of philosophy was to learn how to live in the face of extinction with peace of mind.” Well, we can always adopt the current European model seen in Germany, Sweden and Britain, where we just take our traditions and values and slowly erase them in favor of accommodating “immigrants” and others who don’t have to assimilate. Since the New Year’s Eve atrocities against hundreds of women in Cologne, Germany were finally revealed to the public after media outlets and even politicians tried to keep the events covered up, I am sensing a rising anger within the populations against their ruling elites who have brought these “culture enrichers” to Europe. If a backlash is to come, it had better be soon.

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  20. “I always thought the goal of philosophy was to learn how to live in the face of extinction with peace of mind.”

    Interesting goal. Not much learning involved, however, since the long peace is always attained.

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  21. The tone of my creed may be overly fatalistic. Hume said something to the effect that death is inevitable, but we always do what we can to live one more day. Still, I think it comports with the idea that the philosophical thing to do is to try and take the long view. I think there’s something false in every point of view that makes something momentous of our fate. In popular culture, it’s the doomsday scenarios. For liberals, it’s global warming. Perhaps for you, it’s the barbarians at the gates. It’s false because we think that if it weren’t for whatever crisis facing us, we would continue on in prosperity to the end of our days. To me, it’s the in-authenticity Heidegger discussed in Being and Time — we view death either as an abstraction that is somehow overcome or else as something imminent which could, if only it weren’t for our weakness or the stupidity of our opponents, be avoided. The solution I tend towards is that we should be of good cheer. The preservation of the civilization, of the species, is a practical problem, not a moral problem. Perhaps that’s just a variation, Malcolm, on your “enjoying the scenery”. But I would admire someone who could consider his own fate with the same indifference if, perhaps, curiosity as he regarded the fate of a soldier in the Revolutionary War. That’s in the worst case scenario. But as it is, whether someone or other knows our fate, I don’t claim to, and I’m not sure that the serious research that would be required to arrive at an informed opinion, at least in light of subject’s philosophical significance, would be worth the pains. I admit, it’s a bit the viewpoint of the fat merchant. “Would you be so sanguine if someone dropped you in the wilderness with a hatchet and left you to yourself?” But to the extent that we can enjoy plenty, when we have it, we have to do something to quell the persistent agitation to which our nature is prone, and I think beyond the left and the right, what I see in people, and especially political people, is a willingness to indulge this instinct beyond what is rational or necessary. Both the left and the right think the world is in imminent danger — they disagree on the causes. I said in another context and will repeat — for myself, I think mediocrity is invincible. Or at least incorrigible.

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink
  22. Malcolm says

    There is much here that I agree with, Alex, most of all that we should be of good cheer, and, as you eloquently put it, that we should struggle to “quell the persistent agitation to which our natures are prone.” (Regarding the latter, Pascal said that “all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”)

    The wise — from Buddha to Jesus to Aurelius to Gurdjieff, in the good company of countless others — have all tried to teach us that the only thing we can truly be masters of is our inner condition. The three simple lines of Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer” are some of the wisest words ever written:

    God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    Where we differ, I think, is how much weight to give the second line.

    What of duty? You write that “The preservation of the civilization, of the species, is a practical problem, not a moral problem.” That you say this tempts me to ask you if you have children. We are a living bridge between a vanished past and an unknowable future. Our forebears labored and bled to bequeath us a great treasure — for us to enjoy, as you say, with good cheer, but also to cherish, preserve, and improve, as stewards for our children and for generations yet unborn. To me this stewardship, which is the tribute we make in return for the blessings we enjoy, does impose a moral obligation, perhaps the most sacred obligation of all.

    More than that: by shouldering this burden, this duty, we strengthen and refine and perfect our own souls in a way that we never could simply by enjoying the scenery with cool and languid indifference.

    Yes, we may fail at at last. So be it. But your philosophy is far too bloodless for me. Though the darkness may someday fall, it is nevertheless our duty to do what we can, while we can.

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:35 pm | Permalink
  23. — for myself, I think mediocrity is invincible. Or at least incorrigible.

    Alex and Malcolm,

    I like what you both have to say about these very important issues for humanity. Moreover, I do appreciate the manner in which you express your ideas. So I approach your conversation with some trepidation because my knowledge of philosophy is quite meager by comparison with yours.

    Your final remark in the preceding comment, Alex, startled me. My immediate thought when I read it was, “Wouldn’t it be more accurate to consider mediocrity to be a prescription for a self-fulfilling prophesy?” Why would an intelligent and thoughtful human want to settle for mediocrity? Isn’t it human nature to strive for a better life for oneself and for one’s descendants? That has certainly been my own personal experience.

    Posted February 24, 2016 at 11:06 pm | Permalink
  24. You’re very right Malcolm. My views will not rise up above nihilism if I make no room for duty. I don’t think our duty is to survive and prosper, however — perhaps you don’t either. Things were done in the past with the aim of prospering that our the cause of some of our sufferings now. It is striking to me each time I have to teach American history. How much better the world would be, if people had not been so busy scrambling after money then. But it is true that people have to provide for their families. And that gives them an interest in the fate of humanity and a motive to compete. It is only that what is done in the name of preservation is not always right that concerns me. In that connection avoiding death and ill at all costs seems to have its negative aspects too. I can only say that I’m aware of problems in that vicinity, and I am wishy-washy. I think of what the Stoics said about prosperity — that it is an indifferent thing, on the one hand, but that, on the other, virtue consists at aiming at indifferent things in the proper way. Another thing I wonder about (if I am not wandering to new topics) — if we are going to be concerned about these large matters, to whom does this concern fall? In a democracy, one might say that everyone has some part in the world’s concerns — but I do lean your way in thinking this is not reasonable. Different people ought to have their different jobs and concerns: how can everyone do a good job of governing and also supplying society with all the things it needs? So perhaps we have some duty to improve the world for future generations, but I guess I don’t see engaging in ideological warfare as the best way of fulfilling that duty.

