Monday, June 11, 2018
Non-light reading for the summer of our discontent
I didn't read these books so simply will note that We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights by Adam Winkler was worthwhile and covers the corporation points some.
Like Joe, I haven't read either book. From your description of Deneen's book, I'd offer 2 comments:
1. He seems far to trusting of ancient authors who described their societies as they theoretically should have been, rather than as they actually were. I think he'd find that the criticisms he makes of today's society would be even more applicable then.
2. I'd say he's unfair to the Federalist, which doesn't so much encourage a "desiccated society" -- most of the Framers were, after all, strong believers in Montesquieu and classical republicanism -- as recognize some potential flaws and try to ameliorate them.
As for Brill, from your description he seems guilty of overlooking both structural factors in the Constitution (which you note), but also the anti-democratic tendencies of the Republican party. If the country is ever to recover from Trump -- I'm cautiously pessimistic -- ensuring a more democratic polity is the single most critical job if the Dems ever re-take control. That includes fixing the stolen seat on the SCOTUS, without which democratic reforms will be struck down for partisan purposes.
By the way, there is an interesting review of Winkler's book in The Nation: "Artificial Persons The long road to Citizens United." By David Cole.
I also haven't read either book but for more non-light reading that attempts to provide a Scottish Enlightenment alternative to Hobbes et al. see Paul Sagar's The Opinion of Mankind: Sociability and the Theory of the State from Hobbes to Smith.
Best of luck with your recovery; I trust you've got a physical therapist coming by frequently to torture you.
I'll see if these are available at the library, I could use some airplane reading on my upcoming business trip.
It may take a while for the "usual suspects" commenting at this Blog to access these two books (and once they do, committing hours to read them) in order to limit comments to such books; but most likely this thread would go into "moderation" by that time. In the meantime, I suggest looking at the reality of today with the "historic" meeting of Trump/Kim Jong un, with a quick visit to today's Daily Kos APF feature at:
Sandy's "review" of these books does address a tad of the current situation under Trump, so this comment is not entirely out of line with Sandy's comment admonition. I have no idea if this USA/NK summit will be successful (however Trump might define success), but I can use my imagination:
If successful for the USA, then Trump Enterprises might market "Trump Kim-chi."
If unsuccessful for the USA "", the NY Daily News (or Post) might feature this front page: "TRUMP KIM-CHIED!"
Cynics may say that in either event, we may all be in a pickle.
I'm limited in reading books because of eyesight issue in addition to time limitations at age 87. I learn of so many interesting books from the various blogs that I visit and I do read a lot of reviews on my desktop enabled by the computer's magnification feature. I have had an interest in Steven Brill's writings for some time. To refresh my recollection, I did some Googling and came up with this interesting review of Brill's book on the ACA process:
‘America’s Bitter Pill,’ by Steven Brill, review by Zephyr Teachout, Jan. 7, 2015
While the review is mostly positive, Prof. Teachout critiques Brill similar to the manner in which Sandy critiques Brill's new book. So I look forward to reading more reviews of of Brill's new book, including by anti-social libertarians.
Shag, I'm, at 59, not sure "younger" really applies, but I sympathize with your reading problems. Chemo induced eye problems really put a damper on my reading habits, too. I now read in a year about as many books as I used to in a week. (Admittedly, having a 9 year old son might be a factor, too.)
An ebook really helps, with the screen set to maximum brightness and a large font.
Deneen correctly defines classical liberalism as a government which “conceived humans as rights-bearing individuals who could fashion and pursue for themselves their own version of the good life.” "[O]pportunities for liberty were best afforded by a limited government devoted to ‘securing rights,’ along with a free-market economic system that gave space for individual initiative and ambition.”
Then Deneen makes the standard progressive distinction between liberalism and totalitarian communism and fascism.
From these assumptions, Daneen offers the non-sequitur that the natural result of liberalism is totalitarianism:
Nearly every one of the promises that were made by the architects and creators of liberalism has been shattered. The liberal state expands to control nearly every aspect of life while citizens regard government as a distant and uncontrollable power, one that only extends their sense of powerlessness by relentlessly advancing the project of “globalization.” The only rights that seem secure today belong to those with sufficient wealth and position to protect them, and their autonomy — including rights of property, the franchise, and its concomitant control over representative institutions, religious liberty, free speech, and security in one’s papers and abode — is increasingly compromised by legal intent or technological fait accompli.
What Deneen misses is totalitarianism misappropriated the label "liberal" and gradually replaced the classical liberal political economy over the past century and a half. The assumption that the totalitarianism masquerading as liberalism was distinct from communism and fascism is a fundamental error. Deneen's supra critique can be equally applied to communist and fascist states.
Then Deneen engages in the classical conservative error of blaming classical liberalism (the freedom to live our lives as we please without government direction) with libertinism (abusing that freedom to to engage in self-indulgent and self-destructive acts). Nothing about classical liberalism prevents us from living virtuous lives and, indeed, we can only make the choice of self-discipline if we are free to do so.
