Tag society - humanist @ roua.org :

wishes for the next year

Written by Romeo Anghelache no comments

Here's my list of wishes for the next year: - banning the wearing of suit and ties in public places, gatherings, conferences, workshops etc. - cutting the background sound from the TV news (the one that says tam tapatam tarapatam pa tam while you're struggling to figure out from the noise what the hell happened today) - writing in any State's Constitution, or in the UN charter, the universal wealth limit principle: no person should own at any time a wealth greater than the equivalent of a lifetime of average salaries - universal Internet infrastructure availability and accessibility gets recognized as a gauge of democracy - a psychiatric evaluation is performed for each militant non-smoker, the out of scale results are made public - no private funds are available to anybody involved in any electoral process; alternatively, all the parties and parliaments get dismantled and replaced with civil servants proposed and elected online on professional grounds by the entire population for task-oriented jobs; - all those who benefit from some form of copyright today will pay back this year all their sources of inspiration, from the inheritors of Aristotle to the people and cats wandering the streets today; these copyright owners will also have to buy a picture of a hard drive and not the real hard drive itself for the price of the real hard drive; - all the research paid at least partially from public funds is guaranteed to be comprehensively accessible worldwide - usage of personal cars in urban areas gets banned - the words manager, customer, stakeholder, business and market are eliminated from the vocabulary of those who are not directly involved in commercial activities - all mentions of religion are eliminated from any State's Constitution (inspired from here)

to my friend, the anarchist

Written by Romeo Anghelache no comments

Dear anarchist friend,

I believe I am a friend of yours because we have similar experiences and, therefore, we (you and me) use expressions that have similar meanings for both of us: the wage slaves, the consumerism, the powers, the hierarchy, the State, the Spectacle, the religion.

Let me introduce myself so that you can easily understand where I'm coming from and where I'm going.

My experience can be described like this: in 25 years of adult life I only got to do what I intended to do only marginally, almost nothing; that's because some stupid people appear in the way all the time (most of them I did not meet), and they cover their own accepted slavery under hierarchical rules, so I understand very well, personally, what dangers lie in accepting a hierarchy or the decisions of a person that is conditioned completely.

I wanted to do theoretical physics (because I wanted to understand the world, I still do), ended up in the physics of condensed matter (superconductors) because there was no place in my country at the time where one could focus on theoretical physics, there still isn't; I accepted because it still was physics, and socially could become useful, but I ended up focusing on writing research reports and accumulating ISI points because that was the modern trend in research, it still is; then (9 years later) I revolted, because, beyond this issue, the research ended up being published through commercial enterprises who requested money for that public research to become available back to those who paid the research in the first place, so I signed a declaration around the year 2000 that I'll never publish in such places, but the ISI points, which became a measure of research quality by some idiotic administrators' decisions, are the points that decide if you can continue or not to do publicly financed research; so one ends up doing public research to actually enrich some private publisher and only in a few lucky cases the public would benefit from that; then (in 2000) I switched from physics to digital libraries, digital document semantics, thinking that Internet will make this theft obvious, I still do; problem is nobody was really concerned in the public administrations about what happens to this public research (it usually ends up in private hands which use this public research to get more profit from the public that paid already), this is still true; I was concerned with the long-term preservation of this knowledge: given the worldwide irresponsibility in irreversibly consuming finite resources in the name of a fake, inhuman and unsustainable growth, humanity will survive only in a small proportion, and that proportion should not start with a bible, but with a digital library of public research done by then; I'm still concerned. Other 9 years later, the overall result is that I'm still searching to get involved in a process of knowledge recovery or preservation with no perspective in sight yet, in any case nothing that is guaranteed to stay public and is not just a temporary and opportunistic attempt at adding to a wage slave's career points. It's more than a year now since I am jobless, I can survive happily, but I'm still not doing what I intended to do. Meanwhile, very well-paid people in public positions are routing public money into private hands doing actually nothing in this direction, or actively avoiding such activities (in libraries or "knowledge management"). I'm getting 45 years old and my optimism and energy are wasted because of corrupt and/or incompetent people covering themselves with the rules of hierarchy.

