Are We (Collectively) Depressed? - *We need to encourage honesty above optimism. Once we can speak honestly, there is a foundation for optimism.* *Psychoanalysis teaches that one cause of dep...
52 minutes ago
"In ... communist society ... labour has become ... life's prime want ... only then can ... society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!"
- Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875)
A fellow dressed in white approached him and said, “You have the right to have whatever you want; any food, pleasure or amusement.”
Charmed, Juan did everything he dreamed of doing during his life. After many years of pleasures, he sought the fellow in white and asked, “I have already experienced everything I wanted. Now I need to work in order to feel useful.”
“I am sorry,” said the fellow in white, “but that is the only thing I am unable to give you. There is no work here.”
“How terrible,” Juan said annoyed, “I will spend eternity dying of boredom! I’d much rather be in hell!”
The man in white approached him and said in a low voice:
“And where do you think you are?”
- Paulo Coelho (2015)
The civilization I’m imagining was smart enough not to stick around. They decided to simply leave the galaxy.Forms of Green ideology and policies exist that totally distort the better ways to look at these questions. As a corrective it needs to be pointed out that the earth and humans are incredibly robust, not fragile. Humans are part of nature. We are social, tool making, future planning (teleological) animals. That is how we differ from other animals and in fact it makes us superior to other animals. There is no static balance in nature. Irreversible change has always been the real state of the natural world. See Alston Chase's In a Dark Wood: The Fight over Forests and the Myths of Nature where he critiques the biocentric viewpoints that "There is a balance of nature", 'that nature can be "healthy' or "unhealthy" ' in a similar sense to the human body being healthy or unhealthy, that "in the beginning all was perfect" (a Garden of Eden or Golden Age) and that "Nature is sacred".
After all, they could tell the disaster was coming, at least a million years in advance. Some may have decided to stay and rough it out, or die a noble death. But most left.
And then what?
It takes a long time to reach another galaxy. Right now, travelling at 1% the speed of light, it would take 250 million years to reach Andromeda from here.
But they wouldn’t have to go to another galaxy. They could just back off, wait for the fireworks to die down, and move back in.
So don’t feel bad for them. I imagine they’re doing fine.
The Proactionary Principle emerged out of a critical discussion of the widely used “precautionary principle” during Extropy Institute’s Vital Progress Summit I in 2004. The precautionary principle has been used as a means of deciding whether to allow an activity (typically involving corporate activity and technological innovation) that might have undesirable side-effects on human health or the environment. In practice, that principle is strongly biased against the technological progress so vital to the continued survival and well-being of humanity.In Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) Thomas Malthus claimed that exponential population growth was produced by God so that human beings would be forced to learn such virtues as abstinence and restraint. According to him, it would always be the case that population growth would outstrip the resources available to satisfy the needs of society, and thus it was not possible to improve society by increasing production, since the population would always increase to catch up with and eventually outstrip it. (Reference: Marx and Morality by Vanessa Wills, pp. 139-51 and 227)
Understanding that we need to develop and deploy new technologies to feed billions more people over the coming decades, to counter natural threats from pathogens to environmental changes, and to alleviate human suffering from disease, damage, and the ravages of aging, those involved in the VP Summit recognized two things: The importance of critically analyzing the precautionary principle, and the formation of an alternative, more sophisticated principle that incorporates more extensive and accurate assessment of options while protecting our fundamental responsibility and liberty to experiment and innovate.
The precautionary principle, while well-intended by many of its proponents, inherently biases decision making institutions toward the status quo, and reflects a reactive, excessively pessimistic view of technological progress. By contrast, the Proactionary Principle urges all parties to actively take into account all the consequences of an activity—good as well as bad—while apportioning precautionary measures to the real threats we face, in the context of an appreciation of the crucial role played by technological innovation and humanity’s evolving ability to adapt to and remedy any undesirable side-effects.
While precaution itself implies using foresight to anticipate and prepare for possible threats, the principle that has formed around it threatens human well-being. The precautionary principle has become enshrined in many international environmental treaties and regulations, making it urgent to offer an alternative principle and set of criteria. The need for the Proactionary Principle will become clear if we understand the flaws of the precautionary principle.
“A handful of people, having no relation to the will of society, having no communication with the rest of society, will be taking decisions in secret which are going to affect our lives in the deepest sense.”
I’m writing this to you from a refugee camp in Germany. All the Syrians here are so grateful for the welcome people have given us but we want to live in Syria, not Germany.
I was 22 when the fighting started in 2011. I was living in a neighbourhood called Ghouta, a short drive from Damascus. A year after the uprising the regime of Bashar al-Assad placed Ghouta under siege - this means nothing comes in or out - no food, no medicine, nothing. A year after that the regime attacked us with chemical weapons and more than a thousand were gassed to death. For years they have also dropped barrel bombs and missiles on us from regime aircraft. Normally we got struck eight times a day. How could we continue to survive that hell on earth?
I had to cross twenty checkpoints on fake documents to make it out of Syria. Each time your heart stops as you know that there is a chance you will be arrested and taken away. I made it out and survived a death boat. I have survived so many ways a human being can be killed.
At home I was a medical student. We had so many attacks I assisted more surgeries than most surgeons do by the time they retire. My dream is to only have to perform ‘normal surgeries’, what I trained for, not picking shrapnel from bombs out of children's limbs.
We cannot go back while the war continues which is why we are asking for you to do everything you can to stop the war. All your governments agree there needs to be a political transition in Syria but no amount of words have made it happen. The Assad regime is still in power, killing seven times more civilians than Isis.
World leaders have to act to stop the bombs from the sky. We can survive sniper fire, chemicals but the barrel bombs are unbearable. A no-fly zone or creation of safe zones would save lives instantly. And I would be the first person on the plane home.
Right now everybody in Europe is talking about us refugees. But not many are listening to us. Please sign this petition to Europe’s leaders asking them to do more to stop the bombs and help us return home.
“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”
“Marx was a materialist. He believed that nothing exists but matter. He had no interest in the spiritual aspects of humanity, and saw human consciousness as just a reflex of the material world. He was brutally dismissive of religion, and regarded morality simply as a question of the end justifying the means. Marxism drains humanity of all that is most precious about it, reducing us to inert lumps of material stuff determined by our environment. There is an obvious route from this dreary, soulless vision of humanity to the atrocities of Stalin and other disciples of Marx.”Something closer to the real Marx:
- Eagleton, p. 128, goes onto refute this stereotype.
The award-winning human rights activist credited with starting Iceland's 'pots and pans revolution' ... So in the crash in October 2008, I had already done things like this. I’ve learned a lot of what I would call facts or methods through my years of dealing with people. So what I simply did is what Socrates did in the old days, I went around asking people questions. I just placed myself in front of the parliament building and I asked people, ‘Can you tell me what has happened in this country?’ and ‘Do you have any idea what we can do?’ I stood there every day during the lunch-hour and it didn’t take me long to understand the seriousness of the situation, the anger among people and how scared people were.* Lessons from Iceland's 'pots and pans revolution' (2015)
In the long run then, what may turn out to be a more significant outcome of the revolution is the cluster of citizens’ initiatives that emerged, dedicated to improving the way democracy works. Rather than focusing on banking reform, the post-revolution push from Icelandic civil society has been on fundamental democratic reform. The logic runs: why treat the symptoms of a system that has become corrupt when you can tackle the disease itself?
The Icesave dispute was a diplomatic dispute that began after the privately owned Icelandic bank Landsbanki went bankrupt on 7 October 2008, with a subsequent dispute evolving between Iceland on one hand and the United Kingdom and the Netherlands on the other* A short history of banks and democracy (2013)
The extraordinary bounce-back of the banks reveals the most disturbing, but least obvious, largely invisible, feature of the unfinished European crisis: the transformation of democratic taxation states into post-democratic banking states (includes a section on Iceland at the end)3) IMMI (International Modern Media Initiative) and FOI (freedom of information),
Speech at Digital Freedoms Conference, Reykjavík (Iceland) → his comment about Iceland becoming the Switzerland of bits was influential in kick starting the FOI movement. Video, roughly 60 minutes, entertaining history of his involvement in internet freedom issues. At 33 min. he makes the point that an important historical battle is being waged over control of information.
