Friday, June 27, 2014

Viral Video - for those who like ideas

In this golden era of public speaking, all those viral presentations range from enlightening (e.g. the best TED talks) to absurd flim-flam (e.g. the worst TED talks)… all the way to the hilariously on-target Onion Talks. I’ve certainly been kept busy in this new century, giving “chatauqua” blather that — I suppose — spans that entire range. Now, some of my best recent talks are available, online!

1. Otherness: Will we supply our own new diversity? Suppose we don't meet aliens. Might we satisfy our thirst for "otherness" anyway, by widening the range of who "we" are? The greatest discovery of recent, scientific civilization has been tolerance. Inclusion of all types, races, genders of people as full citizens, contributing fresh perspectives and wisdom. That task of human-expansion is not complete! But already we're discussing the next phases. Incorporating intelligences that are artificial, or human variants, or uplifted animals. What are the dangers and opportunities?


Explore these Big Ideas along with David Brin's assumption-shattering talk at the Smithsonian, in May 2014.

Alas, the editors of this slide-heavy talk chose to focus mostly on my boring face, which may prevent you from making out the clever illustrations. But you can follow along on Slideshare! Just open the window alongside and click along with me. (Some overlays and animations don't play.)

2. “Indignation, Addiction and Hope: Does it help to be “Mad as Hell?” My talk at TEDxUCSD finally offers a public version of this disturbing notion I’ve been discussing for years — that an unseen addiction is destroying our civilization.


Recent science exposes this as a scam that has produced the most disastrously addictive force in civilization…. a veritable plague of sanctimony that is pushed by cynical media, selling fear while poisoning our native ability to negotiate with one-another.
For a generation, we’ve been taught that the best way to deal with any problem - personal or national or worldwide - is to get mad as hell! 

Oh, certainly problems sometimes merit indignation! But are we abandoning our greatest gift – the ability to actually solve problems?

Again, the TED-itors chose to emphasize my boring face. So here are the slides.  (Most multi-layer and animated slides don’t flow; you’ll just have to imagine!) And see links to some other cool videos, below.

== The ideas get even deeper! ==

Closer-To-Truth-David-Brin Robert Kuhn’s television series Closer To Truth “gives you access to the world’s greatest thinkers exploring humanity’s deepest questions. Discover the fundamental issues of existence. Enjoy new ways of thinking. Appreciate diverse views. Witness intense debates. Express your own opinions. Seek your own answers. Get smarter.”  Wow… that’s a pretty hefty promise!  So why not check out this fabulous series, now fully available online!  

I contributed a few bits to the program, on topics ranging from cosmology and SETI to religion to ESP.  My segments - sorted by show episode and category - can be found here. 

But scan the impressive lists of other folks Kuhn interviewed, some of them WAY smarter than me!  Such as David Deutsch, Freeman Dyson and Francisco Ayala. Mind-blowing stuff.  

== What does it take to be “ethical?” ==

Elsewhere, the topic came up… to what extent is it fair to judge men and women of the past by OUR modern moral standards? And to what extent does that set us up for rebuke by much better descendants?

Certainly some who engage in the modern drug high of sanctimony chide their neighbors partly to lower their own "karma" … but also as a kind of aggression. (See my video on this: cited above!)

And yet the world does need to be saved! And we owe much to heroes who stood up -- in days past -- to question the "common wisdom" of their own times, when it came to racism, sexism, classism or environmental neglect.

Salk-Good-ancestorThere is a litmus that I apply to historical figures and I am willing to see it applied to myself.  Yes, they were products of their times — as am I.  Hence, what I ask is "did you try to be at least two standard deviations BETTER than your times?"

Did you try -- and succeed -- to shift the momentum or arc of your times in better directions?  By that metric, Thomas Jefferson gets some added slack and Abraham Lincoln is let completely out of purgatory.  Sure it's self-serving. This standard lets me continue to eat meat, for example, so long it is judicious and sparing and I keep a nagging conscience affecting how I behave as a much-reduced carnivore. And so long as I am part of the movement to keep applying pressure for better empathy and treatment of animals… plus the technological push for tissue culture meaticulture that may take away the ethical conflict with our evolved natures… I don’t feel too guilt-wracked.

