I agree with you that forced 'equality' is not real equality - but there's another way of looking at this issue too: a society could exist that provides everyone with the same starting opportunities (truly the same opportunities - all children are assured a nutritious diet and good health, are brought up in safe, enriching environments, are entitled to attend equally good schools and universities, etc). It is only in such a society that what people make of their lives would truly reflect what individuals are capable of. The point is that I am not arguing for forced 'equality' - if laziness and lack of input into the community are reprehensible to conservatives and liberals, these qualities are even more reprehensible to socialists (who believe that all people living within a society have obligations to do their bit for their communities).russ_watters said:No, alexandra. All capitalism claims is that the government won't interfere with your ability to succeed. And the touble with the forced "equality" (in quotes because if it is forced, it isn't real) of some systems is that success is less based on merrit if it is given by the government.
No system can be a complete meritocracy, but capitalism comes closest of any. It is the only system that allows any social mobility at all.
In the current system, which is set up to favour those who are already rich, much human potential is simply going to waste for trivial, unworthy reasons. I have taught in some very poor communities, and have had at least a handful of students who showed immense promise and went to extreme lengths to get an education, but could not even finish their high school education because of the extreme poverty they faced. I have also tutored rich kids who have not a jot of interest in their studies (despite the extra lessons) who have gone on to university and have successfully completed law degrees (taking twice as long as they should, I might add - why not, after all 'Daddy has the money!') and have been rewarded with more riches. I guess unless you have witnessed this sort of unfairness first-hand, you cannot really understand why I get so upset about it.
Not true, Russ; they're not making an effort to improve it. One of the main reasons multinational corporations shift their operations to third world countries is because in those countries they can literally get away with environmental 'murder'. Here are some references to support this last statement if you'd like to look at them:russ_watters said:There's a big problem with that line of reasoning: capitalistic societies are the only ones that are at all concerned with environmentalism. Yeah, maybe in theory people who are motivated soley by greed shouldn't care about the environment, but in the real world, capitalistic societies do care about the environment and are the only ones making any effort to improve it.
http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/tncs/2002/0911impunity.htm http://www.yale.edu/environment/publications/bulletin/098pdfs/98friede.pdf http://www.globalpolicy.org/reform/2002/modelun.pdf
Sigh - yes, I know we live in quite a desperate period of human history. But I also know that human societies change - the future is not pre-determined, it is ours to shape. We can avoid the disasters that will inevitable result from the current path we are on. That was the main principle Marx outlined, and its as true today as it was when he wrote it.russ_watters said:You too, alexandra - the principles of Marx in his book sound reasonable (sorta), but in the world we live in today, it just isn't that way.