Archive for the ‘state and society’ Category

when I was still in college I was asked to prepare a short presentation which would bundle up together few political ideas and thus justify my final mark for the module in politics. not having much time and being in a rather random mood I spent half an hour putting together few slides and writing up a short description about how globalisation and internet could become capitalist final frontier and bring with a twist ultimate socialism.

admittedly my presentation was primarily guided by my random mood, sci-fi novels and intention to annoy my tutor who held strong Marxist views and with whom I used to pick constant arguments during my course; but apparently it satisfied internal and external moderators.

here’s what I wrote:

“(…) The inventions of XX century, which are regarded as significant factors of this revolution, did not merely revolutionise the way in which people communicate by making this communication much easier, but transformed the very idea of information itself. Due to the great expansion of media during the XX century and overwhelming power held by medial corporations, the ideas like truth or value became almost meaningless hollow concepts without any links to reality. Moreover, reality itself started to appear more and more “unreal”, making both these terms almost redundant. These profound transformations reached its critical mass during the last decade of XX century when they become especially transparent. The rise of what we know as the Internet means that the information ceased to be detached from its maker. For the Internet is not merely a database, a digital library or a catalogue of information but IT IS the information; uploaded as well as downloaded by its users; created and edited by them. As earlier the information could be produced; it could travel and could be given, with the Internet this is no longer the case, for now the information is alive; THE INFORMATION IS US.

The Internet is the interaction between individuals; it is the collaboration in every area of human existence. It creates opportunities on unprecedented scale, accelerating technological development even further and making capitalism no longer the main drive to improvement. On more philosophical level the information society marks a significant step towards social singularity where THE MANY are THE ONE. The individual, together with his rights and freedoms that are dated back to John Lock and other liberal thinkers cease to have meaning. But the same happens to his property and in effect contrary to Marxists’ mythology depicting capitalism as bloodthirsty beast which has to be overthrown, in information society capitalism loses its purpose and as a simple waste of energy will eventually fade away.”

now, fast forward couple of years and here I am laughing at evaluation of recent financial crisis from Marxist perspective when i stumbled upon a video that brought back memories of my silly presentation announcing birth of ultimate socialism.
well not exactly, but still i would like to think it was a close match:

i believe that the video posted below should please many of those who for reasons that i cannot comprehend seem to be highly critical and dissatisfied with political, economic and social structures of modern capitalist societies and dream of revolutions which could bring some new order.

as for myself, i have very little enthusiasm for agitating radical reorganisation of present social, political or economic structures; what initially drew my attention to this video was the form in which social theorist David Harvey tried to convince the viewers to look beyond capitalism towards some new social order. the video is said to be based on lecture at the RSA (www.theRSA.org).

without going into details i will only say that watching this truly enjoyable video brought to my mind one particularly sarcastic evaluation of harriet harman mastery over economics and finances published some time ago by the spectator:

“Finance gets Hattie in a terrible twist. She sounds like a four-year-old explaining space travel to a pretend friend. Jargon and overheard half-concepts are mashed together in a confidently asserted jumble of bilge.”

one does not need a Ph.D. in economics to see that similar critique could be directed at David Harvey and his evaluation of capitalism as a root of all social ills. in any case, regardless of it’s shortcomings Harvey’s brilliant presentation does have some positive value for it revels moralistic and totalitarian character of Marxist critiques of free market principles. this notion is very strongly pronounced in the last few minutes of the video when author makes number of judgemental, moralistic and highly controversial statements in relation to wealth which could be accumulated by some individuals in a free market economies. these envious and highly negative statements are followed by a picture of a man in black suit locked up behind the bars which closes Harvey ‘s argument!

one might wonder whether this could be seen as appropriate way to ensure that we live within a system that is “responsible, just, and humane?”

i have some reservations about this

update [18 Jul 2010 23:13]:

and I guess I am not the only one. here’s more detailed critique of harvey’s marxian argument:

I don’t think everything is so clear cut but overall thumbs up.

the text below was copied from Sickipedia for iPhone where it was posted by Barty93. i don’t know who is the original author but i assume it’s Barty93 and i hope he doesn’t mind me re-posting it here. the text is hilarious so i decided to paste it in its entirety. it also goes nicely with my recent mood for rants on “broken society thing”, so here goes:

“THIS IS LABOUR GOVERNMENT REST OF THE WORLD VERSION:

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

THE END

————————————————————————

LABOUR GOVERNMENT THE UK VERSION:

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. A social worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving. The BBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper; with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food. The British press inform people that they should be ashamed that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so, while others have plenty. The Labour Party, Greenpeace, Animal Rights and The Grasshopper Council of GB demonstrate in front of the squirrel’s house. The BBC, interrupting a cultural festival special from Notting Hill with breaking news, broadcasts a multi-cultural choir singing ‘We shall overcome’. Ken Livingstone rants in an interview with Trevor McDonald that the squirrel got rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay his ‘fair share’ and increases the charge for squirrels to enter inner London . In response to pressure from the media, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper anti Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The squirrel’s taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as builders for the work he was doing on his home and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to work. The grasshopper is provided with a council house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can be socially mobile. The squirrel’s food is seized and re distributed to the more needy members of society, in this case the grasshopper. Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize and start building a new home. The local authority takes over his old home and utilises it as a temporary home for asylum seeking cats who had hijacked a plane to get to Britain as they had to share their country of origin with mice. On arrival they tried to blow up the airport because of Britain ‘s apparent love of dogs. The cats had been arrested for the international offence of hijacking and attempted bombing but were immediately released because the police fed them pilchards instead of salmon whilst in custody. Initial moves to return them to their own country were abandoned, because it was feared they would face death by the mice. The cats devise and start a scam to obtain money from people’s credit cards. A Panorama special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrel’s food, though spring is still months away, while the council house he is in, crumbles around him because he hasn’t bothered to maintain the house. He is shown to be taking drugs. Inadequate government funding is blamed for the grasshoppers’ drug ‘illness’. The cats seek recompense in the British courts for their treatment since arrival in UK . The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the care of the probation service to monitor and supervise him.. Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery. A commission of enquiry, that will eventually cost £10,000,000 and state the obvious, is set up. Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers and legal aid for lawyers representing asylum seekers is increased. The government praises the asylum-seeking cats for enriching Britain ‘s multicultural diversity, and dogs are criticised by the government for failing to befriend the cats. The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose. The usual sections of the press blame it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience of prison. They call for the resignation of a government minister. The cats are paid a million pounds each because their rights were infringed when the government failed to inform them there were mice in the United Kingdom . The squirrel, the dogs and the victims of the hijacking, the bombing, the burglaries and robberies have to pay an additional percentage on their credit cards to cover losses. Their taxes are increased to pay for law and order, and they are told that they will have to work beyond 65 because of a shortfall in government funds.

THE END”