Open Thread

Here is the basic idea of an open thread. This is where a comment, idea, link, or whatever can be posted when it doesn’t necessarily fit the subject matter of any available post. This also can be where people can lodge their complaints or make suggestions, including possibilities for future posts.

Plus, this would be a good place for rants, as I’ll be less discerning in my moderation of comments here. I encourage open discussion. But there are limits. If your comment creates a negative atmosphere or simply lessens my happiness, then it will not be approved. I will use my discretion. Make sure your comment is worthy of your time and my own.

10,551 thoughts on “Open Thread

    • I only skimmed it. But I didn’t notice any discussion of inequality and segregation. There was the point that cooperation was more likely when there is certainty. That seems intuitively obvious. I’d add that inequality and segregation increase uncertainty, in the way they increase instability and mistrust.

  1. “I may be obsessed, or suffering from anthropocentric illusions, but I cannot escape the feeling that the human mind and human curiosity are significant in this world—even perhaps in the cosmos of geological time and intergalactic space.”

    —Harlow Shapley, in an address reprinted in The American Scholar


    We are no longer “on the verge” of mind-reading technologies. We have them. We need not worry if they will be used in devious ways. They have. It is not only the government we need fear. It is private companies too. This became clear in the extended fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a firm harvested Facebook data to target users with personalised political ads based on their psychological profile. […]

    The law saw this coming. “Advances in the psychic and related sciences,” suggested US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandies in 1928, “may bring means of exploring unexpressed beliefs, thoughts and emotions.” On paper, at least, human rights law polices the borders of our mind. Besides the right to privacy, as per Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we have an absolute right to freedom of thought, which includes the right to keep our thoughts private. This right desperately needs developing in relation to technological advances.

    The right to freedom of thought also prevents others from either manipulating our thoughts or punishing us for them. Again, we will need to consider this law in relation to contemporary developments. The proposed social credit system in China could lead to punishment for thoughtcrime. Knowing our thoughts also opens us up to both more effective commercial and political manipulation.

    We are not powerless to stop non-consensual incursions into our inner world. But, we need to establish how law is going to operate in an era in which machines make us increasingly transparent. This is a matter of urgency. “Carefully guard your thoughts”, runs one translation of Proverbs 4:23, “because they are the source of true life”.


    “Corporations are People. So What if People Were Corporations?” article published by Catherine Rampell
    “Turns out corporations enjoy tons of rights and privileges that biological beings should be salivating over…

    “The most obvious place to start is taxes. Companies save billions from loopholes that don’t apply to individuals — yet…

    “If people were treated like corporations, perhaps we’d be able to ’merge’ with whomever we want without worrying about restrictive marriage laws…We could also choose to abide by the family law in whichever state we like best, regardless of where we live. Companies, after all, can incorporate in the jurisdiction with the most favorable corporate governance laws, regardless of where they operate,…That’s one reason Delaware is home to more businesses than people.

    “But the best perk of being treated like an incorporeal corporation?

    “Even if you killed someone, stole a house, funded a genocidal regime or terrorized the global economy, you wouldn’t go to jail. At worst, you’d pay a fine. Sure, you could be executed for your crimes — sort of — by having your charter revoked or by being driven to bankruptcy by onerous penalties, but you could always return from the dead with a different name but much of the same DNA. To err is human; to err and bounce back unscathed, you really need to be a company.”


    “The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history. With a country so rich in natural resources, talent, and labor power the system can afford to distribute just enough wealth to just enough people to limit discontent to a troublesome minority. It is a country so powerful, so big, so pleasing to so many of its citizens that it can afford to give freedom of dissent to the small number who are not pleased. There is no system of control with more openings, apertures, leeways, flexibilities, rewards for the chosen, winning tickets in lotteries. There is none that disperses its controls more complexly through the voting system, the work situation, the church, the family, the school, the mass media–none more successful in mollifying opposition with reforms, isolating people from one another, creating patriotic loyalty.”

    ~ Howard Zinn

  5. A simpler solution and probably an inevitable path is the following. Threaten the ruling elite that they either submit to a fully functioning political, economic, and social democracy or we the public will hang every last one of them from the nearest lamp post or tree or beat them to death in the streets or burn them alive while you sleep in your mansions or give them a fair trial and then publicly execute them or assassinate them one by one. There are many options. It matters little what I or anyone else thinks. If we don’t get democracy soon, that is what will happen or else something worse for all involved.

