30 Aug

When I was a young snotty undergraduate wanker my friends and I would wax on about something we called ‘politics’. Often this wasn’t politics but culture: eg the gear the Clash wore. We percieved this as ‘political’ because we regarded conventional dressers as the enemy. We never discussed the passing of actual laws much. Never contemplated the difficulty of drafting laws or the various interplay of interests that would effect and be effected by such legislation.

And we never never talked economics. Those interested in art often don’t. How often do you read, in histories of modern art, about the economic impact of the invention of chemical photography on the practice of artists. One thing seldom discussed in the history of painting is how modernist painting takes much less time and work than classical painting. You can pump it out, you can sell it cheap. You don’t go there.

One thing I’ve re-learned is that the ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ often amount to the political alliances of different kinds of people and minds. In Australia anyway right-wingers tend to be maths people, left-wingers word-and-image people. That’s a generalization but it seems it applies. Assuming its veracity it’s hardly surprising that the Left tend to advocate sociological arguments in favour of their polcies and the Right economic ones for their’s.

My idea of progress is to a world in which no-one is in authority over anyone else. I am a pragmatic anarchist so I know this world I speak of won’t materialize in my lifetime. So I do what I can to live without authority. To eliminate the need for it in my life. How? I work for myself. I don’t shit on other people (no cops) and if I do something against the law (which harms only me if anyone) I’m discreet. I also try my utmost to keep any information trail down to a minimum. Any database that has me on it should have a lot of blank spaces.

I try to assimilate various ideas and arguments without prejudice. In my opinion to assume that the ‘left’ is ‘virtuous’ and the ‘right’ is not, or vice versa is to play the boneheaded game the shadow-men of the world want you to. Don’t. It’s just another prison for your mind. Try and understand the facts. Make special effort getting used to those facts that are inconvenient to your worldview. The unpleasant ones. And understand where your reasoning ends and your feelings begin.

My feelings about economic matters began with Oscar Wilde: The Soul of Man Under Socialism is pure fantastic speculation but I still concord spiritually with the passage I quoted last Sunday. Our stuff finally limits us. It owns us. It stops you being the you you could be if only you didn’t spend every spare waking hour playing Doom III. All this scrambling by all these stupid monkeys to get more stuff is pure folly.

But an unpleasant fact, and faced by few who feel the way Oscar and I do – is that rights to private property are the foundation of a system which has managed to abate tyranny for centuries. Imperfect and not always working. Selective and prejudiced but fundamentally sound. It’s not ideal to me but it’s better than the People’s Republic of China where the government can take away whatever you have whenever it suits them.

We in the West forget that. We’ve forgotten it. And those of us who see something wrong in rampant mindless consumerism (as its called) take the liberty and prosperity on which rests this ability to consider the state of things for granted. Those of us who are appalled by the state of things in other parts of the world and the role of various agents from the West in perpetrating and profiting on’t seldom undertake any serious examination of the issues of economic development or geopolitical power. People who’re concerned about climate change are enthusiastic supporters of anyone who’ll do ‘something’ regardless of whether said something works, doesn’t work or is downright batshit. We assert rights that don’t exist and let those that do suffer the erosion of civil indifference.

Collecting Water

So to today’s question: do you have a right to water? It’s natural. It’s essential if you want to be alive three days from now but it requires an apparatus of pipes and pumps and reservoirs to deliver to the world’s cityscapes in which most humans now live. Someone has to design this stuff, build it, maintain it. Lots of work and the apparatus of State underwriting it. Should we give it over to the free market or should it continue to be subsidized by the State?

The way I feel is that water is natural and we have a right to get it without paying for it. But the fact I must confront is that the water I drink usually comes to me via the labours of strangers and that I live on a drying continent faced with climate change. And lurking behind all that is the corporate technocracy, public and private, that seeks to control everyone and everything. What is my opinion? I do not have enough data to form one. Yet.


2 Responses to “DO YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO WATER?”

  1. John H. September 23, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    One thing I’ve re-learned is that the ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ often amount to the political alliances of different kinds of people and minds. In Australia anyway right-wingers tend to be maths people, left-wingers word-and-image people.

    Yes, there is something interesting going on there but difficult to delineate. Various studies have addressed this association between cognitive styles, political leanings, and genetics. I just made a similiar comment on Catallaxy regarding biology and engineering cognitive styles.

    I’m not particularly interested in the social or political implications of this issue because I don’t care. Additionally I know there is no way to address this problem. It is why I laugh at people who assert things like, “Well if they would just think about it rationally … “.

    There is no-one steering the ship but hey the weather is nice so I’m stealing a lifeboat and jumping ship.

  2. Marshall Stacks January 8, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Before privatisation, ALL domestic utilities – gas, power, water, – had the absolute right to enter any ‘private’ property ie home, at any time without warning.
    Since privatisation I often wonder if this fine print has ever been adjusted. The Government, ie, ourselves, is one thing, foreign-owned private companies is quite another.
    Origin is foreign (Singapore) owned, as is (Singapore again) Optus (which started out as an alternative little Aussie battler company).
    Piped water is one of the luxuries which makes us not a third-world country. Smart/monied people would do well to install big tanks and pumps and start collecting their own.

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