The Caring Man

 

“As human beings, we all care for one another” is a statement that is used to encourage unity and kindness in the hearts of all. It is told to children to try and establish a sense of peace and love. We do not all care for one another. Not every person is equally involved in care-type work. Women are lead more into the role of caregiver, leaving the boys to be class leaders and wrestle in the playground. Despite this gender imbalance involving care work, plenty of decent men have the capacity to care for another individual. What about the men in care work? Those who choose to show their nurturing side to help others are often treated differently than ‘normal men’. What are the challenges and attitudes that men in care work face?

 

Eva Feder Kittay suggests that the act of caring, from children to adults, is an activity placed on women. It is stated that men are assigned the role of breadwinner automatically when they become fathers. This new role changes the man from the individual he used to be as both parents, ideally, come together for the child. Yet the two genders experience social differences with these new roles as breadwinner and caregiver. Pressures from society and family largely impact her decisions. A woman that, without outstanding reasons, abandons her child comes under harsher judgment than a man would for the same offense. The responsibility of parenthood is pressed harder on women as men would earn the money for living. The caring qualities of women are passed on in domestic work also. Most nannies, babysitters, and in-home caregivers are women instead of men. This ‘standard’ impacts not only women in these positions but also the men who choose to care for others for a living. In such a female dominated field these men are looked upon as the ‘outsiders’ and can be treated as unusual cases by their communities.

 

The traditional gender roles for men and women impact male caregivers and how they are viewed. Carl Hirsch and Judith Newman examine the traditional gender roles and how they impact male adult caregivers. Both write that the lack of monetary value and prestige from care work makes it harder for men to accept this form of labor than women. Most caregivers have to  negotiate for a wage, and the amount paid by hour usually does not correspond to the type and amount of work done.  Stereotypically men expect to meet the needs of others through self-achievement and personal success. This and hints of homophobia and incest make it harder for men to get involved with hands-on care treatment of dependents. For hetrosexual men in society the fear of being seen as homosexual is played on by sitcoms, movies, and other forms of media. With the stereotypical homosexual male behaviors like being overly concerned for others, an odd speech pattern, and the ability to do housework are done for laughs.

Unfortunately this sends a message to young and older men that these ‘feminine’ behaviors are connected to homosexuality and thus are not encouraged in straight males.  The other fear is the fear of incest in the case of related caregivers. This fear branches off from the stereotypical male sex drive, as men are seen as borderline sexual predators in the quest to sate their unrelenting libido. Adding this convention with history is troublesome for male caregivers. The practice of older men marrying pre-adolescent girls was practiced in many societies throughout history and is still done in some instances. Teenagers were considered adults in the past, ready to be married and get into family life early due to several factors. In modern US society this practice manifests into the fear of incest, usually with a male caregiver and younger persons in need of care. This stigma haunts men, from caregivers to blue-collar workers who are seen getting ‘too close’ to family members, as forming particularly close bonds is socially acceptable for women and not for men. Because of these fears, women are socially conditioned to help others with nurturing and hands-on care for both children and adult dependents. This helps to create the gender divide in care work.

 

This does not explain the fact that male caregivers are out there. How is their manhood evaluated by other men who do not participate in care labor? Although care labor literature has documented men being caregivers to family members, research on the topic has conformed to the female caregiver stereotype, overlooking male contributions. Richard Russell documents that men comprised almost 30 percent of elderly in-home care are performed by males yet are still overlooked by researchers. Assumptions such as ‘men cannot process the emotions of another being’ or that ‘men lack the necessary skills to deal with another in continual care’ downplayed the contributions and value of male caregiving. The thought that men cannot process their own emotions, not to mention taking on another’s emotional stress, hints at being subhuman to a degree. Men are the ‘logical’ ones, making rational decisions without the ability to consult the heart on life matters. These gender laden thoughts can easily block men that wish to get involved with care labor.A recent trend in caregiving literature acknowledges the presence of male caregivers as significant yet many studies seem to have some blocks from progress. Some studies still hold to the concept of ‘women work in the home’ by using biological differences and different moral approaches to keep the large portion of care labor on women.

 

Caregiving can be rewarding, but comes with its own set of challenges. Many male caregivers were studied for duration of time and reported some of the challenges that go with care work. One of the most challenging functions reported was food preparation. Tasks like planning the meal, estimating the quantity of food needed, time juggling, and preparation were taken for granted for many male caregivers. As their wives learned these skills from growing up, the husbands had to learn the skills from trial and error at an advanced age. There is variance with culture, ethnicity, race, and background that determine each individual’s experience learning this vital skill. Yet food preparation has a hidden side that most men do not realize. Especially during large family gatherings, cooking can be seen as masculine and very heroic. It is an example that the man can provide for his family in one of the most important and basic forms: food, nourishment. This goes in hand with the breadwinner stereotype and ‘defeminizes’ the art of cooking. This type of ‘masculine’ cooking is usually seen by a crowd instead of the daily preparation for two adults. Cooking for a small sample presents unique challenges that men will have to adapt to be successful caregivers.

 

Another daunting task that some male caregivers are forced to face is personal care. This includes, but is not limited to: bathing, dressing, household tasks, etc. Most of the men expressed extreme discomfort, especially in the areas that required more of an intimate touch. Attending to one’s personal needs are a struggle for any person, and especially ‘normative socialized’ men. As the stereotypical man, the list of ‘normal’ responsibilities does not include changing clothes, bathing, and cleaning children or adults. Learning to take care of another’s needs pushes against normal male behavior and causes tension. Even when caring for their significant other, there was a point when some male caregivers questioned their ability to handle these tasks before fully accepting the role. Pushing through one’s social conditioning proves to be challenging in the least. Yet adaptation is one of the many skills that people use to live fulfilling lives. To adapt to your circumstances is a very human trait, which these men prove from handling mundane tasks like cleaning to providing a shoulder of comfort.

 

Men in caregiving should be given the credit they deserve instead of being subject to ridicule, odd looks, and societal judgement. In our independent society we overlook that every person relies, will rely, or relied on someone else somewhere in life. To exclude men from caring also enframes their human experience to a moving, working ATM  with no heart. That is not what real men are about. The two sides of logic and emotion live within men and women and should be expressed in both genders without judgement and assumptions.

 

Bibliography

 

Kittay, Eva Fender. “Chapter 1; Relationships of Dependency and Equality”. Love’s Labor; essays on women, equality, and dependency. Desire to Learn. 1 May 2013.

 

Hirsch, Carl, and Judith L. Newman. “Microstructural and Gender Role Influences on Male Caregivers.” Journal of Men’s Studies 3.4 (1995): 309-. ProQuest. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.

