Sunday, March 19, 2017

Yuval Noah Harari on the Future of Humanity

The Future of Humanity with Yuval Noah Harari. Video. The Royal Institution, September 28, 2016. YouTube. Q&A.










Yuval Noah Harari: Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets.

Yuval Noah Harari: Techno-Religions and Silicon Prophets | Talks at Google. Video. Talks at Google, February 8, 2015. YouTube.





Yuval Noah Harari on the Myths We Need to Survive.

Yuval Noah Harari on the Myths We Need to Survive. Video. Intelligence Squared, October 23, 2015. YouTube.





Tom Friedman on Thriving in the Age of Acceleration.

Thomas Friedman on Thriving in the Age of Acceleration. Video. Intelligence Squared, January 24, 2017. YouTube.






Thomas L. Friedman: Thank You for Being Late | Talks at Google. Video. Talks at Google, February 22, 2017. YouTube.






Thomas Friedman, Thank You for Being Late. Video. Politics and Prose, December 16, 2016. YouTube.






Thomas Friedman: A Field Guide to the 21st Century. Video. Commonwealth Club, December 8, 2016. YouTube.






Thomas L. Friedman: Thank You for Being Late. Video. Oxford Martin School, February 2, 2017. YouTube.






Thomas L. Friedman: Learning to Live in an Age of Acceleration. Video. TownHallSeattle, December 5, 2016. YouTube.





Donald Trump Pays Tribute to Andrew Jackson on His 250th Birthday.

Remarks by President Trump on the 250th Anniversary of the Birth of President Andrew Jackson. Video. The White House, March 15, 2017. YouTube. Transcript.

Historian Daniel Feller Recaps Trump’s Speech at the Hermitage. The University of Tennessee Knoxville, March 17, 2017.

Like Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump is an intensely American president. By Newt Gingrich. FoxNews.com, March 23, 2017.






Transcript:

The Hermitage
Nashville, Tennessee

4:44 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Wow, what a nice visit this was.  Inspirational visit, I have to tell you. I’m a fan.  I’m a big fan.

I want to thank Howard Kettell, Francis Spradley of the Andrew Jackson Foundation, and all of the foundation’s incredible employees and supporters for preserving this great landmark, which is what it is -- it’s a landmark of our national heritage.

And a special thank you to Governor Bill Haslam and his incredible wife, who -- we just rode over together -- and Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, two great friends of mine, been a big, big help.  Both incredible guys.

In my address to Congress, I looked forward nine years, to the 250th anniversary of American Independence.  Today, I call attention to another anniversary: the 250th birthday of the very great Andrew Jackson.  (Applause.)  And he loved Tennessee, and so do I -- to tell you that.  (Applause.)

On this day in 1767, Andrew Jackson was born on the backwoods soil of the Carolinas.  From poverty and obscurity, Jackson rose to glory and greatness -- first as a military leader, and then as the seventh President of the United States.
He did it with courage, with grit, and with patriotic heart.  And by the way, he was one of our great Presidents.  (Applause.)

Jackson was the son of the frontier.  His father died before he was born.  His brother died fighting the British in the American Revolution.  And his mother caught a fatal illness while tending to the wounded troops.  At the age of 14, Andrew Jackson was an orphan, and look what he was able to do.  Look what he was able to build.

It was during the Revolution that Jackson first confronted and defied an arrogant elite.  Does that sound familiar to you?  (Laughter.)  I wonder why they keep talking about Trump and Jackson, Jackson and Trump.  Oh, I know the feeling, Andrew.  (Laughter.)

Captured by the Redcoats and ordered to shine the boots of a British officer, Jackson simply refused.  The officer took his saber and slashed at Jackson, leaving gashes in his head and hand that remained permanent scars for the rest of his life.  These were the first and far from the last blows that Andrew Jackson took for his country that he loved so much.

From that day on, Andrew Jackson rejected authority that looked down on the common people.  First as a boy, when he bravely served the Revolutionary cause.  Next, as the heroic victor at New Orleans where his ragtag -- and it was ragtag -- militia, but they were tough.  And they drove the British imperial forces from America in a triumphant end to the War of 1812.  He was a real general, that one.

And, finally, as President -- when he reclaimed the people’s government from an emerging aristocracy.  Jackson’s victory shook the establishment like an earthquake.  Henry Clay, Secretary of State for the defeated President John Quincy Adams, called Jackson’s victory “mortifying and sickening”.  Oh, boy, does this sound familiar.  (Laughter.)  Have we heard this?  (Laughter.)  This is terrible.  He said there had been “no greater calamity” in the nation’s history.

The political class in Washington had good reason to fear Jackson’s great triumph.  “The rich and powerful,” Jackson said, “too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.”  Jackson warned they had turned government into an “engine for the support of the few at the expense of the many.”

Andrew Jackson was the People’s President, and his election came at a time when the vote was finally being extended to those who did not own property.  To clean out the bureaucracy, Jackson removed 10 percent of the federal workforce.  He launched a campaign to sweep out government corruption.  Totally.  He didn’t want government corruption.  He expanded benefits for veterans.  He battled the centralized financial power that brought influence at our citizens’ expense.  He imposed tariffs on foreign countries to protect American workers.  That sounds very familiar.  Wait till you see what’s going to be happening pretty soon, folks.  (Laughter.)  It’s time.  It’s time. 

