Articles

Life’s been busy, so I haven’t had a chance to do much blogging. These are just a few articles I found interesting recently.

Masha Gessen in the New York Review of Books writes ‘Autocracy: Rules for Survival‘, which I think is an interesting read.

Guy Rundle reflects on an interesting scenario, in which a real or imagined national security threat leads to an erosion of privacy norms [may be a paywall].

And given what I’ve read about how conspiracy theories can give a sense of order to the world, it was interesting to read a similar conclusion in an article on a de-radicalisation program:

Koeh­ler’s key finding has been that all extremists, regardless of ideology, develop a sort of tunnel vision as they go through the indoctrination process. An ordinary high school or college student, Koeh­ler argues, has a lot of problems (tricky classes, meddling parents, romantic woes) as well as many potential solutions (study harder, find a job, date someone new). A person who’s journeying down the path toward radicalization, by contrast, sees their problems and solutions each get winnowed down to one—a process that Koeh­ler terms “depluralization.” The solitary problem for these individuals is always that there’s a global conspiracy against their race or religion; the solitary solution to such persecution is violence, with the goal of placing themselves and their group in control of a revamped society.

UPDATE: And this piece, is very good, from David Frum in The Atlantic – ‘How to build an autocracy‘:

Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.
UPDATE II: And this piece, by Guy Rundle in Meanjin – 
The 2016 election and the rise of the Trump ‘movement’ is set within an America that is the world’s most extreme example of allowing the broader culture to be transformed and encircled by the market and commodity relations, rather than vice-versa.

The principal effect of that is a comprehensive ‘ungrounding’, with all that is familiar and ‘given’ in life subject to continuous dissolution and transformation. Hundred-year-old cities die without a word, trades and ways of life vanish without comment, the embedded networks of social life are emptied out. Human atomisation and alienation becomes dominant and are interpreted as autonomy and freedom.

… The investment in education, cities and jobs that would have allowed their children to make a transition to the new world has not been made. They know, even if they do not know the specifics, that mass automation is coming and that even such easy entry jobs as exist—such as fast food service—are about to be decimated

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