Many of Deneen's complaints are with secular totalitarianism, which abuses government power to punish and undermine social institutions like marriage and family.
Despite his misplaced complaints, Deneen does not offer a totalitarian or a classical conservative (government imposing a moral code on the people) remedy. Instead, his proposed "post-liberal alternative" looks very much like Jeffersonian liberalism come to fruition - the cultivation of local communities and markets, self-rule at the local level and education in deeper cultural traditions (the classical liberal education).
SPAM continues to live in the dark ages of classical liberalism that doesn't work with increasing populations. That seems to be the world of current libertarianism. Libertarians can't rule as such; when they try, they become totalitarians.
SPAM in his closing paragraph introduces " ... or a classical conservative (government imposing a moral code on the people) remedy." Is SPAM referring to Trump's Revengelicals? Is SPAM in favor of such imposing? It's hard to tell.
SPAM continues to live in the dark ages of classical liberalism that doesn't work with increasing populations.
During the century-plus when most Americans enjoyed a classically liberal political economy, the United States went from being a bankrupt colonial backwater of about 4 million to a continental nation of about 90 million with the largest and most productive economy in the world, a feat unmatched in human history.
The claim large and complex economies require government direction is nonsense. A totalitarian government bureaucracy lacks the knowledge to run even the simplest business efficiently. Such agencies make a complete hash out of large and complex economies.
I didn't read either book, but I do have a small-bore on-topic question. Peter Edelman was one of my con law professors and is a lovely guy; how, though, does Brill see him leading us out of the "wilderness"?
SPAM's 12:20 PM response self-admittedly makes him a person of the past, as past he did not personally experience. Perhaps this explains why SPAM gave up a "big law firm" potential future for his rural mountain top community in CO, the High Mile State (of mind) to become, by his own admission, the top-dog DUI criminal defense counsel, and where he can use his abacus to challenge large and complex economies on the backs of envelopes. SPAM seems to further suggest that he has the knowledge to run complex businesses efficiently. That's a Unabomber mindset. 90 million to 330 million since SPAM's MAGA days to America's current economy (despite Trump) with a healthier, longer living population thumbs its nose at SPAM, who's got to get a DeLorean that will take him back to his utopia.
OT, but seconding Brett's wishes for your recovery.
An anecdote on French laïcité, from my own recovery in a Strasbourg hospital from a serious skiing accident. The physiotherapist who taught me how to use stairs with crutches used the mnemonic "les bons montent au ciel, les maudits descendent aux enfers": lead with your good foot going up, the bad one going down. But then Alsace was in Bismarck's Germany when France had its bust-up with the Catholic Church round 1900, so the 1855 Concordat still held. In 1918, when Alsace was won back, the issue was naturally unimportant and the exception was kept. So Alsatian schools have religious education, hospitals have Catholic, Protestant and Jewish chaplains, and Strasbourg University has regular faculties of Catholic and Protestant theology - though not Jewish or, more important, Muslim.
"And I continue to believe that secession should not be ruled off the table..."
Which would be the most likely outcome of a convention. Washington, Oregon, and California poss. w/ Nevada and Hawaii would make a nice country.
Sandy: And I continue to believe that secession should not be ruled off the table as a serious possibility should the hinterlands (and their 82 senators) continue to be indifferent to the fate of Pacifica or Atlantica.
Are the "hinterlands" the new "flyover country" among our progressive overlords in Pacifica and Atlantica?
"Indifferent to the fate of Pacifica or Atlantica?" In Hungergame parlance, this is like taking the provinces to task for being indifferent to the fate of the Capitol.
Are you requesting armed hinterland intervention to liberate Pacifica and Atlantica from their oppressive governments?
Currently, the hinterlands welcomes the refugees fleeing oppression in Pacifica or Atlantica. Isn't that enough?
All fun aside, I suspect what you are really saying is, if you peasants in the hinterlands do not allow your progressive overlords in Pacifica Atlantica to rule the national government, we will secede and form a government we can control. If Pacifica and Atlantica wish to ensure armed intervention, by all means try to secede.
Those interested in SPAM's views on secession just a few years ago should research the Archives of this Blog. As I recall, SPAM favored smaller communities in his Mile High State (of mind) seceding. SPAM is consistent in his inconsistency.
Excellent conclusion. As someone who read David Lazare's "The Frozen Republic" when it first came out, I agree that the body of our constitution has many problems.
"If Pacifica and Atlantica wish to ensure armed intervention, by all means try to secede."Post a Comment
If we were to have the Constitutional Convention SL advocates the likely outcome would be the realization that agreement is impossible and separation is for the best.
"Currently, the hinterlands welcomes the refugees fleeing oppression in Pacifica or Atlantica. Isn't that enough?"
It's been a good start and has allowed better governance in California but the current constitutional structure that allows a minority to rule is unsustainable. BTW, in the event of a break-up states like Colorado would have to figure in the costs of supporting states like Kentucky and Mississippi absent the inputs of Atlantica and Pacicifa.