1.22.2009

Please Read This
Please. 
Please. 
Thank You.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll have to print this off to read when I'm not at work....thanks for posting!

Siemova said...

Yes, thanks for sharing! Good stuff, aside from the "free market" talk. We do not have anything near a free market in the US, and Berry's description of the concept is rather misinformed.

We're stuck on oil because of the government, not in spite of it. And there's nothing wrong with economic interdependence; it allows nations to specialize production based on their resources and supply each other with things that are lacking. The problem comes when government is in the pockets of corporations, and uses its power to give certain businesses or industries an advantage. Our government sets much of its policy to benefit particular sectors of the market at the expense of others, not by opening the market but by passing laws which favor huge corporations and stifle the efforts of smaller businesses or individuals who might otherwise compete through innovation. This keeps supply limited, prices artificially high, and alternatives difficult to come by. And then of course there's the whole issue of a fiat monetary system, which not only turns us into a nation of debt slaves but also necessarily devalues over time, making us progressively poorer. On top of that, 2/3 of our earnings are taken away in the form of taxes (income tax is only a small part of it), meaning we have that much less to spend toward charitable causes or the improvement of our products and methods. Yet all this is done, in our country, under the moniker of "free market" merely because our government is fond of pulling a bait-and-switch on us citizens, telling us we're getting something good when in fact they give us something much less palatable.

All that said, I definitely agree with Berry's evaluation of our reasons for war and the heedless sadism of our foreign/environmental policies. Whatever we do, whether it be economic or political, it is relational, and must be governed responsibly by love.

jamjamruxbin said...

I agree that Berry's reasoning when he talks about free markets and interdependence is somewhat strange. I think a whole host of other things are strange about this piece, too. I guess I'll name a couple that come up in the first few paragraphs because that claim seems cheap not to back up.

In paragraph III, I think it's at least unfair to the other side not to mention that it could be a good precedent for countries to join together in preventing another country from being invaded, especially when the best arguments in favor of the initial invasion- in this example Iraq's invasion of Kuwait- are pretty bad.

In paragraph IV, I believe the explanation that the last sentence alludes to, which I think must have been provided by someone at the time, though I don't have proof, is something like the following: When a mad man does something terrible and a group of countries prevent his terrible thing from achieving its aims, it might well deter the mad man from doing that sort of thing in the future. Saddam was mad in the sense of having a crazy degree of disregard for human life, among many other things. But even mad men- at least the ones that are political leaders- tend to have goals in mind. If you establish that their goals cannot be achieved by invading other countries, for example, you might deter similar attempts that would have otherwise been made in the future. This could be the case even when the force you use involves greater loss of life than the initial offensive act. (Though certainly not more than what Saddam had already shown he was capable of).

I probably wouldn't be in favor of many more wars than Berry would be, but I'm not a pacifist, and these are just a few examples of all the things I disagree with in this essay. Still, I think it's a very valuable one to read, and there are plenty of things I agree with.

At this point I'm really going to indulge myself by making a general point that has little to do with this post and much more to do with a few things people have said to me at shows, as well as 2 or 3 comments on this blog that occurred long ago while we were on tour and I was too preoccupied to respond. Here's the long and the short of it: people in the band disagree about things. Even important things. I doubt Matt agrees with everything in this essay, but even if he did, these things happen in a band with 7 people. This is admittedly a weird time to bring this up, but I'm having bad memories of one of the Obama posts from a while back that drew some criticism in the comments section. Anyway, religion, politics, whether or not olives are gross, etc. Take your pick, there will be disagreements among us. I know most people understand that, but sometimes I'm surprised to hear from people at shows or on this blog (though it only happened once :) that, because of something one member of the band said, we are all buying into a 'fad' by liking Obama, or we are all forsaking our duty to be a light unto the world, etc. In general, it's not very safe to assume that all members of a musical group share any more opinions than a typical group of friends.

It's fun and sometimes useful to believe in small fictions and exaggerations about artists and works of art. Plus plenty of art criticism attempts to set these up and play around with them. I know I enjoy thinking about an artist's frame of mind, opinions, etc., which I know little about, while I'm listening to music or critiquing it. That's all well and good but on some level it's important to realize that a lot of these assumptions are just useful for enjoying music or writing an entertaining review, not true or justified.

Okay, I'm done. I'm sure that's an obvious point to most people but it's Saturday night- why not indulge in some obvious point making?

jamjamruxbin said...

I really should write everything in small columns because I feel very accomplished now looking at how long that is.

lauren gabrielle. said...

okay, but only if you watch this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-c2c9waE8A
i don't know how i found it, but perhaps it'll make you smile.

jamjamruxbin said...

yeah i love that video. whoever made that is pretty amazing.