segunda-feira, dezembro 08, 2014

2014 Presidential Election Finance and Petrobras

         For my final project in Political Science I had to choose someone in Politics and see where there financing came from. In America the financial information seem to be much clearer and deliberative, while in my country things are less explicit, which gives room to a lot of speculations. The professor gave the option of researching about our own country, and I ended up deciding to do that, due specially to the current events that are going on in Brazil. Many controversies are being brought up in this years presidential election in Brazil, since what was known to be the “workers party” 'PT' ended up being capital intensive and following neoliberal ideology rather then democratically favoring societies demands and being progressive, which is what we expect from a Workers Party. The party is being part of major scandals on corruption meaning both tax evasion and money laundering, specially due to the World Cup that took place earlier this year, and to the Olympic Games that Brazil will host in 2016. When researching the financial contributions to Dilma Rouseff, Brazil's re-elected president under PT, it was clear that the major contributions received by herself and her party come from entities that are somehow tied with Construction, due to the major projects supported by her in the making of the World Cup. Also, currently in the Supreme Court of Brazil, the nation's most important company, Petrobras, is also being investigated due to campaign finance and payola to politics and political party’s in a scheme of corruption and money laundering that moved R$ 10 billion reais.
           The scheme that is now in the Supreme Court of Brazil is called 'Lava Jato' or 'jet wash' comes from a cartel of large contractors (OAS, Odebrecht, Engevix...) that combined prices for Construction projects for Petrobras, but the contracts were overrated. Part of the money from the super over billing was distributed among executives within Petrobras and people that supported the scheme. Payola's were passed out in different percentages to three of the major political party's PT, PMDB and PP, this money was supposedly to finance electoral campaigns in 2010, the first election of Dilma. Among the main contracts that are being investigated are three refineries, one in Pernambuco, one in Rio, and one in the US, the Pasadena Refinery, which seem to also be a scheme that generated a loss of US$ 792 million dolars to Petrobras. The question of private investment in electoral campaign is a hazy topic, since when critically analyzed it is clear that firms don't vote, and therefore they shouldn't contribute to elections.
      The contractor firms that outset the whole scheme are among the largest firms of Brazil, and contributed largely to the re-election of president Dilma. I made an illustration of the share of investments that were injected into president Rousseff and her presidential campaign:
The electoral campaign for president Dilma Rousseff (PT) raised R$ 350.9 million and spent R$ 350.5 million. Among the corporations that donated the most are the food processing company and frigorific JBS, the construction company Andrade Gutierrez and OAS, which are involved in the 'jet wash' operation done by Federal police that investigates corruption and payola scheme in Petrobras. The amount donated by the major firms are respectively JBS donating R$48 million, following OAS R$51 million, Andrade Gutierrez R$27 million , Odebrecht R$18 million and Bradesco bank R$8.2 million; The major contributors are JBS and OAS.
     JBS S.A. is a Brazilian company that is the largest (by sales) food processing company in the world, producing factory processed beef, chicken and pork, and also selling by-products from the processing of these meats. The company has 150 industrial plants around the world. Brazilian Development bank also known as National Bank for Economic and Social Development injected a sum of around R$12.8 billion in JBS by the emission of bonds and stocks bought from the company to promote internationalization and reduce informality since 2007. The relationship of the government injecting a lump sum of capital into the firm, and in contrast the firm providing liquid capital to finance campaign is a characteristics of politics, and might be what took place in regards to the major contribution that was privately done from JBS to Dilma Rouseff.
         OAS is a Brazilian corporation that works in several countries in the area of civil engineering and infrastructure. The corporation manages three stadiums in Brasil, which were part of the World Cup games and went through major reforms to fit into FIFA's requirements. The company is 85% owned by one person, Cesar Mata Pires 65 yo, founder and executive president of the corporation. He is one of the Brazilian's that entered the Forbes magazine for the first time this year, due precisely to the reforms administered by his company, for the World Cup and for the Olympic Games. The contractor firm OAS was the major beneficiary among the firms that were binding procedures for the events, and was largely criticized in the 2013 protests that took place against the major government spending in the world cup game requirements, the people claimed that the money that was supposed to go to Education was going to the pockets of OAS. Following the political ideology and scheme, the propensity given to OAS to get the stadium reforms was payed back in campaign donations, and ended up re-electing the president that preferred the highly centralized corporation to take over the infrastructure of the events held in Brazil. This firm together with the fourth major donor, Odebrecht, were not only involved in the reforms to the events, but are also involved in the money laundering scheme that is being investigated.

     The 2014 elections in Brazil was tough, even tough president Dilma Rousseff got re-elected, it didn't seem a overall consensual decision, even tough the world cup ended up being successful it generated riots and social discontentment due to misuse of public money to promote Fifa standards rather then the needs of society. The other candidates that were running for president were also involved in corruption schemes, and were majorly supported by some of the same corporations not as intensive but somewhat similarly. Corporate donations to politics always illustrate a double way strategy that benefits or proceeds past rewards or benefits that were given in return, it is a legitimate way for capital to flow and seem to disregard the will of the people, which don't fit with the democratic government that we are sold.

sexta-feira, novembro 21, 2014

Transcendence through body

The question of self and body have been largely discussed in philosophy. This question addresses what makes up an individual and which characteristics are essential for a subject to be and act like a person. Some follow the Cartesian dualism view, in which the mind is argued to be better known than the body, since the mind is our essence and the body is simply our property (1). While others such as Evans and Sartre argue that the body is the factual part of ourselves, and therefore constitute a persons identity and self-awareness, the way individuals act on their body in intrinsically connected to how the body acts on the world, this unity expresses a view of living and experiencing reality from inside and therefore intimately relating body with mind (2). Body is the existing part of ourselves, the physical condition for someone to be in this reality, while the mind is the intrinsic and non factual part of the self. Both ways of analyzing and experiencing the body are valuable, but only the phenomenological theory, the incorporation of mind and body as one, gives room to a transcendence of body through mind, which can be achieved in many ways in this reality through a disconnection and overcoming of the given factual aspect of an individual.

For Sartre, a person can see themselves in two distinct ways. A person that is a “being for itself”(3) is a self consciousness being that see their self and body as dependent parts of the same whole. It is a type of consciousness that acts self-reflectively and have self-consciousness, therefore is free and able to transcend the body, due to awareness of both duality and of the material world. Another scholar, Shoemaker, characterizes this type of self, as beings that find no need for introspection (4), the perceiver is aware of themselves by being aware of the objects, a per-reflectively awareness of world is what carries an awareness of self and consequently of mind. This type of subject is intentionally aware of objects and therefore more capable of controlling their actions and desires. The self in this case isn't a reflection of the mind, but instead the mind in its material form, and therefore is a self-governing type of being, that is conscious of their material state. On the other hand, a person that is a “being in itself” is a person filled with self (5), it considers itself as something given to them rather then a part of their being, and therefore don't have much control or power to govern their material state, its objective is simply to be what it is, or to fit in without self-consciousness. In this later case, the body is simply used by the mind, or the property of mind, therefore it is a debodified type of consciousness, or in a Hegelian term a 'alienated' (6) type of being, in which their actions aren't seen as themselves but instead as part of themselves.

