Sorry folks, I’m just not feelin’ it lately. Here are some blogroll greatest hits:
- Ideology and the self: The politics of authenticity (Will Wilkinson at The Economist)
The authentic self is the ideologically-validated self. This may help explain the widespread tendency to see those with whom we fundamentally disagree as victims of “false consciousness”. We cannot help but suspect that they are in the grip of some kind of illusion, while we are clear-eyed and at home in the world as it is. Our ideological opposites are not only at war with truth, but alienated from their true selves. For conservatives, liberals who convert to conservatism have finally mastered their pathetic, craven yearning for “establishment” approval, summoned the courage to embrace the plain truth and declaim the corrosive, pretty lies of liberalism, opening up the possibility of a life happily in sync with the laws of nature, God and country. For liberals, conservatives who convert to liberalism have overcome hateful prejudice and tapped into the essentially human compassion and instinct for justice that allows us finally to acknowledge and lament our past complicity in maintaining the superstructure of privilege and exploitation entailed by the free-market, limited-government “ideal”.
This sort of shit is why I enjoyed taking philosophy courses in undergrad and never even remotely considered an Arts major. Case in point: I was an honest-to-balls true-believer Marxist in high school, although in retrospect there’s a lot of Marxist scholarship of which I was never aware (so was I a true Marxist? I sure felt like one). Now I’m an anarchocapitalist, veering back towards bleeding-heart libertarianism at least in the short term. Does this mean that The True Matt is more like Professor Bernardo de la Paz, and high-school Matt was full of mauvaise foi? Not hardly. Present-day Matt has more data than high-school Matt, and (surprise, surprise) thinks he can generalize more effectively. Ten years from now I’ll look back on this blog post and roll my eyes.
So I find it hard to believe that people really think this way. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that people play the lottery, even if they do it rationally. The rest of you hairless bipeds are a fucking mystery sometimes.
Then there’s this Glenn Greenwald post, with which I both agree and disagree:
There are few things more sickening — or revealing — to behold than a D.C. sex scandal. Huge numbers of people prance around flamboyantly condemning behavior in which they themselves routinely engage. Media stars contrive all sorts of high-minded justifications for luxuriating in every last dirty detail, when nothing is more obvious than that their only real interest is vicarious titillation. Reporters who would never dare challenge powerful political figures who torture, illegally eavesdrop, wage illegal wars or feed at the trough of sleazy legalized bribery suddenly walk upright — like proud peacocks with their feathers extended — pretending to be hard-core adversarial journalists as they collectively kick a sexually humiliated figure stripped of all importance. The ritual is as nauseating as it is predictable.
This isn’t a case of illegal sex activity or gross hypocrisy (i.e., David Vitter, Larry Craig, Mark Foley (who built their careers on Family Values) or Eliot Spitzer (who viciously prosecuted trivial prostitution cases)). There’s no lying under oath (Clinton) or allegedly illegal payments (Ensign, Edwards). From what is known, none of the women claim harassment and Weiner didn’t even have actual sex with any of them. This is just pure mucking around in the private, consensual, unquestionably legal private sexual affairs of someone for partisan gain, voyeuristic fun and the soothing fulfillment of judgmental condemnation. And in that regard, it sets a new standard: the private sexual activities of public figures — down to the most intimate details — are now inherently newsworthy, without the need for any pretense of other relevance.
On the one hand… yeah, Wienergate (SEE WHAT I DID THERE OH THE LULZ) is a creepily puritanical witch-hunt (SEE WHAT I DID… I’ll stop now). The closest thing I’ve found to an acceptable rationale is Ken’s:
A scandal, however petty and stupid, is a crisis. If a politician demonstrates utter incompetence in handling even a petty and stupid crisis, it’s reasonable to question whether he’d be able to handle a more important one competently.
On the other hand, I can’t help but grin, and clap my hands, and giggle inappropriately, and dance a silly little dance over the fact that we’re all dragging Anthony Wiener over the hot coals of public humiliation because he’s Congressman Anthony Wiener. We hairless bipeds have far too much respect for those in authority, and it makes me really fucking happy that there are some forms of disrespect that only come with titles like “Congressman” and “Senator”.
And finally, I’m dead serious about this signaling thing:
- Promises Signal (Robin Hanson)
People who had the most positive relationship feelings and who were most motivated to be responsive to the partner’s needs made bigger promises than did other people but were not any better at keeping them. Instead, promisers’ self-regulation skills, such as trait conscientiousness, predicted the extent to which promises were kept or broken.
If relationship promises mainly function to signal our current feelings, that makes it more plausible that paying and pushing for medicine for our associates serves a similar function of showing that we care. We humans apparently do relatively little checking later of whether promises were kept, or if medicine helped.
I have nothing to add.