In a capitalist society there are always inequalities of class and wealth. People who inherit money and property will always see themselves as being superior to those who have to work for it.
The capitalist and consumerist ethics are two sides of the same coin, a merger of two commandments. The supreme commandment of the rich is ‘Invest!’ The supreme commandment of the rest of us is ‘Buy!’ The capitalist–consumerist ethic is revolutionary in another respect. Most previous ethical systems presented people with a pretty tough deal. They were promised paradise, but only if they cultivated compassion and tolerance, overcame craving and anger, and restrained their selfish interests. This was too tough for most. The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum. In contrast, most people today successfully live up to the capitalist–consumerist ideal. The new ethic promises paradise on condition that the rich remain greedy and spend their time making more money and that the masses give free reign to their cravings and passions and buy more and more. This is the first religion in history whose followers actually do what they are asked to do. How though do we know that we'll really get paradise in return? We've seen it on television.
In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else's mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one's own place and economy.In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers...Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else's legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed?The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth - that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community - and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.
There’s all this pressure in our society to be beautiful, to be strong, to be sexy. So we spend our time and money on trying to become these things. We put on the high heels, the suits, the makeup, the mask. Then, we feel more awkward than confident, so we drink away our anxieties. That doesn’t make us look any sexier – it just makes us stop caring about how we look.Everyone is beautiful. Everyone is sexy. Everyone is strong. It’s lunacy. We’re all running around trying to become something that we already are.You know what’s really sexy? A person who’s 100% comfortable with themselves. And you know what’s really funny? It is just as time consuming and difficult to learn to accept yourself as it is to pretend to be someone else. The only difference is – with self acceptance, one day, it’s not hard anymore. One day, you feel like your sexiest, strongest self just rolling out of bed in the morning.You’re either going to spend the little time you have in your life on trying to know yourself or trying to hide yourself. The choice is yours. You can’t do both.And you know what’s really amazing about choosing self-love? You’ll be setting an example for all the people around you and all the kids of the coming generation. You’ll be part of a revolution to take back the precious moments of our lives out of the hands of shame-inducing advertisers and back into the hands and hearts of real people like you, like me, like all of us.I know you’ve dreamt about changing the world. So this is your chance. Learn to love yourself, accept yourself, and unleash your strongest, sexiest self. It’s in there. You just have to believe it.
The two guys who ran the place, always in Williamsburg hipster uniforms of short-sleeved shirts and neatly trimmed beards that looked stuck on with spirit gum, paid, as ever, no attention to anything but the food and the money. Tallow imagined that every night they counted their money and prided themselves on having not made eye contact with anything human.
Girls say to me, very reasonably, 'why isn't it a bunch of girls? Why did you write this about a bunch of boys?' Well, my reply is I was once a little boy - I have been a brother, a father, I am going to be a grandfather. I have never been a sister, or a mother, or a grandmother. That's one answer. Another answer is of course to say that if you - as it were - scaled down human beings, scaled down society, if you land with a group of little boys, they are more ike a scaled-down version of society than a group of little girls would be. Don't ask me why, and this is a terrible thing to say because I'm going to be chased from hell to breakfast by all the women who talk about equality - this is nothing to do with equality at all. I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been. But one thing you can't do with them is take a bunch of them and boil them down, so to speak, into a set of little girls who would then become a kind of image of civilisation, of society. The other thing is - why aren't they little boys AND little girls? Well, if they'd been little boys and little girls, we being who we are, sex would have raised its lovely head, and I didn't want this to be about sex. Sex is too trivial a thing to get in with a story like this, which was about the problem of evil and the problem of how people are to live together in a society, not just as lovers or man and wife.
