« Commentary Magazine Podcast

The Year That Changed Everything… 1971? Really?

2021-01-05 | 🔗
Today's podcast steps back from day-to-day politics to feature our friend Daniel Casse discussing his fascinating Wall Street Journal op-ed, "The Future Turns 50 This Year."  How did 1971 change everything? Give a listen.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to the Commentary Magazine Daily podcast today is Tuesday January fifty twenty, twenty one? I'm John PATH, the editor of Commentary magazine with as always associate editor nor Rossman, high Noah, John Senorita, Christine rose high, Christine Jan executive editor, a green waldheim, Abe,
a job and joining us today, one of my oldest friends, pundits businessmen, consultants, Daniel CAS High Dan aid to be wiki back. So damn you published an up ad in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, in which you posited fascinating way that we in twenty twenty one are. We are enjoying the 50th anniversary of the modern world that, even though, if you look, if you consider the calendar- and you think about milestones, one thousand nine hundred and seventy one does not appear on any calendar as a milestone year. You know they've, there was no. There was no men didn't walk on the moon for the first time. You know the internet. Open. You know the polio vaccine wasn't found world war, two didn't end the Vietnam WAR, nothing! All of that like it's, not you don't look at it in
one thousand nine hundred and seventy one that was really the year that everything changed, but, according to you kind of it was the year everything changed. So can you have laid out for us well, thank you very much and it's good to be here, I theory was to write something at the beginning of the new year and look fifty years back at what happened. I've actually been thinking about nineteen, seventy one for all I am always suspicious when people trying to ascribe extreme profundity importance to any given year. Cuz. If you look at any of these Google Timelines, what happens? It is amazing what happened on any given year, but I contend one thousand nine hundred and seventy one was different
different from water reasons I could go into. But in that article, that you mentioned, I mentioned five things that not only were important in their time, but actually became more important in time and over the fire ass past five decades. You keep coming back to and I'll just mention quickly. One was Kissinger's trip to China in Secret, which open the doors to China. The weather was another. One was an FCC decision, then aloud m c. I a company. Nobody had heard of the actually introduce compact into long distance telephone calling a challenge? Eighty tee, a third was the opening of Disneyworld, something now everybody knows about them, but the time was uncertain what it would be, a fool was the creation of entails. For that I was in it for ship.
Tiny mark and technology, but was really the beginning of the computer age, and the fifth was decision by President Nixon to end the Bretton woods agree. something hardly anyone remembers every time, but it was the governing rule of internet a fine as it allowed any country to exchange gold for american dollars or american dollars for gold, and that was closed and was considered in many ways. Afterwards, the biggest economic disaster move ever made since the great depression. All those things happened. Nineteen, seventy one I can discuss more them in detail but my theory is: there are very few years where you see five decisions, each of which had enormous do your consequences. So, let's, let's, let's unpack the subtle, because I think arguably, given the list that you no more aid there it was it? Was this weird combination of entails chip?
and the M C. I and the decision to allow m c I into the federally mandated monopoly on long distance telephony. Few put those together. That's the modern world right! That's the computer, the personal computer, combined with the opening of telephony. I think I think, when you said long distance telephony, if I lost half your audience, I can kiss is all about growth club participation, the role of government and the role of the innovator and whether its Walt Disney or the engineers Indian tell, or the idea that China could be a partner of us all of those still by the way, seen as controversial or only one point, the all laid the seeds for something a lot bigger.
Now again, you can go to any other you'd say while this happened in sixty eight. This happened in ninety ninety five, I'm an amateur historian with the emphasis on amateur. I have a kind of concern. Missy cluster theory of history. That things happen in short, bursts of time and in seventy one. It is kind of way all this stuff was granted to it. By the way there were other things now has to start at the first Starbucks opened the twenty six them it is past moving the voting age from twenty one to twenty eight Charles Schwab, the first discount brokers starts and to grant papers are published in the New York Times. There is actually a lot of interesting things that happened in that's true. Many years, but seventy on the number of transformational things that were still living off of today, whether its monetary policy, China or computers. You actually see
the roots in seventy one. It was a year that it in a way which they formal end of the sixties and a kind of retreat of law, things that preceded it. Can I make a you guys are emphasising all these in a financial and technological innovations, but as a kid who was born a few years after seventy one in Florida, I am, they did a world generation and the in the transforming of nature of what Walt Disney World that theme park did not just for the state of Florida, but to the idea of what a childhood entertainment experience should be really was remarkable ray you go into Disney world and it was unlike anything else, and it was designed to be unlike anything else and walked. His knees. Vision was all encompassing. They literally designed the way you stood in line as a way to prevent you from becoming to board they. They had all these into.
