Reading George Fox

Initial Thoughts About “religious myths recycled as ersatz social science”

@ayjay wrote a strong piece challenging tensions within contemporary liberalism. I need to spend more time digesting it and the piece by John Gray that he links to. Here are some initial reactions though:

  • Gray claims that liberal elites have run the West for the past 30 years. Yet, from the 80s onwards the US has been on a rightward march from the economic liberalism of the New Deal through the Great Society. Conservative thinkers and Republicans seem to have been setting the terms of the debate.

  • The austerity in response to Great Recession had much more to do with conservative Austrian Economics than liberal Keynesian solutions. How much have the resulting economic shocks fueled the extreme left and right? Also, the Chicago School’s 90s shock therapy for Russia may have quite a bit to do with their illiberal turn.

  • I guess the upshot of the above is a question about the relationship between economic beliefs and social beliefs. Has the move back towards conservative economics and greater income inequality affected the place of liberalism within society? Are conservative social beliefs connected to the conservative economic approach? And, if so, how does that relationship affect the liberal response to the former?

  • I need to re-read Coates’ article, but as I remember it, the essence was that because so much of America’s wealth was built off of the violent exploitation and oppression of African Americans, reparations are the only potential way to make amends. And that reparations will force America to acknowledge the continuing legacy of white surpremacy, just as German reparations has helped their acceptance of responsibility for the Shoah.

  • Arguments about the most effective way to address injustice have a history of being used to deflect change. I think it can be easy to advocate calm and restraint when one is not personally suffering from the problem. Aggressive action may be necessary to bring the existing tensions to the surface. Where there is systematic oppression, sometimes the best thing for the privileged to do is just listen and follow.

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