10 June 2010


Full-Spectrum Craziness, Explained

Yesterday, on that Facebook thing, I posted a link to a Matt Yglesias blog post, wherein Mr. Yglesias said:
I’m less clear on the all the GOP results. If anything, what we’ve learned over the past 3-4 years is that whether or not the crazier candidate prevails in these contested races, whoever prevails ends up needing to adopt full-spectrum craziness.
I take that to mean that regardless of the candidates' actual positions, they're going to have to mouth the words the the Tea Party National Anthem to keep the cash flowing.

Good guy Chris Vuille commented: "Full-spectrum craziness"—heck, it can't hurt at this point, and might do some good. What part of the spectrum was playing the last thirty years?"

Now, in general, being a fan of the late Dr. Thompson, I see his point. I have nothing against full-spectrum craziness. I hear Blackwater is having a sale, and those assault rifles look mighty nice. But let's get real here: The Tea Party, rump right, loony GOP full-spectrum craziness is just more of the same. In my own response to Chris, I wrote:
Don't be fooled. This is as big of a lot of phonies masquerading as "patriots" as has come down the pike since the Know Nothings. What "full-spectrum craziness" on the right really means is lower taxes for rich people, less regulation and lower taxes for big businesses, an imposition of Christian religious dogma that restricts the personal freedoms of women and gay people and people who aren't Christians, less support for functioning public education, and a nativist surface approach to immigration while hiring illegals under the table all the while. It's the same GOP policies as have been in place since Reagan in a new wrapper.
This, of course, just reiterates an argument made by none other than Yglesias and cited here previously:
This isn’t to say that talk about freedom is a mask for racism, but rather than talk about “freedom” is just talk about conservatism [his emphasis]. Conservatives side with business over unions and environmentalists, with police and prosecutors over criminal defendants, with nationalists against cosmopolitans, with majoritarian ethnic and religious groups against annoying weirdos, and with the military against peaceniks. Ideas about freedom and small government are totally irrelevant to the actual political agenda and the Tea Party is no different from any other conservative movement in this regard
Don't be fooled: If you want full-spectrum craziness, go gonzo or don't go at all!

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08 June 2010


Responsibility, Agency, Locality, and Compactness

I read this in Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft a few weeks ago, and it's been stuck in my mental craw since:
[A]s the subsequent history of banking illustrates, any job that can be scaled up, depersonalized, and made to answer to forces remote from the scene of work is vulnerable to degradation, even to the point of requiring that the person who does the job actively suppress his better judgment.
He's referring to banking as in derivatives and the real-estate bubble, but what he's talking about might also fit the Deepwater Horizon gusher or our use of unmanned systems.

If we are to have a shared concept of responsability—response ability—then doesn't that require a somewhat compact agent at a location; i.e., a person on site? Are there necessary breakdowns in the concept of responsibility once the agent is distributed or distant from the scene of the action?

I'm not coming to terms with this well. Input welcome.

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