Sunday, 8 August 2010

Tony Judt, Tony Benn, the RSA and Google

Here are a few things that have affected me this week, some deeply.

One sad, two good and one very, very bad.

Tony Judt died.

What a wonderful guy.  I can't do justice to him here, others have done that with so much grace, but I love that he was an intellectual with real commitment to action, with tremendous sustained intellectual rigour, which he also demanded of others.  He believed, as I do, but articulated in an evolving way through a long career, that the social-democratic achievements of the 20th century, which are about to crumble away, are worth fighting for if we can, flawed and incomplete as they are.

To me he was the model of the committed and engaged intellectual advancing the struggle through a sharing of his principled analysis.

He was also a magnificent and principled anti-zionist, despite all the difficulties that that involved, including and especially through his advocacy of a one-state solution.

His relative Saul Goldberg wrote a moving personal obituary in the Guardian/Observer, which I noted in particular among many others (see list at the end)

Here are two videos: Interview on Zionism and Short Film on his experience of Lou Gehrigs Disease.  And here is the audio of the Remarque Lecture given at NYU by Tony Judt in October 2009, and a link to its published version in the NY Review of Books, later released as Ill Fares the Land (2010). (the last with thanks again to @their_vodka

I have also enjoyed, I have to say, the interview by Anderson Cooper of Christopher Hitchens, another British, (formerly) leftist intellectual living in the US, and battling terminal illness.  I have disagreed with Hitchens on many things, especially his support for the Iraq war and extraordinary progress into the arms of the neo-cons in the US, but this was an interesting and moving discussion.

Fight the Cuts

Tony Benn headed up a long list of activists to publicise the growing campaign to fight the cuts in UK, which I am definitely joining.  Coalition of Resistance website is here.  I watched the great video of Caroline Lucas' talk on the cuts at an earlier meeting of the campaign.  

 RSA published a new video

A video by the very brilliant Dan Pink illustrates that the massive bonuses given to bankers have unlikely made them more productive, and are therefore a waste of money.  In fact, it says, big bonuses on Wall Street are killing America

What we all need more than money (once we have enough) is a sense of purpose, challenge and that we are contributing something valuable.  We only need enough money that it is "off the table" as a problem. Nothing new, and still a bit of a pipe-dream perhaps, because the reality for most of us, including of course me, remains bonded and commodified relationships, but still...  I have tried to resist alienation, and the dream is worth fighting for too.

The video is very engaging, and it gives us some tools for the argument.

Lots of other great videos at the RSA site, btw.

Google ......

In direct contradiction of the spirit of all of the above, Google announced its planned unholy, unethical and totally disgusting possible deal with Verizon.  I am consumed with revulsion for them and the betrayal of their slogan "Don't do Evil".  My eye!

At the same time I am filled with renewed love and admiration for Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet, who gave it away for free, and lived to tell the tale.  Still going strong.

My favourite tweet of the week? "Et tu, Google?" from  (via The Independent)

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