Thursday, December 16, 2010

Its the trouble with the future

It goes without saying the future is one of the more problematic of tenses. As Hiedegger brilliantly realized, the trouble with ti really if that it needs to be understood not as merely a future present, but as it is right here right now. Time after all in itself implies some kind of relationship with the future = what else is being in time at all? The future is never something then hidden or some present far way - it is rather always right here right now - an entity all decisions political, biological, social economic and eve artistic are made - and made constantly .
Such an overhanging future has several key aspects. Firstly, following still Heidegger it is clear that the future is caught up with possibility. To have a future is always to feel something more can happen in our lives- we are never done never finished- life is always shaking new thing into us. w have the behave then in accordance with this possibility- We need to always open up certain options, and evolve them in the hope of more options to come. We have to plan now, but plan in the idea that what is planned is no necessarily what will come in itself, so much as the platform or deck that runs out into possibility, our projection into it, from onto which the possibilities far, and around which they coalesce. Heidegger would have us then at once revel in the creative of the what is to some that hangs over us- while suggesting we create nets of capturing those possibles we look to and for, those that we feel peculiarly suite ourselves and our lives. A move which defines reasonable enough personal choice but is lousy when it comes to the game of modern politics.... Hence is love of dictatorships which expend the politics of one person into the nation.
In opposition to this pole there is of course the future or probability (an option Heidegger for one derided). That is the future were one reckons up what one thinks is likely to be - what is likely to come and modifies ones behaviour accordingly in the here and the now. these numbers of course define their own reality - create there own level - on which historically at least policy tended to be made. It might hurt some the argument always goes, but over all the average or the expectation or the trend line is going our way. the trouble with this approach (and hi is Heidegger's critique) - is that it misses the key fat of temporality as such namely that it is self-conscious as it is time. Time is born in us, in the fact that we have being, and know we have a future. Probabilty then deadens that looking towards - or defines a level where it can be safely ignored. It does not matter where we know what is happening or no, the argument runs, the future is the same nevertheless - it does not matter what we think, the future appears in the numbers. A point of course heidegger lampoons,a s what is the point of time as we live it, as it is in us if it were not self conscious? to set theorize that deny that aspect is to create a theory that tears out the essence of temporality in describing it.
In terms of modernity we would of course now say that Heidegger is half right. The is wrong to demand the self-consciousness of being is the critical determinant - that it is all that matters and does so in defiance of maths, but he is right to insist that the fact that being knows what it wants effects the future. We are all very used to the fact that belief is something, in something in some mass happening is itself a real truth - and has become increasingly (and often very irritatingly) an increasing power in the land. indeed so much is this the case that it has become as it were a third pole of the future - the belief in others believing, and the way to manage their expectation in the face of the fact that belief is nonsense, is the task of modern politics. Debates such as health and safety or immigration are carried out in never never land of what we think is being done and the future we imagine we are running towards.
A new pole has then been created of the collectively imagines future - the actions we assume and assuming create other different futures. But as an opposite pole to this future is is then clear yet another has emerged. Starting from Heidegger's perspective has arise the demand that we all have a right to a future - to possibility to creation - and it ii
s the task of someone else - say the state or the society or the law or the nation or whoever to ensure those sacred rights. possibility has then moved into stroppy insistence of right to come, the future is come little more that an land grab for possibilities. a place were we anxiously stake out our claims and demand what is to come.
Between these different corners of ways we do the future many different poles exist, and we compose many futures for ourselves and for others . A composition which has clear rules. Firstly and most importantly such an act of composition is hand in glove with what we call our personality. that is our personality in a sense is(in part) the name we have to the manner in which we infer differing futures: Our prejudices or fear, our hopes and dreams, our dominant thougths are then all given in the kind of futures we are likely to make and remake; To be gloomy or introspective or hateful or lovable is to allows for certain futures. But such a personal composition is also in a sense collective, our personality also, defines how we allow others also into these future how we share them- and who we share them with (Heidegger brilliantly understands here that the past is the having been of mood and personality- that which one is already, which conditions what possibles are possible). The shared future then evolve in this merging of personality (and becomes a power). a sharing which will that enter are trend lines from the here and the now and develop them into what is to come. The here and the now then forms the bridge into possibilities- into those possibilities one looks to create - and the actions needed. an bridge building that is highly creative but also plastic and collective. many in the process, a mulitude that will of course warp the bridge itself and its direction - turning it aside or naming it take other paths in a shifting world, were belief as well what is believes itself is a force. moreover the bridges become then part of the non-believers the non bridge makers possibility as well pricing other action within them,actions that will further change the landscape for the bridge, making it increasingly tricky where it is going. the bridge of course ultimately becomes merely a jut into somewhere - and often so massive that it cannot be taken down or changed.
futures has an irritating habit of avoiding all plans, all believes and even any one set or series of possibilities. What tumbles into being is then always something from somewhere else - light by the vividness of reality, a light that shines never where it is meant to. The problem then with the future is that it actually out thinks us - while demanding that we think it: our thoughts are then always a part in this avoidance, in what othering it composes. a problem that of course haunts all our lives, and makes any attempt tp be free so very very difficult.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vivisection of desire

It is one of those things we are all so used to we hardly notice anymore: But the real power of money surely lies in its ability to cut through the very futuring tense of desire. Desire yearns after all towards what s not their: Or perhaps better it makes the what is not into a positive place. It is then the art of not being where one should, and so yearning - or question or creating or perhaps blindly conjuring that other world, lost past or imagine present, into being: forcing to become whatever else it was to be also implicated in a futuring - in a becoming what I will be.
Desire quite probably left to itself is a bit of a messy affair. Its highly poly-vocal (if only he have the patients to listen) and quite likely to diffuse. a desire will the infuse a sequence of possibilities, when one gives it moves, shifts changes evolves across time - and this essentially is the point: It works across these shift of perspective - and never resolves itself exactly....
More than that it always oscillates in that strange land which runs between actuality and virtuality. So much desire is my internal yearning - it is not really realizable or i might not realize that it is realized:and yet of course something it needs to edge into what is actual - it is merely exactly what and where and when and even whether that is a movable feast.
A fact that become all the more complex as desire is collective - that is good desires are never purely mine- we share in them; but also in the sharing we find community- so its fact changes everything =makes in a sense what was not actual matter or event feel present. the slips into the virtual then might involve from another level a social reality that is far more important than any realization. Except of course it may well feel more complex in our heads. here is no reason we have top realize the power of the sharing - the desire is ours after all: We almost by definition then confuse what we are as individuals for a more nebulous communal feeling. we demand also to be that, and so loose sight (ironically perahaps given our indvidualism) of how our minds n there very essence and caught up with each other an actually- and compossible through one another
Desire then is often as not half dreams and a quarter hope and eighth reality, and sixteenth memory....and infinite harmonic series of shifting elements. And yet of course we routinely cut this creative if irritating and in neat form highly manipulative world with the cutting edge of money.
money operates by creating a hard divide between dreams and fiction. The former which are of course inchoate and complex and left free, while every actualityward of he latter becomes chargeble - and valued.
Money takes for itself all the mutlilayered aspect of desire. it then looks to what is and what will be and as you always to reckon up- according to it one voice the relative values of everything. Money threads desires which might have run in parallel up, in sa single thread of value: they become memory beads against it power. In doing so it usurps the futuring tense of desire. it is the future the future right here right now- the slip into what will be.
But of coruseti is a desire which one can desire. money is a sense is a coupe of the self-conscious aspect of desire over the merely conscious. that is it is what we hold in our hand, what in a desire is real (even i that reality is merely a number - and the necessarily communal belief that number works. It then becomes very quickly the only communal desire we all share- a desire which structures and infuses pretty much everything. The ambivalence of meum and tuum is thereby resolved and made into something: It becomes genuine and real, and sorted through. We dream the same dream on the level of money; But if we dream the same dream of actual things that will both cost us more (as we are competing) but also make that dream ore likely to happen (it is cost effective). Our power to think and feel then same is then marketed back to us - as ordered consurmerism
The irritating world of shifting selfish yet shared desire, is viviseted- forced into a single thread of realized thought: I is made then to account to itself in terms of another realized and actual desire (counted in money).
Accept of course does not work quite like that - for desire will not conform. It perculates money with is own polyvocal nature, and will recreate itself if it can - either when (by reason of wealth or poverty) one is set free from money- or else with money itself where one product will work by talking to many dreams (and needs then not merely to be judges by what it is) or else in resentiment (noisy or quiet) of the system and the desire to find another or finally be creating refuges of old fashioned desire, free from the scalple of money (the family, but also art, loyality etc). Desire then adds to its assemblage the desire to say otherthings than money does allow for - a quest that is in a sense forlorn as those desire main in the most part either marginal or mere dreams - as the money then become actually articulated money seeps in, as the lesser of evil - for desire left to its self need not be scary merely confusing to fail and confuse then spirit.
We vivisect then with a reason: We vivisect in spite our self- and every attempt to move beyond that vivisection will ail it is cannot find another way to be structures desire and so marshal it effectively.
The true power in capitalism is then the rendered powerful shifting decrees, and making our own nature an actual force in the world. Hard to out think that - without slipping into idiotic tyranny (that aspires to do the same)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back to that old demonology

