- Ten Year Treasury Yield up 20% in one week
- When Americans fear free speech, Americans are in peril
- Not right vs left but the people vs media monopoly
The McAlvany Weekly Commentary
with David McAlvany and Kevin Orrick
Valuing Voice As An Antidote To Dehumanization
January 13, 2021
The McAlvany Weekly Commentary covering monetary, economic, and geopolitical news events.
Reflect on the hard conclusions you have arrived at by vicariously accepting what you read and watch, which are curated materials. Whether it is The Newsroom producer or a Big Tech algorithm, what you feel is a reflection of thinking done for you and a feeling by design. Right and left are both culpable.
Now, here are Kevin Orrick and David McAlvany.
Kevin Orrick: Welcome to the Mcalvany Weekly Commentary. I am Kevin Orrick along with David McAlvany.
David, one of the things that we value the most with this program is talking to people who may not always agree with us so that we can listen to other ideas. I have watched the country here, especially during the last few days, and there is a fear of speaking about what you believe in because you may be censored or lose your job. I was thinking about how, in an abusive relationship, oftentimes, the abuse comes from one person basically inflicting their views on another and not allowing the other to have a voice. What do you think?
David: Yeah. It seems that there is a difference between those who seek truth and those who wish to establish power. I suppose they are not mutually exclusive, but it would, in practical terms, appear that way wherein looking to establish power is at the expense of seeking the truth. This is no longer the first priority, and so you do see a socially unique dynamic today.
Kevin: Yeah, it really has been hitting me over the last week too. We have to know who the true enemy is. The left is not the enemy of the right and the right should not be the enemy of the left, per se. The enemy right now is those who are shutting the voice down. You said something last night that I think is worth repeating, “Valuing voice is an antidote to dehumanization.” What we are seeing is the dehumanization of two sides, but it is because the voice is being shut down. I would like to talk about that today, Dave, but I also want to get the markets out of the way because there are some things going on in the markets that are worth talking about, but I want to get back to this voice that has been shut down.
David: Absolutely. As for the markets, there are a thousand things to discuss, and they are important. But I think they do pale in comparison to the potential missteps afoot in the areas of social and political engagement.
Kevin: Jim Deeds called me and he talked about how Treasury yields had topped one percent, and he drew me to Bloomberg just to look at the commodities, and he said, “Kevin, do you see what is happening? Interest rates are rising. People are moving out of cash and they are moving into commodities.” He says this is a sign of inflation. What do you think, Dave?
David: Well, I think some of the highlights, the ten-year Treasury broke out to 1.17 percent. It is a 20 percent move in less than a week, which is very significant. You have had radical volatility, which has lifted stocks to all-time highs. Even as you had insider selling spike, margin debt exploding to all-time highs, which is leveraged speculation on the continued price move higher in the equities markets. The investment world has begun to recalibrate to a new investment context, and I do think inflation is that theme, gaining momentum. I think the net effect will be a major asset class recalibration and a rotation, which I think is already afoot.
Kevin: We have seen gold over this last week drop, but gold and silver – I mean that is where you go not just for deflation and instability, but for inflation. The relevance of gold and silver has not changed, has it?
David: There are as relevant as ever, and they reached support along with major moving averages. Last week’s price dynamics were suggestive of a deliberate hit, in other words some price manipulation, and there was major impact trading which is a colloquialism for manipulation. Major impact trading in both stocks and gold in support of a Biden and Blue Wave narrative. You know, that the Blue Wave is good for stocks.
Kevin: Do you agree with that? About the Blue Wave being good for stocks?
David: Not true, in our opinion. Here are the things that would be good for stocks: the free flow of capital, excessive monetary policy, and excessive fiscal policy. Those are going to get speculators’ juices flowing. There is no doubt about that, but then there comes the balancing act between getting what you want on the front end and ultimately paying a price for that in the end. I guess what you had this last week is the narrative creation and the perpetuation dynamics, which are very easy to game in the age of algorithms and model trading. So, I think it is important to be careful.