Fifteen years ago, a business manager from the United States came to Plum Village to visit me. His conscience was troubled because he was the head of a firm that designed atomic bombs. I listened as he expressed his concerns. I knew if I advised him to quit his job, another person would only replace him. If he were to quit, he might help himself, but he would not help his company, society, or country. I urged him to remain the director of his firm, to bring mindfulness into his daily work, and to use his position to communicate his concerns and doubts about the production of atomic bombs.In the Sutra on Happiness, the Buddha says it is great fortune to have an occupation that allows us to be happy, to help others, and to generate compassion and understanding in this world. Those in the helping professions have occupations that give them this wonderful opportunity. Yet many social workers, physicians, and therapists work in a way that does not cultivate their compassion, instead doing their job only to earn money. If the bomb designer practises and does his work with mindfulness, his job can still nourish his compassion and in some way allow him to help others. He can still influence his government and fellow citizens by bringing greater awareness to the situation. He can give the whole nation an opportunity to question the necessity of bomb production.Many people who are wealthy, powerful, and important in business, politics, and entertainment are not happy. They are seeking empty things - wealth, fame, power, sex - and in the process they are destroying themselves and those around them. In Plum Village, we have organised retreats for businesspeople. We see that they have many problems and suffer just as others do, sometimes even more. We see that their wealth allows them to live in comfortable conditions, yet they still suffer a great deal.Some businesspeople, even those who have persuaded themselves that their work is very important, feel empty in their occupation. They provide employment to many people in their factories, newspapers, insurance firms, and supermarket chains, yet their financial success is an empty happiness because it is not motivated by understanding or compassion. Caught up in their small world of profit and loss, they are unaware of the suffering and poverty in the world. When we are not int ouch with this larger reality, we will lack the compassion we need to nourish and guide us to happiness.Once you begin to realise your interconnectedness with others, your interbeing, you begin to see how your actions affect you and all other life. You begin to question your way of living, to look with new eyes at the quality of your relationships and the way you work. You begin to see, 'I have to earn a living, yes, but I want to earn a living mindfully. I want to try to select a vocation not harmful to others and to the natural world, one that does not misuse resources.'Entire companies can also adopt this way of thinking. Companies have the right to pursue economic growth, but not at the expense of other life. They should respect the life and integrity of people, animals, plants and minerals. Do not invest your time or money in companies that deprive others of their lives, that operate in a way that exploits people or animals, and destroys nature.Businesspeople who visit Plum Village often find that getting in touch with the suffering of others and cultivating understanding brings them happiness. They practise like Anathapindika, a successful businessman who lived at the time of the Buddha, who with the practise of mindfulness throughout his life did everything he could to help the poor and sick people in his homeland.
With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright,’ did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected and tortured after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves again. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? Me?
The great hatred of capitalism in the hearts of the oppressed, ancient and modern, I think, stems not merely from the ensuing vast inequality in wealth, and the often unfair and arbitrary nature of who profits and who suffers, but from the silent acknowledgement that under a free market economy the many victims of the greed of the few are still better off than those under the utopian socialism of the well-intended. It is a hard thing for the poor to acknowledge benefits from their rich moral inferiors who never so intended it. (p.272)
Our democratic societies rest on a meritocratic worldview, or at any rate a meritocratic hope, by which I mean a belief in a society in which inequality is based more on merit and effort than on kinship and rents. This belief and this hope play a very crucial role in modern society, for a simple reason: in a democracy, the professed equality of rights of all citizens contrasts sharply with the very real inequality of living conditions, and in order to overcome this contradiction it is vital to make sure that social inequalities derive from rational and universal principles rather than arbitrary contingencies. Inequalities must therefore be just and useful to all, at least in the realm of discourse and as far as possible in reality as well.
No society has succeeded in abolishing the distinction between ruler and ruled... to be a ruler gives one special status and, usually, special privileges. During the Communist era, important officials in the Soviet Union had access to special shops selling delicacies unavailable to ordinary citizens; before China allowed capitalist enterprises in its economy, travelling by car was a luxury limited to tourists and those high in the party hierarchy Throughout the 'communist' nations, the abolition of the old ruling class was followed by the rise of a new class of party bosses and well-placed bureaucrats, whose behaviour and life-style came more and more to resemble that of their much-denounced predecessors. In the end, nobody believed in the system any more. That, couple with its inability to match the productivity of the less bureaucratically controlled, more egoistically driven capitalist economies, led to its downfall.
How people themselves perceive what they are doing is not a question that interests me. I mean, there are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, 'That person I see is a savage monster'; instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do. If you ask the CEO of some major corporation what he does he will say, in all honesty, that he is slaving 20 hours a day to provide his customers with the best goods or services he can and creating the best possible working conditions for his employees. But then you take a look at what the corporation does, the effect of its legal structure, the vast inequalities in pay and conditions, and you see the reality is something far different.