Demon are strange unions of mind. Waves that sweep up thought -and captures part, to they are part of it an inventing reason explainations or perhaps merely ruses for its advancement before ever they know what is happening. The great wave of collective sentiment is little more that a demon:They demoninc in the strangness of their union, and the fact that it hooks up many disperate elements, elements otherwise unlikened or thought differently at different times: Demons are the botched beasts, made of spare parts- or mismatching parts: Beast use only unity lies in the sweeping their part along with crazy other earthly power. It is true some demons become fixtures in our lives and the oddness fades from notice- and yet and yet - that oddness blights through and is readily seen by those with eyes to look.
- Demons has then very different life chances and lifetimes. Some are over in and instant- some are long terms conjurings. Some are the centuries old whole others over in an afternoon - some in conflict other piece. Demons come and go.
But to Abyss is a strange world- governed by the rules of segmentary opposition. Demons then are always something friends and other times foes. but other than these rules, which govern the interaction of the great demons, each individual demon has its own court- with attendant figures and powers- dimension if you or masks for the great demon - each with their own distinct powers to challenge the world, and yet each linked to the rest: demons wage then fierce wars one with the other, seeking to devour each other or better perhaps to strip each other of independent status, to rob one another of different aspects, and to force each other at the last to be a mere suppliant in their own courts.
Never more so that in the West, where three great demons have governed action from the mid seventeenth century (say onwards.
The first Avatar is clearly Baal- the modern incarnation in the state of princely might. The entire idea of nation state combines pieces of (cod) history, an old powers, with a new setting - it creates organs for states to think and to act- to decide and govern, and a quiet distinct ideologies of freedom and another of land and third of people. Ideologies that the Baal the sweeps us up as his court. A demon that it goes without saying is the king of hypocracy and double standard, and yet only of a certian kind. All policies are then twisted into being somehow of use to Baal and his advantage, while at the same time appearing to be good for others, for his parts. A twisting that takes place immediately and powerful (one Baal defends with his life); and runs counter to the actual fact that most of these policies were actually created not in the throne room of Baal or according the the rules he loudly chants, but in squalid back room. The Demons weak spot s of course those back rooms, where much negociated, and much hidden: much of the source of his powers then lie in squalid deals where he impresses himself, his will on other demons.. Finally this demon is always paraniod. there is a real demonic fear running across his court that somehow this hypocracy will be exposed, and this power revealed as pretence. The power is then defined fiercely and immiedately.
The second great demon for our times is of course Mammon the the self confident strident demon of wealth, and sweep all before him a demon who rushes where were angles would ear to tread- and talks endless and confidently about the justice of the market and its transforming eternal power. the demon then who feels they have no equal, and certainly has or respect for Baal, or appear not to. and yet this Demon is actually very vulnerable. The power of the market to be free is a gossamer affair- if Baal looks to limit it, the the market and the bluff confidence vanish. Mammon;s power then lies in the perpetual claim that his wealth breeds wealth - when all is certain that it breeds a greed that operates as a battering ram. that i Mamaons true vassal is the unfettering of greed itself, so that it itself runs riot, twisting truths and warping reality in its direction. a force that almost trumps Mamon (and which he cannot stop)- and certainly is both his greatest strength and weakness.
the two are then sometimes allies some times foes, and never trust one another. They are allies form Mamon needs Baal to allow the condition for greed and the market to thrive; More tan that it needs Baal to protect that which it has (property rights ) and to force others to allow it its right over them.: Baal uses Mammon wealth, but also the hope hat bottomless greed conjures up, and uses it for its own purposes. and yet the two runs against each other constantly in small skirmishes - but are in Euroland clearly squaring up to for a major war (the like of which we have not seen in many a long year).
but for of this these two operate as a team, in in the name of their respective freedom devour all other demons when young or at least attempt to. The only demon that has partially escapes is Young Astaroth- the demon for knowledge and thought. a demon that endless throws the world, and teaches one to perpetually question, and constantly re-examin nature. The demon then that dob any world or always wants it thought differently or other than it is. A demon that is a potential threat for both the major demons, and yet has be been caged by the other two in universities, or research centres and their ilk. So much so that they are different times treat Astaroth as their mere minion, their pawn, to play with use and then out back in its case. Bring out the performing thinkers, in a call heard in both court. The only fear is then that in a all out war or demons Astaroth might escape. Or perhaps that the world he looks to, the world of chaotic force pulling hither and thither might actually become more real that the world mammon and Ball create - a truth that might unseat there powers.
These three though have for three centuries or so waged an imperial war- all other pretends, the demons of free speech or communism or collective power and even religion have been by and large devoured by one or all of these three powers, in a series of very violent and aggressive actions. so much so that The unholy trinity who like to think that they have it all covered. Oh of course their exists in the margins the old demon of tyrant and autocrats. Asmodeus. but he is a Demon that traditionally they have all three kept away from - well until recently and yet, when of course Mamon and Astaroth started o flirt with his course also (modern China).
Other chaotic demons incarnation of behemoths have by and large been devoured or checkmated and their freedom comprehended under the universal powers- r else rendered ineffective and made powerless- so that they might howl in poverty and fear, but no more. the ld partial exception is of course Terrorism which menaces the three from without, and yet as a ghost - demon - only half there - a mirage which their action themselves partially create. and yet we clearly live at a time when two further behemoths demons of Chaos are materializing, the first is that of the internet and the freedom of knowledge to flow. This demon has grown within the two court of Baal and Mammon who fostered it for their own reason, but is now of course a real power - leading to a belated war, as both existing demons attempt to destroy the still forming power of this pretender. But of course it might be too late to contain this cloud like polyform demon. it might be free - and if it is the we are in for a bloody conflict as the three older demons jostle wit each other as they attemt to renegociate there powers in respect to this other power.
The second demon, is old Satan himself- the chaotic power of nature - occluded for many a year as Astaroths special concern,. but a demon in all likliehood of the move again- a movement that Mamon and Baal cannot and do not comprehend and wish to ignore (and hope that is proves but a ghost demon)- or else to tackle in such a way that does not hurt their other interests - a luxury they do not necessarily have.

in short it seems our abyss is n even more turmoil than normal - As new demons struggle to be bon, and old demons return from outside. the question then is whether Mammon and Baal ca as they have for often before head of these challenges and devouring them from inside and making them mere facets of their court- or whether they cannot or perhaps miss their opportunity as in the conflict they two square up to a fight of their own (just when they might need to be allied).
A question us Witch citiziens need to ponder as we decide our own conjurations.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The imperial Past

It is just what minds do.....
We generalize our pasts to form abstract nets to capture presents if.
We have a past, where local rebellion, classical education, and a movement of wealth fro land to good helped create a society which aspires to allow individuals to be part of the choice about you govern. a system which is then abstracted as 'Free' (thanks hegel) - and unwound across the planet It becomes the only system we think is fair- the only system thaw feel can handle the economic free for all which was part of the ideal in which the original system was created.
We instinctively assume that the two elements free for all, and political freedom must be linked into each other. in a sense this aspiration is not daffy. the point of the free for all system of economics is that it tends to create individuals who manages the system to become very wealthy though bending rule. Markets then are rather easy to corrupt, and rather easy to manage (it is their natural state).
It makes theorectical sense then to have a rival pole to this freedom - namely a system of political control that is free from economic and can investigate it freely - and using its own powers. The double democracy of money and votes the could well make sense of a capitalism. there i is hard and fast rule here- many capitaliams through the world have flourished in oppressive regimes (including our own at its birth)- idea of the double freedom is then a relatively recent one.
But what is clear that this doubling of freedom is never simple- and it makes little sense to abstract it and then impose that abstract. That is if we simply impose the two models one and the other, and hope then will jangle around and get regulating- the process is really not going to work. the system in the West is after all carried by the elements that rule between the double freedoms- in both directions at once
so that successful democracies need established political parties with their feet in both worlds. That is parties which need to draw both funding and members from the econmic world, and then articulate these two into real politik. The economic then becomes translateble into an political vision. But these parties of course also need to be plural. that is there needs to be competition in the political world, and real competition at that. Parties must then actually look for and articulate real economic difference and make those differences matter and real.
the point then being that in the West (well Britiain at least) the parties are older than real parliamentary democracy. they were always there clamouring fro freedom, reflecting economic and political freedom one at the other. a presence that then permuated the entire system, be it educational or economic. the parties and the freedom they were part of, were everywhere.
And the system does not make that much sense without it.
the point sit then that freedom itself without pre-existing parties or at least their nub - their ideal does not make sense. If political freedom is then forced on other cultires, they will need to find these parties from within themselves and do so at once The point of course is that the parties they will- nay must find will reflect their current culture (and not the economic culture we hope to fo(i)sture on them. The parties will then be ethnic or religious
once again this actually no surprise- the same was true in Britian and the West where political parties in their inception where parties originate in religous turmoil- and are shot through by religion (even to this day). The problem is though that around the time of mass democracy our political parties sate also the deal with the free for all, as its partial critique and rival power. the point then for the of having a mass democracy was this move- it allowed another pole, nationalism or else socialism trivial the powers of the business classes (or else complement those powers, and make then feel more natural). Our political parties then evolved with the economic system - a system we then force or oblige or perhaps merely coerce other nations to accept in full (and with themselves in the one role thank you very much- supplier of raw materials). We thereby ensure that their political system has not got a hope. religious parties group around in the politics we think of as art of our histroy (whigs and Tories) and yet have to cope with problems imposed them, which are very modern, and highly complex. The system the mutatess way from any dreams of freedom, and into either a plutocracy or a enthnocracy (or often both). One political party/ethinic group/ league of corrupting business folk cease control. in a sense what else can they do? The system they are operating under simply cannot work it juxtaposes to very different times: The theorectial time of the eighteenth century and the creation of political parties within religious struggle, with the complexity and wealth of the current epoch - and the two do not work together the result is what we get an assortment of ethnic parties and little increase in actual freedom.
more than that - parties might form (even those that resemble western parties in countries where we share a history - I mean India) - have a deep problem with addressing the grinding poverty of the states. This poverty which is in part at least a lack of empire (we crashed existing orders to create the poor as labour class), is the rather deep rooted, and the parties shallow based on the modification of existing ethnic divisions). These parties are then unable to articulate their won economic situation adequately - and we are likely to not want them in the west to do so (as it limits our profits). We will encourage each nation to create a wealthy class, like us and ignore the very poor, whose political representation the west, ad those parties that come to represent images of that west actually fears). Parties then form which organize very effectively the middle classes and democracy will operate- but deep poverty remains beyond the system, and cannot be articulated within it - it si simply beyond its pale.

