Scott on Scott
In a review of Jim Scott's Seeing Like a State, Scott Alexander writes:
"But the High Modernists were pawns in service of a deeper motive: the centralized state wanted the world to be “legible”, ie arranged in a way that made it easy to monitor and control. ...
An extensional definition [of High Modernism] might work better [than Jim Scott's academese]: ... people with college degrees knowing better than you, wiping away the foolish irrational traditions of the past, Brave New World, everyone living in dormitories and eating exactly 2000 calories of Standardized Food Product (TM) per day, anything that is For Your Own Good, gleaming modernist skyscrapers, The X Of The Future, complaints that the unenlightened masses are resisting The X Of The Future, demands that if the unenlightened masses reject The X Of The Future they must be re-educated For Their Own Good, and (of course) evenly-spaced rectangular grids. ...
He [Jim Scott] admits that the organic livable cities of old had life expectancies in the forties because nobody got any light or fresh air and they were all packed together with no sewers and so everyone just died of cholera. He admits that at some point agricultural productivity multiplied by like a thousand times and the Green Revolution saved millions of lives and all that, and probably that has something to do with scientific farming methods and rectangular grids. He admits that it’s pretty convenient having a unit of measurement that local lords can’t change whenever they feel like it. Even modern timber farms seem pretty successful. After all those admissions, it’s kind of hard to see what’s left of his case. ... Authoritarianism is bad? Destroying civil society is bad? You shouldn’t do things when you have no idea what you’re doing and all you’ve got to go on is your rectangle fetish?"
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
This is my notepad.