Sandwichman | January 12, 2021 9:00 am
- Why is it that no existing society, nor society that ever existed, has arrived at universal prosperity, considering that in all times, and in all societies, excepting only the very barbarous, a few years would naturally have led to it?
- How is it that notwithstanding the unbounded extent of capital, the progressive improvement and wonderful perfection of machinery, canals, transportation, and all other things that either facilitate labour or increase its produce; that the population instead of having its labours abridged, works more hours per capita than it did years ago?
- Why has society never arrived at the enviable situation of universal abundant leisure, although so immediately within its grasp?
Religion and power dynamics (same thing really).
Type A people are not just driven to succeed, they are driven to be doing something. To them more leisure time is not one of their goals. Through a variety of mechanisms they end up with more power instead. We let such people set goals for all of us.
purified Prosperity is an asymptote which will never be attained. although Prosperity is an asymptote, there is no harm in our attempt to approach more closely to the asymptote, no harm in trying. these are some of the distractions that slow us down, distractions that distance us from the asymptote :
In hoc signo vinces preemptive strikeRip them up tear them up give them hell DukeGo Big Red
plenty of harm in trying.
i cannot deny that religion has been used by the state to help maintain the power of the powerful.
but you know nothing about Christianity if you think it has endorsed the pursuit of power or money. I suppose you could claim that encouraging people to NOT pursue power or money helps those who have power not be bothered by complaints from the poor. Possibly, but I think it has more to do with helping people survive mentally situations they can’t do anything about.
Nor am I so sure that “primitive” religions were all about “power dynamics.” They look to me like ways to deal emotionally (which at times is the same as “practically”) with the facts of nature….in societies wih no “power structure” or “inequality” at all.
The “variety of methods” is that the powerful just take what they want. And make the rest of us slaves to produce more of what they want. I suppose the “variety” could mean by fraud as well as by force.
I am not opposed to this arrangement entirely. I suspect that most people if not subject to a degree of force or at least persuasion would find themselves without enough to eat come winter. that “force” can come from the psychologiclal pressure of their peers as well as from men with swords.
The trouble comes when the “powerful” get insane and demand more and more while denying those without power a reasonably decent existence.
Within the variety of methods of gaining more power is just becoming better at doing what is needed. It is not always negative. If you spend twice as much time in your studio as a self-employed artist, I suppose you deserve to have twice as much of whatever that pays for. The fact that people’s goals are different is part of the answer to why universality does not exist in society.
Sadly, the existence of people who enjoy grifting turns variation into a problem.
I think I addressed that where I said I am not opposed to this arrngement entirely.
Thing is artists (except a famous austrian painter) are not generally interested in power.
I would be the last to claim than an artists who spends twice as much time in his studio deserves more of anything. Even an engineer who gets it done in half the time deserves the leisure he created for himself, if he choses that instead of twice as much…power? If he choses instead to work on something else the rest of the day, and he has the rare honest boss that pays him twice as much for his productivity, he is still not getting power… he is getting paid for increasing his bosses power…at a level where wealth equals power. which is not the level that most engineers, scientists, farmers, or even artists work at.
And I think we miss the point of the original question if we don’t talk about the kind of power that keeps ordinary people from enjoying the increased productivity of society.
and Angry Bear just chastized me for writing comments too fast.
Take a very long historical look at humanity. Hunter gatherers worked less than 20 hours a week on average. The change to agriculture involved a huge increase in required labor and many hunter gatherers resisted the change. The benefits of increased food security, increased food density allowed agricultural populations to grow and have more children. They out competed the easier, more natural lifestyle.
Capital has driven the world for the last number of centuries. It demands growth on top of growth. I don’t see a way of changing this without changing capitalism itself. Once again, an idyllic approach to production without growth will be out competed unless the world changes i some way that I can’t foresee.
I was raised in a three a week church family, and I went to a religious university, where I got the same religious education everyone who goes there gets (bib lit, bib interp, christian thought, etc).
