My weekly column at Taki's Magazine is up. In it I ponder the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident and hope it might prompt us to some critical thinking about our own political system.
The piece is titled Two Bad Answers
?answers, that is to the question: "What kind of politics is best suited to a postindustrial society?"
(As always in the matter of titles, columnists propose but editors dispose. My proposed title was "Let A Hundred Flowers Wilt.")
I couldn't resist a brief self-promotion:
The first thing to be said about this is that if, like me, you welcome summer by reading a good thick middlebrow novel, here’s just the thing. Not only is it the definitive 6-4 novel, it would also have been the definitive 1980s bond-trader novel if Tom Wolfe hadn’t got in first with Bonfire of the Vanities; and it would have been the definitive opera novel if Willa Cather hadn’t ditto with Song of the Lark. Damn these wanna-be-first upstarts!
The piece drew a gratifyingly long and thoughtful comment thread. In among it was commenter "Tom Thumb" who first quoted my column saying:
Tomorrow’s politics will be the art of providing make-work for as many as possible of the employable minority while pacifying the un-employable majority with a state dole. In that world, universal-suffrage democracy will be untenable.
Then he commented:
I have a letter to the editor in today's paper addressing this whole thing. I put it this way: people who do useful work, people who do useless work and people who do nothing.
I followed that with:
That's very good, Tom. I shall plagiarize. Interesting to try to reconstruct the historical ratios useful-useless-nothing. For the U.S.A. I'd guess the mid-19C to be 85-10-5, the mid-20C maybe 60-25-15, the mid-21st perhaps 30-30-40.
Several readers scoffed that I was being way too nice.
Inside today's large companies there is an unfathomable amount of people and entire departments that have not a thing to do with the mission and function of the company. You can start with HR, Compliance, Community Outreach, Inclusion; but it doesn't end there. As someone who sells six-figure-plus technical solutions into major corporations, I'd add Procurement to that group. They seem to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
It is, of course, a matter of definitions. Is reviewing science books and blogging about the National Question, politics, and Human Science topics useful, useless, or nothing? Uh . . .
I have as usual been remiss about posting notices to stuff I've published in other outlets. Try my feature
in the June American Spectator
reporting on the Tucson "Toward a Science of Consciousness" conference.