The decoupling of liberty from the republican conception of civic virtue and the individualization of the satisfaction of one’s pursuit for meaning, purpose and recognition in life away from a common national idea are behind the fragmentation of American society into identitarian groups, which have become the key outlet for the assertion of one’s thymos. In harmony with these alterations in the structure of societal fabric, commensurate institutional changes such as greater “indirect rule” and limitation of the power of the central government may be warranted.
At its root, our inability to cope with social media’s negative effects on affective political polarization is the consequence of implicit adoption of the doctrine that truth is manifest. When political opponents don’t agree on a shared reality and live in information bubbles with their own sets of facts, consensus-building becomes impossible, leading to greater polarization and gridlock.
Because uncertainty is an intrinsic and unavoidable feature of nature that needs to be accepted rather than suppressed, open society’s embrace of uncertainty as a natural occurrence is the reason for its durability and ability to sustain continuous progress over a long time.
A truly rational and scientific political philosophy is based on the belief that our knowledge is fundamentally incomplete, and that all our ideas, including with regards to the structure of our political system, should be open to criticism: an ideal of an open society that we should work to reach.
Decentralized distribution of decision-making power is an essential element of open societies’ continuous ability to successfully overcome the challenges imposed by the constraints of reality. And the failures of totalitarian regimes underscore the importance of bottom-up local initiative, civic engagement, personal responsibility, and the ingenuity of the private sector possible only in a free and open society.
The attempts of closed societies to eliminate uncertainty don’t necessarily accomplish their objective because uncertainty is an inherent element of nature that can never be removed; only its distribution overtime may be changed. Uncertainty will never disappear but instead, accumulate under the surface, and that is why dictatorships usually end abruptly and unexpectedly, during the moments of its release.
The fact that there are so many polls is evidence that they do not reflect the underlying forces that shape voters’ preferences. No poll will ever guarantee a particular election outcome—not least because polls not only forecast but influence those outcomes: a phenomenon known as reflexivity.
So far, Karl Marx’s prophecy has been proven wrong. The communist revolution has not occurred, the dictatorship of the proletariat has not been established and capitalism has not collapsed in advanced economies. But the advent of novel technologies may prove Marx right in the twenty-first century.
Although Frankfurt’s book is intellectually rigorous, insightful, well-reasoned, and of philosophical and academic importance, it does not considerably alter today’s political debates on the issue of inequality.
How can we address the underlying weaknesses of social disciplines like economics, politics and political science and make them more certain and definitive, more like the natural sciences, if possible?
What will replace our fight against the tide of entropy, against the “uncontrollable forces of nature,” at the top of human agenda? Harari thinks that we are on the path towards attaining “bliss, immortality, and divinity.” But there will be a huge price to pay for our unconstrained and unlimited progress.