Knowledge and Power, Or Dark Thoughts In Winter

For people in cold climes, winter, with its short days and hibernation inducing frigidity,  is a season to let one’s pessimistic imagination roam. It may be overly deterministic, but I often wonder whether those who live in climates that do not vary with the seasons, so that they live where it is almost always warm […]

Big Brother, Big Data and The Forked Path Revisited

This week witnessed yet another examples of the distortions caused by the 9/11 Wars on the ideals that underlie the American system of government and the ballooning of the powers and reach of the national security state.  In a 16 page Justice Department memo obtained by the NBC News reporter, Michael Isikoff, legal justifications were […]

Pinker, Foucault and Progress

As readers may know, a little while back I wrote a piece on Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature a book that tries to make the case that violence has been on a steady decline throughout the modern era. Regardless of tragedies such as the horrendous school shooting at Newtown, Pinker wants to us […]

The Utopian Moment

Sometimes great utopias are written during periods of enormous political, economic, intellectual or technological transitions. Plato’s Republic and his other lesser utopian works are written as a kind of anti-imperialist critique and alternative path just as the Western world was about to move definitively away from the dominance of city-states and into the age of […]

Big Brother, Big Data, and the Forked Path

The technological ecosystem in which political power operates tends to mark out the possibility space for what kinds of political arrangements, good and bad, exist within that space. Orwell’s Oceania and its sister tyrannies were imagined in what was the age of big, centralized media. Here the Party had under its control not only the […]