Sunday, January 18, 2009

Revolution or Reform -- a TV drama?

Q: Why is the title of your blog "I married a communist"?

A: The title of anything is its highest priced real estate. Words accrue a lot of their meanings from how they are habitually used. Today, the word "communist" evokes the concepts of secret police, authoritarian regimes and the oppression in the so-called former communist countries of Eastern Europe. But there was a time, in the 19th and early 20th century, when communists were understood as the good guys.

Q: So did you really marry one of the good guys?

A: Yes, see photographic evidence at Trotsky's grave.

Q: Aren't you worried that the title will be off-putting to readers?

A: I have readers?! Thank you!

Q: How do your parents feel about you marrying a communist?

A: My parents? They're tickled pink.

Q: Really?

A: My father still remembers the Great Depression. He clips coupons and reminds everyone of the household slogan from my childhood, "We don't buy anything that's advertised on TV." His rejoinder to any story of woe is a shoulder shrug, accompanied by "Well, that's free enterprise for you!"

Q: Mother?

A: Your daughter gets married for the first time at age 42?

Q: Why do you hate free enterprise so much?

A: Any system of social organization will have its advantages and disadvantages, and some individuals will benefit more from one system than from another. I'm in favor of an egalitarian system, for reasons articulated by Rawls and others philosophers (in particular, see the argument called the Veil of Ignorance). Capitalism is explicitly anti-egalitarian (think of the board game, Monopoly). I think humans can do better. Its time to start a dialogue about what kind of society we want to live in.

Q: What about the fact that very few people seem to be interested in criticizing capitalism, even though there are plenty of conversations about improving how humans live?

A: For this question, the old lawyer's strategy of asking "cui bono" applies. Why aren't many people talking about X? Well, whose interest is served by lack of conversation about X?

Q: How to get the dialogue going?

A: I suggest a TV series, of the quality of The Sopranos. The dramatic back-drop is socio-political revolution/reform in America set in the current day or perhaps a few years in the future. There's been financial collapse, rioting -- the country is in crisis. What direction to take? Characters have conflicting views and agendas. Post your comments here about some helpful story lines.


Anonymous said...

Philip Roth wrote a book "I married a communist"

gyms in boston said...

I totally agree that communisim executed in the correct way could help bring the US out of the depression, and I really don't care if people have a problem with it, they are just the greedy bastards who put us in this situation to begin with.

HumanProject said...

Hi Anonymous. Re: Philip Roth's book. My husband (the communist) is a huge Roth fan and so of course has read the book, but said it was one of Roth's worst. It's certainly on my to read list...

Anonymous said...

also was a movie in 1949! Banned or renamed in US due to fears of the C word. Check it out by googleing " I married a C"

HumanProject said...

Hi Anonymous -- did you like the book/movie?