I want to thank the Section on Labor Relations and Employment Law, specifically David Yamada and the other organizers of this panel, for choosing the theme that brings us here today. The idea that people who teach and write about the employment relationship might have something special to offer as public intellectuals is both a compliment and a challenge.
The particular project I will discuss is my work on a film called Morristown: In the Air and Sun, released in 2007 after the labor of almost a decade. During that time, I worked closely with Anne Lewis, the independent filmmaker who created the documentary. Now, she and I are up to our elbows in the distribution phase of the effort. I will share below several stories about how the project came to be and what lessons one might take from it as to possible productive roles for public intellectuals. Before beginning that discussion, however, I want to set out some things about the larger perspective I bring to this work, a move that I hope will better equip readers both to question and to understand what follows.
I take myself to be a partisan in what I view as a momentous battle going on in our country and in the world over how we are going to order our economic and political affairs, whose interests will be taken into account, where our resources ought to flow, what values and priorities ought to guide our steps, and who will participate in making important decisions about the rules of the game. I do not see this as a simple battle driven by a single set of issues, nor one in which all the good is on one side and all the evil on another. . . .