Or is that rationalization? Sure, my pisco vegetarian wife has better karma than I do. She’ll live longer, too! I expect I'll reevaluate next year... and the next.

Likewise, I fight for a better world hard enough to know that I am trying and I cannot be judged as not having cared... yet I still fly in airplanes, drive a car.  I’m not in this to lord my virtuous nature over others, nor to win your approval.  I am in it to be (as Jonas Salk demanded) a "good ancestor."

== Other Cool Media ==

The brainiac philosophers at "A Partially Examined Life" have posted both the two hour podcast of our interview and their followup notes. "What’s the point of thinking? David Brin sees the future as a pressing threat, and Existence speculates that the reason we don’t see evidence of life on other planets is that no species survives its technological adolescence. The solution? We need to be smarter than our parents and work to give our kids the tools to be smarter than we are. In the book, the ultimate hope comes from a concerted effort to develop and diversify the coalition of Earth’s intelligent life, to make “humanity” encompass more than just the biological humans that we currently are."

I tried hard to offer my best stuff since these are the alphas who actually did something with their philosophy majors! Maybe I tried too hard to impress em. Did talk a mile a minute, trying to cover a lot?

And now… here are the cliffs of Torrey Pines north of San Diego .  These men release their  hawks, and then soar with them. way cool.

Of Buddies, Offpspring and Artificial Mythology: A stunningly beautiful video/art riff by renowned artist Bob Vanderbob contains this background remark -- "These (are) times of accelerating change, ill-defined angst, collective paralysis , anger and all sorts of regressive behavior. Times that are scary but also full of potential. It is important that we stay calm. One way to do that is to put our lives into perspective. Look at the big picture. That is what mythology does." -- while he presents images that are gorgeously evocative and thought-provoking.

Your Digital AfterLives: Here’s an interesting rumination, by Eric Steinhart, on the notion that we may be living in a simulation. Some subtleties.

== Miscellany ==

overstepping-artifacts Overstepping Artifacts, by Musicians with Guns, is a way-cool video that illustrates another great riff on fractal space. I'd love to use this as a basis for the ever-changing metal corals under the seas of Kithrup, in a Startide Rising flick.

See MyDream: a cool build-your-own universe/world game system recently funded on kickstarter.  It seems compatible with what Sheldon Brown and I have been working on... the Exorarium Project.

Are indoor shopping malls vanishing? No new one has been built in the US since 2006 and maybe half of them might disappear soon. For a generation, they were our town square. By all appearances (especially in the age of video arcades) in may be that GenX was the best of all times to be young and hang out.


Alex Tolley said...

OT but I thought to share this article by Nick Hanauer as it espouses many of the same ideas Dr. Brin has espoused on this blog - inequality, the coming of the pitchforks (tumbrels for the French Revolution), the decline of a healthy middle class, and solution.

looking forward to watching some of those "Closer to the Truth" episodes.

Tim H. said...

We haven't really come to grips with the otherness already around us, LGBT, folks who grew up in different cultures, those possessed of whack-a-loon concepts of science, economics and politics. We have quite a lot to wrap our heads around as is.

madtom said...

Dr. Brin, I’m being neither pessimistic nor angry when I say that it is largely wasted effort to present the public with rational arguments, or to urge mostly-rational people to eschew the endogenous drug of outrage. I’m realistically applying my understanding of what you just said, “The greatest human talent is delusion”, and trying to get past a delusion that blocks the path to solving the problems that distress us both.

It is a delusion to blame irrationality and intergroup conflict on an addiction to endogenous opioids.

Asking people to use rationality to overcome outrage and other strong emotions is like urging them to debug a very complex and troublesome program when the real faults lie in the OS, the BIOS, and even the hardware.

