what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Denial, Distraction and Despair

What the corporate media considers important are, for this blog, mere farts……hot air and smelly……
The last post was the blog’s first reference to the political events which have been gripping the European and British press for the past week – the French Presidential Election and the recently-announced British General Election. For “groupies”….fantastic opportunitities to rave….but, for the more sober amongst us, events “full of sound and fury but signifying…nothing
Postman was ahead of his time in suggesting that politics was becoming a mere spectacle – those, after all, were the days when people such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were forging their neoliberal vision and dramatically changing the institutional landscape.
Nobody could suggest then that politics and political power were of no significance….
But globalisation and privatization have changed all of that…..Macron and May don't even have the stupidity to behave like Canute but happily allow the tide to swamp them…..  

The last line of the previous post mentioned a little book – Journey to Earthland – which puts the sound and fury in proper perspective. It is one of these rare books which impresses from the start – with a powerful, extended metaphor of the train-wreck of a journey the world is on - with the various passenger reactions of “denial, distraction and despair”.
The author is founder (some 20 years ago) of a small institute which “conducts studies and simulations to illuminate global challenges and possibilities. It summarized its insights in a 2002 essay Great Transition; the promise and lure of the times ahead which set a broad historical, conceptual, and strategic framework for contemplating the global future”. 
Its wider aims can be read here – and some of those associated with it profiled here. One strand of its thinking can be read in this pamphlet -The Homebrew Industrial Revolution (2010); a very short video seen here; as well as this presentation.

The author is Paul Raskin and he sets out 3 fundamental scenarios (each with 2 varieties) -
- Conventional worlds ("market forces"; and "policy tinkering")
- Barbarization ("Fortress World"; and "Breakdown and dystopia")
- Great transformations ("Eco-communalism"; and "New paradigm")

Readers will know that I am not, these days, easily impressed by books on these subjects…..but this one impacts on all sorts of levels – the tautness of its language; the clarity of the various schemas it presents; the imaginative use it makes of sketches of the future and "retrospective stories"; and its brevity – just 110 pages. 
The one criticism I have is the usual one - that it lacks a “further reading” section with a clear structure which pays attention to the various “schools of thinking”; and, ideally, a short explanation of the reason for each book's selection…As it stands the booklet refers almost exclusively to the Institute's own writers. Some other assessments can be read here 

Update; review of book here - from the great Irish Feasta people.
Those interested in pursuing the theme could usefully dip into Organising for the post-growth economy

The painting is my only example of Tony Todoroff's work.....from his Cyprus collection

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