    “American socialists should look to the left wing of the British Labour Party as a model. Labour has been effectively captured by socialists in the last few years— and it didn’t take a “party within a party” to accomplish this. Rather, the Corbynite wing of the Labour Party consists of a loose network of civil society organizations and labor unions, informally led by a group named Momentum. Given the success of Corbynista movement, it should be even easier for a left-wing coalition to take the reigns of the Democratic Party, which is much more open and porous than Labour has ever been.

    “As I discussed in a previous post, the reason the Democratic Party hasn’t been captured by a Momentum-like organization yet is that the overall political conditions haven’t been favorable since the 1970’s, when the primary system first opened up. The neoliberal crisis of capitalism, the defection of Southern Dixiecrats to the Republican Party, and an eight year long Reagan presidency shifted the entire political discourse far to the right in ways that we are just beginning to recover from. Today however, working people are hungry for a new kind of politics that truly represents their interests. The conditions are ripe for the Left to capture the Democratic Party. We simply have to recognize that this is in fact our aim, and dedicate resources to achieving it.”

  6. Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that’s only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).


    But Wemple’s offhand reference to “the distributive power” of the Times makes me think that the real motive is staring us right in the face. It’s a form of Authentication by Newspaper. Let’s say that you’re a senior official in the Trump administration who knows that time is running out. You’re afraid to openly defy the president, but you also want to benefit—or at least to survive—after the ship goes down. In the aftermath, everyone will be scrambling to position themselves for some kind of future career, even though the events of the last few years have left most of them irrevocably tainted. By the time it falls apart, it will be too late to claim that you were gravely concerned. But the solution is a stroke of genius. You plant an anonymous piece in the Times, like the founders of Surety publishing its hash value in the classified ads, except that your platform is vastly more prominent. And you place it there precisely so that you can point to it in the future. After Trump is no longer a threat, you can reveal yourself, with full corroboration from the paper of record, to show that you had the best interests of the country in mind all along. You were one of the good ones. The datestamp is right there. That’s your endgame, no matter how much pain it causes in the meantime. It’s brilliant. But it may not work. As nearly everyone has realized by now, the fact that a “steady state” of conservatives is working to minimize the damage of a Trump presidency to achieve “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more” is a scandal in itself. This isn’t proof of life. It’s the opposite.


    Can you imagine this happening in the Republican Party? Think tanks and politicians would all chime in to support this great plan. The RNC would post YouTubes. The con men would send out fundraising appeals. The most intellectually honest of them would just stay quiet. This is because they know it’s not policy that matters to voters, it’s hating the right people—and if Jeff Bezos is on the list, then whatever plan most obviously hurts him is a good one. It sends the right message to your voters, and anyway, it’s not like it’s ever going to go anywhere.

    But Democrats? If it’s lousy policy, they just can’t help themselves. They have to write white papers and appear on TV and explain in excruciating detail why stopping Bezos is a bad idea. So the voters never hear about it, Bernie is pissed, and once again the most interesting idea Democrats have is to expand the EITC in some obscure way.

    Which is probably great, although Democrats tend to carry this idea to extremes sometimes. But if you’re going to be a Democrat, it’s just part of the deal. The Democratic wonk class really, really cares about policy that actually works and actually helps people in a tolerably efficient way. They demand to know where the funding is going to come from, even though they know this is a lose-lose proposition. Basically, if you’re a Democrat, you have to accept that there’s a limit to how dumb an idea the party will support. If this doesn’t work for you, you’ll have to join the GOP. They have no such restraints.

    • Brandon Keller painedumonde • 13 hours ago
      I get that a substantial portion of the Democratic party has turned Bernie bashing into their new kink, but since when did mildly disagreeing with criticism mean you can’t handle criticism? Accusations of demagoguery? More like histrionics from the people who ignore all the available evidence so they can continue to blame him for the election loss.

      God forbid you actually offer your own idea to address the problem. You’re too cool for that. Just harp on the people trying to come up with solutions for why they’re not perfect (in your mind, based on your assumptions of how it would play out).

      böserEisBear • 18 hours ago
      “…Baker told HuffPost last week. When you create an economic policy, you want to make sure it’s a good, effective idea, he said….”

      Then you go out and lose the next election, because working people want tuna that tastes good – not tunas with good taste.

      clawback • 17 hours ago
      Liberals should have just gone all in for Bernie’s plan, then when the Republicans scream, tell them OK OK fine we’ll settle for raising the minimum wage to $15. This is pretty basic strategy stuff. Instead they attack Bernie while the Republicans laugh at the whole bunch.

      dean barbour • 18 hours ago
      There’s no denying that companies like Amazon and WalMart pay their workers shit wages they can’t live on, nor is it credible to believe that they don’t understand that their employees will have to make up the difference at the expense of the taxpayers. It all smacks of the “Babylon Vampires, suckin’ the blood of the sufferers.”

