Posh Ministers and social mobility

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  • I agree that the poshness of the current govt does matter. Before 1964, PMs were mostly from really top-drawer backgrounds - Churchill, Eden, Macmillan and Douglas-Home, whereas since then they have been from ordinary-ish middle-class backgrounds, and three of them - Heath, Callaghan and Major - were, at a pinch, from working-class backgrounds. Basically, I think that's a good thing, and we now seem to be turning the clock back 50 years.

    Having said that, I voted Lib Dem, so it's partly my fault.

    Another point, however, is that I think inequality matters more than social mobility. I.e., I think that even if, hypothetically, you had a society in which everyone had equal chances of great wealth, that would not be a good thing if some people were left very poor. I think an absolute caste-based society, with no mobility, would be less bad than that if it had no more than, say, a fivefold difference between the richest and poorest (I have heard Hindus argue that pre-British India was like this - not sure whether it's true, though). Of course, I would prefer a society with both mobility and little inequality - dream on!

    Yet another point. I'm embarrassed to say this, because it goes agaisnt what I say, but,on the whole, I'm not really all that keen on solidly working-class people. I don't know many (any?) really posh people, but I get on better with people with bit of middle-class-ness in their background.

  • it is the allowed, and usually parentally created, expectations of children that creates a perceived poverty for that generation...and it is getting worse. Too often the solution is seen as having more..not being happy.

  • So, you think private schools should exist because they've been around a long time?

    Does that apply to everything that's been around a long time?




    See below comment as I agree with that.:) I was not aware we were discussing others things that have been around for a long time so not sure the answer to that. For example I love red phone boxes and think they should stay - but no bugger uses them anymore.;)


    I tend to agree. They are part of our national culture in many ways and not some kind of inherent evil (except in the minds perhaps of those who are alienated from what actually is, so much so they forever chase "progress").



    A tradition isnt just something that has been around for a long time, its something ingrained in the national constitution. The value of this tends to depend on where you count the greater part of identity to be sited; in the individual or in the culture.

  • Is the problem the lack of social mobility, or the belief in it? :S


    Both to varying degree's... There has been a noticeable downturn in social mobility in the last 20 years (maybe more, I have read on the subject but can't be arsed with getting the data, sorry but I have the worst hay fever right now), but what we have also seen in the last 20 years is the rise of the 'celebrity', and also more TV that is aimed at 'selling' or coaxing working class people into believing they need X, Y and Z to be happy, unfourtunately most working class people cannot afford X, Y and Z, and either get themselves into hideous amounts of debt, or are left feeling that they are missing out on something they need to 'move up the ladder'. So what I am saying is that there has been a very real downturn in social mobility, but at the same time the illusion of people being able to be socially mobile has been maintained..




    Quote from Coyote

    I'm not sure its "capitalist" as much as "liberal" that leads to such...


    Why is it always either or with you? :p
    Again I would have to say it is a product of both. Although it would be handy to know what you mean by "liberal"... If you mean this in the Thatcherite sense of the word, I totally agree with you, the rise of individualism could also be a reason of the downturn in social mobility. :D




    Quote from Coyote

    Century of the Self is one of my faves :D along with The Trap :D


    :thumbup:


    Quote from Coyote

    And yes, living conditions do make a difference but we now have more luxury than the wealthy did 500 years ago :S so its more about expectations and a politics of envy...


    That is relative, it is true that the gap between rich and poor is larger than it has been for decades, not just in terms of wealth or material possessions, but in educational, housing, healthcare standards. But concurrently the poor are still heavily taxed, the price of food and fuel has risen dramatically, etc etc. Yes, in our culture we do expect to live in a certain way, most people think they need to own a car, their own home, have the clothes they like, own the books, DVDs, CD's, Tv's etc etc etc... And yes that is a lot more luxury than we had 500 years ago, and to some that is 'progress'... And yes a lot of people are envious of those who have what they can't afford. But that is very different from what we were discussing... Here's a good example, a child I know is about to start secondary school, she is in the top 2% of her class, has a reading age of 16, and is amazingly intelligent (she even understands basic statistical analysis, and can do a one-way ANOVA by hand!! :eek:). She also happens to be from a single parent household, and lives on a council estate. She is going to the school I mentioned earlier. If she manages to get her GCSE's how easy do you think it would be for her to go to a good Grammar school to get her A levels? Or further down the road how easy would it be for her to get an Oxbridge scholarship? Her chances of social mobility have been lessened already and she is only 11... :(


    Quote from Coyote

    We all do, but the leaders form a social circle that, unless we move in, does leave us disadvantaged. Which is a big part of how the Eton/Winchester/Oxbridge/StAndrews clique is inherently better placed. It is a training school for govt in many ways because it is where such circles operate.


    But isn't that part of the problem with our governments, they work within the old boys network, and ultimately protect the needs of the old boys network whilst happily shafting the rest of the population? Why should this be carried on, it is stifling Parliament. :shrug:
    We both know that there is a lot more to leading the country/being an MP than networking, and tbh networking in those circles could be learned on the job...


    Quote from Coyote

    I tend to agree. They are part of our national culture in many ways and not some kind of inherent evil (except in the minds perhaps of those who are alienated from what actually is, so much so they forever chase "progress").
    A tradition isnt just something that has been around for a long time, its something ingrained in the national constitution. The value of this tends to depend on where you count the greater part of identity to be sited; in the individual or in the culture.