These activities in the stock market do not reflect what is next. What could be next? For that, I think we have to watch the bond market, the dollar, and how those two markets trade over the next six to twelve months for a definitive view. Stocks are going to tell a very different story for quite a while. They fall in line with the trends and messages sent from the fixed income and currency markets, but stock investors are always the last ones to get it. If you had a room full of really smart people, your stock traders are kind of the stupid ones in the mix compared to foreign currency and fixed income traders. As much as the impact trading was meant to move momentum and an upward trajectory for stocks last week, the most important dynamic was in the treasury market. It was highly consequential and I think what we have to look for is the knock-on effects from an increasing cost of capital, which I think can be huge. You have those impacts within the corporate realm, and of course within every aspect of financing.
Kevin: With as much chaos as we have, it is amazing to me that we still have such a strong risk-on attitude. What I have learned throughout the years of talking to clients is that I can hear their emotions, and people are worried about the politics. But you know, when you have Bitcoin hitting 40,000, and you have the stock market hitting all-time new highs during this kind of disruption, we have not really seen the emotional shift yet. I think we probably will. In 2008, we experienced an emotional shift wherein instead of worrying about how much money they are going to make, the people started worrying about their return of principal. You know, the old Will Rogers thing.
David: One of the more important articles that I looked at last week was the Wall Street Journal. It was Sheila Bair and Lawrence Goodman. I have met and talked with Lawrence before and Sheila Bair, of course, was head of the FDIC during the last major financial crisis. They put together an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal dated January 6th and entitled, “Corporate Debt ‘Relief’ Is An Economic Dud.” I think it is a must-read. You have to consider the footprint of the FED in this particular market environment and what the knock-on effects are, again, of the cost of capital. When you begin to play with the cost of capital, you begin to influence investor and speculator behavior. To hear from the head of the FDIC and Lawrence Goodman, who is president of the center for financial stability, it really is a key article to home in on this week.
Kevin: One of the things I love about this show, Dave, is the people that we can reference. I just referenced Jim Deeds, who is nearing 90 years old, who has been a stockbroker since the ’60s. When he calls, I listen, because it was like Howard Onstott up until about May of last year. He passed away in 2019, but he was a mentor of mine. It is good to listen to the older men.
The problem is that most of these guys do not live to be 100, 110, 120, and so on. You have often turned me onto books of people who are no longer with us, but feel like they should be a guest here on the Weekly Commentary, like Jacques Rueff. I still feel like I just had a conversation with Jacques Rueff from the 1960s. You had mentioned to me last night that you have been reading old speeches. These are men who are no longer here, but we really probably would have enjoyed having them as guests so that we can really hear their thoughts.
David: When Martin Luther King Day rolls around, it is pretty common for me to read a speech for the kids. There is such drama and power in those words and his ability to communicate, and, for perspective, sometimes, I will read old speeches, particularly when there are crazy currents stirring at a cultural level and there seems to be a feeling of danger lurking everywhere. I find an insightful, impassioned, or subject-specific message brings some clarity to the current context even if it is completely unrelated. This weekend, I re-read Malcolm X’s speech, “The Ballot or The Bullet” delivered in 1964 at a Christian Church in Cleveland.
Kevin: That was not necessarily to bring up peace, was it? I mean he had a very, very pessimistic view of the avoidance of violence.
David: Well, what Malcolm X assumed is that no revolution had ever been bloodless, and that if ballot initiatives were blocked, then black nationalists would need to take up arms. Three months later, you get violent riots breaking out in New York and a variety of other states. Ironically, it happened in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. So, I look at these speeches, and it is all for perspective.
Kevin: Well, you turn me onto Václav Havel, who probably disproved Malcolm X’s theory on that because there was the Velvet Revolution that he was a key part of.
David: I invited Havel to be a guest on the commentary, but I did not know that he was dying of throat cancer at that time. He kindly said he was not doing any public interviews anymore, and that was one of those missed lifetime opportunities. But you are right, Václav Havel in the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, that was in November 1989. For the historical record, we can see that positive change can occur non-violently, and I think for Malcolm X, if he could not find a precedent for a non-violent revolution, it is because he either did not look far enough back. You see an almost first-century revolutionary dynamic within Christianity and within the Roman state, or maybe he did not maintain enough of an imagination to anticipate the crumbling of communism in Eastern Europe, because the Velvet Revolution certainly was non-violent.
