Harold Skimpole: Art, Time & Money

 

Harold Skimpole is a character from Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House”. He is described as being innocent, like a child who knows nothing of time or money.

From this description we could conclude that Dickens is saying that time and money have eaten up our innocence. Dickens was writing at a time when the Industrial Revolution was pushing capitalism to its full potential and carving a new world-order designed to produce unlimited wealth on the one hand, and abject poverty on the other. A revolution that has endured centuries and continues to steam-roller forward through our own innocence-starved lives. But now, the concept of time-and-money has taken away far more than just our innocence: it has robbed us of our freedom, and, most especially, of our humanity.

In Bleak House, Skimpole has the airs of an artist: an amateur artist; a pure artist. Art, in its pure form, is always a gift – and we can see an association between the pure artist and innocence, because anyone who gives freely must be either innocent or mad. And yes, there is also an association between innocence, the simpleton, and madness. But art, as a gift, is the antithesis of capitalist ideology, because a gift is, in its essence, outside the economy and beyond the realms of time and money.

An authentically human system cannot ignore true art, and a truly human economy would have to understand the incompatibility between art (that which must be given) and the false-necessities created by the ubiquitous presence of money. A truly human economy, therefore, should be designed in a way that allows art to be created in a space beyond time and money, or, in other words, outside the money system itself.

 

PROPOSITION A:

The existence of art has to challenge the ubiquitous nature of the money system.

 

When Skimpole says: “… go after glory, holiness, commerce, trade, any object you prefer; only – let Harold Skimpole live!” in effect Dickens is saying that the capitalists can build society anyway they want. However, the world they are building stifles Skimpole, and if Skimpole is a symbol of the artist, then Dickens is saying that the time-and-money system is choking art.

But Skimpole is a survivor, who has still not been swallowed up by the System. Somehow he manages to maintain his autonomy, perhaps because “he still had claims too, which were the general business of the community and must not be slighted,” or because he is anti-materialistic himself: “I covet nothing”; or because: “I feel as if you ought to be grateful to me for giving you the opportunity of engaging the luxury of generosity. I know you like it … I may have come into the world expressly for the purpose of increasing your stock of happiness.” Forget your worldliness and play with me, he says, which is what any pure artist would say as well.

Art is the gift of escape, but it is also the gift of progress-through-creativity, and because of that it is not only a gift it is a fundamental feature of humanity whose essence is to become through a continual process of becoming. Only through art can humanity ever really conceive itself to be progressing freely. Art is an essential ingredient in any definition of freedom. And, as Skimpole asserts: “the base word money should never be breathed near it!”

Skimpole can only exist in the time-and-money system by being a charlatan, and as a charlatan he is unscrupulous at ensuring his survival. But Dickens is also blaming the system for Skimpole’s unscrupulousness. Skimpole has no choice, just as art or any artist has no choice. In order to survive in this world, everyone needs money, artist or not. Skimpole uses his charms to maintain his independence from the System, but the System is still there and he is still inside it. He is an impossible man, but in his absurdity resides something that the world that makes him absurd also needs: His creativity.

In the eyes of capitalism, Skimpole is a parasite, just as all artists are who cannot justify themselves in the world of the free market are parasites. But let us remember that some parasites achieve greatness as well: those who, doomed to be amateur nobodies in their poverty-stricken lives, became superstars after their death. A most poignant example is Van Gogh, whose work now brings in millions and yet he never sold a painting in his life. Likewise, Dostoevsky was a struggling unfortunate; as was Beckett.

Art in the civilised world now seems to be the heading the same way as the nomad. There is no space for the real artist in the free-money-market world. And, like any nomadic society, the artist will be forced to eventually conform to the system or perish.

Of course, the irony of this, is that art is one of the defining features in the identity of the civilised world against the barbarian. By reducing the artist to the level of the parasite, civilisation reveals a triumph of barbarism within its own walls. It has its pinacothecas and museums, but these only display its own hypocritical attitude toward the artist, who, like Skimpole, is only a parasite until proven otherwise.

