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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INTOXICATION AND THE WILL TO POWER

August 1, 2018

In this podcast I consider Nietzsche's accounts of promise-making, bad conscience, ressentiment, the mnemo-technics of pain and the rise of Christianity understood as the spiritual revenge of slaves as outlined in On the Genealogy of Morals [1886]. I offer a riposte to Judith Butler's objection to Nietzsche's account of the development of a continuous will which seems to be in contradiction to Nietzsche's account of language as a 'moving army of metaphors'. [Butler, 1997 - The Psychic Life of Power.] From there, I move on to consider how the concept of ressentiment can be utilised to understand the current populism in conjuction with the notion of ideology. To the Freudian-Marxists question 'Why do slaves aquiesece in their slavery?', the Nietzschean might answer, 'They don't always. Sometimes they seek subterranean means of revenge in order to experience the intoxication of exerting their will to power over others.'  [Free. 39 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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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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LAO TZU: PART EIGHT

October 20, 2017

In this podcast, we discuss Chapter Thirteen of The Tao Te Ching. In this chapter,  Lao Tzu recommends that we drop 'status anxiety' and reconsider our received notions of success and failure. We relate Lao Tzu's insights to modern life and recommend them for your consideration! [Free. 33 minutes.]

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“CULTURE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND”

October 17, 2017

In this podcast, I reflect on Terence Mckenna's assertion that "culture is not your friend." I find that, indeed, culture as we know it today, frequently has ideological components, i.e. it plays a role in preserving and promoting social dominance hierarchies. However, it does have pragmatic possibilities, preserving ideas, crafts and technologies that have survival value. And, when not paralysed by conservatism, these possibilites can even develop beyond what can be achieved in a single generation, enhancing life. I argue also that culture has vital roles in entertainment and edification which can be usurped by ideology and which it is worth the effort to restitute. [Free. 25 minutes.]

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HOMO ECONOMICUS: COMMENTARY ON ROB URIE’S ‘ZEN ECONOMICS’

May 29, 2017

This podcast is almost a review of Rob Urie's Zen Economics (2016). The thesis of Urie's book is that contemporary economic theory is a pseudo science which functions as an ideological mystification of consumer capitalism and bases itself on a spurious metaphysical conceptualisation of the human being along Cartesian lines. Urie marshals Zen and the work of Heidegger to mount his criticism with interesting results. [Free. 44 minutes.]

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FEMINISM 101

April 1, 2017

In this podcast, we roughly sketch out types of feminism including liberal, socialist, marxist and essentialist varients. We try to draw out the theoretical and practical difficulties encountered by these various approaches in the hope that a view of the terrain thus exposed might be useful to anybody currently struggling with the widespread and pathological back-lash to all emancipatory aspirations. [Free. 55 minutes.]

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