A city should be a place with a high density of people that can hear, two-three times per day, something like the (probably well-known) Islamic habit of
call to prayer, sung from the highest sky-scraper downtown by a human voice.
The song should remind us that we are humans in no hurry to anywhere and we should take our time to do our little best with our passing through this world. No God-related bullshit. It should interrupt what we are doing, for 5 minutes, that's when we should make a personal ritual gesture towards the quality of human life: it should be our rhythmic recollection of what we are and what we're doing.
The city should be covered by a network of sidewalks, an underground public transportation network based on some renewable resource like electricity, and plenty of natural meeting places with tables and chairs where you can sit among trees or on grass and chat with your random neighbor about life and its derivatives. The personal cars should be parked at the outskirts of the city, only industrial/food transportation-related cars should be allowed to pass through it, along with firefighters and emergency-related transportation.
The main purposes of a humanist urban settlement are to fine-tune social administrative issues, to efficiently produce things that are needed, to improve systematically the human knowledge, to train the youth in critical thinking. Cultural acts fill the blanks.
That's the humanist city.
My preferred definition of socialism/humanism sounds like this: it is recognized the fact that any human being is immersed in a society of human beings and that the society is part of, and completes, the human being's definition, it is also recognized that any human society is immersed in nature and that the nature is part of, and completes, the human society's definition.
Socialism/humanism is the given natural context of humans, it's not a matter of adherence to it, it is a matter of choosing to be aware of it or not.
The State is the practical form of this awareness at the scale of the society. It is the minimal administrative agreement between the humans in a society; the State is designed and delegated by all of us to administer our agreements and settle our disagreements on this common agreement background, the public property.
The administration of the society is a rational attempt at problem solving, there should be nothing emotional about it. Socialism/humanism is not a special sort of abstract social passion, but a collaborative, continuously sustained, personal drive to get along or brush with each other; no romantic heroism necessary, but an authentic human life. You get there not through revolution but through evolution: a cultivated and well-tempered (non-hysterical) personal awareness (check, for a critical preparation,
The Society of the Spectacle by
If you don't obey the law and you come with the excuse you did not know it, that excuse doesn't hold, right? It's your obligation as a citizen to know the law. Then the law should be published on the Net and should be freely accessible to any citizen.
The responsibility of publishing the law online stays with those who create and use it in lawsuits: the juridical and legislative branches of the state; the responsibility for the practical implementation should stay with the public libraries.
This would come as a second priority, the first one would be to mandate the freely accessible online publishing of the research which has been funded, partially or fully, with public money.
These priorities come naturally from the following principle: the public property deserves at least the same strength of protection as the private property does, because the first belongs to a large group of persons who commonly agreed to call that property public or shared. The current public administrations seem to be focusing mostly toward protecting the private property and this emphasis has to change now, many in a position to administer the public property not only fail in doing so but actively misappropriate it: public libraries buying proprietary software to handle their internal tasks while free-software alternatives are available, public research libraries pouring public money in private pockets by paying access fees to private publishers of public research, government or UN or non-profit agencies pouring public money in private pockets because some trusted public administrators use proprietary software instead of free-software alternatives, technologies or knowledge created with public funds are transferred into private hands so that any member of the general public has to pay again to access them.
Moreover, transferring technologies and knowledge to private hands is a sure way to have them lost for the public at the moment when they cease to create profit for the private group in question. Publicly accessible archives should keep us protected from paying and repaying the wheel's reinvention.
The (now old) idea is to make a law that puts in place the transparency of handling public money or property: who is responsible for allocating funds for this or that task, the amount of money, the receiver, the date/time and the reasoning behind the choice. This is an archive record: it should appear as a line in a public agency's blog for any taxpayer/voter to keep an eye on and preserved for historical reference. This is practically feasible because keeping a public point of information access is relatively cheap nowadays with the Net and all.
