Choosing not to See

I watched a very thought provoking episode of ‘Breaking the Set’ on RT last night. Margaret Heffernan, the author of the recently published book ‘Wilful Blindness’ was interviewed and some very interesting points were covered, which, as a psychologist I find profoundly important.

“Feeding peoples’ established biases and prejudice’s” (9:55)

I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, we live in a climate today where for many, opinions are all too shallow. Heffernan described the press to use nothing more than polarised prejudices to rope people in to a very artificial form of debate. I support this statement and I believe that the angry mob who read the headlines either do not think beyond what political ideology is being chased, or they consider it in terms of ‘hunches’ and how it relates to themselves.

People Don’t Think

So many end up tranquilised by the emotive or political talk used by the biased media, however a second key argument that was made in this interview was that the free markets do not always ensure the best will reach the top. The assumption that natural selection will root out the crooks and the bad eggs just doesn’t work. Social psychology tells us why.

When hierarchy ensues, conformity magnifies. That that magnification of conformity takes place means really, the valuable critical thinking and expression of caution are lost. A study by New York University suggests up to 85% of senior executives in large businesses (see interview – 4:47) admit to have withheld expression of critical thought at least once.

Now if that takes place in all our competition regulated businesses and services, that is, our schools, industries, hospitals, military outfits and above all, governments, it need be no surprise that corruption is rife and inequality is at large. This is because often enough we don’t think, and when we do think, we don’t express that thought.

And that might be the solution to many of today’s challenges: getting everybody to think a whole lot more. It is important for people to critique the rationale of opinions and policy in depth, disregarding left and right political swings. Considering each argument upon its merit across social, economic and above all moral dimensions. With improved rational thinking people could more effectively hold politicians to account, or bring about more responsible business practise. People could recognise that educational policy should be based on what we know about how the brain learns, instead of instead of conformity and league table climbing.

A genuinely free market would be better than the current corporatocracy, however if we properly used our heads (and I mean properly), we could achieve a whole lot better than allowing a phenomena to administer our society.

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The Assumptions on which our System Rests

Here’s something to try get your head over. There’s three assumptions that the best part of the developed world depends on for its current progression.

First of all, cheap energy. I heard Max Keiser argue this week that capitalism depends on cheap energy (Keiser Report, E490). That is almost a profound statement, and is certainly true. In replacing human labour with machinery held in the hands of the rich few, those machines are useless without energy to power them. Cheap energy is the only viable alternative to skilled man power.

Next up: constant inflation. Today’s society is fiscally powered by a giant borrowing machine. It has no way of paying itself back, other than to devalue the debt through low interest rates and printing money (quantitative easing), which produces inflation. As long as investors are profiting out of this, it could go on forever, but part of that profit depends on the given countries’ currency’s ability to deliver goods, wherein constant inflation becomes linked to cheap energy. If a country and its currency cannot produce goods, then no level of inflation can sustain a nations needs. Your currency becomes worthless, and you end up with no buying power and potentially a hyper-inflationary crisis.

The final assumption is a common enemy. We’ve always had one. Everybody’s always had one. It seems that our current military hobby (the middle east) is about to expire, and the UN are gunning to take on Assad for the next decade. We’ve made ourselves some enemies closer to home as well. Part of society is carefully considering where to place their votes during the next election with regards to Eastern European open-door immigration. Having these enemies causes us to put great trust in our bourgeoisie government, which they love because it keeps them safe and minted for years to come.

They tell us we’re in the worst recession since the great depression of the 1930’s. Yet it’s all statistical. I don’t see people starving, cars still ride the roads, and there’s even positive newsflashes here and there about growth. So why aren’t all the doomsday theories coming to pass?

Earthquakes caused by fracking? Photo credit: martinluff via flickr

It’s because these three assumptions are still being met. World governments are desperately sucking out what energy they can get, hence the stir over fracking. Interest rates are at all time lows, and many financial experts warn that inflation is far higher than government figures (I mean, look at the price of potato’s!) And yeah, Syria.

But the cost’s of fracking now show in Texas, and the energy won’t last forever anyway. As capitalism dies under its own weight, clever inflationary tricks will become nothing. And notably, this week in Britain, the motion to begin air strikes on Syria were defeated in the house of commons, signalling that we’re no longer convinced by any passing tale as justification for a war.

The concept of capitalism is fundamentally flawed, and its dependencies cannot last.

Tony Blair Part II: The Marxist Approach

Looks Fun!

Looks Fun!

This is in response to my previous post, ‘Tony Blair: A Modern Day Hero’, in which I pooped on Mr Blair’s PR campaign that paints him and his deeds as good as gold, while he sponges off public money to peddle an agenda that conveniently makes him rich.

Your thoughts Karl Marx?

A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.

To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked out into complete systems.

In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.

By changes in the material conditions of existence, this form of Socialism, however, by no means understands abolition of the bourgeois relations of production, an abolition that can be affected only by a revolution, but administrative reforms, based on the continued existence of these relations; reforms, therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between capital and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, and simplify the administrative work, of bourgeois government.

