Basic needs

Max Neef sets out a table of topics, that looks at Basic Human Needs, it makes a lot of sense and worth looking at. When you look through the list, apart from food and shelter, there is not a lot else we really need to keep ourselves happy. (That we are not capable of doing ourselves) Here there is no mention of billionaires; nuclear bombs, massive armies, celebrities, leaders, savours, television, cars, multiplexes, retail outlets, and the thousands of other distractions that blots out our ability to think normally, day in, day out.

What Neef is suggesting, is not that we all go back and live in caves – but for instance understanding the idea of pleasure, through, thought and awakening our own creative urge can reduces the belief in the myth, that we constantly need to find money to gain happiness. (which is the position most of us are trapped in) Lets face it – having a billion pounds in the bank is more to do with having power over others, than it is to do with happiness or needs. While having material things to some extent can bring happiness – but happiness is more to do with a chemical reaction in the brain that induces well-being and the same pleasure can be experienced whether you are a billionaire or you own nothing – Since a minuscule amount of us will be, or will have the opportunity to be even millionaires, why should we worry about it, or even care, or sit and watch endless TV programs about stuff and people that are not even near our lives?

Much of corporate business distraction is in place to stop people thinking about the idea that they can be happy through their own efforts. For instance – in a job that offers some creative challenge; a wage that meets the effort and sacrifice to make it – time after work spent in hobbies and activities rather than exhaustion and television – a rent or mortgage that doesn’t absorb most of what you earn – a place for your kids to play and places where teenagers can take-on and learn some of the responsibility of future adulthood – where they can grow and develop. This is far more achievable and I would argue more appealing to most people than the brain melt of television and the futility of the unattainable.

Manfred Max-Neef and his colleagues developed a taxonomy of human needs and a process by which communities can identify their “wealth’s” and “poverty’s” according to how their fundamental human needs are satisfied. As you can see below our needs are not that difficult to serve

Need Being (qualities) Having (things) Doing (actions) Interacting (settings)
subsistence physical and mental health food, shelter, work feed, clothe, rest, work living environment, social setting
protection care, adaptability, autonomy social security, health systems, work co-operate, plan, take care of, help social environment, dwelling
affection respect, sense of humour, generosity, sensuality friendships, family, relationships with nature share, take care of, make love, express emotions privacy, intimate spaces of togetherness
understanding critical capacity, curiosity, intuition literature, teachers, policies, educational analyse, study, meditate, investigate, schools, families, universities, communities,
participation receptiveness, dedication, sense of humour responsibilities, duties, work, rights cooperate, dissent, express opinions associations, parties, churches, neighbourhoods
leisure imagination, tranquility, spontaneity games, parties, peace of mind day-dream, remember, relax, have fun landscapes, intimate spaces, places to be alone
creation imagination, boldness, inventiveness, curiosity abilities, skills, work, techniques invent, build, design, work, compose, interpret spaces for expression, workshops, audiences
identity sense of belonging, self-esteem, consistency language, religions, work, customs, values, norms get to know oneself, grow, commit oneself places one belongs to, everyday settings
freedom autonomy, passion, self-esteem, open-mindedness equal rights dissent, choose, run risks, develop awareness anywhere


Culture Capitalism

“1990 has been a year of fun, piano-hallentertainment and enjoyment for the people of Glasgow and that’s what we wanted it to be.” (Pat Lally, former leader, Glasgow District Council)
“1990 was a year when an intellectually bankrupt and brutally undemocratic administration projected its mediocre image on to the city and ordered us to adore it.” (Michael Donelly, one- time assistant museum curator. Peoples Palace, Glasgow)

Culture is something through which we make sense of the world. The co-modification of culture as a business tool denies its greatest attribute to most, as a therapy and distraction from more harmful pursuits. Culture is a common good and should not be underestimated as a stabiliser of physical and mental well-being of a society. Deny people of their cultural life and you deny them a vehicle for their aspirations and their place in the world. Neoliberalism commodifies the therapeutic into a money value and destroys that which does not convert.

Cultural Colonisation

“In the light of the hard facts of life as it is lived by people at the bottom of the heap in Glasgow, it is difficult to see the ‘culture’ tag as being anything other than a sham accolade to help grease the wheels of capitalist enterprise and smooth the path for the politicians. It is little wonder working-class Glasgow remains unimpressed. There is widespread acceptance that it has nothing whatever to do with the working- or the workless-class poor of Glasgow but everything to do with big business and money: to pull in investment for inner-city developments which, in the obsessive drive to make the centre of the city attractive to tourists, can only work to the further disadvantage of the people in the poverty ghettoes on the outskirts.

The so-called Merchant City might be reborn but only for those and such as those: the well-heeled who serve and perpetuate the system and profit by the miseries and inequalities inherent in the system: the kind of people who now find themselves installed in central areas where the have-nots “who have not yet benefited from the Thatcher revolution” were long ago uprooted. The rest is just camouflage. Like the million pound spend annually maintaining security at the Burrell whilst housing-scheme squalor gets a pittance. Like the Regional Council laying out £62,000 to stone-clean the Talbot Centre’s exterior whilst the residents within still kip on the floor. That is your Culture City in a nutshell.” Farquhar McLay – Intro to “Workers City 1988”