If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Public Opinion Always Matters

Tonight I pick on someone I find very interesting, and many of whose conclusions about "The System" I share (and spouted off on in my original blogs, in similar vein but not exact concord, and, at the time, almost the opposite of his views on the subject of achieving a government accountable to the people/based upon consent of the governed), Mencius Moldbug, in this post actually demonstrates, perhaps without noticing, that one of the things he desires, separation of information and state is an unachievable goal.

"As Hume first observed, all governments are in a sense democratic. They require consent from at least their armed security forces. Public opinion always matters."

This is why I've never for once believed that Moldbug's ideal of separation of information and state will come to pass, or, if it does, remain stable.

No government, no matter how authoritarian, can be indifferent to public opinion. Perhaps less sensitive to it than democracy (though ours does an excellent job of that. See Steven Den Beste's proposed Constitutional Amendments. Probably 70% of the public would support them as policy, but there is no chance whatsoever of what they envision appearing on the political agenda in any form, much less Constitutional Amendments submitted for ratification).

Particularly, the governments he envisions, wanting to maximize revenues, have an incentive to "advertise" at minimum, to convince the subjects that currently live there to stay, and convince prosperous ones to come (one can see advert sections along these lines in The Economist frequently).

Under his vision, possibly correct, there is no way to enforce a separation of state and information, and no incentive for the state to be completely indifferent to public opinion and not work to shape it. It may very well not resemble what we get now in its particulars, but there will be state propaganda.

My personal opinion is that, while Moldbug, as he has said of writers he admiers, can be very insightful in his diagnoses, but his solutions are quackery. Not that I think I have better. I still carry a lantern through the streets looking for one, and trying to think of one myself.

(Last season's "Kings" comes to mind, btw. Control over the press, and who got to promulgate the message in the various struggles for power, was one of the significant plot threads).



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