With the corona situation, do you think we’re still overreacting? In Britain, we have measured such as compulsory wearing of masks in public places, making shops and workplaces COVID secure with one way systems, taking details, suspension of large events etc. I’m assuming America is similar?
@ayque Well, there is a certain hysteria. There are reasonable and prudent precautions being taken, but the breathless headlines with each report of new cases, the similar headlines over when a cure might be found, the - in the American case - battling between the presidential candidates over who said what when, the restaurants that are being told when to open and allowed to have only so many people and on and on and on...Yes, in a society with all sorts of problems of a much less manageable and more intractable nature, the chest pounding and wailing over the virus is wildly disproportionate. This because, as I have mentioned elsewhere, we have a culture that worships science as a cult and therefore has too little appreciation of its' weaknesses, that expects quick and easy answers, and that assumes that absolute safety is an attainable goal, forgetting that in life there is an irreducible amount of risk.So there is still much overreaction, albeit that as time wears on, the public is growing impatient and restive and hyperemotional overreaction is being replaced by hyperemotional impatience. Consequently the culture swings from cowering under its' bed at one moment to flouting the rules and failing to take normal sensible prudent precautions the next. Hence, the great mask controversy. My kingdom for the first politician who says, "Stop whining, slap a mask on your face, go back to work and get on with life." Alas, particularly in a populist age where the emotions and whims of the people stand at the pinnacle of all wisdom and knowledge, any politician that says that should signify by saying, "I do not choose to run again."
Interesting. Do you think Governments would have reacted differently if there was no social media or 24 hour news? I don’t think it would have made much difference in the UK. I think the attitude of the general public towards it would have been significantly different though.
@ayque Well, if things h ad been different, hey would have been different. Government responds to the state of science and technology, to the culture and to political pressures. Change any of those and you get a different result.Look at the way the public - and government - responded to the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1919. There are similarities to now - and some considerable differences. In the United States, for example, there was NO Federal government response - at all. It was deemed the responsibility of state and local government and was handled accordingly. Moreover, heaven knows, the public seemed to have kept their head about them. To be sure, the end of a world war, a short but sharp economic depression, revolution and civil war in Russia. The world had plenty else to distract it.That said, the question answers itself. There was no social media in 1919 and the culture was different in important ways. Different reactions to follow.
Good points as usual. A friend of mine said the health authorities and experts would have reacted the same. I tend to agree on that but Governments I agree with you would react differently.
Although I would still defend the UK government in that they have struck the right balance (of course there are lessons to be learnt as with anything). Many Brits are highly critical of the UK government on the response, absent of facts.
@ayque Well, with the UK's unitary system of government you had a more consistent response. In the US, with its' Federal system, you got varying responses. For example, California went total lockdown, South Dakota did nothing at all - except for variations at the local government level.That all said, even the US Federal government response was not, on the whole, unreasonable. It was implemented somewhat haphazardly and - as only the state and local governments had actual authority to implement any response, all the Feds could do was make recommendations - and with undue emotionalism. (The irony being now that President Trump is being blamed for having "played it down.")Indeed, my objection is mostly to the societal and cultural response. In this the government was the effect and not the cause. As to science, it did what science does, It answered A+B=C questions with A+B=C answers. The problem being that society is not a laboratory where a controlled experiment can be undertaken. Humans are no lab rats and science took no account of the fact that it was dealing not with germs, but with people. So the answers work as science, less so as politics and culture.
Just to sum it up in a phrase, good public policy is more than just good science and administrative efficiency.
Very interesting and well answered as usual. A bit off topic but I have another question - do you have differing political views to your partner? I wonder if relationships between people of differing political views can work.
@ayque Yes, this is off topic. The funny thing is that, at the general level, we are more or less in agreement. On any given specifics we might vary.That all said, the funny part is, we both work in politics but in terms of our relationship, it is not a big part of our lives. It is hard to explain, but we just don't discuss it all that much - or if we do we mostly find ourselves discussing it as work and not so much the great big existential issues that I tend to discuss on this site.
