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

Kevin Elliott k-elliott
Fri Oct 14 11:48:25 PDT 2005

At 14:27 +0000  on  10/14/05, Russell Turpin wrote:
>>*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,

I think BOTH sides of the aisle were firmly convinced that we were 
losing the Cold War in the 1970s.  Conservatives thought we should 
fight, Liberals thought we should concede, but NEITHER thought we 
were winning.

The idea that by the 1990's the USSR would have completely collapsed 
would have been laughable in 1985.  It would have been INSANE in 1975.

>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.

I'd have to disagree with you on this.  Not that these things are 
inherently threats to democracy- I agree their not.  I think the 
threat they appeared posed was in their similarity to events that had 
led to government overthrow in Germany and Italy (and probably 
elsewhere though nothing comes to mind).  If the US system is going 
to fail, it's a virtual certainty it will fail by a fall into 
fascism.  Such falls are generally precipitated by wide spread civil 
unrest by a minority that eventually angers the majority to the point 
of demanding a police state response.

IMHO 2 things have prevented this sort of fall from happening in the US

1) The US is ENORMOUS.  I don't think true, massive, nationwide civil 
unrest has ever happened in the US.  It's simply to big.  Lets say 10 
cities in the US experienced massive protests, civil unrest, etc. 
Most of the countries population STILL wouldn't be within 200 miles 
of any disturbance.  To most people it'd be great TV, but wouldn't 
effect their daily life.

2) More significant, Federalism.  Civil unrest is a STATE problem. 
The states generally have more than enough power to crack down on 
mass disturbances but are prevented from falling to far into the 
fascist hole by the federal government and the example of the rest of 
the states.

Neither of these things is particularly well understood in 
"intellectual" circles, especially in Europe.  And without that 
understanding the activity in 1970's America sure looked an awful lot 
like a country about to collapse.

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
AIM/iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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