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  • Mark Zuckerberg as Political and Social Philosopher

    Posted by David Foster on March 7th, 2017 (All posts by )

    A long essay by the founder of Facebook includes this assertion:

    History is the story of how we’ve learned to come together in ever greater numbers — from tribes to cities to nations.

    To which Steve Sailer responds:

    As we all know, independence and diversity have always been the enemy of progress.

    For example, that’s why Thomas Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Dependence submitting the American colonies to the British Empire.

    Similarly, the father of history, Herodotus, wrote to celebrate the mighty Persian Empire’s reduction of the various Greek city-states to a satrapy ruled from Babylon.

    Likewise, every year Jews gather to admit that their stiff-neckedness provoked the Roman Empire into, rightfully, smashing the Temple in Jerusalem on the holy day of We-Had-It-Coming.

    And, of course, who can forget Shakespeare’s plays, such as Philip II and Admiral-Duke of Medina Sidonia, lauding the Spanish Armada for conquering the impudent English and restoring to Canterbury the One True Faith?

    Similarly, Oswald Mosley’s prime ministership (1940-1980) of das englische Reich is justly admired for subordinating England’s traditional piratical turbulence to the greater good of Europe.

    Likewise, who can not look at the 49 nations currently united by their adherence to the universalist faith of Islam and not see that submission is the road to peace, prosperity, and progress? If only unity had prevailed at Tours in 732 instead of divisiveness. May that great historical wrong be swiftly rectified in the decades to come!

    (links via Isegoria)

    Zuckerberg’s assertion about history being about “coming together in ever larger numbers”…with the implication that this is inherently in a good thing…is quite reminiscent of the views of Edward Porter Alexander, a Confederate general and later a railroad president…as excerpted in my post What are the limits of the Alexander analysis?

    Following his initial snarkiness, Steve Sailer goes on to point out that “consolidation is some times a good thing, and other times independence or decentralization is a better thing. Getting the scale of control right all depends upon the circumstances. It’s usually a very interesting and complicated question that is the central issue of high statesmanship.”

    Thoughts?

     

    33 Responses to “Mark Zuckerberg as Political and Social Philosopher”

    1. Xennady Says:

      He’s a fool.

    2. Mike K Says:

      Zukerberg, beneficiary of the free market does not understand what happened to him.

    3. morgan Says:

      Yes Xennegy he is a fool. Unfortunately, he is a very rich fool and, like the vile George Soros, can use his wealth to push his agenda. He can buy politicians, journalists, academics and similar fools in the arts and entertainment world to parrot his line. His foolishness compounds his danger.

    4. JohnS Says:

      I think Ronald Coase had a better concept of it.

    5. Xennady Says:

      Yes Xennegy he is a fool. Unfortunately, he is a very rich fool and, like the vile George Soros, can use his wealth to push his agenda. He can buy politicians, journalists, academics and similar fools in the arts and entertainment world to parrot his line. His foolishness compounds his danger.

      Bingo.

    6. David Foster Says:

      I do give Zuckerberg credit for trying to wrestle with these issues; however, I question whether he has the intellectual equipment to do so successfully. By which I don’t mean that I’m questioning his IQ…rather, I wonder whether he has made a serious attempt to read history and to read political/social thinkers….Has he read Tocqueville, for example, who had much to say about spontaneous organizations in America? Has he read Chesterton? Burke? Smart people have been thinking about these things for a long time.

      I also have to wonder how many people he knows personally who are outside the Silicon Valley, Ivy League, and ‘Progressive’ bubbles.

    7. Xennady Says:

      I wonder whether he has made a serious attempt to read history and to read political/social thinkers….

      I’m going to go with “no.”

      Like Henry Ford, he made a lot of money after figuring out how to do something that would make him rich- and now because he is rich he thinks he knows everything of importance. Again, no.

      However, I do congratulate him for learning Mandarin. Kudos to you, globalist billionaire. You talk to your wife.

      Yay!!

