Becoming Socially Acceptable ?

Public lectures are scheduled for the 5th and the 12th December.

After last week’s special lecture to a group of PhD-students, looking at
the upcoming lectures are linking to the recent book “Bullshit Jobs – A Theory”. [1] So is it finally socially acceptable to use such term as Bullshit in academic parlance?
It surely is a catchy phrase, and it also is surely a topic that allows to think abut all the Kafkaesk patterns and requirements …But as glad as I am to take up on the catchiness and as much as I appreciate that Graeber is interested in a very specific point, namely
to understand the psychological, social, and political effects of the fact that so many of us labor under the secret belief that our jobs lack social utility or social value
I am wondering if it is not also a danger of distracting from rather complex issues, linked to more or less fundamental shifts in economic structures.
The honour to give the reputable Deans Lecture at the Faculty of Economics and Sociology in Łódź on the 12th of December provides the opportunity to look at

Bullshit Jobs? suggesting that the Problem is the Stable

The aim is to show that – leaving some general aspects of squander, disrespect and ignorance aside – the underlying problem is an ongoing shift of capitalist accumulation that requires the increasing segregation and fragmentation: The fact that use value and exchange value are juxtaposed results necessarily in the fact that human relationships are systematically torn apart: to relate humans to each other they first have to – speaking systematically – separated by the process of commodification. On the market of commodities they are becoming equal and can – then, ex post – relate to each other. Not least it means that the increasing mediatisation – indeed Graeber points out that most of the relevant jobs occur in IT-related sectors – is necessary condition for making society economically possible. However, it also means that content doesn’t count – as much as capital SEEMINGLY generates capital as much is the sole presence of people considered to be a job, even if it is

a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.

– this is Graeber’s definition.

For the week before, on the 5th of December, the sociology department of the Ostravská univerzita in the Czech Republic organised a special lecture, the title of which is
In addition to the Graeber-book another reference is the more or less recent auto-shredding of Bansky’s Painting “Girl With Balloon” – the latter again giving the opportunity discuss the problems of hegemony and counter-hegemony – the link is given by reflecting on a statement by Hannah Arendt. She contends that
(n)ot cruelty is the attribute of tyranny, but the destruction of the public political realm, monopolised by the despot by claiming ‘wisdom’ … or based on thirst for power, i.e. insisting on citizens looking after their private concerns, leaving it to him, the ‘ruler, to take of the public matters’.[2]
Surely something marking a demarcation we face – be it in the shopping centres or academic institutions or political space.
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[1] David Graeber, 2018: Bullshit Jobs – A Theory; New York et altera Simon&Schuster
[2] Arendt, Hannah, 1958: Vita Activa oder Vom Tätigen Leben; München/Zuerich: Piper, 1981, new edition: 215; translated from the German edition; with reference to Aristotle: Athenische Verfassung; XV, 5 – the available English edition did not contain the statement in this clarity.
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Annunci

Blurring Borders

The STOA Report on The Collaborative Economy informs that

[t]he founders of Defense Distributed are not terrorists. They are US based libertarians who support gun ownership, and found in 3D printing a means to allow ordinary people with no advanced skills to create and own a gun without having to obtain a license.
And the small print of the footnote adds:
• Under US law guns manufactured by individuals for personal use are not subject to a licensing requirement.
Of course, as a contribution on the website on 3DPrint assures
officials in every country see it as their responsibility to try and fight many new designs and new issues that someone like Wilson brings to the forefront, especially as threats of terrorism surface constantly
There is no doubt urgent need for such “protective policies” – I talked the other day to a friend who lives in a village near Brussels – she, a vivid and brave women, is afraid these days to go to Brussels, and she said many are. I do not even mention the fear of students, and their parents here in China.
There is something else that is possibly more remarkable than the technical side – and the side of the control of technology. The article from the mentioned 3DPrint-site talks about
[r]esponding to press questions regarding accessibility for terrorists with a ‘don’t really care’ attitude
and this is what “libertarians” of a certain kind do – they don’t care, to be more precise: they do care only for themselves, following one of their “great masterminds” who asked
who is society?
and replied:
There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.
Indeed, the(se) libertarians entered systematically the stage in the 17th century, in particular in England, the home land of the capitalism we have today. And it is the(se) libertarians whose activities evoke discussions, suggesting that
[i]t is not yet clear just how much this technology presents a real danger to the public
What is not clear? If we pose the question that technological advancement has to be applied to the advancement of private wealth, if we see the public as secondary, its wealth a result of
individual men and women and … families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.
to quote Thatcher again, then it is clear how much real danger there is: it is the danger of the past that as nightmare burdens our society – the nightmare of total and systematic individualism … – difficult to get back under control, as known for a very long time:
Sir, my need is sore.
Spirits that I’ve cited
My commands ignore.”To the lonely
Corner, broom!
Hear your doom.
As a spirit
When he wills, your master only
Calls you, then ‘tis time to hear it.”

And they are really not terrorists?