There Will Be Blood

“There Will Be Blood” where the interests conflict

The movie is about a natural-born digger who explores new lands for money and power. Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is an oilman who is informed of an oil-rich cheap ranch in California and takes his adopted son to there to buy the land from the owner. Actually, he received this information from one of Sunday’s family son named Paul whose family is the owner of the ranch. Day-Lewis played a role in this movie as violent as Bill “the butcher” in “Gangs of New York” although the form of violence is different this time. He is a ruthless father who is not “Plainview” at all. His real face is revealed when the oil erupts and he owns limitless barrels of oil. When he becomes rich he is no longer committed to his community and also the son he used to pretend another character. He mercilessly told the son that you had none of me and you were an orphan from a basket in the middle of desert.

The movie is a great drama depicting the discovery of oil at the early twentieth century in America. Paul Thomas Anderson directed a woman-free movie very well with the great performance of Daniel Day-Lewis. Clearly, the discussable part of this story is the relation of Eli Sunday and Daniel Plainview. Eli Sunday is another son of Sunday family, who at the very first day Plainview set step on the land, was concerned about the church and its costs. Actually, the church is the symbol of religion and oil represents the economic power. Eli Sunday (Paul Sunday) in the name of Evangelic preaching tries to make money from the efforts of Plainview (Day-Lewis). However, the power institution does not give money that easily to religion institution, and thus, the interests conflict.

Generally, conflicts of interest can be defined as any situation in which an individual or corporation (either private or governmental) is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for their personal or corporate benefit. Depending upon the law or rules related to a particular organization, the existence of a conflict of interest may not, in and of itself, be evidence of wrongdoing. In fact, for many professionals, it is virtually impossible to avoid having conflicts of interest from time to time. A conflict of interest can, however, become a legal matter for example when an individual tries (and/or succeeds in) influencing the outcome of a decision, for personal benefit. A director or executive of a corporation will be subject to legal liability if a conflict of interest breaches his Duty of Loyalty.

There often is confusion over these two situations. Someone accused of a conflict of interest may deny that a conflict exists because he/she did not act improperly. In fact, a conflict of interest can exist even if there are no improper acts as a result of it. (One way to understand this is to use the term “conflict of roles”. A person with two roles—an individual who owns stock and is also a government official, for example—may experience situations where those two roles conflict. The conflict can be mitigated but it still exists. In and of itself, having two roles is not illegal, but the differing roles will certainly provide an incentive for improper acts in some circumstances.)

Conflict theories are perspectives in social science which emphasize the social, political or material inequality of a social group, which critique the broad socio-political system, or which otherwise detract from structural functionalism and ideological conservativism. Conflict theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class conflict, and generally contrast historically dominant ideologies. Certain conflict theories set out to highlight the ideological aspects inherent in traditional thought. Whilst many of these perspectives hold parallels, conflict theory does not refer to a unified school of thought, and should not be confused with, for instance, peace and conflict studies, or any other specific theory of social conflict.

Of the classical founders of social science, conflict theory is most commonly associated with Karl Marx (1818-1883). Based on a dialectical materialist account history, Marxism posited that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, would inevitably produce internal tensions leading to its own destruction [1]. Marx ushered in radical change, advocating proletarian revolution and freedom from the ruling classes.

Durkheim (1858-1917) saw society as a functioning organism. Functionalism concerns “the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible, to each feature, custom, or practice, its effect on the functioning of a supposedly stable, cohesive system”,[2] The chief form of social conflict that Durkheim addressed was crime. Durkheim saw crime as “a factor in public health, an integral part of all healthy societies.”[3] The collective conscience defines certain acts as “criminal.” Crime thus plays a role in the evolution of morality and law: “[it] implies not only that the way remains open to necessary changes but that in certain cases it directly prepares these changes [4].”

Weber’s (1864-1920) approach to conflict is contrasted with that of Marx. While Marx focused on the way individual behavior is conditioned by social structure, Weber emphasized the importance of “social action,” i.e., the ability of individuals to affect their social relationships [5].

C. Wright Mills has been called the founder of modern conflict theory [6]. In Mills’s view, social structures are created through conflict between people with differing interests and resources. Individuals and resources, in turn, are influenced by these structures and by the “unequal distribution of power and resources in the society [6].” The power elite of American society, (i.e., the military-industrial complex) had “emerged from the fusion of the corporate elite, the Pentagon, and the executive branch of government.” Mills argued that the interests of these elite were opposed to those of the people. He theorized that the policies of the power elite would result in “increased escalation of conflict, production of weapons of mass destruction, and possibly the annihilation of the human race [6].”

[1] Baird, Forrest E.; Walter Kaufmann (2008). From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-158591-6.

[2] Bourricaud, F. ‘The Sociology of Talcott Parsons’ Chicago University Press. ISBN 0-226-06756-4. p. 94

[3] Durkheim, E. (1938). The Rules of Sociological Method. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 67.

[4] Durkheim, (1938), pp. 70–81

[5] Livesay, C. Social Inequality: Theories: Weber. Sociology Central. A-Level Sociology Teaching Notes. Retrieved on: 2010-06-20.

[6] Knapp, P. (1994). One World – Many Worlds: Contemporary Sociological Theory (2nd Ed.). Harpercollins College Div, pp. 228–246. Online summary Isbn 978-0-06-501218-7

By: Hossein Aghababa