Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Project Persephone - an exercise in futility

I was very diverted by a story I read in dePress on Tuesday about the Persephone Project. 

An international group of scientists is working on the development of the bio-technologies necessary to create a self-sustaining space ship which will save some people if (when) the greedheads and their minions manage to make Earth a 'no-go zone for human beings due to...'- wait for it - 'climate change or nuclear or biological warfare'.

The team's sociologist, who made the above breath-taking statement, seems oblivious to the fact that investment in the sort of bio-technologies necessary to create a mini planet is the sort of investment which, multiplied many fold, might just save the big planet we evolved on.  

The idea is that, within a 100 years, Earth will be a uninhabitable for humans - and by logical extension -most other species. In order to preserve the species which brought about this dreadful state of affairs, a few thousand select humans will be launched into space aboard a 'Space Ark' to find another planet to colonise.

Given the sort of people who would be selected for such an Ark - the greedheads' 'flower of humanity' would be my noxious weed - one can surmise they'd pretty soon ruin that planet as well.

The people involved in the project are clearly incapable of comprehending the enormity of the insult inherent in their acceptance of the inevitability of the Earth's demise and the pipe dream of building a self-sustaining 'life raft'.  They can dream about as yet impossible bio-technologies to save a few thousand of the elite but are unable to envisage the comparatively simple reorganisation of the relations of production and reproduction in sustainable and equitable ways so that we can save the planet we all live on. 

One accepts this from the greedheads; such is the narcissistic hubris of the forces which govern us, they would rather destroy the planet and most of what lives on it than admit their miserable life-negating philosophy is wrong.

But, scientists signing up for the bullshit is a reminder that - of all that trickles down from the elite - it's that life negating, narcissistic hubris which is the most prolific and toxic.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Polemic or propaganda?

A polemic is a strongly worded expression of controversial views. I make no apology for this being a leftwing polemic because we are drowning in a morass of rightwing polemic disguised as news. Every time there is a headline which squawks about 'benefit cheats' - that's a rightwing polemic disguised as neutral commentary. If you find the strong statement of political views to be upsetting - I suggest you stop reading now.

The thing is, we need something to fight for; there's not much value in fighting against something if we don't know or agree on what to replace it with. The rightwing all over the developed world have all but destroyed both the belief that there is a better way to organise society and what are the best means by which to achieve it. They have convinced people that a 'free market' driven by the profit motive is the only or is the best engine of progress; that creativity, productivity and innovation need the spark provided by the profit motive, i.e. that without the profit motive we would still be living in caves or mud huts. 

They obscure the fact that the market is not and never can be truly 'free' because an uncontrolled drive for privatised profit is completely incompatible with balanced, sustainable production. I'd also argue that it's incompatible with balanced, sustainable reproduction.

Too many people in the developed world have accepted the bribe of increased consumer 'choice' in the form of masses of cheap, intrinsically obsolete products. They close their eyes to the fact that these products are made cheap by the relocation of capital to parts of the world where labour and life have been kept or made cheap.  

The first action of all the governments which implemented monetarist economic theory was to remove all controls on the export of capital. This undermined organised labour at home, and allowed the free movement of capital to places where wages and working conditions were already low or could easily be forced down - i.e. where labour was not organised and could be kept that way. 

We forget, choose to ignore, or have never been taught that, the first victims of industrial capitalism were pauper women and children in the mines and mills of the industrial heartlands of Great Britain; that industrial capitalism was funded by industrialised slavery and the theft of other peoples' lands, and that domestic paupers were created by the misappropriation of common land and the callous eviction of millions of its occupants. 

Because of pressure from workers and other progressive elements, industrial capitalism had to yield concessions - to ameliorate its worst excesses. These concessions reached a peak in the decades following WW2 but, since corporate and finance capitalism regained the ascendancy in the 1980s, the economic predators have had increasing freedom to sniff out sources of new high-yield victims in the form of the paupers of the Third World. These workers  labour for a pittance in appalling conditions to produce the  commodities which are sold to (and used to mesmerise) the increasingly unproductive consumers of the First World. The tragic irony is that many of these First World consumers are either already paupers, about to become paupers, or are kept afloat by using their credit cards as flotation aids and paying obscene interest rates to the banksters for the privilege.

How ironic is it, that we, in the relatively privileged zones of the world, are conned and diverted by the very technology that enables the banksters and all their collaborators and supporters in business and government, to create the vast VIRTUAL wealth that buys and wields REAL power and the surveillance systems which allow them target that power. Ask yourself, whose interests do the masked men in the identikit uniforms protect? We are told they are there to fight crime and terrorism but that is more right wing polemic; the militarisation and homogeneity of the world's police is a calculated strategy - they are there to fight the inevitable insurgency as the contradictions widen and deepen. 

Anyone with sense, with any shred of understanding must realise that the way things are currently organised is unsustainable; that the people running the world are the most wilfully destructive predators the planet has ever seen - their philosophy, or rather the soulless strategising that passes for a philosophy - is, if they can't have it all, no-one shall have any.  

Fortunately for the planet, not all humans are wilfully destructive predators but if the majority of us leave the power in the hands of the minority of sociopathic predators - we're all toast.  

We simply have to ask ourselves - do we want a world in which millions of children die for want of basic food, medicine and clean water? Where millions of small children are forced to work in sweat shops, trafficked as domestic and sex slaves, denied the basic human rights of shelter, security and education?  Can we live with the obscenity of the children of the world's elite possessing wardrobes of thousands of high price items manufactured in countries which permit the hyper-exploitation of poor labourers and their children? Can we live with the obscenity of a world which is squandering precious and irreplaceable natural resources on the production of consumables with built-in obsolescence that are used mainly for the exchange of vain and useless information, the substitution of nostalgic banalities for knowledge and insight, and the masking of the indescribably awful with cyber-floss and smiley faces?  Can we live with the obscenity of a world in which the poor of the developed zones are suffering and dying from a constellation of metabolic disorders created by eating and drinking the products of mad experiments in food production, while the children of the less developed world die of starvation?  

I know it sounds like hyperbole but both the social and natural worlds are on the cusp of becoming chaotic. 

All organisms and communities of organisms strive for homeostasis - which is a state of relative equilibrium between interdependent elements. Too far out of equilibrium and/or for too long, and the organism/s will suffer irreparable damage, i.e. there is a point at which chaos ensues - and all bets are off because we simply do not know for certain how any given organism or collectivity of organisms may react once the tipping point is reached. 

How hopelessly inadequate are we in predicting how the planet and the totality of the organisms that live on it will react as homeostasis is more and more difficult to achieve?  

Ok, so this is all very misery-inducing and we all need light relief, I get that, even old serious socks like me need to lighten up and laugh. But we need to know that we have been herded into a virtual corral. We're like horses behind electric tape - once zapped by an electric fence most horses will stay penned behind a thin piece of wire, some may even die of starvation behind it. Pigs are different - give them a gap big enough and they will often barge under or through knowing they'll get zapped but also knowing that it's a momentary discomfort and it's a price worth paying for the freedom on the other side.

So - over to each person to make a decision. As individuals we cannot change the world but in combination with other people we can change our own towns, cities and countries. Each small progressive change supports other small progressive changes. Quite literally the world depends on it.