Archive | November 2013

Stephen Harper and “Absolute Power”

There is a disturbing trend amongst the “democracies” (if one can still meaningfully call them that) towards increasing centralisation of political power in the executive, especially amongst those nations of the so-called “Anglosphere”. Canada is no different in that regard.  Here, as elsewhere, despite all the vain rhetoric about “open government”, of enhancing “transparency and accountability”,  of small government and “Big Society” (in the words of the UK’s David Cameron), the tendency is in the exact opposite direction from the Big Rhetoric.

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From Proletariat to Precariat

Probably one of the main reasons that the political and social philosophy of Karl Marx failed to preserve its relevance and potency in the post-World War world was owing to its reliance for its effective realisation upon an enduring class of labourers called “the proletariat”. This social class of toilers no longer exists in the same way Marx understood the condition of labour and of the working class of his time. No one today speaks of “the proletariat”, at least in the Western context (although it might be said to exist still in places like the sweatshops of Bangladesh). Instead, some today speak of a “precariat”, and this creature is something quite different from the traditional proletarian.

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Shamans, Satyrs, and Cyborgs

It is very instructive to compare the meaning of the Shaman, the Satyr, and the Cyborg as variations on a single them, and that these types correspond to the different structures or articulations of consciousness as described by Jean Gebser in his Ever-Present Origin (for they do represent something that is, in fact, abiding about the archetypal human). They all, in their own terms, represent the intersection of the natural and the supernatural, the temporal and the eternal, but within the framework or context of their own consciousness structure.

In those terms, the shaman is the image of the magical structure, the satyr the same image within the context of the mythical structure, and the cyborg the same image within the context of the mental-rational (or technological) structure, for the cyborg as symbolic form relies as much for its meaning equally upon the persistent, unconscious influence of the magical and mythical.

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The War Economy and “The Clash of Civilisations”

I awoke this morning to a lengthy article by Konrad Yakabuski in The Globe and Mail. The article is entitled “Will technology provide the path to prosperity?” In the article Mr. Yakabuski argues that “prosperity” (in narrow terms of “wealth”) is linked to continued technological innovation, (or what we might call by its true name, “creative destruction”), and moreover proposes the American socio-economic model of creative destruction as worthy of emulation.

The article is less interesting for what it says than what it apparently takes deliberate pains to obscure about the current economic model. What is called “the System” is, in fact, a war economy. It is a death-dealing economy and a death-dealing way of life, and the truth of this model must be hidden from view. If Vanadana Shiva has described the neo-liberal model of economics as “anti-life”, it is because at its core it is a war economy. This is what the euphemism of “creative destruction” is intended to gloss over.

So, let me tell you the true history of the economic model of “creative destruction” which Mr. Yakabuski (and many others) obscure. And the real history of the System is that it is state of affairs that could have been deliberately modelled after Orwell’s dystopian society of his famous book 1984.

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Modern Man’s Disintegration

The disintegration of an era, and the disintegration of the human social type that was produced and reproduced by that era, cannot be separated.  What this means for what we now call “Late Modernity” or “post-modernity” is that the mode of consciousness and perception that has characterised the human type called “modern man”, as well as those social institutions that have supported the reproduction of this type, are also fracturing and disintegrating and becoming dysfunctional — the “deficient mode” of that form of consciousness Jean Gebser calls the “perspectival” or “mental-rational structure”. And that is to say the type called “Rational Man”.

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Naked Ape or Satyr? On Being True to the Earth

With this posting I want to elaborate on a comment I posted in reply to a comment by LittleBigMan on “The Foreign Installation” and the problem of depersonalisation (which is, in effect, what Erich Kahler calls “the loss of the human form” or “breakdown of the human form” in his book The Tower and the Abyss). You can review that comment here.

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