Tickers and Feeds

We have been working lately for a Ticker LED Display Signs business, which offers various topical News Feeds, as content for the LED Display Sign hardware it markets.

It struck me that this business setup is a useful analogue to place in an article like this to say something about how human societies work and gel as units, in so far as they continue to gel as units in a world as we, the Developed Nations, know it today.

The Display Signs in this world are newspapers and journals, TV and cinema and The Web, plus the talk which we hear and pass around – as gossip or as discussion – and so forth.  The Feeds are the content of these Display Signs – shows, movies, news, comedy, drama, study, gossip, discussion, debate and so on.

There is, in the Ticker company’s business model a resource called Custom Messaging; which is where a person with a Display Sign is able to create her own Feeds of content on her own topics in her own words – like people do these days on The Web at Twitter, Facebook and blogs and forums and so on.

This analogue of Ticker LEDs is, then, OK to use for saying something about the methodology of how societies communicate and exchange ideas and thoughts and feelings.

Another analogue worth adding to the Ticker LED one is taken from the world of the New York, London and Paris Fashion Houses.  The idea about using this came to me today when I was looking in a Bridal wear shop window (the shop also sells second-hand books, which was why I was looking in).  There were female mannequins in the window which had been dressed up by shop assistants into some quite suave Bridesmaid dresses. The dresses were something very much out of the ordinary, compared with everyday dress, and in this way they were like The London Week and other high fashion shows wherein models wearing spring and summer collections parade catwalks doing the crazy walks they do.

The Fashion Designers in the Fashion Houses are the ultimate Feeds and their designs are the definitive Content of their Feeds – regarding women’s dress for the new season. The Fashion Houses, their buildings, catwalks, models are the Sign Displays whereon the content of the Feeds are displayed. The audiences, whether fashion writers and critics or rich people interested in a new look, are subsidiary Feeds (authors) of the definitive Content (their reviews) on their various sub Display Signs like magazines and society talk.

The first analogue concerning Ticker LEDs emphasises the complexity and diversity of social communications and the bewildering amount that goes on, much of it like clockwork, and all around us. (The custom message content is of course not like clockwork, and, if anywhere, this it the place where ‘spanners in the works’ are most likely to be deliberately dropped in.)

The Fashion House analogue on the other hand emphasises very well the almost exclusive Top Down nature and direction of societal Display Signs and of their Feeds and Feed Contents.   Only The Web is a powerful source whereon even Joe Soap and his wife might have a say or else rip someone up. The Web is then a Custom Message source. It is available to most of us ‘also-rans’ in today’s rich societies, and importantly, it is available also for the same purposes to many ‘also-rans’ in less affluent and more repressive parts of the globe.

Let’s now look at the dynamics of Feeds and Content, using Fashion Houses as our model.  The Fashion Designers set the pace. (They are more often than not men.) Theirs is a High Calling.  They are The Dukes, The Duchesses. What they say goes.

(How a person gets to such an eminence and to such a level of almost absolutist autocracy is hard to fathom in an age, allegedly, of democracy?  Where does such aggregation and arrogation of authority come from indeed?)

They are, they would say, judged on their performance and by the fashion critics and other mediators in their audiences, Lady so and so and Dame this and that, who have the power to make or break them. But the fashion critics and the Ladies and dames would need to work in relative unison were they to want to bring down a Fashion Designer for any reason

The word ‘performance’ is a descriptor of note. The fashion show, it is called a show, is performed as a stylised ritual of catwalks, clapping, sequences, collections, silly walks and swishes aiming to be a female equivalent of courtship display. The names of the Fashion Houses, of the models who model for them, and their images, the set times of year for shows, and their seasonal frequency; all take the form of hallowed and revered ceremony; as if something else, situated elsewhere, than ‘in the real world’ were going on.

This is the hype; the nine-tenths hype which these things are in essence.  (I am not denigrating female life; I could have easily have chosen The NLA or The Premier League, or Grand Opera Houses, as equally powerful analogues).

The audiences of titled Ladies and Fashion Critics have it wholly in their interest to ‘take home with them’ the requisite high praise and the ‘shock and awe’ glamour of hype necessary for a good sales promotion of new clothes in the exclusive Knightsbridge shops over the following months. They all muck-in together to help set the trend and establish the standard.  In this way, and by these means, a complete wardrobe which would have had at best a certain artistic value only, and which is hardly ever very practical or greatly commercial in itself, is raised via hype to iconic heights which are necessary as a prerequisite and perquisite for launching with a splash the new fashions into the high-end retail sectors.

Glossy clothes magazines in large variety gradated variously in the marketplace to suit any social standing are published monthly. These carry pitches, in registers at various levels, and in a very clearly demarcated pecking order, so that they are fanning downwards through the social classes to the bottom. At the bottom is the type of the girl who would have worked on a till at a Woolworths.  As the images of the clothes, and the clothes themselves also, slide down the societal pecking order their opulence diminishes as do their prices. Their practicality is gradually enhanced as they trend down the line towards wholly practical at the bottom, and their levels of outlandishness reciprocally decrease. The Dime shop serving girls cannot afford the bucks to look ‘funny’ and would not understand clothes as kitsch ‘art’ either.

This sequencing in a societally downwards trend is planned and done deliberately so as to get maximum cash returns from a Season’s clothes.  It follows fairly predictable sets of patterns which oddly enough work by themselves in society automatically, more or less.

‘Everyone in their place and a place for everyone’

The Web is of course The Place, if any, where this rigidly constraining, in part self-incarcerating, systematisation in the shape and direction of our societies, is best to be challenged and broken down.  It is the single place in modern life where Custom Messages are able to ‘get through’; where ‘spanners can be thrown into the works’. The Place where people of any rank or class are able to say what they feel and speak their own thoughts for themselves. The Web is where new and better organisations can be and where they are being established and nurtured (Bitcoin, Crowd sourcing, Creative Commons).

And this is why the law  – and the governments and businesses behind it – are trying to close The Web down – I don’t mean shut it – I mean grab control – shanghai us – put us back in our box – whatever you call it – put the lid back on.

So along with the criminals the politicals were rounded up also and sent to slave labour camps in the USSR (see Solzhenitsyn’s ‘The Gulag Archipelago’).  Likewise the same tactic is being used by our masters to load into one big bag labelled ‘Wreckers: Beware!’ the guys who scam, and who hack to rob cash, who slander in malice, and plant viruses with schadenfreude – to bag up all these criminals up in the very same bag, and under the same label, as you and me; who want merely justice, love, peace, truth, concord, happiness and kindness to one another.

And who want a better life than the ones facades of hype and falsity feed like foison to people as though beasts; and which entrap us in our dependencies on a convinced need to emulate where we are led to understand real life is played out

Money as Debt: The Sway of Property Possession

Ownership of an item seems to me only to be able to occur once the item in question has dropped out of circulation in the marketplace as it being a value-counter within the system of the means of exchange.  In other words, only when an item is on the market for sale or to buy does it take part as a good of value in the monetary system of exchange.  When it is not for sale or is unable to be bought it is of no value in the system of means of exchange. But possession of, as opposed to ownership, of property is nonetheless able to act as a token, a latent call, upon the goods and services of another in redemption of a debt owed. What the Americans call ‘collateral’ and ‘leverage’

I guess the words ‘possession’ and ‘latent’ are crucial here. They say: I have the power and I am able to exert it – at will. The worst form of tyrannical oppression.