So, I think, you, my anarchist friend, will agree that I have grounds enough to sympathize with your concern that we, as a society, are forced or encouraged to live our lives in vain, being useful only at vainly "enriching" or empowering a few others. I understand your thinking that none of the rich people or the public administrators corrupted/conditioned by them will ever give up the public resource theft just because somebody explains that to them. I agree that, until now and for some time to come, human history is just the history of the power of a few over the rest.

Apparently, the only solution is violence against them. But what kind of violence? Do you seriously think that burning a bank or breaking some windows will make those in power think? They will think on how to protect themselves, that's it. And there will be plenty of others, following some implicit religious or traditional values (like having children, buying a home, a car) that will get indebted and, therefore, enslaved by the powers that be. These will "cooperate" in promoting the current humanity status as progress, evolution, you name it. In such an environment, even intellectuals are getting transformed into sellers of their "intellectual property", which, in fact, if you look around, isn't worth a dime.

So what kind of violence? The Stalinist, Pol Pot kind, of forcing the good principles of communism on the throat of people who barely understand anything more than the crave for property as a guarantee for life? The USA kind, of forcing countries to play a rigged game by corrupting public administrators, of using the atomic bomb or simply waging wars and killing presidents in the name of freedom to be a slave? That doesn't work, because humans get transformed from revolutionaries into agents of power or from corrupted persons into centers of corruption. So the overall suicidal system gets preserved: a few in power play and exploit the rest. This happens because there is no background of knowledge, a basic set of principles, that everybody agrees with. Obviously there cannot be many such principles, but if you don't have these principles agreed upon, there's no society, that's a set of tribes, kingdoms, turfs, a perpetual war of my family against your family over resources.

You, my anarchist friend, ask for the other anarchists to unite for putting into place a participatory democracy, and I want that too. But on what basis will anarchists unite, or anybody else for that matter, which are the basic principles that allow a participatory democracy? Freedom, you say? Freedom of having seven children with no means to feed and educate them, freedom to have an SUV for each member of your family, freedom of declaring that hill your own property, freedom of exploiting any human being that happens around, freedom to be a sadist, freedom to get so rich so you can buy other people, freedom to own exclusively a media channel so that you can brainwash masses of people into doing something they don't understand? Obviously, my dear anarchist friend, we need a minimal set of principles to agree upon, all of us, anarchist or not, but humans nevertheless.

The violence I was describing above does nothing to formulate and to preserve these principles. The so-called "political left" named a few honorable principles but failed to protect itself from people on the inside who did not understand them, therefore an abuse of power as a cover of incompetence or misunderstanding was the exercise of the day. The "political right" never makes any promise except to those who have the means to multiply their own means. How ridiculous, tragi-comical, can the average guy be in supporting the "political right".

I hope, my anarchist friend, that, by now, you understand that we humans have to agree upon something before doing anything stupid, again.

So what's the effective solution, what are the principles that can preserve a solution for humanity? I can only suggest two, with far reaching consequences: the limit principle and the humanist principle.

The limit principle has to be a principle that doesn't allow, or makes difficult, for anybody to control anybody else's life, including animals. This principle has to survive historically by its own. It should sound like this: no person can own more resources than necessary for one human's lifetime. In concrete, current, terms, this may be written like this: no individual can own, at any time in its life, a personal wealth larger than a human's lifetime of average wages. Given a limit like this, we can live our freedom without ever having a significant enough power, even if we want it, to control other people. We will need to associate, therefore to agree, with other people when we have in mind a project that can affect the lives of people around. This principle is a natural, ecological, sustainable, slowdown of our current gulping of natural resources. It is a principle which is elastic enough to allow any person be itself without letting a significant part of its life being controlled by anybody else except a group unanimously agreeing that this control is necessary. Anybody's decision to interfere or to control somebody else's life will be at the expense of its own effectively limited resources.

The humanist principle would cover the fact that none of us can be considered more than animals until we grasp what values are universal to humanity. This principle says that education (as human knowledge creation, preservation, accessibility and communication infrastructure/Internet), health (as survival information, infrastructure and training), common rule of law (as the minimal interpersonal rules of living among others), are the basic ingredients of a sustainable society if, and only if, the limit principle is already in place. I think this principle guarantees to make obvious the consequences of our actions and helps us live with some understanding of what's happening, what's worth doing and what should be discontinued.

