The Ugly Results Of Inequality

Posts in this series. This post is updated from time to time with additional resources.

In the last two posts in this series I looked at the the way unequal freedom and hierarchies of social relationships play out in the US. In this post I address two ugly consequences of those inequalities.

Anger and Hostility

Most people have a good idea of where they are in the social hierarchies described by Elizabeth Anderson in her paper Equality, those I discussed in previous posts in this series. They know who dominates them, who holds them in high or low esteem, and whether their opinions about their best interests influence decisions affecting them. They live their lives in these webs of influence and social relations, and they respond emotionally and practically.

I don’t think people have very clear ideas about freedom. Everyone understands negative freedom, because they constantly confront it. But I doubt people think about their positive freedom, the range of opportunities they can reasonably enjoy. If they do, they certainly don’t think they have any chance of changing that range. [1]

Freedom from domination is even less well understood. For people of color and most poor white people, domination is normal. That isn’t so obvious to most non-poor white people. I don’t know, but I’d guess working people don’t think of their employer as dominating them. I’d guess most people think this is perfectly normal, the natural operation of the job market. This is the view Anderson attacks in her book Private Government.

As we learned from Pierre Bourdieu, the dominant class arranges things so that both the dominant and the subservient classes think everything is normal, that one class should dominate and the rest should be subservient, and that everything is just fine. But today it’s hard to sustain that illusion.

The public at large is fully aware of their lack of freedoms available only to the dominant class. Too many of us are faced with the limitations imposed by the negative freedom of others, dominated, and lacking in realistic opportunities for human flourishing. People know they are low in all social hierarchies, they feel it in their bones. They are aware that the dominant class holds them in contempt, and controls their lives. This breeds anger and hostility.

Unequal distribution of material goods

The interests of the dominant class have controlled our political discourse, but the level of control has increased dramatically during the last 50 years. The result is historically high inequality in material wealth. In my view, the ultimate cause is neoliberal ideology, which is supported by both political parties. It drives the government to abandon the interests of the majority in favor of unregulated capitalism. [2] I think that underlying the neoliberal ideology is an economic theory, neoclassical economics, which is based on the hypothesis of marginal utility, which in turn is based on utilitarianism. [3]

One good example of the way utilitarianism creates norms is set out in this post. The theory of marginal utility is used to show that wages, rents, and returns to capital are balanced in accordance with a natural law, and everything works out justly. In the real world, this is nonsense, but lots of people believe it even today. The post also shows that other outcomes are possible.

In the real world, it’s a simple fact: the rich arrange the rules of the economy to benefit themselves at the expense of the lives, health and income of the rest of us. See, e.g., this detailed discussion of the manipulation of the “market” by the insulin cartel.

A Toxic Combination

As these inequalities increased and became apparent to the least observant after the Great Crash, the dominant class refused to allow any changes to the system that made them rich. Instead, they and their allies became even more vociferous in deflecting the blame from the dominant class to groups of people in the subservient class, immigrants, the poor, people of color, academics, activists, the left, scientists, liberals, and professionals. Their demagogues have inflamed a large group of people. History teaches us that there is always a substantial group that can be counted on to respond to that kind of rhetoric with anger, fear, and occasionally violence. [4]

The claim that they are responsible for the problems facing society seems preposterous to the targeted groups, especially academics, scientists and liberals. They see themselves as supporting a good society, one in which there is more freedom and equality. None of the targeted groups have a good way to engage with what they see as idiocy. Their responses seem patronizing, or defensive, or angry, or morally unmoored.

Right-wing authoritarian demagoguery cannot be tamed by counter-rhetoric or by PR fixes. It appeals to something deeper than rational argument. I hope it can be effectively countered by appeals to morals and values, coupled with actions to show that things can be better. I believe that the values Anderson discusses and the morality they represent are the basis for that battle.

[1] For a general look at this, see my discussion of Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus. See also Jennifer Silva’s book Coming Up Short. This paper by Silva and Sarah Corse investigates factors that explain how some working class young people are able to drive themselves through to college.

[2] I arrived at this conclusion after a long course of reading and writing. You can find it on my author page, which is linked to my name above. For a summary, see this post.

[3] I give a brief description under the subhead Modern Monetary Theory here. You can find more by searching on Jevons at this site.