In short the world is caught in a very odd place. the logic of economic is that the West actually has to share its economic system with the world. it needs to trade somehow or other. as part of that trading, and perhaps to ensure freedom, in wishes or craves a would that shares its political system as well - and so desires other nations to have had a different history for the one it has had. history in then abstracted and elements of it imposed across the world under the ethic of freedom It does nto work very well. that is no surprise. the problem tough is given the economic necessity to advance capitalist production, no other ideology tends to gets the time to work - well not until china stared to work out other ways to do capitalism and perhaps eventually other voices in freedom ......
A hoc that the West might find rather hard to bare(or even understand).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The New you - the 'Death of Man' revisited

So okay Foucault was a little previous when he announced the death of man, but only by forty years or so. He also made his famous pronouncement knowing two things. firstly that humanity the world would be defended as a category by those who are actually undermining it silently - but also that the change here is deeply historical and complex- a history he new so well.
the old category of man- man the heroic traders and chooser, man the doyen of the free market and the fee society, man the free - the end of his history - as a strange creature forged within the fires of the struggles in Europe and its New word from say the fifteenth century to the nineteenth.
it was not a self evident affair- but rather one that gathered its paradigm, is container for what humanity was in the margins - a margin that then exploded in a sequence of voilient revolution about the nature of consciousness, conscience knwoeldge and freedom; a struggle with is heros (Cromwell, Locke, Hue, Kant, Rousseau, St just Napoleon etc) and its villain (sundery kings). A conflict that then had two rather different ends. the model for wht himanity was was worked out pretty much in full by the end start of the nineteenth century, and in Hegel's remark that this was the end of history itself- this version of Man the free.
The second part of the history here was far more complicated it has taken far longer for the version of humanity espoused in this freeedom to bleed across the world. it took ling enough in Britian ( a century before the poor and women were trusted with the vote), and simply has not happened elsewhere. nor is it that simple in the West - where we long ago realized democracy is not necessarily a great for government, so much as it is a humane way to ritually slaughter a monarch who feels no longer lucky. Election by definition are meant to usher in the new - and do so regardless of actual possibility.
and yet - and foucault of course new this very well -there was always other threads ripping across this freedom. Individuals were being coerced into being free- that is they were regulated an monitored to ensure they fitted the paradigm for freedom - freedom had its cost. a cost that grew and developed over the years - in the rulebook and the instituition. Moreover this A secondary take on humanity that Foucault knew was likely to gain in power in the passing of the years. And indeed it of course has. Economics, selling goods,politics even has ceased to be about anything free - and politics of rationa lchoice. it has rather become all about nudging- using subtle cues to communicate to individuals or bits of individuals, to show that you are on their side, or point their mind in this or that direction. Power is slipping away then from the abstract domain of man the chooser, and into the shadow world or brainwave, and eye candy. we are coming then a problem for mentalists and psychologists to solve. Policies then slip way from actual policy,and become rather catch all phrase big-societies or the squeezed middle which we are all asked to project our meaning onto. Likewise i the world of half-dreaming it becomes difficult to mange ones desires or tell then apart from the world;we are connived with after all to believe our greeds are worthwhile and worth serving - and that we have in some sense a right to shiny thing. we become then implausibly wealthy, and yet that wealth is based on smoke and mirriors and nothing much more than desire and manipulation....
so much foucault knew: he knew that once the rules of psychology and microeconomics spread out of large institution and across society,sot that manipulation of individuals understood and Hunan the eye-catcher not Man the chooser - then the entire political edifice on which abstract-humanity-as-the-end-of-history was formed stars to look shaky and suspect. What price a democracy after all or a consumerism where these means you cannot make rational choices?
the problem is actually not why Man is dead so much as why we have not hard it yet - why Foucault is treated as the mad man in the market a still - by we who have killed humanity and yet worship his ghost.
Four types of reason come to mind. Firstly the prime murders of the human, the manipulater of minds rather need us to believe in humanity as a category- it makes their job easier if it is hidden.
Secondly humanity is of course flattered by supposing themselves to be rational humans. the Abstract category is then appealing as it allows us to claim we are kings of our own minds at least. We get then to be boss in theory....
Thirdly due to lack of alternatives. for those who reject oppression and rule by blood, humanity is the only apparent alternative hypothesis. It sticks because no one has an alternative view point - that is when all is said and done we would rather invent a human and then undermine that thought (which was abstract) and submit it to an whole range of different micro tortures (pulling this nature hither and thither) than actually pull individuals apart. a sentiment that is absolutely sound
Finally it is a mistake to understand the life and death of humanity as things apart. The system that is robust is the hypocracy itself- which undermines and propagates humanity. A system of shiny beads, abstract liberality and material prosperity and occasional choice: a fun in the hypocracy of pretending one has power while one has actually surrended it, while one feels smug in relation to the rest who do not have this thing, this freedom you have. an entire package of delightful delusion and cod morality that is very durable.
The realization of the death of man becomes then a political rally cry- a demand that we jolt out of the abstract and tittilating politics of today, a politics that has ushered greater poverty and great wealth, more slaves and yet less slavery - great plagues and yet also cures to plague, and endless little hypocracy and lip service to a justice actually no one believe in (if believe is to be defined by action at last). We must then allow abstract humanity to die - murder him - morn and move one, so free ourselves from the meaningless trap of cod humanity we caught in. that is Foucalt real gambit here. an idea that has not dated or lost its power. we need to kill 'MAN' we need to find other song to sing - and yet the problem still lies where to find them ( A problem Foucault was worming one when he died thirty years ago or so)? The Death of man is coming- but can we make it matter, make it significant or will be like the deaths of god protracted and eternal- and catch all in its endless restaged and pointless little drama?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The triumph of the Medieval

It is one of the odd features of modernity- we appear to find ti very hard to out think fundamentally medieval power structures (this was originally Marx's idea).
At the core of government, but also any oraganization lies the court - and its attendant laws of petioners. That is there is a small inner circle, distinct in all likehood from either any pretense of meritocracy, or from the official poistion. This magic circle controls the access to the monarch - and controls it is both direction. And this access matters as the monarch is the personhead where rules change. to now and to influence the monarch is then power. Away from this charmed person there lies the humdrum of rules imposed so as not to incur either blame or extra work, by endless officials (who as they are a part of its charmed circle have no real interest in their jobs). Officials then enact what they think is royal policy, while the king alone is free to break and rewrite that policy.
The sate becomes about who one knows. The state becomes about the difference between what the centre is doing and what is actually happening on the ground where the rules are actually applied, sometimes in impossible situations). The world of the court and the world of it officials are then distinct -are kept so, for the rulers semi-dive aspect is linked in to their separation from reality.
the age of democracy never then lost this model, it merely exploded it across the state - so that schools, hospitals, dental practices whatever became versions of the court. The Court everywhere promotion is looped into favour, and power and personalities then merge.

The second medieval organ that is everywhere- is of course the free market. That is, the very feudal idea that there existed beyond the normal rules of the king a zone, a square where mammon was king. that is where one could trade and define prices as one saw fit, without hinderance from other powers. Markets were then bound by restriction, and pitched into towns as one of their hubs. A model we have taken of course and transfigured across the globe. we indulge in endless transactonins in the name of this little piece of medieval thought. We still then think of that little market square with ti simple rules and transparent prices. a little piece of cod imagination that of course that blinds us to the illegallities and idioces of the system. Markets are like that we cite as holy law- and always have been since medieval times...
A fact that conviently ignores the fact that we like our ancestors need to impose the market. they built squares, we legal regulation without which no market could or would exist. Markets are then not natural (even when they are historical): they are man made artifices like many others. we have then the power to change them and always to regulate them differently. the fact then they are corrupt is not merely a force f nature a necessary evil of the market place- or it is is then it is an evil which we have created for itself in the oddity of our regulation of those markets, and our imposition of them upon the world.
linked then to the market are its two medieval corolllaries . Firstly market is of course festival - a festival that creates an excess and the gambling that expresses it. Around any market there exists then a welter of gambling joints and casinos - all then the futures market or hedge funds or whatever. more than that we have in recent times bought even these gambling strategies write into everyones home. buy gas has become also a game of pokers, both from the big energy prices (who speculate of the price) and for ourselves (who gamble on the companies, and what our fellow citizens do). gaming then and the free market run together, and confuse each other - on the best traditions of our forefathers.
The second aspect of the market that developed was of course the guilds. Given the court does not control the market- league of traders could or could influence it or perhaps just gain power in supplying it. Merchantisms is then tied to the very independence of the market from the monarchy- an independence that created and creates new possibilities for power.

The third deeply medieval practice of modernity is the romance will still link to soldiers and what they do The process then of killing (for whatever reason) is romanticised,for they are killing , and dying in our names. they must then be our knights in armor, and we there damsels. We must then do our part are they bleed. well maybe (although i can do without the B-movie gloss.. Certainly death on any side in war is always a tragedy. the problem is though that our romance of knights and being the good guys do not at any point avoid this tragedy. on the contrary we modern crusaders go off and look for it- as indeed the knight of the round table had to do. War and knights then go together as does excess militiry spending and modernity.

finally we are clearly in the process in Britain at least of renovating tyrant great medieval institution the church. or in its modern form the Charity- a charity that has its own structure (and court), independent of the state,with it own specialisms and responsibilities. More than that it own very strong ethics, which sweeps up its workers, ensuring they work for less that the market rate, and is then expects to resonate within its would be client. The churc or the charity is never then merely a neutral organization, but rather has its own ethical politics, a politics that of course cuts both ways. i might help and harry the power or the ill in equal measure, but it surely will also look upwards to to the state and critiques actions. The experiment then of expanding charity, and hoping that it can take the place of the state will change the game of state aid. Getting it will certianly be harder, and possibily linked to shame and living of the parish (good old Parish Beagles). - but at the same time, these parishes are unlikely to remain very silent. /they will of the contrary have an ethic and opinion of their own, that will critique the government as well as the power. And the only way the government can limit that critique is to expand and change t meet it. That is to take on the ethics of the charity -which lead us to many places, only so desirable, while others really do start to feel like Oliver Twist (where the problems of this system are mercilessly exposed).

Medieval thought never dies, it merely became transfigured - so that its transubstantiation shines through so much we are and do - let us hoe it is up to the complexity of our times for we sure as hell do not have any other models...... sorry to fail you Marx

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Jordan and the Styx

If time flows, if only in our popular understanding of it - then we are all caught, apparently in rivers, taking us...
Rivers that are mythological - and figurative.
rivers that clearly come in two forms.

