Sunday, April 06, 2008

Home at last

I spent a lot of the day in the car. Had a great conversation along the way.

As you've probably noticed looking at my "conference blogging" posts, I felt really energized by the topics and the people. There's a lot of ideas I hope to explore in the coming weeks and I'll try to review them here as I go, "thinking out loud" right here on blogger. I'll save that for later in the week. For now, just a few last words...

As the conference ended, protests were cranking up out in Union Square against China. I snapped a few pictures (which I'll keep small here to protect folks), of course, and I won't pass up the chance to comment.

First of all, I salute all the members of the Chinese and Tibetan community for coming out to show their protest. Given the serious consequences their appearance might have for loved ones back home, their actions are more than just righteous, they are courageous.

I don't have time to dwell on this right now--grading and preparation are calling--but the moment yesterday in Union Square got me thinking about Margaret Thatcher and the Olympics. As I was reminded by a BBC reporter last Monday or Tuesday, Margaret Thatcher's opinion was that athletes could boycott games if they like, but Business should not.* That is a typically chilling statement by the former British PM, the same one who said that "There is no such thing as society," that "There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first" (Source).

Spreading the idea that the individual acts out of mere selfishness has long been a part of the project of folks like Thatcher, Reagan, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and their ilk. Yet here we see folks risking their lives for others, for places where they no longer have a home. Right here (on the internet) we see a commons maintained and thriving thanks to a spirit of community. Yes, individualism, entrepreneurship, profit are part of almost all our identities, but so are community, belonging and selflessness. What's more: these folks are protesting some of the neoliberal policy put into action by Deng Xiao Ping concurrent with Thatcher and Reagan (See David Harvey). Just one look at China and it is readily apparent that a free market does not need political freedom to operate. Of course, Chileans know this first hand, and, I suppose, so do many folks right here in the U.S.

Ok, I'm too tired and too busy to blog more or to be more succint. I just wanted to share that.

*I may be thinking of her views on South Africa. Sorry for my tired brain.