30-03-09

Der Nörgler am Schreibtisch

" (..) Warum wurde mir nicht die Körperkraft, die Sünde dieses Planeten mit einem Axthieb umzulegen? Warum wurde mir nicht die Gedankenkraft, die geschändete Menschheit zu einem Aufschrei zu zwingen? Warum ist mein Gegenruf nicht stärker als dieses blecherne Kommando, das Macht hatte über die Seelen eines Erdenrunds? Ich bewahre Dokumente für eine Zeit, die sich nicht mehr fassen wird oder so weit vom Heute lebt, dass sie sagen wird, ich sei ein Fälscher gewesen. Doch nein, die Zeit wird nicht kommen, das zu sagen. Denn sie wird nicht sein. (..)" Karl Kraus, Die letzten Tage der Menschheit, suhrkamp taschenbuch, 1986, p. 671.

(amateuristic English translation below)


I am an optimist. Not the optimist of the times Kraus chronicled. I am an optimist of the time that he predicted would never come. But, being an optimist, I don't get it; I don't get it why, despite Kraus, we wound up in another world war; simply don't get it why, for all the advances we did make, we still see words used in service of this, that or the other pet belief of one or another set of 'in'-people domesticating us to pets.

The point is, I guess (or at least that's been chasing me ever since I read the quote above), that we make steady progress (ignoring times of intermittent world war type collapse) but that each time in itself we wind up in the worst possible world that we'd be able to have at that specific time.

Let me in turn try to chase the thought that has been chasing me for a week now.

I'm not a fan of 'possible worlds' logic and certainly not the kind that - in an almost mystical way - tends to give a lot of reality value to worlds possible but not actual. I do however think I can make sense of 'the worst possible world at a specific time' & more specifically as per the following.

Each specific time, or instant ot historical period, is characterized by many a possible way of organizing. At least, to limit ourselves to the really real, there are at any time a range of actual (politicial, judicial, economic) systems in place. We can therefore - glossing over many important qualifications no doubt, but bear with me - quantify at a specific time over these actual systems. If we can quantify over such systems, and we can make sense of the predicate 'better than' predicated of such systems, we are in good shape. Indeed, any world that doesn't maximize its better systems is worse, and any world in which the better systems are, in effect, minimized is the worst.

OK, fair enough with rather more than a whiff of poetical liberty (& I do apologize for the buckets full of implicitly assumed non-trivial premises but I'm chasing - only if I catch it will I be able to give it a thorough going-over). But I did introduce maximize (& minimize, but you'll forgive the one even if you don't forgive the other) and that, at least, requires me to pause (the jump from systems to worlds would as well - but whether you forgive me or not - I will pass that one for now). Maximize implies that there is an action that could at least be taken but who is the actor? & what action?

Time for some more boldness. Time to get back to Kraus.

My suggestion is that the actors would be the people living at that specific time, and the action would be to use their knowledge of better/worse systems. I guess by now I've lost any credibility I had when I started but my suggestion poses an interesting constraint: the actual systems over which I was quantifying have to be 'visible' to all actors, i.e. not only have they be known but also understood (it isn't, by the way, at all necessary they be completely understood, they need only be relatively clear and only insofar as the 'better/worse' relation is concerned).

An example from Kraus' time. There was the Austrian system and the British one, & the British one was better (if an historian reads this: just assume with me, for fun if not for anything else). Both systems were visible to each other: there wasn't lack of communication. In fact there were people like Kraus that were vocal in the worse on the fact that there was 'better' to be had. In the Austrian empire one could make a lot of excuses on why they stuck to the 'worse' - but not because of lack of knowing the 'better' (& remember: this is no longer about the ideal 'best', at any time - lots of criticism applies to what I say but not that of utopianism). Opting then - not only to stay in the 'worse' - but also to go to war with the 'best' is - at least close to very categorically - the worst possible situation; the situation that minimizes.

At this time I can relax the quantificational diversion - the worst possible world at a given time is the world that takes minimal account of the knowledge & criticism that is available at that given time. Minimal account does not mean 'no account' as it is perfectly plausible that, however much the Austrian rulers tried, they were unable to disregard entirely the knowledge & criticism waged at that specific time (& in fact, it is part of the Kraussian story how these rulers quite deliberately saved appearance by lip service to modernity; &, in double fact, isn't that something that rings a bell, across all times, including in our time?). Given we do progress, the argument isn't too hard that in actual dynamic reality the 'minimal account' is not zero (yes, I will have to allow this over a considerable longer stretch of time than: from instant to instant, otherwise the world war data would not falsify the theory).

