Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

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Merrick
Merrick
2148 posts

Edited May 22, 2009, 16:27
Re: I'm sorry
May 22, 2009, 16:23
Ian, first up let me thank you for a really interesting wander round the deep nuts and bolts of political thinking.

IanB wrote:
when people like yourself spend a lot of time writing eloquently about their political vision on this forum then I am interested in where that person stands on the use of violence to achieve political aims. That is what got me thinking about the what and the how. So I am glad you specifically use the word peaceful.


Where did I use the word peaceful?

I'm really not sure what it means. When activists blockade a workplace, the predictable and common consequence is that people get really angry. If you occupy their office they can get really genuinely scared. It doesn't matter that the activists know they're not violent, those people feel invaded, violated, frightened. Is that really peaceful?

And we know that Loyalists marching through Catholic areas or the 1970s NF marches through multiracial areas were 'peaceful', but clearly they are intimidatory. Indeed, much 'peaceful' direct action is intimidation of one sort or another.

But if we maintain our definition of 'peaceful' as being only those things that cannot offend, intimidate or distress anyone, what are we left with? Certainly not the feted 'peaceful' direct action of MLK's civil rights sit-ins.

It's notable that the same kind of action can be called 'peaceful' if the speaker approves of it and 'violent' if they don't. Anything that involves damage to property is easily described both ways.

As I just said over on the 'I'm Sorry' thread, I don't see a clear demarcation between words, intimidation, threats and violence. The overlap zones are huge. Additionally, as Gloria Steinam said, from pacifist to terrorist, everyone will tell you they're against violence but for their list of cherished exceptions.

IanB wrote:
We also agree on sustainability but the issue of throw-away consumerism is problematic because any definitions of "tat" and "happy" as generalities are going to be purely subjective.


I'm not so much aiming at a list of proscribed items (although I would readily ban Supertramp today and make all who own their albums forfeit their ears). What I mean is that the materialist dream *makes* us miserable.

We're told that there's an emptiness inside. This is encouraged by images of happy people like we want to be. 'They're like you want to be cos they use our product' says the advert. So we buy the product, find we're not happy, and that let-down makes us even more miserable than we were before.

'Feeling let down by the emptiness of your life? Buy this product and you won't' says the next advert. So you buy it and, lo, it doesn't work.

The corporate interests pour untold billions into divining our deepest desires and promising they'll be fulfilled if we buy Viennetta, or finding out our deepest fears and saying they'll happen unless we buy Daz.

And we all think we're savvy and immune to advertising, when of course none of us are.

This is a major thrust of modern life, whose sole purpose is to keep us miserable in order to get our money. Is that not as evil as it comes?

They need us to stay unsure of ourselves and politically docile so we're susceptible to marketing and so we're predictable enough to base business forecasts on.

The same corporations that want us to be punctual and efficient workers want us to be profligate excessive consumers. Often, our job at one is about encouraging people to be the other!

The profit motive as paramount means all other considerations are secondary. This is not only a break with how people act and feel, but it is utterly suicidal.

As Corporate Watch put it

"For most people, economic values are secondary, and social and to a lesser extent environmental values come first: making money is good but only if it doesn’t conflict with believing it’s wrong to murder, steal or cut down virgin rainforest.

"For the corporate ‘environmentalist’, profit is absolute, social and environmental values are relative: their first aim is to make as much money as possible, but given two ways to make that money they choose the one that requires the least murder, blatant theft or environmental destruction. Then they pat themselves on the back for being so responsible."

BP, Gap, Sony, they're not oil, clothes or electronics companies. They are profit companies and oil, clothes and electronics are the raw materials from which they make their profit.

The profit motive as the purpose of a corporation - as it is legally compelled to be - says that if a cost can be passed on then it must be passed on. Dump the waste elsewhere, make things that break, land future generations with the clean-up. It means minimising wages so maximising sweatshops. It means selling as much as you can, thereby encouraging the maximum consumption of resources that you can.

IanB wrote:
The profit motive point is where we diverge slightly.


I'm not so sure we do. I think we need to distinguish between 'personal benefit' and 'financial - especially corporate - profit'.

IanB wrote:
I have yet to be convinced that there is a better motivator in peace time as a catalyst for human endeavor than profit. Or at least the carrot of material improvement produced by the allocation of a surplus in disposable income.

By "material" I would also include state supplied services, care for the environmental, a sense of tribal security, a sense of holding a justifiable position in society and a sense that one's children will inherit a safer, more just and more enlightened world than the one we were born into.


The things you define as 'material' are many of the things I said were what the profit motive blinds us to. Having the need to maximise corporate profit as the most powerful force in our society is precisely what removes proper state service, assaults the environment, fosters insecurity and widens inequality and injustice.

IanB wrote:
I am not sure about your idea that wealth leads to increased mental health problems.


It's a thought I fist saw written in a Nuffield Foundation report that said

"What is striking is that, in a counter-intuitive way, rises in mental health problems seem to be associated with improvements in economic conditions".

And it really rings true. The Greeks could invent all that philosophy and make themselves miserable because they had ten slaves apiece doing all the work. Meet our needs and we're happy. Meet them to excess ongoing and we'll invent ways to make ourselves miserable.

That thought suddenly made me understand the previously incomprehensible nostalgia old people had for the second world war seeing their cities bombed. They'd all pulled together, they had a sense of purpose (and a common enemy). The privations were a bonding feature for them, weirdly enough.

Though I do take your point:

IanB wrote:
it is possible that the wealthy are simply more likely to have their illness registered.


It's always important when we see any talk of a rise in any social phenomenon. Today's child abuse figures look terrifying compared to 50 years ago because people report it now.

IanB wrote:
It's all too much, too big. Which brings me back to the importance of local action driven by a veneer of self-interest.


I think you're right for the reasons you give, but also it's something about the nature of effective change. Simply taking over the state Bolshevik style doesn't solve the fundamental problem of concentrations of power.

If we instead develop systems sort of parallel to the ones we live under then we render the state's power irrelevant.

Furthermore, when people see with their own eyes that there *are* better ways then they stop putting up with the crap. This also means that we can start here and now instead of waiting for some judgement day style future revolution. The revolution begins when you realise that hundreds of your actions are political and you can choose differently.
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