Andrew Jackson was called many names, accused of many things, and by fighting for change, earned many, many enemies.  Today the portrait of this orphan son who rose to the presidency hangs proudly in the Oval Office, opposite the portrait of another great American, Thomas Jefferson.  I brought the Andrew Jackson portrait there.  (Applause.)  Right behind me, right -- boom, over my left shoulder. 

Now I’m honored to sit between those two portraits and to use this high office to serve, defend, and protect the citizens of the United States.  It is my great honor.  I will tell you that.

From that desk I can see out the wonderful, beautiful, large great window to an even greater magnolia tree, standing strong and tall across the White House lawn.  That tree was planted there many years ago, when it was just a sprout carried from these very grounds.  Came right from here.  (Applause.)  Beautiful tree.

That spout was nourished, it took root, and on this, his 250th birthday, Andrew Jackson’s magnolia is a sight to behold.  I looked at it actually this morning.  Really beautiful.  (Applause.)  

But the growth of that beautiful tree is nothing compared to growth of our beautiful nation.  That growth has been made possible because more and more of our people have been given their dignity as equals under law and equals in the eyes of God.

Andrew Jackson as a military hero and genius and a beloved President.  But he was also a flawed and imperfect man, a product of his time.  It is the duty of each generation to carry on the fight for justice.  My administration will work night and day to ensure that the sacred rights which God has bestowed on His children are protected for each and every one of you, for each and every American.  (Applause.)

We must all remember Jackson’s words:  that in “the planter, the farmer, the mechanic, and the laborer,” we will find muscle and bone of our country.  So true.  So true. 

Now, we must work in our time to expand -- and we have to do that because we have no choice.  Were going to make America great again, folks.  We’re going to make America great again -- (applause) -- to expand the blessings of America to every citizen in our land.  And when we do, watch us grow.  Watch what’s happening.  You see it happening already.  You see it with our great military.  You see it with our great markets.  You see it with our incredible business people.  You see it with the level of enthusiasm that they haven’t seen in many years.  People are proud again of our country.  And you're going to get prouder and prouder and prouder, I can promise you that.  (Applause.)

And watch us grow.  We will truly be one nation, with deep roots, a strong core, and a very new springtime of American greatness yet to come.

Andrew Jackson, we thank you for your service.  We honor you for your memory.  We build on your legacy.  And we thank God for the United States of America.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.) 

END

4:54 P.M. CDT


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Death Is Optional. By Yuval Noah Harari and Daniel Kahneman.

Death Is Optional. By Yuval Noah Harari and Daniel Kahneman. Edge, March 4, 2015. Video at YouTube.

The Case for Old Ideas. By Ross Douthat. New York Times, March 7, 2015. Commenting on Harari and Kahneman.






Thursday, March 9, 2017

Yuval Noah Harari on Nationalism vs Globalism.

Nationalism vs. Globalism: The New Political Divide | Yuval Noah Harari. Video. TED, February 21, 2017. YouTube. Also at Real Clear Politics.




Transcript excerpt from RCP:

Israeli professor at the Department of History of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Yuval Noah Harari speaks with TED about the new political divide around the world: nationalism vs. globalism.

Via TED: “How do we make sense of today's political divisions? In a wide-ranging conversation full of insight, historian Yuval Harari places our current turmoil in a broader context, against the ongoing disruption of our technology, climate, media – even our notion of what humanity is for. This is the first of a series of TED Dialogues, seeking a thoughtful response to escalating political divisiveness. Make time (just over an hour) for this fascinating discussion between Harari and TED curator Chris Anderson.”

“I think the basic thing that happened is we have lost our story. Humans think in stories and we try to make sense of the world by telling stories,” the historian said. “And for the last few decades we had a very simple and very attractive story about what was happening in the world. And the story said that the economy is being globalized, politics is being liberalized, and the combination of the two will create paradise on earth. And we just need to keep globalizing the economy and liberalizing the political system, and everything will be wonderful.”

“2016 is when a very large segment of the Western world stopped believing in this story,” he said. “For good or bad reason it doesn’t matter, people stopped believing the story, and when you don'’ have a story it is hard to understand what is happening.”

“The old 20th century political model of left vs. right is now basically irrelevant and the real divide today is between global and national, global or local. All over the world this is not the main struggle.”



Yuval Noah Harari on Homo Deus.

Yuval Noah Harari on the Rise of Homo Deus. Video. iqsquared, September 15, 2016. YouTube.






Yuval Noah Harari: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Video. Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, February 28, 2017. YouTube. Transcript.





Yuval Noah Harari with Dan Ariely: Future Think--From Sapiens to Homo Deus. Video. 92nd Street Y, February 22, 2017. YouTube.







A Brief History of Tomorrow | Yuval Noah Harari | RSA Replay. Video. The RSA, September 8, 2016. YouTube.





Monday, March 6, 2017

The Exhaustion of American Liberalism. By Shelby Steele.