Very interesting. I do know couples who have generally opposing views but they seem to be fine. I guess they just respect differences in opinion.
Do you think humans are naturally rational and kind (corrupted by society) or do you think humans are Selfishly driven by survival? ↗ This question and the answers given to it truly fascinated me.
@ayque Yes, there have been variations on this site before. Here is my reply to a bit more simplistic version of the same question: Do you believe that babies can be born evil? ↗In any case, if you have read your Burke, you know my answer.
Tbh, I am undecided. I think I need to do more reading.
@ayque Well, if you find that man is basically good, you may find Locke or - perish the thought - Rousseau more to your liking. Also, suggest that you start out with Aristotle.
I gather you’re not a fan of Rousseau.
@ayque Short answer: NOT AT ALL. Neither was Burke, interestingly.
Does Locke make slightly more sense to you with social contract theory?
@ayque Locke - although he came first - is Rousseau lite. Rousseau spoke of the "noble savage." Locke speaks of man as a mildly diffidently social creature for whom government is created to deal with the inconveniences in the state of nature.Well, "inconveniences" they are - if you consider riots and mayhem mere inconveniences. My problem with Locke is that he ends up soft pedaling human nature. His is a mechanistic view of natural rights - which amounts to putting the "rights" cart before the "natural law" horse.This ultimately getting back to your view of human nature. Bottom line, the problem revolves around your definition of the natural. The moderns - see Locke and Rousseau - believed that the natural was spontaneous. That human beings were basically good but were corrupted by society/government/etc. and that if these pre-modern and corrupting institutions are stripped away and law made in conformance with man's natural rights, that man will live in peace and harmony with his fellows.The ancients (Aristotle, Aquinas) - and Burke - believed that it was man's nature to be social. Raise a baby wolf to be the best wolf it can be, it will still be a wolf. Raise a human baby to be the best man it can be and it may cure cancer or write sonnets. This is true only of man in all creation.CONT.
Yet, in effect, nature is NOT that which is spontaneous but must be nurtured. For a man to attain his full nature he must be nurtured by education, law, custom, habit, culture and government, etc. The baby becomes the boy becomes the man becomes the gentleman. Left without such nurturing, man will be a beast.Anyhow, I have written all this before - and in candor, instead of brain picking, you should be reading your Burke, Aristotle, Aquinas and - to get the other side - Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, etc. You appear to be trying to learn all the world's wisdom while standing on your head.Not sure that will work too well. In this case, when you don't even know whether or not you accept Burke's premise of human nature, it will make it hard for you to understand where "he is comin' from." Suffice to say, I doubt I can fill in those blanks in 2000 character increments.
I thought Hobbes was Conservative in some ways too. Also, in UK current affairs, the general public seems to now be accepting that you can’t have a healthy nation without a functioning economy.
@ayque Hobbes is a precursor in terms of his assessment of human nature. However, his solution is the Leviathan, and as Burke points out, tyranny is not less tyranny because it is designed to control the human beast.Balance is everything. As Burke wrote, "To make a government requires no great prudence. Settle the seat of power, teach obedience, and the work is done. To give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to guide; it only requires to let go the rein. To give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to guide; it only requires to let go the rein. But to form a free government; that is, to temper together these opposite elements of liberty and restraint in one work, requires much thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful, and combining mind.”As to the economy. Yup. The better the economy, the more happy the society. However, it is not ONLY the economy. Prosperous savages are still savages. Moreover, the argument in most Western societies - where the argument is between strands of liberalism (i. e. classical and "radical") is not over human nature but the most efficacious way to manage the economy. The presumption being that the economy can be managed. Up to a point, the state can create conditions conducive to economic growth. However, the kinds of micromanaging of the economy that took place in the 1946 to 1979 period has its' limits and indeed will as likely as not backfire.Besides, it should also not be lost sight of that the free market - although the most efficient for producing wealth - is also highly competitive and overturns often established norms. Thus the welfare states created by Disraeli and Bismarck to reconcile the masses to the dynamics and uncertainties of a free market economy by alleviating the worst impacts of old age, illness and temporary unemployment.
