Capitalism, Class Structure, and Change

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

There is another side to this issue of moral obligations that I did not bring up in my previous entry. It’s the idea of impossibility. In essence, it’s fairly straight-forward that you cannot be obligated to do something that is impossible for you to do. For instance, I cannot be morally obligated to go back in time and save John F. Kennedy from being shot. If, at some point, we do create a time machine, those obligations could change, but as it stands right now, I cannot be required to do something that is impossible for me to do.

This has, strangely enough, gotten me into the domain of economic systems. It began when I asked the question, “Is poverty simply a fact of life?” It seems as though if it is impossible to change it, we cannot be morally obligated to change it. Now first off, you might say that you can definitely change the well-being of individuals, and that’s certainly true. But I’m trying to think big picture here, and ask if it is possible to end poverty altogether. And as depressing as it is, I don’t know that it is.

The system that much of the world uses today is capitalism. To summarize briefly, it’s a self-adjusting economic structure that relies on market forces and the law of supply and demand to dictate the price of goods and the rate of wages in a given economy. It’s definitely a well-tuned machine (although as seen with the Great Depression and the current economic crisis, things certainly can go wrong), and it has helped to lead the Western world into an era of prosperity and technological advancement that might not have been possible under any other system. However, as I got to thinking about this, I realized that the system of capitalism relies on a large base of unemployed and/or poor people. Why is this? Well, first of all, unemployment is necessary in order to keep wage rates down – people will be content to work at a lower rate if they see that others around them aren’t working at all. Similarly, poverty is used as a “disposable” task force that can be exploited for cheap labour. As seen with issues of child labour, sweatshops, etc., when people are destitute, even being paid pennies an hour in miserable conditions is better than nothing. Thus, it seems that the capitalist system relies on both of these groups of people in order to provide the wealthy with their wealth. It’s much like a huge pyramid scheme, to be honest.

Now, at this point, you might be asking whether I’ve gone communist. And the answer is no. I think communism has its own problems, one of which is an inherent inefficiency brought about by a centralized planning structure (the free market is able to adjust itself to changing demands at a much quicker rate than a system of government bureaucrats). Another is that I think it simply misunderstands human nature – without competition, the drive to innovate and work hard is much reduced. So I don’t think communism, or its relative socialism, offers a much better solution. Nevertheless, I think communist thinkers such as Marx and Engels had some pretty good criticisms about the capitalist economic structure. But let’s just deal with capitalism for now, and see if it can be “fixed”, and then if not, we can try and see if there’s any other system that might do better.

The problem that I see is that the capitalist structure is too good at readjusting itself. I tried to come up with different scenarios that might try to redistribute wealth and opportunity more equally, and in every case it seemed that it was able to reassert itself. But let me back up a bit. Picture in your mind a pyramid shape. Divide it into three sections – the tip at the top is the “upper class”, then below it is the “middle class”, and below that is the “lower class”. This may not be exactly the right ratio between the three, but I think it’s a good enough approximation. In North America, the rich are few, and we have a large middle class, but if you extend it into a global economy, I think it’s easy to see that the poor vastly outnumber the other two classes. Anyway, we can also use a pyramid shape to symbolize the distribution of resources – only this time, it is inverted. The rich have the majority of the resources, and the lower class the least. This, of course, right off the bat does not seem fair, since one would imagine that the largest class should have the largest amount of resources. But here we go. My strategies attempted to find a way to distribute the resources more equally, and at the same time, distribute people more equally amongst the other classes. (This can be done at the same time, of course, because the classes are largely based on how much money they have – so a poor person who gets a large sum of money suddenly moves up in the class structure. As you even out the resources, you automatically even out the classes.)