The Exhaustion of American Liberalism. By Shelby Steele. Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2017.

Steele:

White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority.

The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trump presidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos. Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy—hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and an hysterical anti-Americanism.

All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending?

America, since the ’60s, has lived through what might be called an age of white guilt. We may still be in this age, but the Trump election suggests an exhaustion with the idea of white guilt, and with the drama of culpability, innocence and correctness in which it mires us.

White guilt is not actual guilt. Surely most whites are not assailed in the night by feelings of responsibility for America’s historical mistreatment of minorities. Moreover, all the actual guilt in the world would never be enough to support the hegemonic power that the mere pretense of guilt has exercised in American life for the last half-century.

White guilt is not angst over injustices suffered by others; it is the terror of being stigmatized with America’s old bigotries—racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. To be stigmatized as a fellow traveler with any of these bigotries is to be utterly stripped of moral authority and made into a pariah. The terror of this, of having “no name in the street” as the Bible puts it, pressures whites to act guiltily even when they feel no actual guilt. White guilt is a mock guilt, a pretense of real guilt, a shallow etiquette of empathy, pity and regret.

It is also the heart and soul of contemporary liberalism. This liberalism is the politics given to us by white guilt, and it shares white guilt’s central corruption. It is not real liberalism, in the classic sense. It is a mock liberalism. Freedom is not its raison d’ĂȘtre; moral authority is.

When America became stigmatized in the ’60s as racist, sexist and militaristic, it wanted moral authority above all else. Subsequently the American left reconstituted itself as the keeper of America’s moral legitimacy. (Conservatism, focused on freedom and wealth, had little moral clout.) From that followed today’s markers of white guilt—political correctness, identity politics, environmental orthodoxy, the diversity cult and so on.

This was the circumstance in which innocence of America’s bigotries and dissociation from the American past became a currency of hardcore political power. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, good liberals both, pursued power by offering their candidacies as opportunities for Americans to document their innocence of the nation’s past. “I had to vote for Obama,” a rock-ribbed Republican said to me. “I couldn’t tell my grandson that I didn’t vote for the first black president.”

For this man liberalism was a moral vaccine that immunized him against stigmatization. For Mr. Obama it was raw political power in the real world, enough to lift him—unknown and untested—into the presidency. But for Mrs. Clinton, liberalism was not enough. The white guilt that lifted Mr. Obama did not carry her into office—even though her opponent was soundly stigmatized as an iconic racist and sexist.

Perhaps the Obama presidency was the culmination of the age of white guilt, so that this guiltiness has entered its denouement. There are so many public moments now in which liberalism’s old weapon of stigmatization shoots blanks—Elizabeth Warren in the Senate reading a 30-year-old letter by Coretta Scott King, hoping to stop Jeff Sessions’s appointment as attorney general. There it was with deadly predictability: a white liberal stealing moral authority from a black heroine in order to stigmatize a white male as racist. When Ms. Warren was finally told to sit, there was real mortification behind her glaring eyes.

This liberalism evolved within a society shamed by its past. But that shame has weakened now. Our new conservative president rolls his eyes when he is called a racist, and we all—liberal and conservative alike—know that he isn’t one. The jig is up. Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face. I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door. It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.

This is the reality that made Ms. Warren’s attack on Mr. Sessions so tiresome. And it is what caused so many Democrats at President Trump’s address to Congress to look a little mortified, defiantly proud but dark with doubt. The sight of them was a profound moment in American political history.

Today’s liberalism is an anachronism. It has no understanding, really, of what poverty is and how it has to be overcome. It has no grip whatever on what American exceptionalism is and what it means at home and especially abroad. Instead it remains defined by an America of 1965—an America newly opening itself to its sins, an America of genuine goodwill, yet lacking in self-knowledge.

This liberalism came into being not as an ideology but as an identity. It offered Americans moral esteem against the specter of American shame. This made for a liberalism devoted to the idea of American shamefulness. Without an ugly America to loathe, there is no automatic esteem to receive. Thus liberalism’s unrelenting current of anti-Americanism.

Let’s stipulate that, given our history, this liberalism is understandable. But American liberalism never acknowledged that it was about white esteem rather than minority accomplishment. Four thousand shootings in Chicago last year, and the mayor announces that his will be a sanctuary city. This is moral esteem over reality; the self-congratulation of idealism. Liberalism is exhausted because it has become a corruption.


Friday, January 20, 2017

The Jacksonian Revolt: American Populism and the Liberal Order. By Walter Russell Mead.



A woman smiles after getting an autograph by Donald Trump on her hat at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker.


The Jacksonian Revolt: American Populism and the Liberal Order. By Walter Russell Mead. Foreign Affairs, January 20, 2017.

Mead:

For the first time in 70 years, the American people have elected a president who disparages the policies, ideas, and institutions at the heart of postwar U.S. foreign policy. No one knows how the foreign policy of the Trump administration will take shape, or how the new president’s priorities and preferences will shift as he encounters the torrent of events and crises ahead. But not since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration has U.S. foreign policy witnessed debates this fundamental.

