Sunday, September 12, 2010

Right there before my eyes, I can taste the changing times, and smell the colour of hope...

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If there is a world out there, and I have faith that other bodies that are recognisably like me inhabit that world along with me, then that world should be describable in a manner understandable by those other bodies. We share a space called a family, a community and a society.

Even if we don't share a global village as the half glassers would have us believe, the speed of travel and communications has reduced the distance between us; made  contact instantaneously possible across the planet, so industrial strife somewhere in the US is comunicable instantaneously to me in Melbourne, Australia; an environmental disaster is acknowledge before the nightly news has time to got to air.

I occupy a space that is social at its roots. Language comes to me from others and is only useful to me ultimately for linking across space, and time to other bodies who have a capacity to understand and to perhaps respond.

The point of all these ramblings, so far, is to establish that I am not alone in the world, that I share a world with others, and that ultimately that world is constructed and deconstructed simultaneously through communicative activity. This is the spirit world, this gift of language, which for some reason humans have as fundamental to our nature. We are not the only animal through which this gift operates, but it occurs in no other known animal to the same degree as it does in us.

The very ability to use the world us and for it to have meaning, implies a common bond. The neo-liberal chant that there is no such thing as society, only individuals belies the fact that in reality there is no such thing as individuals only society, that there is a common bond, the spirit of which is given to us through the hot air of the spoken, and the subsequent written word.

These two forms of language, spoken and symbolic, exist side by side and are in a dynamic relationship with one another. One fluid and airy in contest with the fixed and encased in grandeur. It is no mistake that the latter has a certain authority, and indeed the spoken words authority is easily increased if the speaker has the ability to write for others, such as a law maker or a priest. This ability to set words in stone adds weight to those uttered freely.

This ability to render the spoken word into symbolic form has always been at the centre of power. Those who do not have this power and yet are in a position to wield power are often open to being corrupted by those who lead them in this process. Such is a reason why nouveau riche are often rightly distrusted, being nothing but the noisy henchmen of the sectional interests who seek to control them.

This process is a common sight in the era of late capitalism that we live in, when the semi-literate are in cohorts with the anti-intellectual neo-conservative agenda. This alliance between the organised trades, financial marketeers, property developers and the intellectuals of the Western elites, has successfully sought to undermine the social liberal agenda of the post-war years in exchange for bigger television sets, a redistribution of wealth away from the creators and the poor eventually into the hands of the less and non-productive.

The cost of this to those left in the non-existent 'societies' has been enormous in terms of productive loss, social dislocation and disharmony. These controlling intellectuals and their collaborators have traded off taxation for welfare, that is, from a net loss to a positive gain, often cloaked under ideologies as diverse as Ayn Rand's anarchistic ramblings, the Dalai Lama's lame pronunciations and the hero worship of 'left wing' leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Fidel Castro.

To what end? Those left behind in 'society', otherwise called here the lifeworld, are left to pick up the pieces of those who threaten to fall through the 'safety net' constructed by the chameleons who write the laws who do not even believe that society exist. This is the fundamental belief of the ideology of neo-liberalism. Unions, bureaucracies, and community infrastructure has been diminished and denuded since Thatcher and Reagan began this attack on society in the late 1970s. There is no end in sight. Even the recent banking crisis was dealt with by a false Keynsianism that ignored those in the bottom half of society in favour of saving the butts of those in the upper half who do not apparently believe in society at all.

This use of language, indeed its perversion is often criticised by opposing factions of the intellectual elite, but they miss the point. Language has been co-opted and used to justify this corrupt disenfranchisement of the Lifeworld, and at the same time colonising the language of that world by simply displacing the bureaucracy onto the citizenry. The level of regulation may have decreased for those in the upper economic echelons of society but has increased substantially for those at the bottom end, at the brunt end of these social, philosophical and economic deforms.

Everyone gets an education just that some get a better education than other, or so the saying goes. While the best efforts of the political and intellectual classes has been to shelter themselves and their collaborators from the vagaries of the system their policies have created, this process has educated the those left behind in the Lifeworld to a reality that is cruel, negative and burdensome. It has shackled them with interconnected health, social and drug problems that threaten the very existence of any social and family fabric remaining. In return they are confronted with hostile texts which threatens their very existence as citizens.

Those in charge of the written word, the political, judicial and intellectual elites along with the middle class who have 'moved in on' the unsuspecting working classes, taking over their ruling bodies, come and go from the life world on a daily basis, ordering the production of new tomes, documentary propaganda and internet sites that to infiltrate the Lifeworlds consciousness. Those of us left behind are fighting back, however, and it is on the basis of language that we can do this. Language congeals our thoughts and focuses our attention before the hunt. It has always been like that.

Slowly, through the remaining available channels we are in communion with each other. Also, this connectedness is enhanced by the internet and other post-print areas of publication. It is up to those of us in a position to do so, to communicate at all levels of society to break through the ideological superstrate of the non-society by which we have come to be governed and take back control of the agenda of politics. It is my belief that the election of Barack Obama, the hung parliaments in Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia are the harbingers of this change on the ground in these modern Western democracies.

Taste is returning as the rancid smell of the fast food outlets is being pushed back, and the air smells sweet with the burgeoning hope of new times ahead, of a crisis that will force fundamental change in the way we think about economics and the environment, and of a return to the Great Society of which post-war generations dreamed, not the baby boomer crap we have been dished up with.

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