Patently Absurd

in Deep Dives3 months ago

Who doesn't know the story of Pinocchio? Taken at face-value this is an absurd story about a living wooden puppet that wishes to become a real boy, has a cricket that travels with him on his adventures as his conscience, transforms into part donkey halfway through the story and is granted his wish of becoming flesh and blood by a blue fairy at the end.


pinocchio_small.jpg
source: Flickr

The version we all know is from the 1940 Disney animated film; not so many of us know that the original story is much darker. In the 1883 Italian children's novel Pinocchio gets Geppetto, his would-be father, arrested, he kills the cricket and is hung to his death at the end of the story after having disappointed the blue fairy twice. What I remember most about the story I grew up with though, that's Disney's version (I'm old, but not that old :-)), is the place called "pleasure island". Pleasure Island was a kind of promised land for children, where they could do anything they want, and there was an everlasting mountain of the sweetest candies. That place, even though it was ultimately a bad place for bad children in the famous story, is how I wish our world to be today. Our world is like that absurd everlasting mountain of candy. It is, really; we have more than enough food, houses, cars, cellphones, water, you name it and we have a large surplus of it. There is no need whatsoever for any individual on this planet to go hungry or homeless. If only we would let go of that absurd system called capitalism...

I know that I'm a little bit of a radical here when I say that I truly believe that everything and anything needed for a life of dignity should be free. I'm a radical when I say that there's really no need for much of an incentive for people to want to contribute to the community they're part of, the community that produced them; there's certainly no need for the threat of abject poverty to motivate people to work. As I see it, we need to live in order to work, not to work in order to live; those days are long gone. But I know not many of you will agree. But I hope you will agree when I say this: if there's anything that should be free and accessible to all of us, it's knowledge. For us, as a species, to reach the point that our planet is a global Pleasure Island, we've shared knowledge. The sharing of knowledge is what brought us this far. There are no Great Men that are solely responsible for the knowledge and inventions that allowed us to conquer the planet; all those so called Great Men built upon the knowledge of the giants whose shoulders they stand on.

But that absurd system called capitalism has this irresistible tendency to commodify everything; everything has to be turned into something to be sold for a profit. Even knowledge has become something that has to be protected like private property, something that can be sold for a profit. We've coded this absurdity into law under the titles of copyright, trademark or patent, and right now, when millions of people are dying and there's a world-wide shortage of vaccines, the patents of producing that vaccine is heavily guarded so that local producers in poor countries can not produce it themselves. The pharma-giants like Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer see no need to relinquish their knowledge of how to produce the vaccine, not even when millions are dying unnecessarily; that should say something about how absurdly inhuman this system is. It's even worse though; the research done for these vaccines has been paid for, in large part, by public funding; that's your tax-dollars. It's the same with iPhones; most of the technology in your mobile has been developed with public money. Still privately owned companies get to hold the patents that are needed for humanity as a whole to thrive. Before inviting you to listen to professor Richard D. Wolff in the below linked video, the first eight minutes of which revolve around the subject of patents and vaccines, I'll quote his last words on this absurdity: "Think about it: if ever there were a case of capitalism versus the needs of this planet's people, we are staring it right in the face right now..." It's well worth your time to watch the rest as well by the way, as he talks about Cornel West, Elizabeth Warren's wealth-tax proposal and more.


Global Capitalism: March 2020-March 2021: Covid and the Crash


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