Like I mentioned, however, it seems that the structure is very good at reasserting itself. I’ll give you a couple examples of what I tried. First off, an easy one – taxing the rich and giving to the poor. This seems fairly straightforward, except that as the lower class gets more money, they are now able to buy more goods. This increases employment (more demand for goods leads to greater production), but also increases the price of goods (because of greater demand for goods). Of course, the upper class tends to dominate the ownership of business, so as the lower class spends their money, the profit goes right back into the pockets of the rich. In simpler terms, all that’s occurred is that the rich have lent money to the poor – at interest. Thus, the pyramid structure reasserts itself.

Let’s take another example. I thought that perhaps some method of reducing the population of the poor might work. (Please note that since I’m trying to work out issues of morality, I’m not advocating any sort of “euthanizing the poor” program. Providing easier access to condoms and education on their proper use might do the trick – considering that the wealthy typically already have lower birth rates, this type of program would mostly target the lower class. But for my purposes, the actual method is irrelevant.) This way, the base of the pyramid would shrink, providing for a more uniform distribution of resources. Unfortunately, this idea does not work either. With fewer people to produce goods cheaply, the price of goods would increase. As well, without a base of unemployed people, the bargaining power of labourers would decrease – employers could pay less for the same amount of work. These two effects working in tandem essentially just push the middle class downward, creating a new base of low-income workers and unemployed people. Again, the pyramid structure reasserts itself.

Perhaps these models are a bit simplistic, and perhaps I’m forgetting some crucial variable that would lead to a more equitable distribution of resources and opportunities. But somehow I don’t think so. It seems as though the self-correcting nature of the capitalist system ensures that the pyramid structure stays in place. There may be methods of at least producing a narrower pyramid, but it seems that under a capitalist economy, the poor are an inevitable fact of life.

So let’s get back to the issue of moral obligations. Can a person be morally obligated to help the poor when the issue cannot be resolved? Sure, I suppose he could assist an individual or two – but what seems to be the case is that helping one person out of poverty will simply end up pushing another person into it. So it seems that even in the individual case, the moral action may be counteracted by a corresponding immoral action. It seems our efforts get us nowhere. Within the existing structure, I am not sure that we can have a moral obligation to help others.

I should point out that this includes both “handouts” as well as attempts at producing self-sufficiency. The fact of limited resources, limited job availability, and market forces pretty much rule out both options. We can give a poor person a job, but there are really only so many jobs to be completed. And if we were to give everyone even menial make-work jobs, market forces would push wages so far down that it would make no difference (or in countries where minimum wage laws are in effect, it would end up pushing companies out of business). Certainly there is some room for innovation – maybe we could help the lower class to come up with novel ideas for businesses that would increase their ability to provide for themselves. Unfortunately, market forces also tend to rule this out as well. Businesses rise and fall, but the one overriding factor in a capitalist economy is a push toward greater efficiency. Businesses always try to do more with less, and if they do not do it successfully, they go out of business. Allowing the poor to create their own businesses might work for some, but these only tend to replace other businesses that are not producing goods as efficiently.

I know that saying all this is quite depressing. My last post was all uplifting and inspiring, and this is just the opposite. If anyone has any ideas of where I might have gone wrong with this analysis, I’d be glad to hear about it. But if I’m right, then it essentially erases any obligations we might have in a capitalist society. But what about in other types of societies?

There are essentially two options here. Either there is an economic structure that allows for resources to be distributed more equitably than capitalism, or there is not. These could include ideas that people have already come up with, or it may be a structure that no one has ever even thought of before. But those are our two options. If there is no better system, then our obligations can only lie in trying to come up with the formulation of the capitalist system that best distributes things equitably. It won’t be perfect, but it will have to do. We can try to narrow the pyramid as much as possible, but then stop fighting the inevitable and simply let things be what they are (although I suppose that charities, as much as they may not actually be effective in the long run, are at least providing jobs for people…). If, however, there is a system that is better than capitalism, then I think that our moral obligations lie in finding it, researching it, and implementing it. Systemic change may be difficult, but it’s been done before, and it can be done again. If there truly is a better system, it must be done. To do otherwise would be immoral; we would simply be perpetuating an inferior system that leaves the poor worse off than they could be.

