James is is back with his brilliant and political outlook to dissect this month's theme, 'Choice'. James' philosophical twist gives his work a new and exciting dimension that truly challenges the reader. His piece below considers ethics and production in an interesting and reflective format.

If We Are All So Ethical, How Come Nothing Changes?


A Body speaks:

Chaos is presently in possession of our attention, while production remains elusive. When we force ourselves to think, a troublesome task at the best of times, it escapes us. In the world and historical moment we are living through, everything feels so fast, so close, but not real. We can know everything, though critical thought runs away as this access to knowledge grows. Holding an idea in your head, a thought, is the hard part. Scrutinising it seems impossible. What does it mean to be ethical? Seared onto our thoughts as we go about the day, walking to the shops, talking to friends, ethics seems to spin around us, looming. This slippery thing seems to be repeated on demand. It is a message, a communication. ‘Be ethical!’ they demand. Who the fuck are they?

Ethics is about the Good. That Good looks fancy here, I know. It remains so because it has metaphysical baggage, that you can just roll along the floor. More pretention. The Good has meaning. The authority of the signs around us, demands all us mere mortals to be good. We worship it. Should we sacrifice it, as well?

We can think of this baggage as an Idea. Plato thought that everything in this world was imperfect. It was a shadow of something real. There is a world beyond our bodily one. That chair in front of you is not the perfect Chair. The real one resides in the world of Forms. The Good is an Idea that has its perfection beyond what appears as good. The world of Forms is somewhere our intellect goes when we, you know. Those bloody Christian plagiarists!

We digress.

Let’s talk about ethics, baby.

Suffering is bad. It is pretty clear when something is suffering. You cannot just make that up. Let’s try and make other beings suffer less. Promise? Let’s all be nice. Being friendly is cool. Gotta be nice to one another. Kind of obvious. Maybe not. There are some dicks. Is being nice and friendly Good? We usually say so. To be good is in our actions, isn’t it? Aristotle once said in his Ethics “Fuck Plato”. Say you don’t eat meat. You think “animals are beings, beings suffer, suffering is bad. So, I won’t eat animals”. This reasoning makes sense, with the expression being understandable. Some could add another proposition to this. “Did you know that if we all stopped eating meat, animals could run around and have fun, just like us!”. All of us in society just need to try, try really hard. Lets all get to the Good. We can all be good. Then everything will be Good. Release all the animals because no one can touch them. The world of Forms awaits us!

We live a society, don’t you know?

Society exists. I think this is obvious, even to the contradiction of certain dead Prime Ministers. We live in a community. How do we get this magical goodness, can we give it to everyone? I think we should take a step back a little bit.

Turn off that light you twat!

Understanding who we are is important. We are kind of like ants. From your perspective, you laugh. Ants are uniform, they do many things in repetition. They have a community and they do stuff together. Pretty practical fellas. We are not ants, you shout at me. “Ants are like, you know…shut up”. We are so special. We can think and reason, build nice buildings, develop nice guns and big bombs.

Can ants bomb people?

Fly on a plane and stare down at us. It all flows. Shit like that. What do we look like from a plane? Ants. If all ants do the same good, do they get close to this Good we are desperately trying to find. Do we all just need to do the same thing? It is not to do with the ant’s actions when they go about their day. Its production. What does this bloke mean, I hear you think.

Let’s slow down.

Do you consider yourself virtuous?

Understanding production is key. I produce, you produce, we all produce! Karl and his mate, Fred, were once running around shouting about production (Think black and white photo, both had great beards!). Material production is what it’s about. Karl and Fred were once in Manchester. They were looking at all of history and they just said “that’s class mate”. Then we all lived happily ever after. Class is not cool. Back in the day, you actually had to do things. Produce real things. That imperfect chair had to be made by you, your mate, or the community. Depending on where, or who, you were born in to, you had to go to the factory or down the pits. You produced. Less so now. We kind of just sit at desks or waiter on tables. Less about the numbers, more about the smile. Smile!

Someone is producing those chairs and clothes though. Just not locally. Its good though, because kids have such small fingers, putting together that iPhone is difficult for adults. Thank god, or Steve Jobs (same thing really), for exploitation. I get to see my mates on a little screen! Winning.

This fella Teddy Adorno once said, “wrong life cannot be lived rightly”. What is he on about? Strange bloke if you ask me. Good reason to be strange though. He ran away from Nazis and saw the failures of the universal subject. What is this subject? It is the one who produces and works, they have the real power. Karl was saying that ages ago. Some chose Mussolini over Tony Gramsci! Criminal.

Ethics is about right and wrong. Teddy was taking the piss out of old Socrates when he said that. Philosophy is about trying to find the best way to live. Socrates, who would not shower even after everyone insisted, walked around ancient Athens asking people about the Good and the Just like he had misplaced them. No one could give him a proper answer and satisfy him, or make him shower.

But what if the world you are in is shit. I mean like proper shit. Like, when you go out with people for a drink and they only talk about where they work. But you don’t work there and you’re only mates with one of them. You are just sat drinking, not speaking. We are all not saying much and just drinking.

Can you do right when the whole context is just wrong for you?

Everything is about production. This production thing is owned by a few blokes. They are not good at sharing and they produce a lot of bullshit. The world is not full of beings just floating about doing their thing, alone in bubbles. Its all connected bro. No, seriously, the clothes you are wearing, the food you’re eating and the keys I’m tapping on, are produced by people, machines, etc. The ones who produce are not given their proper value. This world’s production sits on a foundation of wrong. I could have access to Plato’s world of wonders and be like super Saiyan lever of Good, but it would not change production here, on miserable old earth. Real change happens when we fuck with production. How? It is not about stopping you, me, or your nan from what they do. Of course, people have some responsibility, and generally should try to be good. The important thing though is that you know it’s about production, over everything else. If we want to change anything, we have to desire to change production’s foundations. You gotta question everything, like who owns all the fucking shit. Why is it all the same people, empty machines with no faces?

It’s not about virtue and the necessity of changing habits. It’s about the structures that are in place, which make certain behaviours easier than others. Being virtuous is expensive shit. Ethics is about practical creation. You are not a static thing. You are not an individual. You are nothing, and so you will always change. Becoming is the only certainty.

Knowledge of the Bad is accessible through production. In a world with a lot of wrong, you have to be able to know what the Bad is. The Good is hard, maybe unfathomable. You have to take on the machines. The rest is bullshit.

In a world that is wrong, brutal, and burning, there is little encounters with the autonomy of attention. Reality has ended and that is bad for us all.

*Platitudes Intensify*