This is because any saleable item can change from it being not for sale to it being for sale, and in doing so it will add to the sum total of value in the system of the means of exchange as that sum of value stands at any given time. Since there are items coming and going, on and off the market, in a scale of billions of items all day every day, the market left to itself fluctuates and is never able to be wholly stable.

There exists an element of risk though. To nominate that one’s good is in the market (for sale or as collateral or leverage) means that one has to engage to sell it when a buyer arises.  Of course one might withdraw from selling it at the last moment without penalty; once or twice, or when withdrawal is common practice in the field of the goods sector marketplace one’s good is being withdrawn from. But when it is not normal or acceptable one will get two or three waivers before buyers begin to shun you and seek goods elsewhere.

But as collateral or as leverage; neither of these uses of goods on the marketplace can be effectively made without the actual possibility of the goods in question having to be sold or used as validation or as realisation of an obligation incurred.  This then is the risk – a person eventually might have to sell or realise as cash an item which s/he had no intention of selling and was hoping not to have to sell.

When the collateral or leverage are not in fact able to act as such and are not of substantive value once they are forced to be realised as money; then you get the situation we all know the implications of so well.

This is because the market is exposed to manipulations by big holders of property and goods; provided they have a store enough of items of value sufficient to work the market in their favour, by adding them to the market for sale or by taking them off the market for sale.

This is the case with banks and money. When one holds a monopoly in creating debts for others, and in being able to incur debt to oneself without owing to a creditor, the way seems paved for you to go into the marketplace and work the market in your favour. Maybe, whence the old saying? ‘Money comes to money.’

There is indeed bias in the system which looks to remain certain and in place whichever way you turn the penny; and it displays itself in the phenomenon of there being a Top Layer of wealthy entities (the crème de la crème or the scum- both rise to the top?) which holds the cords and pulls the strings regarding the marketplace and the value and means of exchange.

This bias tends towards this Top Layer never being placed in a position where it can be seriously challenged or superseded by an opposition element which has been established on the same terms, as the Top Laver’s operations and in its own image. No-one with the same approach as that of the Top Layer is able to supplant this layer – to join it maybe – but unlike a Mafia boss a person or entity is not able to wipe out all trace of rival families.

The Top Layer is secured permanent in this way because the system is ever preloaded (in great measure by the Top Layer itself) towards its benefit. Normally only weakness, incompetence or an accident of apocalyptic proportions from within; an implosion, is able to topple any entity from this Top Layer into penury or perdition.

So unless humans wipe out the planet wholesale by wars and depredations, the risk of there being an Epic Fall from grace out of the Top Layer, in every way will come from internal endogenous dysfunctionality only, or else from a revolutionary radical grass roots systemic change (a people-led apocalypse)

Now you might see where I’m heading? Because in truth the banks did nearly top themselves in the years that ran up to 2008 and after, selling to one another this and that great parcel of garbage and so in the final instance incurring massive debts on these sales because there came a point at which the parcels could no longer be passed on again and again in the ‘normal’ way of commerce.

The garbage they sold on to one another in their sectors was garbage in that no-one in their marketplaces to whom they sold it, in the final instance would or could acknowledge it any more as being authentic, sincere and genuinely transactable security upon that level of debt which ostensibly it had been marketed represented as being.

It collateral value, its value as leverage, was exposed publicly to be zero.

Thus the inevitable event of the Great Crash came, people stopped buying the garbage; and those left with parcels of it on their hands took the massive hits. It is generally agreed (after the event and on hindsight) that the banks’ own folly and greed, in performance comprising the whole nine yards of the Seven Deadly Sins, were their instruments of violence and destruction against themselves in their self-inflicted near fatal self-harm.

Everyone Sank

In 2008

Everyone was spending like there was no Gomorrah

Then the barrel fell over

And the edge of it ran down the hill to the bottom

And stopped

 

We all got laid off, got back on the road, played hell,

Dusted ourselves down

The dealers joshed and jostled at the heads of the queues

 

That day

God rolled up the rainbow like a fancy cotton carpet

Put it in his back pocket

Drove down to El Dorado’s to the beach

 

Gaming the slots, soliciting dancing girls:

Now there’s no-one to square, pick up the party pieces

Spending Time on Reports?

A developer, like most of us, can think s/he knows what s/he is doing, where s/he is going, with a project, and believe that the project is well-mapped out in the cerebral cortex, and ready to roll.  There’s a certain sense of confidence arises when one feels one has a general grasp of what is needed to be done.

The old saying: The proof of the pudding is in the eating – is important and true here. And adopting a practice, and making it your standard practice, to resolve to write down in everyday language those confident thoughts milling between neurones in your head, will indeed expose the holes and non-sequiturs, and at the very least bring a greater clarity to your aid.

It is not that you might be wrong: that your sense of confidence is misplaced in believing in being able to achieve what you have been charged to build. In these cases that sense of inner confidence; what the TV detective calls a ‘hunch’, is normally a kind of internal radar which is pretty accurate.

It is that your unconscious mind is allowing you that sense of confidence; and because of this you will find that you cannot really very easily bring up with faciltity into you to consciousness everything which goes into the building of a projected job; and certainly you will find that you cannot do such a thing all at once.

‘We don’t want a madhouse and the whole thing here’

Your unconscious mind is fitting together ideas and projections and all sort of connectors and conjunctions so as for you to be able to say to your client with confidence: I can do this for you.  The trick is to learn how to mine the data out of your unconscious by writing down meticulously the project as a plan; and so you are realising consciously those unconscious connectors and conjunctions you are reliant upon for doing the work well.

The effort will be surprisingly hard for you. To write down in everyday language a skeleton upon which you aim to hang flesh on your projected task to make it live.  There will be pauses and problems and unforeseen mantraps and cul-de-sacs to negotiate: things overlooked and things misremembered and things which you have half an idea of but need to polish up on.  But overall your ‘hunch’ nevertheless will generally transpire as being a correct one.

What will also be difficult will be to get your thoughts down in, say, English, so that they accurately reflect what you want to say.  There was a philosopher of science who once said famously:

‘There is nothing I can say which cannot be misunderstood’

But the attempting to ‘say what you mean and to mean what you say’ will bring awareness and clarity and in bringing it will act to debug your mind before your mind is applied as a tool to construct a virtual reality in the image of itself.

Look upon it as being a personal challenge to see the writing through to the finish; and do finish it before you begin to start work proper on development of the item of work.  Use your writing as your personal Requirement Document, and maybe run it past your client to see whether a) it agrees with what s/he has in his head for the work and b) whether what s/he has in his head for the work necessarily needs to be modified in the light of what you have achieve in performing this exercise.

