Vaclav Havel’s Critique of the West

An interesting essay by Philip Howard.

Western governments, Havel said, are organized on a flawed premise not far removed from the Soviet system that had just collapsed. “The modern era has been dominated by the culminating belief,” he said, “that the world … is a wholly knowable system governed by finite number of universal laws that man can grasp and rationally direct … objectively describing, explaining, and controlling everything.”

These bureaucratic structures are profoundly dehumanizing, Havel believed, striving to control choices that should be left to human judgment and values. This “era of systems, institutions, mechanisms and statistical averages” is doomed to failure because “there is too much to know” and it cannot “be fully grasped.” The drive towards standardization is fatally flawed, Havel believed: “life is nonstandard.”

The heavy hand of centralized bureaucracy, Havel observed, makes everyone first powerless, then listless. “We have lost sense that there is a way out, lost the will to do anything,” he said. “The more we know about dangers like global warming, the less we seem able to deal with them.” These systems also marginalize community and leave people with a “fundamental sense of nonbelonging.”

Think of Havel’s statement:

“Politicians seem to have turned into puppets that only look human and move in a giant, rather inhuman theatre; they appear to have become merely cogs in a huge machine, objects of a major automatism of civilization which has gotten out of control and for which no one is responsible.”

Our Congressional politicians, and sadly our very well-meaning President, often look like puppets in an inhuman theatre.

Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable

Perhaps the real point is that, in the broad sweep of history, all current forms of capitalism are ultimately transitional. Modern-day capitalism has had an extraordinary run since the start of the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago, lifting billions of ordinary people out of abject poverty. Marxism and heavy-handed socialism have disastrous records by comparison. But, as industrialization and technological progress spread to Asia (and now to Africa), someday the struggle for subsistence will no longer be a primary imperative, and contemporary capitalism’s numerous flaws may loom larger.

First, even the leading capitalist economies have failed to price public goods such as clean air and water effectively. The failure of efforts to conclude a new global climate-change agreement is symptomatic of the paralysis.

An Interesting Article compliments of John Phipps’ Incoming Blog

Hydraulic Fracking and the Economy

For example, estimates of Pennsylvania job creation due to increased shale gas production since 2009 range from 44,000 to 72,000. In Bradford County, Pa., the 2009 unemployment rate of 10 percent has been halved because of Marcellus Shale gas development. New York’s economically depressed Southern Tier is also benefiting from gas field development in nearby Pennsylvania. Case in point: RB Robinson Contracting, Inc., a family construction business in Candor, N.Y., had eight full-time employees in 2009. Today, it provides full- and part-time work for 120 people.

The Weblog

Finance Now Exists For Its Own Exclusive Benefit

This article appears to be a sincere attempt, using Bank of America’s most recent financial statement, to 1) explain the financial mechanisms of current banking, and 2) analyze the risks.

Even with the author’s thoughtfulness, it becomes easily evident that current banking ‘mechanisms’ are based upon a language structure that is, at best, obscure. Reminds me of trying to read Sartre…and that is not a good thing.

The Article