[FoRK] beware inevitability! a foil to the technologicalsingularity?

Russell Turpin deafbox
Fri Oct 14 07:27:12 PDT 2005


>*Suffer the Intellectuals
>*by Owen Harries (from The American Interest - September 2005)

LMAO. Another would-be intellectual taking
potshots against intellectuals in the usual fashion:
by drawing a narrow caricature of the past,
noting the obvious fact that those who predict
the future often are worng, and cherry picking
quotes. Intellectuals in the 1970s thought the
USSR was winning the Cold War? What a laugh!
Sorry, but no. The people in the 1970s who
seriously worried about the expansion of the
Soviet empire were mostly paranoid conservatives.
Intellectuals sometimes worried that mutually
assured destruction would indeed be assured.
It didn't happen. It was a legitimate worry,
nonetheless.

I agree with the basic claim. The future is a
tricky thing, and oft will surprise your most
confident predictions. But this author can't
get the past right!

Here's this idiotic passage: "By the mid-1970's,
Western liberal democracy had experienced
a decade's worth of battering from a variety of
sources: antiwar protesters, members of the
'counterculture', student protest movements,
civil disobedience, domestic terrorists and assassins,
corruption in high places and, in the case of the
United States, defeat in the war."

Say what? Antiwar protests, counterculture
movements, student protests and civil disobedience
are *features* of liberal democracy, not threats
to it. They have a long history here in the US. The
primary threat to US democracy in 1970 was a
corrupt president who treated the office as more
like a king's, who ran it through a tight-knit
internal staff more loyal to their leader than to
their Constitutional duty, who deceived the
nation in his pursuit of a war, who claimed
executive privilege against investigation into his
crimes, and who brought this nation close to a
Constitutional crisis. It's interesting, now that
we have another president who operates on
the Nixon model, that conservatives are trying
desparately to resuscitate Nixon's reputation.
The early 70s were indeed dark days for US
democracy. What darkened them was the man
in the White House.




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