👓 Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History | The New Yorker

Read Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History by Louis MenandLouis Menand (The New Yorker)
The political scientist argues that the desire of identity groups for recognition is a key threat to liberalism.

I can’t help but wonder what Jonah Goldberg’s review of this book will be given his prior effort earlier this year?

I’m also reminded here of Mark Granovetter’s ideas that getting a job is more closely tied to who you know. One’s job is often very closely tied to their identity, and even more so when the link that got them their job was through a friend or acquaintance.

I suspect that Fukuyama has a relatively useful thesis, but perhaps it’s not tied together as logically and historically as Menand would prefer. The difficult thing here is that levels of personal identity on large scales is relatively unknown for most of human history. Tribalism and individuality are certainly pulling at the threads of liberal democracy lately. Perhaps it’s because of unfulfilled promises (in America at least) of the two party system? Now that we’ve reached a summit of economic plenty much quicker than the rest of the world (and they’re usurping some of our stability as the rest of the world tries to equilibrate), we need to add some additional security nets for the lesser advantaged. It really doesn’t cost very much and in turn does so much more for the greater good of the broader society.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Fukuyama’s argument was that, with the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, the last ideological alternative to liberalism had been eliminated.  

“Last” in the sense of a big, modern threat. We’re still facing the threats of tribalism, which apparently have a strong pull.
August 27, 2018 at 10:26AM

There would be a “Common Marketization” of international relations and the world would achieve homeostasis.  

Famous last words, right?!

These are the types of statements one must try very hard not to make unless there is 100% certainty.

I find myself wondering how can liberal democracy and capitalism manage to fight and make the case the the small tribes (everywhere, including within the US) that it can, could and should be doing more for them.
August 27, 2018 at 10:29AM

But events in Europe unfolded more or less according to Fukuyama’s prediction, and, on December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union voted itself out of existence. The Cold War really was over.  

Or ostensibly, until a strong man came to power in Russia and began its downturn into something else. It definitely doesn’t seem to be a liberal democracy, so we’re still fighting against it.
August 27, 2018 at 10:32AM

This speculative flourish recalled the famous question that John Stuart Mill said he asked himself as a young man: If all the political and social reforms you believe in came to pass, would it make you a happier human being? That is always an interesting question.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:33AM

George Kennan, who was its first chief. In July of that year, Kennan published the so-called X article, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” in Foreign Affairs. It appeared anonymously—signed with an “X”—but once the press learned his identity the article was received as an official statement of American Cold War policy.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:33AM

Fukuyama’s article could thus be seen as a bookend to Kennan’s.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:36AM

The National Interest, as the name proclaims, is a realist foreign-policy journal. But Fukuyama’s premise was that nations do share a harmony of interests, and that their convergence on liberal political and economic models was mutually beneficial. Realism imagines nations to be in perpetual competition with one another; Fukuyama was saying that this was no longer going to be the case.  

And here is a bit of the flaw. Countries are still at least in competition with each other economically, at least until they’re all on equal footing from a modernity perspective.

We are definitely still in completion with China and large parts of Europe.
August 27, 2018 at 10:38AM

Fukuyama thinks he knows what that something is, and his answer is summed up in the title of his new book, “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).  

Get a copy of this to read.
August 27, 2018 at 10:39AM

The demand for recognition, Fukuyama says, is the “master concept”  

August 27, 2018 at 10:40AM

Fukuyama covers all of this in less than two hundred pages. How does he do it? Not well.  

Scathing!

Now I have to read it.
August 27, 2018 at 10:41AM

Fukuyama gives this desire for recognition a Greek name, taken from Plato’s Republic: thymos. He says that thymos is “a universal aspect of human nature that has always existed.”  

August 27, 2018 at 10:43AM

To say, as Fukuyama does, that “the desire for status—megalothymia—is rooted in human biology” is the academic equivalent of palmistry. You’re just making it up.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:45AM

Rationality and transparency are the values of classical liberalism. Rationality and transparency are supposed to be what make free markets and democratic elections work. People understand how the system functions, and that allows them to make rational choices.  

But economically, we know there isn’t perfect knowledge or perfect rationality (see Tversky and Khaneman). There is rarely even perfect transparency either which makes things much harder, especially in a post-truth society apparenlty.
August 27, 2018 at 10:48AM

Liberalism remains the ideal political and economic system, but it needs to find ways to accommodate and neutralize this pesky desire for recognition.   

