Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pogo may be right

Pogo famously said " We have met the enemy and he is us"  (http://www.igopogo.com/we_have_met.htm). Some recent echos:
Predators and Professors by Simon Johnson and the book Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy by Christopher Hayes. The book has attracted some attention is reviewd in various places like Slate Atlantic and Truth Out. Most of the reviews seem to be in some agreement of his analysis; though not with the proposed solutions. There is a favourable review in Crooked Timber with lots of erudite comments. From the Slate review:
"Twilight is a book that has been written dozens of times before. It’s part of a great tradition of American writing, the rangy, pop diagnostic manual of Our Current Predicament. These are books of lofty, multidisciplinary ambition that are meant to theorize the tectonic shifts underfoot for as many readers as possible. Their measure isn’t whether they’re right or wrong, but whether they begin to successfully colonize the way their readers decode everyday life.
Twilight is at its most effective as a restless brew of data and feeling. The most ambitious kinds of social criticism often feel like epic games of pattern recognition: You acquire some suspicion about how the world actually works and then set about finding examples to shade in the outline. In this way, they are no different than conspiracy theories. In both cases, the inner workings of society fail our basic expectations of how things are supposed to be. Everything seems predetermined. Even those in charge are revealed to be middle-managers at the mercy of an invisible hand.

There is ultimately no supervillain at the controls of Twilight, no symbols encoded in the dollar bill. Instead, its greatest ambition is to merely draw attention to the logic that structures our lives, the intellectual rationale offered us for ironic detachment or resignation. A contest in which everyone but the spectators have agreed to play with rigged rules, and you feel crazy for ever believing it might have been otherwise."

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