[4] See, for example, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, especially the discussion of anti-Semitism. See also Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation. I discuss these books at length in earlier series, indexed here and here.

29 replies
  1. Wm. Boyce says:

    Got a book recommendation on this subject: “The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality”, Danny Dorling, New Internationalist 2012.
    In it he details many aspects of societies both equal and unequal, and how that can make a society better or worse.He uses United Nations data, among other sources, and comes up with some interesting conclusions.

  2. sproggit says:

    Ed, another terrific piece; thank you.

    One of the things that interests me about inequality is the way that we train our children to accept inequality as normality when it is not the case.

    I appreciate that this is likely a fringe example, but a couple of years ago I was spending an evening with my god-daughter and her parents. I ended up sitting with her whilst she completed her math homework and quickly became horrified by the way that the principles of mathematics were being taught.

    Questions included things like how to manage a credit card; how to borrow money; how to apply for a loan. In a math class.

    I came away from that evening very concerned, so I did some digging. I learned that the course was “sponsored” by a main street bank. I started asking my god-daughter’s school about the class; for example I asked whether students were taught, before they were taught “how to borrow money” that, actually, it is often better to not become indebted in the first place. The response was, “Well, that’s not really realistic, is it?”

    In other words, our society had conditioned (brow-beaten) teachers to train young children how to become indebted to others.

    The more I look, the more I find examples like this. We are *literally* training young children – most especially children from low and middle-income backgrounds – how to become indentured servants. Is that a bit extreme? Ask yourself this: would the child of millionaires be taught “how to borrow money”?

    Would the students at New York’s K-12 Trinity school, where fees are $50,000 a year, get “how to apply for a loan” on their math curriculum?

    If your answer to that question is “No”, then regardless of our prejudices and opinions, we have a problem. The problem is that we are teaching children differently based on things like the income level of their parents. And the problem with this situation is that it actually helps to *widen* the wealth gap, not shrink it.

    You’re right in all the examples you give of the way that inequality harms a society over the long term. But the greatest risk occurs when the harm being done becomes invisible. To borrow the phrase, when the bars of the cage become invisible and unseen.

    And how many working families, with parents working multiple jobs, or not making it home before 7, 8 or 9pm and not having the strength to stay awake, much less follow what their kids are learning at school, are going to realize that their children are being brain-washed into being the next generation of victims.

    Shortly after AOC was elected, she went to a special class for freshmen representatives, and came out of the classes to tweet that many of the presenters were working for lobbyists or former lobbyists. At the time, this was a revelation, but it shows that she realized that the lobbyists were trying to brainwash the freshmen representatives to accept that, “this is how it is done around here…”

    The same thing is happening in schools across the country… but at the national level we seem to be training people to accept that they will spend their entire lives as indentured servants, with no rights, no prospects and no hope.

    There has to be another way.

    • roberts robot double says:

      The most important step needed to reform the system is to ensure that our elected representatives are behaving as actual public servants, i.e. they have no allegiences that lead them to corrupt their position for the benefit of some powerful subset of the population.

      Of course, there will never be a mechanical way to check to see if a person’s heart is truly aligned with their stated intentions, so the only way to protect the public is to track everything they do and say while in office (perhaps going back to their announcement to run for office). There must be no more of the shit Trump et al are pulling about “privileged communications” and whatnot. No! They are our public servants and must be held accountable in real time. The current iteration of America’s system is antithetical to such open government.

      What is needed is a system where the candidate *knows* that, in becoming a public servant, they will be giving up their privacy (outside of the bedroom and with their minor children).

      Even such a system of accountability cannot obviate the need for the hearts of our leaders to be truly dedicated to an inner desire, born of love, to improve the well-being of *everyone* in their care. In fact, our society will never stop its slide into ever greater brutalities until a far greater proportion of the citizenry becomes committed to seeing that no human being is left uncared for. The only way to ensure success would be to codify such aims into the government apparatus itself.

      Every single major problem on the Earth right now is the result of the lack of forethoughtful, effortful compassion; only a shift towards a thoughtful, compassionate mentality can change the very direction we are moving. We must change course, from our currently selfish, ravenous and brutal destruction of the planet and her peoples; to a selfless, sustainable, and compassionate reimagining of the gears of economics and government.

