Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Duncan Jones on the Military or Industrial Complex

Duncan Jones’ two films, Moon and Source Code, deal with the Military and Industry, but not necessarily the Military-Industrial Complex. Thematically, the films are similar: Both address collective v. individual dichotomy and examine the dark side of biotechnology.

The first theme could resonate with a couple of different groups. Lockeans and Christians would be concerned for the employee/soldier against the corporation/military. Both cite the Declaration of Independence, albeit different parts, to defend the individual against the collective. Lockeans reference each individual having “certain inalienable rights.” Christians like to remind Lockeans of the source of those rights: “Creator” or “nature’s God.” Lockeans are into AUTONOMY or the sovereign individual while Christians are into DIGNITY because every human person (including clones) is an Imago Dei.

The Lockean account is clearly the more popular view today; nevertheless, it might not be able to counter a growing alternative view, which ironically finds its roots in Locke: PRODUCTIVITY. The Lockean emphasis on maximizing productivity (or property as Locke would say) pushes the the corporation in Moon to suppress the rights of particular individuals.

Moreover, Peter Lawler has argued that Lockeans would have trouble defending human nature from the biotech enthusiasts. If Locke thinks Nature is worthless and value is simply the result of human labor (Productivity), then why is human nature exempt from this critique? Why shouldn't we play God and redesign human nature in order to improve our profit margins or save a city from ruin?

Today, Lockeans do not bother to defend Autonomy because it is their starting premise. And that is fine for the moment since everyone is willing to accept it. But Jones’ films suggest Autonomy will be called into question when it begins to come into conflict with the bottom line or the greater good.

1 comment:

  1. Coming from my specific angles, the traditional corporate structure (which places profits above all else and is obligated to do so by law) seems to be the social organization which exploits the weakness in Lockean / Anachro-Capitalist libertarian thought as you and this movie (which is quite good!), points out.

    Because of this, I tend to put more emphasis on reforming the traditionally authoritarian structure of corporations (which seems to also go against the Lockean principle of autonomy) so that there is a proper reintegration of the respect for humans/nature over that of property and productivity.

    I feel that I should point out that Christianity isn't the only answer to the problem. The respect doesn't necessarily have to be Christian in origin (although it could very well be). For secularist, the environmental movement is relatively similar (see the reaction to genetically modified crops). The former tends not to like the baggage or some of the cultural associations that comes with environmentalism while the latter tend not to like the domination outlook of Genesis or some of the cultural associations of Christianity. Maybe the two would do good to associate with each other a bit more.

    If that division is maintained, it seems we should be able to navigate the biotech revolution and the moral and ethical questions it raises successfully.

    To me, the fundamental problem for those advocating that it be stopped, is that unless they can convince everyone (unlikely) it simply can not (without engaging in totalitarian activity) be stopped. If it isn't done here, it will be done elsewhere (perhaps funded by "rogue" billionaires or international corporations seeking to profit off it?) and the effects will be just as great while the "damage" could be far greater.