Just had my mind blown. If you watch only one video this year (and I generally don’t tend to watch any online videos), then please, please watch this one. Amazing, amazing, truly amazing stuff.
I can’t begin to communicate to you exactly how much this five minutes of historical wordplay has suddenly made me see the world in a completely different way. Earlier in the day, I was describing how we should establish a parallel BBC (after two previous posts on similar themes), because something quite fundamental about the one we’ve got really wasn’t as it should be. Now I see more clearly. Uncharted waters mean legitimate and illegitimate actions are often interchangeable; cannot be easily separated; exist in the same spaces. And the biggest uncharted waters we’ve ever faced are around us at this very moment: cyberspace; our genetic make-up as a species; the patenting of cash crops. It’s all waiting to be “pirated” – not just by those most of us would recognise as “pirates” but – just as significantly – by those who would claim to be quite otherwise.
I never realised the term was as rich and pregnant in meaning and expansion as I now understand it to be.
Today has, however, been a day of many felicitous discoveries. This one, for example, which came my way a few minutes ago via Jeff:
In 2009, at the Economics for Ecology Conference, we’d made this point:
“The prevailing economics systems in the twentieth century were capitalism and communism. Both systems were hypothetically aimed at creating a means of providing people with comfortable, safe and secure life.
Along the way, in the process of attempting different forms of economics from capitalism to communism, we have managed to pollute and contaminate our own environment to the extent of causing environmental change to the point of quite possible catastrophe for people around the world. Neither the capitalist system nor the communist system – nor the various fascist systems attempted in such as Germany, Spain and Italy – lived up to their promises. Communist and fascist systems became infamous for mass murder. The Western capitalist was less murderous. Overall, capitalism was able to produce a much larger middle class of people between rich and poor, and has gained precedence due to making safe and secure life possible for more people. But, it’s various methods over the past 100 years left millions of people to suffer and die more indirectly than outright murder. Those people were dismissed as relatively unimportant, mostly left to die from deprivation rather than outright execution. In all systems, some rationale was created to either dismiss people and leave them to die, or, kill people outright. In the end, for the victims, the result was identical.”
To conclude thus:
This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for “people-centered” economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine’s poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a “top-down” approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first — not secondarily, along the way or by the way.”
In a joint report, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist church, the United Reformed church and the Church of Scotland said that the “systematic misrepresentation of the poorest in society” was a matter of injustice that all Christians should challenge.
How capitalism so often comes full circle. Occasionally entrancingly; usually tryingly; sometimes cruelly.
The last being, now it would seem, our circle.
Time for us all, perhaps, in this evermore uncharted century, to understand properly what it is to be a “pirate”.
Update to this post, 1st April 2013 (and no, it’s not an April Fools’ update either!): just a quick reference to something Jeff touches on, in his piece linked to above. In it, and speaking of a latterday Marshall plan, he mentions:
[...] the ‘tools innovations and methodologies’ available today which hadn’t existed 60 years earlier [...].
Just so the dyed-in-the-wool capitalists don’t immediately turn off this meme, then, here’s something I wrote a while ago which describes how the iPhone is a perfect argument for a planned economy. First this:
The iPhone, perhaps the apex of all latterday manufacturing and publishing industries, is just about as planned and structured to the last detail as anything in this life could possibly be. It’s an astonishing paradox that Apple is held up to be the paradigm of effective free-market capitalism (even when we know it isn’t free market at all) – whilst being the most control-freaking company in history.
And then this:
What iPhone really shows us, then, is the massively impact planning our whys and wherefores can have on how they turn out. If we want to use Apple – and its huge cash mountain and its immense ability to deliver products and services people want – as an example to follow, we have to argue it has far more to do with planned economies than the supposedly libertarian, slapdash and light-touch approaches conventional neoliberalism would have us ascribing to.
Provokes trains of interesting thoughts, if nothing else. Ones we really should have the intellectual honesty to follow.