“How fading and insipid,” Swift wrote, “do all Objects accost us that are not convey’d in the Vehicle of Delusion?”
Also from Harper's:
It is not physician-assisted suicide that poses the greatest threat to the poor and the disabled but physician-assisted eternal life: the desire of the old and the rich to avoid death at any cost, especially if the cost can be passed on to another generation or another continent. The worldwide trade in organs—nine farmers in the Indian village of Rentachintala selling their kidneys to pay off debts to the pawnbrokers who lend them money to buy seed—is but one of the more egregious examples. The trade in ultra-desirable “fresh” human ova is likely to emerge as another. We already know the countries and the classes from which they’re going to be harvested.
Is anything more indicative of the vast chasm that exists between rich and poor, between a minority in surfeit and a majority in woe, than the fact that a few should lobby for deliverance from high-tech medical care while millions clamor for the basics of a first aid kit? It is a well-known statistic that with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume a quarter of the world’s nonrenewable energy. It is considerably less well-known that within that all-consuming sliver, per capita federal spending on the elderly exceeds the amount spent on children by a ratio of 11 to 1. When I was younger and more romantic I could imagine serving the poor by dying in a revolution. Now it seems as though the most truly revolutionary thing I could do is simply to die.
On another note, there will be two more films about the Rwanda genocide. One thing that did vaguely irk me about "Hotel Rwanda" in addition to the somewhat pat, therapeutic, and rather Biblical ending, was the lack of long-term historical context given. It looks like "Sometimes in April", also based primarily on survivors' testimony and documentary footage, may delve a little bit deeper yet, if still without risking too much offense. The one thing that remains consistent is the mirror of shame pointing back at the French and United States govenments who failed to act soon enough. But it risks having all the effect of a familiar, tired trope if these films do no engage further and risk real dialogue over remaining controversial questions. One reason why one wishes, increasingly, that there was a competitive critical West Wing series - one where all efforts were not always made to redeem Clinton at every turn. In fact, wouldn't it be nice if Clinton received some blame for the thoroughly monopolied, income-gap state of affairs threatening democracy today like never before? Maybe just one episode, where Martin Sheen slaps down labor, endorses corporate mergers and is exposed as using multi-purpose, smart-sounding rhetoric in vastly opposite scenarios? In any case, it would still be nice to have him as the head of the U.N. right now (as was expected if Kerry had won). So long as there were never any more genocides in Africa...The simple point being, anyway, that deification and demonization, worship and scandal, are merely two sides of the same obsolete coin.
Matthew Yglesias writes:
What we need are more and better institutions that can, over time, make military power as unimportant as it is across the U.S.-Canadian border, or the Franco-Spanish one. America's dominance is only valuable insofar as such a world does not yet exist; insofar as it fades because we have created one, we come out ahead. At its best, American power is used -- as it was during the Gulf War -- to strengthen and enforce a rule-based, global security regime.
(Both of these articles courtesy of Political Theory Daily Review.)