July 13th, 2005


Unearned Neuroses

I bought a number of magazines for the trip to Max's wedding, and didn't actually manage to finish any of them (or either book, both since finished) on the trip. Today, I started on a magazine called Clamor, which had the provocative issue title of '101 ways to commit a crime'. One article had people write in with ways they committed a crime, and I found that kind of disturbing -- in some of them people were fraudulently buying or stealing things. In the next article, they described several groups that alter advertisements on billboards and the like, which I don't find objectionable at all. What's the difference? I think the key point is that a store is more property than a public space is, and items within it have a more legitimate claim to be owned. Billboards are manipulative devices put up in space that is essentially public in order to make an impression. The 'damage' is immaterial -- at best, it is over the nebulous notion of an impression. My approval of these things is presently more in principle than in action -- I'm not sure I'd be keen to alter advertisements myself, at least at present.

My predecessor visited me at work today, and, among other conversation, suggested I see March of the Emperor Penguins. Along with the remake of Willie Wonka, it's on my list of things I'm likely to see.

I recently read about the (rather pointless) skirmish between Britain and Argentina over some frozen islands in the antarctic area. Although the islands can be rather pretty, it seems odd to make such a fuss over them, for either side.

Persistance paid off, a bit, in a manner I am attempting to pursue. I wonder if anything will ever come of it.

Two interesting news bits from Al Jazeera. The first is largely comedy -- be sure to read the whole thing, because far more impressive than the headline is something else mentioned in passing that's practically impossible to do. The second sounds interesting -- imagine a remake of "Super Size Me", except with someone living so much as possible as a muslim for a month. As far as I can tell, it's part of this TV Miniseries. It probably will be worth seeing.


Weapons of Class Destruction

Another interesting thing in the recent magazines I've been reading, which in brief repeats a common belief within a lot of marxist thought that I think is wrong -- the notion that there is no war but the class war, and that government will be unnecessary after a successful rejection of selfishness inherent in capitalism. It is often claimed that after the revolution, be it peaceful or not, there will be no police, no struggle, and no state. All conflict within society is reduced down to and framed in terms of the class struggle, all other struggles being illusory. While a lot of struggle has class implications, human existence isn't so simple. There are many things we need police and prisons for outside of things that are directly or indirectly the result of capitalism, and reducing all struggles to class war simplifies the debate in as stupid a way as libertarians (mis)understand liberty -- we find a way that works, and then pretend it was our idea all along and rewrite history so it was obvious and people who disagreed were betraying the moment. That's a stupid path. Why, for example, do we need police, prisons, and preventative measures to deal with crime, outside of class struggle? Some people are criminals at least partly out of genetic damage or physical trauma to the brain that affects behaviour. People who are psychopaths, for example, cannot be expected to turn into angels under even the most fair government. Some people have a quick temper, complex ideas about honour, or similar, that can lead them into conflict with others that has nothing to do with economics. People also must deal with their nature, in that we're not always looking out for society as well as ourselves. Socialism will require people to make more demands of themselves, and we can expect there to be some difficulty with that, just as the degree of civilization we have now is in some ways difficult for us. In sum, there will always be crime, and we will always be struggling to improve ourselves, and some of us will fail quite badly along the way. Socialism is, it is important to note, a national enlightenment that requires enlightenment of the individual in order to be achieved.

In other news, I've been summoned for Jury Duty for late next month. This sucks -- I will need to be downtown from 8:3-16:3, with an average of 2-10 days. Sigh.