Monday, January 14, 2019

I Find A Family



- Americans glorify violence, yet they are prudish in sexuality. A population divided by a habit of indulging in violence against each other is incapable of political resistance; parties with different manners take control of government.
- Corporations and the very rich.
- For example. And similarly, the prudishness that negates the drawing together of sexuality, is embarrassed by shows of affection. Can we say we agree on this?
- Yes. But why do you bring it up?
- I was at the dining corner of Ralphs supermarket one early morning not long ago when I looked up from my computer and saw a grey haired middle-aged woman and a young man coming towards me. I greeted them:
- You're still alive?
- As you see. We came here looking for you.
- How long has it been? Two years?
- Eight.
- That's not possible.
- It is. You wrote about us then on your website.
- I'll check the date of posting.* Incredible: you're right. Eight years! And you and your son are still wandering around spending no money, passing the nights in fast food restaurants, going to public events for free food and entertainment.
- We were at a temple dinner last night. It was fantastic.
- Why were you looking for me?
- I missed our talks. Most people are so touchy you can't talk about anything. You can't say the slightest thing positive about the president without getting attacked.
- You think that is wrong?
- Yes. You don't? He may not be perfect but people act like he is as bad as Hitler.
- The president has become a model of bad character, a person without honesty or sympathy. His supporters are assumed to be the same. I know you to be the same, if you've haven't changed in eight years. By the way, your son doesn't speak? He's here with us and hasn't said a word. Watch, I'll ask him a question: 'You don't talk? Why not?' ... and there's no answer ... he raises his shoulders. What's going on with him?
- He hasn't talked in more than a year.
- Why?
- I don't know.
- You don't think it's your fault? He's in his early thirties now, right? and he's been going around the country with you for more than a decade, no place anywhere to call his own, passive while you make an idol of living cheap? You don't worry there's a connection?
- He's living the dream.
- Your dream or his?
- Both.
- Dream of living cheap?
- Traveling without ties.
- And without language now. Is he crazy?
- No. He's brilliant. He'll talk when he's ready to.
- Maybe he thinks you're not worth talking to  because your whole life is led around saving money. His spirit rebels against your materialism.
- He is spiritual. He won't use a telephone or computer. He said once he was an Amish.
- When he was still talking. Are you sure he isn't looking at you like those who don't support the president look at those they do, with revulsion?
- No, I'm his mother.
- But you do have bad character.
- How can you say that to me? That's the first thing out of your mouth meeting again someone you haven't seen for eight years?
- I guess it is. I'm interested in bad character. In bad characters.
- I don't have bad character. I'm not a bad character.
- You're not lying to the people and institutions you stay with or chow down with, at minimum pretending to like them when you don't? In my experience, no one not absolutely insane lives as you are living who has a real friend somewhere in the world. The parts of the world not yet too much influenced by American life, where generally people still tell the truth to each other and like each other, can't understand this country's million living on the streets, can't understand why no one known by the million takes them in.
- I wouldn't call it lying. I tell stories. It's creative. And I do care about people.
- You care about the people you lie to?
- Sure. Everybody lies.
- Some liars are cared about and some aren't? Lying doesn't stop you from caring?
- Yes.
- Maybe you like even more the people you trick?
- Maybe I do!
- Is it possible your son, this silent fellow sitting at the table with us, thinks his loving mother has tricked him into a meaningless life and that is why he won't talk?
- No. He likes his life. He's living the dream.
- So you say. He doesn't say anything.
- You meet the craziest people.
- They follow to extreme conclusions the principles held by the majority of the country.
- Living with the violence of dishonesty and behind a barrier established between them and those they say they care about.
- Yes.
- Have you met the mother and son after that conversation?
- Yes. A few times. The mother presses me for information about restaurants she can go to at night, take a seat at a table and lay down her head undisturbed by employees. It's difficult, because the corporations which run the restaurants are torn between keeping up appearances for paying customers and fear of damage to the image of social concern and humanity they spend a fortune to lodge in their customers' minds. But do you know what happened last time I met the family?
- What?
- The son spoke.
- Suddenly, for the first time?
- Yes. I asked his mother why he'd started speaking. She said she didn't know, - if it wasn't because of me.
- What did he say?
- 'Parking lots are the solution.'
- 'Parking lots are the solution.' To what?
- The people living on the streets. As the new economy develops, impoverishing more and more, and the single million living on the street turns into many millions, and as the popularity of ride sharing apps increases, there will be less cars, therefore less need of parking lots. The newly empty parking lots can be re-purposed, each space individually rented out by the hour to people to throw themselves down on who otherwise would be chased from one place to another, sleeplessly wandering the city.
_____________________
* I Find A Family (2010)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Calculus Of Consent


"Norms for behavior have often been substituted for testable hypotheses about behavior. We do not propose to take a position on the moral question regarding what variables should enter into the individual’s utility function when he participates in social choice, nor do we propose to go further and explore the immensely difficult set of problems concerned with the ultimate philosophical implications of the utilitarian conception of human nature. As we conceive our task, it is primarily one of analysis. We know that one interpretation of human activity suggests that men do, in fact, seek to maximize individual utilities when they participate in political decisions and that individual utility functions differ. We propose to analyze the results of various choice-making rules on the basis of this behavioral assumption, and we do so independently of the moral censure that might or might not be placed on such individual self-seeking action." (James M. Buchanan, The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy)
'Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves,' Buchanan wrote in his 1975 book The Limits of Liberty. 
- Who is this guy Buchanan?
- No less than a Nobel Prize winning economist whose theories are supposed to be behind the actual doings of the American government.
- Just what we need: another conspiracy theory.* Alright. Tell me.
- Basically, the theory goes, human beings only care about themselves. Government officials are human beings. People with money are only concerned with keeping people without money from using government to take away the money from people who have it. Therefore people with money fund both political parties, Republican and Democratic, the only difference between the parties being one is the party of slaves who want there to remain divisions or levels of slavery, with males, old, white ruling over women, young, and colored; and the other party which want to make all slaves equal, without advantage to one sex, age, race. The real government is bribed by the rich to increase their power over the slaves by changing government policy. More power over slaves may require, according to the theory, a larger government rather than small: for example, business regulation makes small business more difficult therefore favors big business and monopoly. Big government also allows mass surveillance which undermines the will of the slaves to revolt. What do you think of this?
- Where is the "logical foundation" of his book's title?
- In the assumption of rational pursuit of desires, and in what Buchanan calls "Public Choice" theory, which is that government officials also pursue their own interests, which allows those with money to buy in the marketplace of politics their complicity in the remaking of government institutions so as to lessen or even eliminate the ability of the not rich to influence government policy.
- The logic is in that, assuming everyone rationally pursues their desires in relation to other rational desire seekers, we can calculate outcomes as realized in the form of government based on the wealth of marketplace participants. Can I say I find this immensely stupid?
- It's a free country.
- Not if this theory is put into action! I meant stupid because although we humble human beings are said to rationally pursue our desires, we are not supposed to rationally choose our desires.
- Excellent.
- You agree then?
- Certainly. In presenting a game plan - capture the institutions and remake them to serve your interests - Buchanan shows the rich how to protect and increase their wealth at the expense of everyone else. But, as he writes, he makes no attempt to argue that this in any way is a humanly desirable activity.
- You mean to show it is an activity that is reasonable to desire.
- Yes.
- Could there then be a book written on the logical foundations of a government that not just managed desires but itself would be reasonable to desire?
- Because it managed only those desires that would be reasonable to desire?
- Yes.
-  A book might very well pursue the counter logic: Once human beings banded together for self defense they used the resulting security not to elaborate theories of how to permanently rape and pillage everyone else, but to shift from power relation between people to knowledge relations: to learning, loving, giving.
- And that shift from power-seeking to knowledge-seeking would be rational to desire?
- Yes.
- But if not everyone agrees - and the rich of our great nation certainly don't - how could such a logic be implemented as Buchanan's followers have so successfully implemented their theory?
- And save Buchanan's principle of unanimity: that all without exception benefit in a reasonable political exchange? The logical problem is easily solved by isolating people of different ideas of what desires are reasonable in separate local communities, which all can reasonably and unanimously federate for limited reasonable purposes such as self defense.
- I don't see how that would work.
- Why not?
- Because what the rich desire is that very rape and pillage you mentioned. If you fence them in into one community, they'll have no one to rape and pillage other than each other. Reasonable pursuit of their desires will lead to their mutual destruction.
- You're saying that the rich have a reasonable desire to stop the rest from forming a government of reasonable desires.
- Yes.
- So this is how I'd like to leave the discussion: Buchanan's Nobel Prize winning economic theory sold itself as foundation laying pure logic and mathematics. But the theory logically implemented by the rich leads them to preventing the logical action of everyone else. The theory is profoundly illogical and destructive.