We are hardwired to form groups, to enjoy intergroup competition, to consciously dehumanize non-members, to take from them what we want, and kill those who resist. That’s the lesson of human history, whether from the Bible or from the textbooks. It is the lesson of our simian cousins, whether from Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey. It is the lesson of the daily news. [Hey, I wrote a graduate psych paper on this once, complete with extensive references, and even got a good grade from a prof who I know really didn’t like the idea. Honest man!]

I’m proud as hell of the fact that so many of us, especially in America, can do so well at overcoming this hardwired tendency. We are generally well toilet-trained also, so it *is* possible to moderate some of our ancient proclivities, even though we are still born with them.

The real problem is that a group of people who knew they could profit hugely thereby (and who have) succeeded in dividing America into warring irrational groups. The fact that the groups look like a Civil War replay probably just reflects the ease of reigniting those smoldering ashes. A convenient resource for those who divide and rule.

The first task is not to promote rationality, way up in the conscious mind, but to deal with the fundamental problem down on its own level. Partisans on both sides need to be shown their mutual similarities (which are numerous and very important), and shown how their common enemy has worked to inflame them against each other for his own profit and to their great harm. THAT is getting to the problem on its own level: BIOS and hardware.

Rather than hate those who oppose us and who seem to have abandoned rationality, we need to rescue both sides from that uncomfortable predicament. They are just as human as we are, as noble, as honest, and as decent. They may be visibly (to us) handicapped by conflicting loyalties, but we only exacerbate the division when we criticize them for valuing some of their cultural heritage more than they value rationality, or for responding emotionally rather than rationally. So do we. [I’m sure you can think of examples!] Both sides persist in holding each other in contempt, and can rationalize their positions; a precondition for violence.

Negotiate, you say? I’ve been a negotiator myself, for my teachers’ union, and my training sure didn’t include showing (or feeling) contempt or anger for the other side as a winning tactic!

I want what you want. To answer your question, I cried when I watched that Mars landing (as close to live and realtime as technology could make it), and saw the folks at JPL jumping up and down and hugging! My people!! My team!! I still get teary remembering it. We need more triumphs like this, as a team, one group.

Moderating the beast in us is the current challenge, and it is clearly lots harder even than going to Mars. I hope we can rise to that occasion. We want the best, not the beast.

sociotard said...

Thank you for the link to the mall "urban decay" pictures.

My first thought was "oh, those poor zombie movies".

My second was "our hangout locations will leave no ruins."

That second one actually gave me pause, because it seems historically relevant. The malls left ruins. The small-town-main-streets left ruins. The acropolis left ruins. The old hangout places all left something until they were built over.

But no one will take semi-tragic photos of BlogSpot when it dies. No teenagers will dare each other to trespass onto these dusty old threads.

I'd thought before about the digital dark age we are leaving our descendants. This is merely one more, rather large example.

Does this make us good ancestors. Baden Powel Might think so. Archaeologists may not.

David Brin said...

madtom, you are eloquent and moving... but also confusing. as there something that you said that - somehow - you expected me to disagree with?

sociotard said...

I think some of the bits in "Existence" nudge this in to the prediction registry:

Will the World Wide Web Balkanize into the Splinternet?

madtom said...

Dr. Brin, I now know that you and I are very much in agreement at a conscious level. I loved the economic ideas you linked for me. I am also a committed techno-optimist, though I hope that's not just wishful thinking.

In my first comment I refrained from quoting some of your words from yesterday back at you, because I know how annoying that can be, and the last thing I want to do is annoy you.

But you quite specifically said "Appeals to reason will not do much good except nibbling away at the edges of a noxious insanity."

Absolutely! My point exactly.

Yet your 20-minute TEDx talk was purely an appeal for reason to trump emotion, with minor nods to the already shared group values of the audience. When people's actions contradict their words, there is often a problem that involves emotions that are difficult to deal with.