    I don't think I would have as much of a problem with private education as I do at present, if the education standards in this country reflected in any way those found at Eton/St Andrews. But they don't, we all know that educational standards in this country have fallen, that teachers in state schools are bound by ridiculous ciricuculms (SP?) and have shite pay, that most state schools are not funded enough.
    It used to be tradition for those of working classes to use the servants entrance, to bow their heads when seeing those of a higher class. It used to be tradition for us on a Sunday to either be in church or practising archery, it used to be tradition for woman to be subservient to their men... We abandoned these traditions in the name of progress and our 'cultural identity' has not been detrimentally affected... So what is so wrong about leaving the means to this elitism that still exists in our educational system... Why should it be deemed as part of our culture to be able to buy a decent education, shouldn't that be available to all who wants it?

  • Why is it always either or with you? :p

    You mean like saying "its capitalism" :pp;)


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    Again I would have to say it is a product of both. Although it would be handy to know what you mean by "liberal"... If you mean this in the Thatcherite sense of the word, I totally agree with you, the rise of individualism could also be a reason of the downturn in social mobility. :D

    Capitalism is the means but its not the only potential one. Liberalism is the motivator though; Liberal meaning where identity is located primarily in the individual, that societies form in order to protect the individual's ability to express that identity so long as it does not interfer with any other individuals ability to do so, and where the state is servant to this. This creates an illusion of potential social mobility because on one side it promotes it (identity is in the individual and for it to "be all that it can be") whilst simultaneously engineering society to maintain all on as equal a footing as possible (as hierarchy would bestow advantage of one individual over another). Which is why I call it "dont walk, dont run". Its an intrinsic headfuck :insane: :D


    Quote

    .... that is very different from what we were discussing... Here's a good example, a child I know is about to start secondary school, she is in the top 2% of her class, has a reading age of 16, and is amazingly intelligent (she even understands basic statistical analysis, and can do a one-way ANOVA by hand!! :eek:). She also happens to be from a single parent household, and lives on a council estate. She is going to the school I mentioned earlier. If she manages to get her GCSE's how easy do you think it would be for her to go to a good Grammar school to get her A levels? Or further down the road how easy would it be for her to get an Oxbridge scholarship? Her chances of social mobility have been lessened already and she is only 11... :(

    Such is life though :shrug: Inequality is a natural state. The idea that it isnt, and indeed that it is "bad", is based on the Liberal theory I mentioned before, which contains its own contradiction :S A big part of life is coming to terms with that (which isnt helped by the social phenomenon you mention regarding false dreams of mobility).


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    But isn't that part of the problem with our governments, they work within the old boys network, and ultimately protect the needs of the old boys network whilst happily shafting the rest of the population? Why should this be carried on, it is stifling Parliament. :shrug:
    We both know that there is a lot more to leading the country/being an MP than networking, and tbh networking in those circles could be learned on the job...

    They can be learned on the job, but its a lot easier if you are raised in those circles. But a key problem is the assumption that the old boys network actually means the rest of us get shafted (which is, incidentally, the essence of the "business represents people better than government" message keenly circulated by Thatcher/Josephs/Murdoch :eek:). That is essentially class envy by the middleclasses (see above names) against the upper classes.


    Quote

    I don't think I would have as much of a problem with private education as I do at present, if the education standards in this country reflected in any way those found at Eton/St Andrews. But they don't, we all know that educational standards in this country have fallen, that teachers in state schools are bound by ridiculous ciricuculms (SP?) and have shite pay, that most state schools are not funded enough.

    That is a problem with state schools, not private education.....and we could have a HUGE thread discussing what is wrong with state education....


    Quote

    It used to be tradition for those of working classes to use the servants entrance, to bow their heads when seeing those of a higher class. It used to be tradition for us on a Sunday to either be in church or practising archery, it used to be tradition for woman to be subservient to their men... We abandoned these traditions in the name of progress and our 'cultural identity' has not been detrimentally affected... So what is so wrong about leaving the means to this elitism that still exists in our educational system... Why should it be deemed as part of our culture to be able to buy a decent education, shouldn't that be available to all who wants it?

    The problem, like I said at the beginning of this response, is that social mobility as a wide-spread phenomenon (or even potential) is based on what is, at best, an illusion (and at worst a down-right lie). Better we would be to dump it and focus on providing a decent education for the lower classes (and dumping the whole "celebrity" myth) rather than filling their heads with dreams of rising up the ranks. It is possible to rise up, and always has been, but if you make it a widespread rather than rare and occasional thing and you are coming from a stance that is set against itself. :S

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • You mean like saying "its capitalism" :pp;)


    :madlol: But in my case it's true :p


    Capitalism is the means but its not the only potential one. Liberalism is the motivator though; Liberal meaning where identity is located primarily in the individual, that societies form in order to protect the individual's ability to express that identity so long as it does not interfer with any other individuals ability to do so, and where the state is servant to this. This creates an illusion of potential social mobility because on one side it promotes it (identity is in the individual and for it to "be all that it can be") whilst simultaneously engineering society to maintain all on as equal a footing as possible (as hierarchy would bestow advantage of one individual over another). Which is why I call it "dont walk, dont run". Its an intrinsic headfuck :insane: :D


    Why did you mix civil liberties/rights with identity? Also do you assume that identity means solely 'individual'? Although you are correct that Capitalism is the means, I would say individualism is the motivator. Liberalism by your definition would not be problematic if it were not for the fact that we live in a society that has been engineered to be highly individualistic, which in turn could be said to be the necessary conditions for a capitalistic society to endure.


    Such is life though :shrug: Inequality is a natural state. The idea that it isnt, and indeed that it is "bad", is based on the Liberal theory I mentioned before, which contains its own contradiction :S A big part of life is coming to terms with that (which isnt helped by the social phenomenon you mention regarding false dreams of mobility).