An Eidetic Reduction of the Economy

Husserl5

1: PHENOMENOLOGY

In order to achieve proper and objective understandings of things, we need to disclose all the subjective or cultural presumptions we have about the particular thing being studied. This is one of the prime objectives of phenomenology, a branch of philosophy conceived by Edmund Husserl to be a scientific approach capable of achieving such a disclosure. Phenomenology for Husserl was a “presuppositionless” discipline, which he called “the science of all sciences.”[1]

In order to do this, Husserl proposed a method of investigation that would take the philosopher’s enquiry into the realm of pure essences, where an intuition of the eidos (Greek: “shape”) of a thing could be uncovered. The reduction was designed to reveal an essential structure of things, apart from all that is accidental to them. He called this approach eidetic reduction.[2] It is a transempirical process, and its methodology can be juxtaposed against the empirical sciences.

In eidetic sciences, the ultimate grounding act is not experience or experiment, but rather the seeing of essences.[3]

 

2: THE ECONOMY

The economy is a science. The economists themselves tell us so and they win Nobel Prizes for Economic Sciences. So, it must be a science. But it works more in an engineering fashion than in a descriptive way of unveiling facts. It is used to construct the Matrix that we are immersed in, it drives political policies, motivations and will, and it seems more like a doctrine than an investigation – but surely, science cannot be a doctrine; so, is it really a science?

If it were a pure science, the economy as science would necessarily have to preclude any incorporation of cognitional results yielded by an empirical understanding of the human experience of labour and exchange because people are never truly predictable. But this is absurd, the economy can never be separated from the human factor that drives it. In fact, the essence of the economy has to be people exchanging things, and yet there is a sense that this fact has been forgotten and the fundamental purpose of the economy is to control society via the economic matrix it builds around them. It has its weapons – debt, interest rates, risk premiums – all of which control national policies with all the subtle and non-subtle effectiveness of a dictatorship. Because of this economists call the economy a social science, although the laws of economy are not very scientific, and, we would argue, the goals of economics (for it is structured to serve a predetermined purpose) are not very social. Yet, if the economy is neither a science nor a social science, what is it? Didn’t we say at the beginning of this section that it was a science? What kind of science can be a science and not a science at the same time?

Well, let’s see what happens if we look at it from a philosophical viewpoint, in an eidetic way (albeit briefly).

Eidetically, the science of the economy can be understood as the eidetic science called economics – the market is observed, not by watching people going out and buying things, but according to a study of charts and figures applied to formulas with a hope of making some essential or eidetic prediction. The essence of the science of the economy lies in its own denomination. If the economy is to be studied it should be done economically. The only conclusions or predictions that can be made are those that have validity as an essential factor in essences originally seen or else inferred from the axiomatic model of itself by pure deduction. There is nothing matter-of-fact about economics. The fact that the predictions made by economists affect our daily lives does not make economics a matter-of-fact science any more than the 90º that is always in the right-angle at the end of the street makes geometry a matter-of-fact science.

According to Marshall’s Principle of Economics[4] the purpose of economics is, firstly, to acquire knowledge for its own sake, and, secondly, to throw light on practical issues. Yet for most of us today, the idea of the macro-economics narrative throwing light on practical issues and the day the day problems of having to make ends meet is laughable. From an ethical stand-point, Marshall was right. If we are to have an economic science it should be geared toward helping humanity by illuminating the practical issues that affect us all. However, Marshall’s 19th century view of economics viewed in the context our current global-economy environment sounds naïve. When national economic policies are determined by the IMF and the World Bank, our economies obfuscate reality rather than shed any light on it.