Further Reading:
Believe It Or Not
Kant & Compromise
Surviving On Miracles
_______________________
* See: Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America

Monday, December 31, 2018

Watching

Related image

- New Year's Day in a few hours. Everything in the world stays the same as we jump from the end of the calendar back to the beginning. Let's celebrate. Tell me one of your stories, something for the holiday, about how measurement of life becomes a substitute for life.
- I think I can, but I warn you, it's a stupid story.
- Just right for a stupid holiday.
- You know how we learn when children our social roles, unconsciously, fleeing from punishment and running towards reward? We develop habits that make us recognizable to strangers, giving them a sense of what to expect from us. We dress like we're in business, like a man our our age, of our wealth, etc. Note the two factors: being pushed from outside rather than by inner choice, and probability. Now in these new times that are upon us we are becoming familiar with omnipresent surveillance: Internet, email, telephone, etc. Perhaps you haven't noticed that the same two factors are involved in this surveillance as in unconscious learning of social role?
- I certainly haven't.
- Then I'll begin the story. One overcast morning this week I'd locked my bike to the rack up by UCLA's research library. The sun was slipping between tree branches to warn just the spot, so I stood where I was, by my bike, getting a little warm. Big mistake. For when I do decide to go, I hear: 'Sir! Sir! Stop.' It's the University Police. They've had reports someone of my description was possibly stealing bikes. Do I have I.D.?
- I do. But why should I show it to you when the law doesn't require it?
- It is procedure when we detain a suspect.
- I'm being detained?
- That is what is occurring.
- What am I suspected of? Stealing that bike over there? That's my bike. I will unlock the locks, proof that I'm not a thief, therefore cannot be a suspect, therefore not be detained, and not have my I.D. demanded. Let's go to my bike.
- No. Show us your I.D.
- Or you'll continue to detain me?
- What did you do?
- I showed them, under protest, my passport, and they let me go unlock my locks. Whereupon they didn't go anywhere, but proceeded to ask questions about what I'm doing there on campus, my connection to the University, where I was coming from earlier, each question an attempt to elicit an answer that would indicate I had higher than average probability of being a criminal. Note that again here are the two factors: external force, in this case, being detained by the police and threatened with further detention, and probability, but now our enforced task is to avoid having the probability of social role - that of criminal - imposed upon us.
- We are in a fight over probability.
- Yes. Now the story I'm telling is about how having to escape probability of social role can be just as confining, undermining of freedom, as taking on social role. You see this four-year old little Chromebook I use? Sometimes I thought, Wouldn't it be nice to have one of those super-delux Apple computers I see everywhere, wouldn't it be nice to find one as I often find things riding my bike? And this same week I was walking my bike, one in the morning, down Beverly Hills' Rodeo Dr., the street elaborately lighted for Christmas, and there, in front of the Bulgari jewelry store, under one of the cafe chairs left out all night, is a backpack, about the size of the one I use.
- Inside was an Apple computer?
- Yes. Also notebooks, and several envelopes, one from an insurance company, showing name and address. What a shame! I thought. I can't have the computer. And maybe I shouldn't touch this bag. Is it a trick by the police? There are cameras everywhere on this street. The police station is less that a minute away. I put the bag down where I found it, get back on my bike. Coming my way is one Los Angeles' tens of thousands of unhoused, searching through the garbage containers. I should go back and take the bag before he does, right?
- Right!
- I do, and ride off down the street. But this is terrible! Every thought now, every action I take, I'm considering for its probability of making me out to be suspicious! If stopped by the police - it's suspicious to have one bag on my back, another on the handlebars - how do I explain myself? Shouldn't I get off the main streets where the cameras are? But if I'm stopped on the dark residential streets how do I explain my riding there at this hour? Hasn't my probability of criminal appearance increased?
- You went and returned the bag again.
- I did. But the man going through the trash was still coming this way, on the same block now.
- So you took up the bag again.
- Yes. I decided I'd take it to the police.
- Who will steal it themselves.
- That's what everyone says. I didn't care at this point. All I had to do was ride the short distance to the police station and I'd be free of these constant calculations of probabilities that had completely taken over my life. And you know what?
- What?
- The bag having been dropped off, I was filled with a supreme happiness!
- What happened with the police?
- When I went back to check I was told they had a record of my dropping it off, but after that, record disappears.
- Told you!

Further Reading:
The Calculus Of Consent

Friday, December 21, 2018

Studies In Relativity



1.

- How are the studies in relativity going?
- Everyone is laughing at me behind my back but I don't care. I think I'm on to something.
- Perhaps there is nothing wrong in being an unqualified amateur in physics when your focus is how physics has become a myth to model social behavior upon.
- Exactly! Thank you for understanding.
- You're welcome. What have you come up with?
- Einstein's theory of relativity of movement states that one thing moved across by another looks the same when the roles, stationary and moving, are reversed. Think of riding in a train or car and how sometimes it seems as if the car or train is stationary and the road or tracks are moving. When socially we play a role against others in their roles - student to teacher, boss to worker, doctor to patient - we are equally ready to take on, in imagination at least, the opposite role. In this readiness and willingness to exchange roles one imagines oneself free of the normal constraints on behavior.
- You mean ethical constraints.
- Yes. In the famous 'twin paradox' one brother takes a rocket from Earth to a star, time dilating with the rocket's approach to the speed of light, then returns to Earth to find that 200 years have past for his twin, though he has aged only two years. As social role can seem to jump from one to another in relativity of motion, individual history seems able to be duck in and out of relationships as time is lengthened or shortened.
- So even in the temporary social role settled upon responsibilities can seem to shrink and expand.
- Yes. Now when you put together the two theories, relative movement and the slowing of time, the twin thought experiment reveals a paradox: the stay-at-home twin should be able to see himself as the traveler and his brother as the stay at home, but clearly in this case, with the brother aged only 2 years, it's not possible. And why is that?
- Why?
- Because the acceleration, and the shift into a different relation to physical forces, is not part of a continuous movement, as a train on its tracks: what happens to the brother going travelling is happening exclusively inside him, invisible to his brother, a result of unseen physical forces. Now it is possible to recover relativity of movement for the twins. Instead of looking back on pasts of the twins that are not constantly in touch, we look to a future in which each twin has passed through complete life and death into the future 200 years. In this 4-dimensional space-time, where the whole world's actions moment by moment are visualized as a single thing, we can slip the one brother's travels over the other either way; the missing information that the stay-home brother needs to imagine himself the traveler and aging only two years - the plus 200 years of his brother's history - is now available to put in the story. Henri Bergson complained about Einstein's use of time that it reduced time to an act of measurement and calculation, when in reality time was lived as duration, memory, open to future creativity; the continuation of our past into the present and from present projection into the future. Movement that may also perfectly acceptably be seen as rest, time that may go slow or fast: these claims, functional as descriptions of things in the world, undermine confidence in the continuity of memory and experience in an individual's life.


2.

- Time out! Take a breath while I summarize what you've said: In the twin paradox, the problem is the movement of two things across each other is broken in continuity, this resolved by space-time's 4-dimensional projecting time into and restoring the missing points of contact, this done at the cost of predetermining the future. The great philosopher of time, Henri Bergson, objected to Einstein's theory on the grounds that it made it hard to see that the future is in reality open, unpredictable, and indeterminate. Relative time is locked in relation to things, an element in a calculation, while an individual's time relates past to present in continuing memory, and present to future in projection of probable outcomes.
- And so the solution to the paradox is another paradox: not in the logical sense but in that of going against popular opinion: the freedom that seems to be offered by socializing relativity, bringing the myth down to Earth, ends up being the opposite: personal history and initiative is crowded out as individuals are pressed into roles as consumers of ideas, products, and politics.


3.

On the subject of breath: the best current definition of life is a cyclic recovery of stability in response to the repeated destabilizing effects of the world. Breath is in and out, life is recovery, then holding. If you want to see how the personal sense of time can take in the relative time of physics, look no further. Times that seem to have passed fast in the living, looked back on seem to have been slow; and times that seemed to have passed slow in the living looked back on seem to have gone by fast. Slow times lived are times when we wait for opportunity to act, for a click of the clock as it were. Looked back on, clicks of the clock few and far between, time seems to have passed before you knew it, with little to measure its passage by. Fast times are marked by repeated frequent responses to the world, many clicks of the mental clock, making it seem, looked back on, that a lot was done in that limited time, time dilated it seemed to allow more acts to fill it. Do you follow?
- I think so. You're saying that life has its own internal relativity, dilating and constricting in relation to varying proportions in one's life of rest and action.
- That's it. Bergson wrote he had set out to 'explicitly prove that there is no difference, in what concerns Time, between a system in motion and a system in uniform translation.'
- By 'Time', with a capital 'T', meaning the dilation and constriction between action and rest in one's personal sense of time.
- Time that was capable of absorbing into itself without a trace the relative clock time of the physicists.