P. S. Sorry for the type-o in the Burke quote, I seem to have repeated his line about freedom twice."To make a government requires no great prudence. Settle the seat of power, teach obedience, and the work is done. To give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to guide; it only requires to let go the rein. But to form a free government; that is, to temper together these opposite elements of liberty and restraint in one work, requires much thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful, and combining mind.”
The general public like to claim that the current UK economy is classist and that we should be more Keynesian. I have no idea what that means to be honest.
@ayque Classicist economics means pure Adam Smith. Free markets, private enterprise, the government stands aside and lets the free markets and the consumer do what they will.Keynesianism was the idea that the government can, through monetary and (predominantly) fiscal policy, manage the economy to produce desired outcomes - especially full employment. It was the dominant economic model - eventually slipping into outright social engineering in the 1960s - from the Great Depression until the economic crisis of the 1970s.In the Keynsian model, inflation and unemployment were a trade-off. The more of one, the less you would have of the other. (It is called the Phillip's Curve.) Using taxes, government (deficit) spending and monetary policy, it was believed that government could strike the balance between the two.However, the stagflation of the 1970s - high unemployment and high inflation at the same time - shattered the Keynsian consensus and set the stage for a return to a (somewhat modified) classical economics under Reagan and Thatcher. This having been the dominant consensus since.However, as the culture has moved in a more populist direction, Keynisanism is regaining some of its' lost cachet. It being the assumption that if the people want it, government ought be able to deliver it. Suffice to add that the theoretical problems of Keysnianism were not solved and, as likely as not, history will repeat itself. However, at the moment, the memories of doubly digit inflation - topping out at 27.2% in the UK and 14.5% in the USA in the 1970s - have faded. It being axiomatic that ignorance of the past facilitates its' repetition.
I wish I had your wisdom and knowledge.
@ayque Nah. It would only mean that you have my graying hair. Thanks for the compliment, though. Besides, keep reading and give it time. You'll get there.
I think it’s really sad that in Britain (maybe same in US too), people refuse to be friends or even speak to someone with differing political or world views. What happened to basic respect for others.
@ayque You are sounding a bit wistful today. I hope all is well. As to the latter point, you always see a bit of harmony and disharmony. That is how the human model is - no point lamenting it. Of course, it is better that people get along than not, but again... think of it.Sometimes people are just rude to each other. Sometimes they become Yemen.
Wise response as always.
A bit more of a relevant question - do classic liberals also broadly support the idea that institutions hold the collective memory of the past?
@ayque Classical liberals typically view history as "the dead hand of the past." It is useful for learning lessons, but only as a means by which to emancipate man from the shibboleths and superstitions of bygone eras.It being the purpose of classical liberal government to free man from the bonds of the past, to write laws in conformance with man's natural rights, and to perfect human nature in so doing. Consequently, as a general rule, classical liberals view social institutions as little more than tools. Necessary for dealing with the inconveniences of the state of nature but not otherwise essential to man. Man being, again, a mildly diffidently social being in the Lockean view.
Interesting. Does that mean classic liberals are more likely to support populism?
@ayque You asked that question before. As we discussed, populism, not being a schematic philosophy, manifests itself across the political spectrum. Thus, for example, President Trump has adopted policies that draw from both the Republican party - see also tax cuts - and the Democratic party - see also the President's support for prison sentencing reform.
But what I mean is populism is characterised partly by attacking of institutions And established norms. And liberals are more likely to support that?
