On the confluence of political and economic division in America

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The idea that an increasing sense of material precariousness can lead to cultural retreat from liberalizing “self-expression” values can help us understand why low-density white America turned out to support a populist leader with disturbingly illiberal tendencies. But this idea can also help us understand why our larger national culture seems to be growing apart in a way that has made it seem harder and harder to communicate constructively across the gap.

pub. 02/2017

Okay, this one is a bit of a challenging read. It’s an interesting analysis, though, and from a libertarian rather than liberal source. And there’s fun with data visualization.

De Correspondent on the EU security industry: Who it is, who’s paying for it, and where else the tech goes

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Early last year, journalists from the Netherlands’ de Correspondent contacted their counterparts across the EU, beginning a joint effort to answer questions about European security:

Bodycams, drones, border surveillance, airport scanners, lawful interception, facial recognition – high-tech gadgets are being developed by businesses and deployed across Europe. But what kind of businesses make these technologies? How much money do they earn from them? How are they working with governments? And do these tools really make us safer? We wanted to find out. Not on our own, but working with a team from all over Europe.

pub. throughout early 2017

They’re collecting the many and complex answers in their series Security for Sale; the articles are linked in the right sidebar of the page. Among other things, in a globalized and often opaque world, it’s great to see the collaborative efforts of investigative reporters in action.

A theory on why Europe dominated the second half of the last millennium

Take-home point: The balance between unity as a continent and separation of individual nations created an intellectual climate in which countries competed with each other but also shared ideas.

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We must recognise that Europe’s (and the world’s) Great Enrichment was in no way inevitable. With fairly minor changes in initial conditions, or even accidents along the way, it might never have happened. Had political and military developments taken different turns in Europe, conservative forces might have prevailed and taken a more hostile attitude toward the new and more progressive interpretation of the world.

pub. 02/2017

From Der Spiegel: Germany and Europe must stand against the US

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It is thus somewhat ironical that it is Germany, the country that is politically and economically dominant in Europe, that will now have to fill in many of the gaps created by America’s withdrawal from the old world order, the one referred to by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as “Pax Americana.” At the same time, Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won’t take shape. It is, however, absolutely necessary.

pub. 02/2017

On the upside, I wonder if, during an otherwise dark time, a Europe unified against the US could become a bastion of liberalism?

We’re on our way!

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Trump will try hard during his presidency to create an atmosphere of personal munificence, in which graft does not matter, because rules and institutions do not matter. He will want to associate economic benefit with personal favor. He will create personal constituencies, and implicate other people in his corruption. That, over time, is what truly subverts the institutions of democracy and the rule of law. If the public cannot be induced to care, the power of the investigators serving at Trump’s pleasure will be diminished all the more.

pub. 03/2017