May 1, 2020, 4:49 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

In cooking reduction is a good thing: onion, celery, carrot, wine simmered to make a very complex and rich sauce. It can also be good to shed all the trappings and bling that have been piling up and encrusting our houses and apartments. Our arteries will thank us when we eat well and exercise. Reduction even to base material needs can be a good and even enriching thing.

In the same way, in the world of business, efficiency is necessary for good profits. However, unlike cooking, home economics and biology in which in which we achieve tasty, orderly, and healthy results, economic reduction through efficiency is often decidedly bad for the body politic. It removes qualities essential to life like spirituality, politics, and morality.

Havel warns that our straw man homo economicus has cut too deeply and that we must reclaim a meaningful relation to the divine and society, and to a shared sense of right and wrong.

In the interest of the smooth management of society, then, society’s attention is deliberately diverted from itself, that is, from social concerns. By nailing a man’s whole attention to the floor of his mere consumer interests, it is hoped to render him incapable of appreciating the ever increasing degree of his spiritual, political and moral degradation.

Vaclav Havel

having roots in the order of being
December 12, 2013, 2:09 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , ,

There is a difference – a big one – between people living alienated in a cold modern world and people living alienated in a cold modern world whose radical systems are actively working to deepen the alienation.

The profound crisis of human identity brought on by living within a lie, a crisis which in turn makes such a life possible, certainly possesses a moral dimension as well; it appears, among other things, as a deep moral crisis in society. A person who has been seduced by the consumer value system …. and who has no roots in the order of being, no sense of responsibility for anything higher than his own personal survival, is a demoralized person. The system depends on this demoralization, deepens it, is in fact a projection of it into society.

-Václav Havel ”The Power of the Powerless

from Notes from Dystopia blog

the fundamental reconstitution of the position of people in the world
October 15, 2011, 6:08 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,

Not traditional ideas but just how people fit in the world will usher in change, says Czech ex president Vaclav Havel in the quotation below.  Traditional ideas could include ideologies, parties, manifestos etc.  But what does Havel’s phrase ‘reconstitution of the position of people’ mean?

Tradition has been described as having two forms:  sedimented and reactivated (Ricoeur).  In sedimented tradition the ideas that were originally seen as beneficial to society have become encrusted and hidden and rendered more or less useless.  In reactivated tradition, the originating forms are made vital and useful again. Continue reading