Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Capitalism's grave

This is just astonishing. Chomsky always is but this sets a high water mark even for him. I love his assertion that business elites are instinctive Marxists. The questions by Keane Bhatt are pretty damn good too.Mugshot of Charles Luciano at 1936,Italian-Ame...Image via Wikipedia

Reading it brought together a lot of ideas I've been playing with that I had hoped could create an interesting setting for a story. The setting would be a world in which all government is gone and everything is run by organised crime groups.

It'd be an interesting place to write about because much of what is cherishable about the modern age (equality, freedom of speech and movement, social mobility) would be gone. To be honest, I'm increasingly surprised that it has lasted as long as it has.

If a society is built around crime then the norms we are taught and which tell us to treat each other well, or do as we are done by, will have been ripped up. In that setting the social contract that defines civil society, like all verbal contracts, is not worth the paper it is written on.

Mind you, this suggests that not all will be doom and gloom in a crime-controlled civilisation. I wonder if the reverse will be true if the bad guys are in charge. A speakeasy might be a place you go to behave well, hear chamber music and recite poetry.

Bizarrely, my thinking about this was helped by a section of Don Winslow's The Winter of Frankie Machine in which Frankie rants about the differences between organised crime scams and the (legitimate) rackets that big business and politicians run. Frankie makes the point that there is no difference, except that the legitimate scammers tend to get away with it and only the chumps try organised crime.

Winslow's book also has a lot to say about Nixon's links with the mafia. Really? Kennedy, I knew about but Tricky Dick? Hmm.

For a long time though I've stumbled over how that society might come about. It seemed too much of a leap to just impose it. I needed some event or chain of circumstances that pointed in the right direction even if they did not lead me by the hand. The map not the territory.

The Chomsky interview suggests those circumstances might have already come about. Evidence for this is here (and you don't get much better witnesses than a former chief economist of the IMF) and in many of the posts here. No doubt I'll be getting Yves Smith's book as well.

I realise that all the information here plays to my white, liberal, middle-aged bias and there are other legitimate interpretations of recent events but I also realise that you need a place to stand if you want to view the territory.

I was loathe to post this as it strays a bit too close to the real world and actual events. As this blog is supposed to be about fiction that troubled me as I wanted to maintain that air gap between one and the other. What I'm starting to see more clearly than ever is how much of a fiction, fiction is. It's not fact, it's not fantasy, it's life.Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good reading

Another ace find. An actually useful list of the good bits on the web. I've seen a lot of this type of site and many lose focus after a while and neurotically link to everything that anyone has remotely liked. This looks much more discerning plus it chimes with my guilty white liberal POV.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Look and learn

Great feature about how data is changing the way some humanities scholars are approaching their subject. I love the section that mentions a project to trace how ideas spread by plotting the letters sent between eminent thinkers. Plenty of grist for lots of mills.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Card sharps

I have no idea why anyone would play poker online for real money and this story only serves to re-inforce my prejudice. Mind you it is a great glimpse into a very odd world.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Famous numbers

Great deconstruction of why the numbers on Number 10 look like that plus a history of how it has changed. Ace.

High flying

From the wtf dept - the US air force wants to use neural enhancers to make pilots smarter and cripple foes.