So, enough chasing done, I can have my cake and eat it too. I can be the grumbler and I can be the optimist. Grumbler because at any given point in time, including a time like the present, we are as worse off as possible (statically). Optimist because I can see the evolution over sufficiently large stretches of time as showing this clear progress that nobody would deny if for instance speaking over the last century.

In a short way: things progress extremely badly.

The reason for this, and therefore the reason for the conundrum with which K. Kraus expresses his frustration in the quote, is that "the word" (knowledge, criticism) isn't allowed to 'flow' (more: the word is actively blocked and abused by the people which happen to be in charge at a given time). My optimism, to close on the up, is that it nevertheless flows and, like water, can't be blocked indefinitely. Kraus could not see that because he could not see the progress over time, yet. Better still: progress has to be self-reenforcing - the more the word has flown the more rapid it will flow next. But, unfortunately, the mechanism of delay by the powerful is still with us. Although we know the tricks of propaganda and abuse of power, we haven't been able to get rid of them - the word is still more controlled than that it controls our progress (and possible the point of irreversibility has not been reached) :-(

Ouf!


The grumbler at his writing desk

"(..) Why didn't I get the bodily strength, to fell with one blow of the axe all the sins of this planet? Why didn't I get the strength of thought, to force this defiled mankind to an outcry? Why is my voice of opposition not stronger than these hollow commands, that have in their power the souls of this globe? I keep documents for a time, no longer capable of grasping them or so far from now, that it will say, I am a manipulator. But no, the time will not come to say this. Since that time will never be. (..)'


Whilst writing this I was listening to Bill Laswell; both Dub Chamber 3 & Land of Look Behind

22:53 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: dynamics, boldness, competition, tones, kraus |  Facebook |

13-12-08

The Right To Be Lazy

"Proletarians, brutalized by the dogma of work, listen to the voice of these philosophers, which has been concealed from you with jealous care: A citizen who gives his labor for money degrades himself to the rank of slaves, he commits a crime which deserves years of imprisonment." Paul Lafargue, The Right To Be Lazy, 1883.

(Translation as per http://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/index....)


There you have it: you think you have an original idea just to find out it's antedated with a mere 150 years; by a rather obscure pamphlet-writer of rather more than less blackandwhitery, no less. The vice of modesty may still have its virtuous moment ;-)

He is right of course, for the same reasons as I am right: neither you nor I whatever our origin & whatever our talents, are really anything more than the instrument of an upper class when we sell ourselves to further the goal of another. & we are even less than that when the sale is made to further the goal of an anonymous organization - never mind whether of the so called beneficial kind. The idea of the 'duty to work' is however proving to be imune to all reasoning. There are always new people grouped in new groups that gain so much from it that they discover fresh ways to convince all of the rest of us that the 'right to work' is the last blessed thing surviving the deaths of all Gods. For a long time now in the West we take comfort in the fact that we can't be slaves because a. the people we work for can't starve us to death when we refuse to a complete surrender & b. we are increasingly working with our brains.

The first assumption is wrong because every instance we claim more freedom we get naught more than a pittance of it; to find not much later that 'the economic crisis' is on its way threatening this beautiful right to work. The voices of the reasonable soon after emerge to convince us of the fact that we should not press such rights but give up large portions of our little bit of freedom if we don't want the right to become just a far-fetched ideal. No physical whips but constant economic terror: if there is such a thing as a mastermind in this system, it surely knows that the threat of some loss is sufficient to whip us into 'correct' behaviour.

Never will a right be more like a duty as in the case of the right to work. And whilst it is a fact that we tend to sell our brains rather than our bodies as time goes on, what is better: to be encarcelated or to be brainwashed? But this quoting fool is sounding more and more like he's rambling as much, if not more, than that quoted fool - Let me move on to ...

He is wrong of course because like all of them drawing in black-and-white only, he is wanting to make us into something that is changed according to what he believes to be what we ought to be. Idiotically presupposing that we can make abstraction from what presently is our reality to make it easier on him to run, on our behalf, after the abstraction he favoured. An abstraction that suited his instincts, his wealth as well as his specific social network. Such is the way of idealists. They're optimists, but only at our expense and when they despair they do so based on what they see us lacking in what they deem to be important to us.

