Monday, October 28, 2013

Avoiding Cultural_Auto_Immune_Social_Diseases

 (Commentary posted by Roger Erickson.)

Bill Mitchell dredges up the proverbial question ... begging a non-ideological answer.
If we can mobilize to consensus outcomes imposed from the outside ... then what keeps us from mobilizing to SELECT better/faster/leaner Desired Group Outcomes all the time?

If you can have full employment killing Germans …

At the weekend I watched Ken Loach’s latest film (documentary) – The Spirit of ’45 – which was a classic – interesting and disturbing. After watching it I cannot understand how anybody could not achieve a score somewhere well into the south-west quadrant of the – Political Compass. It emphasised how societal values have changed and undermined the collective will that emerged in the early Post World War 2 period which garnered the political process into delivering structures that would never again see the mass unemployment and hardship that the Great Depression created. It was a hopeful period and politicians reflected that hope and acted as a mediating force in the underlying class conflict between workers and capital. The film traces how that “spirit” has broken down and what is required to once again make economies work for people rather than subjugating the needs of people to the economy – which really means allowing a small proportion of people to extract the benefits arising from the hard work of the rest of us. The film influenced today’s blog.

The title of today’s blog comes from an oft-stated piece of wisdom from former British politician – Tony Benn. He regularly noted that if you can have full employment killing Germans why can’t you have it doing other socially useful activities.

Tony Benn was a champion for Britain’s national health scheme, which was introduced during Clement Atlee’s Prime Ministership. US film maker, Michael Moore interviewed Benn for his movie Sicko and to get things off on a good footing today, here is the interview.

Tony Benn also said he became more radical the longer he spent time as a Government minister. Please read my blog – One should become more radical as one grows older – for a twist on that theme.

Tony Benn was also interviewed by – PBS – (October 17, 2000) and was asked whether the Great Depression led to a “huge loss of faith in markets and governments”, to which he replied:

Well, before the Great Depression, the gamblers ran capitalism and brought the economies down. And what happened? The war followed the Great Depression. In war you mobilize everything. Governments tore down the railings in Britain and America to make bullets. They rationed food, they conscripted people, and they sent them to die. The state took over. And after the war people said, “If you can plan for war, why can’t you plan for peace?” When I was 17, I had a letter from the government saying, “Dear Mr. Benn, will you turn up when you’re 17 1/2? We’ll give you free food, free clothes, free training, free accommodation, and two shillings, ten pence a day to just kill Germans.” People said, well, if you can have full employment to kill people, why in God’s name couldn’t you have full employment and good schools, good hospitals, good houses? And the answer was that you can’t do it if you allow [overly local definitions of] profit to take precedent over people. And that was the basis of the New Deal in America and of the postwar Labor government in Great Britain and so on.
The sentiment expressed here was a major theme of Ken Loach’s current film and clearly is a compelling narrative for those who do not see the economy as a separable, natural entity from the people and the natural environment.

Lots to think about here.

"[In 1941] A local bank provided him with the necessary working capital and thus made possible the founding of Henry J. Kaiser Company, Ltd."

My how times have changed!
Today, banks "doing God's work" focus more on screwing their customers, and their communities, and whole municipalities, and the US Middle Class, and even foreign nations ... all with the active complicity of OUR supposed Public Servants. Oh, and we spy on anyone and everyone, ALL THE TIME!

Would it hurt to just get back to being VERY SELECTIVE about which, simplest choices increase our collective Adaptive Rate the most? Then maybe we could PREVENT ourselves from combating each others efforts so often, and battling ourselves so much. Just let easy happen ... instead of mobilizing to fight ourselves? 

How about we put some thought into selecting those things which make it harder for citizens to work in opposition to one another? Sure we need a cultural immune system, to protect ourselves from other agents blundering into harming us. At the same time, our cultural immune response has to be selective enough to avoid Cultural_Auto_Immune_Social_Diseases. That only holds to reason. So lets just use some of our vaunted reason.


F. Beard said...

"[In 1941] A local bank provided him with the necessary working capital and thus made possible the founding of Henry J. Kaiser Company, Ltd."

More likely that local bank, via government privilege, provided him with the stolen purchasing power of the general population.

But why share profits and power via common stock issuance when one can legally steal purchasing power instead?

Matt Franko said...

Because it is easier than trying to keep track of the relative value of a bazillion different types of common stock?

F. Beard said...

Injustice is often easier - in the short run.

Roger Erickson said...

For those who only see the end of THEIR, individual, nose.

Organizing on a larger scale is how evolution occurs, but only among those able to accept whatever works ... despite their own, limited perspectives and predictions.

We have zero predictive power, so get over it.

We have awesome adaptive power, so just quit banging your head on the wall and go with what works.

F. Beard said...

We have zero predictive power, so get over it.

Wrong! We can predict with surety that injustice produces less than optimum results - even for the short term "winners".

But go ahead and ignore such basic principles as "Thou shall not steal." One can't mock God but one can surely mock himself!

Matt Franko said...


"Thou shall not steal."

Well I can tell you that I do not want to steal anything, but not just because these words were scribbled in some stones thousands of years ago...


Roger Erickson said...

Update, F. Beard,

We have zero predictive power about exactly WHAT we'll have to change in succeeding contexts .... but as you say, we CAN practice the predictable patterns of HOW we retain, rebuild and expand our self-agility ... so that we CAN make all required adjustments.

ps: there are no absolute rules?An old saying, supposedly attributable to Ludwig Boltzman (or Maxwell, or Planck) holds that "when you look closely enough at ANYTHING in nature, you always see a probability function, and NEVER an absolute."