As Burke said, "Men have no right to that which is not reasonable." A difficult argument to make in a culture that is ardent about rights, but no so much about responsibilities.That noted, as Adam Smith said, "There is much ruin in a nation." These things come and go. The tumult of the 60s and 70s gave us the relative social peace of the 80s and 90s. The pendulum tends to swing first this way then that, regardless of the technologies. Grant that the technologies may widen the swings and prolong them. To be sure, as social media is a relatively new phenomenon, it is not possible to fully know what impact it may have on the duration of national cultural and political tensions. It also not helping that, at this particular moment in time the country has in two presidential candidates who, their protestations to the contrary nothwithstanding, are content to pour salt into the social wounds.Unlike men like Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan, who worked to calm the social waters, President Trump and former Vice-President Biden are content to resort to vituperation and harsh rhetoric that stokes partisan passions, presumably to their electoral advantage but at the cost of social peace and stability.So then, would banning social media make things less polarized? Perhaps at the margins and to a degree. However, if history is any guide, when such tensions arise they will do so and adapt themselves to the technological context. Thus creating a reinforcing cycle, but arise they will nonetheless.
Eventually stability will return though right? As people become fed up of instability and it’s consequences. Although perhaps a good leader is needed to offer a settlement or at least highlight the instability.
@ayque Your question sounds more like a prayer than a reasoned assessment. That said, yes, in general, the culture grows weary of tumult and upheaval and longs for stability. At that point, things begin to mellow. Thus, the upheavals of the 1960s and 70s led, in due course, to the relative - and it is ALWAYS relative - to the stability and prosperity of the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s. Then, as happened after the relative stability of the 1950s and the aforementioned 80s/90s, the public grows complacent, impatient and bored and the whole cycle begins again. This is in general, there being a whole plethora or other contributing factors at play in any given situation and context. That said, as Lincoln famously said, the only statement that is true always and forever is "This too shall pass." Nothing lasts. Similarly, as Adam Smith said, "There is much ruin in a nation."Bottom line, the pendulum swings back and forth, but imperfect things and institutions created by imperfect and imperfectible beings do not last forever. Progress is NOT foreordained or to be assumed and eventually it all falls down.That said, there is very little to suggest that the nation is at that point yet. Indeed, it being recalled that we have survived a civil war, two world wars, a massive global economic depression, galloping inflation, terrorist attacks and much else besides. Yet we have survived, endured and prospered.Thus, to borrow one more line, "We know not the day or the hour..." Our job is to strive for virtue and reason and continue on.
But we live in an age where people can’t agree on those virtues.
Someone recently said to me that Governments aren’t doing enough to prevent disasters from climate change. I think it is just human nature that people are never happy.
@ayque When has that not ever been? Even in the relative stability of the 1950s there were the Greasers and the Beatnicks and the first stirrings of the modern civil rights movement. (You may recall that Eisenhower called out the National Guard to desegregate the Arkansas public schools.)There is no point in pining for Utopia. Always there is some level of disagreement and dispute. Thus we have democracy to thrash out those questions in the schools, the churches, the town halls, the Congress, the media and a million other venues. Suffice to add that if you want perfect consensus, at least superficially, go to North Korea.Bottom line, even in the most stable times there is some instability and disagreement. Such is the human animal in all his imperfection and imperfectibility. The difference between unstable and stable times being a difference of degree, and not a difference in kind.
It’s more pronounced in unstable times.
@ayque That is so, and was the point of my observations.
@ayque Missed your point on climate change. My apologies.There will always be some disagreements - and in any case there is also a question of the reasonableness of people's expectations. Americans have a bad cultural habit of assuming that every problem has a solution, that the solution is easy to come by with just a little bit of honest error, and will always end well.All wrong. Not every problem has a solution. Some problems are just difficulties that must be managed as best they can be. To add then that no solution will be perfect nor have assured successful outcomes - this being particularly true in things like climate change, where the Earth, suffice to say, has no instruction manual or on/off switch.People need to start with sober and realistic expectations and to set them on the basis of the data to hand. It being inevitable that the data will not always be accurate and may change as more information is acquired.However, in an age and a culture like the current one - or indeed even in more sober times - that can be a lot to ask. Humans are not hard wired like that.
Well with climate change, we already are becoming better at managing it. Many countries globally have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But as im learning from Mr Burke, society is complex and carefully considered reform and change is always better in the long term than a revolution.
