Make sure to talk about all the point in the question and the discussions points. Thanks
Consider the two films shown in class “Night and Fog”, and “Mr. Tanimoto’s Journey”. What do you think are the salient similarities, if any? What are the crucial differences? Why?
2- Slavery New & Old
Bales notes that New Slavery is very different from Old Slavery. What are some of the differences he describes? What are the links between New Slavery and the Globalized Economy?
Bales also notes that there are things we each can do to end slavery, but that this requires taking a “very dispassionate look at slaves as a commodity” (Bales 250). Why?
Finally, he suggests that activism without a broad-based explanatory framework is worse than none at all. Why does he think so? Do you agree? Why or why not?
3- Human- The Film
How, if at all, does the film “Human” resonate with or reflect themes explored in What Matters? Which of the characters was most compelling to you, and why?
4- Culture and Power Create Scarcity
Recognize that power and culture are inseparable, one does not exist without the other, and currently the dominant form of culture is based upon industrial production requiring essentially infinite energy supplies – which do not in fact exist. So we collectively face a terrible problem. And yet the greatest burden of this problem is being borne by those least able to do anything about it, while at the same time those who benefit most from the economic inequalities imposed by the culture of industrial production and imposed scarcity are unwilling or unable to recognize that things cannot continue as they are. This is our dilemma; one we must solve now or ignore and risk facing unimaginable chaos later.
Concerned about the ultimate implications of his theories about space, time and energy, Einstein pointed out that 20th century problems would never be solved by 19th century thinking. Indeed, by the same token, 21st century problems will not be solved with 20th century thinking either. The same can be said for oversimplified false dichotomies between ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ and particularly ‘capitalism’ and ‘communism’. The latter pair of binary opposites are 19th century ideas while the former are legacies of the 20th century.
We are well beyond the political and economic circumstances that informed such artificially limited conceptualizations of the human condition in many, many ways. And yet, these same tired inaccurate philosophical cages are still supposed to encompass the almost infinite variety and subtleties of contemporary global and local political economies? This is essentially the problem Einstein was concerned with when he noted the conceptual poverty of such willed ignorance. Our technological capacity has outstripped our cultural mechanisms of maintaining social control (consider greed: how much is enough?) and exacerbated our ability to impose physically violent solutions to complex and entirely negotiable problems. Our challenge now is to reassert the primacy of compassion and respect for difference in the name not of sacrifice, but of abundance and better lives for all.
It seems that there is a striking disconnection between ideals of freedom largely understood in terms of free enterprise, and the values of concern for public health, or more particularly the well being of family, friends and community. Social science has long struggled with the problem of what Karl Marx called “false consciousness”, the curious phenomenon whereby ‘the proletariat’ (those who must sell their labor to survive) assume the values of ‘the bourgeoisie’ (those who own what Marx called ‘the means of production’ both financial and industrial). Marx tried to show why the ruling values of society are generally those of the ruling class by suggesting that the proletariat labor under a false consciousness, believing that if they play by the rules they will achieve upward social mobility, never grasping the grim reality that the rules are what in effect keeps them in their place, that following the rules means that they will always be members of the working classes.
Anthropologists have largely rejected this analysis in favor of a subtler conceptualization of inequality that takes culture into account. Social status is measured in a variety of ways, not just in terms of access to capital, goods, and/or services. Indeed, social class is but one form of social status, others are gender, ethnicity, and even personal characteristics such as charisma, or prestige. And the problem of false consciousness is not so much that people fool themselves on the one hand, and cunningly seek to deceive on the other, but that we all draw our conclusions from observations of those around us, an unrepresentative data set if ever there was one, and as a result rarely recognize that what appear to be individual troubles are actually broad phenomena, affecting vast aggregates of people from many different social statuses, ethnicities, etc. And what complicates matters is that individuals can often embody a dizzying variety of social statuses, depending upon context.
What examples from assigned readings and your own experiences can you think of to illustrate the ways in which norms and values (culture) combine to produce influence (power) which create and maintain poverty (scarcity)?
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