IMO real progress requires (1) attacking the common perception that America is naturally divided into two (at least) irreconcilable hate groups, and (2) promoting the unity that would result from the emotional recognition that those who have fostered and inflamed this division are our common enemies, very real enemies who are damaging the 99.9% and perhaps destroying the America we love, for their own selfish ends.

It may help a bit to talk rationally to our side, but the heart trumps rationality every time. Which is why I mentioned the late Joe Bageant's writings.

Bageant made clear - in language that clearly places him on our side - that those we love to scorn are victims. They may be exasperating to us, but he loved them because they were his family - literally. He communicated this well, so we can feel it.

They may now hate us, and contribute to their own victimization, but only because they find more human warmth (and, yes, togetherness in outrage) in each other's company. But they are just the foot soldiers of our real enemy, who have been emotionwashed by propaganda. We have cooperated in this by ridiculing their culture and beliefs, confirming that we are their enemies.

One of many old song lines holding surprising wisdom says "First you save yourself, then you save the world".

With our current attitudes and approach, we can't expect anything but continued negative responses from the 'old confederates', regardless of any logic. And I see a lot to admire in their values. I think they stand as strongly as we do for honor, nobility, honesty and decency, and that our very real differences are minor compared with our overwhelming common interests.

Those who have inflamed the emotions generated by some natural cultural differences have used the powerful tactic of associating the 'evil' of our side with rationality, providing their troops with armor that really *does* stop our bullets.

We need to stop making the mistake of overemphasizing our *rationality* and allowing ourselves to feel contempt for what we see as their major failing, when it is actually just an equal overemphasis on *group values* on their other side.

When you advocate splitting off their moderates, I think you may see that as a much smaller percentage than I do.

I think it is possible to respectfully, cheerfully and in a friendly way discuss/debate the most contentious issues with any but the most professional and dedicated practitioners of hate speech on their side, because I have done it often enough in the classroom and in rural southwest Oregon.

I think this badly needs doing on a large scale, but I lack your audience and the massive talent you have for illustrating such issues in fiction that truly reaches the heart. Which is why I am writing this now.

Jumper said...

I used to be a moderate anger addict. I am very grateful to have David put it in those terms, because it's been very useful. On the level of discovering a computer problem is caused by an overheating processor rather than a software error. It still overheats but the veil of nonunderstanding is lifted. And one is on the road to the fix.

I also have been thinking about another matter one of the regular commenters mentioned about uplift a while back. It was that it was no favor to uplift dogs and not extend their lifespan.

I was musing about how smart my dog is and it occurred to me that he might be a genius but he only has 5 years of life experience, which is a very relevant component. In some ways he's not that far behind a 5-year-old human. In experience. Which of course makes me wonder about the longer-lived animals we share the planet with. Elephants, gorillas, even turtles. Parrots. They have a lot of experience.

LarryHart said...


I think it is possible to respectfully, cheerfully and in a friendly way discuss/debate the most contentious issues with any but the most professional and dedicated practitioners of hate speech on their side, because I have done it often enough in the classroom and in rural southwest Oregon.

Do you happen to listen to radio host Norman Goldman? I ask because that's the meme he's been pushing for a few years now--that he's not a "liberal" or a "progressive" but a "real American" who has many values in common with those on the other side who also consider themselves real Americans. When a caller comes in with a chip on his shoulder over some right-wing talking point, Norm usually has a long, genteel converstation with the guy and demonstrates that the two of them really do have many shared values in common. As you say, all the but the most dedicated gadflies usually end up on friendly terms (for the dedicated gadflies, Norm usually tells them off in a rant, but everyone has to let off some steam).

Like most radio hosts whose names are not Limbaugh, Beck, or Hannity, Norman Goldman can't be found on many radio stations any more, but he's trying to keep the show going by making it more of an internet-based thing. He charges a minimal fee for podcasts of old shows, but the on-air simulcast (3-6pm Pacific time) is free, as are the archives of the first hour of every show. I strongly recommend it for anyone here, but especially for you, madtom.