since four line waiting for food service for constant in entertainment, no matter what you were doing while strolling all along the part in a way actually now looking back, makes our constant surveillance that the technology has enabled us to ensure that they were early precursors of that in Disneyworld, like everything was when you were inside the entertainment, in a way that previous estate, fair or previous amusement parks never pulled off in it who, from their right at center, is added on the movie studios and it in an Disney is now this global entity. This entertainment giant and it all a lot of that started in Florida mention some new ones. I was so happy when a radiance base, my guess Florida, giving Michel Disney World well for everything you say is right. I would emphasise this about Disneyworld Disney landed been around since nineteen. Fifty
five and was a very, very successful theme park. But I think you got onto something that made it different, which was to use cliche of the last number of years was scale. The sheer size you wouldn't bought, I think, gum. I think that Diet Disney World Disneyland in California was on sixteen acres, he bought twenty seven thousand curse of land, Central Lord George rose and swaps, and the original Disneyworld had occupied only a fraction of that. But the idea was we're. Gonna build something. So here
will encompass every type of experience which today is not only. What Disney is it's? What all entertainment has been global, multi, dimensional movies experience, games, hotels, visits sports and that founded seeds and nineteen seventy one. It was a concept. It didn't exist before that. You know I'm. I read a book last year called Disney's land, buyer, Bio historian and Richard Snow, an absolutely extraordinary port portrait of the construction of Disneyland, the conceptualisation and the construction Disneyland and what's sting? If you compare that cause it started in the early nineteenth fifties to Disney World was that it was like a kind of giant. train erector set
It was a hobbyists fantasy they come to life and Walt Disney was the hobbyist he had. This idea, everything that was done had to be built specially for it. The train there were served, train enthusiastic. There were the rides which no one had really done before. It was also based on timidly gardens in Denmark or an organ of Sweden. I came over where tabling arms is, but that, but that, basically it was a kind of personal obsessional notion tat taken off from not very farm and then taken to this new level right, but it was hand Q, that's what's so amazing about it was her hand, human and they were inventing things rules and parking stuff that no one had ever seen before job twenty years later- and you have an
for standing that what's being done is literally transformational like the Disney World Plan was a twenty two. Thirty year plan they revised it. They mended it and what they thought was going to be the central core of it, which was EPCOT, really turned out, not to be the central core of it. But it was this understanding that something new could be done to create this total experience that has become the it is the nature of all all entertainment that is goal essentially is either virtually or actually to have. You exist inside framework like Disneyworld, IP inner. Like I, if you're gonna see a movie, you want that movie to be a nest of twenty movies, like a rat.
doll in which you can serve sink yourself for multiple years and stuff like that, and so that's also a kind of image of the transformation of the world economy from something that was hand made an accidental to something that became like that. That idea of the pencil you know that nobody knows it takes a thousand people to make a pencil and nobody knows how to make a pencil. You couldn't make a pencil from scratch anymore, because you'd the goods that go into making a pencil- it's like you, can't make anything now without this kind of global economy, global vision that you say what started in
eighteen, seventy one in some real sets. Yeah, I'm look, I'm sure there are other examples you could find from other years. What's weird about? Seventy one is, it is the creation of all these are what we now call platform, businesses or platform ideas, and I think this is what you're getting at John an idea that other people build upon So that's obviously true. Starbucks truth. Computing in a weird way is true of the final actual system, which is what what is it that the United States monetary policy can do, and one of the things you can do is wrecked. The economy and the platform that eventually got in our modern of Federal Reserve became one that is used to having a role in the economy never had up until that point is our own talk about these cross parents and kind
It demonstrates how little we know about what the future is going to look like and in the moment causes in semi one. This is the year that Nixon declared himself a keynesian right. I'm a curious. How and out of the use of these monetary policy. Innovations at Camp David eventually arose the wage and price controls to combat inflation, which would culminate in like in blank or nineteen. Seventy three, these dramatic images of farmers, killing their own chickens and destroying their livestock and just of big, really dysfunctional economy but it was kind of popular at the time right loved it anyway. I can nine hundred writing this banner weight and price controls and to combat inflation. Place was really terrible to people like that that they weren't to two jazzed about the deregulation of the telecoms, which is essentially, I thing would eventually presage. This dramatic deregulation of telecommunications industries and with the future
the far future, as it were, but not too long at least a decade decade and a half later would would demonstrate. Is that the future wasn't wage and price controls, and it wasn't with protectionist trade policy, and it was with deregulating of telecommunications industries and half a dozen other industries culminating in the rise of Margaret Thatcher and the and the resting away of the kind of state control that had been there had been the presumed default for getting to economic, with an equitable that economic growth and everybody seems to have forgotten, at least in my generation lily younger. What would the turkish indications industry really looked like at that point if they will, if they had experienced- the time and which you didn't even only telephoning your house, I feel like they would have a different opinion of the kinds of the kind of equity that government and govern controls actually delivers in practice mean there. One