    Pre WW2 children like her would have had more of a chance of social mobility, she is very gifted. Also to my mind life is not based on inequalities, we have just maintained that social cognition... Life is based on differences, it just seems that we pay more credence to ones such as whom you were born too, and how much money you can make. Rather than what real skills you have and what those skills are worth to the society we all live in. :D


    They can be learned on the job, but its a lot easier if you are raised in those circles. But a key problem is the assumption that the old boys network actually means the rest of us get shafted (which is, incidentally, the essence of the "business represents people better than government" message keenly circulated by Thatcher/Josephs/Murdoch :eek:). That is essentially class envy by the middleclasses (see above names) against the upper classes.


    I am pretty sure that we have had leaders that were not raised in those circles, it would be detrimental if it were to happen again. Can you think of one way the old boys network has helped anyone other than someone who is a member of the aforementioned network, because personally I can't think of one...I think that the people are best represented by the people, not business or the few that happen to be privileged. Like I said in my first reply to this thread, I believe we have all suffered as a result of having governments that are compromised of a homogeneous groups of people.



    Quote from Coyote

    That is a problem with state schools, not private education.....and we could have a HUGE thread discussing what is wrong with state education....


    Here's a question for you, who decides how much money is allocated to state schools? Here's a few more questions, who decides how teachers in state schools should teach? Who decides how much teachers in state schools are paid? And lastly, what kind of education do you think the people who make these decisions had?


    Quote from Coyote

    The problem, like I said at the beginning of this response, is that social mobility as a wide-spread phenomenon (or even potential) is based on what is, at best, an illusion (and at worst a down-right lie). Better we would be to dump it and focus on providing a decent education for the lower classes (and dumping the whole "celebrity" myth) rather than filling their heads with dreams of rising up the ranks. It is possible to rise up, and always has been, but if you make it a widespread rather than rare and occasional thing and you are coming from a stance that is set against itself. :S


    I can't see where you made that point, but I am all dosed up with anti-histamines so may've missed it. For the most part we are in total agreement, although with a decent education, and equal opportunity to further education it shouldn't be hard to rise amongst the ranks... because that is how it is should done, isn't it? :S What we are seeing in working class communities is disheartening, conditions were better in many ways during the 1980's, in many different ways, levels of violence on estates and anti-social families have both risen in many areas, the level of education has dropped, more teenagers drink and take drugs, more teenagers get pregnant. There has also been a rise in extremist views, all of these things could be argued to be an out come of a downturn in social mobility, the chance to 'better yourself'. If people think that all they can achieve in life is getting a council house, low paid job/benefits, because that is all your family and community has ever done, is it hardly surprising that so many do ascribe to this culture of the celebrity, etc etc. The only way we can move away from it imo is to offer the next generation very real chances of social mobility. Otherwise we could see more generations of people who are as frustrated as those who do have skills, but have not been given the opportunity to use them, or even worse not even being given a chance to develop them as a direct result of having a poor education.

  • Why did you mix civil liberties/rights with identity? Also do you assume that identity means solely 'individual'?


    Do I personally think identity is solely vested in the individual? No. Do I think it is mostly vested in the individual? No. Do I understand that in Liberalism it is vested primarily in the individual? Yes - which is the root of how liberties/rights are mixed with identity; they are based upon the principle of identity resting primarily in the individual. Shared identity, if it raises its head at all, is a minority factor in Liberalism; because Liberalism is based on Individualism.


    Quote


    Although you are correct that Capitalism is the means, I would say individualism is the motivator. Liberalism by your definition would not be problematic if it were not for the fact that we live in a society that has been engineered to be highly individualistic, which in turn could be said to be the necessary conditions for a capitalistic society to endure.

    Liberalism *is* individualistic - individualism is where it draws its notion of society from....the state being the servant of the individual that exists to protect the individuals ability to be itself.


    Quote

    Pre WW2 children like her would have had more of a chance of social mobility, she is very gifted. Also to my mind life is not based on inequalities, we have just maintained that social cognition... Life is based on differences, it just seems that we pay more credence to ones such as whom you were born too, and how much money you can make. Rather than what real skills you have and what those skills are worth to the society we all live in. :D

    Ah, I disagree here. There are some matter that are just "differences" but there are a great many inherent inequalities in life; the world does not make equal things. Liberalism seeks to construct equality (on the basis of us all being equal as individuals) but that is built on a contradiction in terms (because when it tries to maintain equality it ends up denying the individual self-expression it is based on).


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    I am pretty sure that we have had leaders that were not raised in those circles, it would be detrimental if it were to happen again. Can you think of one way the old boys network has helped anyone other than someone who is a member of the aforementioned network, because personally I can't think of one...I think that the people are best represented by the people, not business or the few that happen to be privileged. Like I said in my first reply to this thread, I believe we have all suffered as a result of having governments that are compromised of a homogeneous groups of people.

    I think we suffer more when govt seeks to make us into a single homogenous group of people (such as Thatcher or Blair sought to with the "classless society").


    Quote

    Here's a question for you, who decides how much money is allocated to state schools? Here's a few more questions, who decides how teachers in state schools should teach? Who decides how much teachers in state schools are paid? And lastly, what kind of education do you think the people who make these decisions had?

    Who decides? To a large extent, the voters; who, in a liberal democracy, need to be bribed. Resulting in cockeyed policy making to appease "the mob".


    Yes government ministers make the final decision but you have to bare in mind that the current crop have been raised in the liberal/individualistic mindset, hence making such a buggering mess. :S


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    I can't see where you made that point, but I am all dosed up with anti-histamines so may've missed it. For the most part we are in total agreement, although with a decent education, and equal opportunity to further education it shouldn't be hard to rise amongst the ranks... because that is how it is should done, isn't it? :S

    No. I think we are sold a lie that social mobility is something to even aim for. Instead take it like a gift from the blue when it does happen (which I am open to - I certainly do not believe in a rigid caste system :eek:) rather than an aim to be strived after. Its social mobility as a general value that I have a problem with, not its occasional happening. Instead encourage people to be happy with what they have instead of envious for what they do not have; leaving space for some to occasionally be plucked to higher realms, but getting rid of the insanity-bringing holding of it as a widespread cultural value.


