The Unspeakable: Understanding the System of Fallacy in the Media | Prof. JOHN McMURTRY (1998)

At the heart of informal logic is its con­cern to detect fallacious structures of reason­ing in natural language discourse. The nor­mal procedure is: where we are able to iden­tify a flaw in premise, inference, relevance or the like in any route of reasoning, we hold that a fallacy has been committed and we seek to demonstrate it. Otherwise put, logical analysis is directed at what is argued, and fallacies are found in this or that par­ticular way of arriving at a conclusion.

This method of analysis is indispensable to sound logical construction of individual arguments, but misses the overall pattern of assertion and non-assertion for the par­ticular claims within it. What has been so far overlooked is that reasoning can be mis­led not only in its steps of making a case, but by what is ruled out from being made a case: not only by what is wrong within this or that route of assertion, but by what is wrong with the structure of these routes of assertion taken together. We have, that is, missed the forest for the trees, or more accurately, for the logical landscape within which the forest and trees are located.

I will argue that there is a deeper, more comprehensive structure of subverting reason that misleads our thinking across propositional routes, and not through any fallacy of any such route. And I will show that this disorder obstructs and deforms our thinking and our reasoning by a general system of deception which has so far operated underneath the reach of our tools of logical detection and correction.

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Behind the Scenes and Elections: Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada | Prof. John McMurtry

As we know, big lies can run free across borders with few joining the dots.

For example, no media reports that China’s growing dispute with Canada is based on Canada’s enforcement of the Trump administration’s unilateral and illegal embargo against oil-competitor Iran. A cynical reply is that this is predictable. Canada attacks any designated US Enemy in junior partnership with global corporate command.

But this time there is a new twist. Canada is attacking itself without knowing it.

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The University Wars: The Corporate Administration versus the Vocation of Learning | Prof John McMurtry (2009)

Address to Faculty and Students

Neatby-Timlin Lecture Theatre

University of Saskatchewan

April 7, 2009

by John McMurtry Ph.D, F.R.S.C.

My experience of the university extends over almost half a century. For the first 20-odd years, I was worried the place was disconnected from the real world in self-referential guild specialties. For the next 20-odd years, I have observed the cumulative subordination of the university to corporate-market methods and to rising financial-management appropriation of public educational funds by central administrations – all with no accountability to academic standards.

This invisible occupation of the academy by a corporate agenda forwarded by central administrations within universities has been analysed by University of Saskatchewan’s own Howard Woodhouse in his forthcoming book, Selling Out: Academic Freedom and the Corporate Market.[note]Howard Woodhouse, Selling Out: Academic Freedom and the Corporate Market. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009.[/note] Tracking of this corporate invasion of the academy ultimately leads back to what is not examined – the unaccountable right of central administrations to spend public money on their own growth, privileges and salaries instead of the constitutional objectives of the university – advancement of learning and dissemination of knowledge. University presidents who once received a faculty member’s salary with a modest stipend now arrange with their business-dominated boards to be paid more than the U.S. President while incurring steeper debts and raising tuition fees for debt-ridden students.

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The Ten Principles and Action for the LIFE Economy | Prof John McMurtry (2002)

Excerpted from: Value Wars: The Global Market versus the Life Economy. London and Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2002., p 219-220

The Life Economy Manifesto

  1. Constitutional public accountability of currency and credit creation by 100 per cent reserves for private interest-bearing loans.
  2. Public authority’s allocation of investment funds, loan credits, interest rates and taxation levels to select for life capital formation.
  3. Internalization rather than externalization of costs of corporate commodity cycles by conditions of market sales, ban of all commodities of mass destruction, and application of precautionary principles for all market commodities.
  4. Natural capital inventories and well-being/ill-being index to measure and achieve the true efficiencies of economies.
  5. Repudiation of all debt of societies incurred without the consent of the indebted people or already paid by debt servicing, and institution of an international currency clearing house to prevent attacks on the means of exchange of sovereign nations.
  6. Repeal of all transnational trade and investment rules which abolish rights of sovereign nations to capital controls, negotiated performance requirements of foreign capital use of domestic resources, and retention of homeland ownership of natural resources, electromagnetic bandwidths, and public service budgets.
  7. Binding environmental-protection standards and schedules of accession in all international trade agreements to eliminate emissions of wastes by natural resource extraction, processing and commodities.
  8. All trade and investment agreements include as conditions of cross-border entry of commodity and commodity-contents into others’ national markets binding accession schedules of labour and social standards on the European Union model.
  9.  International corporate charter binding all parties selling or investing across borders to comply with minimum labour and social security standards, commodity cycle environmental protections, international standards of public communications across borders, minimum level of corporate taxations, maximum level of market share, and international criminal law.
  10. All loans across national borders be secured by hard-currency reserves deposited in a reserve fund as fiduciary authority for administration and extension of debt issuance in accordance with international standards of life-capital security and development.

Action: self-organizing life-space reclamation across misused arable lands, forests and fisheries, urban concourses and coastal waterways, public education, policy and other life-ground sites in accordance with codified life-standards.