    8. David Foster Says:

      Xennedy….the Ford comparison is an interesting one, and actually kind of chilling given Ford’s malign political influence. And Zuckerberg has far more power than Ford ever did given his position at the center of information flows.

    9. Grurray Says:

      He famously read Ibn Khaldun a couple years ago as an installment in his book club

      http://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerberg-the-muqaddimah-2015-6

      Maybe this is where he came up with his cockamamie unitarianism?

      I don’t know. It’s still on my to-read list (alas, a list growing exponentially). I suspect he drew the wrong conclusions, but I couldn’t say for sure definitively.

      Did he get it wrong?

    10. David Foster Says:

      Grurray….interesting that he read Ibn Khaldun. I’ve only read excerpts, but IK clearly understood the concept of the Lafffer Curve…in 1377.

      http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/13202.html

    11. Phil Ossiferz Stone Says:

      He’s a high-tech oligarch, like most of the Silicon Valley glitterati. Like them, he is very good at one thing and functionally retarded outside of it. Like them — like most urbanites who live there, in fact — he thinks his way of life and mode of thinking is completely normal. And I cannot imagine that even his highly compartmentalized genius has made his organization any less helter-skelter than any of the ones I saw up close and ugly, from the inside.

      Example #1: When I was working at (unnamed large company in Silicon Valley), a salesman in Germany entered his initials in the wrong field and caused a $2 billion dollar per year database to crash. It took three frantic days to bring it back up…. and as senior tech pubs guy, I was immediately tasked with documenting the entire affair and incorporating it into their disaster recovery guide. At least they had the brains to do triage.

      Example #2: The last contract I worked in the East Bay was with a (another unnamed medium-sized company) that processes… a common form of commercial transaction, let us say. As in the lion’s share of such transactions that take place in the entire farking country. They didn’t even *have* a disaster recovery guide. And the backup plan for their database was to have a student intern put it all on a thumb drive once a month, drive down to San Jose, and store it in a safe belonging to another company. That was it. It would have been cheap and easy to have some form of offsite storage and/or a small mirror facility in, say, Salt Lake City, but no. That would take, like, preparation and money and stuff. As a result, the first medium-sized quake or fire or burglary they experience will kill that company stone dead and bring an entire sector of our online economy to a screeching halt for the foreseeable future.

      Nobody who has not worked in the Valley can imagine the amount of greed and inefficiency and ruthless Dilbertesque stupidity that governs it, and how often it is rescued and redeemed by brilliant individuals on an ad hoc basis, and how much of it is run on plain old fashioned tribal oral lore passed down from one sysadmin to the next. The much-ballyhooed ‘Internet of things’ is stuck together with bubble gum and paper clips and greasy Stick-It notes, and is all the worse for the billions of lines of undocumented spaghetti code banged out by lend-lease Hindu engineers.

      I am less that enthralled with handing over the reins of power to these unelected pie-in-the-sky *ssholes. The robber barons of the late 19th century were brutal and ruthless, but they had genuine vision. The modern variety has an IT hammer and views the rest of the world as a series of nails.

    12. Alan K. Henderson Says:

      Zuck’s vision of the future assumes high-cooperation societies. He hasn’t demonstrated knowledge of how such societies emerged.

    13. David Foster Says:

      Steve Sailer’s remark that: ““consolidation is some times a good thing, and other times independence or decentralization is a better thing. Getting the scale of control right all depends upon the circumstances. It’s usually a very interesting and complicated question that is the central issue of high statesmanship”….is also highly applicable to business organizations.

      It is often assumed that consolidation is more efficient…and the ‘synergy’ estimates in merger justifications often make this assumption…but that conclusion frequently ignores the very real frictions and conflicts that consolidation can bring.

      Tom Watson Jr of IBM, in his superb autobiography, provided a simple but interesting example. IBM once sold electric typewriters, as well as punched card equipment and computers, and these products were being sold by a common sales force. Watson eventually concluded that the typewriters just weren’t getting much respect or attention: salesmen who were focused on complicated solution-selling to executives and data processing managers just weren’t that interested in selling typewriters to senior secretaries for what must have been a considerably lower $ number in most cases. He finally split the sales force, with separate reps for the typewriter business, and typewriter sales improved greatly.