In his book Politics, which is the foundation of the study of political systems, and very interesting, Aristotle talked mainly about Athens. But he studied various political systems - oligarchy, monarchy - and didn't like any of the particularly. He said democracy is probably the best system, but it has problems, and he was concerned with the problems. One problem that he was concerned with is quite striking because it runs right up to the present. He pointed out that in a democracy, if the people - people didn't mean people, it meant freemen, not slaves, not women - had the right to vote, the poor would be the majority, and they would use their voting power to take away property from the rich, which wouldn't be fair, so we have to prevent this.James Madison made the same pint, but his model was England. He said if freemen had democracy, then the poor farmers would insist on taking property from the rich. They would carry out what we these days call land reform. and that's unacceptable. Aristotle and Madison faced the same problem but made the opposite decisions. Aristotle concluded that we should reduce ineqality so the poor wouldn't take property from the rich. And he actually propsed a visin for a city that would put in pace what we today call welfare-state programs, common meals, other support systems. That would reduce inequality, and with it the problem of the poor taking property from the rich. Madison's decision was the opposite. We should reduce democracy so the poor won't be able to get together to do this.If you look at the design of the U.S. constitutional system, it followed Madison's approach. The Madisonian system placed power in the hands of the Senate. The executive in those days was more or less an administrator, not like today. The Senate consisted of "the wealth of the nation," those who had sympathy for property owners and their rights. That's where power should be. The Senate, remember, wasn't elected. It was picked by legislatures, who were themselves very much subject to control by the rich and the powerful. The House, which was closer to the population, had much less power. And there were all sorts of devices to keep people from participation too much - voting restrictions and property restrictions. The idea was to prevent the threat of democracy. This goal continues right to the present. It has taken different forms, but the aim remains the same.
America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, 'It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.' It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: 'if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?' There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
In the age of global market capitalism, hopes and grievances were narrowly conceived, which blunted a sense of common predicament. Poor people didn’t unite; they competed ferociously amongst themselves for gains as slender as they were provisional. And this undercity strife created only the faintest ripple in the fabric of the society at large.The gates of the rich occasionally rattled, remained class. The poor took down one another, and the world’s great, unequal cities soldiered on in relative peace.
Equality, as understood by the American Founders, is the natural right of every individual to live freely under self-government, to acquire and retain the property he creates through his own labor, and to be treated impartially before a just law. Moreover, equality should not be confused with perfection, for man is also imperfect, making his application of equality, even in the most just society, imperfect. Otherwise, inequality is the natural state of man in the sense that each individual is born unique in all his human characteristics. Therefore, equality and inequality, properly comprehended, are both engines of liberty.
Say what you will of religion, but draw applicable conclusions and comparisons to reach a consensus.Religion = Reli = Prefix to Relic, or an ancient item. In days of old, items were novel, and they inspired devotion to the divine, and in the divine. Now, items are hypnotizing the masses into submission.Take Christ for example. When he broke bread in the Bible, people actually ate, it was useful to their bodies.Compare that to the politics, governments and corrupt, bumbling bureacrats and lobbyists in the economic recession of today. When they "broke bread", the economy nearly collapsed, and the benefactors thereof were only a select, decadent few. There was no bread to be had, so they asked the people for more!Breaking bread went from meaning sharing food and knowledge and wealth of mind and character, to meaning break the system, being libelous, being unaccountable, and robbing the earth.So they married people's paychecks to the land for high ransoms, rents and mortgages, effectively making any renter or landowner either a slave or a slave master once more. We have higher class toys to play with, and believe we are free. The difference is, the love of profit has the potential, and has nearly already enslaved all, it isn't restriced by culture anymore.Truth is not religion. Governments are religions. Truth does not encourage you to worship things. Governments are for profit. Truth is for progress. Governments are about process.When profit goes before progress, the latter suffers.The truest measurement of the quality of progress, will be its immediate and effective results without the aid of material profit.Quality is meticulous, it leaves no stone unturned, it is thorough and detail oriented. It takes its time, but the results are always worth the investment.Profit is quick, it is ruthless, it is unforgiving, it seeks to be first, but confuses being first with being the best, it is long scale suicidal, it is illusory, it is temporary, it is vastly unfulfilling. It breaks families, and it turns friends. It is single track minded, and small minded as well.Quality, would never do that, my friends.Ironic how dealing and concerning with money, some of those who make the most money, and break other's monies are the most unaccountable. People open bank accounts, over spend, and then expect to be held "unaccountable" for their actions. They even act innocent and unaccountable. But I tell you, everything can and will be counted, and accounted for.Peace can be had, but people must first annhilate the love of items, over their own kind.
Sorry is the day, and full of lament, when the young have to guard themselves from being food for the old.I am moved to bewilderment, when I glance my eyes upon a society that kills its young, and then pretends to mourn their modus operandi.Worse still, are those who have no compassion for the legacy and lack of positive inheritance being left to us, the future.We have to save our parents and their friends. They raised us,but do not trust us. They are too tired to enact change. The source of progress, and the wealth of the future is, us.
People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as ‘parasites’ fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.
The introduction of free competition is thus public declaration that from now on the members of society are unequal only to the extent that their capitals are unequal, that capital is the decisive power, and that therefore the capitalists, the bourgeoisie, have become the first class in society.
Economists have a singular method of procedure. There are only two kinds of institutions for them, artificial and natural. The institutions of feudalism are artificial institutions, those of the bourgeoisie are natural institutions. In this, they resemble the theologians, who likewise establish two kinds of religion. Every religion which is not theirs is an invention of men, while their own is an emanation from God. When the economists say the present-day relations--the relations of bourgeois production--are natural, they imply that these are the relations in which wealth is created and productive forces developed in conformity with the laws of nature. These relations therefore are themselves natural laws independent of the influence of time. They are eternal laws which must always govern society. Thus, there has been history, but there is no longer any. There has been history, since there were institutions of feudalism, and in these institutions of feudalism we find quite different relations of production from those of bourgeois society, which the economists try to pass off as natural and, as such, eternal.
Princes always are always happy to see developing among their subjects the taste for agreeable arts and for superfluities which do not result in the export of money. For quite apart from the fact that with these they nourish that spiritual pettiness so appropriate for servitude, they know very well that all the needs which people give themselves are so many chains binding them. When Alexander wished to keep the Ichthyophagi dependent on him, he forced them to abandon fishing and to nourish themselves on foods common to other people. And no one has been able to subjugate the savages in America, who go around quite naked and live only from what their hunting provides. In fact, what yoke could be imposed on men who have no need of anything?
Ultimately, the definition of both the wonder tale and the fairy tale, which derives from it, depends on the manner in which a narrator/author arranges known functions of a tale aesthetically and ideologically to induce wonder and then transmits the tale as a whole according to customary usage of a society in a given historical period. The first stage for the literary fairy tale involved a kind of class and perhaps even gender appropriation. The voices of the nonliterate tellers were submerged, and since women in most cases were not allowed to be scribes, the tales were scripted according to male dictates or fantasies, even though they may have been told by women. Put crudely, it could be said that the literary appropriation of the oral wonder tales served the hegemonic interests of males within the upper classes of particular communities and societies, and to a great extent this is true. However, such a statement must be qualified, for the writing down of the tales also preserved a great deal of the value system of those deprived of power. And the more the literary fairy tale was cultivated and developed, the more it became individualized and varied by intellectuals and artists, who often sympathized with those society marginalized or were marginalized themselves. The literary fairy tale allowed for new possibilities of subversion in the written word and in print, and therefore it was always looked upon with misgivings by the governing authorities in the civilization process.
We're not very different from one another, not different at all, in fact. We're all just people with the same needs, the same desires, the same feelings. It's a lie about us being different. It's something they cooked up so we'd be fighting one another instead of them, the ones who keep us down and make their fortunes off our labor, the same ones who send us off to war when they get to fighting among themselves over the spoils. You'll find that out someday. They'll be calling on you to go to war for them, you can be sure of that, because there's going to be lots more wars in the future. I got in one myself, as you know. I saw men getting killed and wounded and crippled, and I must have killed a lot of men myself, and I'm just sick every time I think of it. Why? Because we were fighting one another instead of those who'd sent us out there. Oh, they're clever, those capitalists. It's hard to beat them at their game. They've fooled us with words like patriotism and duty and honor, and they've got us divided up into classes and religions so that each one of us figures he's better than the other. But it'll all change, 'arry. Believe me, it will. People get smarter. The human brain has a potential for development. Someday it will grow big enough so that everybody will see and understand the truth, and then we won't act like a bunch of sheep, and then that wall that separates the two sides of our street will crumble.
