Friday, August 7, 2015

Inequality was the result of a few deliberately moving away from original state of EQUALITY

(The open letter to Mr.Thomas Piketty is the 3rd blog-post down from here)

Inequality was the result of a few deliberately moving away from original platform of EQUALITY, claiming them as different class !

Better we start with a real example of the phenomenon from the contemporary world, to understand the above allegation. India's capital New Delhi was a cluster of many villages in the past. When the city had become Capital of the country, the so called political and corporate elites, followed by their work-force- the middle class-migrated to the city, with all their typical Western life style,mansions,big-cars,dress-code and language codes.

There was no separate land-mass in the city to accommodate this alien people, so the govt  and private builders had to chose their dwelling and office units close to that of the old-settlers, the old village population.

For these age old settlers, their traditional culture,language,life-style,dress-code and food-habits became suddenly alien in the newly emerged world around them ! The youth in the villages, with their rustic ways,hair-style, dress-code and language found them-selves laughing stock before the City dwellers,especially for the women folk.Night clubs, Pubs and class-hotels refused entry for the village-youth. At their own native land for centuries, suddenly they had become out-fits !

Clashes between the occupants and agents of the two distinctly different worlds are frequent in many parts of Delhi and surrounding new corporate hubs like Gurgaon and Noida today.

The pattern of how inequality originates gets a clue here. A new different world, with different values and norms is thrust upon the old population of the world, for accommodating the industrial advancement, culture and modernity !

Though the old settlers eat,dress and lead their kind of contended lives, they suddenly turn inferior and outsiders in  the new world !

Many of these old settlers got unbelievable prices for their land-stock, but they ended-up spending such large sums of buying expensive cars and mansions, with the intention of becoming one with the new stock people, but they failed, as it was impossible for them to become one with the well groomed, and long-accustomed life-styles, education, values and world-views of the new people.

By this time, there was a gigantic flow of ordinary men and women from every neighboring State to the Capital city, to cater to the need of labor-force in the never ending construction boom for factories and mansions. City sheltered them in temporary sheds built to accommodate them near the large construction sites. Thus, thousands of Slums settlements emerged in the city of Delhi, wherein men,women slept, defecated,cooked,had sex and procreated a new generation of support-force of manual labor, electricians, plumbers,barbers, butchers and street-vendors for the new world. These settlements gradually have got extended to street-pavements and also to the underneaths of the many cemented road-fly-overs in the city, gradually.

These millions of men and women workers ( or laborers)  had also joined the population of 'outsiders' to the new world,like the original village inhabitants that we have touched in the beginning.

Very few of them are deprived of three, or at least two square meals a day. They do every thing the same way that the city-dweller does in the routine of every day life, in every aspect of the biological as well as social life.  Difference perhaps might be that, while the typical city dweller have his daily sexual act in his well decorated,air-conditioned bed-room, while soft music-emanating from sophisticated audio-systems, in a much more softer-bed that the street-dweller or the village-couple could never even imagine of. The villager and the street-dweller might be enjoying the same act with the same degree of ecstasy and contentment, but the act undertaken lying perhaps on a coarse jute-sheet spread on the floor, without music flowing from behind, and no cool air flowing from air-conditioner!

The latter class may not be familiar with the comforts the city-dwellers are accustomed with, so there is no sense of deprivation on this account. A laborer accustomed to living in a tarpaulin-tent for long, might   certainly suffer a sense of discomfort sleeping in an air-conditioned room, or in relishing a western-style break-fast with toast,milk and fruits! Tastes of life are certainly matters of familiarity&routine,and what is being accustomed to.

The warmth or ecstasy of physical-intimacy a migrant-labor might enjoy under the tarpaulin-roof of his temporary tent at the work-site, or on the street-side, under a sheet of cloth, can not be termed as less than that of the model of the city-dweller we have described above.

With regard to food-habits and life-style,while the city-dweller  have his western-style break-fast, lunch and dinner made of the same basic flour that  the villager and street-dweller use to make his hand-made,coerce bread at home, the former might prefer it to be made in a different style, with added ingredients and flavor, thus the name of final product on the table might sound strange to the villager and the laborer. The food that these migrant workers and the villager eat might be akin to their native habit, recipe and style, with raw-chilly,raw-cut-onion etc there as a side-dish, with rough,home-made bread, or plain cooked-rice always there as the main-course.

 The city-dweller might have painstakingly left his native food-habits and style of living, and learned the ways of their peers, in an effort to aid his gaining the new ( up-class ) identity. This is the central theme of this paper. While the net-human biological acts remain essentially the same, man always sought to belong to up-classes by adopting their particular changed styles of the same acts, whether it is dress, food, language or way the inter-relations with others conducted ! An altogether new vocabulary and narrative had-been developed in modern world to denote that kind of a life,pushing the basic life of the base-man into an out-modeled,archaic kind !

A peep into history to find the root of higher-class aspirations 

We must go back to the first beginnings of seeking of the life-style and food-style change in history, to understand the desire of man to acquire an upper-status in society. Whatever primordial factors might have gone into making of the human-institution of the King and Queen, the next-down the class, the Feudal Lords, always sought to imitate the style of the Royal family, to keep their own identity different from that of the ordinary citizens. The industrial revolution saw the rise of the new class of the Corporate-Lords, and their slowly replacing the class of the Feudal-Lords.

