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Imperial Blog 19 Harvest 4703

1
This blog is a first fragment of expression on The Social Contract in the context of Socialism and its Other. The content in the former link here (q.v), is worthwhile and mostly concentrates on Rousseau, generally acknowledged as the author of the term in his work of the same name ¹ which he defines as
"The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before". This is the fundamental problem of which the Social Contract provides the solution.
We would enlarge this statement of the problem that society solves, in a way which Binmore would characterize as being on the left side of the Egalitarian-Utilitarian dichotomy (he, Binmore claims to be a "whig" and to strike a (right leaning) compromise between these posited opposites³) by adding that the "good" society is one which attempts, as a goal, to solve the problem of providing both for optimal production of the goods and services demanded by the entire association, and that providing for the optimal development of each associate.
2
We frame the loaded expression "Socialism and its Other" to refer to the implicit understanding that forms of society where elites rule for their personal self-interest at the expense of the rest of society are in principle non-solutions of either the egalitarian or the utilitarian problem. That is to say they are travesties of the very essence of the concept of society.
3
In principle, such forms of association which today are universal on the Earth, with a "right" wing ranging from states like Saudi Arabia to the semi-facist order of the United States4 and a "left" wing ranging from the eroded Social Democracies of Europe to the Stalinist regimes of Cuba, China, and North Korea, could be solutions to the Utilitarian problem alone. Trivially but not optimally so when it is framed as providing for the good of the ruling elites at the expense of the rest of society.
3
In practice though, optimality (or technically, even suboptimality) is precluded, even for a nakedly asserted class structured social order, at least as currently consitituted, because the production possibilities are restricted by the capitalist mode as such. No significant production can occur outside of the the model of the production of surplus value, i.e profit, which takes the place of a generalized objective function even for the production of goods for the ruling elites. Any activity undertaken outside this model does so with whatever meager resources associates or associations may have to devote to such after thier participation in the existing common contract (i.e the one based on the extraction of surplus value). More importantly. many worthwhile purposes cannot even be expressed in the profit system, indeed most of the really worthwhile goals such as health, longevity, personal well-being and fulfillment, etc. only find sham and scam within the the framework of exploitation of labour as the ground purpose of society.

The analogy can be made to the lesser and more evolved stages of human history and societies within that progression. Even the poorest members of modern states are the recipents of items of production which the wealthiest members of primitive societies could never even concieve of.
4
We mean the attempt referred to at the end of number 1 above in more than just the empty nostrums mouthed by politicians of all stripes today. We mean an explicit program which can be taken seriously as a problem in an applied mathematical sense supported by the appropriate political framework. It is a given that such a framework will be in oppostion to the existing order which rests on the local domination of working peoples within the nation state framework and will involve a uniting of workers on a global basis to form the only force which can effectively oppose said order.

¹ The Social Contract. J.J. Rousseau. Published 1762. Available online at http://www.constitution.org/jjr/socon.htm
² Book I, § 6, The Social Compact, ¶ 4, G.D.H. Cole translation, quotes and italics due to JJR.
³ Game Theory and the Social Contract. Ken Binmore. MIT Press. Vol 2, "Just Playing", Ch. 4 "Yearning For Utopia".
4 "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

Flying Low

The flight home from Perth to Sydney has often been an emotional one for me, and today is no different. After three days of uncharacteristic changeable weather we took off under a cloudless sky, and as we jetted east through the dusk terminator at MACH 0.8, the sun went down like a bomb.

On one of my previous trips I made a point of going down to Cottosloe to watch the sun sink into the Indian ocean. It takes four minutes when you’re stationary. Today it seemed to take about four seconds. BAM. All that promise, all that warmth, all that life, drowning - like a photon being sucked into a black hole - and me on a collision course with home.

But this isn’t about Sydney.

I don’t know how many weddings I’ve attended over the years – probably about 20 – but this was my second Perth wedding. It was different from all the others in that it was a shotgun wedding, but the same in that there were lots of spirited yet boring speeches, tears, a stupid band and all the usual hoo-ha. About two thirds of the way through the reception there was the usual moment when it all turns sour (whether you’re drunk or not) and I had to make a few moments of solitude to avoid coming apart at the seams. I nearly got married myself once. Lord knows how I would ever have gotten through that experience.

The problem with weddings is that they put your life into perspective. Visiting Perth also does this. The combination is lethal.

The reception place of choice in Perth seems to be Fraser’s – a restaurant on the edge of Kings Park with a commanding view east across the bay. Last night I stood there looking out over the city. I could have been standing in the Total Perpective Vortex. Oh to be Zaphod Beeblebrox! Instead I fade into an infinitesimal dot and then nothing - emerging after a short while, scathed.

I think back to when I chose this life – nine years ago. I chose to put writing first, forsaking all other pursuits, jobs, relationships, hopes, dreams, pastimes... or at the very least relegating them to compete for second fiddle parts in my life. I chose solitude, contemplation, self-absorption when these guys chose friends, family and a happy, relaxed, outward focus. I built drafts and drafts of crap while they built homes and families and careers.

Now I’m jetting into the black hole of Sydney at MACH 0.8, writing… Can’t stop fucking writing.

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