Sunday, November 06, 2005

Grade 2 John

Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America & Beer at the Black Lounge

Tocqueville begins by exhorting the value placed on equality by Americans: “liberty is not the chief and constant object of their desires; equality is their idol.”  He then goes on to show that this is indeed a myth, that equality may be valued in word, but not in deed: “It is much more easy for them to admit slavery, than to allow several millions of citizens to exist under a load of eternal infamy and hereditary wretchedness.”  Also, Tocqueville’s analysis of the relationship between men and women shows misogyny and a lack of equality: “While they have allowed the social inferiority of women to subsist, they have done all they could to raise her morally and intellectually to the level of the man; and in this respect they appear to me to have excellently understood the true principle of democratic improvement.”  Just in case you missed it, he used the words social inferiority and the excellently understood principle of democratic improvement.  He is saying that women are allowed to “develop” to the level of men, but they still don’t have equality.  

In class, the educator put this social inferiority in a framework.  He said the equality was a myth, the hierarchy was now based on the economic system (as opposed to aristocracy).  The losers feel like garbage, so they oppress another group.  Hence, people labelled white trash are racist against black people.  

I personally am not winning in the hierarchy; I deal with this by demonizing the hierarchy.  Luckily, this fact does not lead me to a moral dilemma because I still think that the system will kill us all if we keep going.  Scientists have said that we are facing the 6th mass extinction in geological times.  George Bush is proposing drilling in a national park in Alaska, someone told me it would be the same thing if Encana started drilling for oil in Banff national park.  

Our economic system is based on competition; everyone has to have what their neighbour has.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and no toy was really interesting until my sister had it and I couldn’t play with it.  This led into wanting what was in the store, except then I didn’t fight the cashier for it; the method of getting what I wanted was to go to work and buy it.  Then next season the marketing department told me that what I had wasn’t the toy they were playing with anymore.  Have we in the west passed grade two yet?

Tocqueville talks about the subject in this quote: “It may readily be conceived that if men, passionately bent upon physical gratifications, desire eagerly, they are also easily discouraged: as their ultimate object is to enjoy, the means to reach that object must be prompt and easy, or the trouble of acquiring the gratification would be greater than the gratification itself.”  The key words for me are prompt and easy.  After class on Friday there was a group of people who went to the black lounge.  In the discussion we were wondering how to change people’s behaviour to be more environmentally friendly.  This led us to wonder why Wal-Mart is such a huge success (of the richest 10 people in the world, 4 are Waltons).  We came up with the fact that it is fast and easy, or “prompt and easy”.  Of course the link was made to prostitution (university students in a bar).  I like things that are fast and easy, does that make me an economic John?  

“Hello, I am in grade two and my name is John” (Western Civilization)  

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