So why waste time with all this? Why not just get on and do.  Why not just go straight to writing a comprehensive technical specification document – if you actually do write such things beforehand to working to realise the product of a job.

Well: people buy Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training and pay money for the privilege of a mental workout which has no direct practical applications. At best Dr Kawashima can help generally to improve one’s concentration and sharpen one’s thought processes but these benefits depend on one obtaining a transfer of skill or aptitude over into everyday and particular practical situations which confront us.

Dr Kawashima provides you with entertainment and is at least in part a game.  The essence of a game is that there is no actual consequential penalty or loss riding on its completion; unlike when one is doing a job of work to earn one’s living. When one messes up on a paying job the pay check will not arrive; and one’s reputation will need at the least some massage and resuscitation.  There is a living riding on the outcomes of ones occupational achievement.

So why buy a game when instead you can do it yourself for real and increase your capabilities, your reputation, your income, and your sense of well-being and accomplishment, by applying a bit of brain training in a crucial and live situation.

You can improve and so find mining one’s unconscious data more felicitous and productive as you practice it further. It constitutes a good habit into which one is able to train oneself, and grow up into.

It can be hard going it alone.  So a guy or gal to bounce things off is a good recommendation: someone likeminded maybe, and someone also eager to do some extra-mural mental gym.  As the old poet said wisely:

‘When two go together, one sees before the other’

I guarantee you that you will be surprised how instructive the famous saying of the philosopher of science can be for you.  Take it as your maxim and your tenet and refer always to it as you go; so as to examine yourself and your work for those sneaky omissions and elisions, and those sly misnomers or those elusive double-dealing double-meanings.

When you have brought out from your depths to a written form with which you are happy a document which lays out clearly, comprehensively and concisely your upcoming job of work as a plan or a working blueprint, the gain is in the sense of restful and unruffled grounding you possess, and are able to give to the work of making the thing a reality.

It is not wasted time. It is not unnecessary. It is time spent up front working through hypothetically what you might have done actually and in fact and in the doing in fact could have turned into a real pig’s ear what now instead is likely to be a much smoother and much more enjoyable, rewarding task: a joy.

Furthermore, at the back end of a job approached this way there is most likely going to be a lot less debugging, fewer back to formulas and redactions.  Perhaps most importantly, you might feel like taking a reasonable and modest pride in yourself too?

Business and Behaviour

Isaac Newton formulated a law of motion saying: ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’; and his law has stood us in good stead for hundreds of years since.

Its application was in the field of physics; but it has application also in human relations; maybe not quite as regularly as in physics, but pretty often nonetheless.

In discussing how it applies to human relations in this article,  and more especially so in business relations, I want to show and so advocate how handling well one’s own behaviour, towards oneself and towards others, is to the general good, and as such is productive of  more wealth creation than is say and aggressive or a scattergun approach to handling oneself and others.

Shakespeare’s Jew of Venice, Shylock, was much maligned for his race and creed (as was too general for Jews in those days) and he pleads in the courtroom, where, in part, because he is a Jew, he is accused of being an inhuman monster:

“If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

This ‘we’ he is talking about might be humanity in general because his claims are not only applicable to Jews.  Our natural passions prefer us giving others like for like: ‘As you give, thus shall you be meted out’.

Our natural passions unrestrained are for loving those who love us and hating those who hate us; and are for helping those who help us and harming those who harm us. ‘Every action has a reaction’.

The Biblical law ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ is not, as it is too commonly taken to be by non-Jews, a call for vengeance and for doing hurt to people as much as they hurt you.  It is very much the opposite. It is a restraint, a curb, a regulation, which is set so as to prohibit those hurt or cheated from taking too much vengeance on the perpetrators.  This law is saying then that only as much as an eye can be taken in recompense for the taking of an eye.

And so an ‘equal and opposite’ reaction against having been harmed or annoyed might often be considered insufficient by the natural person listening to his natural passions for revenge.

Can you see where this is going with business and with business relationships?  When a guy has gotten out of order and deliberately messed you up in some way; not paying on time or sabotaging a project or such; the temptation for you is to take a hammer and smash his business or sometimes smash him himself?  You feel you want, as you say, to make an example of him.

What you really want is not so much to deter others from doing likewise to you; rather you want satisfaction pure and simple of your incensed passions against him.  As Shakespeare has Shylock say: ‘let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of his fair flesh’.

Hence a punishment felt to be too heavy is sometimes said by observers to be a person injured demanding as redress ‘a pound of flesh’.

This way the spirit of Cain is raised in us, and we ponder murder in our hearts.  And this is why in business we need and make regulations and sign agreements with partners, and we propose penalties beforehand, at a time when we are calm, and can see the objective situation better, with a cool head.

So when, as it frequently is, a case of an injured party in business seeking punitive costs or harms so as to aim to ruin or smash their adversary, only the lawyers are winners in fact.  This is because contrary to the saying that ‘vengeance is best served cold’, in reality most times vengeance allows no real satisfaction at all.  Not even psychologically as – a much misused term – ‘closure’.  Shakespeare has another Venetian of his say about jealousy something which equally can be said about punitive vengeance being served out; that it ‘mocks the meat it feeds on’.

The meat of vengeance is in a sense of victory, supremacy, dominance in an exultant punisher for having crushed another altogether.  It offers nothing at all that is practically useful or beneficial; not even to the avenger taking relishing with his meat – especially not to the avenger even.

In these cases avengers feed on meats which whet an appetite better quelled than indulged; better regulated than given free rein.  It is a meat which sickens the health of a mind and a body because it substitutes one grievous loss as recompense for another grievous loss. Punitive loss and harm offered to and wreaked upon a business enemy or opponent, substitutes for the offerer as recompense for a business loss suffered by him, usually concerning work or money.  It just cannot be healthy for a body and a mind to accept as due quittance such a punitive loss inflicted by them on another, even when that other was cause of the loss; and whether or not that other had been culpable.

In these case the balance and equanimity of business relations suffer generally and adversely, because the precedent set and the example given by attritional acts of revenge, act to pollute the wellsprings of good faith, and of prima facie goodwill upon which doing business with facility best thrives.  In practice this means to an economic community real actual loss of wealth and productivity.

This lack of balance and equanimity when a community or a part of it is at war with itself, and when business minds find themselves happy to be fed on red meats of punitive revenges: this cannot but destabilise and throw into disorder such a community; and to the extent that that those minds hold sway and influence within that community.

Simply put, the result is that buyers and seller in a community become inhibited and cautious, less trustful and more predisposed to secrecy, deception and a close-handed self-regard, so that their doing business through their companies and deals will become likewise much eviscerated.

Revenge has been termed ‘a kind of wild justice’.  How much more wild and predatory then is an attritional revenge?

So if we can keep our business reparations to a maximum of ‘an eye for and eye’;  and maybe in practice it would remain most beneficial for us all in business to stay ourselves a good deal short of such a demand; we might in fact be removing burdens from our own shoulders by doing so?

It’s an imperfect place, the business environment, as is the wide world in general, and very few human disturbances in it are so black and white cut and dried 100% good/bad, true/false, right/wrong, that firstly

It could equally well have been ourselves in a dock at another time and place; and

Few cases are without mitigations, either in favour of a defendant or against a claimant.

