Tag: politics

what matters


It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life.

A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.

Salman Rushdie:

We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love.

*update* [02/04/2022]

John Ruskin:

To watch the corn grow, and the blossoms set; to draw hard breath over ploughshare or spade; to read, to think, to love, to hope, to pray — these are the things that make men happy; they have always had the power of doing these, they never will have the power to do more. The world’s prosperity or adversity depends upon our knowing and teaching these few things: but upon iron, or glass, or electricity, or steam, in no wise.

a single tribe, a new man

Marcelo Gleiser:

A tribe without enemies is, almost by definition, not a tribe. As a consequence, tribal dispute and warfare is part of what defines humanity..
..[however] things have changed a lot… the biggest enemy we have to fight against right now is our tribal past. What served us so well for thousands of years is now an obsolete concept. It’s no more about the survival of this tribe or that one, but about Homo sapiens as a species. … For the first time in our collective history, we must think of ourselves as a single tribe on a single planet. … We are a single tribe, the tribe of humans. And, as such, not a tribe at all.

I remember Taylor mentioned this “widening of the sphere of human loyalty” as present in all the world’s great religious traditions, and the emancipatory energy it gives the human spirit as  a key force in unfolding history.

The Kingdom that the faithful have prayed for for two millennia has—in an important sense then—come. This City of Man (now engulfing a Planet) will now share some of the same problems that the universal elements in the City of God has had?

But what does the development mean for the City of God, has its Kingdom come? Is Adam’s new unity (even if just ideological and for a handful of elites..) completely spurious when it comes to redemption, to moving past what being human use to mean, what it might be able to mean?

two dostoevsky quotes on man

From Notes from Underground:

Shower him with all earthly blessings, drown him in happiness completely, over his head, so that only bubbles pop up on the surface of happiness, as on water; give him such economic satisfaction that he no longer has anything left to do at all except sleep, eat gingerbread, and worry about the noncessation of world history — and it is here, just here, that he, this man, out of sheer ingratitude, out of sheer lampoonery, will do something nasty. He will even risk his gingerbread, and wish on purpose for the most pernicious nonsense, the most non-economical meaninglessness, solely in order to mix into all this positive good sense his own pernicious fantastical element. It is just his fantastic dreams, his vulgar folly that he will desire to retain, simply in order to prove to himself–as though that were so necessary—that men still are men and not the keys of a piano.

And on our drive to “live at our own sweet foolish will“:

Man really is stupid, phenomenally stupid. That is, he’s by no means stupid, but rather he’s so ungrateful that it would be hard to find the likes of him. I, for example, would not be the least bit surprised if suddenly, out of the blue, amid the universal future reasonableness, some gentleman of ignoble, or, better, of retrograde and jeering physiognomy, should emerge, set his arms akimbo, and say to us all: “Well, gentlemen, why don’t we reduce all this reasonableness to dust with one good kick, for the sole purpose of sending all these logarithms to the devil and living once more according to our own stupid will!”

Does this reality count as an ally, an obstacle, to the aspirations of Surveillance Capitalism, Technological Totalitarianism, the Metaverse?