the telecommunications industry that the truth there, what there was the government and there was more bell- and that was it- there was no industry per se yeah. Basically the found that you had nineteen seventy one looked in marginally different than the phone you added. Nineteen thirty in may not have that cranky mechanism, but it had a dial. It may be Phones were introduced just about them, but that was about it. It was a blunt instrument murder weapon, my favorite yes, my favorite fact about the telecom age is that the facts
Jeanne somehow was in some people, think it was served and set it into being around nineteen. Eighty three, ninety, maybe four. Suddenly everybody had a fax machine and you could transmit documents, send them through phone lines, and this was just revolutionary answer led to email all kinds of the it broke, the Bonn the broke, the barrier of what the phone could do, but the acts machine had existed since the early nineteen. Twenty as it was in fact, the way that newspaper photography was transmitted the way AP sent photographs. Two newspapers was over something called the for a fax machine which you had in your newspaper, cost thousands and tat of dollars and the transmission of each photograph cost and the north
this amount of money to receive at why? Because it had to go over long distance phone lines which were regulated in a way to make the transit traffic than the transfer of information over them incredibly expensive. So once that price collapse, the long distance price collapsed. That was when you could start doing this thing that you could have done in nineteen. Twenty six everybody world could have had a fax machine in this house, might sway six if long distance, rates hadn't been set at this abnormal level. For reason, that are not entirely clear an end. So it's an interesting thing that that's what one thing that we learned from the from now from the break up of agency, which really started with this empty. I decision of nineteen. Seventy one was how how much government involvement
The economy, retarded innovation, to the extent that it innovation that had existed for fifty years was unavailable to normal people because of a prohibitive cost structure that was imposed by government. So so I don't want to lose one point in this I mean the true break up of eighteen. Tea came almost a decade later, because there is always some litigation. I thought what was important about. Nineteen, seventy one for telecom, was it took this tiny start up and see I which had been around for or seven or eight years, but it happened. try WWW Mcgowan, who was some got the founder. I think he was that he would became CEO. It was the leader of it who had this idea that I've got an idea. The idea was why we pain so much for long distance and I'm gonna take on the biggest company enemy Like other controls this, so there were start ups in the sixtys, but there were very few.
David forces Goliath stories which of course now is the story of all my business and that To me was the real departure and would take a nap decades before him see I've got huge funding from Michael Milken, but the idea that you'd go to court chow somebody else's power- and you were a small company and challenging the biggest company that there was- that was new, fascinating Youtube down. If one of the things that was so about your piece was that in all these revolutionary developments, I think, with the exception the ending Bretton Woods, the real impact couldn't be seen or felt for some. Years down the line right, which goes to show that we don't we We know we know today at an in general, we we. Wait omby amby on the Big NEWS stories that
and we declare them revolutionary when they may not in fact be- you know like I'm like the development of a three day printer, which I you know, which people sort of treated like kind of the moon landing in some way or self driving cars which may sort of never come to fruition result and in truth it it takes. Things have happened under the radar I'm sometimes or why for the economy and the culture and and then bear fruit. Oh, I think this is a profound point. I mean we can to fix on the things that are shocked. Big events, so people look at sixty eight Z, Robert Kennedy killed and Martin Luther King killed, which are dramatic, an important historical events that are Long term consequence is a little harder to articulate they weren't itself game, changing some of the landing on the moon, a huge event, its long term consequence less certain
These are exactly, as you suggest, the kind of hidden seeds that have been planted and only now In retrospect, we go back and see a all these things that shaped us actually found a route in a funny year, right so like in nineteen. Forty six, when essentially the semi conductor was, I believe, invented at nineteen forty six. Nobody knew that the invention of the semi conductor was going to be the signature fact of the second half of it. Many a century you couldn't have known somehow, because its application wasn't wasn't clear, it was an engineer. It was the. It was the answer to an engineering problem that was solved by these guys and they solve dead. One of them was led up. One of them was a crazy nazi lunatic and he solve that will shortly, but he didn't know David. no, what they had. They didn't know what the consequences we're gonna be and in some ways the very large largeness of the
mission to the moon, obscure the fact that everything that was going to be important, that came out of was going to be an ancillary, not the thing in itself, but some ancillary offshoot of it. You know what sort of like when the guy the guy at 3M invented the post. It note which service is probably the most significant thing, aside from scotch tape, the three m ever invented he was. Somebody was looking for someone to put something up in his cubicle that wouldn't make marks on the wall. I mean you know and so he invented at for himself. This is the Nature of innovation that when you look at one when somebody announces a massive innovation right like the SIG way right or something like that. It never does what is supposed to do, but also it yeah, ok, It reminds me of one of my favorite jokes, which is this electricity.
