The docile body-politic

One of the problems with the way we argue is summed up in this post – http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-comfortably-numb

Most people really don’t want to engage with the world and the consequence for argument is that full facts hardly ever become the issue.  All rhetoric needs to do is engage a numb-skull mentality of people rendered docile.  The zerohedge post complains that US government has been taken over by a few evil people.  I agree and suspect the historical truth is worse.

The excuse for not being able to provide decent education and modern living conditions for all people is essentially that this is a dirty old world and we have to put up with gross inequalities or else end up in the doom of ash-grey uniformity and dictatorship.

Nearly all argument, in my view, is crippled by this kind of foreboding – from questions on arming police officers to whether we should teach real history in schools.  The conundrum is that if we are to settle matters and direction through argument we need a populace that is skilled in argument and, of course, don’t have one – unless we place faith in some unconscious processing.  Plato’s answer (in theory) was to plough vast resources into his Guardians (including husbandry) in education and life-style to create  an elite that would not be corrupted (though he admitted this was inevitable in comments on human nature).

My own view is that education is a failure other than in technical areas, child-minding and soldiering.  The neglected element from Plato is his communism of the free table – the taking away of the temptation of power accumulated through personal wealth.  I see almost no discussion of this that does not start with some Mumbo Jumbo on the role of vast personal fortune in motivating “our best people”.  This turns anything said on the issue to total bollox.  Thieves have similar motivation.  I would say people motivated by money in this sense are unlikely to be trusted in other human endeavours.  Our societies have been gerrymandered to bring about fealty to wealth and the desire to grab it.  I do not believe this is human nature at all.

Key terms in what passes as argument in the general public domain are wrong.  Work is one of them – most people avoid the real thing here, as surely as pompous Greeks believed it scarred the soul and barely even bother to justify slavery for all their show of intellect.  Much of what is discussed is as hopeless as speaking of ‘life-force’ rather than in the language of genetics or using Descartes’ (hapless) physics rather than the lines developed from Galileo, Newton and Einstein.  We talk in ideologies and myths, not about reality.

This reality is dire.  Think about what goes on in the world in 30 minutes.  A child dies unnecessarily in each four seconds, an Indian farmer commits suicide and a whole load else.  We like to keep our comfort by calling anyone revealing this doomsayers and by denials anything we do is responsible.  How welcome it is to have high-level theories telling us such matters are just the unfortunate consequences of ‘free trade’ (now there’s another term that is never true) and things would be much worse if we organised from the eradication of such problems up.

I spent a decade of my life trying to teach British industry to plan. Even in this kind of work heads are buried in the sand.  Many of our industries simply could not compete with the massive structural change to mass production and away from skilled,almost artisan work in many of our industries (shipbuilding was the classic).  Work has primarily been redefined by it being taken away as a means of making a living in my adult life.  We have coped better than rural India, but that’s about  it.

We can grow stuff, build stuff and provide a basic standard of living for all better than the existing one in the UK with no world trade.  Most of us wouldn’t miss the trinkets.  So what is all this international finance about, really?  The really gloomy answer is war.

Who Owns Debt?

Most people don’t do ‘economics’ – but actually quite a lot do end up running a budget of some kind – household, departmental and so on.  Of course,we can’t print money to make up for our blunders without the long arm of the law venturing near our shoulders.

The question my partner asks when I go off on one when media coverage sticks in my craw is ‘who owns the debt’?  This is a very Nietzsche-like question, as in the end debt has to be enforceable, and this makes it a police matter, much as one hopes that we don’t have police doing evictions.  The same principles that apply at Dale Farm apply in respect of debt.  If people won’t pay up the final resort is ‘sending the boys round’.

We have never managed to get rid of loan sharks (look at all the ads now for ‘payday loans’ and see if you can spot the interest rate at 2000% plus in the small print).  Their connections with banks are close.  All kinds of “specialists” are players in dodgy debt, including government debt, your debt and pretty much anything that can turn a profit faster than day-to-day business.  At the bottom of it all you will find such in-consequence as the suicide fashion that has killed a quarter of a million Indian farmers in very recent years.  Were they sold suicide insurance as I’ve seen included in Japanese loans?

We may like to think we have rid ourselves of the miserable exploitations found in ‘wog countries’  (what else are they in the mind of those who don’t care about these deaths?) – but they have reached Iceland, and even here credit card and other unsecured lending is being pursued by securitisation against property.

The truth on who owns debt is simple.  It’s owned by whoever can send the police round or the army in.  Britain’s government debt is 35% foreign owned – does this mean the Raving Loonies (who had a policy of selling Britain to the Arabs and giving us equal portions of the cash) got in when we weren’t looking?

We aren’t in the suicide misery of rural India yet.  But have a think about the cost of a reasonable time at university working only vacations is about £50K and in the 5 years of extra study you have lost maybe another £80K – £130K is about a mortgage.  You start paying back on £21K – which would get you a mortgage of about £60K.  We are thus loading many of our kids not only with serious debt by a bigger opportunity cost – and both are bigger than a sensible 30 year mortgage that would not buy a house anywhere in the country.  This system is as broken as the grim Indian farming debt system.