    Quote

    What we are seeing in working class communities is disheartening, conditions were better in many ways during the 1980's, in many different ways, levels of violence on estates and anti-social families have both risen in many areas, the level of education has dropped, more teenagers drink and take drugs, more teenagers get pregnant.

    Partially through the rise in the promotion of Liberalism and it mantra of individualism.


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    There has also been a rise in extremist views, all of these things could be argued to be an out come of a downturn in social mobility, the chance to 'better yourself'.

    I wouldnt class "extremist views" as coming from the liberal society mindset of social mobility; it has more in common with pure egotism (which is basically anti-social individualism as opposed to the liberal's (at least theoretical) pro-social-individualism). But yes, mobility certainly.


    Quote

    If people think that all they can achieve in life is getting a council house, low paid job/benefits, because that is all your family and community has ever done, is it hardly surprising that so many do ascribe to this culture of the celebrity, etc etc. The only way we can move away from it imo is to offer the next generation very real chances of social mobility. Otherwise we could see more generations of people who are as frustrated as those who do have skills, but have not been given the opportunity to use them, or even worse not even being given a chance to develop them as a direct result of having a poor education.

    Ah, well this is another area we migt cross-over as I see that as coming from the attitude of economic alienation; ie, the worker alienated from the work. I dont see it in a Marxist light though (before you get all excited ;)) but rather I see the alienation coming from work seen as a means to an end (social mobility) rather than an end in itself (social participation - playing your part in a wider society in which your identity is rooted, rather than it being rooted primarily (or solely in the case of some) in the individual self).

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • Do I personally think identity is solely vested in the individual? No. Do I think it is mostly vested in the individual? No. Do I understand that in Liberalism it is vested primarily in the individual? Yes - which is the root of how liberties/rights are mixed with identity; they are based upon the principle of identity resting primarily in the individual. Shared identity, if it raises its head at all, is a minority factor in Liberalism; because Liberalism is based on Individualism. Liberalism *is* individualistic - individualism is where it draws its notion of society from....the state being the servant of the individual that exists to protect the individuals ability to be itself.


    Maybe by your definition of Liberalism, I understand the term differently. Liberalism as I see it is only attainable when we recognise our collective self/shared identity, I don't think we live in a liberal society, far from it. We live in a society where property is seen as being of more worth than the people who produce it. Yes in a truly liberal society one could expect to live live free from abuse, imprisonment, prejudice, we live in a society that supposedly upholds these values, yet when we look at it properly it is yet another illusion.


    Quote from Coyote

    Ah, I disagree here. There are some matter that are just "differences" but there are a great many inherent inequalities in life; the world does not make equal things. Liberalism seeks to construct equality (on the basis of us all being equal as individuals) but that is built on a contradiction in terms (because when it tries to maintain equality it ends up denying the individual self-expression it is based on).


    Do you believe we are all equal as individuals? Also could you give me an example of what you would define as a 'inherent inequality in life' (my head is still foggy, and I have had a sneezing attack that has lasted for two hours, so I really am not understanding what you mean :))


    Quote from coyote

    I think we suffer more when govt seeks to make us into a single homogenous group of people (such as Thatcher or Blair sought to with the "classless society").


    Also true, but it could be argued that any homogeneous group in power will try to create other homogeneous groups, as they are easier to control.


    Quote from coyote

    Yes government ministers make the final decision but you have to bare in mind that the current crop have been raised in the liberal/individualistic mindset, hence making such a buggering mess. :S


    I agree with you about the individualistic mindset, see above answers re liberalism :D


    Quote from coyote

    No. I think we are sold a lie that social mobility is something to even aim for. Instead take it like a gift from the blue when it does happen (which I am open to - I certainly do not believe in a rigid caste system :eek:) rather than an aim to be strived after. Its social mobility as a general value that I have a problem with, not its occasional happening. Instead encourage people to be happy with what they have instead of envious for what they do not have; leaving space for some to occasionally be plucked to higher realms, but getting rid of the insanity-bringing holding of it as a widespread cultural value.


    What do you mean by social mobility? I think our definitions may differ. What is being offered as 'social mobility' is nothing more than crass consumerism, and that is unhealthy and as you say not something our society should strive for. And for many families living on council estates we may as well live in a rigid caste system...


    Quote from coyote

    I wouldnt class "extremist views" as coming from the liberal society mindset of social mobility; it has more in common with pure egotism (which is basically anti-social individualism as opposed to the liberal's (at least theoretical) pro-social-individualism). But yes, mobility certainly.


    Sorry I have to disagree (*phew*), extremism stems from frustration and alienation... I think that was demonstrated quite clearly in the European elections. I think my thinking of how this is becomes clear when you read all of my posts on this thread.


    Quote from Coyote

    Ah, well this is another area we migt cross-over as I see that as coming from the attitude of economic alienation; ie, the worker alienated from the work. I dont see it in a Marxist light though (before you get all excited ;)) but rather I see the alienation coming from work seen as a means to an end (social mobility) rather than an end in itself (social participation - playing your part in a wider society in which your identity is rooted, rather than it being rooted primarily (or solely in the case of some) in the individual self).


