Bring on the brain surgery

Sat here with tears in my eyes. Just received a card from Rachael, the speech therapist in Kenya, The card says it’s their turn to support me and has a painting by a local artist  with the Kiswahili phrase “Endelea Kukaza Mwendo” on it, translates as “Keep On Keeping On”. Would that this is the way we all behaved with each other.

More painful night last night, think I’ve a little throat infection so felt pretty bunged up, taking more drugs which is slightly depressing. Poor Kate not sleeping too well.

Thanks for stuff on faith schools Martin, will peruse and inwardly digest. But which should take precedence cost or principle?

We live in confused and confusing times, and I think this confusion is both unravelled and compounded by the internet. Unravelled because people can find answers and develop deeper understanding by relatively quickly researching on the internet.  At the same time confused or troubled folk can easily find that which takes them on paths of hate and destruction. I have been a seeker of truths all my adult life, albeit through a socialist prism which I try not to blind me to alternatives (I know many will disagree with this about me). Today a letter in the Grauniad has tickled my curiosity and is leading me to internet research. Professor Paul Gilbert writes about how different brain systems operate for competitiveness and altruism. I have read and others commented, for example, on the psycho/sociopathology of the kleptos and BBs, perhaps they have overdeveloped those brain parts that give the dopamine rush associated with winning competitively?

My tickled brain went online and soon came across a recent paper:  ‘Inside the ‘Home Oeconimicus Brain’: Towards a Reform of the Economics Curriculum?, by Manuel Wörsdörfer. He analyses various pieces of research that show economics students tend towards more self-interested behaviour than altruistic or public good behaviour. He posits that this is due either to their own predisposition or indoctrination through their economics courses (or, as I think, a combination of the two).

I picked on this research because economics has become such a hugely significant part of Western life: most politicians have PPE degrees, economics graduates move into many of the highly financialised (have I just made this word up?) jobs in banking and other finance, economics ‘experts’ are prevalent in all our media, economists such as Keynes and Alan Walters (Thatcher’s economics guru) and CEOs are a few examples. It is also the case that for many years the dominant economics taught is of a relatively narrow type and tends to reinforce the dominant dogmas of the last thirty or so neoliberal years.

So those of a selfish predisposition move into jobs that they can earn loads of money, the whole system of finance, politics and business is dominated by these people and their selfish credo (there is no such thing as society).

The other parts of our brains that are responsible for altruism and concern for the common good are left to be developed in those of us who have been increasingly left behind in the slipstream of the kleptos and BBs. Trouble is this selfish infection has taken hold in so many people and institutions. Look around and we see examples everywhere, a good (good in terms of example not in terms of goodness mind) one today written by Aditya Chakrabortty. In Tower Hamlets there are the Fred Wigg and John Marsh towers, council housing built in the 60’s. The  Labour council (Labour, just hanging on to their capitalisation!) who are responsible have pushed through by nefarious means proposals to redevelop the towers. Long term residents (poorer people of course) will lose their housing so that the area can continue it’s gentrification and a few people continue to make money out of housing as we move ever more to a rentier society.

This was reinforced for me in Jacques Peretti’s current documentary ‘the super rich and us’, the wealthy see no moral objections to their wealth nor why it should be shared more equally. On the programme a rich man (Brannhauer?) is one of the few to recognise how wrong all this is, it was from him I nabbed the pitchfork thing (irony, from a rich man?). Should check his brain for the development of the different systems.

Gilbert goes on to argue that this over-development of the competitive systems of our brains affects so many areas of life, including politics where so much is about doing down your opponents. Sal it is time for your working together programme, perhaps we can do it by some brain surgery on the kleptos and BBs? But it does provide us with a gauge to judge the politicians with a simple judgement of whether whatever they say or propose is simply to beat their opponents or is to develop the common good?

manifesto 60:

  • compulsory brain surgery for BBs and kleptos

Endelea Kukaza Mwendo, love Duncan.

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2 thoughts on “Bring on the brain surgery

  1. If you are becoming more interested in economics, look no further than the New Economics Foundation, whose books, reports, papers and people have been researching and outlining the deep flaws in conventional economics ( shall we discuss how economic thinking is in direct conflict with the laws of physics ?) for years. I had the privilege of working with them on a couple of projects ten years ago or so and loved their intelligence and sense of humour ( their shorthand for the current economic model ‘brain damage’ .) ……….some of their work (on happiness and ’empty bucket regeneration’ to take two examples) was briefly mainstreamed, but only in diluted, distorted mutations which ensured they didn’t last………my own view is that economics is a pseudoscience somewhat akin to astrology ( it is certainly no more accurate ) when you pare it back to its essentials, there isn’t much there, it depends largely on slavish and unquestioning belief in a few simple doctrines: much like the tale of the Emporor’s new clothes, it’s hegemony is utterly dependent on our myopia. Sad, but true, I think.

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  2. Thanks for that Richard, I’ve long realised what a bunch of misguided charlatans many (certainly not all) economists are selling their snake oil shit. Have you come across Richard Wolff? He’s an American Marxist economist, he does a monthly update you can get on youtube and he keeps me abreast of things stateside. I so agree with your Emperor’s new clothes analogy, use it frequently myself and it feels like at last more people are having the veil drawn from their eyes, or is it just wishful thinking on my part?

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