LarryHart said...


I also have been thinking about another matter one of the regular commenters mentioned about uplift a while back. It was that it was no favor to uplift dogs and not extend their lifespan.

Likewise, it is no favor to humans to extend their lifespan while reqiring that they spend the extra years working at druge jobs for subsistence wages in that extra time.

locumranch said...

On the last thread, I made the outrageous claim that Gun Control, Globalization, the War on Everything** and Climate Change were intrinsically related arguments and I will tell you why:

They are all Sumptuary arguments that attempt to impose prescriptive restraint on luxury, social choice, individual behavior and personal conduct for the sake of moral and religious IMPROVEMENT and, like Prohibition, such ‘improvements' tend to lead to tyranny despite the noblest of intentions (and/or the better angels of our nature).

And, at the heart of this matter, lies Progressivism, the irrational belief that the act of ‘betterment’ represents an objective, universal, fixed or unquestionable goal (and/or path) inspired by nothing less than divine revelation, allowing the likes of Pinker to declare that humanity is getting ‘better’ as it embraces sheepish passivity.

To put it another way — One Man’s Improvement is Another Man’s Blunder — and I, for one, have no desire to become Another Man’s Sheep, especially if sheepishness means enjoying the Shepard’s Embrace (His ... err ... ‘Love’, as it were) or the comfort of His Larder, nor do I have the desire to allow my children to become ‘Gammas’ in your Brave New World.

So, take your ‘Progress’ and cram it where the ‘sun don’t shine’ because many of us are unwilling to drink your Progressive Kool-Aid. We are, however, willing to discuss appropriate ‘reforms’ — social, technological, economic & political — the difference between ‘reform’ and ‘progress’ being a matter of individual freedom & choice.


Let's add the 'War on' Indignation & Pessimism to the list, shall we?

David Brin said...

madtom said: “Yet your 20-minute TEDx talk was purely an appeal for reason to trump emotion,”

Sorry but you are wrong. It was a blatant appeal to the militant patriotism of optimism, rising up to combat cynicism. I am appealing to the nerds who were bullied on the playground by snarking SOBs who put down every excited belief in problem solving.

It is WAY too late to try to get Americans to see that there aren’t “two sides.” YOU are the dreamy guy trying to appeal to reason, while I am the militant, appealing to the emotions of the moderate-sane wing of America — Blue America — that had to fight down earlier waves of a Confederacy of Dunces.

“those we love to scorn are victims” ?? Really? Sure, as some level. But they keep suckling the teat of Fox and Beck and Limbaugh. Their service to the new plantation owners is as willing as the million poor white southerners who marched off to die bravely for their feudal oppressors. They will not be persuaded by anything… emotion or logic…

… but if we can nibble the smartest 5% off the Fox coalition, then others ill notice “the smart people are leaving.” And the hemorrhage might weaken them enough to break the coalition.

Sorry, but “calm yourself down first” does not work. We must act calm, of course. But ironically, I am mad as hell at the “mad as hell” bullshit. And it is time.

JUMPER… the notion that intelligence may require lots of experience is consistent with how humans did it… with super-extended childhoods. IF it turns out that AIs also need this, it could be the way we get a singularity soft landing, as I portray in EXISTENCE.

anon said...

Sanctimony belongs on that list, too :D

Tony Fisk said...

...and evil smelling budgerigars.

Jumper said...

It is not a "sumptuary law" despite locum's imaginary cohort's victimhoody claims of inalienable rights to crap on my front yard.

Alex Tolley said...

"...the notion that intelligence may require lots of experience is consistent with how humans did it… with super-extended childhoods. IF it turns out that AIs also need this, it could be the way we get a singularity soft landing"

Supporting evidence for that claim:
New research shows robots can learn quite a bit when fed a lot of data

Jumper said...