Further Reading:
Duration and Simultaneity, Henri Bergson, 1922

Monday, December 3, 2018

Rights & Ritual

Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
(Not A Government Publication)

- There's this ordained Christian minister, former New York Times foreign correspondent who says a lot of the things you do. He has this show on the Russian propaganda network RT, Russia Today. You know him?
- Yes.
- Do you like him?
- Do you?
- No.
- I don't either.
- Why not? Because of the dour tone to his speeches? Because he's Christian and you're not?
- Judaism came out of the time of a new idea: rest in beauty and rules of action must share attention and importance. Overindulgence in either is limited by the need to return to the other.
- The world is going to hell, we've got to try to do something about it, but we're not to forget that the world's not serious, nothing to get too upset about, it's not real, only the world we see when we rest is. 'The future masters of technology will have to be light-hearted and intelligent.' You hold against him that he's not Jewish and not a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Anything else?
- Have you seen his latest speech about how the president's supporters are a cult?
- Yes. You say much the same.
- No. I don't.
- But you're always going on about ritual, losing one's sense of insecurity in imagining a winning battle against the enemy and strength restored.
- Let's make some distinctions. Ritual can be personal, like coffee in the morning. Ritual can be a group practice, of a few people, or the millions of a nation, as indeed the president's so-called rallies are an example of. Ritual can be also political but not group practice.
- How if a polity is always a group?
- Do you agree there is something off about calling the president's supporters a cult?
- Yes. I imagine a cult like a herd of beasts, each directing the other, communicating fear and anger. No individuality.
- And you think of Americans, even the president's supporters, as lovers of individuality.
- Yes.
- So if they are performing a ritual, and it is not by communicating their fear and anger to each other, how are they doing it?
- How are they?
- Like with coffee drinking, by communicating the message to themselves of insecurity recovered from.
- If they're recovering all the time why do they need the president?
- They see relations to others in terms of rights, which are demands on others to leave them alone: don't attack, rob, imprison, silence, etc. Somehow, their rights are under attack: the mechanism is obscure, but not the outcome, lives that are daily worsening.
- The president's supporters don't form a cult communicating in a panic fear and anger to each other, but are drawn to the president by his providing clarity, a script to a ritual which will end the attacks on their rights.
- The president's supporters, feeling attacked, try to defend themselves with pornography and violence, identifying with the actors in entertainments or acted out in their own lives; the president promises he is going to end the provocation and recover for them their security. Accompanying each time they fend off an attack now is the reassurance that soon this will all be over. Like the recurring stimulant of coffee drinking, the attack and needed defense is an irritation, but reassuring in its reliably expected arrival.
- The group of the president's supporter is the very opposite of a mass, a herd, a crowd. Each in the group is thinking his rights are under attack: he doesn't see the group. For him others exist if at all as threats to his rights, not to be taken cues or direction from. Passion for the president's supporters is expressed not in loss of themselves, as in the crowd, but in self-protection.
- Strange. Rights seem to be something possessed by the individual, but instead are demands on others. They are not a property or possession of the individual. Because of this, when they are threatened, the response is not individual, but passionate, open to resolution in leaders arriving with a script to ritual. Rights lead to ritual. If we're to avoid political ritual, should we then not talk about rights? How should we talk?
- About what makes for a good life and what doesn't. You recall I told you about the old woman with with big hat and long coat* - these days she spending all night sitting outside Starbucks - who outright claimed only impersonal matters were fit subjects of conversation, anything else was an invasion of privacy?
- How could I forget? She's still on the street? Are you saying that the people like her you meet are defenders of their rights, waiting for the dictator to arrive, rather than seekers after good life?  What's happening with the others? Anyone new? If you are correct, they'll all be supporters of the president.
- They are, almost without exception. There's the hunchback, every night from nine to closing at Whole Foods' cafe, always dressed in the same outfit: over-size white T-shirt, 'Panavision' written on the back, an image of the company's camera on front, blue jeans, and white sneakers, the same every day but always neat and clean. He carries around a leather binder overflowing with loose-leaf papers which over time become frayed and are replaced by others.
- Is he writing?
- No one's ever seen him open the folder. He reads on his phone while he eats, the same every night: a bag of tortilla chips. Time after time he gets up from his table and goes to the salad bar to get free samples. But before each new foray he rinses his fingers with the flow from the water dispenser, then holding out his hands theatrically shaking them dry, droplets flying everywhere. Sometimes afterwards he falls asleep at the table.
- Probably has no place to sleep. Is he deliberately being irritating?
- When a pretty girl comes in he'll get up and start a conversation, adjusting his bent body so his face is inches away from her, often driving her to pack up in a hurry and go.
- Like the hat-coat woman sleeping outside Starbucks who claims she has a home she's still paying for but is too bored when there to go back to: in place of making a life good on personal terms he is making a life out being a permanent public spectacle and provocation. Is this true also of the Turkish green-card lottery winner who goes around to conferences and lectures for the free food, taking home as much as he can get away with, boasting he keeps his stomach full on less than ten dollars a month? 
- Yes. And true too for the full-time bike messenger and 'hustler' (He once, in allergy season, after a full ten minutes of bargaining sold me for $1.75 the pill I was dying for) who's slept outside the same church for 17 years and writes on the internet about himself, his sleeping rough, scavenging, his health problems. Their attention is on their aggrieved condition, rights denied, and the provocations they make of themselves fighting back.
- And now their savior has arrived.

Further Reading:
Believe It Or Not
Character Circus
___________________
* See The Forest & The Trees

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

In The Service Of Religion

STORIES
The rational mind is a faithful servant and the intuitive mind is a sacred gift. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. (A. Einstein)
- What first comes to mind if I say to you that religion and science, for the great mass of Americans, don't talk about the same thing? Science talks of the world, religion talks of rules of action, that is, morality; if I say that Americans have no trouble in being both scientists and religious because the two ways of knowledge do not communicate?
- I'd say that that statement is obviously false. Our judgments about what is the best action depend on our scientific conclusions about what is possible for us to do in the world. And science depends on imagination to suggest theories to be tested, imagination that is guided by how we feel best in the world, by our sense of beauty. Morality depends on our individual awareness of the better and worse relation to the world that is consequent on taking different kinds of action, depends on a scientific study of this question. And in setting the direction of our science, choosing which theories to test, we go in the same direction as in the past led to knowledge that gave us a religious feeling of being in the best relation to the world: of beauty, unity, completeness.
- Religion has a science to it, and science has religion to it in the guidance it takes form the imagination. But there's more involved than that.
- Go on.
- Religion actively uses science to secure its position in the world.
- How so?
- Take for example our two main political parties, the two parties of business, as they have been described. Both parties see the world as a place of business. That is their science. Can you tell me what their religion is?
- Money. Making money is for its own sake. Money is what matters more than anything else. Money must always must come first.
- So how, if Republican and Democrat see the same world, do the parties differ in religion?
- You tell me.
- The democrats are content with what they have achieved for their religion. The ritual of trade has become the basis of morality. The future Democratic leader of the House yesterday spoke of the 'marketplace of ideas' where the two parties must settle their differences without digression to the subject of what might be good for the people they were elected to represent. Put to the test is a scientific hypothesis: ideas don't have to be resolved in debate; rather the world is so made, that just like selfishness of each in trade works out best for all, supposedly, ideas in their compromised form will somehow work out for the best, the regularity of outcome from selfish trade and compromised ideas a comforting ritual to be participated in.*
- Compromised ideas and selfish trade are religious practice, rules of action for feeling good in the world.
- Correct. The Democrats are the conservative party of business that, having successfully remade the world in the image of the market, get a happy feeling from present ritual, whereas the Republicans...
- The Republicans are unhappy...
- Well, the leaders are happy to make their followers unhappy with their place in the world. They fear-monger, shout 'the enemy is within', characterize the opposing party as crazy outsiders, then preach the violence that will restore to these unhappy souls reassuring unity and security.
- The fascist description of the world and the proper response to it.
- Yes. Our happy religious leaders of the radical business party, applying social technology to achieving a state of religious perfection, are presently experimenting with fascism, hyper-surveillance, authoritarianism, demonization of the weak, etc.
- And the experiment is working out, confirming their theory of the world. We see clearly that some of the religious at least, our leaders, have no problem employing scientific thinking, remodeling the world, duping their supporters about their ultimate intentions, consolidating their power over all aspects of life, achieving for themselves the highest religious state they know: the security of having ever larger amounts of money and possessions.
- Large numbers of self-described religious people support the president, monster of immorality that he is, among them his press representatives who can be daily seen outrageously lying for him, because he promises to make their rules of behavior the laws of the land, and - here's where there is some truth to the idea we started with questioning - outside of establishing in the world their rituals of power these people of religion don't care about the world, scientifically described or not. They're concerned only, as they've been taught to be by those who fund the parties of business, about the self-image reflected back to them by their acquisitions and possessions.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them...The future masters of technology will have to be light-hearted and intelligent. The machine easily masters the grim and the dumb. (A. Einstein)

Further Reading:
Einstein & Intellectual Physics 
Indifference
_________________________
 *See: Nancy Pelosi Wants to Find “Common Ground” With Donald Trump. But Her Job Right Now Is to Fight Fascism.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Character Circus


