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Politics, polemics, but especially… prediction!

 

Best-selling author and scientist David Brin shares some predictions and discusses how the Republican party benefits from positioning itself against science and other timely matters. For more, visit Brin at his website and blog.

 

Politics, polemics, but especially… prediction!

Courtesy of David Brin, Contrary Brin Blog

This rather personal rundown on ‘the future’ will include predictions (e.g. about flying cars), plus some links to my own recent interviews about looming trends… and will conclude with a micro rant about the Cheneys’ welcome-but-disturbing symbolic presence on the House floor, at the January 6 commemoration.

But first…

Prediction time?

It’s ‘prediction season' again! For example Mark Anderson of the Strategic News Service has one of the most brilliant predictive success records around. See Unveiling SNS's 2022 Predictions

I’ve written extensively about the need for predictions registries and the use of wager demands to hold blowhards accountable. One key benchmark seldom exhibited by pundits is specificity.

Hence: for years I’ve gone on record in many places calling 2023 the Year of the Flying Car… though at first it will likely be hobbyists away from town… plus licensed air-limo services in cities. For the Rich, of course. And watch how that works out!

One of my better recent items: “Repairing the World: is that creative, preserving power in human hands?” I am interviewed by the legendary John Elkington for Green Swans Observatory. (October 2021).  A PDF transcription is available.

I also participated in this report by the World Economic Forum on Positive AI Economic Futures.

"Many computer science experts believe that, in this century, machines will be able to do most tasks better than humans. Given these sorts of predictions, it is important to think about the possible consequences of AI for the future of work and to prepare for different scenarios. Continued progress in these technologies could have disruptive effects: from further exacerbating recent trends in inequality to denying more and more people their sense of purpose and fulfillment in life, given that work is much more than just a source of income."

Politics & economics in the year ahead

Is the USA teetering on the verge of hot civil war? More and more pundits are sadly nodding their heads and saying so. Though I have faith in the loyalty and sagacity of the military officer corps. Still, these eruptions happen almost cyclically, so these links may shed a little light:

- How prophetic author Robert Heinlein predicted pretty much exactly what we are seeing today. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/03/looking-back-at-heinleins-future.html

- My own take on the Eight Phases (so far) of US Civil War.  

Carl von Clausewitz (right) said that most violent struggles happen because one side or the other had a delusional misunderstanding of their opponents, skills and determination. That was the case in all seven previous eruptions, especially the one in the 1860s.

Ah well. One of my most biting essays about politics and economics has been updated and reposted on The Street. As is my wont, I pause often to demand wagers, e.g. whether Supply Side/Thatcherism ever made a successful prediction of positive outcomes. No one ever steps up to bet, proving the cowardice of adherents of that mad cult… but also the polemical stupidity of Keynesians, for not using this simple method to highlight who's been right a lot… vs. who is always, always wrong.

Oh, any guesses why the Street folks chose to conclude the essay with an image of the grave of Karl Marx?

"Former White House strategist Steve Bannon on Monday dug in on this threat that Donald Trump-loyal “shock troops” will move to “deconstruct” the federal government? the minute a Republican takes over the Oval Office again.

“We need to get ready now,” Bannon said on his “War Room” podcast. “We control the country. We’ve got to start acting like it. And one way we’re going to act like it, we’re not going to have 4,000 [shock troops] ready to go, we’re going to have 20,000 ready to go.""

We’ve got anti-vax & climate denialism backwards! 

Everyone (it seems) gets this backward. It's accepted that our fact professions – from science/teaching/journalism/medicine to the 'deep state' intel/military officers – are attacked by the Mad Right in order to prevent action on climate change

Wrong! 

Instead, climate denialism… and anti-vax and the rest … are agitprop used to rile up confed/MAGAs, getting them to aim their resentment at 'elites' of knowledge, rather than the elites of money/lordship who are actually stealing from those poor schlumps. In other words, oligarchy is applying exactly the same trick used by plantation lords in the 1860s to get a million poor whites to march and die for their class oppressors. 

Just watch Fox for a while or listen to Sinclair radio (kremlin) jocks. Vastly more time and energy is spent explicitly attacking nerds in the various fact professions than explicitly attacking races/genders etc. Make that a wager. Moreover, there's a reason for that. While disempowered victims (races/genders/the poor etc.) are hurt most by Mad Right policies, they are not the ones standing in the way of oligarchy's current putsch to grab all world power.