    :panic: :p


    But didn't Marx also refer to social participation too? "The further back we trace the course of history, the more does the individual ... appear to be dependent and to belong to a larger whole.... Man is a zoon politikon (social animal) in the most literal sense: he is not only a social animal, but an animal that can be individuated only within society." (Marx, 1975)


    And yes you are right work being seen as a means to an end rather than being a vocation is also to blame, but this does not (imo) show that social mobility or the desire for it is instrumental in alienation.


    But I am going to stop there, as I feel we may have dragged this thread a bit off the beaten track... lol! :)

  • Maybe by your definition of Liberalism, I understand the term differently. Liberalism as I see it is only attainable when we recognise our collective self/shared identity, I don't think we live in a liberal society, far from it. We live in a society where property is seen as being of more worth than the people who produce it. Yes in a truly liberal society one could expect to live live free from abuse, imprisonment, prejudice, we live in a society that supposedly upholds these values, yet when we look at it properly it is yet another illusion.


    Liberalism in itself is a YinYang type thing; made up of a constant cyclic flow between classical liberalism (which emphasises the expression of the individual) and social liberalism (which emphasises the protection of the individual from other individuals). In itself though there is a constant core thoughout; that identity rests primarily within the individual and that society exists in order to protect the individual from other individuals (essentially, Hobbes' arguement for the existance of the State).


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    Do you believe we are all equal as individuals?

    No. :) We are neither equal nor are we individuals - "individual" being a independent self-contained being....which not only doesnt exist but is actually an impossiblility. The only place it "exists" is in Liberal theory.


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    Also could you give me an example of what you would define as a 'inherent inequality in life' (my head is still foggy, and I have had a sneezing attack that has lasted for two hours, so I really am not understanding what you mean :))

    We all have different levels of fitness, eyesight, intelligence, patience etc. Some are disabled, some are well above average in both body and mind. Then there is the environment they live in; some places are more fertile, some more arid. Some are more stable, some more changable. Some more temperate, and some more extreme. Equality exists nowhere in nature. It only exists in the same theory that gave us the "individual". :D


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    Also true, but it could be argued that any homogeneous group in power will try to create other homogeneous groups, as they are easier to control.

    Not always. Some consider class and geographical divide to be perfectly acceptable. The drive to create homogeneity is a perculiarly liberal thing :S


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    What do you mean by social mobility? I think our definitions may differ. What is being offered as 'social mobility' is nothing more than crass consumerism, and that is unhealthy and as you say not something our society should strive for. And for many families living on council estates we may as well live in a rigid caste system...

    By social mobility I mean class mobility (class being taken to mean widely different levels of wealth and power). I'm not one for "going into your fathers trade" being an expectation, rather I'd suggest flexibility of such within your general class. However the dream of being middle or upperclass is based upon dissatisfaction with the here and now; which is best solved by changing the here and now attitude to it, or if it is genuinely unlivable change the situation, rather than fleeing it in an individualistic escape plan.


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    Sorry I have to disagree (*phew*), extremism stems from frustration and alienation... I think that was demonstrated quite clearly in the European elections. I think my thinking of how this is becomes clear when you read all of my posts on this thread.

    And there is nothing more alienated than the egotist....


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    :panic: :p

    Its getting quite like a coalition in here :D


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    But didn't Marx also refer to social participation too? "The further back we trace the course of history, the more does the individual ... appear to be dependent and to belong to a larger whole.... Man is a zoon politikon (social animal) in the most literal sense: he is not only a social animal, but an animal that can be individuated only within society." (Marx, 1975)

    He did indeed, but I think we may be coming at it from different directions :D


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    And yes you are right work being seen as a means to an end rather than being a vocation is also to blame, but this does not (imo) show that social mobility or the desire for it is instrumental in alienation.

    Social mobility is keyed into the disatisfaction with non-vocational living; it is, to me, a twisting of the desire for a vocation that makes the mistake of using the tools of liberal mindset to shape its views.


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    But I am going to stop there, as I feel we may have dragged this thread a bit off the beaten track... lol! :)

    Well, whatsisface wanted to discuss the wider issues behind social mobility :D

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • I think there are a number of linked issues here. I am not going to get to much into the liberal v capitalism debate. The main issue that concerns me personally is that we have a ruling class instead of a meritocracy. It appeared that the old ruling class was being replaced by a metitocrary, starting with the election of the Labour government just after WW2 and this continued, very slowly, until about the 80s. The early thatcher government was all about meritocracy (although i personally disliked her policies). She had a lot of people with real world experience in her government. She herself was not realy a member of the traditional ruling class.
    Since about the mid 80s, early 90s however more and more people in government are career politicians who go to the right school, then oxbridge, where they do a politics based degree, then off to be a MP.
    I think having a ruling class can have some benefits, tbh. At times of social upheaval or threat then there can be some benefits. Because Churchill was a Toff this gave him an air of gravitas which helped hold people together in a time of danger. And of course everyone loves the queen.
    But a ruling class also becomes lazy and incompetent. The generals in WW1 were a perfect example of this. They got there job because of who they were and were so detached from the real world that they thought it would be a good idea for soldiers to walk towards the machine guns rather than running.
    This is where i see the real danger. Because George Osbourne, Dave Cameron and Nick Clegg do not realy understand the real world and have hardly any experience outside the political clique they may not make good decisions in times of difficulty (such as the next budget)


    I think the specific Left/Liberal/Right label is less important. A ruling class can exist in a capitalist state, a socialist state or a authoritarian state.