      Remember that fiduciary responsibility’s exclusive service to monetary gain is the direct cause of *all* corporate malfeasance and *all* government corruption, regardless of whether that modus operandi is codified into a corporation’s charter or an individual’s personal worldview.

      • sproggit says:

        One of the fundamental truths you hold up for us here is the need for transparency in government at all levels and in all ways. What this means is that *ALL* interactions between elected officials and ANYONE who wants to be heard, wants to propose a legislative change, wants to lobby, etc, must take place in a public forum and with a full record of the conversation.

        As citizens who pay for the salaries of elected officials, that meeting constitutes a work product that we are paying for – we have every right to have reasonable access to that material excepting in matters of national security… which can and should be tightly defined and would not of course involve lobbyists…

        We need to see thoughtful legislation enacted that makes it a federal offense to attempt to circumvent these controls and seek a “private audience” with a public official. We need to see publicly elected officials provide a complete accounting of all such interactions.

        Lastly, to account for the hopefully small number of elected officials that set out to ignore such a requirement, we must have much greater transparency in the mechanisms of government. It should not be enough to have an official vote “yea” or “nay” at the passage of a bill; each representative should be required to document the basis for their decision, with a penalty of perjury, so that their electorate can clearly see the thought processes and decisions that are being made by their representative on their behalf. (For the detractors: if you were a math teacher and a student handed in homework in which every question had just the single statement of the correct answer, with zero working, you would naturally assume that the student had cheated. So why should we assume that an elected representative is behaving honestly when they are not required to justify their decisions.

        But the single most important change we could make [and this is a bit of a ‘broken record’ topic for me, sorry] is to actually scale back on the amount of representative government we are willing to submit to.

        We have the internet, cell phones, and we live in the digital age. We have the means at our disposal to make democracy participatory for anyone and everyone that wants to have their vote heard.

        The only reason that we have historically relied on a representative form of political administration is because at the time that government was introduced to the independent nation, the fastest means of transport was a man on a fast horse. (The US won independence in 1776, the first major US railroad started in 1830 and telegraph was developed in the 1830s and 1840s.

        But the world has moved on and we don’t need to rely on “representative” government for so much any more.

        Except, of course, that our “representatives” have, over the last ~250 years, converted that in to “personal power”… Which is precisely why it needs to end and be replaced by a more direct and participatory form of administration…

        • roberts robot double says:

          Excellent points. Thanks.

          The only problem I see with a more directly democratic government (i.e. cutting out the reps and just having the citizenry directly vote on issues) is the tyrany of the majority, but I’ve already spoken here in my two posts today about each person’s responsibility to hone their moral compass. I’ll leave it with a final point: it would be best to have a compassionate citizenry that elects its best to serve as its leaders.

          I have to agree with you, though: it appears that direct democracy would be a huge improvement from the get-go. In the end, we would have to trust that the internet would help people educate themselves about the issues and thus vote responsibly. Hopefully, folks such as my parents who refuse to seek out their own information (as opposed to letting the tv channel spoon-feed them) will grow less commonplace as the internet-savvy grow in relative numbers.

          And, as to explainng ‘yea’ and ‘no’ votes, that’s a fantastic idea, especially for cowards who vote ‘present’ :-)

        • i0sam0i says:

          Agree entirely with your comment about responsibility. I’d like to compare it to a review of an engineered solution, you don’t just say the bridge will carry the load, you review the basis of the design.
          I don’t know if this has been mentioned previously, should elected officials be subservient to us rather than dominant?

          • roberts robot double says:

            We must all submit our hearts, minds and resources to selfless compassion in service to uplifting our less-fortunate fellow citizens.

            And we all must respectfully submit our wills to ideas that are greater than ours. Unfortunately, those ideas rarely come from our elected leaders (or, sadly, our so-called spiritual leaders) because of who they are and whom they really serve.

            In a world where a compassion-oriented society elects its best to best achieve the goal of establishing equal opportunity for one and all, then there is no subservience, but only service to the universal compassion within and the best ideas that percolate up, no matter the source.

    • Ed Walker says:

      This is a nice example of what Bourdieu talks about: the different way we socialize and acculturate children depending on race, wealth, social class, and religion. The children of different groups learn different ways to participate in society, and accept the ways they learn because of authority and because they don’t see alternatives.