 

Russell, Richard. “Men Doing “Women’s Work:” Elderly Men Caregivers and the Gendered Construction of Care Work.” Journal of Men’s Studies 15.1 (2007): 1-18. ProQuest. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.

 

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The Creator’s Issue

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Dealing with your existence is a hard pill to swallow. Deciding what to do with your life and yourself challenges what you believe you are in the quest for existential understanding. For Simone de Beauvoir the creator wants to overcome their existence by making it an absolute.[1] The process of making a work of art or literature one’s existence is justified by the process of creation. Creating allows for one to transform, and to a point, make your own world and what lives within it. For anyone that creates a painting, sculpture, or a novel it is easy to ‘get lost’ in your own creation and forget about the concrete world. For many, the act of creating can count as a transcendent action: you forget about your reality as you work diligently on placing your ideas into the real world. The danger for the creator is when he (or she) justifies the world based on himself. By thinking that a creation is an absolute object, then the jump can be made to think that the creator himself is also an absolute. By this method nobody needs to justify the creator as justification is found within himself. Yet by idolizing one’s work the creator shuts himself off from the world he loses himself and goes into the world of Simone’s serious man.

        The idea of losing yourself into one’s work seems like a frightening idea yet is it really so dangerous as she describes it to be? As I write my poetry, fiction, or paint canvases reality can drift from immediate to something abstract and almost unrealistic. Losing oneself into their work brings a heightened sense of productivity and a ‘bending’ of the world. In the work the creator is the ruler of his world. Any restraints that the creator puts onto himself can be easily lifted and even destroyed. The world of the creator bends to his will…for as long as he stays there. The physical needs of one’s body will pull the creator away from their self-made reality and back into the concrete world. Neglecting the needs of the body will put the creator into distress and pain because needs like hunger are not being addressed. By making a world of his own the creator can fulfill himself in this world. This is set up as a problem of denying his existence by finding his existence in his work.

        Obviously this is a problem if one loses himself into his work. There are physical and mental problems with doing this. One cannot run from their own existence in the world yet by making other worlds one can find himself, in my opinion. I can easily lose myself working on an art project or poem yet this is part of my existence as well. The method of creating is part of my existence as my own identity or profession. By losing myself in my work I transcend the ordinary part of myself where I wake up everyday and get ready for the day ahead. I can stay in my comfortable nightwear, pick up a brush, and create a scene of peace or destruction from my own imagination. I can go paint plein air, where I interact with the outside world while losing parts of my being into my work. By losing parts of myself in my work I can create something beautiful, which enriches my own existence in the long run. The radical side of losing myself in my work is neglecting the reality that I must come back to. There is danger in continuously neglecting the concrete world for something of my own creation.

This would be the conundrum for the creators, to transcend the everyday world without losing yourself in the work. The impulse to create is something that can’t be helped. For those that feel this impulse the pull can be negated throughout the years yet it is only so far one can run from this drive. Completely losing yourself in your work, however, means that you are not existing in the concrete world. This means that you are not utilizing your being and are just running from the problem of existing in the first place.

[1]Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity (Citadel Press, 2013), 69.  

Art, Society, and the Artist

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Art is more than just a pretty painting on a canvas or some new tune chopped up and used to sell really crappy beer that has no real depth of flavor or quality. This simple three letter word is more than just cheap, mass printed flyers that you buy at the local Wal-mart to decorate your empty walls. Art is way more than poorly written trash novels that we read in our beds at night, wondering how did someone make so many spelling and grammatical errors and still have a product to sell. Our quick American society treasures standardized tests scores over having one art class to offer to the students–by cutting these programs where creativity and expression reign the message that art can be taken away without any ‘real time’ repercussions since its now the era of math, science, and tedious testing. The Renaissance is long gone and with it the era of patrons and great artists rising to the pinnacle of human craftsmanship has been replaced with the industrial/technological movement of the times.

This society is lacking a true understanding of what art really is here for and why art came along in the first place. This simple three letter word has morphed from capturing human experience to a high-end society where only a select few can make it and those select few are stereotyped with snobbish personalities and illogical lives. What does art do? Why does something like art exist in the first place? How are these artists living in this society? Let’s take these deep questions to those who have made a living questioning everything and writing about anything: the philosophers. For the purpose of these paper, these sources will be used.[1]

Kant divides art into two categories, agreeable art and fine art, and separates the arts based on utility[2]. The agreeable arts exist for merely enjoyment and nothing more. Entertaining stories, jokes, and other charms are classified as agreeable arts because the point of these arts are to enjoy the moment. There is nothing wrong with these arts, as everything has a season. These are not the arts I wish to examine. People are not going to question art for the purpose of entertainment since this provides a release from the mundane with something quick and effective. This is different from the fine arts because the fine arts shares its purpose in making you think. Fine art has a purpose beyond the literal paint and this purpose extends to our own culture through means of social communication. Unlike the agreeable arts for Kant, the fine arts require foundational information (such as historical context) for one to fully grasp their meaning. As someone who has taken a number of art history classes (and happens to have an art minor), I agree with Kant’s breakdown of the fine arts. To grasp an understanding of any fine art, from a painting to ceramics having that foundation of background knowledge enriches the artwork rather than takes away.

Creating art requires an impressive amount of cognitive thought and skill. As an artist I strive to reach within and around myself to reflect the problems, status, or just ponderings from someone of our time. The model of the poverty-stricken artist is a relatively new stereotype designed to keep those creative kids at bay from becoming artists by threatening their future lives.  Those who make the art, these artists, breathe and thrive in the world he/she happened to be born. Those who are extremely gifted are often hailed as prodigies in their form, be it painting or composing, giving birth to the other stereotype of the gifted artist. The gifted artist has great ability and natural talent yet is tormented by some glaring human flaw, be it mental, addiction, or any other condition that separates them from society. Adorno does not distinguish the two archetypes but rather writes that society view artists who give an uncensored view on life as neurotics[3].

Neurosis is defined as both a mental and emotional disorder, affecting only part of the personality with a distorted perception of reality and a variety of other anxieties and/or phobias. Neurosis goes well with both of my archetypes for the artist. The poor artist is tolerated by others yet cannot achieve any lasting measure of financial success while the gifted artist has the skill and talented to make plenty of money yet is haunted by a critical mental or emotional flaw. Both of the artists are detached from the ‘real world’ of specialized labor by their neurosis, letting the citizens tolerate or pity the artist rather than critically thinking about the flaws within the society. The detached archetypes of the artist could not be farther from the mark. Being an artist means you are both connected and estranged from reality[4].

