No Man is an Island

Rhetorically Corrupt

Let’s ignore all of the smaller problems with Srinivasan’s argument. (And there are many. For example, it’s a middle-school textbook inaccuracy to claim that the Puritans left Europe to escape religious persecution; most didn’t. It’s further inaccurate to claim that the Puritans “exited”; they would have been baffled by such a claim. The Puritans didn’t emigrate; they moved. They separated to reform. And how the “Paper Belt” analogy applies to Hollywood — a fundamentally post-paper industry — is substantively unimportant but otherwise characteristic of Srinivasan’s penchant for promoting middle-school locker-room thoughts as grand ideas.)

UnAmerican

America is not an intentional country; America is the intentional country.[1] It was not created by a series of accidents that one is born into, the problems of which one spends one’s energy navigating resignation and bartering agency for security; rather, America was, quite literally, carefully crafted by a group of people. To fail to consider this intentionality is to miss the enormous impact of agency on the decision matrix available to Americans as Americans. Many Americans do not view the Puritans as an historical curiosity; the Puritans are their forebears. These are the people (along with others) who risked everything to intentionally create a government by, of and for the people. “The people” literally exist — as antecedent and precedent. Their descendants literally exist.

Individual as Totem

The most significant issue with the libertarian fantasy is that it is predicated on a fetishized understanding of the individual. The modern individual is an Enlightenment promise that an elevated, actuated individual is the catalyst for human flourishing, for progress, for happiness.

Existential Threat

Ultimately, the goal is not ‘exit’ but existential threat. It’s not to replace with robot authority and algorithmized institution but appropriate authority and renewed institutions. It is to compete; but competition itself does not cause innovation, only existential threat does (reform or die). Such a threat is only a product of another institution of similar function and equal or greater credibility. In the end, such existential threat is derived from creating co-equal institutions.

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