Struggling with Equality

Here’s something you may already know if you have some knowledge in the social sciences:  Certain criteria must be met for a society to be considered “civilized.”

Government, a given, is required to keep social order.  Some argue that a religion is also necessary to explain the way of the world, but it isn’t required.  A system of writing for recording things such as government records, historical events, diaries, and works of fiction is crucial.  Fiction ties into the next one, the need for arts and architecture.  A society’s art and architecture express its values in a creative way, and reveal what the society thinks is beautiful and strong.

There are several other less obvious characteristics of civilization, but the one that strikes me as the most important (and somewhat disturbing) is the necessity of social classes.  Today in America there are distinct classes–upper, middle, and lower, based on income.  It’s a bell-curve, with most of the population falling somewhere in the middle.  Classes don’t have to be based on money; in older societies class was determined by social status, which was determined by one’s job.  Government officials were at the top, followed by artisans, merchants, peasants, farmers, and slaves.

Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)
Image via Wikipedia

Conceptually, social classes can be broken down into two realms: those with power and those without it.  The government will

always be on top.  The other social classes organize themselves according to a society’s values and ideologies.  This shows that in order to be “civilized,” a society needs to allow itself to be ruled.  This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it means that ideas of equality from great thinkers such as Karl Marx might be pure idealism.

So, government is necessary for structure, and inequality is necessary for stability.  I’m totally not against government, but as a person with liberal beliefs it saddens me to think that some people will always be socially “better” than others.  I do believe that no person is really “better” than anyone else.  Because of this, I sometimes become skeptical of those who are in positions of power.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

This is why I believe in democracy.  No one is better than anyone else, so no one person should have absolute power over everyone else.  Even though social differences exist in democracy, it allows everyone’s voice to be heard.  I’m not trying to preach about government…but given that a completely equal state may be impossible, a political system that involves all people the best it can is the best bet.  We are equal, yet we must be unequal.  Chew on that…

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Why I Love Allegories

Allegory |ˈaləˌgôrē|
noun ( pl. -ries)
a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

Out of all the forms of writing I’ve come to appreciate, my absolute favorite is the allegorical novel/novella. I particularly enjoy pessimistic ones, which might possibly be reason for concern, but I guess I’m one of those people that likes to get freaked out. I love it when everything finally “clicks.” I’ll have finished reading an amazing book, and I’ll suddenly realize, “Hey! The author is telling me that people are generally bad and not even society’s conditioning can change it!” or, “Remind me again why I trust politicians?” or even, “I need to reassess my life because I’ve obviously been living in the dark all this time.” Knowing that you figured out the author’s hidden message feels so awesome!
I actually believe that almost every story is an allegory in some way. It may not be obvious or even significant, but somehow it is. As human beings, even our wildest imaginings are inspired by real things or concepts, so it is impossible to write a fictitious work without any trace of real-world inspiration or personal meaning. That’s how I see it, anyway.
I think the main reason allegories appeal to me so much is that many of them act as prophecies or warnings of possible futures. As I once remarked in an English paper, “we are living in the sequel.” The author of the allegory is almost challenging us to do better than his/her characters did, to prove them wrong…
Cool, right?

“Beware the Demon of Party Spirit”

Beware the Demon of Party Spirit

I know this sounds totally “school paper”, but I really like this essay about the evils of political parties.  This may spark a little controversy, so comment!  Oh!  And just so you know, I am NOT an anarchist, I just think the idea of political parties is wrong.

As one of our most successful presidents, and certainly our most monumental, George Washington ended his term with a warning: “Beware the demon of party spirit.”   Even as early as the 1780s Washington predicted how polarized politics would become, and knew that our government must stay off the dangerous divided path in order to succeed.  Today, our government sees more and more party conflict everyday, and it can only get worse.  There’s nothing wrong with varying political views, but parties are bad because the dominant ones have too much power, they force people to conform, and they distract people from what they need to be doing to help our country.

When answering the question, “What party are you?” most people respond by saying they’re either a Democrat or Republican.  These parties have the greatest influence on politics today, and since their views are drastically different, our government becomes more polarized every day.  Politics has reached a point where only a presidential candidate of one of these parties could possibly win.  Since not everyone agrees with either of these parties, this doesn’t seem fair.  There are hundreds of political parties in the United States, and though many are similar, the balance of power isn’t equal.

By deciding you belong to a party, you are allowing yourself to be politically stereotyped.  For example, all Republicans are expected to be pro-life and anti-gun control, and Democrats visa-versa.  Everyone has an opinion on controversial issues such as these, but depending on a person’s situation they may not fit into one of these molds.  People shouldn’t need to worry about being loyal to a party, and should vote with their own best interest in mind.

The biggest issue with our current party situation is politicians’ decisions being based solely on what a normal member of their party would do, and not thinking about the country as a whole.  Of course there are exceptions to this, but for the most part a politician will never vote in favor of another party.  Because of this many great ideas thought up by members of all parties are shot down all the time.  Imagine where our country could be today if political parties had never existed.  Perhaps we’d be in better economic condition?  Have a more effective government?  Or at least a more unified one?  The mere existence of parties encourages a division of government that will ultimately cause it to fail in the future.  If we hope to succeed as a nation, we must first agree to disagree, but still move forward.

As we progress, our leaders make bigger decisions.  We cannot afford to separate ourselves and fight red versus blue, especially when the problems get bigger and the solutions get more critical.  There is no such thing as true neutral, and conflict will always exist. That being said, we need a balance of power that reflects the views of everyone, and a government made up of individuals (not stereotypes!).  Politics has become a war, so it’s time we return to status quo antebellum.