  • I think there are a number of linked issues here. I am not going to get to much into the liberal v capitalism debate. The main issue that concerns me personally is that we have a ruling class instead of a meritocracy. It appeared that the old ruling class was being replaced by a metitocrary, starting with the election of the Labour government just after WW2 and this continued, very slowly, until about the 80s. The early thatcher government was all about meritocracy (although i personally disliked her policies). She had a lot of people with real world experience in her government. She herself was not realy a member of the traditional ruling class.
    Since about the mid 80s, early 90s however more and more people in government are career politicians who go to the right school, then oxbridge, where they do a politics based degree, then off to be a MP.
    I think having a ruling class can have some benefits, tbh. At times of social upheaval or threat then there can be some benefits. Because Churchill was a Toff this gave him an air of gravitas which helped hold people together in a time of danger. And of course everyone loves the queen.
    But a ruling class also becomes lazy and incompetent. The generals in WW1 were a perfect example of this. They got there job because of who they were and were so detached from the real world that they thought it would be a good idea for soldiers to walk towards the machine guns rather than running.
    This is where i see the real danger. Because George Osbourne, Dave Cameron and Nick Clegg do not realy understand the real world and have hardly any experience outside the political clique they may not make good decisions in times of difficulty (such as the next budget)


    I think the specific Left/Liberal/Right label is less important. A ruling class can exist in a capitalist state, a socialist state or a authoritarian state.


    This raises two issues.


    Firstly, by what standard is merit to be judged against? I mean, you can have half a dozen different people with MAs in economics and experience of running business' all of whom subscribe to a different economic theory. :S Who is to say who is the right chancellor at that time? :shrug: If indeed any of them, given how flawed some economic theories have proven to be. :S


    Secondly, it begs the question of what the function of the State is. Is it to compete on a global stage, or is it to promote the nation's identity and cohesion? If the latter, then it is tradition which best serves such.


    Oh, and tangentally, in WWI the generals were faced by a form of warfare that nobody had ever experienced before, so its not really to present them as morons telling people to walk towards the guns; that was how wars had always been fought....and over 30 generals died on the front themselves (they were not all like Haig in Blackadder :D).

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • Firstly, by what standard is merit to be judged against? I mean, you can have half a dozen different people with MAs in economics and experience of running business' all of whom subscribe to a different economic theory. :S Who is to say who is the right chancellor at that time? :shrug: If indeed any of them, given how flawed some economic theories have proven to be. :S
    .


    I think this is a good question. I have been thinking about the labour leadership election. All the people in it with any chance of getting elected- the Millibands, Balls, Burnham- are career politicians- School, political degree at oxbridge, special policy advisor for political party, MP, Minister. They have all moved up the ladder in their career.
    My first reaction would be- Here we go, posh politicians with no real world experience taking over the labour party.
    But then i think. If i went to see a doctor i would not expect him to have done a "real" job before he went to Med school. Same with Lawyer and other professions. Why do we think that being a career politician is a bad thing?
    I think that i can probably explain my unease about this best by saying that people who are career politicians are at risk of putting their career and especially their party before the country at large. In the 2 (and a half) party system the parties are unlikely to disapear ever, until we change to full PR. There will always be a party of government and a party of opposition. Occasioally they will swap jobs. If a person owes their career to the party, depending on it for employment since they left Uni then they will put party before the good of the people in certain occasions.

  • Liberalism in itself is a YinYang type thing; made up of a constant cyclic flow between classical liberalism (which emphasises the expression of the individual) and social liberalism (which emphasises the protection of the individual from other individuals). In itself though there is a constant core thoughout; that identity rests primarily within the individual and that society exists in order to protect the individual from other individuals (essentially, Hobbes' arguement for the existance of the State).


    But not all forms of Liberalism are so misguided about a) nature of identity (it neither rests in the individual or the society in which the person inhabits, but rather both depending upon context); b) the nature of man. Hobbes's work was not accepted at the time as a valid source of reasoning about human nature, and it certainly isn't now... So again, you're view that Liberalism is a causal factor in the downturn in social mobility is, in my view, incorrect. For in a truly liberal society (based upon the tenants of egalitarianism) social mobility, would not only be a reality, but also encouraged.


    No. :) We are neither equal nor are we individuals - "individual" being a independent self-contained being....which not only doesnt exist but is actually an impossiblility. The only place it "exists" is in Liberal theory.


    Excuse me Mr Hobbes did you say something... lol! :pp
    "Individual" is a term that has many meanings, in the context of this discussion maybe it would be more useful to envisage "individual" as we do when describing snowflakes. Humans are amazingly complex creatures, and we do build a sense of what we see to be 'ourself', and as a result of experience, genetics, etc etc, are "individuals", it goes against basic biological/psychological/neurological thinking to say we are not. We are social mammals, which is why we are not independent self contained beings, but we are all still individuals. We accept and foster similarities to improve cohesion amongst our social groupings. I will get to equality later in my reply... :)


    We all have different levels of fitness, eyesight, intelligence, patience etc. Some are disabled, some are well above average in both body and mind. Then there is the environment they live in; some places are more fertile, some more arid. Some are more stable, some more changable. Some more temperate, and some more extreme. Equality exists nowhere in nature. It only exists in the same theory that gave us the "individual". :D


    So although you do not recognise that we are all individuals, you do accept that we have individual differences.. :madlol:


    Equality may not be anything more than an abstract concept that is highly subjective, and is not found in nature. But neither is justice, morality and a whole range of other abstract concepts that do not exists in nature. Equality is naught all else than a product of our capacity for 'higher thinking'. This higher thinking has led to thousands of years of discourse about equality, and over these years a solid interpretation of the term has been gained. And it can be said of our culture, that is a definable part of our cultural thinking, and language. When you say that equality does not exist, are you saying that all that exists is the natural world, and everything else is an illusion?


    Not always. Some consider class and geographical divide to be perfectly acceptable. The drive to create homogeneity is a perculiarly liberal thing :S


    Again I have to say that your interpretation of liberalism is what makes you think that, I on the other hand see it from a differing perspective...


