Friday, August 05, 2005

A Process of Tidying Up

After that long July hiatus, it is going to take some time to clear the stack of items and observations that accumulated in this "Modernism and Its Enemies" folder. So please bear with me if things seem chaotic or random. I hope in a week or two to get back to cogently coherent mini-essays.

Item: Moderate-conservative expresses worries that should bother any capitalist in the coming era.:

Lest this be seen as a leftist rant, look at some of the other articles that typify The Globalist. This journal is very business oriented and generally rather conservative, in the classic sense. For example, there is an article criticizing labor unions for "beggaring their employers." (A hilarious assertion, given the present state of the labor movement, though at least a comfortingly standard conservative view.) Yet, even the business-savvy writers for The Globalist have become worried that our current leaders are doing a fantastically incompetent job of playing America's hand in the modern world.

deepak2Item: In order to show that The Globalist does have a rightward tilt, let me point out another article. One that takes this tilt to a neocon extreme in order to spew the worst kind of horrific garbage. (Ah, well.) Here's an example of Orwell-speak that is truly monstrous: The Greens Vs. India and China
By Deepak Lal.

I'm going to quote from this fellow in order to show how far the will-to-demonize has gone. Stare in awe at the following two paragraphs, illustrating the kind of world we're entering, wherein what an opponent really believes does not matter an iota. Only the strawman caricature that you want to hate. (The extreme left does this too.)

"Why do the Greens persist with their crusade? The reason is that, like any religion, their beliefs are not based on reason — but on faith. ... Bluntly, they would like to perpetuate the ancient poverty of the great Eurasian civilizations — India and China."

"The various proposals to introduce labor and environmental standards in the WTO and to tie issues of human rights to trade and investment under the rubric of ethical trading are of this ilk. They have neither logic nor ethics on their side. Even if these protectionist attacks are beaten back, they can in the meantime lead to international friction, which could slowly unravel the new liberal international economic order. Moreover, they tend to aggravate the suspicion of many developing countries that the newly emerging globalized economy will lead to a form of cultural imperialism that will undermine their ancient and cherished ways of life."


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Item: And now, for something completely different, here's a modernist endeavor that may give us all a chance to eat meat without guilt. (And can anyone doubt that rising morality will make this an issue even for conservative people, by 2050? Have any of you ever been to a slaughterhouse? Our present moral equilibrium is not the last word! And I say this as a practicing carnivore.)

In a paper in the June 29 issue of Tissue Engineering, a team of scientists, including University of Maryland doctoral student Jason Matheny, propose two new techniques of tissue engineering that may one day lead to affordable production of in vitro - lab grown -- meat for human consumption. It is the first peer-reviewed discussion of the prospects for industrial production of cultured meat.

Actually, here is one more example of where science fiction never gets any credit for prediction. I remember the scene (from "The Space Merchants") Pohl-Kornbluth era, that portrayed a HUGE slap of chicken meat that was steadily grown with nutrients and carved away to feed the nation. It had a name, as I recall. Chicken Little!

Unsurprisingly, the science fictional antecedents go unmentioned by the innovators OR the press. I have seen at least five new discoveries in the last year related to things I spoke of in just one novel, EARTH.

 Greg Bear also complains of advances in biology that he predicted in his novel, DARWIN's CHILDREN. Ah, well.

Enough for today. Thrive & endure.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call Deepak Lal a neocon.

He's of a group I hesitantly label Strident Indian Economists.

These fellows are becoming increasingly influential and vocal. As free marketeers and economic libertarians go, they put the home grown (assuming your home is the U.S.) variety to shame.

They appear to be even less tolerant than the the home grown variety of free marketeer to suggestions that maybe, just maybe, that the Invisible Hand can't solve social and environmental problems.

I even more hesitantly suggest that this attitude may come in part from the unavoidable fact that India still has a de facto caste system, and that most of the nation's economic and intellectual movers and shakers are Brahmins.

Seth said...

Concerning Deepak Lal...

There is a certain credence that can be lent to the notion that the actions of the left wing are not beneficial to the poor in all cases where they are advertised to be.

For example, it is the case that the working poor are the group most injured by the social security system. And yet, the left wing stridently opposes all reform of this regressive system which robs ordinary poor americans of the ability to become wealthy through aggregation of their lifetime earnings. This is not, by the way, an endorsement of the Bush plan, merely an observation that millions of americans have as their only retirement plan a government enforced pyramid scheme that pays a negative return on investment, and that the democrats seem to be quite content with this state of affairs.

Point being, that whether the specific case calls for the conclusion, the idea that the power structure of the left wing wishes to perpetuate poverty is not baseless or ridiculous per se. It is in line with observable reality.

Mabus said...

I really can't say that that first article looked particularly leftist. In terms of foreign policy, maybe. But it blamed the state of our debt on spending for individual benefits, which sounds fairly right-wing. (So I suspect the proper description is none of the above and that it's better measured by the multiple-axis scale.)

cryptochrome said...

About the meat thing...

I'm reminded of John Varley's work. Specifically, in the Ophiuchi Hotline, where meat grew on trees. A peelable banana-like fruit with a single muscle inside would make sense, aside from the issue of it being difficult for a plant to support the very high protein and fat concentration of meat. Anyway, the interesting part about all this, and presumably the article, is that you aren't limited to just the usual meats. You could grow, say, human meat. Even your own. Puts an interesting spin on it.

Ryan Somma said...

Thanks for all the great articles and wonderful comments. This site provides me with endless amounts of interesting reading. With the "War on Terror" slogan being dropped, I thought I'd suggest some reading focused on the immenent disputation to reframe the struggles facing America (I apologize for going off-topic). I think there's some wonderful potential for modernists to tilt the debate in their favor.

Peter W. Galbraith's recent article Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic covers the emerging democracy very well (although I'm not entirely convinced about his hypotheses concerning Iraq becoming allies with Iran). The article stresses that we are not merely trying to establish a democracy in Iraq, but a liberal democracy that respects women's rights and religious minorities. If theocratic extremists are elected into power, then all our work there has been for nought.

George Lakoff has an article speculating on how the Administration will attempt to reframe the debate. I found it cautionary, but not hopless.

Silly Old Bear said...

I used to work in a chicken plant!

And yeah, we've had protesters who were worried about the poor chickens being mistreated (they usually weren't, but when you have people that you pay minimum wage operating fancy machinery, sometimes things went wrong)

I find many people express some form of the opinion "I want a little distance from the food chain." If we all had to catch, kill and clean our own meat, I imagine our health as a nation would be much, much better.

Silly Old Bear said...

Also -- about hotlinks vs text?

A real browser will take care of that for the reader...