Peter Thiel on “The Straussian Moment”

says well we’ve had all these years of
warfare over religion we’ll stop asking
important questions and all these
decades these centuries after the
Enlightenment here’s the world we’ve
reached this is the way I read you you
can correct my reading but let me finish
quoting you instead of violent wars
there could be violent video games
instead of heroic feats
there could be thrilling amusement park
rides instead of serious thought there
could be intrigues of all sorts
in a soap opera it is a world where
people spend their lives amusing
themselves to death close quote
now that is a devastating indictment of
much of contemporary America correct
well it is I mean I think this has been
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the trend of modernity now it’s it’s
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it’s not as though politics has
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disappeared though it’s it’s often just
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gets displaced in various ways but but
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yes I think there is this this
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incredible degree to which we’ve we’ve
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we’ve substituted the realities of
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politics for these sort of increasingly
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fictionalized worlds and and it’s
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probably uh that’s probably a very very
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unhealthy thing there’s sort of a
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slightly different frame that I’ve often
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given on this is is that in in the last
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40 or 50 years there’s been a shift from
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exteriority which I which you know doing
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things in the real world to the sort of
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interior world which is sort of in a way
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can be thought of this also the shift
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from politics to entertainment or
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something like that and and the the from
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a dr. Phil a the powerful frame I give
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is you know almost exactly 50 years ago
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today and you know July of 1969 men
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reached the moon and three weeks later
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Woodstock began and with the benefit of
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hindsight we can say that that’s when
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you know progress ended and when the
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hippies took over the country or
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something like that and then we’ve had
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we’ve had this incredible shift to
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interior tea in the decades since then I
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would include things like the drug
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counterculture I would include
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videogames you know maybe a lot of
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entertainment more generally you know
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there’s sort of parts of the internet
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that can be scored both ways but but
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certainly there all these things where
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we’ve shifted towards the you know your
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world of yoga meditation there’s a world
08:41
of interior culture that sort of and it
11:04
Rene Girard is in some ways the
addresses an aspect of human nature well
it’s it’s good it’s the very thing that
the Enlightenment says no no don’t even
think about such things right
yeah well the Enlightenment always
whitewashes violence it’s one of the
there are many things we can’t think
about an under Enlightenment reason but
one one is certainly violence itself and
and if you go to the anthropological
myth of the Enlightenment it’s the myth
of the social contract so what happens
when everybody is that everybody’s
else’s throat what the Enlightenment
says is everybody in the middle of the
crisis sits down and has a nice legal
chat and draws up a social contract and
that’s maybe maybe that’s the founding
myth the central lie of the
Enlightenment if you will and what
Gerrard says something very different
must have happened and when everybody’s
at everybody’s throat the violence
doesn’t just resolve itself and maybe it
gets channeled against a a specific
scapegoat where the war of all against
all becomes a war can of all against one
and then somehow gets resolved but in a
in a very violent way and so I think you
know what what Gerrard and Schmidt or
Machiavelli or you know the
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judeo-christian inspiration all have in
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common is this idea that human nature is
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problematic its violent it’s um you know
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it’s it’s it’s it’s it’s it’s not
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straightforward at all what what you do

Shane Claiborne (Onbeing)

And then there comes a point, as Dr. Martin Luther King said so well, where we’re called to be the Good Samaritan and lift our neighbor out of the ditch. But after you lift so many people out of the ditch, you start to say, “Maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be transformed.

Ms. Tippett: There’s something not just in the way you see your Christianity, but in the way you look at the world. It’s a very holistic vision. So, for example, you’ve taken the old adage that if you give someone a fish, they’ll eat for a day, but if you teach them how to fish, they can eat for a lifetime. But you say, “We also need to ask who owns the pond and who polluted it.

 

.. And I’m convinced that if the Christian church loses this generation, it will be not because we didn’t entertain them, but because we didn’t dare them with the truth of the world. It won’t be because we’d made the Gospel too hard, but because we made it too easy, and we just played games with kids and didn’t actually challenge them to think about how they live.

