New Forms of Argument

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2010/08/are-you-ready-for-life-in-world-3.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

Newspapers and hopefully our crass  broadcast media are supposed to be on the way out.  I already tend towards stuff like Ambush Predator, hopefully not merely because I idly dream of JuliaM leaping out from the bushes (for a chat) on my odd walk down to the local.  Blogs at least make me feel I don’t live in a world in which people really believe television news.  The article in the link is dull, but the idea we might find some new ways to form a decent society through new forms of discussion is not.  Whether we have moved on from sitting in the corner of a pub putting the world to rights remains debatable.  Central to the article is the utterly boring-on-tv Andrew Marr.

The idea that we have entered the ‘information age’ is very old.  Jean Jaures, an old, dead French socialist mooted it amongst very sensible ideas to stop WWI as imperialist crap.  WWI started in 1913 with the British invasion of Iraq,but let’s not get into that inconvenient truth.  Later, Lyotard gave us the notion of changes in knowledge that would change education.  We actually got more of the same in spades.

We do live on the brink of the possibility that we could start arguing and developing society through facts.  I believe the hard technology is with us as surely as H-bombs (though Britain once tried to kid the US and the rest of the world we had these by setting off very big A-bombs). Marr is quite interesting in revealing just how pathetic an insider can feel about standard journalism and its short-term, whimsical approach.  Today, it has us lamenting the infamous, wife-beating drunk and druggie Hurricane Higgins.  Met the guy doing my own drunk bit years ago.  We were both dull, but thought each other great company.  I should no doubt sell the story and give the money to one of the charities he supported when he had cash.

The blogosphere is fledgling – apart from the kind of diversions above, there is access to some kind of changing academe, one in which professors aren’t selling us useless degrees or useful bits of privilege.  The symposium was always privileged and often drunk (its archaeology often takes the form of massive wine bowls).  I can do the drunk bit only badly now.  What would the progress to praxis be?  The article references Karl Popper’s ‘World 3’, itself as least as old as great 10th century Islamic thinking on eternity.  I personally much like the idea of responsibility, humanity and democracy forced at last on reluctant humans by technology, forcing the end of human form to bring about everything that form has claimed to hold dear over centuries of doing the opposite.  Teaching at its best, always seemed that moment when our students started doing things better than we could – but scaled-up in economics this equates to giving the enemy advantages that will be used against us.  We presumably allow so many foreign students knowing our universities are now hapless purveyors of bureaucratic trite?

Plato’s Republik was a vile communist state to be enforced by fascists.  The ‘communism’ extended merely to the privileged (Plato and his seedy mates – read the book- or better Joseph Heller’s ‘Picture This’ ).  We’ve done a few of these (the US does not survive entirely intact on such scrutiny).  Wives were ‘shared property’ (would that I had been an aspirin salesman at the time!).  The blogosphere might be a prototype of something much,much better – but as I leave a performance of Beethoven’s 9th full of feelings of peace, I am also in erotic fantasy concerning the female leads (gay friends tell the obverse tale) -humans can screw anything to misguided libido – our economy is, after all, libidinous.  How do we think with and enter discourse on peace remembering our practical limitations?  How can we become actually respectable rather than just pretend such, as pornography and prostitution burgeons in the ‘shadows’ that we can now all click into?  Currently, Internet economics favours the latter over the former.  Jaded, world-weary soul that I am, I cling to innocence.  Watching the brilliant, touching yet full of knob-gags ‘Company 9’ (Russian), I cried as some of the innocent Russians died, this point leading the rest to rise up and destroy the Afghan charge.  Being a Russian film, one had also cried, as their soldiers had, at Afghan deaths.  Company Nine had had to open fire on their own to get food rations, and were now, in victory, gunned down by their own air support.  The survivors, going home to ‘transitional economy’ deprivations or success, did not know their most unlikely would re-enlist only to die of a stroke on a night march.  The country they had been conscripted to defend (one is not sure whether this is Russia or Afghanistan) disappears as their service ends.  A cop who could understand this film would not bludgeon Ian Tomlinson.  A nation that could would not send its own to repeat the Soviet mistake for nine years, now setting a deadline for withdrawal further away than the end of WWII was at its beginning.  We are so dumb we still listen to cretins talking about ‘hearts and minds’ as only 25% of Pakistanis believe in the Western option and believe we are smarter than the other 75%.  We are so crap,people would rather believe in the Taliban.  We should at least be wondering why this is and what kind of ‘Taliban’ we are supporting ourselves.

