coromandal


What other goals, principles satisfactions?
October 21, 2016, 4:42 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

Image result for office workers magnum photographs

Photo: Lise Sarfati

Modern people are commodities; disconnected from self, others and nature; their virtual only focus is exchange of personhood with other persons on the market. Life is subsumed in these market processes: packaging and moving personhood as a product, negotiating exchanges and consuming.

What of life, real life? What other goals, principles satisfactions?

Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men and from nature. His main aim is profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his “personality package” with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume.

Erich Fromm

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to get by or to thrive
April 12, 2014, 2:38 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , ,

There are three kinds of people in a world set up for only two kinds: money people, service people and artistic people in a money and service world. No provisions are made nor needs required for the artistic in this world so if you’re artistic you are in a real limbo. But mere work and mere survival shouldn’t be enough; meaning counts a lot and artists contribute meaning. The choice is ours, to get by or to thrive.

From an article by Garry Gutting:

This talk of “a subject they love” brings us to the real crisis, which is both economic and cultural (or even moral). The point of work should not be just to provide the material goods we need to survive. Since work typically takes the largest part of our time, it should also be an important part of what gives our life meaning. Our economic system works well for those who find meaning in economic competition and the material rewards it brings. To a lesser but still significant extent, our system provides meaningful work in service professions (like health and social work) for those fulfilled by helping people in great need. But for those with humanistic and artistic life interests, our economic system has almost nothing to offer.

The Real Humanities Crisis, By GARY GUTTING

 

 

 



contemplating the order of things

There is life and good life. ‘Life’ is infrastructural and sustaining (concerned with labour and reproduction); and ‘good life’ is flourishing – the pursuit of justice, the common good, political and moral order. Good life needs life to support it, but to merely live life and to fail to make life good is … not human, says Aristotle via Charles Taylor below.

But consider now the balance or lack thereof of what we think and talk about in our world today. Infrastructural ‘life’ talk and energy (labour and reproduction) nearly eclipses ‘good life’ discourse. The economy, your job, family dominate while … well, when is the last time you heard anyone bring up the common good? Are we living sub human lives?

Some Aristotle via Charles Taylor:

‘Ordinary life’ is a term of art I introduce to designate those aspects of human life concerned with production and reproduction, that is, labour, the making of the things needed for life, and our life as sexual beings, including marriage and the family. When Aristotle spoke of the ends of political association being “life and the good life” (zen kai euzen), this was the range of things he wanted to encompass in the first of these terms; basically they englobe what we need to do to continue and renew life.

For Aristotle the maintenance of these activities was to be distinguished from the pursuit of the good life. They are, of course, necessary to the good life, but they play an infrastructural role in relation to it. You can’t pursue the good life without pursuing life. But an existence dedicated to this latter goal alone is not a fully human one…. The proper life for humans builds on this infrastructure a series of activities which are concerned with the good life: men deliberate about moral excellence, they contemplate the order of things; of supreme importance for politics, they deliberate together about the common good, and decide how to shape and apply the laws.

Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self, pp. 211-12, from Andrew Taggart blog post Sustaining Life is not the Good Life



from being to having to appearing

Here is the slippery slope states of being brought upon homo economicus – the economic man. From I am to I have to I appear to be. Is there another, more dematerialized reality yet to come?:

The first phase of the domination of the economy over social life brought into the definition of all human realization the obvious degradation of being into having. The present phase of total occupation of social life by the accumulated results of the economy leads to a generalized sliding of having into appearing, from which all actual “having” must draw its immediate prestige and its ultimate function. At the same time all individual reality has become social reality directly dependent on social power and shaped by it. It is allowed to appear only to the extent that it is not.

-Guy Debord “Society of the Spectacle”



the fullness of freedom

In 1944 Karl Polyani wrote about good and bad freedoms.

He described bad freedom as:

“the freedom to exploit one’s fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage”

And good freedom as:

The market economy under which these freedoms throve also produced freedoms we prize highly:  Freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s own job.

For Polyani the good freedoms are “by-products of the same economy that was also responsible for the evil freedoms.”

Then he wrote a prescription for a better future; one which is broader, more transparent and inclusive and ultimately more hopeful; one which twins freedom with justice:

The passing of the market economy can become the beginning of an era of unprecedented freedom.  Juridical and actual freedom can be made wider and more general than ever before; regulation and control can achieve freedom not only for the few, but for all.  Freedom not as an appurtenance of privilege, tainted at the source, but as a prescriptive right extending far beyond the narrow confines of the political sphere into the intimate organization of society itself.  Thus will old freedoms and civic rights be added to the fund of new freedoms generated by the leisure and security that industrial society offers to all.  Such a society can afford to be both just and free.

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eudaimonia
February 16, 2012, 9:31 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,

Math time.  Equations are given so no need to memorize them.

The first equation – from Umair Haque’s article on measuring the economy from the Atlantic, which I have excerpted below – is the standard measure of economic strength used universally by economists today.  It describes an idea of economic health using a fairly simple mix of some basic concepts:  consumption, government, investment and trade.

We live in a market age and we are all more or less conversant with these terms.  We’ve seen the idea represented by this very base equation come to occupy a central place in how we organize our society.  These are the terms of our market society lingua franca.

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global center of economic gravity
June 10, 2011, 12:36 am
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags:

The global center of economic gravity has shifted east over the past 30 years (black dots), and could well shift even farther east over the next 30 years (red dots).

World’s center of economic gravity shifts east, Danny Quah