      So if not Uncle Bernie’s tax plan to punish the greedy billionaires, what’s a better idea? It’s fine to call something ham-handed, stupid or any other verbiage you choose to use, but if you’re not going to come up with a workable solution and put in in play, I’m not gonna bitch at The Big Berner for being who he is.

      At least he’s making noise about a problem that’s been going on for decades while the corporate fat cats achieve morbid obesity and politicians on both sides of the aisle make deeply concerned harumphing noises but don’t do dick to change things.


    “A group of industrialists finance a group of gangsters to break trade unionism, to check the threat of socialism, the menace of socialism or the possibility of democracy.”
    —Orson Welles

    People who read the news are probably accustomed to a type of story that keeps making headlines, and it goes like this: someone acting in the name of capital and/or white supremacy engages in an act of violence and is treated with what is relative leniency or understanding, especially compared to people who oppose white supremacy and/or capital. […]

    The reason that coverage of right-wing vigilantism is mostly confined to endless accusations of hypocrisy is that to discuss the why would violate too many injunctions against radical analysis. Just as capitalism is defined by unemployment, boom/bust cycles, and racism, so is it defined by a higher degree of tolerance afforded to extrajudicial reactionary violence. The sanctioning of right-wing vigilantism is inherent to capitalism.

    The state in a capitalist society exists to serve moneyed interests, so private groups likewise acting to serve those same moneyed interests will be afforded leeway, help, and a blind eye far more often than groups challenging those moneyed interests. This remains true even if those conservative interests are acting illegally, abhorrently, or monstrously; and even if those progressive challengers are following the law to the letter and behaving as saints. Since this is built into capitalism, it’s been the case since the transition from feudalism, as Gerald Horne explains:

    “The promiscuous use of mercenaries was a close cousin to the deployment of pirates, buccaneers, and soldiers of fortune, whose bloodthirsty escapades often were the basis of the primitive accumulation of capital itself. One scholar has observed that the concept of “plausible deniability,” which has served imperialism so well in episodes ranging from Watergate to the Iran-Contra scandal, was actually invented by rulers in the early seventeenth century as a spur to mercenarism and piracy: thus, if these bandits obtained the necessary booty—fine—and if they did not or were apprehended, then responsibility for their activity could be denied.”

    For the vast majority of capitalist countries, when popular unrest threatens the status quo too much, the military steps in to impose its will. Since World War II, only the wealthiest countries have managed to maintain parliamentary procedures in the face of major progressive threats. For those market economies that have managed to survive without imposing the indignities of dictatorship, the threat of too much democracy is fought back through an extrajudicial struggle lurking behind the bourgeois framework.

    This covert war usually involves warrantless mass surveillance, domestic covert actions, deployment of the military, and the formation of secret police units. In the United States, this means relationships with drug gangs and the Mafia, secret anti-subversive police units known as “red squads,” and the infamous COINTELPRO. However, one of the most reliable ways that ruling interests have maintained the status quo has been through tolerating, directing, funding, arming, and otherwise empowering private vigilantes. […]

    No amount of pointing out the double-standards or hypocrisy of it all will change the privilege that ruling class emissaries afford fascist vigilantes, since the special relationship is not a mistake or oversight. Malcolm X, who was himself murdered by vigilantes aided and protected by the US government, warned that “you’re wasting your time appealing to the moral conscience of a bankrupt man like Uncle Sam.” Tolerance of vigilantism in defense of the ruling class’ interests will exist as long as capitalism exists, but the good news is that it need not exist forever.

    • We can’t win by playing into right-wing rhetoric of fear. It doesn’t matter how far right Democrats go, that will simply encourage Republicans to go even further right.

      Under the Obama administration, funding for a border wall/fence was approved and he deported more immigrants than any president in history. He did all of this when undocumented immigration was already at a low point in recent history.

      It has nothing to do with immigration. That is simply rhetoric to win elections. But that is the point. The Democratic leadership are right-wingers on immigration. Sure, they have a bit of neoliberalism as well, but it comes with a strong dose of neoconservatism.

    • I’m fairly sure that is true in most places. But yeah, it definitely is true here in Iowa. And I know it’s also true in Indiana.

      Rural areas are losing population. That is a challenge for rural states like Iowa, as there has been a population loss specifically among the younger generations who aren’t returning. Entire regions of Iowa have been left to die quite literally with aging populations. Schools and libraries are closed, downtowns are vacant, and communities become emptied.