I know what being a Christian is, and I know what Christianity (RELIGION) is, and I know they aren’t the same thing.
possibly you share my ideas of the difference. but the words are used interchangeably by most of the people I hear from (read). Best I can do is try to remind people that there is a difference, and that at least the words that Jesus is said to have said don’t support the things that the people who call themselves christian while seeking power and money and hate-thy-neighbor advocate or did when they had power in the world.
I like to think my comment introduced a less ambiguous possible answer to Sanwichman’s question. One which doesn’t bash the oldest and most consistent voice against “power dynamics.”
it’s obvious. the way things are going .. we get back to being hunter-gathererers.
I am delighted with the turn this discussion has taken. These questions are all taken from Charles Wentworth Dilke’s The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties. My philology research for a forthcoming paper reveals for the first time Dilke’s specific sources in William Godwin’s writing. I also develop the hypothesis that Godwin, who was trained as a strict Calvinist minister, was aiming at a secularized reformulation of Calvin’s doctrine of the calling. That same doctrine degenerated in other “reformulations” into the Puritan work ethic, which I suppose today has further corroded into the “prosperity gospel.” In the 19th century it was “work hard to get rich.” Today, it’s get rich (or inherit it) and that proves you worked hard!
“In the 19th century it was “work hard to get rich.” Today, it’s get rich (or inherit it) and that proves you worked hard!”
You always post some interesting and thought provoking. Having read you commentary a number of times, I was looking for an answer completely different than what you were looking for in a response. Not a surprise to me. Interesting turn of a phrase. Now I will go back and read the questions and the responses.
I would have loved to have taken a class of yours since I had worked in manufacturing and supply chain.
the people who work the hardest, at the most important jobs
never get rich
or even the prevailing minimum wage.
i think you may misunderstand what “leisure time” means. It is not time on the sofa watching TV with a bowl of chips.
It is time you don’t have to spend working for a boss, so you can work at what you want to do or believe in.
I switched my example to an artist, because for a professional artist producing paintings is not leisure time. If that hypothetical type A artist (if such a person exists) produces twice as many paintings he or she can spend on something more personally valued than leisure.
Even without someone stealing your leisure, there will not be a universal definition of prosperity, so there will not be universal prosperity, If, over time, that artist advances in skills (a mechanism unrelated to grifting), some observers will see a divergence in prosperity.
None of the above comments really delve into whether part of the problem is that we simply value “stuff’ more than we value leisure.
Nor do the comments delve into the fact that we encourage people to believe that their personal prosperity is dependent only on themselves. People do not credit how tall are the shoulders upon which they stand.
Nor do the comments delve into the fact that most people are simply unable to understand the extend to which investing in others who have not been so lucky is good business. It is not just a moral/religious issue. In our capitalist society, the people from whom you buy also buy from you. People say “What goes around comes around” as if it only applies to bad things.
The fact that the world is full of jerks and grifters who grew up in a world full of jerks and grifters amplifies the variation and stretches out the tails of the distribution.
what you mean “we” white man?”
I am afraid I grew up among artists, and you appear to have no understanding of what “they” value.
No doubt their are “successful” artists who have a more realistic view of the value of money. But as Bernard Shaw pointed out, a real artist will let his mother support him by scrubbing office floors on her knees so he can pursue his art.
I probably agree with a lot of what you are saying. But I agree with me more.
I will admit to choosing an example of which I was ignorant. Perhaps if I change the artist to the guy who owns the truck that cleans store parking lots. Then perhaps we could both be ignorant about how poor an example it would be.
well, this is my take:
what you have been trying to describe is the energy and creative activity that produces wealth in the first place. and secondly, the perversion of that energy into what you call grift.
but the question was, why does that produced wealth never seem to produce the leisure that ordinary people desire. there i think you mistake “leisure” with indolence or lazy afternoons. i think “free time” is a better unerstanding of what leisure means… free time to produce perhaps more “wealth”… as the original producers had to have to produce their wealth… free from bosses as well as the pressure to survive either through business or just against the forces of nature.
i believe my way of framing the question produces a more useful answer to the original question. i believe your answer assumes to some extent the capitalist ideal that more things is (sic) good and other people’s “leisure” is a sin they must be saved from even if it takes whips and chains.
no need to feel bad about “ignorance.” the universal answer to artistic children has been, “well, that’s nice, but learn a trade or get a job. just in case…you know.”
