Archive for Crisis

Democracy vs Mythology: The Battle in Syntagma Square (via sturdyblog)

Posted in Economics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/06/2011 by Living out of Eden

Democracy vs Mythology: The Battle in Syntagma Square I have never been more desperate to explain and more hopeful for your understanding of any single fact than this: The protests in Greece concern all of you directly. What is going on in Athens at the moment is resistance against an invasion; an invasion as brutal as that against Poland in 1939. The invading army wears suits instead of uniforms and holds laptops instead of guns, but make no mistake – the attack on our sovereignty is as violent and … Read More

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Cooking for the weekend

Posted in Crisis, Culture, Economics, Ethics, Philosophy, politics, Society, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 17/06/2011 by Living out of Eden

I started early this week, to think about preparing a very innovative dinner, maybe on Friday, maybe on Saturday. I googled for a “revolutionary” meal. In fact what I wanted to cook was an authentic social revolution.

I searched throughout the news in the last months, getting at least a couple of promising options. I  had made up my mind, and decided to move forward, inviting some friends, but then I realized I didnt have at least half of the required ingredients. It wouldn’t have been an issue, if the missing spices would be obtainable in my surroundings.

We are convinced or better said, persuaded, of being part of an organized and structured society. There’s no room for the unexpected, meaning by unexpected, evil. Society has, however, enough room for unpredictable events, which are somehow tolerated by citizens as a price to pay, for the benefits of civilization, should they come from within.  It’s a “give and take” game, with more or less equality beyond some fluctuations and cycles, that had also been accepted as part of the deal.

But what the recent events in Egypt, Middle-East and Spain have shown, is that the revolutionary movements are driven more by a middle class that doesn’t want to lose the acquired privileges, rather than by a firm conviction that the world as we know it must stop.

We are still more like a flock of sheep being kept safe and alive for somebody else’s purposes and held together by means of few sheep dogs and even less shepherds. As long as we are taken out to pasture, we don’t really mind about how legitimate our democracies are. We can negotiate part of our freedom, if we still get our salaries, or else, unemployment benefit in return.

It’s annoyingly obvious we are still getting confused about what society is, what it ought to be, and even worse, what we aspire it to be. We constantly mix in a very rookie way, with absolutely no critical thought at all, our wishes or our points of view with what the “objective” reality is leaving unveiled. We are at the cutting edge of our respective professions, we handle everyday state of the art technology, but we still lack of sufficient severity, to become aware of where the true solutions to our society must be sought.

The most efficient organizations we are able to achieve today, at the beginning of the XXI century, are just small groups overlapping and having random connections according to each one’s interests at any time. There is still considerable amount of literature, trying to deal with the difficulty of working in teams, even when aligned behind common and agreed aims.

We cannot thus, think that there is full agreement on Democracy and procedure of governments, I’m sure any discussion would not resist the least analysis, without finding that the most basic concepts are becoming dissolved: Humanity, human rights, equality of opportunities, developing world, true democracy, faith, crisis, etc.

So, today I find more comfortable to describe Society as a mixture of individual aspects, erratic, like in a Brownian motion necessarily diverging due to each one’s interests, and with no true purpose of reflection on free will or the status of Autonomy in Society.  This approach to a conception of Society, that will inevitably reject the idea of harmony, cohesion or brotherhood between people, is hard to swallow, but let’s face it, it’s more honest with the outcome of civilization and actual progress of mankind after 5.000 years of history, than the illusion of people having the power.

How can societies possibly work then?

How do they manage to result in a more or less predictable course?

We could say that the only consistency comes from the links between people, which are not laid in terms of empathy but convenience. Human beings are gregarious just because the other has something that may benefit me. Once I get what I want, my “brother”, my “neighbour” becomes disposable and new targets have to be searched.

The other reason is that power agents in society (being it leaders, government, corporations, bank system) settle a mainstream, while at the same time fixes a maximum diversion degree. Anytime we want, we can put to the test the fact that whatever or whoever might attempt to break out this unwritten and unsaid “envelope”, will immediately attract “forces of law”, but more effectively, will receive automatic rejection and skepticism of peers, like antibodies sent to attack strange “invaders” within it’s own body.

