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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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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THE INTERNET AS COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS

June 27, 2018

This playful ramble likens the internet to the unconscious of the whole of humanity. If we let it, the internet rubs our noses in our being as a species, warts, wonders and all. However, we argue, it is now possible to avoid this stark and partly painful self-revelation by retreating into echo chambers. The monetisation of the internet through advertising is partly responsible. We touch on the desirability of a de-centralised internet which encourages and rewards good content creators. [Free. 25 minutes.]

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LAOTZU 12

April 28, 2018

This podcast deals with Chapters 18, 19 and 20 of The Tao Te Ching. In these chapters, Lao Tzu extols the virtue of alignment with the Tao for individuals and society. Simplicity is the way, he says, to come into that alignment. Instances of misalignment are consumerism, over-sophistication and acquisitiveness. Again, the character of the sage-leader is explored. [Free. 42 minutes.]

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THE USES AND ABUSES OF THE CONCEPT OF NATURE

January 22, 2018

In this podcast, I consider the concept of nature and its ideological uses in justifying inequalities of wealth and power in ordinary discourse. I find that its use in the form of 'state of nature' arguments in political philosophy is also ideological as is the idea of human nature in most of its articulations. I suggest the concept can have a less ideological use for helping us picture our situation. In this positive use, nature is understood as a complex system which embeds the human being and culture which are themselves systems. [Free. 33 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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THE BLUE PILL OR THE RED PILL? PART TWO: EXISTENTIALISM, CHOICE & FREEDOM

February 13, 2017

Part Two of our series on The Matrix attempts to characterise Neo's choice of the red pill in terms of the kind of human freedom posited by the existentialist philosophers. We draw particularly of Kierkegaard and Sartre. See the blue pill - red pill choice in this four minute clip: https://youtu.be/zQ1_IbFFbzA. [Free. 32 minutes.]

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“EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED” - DIRK GENTLY

January 27, 2017

Inspired by Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, I consider things, connections, processes, language, metaphoricity, information and detective work [amongst other things]. Dramatis personae: Heraclitus, Parmenides, Buddha, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein. [Free. 23 minutes.]

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