The newly emerged corporate sector had caused emergence of multiple layers economic prosperity in the society, with different classes of cars, apparels, foot-wears,different Hotel and air-travel class-differences, different levels of social-contacts etc defining them, and the boarder-lines. The next down-class in the ladder always show a will and desire to up-grade itself to the next level.

Market today offer differently priced luxury life-amenities that specifically cater to each of such economic-class. A shirt made of the same basic kind of yarn, when brought to market by a top-notch brand, the price from its base model would be at times even 10 or 15 times higher! People buy it to belong to a particular class !Modern market not only cater to the basic biological needs of man, but also to his psychological and social-needs !( class distinction needs)

Richard Wilkinson,a renowned social scientist from UK says: "the more we judge each other by social status, the more lower status hurts. The deeper this hurt, this pain of feeling devalued, the more reckless our search for relief. Instances of drug and alcohol abuse proliferate. People die before they should" ( The context was a study seeking cause of many Americans middle-class men between age 45-54 die early)

To summarize, the so called civilizational-progress was a walking away of a few from the base-model or platform, or the base life-style of man, into  artificially conceived categories of comfort and luxury !  When Steam-ship or Rail-road travel was invented, due to the cost-factor of availing these advancements, majority of the population left behind from being their routine users and consumers. Though electricity was invented in 1879, some 130 years ago, there are still large pockets in Asian and African countries where people do not have electricity ! What percentage of world population could so far avail air-travel at least once in life? Though there are no reliable date available, rough estimates at internet sources show it, not more than 6% in one estimate, and of course not more than 25% in another estimate ! Similar statistics on the number of house-holds without air-conditioner or computer would blew-off our myths about EQUALITY in modern world !

The small percentage of world-population who dared to journey away from the mainstream, invented paths of leading life differently, also was able to carry a sizable percentage of others with them in the voyage as support force for leading their very special kind of life. This class was ultimately able to speak about the entire world in FIRST-PERSON, as if they exclusively represent it, the entire world belong to them !

Rest of the world ( the majority) had to live in awe of them, but had to realize and feel that they do not belong to it.  As their old world had ceased to exist as the original, with no separate identity and existence to lead their old lives that they had been leading since beginning, they were forced to continue living with a deep sense of alienation and non-belonging-ness to the new world, and to the new realm of modern life !

There is a real vacuum in modern world;she run blind on her above narrated path of PROGRESS, without showing any sign of stopping somewhere, and check whether everyone is following behind ! It's institutions are morally blind to see the truth of her own walking away as different, and life-style-wise above the common population. Instead, this majority population are being utilized as convenient and practical 'resource' to ensure the pace of advancement and progress of the minority elite who had walked away to create the new,synthetic world. We have convincingly seen above that, there is no base quality difference in the lives people live at both sides of the dividing wall, except one class has declared the WORLD as their own, leaving all others to fend for them-selves !  This minority often tend to institutionalize the existence of the said majority an INEVITABLE price for the PROGRESS of 'THEIR' world.

Unfortunately, this 'progress' pays a great price also these days,affecting the whole mankind.Excessively crowded cities with slums and dirt at her peripherals,industrial and vehicular dust polluting her air,crime and rape ever increasing. There is 'progress', as empty sign of 'success',but life of man a neglected concept. Man and women seek 'success' by hook or crook.Life lost its fundamental character.,eaning and substance in every sense!!

The sense of pleasure and mirth, and that of inequality and alienation factor 

If there is not much quantitative and qualitative difference in the degree of satisfaction and contentment level of the lives of men and women at the two sides of the wall, why there is the great cry of INEQUALITY ?
Rousseau's answer would be the most appropriate to explain this dilemma; " it is because the former ( the one who walked away, claiming their life is superior) PRIZE what they enjoy only in so far as others are destitute of it; they would cease to be happy the moment (others) cease to be wretched" ( 'wretchedness', always as per subjective notions of the rich) ( His long essay, ' On the origin of inequality')

Rousseau had meant that, the mirth and pleasure of the rich is confined to his sense of 'affluence', compared to the new standards his class had intentionally created to STAND-OUT from the crowd ! The sense of 'inequality' that the other model feels is merely about his not belonging to the NEW-WORLD,from where its creators had walked-away from one day, to create their own different world ! These people of the old world often do not understand the exact difference of the life-style of the rich and powerful; in the sense that the new food stuff and life-style they have, or the new dress,foot-wear and dress-style they now have adopted. Those are beyond the grasp of the ordinary class. They can not even relish or enjoy these neo-life style and amenities even if it is offered to them. They will catch cold if they sleep in an air-conditioned room. They will omit if the new food items are fed-to them.

Our ancestors were habitual of walking miles and miles when Buses and roads were not invented and available. When bullock-carts or horse-cart invented, it was affordable by almost all, unlike Air-travel of the day, which is beyond the means of almost 90% of the population.

Inequality is a matter of comparison. Our previous generation, when they walked and walked to reach their destinations, there was no knowledge of any advanced mode of transport. So, they never felt any sense of inequality. When electricity was not invented, or not available in remote villages, people never felt any sense of deprivation as the heat of the day and night, and the dark-nights without electric bulbs, were simply the order of the day. The sense of deprivation arrives when men once experience the difference of the other kind of life, and when he senses the different-life the other men live.

