Arrived in my pile

by on October 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm in Books | Permalink

Yuval Levin, The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left.

Cass R. Sunstein, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas.

Price Fishback, Jonathan Rose and Kenneth Snowden, Well Worth Saving: How the New Deal Safeguarded Home Ownership.

Jimmy October 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Will/does Sunstein argue that government should benevolently “nudge” people away from expressing or publishing such ideas?

Steve Sailer October 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Sunstein has a much more hands-on plan, as he outlined in a paper entitled “Conspiracy Theories” in 2008. The government should organize secret conspiracies — “cognitive infiltration” — against conspiracy theorists. Sunstein wrote:

“Second, we suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of those who subscribe to such theories. They do so by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.”

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/01/sunstein-and-agent-provocateurs.html

Urstoff October 20, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Finally, the truth brigade we always needed.

Steve Sailer October 20, 2013 at 8:07 pm

The long history all over the world of government-paid infiltrators turning into agent provocateurs is nothing to worry about.

Rahul October 21, 2013 at 1:54 am

It’s not as if the counterfactual is a world free of infiltrators.

libert October 20, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Don’t look now, but according to this random website, Cass Sunstein is a vampire who wants to eat your organs!

http://hpguplink.proboards.com/thread/316

Steve Sailer October 21, 2013 at 12:05 am

I get all the craziness I need just from reading Mr. Sunstein.

Vangel October 21, 2013 at 8:35 am

After all of the ‘conspiracy theories’ that were dismissed by fools like Sunstein turned out to be true I doubt that we need people like Sunstein determining what should be censored in the name of some ‘public good’. Should we really suppress critics who claim that the LIBOR rate is rigged, that the Fed is bailing out the government and the big brokers by monetizing debt and purchasing impaired mortgage paper, or that the bullion banks are selling paper gold that they do not have to suppress its price?

I can’t figure out when Tyler crossed over to the dark side and moved from being a voice for liberty to one that promoted the state. While the latter may pay much better it is doubtful that it leads to a better legacy.

Steve Sailer October 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Here’s a more recent Sunstein classic from Bloomberg.com about the Bowling Nazi Menace:

“Could Bowling Leagues and the PTA Breed Nazis?”

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2013/09/sunstein-could-bowling-leagues-and-pta.html

dan1111 October 21, 2013 at 10:47 am

It’s a silly, attention-grabbing headline, but all he does is discuss some interesting social research and make some fairly limited claims. Here is his conclusion:

“No one should doubt that private associations are desirable and valuable, and that they can produce a dazzling range of social goods, including checks on the power of government. But Satyanath and his co-authors reveal another possibility: that such associations can facilitate the spread of extremism, ultimately laying the groundwork for serious challenges to democracy itself.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-30/could-bowling-leagues-and-the-pta-breed-nazis-.html

Steve Sailer October 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Perhaps Sunstein should look at himself in the mirror and say, “You know, my friends and I are so powerful that my wife started a war. [Samantha Power, Libya, 2011]. Maybe the real threat of violence is less from bowlers and PTA member nobodies than from the paranoia and lack of common sense of people like me?”

Max R. October 20, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Ha! Yuval Levin’s nonsensical tracing of the historical origins of the left and right is a bunch of pseudo-scholarship not even thinly disguised to support his favored political party and policy proscriptions today. Don’t waste your time with that dreck.

Ray Lopez October 20, 2013 at 11:47 pm

One of these days I’d like to see somebody give TC a reading comprehension test. Does he really recall all these books, speed reading them? Or is he more like Wood Allen reading Lenard Tolstoy’s “Conflict and Peace”? How much of this dreck can one recall accurately? :-)

dan1111 October 21, 2013 at 10:48 am

Speaking of reading comprehension, how do you interpret “arrived in my pile”?

Therapsid October 21, 2013 at 1:14 am

Yuval Levin was born in Israel. No offense to him, but it’s interesting that neo-conservatism’s new intellectual standard bearer isn’t even American born.

mike October 21, 2013 at 6:10 am

How is it interesting, when neoconservatism has always been a foreign (specifically, israeli) ideology?

Cass October 21, 2013 at 8:21 am

See? See what I was going on about?

Sam Leo October 21, 2013 at 10:08 am

I’m surprised by Max R’s view here. I’ve recently finished the galley of Levin’s book and was kind of expecting to find what he says here but was actually very struck by the way he plainly shows and says that Burke offers a rebuke to today’s conservatives, rather than support for them, and that his own party has some serious learning to do. It’s an impressively even-handed treatment, very fair to both Burke and Paine and shows how our understanding of the era of the founding and the French Revolution is vastly oversimplified by today’s ideological prisms. I would recommend it (and maybe I’m not qualified to tell scholarship from pseudo-scholarship, but looking him up it seems like that period was the subject of his doctoral work and later academic work).

libert October 20, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Interesting. By today’s standards of “pro” versus “anti” government, Paine was on the side of the right (pro-Jefferson, pro-French Revolution, pro-revolution) whereas Burke was on the side of the left (more on the side of Washington/Hamilton/Adams, pushing back against the excesses of revolutionaries). On the other hand, Paine supported some of the more socialist tendencies of the French Revolution, endorsing a minimum income, government funded pensions, and the estate tax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agrarian_Justice). I’m curious how “The Great Debate” interprets his nuanced views.

Fazal Majid October 21, 2013 at 1:08 am

Left vs. Right refers to the seating arrangements where political groups gravitated in the French National Assembly in 1789 at the beginnings of the French Revolution. The aristocracy and clergy (supporters of a royal veto right) were to the right of the president, the Jacobins wound up on the left, but they also chose the upper tiers of the hemicycle, thus earning the nickname “montagnards” (centrist moderates were in the lower rungs and called the “plaine”), so Left vs. Right could just as well have been called Top vs. Bottom.

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