I think Mister Edison is fascinating, but what does it have to do with my chief shop of what yeah Muslims are? Just as you can help, but if it makes you wonder what should have hidden thinking, what developed now we're going to have these kind of long term consequences, and I wondered down if you ve, since you ve, been thinking about this. If you ve also gonna, try on your amateur futurists, tat and What do you know what that's a great idea levy? Let's let me let's get to it in a second. While I talk to again about our favorite new podcast Post Corona, hosted by my friend, Dan's old friend, Dancin or
New York City, a business man, writer, author of start up nation and the host of this podcast that seeks to address the question of what America and the world are gonna look like after we get through the vaccination and we get through corona and have to look at the world in a new way the end and how it will be. I told everybody yesterday about the the current edition of Post Corona with NEO Ferguson, the historian, who locates the historical analogy to our present moment, not in the spanish flu, nineteen eighteen, but in a pan, but in a flu pandemic in nineteen fifty seven, fifty eight, where there was also a historic
shortly fast vaccine, devise, developed and implemented, apparently in a better way than we did now and Ferguson goes into how this happened and why we might be looking at the wrong model. I did of I did one of these episodes withstand talking about the future of Broadway and New York City. There was another one with awry, HANS alarm and culture. Linus of the men had ensued. Also on on New York. It's a great podcast. I really recommended go to the Itunes store stature. Google play wherever you get your podcast posts, corona with dancing or you will. Thank me for this advice. Okay, so Damn future ism, I'm no future aside what anybody else's, but surely the conventional wisdom now, which is not necessarily wrong, is you're. Gonna, spend time on anything, that's going to affect the future
the artificial intelligence and machine learning and robots and software I I'm sure all of that is true, but the seventy a model, as a pointed out, means there's something else going on that we ought to be looking somewhere else, not where the lightest shiny. You know. If I had to guess it would be something to do with land either. We are there, therefore how land is used, something to do with travel. he's gone through its own disruptive year and may lay the foundation for some other kind of travel. Health is an obvious
sample, but maybe so obvious that maybe we should count on it so much as a game, changer and uh. You know I think Crypto is already the die is cast on that. So they'll be some sort of monetary thing, but I you know, I think what you want. You notice TAT one other thing I do think seventy one, even though all the developments I mentioned were kind of years in the making didn't suddenly flower, they did follow another year. Seventy, where a lot of stuff just kind of ended when I first started looking at this, I thought what happened at seventy. It's also kind of amazing, Janis, droplet dies, Jimi Hendrix die the Beatles break up. Cigarette advertising is banned on tv. So, like the party is over the Vietnam Prodi
to reach their lowest point. Kent state, so I am really does seem like people were ready for some kind of what he said. So I think all of it, have to do with some kind of behaviour. real changes that we don't know rather than in the high taxes which will be with us for ever, but I dont think those are the big things to watch. For I mean it some and you won't know when it happens, that the others there some weird there these moments of trends.
A show and they they come upon you and they ve happened before you understand the revolutionary nature of the change like there's a moment. Fifteen years after the introduction of the ATM machine, which itself by the way was an accident, was a kind of weird thing where Citibank said here with theirs. This new technology there's this kind of machine you can use where you can get money at it. We can figure it out and they they put some guy some executive vice president that nobody likes particularly apparently in charge of the atm machine to see what he could do with it has name was John Reed and he became the. He became the Sea
a city, because, of course the atm was revolutionary, but that you now suddenly you introduce them and in New York City people are standing on lines at ten o clock at night to get money out of the bank, because of course you couldn't get money, you couldn't get cash on the weekends. he went to a liquor, store to cast a check. This was a life change, but its fifteen. Sixteen seventeen years later that people don't give a second thought about not touching their paycheck. They get a paycheck, it goes into a bank, they never too they never see it. They trust that the amount of money that was in that check is automatically going to be deposited in their count and we'll be there without a second thought: they they they stop balancing their checkbooks
because they trust that the machine will do it better than they will say that this is where we dance point about the kind of that what it questions about human nature and human behavior really come into play because there was something happened with the transition to acceptance of things like digital banking, that we have now that the atm with a precursor of I remember our local bank. They put up all these cardboard cut out of tellers with the bank, teller, usually look like and surrounded the first atm machine with them, so people wouldn't freak out that it was a machine dispensing there as there was. This need for a sort of human stand and because human behavior suggesting that trust required a face to face interaction with another person, he has gotten rid of that. I think that brings a lot of potential harms for our future is meant as much as it does conveniences for a present notes, the interesting up only at least
logically, is that they still do that. Some version of that with digital casinos, there are casinos where, if you sit down at the you know the Bee Computerized blackjack table or wherever there is a screen with the dealer- rack smiling, you know you know, but I'm in his them in his book, an empire of wealth, our friend John, so Gordon, who contributed commentary bug makes his point about the early nineteenth century that the key moment in the early nineteenth century that really device in America and created the first populist revolt in the United Successful Popular wrote. The United States around Andrew Jackson was currency, which is of course, an idea, whereas
Jackson was a representative of the old barter economy, where you had an object and new trade at for an object. You didn't you didn't. You didn't, have a piece of paper that represented an asset, You could have to somebody else who would then accept it as a representation of value, and it was psychologically and Emma please intellectually, almost impossible for people to get this idea in their heads, and that was why there was the revolt against the National Bank and and this whole notion, currency was an evil. Now imagine two hundred years later, you know we're now we're moving inexorably beyond currency into the simple idea, yeah of currency being the idea I mean what is venerable then oh, is.