In that case, you had a one-party rule which came to an end after 41 years, and stepping into power was Havel, a playwright and an artist. He was central to the dialogue that caused a hugely popular and non-violent uprising. The name ‘Velvet’ suggests that it was peaceful. It was thoughtful even as it was impassioned. Havel became the first democratically elected president in that post-communist period. You could recall our conversation with Tomáš Sedláček. Tomáš was Havel’s chief economic advisor. He was a polymath and he still is, but at the age of 23, the polymath is advising a playwright.
Kevin: He is one of my favorite guests that we have ever had. He wrote The Economics of Good and Evil. Before you go on, let us talk about Václav Havel being a playwright. It is interesting when you bring an artist in who is a thinker. I have mentioned in the commentary over the last few weeks that I have been studying parables and narratives. A parable is a truth that can only be conveyed through a narrative or story, and it is interesting because when you look at Václav Havel, he was not just throwing issues out to make people mad. He literally was trying to bring forth a narrative of change that is also of human dignity and rights.
David: Yeah, he was not an artist that was merely an iconoclast, but he was also someone who cared about elevating, discovering, and seeing truth lived in a societal context. It is challenging to think of today and how the current structures of information flow and intellectual bias would deal with the likes of a Tomáš Sedláček or a Václav Havel.
Kevin: Do you think they would agree with what is going on right now? With Facebook, Twitter, and all these guys directing on YouTube, Amazon, and Apple – those who are directing the narrative the way they would like to see it come out?
David: I would guess that the informational monopoly that exists today, and again, just reflecting on the nature of power, it’s a technocracy. It is not where you have bureaucrats that are highly trained and skilled, but you have Silicon Valley types. I am not sure that social media outlets would have even allowed for their voices to be heard. The marriage of political power and corporate dominance expressed through informational monopoly, I think what it would have done is filter and eliminate the message because what Havel brought to the floor challenged the status quo.
Today, you can see media and social media uniting to define what is allowable discourse. To me, maintaining a voice in the venues that are presently offered is becoming more of a question of, “What is the dance?” The dance requires a degree of compliance and uniformity. It is ironic to me that this summer, you get cities ablaze and people are talking about starting a national conversation. If you really wanted a national conversation, that uniformity and compliance make a mockery of that suggestion.
Kevin: It reminds me of Animal Farm. There are some animals more equal than others, apparently. All animals are equal, but there are some more equal than others. I am going to repeat that quote from last night because it is so powerful because there is this dehumanization going on right now, “Valuing voice is an antidote to dehumanization.”
David: I remember sitting with my oldest son outside the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. The first Presidential Library built, Congress enacted – I forget what the name of it was – in 1955, but I was there a number of years ago and I was explaining that the road to the Oval Office was not always through the halls of established political power, at least not in a straight line anyway. Prior to Truman’s Senate win in 1934, he had been a very unsuccessful investor in a variety of commodity investments, and then a business entrepreneur, and –
Kevin: I think he failed at that, did he not?
David: Well, it was not so much of his business acumen or lack thereof. He lost the haberdashery, a men’s fine clothing store in the “Forgotten Depression of 1921,” as Jim Grant describes it. But circumstances were tough. What we saw in the aftermath of false start after false start, was that this was someone not to be deterred.
Kevin: Like Churchill, he says, “It is not how many times you get knocked over, it is how many times you get up.”
David: I mentioned it because of a famous quote that seems to rest solidly on my greatest frustration this week. He said, “When even one American who has done nothing wrong is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril.” There is no doubt, missteps in both political and socially inappropriate behaviors were taken this last week in Washington DC. I do not know if we have all the facts as of yet, but it would appear to me that there is that sense in which it is time to close the mind and the mouth. There is a sense of peril, I feel it. We are not on the eve of national reconciliation or peace, we are nowhere close to it. We are in a more dangerous place as of this weekend than we were in the middle of last week.