First there are rivers such as the Jordan - or Rubicon - rivers that form a boundary one has striven towards, rivers that when one crosses everything is meant to change.
Such rivers essentially mark the end of a quest - where everything all of life in some form or other was resolved into a single (if sometimes complex task). the Charasmatic forces of the wor(l)d cry -just do this and it will all be OK - just get here, or just think that. and the world will be a better place: Reach this gaol we cry and everything really ought to change its form and nature.
The river marks then the boundary- the moment one grows up or enters the community of ones equal - for which as often as not read, the moment that one stops being of interest to everyone else-one becomes merely a member of the club, and not somehow special or to be supported. It is the moment then one is simply dropped by the world - or becomes like everyone else.
We in the west ram democracy as the pancea, the on size is all solution down the throats of other nations. democratize and you will be like us, we cry - for it is reason and the end of history. a ludicrous vainglorious viewpoint we strut at each other.
the result of course being that counties with widely different traditions, histories local customs, takes on authority are knocked into the simple single nation-sate as democracy take of reality. Countries then that have no reason beyond colonial accident to exist, are then treated in the same way as countries with thousands of years of history- all are meant to conform and democratize.
And when things go wrong - as external Gods have a habit of doing hen the chosen folk dissapprove, we blame them; we do not then blame ourselves or the idiocy or arrogance of what we are trying to do - we blame them - with our one size fits all principle. We make then our aid depend of moves our way - so that charity becomes merely another pulling the journey.
A journey with what goal? Once the democracy appears to exist, we do not really care (we do not allow ourselves the position to care). the system can be then hopelessly corrupt, or the province of big oligarchies (which is the case with us anyway near enough) - or whatever.
More than that by democracy we mean of course that we have the right, or our countries do to pry open other sates, to force them to behave, and to ell their resources,or regulate their currency as we want. by democracy we meant then the sate is opened to our particualiar incarnation of tenchology-capitalism-oligarchy arrangement. we want then to give them milk and homey, but only on own own terms....
Democracy marks then the watershed- democratize we scream at other areas of the world, so that we may then 'share' with you what we have. a sharing which always risks us simply going into the open society and rodgering them good and proper. a process which our worthy talk of democracy, and the quest for freedom effectively ignores.
We send others on a quest to find the(our) selves, and then reward them with possession.
The jordan - the promised land - creates then a quest for a single goal- that is always rather different once one has crossed it,and never as simple as one would like. it creates then a single history and a thread to create a new(ish) type of colanalism within.

The styx by contrast is a river, which seals of a kingdom, making it different and singular. The kingdom of the dead - a closed land form which their is no returning once one is there - in which all is caught.
What else is modern politics
One gets elected and it feels like a great right of passage- a moment that everything can change should change- one crosses the styx, which is a mightier river than the Jordan. and then what happens?
One is sealed within the limited kingdom of the dead- and can only do 'dead' things. That is everything en does is judged by the rules and logic of the system, the land in which one now is.
One started a missionary from the land of sense and yet to yield power in a world of checks and balances one becomes a politician, and only able to do political things (and nothing more).
Alternatively in the name of freedom and limiting the power of government, one performs a massive power grab and destroys local democracy.
one always does what one doe not want- a s the dead make one own ideas live in them differntly from how one oneself might wish. Ones power- what one does the ceases to be anything one controls- in the dead's games of chinese whispers - in their muttering in the dark. To have crosses the styx, is to have one policies enacted by ghouls, who are dead to ones own idea, and yet apparently free to use the ideas and spout the language one uses, in their own way.
More than that what will be eventually judged by posterity by the Gods or Minos or whoever, not by ones own dreams but rather through the effect of these ghouls and zombies- it is their action that leads to ones judgement, and not ones hopes and dream. One becomes then the king of the dead for a while - and ones one life after death is defines in and through that kingship and never by the quality of ones own soul (however strongly one wants that to be the case). To be a good leader is then to be able to ride the twisted muttering of the dead - to apparent easy success. It ceases in any sense o be anything personal and useful.
it ceases then to be anything a living monarch can own or request.
ons real power then is lost with life, on the other side of the styx.

Two rivers of time the sweep us all along- and up up in tense we have no control over - and powers we do not want or need...

Monday, November 8, 2010


It is one of the hidden assumptions under traditional capitalism - you possess a thing, then in a rough and ready way, you own it too.
One paid for it, and then that was done - one had it.
And everything was meant to conform. there products that no one can possess like experience - one still could own a package (and so gain rights to possess a memory.
The loop was not absolute: There is a layer of capitalism (shares) and society (nations) where one was expected to own what one did not possess. This relationship was ok and funded myriad things) The trouble was the other way around. possessing what one did not own - was a form of borrowing or stealing, or family right or perhaps social control - and almost always an issue
But starting with the tape- and even more with the computer- it is clear that this simple this second relationship has clearly become a power in the land- a power that can reckon its might against conventional capitalism
We expect to poses thing we do we do not own - and have done since the tape player. and yet modern technology makes this relationship so much complex. Firstly we can very share the possession; indeed the logic of not own is that all must share...Secondly it is no longer clear at which point rights of ownership actually manifest themselves. that is at which point some one can wrap up an image and use it to sell products. Nor are the rules of what is owned and whatnot at all stable. one the contrary, we programes, new application are endlessly being unwound to create different forms of ownership and possession.
New internet companies googles or facebooki or Amazon etc) exist not only in flogging product but more in defing new ways to possess things, differnt ways they might be and new possibilities of somewhere in the system a role for a traditional money making) form of owning. Even if this last point is merely the fact hat peoples are seeking to possess product - they do not own, and therefore are open to be advertised at...
Each company then as its own economy of owning and possession want it owns, what others do or no one does, and what it allows one to possess. regulation becomes problematic, and simplification impossible - for there is always a new product, defining new relationship up and coming.
a challenge is then put down to all traditional companies and states. Most heavily it falls on those companies be they mail order concerns or whatever that have been traditionally rather like what the internet provides. They will have to adapt to the new shifting world of possessing but not owning, or be moribund. But the burden is always clearly being felt deeply by the state, which feels it ought to somehow contain in some form of ownership (and so responsibilty) the myriad possession of the internet opens up. It wants then to build ownership into the system- to make some one own something somewhere and at some point.
But also it is clear that the sate is suffering from its own crisis of confidence about both what it ought to own, and what merely possess (it does not need to own the infrastructure; and whether it really needs to possess things at all - maybe owning them, and so defining broad policy, not individual local regulation and goal, is the thing....
Ownership and possession has ceased to be simple or predictable- and is rather now clearly emergent. New rules are constantly created, new patterns, what by the time we get used and start to think in term of the old system once again warp and change their natures. The old rules and the capitalism that went with it, is coming in certain places inoperable. The game will then be whether this cancer spread across the entire system, or whether it is kept in the one place. If the former happens the entire edifice of capitalism wobbles on its foundation. Infinite blood and money is likwly to be shed to keep prevent the spread occurring.
What fun- one might say darkly.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

part 3:

It is very clear we voters over value our votes - and the power they ought to bring.
There is nothing really wrong with that.
We have been told after all that we matter, that we govern our country - this is a democracy.
All of which is very well. but there are an awful lots of us doing a lots of very different things without agreeing much. or rather the one thing we can agree on is blaming leaders if things go wrong.
no wonder then politicians take individual voters vote cheaply. it does not matter much - for votes (like money) matter only onmass. One needs then to talk to mass (and a relative mass at that - all i need is more than you - in certain places).
We are caught then in the agony of a system that others are valuingn their votes, just as they are devalued in th esystem - probably in part in reaction to this fact.

Why government is impossible - part 2

The trouble is our laws have slipped from case law to issue law.

the trouble is that it is very easy to define issues.
They are created by moral crusades, by they ones that arise in long term problems or else short reaction to particularly gruesome crimes, or else whipped up moral panics.
Something must be done echoes constantly in all these struggles.

we just not be ignored.
The campaigners revel in their power, in their struggle, in their feeling of comraderie - which is fine - nothing like a good protest.
The trouble is that we then end up with laws that were made in reaction to unique circumstance and are not workable in other times or places.
The entire point then of law is lost in the welter of dangerous dogs, and closed sable doors.
th Current government by witch hunt (almost all tory policies appear to start life in the Daily mail 'bogus group)' - makes for popular decisions, but laws that not only unjst but also founded on fiction and lies. Problems the are endless made up and simplified as we all get increasingly distressed.
The trouble is then we need to live the the extremely complex effects of these simplification - and the laws they make......

Why government is impossible -part 1

1) Tricky capping jobs:
the country is absolutely full of impossible decisions.
Impossibilites come in so many many forms and shapes - there are moral social, an economic impossible decisions. Decisions that either cannot be called (but have to be made), or else ones that that can only be called after they have been made.
That is decisions that everyone will know the answer from the very magic land of hindsight and judge one by.
more than that these decisons have to be poured into a political system where ones fate is judged every so often from a combined set of mythic lands- hindsith, hope and comfort.
It is no wonder then that government actually cannot make these calls. Know one could.
All they can do is decide the parameters in which the debate and the ineventiable errors occur. That is they can define whether the problem is an excutive or free market one (or one to ignore and lambast). The point is genuine - for these decisions will define not merely the initial choice but the reaction to it, and the almost ineventable (and some level) disgruntlement that follows that choice.
The point of quango (or the free market) is then that they are an open end fall guy.
But the point them also is that they define the opposition to them - othering together otherwise disperate masses in strange alliances. For. for democracy to function the most important thing is always to manage the opposition and keep otl visible, and complex. it must then always form, if not a rival party, at least an organization that political parties can court (and not destory themselves).
Impossible choices then get capped with frameworks that define political life. a fact that really not made the decisions any easier or anymore likely to to good, but does allow for

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Case 4: The power of the future.

4 : Legislating for the Future.

