IS SMALL BEAUTIFUL?

August 12, 2018

This meander was stimulated by a recent repudiation by Zizek of the possible role of small communities in any future human flourishing. In this context, I revisit E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful (1973). I discuss some of the core ideas from that seminal work. In particular, I focus on the treatement of raw materials as [inexhaustible]  income and the treatement of the environment as a free dump by capitalism and the economic theories that act as its ideological justification. I touch upon intermediate technology, the role of 'spirituality' in the good life, the way in which economic theories and political practice often treat people as numbers on a spreadsheet, the 1984-5 UK Miners' Strike and the persistence of alienation in nationalised industries. I do this by discerning Zizek's 'inner Schumacher' and Schumacher's 'inner Zizek' and recounting instances of their expression. In both cases these inner others are mostly repressed, but vigorous enough to surface now and then in brilliant insight. [Free. 47 minutes.]

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VALUE & NATURALLY OCCURRING COMMUNISM

July 29, 2018

This podcast is stimulated by David Graeber's remarks on value and a possible revolutionary ethical paradigm shift that could place value creation not in production of commodities but production of people. I follow Graeber, though with artistic license,  jumping off from the platform he provides to extol the virtues of 'naturally occurring communism', to praise idleness, to see hope in the revitalisation of the flame of humanness. I draw on Adam Smith, Marx, Engels, the TV series Silicon Valley and Bertrand Russell. [Free. 26 minutes.]

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TRUMP, MAY, PUTIN AND MEN IN FUNNY HATS [PART TWO: FRAGMENTATION]

July 23, 2018

This wide-ranging podcast draws on the same sources as Part One and is similarly stimulated by current affairs. This time, the thesis that the current historical unfoldings of the mutually entangled economic, cultural and ecological systems are characterised by fragmentation is defended and a variety of possible material antecedents of this tendency are considered. We identify environmental degradation, technological developments, contradictions in capitalism in its current phase, cultural fragmentation, the enmeshment of state and corporate power, gross inequalities of wealth and power and movements of populations as mutually dependent factors giving rise to fragmentation, amongst others. [Free. 54 minutes.]

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TRUMP, MAY, PUTIN AND MEN IN FUNNY HATS [PART ONE: POLITICAL SCOUNDRELS]

July 23, 2018

This podcast is a wide-ranging commentary on the Trump charm offensive on Nato, the UK Prime Minister and Vladimir Putin of last week [13/7/18 ff]. It draws on the relevant press conferences, the film The Vietnam War [Ken Burns and Lynn Novick], the film An Inconvenient Sequel [Al Gore] and broadcasts of the UK Parliament. I consider the thesis that the political class are largely scoundrels. [Free. 37 minutes.]

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LAOTZU 14

July 9, 2018

In this podcast, we consider Chapters 23 and 24 of The Tao Te Ching. We tease out Lao Tzu's advice that meditation is best approached with a light touch. [Free. 21 minutes.]

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ON INVENTION: THE CASE OF DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGY

January 12, 2018

In this podcast, I draw attention to the question of the role of technological innovation in social, cultural and economic change. This leads to a consideration of various aspects of distributed ledger technology, including the internet of things, crypto-currency and blockchain. [Free. 40 minutes.]

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LANGUAGE AND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

November 26, 2017

In this podcast, I consider the attempts of Lao Tzu and Wittgenstein to urge upon us that the ineffable cannot be spoken of whilst themselves continuing to speak of it. This can be made sense of if we inderstand that language has many more possibilities than just fact-stating and indeed that it can point us in the direction of 'spiritual experience'. [Free. 24 minutes.]

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PARENTS

July 25, 2017

This podcast considers "making your peace with your parents" and why, if possible, it's a good idea. [Free. 20 ,minutes.]

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COMMENTARY ON 2017 SNAP GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS

June 28, 2017

This short squib deals with the paradoxical euphoria of the Corbynistas, who did not get to form a government as a result of the election, and asks if the euphoria is justified. I conclude that it is and that a number of important transformations have taken place in the political landscape. [Free. 29 minutes.]

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THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART FOUR: POLITICS AND IDEOLOGY

February 28, 2017

In this podcast, we refer to the last scene of The Matrix in which Neo speaks directly to the hegemonic machines and explicitly draws attention to the political dimensions of the film. This scene invites us to understand the real-apparent binary as the opposition between the concrete political situation of slavery and exploitation and the ideological mystification which prevents the victims from throwing off their chains or even realising that they are in them. This leads us to a discussion of the attempts to make good the lacuna in Marxism around the details of ideological mystification by theorising a Freudian-Marxism. Dramatis Personae: Freud, Marx, Hegel, Lacan, Zizek, Fromm, Reich, Marcusse, Engels. The final scene [3 minutes 31 seconds] is here:-  https://youtu.be/aTL4qIIxg8A. See the blue pill - red pill choice in this four minute clip: https://youtu.be/zQ1_IbFFbzA. [Free. 39 minutes.]

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