- With today's Democratic capture of the House of Representatives we've got ourselves some breathing room. But do you know what I think?
- What?
- That the current circus in which the president lies and cheats outrageously and we all look on powerlessly will be replaced by the new circus in which the democrats, unable to pass legislation, pursue criminal charges against the president and he lies and cheats outrageously, constantly changing his strategies of evasion. Meanwhile, like before, with attention elsewhere, mergers, privatizations, subsidies continue to enlarge monopolies, transferring more and more wealth to the' rich. Do you see anyway out of this mess we're in?
- I like the expression you chose, 'breathing space'.
- 'Breathing room'.
- Even better. It reminds us that we, schemers and victims alike, have bodies moved about in our schemes. We've talked some about about bodies in politics. Democracy only is possible when citizens share power, and have power to share with each other: without property, without being in a position of not having to beg strangers to be allowed to eat and have shelter, democracy is impossible. Bodies figure in Republican party doctrine of every man for himself, in Republican neutrality with respect to the president's bad character.
- How so?
- Character is a matter of habits, habits are built by repetition, and the building that habits construct is the body.
- I'm not sure I understand what you mean.
- We learn to see and recognize and object, a chair for example, by moving our eyes over one chair after another, until the movements form a habit of perception. When the 60 million of Americans support a man of the worst possible character like the president they are showing that they don't see character, they don't look at people that way any longer.
- How do they look at people?
- Without sympathy.
- Why?
- Because sympathy is felt because we can reconstruct in imagination the ethical habits of others, we rehearse, in our own body, the other's habit-building bodily movements. The think-tanks funded by the rich have deliberately used advertising and public relations to foster the idea that freedom and equality do not mean equal power to meet each other and discuss what is best: no, that might lead to a demand for a more fair distribution of wealth. In this liberal view, the view of the Democratic party, what is best for the individual is to be allowed to make his way in a world already structured well enough; no character, no body type or history, should be allowed to impede upon another in the journey through that fixed mass of circumstances.
- Both Democrat and Republican politics promote blindness to character. So what can we do in the breathing room we have? Even if somehow the Democrats get through the next two years, and in addition to the House, a Democratic Senate and president is elected to govern a, by then, after rampant privatization, deregulation, mergers and monopolies, an even more unequal population, what then? The population will have been even more deeply indoctrinated into the two competing, mutually exclusive versions of blindness to character.
- An insecure situation ripe for fascism.
- Exactly.
- So much for our breathing room! Neither side believes in character. Both sides believe the circumstances of the world are better not be meddled with: we must be left to work out our own fate in those circumstances we find ourselves in with the body we were born with. One side additionally wants to give every body an equal starting position, in terms of recognition of that body, not material equality, not in how much security in food or shelter one has.
- Equality of blindness to character in starting position is the Democratic difference, both parties believing in leaving material circumstances to themselves.
- Yes. Something happened to me last night, a conversation, of a type that seems to be a fate of my own particular circumstances, bears on this. Should I tell you about it?
- Of course.
- Our problem, in the time of our breathing room, is what to do about how the people of the two parties talk to each other who don't believe in human character, who believe in deliberate blindness to human character. The Democrats want to cooperate with their adversaries in order to block the approach of fascism, but, not believing in character, they don't experience sympathy, therefore they don't like each other.
- Like you, they like to talk, maybe.
- Sure. And this conversation occurred on that insecure foundation. Insecure because no one who couldn't care less for the person he's talking with can bear to be contradicted, or worse, proven wrong, by him. That our power of speaking or thinking has been threatened by contact with another is anti-democratic, is against the principle that everyone should be allowed an equal start to set out on one's fate through the unquestioned circumstances. To be contradicted is an aspersion on one's character, a judgment that is not to be tolerated.
- So what was this conversation about?
- You' won't miss the irony. At the film school a preview screening of a new documentary called Cleaners, about the people and procedures social media companies employ to censure postings, has just concluded, and a question and answer session with the movie's producers was going on in the theater. I'd stepped out to the lobby to have a cup of the coffee I'd brought with me. The only other person in the lobby was a former director of these screenings I'd made small talk with before, a graduate student in film theory from Germany. Like you've done with me, I struck up a conversation with him about the election results, and what we could expect from them. I presented these same ideas, in less depth, well-experienced with the limitations of a UCLA education. I told him that if things were going to change for the better people would have to be able to talk with each other, and for that to happen, they'd have to recover the idea of human character, of better and worse actions, and be able to like or not people for their making habitual in their lives better or worse actions. He replied there is disagreement about what is good character, and that some problems were intractable, like for example the problem of how to censor social media the movie being screened discussed. I said it was a problem easily solved. All that was required was that individuals themselves have settings they could control for what kind of posts they want to receive and what they don't. The reason this is not how social media censors is that these companies profit from the greater involvement that results from sending people more of what they already like to see. The problem is that these companies make more money, at least they think so, from the worst aspect of human nature being expressed, and that if people cannot agree that the panic and violence of mass behavior is undesirable they cannot be expected ever to meet to act democratically. The film student was replying with the party line that that's just one view among many, when a girl comes out of the box office. She tells me that our discussion is inappropriate. We're creating a disturbance, and must go outside. I tell her:
- So you want to censor our conversation like is done by the social media companies the movie is about? Are you joking?
The graduate student reproaches me with: 
- Statements like that are uncalled for.
 I sat to the girl:
- The public lobby of the film school in a public university? If that is not a place for discussion, what is?
The girl answers:
- I'm the organizer of this event and you are causing a disturbance.
- Conversation is a disturbance? Since when?
- If you don't leave I'll call the police.
- And then what?

- I said, 'Fine with me.'
- A character building experience.
- There's that. I waited for her to go back to the box office and call the police, expressed to the film student my contempt for his character, passive like a good German to this episode of social control, and went out to get my bike.

Further Reading:
What Is Capitalism?
Political Correctness

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Way Out

Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
   Not A Government Publication

- Have you heard the latest from our cretinous corporate Nazi?
- You're referring to the president?
- What do you think? Is there any way out for the country? How do we turn things around?
- No hope, if things go on as anthropologists say they have in history, where in every case we find that democracies decline into authoritarian states, and never find that authoritarian states rise up to democracy.*
- But our kind of state is different.
- How different?
- As our technology is different than that of primitive communities the anthropological argument is based on: we improve our science in a cycle.
- New knowledge, new tools based on it, new evidence based on use of the new tools, new experiment, new knowledge, new tools based on that knowledge...
- Yes. The rules governing our modern states are similarly not fixed. They're not supported by taboos, by unreasoning fear, but have been consciously chosen and maintained by reasoning.
- So as our democracy declines, as all have declined in history, we have in our technology of good not a continuous progress like in science, more like a balancing, a countervailing force lifting it back up.
- But no real progress. In myths of the founding of democracy the laws are said to be brought by a law-giver, mortal or god. Could it be that our reasoning is doing what it can, barely keeping our heads above water, while we wait for our very own lawgiver to appear?

Further Reading:
Kant & Compromise
_______________________
* 'One could argue that the formal order of the liberal state depends fundamentally on a social capital of habits of mutuality and cooperation that antedate it, which it cannot create and which, in fact, it undermines.' (Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity, and Meaningful Work and Play, - James C. Scott) 

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Superlative Horse

Uffington-White-Horse-sat.jpg
'The human voice conspires to desecrate everything on this earth.'  
- I've prepared three question for you. Ready?
- Ready.
- Is it true that once the world is defined it becomes a danger? Is there a way of living in an undefined, or at least differently defined world? Is there a connection between the Buddhist's calling the world an illusion, and the risk that whenever you picture a utopia, the perfect state, you'll treat people as means to the end of achieving that state, up to and including murder, even mass murder. Can you answer these questions?
- Do you really need me to? Isn't the answer all around us?
- You mean because I'm asking questions of the world, the whole world answers?
- Because there's something fundamental here. Why else would I always be encountering one form of answer or another? From movie watching today: So you'd make the world a utopia? Then 'get thee glass eyes, and like a scurvy politician seem to see the things thou dost not.'* In fact, it would make it easier to answer your questions if you'd allow me the help of a series of quotes. Alright?
- Fine.
- If you see the world as fixed, describable, defined, you'll tend to either run away from it or want to keep it that way. And if you want to keep it that way, you'll tend to treat people as means to the that end, up to and including murder, even mass murder. In politics we see on a larger scale the danger of living in a described world. Think about how the world looks when you take a walk. The changing sight is directly related to your continuous movement. You share responsibility for how the world is presented to you. There is nothing there of a fixed nature to establish a power relation to, wanting to keep it or be rid of it. But stop and continue to look, the world becomes legible, its form clearly defined. From last week's reading, the anthropologist Scott:
Compared to Haussmann’s retrofitting of the physical geography of Paris to make it legible and to facilitate state domination, the Bolsheviks’ retrofitting of rural Russia was far more thoroughgoing. In place of an opaque and often obstinate mir [world], it had fashioned a legible kolkhoz [collective farm]. In place of myriad small farms, it had created a single, local economic unit. With the establishment of hierarchical state farms, a quasi-autonomous petite bourgeoisie was replaced with dependent employees. In place, therefore, of an agriculture in which planting, harvesting, and marketing decisions were in the hands of individual households, the party-state had built a rural economy where all these decisions would be made centrally. In place of a peasantry that was technically independent, it had created a peasantry that was directly dependent on the state for combines and tractors, fertilizer, and seeds. In place of a peasant economy whose harvests, income, and profits were well-nigh indecipherable, it had created units that were ideal for simple and direct appropriation. In place of a variety of social units with their own unique histories and practises, it had created homologous units of accounting that could all be fitted into a national administrative grid. The logic was not unlike the management scheme at McDonald’s: modular, similarly designed units producing similar products, according to a common formula and work routine. Units can easily be duplicated across the landscape, and the inspectors coming to assess their operations enter legible domains which they can evaluate with a single checklist.
In yesterday's reading, the zen tale included by J.D. Salinger in his story Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters tells of not paying attention to the legible world:
Duke Mu of Chin said to Po Lo: "You are now advanced in years. Is there any member of your family whom I could employ to look for horses in your stead?" Po Lo replied: "A good horse can be picked out by its general build and appearance. But the superlative horse — one that raises no dust and leaves no tracks — is something evanescent and fleeting, elusive as thin air. The talents of my sons lie on a lower plane altogether; they can tell a good horse when they see one, but they cannot tell a superlative horse. I have a friend, however, one Chiu-fang Kao, a hawker of fuel and vegetables, who in things appertaining to horses is nowise my inferior. Pray see him." Duke Mu did so, and subsequently dispatched him on the quest for a steed. Three months later, he returned with the news that he had found one. "It is now in Shach'iu" he added. "What kind of a horse is it?" asked the Duke. "Oh, it is a dun-colored mare," was the reply. However, someone being sent to fetch it, the animal turned out to be a coal-black stallion! Much displeased, the Duke sent for Po Lo. "That friend of yours," he said, "whom I commissioned to look for a horse, has made a fine mess of it. Why, he cannot even distinguish a beast's color or sex! What on earth can he know about horses?" Po Lo heaved a sigh of satisfaction. "Has he really got as far as that?" he cried. "Ah, then he is worth ten thousand of me put together. There is no comparison between us. What Kao keeps in view is the spiritual mechanism. In making sure of the essential, he forgets the homely details; intent on the inward qualities, he loses sight of the external. He sees what he wants to see, and not what he does not want to see. He looks at the things he ought to look at, and neglects those that need not be looked at. So clever a judge of horses is Kao, that he has it in him to judge something better than horses." When the horse arrived, it turned out indeed to be a superlative animal.
And from listening a few minutes ago to Bob Dylan:
There's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all.
We want protection from seeing a legible world. We also want to find the superlative horse. How do we do it? We want to improve our lives.
- Well, how?
- Two ways: when we're at rest, when we're in motion. At rest: when we see something as beautiful we see it immersed in the world as a whole and no longer legible to power relations. And in motion, when, for example, in our walks, we keep a sense of unreality, impermanence of what we see that is reaffirmed continually by our awareness of our own movement's participation in what we see. Follow?
- No. I don't follow.
- Let's take a step back. Each sight of the world is a kind of knowledge of the world. Agreed?
- Agreed.
- I'm taking a walk and as it were I say to myself, that is a tree.
- The sight you see you've put into the category of tree.
- Yes.
- You know it is a tree.
- Yes. Now we have two basic ways of knowing the world: with probability, and with laws. Social roles are probabilities: what we can expect from persons of our type. But we can also know what we see by understanding its laws: how a tree branches out from the seed, and the different organs of leaf, fruit, flower.
- There's a regularity of form to what we see.
- That we've learned to see as it were by our walking our eyes over objects of this kind repeatedly. According to the linguist Noam Chomsky (recently checked in with) lawful knowledge is achieved in practice like this: when you’re studying vision you first ask what kind of computational task - what input, what output - is the visual system carrying out? And then you look for an algorithm that might carry out that task. And finally you search for mechanisms of the kind that would make the algorithm work. He sees three levels to our understanding of the world: computational task, algorithm to perform the task, and an organic, instinctual process or mechanical relation to the world: how the child knows to pick out the sounds that are language from those that are not, how in physics some molecules take on a spherical shape rather than cubic.
- How our eyes are made disposes to what in the world they can see.
- Yes. Obvious, when you think about it. There's the task of seeing a tree, how our eyes do it (identify the laws of what makes a tree a tree) and the physical mechanism - cells of nerves, eyes, brain - that we do the seeing with. How does identifying these computational operations help us avoid seeing the world as fixed, legible and then using people as means to achieving a preferable fixed state? If we know people statistically, how someone their age, sex, income, appearance, health is likely to act in these particular circumstances, the types of person state action is to be taken on is soon determined. In Chairman Mao's Cultural revolution, intellectuals were probable counter-revolutionaries, and were accordingly exiled into peasant life in the countryside. But let's say for our political rules we look at not probabilities but knowledge based on laws. At the bottom, foundational level, it may be for example that the part time slavery of employment by another and hoarding interfere with the natural social functioning; if we make a veto of them foundational to our social choices, we don't have to worry that a leader will identify us a potential hoarder or employer and exile us accordingly. Like a foundational theory in the natural sciences, such a politics could be said to underlie, but cannot be made a variable, an element of calculation of political action: the physical relation of our eyes to the world exists on a level not accessible to the ways of moving our eyes we learn in our coming to see the world.**
- With the difference that we can update our political foundation if we come up with a better foundation.
- Yes. At the foundational level the mechanism of our relation to the world is always engaged, we are always walking, consequently always protected from utopias and passions.

