46 Matching Annotations
  1. Mar 2022
    1. The imperial dream was always there, but you know, empires are often the creation of a very small gang of people at the top. I don’t think the Russian people [are] interested in this war. I don't think that the Russian people want to conquer Ukraine or to slaughter the citizens of Kyiv.

      The interesting modern historical question is why does a small gang of authoritarian leaders seem to rise up to the top and take over Russia? Is there some fundamental lesson that the people of Russia have not yet learned that creates this atmosphere of enabling authoritarianism? Yeltsin tried but it failed and this vacuum created the space for the opportunity Putin to step in. The danger of failed democracy is authoritarianism waiting in the wings.

  2. Nov 2021
    1. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/10/new-puritans-mob-justice-canceled/619818/

      Anne Applebaum looks at the ideas of public humiliation and cancel culture as a potential slippery slope toward authoritarianism. She provides numerous examples of people experiencing forms of cancel culture without any arguments for or against them, but instead explores the cultural space around it and what its consequences might possibly be.

      Many of her examples focus on spaces related to academia rather than broader life, a space which needs further exploration as the scope and shape for those may differ dramatically.

      She also brings up the broad phenomenon of "university justice" (my descriptor) and generally secret tribunals and justice administered by them rather than traditional governmental means.

      This brings up some excellent avenues for thought about who we are as a country and a liberal democracy.

      Highly recommend.

    2. In The Whisperers, his book on Stalinist culture, the historian Orlando Figes cites many such cases, among them Nikolai Sakharov, who wound up in prison because somebody fancied his wife; Ivan Malygin, who was denounced by somebody jealous of his success; and Lipa Kaplan, sent to a labor camp for 10 years after she refused the sexual advances of her boss. The sociologist Andrew Walder has revealed how the Cultural Revolution in Beijing was shaped by power competitions between rival student leaders.

      Note the power here of Applebaum providing very specific and citable examples.

      The specificity is more powerful than the generality of these sorts of ills which we know exist in these regimes.

    3. In both instances, people used these unregulated forms of “justice” to pursue personal grudges or gain professional advantage.

      Rather than provide actual justice, unregulated extrajudicial bodies can be (and are often) used to pursue personal grudges or gain profession advantages.

    4. Secretive procedures that take place outside the law and leave the accused feeling helpless and isolated have been an element of control in authoritarian regimes across the centuries,

      Anne Applebaum indicates that the secretive procedures being practiced at American colleges and universities to prosecute their community members is very similar to authoritarian governments like the Argentine junta, Franco's Spain, and Stalin's troikas.

    5. Another person suspended from his job put it this way: “Someone who knows me, but maybe doesn’t know my soul or character, may be saying to themselves that prudence would dictate they keep their distance, lest they become collateral damage.”

      Putting people beyond the pale creates a social contagion of sorts. It would be interesting to look at these cases from the perspective of public health and view these as disease. What information falls out of doing this? How does this model change?

      From Applebaum's perspective that these cases may help sow the seeds of authoritarianism, could they be viewed as something like an initial case of untreated syphilis and authoritarianism becomes a version of festered stage three syphilis.

      What other things may stem from these effects as second and third order problems from a complexity theory perspective?

    6. Lily Hajdú-Gimes, a celebrated Hungarian psychoanalyst of that era, diagnosed the trauma of forced conformity in patients, as well as in herself. “I play the game that is offered by the regime,” she told friends, “though as soon as you accept that rule you are in a trap.”
    1. Context: Sonia was watching Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath: Season 3: "Episode 1" and had previously been watching a documentary One of Us about people who had left oppressive seeming Hassidic Jewish communities.

      I can't help but that that every culture could be considered a "cult" in which some percentage of people are trapped with comparison to all other cultures on Earth. Based on one's upbringing and personal compass, perhaps living and submitting to one's culture can become oppressive and may seem particularly unfair given power structures and the insidiousness of hypocrisy.

      Given this, could there logically be a utopian society in which everyone lives freely?

