“The contemplation of things as they are without error, confusion, substitution, or imposture is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventions.” – Francis Bacon, 1605. (Dorothea Lange pinned a printout of these words on her darkroom door in 1933.) This is Hong Kong just before the protests, before people gathered in the streets to protest curtailment of their human rights. Faces in the street show regret, innocence, aggravation, anger, fitness, anonymity, acceptance, contemplation, joy, isolation — as if everyone were pausing with deep glances with the knowledge the life they lead might end soon, ennobling an idea they no longer take for granted, i.e., their own freedom.
Protests are underway in Russia. Tens of thousands of people are out on the streets. Are the current violations of human rights in Russia on par with Soviet-era abuses of power and misrule? Is Alexey Navalny an earnest reformer or simply a rival of Putin seeking ever greater power? The following journalistic piece hints at Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler” to shed light on Russia’s unrest.
What would happen to humanity and human behavior if our societies no longer relied on monetary value at all? Could we return to a barter system? Or, is currency and its use so ingrained in the human condition that all societal achievement and advancement would cease without it? Who are we without a system that encourages and demands production?