(Think. The powerless aren't the chief worry of the powerful. That is a tautology.)

The empowered clades who are blocking that ambition are the fact and knowledge professions. Including law and civil service and the officer corps and above all scientists. Discrediting the boffins is among the very top oligarchy priorities.

Hence, the anti-vax 'movement' and denialism and all that are inexplicable except in this context, where it suddenly becomes clear WHY the Foxites are deliberately killing thousands of their own followers with a campaign to divert them away from life-saving medicine. If they did not have climate denialism and anti-vax and abortion, they would have to concoct some other cult mythologies to use in the war on nerds.

Stop fracturing the coalition to save democracy and the enlightenment! See "Democracy Cannot survive the fracturing of the Democratic Coalition" by Ian Bassin in The Bulwark

In the early days of the first Trump presidency, our organization cohosted a “Summit for Democracy” at which the keynote speakers were a Democratic senator, a Republican senator, and opposition leaders from Russia, Poland, and Egypt who had experience facing off against autocrats. At the end of the event, the foreign opposition leaders were asked to each give one piece of advice to Americans now facing the specter of authoritarianism. The Polish MP Agnieska Pomaska said this: “Don’t let the opposition fracture.”

Her advice was born of experience. In Poland, the increasingly autocratic ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), initially rose to power in 2015 on only plurality support (35 percent in the first round of voting) because the opposition could not stay united. In Hungary, the autocratic Fidesz Party managed to translate its own plurality support into legislative supermajorities in large part because the Hungarian opposition fractured in the lead-up to both the 2014 and 2018 elections.

Once in power, both PiS and Fidesz then engaged in a program of dismantling democratic institutions and checks and balances.

The conclusion of the Bulwark article: Bassin notes, “In their book How Democracies Die, the Harvard scholars Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt compared four countries’ experiences in interwar Europe. In Belgium and Finland, far-right extremist parties gained some traction after World War I. In both countries, the center-right united with the left to block those anti-democratic parties from ascending further to power. 

In Italy and Germany on the other hand, the center-right in both cases chose not to do that, and instead sought to co-opt the political appeal of rising far-right movements by incorporating them into their ranks. We all know what happened next. Thus far, most pro-democracy Republicans have chosen to try to tame, or co-opt, the rising authoritarians in their midst. This is a mistake. Stopping the next authoritarian attempt will require a broad, united opposition. This unity of purpose is more crucial than any legislation.”

And finally, that mini-rant… 

So, only the Cheneys sat on the right side of the Aisle, as every other Republican member of the House boycotted… um, found ‘important business elsewhere’… when the House met to memorialize officers killed by rioters on 1/6/21. (Rep. Kinzinger had a good excuse.)

Ah, Cheneys. Is the enemy of my enemy anything more than my co-belligerent? Those who pulled the Great Iraq Logistics Scam were the sole, inarguable beneficiaries (along with the Ayatollahs) of the Second Saddam War. So now they say they are fed up with the Trumpist nightmare they helped create?

Sigh and alas, history repeats. Like when the lordly Prussian "Junkers caste" in the 1920s were so sure they could 'control' the brown shirts they had subsidized, only to (around 1936) start murmuring: "what have we done?"??

I am reminded of this from The Sorcerer's Apprentice, from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

Oh, here comes my master! Help me Lord, I plead!?

Spirits I have conjured, no longer pay me heed.

Want some chilling reminders? Start with "So you still think you can control them?" from Cabaret:

Will the Cheneys, Romneys and even Koch & co. prove smarter than those Prussian lords? Or the French nobles of 1789 who refused compromise until the tumbrels rolled? So far, not.

I also recommend the frightening film “Z” by Costa Gavras… though watch to the very end.

*****

Picture of Carl von Clausewitz (above) via Wikipedia. "Carl Philipp Gottfried (or Gottlieb) von Clausewitz (1 June 1780 – 16 November 1831) was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" (meaning, in modern terms, psychological) and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege (About War), was unfinished at his death." Wikipedia. 

Wikipedia: "Z is a 1969 Algerian-French political thriller film, directed by Costa-Gavras, with a screenplay by Gavras and Jorge Semprún, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Vassilis Vassilikos. The film presents a thinly-fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of the democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963. With its dark view of Greek politics and its downbeat ending, the film captures the director's outrage about the junta that then ruled Greece."
 

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