It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Both their Houses


I'm definitely a David Brin fan now. (not that Sergey is a slouch; are they related?)

This article violates the one idea per posting constraint pretty badly, but it has a lot of interesting things to say, most notably this:
humanity is now experiencing unprecedentedly-low levels of violence, per capita, compared to any time in (or before) history. Likewise increasing levels of education, freedom and (yes) ethical behavior. The foolish leftist notion - that we can only continue this progress by chiding people, while frantically ignoring the fact that progress has been made - is certainly insane. It deserves rigorous criticism.

Nevertheless, the right is far worse. Take the way their fizzy “optimism” arm-wavings start off by reciting truths - (e.g that ideas do breed and evolve among free/educated people... and civilization has thereby moved forward). Only then, insidiously, they razzle that basic truth into rationalizations for indolence!

Problems will solve themselves, as if by magic! Ignoring Adam Smith’s cautiously pro-government and anti-oligarchy reasoning, they mis-apply his teachings in order to praise the kind of laissez-faire faith in an “invisible hand” that plays right into the hands of entrenched and conniving oligarchy.

The crux: this fizzing, percolation of ideas and solutions does happen - it can lead to all the great synergies that the optimists proclaim... even the miracle of the runaway positive sum game... the suppsed justification of capitalism. On the other hand this semi-random idea-churn works best when it then feeds into a process called the modern-western, mixed society, wherein smart men and women in business, the arts and government compare notes, deliberate, negotiate, plan and bring about solutions to problems!
Funny he leaves out academia altogether, but you get the idea.

h/t Moe

5 comments:

Steve Bloom said...

If functioning well in academia isn't an art, I don't know what is. :)

Tom said...

Brin wrote one of the best sci-fi books ever--The Uplift Wars, which dealt with the need for completely different species to cooperate and learn from each other, and feed off each others' strengths to defeat a common enemy. And he managed to make his non-human Enemy,well, human after a fashion, and show why the inability to adapt was a fatal flaw.

Anna Haynes said...

Thanks Tom for the recommendation. When I finish the Cryptonomicon...

Pangolin said...

It seems that the art of honest discussion of issues is largely lost outside of the sciences. It's very difficult to discuss projected solutions when simple facts about problems are flatly denied. This is common in our current political atmosphere.

b.t.w- "Startide Rising" should be read before "The Uplift Wars." If for no other reason than it has the best ending of any science fiction I have ever read.

Tom said...

It was good, Pangolin--I liked it a lot, but it had a bit too much space opera going on to be of the same caliber as Uplift Wars. Were you able to make it through the second trilogy?