Friday, July 13, 2018

O imperialismo trumpista

The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony, por Barry Posen (Foreign Affairs):

Yet Trump has deviated from traditional U.S. grand strategy in one important respect. Since at least the end of the Cold War, Democratic and Republican administrations alike have pursued a grand strategy that scholars have called “liberal hegemony.” It was hegemonic in that the United States aimed to be the most powerful state in the world by a wide margin, and it was liberal in that the United States sought to transform the international system into a rules-based order regulated by multilateral institutions and transform other states into market-oriented democracies freely trading with one another. Breaking with his predecessors, Trump has taken much of the “liberal” out of “liberal hegemony.” He still seeks to retain the United States’ superior economic and military capability and role as security arbiter for most regions of the world, but he has chosen to forgo the export of democracy and abstain from many multilateral trade agreements.
Trump the ‘Illiberal Hegemonist’, por Daniel Larison (The American Conservative):
Posen hits on something important here, and it helps explain why Trump’s approach to the world appalls both liberal internationalists and advocates of restraint. The former recoil from Trump’s zero-sum positions and enthusiastic embrace of authoritarian regimes, and the latter reject his support for the open-ended policing and meddling around the world that drive up the costs of our foreign policy. Restrainers would probably not care about giving up on democracy promotion if it implied a cessation of endless wars of choice and toxic entanglements with bad clients, but dropping the pretense of being interested in improving political conditions abroad has just made these other things easier to perpetuate. Trump doesn’t bother claiming that his foreign policy is intended to improve other countries at all, but that isn’t going to stop the U.S. from policing many of them indefinitely anyway.

“Illiberal hegemony” is the worst of both worlds. It combines the many costs of pursuing hegemony with higher costs of a damaged reputation and the trashing of commitments previously made in good faith. Illiberal hegemony still generates the same resentments and hostility as its liberal version, but it also stokes more distrust and loathing among our allies. It keeps getting the U.S. involved in wars it doesn’t need to fight, and it shows even more blatant disregard for the lives of foreign civilians than before. The definition of our interests remains just as expansive and all-encompassing as ever, and there is even less respect for the requirements of international law.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Proibir os telemóveis nas escolas?

A França proibiu o uso de telemóveis nas escolas; em Portugal já se começa a falar nisso.

Para começar, convém distinguir duas coisas - uso de telemóveis na escola, e uso de telemóveis na sala de aula; é que me parece que às vezes se confunde as duas coisas: é completamente diferente os alunos estarem a usar o telemóvel durante uma aula, ou estarem a usá-lo durante o intervalo (uma analogia - quando tinha 16/17 anos costumava levar o meu tabuleiro de xadrez para a escola, mas não me punha a jogar na sala de aula; ou pelo menos não desde um incidente na aula de filosofia...).

Outros dois assuntos que convém distinguir é a questão "os alunos devem levar telemóveis para a escola?" e "as escolas e/ou o estado devem proibir os alunos de levarem o telemóvel?"; também são coisas diferentes - pode-se argumentar que há razões para os alunos não levarem telemóveis para a escola, mas mesmo assim considerar que quem deve tomar essa decisão são as respetivas famílias e não o Estado ou as escolas (creio que aqui também é relevante o motivo para ser contra os telemóveis - se for prejudicarem terceiros, teremos um argumento para ser a escola a proibir; mas se for só uma questão de se considerar serem prejudiciais ao próprio, fará mais sentido, com alguns limites, serem os pais ou educadores - ou mesmo os alunos, se forem maiores de idade - a tomar essa decisão).

Agora, vamos ver os argumentos a favor da proibição: «As "medidas de desintoxicação" propostas pelo ministro da Educação, Jean-Michel Blanquer, prevêem a diminuição das distracções em salas de aula e a redução de casos de bullying. (...) Apoiantes da lei afirmam ainda que o uso de smartphones entre jovens e crianças tem piorado os casos de cyber-bullying e facilitado o acesso a pornografia, além de dificultar a habilidade de crianças interagir socialmente. Outras justificações negativas dadas pelo ministro para a lei ser aprovada incluíam a obsessão cada vez mais comum com marcas de vestuário e o perigo de roubo dos telemóveis.»

