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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Zizek’s Nose or Need for Borders

Slavoj Zizek touches his nose exactly 365 times during this 76 minute lecture. Once for each day of the year. I discovered it totally accidentally. Is he so boring that I am so easily distracted? Still it was gripping; from a psychological point of view he has a point, claiming that people in our globalised world might be needing more borders and boundaries, in stead of less. He makes the argument at nose-touch 188. The title of the video work: Distraction 188 (Sven Jense, 2011).

Touching the nose is a classic gesture of untruth, or hiding. And it’s never a bad idea to distrust a self-acclaimed communist. Turning towards his latest book though, Living in the End Times (Zizek, 2011), it makes more sense.

And wouldn’t you think that the nationalistic movements in many Western-European countries can be related to open borders and resulting feelings of insecurity? In terms of job-insecurity, these feelings are not at all unjustified.

This is why we argue for a healthy and partially closed nation state as basis for national governance and international cooperation; vision 10 of our Declaration of Human Direction.

Understanding Finance and Economy

Chris Martenson

Economy is complex. A basic understanding of the big picture in crisis times is found with Chris Martenson. Chris, a somewhat peculiar but original and profound thinker, constructed a crash course explaining core concepts like money, rent, banking and resource depletion. Somewhat debatable, cataclysmic and US-centred but highly insightful.

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Why resource depletion shows financially

Chris Martenson argues that cheap energy and other natural resources are depleting, which means they cost increasingly more energy to subtract. The financial system, whose collapse is so visible in the media, mainly reacts by showing higher prices and unsustainable debt.

This short video – although grossly simplified – shows the lines of the argument quite well.


How the World developed Inequally

Eurasia only land mass with comparable climate. Source:

It’s Geography, stupid! The world developed in an inequal way mainly because of the way the landmasses are laid out. No decisive cultural differences, no genetically better races. Jared Diamond compellingly argues how it’s geography, because large landmasses with comparable climates result in more diverse species over time – and thus more species usefull to support human life. Like what? Like wheat and horses.

This gave Western peoples advantages like guns, germs and steel. PBC made a documentary series based on the book by that title. Watch it here. Brilliant.

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Food – the Ultimate Resource?

Food. The ultimate crucial resource. It’s production is highly dependent on the availability of ecosystems services like water, clean air, biodiversity and a suitable climate. Food scarcity means hunger, too much hunger means people die.

Lester Brown compellingly makes this point, by showing that civilizations have a tendency to collapse when running low on food, and food production is dependent on the natural ecosystems we live in. The following (Matt Damon narrated) documentary sums up his position.

(Watch clips on youtube)

Jared Diamond in his 2005 book Collapse also analyses how population growth and their impact on the environment is worsening ten fundamental and interrelated areas of resource depletion:[1]

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  1. [1]Diamond 2005: 486-500

Why Ideology Matters

Allan Greenspan has been the chairman of the American Federal Reserve Bank for almost twenty years (until Ben Bernanke took over in 2006). One of the most influential people in the American financial and political world. After hanging after Ayn Rand for decades, the 2008 crisis made him severely adjust his ideology. His underlying idea of how the world works changed.

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Global Crises Dashboard

On these pages data and statistics related to converging global crises are collected.

Trends and Numbers

Crude oil price:

Brent Crude Oil Spot Price  Chart

Brent Crude Oil Spot Price Chart by YCharts

Oil production per capita:

Financial crisis 2008 damage in context:

Food price index:

Gold price:

CO2 levels:

Atmospheric CO2 data and trend

Average global temperature:

Deaths from nuclear power versus other energy sources:


Rumsfeldian Epistemology and the Black Swan

What can we know? Let’s look at a well-known position of a well-known practical philosoper.

Donald Rumsfeld, when talking about the probability of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, only left out one category: the category of unknown knowns; those relate to either denial or lies. In the case of Rumsfeld you may have your own opinion.

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Collateral Damage – Zygmunt Bauman (2011)

The unpredictable have advantage over the insecure.

Managers – those in power – nowadays speak not of duty but of “‘cultures’ and ‘networks’, ‘teams’ and ‘coalitions’ – and of ‘influences’ rather than of control”, Bauman argues (p. 47). It seems slightly Marxist to look at this managerial newspeak through the lenses of power; it decreases security for those managed. Bauman ultimately argues that those in power profit from depicting the world as complex and ambiguous.

Notes from Lux/NCRV programme:

Then: world lived longer than you did

Now: you perhaps live longer than the world (incl. social exclusion)

-> Liquid Fear

Security is reduced to Safety by governments

Safety = social semi-security

Strangers are everywhere; large cities, open borders. How to live with strangers? Skills needed

BUT safety-focus leads to gated communities etc -> decreases skills for dealing with strangers

Irena Bauman; move back to localism -> more trust.

Power nationstate vanished; how to get it back?