Archive for the ‘altruism’ Category

Saving Private Ryan

Was the decision to save private Ryan in the eponymous film a political decision?

I’m having an argument with a colleague at work about this and I believe it is. Here are my reasons:

1. The goal of saving Private Ryan is to bolster morale in the military and craft a suitably heroic narrative of bravery and selfless sacrifice to keep war support high back home.

2. These are fundamentally political problems that require political solutions. Sacrificing the lives of several soldiers for the sake of one doesn’t make any sense in strict strategic analysis.

I think that people don’t realize just how political humans are. We care aobut symbolism and perception and are willing to engage in irrational acts to make ourselves feel good. A good definition of politics might be action (or promise of action, ie rhetoric) to support the positive human emotions (feelings of happiness, justice, fraternity/sorority and pride).

And it is also worth mentioning that politics is not irrational, though it sometimes can be.


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