      Even within the United States there are smaller sub-cultures withiin which people feel trapped and which have the features of cults, but which are so large as to not be considered such. Even the space in which I freely live might be considered a cult by others who don't agree with it. It's only the vast size of the power of the group which prevents the majority who comfortably live within it from viewing it as a bad thing.

      A Democrat may view the Republican Party as a cult and vice versa, something which becomes more apparent when one polarizes these communities toward the edges rather than allowing them to drift into each other in a consensus.

      An African American may think they're stuck in a broader American cult which marginalizes them.

      A Hassidic Jew may feel they're stuck in a cult (of religious restrictions) with respect to the perceived freedoms of broader American Culture. Some may feel more comfortable within these strictures than others.


      A gender non-comforming person living in the deep South of the United States surrounded by the Southern Baptist Convention may feel they're stuck in a cult based on social norms of one culture versus what they experience personally.


      What are the roots of something being a cult? Could it be hypocrisy? A person or a broader group feeling as if they know "best" and creating a rule structure by which others are forced to follow, but from which they themselves are exempt? This also seems to be the way in which authoritarian rules arise when privileging one group above another based solely on (perceived) power.


      Another potential thing at play here may be the lack of diversity within a community. The level of cult within a society may be related to the shape of the bell curve of that society with respect to how large the center is with respect to the tails. Those who are most likely to feel they're within a "cult" (using the broader definition) are those three or more standard deviations from the center. In non-diverse communities only those within a standard deviation of the norm are likely to feel comfortable and accepted and those two deviations away will feel very uncomfortable while those who are farther away will be shunned and pushed beyond the pale.


      How can we help create more diverse and broadly accepting communities? We're all just people, aren't we? How can we design communities and governments to be accepting of even the most marginalized? In a heavily connected world, even the oddball teenager in a small community can now manage to find their own sub-community using the internet. (Even child pornographers manage to find their community online.)

      The opposite of this is at what point do we circumscribe the norms of the community? Take the idea of "Your freedom to strike me ends at my nose." Perhaps we only shun those extreme instances like murder and pornography, and other actions which take extreme advantage of others' freedoms? [This needs to be heavily expanded and contemplated...] What about the over-financialization of the economy which takes advantage of the unprivileged who don't know that system and are uncapable of the mathematics and computation to succeed. Similarly hucksters and snake oil salesmen who take advantage of their targets' weaknesses and lack of knowledge and sophistication. Or the unregulated vitamin industry taking rents from millions for their superstitions? How do we regulate these to allow "cultural freedom" or "religious freedom" without them taking mass-scale advantage of their targets? (Or are some of these acculturated examples simply inequalities institutionally built into societies and cultures as a means of extracting power and rents from the larger system by those in power?)


      Compare with Hester Prynne and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.


  3. Oct 2021
    1. The Bauhaus began with the metaphor of a church and the Lyonel Feininger depiction of a modern cathedral as a symbol for a new faith in the synthesis of art and technology.

      The fusion of art, technology, and spirituality has been the foundation of my thinking as a designer as I have explored design practice, design education, and design philosophy.

      We mistakenly focused on physical artifacts without fully realizing—and questioning—the values that were being embodied in architecture, built to reinforce our habits and behaviours into social, economic, and political systems. Technology has enabled us to scale, accelerate, and amplify these systems to envelope the globe.

      We have been engaged in social architecture, a form of metaphysical design. It has been a form of colonization that has been built on individualism, specialization, and authoritarianism.

    1. Social: learned helplessness (individuality)Economic: trained incapacities (specialization)Political: bureaucratic intransigence (authoritarianism)

      The neoliberal world order is designed to serve a colonial system of capitalist extraction that only benefits the 1%.

      • Social: learned helplessness (individuality)
      • Economic: trained incapacities (specialization)
      • Political: bureaucratic intransigence (authoritarianism)
    2. accountability, reparations, and radical social change

      The mechanisms of our compliance with the dominant system are designed into the system:

      • Social: learned helplessness (individuality)
      • Economic: trained incapacities (specialization)
      • Political: bureaucratic intransigence (authoritarianism)
    1. Academia: All the Lies: What Went Wrong in the University Model and What Will Come in its Place

      “Students are graduating into a brutal job market.”