Further Reading:
Sick Of Art
Noam Chomsky & Mental Things
________________
*King Lear, Act 4, Scene 6
** 'In theory, though we don’t know how, you can talk about the neurophysiological level, nobody knows how, but there’s no real algorithmic level. Because there’s no calculation of knowledge, it’s just a system of knowledge. To find out the nature of the system of knowledge, there is no algorithm, because there is no process. Using the system of knowledge, that’ll have a process, but that’s something different.' -  Noam Chomsky, interview in The Atlantic Magazine, 2012.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Forest & The Trees

- I went into the cafe to look for the old lady you told me about,* the retired interior decorator who has no place to live, spending nights on the street as best she can.
- Did you see her? She's there every night until closing.
- I saw a long blue great coat sitting up at the back behind a table, and hovering above it a wide brimmed felt hat tilted down to vertical. I suppose there was a body and head somewhere there.
- She'd fallen asleep.
- I'm surprised she isn't thrown out.
- She's a customer, she's tolerated. No personal distinctions are supposed to be made in the prevailing culture of 'only the marketplace' where everything other than activities pertaining to buying and selling are excluded. I've been reading about how, seeing the forest exclusively a source of building material and kindling, Germans in the 18th Century began clearing away everything but a single species of tree that most efficiently produced those profit making materials, clearing away in the process insects, fungi, mammals, birds, ground cover that enriched the soil. Great profits were made from the engineered forest, until the once rich soil, feeding the trees but no longer being replaced, was entirely depleted, and the trees started dying. Our exclusively market valuing society has been depending upon for its efficient operation a store of rich human qualities, depleting them year after year, but clearing away the ways of life that once allowed them to be replenished, with the result that the marketplace society is marching towards totalitarianism. The anthropologist James Scott offers this summary:
1. The legibility of a society provides the capacity for large scale social engineering.
2. High modernist ideology [everything efficiently organized] provides the desire.
3. The authoritarian state provides the determination to act on that desire.
4. An incapacitated civil society provides the leveled social terrain on which to build.
- By 'legibility' he means a single criteria of human life that becomes the focus of attention.
- Yes. Scott continues:
The market is itself an instituted, formal system of coordination, despite the elbow room that it provides to its participants, and it is therefore similarly dependent on a larger system of social relations which its own calculus does not acknowledge and which it can neither create nor maintain. Here I have in mind not only the obvious elements of contract and property law, as well as the state’s coercive power to enforce them, but antecedent patterns and norms of social trust, community, and cooperation, without which market exchange is inconceivable. Finally, and most important, the economy is 'a subsystem of a finite and nongrowing ecosystem,' whose carrying capacity and interactions it must respect as a condition of its persistence.**
The old woman and me are to the cafe's business like the pests that swarm through the cleared out single species forest floor. As poisons and predators are introduced to control the pests, the cafe posted yesterday new earlier closing hours to chase her (and me) away.
- You two are chased away under cover of efficiency like the approaching American totalitarianism is undermining civility under cover of protecting the marketplace.
- Sometimes I can't stand the sight of her, her unprotesting acceptance of the unacceptable life she is living. I tell her she's the craziest person in L.A., wandering the streets at night with no place to go when she has a house to go back to and her retirement income...
- Which is not enough to rent even a room in LA.
- That's right. Her home, shared with a friend, waiting for her she's continuing even now to pay for. She can't stand being there she says because it's completely isolated, is 'out in the wilderness'. She plans to stay in L.A. until she's dealt with the swelling of her legs caused by never resting horizontal, and until she's refreshed her voice that is croaking from breathing the night air, and she lands a well paying interior decorating job like she had prior to retirement. I tell her she's a good example of the monoculture the anthropologist writes about, the single species of tree forest, the human society that is focused exclusively on the marketplace. If she can't enslave herself once more to the insanely hoarding rich, rearranging their furniture for them, she's decided that nothing she could do with herself in the wilderness is worth anything; no reading, no movie viewing, taking walks, gardening. Instead here she is, every night for the sake of achieving a return to ideological conformity to the market she's offering herself up to be murdered by one of the thousands of drugged out or schizophrenic who wander the streets of the city.
- What does she say?
- That no one has ever in her life talked so bad to her. I tell her I do it with the hope somehow I might get through to her, but anyway, it's funny: she feels the damage to her self image but within seconds revival of her self possession is achieved. It's like shooting down zombies in a video game that immediately jump again to be a target.
- And what does she say to that?
- She laughs.
- Smart crazy lady.
- Interesting, isn't it, the way we Americans do our best to keep ourselves somewhat sane as the market expands to totality and the soil of our once good nature is daily being depleted? It's a sad, ugly sight, the single species forest kept going with ad hoc measures that in turn require their own compensatory measures, citizens of the marketplace allowed to entertain themselves with any self-introduced personal identity, supporting the market with tolerance of everyone taking the place of the cleared away kindnesses.
_______________________
* The Third Way
** Seeing Like A State, James Scott, 1999

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Truth & Character In Politics