A revolution should be based on a situation that reached a critically unsustainable status, and since the new paradigms are already on sight, provokes immediate action. There is not a single second of time to be wasted under the same structure, once the right path has been found.

Civilization and revolution constitute an oxymoron.

Denial

Posted in Crisis, Culture, Economics, Ethics, Philosophy, politics, Society, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , on 11/06/2011 by Living out of Eden

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/08/opinion/08friedman.html?_r=1

Sheep (Housemartins – London 0-Hull 4)

A Deficit in Humanity (via sturdyblog)

Posted in Economics with tags , , , , on 05/06/2011 by Living out of Eden

A Deficit in Humanity I have spent the last two days arguing; with friends, with people in the pub, with nameless hecklers in assorted online fora, acquaintances on Facebook and Twitter. Arguing about the deficit, the debt, the cuts, the best strategy for recovery. Increasingly, I have felt the debate, though important, is inorganic and devoid of sense. Don't get me wrong – I score more points than I have scored against me. My theories have been sound and well-researc … Read More

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The perfect storm

Posted in Crisis, Economics, politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12/05/2011 by Living out of Eden


It’s not about the movie, but I’d like to apply the concept of simultaneous events adding their forces to create a major one, which consequences will be further more than just the sum of the outcomes of each of them, separately.

An airplane brought down would be an example of such conditions, since being safety measures in commercial aviation more than redundant, the only possibility for such a terrible catastrophe to happen, is the coincidence of many factors at one time, since one of them, even some of them, would not be enough to cause the disaster.

It would be a great exercise to find the “perfect storms” that happened to mankind all through its history, in order to try to prevent future ones occurring, taking out, obviously, those caused by natural forces.

I would say that in the past, scale was a factor that had it’s benefic impact: when two cultures engaged in a war, Continue reading

Crisis & paradigms – Are you afraid of ghosts?

Posted in Crisis, Culture, politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 24/04/2011 by Living out of Eden

There’s a constant tension between individual and collective matters. And individual ones must be kept within certain limits in order to make a coherent whole, being it called “culture”, “religion”, “beliefs”, “tradition”, and so on.

Tradition (and in times like Easter, becomes quite evident) helps us fill the emptiness. By following traditional customs, we avoid having to decide what to do great part of our time. Otherwise, it would be a huge effort to think, plan and execute activities for such an amount of time in one’s life.

There are other “tools” society created to keep people thinking in a similar way: paradigms or utopias. That way, although there are differences between each one of us, we all tend to move in only one general and predictable direction.

Examples of utopias and paradigms are: Continue reading

Structure

Posted in Crisis, Culture, Economics, politics, Society with tags , , , , on 22/04/2011 by Living out of Eden

A structural system is, usually, invisible to the eye.

When referred to buildings, structures transmit loads to the ground and because of its stiffness, buildings stay erect. Slabs are also structural and they probably are the components which we are most aware of.

With exception of masterpieces in the Modern Movement of Architecture, where structure became an icon itself, as well as an essential part of the design, columns, beams, trusses, cantilevers and, obviously, foundations, tend to be concealed within other architectural parts of the buildings, i.e.: walls, raisers, between flooring and ceiling.

At basement levels, where parkings are mostly placed, structure turns somehow architectural since it shows itself, besides its original function, as space limit and modulation for the circulations and parking lots.

People don’t usually pay attention to structure until it becomes an issue. As mentioned, they are obstacles in parkings, in order to maneuvering; they are a harder resistance within walls – you cannot drill it unless with specific equipment; slabs, on the contrary become a solution when you decide to extend a mezzanine; they arise as a concern, when cracks appear in unexpected places.

In Society, we could apply the same concepts: those of us who are not involved in construction or building design, don’t really worry about these matters, as in any structural system, load bearing elements are supposed to be stable, stiff and reliable. Only those who study these  “hidden” parts of society organization, care about the backbone, pillars, nodes, and foundations of it. Continue reading