@ayque You are mixes apples and oranges a bit. Burke was speaking of the social, cultural and political realms. Typically, the effects of science can be highly disruptive.Indeed, think of the pandemic where society, responding to the imperatives of science, made itself the guinea pigs in a grand social experiment. Science shut the world down and the results are bouncing of the walls and may for decades to come.As far as climate change, there is precious little evidence that man's efforts have made any difference one way or the other. As we cannot be sure to what extent the shutdown inhibited coronavirus, so we can only speculate that the actions we have taken have impacted climate change. We have impacted the economy and the culture, but science can only estimate based on what it knows now what its' recommendations will do to the future. The law of unintended consequences always pertains - and the society that worships science as a god is apt to be too uncritical about what science seems to promise - and far too critical of those who raise doubts suggesting that science, as often as not, does not leave unmixed blessings.
I thought the science on climate change was pretty clear?
@ayque That the climate is changing, there is no doubt. When is it not?However, let us not forget that as late as the 1970s the fear was global cooling. (See also the famous Time magazine story about a new ice age.) The point being that science is not infallible. The odds are that there is global warming. To what extent that is man made and to what extent it is a natural change in the environment, science is reasonably confident. However, my point is that science is not infallible and when we treat science as a religion, infallible and perfect, we lose sight of its' weaknesses and potential for error. (See again the new ice age that we still await. See also the prediction - made famous by former VP Al Gore - that the North Pole would have melted away by now.)Further, once science becomes as god, we fail to be discerning about its' advice and to calculate the cost/benefit trade-offs. Thus the advice of Dr. Fauci, made in the context of the pandemic, to abolish the handshake. Not only to stop the pandemic, but a whole host of other diseases.Great science, but lousy sociology. A habit that has arisen over millions of years to forge bonds of social trust and connection, small as it is. In a time of already fraying social bonds, what does your Burkean readings tell you would be the likely social and cultural effects of such a move? Answer: Not a good idea. Again, great science but wildly oversimple when applied to a complex social creature like man.My point being that science is a tool and not a religion. When we lose sight of that we stop weighing the costs and benefits of what science tells us. Not to mention losing sight of its' potential for error - see also again that new ice age that is now melting away in the heat of global warming.
Yes I agree that man is a complex being and society even more complex. And also that science isn’t infallible. However, there is a consensus within the scientific community that global warming is being accelerated by man. How you manage that is a different matter.
@ayque Well, the consensus is fine. I don't disagree with it, in fact. However, that does not lead to any positive conclusions.Man MAY have started it. Does that mean that he has the capacity to "fix it"? Is the price of doing so proportionate to the investment - see also the decimated and impoverished mining communities in Appalachia or even in parts of Wales. Indeed, see also California, where in their bid to a Green future they neglected the traditional power systems. Now, as if in some Third World country, people sit sweltering in a heat wave in the dark. This also as forest fires are exploding because the infrastructure of the old system was neglected to pay for the new green system which - it turns out - is not yet equal to the task of powering a big state. By the way, did ANY of this measurably slow the warming of the planet - or is it just possible that despite man's best efforts and science that we do not know where the ON/OFF button is on the planet's thermostat?Oh, and once upon a time there was a scientific consensus on global cooling. What happened to that? Is it possible that science, the product of fallible beings who are extrapolating from historical and geological records the reliability of which cannot be objectively verified, got it wrong? (There being nothing outside the Earth's environment to measure it against.)These are the limits of science and however much we may wish to affirm that we have found Truth - with a capital "T" - we must tread cautiously and with a degree of skepticism. Lest we discover that in our haste to embrace the Truths of science, we find a cure that is worse than the disease - or indeed that there is no cure at all.
Broadly agree. However, I don’t think there is anything wrong with making at least some effort to invest in researching greener energy and working towards greener targets, of course doing so carefully and through consensus.
@ayque Yes indeed, and if that was the prudent, sensible Burkean way the culture - and indeed science itself - was treating the problem it would be commendable. That was my point.Instead, the culture, out for quick and easy answers and cost-free perfect conclusions has turned the issue into something just shy of a cult. The practical effects of this again to be seen in Appalachia and California - to cite but two examples. This as we make a fetish of teenaged girls - see also Greta Thunberg, thus begging the question if the adults are raising the children or the children are now raising the adults.No harm done - if indeed, no harm was being done. However, in a society that is begging for easy and quick answers and that cowers under its bed when it should be thinking analytically and cautiously, much harm is being done.