      The entreprecariat is designed for learned helplessness (social: individualism), trained incapacities (economic: specialization), and bureaucratic intransigence (political: authoritarianism).


      The Design Problem

      Three diagrams will explain the lack of social engagement in design. If (in Figure 1) we equate the triangle with a design problem, we readily see that industry and its designers are concerned only with the tiny top portion, without addressing themselves to real needs.

      Figure 1: The Design Problem

      (Design for the Real World, 2019. Page 57.)

      The other two figures merely change the caption for the figure.

      • Figure 1: The Design Problem
      • Figure 2: A Country
      • Figure 3: The World
  4. Jul 2021
  5. Oct 2020
    1. Critics, including Sarah Posner and Joe Conason, maintain that prosperity teachers cultivate authoritarian organizations. They argue that leaders attempt to control the lives of adherents by claiming divinely-bestowed authority.[63] Jenkins contends that prosperity theology is used as a tool to justify the high salaries of pastors.

      This would seem to play out in current American culture which seems to be welcoming of an authoritarian president.

  6. Sep 2020
  7. Jul 2020
  8. May 2020
    1. Hartman, T. K., Stocks, T. V. A., McKay, R., Gibson Miller, J., Levita, L., Martinez, A. P., Mason, L., McBride, O., Murphy, J., Shevlin, M., bennett, kate m, & Bentall, R. (2020). The Authoritarian Dynamic During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Effects on Nationalism and Anti-Immigrant Sentiment [Preprint]. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/4tcv5

  9. Oct 2019
  10. Jul 2019
    1. Sarah Kendzior likens Trump to dictators in former Soviet republics of Central Asia. This was published in March, 2016, before Trump had won the Republican primaries.

  11. Oct 2018
    1. Literary association PEN America has filed a lawsuit against Trump for using government power to harass the press.

    1. The bureau agreed not to interview Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexually assaulting her, or to respond to many people stepping forward with new information. They agreed not to follow up on possible lies Kavanaugh is accused of telling in his Senate testimony. And they made other concessions unknown to the public or even Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

      According to the New York Times’s reporting, White House lawyer Don McGahn made sure relevant questions went deliberately unexplored because, he believed, “a wide-ranging inquiry like some Democrats were demanding — and Mr. Trump was suggesting — would be potentially disastrous for Judge Kavanaugh’s chances of confirmation to the Supreme Court.”

  12. Aug 2018
    1. Historian Richard Frankel:

      I do think there's certainly a very strong possibility that it's not going to end well -- and that's from the perspective of a German historian. And as a historian, my natural tendency is to always try to stop people from invoking Hitler. In most cases it was not appropriate to make such a comparison. But now, with Trump, my resistance and that of other historians to making that comparison is being overcome.

  13. Jun 2018
    1. Microsoft is doing some kind of work for ICE.

      Microsoft condemned family separation by ICE in a statement to Gizmodo but declined to specify if specific tools within Azure Government, like Face API—facial recognition software—were in use by the agency. The company also did not comment on whether it had assisted in building artificial intelligence tools for ICE, something the agency has been seeking (and courting Microsoft over) for some time.

    1. So the idea of zero tolerance under the stated policy is that we don’t care why you’re afraid. We don’t care if it’s religion, political, gangs, anything. For all asylum seekers, you are going to be put in jail, in a detention center, and you’re going to have your children taken away from you.

      ...

      So if you cross any other way besides the bridge, we’re prosecuting you. But . . . you can’t cross the bridge.

      ...

      The zero-tolerance policy really started with Jeff Sessions’s announcement in May.

      ...

      And so we saw about six hundred children who were taken away from October to May, then we saw an explosion of the numbers in May. It ramped up. The Office of Refugee Resettlement taking in all these kids says that they are our children, that they are unaccompanied. It’s a fabrication. They’re not unaccompanied children.

      ...

      the idea that these parents don’t have the ability to obtain very simple answers—what are my rights and when can I be reunited with my kid before I’m deported without them?—is horrible. And has to go far below anything we, as a civil society of law, should find acceptable.