      My review of TW’s autobiography:

      http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/42515.html

    14. Brian Says:

      The notion that the Dems just need to run a celebrity (Tom Hanks, etc.) or a billionaire (Zuck, Oprah, Cuban, etc.) shows they really, really, really don’t know what happened last year.

    15. Grurray Says:

      He may have just thrown in Ibn Khaldun as a Muslim-friendly PC gesture. He probably has a team of people reading his books and giving him the cliff notes, editing out any objectionable common sense. I don’t know how else he would square his top-down consolidating with Khaldun’s bottom-up asabiyyah.

      To Phil’s point, the recent shenanigans with Marc Andreessen and Zuckerberg paint a troubling picture of the business culture the Valley

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-08/facebook-s-investors-criticize-marc-andreessen-for-conflict-of-interest

      Interesting revelation in there about how Zuck planned to work for Hillary while still running Facebook. As if he wasn’t working for her already. I guess he just wanted to start getting paid for it.

    16. EdSievented Says:

      Zuckabird needs to start by reading, and understanding, Leo Straus, Harry Jaffa, and Walter Bern. Then, with humility, he can attempt to tackle the big subjects.

    17. Brooks Says:

      David Foster: The IBM Selectric II was the most amazing typewriter ever. I learned to type on the Royal my mother had typed my father’s PhD dissertation on in 1948. I remember that changing the ink ribbons could be messy. When the keys jammed, you just reached in and pulled them apart. In my speed-typing days, I could get the Selectric II to jam at around 130 words (ten plus strokes a second–molto vivace). And I’d have to replace the type balls often. That was a wonderful machine!

      Brooks

    18. Rich Rostrom Says:

      Playing the Devil’s Advocate: History is in large part people forming larger and larger communities of trust. That’s a form of “coming together”.

      In tribal societies, everyone is in danger of being robbed or murdered by anyone who isn’t a member of the same clan group – 50 to 100 people.

      In early agricultural societies, there are village communities of a few hundred to a few thousand. In early civilizations, this extends to confederations of villages. The next step is the nation-state, and eventually the empire.

      Each level can be oppressive, but they arise as larger and larger groups of people agree not to rob and kill each other, and to follow the same laws – and to engage in larger and more complex activities.

      Today, we have communities of trust covering the world – the Internet, the global aviation system, the global banking system, the global telecom system, the global maritime system (that one is well over a hundred years old), the scientific community. The film industry: it’s fairly common for a film to be “produced” (planned and financed) in one country, be shot in two or three others with a multi-national cast, and employ technical services from still others. International sports competition is another.

      All this may fairly described as “coming together”.

    19. David Foster Says:

      Rich….yes. But one should not conclude that because *some* things benefit from larger scale, *all* things do.

      And the ‘community of trust’ which exists among customers and merchants using a particular credit card…while very valuable…is quite different from the community of trust that exists among a group of individuals who know one another personally and have done business together for years.

    20. mhj Says:

      “coming together in ever larger numbers” sound distinctly more fascistic than anything i ever heard come out of The Donald’s mouth or Twitter account. Stamp out dissent among the proximate group, and then expand—sounds downright Hitlerian.

      Which is not to argue for anarchism, but the purpose and substance matter.

      A large group of people can function as a hospital or a violent mob… depending.

    21. David Foster Says:

      It strikes me that American ‘progressivism’ today is both supra-nationalistic and sub-nationalistic, i.e. tribal. While at one hand assertiong belief that we’re all the same and calling for an increasing level of world government, the very same people often emphasize tribal identities: as a Hispanic, as a Black person, as a woman, as a gay…as being overwhelmingly more important than national identity.

      Regarding tribalism/sub-nationalism, it is interesting that Anne Frank’s father, Otto, was an officer in the German Army in WWI. That got him no points when Germany moved all the way over from nationalism to tribalism.

    22. Jonathan Says:

      David, if I recall the Nazis had preference hierarchies even for people they considered inferior. Jewish war veterans and Jews married to non-Jews were somewhat privileged, which in practice meant they were arrested later than other Jews were.

    23. Ginny Says:

      I’m sorry if this is off topic, but I don’t think it is.

      Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates where tribalism and a certain religion define loyalties:
      “On a blustery March day, Adams, Jefferson and Abdrahaman convened at the house of the Tripolitan envoy.” So, “the gold Abdrahaman demand that day was beyond the reach of the United States.” Kilmeade observes that “greed alone couldn’t explain the madness and cruelty of the demands.” Apparently Adams tried to master his usual bluntness but did ask the justification for “war upon nations who had done them no injury.” The “chilling” response was “all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave.”

      Apparently, Jefferson had purchased the Qur’an when he was reading law, but “found its values so foreign that he shelved the volume with books devoted to the mythology of the Greeks and Romans.” Twenty years later, he remained perplexed, but suspected that reasoning wasn’t going to work.

      Over two hundred years later I remarked on my real worry that in the no go enclaves, Shar’ia law reigns and polls often note its popularity even in Western Europe and here among refugees. My brother replied that worry was surely unrealistic: that system was just nuts. Well, yes, if you begin with the value of our culture. But we can’t file this thinking away with the Greek and Roman myths – as Jefferson found out. And any belief system with the staying power of these centuries – when so much around those tribes and those beliefs has changed – is not going to go easy into the dustbin of history. Surely that is because it begins with something in us: it reinforces that innate sense of the tribe, which, tempered by the sense of universality of our religions and our founding documents, can make us heroic in protecting and nurturing our own, while aiming at a more universally applicable sense of justice and mercy.

    24. David Foster Says:

      Ginny…any belief system which is excessively lacking in self-confidence will be highly vulnerable to a belief system which has total self-confidence. An immigrant/refugee moving to a society which shows little self-respect will be far more likely to hold onto the values of his origin culture than one moving to a more self-confident society…or indeed, if he is a child of immigrants, to rediscover those values and treat them in a more absolutist manner than his first-generation-immigrant parents did.

      Arthur Koestler discussed the issue of civilizational self-confidence in fictional form in his novel The Age of Longing..in that book, the self-confident culture is Soviet Russia and the culture lacking in self-confidence is Western Europe, however, I think the book is highly relevant to our current situation. For anyone who missed my posts reviewing this book, here’s the link: Sleeping with the enemy

    25. Bill Brandt Says:

      I think in this era nations are breaking up. Look at what was the USSR. Look at the fractures in the EU. Even in the US where politicians felt it to their advantage to divide us by race – I use Facebook for only one group – but I am acutely aware of how politically divided people are on Facebook.

      It has brought people together but not “together”

    26. PenGun Says:

      We are coming together, kicking and screaming all the way. The differences between us are steadily decreasing and my one world will be along fairly soon. Suck it up. ;)

      The problem with various people’s gods, I understand it’s supposed to be the same one, are being hashed out and we should see some progress in the near future. Both the Christian west and the Islamic east are talking, well with bullets a lot, but still, it’s a form of communication. All this is streamed live into people’s homes now.

      Zuckerberg is another high IQ idiot. There are so many.

    27. Steve Korn Says:

      Societies without a culture of trust do not scale regardless of state of development. Trust is fragile

      Chinese and the Mafia are two sophisticated societies that come to mind as impossible to scale because trust stops at the edge of the family.

      USA is at risk of losing its historical advantages gained from trust among strangers as we become more politically divided. And not easy to restore

      Until election of Trump, appeared that USA was permanently shifting Left as people demanded bigger and more intrusive government doomed to fail. Temporary pause or a redirection?

    28. Sgt. Mom Says:

      “Trust is fragile.”

      Yup – trust among people, and trust in institutions. Too many governmental agencies have spent the last eight years smashing that trust – think the IRS, the State Department, the National Park Service, the EPA, and most recently the various national security agencies. And then there are institutions like the national media … all that trust has been frittered away in job lots.

    29. PenGun Says:

      “Chinese and the Mafia are two sophisticated societies that come to mind as impossible to scale because trust stops at the edge of the family.”

      This is difficult to understand. China has lifted a billion people from a near feudal level, to middle class, in say 65 years. The greatest societal scaling ever seen on the planet.

    30. MCS Says:

      Zuckerberg is part of a long line of people that early in life had a profitable idea and spent their remaining span, unsuccessfully, proving it wasn’t a fluke.

      Our Government is completely dependent on the trust of their citizens, the alternative quickly devolves to coercion by terror because simple force is impossibly labor intensive. This is always a problem for the would be social engineer who is always just one law away from perfection.

      The perceived, rightly, impossibility of rooting out and trucking south 11-12 million illegal aliens without profoundly damaging the country illustrates this. About twenty years ago I read an article about the, then, five million people that through one dodge or another simply didn’t pay income tax. The bottom line was that enforcement was random and unlikely. There wasn’t manpower to do even cursory investigation or pursue through the courts more that a small fraction of cases. If some large fraction of the population loses confidence in the IRS and especially their likelihood to cause significant inconvenience things change quickly.

      The flip side of “Consent of the Governed” is Iraq.

    31. ErisGuy Says:

      I wonder whether he has made a serious attempt to read history and to read political/social thinkers….Has he read Tocqueville, for example, who had much to say about spontaneous organizations in America? Has he read Chesterton? Burke? Smart people have been thinking about these things for a long time.

      None are as smart as Zuckerberg himself, and since the world is not united, all obviously erred, something Zuckerberg is smart enough to recognize and fix. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)

      This is difficult to understand. China has lifted a billion people from a near feudal level, to middle class, in say 65 years. The greatest societal scaling ever seen on the planet.

      Didn’t happen. There are not a billion middle-class Chinese. That would be 4/5 of the population. If the top 10% were rich, then China has only 10% poor.

      When a government starts with even limited freedom….

      I wonder what the American, Canadian, Mexican, and European peoples could have done if their governments had let them be free for the last 65 years.

      “Chinese and the Mafia are two sophisticated societies that come to mind as impossible to scale because trust stops at the edge of the family.”

      And yet somehow the reach of Tongs and Mafia spans continents.

      Until election of Trump, appeared that USA was permanently shifting Left as people demanded bigger and more intrusive government doomed to fail. Temporary pause or a redirection?

      I prefer (c) the shift was an illusion caused by intellectual conquest.

      We are coming together, kicking and screaming all the way.

      Imagine that. People protest being dragged to ein Reich, ein Volk, ein Führer. Let us all unite in Umma under wise and beneficent Mullahs. Or under well-educated and wise bureaucrats. Who couldda thunk anyone would disagree?

      Playing the Devil’s Advocate: History is in large part people forming larger and larger communities of trust. That’s a form of “coming together”.

      If only China had surrender to the Greater East-Asian Co-prosperity Sphere. If only Europe had joined real, existing socialism. If only Europe had united (it almost did) under the dynamic rule of the Aryan superman. If only the UN governed us all. I can’t think of world government wannabe that wasn’t deeply evil.

      We’re going to need to revise “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” with a new scale. When that phrase was coined, the reach of the powerful was minuscule compared to today. Most provincial governments have more power than kings did then.

    32. David Foster Says:

      ErisGuy…true that the considerable majority of Chinese are poor, yet still, it seems that outright famine doesn’t prevail there in the way that it did in the past.

    33. PenGun Says:

      “Who couldda thunk anyone would disagree?”

      Kicking and screaming all the way, like children really. Your suicide jihad is wearing Nike’s, ’cause they cool.

      You really can’t see how alike everyone is, can you?