@ayque Populism is NOT consistent. Mr. Trump is attacking the Swamp one moment and in the next he is a flag waving patriot defending the Constitution while the mobs run riot.Populism is NOT a coherent philosophy. It is, to repeat, a disposition that is shaped by the circumstances in which it arises. It defends institutions where it finds it useful and not where it does not.Populism is from the right - see Poland and Hungary. It is from the left - see Mexico and Spain. It is democratic - see Prime Minister Johnson. It is autocratic - see also Juan and Evita Peron in Argentina back in the day or Venezuela now.If populism arises where a liberal government is in power - or the culture is broadly liberal - it will oppose liberalism in whatever form. If it arises where a conservative government is in power - it will oppose that.You seem to assume that there is some ideological template into which populism can be fit. It cannot. Populism is flexible in method, applying its broad characteristics circumstantially. Thus in Poland it is VERY pro-institution because it is identifying with Polish nationalism. It then tending to define not a strict anti-institutionalism, but rather a critique of how well those institutions are in the service of the "people" as opposed to the "special interests."
I see. So it’s more a general mood of the society with politicians trying to gain the popular vote.
@ayque Politicians are - at least in a democracy - always seeking popular approval. The difference being that in periods not characterized by populism, there is a certain trust and deference given to elites. That being obviously absent at the moment, such that elites are denying that they are elites and proclaim that it is their mission to restore "power to the people."Hence Mr. Trump, the billionaire populist. The quintessential "barefoot boy from Wall Street." Ditto Senator Sanders - the millionaire "socialist." (Except that he is not really a socialist but is so categorized because the public conflates in common usage the ameliorative welfare state, the transformative welfare state and government ownership of the means of production. Blurring them together and thus, mutatis muntandis, a fairly conventional radical liberal is deemed a socialist.)Populism is thus a mood and not a schematic philosophy - as I keep repeating - but it has certain characteristics that allow it to be so categorized as a distinct phenomenon. By the way, read my answer or not, here is a question I found that may give you some food for thought: Do you interpret politics as a struggle between liberals or conservatives, or a struggle between elites and non-elites? ↗
Very interesting. I think I always confuse elites and Institutions. And also the establishment. I’m not sure I really understand the difference between these terms.
@ayque Sometimes there is no difference. The main distinction is between institutions and the other two. The Church is an institution, the government, civic groups, professional societies and so on/They are the structures around which we build the society. The culture coming first, this then building institutions which in their collective become society,As to the establishment. It is not really a sociological category. It is merely common usage to refer to those in positions of authority. As often as not it is a sort of trendy epithet.Elites are those groups in society that have attained either professional excellence or social esteem. The two often overlapping. Ideally, they are the best at what they do - but not always insofar as imperfect beings are apt to be imperfect.In the UK you have hereditary elites - that is those given as esteemed position in society as a matter of deference due to their place in history or other such factors. (Think the hereditary peers.) There are also meritocratic elites - that is those who attained their position by the development of expertise in a narrow field or business or politics or whatever. (In the British system, this has been formalized somewhat by the creation of Life Peers in the House of Lords. This, in effect, being an institutional recognition - the institution being the House of Lords, i. e. government - of the meritocratic accomplishments of various individuals.)This is, in the short space allowed, a rough summary of the distinctions. Suffice to say that in populist times these categories can take on a negative cast. Elites then, rather then representing a standard of excellence, becomes a term of derision. Thus why the context in which the terms are used matters to some extent.For my part, I tend to use elite as an objective sociological term of art. In popular usage, at the moment, it is treated as an epithet and term of disparagement.
Interesting. I was thinking about politicisation of our civil service the other day. And I was thinking this could be due to populism and attacking of institutions where collective memory of the past is held but maybe I’m wrong? and yes I’m probably massively over generalising again.
@ayque Well, if it helps, I am not even sure what you are trying to say. The "politicization of our society" means what exactly?Politics is simply part of society. At some periods - especially election years - it is more prominent than others. Most of the time, though, people go about the daily business of life without giving it much thought one way or the other. Be careful in studying any given phenomenon. By zeroing in on an given component of society so much, you begin to mistake the part for the whole.