This law (or another) has to also protect the public property from the abusive use of copyright: for example, a professor/researcher who writes a book about the research he is doing using public funding should be compelled to give up the copyright to the public agency who paid for the research. If a private agency paid for the research, it's between that agency and the researcher to decide to whom the copyright belongs, it's a negotiable private matter. However, if the researcher did use infrastructure paid with public money, or performed his work on public premises, the public is entitled to recover the expenses, and this should be stated by restricting the copyright in a precise way.
What's the meaning of accountability otherwise? It is independent of what the political color your government has, so the transparency/accountability procedures should be specified in a public standard. This public standard is important: there are, today, parliament websites where specific information is extremely hard to find precisely because these information points don't follow a standard.
Briefly, the subtitle of this law should be: let's make the bloodsuckers' lives at least as hard as our own or, in the positive reading, let's make our lives at least as easy as the bloodsuckers' lives.
Mr. Sarkozy thinks EU should drop the VAT for oil. For oil in general? No way, that would be an encouragement for the European to consume it as if nothing happened. But dropping VAT for oil used in transportation of merchandise and in some industries seems reasonable.
Then he says the VAT should be diminished for the audio-visual, to the level of VAT for the books. What? So that the audio-visual can make more profit by ramming more advertisement down our throats? The audio-visual deserves an increase of VAT, to discourage bulshitters. Books deserve a lowering of VAT because, in most cases, they mainly contain text. The Text moves your mind, makes your imagination take off, the Image (esp. the moving image) dulls the mind and kills the imagination.
Got that? (quoted from
Life is worth losing, by George Carlin.)
How much should an artist get paid for its work? Can't settle that, ok, what is an art item then? A unique, or an almost impossible to repeat, happening; a singularity; then, yes, it's possible to copy it but not make it happen as it happened. Not even the artist itself can't have the same revelation twice, only recoils or follow-ups.
Then one cannot institutionalize artist payment (well-define a price for an art item), that's forcing the artist to transform in a production line. That's how most of the art is now: a production line, well, producing mostly profits for those having nothing to do with arts. Sometimes an artist got richer than Boltzmann; and that makes me wonder also. When that happened, in my view, an artist became a little wheel in a bullshit-selling industry; nothing to do with art anymore.
An art item cannot be verified if it's art or not, a science/engineering item can, it's almost its definition, it's verifiable. I believe that one can establish/institutionalize a price for what is verifiable, which means repeatable, which means socially meaningful, which means significant to any human. For an art item, the price can be established by a group of humans who consider it significant but that price remains valid only for that group, at the society's scale, the real price of art scales to zero.
The verifiability is the only basis for building trust in the humanist society. It follows that a humanist society should not be concerned at the institutional level with the artist's condition. That's a condition in which any human can happen at times nothing can anticipate, or maybe, for some, it never happens, without degrading their human status. In a humanist society, an artist is somebody who happens to create something beside the verifiable things one has to do in a society. That's a human's individual need anyway: the need to express, to symbolize, to enrich or twist or recheck the verifiable reality or announce a newly discovered but unverifiable reality. That (the artist's condition) comes with being a human, not with a payment established by the society as a whole.
The artist's condition, being unverifiable by definition, cannot be trusted socially, although various groups can always appreciate or have an intuition of it and pay for that, then promote it and sell it for profit. The usual notion of art in the current society is just a convoluted way for tapping into the public money: when an art item becomes so expensive no one hopes to resell it, guess what, a museum buys it with public money so you're doomed to repay it one last time; in the process, some people made their living off your (ancestor's) back. Over time one gets to learn about them in the school manuals and call it culture. I'm pretty sure the real heroes remained anonymous, perhaps Internet will change that.
The copyright for artwork is as meaningless as the copyright for work paid by the public. Copyright is nothing more than a tool in some profit making industry, and, as long as this concept exists, there should also be a copyleft one can use to protect oneself from it (Creative commons is a more refined approach) .
If you're using your copyright to buy an SUV from your book's selling, that's a guarantee you're dimming yourself to the point of extinction from humanity's memory. Anyway, if you were doing that, I'm pretty sure you were not doing it for the humanity's memory ;).
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