Two days of bliss. I'm just really happy recently. It's a complex happiness,in a complex situation, but is quite good anyhow.
Monday evening, went to see The Corporation, a film I'vebeen hoping to see for awhile, sequel in spirit (although not in authorship)to Moore's F911. It is, however, a much better film than F911 (which wasn'tbad), and actually managed to make me angry. The film dances around being, andis almost, a life-changing film. Perhaps it would be to some people. Itshoves me towards almost all my positions on politics, and involves a number ofgroups that I'm involved with in the production of the film. After the film,there was an ACLU-led discussion, where they argued that corporate free speechis a good thing because it's hard to distinguish political speech that'spublished by a corporation (e.g. the movie itself) from advertisements and liesthat corporations put out. In the discussion afterwards, I suggested thatlawyers could probably design a multipart test (as N suggested, perhaps based onties to income, or I now think, focusing on brand image targeting of therelevant companies) to distinguish the former from the latter. It was enjoyable,but also reminded me of the deeply Libertarian roots of the ACLU. Thealternative -- removing the notion of corporate personhood, seems better though.The historical information, and information about many of the scandals, areno doubt likely not to believed by Joe Random at the film, but many of themare things that I've followed through one means or another, and only rarely didit seem that they were actually being unfair. So, go see it. Note especially theinteresting comment by Michael Moore (who was in the film but didn't produce it)at the end.
I find myself wondering if this is a new secret weapon of the liberals inpolitics - blatantly political films. I imagine that the conservativecounterpart would be an instant flop (despite Disney's best efforts), and thatF911 and this film both may be effective tools to recruit and inspire peoplefor Liberalism. After the film, N and I had an interesting discusion, at thetree, about political convincing and philosophical eye-opening. I personallythink that people much older than us are best seen as secondary targets forliberalizing -- the best time to focus our efforts on is secondary andpostsecondary education.
Yesterday, we went rollerblading and then climbing. This was my first timerollerblading in many years (and my second time ever), and it was veryenjoyable. I seem to have the motion pretty well down to move, but am notso good at stopping yet -- I have not yet fallen, but also have not learnedto use the brake to stop. Instead, I point my feet in and push my legs out,using side friction to slow down.. or I stop by grabbing something with myhands. It is a joy to move on the blades. If I ever get really good at it,as natural as riding a bike is now to me, I can imagine rollerblading towork or something. It's novel exercise, and I feel muscles being sore that Idoubt I've ever exercised to any significant extent before. The rest of theevening was enjoyable too. I wish I could save this chunk of time, or thisfeeling, for the rest of my life. You never know what the future may bring..
Why is it that it's seen as a huge and wonderful thing to serve in the military,but such a position is not given to those who act as a teacher, social worker,or others who, I believe, contribute more to society? These people don't enjoythe nice salaries and perks of military life, and give of themselves far morefor a far more important good. War veteran? Sure, whatever. That's not howyou earn my respect. We need a military, sure. It's important that they beeffective, sure. They are, however, just there to keep society going inemergencies, and are generally less useful than police, and far less sothan many other professions. Awesome military and so-so arts or science versusawesome arts and science and so-so military, I'll take the arts and sciencepath.
For an alternate point of view on The Corporation, and the topic of thenext meeting of the Generalists (philosophy group I'm in at CMU), there's thepremise, "Pop culture is good for us", and an article to open the dialogue.As the ACLU guy made an interesting point -- we must have tests to prevent aslippery slope of corporate free speech restrictions ending up stifling otherkinds of free speech we cherish, the article promises to make us think aboutthe meaning of culture, and media asceticism. It may be unfair to compare theTaliban to people such as myself who are largely anti-commercial-media.There's a difference of method and of ends, and actually a difference ofeffects too. The Taliban was, as I understand it, against music in the generalcase, whereas in my ideals, music would be available but decommercialized andwithout ownership. Moving to ends, I don't think that asceticism, enforced fromabove, is a solution to society's ills. Well, at least I don't think I thinkthat -- I don't think the recipient should ever be at legal fault, but ratherthat the producers who create needs are the problem, and changes to the economicsystem should be made to put an end to that industry. A mild asceticism, whichmay just take the form of anti-consumerism (simple idea, huge effects on one'slife) is indeed something that I think will solve many of society's ills.Further, and here is where I disagree with many historical revolutionary groups,I feel that the revolution must be, in many ways, liberal. It is easy to confusea vision for an ascetic, liberal society with either a return to old formalismsthat are racist, gender-distinguishing, and religious, or to new formalisms thatare just as stifling and harmful, e.g. Stalinist states.
Finally, as part of the normal discussion over sweatshops, it is often claimedthat they're a benefit to the countries in which they reside, as they offerjobs to those who would otherwise starve. The counterclaim is that in suchcases, the country has generally reorganized its economy in order to interestinvestors in coming in, as well as destroyed communal resources, thus creatingthe kind of poverty and joblessness that the sweatshops then *generously* cometo fill. I'd like to really understand the counterclaim -- determine if it ishonest, and if so, what mechanisms are used and how can it be most easilyargued. If it is not an honest counterclaim, what still should be done, andare sweatshops still a problem? Hmm. Given the secrecy and harsh labourconditions, and their use as an environmental law dodge, I'd say they still are.