Free trade: for the benefit of the working class. Protective duties: for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform: for the benefit of the working class. This is the last word and the only seriously meant word of bourgeois socialism.

Marx & Engels (1888)

So basically, you are cordially invited to remain where you are in society under the promise that these rich folk will make those rich folk share their wealth with you. You aren’t entitled to your equal share of the nations wealth, and you’ve relinquished numerous freedoms that could have given you the capacity to produce wealth for yourself. Now big government is in control, and is swallowing the responsibilities of taking care of everybody elses affairs, presenting the front of a humanitarian mission. Conveniently this really creates extra work to keep the political class minted for a lifetime. And noone dare speak against it, because that would be inhumane and unequalitable. But they keep the top buck, while thousands of ordinary people, the very people that the social biourgeois claim to help, come under ever tighter pressure to have a comfortable life, never mind accruing wealth.

What is commonly referred to today as socialism and communism has little connection or unanimity to the manifesto written by Marx and Engels. Think for yourself, discover what the political class’ real agenda is.

Leaders vs. Managers

The difference between management and leadership is that managers job’s are to get things done using people. Leaders on the other hand, while have a vision of accomplishment, realize goals through building and empowering people, and teaching them in such a way that the individual is united with the leader, understanding their role in the ecosystem. Often management tactics involve coercion and manipulation to get the job done, because the manager hold the mandate to complete the job, even though the successful completion requires the participation of all.

Looking at that then politically, what are we voting for? A leader or a manager? Are we looking for someone to get the job done, no matter what? Or are we looking for someone to inspire people to project themselves, in order to see goals reached by and for themselves?

Karl Marx successfully pointed out the follies of a system that distinguishes the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. His works have been used as justification for socialist movements across Europe and spreading now across North America. Yet the initiatives of many politicians and campaigns today create only a management platform, through which we elevate the politicians and consider it their job to solve our problems.

What we have ended with is a management team over the nation, who make changes and manipulations in order to cause people to comply. It might represent the opinions of the majority of voters, but it absolves them of personal responsibility. You can take the horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

A real leader empowers people to solve their own problems, and gives people ownership of their own affairs. Instead of calling for a manager to represent how we see the world, we should be voting a leader who has the qualities that instil confidence in people, teaches them the fundamental principles off which society grows, and then lets people care for themselves as free men and women.

Tony Blair: A Modern Day Hero

Tony BlairI came across the website last night for the office of Tony Blair, but I had to check twice, in case I had mistaken it for the New Testament.

For it came to pass, that Tony Blair did go forth into Jerusalem where which he spake unto the people of Isreal. And as he gave utterance, he did say unto the people that their fight was not one people against another, but did warn all peoples to unite against those of a closed mind. 

In fact the chapters of Tony Blair’s gospel go on and on. He travelled the world from Africa to North London, coordinating philanthropic work and teaching the world how open mindedness is the solution to everything. And once I had read his list of 50 achievements for the British people – a wealth of figures of more policemen on the streets, less unemployment, lots of schools turned around. You would honestly consider this guy miraculous until you link it with the debt acquired to reach those goals, and how the population has now become dependent on government handouts instead of learning to look after themselves.

And this is it, in this generation it happens time and time again. Politicians are willing to say and do anything that will keep them in a job. Never mind the billions and trillions of debt, due to irresponsible and unaccounted spending. Never mind that our children and our children’s children will be living through austerity to compensate what seemed like a clever vote winner now.

Tony’s cronies literally hoodwinked the majority of the British electorate into believing that the things he was delivering came without cost or consequence. He hid the costs of his borrowing in the middle class prosperity and working class wage increases leaving us where we are now: with the bubble burst and the value of money dropping back down to reality.

Let’s hope that now people can learn that there truly is no such thing as a free meal. That all wealth and increase comes through real labour. Hopefully now people will hold their politicians to account, and properly scrutinize where things are coming from. Instead of voting through the mindset of my old life skills teacher: coz he looks good!

See the sequel: Tony Blair Part II: The Marxist Approach

Glass Half Full?

Image Credit: Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun for USA Today

Image Credit: Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun for USA Today

Why do I feel bad for what I believe?
I find that what seems instinctive others don’t conceive.
When I look around and see that people are oblivious,
To an oncoming catastrophe that’s going to be hideous!

They say my glass is only half full,
And that living my ideals makes life so dull.
Yet a part inside of me is shouting the line,
That if we carry on as we are, things are far from fine.

It’s nice going after the individual to be caring,
But saying the individual needs to care for themselves is so daring.
It plucks the emotions and makes you feel warm,
But destroys their independence in every form!

But just a little is okay, I hear them say,
That would be nice, to our fellow human beings?
Well the road to hell was always paved with good intentions, and in every previous generation of society if you didn’t work you didn’t eat. Nature took care of that.

But in today’s world we think we can beat natural laws,
With political union, written scrip and clause.
And no matter how we hide it, living on borrowed time cannot last,
Soon we’re going to find ourselves living back in our past.

by Christopher Barker