      The only demographic moving into rural farming areas is cheap Hispanic labor, some of those hired being undocumented immigrants, which drives wages down even further and so makes living there even less possible for all others. And these Hispanics do so not to own and operate small family farms but mostly to work in meatpacking plants, horrific work with low pay and no benefits or job security.

    • The evidence disagrees. All of the social science research and historical examples prove that authoritarians are always socially conservative, as compared to non-authoritarians. But that isn’t to say all social conservatives are authoritarians, even if social conservatism makes one prone to authoritarianism. How authoritarianism specifically manifests depends on context. And keep in mind, there are also many forms that can be taken by social conservatism.

    • That is what happened in the US. As the right-wing reactionaries gained more power over the past decades, the American public moved further and further left in majority public opinion. The problem is that they went so far left that both parties are now to the right of center and so no one represents most Americans.

  10. Here is an example of a liberal losing her faith. The conclusion she comes to in this post is a conclusion that left-wingers have been saying for centuries.

    Free market ideology was always more of a utopian ideal than an actual practice. There was no where for capitalism to go but toward concentrated wealth and power because that is precisely how it began in forming out of the rubble of feudalism, i.e., privatizing of the commons.

    It’s sadly amusing that liberals finally get a clue but only after its far too late to make a difference. I say that as someone who has spent most of his adult life siding with liberals and often identifying as a liberal. Even now, I can’t help but have sympathy for the liberal cause, as I don’t wish to see it lose.

    Yet somehow I woke up from the spell of narrow, moderate liberalism of the well-intentioned good liberal. And despite not having radical inclinations, I quickly came to the realization that many radicals understood the world far better than most liberals.

    “For most of my life, I was ready to defend capitalism as the best system available, as long as its worst excesses were kept in check by measures that Bateson dismissively describes as “legally slapping the wrists of encroaching authority.” I know now that these norms were far more fragile than I wanted to acknowledge, and it may be too late to recover. “


    Remember the riots in Indonesia? Yeah, that’s ok. Not many people do. I was off the coast for the most of it. Why you might ask? Well, the U.S. Navy patrols the worlds oceans and keeps them clear of pirates and generally tries to make things “safe”. Sometimes they’ll have marines with them. That’s why I was there. I was on a pretty boat called an LSD, which I assume means landing ship deployer or something. I never asked. It had these fancy high powered fan boats that it poops out the back. We load our vehicles on, it deposits us on the beach, and we drive around and be effective as long as we don’t leave the beach and go into the Thai jungle. American supremacy at its finest. So as we sat off the coast of Indonesia, the government of the CIA backed Suharto collapsed. We didn’t lift a finger to help him, or the people rioting overthrow him. It wasn’t until much later that it seemed many of the Indonesian special forces were inciting riots and ethnic violence, particularly rape, against the Mandarin Chinese minority communities.

    Why they were fomenting unrest I have no clue. But the result is that a U.S. backed anti-communist dictator’s government collapsed. But you are probably still wondering, amid all of this, why was I even there? Well, you see, Nike and McDonald’s corporations had some executives in the country that could have possibly needed help getting the fuck out. They didn’t, ultimately, because having your own private jets helps one to very effectively get the fuck out. But that was the reason. Then our staff sergeant came through and yelled at us that we were not there because of Nike and McDonald’s like they had just accidentally announced on the ships audio-visual system. I don’t know what is more pathetic, that they let the cat out of the bag like that, or that they then tried to gas light us about it.


    You’ve lived in a lawless world your entire life.

    Every moment, every second, has been a world without law. What is law? A system of cause and effect that regulates and ensures an individual or a community adhere to the will of the state. If you do this, this will happen. We tell ourselves it makes us safe.

    We also tell ourselves it makes the world fair, that the Law ensures the right thing is done. And if it isn’t? Bad people get punished.

    Of course that’s never the case. Black men get harsher sentences than their white counterparts for the exact same crime. Rich kids can kill people or rape them, and get away with probation.

    So we tell ourselves the law simply isn’t working right. If we just had the right laws and the right enforcers of those laws, and even the right lawmakers surely such blatant injustice would disappear.

    But that’s impossible. It’s never happened, nor will it ever happen, so long as the mental construct we call “law” is interpreted, carried out, and enforced by human beings.

    The whole concept is garbage. Its a made up story that doesn’t exist because at the end of the day the laws don’t mean shit.