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- I've got something to say about what you told me yesterday.
- What did I tell you?
- About how Saturday afternoon you were sitting outside the closed University cafe, you look up and see eight heavily armed University police with pistols and rifles drawn and pointed in your direction. Did you see anything, the nearest policeman asks? You haven't. An alarm went off, the policeman explains. Would you mind leaving the table? You wouldn't, and you walk away a distance where a graduate student is watching developments. The student asks, What's going on? You two get to talking, while the police, satisfied with their menacing of the empty cafe, make their retreat. You express your opinion that the near daily observable increased in police activity at the university and the city has come with the new presidency. The graduate student expresses surprise at both the observation and attributed cause; it turns out he is a student of philosophy and to have voted for this president, though, he confides, he can't without risk to his career or of insult admit to other students or faculty this fact.
- Ok, I remember. What interests you now?
- The connection between the increased authoritarianism of this presidency represented by among many other things increased police activity, and the strange failure of study of philosophy to develop sensitivity to human character. The student can't safely admit to his vote because the president's obvious racism goes against the political correctness that dominates politics at the university. But I think most of the president's support came not from fellow racists but from people who thought he would send more money their way, would improve the economy, as this student says was true in his case. Didn't he care though about the astonishing number and obviousness of his lies, you asked? No, all politicians lie, more or less is not an issue, he explained. What, you ask, about the president's contempt for the poor and weak and his violence against women? Who knows what the truth is about these things, he replies, everyone in politics is lying about everything.
- He said he didn't impossibly try to determine the truth about the president's racism or violence against women and chose to vote for him simply because of his background in direct money making rather than his opponent's more devious money making through the intermediary of politics.
- And strangely, that same day, also a UCLA politics faculty member began a conversation with you at the research library, and he also admitted to supporting the president with the identical explanations that all politicians lie, it's impossible to discern the truth about them, and his expectation from him of a better economy.
- Yes, these conversations took place.
- Well, you gave out as your opinion that this president could only be supported by people who were lacking in character. What, you asked, did they have to say to that? And they both answered that, again, it's impossible to know the truth about how much his opponent lies, bad character in politicians is a constant.
- And?
- And that is where you left it, or they left you and the conversations.
- And now you'd like to continue. Proceed.
- Proceed I will! Violence, a product of fear and anger, produces forgetting. Violence, regularly repeated, becomes ritual: establishes a relation of power between two classes, those powerful like you and those against whom you use power; forgotten is actual relations between individuals and your weakness at the beginning of ritual practice. When the argument is made that we can never establish the truth, that everything is relative and expresses one bias or another, we are assuming a world in which forgetting is integral.
- Why?
- Because ordinarily, and we see rigorously practiced in the sciences, we remember our past experiences, and reach conclusion about new experience according to how well they fit in with past experiences. The more experiences that can be held consistent with how we understand present experience, the more we can rely on that understanding. The practice of violence in personal life leads to institutionalized violence in public life: to someone who always is forgetting himself, who does not seek coherence in personal life - which is a way of saying, someone who does not wish to improve his character - there is also no more or less coherent view of public life, all in the world is equally doubtful. This, while private life, the province of power relations established by repeated ritualized violence against an arbitrarily chosen enemy, is filled with certainty the result of all else being forgotten in the process. Personal violence makes for forgetting, which produces a public world entirely doubtful and therefore unreliable and therefore threatening, which leads to public violence in rituals meant to re-establish secure, certainty producing power relations. Leads, in one word, to fascism.
- You think, then, a professor of politics, and even more a student of philosophy, should have been able to see through the claim that all politicians are equally liars and been able to distinguish the president's lying in the service or violence, from lying that is in the furtherance of simple personal ambition.
- If the study of philosophy in particular, and science in general, can't be done otherwise, entails attempting as much as possible to be consistent, to hold together the world. A student of science and especially philosophy should be able to read in incipient fascism a different and much worse kind of lying and bad character than is demonstrated by the liar merely for personal gain.
- Which personal gain lying can be done calmly, deliberately? Without entailing a belief in a world entirely relative and always doubtful truths, or willingness to have recourse to violence?
- Yes. What do you think?
- If I don't express an opinion will you accuse me of lacking character and believing in a world with no fixed truth?
- I will.
- Then I will exercise my memory and paraphrase Plato: 'Something like you say must be the truth.'

Further Reading:
Believe It Or Not
Compassion & The Story
You Have To Have A Story

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Mafia Economics

Image result for finnish stock exchange wiki

- Got anything for me?
- Well, yes. I think I do.
- I'm listening.
- I've read how some economists, studying of all things the Finnish stock exchange, have decided that the free market isn't really free, at least not at first.
- What is it at first?
- Exclusive, mafia style agreements to give each other preferential, better than market treatment, made for the benefits of trust and security between individuals and groups who know each other. After a while, the economists say, 'disruptors' enter the market, offering extra-good deals causing the mafia arrangement to break down as one or both partners take the better offer and enter into the now again temporarily free market.
- Do I have to complain that nothing ever comes out of the mouths of economists but idiocy like that?
- Why not? It's good to hear it out loud once and a while. Besides that, what occurs to you?
- That anyone who actually does trading knows that a private arrangement comes about not for gain but against the idea of gain and profit.
- As an expression of friendship.
- Yes. The arrangements don't break down when extra-advantageous trades are to be had.
- When do they break down?
- When the practice of friendship breaks down. Something more like the economists describe happening in the Finnish stock market is what England feared the American colonies would do: struggle for independence the moment they were strong enough to do without the trust and security of being tied to the mother country.*
- Which in practice meant that there were in reality no other than practical ties involved.
- Yes. In present politics we can see the movement in the opposite direction, from market to mafia. Political power was once distributed throughout a market of numerous purchasers, dominated but not controlled by rich individuals and corporations. Now an exclusive deal has been made where a cabal has been formed to gain and hold total power for those dominant groups collectively.
- The Republican Party acting in service of billionaires and multinational corporations.
- Yes.
- So you claim this fatality, this decline of our country happened not because of the security and advantages to political agents forming that cabal - that is 'idiotic, economist's thinking' - but because, what? ideas of friendship have decayed, which ideas previously provided security from otherwise unrestrained markets? I'm a little lost. How does friendship function to provide security in the political market?
- In a couple, fairly obvious ways. First, in reminding that politics has to keep as much as possible out of private life, the sphere in which friendship operates. And second, by ensuring that the ideas of politics demanded are those that are friendly: that is, which respect human nature and aim at helping it flourish.
- And there we are, all the way from the Finnish Stock Exchange! I gave you mafia economics, you gave back a friend's politics. We did pretty well from our trade.

Further Reading:
Debt!
_______________________
* See: Theodore Draper, 'A Struggle For Power'

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Third Way

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1.

- Individual and society. Society corrupts individuals, who then seek to perfect society, to find the society that won't corrupt the individual, and then find that any fixed form of society corrupts the individual because in the service of making that society any form of violence, any means to that end, can be justified.
- Expressed by Huxley when he wrote that the only end worth adjusting means to attain was charity, that is, kindness.
- Which cannot provide a defined form of society. Yet, why not?
- Because kindness done by society defining rules is not kindness.
- Because kindness arises from sympathy, a fellow feeling. Kindness is a relation between one individual and another, a sort of third way between self concerned individuality and selfless social conformity. Language is not the same as thought. The upscale world of classical physics is not the same as the quantum scale world - that's as far as I've got. Your thoughts on this?
- The social world works with anonymous atoms. Atoms are types of things isolated from one another. The quantum world works with obscurely entangled particles. The types of things ordered by rules, experimentally discovered, is the work-in-progress society, is more rule guided language than continuously merging thought. While the quantum world is that of individuals who can't be understood separate from their relations to other individuals, a relation established and reestablished on a case by case basis.
- And?
- The French Revolution brings about the totalitarianism of the Terror. Rousseau's endangered individual is told to lose himself in a societal 'general will'. American democracy delivers itself up to a general will that is a collective acting out of a gangster's self-willed individuality.
- The human being isn't getting it right, not for long, not finding that third way of the individual experimenting with rules, attached neither to any defined form of society nor to a self-destroying individualism.


2.

- That old woman* I told you about, the one who thought it was impolite to be concerned with the private life of the people around her, involving herself instead in details of the lives of the famous? She came back to LA where she lived most her life from her isolated rural home with her friend, another old woman. Why? To be back in the thick of things. The acquaintance she stayed with in LA turned her out, and with not enough income to pay for hotels or even a room, ends up nights sleeping on the street, days hanging out at cafes. The possessions -  clothing, bags, photographs, manuscripts - she left with her betraying LA acquaintance he later claimed were stolen from his place. She tells me she wanted to reestablish herself in LA, but with her portfolio and printed resumes gone, and no place to live, job search was out of the question. From stress and sleeplessness she's become emaciated and developed serious health problems from never lying down: most of her money's going to paying doctors for treatment instead of paying rent she can't afford. I tell her every time I see her: Go home! She refuses. Too isolated there. Her friend whom she's still in good relations with and regularly talks to on the phone: she asks too much from her. Too much money, too much help. Is it better, I ask, to slowly die on the streets of LA? Be robbed or murdered by one of the thousands of roving derelicts out at night? She says she appreciates my concern, my health advice about resting horizontal; she is trying to be careful. She claims unconvincingly those health problems prevent her travelling, and repeats her unwillingness to return to rural isolation. I say:
- So you came to LA to join in the community of robbers and murderers?
- There are a lot of nice people here.
- Where?
- This market for example.
- They don't like you here. They're being polite. Or they pity you.
- How do you know?
- Wearing the same clothes every day, carrying around with you that tattered plastic shopping bag, you make it easy for them to type you as destitute, someone with no friends, no family, no job, no money, no past and no future.
- You're wrong.
- You came to LA to wander days among strangers, be treated by them with well intended gestures of kindness, and risk death every night sleeping on some bench on the street, when you have a home with a friend who wants you to return.
- It's my life. I'm not going to explain myself to you.
- Fine. I've warned you.
- And I appreciate it. 
- Do you see why I told you this story?
- No, I don't.
- This old woman, she's a sort of runaway, she's on a pilgrimage.
- Seeking what?
- The third way between individual selfishness and total-society. On her own, living by her own choices, and living among others for their gestures of kindness.
- But she has no place to live. And sounds like from what you say she is slowly dying.
- She's mixed the categories of individuality and society, but both are empty.
- Yet it seems to work for her. She must be crazy.

Further Reading:
The Forest & The Trees
__________________________
* The Bag

Friday, August 17, 2018

What Is Capitalism?

Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
    (Not A Government Publication)

1.