August 27, 2018 at 10:50AM

Enrollment was small, around twenty, but a number of future intellectual luminaries, like Hannah Arendt and Jacques Lacan, either took the class or sat in on it.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:52AM

For Kojève, the key concept in Hegel’s “Phenomenology” was recognition. Human beings want the recognition of other human beings in order to become self-conscious—to know themselves as autonomous individuals.  

This is very reminiscent of Valerie Alexander’s talk last week about recognizing employees at work. How can liberal democracy take advantage of this?
August 27, 2018 at 10:53AM

Kojève thought that the other way was through labor. The slave achieves his sense of self by work that transforms the natural world into a human world. But the slave is driven to labor in the first place because of the master’s refusal to recognize him. This “master-slave dialectic” is the motor of human history, and human history comes to an end when there are no more masters or slaves, and all are recognized equally.  

August 27, 2018 at 10:55AM

Kojève’s lectures were published as “Introduction to the Reading of Hegel,” a book that went through many printings in France.  

Maybe it was Kojève and not Covfefe that Trump was referencing?! 😛
August 27, 2018 at 10:56AM

Encouraged by his friend Saul Bellow, he decided to turn the article into a book. “The Closing of the American Mind,” which Simon & Schuster brought out in February, 1987, launched a campaign of criticism of American higher education that has taken little time off since.  

August 27, 2018 at 11:00AM

In 1992, in the essay “The Politics of Recognition,” Taylor analyzed the advent of multiculturalism in terms similar to the ones Fukuyama uses in “Identity.”  

August 27, 2018 at 11:03AM

Fukuyama acknowledges that identity politics has done some good, and he says that people on the right exaggerate the prevalence of political correctness and the effects of affirmative action.  

There’s a reference to voting theory about people not voting their particular views, but that they’re asking themselves, “Who would someone like me vote for?” Perhaps it’s George Lakoff? I should look this up and tie it in here somewhere.
August 27, 2018 at 11:05AM

He has no interest in the solution that liberals typically adopt to accommodate diversity: pluralism and multiculturalism.  

Interesting to see an IndieWeb principle pop up here! How do other parts dovetail perhaps? What about other movements?
August 27, 2018 at 11:06AM

Fukuyama concedes that people need a sense of national identity, whether ethnic or creedal, but otherwise he remains an assimilationist and a universalist.  

Is it a “national” identity they need? Why not a cultural one, or a personal one? Why not all the identities? What about the broader idea of many publics? Recognition and identity touch on many of these publics for a variety of reasons.
August 27, 2018 at 11:08AM

He wants to iron out differences, not protect them. He suggests measures like a mandatory national-service requirement and a more meaningful path to citizenship for immigrants.  

What if we look at the shrinking number of languages as a microcosm of identity. Are people forced to lose language? Do they not care? What are the other similarities and differences.

Cross reference: https://boffosocko.com/2015/06/08/a-world-of-languages-and-how-many-speak-them-infographic/
August 27, 2018 at 11:10AM

Wouldn’t it be important to distinguish people who ultimately don’t want differences to matter, like the people involved in #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, from people who ultimately do want them to matter, like ISIS militants, Brexit voters, or separatist nationalists? And what about people who are neither Mexican nor immigrants and who feel indignation at the treatment of Mexican immigrants? Black Americans risked their lives for civil rights, but so did white Americans. How would Socrates classify that behavior? Borrowed thymos?  

Some importatnt questions here. They give me some ideas…
August 27, 2018 at 11:12AM

History is somersaults all the way to the end. That’s why it’s so hard to write, and so hard to predict. Unless you’re lucky. ♦  

This is definitely more of a Big History approach…
August 27, 2018 at 11:12AM

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👓 Can We Ever Reset the Field? | Smokey Ardisson

Read Can We Ever Reset the Field? by Smokey ArdissonSmokey Ardisson (ardisson.org)
The rise of the massive corporate-run social networks—silos, where everything was stored inside and nothing left—changed distributed online social relationships. The silos replaced distributed with centralized; all of your social connections were now in one place, making it faster and “easier” to keep up with everyone. Easier in some ways, yes, but now everyone could see every aspect of you, even if you didn’t want them to. Worse, your constant software talk annoyed your bowling-league friends, and your one uncle could not stand the fact you supported the Democratic Party. All of that didn’t happen at once; it took time for these corporate social networks to consume all of your communities, to seize ownership of all of your connections and relationships, transforming something very human into mere pieces of computer data, eventually hollowing out your communities and your humanness in the process. But once it had happened, and once you realized those downsides (and others, such as abuse, Nazis, and anti-democratic propaganda), how could you escape? Was there even anywhere to escape to?

