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Miscellaneous > Why is equality seen as a luxury item?

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message 1: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1444 comments We are in what is called "Hard times" economic strife, political swing to the right, austerity measures. During these times civil liberties tend to suffer. Health care and global aid are reduced human rights legislation delayed.

My question is why. It may seem obvious but is it. Gender equality would provide more resources to address the problems yet it is the first investment cut in favor of "more important" matters.


message 2: by Gerd (new)

Gerd | 428 comments Because it wouldn't, provide more resources that is, from a political viewpoint.
Power imbalances are what secures people like Trumpo, Erdoğan, Putin and all those in power, for them, striving for equality and liberty would make no rational sense at all.


message 3: by Britt (new)

Britt | 123 comments I think Gerd is right. Equality would not benefit those who hold and want to secure their power today. We should not forget that people are inherently egocentric and selfish...

I do not know how we could solve this problem if those who have to power to change things don't step up and do so. It's quite depressing, really.

In that sense, I don't think much has changed since the early days of human life.


message 4: by Pam (last edited Oct 17, 2017 03:24PM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
I don't agree.

In the states we were in The Great Recession and we voted in the first black President. Who pushed forward with inclusive actions like community gardening, renewable energy for Native Americans, and countless urban housing and educational reforms to make it easier for people with socio economics disadvantages to succeed.

I can't speak for the UK, but here it's not a forgone conclusion that equality all goes away during economic down turns


message 5: by Ana Paula (last edited Oct 17, 2017 07:21PM) (new)

Ana Paula (anapaulacordeiro) | 46 comments Britt wrote: "I think Gerd is right. Equality would not benefit those who hold and want to secure their power today. We should not forget that people are inherently egocentric and selfish...

I do not know how ..."


It's a bit of a deviation from the theme, but I would like to offer some material against this mainstream view of people are inherently egocentric and selfish

In regard to Darwin's The Origin of the Species, someone told me that "cooperation" has a much higher word count than "survival of the fittest" - the reason for the later getting so much more press being, in short, patriarchal thinking. As Marilynne Robinson argues in an essay, "Darwinism is still offered routinely as a source of objective scientific insight on questions like the nature of human motivation and the possibility of altruism. As I have said, the views of contemporary adherents on these matters are darker than Darwin's own."

She goes on to present evidence about how the currently established notions of selfish genes and survival of the fittest are product of a particular emphasis, what I understand as the human mind deciding up front what results is looking for and triumphantly finding them at the cost of ignoring vast amounts of evidence. We see that a lot nowadays, from trump to brexit to climate change. But back to selfishness: Robinson argues that such darker values are championed by writers who have a bias against cooperation. As she says, "It is no more "selfish" for an organism to abide by its nature, whatever that is, than for an atom to appropriate an electron. Certainly finding selfishness in a gene is an act of mind which rather resembles finding wrath in thunder."

Disclaimer: I am a passionate fan of Marilynne Robinson. I highly recommend the book I am quoting from, titled The Death of Adam. I'd better stop myself from quoting it to no end here; suffice to say that her, a thoroughly Christian writer, defends Darwinism by exposing all things illogical from Nietzsche to Freud to Dennett.

To quote from another bright thinker I am much in love with, Rebecca Solnit (this an essay called Icebergs and Shadows: Further Adventures in the Landscape of Hope): "Who wouldn't agree that our society is capitalist, based on competition and selfishness? As it happens, however, huge areas of our lives are also based on gift economies, barter, mutual aid, and giving without hope of return (principles that have little or nothing to do with competition, selfishness, or scarcity economics). Think of the relations between friends and between family members. Think of the activities of volunteers or those who have chosen their vocation on principle rather than for profit.
Think of the acts of those--from daycare worker to nursing home aide--who do more, and do it more passionately, than they are paid to do. Think of the armies of the unpaid who are at work counterbalancing and cleaning up after the invisible hand [of capitalism] and making every effort to loosen its grip on our collective throat."

I am here thinking: think of Emma Watson, think of OSS moderators. Think of the vast amount of denouncing we have been seeing, and practicing. I know, it is scary to wake up every day to find out what has Trump just done. But I also see, along with the horrible news, wave after wave of bold reactions.

Another disclaimer: I am not a half-full cup kind of person, on the contrary. I am the kind of person who has had severe insomnia caused by nightmares. And speaking of nightmares, my life is under direct impact from the current times - immigrant, South American, woman, artist, you get the idea. I live in New York City, and my landlord just announced the building is for sale. Gentrification. For me, a move into the big unknown.

Still, one thing that I am clinging to, maybe because I have nothing to lose, is that we can choose in what to believe, and that will end up becoming what we live out. So am choosing to focus on Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel, Pope Francis. Emma Watson, J.K. Rowling, OSS, us, here, one day at a time.

"Hope is active engagement with uncertainty and the possibilities that it holds.”
Rebecca Solnit


message 6: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
My aplogies if my above comment came off too forceful.

With all that is going on these day it's easy to see a drop of rain and fear the storm. Seeing the work down on the Progress thread is helpful, but I find we also need to remind ourselves that nothing is ever final until after the dust settles and the history books are in the 5th edition.


message 7: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 194 comments I think the idea that equality is seen as a luxury has a lot to do with who's in power, as Gerd said but there's more to it. I agree with Pam, that the States continue to make progress toward equality, but at the same time, the steps are baby steps and often get back tracked. Yes, we voted in a black president, but take into account who he was running against. Why didn't we vote in a women president this last time around? You could say that's a step backward. But merely saying we didn't vote in a women president and therefore are backtracking is ignoring surrounding factors (as is saying we voted in a black president so we're making progress).

I think there's more possess than there is not, but, as I said, it's rather small and sometimes we don't see it. I also think the progress we make is often not highlighted in news or history books or the like as it is seen as rather insignificant by mass media. This will probably continue to happen until a large-scale battle is won, as was with the States making same-sex marriage legal nationwide, or, going further back in time, women getting the right to vote, ending segregation, ending slavery, etc. It's not that the progress isn't there, it just isn't big enough to draw the attention of the media or those in charge.


message 8: by Gerd (last edited Oct 18, 2017 02:02AM) (new)

Gerd | 428 comments Ana Paula wrote: "It's a bit of a deviation from the theme, but I would like to offer some material against this mainstream view of people are inherently egocentric and selfish

In regard to Darwin's The Origin of the Species, someone told me that "cooperation" has a much higher word count than "survival of the fittest" - the reason for the later getting so much more press being, in short, patriarchal thinking...."


"survival of the fittest"
I always felt that this is down to a skewed reading of the phrase, from what I got from reading Darwin he meant to say that "the best adapted" survives. I also think to recall an article from sometime ago that pointed out that one combinig factor of all intelligent species is in fact group co-operation.


message 9: by Ross (last edited Oct 19, 2017 02:37AM) (new)

Ross | 1444 comments @Gerd you are correct I pointed out that the central theme if Darwinism and evolution theory in general is cooperation, from cells upwards.

on the broader point when times are tough equality suffers, be it more tribalism (populism) to cuts in support for the underprivileged. These things are excepted because equal rights is not seen as essential. This has to change in my view and needs to be highlighted.


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