Positive economy-spin tells us that the aims are “sustainable growth” and “increasing wealth” or the establishing of “economic opportunities” for as many people as possible, but these ideas become quite abstract when applied to hundreds or thousands of millions of people, and economic data becomes a weapon of war between the sectors competing for political power; each one attempting to convince the people of the healthy or ill state of the economy … because the economy wins votes; probably more than any other factor in contemporary politics.

But what we do not learn from this economic-science is what the final-cause of a global economy is. What is the final-cause of continual, sustainable growth? What is the final-cause of increasing wealth? What is the final-cause of “economic opportunities for all”?

In reality, the final-cause is always the next election, just as in sport the final cause is this year’s grand-final. The economy is, through our so-called democratic system, twisted into a game. Or, economics turns democracy into a game, albeit a perverse game that is rigged so that the same owner always wins. While on the national level the people are praying to see their team (national economy) win the championship, on the universal, human level, the real economic engineers are busy building the great economic network, a huge, invisible mesh which has entrapped us all.

What can be the final-cause then of that global matrix: Perpetual acquisition of increasing wealth for the world’s elite; An aristocratic-type dictatorship hidden behind a veil of promises of economic opportunities for all? In any case, the final-cause is conservative and non-progressive, because its main intention is to preserve the status-quo of Wealth. In that sense, it is aristocratic. It is bolstered by the great lie of democracy that it itself created and uses to perpetuate itself with. It knows that democracy is only a name and a superficial fantasy to thwart the revolutions that the real plutocratic system that exists would engender if the demos were fully aware of its condition.

[1] From the New World Encyclopaedia online: Eidetic Reduction https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Eidetic_reduction

[2] Ibid

[3] Edmund Husserl, IDEAS, p. 16

[4] Albert Marshall, PRINCIPLE OF ECONOMICS, 1890

Money and Civilisation

Great-Pyramid-Giza

Money was created for a very practical purpose: to simplify rituals of exchange and create a tool that can be used to fairly measure all acquisitions.

What began as being a utensil, however, very quickly turned into a monster that seems to hammer at us even before we have any real exchanges to make. Instead of being a tool, it is now an obligation or an addiction. We are possessed by it. No one any longer questions its necessity. Its rule over us is dogmatic; its kingdom is ubiquitous. If God exists it is probably in the form of money. We worship it, have complete faith in it, and hardly ever take its name in vain.

We could say that money is the key factor in creating our feeling of alienation from the world because it is draped like a veil over reality. Between us and the world, therefore, there exists a thin transparent veneer, acting as a kind of barrier, telling us that the only way to get proper access to what we want has to involve the magic of money.

But this alienation is not completely the fault of money: even before the invention of coins, magical veils had already been draped over the world to ensure that certain exchanges brought great profit and power to some at the expense of others. It is always a sobering idea to remind ourselves that the great pyramids were built on an exchange of beer and bread. The first civilisations were erected before the invention of coins, but once it had been created, money became an integral feature of all that civilisation now represents.

Civilisation itself is one enormous paradox: it contains humanity’s greatest idealisation of reality – through art and technology – and seems to be the only vehicle possible through which the spirit of human progress can be driven. However, it is the weapon with which all power-led ideologies are able to wield their control; it is the chopping block of all anti-human segregations, and the vocal piece for all anti-progressive dogmas. In a sense, Civilisation contains the greatest of all possibilities for humanity, while at the same time it produces each of our most frustrating disappointments.

Civilisation today is a vast global market that is consuming resources at such a rate that our unsustainable model of existence threatens to destroy itself. Of course, this means that a new model for civilisation becomes imperative, but can such a revolution take place before the monster that the System has become devours its own tail?

We think the answer lies in a rehabilitation of Civilisation from the addiction it has to money, in order to allow the global empire to feed the humanity it supports rather than the all-consuming demands of the drug that surges through its blood-stream. Of course, this is perhaps the most radical, seemingly impossible solution imaginable: how can we kick the habit of a drug when we are all addicted to it, even the doctors?

