Mission Statement – why this blog?
I think a lot of us today, especially young people, are feeling isolated and confused. And perhaps also overwhelmed by and maladjusted to today’s society?
I want to make a space where I can work through my own confusions and others can share their thoughts. I hope you will leave comments on my posts so we can develop ideas together.
I don’t claim to have “answers”. However, I feel that I possess the limited intelligence and consciousness necessary to see that our professionals involved in social policies (our economists, politicians, financiers, CEOs etc) do not have answers either. Where we differ is they claim access to special knowledge or reasoning that “ordinary people” lack. I think their answers are merely hollow apologies for existing privileges, dressed in the garb of titles and the language of “expertise” and that we must not be intimidated into accepting their egotism as truth. There is nothing fundamentally complicated about the use and abuse of power, nothing that requires special training to understand. Noam Chomsky, when asked “what specific qualifications do you have to be able to speak all around the countrty about world affairs?” replied:
“None whatsoever. I mean, the qualifications that I have to speak on world affairs are exactly the same ones Henry Kissinger has, and Walt Rostow has, or anybody in the political sciences department, professional historians – none, none that you don’t have. The only difference is, I don’t pretend to have any qualifications, nor do I pretend that qualifications are needed. I mean, if someone were to ask me to give a talk on quantum physics, I’d refuse – because I don’t understand enough. But world affairs are trivial; there’s nothing in the social sciences or history or whatever that is beyond the intellectual capacities of an ordinary fifteen year old.”
Rather than dispensing answers, I will try to ask pertinent questions about the directions we might wish to move in to extricate ourselves from our current mess. How would I characterise the mess? To put it bluntly, a species that set foot on the moon more than forty years ago ought to be capable of feeding its people today.
More abstractly, we seem to have locked ourselves into economic systems dependent upon ever increasing throughput of finite material resources, which requires the increasing exploitation of human beings to accomplish. This process is beginning to put strain on both our ecosystems’ capacity to absorb and mediate our impact, and our capacity as individuals to cope psychologically in the increasingly cruel, arbitrary and anti-human world we are creating for ourselves. I think Dutch historian Johan Huizinga, writing during the buildup to World War II, expressed our predicament today admirably:
“We are living in a demented world. And we know it. … Everywhere there are doubts as to the solidity of our social structure, vague fears of the imminent future, a feeling that our civilization is on the way to ruin. They are not merely the shapeless anxieties which beset us in the small hours of the night when the flame of life burns low. They are considered expectations founded on observation and judgment of an overwhelming multitude of facts. How to avoid the recognition that almost all things which once seemed sacred and immutable have now become unsettled, truth and humanity, justice and reason? We see forms of government no longer capable of functioning, production systems on the verge of collapse, social forces gone wild with power. The roaring engine of this tremendous time seems to be heading for a breakdown…”
I will try to flesh out these tendencies much more fully in my blog posts, along with what I see as the reasons for them and potential ways out. My contention is that most of us are uncomfortable with the course currently charted. We do not want it, we did not choose it, we were not asked. But because we have been deliberately and systematically lied to and deceived, we are confused and ineffective rather than defiant and confident in our dissent. If we can begin to understand what has happened to us, where we find ourselves today, perhaps we can begin to band together, gain in confidence and organise some form of popular response? The aim of this blog will be first to help us orient ourselves, then to choose new and better directions to move in.
The name freedom this time is my plea to move towards global solidarity in the face of current and impending crises, and a reference to John Pilger’s latest book, Freedom Next Time. The tagline on “creative maladjustment” is made in reference to this speech by Martin Luther King Jr.
The bird perched on barbed wire is intended as a metaphor for humanity. (well, that and I really like Leonard Cohen!) Systems of oppression rely on the tacit consent of the oppressed. As Steve Biko powerfully put it: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
As such, we only remain imprisoned so long as we decline to spread our wings, our minds, for freedom.