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(no subject)
2012
unknownj
God, I really have been radicalised... This is the stuff I inflict on my colleagues on Facebook....




John
So now it's the auditors fault. Why do people need to blame the recession on someone? Capitalism is cyclical and we had been in a long boom. Is that so hard to understand?

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James
John, it's obvious - capitalism operates through cycles of boom years in which the rich accumulate vast wealth whilst the poor are pacified with moderate improvements in living standards, followed by bust years in which the wealthy do everything in their power to make sure that the poor bear the brunt of the contraction.

If you were in charge of a system like that, wouldn't you be desperate to find external forces to blame? It's the only thing that keeps people from examining the system itself and discovering what it's really about...

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John
I think it's the whole need for self-denial that you allude to that's inherently destructive. It belies an avoidance of responsibility.

If I was one of the pacified poor you describe it would only be me who could turn myself into one of the rich. If I was allowing myself to get screwed and then blamed by the rich that's my fault too. And believe me, I know whereat I speak.

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James
It's the poor striving to become the rich that perpetuates the problem though - the poor only tolerate the gap between themselves and the wealthy because they believe they can beat the odds and rise out of the class into which they were born.

In doing so, their efforts are focused on the myth of social mobility rather than improving the conditions of the working class for the benefit of all workers (and there will always be workers).

And for the poor to stop getting collectively screwed, they must rise up together. Which is tricky when the rich own the means of production, the media, and the political process.

In the face of all that futility, of course they look for a scapegoat for their circumstances, and the media is all too happy to offer them up.

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John
I think we'll have to disagree simply on the grounds of the 'myth' of social mobility. Social mobility is up to the inidividual under the current system - democracy doesn't work without free enterprise, free enterprise is essentially another name for capitalism.

Rising up together doesn't solve anything - you just supplant the elite with another elite. Come up with a better system or work within the one we have.

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James
I'm not arguing that social mobility does not exist - it's demonstrably real. The problem is that social mobility elevates perhaps 0.1% of poor people, while the other 99.9% spend their energies on aspiring to escape their class rather than improve it.

I mean, you talked about supplanting the elite with a new one - social mobility is just a really slow way of doing that. It's Animal Farm where the pigs turn into people one pig at a time, rather than all at once, but it still ends up in the same place.

I'm not proposing that the workers unite and smash the state and remodel it in some utopian vision - more that collectively, they should be able to work together to fight for more equitable pay, to curb the excesses of the super-rich, close tax loopholes that are disproportionately available to the wealthy, and to destroy the mechanisms through which the wealthy maintain their status (through privately purchased education, inherited wealth and cronyism in senior business positions).

But instead, the poor focus on that slim chance at escaping their environment rather than improving it. Puts me in mind of the lottery mindset..

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John
"But instead, the poor focus on that slim chance at escaping their environment rather than improving it"

Natural selection for a species elevated out of the food chain, n'est ce pas?

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James
Social Darwinism is a particularly cut-throat and inhuman approach, and I don't really think you particularly favour it as a strategy :o)

But if you want the Evolutionary Sociology approach, let's go for it... Current class structures protect wealthy persons who are of less worth to the species in terms of their potential contribution, by giving them better jobs which enable reward without performance. Similarly, people born into lower classes will be less able to make the best use of their skills because of the inherent disadvantages of their status, and no amount of social mobility will actually create a society fluid enough to correct for that.

So if you want true Social Darwinism, you need a level playing field for all people in a classless system, that enables true survival of the fittest. It is a sub-optimal arrangement for "fitter" (in the evolutionary sense) people to be born into circumstances that do not enable them to make the most use of that fitness and pass it on.

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