Yet, impossible as it seems, until we decide to get clean there will never be any hope for civilisation or humanity. This is the real pessimistic stand-point afflicting humanity today.

Growth, Necessity and Judgement

unsustainable-growth-of-water-scarcity

The capitalist system needs an accelerated rhythm of growth to function, but that pace is unsustainable for a healthy planet. Fully aware of this dichotomy, the same system creates the terms: sustainable growth and ecological sustainability. The basic idea contained in both concepts is that capitalism’s requirement for infinite growth can be achieved through the concept of sustainability, i.e., the exploitation still goes on, but in a way that doesn’t completely exhaust the resources without first allowing nature to replenish those reserves.

Herman E. Daly, when he was Senior Economist of the Environment at the World Bank, spelled this out quite clearly: “sustainable growth is impossible,”[1] he asserted. But to palliate the effects of this anti-capitalist statement, the senior ecological economist of the system offered a semantical alternative that differentiated between the concepts of growth and development: “when something grows it gets bigger. When something develops it gets different.”[2] The ecosystem develops rather than grows. Daly therefore coined the term sustainable development as an alternative to sustainable growth, insisting at the same time that it must be understood as “development without growth.”[3]

Daly’s idea was presented in 1993 and it caught on: or at least his terms captured the imaginations of the politicians who love to be given new altruistic terms to bandy about, but they have taken little no interest in what Daly meant by that change in terms. Now sustainable development is used as a synonym of sustainable growth rather than an alternative to it, as no one at administration levels in the developed world seem to be challenging the virtues of growth itself. It is impossible for capitalism to relinquish the idea of growth, for that would mean betraying the fundamentals of its own ideology, but calling it development doesn’t make the problems of growth go away.

However, what is clear when we contemplate Daly’s paper, more than 25 years after he submitted it, is that capitalism has had a profound need for legitimising growth, and it has been absolutely aware of the inherent absurdity buried within its own ideology for decades.

Growth is impossible and absurd, and that means capitalism is impossible and absurd. Growth is profoundly dangerous, and that means that capitalism is profoundly dangerous.

The capitalist argument pitches nature as an enemy of freedom, and this is obviously another false premise of its ideology. Freedom for the capitalist of course, means freedom to accumulate wealth. For the poverty-stricken, working but anti-socialist classes who support the freedom ideal of capitalism, the growth-freedom idea offers them the illusion of being able to get to the top of the pile themselves. In fact, an economics of un-growth has far more chance of closing the vast gap between rich and poor and hence create a feeling of empowering the poorer classes. An empowering that would itself engender a greater sensation of freedom.

The principle of the goodness and necessity of economic growth is not a valid one. All necessity rests on the eradication of all ideologies of growth. We cannot afford to keep toying with the capricious whims of those who have engendered and who perpetuate the capitalist lie. It must be judged in a fair trial, and a verdict must be reached.

Of course, the case is so strong against the unsustainability of growth that its advocates will feel that a fair trial is impossible, but that is no reason not to pounce on the assassin who is holding the smoking gun. Did I say pounce on them? Well, in this case the murderer owns the police force and the press, so: who will make the arrest? That is our real dilemma.

[1] See the article SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: AN IMPOSSIBLITY THEORUM by Herman E. Daley http://dieoff.org/page37.htm

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

Productivity and War

Tanks3Final.jpg.CROP_.original-original

Should we be more, or less productive? The laws of the global market insist on the former: excess is a virtue, or at least while excess amounts to the excess of profit. To be rich and powerful, one needs to get money; and to obtain money, one needs to sell things; and in order to sell things, one needs to make things to be sold; and those things should be commodities with a short life-span so that that there will always be a need to purchase new things allowing the money to keep flowing in.

Now, according to this economic philosophy, we should have a productive and innovative society that is continually producing new commodities or improving on old ones. Capitalism produces a marvelous circuit of creativity dedicated to satisfying the needs of the hungry consumer.