This is not an attempt to devalue the merit of human-invention and progress. This is specifically to remind the vital need of making available all the fruits of inventions and progress to one and all, and making it an inevitable VALUE and natural LAW that, whatever can not be made available to one and all should not be made available to a select few, as special privilege to those who could afford it ! It will breed a sense of deprivation, inequality and disturbing sense of two worlds.

The conclusion is that, INEQUALITY of today is an intentional  or deliberate product of the new world, wherein a class simply walked-away from the common platform of life all the men. The sense of deprivation of the poor and deprived men is basically that of the lower status inflicted upon them by the new world. The new world look-down upon the ones who do not conform to their new life-style and habits as inferior and below-par ! Media, and every other mass-communication agencies are owned and run by the new world dwellers, thus stamping-down the old world to obscurity.

When every manufacturer of products and services changed over to catering to the needs of the new world, where their profit margins are substantially high, the old-world had to face acute INFLATION; when money supply was abundant, prices naturally rose, depriving the old world dwellers their capacity to buy their daily needs at old prices. As they did not belong to the new world and its income sources in the corporate sector, their income-level never reached the old world dwellers. So, their purchasing power naturally dwindled day by day, depriving them of even the very items of subsistence ! Poverty, thus visited them uninvited and unexpected.

The idea introduced above would be more clear, if you could share few other blog-posts, like: http://whatequalityshouldmeanindemocracy.blogspot.in/


Authored by: Abraham J. Palakudy

An independent philosophy,mind,Reason,Spirituality and Polity researcher,seeker and writer
Contact at: ajoseph1@rediffmail.com
Other blogs&Profile:https://www.blogger.com/profile/14249415589712707293
Twitter: Voice of Philososophy@jopan1

Books by the author:Please see the list at his blogger profile









Friday, January 23, 2015

Why inequality a much desired feature of capitalistic world ?

(The open letter to Mr.Thomas Piketty is the 2nd blog-post down from here)


Why modern societies deliberately create avenues of inequality



There are outcries from every sector in modern world about ever growing inequality. Every study by reputed institutions reveals that more and more wealth and privileges are going into fewer and fewer hands, and the number of poor and unprivileged human-beings are ever increasing in the world. The recent Oxfam study and Zurich study are examples.
The recent post by Bill Gates in the Linkedin PULSE column ( see link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141015002149-251749025-why-inequality-matters?trk=prof-post) commenting on Thomas Piketty's book on Capital, also acknowledges that inequality in the capitalist order is a naked reality. He suggested to tax increasingly on consumption, instead of the existing practice of taxing income to achieve more effective economic equality.
This is an attempt to get at the root fundamentals of inequality in modern societies. Some of the basic questions raised here to achieve this end are:
1) Is inequality a simple issue of unequal wealth distribution in society ?                  
2) What aspect of inequality pains the victim most;
a) Having lesser wealth or income than the more privileged ?
b) The capacity of the wealthy to enjoy all the luxuries of the world, depriving them from the common folk ?
c) His irrelevance in the society that is primarily measured on the basis of what one does to earn his bread, ( his job, or earning source) the attire and foot-wear he uses, where does he live,( the status of the colony /street he resides) the brand of car he uses, the style of language he uses ( the degree of sophistication of his language ) etc?
3) Does one's power-share in the polity also strongly contribute to inequality ? In other words, other than income disparity, does power-disparity also cause grave inequality ?
4) Is there a definite striving in modern society to always become unequal? ( to be above the common)
5) Does our existing socio-economic-political system directly or indirectly encourages a striving for becoming more and more wealthy and successful in society ? The naked reality of economic-class distinction measured and relished on the basic of the 'class', or the 'luxury' standards of the products and services one could afford to go for...
6) Is it not paradoxical for the modern world that at one hand it strives for equality as a socio-political value, and at the same time it encourages men and women to compete, and attain unequal heights in society ?
Let us take-up the above 6 points one by one here, for quick discussions on each question:
1) Is inequality a simple issue of unequal wealth distribution in society ?
The answer is a plain NO ! The poorest who dwells in an urban labor-hut but eats his 3 square-meals every day in his own tradition and style, does not bother if the extreme-rich does the same act,with an entirely different menu on his plate, and having the affair on a dining table costing many fortunes that the poor man can ever think of. For both the specimen, it is only a matter of inherited tastes and routines. If healthy, both models sleep well after having dinner, having some fun with the children, and then after a routine sex act ! Both parties live their lives, unaware of how the other one undergoes his life. They virtually live in two different worlds !
So, their lives are not qualitatively any different on account of the huge income/wealth difference.Here, quality of life standard is measured on the basis of the degree of contentment both models have; not based on any objective,external criterion. Issue of inequality does not at all bother them at this plane of life.
2) What aspect of inequality pains the victim most;
a) Having lesser wealth or income than the more privileged ? ( the deprivation aspect)
We could simply compare this factor with men and women with lesser body length.Except in very rare cases, body height does not affect one's base-line happiness in life. We can not ever conclude that the more the body length of a person, the higher would be his contentment in life, and the lesser it, the lesser his/her degree of happiness. As far as one has resources for 3 square meals and a roof to sleep under, the different way in which the other eat, drink or sleep will not disturb anyone's base-line happiness.
The cases of extreme poverty, ie. one's going to bed with out having anything to eat is an extremely rare event in the modern world, with many charitable and religious institutions who routinely offer food every day to those who come calling ( The Sikh temples, for example)
b) The capacity of the wealthy to enjoy all the luxuries of the world, depriving them from common folk ?
Some of the explanations above would answer this question; many in the lower strata of modern societies are even not aware what the rich eats, the luxury gadgets he uses at home. The two worlds are quite set-apart, and the inherited style and routine, rules their food and life habits than any sense of constant deprivation, or injustice.
c) His irrelevance in the society that is predominantly measured on the basis of what one does ( his job and earning source) the attire and foot-wear he uses, where does he live,( the size of his house, status of the colony /street he resides) the brand of car he uses, the style of language he utters ( his education and the life-style ladder!) etc?
Yes...other than the food he eat, or the kind of roof he sleeps under, or the dress he wears, what disturbs the poor and down-trodden most is the distinct and clear low-status in which the main-stream world look-upon and treat him!
There are clear mental divisions in society, or class distinctions, that determine one's status and relevance in the society, measured on the basis of his social appearance. When such distinct divisions exist, and when people get corresponding response from the society in the form of respect and regard for his status, every person is compelled to internalize his/her such 'allotted' dignity and value in the society, and adjust his himself, his looks and behavior accordingly. He wears a fitting self-image, many a times that of a dangerous self-hatred and self-denial ! He renounce the world that disparage him. He self-declares his non-belonging-ness to such a world, and create his own separate a world to dwells in. For any healthy society, such alienation of a percentage of the population into their own world of negative values and self-image is an extremely dangerous feature ! They are the ones who could disturb the very bottom peace in any society, by their criminal, terrorist or plain underworld activities, nullifying whatever is splendid and extra-ordinary about an age ! Our contemporary age's socio-political condition is a fitting example !
In short, the inequality as sensed by these men in the bottom strata of society is not based on his income or wealth inequality, but his degree of dignity and relevance the society offer him. It is about the class into which he is dumped, as an inevitable feature of the economic and political ways of the existing order.
3) Does one's power-share in the polity also strongly contribute to inequality ? In other words, other than income disparity, does power-disparity also cause grave inequality ?
This might be a rarely taken-up cause,or a feature of modern inequality. Modern democracy is simply a political power-sharing exercise among certain professional class of people. Every conceivable group in society,ie. religious, language, geography and even certain occupation like farmers are in a mad rush to form political parties, fight election, and have a participation in the government. Unrepresented groups and individuals often left alone in modern democracies, without power and any influence in the decision making process. This often leads to grave issues of inequality in society.
There are thousands of bureaucrats under every government,with the whole backing of the state, and a power-share in it. A good percentage of population are friends and relatives of these men, with equal hold in the power-basket, and they too do enjoy unlimited freedom and equality in society.
