Sunday, February 26, 2006

My Thoughts Are Misguided And A Little Naive

It's been a wild and sleepless weekend. Erik's Thursday night art talk was fascinating; you can even find the podcast on his blog. Then there was the field trip on Saturday morning to the Oakland Museum of California. Erik guided us to each of four paintings he'd picked out, then left us to think and observe for a while before giving us his own suggestions. It was an excellent atmosphere for appreciating something like a Richard Diebenkorn:

Previously, I hadn't been able to shut up my mind long enough to really experience and see into an Abstract Expressionist painting, but I found it beautiful this time. I shan't bore you with my rambling intellectualizations on the matter, though. (They did involve shades of Plato on art; the Republic discussion the previous night bled through a bit.)

That wasn't the only event of the day, though. My officemate Dan interrupted my mathematical work last evening to tell me about the contentious graduate union meeting downstairs. Essentially, this meeting of union members from all UC campuses was required to ratify the bargaining position we're trying to hold in negotiations with the UC system. It should have been a formality, but for an unexpectedly large contingent from UC Santa Cruz who expressed (paranoid) outrage that we weren't asking for more.

I'd never seen direct democracy in action, nor personally dealt with parliamentary procedure, so it was fascinating to me. After the bargaining proposals finally passed (4 hours behind schedule), Dan and I invited the union leadership for a beer, which they took us up on. Fascinating conversations (it seems likely that there will be a strike in the fall, alas), and it turns out I unwittingly joined in a toast to Salvador Allende.

Which reminds me: I've just of late started to distinguish capitalism from simple private property, and I find the latter more consonant with human dignity than the former. Capitalism, as it is today, seems to be the practice of an entire society living on margin for the sake of productivity; individuals, corporations and governments spend money they don't have, in the hope of making up the deficit later. The economy burns bright, but the rich become absurdly rich, and it's easier than ever to lose what you have, and we're just one misstep away from the next Great Depression. It's obvious to me that socialism isn't the answer: to subcreate and hold something as our own is still a profoundly human act, even if it can be abused in excess. So I don't know what the answer is.

Could someone explain to me better what the principle of subsudiarity means in Catholic social thought? I get confused.

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