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Breakfast Notes #22 (Hijacking Democracy, False Consciousness, New York City)

Breakfast Notes #22 (Hijacking Democracy, False Consciousness, New York City)
Photo by Luca Bravo / Unsplash

Good morning friends.

This is the 22nd serving of Breakfast Notes. I hope you are enjoying it.

Here is my 'fortune cookie' quote of the week from Charles Darwin on the mechanics of evolution.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

John Rawls On Hijacking Democracy

One great American philosopher anticipated the effective hijacking of the American democratic system by the top 1% of the top 1%. John Rawls warned,

If those who have greater private means are permitted to use their advantages to control the course of public debate,” this would be the corrupting result: Eventually, these inequalities will enable those better situated to exercise a larger influence over the development of legislation. In due time they are likely to acquire a preponderant weight in settling social questions, at least in regard to those matters upon which they normally agree, which is to say in regard to those things that support their favored circumstances.

You know your democracy has been hijacked when you can vote but cannot be heard.

False Consciousness

I used to dislike Marxist Theory because I thought the facts presented by Marx and his proponents were often patently false and too one-dimensional.

I changed my mind because I realized that their sketch of the social forces that mould our perception of reality could be eerily accurate (and thus, elude quantification.)

The concept of False Consciousness can help.

False consciousness denotes people's inability to recognize inequality, oppression, and exploitation in a capitalist society because of the prevalence of views that naturalize and legitimize the existence of social classes. In other words, we often accept the status quo because we can be conditioned to believe they are just and fair.

For centuries, European serfs accepted a feudal system in which they were second-class citizens/enslaved people meant to live under the thumbs of their feudal lords. A prevalent myth was that the system was meant to be, and the system of serfdom was just when it wasn't. This false consciousness prevented the serfs who outmatched the feudal lords in numbers from embarking on a political revolution.

It took wars and plagues for this false consciousness to be broken, leading to the decline of feudalism.

Visualization Of The Day

Bleacher Report

Today is Michael Jordan's birthday.  

This is a picture of Michael Jordan crossing over on Byron Russell and hitting the game-winning/championship-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

It was his last shot in a Bulls uniform.

Enjoy his greatness.

Why Do People Live in New York City?

I am a proud and unabashed Singaporean. My harrowing experience of breaking my leg in New York and paying $300 for a three-minute consultation with a doctor, and getting kicked out of a house for being Chinese has tainted my experience of the city.

However, Tim Urban's post helped me see the good in this city. Here is what he said,

NYC is an extreme place. It’s great at being exceptional and it’s great at being awful. It’s a high-priced filth bucket with great weather 25% of the time. It’s supposedly this world-leading city and yet it’s often behind the innovation curve and feels less futuristic than many other cities. The restaurants are world-class but it can also sometimes be hard to find a fresh salad for lunch. I could go on. But it’s also a place where within a 20-minute walk of my apartment I can find every cuisine in the world, every type of art, every kind of shop, and a million different cultural experiences (many in secret underground nooks). It feels like the entire world is crammed into this city.

He pointed out that among US cities, NYC is not #1 for tech (SF), entertainment (LA), politics (DC), medicine (Boston), or a handful of other major industries. But, New York City is at least top five in every industry. NYC has breadth like nowhere else he knows (at least in the US).

On top of that, New York City remains #1 for finance despite proclamations of its impending death.

This is why the Madison Square Garden remains the Mecca of Basketball, Wall Street remains the marketplace for deals, and the Statue Liberty remains the icon of America.

May the sun shine upon your face,
Keith