    • JV says:

      The story about AOC reminded me of my time as a small town City Council member and Mayor. The League of Cities in California sponsors the “training (brainwashing) of newly electeds. At the first day luncheon we heard a presentation by then Governor Jerry Brown. He talked about his plans to stop the RDA(redevelopment) debt issues and how he wanted to reform that system. It sounded promising.
      As soon as he walked out the door, the League official got up and told the entire group of over 400 newly elected councilmembers that the League was going to fight Governor Brown to the death on his policies.
      I was shocked that there was no discussion, no polling of the group and that it seemed to be a done deal that we had no control over. Ultimately Brown eliminated RDA but it was an eye opener for me.
      Even small town locals are rarely able to change anything. I was told by attorneys that I took the “oath” to abide by CA law and to try to change it was a violation of my oath…

    • Dysnomia says:

      Your goddaughter’s math class was a great (horrible) example of how wealthy/corporate interests hijack education for the purposes of indoctrination.

      I think there’s a more fundamental issue with how our society treats children and young people, and that is the nature of the systems that interact with them indoctrinates them to believe that domination and hierarchy are normal and acceptable. Every institution that interacts with children in our society is very hierarchical and authoritarian (I would say fascistic). Children have zero freedom from domination. Except for their interactions with each other, they’re constantly at the bottom of all hierarchies.

      I think being incessantly controlled and dominated as they are conditions them to subservience. The “rebelliousness of youth” is a very common trope, but it’s not unique at all to young people. It’s a normal human reaction to domination. I think the authoritarianism of the institutions that interact with children at least in part has the purpose of breaking us of this tendency to rebel and resist domination, of conditioning us to accept (perhaps grudgingly, but at least without overt resistance) as adults all of the institutions and powerful interests that dominate society.

      In order to break this cycle, I think it’s necessary to transform our educational systems, child rearing practices, and other systems that interact with children, in libertarian ways.

      • sproggit says:

        Whilst I agree whole-heartedly with your sentiment, I am a little cautious if we’re going to use terms such as “in libertarian ways”, if only because I believe that we won’t make substantial societal change without bring the *whole* of society with us – and I would worry that words like “libertarian” will immediately close the minds of the more fervent conservatives in society.

        But you’re right.

        Somewhere on a bookshelf I have a printed, 4-volume compendium of “The Complete Calvin and Hobbes”… and there is a series of episodes in one volume in which, while the family are away on vacation, their house is burgled. After the inevitable police involvement, emergency repairs and search for missing things, there are a series of scenes with Calvin, his Mother and his Father thinking about the experience.

        Calvin’s Father is laying awake in bed and his thought bubble reads something along the lines of, “When I was a young child, growing up, I automatically assumed that my parents had received training on how to be parents and had some huge reference manual that told them what to do in any given situation. It is only now, as a parent myself, that I realize they were pretty much making it up as they went along…”

        It’s a wry social comment on the one hand, but profoundly true on the other. Either way, I believe it’s an observation that we simply don’t consider today.

      • sproggit says:

        “I think the authoritarianism of the institutions that interact with children at least in part has the purpose of breaking us of this tendency to rebel and resist domination, of conditioning us to accept (perhaps grudgingly, but at least without overt resistance) as adults all of the institutions and powerful interests that dominate society.”


        I work for a *very* large organization; I won’t say who, but it employs more than 200,000 people globally. Every year we have a “performance management review” process.

        We are told that it is “fair” and “transparent” and “holistic” and as evidence of the latter, we are told that all managers must solicit feedback from their subordinates as well as colleagues and more senior staff. But when it comes to the (3rd/4th/5th) grade mentality of awarding a “performance rank” that is somehow supposed to convey worth, then:-

        1. That only ever gets handed down from above, so in truth the entire workplace is governed entirely by a “big dog”/dominance model.
        2. The entire system quickly becomes riddled with corruption.
        3. Employees unfamiliar with the psychological games being played quickly become suckered in to the idea that this mythical thing they seek is, truly, a “discretionary bonus” and not, in fact, a portion of their budgeted salary held back to apply as leverage and blackmail and to induce them to work harder…

        And the point you make is that so many of us accept this in the workplace because we’ve been trained to accept it during our years of formal indoctrination, sorry, education.

