Friday, February 25, 2011

the limits to personal wealth

I just posted this on Twatter:
What's the most wealth any individual should be allowed to accumulate? I can't imagine any ethical purpose for more than ~$50 million.

I really can't. I consider the relentless accumulation of wealth by the mega-rich to be inherently sociopathic. Its inhuman. I mean, where's the humanity in accumulating bigger yachts, more houses and flash cars- not to mention considerably more power? Its inherently undemocratic because of the power obscene wealth can buy. Its unequal for obvious reasons. Its antisocial because the abuse of power inevitably harms broader society. 

Lets not fuck around here. If you, dear reader, or I had $50 mil in the bank then we'd certainly be enjoying the good life but would we just jack in the day job and sit on our arses growing fat and doing too many drugs? I would have no aspirations to invest that money offshore with the intention of doubling it in a couple of years. My personal conviction is that speculation itself is fundamentally sociopathic. Wealth should be earned, not effortlessly harvested. We all have a responsibility to earn a living by contributing productively  to society. Living off interest earned on a fortune, whether that fortune itself was earned, inherited or won on the lottery, is personal stagnation and should be viewed with contempt. It lessens

However, personal development can only be so rewarding and so I have argued myself in a circle because I suddenly find myself subconsciously empathising with those who feel they have a contribution to make to society; an course of action open to them to change things for the better. The problem, of course is that people are notoriously fickle, not to say delusional! I would happily rule the world, laying waste to inequality and injustice and labouring tirelessly to construct an earthly utopia but I imagine the Daily Mail readership, finding themselves living in such a world, would find it repugnant for its absence of petty malice and prejudice and would join together into some sort of vitriolic resistance movement to overthrow my enlightened rule and reestablish the cancer-curing plutocracy.

This post started out with such a grand vision but, as with so many of mine, has deteriorated into introspection, navel gazing and tail-chasing. So, if you ignore the last couple of paragraphs, do you agree with my initial proposal and if not, why not?


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rule Britannia - Teenage Riot


Monday, February 14, 2011

Dan Hind is super-awesome, calls for Direct Democracy in media content generation


Apologies for the extended absence. I have been securing employment, surfing and spearfishing. Hard life, innit. 

I've come across Dan Hind a couple of times before but his opinion article for Al Jazeera contains a familiar concept for regular followers of punkscience. The odd thing is that someone so clearly switched-on and perceptive as Hind can propose the application of such a concept in such a limited fashion. Direct democracy, if you're not familiar with the term, is the idea that all legislative decisions should be open to participation by the entire electorate, instead of solely by representatives elected by some semi-representative process. Sci-fi fans might be familiar with the Demarchist society of the Yellowstone Glitter Band created by Alistair Reynolds in his Revelation Space Novels, where citizens carry implants which convey their personal positions on all matters automatically to a central processing system which arranges policies accordingly (it should be pointed out that demarchy, or democratic anarchy, differs conceptually from direct democracy and the demarchist label is misapplied by Reynolds).

Back to Dan Hind, I say its "odd" that he fails to perceive the relevance of direct democracy beyond mere agenda setting for the media, but that's just another example of how institutional thinking blinds people to the wider implications of their thinking. A problem that is endemic throughout our society. Hind even alludes to the importance of DD for broader society himself:

"Given the constitutional significance of the media - the fact that democracy itself depends on adequate information – we need nothing short of a constitutional change in the way we gather and disseminate that information."
So, we need a change in the way information is gathered and disseminated, but not in the profoundly undemocratic system in which it is applied in the UK and other countries? See? odd. Its like the self-censorship that Hind criticises is manifested in his own thinking. I, of course, being something of an arrogant bastard, am quite happy to let my words trample across other people's intellectual turf.