2 weeks ago
We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
For two millennia the idea of getting a job was regarded as a fundamental attack against basic human rights and human dignity. Why? Because getting a job means accepting servitude to a master. It means saying, 'Okay, I'll rent myself to you for most of my waking life and I will follow your orders during this period.' That was considered an utter abomination. By now it's sort of taken for granted. But should we take it for granted? Or should we go back to the ideals of working people, classical liberals, Cicero, all the way to Abraham Lincoln, saying that this is not a decent way for human beings to live, that people should be in control of their own work and their own destiny. One of the founders of classical liberalism, Wilhelm von Humboldt, captured the point very lucidly. He said, suppose an artisan creates a beautiful object on command, in a job. We may admire what he did, but we despise what he is: a tool in the hands of others. That was common belief right through the nineteenth century. We now accept that renting yourself into servitude is one of the highest goals in life – an idea that would have been an abomination for 2000 years.
People are angry, frightened, desperate. This is actually pre-Trump. 40 years of neoliberalism have left the victims of this assault angry, resentful, isolated, contemptuous of government. It's in Europe, it's in the United States, you see it everywhere.
That's fertile territory for demagogues who can say "I can save you, follow me." It's also fertile territory for conspiracy theories. People want some understanding of what's happening; they're not getting it from the media, they're not getting it from the intellectual classes, they're certainly not getting it from the government. So they search around for something that'll explain it. Why is this happening to us? That's the kind of situation in which you do get conspiracy theories. [..] When you're living in an intellectual environment in which there are no answers, no coherent answers available, you're suffering, you don't see why, you turn to, you grasp on to something.
It's happening all over, and I think you can trace a good deal of it to the effects of neoliberalism. It had a goal, remember: the goal of neoliberalism was the transfer decisions, authority, away from the public to the hands of private power, and to atomize the population. You'll recall Margaret Thatcher, there is no society, just individuals tossed out into the market that somehow survive for themselves.
The first acts, first acts, that both Thatcher and Reagan carried out was to demolish labour unions. First move, [in] both cases. Reagan went as far as authorizing scabs, you know, strike-breakers. Illegal in every country except, at times, South Africa. Did it right away. The labour unions had been smashed in both countries. Why? Well, it's one of the very few ways in which people can organize to protect themselves, so we've got to get rid of them. Eliminate public schools, but do it by underfunding, don't give enough funding so they don't work, then support private schools as an alternative. All throughout the society, eliminate the means for people to organize, act collectively, make decisions. Transferred into the hands of private power. And the results are predictable and perfectly plain.Noam Chomsky
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."West India Emancipation" speech at Canandaigua, New York (1857)
We did not allow them to make an example of us.
Even though we have lost yardsticks by which to measure, and rules under which to subsume the particular, a being whose essence is a beginning may have enough of origin within himself to understand without preconceived categories and to judge without the set of customary rules which is morality.“Understanding and Politics”
Is the world to be won over in such a wise, even after one has dominated it? Can a power persist and be applied, when it had to assert itself against the whole pressure of scorn and hatred which such methods invariably call forth? Is it not indeed a pathetic delusion, that a people who have put themselves or been put in the position of the German people today could ever conquer anything? A people intellectually debased and impoverished, morally degraded — and they expect to conquer the earth! It makes one laugh. We do not get the better of others by destroying ourselves; and nothing is more foolish than to take all idealism for stupidity. Truth, and the freedom to seek it, are not luxury-products which enervate a people and unfit them for the struggle of life. They belong to life, they are life’s daily bread. The saying “Truth is what profits me” springs from the depths; from the convulsions of an anti-idealistic ideal which deludes nobody, uses nobody to its own good, but simply hastens its own collapse. It is an open secret that German science is deteriorating, that Germany is falling behind in all the domains of the intellect. The process will go irresistibly on, it will be irretrievably consummated in fact, if the sort of people who have the say today are given enough time to put into execution their malignant program of national “fitness.”foreword to Erika Mann's "School for Barbarians: Education Under the Nazis"
The glory of the German nation has always lain in a freedom which is the opposite of patriotic narrow-mindedness, and in a special and objective relation to mind. Germany gave birth to the phrase: “Patriotism corrupts history.” It was Goethe who said that. The true and extra-political nature of this people, its true vocation to mind and spirit, become clear today in the very immoderation, the “thoroughness” with which it abjures its best, its classic characteristics, offering them up on the altar of totalitarian politics at the behest of leaders who do not feel the sacrifice. This people of the “middle” is in actual fact a people of extremes. Shall we have power, shall we be political? Then away with spirit, away with truth and justice, independent knowledge and culture! Heroically it throws its humanity overboard, to put itself in alignment for world-mastery.foreword to Erika Mann's "School for Barbarians: Education Under the Nazis"
We all grow up and inherit a certain vocabulary. We then have got to examine this vocabulary.
When the facts come home to us, let us try at least to make them welcome. Let us try not to escape into utopias—images, theories, or sheer follies.
In those who have suffered too many blows, in slaves for example, that place in the heart from which the infliction of evil evokes a cry of surprise may seem to be dead. But it is never quite dead; it is simply unable to cry out anymore.
I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil, but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. The powerlessness of kindness, of senseless kindness, is the secret of its immortality. It can never by conquered. The more stupid, the more senseless, the more helpless it may seem, the vaster it is. Evil is impotent before it. The prophets, religious teachers, reformers, social and political leaders are impotent before it. This dumb, blind love is man’s meaning. Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil, struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer."Life and Fate"
It is undeniably true that the strong fraternal sentiments engendered by collective violence have misled many good people into the hope that a new community together with a new man will arise out of it. The hope is an illusion for the simple reason that no human relationship is more transitory than this kind of brotherhood which can be actualized only under conditions of immediate danger to life and limb.
I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.
Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love."The Brothers Karamazov"
Lies by their very nature have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history.
I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.
The younger and healthier a woman is and the more her new and glossy body seems destined for eternal freshness, the less useful is artifice; but the carnal weakness of this prey that man takes and its ominous deterioration always have to be hidden from him... In any case, the more traits and proportions of a woman seem contrived, the more she delighted the heart of man because she seemed to escape the metamorphosis of natural things. The result is this strange paradox that by desiring to grasp nature, but transfigured, in woman, man destines her to artifice."The Second Sex"