The drugs that are actually killing people here are primarily meth, heroin, cigarettes, opiates and alcohol.
Would marijuana not be added to that list if its usage were as widespread as alcohol and tobacco, though?
Not that you’re doing this, as you are including caveats, but I find the whole discourse around weed problematic. The potential medical uses are used as an argument for widespread use by (going by the users I’ve met) young people who just want to get high. They’re not using it to avoid seizures, etc.
Any notion that we should be endorsing weed for supposed health benefits or as something with which to self medicate needs to be challenged. Maybe it can be used in a medical setting (I’m actually quite hopeful that it can). But in the current set up, that’s not really what’s being proposed.
And considering the standard of education where I live (I can’t see why it would be much higher anywhere else in the west), most people are not nearly knowledgeable enough to start self medicating. Most people who I’ve spoken to who are in favour of decriminalisation/legalisation seem to be under the impression that because there are some potential medical uses that weed is somehow ‘safe’ and ‘good for you’. This is, of course, the intended impression from those who stand to profit from it’s legal sale but neither is generally true.
I’m all for decriminalisation, btw; as that seems to be one sensible tool in the fight against racial policing. (On the other hand, if it wasn’t drugs, the institutionally racist police would simply find another reason for racial policing, so….)
But otherwise, I think the whole issue needs to be approached with far, far more caution than it’s currently given (generally speaking). The decriminalisation point tends to be interpreted as ‘this is fine and deemed safe now’, but it’s not. As you say above, there are two competing bourgeois factions with a view on weed. Any progressive policy needs to be critical of both.
Strongly agree with the comparison with unhealthy food. Sugar and processed fats are possibly far more dangerous than weed, simply because they’re more-or-less invisible and ubiquitous. At least most people can’t keep a job and get high or drunk 24/7; there’s a natural limit to their use and to still ‘function’ in society (I’m talking about recreational use, here). That’s not true of sugar, which people can guzzle and consume every wakeful hour.
And if this is approached from an overall public health issue, we’re better off legalising most drugs, educating people about them, creating safe environments for their consumption, and – wait for it – adequately regulating working environments to (not exhaustively): (a) minimise alienation, which leads people to over indulge in all recreational drugs (especially alcohol); (b) prevent employers from forcing employees to be either sat down or stood up hours in end; and © prevent employers from putting employees in any position where they have to manage pain in the first place or risk starvation.
The problem is, the industry views aren’t at all concerned with public health but profits, and if we make progress down this regulatory path, public consciousness will already have changed to such an extent that everything is up in the air and open to positive change.
Then there’s the 20 year old athletes who market themselves as gurus. You can look like them if you just follow the advice. That may be true, but let’s see how they do in fifteen years, looking after three kids, working 45 hours a week at a desk (55 hours with the commute, and there’s no fridge at work), and not enough money for gym membership.
I’m not hating, btw; let the young be youthful and energetic. I’m highlighting what seems to be an industry assumption that everyone has as much free time and resources as they need, and the ‘problem’ is the way that out-of-shape people spend their time and resources.
This seems related to your observation, as the 20-year old who always played sport is going to look athletic with a moderately healthy diet, plenty of water, and a reasonable maintenance regime. Not quite as big as the guy on PEDs, but their fitness is not necessarily proof that they know what they’re doing. And it’s a bit different when other responsibilities pile up, but these tend to get framed as ‘excuses’ by people who haven’t lived with them yet. Some people do obviously manage to juggle everything, but it’s incredibly difficult.
They’re not content to provide what YouTube was created for. They just want that TokTok money but can’t figure out why they’re being outcompeted.
Plus, they’re ramping up the propaganda function now that the monopolies have been created and most internet usage comprises about ten websites (Google, Lemmygrad (this one was also voted number one in the Forbes), Reddit, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and now Chat GPT).
This is the first time the digital sphere has been almost entirely monopolised, though, and the ruling class doesn’t know what to expect. Hence they can’t just put the price up like they would with insulin, etc. Although they are experimenting with this, they’re learning that charging users and overdoing the adverts breaks the magic spell of the addictiveness algorithms that they had previously more-or-less perfected. So people just log off or disengage. Not entirely, of course, but it’s more fragile than was thought.
The big corps had everything nailed down, but the rate of profit declined and they ‘had’ to respond, leading to the current mess. The execs are flailing under the contradictions.
I think regardless of anything like a perfect solution at this point, the fact that all these things are options that could be considered and worked through is promising. It means that a radical reimagining of farming is possible, which will be needed, whether it’s to make food production for 8bn or 20bn people sustainable.
There’s also the energy saved from reducing car use, increasing public transport, no longer heating the private and hardly ever used indoor swimming pools of the rich, and no longer making so many pointless commodities.