    Well, unless of course your poor. Then you’ll discover they become very important as long as they can beat you with them.


    The time for rhetorical reservations is over. Things have to be called by their name to make it possible for a co-ordinated democratic reaction to be initiated, above all in the public services.

    Liberalism was a doctrine derived from the philosophy of Enlightenment, at once political and economic, which aimed at imposing on the state the necessary distance for ensuring respect for liberties and the coming of democratic emancipation. It was the motor for the arrival, and the continuing progress, of Western democracies.

    Neoliberalism is a form of economism in our day that strikes at every moment at every sector of our community. It is a form of extremism.

    Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology.

    I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought.

    The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy.

    The austerity that is demanded by the financial milieu has become a supreme value, replacing politics. Saving money precludes pursuing any other public objective. It is reaching the point where claims are being made that the principle of budgetary orthodoxy should be included in state constitutions. A mockery is being made of the notion of public service.

    The nihilism that results from this makes possible the dismissal of universalism and the most evident humanistic values: solidarity, fraternity, integration and respect for all and for differences.

    There is no place any more even for classical economic theory: work was formerly an element in demand, and to that extent there was respect for workers; international finance has made of it a mere adjustment variable.

    Every totalitarianism starts as distortion of language, as in the novel by George Orwell. Neoliberalism has its Newspeak and strategies of communication that enable it to deform reality. In this spirit, every budgetary cut is represented as an instance of modernization of the sectors concerned. If some of the most deprived are no longer reimbursed for medical expenses and so stop visiting the dentist, this is modernization of social security in action!

    Abstraction predominates in public discussion so as to occlude the implications for human beings.


    There’s no way to come out of this convinced of your own political purity. The thing is, though, that establishing your own political purity isn’t what progressive politics are supposed to be about. As Ms. Marvel says: Good is not a thing you are. It’s a thing you do. This is not about censorship. It never was. It’s about consequences, about drawing a line in the sand. […]

    The idea of the public sphere has always been elitist in practice, if not in principle. The people most likely to lose out are some of the least likely to have been trained in the art of public speaking or to have spent the past decade building a career in the media. They were too busy holding down four jobs, or trying to escape a civil war, or practicing medicine in a different language in a country they fled to with their family, or raising and then mourning their children. These are the people whose voices are truly being silenced, whose place in the lofty theatre of formal political debate is not subject to public discussion because they were never invited in the first place. […]

    Moderate liberalism cherishes the idea of “civility” because it allows it to believe in its own goodness and relevance. To refuse to debate someone is an act of discourtesy. It is rude. It implies that you do not consider that person’s ideas or behavior worthy of basic respect. You would be amazed at the contortions people yank themselves into to avoid being rude, especially to people in positions of authority, or simply people whose faces they’ve seen on the television. Television interviewers have repeatedly failed to hold far-right leaders properly to account because one simply does not call someone a liar and a bigot on a respectable news program.

    I’ve come to think of this as the deference trap. It’s a huge part of why I refuse to formally debate fascists. It is staggeringly clear that formal debate is failing to stop white supremacy. This is not an abstract philosophical issue. White supremacy is here, at the heart of world governments. The discussion about whether free speech can stop fascism is not actually about free speech; it’s a proxy for a rolling identity crisis among the political mainstream. About whether the mechanisms of state power can withstand fascist takeover. About whether good people with good ideas can stop bad ones.

    Which, right now, they cannot. The arguments about what freedom of speech actually means are endlessly reheated because they’re the last piece of real philosophical meat moderate conservatives have in their cupboard. It’s a mistake to think that the far right cares about the free speech debate as anything other than a way of confusing the enemy. The far right doesn’t have a profound philosophy, it has a media strategy.

  15. Humans have created a conundrum for ourselves and there really isn’t a solution that doesn’t involve some kind of mass death in the next few lifetimes. We could buy some time by all living like the Amish (since rich countries and people disproportionately cause climate change and it’s the industrial lifestyle that the world wants to follow in suit that causes it) and yet we can’t sustain our current population with pre-industrial Amish technology because the only reason we humans mushroomed in population is due to industry, the thing that is long-term threatening us existentially :/ There seem to be no current solutions that don’t involve going against liberal democracy in some way. And most answers involve mass death somewhere in the world.

    • Have you considered the same ruling elite in power that is bound and determined to destroy any hope of democracy is also seeking to cause mass death. They know it isn’t sustainable and so they’ve built bunkers. No matter what happens, almost the entire global ruling elite will survive in comfort. As psychopathic as it is, maybe they cynically see mass catastrophe as necessary and they are planning on rebuilding after populations have crashed. I wouldn’t put it past them.

