A Quick Heretic Note

by a German Pirate

I love science-fiction. Especially those people in it, dashing through half the universe like Captain Kirk or Perry Rhodan. May it be with spaceships – through wormholes or star gates. But this is not as easy as it sounds. Up until now – physics does not agree with what we might want. Matter just cannot simply travel faster than light. One could get the idea that this may be good, because humankind would be like a swarm of locusts if it were unleashed upon the cosmos in its current state. Armageddon, the way it is imagined by fundamentalists, would look like a kindergartenparty in comparison.

We must start to think on a planetary scale. All of us.

We are confronted with the finite nature of our natural resources. There is no way back.

We construct our world, that’s what radical constructivism claims. If only one quantum of this should be proven true, the consequence would be that we have to take full responsibility for our constructions. And everything affected by them.

Instead, we accept that our livelihoods are threatened by financial weapons of mass destruction. Cabaret artist Georg Schramm once made a comment regarding Warren Buffett – „The war of rich against poor is always an attack on human dignity.“ [1]

Again and again, so-called human dignity stays behind like an empty shell, as long as other human beings may be killed, raped, tormented or exploited by modern forms of slavery.

We might have created a very prominent term that has worked itself to the forefront of many national constitutions, but we have not been able to live up to its true meaning.

But the financial weapons of mass destructions gain their danger through two elements: stupidity and greed – respectively wickedness.

Since about the times of Ronald Reagan we are forced to watch the epidemic reproduction of vulgar idealistic economic apologists that view the world as a simple input-output system just like a black box. Where only the ratio of that what goes in the front end and comes out of the back end counts. Monocontextural and based on money. Feedback and self-references do not exist in their minds contaminated with simple and linear business-management concepts.

It will also not help, that „think tanks“ full of self-professed „elites“ are shooting up like mushrooms everywhere. Our problems are not solved by groups meeting for champagne and hors d’oevres. But one can only understand the problems on the horizon if one actually reaches out to them. Their success, the success of our elites is yesterday’s success that has caused the problems of today – this is why their way of thinking and basic actions are not sufficient for the tasks of tomorrow.

The hordes of self-professed consultants are a very significant sign of our times. These symptoms of our thinking crisis seem to know very well what the most important problem is – of course always the one of their own interest and market position – and secondly how it is solved.

The charlatans and verbal thunder makers [2] are pretty easily identified due to their poor methods for structuring problems. There is mostly only one problem that is so terribly urgent and all other problems are derived from this one so that it has to be solved instantaneously. In the best case it should have been tackled yesterday.

According to the neurologist Manfred Spitzer for example, the human race will sooner or later become the victim of digital dementia if it continues letting it’s children sit in front of monitors and use smartphones.

Recently a good number of digital therapists have popped up, wanting to liberate us from the bondage of e-mail or the plague of Facebook. The possibilities for constructive transformation are not even discussed on a basic level.

Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are without doubt late consequences of letterpress printing and science. If it were not so, there would have most certainly been therapy for reading or education addiction when letterpress printing was first introduced.

New technologies and cultural techniques always bring games of pros and cons with them that are now becoming much more polarized since the advent of television in the sixties of the last century. TV may now be available in high definition colour and 3D, but those discussions all still seem to recall memories of black and white imagery.

Much quieter sounds and more complex melodies of content seem to go unnoticed. Like those of, just to name a few representing much more, a Noam Chomsky, Erwin Chargaff or Richard Sennett,“ that he – played not only in his last opus called „Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation“ [3].

These advisers or scientists or maybe call them advising scientists, can all be recognized by the way they examine all criteria on a large scale. The respective problem or partial problem is always embedded in the fabric of a bigger picture, describing and making connections within a whole field of context. All of this is said and done without claiming to produce any doctrines of salvation. Those people and many others know that realization or enlightenment cannot be obtained from one day to another or by the click of a mouse. The fact that someone has expressed themselves very competently in a book or on the internet, does by far not mean that one has firstly found the meaning of this expression nor secondly that one understands it.