In the summing up, I would like to use Shakespeare again, and take from his play Hamlet for your recommendation this exchange:

Lord Polonius: My Lord, I will use them [a troupe of actors] according to their desert 

Hamlet: God’s bodykins, man, much better:  use every man

After his desert and who should ‘scape whipping?

Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less

They deserve, the more merit is your bounty.

Take them in.

The Business

There are guys and girls who head up businesses and organisations, who like Jack Sparrow, are in a position to ‘make it up as they go along’, because within their domains they assume the position like Judge Dredd and are able to say ‘I am the Law’.

There are not often Fools or Jesters in their inner circles who are privileged and so are to able to criticise and by way of satire and clowning, and in this way to speak out and pit truth against a Top Banana’s poor decision or unjust behaviour.

Even in days of old when these things were the vogue sometimes even Kings would not hear their Fool speak and jest against them, and would punish them for speaking out and not falling into line.

The game is the same today.  Once upon a time the rest of us depended on our Liege Lord for bread, drink, shelter, protection, law, and order, and when the Liege Lord cast a person aside he or she was faced with hunger and homelessness.  It was a case of finding another Liege Lord or dying.

These days we know it as ‘getting the push’ or ‘being fired’.  Our brief is not to go so far as outright objection or contrariness, to toe the line and kowtow if need be: we have our babies at home and mouths to feed.

But this extent of power to hire and fire, to elevate or to cast down, and the running stream of sedative and tranquilising pussyfooting agreement and assent to their ideas from their circles, right down to concession to and condolence on even the most trivial fit of pique: these are the causes of those who had sight becoming blind, and those who had direction becoming lost.

Once upon a time Bob Dylan saw it clearly. He sang of these guys and girls with their swollen heads immersed in clouds of glory, saying:

‘Your corrupt ways have finally made you blind’

and again

‘The blind men make the rules

For the wise men and the fools

It’s all right ma

It’s life and life only’

Where there are no boundaries to behaviour there are no rules for social intercourse. Like the young boys in the school yard playing soccer, the kid with the ball is king and the rest trail after him like a swarm of bees wherever he goes and whichever way he turns. The soccer match turns out like follow my leader and tactics, positions, game plays, infringements and penalty kicks are wholly unconsidered and unused.

The guys and girls at the helm of companies and corporations have vast freedom; so much so that temptations to indulge and to rage and to dismiss and to order and to generally play at prima donna come more and more easily upon them day by day, until, in the words of historian Lord Acton:

‘Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely’

These guys and girls are like the philosophers looking up at the stars who fell into a pit. Their sights are upon the ascendant and the increase and the aggregation, and their appetites for these feed upon them, so that the appetites in them increase at a rate faster and further than they can be sated. A lame man chases a butterfly, but only intending to capture it and mount it in his album – uncovetous inclinations to appreciating its pendant beauty and natural state are not enough, they do not figure on the register. Possession is nine tenths of their law.

Mass production is a symptom of this runaway surge of covetous and desperate insatiable appetite in the guys and girls at the helm who want, and want, and want to accumulate to an nth degree.  Like an illness it has been caught by contagion by the very masses who are those who feed the wayward and runaway desires at the top for more and more production. Consumerism is like consumption; a tuberculosis, a wasting illness, gradually depleting not just material resources; it depletes our reasonable self-regards and like a main line fix its hold on us is very hard to be kicked and we be made clean.

There was a guy once who said:

‘Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean’

And he got the reply:

‘I will: be thou clean’

The guy was a leper, like us.  There were ten in another story, and only one came back to say thanks. The others just partied and had a hoot. The guy who said thanks was the guy who offered what was due.

The Top Bananas made mass production. Mass production made working masses to supply it and to demand it.  The Top Bananas made consumerism.  Consumerism made nine out of ten blasé and forgetful of a natural thanksgiving for grace.  The sickness of aggregation, addition, and increase was passed down to the masses as consumerism.  The uncontrolled, uncontrollable appetite of the Top Bananas was passed down to the masses in consumerism. The masses were hooked on the same fix.

Nine out of ten have said yes to the Top Bananas. Have agreed and acquiesced and kowtowed and shied away from contradiction and confrontation of Top Banana unrestricted uncontrolled appetites, and have ended up with the same sickness, the same infection, as the consequence.  Like sheep their way has been lost, and every one has gone their own way.

The appeasement by Neville Chamberlain of Adolf Hitler encouraged Hitler, emboldened him, signalled to him, made way for him, to annexe the Rhineland and Austria and to invade Poland. Thus began World War Two.

The appeasement being made to Top Banana no boundaries blind and lost, stumbling unaccountable, unaccounted, guts and groins – and where is this leading?

‘…. what rough beast, its hour come round at last

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?’

You can find this article at our steemit blog: https://steemit.com/business/@matthew.raymer/the-business

Wealth Creation

This is the heart of Capitalism. The means for doing so are unconstrained except by two forces; a) the law – what can be ‘got away with’; and b) what the public, the consumers, will accept

Thus this level of freedom allows a proliferation of goods and services to come about in the marketplace; anything which is not unlawful and which will sell, or which people can be persuaded to buy.

Within these very broad limits there exists and has been built up by great artifice a massive edifice which comprises the convoluted machinery for marketing products and services.

These are things like branding, copyright, licensing, and advertising, specialisations, tie-ins, and all kinds of differentiations, the great majority of which are artificially raised up so as to create evidence for Capitalism’s famous boast of it being able to encompass and produce all things to suit every need.

This is also Capitalism’s vaunted freedom – which allows traders a free hand to enter the marketplace with their particular goods and services and compete there for position and for custom.

Nonetheless, like Newton’s third law of motion, this freedom for traders trading under a Capitalist regime has equal and opposite consequences elsewhere within the political economic system.  In other words, this positive freedom is not without its negatives. As The Book of Job has it: ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away’. And again, as Milton Friedman, one of the High Priests of capitalism himself said famously: ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’.

Within this locus of operation then wherein Capitalists operate, is ample scope for a vast complexity of purely human artifice and ingenuity erected deliberately to complicate and multiply the workings of the marketplace; and the whole thrust of such complexity and multiplicity is ever to interpose wherever they can be placed what The Bible calls ‘stumbling blocks’ for the people this marketplace presumes to serve

Such a vast edifice has been created by the entrepreneurs and their well-wishers and it is their prime generator for their amassment of wealth.

Of course it is true that ‘variety is the spice of life’, but it is also true that when a person is seriously ill a she is likely to suffer ‘complications’ and when drugs are introduced as medicine to help her she will most likely suffer ‘side-effects’ from taking them.

So it is that what we have created into our political economic status quo is a monstrous illness held back from mortality by the administration of tailored drugs which further antagonise the social body.