    • That is too simplistic and too conventional. It doesn’t begin to capture how manipulated populations are by ruling elites, both nationally and internationally. A good example of this is Bannon opening an office in UK backed by a lot of money in order to promote BREXIT. He did so as a propaganda project because he believed he could manipulate the American public by first manipulating the British public. That kind of thing happens all the time. We live and breathe propaganda on a daily basis and coming from a thousand sources.


    Why would the fact that British voters prefer EU migrants to non-EU be “striking”? I would find striking if a population of a country prefer migrants from continent other than their own – if we have to use that description! Secondly, the immediate aftermath of Brexit was an increase in hate crimes against EU rather than non-EU migrants, so I am not quite convinced that this research is indicative of what actually is happening.

    • Well, most white Americans who are xenophobic bigots would rather accept white immigrants from another continent than non-white immigrants from their own continent. This is in spite of the fact that they would have more culturally and historically in common with most other North Americans than they would with most Europeans.

    • “But his estrangement from the American elite merely confirms him as normal: the median postwar American voter has always identified as a conservative Democrat.”

      His normalcy was mythical. He was closer to being a normal WASP elite than a normal average American. At least in the last decades of his life, many of his views were to the right of the American public.

    • There is one thing you’ll never hear in mainstream political discourse. Here is how our global power structure operates. As there is socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor, there is internationalism for the rich and nationalism for the poor.

      Plutocratic corporatists move freely around the world with easy access to visas and multiple citizenships, along with having business interests, bank accounts, and homes in numerous countries. They and their businesses move wherever they want to with no patriotic loyalty to any country. Meanwhile, poor people in countries around the world are trapped and pitted against each other in order to drive down wages, stifle labor organizing, and create economic desperation. Then the ruling elite use this fear and anxiety to destroy democracy, establish authoritarianism, and further entrench inequality.

      This is the open secret we aren’t allowed to talk about on any major public forum where others might hear us. Otherwise, the majority that is to the left of the establishment will realize they’re a majority and they’d revolt. That is why there is why the comfortable classes obsess over immigration, culture war issues, and other bullshit. Maintaining this divide and conquer strategy is necessary for social control.

  17. “Whoever can find the means either by his services, his beauty, or his flattery, to render himself useful or agreeable to us, is sure of our affections. As on the other hand, whoever harms or displeases us never fails to excite our anger or hatred. When our own nation is at war with any other, we detest them under the character of cruel, perfidious, unjust and violent: But always esteem ourselves and allies equitable, moderate, and merciful. If the general of our enemies be successful, `tis with difficulty we allow him the figure and character of a man. He is a sorcerer: He has a communication with daemons; as is reported of Oliver Cromwell, and the Duke of Luxembourg: He is bloody-minded, and takes a pleasure in death and destruction. But if the success be on our side, our commander has all the opposite good qualities, and is a pattern of virtue, as well as of courage and conduct. His treachery we call policy: His cruelty is an evil inseparable from war. In short, every one of his faults we either endeavour to extenuate, or dignify it with the name of that virtue, which approaches it.”

    David Hume
    From A Treatise on Human Nature

    • Certainly, it’s not a ghetto. That is because, historically speaking, ghettoes was the act of enforcing segregation. An ethnic enclave, on the other hand, is chosen more or less freely.

      As always, though, assimilation will follow. That is what has happened with every immigrant group in North America. Italians used to be considered brown people. And before them, Palatine Germans were considered brown people. But both have since been assimilated into whiteness.

      The only ethnic enclaves that have survived are those who have intentionally isolated themselves like the Amish.

      • Enclaves have always been hubs for immigrants. Neighborhoods also tend to change very quickly in cities like NYC and LA. The enclave mentioned there will likely be different a generation from now. Certain ethnicities in north America are largely composed of first/second generation, time will tell what the 3+ generations will do. So far it looks like the 3+ generation will be mixed-ethnicity/race moreso than 1/2 gen. A Latin American type of tripartite system is a worry that needs to be watched out for, though.

    • Sure, it can survive, assuming enough people want it to survive. But right now we have two anti-democratic parties in a two-party stranglehold with corporate media as propaganda model. Most Americans have never seen or experienced democracy at any point in their life. They simply don’t know what it is and so don’t feel inspired to fight for it.

    • The first option is what we’ve done up to this point. It is what has caused the rightward shift of the Overton Window for decades. And it is what brought us Trump. More of the same would predictably bring more of the same. But I assume that is exactly what the bipartisan establishment wants, more of the same. In this light, Trump doesn’t represent failure if he helps Democrats to maintain power through fear.

