Sunday, 21 October 2012

Andrew Marr damns capitalism and confuses the audience.

Andrew Marr’s History of the World (BBC 1, Season 1, episode 5 of 8, ‘Age of Plunder’)

Marr presents a damning indictment of capitalism. For example, he explains that Columbus and the Conquistadors were mass-murdering thieves.

He succinctly summarises the three core principles of the spread of European empires: “Religion, conquest [i.e. massacres - as Marr himself makes clear] and slavery.”

He talks about the Dutch speculative bubble in tulips some centuries ago – the pre-cursor of contemporary bubbles (e.g. dot.com) and the stock market generally. On the one hand, he is making it clear that these speculators are worthless people – simply buying, selling and profiteering until the game is up through a collapse in confidence (that anyone will continue to want to acquire tulips); that is, Marr himself makes it clear that these people do nothing of value.

But on the other hand, at the end of the programme, Marr is eulogising capitalism as the force which has shaped the world into its modern form.

This must create considerable cognitive dissonance in many of the audience, particularly youngsters.

Now Marr apparently reconciles the dissonance by essentially ignoring it, thus: he acknowledges the terrible facts because, after all, he is an intellectual, so his self-image demands that he cannot consciously ignore facts and preserve that self-image; but he ignores the significance – that capitalism is based on empire and both are based on violence – presumably because he is acutely aware of how rewarded and embedded he is within that system.

Thus, for example, elsewhere, Marr can readily admit the fact that the Iraq invasion-occupation has caused “a terrible human cost”; but for him (and all the other chatterers in his class of ‘journalism’), that is merely a detail of academic interest; the real significance lies in how Iraq will play out in Westminster and the fortunes of Tony Blair.

This must be very confusing to young viewers because it will be far from obvious to them that the killing of thousands/millions of humans is not the primary significance of an historical event. And the school curriculum will add to that confusion because, in that curriculum, there is a particular historical event (the Nazis’ genocide of Jews) where it is indeed emphasised that the human cost is the primary factor of concern.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

What kind of revolution?

good stuff, pasted from: http://leftymathprof.wordpress.com/what-kind-of-revolution/

All around me I see people distracted from the real issues by the election campaign, which is in its final month as I write this. Some tell me that I absolutely must vote for their candidate “on account of the Supreme Court, if for no other reason.” But they’re mistaken. The Supreme Court does not matter, because it and everything else of this election will be wiped away by a revolution less than a year from now.
The two Goldman-Sachs parties do differ slightly on some minor issues. But they don’t talk about the two biggest issues — war and ecocide — because they don’t want to call attention to the fact that they are in agreement with each other, but not with the public, on those issues. Go ahead and vote, if you really feel compelled to  — it will take you only a couple of minutes, or a couple of hours if the line is long. But don’t give it more time than that. Don’t concern yourself with the polls or the televised “debates” — they’re just a distraction from the real issues. And don’t engage in campaigning, which will just distract other people as well. The Titanic has hit an iceberg and it is sinking, but the two Goldman-Sachs parties are arguing over who will now get to control the steering wheel. People, that’s not the part of the ship that you should be concerned with right now.
It’s funny that everyone is concerned about the economy, and yet hardly anyone is talking about the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the room, the biggest component of the economy. Of course, I mean the military-industrial complex, which swallows half of every tax dollar, and is the chief source of our society’s economic problems. It conducts wars that make new enemies faster than they kill old ones, because its real goal is not to make us safer, but rather to enrich itself. Meanwhile, it destroys the lives of millions of our cousins on the other side of the world. I am ashamed of how little the people of my country concern themselves about those cousins. Consumerism has made us a very sick people. As a nation, we have much to atone for.

full article here:
http://leftymathprof.wordpress.com/what-kind-of-revolution/