Quanto ao argumento do cyber-bullying, imagino que é bastante provável que as pessoas que usariam um telemóvel para fazer cyber-bullying sejam largamente as mesmas que farão bullying clássico durante os intervalos das aulas, portanto a proibição dos telemóveis possivelmente pouca diferença fará (talvez até se possa argumentar que o cyber-bullying é menos mau que o bullying clássico, já que será mais fácil à vítima "desligar-se" dos bullys - é so cortar os contactos virtuais com eles - enquanto que no mundo físico será mais difícil livrar-se deles).

A respeito do facilitar o acesso a pornografia, isso só é um problema para quem ache que isso é um problema (um aparte na questão da pornografia: quando, em algum país, são anunciadas medidas governamentais para restringir o acesso à pornografia, não é raro promover-se deliberadamente a confusão entre "pornografia vista por menores" e "pornografia de menores" - p.ex,, falando vagamente de "pornografia", "menores", "proteger as nossas crianças", etc. na mesma frase, mas sem entrar em detalhes do que se está a falar - de forma a capitalizar o repúdio geral pela segunda para justificar o combate à primeira).

A respeito da dificuldade das crianças em interagir socialmente - eu diria que é um pau de dois bicos: estarem sempre agarradas ao telemóvel ou à internet pode levar a que algumas crianças desenvolvam dificuldades em interagir no mundo físico, mas por outro lado, para aquelas que já há partida têm dificuldade em interagir e/ou são pouco sociáveis (duas coisas diferentes, mas muitas vezes ligadas com complexas relações ovo-galinha), é  possível que tenham mais facilidade em interagir socialmente pelo método virtual do que no mundo físico, até porque dá-me a ideia que essas pessoas frequentemente preferem à escrita à palavra.

O perigo do roubo de telemóveis é algo que afeta essencialmente quem leva o telemóvel para a escola, e não terceiro - logo, se tanto a criança/adolescente como os pais estão dispostos a correr esse risco, porque é que o Estado há de os impedir?

Quanto à obsessão com marcas (na noticia fala em "marcas de vestuário" mas deve ser gralha - o que é que isso tem a ver com telemóveis? Provavelmente no original a referência deve ser a marcas de telemóvel, não de vestuário), parece-me o melhor argumento contra os telemóveis, já que alguém que traz um telemóvel de ultimo modelo para a escola e com isso faz os outros sentirem-se invejosos estará a prejudicar os outros, uma situação em que já se poderia considerar como justificando a intervenção do Estado (no entanto, eu tenho muitas desconfianças face a essa conversa de "obsessão com marcas", que muitas vezes serve de capa para outras coisas; p.ex., já ouvi falar de casos de escolas - imagino que colégios privados - que decidem passar a ter uniformes obrigatórios e justificam em público com o argumento de que é para combater as discriminações por causa de marcas de roupa, mas depois em privado confessam que a ideia é mesmo acabar com as roupas demasiado reveladoras).

Outro argumento que  penso não ter sido invocado pelo governo francês, mas já vi usado por defensores dessa proibição, é combater o vício dos jogos, mas isso parece-me mais um preconceito contra os passatempos da nova geração, seja o rock'n'roll nos anos 50 ou os jogos de computador hoje em dia, do que um argumento fundamentado - mesmo há dias estive a ler um livro publicado em 1817 (A Abadia de Northanger, de Jane Austen) em que a dada altura era referido a atitude que então havia contra a leitura de "romances", e hoje em dia incentivar a jovens a ler "literatura" (isto é, "romances") parece ser um desígnio nacional[pdf] para todos os ministérios de educação do mundo desenvolvido; e livros que na altura em que foram escritos eram acusados de causarem suicídios hoje em dia são leitura recomendada[pdf]. A esse respeito chamo a atenção para este meta-estudo sobre os estudos sobre os jogos de computador: pelos vistos, a maioria dos estudos, que não descobrem efeitos negativos dos jogos, raramente são citados pela comunicação social nem por outros estudos; já a minoria de estudos que detetam efeitos negativos são amplamente noticiados e citados em estudos posteriores (mesmo quando os resultados ou a metodologia são menos robustos que os estudos que indicam que os jogos são inofensivos).