The degree of this dualism will vary individually yet there is nothing like being your average citizen and going into an creative driven, coffee fueled state the next. This state feels particularly wild as I travel somewhere with a case of paints, brushes, & paper and just do instead of overthinking. In this state I am cut from society in terms of normalcy and thought process–an unbridled form of tunnel vision sets in where this constant impulse must be satisfied before rational thought returns. I am attached to my society by terms of life yet I constantly detach to engage within the process. Artistic production encompases creativity and imagination. These, however, are not the only forces at play when an artist goes to create. In Adorno’s view, other unseen forces work as material and are translated into the physical realm in the product of the art by form[5]. Without the unseen forces the work would just be a copy of a former piece of art. I will surmise that without form the forces could not be tangible to the outside citizens as there would not be an artwork in the physical realm. As a creator an artist must use both to achieve the goal of the work.

 The other side of this is making art just for the sake of selling to the public. Money is an important element of a monetary society yet the problem is not with selling works. The problem is making art purely for the exhibition value, which Adorno equates this to socialist realism accommodates the status quo. In another word, art that is purely for sale devotes itself to the level of propaganda[6]. It is known that propaganda is made exclusively with a message that is going to be pushed on the public.

Art comes from society and into society has a reflection and helping hand for us to utilize. Our society today is set in a dilemma that seems straightforward on the surface yet deserves more than the surface answers: what is the value of art in today’s world? Adorno, during his stay in America, pointed out the ‘culture industry’ that dismayed him. The culture industry is the other things that surround art, namely the people and how we interact within this construct of society. The problem with the culture industry is when you are immersed within it, one can point out the ways that art may not apply to the present life yet cannot pick out the flaws of their own society[7]. It is easy to criticise something that you cannot envision in your own busy 9-5 world and easier to assume that in this industrial age we have risen above the need for it. The saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” applies to art within our society. If people interact with art based solely on possessing the item without a thought of the content within them this tendency will reflect itself when you view it. If someone is truly immersed in reality television, cell phone technology, and social media what would they have to say about the Starry Night? Would one get a similar response to Teen Mom?

 As our policymakers evaluate America art programs, from national grants to the public school, are being cut across the country. Why should we fund the arts when technology and the sciences are driving the age of modernization? This ties in directly with the culture industry and what we prize as Americans. Islamic poet and physician Avicenna proposed the view that producing and appreciating art contributes to good citizenship and a better society[8]. To be an enlightened citizen one would combine theoretical wisdom with inspiration, and be able to communicate this inspiration to others.

This notion is not very different than the one of today of ideally being informed about your rights and how to vote for people that are in your interests yet the type of education is different. For Avicenna, philosophy and art both have roles in the intellect. Philosophy corrects misunderstandings from outside study while art refines what you study by directing your study inward. Taking this view into the modern world philosophy helps you decipher outside information while art gives you a clue on what you should study by doing self evaluation. Framed in this way philosophy and art should be provided, at the least, to incoming and confused college students trying to figure out what to do in the next four years. Self-evaluation is something that is not stressed enough, difficult to even attempt, yet will make your life much easier after looking within yourself. Participating and looking at art is a great way to find out what you like and what you don’t like. Making art shouldn’t constrain you within boundaries of form, composition, etc. in your first try! Make it simple and allow yourself to play and explore which medium you have, whether it be pencil, chalk, clay, or even paint. Part of getting in touch with yourself is to actually know the feeling of play and exploration, especially in our society where play is associated with ‘childishness’ and ‘immaturity’. Looking at art can be an exercise in admiring form in one work to observing what you see in another. Each work of art is different and many different components come into play when you observe and appreciating art, which is a way to learn to explore your subconscious self.

At times making and appreciating art can bring out some illogical feelings out of even the most logical of us. Not all works of art are going to make you feel good about life or the human experience. Even Adorno acknowledges that art exposes the difference in what is part of human nature and the lives that people build, and this difference can violently clash[9]. American society is full of paradoxes. We advertise sex on many television shows yet tell children stories about storks and birds & bees. We label this country as the land of opportunity yet will not be brave enough to admit that there are systematic and subconscious prejudices that will keep the darker skinned population at the bottom of the barrel. Companies claim that creativity and critical thinking are prized skills yet will not help fund any programs that promote these same skills. Our society is full of paradoxes that repress the freedoms of many a little at a time yet people dare not complain because other countries have it worse and who wants to be seen as anti-American? Worst of all, repressing these emotions can lead to disasters and many physical and mental problems. For some art is a mode of expression and life—it gives the troubled child something to look forward to other than grief and strife. It give the adult a way to make a positive mark on this world. Art gives those who are broken and healing a way to be thankful for another day. This is a form of communication and the song, poem, picture, or dance you create out of emotion and energy has the potential to connect with another person who is going through a similar problem without ever asking for your help. From depression to war to personal destruction art allows us to unbottle the hurtful side of human nature so it will not fester. What is better for society than all-around healthy adults that can feel and communicate with peace of mind? The value is not monetary but rather it is intrinsic to human nature.

This section is for those who are wealthy enough to afford the medium to high priced artworks that people love to buy. Not because of yet certainly affected by the cuts of programs artists that are making and circulating art may start to diminish in the future. This will raise the scarcity of works since less and less people are making them available for purchase by the public. The pinch will also be felt by the artists, since people will look for particular themes and buy less (due to prices, societal opinion, or just not being interested). Adorno especially criticized the overly hedonistic bourgeois life that art can fall as wanting art that pleases the eye instead of engaging the mind[10]. He would rather have art that forces the viewer to take a hard look at life instead of glossing over this world’s troubles for something artificial. The appeal of art brings others closer and closer yet by making art a commodity, such as we have in our new technological age, people will fear the loss of art because of this twisted relationship. Art becomes reduced to just property that can be collected, bought, and destroyed with the flick of the human fancy. Van Gogh’s Starry Night is a beautiful work of Impressionist art that has been plastered everywhere by museums, chain stores, and just about anyone else for the purpose pleasing the eye while advertising some service or product. The actual relationship with the work of art has been pressed and dried into just pleasure for soothing the sting of life and to promote another monetary agenda. The scarcity of masterpieces give a reason for museums and collectors to collect works from earlier times. The experience of going into a museum is quiet, serene, and certainly bourgeois. On the silent walls carefully preserved pieces hang, telling their ancient secrets to a modern audience. Some will pause to admire the craftsmanship, some will take turns contemplating their lives, and others will head straight to the gift shop. Most museums do charge a fee to admire these works with special events going throughout the year. This art is great for us to have on display, yet not everyone can take the privilege of seeing works in person.  

