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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DESIGNING SOCIETY AND EVALUATION

May 2, 2018

This podcast is a rambly continuation of some previous considerations of value. In this case, I claim that calls for designing society around resources available [rather than money], though inspiring, need to make good a lacuna around value. [In particular, I consider the Zeitgeist project.] The question needs to be asked, 'What future should we value?'. Prior to that though, we need to figure out how to tackle that question and elucidate the process of evaluation. I also point out that we ourselves, with our desires, are at stake in any cogent appraoch to evaluation. [Free. 20 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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REMARKS ON US/UK/FRANCE MISSILE STRIKES ON SYRIA [14TH APRIL 18]

April 15, 2018

In this podcast I question the legitimacy the UK government's decision to join with France and the USA in attacking Syria with missiles without Parliamentary debate and without clear evidence of the presence of the chemical warefare agents that were the alleged target. I draw attention to the fact that the UK state is complicit in supplying arms to dictators, which though 'legal', cause horrible human suffering just as efficiently as chemical warefare agents. [Free. 38 minutes.]

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LAO TZU 11

February 19, 2018

This podcast deals with Chapters 16 and 17 of the Tao Te Ching. Lao Tzu revisits the character of the sagacious ruler who is rooted in contemplation, this time drawing on a metaphor of plant growth and nuture by deep roots. Not only is contemplation to be nurtured by our roots in the earth, but the sage should quietly nurture those around him. This leads on to considerations of styles of government of which a pure anarchism is evaluated as the most desirable. We suggest that this would only be possible for a population deeply rooted in contemplation of nature and its underpinning processes and cycles. [Free. 23 minutes.]

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POSTMODERNISM: A FEW REMARKS

February 11, 2018

In this podcast, I draw attention to the way in which the term 'postmodernism' has become a derogatory term. I attempt to clarify and rehabilitate it by unpacking J. F. Lyotard's addage that 'postmodernism is suspicion towards grand narratives'. [Free. 27 minutes.]

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