So, after thinking about economics and capitalism and such, that is my conclusion. Our moral obligation lies in investigating economic systems that may work better than capitalism. It’s really not much of an answer, I know. It seems pretty strange, actually. But if improvements are possible, then we should make them. Perhaps this is more of a societal obligation than a personal one, but at any rate, it’s an important goal that should merit greater discussion.

Anyway, for now, it’s time for me to stop thinking about economic systems. It’s making my head hurt.

13 responses to “Capitalism, Class Structure, and Change”

Gandolf

Massive post Jeff i like the idea of looking for better inovative possibilities.But i understand what you say about how it can make the head hurt.But still like you say a patch system, really changes little.It means there will always be a never ending battle to fight.

Just wanted to double check if what you wrote here is what you were really thinking.

"Unfortunately, this idea does not work either. With fewer people to produce goods cheaply, the price of goods would increase. As well, without a base of unemployed people, the bargaining power of labourers would decrease – employers could pay less for the same amount of work. "

I might have missed something Jeff, but i was wondering, maybe with the unemployed people becoming "more scarce",then wouldnt employers be forced to bargin offerings of more pay to workers to leave their jobs they already have,to come and work for them instead and receive pay rises for agreeing to do so.

Here in NZ a few years back there was so few unemployed because of a capitalist type boom and workers were often tried to be poached by other employers by often being offered better money by employers looking for more employees to meet demands.Yes the price of goods did increase during this period.

feeno

'Sup Jeff and G

We first must realize that many if not most of the "poor" folks are just fine and dandy and happy to be where their at. Here in the US even our "poor" are part of the wealthiest 5% in the world. Poor is relative and is more of an attitude than a reality. However, and I know you both agree it is those who go hungry and live at risk from lack of medicine, water and shelter that our attention should be focused on. So I'm really saying that once again I agree with what you write here and it is a "massive" post. But those of us with houses and computers probably don't know a whole lot about being poor? Times are tough, yet I spend $160.00 on my daughters basketball shoes and sweat pants. I wonder how many hungry could eat for $160.00? Where do we draw the line? I don't have answers for these tough questions. What do we do?

Peace Bro's, feeno

Jeff

Hey Gandolf,

Actually, I think you're right. I think I messed up the analysis in that example. Since the supply of workers is decreasing, the "price" of wages would increase. However, like I said, the price of goods would also increase, especially since businesses now need to pay employees more. So I think it would tend toward equilibrium in the end, where employees may get paid more, but then they must also pay more for goods as well. It might lead to some improvement since it would give more bargaining power to the lower classes, but it certainly isn't a final solution. I'll have to think about that scenario a bit more. Thanks for the correction!

Hey feeno,

It's true. A lot of the poor live in societies where money is not seen as so critically important. They've learned to structure themselves around family, friends, mutual benefit, etc. And I think that's something we should learn from. I don't know which led to which – whether poverty led to a decrease in importance on wealth, or whether a decrease in importance on wealth led to poverty – but I think you're right in saying that some of these poor are happy where they are. Sometimes we stick our hands where we don't belong, and in areas that we know little about.

At the same time, obviously if there is a solution to the problems of starvation, lack of adequate medicine, etc., our moral instincts urge us to find it and implement it. But maybe we could learn a thing or two from those other societies that don't care about buying $160 shoes 🙂

Gandolf

Yes Jeff the price of goods do go up.However i will say i noticed it was very different at that particular time of the mini boom,in that there was many many more options open during this period for good job prospects and for people to make real headway.

And though yes prices of food went up also the chances were still there for people to do stuff like grow some of their own food or buy wholesale in bulk with other families to cut these costs.Like bulk buying meat for the freezer.

I agree and also feel there is much to learn from those who have learned to structure themselves around family, friends, mutual benefit, etc.

