Comments

  • The Shoutbox
    I found out that it is better that people don't know that you are smart ... It is better that they think you an idiot.Agustino

    I think you should start making an exception for us folks on TPF.
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    So what's your stance here? That we are not emotionally manipulated in ways that are not good for us? Because if it's just that we are not "mere puppets", I'm sure we all agree.Baden

    I'm not sure I have a stance on that, though I feel like I want to question your statement. I was talking about ideology, or about the changes in political ideas that I believe importantly frame these debates, rather than directly addressing the OP or your own points. Thus many of the positions that I imputed to my opponents might be exaggerations or simplifications that don't accurately represent the positions to be found in this discussion. Still, I thought my post was kind of relevant. It's what I'm interested in, at least.
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    I have great distaste for this frolicking over material conditions.Agustino

    I know, and I'm not interested.
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    Where that's done well, a movie can work and be a healthy engagement. It rarely is. Maybe Cronenberg.Baden

    Much as I like his movies, "healthy" is not a word that springs immediately to mind.
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    Like csal, I'm a bit suspicious of all this anti-consumerist talk. I'm going to ramble on and see what happens. I'm not sure how relevant it'll be.

    ...Marxist conspiracy theorist who hates business...Baden

    Talking of Marx, let's see what he said. For him, the multiplication of needs is a saving grace of capitalism:

    Each capitalist does demand that his workers should save, but only his own, because they stand towards him as workers; but by no means the remaining world of workers, for these stand towards him as consumers. In spite of all ‘pious’ speeches he therefore searches for means to spur them on to consumption, to give his wares new charms, to inspire them with new needs by constant chatter etc.It is precisely this side of the relation of capital and labour which is an essential civilizing moment, and on which the historic justification, but also the contemporary power of capital rests. — Marx, Grundrisse

    Also for Marx, the concept of artificial need is a bourgeois fiction:

    Artificial need is what the economist calls, firstly, the needs which arise out of the social existence of the individual; secondly those which do not flow from his naked existence as a natural object. This shows the inner, desperate poverty which forms the basis of bourgeois wealth and of its science. — Marx

    But since the seventies the critique of capitalism has taken on a different flavour, so that affluence and economic growth have become the target as much as poverty and scarcity used to be. You know how the story goes: advertising, Hollywood, and the Superbowl turn us from citizens or political agents into mere consumers, diverted from worthy activities and political struggle by pointless products and entertainments, which leave us always dissatisfied, when we could be satisfied with what we've got (materially).

    So is there a justification for this change in the Leftist position? The traumatized Marxism of the Frankfurt School and the New Left is probably key here, but I don't want to go into that myself. Generally speaking, maybe we can just accept that while Marx wrote in a time of the immiseration of the industrial working class, today's Left operates in a time of abundance, notwithstanding the widening inequality of the last few decades. And whereas Marx optimistically imagined new needs as culturally enriching, today's consumerism is criticized as a cultural impoverishment.

    To the tune of Micheal Jackson's Smooth Criminal:

    Woke up this morning, need my paper, gonna jump in my car,
    Down the shops on the corner, gonna drive there, I know it's not far,
    My house is always heated, got no jumpers, I left all my lights on,
    Dishwashers running, and so's the dryer, all my stuffs on standby,

    Annie are you walking, Annie are you walking, No I'm driving baby x 4
    Annie are you walking, won't you tell us that your walking?
    Can't you see me through the window that I'm driving, that I'm driving my car
    Won't you think about walking to the shops, or down your local?
    Are you all crazy, I've got an off-road, I can drive anywhere!
    Annie are you walking, Annie are you walking, No I'm driving baby x 3
    You've been hit by, you've been struck by a climate criminal!

    I never buy local, all my stuff comes from places real far,
    I never recycle, I go on cheap flights, been on 20 so far,


    Go to Chorus
    — Bristol anti-consumerist carol singers

    https://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/node/736

    Although this is environmentally focused, I think we can agree that this attitude is a big part of current Leftist thinking too (Naomi Klein, anti-globalization, etc).

