📖 Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah Goldberg

📖 Read 0-16% of Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah Goldberg (Crown Forum, , ISBN: 978-1101904930)

Interesting case so far. I can’t help but extrapolate some of these ideas including pluralism to the internet in terms of a state and the effect of the IndieWeb movement. Is Facebook a stationary bandit?

There is a heavy flavor of the viewpoint of “Big History” lurking in the text though I doubt that Goldberg is directly aware of the area of study/research. I’m also seeing a lot of reliance and influence from Francis Fukuyama lurking within the text. (Note to self to go back to finish reading his two most recent tomes.) Based on what I’ve read thus far, I’d say I’m in general agreement with much of the broad strokes. He’s also positing an interesting thesis about the causes and roots of the democracy, the industrial revolution, and freedom under which we find ourselves living currently. I’m not sure I like his single word description he’s using for our present “Miracle”, but I do appreciate the need for a shorthand.  Taking the longer and broader term view (particularly in contrast to the state of the second and third world countries in much of the rest of the world), it’s much more obvious how much more fragile our country and institutions are. Some of the tribalism which I see us backsliding into is very troubling from this perspective.

Social constructs and institutions which are eroding become a bigger issue under this broader thesis. I can think of simple recent cultural touchstones like Hobby Lobby not being forced to provide complete health care coverage (abortions) for employees and being given exemptions for religious reasons or cake shops being able to not serve homosexual couples. Given the broader themes going on, I can easily tell where Goldberg would come down on these legal issues. (Though I do wonder how they could be ruled on positively within this framework from a legal/constitutional perspective.)

I’ll make a scant note of it here and hopefully circle back to flesh it out more later, but I think that Goldberg’s thesis could be dramatically scaled up in a way in which he may not suspect. In Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies, Cesar Hidalgo has an increasing scale from the individual to the firm and this could then scale to a megafirm and potentially to larger (currently undefined) institutions. This could potentially mean that our current situation isn’t “as good as it gets” (my words not Goldberg’s, though the sentiment is similar.) Taking things to a more logical conclusion and treating all humans as equal as a base, then corporations/firms would need to treat humans equal and at the next level up all firms should be considered equal as well. With these givens then ideas like universal healthcare (or even access to education), which could be framed as “socialist” on the first scale of just individuals would be more easily able to be viewed as capitalist on the next level up. My layout here is certainly a bit murky because these ideas are simple models which are far from widely known, but a bit of fleshing out could make them much more apparent.

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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