Thursday, December 07, 2006

Class discussions

I found some interesting similarities between Litman's arguments and arguments concerning basic income guarantee, and I wanted to kind of locate their connective tissue. Actually, I guess I should be more specific: there were moments during past class discussions regarding basic income guarantee that could have been applied to today's arguments, so I suppose this is actually more about the particulars of our class dynamic as opposed to texts that make certain claims.

That being said, I remember that when basic income guarantee became a topic of discussion, there were a number of reactions that sounded something like this: what incentive will there be to work certain kinds of jobs which "must be done" if the fiscal backing does not exist? Isn't it too close to an idealist, utopian myth that can't function because skill=monetary incentive fueling a desire to develop certain skill=application of skill? Won't there be too great of a leveling effect that will render individualism inactive because we will somehow [based solely on our income] lose a sense of "purposeful work"? Communism? Assimilation? Lack of definable, class and social differences?

All of these assumptions or fears have a definite weight and legitimacy, and should not be immediately dismissed because they are the product of our shared contemporary experiences and make a lot of sense in THIS CONTEXT (the context being contemporary life). What developed out of that argument, however, was the notion that how we identify "work" and what constitutes the process of working and production would have to become or WOULD become radically different because if you are paid simply to exist, then the activities you do everyday can BECOME what work means {a really really really great argument for Artists, with a capital A, D.C.).

Ok, so there's that. That in and of itself isn't the connection I'm trying to make. What connects these two discussions more directly is the ideology shift. There was an almost intrinsic agreement initially that determined what constituted "work" that wasn't necessarily a vocalized claim, but I think parallels could have been made among individual philosophies of what work represented to each of us that could form a sort of general consensus of what we think of as productive labor. Keeping that in mind, it was necessary for us to reaffirm what we dictate to be work in order for something like basic income guarantee to make any amount of sense.

Similarly, I found that the discussion of the Litman piece today required an adjustment of what we believe constitutes property and how we think about the exchange of information. I think it's interesting that Litman explained the history of copyright laws in order to kind of demonstrate that what are consider common-placed notions of intellectual property haven't actually existed for all that long. In the same way that [and this is not the best example, but something relatable to critical theory and the course overall], when we speak about Nature, we need to remember the history of how Nature developed as an ideology, we need to keep in mind that WE, the contemporaries of every historical moment, are the inventors of these compartments. Therefore, we have full license to change our minds.

This is oversimplified, obviously. It's not like flicking on a switch. But it is an interesting, gradual exercise that I feel can free us of a number of unnecessary binds.

Just a thought.

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