Here’s a second extract from my new book ‘Revolution’. Let me know what you think, any opinions you have and conversations you want to start, and we’ll discuss them in a Comments edition soon.
I talk to author and activist Daniel Pinchbeck about the future of our planet and the possibility of exploring new dimensions.
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Produced & directed by Gareth Roy. Thanks to Jimi Mackay: @jimimackay
and Urban Nerds: @urban_nerds for our creative services
When travelling in impoverished regions in galling luxury, as I have done, you have to undergo some high-wire ethical arithmetic to legitimise your position. If you can’t geographically separate yourself from poverty, then you have to do it ideologically. You have to believe inequality is OK. You have to accept the ideas that segregate us from one another and nullify your human instinct for fairness.
Edward Slingerland, a professor of ancient Chinese philosophy at Stanford University, demonstrated this instinct to me with the use of hazelnuts. As we spoke, there was a bowl of them on the table. “Russell,” he said, scooping up a handful, “we humans have an inbuilt tendency towards fairness. If offered an unfair deal, we will want to reject it. If I have a huge bowl of nuts and offer you just one or two, how do you feel?”
The answer was actually quite complex. Firstly, I dislike hazelnuts, considering them to be the verminous titbits of squirrels. Secondly, they were my hazelnuts anyway; we were in my house. Most pertinently though, I felt that it was an unfair offering when he had so many nuts. He explained that human beings and even primates have an instinct for fairness even in situations where this instinct could be seen as detrimental. “You still have more nuts now than before,” he chirped, failing to acknowledge that all the nuts and indeed everything in the entire house belonged to me.
Come to two ‘Revolution’ events in NYC tomorrow Tuesday 14th Oct:
3pm Zuccotti Park – See me reading excerpts from my new book. I’ll also be joined by some Occupy movement specialists and then marching to Wall Street with them.
Then 7.30pm @ The Strand Union Sq.