A few examples: In the field of electronics, its products and services; one is too often tied into a network; into a number of created-as-essential accessory items like batteries and adapters; into a required Operating System; and into deals and regulations imposing exit fees and minimum contract periods and penalty clauses, and so on and so on endlessly.  This is not freedom for the guys called ‘consumers’ – this is freedom for the big guys to elaborate complexities of arrangements with the deliberate and sole intention of claiming turf which ought to belong to others, that is, to the people whom the boast they are serving.

The general rule applies for the big guys that any wheeze or ruse, any sleight of hand or ingenious trickery is fair game provided it is not answerable in law.  And they will work to keep people called consumers in the dark about the more nefarious ones of these trickeries buried in their common policy.

Likewise in the finance services sector the effort is always to multiply and complicate for their own sakes, so as to boot-up the stakes and so enlarge the returns; all with a minimum of risk to the big guy puppet masters – all risk if possible being borne by the guys on strings who have bought their house-of-card services and products.

Like in the field of politics, to be a cool trader is to couch words and deals in fancy dress; to deliver a minimum which might be understood to fulfil the written and spoken promise of the deals and the advertising.  The caution is to keep sweet the persons and companies who have a capability to wound severely one’s operations, whilst doing all that is able to be imagined to extract the maximum return from that body of persons who as individuals are not greatly capable of doing them harm – that  is,  from those customer consumers who buy from them.

A religious example: The Lord Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the Jerusalem Temple precincts. He did so because by way of an artificial set regulation imposed from above, and in cahoots with the money changers, an arbitrary limitation had been placed on the type of coin which was deemed acceptable to be used in religious observances there.

The money changers were in effect making money out of a false and artificial differentiation arbitrarily raised so as deliberately to allow the making of money by them thus.  This is nothing other than extortion, of a kind able to bypass the force of the law.  It has as much logic to it, in terms of an honest and equitable treatment of others, as that notice to naughty boys in the park which says: ‘Any person caught throwing stones at this notice will be prosecuted’.

Branding itself often carries out a similar heist upon the shopper.  It is known that many companies supply supermarket ‘own brand’ items to British supermarkets, who also market the same product under a well-known international brand. The product is identical; the price is different; the customer knows nothing – is deliberately kept in the dark – and too often goes for the international brand item – for quality.

Is economic freedom a bad thing then?  Is it allowable for service providers and manufacturers to differentiate unnecessarily by policy and place needless hurdles for their customers to jump so as to tie them into deals or else to wring that bit extra from them?  Clearly one size does not always fit all and some variety is desirable, even necessary.  A ladies shop filled only with size 18 dresses only which are all the same pattern would not draw a wide variety of women. And shoppers and customers without doubt have an element of choice whom they buy from.

It is the vast differences in scale and in the weights of resources available to the parties which allow the balance to tip always in favour of the corporate provider of items and as against an individual buyer.

Even this lack of equal resources need not necessarily lead to inequity; it leads only to a temptation towards and an opening up of the possibilities for exploitation. The political economic system provides the opportunity and the means; the low levels in the big guys of self-understanding, listening to conscience, apprehension of a higher reality, of a due car for others, and of ability to curb their avarice and greed – these are their motives.

The Lord Jesus states very clearly:

‘Where your treasure is; there will your heart be also’

The question might be raised with good reason whether it is our human nature which has created such a monster of a political economic system; or whether our political economic system has made monsters of us?  If the first we are locked into something we cannot control and which is inevitable. If the second, then we are enslaved to our own creation – but perhaps not inevitably so

My own opinion is very strong that we humans have power to change things. Simply put, the power is given to us by the historical fact of The Lord Jesus Christ and his life and work seen in the Gospels. I believe he is the Son of God, but a person only needs to understand him and his deeds and his words as these present in the Gospels, so as to gain fully spiritual and immensely practical answers to our self-inflicted, self-engaged and self-interested political and economic systems for self-harm.

 

Fear and Change

There is a real fear of change in most hearts. Not change like going on vacation or getting a promotion at work; but shifts to the fabric and the fundamentals we like rest our lives upon and place a faith in.

There are proverbs like: ‘Better the Devil you know…’ and ‘Out of the frying pan into the fire’; or ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush’, ‘don’t count your chickens’ and ‘Be careful what you wish for’.  All are in their ways conservative sayings and rest their wisdom on staying with what one has presently or else on one not being too eager to go forward.

There’s good sense behind this natural conservatism and I believe it can be demonstrated by an appeal to history that when alterations to the fabric of a business, or a society and its foundations change too fast the inevitable result is chaos and control of the situation is lost to everyone.

There is the disarray into which the French Revolution of 1789 fell into quickly simply because the size, range and pace of its changes were railroaded so quickly and so radically that the resulting fragmentation of social relations and connections, of people simply not knowing what was the current state of play in their lives, resulted in a collapse which let in Napoleon to ascend to power.

In Germany in the 1920s in the wake of a war defeat which left the nation literally exhausted of men, materials, industry, means to live, and willpower; there followed the fragmented, tottering successively weak governments of the Weimar period during which no clear direction could be found up front on which to rebuild Germany and its national self-belief.  The war had altered the physical map and the psychological map of the German people so utterly and to the core of their being. This chaos and inability allowed the Nazi Party to rise to power.

The fall of the Soviet Empire in 1989 was so sudden and extensive, across Eastern Europe particularly, where the Soviet Satellite states had been held in political chains since their annexation by Russia in 1945 as its share of the war spoils.  When Soviet Russia fell, the restraint came off these states more or less overnight, with a result that a third Pan-European conflict was narrowly averted starting up in the Balkans only by a concerted and intense kid-glove handling of the situation there.  This happened because there had been no time for consideration and consolidation and easing gently into the new state of affairs. An enormous power vacuum having been created there meant that every tinpot commander in charge of his home-brewed local militia was up for becoming Generalissimo.  Fractures along ethnic lines and an abrupt resort to settling long suppressed old scores exploded in political confrontations that nearly destabilised a whole continent

Too much foundational change too quickly, in business and in politics, generally ends in tears all round; and this we instinctively understand and so we remain generally conservative as a species.

And this is the fear and the concern of many people here in the UK right now, now that a new Labour Party leader has been elected whose message to most ears here represents a radical departure and introduces a set of unfamiliar and so disquieting policies and approaches.   Most adults in the UK today are too young to have had any experience of living under a left-of-centre government. Most adults here also have little knowledge, and no experience of socialist, Marxist, or any left of centre politics. Other than the stereotypical caricatures of ‘lefties’ offered by the political right over the past 30 or 40 years, there is a blank sheet..

Few adults remember as far back as the 1970s when Britain was being destroyed by class war between Industrialists and their employees, and inflation was running at close to 15%, and the lights and power went out two days in every five. These were the fruits of our last dealings with a political attempt to overthrow or to bring into line the arch-capitalists who run our world. At that time the monied big shots were locked in a struggle to retain their dominance in Britain – and they won.  Since then Britain has never looked back – unfortunately.

Since then and across the Western world we have had sanguine pundits taking a view that capitalism is the definitive means of production, the system of choice for humanity that has triumphed globally.  In deliberate mockery of Marx, pundits have bandied beliefs like the one that economic history as ideology is at an end because there is no alternative position viable which is able to seriously challenge capitalism.  Instead of the state withering away, Marxism and the left of centre in general is concluded to have done so.