Art has many different forms that are, in my opinion, undervalued today. Adorno calls into question modern art, which would describe the artistic era of today. He dismisses the dignity of modern art, claiming it has to pose as something it is not.[11] Modern art is by far the least clear of the artistic eras, since there are so many techniques and tools available today that almost anything can be created. Original ideas can even trump original creation with the movement of the remixes. In this place where so much information is available to be consumed, anything is possible. I have to disagree with Adorno in that this era gains its dignity through its diverse use of styles and techniques. I do admit that making something amidst so many possibilities can be nerve wrecking yet this potential ability should be embraced to shape the world in which we live. We have the potential to clothe the world with art that challenges the status quo or art that just provides a sad relief to problems we are too afraid to solve.

This era allows many to claim the title ‘artist’ by way of various mediums. In the age of so much potential creation, the dignity of modern art is found. For Kim Grant, the modern artist’s identity has shifted from skilled maker to expressive hobbyist.[12] This shift in identity can be a potential problem, since making the distinction between an hobbyist ‘artist’ and a professional ‘artist’ starts to blur. The representation of the work in the modern artist becomes a way to express individuality in an age full of individuals.  Does this perhaps washes out the real identity of the artist, or does this age strengthen the pigment that are artists? Perhaps both are done at the same time, since the world can now be full of ‘artists’—this title can now apply to anyone at anytime. The duty of modern artists is to create from what life supplies, to use that creative power for an improved state of living.

The state of art today hangs on by an uncertain future and an enriching past. Especially in the age of cutting back art programs and where the prices of art schools are skyrocketing, I hope that art will live on the in the lives of the majority instead of being pushed away. The relationship of society and art, as well as artists, will ultimately decide what happens to art itself as human progress moves forward.

[1] Sources that will be used: Kant, Immanuel, and Werner S. Pluhar. Critique of Judgment. Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett Pub., 1987. Print. Adorno, Theodor W., and Gretel Adorno. “On the Relation of Art and Society, Art and Philosophy.” Aesthetic Theory. London: Continuum, 2002. Print. Azadpur, Mohammad, and Anita Silvers. “Avicenna on Education in Philosophy and Art.” Arts Education Policy Review 107.2 (2005): 35-9. ProQuest. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. Wilks, J. F. (2006). A portrait of the person as an ancient artist. Evangelical Quarterly, 78(1), 51-64., Grant, Kim. “‘Paint And Be Happy’: The Modern Artist And The Amateur Painter-A Question Of Distinction.” Journal Of American Culture 34.3 (2011): 289-303.Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Dec. 2014.

[2] Kant 172.

[3] Adorno 8.

[4] Adorno 9.

[5] Adorno 9.

[6] Adorno 45.

[7] Adorno 16.

[8] Azadpur, Mohammad. “Avicenna on Education in Philosophy and Art”.

[9] Adorno 16.

[10] Adorno 13.

[11] Adorno 39.

[12] Grant, Kim. “‘Paint And Be Happy”.

The College Bubble.

While the German spirit has striven to maintain a connection to the Greeks, through the work of Goethe, Schiller, and Winkelmann, this connection has grown progressively weaker. We see that opinions concerning the value of Greek contributions to culture have been degenerating rapidly. Thanks to the current understanding of Greek culture’s focus on “beauty,” “harmony,” and “Greek cheerfulness,” the academic establishment has affected a skeptical abandonment of the Hellenic ideal and a perversion of ancient studies. The cultured man of the present has sought to take over Greek antiquity “historically,” and thus is at a loss in the face of the now.

Culture and true-art have never been so estranged as they are at present. The current culture hates and fears true art, for it fears destruction from its hands. But, as this current Socratic culture has now exhausted itself, this destruction is unavoidable. The impending rebirth of tragedy is nothing to be feared, however. It alone promises the renovation and purification of the German spirit through the power of music. The culture is exhausted, and we have nowhere else to turn. We must look now to Dionysus, who will seize everything decrepit, decaying and broken in our culture and tear it away, so that we may be bathed in the golden light of tragic redemption.

The Greeks are the example for what the miraculous awakening of tragedy signifies for the inner fabric of a people’s life. First, we must say that even during the time period when the Greeks were most possessed by the Dionysian, they still maintained their individual principles, and thus maintained strong political and domestic sentiments. The Greeks found the right balance between constant, ecstatic brooding and the empty lust for empire and power. Their culture flourished thanks to their ability to blend Apollonian and Dionysian elements in their lives.

What is interesting to me is what Nietzsche writes in his section on higher education. During his time he writes that higher education has never been lower or feebler than at the present, and he even calls out the professor for not being well versed in areas of culture. When I think of higher education (in the US) I think of a different culture that is independent of mainstream American culture, and mainly because they are two entities that are related yet distant from each other. Mainstream culture depicts Americans as sedentary, obsessed with silly things such as reality television, living mostly off of junk food, and less like the creative innovators that we were in the past. Higher education culture often comes off as over the top bourgeoisie education (not all the times but it does have those moments). I’m not saying that higher education is not important (because I am here at GC after all) yet between the high tuition costs and college student culture there is an air of being better than your peers that I stub my toe on occasionally.

Higher education culture suffers from being detached from the larger community culture that the people and buildings are placed upon. When walking up to front campus you can immediately tell that you are still in Baldwin county, yet the atmosphere is different than other parts of Milledgeville. At home there is a huge bubble effect where UGA starts from the other sections of Athens. The air is more cosmopolitan and definitely more ‘refined’ than the other sections of Athens and Milledgeville. There is definitely a certain elegance in coming to GC to pursue your heart’s goals and to build yourself a better life. You were carefully selected out of many other applications and potential students to serve your time here in the realm of textbooks, lecture halls, and group projects. The bubble effect may not be intentional on anyone’s behalf, yet perhaps part of the failure of our higher education could be that sometimes we can be too exclusive as a college community in relation to the surrounding county around us.    

Creative or Destruction

An essay on the power of the erotic.

Eros: Creativity or Destruction?

The bow of Cupid inspires all throughout the land. Many mythological gods and mortals have fallen prey to the power of erotic love, this torrent of Eros. The Greeks were ever mindful that a person would do insane actions, unacceptable at any other time while possessed by Eros. Eros is such a powerful drive because it incorporates sexuality, creativity, and emotion—without ‘proper’ expression one can go into states of euphoria or despair. Since it involves a minimum of  two people, ideally Eros should be reciprocated between the parties. In a parallel universe this might happen all the time and everyone would be joyous and grand—but not in this world. This torrent of passion can express itself through various destructive forms. Eros is a dangerous force that should not be idealized or romanticised. Instead Eros should be treated as the powerful force capable of capturing many expressions of the human experience.

