Sunday, February 27, 2011

Social Progress

I'm generally pessimistic about societal trends, yet there are some positive ones. An interesting article in Foreign Policy notes that communist China was rather childlike in their absence of irony:
"Socialism is great!" Was there ever a statement riper for ironic mockery than this erstwhile catchphrase of the infant Chinese republic? How could a thinking people accept this and a host of other bald statements at face value, without so much as a raised eyebrow or a silently murmured really?...As early as 1942, seven years before the founding of the People's Republic, Chairman Mao was explaining to government leaders and intellectuals that the purpose of art and culture was to serve political ends... One of the most popular [model operas], "The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution," began with this catchy intro:

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is good,
It is good,
It is good,
It is good.

I think fewer things would be more grating on my sensibilities than listening to such banalities. There are few things I like less than fawning praise, because invariably it is either insincere or trite.

But it's not just irony where the West shines. If you read Fark daily like I do, you appreciate the anihillation of cliches. One thing that shows up are issues related to 'trolling', something your average old person is rather unaware of. As 'know your meme' describes trolling:

A troll is someone who will state something only with the intention of stirring up controversy. Typically the statement is so absurd that only the most noobish of noobs will get offended and respond...Successful trolling brings lulz — pleasure at the expense of others. By participating in flamewars with a troll they become your puppetmaster, manipulating your emotions for their own enjoyment.

If you respond to a troll, you are said to be feeding the troll. You’ve got better things to do than feed trolls.

As Neal Stephenson noted back in 2002:

Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.

Irony. Learning to not feed the trolls. These are significant subtle advances in societal wisdom.


Anonymous said...

How about a banality like Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom....ummm...more Freedom, Freedom, Freedom?

Lack of irony in other cultures? Man you need to at least read non english lit from other cultures. Don't just look for the key under the lamp post.

I am no fan of Mao or communist China but what you pout is pure ignorance.

I like/respect your views of finance. Just stick to that.

Anonymous said...

Comment 1 is a rather enjoyable piece of performance art.

AHWest said...

What I don't understand is why so many anonymous readers of the collectivist/leftist persuasion continue to read this blog and comment negatively. Lefty self-hating quants specializing in zero-sum-game niches of the financial world that pop by for help in exploiting the masses?

I actually enjoy both the finance and the political incorrectness, both springing from Eric's pursuit of independent thought.

Anonymous said...

"I like/respect your views of finance. Just stick to that."

... Eric needs your permission to blog on subjects of his own choosing?

Anonymous said...

Has this blog been cleared by the CFPA?

Anonymous said...

Arguing with people on the Internet is like competing in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded.