The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 December 2003

Egalitarian blues

Bruce calls his blog This Is Class Warfare, and this item (8 December), as well as any, explains what he means:

Capitalism is a system based on a core prejudice. The more money you have the more desirable you become. To gain or maintain that preferred status you will take advantage of other prejudices. Racism persists in part because it helps maintain class separation. Your hope of escaping from the depths of the impoverished class stems from taking advantage of whatever prejudices work in your favor, so it is no small surprise that this confers a sense of legitimacy for those that use them to rise to the top.

Well, yes, money does enhance one's desirability, but I wouldn't characterize it as a "prejudice"; it's simply a part of the definition of capitalism as we know it. On the other hand, people who manage to work the system well enough to climb a rung or two on the ladder tend to be among the system's most ardent defenders, which would seem to confirm the "sense of legitimacy" statement.

To continue:

There are two levels of commitment to making the world a better, more equal and livable place. One level that means paying lip service to fundamental root problems by giving toys to poor kids, or holding fancy dinners to give a few coins back to the serfs. And another level where you would be willing to accept a loss of power, influence and privilege in exchange for a better world. For there is no rich without poor. No benefit to wealth if it doesn't confer to you the ability to make others spend a large amount of time catering to your needs and not their own.

I'm pretty good at lip service, myself.

"There is no rich without poor," he says, and mathematically that's certainly true: if some people have above-average incomes, some others will fall below average. And while wealth is no doubt handy, I see it more as a tool for me to do what I want rather than a tool to compel others to do what I want. If I ever acquire any, I'll let you know how it works out.

Finally:

You either think inequality is a good thing or you don't.

You can say "I am against inequality," but you can just as easily say "I am against tidal waves" with exactly the same results. Inequality clearly exists. Further, I think it always will exist; there's simply no way to eliminate it so long as people are people and not just theoretical constructs. As a nation, we are dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal; what happens after that is anybody's guess.

Posted at 7:56 AM to Political Science Fiction


Thanks for the link. It does, in some small way shed some light on my thinking. Though keep reading to get a better idea. I was particularly proud of this post last month as well.

I dont buy the politics or economics as force of nature arguement. Capitalism in this form has only been around maybe a couple hundred years. Fuedalism, in its time must have seemed perfectly natural as well. Slavery is a great example of a paradigm shift after decades of acceptance as the "natural order". So there is hope. But we must first learn to accept that human being ultimately control what our society looks like. For while there are some great forces inherent in the human animal, what is culture and government if not ways of making things better for all?

We have succeeded in my mind at proving that our worst instincts need not be the most dominant.

Our best instincts, love, respect and the desire for personal freedom can serve as better guides than petty tribalism. We turned a corner during the age of the enlightenment when we realized that we are not helpless victims of forces beyond our control, but active players in our destiny. America, and all that people claim it represents is a product of that thinking, inspired by that new understanding. A grand experiment in new thinking. It could have turned out bad... sure. The old way was proven, but I think it was worth the risk.

In the future people will look back at our society and see where we are now as a stepping stone to their present. We know things will change. That's inevitable. So keep open the debate about where to go from here.

so there, another glimpse.

Posted by: bruce at 10:54 PM on 10 December 2003