OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Set it on fire, then

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  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    Actually I'd regard such unpleasantness as inevitable (not desirable, just inevitable) once the capitalist system collapses under resource exhaustion and the (failed) globalisation of affluence.

    The only chance to avoid it and have a nicer outcome is if we can move beyond current capitalist/authoritarian models and construct an alternative cooperative order. But people in most societies are far too deluded and selfish for that to work out, really.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    What about laughing at the system, to the point where they threaten to sue for "emotional distress" or stitch mouths up with the threads of censorship? I once read that laughter is a weapon that dictators and other unsavoury characters can't fight.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    I once read that laughter is a weapon that dictators and other unsavoury characters can't fight.

    There is also a saying that goes something like: "the English have satire instead of revolutions".

    Laughter can act as a convenient/inconvenient safety valve.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    Unfortunately, this seems to be what most revolutionaries think, which is why the successful ones end up as crude, more corrupt caricatures of those they replaced

    look at Joan of Arc - the solution there was just to torch her as well...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Actually I’d regard such unpleasantness as inevitable

    Gawd, the pessimism. I like to think civilized humans can organize themselves better than that. A sustained downturn in democracies could just lead to them organizing another variant on the New Deal, and perhaps addressing the key causes of global financial instability. Doesn't really require martyrs, just Acts of parliament, and ticks on voting papers. I don't like our current government, sure, but they won't last forever.

    The only question for me is "how sustained?". How deep into full blown depression do we have to sink before more sensible measures become obvious voter choices? And WW2 lies there beyond the Godwin barrier as a warning against using violence at a Great Nation level to solve these problems.

    But enough of this digression.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Well, maybe not quite enough...:-)

    once the capitalist system collapses under resource exhaustion and the (failed) globalisation of affluence.

    See I don't think that's going to happen. Only Western capitalism is collapsing, and to a large extent it's collapsing towards the Third World, which rises the more it seizes (well, wins an auction for) the main means of production, labour. It's an ironic outcome of globalization. Affluence globalization actually does mean hard times for rich nations. I don't think the key proponents of globalization realized this. Or maybe they did but they didn't care.

    It has to stabilize out at some point. I just don't know when. We'll probably eventually get used to the idea that the economy can't keep growing so fast, until the laggard nations reach reasonable levels of affluence.

    So perhaps I am agreeing after all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    The only chance to avoid it and have a nicer outcome is if we can move beyond current capitalist/authoritarian models and construct an alternative cooperative order.

    You see, I reckon that process has been under way for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The question is whether we go the way of the Mayans (and the various other over-reaching empires before us) before we get there properly.

    It's not about ticking boxes and Acts of Parliament. It's, as Rich says, a co-operative order where people work things out between themselves without recourse to violence or authority.

    We're mostly there (cf, in kind of a related way, Pinker on violence), especially the educated western middle classes, who have always been the most successful revolutionary class, the vanguard for all the rest.

    We almost being there's why the western democratic state's getting so desperately violent (in its various forms, 'it' being both state and violence). We simply don't need them any more, the ridiculous dinosaurs, and they don't like it very much.

    Boo hoo.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    In the early 20th century, I would've been called a counter-revolutionary bourgeois moralist for saying that. Then burnt out of town.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    "Lonely little man with a furrowed brow
    all by himself in a black-draped room
    chuffing out responses to no-one he knows
    thinking he's connecting via a ballgame & cats

    connecting? With who?
    Textor & Crosby?
    Merchant-banker mates?

    You and me
    turned off
    months ago-"

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    We’re mostly there (cf, in kind of a related way, Pinker on violence), especially the educated western middle classes, who have always been the most successful revolutionary class, the vanguard for all the rest.

    Pinker's conclusions seem mostly valid to me, although I'd like some explanation of whether, when they looked at the data for extant hunter-gatherer populations, they took into account the fact that they have universally been marginalised and are operating in low-resource situations (maybe not some of the ones in the Amazon, but def. other groups) which could impact levels of violence. It's also not necessarily a world-wide phenomenon (c.f. places like Somalia).

    Nevertheless, it's some very nice research, and it's a good counter-balance to everyone who thinks the world is falling apart. It's easy to forget just how common murder was in medieval societies, compared to today. Life absolutely was cheaper.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    * life was cheaper*

    It was way cheaper – because people were seen as functions-

    Abortions/died-at-births/“death in womb”/- and my favourite- ‘failed to breathe’
    just meant your conceived kid and just-born baby died.

    It wasnt just murder & battle-death: there was a significant sieving out going on in Euro societies.

    In Maori society- not so. I can go on about this but wont.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Islander,

    It wasnt just murder & battle-death: there was a significant sieving out going on in Euro societies.

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. Are you saying there was a deliberate distinction in quality of medical care given to different people?

    Certainly another reason life was "cheap" was that people died often and early, of unpreventable diseases. Childbirth was (is, in some parts of the world) dangerous. Giving birth to a live child was not a guarantee you'd have one a year or five years later. Possibly the range of other ways to die, and nearness of death in people's lives, influenced people's willingness to commit murder and violence?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    hey guys, here's a blunt knife and a plastic bottle, good luck surviving!

    By way of correction - you need two blunt knives, a plastic bottle, a stove and to have paid your electrical bill for this to work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Possibly the range of other ways to die, and nearness of death in people's lives, influenced people's willingness to commit murder and violence?

    Certainly, when life is cheap and short, you'd be inclined to get on with it as hard and fast as possible. But the inclination to murder and violence is something I believe to be built in, taking the many layers of civilization that I've been lucky enough to live under to reduce. Even then, when "civilized" people get down to violence, they do it in a different way, using technology to rain death down indiscriminately, and propaganda to soften the blow to their conscience.

