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[Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
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- Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
- From: "Dr. Paul C. Mocombe" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2014 07:11:33 -0500
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Andy and david,
It would appear that any counter - narrative would have to be anti-dialectical and counter-hegemonic, I.e., anti-individual, anti-capitalist, anti-humanity... Can such a counter - narrative come from a humanity, including us academics, subjectified to reproduce individual wealth, upward mobility, and status at the expense of the masses of poor around the world, paradoxically, seeking our bourgeois lifestyle?
I ask because, it would appear that the earth,in marxian terms, as a class for itself, has been begging for humanity to change the way it recursively reorganize and reproduce it's being-in-it over the last 100 years, but we consistently refuse. Instead, turning to dialectical measures, fracking, carbon credits, neoliberalism, etc., to attempt to resolve our problems and maintain the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism as an "enframing" (heidegger's term) ontology.
I am not a pessimistic person, but it appears that in this case we are all dead we just do not know it yet.
Dr. Paul C. Mocombe
The Mocombeian Foundation, Inc.
<div>-------- Original message --------</div><div>From: David H Kirshner <email@example.com> </div><div>Date:01/21/2014 2:50 AM (GMT-05:00) </div><div>To: firstname.lastname@example.org,"eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <email@example.com> </div><div>Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International </div><div>
I suppose social psychology's unitary and a-historical ascription of the human sense of material well-being as relative to other people (rather than as relative to one's own past) gets it wrong from the start. Still, I think it provides a way to understand the individual pursuit of wealth, carried to its limits, as anti-social and destructive; an effective counter-narrative to the libertarian ideal of the individual unfettered by societal constraints. We badly need a counter-narrative to regain some kind of political leverage for ordinary citizens.
If anyone would like to help pull that together in the form of a paper, please reply, on-line or off-.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 12:13 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
I certainly hope so, David, or at least, I hope to read and participate in acting out the opening chapter of that narrative.
I do think that the "99%/1%" narrative was a project doomed to failure however, as it conceived of itself as a linear expansion which would somehow bypass social and ideological differences. It did not conceive of itselfr as a project at all. Just a mesage about the one true world which everyone had to come to. Truly magical realism. The plot lies implicit in the opening chapter, but it is always far from easy to see how the plot will unfold itself though the multiple story-lines entailed in this conundrum, Andy
David H Kirshner wrote:
> The operative narrative, at least in the U.S. context, dictated by Ayn Rand, is that the ultra-wealthy are the engines of advancement and prosperity and the saviors of society. What is in their best interest is in all of our best interests. We very badly need a counter-narrative.
> Andy, is this practical project something that can be undertaken and completed in real-time as a theoretical project?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
> Sent: Monday, January 20, 2014 11:06 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
> David I have plenty of experience with desparate measures over teh
> 50 years, and I have come very late to "the broader theoretical project." It is absolutely essential that the practical project and the theoretical project are one and the same.
> *Andy Blunden*
> David H Kirshner wrote:
>> Sometimes, in order to create a counter-narrative that can be effective in the here and now, one has to step outside of the broader theoretical project. I guess, for some, this would constitute a distraction from the real work, perhaps a violation of the true mission of that scholarly endeavor. For others, it might be a legitimate (even if imperfect) effort to apply what one has come to understand from the larger project. For others, still, perhaps simply a political activity undertaken with theoretical tools, but with little actual relation to the theoretical project.
>> Perhaps these are desperate measures that these desperate times call for.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
>> Sent: Monday, January 20, 2014 10:29 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Working for the Few | Oxfam International
>> Well, that's the project I have been collaborating in since I was a teenager, David, but it has its challenges, too, you know.
>> First off, these observations about social psychology and well-being:
>> The point is to have a unit of analysis and one which is as valid for making observations about psychology as it is for social theory. And in general, this is lacking for what goes by the name of "social psychology." People do not of course govern their behaviour by evidence-based investigations of the likely results of their behaviour.
>> People don't set out to "grow a bigger economy" or "have more wealth than someone else". The thinking of an individual has to be understood (I would contend) within the contexts of the projects to which they are committed. That is the reason for the relativity in the enjoyment of wealth (which is itself of course relative). People make judgments according to the norms of the project in which they are participating, and that means semantic, theoretical and practical norms. Understanding the psychology of political economy is as of one task with that of building a project to overthrow the existing political economic arrangements and build sustainable arrangements. That requires a multitude of projects all willikng and able to collaborate with one another.
>> That's what I think.
>> *Andy Blunden*
>> David H Kirshner wrote:
>>> I've been sketching out in my mind, but not yet had time to research and write, a paper tentatively titled:
>>> The Psychology of Greed: Why the Ultra-wealthy are Despoiling the
>>> Planet, Tanking the Economy, and Gutting our Culture In the Quest
>>> for More
>>> The premise is that the psychological metric of our sense of material well-being is not accumulation, relative to our own past wealth, but the comparative measure of our own wealth in relation to that of others. (I believe this is a well-established principle of social psychology.) So, for example, instead of trying to grow a bigger economy which requires a large and healthy middle-class (this is what would provide more actual wealth for the ultra-wealthy), they are eroding the middle-class as quickly as they can--a strategy that maximizes disparity.
>>> The major thesis (in the U.S. context) is that the gradual shift in political control of the economy over the past 50 years by the ultra-wealthy has reached a kind of tipping point in which the gains in disparity are so dramatic as to overwhelm any sense of actual self-interest. Hence, we see increasingly irrational and self-destructive behavior by the ultra-wealthy (e.g., the fraudulent housing bubble that created what U.S. economists refer to as The Great Recession). The conclusion, of course, is a call to action to take back control of our political systems so we can set more rational policies for the economy.
>>> I don't know if this thesis extends so easily beyond the U.S. situation to the world, but if this project appeals, I would welcome a collaborative effort--perhaps even one that somehow encompasses the whole XMCA listserv as co-authors.