Some of politics is trial and error though. As you say, Not everything has a solution and the establishment although has a lot of knowledge also isn't a concise instruction manual on how to govern.
@ayque Not sure of your point. Of course, politics is trial and error, but not JUST trial and error. The prudent statesman looks ahead and weighs the costs and benefits and the Knowns and Unknowns. He does not drive himself, and the public, into a fit of fear and passion and then throw any old solution at the wall with the promise that it will bring forth Utopia. As Burke said, "In that case, Prudence (in all things a Virtue, in Politicks the first of Virtues) will lead us rather to acquiesce in some qualified plan that does not come up to the full perfection of the abstract Idea, than to push for the more perfect, which cannot be attain'd without tearing to pieces the whole contexture of the commonwealth, and creating an heart-ache in a thousand worthy bosoms. In that case combining the means and end, the less perfect is the more desirable"At any rate, at this point, I am not sure what you are trying to say. Insofar as you were discussing climate change, the issue is the degree to which society has defaulted to "science" as the magic incantation to solve its' problems. This takes no account of either the limits of the society, nor the practical limits of science.
One other relevant point to the discussion, from Burke:"An ignorant man who is not fool enough to meddle with his clock, is, however, sufficiently confident to think he can safely take to pieces and put together, at his pleasure, a moral machine of another guise, importance, and complexity, composed of far other wheels and springs and balances and counteracting and cooperating powers. Men think little how immorally they act in rashly meddling with what they do not understand. Their delusive good intention is no sort of excuse for their presumption. They who truly mean well must be fearful of acting ill."
Scroll Down to Read Other Opinions
@ayque (for some reason the tag didn't seem to work)
If I may, right back at ya. Very well said. However, though, I do not agree that polarization is ever a good thing. Polarization suggesting two extreme viewpoints with no possibility of compromise. That is never a good thing.Partly because extremes are to be avoided. Partly because once meaningful communication and compromise becomes impossible, the result is generally violence and bloodshed.Human beings are imperfect and imperfectible and thus, from time to time, conflict and polarization are inevitable. However, it is one thing to accept and acknowledge that reality. Quite another to embrace it.
Oh, pardon me, I should have checked out the definition of "polarization" before writing 😅I used the word thinking it just meant "difference in opinion, in opposite directions" but not that it implied no possibility of compromise. So, rephrasing my "I don't think polarization is bad but it is the EXTENT that can be bad" it should be:"I don't think having very different opinion is bad, but it is how extreme that difference is that can be bad, so we should avoid them becoming polarized and not accepting any middle ground"... More or less. I can't find a satisfying way to phrase this, I hope the meaning is clear now, though
Quite all right. You are one of the most literate and civil writers on this site. The error has been cleared up and I understand you now. We are, basically, in actual fact, on the same page.
You pointing it out is very helpful to me, though. I'm always trying to improve my English and you help me a lot in that. Even just by keeping up those page-long answers of yours, that I can use as reference 😁
Well, I can tell you, your English is better than my Italian. This even with my Lanzetta and Terranova relatives not living too far away!!Anyhow, a pleasure as always.
Thanks for your kind words ahahah
That kinda sounds like censorship tho, no?
@latarnd I'm talking more about accountability on a personal level and the platform providers. That's not the same as censorship unless they are currently doing something naughty and getting away with it because noone is holding them accountable
Ah ok I gotcha. That's the things is everyone is anonymous and it doesn't feel like there's anything accountability. People just say the first thing that comes to mind
I don’t think social media should be banned but I do think that is what would happen. I think social media should just somehow be limited. I don't know how though
Over exaggeration. Without it the world wouldn't be as connected, making us be more apart from one another
@JesseCraft07 arguably that would be a much safer would though due to far less risk of a compromised security.
@NotKrispy It is extremely important for busnises now don't forget, without social media a lot of companies would be destroyed. That's honestly a lot more important than privacy
Of course! I think the problem of social media really comes for all the mis information and the toxicity of cancel culture. Or in other words people acting as if they've never said or done anything stupid. Or people claiming that Defending the police will lead to a more violent america. People who get their news from the social media platforms think they are accurately informed but generally they aren't at all. And seeing how most millennials get their news from social media it's an extremely dangerous situation. That's why fact checking needs to be even heavier enforced than it currently is.