    It's not really very far below the surface. However much Pinker righteously points out that the world was a more violent place, the huge anomaly of the ultra violent wars that technology makes available to us, and we have availed ourselves of periodically, makes me uninclined to be complacent about our capacity for a sudden, horrible reversal. His statistics could be reversed in under one hour if nuclear war ever broke out, and there is no reason to think that humans can't develop even more devastating weapons.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DexterX,

    re #...

    By way of correction – you need two blunt knives, a plastic bottle, a stove and to have paid your electrical bill for this to work.

    That's what they call 'making a hash' of something, huh?
    Waaay back I met a person who had done this and had blacked out, leaving them with a lovely spiral shaped Eutron element burn on one side of their face...
    Be careful out there folks....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    However much Pinker righteously points out that the world was a more violent place, the huge anomaly of the ultra violent wars that technology makes available to us, and we have availed ourselves of periodically, makes me uninclined to be complacent about our capacity for a sudden, horrible reversal

    Yeah, I guess I meant that the presence of death for non-murder-related reasons, every day, would bring those urges a bit closer to the surface.

    I, too, am totally unsanguine that this is a permanent sort of change. Sure, it says good things about the evolution of society, but sans society...you only need to look at the various genocides of the last two decades, most of which involve people going "Hey, let's rape, torture, and massacre our neighbours!" to see that the basic instincts are still there. If current societal constructs go down the tube in a serious way, I'd expect to see those violence statistics go right back up.

    I think his conclusions are much more valid for murder than for war, too. As for the possibility of nuclear war...yeah, well, that too, but disasters and wars have killed very large percentages of the human race before. Depends whether you count a war that kills, oh, 20% of a population as "more violent" when the population is 1 million than when it's 1 thousand. I don't think Pinker does, and I'm not entirely sure it's a comparison I find useful.

    Also, if a thousand people die in one war and a hundred do in another because of better medical care, does that make the second war "less violent"? Is Iraq less violent than Vietnam? My understanding is the casualties are the same, but the airlifts and medical attention are better, so deaths are fewer. How do you deal with that sort of statistic?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Note to beginners – Don't believe the urban legend.

    Press knives together once glowing do not plant face on element.

    As with most things they should be shared for best results.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    There is an old saying that goes something like 'No matter how many generations it takes to build a civilisation, it only takes one to destroy it.'

    I have a horrible feeling that that generation is now in its 20s (except grumpy middle-aged men have always said that about every generation in its 20s).

    Who knows what will happen? Every historical attempt to seriously predict the future was a ludicrous failure. Why should our attempts be any different? I reckon the only safe thing you can say about the future is that it will be completely unlike what anyone expects.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Waaay back I met a person who had done this and had blacked out, leaving them with a lovely spiral shaped Eutron element burn on one side of their face…

    In Christchurch around 1989, perhaps?

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    Inter-generational warfare goes all the way back to Ancient Greek times. So what sets the current generation apart from those before it? There are those who say that it's the first to wind up poorer than their parents' one, but the fall of Rome and the Great Depression indicate it's older than we think.

    Germany & Japan learned the hard way how unchecked demagoguery and hyper-nationalism can come to grief big time. Now, they're among the most stable of democracies despite any turbulence they've encountered since then.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    the Great Depression

    What do you reckon was the differential impact on generations? Not something I've seen anywhere.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    EXTERIOR SCENE, NIGHT: Campfire, 40,000 years ago

    Middle-aged cave painter 1: 'Bloody kids today.'

    Middle-aged cave painter 2: 'I reckon. That boy we've got doesn't even want to chew the end of sticks to make his brushes like we've always done. He was talking some bollocks about sticking some animal hair on the end with glue and strips of hide.'

    Middle-aged cave painter 1: 'Outrageous. Shall we kick the crap out of him when he gets back from screwing around? He'll be full of fermented berries and dull and slow.'

    Middle-aged cave painter 2: 'I reckon. Bloody kids today.'

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    In Christchurch around 1989, perhaps?

    if not earlier...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    Cave painters would not have made your or anyone’s version of middle age - in much the same vein people now reaching retirement age don't get to retire – they get to mostly work to death.

    What I don't get, currently, is that there is so much buy into, by default, that everything is the result/fault of the Global Financial Crisis - whereas it is really a crisis of governance and failure to regulate financial markets and manage economies so that they fulfil their basic purpose, which is to provide for the wider populace and not an elite few.

    The effect of eating too much lettuce is ”soporific” and at present we have a populace that has eaten too much lettuce.

    Our Prime Minister First Citizen John Key the First was on talk back radio for an hour on the day that NZ's credit rating was down graded by two agencies and did not discuss policy – from the outtakes I listened to on their website. How sophomoric can it get?

    Just watch the volume and substance of lettuce (media coverage) post RWC and pre election.

    I bet Don Brash has two burnt butter knives in his cutlery door and will work himself to death turning the Act party into the Flopsy Bunnies so that post election he can sit around in the Beehive kicking back in bean bags chugging on a bucket bong discussing econmic reforms and the sale of everything whilst becoming the Keystoned partner in the next Nat Coalition Govt.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    ’m not quite sure what you mean by this. Are you saying there was a deliberate distinction in quality of medical care given to different people?

    You're not being disingenuous?

    Emphatically there was a distinction in quality of medical care - none for the poor. Let's take Victorian England and workhouses & baby-farming for starters -

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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