A minimal public administration should be in place to provide these basic services and to monitor the upholding of the limit principle, that should be the State (a different way of saying that these services are public, i.e. cannot be subject of mercantile exchange or at the whim of any person, and are the result of the common values agreement spanning the whole society).

Freedom is what you get only beyond these two principles, no society can survive without unanimously accepting them or an equivalent of them, so, my dear anarchist friend, let's work for carving these principles in any human society's Constitution (that is, if you agree with them, if not, name the alternatives) before wasting your time breaking any more windows.

Stay healthy, think it over and write critically about it, the Internet is with you, but Time is on the opposite side.

I question altogether whether we are individuals...

Written by Romeo Anghelache no comments

..the title is quoted from a discussion between Jiddu Krishnamurti and David Bohm (there are several parts), on the future of humanity, happening in 1983.

"Thought is limited", me is a history, the psyche is stalling, "are we all one, really?", "inseparable whole, you're absolutely right", "we've been conditioned", "in its very nature, thought is divisive", "after a while, you see so much evidence of separation, you say, that you forget how it started", "thought is time", "I want to be...I want to become...non-violent, take that for example. That is, altogether, a fallacy.", "all ideals are illusory, psychologically; the idea of building a marvelous bridge is not illusory.", "become what is, and becoming away from what is, I question both", "self-improvement...something so utterly ugly", "the source of all this, is the movement of thought as time", "..I need time means dividing between the observer and observed",

"then, is it possible to transcend thought?", "greed is a movement", "the attempt to not be greedy is a movement, a becoming", "is it possible to not become psychologically?", "can I remain what I am", "greed is me[..] the attributes, qualities, conclusions, are me", "is it possible to perceive without all the movement in memory?", "we don't experience mismemory", "the activity of thought will never bring it about [peace on earth]", "is there an activity which is not touched by thought, not something wholly sacred...., we are saying there is", "the intelligence is not the activity of cunning thought", "when we operate from memory, we are not very different from a computer", "in this country you are programmed as British", "that intelligence, may act through memory and knowledge, but it's not them", "the end of me",

"why does suffering prevent intelligence", "my suffering is diferent from your suffering [..] an illusory thing", "the world and I are one...it is an actuality", "you are awake, I'm not...your relationship with me is very clear but I have no relationship with you, I cannot, I insist on division and you don't", "the self hides behind many things", "if one has children, what is their future", "..but now educations means merely accumulation of knowledge"

"there is no evolution of the psyche", "giving importance to the self is creating great damage to the world: it is constantly in conflict, not only with itself, ... but with the whole universe", "the constant assertion of the self, is the movement, the conditioning", "can that conditioning be dissipated", "because it the right thing to do"

"in attention, thought has no place", "effort is not attention", "attention can only come in to be when the self is not"

how our world should look like

Written by Romeo Anghelache no comments

To (re)build a bearable world one needs a portable picture of it (a picture most of the sane people would agree with), so one needs some general principles.

Yes, (any) god was a kind of general principle, but the human translators (priests, theologists) abused the concept, so we got better than that: while miracles don't happen (tricks do), science seems to have helped a lot in that direction, it works more in accordance with some general rules of nature, and is seeking and checking on them actively. And what better general principles can we have other than those that follow the nature, humanity's given context?

The first principle that seems necessary for our world is sustainability: any action we do should not consume irreversibly a limited natural resource (a non-renewable resource). There are at least two immediate and practical consequences following from this: a. using personal cars on a daily basis in a non-farming environment is a crime unparalleled in history and has to stop now! b. the amount of natural resources a person can control, or dispose of, should be reasonably limited; this, of course, implies that the total wealth of a person should be limited to what is necessary for a human lifetime (say, a lifetime of average wages).

Now that we know what sustainability means (we can live and let others, now or tomorrow, live too) what do we have to minimally do in a sustainable context?

First, the basic public/common education is necessary, which amounts to explaining to everybody what sustainability means and how to produce renewable resources that living humans consume, this implies imposed literacy and work.

