“Doing good is good” or how I learned my grandfather maybe was an existentialist

Filed under: Stuff... pfu... — Ilias Bartolini at 11:43 pm on Sunday, October 26, 2014

I remember when I was a kid and knew I did something good I was always running to my grandfather to let him know about my novel achievements.
Probably because the day after he would have brought me a chocolate or few coins that I could save, but mainly because he had always some good encouraging words for me.

He used to tell me in those occasions “Fare bene è bene”. A sentence which translates to “doing good is good”. From this picture a bit romantic of my grandfather I like to imagine that he was an existentialist but he didn’t knew it.

Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre would tell us that doesn’t matter only how we act, but we always “choose” to do it, and we’re responsible for that choice.

For example, you probably were just browsing the web, jumping from a link to another.
Maybe you were just killing your time; maybe with the hope to find the answer to your question; or maybe hoping to be accepted by the people you love.
You had a “choice” to skip this article or to start reading until here. This has been your choice.

Gary Cox starts his book “How to be an existentialist” in a similar way, stating saying that to become an existentialist you don’t need to just read about the theory of the existentialist philosophy from Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre or Camus but also start acting taking responsibility of you choices.
Existentialism is rooted in a theory of conscience, but theory and practice are both necessary.

The major learning I took from existentialism is that the individuals are always free to choose. That sometimes it might not be easy choices, there might be unconscious elements, but is always within our possibilities to choose.
Existentialism in practice results in affirming our free will and stop making excuses.

Accepting this responsibility is the one that can start driving us in living a more honest, more just and more moral life.

When we avoid making a choice, in reality we choose to “not choose” and for this we’re still responsible. So we’re not only free of choosing, but condemned to be free to make our choices.

Today we live in a culture of shortcuts, of everything “here and now” that brings us accusing others, the government, the system or everyone else except ourselves.

Part of existentialism in not about having answer to every situation, is also about realizing that we don’t have certainty of many things, but keep doing our choices in a responsible way. Existentialism need to support uncertainty but with a continuous pursue of authenticity and accepting the current situation.

Image picture of a conversation between Simone de Beauvoir Sartre and Che Guevara in Cuba 1960

Jose’ Mujica, philosopher, former guerrilla fighter and president of Uruguay said in an interview that for him happiness is “vivir de acuerdo como se piensa” (to live in accordance to how you think). In this perspective to me means to start acting in a way follows our informed choices or for Sartre means to pursue authenticity. Authentic existence involves the idea that one has to “create oneself” and then live in accordance with this self.
Authenticity is not only a personal matter, but it also involves our authenticity in relation to others. One of the ways the individuals avoid responsibility and truth is by keeping themselves in a state of ignorance motivated by fear and anxiety to face reality.

At the core of our freedom is the freedom of choice; and the consequences of choices are our actions. Actions are therefore the result of our human existence. Sartre wrote “To be is to do” to summarise the importance of actions in existentialism.

It’s part of your choice if we want to learn about existentialism, decide if you want to become an existentialist or ignore it.

Probably my grandfather never had a chance to read about Sartre but he always kept telling me that “good” needs acting in good ways and it is now my responsibility to choose to remember and follow his advice …even if I will not receive chocolates anymore :)

Rage against the system

Filed under: Stuff... pfu... — Ilias Bartolini at 1:30 am on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There are moments in the last couple of years that are recurring more frequently.
Image picture of <a href=

Are moments of rage.

I’m trying to write this down so that I can understand it better.

The more I learn about injustices, the more is getting difficult to cope with their reality.

We live in a extremely unjust system: capitalism, global poverty, consumerism, climate change, concentration of wealth and power, unequal distribution of basic social services healthcare and education, global surveillance, intolerance against minorities, gender injustice, racial prejudices, wars propagating across decades, and more, and more… a long list of interconnected social issues.

Most of us, privileged, keep following the rules of this system.
Most of us, privileged, are embedded in the matrix, keep hiding to ourselves the unjust truth.
By lying to ourselves we keep acting as an ingenuous source of unintentional consequences that propagates in this system causing on the other end suffering, despair, death, injustice.
And I feel like sometime it’s easy to identify the individual causes of injustice but most of the times I cannot blame anyone in particular, that the problem is just propagating in the complexities of our social system.

Sometimes there’s a part of despair in me due to the inability to react. Despair that doesn’t last more than few seconds: it becomes rage.
There are moments that my inner self wants to scream against all of this. There are moments that I actually scream in my little silent closet.

I believe in dialogue, compassion, reconciliation, non-concentration of power, anarchy, peaceful civil disobedience, suspension of judgement and all… all of this situation makes me angry. I’m angry that this feeling of rage becomes the only alternative and that this feeling is causing a contradiction to the above beliefs: rage does not lead to dialogue and reconciliation.

I still keep embedding myself in the system, I still lie to some of my beliefs and I find difficult to resist to its forces.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning accepting the daily wage slavery and going to collaborate within organizations that do not stand on the same side of my beliefs. By doing this I also know that I’m getting influenced, or better, infected again by traditional behaviour, moral codes and beliefs… and it’s difficult to stand against all of them.

I started keeping a little note in my pocket with me that says “I wake up“.
It’s an awakening process that took years and I fear one day I will begin to accept going back rather than wake up again.

Sometimes what keeps me going is the hope that at the end of the day I’m doing my best to ethically steal to the rich guys in the Global North to contribute back to the ones in need in the underdeveloped parts of the Global South. Another reaction that is in contradiction with my core beliefs: virtually stealing instead of dialogue.

I also think that standing in this situation is an excuse to keep lying to myself, that in reality alone I’m too weak to contrast this system, that I’m not brave enough to start more openly disobeying against it so I keep partially embedding myself into it.

These are my moments of rage against the system.

There are moments in which we might feel powerless, but we are not.
We need to come together, organise, explain and support each other against the threats in this social system.

We need to come together as a new system to defeat the system.

Image picture of PRIVATE Photo Review cover of #42 on Social Issues
Photo by John Lambrichts

Why Network Neutrality is not enough: Network Equality

Filed under: Stuff... pfu... — Ilias Bartolini at 7:22 pm on Sunday, April 27, 2014

I’ve been assisting for the last few days at the debate during the preparation and development of NETMundial. A conference held in Brazil to discuss principles of Internet governance and digital rights.

One specific idea that puzzled me is listening to progressive voices supporting NET Neutrality: a concept of ” equal technical treatment of all protocols and data”.
Does this mean we’re treating equally the people at the two sides of this conversation?

Do you think that the privilege to access educational content of a teacher in a rural area of Africa should be the same of a middle class white male in New York watching his favourite TV series?

Which connection should I drop first when resources are limited? Should I privilege the middle class man not interrupting with a “buffering” message his favourite program? Or should I privilege the rural teacher not having to download again a freely (as libre) available MIT open course material (assuming his electricity has not been cut meanwhile)?

Unfortunately the progressive voices today are supporting Network Neutrality thinking this is the optimal solution for the Internet.

What I would prefer is a concept of Network Equality where unprivileged have privileged access and where Internet activities for the common good should be privileged above the ones for private interests. Some people would prefer to call it Network Justice but I’ll stick to the name Network Equality because is the one I heard coming up a couple of times.

Network Equality is “non-Neutral”

What is the risk of a “non-Neutral” network?
Power will take over control. I’m not naive and I can recognise that a non neutral network today has a bigger risk of getting under control of the private interests and structures of power to keep growing their privilege.
Neutrality is against voluntary discrimination.
This is why today we need Network Neutrality.

While I keep supporting Network Neutrality in the current state of the debate I think we should also acknowledge that is not enough.
Inequalities are considered in the current document of NETMundial only in the part that discuss accessibility for people with disabilities.
Network Equality is probably non-practically achievable and utopian, but this does not mean we should keep ignoring the inequalities we’re encouraging when we’re advocating for neutrality.

Network Neutrality is ignoring the issues of access and privilege. Network Neutrality in neither good or bad. Network Neutrality is unjust.
I believe we should try to make choices that are for the common good.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
- Desmond Tutu

If there’s one important contribution to NETMuldial you should listen to is Nnenna Nwakanma speech:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KemK8YbHrI&t=2107

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