You are what you read — Quartz

Source: You are what you read — Quartz

What you read has never been more important. The quality of your mind depends on it.

Input shapes your output

In the last 10 years, the number of books published per year has doubled. Ten times more data will be produced in 2020 than was produced in 2013. We live in age of information overload, and the ability to distinguish value from noise is going to become an increasingly critical quality.

“Don’t Be a Sucker”, U.S. War Department, 1947

Source: Don’t Be a Sucker : U.S. War Department : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

Your right to belong to minorities is a precious thing. You have a right to be what you are and to say what you think, because here we have personal freedom. We have liberty. And these are not just fancy words. This is a practical and priceless way of living. But we must work it. We must guard everyone’s liberties or we can lose our own. If we allow any minority to lose its freedom by persecution or by prejudice, we are threatening our own freedom. And this is not simply an idea. This is good, hard, common sense. You see, here in America, it’s not a question of whether we tolerate minorities. America is minorities. And that means you, and me.

Never-Before-Published Hannah Arendt on What Freedom and Revolution Really Mean | Literary Hub


This manuscript, never before published, is marked “A Lecture” and dated “1966-67.”

Source: Never-Before-Published Hannah Arendt on What Freedom and Revolution Really Mean | Literary Hub
– “A Lecture”, by Hannah Arendt (dated “1966-67”)

A large number of revolutions during the last two hundred years went to their doom, but relatively few were dissipated by superiority in the application of the means of violence. Conversely, military interventions, even when they were successful, have often proved remarkably inefficient in restoring stability and filling the power vacuum. Even victory seems unable to substitute stability for chaos, honesty for corruption, authority and trust in government for decay and disintegration.

it would not only be wiser but also more relevant if, instead of boasting that we are the mightiest power on earth, we would say that we have enjoyed an extraordinary stability since the founding of our republic, and that this stability was the direct outgrowth of revolution. For, since it can no longer be decided by war, the contestation of the great powers may well be decided, in the long run, by which side better understands what revolutions are and what is at stake in them.

The fact that the word “revolution” originally meant restoration is more than a mere oddity of semantics.

what actually happened at the end of the 18th century was that an attempt at restoration and recovery of old rights and privileges resulted in its exact opposite: a progressing development and the opening up of a future which defied all further attempts at acting or thinking in terms of a circular or revolving motion. And while the term “revolution” was radically transformed in the revolutionary process, something similar, but infinitely more complex, happened to the word “freedom.”

Liberties in the sense of civil rights are the results of liberation, but they are by no means the actual content of freedom, whose essence is admission to the public realm and participation in public affairs. …
liberation from oppression could very well have been fulfilled under monarchical though not tyrannical government, whereas the freedom of a political way of life required a new, or rather rediscovered, form of government. It demanded the constitution of a republic.

Revolutions are not necessary but possible answers to the devolution of a regime, not the cause but the consequence of the downfall of political authority.

it is the desire to excel which makes men love the company of their peers and spurs them on into the public realm. This public freedom is a tangible worldly reality, created by men to enjoy together in public—to be seen, heard, known, and remembered by others. And this kind of freedom demands equality, it is possible only amongst peers. Institutionally speaking, it is possible only in a republic, which knows no subjects and, strictly speaking, no rulers.

No doubt, it is obvious and of great consequence that this passion for freedom for its own sake awoke in and was nourished by men of leisure who had no masters and were not always busy making a living.

For us, who owe it to a revolution and the resulting foundation of an entirely new body politic that we can walk in dignity and act in freedom, it would be wise to remember what a revolution means in the life of nations. Whether it ends in success, with the constitution of a public space for freedom, or in disaster, for those who have risked it or participated in it against their inclination and expectation, the meaning of revolution is the actualization of one of the greatest and most elementary human potentialities, the unequaled experience of being free to make a new beginning, from which comes the pride of having opened the world to a Novus Ordo Saeclorum (a new order of the ages).

The men of the first revolutions, though they knew well enough that liberation had to precede freedom, were still unaware of the fact that such liberation means more than political liberation from absolute and despotic power; that to be free for freedom meant first of all to be free not only from fear but also from want.

if violence pitted against violence leads to war, foreign or civil, violence pitted against social conditions has always led to terror.

We have little reason to hope that at some time in the not too distant future such men will match in practical and theoretical wisdom the men of the American Revolution, who became the Founders of this country. But that little hope, I fear, is the only one we have that freedom in a political sense will not vanish again from the earth for God knows how many centuries.

Against Murderism | Slate Star Codex

Source: Against Murderism | Slate Star Codex, by Scott Alexander

People talk about “liberalism” as if it’s just another word for capitalism, or libertarianism, or vague center-left-Democratic Clintonism. Liberalism is none of these things. Liberalism is a technology for preventing civil war. It was forged in the fires of Hell – the horrors of the endless seventeenth century religious wars. For a hundred years, Europe tore itself apart in some of the most brutal ways imaginable – until finally, from the burning wreckage, we drew forth this amazing piece of alien machinery. A machine that, when tuned just right, let people live together peacefully without doing the “kill people for being Protestant” thing. Popular historical strategies for dealing with differences have included: brutally enforced conformity, brutally efficient genocide, and making sure to keep the alien machine tuned really really carefully.

Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You? – POLITICO Magazine

nukes are suddenly—insanely, by Perry’s estimate—once again a contemporary nightmare, and an emphatically ascendant one.

Americans no longer think about the threat every day. Nuclear war isn’t the subtext of popular movies, or novels; disarmament has fallen far from the top of the policy priority list.

Perry’s hypothesis for the disconnect is that much of the population, especially that rising portion with no clear memories of the first Cold War, is suffering from a deficit of comprehension. Even a single nuclear explosion in a major city would represent an abrupt and possibly irreversible turn in modern life, upending the global economy, forcing every open society to suspend traditional liberties and remake itself into a security state.

As for a nuclear explosion, by Perry’s lights, the consequences are so grave that the rational thing would be for people in the United States and everywhere to be in a state of peak alarm about their vulnerability, and for political debate to be dominated by discussion of how to reduce the risk.

And just how high is the risk? The answer of course is ultimately unknowable. Perry’s point, though, is that it’s a hell of a lot higher than you think.

“Nuclear weapons are the biggest public health issue I can think of.”

“As a 90s baby I never lived in the Cold War era,” wrote one participant, with the Reddit username BobinForApples. “What is one thing today’s generations will never understand about life during the Cold War?”

Perry’s answered, as SecDef19: “Because you were born in the 1990s, you did not experience the daily terror of ‘duck and cover’ drills as my children did. Therefore the appropriate fear of nuclear weapons is not part of your heritage, but the danger is just as real now as it was then. It will be up to your generation to develop the policies to deal with the deadly nuclear legacy that is still very much with us.”

Source: Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You? – POLITICO Magazine