    Let's take the example of cheap flights, mentioned in the song. "Cheap flights", at least in the UK, is middle-class code for loutish working-class lads and lassies heading to the Costa del Sol to get drunk and have a lot of sex. But this is a stereotype. In Marx's time my forebears were poor uneducated rural labourers, and maybe some of them were recent arrivals in the cities, where they went to find work (it's mostly the upper class that can trace their ancestry with any certainty, so I can't be sure). It's unlikely they ever set foot outside Britain and Ireland. But here I am now in sunny Spain, having been to several countries in several continents, writing about politics and philosophy even though I haven't studied them in a university. I would never have been able to travel without cheap flights, and I would never have been able to read Kant without leisure. I'm pretty sure this is a cultural as well as a material enrichment, and it was made possible by capitalism.

    What is the limit beyond which we should not have gone? When is abundance too much? At what point is the creation of new needs corrupting? Is an anti-consumerist going to say that while, okay, washing machines, despite being an artificial or false need, may have been genuinely liberating, iPhones, imported foreign food, cheap travel, and off-road cars are not? How do you separate the good from the bad here? Is it more than a matter of taste? Or is a washing machine a basic need, while an off-road car is a false one? How does that work? Who decides which is which?

    I admit this is impressionistic and emotional, but--something about it just stinks. The critique of consumer culture and the influence of corporations appears to be often motivated by a contempt for the masses, or at least a superior paternalism, not to mention a snobbish distaste. (And it's pretty mainstream. Baden mentioned Hollywood and how much he hates it. But Hollywood is full of anti-corporate sentiment, and is now firmly seated on the green anti-consumerist bandwagon.)

    There is a simplistic sanctimoniousness in the suggestion that we are mere puppets of the advertisers, and for me it's reminiscent of my heritage of Presbyterian sobriety. But come to think of it, this kind of Protestant puritanism is actually a real thread in the development of radical thought, from the English Revolution onwards, so maybe it's not quite true to describe anti-consumerism as a regrettable reversal--it's been in the Left the whole time. It's just that this is not the Leftist tradition that I have sympathy with. It hates capitalism for the good it has done, not only the bad.

    But wait. Did I just hypocritically denounce Leftist snobbery after having held myself up as an exemplar of the culturally enriched in contrast to the loutish working-class lads and lassies on the Costa del Sol? Not quite, I don't think. I've been on holidays like that myself. That's the point about stereotypes and caricatures: they are unfair generalizations. Thanks to cheap flights, people--non-rich people--travel now for all sorts of reasons.
  • Currently Reading
    The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr together with a fragmentary Biography of Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler on Random Sheets of Waste Paper by E. T. A. Hoffmann
  • All Talk No Action
    Hi Rachel and welcome to TPF.

    I don't have any links to the relevant studies, but there is evidence in psychology suggesting that stating publicly what you're going to do makes it less likely that you will do it, and also that positive thinking doesn't work, at least for some people. Your friend could be making things hard for himself.

    Aside from that, if your friend's social media posts are anything like the ones I see on Facebook, then there isn't anything very philosophical in them, even if he includes quotations from famous philosophers. It sounds like your friend might be uncritical of himself and dismissive of the criticism of others. This is very unphilosophical.

    I like to be realistic, so I would agree with you that the steps towards a goal don't just magically transpire without a lot of work. I find positivity of the kind you describe humourless and dishonest, and that has brought me into conflict with people like your friend. It's not much to do with philosophy--more to do with the fashions of self-help, the law of attraction and all that stuff.
  • Is sex as idolized elsewhere as in the West?
    Is sex as idolized elsewhere as in the West? I don't know about is, but it certainly was. The sculptures below are in India, on a temple built around 930-950 CE. I think there are many others like them.

    india-khajuraho-9.jpg
  • Is sex as idolized elsewhere as in the West?
    I noticed in the navigation bar that there was a response to one of my posts, and when I opened the mentions drop-down I saw it was from you, saying "Excellent post, I largely agree." I was deeply shocked for a moment, but then deeply relieved when I clicked through to the discussion to see that you had actually said it to someone else. :D
  • Is sex as idolized elsewhere as in the West?
    Sex is often a requirement in modern relationships because most people, in my experience at least, are in fact mortified at the thought of having true intimacy with someone because it means that they must expose the worst in them, which forces them to expose themselves to themselves, as well, often for the first time.Heister Eggcart

    You're saying that many people want to avoid intimacy, therefore sex is a requirement in modern relationships? Do you mean sexual or romantic relationships? I'm pretty sure that sex has been essential to a very large portion of human relationships for a very long time. And you assume, without any justification, that sex is not a part of being intimate with someone, but is rather a way of avoiding intimacy. As I think this goes against the experience of most people--certainly my own--I think you have to properly explain what you mean.

