Provocations

Provocations

These essays are meant to provoke thought on where the country is headed and how badly things are going, and to propose solutions.


Summary: With its ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), the Supreme Court severely limited the ability of public figures to sue for libel. The Court thus departed from a traditional understanding that had regarded libel as unprotected by the First Amendment and that had therefore imposed a salutary restrains on the press by holding journalists legally liable for publishing defamatory falsehoods. Today the press faced practically no legal consequences for defaming public figures. The Supreme Court should correct its error, restore the original and traditional meaning of the First Amendment, and thereby protect our democracy from the outsized, underserved, and destructive power that a mendacious press now exercises over the public mind and our politics.

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Summary: An entrenched oligarchic class increasingly controls politics, the media, and big business in America. This oligarchy’s interests and actions are more and more opposed to the prosperity of the working and middle classes: this oligarchy is making them poorer, weaker, and their lives less stable. And it is aligned with America’s political class, which refuses to see that American democracy will collapse without a healthy working and middle class. America will not survive this emerging neo-feudal economic order of limited mobility and sky-high inequality

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Summary: America won last generation’s Third Industrial Revolution, defined by digital computation and communications. Competition among nations, however, is not static, and China may yet win the Fourth Industrial Revolution, defined by metadata and artificial intelligence. Should this take place, the consequences to America will be devastating: we will be less stable, poorer, and likely no longer in charge of our national destiny. Due largely to American incompetence, and a foolish elite uniparty consensus, China is currently leading the race. But the competition is not yet over. And America may still win.

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Summary: A convergence between the world’s two superpowers is taking place. Today American business, as well as the media and academic establishments that serve them, increasingly embraces what can best be described as “Chinese capitalism with American characteristics.” In the United States, as property and power further consolidate, the ‘diffusion of power,’ so critical to democracy, erodes and autocracy develops naturally. Only players at the highest level possess the heft and motivation to influence policy. This power front consists of a new alliance between large corporate powers, Wall Street and the progressive clerisy in government and media.

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