The New Inquisition

Freedom of the Press Was a Hot Mess
Social Media, Freedom of the Press, and Censorship
The World Is Upside Down
When Did Politics Become Religion?
Who Watches the Watchers?
Maine, Colorado, and NYC?

It is as essential to democracy that the minority should voluntarily submit to the measures adopted as it is that the majority should voluntarily approve them. Democratic government rests upon the principle that it is better to count heads than it is to break them. The principle is a good one, but unfortunately, men will not, under certain conditions, so regard it. By and large the principle works well enough, at least in countries where the democratic tradition is well established, only as long as the issues to be decided do not involve those interests which men will always fight for rather than surrender.

Democratic government, being government by discussion and majority vote, works best when there is nothing of profound importance to discuss, when the rival party programs involve the superficial aspects rather than the fundamental structure of the social system, and when the minority can meet defeat at the polls in good temper, since it need not regard the decision as either a permanent or a fatal surrender of its vital interests. When these happy conditions no longer obtain, the democratic way of life is always in danger.

Carl Becker, winter 1941, "The Dilemma of Modern Democracy (h/t Neil Howe), a very dark time indeed

This is July 4 weekend, when in the US we celebrate American independence. Rather than my usual economic/investment letter, this week I want to take a more philosophical tack, looking at some of the challenges we face as a country and culture, beginning with the freedom of the press but then turning to technology and even wealth disparity. We will have to consider what freedom of speech meant in the 1800s, what it meant at the turn of this last century, and what it means today in a world of social media.

The divisions within our country lead to some very worrisome potential economic outcomes and difficult choices. I will admit upfront I have more questions than answers, and am looking forward to seeing what your answers might be. And if you find this letter to be interesting and thoughtful, consider forwarding it to your friends and holding your own discussions.