- I don't know how you can stand coming to this Starbucks. Where do these people go to when it closes? What time is closing?
- 12:30. That big man - he admits to weighing 300 pounds - the days he gathers a little money playing guitar on the street; restaurants to give him food in exchange for posting on social networks video reviews he makes on the spot. When they lock the doors here he'll push that cart you see outside down Beverly to a doorway of one of the high design furniture showrooms.
- Where he'll sleep?
- Yes.
- Who are the others?
- Drivers from Armenia. A couple of medical students. That man I suppose was just released from the hospital where he was kept locked in for observation. He'll wander up and down the streets all night.
- Going nowhere. Let's change the subject.
- Fine.
- On the subject of a past conversation, why political critique doesn't seem to change anything:* what do you think happened with Karl Marx? His ideas changed the world, but not really for the better. He was wrong in his predictions of collapse of capitalism and worker led revolution. But people are talking about him now because he was right about increasing inequality.
- Maybe only his timing was off. Capitalism's collapse and worker led revolution are coming. Is the timing right for us to talk about this? The cafe closes in 15 minutes.
- Then don't waste any time.
- You know how we often talk about ritual as a spontaneous social structure, a social behavior that seems to be an inherent possibility of human nature? Marx made his predictions about the future of capitalism assuming the presence of several of these sort of machines in capitalist society.
- And these machines were?
- (1) Advance in technology allows products to be made cheaper, workers to be paid less, and employers make profit. (2) Competition in the free market drives down prices, allows workers to be paid less, forces development of new technology, and employers make profit. (3) New technology not forthcoming at cheap enough price, employers increase their demands on workers to the point where these part-time slaves, wages at subsistence level and working all waking hours, are indistinguishable from full-time slaves.
- More injections of technology. More competition in free markets.  A race to reestablish slavery in all its purity. The fact of there now operating such social machines...
- But is it a fact?
- Assume they exist as along a path a society may or may not take. The path offers a direction, not a destiny. Society can get on and off. There being such machines possible, workers living in the midst of their operation Marx believed would wake up to their enslavement and rebel.
- Look around you. Where's the revolution?
- I think I know why. They're closing now?
- We have a couple minutes. Why no revolution?
- Marx's story of history progressing from primitive communism maintained by ritual, to slave agricultural society, kingdoms, feudalism, capitalism, and finally communism again, this time with technology: this is somewhat like the story told by Kabbalah, but with a big difference. In Kabbalah, progress is made accumulating good in the world, not in reaction to accumulation of bad.
- Kabbalah's machine is located in a world of persisting beauty, truth, wisdom, not society.
- That's right. Marx's ideas were applied in China and Russia, seeing only, reacting only to bad accumulations, bad machines. But Marx himself wrote: "I can only relate myself in a human way to a thing when the thing is related in a human way to man."** To take the final step out of slavery requires more than knowing you are a slave. Knowledge from taking that human way has to be allowed to accumulate. Relating myself to the world in a human way requires that I step off the path that surrounds me with people and things that are not related in a human way to me.
- Then we'll see about the revolution. Closing time.


2.

To continue where we left off. Spending our leisure time on premises owned by the corporate giant Starbucks, consuming its products under pressure to be quick...
 - Yes, yes. You claimed capitalism involved ritual-like spontaneously occurring social arrangements in which technology increases productivity, allowing employer profits. A second spontaneously occurring social arrangement was the free market's competition being applied to the first arrangement, making sure technology is endlessly and continuously applied to reduce costs, and provide employer profits. Am I summarizing correctly?
- Yes.
- When in the past these social machines couldn't be applied, when technology wasn't up to the task, wasn't cheap enough, employers made use of a reserve army of unemployed they'd gone to the trouble of creating for times like these, or collusion among each other to fix wage rates, or monopoly control of markets, to directly take their profits from workers in the form of reduced wages or longer working hours. Correct?
- Yes.
- Technology and the free market have been put to the service of extending part-time slavery into full-time slavery. My question to you is: you said this activity is like ritual in being a spontaneous occurring social arrangement; but isn't it itself ritual? And if so, what does it express as a ritual?
- Employers first acquired their capital by violent acts dispossessing their future workers of land held in common, and by other aggressive manipulations that have no connection with technology and the free market. Employers go back to use of these means when technology and the free market fail them. Linkage of slavery to technology and the free market regularly fails, is established, and recovers from crisis by means of actions inconsistent with, that do violence to technical application in the free market. Violence, and myth-like lack of consistent practicality, suggest ritual.
- Again: ritual expressing what?
- That if an "accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,"*** that is the result of the functioning of natural laws of market and technology. Ritual serves to hide from ourselves the fact our society is based on violence and slavery.
- Then it's true?
- Capitalism is ritual? The formal requirements are met: repeated acts reenacting a story of emerging out of weakness reborn into strength by means of violent, unquestioned acts in the company of others. You and me here at Starbucks, consuming the corporate employer's products at higher and higher prices, we are like slaves forced into a dance with a fanatical master. I don't know. Dancing with us do corporate employers feel powerful and reborn?


3.

- Capitalism moves towards a closed system. Those dispossessed from their lives on the land become employees. Employers make a profit out of the labor of their workers who can't afford to buy the products they make: with employers profit added the total cost of products is more than the total of workers wages. Workers can buy only a fraction of what they produce.  Employers consume some of the excess. The rest must be sold in territories outside the system. As capitalism and the free market expand their reach, and populations in the territories, dispossessed from their lives on the land, become employees producing additional products that have to be sold, that outlet is closed. Competition drives advance of technology; the amount of products made for fixed cost increases. But workers can't pay more for employer products than employers pay them. Employers have the choice of hoarding the excess products, or allowing with higher wages workers to have some of them and live more than a life of subsistence: maybe then they'll work better and make more products.
- But how do employers profit from that if all they can get from their employees for their products is the same amount they have paid them in wages?
- They allow them credit to buy more.
- But that is their money too!
-They don't let it get too far away. In one scenario workers buy houses on credit at low interest rates, the boom in house buying is followed by a bust, interest rates are raised, refinancing is impossible, payments become unaffordable and houses are repossessed.
- Poor workers. Made slaves, dispossessed of their land, are allowed to buy back land, only to be dispossessed again! Is it a stupid question to ask why employers don't stop persecuting their employees and let their businesses run on without profit? Why do the rich-beyond-any-use capitalists think they need their profit?
- A company doing business in the billions operating without demand for profit presently exists: the watch manufacturer Rolex. At the death of its owner the company became a private foundation without loss of competitiveness.
- Then there is no institutional, practical necessity for profit.
- Profit isn't the only value. Have you ever tried to read Marx's Capital?
- I tried.
- Even second hand, hearing it discussed, I experience a strange sense of unreality. Value, Marx says, is socially useful labor. Employees produce that value, but employers take most of it for themselves as their profit, without doing any socially useful labor themselves. Their relation to their employers, labor, is used to explain what money is, to prove that employers are robbing employees of what is theirs.
- What's wrong with that?
- It's an explanation in terms of the severely limited world of the marketplace where everything is to be bought and sold, including people, that is, from the world of part-time slavery Marx is trying to explain. In the larger world something is socially valuable passed from one person to another as an act of sympathy, as participation in another's life, as a creative act, as an act of humor, as an act of disencumbrance...
- All of which hasn't the slightest meaning to capital's slavedrivers. They won't willingly give up the god-like act of remaking human beings from part-time slaves into full-time slaves. They're in it for the hell of it.


4.

- What is capitalism anyway? Adam Smith's free market?
- Capitalism goes on fine without it. See the monopoly controlled, subsidized, cartel-ridden, government-bribed big business U.S.A.  
- Marx's wage labor plus class struggle? 
- That's a little closer. 
- Then you tell me.
- Capitalism is wage labor that uses its wages to buy products it has made. 
- A cycle.
- Yes. 
- Why?
- Why what?
- Why not slavery pure and simple? Supply the slaves food and shelter, and employ them to build pyramids to your glory or to make you luxuries. Why have them buy back the products they have themselves made?
- It has to do with the social instability of the times and the development of modern science and its similar non-stop cycling: results of research and experiment are turned to technology which yields new research, experiment, and technology. In the capitalist cycle, money invested in production pays employees who use the money to buy products they themselves have produced. Money cycles through the production process back to the employer, to be reinvested. The world may be changing all around, but life is clear to scientist and capitalist: discover the rules, apply them, repeat. For the non-scientist, non-capitalist, there's a problem: we know the rules of the world, but not of the mind, or of the mind's relation to the world. The philosophy that develops around the time modern science's cycling begins solves the problem by identifying mind and body, in the words of Spinoza, as two ways of looking at the same thing. Or in the what we call now 'process philosophy' of Marx: seeing in the world the action of the self in coming to know it; seeing in the self the world it has developed acting in response to. The employee has his world removed from his grasp when the product he makes is taken away from him as the property of his employer. Separated from the world it had been acting on, the employee's body is seen to perform meaningless repetitive actions. Later, when the hours of wage slavery have expired, exercising his freedom, his mind is engaged in attempt to recover his lost self that has been mysteriously attached to one of the objects he and others like him made and now are offered back to him for sale. The employee, who becomes a material in the production process as the employer solves his mind body problem, becomes part of the world to be researched and incorporated in new management techniques. As a human being the employee is invisible to the employer, part of the body that is no problem. The employee, if seen at all, elicits contempt as a failure, while the employer in his own judgment is an undeniable success as he participates in the great creative cycle of money passing through production back to money, money representing mind, the production representing body. The world we live in, capitalism triumphant, loads the majority of people with the unsolved mind body problem. Overwhelmed with the practical difficulty of getting enough money to keep body going, body becomes alien, standing in the way of creative intentions.
- The employer has contempt for his employee's life failure. But what the capitalist is doing - it might make the mind body problem disappear, but it isn't really creative. It is loveless, destructive of human lives, profoundly ugly.****
- As it must be. The stable class relation between employer and employee, locked together with a machine's causality, is like that of the warrior class and the producer class in the city imagined in Plato's Republic, a utopia of total management in which justice is supposed to be writ large in the relation between classes, membership in which guarantees not the least happiness.
- Capitalism's destination is Plato's Republic? Seriously?
- We'll have to see. Workers have their cycle: product - wages - product. Employers have their cycle: money - product - money. Scientists have their cycle: knowledge - technology - knowledge. These cycles working together end in forming the three classes of the republic: producers, warriors, guardians. At which point all cycles cease. The workers can only work, all means to do anything else having been squeezed out of them by capitalists demand for profit. The capitalists, with no more profit to be made out of workers, settle down into the warrior role. They protect the little world of the republic acting in which shows them who they are; they protect the republic against all those who do not have their being made by acting in that little world. And scientists, they turn to the task of keeping the republic free from change, workers working, watchdogs being watchdogs.*****


5.