The rest multitudes are left alone, as mere power-less 'subjects' in the country. In the matter of being 'heard', or getting routine citizens matters done in govt.offices, or for gaining freedom from police,taxation, and municipality highhandedness, ordinary citizens routinely have to either bribe,or plead mercy from the ones in power for personal safety and survival. The snow-balling effect is true in the mater of political power too,hence money and resources get attracted to political power, and these guys increasingly grow very unequal in every modern democratic society.
The general inequality and powerless-ness of common citizens has a lot to do with the above unequal distribution of political power. Those who are without any political link often get despised and ignored at government offices for routine work, and similarly at police,taxation and municipal offices. The ones with some or other kind of political 'power' ( or even with money power, that always attracts political power ) are not a single individual in the strict sense of it; they are kind of monsters, with the backing of a hugely powerful and impersonal entity called the State ! An individual citizen is no match for him,with his total vulnerablity and defenselessness ! This inequality is, if analysed carefully, is the worst form of inequality in the modern world.
4) Is there a definite striving in modern society to become unequal? ( to be above the common)
We can answer only in the affirmative ! Yes... every one of us want to be up and above from the other, in the degree of dignity and relevance in society ! This striving is for avoiding the ignominy of being an ordinary citizen in the country!
If the criterion that had decided this difference from others was mere physical strength in the primordial days, it was changed to knowledge about the 'other' world of spirits and Gods ( the priestly class) later on in history, in the journey of mankind. Most of the civilization had periods of domination by the priestly class in their history.
Then It was followed by Feudalism, the upper-hand of men with large land holdings and the 'noble' ways they had dressed, spoken and lived. The so called democratic transition was in-fact a seeking of freedom and empowerment by the rich and noble class from the monarchs. The Magna-Carta treaty- the first of its kind in history-was indeed wrestled by the feudal lords from the kings !
It is said that the British monarchies were forced to recognize the House of 'commons', at the instigation of the House of Lords. Feudal Lords thought that such a step would reduce the power of the Kings in the long-run. The power and wealth of over-seas voyagers, and later the industrialists ( who were mostly from the class of common people) blinded even the then feudal Lords. Heard that some of them were ready even to exchange their noble-titles for the exotic items these voyagers brought from strange lands !
In short, no revolution -seeking freedom and liberty in history - was ever led by common citizens, genuinely wanting to alter their 'state-subject' status. They were all planned and executed by those who had been already rich and the powerful, wanting to escape the atrocities of the king or his likes. If American revolution was led by the rich planters in the new continent, hugely helped and supported by the French and the Spanish ( to avenge their defeat in the 7 year war with Britain !) the French revolution was known to have planned and executed by the secret societies of Jewish money lenders, predominantly based in Britain and Germany ( see link: http://www.lovethetruth.com/books/pawns/03.htm)
Whatever the case and cause might have been, though feudalism had come to an end, a similar upper-hand of a new class- the men of business and trade-took over the reigns of modern world from its old masters in 17th and 18th centuries. Though the peoples' form of government -democracy-took over major parts of the world from the days of American democratic experiment, for the much needed and inevitable country development,( ie. economic development ) the new political order and the men behind it, had no choice but to seek the active participation and collaboration of these new masters of the world! ( ie. from the industry and the elite sector)
The human individual is free today to have his own ways, ( the liberal order) whether it is about building up huge castles for himself and his family, owning air-crafts and ships, creating exclusive realms of luxury and life-conveniences for him and his men and women etc. This freedom of individual under the liberal spirit of the West, is an unquestioned norm in the contemporary, so called free-world, provided he, ( the rich and elite) and the companies he own pay taxes in time !There are many special industries catering to the unique needs of the life-style of these class of people, who own more than 50% of of all the wealth of the world as per authentic, recent studies.
Then comes the second, third, fourth and fifth etc.categories or classes of men with wealth and life-style, beneath the above 1%, the most elite class. There are specialized industries, products and services that cater to the needs of each of such economic class in the modern world.
Our knowledge of human nature is still inadequate to infer why man is in a constant pursuit to out-smart his fellow-being in success and achievement ! But one thing is clear that,our collective moral imperative always warn us (the mankind) that, equality is a better social-condition than the ever growing inequality in society that the capitalistic order will always usher-in. Without doubt, the striving for up-man-ship is a clear feature that our modern society is suffering from, and what the contemporary capitalist-democratic order indeed supports and encourages.
World have clearly witnessed the same outcome from its communist experiments too; many centuries of their reign at many parts of the world had not resulted in providing citizens their much promised liberation, individual dignity and peace. The so called 'workers' class, when successful in occupying the chairs of the 'ruling-class' of the states, had no other model to adopt, than that of the their predecessors who once they had ousted from those seats ! Today, communist nations are notorious for their lack of individual freedom for people,and for their despotic ways with the people.
There is a strange kind of equality under communist order, but it is like the equality of many 'zeros', with no value and relevance to any one. State is the ultimate unit of progress, success and fame !
Thus, communism also shut the hopes of mankind in ushering a new era of universal acceptance of individual human dignity and freedom.
If communists had made citizens the 'commodity' that constitute the state, modern capitalistic-democracies made them commodities for the machinery of industry to run!
Modern democratic-political order always play supportive role for the industry, as they provide the life-blood to the nationhood. Though there is constant strife between the polity and the industry on the question of who is the master of affairs in modern world, such conflicts are always outside the realm of people. People are always passive victims and state-material, as they were always been in human history !
America,the strongest of all democracies in the modern world, though succeeded in suppressing the recent agitation of the 99% of the population alleging that their cause is to free the nation from the reign of the 1% elites, ( The recent 'OCCUPY' wall-street etc.,agitations) it exemplify whatever we have discussed in the preceding para.
Thus, it is clear that every individual attempts to be smarter and successful than his fellow-being, while nations too suffer from the same disease. This age believes that competition is the only natural order, and it only would ensure survival ! Should this dogma be right ? Please share a link that explains a different story, at link::http://newphilosophyoflife.blogspot.in/