There are also things that individuals (🤢 liberalism, sorry) can do to feed themselves if they had the time and education. Growing mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, etc. We’re so alienated from food production and time-poor (and poor-poor) in capitalism, though, that it’s hard to get started. The few things I’ve grown, I’ve not wanted to eat because of the bugs, etc. Ridiculous, I know, but this is the effect of a lifetime of all my food appearing sanitised in supermarkets. (That said, it’s going to take some serious un-alienating for me to eat food growing in my own sewage, never mind others’!)
I see that but if they had been allowed, material conditions would have been different…
Edit: just to clarify this because it might seem that I was doubling down, which was not my intention. I meant that for westerners to have been taught and allowed to humanise people they have been taught to other, it would mean that the material conditions were already changed. I did not mean that material conditions would have changed just because e.g. westerners were allowed to develop their own views without those views being influenced by propaganda. @TheAnonymouseJoker@lemmygrad.ml, you’re extremely right to point out that westerners simply thinking differently would not alter the contradictions that lead capitalists into endless wars.
I’m in agreement that we can feed 8bn+ but I want to query those percentages.
Does that mean China uses 46% of it’s arable land to feed it’s whole population? And does this mean that 54% is (i) used for exports, (ii) used for crop rotation, or (iii) potentially arable but not yet farmed?
It’s only the first option that implies that a huge surplus is possible and sustainable. The second option imposes a severe limit on how much else can be produced without relying on significant quantities of gas to make fertilizer. And while that reduces the need for rotation, this is a short term fix and absolutely destroys the soil and the nearby waterways, so is unsustainable in the long term. If it’s the third option, does this mean deforestation of established forests? That’s equally unsustainable and will lead to more endemics and pandemics as humans get closer to pathogens they’ve never encountered before.
Or could it also be that 20% essentially live on rice and a few vegetables, with the other 80% requiring (far) more than 36% of the arable land (plus imports) to meet a more varied diet? If so, the important figure is how much land is needed to grow a varied diet for the whole population, plus a surplus to export and to counter droughts and avoid famines in China and abroad.
If any of these challenges are on the right lines, China would struggle to double food production (1) sustainably, and (2) in a way that lets humans live fulfilling, healthy lives. A varied diet is also a public health measure, making public healthcare more sustainable. This all suggests a much nearer limit on population.
Remember, the abundance of food in Europe requires a landmass the size of India devoted solely to farming. Also necessary to remember is that capitalist food production is so incredibly wasteful and chaotic, and we don’t need this kind of abundance.
The rest of this comment is not related to your comment, jlyws123, but is a counter to the challenge that I now expect having written the above text.
Before anyone accuses me of being Malthusian, we first need to challenge and unravel bourgeois consciousness. I reject Malthusianism. The flaw with Malthusianism is that it’s internal logic ‘works’ with a population of 10 or of 10bn.
If population did reach 20bn or more, it would be horrifically wrong to not try to feed everyone. In capitalism there would be no attempt to do so, just as there is no attempt to properly feed the world’s current population. Malthusianism is not the only lens through which to look at issues related to population, though.
I predict that a communist world would be far more willing to live in harmony with nature without simultaneously blaming all the problems on particular demographics and concluding that those people are using too many resources. This may mean facilitating a population rise to 20bn+. But it may also mean population controls, although these would look very different and would come from the people. Most issues (if any) relating to population would be resolved by increasing living standards along a communist model, anyway.
Nice one! PhDs aren’t great for mental health. Keep active, eat healthily, and drink water so that you don’t compound the effects!
Have you come across Pat Thomson’s website? https://patthomson.net/ Loads of advice about writing your PhD and your first article, plus links to other blogs, etc.
She wrote two good books with Barbara Kamler, too. Detox Your Writing: Strategies for Doctoral Researchers and Writing for Peer Reviewed Journals: Strategies for Getting Published. These are both broad enough to cover most disciplines, but they might be more helpful for some disciplines than others. The second one has great advice for forming an academic identity and writing ‘tiny texts’ (abstracts written in such a way that they also do much of the heavy lifting for the first full draft).
I get that, about the news, and I experienced something similar. It got easier for me, after a while, as I started to see that the front story doesn’t matter so much. The real problem is capitalism, and it’s been the most lethal threat to us almost since it’s inception. So whatever the story in the cycle, it’s just a distraction, and not much more dangerous than the subject of the previous story. It’ll (almost) all be fixed with revolution.
That would explain where some of that $36bn paid for the meta verse went.