Kevin: Do you remember the book that you turned me onto, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty? When the voice is shut down, there are horrible ramifications.
David: Yeah. For those who do not know Albert Hirschman, whether it is The Passions and the Interest or Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, I would read anything that he has written. It is not easy reading, but it is very insightful. I think the silencing of the opposition, whether it is through shaming, intimidation, or doxing, rejects the lessons of Albert Hirschman’s first title ‘Voice’ because the voice is a means of managing problems and pressures as they emerge within a system. It is his classic work. You have got to read it, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. It highlights how any kind of organization, whether it is a company, a family, or a country, can influence outcomes with an understanding of social dynamics that carry people through maintaining or rejecting loyalty. This can be brand loyalty, family loyalty, political affiliation. It applies to virtually any organization. Exiting an existing construct altogether, or as he powerfully argues, finding a degree of satisfaction in contentment in having a voice even if the social construct is not going to comply or transform or be precisely what is desired, voices like that release valve on a pressure cooker.
Kevin: You know, we have the train here in Durango that we can use as an example. It has a steam engine and when that steam builds up to a point where it has to be released, you can hear its whistle, and then the steam is released. It is really an excellent metaphor, I guess, on what you are talking about. I can tell you right now, Dave, there are a lot of people out there that I do not agree with, but I would never want to still their voice and mute them purposely to where they cannot express what they believe.
David: Yeah. I think the greatest risk of deteriorating social cohesion and escalation of tensions since last week’s electoral college confirmation comes from the imposition of silence. You go back to Hirschman’s commentary on voice, and that is what is critical. Without it, I fear we are at the Rubicon. Allowing for dialogue, debate, and the expression of different opinions have been out of favor in academic circles for more than a generation. That is ironic, right? Allowing for dialogue and debate, the expression of different opinions in both the media and social media seems to be going the way of the Ivory Tower.
Kevin: It seems like if we have more suppression, the more we are able to communicate with each other.
David: A couple of things that I have been enjoying reading and are helpful in terms of processing the context that we have put ourselves not only into this week, month, or year but over the last decade or more. Cynical Theories is a book worth reading. While you are ordering it – please order from your local bookstore – get a copy of Quassim Cassum’s Vices Of The Mind and Tim Groseclose’s Left Turn. Both of these came from Justin McBrayer’s bibliography. You might recall our conversation on fake news with Justin and–
Kevin: Boy, that was timed well, huh?
David: It was really timed well, I think. Trump’s comments have never been timely nor genteel. They have never been decorous and clearly, neither the contacts nor the rhetoric used last week was well thought out. After four years, you would think we would know what to expect.
Kevin: Yeah, but do you not that think we should be allowed to make that decision ourselves instead of just putting a mute on it?
David: I think when we see the left-leaning political apoplexy, and the media’s treatment of last week’s events in contrast to nine months of social chaos, rioting, violence, burning, and looting in the name of Black Lives Matter, we have a testament to the Pravda-esque nature of traditional and social media. What is acceptable and unacceptable violence has been defined by television commentators with degrees in radio, television, and film, but not by philosophers and ethicists debating the definition, meaning, agency, assumptions, and ultimate consequences. The way we are engaged in today’s tough issues is dangerous. If only the skills needed, or dare I say, the character needed, to understand, listen, engage, and problem sove, it is lacking. If you go back in time, we have Roger Ailes, the former president of Fox News, who said decades ago while he was working inside the Nixon administration, that today, television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, listen to the radio, or read or gather any form of communication. The reason is that people are lazy. With television, you sit, watch, and listen, and the thinking is done for you.
Kevin: Yeah, and if you think any differently – again going back to your quote, “Valuing voice is an antidote to dehumanization.” If you think any differently, you are just not allowed to speak.
David: I am also reminded of Edward R. Murrow. He is one of the greatest when it comes to broadcasting. I do not mean to completely disparage the trade, but I do think that if you are going to define acceptable violence as they did in the summer, and what is unacceptable violence, as they have done in the last four to six days, I would be willing to say that all violence is unacceptable. But what I am not willing to concede is that news anchors are the new philosophers and ethicists of our day. I do not think they are qualified.
