“First, argument is about the relations between one voice and others, one view and other. Arguing happens when voices oppose each other, when views conflict. Rhetoric seeks to understand how and why voices conflict… To argue is to engage with other views and voices, either explicitly (dialogue) or implicitly, anticipating how others may react to what one says. A second point is that argument is about address, about people addressing other people and other views. The aim is ‘to counteract’ arguments which seem ‘false’ and to ‘defend (themselves) or accuse'(Leith, D. and Myerson, G., 1989. Pp. 80-81.).”
This week we honed in on the topic of ‘Economic Inequality’, viewing Jacob Kornbluth’s Inequality for All, a documentary that follows former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he discusses the economic and social consequences that may result if the gap between rich and poor continued to widen. It’s interesting when we look back on this documentary now, as it was produced about several years ago now, as a lot of the consequences Reich discussed (such as the suspension bridge graphs that show similarities between the economies of 1928 and 2007 – and again now, as we face the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic) and feared, have come into fruition. Reich argues in this film, that as a result of globalisation, technology, job outsourcing, and Wall Street’s & the one percenters desire to have their profits as high as possible, we are now seeing stagnant wages, stilted college attendance rate, and the ruining of manufacturing jobs that made the middle class. Reich suggests that the solution to solving economic crisis is through the investment of the middle class, as they are the ones contributing to the economy the most. Reich’s argument is in an attempt to counteract the argument that is presented by the one percenters and the people on Wall Street, that this economic strategy is not working.
This same ideology was taken on and explored by director Henry Grazinoli, in his 2017 documentary Um Novo Capitalismo (also known as, and directly translated as A New Capitalism). After OXFAM launched a report showing that the richest 1% of the population owns the same wealth as the other 99%, Grazinoli wished to explore what could be done to tackle issues of social inequality. Grazinoli follows the stories of Brazilian, Indian and Mexican entrepreneurs and owners of companies with social impacts, that think they have figured out a solution: build a new, fairer and more human capitalism. These people that believe that having a profitable business while fighting poverty around the globe is possible, show us how it can be possible through examples of people who are doing it. This films shows us that we can see that this ideology and Reich’s argument that came out of Inequality for All (2013), is in fact, truth. The economic inequality crisis has only become worse since the production of the film, and Grazinoli’s film shows us that the new generation Reich was speaking to in his film, got his argument loud and clear – and are now taking it upon themselves to do something about it.
- Grazinoli, H., 2018. Um novo capitalismo. TALK Filmes.
- Reich, R. and Kornbluth, J., 2013. Inequality for all.
- Leith, D. and Myerson, G., 1989. The power of address: Explorations in rhetoric. Routledge.