    I'm open to the idea that there might be a new and increasingly widespread way of relating to people sexually that excludes intimacy--a kind of relationship that we might call pornographical, both because it is primarily objectifying and also because pornography increasingly shapes our sexualities--but this is a long way from saying that sex per se is an avoidance of intimacy.

    This is one reason why successful marriages in the West have rapidly deteriorated because spouses realize too late that they do not know who really is next to them when they go to bed each night.

    This is simply not credible. Do you think that when divorce was taboo and women were subjected to the authority of the husband, "true intimacy" flourished? Do you think that when marriage was more openly and uncontroversially about property and status, couples really got to know each other? Do you not realize that it's only recently that romantic love has become the primary reason for getting married?

    Modern relationships have gone about creating a culture that overemphasizes the gruff physicality of the body, and therefore of sex, as being the foundation for the growth of a relationship between two people. No one gives a hot damn about virtue, only whether you like fleshy dicks or plastic dicks, if you like it in the butt, in the mouth, or in the nose, whether you like black hair over blonde hair, tan skin instead of pale skin - honesty, though? Attentiveness, understanding, compassion? Meh.

    This demonstrates prudishness and little else. You do realize that attentiveness, understanding, and compassion, along with gruff physicality, are often essential to good sex?
  • The Shoutbox
    I imagine it's about day and night. At night it's scary and bad things happen.
  • Hello!
    I'm not going to get into a detailed debate over it,Maw

    I personally wouldn't mind, but as you haven't made any clear or detailed criticisms except for the profile pics, preferring just to express your dislike, I guess that's that.
  • Hello!
    jamalrob, freerepublic.com is an example of great forum designMichael

    Yikes.
  • Hello!
    Totally forgot about Clients from Hell. I used to read it all the time. And don't get me wrong: I've had some horrible clients myself, and I have complained about them very vigorously. Part of the problem might be precisely the fact that we are not professionals in the strict sense that Agustino is using; some clients think it's okay to treat web designers and developers disrespectfully, in a way that they would probably not treat their lawyer.

    I hope not. I don't even have an IT GCSE.Michael

    Yes, it'll be back to school for most of us.
  • Hello!
    I saw enough evidence to suggest that Landru could never get tired of saying "conservative meme". He must be saying it somewhere else.
  • Hello!
    It's because it's a young profession, and maybe also because nobody (usually) dies or goes to jail if things go wrong. Some people think we should be moving to full professionalization, with a professional body and mandatory qualifications. Mature professions need the educational and regulatory paraphernalia to ensure those claiming to be a certain kind of professional can actually do the job.

    I want to agree with you, but what you're talking about is maybe just a different kind of professionalization anyway. To "demonstrate the capacity to do it" for the surgeon cannot just be a portfolio of past successful operations, because the next operation is the one that could expose the gaping hole in his knowledge.
  • Hello!
    Did some programming at university but mostly self-taught.
  • What are you listening to right now?
    Could be a mild case of it, I'm an audio engineer, but I was more referring to anechoic chambers where supposedly you can hear the sound of your nervous system because it's so quiet :-O may very well just be bullshit! I think I heard that in a music course in college...which doesn't mean it's not bullshit...Noble Dust

    I did wonder if that's what you meant, because I'd heard the story that John Cage tells about one of his inspirations for creating 4'33":

    "It was after I got to Boston that I went into the anechoic chamber at Harvard University. Anybody who knows me knows this story. I am constantly telling it. Anyway, in that silent room, I heard two sounds, one high and one low. Afterward I asked the engineer in charge why, if the room was so silent, I had heard two sounds. He said, 'Describe them.' I did. He said, 'The high one was your nervous system in operation. The low one was your blood in circulation.' "

    But according to others this is impossible, and he could have just been hearing tinnitus.