Trouble is thats a type of socialism isnt it,so always seems to get connected to communism.

Do you think capitalism and materialism maybe might go hand in hand together?.

In dictionary it is suggested materialists deny the existence of spirit,and its even linking it to marxism. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/materialism

Seems to me a fair few christians seem to be pretty capitalist types and into materialist posessions.

Older tribal societys always seemed more like socialism non materialist and of family/communism type orientation to me…That is until religion often moved in and invaded them,often doing the split and divide thing of the tribal family/community as they went along.Those agreeing to be within church circles,soon became thought different to any that were not.

What better base exists for promise of a capitalistic society,than having folks often indoctrinated to believe a higher worth exist than the original family/tribe.A population willing for gods to divide like a sword turning son against father and daughter against mother if need be to see that the object be completed.

Thats when materialism sits better doesnt it?…And capitalism.

Its a tough thing to completely understand how our societies exist and what really works or doesnt work etc.

feeno

Gandolphski

I would have to check my notes but I think it was Pliny or Lucian who actually poked fun at Christians because they were generous to a fault. Many people took advantage of the early church because of their methods of helping one another out?

I believe you can be both a Capitalist and still be very generous.

Having said that I don't believe it matters to God what type of Governments we live under. Socialidsm, Communism, Capitalism or even a Monarchy. God only looks at a individuals heart. We are only gonna be held accountable for what we do. Not what our church or Govt. believes or does.

You said " It's a tough thing to completely understand how are societies exist and what really works or doesn't work etc." : True, how very true.

Later G

feeno

Gandolf

"I believe you can be both a Capitalist and still be very generous."

Hey feeno hope alls well.

Yeah some capitalist are generous.But i think Jeffs exercise is to look to see if there is a system that could better help individuals ALL look after themselves a little better.

Im not so sure but still it could be possible that just maybe capitalism isnt necessarily the best system just because it allows certain people to get rich,and some then maybe decide to be generous.Maybe we need to be looking for whats the best system over all feeno,i mean just because capitilism allows some christians to do charity maybe doesnt simply prove its the best thing for us all does it?.

Yes maybe its great if Christians are always as generous as you suggest,but that generosity is only really a slight of hand if its the same system these very same christians all vote for, which actually helps keeping many people more poor and more needy in the first place.

Thats like allowing a system thats great for fleecing folks!,so some folks can get rich and then maybe turn around and decide to give some of the spoils back saying oh looky at me aint i so wonderfully great!, i go to church and do charity.

What i mean is if possible it would be much better to have less people needing to rely on charity.Because like Jeff said there is never enough charity to go around!,and the need is like a never ending endless pit.

And anyway most people feel better about themselves if they are ALL able to properly provide for their own families themselves!!,rather than lining up for extra money tokens at welfare departments which are designed to need thousands of people to run them costing mega.Or feel beholden to charity.

"poked fun at Christians because they were generous to a fault. "

Well i can only go on what ive noticed.And i noticed both in the religious cult i came from, and in the world outside,i noticed in reality ongoing christian charity often also depended a lot on how much fame was to be gained.Or depended a lot on how likely it was, you were going to agree to be converted to the particular faith.

And the thing is there once used to be a number of tribal countries that obviously once used to survive quite well on their own types of socialist socieitys,these societies had community based systems with people pitching in and they mostly seemed to do ok.They had lived this way for many years.And these people didnt base their love of life much on materialism.

Next thing many others then invaded them, put capital systems in place!,faithful folks indoctrinated and split and divided many of them with all the different religions,and the original traditional social attitudes soon slowly deminished more and more.Now they also have the drunks thiefs prostitutes violence poverty, and now they also NEED charity just to survive.

But yeah feeno maybe we have some generous christian too.I guess it depends on where you place your values.I mean i notice you kinda keep reminding me that there is (some) wonderful christians in this world,like as far as you are concerned thats all that matters the most.