A being in itself can also be seen from the Cartesian dualism perspective, which is largely argued by Descartes, in which the mind is said to be something that owns experiences, something that is a non-material essence of self also known as Ego (7). In this view the ego is better known than the body, since the body is seen as belonging to the self but not essentially the self, that is because the body and the mind in this sense are intimately related but fundamentally separate and the body is simply seen as the owner of material properties while the mind is the real ruler. In this sense the body is a instrument or a objectified self since it is dependent on the mind for everything. This disregard of the body as essential self can be called, as metaphysical philosopher Strawson suggests, “a no ownership view” (8) in which the body undergo experiences, instead of also possessing states of mind. This view would be one in which the body holds only instrumental value, and not intrinsic value, only the Ego have intrinsic value but it is alienated from the body and the body is simply a part of self that goes through the world without being part of it. The objectification of the body in the case of the Cartesian Dualism is to be avoided if one wants to transcend the body, the features of the body are as important as the mind to the achievement of transcendence, since they are both part of self-consciousness and therefore must be integrated in order to achieve mindfulness or harmony in this existence.
A “being for itself” is a type of existence that gives room to a more fulfilled and self-controlled life, since a self-reflection, or a consideration of one's desires, actions and taught makes a self-conscious and mindful reality, in which you are your body, and you choose how to be and you can always transcend the factual aspect of the body by nihilating (9) or negating your body and its desires, as well as negating what is socially acceptable and consequently having a self identity or a word in your experiences and life. In other words, a being for itself is a subject that have the possibility of choosing what to do instead of just fitting into a given type of self, which is the dualist, or the being in itself type of experience, in which the body is simply to be acknowledged not nihilated or changed, since it is given and independent of mind. The monks, the Lama's, or any type of individual that goes against, or beyond, what society dictates, and that choose what type of life is a life that gives room to a flourishing self, characterizes a being that negates the ideology of its time, that knows that the body is the mind, and therefore treats its body as itself. It sees itself as a active determinant of its body and therefore is able to dictate it. Precisely, by nihilating the desires, or the norms that are ideologically in place, these type of beings, the beings for themselves, nihilate their body, since they are aware that their body isn't an instrument, but instead a essential part of themselves, and therefore act consciously. On the other hand a “being in itself” lives a instrumental life, since it acts not self-reflectively but conspicuously, it lives as its body was someone else, and therefore fits in very well in the twenty first century society, in which the subjects are simply objects of a large scale economy that dictates how one should act and think in order to fit inn. This type of being lacks both knowledge of self-action and of self-control, it does not nihilate itself by being aware that it is its mind, but instead it is 'sunk in life'.
A “being for itself” is free of facticity, ready to transcend the boundaries of the material world, and finally, a free being, due exactly to its awareness of unified experience between body and mind.

Many religions argue that a disconnection of mind and body is possible in this reality. In the majority of times the person is still aware of themselves and of their being, but its body is used as an instrument to transcend this reality, or even to help people that are in other realities. In the case of Buddhism, meditation is seen as the exercise in which a subject frees their mind by transcending the limits of the body and appropriating a cosmic energy that is worth more energy than many hours of sleep to the body. In this case the subject needs a extensive training of detachment from bodily desires, in which they nihilate not only what is socially acceptable, but also its own desires and bodily necessities. Buddhism gives rational explanations to why a body nihilation is necessary, and how a connection with nature and with less abundant living gets you closer to mind fullness and body equilibrium. These types of beings, that practice meditation and have achieved a self control that is unimaginable to the Western conceptualization of free will, are clearly beings that are for themselves, and that have conquered a body powerfulness that is unachievable to subjects that are being in themselves, which live a given life without self consideration and nihilation. They have overcome what is traditionally the custom in order to rule over their body as thinking things, their body isn't seen as solely subject of experience but also as possessors of states of mind in which the body is a essential element and must be controlled from the inside.

The transcendence of seeing the body as a given mechanism, to seeing it as an opportunity of action, is central in order to achieve mindfulness and self control. It can also be illustrated in some individuals negation of basic needs such as eating, not abstaining from junk food or industrialized food, but abstaining from food as a whole. I personally know a person that claims that the photons composes the atoms that satiate the body, as much as the protons, electrons and neutrons, and that it is as simple as changing our mental programming, or the way we see ourselves, in order to change the alimentation mode: half hour of sunbath is worth a banquet (10). A person that is able to do such detachment from what is known as bodily necessities must be a 'being for themselves' in which their will and freedom of choice dictates how their body act and responds. This person is a well known professor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and she have achieved a level of control over her own body that the majority of us might think it is impossible or a fraud, but in reality she simply have overcome the Cartesian dualism view, and live this life from the inside, as ruler of her body and as if her body was for her, and solely dependent on her dictations rather than a mechanism that is opened to error and 'mine but not me', which gives room to a vast interference from outside dictations of what to do and how to act on itself.

When one is aware of themselves and of their mental states simply by existing, then that person have achieved the state of 'I as Subject' and are actively vigilant within their own mind and body. The metaphysical philosopher Evans, have argued that features of the body are as important as mental states when identifying parts of a person's consciousness. According to him to be subjective is to integrate body with mind, since no distinction of body from mind should be truthful when trying to achieve self consciousness a 'relationship to yourself applies not only to experiences but equally to many bodily states.' (2) That is precisely due to to the fact that the body is our 'existential self that is embodied' and therefore your bodily properties are you as much as the Ego is you. Since it is through the body that others relate to you and that you relate to space, or to the reality we are inn.
This perspective is also very similar to the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Since it is believed that what you eat, or the types of food that one consumes, is directly related to one's temper and personality (11). In this case people that nihilate what is socially acceptable and abstain from drinking alcohol, eating industrialized food and have a macrobiotic type of diet tend to be much more self-conscious and overall more happy than the ones that see their body as their property and eat whatever is easier or trending in the modern conceptualization of food. It is scientifically proven that your diet influence what you think, how you relate to yourself and your temper, this is an illustration of how the body can influence the mind more than what is usually discussed in metaphysical discourse that favors the ruling of the Ego over the body.
Another type of transcendence of body through mind that isn't common in metaphysical discourse that I find peculiar but nevertheless very common in this reality, is separation of body and mind through religious practices. The religion that I was raised in, which was born in France but became very popular in South America, called Spiritism, it is claimed that the mind leaves the body of the subject, called 'medium', and gives room to other peoples mind to communicate through that body, in this case the minds of people that aren't in this reality, or that aren't embodied. The medium puts their body as an object for other minds to communicate through them, but in a very different manner then the objectification of the Dualist, since in this case the body isn't a machine of the mind but instead a tool of transcendence from this reality. In Brazil crimes have already been solved using this transcendent type of communication to the dead. The personification of other minds have been popular for thousand of years in 'pagan cults' and traditions in Africa and the Middle east, in which the body of a subject is used by another entity to communicate to this world. To help others in the case of Spiritism, or to harm others in case of pagan cults. The medium or the subject that puts themselves into this position of bridge are usually very simple people, that abstain from what is conceived of a socially acceptable fulfilled life in order to help others and flourish in this reality through other means, especially through body nihilation and transcendence. These people, can't be people that live a given life, or that see their body as a simple reflection of an alienated mind, but instead are people that have achieved a level of self-consciousness that is beyond. These subjects are 'beings for themselves' and due to that are able to use their body as medium to other minds, only the subjects that have overcome the separation of mind and body are able to experience a disconnection of body and mind.

One way to identify if a person is a being for itself or a being in itself is by analyzing the way they relate to their body, to the space, and specially to self. The transcendence through mind is only achievable when the individual have overcame the view of body as something self-identical, passive and inert which are characteristics of the beings that are in themselves, the beings that simply are, that see themselves as undetermined. When the individual have achieved a fluid and dynamic view of their body, and is able to transcend the 'givens' or the facticity of reality in order to act and to be self-conscious then that person have achieved the level of mindfulness and consequently of transcendence. Only after this self conceptualization meditation or any action of transcendence of body through mind is actually achievable and possible, since self-control and self-consciousness gives room to possibilities that the mind was unaware in the 'being in itself' type of experience.

(1) Levine, Steven. "Phil 381." Class Notes on Strawson. UMB, Boston. Mar. 2014. Lecture.
(2) Evans, Gareth. "Commentary upon Strawson's Individuals." Things without the Mind. Print
(3) Sartre, Jean-Paul. "Chapter 2 - The Body." Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology. Philosophical Library, 1956.

(4) Shoemaker, Sydney. "Introspection and the Self." 121. Print

(5) Levine, Steven. "Phil 381." Class Notes on Sartre. UMB, Boston. April. 2014. Lecture.

(6) Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. The Phenomenology of Mind. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

(7) Levine, Steven. "Phil 381." Class Notes on Descartes. UMB, Boston. April. 2014. Lecture.

(8) Strawson, P. F. "Unity and Objectivity." The Bounds of Sense: An Essay on Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' London: Methuen.

(9) Sartre, Jean-Paul. "Chapter 2 - The Body." Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology. 309. Philosophical Library, 1956.

(10) Hirsch, Sonia. Meditating in the Kitchen. Rio De Janeiro: Correcotia, 2011. Print.