 There is the risk of losing one’s own identity while in the rapture of love. As Eros allows for two beings to come together there is the threat of being absorbed by the more dominant partner. Young lovers tend to have this absorption of identity happen while still exploring their own selves—especially teenage girls. This loss of your identity is problematic especially when the relationship ceases to exist. The feeling of loss can easily cause an identity crisis when the lines of yourself seem to no longer exist. Yet when there is death, there is also rebirth. As destructive as Eros can be, this passionate drive can be utilized in positive, self-fulfilling ways to better oneself as a whole. By examining the process of creativity through erotic love I intend to prove that Eros can be good for both the individual and society.

Eros is an expression of energy and application of activity. The emotions of two lovers and the pieces of life they choose to share all are expressions of energy and actions. This expression becomes as personal for people as their favorite food or colors. Taking Audre Lorde into account, passion is the personification of love and these aspects: creative power and harmony.[1] Eros encompasses creativity power, as an act of love is an act of creativity. Tapping into the power of the erotic is nothing new throughout history…so why does it seem ‘inappropriate’ for grown women to openly discuss this power? Instead of expressing this power there is this belief that by suppressing the erotic women can be truly strong;  for Lorde this ‘strength’ is just an illusion within the male model of power.  

Writing a short story is a creative endeavor: setting up the characters, plot, and setting comes from your mental space. As much as creativity is tied to Eros, it is also tied to general life in many ways. Desire drives people to particular jobs, actions, and lifestyles if one truly loves what they are doing. Creativity gives birth to resourcefulness and ingenuity which are traits used to pursue one’s desires. The combination of creativity and desire are aspects of Eros that deviate from pure sexuality and bleed into other components of our lives. Suppressing this power, for women, becomes the way that patriarchal society controls and dominates. By not being allowed to tap into what you love and desire women are conforming to what society dictates that they should behave and desire. This suppression of the true self into the socially appropriate self also suppresses the passion that one taps into from doing what they truly love—and through unleashing the erotic drive one can reconnect to their true passions.

        When erotic love is discussed, children eventually comes around. Plato discusses giving  birth through beauty, a goal that love seeks to fulfill.[2] Through seeing beauty one becomes pregnant and reproduces. Being pregnant in body gives the ability to produce children while being pregnant in soul gives birth to great poetry and art. It is this reproduction that allows mortal beings to achieve immortality, through one way or another. People value their offspring because the children will replace the adults. Like an obsession parents will project themselves onto their offspring, thus letting the parent ‘live’ longer. This pursuit of immortality can be irrational and even dangerous when taken to the extremes.  If one is always pursuing immortality then enjoying the moment can easily be forgotten.

 I don’t agree that Eros is the pursuit of the beautiful yet reproduction is an important theme of human existence. Reproduction, the act of ‘making’, comes in various ways. Producing children makes one a parent. Creating a play makes one a playwright. Creating a dish–a chef. Making a tool/item—an inventor. The act of reproduction is tied with creativity and allows human beings to be ‘creative’. When inspiration, or the urge, hits a physical creation usually follows. The value one places on their offspring wouldn’t solely come from this pursuit of immortality. How can you assign a value to a child? Works of art have been preserved through centuries while other forms of art should be in the moment, only to exist for a moment in time. Those who chase immortality often forget to live in the present. I reason that a component of beauty is that it doesn’t last forever. Why should one be concerned with immortality when you are doing what you are passionate about? Should it matter if your child (or creation) last for eternity?

The two versions of eros that Lorde and Plato present have one strong similarity that connects them together. Both versions of Eros are very individual centered. Lorde uses eros as a way of personal empowerment and Plato’s Socrates sees eros as a way to a greater end. Plato seems to know his individualistic stance on Eros and presents Aristophanes as a remedy.[3] His version of Eros presents the idea of a second half that people were originally joined with. Humans, in this combined form, were disobedient to the gods and too helpful to be completely wiped out. To remedy the problem, Zeus decided to split people into half, thus diminishing the power of the human race. As such, Eros is used as a quest to find your other half again. Aristophanes story includes two individuals yet the goal would be a return to the two headed form humans were originally supposed to have. This ‘fusion’ of two bodies into one is not the goal of Eros that I describe as effective. What happens to the two individuals when the fusion is complete?  A bonding of these perspectives are in order, since each one is not truly wrong. My analysis of Eros is centered in the individual but then spreads outward into the collective group. Society is the structure of many individuals coming together in a place of existence, such as a country. Similar to Eros, creativity is best realized by the individual then utilized in the society.

The Boxing of Eros

Unfortunately Eros and its components are having a ‘crisis’ in our modern American society. By limiting Eros and constricting passion and creativity society has trapped itself into a bind. Thanks to the media, desire and sexuality are saturating the waves and the net. Sexuality is used to sell everything from movies to badly made beer. The attention grabbing power of sexuality is used to sell material goods because of its power to grab the attention and desire of the intended audience. This is great for businesses and marketers yet this helps to limit the concept of Eros into just sexuality and keeps erotic love contained. Lorde warns about the horror of a system that defines what is good based on profit rather than human need. The horror of such a system is that it robs the erotic from work.  Keeping desire contained just in sexuality makes it easy to devalue desire’s importance in life. By restricting desire’s movement it is easier to lose your passion for what you do everyday. Instead of being fulfilling work becomes a duty needed to earn bread or just to keep busy.[4] I agree in that regulating desire to just sex there a lack as desire does not live in just sexuality. Better education is the desire of a teacher. If you take this desire away from your educators you take away a big motivation for that teacher in their field. Taking the desire of wisdom away from the philosopher makes the late nights of research much less worth the effort. Limiting desire cripples one’s involvement with the things they love in life.

Creativity is having its own struggle within our world. When giving out the label ‘creative person’ one thinks of the emotional artist struggling to craft a masterpiece to stun the world. Even today there is an assumption that creativity is something one is purely born with and can never learn. Either one has ‘it’ or one doesn’t have ‘it’. Divorced from everyday life, creativity has been pushed to the realms of art and literature. By placing creativity into particular sections of life the overall power of creativity is diminished for everyone. ‘Normal’ people, by definition, are not creative and new ideas of thought are diminished by oneself.

Marc Runco explains creativity as useful ideas and is a central part of life.[5] The more our world changes the more society needs to break creativity from its shallow box and allow citizens to be flexible and innovative. This is especially important for technological advancements as logic needs creativity just as theory needs practicality to be fully successful in the material world. As a whole there are steps we can take to loosen the constraints on creativity and allow for positive growth. To start, creativity needs time. Rushing someone to have a new idea usually doesn’t help the creative process. Time is needed just to think about arranging inner thoughts, concepts, and skills from the mental space into the material space. With our faster paced world people are trying to find time to eat, sleep, work, and have something of a social life. Finding time to think becomes a tedious chore that our time-based schedules do not want to allow.

Flexibility is another helper to promoting creativity and is important in erotic love also. Being in a rut is predictable and safe, as you know what is going to happen at what time. The easiest example is work. You check in, go to your space, perform some monotonous action, lunch, meeting, and more monotonous action until you get off. Consistency is needed in life, but being monotonous cuts off any original thought you may want to have. To be flexible is to adapt to last minute changes that disrupt predictability in life. Without flexibility dealing with other can be a struggle. Without flexibility Eros is an impossible struggle. How can one be creative without having the ability to be flexible?

In reference to American society, competition is an environment that most people in society will deal with. It is often noted that when businesses have to compete with each other, the customer wins with lower prices and better goods in theory. Within our individualistic society one is more likely to experience competition than collaboration. While the ‘thrill of battle’ can force one to step up their game, Bill Breen states that too much competition can easily squash the sparks of creativity.[6] Collaboration is helpful because everyone can share ideas and debate on methods to achieve a goal. The more competitive the environment, the less likely people will collaborate with one another and create new ideas and connections. Competition shouldn’t be disregarded completely yet collaboration should be encouraged in such an individualistic society rather than an afterthought.

Mania: Creativity Gone Wild

While I have given some thoughts into why creativity is important in reference to Eros and one’s life, levels of creativity do vary depending on your environment. Being such a powerful drive creativity can greatly enhance one’s’ life experience. Yet as with Eros, there is another side to creativity that is just as dangerous as Eros gone wrong. As a component of Eros, creativity taken too far can easily turn into madness. The stereotype of the emotional artist is a great example, and perhaps reminder, of creativity carried out too far. Many great artists of history have all made fantastic creations at the cost of their personal life. The paintings of Caravaggio had a great impact at the time of the Renaissance yet his violent (and killing) tendencies wouldn’t be tolerated in today’s time. Van Gogh had a tendency to eat paint, which at the time contained many substances such as lead. Andy Warhol ended up wearing a specially designed corset for the rest of his life after his brush with death. The life of the ‘great artist’ is not a boring or peaceful one. As individuals we all live in a society that has explicit and unspoken rules that regulate how ones interacts with another.

Creativity has its own social stigma that must also be addressed if creativity is to be freed from social constraints. An interesting notion is the link between creativity and madness. Given how creativity and Eros can make a person act, this connection is easy to make. Being creative may lead you to exhibiting unusual behavior that may be strange. Maureen Neihart have linked creativity and madness together by three patterns: disturbance of mood, types of thought processes, and tolerance for irrationality.[7] Mood has a huge impact on how one feels and views the world at any given time. Types of thought processes reference mania in this case. During a manic state thoughts race and goal-centered activity increases. This can lead to increased productivity if utilized in a safe, productive manner. Why is mania such a bad trait to have anyway? Was it not Socrates that praised the madness from the Muses, the creative spirits in Greek mythology?[8] The frenzy that possesses a soul lifts the creations of the possesed to higher levels of achievement. The example given is of poets being inspired by the Muses’ madness and their ‘crazy’ verses that will easily overshadow the self-controlled prose of other men. Without the mania that creativity can lead to what would have been of American culture? Where would American art, literature, or cinema be without the inspiration the creators experienced? The mania that stems from creativity can be the biggest help when pressured to mould ideas and create concrete solutions to everyday situations.

 Having a high tolerance for irrationality or deviance is an interesting trait to have. Many visual artists and writers seem to have irrational peaks in their lives, yet as a human being can someone always be rational? This high tolerance suggests to me that these artists can take the blows of life in a different way than others.

Conclusion

Creativity is one of the drives of Eros. Just like Eros, creativity can be beneficial or destructive depending on how it is utilized. Despite, or maybe because of, the potential  for destruction creativity should be readily expressed instead of repressed. The creative drive is something that helps to bring meaning in existence. Letting society confine creativity limits your freedom as an individual and what you can contribute as a whole. Limiting the contributions individuals make to themselves allows for conformity and a ‘general’ standard for your people to follow but at the price of slowing innovation, stifling creativity, and rejecting a life-affirming force for your citizens.                                                                                                

[1] Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: the erotic as power (Summer 1999).

[2] Plato, The Symposium (Hackett Publishing Company, Inc: 2006). 206d.

[3] Plato, 190a.

[4] Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: the erotic as power.

[5] Marc A. Runco, “Creativity” (Annual Review of Psychology: 2004).

[6] Bill Breen “The 6 Myths of Creativity” (Fast Company 89: Dec 2004).

[7] Maureen Neihart, “Creativity, the arts, and madness” (Roeper Review 21.1).

[8] Plato 245a.

Occupy & Communism

One of my philosophical ‘blast from the past’ research papers on Occupy Wall Street: why did it start and how did it interact with capitalism & communism. Enjoy my research and feel free to comment on it below! 
The Failure of Capitalism: Occupy and Communism

As a citizen of this country we all have the right to a government that works for the people, and the right to check this government if anything ever got out of hand. Movements have been made in this society when a certain principle is lacking in the lives of the people, prompting the government to act one way or another. When people group together for a common purpose, this is usually called a protest. Protesting is a way that the people can take a stand on an issue that others may be concerned about as well. The ideal protest is a peaceful demonstration that is informative, helpful to those involved, and moves others for the cause as well—hopefully gaining momentum and traveling to the government in charge. Often, protests turn into riots due to unfortunate circumstances. Riots, often involving some form of violence and outrage, are similar to protests because both actions signify the peoples’ reaction to a government that has ignored an issue for too long. Both are also similar in the sense that history can be changed due to these actions–either local, national, or worldwide.

Yet, what is the response to protests and riots today in America? How are protests and riots classified in America today? Do the American people believe that protesters are over privileged, or a fundamental part of change in any system today? Occupy Wall Street is a great example of a protest that, despite its lack of organization, changed the dialogue of income inequality in America. Some feel that the movement could have done more, while others describe it as a gathering of ‘overly privileged children that do not want to work’. Badiou goes into detail over riots, their makeup, and why they are important for history to happen. Using scholarly articles, personal experience,  will present what riots and protests are (in a scholarly definition) and how others outside of the circle view the cause with the help of the media.

