Saturday, June 29, 2013

More on that certain tone of voice

I've just been reading about the meetings between George Gilder, Esther Dyson, Newt Gingrich and Alvin Toffler, in Fred Turner's great book From Counterculture to Cyberculture. I inhaled it in 5 days. Actually, I read Gary Weiss, _Ayn Rand Nation_ , Kim Phillips-Fein's _Invisible Hands_ and Turner, all in succession! In about as fast a wave of reading as I could possibly do. I have notes. But here is a quick thing on that certain tone of voice from business. It's the difference between the main event and the sideshow. Suppose you are making arguments for trickle-down and saying there will be a second half where there are lots of positive consequences for a lot of people, but at the same time, you're charging a fee for the whole thing, which frankly, could perpetuate you on its own. This is the whole reason why it's important to look at vested interests. And there is an interesting bifurcation-- let's say you're calling for deregulation, and you're promising great things will happen. You can break up the person doing the telling according to (a) true believers (b) complete liars (c) people who are in some stage of self-delusion. It's more complicated, because maybe you have digested the idea of cognitive dissonance as part of the "can't make an omelette" concept. Rhetoric is a way of attaining your goals, just like everything else. So there's no such thing as lying. It is all part of getting your goal, which also happens to cement you as a winning personality, or a Randian hero: the sort of person who isn't afraid to GO FOR IT! According to Turner, Dyson, Kelly and Barlow's writings "fairly ache with a longing to return to an egalitarian world." So they mean it, supposedly, though they also have lots of financial confounds where they might just be sufficiently tickled that they're doing so well for themselves by telling tall tales that they rationalize any amount of cognitive dissonance. Probably not.. Turner has read the primary sources and I doubt he is wrong. There are lots of complicated intermediate forms of partial delusion, too. Phillips-Fein had a great phrase about the business conservatives, trying to persuade workers that unions were harmful. She's talking about 50s and 60s conservatives, not about the dot-com period, but the phrase is extremely interesting for both: "They believed that the market had given them their power and that the market was inherently democratic. They saw themselves as populists. In many ways they were disingenous even with themselves..."

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