Sunday, 12 June 2011

Charity or how to oil a failing system



A common denominator to all ideas I present, since the beginning of this blog, are based on ideologies and beliefs for a better world. What I get as an answer from people not reading me is that it is an ideal and could never become truth. It is an answer which frustrates me for its veiled imbecility. I am aware that most people who take that stance do think of themselves as stupid, and most of them are not stupid but they still have some form of blindness to the world as it is now. I had different ideas for this article during the week and I think I will start with a little theoretical outline to my ( mine and those who share my side) ideological war.

GK Chesterton wrote a beautiful book forgotten by a country refusing to self-reflect on itself. This great writer imagined England a century after he was writing his book. He makes fun of the prophets of his time who accentuated a process happening at the beginning of bureaucracy ( bureaucracy, capitalism, nationalism,…) and states the truths that happened in reality: nothing happened. Why nothing has happened now is the good question to which I discover Chesterton provided a great answer. People are afraid of change and find it ridiculous.

What I find ridiculous is our system as it is. The cynics walking the earth thinking that they know everything because they 'know' that human nature will always end up screwing up ideals like democracy are just intelligent weak men blind of the unintended consequences of their 'cool' perspectives. Saying that they know that it is bad and not wanting to work for the better is just giving power to the strong of the world. Worst than that, it is also the excuse for not abiding to an ideal they could hold. Why do people steal or try to cheat the system ? It is not because they think it is right to do so, but just that they 'know' that everybody else do it, and even if they do not, the people or institution from which they steal is seen as imperfect anyway so deserve such a fate.

This is how we blind ourselves from a better life for all humanity. Our system is based on a belief that it is the least worst we can do. If this was the satisfaction of all of humanity at this moment in time, I would be very lonely indeed. It is true that the cynics are people providing criticism, not matter how nonconstructive they are, they provide a good step for a better world, even if they are so bitter about our system that they don't see that potential in them ( and in all of us ).

I had though a real confrontation with cynics because abandoning any ideals except that the system cannot be changed was their legitimation for what I think is the real stone unto which our system sustains itself: charity. I said it, I think that there is nothing more wrong in our world than charity. Charity is the only thing that provide the sustainability of our system and is the enemy that no one want to see. Cynics say that the system is fucked up anyway so it is all the better that something at least is done. I say that the something that is done to oil the system is what let the system run its way without feeling it needs change.

I consider charity any institutions or people that states doing something good for humanity, funded by private donations. Any church, Ikea, Eton are the first charity organizations that should be mentionned as they provide the loophole in tax payments for the owners of the mean of production ( so the people with most money and can change things effectively). Instead of distributing part of their wealth to the people through the governments, they pay a little bit of money to their own organizations, or to organizations protecting their privileges. They keep material inequality and chances in life unequals by helping themselves instead of the general public.

The second violence that charity does is a moral one. It is symbolic violence at its best. What is meant behind charity is: 'the system is fucked up but cheer up chap because even though I am in a better position than you I still give you my bread crumbs so you know how it tastes like. You'll never have the bread though, get used to it because I am .' It should never be looked at as something good. Most charities are otherwise bureaucracy-based institutions dependent on the misery of the system. We do not see we have to change the system because we have big bureaucracies putting band-aid unto the failures of the system. This is the project of the Big Society of the conservative party.

I think that we have mixed-up charity and generosity at some point. Charity is the form of donations to repair a wrong, generosity is the small sacrifices given to someone we know and value. Basic human rights like education, health and needs should be provided equally to all human beings, those are essential rights and we forget way too often that they are not given to most of the world and we lucky who have internet access shouldn't consider ourselves the first victims of the system.

There are enough resources in the world and if we wouldn't account for the constant excess build by the system. Whether dependent on production or consumption, we have to realize that it is also an illusion that everybody has to work. There is no point in over-producing blindly as we do except to keep constantly inequalities, between companies, countries, localities and people. As much as working is an important way to make a sense to life, it is important to revalue work as something someone can have some pride in producing and not something to pay back a debt. Money works as an incentive only for repetitive manual work. The trick is that some people are passionate about building some automaton that can replace the repetitive manual work needed to provide us for our needs.

Whatever we want should be the creation of an individual we know or we have heard off. Of course inequalities could still exist for someone could be appreciated for having put more hours of work and showing an understanding of the history of their work within humanities' history. This is a question of status and how to ensure that status are not abused is another question. Status though shouldn't be about material property and even less being an apparent generosity towards anyone with the crumbles of their property. I also think that except reimbursement for the cost for art pieces, art should be free but this is probably another debate.

There, that's why I like to talk about the system and how to change it and what not to accept blindly. Nothing, and that's so far an impossibility, should be taken for granted, but constantly reflected. This is the promise humanity should hold for itself and shouldn't forget. If we forget that promise, we accept the status quo and the compromises. The stronger will always compromise in an astute way to always indirectly gain out of it.

I had a great conversation about the legitimization of inequalities with L. , an active intellectual that I have the chance to know. He has observed that the United Kingdom has a history of protest, called collective bargaining. People use to have an aversion to police and even police thought protesting was a universal right. The problem is that even with such freedom, protests wouldn't change anything except for slight compromises. Whenever a protest became too important, then a few processes have been created to dissuade people.
First of all we can observe that the 'arab awakening' received a better publicity in every media than any protests in Europe, and the media had also the guts to associate these revolutions with the western-set-of-mind by shouting:'It's because of the social networks!'. Try have a revolution in front of your computer....

Then police provocations, or undercover police acting as agent provocateurs help giving a bad publicity to any protests. Bristol had a demonstration created by the policemen who came with big shields for no reason in a neighborhood known for its anarchist inclinations. We do not need to look further to understand that something is wrong when preventive strikes happen at home ! We have protested against Irak and now we are the one paying for having a precedent for preventive strikes anywhere. I call back for a clear Human Right ideology, someone please tell me why not !?

And for the cynics, I will finish with GK Chesterton and ' The Napoleon of Notting Hill' who saw in 1904 the horrible truth of our times:

“ The people had absolutely lost faith in revolutions. All revolutions are doctrinal – such as the French one, or the one that introduced Christianity. For it stands to common sense that you cannot upset all existing things, customs and compromises, unless you believe in something outside them, lost all belief in this. It believed in a thing called Evolution. And it said,'All theoretic changes have ended in blood and ennui. If we change, we must change slowly and safely, as the animals do. Nature's revolutions are the only successful ones. There has been no conservative reaction in favour of tails.'” 

And I know there are some people who believe like me that change can be good. By now I must sound like a preacher more than anything else, but I do not accept that humanity has doomed itself. It is also my believed that just accepting status quo and abandoning hope is like being swiss and looking at the NAZI invasions in 1940 and say: 'Well, what can we do but watch'.
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