So, it is the general belief that ‘fear keeps us safe’. Fear is not just of change, but of the enemies which our states and their media hold up to us their publics as if they were glove puppets being worked in their hands. Thus they present to us a fear-fest show of good and salutary instruction which subdues and mortifies our local discontent.

In other words, so as to make the governing of us more effortless and their policies and actions more self-serving our leaders use and abuse our native sense of fear and apprehension, our desire and our need for stability – our innate conservatism – they use it against us and thus they abuse us.  The new Labour Party Leader then, because he is so radical (in comparison with the torpid status quo of the past 35 years that I have outlined) is going to be shown by the right of centre politicians and in their media which serves their interests – the interests of a capitalist establishment – and who are its owners – the Labour Leader will be portrayed as being our enemy – without doubt.

The ‘our’ in ‘our enemy’ is rhetorical.  Because this collective ‘our’ is spoken of as if to include in it the likes of you and I, the governed classes, but in actuality it demarcates only the rich ruling despots of global capital in so far as they hold financial, political controlling interests in British industry and commerce.

The guy himself, The New Labour Leader, has sane and attractive ideas for Britain.  So many swords on threads hang over him and them however. Not just the question whether our media will succeed in annihilating him politically; he knows and uses the power of social media, and so the power of traditional media is not an open and shut question.  But his policies and plans need also to be feasible, viable and practicable as well as wholesome and good; especially given a world wherein the lingua franca and the vade mecum has been for so long so distorted into fierce and monolithic proclamations of global victory to the West and its means of production.

I predict the new leader of The Labour Party will meet with a bloody, ruthless, treacherous, underhand, below the belt, beating from the greater capitalist league.

This league will form a perfect storm out of their prevailing joint interests and gang up to tear him like a prey amongst a pack of wolves.  He will never be allowed to proceed to power – or if he becomes our elected Prime Minister he will be forced into failure by them, dismally. His whole set of his good and proper policies will be blighted absolutely at their hand, by these coercive Angels of Death.

Goodness and properness are not good business as business is recommended to be done these days; they do not sell; they cut no cake; they make no dough; they would mean a draining away of power from the bases of commercial robber barons of great longstanding – sometimes whole dynasties in the making and aggregating.  The wicked shall triumph; although the bad guys will not see themselves as wicked. Like the smart guy who asked God Incarnate ‘And who is my neighbour?’ they will justify themselves to their own satisfactions.

You can find this article at our steemit blog: https://steemit.com/business/@matthew.raymer/fear-and-change

Victims of our own Enthusiasms: Technique and Jaques Ellul

Jacques Ellul described his central concept of ‘technique’ as being:

 “…the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity.”

He was concerned here with organisation – particularly with the organisation of society, of technology and of the ways of doing business we pursue – and the consequent levels of deleterious effect on people like us arising out of these kinds of organisation.

Simply put, Ellul saw well that the applications of what he calls ‘technique’ in areas like the means of production and distribution; the financial and economic methods in use; the laws and the regulations we are bound by and subscribe to; are, as ways of doing things, harmful to our societies and to our lives.

For the most part and in affluent societies most of this harm takes the form of constraints and deprivations of freedoms and capabilities.  The case for populations in non-affluent societies, in regard to how peoples there are adversely affected by technique as it is being used in affluent countries, is more tangible and more greatly pronounced in the forms of physical constraint and physical deprivation.  Nonetheless and moreover – no-one wins out of it; not even the affluent law makers and captains of industry and government members.

I want to add that technique is used inthe way it it is, because it has become necessary for it to be used as it is, and that we are locked-into a self-fulfilling inevitability for further development which has arisen out of the paths we chose as nations and individuals way back in the early the days of industrialisation.  My argument then will be circular, in that the rise of these Shibboleths of ‘technique’ so for to become the standard, accepted, ways of doing things – the open markets, the ownerships of capital and labour, even our representative democracy, our debt, credit and interest arrangements, and so on – their powerful grip has locked us into certain consequences arising from them as forms of social, political and economic organisation.  These consequences demonstrate that technique, as Ellul denominates it,  being applied and carried out automatedly without further thought by us in and as its own justification and for its own sake.

The simile I want to use to help covey what I mean concerns an item of baggage packed for a trip abroad and locked by a lock at the top when zipped up.  The trip is our life-journey as we and our societies head towards what is to come in future. Like all trips, it was booked some time back and the arrangements for it put in place – ticket, seat, destination, departure point, hotel, and so on.  The item of baggage was packed well previous to the trip also; and its contents zippered and locked up some time before the trip actually began.

Now most trips these days go ahead and pass fairly well as much as they were planned to pass  – lost baggage and in-flight disruptions are in recent years largely managed down to a minimum by carriers. And unless there arises a serious problem – like an engine shut down – equating in our simile to a major war breaking out or a natural disaster of magnitude occurring in the world, then our futures in general, like our trip on an airplane, are mapped out fairly well in broad terms in respect of how they are going to flow.

The baggage we packed is zippered and locked up – there are no changes in and no access to its contents whist the air journey is taking place – thus the contents in it are fixed.  Lots of contingent things might happen on a trip – coffee spilt; stormy weather; a diversion; toilet blocked; movie great; a good sleep – are amongst the myriad things possible, even likely. But the contents of the baggage are fixed and shut in the hold; and thereabouts are isolated and not able to be tampered with.

This item of baggage – in our simile – includes amongst other things our legacy means of doing technique, of organising ourselves in society, and with these are also carried in the bag their inevitable consequences and effects that arise inevitably out of these means.

Let us call these consequences attitudes, laws, rights, obligations, regulations, duties, conventions, conformities, traditions, all clustered around and governed by the forms of technique which give rise to them; the monthly credit card payoff, the monthly visit for a prescription medicine, the daily getting the kids ready for school, the school run in the car; the car’s servicing due soon, and so on. These small daily obligations and routines are shaped and necessitated by the way technique is being applied to our lives and so life, our life, is being organised even in our narrow localities and events.

(I was born and brought up in Tottenham, North London. As a youth I would travel by train to work. Every morning for five years I stood on the platform beside a man with a cloth cap a brown mackintosh and a pipe smoking.  I then moved away and left the area. Some twenty-five or so years later I found myself on that platform one morning again and there beside me in an older version was the cloth cap mackintosh and pipe.  Ever-after to my mind the fellow concenred represented to me a symbol of how an enslavement of uneducated working persons is imposed and organised by way of the application of what Jacques Ellul describes as technique.]

The short thesis of this article is then: that we have built a society on enthusiasms for, on an overplus faith in, science, scientific method, technological innovations, market forces, capital, regulation, law, credit, commerce, consumerism, production, including celebrity and its hero-worship; and thus historically we have placed an unwarrantable faith in these items, by believing them to be the solutions to the problems and issues we face in living our lives – problems like the getting of food and shelter, obtaining a job of work and means to live, finding entertainment and recreation, getting education and training. The ways we have elected to pursue these things like a cuckoo in a nest have grown up to rule the roost for us. They are the bedrock we laid down unwittingly and our everyday activities form their overlying strata and so are now our bed we must lay upon it.

