1 min read8th Jun 202311 comments
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This got deleted from 'The Dictatorship Problem', which is catastrophically anxietybrained, so here's the comment:

This is based in anxiety, not logic or facts. It's an extraordinarily weak argument.

There's no evidence presented here which suggests rich Western countries are backsliding. Even the examples in Germany don't have anything worse than the US GOP produced ca. 2010. (And Germany is, due to their heavy censorship, worse at resisting fascist ideology than anyone with free speech, because you can't actually have those arguments in public.) If you want to present this case, take all those statistics and do economic breakdowns, e.g. by deciles of per-capita GDP. I expect you'll find that, for example, the Freedom House numbers show a substantial drop in 'Free' in the 40%-70% range and essentially no drop in 80%-100%.

Of the seven points given for the US, all are a mix of maximally-anxious interpretation and facts presented misleadingly. These are all arguments where the bottom line ("Be Afraid") has been written first; none of this is reasonable unbiased inference.

The case that mild fascism could be pretty bad is basically valid, I guess, but without the actual reason to believe that's likely, it's irrelevant, so it's mostly just misleading to dwell on it.

Going back to the US points, because this is where the underlying anxiety prior is most visible:

1. because of Biden's unpopularity, if the election were held again tomorrow, Biden would most likely lose. Biden won the tipping-point state, Wisconsin, by only half a percent in 2020, and both polls and favorability ratings show he has lost popularity since then;

Interpretation, not fact. We're still in early enough stages that the reality of Biden is being compared to an idealized version of Trump - the race isn't in full swing yet and won't be for a while. Check back in October when we see how the primary is shaping up and people are starting to pay attention.

2. the House, Senate, and Electoral College all have biased maps that will let Republicans win a governing trifecta, even with a minority of the popular vote;

This has been true for a while. Also, in assessing the consequences, it's assuming that Trump will win, which is correlated but far from guaranteed.

3. two-thirds of Republican congressmen voted to overturn the election immediately after January 6th, and most of Trump's primary opponents strongly support his actions, so even if Trump has a heart attack tomorrow, many in the party would still be hostile to democracy;

Premise is a fact, conclusion is interpretation, and not at all a reliable one. Trumpism isn't HYDRA - if the popular populist figurehead is cut off, there is no reason to believe another will take his place. That usually doesn't work.

4. there have been waves of Republican retirements in the House and Senate during 2018 and 2022, so that many of the Trump-skeptical congressmen in office during his first term have been replaced by far-right radicals and Trump loyalists;

I guess this one is basically true.

5. most of the "adults in the room" during Trump's first term were fired or resigned, and Trump plans to fill their roles with new staff, loyal to his own vision;

Probably true, and therefore it is unlikely he will be able to achieve much of anything.

6. if elected to a second term, Trump has said he will use "Schedule F" to purge the non-partisan professional civil service, law enforcement, and the American military, and replace them with Trumpists who won't resist attempts to end democracy;

Ditto, only stronger. And that assumes he carries out this promise and that he's successful in that, neither of which is terribly likely.

7. if re-elected, Trump plans to withdraw the US from NATO and end the post-WWII policy of an American "nuclear umbrella", which will likely trigger a Chinese invasion of a now-defenseless Taiwan; global nuclear proliferation; and general, worldwide instability not seen since 1945.

Premise is almost a fact, conclusion is wild interpretation. Trump has said he plans to do that. Will he do that? Possible. Will it trigger an invasion of Taiwan if he does? Possible. Will it trigger nuclear proliferation if he does? Sure, probably, but I'm not too concerned, it won't move fast enough to catch up to AI. Will it trigger worldwide instability? Not fucking likely. (Also, really, The Daily Beast? You couldn't find a source more credible or less biased than that?)

Or, in short:

But what is less well-known is that:

False things are rarely well-known.

And Germany is, due to their heavy censorship, worse at resisting fascist ideology than anyone with free speech, because you can't actually have those arguments in public.

The number of things you can't argue in Germany is tiny. You can't argue that there was no holocaust but that's not central to any ideological debate. Censorship is not preventing ideological debates in Germany.

Censorship always prevents debates. The number of things which are explicitly banned from discussion may technically be small, but the chilling effect is huge. And the fact that ideas and symbols are banned is - correctly! - taken as evidence that they can't be beaten by argument, that people are afraid of the ideas. Also, naturally, the opposite side never has to practice their arguments, so they look like weak debaters because they are.

The 'new user' flag being applied to old users with low karma is condescending as fuck.

I'm not a new user. I'm an old user who has spent most of my recent time on LW telling people things they don't want to hear.

Well, most of the time I've actually spent posting weekly meetups, but other than that.

One could introduce 🌵 for such users.

Possible new pandemic? China's concealing evidence again, looks like the smart money is against 'new virus' but thinks it's drug-resistant pneumonia, specifically resistant to the drugs that are safe for small children.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/11/28/chinese-hospitals-pandemic-outbreak-pneumonia/

A number of Manifold markets under https://manifold.markets/browse?topic=pandemic, looks like most are trading around 10% chance of anything happening outside China.

Is there a graph of solar efficiency (fraction of energy kept in light -> electricity conversion) for solar tech that's deployed at scale? https://www.nrel.gov/pv/cell-efficiency.html exists for research models but I'm unsure of any for industrial-scale.