Politicisation of the civil service.
@ayque When has it not been? You think the civil service did not have their own interests? Interests that they pursued through politics? Heck, their budget, wages, rules, etc. are all set by politics and through government, law and political institutions.There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but the idea that the civil service was somehow, at some point, not political in varying degrees will not bear close examination. You mistook form for substance.
Well it tries to be independent but yes it’s never been immune to politics.
@ayque Well, ya can't ask for more than that. One of the - I am bound to say - radical liberal illusions is that you can have a popularly elected but presumably disinterested government and bureaucracy.To some extent you can create formal rules and informal ethical and professional standards to facilitate this. However, in truth, the more things you want government to do - particularly in the allocation of wealth and opportunity - the more that politics will play a part.Indeed, the more you want politics to play a part as you do not want wealth and opportunity and all the rest allocated without some input from the wider society according to its' beliefs and values. Again, striking the balance is key - as always.
So complicated. I feel like I’m underqualified to form opinions on any of this.
@ayque Life is complicated. As I keep saying, take the time to learn and read about it. You'll get there and - heaven knows - you might even come to conclusions at variance with my own. Be that as it may, there is little point belaboring that it is all so complicated. Indeed, I would argue that many of our problems are either made - or are made worse - by the fact that people think it is all so easy. They therefore take too little time to examine the issues in depth and in all their complexity and therefore oversimplify things and thereby make them worse. They literally don't know what they are doing, but assume their own wisdom. They then, figuratively speaking, take to every problem a hammer when a needle might be better advised. Worse still, they assume that every problem has a solution when in truth many are just difficulties that must be managed as best they can be.As Burke said, "The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and therefore no simple disposition or direction of power can be suitable either to man's nature or the quality of his affairs."
To be honest, from what I’ve learnt so far there are aspects of both Locke and Burke which I disagree with. But also aspects from both I agree with.
@ayque Well, okay. You will not necessarily agree with every jot and title of either. However, you need to look at the larger picture. Who most captures human nature? Who best grasps the complexities of politics and government in that connection? Whose views most - whatever their imperfections - most conduce to a deeper understanding of the intermix of human nature, history and politics and conduces to happier outcomes?Bottom line, you have a lot of homework to do and must engage in a lot of intellectual exercise.
Yes. I have a lot of questions in my head around those questions you’ve mentioned. Many are difficult questions with no easy answer and one which I doubt I’ll be able to think of over night. But I’m always keen to learn more and I must thank you for being a good guide.
@ayque You are most welcome. I enjoy our exchanges. However, I would hasten to add that you are probably better off studying and reading than you are getting little dollops of information from me in 2000 character increments.Anyhow, we will chat again soon. I am going to be offline starting in about 20 minutes until sometime tomorrow morning. So until then - or the next time we chat - Cheers!
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Well I hate North Korea, Nazi Germany, USSR, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etcI love freedom, I am an American
I have guns, weed and free speech
@NorthwestRider AND you vote? And choose those that protect your rights to those things?Biden, is going to ban GUNS and WEED, and CRUSH the recovering economy, and MILLIONS of people's lives, and then TAX THE FUCK OUT OF ALL OF THE MIDDLE CLASS, making us part of the "Poverty Class"!!!
And who says I am a fan of Biden?
@NorthwestRider I never said you were, but said what I have seen of Biden's BULLSHIT!! You read into that, thinking I think you are for him! Like several times, you read into things I said, thinking I am a Republican!
Yeah but this is not North Korea, Saudi Arabia, USSR, Russia or Saudi Arabia We love freedom
Lol anarchy leads to blood shed and a complete failure of your economy all freedom needs limit dumb ass
You know that there are tons of cops who have tiny dicks and want to turn this country into a police state
Possible but with unlimited freedom the president could just win elections by nuking states who did vote for him last time
The only opinion from girls was selected the Most Helpful Opinion, but you can still contribute by sharing an opinion!