Someone gives you a service, you send. You opened an app, you press a button money. Goes from you to them. You I don't see the money, they don't see. The money they then use it to give it to a third person who doesn't see the money. There is no money deaths, oh there's, no physical money and you know, and an end in itself, there will be no fear that there will be no money under the mattress introduced, other boring nineteen. Seventy one idea of the United Kingdom use the decimal realisation of currency in eighteen. Seventy one o my reply to it. If you're a phantom Anthony trawl ups books, you know that that was the long live dream of one of his hearers plans into Nay Palliser, and a hundred after he wrote seventy one, they introduce the desolation of currency. Yes, it was. The tragic that's right and tragic life of
the land supplanting powers, chancellor of the exchequer, and all he cares about- is decibels coinage. The only thing he cares about so I'm just say it's some interesting because if you had said to people and not in two thousand and three that the most significant economic development in the United States in the first twenty years of the twentieth century would be a new form of oil extraction. would come into being in two thousand and seven and turn the United States from a net importer to a net. exporter of oil in eight years, people would have said you weren't same like what are you talking about? There's gonna be in? form of oil extraction assain, and that such an outcome would be undesirable. Whether people right I mean not just say that
It's a remarkable! That's what I mean when I say you just never know like the atm was this out. What is this thing? Let's go to the God, because it because our imaginative capacities are are very limited. I mean There are people, you know like William Gibson wrote, Neuro Man, Sir a novel that with it when I first read it and nineteen. Eighty three was incomprehensible to me, but it's simply a description of what it would be like to live inside the world of the internet, where you have an avatar and you're sort of involving yourself with like an oculist. Now it's nothing, but then it was like gibberish like I had no idea what it was that he was seeing her, what he understood that he captured, and so there is obviously some version of this now I just I don't know what it is, and I.
probably uniquely ill equipped, to make any any sense of it. But I mean two years ago everybody thought that Elon Musk was on his way, eight to self implosion. Right. He was gonna destroy himself. He was smoking dope, Joe Rogan. He was calling people give hope pedophiles on the internet. He was getting into trouble with the s he was like supposedly doing insider trading on the SSC and now last six months, suddenly he is going to lead us into the new space future which which is right as the alarm must the lunatic or as he is he Thomas Edison. I don't know why it up over their heads, distinguishable, american genius or genius generally, an eccentric city tend to go hand in hand. That is that is very true. You know what else is true I'll say what else is true? Mac Weldon sell some pretty great essentials for men.
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The United States remains the place where all things happen and I'm not making China verses. America argument, but there is now a fair amount of debate that even Europe, which has been left behind in the technology age, has now become a centre for some turf tech innovation. The internet, which has been dominate, dominate by american innovation may actually now become something where there's just as much activity, not only in China but throughout Europe, even South America. So I mean that might be the kind of platform changing thing that we see, but you know that the generally interesting thing about modern innovation. When you talk about the internet and everything the year, your user highlighted here is that most new industries that were accepted into being over the course of history were, of course, employment rich, like they needed
what happened, was people shifted from agriculture to factories or that you know that the needs of the new economy were overwhelming and dominating and they changed everything on a lot of the weirdness of our present economic comp complexity, is that so much of this ended up not being revolutionary in terms of finding people new ways to work, but in fact
eliminating jobs without creating new ones. I mean all of middle management in America was cut of displaced by the personal computer without a new middle management necessarily being created in its place, and- and we see this, for example, in a country like like Israel, which has gone from being a poor country to being a rich country in the space of a generation largely as a result of internet. You know remarkable innovation, but there is a lot of employment. It. Doesn't it this this. This field doesn't hasn't created a million new jobs in Israel that you know it's necessary for Israelis to shift into in order to that's, that's the that's the oddity of of where we are with a lot of these innovations that makes them new and different. Now, I'm in,
I think a lot of this depends on whether your fundamentally a pessimist, her an optimist and whether you view America, as in a slow decline or whether America remains these, the champion of new ideas when Adobe jobs in winter apology. Innovation is a good or a bad thing for society. I know what I have no idea, but I do think it. Oh, I do think looking for the question is whether this is the best place to be. If you want to be part of the future, but where, where would what place would that be with urban? That's the it's like. It's likely, how's your wife. Compared to what you know. I mean every problem:
You haven't America, it's not clear that there are other places that are never the classic thing that the american rise is, of course, that we weren't clouded. By the same. You know old bodies that clotted up your they possibly for european innovation. We didn't have the class structure, we didn't have the the aristocracy. We were a new country that could serve build itself from scratch without having to deal with old problems, and it's not clear that there is any place like that with exceptional place like Israel made. But again that's in one corner right, I don't what play is clear of the kinds of difficulties that we have, or can you diverse that did a divorce the kind and attractive climate from an attractive business, climate, innovative climate from political
