Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


2nd thoughts

Connecting the Unconnectable

Pompidou Centre Connections

Pompidou Centre Connections

I began the day with a not whol­ly orig­i­nal post on the dis­so­lu­tion of French iden­ti­ty, this time slant­ed toward the destruc­tion of their revered fine food cul­ture. Let’s face it, the French have been decry­ing the dis­so­lu­tion of their cul­ture (and by exten­sion all the rest of Western cul­ture) due to American insan­i­ty pret­ty much since de Tocqueville. That said, the Reuters entry is a thought­ful and well writ­ten look at the way 21st cen­tu­ry cor­po­rate, man­ic-con­sump­tion cul­ture destroys the very thing it claims to hold out in offer to its sub­jects: name­ly, the good life.

This after­noon I fol­lowed a friend’s FaceBook link to Howard Kunstler’s offer­ing of the day. A rant no doubt, but one worth the 3 minute read. It does feel like the world (and par­tic­u­lar­ly the US) is going down the tubes fast (eco­nom­ic recov­er­ies with­out job or real val­ue cre­ation, cli­mate change, cost­ly ‘wars’ on a vari­ety of des­ig­nat­ed UN crim­i­nals), but it seems that Kunstler holds out rev­o­lu­tion as the only hope in the face of a rather bleak set of alter­na­tives.

So, two posts with few sur­pris­es, but Kunstler made me think of the Reuters piece. It seems to me that they’re talk­ing about a sin­gle cri­sis with many var­ied symp­toms. Sadly, the cri­sis does cen­ter here in the United States and more specif­i­cal­ly in our phi­los­o­phy of unre­strained indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty.

The Reuters reporter laments the dis­ap­pear­ance of time when fam­i­lies stopped work­ing — stopped every­thing — in order to choose the very best foods, pre­pare them very well, and sit togeth­er over a long and rich meal. Yes, the nobil­i­ty of France took this to insane extremes, but every­one did it, because the inter­per­son­al con­nec­tions to be reaf­firmed at table each day were at least as impor­tant as any indi­vid­ual pur­suits. That is dis­ap­pear­ing in France, because their entire econ­o­my (our econ­o­my) puts val­ue on mon­ey over time, the indi­vid­ual over the com­mu­ni­ty.

Kunstler fin­gers the same prob­lem with the recent invest­ment bank bonus­es. The bankers sim­ply can­not see what could be worth more than the time they’ve spent manip­u­lat­ing mon­ey, secu­ri­ties, bonds, and their mar­kets to appear valu­able. What com­mu­ni­ty could be worth fore­go­ing a mil­lion dol­lar bonus? Why should destruc­tion of a fac­to­ry, jobs, a town, or even a plan­et be includ­ed as a neg­a­tive in the bal­ance sheet as long as you, the banker, can avoid harm and gain prof­it?

I don’t pro­fess to know the answer. I don’t think it’s some big Communist give away or bomb­ing Wall Street, but it might start with the wankers there putting their Ivy League heads togeth­er to under­stand the true costs of ignor­ing the val­ue of com­mu­nal respon­si­bil­i­ty in favor of unbri­dled indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty.

Am I mak­ing any sense here?

2 Responses to “Connecting the Unconnectable”

  1. carl sagan » October 19th, 2009

    in the words of song titles of the Talking Heads, ‘stop mak­ing sense’ and ‘don’t wor­ry about the gov­ern­ment’. the best we can hope for is that no one drops the Bomb. as long as human­i­ty pos­sess­es the pow­er to destroy itself, it’s not a ques­tion of if, but when.

    whether you’re argu­ing for the pow­er of the indi­vid­ual or the wealth of com­mu­ni­ty, we’re all drink­ing from a poi­soned well — air unfit to breathe, water so filthy it needs to be san­i­tized with chem­i­cals, eco-col­lapse for con­do devel­op­ment — an entire Earth mis­un­der­stood, resources allo­cat­ed to per­pet­u­al destruc­tion rather than birth and growth.

    when the Bomb does drop, it will have been com­plete­ly avoid­able.

  2. dandam » October 20th, 2009

    Bleak Carl. Bleak.