A backdrop of economics in a battle of ethics: C – Control – 06

I have said, even in my previous posts, that this series was marginally about economics. With some reading as well as asking the right people, I think I remain steadfast in that stance of mine: there are major inconsistencies with what the series presents against real-world economics.

With the wings and the woman, the card is reminiscent of the Major Arcana card, Lovers. It suggests love. From what we've seen of Sennoza's actions, he's also quite full of love. It's pretty apt.

First, it’s simply utterly impossible for one man to shoulder a nation’s debt. With regard to the ballooning debt of Japan, it is downright impossible. As of the episode’s airing, the ‘ballooning debt’ of Japan stands at about 750 trillion yen. Mikuni can’t resolve that, even with his guild: that’s what the recent episode confirmed. Mikuni’s actions are mere stopgap measures, but they will eventually sink Japan even lower than it currently is. It’s quite basic economics that an excessive inflow of money into the economy will devalue it.

Second, it’s quite jarring that no one audits Mikuni on his assets. He could bribe people, but it won’t take long for people to notice his immense wealth. Quite frankly, 75 trillion yen will take hundreds of years to pay, even with the robustness of his Starling Guild, essentially because it’s just a really huge amount. The series can’t centrally be about economics because it doesn’t even follow its tenets. It only simulates the situations of the real world, and is a backdrop to the character development and the plot of the show.

Having said that, I think the recent episode elucidated the true nature of the series. It’s essentially a clash of ethics where money serves as a background. The fact that the series stayed away from the actual battle between Sennoza and Kimimaro this episode meant that they wanted the viewer to focus on other things. Most prominently among those ideas is the clash of ideologies primarily between Sennoza and Mikuni, with Jennifer as the third party attempting to resolve the growing problem in Japan as fast as she can.

I think I can safely say I’m a jack-of-all-trades from my excellent academic performance during high school and university. I know quite a bit about different stuff, but I can’t call myself an expert in either philosophy or economics. I could definitely say, however, that I’m more familiar with philosophy than with economics because I have had four philosophy subjects compared to one basic economics course. I can’t say I’m flawless with the nitty-gritty, but I can say something general about what I learned.

I had a Philosophy subject that was Ethics. I got a satisfactory score, but I read a whole lot because our philosophy professor was known to give pretty low grades. He was a great teacher, however. What resonated within me this episode was the utilitarian ethics of John Stuart Mill (I think personified by Mikuni) against the deontological (duty-based) ethics of Sennoza. From what I remembered of utilitarianism, its central tenet was really ‘the greatest good for the greatest number.’ It doesn’t mean that Mill prescribed murder, but from what I remember he was not above that if it was to provide the greatest happiness for the greatest number. The arbitrary part of utilitarianism is that it admits of exceptions that may have a snowball effect later on. It’s obvious that Mikuni attempts to maintain the Starling Guild so that a lot of people can enjoy their lives without being affected by the repercussions of the Financial District. A good example that presents his utilitarian method of thinking is him taking over the entrepreneur with the Pac-man defense asset so that jobs would be preserved and the economy becomes a bit more stable. By doing that action, he weighed one man against thousands, and aided the thousands.

In contrast are the actions of Sennoza, which are ultimately Kantian and deontological. I only remember primarily the central tenet of Kantian ethics, which was the categorical imperative. I also remember that for an action to be morally good, it must consist of a good will. Kant’s three significant formulations of the categorical imperative are:

  • Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law.
  • Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.
  • Act as though you were, through your maxims, a law-making member of a kingdom of ends.
  • Among those three, the most easily intelligible is the second. Sennoza has performed all his actions in the Financial District with good will and the future welfare of the different children of the world in mind. He saw humanity as something to foster, whether good or poor, and saw each and everyone he helped as human. He wanted to avoid fighting with Kimimaro because he wanted no harm to occur in the world, and he did not want to harm his children. He was truly benevolent: if everyone acted with the welfare in the world in mind, no one would mind it becoming a universal law.

    Sennoza is genuinely a good person in any iteration of the categorical imperative. Even in his battle with Kimimaro was for the purpose of protecting the future of the children he had helped. He did not change his philosophy even in defeat and was frankly grateful for his independence from the Midas money.

    Kimimaro is at the center of all this. He eventually has to choose how to act, because Mikuni’s actions are inevitably destroying the economy he has thought of protecting. Things don’t get any easier for him when Jennifer illustrates the eventual apocalypse that Mikuni’s actions on the economy will trigger. All he wants to do is protect those who are close to him: Msyu’s battery from Angel’s attacks have greatly affected him, and it is no secret that he’s slowly growing closer and closer to Msyu. Both Sennoza and Jennifer exhort him to find a way to destroy the city, and that will probably be the focal point of the next episodes: he will have to find his own ethics, and stick with that to the very end.

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    3 Responses to “A backdrop of economics in a battle of ethics: C – Control – 06”

    1. Angelus Says:

      Despite the sheer impossibility of a single person or organization paying off Japan’s national debt, this is not the only example in recent Japanese popular fiction. In the manga (and subsequent anime adaptation) “Dance in the Vampire Bund”, Princess Mina Å¢epeÅŸ does exactly this in exchange for the right to build and rule a huge artificial island in Tokyo Bay. Wishful thinking by the Japanese, perhaps? Still, right now I’d be happy enough for someone to pay off just my credit cards.

      Oh, and Ethics? Don’t get me started 😉

    2. Michael Says:

      That’s amazing! I’ll also be happy if people will pay credit cards for me. What about ethics? :3

    3. Rise and Fall « Chronicle Holic Says:

      […] focus is heading towards ethics rather than economics. I’ve read in Michael’s post that Kimimaro is having a difficultly in believing what is right or wrong. He’s being tagged […]

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