Thursday, October 23, 2003

Manifesto!

A while ago, when I was in between writing projects, a friend of mine suggested that I take the time to write a manifesto. Aside from giving me something to work on, he pointed out that manifesto-writing was sort of a grand tradition and had done wonders for the careers of Marcel Duchamp and the Unabomber. I love urinals and wearing hoodie-and-sunglasses ensembles, so these are just the guys I want to emulate. I was sold.

I never actually wrote the manifesto, but I did sit down and make a bunch of notes about what I would want to cover if I did. And , for posterity, here they are:

- People should have the right to say pretty much anything, or to otherwise express themselves in any way they want. An objective standard of "offensive" is pretty much impossible to set; without universal standards, there's not much point in trying to set restrictions. Besides, a universal ability to say offensive stuff is balanced by a universal ability to think that the speaker is a total jackass. For example, some nutjob wrote a letter to the Star Tribune recently saying that he, personally, is glad that Paul Wellstone died last year, because this stopped the "creeping socialism" that's ruining our country. Pretty obnoxious, but he has the right to say it, and I have the right to consider him a prime shit-fer-brains.

In other words, my right to dislike you keeps us both free.

- Since all we know for sure (established through countless hours of drinking beer with philosophy grad students) is that we're alive right now (and for how much longer is anybody's guess), and that it's more pleasant not to be upset than it is to be, it makes sense to make the most of your time alive by not getting overly bent out of shape by stuff. Sure, somebody does something crappy to you, get angry. it's natural and human. But then get over it and let it go before you spend your whole life muttering to yourself about how bad you've got it.

- Most work in our society is completely pointless and exists mainly to give people something to do.

- A certain class of people have figured out how to game the system and amass an inordinate amount of money (and, thus, a greater share of resources) for themselves. And this is just an inherently sucky feature of Capitalism. But I can't think of any system that allows for personal freedom where this wouldn't be a problem. Some people suck, and I guess we just have to accept that.

- Just because you can do something doesn't mean always should. I think I should have the right to get my amp out and crank it and rock out in my apartment; but I'd be a real dick if I did that all the time.

- I'm pretty convinced that caring about American politics is getting more and more like caring about pro sports- lots of people are more fundamentally interested in seeing their side win than they are in issues. And I often get the feeling that I have as much influence on the outcome of the NBA finals as I do on US governmental policy.

The behavior of most political people I've watched in the past three years pretty much confirms this for me.


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See, it would have been a pretty boring manifesto.

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