The evolution of capitalism influences the decisions of many, often causing hypocrisy within individual morality. This is thoroughly examined by J. Andrew Ross’ article, “The Paradox of Conn Smythe: Hockey, Memory, and the Second World War”, wherein he responds to Saturday Night magazine, targeting the “selfishly” contradicting conduct of Maple Leaf Gardens executive; Conn Smythe. Ross analyzes Smythe’s behaviour throughout the duration of World War Two to justify this paradox, arguing the contradictions to be a result of war and business rather than poor ethics, however he consistently contradicts this conclusion, creating a paradox of Ross’ own.
A major influence in Ross’ article is the key theme of war, a theme often connected to the history of capitalism. The context that this subject provides is crucial to the evolution of capitalism, seen through a support of individual agency over conscription, emphasis on manufacturing, as well as the necessity of capital acquisition through foreign exchange. These societal adaptations provide worthy evidence for Ross’ argument, as a drastic change in economic tendencies during wartime would justify paradoxical conduct due to the shift in mentality. Ross specifically states this possibility; a powerful point in defence of Smythe’s contradictions, but also his final display of effectively delivering a solid argument.
Although Smythe’s patriotic decision to fight overseas is mentioned, Ross fails to use patriotism as justification. As the article continues, Ross solely uses war as context rather than a channel to communicate his argument, failing to capitalize on the ways in which one’s decisions could be made ethical through war’s economic impacts. In addition, business ethics proves to be crucial to capitalism’s growth, mainly due to its inverse relationship, especially prior to today. Ross’ argument is deeply rooted in ethics; however, he neglects to utilize this sufficiently, focusing more on events. Despite an argument in favour of Smythe’s ethics, Ross extends hypocritical suggestions through historical occurrences which invalidate his conclusion. Namely, Smythe calls the Special War Revenue tax “terrific”, yet fights against it, refuses to lower prices for servicemen, and requests for one hundred-fifty men to remain in the NHL, contradicting his demands for conscription and recruitment. Ross includes these unethical actions yet continues to teach a history lesson rather than defend an argument hindered by each example. Smythe clearly prioritizes the maximization of profit and freedom over ethics; similar to ideologies of capitalism, however there is minimal attempt to recognize a balance in the ethical conduct of his business in conjunction with capitalistic needs. This demonstrates the use of unfavourable examples that lack substantial rationalization.
Regarding Ross’ argument, he produces an eloquent article but an ineffectiveness in conveying personal conclusions to the reader. Ross prioritizes primary sources, as his notes indicate a plethora of such references including newspapers, magazines, and an autobiography by Smythe. While these sources indicate credibility, clarity in terms of personal observations suffers. Ross fails to use direct quotes in response to allegations against Smythe’s inconsistencies, which would improve his argument’s quality. additionally, he over relies on story, omitting personal input that would better display Smythe’s justification, and by the time Ross delivers a clear argument, the article is ending, and Ross’ delayed thesis holds all the observations that should be mentioned accumulatively across his work. This lack of analysis throughout the article suggests that Ross’ examples disprove his ideas, which would imply a weak and unfounded argument, potentially due to bias stemming from a possible sympathy towards men in sports or business; Ross’ main historical subjects. Essentially, Ross wastes superb writing and research skills due to a weak and unjustified argument.
Overall, Ross’ historical utilization is exemplary, yet his own decisions impede the progression of his argument. Ross effectively highlights the theme of war but loses momentum with this subject after one effective point. His argument is intertwined with the theme of ethics; however, he neglects to address ethics behind Smythe’s decisions. A good article is tainted by contradicting examples and deductions, and this causes Ross’ weakly represented reasoning to leave readers more confused by his conclusion than agreeable. Clearly, Ross’ consistent inconsistency makes “the paradox of Conn Smythe” irrelevant in comparison to the paradox of J. Andrew Ross.
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