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’.