Tuesday, July 9, 2013

X 'Marx' the Spot

Last night's reading definitely took a toll on me both physically and mentally this morning. Unfortunately, I did not finish the assignment but I awoke at 6 AM so I could complete the homework in its entirety. It is a good thing I did because Professor Kramnick's lecture was the first of two lectures regarding the socialist ideals of Karl Marx.

Throughout the duration of this course, I have noticed my lack of passion regarding political theory. While I do understand the theories of the philosophers we have discussed thus far, I have not really been impacted to the point where I read a philosopher's work and say: "Wow, that just blew my mind! He/she is absolutely right!" But I believe today was the first instance where I was truly intrigued by the arguments proposed by one of these thinkers. During today's lecture and discussion section, we explored Marx's attitudes towards the industrial age and its effects on the citizens. Marx thoroughly explained the inverse relationship between man and his labor and how this causes the estrangement of man from his product and from himself. By the end of section, we reflected on how Marx's ideas could be related to modern economic life. I found myself agreeing with a lot of his arguments and realized that labor can cause the separation of man from his self-identity. Even though his ideals are not revered today, he still had a major influence on current domestic programs like social welfare.

Alan Mittman and Professor Kramnick talking before the lecture 
Alan Mittman, a New York attorney currently involved in labor relations, was our final guest speaker of the course. He described a litigation case he tried regarding the copyright dispute between ice cream companies Haagen-Dazs and Frusen Gladje. The label design of both containers were noticeably similar and they shared distinct similarities in their productions of ice cream. The question Mr. Mittman wanted us to keep in mind as we played the judges was "Were these two confusingly similar?" According to the actual verdict, they were not, but Frusen Gladje had to adjust their container to better distinguish itself from Haagen Dazs. The philosophical moral of the case was that free enterprise is not really free.

Our last ILC dinner was spent with Hercules High alum and current Cornell student Yueming Wang. With an optimistic and nostalgic tone, Yueming described her current experiences at Cornell both academically and socially. I could tell that she was truly happy about being a Cornellian and that she felt right at home- a feeling I hope to have when I ultimately decide which college I attend. The subject of college applications came up and she gave us very helpful advice as to how we should approach our personal statements and supplementary college essays. Learning time management and developing more domestic skills like cooking were some of the many effects that impacted her once she was at Cornell. The most important piece of advice Yueming gave us was that college is what we make it and we should try to make a very worthwhile experience for ourselves. Talking with Yueming helped me realize that everyone is capable of doing well in college; we just need to put the work in it. 

When I returned to my dorm room, I noticed the congratulatory decorations my friend placed on my door. There are still three more days until graduation, but this was a very pleasant message to see. Now more than ever, I am realizing that our journey is beginng to end and I cannot distinguish my feelings of sadness from my feelings of excitement.

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