One of the smartest programs I have encountered was Pandora's for finding music it deemed I'd like. After I spent more time tweaking it than I think other users have. But they started with a big database created "by hand" with many fields of determined values such as tempo, key, instruments, etc.

Paul451 said...

Re: "Sumptuary laws"

I can see making an analogy between traditional sumptuary laws and the philosophy of some green groups, and hence with their preferred response to climate change. But it is idiocy to suggest that the motivations of the science of climate change itself is in any way analogous to sumptuary laws.

Likewise, few gun control advocates are pushing for restrictions on weapon availability for reasons of morality or class. (Well, beyond the "morality" that "shooting people is bad".)

But it's when you get to globalisation that we can see you are just mindlessly throwing things into a bucket and preening over your "cleverness". For a cynic, for someone who thinks he is seeing through other people's bullshit, you sure aren't very questioning about the "clever" neo-reo rhetoric you regurgitate. Globalisation is the complete opposite of any traditional sumptuary laws, which were usually intended to protect the domestic wealth against excess importation, or to mark "us" as separate from "them". Opposition to imports and offshoring might be seen as analogous to sumptuary laws, but those advocating for globalisation are usually opposing legacy sumptuary rules (import tariffs or any us-versus-them local protection laws). And indeed, the anti-globalisation efforts of fringe green and western socialist groups syncs up with their sumptuary response to climate change.

Likewise, while prohibition (war on drugs) is clearly sumptuary, once you get beyond simple public health recommendations and into banning drugs/alcohol; "war on poverty" is clearly anti-sumptuary, like public education and other raise-all-boats policies. Indeed, the progressive movement in general is anti-sumptuary, being about making available to everyone the things previously held only to the privileged or ruling classes, completely the opposite of restricting certain forms of consumption or display to selected classes.

locumranch said...

You've bought a bill of goods if you believe 'globalization' (aka 'the global redistribution of wealth') is universally beneficial. It is NOT. It is the tool of the oligarchic putsch. Globalization has practically destroyed David's diamond-shaped society through a combination of outsourcing & union-busting, reducing the Western Middle Class to a virtual state of penury. And the same goes for climate change being universally ‘evil’.

Not limited to mere 'displays of wealth,' Sumptuary Laws concern themselves with the possession, allocation and creation of wealth & its resources often in an effort to achieve an arbitrarily determined moral, religious, good or godly outcome (or order) even when that desired outcome flies in the face of empiric observation, leading to any number of ill-conceived crusades set on making the world a better place:

Anyone still in favor of making the Middle East safe for democracy, civilizing the Savage or purifying the Race??

This is the problem with Progressivism: It confuses ‘preference’ with ideality; it ignores conflicting or contradictory data; and it insists that the desired outcome (a fairy story) will come true only if you BELIEVE, possess OPTIMISM or Clap Your Hands.

Loved David's open letter on Addiction, btw, as any 'cure' for indignation, self-righteousness and sanctimony could only lead to an ideal society where conflict is unknown, will-less automatons march in perfect unison and toothless lions mate with toothsome lambs. Indeed, it will be the Prophet's Paradise to Come, a progressive wonderland & a veritable Hell-on-Earth.


David Brin said...

Does locum ever NOT Strawman?

"You've bought a bill of goods if you believe 'globalization' (aka 'the global redistribution of wealth') is universally beneficial. "

Um... find me ONE person on this list... or even anywhere on the planet... who called it universally beneficial.

Without question, one third of the world's population is less-poor than they would have been without global trade. Their kids are in school and they live in homes with water and electricity....

...though the places may be hovels by our standards and while the parents often work in very bad conditions. And western activists are right to go savagely after every injustice and every western company that does not send inspectors to factories and that tolerates sweatshops. Sure! It's a battle!

But those workers voted with their feet... as worker did when they left the grinding poverty of the English countryside farms to go to 18th century factories and work under brutal conditions . Why? We do they always come to town in droves?