(11) Knowler, Karen. Eat Right for Your Personality Type: How to Work with Your Unique Personality to Create the Perfect Diet for You. London: Hay House, 2012. Print.

quinta-feira, novembro 20, 2014

Lack of liberty in a Libertarian Political Economy

The current state of affairs in the International order can be seen in two very distinct ways. First as the desired outcome in which a human rights law exist and individual liberty is taken into consideration and respected independent of social status or nationality. Freedom is not only a interest of all individuals, but it is a moral right since all humans have the basic needs of being the ruler of their own body in order to act consciously and flourish in this reality, and it have become a legal right for all since the abolishment of slavery. Second as a international order driven by capital, in which individual freedom is the most desired right and the market is what guide self-interested human beings in the competitive collective life. Although liberal theories of the nineteenth century represent an advance toward the ideas of equality and justice, numerous contradictions arise. Not always the implementation of liberal ideas can reconcile the economic interests and the ethical aspects. Moral life is only actually achievable based in cooperation, reciprocity and the development of responsibility and commitment, since without this basic virtues life become a life of vices and competition which are characteristics that don't make society evolve justly. Nowadays the market economy is developing and taking control over the sovereignty of states, since now policies and national decisions aren’t based on the needs of the majority of the people, instead they are usually resolved with the interests of the ruling elite which owns land and multinational companies, due to this fact individuals are being divided into categories of people in which capital is what drive these self-interested assets of the government. Viable and effective individual liberty can only be achievable when the Law acknowledges the equality of human rights among all. In the current period, where there is a huge social injustice and lack of human rights, a new conception of what is a right need to be drawn, and it can only be achieved based in a just ethical theory that respects the dignity of human beings as individuals independent of economic or national status. In this sense the other isn't the limit of our liberty, or a competitive being that only acts based on its own utility and freedom of choice, but instead a condition to achieve collective liberty. The Utilitarian moral theory holds liberty as an essential virtue but changes its indispensable characteristics, since liberty have no meaning where there is no individual liberty of action, and where accomplishments in life are based on monetary purchasing power.
The first option is largely argued in Rights discourse; in this case the state would be like a Republic, in which above all economics incentives it is the Law that guides and endeavors individuals. Multiculturalism would be protected and granted under this law of rights of man, without racial/national divisions or privileges, and people would be seen as equal socially and under the law, not only as self interested individualist labor power sellers in the market. Since it seems to be a situation in which nations have decided what is best for individuals, and proclaimed some essential Human rights that are seen as the basis for a social animal that have needs and desires and lives collectively, it is a rights based morality aimed to the collective good independent of nationality or monetary power. John Locke have claimed that law creates a condition, a sociable atmosphere for the enjoyment of liberty, and therefore where law ends, tyranny begins and without a disciplined life liberty has no meaning, society wants liberty since it is a genuine virtue, and only through law it can be achieved (1). The second option is largely argued in modern Economics discourse as well as on current interpretations of utilitarian moral theory, it seems to be a situation in which above the state there are the giants of the ruling market, corporations. In this case the state isn't sovereign, it is Imperialist since company owners are the ones with power, and are the ones that make decisions based on a goal that most of the time is beneficial only to themselves, not to the majority of the population. This society is largely dependent on capital generated by monopolist firms and freedom is what is preached to be the most desirable right held by citizens in which independent of their culture, religion, social status and ethnicity they are seen as equal in the sense they are all self-interested individuals that strive for a never ending goal of attaining more and more capital; The right to freedom is seen as fulfilled, since the interpretation of it is one of people being self-determined in the sense that the state don’t interfere in individuals choices and capabilities, these individuals want to be left alone by the state, and government intervention isn't desirable, since individual liberty is society's main goal. Which makes people see their individual achievements and misfortunes as belonging only to themselves, they think they achieve a high social status due to their own potentials, and that they are in poverty due to their laziness, but the fact is that differently from that, liberty shouldn’t be a barrier and a separation of men due to the possession of material wealth and individual potential, since social injustice is everywhere and people don’t have the same abilities to act due to lack of resources. Many other problems arise with the Libertarian moral theory, since it doesn't account for human rights, neither for other essential virtues other than individualistic liberty.
A human rights perspective can be seen in the article by Wiredu analysing the Akan society (2). He describes that the definition of a person influences a lot the Akan analysis of politics and law, according to their culture people are very interdependent one another from when we are born until we become elder. The degrees of an individual becoming a person is what makes available social status in the community and rights, which according to Wiredu involved duties and obligations to self, household and community; the more obligations more of a person an individual was considered. I agree with Wiredu that the Akan notions of human dignity and justice can be similar to those expressed in International human rights standards, since they are all related in the sense that these virtues are essential for any individual to flourish and to achieve their potentials and accomplishments, they are also both grounded in moral rights, which are ethical principles held and desired by all human beings. The Akan concept of what constitutes an individual gives room to many other virtues that together construct an ideology of reciprocity and of equal rights, since it is a communal/tribal way of seeing society instead of a individualistic capitalist ideology which it is the one that we share in the twenty first century. So even though the foundation is the same, their concept of equality among all people is very divergent from the one we hold, the libertarian view of things made people think as if they were independent and different from each other, and Wiredu clearly show the dependency that all humans have to each other; the Western ideology is one of independence from each other since we are very competitive and individualistic. Reciprocity and communal society is also clear when Wiredu presents that the tribal rights don't have to be enforced in order to be a right, instead they are principles that everybody agree to and everybody participate inn for the simple fact of being a person, if an International order was to be implanted this would be a good way of seeing it, as rational principles that individuals hold by their factual status of a person that participate in and exist with the world, independent of their national status or monetary power. Since by having this principles in mind a more interdependent way of seeing the other could be achieved and the virtue of reciprocity could start to affect individuals and their private interests.
The shift in ideology is very clear, going from the Akan to the Western taught, while the Akan held a mutually beneficial community with rights, the Western holds autonomous individuals that have rights but don't necessarily enjoy them due to lack of capital or citizenship. According to socialist economist Karl Marx the ideology of dialectical materialism, considers that "social being determines consciousness", ie, "the mode of production of material life conditions the development of social life, intellectual, and political as a whole." (3) This means that expressions of human consciousness - including moral - are a reflection of the relationships men establish in society to produce its existence, and therefore change as the modes of production change, we can see in the Akan analysis by Wiredu that their ideology was a much more egalitarian than the liberal moral theory due to both a small scale/tribal production process, and essentially to their definitions of what constitute a person and how interdependence is the essence of everyone. A world economy based on trade, foreign commodities and specialization have shifted the way individuals see themselves and the things we deal with in our everyday life. The over appreciation of the material world and the market economy created both a inconsideration of the individual, or the other, as well as a division of people based precisely on their material possessions. Marx seeks to recover man in productive activity which determines the relations of production that are very specific according to time and place. This type of analysis allows one to observe that where there is society divided into classes with antagonistic interests, the moral of the ruling class dominates, imposes itself on the dominant class and becomes an ideological tool to maintain their domination. One example is that people that are considered of a lower class want to buy goods that are unachievable to them in order to be similar to the higher class, in Economics we call this activity conspicuous consumption, in which the lower class isn't aware of themselves and of their limitations, but instead want to show off that their purchasing power is high, illusively, as if that would make them a higher category of a person. Therefore they strive to work even more in order to buy the goods that the more privileged people own, but this purchasing power isn't the nature of the problem of their disregard as individuals, rather it becomes a stronger control from the ruling class over them, since they work even more and continue to suffer negligence even when owning the more expensive commodities. This clearly show that individuals of the lower class don’t have freedom of choice when buying commodities, since they are heavily influenced by the higher class in their choices and desires.
