Archive for April, 2010

What “free market”?

There isn’t one grain of anything in the world that is sold in a free market. Not one! The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians.

Read more (again) here.

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Politics and food

The damaging and dangerous aspects of our food supply have arisen out of its complete subordination to the dictates of the free market. Maximization of yield, and therefore profits, has trumped all other considerations in growing, and “adding value” is the name of the game in processing. When applied to food, capitalism’s insanity, which in all industries tends toward concentration and overproduction, has had truly perverse effects. Plenty has produced waste, not health; soil science has poisoned us instead of fed us; and technology has intensified, not alleviated, poverty.

Read more here.


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Which Will Kill Us First?

Which of the following is most likely to kill us first?

A. Capitalism.
B. Socialism.
C. Doesn’t matter, we’re all dead anyway.
D. None of the above.

[NOTE: Although this looks like a multiple choice question, it is really an essay question. You need a reason or set of reasons for your choice. There is, I’m afraid, a time limit on this test, and the clock is definitely ticking….]

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Good as Dead

You are going to die.

You may die before you finish reading this (if I don’t die before I finish writing this). You may even die, for all I know, from reading this (although I fervently hope not). But you are definitely going to die.

Neither God nor Aubrey de Grey can help you. You are done for. Sooner or later, it’s lights out, game over, the fat lady will have sung. You are as good as dead.

Now you may say that you are young and that, sure, someday you are going to die, but probably not today, probably not very soon. But the cemeteries are filled with the young. You may say that you are a careful person, that you always practice caution, that you do all the right things. But the cemeteries are filled with people who ate right, people who looked both ways before crossing streets, people who exercised regularly and got frequent check-ups. Nope—there is no hiding from the fact that you are doomed. I don’t care who you are, how healthy you feel, how much money you have. Dead—that’s your future. Period. End of story.

You need to face up to this right now, right this very instant (before it is too late). Don’t even wait until you finish reading. ACCEPT IT NOW!

I need to mention one more little fact, too. Dead is dead. When you die, you are not coming back. You are not living on in another plane of existence. There is no afterlife, no heaven, no hell, no nothing. Just the end.

It is true: you will have no regrets, no tears, no illness, no war, no hunger. Just like it says in the Good Book.

But that’s because there’ll be no nothin’!

You should know that is because you deny this simple unarguable fact that there are wars, violence, poverty, untreated illnesses, hunger, despair, religious strife, terrorism. You should know that I am not saying we should solve our problems by being dead (although that is certainly effective). I am not saying that we have the problems we have because we are alive (although it is certainly true that in order to have problems you have to be alive).

I am saying that it is the denial—not of death—but of YOUR death that causes all the problems. Yes, I mean YOU. YOU are causing all the world’s problems (along with everybody else, that is). You are struggling, in your own way, for existence. But you will always lose that struggle. It is a stupid struggle. It is mindless. And that struggle for existence is the root cause of all our problems.

NO. You need to change your mind, to become mindful, to adopt a new strategy. You must EMBRACE the fact that you are as good as dead right now.

“GOOD AS DEAD”—embrace that! Learn to love that and care for that and defend that.

Because when dead—remember!—there are no wars, no struggles, no want, no illness, no despair. You—we—can have it just as good as that right now if you already count yourself as dead.

The paradox is that if you do, you will immediately begin to LIVE a real, joyous, loving, human life. It will be heaven on Earth. Guaranteed!

I am willing to defend this idea…to the death!

What’s your view?

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A discussion on life, death, and Sartre

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Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

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University (Philosophy) Inside Outside

In my courses, we talk about the beginning of Plato’s Euthyphro and how this dialogue is set on the “porch of the King Archon’s court” to symbolize that philosophy is both “inside” society and “outside” society at the same time. Philosophy asks “Why?” and “What is it really?” sorts of questions. The (purported) answers to such questions give rise to institutions such as courts, governments, schools, and so forth. But once these fundamentally philosophical institutions are born and mature, they no longer tolerate very well the questioning of philosophers. Just ask Socrates.

Here is a link to an article about the state of the university: It is a very interesting essay, but especially note these couple excerpts:

The university used to exist in a complex, double relationship to the modern state and the capitalist economy – in one sense dependent on them for resources and support and in another sense independent enough to make the claim to know the whole. The university was clearly inside society as a social institution dependent on other, more powerful institutions. But it was also outside society in the sense that its partial independence provided a standpoint from which the whole of society, history and nature could be represented as a form of knowledge. Knowledge understood as an organized totality – subdivided, but unified in a structural whole – that refers to and represents the world is the specifically modern form of knowledge. Knowledge in this specifically modern form confers structure and meaning on the modern university. This location and mission of the university has changed and much discussion thus far has emphasized the social and economic, that is to say, corporate factors, that have brought this about.


The double, inside/outside relationship of the modern university to society meant that the university was both a social institution and a relatively independent standpoint from which the whole (of society, history and nature) could be represented in the form of knowledge. The end of the double relationship means that the university is in danger of being subsumed within society to become exclusively, one-sidedly, a servant of social interests. We can see emerging a university thoroughly immersed in socio-technical networks identical with those of the society as a whole. This indistinction between university and society implies the end of a standpoint from which one can represent the whole in the form of knowledge and the beginning of the production of forms of knowledge that have a directly social function. Knowledge-production becomes an action alongside other actions rather than a representation of the whole field of action.

Is the university a fundamentally philosophical institution? Of course. Has anything really changed since Plato wrote the Euthyphro?

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John R. Searle – Beyond Dualism

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