Sunday, March 11, 2012

The end of American exceptionalism?

David Brooks has long argued that Americans are becoming more conservative and reembracing older values. According to a recent NYT article (“The Go-Nowhere Generation”), this may be partly true. It says that even before the crisis young Americans had become almost twice less likely to move across state borders or to even leave the family nest. The authors argue it would be terrible for Americans to become risk-averse, and twenty-somethings should not think twice before hopping on a Greyhound bus that will take them to a neighboring state with lower unemployment numbers. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

The marketplace of ideas

Nick Cohen passes for a leftist British intellectual. Yet he seems strangely oblivious to all those Gramscian allegations about an oppressive "ideological hegemony" suffocating the downtrodden in bourgeois societies. A couple of weeks ago he wrote a comment for Time Magazine criticizing political censorship in Europe ("The Right to Be Wrong"). His ire was provoked by the aborted French legislation meant to criminalize denial of the alleged Armenian genocide in the Ottoman empire. What is Cohen's main argument? He thinks "European judges and politicians have an aristocratic fear that if they grant the masses unrestricted debate, mobs will embrace revolution, racism or fascism. They do not believe that bad arguments can be defeated by better ones in a free society."

Poor Whitney

I am still thinking of Lehrer's point about the link between creativity and self-control (see previous post). If we take this seriously, then the tragic downward spiral of Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, and countless other creative types would hardly come as a surprise; to say nothing of the careerwrecks experienced by Mel Gibson or Lars von Trier who would rather direct their impulsive outbursts at others...