However, there is an essential flaw in this philosophy. In order for it to work, consumer needs are not enough: the system must be fueled through consumer-desires, which can only be systemically positive enough if they are turned into needs. But then, this is not enough to keep the system spinning either. Something else is needed to keep the momentum going and the excess turning into wealth and power. To maintain a constant progress, every now and again everything has to be pulled down so that there is room to build anew in. And what is a better way of pulling things down than blowing them up. Natural disasters are good for the consumer economy, but, despite the increment of natural weather-anomaly disasters, these phenomena are still too infrequent and too random to be an assurance.

Yet, there is something we can always depend on in moments of the deepest decadence of the capitalist-consumer system: war.

War is something that can be manufactured; something that can be pulled out of the hat as a last resort whenever growth becomes lethargic, and guarantee the system’s self-perpetuating motion. In fact, war is a very part of that system: a tried and true methodology for injecting momentum into the machine. Wealth and power have been using war to sustain itself for the last eight thousand years. In a sense, technology has always been subordinated to military needs and great advances have been made when the empire of the state has pumped huge amounts of man-hours and money into military research.

But to see this fact as justification for the military and, subsequently, as a justification for war, is the most cynical of positions. The production and selling of arms (whether of mass or minor destruction) and the use of those weapons as profit-making internecine tools of thymotic rage has led us to the gates of the Apocalypse and the eternal damnation of a complete nihilistic destruction of life on Earth.

The inherent absurdities in the capitalist-consumer philosophy of perpetual growth have necessitated the production of its own class of clowns to perpetuate itself. Their justifications for prolonging the destruction have become infantile-ego wailings, in adolescent-will societies, driven by demands for what the clowns want and by the fact that they all want to have those wants now despite the consequences, because they deny the existence of any consequences. To get what they want, the clowns know they have to be tough, but they can buy protection, and they can rig the system to perpetuate their power and strength. The promises this circus makes for humanity, of course, are not comforting at all, but the clowns also feed on the fear they themselves produce in order to stabilize their grasp on power. And while the tough clowns flex their muscles, the weapons of mass-destruction sit comfortably in their silos, waiting to be unleashed in the greatest destructive act the world has ever seen. But this time, surely, it will be the final curtain.

mushroom_cloud_clown_by_loxsox-d4ihgi9

WHAT DO WE TAKE? … C) from Marx

KarlMarx

FROM MARX:

We get the idea that capitalism is concealment: hiding its exploitation well.

It conceals through seduction: the enamoured victim of the seducer is always blind to the depths of the one-sidedness of their relationship.

“… things do not always immediately appear as they are. The divorce between reality and the way it appears is a central aspect of Marx’s dialectical thought.”[i]

What we learn from Marx is the need to be critical and vigilant of appearances. In fact, it is precisely when everything looks quite rosy that we must be especially on our guard.

Marx argued that in communist societies technological development would seek to eliminate repetitive, physically demanding, unsafe and unhealthy tasks; reduce overall labour time, satisfy basic needs and develop human potential.[ii] The failure of communism is usually estimated by its inability to achieve, or even successfully approach the achievement of these goals.

However, in assessing this failure, it is also true that the communist states were set up at times when technologies were not advanced enough to make this forward-moving cultural-leap possible. Very many of the technologies capable of transforming our lives were developed in the capitalist, not the communist world, and the great spike in technological development that we are experiencing now came after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a sense, it could be affirmed that communism arose as a political alternative before its time. Ironically, the application of Marx’s Utopian dream is far easier to envisage now. Whilst, a development of our current AI and robotics technologies offers an alternative to human labour that could give us the means to nurture our potential, the pressing needs for systemic change that are demanded by the ecological crisis give us a sound reason for wanting to make such a revolutionary change as well.