To a large extent, some of the questions and observations in this article are the things that drive me to have my own domain and have my own website. I and many others in the IndieWeb are still working on the infrastructure to support the web we’d like to have instead of the web we’re given. We’re still not there yet, and it may never be the utopia we’re hoping for, but we’ll never get there if we don’t try.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Just like in real life, where your bar trivia team doesn’t really overlap with your work softball team or your church bowling league, all of your online communities gathered in their own places, ones best suited to them, and you didn’t have to act as all facets of yourself simultaneously when trying to only interact with one.  

August 21, 2018 at 01:19PM

our brains have been trained to believe that we want, that we need, a single place where all of “our people” can gather, where it is “easy” to keep up with all of them: a massive network service, just without all the “bad stuff” of the existing ones.  

August 21, 2018 at 01:21PM

You find them in a place that you curate yourself, not one “curated” for you by a massive corporate social network intent on forcing you to be every part of yourself to everyone, all at once. You should control how, when, and where to interact with your people.  

August 21, 2018 at 01:23PM

web we lost  

https://indieweb.org/lost_infrastructure
August 21, 2018 at 01:24PM

we can’t just recreate the same thing we’re trying to escape, and we can’t expect the solution to be precisely as easy on us as the problem was.  

August 21, 2018 at 01:25PM

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👓 We Are All Public Figures Now | Ella Dawson

Read We Are All Public Figures Now by Ella Dawson (Ella Dawson)
A woman gets on a plane. She’s flying from New York to Dallas, where she lives and works as a personal trainer. A couple asks her if she’ll switch seats with one of them so that they can sit together, and she agrees, thinking it’s her good deed for the day. She chats with her new seatmate and ...

This story brings up some interesting questions about private/public as well as control on the internet. Social media is certainly breaking some of our prior social norms.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

To summarize his argument, the media industry wants to broaden our definition of the public so that it will be fair game for discussion and content creation, meaning they can create more articles and videos, meaning they can sell more ads. The tech industry wants everything to be public because coding for privacy is difficult, and because our data, if public, is something they can sell. Our policy makers have failed to define what’s public in this digital age because, well, they don’t understand it and wouldn’t know where to begin. And also, because lobbyists don’t want them to.  

We actively create our public selves, every day, one social media post at a time.  

Even when the attention is positive, it is overwhelming and frightening. Your mind reels at the possibility of what they could find: your address, if your voting records are logged online; your cellphone number, if you accidentally included it on a form somewhere; your unflattering selfies at the beginning of your Facebook photo archive. There are hundreds of Facebook friend requests, press requests from journalists in your Instagram inbox, even people contacting your employer when they can’t reach you directly. This story you didn’t choose becomes the main story of your life. It replaces who you really are as the narrative someone else has written is tattooed onto your skin.  

What Blair did and continues to do as she stokes the flames of this story despite knowing this woman wants no part of it goes beyond intrusive. It is selfish, disrespectful harassment.  

Previously this was under the purview of journalists who typically had some ethics as well as editors to prevent this from happening. Now the average citizen has been given these same tools that journalists always had and they just haven’t been trained in their use.

How can we create some feedback mechanism to improve the situation? Should these same things be used against the perpetrators to show them how bad things could be?  

A friend of mine asked if I’d thought through the contradiction of criticizing Blair publicly like this, when she’s another not-quite public figure too.  

Did this really happen? Or is the author inventing it to diffuse potential criticism as she’s writing about the same story herself and only helping to propagate it?

There’s definitely a need to write about this issue, so kudos for that. Ella also deftly leaves out the name of the mystery woman, I’m sure on purpose. But she does include enough breadcrumbs to make the rest of the story discover-able so that one could jump from here to participate in the piling on. I do appreciate that it doesn’t appear that she’s given Blair any links in the process, which for a story like this is some subtle internet shade.

But Blair is not just posting about her own life; she has taken non-consenting parties along for the ride.  

the woman on the plane has deleted her own Instagram account after receiving violent abuse from the army Blair created.  

Feature request: the ability to make one’s social media account “disappear” temporarily while a public “attack” like this is happening.

We need a great name for this. Publicity ghosting? Fame cloaking?

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