Since World War II, U.S. grand strategy has been shaped by two major schools of thought, both focused on achieving a stable international system with the United States at the center. Hamiltonians believed that it was in the American interest for the United States to replace the United Kingdom as “the gyroscope of world order,” in the words of President Woodrow Wilson’s adviser Edward House during World War I, putting the financial and security architecture in place for a reviving global economy after World War II—something that would both contain the Soviet Union and advance U.S. interests. When the Soviet Union fell, Hamiltonians responded by doubling down on the creation of a global liberal order, understood primarily in economic terms.

Wilsonians, meanwhile, also believed that the creation of a global liberal order was a vital U.S. interest, but they conceived of it in terms of values rather than economics. Seeing corrupt and authoritarian regimes abroad as a leading cause of conflict and violence, Wilsonians sought peace through the promotion of human rights, democratic governance, and the rule of law. In the later stages of the Cold War, one branch of this camp, liberal institutionalists, focused on the promotion of international institutions and ever-closer global integration, while another branch, neoconservatives, believed that a liberal agenda could best be advanced through Washington’s unilateral efforts (or in voluntary conjunction with like-minded partners).

The disputes between and among these factions were intense and consequential, but they took place within a common commitment to a common project of global order. As that project came under increasing strain in recent decades, however, the unquestioned grip of the globalists on U.S. foreign policy thinking began to loosen. More nationalist, less globally minded voices began to be heard, and a public increasingly disenchanted with what it saw as the costly failures the global order-building project began to challenge what the foreign policy establishment was preaching. The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian schools of thought, prominent before World War II but out of favor during the heyday of the liberal order, have come back with a vengeance.

Jeffersonians, including today’s so-called realists, argue that reducing the United States’ global profile would reduce the costs and risks of foreign policy. They seek to define U.S. interests narrowly and advance them in the safest and most economical ways. Libertarians take this proposition to its limits and find allies among many on the left who oppose interventionism, want to cut military spending, and favor redeploying the government’s efforts and resources at home. Both Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas seemed to think that they could surf the rising tide of Jeffersonian thinking during the Republican presidential primary. But Donald Trump sensed something that his political rivals failed to grasp: that the truly surging force in American politics wasn’t Jeffersonian minimalism. It was Jacksonian populist nationalism.

IDENTITY POLITICS BITE BACK

The distinctively American populism Trump espouses is rooted in the thought and culture of the country’s first populist president, Andrew Jackson. For Jacksonians—who formed the core of Trump’s passionately supportive base—the United States is not a political entity created and defined by a set of intellectual propositions rooted in the Enlightenment and oriented toward the fulfillment of a universal mission. Rather, it is the nation-state of the American people, and its chief business lies at home. Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, or even as a function of a unique American vocation to transform the world, but rather as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens. The role of the U.S. government, Jacksonians believe, is to fulfill the country’s destiny by looking after the physical security and economic well-being of the American people in their national home—and to do that while interfering as little as possible with the individual freedom that makes the country unique.

Jacksonian populism is only intermittently concerned with foreign policy, and indeed it is only intermittently engaged with politics more generally. It took a particular combination of forces and trends to mobilize it this election cycle, and most of those were domestically focused. In seeking to explain the Jacksonian surge, commentators have looked to factors such as wage stagnation, the loss of good jobs for unskilled workers, the hollowing out of civic life, a rise in drug use—conditions many associate with life in blighted inner cities that have spread across much of the country. But this is a partial and incomplete view. Identity and culture have historically played a major role in American politics, and 2016 was no exception. Jacksonian America felt itself to be under siege, with its values under attack and its future under threat. Trump—flawed as many Jacksonians themselves believed him to be—seemed the only candidate willing to help fight for its survival.

For Jacksonian America, certain events galvanize intense interest and political engagement, however brief. One of these is war; when an enemy attacks, Jacksonians spring to the country’s defense. The most powerful driver of Jacksonian political engagement in domestic politics, similarly, is the perception that Jacksonians are being attacked by internal enemies, such as an elite cabal or immigrants from different backgrounds. Jacksonians worry about the U.S. government being taken over by malevolent forces bent on transforming the United States’ essential character. They are not obsessed with corruption, seeing it as an ineradicable part of politics. But they care deeply about what they see as perversion—when politicians try to use the government to oppress the people rather than protect them. And that is what many Jacksonians came to feel was happening in recent years, with powerful forces in the American elite, including the political establishments of both major parties, in cahoots against them.

Many Jacksonians came to believe that the American establishment was no longer reliably patriotic, with “patriotism” defined as an instinctive loyalty to the well-being and values of Jacksonian America. And they were not wholly wrong, by their lights. Many Americans with cosmopolitan sympathies see their main ethical imperative as working for the betterment of humanity in general. Jacksonians locate their moral community closer to home, in fellow citizens who share a common national bond. If the cosmopolitans see Jacksonians as backward and chauvinistic, Jacksonians return the favor by seeing the cosmopolitan elite as near treasonous—people who think it is morally questionable to put their own country, and its citizens, first.