One of the goals of all human societies, if they are truly human, should be to get humans out of the psychologically and physically tedious work spaces, and into environments where human potential can be focussed on tasks related to the full development of our human, homo sapiens, potentials. Technology is now our greatest hope, and the more utopian are our hopes for the technological world, the better. Nevertheless, it is also true, and it should always be uppermost in any technological thrust forward, that a Utopia will only ever be built once research and the production of new technologies are liberated from the profit-making obligations of the market place. (Capitalism + Technology = Dystopia) is the true equation behind the façade of the current System, but it is this same monstrous equation that has to be avoided at all costs.

One of the ways to achieve the liberation from tedious, repetitive work that offers no spiritual reward for the labourer, would lie through a complete automation of production – a process which is taking place, but which is unpopular because it produces unemployment, which produces, in our capitalist-monetary system, misery and poverty. What this implies, therefore, is another Marxist or neo-Marxist goal: the deconstruction of the idea of unemployment allowing for a conception of society to be formed in which being without a wage-earning occupation never has to be a problem.

[i] From Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad, MARX’S CAPITAL, Routledge, p.4

 

[ii] Ibid, p.8

THE POSITIVE DOOR OPENED BY THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

climate_change

The latest report from the ICC warns that a climate catastrophe will likely happen only twenty-two years from now unless drastic systemic action is not taken[i]. Of course, there is nothing positive about this emerging scenario, if we let it unfold it will be an absolute tragedy for humanity. Nevertheless, the ugly prediction itself does carry a positive mask, because it also comes with an emphatic cry to remodel our relationship with the world and with the technologies we created to improve our relationship with the world.

This last point is very important: the technologies we are using that are proving so harmful to the ecosystem, are technologies that were created to make the world a more comfortable place to live in. The planet goes dark at night, so we have technologies that give us light; the winters are cold, so we have technologies that keep us warm; the summers are too hot, but technology can make a space cool; there are huge distances between places, but we have technologies that can move us around quite quickly.

So, if the basic purpose of technology is to make the world a more comfortable place to live in, it is an absurdity to keep using technologies that are incrementing those same uncomfortable factors that they are supposed to be mitigating.

Here we have, what we call, the technology-world paradox. What we created to make us more comfortable is aggravating the discomfort.

Capitalism naturally defends this paradoxical relationship, because it is a perfect cycle for making money. The rising mercury in the thermometers will necessitate more air-conditioning, which makes it hotter, which will further boost the sales of air-conditioners. But not just that, an increase in natural disasters will also create an increase in the economy of reconstruction. Capitalism knows that in every catastrophe there is a potential fortune to be made. Of course, this is a perverse and ultimately internecine game.

Until now, our technology has been created without taking this absurd condition into consideration. However, what should change as the unfolding catastrophe gets closer, is precisely the political attitudes towards this paradoxical relationship. The logical (and anti-capitalist) position that is becoming more and more obvious, is that technology, the purpose of which is to make our lives more comfortable, cannot be allowed if it exacerbates the discomfort levels created by the natural environment. Technology must become clean.

For many of us, perhaps for most of you reading this article, this is an obvious statement; but we also know that capitalism is being stubborn with its propagation of dirty, fossil-fuel technologies, and it seems to want to exploit every single last drop of oil and the last crumb of coal that we have on the planet. For the old capitalism, all this oil and dirt is a marvellous source of free money for those who have created the infrastructures for exploiting it, and those exploiters don’t want to surrender the lovely privileges they have forged for themselves.

Yes, we know we now have the clean technologies to replace the dirty ones, but the catastrophe scenario only worsens, and that is because there is a complete lack of will in the capitalist wealth-system that we are immersed in to make that change.

The fundamental question facing us today, is not how we can change the technology, but how can we make those who control the current bad technologies change.