and political liberalism. It sort of an antiquated notion. I think first sophisticates, you don't really improve, who take for granted the you know that the water in which they swim in western democracies but the events in Hong Kong, for example, in twenty nineteen and elsewhere, demonstrating the desire for political liberty, remains an essential feature of the human condition and that they will jeopardize the ECB like circumstances in its pursuit suggests that This is not something that is going away and is not going to be a trend that that will just simply disappear over the course, the twenty first century of the world's sedated by technological innovation, economic prosperity. I don't think that's the case and we can probably will see as much political turmoil in an authoritarian states and over the course of this century, as we had in the last on it. It is a useful point,
some of the recent news this past week out of China right you have the New York Times writing these are basically almost propagandistic per he's about how great it is. If your chinese right now, oh, you can go out, they control the pandemic. It so excellent. No mention of the internment camps, no mention of any of the violations, human rights can soon. I guess that's, not gonna fourth, the narrative, and then you have one of China's most famous businessmen, Jack MA, it's kind of disappear rate. He you said something critical of the regime in the fall and no one's heard or seen him since so there are these these, these sort of strange little, almost novel listing moments in our major are looming. Major competitors that current environment that we deliberately try not to see because it does not suit. The sort of NEO liberal narrative about is certainly the by
Administration narrative about China, but it is, I think, when we look back fifty years from now, some of those events are gonna be seen is quite compelling, I think, most notably the weaker concentration camps in the west, absolute inability to confront what that, what they really mean. Also what I've got. It is just a small side point, but in response to this narrative that what China did right with the virus that with a weak with we should done. One of the things tried it. It was ok vaccines before trials, which was which was the very, which was the very thing that the entire of media establishment was was certain Donald Trump was going to do to our certain than total death. Nobody in China stood up and said. I am not going to take that vaccine cause. I can't trust it. I mean you know
part of the issue here, as if you're talking about where, where should you be? If you want to be part of the future and you shouldn't even in the United States, should be elsewhere is of we haven't- talked about this Nixon, the the opening to China, as I said that it was the phone and was empty. I and now you know that that was more important, but ever arguably, if you, if you can locate China's revolutionary change to the american opening to China, which I don't know if you can really, but let's just stipulate that Youtube. You could then, obviously it's the most important development of nineteen nineteen, seventy one that that this sir, the beginning, this relationship. But of course that was not on Nixon's or Kissinger's mind at all. They were looking for
counter. They were looking to create the conditions under which there was not a unified communist threat or to or to hasten the D. Between the Soviet Union and an Maoist Chow, and to make sure that there was a kind of iron wall between them that we could somehow create the conditions in which they could be rivals and therefore are observed from the Soviet Union would be lessened because it would also have to look to its east and not just to us and to where's the notion that we would be looking fifty years late, Loretta China that threatened to out distance us in economic growth. I I've read and I've read Kissinger's memoirs. I see no evidence
that was any such thought was even remotely on everybody's mind. Now, because nobody ever thought China could become a pure nation. I think to go back and always point in seventy one. Political liberty was championed by everybody in the west and envied by the citizens of every everywhere else, where they didn't have it. That, unfortunately, is not the situation today, either here at home, in the west or in any way towards oratorians regimes, and I think we now live in a world and are much less than this is. This is the particular moment, a turning point where there are questions about political liberty as a good as a human, good and enemies of it around, and I think for the first time in fifty years. There's a challenge should an idea. I mean the odd
of course is that is that I think no no is pointing out that that is likely not true within the body politics of these places. But it is true in the intelligentsia that we are. We find ourselves with very few voices that say look we had this. There was this side notion abroad in the land in the ninety nine, these that China's economic liberalization wouldn't leave necessarily inexorably as us, law iron was of a physics or mathematics or something to political Realisation that the story of the twenty tens was that as she and the leadership in China said no we're. Actually, we are actually It's a harness are economic power to destroy whatever shoots of liberty there might be in China and now the question is why
is there? Will we see a rise of of of dissidents? I mean it. Will there be what there was. in the communist world. It throughout the twentieth century, in the NEO, authoritarian, NEO Communist, where we want to call it world in the twenty first. Well, I mean all due respect to Milton Friedman. I think if you look at China, that the theory doesn't the thoroughly play out, but if you only limit your focus to China, you're doing it. The services theory in part because economic liberalism doesn't get political liberalism, political liberalism does began economic liberalism and the notion here that you know political liberalism and liberalism are intertwined. I think it's is is supported when we look at states, for example, in Eastern Europe, and in central Asia that have engaged in a sort of a retraction credit curtailed economic liberalism are applied.