Jacksonian distrust of elite patriotism has been increased by the country’s selective embrace of identity politics in recent decades. The contemporary American scene is filled with civic, political, and academic movements celebrating various ethnic, racial, gender, and religious identities. Elites have gradually welcomed demands for cultural recognition by African Americans, Hispanics, women, the lgbtq community, Native Americans, Muslim Americans. Yet the situation is more complex for most Jacksonians, who don’t see themselves as fitting neatly into any of those categories.

Whites who organize around their specific European ethnic roots can do so with little pushback; Italian Americans and Irish Americans, for example, have long and storied traditions in the parade of American identity groups. But increasingly, those older ethnic identities have faded, and there are taboos against claiming a generic European American or white identity. Many white Americans thus find themselves in a society that talks constantly about the importance of identity, that values ethnic authenticity, that offers economic benefits and social advantages based on identity—for everybody but them. For Americans of mixed European background or for the millions who think of themselves simply as American, there are few acceptable ways to celebrate or even connect with one’s heritage.

There are many reasons for this, rooted in a complex process of intellectual reflection over U.S. history, but the reasons don’t necessarily make intuitive sense to unemployed former factory workers and their families. The growing resistance among many white voters to what they call “political correctness” and a growing willingness to articulate their own sense of group identity can sometimes reflect racism, but they need not always do so. People constantly told that they are racist for thinking in positive terms about what they see as their identity, however, may decide that racist is what they are, and that they might as well make the best of it. The rise of the so-called alt-right is at least partly rooted in this dynamic.

The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the scattered, sometimes violent expressions of anti-police sentiment displayed in recent years compounded the Jacksonians’ sense of cultural alienation, and again, not simply because of race. Jacksonians instinctively support the police, just as they instinctively support the military. Those on the frontlines protecting society sometimes make mistakes, in this view, but mistakes are inevitable in the heat of combat, or in the face of crime. It is unfair and even immoral, many Jacksonians believe, to ask soldiers or police officers to put their lives on the line and face great risks and stress, only to have their choices second-guessed by armchair critics. Protests that many Americans saw as a quest for justice, therefore, often struck Jacksonians as attacks on law enforcement and public order.

Gun control and immigration were two other issues that crystallized the perception among many voters that the political establishments of both parties had grown hostile to core national values. Non-Jacksonians often find it difficult to grasp the depth of the feelings these issues stir up and how proposals for gun control and immigration reform reinforce suspicions about elite control and cosmopolitanism.

The right to bear arms plays a unique and hallowed role in Jacksonian political culture, and many Jacksonians consider the Second Amendment to be the most important in the Constitution. These Americans see the right of revolution, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, as the last resort of a free people to defend themselves against tyranny—and see that right as unenforceable without the possibility of bearing arms. They regard a family’s right to protect itself without reliance on the state, meanwhile, as not just a hypothetical ideal but a potential practical necessity—and something that elites don’t care about or even actively oppose. (Jacksonians have become increasingly concerned that Democrats and centrist Republicans will try to disarm them, which is one reason why mass shootings and subsequent calls for gun control spur spikes in gun sales, even as crime more generally has fallen.)

As for immigration, here, too, most non-Jacksonians misread the source and nature of Jacksonian concern. There has been much discussion about the impact of immigration on the wages of low-skilled workers and some talk about xenophobia and Islamophobia. But Jacksonians in 2016 saw immigration as part of a deliberate and conscious attempt to marginalize them in their own country. Hopeful talk among Democrats about an “emerging Democratic majority” based on a secular decline in the percentage of the voting population that is white was heard in Jacksonian America as support for a deliberate transformation of American demographics. When Jacksonians hear elites’ strong support for high levels of immigration and their seeming lack of concern about illegal immigration, they do not immediately think of their pocketbooks. They see an elite out to banish them from power—politically, culturally, demographically. The recent spate of dramatic random terrorist attacks, finally, fused the immigration and personal security issues into a single toxic whole.

In short, in November, many Americans voted their lack of confidence—not in a particular party but in the governing classes more generally and their associated global cosmopolitan ideology. Many Trump voters were less concerned with pushing a specific program than with stopping what appeared to be the inexorable movement of their country toward catastrophe.

THE ROAD AHEAD

What all of this means for U.S. foreign policy remains to be seen. Many previous presidents have had to revise their ideas substantially after reaching the Oval Office; Trump may be no exception. Nor is it clear just what the results would be of trying to put his unorthodox policies into practice. (Jacksonians can become disappointed with failure and turn away from even former heroes they once embraced; this happened to President George W. Bush, and it could happen to Trump, too.)

At the moment, Jacksonians are skeptical about the United States’ policy of global engagement and liberal order building—but more from a lack of trust in the people shaping foreign policy than from a desire for a specific alternative vision. They oppose recent trade agreements not because they understand the details and consequences of those extremely complex agreements’ terms but because they have come to believe that the negotiators of those agreements did not necessarily have the United States’ interests at heart. Most Jacksonians are not foreign policy experts and do not ever expect to become experts. For them, leadership is necessarily a matter of trust. If they believe in a leader or a political movement, they are prepared to accept policies that seem counter-intuitive and difficult.

They no longer have such trust in the American establishment, and unless and until it can be restored, they will keep Washington on a short leash. To paraphrase what the neoconservative intellectual Irving Kristol wrote about Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1952, there is one thing that Jacksonians know about Trump—that he is unequivocally on their side. About their country’s elites, they feel they know no such thing. And their concerns are not all illegitimate, for the United States’ global order-building project is hardly flourishing.

Over the past quarter century, Western policymakers became infatuated with some dangerously oversimplified ideas. They believed capitalism had been tamed and would no longer generate economic, social, or political upheavals. They felt that illiberal ideologies and political emotions had been left in the historical dustbin and were believed only by “bitter” losers—people who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them . . . as a way to explain their frustrations,” as Barack Obama famously put it in 2008. Time and the normal processes of history would solve the problem; constructing a liberal world order was simply a matter of working out the details.

Given such views, many recent developments—from the 9/11 attacks and the war on terrorism to the financial crisis to the recent surge of angry nationalist populism on both sides of the Atlantic—came as a rude surprise. It is increasingly clear that globalization and automation have helped break up the socioeconomic model that undergirded postwar prosperity and domestic social peace, and that the next stage of capitalist development will challenge the very foundations of both the global liberal order and many of its national pillars.

In this new world disorder, the power of identity politics can no longer be denied. Western elites believed that in the twenty-first century, cosmopolitanism and globalism would triumph over atavism and tribal loyalties. They failed to understand the deep roots of identity politics in the human psyche and the necessity for those roots to find political expression in both foreign and domestic policy arenas. And they failed to understand that the very forces of economic and social development that cosmopolitanism and globalization fostered would generate turbulence and eventually resistance, as Gemeinschaft (community) fought back against the onrushing Gesellschaft (market society), in the classic terms sociologists favored a century ago.

The challenge for international politics in the days ahead is therefore less to complete the task of liberal world order building along conventional lines than to find a way to stop the liberal order’s erosion and reground the global system on a more sustainable basis. International order needs to rest not just on elite consensus and balances of power and policy but also on the free choices of national communities—communities that need to feel protected from the outside world as much as they want to benefit from engaging with it.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Thomas Friedman: “I Am For A High Wall With A Big Gate.”

Thomas Friedman: “I Am For a High Wall With a Big Gate.” Interviewed by Tucker Carlson. Video. Real Clear Politics, January 9, 2017. YouTube.





RCP Transcript:

TUCKER CARLSON: Technology leads to isolation... It’s easy for us, who are thriving, relatively speaking, in this economy. But the idea that people who are displaced by technology are going to seamlessly or at all find a place in this new order is really hard to believe. You can teach a farmer to run a drill pass, you can’t teach one to write code. Or a cable news host to write code. You just can’t. So what about those people?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Because my point is I don’t think that we’re going to be the cutting edge of the jobs. I think the best jobs are going to be these people-to-people jobs.

Yes, some people write code. Unfortunately, computers will soon be writing a lot of our code.

CARLSON: Exactly.

FRIEDMAN: I think we’re going to see a whole new set of jobs and industries really around the heart, connecting people to people, it may be through restaurants, through entertainment. Think of our generation, how many people are going to need elder care as the baby boomers retire. So I’m much more optimistic about these new jobs.

CARLSON: And I’m glad you’re optimistic. I am not. But I am glad that somebody is. I don’t understand at a moment of change this profound why you would want to add demographic and cultural and economic change on top of economic change. And I know it benefits a small number of employers who want cheaper labor. But why would you want to let in low-skilled labor, no promise for participating in this new economy, how does that help anybody?

FRIEDMAN: My view on openness in general, I say in the book and have always said I am for a high wall with a big gate. I believe our country has to control its borders. I’m a big believer in that. But I also believe that what has made America great is we’ve accrued more high IQ risk takers than any country in the world. And high-energy risk takers – the lower skilled, the higher the energy. That’s what made us great.

CARLSON: Shouldn’t we screen for them? Because our current immigration system says that if you have a relative you get to come. Shouldn’t we say, wait a second, are you impressive or not?

FRIEDMAN: That may be, I’m really agnostic on how we best bring in these people. But what I would hate to see us do, Tucker, is to close off America as this giant magnet. We are who we are as a country because we've attracted more of these risk takers. My great grandparents and somewhere your great grandparents, they left somewhere bad and came to somewhere they thought were better.



What Is Trumpism? By Victor Davis Hanson.





What Is Trumpism? By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, January 10, 2017.

Trumpism is the latest incarnation of Jacksonianism.

Hanson:

First sketches of a list, starting with tradition, populism, and American greatness.

Donald Trump is hated by liberal Democrats because, among other things, he is likely to reverse the entire Obama project. And, far worse, he probably will seek fundamental ways of obstructing its future resurgence — even perhaps by peeling off traditional Democratic constituencies.

The proverbial mainstream media despise Trump. Culturally, he has become a totem of their fears: coarseness, ostentatiousness, flamboyance, and the equation of big money with taste and success. His new approach to the media may make them irrelevant, and they fear their downfall could be well earned.

