Monday, June 8, 2009

An Absurd Growing-Up

. . . our abundant society is at present simply deficient in many of the most elementary objective opportunities and worthwhile goals that could make growing up possible. It is lacking in enough man’s work. It is lacking in honest public speech, and people are not taken seriously. It thwarts aptitude and creates stupidity. It corrupts ingenuous patriotism. It corrupts the fine arts. It shackles science. It dampens animal ardour. It discourages the religious convictions of Justification and Vocation and it dims the sense that there is a Creation. It has no Honour. It has no Community. Just look at that list. [1]

Speech cannot be personal and poetic when there is embarrassment of self-revelation, including revelation to oneself, nor when there is animal diffidence and communal suspicion, shame of exhibition and eccentricity, clinging to social norms. Speech cannot be initiating when the chief social institutions are bureaucratized and predetermine all procedures and decisions, so that in fact individuals have no power anyway that is useful to express. Speech cannot be exploratory and heuristic when pervasive chronic anxiety keeps people from risking losing themselves in temporary confusion and from relying for help precisely on communicating, even if the communication is Babel.

[1] Paul Goodman. 1960, p. 12.
As quoted in:
PAUL GOODMAN (1911-1972)by Edgar Z. Friedenberg1

[2] Paul Goodman 1964, p. 79
As quoted in:
PAUL GOODMAN (1911-1972)by Edgar Z. Friedenberg1


TheTrucker said...

We do not need any more "awakening". We see that things are not right and a lot of us (actually most of us) seem to say "we" need to do this or that, And there is actually some agreement between the people as to what "we" need to do in order to make things actually "work" again. The problem is a means by which to make real changes. And that is what I never see in all the blogs and all the posts. I see Obama trying to lead with his stimulus stuff and it is the right thing to do, but it is woefully insufficient and still the Republicans have nothing to offer but one blockade after another.

Both of my brothers in law were laid off and one of them had 4 months to go until retirement at HP. They both have families and I don't know what the hell they will do. Both were engineers yet are now unemployed. Hooray for the H1B program and offshoring.

And here we are in econospeak still sucking on that "comparative advantage" crack pipe. It seems to me that the least the people that blog here could do is rethink their stand on import tariffs with even higher tariffs on goods manufactured by American companies offshore.

It matters what is done with the proceeds of the tax. All the proceeds must be used to increase American wages by simply sending the money out to the unemployed. Pretty soon nobody will WANT a stinkin' job. That's when wages will rise.

Brenda Rosser said...

It's important IMHO to keep in mind the new world economic environment:

Most world 'trade' is now intra-corporate and inter-corporate. The large corporations are also co-owned and co-managed.

Government is not a separate entity from the corporate world.

Government has been asset-stripping its citizens to protect the large corporations. NOT vice-versa.

the world's resources have been (mostly) acquired by large TNCs with the support of the (mostly) western military establishment. Note my recent post on the Vietnam War.

There is no evidence that this global military-industrial complex is organised to work in the interest of ordinary people.

The solution lies in the establishment of genuine (rather than nominal) democracy. This must incorporate economic forms. Human rights as well as the environment need to be protected.

...Or we have no future worth considering.

kevin quinn said...

Brenda: is this Paul Goodman?

TheTrucker said...

Brenda Rosser said...

Lots of stuff about the world economy and how the corporations are in control of the governments and how that is not a "democratic" sort of situation.

While it is true that the LEVEL of democracy could stand a major increase, we probably differ as to what the "democracy" SHOULD DO. As a matter of fact I don't think it is proper to employ such a mixing of concepts. We do not DIRECT a democracy, or tell it what its priorities might be. The discussion can be carried on may levels but the central fact will remain the same: There is a constant war between the more aristocratic owners/controllers of the means of production and the more numerous productive class. The level of democracy determines who shall derive the most benefit (utility) in this ongoing struggle. The war between environmentalists and rent seekers is not the primary. It is only part of the larger whole.

You nor I can dictate to the democracy whether it will "save whales" or not. It is quite possible to raise the level of consciousness in the populous that would further the conservation of our natural world but that is of no benefit if they cannot act. I think we would agree that the current headlong plunge into "privatized profit" is not going to work at all, but this "awareness" is sterile without the political power to do anything.

Strangely, a proper and immediate objective would probably be to re-establish sovereign borders and protectionism. This is so because the world as a whole is much to large for its current puny democratic institutions. And until a sufficient level of democracy within our own sovereignties can be developed we will not have any chance at all to prevent the world aristocracy (MNC's) from trampling the rights of the common people and raping the planet to further increase the economic distance between themselves and "the great unwashed".

Even if with all of this was understood and agreed we have no way to "make it happen". I don't think that we need any more "awakening" on the subject of the environment. What is needed is a path to the democratic strength necessary to change the current situation. Economists clinging to "comparative advantage" in the face of the economic and environmental disaster that stares us in the face, is not going to help the situation. It is not possible to "educate" the entire planet quickly enough to save it. And even if we could do it the world's democratic institutions are not strong enough to control the current multinational rapists.

There is no tax system other than tariffs that can stop the destruction of the planet and of our personal liberties.

How do we make China and India not use coal and suffocate the rest of us for their own gain? We can either tax the stuff they produce or we can make war on them. There are really no other realistic options that I know of.

Brenda Rosser said...

Kevin, yep it's Paul Goodman. I've only just discovered him. His writing sounds very interesting!

Trucker, you raise a lot of points. If I were to reply to them all it would be an article. It's midnight and I've run out of steam.

Just off the top of my head though:
- China claims that most of the CO2 emitted in that nation is used to produce things that Britain, the US, Australia etc consume. So we can 'make' China not use coal by ceasing to consume the products of TNCs. I'm asking my friends and family and they are listening.

- Protectionism. It's interesting that Krugman is saying that 'protectionism' is okay. and yes it is when you have western TNCs going into nation after nation and exporting back to their mother country (the US, generally).

- You say it's not possible to educate the entire planet quickly enough. Try.