Monday, November 07, 2016

President Hillary Clinton and epistocracy in that order

I was so hoping the Trump sex tape would turn up by now. It is surely out there. Well, no sex tape. No joy! 

Anyway, I am going to start calling her President Clinton, cause it is all over save the vote suppression - which is not going to save the KKK's favorite candidate. But more sadly, I suspect that the Dems are not going to get past 49 in the Senate.

So, turning aside to Caleb Crain's review of Jason Brennan's book, Against Democracy - it does sound like Jason Brennan is full of bad bad arguments. Crain ropes him in with Bryan Caplen, the libertarian economist from Koch, er George Mason University - Crain stints on the background and just calls him an "economist", although I'd bet cash money that if Bryan Caplen were a Marxist economist, that fact would be mentioned. As a former reviewer myself - hey, I've got at least four hundred reviews under my belt, so I am not talking about one piece on a list serv or something - I count points off. Reviewing is much like wrestling, in that the points are awarded for things that the spectators can't quite see. Anyway, I was surprised that the review of the Brennan book, which really, really sound irritating, said absolutely zip about the concentration of power that goes along with Brennan's technocratic wetdream. Whereas in the 70s, Foucault savaged the kind of disciplinary society propelled, in part, by institutionilzed expertise, in the nudgery 10s, we find it getting a lot of neo-lib love. The first move is to take at face value polls about content, which supposedly display the vast ignorant of the American boobs out there. Of course, no parallel polls are ever taken about the knowledge of such bright beacons as Brennan about the experience of working class folks out there. For instance, what number of black households are in the top one percent? And what number of whites? What is the colloquial name for the stretch between East Baton Rouge and New Orleans? etc., etc.
Stories about technocratic power in the US tend to be pretty dystopian. Crain doesn't seem to have any of them at his fingertips, meaning that he has a nice ignorance of American history, one usually repandu among the centrist-liberal reviewer crowd. It isn't as if democracy has not been kicked in the teeth in the American experience about a million times. Crain does even refer to the eugenics programs that the US used to be no. 1 in, until Nazi Germany, admiring our policies, took away the crown. For, after all, if people who are ignorant about who the VP is (and who know silly things like the fact that the concentration of carcinogens in the area around East Baton Rouge all along the east bank of the Mississippi has earned it the name Cancer Alley) shouldn't vote, but should trust experts - well, why should they be allowed to have children. Crain doesn't advance even gingerly into the topic, although the topic cries out for it. Points off, points off!
There's a weird American tendency to reduce history to one's personal experience.If I wasn't born in 1910, then I am supposed to know nothing of 1920 or 30. I suppose this tendency moves in tandem with the idea that novels are all about the author who wrote them. However, this is definitely a standard that the reviewer should shun. 'You had to be there' is the deathknell of the historical consciousness. I do wish Crain had seized the elevation of nudgery to "epistocracy" and given it a rougher, much rougher, shake, with examples from the entire history of so called democratic societies.
Oh well.

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