Mais uns pontos adicionais:

- os telemóveis (ou melhor, as câmaras fotográficas/de filmar que hoje em dia têm acopladas) permitem aos estudantes denunciar situações como más condições na escola ou comida excessivamente paleo/biológica na cantina; face aos processos disciplinares a que os alunos que denunciam essas situações estão a ser sujeitos, o que deveríamos estar a discutir não era a proibição de telemóveis, mas sim a redução nas proibições de captação de imagens dentro das escolas de forma a criar uma espécie de excepção "fair use" para os casos em que essa captação/divulgação fosse de interesse público (ou talvez simplesmente restringir a proibição aos casos em que aparecem pessoas nas imagens).

- Uma questão mais prática/operacional: irão existir uma espécie de balcão à entrada das escolas em que os alunos possam deixar o telemóvel à entrada e levantá-lo à saída? É que se não for esse o caso, a proibição de usar telemóveis na escola vai significar, na prática, a proibição de usar telemóveis durante quase todo o dia - afinal, os alunos vão ter que deixar o telemóvel em casa, pelo que vão ficar sem telemóvel não apenas durante a escola, mas no caminho de e para a escola; e se após saírem das aulas tiverem que ir a outro sítio sem passarem por casa, também não vão poder levar o dispositivo.

Claro que se pode contra-argumentar que eu (nascido em 1973) passei a minha vida escolar toda sem telemóveis e sobrevivi - mas o mesmo pode ser dito de todas as inovações ao longo da história da humanidade ("Para quê essas ferramentas de ferro? No nosso tempo só tínhamos bronze e nunca deixamos de arar a terra ou cortar ao meio os nossos inimigos por causa disso").

[Post publicado no Vias de Facto; podem comentar lá]

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Efeitos da Revolução Americana

Benefits of the American Revolution: An Exploration of Positive Externalities, por R.J. Hummel:

In fact, the American Revolution, despite all its obvious costs and excesses, brought about enormous net benefits not just for citizens of the newly independent United States but also, over the long run, for people across the globe. Speculations that, without the American Revolution, the treatment of the indigenous population would have been more just or that slavery would have been abolished earlier display extreme historical naivety. Indeed, a far stronger case can be made that without the American Revolution, the condition of Native Americans would have been no better, the emancipation of slaves in the British West Indies would have been significantly delayed, and the condition of European colonists throughout the British empire, not just those in what became the United States, would have been worse than otherwise. (...)

At one end of the Revolutionary coalition stood the American radicals—men such as Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Richard Henry Lee, and Thomas Jefferson. Although by no means in agreement on everything, the radicals tended to object to excessive government power in general and not simply to British rule. They viewed American independence as a means of securing and broadening domestic liberty, and they spearheaded the Revolution’s opening stages.

At the other end of the Revolutionary coalition were the American nationalists—men such as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris, and Alexander Hamilton. Representing a powerful array of mercantile, creditor, and landed interests, the nationalists went along with independence but often opposed the Revolution’s radical thrust. They ultimately sought a strong central government, which would reproduce the hierarchical and mercantilist features of the eighteenth-century British fiscal-military State, only without the British. (...)

Caplan asks what specific benefits came about because of the American Revolution. There are at least four momentous ones. They are all libertarian alterations in the internal status quo that prevailed, although they were sometimes deplored or resisted by American nationalists.:

1. The First Abolition: Prior to the American Revolution, every New World colony, British or otherwise, legally sanctioned slavery, and nearly every colony counted enslaved people among its population. (...) Yet the Revolution’s liberating spirit brought about outright abolition or gradual emancipation in all northern states by 1804. (...)

