Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Some of what I did at NYU in '98-'99, and at Earlham in '99

Before I was force to leave for medical reasons. Leaving NYU was a very painful experience, something that I still can feel tears welling up in my eyes when I start talking to people about it.

This is from the class "Conversations of the West" and is a fragment and first draft about the Iliad and the Odyssey:

"Achilles and Odysseus: heros?


A hero is someone who fights extremely hard for something which is just and which has significance beyond himself. Beyond that a hero needs his actions to contribute to some general cause, whether other people are pursuing this cause at the time or not. If there isn’t a strand that refers to something greater in the action of the hero his actions devolve into the acting out of a personal quest alone. Odysseus doesn’t fit into the model of the hero; but neither does Achilleus, even though he fits the model better. Odysseus’s quest is the voyage home, and even though he engages in heroic acts, since it is in the service of himself they don’t qualify him as a hero. Instead, I would say that the Odyssey tells the story of what happens when myth spills over into normal life. I’ll get back to that. Achilleus is a hero, even though he was motivated by anger, because he was pursuing honor and recognition. Honor isn’t self referential, there needs to be other participants for it to exist, and to pursue it will help other people out, especially in the context of the Trojan war. It is true that the Trojan war was a battle between the kings and nobility of two different sides, but being a hero in the Trojan war still has more significance than just voyaging home and dealing with the consequences of your absence."


Earlham turned me onto many things but the administration left me with bitter, bitter, feelings. I left after one semester. Here's a paper I wrote for "International Global Political Economy". Notice the date: September 7th, several months before the WTO protests. The paper contrasts David Korten's paper in the book "The Case Against the Global Economy" with a text that provided a sort of grab bag of more economically rigorous theories about globalism. Little did I know that after leaving Earlham my life would almost be destroyed, taking years to get back to this level.

Into. to Global Political Economy
First paper
Prof. Diskin
John Madziarczyk
Sept. 7

David C. Korten, in his paper “The failures of Bretton Woods” and Pearson and Payaslian in “International Political Economy” illustrate the split that has occurred as of late in economics: namely, between the equations and the applied understanding of economics. When Pearson looks at the global economy he sees vast international markets connected by trade with states being the only force which can interfere with the ‘economics for economics sake’ attitude of the market. Korten, on the other hand, doesn’t see economic activity as set in stone; instead, throughout his article he points out where the ideas for globalism came from, how they are practically implemented. Because of his approach he sees the global economy as a stage with some restrictions where intentional actors, capitalists, define reality.
The importance of trade is only implied in Korten for example, as opposed to the several sections in Pearson which deal only with trade.To Korten, the important factor in the global economy is not the short term benefits of a good trade balance but the long term functioning of the societal structures (companies, TNC’s, factories, states) which have the power to determine the scope within which short term change occurs. Korten feels that the movement of multinational corporate assets and the mobility of capital are causing the scope to shrink and the importance of factors which individually have very little ability for long term change, like the mass of small businesses, to shrink with it. As a result the equations, which only work when dealing with a collection of factors small enough to shed the objectivity killing clothes of their individuality, are becoming over powered by more simple dynamics of a smaller number of large corporations. Along with this has come a decrease in the type of state power which can be used to oppose corporations. Without the state in between corporations and the real world they tend to objectify people and environmental resources.

However, what Korten does not pick up on is that no matter how small the arena gets, unless the state itself comes apart their will always be factors stemming from political conflicts which relate to trade, trade imbalances, and economic policy which will prove as a countervailing force against the corporations. ‘Regular’ economic activity is not inherently opposed to activity made possible by transnationals and global trade liberalization and emerging markets, but in order for those types of institutions to exist there always has to be ‘nuts and bolts’ economics there to get the job done. He fails to communicate that the choice of economic paths available isn’t Bilderberg vs. State control, but that instead the institutions
themselves can be redefined according to economic theory which doesn’t necessarily need to focus on beliefs that go along with either of them.
Pearson and Payaslian have the opposite problem. They aren’t ‘immoral’ as opposed to Korten’s ‘morality’, but they do emphasize the fact that political science is more of an attempt to solve problems than a discipline that has all the answers. Out of this comes a view in which the ‘answers’ which they feel have worked, the market and capitalism, are viewed with flexibility, because the margin of error in their functioning is small enough that more radical change isn’t viewed as necessary. International organizations, states,finance, and TNC’s are the big players, but they are criticized based on how they fit into the present market economy rather instead of criticized as abstract political entities. They see the global economy as tending towards new organization based around NGO’s and multinationals, with the state carefully controlling the power of multinat’s by GATT and the WTO. History is simplified, so that the rise of multinats and globalism is linked to advances in industry, technology, and the post WWII global order which have expanded the possibilities of the free market. Korten, on the other hand, would argue that all the things cited would not have created a bigger free market but instead opened the door for individuals to exercise further power over existing processes than before, with the current state of the global economy being just one outcome. They also ignore possible non-economic historical causes for current situations, like emphasizing America’s technological ability after WWII instead of pointing out that America was the only participant that didn’t have it’s economic infrastructure destroyed as the reason the U.S. became dominant.
Korten and Pearson’s views compliment each other, with Korten taking the neglected side of economics and Pearson balancing it out with solid theory.Korten deals with historical factors that aren’t strictly economic, but in the process leaves out what normally connects the producers to the consumers. Pearson has no problem with that on a corporate or state level, instead what is deemphasized is the origin of economic activity:real people as opposed to equations.This leaves the institutions of the global economy open to legislation fiddling with the mundane functioning rather than legislation directly limiting their functioning along moral lines. In what a reader knows about Korten from reading the essay it can be said that his theory would not be in the running without the info provided by Pearson, but Pearson’s view
could stand on it’s own without Korten. But, it must also be considered that Pearson’s is an intro text while Korten’s is not"

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