Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Atlantic: "A Nation Coming Apart", collection of essays for the December 2019 issue; a second civil war?


The December 2019 issue of the Atlantic will be called “A Nation Coming Apart”.  I got a link for it   and apparently my paywall status let me see all of it.  It would be advisable to pick up the print – but typically that means getting to a Barnes and Noble or similar bookstore.  The email had a subtitle, “How to stop a (second) civil war”, or, as Tim Pool says, at least an insurgency.


There are three parts, each divided into several essays.

Yoni Applebaum writes about “How America Ends” and focuses somewhat on how non-whites will become a majority.  She also discusses the collapse of the GOP, and notes that authoritarianism or fascism or communism will come when center-right parties collapse and lose sight of their principles and behave like identarian tribes.  The right often comprises groups who have lost power and privilege to change, whereas the left comprises intersectional groups who are vengeful about the sins committed against them in the past.
  
Johnathan Haidt talks about the “Dark Psychology of Social Networks”.  Visitors are gripped by the latest clickbait scandals and lose sight of longer-term goals and principles, because of the speed of news. Many people are not mature enough to recognize “junk”, and better educated people are often unaware of the way “the masses” process things when overwhelmed or manipulated – through their tribes. Even David Pakman made a video in early 2019 admitting that many voters don’t understand anything and are swindled easily.

Here the writers suggest (1) stop evaluating the performance of individual content pieces with Likenomics (Instagram is already experimenting with this (2) reduce use of unverified accounts (or bots -- this means everything source should be idenitifed, at least like private registration of domain names; it's not quite the same as the Twitter verification check) (3) eliminate low-quality posts and comments.  
     
Tom Junod has a piece about Mister Rogers and personal localism. People are often disinterested in “neighbors” and more interested in the faraway worlds they have snatched for themselves.
  
Gay libertarian writer Johnathan Rauch discusses “too much democracy” and says that “direct primaries” and various other changes have led to primary seasons that attract extremists and ideologues and not people who can win and actually govern.
  
Danielle Allen describes “The Road to Serfdom” and James Mattis has a similar piece “The Enemy Within”.  An important idea is localism and the way people participate socially in solving problems.  
  
A lot of us (myself included) have become global and projected our rationality on media platforms on our own and ignore calls from local advocacy groups for help because they seem partisan and beneath us. It’s like the non-profits need more people marching and demonstrating and fewer bloggers filming them without joining in.
   
Adam Serwer cloases this out with “Against Reconciliation”, talk of another Reconstruction, to stop the idea that remaining in a historically privileged class is a birthright.

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