“In Praise of Idleness” and Veganism

40 years ago I read Bertrand Russell’s “In Praise of Idleness,” an essay he published in 1932. The piece was already 40 years old when I got around to reading it — 40 years later I reread this essay, perhaps under visitation of some Jungian synchronicity. Reading it this morning allowed my imagination to stagger — where have I read a better statement on redressing an injustice: the theft of productivity gains? My tentative answer — “nowhere more succinctly.”

First of all : what is work? Work is of two kinds : 
first, altering the position of matter at or near the 
earth’s surface relative to other such matter ; 
second, telling other people to do so. The first kind 
is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant 
and highly paid. The second kind is capable of 
indefinite extension: there are not only those who 
give orders, but those who give advice as to what 
orders should be given. Usually two opposite kinds 
of advice are given simultaneously by two organized 
bodies of men; this is called politics. The skill 
required for this kind of work is not knowledge of 
the subjects as to which advice is given, but know- 
ledge of the art of persuasive speaking and writing, 
i.e. of advertising.

Source

I’ve alluded to Russell’s essay “Nice People” several times now. Actually it’s becoming a commonplace theme here.

I checked out the marvelously titled “Why I am not a Christian” from a West German library in 1971 Giessen — the librarian was not, not, not in the least amused. Not.

Das ist Blödsinn. Totaler Blödsinn.

how.to.love.and.eat.animals

I took up my practice of living iconoclastically shortly (about ten minutes) after graduating from high school — I’d completed 12 years of mandatory Catholic education and needed to discover why free thinkers were so despised by non-freethinkers.

By my estimation vegans are free thinkers who believe that all sentient beings are fellow free thinkers, Genesis 1:26 notwithstanding. Being a vegan just may qualify you as iconoclast. Hold that thought a moment. I’ll be right back…

Hey, it does qualify you as iconoclast.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

I am convinced that veganism is the gentlest means for solving the ever unaddressed need for addressing global warming. It might even nip a certain extinction event in the bud: The Anthropocene. Is it possible that 7 billion homo sapiens consuming 70 billion animals (from fur to marrow) annually — a practice sanctioned by most religious institutions — might warrant more than a shrug?

Look here, Bill. Humans are created in the image of their maker. Read Genesis 1:26. ’nuff said.

Today’s bumper sticker suggestion:

Meatism kills. Veganism nourishes.

Was Venus once a lush planet? Are we preparing to become a one such once-lush planet?

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Nice People Explained: Bertrand Russel

I first read Bertrand Russell’s essay collection Why I am not a Christian In the early 70’s. One essay that affected me in particular, and that still intrigues me is Russell’s “Nice People.”

Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forum excerpt:

— Quote from: “Mike Foster” —I’ve been reading Why I Am Not A Christian, And Other Essays by Bertrand Russell. In it, he launches a fairly sarcastic – even scathing – attack on ‘nice people’ in a c1931 essay called . . .’Nice People’! He talks about people who think they are nice as often indirectly selfish, unappreciative, aloof, deceptive and inclined to exercise power indirectly through gossip etc.

It’s been a few years since this essay was published, but I am quite humbled at its timeliness. A great touchstone indeed.

Bertrand Russell

“Nice People” rather reminds me of Jonathan Swift’s bombastic apologist in Gulliver’s Travels. Swift’s finely pompous character is merrily describing the land of his birth. His pride at its prowess is figuratively exceptional: sufficient to pop his vest buttons, had he been wearing a vest. Let’s imagine they are gold buttons to polish the metaphor. So he extols the virtue of his beloved British Empire at considerable length. Russell waits, as did Swift, until the very end of his writing before telling us the salient distinguishing feature of these very nicely described Nice People. Unfortunately they have nasty minds.

Nice people may also be found among those affecting membership in “The Silent Majority.”