Edit: the problem has something to do with the type, length, and form of content on the different platforms. The length of YouTube videos is partly due to a deeply flawed commodity form. Content creators make increasingly longer videos, which are written solely with the purpose of selling products and services. It gets very boring very quickly. There’s a reason I don’t watch ordinary TV, and I’m certainly not going to subject myself to adverts just because the marketing execs figured out how to make an advert not look like an advert. For me, I don’t get turned off YouTube because videos are too long, but because the product placements make videos too long. It’s the same reason I don’t use Facebook or Twitter: the ratio between content and ads is far too high. For as long as these capitalists think their problem is TikTok or anything else out of China, rather than their own contradictions, they will never, ever fix the problem. Good riddance. Another symptom of the dying empire.
The pension system is such a scam in the era of capitalists fudging the employment figures by expanding education, etc. I started working at 15, but I didn’t start ‘working’ for a lot, lot longer. I’ll have to work for so many extra years to get a ‘full’ pension compared to someone whose life followed the ‘expected’ (read: bourgeois, false promise) model.
Even if someone goes straight through with a three year degree, they won’t ‘start’ ‘work’ until they’re 21, thus losing 5 or 6 years of contributions that they could’ve got if further and higher education were seen as part and parcel of working life. I can’t fathom why people accept that ‘Saturday jobs’ don’t count as real jobs. I’m going to have the biggest smug grin when all these not-really-worker workers realise the system falls apart if they don’t turn up. The bourgeois framework tells us that they’re separate endeavours, as if people in education are just on holiday, and most of the populace just accepts it.
Remember that the media is doing this on purpose. Previously, it did the same with Covid. Before that it was something else. Some time before that it was the housing crisis. Before that it was terrorism. It’s constant and purposeful. Try not to let it get you.
What’s the paper, like journalism or a school assignment? The blank page is your worst enemy. Write whatever you can for ten minutes. It will be rubbish. That’s fine. You can edit it later. Once you’ve written for ten minutes, two things happen. One, no more blank page. Two, ‘just another five minutes, while I finish this point’ and before you know it, you’ve done a days work.
embarrassed to admit that I don’t know what they’re talking about.
We all feel like this! There’s two options. Stay quiet and occasionally nod, and everyone assumes you know more than them. Or ask questions. I do both, depending on who I’m talking to. If you do lots of the nodding, over time, when you ask the question, you make the other person feel like they don’t know something—why would this genius who usually just nods along ask something now, unless I’ve been unclear or made a mistake? Use responsibly your power of being known as the one who knows everything.
There’s a knack to asking questions without making it look like you know nothing at all. I’m sure it’s just a few specifics that you don’t know about. In which case, ask very specific questions and people will assume that you know the broader picture. Or ask to make something clearer. With both ways of asking questions, your interlocutor will usually give enough context for you to get what’s going on. And you make them feel that they’ve had a constructive conversation, because most people like to show off what they know.
It sounds like you’re on the right path to accepting yourself.
I am not a psychologist or any other type of health professional. So this is not professional advice. Still, I think I have helped others to see themselves positively, so this might be useful for you. It can go two ways.
(1) If I’m there in person, I’ll ask them about themselves and make notes about all their characteristics, traits, etc. (This would be too personal for us to do online and I don’t want you to dox yourself.) Then I will go through this list, make it abstract, and talk through it. For example, they might at one point say, ‘I helped so and so with her work.’ I’ll talk in the abstract about helping others and get the other person to think about what it means to help others, etc. Then I’ll make the connection explicitly and say, ‘you said that being a good person means helping others, etc [include details of what they told me about the abstract idea], and look, you did this today and last week; therefore as a matter of fact, you are a nice person, regardless of what I think, so you don’t have to take my word for it.’
(2) If I can’t be there in person, I’ll suggest doing it the other way. Make a list describing the characteristics of a good person who should be proud of and pleased with themselves. Then consider whether you do anything that fits into the described categories. Then you have written evidence that you are a good person, regardless of whether other people are just saying things to be nice (which they probably aren’t; because people only tend to say things to be nice to make people who are genuinely nice feel better).
It can also be useful to do this with ‘bad’ characteristics, too. Because if there are things that you dislike about your actions, which you would like to change, then direct reflection will help you to act differently. I know that I can be quite blunt sometimes. I reflect on this and try to be less blunt (to little avail so far, but we’re all works in progress).
In the meantime, you might find this amusing: https://web.archive.org/web/20130131005649/http://isnt.autistics.org/ and this: https://web.archive.org/web/20130121084304/http://isnt.autistics.org/dsn.html
(I’m expecting some pushback on this comment. It will be welcome as I’m not entirely sure what to think of Wallerstein or the broad ideas that I’m about to lay out. This is also a rather one-sided, Anglo-centric description.)
You’re right to separate these questions apart, but the first statement should be a question, too: did the bourgeois overthrow the monarchies?
The bourgeoisie ‘overthrew’ the monarchies more clearly in e.g. France than in e.g. the UK only because the UK still has a figurehead monarch whereas the French are better known for collecting royal heads. But in both places (again, more clearly in the UK), the bourgeoisie did not so much overthrow the monarchy as the monarchy became bourgeois.