To live in a torrent of technological change is to challenge so many existing systems of power. Economic system, state, broadcasting companies, all feel they ought to have something to say- have some redress to the world of technology. It ought to be made somehow to reflect their very real power; More than that their power ought to be augmented by it is some way. After all, the appeal goes – they are the natural powers of the land. And yet of course powers are not simply asserted, they u need to be earned and generated constantly and all the more so in a shifting world of technology. And the problem these traditional powers have is always how to assert themselves. The problem is of course that their ‘real’ powers look rather out place in the new media. Broadcasting companies find it then had to assert their rights of selection and ownership. The economic system finds it hard to conjure the difference between the economic and the real world in money. The recent crash was in part because they thought the technology was going to drive the system – and obliviate the power of real money – real land - a mistake that very nearly took the entire finical system with it. Finally states are caught up endless trying to regulate a constantly changing world, and design systems for a moving target. Whatever a states does then appears to be wrong (as the world will have moved on before it gets the chance to act).
Moreover this failure is a very real one. It matters. It is after all part of the myth of a state and their assertions of power than they are adequate to every challenge. It is the role of states then to be able to assert a certain form of power over their citizens and the wider world. And failure so to do matters therefore, for it risks putting into some kind of question the entire rational of states in the first place. States then would rather get heavy – rather be oppressive than let the matter slide. But it is not that simple. For the trouble with new technologies is that one has to legislate for what has not yet happened. The trouble of course being that if one waits for the crimes and then legislates, one will have to play endless and pointless catch up. What the lawyers in parliament then end up doing is creating portmanteau criminalities. General laws, that it is hoped, will be applied to the worlds as it changes and evolves. Laws are then passed that grow into their oppression, and grow slowly.
At which point two further factors kick in. new technology is of course not simply about computers. It is rather then fact that if one increases the numbers and kinds of links between people, the one increases what small group of individuals can do or plan. Individuals are in constant and regular contact with one another- and so both enforce one another’s feelings and plan. What is more they have the know-how and the technology, on tap to find out how to do something about that oppression. A world where disgruntled teenagers can be refracted into genuine terrorists is a terrifying one indeed. Secondly it goes without saying that any general law, always gets miss used and warped in a myriad of ways. Parliament passes the legislation just in case, and then it gets taken up by criminal lawyer and made into something. It becomes a monster – animate and changing in its own rights, and there is very little anyone can do about the fact. The same general laws then one needs to restrict to enforce the power of the state of new technology, are laws which when applied in the real world increase rather alarming what a state can do, and who it can monitor. Nor of course are these two facts unrelated. The problem of technology for a state is that in part, it creates endless new echo chambers for the prejudices for citizens. Grumbles can then be echoes into real grievances in such chambers – making so much of the population a potential threat. And the state, feeling its responsibilities very heavily, acts the only way it knows how. It monitors us all, and justifies itself for so doing.
The threat to the state here is a real one. Nation states are not a natural state of affairs. They were created in the welter of a certain set of historical events, and will only remain a political reality as long as they can master those events. Their very reality is then put in question by technology. It is no wonder then they passes paranoid legislation. That is it is no wonder those individuals who have poured their beliefs and channelled their dreams into the powers and the sovereignty of the nation (politicians and Bureaucrats) can only look askance as their power melts ways. It is then only natural they resist, and resist they do a resistance that has clearly warped (and is warping) so much of our recent poltical history.
There appears a kind of rule, where a state attempts to imposes a fourfold axis of powers, general and specific upon technology. This axis then asserts general and specific rules at the level of both the individual, but also the ‘citizen’ (that is the person caught up in the state). These rules are designed on the one hand to police, but also to explain and so control the emergent technologies. That is behind these four rules are the twin heads of the need to control what is there and the desire to have some input on what is developed.
The most critical of these factors in recent times had been the emergence of terror. The terror wars need realistically to be divided into four rather distinct elements (which the get very confused). First there are the real outrages that have occurred (for whatever reason). The outrages certainly have links to one another, and to a wider sequence of injustice – how could they not in a connected world- But actually are home-grown, and independent and self contained: A far more worrying thought. Secondly there is a sequence of wars which again are loosely linked together, but that link is not obvious or simple. The very fact we are fighting might be enough. Thirdly (and most critically in the context to the rest of this essay), there is the fact that the state endless is up against in these wars its lack power, and its failure to keep us safe. It is therefore up against how modernity is limiting its powers, and is so constantly. It response then in these terror wards is always the same – to greatly expand what it is aloud to do to its potentially rebellious citizens (this might be pretty well - all of us). It then looks to expand its powers to monitor, to arrest, and its right over our bodies (torture). Finally looping all these together is a threadbare myth of terrorism and global threat
The conflict itself that is the main symptom of this was has in had its own twofold effect. Firstly it defines the sense in which the state has arrived in the world of technology, We turn around and the state is their, policing away, asserting is rights in he name of nation security- a rights we are all want to agree with (how can we not). Secondly in the best Foucault traditions, there is something happening here. Unrest is being given a name and a career. Al Queada might not be a shadowy spectre like organization, but if people belief it is, they will invent it in their disgruntlement accordingly . They will look to it, and its organizers, to develop their anger. From which will develop little terrorist carriers terrorist do certain things- go certain place- and so become discoverable. The potential open ended threat of a population is then directed in a certain reaction. Those who are going to be a problem become findable. Invading Iraq and Afghanistan might have then increased the likelihood of home grown terrorists, but more critically it meant that terrorism understood itself in terms of a certain struggle, and behaved accordingly. It became then findable. The Terror wars then always not only the state to conjure new places to be, but also creates a new individual, the career terrorist, to monitor and control.
The terror that underpins the war is real enough. The state is terrified- for it is up against the limit of its power. This same terror of the other – of people, beyond the nations order, who we no longer can segregate as we did, of course translated into a population as something rather different. It becomes that old quasi-racist quasi-real and always queasy fear of migration. That is the population starts (not totally unreasonably) to assume it is about to be taken over by the other and that it way of live is being undermined. The trouble of course is that the fear in a sense is right. A global world does undermine our way of life, by making the world too complex to support it. That is we lose the rights to certain jobs, or to easy wealth or to use of history to strut around the world stage. All of that is gone- and with it so much of how we have understood ourselves for at least sixty years. Our way of living is, in a sense undermined. And yet of course we can do nothing about that fact. What is more we would not simply stop it, even if we could. We would not turn back the clock and unmake cheap products or improved information exchanges. All we can do then is blame someone else, and then go looking for the offender. Migrants and asylum seekers, who are in their own way also victims of the same process, and then simply there- a visible symptom o the problem and viable culprit for the paranoia we feel (and media stoke to make a profit).
The result is then of course a population that warped in its own way by new technology. It feels its jobs fly way to other parts, and new folk arrive. It naturally then blames the new folk (who are foreigners after all) for taking the jobs those other foreigners took. It then naturally looks to then state to DO something about it. A request that is utterly unreasoning, and yet natural. A request that moreover the sat feels it needs o look as if it was doing – if no other reasons that to prove it still have purpose and validity. Looking after the border, and protecting the borders, are after all the kind of things, the territory that states need to exist in. The result is then a shadow world, where we mind one thing, blame another and the state is caught needing to act.
However technology clearly challenges not merely states but individuals. Here there is a clear and concerted attempt but the powers that be, to make us worry about our electronic individuality. The facts here are complex. Fraud does exist and is certainly real, and nasty. There is always then a chance that one will be ripped of by individuals elsewhere. One needs then in the form of passwords and encryptions enforce some kind of identity (that is have same means to demonstrating it is really you- be it fragments of personal history, or elaborate names). And yet this risk is very to exaggerate. All the more so by a state that even more than we do, wants was to have fixed identities as we do in the actual world. For of course once we do have such identities then the entire apparatus of the state can be bought to bare upon the individual. Once we are riveted down, and made simple again, the state knows what, and trace who is doing what, and will get to recreate its power in the virtual world, and it fixed citizens. The state needs us all to behave ourselves, so it can regulate properly.
In effect there it is clear we are one of those moments history here. We have a choice. To accept an identity it to accept the state’s regulation over a medium that has been free up to now. One then gets the protection of the state, by agreeing to its protectionist terms, and paying ultimately its protection money. We allow it then to once again the biggest bully on the block, and to the one we need to pay and obey. Or we could not we could accept the risk, and revel in the freedom (or more realistically find other ways to protect ourselves). The state then wants us to be afraid here. It needs our fear to give itself purpose. A story that will run and develop.
Finally, on the personal, but now on a more general level, states are clearly rethinking their role. If organization is happening for free on the internet, then it is clear a state can change some of what it can do. or at last it might be able to. For it is true that the internet can allow us to-do something states do. (if we can be bothered). The trouble is of course that it is not clear exactly that it can do everything. or perhaps better, it can only do everything if we can all be persuaded to behave on line as we do in the real world. We need then to be that online big society. Capable of getting on with it ourselves, of organization ourselves, while the state or the powers that be look on with reflected glory. At least with this ‘idea’ –If it merits the term, does get the fact that the states role is changed . The trouble is it merely then off loads that role on a bewildered population that probably does not want to do it. The result is then rather to predict., and may well of course lead is to re-inventing the state in gratefully relief.
This essay started with a real problem. How does a state deal with the fact that is power is no longer fixed or certain? Can it legislate for that fact. Can it expand into the void, and force us to realize its power? - a method which has been tried and failed. All it produced was a society state that had to ignore exactly the civil liberties that had been is crowning glory. The mirror alternative is now being tried state suddenly draw back, and we are left to get on with it – or at least to feel the void that opens on our world without state help. The trouble with method is that in all like hood, it will remind us why we have states in the first place, namely that they allow us all to be part of the same basic narrative. It new then withdraws them not only will the effect be very different in differing parts of the country but how we understand that difference will be different, leading to social unease (if not unrest). In short no solution. The problem is after all not whether we do or not do without states but rather how to do we change them, to make to allow them to be relevant in a new world, a change that might be profound (it might mean we sacrifice nations), is necessary, and yet we not as yet minded to do.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Freedom alliance

Case 3: The free alliance.

It is a strange fact about our Democracy that it has not thrown off the shackles of its eighteenth century and pompous roots. I mean as a method not have too many internal wars, and not have too much torture, and occasionally to shed one government and get another, or Democracy is fine. And one suppose it is always better to have vaguely open method for entering the ruling classes that is not military. One is still governed by small cliques, but no one really dies getting into power. Likewise it has always been democracies proudest boast that it at least allowed free speech. Or perhaps better it allowed one to say anything but would usually (unless it made commercial sense) ignore the result. There has been a recent caveat hereof course. We do not ignore the result if you are a Muslim and what you say is what we call the extremist side at which point we tend to persecute the name of what might be then.
All of which are fine pragmatic reason for supporting democracy. The trouble is that it justifies itself not on these but on an absolutist claim to be the one best (or least worst) system. In the name of this claim we wage wars (endlessly). More than that we assume that we have right to fight all other ‘non- democracies (whether we choose to do it or no), on the grounds they are somehow not valid. More than that we like o claim that when we have fought and defeated their regimes, a democracy will simply and naturally flourish (a faith in this thought/hope is on of the more beautiful things in creation).