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The Life-Ground, the Civil Commons and the Corporate Male Gang | Prof John McMurtry (2001)

ABSTRACT

Scientific and everyday language have long lacked generic concepts to identify the market’s underlying systems of natural and social reproduction. In consequence, expropriation and destruction of these ecological and civil infrastructures by monetised capital expansion has evaded understanding. This investigation provides the conceptual bearings required to understand what has occurred and its modes of resolution by explanation of the long overlooked “life-ground” and “civil commons”; their evolving “social immune system”; and a “life-value calculus” whereby to assess authentic social development and retardation. At the same time, the analysis explains the causal structure behind a world-wide degradation and confiscation of life infrastructures whose principal victims and resisters are unwaged women. Finally, the argument distinguishes the civil commons and the life-ground from notions of “the global commons”, “the life-world” of Habermas, and the now dominant concept of “civil society.” Throughout, the analysis draws on real-life examples to demonstrate deep infrastructures of human life advance and regression which have eluded the received paradigms of social and political analysis.

RÉSUMÉ

Depuis bien longtemps, il manque dans le langage scientifique quotidien de notions générals pour identifier les systèmes de la reproduction naturlle et sociale qui sont à la base du marché. Par conséquent, l’expropriation et la destruction des ces infrastructures écologiques et civiles par l’expansion du capital monétaire échappent à la comprehension. Pour expliquer ce phénoène et ces modes de résolution actuels, cette étude fournit une base conceptuelle des notions ignorées depuis longtemps, telles que la «base vitale», la «commune civile», le «système immunitaire social» qui en émerge, et le «calcul des valeurs vitales», notions par lesquelles on évalue le vrai développement social ou le retard. Par ailleurs, l’analyse démontre la structure causale entre la dégradation mondiale et la confiscation des infrastructures vitales dont les principales victimes et opposantes sont les femmes au travail non rémunéré. Enfin, l’analyse différencie la notion de la commune civile et de la base vitale de celles des «biens publics globaux», du «monde de la vie» de Habermas, et de la «société civile» qui dominent dans le discours présent. L’analyse se sert des exemples actuels pour illustrer les infrastructures profondes des progrès et des reculs de la vie humaine qui ont échappé aux paradigmes de l’analyse sociale et politique actuelle.

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US Enemies and the Lawless ‘Rule of Law’ by Prof John McMurtry

For weeks of front-end news, a China-Canada rift has gripped Canada. The story-line is endlessly repeated and runs like this: “Experts from both sides of the border agree that imprisonment of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is strictly abiding by the rule of law, and China cannot or does not want to understand how the rule of law works”.

The unifying plot is that Canada must continue to hold the CFO of China’s world-leading telecommunications giant in detention on behalf of a US extradition warrant to uphold the rule of law as sacred.

That it is an extra-territorial demand for no offense committed under Canada or international law is not reported. That the offense alleged is against a unilateral US embargo of Iran by its export controls to which Canada is not a party is deleted across the media and all official statements. Anyone who does not join into this ruling story or connects the covered-up facts of its story-line is drowned out and removed from the public eye, including Canada’s own senior statesman and well-liked ambassador to China.

In general, any revealing questions are silenced. All the legal parameters of the case dissolve instead into the empty slogan ‘rule of law’. Background editors of what can be spoken on the public stage ensure at every level that no diversion is allowed.

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Life-Value vs Money-Value: Capitalism’s Fatal Category Mistake | Prof Jeff Noonan

The 2008 financial crisis spread from Wall Street to the world almost overnight, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions, even though its causes had nothing to do with the production and distribution of any of the basic necessities of life. Instead, the crisis erupted because the financial system had become unhinged from its real function: supplying credit to productive enterprises. Finance capital increasingly made its money from complex “derivatives,” which are not claims on a company’s profit (as shares are) but on debts packaged and sold as investments. Immense profits were made, which provided the incentive to create more derivatives, causing debts to be piled on debts, all sold with guaranteed returns. Many of these derivatives involved American mortgages. Since these were backed by a physical asset (the house), they were advertised to institutional investors as highly secure, but the models assumed that housing prices would continue to rise. As it turned out, the housing market was a bad-mortgage fuelled bubble. When it burst, the “mortgage backed securities” became worthless, and banks from Athens to Iceland collapsed. Instead of having to foot the bill for their recklessness and greed, major banks were bailed out with hundreds of billions of dollars of public money. Workers lost their jobs, housings, and savings; Wall Street bankers paid themselves bonuses for the greatest failure of the financial system since 1929.

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MONOGAMY: A CRITIQUE | John McMurtry (1972)

“Monogamy” means, literally, “one marriage.” But it would be wrong to suppose that this phrase tells us much about our particular species of official wedlock. The greatest obstacle to the adequate understanding of our monogamy institution has been the failure to identify clearly and systematically the full complex of principles it involves. There are four such principles, each carrying enormous restrictive force and together constituting a massive social control mechanism that has never, so far as I know, been fully schematized.

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Good Love and Bad Love: A Way of Evaluation | JOHN McMURTRY (1992)

What is missing in the vast history of ideas about love, from Plato’s Symposium to Irving Singer’s recent three-volume study, The Nature of Love, is any philosophical grounding in the biological and the social structural conditions within which love and choices of love take place. Critical consideration of love as a relationship of perilous disease possibilities, of sexist power and dominion, or of proprietary control and repression is by and large absent from 2500 years of inquiry. What is also missing, in consequence, is the development of any adequately cognizant principle of value by means of which we can tell the good from the bad in love in the face of these problems.

In this analysis, I will begin by accepting as love whatever linguistic practice recognizes as love. Usage confers legitimacy on wholly different and incompatible meanings of love, from “altruistic devotion” to “bodily addiction,” from universal concern to private obsession. If there is a unifying sense to these meanings, I will not seek it. The evaluation here will not be in terms of what is and is not love, but in terms of what it is for love in any of its varieties to be good or of value, and what it is for love to be bad or of disvalue.

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Decoding the Market Destruction of Public Knowledge | Prof John McMurtry

Aeron Davis(ed), THE DEATH OF PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE? How Free Markets Destroy the General Intellect. London: Goldsmiths Press, University of London, 2017 (i-xi, 262 pages with Index)

By John McMurtry

The title and subtitle of this book tell the untold story of the neo-liberal era – a cumulative destruction of foundational institutions of public knowledge. This ‘free markets destruction of the general intellect’ (subtitle) is described in 15 chapters by 20 authors. Its method is empirical and copiously referenced, but with no second order level of theory to join the dots. Yet every chapter provides a significant substantiation for a yes answer to the title’s arresting question.

The degeneration of ‘the general intellect’ of society across borders does not delve into what draws increasing attention concern today and supports the book’s case – the growing incapacitation of the millennial generation to perform operations of thinking through on their own. While research increasingly indicates that the wireless generation are cognitively/affectively locked into their i-phones, facebook, twitter, computer games, and ever more non-stop exchanges and hits from separated life places – oxymoronically called ‘social media’ – this is not an issue of this study. That attention spans measurably decline in substance and length by electronic-screen captivity is certainly relevant to the decline of ‘the general intellect’ of society, but is only a silent background to what is examined case by case in this collection – the destruction of institutional public knowledge. The authors refer to the “privileging of speed, technology and homogeneity – – [in] recycling journalistic content on BBC online services”, for example (p. 55). Yet the electronic revolution itself is only glancingly taken into account. The question is thus not posed of whether the electronic-media revolution itself has propelled the marketizing degradation of public knowledge.

One might argue on the work’s behalf, however, that market totalization has selected forever more velocities and volumes of commodities and commodifications with no limit, and so the electronic media revolution has fitted like a glove to the marketing invasions everywhere in the public sector – which is the book’s main concern. But this underlying line of inquiry does not arise. Nor, relatedly, does the issue that hard copy foundations themselves disappear in the pervasive marketing electrification. Most profoundly, as the commodification of society’s civil commons advances – even of language as commercial property – any common life-ground is eliminated. As social communication becomes more dominated by advertising and corporate sellers invading ever more of society’s policy discussions, information sources, sports, arts and news as marketing sites, citizens are reduced to atomic consumers rather than joint participants in understanding and effecting the common life good. Beneath notice, the very bases of public choice are erased.

The destruction of public knowledge on which this study is focused is not, however, on system-structural abolition of the public world itself. Nor does it conceive of the marketing elimination of any common life ground at all. More specifically, the degraded downstream effects are addressed in regard to instituted public knowledge. The privately-owned communications technology enabling super speeds and volumes of messages and data to spellbind higher public offices themselves is not a causal mechanism that is examined – even as it advances into control of citizens’ every move and decision. For example, my Apple i-phone (just given to me by my children) travels by publicly owned electro-magnetic spectrum and bandwidths, but locks on me again and again demanding it “can only help you if you choose home apps”. One must connect to some marketing repertoire, or the phone turns off – until a fuss is made. The future here shows itself at another level of the ‘market destruction of the general intellect’ – a total market-computerization of citizens in which every life choice and function is reduced to commercial-machine control, changing prices, and one-dimensional options.

While most people may sense that capitalist marketing lies behind the systemic loss of social and planetary life bearings on many levels, this dissolution of shared life coordinates through time is heretical to examine at its base. The ‘general intellect’ is blocked across siloes, expertises and narratives ruling out any comprehensive life frame of reference. The notion of any unifying meaning is has come to be repelled within even the academy as an oppressive thought. Marxism remains essentially stuck inside industrial mechanics with no determining life-ground or life capital base. What this book’s analyses show is the pervasive drivers of total marketing and privatization destroy the public institutional environment so that all reliable public bearings are lost. What is destroyed is the once sovereign state upon whose facts, findings and evolved public-policy parameters were once authoritatively available, reliable and above private-interest selection, slanting and erasure.

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