Eagle and serpent

explorations and philosophy: in the world, of the world

Tag: economy

Alternative necessity

Volcanic ash teaches us a lesson. It’s baffling to see how people can find alternatives, and even completely change plans, when they are faced by a force majeure–and all this rather effortlessly, with no serious emotional exhaustion. It’s easy to take a relaxed view on things that cannot be acted upon.

I cannot help but think what would happen if we had an ‘Icelandic volcano’ in other matters as well. For instance, should the oil wells dry up for good, what would our energy politics (and our lifestyle with it) look like? Would there be alternatives? Of course there would. It may be that cheap flights everywhere and -when are something that we are used to, but it’s hardly necessary in the strong sense.

Another matter is the emerging demands to lift the flight restrictions. Who’s taking the risk here, actually?

Apartheid out loud

For the first time in a long time, someone is calling violent, racist segregation what it is: apartheid. This wonderful Dutch word imported to English (being the only one I know and arguably one of the few) has a multitude of connotations ranging from 1930s Germany to more contemporary South Africa. Interestingly, these kinds of voices emerge only from the ‘leftist’ ranks. Does it mean that the ‘right’ is blind? An alternative explanation is that the more conservatist spheres are fine with the ongoing situation, because it serves their economic interests. Nevertheless, I quote:

“…there are deeply distressing echoes of apartheid in the occupied territories: the colour-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said the architecture of segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was “infinitely worse than apartheid”. That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.”

Full article here.

Holy sh*t!

I was originally thinking of going to see one of the oxbridges and play with my new toy, but the weather foiled my plans. It was time to come up with something else. Right after the exposure to once again excellent film (in the excellent Barbican), it’s time to draw some lines between thoughts.

‘Battle for Haditha’ is a fine film also for the reason that it makes a nice comparison to our much-debated financial crisis. ‘Good’ intentions, a lot of corpses and someone profiting in the meanwhile. Ingenious!

It also raised interesting questions of institutions and their position. What if your institution is full of poorly educated young men heads full of testosterone, heavy metal and pr of ‘justice’, ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’? Sorry forgot, armed young men.

Hey man, just fly over and drop the candy! Or, if you’re a banker, package the derivatives and sell the blow-up onwards!

As even Alan has said he’s sorry, sort of, I remember many children behaving this way:

  1. Be reckless
  2. Apologise
  3. Everything’s ok


Economic thought

Following a presentation given by an economist can sometimes be hard. Not to mention the methodological constraints of their method of inquiry, only listening to them can raise serious issues of meaningfulness and direction of knowledge. To illustrate the idea of my point, imagine yourself in a seminar room in the midst of a presentation/discussion, where almost every other sentence starts with “suppose…”, “assume…”, “let’s…” or “imagine…”

There is nothing wrong with teasing the creativity of one’s audience, but if the whole argument is based on equilibria of one’s own assumptions, there might be some difficulty in seeing the empirical value of such claims. Not to mention the poverty of a view that embraces reductionism taken to the form of its additive fundamentalist extreme.

On the other hand, there must be something of value to the economic mode of thinking. They are, after all, handling the fundamentals of humankind. No matter where you go, from Knightsbridge to Brixton, or Vientiane to Tokyo, the people have one thing in common: buying and selling. This universal phenomenon of exchange is indeed something very fundamental. Or is it just being bought?