討論會行事曆

March 2018
【3/2 (五) 8pm What's Higher Education For?
【3/9 (五) 8pm How Neoliberalism Threatens Democracy
【3/23 (五) 8pm How Neoliberalism Threatens Democracy, Part 2
【3/30 (五) 8pm The Tension Between the Global and the Local

April 2018
【4/20 (五) 8pm What we get wrong about misogyny
【4/27 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

May 2018
【5/4 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【5/18 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【5/25 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

June 2018
【6/1 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

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討論逐字稿: How Neoliberalism Threatens Democracy

FYI: This transcript has been reconstructed from notes on paper, so it’s more ‘interpretive’ of what was discussed than a direct record. It's from the discussion about How Neoliberalism Threatens Democracy.

Notes on the video:
Should experts run things?
Is democracy how we should run things?
What are we as a people?
How do we govern properly?
Reason and democratic organization?
Invisible hand of the market?
Can markets determine our future well?
Can markets govern us?
—Markets need/create inequality
Markets generate capital accumulation NOT growth
Markets generate stagnant economy/oligarchic class/renters
Law gets organized around oligarchy
—no equality of opportunity
—no social mobility
—can’t develop ourselves to become what we want

What we get wrong about misogyny

In her book, Kate Manne talks about the logic of misogyny. I feel like this is a very clear description of a root problem in modern society.

Sean Illing: Can you sum up your argument in this book?
Kate Manne: There’s a tendency to define misogyny as this deep hatred in the heart, harbored by men towards girls and women. I define misogyny as social systems or environments where women face hostility and hatred because they’re women in a man's world — a historical patriarchy.
Sean Illing: I always thought of misogyny as an ideology: a body of ideas that exists to justify social relations. But you argue that this is sexism, and that misogyny is better understood as a moral manifestation of sexist ideology.
Kate Manne: Yeah, that's really well put. One way of looking at it is we have these patriarchal social structures, bastions of male privilege where a dominant man might feel entitled to (and often receive) feminine care and attention from women.
I think of misogyny and sexism as working hand-in-hand to uphold those social relations. Sexism is an ideology that says, “These arrangements just make sense. Women are just more caring, or nurturing, or empathetic,” which is only true if you prime people by getting them to identify with their gender.
So, sexism is the ideology that supports patriarchal social relations, but misogyny enforces it when there’s a threat of that system going away.

The Tension Between the Global and the Local

This issue seems to me to be a central conflict in modernity, or maybe a central conflict since cities have become a thing. How do our ambitions for acheivement as individuals resolve with our need to be connected with the people and places we grew up with?
Do you think this is a struggle for people in Taipei? What have been some of the things people think about this problem? What are some of the solutions people have found, and what have we had trouble solving?
Do you think this issue has been exacerbated or simplified by technological innovation, like with cellphones and computers and the internet?


Can I do that and be a scientist too?
I’m a scientist at UC Berkeley—a card-carrying true believer in liberal Enlightenment values. Imagine that I meet a bright young woman in a small town in Wisconsin or Alabama, and that I want to persuade her to become a scientist like me. “Listen, science is really great!,” I say. “We scientists care about truth and reason and human flourishing. We include people from every country and culture. And our values have transformed the world. For thousands of years before the Enlightenment, the speed limit was the pace of a fast horse, and children died all the time. Now ideas move at the speed of light, and a child’s death is an unthinkable tragedy. Democracy has eclipsed tyranny, prosperity has outpaced poverty, medicine has routed illness, individual liberation has uprooted social convention. Come join us!”

The young woman replies, “That sounds fantastic! But there’s just one thing. I love this town. I have a boyfriend who also wants to be a scientist, and I’d like to get married and have a bunch of kids here soon. My parents are looking forward so much to being grandparents, and my own grandparents need me to look after them. My family and friends are all nearby, and I’d like my kids to live in my community and take part in the same traditions I grew up with. Can I do that and be a scientist too?”

How Neoliberalism Threatens Democracy

“Neoliberalism, warns Professor Wendy Brown, has created a form of reasoning in which human beings are reduced to their economic value and activity, and in which all fields of human activity are treated as markets and institutions, including the state, are increasingly run as if they were corporations. This logic is even applied to activities with no connection to wealth creation, such as education, dating, or physical exercise, which are increasingly governed according to market rules. People are treated in this schema, as units of human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value.”