Susan George, a fiery activist against the new-liberalism of our era, in one of her papers writes: 

"There is plenty of money sloshing around out there and a tiny fraction, a ridiculous, infinitesimal proportion of it would be enough to provide a decent life to every person on earth, to supply universal health and education, to clean up the environment and prevent further destruction to the planet, to close the North-South gap--at least according to the UNDP which calls for a paltry $40 billion a year. That, frankly, is peanuts " ( In her paper presented at 'Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World' Bangkok, 24-26 March 1999,see link: file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Father/Desktop/A%20Short%20History%20of%20Neo-liberalism%20%20%20Global%20Exchange.html)
5) Does our existing socio-economic-political system directly or indirectly encourage the above value of striving for becoming more and more wealthy and successful ? The naked reality of economic-class distinction measured and relished, on the basic of the 'class' or 'luxury' standards of the life-style products and services one can afford to purchase.
We have seen an affirmative answer to this question at question no.3 above.
One's wealth or affluence is not measured by his bank-balance or cash in the purse.It is always measured and graded according to the 'class' or luxury of the life-style products and services one is able to purchase and own. The basic inequality is also predominantly gets expressed in the above way.
It is simple; social equality is dangerously hampered when some class of men can afford to buy a high-end mansion, or own and drive a high-end car, ( that costs sometimes 100 times more than the lowest category /model available in the market) and they are accepted in exclusive social-pockets meant for them. Then come a secondary, third, fourth and fifth categories of such products and services exclusively meant to be bought by some other class of men, with price and luxury ranges, un-affordable by vast majority of the population. These classes are able to express their high-end status in society by possessing a fit -range of luxury houses, cars, hotel stay, air-travel, medical facilities, foot-wear, clothing, food and beverages and every house -hold items of class and luxury !
This class range of products ( brands) and services has a clear hierarchy of price and status in the contemporary world, and their possession or affordability is what determines one's economic class, and of-course his social status, value and acceptance in society ! As once mentioned in a paragraph above,there are special industries catering to the need of each economic class, bringing-up fitting brands and imaginary social-status to pamper the respective self-image of the target end-user ! Using their brand or service helps the customer to express his 'class' ( or unequal status ) in the society in a distinct manner.
If our age genuinely wish to usher in social-equality, they could do so by restricting by law, the production of consumer items including dwelling units beyond a certain cost-range. Thus,dwelling units, cars, house-hold consumer items, clothing, foot-wear and thousands of such products and SERVICES ( like hotel-stay, air and land travel, health-care services, banking, insurance etc.etc) should be manufactured and offered at qualities and prices that could be afforded even by the last layer of economic-class in the country ! It is quite possible as a real model, as well as a lasting social value; see the example of the Metro-Rail services ( the tube rail service) in various countries - - -such services are open and affordable to every citizen without class distinction. The service is of standard quality, ( with all coaches air-conditioned) that no economic class could allege it as below-par. ( see our dedicated blog on the theme, at link: http://whatequalityshouldmeanindemocracy.blogspot.in/, and sub-links referred in the said main blog)
Every such product and service in the world should be of same standard, ( while upholding and respecting the creative idea in-puts of deserving minds !) leaving no avenue for the rich to show of his separate class distinction. This step could be aided by restricting salary difference also to a certain level; the difference between highest drawn and the lowest drawn salary must be restricted by law.
Such steps would never hamper the valued human spirit and creativity; rather its net quantum would increase, by the addition of it from many thousands of men whose such qualities had no avenue for expression in the past.
6) Is it not paradoxical for the modern world that, at one hand it strives for equality as a socio-political value, and at the same time it encourage men and women to compete, and attain unequal heights in society ?
No one with open disposition could refute this allegation ; while the entire world cry-out about inequality, the direction of the existing socio-political and economic order directly pushes, and encourage every kind of inequalities in society. Except a rigorous series of taxation methods, there exists no known means to curtail the evil of inequality.
The above mentioned method of ending the existing inequality regime would simply make sense on the following grounds:
a) When the unique avenues of expressing one's wealth no more exist, the proverbial greed to accumulate wealth should naturally get reduced. Greed is a result of the basic fear about future deprivations. When basic human dignity and freedom is protected and guaranteed,the mad urge to safe-guard it against future uncertainties would logically come to an end.
b) Consider that the total wealth of a nation is a corpus fund. When maximum of this fund is spent on constructing gigantic structures for the chosen elites, ( say, 1% ) or allowed to be kept by them in their private coffers, naturally, only the rest of the fund is available for meeting the life-needs of the remaining 99% common citizens ! When the community owned state resources are no more spent on select few elites and their lives, such hugely saved funds can now be used for building-up equal standard life-amenities for the entire population, as in the example of tube-rail service given above.
What the future of the world requires is a new model of progress, neither right,not left. A straight path in the middle is quite feasible, with an altered outlook on life, and towards fellow-beings, as shown in the blog link given above ( http://newphilosophyoflife.blogspot.in/)



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What are the root elements of equality that could be adopted as a socio-political ideal ?

An open reply to Thomas Piketty on inequality 

Dear Prof. Piketty, 

We had reviews in Indian Newspapers about your book Capital recently. That lead me to wiki search about you, and I was lucky to get your e. mail id from your personal web pages. 

This is an attempt to convey to you, that basic concept of 'equality' may not be based on economic terms alone,but more on various other social factors

Ayn Rand, though she had pointed it out to stress a different argument of her, what she brought out exposed a central shift in the base of equality, ie.from political to economic, in the mid 20th century. She writes in her book 'Capitalism- an unknown ideal' :( page 324)  

 " The 'gimmick' was the switch of the concept of rights from political to the economic realm" She describes the then Democratic administration's reaffirming the 'economic bill of rights',  which 'Roosevelt had written into the conscience of the nation 16 years ago', like the rights for jobs, right to earn enough for food and clothing, right for decent home, education, health etc.etc. 

The vital shift from the 'self-evident' inalienable rights of man endowed by God or Nature has ended up in modern world as certain symbols of such rights, such as what has been listed above in the economic bill of rights !( food,clothing,home etc) The concept of equality  also has followed the suit, by an equality purely in economic terms. You have very rightly offered the conclusion that such an 'income based equality' is an impossible proposition under modern capitalism ! 

While the earlier concept of purely 'political' rights was more around equal relevance, or equal dignity in society, it has been sadly replaced by an impossible ideal of equality of income! When the equality of 'opportunity' also has been firmly pre-engraved in the new bill of 'economic rights', reasons for any complaint also has been taken away from the scene. The ones who are rich and powerful are there because they made better use of their opportunities ! It was a very tricky clause,enough to silence the critics of modern inequality.  