The Republican Washington–to–New York establishment is alienated by Trump. It finds his behavior reckless and his ideology unpredictable — especially given his cruel destruction of in-house Republican candidates in the primaries and his past flirtations with liberal ideas and politicians. That he has now brought them more opportunity for conservative political change than any Republican candidate in a century only adds insult to their sense of injury.

Note the common denominator to the all these hostile groups: It is Trump the man, not Trump the avatar of some political movement that they detest. After all, there are no Trump political philosophers. There is no slate of down-ballot Trump ideologues. If Trump were to start a third party, what would be its chief tenets? There is as yet neither a Trump “Contract for America” nor a Trump “First Principles” manifesto. 

Nonetheless, from the 2016 campaign and from President-elect Trump’s slated appointments, past interviews, and tweets, we can see a coherent worldview emerging, something different from both orthodox conservativism and liberalism, though certainly Trumpism is far closer to the former than to the latter. Here may be a few outlines of Trumpist thought.

Tradition

Trumpism promotes traditionalism. Trump showcases “Merry Christmas!” because his parents did. He believes in dressing formally and being addressed as Mr. Trump. And he insists that his children be well-behaved and polite.

You might object that Trump is thrice-married, Petronian in his tastes, and ethically sloppy or worse in his own business dealings. No matter: Trump seeks a return to normalcy all the more. His personal excesses apparently spur his impulses for traditional norms.

Perhaps Trump is like many Baby Boomers as they enter their final decades: They look back at their parents and grandparents, and wonder how they put up with their offspring — and see how far this generation has fallen short of their forebears’ ideals, which in turn sparks a desire for a return to normalcy in the wayward. Deists were believers in the abstract who otherwise shunned a living Christianity yet thought that active religion had social value for others. Similarly, Trump is a non-practicing moralist who believes traditional morality can restore structure and guidance to society.

So Trump is foul-mouthed but wants a return of decorum; he has been conniving but thinks his own recklessness is not necessarily a model for the nation.

Populism vs. Elitism

The billionaire Trump won by going after elites of both parties —attacking the protected classes of the Left as politically correct snobs, and those of the Right as crony capitalists (Trump confessed that it took one to spot one) or as uppity no-fun scolds and professional Washington hacks and political handlers.

By “elites,” Trump certainly did not mean plutocrats like himself or the various grandees he has appointed to his cabinet.

How does he square that circle? For Trump, there are apparently good elites like himself and then the rest, the bad elites. The dividing line is not income, status, or lifestyle per se, but whether one advocates one thing for others and quite another for oneself. Trump is rich and unabashedly likes what riches can bring, and he claims that he wants average Americans to have their own version of a Trump Tower existence.

He is not Al Gore urging Middle Americans to drive less while he flies on his Gulfstream private jets, or Barack Obama who loves exclusive, expensive Sidwell Friends prep school for his own children but opposes charter-school choices for the less fortunate, or a Senator Barbara Boxer who lives in an irrigated desert oasis but seeks to stop contracted water transfers for those who grow food rather than lawn turf.

In the next four years, expect a continual war on intellectuals and academics (who, not surprisingly, are almost absent from the Trump cabinet), the media, the political establishment, and the progressive class in general, whose lavish lifestyle and preachy rhetoric are irreconcilable.

So it is not privilege that Trumpism targets, but rather the hypocrisies of privilege, of those who seek to avoid the natural consequences of their own ideology. He is no friend to the exalted who virtue-signal, at the expense of others, in order to assuage the guilt for the own rarified existence. When Trump put on his red cap and too-long tie — with his orange skin, yellow comb-over, and Queens accent — and bragged about his tremendous wealth, awesome companies, and huge successes, he came across to millions as authentic and unapologetic about his own success. Trump can be outrageous, but his tweets and invective seem less outrageous than Obama’s combo of Ivy League smugness and too-cool-for-school interviews with GloZell, and Obama’s infatuation with rapper Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.

National Greatness

Nationalism is another Trump axiom — the deliberate antithesis to the progressive and Socratic idea of being “a citizen of the world.” In Trump’s mind, the U.S. is a paradise thanks to its exceptional values and the hard work of past generations; the mess elsewhere (to the degree Trump worries about it) is due to human failing that is not America’s fault. Trump laments self-inflicted misery abroad but feels that he and his country are not culpable for it, and, other than Good Samarian disaster or famine relief, we cannot do too much about it in the long term.

If Mexico wants good jobs or Europe seeks to re-arm, then they can first make their own necessary adjustments to give them what they need without necessarily involving the U.S., whose first obligation is to make sure that its own citizens are well, secure, and employed. It seems that in Trump’s view, America’s poor and forgotten have claims on this country’s attention that far outweigh those of the illegal immigrant or the globe-trotting internationalist; the lathe worker in Des Moines and the real estate broker in Manhattan, by virtue of being American, deserve more of Washington’s attention than international bureaucrats or foreign royals. The least American is preferable to the greatest foreigner.

To the Left, this is xenophobic, nativist, and Peronist; in the Trump mind, it is a long-overdue pushback against 21st-centurty globalism. Good borders make good neighbors; illegal immigrants who arrive by breaking the law will certainly keep breaking the law to stay. Americans cannot pick and choose which American laws to follow; why would they allow foreigners to do what they themselves cannot and should not do?