    Henry, about mediocrity: I do not think of myself as a conservative in many respects, perhaps partially because of my upbringing and retrograde nature (I don’t have children, Malcolm, as you suspect) — but I do think our products are, on the whole, very imperfect and just serve their purpose: our personal lives, our works, our governments. What makes me tend in a conservative direction — what makes me dislike ambitious proposals for reform, protests, and so forth — is that I don’t think anything we put in place of what we have is likely to be much better. I do think, on the other hand, that things are always capable of improvement. I could even think of it in this way, that civilization is constantly struggling to raise itself up out of its own barbarity. Property, for instance, may rise historically (if it need not conceptually) from unfair appropriations and oppression, but these can, in time and with regulation, with proper use, be corrected for without the perhaps even worse suffering that would result from a radical abolition of all things that were once unjustly acquired. So I feel that many ideas on the left are on the mark. We ought to continue to pull ourselves out of the whole that we dug ourselves into during the colonial expansion, as well as freeing ourselves from the remnants of systems where people at the top have become rich through no doing of their own but simply by finding ways to take advantage of others. I just don’t think a revolution or radical changes are a desirable method of accomplishing this. Of course, it may be that while we set about this course of enlightenment-by-adjustment, a strong wind will come and blow the whole edifice down (as you fear, from the East). I should say, the whole process is difficult, there is no chance of success, and we are left with something less than pleasant, but that is the cost of contenting ourselves to direct our energies at unambitious goals were are relatively assured will succeed.

    I don’t know if all of this is consistent, but it’s the best I can reign together all my sentiments at the moment. Of course, I know I am lazy and at worst somewhat debauched — so the mound I make up of my own thoughts displays the same imperfections as the whole that they describe (at least as they describe it).

    Posted February 25, 2016 at 12:20 am | Permalink
  25. One proviso — when I say the goals of the left are on the mark, I mean that insofar as they are or at least reflect the perhaps vanishing inspiration of the ideals of the enlightenment, I can sympathize with them. There are commonplace notions of racism and sexism, as well perhaps as classism (think only of privilege in the feudal sense) according to which most of us should be be glad to see these things pass away. I would say, I mean, we are still pushing in the direction of the enlightenment ideals — we are aware of what an immense ambition it was when the Founders tried to will them into the world — and we respect that ambition. That being said, I didn’t want to take a particular position on how far institutions would need to be changed and in what way to reflect that ambition. And it can’t be very surprising if zealots after a cause create new problems when trying to clear out old ones. That also I wouldn’t presume to be glad about.

    Posted February 25, 2016 at 12:43 am | Permalink
  26. Malcolm says

    Alex, I won’t comment too extensively on your last two offerings here. Again, there is much to agree with. In particular:

    My views will not rise up above nihilism if I make no room for duty.

    Exactly. I have no use for nihilism. How could anyone? On what terms can it even defend itself? Why would it even bother to try?

    In that connection avoiding death and ill at all costs seems to have its negative aspects too.

    At “all costs”? Well yes, of course. The idea of subordinating the personal to the universal is the essence of duty. Without that, what would be the foundation of its virtue?

    Different people ought to have their different jobs and concerns…

    Few would disagree with this in its most general sense, but in a more reactionary understanding this essential idea is also at the heart of the value of organic hierarchy.

    I do think … that things are always capable of improvement.

    As do I. God help us if they aren’t!

    As for the rest, I’ve tried to outline my own views, particularly about the legacy of the Enlightenment and the “poison pill” it contains, elsewhere in these pages, and will keep at it.

    I do thank you for commenting here, Alex.

    Posted February 25, 2016 at 1:04 am | Permalink
  27. Alex,

    I do thank you for responding to my question. To be honest, however, I can not claim to understand most of the details of your response. Nevertheless, I accept that as my own failings and I do not in any way mean to imply that your statements are at fault. As I already mentioned, I am not very well versed in philosophical thought and expression.

    My gut feeling is, however, that your response was somewhat evasive. I do get that over-exuberant proactive “social engineering” policy favored by the Left (in their mistaken belief that the human condition is somehow subject to perfection by the “clever” machinations of the elite) is fraught with dangerous unintended consequences. I do not accept, however, that this can be nor that it should be generalized to a position which does not admit some forms of incremental changes on experimental bases. After all, can we not agree that Western civilization with all its technological and sociological innovations over the millennia have led to vast improvements in the lives of billions of common folk? Sure, it has all been accomplished at the cost of millions of innocent lives, but I wouldn’t be so quick to pin the blame on the innovations themselves.

    There have been some monstrous tyrants involved in those slayings, and, yes, they have accomplished many of their monstrosities via technological advancements. But can we seriously prefer that technology didn’t exist?

    Can you imagine going back to life without computers? Without a polio vaccine? Without the complete eradication of smallpox? Without TV (OK, that’s not a serious consideration)? I can’t.

    Posted February 25, 2016 at 2:26 am | Permalink
  28. Henry,

    I guess what I’m saying is nothing more profound than that the better is the enemy of the good. Even the adequate.

    Posted February 26, 2016 at 1:10 am | Permalink
  29. Ah, yes. But the better is not the enemy of the inadequate. So it all depends on where you draw the line between adequate/inadequate.

    Would you agree, Alex, that one woman’s adequate is another man’s inadequate?

    Posted February 26, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink