[EM] Time of trouble? Or put a lid on it?

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Sun Feb 1 17:46:10 PST 2009

Juho Laatu wrote:

> I'm not sure that inequality would be a
> requirement. Full equality in terms of
> wealth and power is impossible to achieve,
> but we can approximate that at some
> agreed/suitable level (e.g. by balancing
> the differences a bit where needed) - and
> still keep the natural competitive forces
> alive as the forward driving force in the
> society (and its economy).

So the realm of possiblity may contain mechanisms to correct the gross
inequalities of opportunity etc. that divide class from class, and
nation from nation.  You and I can discuss this possiblity in abstract
terms, like "cultured gentleman".^[1] But what is the path from
possiblity to actuality?  And what are the danger points along the

  1. A voting system is instituted in the public sphere, thus lifting
     the lid of the pot.

     People are free to express themselves on issues of gross
     disparity, to be heard, and to build consensus.  The inter-class
     and inter-national tensions that were formerly suppressed and
     suspended are thus thematized in discussion and floated for
     political action.  What shall the action be?  Everyone is
     talking, voting...

  2. Stuff happens.

  3. Eventually reason prevails.  The dwellers in the favelas and the
     peasents in the villages (despite long suppressed bitterness and
     anger) enter into a more-or-less rational discussion with the
     weathly entrepreneurs and landowners.

  4. A promising "disparity correction" mechanism is discovered, and
     talked about.

  5. A rough consensus emerges that, yes, this is the very mechanism
     we want.

  6. Political action follows.  The mechanism is emplaced.

  7. It fails.

  8. Stuff happens.

Steps 2 and 8 are problematic.  What kind of stuff can happen?

[1] In Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy, in the
    chapter on Aristotle's Politics, the last few paragraphs frame a
    broad context for discussing the extremes of democracy, reaction
    and counter-reaction.


    That's p. 187, which contains the text "Aristotle's fundamental
    assumptions... the rise of industrialism... Both for good and
    evil, therefore, the day of the cultured gentleman is past."

Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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