2. Separation of Church and State (...)

3. Republican Governments (...)

4. Extinguishing the Remnants of Feudalism and Aristocracy (...)

Global Repercussions

The potentially deleterious impact of these foiled British designs on North America is hinted at in a short article by Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Lucas. The article was a response to an essay in which Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, based on his several books on the British Empire, glorified the empire’s role in spreading economic development. Lucas responded with the obvious. The only colonies to enjoy sustained economic growth were Britain’s settler dominions: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Looking at other colonies in Africa or Asia, Lucas concludes: “The pre-1950 histories of the economies in these parts of the world all show living standards that are roughly constant at perhaps $100 to $200 above subsistence levels.” British imperialism thus failed “to alter or improve incomes for more than small elites and some European settlers and administrators.”

The impact of the American Revolution on the international spread of liberal and revolutionary ideals is well known. Its success immediately inspired anti-monarchical, democratic, or independence movements not only in France, but also in the Netherlands, Belgium, Geneva, Ireland, and the French sugar island of Saint Domingue (modern Haiti).12 What is less well understood is how the Revolution altered the trajectory of British policy with respect to its settler colonies. Imperial authorities became more cautious about imposing the rigid authoritarian control they had attempted prior to the Revolution. Over time they increasingly accommodated settler demands for autonomy and self-government. In short, the Revolution generated two distinct forms of British imperialism: one for native peoples and the other for European settlers. (...)

That brings us back to the question of slavery. A Parliamentary act of 1833 abolished slavery throughout Britain and its colonies, effective in 1834, although with an explicit exception for territories controlled by the East India Company. The act’s passage had partly been assisted by a major slave revolt in Jamaica during the previous two years, along with a tight symbiotic relationship between American and British abolitionists. The oft-repeated argument is that, without American independence, this act would have simultaneously abolished slavery in what became the United States. (...)

The only conceivable way Britain could have held on to all its American colonies was through political concessions to colonial elites. If American cotton, tobacco, rice, and sugar planters had still been under British rule, they inevitably would have allied with West Indian sugar planters, creating a far more powerful pro-slavery lobby. (...)  Thus it is likely that, without U.S. independence, slavery would have persisted in both North America and the West Indies after 1834 and, indeed, possibly after 1865.
Ainda a respeito do carácter revolucionário (em vez de uma simples guerra de independência) da Revolução Americana, ver também Was There an American Revolution?, por Robert Nisbet (que já referi aqui há uns anos).

Saturday, June 30, 2018

A nova polémica intra-Bloco de Esquerda

The Portuguese Myth, por Catarina Príncipe, na revista Jacobin (tradução em português publicada pelo Movimento Alternativa Socialista)


Lições, e não mitos, sobre o não-modelo português, por Maria Manuel Rola, Adriano Campos e Jorge Costa, na Rede Anticapitalista, em resposta ao anterior
 
Recusamos a Censura, por Maria Manuel Rola, Adriano Campos e Jorge Costa, na Rede Anticapitalista, em reação à Jacobin se recusar a publicar o texto  "Lições e não mitos..."


Contexto: Catarina Príncipe é afeta a uma corrente de oposição no Bloco de Esquerda, a "moção R", crítica face ao acordo com o PS (ou pelo menos à maneira como tem sido implementado), enquanto Maria Manuel Rola, Adriano Campos e Jorge Costa defendem a linha atualmente maioritária.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Nacionalismo?

Us and them, por Scott Sumner (Econlib):

When I speak with people on the other side of the immigration debate, they often start with nationalistic arguments. But when pressed on the issue it soon becomes clear this is about more than nationalism. Most of the anti-immigration people I speak with do not regard the Asian culture in Silicon Valley as being inferior to the black culture of Detroit, or the Native America culture of South Dakota, or the Hispanic culture of El Paso. When they speak of “American culture” they have something much more specific in mind than people who live in America. (...)

