Politics, like hell, is other people — and not just right now, when Americans scream at one another in an inferno of partisan rancor and mutual contempt. Politics has always been a group activity. Different people with different experiences want different things; how do we find a way to live together without resorting to violence?
This isn’t an academic question but a vital and urgent one. As William Davies makes clear in “Nervous States,” his wide-ranging yet brilliantly astute new book, issues that were presumably settled before our turbulent moment are now up for grabs. In an age of Brexit and Donald Trump, any discussion of “negotiating” among “interests” sounds like an anodyne fantasy. American presidents used to speak a lot about peace, or at the very least pay lip service to it; now the rhetoric from the White House is aggressive, if not outright incendiary.
Davies suggests that our political situation feels so fraught and divisive because people don’t even agree on a common reality anymore. He offers up the telling example of President Trump’s skirmish with the press over the size of his inauguration crowd. While the media kept pointing to standard pieces of evidence like photographs and numbers, Trump dismissed those items as persecutory insults. “They demean me unfairly,” he complained to a reporter, and then pointed to a photograph from what he insisted was a better angle. “I call it a sea of love.”
“For Trump this was no mere disagreement over ‘facts,’” Davies writes. “It was an opposition between two emotions: the arrogant sneer of his critics and the love of his supporters.”
To an educated class accustomed to letting the facts speak for themselves, the president’s bid to cast a numerical dispute in emotional terms seemed baffling and bizarre. But Trump’s challenge to a complacent reliance on facts has been a long time coming. Davies, a political economist at the University of London, traces how we got here, and offers suggestions about what to do.
He shows how the old Enlightenment faith in reason and expertise developed in the 17th century, as a hopeful and desperate response to the bloody convulsions of the Thirty Years’ War. European philosophers like Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes, seeking to build a foundation of truth that was separable from the vicissitudes of emotion, articulated sharp divisions between war and peace, mind and body.
Such distinctions, Davies argues, are breaking down. A proliferation of new technologies and forms of conflict, including terrorism and cyberwarfare, have pushed us into a state of profound uncertainty and heightened alertness. Hence the “nervous states” of the book’s title — referring not only to the anxiety that attends so much political life these days, but to the actual nervous system that mediates between body and mind, producing sensations like pain, arousal and excitement.
We now live in a world so much in flux that it can seem as if few if any establishment institutions, with their slow and steady accumulation of knowledge, have an authoritative purchase on a volatile reality. The quickening pace of our jobs, our technology and our lives makes this precariousness feel immediate; a jittery uncertainty fosters a skepticism toward the “cool objective perspective,” which feels too remote to be useful, and encourages a recourse to instinct.
“As we become more attuned to ‘real time’ events and media, we inevitably end up placing more trust in sensation and emotion than in evidence,” Davies writes. “Knowledge becomes more valued for its speed and impact than for its cold objectivity, and emotive falsehood often travels faster than fact.”
Davies is a wild and surprising thinker who also happens to be an elegant writer — a wonderful and eminently readable combination. “Nervous States” covers 400 years of intellectual history, technological innovation and economic development, seamlessly weaving in such disparate intellects as Carl von Clausewitz, Friedrich von Hayek and Hannah Arendt. The unexpected affinities proposed in this book bring to mind the roving approach of Marshall McLuhan or Bruno Latour.
A section on the opiate crisis includes a speculative and persuasive disquisition on the possible links between chronic pain and the authoritarian promise of control. Another chapter on the digitization of everyday life connects the personalized world offered by our apps to a degraded form of civics: “The main political question that arises is not ‘can I trust this person to tell the truth?’ but ‘will this person lead me to my destination?’”
It’s become a bit of a sport to lay into the technocratic elite, to berate them for an overweening arrogance and a hapless centrism; Davies himself writes critically of how technical expertise has historically been deployed not just in the service of greater understanding but also for the purposes of colonialism and slavery. Today, extreme inequality makes charts about aggregate growth look cold and unfeeling; when a grand total of 42 individuals control as much wealth as 3.7 billion of the world’s poorest people, calculations of G.D.P. can come across as not only irrelevant but mocking.
But Davies also wants to remind us what expertise was supposed to offer in the first place. “Much of the value of objectivity in public life, as manifest in statistics or economics, is that it provides a basis for consensus among people who otherwise have little in common,” Davies writes. It may be hard to fathom now, but facts — and the consensus they allowed, no matter how temporary or tenuous — were a “basis for progress.”
One response to the crisis of expertise has come from the likes of Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins, who assert that the only path forward is a doubling down on the wonders of scientific fact. But this “bravado rationalism,” with its aloof dismissiveness and bullying imperiousness, only serves to inflame the problem it purports to solve.
Rather than issue high-handed proclamations, what we need now, Davies says, is something more humble, and admittedly more scary. “The political task is to feel our way toward less paranoid means of connecting with one another,” he writes, aware that this sounds like an impossible project at a time when everybody feels aggrieved and nobody feels safe. Suffering is real; but in this increasingly unequal and ecologically besieged world, vulnerability is also something that more and more people share.