You were once again right in concluding that ' unless capitalism is not reformed, the very democratic order will be threatened' ! But as the values of capitalism have dangerously  influxed into the institution of democracy, the threat you have envisaged has already taken roots. I politely invite you to my blog that narrates this already existing danger, at link: http://influxofcapitalisticvalues.blogspot.in/

As democratic order and capitalism have almost become one and the same entity in the modern world for all practical meaning and purpose, for achieving the modern concept of country 'development', the former original concept of 'political equality' has lost its chance of any revival. If any rethinking is to emerge, it will be possible only through the realization of this fundamental by the acclaimed economic thinkers like you ! The way your book has attained mainstream attention, about the lost-for-ever meaning of original political equality also will gain public attention and relevance only by further research and writings of entities like you !

What are the predominant features of the above referred, non-economic(political) concept of 
equality ? 

It is an empirical fact that there can not be any drastic difference in the degree of contentment of different income groups based on what they eat, what they wear, or the kind of roof they sleep under. These are predominantly matters of custom and habit than that of any drastic class distinction. As Rousseau had stated in his writings on inequality;

' the mirth of the rich is in his awareness that he is free from the wretchedness of the poor'. Take away such wretchedness of the bottom class from the society, there will end the mirth of the rich too; thus believed Rousseau.  

What derives from the above is that the real inequality in modern societies is NOT that of income difference, but that arise from the degree of social and political relevance, and the individual dignity and social status enjoyed by different strata of citizens in society. Modern societies have set certain unwritten standards for gaining one's social relevance and status. It is unfortunately based on one's income and wealth. What richness or wealth bestow to a person first and foremost is an increased degree of freedom and relevance in society. In other words, wealth and political power are two sure and certain means to gain individual Freedom and social dignity in society ! When citizens compete each other for more and more wealth, or instead more and more political power, what they seek at the bottom is simple human freedom, and individual dignity and relevance in society.  Yet in other words, the root cause of increasing inequality in modern society is due to the failure of modern political system, especially that of modern democracy to ensure basic individual freedom and dignity to each citizen ! Every one seeks out wealth, or political power so that it ensures him his fundamental freedom and dignity of self ! It at least safe-guard citizens from the possible assault and abuse from the hands of the ones in power !

In the 'economic caste-system' of today,everyone desires to go up in the ladder, and enjoy higher social status.The government apparatus and its agencies accord different degree of entitlement and relevance to citizens from different income groups. Every citizen is not equal before the modern country governance system, except, perhaps, before law or judicial system of comparatively open democracies ! 

This malady has originated chiefly because, as mentioned once above, despite having democracy everywhere, it ( such democratic order) has terribly  failed to establish universal sense of rights and dignity of citizens. In its contemporary avatar, it does mean only politico-economic order with close-cronyism of poly and the industry. Hence, everyone is compelled to struggle for gaining his space and place in society on his own, under fierce competitive conditions ! For every practical meaning, mankind is back to their old jungle days, but with a great unfortunate, self-deceptive veil of openness and transparency !

Modern world have succeeded in creating synthetic marketplaces of class and status of its own,based on the consumer items citizens buy and use, the location of the city they stay, class of school their children attend, the clubs they attend, and the social contacts and company they keep. It also has created certain sophisticated vocabulary to be used in their social gathering. These synthetic echelons come for a certain price in hard-cash. Those who could afford the high cost of these special realms in society are only accepted here. Every institution in modern society, including the political institution, recognize and revere these special class system, and one's social respect, dignity, and relevance is measured, based on his eligibility into these highly classified economic realms !

In short, the issue of modern inequality is NOT that of equal distribution of income. It is more to do with the present-day obsession of people for belonging to certain special synthetic higher classes in society. The institutions of Industry and politics encourage the trend because, it naturally and conveniently serve their trade purpose !

This division is similar to the inequality in the ancient societies of warlords and warriors. Their kind of society had a different yardstick to measure one's social acceptance, predominantly based on one's physical , or combat related capabilities. Today, the yardstick is different. It is based on one's native ability to amass more wealth. Tomorrow, these yardsticks might be different. So, today;s social inequality is simply a matter of present world's special standards of measuring social status,dignity and relevance of citizens. It does not have much to do with equal income distribution in society. For those who desire to have belongingness to certain class in modern societies, it is possible only by acquiring its one and only recognized means; ie.hard cash in hand    

So in modern capitalism ruled world, when wealth is increasingly getting accumulated in fewer and fewer hands, ( ref. latest Oxfam and Zurich university studies) the real impact is in the fast turning of thousands of men and women every day into non-entities in nations, by lack of equal individual dignity and social relevance.
( see our blog: http://closedmodernworlddespitedemocracy.blogspot.in/) The distribution of wealth and resources can be compared to a piped municipal water supply system; water flows first into the huge storage tanks of the rich and powerful first. By the time it reaches areas where the poor and marginalized reside, there remains only very less quantity of water in the mother supply pipe ! It is an irreversible system. As far as modern democracy and capitalistic order remain the way they are, in close cronyism, world will also remain in the same wretched way  for ever.  

First and foremost need of the day is to reform our existing concepts of democracy that, instead of standing against such universal ethos and principles, it's close tie-up with capitalistic order passively encourages it ! If this task is first attended, reforming capitalism will naturally follow, by the proposed steps at blog: http://whatequalityshouldmeanindemocracy.blogspot.in/

About the menace of inflation too, we have a philosophic blog at: http://understandinginflationinanewlight.blogspot.in/

About what a true democracy must represent to its people is described at blog links: http://direneedofreinventingdemocracy.blogspot.in/

Apologize writing to you at very length, but I am sure your broad,open mind would recognize its utter social need, and respond to us meaningfully ! 

