Thursday 4 May, 2023

In the Black Diamond

The view from the atrium of the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen, a building I know well and love.

Quote of the Day

”Politics cannot simply work on our beliefs; it must reshape desires.”

  • Wendy Brown in Nihilistic Times: Thinking with Max Weber.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Handel | Where ‘ere you walk | Rick Wakeman


Long Read of the Day

The New Libertarian Elitists

Henry Farrell, Hugo Mercier and Melissa Schwartzberg in Democracy Journal asking what lies behind the dangerous new notion that democracy should be left to the well-educated.

Three decades ago, it seemed plausible that the despots were embattled holdouts, desperately trying to stem the inevitable tide of democracy. Now, they appear stronger. Many democratically elected politicians and their supporters seem to long for a future without democratic competition, in which the right people (i.e., they) are permanently in charge, and their enemies are marginalized or eliminated. Some right-wing intellectuals provide ammunition for the anti-democrats, claiming that democracy can’t work because citizens are just too biased and ignorant. They argue that democracy should be shrunk down or even replaced by new systems of rule, where the intelligent and knowledgeable (i.e., those who believe in neoclassical economics and efficient markets) would be privileged over those too foolish and uninformed to understand their own best interests.

If democracy is to do more than survive—if it is to flourish—it needs to change. The period of its apparent greatest success was also when the rot set in. When the citizens and leaders of seemingly stable democracies took that stability for granted, they mostly ignored democracy’s suppurating underbelly: the systematic economic inequalities, the groups that consistently lost out under it, and the many opportunities that it offered to game the system. Many social scientists took its benefits for granted, too. Some offered abstract justifications for democracy, which tended to be based on unrealistic claims about how human beings think and act. Most just assumed that democracy would somehow keep itself on track.

Fixing democracy will require a myriad of reforms…

It is long, but worth it.

Ding Liren, world chess champion: “I remembered Camus: ‘If you can’t win, you have to resist’”

Fascinating profile in El Pais of the new world chess champion.

He likes to watch and listen to the rain. But he’s also just become the world chess champion, triumphing in a sport that involves a lot of mental boxing. Ding Liren, 30, has been playing chess intensively since he was four years old. However, he completed a law degree because his father did not want him to abandon his studies. He also reads a lot, especially philosophy. Ding — who is heir to the throne of Norwegian chess player Magnus Carlsen after defeating Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi in an electrifying quick tiebreaker — spoke to EL PAÍS for 20 minutes in Astana, Kazakhstan. What follows includes quotes from previous interviews Ding has done with Chinese media.

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