The center-left is dying, and the post-WWII Western social order with it. The invalid in ‘better days’:
After World War II, European societies were built on principles that owed a lot to center-left ideas. There was widespread agreement after the war that the political chaos and social upheaval associated with the Great Depression had been the consequence of unregulated markets, so the idea that they should be left unregulated again was an anathema. And so, when European political economies were rebuilt, they were designed to ensure that capitalism was reined in by governments. This postwar order worked remarkably well: The three decades after 1945 remain Europe’s period of fastest growth ever. […] Politically, this order’s effects were equally important. Workers and employers became more willing to cooperate, and in place of the centrifugal dynamics of the interwar years, when tough times drove voters to the extremes, good times during the postwar years drove voters back to the center. Thanks to a new relationship between democratic governments and capitalism, Europe was able — for the first time in its history — to combine economic growth, well-functioning democracy and social stability.
When you’re putting your crack cocaine habit together, it probably feels pretty good too (for a while).
ADDED: For relevance.
An instant classic from Wired:
Silicon Valley, the 50 square miles of land in the US that has created more wealth than any other place in human history but has still achieved very little in becoming a more inclusive, truly diverse place.
It might be functional, but it’s failed hopelessly at making itself dysfunctional. Thiel just doesn’t get that.
Yes, we’re in semi-comatose maintenance mode, but the three millionth visit merits some kind of acknowledgement. Thanks to everyone — however annoying — who’s keeping the nightmare alive (or at least undead).
Contrarian, definitely. But — on reflection — it’s not unimaginable. (Even if the average murderer is less gifted than his victim, the maths could go through.)
From Cixin Liu’s latest (and perhaps greatest), p.129:
When the deterrent is the complete destruction of the deterrer and the deteree, the system is said to be in a state of ultimate deterrence. […] Compared to other types of deterrence, ultimate deterrence is distinguished by the fact that, should deterrence fail, carrying out the threat would be of no benefit to the deterrer. [..] Thus, the key to the success of ultimate deterrence is the belief by the deteree that the threat will almost certainly be carried out if the deteree thwart’s the deterrer’s goals …
Hence the drive to mechanization of commitments. Trust evo-psych and cultural tradition passes the torch to game-competent machines.
Could the escalating Sunni-Shia War (intensified by the fracking revolution) take out Saudi Arabia?
(Cold Western indifference would be nice.)
Nick Rowe on the economics of immigration:
“Total Factor Productivity” is not some geological feature like the Canadian shield. There has to be a reason why some countries are rich and other countries are basket cases, and unless you are lucky enough to find yourselves sitting on great reservoirs of oil that someone else will pay you to pump out of the ground, that reason seems to have something to do with social/economic institutions, and social/economic institutions seem to have something to do with people.
(If you want to be a format purist, treat the second sentence as the target, and the first as the lead-in — the emphasis has been juggled to help.)
A committed Clinton supporter (really) outlines the bright prospects for her administration:
… The rest is just a blur. There was so much violence in so many places across the country. […] Then the stock market crashed. Trillions of dollars were lost, mutual funds tanked, and Occupy Wall Street was instantly revived — in New York City, most spectacularly (the day after the crash, 75,000 people effectively shut down the city south of Chambers Street), but also in other cities and on college campuses across the country. […] The violence escalated from there over the following weeks. And then came martial law. …
(“The State of our Union is Strong.”)
They have to know what this looks like, but they can’t help themselves.
I’m rather inclined to believe that neither the UK or the EU will necessarily be around as this century matures, and it won’t be the economic or emotional catastrophe people imagine. Sad though it would be to see ane end of ane auld sang, Scotland would do fine as an independent nation. They gave the world Adam Smith, after all.
(The whole article is a sanity-packed delight.)