Collectivization and the Media and Government’s War for “the People”

In the overwrought battle for the soul of the country which the press and the Trump administration have convinced their respected partisan foot soldiers is being waged, defense of “the people” is the common shibboleth around which each side rallies. For Trump and his acolytes, “America First” is an all-encompassing justification; it bestows upon those who march under its banner a kind of sanctity, which at one and the same time empowers a broad array…

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The Media As Modern Day Philosopher-Kings

The modern media is, in many ways, not unlike Plato’s utopian dream city of Kallipolis. Eschewing democratic ideas and the concept of a meritocracy, Plato’s famous Socratic dialogue, The Republic, embraces a natural aristocracy of minds and argues that, for justice to be a reality, those of ability—the philosophers—should rule and those lacking the requisite mental acumen—the followers—should simply accept their lot in life and allow those who know better to order their affairs. Plato’s…

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The Fake Controversy Over Fake News

Like so many other things in today’s culture, the controversy over “fake news” is a didactic battle between two camps whose polar-opposite positions are largely driven by outrage over the opposing camp’s position. And, again, like so many other things in today’s culture, this venial division completely misses the point. The left, which is all for democratic expressions of will until it gets a result it does not like, is suddenly once again concerned with…

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Can Truth Be Defamatory? 2016 Will Decide

The 2016 election is a referendum, but not on any single issue. It encompasses something far larger; it is nothing less than a modern day relitigation of the Zenger trial. Can facts be defamatory? That was the question colonial New York when newspaperman John Peter Zenger printed an editorial critical of the royal governor. Though the allegations in it were true, they were also considered libelous by laws of the time, and therefore treasonous, for…

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The tyranny of statistical determinism

Among the myths circulating amidst the ether of modern American discourse is the stubborn fallacy that political forecasts and models are deterministic. Regardless of whether a poll measures support for presidential candidates in the hopes of predicting the outcome of an election or gauges the public’s attitude towards hot-button issues before Congress, the media and political scientists like to cite these numbers as Absolute Facts. Viewed this way, they influence everything from how politicians lobby…

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