The reason for this faith is of course simple. It lies in recent(is) experiences. Firstly in the experience of the twentieth century, that saw democracy, with is ally in commercial capitalist see off all rivals. The looping together of political and desire freedoms then saw off any other model. And yet there as no reason why these two have to be linked together. A fact China noted and learnt from. All that can be said about the hooping together of capitalism and democracy is that it happened the once; and that it is clear (as Marx – who is the real theorisation the liberals are unconsciously drawing upon here), pointed out that all capitalism need a fairly complex social order. This is because they need an order which is capable of responding to the very dynamic society, full of torrents and change, and complexities of unfairness (who has and does not have the money). Capitalism wealth breeds complex societies, which are very difficult to govern.
More than that one might actually suggest capitalism undermines any government system, by making the society so complex every system looks either hopeless inept, or powerless or merely corrupt. And in this progression to political dissolution (and conceptual if not actual anarchy) democracy is the last system to be undermined. It is the one that it is easiest at times to defend. The reason here is that it is here it actually does do (to a fairly limited degree) what it says that it does. That is it allows other voices into capitalism. Voices that pull one away from a complete capitalism that would let the poor starve. A move that can then in the name of nation sovereignty and global organization impose some kind of limit upon the market. The problem of course is that as capitalism has grown this limit, even in the face of massive economic melt down had become very hard to impose. This is the time that state should triumph over the failed market. And yet it does not Indeed the bankers in the form of the credit agencies and a worry about the deficit seem to have triumphed. They caused the crisis and not then benefit form it. Traditionally then democracy was the last place certain non capitalist values would lied. It provided a rhetoric for the non-market part of society Its sole role was then to allow this rhetoric to articulate itself in a very complex capitalism shifting world.
However it is very easy to over estimate democracy. It was always associated with another great legacy from our history – namely nationalism. Nationalism (France and even more Russia) provides the other great refuge from capitalism (this time with a rightwing tendency). It then allows nations o minimise their democracy and maximize the power of their nation state to do things. A model that clearly is very much alive in Russia . The difference perhaps (ns it is only suggestion) between these two model is that the nationalism root is the one nations end to follow (or ought to follow) if they have large amounts of mineral resources an little else. Russia then makes sense as a nation; Scots nationalism was made by Oil, and the separatism of the Niger Delta people was inspired by oil. Mineral wealth tends to bred local or regional chiefs, and nationalism is the ideology that spins that chieftanhood out into a moral philosophy (it is better that the Democratic Republic of Congo model).
Democracy (but also Nationalist) triumph then lies in their ability to survive the sheer complexity and shifting identity of capitalism. They do to a degree hide something from capitalism. And yet they do not really understand their role in this manner. On the contrary they take as the rhythm the far higher destiny o somehow being the end of human history. Critical of course in this move is the idea of freedom. Freedom with a capitalism matters because it is the alchemy that allows something to happen, for both democracy and nationalism. Both of these system represent two slightly different attempts (Enlightenment and Romantic) to jump upon the name freedom, and to attempt to breed a single idea looping capitalism to a political system. That is the point of democratic freedom is that it breeds a connection between certain political rights which are often rather limited in their scope and power and commercial rights ,which crosses the globe; The individual and its company are both free, and free in the same sense. We both can speak our minds and say what we think. The fact that the firm is a global multinational with vast resources and I well just me, does not matter, for we are all fee now, and should be listened. In effect freedom justifies the global monopolies of free speech by the said large powerful companies.
There is however a caveat here, For freedom clearly provides and escape clause. In that there is nothing stopping large scale organizations based upon the idea of freedom springing up in nations to rival large companies. There is nothing stopping it, well save finance? As a rule such large organization need money to organize, and so need some kind of commercial support. A fact the internet may change .If this is so, then it is plausible that this freedom will become more valid. And yet given the sheer welter of information that the same technology that creates the internet also creates, this change is only possible at a cost. The cost is that actual freed debate ( which is was the eighteenth century actually eulogies) is lost under the welter of information. The only way then to get an opinion across is to howl loudest and longest and simplest. Even if then information allows one to magnify voices, the voice that magnifies is not the impassioned reasoner that the model thought as its basic citizen, so much as the mob it always hated., Ironically then the eighteenth century pursuit of freedom, and the idea of a freedom looping individual with state and company, will (possibly) aid most that very individual the said eighteenth century rationalist feared most the rabble raiser.
Freedom then created a single political axis linking individual with capitalism and state. It was the word that made this link possible- or perhaps better demanded it. Freedom came the Gear that allowed modernity to function in our minds. And yet their was from the early nineteenth century always another possibility. Another route into freedom. This was the romantic root, that tied freedom to a landmass, and so to a nation. to be free was then to be a freeborn citizen of a place a nation. It was then to be able to participate in being that nation (whatever that meant) and enjoying it fruits. This freedom then pitched nations against capitalism organization It has the immense advantage then of implying organization traditionally large enough to manage capitalism, and limit it in some sense. and yet it necessarily also imposed limited upon that freedom, the limits of borders. Freedom became then even more multi-faceted. A nations freedom was to in the name of a higher freedom able to limit capitalism within borders, without compromising its nature over much. More than that it was (in capitalist states at last) at least as much a part of the nations duty to protect freedom to trade and so protect the ‘nations wealth’. More than that the exchange was a real one, as a nations freedom as directly proportionate to its power, and its power traditionally pivoted around its ability to produce wealth – that is its capitalist roots. From which it flowed that a nations power need capitalism, and need not then to piss it off too much. The only exception was of course those mineral rich countries, where the capitalism need the resource too much, as was prepared to bend over backwards to get it. Nation states then both opposed and protected capitalism.
And yet of course all these limiting factors where in a sense of little or no importance. nor was the fact the fact that the system was assumed to be temporary by the most influential of thinkers (h assumed nations would not survive in the face global competition), all that matters was the politicians and people bought the myth, that is they carried on in the rallying call of freedom pretending that nation, democracy and economic freedom where all much of a muchness. That one really could not tell then apart. The unstable dynamic this claim fashions has then been a driving force for last 150 or so, it lead to the creation of empires and commonwealths, and the destruction of rainforests, and the hypocrisy of the west to take what it can whenever it likes , and to feel good about itself, and its own liberal values, in the process. The west has then driven the freedom bus very hard, and used it to triumph (or at least to understand its triumph, and make it look moral)
But far more than that it has of course used it as an excuse to fight war it wants, always in the name of freedom, and create new governments as it chooses. Nor does not matter if the government it creates barely function (or did not function at all), For at least they were founded upon ‘freedom’. Any action even up to genocide was acceptable in this higher cause. Blood was then spilled in ‘foreign countries’ , and the inhabitence of these other lands were blamed for that spill. It happened we were told because the people had not accepted the rivet of freedom that is they had not yet learnt how freedom combines its three pillars together (as we learnt). The blood and death was somehow then apart of the learning experience That is it was a part of their coming around to our way of thinking. Well maybe. But there is a tendency even now (when we assume the west triumph) to try other systems first. What else are the Maoist guerrillas in Nepal or more successfully Hugo Chavez (although he rides in the name of socialism, a resource based nationalism wave – and so is not so very different – hence perhaps his success). Other voices the do occur, and will occur, and there is no guarantee then the blood will lead to the shotgun marriage of freedom we in the west rather assume it will.
It also goes without saying that freedom at home is not a happy bunny. Or better it does not do what says it does (beyond certain very limited moves already noted) . I mean the windy rhetoric is all about the right to discuss and debate and the ability to choose government. And yet the rivet that holds the system together is rather abstract, and the powers that rivet create nebulous. government then tend to only be able to do certain things, impose certain limits or else bend to the capitalist will. This means that when people come to vote the arguments they are faced with are either necessarily highly technical or else (and this is the one that tends to work) very abstract in nature. We then tend to make political choice not based on the nitty gritty of real discussion but rather in terms of tribal loyalty and fairly abstract concerns – such as worries about immigrations (always more complex than the argument allows) or crime or a deficit of social disorder. The very parameters of our politics are necessarily of a very abstract nature, as the freedom that rivets the system together is necessarily nebulous and removed. Freedom then defines our society in terms of abstraction, an abstraction informing the entire way we can debate.
Freedoms power lies in its ability to be a rivet or gear. It is the point beyond all visible worlds, were capitalism, nationalism and democracy meet and bind together. It is point our freedom comes from, is then beyond all sight: It is the light of a meta-sun hidden always from view: The Platonic Good – perhaps. It is the old heaven writ large upon the world. It is then no wonder that others attempt at times to profess other faiths, or that the path to this one true heaven is so bloody. Crusades always are. The real problem though is whether the sheer overwhelming might of capitalism will impose this model upon the earth, one way or other. Or whether other systems will find different compromises with capitalism, that is other places beyond sigh that yet might meet with it and be one with it. Or else whether the world ecological system and the scientist who champion it trumps the entire argument about freedom first. Or finally our sheer current freedom of information on the internet might warp how we understand our freedom (it clearly is). The only thing we can absolutely guarantee is that whatever happens freedom as it currently understands itself will not go down without a fight. For fighting has always been is metier.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Seven Epochs of the Past

The Tense Collective Case two: Seven Epochs from the Past.