Edward R. Murrow, one of the great broadcasters said, “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves,” and that is what I see. When I hear Roger Ailes from Fox News say that people are lazy with television because you just sit, watch, listen, and the thinking is done for you, what I hear is a generation of sheep being birthed, and from that we beget a government of wolves. This is not just the Roger Ailes and the Fox News Syndrome. We have Trump Derangement Syndrome on the other side with MSNBC, CNN, and others. It is equal-opportunity laziness and it is a nation, not one side of the aisle, but a nation of sheep which is begetting a government of wolves. Just process that. Process Ailes’ comment on people being lazy and that the thinking is done for you. Reflect on the hard conclusions you have arrived at by vicariously accepting what you read and watch, which are curated materials. Whether it is the newsroom producer or a Big Tech algorithm, what you feel is a reflection of thinking done for you and a feeling by design. Right and left are both culpable.
Again, we discuss the difficulty of engaging in current events with Dr. McBrayer. Order his book Beyond Fake News. It is great. But also look at Cassam’s critique again, from his bibliography, of how we feed the vices of the mind. Review Groseclose because you have to appreciate what academic research reveals about today’s existing media bias. This is not conjecture. It is rigorous, testable academic research. What you eat, sleep, breathe, and drink from the news is a distortion of reality – it is unintentionally and intentionally distorted. Read the book, it is valuable.
Kevin: That is one of the reasons why I really feel like I need to return to the understanding of parable which encases the truth no matter what the news is saying. In other words, the truth is the truth at all times. That is why, Dave, when you go back and read those speeches by Malcolm X, Truman, Solzhenitsyn, and Martin Luther King, you can go back and say, “Okay, what is testable truth in what they had to say?” In a way, it is the narrative again. The difference between that and what we are being told to think right now is that a lot of it is not true.
David: Yeah, whether it is Malcolm X or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, these classic speeches are worth setting for their cultural insight, rhetorical flair, and for the light they shine even on current events. You might look this up later, but in Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Commencement Address titled “A World Split Apart,” we are talking about social cohesion and this is certainly more on a grand scale wherein he is looking at the world and not just a nation, but there is so much to learn from the perspective brought by Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Commencement Address. I put it in a category of must-read and I would like to mention a couple of highlights that I thought would be worth sharing.
He says “Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century and more than anywhere else, this disease is reflected in the press. Such as it is, however, the press has become the major power within the Western countries, more powerful than the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. One would then like to ask: By what law has it been elected and to whom is it responsible? In the communist East, a journalist is frankly appointed as a state official. But who has granted Western journalists their power, for how long a time, and with what prerogatives?”
Kevin: Yeah, public affairs officers. It is a way of controlling the people. There were three Pravdas, I do not know if that is still the case, but there was a red one, a white one, and a green one and it depended on how inside you were to the party as to which paper you got to read.
David: Well, properly spoken to the graduating class at Harvard, Solzhenitsyn says, “Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those that are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally, your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevent independent-minded people giving their contribution to public life.”
I think how he concludes is very appropriate. “If the world has not come to its end” – and I would agree with him, I do not think it has – “If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era. This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left – but upward.”
Kevin: Would he not be a great guest? Would you not have loved to have Solzhenitsyn on the show?
David: I think he died the year that we started the commentary. Those kinds of coincidences sadden me because I would have loved to have a conversation with him. There are people that we will know only inwardly from their speeches, but I would have enjoyed knowing them personally. Why am I inspired and instructed by a diverse mix of dead men?
Kevin: Right, right.
David: One is white, one is black, one is a Muslim, one is a Christian, one is from Russia, and the other from Omaha, Nebraska. Tensions rise and, at the moment, everyone can feel when tensions are rising. It is like a conflict within a marriage. You can feel that you are at a breaking point, the evidence seems clear that you are, and yet if you did one thing – if you introduced time into the equation, you would see that, as they say, “This too shall pass,” because every moment of crisis is more intense in the experience than it is in the afterthought and the reflection. Does that make sense?
