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Things to write about - Elf M. Sternberg
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Things to write about
A few years ago, I filled a notebook with quotes I'd taken off philosophical arguments and websites. They were topics that I addressed in Journal Entries. They were big topics, things about religion and politics, culture and sex, about which my characters would talk and with which they would deal.

For a while, that notebook has been pretty quiet. But recently, I made some new notes in it. These are things I'd like to write about.

From Fears for Democrary, an idea I support:
The real "clash of civilizations" is not between "Islam" and "the West," but instead within virtually all modern nations -- between people who are prepared to live on terms of equal respect with others who are different, and those who seek the protection of homogeneity and the domination of a single "pure" religious and ethnic tradition.


From Does Economic Success Require Democracy?, which which I do not agree:
There is nothing theoretically compelling that suggests that democracy is the form of government that best reflects the underlying preferences of citizens. As a result, democracies will not necessarily outperform other types of mechanisms for preference aggregation as a route to economic prosperity. Dictatorships are not hamstrung by the preferences of voters for, say, a pervasive welfare state.

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Comments
tagryn From: tagryn Date: May 20th, 2007 02:29 am (UTC) (Link)
re: the economic success and democracy article, I believe Goethe once said that "theory is grey, but real life is green."

Looking at the total GDP tables from the World Bank, the top overall economies are dominated by the democracies. The politically repressed nations are doing better after opening up their economies, but its a long stretch to go from that to what the article concludes, that "The unfree nations will grow so quickly that they will overwhelm free nations with their economic might. The unfree will see no reason to transition to democracy." Poppycock on the first; at best a "we'll see" on the second. I think it takes more than the opportunity to make more dough for most dictators to decide to offer more political freedom to their subjects.

And have to say, regarding "Dictatorships are not hamstrung by the preferences of voters for, say, a pervasive welfare state," it doesn't translate to more efficent economies, either. The USSR, Maoist China, and North Korea are examples of dictatorships whose economies were/are basically walking disaster areas, to name three.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 20th, 2007 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if you've run across this blog before. It's tracking guerilla warfare in various spots: globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/

I get from it the idea that modern nations are simply too big to effectively protect themselves from this type of threat.
shunra From: shunra Date: May 21st, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. In the framework of those fears for Democracy, what is your position on Israel? Is it not trying to "seek the protection of homogeneity and the domination of a single "pure" religious [...] tradition"?

I crossed out "and ethnic" because I can't see the Jewish populations in Israel as anything other than MANY ethnicities, including (in no particular order) Yemeni, Polish, Sephardic (European), Sephardic (from Arab countries), Persian, Ethiopian, North American, Russian, and Latin American.

Is it not true that the Zionist ideal is exactly an attempt to have a single religious tradition stamp out or displace all local religious and ethnic variants?

(In 1948, 3/4 of the Arab population of Palestine was displaced, creating a refugee crisis which persists to this day. Israeli political parties - mainstream ones - wish to "finish the job". This summer may be pivotal, and I am very curious about your position on this.)
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