Personally I doubt it is true, that if you control a county or individuals history then you control their future. It strikes me the future has a habit of flying off the handle and developing its past any which way it wants. Likewise the first Seven years or months or whatever are no doubt vital years (but then so is every epoch of our life). What is I do not doubt that those years lay down the memories upon which we then draw for the rest of our lives. What I would debate is the predestination that would rivet certain memories to certain behaviour. On the contrary it always seems to me the it is more likely the needs of the future that dictat the memories that are retained and the effects they have. That is it is the here and now that makes me look back into my mind and dig up this memory – it is the future that makes the memory important or relevant. It is always then the future, which bring memory into play. The same event need not mean the same to both of us, or even to myself across time.
Possibly the best that might be said about ‘know they self’ (know the past ) type mantras is that they highlight the fact that certain futures are far harder to escape from that others. To not have one parent or to lose them or to be abused is to have in the world we inhabit to have a difficult hand. One lacks what others have and will need to make up the difference. That is one lacks some of the intricate subtleties (say the relations of parents to each other and to oneself), which one needs to remember, and build upon, as one works out what one is, and as one tries to have ones own life. To lack a history in society as rich as ours, is to necessarily be at a slight disadvantage. Which does not mean to say that anything necessarily follows from that set back. It remains at heart merely a probability and no binding certainty. More importantly what one lacks is actually rather subtle. Perhaps one might say it is not a lack so much as a lose of complexity. Relations between humans, lose a little of their sheer nuance, and are reduced by lack of experience into lightly (and the move is slight) base thoughts. Flirting becomes sex, and friendship destabilises involve whatever. One looses then a little of the bottom of the mind – or at least their is a tendency t do so.
What is lacking is any real binding power of the past. And yet this is not the way we want to think about it. On the contrary there is clear and marked tendency to look to the past to find strong narrative to bind the present with. One might understand this quest in two way. On the one hand this tendency to rummage around in what we wee for what we will become, is one of the ‘left overs’ of religion. We might not have faith in a God (who used to handle his kind of stuff, and do it probably much better). But we still like a good myth. The past our past or nations or species, real or imagined, the allows one a mythological base, a set of stories to comprehend the world by. On the other hand we are clearly wanting to use the past for overtly political reasons. We want to take a hodgepodge of differing thoughts and feels and capture them in a single past, with an implied future stuck upon it. The past then becomes a future grab. Or perhaps better a way of setting the present, so that it appears to imply one particular set of futures. The past then makes mystics and Fakirs of all of us!
Moreover the past we use is clearly not all of the same kind. We have clearly rather different epochs of the past, different ruses of capturing the present in past tale and implied future). Each sites of a certain kind of capture, which signed to make our lives just that little bit more easy, and our selves feel that little bit more clever in identify them, and ‘knowing the future’. In the rest of this essay will consider perhaps my 'favourite’ seven.
First and foremost of these motley Seven, in Britain least, is our current obsession with the ‘eighties’. For which read the last time one had a conservative government with a economic problem. No matter that this appeal to the past is clearly misplaced. The world has changed so very much in the last thirty years. Trade unions, the powers of the government and the individuals are simply different, and so there can be no straightforward comparison made; and yet this does not stop it being made. This does not stop the very idea of it being very convenient to politicians and pundits alike.
The politicians get a free plot line. Perhaps it started with Gordon Brown who wanted to prove that the Labour way of handling recessions was the right way. That is, he was going to show us why we should have followed the Labour party n the early eighties and not Thatcher. We lowered taxes, and allowed a deficient to grow. And yet in his appeal to he past, he forgot the world as it emerged after (and during) the Thatcher ears, a world which in spite of its clear failure, still lauded the free market and deficit reduction, and the credit agencies and banks who were its overlords. These overlords (IMF and all) howled and waffled in fury, and voters (remembering other promises Brown had made) simply, did not belief him. The result was of course that this plotline played into the troy plot line, that is was indeed a return of the eighties, and the Labour party has once again ruined the economy, and the Tories were once again going to safe the day. Union were again attacked (inspire of the fact that it was to their responsibility) and massive cuts in public spending announced, and the poor hit (in spite of the fact that their greed was only a very small part of the cause of the problem).
Likewise the eighties return of course flatters journalist and pundits. That is it supplies them with a simple Dog tag, ones most of us recognise and polarize around. On can then make prediction, and sell news, based on this appeal to the past. It makes commercial sense. Additionally the moment the spectre is raised then it works its polarizing magic. The contours of society start to pull with way and that. Different conflicts differing debates are set in the language of the eighties, the past is recreate in the present before fatalistic eyes. The past that might not repeat itself, but we can sure make it feel like it does. Finally this conjuration of the past has the advantage that it stops of having to worry about something. Tory government (or labour government) do expose different fractures in our society, fractures between poor and rich, drivers and non drivers etc at are actually rather worrying, and they lack all real reconciliation. These conflicts tare then wrapped up in the language of the past, in want of a solution and made palatable.
The second type of past that is doing the repeats, is far older tale, and one we all know. We all know - don’t you know- know what it is to have Brothers (well many of us do). More importantly we all know how bothers behave when the stake are high, and there is the quasi-mythic power of been prime minister at stake. The behave like Esau and Jacob or Cain and Able, they revert to elemental rivals caught in a passion of power; or at least they ought to rival the jealousies of childhood, thought in their fratricidal intensity, and so had to matter. The relationship between the Miliband Brothers in the transfigured into this old tale, and their slightest cross word becomes a sing for hidden jealous and power. Passion becomes the order of the day. The trouble of course hen is that others, the ‘allies’ of the political reveals gain by the conflict and magnify the conflict. A conflict that is all he more ludicrous because it is so one sided. It is the common fate of elder brother to be beaten by their younger one ( I for one was often outwitted by my younger brother, and outwitted my elder brother in turn). It happens, and one learns to deal with it ( I also felt fratricidal for other reasons, not because I was beaten, and dealt with that to)- life is like that!. It is of course different then being beaten by stranger, but different is neither fratricidal or essential domestic. It is then nothing to do with their mother. Standing in direct competition is difficult not doubt, and yet that difficult is likely to be very complex, and utterly irresolvable into the host of platitudes and archetypes the pundits want to foist upon it. The trouble of course is that once again the politics of a political parties risks being mythologies, and becomes the psychodrama of collective media fantasy. It is no wonder then that one brother hand to bow out.
The third main myth of the past we use and misuse of case studies and ‘lessons of history’ Such Pilot projects are very sensible in the realm of statistics, where one wants to always worry about the effect of asking questions. It also makes some kind of sense to trial a special policy. The trouble is of course that the very fact that on is doing a trial is usually enough to query the result r at least not make them representative. The knowledge that this is a trial and that we are going to be judged by it, makes it to represent what actually happens when the thing is unwound. Likewise if we look to the past of other nations and even our own past guide us to what will happen in the future, we invariably loose sight of the difference between then and now, as our brains get caught up in the joy of finding and inhabiting connections. We then want to relive the past or use somewhere else as the example and that is enough to strength the connection and affinity we feel, and blind us to the reality. The past becomes even as it is transfigured into a model or a norm, a dangerous and problematic friend. Torn as it is from the actual welter of experience that supported and created it, it becomes as a principle, always likely to be unstable and unpredictable (it might even be so much better than we thought).
Fourthly there is the domain of the Genetic and the appeals to a ‘biological story’. Genetic is clearly one of the great terminal points to thought in our society. There is an easy (and ultimately commercial) myth that finds a genetic cause is to uncover a truth. Our biological history is then riffled to learn things about our present and in the interest of making drugs). The great gap between imprints for certain protein molecules (which has all DNA allows), and actual behaviours is then drowned out in the song of hope and drugs. We turn then our behaviour into a matter of switches and histories, of predispositions and solution. We thereby ignore the clear fact that actually how the world is into within the small protein molecules falls matter probably more that the molecule itself. The ’Environment’ and the Gene are not then separate factors, but rather are caught together inn making ourselves. Solutions then are always more complex than this simply rummage through the draws of our collective biological (or sociological for that matter) past to find quasi-mythic one off switches. This is a fact that is not on most scientist, physical biological or social.
Fifthly it is cleat we endlessly draw upon the past for verity and certainty. If something feels like it has always been there, be that nation, or political party or fancy dress or whatever, we feel safe: it will always be there (in some form of other), and we can relax into the identity it allows us. The past then becomes the mythic point for identification with a land mass or a nation. Its very irreducibility becomes them political. To question the mythic the makes a state becomes seditious, and certain truth thereby become in effect sacred. Certain tawdry facts, or past conflicts, become the great lighthouses of centuries who draw upon the same events rather different). From which the sixth point follows, the past is then gloriously political. To rework what we think about Cromwell or Ludlow or to forget the influence of the great Earl of Shaftsbury, is in effect to make endless little complex statements about the politics of the present, and where one wishes to do with those politics. We then as a nation (or as the [people, our mythic past makes u out to be), use our history both identify and to challenge one another. We become what we are but also look to become something else through it.
Finally there is a clear problem when we do not realize how mythic this political posturing through the past really is. A mistake that has one take a very late Bronze age story, and set it up as ‘Gospel’. A move that then allows one to too easily assume the people who were the badge of these bronze age folk (for whatever reason rooted in the long history between then and now), are one and the same folk. What is more they have the same rights as the bronze age folk, the same land claim, the same wars and basic (in)justice. A claim made of course all the more urgent because the wearing the badge of the past has been associated with persecution in the West. We then assume it is right to support a land grab by a folk (who to put it kindly) have had no claim to a land mass to two thousand years or so, and what is more support it right or wrong. That is we support not merely the and grab but also the quests for water and farmland than followed upon from it (and made the piece of mouldering rock that is Historical chosen land) valid. In short we allow the persecution of the West to be moved out to the middle east, and the roles reversed (Arab who never persecuted Jews become now the victims), and for this to happen in the name of a past. It is then no wonder that bloodshed follows. In short we hit real problem, the minute we stop this game of the past being mythic. That is the minute we allow it far much reality.
The Past then overseas us, for it the land modern of myth and legend. We do not do Gods or even A god, and certainly do not belief fairy tales, but we do to the past. We can allow thoughts in the past that become difficult in the present. We use our pasts then to understand things we cannot gasp in (and about): or even use this myths and legends to set the present: Our historians are then whether they like it or not our modern myth makers and priests. The only problem is that the religion we thereby create need always to be seen fro what it is – myth, and not confused with vivid reality. The problem being that if the myths slips too far into assumed reality (which must be alright) it pulls a world that as changed and that is do different to the mythic world, violently in a way and complex direction. The past is a world vital to the myth makers, without whom politics would be impossible, and yet toxic to politics itself.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Tabloid present

The Tense collective: case 1; Media man.