David: We often make mistakes when we are making choices from an impassioned place. I think the intensity of the moment and what we are feeling culturally – from last week to this – the intensity of the moment and the clarity of thinking at that time actually turns out to be delusional, swayed by emotion, or as Cassam would describe them, “the intellectual or epistemic vices.” We need perspective. That is the whole point of this 14-year-old Commentary project. In March, it will be 14 years.
Kevin: Do you think that the people out there, the ones who are so angry right now, do you think they believe the other side is human? Do you think they really want to see a solution or are they just mad?
David: Well, I think that is where, if you stirred and asked where my fears are, it is not in current events. When you see conflict, we see this every day in our house. We have kids and they do not always get along and you can say from a parental perspective that today’s relational crisis is not really a defining aspect of family life, and it is not going to give us the ultimate bearing on where we are going from here.
Kevin: At times, there are ad hominem attacks even within a family.
David: I think we are no longer at risk of genuinely misunderstanding each other. Rather, I think that with prejudiced eyes and ears, we are no longer caring to even listen.
Kevin: That is a scary place to be.
David: Back to the issue we started with, about the establishment of power versus the seeking of truth. They are not mutually exclusive, but one can be at risk when the other is in play. The establishment of power, domination, is something that I think is making the truth become second.
Kevin: Do you think the media is actually trying to move us toward violence versus peace? Is their goal a peaceful resolution?
David: I think there is a peaceful resolution, but I think media in all its shapes and forms, social and otherwise, right and left, are conducting us towards violence and not away from it. That scares me, it appalls me. What inspires me is reflecting and gaining perspective in asking, is there – and I know the answer – but is there a better way forward?
Kevin: Well, culture alone is held together by the rule of law. That is another discussion for another day, but, also, culture is considering the other person who may not agree with you, a human.
David: Yeah. The ad hominem attack is the first step to rhetorical dehumanization. After that dehumanization comes the real tragedy because, once dehumanized, both the right and left are capable of any form of atrocity. Valuing voice is an antidote to dehumanization. Valuing voice reaffirms the dignity of each individual regardless of whether you agree with them. Then comes the hard work of sorting out the contribution of a voice. Knowing about fake news versus factual news, reasonable opinion versus absurd opinion, falsity versus truth – I do not want to limit voice, but there is a sorting process, a weighing process, in the search for truth. This is where not all opinions and voices equally correspond to reality.
Kevin: Dave, I remember in 1982, I was 19 years old and engaged to be married. It was a very interesting and exciting time in my life. But there was this huge monopoly of communications called Bell, and it was broken up by the government for the sake of the American public. Now, we have Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Twitter. We have these platforms where people are communicating, but these platforms are using monopoly at this point to bring forth their own and very narrow narrative. If we are not careful, we need to understand the enemy is not each other. The left and the right, what have you, but our enemy right now is monopoly.
David: Well, life is complex, the markets are complex, and a worldview – although it is nice to organize things neatly according to prepackaged categories, almost like you are going through a college syllabus, there is a lot of messiness, detail, and nuance that needs to be appreciated. You know that I am a free-market-oriented guy, but I also think that there are complications that come with a 100 percent free-market approach.
Kevin: You and I have discussed that. You have to find a way to fight monopoly because it is a natural clumping event in a free-market economy.
David: Yeah, it is self-interest on display, and we recognize the power of self-interest for the good and as well as for evil. I think this is where, if you appreciate an ethical or moral spectrum, you can see that anything that can be used for good can also be used for evil. I think there seems to be confusion around last week when people were being cut off from social media platforms. It should be clear that a private-run enterprise has the right to operate as it sees fit, which is entirely appropriate. Individuals, in turn, have the right to engage that private enterprise for services, or goods, or not. That is a market dynamic. I think it is also a reminder that free enterprise without guidelines and rules tend towards monopoly. So many people love free enterprise so much that they do not see the end from the beginning, and would even set aside the need for any regulation. That was the whole discussion around – what was it – regulation 230? Notice that all of this has happened since Georgia, and there will be no implication. It would appear that there is a Big Tech operating with seeming impunity in a world where legislators are not going to go after them and that risk existed until the middle of last week.
Kevin: And as you said, monopoly brings and comes with power.