Its like you state Gandolf my church dont split families,as if that simply cancels out all the christians worldwide that have split many familes.

However i fail to see how that makes up for my family and so very very many other families worldwide having their families demolished by others of the same type of faithful folk.But to be honest not that im about to bank on any honest generosity of any faithful type person to really honestly think deeply enough little own really care a whole lot about it in any real depth.

So yeah not sure if you understand me any better?.But im saying sure its real nice and cosy your particular group of christian friends are nice and its great many christians might be generous etc.

But just because there is some good parts about a system,in my opinion i cant see that that proves anything about it actually being the very best system available for the majority of people over all.

Jeff

Gandolf:

The problem with the term "materialism" is that it gets used in very different ways, and the two are not connected at all. In philosophy, materialism is all about matter and energy being all there is – in other words, no supernatural, no soul, etc. In economic terms, however, materialism is about the acquisition of wealth and pursuing money as the ultimate goal. So definitions 1 and 2 in the dictionary are not at all related. Marxism I suppose is the only real place where they do connect, but that's only because Marx was a materialist in both senses…

But anyway, I think you're certainly correct that there are many materialist Christians (in the economic sense), and they tend to be capitalist, but you've gotta remember that North American values as a whole are materialistic and capitalist. I think you'd find just about as many atheists in North America that are both as well, and there are surely many Christians (and atheists) outside of N.A. that wouldn't classify as either.

In regards to tribal societies, I think you're right that they could be classified as "socialist" or perhaps even "communist", but I don't know whether religion was responsible for destroying that. I am not a historian, but remember that religions for a long time were tribal religions. If you're talking about something more along the lines of "organized religion", then perhaps it works better, but I really don't know whether that's the case. If I had to guess, I'd say that likely a bigger factor would have been increased trade and the rise of the "merchant class." Whether religion played a role in that, I really don't know.

feeno:

Yeah, probably back in the day, Christians were pretty nice. Doesn't mean that it stayed with them throughout the centuries lol.

Anyway, yeah, it's certainly possible to be capitalist and generous. Like Gandolf points out below, what I'm really trying to look at is the social structure and whether changing it can improve conditions as a whole. People can be generous in any economic system, but if their generosity doesn't actually end up doing anything, then perhaps it's better to put that money to some other use.

However, the idea that God doesn't care what type of government we live under seems to be an attempt to remove your own responsibility for the system. Certainly we can't all be president of the United States and change everything, but to me, it seems that living within a corrupt system without saying/doing anything would be an implicit endorsement of that system. I would tend to say that it becomes a personal responsibility, something that God would hold people accountable for (if he were around to hold them accountable 😛 ). I don't think we can write it off that easily and just say, "It wasn't me!"

Gandolf again:

Exactly. If we look at the system in terms of, say, efficiency, maybe it's a bit clearer. So say for example that capitalism ends up with 50% poor people, and communism produces 70% poor people, but some new economic system produces only 20% poor people – the best choice is clearly the new system. I'm not saying it's at all that simple, since these are complex structures that also fluctuate over time, but in theory, that's the general thing I'm going for. What will result in the fewest number of people living in poverty, and after that, what will result in the greatest amount of human advancement and comfort.

feeno

Jeff

W'dup? Yeah, I wasn't really endorsing any system, if anything I was endorsing all of them. I guess it's how people look at things? Because I wasn't trying to dodge responsibility for anything either? But "if" there is a God, do you think he cares what system you are living under? I'd say of course not.

Later Holmes, feeno

Jeff

Hey feeno,

Oh I know you weren't necessarily endorsing any specific system. But I still tend to disagree that if God existed, he wouldn't care what system we lived under. Let's say that capitalism inevitably brings oppression and poverty. I would think that by living within that system, if we don't somehow try to change it, we give at least some measure of endorsement of it.