        Under the guise of separating the nannies from the nuclear physicists, we are trained as children to accept continuous testing as a way of life, trained that if we do well in a test, there is a reward, but if we don’t, then we go without.

        See here:-

        • sproggit says:

          And I’m sorry, but I forgot to conclude by pointing out that when we agree to participate in a test, we agree to place ourselves completely at the mercy of the person conducting the test. We immediately agree to take a subserviant, “junior” role in whatever it is we’re contemplating.

          Albert Einstein is quoted with the observation that, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

          This is the danger of the indoctrination process; not that all tests are inherently unfair, or that they are corrupt, merely that through the very act of participating in a “test” or “contest”, we are implicitly recognizing the authority of the test conductor and allowing them to have dominion over us.

      • JV says:

        So true. Our small town high school built a new track. The community at large had access to the old one and walkers and runners used it frequently before or after school hours and on weekends. When the new one was built, the public (taxpayers) were banned and an electric fence put up. Our kids are being conditioned to accept confinement and isolation from the entire community.
        Of course, the rationale was that drug dealers could enter the school. So, then school officers and security personnel were also hired at great cost to taxpayers and another form of conditioning and authority bestowed on children.
        It sickens me and sadly most everyone else supports it.

  3. jaango says:

    When it comes to touting my sense of humor for this current Era of Pragmatism, my testimonial comes in the form and function of Universal Bilingualism. And as such, my magic elixir is premised on the 27 domestic languages, and where these languages are “indigenous” and where the 20 diverse communities are absent when– in our current discussion on Pragmatism, is readily available.

    And yet, I am not alone in my thoughtfulness, given that Arizona’s Superintendent of Education is now touting Universal Bilingualism and accomplished in the mind of the “keepers” that “integration and assimilation” must be accomplished. And to wit, ‘racial and ethnics” must be integrated into the English-speaking world that is our United States. In short, a dumbed-down Democracy?

    However, I disagree in the support for how universal bilingualism, is to be applied! And to wit, ‘white” America and in particular, “white” parents must learn to empower themselves when it comes to a more fruitful success that is that their kids==K-12– become much more integrated and assimilated. And if not, “demographics” will determine whether these kids, after grown into adult hood will “self-deport” and is somewhat iconic in that today’s Haters will not take an affirming decision to “self-deport” themselves.

    So, when I contemplate our nation’s future, “demographics” will determine the application for the Unassailable Fact, that “integration and assimilation” will be neither denied nor successfully challenged and contra to the academic memes. And after having read Rich Lowry’s latest book, I came away that “migration flows” cannot be harnessed as per his latest tout that the Conservative Moment, is still arriving.

    And perhaps, my sense of humor stands me in good stead and where I need to shout louder?

  4. dan hunter says:

    “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” Jay Gould
    * › wiki › Jay_Gould
    Jason Gould (/ɡuːld/; May 27, 1836 – December 2, 1892) was an American railroad magnate and financial speculator who is generally identified as one of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. His sharp and often unscrupulous business practices made him one of the wealthiest men of the late nineteenth century.

    • e.a.f. says:

      I still use the line, to explain why people vote or work against their own interests to the benefit of their oppressors.

      Regarding schools, many are simply there to met the needs of the corporations/employers. Just the manner in which American children accept being taken out of schools, with their hands over their heads, how their parents are kept away. It frequently seems to me, its not so much about getting children out safe but rather to get them to accept that this behaviour as acceptable. As to the drills, that must really “mind fuck” more than a few children and keep them scared for the rest of their lives. Its making children accept the uselessness of trying to change things for the better. Its like, get used to it.

      Keeping people off of schools grounds is so weird. They’re paid for by the tax payer and the taxpayer ought to be able to use them when school is not in session. Its such a waste of space to not use school facilities for the community at large. Once a community uses its schools space and grounds for the community, the community frequently ensures nothing happens to the property.

  5. roberts robot double says:

    This is so very excellent, Mr. Walker.

    [As a preliminary side comment: the clear, concise, lacking of emotional hooks nature of such beautiful expositions of reality are simply not attractive to the most ignorant and emotionally-driven of our fellows, who have chosen to eschew critial thinking in favor of their ingrained emotional and prejudicial patterns of belief, which are usually irrational and often belligerent.]