I haven't time to tutor locum on hoe TEXTILE mills have always been the front wave of this process... and when the textile mills start to unionize they move on to cheaper labor, leaving a workforce that is ready for assembly plants which - though brutal - are better... then replaced by real factories, which often have unions....

SO, if you want to yell "the fruits are unevenly distributed!" I am with you brother. If you want to send union organizers? Right on man! Want to boycott US stores and companies that don't send inspectors? Sure! Pass inspection laws requiring it? Yep!

Shut down the engine that is lifting 2 billion people out of poverty, letting them send their kids to school? No way.

David Brin said...

As for the Strawman that the only cure for raving sanctimony addiction would be to neuter and lobotomize humanity? Best Strawman yet!

Ah, but since that has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I said, one can only shake one's head.

It's like telling a grossly obese person: "If you cut down the calories at all, it means becoming a skeleton and starving to death!

What a personality test.

David Brin said...


madtom said...

LarryHart - many thanks for your pointer to Rays of hope are all too few. I'm way beyond reach of his radio waves, but I'll be following him on the web.

madtom said...

Dr. Brin, you *may* be right when you say “It is WAY too late to try to get Americans to see that there aren’t “two sides.””

But it disturbs me, because those are fighting words like “Okay, buster, that’s IT!”

If YOU are at that point, then I fear that the breaking point that I hear so much speculation about must be close.

And aside from the pain and personal tragedy that mass conflict always entails, this particular conflict will destroy the human and physical resources that could have taken us back to Mars and beyond. We may be about to use our last strength against each other, breaking our collective power rather than breaking that glass ceiling.

And when you say “YOU are the dreamy guy trying to appeal to reason” you are right. But it is *your* reason I’m appealing to, not theirs. I’m hoping – dreaming if you like – that we can use our brains to model this problem with sufficient clarity that we can find a better way through it than the same old way that nature has always used to determine who will survive.

My mental model of our predicament includes our own inner workings, as your writings make clear that yours also does. And I fear that you were wrong to play the militant, “appealing to the emotions of the moderate-sane wing of America” and “appealing to the nerds who were bullied on the playground” to get them fired up against the “confederacy of dunces” who are the adults their tormentors grew up to be. Those human patterns are real, but they are not the strong and functional social entities currently playing the power game.

Getting people fired up emotionally is exactly what our worst enemies have worked so long and well to achieve. It is a masterful tactic to say “Let’s you and him fight”, pick their pockets while they do, then dominate the battered combatants.

Consider what a recent President has achieved financially for the violence profiteers, and the increase in the power of government over the people that was simultaneously gained. He used lies to get Americans fired up emotionally, and then used America’s power to destabilize a region where centuries-old hatreds were locked in relative stasis and held to moderate levels of expression. It is so much easier to do that than to constructively bring people together, because it has been THE way to succeed through our entire animal history. I purely hate to see these tactics being used on Americans at home.

If we cannot use our brains to meet nature’s survival challenge in a qualitatively different way than the lower animals, we will deserve to join the other silent worlds. Apparently that is by far the likeliest outcome.

But quite selfishly, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life mourning for the America and the achievements that might have been.

Paul451 said...

"You've bought a bill of goods if you believe 'globalization' (aka 'the global redistribution of wealth') is universally beneficial."

Which is why I didn't say anything like that. Instead, I merely pointed out that in your I'm-so-clever attempt to use sumptuary laws as an analogy for all that is wrong with "Progressivism", you were actually arguing the opposite of what you claimed.

Globalism is opposed to sumptuary laws. Green-socialist groups are anti-industrial and therefore want something analogous to sumptuary laws. Progressives generally want to make the benefits available to the upper class available to all, which is anti-sumptuary, but many progressives are against unlimited globalisation because they see it as a downward pressure on society rather than upward opportunity.

By trying to throw everything you don't like into a single bucket and call it "progressive", and then to be oh-so-clever with your sumptuous analogies, you manages to miss the mark by several AU.