Making Stuff

Trump is a pragmatist in another way: his unapologetic deference to 19th-century muscular labor and those who employ and organize it. Though we are well into the 21st-century informational age, Trump apparently believes that the age-old industries — steel, drilling, construction, farming, mining, logging — are still noble and necessary pursuits. Using one’s hands or one’s mind to create something concrete and real is valuable in and of itself, and a much-needed antidote to the Pajama Boy–Ivy League culture of abstraction.

Silicon Valley, the marquee universities, and progressive ideologues might dismiss these producers as polluting dinosaurs, but all of them also rely on forgotten others to fuel their Priuses, bring them their kitchen counters, their hardwood floors, and their evening cabernet and arugula and, 12 hours later, their morning yogurt and granola. The producers acknowledge the equal importance of Apple and Google in a way that is never quite reciprocated by Silicon Valley.

In other words, expect Trumpism to champion fracking, logging, Keystone, “clean” coal, highway construction, the return of contracted irrigation water to its farmers, the retention of federal grazing lands for cattlemen — not just because in Trump’s view these industries are valuable sources of material wealth for the nation but also because they empower the sort of people who are the antidote to what America is becoming.

Abroad

On matters of foreign policy, Trump is not a realist, isolationist, or neoconservative, although at times he can sound like all that and more. Instead, he is a Jacksonian who wants a huge club at the Department of Defense largely to ensure that he’ll never have to use it. And if he is pushed to swing it, he wants to flatten any who would hurt the U.S.

Many of us are skeptical of such Whac-A-Mole punishments, or the idea that bombing the “sh**” out of an enemy while getting nowhere near him will solve the problem. But we are thinking conventionally and historically. Trump, in contrast, does not believe that foreign enemies and terrorists need be persuaded, through long-term nation-building projects of what is in their own interests. He instead assumes that you beat down (only existential) threats the way you regularly mow your lawn (and you always will have to mow your lawn). If you don’t mow, the lawn grows rank, ugly, and unmanageable. We should no more complain that the grass always grows back than we should whine that Iran lies or promotes terrorism

Trump assumes that the world is Hobbesian. When the Iranians get close to getting their bomb (and they will), or the Chinese keep stealing U.S. drones (and they will), you push back hard, on the assumption that Iranian theocrats and Chinese Communist do such things the same way that a pit bull cannot stop biting. In time, by vigilance and deterrence, you can discourage such chronic chomping, but you are not going to spend blood and treasure in an effort to make a pit bull into a poodle.

In short, whatever is the cheapest and quickest way to make an aggressor stop is preferable to long-term nation-building or multilateral initiatives to address “root causes” and seek permanent solutions. For Trump, enemies are always numerous and to be opposed, friends few and to be appreciated. Foreign policy then is Sophoclean, not Socratic: Hurt enemies, help friends.

Reagan’s bombing of Qaddafi is Trumpian. Rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan is not. Likewise un-Trumpian are Obama’s destroying Libya to destroy Qaddafi, and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood because the otherwise preferable alternative was not quite liberal enough for Western sensibilities.

Money

Trump admires people who make money. He doesn’t buy that those, to take one example, with Ph.D.s and academic titles could have made money if only they had wished—but for lots of reasons (most of them supposedly noble) chose not to. For Trump, credentialed academic expertise in anything is in no way comparable to achievement in the jungle of business.

Instead, in Trump’s dog-eat-dog world, only a few bruisers make it to the top and the real, big money — the ultimate barometer of competence. He sees the “winners” as knights to be enlisted in behalf of the weaker others. He might not quite say that a Greek professor is inherently useless, and he might not worry much about preserving the ancient strands of Western civilization. But he might remind us that such pursuits are esoteric and depend on stronger, more cunning and instinctual sorts, whose success alone can pay for such indulgences. Without Greek professors, the world can still find shelter and fuel; without builders and drillers, there can be no Greek professors. Brain surgery and guided missiles both require lots of money without which decline is inevitable.

Policies are good or bad based on how much they cost and how much value is returned on the sale. Success is profitability; failure is red ink and negative net worth. If Solyndra had worked, and if it had paid back its $500 million taxpayer-funded loan as its expanded plants and work forces, then a pragmatic Trump would have been for it and ignored classical free-market axioms. The solution to the inner city is an economy in overdrive — not government handouts, but so many good jobs that employers are forced to hire at good wages every employee they can find.

So what is Trumpism thus far, based on campaign rhetoric and campaigning?

In sum, it’s an America that emulates (even if hypocritically so) the lost culture of the 1950s; exploits fossil fuels; is run by deal makers who make money ostensibly to achieve a GDP that can fund the niceties of American civilization; opposes unfettered free trade and is united by race and class through shared material success; assesses winning as what’s workable rather than what’s politically correct or doctrinaire; makes “tremendous” cars, air-conditioners, and planes; has the largest and most powerful and least-used military; and is loyal to our allies and considerably scary to our enemies. All that seems to be Trumpism (at least for now).

When Trump has a record as president, one can add to or subtract from the list.