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Fantasy, Decadence, and Stagnation (Fantasy Politics 3/3)

August 25, 2021 at 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm PDT

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In this salon (the third in a three-part series), Jake Orthwein will lead a discussion on the role of political fantasy in the Great Stagnation.

“We’ve substituted the realities of politics for these increasingly fictionalized worlds, and I think that’s probably a very unhealthy thing.” – Peter Thiel

If, as we’ve discussed in the last two salons, politics has become a fictional spectacle in recent years, the question arises: what are these fictions obscuring? Despite recent signs of progress, the U.S. has been in an era of relative stagnation since the early 1970s. Prominent stagnationists like Peter Thiel have argued that everything from Silicon Valley hype cycles to vicious culture warring is actually an elaborate distraction from this underlying reality. Eric Weinstein has argued that, since the early 80s, our economy has been dominated by a series of “gimmicks” — false promises of growth that mask cynical wealth grabs. Ross Douthat views our increasing preoccupation with entertainment and virtual worlds as a symptom of “the decadent society.”

What is the relationship between fantasy politics and stagnation? How do hot-button issues keep voters angry and distracted at the expense of real progress? In the absence of growth, is real political dispute too dangerous? Is the future of progress virtual, or is acceleration in the world of bits distracting from stagnation in the world of atoms? Come discuss all of this and more!


Reading List:

Anthropic Capitalism and the New Gimmick Economy by Eric Weinstein

Peter Thiel on Uncommon Knowledge (Select Quotations from David Perell)

How Fantasy Triumphed Over Reality in American Politics by Bruno Maçães

The Age of Decadence by Ross Douthat



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August 25, 2021
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm PDT
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