 

 

 

Prude Joyced

Prude Juice

An electric clock tocked code riddled talk.  Ticks mated with tacs, tic-tac progeny like cake in Kendle.  Well-minted no one gave a flying proud Anglo-Saxon censored by chastity belt. When ticks blindly follow three mice’s fate tock follows tock follows tock follows tock. Tock time is eerie time to be off to the Flying Dutchman for sanity treat company in name for company abandoned.  No white whale oil better beef hooked. Bud was no wiser brewers’ droop no pleasure now beer was fresh out of fuggy muggy Irish talent with clarity no longer a pint of plain behind the welcome of an opened pub door firmly shut against the rain of English summer talk of the ball swinging to Indian rout Tendulkar named Anderson’s Bunny limping home short of the hundred hundreds sadly not six hundred Chiltern Hundreds of fiddling Members.  A screw turned the name of a good one barred by prissie privvy lit with prude not worth dousing with filtered ale.  Take the famed trip round a portrait traced in Dublin streets by the artist as a young man and read the words that must not be spoken adding you and what a hat pin used in several angers makes love to you all in my distance keeping in the phrase not with someone else’s preferring more honest company the pub whore content I’ll listen and buy liquid compensation for what others think she’s for a good one of and I reserve for the smart nob at crease not her crease chin begging for the ball’s tune to bring him down a peg before a shaping one edged to slip’s safe hands round gleaming cherry bled stains in shining on my creams for swing.  The player always good one’s the gentleman turning gentle man himself finding a professional down-at-heel taking the profane in the sacred to feed habit.  The shame is in barring words when mannered world exploits with charm language truly rotten from those who get nice and warm seeing the lights in the castle  To speak with fish-wife’s mouth  is tender to reduce others to poverty prostitution in the action of the word not spoken foul.   Go on Joyce yourself.  Because you know you’re not worth one.

Work Ethic

Bankside has just babbled a bit on work ethic.  Dave’s sort of right, but my critical eye is disturbed easily on stuff like this.  I always wonder how any system can be good when it actually produces dross, and further than this, why we never seem to face up properly to real criticism.  You could perhaps imagine Dave and I arguing about this as we shared a spade job, say, digging footings or the like.  We’d just do it and the work would be about 50-50 from either of us.  Expand this to 6 random people and you soon find the slacker instinct.  If you put 6 undergraduates together in a group, 2 to 4 of them will slack.  I’v e run piecework and bonus schemes and have some amazing tales of slacking and favouritism in such schemes.

Monkeys work for peanuts, but not once they see other monkeys getting grapes.  Human work is bound to be constrained in some degree by the vast unfairness of Rooney and bwanker wages.  Not just this, but more locally someone always seems to get the easier work.  And then the boss bollocks you because he doesn’t see you working your socks off, but does see the idle sod who carries paper up and down corridors in pretence of work.

I know Dave would know this and more – but at the root of work ethic is religion and that usually means ‘bad’.  Animals don’t work hard and this includes the ‘busy bee’ – bees really spend most of their time incumbent.

Most animals try to be efficient, almost in order to have ‘time off’.  I see no reason to have any faith in a system that doles out money in shed loads to the likes of Rooney or bwankers.  I’ll swindle that system at the drop of a hat – which is because I’m honest and have values.  Digging footings with a mate and I wouldn’t more than dream of slacking – and even more, if I saw him flagging, I’d probably try to put extra in to help out.

What the Rooney and bwanker money-grabbing tells us (as should just how much richer the rich have got since WW2 – or should that be in and after?) is that economics doesn’t work and we should change it.  This either means something global or new forms of local economic transfer (which now could easily be global) that leave Rooney and bwankers outside of what we do.  This would be in order to have meaningful ethics that don’t leave you looking like a gullible prat.

The vast majority of ‘work done‘ is meaningless and does not contribute to lives worth living.  People liver in grim crap all over (literally in India etc.) under all kinds of ethics (caste systems) – so why should we be so much different.  We are trapped in notions of what we think is right as surely as ‘rat people’ (India’s lowest caste) or the arses who see themselves as superior.  If we ‘make things fair’ (decent pay for a decent day’s work), what do we do next as humans strive for … and that’s why I’m interested.  What might we be if we weren’t wrapped up in current fantasies?

We need to shift world-views – but remember these are in individuals.  People aren’t happy as a result of winning lotteries, yet most of us dream we would be.  Marx wasn’t the first to notice that we end up alienated from our work and what’s more alienating than that pain in the back just as you realise Rooney gets more than you are all year for one misplaced pass?  Still (fact), we can get more satisfaction and happiness from joining a gardening club or such, than he ever will.

Big questions:

1. How much ‘work’ does the world need from each of us in order that we all eat, have water, shelter and whatever should replace ejukation?

2. How do we share this out?

3. What extra can be done?

4.How do we have a means of exchange that no one can cheat?

5. What else other than ‘work’ might come about?  What might disappear (try to imagine prostitution without poverty etc.)?

6. What ethics arise in such a system and against what ‘base’?

We aren’t doing much of the above, but there is some going on.  Mostly we are moving to war.  I suspect there will be a grab for middle eastern oil and African land and minerals.  We may almost be back to 1900 with US, EU, Japan and Russia at China’s door (WW1) and with the inflation that led to WW2.  The new wars will likely be genocides and colonisations.  Money wants them, whatever money is; and we are in wars.  In the last century the bullies eventually turned on each other, but not until after many meetings to carve up the rest of the world (Berlin 1861 was a classic).

I mention war because what happens to work ethic in it?  One might as well ask what is happening now to out pensions and savings and who is stealing them – because they are being stolen.  I only end up in a question, which is what is ‘work ethic’?  I know what it is when I’m turning over a spade with a mate.  I have less clue once I’m being paid because I need money to live, with Rooney and the work-shy on my back.

People have trouble with argument that challenges values – but this is what we need more of.  There are snags – and one of these is that human beings in general are unbelievably stupid and facts actually backfire in them, making them believe what they held before receiving the facts more strongly than before.  This is called the ‘backfire effect’.  Any ethic based in a networking of such dolts seems unlikely to be right or even for this to matter!