Next, there's the public/common social education: it should become clear to those educated in this process that an individual can be a human only in a human context and that humans are a single species. This should qualify the candidate for human rights, before that, he's covered by animal rights only. This has some immediate consequences: a. whether you're a woman, man, black, white, yellow, blond haired or not, hazy eyed or not, you're a human and these agreed upon principles apply to each of us without distinction. b. there is the need of a common infrastructure for a functional society, that is the State, which is not under the control of any specific individual, but is there to administer what humans in a given geographical area have in common: the street between my apartment and your apartment, the water pipe that passes through my apartment and your apartment, the sewage, the language etc. Briefly: the State is the administrator of public domain, or common domain. c. the rules of administering the public domain, and the individuals' interaction with it, make a collection which is called Law. The Law is the explicit agreement reached by a majority of individuals in a State. d. each of us need to do some work to live, that is called property; the social rule is that no one can use somebody else's work without public or individual consent. e. from a. and b. it follows that living in the society of humans means that individualism has to be tempered f. it also follows from a. and b. that individuals should always be educated and have the instruments to check the activity of the State they use in common. This implies that education is common, is public. g. a population might be using a common language, that population is called a Nation. Nations might have histories, it may be useful to try to understand them. h. a set of Nations might have trouble communicating because they're using different languages, therefore a platform for a common understanding between Nations should exist, that can be called United Nations; no part of this common platform can have special decision powers, any United Nations decision has to come from a majority of the Nations that are part of it.

Work can be hard or uncomfortable, so, beside education, people need knowledge so that the work necessary to create/gather resources for their living gets easier. It's not about the "knowledge" of bullshitting others into doing your work, that's trickstery, it's about the knowledge of doing it yourself.

So the next principle becomes necessary: knowledge is not work but meta-work, and, as such, it cannot be the property of anybody. Knowledge is not a protected resource because it is renewable and the Law cannot be concerned with it in any way because such a concern is unsustainable. So if you get to know something and you don't share it, good for you, let it be your secret, but once you share it or use it, nobody else can be constrained to ignore your actions (e.g. not to learn from them).

Another principle: Living without being healthy sucks. This means your health is a public issue: even if your sickness is not infectious, it affects your social context. A public issue is handled by the State so health becomes the State's responsibility. Other groups are welcome with health initiatives/actions, but the State is the basic handler of health: through public education and public health services.

And another one: resource exchange between two (groups of) people means exchanging the amount of work one group/person performed (not 'will perform') with the amount of work the other group/person performed (not 'will peform'), which should be equal when measured using a portable metrics. Anything else is not really exchange but theft. Today's money is not a portable metrics: it's not clear at all what proportion of a monetary unit stands for the physical work performed to produce an item, which part covers the contextual consequences of producing the item to be exchanged and which part, if any, stands for the reason to produce that item. Exploiting somebody's ignorance is a crime against humanity: one can ignore an ignorant but one can not exploit the ignorant and also preserve its own human quality in the process.

Communication principle: a communication infrastructure (fit for writing, reading and speaking), such as the Internet today, is a public service provided by the State, like public sewage.

Memory principle: any decision taken in the State activities is recorded, time-stamped and available for public searching and reading in a comprehensive way.

Election principle: there are no politicians to be elected, instead, the population creates an electronic wish-list and votes priorities, the civil servants implementing the State take their decisions based on items and their priorities on that list, their own administrative positions are part of that wish-list. This way, "elections" are continuous, they happen when needed.

Given these general principles, and a very few others, I think the rest will essentially fall into place.

Salim's

Written by Romeo Anghelache no comments

Salim's is a small food-store and restaurant byzantine style, on Center ave corner with N.Neville, Pittsburgh, PA, US, Terra. You may find there tasty sorts of cheese, yoghurt, falafel, flours, spices, oils, syrups, preserves, baklavas, you name it. Salim's also caters for parties. Organic milk didn't reach his place because he's not a part of the economy of scale: one has to become big enough to sell organic stuff around here.

Salim's and Salim himself outlasted the Bush dynasty and some more US presidents, the fall of Enron and Lehman Bros, a few wars and a couple of economic bubble bursts on top of those. Salim has been there, smiling and serving, since before the Internet became operational. All my local friends know him. He is like Linux: open, intelligent, resourceful and resilient. He is like nature: there always.

He's part of that 95% (ok, maybe less) of humanity worth its name but not visible on the screen or on paper, only in real life.

I salute him every time I pass by his store. He answers back, always in good mood.

Respekt. Word!

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