Currently, are global economy is driven by two kinds of ideologies which have the same liberal basis. On the one hand there is the neo-liberal ideology which opens the door to capitalist desires and promotes the prolongation of dirty technologies, and on the other hand, there is a social-liberalism that wants to put state funding investment into renewable-energy technologies to fill the lack coming from the private sector. As such, an avoidance of the ecological catastrophe depends on the triumph of the latter. And yet, as we get closer and closer to the fatidic date, now 2040, the success of the positive option seems to be growing less rather than more likely of coming about.

Yes, this ideological failure to make a common-sense change is very concerning. So, where is that door we claim to see beginning to open onto a positive scenario?

The positive door is actually created by the growing obviousness of the ineffectiveness of liberalism (i.e. capitalism) to mitigate, let alone resolve, the crisis.

This inability of the system to save itself, opens the door to a radical redrawing of the economy. Instead of financing the transition to clean technology, the real solution will have to come through making the need to finance that change-over irrelevant.

In order to make technologies that will make the world a more comfortable place without making the same world more uncomfortable, we need to pull the spanner out of the works – and that spanner is capitalism.

Until we recognise this, the struggle to save the planet is ultimately a futile one.

Our current hope depends on social democracies gaining enough power to take positive steps forward. Nevertheless, our democratic cycles indicate that those steps will eventually be removed by the arrival of neo-liberal, nationalist governments that will replace them. In other words, if the future of the planet depends on the whims of the voters who are manipulated by Wealth-as power through the media to decide according to short-term political and economic concerns rather than long-term progress, we are doomed. If we call the neo-liberal democracy -A and the social-democracy path +A, we get an equation of -A +A = 0.

What we see through the new door that is opening, however, is the need for a complete overhaul of our capitalist system, and a complete change of perspective on what our money is used for. Not a Marxist redistribution of wealth, but a redefinition of Wealth itself; unchaining wealth from the idea of accumulation of money and/or goods and anchoring it to the idea of human fulfilment. This simple idea revolutionises the concept of labour goals and the purposes of the entire economy. Making money is suddenly not the do-all and end-all, and when and where money is an impediment to fulfilment it should be phased out or restructured.

What this door offers is a new perspective that we can call B. The equation thus boils down to A against B – and the struggle is clearer. B knows who its enemy is. It is not confused like +A which doesn’t realise that a large part of its ineffectiveness lies in its own condition as A. B, on the other hand, is unambiguous. It knows where the root of the problem lies.

Of course, it doesn’t make the struggle any easier, but it does make it clearer.

[i] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report

REALITY AND COHERENCE

macroeconomic-therory

“The world of everyday life is not only taken for granted as reality by the ordinary members of society in the subjectively meaningful conduct of their lives. It is a world that originates in their thoughts and actions, and is maintained as real by these.”

(Peter L. Burger and Thomas Luckmann,

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY)

 

For reality to exist for someone, the world has to be perceived as a coherent place. Once coherence is lost, reality itself breaks down and madness sets in. But this doesn’t mean that the coherence we perceive is real.

In fact, it may be quite the opposite: a coherence constructed out of a pattern which we are told exists but doesn’t at all. One such fantasy is the economy.

The economy seems coherent, although we hardly understand it. Its coherency comes from the fact that we are constantly told about it; about its behaviour and about what our governments and bankers do to keep it running smoothly or drive it out of crises. We know that when things go wrong with the economy it will affect our lives and condition our own behaviour psychologically and materially.

Our civilisation is obsessed with the economy, so: How can it not be coherent? How can it not be real?

And yet: it is only coherent while we believe it to be. In actual fact, it is very similar to any religion – its coherence depends on the faith of its followers. The economy has a wide collective following, but once the collective starts to doubt its coherence the aura of reality around it quickly starts to fade and its coherence becomes cracked and wobbly.

The greatest barrier against progress is not a fear of change so much as a fear that the reality we believe we are immersed in will be rendered incoherent. That is the fear we need to overcome; because the truth is, it already is and always has been essentially incoherent.