Understanding means making an effort. Thinking is an effort. We need a new effort-driven culture that also considers thinking. One that could also be motivated by understanding that a glass of lemonade or a cool beer on a summer’s evening is much more enjoyable when one has been sweating for a while beforehand.

The hurdle that has been taken is often more rewarding the higher it has been perceived beforehand. What about the others? They mostly act and publish according to the principle: „Modesty may be fine and dandy, but living without it is a better modus operandi…“

This way of thinking might give off an easy activity-independent feeling of self-worth, but it will also sooner or later lead to depression. [4,5]

On the other hand, there are people, quite active and likable people, where „Die Maus Frederick“, „Jonathan Livingston Seagull“ or „The Little Prince“ and many others enjoy weird parties in their imaginations. Those are Parties where the drinks are brewed from social romantic ideas and an unbreakable belief in an a priori existence of a higher set of values.

But moral indignation alone does not help. Because, how Norbert Bolz has once put it, „moral demands towards reality mark […] exactly those areas where a society is unable to learn“. [6]

But Values are – in the best sense – that what we Humans negotiate thanks to our gift and ability for communication, or what we should talk about. But individuals who declare values to be absolute without questioning them, those individuals are promoting a fundamentalist prohibition on thinking. And that in times where we need nothing more desperately than our rational thinking.

The conditions that have to be met are actually not that many. We just have to look at the world with an open mind. And then we must continue developing our thought and arithmetic. And use our machines efficiently.

For our common interest.

And what we might want to understand as our common interest this is exactly what we have to talk about, urgently.

You and me: WE are the NET.

Neuss, April 20th 2013

Joachim Paul

Taken from my book „TRANS- Reflexionen über Menschen, Medien, Netze und Maschinen“ and translated by Elle Nerdinger aka @forschungstorte

Diesen Beitrag gibt es auch auf Deutsch.

Sources:

[1] Schramm, Georg; Dankesrede zur Verleihung des Erich-Fromm-Preises an Georg Schramm am 26.03.2012 im Stuttgarter Schloss -> online

[2] Den Ausdruck „Hohldonnerer“ (en: verbal thunder makers) verdanke ich Kurt Weidemann. Vgl. Weidemann, Kurt; Wortarmut – Im Wettlauf mit der Nachdenklichkeit; Stuttgard 1995, S. 8f

[3] Sennett, Richard; Zusammenarbeit; München 2012; orig.: Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation

[4] Den Ausdruck „leistungsunabhängiges Selbstwertgefühl“ (en: activity-independent feeling of self-worth) verdanke ich meinem Piratenfreund Wolfgang Dudda.

[5] Ehrenberg, Alain; Das erschöpfte Selbst; Frankfurt a.M. 2004; en: The Weariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age; 2009

[6] Bolz, Norbert; Die Wirtschaft des Unsichtbaren; München 1999; S. 223f

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One Response to “A Quick Heretic Note”

  1. Oliver sagt:

    About Politics and old-fashioned thinking in all established political parties and society:
    R.D. Precht talking to Harald Welzer (sociologist) (talk is in german language)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38tTQBMqqoo

    Some things, that Welzer mentioned are interesting.
    For example, that all the established political parties are using thinking of the 20th or even 19th century (!), and that politics is pseudo-politics if it does not address the problems of TODAY, circumventing to face that all their answers do not help, because they address times that are already history, and that fresh questions (addressing today’s situation) are necessary to open the mind….

    This talk was transmitted via TV at a night time, when most people are söeeping.. on dayly time the same broadcaster sends one cooking show after the other, to make people stay poorly minded…

    See also Georg Schramm at Pelzig’s show, addressing this topic of dliberately making people staying idiotic:

    Georg Schramm bei “Pelzig hält sich”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIyhkVRQCTU

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