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Archive for September, 2010

Enter Stage Right, Take Two

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Another Chicago Boyz colleague, James Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge, had a feature article in National Review, which is now available online:

The Great U-Turn

Admirers and detractors of the United States agree on one point: This country is unusually resistant to the social consensus and set of structures broadly known as “social democracy” or “progressivism.” (Social democracy leans more toward state ownership, progressivism toward state regulation.) Various versions of such schemes have prevailed in Western Europe and Japan, and to a lesser degree in Britain, Canada, and Australia. The characteristics include a wider scope and role for the state, centralization of decision-making in a national bureaucracy, monopolization of power by a set of large institutions, including state-champion corporations and labor unions, and a wide variety of social entitlements for all citizens. This was the classic progressive economic program; since the 1960s, it has also included certain social characteristics, such as official multiculturalism.

Most of these measures were characteristic of some parts of Continental Western Europe from the late 19th century onward, and became generally prevalent there after the Second World War. The English-speaking countries lagged well behind; Britain began to adopt welfarist policies and admit labor unions to the domestic power system before the First World War, but moved to full entitlement systems and substantial state control of the economy only after 1945. Australia and New Zealand adopted entitlement systems early, using their agricultural and mineral export earnings as petro-states now use oil wealth, but remained socially conservative in many other ways. Canada was essentially similar to the U.S. in its domestic systems (despite some greater public ownership, mostly in transportation) until the 1960s. But by the end of the 1970s, America stood virtually alone in a world of seemingly universal consensus for a strong managerial state.

….America had gone some distance down this road by 1980, although not as far as Canada or Britain, and nowhere near as far as Germany or France, which had never been all that laissez-faire in the first place. But 1980 marked the point at which the nation reversed course. Thenceforth it would be headed in the opposite direction, toward a new vision of individualism and decentralism, driven by the computer rather than the plow….

Read the rest here.

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Enter Stage Right

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Good friend and co-author Michael Lotus, a.k.a. “Lexington Green has a feature article as he debuts at The RIGHTNETWORK. Congrats Mike!

The Insurgency

Mass political movements often begin with a single, striking event. The Insurgency began in the fall of 2008, when President Bush, Senator Obama, and Senator McCain appeared together to endorse the TARP bailout.  At that moment the lights came on for many Americans. It was glaringly obvious that both political parties jointly operated the system, and the system existed to protect the well connected at the expense of everyone else. The public opposed the TARP bailouts; the banks got their money anyway. The Insurgency, long brewing, began.

The Insurgency is a movement of citizens directed against unsustainable government taxation and regulation, and spending, both of which benefit insiders rather than ordinary people. The target of the Insurgency is a leviathan in Washington, D.C. that will ruin us all if it is not dismantled. 

The Insurgency is part of a long tradition of mass political movements in our history. It has the potential to make a fundamental change in American life-for the better.

….2.  What is the Insurgency? Why now?

For now the Tea Party movement, ignited by Rick Santelli’s “Rant Heard Round the World,” is the dominant component of the Insurgency; Glenn Beck‘s gathering of hundreds of thousands of people in Washington, D.C. is another, overlapping one. The people who have gathered around Governor Sarah Palin form yet another part of the Insurgency, as do the libertarian-minded citizens who read blogs like Instapundit. Many of Rush Limbaugh‘s, Sean Hannity‘s, and Mark Levin‘s listeners are part of it. Various long-established conservative groups that have always opposed big government are now parts of the Insurgency.

There are appear to be three factors that have caused the rise of the Insurgency now, and the particular form it is taking: 1) technology, 2) a new, heightened awareness of the problem, and 3) the shock of the current crisis.

First, new technology allows massive, decentralized and horizontal organizations to form quickly. The Tea Party is the best current example: There is coordination, but no central direction. There is no one in charge, giving orders, but rather many people and groups cooperating. This is only possible due to current technology. 

“[Technology] enabled the Insurgency,

but it did not cause it.”

Technology, however, cannot by itself explain the rise of the Insurgency. After all, the political Left actually pioneered in this area: MoveOn was a highly effective internet-based organization, for example. It does seem odd, in retrospect, that a tech-savvy Left would cast its lot with a top-down, government-centric political culture. And there may be some overarching affinity between libertarian-style thinking and the new technology. But that technology is ultimately neutral. It enabled the Insurgency, but it did not cause it.

Read the rest here.

UPDATED:

Michael has published the second part of his essay: 

The Insurgency, Part II

….Mass political movements have come along several times in American history.  Some have transformed the country, and others have fizzled out. 

The movement that elected Andrew Jackson, against the vicious opposition of the existing establishment, swept through all levels of American government, rewriting state constitutions and extending the franchise to all adult White males. Jacksonian democracy caused a permanent and irreversible change in American life.  

The Populist movement looked like it would have a similar impact.  Led by the charismatic outsider William Jennings Bryan, this movement held gigantic rallies and seemed like a revolution in the making. It provoked fear and a hostile response from the establishment of its day, in both political parties. Yet the Populists ultimately failed to make a significant impact on national policy, and were absorbed into the Democratic Party. 

Today’s Insurgency could go either way. Success is not inevitable. 

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A Brief Word From the MSM

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

For reasons that are obscure to me, a staffer at CBS named Jen felt it was important that I share this embed of Lara Logan recounting the risks of reporting recently in Afghanistan. There’s also a camera guy named Ray who is a Vietnam veteran and a former Marine who is kind of an interesting character in his own right. Since a number of ZP readers are either there now, have been to or are going to Afghanistan soon or are Marines or are veterans of the war in Vietnam – this might possibly be of some interest to them.

And with that, here you go, Jen.

UPDATE:

Heh. This video is best viewed in iE and not Chrome or some other browser.

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Tinkering our Way to the Singularity

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Artificial savants? Savant augmentation? The path to mentats?

Imagine the effects of  fine-tuning this crude stimulation with precision, then additionally doing “x”so as to amplify the remaining abilities, not simply suppress the contraindicative cognitive process.

Now imagine the potential effects of doing it on a systemic, societal, basis for a generation or two.

Hat tip to The Eide Neurolearning Blog.

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Visualizing Strategy

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

warstrategy2.jpg

Is it right? Horribly wrong? Missing variables?

Fire away in comments.

ADDENDUM:

Joseph Fouche offers up his graph of schools of strategy at The Committee of Public Safety. Note that unlike me, he has placed them in terms of “Influence…..Coercion…Violence”:

Dr. Chet Richards, in his turn, kindly drew my attention back to graph he created -if memory serves – around the time he wrote Neither Shall the Sword, but I am still trying to figure out how to convert the file to something I can post here. Until I do, go to slide 89 in the link below:
4GW and Grand Strategy

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