The reality-based community vs. Putinization

Yes, there’s a link between disdaining reality and grasping at unlimited power.

Some months ago, when Fox News was claiming copyright in “fair and balanced,” this space became officially, though of course not in fact, “a fair and balanced weblog.” That joke has worn rather thin, and since Fox is no longer suing Franken the “I am Spartacus” element is no longer relevant.

So I decided to follow Matt Yglesias in proclaiming this weblog’s undying metaphysical commitment: to the difference between that which is actually the case and that which is merely wished or imagined.

No, of course I don’t imagine that everyone who votes for Bush has taken leave of consensus reality. But I do believe that Bush himself, and his cronies, have really and truly started to lose their grip. It’s a well-known occupational disease. As Karl Deutsch said in The Nerves of Government, since learning means conforming your beliefs to the world, and powe means the capacity to conform the world to your beliefs, power always means not having to learn from your mistakes.

So while voting for Bush doesn’t mean sharing his fantasy life, it does mean ratifying it.

And of course once you’ve lost your grip on reality, what power really wants is more power. That helps explain the process Matt calls “the Putinization of America”.

Yes, freedom is on the march, but a retreat is as much of a march as an advance.

Two weeks, folks. Then you have to choose.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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