Ever felt like eating something but didn’t want to ‘impose’ on your stomach nor worsen your calorie intake?

Grab a cucumber, no longer than 3 to 4 inches, peel it if not extra-fresh, salt it lightly and gorge on it.

Drink a glass of cold water.

reason vs comon sense

To an employer, simple economic reason tells him to extract as much work as possible from his employees.
To an employee, the same attitude tells him to ‘resist’, to make himself as ‘scarce’ as possible without giving the employer obvious reasons to fire him.

Add modern technology to all this and here is what you get: employees locking themselves into toilets booths and surfing the internet on their smartphones while employers counteract by installing access control machinery in the ‘rest areas’.
“Not more than 6 (six) minutes a day and a $20 gift card if you don’t go there at all”.

How about a more complex understanding of the whole business?
Can we see economic contracts (work related ones included) as a form of cooperation instead of mindless/ruthless/mutually crippling competition?

Fair sport versus ‘no holds bared fight’?

Or am I too naive?

I’m afraid things are just a little bit more complicated than that.
It is true that we need our conscience in order to perceive matter but that doesn’t mean that we actually create matter when we perceive it.
The short (and long) of this is that matter existed long before monkeys started walking consciously on this Earth.

Humberto Maturana did a jolly good job at explaining all this: http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/pub/hvf/papers/maturana05selfconsciousness.html

Watch these two videos and tell me where is the difference.

Ayn Rand utopia

“A community made up of American ex-pats deep in the South American hills of Chile – far away from America’s annoying taxes, healthcare mandate, and legal abortions — was supposed to be a libertarian paradise of rugged individualism. Instead it cost many of the people who bought into it almost everything, and now is buried under lawsuits — a reminder that everything that glitters is not inflation-proof, Ron Paul-backed gold.

It seems pretty obvious that basing one’s society on a single work of (poorly written) fiction is folly, but for many adherents of Ayn Rand and her seminal book of Objectivist allegorical grandstanding, Atlas Shrugged isn’t just any book. It’s about as close to the Bible that many libertarians have — apart from the Bible, of course.”

 

To me this looks more like an Umberto Eco novel than anything else… layers upon layers of information connected solely by what human individuals living in one of them think about what is going on in the next one…
– Ayn Rand grew up in Russia and wrote in and about the US… OK, she might have had some interesting ideas but so did a lot of other controversial thinkers. Karl Marx and Nietzsche, among others. Would any of you become a dedicated follower of any of these two? I had to live in a Marxist society for the first 30 years of my life and I wouldn’t recommend it…
– The guys that came up with this… scheme… have as much in common with libertarianism as Bernard Madoff has with bona fide capitalism…
– Investing, money or time, into something without due diligence is not a very libertarian thing to do either…
– Etc., etc….

After all an utopia, even one supposedly based upon Ayn Rand’s ideas, is nothing more than another … man made dystopia.

Some recent developments (I’ll list a few at the end of this post) brought me back to this subject.

So what is freedom?

Consider a lump of dirt someplace in the middle of nowhere, so far from any galaxy that it is under no gravitational pull whatsoever. In theory it would be able to go anywhere, right? With almost no ‘energy costs’… But it has none available … it’s nothing but an lump of dirt…
How about replacing that hypothetical lump of dirt with the most sophisticated spaceship you can imagine and add to it an inexhaustible energy source. This would be ‘free’ for sure, no? But where would it go?
Now add to it a human being. But mind you, one that not only knows how to drive a spaceship but also that can hold his own in absolute solitude. Can you find such a human being? Can you even imagine one?

So, again, what is freedom? Or liberty, if you prefer this word?

So, real, effective liberty is something that has to be perceived and has to be implementable. It’s not enough for an individual to think himself as being free, that individual also needs to be able to exert his freedom. I don’t have any doubt that Stephen Hawking, one of the brightest minds alive, is one of the freest spirits on this Earth but I’m afraid that he is also one of the individuals who depend heaviest on those around him.

And, in fact, all of us are in almost the same situation as he is. OK, most of us can move on our own. But before even thinking about liberty each of us has to become aware of himself, to develop his consciousness. Only we cannot do that on our own. As Humberto Maturana amply demonstrated human conscience has developed, slowly, in time. It was a process that could take place because by some genetic mutation or accident our brains had suddenly grown close to the present dimension but that was not enough. We needed another 70 or so thousand years after we learned to speak (by doing so we were able to exchange ideas and think about concepts) to become what we are today. In Maturana’s words people are not only conscious, they are conscious of their consciousness.