What's higher education for?

So this guy has a particular viewpoint and a certain axe to grind, and yet his article brings up some interesting analysis. Let's talk about education, certification and what these things mean for society in general.

Education certifies "brains, work ethic and conformity"
There is a massive gap between school and work, between learning and earning. While the labor market rewards good grades and fancy degrees, most of the subjects schools require simply aren't relevant on the job. Literacy and numeracy are vital, but few of us use history, poetry, higher mathematics or foreign languages after graduation. The main reason firms reward education is because it certifies (or "signals") brains, work ethic and conformity.

You could get a Princeton education for free...without a diploma, does it matter?
If a student wants to study at Princeton, he doesn't really need to apply or pay tuition. He can simply show up and start taking classes. As a professor, I assure you that we make near-zero effort to stop unofficial education; indeed, the rare, earnestly curious student touches our hearts. At the end of four years at Princeton, though, the guerrilla student would lack one precious thing: a diploma. The fact that almost no one tries this route — saving hundreds of thousands of dollars along the way — is a strong sign that students understand the value of certification over actual learning.

Why Welfare States Are Important

This is an excerpt from a chapter 21 of the book "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism". It's discussing how a strong welfare state is beneficial to overall economic health as it makes workers more secure and leads to less need for trade protections for industries.

This book is very worth buying and reading. It's written so clearly and covers some of the most important economic issues affecting everyone now.

Let's look at the first bit:


What they tell you:
Big government is bad for the economy. The welfare state has emerged because of the desire by the poor to have an easier life by making the rich pay for the costs of adjustments that are constantly demanded by market forces. When the rich are taxed to pay for unemployment insurance, healthcare and other welfare measures for the poor, this not only makes the poor lazy and deprives the rich of an incentive to create wealth, it also makes the economy less dynamic. With the protection of the welfare state, people do not feel the need to adjust new market realities, thereby delaying the changes in their professions and working patterns that are needed for dynamic economic adjustments. We don’t even have to invoke the failures of the communist economies. Just look at the lack of dynamism in Europe with its bloated welfare state, compared to the vitality of the US.

This is the standard narrative on government pushed in the US. Nearly everybody who talks about the economy or government feels the need to acknowledge or reinforce this narrative.
How is this different or the same as the narrative about government in Taiwan?

The Evolution of Trust

This game investigates how trust and distrust operates in a community.

Let’s go through the game together and talk about the modelling and the conclusions.





Digital Money

There’s seemingly a lot of information about mobile payments on the internet in English, but most of it is breathless, “Omg the future is here”-style reporting, and not much that thinks about the implications for people and economies.
Let’s talk mobile payments on the personal level first:


Have you ever used mobile payment, like Line payment?
Why and why not?
What’s the advantages and disadvantages to using mobile payment?
Is there a privacy issue in using mobile payment?
Is there a security issue?
Can you accept a world that does not have coins and bills?

Below there are (way too many) articles I found discussing various aspects of both mobile payments and cryptocurrencies.
The main thing I learned is that cryptocurrencies and mobile payments are not at all the same thing, but that mobile payments have the potential to function as international currencies, which have a lot of interesting implications.


Applecash, an unintentionally international payment system?
Money you receive (via Apple Messages) from others is added to your Apple Pay Cash card that will live in your Wallet app.
While you can transfer this cash to your bank account if you want, you will also be able to use it directly to make purchases using Apple Pay in stores, in apps, on the web, or anywhere else that may eventually support the payment system.
That’s important because it means Apple has taken a fairly large step toward creating its own take on cryptocurrency.

This is real money, after all, that exists only in Apple space until you turn it into something else — a purchase, a service or "real" money in your account. You’ll also be able to share it with other people.
While the service will be U.S.-only on launch, it will extend, and it will be interesting to see how Apple supports person-to-person payments across borders. To enable the service, Apple is working with Green Dot Bank.
The partners will need to unravel complex questions, such as: If someone in Ireland chooses to use Apple Pay Cash to send money earned in Ireland to someone who works at an iPhone factory in China, in what location is the “value of that exchange created”?