Like Macbeth we cannot easily turn back:

‘I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er’ [Act 3]

We have organised our means and amenities of life and their procurement for our use and consumption so thoroughly that a mass consumerism has been made possible.  This consumerism in its turn has been put together in such a way as to be deeply dependent on this straightjacket technique and organisation being kept in place. The upshot, the bill, the price we have to pay for this static underlying status quo is that our own selves and our lives, in unspeakably minute detail and with close levels of control have been made themselves objects of ‘technique’ to be lived out.

Hence we are, we have made ourselves, and have colluded in making of ourselves, an organised people in every detail by way of imposing via application of technique a coercion, entailing a general management of our outlooks, of our habits, of gettingour necessities, of us having no clear alternative.  So far gone are we that not only are we unaware we are so far gone; we are so far out of the way of what would be far better, far more human and fulfilled, that we stand contained and constrained by our acquiesicence in accepting technique’s ‘mind-forged manacles’

Technique then has been hallowed and espoused by us; hyped up and bigged-up so much that even our leaders now believe it as their own propaganda. It is now so firmly and deeply embedded within us in our daily lives and in how we do things, organise things, that it is almost immovable, and for the most part it is unconsciously perceived by us as being like our ‘second nature’ – a bad unkickable habit which we retain, and think we are clean.

Just like all the product on our retailers shelves it is being sold to us, has always been being sold to us, as a Promised Land flowing with milk and honey; the apotheosis of the ages, after centuries of striving and venture by our struggling ancestors – the big payoff for our history of human ingenuity and invention:  Because you’re worth it. We are all labelled prize winners – but the prize-givers have feet of clay.

So we find ourselves a society at large which has been by its own means locked into a kind of Bedlam, a madhouse; and it is just as if it were our own selves, our essential humanity and heaven-promised ‘life in abundance’, which has been zippered up in that baggage in the airplane hold and locked up with a lock for our journey through life.

Be assured there is always a metanioa possible; a turning around; even for mile-long seagoing tankers. Any such change of direction has to do with us being helped to ‘awaken’ (see article) and with us thereafter bearing the responsibility thereby laid upon us ‘awoken’ person ready able and willing to work selflessly for the true good of others.

[NOTE: There was in recent years a UK Secret Service Agent found dead in a flat in London. He was found zippered up in an item of baggage. No satisfactory enquiry into his death was made and many observers considered this lack of due process by the authorities was deliberately allowed and that his Secret Agent career was involved in the affair. A few ‘semi-official’ putative ‘explanations’ of his demise were passed to the media to broadcast. One was that he had zipped himself in and could not free himself – a failed Houdini. Another hinted at a ‘sex-game’ which ‘had gone wrong’.  Murder was never really truly considered as an explanation. The inquest found ‘death by misadventure’]

 

Fear and Trust

For all the misgivings one has in business, and in business relationships, the bottom line for the presence of adequate peace of mind for one to continue trading or developing is, and is always: Trust.

One cannot proceed very far without it in any social interaction and especially in those business areas which set out to solve problems.  This need for trust is one reason why there are Brands; because for goods and services carrying a Brand name one knows, one has a cool idea of what one is about to get when one buys an item.

Brands, when sound and reputable, go some way towards guaranteeing a level of quality and after sales support etc. And this is one reason why counterfeiting is at bottom parasitic – because it trades upon the reputation of someone else’s goods and services. It offers no guarantee of quality or of after-sales service etc, and when a person has been hoodwinked by a counterfeiter and the product he has bought is scrap; it is the Brand name which was traded upon which tends to suffer in its reputation; and also the company who is the legitimate owner of the Brand name; irrational though this might seem?

The reason for a decline in a genuine reputation of a bona fide Brand and its company being caused by illicit traders trading upon the Brand’s repute; is the knock which is taken on the Trust in that Brand name, and to the almost complacent ready expectations one has, when one has been used to buying that Brand. Thus customers loyal to a Brand can suddenly be shaken by a bad experience with it and so no longer buy its products.

The scale of the shock and distrust escalates enormously for a person hoodwinked by products counterfeited such as medicines, and say, vehicle parts like brake shoes and tyres, because of the perceived major risks of harm which accompany taking a drug which is not approved nor bona fide; or the large risk experienced in having brake shoes or tyres fitted to one’s car when they are possibly substandard.

These considerations then, show some of the ways that trust is central to trading and to doing business.

Because we are destined to ‘live by the sweat of our brows’ we are constrained to do business so as to earn our livings.  This also means that we are compelled to have to trust others who come to us to do business with us, and also to trust those from whom we seek out business.  The default position for doing business then, necessarily has to be one of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and a prima facia openness of one’s approach to others, up to the point where that openness is no longer seen by us to be circumspect in regard to this person or that company, and so on.

There is much theology in this position in which we find ourselves, whereby we are compelled to trust in the first place; and to have to do so in a world which is often harsh and wherein many persons and groups are out for themselves without any social or moral qualifications on their relational behaviours.  We know the world is like this by reference to our own experiences; and that fortuitous remoteness of and anonymity for persons who use the Internet, make it a playground for those who thrive on catching out the unlucky; those who make some poor and regrettable decisions.  The web is brimming with scams and sharks and people who are simply of ill will or else hooked on schadenfreude.

Despite all this being the fact of the case; and despite us knowing full well that this is the fact of the case, we are compelled again and again when doing business via the Internet (and elsewhere) into and back upon that immovable default position of bona fide prima facie initial trusting of our newly met business associates.

And this is why old and returning customers and associates are so prized by us; because we know them and are able to assess any risks they might pose to us to a fairly exact extent. And now comes in a further paradox. For those who are ambitious in business old and returning customers and associates are never enough. Ambitious persons are always seeking new business and new business opportunities, which means necessarily meeting and doing more and more business with untested persons.

In addition it is the ambitious person who is most likely to be tempted to pick up a missed opportunity even when knowing it is to the cost of a competitor for him to do so; or else to be tempted to even less upright business practices as being convenient and expedient short cuts to wealth and position. (I discount from this generalisation the motivations of persons in dire straits or grasping at straws because they are say going insolvent, whose bad behaviour might be ameliorated by their obvious distress)

The paradox here is then that in the normal course of doing business it is the most ambitious who expose themselves to higher risk levels and are compelled to offer prima facie trust the most and most often; whereas the business person who is happy to earn and to live comfortably without great expectations exposes himself to less risk and is compelled to place less prima facie trust down than an ambitious person is compelled to. And so it is that the least trustworthy, the ambitious, are taught by experience that trust is an essential for them to be able to advance towards the orders of magnitude they desire.

Of course in here steps The Law; on the side of and in support of higher risk takers who meet with foul play against their businesses. The Law is then an arbiter of fair play which may be called into action by an aggrieved party in order for that party to attempt redress for what has been essentially an (alleged) breach of trust by an associate or client.  It is at bottom a breach of trust always; and it is always based upon the breach of the holy commandment: ‘Do as you would be done unto’.