    1. ...I remain convinced that if American civil society and the American press fail to come to grips with just how radically theocratic the Christian Right is, any kind of post-Trump soft landing scenario in which American democracy recovers a healthy degree of functionality is highly unlikely.

      ...

      readers of major news outlets are presented with an unrealistically benign picture of a darkly authoritarian, cult-like branch of Protestantism.

  14. Dec 2017
    1. 21 Dec 2017: Six defendants who were arrested during protests at Trump's inauguration were found not guilty of all charges.

      Nevertheless, the Justice Department prosecutors still intend to take nearly 200 other defendants to trial.

    1. I was listening today to hearings on the FBI, where the fact that FBI agents gave to Democratic candidates was cited as prima facie evidence of corruption. We saw this in summer 2016 too, where fact that people in the DNC didn’t like Sanders was presented as a massive conspiracy.

      . . .

      There has been a massive conflation of opinion (personal belief), bias (personal action), and agenda (structurally embedded goals). These things often line up, but strong institutions and processes can help stop opinion from becoming bias and bias from becoming an unintentional agenda. And where institutions don’t mitigate these things in appropriate ways they should be reformed.

      But if we collapse this chain, if opinion = bias = agenda, well, then everything immediately becomes corrupt, because everyone has an opinion.

      In the case of Republican congressmen, this isn't a matter of perception. They're lying to protect Trump.

  15. Nov 2017
    1. Millions of Americans believe (or are willing to claim that they believe) insane bullshit. So what happens if Mueller finds evidence that Trump committed a crime, and the right-wing media says he didn't, or it doesn't matter?

  16. Apr 2017
    1. It looks like French voters might make the same stupid mistakes Americans and British made -- either falling for bullshit lies, or failing to vote at all because they don't think their vote matters or they aren't thrilled with their options.

  17. Mar 2017
    1. The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.

      Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

      Saw this quote on Twitter. It was selectively edited. I wish people wouldn't do that.

  18. Feb 2017
    1. Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.

    1. Vor allem aber werden die europäischen Fördergelder missbraucht. Man kann schreiben, dass deutsche SteuerzahlerInnen die Einstellung von Nép­sza­badság mitfinanziert haben. Es hört sich populistisch an, ist aber die Wahrheit. Ungarn ist nach Polen der zweitgrößte Profiteur des europäischen Strukturfonds. Das Geld fließt in große Infrastrukturprojekte. Dort versickern unheimliche Summen in den Taschen regierungstreuer Unternehmer. Für diese Selbstbereicherung bringen sie Gegenleistungen. Zum Beispiel kaufen sie die Medien des Landes auf – und bringen sie stramm auf Linie.

      Autoritaristische Strategie: Plündern per Politik, Geld bring Macht

  19. Jan 2017
    1. 21 Jan 2017. Trump's White House press secretary Sean Spicer holds a press conference. He reads a prepared statement in which he berates the press and lies like a rug. He takes no questions.

  20. Dec 2016
    1. Trump's character and America's recent political climate are familiar to people who have lived in or studied authoritarian states. Russia is using the same tactics on us that they've used, and continue to use, in Europe.

    1. Trump is trying to prohibit protest.

      That’s because the National Park Service, on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, filed documents securing large swaths of the national mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial for the inauguration festivities. None of these spots will be open for protesters.

      The NPS filed a “massive omnibus blocking permit” for many of Washington DC’s most famous political locations for days and weeks before and after the inauguration on 20 January,

    1. From 27 July 2016, Masha Gessen recognizes Donald Trump as a dangerous fascist. She also recognizes that Trump is "a thoroughly American creation that poses an existential threat to American democracy."

      But the top point of the article is to dismiss the idea of connections between Trump and Putin. Bullshit.

      Putin assisted the Trump campaign with hacking and propaganda. The only questions are exactly how much the Russians did, and whether they actually hacked the election itself. We need to investigate ties between Trump, his associates, and Putin, and we need a thorough audit of the election.

  21. Nov 2016