DAVID BRIN's political and economic essays

more solutions (that might work!) to problems (we wish would go away!)

These viewpoints are not classically partisan; they are suggestions, seeking a broader perspective. After all, intractable problems often require multiple solutions from millions of minds, persistently applied.


climate science meets the inquisition

denialism is no longer an option

Every few years a new battle begins in the seemingly-neverending Global Climate Change culture war. Trained as a scientist, and knowing many who research the atmospheres of 8 planets or who propelled spectacular advances in weather forecasting, Brin tends toward listening to expert advice on this one — especially since we're only being asked to do things we should be doing anyway. In 2007 he posted an essay dealing with some logical flaws in the denial-movement, going after those who claim: "I'm not denying science, just asking questions!"

the ultimate answer to 'the government is useless'

will we lose our knowledge "commons"?

Before the hate-all-government narrative becomes official government policy, we may want to re-learn the lessons of the last 6000 years. During most of that time, independent innovation was actively suppressed by kings and lords and priests, fearing anything (except new armaments) that might upset their hierarchy. Moreover, innovators felt a strong incentive to keep any discoveries secret, lest competitors "steal" their advantage. As a result, many brilliant inventions were lost when the discoverers died — lost for millennia before being rediscovered after much unnecessary pain.

resilience is people power

is the age of amateurs upon us?

Throughout the 20th Century, the trend in our culture was monotonic, toward ever-increasing reliance on protection and coddling by institutions, formally deliberated procedures and official hired guns — none of which availed us at all on 9/11/2001. Rather, events that day seem to suggest a reversal, toward the older notion of a confident, self-reliant citizenry.

Of course it’s too early to forecast a major counter-trend. But indications are provocative. Rather than diminishing the role of the individual, advances in technology seem to be rapidly empowering average citizens, even as professional cynics forecast freedom’s demise.

empowering one person at a time

empowering people, one at a time

For 2,000 years the enemies of democracy, led by that infamous so-called “philosopher” Plato, have tried to undermine the Periclean experiment by couching the debate in terms that work to the detriment of freedom. In order to do this, they pulled many tricks. Foremost, they emphasized and concentrated on the LEAST important and least honorable aspect of democracy — majority rule — while downgrading the most important aspect, which is open and knowing reciprocal accountability.

a wall of ideas

waging war on ideas

I do not need 'liberal thought' to make me favor equality of opportunity (while opposing artificial equalizing of circumstance). All I need is the blatantly obvious fact that we were wasting staggering amounts of human creative potential when people were repressed because of presumptions having to do with race and gender and class. The fantastic success of pragmatic 'liberalism' at spurring us to take on these devils is so overwhelmingly more important than any other event of the last century that the burden of proof is on anyone who disses 'liberals.'

rule or ruin

the gop's political end-game?

I've long felt that the best minds of the right had useful things to contribute to a national conversation — even if their overall habit of resistance to change proved wrongheaded, more often than right. At least, some of them had the beneficial knack of targeting and criticizing the worst liberal mistakes, and often forcing needful re-drafting. That is, some did, way back in when decent republicans and democrats shared one aim — to negotiate better solutions for the republic.

silly cycling

silly cycles

Here's a silly notion that folks routinely seem to love to fall for — that history runs in patterns and even predictable cycles. This concept has been fruitless at predicting actual events since — forever. For example, almost a century ago, all the chattering classes were going on and on about Oswald Spengler's book, The Decline of the West, whih claimed that the First World War was sure evidence of the imminent collapse of Western Civilization. In fact, the "cycles" theory seems far less rewarding than the notion of "attractor states"... or pitfalls that seem relentlessly to pull in cultures, because of repetitive traits in human nature.

prophets and losses

prophecy as political manipulation

Proclamations of doom are perennial flowers which have sprouted in the garden of human imagination since earliest times. Oracles appear whenever turmoil causes nations and peoples to feel uncertain about the future. Ambiguity is the prophet's major stock in trade. For example, King Croesus bribed the Delphic Oracle for good news, so the priests told him what he wanted to hear — if he marched on Persia he would destroy a great empire. He marched, and the empire he destroyed was his own. Other doom-prophecies prove devastatingly self-fulfilling.

climate change of mind

is it culture war or climate war?

Nothing demonstrates the silliness of left-right "culture war" more than the illogical fight over human-caused climate change (HCC). People who take fierce positions over a scientific matter based on their politics should be ashamed of themselves. Originally published in Skeptic Magazine, "Skeptics versus Deniers: Creating a Climate of 'No!'" shows you how to tell a true "skeptic" from an opportunistic "denialist."

advisors at work

scientists give the best advice!

Nothing could better indicate the turn in our national fortunes than to see science no longer dismissed as a realm of pointy-headed boffins, but viewed as part and parcel of our nation's future. If we want a resilent government and responsive politicians, perhaps it's time we restore independent science advisory agencies.

a war on expertise

so why is there a war on expertise?