SOCIAL FREEDOM AS A FEASIBLE CONCERN

robot-vaisselle

Human societies are created around human activity and the requirements that come from the organization of that activity. Freedom, in a social sense, has to be defined by the freedom of choice that an individual has in deciding which activity he or she wants to pursue. A freedom-promoting society would, therefore, be constructed in a way that allows each person to pursue the activities they feel are the most suited to them.

Traditionally this idea of society is absurd: because the society itself has its own needs that must be met in order for the same society to function, and, as such, it requires a certain amount of its members to engage in tasks that would be of no interest to them. To compensate for this denial of freedom wages were introduced. In this way, wage-labour can be defined as a compensation for slavery.

Nevertheless, with the development of technology and especially robotics and manufacturing using 3D copiers, the idea of a social freedom can once again be imagined as a feasible thing. The implementation of automation should be seen as a process of liberating salary-compensated slaves in order to liberate their creative, sapiens potentials.

At the same time, the economy has to be adjusted that would guarantee the well-being of each member of society. The most logical evolution would be toward a non-monetary society, but before this revolutionary transition can be achieved, a universal basic-income is the most progressive economic idea. An explanation of UBI and some historical background can be found here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income .

If it is feasible, the promotion of social freedom through the development of technology should be seen as a goal for society and a part of political parties’ programmes.

Organisation: A Human Obsession

Capitalism1

Human beings are obsessed by the way we are organised. We are obsessed by the family, the state, our religions; we live in a gossip loving, envious society that above all loves money … All these factors exert strong organisational fields over our lives. But while it is relatively simple, for some, to stop flag-waving and escape from the grip of their local church, or stop watching reality shows and disappear from their family radar, it seems impossible to remove ourselves from the gravitational force of money.

Money is the perfect form of organisation, itself perfected by the control methodologies implemented through the organisation of the great organiser – the economy.

We are a social-animal species. We are born vulnerable and dependent on those who can nourish and protect us. Until, in theory, we leave the nest, but the independence we imagine we gain in our maturity is a myth that is never truly obtained, because we never free ourselves from the obsession we have with that which is always organising us; an obsession which leads to blind faith, and that is the worst loss of freedom. The way we are organised is the way things are: we sense that; we implicitly believe it; but does that mean that we cannot change it? Is the way things are, the way things have to be?

Despite our obsession with organisation, we also need to believe in the anti-organisation concept of freedom. Most Westerners cringe at the idea of loss of freedom. Freedom is a symbol that all human beings should aspire to. But why? If we are so obsessed with organising our lives according to the way things are, and freedom represents that which is not the way things are, why do we place so much importance on this anti-organisation concept.

Certainly, if one lives under the singular-will organisation of a dictatorship, one can dream of the liberating effects that an organisation like the one we call democracy offers. But what happens when you discover that the free world of liberal democracies doesn’t actually offer you real freedom at all? Where does one go from there? Must we surrender to blind faith, and console ourselves with the absurd, illogical belief that the organisation that controls us actually allows us to be independent and free?

The real problem lies in the fact that we never truly organise ourselves: our lives are always organised for us; within a paradigm built in order to organise most of us in a way that allows us to be exploited for its own purposes. No matter how free we think we are in this world of unlimited possibilities, for the vast majority of us, our relationship is a submissive one, determined by the power that organises us. And yet, do you ever ask yourself why we are organised in this way; or how this organisation came to be taken for granted in the first place?

True, we are a social-animal and freedom from organisation is impossible. Nevertheless, it is possible to break free and escape the nest, just as some of us really do break free from the organisation of the family. Organisation can work for everyone, in a way that allows each one of us the power to develop our talents to the fullest. We don’t have to be organised and moulded according to the will of that seemingly random, abstract force we call the economy. Yet, for a liberating organisational force to be possible, we first have to deeply question the reasons why we have been organised in this anti-liberating way in the first place. In order to see the way out, we first have to understand why we really do need to escape.