Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Thursday, March 21, 2002; Thursday, March 21, 2002

intelligenza affettiva 1 ... yes, it's in Italian. I know, but I couldn't find any equivalent in English.
What I'm working on just now is this: if we rationalize our moment by moment activities by using a reduced frame of reference, such as the bottom line of a ledger or spreadsheet, we experience vastly facilitated communications. That is, we find ourselves working efficiently, and that's a good feeling. But to what end? The though I'm developing here is that under slogans such as "Human Need, Not Corporate Greed" and books such as "To Have or To Be?" is the actuality that the goal corresponds to the human needs of a very very small set of individuals. Optimizing a corporate entity's ROI may give me a bit of a rush ... a craftsperson finds pleasure in work well done ... but that rush may be totally alienated from the actual full-cycle consequences of my activities: that corporation may be in the business of exporting germ-warfare technology.
In the end I have to argue that the sanity that justifies the democratic project is, not merely the emancipation of those who suffer most grievously but, ultimately, the decent processes and produces that correspond to the human needs of those engaged in the activities of civil society including the market. Selling tainted meat may be enormously profitable, but there surely must be a consensus that the thrill of profiting from larceny is pathological.. The surest test of validity, seperate from the hard and clumsy test of jurisprudence, must be the impact on the agents and those on whom the consequences are visited. Otherwise we have the case where what is legal is as though moral, and the price of a cocktail in a high-brow lounge can be computed in terms of dead brown bodies. With this we see the brute basis of even this highly developed society: the wealthy and powerful deny fundamental human rights, and the rest is fifth business to confuse and bewilder the audience.
Would you, as a bricklayer, find pride in having built first-rate ovens for Auschwitz? As a contractor, in having managed the project? As an engineer, in its design? You might find this shocking, but the commandante of the camp was proud of his staff's professionalism, and emphasised that they carried out their duties in a way that would not increase the suffering of the inmates (discovered in testimony given during the Nuremburg trials).

Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Tuesday, March 19, 2002; Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Reminded of a workshop last year on the subject of working conditions in developing countries and the impact of neo-liberal globalization, I remembered the vision I had of men of colour labouring in work camps while the women and children were being fed into a sausage machine.
Did we overthrow the monarchy for their excesses and oppression in order to be oppressed by an indlugent bourgeoisie? Because the bourgeois has defaulted its role. Human rights are purely a matter of cost-benefit analysis ... while it remains true that what is legal is not necessarily moral, we can't even rest assured of legal rights. Those who live in extraordinary luxury from profits generated by others have an eye on that profit and nothing else: legal sanctions are merely a cost of doing business. If there was a market for sausages from the human remains of labourers worked to exhaustion, this legion of ghouls would move to meet it. And the painful reality is that those who've invested some their meager wages in the market would take home some small share of that unholy wealth.
Always carnivorous, we are become cannibals.

Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Monday, March 18, 2002; Monday, March 18, 2002

I would weave, but I have no loom, and no wool. I would garden, but I have no tools, no seed, and no land. I would make a piece of cloisonee, but I have neither metal nor enamel, and no kiln in which to fire the work. I would play music, but I've too often played alone. I would create a painting, but I have no canvas ... not even paper. I could buy some paper, but that would take at least five of my last ten dollars, and I have few groceries. I would busk to make a bit of money, but it's cold out and even here at home my feet ache terribly. I would bake, but even the porridge and apples I brought to Tent City the night of the freezing wind depleted my supplies. I would make candles, but haven't got wax. I would work stained glass, if I had some. I have been productive in all these ways but now, when I need it most, can do none of this. And so it occurs to me that 25 years ago, five years after abandoning my military carreer, when I steped aside from bourgeois success in order to explore the poverty of wealth, I took precisely the right turn.
Now that I need most I see my need most clearly. Remembering my times of conventional plenty, and contrasting them with what I experienced as the last gasp of communalism, I can compare the two. Doing so I am disgusted at the prospect of adopting a position that would validate or confirm the ideology of nuclear self-sufficiency. Yet no alternative exists!
A quarter century ago, with a promising post in public broadcasting (fairly close to "right livelihood", I think most would agree), I declared that there needed to be less "stuff" and more of the good, not just for myself but in general. And so now, having made due with progressibely less (ironic how my computer hardware is on its last legs, and here I am in the IT age with so much knowledge in that field!) I find my initial convictions confirmed: the addictive syndrome that is consummerist materialism leaves us so prone to victimization and manipulation that we haven't the wit and will to defend our biosphere, our social environment, or even our own rights to security and dignity. We have been systematically misinformed and dis-educated, to the point that we stubbournly and wilfully confound the instrumental tactic of wealth with the strategy of developing self and other with the aim of fulfilment and happiness. To play a variation on the poem, the best lack all direction while the worst and inspired with imminent destruction.
But, to in deed stay true to the activist's method, what do I actually do?! Well, re-placing myself in the moment (I hope to describe the method of "linking back to spontaneous presence" sometime soon) I plan the rewrite of the G8 Call to Action for the G7 Finance Ministers' Meeting in Halifax to have it resonate with local groups' present activities, I write this, and I have a cup of tea! *smile*

* My morning began with hearing that the Pentagon has issued a list of targets under consideration for pre-emptive nuclear strikes ... and Russia is on it. I wrote a letter to my local piece group (" Paroxism of Greed"). Included were these two links: " Pentagon Bootprints Around the Globe is by Ramsey Clark's International Action Center, and "Stepping into the Fire" is in IONS Review #59, the journal of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. IONS will the holding a Community Conference April 19-21 in Vancouver.

Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Sunday, March 17, 2002; Sunday, March 17, 2002

Reading a commentary on the plite of the Palestinian people and finding Gaza described as a gulag, that formal style of systematic oppression brings to mind not only prison, concentration camps, and slave labour but the whole infrastructure of apartheid (which, you should know, means "seperate development").
I find myself wondering if it's time to develop my notion of globalization as moving towards towards the institutionalization of work-camps. (The many free-trade zones and maquiladoras that already exist are a first step in that direction. Likewise the special assembly factories created in some parts of East and South East Asia.) Only a small proportion of the managerial and technocratic elite would ever need to have actual contact with the inmates of these institutions and they would, in those situations, be easily described as agents of extension and guarantors of minimal rights. The end result, pretending that the biosphere could support the aberrantly excessive consumption of the insanely rich, would be hyper-polarization; the majority of human kind would be reduced to trolldom by the iron laws of competitive acquisition and intense accumulation.
Alienated from the basic sense of self-dignity that allows for a compassionate solidarity, the new aristocracy will have neither inclination for nor sense of nobless oblige. The most accomplished will live as though warring gods and the rest like sick junkies scrambling for their next fix. All of this off the wealth created by teeming billions.