 There’s something magnetic about a group of people that say, “Hey, we don’t have it all figured out, and we need each other.” We’re broken people and in the middle of that brokenness I feel like the spirit is able to connect.

Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think

And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected.

People often vote against things instead of voting for them: against ideas, candidates and parties. Democrats, like Republicans, appreciate this whenever they portray their opponents as negatively as possible. But members of political tribes seem to have trouble recognizing that they, too, can push people away and energize them to vote for the other side. Nowhere is this more on display today than in liberal control of the commanding heights of American culture.

.. Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.

But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.

In fact, liberals may be more effective at causing resentment than in getting people to come their way. I’m not talking about the possibility that jokes at the 2011 correspondents’ association dinner may have pushed Mr. Trump to run for president to begin with. I mean that the “army of comedy” that Michael Moore thought would bring Mr. Trump down will instead be what builds him up in the minds of millions of voters.

.. Some liberals have gotten far out ahead of their fellow Americans but are nonetheless quick to criticize those who haven’t caught up with them.

.. Liberals denounce “cultural appropriation” without, in many cases, doing the work of persuading people that there is anything wrong with, say, a teenager not of Chinese descent wearing a Chinese-style dress to prom or eating at a burrito cart run by two non-Latino women.

.. Pressing a political view from the Oscar stage, declaring a conservative campus speaker unacceptable, flatly categorizing huge segments of the country as misguided — these reveal a tremendous intellectual and moral self-confidence that smacks of superiority. It’s one thing to police your own language and a very different one to police other people’s. The former can set an example. The latter is domineering.

.. This judgmental tendency became stronger during the administration of President Barack Obama, though not necessarily because of anything Mr. Obama did. Feeling increasingly emboldened, liberals were more convinced than ever that conservatives were their intellectual and even moral inferiors.

.. college campuses — which many take to be what a world run by liberals would look like — seemed increasingly intolerant of free inquiry.

.. It was during these years that the University of California included the phrase “America is the land of opportunity” on a list of discouraged microaggressions.

.. Champions of inclusion can watch what they say and explain what they’re doing without presuming to regulate what words come out of other people’s mouths. Campus activists can allow invited visitors to speak and then, after that event, hold a teach-in discussing what they disagree with. After the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states had to allow same-sex marriage, the fight, in some quarters, turned to pizza places unwilling to cater such weddings. Maybe don’t pick that fight?

.. Liberals can act as if they’re not so certain — and maybe actually not be so certain — that bigotry motivates people who disagree with them on issues like immigration.

.. Without sacrificing their principles, liberals can come across as more respectful of others. Self-righteousness is rarely attractive, and even more rarely rewarded.

.. many liberals seem primed to write off nearly half the country as irredeemable.

.. But it is an unjustified leap to conclude that anyone who supports him in any way is racist, just as it would be a leap to say that anyone who supported Hillary Clinton was racist because she once made veiled references to “superpredators.”

Liberals are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle. When they use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable. That only validates their own worst prejudices about the other America.

For the Oscar-winners, the times, they’ve a-changed

The four-hour ceremony threatened to turn into a lecture on how Hollywood is already busily vanquishing racism, sexism and other ills

But the ceremony eventually came to feel less like an outraged call to arms than a long lecture, written in thick black gold capital letters, about what a wonderfully warm and welcoming place Hollywood is. Everyone agreed that the times weren’t just a changin’. They had already changed.

.. It’s understandable that, in the wake of the Weinstein scandal, the ceremony’s organisers wanted to repair some of the damage done to their industry’s reputation. But the Academy isn’t practising everything it preaches. There may have been a utopian range of presenters on the stage, but they handed the main prizes to a male director, male screenwriters, a male composer, a male cinematographer, a male editor, a male costume designer, and so on. Over all, there were six female winners on the night, and 33 male winners, which means that, basically, men won everything they possibly could, and that the female nominees didn’t get to stand up until Ms McDormand insisted that they do so during her rabble-rousing speech.

What’s Trump’s parade really about? His bottomless insecurity.