John Milton:

‘Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden , till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing Heav’nly Muse…..’

I quote Robert Burns also (back on the subject of Law):

‘Courts for cowards were erected

Churches built to please the priest

A fig for those by Law protected

Liberty’s a glorious feast!’

It is no co-incidence that ambitious persons and businesses are those who most frequently use the law and its courts so as to defend their positions against rivals and against swindlers and thieves.  Not only are they normally those who are most exposed to risks like these we are presently discussing; they as business entities present the best pickings for the scammer or for the counterfeiter, since – as we have pointed out elsewhere – the big guys and their companies go to extreme lengths to present a perfect and seamless front-end image and marketing regime to their multitudes of customers. Their Brands are thus considered some of the most stable, lucrative and sound in the world because of this window dressing of theirs; and damage when done to their Brands is some big bad news for them.

So the Law is from one angle a kind of backstop for the risk takers by it deterring and chastising those who would do to them ill for gain. The Law is the inferno one has to invoke and through which one must go so as to purge oneself by condemning one’s enemies to its raging fire.

Law in this case then is artificial and put in place to be evoked so as to take the place of trust whenever trust has been lost by a breach or by an abuse of business practice and of normative rules. But Trust in its pro tem prima facie default position remains the natural value by which day to day business is oiled and with which its engines run for the most part reasonably smoothly.

Trust and placing trust, especially in an unknown person or business and being under constraint to do so – this can be very stressful. The only solace at this time of initial contact when doing business is that the same stress applies equally – in almost Newtonian exactness – to the other side, to the other Party to the deal.  The curse of ‘the sweat of our brows’ then transpires to be a Godsend sent to us so as to bring us together – if not as undesigning amicable disinterested and extempore cordial strangers, then – and better than not at all – as persons looking after their mutual interests and in joint hopes for the sharing of benefits.

‘They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.”

You can find this article at our steemit blog: https://steemit.com/business/@matthew.raymer/fear-and-trust

Laborare est Orare

Some old Roman first coined this phrase. It translates as ‘Work is Prayer’. We have discussed the ‘sweat of our brows’ and the need for us to earn livings. But this article is about our offering up what we do, our occupation and labours, in goodwill to God as a gift in thanks for his care over us.

The Anglican Liturgy says it:

‘All things come of Thee
And of Thine own do we give Thee’

There is for work to be prayer a necessary condition to be met: that any such offering made to God is a freewill offering; that it is offered without ulterior intentions attached to the giving and without bad grace shown towards to him. Thus work as prayer arises out of our own sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in our work. Unless this is so we have no sense of gratitude for it having been provided to us to do; and have not accepted a gift as being a challenge allowed us to master, so to do and complete it as we are best able to perform.

Thus work done as attached to the prime aim of reward is unable to be prayer. Work done solely for money say is the work of the timeserver. Work done for ambition is the work of the power-seeker; and work done for the esteem of others is the work of the egoist.

I guess we are all in part and at times the timeserver, the power seeker and the egoist, and that some days we pray better than other days in our work. I want now to talk about some guys and girls I have seen on TV, in what are figuratively called ‘fly on the wall’ programmes, programmes which lead a viewer to an insider’s view of a certain aspect of life.

The programmes had in common that they followed plain inglorious people doing plain inglorious jobs – such as railway station assistants whose job was to help and guide soccer fans to their home destinations after a big match. Other jobs were the guys who keep the underground sewers systems of cities clear and running; and guys who collect and dispose of household garbage.

All are pretty lowly jobs in the esteem of the ordinary person; dirty, or else hassle, or else laborious; or a combination of these things. The people doing them don’t get much status or kudos from the public – not in the same way as the star or the celebrity or the self made industrialist gets celebrated, admired, envied, feted and emulated.

Their jobs are done better for lack of their celebration; and celebration is perhaps a major life distraction for those who claim it or crave it from us? These guys and girls were nobodies; and happy to be nobodies. They, to a person, were engaged, well-disposed to and happy in their work, and contented with their situation at the base of society’s ranks of esteem; but nonetheless doing well a job of importance and skill and application; and in many ways difficult.

If money, as wages, were a factor in their lives then many of them would have moved on some years ago. Of course they wanted to earn and needed to earn but they got by on what they got and so were in that sense and to that extent at one with their lots.

I don’t want to paint them as being saints, and so paint the ‘go for it’ guys as sinners; I don’t want to be that black and white about things. It is a matter of emphasis, of inclination and disposition, as is seen in comparing the ‘go-getter’ whose aims and aspirations are ever troubling them as their desires stretch out and recede the greater they are being realised by them; and comparing this tortuous syndrome with the guy or girl who accepts some imposed limits and knows her/his own limitations, and so compromises (but not on life?) in trading off in return for an amount of contentment, satisfaction, a certain amount of self-determination and plain wellbeing; the enjoyment of the pleasures and snares of wealth, position, reputation, influence and so on.

In other words, the trade off and its acceptance is a reflection of the person concerned; of his/her disposition and character; as well as it being a circumstance which reinforces and develops that same character and disposition. Thus a ‘go-getter’ typically wants in the first place and grows by the circumstance of his life situation to want ever more greatly; whereas a more staid person generally settles for less, and gets added in a touch of serenity; so as to grow in that choice of situation to become more settled and more serene. This is at least the generality which I believe holds good in many instances.

Thus our life-choices define and direct us.

A girl working at the railway after the big game was ushering people to their trains when a drunken woman became agitated and was rude to her. Policy was that drunks were to be asked to sit on a bench and sober on the platform before embarking. The station girl kept unruffled and was decent to the drunken lady and sat her down after explaining the policy. Two hours later the now-sobered lady cam to the girl who had ushered her, and she apologised, and kissed the girl’s cheek demurely. The girl gave her a lovely smile and brushed off the apology by ‘that’s ok’.

Later the same girl usher was interviewed for the programme, and she spoke of how she loved the work and about the sense of usefulness and the emotional rewards of seeing people home safely. No rancour. No resentments. No sweat.

The girl was no more than thirty; and she was typical. She showed and shared typically the characteristics of the crews of sewer unblockers and the teams of garbage disposal men in the other two ‘fly on the wall’ programmes; the same sense of modest pride in themselves for doing socially-vital services, as it were unsung and without display or fuss. All showed the same gentle good humour and a fairly modest but solid self-esteem – built obviously from the inside – from their own secure estimation of their own worths based on a fairly dispassionate focussed self-assessment. To have come this far in life at thirty the girl was astonishingly precocious; and her sewer and garbage colleagues too had attained an impressive level of understanding of life.

Thus there was room, even though they may not have owned to there being so, but only because of a lack of a formal education, for them to have called their kinds of services they were providing to their community, diverse versions of ‘laborare est orare’. Coleridge wrote:

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

Simply put, our good service to others is a fulfilment of the laws of life and of love which underpin and maintain our world. The Lord Jesus goes as far as to say that together with a due reverence given to God, on this kind of freewill offering of service to others:

‘hangs all the law and the prophets’

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