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One step back from greatness lies the very definition of the impossible leadership situation: a president affiliated with a set of established commitments that have in the course of events been called into question as failed or irrelevant responses to the problems of the day... The instinctive political stance of the establishment affiliate -- to affirm and continue the work of the past -- becomes at these moments a threat to the vitality, if not survival, of the nations, and leadership collapses upon a dismal choice. To affirm established commitments is to stigmatize oneself as a symptom of the nation's problems and the premier symbol of systemic political failure; to repudiate them is to become isolated from one's most natural political allies and to be rendered impotent.
Stephen Skowronek, The Politics Presidents Make (pg. 39)


A little while ago Obie asked "What's this crap about a Ruby backlash?" The whole situation has reminded me of Skowronek's work, so I dug a couple of passages up.

We're at a crossroads right now between two regimes - one represented by Java, and the other represented by Ruby (although it is quite a bit more nuanced than that). My belief right now is that Java The Language is in a position where it can't win. People are fed up with the same old crap, and a change is happening (see also: Why Do I Have To Tell The Compiler Twice?, or Adventures in Talking To a Compiler That Doesn't Listen.)
What these [reconstructive] presidents did, and what their predecessors could not do, was to reformulate the nation's political agenda altogether, ... and to move the nation past the old problems, eyeing a different set of possibilities... (Skowronek, pg. 38)
When the new regime starts gaining momentum, in the old regime there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. We can see some of this in the dogma repeated by Ruby's detractors alluded to (but not sourced) by Daniel Spiewak. We hear it in the fear in people's comments when they fail to criticize the ideas, relying instead on ad hominem attacks that have little to nothing to do with the issues at hand.

(Unlike Obie, I don't have any reason to call attention to anyone by name. If you honestly haven't seen this, let's try i don't like ruby, ruby sucks, and ruby is slow and see if we can weed through the sarcasm, apologists who parrot the line so as not to offend people, or just those exact words with no other substance. )

There will also fail to be unity. Java is considering closures, and some want multiline string literals. There's talk that Java is done and that there should be a return to the good ol' days.

Neal Gafter quotes himself and Joshua Bloch in Is Java Dying? (where he concludes that it isn't):
Neal Gafter: "If you don't want to change the meaning of anything ever, you have no choice but to not do anything. The trick is to minimize the effect of the changes while enabling as much as possible. I think there's still a lot of room for adding functionality without breaking existing stuff..."

Josh Bloch: "My view of what really happens is a little bit morbid. I think that languages and platforms age by getting larger and clunkier until they fall over of their own weight and die very very slowly, like over ... well, they're all still alive (though not many are programming Cobol anymore). I think it's a great thing, I really love it. I think it's marvelous. It's the cycle of birth, and growth, and death. I remember James saying to me [...] eight years ago 'It's really great when you get to hit the reset button every once and a while.'"
To me, the debate is starting to look a lot like the regime change Skowronek's work predicts when going from a vulnerable establishment regime where an outsider reconstructs a new one.

I'm not saying Ruby itself will supplant Java. But it certainly could be a piece of the polyglot programming puzzle that will do it. It's more of an overall paradigm shift than a language one, so although I say one part is represented by Java and another by Ruby, I hope you won't take me literally.
Franklin Roosevelt was the candidate with "clean hands" at a moment when failed policies, broken promises, and embarrassed clients were indicting a long-established political order. Agitating for a rout in 1932, he inveighed against the entire "Republican leadership." He denounced them as false prophets of prosperity, charged them with incompetence in dealing with economic calamity, and convicted them of intransigence in the face of social desperation. Declaring their regime morally bankrupt, he campaigned to cut the knot, to raise a new standard, to restore to American government the ancient truths that had first inspired it.
(Skowronek, pg 288)
Hoover's inability to take the final step in innovation and repudiate the system he was transforming served his critic's well... Hoover would later lament the people's failure to appreciate the significance of his policies, and yet he was the first to deny it. The crosscurrents of change in the politics of leadership left him with an impressive string of policy successes, all of which added up to one colossal political failure... Hoover sought to defend a system that he had already dispensed with...
(Skowronek, pg. 284-285)


Which one sounds like which paradigm?

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