A Reasonable Left-wing Response
A Reasonable Left-wing Response
While I don’t pretend to speak for the entire left side of the political spectrum, I recently came upon a nice article which explains what the Political Right’s problem is. This article shed a nice light on the absolutely unreasonable complaints of the political right, who apparently fear social and political change that they can’t control, and resent efforts by the government to address the inequality of this society with public money. This article made it clear that for at least a large segment of the political right, they oppose a pluralistic society where the privilege of their political majority is rapidly fading, and are perfectly willing to subvert the political system of this country because they view it as the method by which people they hate and/or fear are advancing.
I would say in agreement, I would like a society which is a meritocracy. In a meritocracy, the “best” people aren’t necessarily the ones who rule. Instead, the people who are most suitable to rule are the ones that rule. When I say suitable, I mean the most qualified, not the people who can aggregate most votes. Unfortunately, that violates the principle of majority rule, but then again, our current system promotes people who are entirely unqualified to rule, like Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann into power. Had I my druthers, I would help unqualified people out of office, as soon as possible, and regardless of the outcome of elections.
I differ from the Right in terms of what I think government should exist for. Government exists to ensure that the benefits of society are enjoyed by all members of the society. How it goes about that is a matter of debate, I suppose, but leveling the playing field is a good start. I mean wiping out all arbitrary barriers to success, to give all equal access to socio-economic success, as well as political power. And once that happens, then what people do with that is completely up to them. It doesn’t mean holding anyone’s hand and boosting those who refuse to boost themselves. Instead, it means wiping out artificial barriers which prevent some people from ever reaching the socio-economic point in their entire lives that some people are fortunate enough to start at, though they may work much harder than the idle classes.
Anyone who denies that race has zero role in a person’s starting point has their head in the sand. Anyone who think that the children of poor have the same advantages, even with the meager social welfare programs which still exist in the US, as the children of the wealthy and well connected are just plain wrong. Anyone who thinks the socio-economic system in this country wasn’t created and doesn’t currently exist for the benefit of the wealthy and well connected are apologists of that system.
How we wipe out those arbitrary barriers and actually establish a genuine meritocracy, where those who work hard, no matter who their parents are, can expect that their hard work will actually pay off and they will end up governing society and living an excellent life, and those who are not willing to work though they are able to, don’t nonetheless greatly burden the rest of society with their laziness is a matter of debate. For my part, I say take apart the system we have now and redesign it without the incentive structure we currently have, which rewards those who start with the biggest portion of the pie already. Ensuring that each person starts their productive life with the same set of advantages is the key to a genuine meritocracy. I don’t mean handouts for everyone, but instead a basic standard of living for all, to free people of the necessity of biology. Wealth should not equal power anymore. Most offices should be filled by civil service tests. At that point, we can ensure that all get access to basic education, are guaranteed a job, and get access to the political system.
In other words, when all start at the same point, we can truly see who is most qualified to work: they are not the people who started ahead of everyone else, therefore finishing well ahead of everyone else. Instead, the race to finish is fair, and those who actually want it most are the ones who actually win. Then you can say those people who fail actually didn’t work hard enough for it. But you cannot say that now, anyway, because most of the people who work two jobs will NEVER get ahead. And people who are born to wealthy and well connected parents have so many more opportunities open to them than those born to poor parents. As I say: everyone may want to get to the top of the mountain, but some people start ten feet below the peak, while most of us start under a boulder at the base of the mountain. I hope to get to a society where everyone starts from about the same place, wherever that happens to be.
I call the system necessary to replace the current system “ethical socialism”. Whatever you want to call that, if you are not willing to actually level the playing field, from the beginning of someone’s productive life, and give all equal access to the benefits of a wealthy and free society, you cannot possibly talk about a genuine meritocracy. Instead, you are talking about a false meritocracy, which is actually a thinly veiled, and often racist and classist form of Social Darwinism, which protects the privilege of those who are already most privileged, and guarantees dysfunctional government because of the prevalence of demagogues who play on the fears and the ignorance of people who themselves are disempowered, resent their feeling of powerlessness, and look to blame those with even less social and political advantages than they have for their feelings of disconnectedness to the political and social structure in this country.
The people surveyed above are being used for their votes, and it is unfortunate that they have internalized this exploitation and seek to externalize the causes of their alienation onto the permanent underclass in this country. But fixing the problem will take, first, an honest assessment of what the problem is. After we make an honest assessment of our problems in this country, the solutions will become clear, and people will acquire the political will to adopt those solutions, though they may greatly upset the current power structure in this country.