There is a common misconception that one day there was feudalism and the next day there was capitalism. Marxists tend to be more correct in their retelling of this narrative because they explain how capitalism grew out of the contradictions of feudalism. But sometimes even some Marxists imply a clean division between feudalism and capitalism. And this idea may lead to only half the solution.
Immanuel Wallerstein argues in Historical Capitalism that instead of a neat (albeit bloody) transition, there was a slow transformation of the aristocracy into a bourgeoisie.
I can’t remember if all this is in Wallerstein, so I’ll start a new paragraph to explain the broad idea.
Initially, the aristocracy was powerful enough to control the merchant class. But this did not last too long. Eventually, the wealth accumulated by those merchants began to give them power but not legitimacy. Legitimacy was only secured by bloodline.
Today, members of the haute bourgeoisie are usually the children of marriages between the aristocrats (who had legitimacy declining power) and the rising merchant class (who had wealth and growing power). For example, by marrying an aristocratic daughter to a merchant son, the aristocratic family would receive a great dowry, sufficient to continue living in luxury, etc, in a world that was quickly becoming dominated by merchant wealth; and the merchant’s heirs would receive legitimacy, in a world still dominated politically by feudal lords of one sort or another. When the couple had children and the grandparents died the parents and then the grandchildren would inherit the wealth, the titles, the family estate, and the power.
Eventually, the two classes were integrated and the logic of capital began to dictate that only the wealth mattered. The aristocratic titles were now essentially worthless. The senior European aristocrats had long since tried to curtail the power of the king. Bear in mind, kings may have ruled by divine right, but they were only ‘first among equals’ among the nobility because they were all related and so any of them could also feasibly rule with god’s blessing.
Hence the Magna Carta of 1215, an attempt to grant the nobility some protections from the king and the power to make decisions in an early parliament. It failed.
Over time, Parliament grew and developed but the king was still more or less in charge. Unfortunately for Charles I, he was as aware of his surroundings as are modern US politicians. He didn’t see that the monarchs were going out of fashion. When he wasn’t looking – or maybe he was looking but Parliament was willing to be a bit impolite – he lost his head by tripping over and landing with his neck underneath an axe. The politicians couldn’t believe their luck.
Oliver Cromwell (who was not a royal in line for the throne but was certainly of the ruling class) took over as Lord Protector. After he died, his son took his place but he was a bit crap, so Parliament eventually asked the exiled Charles II to be king. Then they remembered. Kings are a bit crap, too! How could they forget.
It took until 1688 for parliament to depose Charles II’s son, who became the next king (James II – or James VII if you ask the Scottish), after Jimmy, the daft bastard, suspended Parliament at a time when the bourgeoisie was gaining power. Luckily for James, he managed to get out with his head still on his shoulders, so he (IIRC) left England but was also, probably, careful not to go in holiday in the south of France anymore.
The politicians put the Crown on the head of William (and Mary) of Orange (a Dutch guy and potentially a relation of @DankZedong@lemmygrad.ml) on the promise that the new king would promise just to sit there and look like a king – because this would make countries look at England like it was still governed by grown ups – while Parliament did the real work and had the real power.
That Parliament was filled with the people I mentioned earlier, the children of the marriages between the aristocracy and the merchant (now bourgeois) class. Incidentally, these people are almost all closely related by blood to the current haute bourgeoisie of the US and of Europe. A report came out recently about the noble roots of most of the US’ billionaires. I’ll try to find it.
This takes us somewhere nearer to the answer to your other questions. Today’s European monarchs (I’m unsure about e.g. SA) are bourgeois. The rest is all a performance. Nobody seriously believes the UK king is either a god or appointed by god (or maybe they do, the Brits do seem a bit weird like that) nor does the king have any real power to govern his realm. But the royal family does have hundreds of millions of pounds sterling in capital.
At the same time, many of the politicians, being the children of the people mentioned above, would in any earlier era be called aristocrats and nobles. In fact, even in this era, half of them are Lords, Ladies, Barons, Knights, etc. Tony Blair pretended to abolish this system by banning hereditary peerages (a seat in the House of Lords just because your parent was a Lord or Lady) but now the ‘life peers’ just appoint their children on the way out. They’re all capitalists, though. Then just enjoy the theatre and pageantry.
As for the current role of modern aristocrats, without naming names they seem to like to play the role of paedophiles and of keeping paedophiles out of prison.
This long and rambly comment may answer some of your questions (but not as directly as I had planned). Essentially, it’s as you say, bourgeois with bells and whistles. But also, the bourgeois without the bells and whistles are the people who would have been aristocrats if they were born 3–400 years ago. Essentially the modern haute bourgeoisie are the descendants of those nobles who were wise enough to see what changes were coming with the dawn of capitalism.