      The second option is what we have yet to try. It’s not surprising that two right-wing parties leads to the empowerment of the right-wing. It matters little if the authoritarian fascist is black or white, wears a suit or a pantsuit. The only way we get democracy is to demand democracy and threaten revolt if you don’t get it immediately. But this article doesn’t quite give us the vision that we need. The supposed alternative option is still framed by right-wing populism in its caricaturing left-wing views on immigration. Few on the left are promoting open borders. Using right-wing talking points is a recipe for failure, inevitably bringing us more of the same.

      Apparently, we have yet to get to the point where enough people are willing to take seriously our situation and how we got here. We are facing an existential crisis as a planetary civilization and as a species. We either choose radicalism to stand up to the demands of the moment or, one way or another, we accept defeat. The second option, as described in this article, is one small step in the right direction but still far away from what is necessary.

      “An alternative and far more interesting approach basically contends that the Left has to wake up to the new reality by fundamentally overhauling its position. Aufstehen in Germany, which translates as ‘Stand Up’ or ‘Rise Up’, is doing this. More of a network than a party, it has opened its arms to the radical Left, social democrats, the Greens and the unaffiliated. It has made public its intention of winning over people who either abandoned the mainstream or came out of apathy to vote for the AfD, which last year polled nearly 13% and took more than 90 seats in the Bundestag1

      “Rise Up is interesting because it not only takes aim at the Left’s traditional targets, such as neoliberal economics, inequality, the erosion of the welfare state and foreign wars, but also ventures into territory that is largely uncharted and uncomfortable for Left-wingers. Some of its leaders, notably Sahra Wagenknecht, argue against open borders and the idea of allowing migrants unlimited access to Germany’s labour market.”

    • That is a better piece.

      The author actually talks about the problems of segregation and the need for desegregation. But he still shows no understanding of what causes it. Segregation was politically and economically enforced for generations. It is not merely the result of where people happened to have chosen to live.

      All aspects of inequality (racial, residential, economic, political, etc) is of the same whole cloth. Segregation is the symptom and inequality is the cause. But those benefiting from inequality, including good liberals, don’t want to seriously talk about fighting inequality.

      Here is what those in the comfortable classes and among the intelligentsia don’t understand. There are only two choices, and not between a greater and lesser evil. Either they support fighting against inequality and fighting for democracy or they submit to right-wing populism and authoritarianism. The Democratic establishment and their corporate media cronies chose the latter because they feared Sanders more than Trump.

      From what I can tell, they still fear Sanders more than Trump. If given another chance, they would double down on attacking the left under the cover of fear-mongering. Actual democratic reform is a step too far. Fascism causes them less fear for fascism would at least be a familiar extension of our present corporatism or inverted totalitarianism.

    • That ignores the fact that ethnicities, especially in the modern world, are largely social constructs. And also ignored is the fact that the most present nation-states are actually either the remnants of old imperial projects or the adjuncts of new imperial projects. This reality is particularly apparent in postcolonial Africa with its ethnicities and borders often invented or else heavily shaped by past imperial rulers.

    • That one also misses the point. We are no longer living in a world of autonomous nation-states. Neoliberalism and climate change has destroyed the nation-state. It no longer exists or rather is the walking dead.

      There are now simply numerous overlapping international and extranational systems of power, from trade agreements to mega-corporations. Countries like Sweden have existed as submissive allies to neo-imperial global projects, no more independent than the people of Iowa are independent of the US government. But if enough local populations attempt to remove themselves from these global systems of power and regain independence, that will be the beginning of World War III.

      Criticisms aside, globalization has to a large degree been a Pax Gaia, an enforced peace that came at great cost to poor brown people but a peace nonetheless at least in terms of conflict between the superpowers. Once that is gone, all bets are off. And I say that as someone who hates imperialism. My only point is that this system of power won’t end without massive bloodshed. And once it does end, it is unlikely to result in the return of the old nation-states.

    • That misses points to the wrong issue. He is from Canada. The US has had low immigration rates for decades, and that is particularly true for undocumented immigration which was tremendously higher in the past when the borders truly were open to migrant workers. As for Canada, they’ve always had low immigration numbers and have been highly selective about who they allow in. Populism is rarely about immigration, even when it makes for good rhetoric.

    • Mainstream liberals, specifically of the professional liberal class, have always been hypocrites. That is nothing new. But articles like that are irritating in their own form of deluded unawareness.