Parochially, I’m waiting for the time when Warrington thrash St. Helens as we did when I was a boy.  The Challenge Cup Final will do.  I would forgo this pleasure for a ‘World 3’, though would no doubt be hung by the mob from Oliver Cromwell’s statue, if anyone now knows where it is.  We hid it so as not to embarrass the Queen on her last visit.  Blogging revolt is, as yet, no revolt at all.  The Chartists though, did more with less.  One currently suggested route is film criticism (Zizek).  My own bag on this is the utterly destitute NCIS, in which the world is saved every week by dedicated US Navy types and an incredibly attractive former MOSAD agent.  One episode of this actually had a dead former heroine come back in lingerie dreams to help the cause.  One former comrade of mine, intruding into my hole in the ground, dreamed of being back home to his mother’s cooking. My own could burn or maltreat anything to my taste and I was dreaming of something else.  The day when I would not be gullible to propaganda and ever be more than a taxi ride from a decent curry house again.  Kitchener’s ‘Your Country Needs You’ posters are now hidden in Hollywood and BBC epics like ‘Spooks’.  We should not kid ourselves we are effective in countering this.  Millions went on the streets across Europe trying to stop WWI and later Iraq.  We are merely the ‘banal good’, like those who distributed anti-Nazi leaflets in Germany.  Some future archaeologist may eventually dig up our ‘innocence’.

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8 thoughts on “New Forms of Argument

  1. ”  We presumably allow so many foreign students knowing our universities are now hapless purveyors of bureaucratic trite?”

    Indeed – we need the money, since we have lost (or frittered away) so much of our industrial heritage…

  2. A very interesting and enlightening post Allcoppedout, full of feeling as well as great insight.

    What I don’t believe about the news recently, is that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has just ‘disappeared’ and that not much damage has been done to the marine environment. They are now claiming that ‘microbes have
    eaten the oil’. Maybe so, but what feeds on the microbes
    that ‘ate’ the oil, and so on up the marine life food chain? I’m no science expert, but I do know that any kind of toxic contamination, once in a food chain, gets recycled up the food chain until it reaches humans.

    However, what I did ‘believe’ on the TV news yesterday, because I saw it with my own eyes, and heard it with my own ears, is how distressed, damaged and hurt PC David Rathband now is because of a maniac who made threats to kill, and nobody took him seriously enough.

    This is an example of ‘authority’ sending its own police constable, unarmed, into extreme danger. Poor guy, he was quite clearly very upset by what was done to him.

    That news report was true enough. It made me cry.

  3. We may need more of this kind of response Intel. Our attitudes to victims is very poor and we should learn to trust some of our tears. We should be asking why we can’t take threats seriously – to a point well beyond Gadget-like assertions that they are two-a-penny (though they are).

  4. Perhaps Gadget, like many long service police officers has just become conditioned and used to violence, threats and the worst that society throws at its own, and the police, plus other public sector workers. Personally, I do take threats seriously, but know what you mean about people in the system being indifferent to the dangers many are placed in, public and police. Shijuro says on his blog that you [et al] are ‘anti police’. Are you?

    ITV did a full ‘Tonight’programme about PC David Rathband- [Thursday]. His own description of the shooting and him trying to get help by pressing the button on his radio, that DID NOT WORK?, was very distressing to watch, and to hear. But like many cops PC Rathband has a true fighting spirit and refuses to be ground down by what has happened to him, as he learns to cope with losing his sight.

    One can only wish him all the best and that he really does get well soon, as he stated that he was having a lot of pain in his face and head.