I have recently been stuck by the passion with which many immigration restrictionists discuss the situation in Germany. Viewed objectively, the recent immigration into Germany seems like a net gain for the world. The gains to the immigrants almost certainly outweigh any possible losses to Germany. The other side will then tell me that I’m missing the point, that I need to think in nationalistic terms, not bloodless cosmopolitan utilitarian terms. In that case, however, why would American nationalists (including President Trump) be so upset about the situation in Germany? After all, neither the local Germans nor the immigrant Syrians are members of our “tribe”. Neither of these groups are Americans. We even fought two wars against Germany.

Unless . . . perhaps this isn’t about nationalism at all. Perhaps this is about some other unspoken issue, which makes many people feel that the Germans of Cologne are “us”, whereas both the blacks of Detroit and the Asians of Silicon Valley are “them”.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Antropomorfismo e antropodenialismo

What I Learned From Tickling Apes, por Frans de Waal (New York Times):

TICKLING a juvenile chimpanzee is a lot like tickling a child. (...)

The ape also shows the same ambivalence as a child. He pushes your tickling fingers away and tries to escape, but as soon as you stop he comes back for more, putting his belly right in front of you. At this point, you need only to point to a tickling spot, not even touching it, and he will throw another fit of laughter.

Laughter? Now wait a minute! A real scientist should avoid any and all anthropomorphism, which is why hard-nosed colleagues often ask us to change our terminology. Why not call the ape’s reaction something neutral, like, say, vocalized panting? That way we avoid confusion between the human and the animal.

The term anthropomorphism, which means “human form,” comes from the Greek philosopher Xenophanes, who protested in the fifth century B.C. against Homer’s poetry because it described the gods as though they looked human. Xenophanes mocked this assumption, reportedly saying that if horses had hands they would “draw their gods like horses.” Nowadays the term has a broader meaning. It is typically used to censure the attribution of humanlike traits and experiences to other species. Animals don’t have “sex,” but engage in breeding behavior. They don’t have “friends,” but favorite affiliation partners. (...)

We still hear this argument, not so much for tendencies that we consider animalistic (everyone is free to speak of aggression, violence and territoriality in animals) but rather for traits that we like in ourselves. Accusations of anthropomorphism are about as big a spoiler in cognitive science as suggestions of doping are of athletic success. The indiscriminate nature of these accusations has been detrimental to cognitive science, as it has kept us from developing a truly evolutionary view. In our haste to argue that animals are not people, we have forgotten that people are animals, too. (...)

In order to drive this point home, I invented the term “anthropodenial,” which refers to the a priori rejection of humanlike traits in other animals or animallike traits in us. (...)

THE key point is that anthropomorphism is not nearly as bad as people think. With species like the apes — aptly known as “anthropoids” (humanlike) — anthropomorphism is in fact a logical choice. After a lifetime of working with chimpanzees, bonobos and other primates, I feel that denial of the similarities is a greater problem than accepting them. Relabeling a chimpanzee kiss “mouth-to-mouth contact” obfuscates the meaning of a behavior that apes show under the same circumstances as humans, such as when they greet one another or reconcile after a fight. It would be like assigning Earth’s gravity a different name than the moon’s, just because we think Earth is special.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ainda as detenções de crianças imigrantes nos EUA

Uma série de tweets por "Boz":

Every parent in the US needs to understand that ICE can detain your child, label them an "unaccompanied minor," and throw them in a cage. Nothing is stopping that from happening today.

Can your two year old explain where he’s from? Is your eight year old carrying documents proving she’s a US citizen or here legally? No. They’re undocumented and can be detained by ICE, even right in front of you.

Most white Americans don’t think it will happen to their kids. They think it will only happen to people crossing the border illegally. But that’s not true. It’s a statistical near certainty that some of those children in detention are legally in the US and have been misidentified

Don't tell me it can't happen. ICE has detained over 1,000 US citizens and people legally in the US in recent years (and that's just the cases we know of). They are given few chances to prove they are actually citizens. It's harder if they're children. [ICE held an American man in custody for 1,273 days. He’s not the only one who had to prove his citizenship]

Não sei até que ponto as mudanças anunciadas por Trump (no sentido de pais e filhos serem presos em conjunto) alterará este ponto, mas não me admirava que não.