      There is no evidence that diversity is a problem, except with high levels of inequality and segregation. Then again, not just diversity but democracy itself is impossible under those conditions. Instead of blaming the results of bad conditions, maybe we should aspire to changing the bad conditions.

    • We have a long history of systemic racism, specifically in housing. Racial segregation has gone hand in hand with economic segregation. It isn’t only well-off whites escaping poor minority areas but also well-off minorities. But do you know who isn’t escaping? The poor, both minority and white.

  18. I don’t know about the proposed ideas here, but the author makes good points about the problems of nation-states, it being a European invention and how it seems to be a very (understatement) poor fit outside of Europe.

    there’s 54 African countries but hundreds or thousands of nations. How is the nation-state model which is inherently based on “purity” supposed to work for it unless you get hundreds or thousands of countries, which if it happened would have to also involve (forced?) relocation of many to create that kind of “segregated purity.” Concepts like purity and race as we know it are also fairly recent colonial inventions though and “race” as we know it or phenotype being so salient to identity is fairly recent.

    A lot of right-wingers talk about defending the nation-state with a frankly, alt-right undertone but (and poli-sci people make this mistake at least that guy) don’t realize that nation-states are a recent invention and many nations were also recent, forced identities, including in Europe. The formation of nation-states in the 19th and 20th centuries involved suppressing and abolishing many identities (southern France used to be more Occitan in language and identity, etc)

    • Modern European nation-states were created through the genocide of thousands of traditional and native European cultures. The genocide was so complete that most of those cultures have disappeared without a trace.

      Nation-states are always the result of colonial imperialism. Europe was the center of the colonialism of the Roman Empire. And many European empires followed that model in colonizing other European populations (e.g., the British colonizing the Irish).

      Europeans only did to non-Europeans what they first did to each other in Europe.

  19. Cliamte Change throws a new wrench into everything including migration. I notice that many people railing against migration as an existential crises for the West and western identity(really it’s just the world’s problems have reached the west, that’s it), have no clue what to say when it’s brought up that climate change will mean migration will only pick up.

    And it won’t just be from Global South countries. Many parts of the US, Southern Europe, etc are similarly fucked. And many of the areas of the US that will be in trouble, happen to be densely populated areas. We can expect that lower manhattan will become Venice by the end of the century. I watched hurricane barrel info fucking Georgia last week like wtf. GEORGIA. Quite far inland.

    • Most Americans and Europeans have no clue what has been going on and what is on its way. All that most are doing is reacting in a state of fearful ignorance. But it’s hard to blame them as they’ve been indoctrinated their entire lives. Their moral development is stunted at the level of a small child.

    • “We know, from twin studies, that intelligence is at least 50% heritable, so there’s a lot more to find. But still, that’s a big deal. For comparison, the impact of (non-negligent, non-abusive) parenting on IQ is probably essentially zero; the most generous estimates put it at 10%.”

      When someone says something like that, I know they aren’t particularly intelligent or at the very least not well informed.

      Twin research is a prime example of some of the worst research around. As for parenting, it can’t be separated from environmental effects. Parenting in diverse conditions seems to have little effect. But parenting around those of the same culture seems to have a powerful effect.

      For a fraction of what it would cost to do mass gene editing, we could instead invest that wealth and resources into the public good. We could fund high quality education, healthcare, healthy food, clean water, etc for every child.

    • That is amusing. The capitalists who grew rich off of cheap immigrant labor wanted to break any labor organizing that cut into their profits. So, they replaced them with young white kids who with their privilege were better able to labor organize. That ended that experiment.

    • I dated a woman who a few years before had given up her baby for adoption. She wasn’t unhealthy, poor, or in a bad place in her life. She simply didn’t want to be a mother, I guess. She was a nice person and she meant well, hoping her child would have good parents. But it gave me a bad feeling.

      I knew some of the data that shows how common is abuse among adopted children. It’s rare that adoptive parents can ever fully replace biological parents. There is a special bond with birth that can’t easily be replicated, if ever. Adoption should be the absolutely last option, after everything else has been tried in helping the birth family.

    • Another clueless view. I’ve never once heard anyone very far on the American left propose media censorship, either in social media or traditional media. That entire discussion is going on within the mainstream establishment. And what goes for the ‘left’ in the mainstream establishment is to the right of the majority of Americans.

      As for the actual left, we rarely if ever hear about them in media reporting and political debate. So, do assholes like this think that by continuing to give voice to reactionary right-wingers while continuing to silence the political left is somehow going to lead to a positive outcome?

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