For Marx moral concerns the personal sphere, there is no way to live morally in a world that has not yet established the order of social justice. A Social justice can still be libertarian and democratic like the one that rules International order nowadays, but it would have to insure the protection of the less privileged or the class that don't achieve their potentials due to inequality of land and capital distribution. These could be done if a principle that generated a general happiness based on human rights took place, but this principle can't depend on capital, instead it must hold capital as an opportunity of action that was created in order to make our lives easier instead of dividing us. The author Wiredu (2) describes a society that was libertarian and democratic, since individuals could act based on their own will and potential, their actions weren’t controlled by an authoritative government, instead a person could achieve more influence over the collective life depending on how much of a person it become. But the Akan society is a modern libertarian, since state intervention is supported to help the ones that lack resources. The government could interfere in the lives of the Akan individuals that couldn't reach their potential through redistribution, this aspect is very important since land was of a very high value to the Akan society, more than education, since land was what made labor possible and consequently subsistence. Nowadays scholars argue that there is a difference between having a right from enjoying that right, in other words, if it is acknowledged by the government a right to freedom it doesn’t necessarily follow that people are going to be free, or that freedom will be the same to all individuals in that society. This is a individualistic and unjust way of claiming a right, since if there is no enjoyment then there is no right, there is privilege. Liberal democracy is a democracy of rights and not of factual liberty, formal and not substantial freedom, because it allows the elitism of power: only those that own land/capital have political power, only the ones that are from the right nation with the right amount of money are able to fully enjoy rights. Another Rights scholar, Joel Feinberg (4) argues that rights aren't the same as deserving the substance of the right, in this sense to deserve something or to work for something does not follow that it will be factually enjoyed. Since Rights entail other peoples duties, and if the duty holder have more economic power then the right holder, it doesn't follow that the persons right will be provided. Even though the second class citizen have the legal right and deserve the substance of their right, if the powerful other (government, higher class) don't recognize this right then it doesn't follow that they must supply the substance of that right. The result is that men are not as equal as it seems, and therefore the freedom of choice isn't a individual liberty but instead a equivalence of each other in terms of laws and the status quo. This is related to rights since lawmaking need to adjust to this economical divisions, rights must become the assurance of the enjoyment of substances rather than just right claims that can be without substance, therefore only formal. Such as the right to Education, someone that owns capital is able to pick and choose from a vast number of schools while someone that lack monetary power have to subject themselves to the schools that the government ascribes. The ones with less capital have less freedom of choice even though the right of education per se is being fulfilled is it clear that the ones with more money have more ability to enjoy it. The way it is nowadays only the capital holders are able to enjoy factual rights, and that is unfair, therefore a Law must be created in order to assure that the ones with less potential and resources, or the second class of citizens, are protected, respected, and granted with actual rights.
According to the Libertarian theory, to be free is to decide and act like you want, without any causal determination, neither coming from outside (environment in which we live), nor inside (desires, character). Even assuming that such forces exist; the free act belongs to an independent scheme which makes up individual human freedom. Being free is therefore to be uncaused, or only caused by oneself. Transcendence is the act by which man performs the movement to overcome himself, or negate the influences that come from outside and inside acting egocentrically; while also overcoming his dimensions of liberty (5). Freedom is not a gift, something that is given, nor is it a starting point, but it is the result of a labor intensive task, something that man must conquer in order to hold a just International order that respects differences rather then equate them in a capital driven Imperialist society. Therefore it only depend on us being aware of what freedom is becoming and adjust it to the majority will, a right to freedom must follow from a enjoyment of freedom, there are many obstacles to achieve it but in order to evolve and progress society must acknowledge what it have become (purchasing power) and alter it in a way to benefit the whole. Freedom is not the absence of obstacles, but the development of the ability to master them and overcome them, and one obstacle to the achievement of a Fundamental Rights agreement is corporations that have conquered competition and are monopolists of the modern world. America is preached to be a 'free country' for the fact that when one is looking for a job, aka willing to sell their labor power on the market, the company in which the person applies to can't ask about their age, nationality or religion. The question that arise is whether this is a assurance of individual freedom, or if this is simply the disregard of individual identity. The fact that the employer isn't concerned with your differences means that everyone can enjoy rights equally or rather that what the employer wants from you is precisely what you have in common with everyone else? That is your willing to earn capital and to labor for it. It is a fine line that divides respecting and disconsidering, and this line must be drawn by rights as well as by the values held by this society.
When the ultimate value is Liberty, it becomes very blurry what must be provided and what must be attained egocentrically. Rights discourse scholar MacDonald (5) makes a distinction on how things are vs. how things should be, she claims that the conditions of a good society are determined by human decisions, and human decisions according to her are expressions of values. In contrast Utilitarian theorist John Stuart Mill (6) have claimed that one conduct is legitimate as soon as there is no harm to others, as well as claiming that evil means justify good ends, and that the goal is to have more happiness in society as a overall addition of individual units of pleasure. Both scholars argue for liberty, the fact that MacDonald claims that what drives a good society are precisely expressions of value is very contrary to Mill's 'unit of happiness' since the fact that no one was harmed doesn't follow from a general expression of value or justice. The utilitarian moral theory try to simplify actions based on what is good and what is bad, but not everything can be reduced to that, and this additions of units can be very broad, for example, according to 21st century Utilitarian economists, pleasure is gathered through consumption, so the more a society consumes the happier the society is, I think this isn't a legitimate claim, since other expressions of value must play a role when happiness is to be achieved other than purchasing power. Like we saw when mentioning Marx, the happiness that is derived from purchasing power only creates a greater control from the ones in power over the workers, since the workers believe that they would be treated better if they own the same type of commodities as the higher class, but that doesn't follow precisely because of what they intrinsically are: unprivileged due to socioeconomic situation.
According to Moral theorist Arendt (7) a new emancipated society, which I call market economy, have taken away the security of human and social rights from individuals that are considered of a lower status. The individuals that are considered as a second class citizenship, which is a concept that can be seen in terms of national identity or economic class aren't “persecuted for what they have done or taught” but instead because of what they unchangeably were – born into the wrong kind.” In a just International agreement on human rights there should be no division on kinds of people like the one claimed by Arendt, people should be seen as equal, by the simple fact that they are embodied rational individuals that share the same space and time and that are intrinsically interdependent from when they are born until they become of age. In the current interests of our time individuals are claimed free but don't have the same capabilities of actions as the ones that own capital and property, therefore their claims are invalid due to lack of rights enjoyment and freedom of choice. In one family, two brothers can be of different classes and with no sense of love or socialism, the one brother can be of a monetary disadvantage, which makes him a second class citizen more subjected to punishment and suffering, while the second brother can be of a high economic status and enjoy a life more safe and free. This illustrates how this capitalist notion of individual independence as well as this distinction of kinds of human beings, as if people weren't all the same, can be caused due to Economic disparities which consequently promotes much more rights to the ones that are considered a better type of person, and generate more misery to the less privileged class.
Another point according to Arendt that is related to a Human rights perspective is when she asserts the “fundamental deprivation of human rights is manifested first and above all in the deprivation of a place in the world which makes opinions significant and actions effective. This second class citizens are “deprived not of the right to freedom, but of the right to action, not to the right to think whatever they please, but of the right to opinion” (7) The equivalence of all individuals under a market economy is taken as a given way of living, in other words as a determination of this reality, and people subject themselves to it without being able to have awareness of what it is or how it works, and more importantly, without factually enjoying their individual rights. The individuals in this society don't have opinions towards what civil and economical principles should be enforced or implemented, they can neither act effectively since the whole system is bureaucratic and alienated from the individual in the form of institutions and corporations that together form a scheme that confounds and leaves them with Laws that punish but don't provide. Individuals are seen as means to ends, since what the economy and the government want from you is your labor power so that you contribute to the production and distribution of goods in the claimed free society, in which people believe that everything depends on themselves, and their responsibility to community and nation are acknowledged by the Laws that exist, but reality instead can be seen as very different from that, since the economy and the government are million multinational owners that want to take advantage of each one of us in order to benefit no one other than themselves and their interests. On one hand money is the major symbol of power, on the other hand it is a piece of paper printed by the Federal Bank (which is privately owned). On one hand celebrities and politicians show conspicuously their social status and purchasing power, while on the other hand there is poverty, famine and people that don't even have conditions to subsist.
When trying to exert their freedom, the second class of citizens finds that the free choice of the privileged individuals increasingly delimits their own space of action. In the jungle of competition, where each fights for himself and don't own obligations to none, the substance of the right is an illusion. Beyond, when the poor want to express their wishes and desires, the scene immediately assumes the character of a disorder or unjustified struggle. Therefore the less privileged not only suffer from a life without factual rights, but when they become conscious of the class conflict they can't even try to fight democratically without getting pepper sprayed. In the Libertarian moral theory as well as in the Utilitarian, the concept of freedom don't have its starting point in the individual freedom, but rather in the collective interest, since it is from the collective that the individual behavior is regulated. So the Libertarian theory have been essentially misidentified since it claims to be the establishment of individual liberty while on the big picture it is collectively based. And moreover, in the current state the collective interest isn't the interest that benefits the 'minorities' as some like to call, but instead the interest of the owners of corporations that are dominating the states and the law without any restraints, holding money as decoy, and holding people as means to the achievement of a global domination without human rights.
Only Laws can prevent the abuse of power, I argue that the only check to power from the dominants of today's reality is a Human Rights declaration. In which independent of an individual social status or national identity they are respected and considered as self-worth human beings that come from a communal way of subsistence, which are social animals, and therefore must act according to their reality. The ultimate goal in this case is to have behaviors that are governed by universal principles, which are principles of justice: the equality of human rights, respect for the dignity of human beings as individuals, recognizing Kant's ethical standards (8), that people are ends in themselves and need to be treated as such. In an International order driven by capital the people are means for the generation of national wealth, since individuals that are considered as the second class citizenship are commodities in the labor market, which are exchangeable and perishable. The concept of freedom suffer a dialectical change since it became a disregard of who you are; freedom become a value very similar to equality in which everyone is seen as competitive individuals striving for capital and their identity, nationality, sex and ethnicity stop concerning the state since all what they need is your willingness to labor in order to generate capital to the Economy. Through Rights discourse and philosophical reasoning individuals are able to see that some essential aspects of reality vanish in this environment, such as virtues other than Liberty.