Well, of course the president who claimed bone spurs to dodge the Vietnam War wants the biggest, bestest military parade ever, with lots of tanks and rockets and flags — zillions of flags — and fighter jets screaming overhead. Why is anyone surprised?

.. anyone who fails to cheer as the bands play and the troops march by will surely be guilty of treason.

.. Trump has already matched North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in dangerous, unhinged rhetoric. Now it appears he hopes to surpass his rival in linear mileage of meaningless military display.

.. It is hard to imagine any other president summoning his generals to demand not a better strategy in Afghanistan, not a detailed plan for success in Syria, but rather an elaborate entertainment that gives him an opportunity to be seen reviewing the troops. In this reality-show presidency, it sounds like the kind of extravaganza that one could imagine as a series finale. If so, bring it on.

.. There is a semi-plausible argument that Trump could consciously use such a patriotic extravaganza as a wedge, the way he has used the national anthem protests in the NFL. It could be a with-me-or-against-me ploy. If you support the parade, you love America; if you don’t, you don’t.

.. But a celebratory military parade with nothing to celebrate could also highlight the gulf between Trump’s campaign promises and his actions. He pledged to wind wars down and bring the troops home; he has done quite the opposite.

.. My guess is that both his narcissism and his authoritarianism are at play in his need to honor himself with a parade.

.. Despite his boastful tweetstorms, the president clearly realizes that his approval ratings are historically low. He is so unpopular that he will not even risk a state visit to London to open the new U.S. Embassy there for fear of being humiliated by mass protests.

.. The campaign-style rallies he so enjoys do not appear well-designed to advance a political agenda; they do, however, boost his spirits and massage his ego.

.. He would be saluted and serenaded to his heart’s content. It would be an egomaniac’s heaven.

.. Trump’s big parade would also be a massive display of power — not so much the nation’s as his own. There is not a soul on Earth who doubts the overwhelming strength of the U.S. military. I can think of one soul, however, who is insecure enough in his own authority that he accuses members of Congress who do not stand and applaud him of treason.

Hollywood Uses the Very Women It Exploited to Change the Subject

As allegations of sexual exploitations pile up, the
industry has absorbed the critiques and converted them
into inspirational messaging and branding exercises.

Is it possible for Hollywood to truly reckon with its issues while it’s so busy celebrating itself? It’s remarkable how slickly the entertainment industry — and its annual showcase, the winter awards show circuit — has adapted to the accusations against it. Harvey Weinstein may have been cast out of Hollywood (exiled, for now, to a spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.), but his complicity machine stretched its tentacles into agencies, law firms, fashion deals and of course, awards shows. New allegations of exploitations and inequities are revealed every week. The details suggest systemic rot.

In response, Hollywood has nimbly absorbed its critiques and converted them into inspirational messaging and digestible branding exercises, just in time for the unfurling of the red carpets. Whatever talks may (or may not) be happening inside agencies or on film sets, the message that comes across is this: The industry has skirted a conversation about its culture of harassment in favor of one about what an amazing job it is doing combatting that harassment. It’s engaged in just enough introspection to recalibrate and move on.

.. But when an earnest effort is fed through the Hollywood machine, it is quickly repurposed for what Hollywood does best, which is to sell things — women included. The initiative has revealed as much about Hollywood’s still unexamined sexism as it has the abuses it intended to address. In short, that women are expected to clean up the industry’s mess, and look good doing it. And they don’t have much choice, either, because if they say nothing, they’ll be knocked for that, too.

.. In this commodified atmosphere, it was difficult to process the appearance of real activists on the red carpet: #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, came as Michelle Williams’s date, while Meryl Streep brought along Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. The tactic bucked expectation — namely, that actresses tie their public personas to their relationships with men — and gave these pioneering activists exposure that’s hard to come by, but it also revealed the impossibility of dismantling an event bent on promoting a certain kind of femininity and luxury at once.

