Friday, November 1, 2013

the living part of the culture

Politics always puts forward Ideas: Nation, Empire, Union, Economy, etc. But none of these forms has value in itself; it has it only insofar as it involves concrete individuals. If a nation can assert itself proudly only to the detriment of its members, if a union can be created only to the detriment of those it is trying to unite, the nation or the union must be rejected.
--Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity

And, I would add, if an economy can assert itself only to the detriment of the whole of the society it is designed to assist, that economy must be rejected.

The philosopher Paul Feyerabend identified the problem in his agreeably anarchic book Against Method (excerpt here):

People all over the world have developed ways of surviving in partly dangerous, party agreeable surroundings.The stories they told and the activities they engaged in enriched their lives, protected them and gave them meaning. The 'progress of knowledge and civilization' -- as the process of pushing Western ways and values into all corners of the globe is being called -- destroyed these wonderful products of human ingenuity and compassion without a single glance in their direction.
Indeed, it seems to me that our economic goals should be retooled along the lines of what Charles Newman identified in his posthumously published novel, In Partial Disgrace: "to extract money from the real economy and cheerfully redistribute it into the inefficient, living part of the culture."

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