- What's happening?
- Very early this morning, 2 am, I took part in a little drama. I was sitting outside at Starbucks, the cafe had locked up for the night, when the middle of my three brothers in Thailand appeared on Facebook chat and asked me your question.
- 'What's happening?'
- Yes. I answered, with some grandiosity: I'm thinking about capitalism. Brother Jerry asked:

- What about capitalism?
- Was it true that it involved a particular form of slavery, wage slavery, part time slavery, in which the slave buys back products made by him or slaves like himself, because of the opportunities it provided for a more continuous torture of slaves than previously tried forms of slavery?

- The torture being forcing the slave into exhausting work under dangerous conditions, then forcing him to buy at higher price products he himself or his fellows had produced, paid the minimum possible to keep him alive.
- Yes. Brother Jerry's types in that he'll be back on line soon, he wants to take a shower. It's hot humid daytime in Thailand. I return to my draft page, but not for long. A young, well dressed man walks up to me. He says:

- Sorry to bother you. But I'm in trouble. I've never felt like this before. I don't know where I am. I don't know what to do!
- Sit down.
- Thank you.
- What should I do?
- Were you at a bar?
- I don't remember.
- Where are you coming from now?
- I don't know!
- Where do you live?
- 234 Grey Lane.
- I don't know where that is.
- Long Beech. Where are we?
- West Hollywood. How did you get here from Long Beach? Car? Train?
- Train. Then Uber.
- What are you doing in West Hollywood?
- I don't know why I'm here.
- Can't you call someone?
- I don't have my phone. Or my wallet. Can I use your phone?
- You've met the only man within miles without a phone. Are you married?
- I have a girl friend.
- Where is she?
- I don't know.
- Do you know her phone number?
- Yes. Can I borrow your phone?
- You just asked me that. I said you've met the only man within miles without a phone.
- What am I going to do? I've never felt like this before. I don't know what's happening. I want to go home. I don't drink, smoke. I don't understand.
- You've been drugged.
- Drugged?
- You're the fourth to come up to me here late at night who didn't know where he was.****** You aren't coming from a bar?
- I don't remember. Can't we call the police?
- As I said, I don't have a phone. It's two in the morning. We'll sit here together a few minutes. Somebody will come by who'll let us use his phone. Relax.
- Ok.
- Is your girlfriend here with you?
- I don't know. Can we send her an email with your computer?
- Sure. What's the address? What's your name? Her name? Well Michael, you two seem to have the same last name. Are you married?
- Yes. No. I don't know.
- I don't know where my wife is but she doesn't want me to know. Let's ask that man:

- Hey! This fellow here has been drugged, his telephone and wallet taken. Can he use your phone to call his wife?
- Of course.

Michael makes the call. I can hear ring tones, followed by a recording. Then an hysterical woman's voice. Michael says over it, Hello! Hello! He can't get a word in. He passes the phone to me. There's a lot of noise from a crowd, a bad connection, or both.

- Hi, I'm at Starbucks with your Michael.
- I don't know where Starbucks is.
- Beverly and Robertson.
- I don't know where that is!
- Where are you? Try to stay calm.
- At the Abby.
- That's close. He's coming. Wait there.

Michael seems not to have followed the conversation. He's sitting, dazed.

- Time for you to go. She waiting.
- I'll take him, says the man as I return him his phone. He's wearing a cook's jacket. Probably he's just off work at the new restaurant down the street.
- Michael gets himself up, says to the cook, 'This guy helped me a lot.' The cook holds out his hand to shake mine, and off they go.

I return to my computer and the question whether capitalism is a form a slavery chosen for its opportunities for more constant torture. Wasn't what just had happened, this drugging, a good example, wasn't it an unnecessarily painful way to steal? I'm about to to pursue this line of inquiry when my brother returns to Facebook chat. I have to warn you this is going to be one of those dialogs where one side does all the work and the other throws in an encouraging remark here and there to keep things moving. So then. Having reappeared on Facebook chat, brother Jerry asks me:

- Have you made any progress?
- Factory owners argue that they make their employees work twenty hour days because, without the lower price that allows them to sell their products for they wouldn't be able to compete. But I wonder whether the group of people willing to becoming factory owners are not a preselected group, that of those willing to torture.
- Interesting point of view.
- If only a minority of employers had a predilection for torture, why didn't the majority of them pass laws to prevent torture and so take out the factor of competition? It is sometimes argued that the additional profit to gained from torturing workers is needed to invest in new technology. Others say No, technology cannot be constantly replaced because of the high cost, risks, and delays of installation and testing.
- That figures.
- The question is: Why make slaves buyers of the products they make? Why not have them directly make luxuries for their employers? Or if employers couldn't use any more luxuries, build pyramids to their glory? Why not forget about wages, just give them a box of cheap food every few days? The Trump administration actually proposed something like this yesterday, to change the food stamps program from providing a credit card to a box of what is certain to be junk food.
- Wow. Is that true about the Trump administration?
-Yes. Competition, it is argued, drives employers to torture employees. But is that true? Apple products sell for vastly higher prices than their competition, yet they are only marginally better for a few purposes and for others not better at all. Consumers will pay more for products that are different.
- That's for sure.
- What stops a 19th century factory owner from saying to himself, I'd rather be dead than a torturer of children? How does the fact of competition avoid that question? I think the argument from competition is false: only because the factory owners already were immoral was it possible for the argument to be raised. What do you think?
- I think you make some really good points.
- Am I right or not?
- You're right.
- What would happen if you asked American Indians or Australian Aborigines, way back at the beginnings of the industrial revolution, if in exchange for a lot of glass beads they would torture children, what would they say? You'd explain further that they couldn't get the beads without torture because their fellows would be willing to do the torture if they didn't. Wouldn't they laugh at you, knowing their fellow Indians and Aborigines would never torture masses of children?
- Well, they would laugh.
- A very small number of people own controlling interests in most of the world's largest corporations. It is they who decide company policies. Nothing forces them to make immoral choices. They have no need of more money. They don't need to be concerned about stock values since they don't ever need to sell their stock. They don't need to be concerned about dividends because their companies could, like the Rolex watch company does, operate very successfully without insisting on making a profit.
- Very true.
- So it looks to me like factory directors and stock owners positively want to torture. Their preference for torture precedes any pressure felt from competition. They chose the system of part time slaves who buy the products they make because it puts workers continuously, as both producer and consumer, in the control of a process torturing to them. Do you see any other explanation?
- I completely agree.
- If a few of the world's top billionaires spent only half of their billions to eliminate poverty, allowing the poor to have again the life on the land the billionaire's forerunners had taken from them with violence, world poverty would be entirely, immediately eliminated. But the billionaires don't consider doing anything like it. They don't think of changing the system of torture that their wealth originates in. If you asked them why not save a million people from starvation every year, they'd say it was politically impossible, meaning governments would stand in the way. But put a few million dollars in the pockets of politicians and their objections would vanish.
- That's for sure.
- Probably not myself being employed by any torturer I'll just copy this Facebook chat, post it on the internet and say I'm done.
- Haahaaha. Too funny.
- Haaha. It'll be funnier when you see I'm really going to do it.
- I'd like to read the finished masterpiece.
- I'll send it.

- The chat with my brother ends there.
- What do you think happened to the guy who didn't know where he was?
- We can hope he went home with his wife.

Further Reading:
Ritual, Technology & The Free Market
Capitalism & Compulsion
The Politics Of Truth
The Technology Of Good
Let's Sue Starbucks
Indifference 

P.S. Two Forms of Torture: In prostitution, the body of the prostitute is forced to act against desire, the mind forced to imitate attraction to (or passive acceptance of) the buyer. In capitalism, work forces the body to act against desire, and the worker's mind is made to take on the role associated with the products acquired. See: Prostitution & Torture. And: Capitalism, Prostitution, Torture.
______________
Laugh & Do Nothing.
** Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844.
*** Karl Marx, Capital.
**** The recollective experiences of love, beauty, and truth are experienced resting from movement. See The Care & Feeding Of Vampires & Zombies, and Noam Chomsky & Mental Things.
***** Regarding Capital's drive towards absolute control, see The Dream Of Pacification: Accumulation, Class War, And The Hunt, and How To Read Plato's Republic. 
****** See Killer At Starbucks