Re: [OPE-L] The ("irrational"?) symbol of the inflatable rat, stateside

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Thu Apr 20 2006 - 07:28:52 EDT

They don't have inflatable rats in Amsterdam?   I see the
Big Rats at least once a week in Manhattan -- usually near
non-union construction sites.  They are very popular with
the building trade unions, it seems.  I don't know whether
it really bothers the non-union employers, but union members
seem to get a real chuckle out of them.  What I didn't know,
though, is the irony that they are produced in a non-union

Does anyone on the list have experience conveying elements
of Marxian economics via street theatre?  I think it could be
done -- but it would require some creativity (a trait in short
supply, it seems, among many Marxists).  The closest  example
I can think of is, perhaps, "Billionaires for Bush."  A former
New School  economics student, Paul Bartlett, has been
known to be a Billionaire for Bush -- dressed in a tuxedo at
anti-war demonstrations.

Approaching this story from another direction,  I think that
there are frequently human cultural understandings about
individual species of animals which have an element of
irrationality.  Thus, rats are feared and their  near relatives,
mice, are made into celebrated cartoon characters. Foxes, bats,
and sharks are feared and demonized, pigs are viewed as 'dirty'
(and are maligned when associated with police),  yet other species
are viewed as cute, cuddly and angelic.   These understandings
tend to be culturally specific and are often associated with religious
beliefs, superstitions, and mythology.  E.g. cats were tortured
in Medieval Europe as agents of Satan (in some cases, using a
miniature rack), revered in Ancient Egypt (perhaps, in part,  because
they ate rats and thereby unintentionally protected the grain stored
in the temples),  persecuted on the basis of the myth that they
are alleged to "suck the life" out of human infants, and are in many
ways treated as if they were humans in some families.  There are
elements of rationality and irrationality in these traditions.

In solidarity, Jerry

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