  1. "John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property.": The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2014.
  2. Wiredu, Kwasi: “Human rights in Africa : cross-cultural perspectives” pages 243-260
  3. Marxists Internet Archive."Dialectical Materialism”. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2014.
  4. Feinberg, “The nature and value of rights” pages 243-258
  5. Sartre, Jean-Paul. "The Body." Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. New York: Philosophical Library, 1956. Print.
  6. "Theories of Rights."Rights and Duties. MacDonald, n.d. Web. 09 May 2014.
  7. "John Stuart Mill: On Liberty."Utilitarian Moral Theory. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2014.
  8. Arendt, Hannah. "The Perplexities of the Rights of Man.” The Origins of Totalitarianism. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973. N. pag. Print.
  9. Kant – Class notes on March, 2014

domingo, novembro 16, 2014

Dancers are beings for themselves

 The question of self and body have been largely discussed in philosophy. This question addresses what makes up an individual and which characteristics are essential for a subject to be and act like a person. Some follow the Cartesian dualism view, in which the mind is argued to be better known than the body, since the mind is our essence and the body is simply our property (1). While others such as Evans and Sartre argue that the body is the factual part of ourselves, and therefore constitute a persons identity and self-awareness, the way individuals act on their body is intrinsically connected to how the body acts on the world, this unity expresses a view of living and experiencing reality from inside and therefore intimately relating body with mind (2). Body is the existing part of ourselves, the physical condition for someone to be in this reality, while the mind is the intrinsic and non factual part of the self. Both ways of analyzing and experiencing the body are valuable, but only the phenomenological theory, the incorporation of mind and body as one, gives room to the proprioception that ballet dancers must have in order to grow into the field of dance. 

 According to Melo, a well known pedagogue from South America, body awarness emerges as the most complex and most refined level of the organization and notion of the body (3). Following this line of taught the French writter Theresa Bertherat claims “Our body are we. It is our only perceptual reality. It isn't opposed to our intelligence, feeling or soul. It includes and shelter it. Therefore, to become aware of our own body is to have access to our entire being... since, body, spirit, psychic, and even strength and weakness, represent not the duality of being but its unity.” (4). This unity of body and mind is essential to any progress in dance since it is preciselly this unity that is the tool to become a good dancer, since a dancer is aware of itself as well as of its body. It is possible, according to the specialists cited above, to have propioception as an integration of the elements that constitute the being, and the sapience of itself as well as of the constitutions of this unity. The notion of the physical body will be developed further, and being related to the contribution of ballet to the improvement of perception of this integration.  

 Ballet is a integral corporal activity, it stands out since it labors all of the muscles in the body, within movements of distention or contraction, developing a major notion of the existing relationship between the parts of the body. Due to its wholeness ballet gives room to the understanding of how the position of the feet influences the posture, the corporal message that is transmitted and the limits of its own body.  While descovering the functions of parts of the body that are usually ignored, the dancer becomes aware of how the exercise of a certain area of the body is intrinsically related to the other parts, that aren't necessarilly close to each other, which consequently leads the individual to acquire a better understanding of its body as one, as a series of correlated unities that are co-dependents. For exemple, while positioning the sholders in the correct form in order to execute an exercise of legs sustent, the dancer acquires more lightness in the movement as well as less tension in the lumbar, following less pain. This body awareness is essential to a good dancer, and it comes gradually since the dancer is, in philosophical terms, a being for itself.

 For Sartre, a person can see themselves in two distinct ways. A person that is a “being for itself”(5) is a self consciousness being that see their self and body as dependent parts of the same whole. It is a type of consciousness that acts self-reflectively and have self-consciousness, therefore is free and able to transcend the duality of mind and body as a separation, this is due to awareness of both   unity and of the material world. Another scholar, Shoemaker, characterizes this type of self, as beings that find no need for introspection (6), the perceiver is aware of themselves by being aware of the objects, a per-reflectively awareness of world is what carries an awareness of self and consequently of mind. This type of individual is intentionally aware of objects and therefore more capable of controlling their actions and desires, in the case of a dancer, it is a individual that controls it's body to a degree that it is capable of doing things that the majority ignore. The self in this case isn't a reflection of the mind, but instead the mind in its material form, and therefore is a self-governing type of being, that is conscious of their material state, consequently it is able to govern it's body independently of what the norms are. On the other hand, a person that is a “being in itself” is a person filled with self , it considers itself as something given to them rather then a part of their being, and therefore don't have much control or power to govern their material state, its objective is simply to be what it is, or to fit in without self-consciousness. In this later case, the body is simply used by the mind, or the property of mind, or even more philosophically, it is a product of the environment; and therefore it is a debodified type of consciousness, or in a Hegelian term a 'alienated' (7) type of being, in which their actions aren't seen as themselves but instead as part of themselves. Which is nothing like the unity that ballet dancers must have in order to control their body.

  The comprehension of body is something that depends on practice and on repetition of certain movements so that the discernment of the effects of the different alterations can be interiorized, reflected upon, and materialized on stage. The more frequent the exercises of body in motion, that pursues the full development of the body, such as ballet, the quicker it is for the mind to assimilate the execution and the effects of itself. The same way, the more time dedicated to the activity, the more easy it is to perform the execution of the movements. As observed by Barbara Pereira, a ballarina from Brazil “In ballet classes it is very interesting to note how you become a balarina, it is clear the body awareness, the body limits and how much one can require from its body, of how the body learns and how much it learns, and allows one to have purpose to try harder with the development; one can also see how the perception of space improves, with propioception, one start to know more about the surroundings.” (8) This starts with the required space to perform the correct execution of a step, and evolves to the complete dance, and even further, to the space that the body require in any other dailly activity. Experiencing the body as one, or improving propioception through dance, allows individuals to see themselves as rulers over their body as thinking things, their body isn't seen as solely subject of experience but also as possessors of states of mind in which the body is a essential element and must be controlled from the inside. 

