Winnowing MMXX1

by reestheskin on 07/02/2021

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Britain Alone: the Path from Suez to Brexit, by Philip Stephens

I know little about Paul A Myers except that he is one of the sharpest commentators on the online FT comments forum.

Britain made a bad choice with Brexit. The coming years will probably reveal just how much. It failed the one test it had to make as an international strategist in the opening decades of the 21st century. It is inevitably going to wind up with something smaller and less influential — and probably less prosperous. But then it has been making bad choices for a long, long time.

When London is able to imagine itself as a bigger and similarly successful Copenhagen, then new geopolitical success will await. Apparently just some such thinking is taking hold in Edinburgh.

As for Edinburgh, I truly wish that to be the case.

The Capitalist Case for Overhauling Twitter

This next quote is via Scott Galloway in the New York Magazine.

The political philosopher Hannah Arendt, analyzing the fall of democratic Germany to the Nazis, observed that totalitarianism comes to power through a “temporary alliance between the elite and the mob.”

Forget Zuckerberg and Cook’s hypocrisy – it’s their companies that are the real problem | Facebook | The Guardian

The following is from John Naughton, one-time TV critic of the Listener, and who effectively introduced me to the world of blogs and tech a long, long, time ago.

A few years ago, during a period when there was much heated anxiety about “superintelligence” and the prospects for humanity in a world dominated by machines, the political theorist David Runciman gently pointed out that we have been living under superintelligent AIs for a couple of centuries. They’re called corporations: sociopathic, socio-technical machines that remorselessly try to achieve whatever purpose has been set for them, which in our day is to “maximise shareholder value”. Or, as Milton Friedman succinctly put it: “The only corporate social responsibility a company has is to maximise its profits.”

The paradox of human nature, our obsession with the skies, and the realities of transplant surgery: Books in brief

Desmond Morris in one of his popular ethology books pointed out the logical flaw in the arguments that posits that war is a function of individual violence, whether the origins of the latter are inherited or acquired. The propensity to cooperation over dissent is problematic.

The following is from a review of The Goodness Paradox by Richard Wrangham. The subtitle is: How Evolution Made Us More and Less Violent.

Homo sapiens see-saws endlessly between tolerance and aggression. To parse our paradoxical nature, primatologist Richard Wrangham marshals gripping research in genetics, neuroscience, history and beyond. His lucid, measured study ranges over types of aggression, the evolution of moral values, the age-old problem of tyrants, and war’s “coalitional impunity”. The propensity for proactive violence, he argues — forged by self-domestication, language and genetic selection — marks out our primarily peaceful species. We uniquely bend cooperation to ends both cruel and compassionate. [emphasis added].