Quotable (#216)


In order to win the war unleashed by the Leninist revolution, Western capitalism fomented fascism against the working class. […] We know the story of what followed: Soviet communism and Anglo-American capitalism were forced into an alliance. Then democracy defeated the Soviet Union.

This might be the most garbled historical narrative I’ve ever heard.

(Piece as a whole is worth a read, though.)

Quotable (#215)

A life-gripped planet:

By controlling the chemical state of the atmosphere, life has also altered the rocks it comes into contact with, and so oxygenated the crust and mantle of Earth. This changes the material properties of the rocks, how they bend and break, squish, fold, and melt under various forces and conditions. All the clay minerals produced by Earth’s biosphere soften Earth’s crust—the crust of a lifeless planet is harder—helping to lubricate the plate tectonic engine. The wetness of Earth seems to explain why plate tectonics has persisted on Earth and not on its dry twin, Venus. One of the more extreme claims of the Gaia camp, at present neither proven nor refuted, is that the influence of life over the eons has helped Earth hold on to her life‐giving water, while Venus and Mars, lifeless through most of their existence, lost theirs. If so, then life may indeed be responsible for Earth’s plate tectonics. One of the original architects of plate tectonic theory, Norm Sleep from Stanford, has become thoroughly convinced that life is deeply implicated in the overall physical dynamics of Earth, including the “nonliving” interior domain. In describing the cumulative, long-term influence of life on geology, continent building, and plate tectonics, he wrote, “The net effect is Gaian. That is, life has modified Earth to its advantage.” The more we study Earth, the more we see this. Life has got Earth in its clutches. Earth is a biologically modulated planet through and through. In a nontrivial way, it is a living planet.

Quotable (#214)

Calm realism from Shadi Hamid:

I could try to explain what I think our nation is, but I can no longer be sure if tens of millions of my fellow citizens would agree. But I cannot simply take solace in the fact that soon there will be more non-whites and therefore more people who share my ideology. This is a recipe for more conflict, not less. […] Well before Brexit and the rise of Trump, Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev wrote that “threatened majorities — those who have everything and who fear everything — have emerged as the major force in European politics.” They feel threatened in the United States as well; the only difference, perhaps, is that they do not have everything but still fear everything. Yet as demographics inexorably shift, both the perception and reality of this “threat” will only grow. Unless something changes, American politics will continue to collapse along ethnic lines.

Quotable (#213)

Girard in contemporary politics (insightfully explored):

In one of his seminars, Thiel made the political stakes of his concern with scapegoating more explicit, making reference to Occupy Wall Street: “The 99% vs. the 1% is the modern articulation of this classic scapegoating mechanism. It is all minus one versus the one.” The central task of controlling what Girard calls the “victimage mechanism,” for “founders” like him, is to deflect collective violence from themselves. Gawker, on the other hand, seemed to specialize in identifying targets for that violence, or at least for collective online vituperation – and those targets often belonged to the capitalist “founder” class, although many debated whether Gawker at times abandoned its proclaimed commitment to “punching up.” Crushing Gawker was not simply an attack on a particular organ of scapegoating that had offended Thiel, but an attempt to disarm a certain politicization of scapegoating in a digital world given over to it.

(The entire piece is excellent.)