Text Patterns: platforms and institutions

the majority will accommodate themselves to the faceless inflexibility of platforms, and will become less and less capable of seeing the virtues of institutions, on any scale. One consequence of that accommodation, I believe, will be an increasing impatience with representative democracy, and an accompanying desire to replace political institutions with platform-based decision-making: referendums and plebiscites, conducted at as high a level as possible (national, or in the case of the EU, transnational). Which will bring, among other things, the exploitation of communities and natural resources by people who will never see or know anything about what they are exploiting. The scope of local action will therefore be diminished, and will come under increasing threat of what we might call, borrowing a phrase from Einstein, spooky action at a distance.

Source: Alan Jacobs, Text Patterns: platforms and institutions

Mental dust

No longer do ideas, but interests only, form the links between men, and it would seem that human opinions were no more than a sort of mental dust open to the wind on every side and unable to come together and take shape. — Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

On college campuses, separate is still unequal – The Washington Post

The solution to this tension is surely open discussion in which everyone can participate. And yet, the prevailing ethos seems to be that if one feels hurt or offended that is the end of the discussion. You cannot understand another’s experience or arguments. But a liberal education is premised on precisely the opposite idea, one that requires not safe spaces to retreat to but a common space to engage in. And democracy requires that common ground, one that anyone can access. “I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not,” wrote W.E.B. Du Bois . “Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas, . . . I summon Aristotle and Aurelius . . . and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension.”

Fareed Zakaria, On college campuses, separate is still unequal – The Washington Post

Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy

Asking “[w]ho really rules?” researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.

via Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy.