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E-Pluribus | December 1, 2022
Three little words that melt post-liberal hearts; lessons from China on privacy and government intrusion; and anti-male bias at Stanford.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Nick Catoggio: ‘I Got Mine’
Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben instructed him that “with great power comes great responsibility.” In his The Dispatch newsletter, Nick Catoggio (Twitter’s Allahpundit) writes that in the age of post-liberalism, too many people see that with great power comes great advantages over others to get what we want. Gone is the desire for a level playing field; instead, we want to just level our opponents on the field.
I think of him often in the context of the post-liberal turn in American politics because his corruption, while unusually vivid, isn’t that unusual in substance. At the heart of it is the idea that “I got mine.” Under a classically liberal ethic, the same rules apply to both sides; if you support the First Amendment, say, then you support a liberal’s right to free speech just as you support a conservative’s. Under a post-liberal ethic, there’s barely a pretense that fair play should be the goal. When your side has the power to set the rules, you wield that power aggressively to benefit your own side.
You get yours.
That’s all Stewart Rhodes did in calling for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act. He’s a post-liberal cretin decked out in the intellectual finery of a freedom-loving classical liberal.
[ . . . ]
Many theories have been offered to explain why Trumpism took such tight hold of the Republican base, but an underrated one is how Trump made the right comfortable with “I got mine” as an ethos. You could hardly do better than those three words as a summary of his approach to life, frankly; look no further than how he used, or didn’t use, his Super PAC’s war chest this cycle for just one very recent example. His genius lies in packaging ruthless self-interest to his fans as not just rational but just. Whenever he’s caught doing something corrupt, for instance, he pivots to complaining that his enemies went unpunished for supposedly worse misdeeds. When he was challenged in the 2016 primaries for having donated to Democrats in the past, he conceded that America’s system of political patronage is foul but insisted he was only playing by the same corrupt rules as others.
Read it all.
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Scott Shackford: China's Lockdown Protests Show Why You Shouldn't Let Government Weaken Encryption, Anonymity
Yesterday’s Around Twitter included a thread on the intricate and massive surveillance systems China uses to track it own people. Scott Shackford at Reason explains why this should be a warning to the West to limit the ability of government to intrude on our communications and our lives.
China's massive surveillance state makes true privacy next to impossible, but note how hard citizens are trying anyway. There is a lesson here that Chinese citizens aren't as acquiescent with their government's expression of authority as the leadership would have us believe.
There's another big lesson here about the importance of both encryption and online anonymity, and why it's absolutely necessary to put a stop to any government attempting to undermine these tools.
End-to-end encryption keeps third parties—including governments—from reading your communications and data without your permission.
[ . . . ]
And so the response from these governments is to attempt to lobby for or even mandate under the law encryption backdoors. They insist that our police must have a way to get into our phones and devices in order to fight crime. There are two big problems here: There is no way to create a backdoor to encryption that only a government can access. These tools can (and do) get out into the wild or can get cracked by hackers. Then, suddenly, nobody's data are secure.
And second, as we can see in China, governments can and will use whatever data they can get their hands on for whatever purpose they desire, and that includes oppressing the rights of individuals that attempt to protest authoritarian government measures. Chinese people have to use encryption in order to avoid the otherwise all-seeing eye of the police and censors. One problem with saying that we need encryption backdoors to investigate illegal behavior is what each government decides is "illegal behavior." The law can be used to violate the right to speak out and assemble. Encrypted communications make that oppression just a little bit harder.
Read it all here.
Judy Liu: Department of Education opens investigation into Stanford for bias against male students
In a sign of the times, Judy Liu of the Stanford Daily writes that the university is under investigation by the Department of Education for discriminating against men. Rather that just an anomaly, the complaint is that up to 27 different programs at the school are guilty of some form of Title IX violation.
The Department of Education opened an investigation this month into five of the University’s programs geared toward women — Stanford Women in Business, Women of Stanford Law, Stanford Women in Design, Stanford Society of Women Engineers and the Gabilan Provost’s Discretionary Fund — according to Forbes.
The Daily has reached out to the University, Stanford Women in Business, Women of Stanford Law, Stanford Women in Design, Stanford Society of Women Engineers and the Department of Education for comment.
The investigation follows a claim filed against Stanford by Moore and Pekgoz regarding 27 Stanford programs, Forbes reported.
[ . . . ]
Moore and Pekgov told The Daily that by including programs for female students, the University is discriminating against male students — and violating Title IX — by not providing them with the same support. The two said the programs identified in the complaint continue “ongoing and systematic” discrimination against men.
“The plain language of Title IX prohibits any institution from funding/sponsoring discriminatory scholarships, programs, fellowships and initiatives,” Moore wrote.
While historically, women have been marginalized in many fields, especially in STEM, Moore said that women now compose an increasing majority of college students nationwide. Moore cited statistics that women make up the majority of medical and law students and argued that historical marginalization is irrelevant to the requirements of Title IX.
Read the whole thing.
The New York Times DealBook Summit hosted fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried even as he faces investigation for the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange FTX:
Shadi Hamid on the paternalism of “wokeness”:
And finally, as concerns about his mental state grow, Kanye West’s self-destruction continues and accelerates: