Our leaders have been authorising murder, whether we agree with them or not, for most of our lives. We might be able to exclude a few western peoples, but we all live under the Nato and US umbrella. We have no real politics that might allow us to stop and no genuine public argument that could establish facts. Even those of us who reject godswank really fail to argue without religiosity, basing decision-making on lunatic ideologies as surely as a suicide bomber. Most of us hope not to live in interesting times and hope the world, in this sense, passes us by.
Our economic system beggars rational belief, and one can only explain it in terms of a warranted criminality. We essentially allow the theft of the hard work of others, the modern form of slavery. Our ‘tins of tuna’ have a very squalid history. Bwankers pretend they have super skills we can’t live without and award themselves massive fees. They are merely criminal. Excuses concerning the fee-taking of celebrities are a blind – we could stop this too. It’s part of the cover or scam. The key question here is why we should allow anyone to acquire such wealth as to burden the rest of us, or any group to become the effective serf-masters. Standard notions on the role of money as a motivator and the ideology of meritocracy fail in argument and are protected as sacred – as surely as men in frocks who abuse children.
Countries are urged to expand their economies in order to pay off debt we can identify no owner of, and this generally means being the site of consumption that is boiling our planet. Most people are in denial of most of this lunacy and lack the education to grasp any of what is going on. Most of our education systems barely touch on anything that matters, restricted to ideological roles of providing a workforce and ground for the meritocracy scam.
I really don’t seek to convince anyone. The question is what is about to happen, what disaster might bring us to new practice. We are currently beyond properly persuasive argument as a populace, easily controlled by the religious lunacy of ‘economics’ and tricks of oratory and rhetoric in place of argument. The world is hungry, and part of the reason for this is global warming, man-made or not. For an interesting example of what we know and how to deny it have a look at the Economist – http://www.economist.com/node/18648350?story_id=18648350&fsrc=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+economist%2Ffull_print_edition+%28The+Economist%3A+Full+print+edition%29&utm_content=Google+UK
We have food riots around the world. Plenty of people are living much less buffered lives than ours. What might squeeze us to action, as others less fortunate are demonstrating? Our minds don’t stretch to much, maybe it will have to be our bellies? We clearly do not believe we can achieve a reasonably rational society. 9/11 was a pin prick compared with what may be looming from left field. The ‘terrorism’ may be entirely natural, as little as the climate in north America’s grain belt catching up on its lag in global warming.
Plato and Aristotle were presumably better at ‘argument’ than most of us. Men of their time, they couldn’t get to the right attitude on slavery. Moses, by today’s standards was a vile war criminal. What if the attitude we need concerns the recognition that most of what is portrayed around us is noise and their is a signal about the human condition available to us? To say to Plato, ‘Fine, but you’re still an arse who does nothing about slavery’ would no doubt be madness in his time. The mad, confused they are sane, do not need to be told they are mad. They are apt to turn nasty rather than listen.
One can turn this argument on anyone making it. Science may be based in madness. Every attempt to ground it fails. Science does not make me fall for the rationalist fantasy and I do not take it as value-free, but laden with values and the need to make decisions on how we should try to live. Argument is under scrutiny in science in a manner that is not replicated in the rest of life. Quite how we could have a similar forum in the public sphere can really only be imagined. I am sure this will not be about a method to follow, if we are lucky enough to have the time to develop something.
Currently, it’s less globalisation we have, rather singularisation. Our key concepts are out of date and taken off the shelf leaving us with inevitability, not evaluation of viable possibilities. We know so little they have been able to tell us no one was predicting financial collapse in what some of us know through books and papers as the ‘risk society’. Even our graduates are dumb, knowing less than Victorian soldiers returning from the colonies of slavery and nothing of real work. We live amongst a strategy of hiding the brutality of truth in a blinding fabric of necessity.
Many of us can tell the story – my guess it could start as one of witness, truth and reconciliation. We are as blind to the interests of the slave or victim as Plato, though have abolished its legal identity if not its reality. We did not do this merely through moral exertion, which has its own interests. What’s coming is amongst us now. It’s the shite Gadget laments until she turns to protect her children, or me once, doing what I could to protect my students or colleagues from an inane system. We need JB Priestley’s An Inspector Calls writ large, from a tin of tuna as much as a police incident that catches the media’s eye. The clever (and they ain’t so clever) have found ways to exploit those who can tell the difference between a spade and a shovel and use both. Work is once again for the bronze people and is thought to scar the soul.
My guess is that 10% of what we call work is needed. Rooney would play for whatever Bobby Smith got. We are paying off Jackerwocks and are at war as surely as Orwell’s 1984. Try to write an essay for me on why we are, maybe on Britain’s war in Indonesia and you’ll come up short – if honest, you know you will. I don’t know either, but I know this, which is more than most. It’s coming bigger.
For argument to take place on world peace we would need honest appraisal of the risks of North Korea, China, Russia and “Islam”, including the extent to which any threat is used to justify the status quo and for what interests. the public justification for the wars we are involved in range from total, large-scale deception such as in the Suez Crisis, to ludicrous claims on WMD, presumably masking real financial and foreign policy. Much protest on peace is easily subsumed as equivalent to laying down our arms only to become vulnerable to new colonists. We need to be ahead to stay ahead, and to keep our neighbours weak, if all we can think of them is the worst.
Threats are held over us in many different ways. One should not unionise and push for decent wages and other employment conditions because this leads to a lack of competitiveness. Yet we should not discuss changing the rules of the competition. This is almost like allowing ‘sword boots’ in soccer.
Capital we thought we were building in pensions is now proving illusory as people live long enough to collect them – we were in Ponzi schemes that relied on fresh money. There’s a good chance that our currencies will collapse – super inflation could be with us as commodity producers hang on to what they have rather than accept wheelbarrow loads of paper or the electronic shit of quantitative easing. Some may be thinking that breaking the dollar, perhaps by trading oil in another currency or ‘gold’ (or barter), in order to break the US military umbrella. Money power may be hedging against this (i.e. betting on it happening), shifting its base east. Bwankers threaten to take their trade ‘anywhere else’.
The big questions should, and are not, be about how we beat the cycle of war, exploitation and misery for the majority, or whether this is what we intend – the outcome is surely obvious. Politicians are saying much the same now in their promises as they did when |I was a boy. We should be wondering, as Wittgenstein, whether all we have is a muddle with words. There has been no breakthrough, as in science, in the social, or what we might make it.
I would argue there is now less effective education in my supposedly modern country than when I was young. We have lost the industry-base that gave us what we had. Now we have the ghastly reality in which politicians promises to extend schooling to 18 are a threat to large numbers of kids, even many who will go on to build up substantial debt ‘achieving’ our otherwise ‘give away’ university degrees. Education is really only effective through our public schools, a matching elite surviving in State schools, and our best universities. In this, it is effective only as a ranking and networking ‘Royal route’ for advantaged children.
One massive change has occurred in the use of technology and lean manufacturing in agriculture and industry. The need for workers and their skills in these areas has been substantially reduced. Agriculture, which after all feeds us, is only 4% of world GDP. Much as kwality initiatives in other sectors are rightly ridiculed, the capacity to ‘do things lean’ could be applied elsewhere. This is resisted far more effectively amongst privilege and the professions, now a very distinct ‘upper class’, than any trade union ever hoped for in its sphere of activity.
It is now massively expensive to do anything about social squalor in comparison with, say, building a car. If we could cost the provision of water, food and shelter (devoid of parasitic costs of speculation), I’m confident this would be a small percentage of world GDP. We could then at least evaluate what we get from the rest and whether we want it and what we might replace it with.
Work is a word we don’t contest much, and one might wonder here on observations made on freed slaves or subsistence farmers doing only enough for themselves. They know what work is and the unlikely rewards of doing more. We berate ‘welfare cultures’, yet don’t work in minimum wage conditions ourselves. Much could be asked beyond this. Our ‘work ethic’ is very old. Some of my work was so fascinating it was better than what is generally on offer in what we term leisure. Even now, I miss my own country and its ‘entertainment’ like a pain ion the ass when I get abroad working, something preferable to any holiday package.
What always looms is more of the ‘different’, forced into structures of resistance and the same old interests. We know a great deal about hegemony (pretty much in Gramsci’s sense or as in Yes Minister). Our schools and universities have had no trouble graduating a greater percentage of our kids with 5 GCSEs and degrees. The rule has simply been lowered (by more complex means). A quarter of people still turn up functionally innumerate and illiterate. Your secretary has a degree, but still has a job as a secretary and still can’t spell. Her mate, with a better degree has just been made redundant at Starbucks.
I came from the top of the top grammar school class, but have met many people with skills and abilities, learned through apprenticeship and work. The alleged skills of much professional work are easier to achieve than in many machining jobs. I doubt, in any sense of balance, that academic training is any use to many, or the economy. I doubt most graduates could satisfactorily read the Grauniad (though who would want to)?
Max Keiser is using the word ‘peasantry’ a lot, and everywhere in history peasantry has taken cruel blows and had to bow to the cudgel. There may be a peasants’ revolt coming to streets near you.