Think about people who lived back when slavery was still around. These people lived within a system that endorsed slavery – and most of them likely saw it as just "the thing to do". We can't fault them for that, I don't think. However, let's say that there was someone there who figured out that slavery was wrong. But then he just continued to live his life. Maybe he chose not to own any slaves himself, but said nothing to anyone else. Don't you think that he should at least be held somewhat accountable for not even speaking out against it?

Ultimately, I care very little what God would or wouldn't think if he existed. I mean, it only matters if he does indeed exist. But saying God wouldn't hold us accountable for oppression is a little like the Nazis in the Nuremburg trials whose defense was, "We were just following orders." Of course, I'm honestly not trying to compare you to the Nazis. Don't get me wrong here lol. I'm just saying that if we are inclined to hold them accountable for the injustices done within their system, we should likely hold ourselves responsible for the injustices done in ours. And if God is a perfect judge, I would think he would feel the same way. But ultimately that's just speculation 🙂

Gandolf

Jeff –>"But I still tend to disagree that if God existed, he wouldn't care what system we lived under. Let's say that capitalism inevitably brings oppression and poverty. I would think that by living within that system, if we don't somehow try to change it, we give at least some measure of endorsement of it."

Hi Jeff yes i agree. In my opinion that stands to reason,reason as in the type we use in life most often when working out what would be most likely.Reason outside of religion that is!,where we dont just make up answers so anything and everything we have faith in gets to seem to be ok.

But when indoctrinated into religion often reason and logic get left at the church door.From there on in your brain needs to be filled with a warm fuzzy feeling of being very careful of not reasoning or worring to much about logic with anything that threatens the faith belief.The number one prerogative must be,secure folks continued faith at all costs!.

If some folks must also (unreasonably) suffer through a system co endorsed by faithful folks,so be it!..Who said religion was based on (reason)? ,religion deals in faith!..

So sadly i dont think explaining these things to religion is very effective Jeff.Its hard to teach a brain, that for thousands of years has already decided there is really nothing more to learn.Its a lot like trying to push shit uphill.

No my opinion is, all hope of any real chances of change lays in the youth and future education of young people.These days i often see signs of many youth of today thinking far far ahead of their own age group.

One reason im sure is because of the level of education has become better and has been made to be more available.Education has become compulsery,and mostly now its illegal for folks of faith to not allow their children to learn.

The other reason i think is it comes down to the FACT it IS the youth who will be the ones (needing to try to continue to exist in a future),naturally becoming far more and more knowledgeable as they realize more and more these days how important these things are…They know that things cannot afford to be unreasonably left up to faith, gods etc,….and the purposeful non use of reason or logic anymore…The (future of the youth) is whats at stake here and they can see it much easier now!!,so naturally youth of today have become much more interested in these matters…They have to!,when many of the elders dont seem to really care.They have to!,when many elders have traditionally just floated along in a big day dream like hipppys on the L.S.D of the faithfulness of gods, not bothing to think about these things like they should really be if they honestly cared.

Gandolf

The biggest problem i see, is the power of youth and humanity not having the ability of evolving fast enough!, to be able to be sure to catch the bus ontime.

I certainly see how a religiously based world faithfully believing in supernatural gods who can supposedly create (new worlds) at will and whim,has helped create a sleepy type mentality of elders who seem to care little about what they do here on this earth and in turn will then be leaveing behind for their own children on this planet too.Who seem to care little if the systems in place actually help rape and pillage and pollute the same land and air and water their own grandchildren will someday need to try to continue to survive in.

If pressed on the matter many tend to throw their hands up in the air and if it still worrys them to much,just start shouting la la la la la …i cant hear you …or waffle on with some silly word game and beat around the bush with answers of little thought!. To hopefully try and confuse matters so the discussion just hopefully disappears, so there is then no need to think to much more about it anymore…..So then they can just simply get back to the old blissful thoughts of "their" supposed heavenly afterlife

Sadly humanity has become quite selfish and unthoughtful in some ways

Jeff unfortunately i cant see its ever going to likely be any real easy fix,in the long road ahead.But still thats not good enough reason to give up all hope is it.