    By social mobility I mean class mobility (class being taken to mean widely different levels of wealth and power). I'm not one for "going into your fathers trade" being an expectation, rather I'd suggest flexibility of such within your general class. However the dream of being middle or upperclass is based upon dissatisfaction with the here and now; which is best solved by changing the here and now attitude to it, or if it is genuinely unlivable change the situation, rather than fleeing it in an individualistic escape plan.


    Aha! You see what I mean by being socially mobile is this; the gifted amongst the lower classes being given the right tools to develop their skills, being taught subjects in state schools that could allow these gifted young people the chance of going to one of the more elitist educational facilities and being able to get job/careers that reflect their skills, like representing people within Parliament, for example. But I also agree with your views too, there should be more scope within our general class. Another thing that does need to be addressed is the cost of living, especially for those in the lower income band, in this country, as that is also a contributor in the downturn in social mobility. People do not necessarlily want to be middle/upper class, they want what they are told is middle/upper class, and are willing to ascribe to this fantasy as their reality is so fooking grim...


    And there is nothing more alienated than the egotist....


    Sorry Coyote, but as I obviously think so differently in philosophical/political terms, I cannot agree with you.

  • But not all forms of Liberalism are so misguided about a) nature of identity (it neither rests in the individual or the society in which the person inhabits, but rather both depending upon context); b) the nature of man. Hobbes's work was not accepted at the time as a valid source of reasoning about human nature, and it certainly isn't now... So again, you're view that Liberalism is a causal factor in the downturn in social mobility is, in my view, incorrect. For in a truly liberal society (based upon the tenants of egalitarianism) social mobility, would not only be a reality, but also encouraged.


    You can take a pig and call it liberalism, but that doesnt mean it is ;)


    The essence of liberalism is the individual. It is this around which identity is centred and for the benefit of which that society is formed; to better gain security for the individual, which includes of course limits on each other so that we dont get in the way of each others individual expression. Which is where egalitarianism comes in....all equal individuals entitled, by a society that exists to support the invididual, to equal support (otherwise someone gets ahead and in so doing will impede the others expression of individuality).


    The essence of liberalism is found in the US declaration of independence:


    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.


    Social Liberals place the emphasis on using the state to create equality. We usually call it "Socialism". Classical Liberals place the emphasis on independent expression of individuality. Today we call them Thatcherites. Two sides of the same coin, resting on the same basic premise of seeking to be as much of an Individual as possible which remaining part of society - once side emphasises the social, the other emphasises the individual.


    Quote

    "Individual" is a term that has many meanings, in the context of this discussion maybe it would be more useful to envisage "individual" as we do when describing snowflakes. Humans are amazingly complex creatures, and we do build a sense of what we see to be 'ourself', and as a result of experience, genetics, etc etc, are "individuals", it goes against basic biological/psychological/neurological thinking to say we are not. We are social mammals, which is why we are not independent self contained beings, but we are all still individuals. We accept and foster similarities to improve cohesion amongst our social groupings. I will get to equality later in my reply... :)

    An individual is a being that is complete in itself and independent in its existence - which is a fantasy, but nonetheless this is what an individual "is". :S


    Quote

    So although you do not recognise that we are all individuals, you do accept that we have individual differences.. :madlol:

    I accept variation but not Individuality per se. I accept that the majority of our identity is found outside of ourselves, in the greater thing of which we are part. The bit 'inside' us is the minority partner in the deal.


    Quote

    Equality may not be anything more than an abstract concept that is highly subjective, and is not found in nature. But neither is justice, morality and a whole range of other abstract concepts that do not exists in nature. Equality is naught all else than a product of our capacity for 'higher thinking'. This higher thinking has led to thousands of years of discourse about equality, and over these years a solid interpretation of the term has been gained. And it can be said of our culture, that is a definable part of our cultural thinking, and language. When you say that equality does not exist, are you saying that all that exists is the natural world, and everything else is an illusion?

    Equality cannot be made because its impossible to separate us out into the individuals we need to be in order to be truly egalitarian (which contains a level of dignity found only in independence and self-ownership).


    Quote

    Again I have to say that your interpretation of liberalism is what makes you think that, I on the other hand see it from a differing perspective...

    The question is, what is Liberalism.... ;)


    Quote

    Aha! You see what I mean by being socially mobile is this; the gifted amongst the lower classes being given the right tools to develop their skills, being taught subjects in state schools that could allow these gifted young people the chance of going to one of the more elitist educational facilities and being able to get job/careers that reflect their skills, like representing people within Parliament, for example.

    If they are able to take on the mindset needed for such a position I have no problems with them entering the ruling class; although with the caveat I mentioned before of this being a rare occurance rather than a (misleadingly) encouraged dream for more than a very few.


    Quote

    But I also agree with your views too, there should be more scope within our general class. Another thing that does need to be addressed is the cost of living, especially for those in the lower income band, in this country, as that is also a contributor in the downturn in social mobility. People do not necessarlily want to be middle/upper class, they want what they are told is middle/upper class, and are willing to ascribe to this fantasy as their reality is so fooking grim...

    Indeed.

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • But then i think. If i went to see a doctor i would not expect him to have done a "real" job before he went to Med school. Same with Lawyer and other professions. Why do we think that being a career politician is a bad thing?
    I think that i can probably explain my unease about this best by saying that people who are career politicians are at risk of putting their career and especially their party before the country at large. In the 2 (and a half) party system the parties are unlikely to disapear ever, until we change to full PR. There will always be a party of government and a party of opposition. Occasioally they will swap jobs. If a person owes their career to the party, depending on it for employment since they left Uni then they will put party before the good of the people in certain occasions.


