Gerry Reith on Processed World

What distinguishes Processed World is the amazement it instills in the educated reader, i.e. in how close and yet so far. The whole thing is tantalizing, clearly the product of people who have at least one finger on the pulse. The rest must be in their noses. They remind me of myself: someone who has in the past successfully battled his way out of paper bags and become convinced that there is nothing more to be learned. What a shock when you remember that you don’t know it at all! But this shock is not part of the correspondence, as the people responsible for PW seem not to have challenged a single one of their premises, or their own methods, since 1968. Dressed up in chic print, chic format — a magazine! — for the disaffected! — cute style — changing ink! how novel! — but does it redeem? — we recall French cooking of the middle ages that developed ever more complex spicing to compensate for rotted meat, game flesh. A slight redolence of decay pervades when the taste buds have grown accustomed to the spice, it peeks through once again the ignorance is just as thick.

Tom Euthanasia babbles about capital, information, industry, and the world economy without one single thought in his head beyond the unshakable conviction that since he thinks about such matters, he’s qualified to pass judgment on them. Whence cometh this feeling that the editors are completely competent to — let alone morally justified in! — exercising control over the entire world? The only objection they seem to think worthy of consideration is the one to the effect that they lack personnel and this is the whole point of PW: recruitment! The absurd arrogance is what will make this item a boon for future collectors and historians of the ridiculous and failed.

Of course, when they appear to approach consciousness of this contradiction, they roll out the “direct democracy” artillery, or this absurd councilism. They never face the contradiction that this produces: assuming global planning in accordance with their visions of propriety, how do we integrate the will of the councils? Do we assume they all agree with us? Or do we face the hell of competing world economy, a hideous free market, free of our control? They can worship computers forever, but they will never be enabled to plan any economy above the level of a small business — this being the source of their fervid, if soft-pedaled, anti-bourgeois sentiment — because even were you able to marshal all relevant data (and you cannot) your data communications devices are no substitute for judgment. People have always made errors even with all the relevant information at their fingertips, which is the bane of central authority and the luck of the lowly individual; it is a new conceit to think that a with a fresh word processor in front of you, you are able to be wise. Garbage in, garbage out. Humans are doing the input as well you know. Who are the anti-human here? The ones who do not aspire to control, or the ones who do so aspire, but trust themselves so little that they make a fetish of machines as a substitute for choosing?

Courtesy Popular Reality

Details on Bob Black’s The Baby and the Bathwater

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