Liberalism, and have that what followed was restrictions on economic activity in order to preserve the those risk. Since on political liberty. So there is a link there. The problem that people injured intellectuals who have you know this high minded idea that american Liberty, that sort of liberty- that's pretty prudent practiced in the west. is not satisfactory, doesn't satisfy the solar. What have you whatever their arguments are, is that there is no competing model of social organisation. Anymore marches, Leninism, imploded. I ain't really the only alternative to the area. This organisation that we ve seen since was practiced in the ICES Caliphate. Everything else elsewhere is a monoculture generally speaking a monoculture economically and Marge politically and we haven't seen any alternative that is remotely viable being produced or theorize much less practiced out was the
Oh god, I was gonna, give you one other nineteen, seventy one fact it was the John Rawls published a theory of justice which, whenever you may think of it, has been studied in every political philosophy, wanna one course in the United States. It is the best selling and most in full, shall work of modern political philosophy, whatever that made me, and it was really Thea the peak intellectual achievement, a modern liberalism, the try to blend political liberty with complete commitment to equality and that quality and liberalism had to go together. At that theory, study by everyone has had almost any waning political impact across the world in real politics. It's not really the debate. The people discuss any more money and intellectuals, I suppose, but the various social justice that here too
related still has a compelling power over a very overrepresented faction, and particularly in the West and John roles abandoned his own prescriptions when he couldn't get from point a to the equality point b that he wanted to sell it sort of its is the pinnacle of liberal thought as it did, it doesn't observe any sort of doctrine. I think part of the reason that brawls failed in that way. If he failed, I mean you it's hard to say that a book as central to the ways in which the elite in the world think, as that could be a failure, is that he was actually a Christian who believed in a kind of christian S. Catalepsy of of you know that that you could, you could realise not that were in the not kind of presbyterian one, but you could. You could realise a kind of Christian.
Goodness in the hearts of men and and and modern secular liberalism, does not have any optimism in it that of the sort that christian liberalism brought to liberalism, emitters, liberalism that said that, where a net inexorably progressing to a better world, but the moral frame of a theory of justice is that we is that we will be better because we will not only be enlightened, but we will come to me saved by our grasp. Grip of this idea and modern liberalism now is incredibly pessimistic, eminent seized by by by a belief in fault,
What's it is present with all its rousing, thought was pessimistic in so far as it believe. Justice was a finite commodity that needed to be distributed only so much existence of its very much a liberal theory of the world that that which exists in in its final form and that needs to be distributed equitably and enlightened fashion, because if you have it Reynolds doesn't modesty as it is for the theory of justice. Yeah, but I do think that rules of fury was based on the other. The people were fundamentally good and would make good choices if they knew anything if they knew nothing else behind what he called a veil of ignorance. I think Johns right here. Modern liberalism is completely imbued with the spirit of envy. Structural, tearing down enemies, identifying enemies and I think that's the biggest change since they saw since the days of seventy one were people
let's choose equality and social justice for all, but it's weird because there's an alongside that pessimism is a strange but almost utopian belief in the perfectibility of systems, not individuals. Right, there's not there's no hope for these. You don't move individuals; they must be brought into enlightenment and knowledge by these secular priest that we now have a ordained. But the idea of these new at this idea of equity versus equal, Maybe these systematic racism that we have to combat the system can be perfected, but the individuals or fallen is a weird sort of switch. I think from what we're talking about with rules, and I also think there is the despair I mean. That's the other part of of of modern those on which was very much present by the way. Nineteen, seventy one, which was a deeply pessimistic time in the United States, will inspire the thing that you know that this is the
A lot of what was going on here, including the outreach to China and everything else, was taken place at a time when there was a terrible crime spike. There were, you know our inflation was growing, you know view as Vietnam were seen to be dragging on with no words sense of how it might be brought to a conclusion. It was just that out there was drug abuse everywhere at Vienna was really at horrible sad low depressing moment. but now we have liberalism in the grip of the idea that if we don't do something in the next five years, the planet is going to be destroyed and at their solutions they they can't. Even articulated in the way of you know if we do X, Y and Z, it'll be great.
it's like will not only save the planet put, things will be good well by the way of the, we have been destroyed also goes back to dance peace because, as he, I think mention in this Greenpeace got off the ground in that's right now in eighteen, seventy one as well but but John yeah, that last point you make his true, because, while a lot of people- Understandably, compare the present leftist convulsions to marxism and label. It Marxism, we're gonna, NEO Marxism. What it actually lacks at Marxism had falsely, but still pretended to have was eight was a kind of scientific analysis Right Marxism proposal, who is to be a sort of scientific theory and and and so there's so they don't it's not solution or
it doesn't have the illusion of us of solutions in store the way that traditional marches does its it. That's why the focuses almost purely on the destruction. Well, I mean, although marks himself had this bizarre, that you now, if you, if you, if you begin to their commerce, manifesto and suffering if there were there, was that there is that bizarre kind of almost com utopian as I'm right that you achieve it and then you're you get to be a farmer in the morning and a poet in the afternoon and composer in the evening, and all that aside, but will melt into air and everything will be free and easy and am and wonderful will vanish entirely right into about what what we don't have in that in this current reckoning is right that that damn I, if you if
You accept that black lives matter in the way that we, it is described to us and that the whole society Spiro ordered in this way, so clear what what will be improved? Exactly that's not what's on offer This is all repetitive right. It's all it's all bad things have been done and we need to fix them, but it's not clear what fixing them is going to achieve and then, as I say like, if you go into global warming, which is one of the three pillars of the Biden Vision is we know we have to do so. Thing about global warming. What is it that has promised that the end of the effort to to contain global warming? I mean, I suppose, what's promised- is that the planet won't.