    What I came to say today, however, is that our society has never taught (because they never learned it) that each and every person’s sense of morality evolves throughtout their life, for good or ill. As I have experienced with my parents who call themselves Christians yet recently turned away their grandkids because I demanded that my mother hear the truth of Trump et al’s very, very anti-Christian brutalities, such evolution does not always mean “moving in a positive direction”.

    [My mother kicked me out of the house for trying (with the “I’m not talking about politics” weak sauce) to explain the atrocities that I doubt are being portrayed on Fox/OAN, after which my father disinvited my wife and kids from Thanksgiving, followed by the Christmas gathering being cancelled. That was actually a blessing for me because I didn’t know how to announce that I had already decided I wouldn’t sup with anyone who refuses to discuss how evil our child separation policy was/is vis a vis “the regime’s lawyer stated in open court that hygiene does not require soap, toothpaste or a toothbrush.”]

    We are each born with a moral compass, which is molded by the societies we grow up within, where we learn which attitudes and behaviors are acceptible/desirable to the group. Some of these (e.g. KKK or any other kind of gang, such as royalty) are absolutely negative to the society they are embedded within, because such divisions are always antithetical to harmony. I believe there is a Hitler quote about “give me the children until they’re five…” or somesuch. I have witnessed firsthand, however, how a formerly very-good man chose to corrupt his own moral compass with the help of FoxNews and has now chosen membership in their lies and agenda over his own grandkids.

    It is essential for every human being — regardless of how enlightened their parent societies are — to critically evaluate *all* the attitudes and behaviors they have adopted. This is a uniqueness of the human being, for only we have moral sense and a mind that can contemplate abstract ideas including our own behaviors’ moral interpretations, thereby allowing us to consciously self-evolve.

    The world’s societal systems that human beings have created/adopted over the recent centuries have not, in the vast majority of cases, been geared towards uplifting the most stricken of its members. This is simply due to the fact that the amoral have always been rewarded with more power (unless they really f*ck up publicly) in these systems; these systems, of course, having been authored by the selfish to reflect and further their own desires (“All men are created equal”, for a very narrow defintion of “all”). This is a feature of every system that does not weigh its goals and choices based upon a compassion-based morality (once again, because they were established to unfairly keep and grow the power of the powerful irrespective of morality). The amoral have always had the advantage over the moral because they are more than willing to shamelessly lie, backstab, incite hatred, etc.; to do whatever it takes to reach their ends, those always being selfish as morality and selfishness are always perfectly correlated.

    So then, how do we craft a society governed by a compassionate ethos, led by honest public servants committed to the good of everyone? First and foremost, we must each become citizens with an active, positively-evolving morality. All intellectual analyses of necessary subjects such as economics or government process design will never produce lasting solutions without being girded on the foundation of universal compassion for not just their own citizenry, but for all Earth’s inhabitants, human and otherwise. (Industrialization has required our sense of “neighbor” to become all-encompassing, extending to the Earth itself.)

    One must always be mindful of the two modern bellweathers as to how the amoral treat those who oppose their regimes: the execution of millions of innocent Jews in Nazi Germany and the assasination of one of the greatest Americans of All-Time: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (FDR’s “Four Freedoms” puts him in the running, imo, though cases can be made for many others, I’d imagine.)

    Know also that a person who has not judged their own self in the course of fighting the selfishness of their ego (not many even begin that arduous process in earnest) will make mistakes when judging others. When you judge a person you don’t love, then all your prejudices about the person will affect, if not utterly destroy, your impartiality. The spiritual “seeing, hearing and understanding of the heart” that develops alongside one’s moral self-evolution is but one reason that love is the positive pole of morality.

    [This brings me to a side-question: Did the Nazis think they were evil? My guess is that they didn’t, but I’d be curious to hear from more learned folks than myself. Of course, we are in 2019 experiencing an evil regime that most certainly not only doesn’t just believe they are not doing evil but are absolutely confident that they are doing good. The result of my ponderings is “Only the insane (or evil) are not driven crazy by all this shit.”]

    Furthermore, when you love people (“as your [own] self”) that you may never meet in this life, you will selflessly put forth the effort necessary to strip the power from their oppressors. Yes, that will require the sacrifice of material comforts, perhaps much of them, perhaps all for those who give their lives, but the joy that comes from living the Greatest Command for the benefit of others who may not look like you or have the same traditions as yours — the joy that comes from that striving is truly beyond words and is, in a sense, more real than any physical object in this universe.

    The real (meaning effortful) compassion for the oppressed means that less compassion need be afforded to the oppressors; a truly compassionate person *must* come to this understanding or their manifestation of compassion for others has not reached its full potential. Perhaps the oppressors being unseated from their power will lead them to turn their hearts around — it’s certainly possible, if highly unlikely — but, regardless, they can’t be allowed to continue their brutalities. This is a moral imperative.

    If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
    — Desmond Tutu

    You can become a big master in chess only if you see your mistakes and short-comings. Exactly the same as in life itself.
    — Alexander Alekhine

    The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin.
    — Proverbs 21:12

    34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
    — Matthew 10:34-36

    I hope that my parents are intellectually honest and brave enough to admit (1) that they’ve been duped into an evil, anti-Christian cult-like organization, and (2) that they must denounce the GOP and its people for their crimes against humanity. Until they abandon their willful ignorance in support of a group of amoral aristocraps, I will not sup with them. I did not, however, give any advice to my kids or wife as to whether or not they should do likewise, nor would I be disappointed if they chose to go hang out with them. But, after I explained the child separation policy to my kids (near teenagers), my daughter, through her tears, independently came to the same understanding.

  6. Jonf says:

    It’s all about the money anyway. So the top 1% saw their wealth rise to 38.6% of the nations wealth in 2016 from 36.3% in 2013. Meanwhile the bottom 90% fell from 33.2% in 1989 to 22.8% in 2016. Some say this also reflects the continuing economic trouble from the Great Recession. And some say it was not a depression. If your boss is getting wealthier it sorta kinda means he has more power than you. So mind yourself. From CNBC. Want to bet it is still going that way?

  7. SAO says:

    This makes so much sense. I’ve been surprised that no one has taken on issues like Black Lives Matter in song. With Beyonce and Kanye topping charts, where is the “Blowing in the wind,” the “Oh, ye masters of war,” “Cherokee Nation” of the modern era?

    Why hasn’t Colin Kaepernick been hired? Why is Medicare for All (something every other developed nation has, and plenty of not-so-developed nations) considered radical?

  8. Ed Waljer says:

    Good question. I recently saw a concert of songs from the 1920s and 30s born on the South Side of Chicago. The music inspired direct action that eventually ended the worst abuses by landlords.

    It’s depressing that so few musicians try to catch hold of the spirit of the times, so that the songs you reference are oldies.

  9. Godfree Roberts says:

    Lee Kwan Yew[1] explained how this wreaks havoc on civil society:

    “The Philippines press enjoys all the freedoms of the US system but fails the people: a wildly partisan press helped Philippines politicians flood the marketplace of ideas with junk and confuse and befuddle the people so that they could not see what their vital interests were in a developing country. And, because vital issues like economic growth and equitable distribution were seldom discussed, they were never tackled and the democratic system malfunctioned. Look at Taiwan and South Korea: their free press runs rampant and corruption runs riot. The critic itself is corrupt yet the theory is, if you have a free press, corruption disappears. Now I’m telling you, that’s not true. Freedom of the press, freedom of news critics, must be subordinated to the overriding needs of the integrity of Singapore and to the primacy of purpose of an elected government. ”

    [1] A Third World Perspective on the Press. RH Lee Kwan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore. C-SPAN, APRIL 14, 1988

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “Primacy of purpose of an elected government.” LKY would have been more honest had he left off the “elected” part. His authoritarian governments followed his advice, and never let freedom of expression or holding the government to account for its excesses get in the way of economic growth.

      Freedom from [lower-level] corruption did mark his administrations, a refreshing contrast with the rest of SE Asia. But that and his economic growth – which made Singapore the Disneyland of entrepot for the western bidnessman – came at a cost: regimented living and a free speech so constipated, legislators could be jailed for defamation for speaking critically of his government. That’s authoritarianism with the lilt of southern hospitality.

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