When talking about protests such as Occupy, a critical component is the financial world. It pays to take heed to prices, markets, and people’s’ living standards before something like a protest comes about. Political power is also tied to financial power, especially in our capitalist society. Having wealth opens the door for policies and laws that favor corporations or special interest group. A good example of financial and political power is ‘rescuing the banks’ that happened in around 2008. Due to the carelessness of various banks, the whole country had the struggle of to bailout the banks or let the whole country take a nosedive. In such a situation the banks held great financial power (and still do) over the entire country and as such, the vast political powers didn’t have much of a choice but to rescue the banks. The economic crash still happened in the US, even with bailing the banks out of disaster. Many homeowners lost their homes due to corrupt loans and mortgages, since the government money was loaned to the banks to use as they wish—on the bank’s own interests. People were forced to relocate, if that was possible. The housing market was down. Combine this with the widening wage gap, it’s a wonder that people took so long to organize on the streets. Did capitalism fail the people?

Despite the criticism of Occupy being a ‘failed’ movement, it has spread outside of the United States to places such as Greece, Spain, the UK, and beyond. In this sense, Occupy is a successful movement because it grew out of its initial country. In its humble beginnings, how did people protest within their local states? Some locations were very effective in organization, others were ‘having a good time’ with no such agenda.  Depending on your area, this mindset posed a dual reality: those who are protesting the system and those who are just protesting. The excitement of the event and standing with others that you share a common goal morphs into the thrill of being in the occupied zones. Those protesting the system use this to forward the movement while the second group ‘fall in love’ with the act of protesting. Even with this split Occupy definitely started a conversation that was long overdue. It was a beginning, not an end, of this dialogue that grounded Occupy as a movement as people thought of alternatives to the way things were being done. Despite the good that is Occupy, Zizek points out one major flaw that he sees: this rage against injustice does not form into political change for the country. It is ‘revolt without revolution’. The conversations about class and privilege were being had yet the official government did not take specific action in itself. Despite the critique that Zizek offers about Occupy, the movement allowed people to think of alternatives to the capitalist system.

Yet what is the problem that led to all of this? Who do you blame for a situation like this: the government or individual greed? Instead of just blaming the individuals you also must blame the system that allows greed to run so wild. This emphasis on mortal sin prevents people from critiquing capitalism itself.  

Despite being a protest Occupy shares some characteristics that Alain Badiou describes to riots. As the movement first started off, young adults filled New York for the common goal of a brighter future without staggering debt and hopelessness. In such a class division was first formed more or less: the young people (who were not working if protesting) and workers (who were just trying to earn their wages). This small tiny fact echoes the old idea of having the ‘dangerous citizens’ stand off with the non-rebellious ‘good citizens’. This conflicting ‘we vs. them’ mentality held over where in Occupy Athens (GA) as I joined the protest lines in the winter of 2011. The ‘hard working’ people, usually older adults, sneered at our young generation for being ‘entitled’ and ‘lazy’ and not just dealing with what life tossed at us. Some of the protesting students were compared to the protesters of the Vietnam war, drawing lines that joined the young of their time to the young of today. Some of the same adults that sneered and harassed us from our barricade could easily have been the returning veterans of that time—which did not get the hero’s welcome back home like one would expect today.

Another shared characteristic is the importance of public opinion around the protests and enforcing the law. Ask anyone now if Occupy was a success and this reply will be with many others: it was an unorganized failure. In determining a movement’s success people want to know what did it change on the governmental level. People talked about the social wage inequality but what happened after the talk? This public opinion, along with others, shape the story of Occupy and aligns with Zizek’s earlier criticism.  

As with any stand against a system, the police will likely get involved. Protesters were arrested for crimes such as damaged property, a huge and costly offence, and disrupting the peace. Damage to property is such a huge deal because our money driven society puts great importance on monetary value: along with Occident (of the West) and Laicism (political system of power). This trifecta of Western culture, political power, and money creates the ‘zero tolerance’ mindset for those who break these norms. This zero tolerance is applied to the ‘Others’ in our society, such as a young black thief, yet not to everyone such as a corrupt banker. It is also extended to ‘troublesome youth’ and protesters who are classified as ‘trouble’ and must be dealt with. This importance on property and the criminalization of the ‘Other’ gives the mentality that material goods are more important than actual human lives. For imprisoned protesters and gunned down youth, this mentality is all too real. The policy of preferring things over existence, machines over people is regarded as the primary alienation of capitalism. This preference of goods and profit over the living of people help lead the housing crisis as many were given loans that the banks knew were too high risk in the beginning, and this mentality is part of what Occupy cried out against.

Now I turn my attention to the second half of this paper.  Badiou’s claim to communism is defined by the creation of the common of the collective destiny. This gives communism two distinct features. First, the common represents humanity as a whole. Everyone has a voice and opinion—all possibilities are examined and every person has their own unique variety. Secondly this ideal bridges the gaps between people usually seen as contradictions: intellectuals and manual workers, poor and rich, men and women, and so on. This bridging allows for people to interact and come together without fear of harm. The communism described here is not the usually definition but rather a social communism where everyone is valued and heard.  Occupy Wall Street started on September 17 in New York City. All of the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and education, of our society are limited or unavailable to a startling number of Americans from the poor working class to even career working middle class citizens. With the steadily rising amount of student loan debt, the housing crash that took away thousands of homes, and the power of huge banks have over the economy and lives of others it is reasonable to be upset about these problems. The movement spread with the 99% wanting their voices heard and to address a pressing issue of our time. Badiou’s social communism can be said to work with the Occupy movement: individual voices joined together for a common goal of being valued in our capitalist society.

As with any joining of people, protesters have to be weary of those who are turning the protest into a harmless gesture of morality. A former president thought the protests were a good thing yet needed to be against something specific and not just a system. Yet getting behind the current system causes people to be tired and weary. Along with the protest, which is the start of a bigger conversation, people must remain mobilized in the movement for it to succeed. As such, all protesters must work for the unified good of the movement and to weed the false ones out.

This New Communism idea sounds great: the gathering of great wealth would disappear, the division of labor will be reduced, and class divisions could be a thing of the past. Could this be an end goal of Occupy, if it had played out greater on the political realm? A purely unjust society sounds like a far reach, especially for a place like America. Many also remember the horrors of communism past and never want to go to that place in human existence again. The possibility of new communism repeating the errors of the past is something to truly process. For those who are young, angry, and driven to the brink of their patience, what other alternative is out there? These questions are hard to answer by anyone as no human can see a clear path into the future. The multitudes of people that have ideas or answers to questions that have not been answered yet. The answers to these questions will probably come up soon when the time is right.

