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Old 02-14-2018, 04:45 PM   #35
DanaC
We have to go back, Kate!
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Yorkshire
Posts: 25,492
It is pretty exhilarating - there's something about it that reminds me of the 'pamphlet wars' of the 1790s.

I have to say he's made me reevaluate some of my own views/outlook. Not just him - I've been watching a lot of Stephen Pinker's stuff as well, but mainly Peterson.

I was never anti-market as such - I've always seen the value in markets for some kinds of things - trading is a pretty fundamental thing for human society and we couldn't very well continue with localised bartering systems with the human population as large ads it is - not without reverting to some pre-technological age

I also don't think I've ever been that into the idea of a revolution, frankly - except maybe for a brief spell when I was 18 and wanted to burn the world.

Marxism has always been more of an analytical tool for me - but with a bit of class loyalty thrown in. Dad was from a fairly wealthy, upper middle class background but mum was northern working class and hers is the family I was most connected to on a day to day basis. So I kind of arrived at socialism partly through being aware of unions and that kind of old school labour culture. Not marxist, just trade unionist.

Revolutionaries always seemed kind of heroic and exotic - except for the ones I met who were mainly ineffectual dicks.

What he has made me question is the emotional response I have to the hammer and sickle compared to the one I have to the swastika. The former always seems to me a noble but twisted dream, or broken promise. The latter encapsulates the evil man is capable of. Not because I am ignorant of the death toll under communism, particularly under Stalin, but because the original dream seemed a noble one: egalitarianism and an end to class oppression. And because an offshoot of that theoretical model articulates the nature of inequality and ways to ameliorate it.

But it is interesting to see the pathology behind marxism as a movement. Marx's philosophy was flawed because - ye know - he was a man of his time trying to understand a rapidly changed set of social and economic dynamics. The market as we understand it was pretty damn recent. The concept of paper money as we know it (as the thing of value itself and used as currency in the modern sense) was like 150 years old or thereabouts when he was born.

The shift to a primarily waged notion of work was a massive shift in how people saw themselves and their place in the social and economic system. Even thinking about it as an economic system at all was new.

And there was absolutely a sense of what we might now call class difference but what then may have been called breeding or quality that was a fundamental part of the existing social structure. It was voiced as such. If anybody started the 'class war' rhetoric it was the middle-class intelligentsia and their conviction that the lower orders were of a different classification of man which was given full voice during the run up to the age of revolution. The gradual compression of the middle class and the concentration of wealth upwards, the alienation of the labouring classes from some kind of comprehensible place in society into a waged workforce is an understandable direction to see things going. Things must have seemed so untethered.

But that period where notions of deep and immutable differences between social classes persisted into the explosion of markets and collapse of the pre-industrial setting only lasted maybe 200 years at most. A century either side of Marx's work. And at the other side of that the world looked very different to how he had pictured it looking as a result of all that.

But the idea of even approaching how we organise society in terms of oppressor and oppressed being a fundamentally dangerous notion is pretty compelling. It isn't that this is something I just now considered - but the current kaleidescope of oppressed-v-oppressor matrices has kind of stunned me - and I think Peterson's helped link those things up in a way I hadn't really done before.

When I think of political correctness, i think of the way racist jokes became something you just didn't say unless you were very sure of your audience, and the way it became socially unacceptable to call shops owned by Pakistanis, the 'paki shop'.

I think of political correctness as social and cultural pressure to try not to be a dick about race and gender, because more and more people thought that would be a good idea. And institutions trying not to be needlessly offensive about some of the people they served or catered to (replacing 'crippled' with 'disabled' in official publications and so forth). Led to a large extent by the media and a new generation of programme makers, stand up comedians, and (quite mainstream by today's standards) political activists

That's how political correctness seemed to start in the 80s/90s, from my recollection of it - and that doesn't seem like such a bad thing. A culture that values a responsibility not to needlessly cause offence or engage in casual cruelty towards those who are different seems a pretty good thing to me.

But a society that adopts a legal right not to be offended is a terrifying idea.
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Last edited by DanaC; 02-14-2018 at 05:12 PM.
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