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The Things of the Internet
Reflections on Object Culture and Internet Culture

The Internet meme frame­work is a use­ful way to under­stand a cer­tain range of object pro­duc­tion, a cer­tain sort of infor­mal pro­duc­tion that com­bi­nes net­worked mod­es of pro­duc­tion sim­i­lar to shanzhai or the hat print­ing, with the glob­al reach of the Internet and glob­al ship­ping ser­vices as well. The abil­i­ty to move bits and atoms with just as much ease and effi­cien­cy.

Evgeny Morozov on Silicon Valley Solutionism

There is this bias in soci­ety that as long as you have more infor­ma­tion things are auto­mat­i­cal­ly bet­ter because you have more knowl­edge. It’s a bias that goes all the way back to the Enlightenment.

Evgeny Morozov on the Kingdom of Geeks

There is this very bizarre alliance between world-changing geeks on the one hand and pol­i­cy­mak­ers who only care about out­comes. They no longer care about how those out­comes are arrived at. They have stripped pol­i­tics of all mean­ing. All they want is to get peo­ple to do the right thing. They don’t care why they do it.

Longines Chronoscope 12/07/1951 with Arthur Garfield Hays

This idea of find­ing a com­mu­nist under the bed seems me all non­sense. And the result of the whole thing is that Americans now are so timid about express­ing them­selves that we’ve prac­ti­cal­ly given up demo­c­ra­t­ic meth­ods and free speech. … The result is that we act as one and even on con­tro­ver­sial sub­jects we don’t find any debate in pub­lic life. And don’t dare.

Is Digital Culture Responsible for Post-Truth Politics?

I’m going to argue today that even while we know post-truth pol­i­tics is hav­ing a ter­ri­ble effect on our polit­i­cal cul­ture and our role as cit­i­zens, it’s curi­ous­ly dif­fi­cult to com­bat it because of a set of beliefs about what pol­i­tics is, and about the Internet and the way it enables ordi­nary peo­ple to have a voice. And the­se beliefs inter­sect with a pre­vail­ing anti-intellectual anti-elitism which asso­ciates knowl­edge, dis­cern­ment, and truth with snob­bery and pow­er.

Roger Scruton on Alternatives to Idealism

The 20th cen­tu­ry was cre­at­ed by ide­al­ism. Communism and fas­cism and Nazism are all based on ide­al­ized sys­tems, what the world should be ide­al­ly, and how it isn’t what it should be, and there­fore we’re enti­tled to change it rad­i­cal­ly and take con­trol of it in order to do so.

John Gray on Man, Beliefs, and Changes

One of the prob­lems here, of course, is that there’s no we.” Who’s we? I mean, humanity’s composed—the human species is composed—of bil­lions of sep­a­rate indi­vid­u­als with dif­fer­ent goals, dif­fer­ent plans, dif­fer­ent val­ues, and dif­fer­ent ide­als.

Longines Chronoscope 06/25/1952 with Senator Joseph R. McCarthy

I may say this, that if the Republicans should take over the Senate, I hap­pen to be the rank­ing mem­ber on the inves­ti­gat­ing com­mit­tee. That means that McCarthy would become Chairman of the Senate Investigating Committee. And if he does, I’ll make you one promise. That Leavenworth won’t hold them, Mr. Huie.

Longines Chronoscope 09/29/1952 with Senator Joseph R. McCarthy

You see, I’ve got a very strong feel­ing that most of our peo­ple in pub­lic life under­es­ti­mate the intel­li­gence of the American peo­ple. And they try to argue and tell peo­ple how to vote. I think you need mere­ly give the peo­ple the facts, and then you can go home and don’t wor­ry. They’ll vote right. 

Sean Wilentz on Donald Trump and the Crisis in American Democracy

I don’t think we’ve had any­body quite like Donald Trump before, in terms of the pol­i­tics of celebri­ty, which is what I think he’s real­ly about. It’s not sim­ply that he’s rich. We’ve had rich peo­ple in pol­i­tics before. He’s not sim­ply a busi­ness­man. We’ve had busi­ness­men in pol­i­tics before.

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