Jeff

Hey Gandolf,

You bring up some good points, I think. Reason and rationality is one of our most important tools for solving problems, and when it gets pushed away (no matter how or why), it only makes things worse. I have to make a slight restriction to what you said in terms of religion and reason – I don't think that they're necessarily "leaving reason at the door", so to speak. I think it's more of a prohibition on challenging a set of core assumptions. As long as you don't challenge those ideas, you're free to use your reason to draw conclusions from them: so "If God exists, then what?" I think that it probably gives people much more satisfaction of feeling like they're actually somewhat figuring things out themselves (or having them "revealed" by the Holy Spirit) rather than sitting passively and being told what's what. But at any rate, that's a minor point I think 😛

I do agree that probably our best hope lies in today's youth. I know maybe I'm somewhat biased, being a young person myself, but as far as I can see, my generation has been drawn towards social activism unlike many other generations. Perhaps it started with the previous generation back in the 60s but the number of youth volunteering and giving their time and money and effort towards effecting change is huge…it's encouraging to see. Whether that ultimately makes any difference whatsoever is another matter, but hope is powerful.

At the same time, though, there are plenty of youth that have also been caught up in the traditional "consumer mentality" where they live in their own bubble. I think that moral education needs to play a much larger role in today's school system, because I don't think that kids are being taught how to properly think things through in a larger moral context. In the past, that's been religion's job, but it is possible to do the same without it – it's just a skill that needs to be taught.

I actually just recently finished a paper on Sigmund Freud (for my ridiculous Psych. of Religion class), and in "The Future of an Illusion" he mentions that what needs to be done is to separate morality from religion. The "common people" rely on religion to tell them what to do, so to take it away from them could have disastrous consequences. But what he pointed out was that we do have reasons for these moral rules, and they are entirely social in nature. I mean, philosophers haven't been using religion to solve moral dilemmas for at least a few hundred years now, but that hasn't really trickled down into the general population. By educating youth to actually work out solutions to these moral problems themselves, the decline of religion without a subsequent loss of communal identity can be softened. Instead of retreating into the "me only" world, they can still understand that their actions have effects on others.

But anyway, that was somewhat of an aside. There is much that is wrong with this world, but I still haven't given up hope in the ability of humanity to triumph over its problems. "The audacity of hope," as I suppose Obama would say lol. It may take us a while, but I still believe we can figure some of these things out.

Gandolf

Jeff –>"I think it's more of a prohibition on challenging a set of core assumptions"

Yes Jeff thats more what i was thinking.

With this immoral problem within some youth,well maybe the breakdown of the family/tribal/community unit,also hasnt helped much.

Morals maybe used to often also be learned through humans being closer to each other in a group sense.You learned them because in old type closer knit groups, to get along with people of all ages and differences , you needed to learn morals.

Now with the big devisions within society people are not so close and so not so likely to learn these things either, that once used to help us all live together very closely.

Jeff –>"but as far as I can see, my generation has been drawn towards social activism unlike many other generation"

Less choice has played a big part.Less choice in the sense that sadly its become more and more obviously clear the youth will need to (have to) be the ones to take more interest in these matters.

There is not such as much choice of whether youth wish to become involved in thinking about these matters…Its become not so much about choice,but more about importance and matters of future survival.

I think its a survival trait type thing clicking into motion.The kids look around and see global warming and start understanding early that the adults have not really bothered to worry enough about these things in the past.The youth have simply realized its sadly going to be more up to them to think about how these big messes can maybe be dealt with.

Its a mode of survival swinging into action.

And to be honest as an adult im a little ashamed that many of these problems that have been mounting for many years now …Are now having to be worried about and fixed by our youth.

We adults of the past have been like kids that like having a party,but didnt care to like to think enough about how to fix the damage.

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