The schism over global climate change (GCC) has become an intellectual chasm, across which everyone perceives the other side as Koolaid-drinkers. Right now all the anecdotes and politics-drenched "questions" flying now aren't shedding light. They are, in fact, quite beside the point. That is because science itself is the main issue: its relevance and utility as a decision-making tool.

make Orwell fiction again

is 1984 a cautionary tale?

George Orwell’s 1984 is often cited as a warning against science and technology... a terrible misinterpretation! While Oceania’s tyrants gladly use certain technological tools to reinforce their grip on power, their order stifles every human ingredient needed for science and free enquiry, creating a society that eats its seed corn and beats plowshares into useless statues.

path to presidency

fix the electoral college!

Back in 2008 Brin wrote a series of essays proposing quick-fixes for seemingly-intractible problems with the way we conduct our politics. This essay issued alarms about the consequences of our failure to change the anti-democratic Electoral College. As he noted then, "Every four years we hear calls to replace the Electoral College with plurality popular voting (the worst of all possible alternatives). But nothing happens. Nor will it soon, because one party — the Republican — benefits from the status quo." Read his proposal to reform the Electoral College in a way that wouldn't require a Constitutional Amendment.

telling the hard truths

what if radical honesty was part of the campaign ritual?

Who doesn't like the idea of oppositional leaders finding a patch of consensus amid a sea of discord? We cheer when heads of state, overcome differences between nations in order to sign a treaty that finds common ground. Why shouldn't politicians within parties do the same? Wouldn't you like to see the list of issues and policies that candidates from both major parties stipulated, or "agreed that they agree" about a set of issues and policies?

when a minority rules

can a minority rule without the consent of the majority?

Face it: majority rule is no longer a part of America's politics. The winning Presidential candidate no longer earns 50% of the total vote (and is now beginning to be elected without a plurality win). Today, the House of Representatives is held by the party that received less than 50% of the vote; in 2014, Senate Democrats received 20 million more votes than the GOP and still lost seats. The long-term solution — equitable distribution — is unlikely to be implemented by a minority-ruling party. Back in 2008 Brin proposed honoring the losing majority by requiring the Minority Party meet with — and listen to — a delegation from the opposing party.

David Brin quote

is patriotism partisan?

Democrats must stop approaching patriotism as a hot potato, to be handled gingerly, and instead clasp it to the bosom, assertively. They should broach it eagerly. Make the topic their own. As FDR, Truman and JFK did. Let's remember those who marched and argued and legislated and innovated, in order to make our country the brightest beacon of hope in four thousand years.

getting it right or wrong

is citizenship too difficult?

A deep flaw — perhaps the most tragic in human nature — makes delusional hallucinators of us all, blinding our eyes to any evidence that runs counter to our favorite dogmas. (This applies in all directions, to all dogmas, left as well as right.) Even more urgent is the need to find excuses forour side, our team, our tribe. In the face of this core human trait, it takes an awfully big person to admit that cherished, idealistic plans went awry... even diametrically opposite to every fervent hope.

the promise of voting

gerrymandering-induced radicalism

Imagine if Pepsi and Coke had arranged to divide up the cola market into tidy little local geographic monopolies, where each could charge whatever they liked for colored sugar water... while claiming that their nearly 50:50 overall split means "healthy competition"! What we are witnessing in U.S. politics today amounts to exactly the same thing. A collusive imperative that has always been attempted by elites for their own class benefit, though hampered by tools of Enlightenment citizenship.

the art of propaganda

let's uplift ourselves first!

Will bitter ideological rifts dominate the 21st Century, as they did the 20th? Or might we shrug off some of the obsolete intellectual baggage we've inherited from past thinkers who (in fact) knew much less than we do now? David Brin's questionnaire regarding ideology and human destiny pokes at the deeper assumptions that underlie the many assumptions we take for granted.

operating in the shadows

the radical transparency we clearly need

David Brin's debt exit strategy to 'save capitalism with radical transparency' is likely to be the simplest, easiest and most effective you'll find... and thus it is the very least likely to be tried, since it would sharply reduce the power of the most-mighty. Imagine too a simple requirement, negotiated into a treaty that encompassed the world, that is so simple it can be encapsulated in a few sentences: People should state what it is that they own, and how they came to own it.

foreclosure rowhouses

equalizing the economy

In 2009, the new Congress and President buckled down to fix the economic mess of the Great Recession of 2006-2008. We all wished them luck and wisdom... and it seemed that everybody — columnists, political sages, bloggers and citizens — was chirping in with suggestions from the wings, calling for more than a bandaid-and-a-bailout solution. Were any taken? Can they still be implemented?


Continue reading more political articles and essays.


a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

DAVID BRIN author

novels

David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More


shorter fiction

Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More


Contrary Brin blog

Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More


social media influencer

Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

DAVID BRIN scientist

scientist

David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More


transparency expert

Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More


speaker & consultant

Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 300 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings. Learn More


future/tech advisor

Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More

Contacting BRIN

All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

Questions? Concerns? Email DAVID BRIN at mail@davidbrin.com


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