After all, as Davies puts it, “If those committed to peace are not prepared to do this work of excavation, then those committed to conflict will happily do so instead.”B:
【在】【宫】【辰】【十】【岁】【的】【时】【候】，【苏】【淼】【选】【择】【回】【了】【苏】【家】【接】【替】【苏】【父】，【至】【于】【宫】【辰】【已】【经】【不】【小】【了】，【由】【归】【一】【带】【着】，【加】【之】【有】【传】【送】【阵】【的】【存】【在】，【往】【返】【十】【分】【方】【便】。 【只】【是】【宫】【少】【卿】【对】【此】【有】【些】【不】【开】【心】，【但】【还】【是】【选】【择】【尊】【重】【苏】【淼】【的】【决】【定】，【在】【忙】【完】【魔】【宫】【的】【事】【情】【后】，【也】【会】【用】【传】【送】【阵】【来】【苏】【府】【陪】【伴】【苏】【淼】，【顺】【便】【帮】【她】【处】【理】【一】【些】【事】【情】，【让】【苏】【淼】【能】【多】【休】【息】【一】【下】。 【至】【于】【苏】【父】，【卸】【下】
【沈】【翔】【虽】【然】【借】【用】【了】【龙】【雪】【怡】【的】【力】【量】，【但】【此】【刻】【却】【觉】【得】【自】【己】【和】【廖】【少】【云】【还】【有】【一】【些】【差】【距】，【在】【那】【股】【震】【荡】【之】【中】，【两】【人】【为】【了】【避】【开】【那】【股】【反】【冲】【的】【力】【量】，【不】【由】【自】【己】【地】【后】【退】【开】【来】。 【那】【座】【山】【瞬】【间】【消】【失】，【被】【夷】【为】【平】【地】。 【沈】【翔】【降】【落】【在】【地】【面】【之】【后】，【只】【看】【见】【廖】【少】【云】【满】【头】【乱】【发】，【脸】【上】【满】【是】【震】【惊】【之】【色】，【因】【为】【刚】【才】【的】【交】【锋】【中】，【他】【看】【出】【沈】【翔】【的】【实】【力】【不】【比】【他】【差】【太】【远】。
【面】【对】【老】【村】【长】【的】【询】【问】，【老】【田】【头】【微】【微】【笑】【了】【笑】，【目】【光】【澄】【澈】【清】【明】，【再】【也】【没】【有】【了】【素】【日】【里】【那】【份】【萧】【索】【与】【沉】【默】，“【是】【啊】，【跟】【你】【一】【起】【吃】【顿】【狗】【肉】！” 【老】【田】【头】【这】【话】【落】【下】，【苟】【盛】【浑】【身】【的】【毛】【都】【炸】【了】【起】【来】。 【想】【要】【开】【口】，【却】【不】【敢】，【只】【能】【是】【呜】【呜】【咽】【咽】【地】【朝】【着】【老】【村】【长】【叫】。 【老】【村】【长】【朝】【着】【苟】【盛】【瞥】【了】【一】【眼】，【眼】【中】【带】【着】【疑】【惑】，“【咦】？【这】【只】【狗】【难】【道】【还】【能】【听】【懂】【我】彩霸彩霸王论坛745888【新】【书】【名】【字】，【修】【仙】【世】【界】【的】【游】【戏】【创】【世】【神】。 【应】【该】【是】【种】【田】【流】【派】【吧】！(【大】【概】?) 【反】【正】【还】【是】【一】【如】【既】【往】【的】【希】【望】【大】【家】【去】【看】【一】【下】。
【写】【了】300【万】【字】，【结】【束】【了】，【敲】【下】“【全】【书】【完】”【三】【个】【字】【的】【时】【候】，【心】【中】【是】【非】【常】【感】【慨】【的】。 【多】【谢】【诸】【位】【兄】【弟】【姐】【妹】，【陪】【伴】【了】【这】【么】【多】【个】【日】【日】【夜】【夜】~~ 《【位】【面】【电】【梯】》【写】【了】600【万】【字】，《【位】【面】**【大】【师】》【写】【了】300【万】【字】，【虽】【说】【字】【数】【差】【得】【多】【了】，【但】【是】，【却】【也】【算】【是】【把】【想】【写】【的】【都】【写】【出】【来】【了】~~~ 【新】【书】，【休】【息】【了】【一】【些】【日】【子】【之】【后】，【应】【该】【会】
【其】【实】，【我】【是】【想】【亲】【眼】【看】【到】【自】【己】【进】【入】【副】【本】【的】【过】【程】。【但】【是】【我】【失】【败】【了】，【进】【入】【副】【本】【眨】【眼】【间】【就】【完】【成】，【根】【本】【就】【来】【不】【及】【反】【应】。 【接】【下】【来】，【我】【淡】【定】【地】【收】【回】【思】【绪】，【扫】【了】【眼】【周】【围】【的】【情】【况】。【这】【个】【副】【本】【正】【值】【傍】【晚】，【而】【我】【自】【己】【则】【站】【在】【一】【个】【半】【山】【坡】【的】【平】【地】【上】。 【山】【脚】【下】【是】【一】【片】【黑】【乎】【乎】【的】【林】【子】，【里】【面】【影】【影】【绰】【绰】【的】【似】【乎】【有】【什】【么】【东】【西】【在】【晃】【动】。【黑】【夜】【耳】【目】【不】【清】，