 Dance can contribute to the development of many different aspects of an individual, not only to the transcendence of the dualist ideology but also to coordination, lateralization, internalization, awareness of body segments, temporal and spatial perception. Therefore one can see that it isn't an activity merely for entertainment, for sports or artistic – even tough all of these assertions are truth. Dance in general and specially Ballet seek more then only an improvement of the physical activity, but it is also concerned with the individuals consciousness of itself and of its body. With the refinement of the notion of the body, it becomes possible to aspire even more. When knowing the functioning of the body the individual is able to perceive themselves, and for that reason seek to solve different reactions or physical states of themselves. Knowing the common behavior of your body, one can distinguish the days when it is more sensitive, more painful, what foods give greater feeling of heaviness, the effects of sleep deprivation, the effects of heavy exercise; ie, small changes that might pass unnoticed or whose consequences were not fully understood. Once the body and it's changes are better understood one can see that some conditions of the mind can also affect the body such as fatigue, anxiety, exhaustion which are examples of states of mind that are reflected in the body. Therefore different aspects of reality can be better understood and resolved by the unity of mind and body as one, which is what ballet pursue, not only the physical development of the dancer but also the development of the dancer itself and of its relation to the external world. 
 The transcendence of seeing the body as a given mechanism, to seeing it as an opportunity of action, is central in order to achieve mindfulness and self control, it is also central to be a good dancer and to relate better to ones body in space. An activity that is able to not only develop the physical conditions of the individual but also to integrate mind and body is an activity that is integral and therefore highlly recommended to all individuals. The way of seing the body as a property rather then as ourselves is a alienated way of living and must be overcome for anything to be concrete in this reality, development and evolution are only possible when the body is our effective selves and therefore this way of experiencing reality must be stimulated and encouraged dispite of gender, race or aptitude.


(1) Levine, Steven. "Phil 381." Class Notes on Strawson. UMB, Boston. Mar. 2014. Lecture.
(2) Evans, Gareth. "Commentary upon Strawson's Individuals." Things without the Mind. Print
(3) Melo, Jose Pereira. Development of the corporal consciousness: an experience of physical education in the pre-school age. Sao Paulo. UNICAMP,1997
(4) Bertherat, The?re?se. The Body Has Its Reasons: Self Awareness through Conscious Movement. N.p.: n.p., 1989. Print. 
(5) Sartre, Jean-Paul. "Chapter 2 - The Body." Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology. Philosophical Library, 1956.
(6) Shoemaker, Sydney. "Introspection and the Self." 121. Print
(7) Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. The Phenomenology of Mind. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.
(8) Pereira, Barbara. Personal Statement.

Finance thriving in XXI century

Financialization was argued in a variety of ways in this weeks readings, the shift from industrial to finance capitalism is the main connector in all approaches, also the shift from real investment to financial investment. Krippner define financialization as the growing weight of finance in the American Economy; A pattern of accumulation in which profits accrue primarily through financial channels rather then through trade and commodity production. According to her since the 1970's the US have derived more profits from financial activities and she illustrate this theory with table 3- how the financial industry outpaced the productive investment in industry share of corporate profits. A decline in manufacturing and a rise in both service and finance shows how finance grew more then 5 times in the last 50 years even tough it didn't really impact employment. Financialzation can also be seen as the freedom from banks and consequently a decline in the cost of loans. Instead of getting money from a bank the entrepreneur that wanted to start an industry went to some rich family and asked for a long term money loan – bond. It was like a ownership right on a firm, a right to future earnings.
Globalization have a central role in the process of financialization. Free market was pushed by IMF and world bank, which obliged countries to fit into the world market. Imperialism of world trade due to competition among states, in competitive markets prices go down due to number of sellers, so the more the better. Entrance cost reduction due to information technology also contributed for the global market. It was desired that capital could be invested outside borders, the capitalist claimed that this expansion was to help 3rd world countries since capital was going to flow into them and therefore could ameliorate the conditions of life and stimulate growth for the country, what was sold to 3rd world countries was the promise of growth with financialization and capital flow from developed to not developed. Also, idle capital that wasn't productive and wasn't generating surplus could now start to expand itself in a new market that generated more surplus then investment in developed sectors. But speculation became the world economy, financialization caused an integration of global production, taking advantage of floating exchange rates. Many aspects of the economy are affected by fluctuation of exchange rate, and trade when it encompass different money values. Exports were affected due to value of the currency fluctuation, the US wanted to keep the dollar high and therefore lost exports, since it is much easier for other countries to import if the value of the money that they buy from is depreciated. Finance changed the meaning of surplus extraction, not interested or usury but instead in commission made from the exchange of one currency over the other. The key to make profit in finance was not the size of the firm, but diversification, specially of currency. Decentralization was the key to profits in the financial-sector.
As argued in the essays, the question of investment of surplus and of surplus generation is central to the financialization process. As noted, productivity gains have not been reinvested in the corporation, but rather been distributed to shareholders or used for the purchase of financial products. The victory of the rentiers has

come at the expense of wage-earners and households, who have faced stagnating real wages and increased debt. Since the 1970s American corporations have increasingly derived profits from financial activities. Not only has the financial industry increased its share of GDP, but profits from interest, dividends and capital gains for non-financial corporations have outpaced those from productive investment. And this was extended to the workers life, or the financialization of the civil society. Corporations started selling bonds to regular people to bring in more cash to the capitalist; when relating financial availability to the labour class the financial concept of Securization is key, since it means to take one form of a note and sell it again, so make money in two ways with the same note. All financial concepts and modifications were based on models rather then in practice, which gives more room to error and therefore to crisis or inequality of information. The lack of information of electronic trading filled with mistiming in opened financial websites such as yahoo, also went against the labor class. Even tough finance opened the market for civilians to act upon it, and to make profits, it wasn't a fair openness, and therefore didn't help the labor class.

On Lapavistas theory she introduces the concept of financialization as a form of capital accumulation; in a Marxist view this pattern can be identified as the characteristics of mature capitalism 'absorption of surplus' monopolies generate an ever expanding surplus that results in stagnation and in declining production while finance thrive. Seek profit in some way other then attempting to profitability in production; The comodification and expansion of an area that didn't exist before as profit generating. The development of Marx 'fictious capital' seen as financial prices, stock market. While Orhangazi show us a different perspective of financialisation having a negative effect on capital accumulation, since accumulation can be understood as simply the re-investment within the production process, which doesn't happen as illustrated by both Orhangazi and Davis, since what they show is that the surplus doesn't go into real investment but rather flow from financial investment to financial investment and therefore isn't accumulation. I disagree. The fact that the concept of accumulation mean a re-investment into production don't leave out the fact that financial investment expands capital and therefore produce surplus that isn't distributed in the economy but instead is appropriated by the capitalist. The graph on Krippner's theory seem to illustrate that even tough cash flow and profit rose, employment wasn't generated and therefore centralization of capital and accumulation happened as a result of financialization.

quinta-feira, junho 20, 2013


O tempo chegou. O povo acordou. A nação mudou, e o governo ira mudar com ela.

Tudo por dinheiro, foda-se o que é moral, social ou ético, afinal quase ninguém no congresso teve aula de filosofia ou sociologia. O próprio Lula não tem nem a quinta série, então não deve ter lido Marx ou Locke – aliás, disse que não gosta de ler. Não sabe o que é política, ou como ela nasceu, de onde vieram os artigos da Constituição e com base em que eles foram criados. Se bobear não sabe nem que a menos de mil anos não existia dinheiro, e que dinheiro foi inventado quando a Religião já não fazia o controle da população sozinha. Afinal, era pecado emprestar dinheiro... quem diria!

Mas que País retrógrado: em pleno século XXI, um religioso, que se bobear não sabe nem quem fundou a própria religião, nunca deve ter ouvido falar de Lutero ou das mudanças que Constantino fez na Bíblia que lêem atualmente - esse homem se tornaria o Presidente da Comissão de Direitos Humanos da Câmara Federal!

Que governo estranho e imoral.
Não queremos vinte centavos, queremos REDISTRIBUICAO, ORDEM, ETICA.

Queremos que a Interpol pegue os 20 bilhões encontrados do mensalão e entregue em nossas mãos, nas mãos de quem quer um País melhor: transporte de qualidade, hospitais e rodovias decentes, controle da devastação do meio ambiente e redistribuiçãode renda - é isso que precisamos.

Dinheiro não foi feito para ser estocado em montes e guardado para gerar juros ou uma segurança ideológica como a maioria dos alienados acreditam.

O dinheiro deveria existir para maximizar a nossa qualidade de vida, melhorar nossa realidade e fazer tudo ficar mais fácil. E isso claramente não acontece no Brasil.

No Brasil TUDO é mais difícil: pessoas que querem trabalhar têm que se sacrificar sobrevivendo com um salário mínimo, se esmagando dentro de um transporte publico, duas, três, quatro vezes por dia; gastando mais que 20% do seu salário mínimo somente em transporte! Transporte esse que na grande maioria das vezes esta depredado, queimando óleo e poluindo o ar, com o pneu careca e risco de acidente, e sempre lotado.