Badiou’s stake in the New Idea, this new communism, needs further investigation. The dual American lifestyles are one problem that Occupy and others are addressing. The gated communities are a physical example of this duality, where people can hold great wealth and almost no wealth in the same town. As a country that pays for education with neighborhood taxes, it is no surprise that a quality education is hard to come by and very Anglo-Saxon in viewpoint. Wealth inequality also encases racial and gender inequalities—which helps to promote the two American realities. In such, places were the wealthy and well-off are housed, educated, and transported cannot be confused with those of the poor Through the systems we live by, those from another country are labeled ‘aliens’—even if numerous generations lived here also. Women are attacked from wearing too little (promoting the ‘underground’ rape culture) to not being feminine enough (from gender stereotypes). Everyone that is different from the idea of American values is often judged by the various systems, such as judicial and so on, that citizens live by. Thus American values are shaped. With economic backing these values separate the wealthy from the poor and the wealthy are the ones that have the economic power. This is seen in the cuts to welfare programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Planned Parenthood—which the poor can ‘get fat on’ because these count as social ‘privileges’. As these changes are set forth and the dual lifestyles are enforced, people started to get fed up with the current way of life. This can prompt a revolt or rebellion such as Occupy that thirsts for change. The communist idea can challenge the corrupt side of democracy that capitalism seems to bring out, as well as show the racial and nationalistic ugliness that is hidden within the system. By learning from the failures of the past, the New Idea can grow by the diversity of these movements integrated with communism.

Another view on this issue is to reform democracy back to its ideal state. It is time to have honest capitalists that will serve the good of their nation and not their profiteers. Simple rights such as housing, culture, health, education, and political participation should be accessible to any citizen that has the desire. Money has to be placed back in the service of human beings instead of being glorified above all. Exchanging money as political power is a great cause of corruption in our system today. A good analogy for the spread of greed is Coca-Cola. The more you drink, the thirstier you become. The thirst for more spreads and can lead to more and more corruption within the system. Greed also propels alienation from one another, splitting people apart based on wealth and capital. Communication between the two groups then become difficult if not impossible–the laws reflect this well in our society where the wishes of the workers (proletariat) are defined by the wealthy (bourgeoisie). This greed fits into capitalism the system very well as capitalism seems to fulfill itself as a cycle. Capital leads to greed, greed leads to more capital, capital leads to more power, power leads to a greater chance of being corrupted by the offer of more capital. The cycle just renews itself over and over again. Capital has been glorified to the point that actual hard labor has lost a bit of its luster, to be replaced by intellectual work/number counting. With capital being a big influence of today it will take an exchange of ideas to center people back into the mindset of a level playing field with every person starting off with a fair amount of rights.

 In reference to democracy one must also purify the method of the right vote—or having a freedom to vote for the right candidate. After all, free voting must truly be free voting to revert democracy back to its roots. The power of voting in democracy is incredibly powerful as political power and as a tool of expression. For Zizek, using democracy to improve the world is akin to the Matrix–an illusion that covers the eyes before taking the red pill. Thus in the communist idea Zizek turns away completely from democracy and allows others to do the same. As such, a revolutionary idea allows for one to disregard the opinion of the majority for radical change. The idea then imposes its power upon the existing totality and destroy it. Occupy Wall Street did not impose its power upon the existing systems yet it makes one wonder what could have happened if this idea blossomed even further. For Zizek the idea of Communism would have the ability to impose its power upon capitalistic democracy and crush it, despite the opinion of the majority. The imposed power of Occupy was to change the dialogue of societal privilege and showed just how bad the wage inequality has become. The idea of the 99% imposing its power upon the government sounds like it would work in theory, yet the systems that our democracy now operate keeps the 1% in charge.

This is a time of change where people are speaking out against the corrupt norms of the world. A newer example is the current Occupy Monsanto movement, inspired from Occupy Wall Street. This movement is calling out Monsanto and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in the food industry. Occupy Monsanto is challenging the power of Monsanto and the agribusiness that allows our food to be produced similar to an input/output machine. This movement aims to hold Monsanto accountable for the damage done around the world. Labeling GMOs are also a crucial goal along with more research into what effects GMOs have on the environment and human health. The power of Monsanto stretches to lobbying, animal feed, plant seeds, and even suing farmers that inadvertently use their product (such as the wind blowing seeds to one’s ground). This movement is calling attention to how food and economics collide on a grand scale. GMOs are grown in this country and exported many miles across the globe–and vise versa. The health of many people are at stake, especially the poor which are vulnerable to cheaper, low-quality food. The adverse health effects of poor food, and poor food choices, range from childhood obesity to deadly unnatural allergic reactions (such as a nut gene in a corn plant). The lack of labeling and regulation of these GMOs are a product of intense lobbying and a corruption of the democratic system. The power of agribusiness has this country in a vice grip of food, profit, and plants. Monsanto mirrors the looming shadow of power that the banks have in America. As such, both Occupy movements are related together.

To our protesters that wish to change the current system instead of revert democracy back to its ideal form a problem must be addressed early: what will replace the current system? The New Idea, Communism, is presented as a new form of organization and discipline. The protesters are in a sense communist: they care about commons of life (such as knowledge and quality food)  which are threatened by the system. In a system based on profit and where greed is looked up upon these commons are threatened by budget cuts to departments, funding education, and passing laws that are in corporate interests instead of the people’s interest, perhaps communism and the ideals that both Occupy protesters stand for are similar indeed. The objectives of the movements can reflect similar objectives to the New Idea and make a better government for the people.    

Sources

“Green Party Calls Monsanto a Top Risk to Public Health and the Environment, Urges a Moratorium on Genetically Modified Food Crops.” Targeted News Service [Washington, D.C.] 16 May 2013: n. pag. Web. 10 May 2014.

Radomska, Magdalena. “Criticism of Capitalism in Post-Communist Europe.” Revista de Stiinte Politice.33 (2012): 73-84.ProQuest. Web. 10 May 2014.

Johnson, Alan. “The Reckless Mind of Slavoj Zizek.” Dissent Fall 2009: 122-7. ProQuest. Web. 10 May 2014 .

Žižek, Slavoj. The Year of Dreaming Dangerously. London: Verso, 2012. Print.

Badiou, Alain, and Gregory Elliott. The Rebirth of History. London: Verso, 2012. Print.