Friday, April 18, 2008

What has been lost? - II

"The current crisis is the culmination of a super-boom that has lasted for more than 60 years." George Soros - Financial Times
"So the moral, in a sense, is also a simple one: if someone offers you seemingly free money, in seemingly infinite quantities, with a soothing new name, you really ought to smell a rat." Gillian Tett - Financial Times
"The working class can kiss my Arse, I've got a MasterCard at last"
Revised parody of the British Labour Party hymn,"The Red Flag"

"Income inequality in the US is at its highest since that most doom-laden of years: 1929. Throughout the main English-speaking economies, earnings disparities have reached extremes not seen since the age of The Great Gatsby." John Plender - Financial Times
"The idea of the starving masses driven by their desperation to take to the streets and overthrow the ancien regime has seemed impossibly quaint since capitalism triumphed so decisively in the Cold War. Since then, the spectacle of hunger sparking revolutionary violence has been the stuff of Broadway musicals rather than the real world of politics." Tony Karon - Time Magazine"
David Seaton's News Links
Some things are pretty simple. The traditional left has practically disappeared because working people in developed countries are satisfied with the enormous prosperity of our society expressed in cheap food and abundant consumer goods. Having access to easy credit, they feel wealthy, they no longer look to their class for security and safety. They do not identify their fate with the fate of others.

The English express this as, "bugger you Jack, I'm all right" or "I'm alright Jack".

George Soros says that we are looking at the end of an era. That all the mass prosperity we have ever known was basically just a cosmic credit card binge. The cash machine has just spit our card out.

Perhaps this will lead to a rebirth of the left. For sure it will lead to the rise of the ultra-right because people will look for someone to blame. We can see this coming...

What to do?

Confucius said that the first thing to do was to "rectify names", that is to say, use correct terms.

Certainly the left needs its language retooled. Words get worn out, lose meaning. Think what words like, "awesome", "wonderful" and "amazing" originally meant and how little they mean anymore. Much of left wing discourse is similarly devalued: to speak it is to sound like the villain in a cold war spy drama. Think that the word "Proletariat" originally meant people who had a lot of prole or children and you'll see how stale language can get.

A new language of the left has to be created. This is not impossible. recently I came across an example of how something eons old could be expressed in new and different terms without missing its essence.

One of India's greatest spiritual teachers was Ramana Maharishi, a Hindu saint who died in 1950, he expounded the practice of self-inquiry as the path to liberation.

Many people who would benefit from the teachings of Ramana Maharishi might be put off by the
exotic Indian English or the obscure Sanskrit terminology normally used in describing it. A spiritually "ripe" suburban housewife might be put off by words like, "Satchidananda", and think she was being drawn into some satanic sect and would end up with a shaved head, beating a tambourine in an airport.

I was amazed to discover that none other than Oprah Winfrey's favorite guru, Eckhardt Tolle, had managed to do a very workmanlike job of conveying the core of of Ramana Maharishi's teachings, in everyday English, without bending them all out of shape.

Meanings have many verbal paths leading to them.

Tolle often repeats that words are only signposts pointing at the path and that one should not get too identified with the words in detriment to where they point. Therefore if a word like "God" is a help in spiritual practice use it, and if it is an obstacle, because of the baggage it carries, don't. I don't think Tolle ever uses words like "Atman" or "Advaita", he just sticks to the central idea.

He must be getting the message over because his book "The Power of Now" sells like hot bread.

Something similar desperately needs to be done with the language of progressive politics so that people who are seeking can get quickly to the truth without being repelled by culturally over-freighted verbiage. With what is lying ahead, a failure to do so would be tragic. DS

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