    • I didn’t want to watch PC Rathband. My best friend went blind at about the same age and even though he knew it was coming and he has coped brilliantly, it’s horrible. I too have pressed the personal radio button as a cop to find it didn’t work. I’m very anti-gun, but would have welcomed carrying one as a police officer (and did). I know just what MTG means though, and saw a lot of pretty disgraceful adrenaline fuelled behaviour. Incidents involving police misuse of firearms in such circumstances are legion, but instances of cops exposed to violence outweigh that in some ways.
      Some of the gung-ho whoopsies on Gadget are in denial and can’t take any criticism, but there are plenty who both know what they are talking about and show sound reasoning.
      We need policing and we need better policing. I meet some really good officers, but we aren’t doing much about the dross and they exist too. Our forces need radical revision, but as Gadget says, so do many on The Swamp and in SMTs. We need to see the branding of people as anti-police for what it is, but there is also a pro-police idiocy to deal with. The ideals don’t work in complex areas like this.
      On the threats issue, most us know the ‘sticks and stones but names will never hurt me’ routine as kids. The thing is,we don’t seem to have much idea about what threats to take seriously and can’t spot the signals in the noise. The question is whether we could do better. I’m sure Gadget is right to say it is difficult, but I see no rigorous analysis and a bunch of tame enquiries by people like the IPCC and other review bodies. None of the research in the area is used in any of this.
      My partner and I were severely let down by all the agencies who should have dealt with criminal, violent neighbours and I’m sure some really vile people amongst the officers were responsible, but some really tried. My guess at the moment is that the problem is to do with a collapse in morality, though I don’t mean the traditional prudish one – a better guide would be JB Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’.
      I want cops better equipped and with more power and personal discretion. I want the public to genuinely understand what can happen and what would happen to them under sharp-end stress. But the system needs to be accountable. It isn’t and is a pathetic mess,making me share MTG’s worries. The lying done by performance teams has made things worse, though when more money comes with ‘three stars'(and may mean more real work can be done), who wants to put up their hand, admit what’s going on etc. There is theory on this, but it is ignored. Anti-police? Nah!

  5. I didn’t think that you were anti police Allcoppedout, but thought I would just ask the question anyway, for the internet record! Nor am I anti police, but will on occasions say if something or someone is wrong, which I guess wouldn’t make me flavour of the month. [Or decade!]

    It really does hurt ones emotions, when people who are well paid in the public service sector let others down, be they colleagues or MoP’s. From my own experiences I know that when professionals let people down, or make a mistake, they do get very defensive to protect their own positions. It can often be a case of ‘stuff the victim.

    I haven’t read Gadget’s blog for a while now – time and a desire to limit the amount of ‘negative’ views his blog appears to attract from some of the other posters. I’m sure that Gadget is one of the good guys, and that he’s right when he says “it’s difficult”. It sooooo IS!
    People can become conditioned into patterns of thinking that are not always correct, nor good for them. We all do that, or a subject to that by life experiences, the company we keep, TV and other media.

    I think the ‘branding’ of anyone who does not conform to the view of the herd, or the expected official ticky box analysis of them, is fundamentally wrong. All of us are just human beings, be it coppers, SMT or the unfortunates on the so called ‘Swamp’. Not ONE of us has an easy life. Not at the top, nor the middle, and certainly not at the bottom of the ladder. As the song goes ‘Everybody Hurts’.

    Sharp end stress can do a great deal of damage to people and there does appear to have been an abundance of it for the past few decades. My personal belief is that there are more good coppers than bad ones, and that the good guys seem to always suffer because of the negative influences and actions of the minority of bad guys.

    My old gran used to say that it was best to not give the bad folks any time, attention, thoughts nor energy, because ‘they’ just feed off it and make the situation worse. I have come to understand how wise she was when she told me to ‘think beautiful thoughts’ and dwell on all that’s good and nice in your life. I keep trying!

    • Pretty much anyone sane has to agree with this Intel, though I’d argue we have at least to listen to the apparently insane. I’m very pro-police if I’m honest, but I’m sure something has gone wrong with the balance in our society and our authorities have ‘gone mad’ in some ways. I was in a ‘Keystone Cop’ car chase (though after yobs, not an old codger) in about 76 which ended with much worse behaviour than the Monmouth lads managed. To many criticise without realising how hard the ‘scut work’ is and seem to imagine one can keep up ‘vicars’ tea-party’ etiquette doing it. There is a denial problem though.

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