International Modern Media Institute (Icelandic and English sections)About IMMI
The International Modern Media Institute was founded in 2011 with the aim of bringing together the best functioning laws in relation to freedom of information, expression and speech, reflecting the reality of borderless world and the challenges that it imposes locally and globally in the 21st centuryIMMI FAQ
IMMI FAQ* Reports & Academic Papers
This page includes the report "Beyond WikiLeaks: The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative and the Creation of Free Speech Havens" (pdf 24pp)* Heimildarmyndir um IMMI
“From the Hell of the Crisis to the Paradise of Journalism” (1 hour 13 minutes) provides a dramatic and informative introduction to what has been happening in Iceland since the economic crisis of 2008 to the near present. Some sections in Icelandic but nearly all of it is in English.IMMI-resolution-progression
FOI progression since the IMMI resolution: A new Information Act was passed in January 2013. It does not satisfy the IMMI resolution’s level of quality and assurance, as referred to with regards to the public’s access to information.The Data Narrative - The Reykjavik Grapevine (2013)
Smari McCarthy: there has yet to be a country in the world that has promoted global competitiveness on the basis of the best human rights, data protection and legal transparencyRead a five-point guide for a better internet (2013)
A proposal for a new constitution for the Republic of Iceland delivered to the Althing by The Constitutional Council on 29 July 2011* Iceland: direct democracy in action (2012)
Content includes: transparency, fairness, environmental protection, national ownership of natural resources and stronger checks and balances between the 3 branches of government
Do you want the proposals of the Constitutional Council to form the basis of a legislative bill for a new Constitution? 67% said Yes.* Jon Elster í Silfri Egils 13. maí 2012
Would you want natural resources which are not in private ownership to be declared the property of the nation in a new Constitution? 83% said Yes.
Would you want a new Constitution to include provisions on a National Church of Iceland? 57% said Yes.
Would you want a new Constitution to permit personal elections to the Althing to a greater degree than permitted at present? 78% said Yes.
Would you want a new Constitution to include provisions to the effect that the votes of the electorate across the country should have the same force? 67% said Yes.
Would you want a new Constitution to include provisions to the effect that a specific proportion of the electorate could call for a national referendum on a specific matter? 73% said Yes.
Interview with constitutional expert Jon Elster about Iceland's new constitution - mostly in English after an Icelandic introduction (video)Hope from below: composing the commons in Iceland (2011)
Jón Þór gave his word shortly after the elections two years ago, that he would step aside for his supplementary MP, Ásta Helgadóttir, and he is sticking to that word. So, he is retiring from politics and returning to his previous day job, which is to load asphalt onto trucks at an asphalt mixing plant. Of course it is stuff like this which is leading many voters to the party. It seems to be something different from the more established parties .../update
What could other parties learn from the success of the Icelandic Pirates?
This, he believes might help explain why the Icelandic Pirate party has been surging in the polls, while Pirate parties in Europe are struggling: It isn’t all about the internet.“Of course I don’t know enough about all the details, and there are different factors in each country, but to my understanding some of the European Pirate parties have not prioritized democratic reforms, and direct democracy in the way that we have done. But some of it has to do with the fact that Iceland is a small society, and you can more easily achieve things in a small society you can’t in larger societies.”
June 2015 Opinion Polls: Pirate Party 33.2%; Independence 23.8%; Progressive 10.6%; Social Democratic Alliance 9.3%; Left-Greens 12.0%; Bright Future 5.6%; Others 5.5%* We, the people, are the system | Birgitta Jónsdóttir | TEDxReykjavik
The 21st century will be the century of the common people – the century of you, of US* Birgitta Jónsdóttir official blog
Poetician and activist in the Icelandic Parliament for the Pirate Party* Making Better Decisions - The Reykjavik Grapevine (2013)
Smari McCarthy: For the last several years I’ve been thinking about the way we make decisions in societies, and the way in which we often sacrifice our ideals on the altar of expectations. This line of thinking has led to the development of a number of systems broadly termed “liquid democracy”: electronic voting and deliberation systems geared towards helping people make better decisions together. In the Pirate Party, for whom I’ve become a candidate, we use one of these systems of my design to make decisions. Anybody can propose an idea, and after a rudimentary sanity check it goes into a process where anybody can comment and propose changes to the proposal, after which the entire thing goes to a vote* Pirate Party Iceland Chatgroup (Facebook)
This a group where Icelandic Pirates of the English persuasion come togeather and discuss politics, policies and current events in the Icelandic Political arenaPirate Party, Iceland
Background information about iceland's pirate partyIceland: portrait of the pirate as a young politician (2014)
Smári McCarthy is an Icelandic/Irish innovator and information activist. He is executive director of the International Modern Media Institute, a co-founder and board member of the Icelandic Digital Freedoms Society (FSFÍ) and a participant in the Global Swadeshi movement. He is a founding member of the Icelandic Pirate Party,and stood as their lead candidate in Iceland's southern constituency in the 2013 parliamentary elections. He was the spokesperson and one of the organizers of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative.You Have It All Wrong! - The Reykjavik Grapevine (2012)