So maybe I'm still original in believing you can be right in these matters without at a same time being wrong. We needn't prescribe work nor prescribe non-work - just like we mustn't prescribe non-consumption nor decry consumption. The "right to be lazy" should not in its turn become a new duty of a new church condemning the non-lazy. There is time, we work less than in Lafargue's time. More importantly: there is time, more & more of us find employment in things that can't rightly be called 'work' even if those so employing themselves persist in the convention of calling it 'work'. This is possible only because the free markets allow to exchange entertainment and ideas, trading talent for talent. The machines were welcome and they were necessary - but, contra Lafargue, they are not sufficient. To liberate us from work we need a market, a place where we can come with the result of our creative, talented laziness and get the benefit of some other talented, creative laziness. Only this free exchange will be sufficient to liberate us from the necessity to work.

The problem then is this from where we stand today: how do we divorce free market from capitalism when they seem so inextricably linked for ages? The one good & the other bad, their separation is essential to set human beings free to do whatever the hell they feel like - even work, since no God or Organization can still forbid it. Free - free to compete in what they themselves believe to be their strength & pleasure.

A question at the end. Be it as it may. I have no answer yet. But not to worry: there is time and better the irreversible evolution to a free market with less compulsion to work than a revolution imposing what is to be traded with an essential compulsion to work, however small it may be.


Whilst writing this I was listening to Evard Grieg, Lyric Pieces as was perfomed by Mikhail Plethnev (with the insurmountable "March of the Trolls").

 

19:29 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: lafargue, optimism, decadence, competition, form-content |  Facebook |

01-12-08

Die Hinzu-Lügner

"(..) Und so macht man es innerhalb jeder herrschenden Moral und Religion und hat es von jeher gemacht: die Grunde und die Absichten hinter der Gewohnheit werden immer zu ihr erst hinzugelogen, wenn Enige anfangen, die Gewohnheit zu bestreiten und nach Gründen und Absichten zu fragen. Hier steckt die grosse Unehrlichkeit der Conservativen aller Zeiten: - es sind die Hinzu-Lügner." F. Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, p. 63, Reklam, 2000.

(amateuristic English translation below)


There will be more from where this one came: if only to show Nietzsche isn't what he is made out to be by those standing to gain from the commonplace perspective. Or, in other words: if you're original enough there is no force in the universe that can be dwarfing you to commonplace.

What is the custom of our day? It has to be: "Work hard and you'll be rewarded with well deserved worldly goods." The lie stuck on top of this work drill morality is that it will ensure reward comes to those who merit it. The next lie is: everyone will benefit because this system will allow sustainable advances in average prosperity.

It's pretty easy to find challenges to the custom. It is blatantly obvious that merit is unavoidably divorced from merit, whatever way you may want to define the latter. It are always sociopathtic tyrants & cock-sucking followers that take worldy reward from the inventions of the unconventional working people. It is more obvious still that not everyon benefits and that the system, left to its own nature, leads to everincreasing portions of humanity living sub-averagely from the point of view of wordly goods.

What does not follow from the blatantly obvious is that we have to tune the systems to ensure the custom is made compatible with the lies - what also does not follow is that we have to accept the custom is imperfect but happens to be the best one that we have managed to stumble across. Regardless of perspective, neither of these is following although one is free to deceive one's self with either a soft conservative or a hard conservative perspective (corresponding to modern progressives and modern extreme right).

So let us ask what does follow from all this. The answer is simple: nothing. Custom, as well as its invented reason and intention are post their due dates. They're stale & there should be a ban on the operative concepts used: a ban on merit, hard work, & a ban on rewards, averages and the common good.

We need to let go: a bit of work is good enough if it earns you just enough to come by in a way that allows you to do whatever the bloody hell takes your fancy. I know - not very philosophical and maybe therefore with an outside chance of being right ;-)


"And so it is done within every ruling moral system or religion and has it been done forever and ever; the reasons and intentions behind the custom are always invented after the facts (lied on top of it), when some start to fight the custom, asking for reasons and intentions. Here we have the gross dishonesty of conservatives of all times: - they are on-top-liars."

(I am sorry, you'll need to learn German or find an official translation to appreciate it thoroughly, which is kind of fitting, in a way)


Whilst writing this I was listening to Dwight Yoakam, Blame the Vain.

21:39 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: nietzsche, decadence, dynamics, boldness |  Facebook |