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Last week we reflected on whether people's penchant for doomsday predictions and tales of the living dead was connected to their common experience of life under capitalism. This week, given the absence of an apocalyptic Mayan doomsday event, we ask whether a conscious effort to reject such catastrophism is in order, and what a progressive future might look like.
Thanks to WeAreMany.org for the two longer audio clips that make up most of today's show.
Do painful and early deaths really await the bulk of mankind, whether due to zombies, Mayan Apocalypse, runaway global warming or whatever else? And why don't any of the heavily funded progressive organisations ever seem to make much in the way of fundamental change? A sequel to last week's how, we present some observations on human society and psychology this week, connected as is often the case on this show by a deep seated suspicion of the modern money system.
We start with "A Broken Body isn’t a Broken Person", an inspiring testimony by Janine Shephard, a former international level athlete who suffered life threatening injuries which left her crippled. She tells of her harrowing but ultimately successful steps towards rehabilitation on the spinal injuries ward, how she leart first to walk again, then to fly and then become a flying instructor herself. The lesson for all of us, she concludes is that we need to recognise our connections to one another: "if we are to move towards our collective bliss, it's time we shed our focus on the physical and instead embrace the virtues of the heart".
Next we hear Ian Angus, co-author of "Too Many People?" speaking this June at the Socialism2012 conference. His talk, "The Return of The Population Bombers", exaimnes the growing popularity of overpopulation in the environmental movement. He opines that the idea of overpopulation is simple, appealing but harmful as it deflects people's energy and attention away from the more serious issue of changing society. Noting that the original political agenda of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was deemed threatening by corporations who used their influence with the tax exempt charitable foundations to sideline the book in favor of their chosen replacement, Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb. Ehrlich's more alarmist and less socially aware text had none of the social critique - the word "corporation" appears nowhere in the text. Angus concludes that the capitalist system itself, not population size, is the root problem of today's ecological crises, so no amount of attention to population size can solve the planet's ecological woes: fundamental social change is essential.
In our second hour we hear a short talk by Tony Greenham from a TedX event in Leiden in 2012. He underes the fact that although it is a potent force in society, almost everyone seems deeply confused about the real nature of money. In spite of his economics education, accountancy training and banking experience, he says, he was never taught what money was or where it come from. Money is a social relationship, he argues, and so as long as we have creativity and trust within our communities then we can never run out of money.
Jason Farbman speaking at the Socialism2012 conference presents a nuanced analysis of the social function of NGO's, which explains why so many people find theur highest ambitions to change society through working for progressives are not realised. Why when so much money is given out by NGOs for progressive causes are they so ineffective at actually effecting social change? Farbman notes that tax exempt foundations work as effective tax shelters for rich capitalists' fortunes. Farman highlights a key difference that conservative, free-market backed NGOs tend to donate to those who establish an ideological framework, effectively justifying or normalizing capitalism, whereas progressive foundations tend to tackle symptoms and avoid framing the problems so as to exclude consideration of the broader social factors at work. He presents numerous examples which explain the apparent paradox of rich industrialists funding progressive causes which would appear to conflict with their own interests but which in practice moved society in directions compatible with the further development of capitalism. He concludes by contrasting the business practices of Micro$oft with the image (and the reality) of the Gates Foundation.