“It is absurdity rather than hyperreality that defines our era — the defining problem of the 21st century isn't that the false is presented as the true; after all, one can always unmask falsehood and reveal the truth.
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A YouGov poll showed that the number of respondents placing the environment among their top three issues of concern rose from 6% in mid-January to 23% in mid-February. By early April — though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had just published two massive and horrifying reports — the proportion had fallen back to 11%.
Slightly more than ten years ago, in the heat of the moment, the West believed a war on terrorism was useful - so, it was prepared to give up civil liberties. Then the crisis hit in 2008. The banks unjustly demanded a bailout and the West passively went along. Today, again, the West in general passively believes the narrative of its secret services in favor of state control. What’s wrong with us? Why do we give up our liberties so easily? And how can we avoid this trend toward authoritarianism?
According to Chomsky, the creation of the American consumer actually pits citizens against each other, encouraging each person to compete for the best iPhones, techno-gadget and high-end splurges and discouraging them from joining together to meet their needs communally. The end result, he demands, drives “the population to irrational consumption, which does separate them from one another.”
Fifty years ago this month, Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram published a groundbreaking article describing a unique human behavior experiment. The study and its many variations, while ethically controversial, gave us new insight into human tendencies to obey authority, surprising the experts and everyone else on just how susceptible we are to doing the bidding of others. The original experiment revealed that a majority of participants would dutifully administer increasingly severe electric shocks to strangers - up to and including potentially lethal doses - because an authority told them that pulling the levers was necessary and required (the "shocks," subjects found out later, were fake). People who obeyed all the way to the end did so even as they experienced tremendous moral conflict. Despite their distress, they never questioned the basic premise of the situation that was fed to them: the institution needed their compliance for the betterment of the common good.
Curated by jean lievens
Economist, specialized in political economy and peer-to-peer dynamics; core member of the P2P Foundation
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on money and what it is
From the Great White Way to the West-End and beyond
on peer-to-peer dynamics in the field of politics, economics and institutions
Not TINA (There Is No Alternative) but TAPAS: THERE ARE PLENTY OF ALTERNATIVES