Que força de vontade alguém tem de passar por tudo isso quando no Fantástico mostram matérias sobre hotéis com diárias de NOVE mil reais?

Que falta de HUMANIDADE, de respeito para com mais de 60% da população que sobrevive com 650 reais mensais. Isso sem falar nas filas de hospitais, dos desvios de dinheiro de MERENDA escolar para conta de laranjas.

A mudança tem que vir - e virá! - através da minha geração; nós que estudamos muito e que já nascemos no meio dessa escória que manda no País e que ira mudar, está mudando, irá evoluir!

Só espero que o tamanho da mudança seja um terço do tamanho da insatisfação generalizada.

segunda-feira, novembro 19, 2012

Capitalismo das Emoçoes

Estou no terceiro ano de filosofia na faculdade, e cada dia que passa a ideologia do ser humano me assusta mais. Neste semestre estou muito focada em Marx e em suas teorias do social. Acredito que se tivéssemos o livro Capital ao invés da Bíblia como o mais lido, certamente já estaríamos uns 400 anos mais evoluídos do que estamos atualmente.
O que quero escrever hoje é sobre o conceito que ele introduz nesse livro, e que depois é muito debatido e muito presente quando o assunto é a ideologia da minha geração: a reificação.

A reificação é a idéia de que todos estamos coisificados, ou que vivemos em uma sociedade onde o material tomou o lugar do social. As nossas relações, não só as sociais mas em todos os conceitos como os básicos de Amor e de Justiça, já não existem mais: deram lugar a um novo conceito de amor e de justiça, esse que consegue ser comprado ou materializado.

Eu mesma vejo isso desde quando nasci, quando meu avô dizia que temos duas chances de dar certo na vida, uma quando nascemos e outra quando casamos. O pulo do gato aqui é que esse "dar certo na vida" não é a chance de ser feliz, ou de amar, ou de viver bem, que são conceitos do social, mas ao invés, é a chance de ter capital, de ter dinheiro, de ter bens, de acumular tudo isso, e isso é o material. Dar certo é ter coisas.
Esse é um exemplo básico de como até o Amor virou algo comercial, quando você quer ter (o amor) não para a satisfação emotiva, mas para a satisfação fisica e meramente terrena, material.

Isso não é nada estranho para uma sociedade onde até Deus quer dinheiro. Óbvio. Para os não esclarecidos sobre as verdades do nosso mundo, Deus precisa de dinheiro. Então quem somos nós para achar que não precisamos?

O casamento para mim era algo que envolvia muito mais do que dinheiro e sexo, como atualmente. Eu acredito no amor, e acredito na felicidade, e acredito que nenhum dos dois envolvidos em uma relação amorosa dependem do acúmulo de capital para serem felizes.

Mas em um lugar onde você só pode transar ou ficar pelada na frente do namorado se este estiver pagando suas contas ou se este estiver com intenções de unir bens, para mim isso é prostituição e não amor. É por isso que o amor tem uma idéia reificada (usando o termo filosófico), visto que o Amor não é mais tido ou sentido como algo “fora” do mundo material.

A Justiça é outro excelente exemplo disso. Atualmente, com todos esses acontecimentos dos Kaiowa, no Brasil; da Palestina; das reservas ambientais que viram resort e, principalmente, dos presídios, é mais claro do que nunca que a Justiça também se rendeu ao materialismo. Uma amiga postou no Facebook essa semana um gráfico que mostra as prisões e as divisões raciais, mostrando que o número de negros e latinos presos aqui nos Estados Unidos é exorbitantemente maior do que os de brancos. Vocês acham que isso acontece por quê? Porque os brancos são bem mais educados e não cometem crimes como os mal educados negros e latinos? Óbvio que não! O que acontece é que a Justiça se tornou um comércio: quem tem mais dinheiro não é preso e quem não tem é melhor que fique lá dentro.

Não existe mais o senso social, somente o senso material, onde o que importa é quem paga mais e não quem tem mais razão ou ética. É o triunfo do capital.

Esses são apenas dois exemplos dos milhares de reificados que temos atualmente. Dois que eu sinto na pele e que me assustam. Mas tudo se enquadra dentro da ideologia reificada que temos hoje sem nem sabermos de onde ela vem. Nós vamos só seguindo as ovelhas como se tudo fosse normal e natural, sendo que o capital não deveria estar relacionado a nenhum dos dois termos.

terça-feira, abril 26, 2011

Futuro do Cinema

The audience is interested in seeing films that they can relate to, with good acting and high quality screenplays. That can impact them instead of just distracting them for a short amount of time. As time went by, producers and directors are being able to see that the cinema consumers are more interested in good stories than in technological screenplays. The amount of money invested in technology in big productions should instead be sent to writers that have good ideas and screenplays but have no funds to produce films. The future of cinema might not be technology but, instead, the return of an essential way of making cinema; A way known to be focused in small personal dramas rather than focused on 3D technological productions. Cinema should be seen as a type of Art, in which one can experience and relate to, instead of being one more approach of the entertainment industry, in which one get distracted for a short amount of time. By making cinema a part of the junk entertainment industry the studios are degrading the film production and making it less interesting to the audience.

Technology did help the cinema industry tremendously with special effects, by making visual transformations available. Even though it made acting easier and more authentic it didn’t replace actors. Some might say that technology will be the future of cinema because actors aren’t always as writers expect them to be, while virtual actors can be shaped to perfection in order to fit to the writers will. When one writes a story, a book, or a play they have the idea of the character that they are building. That character may not exist in our world. Real actors don’t always fit perfectly to the writer’s ideas, and that is when technology can be helpful. Two of the best directors of all times have talked about the replacement of actors over forty years ago. Stanley Kubric once said “In the future, it will be easier for directors, we will be able to work with virtual actors that are certainly going to be better than the actors we have now.” (Kubric) When you create a virtual actor you are able to shape him to fit your will in order to build your movie character the exact way you want him to be. If the actors are virtually created you are able to make them do whatever you want. The world widely known Alfred Hitchcock said “All actors should be treated like cattle.” (Hitchcock) and what he meant is that directors should be able to make actors do whatever they want in their movies in order to fit to the character. Technology made it easier for an actor to be transformed trough computer technology in order to fit in the character as the producers and writers want them to do so. Technology made movies more real to the writers view. With virtual characters the science fiction movies can be done with perfection. Monsters, magical happenings, and whatever the writer wants the story to include, can be there, with the help of technology. However, after researching about cinema, it is easy to see that animations and science fiction movies aren’t only what cinema is going to be about in the future. No one can neglect that technology is and will still be a tremendous help for the cinema industry, but technological productions won’t be everything in the future, and it won’t replace actors.

By making technological productions the future of cinema, would be less reachable to the audience, since it limits the audience. First of all, not everyone likes animations, fantasy, and science fiction movies. And second of all, adults don’t consume animations as effectively as they now consume personal screenplays. A magazine article that came out last year mentioning the movies planned to be released in 2011 and 2012 argues that movies in 3D that are technological and include animations will only be common among the Cartoon Animation Industry such as Walt Disney and Pixar Studios, instead of being current in Hollywood movies like many cinema critics thought in the beginning of last year. “The plans for 2012 in film productions are focused more in Cartoon Animations including many different Disney productions. 3-D plays a very big hole in Animations, and will keep on playing.” (Rhoda 42) Differently then what Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick have said in the previous century, technology isn’t substituting actors, but instead it is helping them. The special effects are a resource brought by technology in order to help actors fit into the character in an easier way. Writers similar to them, that writes horror and fantasy films, are being able to gather a lot of help with technology. It helps them create the visual effects that they want the audience to experience. But it didn’t make actors out of a job, since society doesn’t want animations, but instead, good screenplays acted by good actors with good visual effects. Producers tried to sell Adult Animations but it didn’t work because these animations are usually just an entertainment, it doesn’t impact the audience like good screenplays do. Animations and virtual actors and productions are going to be focused on science fiction movies and cartoons, which limits the audience, because not everyone that likes cinema likes these types of films. Individuals that appreciate the art of cinema like movies that can impact them, which doesn’t happen with cartoon animations and neither with science fiction movies. Therefore if technological productions become the future of cinema it would limit the audience to those that want entertainment rather then impacting storylines.