Were these boys in their right minds? Here were two boys with good intellect, one eighteen and one nineteen. They had all the prospects that life could hold out for any of the young; one a graduate of Chicago and another of Ann Arbor; one who had passed his examination for the Harvard Law School and was about to take a trip in Europe,--another who had passed at Ann Arbor, the youngest in his class, with three thousand dollars in the bank. Boys who never knew what it was to want a dollar; boys who could reach any position that was to boys of that kind to reach; boys of distinguished and honorable families, families of wealth and position, with all the world before them. And they gave it all up for nothing, for nothing! They took a little companion of one of them, on a crowded street, and killed him, for nothing, and sacrificed everything that could be of value in human life upon the crazy scheme of a couple of immature lads.Now, your Honor, you have been a boy; I have been a boy. And we have known other boys. The best way to understand somebody else is to put yourself in his place.Is it within the realm of your imagination that a boy who was right, with all the prospects of life before him, who could choose what he wanted, without the slightest reason in the world would lure a young companion to his death, and take his place in the shadow of the gallows?...No one who has the process of reasoning could doubt that a boy who would do that is not right.How insane they are I care not, whether medically or legally. They did not reason; they could not reason; they committed the most foolish, most unprovoked, most purposeless, most causeless act that any two boys ever committed, and they put themselves where the rope is dangling above their heads....Why did they kill little Bobby Franks?Not for money, not for spite; not for hate. They killed him as they might kill a spider or a fly, for the experience. They killed him because they were made that way. Because somewhere in the infinite processes that go to the making up of the boy or the man something slipped, and those unfortunate lads sit here hated, despised, outcasts, with the community shouting for their blood.. . . I know, Your Honor, that every atom of life in all this universe is bound up together. I know that a pebble cannot be thrown into the ocean without disturbing every drop of water in the sea. I know that every life is inextricably mixed and woven with every other life. I know that every influence, conscious and unconscious, acts and reacts on every living organism, and that no one can fix the blame. I know that all life is a series of infinite chances, which sometimes result one way and sometimes another. I have not the infinite wisdom that can fathom it, neither has any other human brain
It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realise that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.
The traditional, correct pre-Marxist view on exploitation was that of radical laissez-faire liberalism as espoused by, for instance, Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer. According to them, antagonistic interests do not exist between capitalists, as owners of factors of production, and laborers, but between, on the one hand, the producers in society, i.e., homesteaders, producers and contractors, including businessmen as well as workers, and on the other hand, those who acquire wealth non-productively and/or non-contractually, i.e., the state and state-privileged groups, such as feudal landlords.
...I should always find, the calamities of life were shared among the upper and lower part of mankind; but that middle station had the fewest disasters, and was not exposed to so many vicissitudes as the higher or lower part of mankind; nay, they were not subjected to so many distempers and uneasinesses either of body or mind, as those were who, by vicious living, luxury, and extravagances on one hand, or by hard labor, want of necessaries, and mean or insufficient diet on the other hand, bring distempers upon themselves by the natural consequences of their way of living; that the middle station of life was calculated for all kind of virtues and all kind of enjoyments; that peace and plenty were the handmaids of a middle fortune; that temperance, moderation, quietness, health, society, all agreeable diversions, and all desirable pleasures, were the blessings attending the middle station of life...
There will always exist inequalities which will appear unjust to those who suffer from them, disappointments which will appear unmerited, and strokes of misfortune which those hit have not deserved. But when these things occur in a society which is consciously directed, the way in which people will react will be very different from what it is when they are nobody's conscious choice.
To that point, he had always found the vicomtesse overflowing with friendly politeness, that sweet-flowing grace conferred by an aristocratic education, and which is never truly there unless it comes, automatically and unthinkingly, straight from the heart.[...]For anyone who had learned the social code, and Rastignac had absorbed it all in a flash, these words, that gesture, that look, that inflection in her voice, summed up all there was to know about the nature and the ways of men and women of her class. He was vividly aware of the iron hand underneath the velvet glove; the personality, and especially the self-centeredness, under the polished manners; the plain hard wood, under all the varnish. [...] Eugène had been entirely too quick to take this woman's word for her own kindness. Like all those who cannot help themselves, he had signed on the dotted line, accepting the delightful contract binding both benefactor and recipient, the very first clause of which makes clear that, as between noble souls, perfect equality must be forever maintained. Beneficience, which ties people together, is a heavenly passion, but a thoroughly misunderstood one, and quite as scarce as true love. Both stem from the lavish nature of great souls.