Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Personal Responsibility

The Four Centrisms

Back in 2016, I argued that the centrist consensus of the 90s was breaking down, and that instead there was a wider menu, with three meaningfully distinct choices:

  • Left Egalitarianism, which critiqued the consensus on the grounds that it enabled capitalists to exploit workers
  • Neoliberalism, which defended the consensus through the traditional center-right and center-left parties
  • Right Nationalism, which critiqued the consensus on the grounds that it enabled foreigners to exploit citizens

I no longer believe that this menu exists, and it may never have existed. Instead, I think there are four different types of centrist position. These types of centrism are aesthetically different but substantively nearly identical. By differentiating aesthetically, the 90s consensus is able to accommodate a higher level of cultural polarisation while protecting the core commitments of the 90s consensus.

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Don’t Hate Trump Voters–Hate the System that Creates Them

I’ve been disappointed in my side over the last 48 hours. On social media aggressive posts are circulating personally blaming and shaming Trump supporters for Trump’s victory and for criminal acts motivated by hate. Columnists are lashing out, reductively attributing Trump’s victory to racism and sexism alone on the basis of exit polls which show the same kinds of gaps in support among the races and the sexes that we’ve long seen in previous races dating all the way back to the 70s and beyond. The last time women were more likely to vote for a Republican was 1960 (when they skewed slightly toward Nixon) and black voters haven’t gone for a Republican since before the New Deal. Too many people are doubling down on the same failed strategy that brought us to this pass. But just as importantly, by blaming the voters as individual agents, these people are contradicting fundamental left wing principles.

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A Critique of Aaron James’ “Asshole” Theory

I’ve recently been reading Aaron James’ Assholes: A Theory, in which James attempts to sort out what it means to be an “asshole”, how people get to be “assholes” and what methods people and societies should use to contain and contend with them. It is an interesting book, but I have a quibble over James’ claim that assholes are to blame for their asshole status.

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Why Money Sucks

One of the basic underpinnings of our society is the notion that people like money and are good with money. They like making money, they like deciding what to do with their money, the whole business of business is an endless fascination for them. On top of that, we’re good at using our money to get what we want.  But what if it’s not true? What if, in reality, we hate making financial and business decisions and would rather have it all taken care of by other people? What if we’re actually not very good at spending our money wisely, if, in reality, our tendency is to be irrational and flippant with our funds? There is reason to believe the latter, according to a recent study by Daniel McFadden comparing on an interdisciplinary level what we know about human psychology, neurology, biology, and anthropology with what we think we know about economics (the full study is here, go here for an interview with McFadden).

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