I would back off from my framing a bit to concede that “more things” is as natural force of history arising out of a time of real scarcity when “leisure” was very much a threat to the community. once that has gone on for a few thousand years, the gradual accumulation of enough “wealth” to allow leisure (without fear of the next bad harvest or recession) will not be evenly enough distributed to let those who still have to work want to support those who don’t.
but only just a bit: at some point the force to deny leisure to ordinary people becomes a self conscious policy of the powerful (already rich) to force the poor to work to support the leisure of the rich. i say “force” instead of seduce, because while seduction is a big part of it in modern times, once that wheel is turning it is very difficult for even those not seduced to get off without being ground in the works.
I knew you were waiting for this
COBERLY COMPLETELY DEFEATED
while men would rather spend their days hunting and fishing or sitting in the shade with a bud thinking about whatever it is men think about
Darwin in his wisdom creatively designed women
and women are more practical. they know a diamond is a girl’s best friend. and men are too stupid to just say no. so they get a job to buy her things.
but the other god, not darwin, sees that it is not good for man to be alone, so he says the word and invents high powered rifles with laser scopes and luxury fishing boats with electronic fish finders and an enclosed cabin in case there is a change in the whether. and seventy thousand dollar pickup trucks. and all the things it takes to signal to better women that you are a better man.
which brings us back to exactly what they said at the begining of Econ 101. But you didn’t recognize it because you weren’t paying attention. Even when you wrote the answer on the final, it didn’t mean anything to you.
The last time I stepped foot in a church was a couple years ago when my grandfather died. We were in the function room at the back and I was sitting at a table with two ministers. One of them went on and on and on about how taxes were so unfair (if you’re familiar with the tax system, you know that in fact it’s well tilted in the direction of ministers, particularly those who have already earned enough social security credits from owning their own business to have full benefits), and everyone needed a 15% flat tax.
This guy should have known better as a businessman, and he should have had a clue about his own finances as an individual, and he should have kept his mouth shut as a minister. I was done with religion before that, but I was double done after.
I won’t get into the history of personal failures this particular individual had before becoming a “man of the cloth,” because that’s rather unfair.
yes, there have been a lot of not very admirable professional religious people. i think i try to leave the merely ordinarily not especially gifted alone…i have been ashamed of myself at times for finding fault with them that they could not help, and would have wanted very much to help if they could. there are others who are out and out charlatans if not yet really evil. i can’t even say much about them because people believe in them and they wouldn’t listen to me if i did, and it is entirely possible people can be helped by a pretended healer of souls as much as by the real thing. i don’t know. the variety of big name charlatans we have in America is especially repugnant… but again, no more repugnant than regular politicians… and again, even as crooks, they keep alive the idea of … what Jesus is said to have said…and that can lead the people to the real thing if that is what their hearts desire.
i did know a man once who told me his church had nothing to do with religion, it was about Jesus. i understood what he meant and respected it. especially after he invited me to his church and i sat in on a “class”. and commented on a passage with my own peculiar (as i thought) “take”. later that day i got a call from someone from the class who wanted to apologize to me because he thought i was wrong (he never argued against me), but that after i left, the pastor (if that is the right word) told him I was right.
i don’t quite know what to make of people who are so anxious to do the right thing they will call up a stranger and apologize to him for disagreeing with him in their thoughts. i still don’t go to church…because i am very uncomfortable with people, or even indoors. but i wish i could meet that communication on its own terms. i even wish i could meet your communication on its own terms. but that seems to be a talent that i lack.
i would say, still, that your objection to some religious people, now and in the remote past, is not an objection to “religion” as i understand it, or Christianity as i understand it…the things that Jesus is said to have said. and i wish, for you, that you could make that distinction…if that is not impertinent… and maybe even forgive the “man of the cloth” his trespasses.