I believe you already have an inkling about what I have in mind.

Liberty is nothing but a concept, one that has been refined by human thinking along our entire history. It was us who defined the notion of ‘degrees of liberty’ which is used extensively not only in statistics  but in many other scientific domains.
And it was still us who came up with such a social arrangement that allowed for free people not only to coexist with slaves but also to own them.

So what is freedom? An absolute (divine) ‘human right’ or a social construct? Both?

The point I’m trying to make is that we should never forget that freedom hasn’t been given to us on a silver plate. All along human history there have been enough people who tried hard to dominate as many as they could and too many who accepted to be dominated. And invariably the societies/communities where social relations were based on authoritarianism have eventually failed while the more egalitarian, the ones where individuals enjoyed a higher degree of freedom coped better and usually survived.

My conclusion of all this? There is no such thing as ‘liberty/freedom’ against all others. The only liberty that can survive long term is liberty with the others. While the first is nothing but a synonym for the ‘Law of the jungle’ (another human concept, the jungle doesn’t have any laws) the second is the foundation for any civilized nation. And when we’ll be able to extend the notion for all peoples (usually the slaves came from outside the people of the slave-owners)  we’ll have lasting peace.

What prompted me to write this? Which of the following do you think is a proper way of exerting one’s liberty? Or free will, which includes proper/professional behavior in every conceivable circumstance?
‘Rights’ are to be exerted no matter what or with great consideration? Tradition/order has to be upheld/maintained at all costs or only as long as it makes sense? ‘Makes sense’ to whom?

teen Jesus     cops student

 

 

women peshmerga    IS police

 

9/11

A day of mourning and remembrance.

My son was two years old at that time and doesn’t have any personal recollections of that moment yet has a rather clear understanding of what happened. Some wackos somehow crashed three airplanes into three of the most important buildings in America and, by doing so, simply changed the world.

I still remember vividly having my eyes glued to the TV screen. All those people jumping from the windows. So much desperation. One question still haunts me to this day. What made those wackos do what they did? What made them so ‘desperate’ as to … OK, they must have had some ‘predisposition’ of sorts… not every desperate person does what they did … only in a normal world really desperate people get noticed by their community and are treated accordingly. They get help and/or are rendered harmless to the others.

So our real problem is why hadn’t the wider community noticed that particular kind of ‘desperation’, and its intensity, and why hadn’t something been done about it. Another thing. There is something else that the wider community has failed to notice.
That the closer community, exactly those people who in normal circumstances notice and stop this kind of tragic occurrences, helped the perpetrators instead of blowing the whistle.

And it seems we continue to not understand what had really happened.

A ‘war on terror’ has been declared.
Only there is a small problem here.
Nobody can fight ‘terror’, just as nobody can fight the blue color.
The only thing we can do, as warriors, is fight terrorists. And if we limit ourselves to fighting them we perversely confirm their mantra – ‘we are under attack, we are weak so the only thing we can do is use ‘terror’ as weapon’.

Maybe thirteen years of this is enough.

The reality is that we are far more powerful than they are. This situation offers us a lot more options than they have.
Among these options is that in parallel with defending ourselves we might try to separate the active terrorists from the communities that support them. In order to do this we must recognize that those communities do have grievances. Some make sense, some don’t but if we disconsider all their grievances, wholesale, we do nothing but validate what the extremists are preaching: ‘those “white” people simply don’t care about any of us’. That’s why so many members of the communities among which the terrorist are usually hiding turn their heads when they see a terrorist act being prepared. Most of them wouldn’t participate directly – because of fear or maybe they abhor violence, as any normal human being does – but being convinced that ‘the “white” people don’t care about them’ makes them wonder ‘why should I care if the “white” people ‘gets it’?’

There is no shortage of people crazy enough to do horrible things. Just watch the 5 o’clock news. There is no way to change that. What we can do is give enough positive reasons to the communities to ‘call 911′ instead of turning away their heads. And sometimes gloat.

PS. ‘Positive reasons’ doesn’t mean ‘bribe them’. That might help a little but would not solve the situation. What we need to do is to convince them, and even some of our people too, that being different doesn’t mean being less human. After that things will become way simpler. No normal human being is comfortable seeing how his FELLOW human being is killed or otherwise hurt.

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