From Quillette, of course.
“On the other hand, the status quo simply isn’t sustainable…”
Social-Media Oligopolists Are the New Railroad Barons. It’s Time for Washington to Treat Them Accordingly
The problem with social media deleting people for being hateful isn’t about freedom of speech, per se. it’s about whether only governments can violate freedom of speech. I would say that, by violating freedom of speech generally, you set yourself up as a government. The editors at Quillette argue that this demonstrates that they have become a monopoly or a trust.
Ok, sure. But the problem with a monopoly is that it takes on the powers of a government, with out the balance of power that we use to constrain a government. In business, competition fills the limiting principle requirement that balance of power fills in government.
Theodore Giola on the distinction between cancelling somebody on social media, and getting them fired: https://quillette.com/2021/01/10/to-expower-the-people/
It’s a good article, and I was impressed when he said, “I started writing this essay five years ago.” But I was disappointed when’s he failed to make the obvious connection with Chinese communist struggle sessions and the Terror of the French Revolution.
If it isn’t obvious by now, our answer is: you’re asking the wrong question. This should be every pastor’s answer too. Stop asking questions that presuppose an emaciated, unbiblical household, and start asking how to build a healthy, God-glorifying one. What is the use of complaining about the dishes, or demanding that men step up to do their fair share, when the house itself is broken down and crumbling? Stop trying to ameliorate the feminists’ point by making out like it’s not so bad provided the man just does more. Instead, concede that there is a real problem, and recognize that trying to fix it by properly dividing the housework is like trying to keep Titanic afloat by speeding up and correcting course after being slowed down by that iceberg.
Things are upside down right now.
Owing to an interchange with somebody on Twitter, I have felt inspired to read Marx’s Capital. I haven’t gotten through the introduction yet, and I’m already horrified.
The version of Capital that I’m reading is the Penguin Classics edition, © 2004, with an introduction by Ernest Mandel, which was apparently written in 1974. Mandel is definitely on the bandwagon, and he keeps going on about the Labor theory of Value, which is both the most insightful thing ever, and also completely misunderstood by anybody who disagrees with it in any way.
Capitalism, or maybe surplus value of labor, exists in a world where the owners of the land on which a factory exists are not the owners of the company that works the factory. Apparently land owners are titled lords who own vast estates and rent that land to the factory owners, rather than selling. Similarly factory owners are singular entities, rather than shareholders. The owners of factories do no work of any kind. The only work that is done is people with actual wrenches, who pull levers on machines.
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.
There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
Madison, Federalist no. 10
The great bane of my reading has not been stress or time, but Facebook and Twitter. Social media is, as they used to say, a quibi: quick and long at the same time; which makes reading seem like too much work to get revved into. So I am trying something: a little Thornton Burgess to start the day. Burgess wrote little nature stories of a quality and quantity that Beatrix Potter only dreamed of.
Burgess’ writing is charming: short and quaint and extremely episodic, which helps to get the taste of social media rhetorical sourpatch candy out of your mouth. I recommend reading a chapter in between pauses of heavier, tome-like reading.
You can get much of his works for free at Project Gutenberg or very cheap at Amazon. There is, of course, a Burgess society, but it seems to be much more focused on his conservation ideas than his books. He was apparently very interested in the wellbeing of forests and forest creatures.
Listening to John Piper talkings about Christian hedonism, and it strikes me that I wouldn’t want to be a Christian hedonist. I understand that he’s talking about giving up small pleasures to pursue True pleasures, but nevertheless, if anything I would rather be a Christian “stoic.”
What I mean is this: There are a lot of things I don’t like about what I’ve been taught about leadership, but one thing I have learned is that the collective good is more significant than the individual good. I think that if I used “true pleasure” as a rubric for working out my salvation, I would focus narrowly on my individual development. I am already a very introspective sot. But if I concerned myself with “true duty,” I would feel myself turned to developing the spiritual growth of a set of concentric circles that I see myself set into in society.
With a duty focus rather than a pleasure focus for my sanctification, I find that I have a set of rules for deciding which of my many great sins to attack first: Don’t focus on putting to death the little sins that cause frustration and discontent. Instead, start with those sins that are most likely have a degrading effect on those around you. Look first to cause the little ones not to stumble; look second to bind up the weak knees and feeble hands. First in your own family: children, wife, brother and sister, parents. Then neighbor, then ethnos and tribe. Then look to the benefit of future generations. “So that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”
This may get a little weird. Because a focus on sanctification for the benefit of my sister means I may have to split the difference on my sins. What I do with my mouth in public has more effect than my secret thoughts in the bathroom. I am not saying to disregard your impure thoughts, for “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” but I am saying that, once you’ve tamed your leering eye and your lecherous comments, you should roll onto your wrathful outbursts, rather than obsessing over your innermost thoughts in one area while ignoring a more obvious issue.
For some 20 years now, I have been impressed with Paul’s statement that he would willingly give up his own place in the book of Life, if it meant putting the names of his people there instead. Yes, we know salvation doesn’t work that way. But it seems to me that there is a dynamic where sanctification does work this way. If I make my spiritual growth a foundation for building up others, I will be sure to pay proper attention to it. If I need to delay a bit in my Bible reading, so I can discuss a passage with my son, I haven’t lost anything. He gains ground, so I have gained ground. What’s more, if I give up my easy job, that left plenty of time for hours of prayer, in order to provide for a more Christian education for my kids and a lifestyle for my wife that gives her time for her own devotions, I’ve lost nothing. There are plenty of ways to develop myself spiritually at the expense of others whose spiritual growth I am also responsible for. I want to do the other thing.
I don’t trust my feelings. I would loath be led around by them. Sometimes there is an emotion that can propel me onward to righteousness, such as hopeful joy, or happiness in good things. But just as often, I find that focusing on my feels leads me to tap out before I achieve the goal I’m aiming for. Duty pulls me up again: duty to the One who claimed my life for His good pleasure, responsibility to those around me that He cares for. And I trust that He who works in me to will and to do, can also look after my pleasure, too.