Distributing dignity of individual and strict social relevance EQUALLY in society will not cost anything for nations. If wealth and power do not automatically enhance a citizen's social relevance and dignity much, its attraction also will die out soon. It was to achieve this central cause that democracy had emerged in the world. But, it has turned out to be only another old kind of POWER-REGIME wherein those who have more wealth and political power only will gain social recognition and dignity ! Therefore, everyone is in a mad race for ensuring his/her share of relevance and dignity in the world, by amassing either more wealth, or a share in political power !  

sincerely,

Abraham J.Palakudy 
An independent researcher.seeker and writer in subjects like philosophy,Mind and Reason,Spirituality, and Polity
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Delhi Metro is a fitting example of true socialistic EQUALITY !


Delhi Metro: A fitting example of socialistic EQUALITY,
worth imitating in every sphere of country governance!


Providing true socialistic equality to everyone, and every class of people in governance  indeed is a confusing task for every political visionary. Hence, it has ended up in offering EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to every one; a status quo that had prevailed in all the primeval societies in the jungle days ! 

Those who could compete with his next best contender, with whatever advantage one has, whether it is physical power or the assistance of institutionalized political power in modern societies, or money power, he could come out as the FIRST AMONG THE EQUALS. The sanctity of the original principle of EQUALITY was justified this way. But the end result of such concepts of EQUALITY is in front of us; it merely ensured the survival of the fittest and the strongest in society, the old jungle time paradigm. This was the one condition that every civil society in history wanted to eradicate from the mainstream life by the introducing civil society rule. The entire civilizational effort of mankind so far also was to liberate human society from this calamity( rule of the strong) that primeval societies suffered from.

The task of establishing at least a namesake system of true EQUALITY in actual life has not been met with any success so far, except in the above remedy of  offering EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY !

But DELHI METRO RAIL ( The newly introduced Tube) have shown a true example of socialistic equality in principle as well as in practice, by running an 'ALL CITIZENS ARE EQUAL'  travel management system : the haves and the have nots share an equal space  that is adequate for up-keeping the sense of dignity of all economic classes. While the have nots now enjoy the respect of  travelling in all AC rail coaches, something he had never received from the establishment so far, the haves also do not find any reason to complain, as the scheme and facilities are simply world class !

The otherwise notorious Delhi residents for their indiscipline and lack of respect for law have now shown to the world that, how citizens could suddenly turn a well mannered lot when due respect is given to their individual dignity. The fully air-conditioned, clean ambience of the Metro( Tube) interiors, and the equally world class arrangements and system at the Metro stations  indeed transformed the very outlook of Delhi residents towards their lives ! It evidently shows that such gestures of EQUALITY and governmental respect for the dignity of the life of citizens could bring-in instant changes in the life and outlook of the men in every part of the country.
  
Thus, Delhi Metro can said to be the BEST EXAMPLE of TRUE SOCIALISTIC EQUALITY  that every  socialistic country could emulate in every aspect of country governance.

Where else could government bring forth similar changes in order to spread the message of Socialistic EQUALITY ?

Five star Hotels, and the inherent inequality in its culture:  Why shouldn’t our socialistic republic think of having Delhi Metro type, decent, elegant, similarly priced, EQUAL  Hotel rooms culture in the country ?

The way Delhi Metro management have resisted the idea of having upper classes and lower classes in the trains, Hotel industry could also emulate a similar revolution in the industry, if the government is willing to buy the idea on a larger scale.

As Rousseau distinctly and clearly wrote, the only contentment that the rich enjoy over that of his fellow poor men is the feeling that he is better of than them ! Take away the wretchedness of the poor, and this contentment of the rich would end, he wrote. 

So, why should a socialist democratic republic like India encourage the five star 
culture ? Why not our great country initiate a Delhi Metro type Hotel culture in the country, banning Hotel construction and accommodation beyond a certain price ceiling? Such a step, basically a ceiling on the creation of luxury in every field beyond a certain limit, would naturally set-equality mission on the go. 

There should be a ban on every product and service that is beyond the reach of ordinary citizens ! 

Similarly, the economy class and business class difference in our air travel industry could easily be brought to a Delhi Metro like equality model.

Then come the car manufacturing industry: it is one of the glaring area of inequality that every rich man wanted to grab, show-off and enjoy its special status. A true democratic, socialistic-will of the planners could easily bring in luxury-restrictions in this field, and bring forth Delhi Metro like revolutionary lessons of EQUALITY.

In the housing sector too, government could bring in rules prohibiting construction of houses beyond a certain cost-ceiling. 

Thousands of similar products ( such as footwear, apparels, household utility items,medical facilities etc) and services could be brought under similar luxury level ceiling, so that no one would have opportunity to show-off one's upper class-economic status in society. The best products and services in the world should be made in the affordable cost-level of every citizen in the world. No product or service should be permitted if meant, cost-wise, only to a certain high-economic class !

Such a concept of equality might appear blasphemous for modern capitalistic ears, but a future equal world could be formed only on the above lines. 

Every government in the world would be able to save this way, infinite quantum of national wealth that was previously spent on creating special products and services for the ultra rich. Such saved wealth could be used for creating Delhi Metro Model products and services, affordable by every citizen. 
  
  

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