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Belmont Club

The Most That You Can Keep

February 21st, 2012 - 10:16 am

Adbusters, which played a role in starting the Occupy Wall Street movement, featured an article by French philosopher Bernard Stiegler which argues that rather than attempt to boost production and create more products, policy should focus on “what Aristotle called philia, and which would then form the basis of a new type of economic investment.” Stiegler, who “taught himself philosophy while imprisoned for armed robbery,” teaches that we should all groove on our navels, at the exquisite way in which the lint just sits there, poised between the protruding hairs:

[Stiegler] is concerned with the way in which the industrial organization of production and then consumption has had destructive consequences for the modes of life of human beings, in particular with the way in which the loss of savoir-faire and savoir-vivre (that is, the loss of the knowledge of how to do and how to live), has resulted in what Stiegler calls “generalized proletarianization.” In this series Stiegler makes clear his view that, in the light of the present state of the global technical system, it is not a matter of overcoming capitalism but rather of transforming its industrial basis to prevent the loss of spirit from which it increasingly suffers.

Which means, if I understand Stiegler correctly, that we are moving toward a future where we’d all like to buy the world a Coke without actually having the money to afford one, even for ourselves. It’s an exciting future, one which at any rate will surprise many. Though maybe they shouldn’t be astonished. It’s worth remembering that Jonestown started out as a project to build a socialist paradise on Earth and ended up with a universal requirement to practice “revolutionary suicide.” The dream became a nightmare, but maybe it was always that under the mask.


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