David: In this case, it rivals political power, and that is what was suggested by Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s comments about media as well. It is a non-elected power. Today, we see it being addressed in Europe, particularly with your Big Tech companies being scrutinized by Europe.
Kevin: Well, you were wondering about this years ago. Nazli Chouci, when we had her on, it was like, who controls the internet when things go awry?
David: Yeah. This is not me poking anybody in the eye, but we discussed the control of the Internet by private or government entities and even looked at what it means to have this issue of transnational power, communication, and influence. Who controls the internet? Is it a commercial question tied to an investment theme? Maybe, but that is not the most important thing as far as I am concerned. You have a question of informational freedom and individual autonomy. A question tied to, frankly, one of the core values of this podcast. Can we maintain a free exchange of ideas in pursuit of the truth? We assume that the pursuit of truth is additive and cumulative, that it is an evolutionary process that requires ongoing engagement, reflection, and analysis…
Kevin: And it should not be dangerous.
David: It has to include dialogue with a variety of perspectives. That is necessary to the discovery and elevation of truth. We do not claim to be the fountain or source of it. It is like looking through a spyglass. If you have a pair of binoculars, you are looking for it in all of its forms, in every landscape, constantly.
Kevin: Remember when Pilate looked at Jesus and he said, “What is truth?” Without knowing what he was actually looking at. The truth is important, but humanization – going back to what you have said – if you mute the voice, you dehumanize the person. I am just changing your quote, but that is the truth.
David: Yeah, I think valuing and dignifying another person includes investing time and attention in their point of view. It is not an immediate write-off. Valuing and dignifying another person regardless of agreement or disagreement is like the modified Golden Rule: Do to others what you wish them to do to you. You are extending kindness. There is a generosity of spirit in terms of giving someone the benefit of the doubt as you listen and attempt to learn. There is patience, attention, consideration, an accounting for personal prejudice and assumptions which might preclude your own ability to actively listen and to appreciate the value of a view that someone else holds to be critical.
Kevin: Not to mute them.
David: And note that the media trend is more reflective of the academic trend of the last 20-plus years.
Kevin: To silence!
David: To shame, insult, humiliate, discredit, and begin with a person or character assassination. It is usually not necessary from that point forward to engage a topic or an issue with intellectual rigor. Why would you need to if you are talking about the establishment of power versus the search for truth? It is just ironic. That is the most common classroom tactic in the Ivory Tower. Again, shame, insult, humiliate, discredit, character assassination – you’re just one of these or those.
When these things occur, guess what happens. If you start to strip the voice of any dignity, social tensions increase. Silencing is not a solution for social ills or disagreements. Go back to Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. Dysfunction, if you want to think of it in relational terms, suppressing something is not healthy in a relationship. You can suppress it and suppress it, but it comes out in other ways that are not always predictable. Over the weekend, I had this conversation with a friend of mine and she said, “What you are describing is a woman too large to fit in a corset. It is just going to pop out somewhere else.” You do not want to be a stuffer, that was the moral of the story. Let voice be a part of a healthy relational dynamic there.
Kevin: That is why I value the listeners. We talked on the question-and-answer programs over the last couple of weeks about how much we value the insights of the listeners and the things that they had to say through their questions. I would encourage our listeners to keep listening. We would like to also encourage free speech and a free market of speech. There will be no muting.
David: We appreciate that you can say things that are inappropriate or reckless, we have certainly gotten used to that over the last four years. If I were to contrast Reagan’s rhetorical skill with that of Sir Donald, there is no comparison. But I think the idea that we allow for a voice to fade or to be silenced, we lose so much in a democracy. If we lose the ability to speak our minds, engage in dialogue, and continue to learn because there is so much that we do not know.
You have been listening to the McAlvany Weekly Commentary. I am Kevin Orrick along with David McAlvany. You can find us at mcalvany.com and you can call us at 800-525-9556.
This has been the McAlvany weekly commentary. The views expressed should not be considered to be a solicitation or recommendation for your investment portfolio. You should consult a professional financial advisor to assess your suitability for risk and investment. Join us again next week for a new edition of the McAlvany Weekly Commentary.