Early interview of Smari McCarthy about the formation of the Pirate Party6) other political issues
Story telling which links together the Economic Crash of 2008 - the Arab Spring of 2010-11 – the current Icelandic Freedom of Information movementSmári McCarthy: Failure Modes of the Modern Rational Utopia (2013)
video: High-modernist idealists, when given unfiltered power to act on their ideologies, have a tendency to try to enact their vision through authoritarian means - the creation of laws and regulations, the manipulation of the major consensus narrative, through socioeconomic restructuring and societal design. As with the sudden introduction of any large scale perturbation to a chaotic system, the results are often unpredictable. There is plenty of evidence of historical flawed attempts at constructing rational utopia, where the perceived ability to control society leads to disaster, but the modern rational utopia - in its technologically superpowered glory - promises to fail in ways we have not yet fully fathomed. I talk about how authoritarianism is changing its nature, how rational utopias come about, look at how they fail and why fail, and try and figure out what we can do about it.Passing Over Eisenhower (2013)
Smari McCarthy: there is a plan emerging. The hackers and the human rights activists, the net-freedom-blah people and the technophiles have been awakening from the post-Arab spring burnout and remembering the things that need to be done to prevent the next Mubarek. Better, simpler, more usable cryptography. Peer-to-peer, verifiable, anonymous monetary systems and democratic decision making systems. Secure communications and full transparency within governance.Liquid Democracy In Simple Terms
To begin with the political aspect, roughly speaking we can distinguish five degrees of “government”: (1) Unrestricted freedom (2) Direct democracy ____ a) consensus ____ b) majority rule (3) Delegate democracy (4) Representative democracy (5) Overt minority dictatorship The present society oscillates between (4) and (5), i.e. between overt minority rule and covert minority rule camouflaged by a façade of token democracy. A liberated society would eliminate (4) and (5) and would progressively reduce the need for (2) and (3). I’ll discuss the two types of (2) later on. But the crucial distinction is between (3) and (4)Delegative democracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Delegative democracy, also known as liquid democracy, is a form of democratic control whereby voting power is vested in delegates, rather than representatives. This term is a generic description of either already existing or proposed popular control apparatuses
Unemployment in Greece is officially at 26% of the working population (1.4 mil. people –unofficially they are more than 3 million If you take into consideration those that they have stopped reporting their employment state, and mostly those employed only a few hours per week gaining less than 200€ per month)These facts were posted as background information to raise support for a petition. But even more interesting someone else then posted this reply:
Another 3 million people live near the poverty limit (that is, they cannot afford buying all meals of the week, or pay their utilities, let alone their mortgages, or taxes),
And another 3 million people can hardly cover all of their mortgages and taxes.
Leaving less than a couple of millions that can run a life of the average middle class in a western country
Needless to refer to the few thousands that have built monumental fortunes by evading taxation and suppressing labor costs.
Only a socialist revolution can save the Greek people and can grant her an honorable, sustainable human life, as advocated by KKE (Communist Party of Greece). All options other than this are either a lie or an illusion, which does conceal today's capitalism's realities or consciously deceive the working masses.I scrolled through my blogroll for related articles and found this one, which drills down deeper into the facts and the anger: Email from Greek Voter With "No Dreams and Nothing to Lose"; Greek 'No' Vote Demographics
Syriza govt is managing this crisis for capital and tries to keep the country in the line of interests for greek and international capital, not for the working class. Like Podemos in Spain. Capitalist Europe is shrinking in all respects and it is time for working peoples to search for other, much more realistic options. Otherwise, peoples will miss these days.
"I'm a serious student of the economic debate, with a degree in economics and in science: renewables demonstrably cost less than consumables, and I nor the World Bank, nor http://thesolutionsproject.org/ nor https://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/Renewable_Power_Generation_Costs.pdf nor Swanson's Law nor http://www.skepticalscience.com/renewable-energy-is-too-expensive.htm nor the IEA do not tacitly or otherwise agree to the myth of cheap consumables; it's a bald misrepresentation to suggest consumables are cheaper."Not one of these links claims that renewables are or will become cheaper than fossil fuels so that poor countries could switch to them while industrializing. The last, from the group behind this course, repeats what is in fact usually claimed:
"When you account for the effects which are not reflected in the market price of fossil fuels, like air pollution and health impacts, the true cost of coal and other fossil fuels is higher than the cost of most renewable energy technologies."This is true but completely irrelevant to the question of whether renewables will or can replace fossil fuels in the poor countries that are industrializing.
"We were not separated from the majority of men by a boundary, but simply by another mode of vision. Our task was to represent an island in the world, a prototype perhaps, or at least a prospect of a different way of life"