Surely of the great creations of the last thirty years or so- and perhaps Thatcher’s most enduring and least endearing legacy is Tabloid-man. That is for the last thirty years or so the newspapers have been defining a ‘perfect citizen’ for Britain. A citizen that politically matters. for it is this citizen that politician crave to speak to. It is this citizen they assume is the one that they need to win over, and who if they displease they lose power. The tabloid-Man has become the Great political paradigm for our times. It serves the same role as economic man had tradition for ‘classic economics’. Such theoretical men form a rag bag of ‘known facts’ and cod psychology, that form basic assumptions about human behaviour, upon which then economical theory or political ideology is then built. Both men essentially define the Same Tense: Namely the logical present. That is they offer a simple rubric to reckon how any human will behave in any one time. It then offers a slide rule of how they reckon up what they know balance them of and come to a decision. In both case they are Men ‘in the act of making a decision’ in the present in. It is the world as the individual making the decision is conscious of it. It is the process or thoughts or rubrics they use or think that are using (the ones they are conscious of) in making that choice. The trouble of course is that this is a very brittle model, it assumes so much about human thought and human interaction, it assumes it is as reason and conscious would have it. Economic has grown past this assumption, but politics appears unable to move beyond it at all. All of which raises three question, e need to ask of this man of the present. Firstly we should how and why he gained such a power over our politics; secondly it is vital to look at the man and to attempt to see where he is leading us, and finally we need to worry about what is so wrong with this person of ours.
The power of Media-man is rooted in two accidents of history. Firstly there is a long-term claim about the role of the media in politics it is one of the political assumptions of our times, that we need a free, and therefore an unregulated media. Any attempt to regulate or limited excess is therefore seen as political censorship (and so bad.) All the state has a right to do is to ask the media to regulate itself, and that is it. The high argument of oppression of freedom and the rights of the mediator question where it is will (and the dangers of tyranny) is then used to justify page three girls and endless made up stories. The media are free therefore set free by high liberal ideals to pursue there own agenda, and to assume that they are asking the questions that matter, free to make up truth or to lie, and do so regardless of the consequence. Moreover if they are criticised on the ground of taste that other great eighteenth century themes can be bought to bear- That is the rejection of prurience in all its manifestations. To criticise media out put on the ground of taste is then to be a kill joy. Indeed the only bodies allowed to critic the media are then media themselves, who endless do it and do so in the name of short term advantage of market posturing; The media then critique one another in the hope of influencing politicians in their favour, is ok, but woe betide the politician who does it (unless of course thy are attacking the poor of BBC which is fair game). The media have then take the high argument, that legend about the roots of all our freedom, and high jack it for their owner rather short term political and economic purposes, making. It thereby comes impossible to critique their tasteless and pathetic output without critique democracy itself.
The second historical accident goes back to the politics of the late eighties and early nineties, where a horrific campaign was run by tabloids journalists against the Labour party in Britain. This party was then portrayed as never being able to do anything right, and being almost a standing joke. This campaign, which was extreme then took the credit for the repeated Tory victories. A move that may in part have been true. But what is certainly the case is that it has gone in political legend as the case it has become the almost impossible if one is a politician to speak against the media without having this nightmare raised before ones eyes. A threat that in a sense is sense confirming. For if all the parts of the state (including the media) assumes that a politician is doomed if risk the ire of the media and behave according, then that politician is of course almost certainly doomed. Or at least they will be until eventually (and in the end it will happen) a politician arrives who wins an election in the face of the tabloid howl, and so breaks the charm. This last point almost happened last time, where the chosen one Cameron did not win. However the fact that he ended up as prime minister ultimately confirmed the charms power, and made it still hold true.
This long terms political legacy grab and short term power grab, form the backdrop to the role of the media in our society. It matters not that they are logically contradictory. The Eighteenth century claims about liberty absolutely did not include the power of the media to make or break election. The point they were making as about truth and reason, and not merely the rights of one group of society to call political reality. However what really confirms the media in their powers is something rather different. What is hidden from citizen is essentially what a weird job being a politician is. A career that stats in the weirdness of a political campaign where one is forced to confront all kinds and sorts of people and attempt to exhort a vote from them. It then goes to take the victorious and maroons them in the hot house environment of parliament, where ones actions are endlessly reported, and one social exchanges influence ones eventual career (and success),Social interaction, and political careers then merge into one, and one can very loose sight of the world outside. More importantly one loses sight of who ones action are affecting and why; or perhaps it might be true to say that it becomes simply impossible in such a job to keep an idea of who one is acting for. Politicians are then in a job that requires an audience (that is their voters) and ultimately their fate hangs on that audience, and yet they are not given that much real contact with folk. Or perhaps more truthfully all the contact they are given is dictated by the fact they are an MP. They do not then have a real relationship with their voters, as they are in themselves (and not merely how they behave to their MP). They need then to create in their minds an internal audience. A people they are acting for . It is then here where the media comes it The media people in a sense are the ‘public’ the Mp can know, and know collective. A fact then that the neat little lobby groups that typify our system only go to confirm. The journalist are often as not the outsiders the Mp’s meet (and the ones who appreciate what they are doing) a fact that gives their portrayal of the ‘average’ citizen even more power and influence.
The idea of media-man then gains currency as in any very complicated democracy it is of course impossible to know hat everyone is thinking in the world beyond Westminster as well .the Version then of the citizen that the media (really certain Tabloids) create becomes a short hand, for thinking about such a person. It represents is a sense their base concerns, the ones one must allow for, and does so even if one rejects those concerns (and irrespective of whether such a human is believable or likeable). One has then to assume that the political one mass will think that media-man, in order than one can work our what is going on in society at all. The point then of course being that if enough then behave according to what such a person ‘thinks’ or reality, then their reality is confirmed (and the power of the media justified). The media therefore offer a shorthand person, a voter, that makes the system and the debate thinkable, a shorthand and by which we all seem both hypnotized and damned.
The problem of course is that the humans the media want to create – the abstract MAN of their writings is such botched beast, living as it does within the light of the on-going need of newspapers to sell product. They need then a human which is endlessly reactive, and able to focus immediate desire, in order to sell product. One creates then as a perfect citizen of this free society and individual who is always motivated by immediate passions and prejudice, and who never wants to question to much or examine or think about thinks too challenging. Or perhaps it they do, they want that thought only in bite size articles and single thought essays. That is, pieces that give them an immediate idea to play wit for a day, or so, something to discuss down the pub, and nothing more they are not after deep challenging articles or read substantive research. More than that the journalist who are caught up in the news cycle are in no position to create such deep problematic pieces. They need to endlessly produce stories, and so need to write and move on. The result is then a human is created not out of anything logical or even any claim about what a human is, so much as from the need to sell newspapers day on day, and the desire of journalists to always be able to move on to the next story. It is merely then a pity that this take on humanity, with such commercial roots has such a power.
The media person that these pressures create is essential the products of the conscious present. The human that we all create inside us, and think of as ourselves (or at least do so when we are being lazy).This person is the one easiest to write for and to, and has various features firstly just human is always caught up in immediate reaction. They need not reconcile thoughts and dreams, but merely react to them. They are they encouraged to want lower taxes, more public services and yet almost invariably belief that not only they do not get their ‘fair share’ of those public services (free bus passes and the rest do not count as the are their right) . The belief is then that there exists a group somewhere on the margins who get more than their Fair.. The Creature of the light of immediate consciousness assumes that it is fine and everything it does if is right, and all inconveniences belong elsewhere. The other becomes then a figure of suspicion (the course of taxation) and the reason why such an individual has the right to pity themselves (endless) and feel they are oppressed. Any attempt to limit this world view is then despised as too clever by half, and openly attacked. It is then no wonder that feel good new-ageism is the order of the day for such an individual, for it provides an immediate at hand easy to follow self-create manual, that justifies their thoughts, makes then feel clever without ever challenging anything.
Such a human is clearly very brittle. It is never that believable that we have alright to the thoughts we immediately have. They are after all always the laziest of ideas, the most hackneyed, and the most suspect. The media-man is then only possible if they think in packs. That is no tabloid person could exist unless they claimed to be part o a moral majority. For it is that majority that movement that founds and grounds their belief in their believes. Without it the thoughts they clutch would be merely prejudice. Even so this conjuring of a majority(or mob) is not enough, to bolster the brittle person so created. The result of course is than the media-,an is rather prickly, and always on their dudgeon. They are likely then to recent even the slightest tease form a politician, and describe it as an insult . to defend their rights to their projects and their majority status, they heed they to be thin skinned and worries abut affront. A particularly from those either power, or who come under the all embracing ‘other’ category.
And yet all media-men know that there are certainly naughty thoughts their super-egos (for want of a better word) know are out of order. They therefore behave as a good Freudian (there puppet masters might actually know their Freud), and displace or elude to these naughty thoughts as best they may. One is not allowed to be racists therefore openly, but it is fine to bash the desperate asylum seeker. Likewise one ought not to be sexist and yet looking and scantily clad females doing something is alright (it is merely picture don’t you now). Media man has then an elaborate language of double speaking to allow then to not say certain thing, while actually is saying them.
Such an brittle portrait of the immediate conscious mind (the person we live with when we are indulging ourselves) would be politically powerless, and not matter much at most times. The weight of other human needs, or just other humans (all of whom have their own versions) usually stifles off this particular person. Politician then govern not for the individual but on the interests of something else call it state or history or perhaps state, and individuals find then their place within such government. Their role is then something they work towards, not something immediately created within their minds. The trouble is that in our current incarnation of democracy, this working towards an external goal is suspect (it smacks perhaps f an imperial past or future, and any way does not sell news papers). Our democracies model to the man in the street’ has become the gossamer person of the tabloid newspapers. A person who needs endless defending and self-justifications to support at all, and so makes a problematic ‘political unit’. We are dragged away from the real politics of states or interstate relations, the real politics of the effect we as a country have in the world, and what we are doing, and onto a Mickey mouse politics of self construction and justification. The really thing about this world is that probably no one (well save the media barons who makes money out of it) is convinced by it. The public also claim at leas tot want politicians who lead, and politicians clearly would like to do something else (they would not be in politics to merely pander), the trouble is that no one seems able to thin of an alternative. Or more tragically no one has been able to sell the alternative, with h result that it is a politcal non-starter. We are then all saddled with an obnoxious individual as the base line for our politics, an individual we actually despise and yet cannot do with out.
The result is that the country is and remains rather ungovernable. The base line we have set ourselves sells newspapers, makes for good prejudice but lousy policy, and we appear to be able to do nothing much about it. One supposes we can only hope (if it is a hope) that he agony of the cuts to come (made in the man of that other oddity economic man), will shake us a bit, and make have to rethink this person. There might be chance, but it is unlikely to succeed unless the media (and the tabloids start peddling a different person, or perhaps the Politicians work out someone different to listen to, neither of which seem from here at least that likely.