    Indeed. This part of why I'm inclined towards a hereditary political class (as in the hereditary House of Lords) - they are in a position where they dont have to suck up to party or bribe the electorate, which frees them to act in the best interests of the nation. That doesnt mean they always wil.....but it does remove both the whip and the pleb from the situation, neither of which I consider helpful.


    In some ways, thinking more on this, what I DONT want is a professional government...as they are the ones more inclined to fiddle. I'd rather people just be caretakers of the nation.

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

    The post was edited 1 time, last by Coyote ().

  • Indeed. This part of why I'm inclined towards a hereditary political class (as in the hereditary House of Lords) - they are in a position where they dont have to suck up to party or bribe the electorate, which frees them to act in the best interests of the nation. That doesnt mean they always wil.....but it does remove both the whip and the pleb from the situation, neither of which I consider helpful.


    In some ways, thinking more on this, what I DONT want is a professional government...as they are the ones more inclined to fiddle. I'd rather people just be caretakers of the nation.


    I don't think it will ever be possible to creat a government which only thinks about the good of the whole population to the exclusion of all other motivations. Human beings have natural impulses towards selfishness for the individual, their decendants and their own social grouping, which is why a hereditary/closed ruling class will always have risks involved. History is full of examples of ruling elites that got detached from the general population and prioritised their own needs above the needs of the society. If they get to a situation where they cannot be easily removed/diluted by new blood then it comes to a revolution type situation. France, Russia, Iran are all examples of a corrupt, self serving elite which got so detached that the rest of society was forced into a revolution to remove them. All these countries then replaced the elite they had killed with an equally corrupt replacement. I think that says something about the ability of revolutionary type personalities to then shift to a administrator type role. They are not good at it. Generally their only skill is violence. Good if you want to get rid of a gready upper class, not so good if you want peaceful government.


    My comment about the first world war generals was a bit flippant but i think there is a point to be made about the ruling class in the victorian era. It did get very detached from the general population. I think most people would agree that WW1 was fairly pointless. Why did it start? Because some Archduke got shot in the balkans? I think it was more to do with incompetent ruling classes around europe being unable to do anything to stop it happening. And many millions died. The general population was so deferential and nationalistic that if you sent someone a white feather in the post they would run of to the trenches to get shot.


    So i think there is a risk in a closed ruling class being more focused on self perpetuation rather than the good of society. I think we have a risk of this happening now. Most of those in powerful positions such as MPs, top Civil servants, Judges, Buisness owners, Bankers etc appear to be becoming more detached from the general population. Most of them have come from rich families and gone to private schools. They earn more and more, compared to the average person and threaten to leave for a tax haven if they are at risk of being taxed an equal percentage as the working class person. This is a natural cycle, the rich will automatically try to provide the best opportunities for their kids. This is a genetic and emotional imperitive.

  • I don't think it will ever be possible to creat a government which only thinks about the good of the whole population to the exclusion of all other motivations. Human beings have natural impulses towards selfishness for the individual, their decendants and their own social grouping, which is why a hereditary/closed ruling class will always have risks involved. History is full of examples of ruling elites that got detached from the general population and prioritised their own needs above the needs of the society. If they get to a situation where they cannot be easily removed/diluted by new blood then it comes to a revolution type situation.


    Oh there will always be the temptation to run amok, but its less in a caretaker govt than a reform one; because the emphasis is keeping things ticking over rather than beating it into a new shape :S


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    France, Russia, Iran are all examples of a corrupt, self serving elite which got so detached that the rest of society was forced into a revolution to remove them. All these countries then replaced the elite they had killed with an equally corrupt replacement. I think that says something about the ability of revolutionary type personalities to then shift to a administrator type role. They are not good at it. Generally their only skill is violence. Good if you want to get rid of a gready upper class, not so good if you want peaceful government.

    Indeed. And this is something that gets me about the way revolutionaries are treated in modern society; wear a swastika and you are castigated, but wear a red star/hammer-and-sickle or promote the french revolution and its just accepted. Erm, hello, did we forget the way Stalin or Robespierre slaughtered thousands (in Stalin's case millions, in fact millions more than Hitler :eek:).....but I digress :D


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    My comment about the first world war generals was a bit flippant but i think there is a point to be made about the ruling class in the victorian era. It did get very detached from the general population. I think most people would agree that WW1 was fairly pointless. Why did it start? Because some Archduke got shot in the balkans? I think it was more to do with incompetent ruling classes around europe being unable to do anything to stop it happening. And many millions died. The general population was so deferential and nationalistic that if you sent someone a white feather in the post they would run of to the trenches to get shot.

    I would say that is Imperialism, which in many ways is the burgeoning of Cosmopolitian Globalism, rather than Nationalism per se.


    Quote

    So i think there is a risk in a closed ruling class being more focused on self perpetuation rather than the good of society. I think we have a risk of this happening now. Most of those in powerful positions such as MPs, top Civil servants, Judges, Buisness owners, Bankers etc appear to be becoming more detached from the general population. Most of them have come from rich families and gone to private schools. They earn more and more, compared to the average person and threaten to leave for a tax haven if they are at risk of being taxed an equal percentage as the working class person. This is a natural cycle, the rich will automatically try to provide the best opportunities for their kids. This is a genetic and emotional imperitive.

    I'm warey of Game-Theory based notions of society ;) In reality we tend to give more of a damn about people than mathematicians might understand :D More seriously (but still on the same principle) part of the problem is when you see yourself as separate from, and superior to, the nation; so the leader starts to assume the diginity of their position has become theirs personally....which is a big part of the problem now, with politics being increasingly a personal contest. :S

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

    The post was edited 1 time, last by Coyote ().