Jul 8, 2022Liked by Branko Milanovic

this is a good one, thanks

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Jul 9, 2022·edited Jul 9, 2022

"Chateaubriand, a strongly religious man, in awe, as we have seen, to royal legitimacy, has of the use of religion the same opinion as Marx. It is the opium of the people"

I am wondering whether religion is rather the opium of the rich. The lower classes know full well that they are oppressed by the rich (hence the rich guys are the bad guys), but the rich need an ideology that explains to them why they are the good guys anyway.

As in our example. Religion was not opium for Marx, but religion was opium for Chateaubriand.

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Combien nos personnalités se découvrent dans nos perceptions !

Pour moi un moment-clé des Mémoires est là : https://fr.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Mémoires_d’outre-tombe/Deuxième_partie/Livre_III

À ma première lecture je suis resté bloqué sur cet épisode sidérant - arrestation procès et exécution du Duc d’Enghien - pendant au moins six mois. Impossible d’avancer. Et l’ombre de Napoléon n’y est pas étrangère mais pas seulement. Justice Pouvoir Raison d’État. Et le Général qui a lu et relu les Mémoires tout au long de sa vie. Tout est condensé là.

Une suggestion Branko : la vie de Rancé. Après les Mémoires. Pour mieux s’approcher de la Personne de Chateaubriand.

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"He was quite prescient in that: the excesses of the French revolutions were only amplified by the Russian and Chinese revolutions, and attempts to create “absolute equality” led to tyrannies"

In principle there could be a simple solution. Use debates in the public sphere of a democracy to decide on an acceptable level of inequality. Design a system that redistributes wealth so that a certain level of inequality will not be exceeded. I believe that this is what we had after WWII in most European countries. And it worked quite well. Until the Wall came down and the Western ruling classes cancelled this social contract. 30 years later, we see the mess that this created.

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Jul 8, 2022·edited Jul 8, 2022

Very interesting, ty!

| | | 'We are not different today in our rather arbitrary inclusion or exclusion of circumstances (i.e. separate from effort) that we believe give the beneficiary special rights. Obviously inheritance is one such case..

| | | 'Why does equality of opportunity so blatantly stop there .. why does the desire for equality of opportunity stop at national borders?'

I've been thinking lately that when I talk to liberals, as a left-winger who wants to bring them closer to my thinking, I should highlight how "equality of opportunity" is a hopeless contradiction in our current system, so if we want to achieve it, radical changes should be made. Thanks for reminding us, as always, that divide is sharpest along state borders.

I've also been wondering if there is an inherent liberal belief in "process," and if that is what allows us to "explain away" the very unequal order of things. If I'm thinking, what is part of the "religion" today that stops people seeing inequality, it seems like among liberals it might be a general belief that truth / order are procedurally generated or revealed -- so that the range of opinions on homelessness stretches from "if you're poor you must deserve it" to "we should level the playing field" by providing job counselling, temporary shelter, mental health services, reducing personal biases with new language, etc.

Of course the typical commie critique would be to call those measures Social Democracy / Welfare Statism and therefore insufficiently revolutionary, but then we're just substituting a necessarily vague sense of "revolution" as a different objective truth verification procedure.

| | | 'In all of this, Chateaubriand reminded me of the true believers in socialism who were also found an annoyance and embarrassment by those who were involved in “real” politics.'

Lol, I was proselytizing to some friends recently who are much better activists and organizers than I am about the importance of Kantian ethics to left-wing politics, and I'm realizing this is exactly the type of annoying person I am.

I'm curious if some people square the circle and can both remain a true believer and become useful. I heard Vijay Prashad discussing his new book about Ho Chi Minh, and based on the picture he paints, I think Prashad might say he did -- looking forward to reading that. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGB5y2TJ3RY]

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