CELEBRITIES ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM TO BE
Apparently bitten by the critique that he spends his time pleasing the enemy, Paul Krugman, insists that he is no crude man. In an apparently unrelated situation, hedge fund billionaire Milner a Multiverse fanatic, has attributed his enormous three million dollar prize in mathematics and biology.
What’s the connection? Celebritism. Krugman is afraid to contradict celebrities, Milner is anxious to spread celebritism to (some) top scientists. Celebritism is the sugar around the bitter pill of oligarchism.Krugman: “Jared Bernstein agonizes over the role of wonkish analysis (which spell-check keeps trying to change to “monkish”) in a political environment in which “facts and smart policy are on the run.” It’s something I worry about too.
On one side, if wonks don’t point out what we really should be doing, who will?…
On the other hand, if wonks only propose things that won’t happen, what good are they?”
It seems that Krugman does not understand that, where there is a will, there is a way. Reciprocally, if there is no will, there is no way. To propose strategies that could, and ought, be willed, eschews him.
Indeed the case for real progress has to be made stridently, and repeatedly. Indeed Obamacare is much better than a hard vacuum, but now it’s the law, so really drastic progress ought to be proposed instead of crowing constantly about how good Obamacare is. If I want to hear crows, I go on a walk. Even Obama wants people such as Krugman to push for the right ideas.
Whereas “politics is the teaching of the possible” (Die Politik ist die Lehre vom Möglichen; Otto Von Bismarck, author of Universal Health Care in the Kaiserreich, 1883 CE), the art of the critic ought to be to present strongly what ought to be willed. Critics are not in charge of sausage making… (See Note on the “art of the next best“.)
By just presenting to the masses what is OK with the Tea Party, one becomes Tea Party. When the democrats were in total control in the first few weeks of Obama’s first ascent, they made constantly the Tea Party case, showing their true nature (somewhat on the right of Hank Paulson, who had to go on his knees just a few weeks earlier to persuade Nancy the Plutocrat Pelosi to save the economic system!)
Where there is no belligerence, there is no esperance. Wonks conk, monks honk.
“The first set of winners of the $3 million Milner/Zuckerberg financed Breakthrough Prizes in mathematics was announced today: it’s Donaldson, Kontsevich, Lurie, Tao and Taylor. There’s a good New York Times story here.
When these prizes were first announced last year, I was concerned that they would share a problem of Milner’s Fundamental Physics Prizes… One oddity is the award to Kontsevich, who already received $3 million from the Fundamental Physics prize. Given my interests, I suppose I shouldn’t criticize a prize structure where physicists get $3 million, mathematicians $3 million, and mathematical physicists $6 million.
While this prize doesn’t suffer from the basic problem of the Physics prize (that of rewarding a single, narrow, unsuccessful idea about physics), it’s still debatable whether this is a good way to encourage mathematics research. The people chosen are already among the most highly rewarded in the subject, with all of them having very well-paid positions with few responsibilities beyond their research, as well as access to funding of research expenses. The argument for the prize is mainly that these sums of money will help make great mathematicians celebrities, and encourage the young to want to be like them…”
My comment (immediately published by Woit, whereas the New York Times sat on my Krugman comment for hours, since I am on the censorship list):
Milner is a celebrity. And a financial manipulator who became immensely wealthy with what Roosevelt and the Bible called contemptuously “money changing”. He profited immensely of a system, plutocracy, that is mostly about oligarchy pushed so far, that even the character of those “leaders” become diabolical.
It’s diabolical to make us believe that mathematics will progress more by giving more power to those who have more than enough to do good math.
Overall, science and mathematics do not have enough practitioners. A striking example is antibiotic research where a small effort needs to be done to find new antibiotics. To have a few individuals who are much richer will have no positive effect whatsoever. This is certainly true in math and physics.
In biology, immense greed has clearly undermined research (individuals have made up to half a billion dollar a year in that field, but one cannot find the comparatively modest finance for new antibiotics research). Making a few persons very rich promotes greed.
So why is Milner doing this? Maybe it’s subconscious. The oligarchic principle is that humanity is unworthy, but for a few celebrities who never get enough. This is what Milner is truly rewarding. His reason for being what he is. Someone obsessed by individual power.
Want to help science and math? Finance studies on how to persuade governments to finance enough advanced public free instruction in science and math, starting in preschool. Through heavy taxation of the richest celebrities, starting with Milner and his kind.
The very fact that Milner and his ilk have so much money to spend on celebrities demonstrate that they are not taxed enough. (The same goes for private jumbo jets a la Google founders.)
Celebritism makes people obsess about one not themselves. It’s deeply immoral: if our ancestors had obsessed about other people that they never met, they would have been eaten by lions pretty soon. But we are here, so they were not like that.
“Moral”, the “mores” means what is always “more”, what persists, what allows to persist. The celebrity cult, just as watching obsessively sports, or dance, on TV, is a deep offense against self-reliance. Such anti-evolutionary behaviors ought to be discontinued.
Part of the fundamental concept of fascism, is to make one, out of the many. This is great in combat, yet devastating for the collective mind. Celebritism is a pernicious way to make people obsessively love the reduction of the many to the one. Thus, it’s immoral.
Down with the prizes! Long live Gregory Perelman. Perelman solved several conjectures, including the Thurston and Poincaré), but adamantly refused the Fields Medal and the Clay Prize (one million dollars). Perelman had strong moral objections to the hierarchy in mathematics. So do I. So does Alexandre Grothendieck. Milner’s clumsy intrusion makes a bad situation worse. And Krugman’s meek bleating for the status quo ante to defend that ugly concept, pragmatism, does not behoove true intellectuals.
Note on the “art of the next best“: Krugman made a whole noise about the fact that his choice, and that there is a whole body of economics about that. The problem is that this is NOT principled. This is the art of the “corsaire”. “Corsaire”? Yes, corsaire, in French. What Krugman does not tell you, probably because he does not even know, is that this whole body of thinking (including “corsaire”, in French), comes very explicitly from Otto Von Bismarck. In other words, this mode of thinking, unprincipled, led to catastrophe. Bismarck, a polyglot, invented the “art of the next best“. Without knowing it, Krugman thinks like a Prussian imperialist.