.. The image of white actresses paired with activists of color suggested a kind of moral accessorizing. And the meeting of celebrities and “regular” people came tinged with a preset narrative, one where the celebrity’s perceived exceptionalism is only enhanced by her engagement with the real world. But when Ryan Seacrest interviewed Ms. Williams and Ms. Burke on the red carpet, E! made it clear which it valued most — women’s appearance, or what they have to say. The network shrank Ms. Burke’s image into a corner as soon as she began speaking and turned its gaze to the actress Dakota Johnson. She twirled.

.. Watching this sparkling protest unfold, it’s easy to forget what exactly is being protested. The ugliness of rape and abuse is polished into optimistic hashtags and spun into glamorous dresses. In glad-handing Hollywood, criticizing the industry is verboten, but using one’s platform to advocate for other people is so expected it’s a cliché. (Mr. Weinstein himself was a master of linking his films to social causes, cynically pitching the award show ballot as a kind of morality test.)

.. The most electrifying moments of this protest have come when Hollywood women choose instead to model what it looks like to interrogate their own industry’s destructive norms: When Debra Messing broke red carpet geniality to speak out against E!’s underpayment of women, straight into an E! microphone, or when Ms. Portman presented the Golden Globes’ best director nominees as “all-male.”

.. all of this is quite easier for men. Just as they’re not required to uphold the same standards of beauty as their female peers, men are generally excused from carrying the moral weight, too. At the Golden Globes, they got by silently wearing Time’s Up lapel pins.

.. Justin Timberlake captioned his pre-Globes Instagram snap: “Here we come! And DAMN, my wife is hot! #TIMESUP #whywewearblack.” The bar is so low for men that this was, according to Instagram, the most-liked post of the night.

.. One way to push Hollywood toward change is to heighten its contradictions, drawing out the gap between its shimmering idea of itself and its darker realities. The image Hollywood builds for itself at these self-congratulatory events can be used as a bargaining chip for behind-the-scenes activist wins. As the SAG Awards neared, pressure mounted for the guild to protect its workers by installing a real code of conduct to address harassment. And as “All the Money in the World” racked up award nominations, the revelation that Mark Wahlberg earned much more to participate in reshoots than his co-star Ms. Williams — reshoots necessary to scrub the film of Kevin Spacey, and make it palatable for post-#MeToo audiences — created such a PR nightmare that Mr. Wahlberg ended up donating his $1.5 million salary to Time’s Up.

.. When Mr. Franco attended the Golden Globes earlier this month, grinned down the red carpet and bounded onstage to claim a statuette for “The Disaster Artist,” he wore the Time’s Up logo pinned to his lapel. As the night unfolded, female acting students and collaborators began filing complaints on Twitter about Mr. Franco’s own behavior, noting the hypocrisy of the pin. When Mr. Franco appeared on Seth Meyers’s show days later, he was grilled over the allegations. A Los Angeles Times report came next. Mr. Franco skipped the Critic’s Choice Awards, and when he turned up at the SAG Awards last Sunday, his very appearance made news. This time, he didn’t wear the pin. Aziz Ansari, who himself weathered his own hypocrisy scandal after wearing the pin at the Golden Globes, didn’t even show up. All of a sudden, a Hollywood awards show is a perilous place for some men to be.

.. For a woman, getting old is as much of a career-ending affront as an assault allegation is for a man. When Mr. Meyers opened his Golden Globes monologue by greeting the “ladies and remaining gentlemen,” I thought of all the women who don’t “remain” in Hollywood, either, pushed out through abuse or just discarded. One of those women — until recently — was Rose McGowan.

.. She’s now emerged as the most prominent actress to take aim not just at Hollywood abusers but at Hollywood itself.

.. Ms. McGowan and other accusers of Mr. Weinstein were not invited to the campaign’s Golden Globes coming-out party.

.. On Twitter, she’s called out “fancy people wearing black to honor our rapes.” Of Ms. Streep, she wrote: “YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change.”

.. its opening line — “I was in the middle of my second movie for his company, and I get assaulted” — is itself more real and more damning than anything that’s been said at these Hollywood events.