A Film To Avoid

How art can help to save the planet……

Afterwards, I found myself reading voraciously, soaking up books not normally on my agenda in an attempt to understand how we had got to this point. I read books on American foreign policy, on "resource wars" and our obsessive drive for oil. I found myself reading Noam Chomsky. Cutting through the noisy fug and disinformation of Bush\’s America, Chomsky\’s voice emerged as a beacon of clarity.

Chomsky? Clarity? Not sure you\’re really onto a winner there:

What was the most important thing I learned from Chomsky? That capitalism compels us to work ourselves to death in order to stuff our houses with things we don\’t need.

Eh? The worst you can say about capitalism is that it provides those who wish to stuff their houses with the ability to do so. Quite where the compulsion comes from I\’m not sure: and those who want to say the compulsion is to keep up with the Jones\’ need to point to the causative effect of capitalism upon that, rather than the innate drive to compete in the social heirarchy.

There are other things art can do. It can imagine the unimaginable.


Artists can bear witness. We are free radicals in a way that scientists can never be. Humanity may be on the brink of disaster, but this could be an exciting, creative period, with everyone – philosophers, artists, politicians, bus drivers – doing everything they can to avert it.

Pseuds\’ Corner has a place reserved for this sort of nonsense.

Anyway, the film itself is her asking Chomsky questions and him answering them: with her questions taken out and a period of silence left in for viewers to interpose their own questions. Yes, this is art, Chomsky rambling to camera.

In fact, this is such great art that it should be put on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. But live you understand, not filmed. Live, 24/ for a few weeks. In February.

That should get rid of them both nicely, shouldn\’t it?

11 thoughts on “A Film To Avoid”

  1. “Quite where the compulsion comes from I’m not sure”

    Indeed, hence the downshifting phenomenon. Of course, the Left don’t view this as a valid choice. The view at HMRC is that downshifting is stealing the tax that one would have paid. The latest income shifting rules set the precedent that HMRC can hypothesise a market rate for individuals based on estimates of their skills, qualifications and hours worked. It is a small philosophical step to “deliberately depriving yourself of earning potential” and fines for lost taxes..

  2. Those income shifting rules sound rather scary, but if I am earning above my market rate, will HMRC give me a reduction in my tax bill? No, didn’t think so.

    Downshifting is, of course, a valid choice in a free society. However, I wonder how many downshifters are themselves of the Left, and believe that the government should be spending ever more money on schools, the NHS, etc. The people who excuse their lack of/limited contribution to paying for these with “I did my bit” (as if everyone could ever give enough for socialism to actually work) or “but I’m entitled to NHS care like everyone else”.

  3. Yes, this weekend gone, as I lay on my Swedish-designed sofa and watched the latest US films on my Chinese-made flatscreen TV, I cursed the global capitalist machine for forcing me to work myself to death so that I could own these things I hate.

  4. “We are free radicals in a way that scientists can never be”

    A more apt metaphor than she realises:

    “In animal tissues, free radicals can damage cells and are believed to accelerate the progression of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related diseases.” [from Answers.com]

  5. It is truly hard to imagine how one person could be so right (language and learning) and so wrong (political gibberish) at the same time. Chomsky remains an enigma.

  6. The things you own end up owning you.

    BTW Is Chumpski really right on language or learning? I’d say no.

  7. ACO, as a layman, I think the answer is yes, he’s right up to a point: there really are deep, non-trivial universals in language and language acquisition. Where he goes off the rails is in refusing to face up to the consequences of this in that a universal grammar in humans necessitates an evolutionary biology explanation (unless we allow appeals to magic). You can hear the exasperation in Stephen Pinker’s words when he takes Chomsky’s idea and runs with it. As a hard Leftist, the idea that there are innate human characteristics at the higher levels of cognition is unpalatable to Chomsky. For if we have hard-wired instincts at this level, wherefore the programme to re-build everyone in the image of the New Soviet Man?

  8. Yeah, it’s common form for artists to make exaggerated claims about their art in order to encourage continued patronage. Could be that, when all’s said and done, it’s the artists who are quietest about this, and don’t fall for this sort of nonsense, who write works that are the most enduring.

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