Technological productions can also limit the audience because it wasn’t made for everyone. Experiencing 3D in some productions is incredibly pleasant, but studies show us that “there’s no pleasure without pain: Enjoying 3D material in the cinema can lead to undesired effects” (Samsung) warns the Samsung official website. Samsung introduced to the market a new TV, DVD and Blue ray that have the 3D technology in it, but the company is worried about possible side effects caused by this new type of experiencing entertainment. The symptoms could be “possible headaches, nausea disorientation, cramps, and epileptic seizures. The most vulnerable groups are young children, the elderly, those under the influence of alcohol, and pregnant women.” (Poulter) 3D is a very good way of experiencing entertainment but it filters out a lot of the people that are able to enjoy it. Not everyone is able to watch movies in 3D. People that wear corrective glasses have problems wearing the 3D glasses in front of their regular glasses. The only option they have is to wear contact lenses every time they watch 3D movies. People that suffer with Strabismus can’t experience 3D at all; their vision is incapacitated of seeing more then two dimensions. Even though 3D technological productions are a promising future for cinema it is very selective when it comes to audience, not everyone can experience 3D just like they are used to do with regular 2D films. Therefore 3D isn’t a promising future because it is very selective when it comes to audience, not everyone is able to experience it, which filters out the audience, and make the 3D movies seen by less amount of people. The cinema executives already realize that, and they created a new way of making profit with 3D movies; they charge more for them, so that they can have more profit with less audience.

Various people argue that the fact that cinema took the technological pattern in the last couple of years, is because 3D is a resource used by the movie companies to make the bad movies more profitable. Some movies used 3-D as a last option, or a resource to make the movie more lucrative and more marketable. (Guzman) Some movies that were poorly done are using the 3D technology to make it more vendible to the young cinema consumers so that the movie could sell. By doing that, they make the whole concept of 3D to be lost, since one must use 3D in order to make the movie better visually and aesthetically, instead of it being used as a last option to bad screenplays. “Young Hollywood” is corrupt, and lost the instinctive feeling for story and quality, instead, now everything is about the marketing (Ebert). What the audience is looking for isn’t technology and animations, but quality. If a movie is good it doesn’t need a big production or a lot of money to be spent. “3-D is only good for Hollywood executives because they are able to make more money with ticket prices.” (Kehr) For the cinema industry big productions bring more profit since they charge more for the ticket price. A regular screenplay done by an unknown director cost fifteen dollars in a regular movie theater while a 3D movie can cost up to thirty dollars per person in the same movie theater (AMC). It is 100% more for an individual that watches a 3D movie; which consequently makes the cinema executives to have more profit with this type of film. Therefore the cinema industry has increased the production of 3D technological films in poorly produced screenplays, so that they could make more money with ticket prices. If the movie didn’t came out as good as they expected, they make them in 3D, so that they could have the same amount of profit that they would if the movie was good. Some 3D movies had a very rich box office because they were 3D, others had a rich box office because they were well accepted by the audience (IMDB). Hence 3D shouldn’t be seen as the future of cinema, instead it should be seen with suspicion.

In the past there were some classical films that remained in the minds of people and that were good because of the originality and because of its quality rather then being famous because it was an expensive technological production. One clear proof of that are bad remakes that even with the “help of technology” didn’t impact the audience as much as the original film did. An example of that can be the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” which is a science fiction movie that came out better in 1951 without technological special effects then it did in 2008 when it was both colored and technological. The fact that the movie remake was recent, technological, and with more resources, didn’t make it a better movie. Anyone that watches both movies, the one from 1951 and the one from 2008, can easily see that the original had a better screenplay and storyline. In the past, cinema was part of the Art business, now it has become part of the Entertainment business, which made movies less affective towards the audience. Hitchcock and Kubrick were horror and fantasy movie directors, and they produced movies that were remarkable such as “Psycho” and “The clock work orange.” They invested more in other parts of the production of a movie, such as good acting, soundtrack, scripts, scenario etc. Now that the producers and directors show the audience exactly what they want with the help of technology and special effects, the movies became more trivial, since we don’t even have to reflect or to use our imagination in order to understand the content of the movie. Technology distracted the audience taking all the attention that in the past was directed to other parts of the Art of cinema. When one is experiencing a 3D movie they get so into the technological side of it that they aren’t able to analyze the other aspects that make a good movie. People just go to the cinema, watch the movie in 3D, and when they leave the cinema, the only thing they are able to comment on are the visual effects that have distracted/entertained them.

One can easily see that the studio productions shifted the last year. The Academy Awards last year had a very promising technological movie called “Avatar” but the one that actually won the Best Picture Academy Awards in 2010 was “The Hurt Locker” which is a movie about war, focused on the personal drama of a soldier. A movie that had actual actors instead of virtual actors. A movie that according to the New York Times coasted 479 million dollars less then “Avatar” (Cieply) The major problem of producing low cost and personal screenplays such as “The Hurt Locker” is that the Film Industry money doesn’t go to these writers. The challenge for Hollywood directors and producers has been to stop pleasing the studios by resisting towards themes that would both sell well and make a lot of profit (such as 3D). Instead, please themselves by shooting original/personal screenplays. (Luiz Henrique) The studios can do that by directing the money towards writers that are trying to film screenplays but have no funds to produce them. That is what the studios did in the Academy awards this year, after realizing that these types of movies are the ones that impact the audience the most, they directed the money towards less recognized authors and directors that had original ideas and invested on them. The movies that were invested in last year were movies that did use the help of technology, but also incorporated the essential way of making cinema with good soundtrack, acting, scenarios, storylines and screenplays.

One year ago everyone would say that the future of cinema was technology and virtual actors, because of the promising “Avatar” uber production. An expensive, 3D, millionaire production. But this year producers and directors satisfied themselves, and the Oscar nominees were a lot more promising then last years “Avatar”. Two of this year most promising movies were “The Fighter” and “The Black Swan” and they were both personal screenplays. Written by people that aren’t well known in the movie market and that simply found someone that wanted to fund them and help them produce their stories. That is what Hollywood needs. Personal dramas done by writers that want to see their stories in the big screen. “Avatar” was a very good movie but it didn’t begin a revolution in the cinema market as everyone thought it would. It actually showed the audience that a cheaper and more personal film won over it and encouraged other writers to produce films in the same pattern as “The Hurt Locker” movies that cinema consumers can easily relate to. Movies that are both cheaper and have a bigger impact on the audience, that are more artistic then distractive. The objective for the next productions are to direct founds towards good ideas instead of directing them to technological ideas. Many cinema critics claimed that James Cameron revolutionized the Art of making cinema with his “Avatar” (Dalmazo), but what we saw two years after the release wasn’t that. Two years after “Avatar” what actually came out were personal screenplays, rather then technological screenplays.

Technology isn’t going to be the future of cinema, the future of cinema will be films that we can relate to, that have good acting, high quality screenplays, and good soundtrack. Movies that can impact the audience, instead of distracting them. We, the audience, are the ones that shape the future of cinema, we are the ones that can change it in order to fit what we expect of it. What scares me isn’t technology being the future of cinema, but instead, the future of cinema being a junk entertainment industry focused only in distracting us. The essential way of making cinema is broader, smarter and more affective towards the audience. If cinema is a part of the Art industry it can be compared to a book, or a play, or a story instead of being compared to a tv show. “Technology isn’t the worse thing that can happen to the movie industry. being digital becomes no big deal.(118) It is just another in a series of technological shifts in the history of the media” (Crofts) the problem is the technology affecting the cinema history and reputation. “Digital technology is not the demon here, we are. If we don't say something, it will be too late for film preservation.” As a cinema lover, I say that we should fight for good cinema preservation. “Maurice Thornton, retired projectionist, points out, "It's like everything else heritage, if you don't preserve it it's gone and unfortunately it's gone forever because it cannot be recreated, not in the same way. So, that's why I'm a film man. Because I know everything's done digitally now, and I know it's done on video cameras [gesturing towards my HDV camera] and DVD cameras and that, but I don't want to see the old film go." (126) (Crofts) The old/essential way of making cinema won’t go away because we, the audience, are the ones that shape the future of cinema, and we in the last couple of years, showed the Academy that we want stunning and affective storylines.