Archive for oxymoron

Another oxymoron …

Posted in Behaviour, Crisis, Culture, current events, Democracy, Ethics, Financial crisis, politics, Revolution, Society with tags , , , , , , on 03/09/2011 by Living out of Eden

I have recently read a comment in a blog, about democracies and government system for countries and the possibility of building a Multinational Democracy, in which the resigned opinion of the person commenting was that a “Benevolent dictatorship” turned out to be the most effective one for countries.

To me, a “benevolent dictatorship” is plainly an oxymoron: Dictatorship could eventually include positive actions, but shouldn’t be categorized as “benevolent” for it is intrinsically omitting freedom as a substantial aspect of the individuals, as well as freedom of society itself as a whole. What that assertion might have implicit, is the fact that today democracies in the World do not take individual freedom into account either, so being that the case, it would be much more transparent a dictatorship. Too bad to realize, but the sooner the better.

Therefore, it comes to my mind a new one oxymoron which I would put into words as: “tolerable slavery”.

In a tolerable slavery, you are not totally free, nor totally slave, to the extent that the benefits you get constitute a threshold, a good option against any other possible social structures. You are given a certain range of alternatives from which you can “choose” but you are not completely free to discuss and/or reject them, under the risk of being “tagged” as “anti-systemic”. Even to propose alternatives is banned, for that is the task of politicians and governments.

When I try to discuss with friends and acquaintances about the “big” issues that are nowadays affecting our societies, I usually end up hearing with sarcasm: “well you know, we’ve been fixing the world”, meaning that it’s pointless to discuss global matters that we’ll never be able to solve, to which I answer with a new question on whether we should discuss small scale issues, that are attainable but absolutely useless, instead.

On the other hand, I always believed that your thoughts determine the way you act. So, if you support the statement that the reason for the current crisis is just that common people got mortgages way beyond their possibilities, you are dismissing banks, control and surveillance organisms, governments and central banks from any responsibility. So, when next systemic collapse occurs, you will need to find another factors and causes to explain it, or simply believe the new official story the mass media will sell us.

Opposite to this approach, if you think that in the best case scenario, systemic risk has been underestimated by all the institutions mentioned in the previous paragraph,or that this has been a “designed” crisis, in the worst case scenario, you will probably not have more chances to change things, but at least when the next crisis comes you will already be aware of it, and may be, even make sounder decisions when voting in elections or in referendums.

Our need to believe and make our own lives bearable, make us think that we want the life we have – that’s a way to define “happiness”. We accept “gifts” given to us by civilization, as if we are entitled to them, and under the frame that we, thus, get some satisfaction in exchange for our sacrifices. But the truth is that, by means of getting prizes for our “achievements”, we are actually being bribed more than rewarded. Those prizes are: TV, sports, credit cards, cheap credit (well, not anymore haha), nice vacations, all kinds of gadgets at reach of our hands, even Internet (something that will be adjusted sooner or later, as long as it’s not limited to entertainment/superfluous information).

Try, instead, to demand more  or better education, more or better public health system, more or better cultural channels. We know already what the answer will be.

When slavery was a natural status of Society (we must deal with this fact – that scarcely 200 years ago, there was explicit possession of human beings), I suppose slaves accepted gifts from their owners, but they surely never took that situation as “natural”. They surely knew those gifts didn’t make their freedom to be a single millimeter closer.

There’s a kind of “one-way valve” being installed in the financial system and, thus in the economic one as well, so money flow will  basically move in one only direction. We can therefore expect that “gifts” will be less and smaller each time. By the time we want to react, after realizing that we do not decide our own reward, it will be too late.

We just have to be aware of this slight difference. That one between accepting and choosing.

It shouldn’t come as surprise if in the next years, a new and reinforced outbreak of religion shows up in societies around the world.


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.