for heat and explode, but very little else is promised them in. There is green jobs. Right there's end will will invent green jobs, but that's not where the passion is no in saying we need to do this because we could invent millions of green jobs right it's. we are on the brink of an upon its two minutes to midnight- it's just it's just the nuclear freeze and and no nukes all over again without any promise of what the world will be like if we follow their prescriptions. But I will tell you this as when talking about these changes and and how the internet may be given birth to in some ways in nineteen, seventy one and his Christine said Disney World kind of began create, got a million surveillance state. That's wanted to expressly pm cause. You know we have all these internet
service providers and they have their kind of monopolies in the regions they serve and they use their monopoly power stake advantage of customers with data cap streaming throw and they logarithm activity and sell data on you to other big tech companies are advertisers to prevent as peace from seeing my internet activity. I protect all my devices with expressway p m. So what is it it's? A simple after your computer or smartphone, then crypts, all your network, data and tunnels through a secure, vps server so that your internet service I cannot see any of your activity if you just think about how much Your wife is on the internet. Listen every site. You visit every video, you watch every message you send gets tracked by ice, peace or other tech giants. Who can then sell your information for profit? That's the
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Is there a single word in that add that would make the slightest steel and that I think the the point right is that if we flash forwards, twenty, seventy one whatever add, is, on the whole, a graphic projection system in Europe POD on the on pattern is gonna, be full of terminology and offers and things that we won't even begin to understand. But here's appoint a question. I want to conclude with these things that we're talking about. You know the internet in this than the other thing. What what strikes me as the makes them different from the kinds of things that then you were saying futurists of today, would look at right, machine learning, robots this. That is that there is in some of that vision. Something repellent right that there's some kind
human replacement intellectual replacement, were there get things are going. I planted in our bodies, we're gonna, do it there's something cringe and do singly frightening, like the limits of human existence, are being challenged or threatened, and that's maybe, where this stuff is gonna, fall short that that this image of the future has come be cannot, cannot make us cannot. We can't go into a future in which we are horrified by the changes that are being wrought. Those changes have to seem good, not bad. You know people get repetitive surgery now. You know. I'm in the cochlear implant is a miracle right. People people look at it. You think. That's me
uncle the death can here, but you know, if I'm gonna be part robot. I dont know that I'm gonna think that that's a miracle, even though maybe the cochlear implant is a version of being part robot. I don't know. I really can't wait to be by robot test for all Aunt has a purpose, not your mouth, no popular land, someone! I want my phone in my eye: you know. I got a skeleton eye level that stuff you know. I don't like to question robot versus Schuman. I think the question- and this seems to me to be most pertinent today- is whether isolation versus community or verses lots, crowded places is the future. You know we were coming out of a long period of isolation where we largely isolated and I think a lot of the time.
College leads to a degree of isolation if we choose to use it. That way and to me, that's that's a big question. I have no idea whether it some it to be found, and I think, to twenty twenty one but I do when I look at it. I don't I don't ask: is this this technology, gonna turn me into a robot or take over my human activity. I then I had rather vague. Is this going to be made? Make me more like plea to get out of my house or not and meet other people? Ok, Christine I always come to you and say you are resident luddite later I am recent his sagacity. So where do you come down on this question? I think Dan's right, I think I think, what's creepy, the idea of replacing things that we as modern creatures believed to be our human weaknesses, overlooks a few steps which is its summit
things that make us weak, are also what makes us human so trying to replace them through saying ghetto, algorithmic, perfectionism or you know, machine learning or machine intelligence These things often stumble on these extremely basic human weakness is like the fact that we are inherently tribal. We are prejudiced. We are completely capable of massive amounts of self delusion, and so when you create things that remind you of those weaknesses, it's best to confront them head on, not to say we ve improved. Our soul, by ignoring them and putting a machines play, so I think no, I would make a before human hybrid robot, because it has a conscious than he's a moral human being. I can't say that about a lot of my fellow human beings, because I have the pessimism of the conservative, but I think Dan's right to think about community
this goes to. One of the current debates were having about our technology, in particular social media, which is what is done to democracy. What it has done to our ideas of liberalism and the ability to take part in thinking speak freely. We have seen in recent years, what a lot of people warned early on, which is it with all the benefits, inconveniences will come costs and I think we have to start adding up those Carson and honest way if we're going to move forward into a world where the stuff helps us and doesn't help us destroy each other, and with that thanks to a damn cast for this incredibly stimulating set of topics
that allowed us a brief respite from the garbage news that is, that is consuming the world. Today, we will be back to Morrow with that with a sad. Sadly, we will be back to ordinary pundits tree in dealing with Georgia, elections and stuff like that, but tat, but today we got a blessing ring from it. Damn thank you again and for Racine Noah enabled John put words, keep the camel burning.
Transcript generated on 2021-05-21.